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|First Appearance:||Samurai Warriors|
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June 2, 1615
|Birth year unknown. Age at death varies from 19~25 years.|
Shigenari Kimura is one of Hideyori's known retainers. He is best known for loyally fighting and dying for the Toyotomi family at Osaka Castle. Shigenari was so ready to accept his death that he prepared and cleaned himself for his decapitation before the final battle. The Tokugawa retainers realized this from his chopped head and were moved to tears. Legends posthumously honor Shigenari as a courageous hero and one of the most beautiful men of his time.
Role in GamesEdit
The Samurai Warriors series has him always appear at Ōsaka Castle and often stations him within the castle's inner defenses. The second Empires title includes conversations highlighting the legends about him and has him share an anachronistic kinship with Shigeyuki Ono.
Often called "Kimura", he appears during the final battles in Kessen as a reliable spear unit. If the Toyotomis have suffered a string of losses, he will appear as one of the last defenders at Osaka Castle. He is one of the generals who enjoys Yukimura's fireworks display the night before their war council. Kimura may survive Osaka Castle to fight Ieyasu's forces again at the second Sekigahara.
The Nobunaga's Ambition series has his stats share parallels with Katsunaga Mōri. He is the slightly less intelligent one of the pair. Shigenari's fabled family relations with Hideyori is mentioned within his profile but not acknowledged within historical events; it is embraced only within an alternate and erased timeline of the series's online adaptation (Dokuganryu no Yabou). He tends to appear as a general only during scenarios taking place during the end of the era.
- John Murphy - Kessen (English)
- Ryōtarō Okiayu - Kessen (Japanese)
- "Master Kimura, it is assuring to have your vast wisdom and courage as my ally."
- "Nonsense. I am a lowly youth with some talent. I am but a mere fledging compared to you, Lord Sanada. Yet if we should require enemy intelligence, may I suggest that we impersonate as women for the deed?"
- "Me, dressed as a woman...!? I feel only someone as fair as you could accomplish this task, Master Kimura."
- "Hardly, sire. You might be surprised by how well we would look together."
- "Uh, um... I'm afraid I will need to decline your generous offer."
- ~~Yukimura and Shigenari; 100man-nin no Sengoku Musou
Kimura Shigenari may have been celebrated after his death, yet nothing has been historically verified for him prior to the Osaka Campaigns. Aside from being one of Hideyori's pages, his history before the battle is a mystery and lost amidst legends. His political alias was Nagato-no-kami.
Shigenari became a name to be feared when he and his forces participated in the Battle of Imafuku in 1614, the largest open field battle during the Winter Osaka Campaign. Gotō Mototsugu and his forces were reinforcements for the Toyotomi regiment and were given the task of driving back Satake Yoshinobu's forces. It was Shigenari's first known battle (or his first ever charge), yet his troops were a force to be reckoned with and pummeled through the Satake troops. The Eastern front deteriorated when Yoshinobu's retainer, Shibue Masamitsu, perished in battle for his lord's defense. As the Satake forces fled and sought relief from Uesugi Kagekatsu and company, the Toyotomi forces withdrew to avoid unnecessary losses. Shigenari would later fight again for the Sanadamaru defenses. Both armies agreed to a truce by December the same year, and Shigenari was one of the envoys sent to witness its signing. He was the messenger who personally received the document from the shogun.
Around May 29, 1615, the Tokugawa armies resumed their march towards Osaka Castle. Shigenari led a regiment of 6,000 men to intercept them and was reinforced by Chōsokabe Morichika's army of 5,300. After a quick assessment of the terrain, Shigenari decided to position his regiment near Imafuku. Ieasyu's forces then changed course, causing the Toyotomi army to force themselves for the split at Wakae on June 1. While Morichika and company repelled the Tokugawa along the south at Yao, Shigenari's troops fought Tōdō Takatora and Ii Naotaka's troops head on at Wakae. The fighting for both battalions began on June 2. Shigenari stationed his artillery unit within the rice paddies and was able to repel the Tōdō army during the morning attack. Yet his formation fell apart by midday when Naotaka's army circled around the matchlock rifles from the west. Many of the samurai who fought within his battalion were annihilated by the Ii army. Shigenari resisted them and personally armed himself with a spear for the fight, resisting the Tokugawa troops to the bitter end. He is accredited to have personally killed a handful of the Ii retainers in his last stand, including Yamaguchi Shigenobu and Ihara Tomomasa.
