Date Hidemune


Date Clan


Iyo Province

Lifespan:  9/25 of Tenshō 19 (1591) to 6/8 of Meireki 4 (1658)

Rank:  bushō; daimyō

Titles:  Junior Fifth Rank (Lower), Governor of Tōtōmi, Junior Fourth Rank (Lower)

Clan:  Date

Bakufu:  Edo

Domain:  Founder of Iyo-Uwajima

Lord:  Toyotomi Hideyoshi → Toyotomi Hideyori → Tokugawa Ieyasu → Tokugawa Hidetada → Tokugawa Iemitsu

Father:  Date Masamune

Mother:  Shinzō-no-kata

Siblings:  Hidemune, Iroha-hime, Tadamune, Munekiyo, Tsuda (Keigetsu-in), Watari Munemoto, Muneyasu, Munetsuna, Munenobu, Munetaka, Muu-hime, Takematsumaru, Munezane, Mine-hime, Munekatsu, Sengiku-hime  

Wife:  Kame (daughter of Ii Naomasa); daughters of the Watanabe, Yamagami, Yoshii, and Koike clans

Children:  Munezane, Munetoki, Munetoshi, Kiku, 萬, Tsurumatsu, Koori Muneshige, Munezumi, Tokumatsu, Munemoto, Takematsu, Matsu, Iwamatsu, 清, Munenori

Date Hidemune served as a bushō and daimyō during the Azuchi-Momoyama and early Edo periods.  Hidemune served as the first head of the Date branch of the Uwajima domain in Iyo Province.  He carried the Court titles of Junior Fourth Rank (Lower) and Governor of Tōtōmi.

Prelude to the arrival of the Date

Early in the Edo period, on 9/15 of 1608, over six years before the arrival of the Date clan in Uwajima, Tomita Nobutaka, a daimyō and head of the Tsu domain in Ise Province, was granted a domain of 101,900 koku in the Uwa District, whereupon he served as the first head of the Iyo-Uwajima domain and as lord Itajima-Marugushi Castle (later known as Uwajima Castle).   He was sent by Tokugawa Hidetada, the second supreme shōgun of the Edo bakufu.  However, owing to Nobutaka’s complicity in a dispute between Sakazaki Naomori (a sibling of Nobutaka’s formal wife) and a nephew named Ukita Samon, on 10/8 of 1613, Nobutaka was removed from his position and confined to the village of Iwaki in Mutsu Province.  Approximately one year later, a contingent from the Date clan then arrived in Uwajima to establish a separate family from the main branch based in Sendai.  Therefore, Nobutaka was the first head of the Iyo-Uwajima domain serving the Edo bakufu, while Date Hidemune was the first head of the Date branch of the Uwajima domain.  

Origins and service for the Toyotomi

On 9/25 of 1591, Hidemune was born as the eldest illegitimate son of Date Masamune in Murata Castle in the Shibata District of Mutsu Province.  His childhood name was Heigorō.  His mother was a consort of Masamune named Shinzō-no-kata.

At this time, Masamune’s formal wife, Megohime, did not have a son so, from those around him, he was referred to as the son of a distinguished family and viewed as the successor to the clan.  In 1594, Hidemune was accompanied by Masamune in a meeting with Hideyoshi, whereupon he was transferred to Hideyoshi as a hostage and raised in Fushimi Castle.

In the seventh month of 1595, after the Hidetsugu Incident, Masamune was implicated owing to his close association with Toyotomi Hidetsugu.  Consequently, Hideyoshi ordered Masamune to retire, transfer the headship of the clan to Heigorō, and relocate the Date family to Iyo Province in Shikoku.  Owing to mediation by Tokugawa Ieyasu, Masamune was permitted to remain as head of the clan, but, on 8/24, he was ordered to submit a written pledge signed by nineteen senior retainers residing in the capital of Kyōto stating that if Masamune showed an intention to rebel, they would have him retire and back Heigorō as his successor.

