Sixteen Divine Generals of the Tokugawa


Tokugawa Clan

Mikawa Province

Sixteen Generals of the Tokugawa

The Sixteen Divine Generals of the Tokugawa refers to sixteen bushō serving Tokugawa Ieyasu who were recognized for their contributions during the advent of the Edo bakufu.  In the Edo period, a painting that portrayed these individuals along with Ieyasu was admired by followers at the Tōshō Shrine.

In the Early Modern period (from the Azuchi-Momoyama period to the end of the Edo period), a group portrait was created for the purpose of praying for the families of sengoku daimyō as a model of a Buddhist painting portraying an iconic assemblage of figures.  The reason why sixteen individuals were chosen is unclear, but the number sixteen is common in the Buddhist religion such as the sixteen dieties or sixteen arhats.  In the Early Modern period, Sakai Tadatsugu, Honda Tadakatsu, Sakakibara Yasumasa, Ii Naomasa were called the Four Divine Kings of the Tokugawa.  Ieyasu had the Shintō title of Tōshō Daigongen, with the term Gongen meaning a temporary manifestation of a Buddha (or bodhisattva) in the form of a Shinto god.  Meanwhile, the number sixteen may have been derived from the combination of the Four Divine Kings and Twelve Heavenly Generals in Buddhism.  A group known as the Twenty-Eight Divine Generals of the Tokugawa is enshrined at the Nikkō-Tōshō Shrine.  The standards for selection of the members are unknown, but the majority were retainers from the Mikawa era supporting the war effort and who served Ieyasu during a period of territorial expansion.  As civilian administrators became more prominent in the Edo period, it is surmised the divine generals were chosen to convey to later generations the sacrifices of those who contributed to the foundation of the new period.


  • Sakai Tadatsugu (1527 to 1596)
  • Honda Tadakatsu (1548 to 1610)
  • Sakakibara Yasumasa (1548 to 1606)
  • Ii Naomasa (1561 to 1602)

The four individuals above are known as the Four Divine Kings of the Tokugawa while Tadakatsu, Yasumasa, and Naomasa are known as the Three Elite.

  • Yonekitsu Tsuneharu (1524 to 1612)
  • Takagi Kiyohide (1526 to 1610)
  • Naitō Masanari (1528 to 1602)
  • Ōkubo Tadayo (1532 to 1594)
  • Ōkubo Tadasuke (1537 to 1613)
  • Hachiya Sadatsugu (1539 to 1564) or Uemura Iesada (1541 to 1577)
  • Torii Mototada (1539 to 1600)
  • Torii Tadahiro (Unknown to 1573)
  • Watanabe Mototsuna (1542 to 1620)
  • Hiraiwa Chikayoshi (1542 to 1611)
  • Hattori Masanari (1542 to 1596)
  • Matsudaira Yasutada (1545 to 1618) or Matsudaira Ietada (1555 to 1600)

Additional members comprising the Twenty-Four Divine Generals of the Tokugawa

  • Ōsuga Yasutaka (1527 to 1589)
  • Itakura Katsushige (1545 to 1624)
  • Toda Tadatsugu (1531 to 1597)
  • Mizuno Tadashige (1541 to 1600)
  • Atsumi Katsuyoshi (1557 to 1616)
  • Andō Naotsugu (1555 to 1635)
  • Sakai Shigetada (1549 to 1617)
  • Matsudaira Sadakatsu (1560 to 1624)
  • Honda Toshimasa (Unknown to Unknown)