Ushiku Domain (牛久藩)

The Ushiku Domain was a feudal domain that lay in Kawachi County of Hitachi Province. The government building of the domain was located in Ushiku Jinya (Ushiku City, Ibaraki Prefecture).

History of the Domain

The Yamaguchi clan, who had ruled the Ushiku Domain for twelve generations, was allegedly descended from the distinguished Ouchi clan, arguably the strongest specimen of Saigoku Daimyo (Japanese territorial lords in western Japan) of the Sengoku period (period of warring states). The earliest ancestor of the clan is said to be Mochimori OUCHI, the second son of Yoshihiro OUCHI, who rebelled against the third Muromachi shogun, Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA, in the Oei War. He called himself Yamaguchi, named after the region Yamaguchi of Suo Province, Ouchi clan's base. The founder of the Ushiku Domain, Shigemasa YAMAGUCHI, at first worked for Nobukatsu ODA, the second son of Nobunaga ODA, and subsequently served Ieyasu TOKUGAWA. For his heroic actions in the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, Shigemasa was rewarded with Kazusa Province and Musashi Province with fiefs of 5,000 and 5,000 in rice, respectively, thus becoming a "daimyo" (feudal lord) with a fief of 10,000 koku in rice in total. Afterwards, he was also given Shimotsuke Province with a fief of 5,000 koku, and his fiefdom came to yield the total of 15,000 koku in rice. Things, however, changed on February 27, 1613 when Shigemasa was punished by being deprived of his fiefs under an order of the bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) for violating a ban on private marriages on the ground that he had not registered marriage between his legitimate child, Shigenobu YAMAGUCHI, and Tadachika OKUBO's adopted daughter at the bakufu. Shigenobu's wife in question was a daughter of Yasumichi ISHIKAWA but married to the clan as an adopted daughter of Tadachika, and incurred the wrath of Ieyasu. This Kaieki (forfeit rank of Samurai and properties) was one of the purges in the aftermath of the Okubo Nagayasu Incident, which took place in the same year. Later, Shigemasa was pardoned and again granted fiefs of 15,000 koku in rice in Hitachi Province and Totomi Province. During the reign of Hirotaka YAMAGUCHI, the second lord of the domain, fiefs were consolidated in Hitachi Province and Shimousa Province, and jinya (the headquarters) was set up in Ushiku. After Hirotaka subdivided the domain by giving a fief of 5,000 koku in rice to his brother, Shigetsune YAMAGUCHI, the total Kokudaka (yield of rice) of the Ushiku Domain equaled 10,000 koku in rice. The Ushiku Domain, under the reign of the Yamaguchi clan, continued until the initial stage of the Meiji period.