Kubota Domain

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Kubota Castle, the seat of the Kubota Domain (Akita Domain)

The Kubota Domain (久保田藩 Kubota han?) was a Japanese domain of the Edo period, located in Dewa Province (modern-day Akita Prefecture). Its main castle was in modern-day Akita, Akita. The Kubota Domain was also known as the Akita Domain (秋田藩 Akita han?). It was governed for the whole of its history by the Satake clan. In the Boshin War of 1868-69, it joined the Ōuetsu Reppan Dōmei, the alliance of northern domains, but then pulled out. Kubota then came under attack by forces still loyal to the alliance. As with all other domains, it was disbanded in 1871.


Painting by Satake Yoshiatsu (Satake Shozan), 8th generation lord of Kubota

The Satake clan, which ruled Kubota, was originally from Hitachi Province. In 1600, the Satake sided with the Western Army at the Battle of Sekigahara.[1][2] After the Western Army's defeat by the Eastern forces of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the Satake clan was allowed to continue, but was punished.[3] The clan's income level was severely reduced, and in 1602, its territories were moved to Kubota, a much smaller fief in northern Japan, where they remained until 1871.[4][5] As a result of this drop in income (nearly half of their previous income of around 540,000 koku), the Satake had to lay off many retainers, and institute a general stipend reduction for those it kept.

Kubota's income level was 205,000 koku, and it was classified as an outside (tozama) daimyo.[4] It had two sub-domains: Iwasaki (20,000 koku) and the short-lived Kubota-shinden (10,000 koku). The domain also often had agricultural crises, which resulted in several peasant uprisings throughout the course of its history. It was also beset by an internal o-ie sodo conflict, the Satake disturbance (佐竹騒動 Satake-sōdō?), which was brought on by financial issues.

Satake Yoshimasa, 9th generation lord of Kubota

Satake Yoshiatsu (better known by his nom-de-plume Satake Shozan), the 8th generation lord of Kubota, was an accomplished artist.[6] Yoshiatsu painted a number of paintings in the Dutch style, and also produced three treatises on European painting techniques, including the depiction of perspective.[7] He was also a student of Dutch studies (rangaku) scholar Hiraga Gennai, who he had invited up to Akita to advise him on management of the domain's copper mines.[7] It was during Yoshiatsu's lifetime that the Akita school (秋田派 Akita-ha?) of art was born and briefly flourished.[7]

The Kubota domain was uncommon in that it contained more than one castle, despite the Tokugawa shogunate's "one castle per domain" rule. The main castle was Kubota Castle, but there were also castles at Yokote and Ōdate, and five fortified estates elsewhere in the domain: Kakudate, Yuzawa, Hiyama, Jūniso, and In'nai.[8] Each of these was given to a senior retainer who ran it as his own small castle town. The senior retainers had personal retainers who resided in these castle towns.

Two of the clan elder (karō) families serving the Kubota domain were branches of the Satake family. One was the North Satake (Satake-hokke) family, stipended at 10,000 koku; the other the West Satake (Satake-nishi ke) family, stipended at 7200 koku. The North Satake family had its landholdings around Kakudate, one of the fortified estates mentioned above; the West Satake resided in and had their landholdings around Ōdate. Yokote castle was in the care of another karō family, the Tomura.[9] Norihisa Satake, the current mayor of Akita, Akita (the domain's former castle town), is a descendant of the North Satake.

During its rule over Kubota, the Satake clan was ranked as a Province-holding daimyo (国持ち大名 kunimochi daimyō?) family, and as such, had the privilege of shogunal audiences in the Great Hall (Ohiroma) of Edo Castle.[4]

Shiroishi Castle, the headquarters of the Ōuetsu Reppan Dōmei

During the Boshin War of 1868-69, the Satake clan was a signatory to the pact that formed the Ōuetsu Reppan Dōmei,[10] the alliance of northern domains led by the Sendai Domain. The Satake clan's delegation at Shiroishi, the alliance's headquarters, was led by the clan elder (karō) Tomura Yoshiari.[11][12] However, the Satake had political difficulties with the alliance, which culminated in the murder,[13] in Akita, of a delegation from Sendai on August 21, 1868,[14][15][16] and the display of the messengers' gibbeted heads in the Akita castle town.[17] The delegation, led by Shimo Matazaemon, was dispatched to request the Akita domain to hand over Kujō Michitaka and other officials of the imperial delegation that had been originally sent to the region to gather support for the imperial cause.[18] The Satake then backed out of the alliance and supported the imperial army; eleven days later, on September 1, 1868[19] the Tsugaru clan of the neighboring Hirosaki domain followed suit.[15][20] In response, the pro-alliance domains of Morioka and Ichinoseki sent troops to attack Kubota.[21] Kubota forces were hard-pressed to defend their territory, with the result that the alliance troops had made serious advances by the time the war ended in northern Honshū.[21] In early 1869, Satake Yoshitaka formally gave up the domain's registers to the imperial government, and was made imperial governor of the Akita domain (han chiji).[22] In mid-1869, the imperial government rewarded the service rendered by the main line of the Satake clan, by raising its income by 20,000 koku.[22] The heads of all the Satake clan's branches were relieved of office as daimyo in 1871,[23] and ordered to relocate to Tokyo.

