Park in Morioka with the ruins of Morioka Castle, seat of the main Nanbu family's domain.
|Home province||Kai Province|
|Founder||Minamoto no Mitsuyuki|
|Final ruler||Nanbu Toshiyuki|
|Current head||Toshifumi Nanbu|
|Founding year||13th century|
|Ruled until||1873 (Abolition of the han system)|
|Cadet branches||See below|
The Nanbu clan (南部氏 Nanbu-shi?) was a Japanese samurai clan originating in northern Japan, specifically Mutsu Province (the northeast coast of Honshū). The Nanbu claimed descent from the Minamoto clan, and its members first enter the historical record as residents of Kai Province during the Kamakura period. The clan later moved to Mutsu. In the Sengoku period, the clan frequently clashed with its neighbors, including the Tsugaru clan, one of its branches which declared independence. The Nanbu clan was on the winning side of the Battle of Sekigahara, and entered the Edo period as the lordly (daimyo) family of the Morioka Domain. Over the course of the Edo period, several branch families were established, each of which received its own fief.
During the Boshin War of 1868-69, the Nanbu clan and its branches fought on the side of the Ouetsu Reppan Domei, the northern alliance of domains. After the collapse of the alliance, the Nanbu clan had much of its land confiscated, and in 1871, the heads of its branches were relieved of office. In the Meiji era, they became part of the new nobility. The main Nanbu line survives to the present day; Toshiaki Nanbu was the chief priest of Yasukuni Shrine.
The Nanbu clan claimed descent from the Seiwa Genji, via the Takeda clan of Kai Province. Minamoto no Mitsuyuki, the great-great grandson of Minamoto no Yoshimitsu, was the first to take the Nanbu name, after the area in Kai where he resided. The earliest written reference to the Nanbu region of Kai is in the late-13th-century writings of the Buddhist monk Nichiren. It was in the Nanbokucho period that the Nanbu left Kai and moved to Mutsu Province, where they would remain until 1871.
Sengoku and Azuchi-Momoyama era
A major point of conflict for the Nanbu clan during these years was its relationship with the Ōura clan. The Ōura were a cadet branch of the Nanbu. They declared their independence from the Nanbu in 1571, during the headship of Ōura Tamenobu. Tamenobu had been vice-district magistrate (郡代補佐 gundai hosa?) under the Nanbu clan's local magistrate Ishikawa Takanobu; however, he attacked and killed Ishikawa and began taking the Nanbu clan's castles. Tamenobu also attacked Kitabatake Akimura (another local power figure) and took his castle at Namioka. The Ōura clan's fight against the Nanbu clan, under Nanbu Nobunao, would continue in the ensuing years. In 1590, Tamenobu pledged fealty to Toyotomi Hideyoshi; Hideyoshi confirmed Tamenobu in his holdings, effectively putting him out of the Nanbu clan's grasp. As the Ōura fief had been in the Tsugaru region on the northern tip of Honshū, the family then changed its name to Tsugaru.
Nanbu Harumasa's heir Nobunao pledged allegiance to Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1590. Hideyoshi confirmed Nobunao's lordship over the Nanbu fief, and helped suppress an uprising by Nobunao's relative Kunohe Masazane. Nobunao thus helped to secure northern Honshū for Toyotomi Hideyoshi.
The Nanbu clan sided with Tokugawa Ieyasu's Eastern Army during the Battle of Sekigahara. In the wake of Ieyasu's victory, the Nanbu clan was confirmed in its lordship of the Morioka Domain (盛岡藩 Morioka-han?) (also known as the Nanbu Domain (南部藩 Nanbu-han?)). The income rating was placed at 100,000 koku, but later in the Edo era, Morioka was given the political ranking of a domain twice its size. The Nanbu clan remained here for the entirety of the Edo Period, surviving until the Meiji Restoration. Over the course of the Edo period, two new branches of the Nanbu clan were founded. One of them was granted the fief of Hachinohe, and the other one was granted the fief of Shichinohe. In 1821, the old tensions between the Nanbu and Tsugaru flared once more, in the wake of the Sōma Daisaku Incident (相馬大作事件 Sōma Daisaku jiken?), a foiled plot by Sōma Daisaku, a former retainer of the Nanbu clan, to assassinate the Tsugaru lord. The Nanbu clan's territories were also among those effected by the Tenpo famine of the mid-1830s.
Though no Nanbu lord ever held shogunate office, the Nanbu of Morioka (together with many of the other domains of northern Honshū) assisted the shogunate in policing the frontier region of Ezochi (now Hokkaido). The clan's first direct encounter with foreigners came in the late 16th century, when a Dutch ship, the Breskens, arrived in Nanbu territory. A shore party from the ship was captured by local authorities and taken to Edo.
Over the course of its history particularly in the Edo period, there were several retainers of the Nanbu clan who became famous on a national scale. Narayama Sado, a clan elder (karō) who was active during the Boshin War, was one of them; he was responsible for leading the Nanbu clan's political activity and interaction with neighboring domains. Hara Takashi, who later became Prime Minister of Japan, was another. Some 20th-century figures in Japanese politics also came from families of former Nanbu retainers; perhaps the most well known ones were Seishirō Itagaki and Hideki Tōjō.
During the Boshin War of 1868-69, the Nanbu clan was initially neutral. However, under the leadership of Nanbu Toshihisa and the clan elder (家老, karō) Narayama Sado, the Nanbu clan later sided with the northern alliance (the Ōuetsu Reppan Dōmei). On September 23, 1868, the Nanbu clan's troops joined in the attack on the Akita Domain, which had seceded from the alliance and sided with the imperial government. By October 7, Nanbu troops took Ōdate, one of the Akita domain's castles. However, due to the collapse of the alliance, the Nanbu clan surrendered to the imperial army on October 29, 1868. After the war, the Nanbu clan's holdings were drastically reduced by the imperial government as punishment for siding with the northern domains. The Nanbu of Morioka were then briefly moved to Shiroishi before being returned to Morioka. Two years after the war, as with all other daimyo, the heads of all three Nanbu branches were relieved of their offices by the abolition of the han system.
Meiji era and beyond
In the early years of the Meiji era, the main Nanbu line was ennobled with the title of count (hakushaku) in the new nobility system. The Nanbu of Hachinohe and Shichinohe were also ennobled with the title of viscount (shishaku). Count Toshinaga Nanbu, the 42nd generation Nanbu family head, was an officer of the Imperial Japanese Army, he died in battle during the Russo-Japanese War. He was succeeded by his brother Toshiatsu; Toshiatsu was a proponent of the arts and studied painting under Kuroda Seiki. As Toshiatsu's presumptive heir Toshisada died at age 18, Toshiatsu adopted Toshihide Ichijō, his son-in-law, as his heir. Toshihide was the son of Duke Ichijō Saneteru, who was a former court noble. Upon adoption, Toshihide assumed the Nanbu name, and after Toshiatsu's death, became 44th generation Nanbu family head. After Toshihide's death in 1980, his son Toshiaki became 45th generation head. From 2004 through 2009, Toshiaki was the chief priest of Yasukuni Shrine.
Branch line (Hachinohe)
Branch line (Shichinohe)
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