Chapter3-6: Tachibana Muneshige and His Samurai Vassals of the Yanagawa Domain

ーSpecial Exhibition to commemorate the 450th anniversary of Muneshige's birthー

By Tachibana Museum

by TACHIBANA MUSEUM

Various color laced shoulder guards of gold byakudan lacquered scales, tsubo-sode type/ Library of Yanagawa Archives (16th century, Momoyama period) by UnknownTachibana Museum

Chapter 3:      Becoming
the Lord of Yanagawa-jo Castle

Tachibana Muneshige became a daimyo (feudal lord) of the Yanagawa domain from a vassal of the Ohtomo clan by receiving three counties of Chikugo Province from the unifier, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, for his distinguished military service against the Shimazu’s great army. After becoming a lord of Yanagawa-jo Castle, he served Toyotomi Hideyoshi and did remarkable work in warfare, and gradually made himself more known.

Letter of Toyotomi Hideyoshi to Ankokuji Ekei, Kuroda Yoshitaka and Miyagi Katayoshi (1586) by Toyotomi HideyoshiTachibana Museum

55. Letter from Toyotomi Hideyoshi to Ankokuji Ekei, Kuroda Yoshitaka and 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 (1587) by Toyotomi HideyoshiTachibana Museum

56. Sealed letter of granting, issued by Toyotomi Hideyoshi to Tachibana Muneshigei
【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 (1595) by Toyotomi HideyoshiTachibana Museum

57. Certification letter of guarantee for ownership of 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.

Certification letter granting a territory of the branch castle issued by Tachibana Munetora (Muneshige)/ Private collection (1587) by Tachibana MunetoraTachibana Museum

59. Certification letter granting a territory of the branch castle issued by Tachibana Munetora (Muneshige)

Following Muneshige’s position as daimyo (feudal lord), the local clans who had assisted the Tachibana family during military campaigns became official vassals of the family. They were given the family estate and put in charge of the branch castles.

Certification letter of guarantee for fief ownership issued by Tachibana Chikanari (Muneshige)/ Private collection (1596) by Tachibana ChikanariTachibana Museum

68. Certification letter of guarantee for fief ownership issued by Tachibana Chikanari (Muneshige)

Following the introduction of tax system based on rice, Muneshige issued the letters granting a fief to his vassals at the same time.

Certification letter of guarantee for fief ownership issued by Tachibana Chikanari (Muneghige)/ Private collection (1599) by Tachibana ChikanariTachibana Museum

65. Certification letter of guarantee for fief ownership issued by Tachibana Chikanari (Muneshige)

Muneshige grants additional estate of 200 koku to his vassal with this letter. It was thought to have been issued after the Keicho War in Korea in 1599.

Certification letter of guarantee for fief ownership issued by Tachibana Chikanari (Muneshige)/ Library of Yanagawa Archives (1589) by Tachibana ChikanariTachibana Museum

60. Certification letter of guarantee for fief ownership issued by Tachibana Chikanari (Muneshige)

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.

Portrait of Tachibana Muneshige (1654) by Unknown, inscription by Rankei SoueiTachibana Museum

54. Portrait of Tachibana Muneshige

This portrait was considered to have been painted as a memory of the 13th anniversary of Muneshige’s death. The inscription on the portrait was written by the 152nd Priest of Daitokuji-Temple in Kyoto. Among his existing paintings, it is the best portrait which represents his figure at that time.

Tea leaf jar, called Luzon (15th-16th century, Ming dynasty) by UnknownTachibana Museum

58. Brown glazed tea leaf jar with four handles known as Luzon jar

This jar was bestowed on Muneshige at Osaka-jo Castle by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Coming from China via Luzon island of the Philippines, these jars were called “Luzon jar” and they were placed as the most valuable item among the tea utensils in 15th-16th centuries. The possession of excellent jars represented the highest status of military commanders.

