On the 23rd February 1544 (Tenmon 13), Kamenojo’s father, Naomitsu, was killed by Imagawa Yoshimoto under suspicion of plotting rebellion. As his son, Kamenojo’s life was also in danger. Naomitsu’s chief retainer, Imamura Toshichiro, put Kamenojo into a bag made of straw matting and hid in the Kuroda Mountains in the Ii’s lands. But those pursuing them drew ever closer.
It was then that the priest Nankei made plans with his apprentice, Nochu, a priest of Shibukawa Tokoin Temple. They helped Kamenojo to escape to Shogenji Temple in Shinshu Ichida (Takamori-machi, Nagano Prefecture), where the founder of Ryotanji Temple, Mokuju, had received his training. This escape is written about in “The History of Enshu Shibukawa” (Enshu shibukawa no rekishi). According to this account, when Imamura Toshichiro tried to take Kamenojo across the Sakata Pass, they were shot with arrows by Okonojiro, who had been waiting on the road under Imagawa’s orders.
After overcoming this dangerous journey and arriving at Shogenji Temple, Kamenojo remained in hiding for over ten years. Imamura Toshichiro stayed with Kamenojo the whole time. The “Ii Family History” (Iike denki, Ryotanji Temple holdings) tells how he called himself Katsumata, and claimed to be a samurai from the former Kito district (now the area around Kikugawa and Omaezaki). For 12 years, Toshichiro cared for Kamenojo by himself. His grave lies close by the Ii Clan family grave in Ryotanji Temple, where he watches over his lord, Kamenojo, to this day.
As a result of Kamenojo fleeing Iinoya, Naotora was convinced that her betrothed was dead. Overcome with sadness, she decided she would dedicate the rest of her life to prayer for his peaceful rest, and she asked Nankei to cut her hair so she could leave home. Upon leaving home, she was given the name “Jiro-hoshi.”
Naotora’s Story from the lands of the Ii: Chapter 1
Ryotanji Temple and the Ii Clan
Ryotanji Temple has been the family temple of the Ii Clan from the Heian Period (8th – 12th centuries). It was the temple that gave Naotora her name as a Buddhist priest, Jiro-hoshi, when she left home. This name combines “Jiro,” to show that she was the successor to the Ii clan, suffixed with the title used for Buddhist priests, hoshi. According to the history of the temple, Gyoki founded the temple in 733. The head priest during the Sengoku Period (around the 15th century) was Nankei. In order to restore the Ii Clan as it faced a crisis of total destruction, he appointed Naotora as the female lord of the castle and gave her his full support. There are important cultural heritages at Ryotanji Temple, including the graves and many other items related to the Ii Clan’s history. Ryotanji garden (a chisen-kankoshiki [ornamental pond garden]) was created by Kobori Enshu in the early Edo Period and is designated as a National Site of Scenic Beauty. It is a vital temple for anyone who wishes to understand the history of the Ii.
As well as being the family temple of the Ii Clan, Ryotanji Temple was the place where Naotora spent much of her life studying and training after having left home. Even after she returned to secular life, it is said that she lived in a small building on the grounds of the temple. Naotora was a woman who overcame crisis in the midst of the chaos and wars of the Sengoku period, from right here in Iinoya. Ryotanji Temple, with its long history and beautiful garden, is already well-loved by many people. However, this is an opportunity for even more people to learn about it – an opportunity which we hope many of you take.
Head Priest of Ryotanji Temple, Soho Muto
Mr. Muto was very surprised to hear about the decision for the Taiga Drama last summer. He very graciously provided us with this explanation about Naotora and Ryotanji Temple, despite being busy with an increase in visitors to the temple and creating documents about Naotora.