Okubo Nagayasu (大久保長安)

Nagayasu (Choan) OKUBO was a military commander in the period of warring states. He was a vassal of the Takeda clan before serving the Tokugawa clan.


He was born in 1545 as the second son of Nobuyasu JURO, who was the master of sarugaku (comical mimicry and speech performance in Heian period) holding the title of Okura Tayu (leading actor in a Noh play). The grandfather of Nagayasu was the sarugaku-shi of Sarugaku (present Noh play) in the Konparu School who performed in Kasuga-jinja Shrine in Yamato Province, and his father Shinan was exiled to Okura, Suma Province before establishing the Okura School. It is said that Nagayasu was born in those days.

However, there were several uncertainties involving the mother and father of Nagayasu, and one theory stated that Nagayasu was a foreigner (Chinese) or a descendant of Hata clan.

Serving as vassal of the Takeda family

His father Nobuyasu was exiled to Kai Province as sarugaku-shi and served as the personal sarugaku-shi of Shingen TAKEDA, rumored at that time to be the strongest territorial lord in the Sengoku period. However, Nagayasu was noticed by Shingen and recruited not as sarugaku-shi but as a samurai warrior who served Masatsugu TSUCHIYA. At this time, he changed his surname from Okura to Tsuchiya. However, Shingen recruited him not as a fighting warrior but as a retainer in charge of finance of the feif (kuramaeshu). Shingen saw his superb ability in accounting, and made him government official who handled general affairs such as the establishment of mines such as Kurokawa Gold Mine as well as taxes within the estate of Takeda.

After Shingen passed away, he served under Katsuyori TAKEDA. His older brother Shinnojo and his adopted parent Masatsugu TSUCHIYA joined the Battle of Nagashino in 1575, died on front lines, but Nagayasu did not participate in the battle. The Minamoto clan of Kai Province and Takeda clans disappeared from the main political arena due to the invasion of the joint armies of Nobunaga ODA and Ieyasu TOKUGAWA in 1582.

However, one theory stated that he was bullied by Katsuyori who succeeded after the death of Shingen and left Takeda clan by himself, and returned to live in Mikawa Province as a sarugaku-shi.

The Period of being the vassal of the Tokugawa family

After the Takeda family of Kai Province fell, Nagayasu began to serve Ieyasu as the vassal. Nagayasu built a temporarily mansion when Ieyasu was on his way to subjugate Takeda, then, Ieyasu saw his excellent home construction ability in it that and allowed Nagayasu to become his officer. In addition, there was a story that Nagayasu appealed to Ieyasu that he was one of the excellent officials accepted even by Shingen and that he had knowledge about gold mines through Masakazu NARUSE (a warrior in the Warring States period), who was a former vassal of Takeda family and the close servant of Ieyasu, and consequently began to serve under Ieyasu.

Nagayasu was assigned to a police sergeant of Tadachika OKUBO and received his patronage. Accompanying to the assignment, he changed his surname to Okubo. Nobunaga passed away, and Kai Province became a part of the estate of Ieyasu in June 1582. However, Kai Province at that time was in turmoil after the fall of the Takeda family. Ieyasu assigned Masanobu HONDA and Tadatsugu INA as land managers and ordered them to reestablish the internal government of Kai Province. However, Nagayasu was supposedly the one who actually reestablished the government as a land manager. Nagayasu worked on the reconstruction of the embankment of Kamanashi-gawa and Fuefuki-gawa Rivers and the development of new rice fields as well as the mining of gold in Kai Province, and reestablished the internal government of Kai Province within just a few years.

Ieyasu moved to Kanto (area around Tokyo) after the Siege of Odawara in 1590. Nagayasu was ordered to the position of magistrate along with Tadatsugu INA, Tadanari AOYAMA, and Motomasa HIKOSAKA, and created the cadastral documents after Ieyasu entered Kanto. This came into great use when Ieyasu provided a group of his vassals with his Kanto estates afterwards.

In addition, a million koku land of 2,500,000 koku Kanto region came under the direct control of Ieyasu, and Nagayasu at this time managed the secretarial work of the direct estate of Ieyasu along with Tadatsugu as the head governor of Kanto. In 1591, he received a land of 8,000 koku in Hachioji (later became Yokoyama), Musashi Province from Ieyasu. However, he supposedly received the land of 90,000 koku of the former estate of Ujiteru HOJO, who previously controlled Hachioji, as it was. Nagayasu built the camp at Hachioji-shuku Station (present Hachioji City, Tokyo) and continued the construction of Hachioji-shuku Station and an embankment to prevent the flooding of Asa-gawa River (Tokyo). It was called as Iwami River bank. There was a town called Aikawa in Sado, allegedly with a maximum population of 200,000.

At that time, there were less than ten cities around the world with a population of 200,000, even the newly formed Edo was just a district of government offices where lines of samurai residences stood. That proves Nagayasu's talent.

