KUKI, Yoshitaka (1542-1600)

Kuki Yoshitaka was born in Shima province, son of the lord of Shimatashiro castle Sadataka. He first received the title of umanosuke and served under Kitabatake the provincial administrator of Ise province. Later he joined the Oda Nobunaga camp as Nobunaga's vassal, and for the attack on Oshima castle (1574) he arrived with ten ships. In 1578 Oda Nobunaga ordered the construction of a large naval fleet under the command of Kuki Yoshitaka to counter the strong Mori naval fleet. This was in preparation for the infamous attack on the rebellious forces of Honganji temple, in which Oda Nobunaga destroyed and killed approximately three thousand monks and followers. For his help in the battle against the Mori, Kuki Yoshitaka received seven thousand koku worth of land, and then built his castle at Toba. His landholdings totaled thirty-five thousand koku in Shima and Ise provinces.

After the death of Oda Nobunaga, Kuki Yoshitaka became a vassal of Toyotomi Hideyoshi (NobunagaÕs successor) as a general in HideyoshiÕs naval fleet. As such, Yoshitaka controlled the Kumano Sea, KiÕi water ways, and Ise port. Shortly after that he received the Lower Fifth court rank and was appointed the governor of Osumi. In 1590 Kuki Yoshitaka led a combined naval armada to attack Odawara castle in Izu. In 1592 he became the supreme commander of the Hideyoshi naval fleet. Kuki Yoshitaka further participated in the attack on Korea, leading his forces from the famous Nipponmaru flag ship.

During the most celebrated battle in JapanÕs early modern history--the battle of Sekigahara between the Toyotomi and Tokugawa forces--Kuki Yoshitaka joined the Toyotomi (Western) forces while his son Moritaka joined the winning Tokugawa forces. On the twelfth day of the twelfth month of 1600, just before a message that Tokugawa Ieyasu had pardon Yoshitaka arrived, Yoshitaka committed suicide.

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