by Robert E. Haynes

The history of the Hosokawa family as patrons of the tsuba artists living in Higo needs clarification. The various families who were the daimyo in residence at Kumamoto in Higo are thus:

Sasa Narimasa (1539-1588). He was transferred to Kumamoto by Hideyoshi in 1587, but he caused troubles in that place and, in the following year (1588), he was requested to kill himself. None of the great Higo schools or 11 masters were at Kumamoto at this time.

Kato Kiyomasa (1562-1611). He was named Daimyo of Higo in 1588. He governed this province with Konishi Yukinaga (+ 1600) and received 250,000 koku. In 1600 he received the other half of Higo from Ieyasu and his revenues rose to 520,000 koku. He died in 1611. At that time the only famous artist living in Kumamoto was Hirata Hikozo (died Nov. 9, 1626. Wakayama says 1635). It is said that he came to Higo with Hosokawa Tadaoki from Tango Province, but he may have worked for Kato Kiyomasa and thus have been in Kumamoto when Tadaoki arrived. The reason for this is that Kato Tadahiro (1597-1653) was appointed Higo no Kami after the death of his father, but was accused of a conspiracy to replace Tokugawa Iemitsu (1603-1651) by his brother; because of this he was banished to Tsurugaoka in Dewa, where he died. At this time Hosokawa Fujitaka (1534-1610) worked with Hideyoshi and did not oppose Ieyasu. He lived in Kyoto in retirement.

Hosokawa Tadaoki (1564-1645) was the eldest son of Fujitaka. He first served with Oda Nobunaga, who gave him the province of Tango in 1580. After 1600 (Sekigahara) he was transferred from Tango to Kokura in Buzen with revenues of 370,000 koku. It was then that he assumed the name of Hosokawa! In 1619 he gave up his domains to his son Tadatoshi. Hosokawa Tadatoshi (1586-1641) was the man who was transferred from Kokura to Kumamoto in Higo. His revenue was 540,000 koku. Thus we see that Tadaoki never did live in Kumamoto.

Now to some facts about the ages of the great "Higo" masters. Hirata Hikozo died about the same time that Hosokawa Tadatoshi was transferred to Higo (1632). Hayashi Matashichi was born in 1613, as was Nishigaki Kanshiro. Thus they were both 19 years old when Tadatoshi went to Higo! The first Kanshiro died in 1693. Both he and Matashichi were 28 when Tadatoshi died, and 32 when Tadaoki died, but he [Tadaoki] had been in full retirement since 1619, when both artists were six years old! The first Jingo died in 1675 so that he would also have been a teen-ager when both Tadaoki and Tadatoshi were in power in Kumamoto. So, just who did these artists serve? The son of Tadatoshi, Mitsunao (no dates)? In any event we will have to think again about Tadatoki being the patron of the first famous "Higo" masters.


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