On 5/9 of 1596, Heigorō became like a son to Hideyoshi, and under Hideyoshi he held his coming-of-age ceremony.  He also received one of the characters from Hideyoshi’s name, adopting the name of Hidemune.  Hidemune was invested with the title of Junior Fifth Rank (Lower) and recognized the Toyotomi surname.  He was promoted to serve as a personal assistant to Toyotomi Hideyori.

After the death of Hideyoshi, the Five Commissioners (including Ishida Mitsunari) rebelled against the Council of Five Elders (including Tokugawa Ieyasu), leading to the Battle of Sekigahara on 9/15 of 1600.  During these events, Hidemune was held as a hostage (against Date Masamune) at the residence of Ukita Hideie who supported Mitsunari.

Edo period and service as head of the Uwajima domain

In the ninth month of 1602, Hidemune met Tokugawa Ieyasu and headed toward Edo as a hostage of the Tokugawa clan.  However, Megohime then gave birth to Torakikumaru (later known as Date Tadamune).  At the time, Masamune was thirty-six and Megohime thirty-five years old.  Torakikumaru grew-up without incident so, in the first month of 1603, Masamune introduced Torakikumaru to Ieyasu, putting Hidemune in a delicate position.  In 1609, upon orders of Ieyasu, Hidemune received as his formal wife Kame, the daughter of a senior retainer named Ii Naomasa (one of the close associates of Ieyasu referred to as the Four Heavenly Kings of the Tokugawa) and was then incorporated in the Tokugawa camp.  Meanwhile, in the twelfth month of 1611, a coming-of-age ceremony was held for Torakikumaru in Edo Castle.  After Torakikumaru received one of the characters in his name from Tokugawa Hidetada (the second supreme shōgun of the Edo bakufu), adopting the name of Tadamune, Hidemune was effectively removed from the line of succession to the Date clan.

Although Hidemune was the eldest son of Masamune, his mother was a consort from the Iizaka clan, but this is not the reason why he could not succeed Masamune as head of the clan.  He had received one of the characters in his name from Hideyoshi, served as a personal assistant of Hideyori, and bestowed the surname of the Toyotomi, but, among the Tokugawa clan, he was not regarded as an appropriate successor to the head of the Sendai domain.  As a result, his father, Masamune, arranged for Hidemune to start a new family.  In 1614, Hidemune participated with Masamune at the Winter Campaign of Ōsaka, marking his first deployment.  After the battle, in recognition of his contributions, Hidemune inherited a fief of 100,000 koku in Uwajima in Iyo Province that had been granted to Masamune to establish a separate family.  On 12/25 of 1614, he became the first head of the Date family in this domain.  Many members of the band of retainers were chosen from among the Date family by Masamune.   The contingent totaled approximately 1200 individuals comprised of fifty-seven mounted soldiers, foot soldiers, and servants.  Upon orders of Masamune, senior retainers provided their counsel to Hidemune.  Hidemune also received 60,000 ryō as initial funding from the Sendai domain for purposes of establishing his new administration.

In 1620, the chief elder named Yanbe Kinyori and his family were killed.  Years later, a legend evolved that a faction led by Sakurada Genba attacked them, but, on the day of the incident, Genba was in Ōsaka, so, in fact, it was a punishment for uncertain reasons.

Hidemune did not notify Masamune or the bakufu of the incident, causing Masamune to disown Hidemune out of rage.  Kinyori had originally been a retainer of Masamune and member of the main branch of the clan. As a result, Hidemune declined to keep them updated on other events over time, becoming estranged from Masamune.  In 1621, while remaining upset about the incident, Masamune proposed that the Uwajima domain be relinquished to an elder named Doi Toshikatsu, leading to an event known as the Warei Disturbance.  In the end, through the offices of Toshikatsu, Masamune’s proposal was abandoned while Masamune and Hidemune met in person.  On that occasion, Hidemune explained the resentment he held toward Masamune given that, despite his position as the eldest son, he spent many years as a hostage and did not inherit the headship of the Sendai domain after the transition to the Tokugawa period.  Masamune acknowledged Hidemune’s feelings and reversed his position to disown him.  This meeting resulted in an improvement in the relationship between the father and son.

