Toyotomi Hideyoshi

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Toyotomi Hideyoshi
豊臣 秀吉
Chief Advisor to the Emperor
In office
August 6, 1585 – February 10, 1592
Preceded byNijō Akizane
Succeeded byToyotomi Hidetsugu
Chancellor of the Realm
(Daijō Daijin)
In office
February 2, 1586 – September 18, 1598
Preceded byKonoe Sakihisa
Succeeded byTokugawa Ieyasu
Head of Toyotomi clan
In office
Succeeded byToyotomi Hideyori
Personal details
Hiyoshi-maru (日吉丸)

March 27, 1537
Nakamura-ku, Nagoya, Owari Province
DiedSeptember 18, 1598(1598-09-18) (aged 61)
Fushimi Castle, Kyoto, Japan
Domestic partnerKaihime (concubine)
Other names
  • Kinoshita Tōkichirō (木下 藤吉郎)
  • Hashiba Hideyoshi (羽柴 秀吉)
Divine nameToyokuni Daimyōjin (豊国大明神)
dharma name
Kokutai-yūshō-in-den Reizan Shunryū Daikoji (国泰祐松院殿霊山俊龍大居士)
Nickname(s)"Kozaru" (little monkey)
"Saru" (monkey)
"Toyokuni daimyōjin"
Military service
RankDaimyō, Kampaku, Daijō-daijin
UnitToyotomi clan
CommandsOsaka Castle
Battles/warsSiege of Inabayama
Siege of Kanegasaki
Battle of Anegawa
Siege of Nagashima
Battle of Ichijodani
Siege of Itami
Battle of Nagashino
Siege of Mitsuji
Battle of Tedorigawa
Siege of Miki
Siege of Tottori
Siege of Takamatsu
Battle of Yamazaki
Battle of Shizugatake
Battle of Komaki and Nagakute
Negoro-ji Campaign
Toyama Campaign
Kyūshū campaign
Odawara Campaign
Korean Campaign
See below
Japanese name
Shinjitai豊臣 秀吉
Kyūjitai豐臣 秀吉
Kanaとよとみ ひでよし or とよとみ の ひでよし
Revised HepburnToyotomi Hideyoshi or Toyotomi no Hideyoshi
Toyotomi clan mon (Japanese emblem)

Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣 秀吉, 17 March 1537 – 18 September 1598), otherwise known as Kinoshita Tōkichirō (木下 藤吉郎) and Hashiba Hideyoshi (羽柴 秀吉), was a Japanese samurai and daimyō (feudal lord) of the late Sengoku and Azuchi-Momoyama periods and regarded as the second "Great Unifier" of Japan.[1][2] Although he came from a peasant background, his immense power earned him the rank and title of Kampaku (関白, Imperial Regent) and Daijō-daijin (太政大臣, Chancellor of the Realm), the highest official position and title in the nobility class. He was the first person in history to become a Kampaku who was not born a noble. He then passed the position and title of Kampaku to his nephew, Toyotomi Hidetsugu. He remained in power as Taikō (太閤), the title of retired Kampaku, until his death. It is believed, but not certain, that the reason he refused or could not obtain the title of shogun (征夷大将軍), the leader of the warrior class, was because he was of peasant origin.[3][4]

Hideyoshi rose from a peasant background as a retainer of the prominent lord Oda Nobunaga to become one of the most powerful men in Japanese history. Hideyoshi succeeded Nobunaga after the Honnō-ji Incident in 1582 and continued Nobunaga's campaign to unite Japan that led to the closing of the Sengoku period. Hideyoshi became the de facto leader of Japan and acquired the prestigious positions of daijō-daijin and kampaku by the mid-1580s. Hideyoshi launched the Japanese invasions of Korea in 1592 to initial success, but eventual military stalemate damaged his prestige before his death in 1598. Hideyoshi's young son and successor Toyotomi Hideyori was displaced by Tokugawa Ieyasu at the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 which would lead to the founding of the Tokugawa Shogunate.

Hideyoshi's rule covers most of the Azuchi–Momoyama period of Japan, partially named after his castle, Momoyama Castle. Hideyoshi left an influential and lasting legacy in Japan, including Osaka Castle, the Tokugawa class system, the restriction on the possession of weapons to the samurai, and the construction and restoration of many temples, some of which are still visible in Kyoto.

