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Role: Katō Masakiyo (加藤正清)

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Biography:

Osaka Prints wrote: "Katô Masakiyo was based on the historical Katô Kiyomasa (1562-1611), a samurai who served Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The son of a blacksmith, and later a notorious persecutor of Christians, he became legendary for his ferocity in battle, gaining respect and power from his mid-twenties on, until he commanded part of the Toyotomi forces in the Korean campaigns of 1592 and 1597. He was recalled the next year following Hideyoshi’s death. Although he next allied himself with Tokugawa Ieyasu—one of Hideyoshi’s generals and the eventual founder of the hereditary dynasty of Tokugawa shoguns—he ran afoul of Ieyasu after opposing a plan to murder Hideyoshi’s son, Hideyori. Kiyomasa’s death in 1611 was suspicious, possibly the result of poisoning on orders from Ieyasu.

In kabuki, his tale takes an ominous turn when circumstances force Kiyomasa to meet with Kitabatake (a theatrical stand-in for the shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu, whose portrayal in theater or literature was banned by the shogunate). Kitabatake gives Masakiyo a poisoned cup of saké, which he drinks, knowing it will be fatal. He nevertheless manages to stay alive for months to protect his lord until he finally succumbs to the deadly brew."

The historical figure Katō Kiyomasa (加藤清正)

"Katō Kiyomasa 清正 (1562--1611). Born at Nakamura (Owari) he was called Toranosuke in his childhood. He lost his father when he was 3 years old. His mother being related to the mother of Hideyoshi, this latter who lived then at Nagahama (Ōmi), took upon himself to educate the boy. In 1585, he was nominated Kazue no kami; three years later when the governor of Higo, Sasa, Norimasa, had been dispossessed, Kiyomasa received in fief, half of this province with residence at Kumamoto (250,000 k.). He together with Konishi Yukinaga, commanded the van-guard of the Korean expedition (1592); his bravery and victories led the enemies to surname him Kishō-kwan (devil general). Ishida Kazushige, Konishi Yukinaga and others having proposed peace, Kiyomasa opposed the measure and was recalled to Japan by Hideyoshi. He returned to Korea when war broke out again (1597). Besieged in Urusan, by a numerous Chinese army, he offered a long and noble resistance and was at last delivered by Kobayakawa Hideaki and Mori Hidemoto. He returned to Japan after the death of Hideyoshi (1598), and sided with Ieyasu who gave him in marriage the daughter of Mizuno Tadashige whom he had brought up, and after the battle of Sekigahara, he added to his domains the other half of Higo province that had been till then the property of Konishi Yukinaga. His revenues thus rose to 520,000 k. He died in 1611, and Ieyasu was suspected of having had a hand in his death, fearing as he did that Kiyomasa might side with Hideyori. Kiyomasa was a relentless enemy of the Christian name; he is honored with the temples of the Nichiren sect, to which he belonged, under the name of Seishō-kō (Seishō is the Chinese pronunciation of Kiyomasa)."

Quoted from: Historical and Geographical Dictionary of Japan by E. Papinot, pp. 262-263.