Tokugawa Yoshikatsu (徳川慶勝)

Yoshikatsu TOKUGAWA (April 14, 1824 - August 1, 1883) was a daimyo (a Japanese feudal lord) (the 14th and 17th lord of the Owari Domain [later the Nagoya Domain]) in the late Edo period and a statesman in the early Meiji period.

He was the second son of Yoshitatsu MATSUDAIRA who was the lord of the Takasu Domain in Mino Province that was a branch domain of Owari. His mother was a daughter of the lord of the Mito Domain Harutoshi TOKUGAWA. His lawful wife was Kanehime, a daughter of the lord of the Nihonmatsu Domain Nagatomi NIWA, and he had four concubines. His children were Yoshinori TOKUGAWA (the third son), Yoshikumi TOKUGAWA (the eleventh son), Michihime (the third daughter, the lawful wife of Gisho MATSUDAIRA in Owari offshoot), Toyohime (the fourth daughter, the lawful wife of Yoshiakira TOKUGAWA), Yoshihime (the second wife of Yoshiakira TOKUGAWA) and Tomihime (the lawful wife of Motoakira MORI, later the third wife of Yasuhirio TODA). His childhood name was Hidenosuke and changed to Yoshikumi MATSUDAIRA after genpuku (celebrate one's coming of age). His name was Yoshikumi TOKUGAWA at the beginning of his succession. His go (the second name) was Getsudo.

He had brothers including the 15th lord of the domain Mochinaga TOKUGAWA (Mochiharu, the 11th Hitotsubashi Tokugawa family), the lord of the Aizu Domain Katamori MATSUDAIRA, the lord of the Kuwana Domain Sadaaki MATSUDAIRA and they were called Takasu Four Brothers including Yoshikatsu himself.

His name is written 'Yoshikatsu' in this text, following the same rule.


He was born in a residence of the Yotsuya Domain in Edo. The Owari Domain adopted children continuously for four generations from the 10th lord of the domain Naritomo TOKUGAWA to the 13th lord of the domain Yoshitsugu TOKUGAWA from the Shogun family descent. Also, the affairs which lowered the morale of feudal retainers of the Owari Domain happened one after another; for instance, the 11th lord of the domain Nariharu TOKUGAWA had never entered Owari Province and lived in Edo in his lifetime. Thererore, the party against the system of an adopted child such as Kintetsu-to party formed by the nucleus of the lower ranked feudal retainers had a great desire that Yoshikatsu from the Takasu Domain, a branch domain of Owari assumed the lord of the domain. When Yoshitsugu died in 1849, it came true that Yoshikatsu assumed the 14th lord of the domain.

Yoshikatsu believed in 'the thing held by the order of the Emperor' which was a will of the original forefather of the domain Yoshinao TOKUGAWA, so that he insisted in Sonno Joi (19th century slogan advocating reverence for the Emperor and the expulsion of foreigners) and conducted a reformation of domain duties, mainly a thrifty policy at domestic administration. Since Naosuke II, who had been commanded the shogunate government as Tairo (chief minister) at the cabinet officials of the Shogunate after a Roju (senior councilor) Masahiro ABE died, signed The Treaty of Amity and Commerce between the United States and Japan in 1858, Yoshikatsu went to the Edo-jo Castle untimely with Nariaki TOKUGAWA of the Mito-Tokugawa family to protest against Ii. Because of this, when Ii started Ansei no Taigoku (suppression of extremists by the Shogunate) to oppress the counterforce, he was ordered the abdication of the headship of the family and suspension from the office and then his younger brother Mochinaga TOKUGAWA became the 15th lord of the domain.

He showed an interest in a camera being introduced from Europe and America in those days. He compounded chemicals by himself and took photographs. In the photographs he took, there are about 1000 photos such as Nagoya-jo Castle Ninomaru Goten Palace demolished in 1870 and Hiroshima-jo Castle town of the end of the Edo period left, and so many photos have the value of historical records.

After Ii was assassinated in the Sakuradamongai no Hen (The Incident Outside the Sakurada-mon Gate) in 1860, he received 'Shikkai 御宥許' (all are forgiven) in 1862. He went up to the capital (Kyoto) in this year and was ordered to be an assistant for Shogun Iemochi. Since Mochinaga retired and his own son Motochiyo (later Yoshinori TOKUGAWA) became the 16th lord of domain in 1863, he held real control in the Owari Domain as a guardian.

Although he had often been to the capital (Kyoto) after that, the Coup of August 18 (September 30 in new calendar) which the Aizu and the Satsuma clans conspired broke out in Kyoto in 1863 and the Choshu clan was exiled from Kyoto. In the next year 1864, Yoshikatsu was ordered to take place in a council formed by the experienced people of the lord of the major domain (actually refused).