Early life (1537–1558)[edit]

Nakamura Park in Nagoya, traditionally regarded as Hideyoshi's birthplace

Very little is known for certain about Toyotomi Hideyoshi before 1570, when he begins to appear in surviving documents and letters. His autobiography starts in 1577, but in it, Hideyoshi spoke very little about his past.

According to tradition, Hideyoshi was born on 16 February 1537 according to the lunar Japanese calendar (17 March 1537 according to the Julian calendar; 27 March 1537 (Proleptic Gregorian calendar)) in Nakamura, Owari Province (present-day Nakamura Ward, Nagoya), in the middle of the chaotic Sengoku period under the collapsed Ashikaga Shogunate. Hideyoshi had no traceable samurai lineage, and his father Kinoshita Yaemon was an ashigaru – a peasant employed by the samurai as a foot soldier.[5] Hideyoshi had no surname, and his childhood given name was Hiyoshi-maru (日吉丸) ("Bounty of the Sun") although variations exist. Yaemon died in 1543 when Hideyoshi was seven years old.[6]

Many legends describe Hideyoshi being sent to study at a temple as a young man, but he rejected temple life and went in search of adventure.[7] Under the name Kinoshita Tōkichirō (木下 藤吉郎), he first joined the Imagawa clan as a servant to a local ruler named Matsushita Yukitsuna (松下之綱). Hideyoshi traveled all the way to the lands of Imagawa Yoshimoto, the daimyo based in Suruga Province, and served there for a time, only to abscond with a sum of money entrusted to him by Matsushita Yukitsuna.[citation needed]

Service under Nobunaga (1558–1582)[edit]

In 1558, Hideyoshi became an ashigaru for the powerful Oda clan, the rulers of his home province of Owari, now headed by the ambitious Oda Nobunaga.[7] Hideyoshi soon became Nobunaga's sandal-bearer, a position of relatively high status.[citation needed] According to his biographers, Hideyoshi also supervised the repair of Kiyosu Castle, a claim described as "apocryphal", and managed the kitchen.[8] After Nobunaga noticed his talents at the Battle of Okehazama in 1560, when Nobunaga defeated Imagawa Yoshimoto, he became one of Nobunaga's trusted retainers.

In 1561, Hideyoshi married One, the adopted daughter of Asano Nagakatsu, a descendant of Minamoto no Yorimitsu. Hideyoshi carried out repairs on Sunomata Castle with his younger half-brother, Hashiba Koichirō, along with Hachisuka Masakatsu, and Maeno Nagayasu. Hideyoshi's efforts were well-received because Sunomata was in enemy territory, and according to legend Hideyoshi constructed a fort in Sunomata overnight and discovered a secret route into Mount Inaba, after which much of the local garrison surrendered.[9][citation needed]

One Hundred Aspects of the Moon No. 6, by Yoshitoshi: "Mount Inaba Moon" 1885, 12th month. The young Toyotomi Hideyoshi (then named Kinoshita Tōkichirō) leads a small group assaulting the castle on Mount Inaba.

In 1564, Hideyoshi was very successful as a negotiator. He managed to convince, mostly with liberal bribes, a number of Mino warlords to desert the Saitō clan. Hideyoshi approached many Saitō clan samurai and convinced them to submit to Nobunaga, including the Saitō clan's strategist, Takenaka Shigeharu.[citation needed]

Nobunaga's easy victory at the siege of Inabayama Castle in 1567 was largely due to Hideyoshi's efforts,[10] and despite his peasant origins, in 1568 Hideyoshi became one of Nobunaga's most distinguished generals, eventually taking the name Hashiba Hideyoshi (羽柴 秀吉). The new surname included two characters, one each from Oda's right-hand men, Niwa Nagahide ( 長秀), Shibata Katsuie (田 勝家) and the new given name included characters from Akechi Mitsuhide (明智 光), Mori Yoshinari ().

In 1570, Hideyoshi protected Nobunaga's retreat from Azai-Asakura forces at Kanegasaki. Hideyoshi's rear-guard defense of his lord's escape is one of his fabled accomplishments under Nobunaga. Later in June 1570, at the Battle of Anegawa, in which Oda Nobunaga allied with Tokugawa Ieyasu to lay siege to two fortresses of the Azai and Asakura clans, Hideyoshi was assigned to lead Oda troops into open battle for the first time.[8][11]