List of Daimyō[edit]

# Name Tenure Courtesy title Court Rank
1 Satake Yoshinobu ( 佐竹義宣?) 1570-1633 Ukyō-dayū, Sakon'e-chūjō Upper 4th (従四位上)
2 Satake Yoshitaka ( 佐竹義隆?) 1609-1672 Shuri-dayū Lower 4th (従四位下)
3 Satake Yoshizumi ( 佐竹義処?) 1637-1703 Ukyō-dayū, Sakon'e-shōshō Lower 4th (従四位下)
4 Satake Yoshitada ( 佐竹義格?) 1695-1715 Daizen-dayū Lower 4th (従四位下)
5 Satake Yoshimine ( 佐竹義峯?) 1690-1745 Ukyō-dayū Lower 4th (従四位下)
6 Satake Yoshimasa ( 佐竹義真?) 1728-1753 Sahē-no-kami Lower 4th (従四位下)
7 Satake Yoshiharu ( 佐竹義明?) 1723-1758 Ukyō-dayū Lower 4th (従四位下)
8 Satake Yoshiatsu ( 佐竹義敦?) 1748-1785 Ukyō-dayū Lower 4th (従四位下)
9 Satake Yoshimasa ( 佐竹義和?) 1775-1815 Ukyō-dayū Lower 4th (従四位下)
10 Satake Yoshihiro ( 佐竹義厚?) 1812-1846 Sakon'e-shōshō Lower 4th (従四位下)
11 Satake Yoshichika ( 佐竹義睦?) 1839-1857 Ukyō-dayū Lower 4th (従四位下)
12 Satake Yoshitaka ( 佐竹義堯?) 1825-1884 Ukyō-dayū, Sakon'e-chūjō Lower 4th (従四位下)


  1. ^ Saga, Memories of Silk and Straw, pp. 16-17.
  2. ^ Naramoto, Nihon no kassen: monoshiri jiten, p. 376.
  3. ^ (Japanese) "Satake-shi" on Harimaya.com (accessed 15 August 2008)
  4. ^ a b c (Japanese) "Kubota-han" on Edo 300 HTML (accessed 15 August 2008)
  5. ^ Karino, p. 8.
  6. ^ French, Through Closed Doors: Western Influence on Japanese Art 1639-1853, p. 124.
  7. ^ a b c "Akita ranga" on Japanese Architecture and Art Net Users System. Accessed 19 August 2008.
  8. ^ Karino, p. 9.
  9. ^ Zusetsu: Nihon meijō-shū, p. 14.
  10. ^ Onodera, Boshin nanboku sensō to Tōhoku seiken, p. 140.
  11. ^ Also known as Tomura Jūdayū.
  12. ^ Yamakawa, Aizu Boshin senshi, p. 319.
  13. ^ Yamakawa, p. 348.
  14. ^ July 4th by the lunisolar calendar.
  15. ^ a b Onodera, Boshin nanboku sensō to Tōhoku seiken, p. 193.
  16. ^ Hoshi, Ōuetsu Reppandōmei, p. 125-126.
  17. ^ Onodera, p. 156.
  18. ^ Hoshi, p. 125.
  19. ^ July 15th by the lunisolar calendar.
  20. ^ McClellan, Woman in the Crested Kimono, p. 104.
  21. ^ a b Onodera, p. 194.
  22. ^ a b Karino, p. 40.
  23. ^ Karino, p. 41.



  • French, Calvin L., et al. (1978). Through Closed Doors: Western Influence on Japanese Art 1639-1853. Rochester, Michigan: Oakland University.
  • Hoshi, Ryōichi (1997). Ōuetsu Reppandōmei. Tokyo: Chūōkōron-shinsha.
  • Karino, Tokuzō (1910). Satake-ke rekidai jiryaku 佐竹家歴代事略. Akita: Karino Sadakichi. (Accessed from National Diet Library, 17 August 2008)
  • McClellan, Edwin (1985). Woman in the Crested Kimono. New Haven: Yale University Press.
  • Naramoto, Tatsuya (1992). Nihon no kassen: monoshiri jiten. Tokyo: Shufu-to-seikatsusha.
  • Onodera, Eikō (2005). Boshin nanboku sensō to Tohoku seiken. Sendai: Kita no mori.
  • Saga, Jun'ichi (1987). Memories of Silk and Straw: A Self-Portrait of Small-Town Japan. New York: Kodansha International.
  • Sasaki, Suguru (2002). Boshin Senso: haisha no Meiji-ishin. Tokyo: Chuōkōron-shinsha.
  • Yamakawa Kenjirō (1933). Aizu Boshin senshi. Tokyo: Tokyo Daigaku shuppankai.
  • Zusetsu: Nihon meijō-shū (2003). Tokyo: Gakken.


See also[edit]