The Choshu clan which was outraged by the Ikedaya Incident broken out in that year raised the Kinmon Incident (Conspiracy of Hamaguri-gomon Gate) to attempt the military recovery of Kyoto. Since the Choshu clan, however, failed in this and became the Emperor's enemy, the Government made the Choshu Conquest (the First Baku-cho War). Although the lord of the Kishu Domain Mochitsugu TOKUGAWA was appointed as the governor general of the Choshu Conquest troops at first, it changed to Yoshikatsu and he went to the front with a feudal retainer of the Satsuma Domain Takamori SAIGO as the Senior Staff. Yoshikatsu returned to Kyoto with a lenient measure as the Choshu clan swore allegiance at this Choshu Conquest. But the people loyal to the Emperor had the initiative again afterwards, so that it was decided to make the Second Choshu Conquest. Yoshikatsu objected to the re-Conquest and let Mochinaga refuse the assumption of the governor conquering of Choshu, and then went to the capital to take the position of the guard at Imperial Palace. The Choshu clan which was almost conquered concluded a secret alliance with the Satsuma clan (Satsuma-Choshu Alliance) and defeated the army of the bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) at various places on the domain borders.

The 15th shogun Yoshinobu TOKUGAWA conducted Taisei Hokan (transfer of power back to the Emperor) on the Tosa clan's advice on November 9, 1867 and the Tokugawa Shogunate perished. Going to the capital, Yoshikatsu was appointed as gijo (an official post) in a new government and it was decided to notify Yoshinobu of Jikan nochi (an order for surrendering the Shogunate post and domains to the Imperial Court) at Kogosho Conference (the meeting held in the presence of the Emperor in the Kogosho Conference Room of Kyoto Imperial Palace) on January 3, 1868, and then Yoshikatsu took on the role of giving a notify. When the Battle of Toba-Fushimi broke out as the old army of the bakufu, the troops of the Satsuma clan and the Choshu clan clashed in Kyoto on January 27, 1868, Yoshinobu escaped from Osaka to Edo by a warship not to leave his house. Yoshikatsu received Osaka-jo Castle on behalf of the new government. He was notified that the rivalry between the Imperial Court's side and Sabaku-ha (supporters of the Shogun)'s side in the Owari clan intensified, so he returned to Owari on February 13 and suppressed Sabaku-ha (The Aomatsuba Incident). Exempted gijo on June 11, he had never been in politics since then.

Since the 16th family head Yoshinori died of disease in 1875, Yoshikatsu succeeded to the family head again. He also directed the exploitation of Yakumo-cho in Hokkaido started by the old feudal retainers of the Owari Domain in 1878. He yielded his position as head of the family to his adopted child Yoshiakira TOKUGAWA (a son of the lord of the Takamatsu Domain Yoritoshi MATSUDAIRA) and retired in 1880. He died at the age of 60 in 1883.

There is his graveyard in Saiko-an Temple, Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo.

Record of offices and ranks held

Date according to old lunar calendar. After 1875, however, the New calendar (solar calendar) is used.

He was conferred the court rank of Jushiinoge (Junior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade) and appointed to a chamberlain on the leap January 4, 1841. He held the post of Nakatsukasa no Taifu (Senior Assistant Minister of the Ministry of Central Affairs) concurrently.

In 1849

He held the post of Kamon no kami (Director at the Bureau of Palace Upkeep) concurrently in leap April. He was relieved of the position of Nakatsukasa no taifu (Senior Assistant Minister of the Ministry of Central Affairs). He retained his position as chamberlain.

He became the lord of the Nagoya Domain in Owari Province on June 4.

He was given Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank) and appointed to Sangi (councilor) on July 9. He held the post of Sakone gon no chujo (Provisional Middle Captain of the Left Division of Inner Palace Guards) concurrently.

He was transferred to Gon Chunagon (Provisional Vice-Councilor of State) on December 15, 1850.

He resigned from the lord of the domain to retire in 1858.

He was given Junii (Junior Second Rank) and transferred to Gon Dainagon (Provisional Chief Councilor of State) in 1862.

He held the position of Sanyo (Councilor) in 1864. He also became a governor-general of the Choshu Conquest Forces.

He assumed gijo (official post) at the restoration government on December 9, 1867.

He resigned gijo on leap April 21, 1868.

He assumed the governor of the Nagoya Domain on December 3, 1870.

He left the position of the governor of the domain on July 13, 1871.

He succeeded to the head of the Owari Tokugawa family again in 1875.

He resigned from the family head to retire in 1880.

He died on August 1, 1883.

He was deified as a deity of Biyo-jinja Shrine enshrined in Gokiso, Showa Ward, Nagoya City in 1910.

He was commended by the commissioner of the Hokkaido government for his distinguished service to develop uncultivated land in Hokkaido at the 50th opening of Hokkaido commemorative ceremony in 1918.

He was enshrined together in Yagumo-jinja Shrine in Yagumo-cho, Hokkaido in 1934.

Family lineage

His lawful wife: Kanehime, Nagatomi NIWA's daughter. His concubine: Otama no Kata (the Muto clan). The third son: Yoshinori TOKUGAWA (the 16th lord of the Owari Domain). The third daughter: Michihime (Yoshinari MATSUDAIRA's lawful wife). The fourth daughter: Toyohime (Yoshiakira TOKUGAWA's lawful wife). His concubine: Yuki (the Akizuki clan). His concubine: Take (the Nasu clan). Yoshihime: Yoshiakira TOKUGAWA's dowager. Tomihime: Motoakira MORI's lawful wife, later remarried Yasuhiro TODA. His concubine: Kazu (adopted by Takayoshi SUZUKI). The 11th son: Yoshikumi TOKUGAWA: the founder of a branch family in the Owari Domain, the father of Yoshihiro TOKUGAWA, the Grand Chamberlain. Others, adopted children.