|8th Edo Shogun|
Daimyo of Kii:
Daimyo of Kii:
|Born||November 27, 1684|
|Died||July 12, 1751(aged 66)|
Tokugawa Yoshimune (徳川 吉宗?, November 27, 1684 – July 12, 1751) was the eighth shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan, ruling from 1716 until his abdication in 1745. He was the son of Tokugawa Mitsusada, the grandson of Tokugawa Yorinobu, and the great-grandson of Tokugawa Ieyasu.
Yoshimune was not the son of any former shogun. Rather, he was a member of a cadet branch of the Tokugawa clan. Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate, well aware of the extinction of the Minamoto line in 1219, had realized that his direct descendants might die out, leaving the Tokugawa family at risk of extinction. Thus, while his son Tokugawa Hidetada was the second shogun, he selected three other sons to establish the gosanke, hereditary houses which would provide a shogun if there were no male heir. The three gosanke were the Owari, Kii, and Mito branches.
Yoshimune was from the branch of Kii. The founder of the Kii house was one of Tokugawa Ieyasu's sons, Tokugawa Yorinobu. Ieyasu appointed him daimyo of Kii. Yorinobu's son, Tokugawa Mitsusada, succeeded him. Two of Mitsusada's sons succeeded him, and when they died, Tokugawa Yoshimune, Mitsusada's fourth son, became daimyo of Kii in 1705. Later, he became shogun.
Yoshimune was closely related to the Tokugawa shoguns. His grandfather, Tokugawa Yorinobu, was a brother of second shogun Tokugawa Hidetada, while Yoshimune's father, Tokugawa Mitsusada, was a first cousin of third shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu. Yoshimune thus was a second cousin to the fourth and fifth shoguns (both brothers) Tokugawa Ietsuna and Tokugawa Tsunayoshi, as well as a second cousin to Tokugawa Tsunashige, whose son became Shogun Tokugawa Ienobu.
Early life (1684–1716)
Tokugawa Yoshimune was born in 1684 in the rich region of Kii, a region which was then ruled by his father, Tokugawa Mitsusada. Yoshimune's childhood name was Tokugawa Genroku. At that time, his second cousin Tokugawa Tsunayoshi was ruling in Edo as shogun. Kii was a rich region of over 500,000 koku, but it was still in debt. Even during Mitsusada's time, Kii was in deep debt and had a lot to pay back to the shogunate.
In 1697, Genroku underwent the rites of passage and took the name Tokugawa Shinnosuke. In 1705, when Shinnosuke was just 21 years old, his father Mitsusada and two older brothers died. Thus, the ruling shogun Tokugawa Ienobu appointed him daimyo of Kii. He took the name Tokugawa Yorikata and began to administer the province. Nonetheless, great financial debt which the domain had owed to the shogunate since his father's and even grandfather's time continued to burden the finances. What made things worse was that in 1707, a tsunami destroyed and killed many in the coastal areas of Kii Province. Yorikata did his best to try to stabilize things in Kii, but relied on leadership from Edo.
In 1712, Shogun Ienobu died, and was succeeded by his son, the boy-shogun Tokugawa Ietsugu. Yorikata decided that he could not rely on conservative Confucianists like Arai Hakuseki in Edo and did what he could to stabilize the Kii domain. Before he could implement changes, Shogun Ietsugu died in early 1716. He was only seven years old, and died without an heir. The other children of the late Shogun Ienobu were too young to rule, thus it was decided by the shogunate to select the next shogun from one of the cadet lines.
Yoshimune established the gosankyo to augment (or perhaps to replace) the gosanke. Two of his sons, together with the second son of his successor Ieshige, became the founders of the Tayasu, Hitotsubashi and Shimizu lines. Unlike the gosanke, they did not rule domains. Still, they remained prominent until the end of Tokugawa rule, and some later shoguns were chosen from the Hitotsubashi line.
Yoshimune also tried to resurrect the Japanese swordsmithing tradition. Since the beginning of Edo jidai, it was quite difficult for smiths to make a living and to be supported by Daimyō, because of the lack of funds. But Yoshimune was quite unhappy with this situation, causing a decline of skills. And so, he gathered smiths from Daimyō fiefs for a great contest, in 1721. The four winners who emerged were all great masters, Mondo no Shô Masakiyo (主水正正清), Ippei Yasuyo (一平安代), the 4th generation Nanki Shigekuni (南紀重国) and Nobukuni Shigekane (信国重包). But alas, it didn't worked well to arouse interest, quite like tournaments in modern Japan.
Yoshimune also ordered the compilation of Kyōhō Meibutsu Chō (享保名物帳), listing the best and most famous swords all over Japan. This book allowed the beginning of the Shinshintō period of Nihontō history, and indirectly contributed to the Gassan school, who protected the Nihontō tradition before and after the surrender of Japan.
Although foreign books had been strictly forbidden since 1640, Yoshimune relaxed the rules in 1720, starting an influx of foreign books and their translations into Japan, and initiating the development of Western studies, or rangaku.
In 1745, Yoshimune retired, took the title Ōgosho and left his public post to his oldest son. The title is the one that Tokugawa Ieyasu took on retirement in favor of his son Hidetada, who in turn took the same title on his retirement.
Eras of Yoshimune's rule
In popular media
Tokugawa Yoshimune was the central character of the long-running television series Abarenbo Shogun. This jidaigeki, which included a few factual aspects of Yoshimune's career while being mostly fiction. Yoshimune was portrayed in series by actor Ken Matsudaira, who reprised his role in the Kamen Rider OOO Wonderful: The Shogun and the 21 Core Medals movie and the Kamen Rider: Battride War II video game.
Yoshimune was also a minor character in the manga, Red Hot Chili Samurai by Yoshitsugu Katagiri.
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- Screech, p. 128.
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