Nagayasu also pointed out the importance of maintaining the security and guarding the provincial border in Musashi Province, and asked and received permission to create Hachioji Five Hundred Lower Class Officials with the former vassals of Takeda clan. In 1599, Ieyasu allowed him to double the number of the lower class officials which became Hachioji Thousand Lower Class Officials.

When the Battle of Sekigahara occurred in 1600, Nagayasu together with Tadatsugu, transported the Tokugawa army led by Hidetada TOKUGAWA. All of the Gold Mine at Sado and the Silver Mine at Ikuno under control of the Toyotomi clan became a direct estate of Tokugawa clan after the war. Nagayasu was assigned to be the governor of Yamato in September 1600, police officer for Silver mine at Iwami in October, an officer for the Gold mine at Sado in November, magistrate at Kai Province in spring of 1601, the magistrate of Iwami in August, and the governor of Mino Province in September. Ieyasu concurrently assigned him to these positions. While it could be said that it was a special promotion, it could be said that Ieyasu highly valued Nagayasu's talent in economics. When Ieyasu was appointed Shogun on February 12, 1603, Nagayasu was given the rank of Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade and assigned to the governor of Iwami and also assigned to the attendant chief retainer of the sixth son of Ieyasu, Tadateru MATSUDAIRA.

Nagayasu was appointed the magistrate of Sado Province in July, the magistrate of estates (later, the commissioner of finance) in December, and was simultaneously ranked among senior administrators (later, a member of shogun's council of elders). He was also assigned to the magistrate of Izu Province in February 1606. Nagayasu was completely responsible for the control of gold and silver mines across Japan, the development of transportation system in Kanto region, and the construction of milestones at intervals of one "Ri"(about 3.927 km). The currently known table of distances, i.e., units of ri, 1 ri = thirty-six cho (unit), sixty ken= 1 cho, six shaku = 1 ken of Kenjaku (a rope with a label on every 1 ken) were established by Nagayasu. This idea came from the start of the unified government body called shogunate government which originated from feudal Japan where various powers were scattered across the mountainous land.

Nagayasu who concurrently filled the positions of all these magistrates is said to have an extremely strong power. He made his seven sons marry the daughters of Yasunaga ISHIKAWA and Terumasa IKEDA, and negotiated the marriage of Tadateru with the first daughter of Masamune DATE, Princess Iroha, and since Masamune became the fathe-in-law of Tadateru, Nagayasu also built a close relationship with Masamune. As a result, he was called the 'chief officer of the whole country' and formed the Okubo party within the bakufu along with Tadachika OKUBO, battled with Masanobu HONDA, who was favored by Ieyasu, over the power of the early bakufu government, and won against the Honda party, temporarily winning control of the bakufu government. Nagayasu managed the estate of 8,000 koku (in fact it was 90,000 koku) Hachioji as well as the estate directly under the control of Ieyasu of 1,500,000 koku.

However, when he reached the end of his life, he started to lose the favor of Ieyasu due to decreased silver and gold harvest yields from mines across Japan, and was consecutively dismissed from local governor positions, starting from the governor of Mino. He passed away on April 25, 1613 due to a stroke, as many unfortunate events happened to him, including the death of his legal wife. He died at the age of sixty-nine.

After his death

After the death of Nagayasu, all seven male children of Nagayasu were executed and various daimyo faced the forfeit of Samurai rank and properties due to a connection in crime from a claim that Nagayasu illegally collected money when he took control of a gold mine while he was alive.

Ieyasu dug up the dead body of Nagayasu that was half molded, beheaded him, and displayed his head at the banks of Abe-gawa River at the foot of Sunbu-jo Castle.

In addition, he later dismissed Tadachika OKUBO, who supported Nagayasu. However, there were few speculations that Nagayasu had carried out fraud, and that it was probably a conspiracy by the Masanobu HONDA and his son Masazumi HONDA, who were trying to regain their power in the bakufu. It could also be the result of purging by the Tokugawa family who feared his financial and political strength, and to set an example to other daikan who may have been prone to committing crimes Incident of Nagayasu OKUBO.

Personality and anecdotes

He was a ladies' man and said to have kept seventy to eighty concubines.

He liked lavishness from the time he was assigned with the magistrate of gold mines and wrote a will to put his body in a gold coffin and carry out a lavish funeral after his death (this lavishness was a source of doubt by Ieyasu concerning illegal savings of Nagayasu).

There was one theory that Nagayasu believed that Masamune was more fit to be the ruler of Japan than Ieyasu, and participated in the Masanune's plan to overthow the bakufu.

It is not known about where the Nagayasu's grave is, but one theory states that it is in a hot springs district of Toi in Izu.

Cities developed by Nagayasu

Kiryu City (Gunma Prefecture)
Hachioji City (Tokyo)

[Original Japanese]