When his head was brought to Ieyasu, he saw Shigenari's hair was neatly trimmed and he smelled incense wafting from it. He reportedly realized the scent must have came from the cords of Shigenari's helmet and praised the fallen as a courageous warrior. He explained that the youth must have prepared for his death in advance, well aware that he would not live to see a day beyond this battle. Shigenari is often believed to have died at a very young age in spite of his unknown birth year, likely due to a rough estimate of his facial features. The grave for his head currently rests at Sōan-ji, which is located in modern day Hikone. His body grave is buried with other generals at Yao city.
Naotaka and the Ii generals were said to have been very impressed by Shigenari and kept records of his end for future generations to enjoy. They were responsible for taking care of his head after it was shown to Ieyasu. Since he was an enemy to the Tokugawa shogunate, however, he could not be publicly celebrated until the Meiji era. He was then given his posthumous Buddhist name, which can be roughly translated as "Dai-kōji, A Young Hero who matches the Integrity and Loyalty of Yore" (智覺院殿忠翁英勇大居士).
The impact of Shigenari's brief life gave birth to many legends about him. Edo period folklore celebrates him as a tragic hero, and he is one of the figures romanticized within Nanba Senkimono –the same narrative which is sometimes credited to have started the "Yukimura" boom for Sanada Nobushige. Depending on who is asked, some of the legends attributed to Yukimura were originally told in Shigenari's name. They were both said to have wore crimson armor, wielded a red-tinted cross spear, and had refined facial features.
Given his status within historical records, it's difficult to verify the likelihood of these stories. The majority of these tales are considered fictional or very improbable by modern historians, yet they continue to be celebrated to this day.
The popular interpretation of Shigenari's origins was that he was the biological son of Kunaikyō-no-Tsubone, Hideyori's wet nurse. Since they were both raised and breastfed by the same woman, Shigenari grew up with Hideyori and both childhood friends loved and trusted one another. The foster brothers were always close to one another, so this scenario is often used to dramatize Shigenari's undying loyalty to the Toyotomi family during his adulthood. The wet nurse in question could alternatively be called Ukyō-no-Daifu-no-Tsubone who is either a different wet nurse or the same person as Kunaikyō.
Kunaikyō's husband was said to have been Kimura Shigekore, the Governor of Hitachi. He was one of Toyotomi Hidetsugu's retainers who was stuck in muddy waters with the Hidetsugu Case. When his lord perished, Shigekore followed him into the afterlife. Historical records note that Shigekore's sons and daughter joined him in death, but legends will state that Hideyoshi was so impressed with the young and docile Shigenari that he was compelled to spare him. He granted Shigenari 3,000 koku and the Nagato-no-kami title at a young age.
Nanba Senkimono states that Shigenari was able to survive his father's death through his mother (Kunaikyō/Ukyō). She had gave birth to him at Sadowara and was traveling to become a nun in Ise. As she made way for the temple, his mother stopped at an inn in Osaka. Toyotomi retainers were inquiring for a wet nurse during her stay, caught sight of her and her infant son, and decided to bring her to Osaka Castle. Since her milk was welcomed by the infant Hideyori, Hideyoshi overlooked her ties with a Hidetsugu retainer and affably accepted Shigenari.
As one of Hideyori's Four Divine Kings, Shigenari grew up to be a beautiful man. He had pale white skin, a high eye line with elegant black eyebrows, and composed his tall and thin body with surreal dignity. While he was not known to be violent, he was very skilled in the martial arts. He could expertly handle a bow, a sword, a spear, and a horse with refined grace. Shigenari was praised as a man of rarity; he was the perfect embodiment of the three Chinese virtues: wisdom, humanity and courage.
Before the fighting at Osaka took place, Shigenari was very popular for his looks but was bullied for his lack of experience in the battlefield. A Toyotomi retainer ridiculed him and even slurred him as a wannabe samurai. Normally, that insult would earn someone a lost head. Shigenari replied as such to the insulter but added with a smile, "The time of my death is for Lord Hideyori to decide. I can't afford to lose it now to someone like you." The incident became hot gossip with the castle inhabitants and boosted Shigenari's popularity. He also learned from the incident to address his weaknesses and asked his senior, Gotō Mototsugu, to privately tutor him.
