Shibata DomainHe devoted his efforts to developing new fields.

Shibata Domain

Mizoguchi family crest "Mizoguchi rhombus"

Article category
History of the domain
domain name
Shibata Domain (1600-1871)
Niigata Prefecture
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Shibata Castle

Shibata Castle

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The Shibata Domain was a domain that ruled over part of the Shibata region, centered on present-day Shibata City, Niigata Prefecture. It was originally the territory of the Shibata clan, who served the Uesugi clan, but in 1581, Shibata Shigeie started a rebellion and was destroyed by Uesugi Kagekatsu. Mizoguchi Hidekatsu was later given the land of Shibata, and after the Edo Shogunate was established, he founded the Shibata Domain. It was a rare domain in that the Mizoguchi family continued to rule until the end of the Edo period, even though daimyo were frequently transferred between domains. Let's take a look at the history of the Shibata Domain.

Land unsuitable for rice cultivation

When Hidekatsu Mizoguchi received the land of Shibata, it was a land that was repeatedly flooded by large rivers such as the Shinano River and the Agano River, and had poor drainage, with most of the territory being swamps, marshes, tidal flats, and other land unsuitable for cultivation. Hidekatsu Mizoguchi was granted the land of Shibata with a rice yield of 60,000 koku, but it is believed that the actual yield was around 20,000 koku. In Shibata, there was a saying that "three years, one crop." This means that it takes three years to produce only one year's worth of harvest.

There are records of 53 floods occurring over the 260 years from 1653 to 1917. There are likely many more floods that are not recorded. The Mizoguchi clan, who became feudal lords, also began developing new fields and reclamation projects under the second feudal lord, Mizoguchi Nobukatsu. However, things did not go as smoothly as they had hoped, with disputes over water rights within the domain and the Nagaoka domain opposing the reclamation project due to changes in the water depth of Niigata Port.

During the reign of the third lord, Mizoguchi Nobunao, the domain suffered from repeated floods and a major fire that burned down part of Shibata Castle, causing great damage and leading to financial difficulties. Despite these hardships, the fourth lord, Mizoguchi Shigeo, saw the development of legal systems and the implementation of proactive policies such as a general land survey.

During the time of the sixth feudal lord, Mizoguchi Naoharu, the Shiunjigata reclamation project and large-scale flood control works on the Agano River and Shinano River were started with the permission of the shogunate. However, conflicts with the Nagaoka Domain over the rights to use the water reclamation and flood control works became serious, and this also became a heavy burden on the finances of the domain. Perhaps it was the stress that took its toll on Mizoguchi Naoharu, who died of an illness at the young age of 26.

During the reign of the seventh feudal lord, Mizoguchi Naoharu, the effects of flood control works finally began to appear, flood damage temporarily decreased, and good harvests continued, finally easing the financial difficulties of the domain. However, the good harvests continued, causing the price of rice to fall, and floods began to occur again, worsening the financial difficulties once again. In the end, Mizoguchi Naoharu had no choice but to borrow the assets of his vassals and citizens, almost by force, in order to prevent the domain's finances from collapsing.

Furthermore, during the reign of the 9th lord, Mizoguchi Naoharu, an incident occurred in which Seiryoin, the wife of the 7th lord, Mizoguchi Naoharu, interfered in the administration of the domain, leading to the dismissal of the previous senior vassals and the promotion of a vassal who had followed Seiryoin from her family home. As a result of this incident, the shogunate ordered a land exchange of 20,000 koku with Mutsu Province. As a result, land where the harvest had finally increased due to successful flood control measures was exchanged for the barren land of Mutsu Province, and the finances of the domain further deteriorated.

Shibata Domain in the late Edo period

Under the tenth lord, Mizoguchi Naoaki, the domain began to focus on maritime defense in response to the arrival of foreign ships. However, the costs of this put further strain on the domain's finances. Mizoguchi Naoaki made every effort to reform the domain's finances, including implementing strict austerity measures, but natural disasters such as the great fire in the castle town and the Sanjo earthquake, as well as the Tenpo famine, prevented him from making any progress. Mizoguchi Naoaki was a supporter of pro-imperialism and anti-foreignism, and his views were shared by the eleventh lord, Mizoguchi Naoaki, and the twelfth and last lord, Mizoguchi Naomasa.

However, under pressure from surrounding feudal domains, the 12th feudal lord, Mizoguchi Naomasa, joined the Oshu Reppan Alliance. When the Boshin War broke out, Mizoguchi Naomasa was summoned to the Yonezawa Domain by the alliance and was almost taken hostage, but he narrowly escaped danger due to an uprising by the domain's residents. After that, when the new government forces landed on the domain in a warship, the Shibata Domain showed its allegiance to the new government, and the new government's governor's office was also established within the domain. After the Boshin War ended, the domain achieved glory by having an audience with Emperor Meiji. However, after he resigned as domain governor, he fell into financial difficulties and died of illness at the age of 65, making a living by selling family heirlooms.

Summary of Shibata Domain

Shibata Domain had little land suitable for rice cultivation and was a difficult domain to govern, with frequent floods. While struggling with financial difficulties, the domain promoted flood control and reclamation, increasing the amount of land suitable for rice cultivation. Flood control work in Shibata City continued until 1964. In the same year, the Oyamatsu Drainage Pumping Station was completed along with the restoration work following the Niigata earthquake, and people finally no longer had to work in rice fields up to their waists in mud or fear the damage caused by floods.

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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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