Oct 25, 2018 - Apr 1, 2019

Library of Yanagawa Archives

Tachibana Museum

In Chikugo Province, the southern part of Fukuoka, the existence of many ancient documents is confirmed. The mission of the library is to collect, organize and preserve these valuable materials, and make them available to the public.

Biography of Rissai (Muneshige), vol.1, Takemori Tsuguyuki, 1689, From the collection of: Tachibana Museum
More than 30,000 valuable ancient documents in the Tachibana family, lord of the Yanagawa domain, were handed down to Tachibana museum. Thereafter our museum donated these documents including the national important cultural properties to the Library of Yanagawa Archive for proceeding with research and investigations   Library of Yanagawa Archives was opened in Yanagawa City, Fukuoka Prefecture in October, 1985. At present, they store more than 150,000 valuable historical materials such as ancient documents, books, armors, swords, paintings and calligraphies from the 12th century to the 20th century. This is one of the representative libraries of Fukuoka Prefecture.
Appointment letter of official post jointly signed by Bekki Dousetsu and Munetora (Muneshige), Bekki Munetora, Bekki Dousetsu, 1581, From the collection of: Tachibana Museum
The noteworthy documents
・National Important Cultural Properties: ancient documents related to the first lord Tachibana Muneshige and the successive lords of the Yanagawa domain; ancient documents related to Otomo Sorin known as a Christian daimyo (feudal lord) and history of the Otomo family; ancient document related to Takao-jinja Shrine from the 12th century to the 15th century. /・Ancient documents, arms and armors which have been handed down in the families of feudal retainers of the Yanagawa domain. /・Letters and notes by Zhu Zhiyu, a great Confucian scholar from China.
Letter of Toyotomi Hideyoshi to Ankokuji Ekei, Kuroda Yoshitaka and Miyagi Katayoshi, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, 1586, From the collection of: Tachibana Museum

Letter from Toyotomi Hideyoshi to Ankokuji Ekei, Kuroda Yoshitaka ad Miyagi Katayoshi【Important cultural property】

Aiming to conquer Kyushu island, the Shimazu army in the southern part of Kyushu went up north and besieged Tachibanayama-jo Castle which was under Muneshige’s defense. They demanded for surrender, but Muneshige refused for the sake of protecting this castle that his surname TACHIBANA derived from. He told them that the reinforcement troops of the Mori clan were coming soon and a large number of weapons from the unifier Hideyoshi had just been carried in. Then the Shimazu army began to withdraw at last. Soon, in a fierce battle, he attacked and conquered Takatorii-jo Castle that the Shimazu army defended. Hideyoshi heard of his remarkable service in the battle, and sent this letter to Ankokuji Ekei, Kuroda Josui and Miyagi Katayoshi, stating “He is the greatest warrior in Kyushu”. The letter had been kept in the Kuroda family, and later, it had been handed to the Tachibana family.

Sealed letter of granting issued by Toyotomi Hideyoshi to Tachibana Muneshige, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, 1587, From the collection of: Tachibana Museum

Sealed letter of granting, issued by Toyotomi Hideyoshi to Tachibana Muneshige【Important cultural property】

After conquering Kyushu region, Toyotomi Hideyoshi issued this letter for granting the ownership of some territories in Chikugo Province to Muneshige. This proves that Muneshige improved his position from a vassal of the Ohtomo clan to a daimyo (feudal lord), then he moved from Tachibanayama-jo Castle to Yanagawa-jo Castle.

Certification letter of guarantee for ownership of territory issued by Toyotomi Hideyoshi to Tachibana Muneshige, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, 1595, From the collection of: Tachibana Museum

Certification letter of guarantee for the ownership of a territory issued by Toyotomi Hideyoshi to Tachibana Muneshige【Important cultural property】

In accordance with Taiko-kenchi (the land survey by Toyotomi Hideyoshi) in 1595, the crop yield of Muneshige’s territory was accounted as 132,200 koku. By receiving this survey, the letter was issued by Hideyoshi to Muneshige.

Red-seal letter by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, 1593, From the collection of: Tachibana Museum

Red-seal letter by Toyotomi Hideyoshi【Important cultural property】

Muneshige joined the troops in the Bunroku war in Korea in 1592. His enormously energetic activity in the northwestern part of Seoul in 1593 causes him to be widely known in all Japan. This letter was sent from Hideyoshi to Muneshige to praise his outstanding military service in Seoul.

License of Heki school of Japanese archery, Yoshida Shigetake, 1602, From the collection of: Tachibana Museum

License of Heki school of Japanese archery 【Important cultural property】

This license was issued in 1602 when Muneshige was thirty-six years old. It is thought that he got the license from the founder of the Heki School, Yoshida Shigetake, during Muneshige’s period of not having a master due to the sanction of the Battle of Sekigahara.

