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Grave of Shimazu family at Mount Koya.

The Shimazu clan (島津氏 Shimazu-shi?) were the daimyō of the Satsuma han, which spread over Satsuma, Ōsumi and Hyūga provinces in Japan.

The Shimazu were identified as one of the tozama or outsider daimyō families [1] in contrast with the fudai or insider clans which were hereditary vassals or allies of the Tokugawa clan.


The Shimazu were descendants of the Seiwa Genji branch of the Minamoto. The Shimazu would become one of the families of Edo period daimyō to have held their territory continuously since the Kamakura period, and would also become, at their peak, the wealthiest and most powerful tozama family with an income in excess of 700,000 koku.

The founder, Shimazu Tadahisa (d. 1227), was a son of Shogun Minamoto no Yoritomo (1147-1199) with the sister of Hiki Yoshikazu. Tadahisa's wife was a daughter of Koremune Hironobu, descendant of the Hata clan, whose name Tadahisa took at first. He received the domain of Shioda in Shinano Province in 1186 and was then named shugo of Satsuma Province. He sent Honda Sadachika to take possession of the province in his name and accompanied Yoritomo in his expedition to Mutsu in 1189. He went to Satsuma in 1196, subdued Hyūga and Ōsumi provinces, and built a castle in the domain of Shimazu (Hyuga) which name he also adopted.

The 19th head, Yoshihiro (1535–1619), was the daimyō at the time of the Battle of Sekigahara, the establishment of the Tokugawa Shogunate, and the Siege of Osaka.[2] His nephew and successor was Shimazu Tadatsune.[3] He held significant power during the first two decades of the 17th century, and organized the Shimazu invasion of the Ryūkyū Kingdom (modern-day Okinawa Prefecture) in 1609. Tokugawa allowed this because he wished to appease the Shimazu and prevent potential uprisings after their loss at Sekigahara.[4] The trade benefits thus acquired, and the political prestige of being the only daimyō family to control an entire foreign country secured the family's position as one of the most powerful daimyō families in Japan at the time.

The Shimazu clan is renowned for the loyalty of its retainers and officers, especially during the Sengoku period. Some retainer families, such as the Ijuin and Shirakawa, were determined to defeat any opposition to help expand the power of the Shimazu clan. The Shimazu are also famous for being the first to use firearms (arquebuses) on the battlefield in Japan, and began domestic production of the weapons as well. Shimazu battle tactics are known to have been very successful in defeating larger enemy armies, particularly during their campaign to conquer Kyūshū in the 1580s. Their tactics included the luring of the opposition into an ambush on both sides by arquebus troops, creating panic and disorder. Central forces would then be deployed to rout the enemy. In this way, the Shimazu were able to defeat much larger clans such as the Itō, Ryūzōji and Ōtomo. Overall, the Shimazu was a very large and powerful clan due to their strong economy both from domestic production through trade, good organization of government and troops, strong loyalty of retainers and isolation from Honshū.

Hisamitsu (1817–1887), regent of Tadayoshi, was the daimyō of Satsuma han at the time of the Boshin War and the Meiji Restoration, in which Satsuma played a major role.[5]

The Shimazu clan mon (crest).

Simplified family tree

Incorporates information from the Japanese Wikipedia article

  • Simple silver crown.svg I. Shimazu Iehisa, 1st Lord of Satsuma (cr. 1601) (1576-1638; r. 1601-1638)
    • Simple silver crown.svg II. Mitsuhisa, 2nd Lord of Satsuma (1616-1695; r. 1638-1687)
      • Tsunahisa (1632-1673)
        • Simple silver crown.svg III. Tsunataka, 3rd Lord of Satsuma (1650-1704; r. 1687-1704)
          • Simple silver crown.svg IV. Yoshitaka, 4th Lord of Satsuma (1675-1747; r. 1704-1721)
            • Simple silver crown.svg V. Tsugutoyo, 5th Lord of Satsuma (1702-1760; r. 1721-1746)
              • Simple silver crown.svg VI. Munenobu, 6th Lord of Satsuma (1728-1749; r. 1746-1749)
              • Simple silver crown.svg VII. Shigetoshi, 7th Lord of Satsuma (1729-1755; r. 1749-1755)
                • Simple silver crown.svg VIII. Shigehide, 8th Lord of Satsuma (1745-1833; r. 1755-1787)
                  • Simple silver crown.svg IX. Narinobu, 9th Lord of Satsuma (1774-1841; r. 1787-1809)
                    • Simple silver crown.svg X. Narioki, 10th Lord of Satsuma (1791-1858; r. 1809-1851)
                      • Simple silver crown.svg XI. Nariakira, 11th Lord of Satsuma (1809-1858; r. 1851-1858)
                      • Hisamitsu, 1st head and Prince of the Shimazu-Tamari line (Shimazu-Tamari line cr. 1871; cr. 1st Prince 1884) (1817-1887)
                        • Simple silver crown.svg XII. Tadayoshi, 12th Lord of Satsuma, 1st Prince Shimazu (1840-1897; r. 1858-1869, Governor of Kagoshima 1869-1871, created 1st Prince 1884)
                          • XIII. Tadashige, 13th family head, 2nd Prince Shimazu (1886-1968; 13th family head 1897-1968, 2nd Prince Shimazu 1897-1947)
                            • XIV. Tadahide, 14th family head (1912-1996; 14th family head 1968-1996)
                              • XV, Nobuhisa, 15th family head (1938-; 15th family head 1996- )
                                • Tadahiro (1972- )
                        • Tadasumi, 2nd head and Prince of the Shimazu-Tamari line (1855-1915; 2nd head and Prince 1887-1915)
                          • Tadatsugu, 3rd head and Prince of the Shimazu-Tamari line (1903-1990; 3rd head 1915-1990; 3rd Prince 1915-1947)
                            • Tadahiro, 4th head of the Shimazu-Tamari line (1933- ; 4th head 1990 - )
                              • Tadami (1961 - )
                                • Tadayoshi (1993 - )