List of military supplies allocated to Nitta Kamon/ Private collection (1591) by Nitta KamonTachibana Museum

69. List of military supplies allocated to Nitta Kamon

Military burdens which vassals owed were decided on the basis of their crop yields of the territories. On this letter, was written the list of 18 people which Muneshige’s vassal, Nitta Kamon, should provide for military service of the Bunroku War in 1591.

Letter from Tachibana Munetora/ Private collection (1592) by Tachibana MunetoraTachibana Museum

67. Letter from Tachibana Munetora (Muneshige)

The letter was sent from Muneshige to his vassal, Shigehisa, who led army in a different place from Muneshige’s position in Korea. Muneshige urged Shigehisa to withdraw his army and join the major army led by Kobayakawa Takakage immediately.

Letter of commendation for military success by Tachibana Munetora (Muneshige)/ Private collection (1593) by Tachibana MunetoraTachibana Museum

66. Letter of commendation for military success by Tachibana Munetora (Muneshige)

In the battle of Byeokjegwan (northwestern Seoul) 1593, Muneshige’s forces played a role of spearhead and led the Japanese army to victory. Then he became widely known as a brave warrior. However, the victory came at the expense of more than 500 vassals’ lives.
Muneshige praised the military exploits of his vassal who died in the battle with this letter.

Red-seal letter by Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1593) by Toyotomi HideyoshiTachibana Museum

61. 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 for praising his outstanding military service in Seoul.

Trinity of War Gods (16th-17th century, Momoyama-Edo period) by UnknownTachibana Museum

70. Trinity of war gods

This is a talisman that was considered to have been carried by Muneshige in military camp. The figure with three faces and six arms riding on a wild boar in the center is Marishiten which was worshiped by many samurai warriors as the goddess of warrior. The figure in armor riding on a horse on the left is Shogun Jizo which was worshiped as a deity of victory. The figure holding a rod on the right is Koyamyojin which is the tutelary deity of Mt. Koya.

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

71. Gold gilding helmet in the shape of a peach

These helmets are thought to have been prepared for Muneshige’s military troop to wear together on the battle field. According to the document recorded in 1822, the 318 helmets existed. Now, the 239 helmets are stored in Tachibana museum. They had been produced from the 16th to the 17th centuries. The style of the helmet was influenced by the western helmet which was popular at that time, especially in Kyushu region which introduced western culture first.

Tiger's fangs/ Private collection (16th century, Momoyama period)Tachibana Museum

64. Tiger’s fang

Tigers had been a valued animal from ancient times because their skin was good for a rug and their bones were used as natural medicine. Furthermore, since they do not inhabit in Japan, they were highly prized for their rareness, and the unifier Hideyoshi requested his warriors in Korea to send tiger’s flesh, bones or internal organs for his health.
The note on the box tells “fang each of a big and a small tiger”. They have been handed down from the tigers killed by Muneshige’s vassal, Shigehisa. From the mark being shaved, they might have been used for medicine.

Matchlock called "Ohtora" and "Kotora" (big and small tigers)/ Private collection (16th century, Momoyama period) by UnknownTachibana Museum

62. Firearms, Ohtora and Kotora (big and small tigers)

These two firearms were thought to have used for tiger hunting in Korea during the Bunroku-Keicho War. The longer one is called “Ohtora (big tiger)”, and the shorter one is called “Kotora (small tiger)”. “Ohtora” has a gold inlay in the shape of a tiger on its body.

Various color laced shoulder guards of gold byakudan lacquered scales, tsubo-sode type/ Library of Yanagawa Archives (16th century, Momoyama period) by UnknownTachibana Museum

73. Various colour laced shoulder guards of gold byakudan lacquered scales, tsubo-sode type

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.

Dark blue leather laced shoulder guards of black scales (16th century, Muromachi-Momoyama period) by UnknownTachibana Museum

74. Dark blue leather laced shoulder guards of black lacquered hon kozane

According to the document recorded in 1778, Tachibana Muneshige gave his shoulder guards to his vassal, Ono, at the military camp in Korea in 1592; and another vassal, Otabe, had noticed that his lord had no shoulder guards, and then, he gave his to his lord. These shoulder guards have been handed down in the Tachibana family, but it has a crest design of the Otabe family on the metal fittings. This authenticates the record.

