The image of warriors in the latter half of the seventeenth century
Amano Nagashige's [Shichū Shishū]
From the latter half of the seventeeth century to the first half of the eighteenth century, which in terms of the Tokugawa shogunate was from the reign of the fourth shogun Ietsuna to the fifth shogun Tsunayoshi, the trends and habits of the pugilistic and bloody world of the warrior or bushi suddenly began to disappear. Incidents of fighting, wounding, or killing a person over the most trivial of matters or a verbal argument declined, while the number of samurai who practised “tsuji-giri” in order to either practice their skills or test out a new blade also underwent a dramatic fall (although one cannot say that the practice disappeared altogether).
It is difficult to calculate the size of the impact that a world at peace, where warriors were no longer a necessity, had on the world of the warrior. Yet it is true to say that its impact on the punishments was quite substantial. We shall take a look at this change in the mentality and emotions of the world of the warrior using the records of a “hatamoto” (or shogunate retainer) who lived during this period of “reform” from the seventeenth to the eighteenth centuries. (pg.108)
The hatamoto in question was Amano Yagoemon Nagashige (1621-1705). The record that he left behind, titled the“Shichū Shishū” (or, A Collection of Proper Thoughts) dated from the Shōhō era (1644-48) to the 2nd year of Genroku (1689). Over the course of more than forty years, the collection gathered together a range of materials from edicts through to observations drawn from various documents (extracts from books, old songs, letters etc). The number of documents in the collection rose to 2,015, with each article containing a reference number and a title concerning its content.(pg.109)
So what kind of person was Amano Nagashige? In the Kanseichō Shūsho Kafu, his ancestors and history as a senior Bakufu official were detailed as follows. Nagashige's grandfather, Amano Shigemasa, had been attached at a retainer to Tokugawa Ieyasu's heir Nobuyasu from a young age. After being granted a salary of 200 koku, he continued in that role until passing away in the 19th year of Keichō (1614) at the age of 58. Nagashige's father, Naganobu, entered into Ieyasu's service in Keichō 7 (1602), and served in the summer and winter campaigns at Osaka. In the 2nd year of Genna (1616) he was appointed as the inspector (or bantō) of Nōto, and in the 3rd year of Kanei (1626) he was appointed as a retainer to Tōfuku Monin (the daughter of Tokugawa Hidetada and part of the household, as a concubine, of Emperor Go-mizunō). (pg.109) In Kanei 20 he became attached to the Kinri office of the Imperial household, and was granted an income of 2,530 koku. In the 2nd year of Shōhō (1645), he passed away at the age of 59 while carrying out his duties in Kyoto. (pg.109).
Nagashige was the eldest son of Naganobu and the daughter of Ōkouchi Hisatsuna. While the Kanseichō Shūsho Kafu does not detail the year of his birth, we do know that he died at the age of 85 in the 2nd year of Hōei (1705), so he must have been born in the 7th year of Genwa (1621). His mother was the elder sister of Matsudaira Nobutsuna (1596-1662), who served as an advisor to two generations of Tokugawa shoguns – Iemitsu and Ietsuna. Hence Nagashige was related to Nobutsuna as his great nephew. In the 7th leap year month of the 11th year of Kanei (1634), he had his first meeting with the shogun Iemitsu in the castle of Nijō (Nagashige was 14 years old at the time). In the 10th month of the 15th year of the same era, he became a scribe, serving in the position of Shoin Banshi, and in the 5th leap year month of the 2nd year of Shōhō he succeeded his father as head of the household at the age of 25. (pg.109)