In 1573, after victorious campaigns against the Azai and Asakura, Nobunaga appointed Hideyoshi daimyō of three districts in the northern part of Ōmi Province. Initially, Hideyoshi based at the former Azai headquarters at Odani Castle but moved to Kunitomo town and renamed it "Nagahama" in tribute to Nobunaga. Hideyoshi later moved to the port at Imahama on Lake Biwa, where he began work on Imahama Castle and took control of the nearby Kunitomo firearms factory that had been established some years previously by the Azai and Asakura. Under Hideyoshi's administration, the factory's output of firearms increased dramatically.[12] Later, Hideyoshi participated in the 1573 siege of Nagashima.[13]

In 1574, Hideyoshi along with Araki Murashige, captured Itami Castle and later in 1575, fought in the Battle of Nagashino against the Takeda clan.[14]

In 1576, he took part at the Siege of Mitsuji, part of the eleven-year Ishiyama Hongan-ji War. Later, Nobunaga sent Hideyoshi to Himeji Castle to conquer the Chūgoku region from the Mori clan. Hideyoshi then fought in the Battle of Tedorigawa (1577), the siege of Miki (1578), the siege of Tottori (1581) and also Siege of Takamatsu (1582).[13]

Death of Nobunaga[edit]

During the Siege of Takamatsu, on June 21, 1582, Oda Nobunaga and his eldest son and heir, Nobutada, were killed in the Honnō-ji incident by the forces of the traitorous Akechi Mitsuhide. Their assassination in Honnō-ji temple in Kyoto ended Nobunaga's quest to consolidate centralised power in Japan under his authority.

Hideyoshi, seeking vengeance for the death of his lord, made peace with the Mōri clan and thirteen days later met Mitsuhide and defeated him at the Battle of Yamazaki, avenging his lord (Nobunaga) and taking Nobunaga's authority and power for himself.[13]: 275–279 

Rise to power (1582–1585)[edit]

Japan around 1582

Construction of Osaka Castle[edit]

In 1582, Hideyoshi began construction of Osaka Castle. Built on the site of the temple Ishiyama Hongan-ji, which was destroyed by Nobunaga,[15] in 1597, construction was completed and the castle would become the last stronghold of the Toyotomi clan after Hideyoshi's death.[16]

Conflict with Katsuie[edit]

One Hundred Aspects of the Moon No. 67, by Yoshitoshi: The Moon and Hideyoshi at the Battle of Shizugatake.

In late 1582, Hideyoshi was in a very strong position. He summoned the powerful daimyō to Kiyosu Castle so that they could determine Nobunaga's heir. Oda Nobukatsu and Oda Nobutaka quarreled, causing Hideyoshi to instead choose Nobunaga's grandson Samboshi, whose other name was Hidenobu.[17] Katsuie initially supported the choice of Samboshi, Nobunaga's grandson.[18] but he later supported Oda Nobutaka, Nobunaga's third son, for whom Katsuie had performed the genpuku ritual. He then allied with Oda Nobutaka and Takigawa Kazumasu against Hideyoshi who was allied with Oda Nobukatsu. Having won the support of the other two Oda clan elders, Niwa Nagahide and Ikeda Tsuneoki, Hideyoshi established Hidenobu's position, as well as his own influence in the Oda clan. He distributed Nobunaga's provinces among the generals and formed a council of four generals to help him govern. Tension quickly escalated between Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Shibata Katsuie, and at the Battle of Shizugatake in the following year, Hideyoshi destroyed Katsuie's forces.[19] Hideyoshi had thus consolidated his own power, dealt with most of the Oda clan, and controlled 30 provinces.[10]: 313–314  The famous kirishitan daimyo and samurai Dom Justo Takayama fought on his side at this epic battle.

Conflict with Ieyasu[edit]

In 1584, Nobunaga's other son, Oda Nobukatsu, remained hostile to Hideyoshi. Nobukatsu allied himself with Tokugawa Ieyasu, and the two sides fought at the inconclusive Battle of Komaki and Nagakute. It ultimately resulted in a stalemate, although Hideyoshi's forces were delivered a heavy blow.[9] Ieyasu and Hideyoshi never actually fought against each other themselves but the former managed to check the advance of the latter's allies.[20] Finally, after Hideyoshi and Ieyasu heard the news of Ikeda Tsuneoki and Mori Nagayoshi's deaths, Hideyoshi and Ieyasu withdrew their troops. Later, Hideyoshi made peace with Nobukatsu and Ieyasu, ending the pretext for war between the Tokugawa and Hashiba clans. Hideyoshi sent Tokugawa Ieyasu his younger sister Asahi no kata and mother Ōmandokoro as hostages.

