Japanese Works : Toyotomi Hideyoshi shuinjō

Toyotomi Hideyoshi 豊臣秀吉 (1536-1598)

Japanese Works

<p style='text-align: justify;'>A letter by Toyotomi Hideyoshi 豊臣秀吉 (1536-1598), regarded as the 'second great unifier' of Japan. The letter, which has been mounted on a hanging scroll, is addressed to Katō Yoshiaki 加藤嘉明 (1563-1631), one of his warlords. It bears the impression of Hideyoshi’s red seal (朱印).</p> <p style='text-align: justify;'>Toyotomi Hideyoshi was the ruler of Japan between 1585 and 1598. He ordered the invasions of Korea in 1592-1598 (the Bunroku Campaign 1592−1593 and the Keichō Campaign 1597−1598). The recipient of the letter, Katō Yoshiaki (also called 加藤左馬助 Katō Samanosuke or Katō Samesuke) was one of Hideyoshi’s warlords, who participated in the invasions of Korea, leading the navy.</p> <p style='text-align: justify;'>Hideyoshi’s letters can be divided into three groups: letters written by Hideyoshi himself; letters bearing his written seals (花押); and letters with his red seals (朱印). The latter two were written by his secretaries. Our letter belongs to the third group.</p> <p style='text-align: justify;'>In this letter, Hideyoshi begins by referring to Yoshiaki’s contribution at the battle against Shibata Katsuie(1522-1583)in 1583. He then acknowledges Yoshiaki’s distinguished services in Korea, and in particular praises the fact that Yoshiaki did not sign a treaty jointly with other warlords to abandon three castles after the battle of Ulsan Castle (in the early part of 1598). In the letter, he then states that he will increase Yoshiaki’s annual yield of farmland to 100,000 koku (石) adding 37,010 koku (石) and even suggests a further increase for Yoshiaki. At the end of letter, he requests that Yoshiaki visit and report to him directly when he returns to Japan.</p> <p style='text-align: justify;'>There are a couple doubtful points in this letter which may suggest that this particular letter is not the original, but rather a contemporaneous copy that was made of the original letter for some purpose, such as to be kept for Yoshiaki's family or relatives or his retainers.</p>


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