Various color laced shoulder guards of black and gold scales (17th-19th century, Edo period) by UnknownTachibana Museum

76. Various colour laced shoulder guards of black and gold lacquered hon kozane

According to the document recorded in 1857, the Otabe family had offered shoulder guards to their lord family from 1764 to 1772 as a custom since an ancestor in the Otabe family gave his shoulder guard to his lord, Muneshige (work 74). These shoulder guards are considered to be one of such offerings. It has the combined features of both works 73 and 74.

Dark blue laced shoulder guards of black scales (17th-19th century, Edo period) by UnknownTachibana Museum

75. Dark blue laced shoulder guards of black lacquered hon kozane

According to the document recorded in 1857, the Otabe family had offered shoulder guards to their lord family from 1764 to 1772 as a custom since an ancestor in the Otabe family gave his shoulder guard to his lord, Muneshige (work 74). These shoulder guards are considered to be one of such offerings. It is similar to work 74 but it is smaller and laced with dark blue string not with leather.

Various colour laced shoulder guards of black scales (17th-18th century, Edo period) by UnknownTachibana Museum

77. Various colour laced shoulder guards of black lacquered hon kozane

According to the document recorded in 1857, the Otabe family had offered shoulder guards to their lord family from 1764 to 1772 as a custom since an ancestor in the Otabe family gave his shoulder guard to his lord, Muneshige (work 74). These shoulder guards are considered to be one of such offerings. It has the combined features of both works 73 and 74.

Nimai-do armour having black lacquered iyozane scales with light blue lacing/ Library of Yanagawa Archives (17th century, Edo period) by UnknownTachibana Museum

72. Nimai-do armour having black lacquered iyozane scales with light blue lacing

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.

Portrait of Tachibana Muneshige shooting an arrow (1840) by YusetsuTachibana Museum

Chapter4: Kaieki Sanction

In the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, Muneshige took sides with the Western army, and succeeded to attack to the Otsu-jo Castle in Omi Province. However, it was reported to him that the Western Camp was defeated in Sekigahara. Consequently, his family was deprived of its status and forfeited the territories.

Muneshige moved to Kyoto and then to Edo for regaining the position, while his vassals had to go on separate ways; some continued to serve Muneshige, and others served the Kato family in Higo Province or the Kuroda family in Chikuzen Province with the hope of Muneshige’s comeback. 

Certification of loyal service signed by Tachibana Chikanari (Muneshige)/ Fukuoka Prefecture (1600) by Tachibana ChikanariTachibana Museum

78. Certificate of loyal service signed by Tachibana Chikanari (Muneshige)

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.

History of the Tsuruta family/ Library of Yanagawa Archives (17th-19th century, Edo period) by UnknownTachibana Museum

90. History of the Tsuruta family

The Tsuruta family had been employed by the Tachibana family as a boatman through generations. In this historical record shown, on his way to back to Yanagawa from Osaka after losing the Battle of Sekigahara, Muneshige ordered two boatmen to rescue his mother from Osaka-jo Castle.

Biography of Rissai (Muneshige), vol.2/ Fukuoka Prefecture (1689) by Takemori TsuguyukiTachibana Museum

79. Biography of Rissai (Muneshige), vol.2

This biography was written in 1689, fifty years after Muneshige’s death. According to the book, Muneshige withdrew from Otsu-jo Castle due to the defeat of the Western Camp at the Battle of Sekigahara on September 16th in 1600, and went to Osaka to suggest staying in Osaka-jo Castle to Kinoshita Iesada and Mori Terumoto of the western army, but neither of them responded to it. He had no choice but to go back to Yanagawa, and sail out from Osaka after rescuing his mother who was held hostage in Osaka-jo Castle. At a border station, his mother was not allowed to pass through, but they broke through the barrier, and finally arrived in Yanagawa-jo Castle on September 23rd.