Toyotomi clan and Imperial Court appointment[edit]

Like Oda Nobunaga before him, Hideyoshi never achieved the title of shōgun. Instead, he arranged to have himself adopted by Konoe Sakihisa, one of the noblest men belonging to the Fujiwara clan and secured a succession of high court titles Chancellor (Daijō-daijin), including, in 1585, the prestigious position of Imperial Regent (kampaku).[21] Also in 1585, Hideyoshi was formally given the new clan name Toyotomi (instead of Fujiwara) by the Imperial Court.[9] He built a lavish palace, the Jurakudai, in 1587, and entertained the reigning Emperor, Emperor Go-Yōzei, the following year.[22]

Battle standards of Toyotomi Hideyoshi

Unification of Japan (1585–1592)[edit]

Hideyoshi promulgated a ban on Christianity in form of the "Bateren-tsuiho-rei" (the Purge Directive Order to the Jesuits) on July 24, 1587.
Letter from Duarte de Meneses, Viceroy of Portuguese India, to Hideyoshi dated April 1588, concerning the suppression of Christians, a National Treasure of Japan[23][24]

Negoro-ji Campaign[edit]

Afterwards in 1585, Hideyoshi launched the siege of Negoro-ji and subjugated Kii Province.[25] The Negoro-gumi, the warrior monks of Negoro-ji, were quite skilled in the use of firearms, and were devout followers of Shingi, a branch of the Shingon sect of Buddhism. They were allied with the Ikkō-ikki, and with Tokugawa Ieyasu, one of Toyotomi's chief rivals. In particular, they attracted Hideyoshi's ire for their support of Tokugawa in the Battle of Komaki and Nagakute the previous year. After attacking a number of other warrior monk outposts in the area, Hideyoshi's force turned to the monastery of Negoro-ji, attacking it from two sides. By this time, many of the Negoro-gumi had already fled to Ōta Castle. Later, Hideyoshi besieged Ōta Castle. The complex was set aflame, beginning with the residences of the priests, and Hideyoshi's samurai cut down monks as they escaped the blazing buildings.

Shikoku Campaign[edit]

In the 1585 invasion of Shikoku, Toyotomi forces seized and conquered Shikoku island, the smallest of Japan's four main islands, from Chōsokabe Motochika.[26] Toyotomi's forces arrived 113,000 strong under Toyotomi Hidenaga, Toyotomi Hidetsugu, Ukita Hideie and the Mōri clan's "Two Rivers", Kobayakawa Takakage and Kikkawa Motoharu. Opposing them were 40,000 men of Chōsokabe's. Despite the overwhelming size of Hideyoshi's army, and the suggestions of his advisors, Motochika chose to fight to defend his territories. The battles culminated in the siege of Ichinomiya Castle, which lasted for 26 days. Chōsokabe made a half-hearted attempt to relieve his castle from the siege, but surrendered in the end. He was allowed to keep Tosa Province, while the rest of Shikoku was divided among Hideyoshi's generals.

Toyama Campaign[edit]

During the late summer of August 1585, Hideyoshi launched an attack on Etchū Province and Hida Province.[27] Toyotomi Hideyoshi dispatched Kanamori Nagachika to destroy the Anegakōji clan of Hida and he carried out the siege of Toyama Castle. The Toyama Castle garrison was led by Sassa Narimasa, one of his former allies many years back. Hideyoshi led his army of around 100,000 soldiers against the 20,000 men of the Sassa Narimasa forces; in the end, Narimasa's defense was shattered, opening the way for Toyotomi's supremacy over Etchū Province and Hida Province.

Kyushu Campaign[edit]

In 1586 Toyotomi Hideyoshi conquered Kyūshū, wresting control from the Shimazu clan.[28] Toyotomi Hidenaga, half-brother to Hideyoshi, landed to the south of Bungo on Kyūshū's eastern coast. Meanwhile, Hideyoshi took his own forces down a more western route, in Chikuzen Province. Later that year, with a total of 200,000 soldiers against the 30,000 men of the Shimazu forces, the two brothers would meet up in the Shimazu home province of Satsuma. They besieged Kagoshima castle, the Shimazu clan's home. The Shimazu surrendered, leaving Hideyoshi to return his attention to the Hōjō clan of Kantō, the last major clan to oppose him.

Later in 1587, Hideyoshi banished Christian missionaries from Kyūshū, to exert greater control over the Kirishitan daimyō.[29] However, since he did much trade with Europeans, individual Christians were overlooked unofficially.

