Date clan

Date clan
Family name
Take ni Suzume.svg
The mon of the Date clan.
Meaning Take-ni-suzume (Sparrows in bamboo)

The Date clan (伊達氏 Date-shi?) was a lineage of daimyo who controlled northern Japan (the Tōhoku region) in the late 16th century and into the Edo period. Their most famous member was Date Masamune, who established the family's power by avenging his father's death and through support of Tokugawa Ieyasu.



The Date family was founded in the early Kamakura period (1185-1333) by Isa Tomomune who originally came from the Isa district of Hitachi Province (now Ibaraki Prefecture), and was a descendant of Fujiwara no Uona (721-783) in the 16th generation. The family took its name from the Date district (now Fukushima Prefecture) of Mutsu Province which had been awarded in 1189 to Isa Tomomune by Minamoto no Yoritomo, the first Kamakura shogun, for his assistance in the Genpei War and in Minamoto no Yoritomo’s struggle for power with his brother, Minamoto no Yoshitsune.

During the Nanboku-cho Wars in the 1330s, the Date supported the Imperial Southern Court of Emperor Go-Daigo through Kitabatake Akiie, who had been appointed by the Emperor Chinjufu Shōgun or Commander in Chief of the Defense of the North.

As warlords gained and lost power in the Sengoku period, trying to unite the country, the Date, along with a handful of other powerful families, did all they could to retain independence and dominance over their section of the land (in the case of the Date, the far north). Though not gaining the fame or power of the likes of Oda Nobunaga, Uesugi Kenshin, or Toyotomi Hideyoshi, they resisted the invasions of these warlords into the north. Date Masamune (1566–1636) contributed in particular to this effort, consolidating the families of the north into alliances against the major warlords.

In 1589, Masamune seized the Aizu Domain of the Ashina; and he installed himself at Kurokawa Castle in Wakamatsu province. However, the following year, Hideyoshi triumphed over the Hōjo of Odawara; and Hideyoshi then obliged Masamune to be content with the fief of Yonezawa (300,000 koku).[1] Masamune ultimately gaining some degree of independence by supporting Tokugawa Ieyasu.

Ieyasu granted the Date much of the north, and yet the Date were not fully trusted. Despite the significant fact that the Date sent reinforcements for the Tokugawa during the battle of Sekigahara, the Date were viewed as a threat. In the Edo period, the Date were identified as one of the tozama or outsider clans,[2] in contrast with the fudai or insider daimyō clans which were hereditary vassals or allies of the Tokugawa clan.

In 1600, Ieyasu charged the Date to fight against Uesugi Kagekatsu; and, with the assistance of Mogami Yoshiteru, Masamune's forces defeated Naoe Kanetsugu. In recognition of this success in battle, Masamune was granted the fiefs in twelve districts which had been held until that time by the Uesugi clan. The Date established themselves at Sendai (620,000 koku). By 1658, Masamune changed the name of the Uesugi's castle at Iwatezawa to Sendai Castle[1] The feudal daimyō were sometimes identified with the suffix "-kō" (servant), preceded by the name of a place or a castle, e.g., Sendai-kō was one of the names by which Date Masamune was known.[3]

Succession dispute erupted; there were a number of direct descendants of Masamune, and many kinsmen and hereditary vassals of the Date who resided nearby held estates of at least 10,000 koku, and thus had some influence.

In 1660, Date Tsunamune was arrested in Edo, for drunkenness and debauchery; the charges were generally believed to have been true. Tsunamune was condemned to excavate the moats which encircled the shogun's Edo Castle. In 1660, he was ordered to supervise and pay for enhancing the north-east moat running from Megane-bashi to the Ushigome gate.[1]

The initial charges of licentious living are now believed to have been encouraged heavily by certain vassals and kinsmen in the north. These vassals and kinsmen appealed to the Council of Elders in Edo that Tsunamune should not be considered fit to rule, and that his son Date Tsunamura, great-grandson of Masamune, should become the daimyo (lord) of the Date han (fief). Thus, Tsunamura became daimyo, under the guardianship of his uncles, Date Munekatsu and Muneyoshi.

Ten years of violence and conflict followed in the north, reaching a climax in 1671 when Aki Muneshige, a powerful relative of the Date, complained to the shogunate of the mismanagement of the fief under Tsunamura and his uncles. The episode that followed is so complex and dramatic as to warrant becoming a well-known story known as the Date Sōdō (Date Disturbance) and a theatrical play as well.

Aki was summoned to Edo to argue his case before various councils and officials, and was involved in a number of interrogations, examinations and meetings, as were several other retainers of the Date. One retainer in particular, Harada Kai Munesuke, was a supporter of Tsunamura and his uncles and, it is said, made a poor impression at Edo. At one point, Aki came upon Harada waiting to meet with some of the officials, and Aki began shouting insults. Swords were then drawn, and Aki was killed. Harada was killed moments after, by the officials or their guards. The official verdict was that Harada drew first; the Harada family was disbanded and though Tsunamura was affirmed as the proper daimyo, his uncles were punished.

Though the Date are most well known for their power in the north, Date Hidemune, the second son of Masamune, enjoyed a fief of 100,000 koku on Shikoku.

