Tokugawa Masako (Kazuko) (徳川和子)

Masako TOKUGAWA (November 23, 1607 - August 2, 1678) was the 5th daughter of Hidetada TOKUGAWA and Emperor Gomizunoo's Chugu (second consort of an Emperor). Emperor Meisho's birth mother.

Brief Personal History

After Ieyasu TOKUGAWA passed his position of Shogun to Hidetada TOKUGAWA, Kazuko was born as seventh child (fifth daughter) between Hidetada and his wife, Sugen in on November 23, 1607. Initially she was named Matsuhime. After Emperor Gomizunoo was enthroned, Lord Ieyasu asked the Imperial Palace, Kazuko's Imperial Consort's, for bridal entry into court in 1612, he received an imperial letter of acceptance in May 1614. The actual entry into the Palace was postponed due to the Siege of Toyotomi family's Osaka Castle, Ieyasu's death (1616) and Emperor Goyozei's death, etc..

In 1618 construction work of the Nyogo Palace was started, however, after it was found out Emperor Gomizunoo's favorite lady, a court lady, Yotsuko YOTSUTSUJI (Oyotsu oryonin) gave birth to Prince Kamo no Miya, the arrangement for Kazuko's entry into the court became complicated.
In the following year, in 1619, Hidetada came to the Palace, and the issue was resolved by sentencing some close aides including Yotsuko's brothers, Suetsugu YOTSUTSUJI and Tsuguyoshi TAKAKURA to banishment, and expelling Yotsuko and Princess Bunchi from the Imperial Palace. (The Oyotsu incident, The Oyotsu oryonin incident)

Kazuko made the Imperial Consort's bridal entry as an Emperor Gomizunoo's nyogo (a high-ranking lady in the court (a consort of an emperor)) into court on July 17, 1620. There was a huge parade from the Nijo-jo Castle for this celebration, and it was painted as "Tofukumon in a painting on a folding screen of Kazuko's Imperial Consort's bridal entry into court." In 1623 she was pregnant, in June, Hidetada and the eldest son, Iemitsu TOKUGAWA came to the Palace for Shogun senge (ceremony to appoint Seii Taishogun (literally "great general who subdues the barbarians")), then they received ten thousand koku land belonging to the Imperial Palace. The First Princess, Imperial Princess Okiko (later called Empress Meisho) was born on January 9, 1624.

In the following year of 1624, she was officially appointed as Chugu (second consort of an emperor), in October 1625, the second Princess was born. In 1626, Hidetada and Iemitsu came to Kyoto and Emperor Gomizunoo visited the Nijo-jo Castle, Kazuko gave birth to Imperial Prince Sukehito on December 31 in the same year (died young). In 1629 the Shie Incident happened between the Imperial Palace and the Tokugawa shogunate, on November 22 of the same year, Emperor Mizunoo suddenly succeeded to the throne, and the first Princess was officially appointed as an Imperial Princess. On December 23, 1629, Kazuko was given the in go title of Tofukumon in. On October 17, 1630, the first Princess succeeded to the throne and became Empress Meisho.

In 1634, Kazuko's older brother, Iemitsu, who became new Shogun, came to Kyoto to see his niece, Empress Meisho, and visited the Palace of Tofukumon in. On August 2, 1678, Kazuko died.

Personal Profile

It is said that Ieyasu sent his daughter, Kazuko to the Imperial Palace because he wished Kazuko to give birth to a Prince for the Tokugawa family to become maternal relatives of the Emperor, however both Princes who were born died young. Therefore Emperor Gokomyo who was born between the Emperor and aother woman was adopted to succeed to the throne after Kazuko's daughter, Emperor Meisho, this way, Kazuko was able to preserve both the Emperor's and the Tokugawa family's honor. She always had her worries in her life, but she tried hard to soothe the relationship between her dominant husband, Emperor Gomizunoo, and the Tokugawa shogunate, who kept pressuring the Imperial family. It is said most of the finances to build the Shugakuin Imperial Villa came from the Tokugawa Shogunate as Kazuko requested.
She also persuaded the Tokugawa shogunate, who refused to accept Emperor Gosai's enthronement immediately after his older brother, Emperor Gokomyo died. (due to Emperor Gosai being a second cousin of Tsunamune DATE of the Sendai Domain.)

Her husband, Emperor Gomizunoo was known for his contributions to promote various arts of Kanei culture, his wife Kazuko, also had quite a talent in the arts. It is said it was Kazuko who introduced the custom to wear Kosode (Kimono with short sleeves) into the Imperial Palace, she preferred to use Karigane ya which was the house where the Korin and Kenzan OGATA brothers were born. The particular Kosode design which Kazuko used to order was called "Kanbun Kosode," the name was derived from the era.

She was also clever with her hands, especially good at making a raised cloth pictures. It is said that the oldest, existing raised cloth picture was made by Kazuko. It was a kind of fashion to have Kazuko's pictures for highly-educated people in Kyoto, the present day Sen Family has many pictures done by Kazuko.

[Original Japanese]