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Maeda clan (前田氏 Maeda-shi) was a branch of the Sugawara clan who descended from Sugawara no Kiyotomo and Sugawara no Michizane in the eighth and ninth centuries. It was one of the most powerful samurai families in Japan and they were second only to the Tokugawa clan in rice production and fief size. They became daimyo during the Edo period.
Perhaps the most famous member of this clan was Maeda Toshiie (1538–1599), son of Toshimasa. Toshiie was one of the leading generals under Oda Nobunaga, and later fought against the late Hōjō clan under the command of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Oyama Shrine, dedicated in his honor, can be seen in Kanazawa. Another notable member of the family was Maeda Toshimasu, commonly known as Maeda Keiji. Though he was biologically the son of Takigawa Kazumasu, he was adopted by Maeda Toshihisa, the older brother of Maeda Toshiie. He was recognized as a renowned warrior. According to legend, he broke the front line of the Mogami clan leading a group of just eight riders during a battle in which he fought for the Uesugi clan.
Toshiie divided his fief among his sons. His eldest son Toshinaga participated in the Battle of Sekigahara and built Kanazawa Castle; he was noted for being the wealthiest daimyo in Tokugawa Japan with over 1.2 million koku (Turnbull, 1998). Other sons included Toshimasa and an adopted brother named Toshitsune, both of whom fought in the Siege of Osaka.
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