Yonezawa Domain
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Yonezawa Domain
Moats of Yonezawa Castle, administrative center of Yonezawa Domain

Yonezawa Domain (, Yonezawa-han) was a feudal domain in Edo period Japan, located in Dewa Province (modern-day Yamagata Prefecture), Japan. It was centered at Yonezawa castle in what is now the city of Yamagata, and its territory extended over the Okitama District of Dewa Province, in what is today southeastern Yamagata Prefecture. It was ruled throughout its history by the Uesugi clan, as tozama daimy?, with an initial income of 300,000 koku, which later fell to 150,000-180,000. The Uesugi were ranked as a province-holding daimy? (, kunimochi daimy?), and as such, had the privilege of shogunal audiences in the Great Hall (?hiroma) of Edo Castle.[1]

The domain shifted from a poor, indebted, and corruptly led domain to a very prosperous one in only a few decades in the 1760s-80s. Yonezawa was declared in 1830 by the shogunate to be the paragon of a well-managed domain. Scholar Mark Ravina used Yonezawa as a case study,[2] in analysing the political status and conceptions of statehood and identity in the feudal domains of the Edo period (1603-1868).


The region which later became Yonezawa Domain was held by the Date clan for much of the Sengoku period, from 1548 to 1591, when Toyotomi Hideyoshi came to power and declared the Date move to Iwadeyama in Mutsu Province. The Gam? clan were given Aizu to govern under the Uesugi, and Tair? Uesugi Kagekatsu gave his kar? (advisor) Naoe Kanetsugu a 300,000 koku income.

In 1600, however, the Uesugi opposed Tokugawa Ieyasu in the Sekigahara Campaign, and lost, becoming tozama daimy? (outsider lords) under the new shogunate. Their income and territory worth 1,200,000 koku was reduced to 300,000, and they were forced to leave their holdings in Aizu, and were allowed to keep only Yonezawa, which they recovered from Naoe Kanetsugu. Their new domain thus consisted of 180,000 koku in Dewa Province, and 120,000 koku in neighboring Mutsu province. This 300,000 koku territory would represent the peak of the Uesugi clan's income during the Tokugawa period.

As with most of the han, Yonezawa acted as a semi-independent state, ruled directly by its daimy?. The Uesugi demanded respect for the shogunate from their retainers, and forbade public criticism, but only imposed and enforced those edicts and policies set by the central authorities which they chose to. Retainers were ordered to obey shogunal laws while outside the domain, but within it, shogunal orders did not apply unless conveyed by the daimy?.[3]

In 1664, the third daimy? of Yonezawa, Uesugi Tsunakatsu, died without producing an heir. The succession was determined at the advice of his father-in-law, Hoshina Masayuki, the younger brother to sh?gun Tokugawa Iemitsu. He suggested that the clan adopt Uesugi Tsunanori, the son of Tsunakatsu's younger sister and Kira Yoshinaka as heir, although this would mean splitting the domain in half, down to only the 150,000 koku portion within Dewa province. This decision led to severe financial difficulties in the domain, for the Uesugi and their administration, and for the increasingly impoverished peasants. The problem became so severe that the eighth daimy?, Uesugi Shigetada, seriously considered surrendering the domain to the shogunate. Instead, he resigned his position as daimy? in favor of Uesugi Harunori, who then began to reform the domain's administration and to revive its economy. He introduced strict disciplinary measures, and ordered the execution of several kar? who opposed his plans. In order to finance castle repairs imposed upon his domain by the shogunate, Harunori asked his retainers to agree to a reduction of their stipends. As a result of these various measures, Yonezawa again became fairly prosperous, and did not suffer much from the great famine which swept Japan in the Tenmei era (1781-89). In 1830, the shogunate formally declared Yonezawa to be a choice example of a well-governed domain.

The domain had a population of 127,277 people in 23,440 households per the 1870 census. It maintained its primary residence (kamiyashiki) in Edo near the Sakurada-mon gate to Edo Castle. The site is now the head office of the Ministry of Justice (Japan).[4] The domain's secondary residence (shimoyashiki) was in Azabu, and its tertiary residences (nakayashiki) was in Shirogane.

