Kira Yoshinaka


Kira Yoshinaka

nihongo|Kira Yoshinaka|吉良義央 (October 5, 1641January 30, 1703) was a "kōke" (master of ceremonies). His court title was "Kōzuke no suke". He is famous as the adversary of Asano Naganori in the events of the Forty-seven Ronin.

Born in 1641, he was the eldest son of Kira Yoshifuyu. His mother was a member of the high-ranking Sakai family. On the death of his father in 1668, Yoshinaka became the 17th head of the household, inheriting lands evaluated at 4200 "koku". His wife was from the Uesugi clan, and his eldest son was adopted by Uesugi Tsunakatsu, the head of the Dewa Yonezawa "han", taking the name Tsunanori. Yoshinaka named his second son as his heir, but when that heir died, Yoshinaka adopted Tsunanori's second son, strengthening the connection between the Kira and the Uesugi.

As a "kōke", Kira oversaw matters of protocol. In 1701, he was assigned the task of tutoring Asano Naganori in matters of protocol in preparation for an upcoming visit by representatives of the Emperor. On the day when the envoys were scheduled to meet the shogun, at Edo Castle, Asano drew his short sword and attempted to kill Kira. For this, he was sentenced to commit seppuku. On January 30, 1703 (December 14, 15th year of Genroku according to the Japanese calendar), Asano's retainers broke into Kira's mansion and killed him in revenge.

The Tokugawa shogunate condemned the grandson of Yoshinaka to death for being incapable of protecting his family like a "samurai"; the Kira were also dispossessed and lost the rank of "koke". After the death of Uesugi Tsunakatsu, the revenues of the Uesugi were reduced from 300,000 koku to 150,000 koku. On the other hand, the brother of Asano Naganori was reestablished, received a revenue of 5,000 koku and the rank of "hatamoto".

References

*新井政義(編集者)『日本史事典』。東京:旺文社1987(p. 115)
*竹内理三(編)『日本史小辞典』。東京:角川書店1985(p. 314)


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