Genealogy of the Komono family, vol.6/ Fukuoka Prefecture (1705) by UnknownTachibana Museum

80. Genealogy of the Komono family, vol.6

The Komono family served the Tachibana family, but after the Tachibana family was deprived of their properties and position, they served the Kuroda family.
According to the genealogy, when Muneshige went back to Yanagawa-jo Castle after the battle of Sekigahara, hundreds of his soldiers came out to meet him.

Oral transcription by Asakawa, vol.3/ Fukuoka Prefecture (1643) by Asakawa YasukazuTachibana Museum

81. Oral transcription by Asakawa, vol.3

This book was written by Asakawa around 1643 as what he heard directly from Muneshige and his vassals. According to this, on his way to back to Yanagawa from Osaka by ship, Muneshige came across the ship that had the Shimazu troops on board. They proposed going to Satsuma Province together to him. But he refused it, and landed at Bungo Province, crossed mountains and arrived at Yangawa-jo Castle.

Letter of commendation for military success from Tachibana Naomasa (Muneshige)/ Fukuoka Prefecture (1600) by Tachibana NaomasaTachibana Museum

82. Letter of commendation for military success from Tachibana Naomasa (Muneshige)

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 from Tachibana Chikanari (Muneshige)/ Private collection (1600) by Tachibana ChikanariTachibana Museum

85. Letter from Tachibana Chikanari (Muneshige)

Soon after the Tachibana army led by Muneshige came back to Yanagawa since defeat in the Battle of Sekigahara, the Nabeshima army started to attack them. During this commotion, Muneshige received a letter granting the sparing of the lives of Muneshige and his brother from the victorious army from the Battle of Sekigahara. Muneshige then sent this other letter shown in the image to his vassal in the Yanagawa-jo Castle, informing that they will receive the granting of sparing of lives letter the next morning.

Letter of commendation from Tachibana Chikanari (Muneshige)/ Fukuoka Prefecture (1600) by Tachibana ChikanariTachibana Museum

83. Letter of commendation from Tachibana Chikanari (Muneshige)

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.

Letter from Tachibana Chikanari (Muneshige)/ Private collection (1600) by Tachibana ChikanariTachibana Museum

86. Letter from Tachibana Chikanari (Muneshige)

This letter was sent to Muneshige’s vassal, informing that his mother was going to Osaka as a hostage again for terms of surrender. There is also a warning to keep a close eye on her until they reach into the hands of the enemy.

Letter from Kato Kiyomasa, lord of Kumamoto-jo Castle/ Fukuoka Prefecture (1601) by Kato KiyomasaTachibana Museum

87. Letter from Kato Kiyomasa, lord of Kumamoto-jo Castle

While Muneshige went to Osaka and Kyoto to regain his position, his wife, Ginchiyo, temporarily lived in Higo Province (Kumamoto Prefecture). This letter was sent from the feudal lord of the Higo domain, Kato Kiyomasa, to Muneshige’s vassal, informing that he received her thank-you letter for his food supply. In the next year, Ginchiyo died at the age of thirty-five.

Letter from Tachibana Naomasa (Muneshige)/ Library of Yanagawa Archives (1602) by Tachibana NaomasaTachibana Museum

84. Letter from Tachibana Naomasa (Muneshige)

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.

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

88. Hotoke-marudo armour having iyozane scale covered with chestnut leather

This is Muneshige’s suit of armour which is considered to have been made just before the Battle of Sekigahara. It has a simple and strong feature but the combination of the colors shows a certain splendor of the Warring States period, such as the brown leather of the body part, the vermilion lacquer of the tassets (protector for upper thighs) and the silver foil of the thigh guards. The neck guard of the helmet is Hineno-jikoro style which looks as if the hair flowing down the back.

List of vassals in the Tanagura domain/ Private collection (1736) by UnknownTachibana Museum

Chapter5:   The Reinstatement as Daimyo in Tanagura Domain

Five years after deprivation of his position, the chance came in 1606. Muneshige was permitted an audience with the second shogun, Tokugawa Hidetada and he regained the position of daimyo at last. Muneshige was given a fief yielding 10,000 koku of rice in Tanagura (the northern part of Japan) and became a feudal lord of the domain.