When the Boshin War erupted in 1868, and the shogunate came to an end with the abdication of sh?gun Tokugawa Yoshinobu, the Uesugi joined the "Northern Alliance" (?uetsu Reppan D?mei), voicing their support for the embattled Aizu domain and opposing Satsuma and Ch?sh? domination of the new imperial government, while stating an intent to "reconquer Japan, that the Emperor may indeed reign over it."[5] The Alliance members also acknowledged their debt to Hoshina Masayuki, the first Aizu lord, who was a respected figure in many domains. After several months the Alliance was defeated, and the new Meiji government reduced the domain by 40,000 koku, and its subsidiary domain of "Yonezawa Shinden han" was abolished in 1869. Yonezawa Domain became Yonezawa prefecture with the abolition of the han system as a whole two years later, and was then combined with Okitama prefecture to form Yamagata prefecture.

The final daimy? of Yonezawa, Uesugi Mochinori, was later ennobled with the new kazoku peerage title of hakushaku (Count).

List of daimy?

Name Tenure Courtesy title Court Rank revenues
1 Uesugi Kagekatsu (?) 1601-1623 Echigo-no-kami (); Chunagon (); 3rd () 300,000 koku
2 Uesugi Sadakatsu (?) 1623-1645 Sakon'e-sh?sh? () Lower 4th (?) 300,000 koku
3 Uesugi Tsunakatsu (?) 1645-1664 Harima-no-kami () ); Jij? () Lower 4th (?) 300,000 koku
4 Uesugi Tsunanori (?) 1664-1703 Danj?-daihitsu (?); Jij? () Lower 4th (?) 150,000 koku
5 Uesugi Yoshinori (?) 1703-1722 Minbu-taifu (?) Lower 4th (?) 150,000 koku
6 Uesugi Munenori (?) 1722-1734 Danj?-daihitsu (?); Jij? () Lower 4th (?) 150,000 koku
7 Uesugi Munefusa (?) 1734-1746 Minbu-taifu (?) Lower 4th (?) 150,000 koku
8 Uesugi Shigesada (?) 1746-1767 Oi-no-kami ( ) Lower 4th (?) 150,000 koku
9 Uesugi Harunori (?) 1767-1785 Danj?-daihitsu (?); Jij? () Lower 4th (?) 150,000 koku
10 Uesugi Haruhito (?) 1785-1812 Danj?-daihitsu (?); Jij? () Lower 4th (?) 150,000 koku
11 Uesugi Narisada (?) 1812-1839 Danj?-daihitsu (?); Jij? () Lower 4th (?) 150,000 koku
12 Uesugi Narinori (?) 1839-1869 Danj?-daihitsu (?); Jij? () Lower 4th (?) 150,000 -> 180,000 koku
13 Uesugi Mochinori (?) 1869-1871 Shikibu-taifu (?); Jij? () 2nd () 180,000 -> 147,000 koku


