Wakizaka Yasumoto


Wakizaka Clan

Harima Province

Wakizaka Yasumoto

Lifespan:  3/4 of Tenshō 12 (1584) to 12/3 of Jōou 2 (1654)

Other Names:  Tōru, Jintarō, Hassetsuken

Rank:  bushō, daimyō

Title:  Junior Fifth Rank (Lower) and Governor of Awaji

Clan:  Wakizaka (descended from the Fujiwara clan)

Bakufu:  Edo

Domain:  Lord of Iyo-Ōzu → lord of Shinano-Iida

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

Father:  Wakizaka Yasuharu

Mother:  Genshōin (daughter of the steward of the Nishinotō Temple)

Siblings:  Yasutada, Yasumoto, Yasunobu, Yasushige, Yasutsune, Yasufusa, Yasunari, Yasuzumi, sister (wife of Shimizudani Sanetō), sister (wife of Wakizaka Kazumori), sister (wife of Wakizaka Kazunaga), sister (wife of Tanaka Yasuyoshi), sister (wife of Wakizaka Yasumori), sister (wife of Wakizaka Kagenao), sister (wife of a member of the Zakōji family)

Wife:  [Formal] Keikōin (daughter of Ishikawa Mitsumoto)

Adopted Children:  Yasutsune (his younger brother), Yasutoshi (second son of Hotta Masayoshi), Yasumasa (second son of Hotta Masamori)

Wakizaka Yasumoto served as a bushō and daimyō from the Azuchi-Momoyama to early Edo periods.  Yasumoto was the second lord of the Iyo-Ōzu domain and, later, the first lord of the Shinano-Iida domain.  He served as the second head of the Wakizaka family of the Tatsuno domain in Harima Province.

Deeply trusted by Tokugawa Iemitsu, the third shōgun of the Edo period, he requested and was permitted to adopt Yasumasa, the second son of Hotta Masamori, the lord of the Shimōsa-Sakura domain.  This enabled the Wakizaka family who were tozama, or outside daimyō, of a small domain to become a hereditary daimyō family.

Prior to adopting Yasumasa from the next generation, Yasumoto adopted his younger brother, Wakizaka Yautsune, followed by Wakizaka Yasutoshi (the younger brother of Hotta Masamori), but both of them died early.

On 3/4 of Tenshō 12 (1584), Yasumoto was born as the second son of Wakizaka Yasuharu.  His older brother, Wakizaka Yasutada, died of illness at an early age so Yasumoto became the designated heir.  In 1598, he met with Tokugawa Ieyasu in Ōsaka.  In 1600, he received the Toyotomi surname and was conferred the title of Junior Fifth Rank (Lower) and Governor of Awaji.

During the Conquest of Aizu led by Ieyasu, upon orders of his father, Yasumoto attempted to join the operation under Ieyasu, but gave up after being stopped by Ishida Mitsunari.  When Mitsunari launched a rebellion, Yasumoto and Yasuharu were staying in Ōsaka and, as a result, had to join the Western Army in opposition to Ieyasu.  A subsequent betrayal by Kobayakawa Hideaki provided an opportunity to switch to the Eastern Army and decimate the division led by Ōtani Yoshitsugu.  Thereafter, Yasumoto contributed to the Eastern Army including in an assault against Mitsunari’s base at Sawayama Castle in Ōmi Province.

In 1606, Yasumoto participated in the construction of Edo Castle.  During the Siege of Ōsaka, he served with the vanguard forces.  Upon the outbreak of the Winter Campaign in 1614, Yasumoto served under the command of Tōdō Takatora in attacks around Ikutama.  During the Summer Campaign in 1615, Yasumoto joined a hereditary daimyō named Doi Toshikatsu in an assault near Tennōji.  That same year, upon the retirement of Yasuharu, Yasumoto inherited a domain of 53,500 koku in Ōzu in Iyo Province in Shikoku.

In 1617, Yasumoto was transferred from Ōzu to Iida in Shinano Province to oversee a fief of 55,000 koku.  Together with Yasumasa, the Wakizaka contributed to the development of the town of Iida for a period of fifty-five years.  This included the construction of canals for Iida Castle, eighteen neighborhoods, roadways for commerce, and the corralling of horses for public service.  Yasumoto also made efforts to promote cultural industries.

Yasumoto frequently joined visits by members of the shōgun family to Kyōto including a trip with Tokugawa Hidetada (the second shōgun) in 1623, a trip in the ninth month of 1626 with Hidetada and Tokugawa Iemitsu (the third shōgun) in the ninth month of 1626, and a trip with Iemitsu on 7/11 of Kanei 11 (1634).