Letter from Tachibana Naomasa (Muneshige), Tachibana Naomasa, 1601, From the collection of: Tachibana Museum

Letter from Tachibana Naomasa (Muneshige)
【Important cultural property】

Most of former vassals of the Tachibana family were temporarily hired by the Kato family who had a close relationship to the Tachibana family. But one of the vassals, Komono Masutoki, chose to depend on the Kuroda family. This seemed to cause distrust of Masutoki among the vassals. This letter was sent from Muneshige to Masutoki in 1601, saying that he understood Masutoki’s decision.

Certification letter of guarantee for ownership of territory issued by Tokugawa Iemitsu to Tachibana Muneshige, Tokugawa Iemitsu, 1634, From the collection of: Tachibana Museum

Certification letter of guarantee for ownership of territory issued by Tokugawa Iemitsu to Tachibana Muneshige【Important cultural property】

An ownership of territory granting letter from the shogun of the Edo bakufu was a highly significant letter for a daimyo (feudal lord) at that time. This letter was issued by the third shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu with his signature to Muneshige. A daimyo who holds a fief yielding over 100,000 koku of rice would receive a letter with the shogun’s signature. Other daimyo with less would receive a letter with a red seal instead of a signature.

Official document issued by senior councilors of the shogunate, Abe Shigetsugu, Abe Tadaaki, Matsudaira Nobutsuna, 1642, From the collection of: Tachibana Museum

Official document issued by senior councilors of the shogunate【Important cultural property】

Muneshige died at age of seventy-six in 1642. This document was issued to his son to show the shogun Iemitsu’s condolences.

Positions of attackers in the battle at Hara Castle, Unknown, 17th-18th century, Edo period, From the collection of: Tachibana Museum

Positions of attackers in the battle at Hara Castle
〔from the collection of Fukuoka pref.〕
【Important cultural property】

This is a pictorial diagram of the Shimabara War. It depicts the process from the encircling of the Hra-jo castle in 1638 to all-out attack, furthermore, the situation after the fall of the castle. In the picture, the Tachibana troops took up a position at the third bailey of the castle.

Nimai-do armour having black lacquered iyozane scales with light blue lacing, Unknown, 17th century, Edo period, From the collection of: Tachibana Museum

Nimai-do armour having black lacquered iyozane scales with light blue lacing
〔from the collection of Library of Yanagawa Archives〕

This is a two-piece cuirass armour with light blue sparse lacing. The Kusazuri tassets that protect the upper thighs have bear fur on its hem. It has been stored in a box with a battle flag and handed down in the Ono family who served the Tachibana family. The helmet for this armour also exists but it is kept in another possession.

Various colour laced shoulder guards of gold byakudan lacquered scales, tsubo-sode type, Unknown, 16th century, Momoyama period, From the collection of: Tachibana Museum

Various colour laced shoulder guards of gold byakudan lacquered scales, tsubo-sode type
〔from the collection of Library of Yanagawa Archives〕

According to the document recorded in 1778, Muneshige gave his shoulder guards to his vassal, Ono, at the military camp in Korea in 1592. This shoulder guard was owned by Muneshige, but it was found in the Ono family. It indicates that the record describes a fact.
The seven scales, coated with gold byakudan lacquer, are laced together with purple, red and white color alternately. The top-most plate is bended up like a crown and edged with ornamental rim of arabesque pattern carving. There are two metal fittings on the guard; the one attached to the lower part has a design of Gyoyo crest resembling apricot leaves, the other attached on the middle part has two kinds of crest designs: Gyoyo and Katabami resembling a yellow sorrel flower.

Letter from Tachibana Naomasa (Muneshige), Tachibana Naomasa, 1602, From the collection of: Tachibana Museum

Letter from Tachibana Naomasa (Muneshige)
〔from the collection of Library of Yanagawa Archives〕

While Muneshige went to Osaka and Kyoto to get a chance to meet the shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu who seized power after the Battle of Sekigahara, his vassals stayed in Higo Province (Kumamoto Prefecture). Muneshige wrote this letter to a leader of his vassals, Ono Shigeyuki, asking him to send his gratitude to boatmen who also had to stay with Muneshige’s vassals including Shigeyuki for such a long time.

Wakizashi sword, signed "Onizuka Yoshikuni", The first Onizuka Yoshikuni, 17th-19th century, Edo period, From the collection of: Tachibana Museum

Wakizasi sword, signed “Onizuka Yoshikuni”
〔from the collection of Library of Yanagawa Archives〕

It is thought that Onizuka Yoshikuni was a swordsmith in Tanagura region and moved to Yanagawa following Muneshige. The temper pattern along the cutting edge is near-straight, which is often found in the Onizuka group’s work.

