Tokugawa Mitsukuni

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Tokugawa Mitsukuni
Tokugawa Mitsukuni.jpg
Born(1628-07-11)11 July 1628
Died14 January 1701(1701-01-14) (aged 72)

Tokugawa Mitsukuni(徳川 光圀, 11 July 1628 14 January 1701) or Mito Kōmon(水戸黄門) was a prominent daimyō who was known for his influence in the politics of the early Edo period. He was the third son of Tokugawa Yorifusa (who in turn was the eleventh son of Tokugawa Ieyasu) and succeeded him, becoming the second daimyō of the Mito Domain. [1]

<i>Daimyō</i> powerful territorial lord in pre-modern Japan

The daimyō were powerful Japanese feudal lords who, until their decline in the early Meiji period, ruled most of Japan from their vast, hereditary land holdings. In the term, dai (大) means "large", and myō stands for myōden(名田), meaning private land.

Edo period period of Japanese history

The Edo period or Tokugawa period (徳川時代) is the period between 1603 and 1868 in the history of Japan, when Japanese society was under the rule of the Tokugawa shogunate and the country's 300 regional daimyō. The period was characterized by economic growth, strict social order, isolationist foreign policies, a stable population, "no more wars", and popular enjoyment of arts and culture. The shogunate was officially established in Edo on March 24, 1603, by Tokugawa Ieyasu. The period came to an end with the Meiji Restoration on May 3, 1868, after the fall of Edo.

Tokugawa Yorifusa daimyo of the ealy Edo period; 1st lord of Mito, founder of Mito branch

Tokugawa Yorifusa, also known as Mito Yorifusa, was a Japanese daimyō of the early Edo period.



He was responsible for assembling the Mitogaku scholars to compile a huge Japanese history, Dai Nihonshi . [2] In it, Japan was depicted as a nation under the Emperor, analogous to that in Chinese dynasties. This helped the rise of nationalism in the late shogunate and in the Mito Domain later. His childhood name was Chomaru (長丸) later become Chiyomatsu (千代松) this name was personally granted by his cousin and the shōgun, Tokugawa Iemitsu.

Mitogaku (水戸学) refers to a school of Japanese historical and Shinto studies that arose in the Mito Domain.

The Dai Nihonshi (大日本史), literally Great History of Japan, is a book on the history of Japan. It was begun in the 17th century, during the Edo period, by Tokugawa Mitsukuni, the head of the Mito branch of the Tokugawa family. After his death, work was continued by the Mito branch until its completion in the Meiji era. The work starts with Emperor Jimmu, the legendary first emperor of Japan, during the early Kofun period, and covers the first hundred emperors, ending with Emperor Go-Komatsu after the merging of the Southern and Northern Court in 1392. The whole work comprises 397 scrolls in 226 volumes, and 5 scrolls of index.

Emperor of Japan Head of state of Japan

The Emperor of Japan is the head of the Imperial Family and the head of state of Japan. Under the 1947 constitution, he is defined as "the symbol of the State and of the unity of the people." Historically, he was also the highest authority of the Shinto religion. In Japanese, the emperor is called Tennō (天皇), literally "heavenly sovereign". In English, the use of the term Mikado for the emperor was once common, but is now considered obsolete.

In 1661, at age 34, he became the daimyō of the Mito han. [3] He anticipated the forcible division of kami and Buddhas ( shinbutsu bunri ) of 1868 ordering there the destruction of a thousand Buddhist temples and the construction of at least one shrine per village (one village, one shrine policy(一村一社,isson issha). [4] At age 63, he was awarded the court office of gon-chūnagon, or provisional middle counsellor. In 1691, he retired to his villa, Seizan-sō.

<i>Kami</i> Divine being in Shinto

Kami are the spirits or phenomena that are worshipped in the religion of Shinto. They can be elements of the landscape, forces of nature, as well as beings and the qualities that these beings express; they can also be the spirits of venerated dead persons. Many kami are considered the ancient ancestors of entire clans. Traditionally, great or sensational leaders like the Emperor could be or became kami.

Shinbutsu bunri

The Japanese term shinbutsu bunri (神仏分離) indicates the separation of Shinto from Buddhism, introduced after the Meiji Restoration which separated Shinto kami from buddhas, and also Buddhist temples from Shinto shrines, which were originally amalgamated. It is a yojijukugo phrase.

Chūnagon counselor of the second rank in the Imperial court of Japan

Chūnagon (中納言) was a counselor of the second rank in the Imperial court of Japan. The role dates from the 7th century.

He directed at Zuisen-ji the creation of the very first guide to Kamakura, the Shinpen Kamakurashi. The book would have a profound influence on the city in the following centuries, an influence which continues to this day in names for parts of the city like Kamakura's Seven Mouths, Kamakura's Ten Bridges, and other such popular monikers he coined.

