Nariaki Tokugawa - Kairakuen and Kodokan

Kairakuen and Kodokan
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The ninth feudal lord of the Mito clan. Nariaki Tokugawa

Nariaki Tokugawa was born in 1800 during the Edo period as the third son of Harutoshi, the seventh feudal lord. At age 30, Nariaki became the ninth feudal lord. As soon as Nariaki came to power, he began to reform the fiefdom. He implemented various reforms with regards to economic stability, the military government, hunting (military training exercises ? see picture below), inspect the clan's domain, and created the Kodokan and Kairakuen.

Nariaki Tokugawa


A portion of a painting that depicts hunting

A portion of a painting that depicts hunting, taken from a collection owned by the Ibaraki Prefectural History Museum.

In 1844, Nariaki's extravagant mission to reform the fiefdom was first suspended by Japan's feudal government. In 1858, with the arrival of Commodore Perry's American fleet, he participated in the Japanese central government as a coastal defense councilor. Afterwards, due to problems stemming from the General's successor and the Japan-U.S. treaty of Trade and Amity, he was once again suspended. Nariaki, who lived during a time of upheaval, passed away suddenly while on house arrest in Mito. He was 61 years old at the time of his death.


Kairakuen and Kodokan: Nariaki's vision

Tension and relaxation

Both Kairakuen and Kodokan were founded by Tokugawa Nariaki, the ninth feudal lord.
The inspiration and origin behind Kairakuen's foundation, the Kairakuen notes, begin with the phrase, "tension and relaxation." The phrase "tension and relaxation" is also found in the Book of Rites by Confucius, and explains that instead of just busy and intense moments, it is important to slow down and relax in life. Whereas Kodokan was established for literary and military arts training, Kairakuen was envisioned as a place where you go after training to relax both your mind and body.

Nariaki loved Japanese plums

When its beautiful flowers are blooming, the plum tree serves as the first sign of spring. Pickled plums serve multiple purposes and can serve as emergency or survival food during military operations or famines. Nariaki was impressed by how practical and useful plums were, and he decided to go ahead and plant numerous plum trees throughout his domain.

The Six Trees of Mito

The Six Trees of Mito was named from the selected trees on their flower forms, fragrances, and colors in 1931.

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