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Tokugawa Ienobu

Tokugawa Ienobu

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was the sixth shogun
A was one of the hereditary military dictators of Japan from 1192 to 1867. In this period, the shoguns, or their shikken regents , were the de facto rulers of Japan though they were nominally appointed by the emperor...

 of the Tokugawa dynasty
Tokugawa shogunate
The Tokugawa shogunate, also known as the and the , was a feudal regime of Japan established by Tokugawa Ieyasu and ruled by the shoguns of the Tokugawa family. This period is known as the Edo period and gets its name from the capital city, Edo, which is now called Tokyo, after the name was...

 of Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

. He was the eldest son of Tokugawa Tsunashige, thus making him the nephew of Tokugawa Ietsuna
Tokugawa Ietsuna
was the fourth shogun of the Tokugawa dynasty of Japan who was in office from 1651 to 1680. He was the eldest son of Tokugawa Iemitsu, thus making him the grandson of Tokugawa Hidetada and the great-grandson of Tokugawa Ieyasu.-Early Life :...

 and Tokugawa Tsunayoshi
Tokugawa Tsunayoshi
was the fifth shogun of the Tokugawa dynasty of Japan. He was the younger brother of Tokugawa Ietsuna, thus making him the son of Tokugawa Iemitsu, the grandson of Tokugawa Hidetada, and the great-grandson of Tokugawa Ieyasu....

, the grandson of Tokugawa Iemitsu
Tokugawa Iemitsu
Tokugawa Iemitsu was the third shogun of the Tokugawa dynasty. He was the eldest son of Tokugawa Hidetada, and the grandson of Tokugawa Ieyasu. Iemitsu ruled from 1623 to 1651.-Early life :...

, the great-grandson of Tokugawa Hidetada
Tokugawa Hidetada
was the second shogun of the Tokugawa dynasty, who ruled from 1605 until his abdication in 1623. He was the third son of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate.-Early life :...

, and the great-great grandson of Tokugawa Ieyasu
Tokugawa Ieyasu
 was the founder and first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan , which ruled from the Battle of Sekigahara  in 1600 until the Meiji Restoration in 1868. Ieyasu seized power in 1600, received appointment as shogun in 1603, abdicated from office in 1605, but...


Early life (1662-1694)

Tokugawa Ienobu was born as the youngest son of Tokugawa Tsunashige, daimyo
is a generic term referring to the powerful territorial lords in pre-modern Japan who ruled most of the country from their vast, hereditary land holdings...

of Kofu, in 1662. His mother was a concubine. Tsunashige was the middle brother of Tokugawa Ietsuna and Tokugawa Tsunayoshi, thus making Ienobu their nephew. In 1662, Ienobu's uncle, Ietsuna was shogun, and his father, Tsunashige, was daimyo of Kofu, a very valuable piece of land to the Tokugawa.

Not much is known of Ienobu's early life except that he was expected to become the next daimyo of Kofu after the death of his father. However, after Tokugawa Ietsuna had died in 1680, and his other uncle, Tokugawa Tsunayoshi succeeded the bakufu, Tsunayoshi's failure to preduce a male heir made the chances of Ienobu much higher to become shogun. Nonetheless, for the time being, Ienobu was not being groomed to succeed to the shogunate but rather to succeed his father Tsunashige as daimyo of Kofu.

Finally, in 1678 Tokugawa Tsunashige died. Thus, Tokugawa Ienobu succeeded him as daimyo of Kofu. He became very powerful there, since his uncle was the shogun.

In 1694, a ronin
A or rounin was a Bushi with no lord or master during the feudal period of Japan. A samurai became masterless from the death or fall of his master, or after the loss of his master's favor or privilege....

, Arai Hakuseki
Arai Hakuseki
was a Confucianist, scholar-bureaucrat, academic, administrator, writer and politician in Japan during the middle of the Edo Period, who advised the Shogun Tokugawa Ienobu. His personal name was Kinmi or Kimiyoshi . Hakuseki was his pen name...

, was appointed as personal tutor and advisor to Ienobu. Hakuseki used to be a teacher in Edo
, also romanized as Yedo or Yeddo, is the former name of the Japanese capital Tokyo, and was the seat of power for the Tokugawa shogunate which ruled Japan from 1603 to 1868...