Order of Succession

  1. Shimazu Tadahisa
  2. Shimazu Tadatoki[7]
  3. Shimazu Hisatsune[7]
  4. Shimazu Tadamune
  5. Shimazu Sadahisa[7]
  6. Shimazu Morohisa
  7. Shimazu Ujihisa
  8. Shimazu Yuihisa
  9. Shimazu Motohisa
  10. Shimazu Hisatoyo
  11. Shimazu Tadakuni
  12. Shimazu Tachihisa
  13. Shimazu Tadamasa
  14. Shimazu Tadaosa
  15. Shimazu Tadataka
  16. Shimazu Katsuhisa
  17. Shimazu Takahisa[8]
  18. Shimazu Yoshihisa[9]
  19. Shimazu Yoshihiro[2]
  20. Shimazu Tadatsune[3]
  21. Shimazu Mitsuhisa
  22. Shimazu Tsunataka
  23. Shimazu Yoshitaka
  24. Shimazu Tsugutoyo
  25. Shimazu Munenobu
  26. Shimazu Shigetoshi
  27. Shimazu Shigehide[10]
  28. Shimazu Narinobu
  29. Shimazu Narioki
  30. Shimazu Nariakira[11]
  31. Shimazu Tadayoshi (with his father, Shimazu Hisamitsu,[5] as regent)
  32. Shimazu Tadashige
  33. Shimazu Toyohisa
  34. Shimazu Yoshihiro A

Other Members

  • Shimazu Sanehisa
  • Shimazu Kiriyama (Exiled, self-imposed)
  • Shimazu Shigehide[12]

Important Retainers

The Shimazu shichi-tō comprised the seven most significant vassal families—the Niiro, Hokugō, Ijuin,[13] Machida, Kawakami, Ata and Kajiki.[14]

See also


  1. Appert, Georges et al. (1888). Ancien Japon, pp. 77., p. 77, at Google Books
  2. 2.0 2.1 Nussbaum, Louis Frédéric et al. (2005). "Shimazu Yoshihiro" in Japan encyclopedia, p. 860., p. 860, at Google Books; n.b., Louis-Frédéric is pseudonym of Louis-Frédéric Nussbaum, see Deutsche Nationalbibliothek Authority File.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Nussbaum, "Shimazu Tadatsune" at p. 860., p. 860, at Google Books
  4. Kerr, George H. (2000). Okinawa: the History of an Island People, p. 158., p. 158, at Google Books
  5. 5.0 5.1 Nussbaum, "Shimazu Hisamitsu" at p. 861., p. 861, at Google Books
  6. Shimazu genealogy
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Kerr, p. 58., p. 58, at Google Books
  8. Nussbaum, "Shimazu Takahisa" at p. 860., p. 860, at Google Books
  9. Kerr, p. 153., p. 153, at Google Books
  10. Nussbaum, "Shimazu Shigehide" at p. 246., p. 246, at Google Books
  11. Nussbaum, "Shimazu Nariakira" at p. 861., p. 861, at Google Books
  12. Nussbaum, "Shimazu Shigehide" at p. 861., p. 861, at Google Books
  13. Nussbaum, "Ijuin" at p. 375., p. 375, at Google Books
  14. Papinot, Jacques. (2003). Nobiliare du Japon, p. 55.
  15. Chamberlain, Basil Hall. "The Luchu Islands and their Inhabitants," The Geographical Journal, No. 4, Vol. 5 (April 1895), p. 309.
  16. Nussbaum, "Saigō Takamori" at pp. 805-806., p. 805, at Google Books
  17. 17.0 17.1 Nussbaum, "Shō" at pp. 805-806., p. 805, at Google Books


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