Minakuchi Domain (水口藩)

The Minakuchi Domain was a han (a basic unit of provincial government during the Edo period) that governed around Minakuchi-cho, Koga City, Shiga Prefecture. The government building of the domain was Minakuchi-jo Castle.

Brief History

The Minakuchi Domain was founded in 1682 by Akitomo KATO, a tozama (outsider feudal lord) of the Yoshinaga Domain in Iwami Province (with a fief yielding 10,000 koku of rice), who became the lord of the Minakuchi-jo Castle in Omi Province with 10,000 koku of rice increased to 20,000 in total because of the military exploit by himself and his grandfather, Yoshiaki KATO, known as one of the seven excellent military commanders in Hideyoshi's army at the battle of Shizugatake (Shizugatake-no-shichihon-yari). It is said that Enshu KOBORI, a master of landscape gardening, oversaw construction of Minakuchi-jo Castle.

Akihide KATO, a son of Akitomo, was bestowed the rank of fudai daimyo (hereditary daimyo), and in 1690, promoted to wakadoshiyori (a managerial position in Edo bakufu [Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun]) from jisha-bugyo (magistrate of temples and shrines) and transferred to the Mibu Domain in Shimotsuke Province in 1695 with an increase of 5,000 koku of rice.

Tadateru TORII, hereditary daimyo, entered into the Minakuchi Domain with 20,000 koku of rice from the Notoshimomura Domain in Noto Province. Tadateru was promoted to wakadoshiyori from jisha-bugyo in 1711, and transferred to the Mibu Domain in Shimotsuke Province.

In the same year, Yoshinori KATO, an heir of Akihide KATO, entered into the domain from the Mibu Domain in Shimotsuke Province with 25,000 koku of rice. From then on till the Meiji Restoration, the Kato clan had dominated the Minakuchi Domain. In 1871, by the act of Haihan-chiken (abolition of feudal domains and establishment of prefectures), the Minakuchi Domain was abolished to establish Minakuchi Prefecture.

Yoshinaga Domain

The Yoshinaga Domain was a han which had been governed by Akitomo KATO before he was transferred to the Minakuchi Domain in Omi Province. It had been located around Yoshinaga, Ano-gun, Iwami Province (current Ota City, Shimane Prefecture) with 10,000 koku of rice, and jinya (regional government) had been settled in Yoshinaga.

In July 1643, the Yoshinaga Domain was founded; Akitomo's father, Akinari KATO, who was the lord of the Aizu Domain, had his domain with 400,000 koku of rice confiscated in June 1643, but continuance of the family name was allowed because of the deed of valor of Akitomo's grandfather, Akinari KATO.

Because the Kato clan had its large domain with 400,000 koku of rice which it had retained reduced to a small one with only 10,000 koku of rice, it was forced to curtail the vassals, so that the clan's finance underwent rapid deterioration. For this reason, the Kato clan made great effort to encourage new industry development, such as engaging manufacturer of lacquer ware from the Aizu Domain and promoting to plant paulownia trees, Japanese wax trees, and Japanese apricot trees. Additionally, the Kato clan evolved nengu (land tax)-increase policy, so that the domain was said to still be a particularly high-tax area after it was transferred to the Minakuchi Domain. It is said that the small domain made its administrative organization less systematized, but there are many unknown real circumstances.

After the death of Akinari, Akitomo KATO, who succeeded to the second lord of the domain, was transferred to the Minakuchi Domain with 10,000 koku of rice increased to 20,000 in total in July 1682, so that the Yoshinaga domain was abolished to become a tenryo (bakufu-owned land of Iwami Ginzan Mine).