Yasumoto served as an imperial envoy including for visits to shrines in Nikkō and as a representative of the Edo bakufu to host messengers from Korea at the Honsei Temple in Edo. Yasumoto guarded Sunpu Castle after the removal of Tokugawa Tadanaga from his position in the twelfth month of 1632, and, for a period of one year from 4/1 of Shōhō 1 (1644), at Shimodate Castle in Hitachi Province which at the time was under the control of the shōgun.  Yasumoto kept a diary of his one-year assignment at Shimodate Castle.

On 12/3 of Jōou 2 (1653), Yasumoto died at the age of seventy in Iida in Shinano Province.


Yasumoto’s youngest brother, Wakizaka Yasufusa, survived through the killing of Yasumoto’s younger brother, Yasutsune (who had been adopted by Yasumoto as a successor), the death of Yasutoshi (who had been adopted from the Hotta family), the adoption of Yasumasa from the Hotta family, and, finally, the death of Yasumoto.  Yasufusa was a hatamoto, or direct retainer of the bakufu, and, after the death of Yasumoto, received an allocation of 2,000 koku.  Steps were also taken for Yasufusa to become Yasumoto’s adopted heir.  Ultimately, however, owing to dissatisfaction with the status of the Wakizaka family as a tozama, or outside daimyō, in terms of their relationship with the Toyotomi, Yasumoto chose not to adopt Yasufusa and, instead, adopted a child from the Hotta family.  The Hotta were an influential family within the Edo bakufu.  It is surmised that Yasumoto adopted children from the Hotta as a means to deepen ties with the Tokugawa family to ensure the continuity of the Wakizaka family.  After the murder of Yasutsune in the fourth month of 1632, Yasumoto’s younger brother, Wakizaka Yasunobu (the lord of the Mino-Wakizaka domain) who was at the same place as the killing, was deemed an accomplice in the act and removed from his position.

In the era of Yasumasa, the Wakizaka family requested to be treated as hereditary retainers, whereupon, despite their origins as an outside daimyō, the family was treated similar to a hereditary daimyō.  In addition, the Wakizaka adopted several children from the Hotta family, and several generations later, formally became a hereditary daimyō family.

Cultural pursuits

Yasumoto was known as the most skilled poet (of tanka) among military families of his era.  He adopted the pseudonym of Hassetsuken and, as a cultural figure, served as a member of the danbanshū, a group of elders who engaged in conversation with the shōgun, Tokugawa Hidetada.  Yasumoto kept a large collection of Chinese classical writings and authored his own works including a diary while serving at Shimodate Castle in Hitachi Province.  He learned Confucianism from a scholar named Hayashi Razan, and, in turn, taught Razan the art of Japanese poetry.  Yasumoto also had a close affiliation with Kanō Genshun, an artist of the Kanō school of art which is recognized as the most prominent school of art in Japanese history spanning almost four centuries from the middle of the Muromachi period to the end of the Edo period.  While Yasumoto was at Shimodate Castle,  Genshun traveled from Edo to visit him.  Also while at Shimodate, Yasumoto hosted an artist named Tosa Ittoku of the Tosa school of art who was known for the gestures and appearance of the subjects of his works but his portrait of Yasumoto was painted from the heart and Yasumoto praised him for its artistic excellence.  Yasumoto paid Ittoku a generous amount to engage in painting for one-half year.

There is a well-known story that attests to the cultural knowledge of Yasumoto.  Based on the genealogies of famous families including the Minamoto, the Taira, the Fujiwara, and the Tachibana related to daimyō families that rose to power during the Sengoku period as set forth in a compilation of the reign of Tokugawa Iemitsu (the second shōgun of the Edo bakufu), Yasumoto concluded that his ancestors were from the Fujiwara clan so he only created a short genealogy beginning from the era of his grandfather, Wakizaka Yasuakira.  As a prelude, he wrote that without regard to whether from  the Northern or Southern House, the family descended from the Fujiwara.  He then is said to have written a waka, or linked-verse poem, stating that one did not know whether the family came from the Fujiwara-Hokke, Fujiwara-Nanke, Fujiwara-Kyōke, or the Fujiwara-Shikike, but, from the era of his grandfather, the Wakizaka were known only as descendants of the Fujiwara clan (meaning the Wakizaka family itself was not elite).