Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Kimotsuki Kanetake 薩摩藩士島津家臣肝付兼武と吉田松陰


The Tokubetsu Hozon certificate for the Kanetake Yukiyasu.
Yukiyasu Torokusho; Dated 6th March 1969, after it was sold out of the former 2nd Baron Kimotsuki Kanefusa's family.

(男爵肝付兼行少将家伝来/調所廣志氏元調所家老家伝来

The Kimotsuki Daimyo of Osumi Province 大隅国肝付宗家氏



The Kimotsuki family of Osumi Province were an ancient family which claimed decent from the Emperor Tenchi (627-671) and are descended from Tomo Kaneyuki who came down to Shimazu-cho as a provincial official in about the year 970. They are first mentioned in the chronicles of early Heian period when the 1st head, Kanetoshi, was granted lands in Osumi Province as Shugo Jito and took the county name of Kimotsuki as the family name and have flourished ever since. The Tomo branched out into several families with the Kimotsuki becoming the strongest over time and in consequence the Kimotsuki became the leading family in Osumi. Their heads were styled Kawachi no Kami and intermarried with their next door neighbours the Shimazu for several hundreds of years. By 1561, the Kimotsuki were able to unite Osumi. However,in 1566, the 15th Lord Shimazu Takahisa feeling his strength, became greedy and tried to annex Osumi outright. However that famous captain,the 16th Lord, Kimotsuki Kanetsugu (his wife was the eldest daughter of Shimazu Tadayoshi, the 10th Izakuge Lord; and in turn, Kanetsugu's mother was a daughter of Shimazu Tadatomo, the 3rd Hoshu Lord) worked hard to keep the relationship together, collapsed, and in a campaign against the Shimazu to preserve their independence, succeeded in killing the 4th Soshu Shimazu Lord, Tadamasa, brother of the 15th Lord Takahisa; however the offensive petered out. Kanetsugu later suffered a great reverse when in 1567 the Shimazu were able to mass their armies and take Koyama castle, the Kimotsuki seat. Kanetsugu committed suicide after this defeat. However, his son,and heir, Yoshikane, the 17th Lord, immediately inflicted a great defeat on the Shimazu army and killed Takahisa himself, a swift revenge for his father's death on 15th July 1571. However, Yoshikane shortly afterwards died in his 37th year in 1572. Finally by January 1581, the 18th Lord Kaneaki, second son of the above Kanetsugu, due to strong pressure from his step-mother and the pro-Shimazu senior retainers, was forced out as head. He surrendered the Kimotsuki lands and for the first time in over 600 years lost their independence. At this time, the koku of this fief was valued at 120,000 and the Shimazu won a rich prize.

The Graves of Kanetsugu and his wife, Anan; the daughter of Shimazu Tadayoshi.




Even though Kaneaki wanted to continue, he eventually despaired of continuing the struggle; his father's senior retainers were deserting and he found his position untenable. Kaneaki particulary despised one such senior retainer who abandoned the Kimotsuki. Nejime Shigenaga took refuge with Shimazu in the nick of time and escaped Kaneaki's clutches. As related above, most damaging of all, a Trojan Horse was in his own backyard in the shape of his step-mother, who promoted the interests of her paternal house. He finally relinquished the headship to his younger brother, Kanemori. Kaneaki was banished by the Shimazu to Hyuga where he died in 1634, no doubt a greatly embittered man.



