Utsunomiya domainIt was counted as one of the 100 domains of Edo.

Utsunomiya domain

Honda family crest “Aoi standing in a circle”

Article category
History of the domain
domain name
Utsunomiya Domain (1601-1871)
Tochigi Prefecture
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Utsunomiya Castle

Utsunomiya Castle

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The Utsunomiya domain was a domain that existed in Utsunomiya, Shimotsuke Province (currently Utsunomiya City, Tochigi Prefecture). This area was not only a transportation hub for the northern Kanto region, but also a stopover for the shogun when he visited Nikko Toshogu Shrine. Utsunomiya Castle, the domain office, was the lodging for the shogun when he visited Nikko Toshogu Shrine, and the castle owner was chosen from among the feudal lords. Let's unravel the history of the Utsunomiya clan.

Utsunomiya before the Edo period

Utsunomiya has been under the control of the Shimotsuke Utsunomiya clan, a descendant of the Fujiwara clan, since the late Heian period. The Shimono-Utsunomiya clan ruled for 550 years, and at one point had a good relationship with Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who kept the Hojo clan in check and unified the country in the late Sengoku period.

However, in 1597, under Kunitsuna Utsunomiya, the territory was confiscated and the territory was confiscated. The reason for this is not clear, but it is said that he under-reported his stone height when the detection was carried out, or that the talk of adopting Asano Nagamasa's third son became complicated.

The confiscated land of Utsunomiya was given to Hideyuki Gamo, who later became the lord of the Mutsu Aizu domain. Hideyuki Gamo developed the castle town and promoted the development of commerce by inviting merchants from Omi-Hino, the hometown of the Gamo family, to live in the castle town as official merchants.

In 1600, the Battle of Sekigahara occurred, and Hideyuki Gamo returned to his former domain as lord of the Mutsu Aizu domain with 600,000 koku.

From the establishment of the Utsunomiya domain to the mid-Edo period

After Hideyuki Gamo was transferred to the Mutsu Aizu domain, Okudaira Iemasa entered Utsunomiya with 100,000 koku and the Utsunomiya domain was established. Okudaira Iemasa was the son of Tokugawa Ieyasu's eldest daughter, Kamehime, and the grandson of Tokugawa Ieyasu. Although he strived to develop commerce by holding regular markets in the castle town, he died of illness at the young age of 38 in October 1614. He had a legitimate son, Tadamasa Okudaira, but since he was only 7 years old when Iemasa died, it was thought that leaving him in charge of the Utsunomiya domain would be a heavy burden, so he was transferred to the Koga domain in Shimousa.

After the Okudaira family left, Masazumi Honda was appointed to the Utsunomiya domain. Masazumi Honda is the eldest son of Masanobu Honda, who served Tokugawa Ieyasu when he was still a vassal of Oda Nobunaga. Although Masazumi Honda was an important aide to Ieyasu along with his father, there is a theory that he was envied by his military vassals because he had no outstanding military achievements.

In particular, it is said that Kamehime, who married into the Okudaira family, did not approve of giving Utsunomiya to Honda Masazumi and made a strong protest to her younger brother, the second shogun Hidetada Tokugawa.

Honda Masazumi completely renovated Utsunomiya Castle, which was a medieval castle, and transformed it into an early modern castle. The Kiyomi Yagura tower of Utsunomiya Castle, which is currently being rebuilt, was built at this time.
Masazumi Honda also developed Oshu Kaido and Nikko Kaido, built inns in the castle town, and prepared the area as a stopover for the shogun's visit to Nikko Toshogu Shrine.

Even after becoming the lord of the Utsunomiya domain, Masazumi Honda continued to remain at the center of the shogunate as Roju. However, the more time passed after Tokugawa Ieyasu died and Hidetada Tokugawa assumed power, the more he became at odds with the younger generation such as Toshikatsu Doi and Tadayo Sakai and became isolated.

In 1622, Yoshitoshi Mogami of the Dewa-Yamagata domain was transferred to the throne, so Masazumi Honda headed to Yamagata as a branch office to deliver the castle. Then, in Yamagata, he was told of his change. The reasons for the change were that Utsunomiya Castle was renovated without notifying the shogunate, and that guns were illegally manufactured in the castle grounds, but there is no historical fact that ``a suspended ceiling was built in Utsunomiya Castle,'' which is well known.