Sword Hunt[edit]

In 1588, Hideyoshi forbade ordinary peasants from owning weapons and started a sword hunt to confiscate arms.[30] The swords were melted down to create a statue of the Buddha. This measure effectively stopped peasant revolts, and ensured greater stability at the expense of freedom of the individual daimyō.

Odawara Campaign[edit]

In 1590, Hideyoshi carried out the Odawara Campaign against the Hōjō clan in the Kantō region.[31] It is notable as the first battle that involved the alliance between Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu. With 220,000 men, the massive army of Toyotomi Hideyoshi surrounded Odawara Castle and its 82,000-strong Hōjō garrison, in what has been called "the most unconventional siege lines in samurai history". The samurai were entertained by everything from concubines, prostitutes, and musicians to acrobats, fire-eaters, and jugglers. The defenders slept on the ramparts with their arquebuses and armor; despite their smaller numbers, they discouraged Hideyoshi from attacking. After three months the Hōjō surrendered, losing the will to fight after the sudden appearance of Ishigakiyama Ichiya Castle.

This eliminated the last resistance to Hideyoshi's authority. His victory signified the end of the Sengoku period. During the siege, Hideyoshi offered Ieyasu the eight Hōjō-ruled provinces in the Kantō region, in exchange for the submission of Ieyasu's five provinces. Ieyasu accepted this proposal.

Death of Sen no Rikyū[edit]

In February 1591, Hideyoshi ordered Sen no Rikyū to commit suicide, likely in one of his angry outbursts.[32] Rikyū had been a trusted retainer and master of the tea ceremony under both Hideyoshi and Nobunaga. Under Hideyoshi's patronage, Rikyū made significant changes to the aesthetics of the tea ceremony that had a lasting influence over many aspects of Japanese culture. Even after Rikyū's death, Hideyoshi is said to have built his many construction projects based upon aesthetics promoted by Rikyū, perhaps suggesting that he regretted his actions.[citation needed]

Following Rikyū's death, Hideyoshi turned his attention from tea ceremony to Noh, which he had been studying since becoming Imperial Regent. During his brief stay in Nagoya Castle in what is today Saga Prefecture, on Kyūshū, Hideyoshi memorised the shite (lead role) parts of ten Noh plays, which he then performed, forcing various daimyō to accompany him onstage as the waki (secondary, accompanying role). He even performed before the emperor.[33]

Kunohe Rebellion[edit]

The Kunohe rebellion was an insurrection in the Sengoku period of Japan, that occurred in Mutsu Province from 13 March to 4 September 1591.

Kunohe Masazane, a claimant to daimyo of the Nanbu clan, launched a rebellion against his rival Nanbu Nobunao which spread across Mutsu Province. Nobunao was backed by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who along with Tokugawa Ieyasu sent a large army into the Tōhoku region in mid-1591 which quickly defeated the rebels. Hideyoshi's army arrived at Kunohe Castle in early September. Masazane was outnumbered and surrendered Kunohe Castle but he and the castle defenders were executed. The Kunohe rebellion was the final battle in Toyotomi Hideyoshi's campaigns during the Sengoku period and completed the unification of Japan.[34]

Taikō (1592–1598)[edit]

Replica of Great Buddha of Kyoto. The Great Buddha of Kyoto was built by Hideyoshi to show off his power.

The future stability of the Toyotomi dynasty after Hideyoshi's eventual death was put in doubt with the death of his son Tsurumatsu in September 1591. The three-year-old was his only child. When his half-brother Hidenaga died shortly after, Hideyoshi named his nephew Hidetsugu his heir, adopting him in January 1592. Hideyoshi resigned as kampaku to take the title of taikō (retired regent). Hidetsugu succeeded him as kampaku.[citation needed]

Replica of Toyotomi Hideyoshi's armor

With Hideyoshi's health beginning to falter, but still yearning for some accomplishment to solidify his legacy, he adopted Oda Nobunaga's dream of a Japanese conquest of China and launched the conquest of the Ming dynasty by way of Korea (at the time known as Koryu or Joseon).[35]

Hideyoshi had been communicating with the Koreans since 1587 requesting unmolested passage into China. As an ally of Ming China, the Joseon government of the time at first refused talks entirely, and in April and July 1591 also refused demands that Japanese troops be allowed to march through Korea. The government of Joseon was concerned that allowing Japanese troops to march through Korea (Joseon) would mean that masses of Ming Chinese troops would battle Hideyoshi's troops on Korean soil before they could reach China, putting Korean security at risk. In August 1591, Hideyoshi ordered preparations for an invasion of Korea to begin.[citation needed]

