Hosokawa Gracia

Hosokawa Tama (細川玉), (née Akechi), usually referred to as Hosokawa Garasha (細川ガラシャ), (1563 – 25 August 1600) was a member of the aristocratic Akechi family from the Sengoku period.[1] She was the daughter of Akechi Mitsuhide and Tsumaki Hiroko, the wife of Hosokawa Tadaoki, and a Christian convert. Gracia is best known for her role in the Battle of Sekigahara, she was considered to be a political hostage to the Western army led by Ishida Mitsunari. She reneged on committing suicide (seppuku) because of her Christian faith, breaking the code of conduct imposed on women of the samurai class.

The grave of Hosokawa Gracia and Hosokawa Tadaoki, Kōtō-in, Daitoku-ji, Kyoto.

As the last notable survivor of the Akechi clan, the clan that planned and killed Oda Nobunaga, the first "Great Unifier" of Japan, Gracia's death impacted both armies. The incident did much damage to Ishida's reputation, which greatly reduced his chances of recruiting more allies, some of whom were also secretly Christians. Gracia's actions consequently led to Mitsunari's defeat; triggering the events that would lead to the formation of the Tokugawa Shogunate.[2]


She was named Akechi Tama or Tamako at birth; Garasha, the name by which she is known in history, is based upon her Catholic baptismal name, Gracia.

She married Hosokawa Tadaoki at the age of sixteen; the couple had five or six children. In the Sixth Month of 1582, her father Akechi Mitsuhide betrayed and killed his lord, Oda Nobunaga, making the teenage Tama a traitor's daughter. Not wishing to divorce her, Tadaoki sent her to the hamlet of Midono in the mountains of the Tango Peninsula (now in Kyoto Prefecture), where she remained hidden until 1584, until Toyotomi Hideyoshi requested that Tadaoki bring Tama to the Hosokawa mansion in Osaka, where she remained in confinement.

This monument in Kyoto Prefecture marks the area where Tama lived in hiding from 1582 to 1584.

Tama's maid, Kiyohara Kayo, baptized Maria, was from a Catholic family, and her husband repeated to her conversations with his Christian friend Takayama Ukon. In the spring of 1587 Tama managed to secretly visit the Osaka church; a few months later, when she heard that Toyotomi Hideyoshi had issued a proclamation against Christianity, she was determined to be baptized immediately. As she could not leave the house, she was baptized by her maid and received the Christian name "Gracia". She is said to have studied both Latin and Portuguese and to have read and become fascinated with Thomas à Kempis' The Imitation of Christ.

In 1595 Tadaoki's life was in danger because of his friendship with Toyotomi Hidetsugu, and he told Gracia that if he should die she must kill herself. When she wrote asking the priests about the plan, they informed her that suicide was a grave sin. However, the danger passed.

Reconstruction of Hideyoshi's Osaka Castle. (The Hosokawa mansion was just south of the castle.)

The death of Hideyoshi in 1598 left a power vacuum with two rival factions forming: Tokugawa Ieyasu in the east and Ishida Mitsunari in the west. When Ieyasu went to the east in 1600 leading a large army, including Tadaoki, his rival Ishida took over the impregnable castle in Osaka, the city where the families of many of Hideyoshi's generals resided. Ishida devised a plan to take the family members hostage, thus forcing the rival generals either to ally with him or at least not to attack him.

However, when Ishida attempted to take Gracia hostage, the family retainer Ogasawara Shōsai killed her[citation needed]; she and the rest of the household then committed seppuku and burned the mansion down. The outrage over her death was so great that Ishida was forced to abandon his plans. Most Japanese accounts state that it was Gracia's idea to order Ogasawara to kill her. But according to the Jesuit account written right after her death, whenever Tadaoki left the mansion he would tell his retainers that if his wife's honor were ever in danger, they should kill her and then themselves. They decided that this was such a situation; Gracia had anticipated her death and accepted it.

