Hideyoshi Toyotomi’s Cherry Blossom Party at Daigo-ji in Kyoto:
The annual Hō-Taikō Hanami Gyōretsu (Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s cherry blossom viewing parade – 豊太閤花見行列) was held at Daigo-ji temple (醍醐寺) in Kyoto, on the 12th of April. The procession exits the Sanbō-in garden (三宝院) through the Karamon gate and makes it way via the Sandō (参道), the approach to the main area of the temple, to the Kondō (金堂), the main building of Daigo-ji temple.
Leading the procession is a group of young cherry blossom dancers. Then the big moment arrives and the doors of the karamon gate are opened. The samurai warriors of Hideyoshi lead the way followed by Yamabushi (山伏), they are Japanese Mountain ascetic hermits with a long tradition, endowed with supernatural powers in traditional Japanese mysticism.
Next up feudal lords and finally the man himself, Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣 秀吉). he had been given the nickname Kozaru, meaning “little monkey”, from his lord Oda Nobunaga because his facial features and skinny form resembled that of a monkey.
His son, Hideyori and Toyotomi’s wife, concubines and first ranked servants closed the ranks. When all of the entourage reached the Kondō (金堂), the festivities could begin.
Hideyoshi ’s Entourage at the Cherry Blossom Party at Daigo-ji in Kyoto:
The following is an account of the different historical figures of Hideyoshi’s time in order of appearance in the parade.
Hachisuka Iemasa (蜂須賀 家政, 1558 – February 2, 1639) was a Japanese daimyo of the early Edo period. Iemasa, the son of Hachisuka Koroku, was the founder of the Tokushima Domain. He served both Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi, taking part in Hideyoshi’s Korean campaign. Iemasa fought on the side of Tokugawa Ieyasu at the Battle of Sekigahara, and was allowed to retain his fief for his service there.
Fukushima Masanori (福島 正則, 1561 – August 26, 1624) was a Japanese daimyo of the late Sengoku Period to early Edo Period who served as lord of the Hiroshima Domain. A retainer of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, he fought in the battle of Shizugatake in 1583, and soon became known as one of Seven Spears of Shizugatake which also included Katō Kiyomasa and others.
Kyōgoku Takatsugu (京極 高次, 1560 – June 4, 1609) was a daimyo (feudal lord) of Omi Province and Wakasa Province during the late-Sengoku Period of Japan’s history. Takatsugu is recognized as the founder of the modern Kyōgoku clan.
Gien Sōjō (義演僧正), a Sōjō is a high ranked Buddhist monk. His real name is Maeda Gien (前田 玄以) he was the abbot of Sanbō-in garden (三宝院) during Hideyoshi’s reign.
Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣 秀吉, February 2, 1536 or March 26, 1537 – September 18, 1598) was a preeminent daimyo, warrior, general, samurai, and politician of the Sengoku period who is regarded as Japan’s second “great unifier”. He succeeded his former liege lord, Oda Nobunaga, and brought an end to the Warring States period. The period of his rule is often called the Momoyama period, named after Hideyoshi’s castle. After his death, his young son Hideyori was displaced by Tokugawa Ieyasu.
Hideyoshi is noted for a number of cultural legacies, including the restriction that only members of the samurai class could bear arms. He financed the construction, restoration and rebuilding of many temples standing today in Kyoto. Hideyoshi played an important role in the history of Christianity in Japan when he ordered the execution by crucifixion of twenty-six Christians.
Toyotomi Hideyori (豊臣 秀頼, born September 8, 1593) was the son and designated successor of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the general who first united all of Japan. His mother, Yodo-dono, was the niece of Oda Nobunaga.
Maeda Toshiie (前田 利家, January 15, 1538 – April 27, 1599) was one of the leading generals of Oda Nobunaga following the Sengoku period of the 16th century extending to the Azuchi-Momoyama period. His father was Maeda Toshimasa. He was the fourth of seven brothers. His childhood name was “Inuchiyo” (犬千代). His preferred weapon was a yari and he was known as “Yari no Mataza” (槍の又左), Matazaemon (又左衛門) being his common name. The highest rank from the court that he received is the Great Counselor Dainagon (大納言). See All Pictures Here!
Mashita Nagamori (増田 長盛, 1545 – June 23, 1615) was a daimyo in Azuchi-Momoyama period, and one of the Go-Bugyō appointed by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Also called Niemon (仁右衛門) or by his court title, Uemon-no-jō (右衛門尉).
Natsuka Masaie (長束 正家, 1562 – November 8, 1600) was a daimyō in the Azuchi-Momoyama period and one of the Go-Bugyō, or five commissioners, appointed by Toyotomi Hideyoshi.
Ōta, Gyūichi (太田 牛一; 1527-1610) was a writer who kept records of the battles and military affairs of Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and was the author of the Shinchō kōki (信長公記). He was born in Kasugai district of Owari province, and first lived at the Jôkan temple there.
Shinchō kōki (信長公記), is the chronicle of Oda Nobunaga, compiled in Edo period based on records by Ōta Gyūichi (太田牛一), a warrior who followed Nobunaga. Shinchō kōki covers from 1568, when Nobunaga entered Kyoto until he died in 1582. The compiled chronicle consists of 16 volumes and is considered “mostly factual” and “reliable”.
