Matsudaira Katamori as Military Commissioner of Kyōto
Matsudaira Katamori (松平容保, 1836-1893) was the ninth and last daimyō of Aizu Domain. In the Bakumatsu, the final days of the Edo period, he served as Kyōto Shugoshoku (京都守護職, military commissioner) in the capital. Although he fought the imperial forces in the Boshin War, his life was spared. After the Meiji Restoration, he was entrusted with the leadership of the Nikkō Tōshō-gū shrine. He and his three brothers, Matsudaira Sadaaki (松平定敬, 1847-1908), Tokugawa Yoshikatsu (徳川慶勝, 1824-1883), and Tokugawa Mochinaga (徳川茂徳, 1831-1884), who all held influential positions in the shōgunate, were known as the Four Takasu Brothers (高須四兄弟 Takasu yon-kyōdai).

Matsudaira Katamori was born on 15 February 1836 to Matsudaira Yoshitatsu, the daimyō of the Takasu Domain, and one of his concubines, a woman from the Komori family known by her Buddhist name Zenkyō-in. He was Yoshitatsu's seventh son and was named Keinosuke (銈之丞). In 1846 he was adopted by Matsudaira Katanaka, the daimyō of Aizu. Matsudaira Teru was thus his adopted sister. He married Katanaka's daughter Toshihime in 1865. In 1852, Katamori became the ninth daimyō of Aizu and also inherited the honorary title of Higo no Kami (肥後守, Governor of Higo), traditionally held by daimyō from Aizu.

In 1860, following the assassination of Ii Naosuke, Katamori was called to Edo to mediate between the shogunate and Mito Domain, the home of Naosuke's assailants. In 1862, he was appointed Kyōto's military governor (京都守護職 Kyōto shugoshoku) and was charged with the task of protecting the city from the influence of the Sonnō-jōi movement. Sonnō jōi (尊皇攘夷 or 尊王攘夷) was a political slogan of Japanese neo-Confucianists whose goal was to topple the ruling Tokugawa shōgunate. "Sonnō jōi" can be translated as "Revere the emperor, expel the barbarians." Sonnō-jōi followers demanded that foreigners should be banned from Japan and advocated the deposition of the shōgun . To quell those violent activities, Katamori employed, among others, the Shinsengumi, a ragtag group of swordsmen turned into a police unit and granted extensive rights. Another similar unit, the Kyōto Mimawarigumi (京都見廻組), was commanded by Katamori's brother Sadaaki. Katamori and Matsudaira Yoshinaga advocated a policy of closer cooperation between the court and the bakufu in national matters. In the late summer of 1863, the combined forces of Aizu and Satsuma succeeded in driving the extremists led by men of Chōshū domain. When they attempted to retake Kyōto the following year, Katamori again led Aizu and Satsuma troops and repelled them outside the palace gates (Hamaguri Gomon incident).

After the Battle of Toba-Fushimi on 27 January 1868, Katamori tried to find a peaceful solution and mediated between the shōgunate and the imperial forces, but the members of the new Meiji government refused. The majority of the Meiji representatives were from Chōshū and Satsuma and rejected Katamori outright because of the role he played in Kyōto. Katamori continued to resist the imperial takeover from his native Aizu. Supported by an alliance of like-minded northeastern domains and organizing his army along Western lines, he embarked on a last-ditch effort to defend the Tokugawa interests. In the end, the northern daimyō, including Aizu, were defeated. Katamori surrendered in Wakamatsu Castle and was taken by imperial troops. His life was spared, but he had to spend a few years under house arrest. Later, he became the head kannushi (a ceremonial and administrative head) of the Nikkō Tōshō-gū Shrine but played no more political role. Matsudaira Katamori died on 5 December 1893 and was given the posthumous Shintōist name Masane-unjin (忠誠雲神, Deity of Loyalty and Sincerity).

His son, Matsudaira Nobunori, adopted from the Mito branch of the Tokugawa family, inherited his position. However, he left the Matsudaira family shortly after the Meiji Restoration , so Matsudaira Kataharu, Katamori's eldest biological son, could become the new head of the family. Kataharu, the son of one of his two concubines, Matsudaira Saku (松平佐久, 1846-1909) and Matsudaira Kiyo (松平喜代, 1844-1920), was born after Nobunori's adoption.

Matsudaira Katamori

Katamori in the Bakumatsu period

Matsudaira Katamori

Katamori in the Meiji period

The Four Takasu Brothers

The photo above shows the Four Takasu Brothers: Matsudaira Katamori (standing left) with his brothers (l-r): Matsudaira Sadaaki (1847-1908), Tokugawa Mochinaga (1831-1884), and Tokugawa Yoshikatsu (1824-1883). It was taken on 3 September 1878 by Asakuma Futami, a photographer at Ginza 2-chome, on the occasion of the 17th​ anniversary of their father's death (Matsudaira Yoshikatsu). This was the first time they had reunited after the Meiji Restoration (Collection of the Tokugawa Institute of Forestry History).

