( 1543 - 1616 )


Tokugawa Ieyasu

Silk doll of Tokugawa Ieyasu, 2005

MEMO: Tokugawa

Tokugawa Ieyasu

Tokugawa Ieyasu according to a fan, 2005



The man who has given this messy old planet the Tokugawa shoguns was one heck of a patriarch. He started life in the most unimaginable atmosphere: in 1548, after his 5th birthday, Tokugawa Ieyasu was sent far away from home to be a hostage -- a usual practice at the time to ensure loyalty of the parents -- a long sad journey from Okazaki, Mikawa (part of today's Aichi), to Sumpu, Suruga (now Shizuoka -- click here for pictures).

His ancestors might have just wept on the other side of existence. They all started as the mighty Minamoto clan, Ieyasu's family; Minamoto Yoshikuni once brought up the clan known as the Matsudaira. After the year 1300 this clan that later got known as the Tokugawas settled up in Mikawa. Ieyasu himself still used the name 'Matsudaira Motoyasu' those days. It didn't matter what name he was to be addressed as -- the fact remained the same: in his life until that day, his clan was nothing but a sorry contingent of the once-so-great Minamotos.

When Tokugawa Ieyasu endured his trail of tears, the Tokugawas were members of a small clan with no surplus of resources that time; the Lord of Suruga, Imagawa Yoshimoto, who was also a descendant of the Minamotos, was oh-so-powerful in their eyes. Mikawanese were known as truly proud people, unscrupulous when it came to provincialism, and never flinched when facing much larger number of enemy. But peace was better than an all-out display of the stereotype. So Ieyasu never saw his hometown again for more than a decade. Imagawa forced him to marry one of his myriad nieces, so that the bride could spy on Tokugawa Ieyasu and his clan. Although very busy writing reports of everything that her husband did and said, Lady Imagawa Tsukiyama, that's her name, somehow managed to give birth to Tokugawa Ieyasu's first son when the hostage-dad was still 17 years old. This son would be Oda Nobunaga's son in-law.

As an in-law, Tokugawa got no better place there in Sumpu; everyone kept reminding him that he was still a hostage. All alone, Tokugawa's silence became habitual, and he learnt to hide what's on his mind from everybody. Trusting no one (and this was reciprocal), he relied on his loyal vassals in Mikawa for news from the outer side of the walls. Once in a while a Tokugawa ninja would update Lord Hostage's info of what's going on; most of the time this didn't validate the news gotten by the Imagawa clan, or ran exactly the opposite of that. After one such an updating session (a ninja stealthily went into Tokugawa's room), Imagawa happened to invite everybody to a war planning. Since their commander was a hostage, the Tokugawa army in Mikawa automatically served Imagawa's case when summoned. Imagawa wanted to pave the route to power (literally to Kyoto), like other warlords before and after him.

Tokugawa thought the Imagawa men were fine enough to try this out, but there was an upstart out there by the name of Oda Nobunaga, whom everyone dubbed 'Lord Fool' ('baka-dono' in Japanese) but actually he seemed to have some scary schemes of his own. Imagawa and all his Generals and allies laughed at Tokugawa's advice to get extra-cautious when crossing (i.e. burning, looting and killing through) Oda Nobunaga's territory in Owari -- which Imagawa must do in order to get to Kyoto. "That clown wouldn't be able to entertain my men with any good fight," said Imagawa, "we will cross his province like kids going on a picnic."

History proved just how grossly wrong Imagawa was, by neglecting Tokugawa Ieyasu's caution. Oda Nobunaga got really mad at the way Imagawa saw the whole thing, and at the famous battle of Okehazama the Imagawa army paid this error of judgment with thousands of lives -- including Imagawa Yoshimoto's. The Imagawa clan lost so devastatingly much that Tokugawa Ieyasu was now free to get back to Mikawa. There he waited, patience being his middle name, for a chance to move on. He was only somewhere around 20 anyway.

