Imabari DomainLaid the foundation for Imabari towel production

Imabari Domain

Matsudaira family crest “Rokuyo”

Article category
History of the domain
domain name
Imabari Domain (1600-1871)
Ehime Prefecture
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Imabari Castle

Imabari Castle

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The Imabari domain was a domain that ruled the entire Imabari City area of Ehime Prefecture, with Imabari Castle as the domain office. Imabari is famous for its ``Imabari Towel'', but cotton cultivation has been popular in Imabari since the Edo period. Mr. Matsudaira Hisamatsu, who ruled the Imabari domain, encouraged cotton cultivation as an industry for the domain, which laid the foundation for Imabari's textile industry. Let's unravel the history of the Imabari clan.

Era of Todo family rule

The Edo Shogunate arose, and the first person to rule Imabari was Todo Takatora. He was known as a master of castle construction, and although he was an outsider, he had strong faith in Tokugawa Ieyasu, and was awarded 120,000 koku in Imabari as a reward for his service in the Battle of Sekigahara. Todo Takatora built Imabari Castle, one of Japan's three major water (sea) castles, and solidified the foundations of his rule over Imabari, but in 1609, Todo Takatora was transferred to Tsu Castle in Ise Province. Ta. However, Imabari 20,000 koku remained as an enclave under the control of the Todo family, and Todo Takatora's adopted son Takayoshi Todo entered Imabari Castle. Takayoshi is the third son of Nagahide Niwa.

After being adopted by Takatora Todo, he became the leader of the clan and played an active role in the Osaka camp. However, when his adoptive father Takatora Todo passed away, Takatora's biological son Takatsugu Todo considered him dangerous, and Takayoshi was reportedly unable to attend his adoptive father's funeral. Then, in 1635, he was transferred to Ise-Nagashima, replacing Sadafusa Matsudaira, and died there. There are still descendants left today.

Hisamatsu Matsudaira family rule

Sadafusa Matsudaira, who replaced Takayoshi Todo as the lord of Imabari, was the fifth son of Sadakatsu Matsudaira, a half-brother of Tokugawa Ieyasu. After Sadafusa Matsudaira became the lord of the Imabari domain, the Hisamatsu Matsudaira family ruled the domain from then on until the Meiji Restoration. From the early Edo period to the Meiji Restoration, it was rare for a domain to not change its territory.

Although the successive feudal lords did not leave any particularly notable achievements, they focused their efforts on cultivating salt and cotton as specialty products of the domain. The fertile land brought by the Sosha River flowing through Imabari was suitable for growing cotton.

As a result, the domain's finances were relatively comfortable, and as the end of the Edo period approached, the domain lords focused their efforts on cultural politics. The last feudal lord, Matsudaira Teiho, sided with the Satsuma-cho and was a fudai daimyo, but during the Boshin War he guarded the imperial palace as a member of the new government army.

Imabari and cotton cultivation

It is said that cotton was introduced to Japan during the Heian period. Cotton is an easy plant to grow, except for its sensitivity to cold, and its cultivation was popular mainly in western Japan. It is said that the fertile soil carried by the Sosha River was suitable for cotton cultivation, and cotton cultivation became popular in Imabari around the 17th century. The cotton grown in Imabari was called Iyo cotton, and it was popular in Osaka, Kyoto, and other areas.

During this period, it was the women of Imabari who turned cotton into cotton cloth. Merchants give the harvested cotton to women to weave cloth. Women received half of the cloth they wove as wages.

Therefore, a portion of the Imabari clan's tax revenue was covered by cotton cloth. During the Edo period, many feudal domains suffering from financial difficulties tried to start up industries that could generate cash income. The Imabari domain was fortunate to have had an industry called ``cotton cloth'' since the domain was established.

In addition, when the neighboring Iyo-Matsuyama domain focused on developing salt fields and industrialized it, the Imabari domain developed a port to transport salt and flourished as a shipping town. If there was a fine port where ships could come in and out, shipwrights would gather and the town would develop. In addition, the second lord of the Imabari domain, Sadatoki Matsudaira, encouraged the development of salt fields, and salt is also a specialty of the domain.

The Imabari domain was supported by cotton and salt (shipping), and there were no major uprisings until the end of the Edo period, and other than the frequent occurrence of natural disasters at the end of the Edo period, it was peaceful. The 7th lord of the domain, Sadatake Matsudaira, built the domain school, Katsumeikan, and promoted the promotion of literature and martial arts, the discipline of samurai, and the dissemination of education to the people of the domain.

In the Meiji period, Iyo cotton gradually declined as its market was taken over by cheaper cotton produced in other regions. However, a man named Shichisaburo Yano from Imabari learned in Wakayama how to make ``cotton flannel'' in which only one side of the fabric was fluffed, improved it in Imabari, and then popularized it. This exercise became popular as ``Iyo Nell,'' and the textile industry once again flourished in Imabari. Later, in 1910, Heisuke Abe, a cotton flannel producer, started manufacturing towels, and Imabari became a famous towel production area.

Imabari Domain Summary

Although the Imabari domain was plagued by natural disasters like other domains, it was also a blessed domain with thriving cotton cultivation and the development of salt fields since the early Edo period. It was Meiji businessmen who created Imabari towels, which are still in use today, but it was successive castle lords of the Hisamatsu Matsudaira family who encouraged cotton cultivation, which is the basis of Imabari towels.

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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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