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LastUpDate: August 7, 2014
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Hakata Culture vol.90


The Twenty-four Horsemen of Kuroda


The Twenty-four Horsemen of Kuroda image

Kanbei Kuroda and his son Nagamasa founded the Fukuoka Domain, but they encountered many difficulties along the road to daimyohood. All the while, the Kurodas, who were originally high-ranking samurai in Himeji, Harima Province (now Hyogo Prefecture), were served by a group of loyal vassals known as the Twenty-four Horsemen of Kuroda (Kuroda Nijūyonki). This elite group was renowned for acts of bravery in war.


The eight vassals with the most impressive achievements were dubbed the Eight Tigers of Kuroda (Kuroda Hakko). The most famous of these loyal retainers was Tahei (aka Tomonobu) Mori, who is sung about in the Kuroda-bushi folk song. He was renowned for his adept spearmanship and high tolerance for alcohol. As the story goes, Tahei won the famed Nihon-go spear after drinking down a large cup of sake on a challenge from Masanori Fukushima, one of Hideyoshi Toyotomi's retainers.


One of Kanbei's closest vassals was Toshiyasu Kuriyama, who later became the chief retainer of the Kuroda Clan. Kuriyama had served Kanbei ever since their days in Harima and even rescued him from a rival clan's castle dungeon. He was also the brother-in-law of―and quiet, level-headed counterpart to―the quick-tempered Tahei.


Another famous retainer was Yukifusa Inoue, who served four generations of Kuroda's starting with Kanbei's father Mototaka. After coming o Fukuoka, he was tasked with protecting the border with Buzen Province (which was ruled by the Hosokawa clan) as the lord of Kurosaki Castle. Mototsugu (aka Matabei) Goto, who was raised by Kanbei, was another one of the Kuroda's heroic warriors. With spear skills on par with Tahei's, he earned the nickname "Matabei of the Spear".


The Fukuoka City Museum has more than 20 scrolls depicting the Twenty-four Horsemen of Kuroda, all of which give a strong impression of the group’s solidarity.



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黒田家を支えた「黒田二十四騎」

 福岡藩の基礎を築いた黒田官兵衛と長政。播磨国姫路の家老職だった黒田家が、日本有数の福岡藩の藩主となるまでには、さまざまな困難がありました。そんな2人を支えたのが「黒田二十四騎」と呼ばれる家臣たち。主君と強い絆で結ばれ、戦場における数々の武勇で知られる黒田家家臣の精鋭たちです。

 24名の中でも、さらに優秀な功績を残した8人を選んで「黒田八虎(はっこ)」と呼ぶこともあります。家臣の中でもっとも知られているのは、黒田節にも歌われている母里太兵衛友信(ほりたへえとものぶ)でしょう。槍使いの名手で、酒にも強い豪傑でした。豊臣秀吉の家臣・福島正則から、「大杯に注がれた酒を飲み干したら望みの品をやる」といわれ、名槍「日本号」を飲み取った逸話があります。

 官兵衛の側近中の側近といえるのが、後に黒田家の筆頭家老となった栗山備後守利安(くりやまびんごのかみとしやす)。播磨時代から官兵衛に仕え、幽閉されていた官兵衛を救い出すなど、黒田家の危機を何度も救ってきました。母里太兵衛とは義兄弟の契りを交わした仲ですが、太兵衛とは対照的に控えめで寡黙な人物だったと伝わります。

 このほかにも多くの優れた家臣がいます。官兵衛の父の時代から黒田家4代にわたって仕えた古参の家臣、井上周防守之房(いのうえすおうのかみゆきふさ)。福岡に入国後は豊前細川藩との国境を守るため黒崎城の城主になりました。幼少時から官兵衛に育てられた後藤又兵衛基次(ごとうまたべえもとつぐ)は、母里太兵衛と並ぶ豪傑で「槍の又兵衛」と呼ばれていました。福岡市博物館には「黒田二十四騎」を描いた図が20点以上も収集されているそうです。いずれも黒田家家臣の強い結束を感じさせるものばかりです。