Date clan genealogy

The tozama Date clan originated in 12th century Shimōsa Province.[2] They claim descent from the Fujiwara.[1]

The branches of the tozama Date clan include the following:

  • The senior branch of the Date were daimyō at Date in Mutsu province from the 12th century; and then, in 1601, they transferred the seat of their clan holdings to Sendai. From the early 17th century until 1868, the Date continued to hold Sendai Domain (620,000 koku) in Mutsu province.[2] The head of this Senior clan line was ennobled as an hereditary "Count" in the Meiji period.[1]
  • This senior branch of the Date produced a nominal offshoot or "side branch." Date Tadamune (1599–1658), a son of Masamune, produced more than one son. Tadamune's second son, Muneyoshi, revived the name of Tamura, an ancient Mutsu family name which had been relinquished by Masamune. Date Muneyoshi[4] or Tamura Muneyoshi (1637–1678) settled himself at Ichinoseki domain (30,000 koku) in Mutsu province (now in Iwate Prefecture), where his descendants resided up through 1868. The head of this clan line was ennobled as an hereditary "Viscount" in the Meiji period.[1]
  • A cadet branch of the Date was created in 1614; and this clan line was established at Uwajima Domain (100,000 koku) in Iyo province.[2] Date Muneki (1817–1882) was a prominent member of this Cadet branch. He played an important role in the early days of the Meiji Restoration, and he was among the first to argue persistently for the suppression of shogunate powers. As The head of this clan line, Muneki and his heirs were ennobled as an hereditary "Marquis" in the Meiji period.[1]
  • An additional cadet branch of the Date was created in 1657.[2] In that year, a separate clan line was installed at Yoshida Castle (30,000 koku) in Iyo province. The head of this clan line was ennobled as an hereditary "Viscount" in the Meiji period.[1]

Clan temple in Edo

In the Edo period, Tōzen-ji was considered the family temple of various clans, including the Date clan of Sendai. Other clans considering Tōzen-ji to have been a clan temple were the Ikeda clan of Omi province, the Inaba clan of Usuki Domain in Bungo province, the Suwa clan of Shinshu, the Tamura of Ichinoseki, and the Mori clan of Saeki in Bungo Province.[5]

Notable clan members

Grave of Ōshū Sendai Date clan at Mount Koya.

Members of the clan are listed by their date of birth.

14th Century

  • Date Muneto (1324–1385)
  • Date Masamune (14th century) (1353–1405)
  • Date Ujimune (1371–1412)
  • Date Mochimune (1393–1469)

15th Century

  • Date Narimune (1435-1487?)
  • Date Hisamune (1453–1514)
  • Date Tanemune (1488–1565)

16th Century

17th Century

  • Date Munetomo - son of Date Munekatsu
  • Date Munetsuna (1603–1618)
  • Date Munenobu (1603–1627)
  • Date Munehiro (1612–1644)
  • Date Munetoki (1615–1653)
  • Date Torachiyomaru (1624–1630)
  • Date Muneyoshi (1625–1678) - son of Date Tadamune - guardian of Tsunamura
  • Date Mitsumune (1627–1645) - son of Date Tadamune[7]
  • Date Munetoshi (1634–1708)
  • Date Munezumi (1636–1708)
  • Date Sourin (1640–1670)
  • Date Tsunamune (1640–1711) - son of Date Tadamune - daimyo for a short time, removed from the succession in favor of Tsunamura, his son
  • Date Munefusa (1646–1686)
  • Date Tsunamura (1659–1719) - son of Date Tsunamune - daimyo whose succession led to the Date Disturbance
  • Date Munenori (1673–1694)
  • Date Yoshimura (1680–1751)
  • Date Muratoyo (1682–1737)
  • Date Muraoki (1683–1767)
  • Date Muranari (1686–1726)
  • Date Murasen (1698–1744)

18th Century

  • Date Murasumi (1717–1735)
  • Date Muranobu (1720–1765)
  • Date Murakata (1745–1790)
  • Date Murayoshi (1778–1820)

19th Century and After Meiji restoration

Twentieth century

  • Date Okimune (1906–1947)
  • Date Munehide (1908–1964)
  • Date Munemi (1918–1982)
  • Date Sadamune (1937–1981)
  • Date Yasumune (1959-)

Side branches

They were born to the Date clan but were nominally adopted by other families. The first name is the person who was nominally adopted.

Retainers and Vassals

These samurai were vassals of Date clan and listed by their date of birth.


  • Oniniwa Motozane (14??-15??)
  • Oniniwa Yoshinao (1513-1585)
  • Masuda Kita (1539-16??)
  • Moniwa Tadamoto (1549-1640) - Toyotomi Hideyoshi gave him "Moniwa" as the new clan name for Oniniwa clan.
  • Moniwa Yoshimoto (1575-1663)
  • Harada Tsutame (1598?-1671) - The wife of Yoshimoto





See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Papinot, Jacques. (2003). Nobiliare du Japon -- Date, pp. 5; Papinot, Jacques Edmond Joseph. (1906). Dictionnaire d’histoire et de géographie du Japon. (in French/German).
  2. ^ a b c d e Appert, Georges. (1888). Ancien Japon, p. 64.
  3. ^ Plutschow, Herbert. (1995). Japan's Name Culture: The Significance of Names in a Religious, Political and Social Context, p. 44.
  4. ^ Screech, Timon. (2006). Secret Memoirs of the Shoguns: Isaac Titsingh and Japan, 1779-1822, p. 23.
  5. ^ Cortazzi, Hugh. (2000). Collected Writings of Sir Hugh Cortazzi, Vol. II, pp. 210-211.
  6. ^ Plutschow, p. 53. -- Hideyoshi gave him the "Hide-" in his name.
  7. ^ Plutschow, pp. 224 n150, 53 n150. -- Iemitsu gave him the "Mitsu-" in his name.
  8. ^ a b Papinot, Edmond. (1948). Historical and geographical dictionary of Japan, p. 642.


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