, but was recommended by the philosopher Kinoshita Junan to become personal tutor to Ienobu and was summoned to Ienobu's Edo residence. Until 1709, when Ienobu became shogun, it is thought that Hakuseki gave him 2000 lectures on the Chinese classics and Confucianism. Hakuseki became a great advisor to Ienobu until the end of his life.

It was also great training for Ienobu, since even Shogun Tsunayoshi was a great patron of the Chinese classics and of Neo-Confucianism. Hakuseki also wrote a book for Ienobu, known as the Hankampu covering the history of various fiefs from 1600 until 1680.

Shogun Ienobu (1709-1712)

In 1709, Shogun Tsunayoshi died without a male heir. In genealogical terms, it would have appeared reasonable for the daimyo of Kofu, Tokugawa Ienobu, to be elevated to the role of shogun because he was the only remaining direct lineal descendant of Tokugawa Ieyasu. However, this was a secondary factor in the context of intra-bakufu politics which were carried over from the last days of the Tsunayoshi bakufu. The ultimate resolution of any questions about shogunal succession were probably influenced most effectively by the fact that Ienobu was the expressed preference of the late Shogun Tsunayoshi's wife.

Shogun Ienobu immediately began to reform certain elements of Japanese society. It is often said that he transformed the bakufu from a military to a civilian institution, which was already in the making during the rule of Ietsuna and Tsunayoshi. He started off by abolishing the controversial laws and edicts of Tsunayoshi. The chamberlains, who were given strict power by Tsunayoshi, had all power withdrawn from their hands. Also, in 1710, Shogun Ienobu revised the Buke-Sho-Hatto, where language was improved. Also censorship was discontinued, and Ienobu told his subordinates that the thoughts and feelings of the populace should reach the high levels of the bakufu. This is thought to be Hakuseki's influence. Cruel punishments and persecutions were discontinued, and the judicial system was also reformed.

However there was one remnant of Shogun Tsunayoshi's rule which was not done away with. Neo-Confucianism was still popular and patronized, also thanks to Hakuseki's influence, since he had longed lectured Ienobu on the Confucian classics. Economic reform also was ensured, and the gold coin was created to stabilize the economy.

Shogun Ienobu was one of the first shoguns in centuries to actually try to significantly improve relations with the emperor and court in Kyoto
is a city in the central part of the island of Honshū, Japan. It has a population close to 1.5 million. Formerly the imperial capital of Japan, it is now the capital of Kyoto Prefecture, as well as a major part of the Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto metropolitan area.-History:...

. In 1711, the Fujiwara regent, Konoe Motohiro
Konoe Motohiro
, Tajimaru in his childhood, was a kugyō or Japanese court noble of the Edo period . He held a regent position kampaku from 1690 to 1703.-Early life and family:He was a son of regent Konoe Hisatsugu and a concubine of his...

, arrived in Edo from Kyoto to be the mediator for talks between Shogun Ienobu and Emperor Nakamikado
Emperor Nakamikado
was the 114th emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession.Nakamikado's reign spanned the years from 1709 through 1735.-Genealogy:...

 and his nobles (in Kyoto). Ienobu took the lead, but Motohiro also appears to have asserted himself. After the talks were over, it was decided that younger sons of emperors do not have to enter priesthood and can form new branches of the imperial throne and that their daughters can marry (in fact, one of the younger daughters of Emperor Nakamikado married one of Shogun Ienobu's younger sons) and that the bakufu would offer financial grants to the court. Many court ceremonies were also revived. Thus, during the rule of Shogun Ienobu, relations with the court were fairly good.

Shogun Ienobu died at the age of 51 in Shōtoku 2, on the 14th day of the 10th month (1712). He was succeeded by his infant son, Tokugawa Ietsugu
Tokugawa Ietsugu
Tokugawa Ietsugu; 徳川 家継 was the seventh shogun of the Tokugawa Dynasty, who ruled from 1713 until his death in 1716...

. The successor was not the son who had married an imperial princess - that was a younger son. Ietsugu became the seventh shogun. He continued to employ Hakuseki as his advisor.

Eras of Ienobu's bakufu

The years in which Ienobu was shogun are more specifically identified by more than one era name or nengō.
  • Hōei
    was a after Genroku and before Shōtoku. This period spanned the years from March 1704 through April 1711. The reigning emperors were and .-Change of era:...

  • Shōtoku
    Shotoku (era)
    was a after Hōei and before Kyōhō. This period spanned the years from April 1711 through June 1716. The reigning emperor was .-Change of Era:...


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