Katō Kiyomasa (加藤 清正, July 25, 1562 – August 2, 1611) was a Japanese daimyō of the Azuchi–Momoyama and Edo periods. His court title was Higo-no-kami. His child name was Yashamaru, and first name was Toranosuke.
Portrait of Katō Kiyomasa
|Lord of Kumamoto|
|Succeeded by||Katō Tadahiro|
|Born||July 25, 1562|
Owari Province, Japan
|Died||August 2, 1611 49) (aged|
|Spouse(s)||Shōjō-in (Mizuno Tadashige's daughter)|
|Children||Yōrin-in (Tokugawa Yorinobu's wife)|
|Battles/wars||Siege of Takamatsu|
Battle of Yamazaki
Battle of Shizugatake
Siege of Udo
Siege of Yanagawa
Origins and early career
Kiyomasa was born in what is now Nakamura-ku, Nagoya (situated in contemporary Aichi District, Owari Province) to Katō Kiyotada. Kiyotada's wife, Ito, was a cousin of Toyotomi Hideyoshi's mother. Kiyotada died while his son (then known as Toranosuke) was still young. Soon after, Toranosuke entered into Hideyoshi's service, and in 1576, at age 15, was granted a stipend of 170 koku. He fought in Hideyoshi's army at Yamazaki, and later, at Shizugatake. Owing to his achievement in that battle, he became known as one of the Seven Spears of Shizugatake and was rewarded with 3,000 additional koku.
When Hideyoshi became the kampaku in the summer of 1585, Kiyomasa received the court title of Kazue no Kami (主計頭, head of the accounting bureau) and junior 5th court rank, lower grade (ju go-i no ge 従五位下). In 1586, after Higo Province was confiscated from Sassa Narimasa, he was granted 250,000 koku of land in Higo (roughly half of the province), and given Kumamoto Castle as his provincial residence.
During the Imjin War
Kiyomasa was one of the three senior commanders during the Seven-Year (Imjin) War (1592–1598) against the Korean Joseon. Together with Konishi Yukinaga, he captured Seoul, Busan and many other cities. He defeated the last of the Korean regulars at the Battle of Imjin River and pacified Hamgyong.
The Korean king Seonjo abandoned Seoul before Kiyomasa's forces. Kiyomasa held two Korean princes who had deserted as hostages and used them to force lower-ranking Korean officials to surrender. During the war, he apparently hunted tigers for sport, using a spear, and later presented the pelts to Hideyoshi. Some versions of the story says he was in fact hunting tigers to catch them alive, in order to bring their meat to Hideyoshi, as he thought it would improve his lord's health, but later, the tigers were killed because of the lack of food for his men.
Kiyomasa was a renowned castle-builder. During the Imjin war he built several strategic Japanese-style castles in the territories he conquered. Ulsan castle was one of such fortresses and the site of Kiyomasa's most famous battle — the Siege of Ulsan on December 22, 1597. Kiyomasa led the defense of the castle, successfully holding at bay Chinese general Yang Hao's army, which numbered 60,000. He defended the castle until November 23, 1598. However, his bravery was not reported to Hideyoshi by his rival and superior Ishida Mitsunari. Hideyoshi recalled him to Kyōto. After Hideyoshi's death, Kiyomasa clashed with Mitsunari, and started approaching Tokugawa Ieyasu.
William Scott Wilson describes Katō Kiyomasa thus: "He was a military man first and last, outlawing even the recitation of poetry, putting the martial arts above all else. His precepts show the single-mindedness and Spartan attitudes of the man, [they] demonstrate emphatically that the warrior's first duty in the early 17th century was simply to 'grasp the sword and die'. Contemporary accounts of Katō describe him as awe-inspiring, yet not unfriendly, and a natural leader of men."
A devoted believer of Nichiren Buddhism, Kiyomasa encouraged the building of Nichiren temples across his domains. He came into conflict with Konishi Yukinaga, who ruled the other half of Higo province, and was a Christian, Kiyomasa being noted for brutally suppressing and persecuting Christianity. At the battle of Hondo, he ordered his men to cut open the bellies of all pregnant Christian women and cut off their infant's heads.
During the Battle of Sekigahara, Kiyomasa remained in Kyūshū. Believing that the Toyotomi would fall without the help of the Tokugawa (and the hatred he had of Ishida Mitsunari commanding the Toyotomi forces), he sided with the eastern army of Tokugawa Ieyasu. For his loyalty to the Tokugawa, Kiyomasa was rewarded with the former territories of his rival Konishi (who had sided with Ishida), which when added to his existing territory, increased the Kumamoto domain to around 530,000 koku.
In his later years, Kiyomasa tried to work as a mediator for the increasingly complicated relationship between Ieyasu and Toyotomi Hideyori. In 1611, en route by sea to Kumamoto after one such meeting, he fell ill, and died shortly after his arrival. He was buried at Honmyō-ji temple in Kumamoto, but also has graves in Yamagata Prefecture and Tokyo. Kiyomasa is also enshrined in many Shinto shrines in Japan, including Katō Shrine in Kumamoto.
His son, Katō Tadahiro, succeeded him as Higo no kami 肥後守 (provincial governor of Higo), but his fief (Kumamoto) was confiscated, and he was exiled (kaieki; attaindered) in 1632 by Tokugawa Iemitsu on suspicion of conspiring against him, possibly with the likes of Tokugawa Tadanaga; who was ordered to commit seppuku in 1633.
Kiyomasa married a daughter of Mizuno Tadashige, Shōjō-in, who was adopted by Tokugawa Ieyasu prior to their marriage. Their daughter, Yōrin-in, would go on to marry Tokugawa Ieyasu's 10th son, Tokugawa Yorinobu.
In 1910, Kiyomasa was posthumously promoted to junior 3rd court rank (jusanmi 従三位).
In popular culture
Film and television
Katō Kiyomasa is a character in the Koei video games Kessen, Kessen III, Samurai Warriors 3, Samurai Warriors 4, Mōri Motonari: Chikai no Sanshi and Age of Empires III. He is a playable character in Pokémon Conquest (Pokémon + Nobunaga's Ambition in Japan), with his partner Pokémon being Fraxure and Haxorus.
In Tezuka Osamu's Blackjack manga, a road worker named Katô Kiyomasa ("just like the samurai!" as he says himself) dissuades a teenager who failed his exams from committing suicide and has his arms reattached to his body by Blackjack after a gas line rupture wounds him severely in an explosion.
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- 北関大捷碑 "其秋清正 入北道、兵鋭甚、鐡嶺以北無城守焉、於是鞠敬仁等叛、應賊、敬仁者會寧府吏也、素志不卒、及賊到富寧、隙危扇亂、執兩王子及宰臣、□播者、並傳諸長吏、與賊效欸"
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- "Kiyomasa + Fraxure - Pokemon Conquest characters". Pokemon. Retrieved 2012-06-17.
- Kitajima Manji 北島万次 (2007). Katō Kiyomasa Chōsen shinryaku no jitsuzō 加藤清正: 朝鮮侵略の実像. Tokyo: Yoshikawa Kōbunkan 吉川弘文館.
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