Wakizashi sword, signed "Onizuka Yoshikuni"/ Library of Yanagawa Archives (17th-19th century, Edo period) by The first Onizuka Yoshikuni/ 柳川古文書館Tachibana Museum

104. Wakizasi sword, signed “Onizuka Yoshikuni”

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.

List of vassals in the Tanagura domain/ Private collection (1736) by UnknownTachibana Museum

101. List of vassals in the Tanagura domain

This is the list of vassals who served Muneshige in the Tanagura domain. The names of vassals who used to serve Muneshige in the Yanagawa domain was also found in the list. The vassals from Yanagawa came up to north from the southern part of Japan following their former lord Muneshige.

Certification letter granting a fief issued by Tachibana Toshimasa (Muneshige)/ Private collection (1606) by Tachibana ToshimasaTachibana Museum

102. Certification letter granting a fief issued by Tachibana Toshimasa (Muneshige)

Muneshige, who became a feudal lord of the Tanagura domain, issued letters granting fiefs to his vassals in 1606. This letter grants Totoki Koremasu a fief yielding 100 koku of rice.

Land ledger issued by Tachibana Toshimasa (Muneshige)/ Private collection (1607) by Tachibana ToshimasaTachibana Museum

103. Land ledger issued by Tachibana Toshimasa (Muneshige)

This land ledger was issued in 1607, a half year after the certification letter of granting a fief was issued. This means, half a year after the letter was when the actual giving of fiefs happened.

License of Heki school of Japanese archery (1602) by Yoshida ShigetakeTachibana Museum

91. 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.

Gold-lacquerd bow (17th century, Edo period) by Yoshida ShigeujiTachibana Museum

94. Gold-lacquered bow

It is bound with rattan at the grip part and both ends of the bow, and heavily coated with gold lacquer on the whole. It has an inscription “Yoshida Shigetake” who was the founder of the Heki School. It is supposed that Shigetake gave the license together with this bow to Muneshige.

Vermilion-lacquered bow (17th century, Edo period) by UnknownTachibana Museum

93. Vermilion-lacquered bow

Muneshige, who was a skilled archer, owned this bow. It is bound with rattan at the grip part and both ends of the bow, and heavily coated with vermilion lacquer on the whole.
In addition to the license of Japanese archery, he also got a license of the Taisha School of swordsmanship.

Portrait of Tachibana Muneshige shooting an arrow (1840) by YusetsuTachibana Museum

92. Portrait of Tachibana Muneshige shooting an arrow
【Important cultural property】

This is a portrait depicting a middle-aged Muneshige shooting an arrow.

Old records of the Tachibana family/ Private collection (17th-19th century, Edo period) by UnknownTachibana Museum

89. Old records of the Tachibana family

This is a list of vassals who went to Kyoto with Muneshige after he was deprived of his fief and position. It tells that a handful of vassals followed him.

Letter from Ono Shigeyuki/ Private collection (1606) by Ono ShigeyukiTachibana Museum

98. Letter from Ono Shigeyuki

This letter was sent from the former vassals, Ono Shigeyuki, to other former vassals, who were temporarily employed by the Kato family, informing that Muneshige went to Edo. Although Muneshige regained the position of daimyo, it was not ranked as high as it used to be. It was made clear that Muneshige was not able to employ all former vassals. Then Shigeyuki seems to have given up the hope and prepared for serving the Kato family.

Certification letter of guarantee for fief ownership issued by Kato Kiyomasa/ Fukuoka Prefecture (1606) by Kato KiyomasaTachibana Museum

95. Certification letter of guarantee for fief ownership issued by Kato Kiyomasa
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.

