Date Tsunamune

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Date Tsunamune
Date Tunamune.jpg
Portrait of Date Tsunamune
Native name 伊達忠宗
Born (1640-09-23)September 23, 1640
Died July 19, 1711(1711-07-19) (aged 70)
Edo, Japan
Burial place Zuihōden, Sendai, Miyagi, Japan
Nationality Japanese
Predecessor Date Tadamune
Successor Date Tsunamura
  • Date Tadamura (father)
  • Kai-hime (mother)
Daimyō of Sendai Domain
In office

Date Tsunamune (伊達 綱宗, 23 September 1640 – 19 July 1711) was an early Edo period Japanese samurai, and the 3rd daimyō of Sendai Domain in northern Japan from 1658 to 1660, and the 19th hereditary chieftain of the Date clan. Tsunamune’s succession and rule was soon opposed by a number of his kinsmen and vassals. This dispute eventually led to the Date Sōdō or "Date Disturbance" of 1671, which has been retold in theatre, and has become one of the more well-known tales of unrest and disunity among the daimyō of the Edo period.


Tsunamune was the sixth son of Date Tadamune by a concubine (Kai-hime, the maternal aunt of Emperor Go-Sai, which thus made him cousin with the Emperor). His courtesy title was Sakonoe-gon-shōshō (General of the Left Guards), and his Court rank was Junior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade. On the death of his father, he became daimyō and Mutsu-no-kami at the age of 18.

Due to his inexperience and his love of sake and women, rumours soon spread that he was unfit to govern. The center of opposition was his uncle, Date Munekatsu, daimyō of Ichinoseki Domain and Date Masamune’s 10th son), who suborned many of Tsunamune’s retainers. In 1660, this clique of vassals and kinsman made a successful appeal to the rōjū to have Tsunemune removed from office and placed under house arrest in Edo under the charges of public drunkenness and debauchery while he was visiting the capital on sankin-kōtai and to supervise corvée labor on a canal.[1] He was replaced in Sendai by his infant son, Date Tsunamura, then only age one. The actual government of Sendai Domain was turned over to Date Munekatsu and to Tamura Muneyoshi as guardians.[2]

This event was the start of the Date Sōdō, which became a favorite theme of popular fiction, including bunraku and kabuki.

According to one of the most popular legends, the scheming Date Munekatsu took the impressionable young Tsunamune to the licensed quarters of Yoshiwara, where he passionately fell in love with a prostitute, Takao. However, Takao was already pledged to marry a rōnin when her time at the brothel had expired and she rejected Tsunamune's offers. Undeterred, he offered to buy her contract in gold equal to her weight. The unscrupulous brothel-keeper added weights to her sleeves, so that he had to pay more than 165 pounds of gold. However, when he came to take her to the Date residence, she tried to throw herself in the river rather than go with him. Furious, Tsunamura pulled her from the river by her hair and stabbed her in the heart. His uncle and the other conspirators seized this opportunity to denounce him to the officials of wanton behavior and force his retirement. This story was the basis of many bunraku and kabuki plays, and attracted an extraordinary number of researchers over the years who have tried to determine if there was any truth in the story. It appears that Tsunamura did visit Yoshiwara and was enamoured by the prostitute named Takao, but she died in 1659 of illness and not by his hand.[3]

While Tsunamune remained under house arrest, the domain suffered greatly under the corrupt rule of Munekatsu and Muneyoshi. After ten years of violence and conflict, Aki Muneshige, a relative of the Date clan and retainer of Tsunamune managed to register a complaint to the shogunate officials about the mismanagement of the domain. Aki and various domain officials were summoned before the rōjū and the Tairō Sakai Tadakiyo to testify. Testimony between Aki and the retainers of Munekatsu and Muneyoshi did not agree, and the testimony of Munekatsu’s retainer Harada Munesuke made a particularly poor impression. Harada then murdered Aki before further testimony could be given, before being killed himself by the guards.

The court ruled in favor of Aki. The young Date Tsunamura was allowed to remain daimyō; however, his uncles Munekatsu and Muneyoshi were removed from office.

As for Tsunamune, he lived the next 50 years in loose house arrest at the clan residence in the Ōi area of Edo, devoting his time to the arts, studying painting under Kanō Tan'yū, calligraphy, waka poetry, Maki-e lacquerware and even learning to forge Japanese swords. A number of his works are on display at The Miyagi Museum of Art. He died in Edo in 1711, but his grave was at the Date clan mausoleum of Zuihōden in Sendai. His mortuary temple was destroyed in 1945 during the Bombing of Sendai during World War II, and reconstructed in 1981. His body was so well preserved that an autopsy could be performed, revealing that he had a height of 158 cm and blood type A+, and had died of oral cancer.


  • Father: Date Tadamune
  • Mother: Kii-hime (1624–1642)
  • Concubines:
    • Misawa Hatsuko (1640–1686)
    • Seiun'in
    • Ohari no Kata
    • Yosei'in
    • Okayo no Kata
    • Bo-dono
    • Otome no Kata
  • Children:
    • Date Tsunamura by Misawa Hatsuko
    • Date Murayori (1661–1772) by Misawa Hatsuko
    • Date Muneyun (1665–1771) by Misawa Hatsuko
    • Kiyoko married Date Harusane later married Date Harusada by Seiun'in
    • Sanhime married Nakamura Moriyoshi by Seiun'in
    • Date Muranao (1666–1709) by Seiun’in
    • Senhime by Ohari no Kata
    • Ruihime married Date Muramoto by Ohari no Kata
    • Chiehime married Tachibana Sadaakira by Ohari no Kata
    • Kirahime married Honda Yasunobu by Yosei'in
    • Nabehime by Yosei'in
    • Kikunosuke by Yosei'in
    • Musuhime by Yosei'in
    • Kichiro by Bo-dono
    • Onohime by Okayo no Kata
    • Yuhime by Otome no Kata

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Turnbull, Stephen (1989). Samurai Warlords, London: Blandford Press, p. 117.
  2. ^ Sansom, George (1963). A History of Japan: 1615–1867 Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. p. 65.
  3. ^ Seigle, Cecilia Segawa, Yoshiwara: The Glittering World of the Japanese Courtesan, University of Hawaii Press, pages 59–61
  • Papinot, Edmond. (1948). Historical and Geographical Dictionary of Japan. New York: Overbeck Co.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Date Tadamune
Take ni Suzume.svg 3rd (Date) Daimyō of Sendai
Succeeded by
Date Tsunamura