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Tachibana Ginchiyo
立花 誾千代
Tachibana family head

In office
Preceded by Tachibana Dōsetsu
Succeeded by Tachibana Muneshige
Personal details
Born Tachibana Castle, Chikuzen Province, Japan
Died Yanagawa, Fukuoka Hizen Province, Japan
Spouse(s) Tachibana Muneshige
Military service
Allegiance Japanese Crest daki Gyouyou.svg Ōtomo clan
Goshichi no kiri inverted.svg Toyotomi clan
大一大万大吉.svg Western Army
Jyanome (No background and Black color drawing).svg Katō clan
Unit Gion Mamori.svg Tachibana clan
Battles/wars Kyūshū Campaign
Battle of Sekigahara
Siege of Yanagawa

Tachibana Ginchiyo (立花 誾千代?, September 23, 1569 – November 30, 1602) was head of the Japanese Tachibana clan and a female samurai (onna-bugeisha) during the Sengoku period. She was the daughter of Tachibana Dōsetsu, a powerful retainer of the Ōtomo clan (which were rivals of the Shimazu clan at the time). Because Dosetsu had no sons, he requested that Ginchiyo be made family head.[1]


She led the clan in a period of difficulty at only 6 years old. She inherited her father's all interest such as the status of castellan, territory, belongings and the famous sword Raikiri (雷切, Lightning Cutter).[2] She recruited women to become her elite guard and trained all the maidens of the castle in warfare skills to intimidate visitors and to prevent it if other clans attack her domain. She married Tachibana Muneshige, who had been adopted into the family and continued Dōsetsu's family line after Ginchiyo.[1]

Kyushu Campaign

In 1586 the Shimazu clan marched with his troops to conquer Kyushu, attacked the Ōtomo clan in the Bungo province and the Tachibana Castle in the north.[2] The Tachibana clan fought back against Shimazu, because the Ōtomo clan had access to European Christians, the retainers had access to firearms, Ginchiyo used her female artillery to defend the castle.[3] When Toyotomi Hideyoshi led 200,000 men to conquer Kyushu, the Shimazu army retreated to the Higo Province. The Tachibana forces were eventually forced to flee during the Kyūshū Campaign. Tachibana castle fell to Hideyoshi, who entrusted it to Kobayakawa Takakage. Ginchiyo and Muneshige allied with Hideyoshi in the campaign against their traditional rival, Shimazu clan.[2]

Service under Hideyoshi

After the Tachibana clan siding with Toyotomi Hideyoshi and he had conquered Kyushu in 1587, Muneshige split from the Ōtomo to become a daimyō in his own right. He was given Yanagawa castle in Chikugo province, after this the Tachibana become an independent clan. It is said that Ginchiyo and Muneshige did not like each other, she opposes the change of domain and many other policies of Muneshige. Even after transferring clan leadership to Muneshige, she still had much political and military influence. After Kyushu campaign, Hideyoshi is said to return Tachibana Castle to Ginchiyo and she lives separately from Muneshige, who stayed at Yanagawa Castle. When Muneshige was absent, Ginchiyo was responsible for managing the Tachibana clan domains and commanding Yanagawa Castle. The Tachibana clan fought in the Siege of Odawara the battle that unified Japan under Hideyoshi name.[2]

In 1592 Hideyoshi ordered that Tachibana Muneshige and Tachibana Naotsugu participate of the Invasion to the Korea under the command of Kobayakawa Takakage. Hideyoshi built Nagoya castle as a base to launch attacks on Korea. The castle was relatively close to Ginchiyo's residence in Hizen Province, it is said that Hideyoshi invited Ginchiyo to visit the castle several times when her husband was away. However, when Hideyoshi saw Ginchiyo with her armed women, he left fearing her personality.[4]

After Hideyoshi's campaign of Korea, Ginchiyo, who never gave birth to a child, divorces Muneshige and becomes a Buddhist nun.

Sekigahara Campaign

File:Tachibana Ginchiyo Armor.jpg

Replica of the armor that would have been worn by Tachibana Ginchiyo, at the Tachibana Museum.

After the death of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the power of the Toyotomi clan declined and Japan would go to war again. In 1600 in the Battle of Sekigahara, the Tachibana clan would ally itself with Ishida Mitsunari in the Western army against the Eastern Army of Tokugawa Ieyasu.[5] Ginchiyo first opposed Muneshige's decision to join the Western army.

In the Kyushu Sekigahara campaign, Ginchiyo defended the Ōtomo clan from the invasion of Kuroda Kanbei and Katō Kiyomasa. After the defeat of Western Army in Sekigahara, the Eastern Army under the leadership of Kanbei, Kyomasa and Nabeshima Katsushige began to march toward their doorstep, Ginchiyo organized her fellow nuns in armed resistance against the advancing army.[3] She faced them alone while wearing armor at the Siege of Yanagawa and protected the rearguard of Muneshige to escape.[6]

Kuroda and Kato were old comrades-in-arms of Tachibana Muneshige from the days of the Korean invasion, and following the unexpected and challenging resistance of Ginchiyo, they proposed that she and her ex-husband should surrender and join them in a campaign against Shimazu Yoshihiro, who was also from the Western Army and fled from Sekigahara. Muneshige agreed, but Tokugawa leyasu ordered the campaign to stop almost before it had begun because he did not want a further war in Kyushu. Ginchiyo and Muneshige was pardoned nonetheless.[4] The Tachibana family was deprived of their domains in the aftermath of Mitsunari's defeat. Muneshige thanked Ginchiyo for helping him in battle and they both went their own way.[3]

Later life

After the battle, she was put under protection of Kiyomasa with other retainers of Tachibana clan. She lived in the residence of Ichizō(市蔵), the local farmer of Tamana, Higo Province. Kiyomasa wrote in his letter that he sent food provisions to Ginchyo at that time. Polite words of the letter suggests that he treated Ginchiyo as a noble woman.[7]

Tachibana Ginchiyo died of illness in November 30, 1602, only 34 years old. She was buried in a temple in Yanagawa.[3]

In popular culture

See also


Preceded by
Tachibana Dōsetsu
Tachibana family head
Succeeded by
Tachibana Muneshige

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