Hiromatsu In ‘Shogun’: Did He Commit Seppuku In Real-Life? Did He Kill Himself?


Episode 8 of Shogun was about loyalty. As evident, loyalty, like love, is a subjective term, and every man’s actions give it a different meaning. The episode made it clear that for most short-sighted and predictable chickens, loyalty to their master comes last, and their own lives are much more precious than anyone else’s. But Hiromatsu was different. He was not only a general in Toranaga’s army but also his most loyal friend, who stood beside him through thick and thin. Hiromatsu, whose character is based on real-life Japanese samurai Hosokawa Fujitaka, served both Toyotomi Hideyoshi (or Taiko in the series) and Tokugawa Ieyasu (fictionally known as Toranaga).

Spoiler Alert

As per the historical records, it is true that Buntaro (or the real-life Hosokawa Tadaoki) was Hiromatsu’s son, and Mariko (Gracia in real life) was his daughter-in-law. However, there is little evidence to suggest the fate of his first son and Fuji’s husband, Tadayoshi. So basically, much of the family history that inspired Hiromatsu’s character is true except for his actions and death, which have been dramatized for creative purposes by the makers of Shogun. As per history, Hiromatsu died on October 6, 1610. He was 76 years old at that time. This means that he survived the Battle of Sekigahara, that brought back the rule of the shogunate in Japan and made Toranaga the leader of the land. After Gracia’s death in the battle, Hiromatsu and his son, Buntaro, helped Toranaga defeat Ishido and put an end to his treacherous schemes. In short, he didn’t die before the fall of Osaka Castle and evidently didn’t commit seppuku or go against Toranaga’s orders. So why did we see such a drastic change in the series?

To understand Hiromatsu’s grand show of loyalty, we might have to go back in time to understand his motives clearly. If one remembers, it was Hiromatsu who brought up the idea of Crimson Sky, as he knew it was the only option left to defeat Ishido and his Regents. So, it wouldn’t be wrong to suggest that Hiromatsu and Toranaga already had an understanding of what was to come when Hiromatsu first mentioned Crimson Sky. Poetically, some blood had to be shed in the battle for the greater good of Japan, and that’s what both Hiromatsu and Toranaga believed or conspired to do. Nagakado’s accidental death came as a surprise to his father, but Toranaga thanked his dead son for buying him some time to prepare against his enemies. As the book suggests, Toranaga has a hidden army in Edo or somewhere else, which he has been secretly preparing through his intricate network of spies. But he didn’t want his enemies to know about them. To them, he wanted to present himself as a feeble old man who had lost everything in the world and didn’t have any strength left to wage war against anyone. All those coughs throughout the episode would definitely be mentioned when a messenger would arrive at Ishido’s doorstep. Hiromatsu’s death was a show that made people believe that Toranaga had actually surrendered. But the question here is: why did Hiromatsu and Toranaga go to such extremes to manipulate their enemies?

I am quite certain that Hiromatsu’s seppuku wasn’t only to fool Ishido. He wasn’t the most intelligent lad here who could see through Toranaga’s cunning plans. Lady Ochiba, on the other hand, knew Toranaga inside and out. Maybe she knew him too well—basically more than anyone in this world. She had once been his lover, and who would know a person better than one’s romantic partner? Toranaga and Hiromatsu created the entire narrative for Lady Ochiba just to make her believe that Toranaga was definitely broken this time. However, Toranaga wouldn’t be able to attack Osaka as long as Lady Ochiba kept the family members of other samurai as hostages in the castle. Toranaga knew that Yabushige and John would betray him or leave his side the moment they got a chance, and that was the reason why he didn’t interfere. He let them go, but in the end, all of a sudden, he sent Mariko to their ship. Toranaga had designed another strategy, and it was Mariko’s turn to prove her loyalty to her lord. As per the books, Mariko would play an important role in releasing the hostages from Ochiba’s grasp. In the show, the two women were once friends and had known each other for a long time. But they haven’t been in touch because Mariko’s dad was the one who killed Lady Ochiba’s father. Most likely, in the ninth episode of Shogun, we would see a clash between these two powerful women playing on opposite sides. Who would win? We already know. But how? That’s what we have to find out.

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Shikhar Agrawal
Shikhar Agrawal
I am an Onstage Dramatist and a Screenwriter. I have been working in the Indian Film Industry for the past 12 years, writing dialogues for various films and television shows.

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