Tokugawa Ieyasu bigraphy, stories - Tokugawa shogun

Tokugawa Ieyasu : biography

January 31, 1543 - June 1, 1616

The [[Tokugawa clan crest]]

 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 remained in power until his death in 1616. His given name is sometimes spelled Iyeyasu, according to the historical pronunciation of we. Ieyasu was posthumously enshrined at Nikkō Tōshō-gū with the name .

Era of Ieyasu's rule

Ieyasu ruled directly as shogun or indirectly as Ōgosho (大御所) during the Keichō era (1596–1615).

Ieyasu and Hideyoshi (1584–1598)

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In 1584, Ieyasu decided to support Oda Nobukatsu, the eldest son and heir of Oda Nobunaga, against Hideyoshi. This was a dangerous act and could have resulted in the annihilation of the Tokugawa.

Tokugawa troops took the traditional Oda stronghold of Owari, Hideyoshi responded by sending an army into Owari. The Komaki Campaign was the only time any of the great unifiers of Japan fought each other: Hideyoshi vs. Ieyasu. The campaign proved indecisive and after months of fruitless marches and feints, Hideyoshi settled the war through negotiation. First he made peace with Oda Nobukatsu, and then he offered a truce to Ieyasu. The deal was made at the end of the year; as part of the terms Ieyasu's second son, O Gi Maru, became an adopted son of Hideyoshi.

Ieyasu's aide, Ishikawa Kazumasa, chose to join the pre-eminent daimyo and so he moved to Osaka to be with Hideyoshi. However, only a few other Tokugawa retainers followed this example.

Hideyoshi was understandably distrustful of Ieyasu, and five years passed before they fought as allies. The Tokugawa did not participate in Hideyoshi's successful invasions of Shikoku and Kyūshū.

In 1590 Hideyoshi attacked the last independent daimyo in Japan, Hōjō Ujimasa. The Hōjō clan ruled the eight provinces of the Kantō region in eastern Japan. Hideyoshi ordered them to submit to his authority and they refused. Ieyasu, though a friend and occasional ally of Ujimasa, joined his large force of 30,000 samurai with Hideyoshi's enormous army of some 160,000. Hideyoshi attacked several castles on the borders of the Hōjō clan with most of his army laying siege to the castle at Odawara. Hideyoshi's army captured Odawara after six months (oddly for the time period, deaths on both sides were few). During this siege, Hideyoshi offered Ieyasu a radical deal. He offered Ieyasu the eight Kantō provinces which they were about to take from the Hōjō in return for the five provinces that Ieyasu currently controlled (including Ieyasu's home province of Mikawa). Ieyasu accepted this proposal. Bowing to the overwhelming power of the Toyotomi army, the Hōjō accepted defeat, the top Hōjō leaders killed themselves and Ieyasu marched in and took control of their provinces, so ending the clan's reign of over 100 years.

Ieyasu now gave up control of his five provinces (Mikawa, Tōtōmi, Suruga, Shinano, and Kai) and moved all his soldiers and vassals to the Kantō region. He himself occupied the castle town of Edo in Kantō. This was possibly the riskiest move Ieyasu ever made — to leave his home province and rely on the uncertain loyalty of the formerly Hōjō samurai in Kantō. In the event, it worked out brilliantly for Ieyasu. He reformed the Kantō provinces, controlled and pacified the Hōjō samurai and improved the underlying economic infrastructure of the lands. Also, because Kantō was somewhat isolated from the rest of Japan, Ieyasu was able to maintain a unique level of autonomy from Hideyoshi's rule. Within a few years, Ieyasu had become the second most powerful daimyo in Japan. There is a Japanese proverb which likely refers to this event: "Ieyasu won the Empire by retreating."Sadler, A. L. (1937). The Maker of Modern Japan, p. 164.

In 1592, Hideyoshi invaded Korea as a prelude to his plan to attack China (see Japanese invasions of Korea [1592–1598] for more information about this campaign). The Tokugawa samurai never took part in this campaign. Early in 1593, Ieyasu was summoned to Hideyoshi's court in Nagoya (in Kyūshū, different from the similarly spelled city in Owari Province), as a military advisor. He stayed there, off and on for the next five years. Despite his frequent absences, Ieyasu's sons, loyal retainers and vassals were able to control and improve Edo and the other new Tokugawa lands.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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