Tokugawa Ieshige and Must-Visit Places Related to the Tokugawa Shogunate

Tokugawa Ieshige was appointed as the ninth shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate during the year 1745. He was the eldest son of Tokugawa Yoshimune from Osuma no Kata, who unfortunately died when Tokugawa Ieshige was just two years old.

As such, he was initially raised by Okon no Kata, the concubine of Tokugawa Yoshimune, until the time came when he had to be taken care of Tokugawa Yoshimune’s other concubines after giving birth to their own children. Okume no Kata treated Tokugawa Ieshige as her biological son.

Throughout his adolescence, Tokugawa Ieshige was called Nagatomi-maru. He was first married to Nami-no-Miya Masuko, Prince Fushimi-no-Miya Kuninaga’s daughter, then to Oko, a daughter of one of his first wife’s courtiers. Oko, who is often described to have had a good-natured soul, was the mother of Tokugawa Ieharu, the next shogun after Tokugawa Ieshige.

By 日本語: 伝狩野英信English: Attributed to Kanō Terunobu [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

According to records, Tokugawa Ieshige repeatedly suffered from various illnesses and had a relatively severe speech defect, which made Tokugawa Yoshimune’s decision to make him his heir quite controversial.

The majority of the community believed that Tokugawa Ieshige’s younger brothers were better suited to be shogun but Tokugawa Yoshimune ignored these opinions and pushed through with his decision.

However, Tokugawa Ieshige did not really have an interest in government affairs and chose to have all the decisions be made by Ooka Tadamitsu, his chamberlain. The shogun then chose to retire from his position during the year 1760 and appointed Tokugawa Ieharu as the tenth shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate.

Some basic facts about Tokugawa Ieshige are as follows:

  • Date of Birth: 27th day of January, 1712

  • Parents: Tokugawa Yoshimune and Osuma no Kaya; Adopted Mother: Okume no Kata

  • Wives: Nami-no-Miya Masuko and Oko

  • Concubines: Oko no Kata, Oitsu no Kaya, Oshizu no Kta, Oyu no Kaya

  • Children: Tokugawa Ieharu, and Tokugawa Shigeyoshi

  • Date of Death: 13th day of July, 1761

  • Time in Office: 1745 – 1760

Must-Visit Places in Japan Related to the Tokugawa Shogunate

Tokugawa Art Museum

By Tokugawa Reimei Kai (Public interest corp) trustees for the House of Owari Tokugawa and the Tokugawa Art Museum [Copyrighted free use], via Wikimedia Commons

The Tokugawa Art Museum can be located on the former feudal residence of the Owari, a major branch of the Tokugawa Clan during the Edo Period. Some of the things housed by the Tokugawa Art Museum include treasures of the Tokugawa Clan such as scrolls, maps, poems, noh masks, costumes, tea utensils, swords, and samurai armors.

Visitors can also find a stunning Japanese garden right next to the Tokugawa Art Museum. This landscape garden is called Tokugawa-en and features a large pond in the center. According to records, the Tokugawa-en used to serve as the retirement villa of the daimyos (local lords) of the area during ancient times.

It was destroyed sometime during the war and was only restored back in the year 2001, before opening its doors to the public in 2004. The garden features a variety of walking paths for visitors to explore which house various attractions including rest houses, tea houses, and several bridges.

Among the best times to visit the Tokugawa Art Museum and the Tokugawa-en include the month of April when its peonies are in full bloom, the months of May or June when the Iris gardens come alive with color, and during the autumn season when the place is filled with vivid shades of orange, yellow, and red.

Hours: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM, daily (For the Tokugawa Art Museum); 9:30 AM – 5:30 PM, daily (For the Tokugawa-en Garden); Closed on Mondays and from December 14 to January 1 (For the Tokugawa Art Museum and the Tokugawa-en Garden); Closed from January 2 to January 4 (For the Tokugawa Art Museum)

Admission Fee: 1,200 yen per person (For the Tokugawa Art Museum); 300 yen per person (For the Tokugawa-en Garden); 1,350 yen per person (For the Tokugawa Art Museum and the Tokugawa-en Garden)

Tokugawa Mausoleum

The Tokugawa Mausoleum, or known by the locals as the Tokugawa-ke Reidai, can be located on Mount Koya of the Wakayama Prefecture. It dates back to the year 1643 when it was built through the order of Tokugawa Iemitsu for the purpose of members of his family have a tomb near that of Kobo Daishi, or Kukai, the founder of Shingon Buddhism.

