Samurai Gaiden: Inatomi Sukenao


In the year 1542 Portuguese matchlock firearms made their way, via shipwreck, to Tanegashima island. Many warlords and their samurai retainers gained renown for their way of using these new firearms, such as the Saiga and Oda clans.

But few samurai could claim to have founded their own gunnery dojo. Today we’ll talk about just one such individual – the arguable founder of the Inatomi-ryu school of gunnery, Inatomi Sukenao.

Inatomi Sukenao (1552-1611)

Sukenao was born near the capital city of Kyoto in 1552 and would have matured into adulthood in the late 1560s, which was about the time when Oda Nobunaga made his way into that region. Sukenao was the son of a no-name samurai named Inatomi Naohide, but that made him the grandson of Inatomi Sukehide.

Sukehide was said to have trained in gunnery arts with Sasaki Yoshikuni and developed a unique style of gunnery tactics. Sukehide also formed a foundry specializing in casting firearms, and particularly large ones that we commonly refer to as…cannon.

The Inatomi were hereditary vassals of the Isshiki clan of Tango province. When the Hosokawa family conquered the Isshiki in 1578, Sukenao would have been 26 years old. With Tango province being handed over to the Hosokawa the Inatomi family became Hosokawa vassals.

Now you see, Sukenao was the third generation cannon-maker. He had trained with his grandfather in what was to become known as the Inatomi-ryu school of Gunnery Martial Arts. Historical records seem to have differing accounts on who founded the school – Sukenao or his grandfather Sukehide – but they all seem to agree that Sukehide laid the framework that Sukenao built upon.

Sukenao was a bit of a strange fellow in his own right, it seems. He supposedly had a habit of wearing two suits of armor, one on top of the other, earning him the nickname Ni-ryo Gusoku or Two Collar Armor. Which is weird, but not the first time I’ve heard of that. You might remember when we were talking about the aftermath of the first Battle of Uji there was a giant of a warrior monk who wore two suits of armor as well.

Sukenao started his service, like his father and grandfather, as a samurai of the Isshiki clan of Tango province. However in 1578 the Oda clan came a-knocking on the Isshiki door. Hosokawa Fujitaka, with his son whom we’ve mentioned before – good ‘ol psychopath Tadaoki – were the leaders of the invasion.

The Isshiki were defensively strong, having once been a prominent clan of the realm, they were able to mostly hold the Hosokawa forces at bay. Oda Nobunaga sent Akechi Mitsuhide, back when they were still on good terms, to aid the Hosokawa. After Akechi’s arrival one of the Isshiki’s vassals, the Nuta, betrayed them and defected to the Oda.

Between Akechi’s reinforcements and the Nuta’s betrayal the Isshiki leader, Yoshimichi, was caught up in his castle as Yumiki. When the castle fell, Yoshimichi committed seppuku, leaving what remained of the Isshiki clan to his son, Yoshisada.

By the way I’ve also seen Yumiki Castle as Yumi Castle and Yuminoki Castle. Sukenao participated in the defenses at Yumiki and some accounts suggest he was in charge of the garrison defending the castle and is said to have continued to fight the Oda with a small cadre of gunnery soldiers. Impressed with his determination and courage they offered him the chance to defect as well and he agreed, becoming a samurai of the Hosokawa clan – serving our favorite nutjob, Tadaoki.

It was during this time under the Hosokawa that the Inatomi-ryu school of gunnery really started to pick up. With a wealthy, influential patron who had connections to the capital and Oda Nobunaga’s favor a gun school was a pretty solid investment.

One story posits Sukenao as sitting in a teahouse and being annoyed by the squawking of birds on the roof. He acquired his gun, aimed at the rooftop, and fired, hitting a bird without damaing the roof. The rest of the birds, presumably, were awed by his marksmanship and departed the roof.

Now, it was most likely under Tadoaki then, that he participated in the Korean invasions during the Imjin War. He was apparently a participant at Kato Kiyomasa’s Ulsan Castle defenses – well probably the capture of Ulsan before that, too.

Sukenao was one of the men tasked with guarding Tadaoki’s wife, Garasha, who was a political prisoner of the Toyotomi in Osaka castle. We’ve spoken before about what happened in 1600 when Ishida Mitsunari attempted to gather political hostages from amongst those within Osaka castle. But long story short, Garasha, bid one of her guardians to kill her to prevent Ishida from taking her captive to use against Tadaoki. Or, as we mentioned in that same story, the guards may have been under Tadaoki’s orders to kill Garasha if she was in danger of being captured.