Map of Yanagawa territory, Unknown, 17th century, Edo period, From the collection of: Tachibana Museum

Map of Yanagawa territory
〔from the collection of Library of Yanagawa Archives〕

This map was created after Muneshige returned to the Yanagawa domain.

Letter from Tachibana Muneshige, Tachibana Muneshige, 1624/1645, From the collection of: Tachibana Museum

Letter from Tachibana Muneshige
〔from the collection of Yanagawa city〕

The second lord, Tadashige, assigned roles to four vassals, and Muneshige approved it in this letter. These four vassals were in charge of financial management of the Yanagawa domain such as land taxes or loans.

Nimai-do armour having black lacquered iyozane scales with dark blue lacing, Unknown, 18th-19th century, Edo period, From the collection of: Tachibana Museum

Nimai-do armour having black lacquered iyozane scales with dark blue lacing
〔from the collection of Library of Yanagawa Archives〕

Certification letter of guarantee for fief ownership issued by Tachibana Chikanari (Muneshige), Tachibana Chikanari, 1589, From the collection of: Tachibana Museum

Certification letter of guarantee for fief ownership issued by Tachibana Chikanari (Muneshige)
〔from the collection of Library of Yanagawa Archives〕

Muneshige suppressed the revolt by inhabitants of Higo Province by the order of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. But he lamented the abolishment of the Kumabe clan whose head led the revolt. Then he chose one of the members of the side line family of the clan, made him succeed the Kumabe clan, employed, and granted a fief with this letter.

Certification of loyal service signed by Tachibana Chikanari (Muneshige), Tachibana Chikanari, 1600, From the collection of: Tachibana Museum

Certificate of loyal service signed by Tachibana Chikanari (Muneshige)
〔Fukuoka pref.〕

This letter was issued by Muneshige to recognize the distinguish military service of the army led by his vassal, Yufu, in the siege of Otsu-jo Castle in 1600.

Letter of commendation for military success from Tachibana Naomasa (Muneshige), Tachibana Naomasa, 1600, From the collection of: Tachibana Museum

Letter of commendation for military success from Tachibana Naomasa (Muneshige)
〔Fukuoka pref.〕

Not long after Muneshige came back to Yanagawa, the Nabeshima army in Hizen Province attacked the Tachibana army and the battle of Egami-Hachiin broke out. It is said that Ono Shigeyuki, a chief commander of the Tachibana troops, sustained specifically two wounds in the battle. This letter was sent to Shigeyuki to praise his and his vassals’ outstanding military service.

Letter of commendation from Tachibana Chikanari (Muneshige), Tachibana Chikanari, 1600, From the collection of: Tachibana Museum

Letter of commendation from Tachibana Chikasige (Muneshige)
〔Fukuoka pref.〕

It is supposed that Muneshige borrowed some money from his vassal for the travelling expenses for his mother to go to the Tokugawa family as a hostage. It is mentioned in this letter that he would repay the money until the next autumn even if he would be transferred from Yanagawa to another domain. This indicates that he was prepared for transference of his fief but never thought to be deprived of his fief and position at that time.

Certification letter of guarantee for fief ownership issued by Kato Kiyomasa, Kato Kiyomasa, 1606, From the collection of: Tachibana Museum

Certification letter of guarantee for fief ownership issued by Kato Kiyomasa
〔Fukuoka pref.〕

In 1606, Tachibana Muneshige became a feudal lord of the Tanagura domain which is far from his former domain. Accordingly, his former vassals, who were temporarily employed by the Kato family of the Kumamoto domain, became official vassals of the Kato family. In the same year, Ono Shigeyuki was given a fief yielding 4,080 koku of rice from Kato Kiyomasa, the feudal lord of the domain. It was the largest yield among the former vassals of the Tachibana family.

Letter from Tachibana Muneshige, Tachibana Muneshige, 1620, From the collection of: Tachibana Museum

Letter from Tachibana Muneshige
〔Fukuoka pref.〕

This letter was sent from Muneshige to his former vassals in December, probably 1620, informing that he regained the position of daimyo becoming a feudal lord of the Yanagawa domain with worth of 109,647 koku of rice crop, and he returns to Yanagawa during the beginning of next year. He also expressed his joy in the letter.

Credits: Story

Tachibana Foundation
TACHIBANA MUSEUM
柳川古文書館

Created by Executive Committee of the 450th anniversary of Tachibana Muneshige’s birth “Discovery & Experience Project of Castle Town and Samurai Culture in Yanagawa”

Supported by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan in the fiscal 2017

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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