The history of the Muroga family can be traced back to their time of
samurai service to the Kamakura regime during the early 13th century when
Jiro Hayashi was dispatched to settle the area that became known as Muroga-Mura.
During 1247-49, Shiota Castle was built east of Bessho Onsen, strategically
placed so that Kamakura defenders could repel enemies approaching along
river Chikumagawa from the west.
After the Kamakura government fell in 1333, the Muroga family entered
the service of the Murakamis, local warlords to whom the Murogas were
related by marriage. However, in the mid-16th century when Japan
was in the midst of a long period of civil war, the Murakamis, then under
the leadership of Yoshikiyo Murakami ,were expelled from the region by
the Takedas, who were rapidly expanding their control over surrounding
territory from their base in the Yamanashi region to the southeast.
The Murakamis retreated northward to the Niigata area, where they sought
the military assistance of the powerful warlord Kenshin Uesugi.
Meanwhile, the Murogas, under the leadership of Nobutoshi Muroga,
surrendered to Shingen Takeda. The Murogas withdrew their support
from the Murakamis, and became vassals of the Takedas, who did not themselves
settle in the Nagano area.
Beginning in 1553 and lasting until 1561, a famous series of twelve
battles between Uesugi forces and Takeda forces known as Kawanakajima
No Tatakai took place on the plain of Kawanakajima about 4 km south of
Nagano City where the Saigawa and Chikumagawa rivers join. During
these battles, these two great military forces employed brilliant military
strategies. Because of their superior fighting skills, the Murogas
fought at the forefront of the Takeda forces, advancing through Muroga
Pass to invade Kawanakajima from the south.
Nobutoshi was a brilliant samurai who gained the strong trust of Shingen
Takeda and engaged in major battles for him. After Shingen's death,
Nobutoshi Muroga served Shingen's son, Katsuyori Takeda.
Nobutoshi Muroga was fighting for the Takedas against the forces of Nobunaga
Oda during the famous battle of Nagashino in 1575. During this battle,
Oda's forces used guns to attack Nagashino Castle and decisively defeated
the Takedas. This battle is considered to represent the first significant
usage of firearms in Japanese warfare. Akira Kurosawa's well-known
film Kagemusha is based on the battle of Nagashino.
After the Takeda clan was finally destroyed in 1582, Muroga families
dispersed to different parts of Japan and entered the service of different
warlords. Some Murogas had previously served an important relative
of the Tokugawa shoguns in Nagoya, and the largest number of Muroga families
settled in the Nagoya area.
The Tokugawa shoguns came to power in 1600, at first under the leadership
of Ieyasu Tokugawa. Nobutoshi Muroga was hired to serve Ieyasu Tokugawa.
During the Tokugawa shogunate, some Muroga families served directly under
Tokugawa shoguns, holding high positions such as bodyguard to the shogun.
Others served Tokugawa relatives or subjects.
The Sakais were important subjects of the Tokugawa regime, and some
Muroga families became vassals of the Sakai clan. Around 1600, at
the very beginning of the Tokugawa era, the Sakai clan moved from the
Gunma region to Himeji in the Hyogo region. Although the Sakais
were primarily a political family, Kanpachi Muroga, who served them, was
a renowned master of the martial art of the spear.
As Muroga ancestors had faithfully served another relative of the Tokugawa
shoguns in Komoro, some Muroga families went to work for the Makino warlords
of Komoro Castle in Komoro City to the east of Muroga-mura. Historic maps
of Komoro Castle from around the year 1890 show the homes of Taro Muroga
and Kinzaburo Muroga among the rows of samurai homes lying outside of
the main castle.
And some Muroga families were hired by the Sanadas, defenders of Ueda
Castle, located near Muroga-mura. The Sanadas had served the Toyotomis,
who were finally destroyed by Ieyasu Tokugawa at Osaka Castle in 1615.
The Murogas fighting for the Sanada family in that battle were killed
in the ensuing castle fire.
Masatomo Muroga, a descendent of Nobutoshi Muroga, went to Sado Island,
a large island in the Japan Sea off the northern coast of present-day
Niigata Prefecture and served as governor of the Sado gold mine directly
owned by the Tokugawa government from 1789-1793. In striving to
increase the output of gold, Masatomo worked hard to overcome the problem
of constant flooding of this deep mine such that it continually had to
be bailed out.
