|Ii family head|
|Preceded by||Ii Naochika|
|Succeeded by||Ii Naomasa|
|Died||September 12, 1582|
|Children||Ii Naomasa (adopted)|
|Relatives||Lady Tsukiyama (daughter of Ii Naohira's daughter)|
|Allegiance|| Imagawa clan|
Ii Naotora (井伊 直虎, d. 12 September 1582) was a daimyō of the Sengoku period. She was the daughter and only child of Ii Naomori, the eighteenth head of their clan. She was primarily the head of Ii clan and retainer of the Imagawa clan, because of her efforts, Ii Naotora becomes a daimyō and received the title "Female Landlord" (女地頭).
The Ii family had no male heir, so Natora's uncle Ii Naomitsu tried to betrothe Ii Naochika his son to her so that he could inherit the clan. However, Naomitsu planned to rebel against Imagawa. Unidentified Imagawa clan retainers carried a report of the plans to Imagawa, who ordered Naomitsu and his son Naochika to commit seppuku. Naomitsu died, but Naochika, who was very young, was protected by a buddhist priest named Nankei. Naochika managed to flee to Shinano. Naotora became a priestess, and was named Jiro Houshi at age of ten by Nankei.
Naomori and Yoshimoto died in the Battle of Okehazama in 1560, Imagawa clan loses power and the province goes into chaos. Naochika returned to Iinoya about ten years later after he left, he had already married another woman while in exile and could not marry Jiro Hoshi.
Naochika momentarily ruled the clan but, like his father, he planned a rebellion against Imagawa. Again, anonymous traitors carried news of the plans to Imagawa and Naochika was killed by Imagawa Ujizane in 1560. It is said that he was killed because of an anonymous report of Ono Michiyoshi. In 1563, Ii Naohira (Naotora's grandfather) and other men from Ii, were ordered to break into Hikuma Castle as proof of their loyalty to Imagawa. Otazu no kata who was wife of Iio Tsurutatsu (lord of Hikuma castle) invited Naohira to a meeting with her husband and planned to eradicate it to claim prominence in Totomi. In September 18, Otazu no Kata then poisoned Naohira's tea and he died soon after. Following Naohira's death and many obstacles, Jiro Hoshi returned to secular life, removed her nun costume, was baptized by the male name Naotora and became the nominal head of the Ii clan.
She adopted Naochika's daughter and son, Takase and Ii Naomasa. Naotora secured Naomasa's future successful career when he succeeds her.
During the early days of her reign, Naotora often tried to mediate with Imagawa Ujizane and his grandmother Jukei-ni, at which time the Imagawa clan was on warpath with Ii clan. Former Imagawa clan retainer Tokugawa Ieyasu went to war with Ujizane. Ieyasu was successful in forming an alliance with Oda Nobunaga after Yoshimoto's death in 1560. Ieyasu's wife was Lady Tsukiyama, who was from the Imagawa family and related to Naotora.
In 1564 Niino Chikanori, a retainer of Ii clan, led a siege to Hikuma castle to prove Naotora's loyalty to Imagawa Ujizane, Otazu and Tsurutatsu fought to defend the castle and Chikanori was killed. Naotora was presumed to have difficulty securing clan leadership because of the innumerable resistances from the Imagawa clan retainers, so she anonymously seeks support from other clans. After numerous threats from Imagawa retainers to Ii, Naotora finally allies with Ieyasu and actively participates in the achievements of the Matsudaira clan in Totomi and Mikawa Province.
Naotora's actions were the most important moment for her clan. She achieves Ii clan independence after more than two centuries serving the Imagawa. Often Naotora is portrayed as an "unconventional lord" because of her numerous strategies and unusual attempts to protect and thrive her domain and people. It is recorded that Naotora, being a former nun, often acted to avoid battles, earning the respect of many civilians. She actively participated in the success of Ieyasu's career that would later become the first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate.
In 1568, Jukei-ni dies and the Imagawa enter a major crisis again and a year later Ujizane surrender to the Ieyasu's Matsudaira clan. Ieyasu led a siege to Hikuma castle and capture it from Otazu no kata. Naotora is said to have participated actively in this battle to avenge her grandfather's death, but it is probably a tale from the Edo period. At the same year, Ono Michiyoshi who was Naotora's ally, removes her from Iinoya's leadership with the help of Imagawa clan retainers. She escapes to Ryōtan-ji Temple in Hamamatsu. During her days in Hamamatsu, Naotora gets Ieyasu's help and recaptures Iinoya castle. Michiyoshi was executed and his head was disgraced in public.
In 1572, Takeda Shingen personally invades Iinoya and other castles in Totomi and Mikawa. The Battle of Mikatagahara took place near Naotora's domain. After days of resistance, Naotora surrenders Iinoya castle to the enemy to prevent bloodshed. In 1573, Shingen gets sick and dies in Naotora's domain. The Takeda clan army retreats from Iinoya and Naotora returns to being a Daimyo. In 1582, she died of disease and was buried in the Ryōtan-ji temple. Naochika's son, the famed Ii Naomasa whom she adopted, succeeded her after her demise.
In popular culture
- Ko Shibasaki portrayed her in the 2017 NHK Taiga drama Onna Jōshu Naotora (おんな城主 直虎).
- Ii Naotora appears in the Capcom video games Sengoku Basara 4 and Sengoku Basara: Sanada Yukimura-Den, voiced by Maaya Sakamoto.
- She appears in the Koei Tecmo video games Samurai Warriors 4, Warriors Orochi 4, Dead or Alive 5 Last Round and Warriors All-Stars, voiced by Yuka Saitō.
- Ii Naotora is featured in episode 27 of Meow Meow Japanese History.
- 森下佳子 (2016). おんな城主 直虎 前編 (NHK大河ドラマ・ストーリー). NHK出版. p. 16.
- "井伊直虎（次郎法師）｜井伊家の歴史｜遠州の古刹 龍潭寺". www.ryotanji.com. Retrieved 2019-05-06.
- 梓澤要 (2016-08-25). 城主になった女井伊直虎 (in Japanese). NHK出版. ISBN 9784140817070.
- 夏目琢史 (October 2016). 井伊直虎: 女領主・山の民・悪党 (in Japanese). 講談社. ISBN 9784062883948.
- 基樹, 黒田 (2017-05-26). 井伊直虎の真実 (in Japanese). Kadokawa / 角川学芸出版.
- 石田雅彦 (August 2016). おんな城主井伊直虎: その謎と魅力 (in Japanese). アスペクト. ISBN 9784757224704.