Hosokawa Shigekata

Hosokawa Shigekata

Hosokawa Shigekata, mid-Edo era daimyo of the Kumamoto domain
In office
Preceded by Hosokawa Munetaka
Succeeded by Hosokawa Harutoshi
Personal details
Born (1721-01-23)January 23, 1721
Edo, Japan
Died November 27, 1785(1785-11-27)
Edo, Japan
Nationality Japanese
Spouse(s) daughter of Koga Michie
In this Japanese name, the family name is Hosokawa.

Hosokawa Shigekata (細川 重賢, January 23, 1721 – November 27, 1785) was a Japanese samurai daimyo of the Edo period.[1]

Early life

His father, Hosokawa Nobunori, was the 4th daimyo of Hosokawa clan, but his elder brother, the 5th daimyo, unfortunately was killed, because the family crest of another person was similar to that of the Hosokawa clan.


He was the 6th lord of Kumamoto of Hosokawa clan, noted for successful financial reform of Kumamoto Domain, for establishing Jishuukan Han school, Medical School Saishunkan (school) and new ideas of criminal law.

There were financial difficulties of the Kumamoto Han. The deficits at the time of his father's administration reached 400,000 Ryō. The financial situation of his Han worsened because of the Edo bakufu Sankin kōtai policy, and because of famine. Shigekata himself had kept a card of a pawn shop in order not to forget his young hard days, for one reason because he was one of 21 children born to Hosokawa Nobunori.

The reform of Horeki

In 1752, he appointed Hori Katuna the great Bugyō, often translated as "commissioner" or "magistrate" or "governor," was a title assigned to government officers in pre-modern Japan. Hori immediately went to Osaka to negotiate with Kohnoike family and others for loan, but the wealthy families of Osaka refused the requests of Kumamoto han. Then, Hori was successful in borrowing a huge sum of money from Kajimaya in return for 100,000 koku of rice. Kajimaya requested considerable reduced financial interest from Kumamoto han.

Originally, 100 koku for samurais meant 40 koku of rice, or the samurai obtained 40%. After the reform, 20 koku per 100 koku went to a samurai, and then 13 koku, this meant a reduction of 65%.[2] Kokudaka (石高) or the system of koku refers to a system for determining land value for tribute purposes in Edo period Japan and expressing this value in koku of rice. This tribute was no longer a percentage of the actual quantity of rice harvested, but was assessed based on the quality and size of the land. The system was used to value the incomes of daimyo, or samurais under daimyo. Kumamoto han wanted samurais to be satisfied with the Horeki reform, and at the same time, they would train themselves as samurais. One was to build a school of han for samurais and others. Another idea was to rehabilitate those who were against the rules, and Shigekata started completely new criminal laws of the han.

In addition, Shigekata and Hori started the production of washi (Japanese paper), silk, and monopolized production of wax. They at times examined the land and its production (Kenchi, in Japanese). Toward the end of the Horeki years (1751–1763), the financial status of the Han had greatly improved.

Stockpiled rice and cereal helped the han in the famine of Tenmei.

Criticisms of the reform


Shigekata established a famous Han school, Jishuukan within the campus of Kumamoto Castle in 1755. This school is known for producing many noted scholars in later years such as Yokoi Shounan, Inoue Kowashi and Kitasato Shibasaburo. It was open to any class of people, if admission was recognized, not only in Kumamoto people but also in other provinces, with scholarships when students were very bright. There was no such system in other Han schools at this time.

At the most popular period, 255 schools were established in the Edo era in Japan, one in every Han or local country. Other famous schools of Han were Nisshinkan of Aizu, Kohjohkan of Yonezawa, Kohdohkan of Mito, Meirinkan of Choshu, Shin-yukan of Nakatsu, Kohdohkan of Saga, Zohshikan of Satsuma were known, in addition to Jishuukan.

See also: Jishuukan

Medical school

He established the first public han medical school, Saishunkan (school) in Miyaderamura, Akitagun (now Nihongi), Kumamoto in 1756 and the school was opened the following year. Its botanical garden was established in Yakuencho, Kumamoto.[6][7]

Penal reform

Another important reform he made was about the criminal laws. There had been only death penalty and exile as punishment. Exile was changed to caning and penal labour. Tattoo was changed to shaving the eyebrows, once in 5 days. His idea was to let them work for the Han, and rehabilitate them into society. His reform was made a model in Meiji restoration. Those who worked were given money in preparation for the days after punishment.

Additional academic pursuits

In his later life, he was interested in biology, the records of plants and animals; which were said to be professional. An interesting animal, possibly drawn by a professional (though he himself drew pictures), was made of the Honshū wolf, which is now extinct. The picture of the wolf is in a book. There were 16 albums of minute pictures of animals and dry plants in the Eisei Bunko, the collection of treasures of the Hosokawa Family.[8]

In his days, daimyos interested in Western matters were rare. He was known as a ran-heki daimyo. Other ran-heki daimyos included Shimazu Shigehide, Satsuma Domain,(1745 - 1833) and Shimazu Nariakira, Satsuma Domain(1809–1858). These daimyo looked for ways to obtain books or experts on Western learning.


See also


The emblem (mon) of the Hosokawa clan
  1. Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric. (2005). "Hosokawa Shigekata" in Japan Encyclopedia, p. 359; 細川重賢 at Nihon jinmei daijiten; retrieved 2013-5-29.
  2. Higogaku Koza" The reform of Horeki, its present-day significance. Yoshimura T. p108-131, ISBN 978-4-87755-231-2
  3. History of Kumamoto viewed from topis, edit. Iwamoto C. The Merits and Demerits of the Reform of Horeki, p134, Gen Shobou, Fukuoka, 2007 ISBN 978-4-902116-85-4
  4. Higogaku Koza p127
  5. Hogogaku Koza p75
  6. Anecdotes of Hosokawa Shigekata Kawaguchi K. Kumamoto Nichinichi Shimbun, 2008
  7. Higo Iikushi Yamasaki M. p.6, 1929, Saikai Jihousha, Kumamoto.
  8. Hosokawa[2008:84-85]

Further reading

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