Certification letter of guarantee for fief ownership issued by Kato Kiyomasa/ Fukuoka Prefecture (1608) by Kato KiyomasaTachibana Museum

97. Certification letter of guarantee for fief ownership issued by Kato Kiyomasa

In 1606, Kato Kiyomasa, the feudal lord of the Kumamoto domain issued letters granting fiefs to the high-ranked vassals who used to be in charge of the branch castles of the Tachibana family, In 1613, other former vassals of the Tachibana family also received the letter granting fiefs issued by Kato Kiyomasa.

Letter from Tachibana Toshimasa (Muneshige)/ Private collection (1612) by Tachibana ToshimasaTachibana Museum

99. Letter from Tachibana Toshimasa (Muneshige)

With the death of Kato Kiyomasa as start, some of the former vassals of the Tachibana family were hoping to serve the former lord Muneshige again. This letter was sent from Muneshige to one of the vassals in 1612. In this letter, Muneshige told the vassal to refrain from requesting reemployment for the present at a sensitive juncture of succession in the Kato family. In addition, he warned that if some of them would come to him without announcement or invitation, he would not hire them.

Copy of official document issued by senior councilors of the shogunate/ Private collection (1618) by Ando Shigenobu, Doi Toshikatsu, Honda Masazumi, Sakai TadayoTachibana Museum

96. Copy of official document issued by senior councilors of the shogunate

In 1618, the confrontation over the next leader rose in the Kato family. This issue resulted in firing many vassals. By the second shogun’s ultimate decision, one of the vassals, Netabi Shigehisa and his three children were given a gentle punishment of being sent to his former lord, Muneshige.

Letter from Tachibana Naomasa (Muneshige) (1601) by Tachibana NaomasaTachibana Museum

100. 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.

Yanagawa-jo Castle (1914) by Nakano ShunsuiTachibana Museum

Chapter 6:    The Return to Yanagawa

By the order of the second shogun Tokugawa
Hidetada in 1620, Muneshige made a comeback as the feudal lord of the Yanagawa
domain, worth about 109,647 koku of rice crop, when he was fifty-four. It shows
that the second shogun admitted his loyalty. By the order of the third shogun
Iemitsu who also deeply trusted him, he went into the Shimabara War in 1637 with
his son, who served in battle for the first time. This happened when he was sixty-nine, which proved him full of energy at that age. In 1642 at the age
of seventy-six, his long and eventful life ended. However, the Yanagawa clan, which
Muneshige and his vassals founded, continued until the last days of the
Tokugawa shogunate.

106. Yanagawa-jo Castle

Yanagawa-jo Castle was burned down in 1872. This picture is one of the set of four hanging scrolls that show a view of each side of the castle. It is painted based on the photos that were taken after 1868 and on historical materials.

Letter from Tachibana Muneshige/ Fukuoka Prefecture (1620) by Tachibana MuneshigeTachibana Museum

109. Letter from Tachibana Muneshige

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.

Letter from Tachibana Muneshige/ Private collection (17th century, Edo period) by Tachibana MuneshigeTachibana Museum

110. Letter from Tachibana Muneshige

This letter was sent from Muneshige in Edo to his vassals in Yanagawa. In this letter, he requested them to send a plan of allotment of a residential lot in the Yanagawa-jo Castle town.

Map of Yanagawa territory/ Library of Yanagawa Archives (17th century, Edo period) by UnknownTachibana Museum

107. Map of Yanagawa territory

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

Register of vassals in 1629/ Private collection (1629) by UnknownTachibana Museum

108. Register of vassals in 1629

According to the register, Totoki Settsu holds a fief yielding 2,000 koku of rice as a high-rank vassal. It is notably greater than other vassals’. This seems to be because he continued to serve Muneshige when he lost his status and property, and followed Muneshige when he went to the northern part of Japan, as a feudal lord of the Tanagura domain.

Certification letter of guarantee for ownership of territory issued by Tokugawa Iemitsu to Tachibana Muneshige (1634) by Tokugawa IemitsuTachibana Museum

111. 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.

