Matsudaira Shungaku (松平春嶽)

Shungaku MATSUDAIRA was a Japanese feudal lord, the 16th lord of the Fukui Domain of Echigo Province in the late Edo period. He was a statesman in the Meiji period.

Shungaku is his second name, and Yoshinaga is his imina (personal name).

He was the eighth son of Narimasa TOKUGAWA, the third head of the Tayasu-Tokugawa family. He was adopted to Narisawa MATSUDAIRA. He was a cousin of Shogun Ieyoshi TOKUGAWA. He was a great domain lord and called one of the four remarkable feudal lords. He played an important role in the early days after the Meiji Restoration.

Before assuming the domain lord

He was born in the residence of Taoka in the Edo-jo Castle. He was educated by Yukie NAKANE and then became the head of the domain at the age of 11 after Narisawa died in 1838. The same year, he reached the manhood. Receiving one Chinese character of Shogun Ieyoshi TOKUGAWA's name, he took the name of Yoshinaga. He received Shoshiinoge (Senior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade) and was appointed to Sakone gon no shosho (Provisional Minor Captain of the Left Division of Inner Palace Guards) and Echizen no kuni no kami (Governor of Echizen Province). Supported by Nakane, Kiminasa YURI and Sanai HASHIMOTO, he carried out the reformation of domain duties such as establishing yogakusho (English school) and implementing military system reform. He became Sakone gon no chujo (Provisional Middle Captain of the Left Division of Inner Palace Guards) in 1851. When the American fleets led by Matthew PERRY came to Japan to ask for commerce in 1853, he insisted on reinforcement in marine defense and expulsion of foreigners together with Nariaki TOKUGAWA from the Mito-Tokugawa family and Nariakira SHIMAZU, the lord of the Satsuma Domain, but turned to the open country wing after interaction with Masahiro ABE, Roju (senior councilor of the Tokugawa shogunate).

Ansei no Taigoku (suppression of extremists by the Shogunate)

For the issue on succession to the 13th Shogun Iesada TOKUGAWA, he sent Sanai HASHIMOTO to conduct a campaign and supported Yoshinobu HITOTSUBASHI (later Yoshinobu TOKUGAWA), the head of Hitotsubashi-Tokugawa family. The cabinet officials of the Shogunate belonged to the Nanki group, which recommended Yoshitomi TOKUGAWA from the Kisyu-Tokugawa family (later Iemochi TOKUGAWA) for the shogun successor issue and then Yoshitomi became the 14th Shogun after the lord of the Hikone domain, Naosuke II became Tairo (chief minister). When the bakufu signed the Treaty of Amity and Commerce between the United States and Japan without permission of the Imperial Court, Shungaku came to the castle with Nariaki TOKUGAWA for protest and was suspended at home for going to the Castle untimely. Sanai was executed (Ansei no Taigoku).

Before the Meiji Restoration

Naosuke II was assassinated in the Sakuradamongai Incident and Shungaku was allowed to join the shogunate government in 1862.

In the Imperial Court, after the death of Nariakira SHIMAZU, his younger brother Hisamitsu SHIMAZU went up to Kyoto with his solders and was actively involved in politics. Hisamitsu went down to Edo with an imperial envoy, Shigetomi OHARA to ask the bakufu to appoint Yoshinobu to Shogun-kokenshoku (one of three major posts of Edo bakufu) and Shungaku to the president of political affairs. On July 9, Shungaku was appointed to a new post, the president of political affairs and then pushed forward the policy of kobu-gattai (the union of the imperial Court and the Shogunate) with Yoshinobu such as establishing Kyoto shugoshoku (Military governor of Kyoto), appointing the lord of the Aizu Domain Katamori MATSUDAIRA to shugoshiki (military governor) and the shogun's going up to Kyoto (Bunkyu Reform). Shungaku recruited Shonan YOKOI from the Kumamoto Domain as a political advisor and listened to his opinions on the reformation of domain duties and the shogunate political reform. Although he went up to Kyoto in 1863, he resigned as the president of political affairs on March 2nd when Yoshinobu tried to make a compromise with Sonno Joi ha (supporters of the doctrine of restoring the emperor and expelling the barbarians) including the Choshu Domain, which had a strong influence in Kyoto. After the Choshu Domain was driven out of Kyoto in the Coup of August 18 for which the Aizu Domain and the Satsuma Domain worked together and fell from power in the Kinmon Incident, he became sanyo (councilor) (Council).

