Lifespan: 6/4 of Eiroku 3 (1560) to 5/27 of Kanei 2 (1625)
Other Names: Kanō-gozen, Kanō-no-kata, Seitokuin
Clan: Matsudaira → Okudaira
Father: Matsudaira Motoyasu (Tokugawa Ieyasu)
Siblings: Matsudaira Nobuyasu, Kamehime
Husband: Okudaira Nobumasa
Children: Okudaira Iemasa, Matsudaira Ieharu, Okudaira Tadamasa, Matsudaira Tadaakira, daughter (wife of Ōkubo Tadatsune)
Kamehime was a lady who lived during the Sengoku period. She was the eldest daughter of Matsudaira Motoyasu (later known as Tokugawa Ieyasu) and his formal wife, Tsukiyama-dono.
In 1560, Kamehime was born in Sunpu. Around 1573, Ieyasu sought to engage the Okudaira clan to contain the power of the Takeda clan in Okumikawa (a mountainous area in the northeast portion of Mikawa Province). Upon a proposal by Oda Nobunaga, the engagement of Kamehime and Okudaira Nobumasa (the lord of Shinshiro Castle) became one of the conditions. As a reward from Ieyasu for contributions at the Battle of Nagashino, in 1576, Kamehime wed Nobumasa. Throughout his life, Nobumasa did not keep any consorts while Kamehime bore four sons (Okudaira Iemasa, Matsudaira Ieharu, Okudaira Tadamasa, and Matsudaira Tadaakira) and one daughter (the wife of Ōkubo Tadatsune). In the wake of victory by the Eastern Army at the Battle of Sekigahara, in 1601, Nobumasa was enfeoffed with a fief of 100,000 koku in Kanō in Mino Province. After moving to Kanō with her third son, Tadamasa, Kamehime was called Kanō-gozen or Kanō-no-kata. In the tenth month of 1614, Tadamasa (of the Kanō domain) and Iemasa (of the Utsunomiya domain) died one after another, soon followed by the death of her husband, Nobumasa, in the third month of 1615. Thereafter, Kamehime underwent the rites of tonsure and adopted the Buddhist name of Seitokuin. She then served as a guardian for the young lord, Okudaira Tadataka, who succeeded Tadamasa.
In 1625, Kamehime died in Kanō at the age of sixty-six. Her graves are at the Kōkoku Temple in the city of Gifu in Gifu Prefecture, the Hōzō Temple in the city of Okazaki in Aichi Prefecture, and the Daizen Temple in the city of Shinshiro in Aichi Prefecture. She was preceded in death by all of her four younger sisters.
Kamehime and the Suspended Ceiling Incident at Utsunomiya Castle
There is a theory that Kamehime had a role in the Suspended Ceiling Incident at Utsunomiya Castle. Kamehime’s eldest son, Okudaira Iemasa, died of illness in the tenth month of 1614. He was succeeded by his son, Okudaira Tadamasa, at the age of seven. In 1619, Tadamasa, at the age of twelve, was transferred to the Koga domain in Shimōsa Province. Meanwhile, Honda Masazumi entered as the replacement for Tadamasa in the Utsunomiya domain. Owing to an incident involving the demotion of Ōkubo Tadachika, a hereditary daimyō, Kamehime did not have goodwill toward Masazumi.
The only daughter of Nobumasa and Kamehime married Ōkubo Tadatsune, the lineal heir of Ōkubo Tadachika, so the Okudaira and Ōkubo clans had a close relationship. Tadatsune, however, died early and Tadachika, upon whom the couple depended, was removed from his position for inexplicable reasons, causing upset for Kamehime. She deemed Masazumi and his father, Honda Masanobu, as having plotted the fall of Tadachika. Moreover, she could not come to terms with the transfer of Tadamasa to another province. If the transfer owed to his youth, then it should have been done at the time of succession when he was seven years old instead of after he became twelve. She was also reluctant to accept why, given that the fief of the Okudaira family in Utsunomiya was 100,000 koku, as soon as Masazumi took over, it was increased to 150,000 koku.
When Tokugawa Hidetada (the second shōgun of the Edo bakufu and her younger brother of a different mother) visited Nikkō to pay homage at a shrine, he stayed in Utsunomiya Castle. On this occasion, she is deemed to have leaked a plot by Masazumi to assassinate Hidetada via a suspended ceiling in the bathing room. Although there was, in fact, no suspended ceiling, Masazumi was banished. Thereafter, Tadamasa was reassigned to the Utsunomiya domain.
There is a story in connection with the move by the Okudaira family from Utsunomiya in Shimotsuke to Koga in Shimōsa. In the event of transfers, with the exception of personal possessions, the laws required occupants to leave behind fixtures and items for the families entering the premises after them. Nevertheless, the Okudaira removed the sliding screens, sliding doors, and tatami mats. They even dug-up and took the bamboo trees on the premises. After hearing of these actions, retainers of Masazumi hurried after the party and stopped them at the border. After being scorned for the crime, the Okudaira then returned the items. The veracity of this story, however, is not confirmed.