Introducing 1st to 3rd of Katakura Family
【Katakura Kagetsuna （1557-1615）】
He was born in the village of Okitama County, Dewa-no-Kuni (currently Nagai City, Yamagata Prefecture) as the son of the chief priest of Yonezawa Hachimangu Shrine. In 1575, when Date Masamune was 9 years old, Kagetsuna, who was 10 years older than Date Masamune, became his guardian (moriyaku), and provided education and training for him. His half-sister Kita also served as Masamune's nanny. In 1584, Date Masamune inherited the governorship. Using Yonezawa as their main base, they fought wars in various parts of Japan, with Kagetsuna supporting Masamune as his chief strategist. Kagetsuna's skills earned the respect of both Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu.
In 1589, Date Masamune won the battle of Suriagehara against the Ashina clan, and established a large domain that included Aizu, rising to the top of the Tohoku region. Meanwhile, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who was pursuing the unification of the whole country, conquered Kyushu and decided to overthrow the Hojo clan in Odawara. In 1590, he ordered the Daimyo lords (feudal lords) of various regions of Japan to join him in Odawara.
Date Masamune also received a letter urging him to join the battle, but the Date family was divided over whether to join and help or fight against Hideyoshi to disrupt his pursue. At that time, Kagetsuna, alarmed by Hideyoshi's power, advised Masamune to join the battle in Odawara to help Toyotomi. At that time, he said, "Flies in summer are annoying. Even if you chase them away twice or thrice, they will come back in a larger group and chase you back."
Date Masamune participated in the battle late and was reprimanded by Hideyoshi, but his main territory was not confiscated. At this time, Hideyoshi gave Kagetsuna a red stamp, a Shogunate license to make him a feudal lord of 50,000 koku in the Tamura domain, but Kojuro refused on the grounds that his loyalty to Masamune would weaken. He was given Shiroishi Castle and became the castle lord in 1602.
Kagetsuna said that he intended to suffocate his own child once it was born. This was because he thought that if he had a child of his own, his loyalty to Masamune would be insufficient. Masamune discouraged him from doing so, and Kagetsuna’s son, Shigenaga was born. His name was originally "Shigetsuna," but he changed his name to "Shigenaga" because the character for "Tsuna" in his name was also used in the name of Ietsuna, the successor to Tokugawa Iemitsu, the third Tokugawa shogun. Back then it was considered taboo to have the same kanji character as a name of the head of the Tokugawa Shogunate.
His first appearance in battles was in the siege of Shiroishi Castle led by Date Masamune in 1600, and he made a specutacular debut through heroic acts such as successfully invading the main castle.
In the Summer Siege of Osaka in 1615, he took the role of "Date's advance guard" in the stead of Kagetsuna, who was ill in bed at the time. Out of Date’s force of 10,000 soldiers or so at the time, 1,400 soldiers were trained and led by Katakura. They engaged in fierce battles with the enemy force led by general Sanada Yukimura, and he struck down enemy generals such as Goto Matabei and Susukida Kanesuke. It is said that Katakura’s force killed 150 generals in two days. After this fierce battle, throughout Japan he became known as "Oni Kojuro,” 'Oni' meaning “ogre” in Japanese. Sanada Yukimura entrusted him with his daughter, Oume, during this battle and later she became Shigenaga's wife.
Shigetsuna died in the same year as the Summer Siege of Osaka, and Shigenaga inherited the governorship and supported Masamune. After Masamune's death in 1636, Shigenaga supported the second generation of the Date family, Tadamune.
Oni Kojuro Festival
A big event held every October at Shiroishi Castle. It reenacts the heroic performance of Katakura Shigenaga during the Summer Siege of Osaka. A total of more than 100 armored warriors, including extras recruited from all over Japan, perform and reenact the battle.
Kagenaga was born to Matsumae Yasuhiro and Shigenaga's daughter Kisa. However, at the time the Date family was not at peace. In 1660, Tsunamune, the feudal lord of the domain, was forced into retirement by the Shogunate for misbehavior, and Tsunamura, who was 3 years old at the time, took over the governorship. A dispute for power arose between Tsunamura's guardian, the Date ministry, who held the real power, and their opposition. This family strife is known as the "Date Feud." The case was accepted by the Edo shogunate, and in 1671, a decision was about to be made at the residence of Sakai, the chief retainer of the Edo shogunate, but another incident happened there. Harada Kai, the Date minister, killed Date Muneshige of the opposition. The Sendai clan was in turmoil after this, the "Kanbun Incident," but Kagenaga was ordered by Tsunamura to take the position in charge of the clan's administration, and as the new minister he managed to bring the situation under control.
In 1680, Kagenaga decided to place the graveyard of the Katakura family at the foot of Mt. Atago in the suburbs of Shiroishi City, and moved the mausoleums of Kagetsuna and Shigenaga from Kesanji Temple.
The Katakura Family Saved the Date Family from Crisis Three Times"
According to the "The Historical Records of Katakura Clan,” a senior vassal of the Date family have said the following to Kagenaga:
"The Katakura family has saved the Date family from great hardship three times.
First, when Hideyoshi conquered Odawara, Kagenaga's grandfather, Kagetsuna, advised Masamune to join Hideyoshi at Odawara.
Second, his father Shigenaga displayed unparalleled bravery during the Battle of Osaka, and was recognized by Tokugawa Ieyasu and the rest of Japan as the best in Japan for his achievements with the Date forces.
The third is that Kagenaga saved the Date family from a great disaster called "Kanbun Incident" (the Date Feud).
It is said that those in attendance who heard this story praised it as a beautiful story."
Head of Katakura Family After Kagenaga
The 4th：Katakura Nuranaga
The 5th：Katakura Murayasu
The 6th：Katakura Murasada
The 7th：Katakura Murakado
The 8th：Katakura Muratsune
The 9th：Katakura Kagesada
The 10th：Katakura Munekage
The 11th ：Katakura Kuninori
・読売新聞東北総局, 1995, ""白石城物語""
・ Kenji Agatsuma et al, 1995, ”よみがえる白石城”