Nihongo|Aizu|会津|Aizu is an area comprising the westernmost third of Fukushima Prefecture in Japan. The principal city of the area is Aizu-Wakamatsu.

During the Edo period, Aizu was a feudal domain known as Nihongo|Aizuhan|会津藩|Aizuhan and part of Mutsu province.


The ruling family (daimyo) over much of the Edo period was the Hoshina family, former senior retainers of the Takeda family. In the early 17th century the head of the family, Hoshina Masamitsu, adopted the illegitimate son of the 2nd shogun Tokugawa Hidetada, and as a result, the Hoshina family's fortunes rose, with greater and greater enfeoffments being given to them until finally they were moved to Aizu in the mid-17th century, which was then rated at 240,000 "koku". Hoshina Masayuki, the adopted head of the family, rose in prominence during the tenure as shogun of his half-brother Tokugawa Iemitsu, even acting as a regent for the underage 4th shogun Tokugawa Ietsuna. By the end of the 17th century, the Hoshina family was allowed the use of the Tokugawa hollyhock crest and the Matsudaira surname, and from then on was known as the Aizu-Matsudaira clan, with the name Hoshina being used mainly for internal documents.

In the house code set down by Masayuki, there was a specific injunction to serve the Shogun with single-minded devotion, and it was this injunction which the family took great pains to show its adherence to, even if its true objectives were those of improving status and prestige.

Aizu was known for its martial skill, and maintained at any given time, a standing army of over 5000. It was often deployed to security operations on the northern fringes of the country, as far north as southern Sakhalin. Also, in the period immediately before, during, and after Commodore Perry's arrival, Aizu had a presence in security operations around Edo Bay. The domain's two sets of formal rules for its army, the Rules for Commanders (将長禁令 "shōchō kinrei") and Rules for Soldiers (士卒禁令 "shisotsu kinrei"), written in the 1790s, were notable in laying down a professional, modern standard for military conduct and operations, including the following two items in the Rules for Soldiers which codified the human rights and protection of enemy noncombatants, over 70 years before the first Geneva Convention of 1864:

*敵地といえども猥りに田畑を踏荒らすべからざる事。" [When entering] the enemy's territory, trampling and ruining rice fields is forbidden."

*敵地に入って、婦女を犯し、老幼を害し、墳墓を荒らし、民家を焼き、猥りに畜類を殺し、米金を掠取り、故なく林木を伐り、作毛を刈取べからざる事。"When entering enemy territory, it is forbidden to rape women, harm the elderly, desecrate graves, burn commoners' homes, slaughter livestock needlessly, pillage money and rice, fell trees and wood, and pluck feathers."

During the tenure of the 9th generation lord Matsudaira Katamori, the domain deployed massive amounts of their troops to Kyoto, where Katamori served as Kyoto Shugoshoku. Earning the hatred of the Chōshū domain, and alienating his ally, the Satsuma domain, Katamori retreated with the shogun Tokugawa Yoshinobu in 1868. Though the Satsuma-Chōshū controlled Imperial Court, following Yoshinobu's resignation, called for the punishment of Katamori and Aizu as "enemies of the Court," he took great pains to beg for mercy, finally acquiescing to calls for war later in 1868, during the Boshin War. Though the Aizu forces fought as part of the greater efforts of the Ouetsu Reppan Domei, they were eventually besieged at Tsuruga Castle, the seat of the Aizu domain, in October 1868.

The Byakkotai ("White Tiger Company") was a group of young, predominantly teenage, samurai who committed seppuku (a form of ritual suicide) on a hillside overlooking the castle after seeing its defences breached.

The Aizu clan, operating under the orders of the Shogunate, also acted as the first official supervisor and patron of the Shinsengumi.

Famous people

*Hideyo Noguchi, a doctor who made considerable contributions to the fight against syphilis and yellow fever. His portrait is currently (2007) featured on the 1,000 yen bill in Japan.

* Shiba Goro, prominent at the Siege of the Peking legations, 1900.

* Niijima Yae, co-founder of Doshisha University, instructor in the women's division of Doshisha and wife of Niijima Jo (Joseph Hardy Neesima)

* Yamamoto Kakuma, former samurai, co-founder of Doshisha University.

* Takamine Hideo, former samurai, graduate of Oswego Normal School in New York State, Meiji-era educator and head of the Tokyo Normal School, Tokyo Art School, Tokyo Women's Normal School and Tokyo Music School. He is best known for introducing Pestallozian teaching methods to Japan and educational reform.

* Ibuka Kajinosuke, former samurai turned Christian pastor, responsible for bringing the YMCA to Japan.

* Matsudaira Tsuneo, son of Matsudaira Katamori, ambassador to the U.S. and UK.

* Matsudaira Setsuko, daughter of Matsudaira Tsuneo; later married Prince "Chichibu no Miya", Emperor Hirohito's brother.

* Yamakawa Kenjiro, graduate of Yale University, physicist, researcher, academic administrator, President of Tokyo University and Kyoto University

* Yamakawa Sutematsu graduate of Vassar College, after marriage to Oyama Iwao, she is known as Oyama Sutematsu, an organizer at the Rokumeikan, supporter of numerous organizations such as the Red-Cross in Japan and Women's Patriotic Society. She assisted in the founding of Tsuda College (which was organized by her close life-long friend Tsuda Umeko)

* Yamakawa Hiroshi Brother of Kenjiro and Sutematsu, a famous military leader who defended the domain, later organized Aizu refugees, a key figure in the relief of Kumamoto Garrison during the Seinan War or Satsuma Rebellion and General in the Meiji Era

* Yamakawa Futaba a co-worker of Takamine Hideo, head administrator at the Tokyo Women's Normal School, she is best known for her support of women's education

* Tokugawa Tsunenari, grandson of Matsudaira Tsuneo; current head of the main Tokugawa family.

* Saigo Tanomo, former chief councilor of the Aizu clan; later, a teacher of Sokaku Takeda and a chief priest of the Toshogu Shrine.

* Akabane Shirō, Japanese ambassador to Holland.

* Akazuka Tanemori, Meiji-era police official.

* Iwa Uryu, prominent social worker.

* Suwa Kichiko, philanthropist.

* Yūki Kunitari, poet.

* Matsudaira Isao, grandson of Katamori, politician, governor of Fukushima Prefecture (1976-1988).

* Akizuki Teijirō, Aizu samurai, educator.

List of Aizu daimyō

* Gamō clan 1590-1598 (Tozama; 919,000 koku)

* Katō clan 1627-1643 (Tozama; 400,000 koku)

* )


* Noguchi Shinichi, "Aizu-han". Tokyo: Gendai Shokan, 2005. (ISBN 4-7684-7102-1)
* Bolitho, Harold. “Aizu, 1853-1868.” "Proceedings of the British Association for Japanese Studies", vol. 2 (1977): 1-17.
* [ Aizu's "Rules for Commanders" and "Rules for Soldiers"]

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