Sakai Tadakatsu - Tokugawa Official

Tokugawa Official

The great office of Tairō was the highest ranking of advisor in the Edo period, and Tadakatsu was amongst the first to be appointed to this position of honor, trust and power. Tadakatsu was a rōjū during the years from 1631 through 1638.

  • Kanei 20 (1643: Dutch sailors and the Dutch ship "Breskens" were captured ashore in northern Honshū. The "Nambu incident" alarmed Shogun Iemitsu, but the bakufu's protracted responses were mitigated by the three men who were the shogun's most senior counselors (the rōjū): Sakai Tadakatsu, Matsudaira Nobutsuna, and Inoue Masashige. In effect, this comes to define who amongst Iemitsu's top advisers were principally responsible for Japan's foreign policy during the reign of the third shogun. The fluid subtlety of the rōjō is illustrated in the thought-provoking debates of modern scholarship, e.g.,
Hesselink departs from his narrative of the Nambu incident to contribute to the significant debate about the nature of Japan's "seclusion" (sakoku) during the Tokugawa period. Recent scholarship, particularly that of Ronald Toby, has held that the intent behind the seclusion edicts of the 1630s was not to isolate Japan from all foreign contact, but to proactively use foreign relations as a means of establishing the bakufu's domestic legitimacy. Hesselink contests this characterization, arguing instead that Japan was genuinely isolated, and that the bakufu's foreign policy was less systematic and far-reaching than scholars have recently claimed. In one important respect, however, Hesselink's research reaffirms the claims of this recent scholarship. By showing how the bakufu went to such great lengths to use the Nambu incident to pressure the Dutch into sending an embassy to Edo, he illustrates how important it was to the bakufu to use diplomatic relations as a means of securing domestic legitimacy. What was for the Dutch merely a cynical gesture aimed at preserving their trade relations with East Asia was for the bakufu a real opportunity to parade twenty-two Dutchmen in red and white striped uniforms through the streets of Edo, thus impressing upon a domestic audience the fiction that the bakufu's authority was recognized throughout the world.
  • Keian 5, 5th month (1652): Nihon Ōdai Ichiran (Nipon o dai itsi ran) is first published in Kyoto under the patronage of the tairō Sakai Tadakatsu, lord of the Obama Domain of Wakasa Province. Tadakatsu was the patron of work first published in Kyoto in 1652. The first copy of this rare book was brought from Japan to Europe by Isaac Titsingh in 1796. Titsingh translated the text from Japanese and Chinese; and his work was then supplemented for posthumous publication by Julius Klaproth in 1834. In supporting this work, Tadakatsu's motivations appear to spread across a range anticipated consequences; and it becomes likely that his several intentions in seeing that this specific work fell into the hands of an empathetic Western translator were similarly multi-faceted.
  • The Lion Dance (Shishi-mai) is a still-popular folk dance imported to Wakasa from Mushu-Kawagoe (Kawagoe, Saitama Prefecture) by Sakai Tadakatsu when he and his descendants were first granted the han of Obama in the early 17th century. Three lions move heroically and elegants to the accompaniment of music played on Japanese flutes. The traditional dance continues to be performed regularly during the Hoze Matsuri and the Osiro Matsuri.

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