Nyoi-tei Garden (1882) by Hasegawa SetteiTachibana Museum

114. Nyoitei garden
by Hasegawa Settei

Nyoitei was a garden of the Tachibana family’s residence in Edo (Tokyo). Upon close examination, this painting depicts a beautiful view of four seasons converged in this landscape garden, such as cherry blossoms and maple trees, or fresh greens and autumn leaves.
The painter, Hasegawa Settei (1813-82) and his father Settan were known as painters who illustrated many famous views. A lot of his printed copies remain, but originals are a few.

Tea leaf jar, named Yoro (17th century, Edo period) by UnknownTachibana Museum

112. Reddish brown glazed tea leaf jar with four handles, named “Yoro”

This jar is thought to have been given by the third Shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu at his second attendance to the tea ceremony held at the Tachibana family’s residence in Edo (Tokyo) in 1639. Since then, it has been handed down with good care as a treasured heirloom. It is Seto ware with long and narrow shape which deflates slowly from the shoulder toward the bottom. On the other hand, the powerful and dynamic appearance, which is created by the wild brush marks with black glaze containing iron, gives it an imposing presence.

Pearl shell incense case by UnknownTachibana Museum

113. Pearl shell incense case
owned by Tachibana Muneshige

On the wrapping paper of the incense case, it is written that Muneshige received the incense case from the third shogun Iemitsu who visited the Tachibana family’s residence in Edo around 1638.

Yari spearhead, signed ‘Kanesada’ (1537) by KanesadaTachibana Museum

116. Yari sword, signed “Kanesada”
owned by Tachibana Muneshige

Kanesada was a swordsmith in Seki District, Mino Province (Seki city, Gifu Prefecture).
This is a lager Yari sword (spear). It has an inscription on the head, which reads ‘Hachiman Dai Bosatsu’, a title given to Shinto gods. It is said that the first lord of the clan, Muneshige, rendered distinguished service for the battle in Korea with the Yari swords KANESADA and MASAKUNI.
These two swords always followed just behind the palanquin which the feudal lord rode in, during the procession of travelling back and forth between Edo and their domain for Sankinkotai system (alternate-year residence in Edo).

Yari spearhead, signed ‘Masakuni’ (1568) by MasakuniTachibana Museum

115. Yari sword, signed “Masakuni”
owned by Tachibana Muneshige

The inscription of the Yari sword (spear) reads ‘Masakuni in Harima Province (Hyogo Prefecture)’. But, the document says ‘Masakuni in Soshu Province (Kanagawa Prefecture)’. Therefore, there is no knowing which Masakuni is the creator of this sword.

Letter from Tachibana Muneshige/ Yanagawa City (1624/1645) by Tachibana MuneshigeTachibana Museum

117. Letter from Tachibana Muneshige

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.

Regimental color (17th century, Edo period) by UnknownTachibana Museum

118. Regimental coluors

This flag is made in accordance with production specifications in the military book (work 119). Only the location of the family crest is different from the specification which instructs placing the crest in the middle of the flag. In this flag, there are two crests represented; on the right is Muneshige’s Gion-mamori and on the left, is his son Tadashige’s Gyoyo. Therefore, this flag is considered to have used in the Shimabara War (1637~38) in which Muneshige and Tadashige fought together.

Book of military arcanum (1636) by UnknownTachibana Museum

119. Book of military arcanum

This military book consists of twelve books and nine scrolls categorized into heaven, earth and man. Its contents are everything about military as follows: fortune-telling by movement of nature caused by the sun, moon, stars, clouds, wind and water; secret art of bringing good luck in battle; military operations and advice by a great strategist, Zhang Liang; and so on.

Jointly signed letter by Kitsuki Tatewaki and Murao Chikaranosuke (1634) by Kimura Tatewaki, Murao ChikaranosukeTachibana Museum

120. Jointly signed letter by Kitsuki Tatewaki and Murao Chikara

This letter was stored in the box with Muneshige’s talismans. In this letter, it was written that these two vassals visited shrines for praying to cure Muneshige’s illness. They offered one hundred kinds of delicacies to Atago shrine, and donated a Buddihist altar to a Buddist temple of healing.