Sometime before the Osaka Summer Campaign, Shigenari had a wife. His mother's niece, Yanagi, fell in love with Shigenari at first sight. She sent him a poem describing her longing for him. After he returned from his first battle, he responded that the willow will unite them in the spring, using her name as a pun for his mutual affections for her. They were married in the spring of 1615. She would live past her husband with a child, giving birth to a boy. Yanagi sent the boy to live in another home after his birth and became a nun. A year later, on their first wedding anniversary, she chose to end her short twenty-year life.
Alternatively, his wife was also said to have been Mano Yorikane's daughter. At the start of May 1615, Shigenari fasted and rarely ate his meals. His wife worried that it was a sign of the castle's fall and feared it meant they starved out. Shigenari elaborated his plans to her by saying, "About three years ago, there was a fellow I knew named Uwari Shirō. He was the cowardly type who couldn't even swallow his own breakfast proper. So when the enemy shot him down at his throat, the food he ate gushed from it. I will lose my own head soon. I plan not to die in such a vulgar manner." Upon hearing his story, his wife excused herself to her room and later committed suicide. She was eighteen years old.
His activities generally follow his historical counterpart with some interesting differences. While Shigenari initiated the charge for the Satake forces, his army of 5,000 were bombarded by a rain of arrows and bullets. One of his aides, Kimura Shirō, carried a shield to him and gestured for him to use it. Shigenari replied, "Even if I were to escape this downpour, I could not escape my fate." He ordered for his men to keep marching towards their destination.
For a time, Shigenari was calm but he panicked once he realized his captain, Ōi Naemon, was no where to be found. Riding back alone through the pile of corpses, Shigenari searched for him through several volleys. He miraculously found his captain still alive and flew off his horse to embrace him. The wounded Naemon urged for his commander to leave him for dead as the bullets ricocheted around them. Shigenari countered, "How can I face the future if I were to leave you behind? I came back for you. I wouldn't have bothered to come back at all if you weren't here." By the time the enemy infantry neared their location, Shigenari's escorts had caught up with him and they were able to cradle Naemon back to safety. The rescue story impressed Tokugawa retainers whom were thusly convinced of his reputation and valor.
Hideyori was pleased by Shigenari's success at Imafuku and wanted to somehow reward his retainer. Shigenari was grateful for his lord's attention but modestly declined a material reward. He quaintly added that the battle was won by many, and it would be unjust to credit a single person for its results. Hideyori insisted until Shigenari replied that his continued service to his lord and the Toyotomi family was the only gratitude he would ever need. If he could will it, he would want to forever serve them in whatever afterlife or reincarnations awaits them. Hideyori smiled and called his friend "the greatest brave of the land".
In between Imafuku and Sanadamaru (or before Imafuku in variations), a legend says that the Toyotomi generals wanted information of the Tokugawa's movements near Osaka yet they were short-handed and overworked due to the winter conditions. Rather than wait for sluggish reports from tired spies, Shigenari decided to don a womanly disguise and infiltrated the villages near the Tokugawa forces. Amazingly, he was never suspected nor discovered, even when Tokugawa generals had looked directly at his unmasked face. He returned to the Toyotomi ranks in a few days with positive and reliable news.
During the fighting at Sanadamaru, Shigenari saw the six coin banner heading towards his fort. He recognized the emblem and asked his superior about it. Nobushige explained that they were marching under his older brother's banner, and his two nephews (Nobuyoshi and Nobumasa) were wearing the same emblem on their helmets. The commander admitted his grief for their unfortunate encounter, yet instructed Shigenari to show them no mercy if they were in sight. To which, he was answered with, "Can't you consider a day when your clan is not torn from one another? Peace will come, so please pay them a visit. Have faith." Afterwards, they gave a strict order to never fire at the two youths wearing the six coin helmets under any circumstances.
As the formal Toyotomi envoy for receiving the truce, Shigenari was given the privilege of overlooking the document before delivering it to his masters. He was unsatisfied with the required blood soaked fingerprint for Ieyasu's signature as it was too diluted. He demanded for Ieyasu to redo it or he would not accept it. The elderly Ieyasu paled upon the request. "It is faint because of my age", he reasoned, "but I suppose I must humor you." He pricked his finger and pressed it on the document. Hidetada approved the treaty and gave it to Shigenari a few days later. According to rumors from both sides, Shigenari was right to suspect the first print. It was taken from a random passersby at Nijo Castle and was never Ieaysu's blood. It was a hidden message to signify his plans for waging war again. The Toyotomi generals were later proud by Shigenari's perceptiveness.