Zuisen-ji building in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan

Kinbyōzan Zuisen-ji (錦屏山瑞泉寺) is a Buddhist temple of the Rinzai sect in Nikaidō's Momijigayatsu Valley in Kamakura, Japan. During the Muromachi period it was the family temple of the Ashikaga rulers of Kamakura : four of the five kubō are buried there in a private cemetery closed to the public and first kubō Ashikaga Motouji's is also known by the name Zuisen-ji-den (瑞泉寺殿). Designed by prominent Zen religious figure, poet and Zen garden designer Musō Soseki, the temple lies on top of an isolated hill and is famous for both its garden and its Zen rock garden. The beauty and the quantity of its plants have gained it since antiquity the nickname "Temple of Flowers" (花の寺). The main object of worship is Jizō Bosatsu. Zuisen-ji is an Historic Site and contains numerous objects classified as Important Cultural Properties and Places of Scenic Beauty.

Shinpen Kamakurashi

The Shinpen Kamakurashi is an Edo period compendium of topographic, geographic and demographic data concerning the city of Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan, and its vicinities. Consisting of eight volumes and commissioned in 1685 by Tokugawa Mitsukuni to three vassals, it contains for example information about "Kamakura's Seven Entrances", "Kamakura's Ten Bridges" and "Kamakura's Ten Wells". It includes illustrations, maps, and information about temples, ruins and place names etymologies not only about Kamakura, but also about Enoshima, Shichirigahama, Hayama and Kanazawa. The book created and popularized many of these "numbered" names, which were picked up by many subsequent tourist guides and became part of Kamakura's image. Each volume contains a day's worth of walking and is a real and effective guide to sightseeing. This makes the book a precious source of information to historians.

In 1657 ( Meireki 3) at the age of 27, he married a daughter of the kampaku Konoe Nobuhiro. [5] He was also known as a gourmet of the Edo period. He is claimed to be one of the first Japanese to eat ramen as well as routinely enjoying such exotic food as wine and yogurt. Mitsukuni had one son, who took the Matsudaira surname. Additionally, Mitsukuni adopted the son of an elder brother; this adopted son, Tokugawa Tsunaeda, became his heir.

Meireki Japanese era

Meireki (明暦) was a Japanese era name of the Edo period, after the Jōō era and before Manji era. This era's period spanned the years from April 1655 to July 1658.

East Asian age reckoning

East Asian age reckoning originated in China and continues in limited use there and in Japan, but is still common in Korea. People are born at the age of one, i.e. the first year of lifetime using ordinal number, and on Chinese New Year or New Year's Day one year is added to their age. Since age is incremented at the beginning of the lunar or solar year, rather than on the anniversary of a birthday, people may be one or two years older in Asian reckoning than in the international age system.

Konoe Nobuhiro, Ōzan (応山) as a monk, was a kugyō or Japanese court noble of the Edo period (1603–1868). He was born the fourth son of Emperor Go-Yōzei. His mother was Empress Dowager Chūka, or Konoe Sakiko by birth. Nobuhiro was adopted by Konoe Nobutada, his maternal uncle, as Nobutada had no legitimate heir.

He died at his villa in 1701. He posthumously received the court rank of junior first rank (1869) and first rank (1900). [6] He is now considered to be a kami. [4]


Mito Kōmon

Actor Kotaro Satomi as Tokugawa Mitsukuni in the jidaigeki "Mito Komon". MitoKomonSatomiKotaro.jpg
Actor Kōtarō Satomi as Tokugawa Mitsukuni in the jidaigeki "Mito Kōmon".

During the latter half of the Edo period and the Meiji period, a kōdan (narrative tale) named "Mito Mitsukuni Man'yūki" fictionalized the travels of Tokugawa Mitsukuni. This tradition of dramatizing his life continued with a novel and, in 1951, the first television series to portray him as a wanderer, masquerading as a commoner, who castigated the evil powers in every corner of the nation. From 1969 to 2011, the TBS ran the series Mito Kōmon , which continues to attract audiences in reruns. Episodes were re-broadcast in the early 1990s by WNYE-TV (New York City) under the title The Elder Lord of Mito.[ citation needed ]

Each summer, the city of Mito hosts the Mito Komon festival, which prominently features the Tokugawa seal, as well as actors representing Tokugawa Mitsukuni and his assistants.[ citation needed ]


  1. Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1962). Sovereign and Subject, p. 248.
  2. "Tokugawa Mitsukuni". Kokugakuin University via the Encyclopedia of Shinto. 15 April 2006. Retrieved 1 October 2010.
  3. Ponsonby-Fane, p. 250.
  4. 1 2 Bocking, Brian (1997). A Popular Dictionary of Shinto - Tokugawa Mitsukuni. Routledge. ISBN   978-0-7007-1051-5.
  5. Ponsonby-Fane, p. 249.
  6. Ponsonby-Fane, pp. 251–252.

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Preceded by
Tokugawa Yorifusa
Daimyō of Mito
Succeeded by
Tokugawa Tsunaeda