Talisman (1639) by UnknownTachibana Museum

121. Talisman

There are twenty-one talismans of the deities of heaven and earth collected from all over Japan. They were stored in Muneshige’s box. The year written on the wrapping paper for the talismans reads 1639 when Muneshige was seventy-three.

Official document issued by senior councilors of the shogunate (1642) by Abe Shigetsugu, Abe Tadaaki, Matsudaira NobutsunaTachibana Museum

122. 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.

Maru-do armor of iyozane scales with goishi-shaped heads (17th century, Edo period) by UnknownTachibana Museum

123. Black laced armour having black lacquered nuinobe-marudo

This armour was worn by Muneshige’s son, the second lord Tadashige. The helmet might have been owned by Muneshige. It is composed of the black thread and black lacquered body without any ornamental metal fittings, which gives us a plain impression. However, the details of how it is made and all the individual parts show elaborate skill of the armour. Moreover, that solid black form gives a sense of modern impression.

Memorandum by Sata Saburodayu/ Private collection (18th-19th century, Edo period) by Sata SaburodayuTachibana Museum

126. Memorandum by Sata Saburodayu

According to the memorandum, Sata Muneharu took part in the Shimabara War to attack on Hara-jo castle as a captain of a gun squad of the Tachibana army in 1637. He brought a cooper, who usually made wooden buckets, for preparing a lot of bundles of bamboo which were used for attacking the castle. However, both of them died in the battle. Muneharu was shot while the cooper was struck by the stone that the enemy rolled down from the castle.

Positions of attackers in the battle at Hara-jo Castle/ Fukuoka Prefecture (17th-18th century, Edo period) by UnknownTachibana Museum

124. Positions of attackers in the battle at Hara Castle
【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.

Katana sword, attributed to "Kiyotsuna"/ Library of Yanagawa Archives (14th-16th century, Muromachi period) by attributed to KiyotsunaTachibana Museum

127. Katana sword, attributed to “Kiyotsuna”

This sword was owned by Ando Seian who was a vassal of the Tachibana family. According to his record, he brought the sword to the Shimabara War when he was sixteen. Later he became a Confucian scholar.

Tatami armor with karuta plates (17th century, Edo period) by UnknownTachibana Museum

125. Black lacquered tatami armour of mail and plates, folding type armour for storage and transport

This has been handed down as an armour which the second lord, Tadashige, brought to the Shimabara War. It is composed of iron plates enchaining each other in order to be folded compactly for easy carrying. Everything from the amour suit including the helmet was stored in the compact box shown on the display, which is 32.7 cm long, 39.7 cm wide and 26.3 cm tall.

Nimai-do armour having black lacquered iyozane scales with dark blue lacing/ Library of Yanagawa Archives (18th-19th century, Edo period) by UnknownTachibana Museum

128. Nimai-do armour having black lacquered iyozane scales with dark blue lacing
handed down in the Sata family
18th century, Edo period

Nimai-do armour having black lacquered iyozane scales with dark blue lacing/ Library of Yanagawa Archives (18th-19th century, Edo period) by UnknownTachibana Museum

129. Nimai-do armour having black lacquered iyozane scales with dark blue lacing
handed down in the Totoki family
18th-19th century, Edo period

Okegawa-gomai-do armour with five-piece cuirass of horizontal plates/ Library of Yanagawa Archives (19th century, Edo period) by Myochin KunisadaTachibana Museum

130. Okegawa-gomai-do armour with five-piece cuirass of horizontal plates
handed down in the Netami family
19th century, Edo period

Okegawa-nimai-do armour with two-piece cuirass of horizontal plates/ Library of Yanagawa Archives (19th century, Edo period) by UnknownTachibana Museum

131. Okegawa-nimai-do armour with two-piece cuirass of horizontal plates
handed down in the Yuhu family
19th century, Edo period

Credits: Story

Sponsored by:
Executive Committee of the 450th anniversary of Muneshige’s birth

Exhibited in
Tachibana Foundation TACHIBANA MUSEUM

Credits: All media
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