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Hosokawa Gracia - Traitor’s daughter or Saint?

Guest Author - Joy Alari

Hosokawa Tama Gracia was born on the 25th of August 1563, she was the third daughter of Akechi Mitsuhide, who was in the service of the powerful Daimyo Oda Nobunaga, Akechi Mitsuhide was also known as The Twelve Day Shogun

When Tama was fifteen, she married Hosokawa Tadaoki, he was the son of another Daimyo, they were said to have had a happy marriage, with several children and lived in a castle in Nagaoaka.

It was the actions of Akechi Mitsuhide and Hosokawa Tadaoki, that shaped Tama’s life, her father who was loyal to Oda Nobunaga, suddenly went rogue as he’d heard rumors, that his fiefdom was going to be taken from him.

Akechi Mitsuhide’s spies kept studying Oda Nobunaga's activities, until they saw a weak moment in his security, they laid a siege for him at a Temple and not wanting to be caught dishonored, Oda Nobunaga committed Seppuku [Japanese term for suicide]

Tama’s father was happy, as he had finally got the chance to be regent but it didn't last, Akechi Mitsuhide’s was regent for only a few days, before the loyalists of Oda Nobunaga, who were greatly angered by his treachery, sought him out and him killed. This is how the term The Twelve Day Shogun came to be, as Akechi Mitsuhide was Shogun for only twelve days.

Unfortunately, the death of Akechi Mitsuhide didn't end it all, the Japanese don't do well with traitors and their family, the torture was about to begin, as Toyotomi Hideyoshi [Oda Nobunaga’s successor] swore to avenge his death, his aim was to wipe out Akechi Mitsuhide’s lineage.

It was the goodwill of Tama’s husband, Hosokawa Tadaoki that saved her, he kept pleading for the life of his beloved wife, until Toyotomi Hideyoshi relented and promised to spare Tama. Now stressed out with all that had happened to her family, Tama retired to the Okutango Penninsula, but later moved to Osaka.

It was in Osaka that Tama discovered Christianity, she was amazed at the sheer devotion, of her maids called Maria who was a Christian. Tama later accepted the Christian faith and was equally baptized in 1587 by Maria, she changed her name to Hosokawa Gracia.

As much as Tama wanted to be a devout Christian, Tradition kept clashing with her faith, as the Regent abolished Christianity and expelled many Missionaries from Japan, Tama remained steadfast, until her husband’s loyalty to the regent, led to her death.

Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s rule was very peaceful, the land flourished until his demise in 1598, that is when Japan became turbulent again, Toyotomi Hideyoshi had left power to five, very uncooperative council men, who even later divided into two other factions, with one in the West on the side of Ishida Mitsunari, while the other faction in the East supported Tokugawa Ieyasu.

Hosokawa Tadaoki was a loyalist of Tokugawa Ieyasu, and he went on several military campaigns for him, the rival General Ishida Mitsunari decided to deal a upper hand, he wanted to bend the will of the Tokugawa Ieyasu’s loyalist, by kidnapping all their wives.

His plans were about to unfold and sadly, word soon reached her Tama, she was going to be the first victim. Tama knew that if she was held prisoner, it would dishonor her husband.
Tama wanted to commit Seppuku, she felt that it was a much better fate, than to fall into the hands of General Ishida Mitsunari but she was also anxious because the act of Sepukku, was against her Christian faith, she pleaded with one of her servants called Ogasawara Shosai to help her out.

There were indications that Hosokawa Tadaoki, could have given out orders that, his wife should be killed, if there was any danger of her being captured and after much pleadings by Tama, Ogasawara Shosai relented.
After killing Tama, he set the house on fire and also committed Seppuku himself, so Tama died in 1600 at the age of thirty-seven.

Tama was said to be well educated, she was fluent in both Portuguese and Latin, her portrait is continually being viewed, at the Peace Musuem in Nagasaki.

In 1862, [though there are conflicting reports] the Vatican made Tama the first Japanese Saint.
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Content copyright © 2014 by Joy Alari. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Joy Alari. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Ching Kin Min for details.

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