Tokugawa Akitake (徳川昭武)

Akitake TOKUGAWA was the sixth family head of the Shimizu Tokugawa family and later became the last (the 11th) lord of the Mito domain.

He was the 18th son of Nariaki TOKUGAWA, the ninth lord of domain and younger paternal half-brother of Yoshinobu TOKUGAWA, the 15th seii taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians"). His mother was Nariaki's concubine Chikako, the sixth daughter of Tatefusa MADENOKOJI. He was first named Akinori MATSUDAIRA. His azana (adult males nickname) was Shimei. His pseudonym (title) was Ranzan. His shi (a posthumous name) was Sekko. His lawful wife was a daughter of Michitomi NAKANOIN. One of his children was Takesada TOKUGAWA (the second son). He was the great-grandfather of Princess Hanako, the wife of Imperial Prince Masahito.


He was born in 1853 in edohantei (a residence maintained by a daimyo in Edo) of the Mito Domain in Komagome. His childhood name was Yohachimaro. He had been raised in Mito since six months after his birth, but he re-entered Edo due to the bakufu's disturbance in 1863. In the same year, he went up to Kyoto to nurse his older brother Akikuni who became ill in Kyoto. He stayed in the residence in Choja-machi at first, but he stayed in Choraku-ji Temple in Higashi Otani and Honkoku-ji Temple after Kinmon Incident (this was why feudal retainers of the Mito Domain staying in Kyoto were called Honkoku-ji Temple force). He was extremely busy supporting activities for the bakufu during the stay in Kyoto and participated in disturbances in the end of Edo period, such as Kinmon Incident and Tengu Party's Disturbance, as a leader of the army although he was still young at the time.

He was appointed to Jugoi (Junior Fifth Rank), jiju (a chamberlain) and Minbu taifu (Senior Assistant Minister of Popular Affairs). Due to the death of Iemochi TOKUGAWA, the fourteenth Shogun, he changed his imina (personal name) to Akitake. He succeeded to the Shimizu Tokugawa family in 1867. At the same time, he was dispatched to Europe as the representative of the Shogun Yoshinobu to attend Paris Exposition (1867).

After Paris Exposition, he visited Switzerland, Belgium, Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Italy as the representative of the bakufu. He studied in Paris afterward.

In 1868, he was ordered to return home from the new government, so he departed for home. In 1869, he succeeded to the Mito Tokugawa family and was appointed to the last lord of the Mito domain. In 1869, he resigned Chihanji (Minbu taifu) of the Mito domain due to Hanseki-hokan (return of lands and people to the emperor). Akitake applied to have the divided lands of Hokkaido and was ordered to dominate five counties in total, such as Tomakomae County, Teshio County, Kamikawa County, and Nakagawa County out of Teshio Province, Hokkaido, and Rishiri County out of Kitami Province on September 22, 1869. He was appointed to the governor of domain due to Haihan-chiken (abolition of feudal domains and establishment of prefectures) on August 29, 1871 and lived in the residence of Koume (former residence of Mito domain) in Mukojima, Tokyo Prefecture.

He was appointed to second lieutenant in 1875. He gave military education to the students as an instructor at the initial Army Toyama School. In 1876, he became Goyogakari (a general affairs official of the Imperial Household) for Philadelphia Exposition held in Philadelphia, USA. He went to Paris to study again after Philadelphia Exposition. He returned home in 1881.

He ceded the family head position to his nephew Atsuyoshi in 1883 and retired to live in the Tojo residence (in Matsudo City) next year. In 1892, his second son Takesada was appointed to viscount and founded the Matsudo Tokugawa family.

He died on July 3, 1910. He was 58 years old.


Eichi SHIBUSAWA was also a member of the delegation to Europe.

Among Nariaki's sons, photos are extant only for Yoshinobu, Akitake, Yoshinori, and Mochimasa.

He had and deepened relationship with leaders from various countries at the exposition, which is considered to have been the beginning of the relationship between modern Japan and the powerful countries in Europe. 'Aoi Kunsho' (Order of Mallow) was a medal that the bakufu projected to create.

He had various hobbies such as a bicycle ride, hunting, and photo shoot. After the retirement, he frequently traveled to Yoshinobu in Shizuoka City and deepened the relationship through taking photos and going hunting together. He was enthusiastic about photo shoot, so that many photos are still extant.

In 1853

He was born.

In 1863

He went up to Kyoto and served for supporting activities for the bakufu. He was appointed to Jugoinoge, jiju and Minbu taifu.

In 1864

He participated in Tengu Party's subjugation.

In 1866

He changed his name to Akitake. He succeeded to the Shimizu Tokugawa family. He became Jushiinoge (Junior Forth Rank, Lower Grade), Sakone gon no shosho (Provisional Minor Captain of the Left Division of Inner Palace Guards). He attended Paris Exposition (1867). He visited various countries in Europe and studied in France afterward.

In 1869

He returned home from France and was appointed to the lord of Mito domain (he succeeded to the Mito Tokugawa family). He became the governor of Mito domain due to Hanseki-hokan.

In 1870

He received Eiseiroku (premiums)(3,500 koku (crop fields)). He inspected Hokkaido development.

In 1871

Haihan-chiken was enforced. He moved to Tokyo.

In 1874

He was appointed to second lieutenant of Japanese Army.

In 1875

He became an instructor at Army Toyama School (for students)

In 1876

He was dispatched to the United States as Goyogakari for the United States Exposition. He was discharged from second lieutenant of Japanese Army.

In 1881

He became Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank) and Jako no ma shiko (emperor's personal attendant in Jako room).

In 1882

He restored Ono bokujo (pasture). Imperial visit to the Koume residence.

In 1884

He moved to Tojo residence.

In 1892

His heir Takesada was appointed to viscount (foundation of the Matsudo Tokugawa family).

In 1898

He acted as the guardian for the Mito Tokugawa family.

In 1910

He died. Grave: Mt. Zuiryu in Hitachi-ota City, Ibaraki Prefecture.