the last statement of Torii Mototada


The Last Statement of Torii Mototada (1539-1600AD)

(written by Torii to his son Tadamasa a few days before the fall of the castle. It is a moving account of unbending and selfless loyalty of vassal to master, and expresses in very clear terms that the true meaning of being a warrior is to die in battle.)

Recently there has been the report of an uprising in the Kamigata area, and that a large number of rebel daimyo who have fallen into the evil scheming of Ishida Mitsunari will first lay siege to this castle and are now making such preparations with large forces.

For myself, I am resolved to make a stand within the castle and to die a quick death It would not take much trouble to break through a part of their numbers and escape, no matter how many tens of thousands of horsemen approached for the attack or by how many columns we were surrounded. But that is not the true meaning of being a warrior, and it would be difficult to account as loyalty. Rather, I will stand off the forces of the entire country here, and without one one-hundredth of the men necessary to do so, will throw up a defense and die a resplendent death. By doing so I will show that to abandon a castle that should be defended, or to value one’s life so much as to avoid danger and to show the enemy one’s weakness is not within the family traditions of my master Ieyasu. Thus I will have taken the initiative in causing lord Ieyasu’s other retainers to be resolved, and in advancing righteousness to the warriors of the entire country. It is not the way of the warrior to be shamed and avoid death even under circumstances that are not particularly important. It goes without saying that to sacrifice one’s life for one’s master is an unchanging principle. As this is a matter I have thought over beforehand, I think that circumstances such that I am meting now must be envied by people of understanding.

You Tadamasa, should understand the following well. Our ancestors have been personal vassals of the Matsudaira for generations……..

(Mototada gives a lengthy history of how his father served Tokugawa’s ancestors, naming the names of his ancestors)

“Because lord Ieyasu is well aware of my loyalty, he has left me here in charge of the important area of Kamigata as Deputy of Fushimi Castle while he advances toward the east, and for a warrior there is nothing that could surpass this good fortune. That I should be able to go ahead of all of the other warriors of this country and lay down my life for the sake of my master’s benevolence is an honor to my family and has been my most fervent desire for many years.

“After I am slain you must lovingly care for your younger brothers…….”

(Mototada tells his son to raise his younger brothers and to offer themselves to Ieyasu as soon as they are able)

“They must be determined to stand with Lord Ieyasu’s clan in both its ascent and decline, in times of peace and in times of war; and either waking or sleeping they must never forget that they serve his clan and his clan alone. “To be avaricious for land or to forget old debts because of some passing dissatisfction, or to even temporarily entertain treacherous thoughts is not the Way of Man. Even if all of the other provinces of Japan were to unite against our lord, our descendants should not set foot inside another fief to the end of time………”

(the section continues with several vows of loyalty to Ieyasu)

I am now 62 years of age. Of the number of times I have barely escaped death since the time I was in Mikawa I have no Idea. Yet, not once have I acted in a cowardly way……

(There is a lengthy section where Mototada advises his son to listen to older retainers for advice)

“The entire country will soon be in the hands of your master lord Ieyasu. If this is so, the men who served him will no doubt hope to become daimyo by his appointment. You should know that if such feelings arise, they are inevitably the beginning of the end of one’s fortunes in the Way of the Warrior. Being affected by the avarice for office and rank, or wanting to become a daimyo and being eager for such things…….will not one begin to value his life?”

“And how can a man commit acts of martial valor if he values his life? A man who has been born into the house of a warrior and yet places no loyalty in his heart and thinks only of the fortune of his position will be flattering on the surface and construct schemes in his heart, will forsake righteousness and not reflect on his shame, and will stain the warriors name of his household to later generations…………”

(Mototada gives his son advice on how to run the affairs of the clan and ends his statement with this)

Be first of all prudent in your conduct and have correct manners, develop harmony between master and retainers, and have compassion on those beneath you. Be correct in the degree of rewards and punishments, and let there be no partiality in your degree of intimacy with your retainers. The foundation of man’s duty as a man is in “truth”. Beyond this, there is nothing to be said”

3 thoughts on “the last statement of Torii Mototada”

  1. My family name is Torii. I was born in Tokyo Japan. I had met no one with same sur name as mine through out my life in Tokyo. Apparently, my clan followed Ieyasu Tokugawa to Edo(Tokyo today). I wonder how many Torii in Tokyo today?

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