Later he joined Oda Nobunaga in most campaigns to put Japan under one banner. It was Oda who proposed this alliance to him. Like when picking up Toyotomi Hideyoshi from literal dust in the street (click here for more about this), Oda was a genius in scanning people's capabilities even when they were nowhere being hinted at. The younger Tokugawa got all he needed -- patient, tough, silent, there's nothing whimsical, nothing impetuous, and he was great in administerial stuff. So the alliance came into being, and it worked amazingly beyond everyone's expectations -- or misgivings. Oda died before his work was finished. Toyotomi took up all the rest. In 1603, Tokugawa Ieyasu reigned, and his clan stayed put until 1868. When he abdicated in favor of his son Tokugawa Hidetada, he retired to no other place but Sumpu, Suruga -- right where he started from. This inimitable manowar died peacefully in 1616.


Oda, Tokugawa, Toyotomi cartoon
This 2004 Korean cartoon represents how the three most famous Japanese warlords have been seen
since the end of 1500's until this minute:
Oda Nobunaga is getting mad at Toyotomi Hideyoshi
(who shakes all over and yet retorts), while Tokugawa Ieyasu is trying to calm them both down.

All & Everything About Oda Nobunaga | Story & Pictures of Toyotomi Hideyoshi

Click here for detailed and complete maps of Japan, all the provinces, locations of battles, and warlords' domains.


"Oda Nobunaga pounded the rice," 17th-century Japanese kids used to sing out loud, "Toyotomi Hideyoshi baked the dough, and Tokugawa Ieyasu ate the cake."

That was about all that I can say about THE Tokugawa of this clan, aside from the fact that he named himself (he petitioned the Emperor to let him change his name from 'Matsudaira Motoyasu' into 'Tokugawa Ieyasu' in 1566). The old name means 'Matsudaira the town of calmness' (the clan's name was only borrowed from a place's name). While the new full name that Tokugawa Ieyasu chose means more or less 'house of peace at the bamboo river'.



click here


Tokugawa map
Tokugawa Ieyasu's map of 1603 after utterly crushing the Toyotomi loyalists at Sekigahara
and established the shogunate at Edo (today's Tokyo)




click here





Just in case you are a student or something, and were actually looking for a complete profile of the Oda, Tokugawa & Toyotomi clans -- year by year, person by person, death by death, from one battle to another, and so on -- and then you misclicked and got stranded here instead of the Library of Congress, click the button at your right for the Oda clan's 4 generations of exploits -- from Oda Nobunaga's rather clueless daddy to Oda Nobunaga's underachieving grandsons. Biography of Tokugawa Ieyasu can't get separated from Oda's and Toyotomi's, so it is all there.

click here



T H E----T O K U G A W A----C L A N----H A S----S O M E T H I N G----T O----D O----W I T H---T H E S E

Honda Heihachi   Sanada Yukimura   Miyamoto Musashi   Oda Nobunaga   Sasaki Kojiro
Asano Naganori   Ishida Mitsunari   Toyotomi Hideyoshi   Oishi Kuranosuke   Yagyu Munenori
Tokugawa Ieyasu   Tokugawa Iemitsu   Tokugawa Hidetada   Tokugawa Tsunayoshi   Yagyu Jubei
Matsudaira Nobutsuna   Takeda Shingen   Tokugawa Yoshinobu   Toyotomi Hideyori   The 47 Ronins
Amakusa Tokisada   Uesugi Kagekatsu   Imagawa Yoshimoto   Kobayakawa Hideaki   Ukita Hideie
Mori Terumoto   Maeda Toshiie   Sekigahara Battle   The Minamoto Clan   The Shinsengumi
Sakai Tadatsugu   Tokugawa Ancestors   Osaka Battle   Shimabara Revolt   Nemesis



click here


Tokugawa Yoshinobu

Tokugawa Yoshinobu,
the last Shogun on earth
as played by the actor Masahiro Motoki
in a movie titled his name
(I mean not 'Masahiro')

Tokugawa Yoshinobu
Tokugawa clan for three generations
the TV series
Aoi, Three Generations of Tokugawa
(2000), starring Tsugawa Masahiko.









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