In the age of the ancient burial mounds, ancient style burial mounds are built in the area of Jyonan Town and the Uto Peninsula, and more burial mounds were built centering keyhole-shaped mounds in the areas in Aso Valley, Kikusui Town, and Kao Town. Moreover, one of the Japan's leading Ornament Ancient Tomb Culture was developed along the Kikuchi River around the sixth - the seventh century.
Around this time, some small countries were established in Kumamoto such as Hi-no-Kuni, Aso-no-Kuni, and Amakusa-no-Kuni. Afterwards they were unified into one country called Hi-no-Kuni (Higo-no-Kuni).
Under the new government system settled in 645, the Imperial Court instituted a public office called "Kokufu" in each country and sent an official called "Kokushi" to each Kokufu as a supervisor. Thus Higo-no-Kuni was governed by one of Kokushi under the control of Dazaifu, a local government office in Fukuoka.
After the middle of the Heian era, the heyday of manors, Kumamoto had dozens of large manors owned by the clans such as Aso-no-Syo, Kanokogi-no-Syo, and Yamaga-no-Syo. By the end of the Heian era, parties of warriors gained power among these manors.
Later whole Japan was governed by the Kamakura Shogunate (the beginning of the Kamakura era), warriors extended their power as the officials of their manors.
The parties of warriors in Kumamoto included new groups transferred from the Kamakura Shogunate such as the party of Mr. Sagara (sent to Hitoyoshi) and the party of Mr. Syodai (sent to Arao), besides the local clans such as the Aso clan and the Kikuchi clan.
The Kikuchi clan gained more power in the Nanbokucho era (the 14th century) and others including the Aso, the Nawa, and the Sagara were the next powerful clans. However, when the Kikuchi clan waned in the end of the Muromachi era, three powerful Daimyo (feudal lord) such as Otomo of Bungo (Oita Pref.), Ryuzoji of Bizen (Saga Pref.), and Shimazu of Satsuma (Kagoshima Pref.) fought for political power in Higo-no-Kuni. (Kumamoto Pref.)
As the result, Kumamoto was put in under the control of Daimyo Shimazu until the subjugation of Kyusyu by General Toyotomi Hideyoshi.
After Narimasa's downfall, General Toyotomi Hideyoshi appointed both Kato Kiyomasa and Konishi Yukinaga to the feudal lords of Kumamoto. Thus Lord Kato governed Northern part and Ashikita and Lord Konishi governed Southern part of the prefecture.
Kuma was continuously governed by Lord Sagara as before, but only Amakusa area was put in unstable situation by frequent changes of the lords. As the result, the shogunate governed Amakusa area until the Meiji Restoration.
After Iwai, Kuninomiyatsuko(the local governor) of Tsukushi-province, rebelled in 527, Miyake, an area under direct imperial control, was subsequently established to become part of the national political system. During the Ritsuryo(Ancient Ordinance)period, Kumamoto was the only major state in Kyushu. Around that time, Kukuchi Castle(in Kikuka-machi and Kikuchi-city) was constructed. You will find the natural features of Kumamoto sung in "Man-yoshu" Lyrics(Collection of Myriad Leaves) in the eighth century.
|@||@Middle Ages |
Warriors Making Names for Themselves Over the Country
During the Heian period, Fourteen counties and ninety-nine villages were founded in the province of Higo. In the golden age of Shoen(private tracts of land), about ten including Aso-sho, Kanokogi-sho, and Yamaga-sho were founded, and the warrier groups of the larger Shoen started to accumulate power. Then came the era of warriors. During the Kamakura period, warriors were appointed as head of the estates, and such clans as the Asos, the Kikuchis, and the Shodais exercised their local power. Sagara, a former Shogunate vassal from Kamakura, entered Kuma district(in southern Kumamoto) and left traces of original Buddhist culture. In the Nambokucho era (durung which the imperial throne was divided into the northern and the southern courts), reflecting the state of the nation, Kyushu split into two groups who clashed with each other. Kikuchi extended his sphere of influence, then Aso, Nawa, and Sagara also wielded power. However, when Kikuchi lost its grip on power in the final stages of the Muromachi period, Otomo in Bungo(Oita), Ryuzoji in Hizen (Saga & Nagasaki), and Shimazu in Satsuma(Kagoshima) began to extend their sphere of influence, and the province of Higo was plundered by these big three daimyos, or feudal lords, during the Sengoku(Civil War) era. Thereafter, Shimazu took control of Higo until Hideyoshi Toyotomi's conquest of Kyushu.
@Early Modern Ages
When Hideyoshi Toyotomi conquered Kyushu in 1587, he appointed Narimasa Sasa as head of the province. However, after Sasa fell from power following local uprising, Kiyomasa Kato ruled the northern part of the prefecture, while Yukinaga Konishi held authority in the south, and Sagara had kept the position in Kuma. After the fall of Konishi in 1600, in the battle of Sekigahara, Kiyomasa Kato, builder of Kumamoto Castle, unified Higo. He achieved much for the region, including works of civil engineering and flood prevention. Kato was followed by Hosokawa who entered Higo in 1632, and who ruled 540 thousand "koku" of Higo until the Meiji Restoration.
Daimyo of Higo :
North : Aso (1390-1525) /Kikuchi/Hetsugi (1525-1560)/Otomo (1560-1582) /Shimazu (1582-1587)/ Katô /
Center : Aso (1390-1560)/Sagara (1560- 1582)/Shimazu (1582-1587)/Konishi
South : Aso (1390-1525)/Sagara (1525- 1582) /Shimazu (1582-1587)
The castle town of Higo was usually at Kumamoto city. During the Muromachi period, Higo was held by the Kikuchi clan, but they were dispossessed during the Sengoku period, and the province was occupied by neighboring lords, including the Shimadzu of Satsuma, until Toyotomi Hideyoshi invaded Kyushu and gave Higo to his retainers, first Sasa Narimasa and later Kato Kiyomasu.
During the Sengoku period, Higo was a major center for Christianity in Japan, and it is also the location where Musashi Miyamoto stayed at the daimyo's invitation while completing his Book of Five Rings.