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Morioka Park 1.JPG
The ruins of Morioka Castle, seat of the main Nanbu family.
Home province Kai Province
Parent house Minamoto clan
Titles Various
Founder Minamoto no Mitsuyuki
Final ruler Nanbu Toshiyuki
Current head Toshiaki Nanbu
Founding year 13th century
Dissolution still extant
Ruled until 1873 (Abolition of the han system)
Cadet branches See below

The Nanbu clan ( Nanbu-shi?) is a Japanese samurai kin group[1]


The clan is descended from Takeda Yoshikiyo and the Seiwa-Genji.[1] The Nanbu claimed descent from the Minamoto clan, and its members first enter the historical record as residents of Kai Province during the Kamakura period. The clan later moved to Mutsu. In the Sengoku period, the clan frequently clashed with its neighbors, including the Tsugaru clan, one of its branches which declared independence. The Nanbu clan was on the winning side of the Battle of Sekigahara, and entered the Edo period as the lordly (daimyo) family of the Morioka Domain. Over the course of the Edo period, several branch families were established, each of which received its own fief.

During the Boshin War of 1868−69, the Nanbu clan and its branches fought on the side of the Ouetsu Reppan Domei, the northern alliance of domains. After the collapse of the alliance, the Nanbu clan had much of its land confiscated, and in 1871, the heads of its branches were relieved of office. In the Meiji era, they became part of the new nobility. The main Nanbu line survives to the present day; its current head, Toshiaki Nanbu, is the chief priest of Yasukuni Shrine.


The Nanbu clan claimed descent from the Seiwa Genji, via the Takeda clan of Kai Province.[2] Minamoto no Mitsuyuki, the great-great grandson of Minamoto no Yoshimitsu, was the first to take the Nanbu name.[2] He was established at Nambu in 1180.[1] The earliest written reference to the Nanbu region of Kai is in the late-13th-century writings of the Buddhist monk Nichiren.[2]

Nanbokucho period

After the camplaign of Yoritomo against Fujiwara Yasuhira, Mitusyuki was given Sannohe Domain in Mutsu Province. The Nanbu established themselves in Mutsu in 1189. They remained in the same place until the domain was abolished in 1871.[1]

Sengoku and Azuchi-Momoyama era

Nanbu Nobunao, Nanbu family head in the Azuchi-Momoyama era

In the Sengoku period, the Nanbu clan reached the zenith of its power under the headship of Nanbu Harumasa. Harumasa was very politically active, and corresponded with Oda Nobunaga.[2]

A major point of conflict for the Nanbu clan during these years was its relationship with the Ōura clan. The Ōura were a cadet branch of the Nanbu. They declared their independence from the Nanbu in 1571, during the headship of Ōura Tamenobu. Tamenobu had been vice-district magistrate (郡代補佐 gundai hosa?) under the Nanbu clan's local magistrate Ishikawa Takanobu; however, he attacked and killed Ishikawa and began taking the Nanbu clan's castles.[3] Tamenobu also attacked Kitabatake Akimura (another local power figure) and took his castle at Namioka.[4] The Ōura clan's fight against the Nanbu clan, under Nanbu Nobunao, would continue in the ensuing years. In 1590, Tamenobu pledged fealty to Toyotomi Hideyoshi; Hideyoshi confirmed Tamenobu in his holdings, effectively putting him out of the Nanbu clan's grasp.[4] As the Ōura fief had been in the Tsugaru region on the northern tip of Honshū, the family then changed its name to Tsugaru.[3]

Nanbu Harumasa's heir Nobunao pledged allegiance to Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1590.[2] Hideyoshi confirmed Nobunao's lordship over the Nanbu fief, and helped suppress an uprising by Nobunao's relative Kunohe Masazane.[2] Nobunao thus helped to secure northern Honshū for Toyotomi Hideyoshi.[2]

