Utahashi (歌橋)

Utahashi (dates of birth and death unknown), a woman from the late Edo period to the late shogunate period, was the wet nurse of Iesada TOKUGAWA, the 13th seii taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians"). Her place in O-oku (the inner halls of Edo Castle where the wife of the Shogun and her servants reside) was joro Otoshiyori (high rank maid in the Imperial Court who controls the servants in O-oku). Her ingo (a title given to a Buddhist) was Hokoin.

When Iesada TOKUGAWA became the 13th generation General in 1853, Utahashi moved from the Nishinomaru O-oku to the Hommaru O-oku. In O-oku, she held more power than Iesada's real mother Honjuin and took the lead in the O-oku. The reason is said to be the fact that, his mother Honjuin and his father Ieyoshi TOKUGAWA left all child cares of Iesada to Utahashi and Iesada was attached to Utahashi. It is also said that Iesada hated to appear in public so much and opened up only to his wet nurse, Utahashi.

During the race for successor after Iesada, she belonged to the Nanki group (group supporting Yoshitomi from the Kisyu-TOKUGAWA family) and,together with Takiyama, Honjuin and others, supported Yoshitomi TOKUGAWA (who later on was called Iemochi TOKUGAWA), the lord of the Kii domain, to be the 14th generation General.

After Iesada 's death, she got her head shaved and titled herself Hokoin.