Kodaiin (August 6, 1773 - December 19, 1844) was a lady in the late Edo period and a lawful wife of the 11th shogun Ienari TOKUGAWA. Her father was the 8th lord of Satsuma domain Shigehide SHIMAZU and the mother was his concubine from Ichida family (Jikoin). It is said that Ichida family was from lower-ranking samurai ashigaru (common foot soldier) of Osaka kurayashiki (warehouse-residence) of Satsuma domain while other theories exist. Her foster father was Tsunehiro KONOE. Her real names were Yasushihime, Atsuhime and Shigehime. Later, Tenshoin announced her name as Atsuhime following the example of Kodaiin. She had a younger brother Masataka OKUDAIRA (biological mother was a daughter of Suzuki clan) and an elder sister Keihime (fiancée to Masao OKUDAIRA).
Her engagement and a path to Midaidokoro (wife of a shogun or a highest-ranking nobleman)
Shigehime was born on June 18 (old lunar calendar), 1773 in Kagoshima-jo Castle. She was first called "Atsuhime" and "Oatsu." After her birth, she was raised in her hometown Satsuma but she was called to Edo from Satsuma when she was engaged with Toyochiyo (later day Ienari TOKUGAWA), the son of Harusada TOKUGAWA. At the time of this engagement, she changed her name from Atsuhime to Shigehime. Upon the engagement, she was called "Goenjosama" and moved from Satsuma clan kamiyashiki in Shiba Mita to Hitotsubashi mansion inside the Edo-jo Castle and was raised with Toyochiyo, however, when the 10th shogun Ieharu TOKIGAWA's legitimate son Iemoto died unexpectedly and Toyochiyo was decided to be the next shogun, this engagement became a problem. It was because of the tradition that shogun's lawful wife must be a daughter from Gosekke (five families of Fujiwara clan) or from Miyake (families allowed to have the status of Imperial family) and it was unprecedented for a daughter of daimyo (Japanese feudal lord) especially tozama daimyo (non-Tokugawa daimyo) to become shogun's lawful wife. Her father Shigehide insisted that this engagement was the will of his grandmother in law Joganin. Due to the fact that Joganin was an adopted child of Tunayoshi TOKUGAWA and Yoshimune TOKUGAWA, Bakufu (Japanese feudal government) was unable to overrule his claim and allowed the marriage to take place as planned. The marriage of Shigehime and Ienari took place on February 4, 1789, 13 years after the engagement.
Shigehime together with Toyochiyo and his biological mother Otominokata moved to Nishinomaru quarter in the Edo-jo Castle from Hitotsubashi quarter around October 1781. It was a tradition and customary for a lawful wife of shogun to be selected from daughters of Kuge (a court noble) and Miyake (families allowed to have the status of Imperial family), so Shigehime changed her name to Yasuhime in order to be an adopted child of Tsunehiro KONOE who was related to Shimazu family just prior to Ienari became shogun on November 15, 1787 and married Ienari with yet again changed her name to Tadako KONOE. Also her father Shigehide's lawful wife Yasuhime was Ienari's father Harusada's younger sister and Shigehime and Ienari were cousins in law.
Her reins of power and influence to Satsuma domain governance.
As a result of this marriage, Shigehide SHIMAZU became an unprecedented father in law of Shogun that led to form a reins of power later to be called "Takanawa geba shogun." On the other hand, her biological mother Ichida placed her younger brother Moritsune ICHIDA to the position of Satsumahan issho mochi (position only reserved for Shimazu clan) with her power and acted as if she was a lawful wife of Shigehide after sending Shigehide's another concubine Tsutsumi who was Narinobu SHIMAZU's mother and a daughter of Kuge (Shunkoin (a concubine of Shigehide SHIMAZU)) to Kagoshima from Edo. The reckless management and misappropriation of Satsuma domain governance by Ichida clan led to one of the causes for the occurrence of Kinshiroku-kuzure Incident later.
She gave birth to a son Atsunosuke TOKUGAWA as the fifth son of Ienari in 1796. It was the first time that Midaidokoro (wife of a shogun) gave birth to a baby boy since the second shogun Hidetada TOKUGAWA's lawful wife did. However a son born to a concubine three years earlier was selected to the heir of shogun, Atsunosuke was adopted by one of gosankyo (three privileged branches of Tokugawa family), Shimizu-Tokugawa family. This auspicious event further bolstered Shigehime and Shigehide SHIMAZU's influence and power. However, Atsunosuke died only three years later in1799. She was pregnant in 1798 but had a miscarriage.
From around this time Shigenari began to dislike Shigehime who became arrogant and fell out of his favor to many other concubines.
Repeated denials of the petition by the 9th Satsuma domain lord Narinobu SHIMAZU to return to Satsuma after his retirement for financial reason were believed to be the works of Kodaiin because of her anger stemming from the event that Narinobu excluded Ichida clan from Satsuma government and as such she wielded a considerable clout under the authority of Midaidokoro to Satsuma government.
In 1833, through Yoshinobu ICHIDA (her nephew and Satsuma karo (a chief retainer)), she suggested to the lord of the domain Narioki SHIMAZU (also her nephew same as Yoshinobu) to adopt her husband Ienari's legitimate child Ieyoshi's son Yoshimasa TOKUGAWA however Narioki and Yoshinobu declined politely.
Her later years
In 1837, after her husband Ienari retired as Ogosho (leading figure) and moved their quarters to Nishinomaru, she moved along with him and was called "Omidaisama."
In 1841, due to her husband Ienari's death, she took the tonsure and announced her name as "Kodaiin." Following year, she received official court rank Juichii (Junior First Rank) and hence was called "Ichii-sama."
In the last years, she foiled the plot by one of Ienari's concubines Senkoin to have Yoshiyasu MAEDA whose mother was Yohime (her biological mother was Omiyonokata), a daughter of Ienari, become the next shogun, which was her last action that Midaidokoro should take. Since Kodaiin disliked Omiyonokata, after foiling her plot, Kodaiin did not allow her to become a nun and ousted her from O-oku, which made Omiyonokata afterwards live with her daughter's husband's families one after another (the Maeda clan of Kaga Domain, the Asano clan of Hiroshima Domain).
In 1824, Honmaru was burned down by fire while cooking tempura to be served to Anekoji who was the 12th Shogun Ieyoshi TOKUGAWA's joro (high ranking woman). Kodaiin was evacuated to Fukiage Goten carried by one of oku-jochu's back. The catastrophic fire killed a few hundreds of oku-jochu (a maid working in the domestic quarters of shogun or daimyo).
She deceased in Ooku in 1844. Her posthumous Buddhist name was "Kodaiin tonocho homaretai sadahito Daishi." Her burial place was at Zojo-ji Temple. She was buried in a different temple from Ienari's one.
After the war, when the burial ground for Tokugawa family at Zojo-ji was sold to Seibu Railway Co., Ltd., Kodaiin's grave was also dug up and her height was determined to be 143.8 cm. Her body was pretty small in comparison to other remains of Shogun's lawful wives and concubines that were dug up at the same time. Incidentally, she was known to be a beautiful woman during her lifetime. The condition of Kodaiin's graveyard was deteriorated in such some embroidery believed to be on kimono was floating in mud water and a very little articles were found other than the corpse.
Reference literature "Zojo-ji Temple Tokugawa Shogun's graveyard and its corpse and articles left by the deceased"
Also there was a magnificent hakkaku (star anise) at the burial ground however during the excavation confusion, it disappeared and remains missing since then. After the reburial, while other Shogun's lawful wives were buried along side their husbands, Kodaiin was buried in group burial along with Katsurashoin, Gekkoin and other concubines.