Ii Naotora



Ii Naotora in Samurai Warriors 4.

Kanji: 井伊 直虎
Date(s): 1530s(?)-September 1582
Other Known Names: “Female Landlord”, Jirō Hōshi


Ii clan mon

Ii Naotora was a daimyo and possible onna-bugeisha during the reign of Oda Nobunaga. She was the only daughter and only child of Ii Naomori, the eighteenth head of the clan, and Yuushun-in (background unknown). She was the one who brought independence to the Ii clan and were loyal to the Tokugawa clan. There is no record of her ever marrying or having any children of her own, but she did adopt Ii Naochika’s children, the most famous being Ii Naomasa.

There is very little information about her life, and some of what we know is conflicting. What is known is that she was the only child of Ii Naomori and Yuushun-in. To secure an heir, Naotora’s uncle Naomitsu tried to marry her to his son, Ii Naochika. This way, Naomitsu could inherit the clan. At this point, the Ii clan served the Imagawa clan, and Naomitsu planned on rebelling against the Imagawa. After learning about his plans, the leader of the Imagawa, Yoshimoto, ordered Ii Naomitsu and Ii Naochika to commit seppuku. While Naomitsu followed his orders, Nnaochika fled to Shinano. It is at this point where different stories for Naotora emerge, and it is in regards to how she got her name, Jirō Hōshi. One claim is that she became a priestess at the age of ten by Nankei, a monk, after her future father-in-law committed seppuku and her future husband fled. The other is that Jirō Hōshi was given to her after the passing of her grandfather, as a way to secure a successor through her.

Naotora’s father was one of the hundreds killed at the Battle of Okehazama alongside Imagawa Yoshimoto in 1560. The Imagawa clan lost much of its power, allowing Naochika to return to Iinoya. He was gone for ten years. During his ten-year absence, he married a different woman, and therefore could not marry Naotora upon his return. While Naochika temporarily ruled the clan, he had the same ambitions as his father, and wanted to rebel against the now weakened Imagawa clan. Anonymous traitors informed Imagawa Ujizane of the rebellion, and Ujizane killed Naochika in 1560.

In 1563, Naotora’s grandfather, Ii Naohira was ordered to break into Hikuma Castle to prove that the Ii clan was still loyal to the Imagawa. The wife of Hikuma Castle’s lord, Otazu no Kata, invited Naohira to meet her and her husband, Iio Tsurutatsu at Hikuma. When Naohira arrived on September 18, 1563, Otazu no Kata poisoned him, resulting in his death. Whether or not she came back from holy life or not, Jirō Hōshi became Ii Naotora and became head of the Ii clan.

Sources conflict about when she began her reign as head of the Ii clan and how she ruled. While some sources claim that she began her rule in 1563, others list it as 1565. As for her rule, one source claims that she did nothing, and left the rule of the clan to Ii retainers. Other sources state that she took complete control, but this scenario has been claimed to be the least likely scenario. What is known is that she was an “unconventional lord” who rarely, if ever took to the battlefield herself. Either way, during her reign, she took in Naochika’s son and daughter, Ii Naomasa and Takase. She acted as mediator for Imagawa Ujizane and his grandmother, Junkei-ni, a woman who ehld considerable influence over the remainder of the Imagawa clan. Both the Ii clan and the Imagawa clan were both at odds during this time.

During this time, former Imagawa retainer and Oda ally, Tokugawa Ieyasu, declared war on Ujizane. In 1564, Ii retainer, Niino Chikamori laid siege to Hikuma Castle to once again prove that the Ii clan was loyal to the Imagawa. When Chikamori was killed, however, Naotora’s position as clan leader became shaky. Despite pressure from the Imagawa, Naotora sought help from other clans and even after receiving threats from the Imagawa, Naotora allied herself with Tokugawa Ieyasu. Naotora was able to declare the Ii clan as independent after more than two hundred years of servitude to the Imagawa.

In 1568, Junkei-ni passed away, throwing the Imaagwa clan into a state of panic. Finally, a year later, Imagawa Ujizane surrendered to Ieyasu. Ieyasu then laid siege to Hikuma Castle and was able to capture it. Legend says that Naotora actively participated in this battle to avenge her grandfather, but this most likely developed from the Edo Period. During the same year, Ono Michiyoshi, an ally of Naotora’s, removed her from Iinoya with the help of Imagawa retainers. She escaped to Ryōtan-ji Temple in Hamamatsu and while there, she requests Ieyasu’s help, who accepts and recaptures Iinoya Castle. Michiyoshi was executed for his betrayal and his head disgraced in public.

In 1572, Takeda Shingen invaded Iinoya and other castles in the provinces of Tōtōmi and Mikawa. The Battle of Mikatagahara took place near Naotora’s land and after many days of resistance, Naotora surrendered Iinoya to the Takeda to prevent bloodshed. The following year, Shingen passed away while still in Naotora’s domain, and the Takeda clan retreated and Naotora regained her title as daimyō.

Ii Naotora died of disease in September 1582 and was buried in the Ryōtan-ji Temple and her adopted son, Ii Naomasa became head of the clan.