Tsugaru Nobuhisa

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Tsugaru Nobumasa
Born (1669-06-22)June 22, 1669
Died March 10, 1746(1746-03-10) (aged 76)
Edo, Japan
Nationality Japanese
Occupation Daimyō of Hirosaki Domain (1656-1710)

Tsugaru Nobuhisa (津軽 信寿?, June 22, 1669 – March 10, 1746) was the 5th daimyō of Hirosaki Domain in northern Mutsu Province, Honshū, Japan (modern-day Aomori Prefecture). His courtesy title was Tosa-no-kami.


Tsugaru Nobuhisa was the eldest son of Tsugaru Nobumasa, 4th daimyō of Hirosaki Domain. His childhood name was Takechiyo, and his original adult name was Tsugaru Nobushige. On his accession to the lordship at the age of 43, he proclaimed seven days of mourning for his father’s death, followed by elaborate ceremonies enshrining his father at the Shinto shrine of Takateru Jinja in Hirosaki. Nobuhisa was a noted swordsman, having studied under the Onoha-ittoryu School while residing in Edo. He also studied Japanese calligraphy and Japanese painting under masters of the Kanō school as well. After his return to Hirosaki, in addition to continuing development of new paddy fields and irrigation works as started by his father and grandfather, he also commissioned art works and a history of the Tsugaru clan. He also successfully prosecuted a boundary dispute with the Tsugaru clan’s arch-rivals, the Nanbu clan of Morioka Domain, with the Tokugawa Shogunate ruling completely in the Tsugaru clan’s favor. This issue would resurface again in 107 years with the attempt in 1821 by Nanbu samurai to assassinate the Tsugaru daimyō.

However, against this background, Hirosaki Domain had serious financial issues. Inclement weather and repeated eruptions of Mount Iwaki resulted in repeated crop failures. The Domain cut the stipends for its retainers and raised taxes repeatedly to unsustainable levels, imposed stringent sumptuary laws, and finally was forced to send many of its lower level retainers away. On the other hand, Nobuhisa surrounded himself with sycophants at his Edo residence and continued to live a life of profligate luxury. Word of this reached the ears of Shogun Tokugawa Yoshimune, and influenced the sections of the Kyōhō Reforms emphasizing the need for frugality.

On May 16, 1731, Nobuhisa retired in favor of his grandson Nobuaki, then aged 13, and continued to rule behind-the-scenes. However, Nobuaki died in 1744, and Nobuhisa arranged to have his great-grandson Nobuyasu (age 6) appointed daimyō. Nobuhisa continued to rule behind-the-scenes until his death on March 10, 1746. Nobuhisa had 5 sons and 6 daughters. His grave is at the clan temple of Juyo-in in Taitō-ku, Tokyo.

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Preceded by
Tsugaru Nobumasa
5th Daimyo of Hirosaki
Succeeded by
Tsugaru Nobuaki