Thereafter, Hidemune focused his efforts on the administration of his domain.  In the twelfth month of 1622, Hidemune was awarded the title of Governor of Tōtōmi and, on 8/19 of 1626, was invested with the position of Junior Fourth Rank (Lower).

Latter years

After Masamune reversed his decision to disown Hidemune, the two developed a close relationship, exchanging a classic form of poetry known as waka, while Hidemune received Chinese eggplant-colored tea ware and fine incense made from aloes wood known as shiba-bune.  These items received from Masamune were kept as treasures of the Date family in the Uwajima domain.  Masamune died in the fifth month of 1636, and, in the sixth month, when a memorial service was held at the Kakuban Temple in Sendai, Hidemune and his second son, Munetoki, attended.  From 1637 to 1638, Hidemune was deployed upon orders from the bakufu for a large-scale uprising known as the Shimabara Conflict.

Around 1637, Hidemune spent a lot of time bed-ridden from illness which was a form of paralysis.  As a result, in 1638, Date Munetoki (his second son and designated heir) returned to Uwajima and served on behalf of Hidemune under the title of lord or governor-general.  The advent of Munetoki is chronicled in successive generations so Munetoki was recognized by the bakufu as well as the de facto head of the clan.

During Hidemune’s latter years, the Uwajima domain was the subject of a land survey.  Based on the results, a land tax was adopted while the compensation to retainers of the domain was converted from a land-based system to a commodity-based (rice) system.  On 2/5 of 1649, Uwajima was shaken by a major earthquake, and, in the following year, after suffering from paralysis over a long period, the Edo bakufu permitted Hidemune to return to Uwajima for treatment.

In 1653, Munetoki died early at the age of thirty-nine so his third son, Munetoshi, became the designated heir at the age of twenty.  From the following year, funding from the domain and merchants enabled the development of arable lands.  On 7/21 of 1657, Hidemune transferred headship of the clan to Munetoshi and retired.  On 8/16, Hidemune allocated a portion of the domain located in Yoshida to his fifth son, Munezumi.  As a result, the Iyo-Uwajima domain was a total of 70,000 koku and the Iyo-Yoshida domain was 30,000 koku.

On 6/8 of 1658, Hidemune died at the Edo domain residence.  He was sixty-eight years old.  On the day after his death, Miyazaki Hachirōbei and Takashima Tarōemon martyred themselves, followed by, on 6/18, Kano Kageyu, and, on 6/23, Watanabe Tōzaemon.

Character and anecdotes

Although Hidemune was the founder of the Uwajima domain, he has not been revered by the citizens of Uwajima.  There is no honorary monument or statue, or persons having an honorary title in his name.  One view is that he was overshadowed by later heads of the clan including Date Munetada and Date Munenari toward the end of the Edo period and early Meiji period.  Hidemune himself, however, was also a well-known lord.  After serving on mandatory assignment in Edo, Hidemune and his fellow travelers encountered stormy seas during the return by boat from Edo to Uwajima.  When the boat nearly capsized, Hidemune was the only one to remain calm throughout the ordeal.  In another anecdote, Hidemune displayed his respect while engaging in a practice grappling match with Toyotomi Hideyori by using a napkin that he carried with him to ensure he did not step directly on Hideyori.  This earned him admiration from many in the Toyotomi family including Toyotomi Hideyoshi and his wife, Yodo-dono.

Hidemune disliked being treated as an ancillary domain, and when he met the shōgun, Tokugawa Iemitsu in the room for persons of honor, he took a seat ahead of Date Tadayori (his younger brother of a different mother), indicating an elevated status in the Sendai domain as the eldest son of Masamune.  Similar to Masamune, Hidemune excelled in a classic form of poetry known as waka.  Generations later, owing to the contributions of figures such as Date Munenari (a daimyō during the end of the Edo period and Meiji restoration), the main family of the Uwajima domain was honored with the rank equivalent to a marquis.  Meanwhile, owing to their complicity in an alliance between the domains in Dewa, Mutsu, and Echigo provinces that opposed the Meiji restoration, the main family of the Sendai domain did not attain a status higher than the equivalent of a count, so the Uwajima domain surpassed them in status.