First campaign against Korea[edit]

In the first campaign, Hideyoshi appointed Ukita Hideie as field marshal, and had him go to the Korean peninsula in April 1592. Konishi Yukinaga occupied Seoul, which was the capital of the Joseon dynasty of Korea, on June 19. After Seoul fell easily, Japanese commanders held a war council in June in Seoul and determined targets of subjugation called Hachidokuniwari (literally, dividing the country into eight routes). Each targeted province was attacked by one of the army's eight divisions:

In only four months, Hideyoshi's forces had a route into Manchuria and occupied much of Korea. The Korean king Seonjo of Joseon escaped to Uiju and requested military intervention from China. In 1593, the Wanli Emperor of Ming China sent an army under general Li Rusong to block the planned Japanese invasion of China and recapture the Korean peninsula. The Ming army of 43,000 soldiers headed by general Li Ru-song proceeded to attack Pyongyang. On January 7, 1593, the Ming relief forces under Li recaptured Pyongyang and surrounded Seoul, but Kobayakawa Takakage, Ukita Hideie, Tachibana Muneshige and Kikkawa Hiroie won the Battle of Byeokjegwan north of Seoul, in modern day Goyang City. At the end of the first campaign, Japan's entire navy was destroyed by Admiral Yi Sun-sin of Korea whose base was located in a part of Korea the Japanese could not control. This, in effect, put an end to Japan's dream of conquering China as the Koreans simply destroyed Japan's ability to resupply their troops who were bogged down in Seoul.

Succession dispute[edit]

Toyotomi Hideyori

The birth of Hideyoshi's second son in 1593, Hideyori, created a potential succession problem. To avoid it, Hideyoshi exiled his nephew and heir Hidetsugu to Mount Kōya and then ordered him to commit suicide in August 1595. Hidetsugu's family members who did not follow his example were then murdered in Kyoto, including 31 women and several children.[36]

Twenty-six martyrs of Japan[edit]

In January 1597, Toyotomi Hideyoshi had twenty-six Christians arrested as an example to Japanese who wanted to convert to Christianity. They are known as the Twenty-six Martyrs of Japan. They included five European Franciscan missionaries, one Mexican Franciscan missionary, three Japanese Jesuits and seventeen Japanese laymen including three young boys. They were tortured, mutilated, and paraded through towns across Japan. On February 5, they were executed in Nagasaki by public crucifixion.[37]

The 26 Christian martyrs of Nagasaki, 18–19th century, Choir of La Recoleta, Cuzco

Second campaign against Korea[edit]

After several years of negotiations (broken off because envoys of both sides falsely reported to their masters that the opposition had surrendered), Hideyoshi appointed Kobayakawa Hideaki to lead a renewed invasion of Korea, but their efforts on the peninsula met with less success than the first invasion. Japanese troops remained pinned down in Gyeongsang Province. In June 1598, the Japanese forces turned back several Chinese offensives in Suncheon and Sacheon, but they were unable to make further progress as the Ming army prepared for a final assault. While Hideyoshi's battle at Sacheon led by Shimazu Yoshihiro was a major Japanese victory, all three parties to the war were exhausted. He told his commander in Korea, "Don't let my soldiers become spirits in a foreign land."[2].


Houkokubyo (Mausoleum of Toyotomi Hideyoshi) Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto

Toyotomi Hideyoshi died at Fushimi Castle on September 18, 1598 (Keichō 3, 18th day of the 8th month). His last words, delivered to his closest daimyō and generals, were "I depend upon you for everything. I have no other thoughts to leave behind. It is sad to part from you." His death was kept secret by the Council of Five Elders to preserve morale, and they ordered the Japanese forces in Korea to withdraw back to Japan. Because of his failure to capture Korea, Hideyoshi's forces were unable to invade China.[citation needed]

According to the Tokugawa Jikki record, Hideyoshi held a secret meeting with Koide Hidemasa and Katagiri Katsumoto where he shared his regret of launching invasions of Korea. Hideyoshi also instructed Hidemasa and Katsumoto to guide Hideyori into making an alliance with Ieyasu, as he predicted the power of the Tokugawa clan would grow unchecked after his death, and only solution for the Toyotomi clan to survive was to not oppose Ieyasu.[38]

