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Lady ChaCha

Lady ChaCha portriat
Woodblock portrait of Lady ChaCha

Kanji: 茶々

Date(s): December 1567 (1569?)-June 4, 1615

Other Known Names: Kikuko (childhood), ChaCha, O-Cha, Yodo no Kata, Ni no Maru-dono, Nishi no Maru-dono, Yodo-gimi, Yodo-dono, Daikōin

Lady ChaCha, also known as Yodo-dono, was the eldest daughter of Azai Nagamasa and Oichi, Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s second wife and the mother to Toyotomi Hideyori. She became one of the most influential women in the Toyotomi clan, especially after Hideyoshi’s death in 1598. She was also extremely skilled in Waka poetry, interested in politics and administration, and she bore a striking resemblance to her mother, a woman whose beauty was renowned.(1)

During her early childhood, the Azai turned against the Oda after Nobunaga declared war on the Asakura clan. Sadly, her father and brother Manpukumaru were killed at the Siege of Odani Castle in 1573.(2) While some sources claim that Lady ChaCha and her sisters and mother stayed with one of Nobunaga’s younger brothers, Oda Nobukane, others claim that she and her family stayed with Oda Nagamasu and ChaCha was raised by Kyōgoku Maria and her daughter Kyōgoku Tatsuko.(3) Almost ten years after Nagamasa’s passing and not long after Nobunaga’s death, Oichi was married off to Shibata Katsuie in 1582.(4) Unfortunately, ChaCha and her sisters would lose their mother and stepfather within the year after the Shibata army lost at the Battle of Shizugatake in 1583.

Before their mother committed seppuku alongside Shibata Katsuie, ChaCha and her sisters were placed in Hideyoshi and Nene’s care, and thus they became their adopted daughters. ChaCha, however, would become Hideyoshi’s concubine in 1588. The following year, ChaCha announced that she was pregnant. Hideyoshi was ecstatic and gave ChaCha Yodo Castle after his younger brother, Toyotomi Hidenaga, remodeled it. Hideyoshi also officially named her Yodo no Kata. ChaCha ended up taking over Nene’s privileges as a wife due to her pregnancy because Nene had been unable to conceive. ChaCha gave birth to a son, Tsurumatsu, in 1589, but sadly he died extremely young. ChaCha was able to bear Hideyoshi another son, Hideyori, in 1593 and Hideyori became his father’s successor.(5)

The family moved to Fushimi Castle in 1594 and resided there until Hideyoshi’s death in 1598. ChaCha became a Buddhist nun, taking the name Daikōin and moved into Ōsaka Castle with Hideyori and began trying to restore the Toyotomi clan. She became involved with the politics as Hideyori’s guardian and ended up being the de facto head of Ōsaka Castle.(6)

During 1600, ChaCha commissioned a shrine to be built in honor of her father’s family and her mother’s remains called Yogen-ji.(7) She was inactive during the Sekigahara Campaign, but after Ishida Mitsunari’s defeat at the battle, the Toyotomi clan lost much of its power and land. The relationship between the Tokugawa and the Toyotomi began to decline.

Relations between the Toyotomi and Tokugawa continued to sour well into the beginning of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Lady ChaCha did her best to resist the Tokugawa. To make matters even more complicated, Hideyori married Senhime, the daughter of Tokugawa Hidetada and Oeyo, ChaCha’s younger sister. Despite marrying into the shogunate, the Toyotomi’s position was still incredibly weak. Nevertheless, ChaCha was proud of her family and even declined Ieyasu’s offer to become subordinates of the Tokugawa.(8)

Toyotomi Hideyori and Tokugawa Ieyasu met in 1611 and Ieyasu was surprised by the so called “useless” boy. The rumor that was spread after Hideyoshi’s death proved false. This made Ieyasu see Hideyori as even more of a threat to the Tokugawa Shogunate than he already believed. Tensions grew even more with the unveiling of a bronze cast bell in the rebuilt Hōkō-ji in Kyōto in 1614. The inscription read “May the state be peaceful and prosperous” and “May noble lord and servants be rich and cheerful”.(9) In Japanese, the kanji in both lines contains kanji from both “Ieyasu” and “Toyotomi”, making the shogunate interpret the lines differently: treachery. This was proven correct in their eyes when rōnin and enemies of the Tokugawa began to gather in Ōsaka, all who were invited by Hideyori.

The catalyst for what would evolve into the Sieges of Ōsaka Castle came when a Toyotomi general, Katagiri Katsumoto, suggested that ChaCha should go to Edo as a hostage in order to keep another war from breaking out. ChaCha declined and banished Katsumoto and several other servants who were suspected of betrayal to the Toyotomi.(10) This act by ChaCha destroyed any hope of peace between the two clans. On November 8, 1614, Ieyasu laid siege to Ōsaka Castle.

Lady ChaCha defended Ōsaka along with Hideyori. At one point, the Tokugawa army bombarded her quarters, which killed two of her maids.(11) She was able to escape but this action led to a peace treaty which was made between her and Lady Acha, who was accompanied by Honda Masazumi and ChaCha’s younger sister, Ohatsu. The peace did not last long.

In the summer of 1615, Ieyasu broke the treaty and laid siege to the castle once again. Both mother and son committed seppuku while Ōsaka Castle burned. While there is a theory that she escaped and managed to go to either Satsuma or Kozuke Province, many believe that the Toyotomi legacy died with her and her son on June 4, 1615.(12)

Sources

  1. “ChaCha” https://koei.fandom.com/wiki/Chacha, last visited 4/18/2021
  2. Turnbull, Stephen. Samurai Women 1184-1877 (3rd impression, 2014), p. 24
  3. “ChaCha” https://koei.fandom.com/wiki/Chacha, last visited 4/18/2021
  4. Turnbull, Stephen. Samurai Women 1184-1877 (3rd impression, 2014), p. 24
  5. “Yodo-dono” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yodo-dono, last visited 4/19/2021
  6. “Yodo-dono” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yodo-dono, last visited 4/19/2021
  7. “Yodo-dono” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yodo-dono, last visited 4/19/2021
  8. “Yodo-dono” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yodo-dono, last visited 4/19/2021
  9. “Yodo-dono” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yodo-dono, last visited 4/19/2021
  10. Chaplin, Danny. Sengoku Jidai Nobunaga, Hideyoshi, and Ieyasu: Three Unifiers of Japan (2018), pp. 518-519
  11. Turnbull, Stephen. Samurai Women 1184-1877 (3rd impression, 2014), p. 25
  12. “Yodo-dono” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yodo-dono, last visited 4/19/2021