On the morning before his final battle, Shigenari did three specific things. He bathed himself and washed his hair. He hummed the song Kouka no Ashita to himself and then aimlessly beat a small drum (kotsuzumi). In the stories where Yanagi was his wife, she helped him get dressed and gave him his scented helmet before he left the castle.
When Shigenari's troops engaged Tōdō's army, one of his vassals warned him that the troops were tired and they would face certain death in another skirmish. Shigenari spoke, "This petty victory could not satisfy me. I have not yet taken Ieyasu's or Hidetada's head." The popular scenario of his final charge has Shigenari arm himself with a spear as he cut through dozens of Ii soldiers. He had at best four hundred of his own men standing by then, and he was fighting alone. Allegedly, his body armor was covered in blood from both him and his enemies. He was finally identified and pinned by Ii retainer, Ihara Sukesaemon, with a cross spear in a rice paddy. He was killed by two or three other Ii soldiers, and his head was claimed by Andō Shigehara. The alternative version has Sukesaemon find the unprotected Shigenari with a small escort team and then force the general to fight to his death.
The news of Shigenari's demise was a hard hit for both sides. The Tokugawa army mourned the loss of a superb youth who demonstrated untold promise and courage. Every woman in Osaka Castle was said to have wept for him.
The fate of Shigenari's family after Osaka Castle isn't clarified in historical records; legends and myths will state otherwise. Most stories will establish that he fathered at least one or three children before his death. The son from the aforementioned Yanagi scenario has his infant son be left to a rural family in Ōmi or be adopted into the Mabuchi clan; he was then known as Mabuchi Saemon when he matured. Alternatively, his son's identity was exposed by samurai headhunters years later and he was killed like several other Toyotomi loyalists.
Kimura Shuzo Keifu remarks that Shigenari was the twelfth head of the Kimura clan. He had one son and two daughters; their mother is argued to have been a maid from Osaka Castle. Before the castle fell, his eldest son escaped the carnage and lived in hiding as a mountain hermit. He made friends with the nearby village and found his lover there, who fathered the author and self-proclaimed fourteenth Kimura leader, Shigetoshi. One of Shigenari's daughters took refuge in Osaka and was wed to a local wine brewer. His descendants reunited over time and have allegedly stayed there for generations to keep the family business running.
One of Shigenari's sons was said to have been employed by the Yamaguchi clan prior to the Osaka conflicts, which would later be paradoxical when his father killed Shigenobu in the Osaka Summer Campaign. The Ii clan respected his father yet couldn't dispel the bad blood he had made with the Yamaguchi retainers. Therefore, they transferred him to the smaller Ogawa clan to keep the son alive and to appease his antagonizers by demoting his presence and salary. An alternative take on the story has the Ii clan discreetly perform the transfer to instead rescue the son from being identified by other Tokugawa inspectors. If he was caught within the Yamaguchi, he would have been imprisoned and executed as a criminal to the state. The Ii clan wanted to protect the son to guard Shigenari's name from further infamy.
Alternatively, Shigenari is argued to have founded his branch of the Kimura clan at Osaka. He adapted the "Kimura" name from the Toyotomi's earliest origins (木下, Kinoshita) as a sign of respect to their ancestors. When Shigenari perished in battle, the rest of the clan scattered and fled from Osaka to the east, either in Fukushima or Yamagata Prefecture. These descendants were able to reestablish their government post in Aizu by at least the Bakumatsu. They lost their prestige but they continue to prosper in Japan today, having passed the tale of their origins through members of their family line. The earlier mentioned negative reputation regarding Shigenari prevented them from being open about their heritage until recent years.
Depending on who is asked, Shigenari was not a name to be celebrated until the turn of the century. He was not mentioned or taught within public schools or history books; his name was not known until very recently (1960s). This has led to a minor theory that his name is fictional and actually a placeholder for a heroic and nameless Toyotomi soldier and retainer only known as Nagato-no-kami. He was only deemed memorable because of his death.