Visitors can expect to see a couple of buildings at the site, one of which enshrines Tokugawa Ieyasu, while the other enshrines Tokugawa Hidetada; the first two shoguns of the Tokugawa shogunate.

Both of these buildings feature an identical design and took about twenty years to finish construction. Each building carries an extravagant style that perfectly shows the preferences of the Japanese community during the Edo Period, i.e. intricate carvings, gold leaf, lacquer, graceful sloping roofs, and rich ornamentation.

It should be noted that the Tokugawa Mausoleum is not the only one that exists in Japan that was built for members of the Tokugawa Clan.

Hours: 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM, daily

Admission Fee: 200 yen per person (For the Tokugawa Mausoleum); 2,000 yen per person (For the Tokugawa Mausoleum and other attractions located on Mount Koya)


Yanaka is a charming old neighborhood in Tokyo which carries a shitamachi atmosphere, reminiscent of Japan’s ancient days. Even visitors with no idea of Japan’s history can feel a sense of nostalgia when walking through the rather rustic district.

It is just a walking distance away from the Ueno Park and serves as a pleasant break from the busy city life most of Tokyo’s other tourist attractions have to offer. Some of the sights and activities housed by the old town include:

  • Yanaka Ginza – a shopping street where tourists can buy local produce and goods

  • Yanesen Tourist Information Center – a place where visitors can get more information about the old town and the various art classes it offers to foreign travelers, i.e. flower art, Japanese instrument playing, calligraphy, and Japanese ink painting

  • Yanaka Cemetery – the resting place of locals who have passed away. Most of the tombs housed by the cemetery feature elaborate decorations and are beautifully landscaped. The cemetery also houses Tokugawa Yoshinobu’s (the last shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate) grave.

  • Tennoji Temple – a peaceful temple that used to be part of the Yanaka Cemetery but was recognized as a separate attraction during the Meiji Period. Aside from its pleasant atmosphere and walking paths, its main feature is the massive bronze Buddha statue that can be located towards the left of the main temple building.

Hours: Not applicable

Admission Fee: Not applicable

Kawagoe Castle (Honmaru Goten)

The Kawagoe Castle dates back to the year 1457. During Tokugawa Ieyasu’s reign, he took control of the castle and had a highly significant loyal subject appointed as its lord. At the time, Kawagoe served as an important trade city, given its strategic location as a defense point of the capital from the North.

A total of 21 lords, all of which were allies of the Tokugawa shogunate, made the Kawagoe Castle their residence throughout the Edo Period.

At present, only the Honmaru Goten, which roughly translates to mean “the inner-most circle of defense’s palace” remains standing. During ancient times, this building either served as the main residential home or housed the offices of the local lord.

Some points of interest housed by the Honmaru Goten include massive tatami rooms, a beautiful garden, and a handful of life-like models of the lord and his vassals.

Hours: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM, daily; Closed on Mondays or the following day if a national holiday falls on Monday; Closed every fourth Friday of the Month; Closed from December 29 to January 3

Admission Fee: 100 yen per person (For the Honmaru Goten); 300 yen per person (For the Honmaru Goten, City Museum, and the Kurazukuri Museum); 450 yen per person (For the Honmaru Goten, City Museum, the Kurazukuri Museum, and the Art Museum); 650 yen per person (For the Honmaru Goten, City Museum, the Kurazukuri Museum, the Art Museum, and the Festival Museum)

Toshogu Shrine

Joe Mabel [CC BY-SA 2.0 (, CC BY-SA 3.0 (, GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The Toshogu Shrine, or simply referred to as Toshogu, serves as Tokugawa Ieyasu’s final resting place. The founder of the Tokugawa bakufu is enshrined at this location as Tosho Daigongen, a god better known as the East Shining Light’s Great Deity.

Originally, the mausoleum featured a rather simple design. When Tokugawa Iemitsu, the grandson of Tokugawa Ieyasu, came into power, he had the Toshogu Shrine enlarged and made more extravagant during the early 1600s.

As such, visitors can expect to see over a dozen, lavishly decorated structures, all of which are set in a stunning forest. A lot of gold leaf and intricate wood carvings can be observed throughout the complex which are some of the defining properties of the architectural style preferred during the Edo Period.