The grounds of Koyama Castle, the castle of the Kimotsuki Family. 肝付氏の高山城




After the surrender, the Shimazu asked the Kimotsuki to serve them as vassals and thus went into their sad exile and did so for the next two and half centuries. The last and third son of that valiant soldier, Kanetsugu, Kimotsuki Kanemori, fell at Sekigahara in 1600 under the banner of Shimazu Yoshihiro. His son, Kimotsuki Kaneyuki the 20th Head, was granted 100 koku and lived in greatly reduced circumstances. Kaneyuki died in his 20th year without an heir and was succeeded by a son of Niiro Tadahide who became Kimotsuki Kaneyasu. Thus for the first time in over 600 years the direct line of the Kimotsuki from Kanetoshi died out.Because of adoption however, this mainline continued towards the end of the Bakumatsu period.
However hard and dark those days were, the Kimotsuki never forgot their origins as a leading daimyo and considered themselves the equal,if not better than the Shimazu.
Interestingly, in about 1611, another Kimotsuki family, a cadet branch of the mainline Kimotsuki in the early Edo period was granted a 5500 koku fief in Kiire in Kagoshima and it is now where we turn to examine fortunes of this branch.

Kiire Kimotsuki (喜入肝付家)


The 1st Kiire lord was Kaneatsu, the son of Kanemori, Lord of Kajiki Castle who was Karo to Shimazu Yoshihisa. This line which Kiire Kimotsuki was descended from Kanemitsu from around 1558 2nd son of the 12th (mainline)Lord Kanetada. Due to the defeat of the Shimazu by Hideyoshi, the Shimazu had to reorganise their fiefs and in doing so, gave Kajiki Castle to their Kajiki Shimazu branch, while they relocated the Kanemori Kimotsuki’s branch to Kiire. Thus, Kaneatsu, was transfered to Kiire. It was due to the service of his father, Kimotsuki Kanemori who was a karo of Shimazu Takahisa/Yoshihisa that so impressed Shimazu Takahisa that his son, Yoshihisa designated this Kimotsuki cadet branch 5500 koku. The Kimotsuki thus became Isshomochi, (only kin of the Shimazu were accorded this title;) one of the principal retainer families of the Shimazu family) and had own ryoshu (領主)or private domain. Actually, if one thinks about it, the reason why this Kiire branch prospered was because they betrayed their mainline cousins and rendered great service to Shimazu Takahisa whose son Yoshihiro destroyed the mainline Kimotsuki.Kanemori,who was promoted to Karo staus by Shimazu Takahisa was given the stewardship of Kajiki Castle as result.
Kiire Kimotsuki thus became one of the twenty chief vassal families that were allowed this degree of autonomy. This was one of the six largest koku stipends of the chief retainer families within the Shimazu fief of 770,000 koku. They according to the Kagoshima Joka Ezu (鹿児島城下絵図散歩) the book describing the family seat of the Kiire Kimotsuki, theirs was a grand mansion on a land measured at 2224 tsubo residing in Yamashita-cho in Kiire.

The 11 Kiire lords were:


1.Kaneatsu 1562-1609 (2nd son of Karo Kimotsuki Kanemori, Lord of Kajiki castle)
2.Kanetake 1601-1635
3.Kaneie 1619-1675
4.Hisakane 1641-1709 (Karo to Shimazu Mitsuhisa c.1670)
5.Kaneda 1665-1718
6.Kanemitsu 1686-1739
7.Kanetaka 1726-1761
8.Kanemitsu 1755-1804
9.Kanetsura 1777-1820
10.Kaneyoshi 1802-1876
11.Kanetane 1826-1884 (Commanded the batteries at Sakurajima during the Royal Navy's bombardment of Kagoshima in 1863 for the murder of Richardson in Yokohama in 1863)





Here is a picture of the Kiire Kimotsuki estate today. 現在の喜入肝付屋敷




Here are the six top Shimazu family retainers ranked by koku.