  • Nagao Tamekage (1489-1543)
    • UESUGI KENSHIN (1530-1578)
    • Aya-gozen (1524-1609), m. Nagao Masakage (1526-1564)
      • Simple silver crown.svg I. Uesugi Kagekatsu, 1st daimy? of Yonezawa (cr. 1601) (1556-1623; r. 1601-1623)
        • Simple silver crown.svg II. Sadakatsu, 2nd daimy? of Yonezawa (1604-1645; r. 1623-1645)
          • Simple silver crown.svg III. Tsunakatsu, 3rd daimy? of Yonezawa (1639-1664; r. 1645-1664)
          • Umemine-in (Tomiko) (1643-1704), m. Kira Yoshinaka (1641-1703)
            • Simple silver crown.svg IV. Tsunanori, 4th daimy? of Yonezawa (1663-1704; r. 1664-1703)
              • Simple silver crown.svg V. Yoshinori, 5th daimy? of Yonezawa (1684-1722; r. 1703-1722)
                • Simple silver crown.svg VI. Munenori, 6th daimy? of Yonezawa (1714-1734; r. 1722-1734)
                • Simple silver crown.svg VII. Munefusa, 7th daimy? of Yonezawa (1718-1787; r. 1734-1746)
                • Simple silver crown.svg VIII. Shigesada, 8th daimy? of Yonezawa (1720-1798; r. 1746-1767)
                  • Katsuhiro (1760-1807)
                    • Simple silver crown.svg XI. Narisada, 11th daimy? of Yonezawa (1788-1839; r. 1812-1839)
                      • Simple silver crown.svg XII. Narinori, 12th daimy? of Yonezawa (1820-1889; r. 1839-1869)
                        • Simple silver crown.svg XIII. Mochinori, 13th daimy?, 14th family head, 1st Count (1844-1919; daimy?: 1869; Governor: 1869-1871; 14th family head: 1869-1919; Count: 1884)
                          • Noriaki, 2nd Count, 15th family head (1876-1953; 15th family head: 1919-1953; 2nd Count: 1919-1947)
                            • Takanori, 16th family head (1917-1995; 16th family head: 1953-1995)
                              • Kuninori, 17th family head (b. 1943; 17th family head: 1995- )
                                • Hironori (b. 1969)
                  • Simple silver crown.svg X. Haruhito, 10th daimy? of Yonezawa (1764-1822; r. 1785-1812)
            • Toyohime, m. Kuroda Nagasada, 4th daimy? of Akizuki (1695-1754)
              • Haruhime, m. Akizuki Tanemitsu, 6th daimy? of Takanabe (1718-1787)
                • Simple silver crown.svg IX. Harunori, 9th daimy? of Yonezawa (1751-1822; r. 1767-1785)



Famous advisors (kar?) of the Yonezawa Domain through the course of the Edo period included Chisaka Takafusa, Irobe Matashir?, and Chisaka Takamasa.

Secondary domains

Yonezawa Shinden Domain

Yonezawa Shinden Domain (, Yonezawa Shinden han) was founded in 1719 for Uesugi Katsuchika, the fourth son of Uesugi Tsunanori, the 4th daimy? of Yonezawa Domain, who assigned him 10,000 koku of new rice revenues. The domain continued as a subsidiary of Yonezawa Domain, ruled by a succession of younger sons of the parent house. Following the defeat of Yonezawa Domain in the Boshin War, Yonezawa Shinden Domain was reabsorbed into its parent domain, and its final daimy?, Uesugi Katsumichi was later granted the kazoku peerage title of shishaku (viscount).

Name Tenure Courtesy title Court Rank kokudaka
1 Uesugi Katsuchika (?) 1719-1749 Suruga-no-kami () Lower 5th (?) 10,000 koku
2 Uesugi Katsuyoshi (?) 1749-1785 Suruga-no-kami () Lower 5th (?) 10,000 koku
3 Uesugi Katsusada (?) 1785-1815 Suruga-no-kami () Lower 5th (?) 10,000 koku
4 Uesugi Katsuyoshi (?) 1815-1842 Suruga-no-kami () Lower 5th (?) 10,000 koku
5 Uesugi Katsumichi (?) 1842-1869 Sado-no-kami () Lower 5th (?) 10,000 koku


  • Papinot, E (1910). Historical and Geographic Dictionary of Japan. Tuttle (reprint) 1972.
  • Sasaki Suguru (2004). Boshin Sens? ?. Tokyo: Chuok?ron-shinsha.

External links


  1. ^ "Yonezawa-han"
  2. ^ Mark Ravina (1999). Land and Lordship in Early Modern Japan. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
  3. ^ Toby, Ronald (2001). "Rescuing the Nation from History: The State of the State in Early Modern Japan". Monumenta Nipponica 56:2. p206.
  4. ^ ["Archived copy". Archived from the original on June 10, 2015. Retrieved 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Edo daimyo.net (in Japanese)
  5. ^ John R. Black. Young Japan: Yokohama and Yedo, Vol. II (London: Trubner & Co., 1881), pp. 213-215
  6. ^ Genealogy (jp)

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