After his death, the other members of the Council of Five Elders were unable to keep the ambitions of Tokugawa Ieyasu in check. Two of Hideyoshi's top generals, Katō Kiyomasa and Fukushima Masanori, had fought bravely during the war but returned to find the Toyotomi clan castellan Ishida Mitsunari in power. He held the generals in contempt, and they sided with Tokugawa Ieyasu. Hideyoshi's underage son and designated successor Hideyori lost the power his father once held. Ieyasu's power was consolidated when the Eastern Army led by Ieyasu defeated the Western Army led by Ishida Mitsunari at the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600. Tokugawa Ieyasu, who was appointed as a shogun in 1603 and established the Tokugawa shogunate, attacked Osaka Castle twice in 1614 and 1615 (Siege of Osaka), forcing Yodo-dono, Hideyoshi's concubine, and Hideyori, Hideyoshi's heir, to commit suicide and destroying the Toyotomi clan.[39][40]

It is now believed that Hideyoshi's loss of all his adult heirs, leaving only the five-year-old Hideyori as his successor, was the primary reason for the weakening of the Toyotomi regime and its eventual downfall.[41][42][43] Hideyoshi's younger brother, Toyotomi Hidenaga, who had supported Hideyoshi's rise to power as a leader and strategist, had already died of illness in 1591, and his nephew, Toyotomi Hidetsugu, who was Hideyoshi's only adult successor, was forced to commit seppuku in 1595 along with many other vassals on Hideyoshi's orders for suspected rebellion.[41][42][43]


Wives and concubines[edit]

Hideyoshi sitting with his wives and concubines


Hashiba Hidekatsu (Ishimatsumaru)
  • Hashiba Hidekatsu (Ishimatsumaru) (1570–1576) by Minami-dono
  • daughter (name unknown) by Minami-dono

Adopted sons[edit]

Adopted daughters[edit]


Cultural legacy[edit]

A replicated Osaka Castle has been created on the site of Hideyoshi's great donjon. The iconic castle has become a symbol of Osaka's re-emergence as a great city after its devastation in World War II.

Toyotomi Hideyoshi changed Japanese society in many ways. These include the imposition of a rigid class structure, restrictions on travel, and surveys of land and production.[44]

Class reforms affected commoners and warriors. During the Sengoku period, it had become common for peasants to become warriors, or for samurai to farm due to the constant uncertainty caused by the lack of centralised government and always tentative peace. Upon taking control, Hideyoshi decreed that all peasants be disarmed completely.[45] Conversely, he required samurai to leave the land and take up residence in the castle towns.[46][47] This solidified the social class system for the next 300 years.

Furthermore, he ordered comprehensive surveys and a complete census of Japan. Once this was done and all citizens were registered, he required all Japanese to stay in their respective han (fiefs) unless they obtained official permission to go elsewhere. This ensured order in a period when bandits still roamed the countryside and peace was still new. The land surveys formed the basis for systematic taxation.[48]

In 1590, Hideyoshi completed construction of the Osaka Castle, the largest and most formidable in all Japan, to guard the western approaches to Kyoto. In that same year, Hideyoshi banned "unfree labour" or slavery in Japan,[49] but forms of contract and indentured labour persisted alongside the period penal codes' forced labour.[50]

Hideyoshi also influenced the material culture of Japan. He lavished time and money on the Japanese tea ceremony, collecting implements, sponsoring lavish social events, and patronizing acclaimed masters. As interest in the tea ceremony rose among the ruling class, so too did the demand for fine ceramic implements, and during the course of the Korean campaigns, not only were large quantities of prized ceramic ware confiscated but many Korean artisans were forcibly relocated to Japan.[51] Hideyoshi also had a long relationship with tea master Sen no Rikyū, which eventually soured leading to Hideyoshi ordering Sen no Rikyū to commit suicide. The exact reason is disputed.

Inspired by the dazzling Golden Pavilion in Kyoto, he had the Golden Tea Room constructed, which was covered with gold leaf and lined inside with red gossamer. Using this mobile innovation, he was able to practice the tea ceremony wherever he went, powerfully projecting his unrivalled power and status upon his arrival.[52]

Politically, he set up a governmental system that balanced out the most powerful Japanese warlords (or daimyō). A council was created to include the most influential lords. At the same time, a regent was designated to be in command.[53]

Just before his death, Hideyoshi hoped to set up a system stable enough to survive until his son grew old enough to become the next leader.[54] A Council of Five Elders (五大老, go-tairō) was formed, consisting of the five most powerful daimyō. Following the death of Maeda Toshiie, however, Tokugawa Ieyasu began to secure alliances, including political marriages (which had been forbidden by Hideyoshi). Eventually, the pro-Toyotomi forces fought against the Tokugawa in the Battle of Sekigahara. Ieyasu won and received the title of Seii-Tai Shōgun two years later.