Sukenao was part of the group of guards that were holding Ishida’s men at bay long enough for Garasha’s death to take place. Once she was dead, he and a few of his cronies decided…no point in sticking around, and like Sir Robin before them, they bravely ran away – they did.

Because of his abandonment of his post, Tadaoki came to distrust and resent Sukenao. There may be some indication he wanted Sukenao dead – which is actually kind of likely given the stories I’ve read about Tadaoki.

Sukenao, thus, was made a ronin after either fleeing Tadaoki’s wrath or being fired by Tadaoki. In all likelihood he probably never returned to the Hosokawa after abandoning his post. Tokugawa Ieyasu vouched for him though, because he wanted to ensure the Inatomi school of gunnery continued and he probably wanted to make sure that the Toyotomi rebels didn’t get that kind of information and training on their side. So Ieyasu arranged for Sukeano to serve his fourth son, Matsuidaira Tadayoshi. Tadayoshi was given control over the Owari domain of Kiyosu, worth some 520 thousand koku.

Unfortunately for Sukenao, Tadayoshi was wounded during the fighting at Sekigahara. He died in the year 1608 at the age of 28. His younger brother, Tokugawa Yoshinao, was given control of his lands and Sukenao was permitted to remain within the domain and transfer his employment to Yoshinao.

I’m not totally sure on the specifics but at some point within the Owari domain he adopted his elder sister’s son, Inatomi Hideaki, because he had no children of his own. Around this time he is said to have had a dream that led him to take the tonsure, become a Buddhist monk, and travel to Rikuji temple.

Sukenao died in the year 1611, passing the Inatomi clan onto his nephew whom he had adopted. And apparently that trend continued as Hideaki died without heir and passed the clan onto his younger brother, Hidetaka somewhere between 1645 and 1648.

Some places in Japan still celebrate the Inatomi-ryu’s Gun Corps and school of marksmanship with displays of marksmanship and re-enactments to this day.

Samurai Gaiden: Hosokawa Tadaoki and Akechi Garasha


Aaah, February; the month of love and romance. Valentine’s Day is in just a little over a week. In the spirit of Valetine’s Day we’re going to talk about a love story. The love story of Hosokawa Tadaoki and Akechi Tamako, also known as…Garasha.

Hosokawa Tadaoki (1564-1645) Akechi Tamako (1563-1600)

Hosokawa Tadaoki was the eldest son of Hosokawa Fujitaka, also known as Hosokawa Yusai. Fujitaka had been a courtier of Ashikaga Yoshiteru, the Kengo Shogun we’ve mentioned…numerous times because we’re huge fans of his story. When Yoshiteru was killed Fujitaka was one of the primary forces in the push to bring Ashikaga Yoshiaki to power and he was one of the men who brought Yoshiaki to Oda Nobunaga.

When Nobunaga and Yoshiaki had a falling out, Fujitaka actually stayed in Nobunaga’s service. This is where Tadaoki comes in. At the age of fifteen Fujitaka’s boy fought in his first battle on the Oda side. For the Hosokawa’s loyalty and good service they were made the lords of Tango, worth some 110 thousand koku.

It was around this time that a certain associate of Fujitaka came calling, another lord in Oda Nobunaga’s service: Akechi Mitsuhide. You see, Mitsuhide had a daughter, Tamako, that he felt would be a perfect wife for young Tadaoki.

They were the same age, she was well-educated and poetic, and their fathers were close friends. The perfect arrangement! So Tadaoki and Tamako were married and began a happy life that eventually resulted in the births of several children.

You wouldn't believe, but this girl popped out 6 kids by the time she was 37!

You wouldn’t believe, but she popped out six kids by the time she was 37!

However, just as every rose has its thorns, every marriage, too, has its own set of hurdles to pass over. The incredibly romantic marriage of the Hosokawa boy and the Akechi girl, for political gain on both sides, was no different.

You see, just a few years after they were married  in case you haven’t been following along the last few months’ worth of videos) Tamako’s father betrayed Nobunaga and killed him at Honnoji. Mitsuhide quickly went about getting support from his political allies, such as the Hosokawa.

