We select the items owned by Tachibana Muneshige, the first lord of the Yanagawa domain, and introduce them with some episodes about him.

Zunari-shaped helmet with Gachirin ring and feathers (16th century, Momoyama period) by UnknownTachibana Museum

Tachibana Muneshige(1567-1642)

The first lord of the Yanagawa domain, Muneshige, once lost his territory after being defeated in the battle of Sekigahara. He, however, made a miraculous comeback to the Yanagawa domain as the lord by gaining the deep trust of the Tokugawa shogunate family.  

Gilded peach-shaped helmet (16th century, Momoyama period) by UnknownTachibana Museum

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Gilded peach-shaped helmet

These helmets were prepared for the cavalry responsible for guarding Tachibana Muneshige on the battlefield. More than 200 of the helmets have survived to this day.
The peach-shaped design is said to have originated from a Western model which was very popular at that time in Japan. The Otomo family, which was the head of the Tachibana family, was one of the first to adopt Western culture. This might have had an influence on Muneshige’s sense of design.

War fan with silver crescent design (16th century, Momoyama-Edo period) by UnknownTachibana Museum

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War fan with silver crescent design

A war fan, or gunsen, was one of the important tools for military leaders to command and direct an army. Typically, these fans had a design featuring a red sun that was placed in the center against a golden background. This war fan, owned by Tachibana Muneshige, is different from those and has a design of a silver crescent moon on the left side. The asymmetrical placement would indicate the refined taste of its owner.
The moon motif is often seen in Muneshige’s belongings.

Wakizashi sword, named Raikirimaru (13th-16th century, Kamakura~Muromachi period) by UnknownTachibana Museum


Wakizashi sword, named Raikirimaru

Raikirimaru is the legendary sword of Bekki Dousetsu, the founder of the Tachibana family.
One day, when Dousetsu was taking a nap in a cottage under a big tree, he was suddenly struck by a thunderbolt. He rapidly withdrew his sword and slashed at the lightning.
After this incident, the long tachi sword was recut into a medium length wakizashi sword; and was named “Raikirimaru” (the lightning cutter).
Raikirimaru was later passed down to Tachibana Muneshige, the second head of the family.

Mogami-do armor with Gachirin ring (16th century, Momoyama period) by UnknownTachibana Museum

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Mogami-do armor with Gachirin ring

This suit of armor is thought to have been made for Tachibana Muneshige in his youth. From its large size and heavy weight, he is believed to have been well built and larger than average for his time.
The cuirass is made of several plates laced with leather straps. Each of the plates is wrapped with crepe leather, on which a red ring is depicted with lacquer. In a document of the Tachibana family, the ring is described as gachirin, which symbolizes the moon.

Hotoke-marudo armour covered with nutbrown leather (16th century, Momoyama period) by UnknownTachibana Museum

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Hotoke-marudo armor covered with chestnut leather

This is one of the suits of armor owned by Tachibana Muneshige. It is thought to have been made just before the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600.
The combination of colors, such as the chestnut leather of the cuirass, the red-lacquered tassets and silver foil of the thigh guards, reflects the splendor of the Warring States Period.
The ring and feather crest is a prominent characteristic of Muneshige’s helmet. The ring is said to represent the moon, while the iridescent black feathers express Muneshige’s sophisticated sense of design.

Credits: Story

Tachibana Foundation

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 2021

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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