1. Hongo-shi (Sadowara)(Shimazu bunke) 34,011 Koku (later reduced to 27,000)
2. Tanegashima-shi 10,165 Koku
3. Hioki-shi (Shimazu bunke) 9,000 Koku
4. Hongo-shi (Hirasa branch;Shimazu bunke) 8,137 Koku
5. Hanaoka-shi (Shimazu bunke) 6,285 Koku
6. Kimotsuki-shi 5,500 Koku

It will be noted that this branch of the Kimotsuki during its 280 year history as a private holder in Satsuma was never reduced in holdings at the whim of the Shimazu lords. As compared to the Iriki-in family who had fought the Shimazu for several hundreds of years and finally yielded in 1585, the former started with about 5000 koku and by the time the restoration came, they were moved around at whim several times during the Tokugawa period and finally reduced to 3600 koku. Because the Kiire Kimotsuki willingly served the Shimazu from the onset, they never suffered this fate. Indeed, while the Iriki-in main-line failed many times to produce an heir, the Shimazu willingly gave boys to succeed to the house. By contrast the Kiire Kimotsuki produced a lot of children and became known as the Kimotsuki San-Nan Ke(肝付三男家)and duly gave out a lot of children to be adopted to Shimazu branch houses as exemplified by the children of the 10th Kiire lord, Kaneyoshi.



Shimazu Nariakira 島津斉彰



Shimazu Tadayoshi 島津忠義
Komatsu Tatewaki
(Kimotsuki Kanetoshi) 肝付兼才



Kimotsuki Kanetake 1823-1887 肝付兼武


According to the biography of Kimotsuki Kanetake and his line, compiled and published in Showa 12 (1937) by Hirose Yutaka ,entitled Kimotsuki Kanetake Den (肝付兼武伝;広瀬豊 assisted by Kaneyuki's son the 2nd Baron Kanefusa and Kaneyuki's cousin Kaneyasu, he writes that Kanetake was born the second son of Kanekiyo,Kushikino, Hioki district in Kagoshima; (after the defeat of the Kimotsuki in 1573, the Kimotsuki on command of the Shimazu were exiled to Hioki district where their decendants dwell to this day).Kanetake's great grandfather Kanekata, formed a branch family from the Kimotsuki family of Kushino and and lived in Jokamachi as a low stipended ranked retainer. Lookimg at the genelogy of this family it seems they had no relation with the Kimotsuki Lords of Kiire. Kanekata died during the Tenmei era (1781). Kanetake's grandfather Kaneoki died in Bunka 8 (1811) and when Kanetake was born (1823) Kanekiyo, was still a low stipended retainer living in a modest house in Jokamachi. Reading this biography it seems to me that Kanetake's class of retainer were the 10-20 koku type of retainer.

Kanetake seems to have been a diligent scholar and eventually attracted the notice of Shimazu Narioki and later Nariakira and became the Satsuma domain's Astronomer. At the age of 26 in 1849,during Narioki's reign, he sought permission to journey to Edo to study military science and Confucianism under Ohashi Tostuan and Fujimori Kouan at their academies. In 1850 (Kaei 3) he journyed to the Tohoku district and he after he returned to Edo, he became acquainted with Yoshida Shoin who was very interested to hear from Kanetake the conditions of the north. Yoshida accordingly armed with this knowledge, wanted to go and investigate the region himself. However he deceived Kanetake after promising to go with the former, and Kanetake thinking he would return to the Tohoku region with Yoshida, deceived him, and Yoshida, on December 14th Kaei 4 (1850) left without telling Kanetake. The next day, Yoshida's associates, Toriyama, Miyabe, and Ebata left for Tohoku as well. Kanetake was furious. He vowed to never speak with Yoshida again. Kanetake later learned that Yoshida never made it over the Tsugaru strait to Matsumae.
He was friendly with Saito Shintaro of the Choshu han who was renowned as a great swordsman and presumbly was a member of his dojo.

Later in around 1869/70, Kanetake worked in the Resources office of the Hokkaido and Yamagata prefectures and later at Teacher's College. He retired in May 1887 and died on 23rd December 1887 at age 65.

Indeed, it was this class of low ranking retainers like Kanetake who took Japan out of the Bakumatsu period. If you think of men like Saigo Takamori, Okubo Toshimichi, Sakamoto Ryoma, Yamagata Aritomo,Togo Heihachiro these were hardworking intelligent men curious of the outside world and thirsted for knowledge. They figured prominently after the Restoration. Incidently, he was a relative through marriage to Kirino Toshiaki, the Satsuma commander who took Aizu castle in 1869, later Brigadier of the new Japanese Army and later died with Saigo Takamori in his ill-fated rebellion against the Government in 1877.Indeed, Shimazu Nariakira who being a learned man of repute did not miss a intelligent retainer go by when he saw one and evidently saw something in Kanetake.