Replacing Takamori, the general manager of military affairs then, he became Kyoto shugoshoku (Military governor of Kyoto) on February 15, 1864 and changed his post from Echizen no kami (Governor of Echizen Province) to Okura no taifu (a senior assistant minister of the Ministry of Treasury) the following day. However, he was dismissed from the post of Kyoto shugoshoku on April 7.

In 1867, he held the Shiko-kaigi (four major lords' meeting) with Hisamitsu SHIMAZU, Toyoshige YAMAUCHI, who was the former lord of the Tosa Domain, and Munenari DATE, who was the lord of the Uwajima DomainE to discuss punishment on the Emperor's enemy, the Choshu Domain, which resulted in the twice Choshu conquest although Shungaku opposed it. The day before the Restoration of Imperial Rule (of Japan) was declared on December 9, he was appointed to gijo (official post) by the Imperial Court.

After the Meiji Restoration

After the Restoration of Imperial Rule, the Satsuma Domain and the Choshu Domain disagreed to the overthrow of the shogunate.

In the new government after the Meiji Restoration, he became the ministerial governor of Home Affairs on January 17, 1868, the governor of Popular Affairs on May 15, 1869, and Minbukyo (Minister of Popular Affairs) on July 8 of the same year, and served concurrently as Okura-kyo (Minister of the Treasury). He became Daigaku betto (equivalent to a president of university) and Jidoku (imperial tutor) on August 24. On September 26 of the same year, he received Shonii (Senior Second Rank). He was retired from government affairs in 1870.

In 1881, he received the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star. He received Juichii (Junior First Rank) in 1888 and Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun in the following year. In 1890, he died in his home in Koishikawa at the age of 64. His grave is in the Fudarakusan Kaian-ji Temple in Shinagawa Ward, Tokyo. In 1891, a year after his death, the sprit of Shungaku was enshrined together in the Sakaeno-yashiro Shrine (Echizen Tosho-gu Shrine). The Fukui-jinja Shrine, the Bekkaku-Kanpeisha (a special government shrine), which enshrines Shungaku as a main deity, was built in 1943.

His death poem (composed on the eve of his death) is: "If I don't come back alive, I'll fly in the sky to save the imperial reign for our country".

Personal Profile and Anecdote

The name of the era, "Meiji" was named by Shungaku.

He was the author of "Itsujisiho (memoirs)".

Family lineage

Father: Narimasa TOKUGAWA (the third head of the Tayasu-Tokugawa family)

Adoptive father: Narisawa MATSUDAIRA (the 13th head of the Fukui Domain)

Mother: Oreni no kata (お連以の方) (concubine)



Yoshitsugu TOKUGAWA (the 13th head of the Owari-Tokugawa family)

Paternal half-brothers


Yoshihisa TOKUGAWA

Yoshiyori TOKUGAWA

Chikahime (近姫) (wife of Narinori TOKUGAWA, the fourth head of Hitotsubashi-Tokugawa family)

Aihime (wife of Nariharu TOKUGAWA, the 11th head of the Owari Tokugawa family)

Naohime (猶姫) (wife of Naritaka TOKUGAWA, the 12th head of the Owari-Tokugawa family)


Lawful wife: Isahime (daughter of Narimori HOSOKAWA, the tenth lord of the Kumamoto Domain
Yoshitami MATSUDAIRA (the second son)
Yoshichika TOKUGAWA (the fifth son, the Owari-Tokugawa family)
Setsuko MATSUDAIRA (wife of Yasutaka MATSUDAIRA)
Masako MATSUDAIRA (lawful wife of So-and-so MORI)
Chiyoko MATSUDAIRA (lawful wife of Kinyoshi SANJO)
Satoko MATSUDAIRA (wife of Atsushi TOKUGAWA)
Adopted child: Mochiaki MATSUDAIRA (son of Naoharu MATSUDAIRA, the lord of the Itoigawa Domain)