Sakai Tadakatsu

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Sakai Tadakatsu (酒井 忠勝, July 21, 1587 – August 25, 1662), also known as Sanuki-no-kami[1] and Minamoto-no Tada katsou,[2] was tairō, rōjū, master of Wakasa-Obama castle (若狭国小浜城) and daimyo of Obama Domain in Wakasa Province in the mid-17th century.[3] As tairō, he was one of the two highest ranking bakufu officials in Tokugawa Japan from his elevation on November 7, 1638, through May 26, 1656.

The Sakai were identified as one of the fudai or insider daimyō clans which were hereditary vassals or allies of the Tokugawa clan,[4] in contrast with the tozama or outsider clans.

Sakai clan genealogy[edit]

Emblem (mon) of the Sakai clan

Tadakatsu was part of a cadet branch of the Sakai which had been created in 1590.[5]

The fudai Sakai clan originated in 14th century Mikawa Province.[5] The Sakai claim descent from Minamoto Arichika. Arichika had two sons: one of them, Yasuchika, took the name Matsudaira; and the other son, Chikauji, took the name Sakai—and this samurai ancestor is the progenitor of this clan's name.[3]

Sakai Hirochika, who was the son of Chikauji, had two sons, and their descendants gave rise to the two main branches of the Sakai clan. Hirochika's younger son, Sakai Masachika, served several Tokugawa clan leaders -- Nobutada, Kiyoyasu and Hirotada; and in 1561, Masachika was made master of Nishio Castle in Mikawa.[3]

Sakai Sigetada, who was the son of Masachika, received the fief of Kawagoe Domain in Musashi Province in 1590; and then in 1601, Sigetada was transferred to Umayabashi Domain in Kōzuke Province.[6]

Tadakatsu, who was Sigetada's son, was transferred in 1634 to Obama Domain in Wakasa Province where his descendants resided until the Meiji period.[6] In a gesture demonstrating special favor to the Sakai, the second shogun, Hidetada, allowed the use of his personal Tada- in the name Tadakatsu.[7]

The head of this clan line was ennobled as a "Count" in the Meiji period.[6]

Tokugawa official[edit]

The great office of Tairō was the highest ranking of advisor in the Edo period, and Tadakatsu was amongst the first to be appointed to this position of honor, trust and power.[8] Tadakatsu was a rōjū during the years from 1631 through 1638.[1]

  • Kan'ei 20, On 28 July 1643 ten sailors (including the captain) of the Dutch Ship Breskens were taken into custody by local Japanese Officials.[9] This happened after the Breskens had sailed unannounced into the Bay of Yamada in Northern Honshu, Japan one month ago around June 10.[10] The first time the Dutch ship had visited the Breskens had been seeking to resupply after a heavy storm, and the Dutch quickly left the Bay of Yamada after trading with the locals for two days.[11] However, due to self-imposed isolation policies and fear of Christian Missionaries the Japanese Authorities viewed this visit with alarm.[12] When the Breskens returned in July local officials lured the ten sailors from their ship and took them into custody to question them on their mission.[13] This sparked an international incident between Japan and its trading partner the Netherlands.

The "Nambu incident" alarmed Shogun Iemitsu, but the government's protracted responses were mitigated by the three men who were the shogun's most senior counselors (the rōjū): Sakai Tadakatsu, Matsudaira Nobutsuna, and Inoue Masashige. In effect, this comes to define who amongst Iemitsu's top advisers were principally responsible for Japan's foreign policy during the reign of the third shogun.[14] The fluid subtlety of the rōjō is illustrated in the thought-provoking debates of modern scholarship, e.g.,