Here is the line from Kaneyuki's Keizu taken from the Kanetake biography.

兼行家系図は:

兼傍(串木野分家)-兼起-兼清-兼赫(兼清長男)兼武-(男爵兼行)-(二代男爵兼英)-兼一


Kimotsuki Kanetake Family Tree 肝付兼武派系図兼行男爵家
(華族家系大成から)

Kirino Toshiaki (桐野利秋



Kanetake must have been a very diligent man as he was brought to the attention of the Satsuma Lord Narioki in adult life.

There is a book in the collection of the author entitled 'Tohoku Fudan.'The book states Kanetake's residence of Sakurajima, Kagoshima and an addendum added in a second copy which is the collection of Waseda University that states that this journal was written during the Ansei period.

Indeed, the journal gives a detailed account of his travels through Ezo, Matsumae, Tsugaru, Sendai, Nihonmatsu, Sado shima, Kaga and thence back to Kagoshima.
No doubt, Nariakira given the time period (1854) wished for a detailed report on the defense and social conditions in the northern domains and so sent an intelligent man like Kanetake to gather a meaningful report. See my other blog on Kanetake's journal photographed in full.





Here is a list of where Kanetake visited:

1. Ezo Matsumae

2. Tsugaru

3. Nanbu

4. Date,Sendai

5. Nihonmatsu, Niwa

6. Aizu-Matsudaira

7. Sakura, Awa

8. Izu

9. Satake-shi

10. Sakai-shi, Tsuruoka

11. Uesugi, Yonezawa

12. Sado

13. Echigo

14. Kaga-Maeda

15. Echizen-Fukui, Matsudaira


This list is quite impressive and shows how far and wide he travelled which was extraordinary in those days. His book is quite deep and thoughtful as a result.

It is written in a beautiful hand and gives a great deal of observations, both the mundane and the interesting. He did not think much of the Ainu; calling them stupid and the people of the Sendai han as indolent and idle!

Here is another treatise written by him on how to govern the nation. This shows that he was highly respected for his views within the domain.




Vice Admiral 1st Baron Kimotsuki Kaneyuki 肝付兼行 1853-1922

Kanetake's son, Kaneyuki, was his eldest son from Kanetake's first wife and entered the Navy right after the Meiji Restoration. He married his first cousin, the second daughter of Kanekaku. However, in 1895,due to the heir of Kanekaku coming of age, he returned the headship to his nephew, Kanemutsu and formed a branch family. He became an Vice Admiral,and was raised to the peerage as Baron in 1907.He also served as Mayor of Osaka and Principal of the Naval Academy. He died in 1922. He was chief of the Hydrographic Department and drew up the charts claiming Japan's ownership to the Takeshima islands in 1892.


The last head of this direct line was Kanekazu who died the same year as his father in 1974. As of 1975, Kanekazu's wife, Reiko Kimotsuki last known address was in Tokyo Chiyoda-ku, 2-Banchi 6-5.


The Grave of Kimotsuki Kaneyuki at Aoyama.

In Japan today, the Kimotsuki are referred as the three families when one asks about them. They are the Honke, the main line Kimotsuki (100 koku) the Kiire Ke; the Kiire Kimotsuki Family(5500 koku), and the Danshaku ke; the Baron Kimotsuki family, referring to Kanetake's line. So, this once lowly stipended retainer brought his family up in the world to become a socially prominent family in the new modern Japan after the Restoration.

