|Tachibana family head|
|Preceded by||Tachibana Dōsetsu|
|Succeeded by||Tachibana Muneshige|
|Born||Tachibana Castle, Chikuzen Province, Japan|
|Died||Yanagawa, Fukuoka Hizen Province, Japan|
|Mother||The daughter of Monchūsho Akitoyo|
|Allegiance|| Ōtomo clan|
Siege of Yanagawa
Tachibana Ginchiyo (立花 誾千代, September 23, 1569 – November 30, 1602) was head of the Japanese Tachibana clan and onna-musha during the Sengoku period. She was the daughter of Tachibana Dōsetsu, a powerful retainer of the Ōtomo clan (which were rivals of the Shimazu clan at the time). Because Dosetsu had no sons, he requested that Ginchiyo be made family head.
Tachibana Ginchiyo was the daughter of Tachibana Dōsetsu, a powerful samurai known as "Lightning God". Her mother was the daughter of Monchūsho Akitoyo(問注所鑑豊). Her mother and her former husband Yasutake Shigenori(安武鎮則) had a son Yasutake Moan(安武茂庵) and a daughter who married Netami Shigehisa(米谷比鎮久). According to one sourse, the chronicle of Komono clan, Dōsetsu had another daughter, Masachiyo(政千代) who died at 12 years old. The letter "誾" in Ginchiyo's name was named by Masugin, a monk in Hizen province. Ginchiyo was personally named by her father, with the name more or less meaning "one who would not listen idly to others". There are many speculations about Ginchiyo's personality, but according to some reports from Otomo Family Document (大 友 家 文書 録), it is said that she was a severe and rigid figure, a valiant woman, with remarkable communication skills, as strong and determined as any famous warrior of the time.
When Dōsetsu was ill and lost his other children, he was pleased that Ginchiyo had survived. Despite their suggestion to pass his leadership on to one of his distant relatives, he told his retainers that Ginchiyo would be his heiress after his death.
Ginchiyo succeeded her father and led the clan in a period of difficulty at only 6 years old. She inherited her father's all interest such as the status of castellan, territory, belongings and the famous sword Raikiri (雷切, Lightning Cutter). She recruited women to become her elite guard and trained all the maidens of the castle in warfare skills to intimidate visitors and to protect it if other clans attacked her domain. Dōsetsu died fighting the Shimazu clan at Neko'o castle on November 2, 1585. His wishes were respected and Ginchiyo became the lord of the Tachibana clan. Five years after her rule, she married Tachibana Muneshige, who had been adopted into the family and continued Dōsetsu's family line after Ginchiyo.
In 1586 the Shimazu clan marched with his troops to conquer Kyushu, attacked the Ōtomo clan in the Bungo province and the Tachibana Castle in the north. The Tachibana clan fought back against Shimazu. In Otomo Family Document (大友家文書録), describes that when the commanders of the Shimazu army arrived near Tachibana castle, Ginchiyo armed the women with firearms and defended the castle gates.
When Toyotomi Hideyoshi led 200,000 men to conquer Kyushu, the Shimazu army retreated to the Higo Province. The Tachibana forces were eventually forced to flee during the Kyūshū Campaign. Tachibana castle fell to Hideyoshi, who entrusted it to Kobayakawa Takakage. Ginchiyo and Muneshige allied with Hideyoshi in the campaign against their traditional rival, Shimazu clan.
Service under Hideyoshi
After the Tachibana clan siding with Toyotomi Hideyoshi and he had conquered Kyushu in 1587, Muneshige split from the Ōtomo to become a daimyō in his own right. He was given Yanagawa castle in Chikugo province, after this the Tachibana became an independent clan. It is said that Ginchiyo and Muneshige did not like each other, she opposed the change of domain and many other policies of Muneshige. Even after transferring clan leadership to Muneshige, she still had much political and military influence.
After Kyushu campaign, Hideyoshi is said to return Tachibana Castle to Ginchiyo and she lives separately from Muneshige, who stayed at Yanagawa Castle. When Muneshige was absent, Ginchiyo was responsible for managing the Tachibana clan domains and commanding Yanagawa Castle. The Tachibana clan fought in the Siege of Odawara the battle that unified Japan under Hideyoshi name.
In 1592 Hideyoshi ordered that Tachibana Muneshige and Tachibana Naotsugu participate of the Invasion to the Korea under the command of Kobayakawa Takakage. Hideyoshi built Nagoya castle as a base to launch attacks on Korea. The castle was relatively close to Ginchiyo's residence in Hizen Province, it is said that Hideyoshi invited Ginchiyo to visit the castle several times when her husband was away. However, when Hideyoshi saw Ginchiyo with her armed women, he left fearing her personality.
After the failure of Hideyoshi's campaign of Korea, Ginchiyo, who never gave birth to a child, divorces Muneshige and becomes a Buddhist nun.
After the death of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the power of the Toyotomi clan declined and Japan would go to war again. In 1600 in the Battle of Sekigahara, the Tachibana clan would ally itself with Ishida Mitsunari in the Western army against the Eastern Army of Tokugawa Ieyasu. Ginchiyo first opposed Muneshige's decision to join the Western army.
In the Kyushu Sekigahara campaign, Ginchiyo defended the Ōtomo clan from the invasion of Kuroda Kanbei and Katō Kiyomasa. After the defeat of Western Army in Sekigahara, the Eastern Army under the leadership of Kanbei, Kiyomasa and Nabeshima Katsushige began to march toward their doorstep, Ginchiyo organized her fellow nuns in armed resistance against the advancing army. She faced them alone while wearing armor at the Siege of Yanagawa and protected the rearguard of Muneshige to escape.
Kuroda and Kato were old comrades-in-arms of Tachibana Muneshige from the days of the Korean invasion, and following the unexpected and challenging resistance of Ginchiyo, they proposed that she and her ex-husband should surrender and join them in a campaign against Shimazu Yoshihiro, who was also from the Western Army and fled from Sekigahara. Muneshige agreed, but Tokugawa leyasu ordered the campaign to stop almost before it had begun because he did not want a further war in Kyushu. Ginchiyo and Muneshige was pardoned nonetheless. The Tachibana family was deprived of their domains in the aftermath of Mitsunari's defeat. Muneshige thanked Ginchiyo for helping him in battle and they both went their own way.
After the battle, she was put under protection of Kiyomasa with other retainers of Tachibana clan. She lived in the residence of Ichizō(市蔵), the local farmer of Tamana, Higo Province. Kiyomasa wrote in his letter that he sent food provisions to Ginchiyo at that time. Polite words of the letter suggests that he treated Ginchiyo as a noble woman. 
In popular culture
- "立花氏". www2.harimaya.com. Retrieved 2019-04-08.
- 立花宗茂. 人物叢書. 2001. ISBN 4642052208.
- "立花家十七代が語る立花宗茂と柳川 | 人物紹介・系図". www.muneshige.com. Retrieved 2019-04-08.
- "立花 誾千代姫". ww2.tiki.ne.jp. Retrieved 2019-04-08.
- Davis, Paul K. (2001). 100 Decisive Battles: From Ancient Times to the Present. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195143669.
- Turnbull, Stephen (2012-01-20). Samurai Women 1184–1877. Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 9781846039522.
- "立花家十七代が語る立花宗茂と柳川 | 宮永様跡とぼたもちさん". www.muneshige.com. Retrieved 2019-11-02.
| Tachibana family head