Tokugawa Yoshinao(January 2, 1601 – June 5, 1650)
First Lord of the Owari Domain and of Nagoya Castle
Tokugawa Yoshinao was the ninth son of Tokugawa Ieyasu, born in Osaka Castle January 2, 1601. At age six, he was made master of Kiyosu Castle (Aichi Prefecture) and in 1612, when the nearby Nagoya Castle was completed, 11 year-old Yoshinao became the Lord of Owari Domain and Nagoya Castle. The Tokugawa clan had been organized into three main families, the Kii, Mito and Owari clans, from which a shogun could be chosen should there ever be a succession problem. The most important both politically and financially was the Owari Tokugawa clan.
A talented swordsman, he commenced training in the Yagyu Shinkage style under Yagyu Hyogonosuke, rising the rank of Soke at the age of 21. Yoshinao and Hyogonosuke developed a number of original moves that formed the still existing and practiced style of Owari Yagyu Shinkage Ryu.
In the 1620’s the famed swordsman Miyamoto Musashi came to Owari (Aichi Prefecture) where, through an introduction by Yagyu Hyogonosuke, he met with Yoshinao in Nagoya’s Ni-no-Maru Palace. Aware of Musashi’s two sword styled Enmei Ryu, Yoshinao requested a demonstration. Having seen the style, he himself took part in a series of bouts with Musashi, who won every match. Impressed, Yoshinao permitted Musashi to open a dojo within the Nagoya region. Over 3,000 samurai from Nagoya Castle soon became students of the style at the dojo that lasted until the mid Meiji period.
Nagoya’s tradition of staging grand wedding parades in which the newly wed couples’ new furniture items are placed aboard an open truck and paraded through the streets can be traced back to the gorgeous wedding parade of Yoshinao and his wife, Haruhime through the streets of Nagoya and into Nagoya Castle. Ieyasu himself is said to have watched the parade enter the castle from the window of a south-western yagura watchtower.
Nagoya Castle Honmaru Palace
In order to make his new wife feel more comfortable in Nagoya, Yoshinao ordered his best artisans to paint scenes of Wakayama, her home region, on the sliding screens and panels within the Taimenjo living quarters Tsugi-no-ma room of the magnificent Honmaru Palace. (Incidentally, Ieyasu was so impressed by both the architecture and the grand decorations within the palace, he ordered something similar be made on the grounds of Nijo Castle in Kyoto. That palace is now a National Treasure and World Heritage listed site.)
Yoshinao was responsible for being a co-creator of the much-prized Ofuke-yaki pottery style. Gathering a small team of potters from nearby Seto, he had a kiln made within the north-western Ofuke-maru precinct of Nagoya Castle where the white glazed fine pottery was made. Tea bowls, caddies and other tea ceremony related items were produced here, and the wares were then presented by the lords of Nagoya Castle to various daimyo across the nation, adding to its reputation and value.
Yoshinao was 49 years old when he died of what is believed to have been a stroke, June 5, 1560. His unique grave and mausoleum was established at the Joko-ji in Seto.