Edo era

Nanbu Naofusa, first lord of Hachinohe

The Nanbu clan sided with Tokugawa Ieyasu's Eastern Army during the Battle of Sekigahara. In the wake of Ieyasu's victory, the Nanbu clan was confirmed in its lordship of the Morioka Domain (盛岡藩 Morioka-han?) (also known as the Nanbu Domain (南部藩 Nanbu-han?)).[5] The income rating was placed at 100,000 koku, but later in the Edo era, Morioka was given the political ranking of a domain twice its size. The Nanbu clan remained here for the entirety of the Edo Period, surviving until the Meiji Restoration. Over the course of the Edo period, three branches of the Nanbu clan were founded:

  • 1601−1668: Morioka Domain (130,000 koku)[1]
  • 1664−1668: Hachinohe Domain (10,000 koku)[1]
  • 1680−1668: Shichinohe Domain (20,000 koku)[1]

In 1821, the old tensions between the Nanbu and Tsugaru flared once more,[4] in the wake of the Sōma Daisaku Incident (相馬大作事件 Sōma Daisaku jiken?), a foiled plot by Sōma Daisaku, a former retainer of the Nanbu clan, to assassinate the Tsugaru lord.[6] The Nanbu clan's territories were also among those effected by the Tenpo famine of the mid-1830s.[7]

Though no Nanbu lord ever held shogunate office, the Nanbu of Morioka (together with many of the other domains of northern Honshū) assisted the shogunate in policing the frontier region of Ezochi (now Hokkaido).[8] The clan's first direct encounter with foreigners came in the late 16th century, when a Dutch ship, the Breskens, arrived in Nanbu territory. A shore party from the ship was captured by local authorities and taken to Edo.[9] Over the course of its history particularly in the Edo period, there were several retainers of the Nanbu clan who became famous on a national scale. Narayama Sado, a clan elder (karō) who was active during the Boshin War, was one of them; he was responsible for leading the Nanbu clan's political activity and interaction with neighboring domains.[10] Hara Takashi, who later became Prime Minister of Japan, was another.[11] Some 20th-century figures in Japanese politics also came from families of former Nanbu retainers; perhaps the most well known ones were Seishirō Itagaki[12] and Hideki Tōjō.[13]

Boshin War

During the Boshin War of 1868−69, the Nanbu clan was initially neutral.[14] However, under the leadership of Nanbu Toshihisa and the clan elder (家老, karō) Narayama Sado, the Nanbu clan later sided with the northern alliance (the Ōuetsu Reppan Dōmei).[10] On September 23, 1868, the Nanbu clan's troops joined in the attack on the Akita Domain, which had seceded from the alliance and sided with the imperial government.[15] By October 7, Nanbu troops took Ōdate, one of the Akita domain's castles.[16] However, due to the collapse of the alliance, the Nanbu clan surrendered to the imperial army on October 29, 1868.[17] After the war, the Nanbu clan's holdings were drastically reduced by the imperial government as punishment for siding with the northern domains. The Nanbu of Morioka were then briefly moved to Shiroishi before being returned to Morioka.[18] Two years after the war, as with all other daimyo, the heads of all three Nanbu branches were relieved of their offices by the abolition of the han system.[18]

Meiji era

Nanbu Shrine, where the ancestors of the Nanbu clan are enshrined as kami

In the early years of the Meiji era, the main Nanbu line was ennobled with the title of count (hakushaku) in the new nobility system.[19] The Nanbu of Hachinohe and Shichinohe were also ennobled with the title of viscount (shishaku).[19] Count Toshinaga Nanbu, the 42nd generation Nanbu family head, was an officer of the Imperial Japanese Army, he died in battle during the Russo-Japanese War.[20] He was succeeded by his brother Toshiatsu; Toshiatsu was a proponent of the arts and studied painting under Kuroda Seiki. As Toshiatsu's presumptive heir Toshisada died at age 18, Toshiatsu adopted Toshihide Ichijō, his son-in-law, as his heir. Toshihide was the son of Duke Ichijō Saneteru, who was a former court noble.[21] Upon adoption, Toshihide assumed the Nanbu name, and after Toshiatsu's death, became 44th generation Nanbu family head. After Toshihide's death in 1980, his son Toshiaki became 45th generation head. From 2004 through 2009, Toshiaki was the chief priest of Yasukuni Shrine.[22]

