Emperor Shirakawa of Mitoyagi

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Honda Shigetada (Shirakawa)
本多重忠 (白河)
Emperor of Okaiken
Reign 8 November 1610 – 6 June 1615
Enthronement 18 December 1601
Predecessor Komei
Heir apparent Go-Mizuno
Shogun Honda Shigetomo
Shogun
Reign 12 January 1601 - 8 November 1610
Predecessor none
Successor Honda Shigetomo
Issue
Prince Takahito
Honda Shigetomo
Honda Shigetoki
Meigohime
Tatsuhime
House Imperial House of Okaiken
Father Komei
Mother Empress Kōjun
Born (1556-11-26)26 November 1556
Mito Imperial Palace, Mito, Mitoyagi
Died 6 June 1625(1625-06-06) (aged 68)
Toyozawa Castle, Toyozawa, Mitoyagi
Religion Buddhism

In this Sanese name, the family name is Honda.

Emperor Shirakawa of Mitoyagi (白河天皇 Shirakawa Tennō?, November 26 1556 – June 6, 1625), also known as Honda Heihachiro Shigetada (本多平八郎重忠?), Fumihito (史仁?), and his Buddhist name Seiganji Denzen Chushochō Yoshinobu Daikoji (史西岸寺殿前中書長誉良信大居士?) was the 105th Emperor of Mitoyagi, according to the traditional order of succession. He was also the first Imperial bakufu shōgun from 1601 to 1610 and he was only person in the line to hold both the position of the emperor and shogun at the same time.

Known as Fumihito at birth, he was abducted from the Okashi Palace on March 5, 1576 by members of the Ogasawara clan in an attempt to take control of the Imperial Court as well as to persuade the Imperial Family to install Ogasawara Terumasa as the shogun. The abduction is now known as the Yuzawa Incident. The Imperial Family agreed to let the Ogasawara clan train him as an officer within the clan and assumed the name of Ogasawara Taisei.

He would later serve the Honda clan, after the Ogasawara clan offered him as a hostage to the Honda to form their alliance. Under Honda Katsuyori, he assumed the name of Honda Shigetada, and was one of the Honda Four Heavenly Pillars along with Ii Naomasa, Sakakibara Yasumasa and Sakai Tadatsugu. It was widely acknowledged that he was a reputed samurai and a loyal retainer of Honda Katsuyori. Shigetada is often referred to as "The Warrior who surpassed Death itself" because he never once suffered a significant wound, despite being the veteran of over 40 battles by the end of his life, and because he was never defeated by another samurai.

As the emperor, he oversaw the consolidation of power within the Empire and established the Honda clan as the legitimate shogunate. He also help write the Tale of Shikibu, a popular novel involving the Sengoku Period as well as the rise of the Honda Shogunate.

He was assassinated in 1625 during the Kincho Incident, where his son Honda Shigetomo was involved in reforming the Sanese Han System. Ii Naotaka, who was the perpetrator of the attacks, was defeated by the shogunate forces at the Battle of Ichijoudani.

Early life and abduction[edit]

The emperor was born on February 25, 1556 at imperial palace through then Crown Prince Yoshihito (Emperor Kammu) and the empress Sento-in. The prince was named Fumihito, in hopes that the future prince will serve all the people of Mitoyagi. The imperial family had long been removed from the political landscape, only serving as the signatory of many shoen estates that had led to the Sengoku period of Okaiken.

In October 12, 1558, while the Imperial Family was staying on the summer palace of Mikasawa, in the territory of the Ogasawara clan, assailants breached the walls of the poorly guarded palace and attempted to kidnap the young prince. Prince Mutsohito,the uncle of the prince, was assassinated in the process; Yoshihito was uninjured but laments the loss of his son. Fumihito was taken to the residence of the Ogasawara clan in an attempt to extort the Imperial Family for more control of territory and also attempt to rule Mitoyagi altogether.

In the process, members of the Ogasawara clan received the entire island of Haru and a considerable sum of 300,000 koku for each of the main Ogasawara clan retainers. This accounted to 4 million koku overall. They also made Ogasawara Terunobu a noble of the imperial courts, giving him considerable power and authority of the islands. However, the Ogasawara clan never exchanged Fumihito; instead, the clan claimed that he had died of disease during his journey back to the capital. Unknowingly, the prince was placed in the Shohei Temple under the guidance of Zen no Kisho and was trained to become a page. He became known as "Ichimatsu" during his stay at Shohei Temple. The Ogasawara clan would later forget the hostage prince and began their unification process of the rest of the Sanese Islands.

Forgotten and adopted[edit]

When he came of age on February 25, 1573 Ichimatsu, serving as a page at Shohei-ji, became the temple's housekeeper. He became in charge of the festivities during the Kanto festival and adopted practices that are still being done at the temple today. He was a devout Jodō-shu (Pure Land Buddhist), in contrast to the Imperial Family's animistic beliefs.

On July 22, 1575 Ichimatsu was adopted by Honda Shigetatsu after seeing his abilities at administering the temple. Back then, Shigetatsu was a vassal under the Ogasawara, which in 1574 launched an unprecedented assault of Aizawa. Shigetatsu, which happened to be childless, decides that Ichimatsu be the next leader of the clan by adopting him directly to his tutelage. Ichimatsu then changed his name to Honda no Shigetada and was quickly trained in the military arts. While he was reluctant to do so at first, Honda Shigetada slowly learned self-defense and combat skills. He remained a devout Jodō-shu member against the wishes of his father, who was of the Nichiren sect.

Sengoku samurai[edit]

Leader of Honda clan[edit]

Reunification of Mitoyagi[edit]

Emperor of Mitoyagi[edit]

Insei[edit]

Death[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

References[edit]