The Tokugawa Clan of Japan

The Tokugawa bakufu (徳川幕府) also known as the Tokugawa shōgunate or the Edo bakufu, was preceded by the Sengoku period (warring states.) It was the last feudal Japanese military government that ruled over Japan from 1603 through 1868. It was during this period that Japan adopted a policy, “Sakoku,” that isolated the whole country from the outside world.

The Tokugawa clan was a powerful daimyō family that ruled as shōguns from 1603 to 1867. The clan is said to have descended from Emperor Seiwa (850-880) and were a branch of the Minamoto clan. Minamoto no Yoshishige (1135–1202) fought alongside the Minamoto during the Genpei War.

Emperor Seiwa of Japan.

He fought along with his cousin Minamoto no Yorimoto against the Taira clan and went to Kamakura with him. Yoshishige’s 4th son, Nitta Yoshisue, settled at Tokugawa (Kozuke province), and took the name of that place.

Matsudaira Chikauji, originally a poor Buddhist monk, is said to have been the one who began the Matsudaira clan.

The Matsudaira clan was a powerful samurai clan. Matsudaira Chikauji that is descended from Nitta Yoshisue in the 8th generation. He witnessed the ruin of Nitta in their war against the Ashikaga. Chikauji eventually settled at Matsudaira (Mikawa province) and was adopted by by his wife’s family.

Tokugawa Family Crest.

His son, Matsudaira Nobumitsu, was head of Okazaki Castle. Nobumitsu strengthened the authority of his clan in the Mikawa province and his great-great grandson Matsudaira Kiyoyasu made his clan even more powerful but his efforts were cut short when he was assassinated. Kiyoyasu’s grandson was the legendary Tokugawa Ieyasu (originally known as Matsudaira Motonobu), he was granted permission by the Emperor to revive the name Tokugawa.

Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543–1616) was the  founder and first shōgun of the Tokugawa shōgunate that ruled from 1600 until the Meiji Restoration in 1868. He had great qualities that allowed him to rise to power and fight as a warrior general in 90 battles.The clan rose to power and ruled as shōguns from the end of the Sengoku period until the end of the Edo period.

Kaneiji Pagoda, Tokyo, Japan. | haribote

Fifteen Tokugawa shōguns ruled over Japan and their dominance was unquestionable that during the time the clan ruled over the country is referred to as the “Tokugawa era” rather than the “Edo period”. The principal Tokugawa temple is the Kan’ei-ji in Tokyo and the family shrine is the Tōshō-gū in Nikkō.