Shimazu Motohisa was one of two seventh heads of the Shimazu clan, along with his first cousin Shimazu Korehisa. Motohisa was lord of Ôsumi province, and head of the Ôshû branch of the clan, while Korehisa ruled Satsuma province, and was head of the Sôshû branch. The Shimazu fortress of Shimizu castle (in 1387), and the Shimazu clan graveyard at Fukushô-ji (in 1394) were established under Motohisa's rule.
Motohisa was the son of Shimazu Ujihisa, sixth head of the clan, and fought alongside Ujihisa in the battles of the Nanbokuchô period, against Imagawa Ryôshun and others. He became head of the clan himself following his father's death on 1387/int.5/4.
He invited the Zen priest Sekioku Shinryô to Kagoshima in 1394 to establish a bodaiji (clan temple) for the Shimazu; this marked the origin of Fukushô-ji. Motohisa's father Ujihisa and uncle Morohisa, along with Motohisa himself, were the first heads of the Shimazu clan to be buried there. All future heads of the clan, along with many of their most immediate relatives, were buried there from then on, and though the temple no longer survives, the graveyard continues to be maintained.
When Shimazu Korehisa of the Sôshû branch had a falling out with his son Shimazu Morihisa in 1393, Motohisa played a central role in effecting their reconciliation. For this, Korehisa rewarded Motohisa by naming him his heir. Motohisa married into the Sôshû branch, and adopted Korehisa's son Shimazu Hisateru as his own. In 1400, however, Motohisa severed ties with both, and armed conflict ensued. This ended with Motohisa eventually defeating his Sôshû rivals, and reuniting the three Shimazu provinces (Ôsumi, Satsuma, and Hyûga) under his, i.e. Ôshû family, control.
Motohisa was active in pursuing overseas trade, and when he was received in audience by Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimochi in 1410, he reportedly surprised the shogun's court with gifts of numerous karamono (Chinese goods, likely chiefly porcelains).
|Head of Shimazu clan & jitô-shugo of Satsuma province
- Gallery labels, Shôkoshûseikan, Kagoshima.; Plaques on-site at Fukushô-ji.