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Kaihime

Kai-sw4art

Kaihime in Samurai Warriors 4

Kanji: 甲斐姫
Date(s): circa. 1572(?)-17th Century (year and cause of death unknown)
Other Known Names: N/A

Hojo clan mon

Hōjō clan mon

Kaihime was an onna-bugeisha from the Narita clan who served the Later Hōjō clan. She is well known for her grace and beauty, being called “the most beautiful woman in east Japan”, and she was known for her bravery which has been recorded during the sieges of Oshi Castle during the Odawara Campaign in 1590 and Ōsaka Castle in 1615. She was also one of Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s wives.

It is unclear when Kaihime was born, but most historians speculate that she was born around 1572. She was the daughter of Narita Ujinaga, a retainer of the Later Hōjō clan. She had two other sisters, Makihime and Atsushihime. Kaihime’s father lamented at the fact that he only had daughters as heirs. To make up for this, Kaihime trained as an onna-bugeisha. She was married to Yura Narishige, but he would pass away in 1578.

Her first recorded feat of bravery was at the Siege of Oshi Castle. In June 1590, Toyotomi retainer Ishida Mitsunari, led an army of 23,000 after capturing Tatebayashi Castle three days prior. Oshi Castle, a place where Kaihime spent most of her childhood, was only defended by Kaihime, her uncle Narita Ujichika, 619 samurai, and 2,000 local conscripts. Her father was away with the bulk of the army at Odawara Castle, fighting off the Toyotomi there. After taking a week to set up a large embankment and making camp on top of an old tomb near Oshi, Mitsunari ordered for the castle to be flooded. While the people inside Oshi Castle fled to higher ground, the moats outside the castle helped reduce the damage from the water attack. Kaihime took 200 men and rode out to destroy the dykes that were near the castle. This counterattack caught the Toyotomi off guard and it devastated their forces. When Sanada Masayuki, Sanada Yukimura, and Asano Nagamasa came as reinforcements, Kaihime raised the morale of the Narita forces by taking the head of a Sanada retainer, Miyage Takashige. The castle managed to hold for a month and only surrendered after learning of Hōjō Ujimasa’s defeat at Odawara. Kaihime walked out of Oshi Castle with dignity. Hideyoshi was so impressed that he forgave the Narita family, allowing them to keep their properties. This siege also ruined Ishida Mitusnari’s reputation, for not being able to take a castle that was “defended by a woman”.

After the Siege of Odawara Castle, Kaihime and her father were entrusted to Gamō Ujisato and stayed at Iwashiro-fukui Castle. During their stay there and while her father was away, a rebellion broke out which resulted in the death of either Kaihime’s mother or mother-in-law (sources are unclear as to which one). Kaihime sought to end the rebellion, and while hiding her sword under her robes, she talked casually with the traitors. After their guard dropped, she killed them. While it is unclear if this took place at Iwashiro-fukui Castle or the family home instead due to their time at Iwashiro-fukui being extremely short. After hearing about her brave deed, Toyotomi Hideyoshi made her one of his concubines awarded her family with 20,000 koku and more territory.

It is after this point that Kaihime’s life fades into the background. There are no reports of her being involved in the Sekigahara Campaign, nor any reports of her having any children. Kaihime only comes back on the scene with the Summer Siege of Ōsaka Castle in 1615. There are a couple of theories about her during this siege. Some stories say that she committed suicide or was killed either before or during the siege. Some say that she rescued Toyotomi’s Hideyori’s wife, Senhime, during the siege, however, records show that Tokugawa Hidetada, Senhime’s father, sent Ii Naotaka to bring her back safely and she was accompanied by other woman, but it is unclear if Kaihime was among them. The story that most historians go with is Kaihime escaping Ōsaka with Oiwa no Kata (Narita Goheisukenao’s daughter and Hideyori’s concubine) and Nāhime (Hideyori and Oiw no Kata’s daughter). Kaihime actually defended Nāhime from Tokugawa assassins and the three escaped to live as Buddhist nuns at Tōkei-ji Temple. One theory states that the reason that Kaihime saved Nāhime was because Nāhime was actually the daughter of Toyotomi Hideyori and Kaihime.