Tokugawa Iesada

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In this Japanese name, the family name is Tokugawa.
Tokugawa Iesada
Tokugawa Iesada.jpg
13th Tokugawa Shogun
In office
Monarch Emperor Ninkō
Emperor Kōmei
Preceded by Tokugawa Ieyoshi
Succeeded by Tokugawa Iemochi
Personal details
Born (1824-05-06)6 May 1824
Died 14 August 1858(1858-08-14) (aged 34)
Spouse(s) Princess Atsu

Tokugawa Iesada (徳川 家定 (May 6, 1824 – August 14, 1858) was the 13th shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan. He held office for five years from 1853 to 1858. He was physically weak and was therefore considered unfit to be shogun.[1] His reign marks the beginning of the Bakumatsu period.

Shogun (1853–1858)[edit]

Having risen to power soon after the Black Ships episode, he is held to have been responsible for the Unequal Treaties (Convention of Kanagawa, Anglo-Japanese Friendship Treaty, Harris Treaty, Anglo-Japanese Treaty of Amity and Commerce) which broke the sakoku (isolation) policy and opened Japan to foreign influences. Kōmei, the reigning emperor at the time, was a major opponent of his policies. This strengthened the sonnō jōi movement.

Iesada was married to Princess Atsu, the adopted daughter of the daimyo of Satsuma, Shimazu Nariakira.

Ii Naosuke rose to the rank of tairō under him.

Iesada died childless in 1858, which caused factions within the bakufu to clash over the succession.[2] Tokugawa Nariaki of Mito, Satsuma and others wanted to see Tokugawa Yoshinobu as his successor, while the Ōoku and shogunate officials like Ii Naosuke supported Tokugawa Iemochi, and succeeded. These quarrels ended in the Ansei Purge.

Eras of Iesada's bakufu[edit]

The years in which Iesada was shogun are more specifically identified by more than one era name or nengō.

Western Encounters[edit]

Townsend Harris had an audience with him during the negotiations for the Harris Treaty.

In fiction[edit]

Tokugawa Iesada is featured in the 2008 NHK Taiga drama Atsuhime, which chronicles the life of his wife Tenshoin. He is portrayed by Masato Sakai. Iesada's portrayal in this series (unlike most other characterizations of him as an imbecile),[3] presents a romanticized (and largely-fictionalized) image him as a reasonable, if weak-willed individual, whose interactions with his wife Atsuhime pushed him to exert effort into his work as shogun.


  1. ^ Ravina, Mark. (2004). The Last Samurai: The Life and Battles of Saigo Takamori, pp. 62–63.
  2. ^ Jansen, Marius B. and John Whitney Hall, eds. (1989). The Cambridge History of Japan, p. 316.
  3. ^ See, for example, other contemporary taiga dramas such as Shinsengumi!, Ryomaden and Yae no Sakura which exaggerates his oddities and the apocryphal story of him chasing a duck within the Edo Castle compound.


Military offices
Preceded by
Tokugawa Ieyoshi
Edo Shogun:
Tokugawa Iesada

Succeeded by
Tokugawa Iemochi