Tokugawa Hidetada tried to reduce his fief from 110,000 koku to 55,000 koku because Honda Masazumi was a loyal vassal to the Tokugawa family, but when Masazumi refused this, he became furious and moved to Dewa Osawa. It was reduced to 1,000 koku.
Masazumi Honda humbly accepted this and lived a life akin to imprisonment in Handewa Osawa until his death in his 80s.

After that, Tadamasa Okudaira, who had once moved to the Shimousa Koga domain, was repossessed with 110,000 koku and ruled Utsunomiya for 46 years. During that time, the Shogun family made 13 visits to Nikko Toshogu Shrine, and as a result of having to deal with the demands, the Okudaira family quickly fell into financial trouble.
After Okudaira Tadamasa passed away, his vassal died a martyr, which violated the shogunate's law against martyrdom. Furthermore, when Tadamasa's memorial service was held, a stabbing incident occurred between his vassals (the Utsunomiya Kozenji stabbing incident). Taking responsibility for the numerous scandals, the Okudaira family's fief was reduced to 90,000 koku and transferred to Dewa.

After the Okudaira family left, the Utsunomiya domain was ruled by the Okudaira Matsudaira family and Honda Tadahira for a short period of time. Tadahira Honda enacted good government by reducing the annual tax, but he was transferred in just four years, and the Okudaira family was recalled again after that, but Masaaki Okudaira, who became the lord of the domain, died of illness at the age of 28, and his successor, Masanari, was only 2 years old. Due to his age, the castle was transferred again and Masakuni Abe became the lord of the castle, but the castle was transferred in 13 years.

Utsunomiya domain from the middle of the Edo period

From the era of the 7th Shogun Ietsugu Tokugawa to the 8th Shogun Yoshimune Tokugawa, the Utsunomiya domain was ruled by the Toda family for three generations, and then the Fukamizo Matsudaira family became the domain lord. During this period, the Utsunomiya domain experienced a series of natural disasters such as floods and fires, and peasant uprisings broke out. In addition to agriculture, the Utsunomiya domain had industries such as stone cutting, so there are records that the common people were richer than in other domains. However, the annual tax was heavy and it was difficult for farmers to make a living, so there was a rare phenomenon in which agriculture declined, with some people abandoning their fields and running away, or taking up stone cutting as their main occupation. As a result, the domain's finances were by no means rich, and the Fukamizo Matsudaira family, in particular, was struggling to pay for transfers and was in debt to the shogunate.

After the second generation of the Fukamizo Matsudaira family was transferred, the Toda family became the lords again and ruled the domain until the Meiji Restoration.
The Boshin War broke out during the era of Toda Tadayasu, the 6th lord of the Toda family.

Tadayasu Toda joined the new government army during the Boshin War. Although Utsunomiya Castle was once captured by the former shogunate forces such as Keisuke Otori and Toshizo Hijikata, he later regained it and achieved military accolades. However, he later died of illness at the young age of 22.

The last lord of the domain, Tadatomo Toda, was a member of the Sabaku faction and attempted to go to Kyoto to plead for the life of the 15th Shogun, Yoshinobu Tokugawa. However, time passed while he was stranded on the way, and was unable to participate in the battle at Utsunomiya. By the way, the castle town of Utsunomiya became a battlefield during the Battle of Utsunomiya during the Boshin War, and more than 80% of Utsunomiya Castle and the buildings in the castle town were destroyed by fire.

In the Meiji era, Tadatomo Toda was appointed a viscount, and completed his 78-year disability by taking up the priesthood and funding the establishment of a school in his hometown.

Utsunomiya clan summary

The Utsunomiya domain was ruled by multiple families for short periods of time until the time of the 8th Shogun Yoshimune, so there are few notable episodes for each castle lord. Instead, incidents such as revenge have occurred multiple times, and the story of the hanging ceiling has even reached England. Although agriculture did not develop, there were industries such as stone cutting, and it is said that a monetary economy had penetrated from an early stage.

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Writer(Writer)I am a writer who loves history, focusing on the Edo period. My hobbies are visiting historical sites, temples and shrines, and reading historical novels. If there is a place you are interested in, you can fly anywhere. I'm secretly happy that the number of sword exhibitions has increased recently thanks to the success of Touken Ranbu.
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