Hideyoshi is commemorated at several Toyokuni Shrines scattered over Japan.

Ieyasu left in place the majority of Hideyoshi's decrees and built his shogunate upon them. This ensured that Hideyoshi's cultural legacy remained. In a letter to his wife, Hideyoshi wrote:

I mean to do glorious deeds and I am ready for a long siege, with provisions and gold and silver in plenty, so as to return in triumph and leave a great name behind me. I desire you to understand this and to tell it to everybody.[55]

The area of Taikō in Nagoya is named after him. The main street is Taikō-dōri, which is served by the subway Taiko-dori Station.


Because of his low birth with no family name, to the eventual achievement of Imperial Regent, the highest title of imperial nobility, Toyotomi Hideyoshi had quite a few names throughout his life. At birth, he was given the name Hiyoshi-Maru (日吉丸). At genpuku, he took the name Kinoshita Tōkichirō (木下 藤吉郎). Later, he was given the surname Hashiba and the honorary court office Chikuzen no Kami; as a result, he was styled Hashiba Chikuzen no Kami Hideyoshi (羽柴筑前守秀吉). His surname remained Hashiba even as he was granted the new Uji or sei ( or , clan name) Toyotomi by the Emperor.

The Toyotomi Uji was simultaneously granted to a number of Hideyoshi's chosen allies, who adopted the new Uji "豐臣朝臣/豊臣朝臣" (Toyotomi no ason, courtier of Toyotomi).

His full name was Hashiba Tōkichirō Toyotomi No Ason Hideyoshi (羽柴藤吉郎豐臣朝臣秀吉) in formal documents.

The Catholic sources of the time referred to him as Cuambacondono[56] (from kampaku and the honorific -dono) and "emperor Taicosama"[56] (from taikō, a retired kampaku (see Sesshō and Kampaku), and the honorific -sama).

Toyotomi Hideyoshi had been given the nickname Kozaru, meaning "little monkey", from his lord Oda Nobunaga, because his facial features and skinny form resembled those of a monkey.

In popular culture[edit]


In the 1949 Mexican hagiographic film Philip of Jesus, Luis Aceves Castañeda plays a character corresponding to Hideyoshi but named "Emperor Iroyoshi Taikosama".[57]

In the 2009 Japanese historical fantasy film Goemon, Toyotomi Hideyoshi (played by Eiji Okuda) features as the principal antagonist to the film's protagonist, Ishikawa Goemon. This is based on the tradition that Goemon was executed for his failed attempt to assassinate Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1594,[58] but the film otherwise bears little resemblance to either historical events or the received tradition. In the film, Goemon murders Hideyoshi's stand-in, avoids his execution by boiling (being replaced by an associate), succeeds in murdering Hideyoshi on a later occasion, and survives to intervene in the Battle of Sekigahara. Goemon is portrayed as the faithful retainer and avenger of Oda Nobunaga, unhistorically depicted as the victim of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. All of this is counter to historical facts; tradition credits Goemon with serving Nobunaga's enemies the Miyoshi clan and his murderer, Akechi Mitsuhide, as well as with failed murder attempts on both Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi.[59]


In the Netflix anime series Great Pretender (2020), Hideyoshi is referenced many times by Laurent Thierry, one of the central protagonists of the series.[60]


In the Netflix documentary series Age of Samurai: Battle for Japan (2021), Hideyoshi is portrayed by Masami Kosaka. The show depicts his life and rise to power.[61]


Actor Naoto Takenaka portrays Toyotomi Hideyoshi in the 1996 NHK drama Hideyoshi, which shows his life from his time under Oda Nobunaga to his rise as a leader himself who helped to unify Japan. It earned an average TV rating of 30.5% running from January 7 - December 22, 1996. Additionally, actor Yukijirō Hotaru plays The Taikō (Nakamura Hidetoshi), a character based on Toyotomi Hideyoshi, in the 2024 miniseries Shōgun.[62]


See also[edit]


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External links[edit]

Regnal titles
Preceded by Kampaku
Succeeded by
Government offices
Preceded by Daijō Daijin
Succeeded by