Family heads

Morioka branch

The main line or senior branch is the Sannohe, later the Morioka.[2]

  • Mitsuyuki (1165?−1236?).[1]
  • Sanemitsu
  • Tokizane
  • Masamitsu
  • Munetsune
  • Muneyuki
  • Sukeyuki
  • Masatsura
  • Sukemasa
  • Shigetoki
  • Nobunaga
  • Masayuki (?−1388)
  • Moriyuki
  • Yoshimasa
  • Masamori
  • Sukemasa
  • Mitsumasa
  • Tokimasa
  • Michitsugu
  • Nobutoki (1442−1501)
  • Nobuyoshi (1462−1503)
  • Masayasu (1461−1507)
  • Yasunobu (1493−1541)
  • Harumasa (1517−1582)
  • Harutsugu (1570−1582)
  • Nobunao (1546−1599, first lord of the Morioka Domain)[1]
  • Toshinao (1576−1632)[1]
  • Shigenao (1606−1664)
  • Shigenobu (1616−1702)
  • Yukinobu (1642−1702)
  • Nobuoki (1678−1707)
  • Toshimoto (1689−1725)
  • Toshimi (1708−1752)
  • Toshikatsu (1724−1780
  • Toshimasa (1751−1784)
  • Toshinori (1782−1820)
  • Toshimochi (1803−1825)
  • Toshitada (1797−1855)
  • Toshitomo (1824−1888)
  • Toshihisa (1828−1896)
  • Toshiyuki (1855−1903, last lord of Morioka)
  • Toshinaga (1882−1905)
  • Toshiatsu (1884−1930)
  • Toshihide (1907−1980)
  • Toshiaki (1935−2009)[23]

Hachinohe branch

The branch line which was created second is the Hachinohe.

  • Naofusa (1628−1668)
  • Naomasa (1661−1699)
  • Michinobu (1673−1716)
  • Hironobu (1709−1741)
  • Nobuoki (1725−1773)
  • Nobuyori (1747−1781)
  • Nobufusa (1765−1835)
  • Nobumasa (1780−1847)
  • Nobuyuki (1814−1872, last lord of Hachinohe)
  • Sakinobu (1858−1876)
  • Asako (1858−1913)
  • Toshinari (1872−1950)

Shichinohe branch

The branch line which was created third is the Shichinohe.

  • Nobuchika (1776−1821)
  • Nobunori (1805−1862)
  • Nobutami (1833−1900)
  • Nobukata (1858−1923)