Hesselink departs from his narrative of the Nambu incident to contribute to the significant debate about the nature of Japan's "seclusion" (sakoku) during the Tokugawa period. Recent scholarship, particularly that of Ronald Toby, has held that the intent behind the seclusion edicts of the 1630s was not to isolate Japan from all foreign contact, but to proactively use foreign relations as a means of establishing the bakufu's domestic legitimacy. Hesselink contests this characterization, arguing instead that Japan was genuinely isolated, and that the bakufu's foreign policy was less systematic and far-reaching than scholars have recently claimed. In one important respect, however, Hesselink's research reaffirms the claims of this recent scholarship. By showing how the Shogunal government went to such great lengths to use the Nambu incident to pressure the Dutch into sending an embassy to Edo, he illustrates how important it was to the bakufu to use diplomatic relations as a means of securing domestic legitimacy. What was for the Dutch merely a cynical gesture aimed at preserving their trade relations with East Asia was for the bakufu a real opportunity to parade twenty-two Dutchmen in red and white striped uniforms through the streets of Edo, thus impressing upon a domestic audience the fiction that the bakufu's authority was recognized throughout the world.[15]
  • Keian 5, 5th month (1652): Nihon Ōdai Ichiran (Nipon o dai itsi ran) is first published in Kyoto under the patronage of the tairō Sakai Tadakatsu, lord of the Obama Domain of Wakasa Province.[16] Tadakatsu was the patron of work first published in Kyoto in 1652. The first copy of this rare book was brought from Japan to Europe by Isaac Titsingh in 1796. Titsingh translated the text from Japanese and Chinese; and his work was then supplemented for posthumous publication by Julius Klaproth in 1834.[17] In supporting this work, Tadakatsu's motivations appear to spread across a range anticipated consequences; and it becomes likely that his several intentions in seeing that this specific work fell into the hands of an empathetic Western translator were similarly multi-faceted.[18]
  • The Lion Dance (Shishi-mai) is a still-popular folk dance imported to Wakasa from Mushu-Kawagoe (Kawagoe, Saitama Prefecture) by Sakai Tadakatsu when he and his descendants were first granted the han of Obama in the early 17th century. Three lions move heroically and elegants to the accompaniment of music played on Japanese flutes.[19] The traditional dance continues to be performed regularly during the Hoze Matsuri and the Osiro Matsuri.


  1. ^ a b Bodart-Bailey, Beatrice. (1999). Kaempfer's Japan: Tokugawa Culture Observed, p. 442.
  2. ^ Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). Annales des empereurs du Japon, pp. 412.
  3. ^ a b c Papinot, Edmund. (2003). Nobiliare du Japon -- Sakai, pp. 50–51; Papinot, Jacques Edmond Joseph. (1906). Dictionnaire d’histoire et de géographie du Japon. (in French/German).
  4. ^ Appert, Georges. (1888). Ancien Japon, pp. 76–77.
  5. ^ a b Appert, p. 76. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "a76" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  6. ^ a b c Papinot, p. 51.
  7. ^ Plutschow, Herbert. (1995). "Japan's Name Culture: The Significance of Names in a Religious, Political and Social Context, p.53.
  8. ^ Sansom, George Bailey. (1963). A History of Japan: 1615-1867, p. 22.
  9. ^ Hesselink, Reinier. Prisoners from Nambu: Reality and Make-Believe in 17th-Century Japanese Diplomacy. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2002. P. 43. Print.
  10. ^ Hesselink, Reinier. Prisoners from Nambu: Reality and Make-Believe in 17th-Century Japanese Diplomacy. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2002. P. 28. Print.
  11. ^ Hesselink, Reinier. Prisoners from Nambu: Reality and Make-Believe in 17th-Century Japanese Diplomacy. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2002. P. 29-30. Print
  12. ^ Hesselink, Reinier. Prisoners from Nambu: Reality and Make-Believe in 17th-Century Japanese Diplomacy. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2002. P. 10-11. Print.
  13. ^ Hesselink, Reinier. Prisoners from Nambu: Reality and Make-Believe in 17th-Century Japanese Diplomacy. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2002. P. 41-42. Print.
  14. ^ Hesselink, R. Prisoners from Nambu: Reality and Make-Believe in Seventeenth-Century Japanese Diplomacy, p. 120-122.
  15. ^ Platt, Brian. (2003). "Prisoners From Nambu: Reality and Make-Believe in 17th Century Japanese Diplomacy [book review]" in Pacific Affairs, Winter 2002/2003. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.
  16. ^ Titsingh, pp. 406, 412.
  17. ^ Screech, Timon. (2006). Secret Memoirs of the Shoguns: Isaac Titsingh and Japan, 1779-1822, pp. 1-4.
  18. ^ Yamshita, Samuel Hideo. "Yamasaki Ansai and Confucian School Relations, 1650-1675," Early Modern Japan. 9:2, 3-18 (Fall 2001).
  19. ^ Obama Shrine: Festivals in May. Jonai, Obama-shi.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Matsudaira Tadateru
Lord of Fukaya
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Sakai Tadatoshi
Lord of Kawagoe
Succeeded by
Hotta Masamori
Preceded by
Kyōgoku Tadataka
Lord of Obama
Succeeded by
Sakai Tadanao