Gracia's grave at Sōzenji

A Catholic priest, Gnecchi-Soldo Organtino, had Gracia's remains gathered from the Hosokawa mansion and buried them in a cemetery in Sakai. Later, her remains were moved to Sōzenji, a temple in Osaka. Gracia also shares a grave with Tadaoki at Kōtō-in, a sub-temple of Daitoku-ji.[further explanation needed]

In historical fictionEdit

Gracia frequently appears as a character in Japanese historical fiction, both novels and drama. One website lists her as a character in over 40 stage dramas, movies, TV dramas, etc., from 1887 to 2006.[citation needed] She is also frequently referred to in popular writing or talks on the history of the period. A work that has been translated into English is Ayako Miura's novel, Hosokawa Garasha Fujin (English title: Lady Gracia: a Samurai Wife's Love, Strife and Faith), which follows history fairly closely.

James Clavell used Gracia as the model for the character of Mariko Toda in his novel Shōgun.[3] Additionally Clavell gave the Japanese wife of Vasco Rodrigues (whose Japanese name was Nyan-nyan) the baptismal name Gracia. This book was later adapted for television as a miniseries in 1980 where Mariko was portrayed by Japanese actress Yoko Shimada, who had previously portrayed Gracia in the 1978 Japanese Taiga Drama series Ōgon no Hibi. Elements of Mariko's story follow Gracia's quite closely, although the manner of her death is different (Mariko threatens to commits suicide if she is not allowed to leave Osaka Castle and is then killed in a raid on her compound, thereby her death served the original purpose as her threatened suicide, enraging the other hostages) and the two characters do not fundamentally have anything in common.

Hosokawa Gracia is one of the main characters in the 1981 movie Samurai Reincarnation.

In musicEdit

  • Mulier fortis cuius pretium de ultimis finibus sive Gratia Regni Tango Regina exantlatis pro Christo aerumnis clara was composed by the Austrian composer Johann Bernhard Staudt in 1698.[4]
  • Hosokawa Grazia is a lyric opera in three acts, the first written in Japanese language. It was composed by the Italians missioner and musician don Vincenzo Cimatti. Represented as a lyric drama in words and songs in 1940, it was then written completely in music and played in the years 1960, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1989, 2004.[5]

Modern referencesEdit

Gracia appears as a playable character in Koei's Samurai Warriors series starting on Samurai Warriors 2 Xtreme Legends. She is also playable in Warriors Orochi 3.[6] She is a playable character in the post-credit story mode of Pokémon Conquest (Pokémon + Nobunaga's Ambition in Japan), with her partner Pokémon being Gothorita and Gothitelle.[7] She is an ancestor of Japan's former Prime-minister Morihiro Hosokawa.[8]

The city of Nagaokakyō, Kyoto host the Garasha Festival every November.


The emblem (mon) of the Hosokawa clan
  1. ^ Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric. (2005). "Hosokawa Gracia" in Japan Encyclopedia, p. 358; 細川ガラシャ at Nihon jinmei daijiten; retrieved 2013-5-29.
  2. ^ 中西信男 (1983). 関ケ原合戦の人間関係学: 歷史心理学から見た家康の性格 (in Japanese). 新人物往来社.
  3. ^ Bernstein, Paul (13 September 1981). "Making of a Literary Shogun". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 March 2018.
  4. ^ Johann Bernhard Staudt (1698). Mulier fortis cuius pretium de ultimis finibus sive Gratia Regni Tango Regina exantlatis pro Christo aerumnis clara. Europeana Collections (in Latin). Viennae: Typis Leopoldi Voigt Universitatis Typogr. Retrieved 15 January 2021.
  5. ^ "HOSOKAWA GRAZIA, in "Bollettino Salesiano"". Biesseonline.sdb.org (in Italian). October 2004. Retrieved 17 March 2016.
  6. ^ "Warriors Orochi 3 Character List – Koei Warriors". Koei Warriors. Archived from the original on 8 January 2012. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
  7. ^ "Gracia + Munna – Pokemon Conquest Characters". Pokemon. Retrieved 17 June 2012.
  8. ^ Harry Burton-Lewis. "The Christian Year in Review : Significant Events of 1992". Nirc.nanzan-u.ac.jp. Retrieved 15 October 2017.

Further readingEdit

  • J. Laures, Two Japanese Christian Heroes, Rutland, VT: Bridgeway Press Books, 1959.
  • Charles Ralph Boxer, "Hosokawa Tadaoki and the Jesuits, 1587–1645" in Portuguese Merchants and Missionaries in Feudal Japan, 1543–1640, by Variorum Reprints (1986), ISBN 978-0860781806