Birthday: March 17, 1537
Died At Age: 61
Sun Sign: Pisces
Also Known As: Kinoshita Tōkichirō
Born Country: Japan
Born in: Nakamura-ku, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, Japan
Famous as: Japanese Samurai
Spouse/Ex-: Nene, Yodo-dono
father: Kinoshita Yaemon, Yaemon
siblings: Asahi no kata, Toyotomi Hidenaga
children: Hashiba Hidekatsu, Kobayakawa Hideaki, Prince Hachijō Toshihito, Toyotomi Hidetsugu, Toyotomi Hideyori, Tsurumatsu Toyotomi, Ukita Hideie
Died on: September 18, 1598
place of death: Fushimi Castle
Who was Toyotomi Hideyoshi?
Toyotomi Hideyoshi was a warrior, samurai, and general of the Sengoku period. Regarded as Japan's second "great unifier," he left a lasting legacy, including the construction of several temples. Born in then-Owari Province to a foot soldier, Hideyoshi grew up alongside an elder sister. He left home at an early age for Tōtōmi Province and soon returned to become a foot soldier for Oda Nobunaga in 1558. His tenure under Nobunaga saw him fight several important battles, including the Battle of Anegawa in 1570. In 1573, Hideyoshi became a chief of Nagahama, Ōmi Province, and took the title of Hashiba Chikuzen no kami. Even after Nobunaga’s death, he engaged in many battles and later embarked on an endeavour to rule over the entire Japanese region. A year after staging a second invasion of Korea in 1597, Hideyoshi breathed his last at the age of 61, severely perturbed by the ill consequences of the Korean War. He had 15 wives and concubines and was the biological father of at least three children. He also had several adopted sons and daughters.
Childhood & Early Life
Toyotomi Hideyoshi was born on March 17, 1537, in then-Nakamura, Owari Province (now Nakamura-ku, Nagoya).
His biological father Yaemon, who was a foot soldier, died when Hideyoshi was seven years old, leaving him and his elder sister under the protection of their mother Ōmandokoro. He later had an adopted father named Konoe Sakihisa.
As a young man, Hideyoshi abandoned home and joined the Imagawa clan under the name Kinoshita Tōkichirō and served Matsushita Yukitsuna.
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Service under Oda Nobunaga
In 1558, Toyotomi Hideyoshi joined the Oda clan as an ashigaru under Oda Nobunaga. In 1560, he accompanied Nobunaga to the Battle of Okehazama and helped him defeat Imagawa Yoshimoto.
In 1567, he assisted Nobunaga in conquering the Inabayama Castle. His efforts helped him become one of Nobunaga’s most distinguished generals.
He then led the troops in the 1570 Battle of Anegawa and helped Nobunaga lay siege to two castles of the Asakura and Azai clans.
After victorious campaigns against the Asakura and Azai in 1573, Hideyoshi was appointed daimyō of three regions of the northern Ōmi Province.
He later participated in the Battle of Nagashino and also struggled with the Mori clan to take hold of the Chūgoku region in 1576. This was followed by his participation in the Battle of Tedorigawa in 1577, the Siege of Itami in 1579, and the Siege of Takamatsu in 1582.
Rise & Decline of Power
After Akechi Mitsuhide assassinated Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi fought Mitsuhide at the Battle of Yamazaki in 1582 where he successfully defeated him.
In 1583, he claimed victory over Shibata Katsuie, Oda clan's chief general. A year later, he fought with Nobunaga's son Oda Nobukatsu in the Battle of Komaki and Nagakute. The battle was later settled in peace between the two parties.
In 1586, the Imperial court gave Hideyoshi the new clan name Toyotomi. He later conquered Shikoku and Kyūshū. His victory at the 1590 Siege of Odawara marked the end of the Sengoku period.
In January 1592, Hideyoshi elected his nephew Hidetsugu as his heir and resigned to take the title of taikō aka retired regent. After the birth of his son a year later, he exiled Hidetsugu and commanded him to commit suicide.
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In January 1597, he demanded the arrest of 26 Christians to set an example to the Japanese citizens who wished to convert to Christianity. These “26 Martyrs of Japan” were executed in February by public crucifixion.
First Invasion Campaign against Korea
After Korea rejected Japan’s request of granting them an unprotested passage into China, Toyotomi Hideyoshi decided to invade Korea.
His first campaign started in 1592 when he sent field marshal Ukita Hideie to the Korean peninsula. His forces soon occupied much of Korea, eventually compelling the Korean King Seonjo of Joseon to escape to Uiju.
In 1593, the Wanli Emperor of Ming China sent his forces to block the Japanese invasion of China and eventually destroyed Japan's entire navy, thus shattering Hideyoshi’s dream to conquer China.
Second Invasion Campaign against Korea
A few years after the first invasion, Hideyoshi ordered Kobayakawa Hideaki to commence the second campaign against Korea. Although their army turned back several Chinese officers in Suncheon and Sacheon in 1598, this campaign was less successful as compared to the first invasion.
While Hideyoshi's clash in Sacheon was a major victory, all the three parties to the war, including Korea, were exhausted.
Family & Personal Life
Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s first wife was Nene. He later married Yodo-dono with whom he had two children, including Toyotomi Hideyori and Toyotomi Tsurumatsu.
He had several other wives and concubines, including Minami-dono with whom he had a daughter Hashiba Hidekatsu. Hideyoshi also had several adopted children, including Oda Nobunaga’s children Hashiba Hidekatsu and Toyotomi Takahiro.
Death & Aftermath
On September 18, 1598, Toyotomi Hideyoshi died at the age of 61.
Following his death, a few of his Council of Five Regents, including his top generals, Fukushima Masanori and Katō Kiyomasa, sided with Tokugawa Ieyasu.
His son and designated successor Hideyori lost the powers of his father to Ieyasu, who was declared the shōgun after the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600.
Toyotomi Hideyoshi reformed the Japanese society in several ways. He imposed restriction on travel and conducted surveys of land.
Upon taking control, he ordered all peasants to be disarmed completely and samurais to take up residence in the castle towns. This reformation solidified Japan’s social class system for the next three centuries.
His decision to conduct a complete census of Japan formed the base for systematic taxation.
In 1590, Hideyoshi got the Osaka Castle fully constructed. He also banned slavery the same year.
Later in his life, he ordered the construction of the Golden Tea Room.