Another Muroga ancestor became overseer for the construction of Zojo-ji
Temple in Shiba in downtown Tokyo. Generations of Tokugawas were
buried in the funerary grounds of this temple.
BRANCHES OF THE MUROGA FAMILY
The Murogas of Hyogo
Kunitake Muroga and his son, Ko Muroga, who are probably
descended from those Muroga families who went to Hyogo to serve the Sakai
clan after they left the service of the Takeda family, both achieved great
success in industry.
Kunitake was well known as an ingenious businessman. He led the
conversion of Shikishima Bouseki from a minor cotton-thread manufacturer
into one of the four giants of that industry prior to World War II.
Ko served as president of NEC America during the 1980s.
The Murogas of Komoro
Chozan Muroga (1802-1883)
Great-grandfather of Saburo Muroga.
Chozan Muroga was originally a member of the Matsui family, who lived
Utsunomiya in Tochigi Prefecture. Chozan became a Muroga when he
was adopted by Gunzo Muroga, who worked in the service of the Makino family.
Chozan married Takiko Akashi in Fukui Prefecture. In 1877, Chozan
moved to Numazu in present-day Shizuoka Prefecture. While some parts
of Shizuoka were locally governed, at that time Numazu was under the direct
rule of the Tokugawa regime.
Chozan died in Numazu in 1884 at the age of 81. Chozan and Takiko had
eight sons and one daughter; from eldest to youngest as follows:
Sadatada Muroga (1835-1896)
Eldest son and grandfather of Saburo Muroga.
Sadatada was originally named Mikitaro, but his name was changed to
Sadatada. Sadatada was extremely skilled at kendo (traditional
Japanese fencing). In order to develop his talent, he was sent
to study at Genbukan in Tokyo, which was the famous kendo school of
Shusaku Chiba, who was the most famous master of kendo of the time.
Genbukan, with 3000 students, was the most popular school of kendo,
and the best kendo students of Japan studied there. Ryuma Sakamoto,
a hero of the Meiji Revolution, was a classmate of Sadatada at Genbukan.
While studying kendo, Sadatada kept an official residence in Tokyo and
held the official position of costume manager for Yasumasa Makino. Yasumasa
was the warlord of the Komoro region, but he resided in Tokyo.
As Sadatada trained to become a kendo master, he did not have much opportunity
to develop his administrative abilities. Still, when the Tokugawa
government collapsed in 1868, Sadatada returned to Komoro to become
the manager for the Makino family. Under the new Meiji rule, life
for the samurai changed dramatically. All of the warlords became
noble families of Japan, and their employees, mainly samurais, lost
their traditional employment.
served the Makino family at Komoro Castle faithfully during this difficult
transition until it was complete. He was known as a man who gained
people's trust based on his good heart and honest character. His
kindness, reliability, and commitment to those in his care were fondly
remembered by castle staff whom his grandson Saburo Muroga met when
he visited the castle in 1983.
When Sadatada lost his position as a samurai, he was forced to leave
the family home in Nakadana-machi, Komoro City, where he and his ancestors
had lived for generations. He bought a farmer's house that had
only two rooms, and tried to secure employment during this time when
it was extremely difficult for displaced members of the samurai class
to find occupations. Finally, he took up a job as clerk
for the Komoro City government. He rented one room of the small
house to a maker of tabi (traditional fitted socks).
This house was still standing and in good condition in 1983,
when Saburo Muroga visited it. It happened that the famous poet
and novelist of Nagano Prefecture, Toson Shimazaki, had bought the house
and lived in it, so this unpretentious farmhouse became valued because
of its connection to the literary heritage of Japan, and Nagano Prefecture
in particular. Toson's novel The Family, which is largely
an account of the author's own life, poignantly depicts how an ordinary
family from the rural mountainous part of Nagano lived during the early
However, Komoro City did not want to maintain the house, so it was moved
to the courtyard of Teisho-ji temple in Saku City, about six miles south
of Komoro Castle. A small model of the house is displayed in the
Toson Museum located on the grounds of Komoro Castle.