Having bought this sword has given me a great deal of pleasure as I was able to meet people I would not have otherwise had met. I would like to thank firstly Mr. Kamata of Tokka Biz swordshop, Yotsuya, who started me on my Satsuma collection and indeed kept this sword for me to purchase. Mr. Zusho Ichiro, descendant of the Zusho Karo family of Hirosato whose father previously owned this sword and seeing my interest sold me a bukezukuri set of mounts for the Kimotsuki family. Lastly but certainly not least the twin Satsuma gentlmen of Tanobe sensei who for over 20 years has been forever paitent and forthcoming on my numerous questions related to the Japanese sword and provided sayagaki for my collection over the past ten years while I was living in Japan and Dr.Kimotsuki Kanenori, a scion of the Kimotsuki Kiire Lords who was extremely kind in having me contact him via Facebook on questions about his family and taken on a great burden in endeavouring assisting me.

Thank you all

Kamakura and New York 2011

I have also entered this into Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kimotsuki_Kanetake

Sayagaki by Tanobe Sensei for the Naminohira Yukiyasu 日本美術刀剣保存協会の田野辺先生鞘書 肝付兼武刀

Here is the translation of the sayagaki done for me by Tanobe sensei just a few weeks ago on a fine November day.He related how this sayagaki gave him great pleasure as he knew well about the Kimotsuki family as he was born in Aira, Kimotsuki-kori in 1945.                                       

薩摩國波平大和守行安 - Satsuma no kuni Naminohira Yamato no kami Yukiyasu

九字銘與明治弐年紀並ニ肝付兼武ノ清嘱ニ應ジタル旨ノ添銘有之同工波平本家六拾参
代目而肝付兼武ハ嶌津家ノ重臣也造込地刃共ニ同工ノ見所ヲ顕現シ出来出色也
There is a nine character signature present and the date inscription is Meiji 2nd year and an additional inscription which records that this was ordered by Kimotsuki Kanetake.The swordsmith is the 63rd Generation head of the Naminohira family,and Kimotsuki Kanetake was one of the chief retainers for the Shimazu family. It's construction and ji-ba show the smith’s characteristics,and it's workmanship is excellent.

刃長貮尺壹寸五分有之 - Blade length is 2-shaku 1-sun 5-bu.
惟時庚寅暦霜月 - Date: A day in November in 2010
探山邊道識 - Tanzan

As indicated above, this sword was sold out of the 2nd Baron's home in 1967.

This sword by Naminohira Yukiyasu was from the main Naminohira family and became the 63rd generational head. He previously signed as Yamato no Suke which was granted to him by the Emperor Komei. He was later promoted to Yamato no Kami. And so this sword is signed:

Naminohira ju Yamato no Kami Taira Yukiyasu. (波平住大和守平行安)
Motome Kimotsuki Kanetake Ju.
Meiji Ni Nen nezu e Ni Gatsu Hi. February 1868

The sword is a Shinto Kanbun sugata and is done in Suguba in a nie format. The jihada is in a masame itame nagare style as is typical of Naminohira works and shows the influence of the Yamato school where the founder Masakuni originated from.
No doubt by judging the length and weight of the sword, we can can glean that Kanetake was a short man, perhaps 5'4-6 and had strong arms as this sword is a bit heavy. However, as a bushi this sword weight would have been just right, and no doubt ordered it as such.

This sword was awarded Tokubetsu Hozon in Heisei 15. Interestingly it previously belonged to Zusho Hiroshi who is a direct decendant of Zusho Hirosato, Karo to Shimazu Shigehide, who was famous for his reforming zeal to the Shimazu family during the early part of the 19th century.



The Naminohira Graves at Kiire-cho. (波平家墓喜入町




The Yukiyasu Sayagaki










The mounts of a very large Satsuma Koshirae belonging to the Kimotsuki, c. 1800 Yahya Shaigiya collection; ex.Zusho coll.and exhibited at the Kagoshima History Centre in Kagoshima.
(Middle picture; NB; the Kimotsuki Kamon on the fuchi. Not shown in the photograph is another Kimotsuki kamon on the kashira. Both Kamon are in pure silver.