History of the House of Okudaira and Nakatsu Castle


In 1575 (third year of Tensho) the Okudaira family, which up until then had existed as one of the smaller wealthy samurai families in Mikawa's mountainous region, would become known throughout Japan.
It began with the Battle of Nagashino on the plain of Shitaragahara, in which the Oda and Tokugawa allied forces expelled and destroyed the forces of Takeda, in a ferocious battle that is said to have forever changed Japanese history. The sacrifice made by Okudaira retainer Torii Suneemon prompted Oda Nobunaga to award highest military honors upon the next generation Okudaira family member, Okudaira Sadamasa.
At this time, Nobunaga awarded Sadamasa with a single letter of his name: 'Nobu,' and thereafter he became known as 'Nobumasa.' Further, Nobumasa became wed to Tokugawa Ieyasu's eldest daughter, Princess Kame, and proceeded to make several great military achievements befitting of a legendary warrior, taking no shame in the name of son-in-law, and contributing greatly to the creation of Tokugawa's new bakufu government. Nobumasa's children, starting with Iemasa, would strive and succeed in living up to his achievements. The Okudaira family managed to consolidate their distinguished position tied with the Tokugawa as hereditary vassals.

Many years passed, until 1717, the second year of the Kyoho era. The eighth Tokugawa Shogun Yoshimune, who had only just taken up his post the previous year, was driving for a reformation of the shogunate. Desiring greater control of West Japan, he requested Masashige, 7th generation Okudaira, to reside in Nakatsu Castle in the Buzen Province. This meant a promotion and increase from his previous dominion of Miyazu, Tango Province by 10,000 koku, to a total 100,000 koku. Yoshimune was the great-grandchild of Ieyasu, and he is said to have worshipped his exalted great-grandfather constantly. He even modeled his own government on Ieyasu's political method, stating: "All matters are settled according to Gongen-sama (Ieyasu)." He must have held high expectations of Okudaira Masashige, who shared the same Tokugawa blood.

There followed many great and wise Okudaira leaders, notably Masataka, 11th generation Okudaira, who contributed to the advancement of Dutch studies in Japan. The Okudaira continued to live in Nakatsu castle and watch over the castle town for 154 years until 1871 (fourth year of Meiji) when the 15th generation Okudaira Masayuki met with the abolition of the han system. At the time of the abolition of the han system, almost all buildings inside the castle were completely destroyed at the instruction of Fukuzawa Yukichi. Only the palace was preserved as a Nakatsu office building in Kokura Prefecture.

However, during the Satsuma Rebellion in 1877 (tenth year of Meiji), the palace also burned down. After the War and political turmoil arising from Japan's defeat, the former feudal lords of the Okudaira became the center of power in 1964 (39th year of Showa), and together with donations from the citizens of Nakatsu they built a castle tower.
Since then, the new castle has lasted through the Showa and Heisei periods as both a symbol of pride and as a sight-seeing area for visitors to Nakatsu city.

Now, in 2011, fuelled by the company charged with upholding the spirit of the Okudaira clan, newly-emerged Nakatsu Castle (Museum of the Okudaira) starts its new life holding a variety of events and projects for the citizens of Nakatsu city.

1575 (third year of Tensho) Battle of Nagashino
After winning this fateful battle, the Okudaira clan referred to it as "Fortune Releasing Battle," and to this day, their victory around the 21st of March is celebrated with the "Tanishi Festival."
1576 (fourth year of Tensho) Oda Nobunaga builds Azuchi Castle.
1582 (tenth year of Tensho) Honno-ji Incident.
1584 (twelfth year of Tensho) Okudaira Nobumasa is honored for his military achievements at the Battle of Komaki and Nagakute.
1600 (fifth year of Keicho) The Battle of Sekigahara
After the war, Nobumasa is appointed as the first local governor of Kyoto. Ankokuji Ekei, a powerful general of forces in West Japan, is captured.
1602 (seventh year of Keicho) Nobumasa is sent to the Kano domain of the Mino Province, with an increase of 100,000 koku.
1616 (second year of Genna) Tadamasa, 4th generation Okudaira, receives the Swan Sheath Spear of his great-grandfather Tokugawa Ieyasu (displayed in Nakatsu Castle).
1717 (second year of Kyoho) Masashige, 7th generation Okudaira enters Nakatsu Castle with a fiefdom of 100,000 koku.
1746 (third year of Enkyo) Masaatsu, 8th generation Okudaira, becomes the second lord of Nakatsu in the Buzen Province.
1752 (second year of Horeki) Masaatsu begins the agricultural reformation.
1758 (eighth year of Horeki) Masashika, 9th generation Okudaira, becomes the third lord of Nakatsu, Buzen at age 15. He compiles a series of laws called Soheifukinroku, and endeavors in matters of government.
1780 (ninth year of Anei) Masao, 10th generation Okudaira, becomes the fourth lord of Nakatsu in the Buzen Province.
1786 (sixth year of Tenmei) Masataka, 11th generation Okudaira, becomes the fifth lord of Nakatsu in the Buzen Province.
1810 (seventh year of Bunka) Editing of a Japanese-Dutch dictionary (Rango Yakusen) has started under the guidance of Okudaira Masataka.
1822 (fifth year of Bunsei) Okudaira Masataka publishes the Bastaardt dictionary.
1825 (eighth year of Bunsei) Masanobu, 12th generation Okudaira, becomes the sixth lord of Nakatsu, Buzen, and actively makes reforms including development of new rice fields and improving Okudaira law.
1833 (fourth year of Tenpo) Masamichi, 13th generation Okudaira, becomes the seventh lord of Nakatsu in the Buzen Province.
1835 (sixth year of Tenpo) Okudaira Masamichi appoints Kurosawa Shoemon for his reforms in administration, in which he strengthens monopolies.
1842 (thirteenth year of Tenpo) Masamoto, 14th generation Okudaira, becomes the eighth lord of Nakatsu in the Buzen Province.
1853 (sixth year of Kaei) Arrival of the Black Ships.
1855 (second year of Ansei) Construction of fortresses begins as part of further reforms beings around this point.
1863 (third year of Bunkyu) The "Palace of Pine trees" is built inside the castle.
1868 (fourth year of Keio) Masayuki, 15th generation Okudaira, becomes the ninth lord of Nakatsu in the Buzen Province.
1869 (second year of Meiji) Administrative reforms are made in accordance with the spirit of the Meiji Restoration.
1871 (fourth year of Meiji) Nakatsu castle is destroyed with the abolishment of the han system. It is reduced to an office building of Kokura Prefecture. Following the success of the Meiji Restoration, Masayuki is awarded a pension of 2,000 ryo and made a Count.
1877 (tenth year of Meiji) The palace that became an office building in Nakatsu burns down during the Satsuma Rebellion.
1964 (thirty-ninth year of Showa) The former feudal lords of the Okudaira become the center of power and Nakatsu castle is rebuilt.
2011 (twenty-third year of Heisei) New Life Nakatsu Castle is founded by a new company. A wealth of events are lined up, such as 'Nakatsu castle's first Human Doll Decoration', 'Nakatsu castle's first Tanishi Festival', 'Nakatsu castle's first Firewood Noh', and 'Nakatsu castle's first sketching competition.' Nakatsu castle's official character 'Okkun,' modelled on Tokugawa Ieyasu's great-grandson Okudaira Tadamasa, is created.
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