Sadatada married Nobu Yamada, who was his niece and the eldest daughter
of Yoshinori Yamada, an employee of the Kobama-han clan of Fukui Prefecture,
and they had six children.
Sadatada died in 1896 at the age of 60 in the Makino family home in Tokyo.
Nobu died in 1919 at the age of 73 in Numazu.
The second son. The name of his wife is not known.
The third son. Wife Kei.
The fourth son. Wife Tori.
The only daughter, who died young.
The fifth son. The name of his wife is not known.
The sixth son. Wife Makiko.
Rokuro was lame, but apparently he was very bright. He was one of
seven students in the first class of the medical school of the University
of Tokyo. Ogai Mori, a well known novelist of the Meiji period,
was his classmate. Right after his graduation in 1877, Rokuro was
appointed head of Sunto Hospital in Numazu City, Shizuoka Prefecture,
one of the small number of regional hospitals that had been established
by the Japanese government. Rokuro's starting salary was 120 yen
per month, an extremely high salary for that time. Such a responsible
position, and such a salary for a young, newly graduated doctor, highlights
the value that was placed on Japanese doctors who had studied western
medicine at that time.
After some years, Rokuro left Sunto Hospital to found his own hospital
in Numazu. He named it Muroga Byoin (Muroga Hospital). He
then married Makiko. He hired his nephew, Teiji Muroga, the father
of Saburo Muroga, to work at the hospital after Teiji left the Japanese
Army. Another nephew, Sukeyata Muroga, came to live with Rokuro
when he was a young boy.
The seventh son, who died young.
The eighth son, who died young.
The Family of Sadatada Muroga
Sadatada Muroga (1835-1896)
Eldest son of Chozan Muroga, grandfather of Saburo Muroga.
Sadatada Muroga and his wife Nobu had four sons and two daughters; from
eldest to youngest as follows:
Masu Sejimo (1861-1946)
The eldest daughter. Masu married Kumanosuke Sejimo, a
former samurai of Tatsuoka-han stationed at Taguchi-mura, Minami-saku-gun,
Nagano Prefecture. Masu died in 1946 at the age of 85.
The second daughter. Sayo married Takejiro Komiyama of
Komoro City, Nagano Prefecture. She died at the age of 70.
Sukeyata Muroga (1867-1918)
The eldest son. Sukeyata moved to Numazu in 1879 to live
with his uncle, Rokuro Muroga. Sukeyata studied pharmacy at the
Tokyo Pharmacy School in Tokyo, and after his graduation he became a pharmacy
assistant at the Chiba School.
Later, Sukeyata returned to Numazu where he opened his own pharmacy, which
he named Muroga Pharmacy. This pharmacy was very successful.
Unfortunately, Sukeyata was of delicate health and passed away at the
age of 51 in 1918.
The second son. Takejiro owned a retail store in Tokyo
that sold automobile accessories. Because of the economic and other
hardships experienced by Japan during World War II, at the end of the
war he was forced to close the store.
Sadamichi Muroga (1872-1920)
The third son. Sadamichi was raised by his uncle, Mitsuteru
Samoto, who was a county governor (guncho) in Hokkaido. He died
in Kumagaya in Saitama Prefecture at the age of 48 in 1920.
Teiji Muroga (1875-1953)
The fourth son and father of Saburo Muroga. Teiji was born
January 19, 1875 in Nakadana-machi in Komoro City. His father, Sadatada,
was struggling to make a living after he became unemployed as a samurai
retainer of the Makino family at Komoro Castle. He asked his younger
brothers, Mitsuteru Samoto and Rokuro Muroga to take care of his three
eldest sons; and he asked Yasumasa Makino, the former warlord under whom
he served, to care for his second daughter. His eldest daughter
had already joined the household of her husband. So at last only
the youngest child, Teiji, was left at home to be raised by his parents.
Teiji graduated from grade school, and then attended post-grade school,
a two-year extension of grade school education. Teiji excelled in
mathematics, however, he did not have the chance to immediately continue
on to higher education.
Instead, at the age of 16 he was recommended to become a substitute
teacher for a grade school at the salary of 3 yen per month. The
following year, he took up a post as a regular grade school teacher for
the salary of 4.5 yen per month. However, this career did not suit
Teiji and he resigned after half a year in order to resume his studies.
