62| Part 2 of – – – – – 26|Edo Period History (江戸時代】1603 – 1867

Chapter 62 is a detailed part of chapter 26|Edo Period History.  Please read 26 Edo Period History (1603 – 1867) before you start reading this chapter.

Battle of Sekigahara

The most powerful man during the Sengoku period, Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣秀吉) died in 1598.  At that time, his heir, Hideyori was only 5 years old.  Before Hideyoshi’s death, he set up a council system consisted of top five Daimyos to take care of the job for Hideyori as his regents until his son comes of age.  At the death bed of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, all five Daimyo agreed to be a guardian of Hideyori, but little by little each of them started to oppose each other, especially Ishida Mitsunari (石田三成 ) and Tokugawa Ieyasu (徳川家康).   In 1600, those two big forces broke the battle of Sekigahara.   One side is Ishida Mitsunari that was called the Seigun (the western army) and the other was Ieyasu side that was called Togun ( the eastern army).   All the Daimyos of the rest of the country took their side either Tokugawa side or Ishida Mitsunari’s side.  It is said Ishida Mitsunari side had 100,000 men and Tokugawa side had 70,000 men.  Ieyasu side had less number of soldiers but he won at the end and he became the top among Toyotomi clan that means he was the top person since Hideyori was still a child.   In 1603 Ieyasu became a Shogun.  Now Ieyasu seized control of Japan and Tokugawa Shogunate was established in Edo, and council system was eliminated.  Yet Hideyori is still there with his mother Yodo-Dono ( or Yodo-Gimi).  They lived in Osaka castle which was built by Hideyoshi before he died.  Later, Hideyori and his mother, Yodo-Dono became an awkward situation with Tokugawa Ieyasu.   Yodo-Dono was very proud and a headstrong person with good reasons.   She was a niece of Nobunaga, she was a wife of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and she was a mother of the head of the Toyotomi clan.  Later her pride gets them into trouble and led to the destruction of the Toyotomi clan.

Winter and Summer siege of Osaka (1614 and 1615)

After the battle of Sekigahara till the siege of Osaka castle, there were 15 years.  During that time little by little a tension started to build up between Tokugawa Shogunate and Toyotomi clan.  Before the battle of Sekigahara, the Toyotomi clan ruled Japan.  After the Sekigahara, Tokugawa started to rule Japan.  Toyotomi clan lost many top advisers and vassals at Sekigahara.  As a result, all the power was centered around Yodo-Dono.  By this time Hideyori grew up to be a fine man but Yodo-Dono overprotected him and she had control over him.  She even did not allow Hideyori to practice Kendo (traditional martial art of swordsmanship) because it is too dangerous.  She insisted to act like Toyotomi is still the top power.  Tokugawa Ieyasu tried to calm the friction by the marriage between his granddaughter (Sen-Hime) and Hideyori.  A few advisors suggested Yodo-Dono yield to Tokugawa but she insisted Tokugawa has to be subordinate to Toyotomi.  A rumor began to spread that Toyotomi side started to hire and gather a large number of Ronin (Samurai without a lord) in Osaka Castle.   Several mediators tried to convince the Toyotomi side but failed.   November 1614, Osaka Winter Seige started.  Osaka (pronounced Oosaka) Castle is very difficult to attack.  It is a fortress itself.  It is said that the Toyotomi side had 100,000 soldiers.   But some of them were mercenaries.  Tokugawa attacked and fired cannon every day, but the Tokugawa side realized that the Osaka Castle is so solid and it is a waste of time.  Eventually, both sides went to a peace negotiation.   Several conditions were agreed on.   One of them was to fill in the outside moat.  But Tokugawa side filled in outside moat and even the inner moat.  That made the Toyotomi side angry and they became suspicious about the agreement.  Another requirement was the disarmament by the Toyotomi clan, yet the Toyotomi side kept soldiers inside their castle.  The last ultimatum from Tokugawa to Toyotomi was either dismiss all the soldiers or Toyotomi to move to the other location.   Yodo-Dono refused both.   After this, Osaka Summer Siege started.  This is 1615.  It is said that Toyotomi had 70,000 men and Tokugawa had 150,000 men.  Both sides had several battles here and there but the battle did not go well for both sides because of the thick fog, delayed arrival of troops, miscommunication, etc.   The last battlefield was Osaka Castle.   Toyotomi side decided to stay inside the castle, but soon a fire started inside and burned the Castle.  Yodo-Dono and Hideyori were hiding inside the storage building, waiting for the answer to the petition for their life to Ieyasu that they hoped their daughter-in-law could achieve.   But It was not accepted and they both died inside the storage place.


The name of the lawful wife of Toyotomi Hideyoshi is Nene.  She was a very smart and sensible person but not from high rank.  She was respected by everybody, including Tokugawa Ieyasu.  Even Hideyoshi often asked her opinion on political matters.   Hideyoshi was greatly helped by her to climb up his ranks.

Nene could not bear a child.  As powerful as Toyotomi Hideyoshi, he went around different women everywhere hoping to get his heir, but none of them could have any children with Hideyoshi.  Yodo-Dono was the only person who had Hideyoshi’s child.  Nobody knows exactly who was the real father, but the speculation indicated several people, one is her childhood friend and several others including Ishida Mitsunari. 


62 Yodo Gimi

伝 淀殿画像(It is said to be a portrait of Yodo-Dono but no evidence), owned by Nara Museum of Art         Drawn in 17th-century     public Domain:  from Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository.

62 Kodai-in_Nene_cropped
Nene (Kodai-In), Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s lawful wife.  Public domain from Wikimedia, owned by Kodai-Ji