Kita no Mandokoro (北政所) also known as Nene (ねね, 1546-1624), also known as One (おね) or Nemoji or Kōdai-in, was the childhood name of Sugaihara Yasuko. She was the principal samurai wife of Toyotomi Hideyoshi.
Kōzōsu (孝蔵主) she was the chief secretary to Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣 秀吉).
Ono no Otsu (小野お通) was woman who excelled in calligraphy and poetry during Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s time.
She is one of the early practitioners of the Jōruri art (浄瑠璃) form. Jōruri, in Japanese literature and music, a type of chanted recitative that came to be used as a script in bunraku puppet drama.
Yodo Dono (淀殿-1569–1615) was a prominently placed figure in late-Sengoku period. She was a concubine and second wife of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who was then the most powerful man in Japan. She also became the mother of his son and successor, Hideyori. She was also known as Lady Chacha (茶々). After the death of Hideyoshi, she took the tonsure, becoming a Buddhist nun and taking the name Daikōin (大広院).
Houshu-in Matsu (芳春院 まつ) is the official wife Maeda Toshiie (前田 利家). Maeda Matsu (前田まつ), aka Omatsu no Kata (お松の方),(1547–1617) was a Japanese woman of the 16th century. She was the wife of Maeda Toshiie, who founded the Kaga Domain. Matsu had a reputation for intelligence; she was skilled at both literary and martial arts. After her husband died, Matsu, then known by her Buddhist nun name of Hoshun-in, assured the safety of the Maeda clan after the year 1600 by voluntarily going as a hostage to Edo, capital of the new shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu,
Matsu no maru (松の丸) was the second Concubine Maeda Toshiie (前田 利家), who was one of the leading generals of Oda Nobunaga.
San no maru (三の丸) was the third Concubine Maeda Toshiie (前田 利家), who was one of the leading generals of Oda Nobunaga.
Kaga-dono (加賀殿), 1572-1605 she was a concubine of concubine Toyotomi Hideyoshi and the daughter of Maeda Toshiie (前田 利家), Lord of Kaga. The Kaga Domain (加賀藩), also known as Kanazawa Domain, was a Japanese domain of the Edo period. It is associated with the provinces of Kaga, Noto and Etchū in modern-day Ishikawa Prefecture and Toyama Prefecture on the island of Honshū.
Ōkura-kyo no Tsubone (大蔵卿の局) She was from Tango Province (丹後国) and her father was a samurai warrior.
Ukyō no Daibu (右京大夫), Lady Daibu lived during the decline of the Heian court in Japan, between the 12th and 13th century. Like most female writers of the Heian court, little is known of her life, including her real name. The first part of her name, Kenreimon-in, comes from the name of the empress she served as a lady-in-waiting. The second part of her name is the name of her male sponsor at court. Several of Lady Daibu’s poems appeared in the imperial anthology Shinchokusenshu (1232), but she is mostly known for her memoirs, the Kenrei Mon’in Ukyo no Daibu shu (The Journal of Kenreimon-in Ukyo no Daibu, ca. 1233).
Yuuraku Tsuru (有楽つる)
Performances at Hideyoshi ’s Sakura Party:
After everyone was seated on the steps the Kondō Hall (金堂), the main hall of Daigo-ji, the festivities got on the way. A messenger received the go-ahead of Hideyoshi and a Haiku (俳句) poet took the stage. This was followed by a Kyōgen (狂言) which drew a lot of laughter from the audience.
Mythical Bugaku Lion Dance at Hideyoshi’s Sakura Party:
The title of the Bugaku dance was “The King of Lan Ling” (蘭陵王). The dance is performed by one man dressed in a colourful robe wearing a mask with a fearsome looking dragon on top. Bugaku is a court dance and is one of several Japanese traditional dances that has been performed to select elites mostly in Japanese imperial courts for over twelve hundred years. Read my blog post about this performance, including pictures here:
Japanese Spear Fight at Hideyoshi’s Cherry Blossom Party:
Three samurai warriors challenged Hideyoshi while he was seated at the Kondō (金堂), the main building of Daigo-ji temple. All of a sudden a onna-bugeisha (女武芸者) sprung to the foreground to defend her Lord and a fierce fight occurred. Another masked warrior joined the fight, Akakage (赤影 Red Shadow Ninja), and defeated the opponents in a dramatic show of skill. They all used a Japanese spear, a naginata (薙刀). A friend of mine told me that man and woman hold their naginata spear differently in combat.
Hanami Dance at Hideyoshi ‘s Cherry Blossom Party:
The last act was a splendid performance by the young girls from the nearby elementary school. They where holding a sakura branch in their hand and, while slowly dancing to a familiar tune, delighted everyone with their gracious sakura dance.
Closing of Hideyoshi ‘s Cherry Blossom Party:
Now it was time for all the participants of Hideyoshi’s Cherry Blossom Party to return to the Sanbō-in garden (三宝院). It was a great day with lots of spectacle and history. We lingered around for a little bit and bought some omiyage (お土産), dango, a local speciality in the precincts of Daigo-ji.