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 Papinot, Jacques Edmond Joseph. (1906). Dictionnaire d’histoire et de géographie du Japon; Papinot, (2003). "Nanbu" at Nobiliare du Japon, p. 41 [PDF 45 of 80]; retrieved 2013-4-30.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 (Japanese) "Nanbu-shi" on (accessed 15 August 2008) Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "harimaya" defined multiple times with different content
  3. 3.0 3.1 (Japanese) "Tokugawa Bakufu to Tozama 117 han." Rekishi Dokuhon. April 1976 (Tokyo: n.p., 1976), p. 71. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "rdtsugaru" defined multiple times with different content
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 (Japanese) "Tsugaru-shi" on (accessed 15 August 2008).
  5. (Japanese) Nihonshi yōgoshū (Tokyo: Yamakawa shuppansha, 2000), p. 104.
  6. Ōoka, Taken Captive: A Japanese POW's Story, p. 57.
  7. Totman, Conrad. (1993). Early Modern Japan, p. 253.
  8. (Japanese) Noguchi Shin'ichi (2005). Aizu-han. (Tokyo: Gendai shokan), p. 194.
  9. Papinot,(1906). Historical and Geographical Dictionary, p. 771.
  10. 10.0 10.1 (Japanese) Onodera, Boshin nanboku sensō to Tōhoku seiken, p. 140.
  11. Oka, Five Political Leaders of Modern Japan, p. 85.
  12. Contemporary Japan: A Review of Japanese Affairs, p. 523
  13. Iwao, Seiichi. (1978). Biographical Dictionary of Japanese History, p. 494.
  14. (Japanese) Hoshi, Ōuetsu Reppan Dōmei, pp. 88-89.
  15. (Japanese) Onodera, p. 194.
  16. August 22 by the lunisolar calendar. See (Japanese) Onodera, p. 194.
  17. September 14th by the lunisolar calendar. (Japanese) Onodera, p. 195.
  18. 18.0 18.1 (Japanese) Nanbu chūi 南部中尉, p. 4. (Accessed from National Diet Library, 15 August 2008)
  19. 19.0 19.1 (German) List of Meiji-era Japanese nobility (accessed 15 August 2008)
  20. (Japanese) Nanbu chūi, p. 30.
  21. Inahara, The Japan Year Book, p. 3.
  22. Alford, Peter. "Yasukuni shrine's top priest Toshiaki Nambu dies," The Australian (Sydney). January 9, 2009; Breen, John. "Yasukuni Shrine: Ritual and Memory," Japan Focus. June 3, 2005.
  23. Onishi, Norimitsu. "Ad Man-Turned-Priest Tackles His Hardest Sales Job," New York Times. February 12, 2005; "New Yasukuni chief priest picked," Japan Times. June 13, 2009.


  • Contemporary Japan: A Review of Japanese Affairs (1939). Tokyo: The Foreign Affairs Association of Japan.
  • Hesselink, Reinier H. (2002). Prisoners from Nambu : reality and make-believe in seventeenth-century Japanese diplomacy. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press.
  • Inahara, Katsuji (1937). The Japan Year Book. Tokyo: Foreign affairs association of Japan.
  • Iwao, Seiichi. (1978). Biographical dictionary of Japanese history. Berkeley: University of California.
  • "Japan Focus" article on Yasukuni Shrine (accessed 13 Dec. 2007)
  • Oka, Yoshitake (1986). Five Political Leaders of Modern Japan. Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press.
  • Ōoka, Shōhei (1996). Taken Captive: A Japanese POW's Story. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
  • Papinot, Edmund. (1948). Historical and Geographical Dictionary of Japan. New York: Overbeck Co.
  • Totman, Conrad. (1993). Early Modern Japan. Berkeley: University of California Press.


  • Papinot, Jacques Edmund Joseph. (1906) Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie du japon. Tokyo: Librarie Sansaisha. Nobiliaire du japon (2003, abridged online text of 1906 book).]



  • Asada, Jirō (2008). Mibu gishiden. Tokyo: Kashiwa shoten.
  • Onodera, Eikō (2005). Boshin nanboku sensō to Tōhoku seiken Sendai: Kita no mori.
  • "Hachinohe-han" on Edo 300 HTML (accessed 15 August 2008).
  • Hoshi, Ryōichi (1997). Ōuetsu Reppan Dōmei. Tokyo: Chūōkōron-shinsha.
  • "Morioka-han" on Edo 300 HTML (accessed 15 August 2008).
  • ---- (1913). Nanbu chūi 南部中尉. n.p.:Kikuchi Gorō. (Accessed from National Diet Library, 15 August 2008)
  • "Nanbu-shi" on (accessed 15 August 2008).
  • ---- (2000). Nihonshi yōgoshū. Tokyo: Yamakawa shuppansha.
  • Mori, Kahee (1967). Nanbu Nobunao. Tokyo: Jinbutsu Ōraisha.
  • Noguchi Shin'ichi (2005). Aizu-han. Tokyo: Gendai shokan.
  • "Shichinohe-han" on Edo 300 HTML (accessed 15 August 2008).
  • "Tokugawa Bakufu to Tozama 117 han." Rekishi Dokuhon Magazine, April 1976.
  • "Tsugaru-shi" on (accessed 15 August 2008).

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