Tokugawa Ieyoshi

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In this Japanese name, the family name is Tokugawa.
Tokugawa Ieyoshi
Tokugawa Ieyoshi.JPG
12th Tokugawa Shogun
In office
Monarch Emperor Ninkō
Emperor Kōmei
Preceded by Tokugawa Ienari
Succeeded by Tokugawa Iesada
Personal details
Born (1793-06-22)22 June 1793
Died 27 July 1853(1853-07-27) (aged 60)

Tokugawa Ieyoshi (徳川 家慶?, June 22, 1793–July 27, 1853; r.1837–1853) was the 12th shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan.[1]


Ieyoshi was the second son of the 11th shogun, Tokugawa Ienari, and was appointed heir on the death of his elder brother, Takechiyo. He became shogun on September 2, 1837 at the age of 45 upon the retirement of his father, Tokugawa Ienari. However, Ienari continued to wield much power from behind the throne, and it was not until after his death in 1841 that Senior Rōjū Mizuno Tadakuni was able to purge the government of his clique, and to implement measures to overhaul the shogunate’s finances and controls in the aftermath of the Great Tempo Famine of 1832-36.

Known as the Tenpo Reform, these numerous sumptuary laws attempted to stabilize the economy, through a return to the frugality, simplicity and discipline that were characteristic from the early Edo period by banning most forms of entertainment and displays of wealth. The restrictions proved extremely unpopular with the commoners.

Increasing criticism of the government’s handling of foreign affairs led to the Bansha no goku in 1839, suppressing rangaku studies.

Another part of the Reform included the Agechi-rei of 1843, which was to have daimyō in the vicinity of Edo and Ōsaka surrender their holdings for equal amounts of land elsewhere, thereby consolidating Tokugawa control over these strategically vital areas. However, this was also greatly unpopular amongst daimyō of all ranks and income levels. To complicate the situation further, in May 1844, Edo Castle burned down, and Mizuno Tadakuni was forced into exile and retirement. Mizuno was replaced by Doi Yoshitsura, Abe Masahiro and Tsutsui Masanori as rōjū. He forced the retirement of Tokugawa Nariaki in 1844 and placed Nariaki’s seventh son, Tokugawa Yoshinobu as head of the Hitotsubashi-Tokugawa house in 1847. He also forced the retirement of Shimazu Narioki in 1851.

U.S. Commodore Matthew Perry arrived on June 3, 1853, on a mission was to force a treaty opening Japan to American trade. Ieyoshi died on June 22, 1853 before the treaty could be concluded, of heart failure possibly brought on by heat stroke, and was succeeded by his third son Tokugawa Iesada. The following year the Tokugawa shogunate was forced to accept the American demands by signing the Convention of Kanagawa.

Tokugawa Ieyoshi’s grave is at the Tokugawa family mausoleum at Zōjō-ji in Shiba.

Ieyoshi's commemorative memorial at Zōjō-ji


Ieyoshi’s official wife was Princess Takako (1795-1840), the sixth daughter of Prince Arisugawa Orihito. She relocated to Edo Castle in 1804 when she was only age 10, and they were formally wed in 1810. In 1813, she gave birth to a son, Takechiyo, followed by a daughter in 1815 and in 1816. In addition, Ieyoshi had another 13 sons and 11 daughters by numerous concubines; however, only one son, Tokugawa Iesada, lived past the age of 20.

Events of Ieyoshi's bakufu[edit]

Eras of Ieyoshi's bakufu[edit]

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

In popular culture[edit]

Tokugawa Ieyoshi is a minor character in Stephen Sondheim's musical "Pacific Overtures," although he is not named. In a departure from history, the musical depicts him being murdered by his mother for political reasons, using poisoned chrysanthemum tea.

He is also a minor character in the first two Nemuri Kyoshiro made-for-TV specials starring Tamura Masakazu.


  1. ^ a b c d Hall, John Whitney et al. (1991). Early Modern Japan, p. 21.


External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Tokugawa Ienari
Edo Shogun:
Tokugawa Ieyoshi

Succeeded by
Tokugawa Iesada