Some notable points of interest within the shrine include a five-story pagoda, several storehouses, the Yomeimon Gate, the Honjido Hall, the Nemurineko, and the Nikko Toshogu Museum.

Hours: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM, daily

Admission Fee: 1,300 yen per person (For the Toshogu Shrine); 1,000 yen per person (For the Nikko Toshogu Museum); 2,100 yen per person (For the Toshogu Shrine and the Nikko Toshogu Museum)

Iemitsu Mausoleum

The Iemitsu Mausoleum, which also goes by the name Taiyuinbyo, serves as the resting place of the third shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate. Similar to the mausoleums of the other members of the Tokugawa Clan, the Iemitsu Mausoleum features relatively lavish details and architectural design.

However, it is significantly more modest compared to the Toshogu, as a way of showing Tokugawa Iemitsu’s respect for his grandfather, Tokugawa Ieyasu.

Similar to the Toshogu Shrine, the Iemitsu Mausoleum houses a variety of Shinto and Buddhist structures. Some must-visit sights scattered throughout the complex include a stunning vermillion gate known as the Niomon Gate, the Karamon Fate, the praying hall, and the honden.

Hours: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM, daily

Admission Fee: 550 yen per person

Nijo Castle

CC BY-SA 3.0,

The Nijo Castle, or also known as Nijojo, dates back to the year 1603. It served as the residence of Tokugawa Ieyasu in Kyoto during his reign. It is also among the several structures that Tokugawa Ieyasu’s grandson, Tokugawa Iemitsu, had renovated and expanded to feature a larger design.

After the fall of the Tokugawa shogunate during the year 1867. The Nijo Castle became an Imperial Palace for a short period of time before it was donated as a public, historic site to the city.

At present, it stands among the best examples of Japan’s feudal era castles. In fact, the Nijo Castle was designated as a World Heritage Site back in the year 1994 by UNESCO.

The main sections of the Nijo Castle include the main circle of defense (the Honmaru), the secondary circle of defense (the Ninomaru), and several gardens surrounding both circles. The complex also features various moats and stone walls.

Hours: 8:45 AM – 5:00 PM, daily; Closed every Tuesday during the months of December, August, July, and January; Closed from December 26 to January 4

Admission Fee: 600 yen per person

Kunozan Toshogu Shrine

The Kunozan Toshogu Shrine, or simply the Kunozan Toshogu, is dedicated to Tokugawa Ieyasu for his efforts in bringing an end to the civil wars experienced by Japan.

Visitors who want to visit the shrine should note that the main approach to the Kuzozan Toshogu requires a significant amount of hiking. Nonetheless, the stunning views of the oceanside and the Suruga Bay make the considerable climb all the more worth it.

Some of the things visitors can expect to see at the Kunozan Toshogu Shrine include the Romon Gate, the Haiden, the Honden, the Kunozan Toshogu Museum, and the Ninhondaira Plateau.

Hours: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM, daily

Admission Fee: 500 yen per person (For the Kunozan Toshogu Shrine); 400 yen per person (For the Kunozan Toshogu Museum); 800 yen per person (For the Kunozan Toshogu Shrine and the Kunozan Toshogu Museum)

Sumpu Castle

The Sumpu Castle, also referred to as Sumpujo, dates back to the year 1586 when it was built by Tokugawa Ieyasu, It served as the shogun’s retirement home and is aptly named after the former name of Shizuoka City. From the JR Shizuoka Station, visitors can reach the Sumpu Castle within ten minutes of walking.

Over the years, the buildings of the Sumpu Castle failed to survive the wars and natural disasters experienced by the area. As such, the site mostly consists of large expanses that have been converted into public park areas.

Other things to expect at the Sumpu Castle include an impressive gate and guard tower, the Momijiyama Japanese Garden, and a charming teahouse located at one corner of the garden.

Hours: 9:00 AM – 4:30 PM, daily (For the East Gate and the Momijiyama Japanese Garden); Closed every Monday or the following day when a national holiday falls on Monday; Closed from December 29 to January 3

Admission Fee: 200 yen per person (For the East Gate); 150 yen per person (For the Momijiyama Japanese Garden) 360 yen per person (For the East Gate and the Momijiyama Japanese Garden)