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(Essay by Makoto K)
Ichi had three beautiful daughters, Yodo, Hatsu, and Go.
Yodo was 7years old when her father, Asai Nagamasa, was killed by Hideyoshi.
So, Ichi and her three daughters moved to one of their relative's castle and lived in comfort with support from Nobunaga. However, nine years later, Nobunaga was killed at Honnoji-temple in Kyoto. Soon after that Hideyoshi avenged Nobunaga, and the head generals of Nobunaga gathered in Kiyosu-castle to have an intense debate. Hideyoshi managed to come out of it in the top position.
Ichi married for the second time to Hideyoshi's rival, an older man, Shibata. She hoped he would defeat Hideyoshi, but after one year, Hideyoshi attacked them and they killed themselves together. Before committing suicide, Ichi left a message asking Hideyoshi not to kill her daughters.
Hideyoshi adopted Ichi’s three daughters. Yodo took after their mother the most. So Hideyoshi, who had long had a crush on Ichi, asked Yodo to become one of his wives. Then when Yodo was 22years old, she married him.
Yodo soon gave birth to two baby boys, and one of them, Hideyori, grew up healthy. Nobody believed Hideyori's father was Hideyoshi because his other wives didn't have any children, so everyone presumed that he was seedless.
Hideyoshi also noticed that Yodo must have cheated on him, but he didn't interrogate her. Instead, he killed many of the potential fathers, and loved Hideyori as a true son.
Hideyori's existence made Yodo special among his wives. She was the mother of the future Shogun, so she obtained more power than Hideyoshi's first wife, Nene. It meant that she attained the highest position possible for a woman in Japan at the time.
In 1598, Hideyoshi died when he was 62 years old which changed the power balance. His son took his position, but he was not respected like his father was, and eventually, their power started to deflate. Tokugawa set up the government in Edo and behaved as if he were the ruler. Yodo attempted to make him obey Hideyori, but Tokugawa gradually pushed then aside.
Although Tokugawa was overwhelmingly strong, Yodo never gave in. she fought back against the Tokugawa legion even wearing armor suits herself. Finally, in 1615, She died along side her son, Hideyori.
By that time Japan was already entering the Edo period.
Yodo is referred to as one of the three most evil women in Japanese history because she exerted dominant power.
Actually, there was another daughter who ended up exerting far more dominant power. Yodo had two little sisters, Hatsu and Go.
Hatsu was mild mannered and lived quietly as a head general’s wife.
Go had a checkered life. She was forcibly married for the third time to Hidetada Tokugawa by Yodo for political reasons. Go always had no choice but to obey Yodo, but she also had her own aspirations for power in mind.
She virtually surpassed Yodo in the end. Her husband, Hidetada, would become the second shogun, and she had great influence over him, and could persuade him to do things such as oust Hoshina.
The idiot lord, Toshitsune Maeda, got married to a 3-year-old girl… The girl's mother was Go. No doubt Go had tremendous influence in the early Edo period.
Furthermore, it's fair to say that her influence is still alive in Japan because the current imperial families are the descendants of Go…
But before I finish this essay, I want to say one last thing:
In my humble opinion, the woman who was actually pulling strings behind the scenes in this crazy period was Hatsu, Ichi’s middle daughter. She played a principal diplomatic role between the two outstanding sisters. I really respect her. I'd like to share her story with you someday as well.