Tanegashima Tokitaka (種子島時尭)

Tokitaka TANEGASHIMA (1528 - October 31, 1579) was the vassal of the Shimazu clan and the feudal lord of Tanegashima Island. He was the child of Masatoki TANEGASHIMA. His wife was the younger sister of Takahisa SHIMAZU.

The Tanegashima clan belonged to the Shimazu clan since the period of the Northern and Southern Courts (Japan), and Tokitaka was the 14th feudal lord of the Tanegashima clan (the lord of the island).

In 1543, Chinese ship with Portuguese merchants on board drifted down to Tanegashima Island. On this occasion, curious Tokitaka saw the power of firearm and immediately paid good money of 2,000 ryo (currency unit) for two firearms. Then, he ordered Kiyosada YAITA, a smith, to disassemble the firearm to investigate and succeeded to manufacture the firearm (The other firearm was presented to Yoshiharu ASHIKAGA, seii taishogun [literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians"] through the Shimazu clan). Based on that, firearms were called Tanegashima-ju (firearms of Tanegashima) and had major impact on the Sengoku period (period of warring states).

He joined the attack of Osumi Province following Takahisa SHIMAZU in 1555. In addition, Madame Myoren, the daughter of Tokitaka and Takahisa's younger sister, married Yoshihisa SHIMAZU, Takahisa's heir, as the second wife. Madame Myoren gave birth to the third daughter Kameju who would later become female castellan of Kokubu-jo Castle (Osumi Province). The grave and the memorial tower of Madame Myoren are extant at Honno-ji Temple in Kyoto, Fukusho-ji Temple (Kagoshima City), and the remains of Kokubun Enju-ji Temple.

On the other hand, the following episodes were also told. Tokitaka and his previously-mentioned wife were not fortunate to have any male child, so they secretly had a princess from the Nejime clan, who were fighting against the Shimazu clan in those times, to be his concubine. Tokitaka blinded the fact that he had a male child with the princess. However, it came to his wife's attention and angry wife left Tanegashima Island with her two daughters and went back to Kagoshima.

His oldest son, Tokitsugu TANAGASHIMA, succeeded the position of the family head in 1560, but Tokitsugu died two years later at the age of seven, so Tokitaka returned to the post. His second son, Hisatoki TANAGASHIMA, later succeeded the position of the family head. Hisatoki had genpuku (celebrate one's coming of age) by Yoshihisa SHIMAZU's kakan (put a crown on a young man's head on a genpuku ceremony), and later became the chief retainer after achieving many military exploits by following Yoshihisa. The Tanegashima family became the family lineage that had chief retainers for generations since Edo period.