More biographical data:

  • Higo no Kami
  • Kyōto Shugoshoku
  • Hachidai Aizu Hanshuu (8th​ generation lord of Aizu)
  • Tōshōgū Gūji (Tōshō-gū's Chief Shintō Priest)

Buddhist kaimyou (death name): Keinosuke
Kami name: enshrined as Masane-unjin, the "god of loyalty and sincerity."
Spouse: Toshihime (Matsudaira Toshiko), 5th​ daughter of 8th​ generation Aizu lord Matsudaira Katanori
Concubines: Katamori was known to have had two concubines, Naka (daughter of Kawamura Genbei, mother of Mine, 2nd​ daughter, 3rd​ and 4th​ sons, and 6th​ son Tsuneo) and Saku (daughter of Tashiro Sonbei. Mother of Kataharu(Keizaburou), 2nd​ son Tatsuo, 5th​ son Hideo, 7th​ son Yasuo).
Parents: Matsudaira Settsu no Kami Yoshitatsu (lord of the Matsudaira of Mino Province's Takasu han), and a woman of the Komori clan, known by her Buddhist name of Zenkyō-in.


  • Eldest - premature death
  • 2nd​ - Yoshikatsu, adopted into Owari Tokugawa clan.
  • 3rd​ - Takenari, adopted into the Matsudaira of Iwami
  • 4th​ - premature death
  • 5th​ - Mochishige, from Matsudaira of Takasu to Owari Tokugawa, and finally to the Hitotsubashi Dainagon (Greater Councilor) family of the Tokugawa.
  • 6th​ - Premature death
  • 7th​ - Katamori, adopted into Matsudaira of Aizu.
  • 8th​ - Sadaaki, adopted into Matsudaira of Kuwana.
  • 9th​ - premature death
  • 10th ​- Yoshitoshi succeeded the headship of Matsudaira of Takasu.
  • Adoptive sister - Teruhime (Teruko). Original name was Hoshina Hikaru. Born 13 December 1832. Daughter of Hoshina Masao, lord of Iino han in Kazusa Province. The 8th​ generation Aizu lord was adopted at age ten, Matsudaira (Hoshina) Katanori. At age 18 (in 1850), he was married to Okudaira Daizen-tayuu Masafuku, lord of Nakatsu han in Buzen Province. Divorced at age 23, she returned to the Aizu mansion in Edo. Trained in naginata under Akaoka Taisuke-sensei, who also taught Nakano Takeko, the future leader of the Aizu Jōshitai. Teruhime died on 28 February 1884. Posthumous name of Shōkei-in.

  • Adopted heir - Wakasa no Kami Yoshinori (also held the title of ji-juu, or chamberlain). 10th​ head of the family. 19th​ son of the Mito Tokugawa lord, Nariaki. First known as Yokumaro. Divorced family in August 1873.
  • Eldest daughter - Miné. Born 31 March 1869. First known as Kou-hime, born in a garden half a year after the castle's fall.
  • The eldest son - Kataharu. 11th​ head of the family. Born 3 June 1869. First known as Keizaburō, born in the Dairyū Temple nine months after the fall of Tsuruga Castle. Later the lord of Tonami han. Became a baron and a captain in the Army cavalry. Member of the House of Lords.
  • 2nd​ daughter - Born in January 1873. Died prematurely.
  • 2nd​ son - Matsuo (or Takeo?). Born in October 1873. He formed his own branch family in 1919.
  • 3rd​ son - Born in March 1874. Died prematurely.
  • 4th​ son -?
  • 5th​ son - Hideo (or Teruo?). Adopted into Yamada family. Born in October 1875.
  • 6th​ son - Tsuneo. Born in April 1877. Formed branch family in May of Meiji 45. Ambassador to England. Holder of Miyauchi-daijin office. Head of the House of Councilors. Father of Princess Chichibu no Miya Setsuko. According to Princess Chichibu, Tsuneo was born in April 1875 on page 5 of her translated memoirs.
  • 7th​ son - Yasuo. Born in December 1878. 12th​ generation head of the clan. Rear Admiral in the Navy. Member of the House of Lords.


  • Papinot, Edmond. Historical and Geographical Dictionary of Japan. Reprint from 1910; Tuttle, 1972
  • Remembering Aizu: The Testament of Shiba Goro. Edited by Ishimitsu Mahito, translated with introduction and notes by Teruko Craig, Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1999.
  • Setsuko, Princess Chichibu. The Silver Drum: A Japanese Imperial Memoir. Global Books, 1996
  • Totman, Conrad. The Collapse of the Tokugawa Bakufu 1862-1868. Hawaii: The University of Hawaii Press, 1980
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