Fujitaka and Tadaoki decided…not to support the Akechi and sided with his enemy, Toyotomi. This makes perfect sense since Toyotomi would almost have to go through their lands to get to his battle with Mitsuhide so that made them fodder in the political arrangement.

Tadaoki had Tamako locked up and planned to send her back to her father. However this didn’t come to fruition because Mitsuhide lost at the battle of Yamazaki, as we mentioned before, and Tamako was left in a bit of limbo. She was the daughter of the most notorious traitor in the country, at least at that particular moment in time.

An unexpected savior came in the form of…Toyotomi Hideyoshi himself. Hideyoshi pardoned Tamako and convinced Tadaoki to take her back and keep her as a wife.

So the romance was allowed to blossom, once more.

Fast forward about fifteen years to when Tadaoki was fighting for Toyotomi during the Invasions of Korea which occurred in 1592 and 1597, each for about a year’s time. During this time a fellow we’ve discussed recently, Takayama Ukon Shigetomo, introduced Tamako to a thing called Christianity. Although some records suggest that she had already been introduced to it by a handmaid who had converted years earlier.

Either way Shigetomo helped her get baptized, taking the name Gracia, which is where we get her more common name: Garasha, the Japanese pronunciation of Gracia. When Tadaoki returned from Korea to find out that his wife had converted to Christianity he was overjoyed.

Sorry, did I say overjoyed? I meant to say infuriated. He had her locked in a tower where she remained for about a year. Some sources say he demanded she recant her conversion and she refused. Either way she spent some time locked up.

Strange...he looks like such a level-headed fellow.

Strange…he looks like such a level-headed fellow.

It seems that after a year Tadaoki softened up some and released her from her confinement. She seems to have spent much of her time housed in the Hosokawa mansion in Toyotomi-held Osaka, even as Tadaoki got his own castle at Nakatsu in Buzen province.

Finally we come to 1600, Toyotomi Hideyoshi is dead, his young son Hideyori is the nominal leader of Japan and Tokugawa Ieyasu is about to wage a war against the rest of the country to take that position away from Hideyori.

Tadaoki is on the fence about who to side with. On the one hand, he’s a Toyotomi loyalist, on the other hand…Tokugawa Ieyasu gave him a bunch of money to pay off Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s brother-in-law, Hidetsugu. Hidetsugu was a pretty cruel guy and being in his debt was probably not a good thing, especially when he annoyed Hideyoshi and got killed taking numerous associates down with him.

The leader of the pro-Toyotomi forces, Ishida Mitsunari, decided that he needed an extra few cards in his deck and he tried to kidnap all of the daimyos’ families staying in Osaka. One of those families was the Hosokawa.

Tamako saw that the Ishida forces were intent on taking her captive and, as legend has it, she called upon a faithful retainer to murder her because she knew that Christians were forbidden to take their own lives. The retainer killed her to prevent her from being used as a political pawn against her beloved husband.

Lord? I know I prayed for it to warm up this Autumn, but this was not what I meant!

“Lord? I know I prayed for it to warm up this Autumn, but this was not what I meant!”

In reality…European sources of the time suggests that every time Tadaoki left his wife he had standing orders for them to kill her if she might come to danger of dishonoring the family name.

This is also pretty believable because some old writings suggest that Tadaoki had a thing for murdering handmaidens. When he or his wife’s maids made him angry, he was not above simply drawing his sword and cutting them down where they stood, apparently.

All right, so maybe the romance of Tadaoki and Tamako is just a revisionist legend and the truth was that Tadaoki was a brutal, psychotic man who married an unlucky chick.

In the game Kannou Mukashibanashi, Tadaoki is a loving, devoted husband...and this is how they portray him.

In the game Kannou Mukashibanashi, Tadaoki is a loving, devoted husband…and this is still how they portray him.

To further this point in James Clavell’s novel, Shogun, which is a fanciful tale based on the period around Sekigahara, several of the characters are based on the Hosokawa household. The love interest of the main character, John Blackthorne, is named Toda Mariko; she is loosely based on Tamako. Likewise her husband, the violent and scary Buntaro, is based on Tadaoki, and “Iron Fist” Hiromatsu is supposed to be based on his father, Fujitaka.

Even so, Tadaoki and Tamako’s relationship is often shown as one of the most romantic tragedies in Japanese lore; even though in reality there was very little love between the two of them.