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Ii Naotaka, the second son of Tokugawa general Ii Naomasa, later became the Daimyo of Omi (Shiga Prefecture) due to his commendable efforts during the Siege of Osaka in 1614. The origin of the Maneki Neko, the iconic lucky cat seen in homes and shops across Japan, is attributed to Ii Naotaka.

At the age of ten, Ii Naotaka experienced the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, where his father was severely wounded and eventually succumbed to his injuries in 1602. Having been granted the lands of Sawayama (Hikone City), Naomasa had initiated the construction of Hikone Castle, a project continued by Naotaka's elder brother, Naokatsu, who assumed control of the castle from 1606.

In 1614, Naokatsu fell ill and couldn't participate in the Siege of Osaka, prompting him to send his younger brother, Naotaka, in his place. Naotaka's exceptional performance, particularly at the Battle of Sanada-maru and Tenno-ji, earned him recognition from Tokugawa Ieyasu. Ieyasu appointed Naotaka as the head of the esteemed Ii clan and lord of Hikone Castle, reassigning Naokatsu to Annaka Domain (modern-day Gunma Prefecture), where a new branch of the clan was established.

Before his death, the second Shogun, Hidetada, summoned Naotaka and requested his continued service to Iemitsu, ensuring a peaceful passing. In 1632, Ii Naotaka, highly respected, joined the third Shogun, Iemitsu, on a pilgrimage to Nikko Toshogu, the resting place of Iemitsu's grandfather, Tokugawa Ieyasu.

Ii Naotaka, married to Aki-hime, daughter of the daimyo Hachisuka Iemasa, had three concubines and five children. His eldest, Ii Naozumi, succeeded him upon Naotaka's death at the age of 69 in 1659.

 


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