In particular, he wanted to prepare to enter Rikugun Shikan Gakko, the
Japanese Army officer training school. This school was very difficult
to get admitted to, but once students were admitted, they could attend
the school tuition-free.
To prepare for Rikugun Shikan Gakko, Teiji entered the preparatory school
Seijo Gakko in 1891 at the age of 18, using up all of his savings.
At Seijo Gakko, Teiji studied hard, sleeping at most only 5 hours per
night. But despite his commitment and serious effort, Teiji failed
the entrance examination to enter the officer's school the following year.
His money gone and his goal unfulfilled, Teiji returned to Komoro City
determined to continue studying and pass the examination the next time.
In Komoro City, Teiji began working for a shoyu (soysauce) brewery in
order to build up savings. His father, Sadatada, was then employed
as the manager for a silk thread manufacturing company, but when he received
an offer to become the manager for the Makino family, then living in Tokyo,
and he took up this position. This made it easier for Teiji to resume
his studies at Seijo Gakko, as he and his parents took up residence at
the Makino family home. Finally, Teiji was admitted to Rikugun Shikan
Gakko, and he graduated as a member of the school's 10th class.
In 1905, Teiji married Ken Abe, a young woman 10 years his junior.
Ken's father was the station master of a government railroad station in
Numazu, and they had eight children, two of whom died young.
Teiji served the Japanese Army in China during the Sino-Japanese War (1894-5),
and in Manchuria during the Russo-Japanese War (1904-5). During
this war, Teiji was wounded during the great battle between Japanese forces
and the Russian Army at Mukuden in 1905.
In 1917, at the age of 41, Teiji retired from the Japanese Army at the
rank of major. He then went to Numazu to work as the business manager
of Muroga Hospital, the hospital founded by his uncle, Rokuro Muroga.
Teiji died at the age of 78 in 1953. During his lifetime, he experienced
severe hardship and poverty twice; first when he was young, at the time
of the transition from the Tokugawa period to the Meiji period when members
of the samurai class lost their social status and means of livelihood,
and second when he was old, at the time of World War II and the defeat
The Family of Teiji Muroga
Teiji Muroga (1875-1953)
The fourth son and father of Saburo Muroga. Teiji and Ken
had eight children, two of whom died young. The other six, from
eldest to youngest are as follows.
Yukiko Suzuki (1908-1990)
The eldest daughter. Yukiko was born March 22, 1908.
She married a landowner of a village near Numazu City. She died
on August 9, 1990.
Toshiko Watanabe (1913-1947)
The second daughter. Toshiko was born May 5, 1913 at Tsuruga
Kushibayashi. She married a landowner of Chiba Prefecture.
She February 15, 1947 at Nittano, Azuma-mura in Isumi in Chiba Prefecture.
Sadanobu Muroga (1916-1994)
The eldest son. Sadanobu was born March 31, 1916 at Tsurugu
Mishima. After graduating from the School of Political Science and
Economics at Waseda University, he joined the think-tank of Manchuria
Railway. At the end of World War II, he returned to Waseda University
where he taught as an instructor in the School of Political Science and
Later, he left the university for industry, taking up executive positions
at Nihon Joshidai and some small insurance companies. He died October
5, 1994 in Tokyo.
The third daughter. She died young, when she was about
Saburo Muroga (1925-)
The third son.
Takeo Muroga (1928-1989)
The fourth son. Takeo graduated from Butsurigakko (now
Tokyo Rika Daigaku). He joined Japan IBM. He died in 1989.
The Family of Saburo Muroga
Saburo Muroga married Yoko Nakamura from Toyohashi, Aichi Prefecture,
in 1956. Yoko is skilled at Japanese calligraphy and traditional
sumi ink drawing, and she teaches these arts in community courses
in California. She is an active volunteer who
especially enjoys introducing Japanese arts to many people.
Saburo and Yoko have two sons and two daughters, from eldest to youngest
The eldest son. Eisuke is a University of Illinois graduate
of the Department of Computer Science (PhD '90). He is
working in California.
The eldest daughter. Husband, Guy Morrow. Two children.
Edith is a homemaker living in California.
The second son. Wife, Julie Challis from England.
Kenji is an accountant, living in London.
The second daughter. Lisa is
working in California.