Lady Kai (甲斐姫) ("hime" means lady, princess, woman of noble family), speculated to have been born in 1572, was the daughter of Narita Ujinaga and granddaughter of Akai Teruko, retainers of the Later Hōjō clan in the Kantō region. She is known as the heroic woman who helped her father's resistance at Oshi Castle against Toyotomi Hideyoshi's army during the Siege of Odawara. After the war, she became one of the wives of Hideyoshi. She was known for her bravery and beauty. According to the chronicle of Narita clan, she was praised as "The most beautiful woman in east Japan".（東国無双の美人）
In June 1590, Ishida Mitsunari led a 20,000-man army to take Oshi Castle. Owing to lack of foresight and planning, his army was devastated by a water attack. Kai was said to have volunteered to rout the remaining soldiers, donning armor and riding on horseback with 200 men. When Ishida was reinforced by Sanada Masayuki, Sanada Nobushige and Asano Nagamasa, she was said to have slain the Sanada retainer, Miyage Takashige, and use a water attack causing massive damage for Toyotomi clan. When Odawara Castle surrendered, her father also chose to do the same with the hope of ending warfare.
She and her father were put under Gamō Ujisato's care for a time. Sometime when her father was away, an internal rebellion was caused by Hamada Shugen and his younger brother (historical records suggest that the revolt was actually started by Ujinaga's brothers). During this time, Kai's mother-in-law was killed. As soon as she heard about the incident, Kai brandished a sword and sought to end the rebels. She slew the instigator and two followers, effectively repressing the bloodshed. Hideyoshi heard of her bravery and married her. As a result, her father became one of Hideyoshi's trusted generals. He was rewarded with Karasuyama Castle and 20,000 koku.
Much later, near the end of the Siege of Osaka's Summer Campaign, she is said to have fled with Toyotomi Hideyori's concubine and Hideyori's daughter, Nāhime. It is said that Kaihime personally defended Nāhime from Tokugawa force, and three of them became nuns at Tōkei-ji.
In popular culture
- Kaihime appears in Koei's video game Samurai Warriors 3 and Samurai Warriors 4, where her weapon is a sword-whip, and in the video game Takeda 3, as a general named Narita Kaihime.
- She also appears as a character in Irem's trading card video game Sengoku Efuda-yugi: Hotogisu Ran.
- She is a playable character in Pokémon Conquest (Pokémon + Nobunaga's Ambition in Japan), with her partner Pokémon being Darumaka and Darmanitan.
- Professional wrestler Hiroyo Matsumoto wrestled as Kaihime for the Dramatic Dream Team promotion on February 10, 2013.
- Portrayed by Nana Eikura in the 2012 movie The Floating Castle.
- Himegimi-tachi no Dai Sengoku Emaki (姫君たちの大戦国絵巻); ISBN 978-4-404-03705-3
- Narita-ki (成田記)、小沼十五郎保道著、大澤俊吉訳・解説、歴史図書社、1980年
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