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Tokugawa Yoshinao, the ninth son of Tokugawa Ieyasu, was born in Osaka Castle on January 2, 1601. At the tender age of six, he was appointed as the master of Kiyosu Castle in Aichi Prefecture. In 1612, with the completion of Nagoya Castle nearby, eleven-year-old Yoshinao rose to become the Lord of Owari Domain and Nagoya Castle. Among the Tokugawa clans—the Kii, Mito, and Owari—Yoshinao's Owari Tokugawa clan held the most political and financial significance, positioning him favorably within the family.

Renowned for his swordsmanship, Yoshinao began training in the Yagyu Shinkage style under Yagyu Hyogonosuke. By the age of 21, he had risen to the rank of Soke, alongside Hyogonosuke, pioneering the distinctive Owari Yagyu Shinkage Ryu style with original techniques.

During the 1620s, the legendary swordsman Miyamoto Musashi visited Owari, introduced by Yagyu Hyogonosuke. Meeting Yoshinao at Nagoya's Ni-no-Maru Palace, Musashi showcased his Enmei Ryu two-sword style upon Yoshinao's request. After engaging in several bouts, Musashi emerged victorious in each encounter, earning Yoshinao's admiration and permission to establish a dojo in Nagoya. The dojo flourished, attracting over 3,000 samurai from Nagoya Castle until the mid-Meiji period.

The tradition of elaborate wedding parades in Nagoya traces back to Yoshinao and his wife, Haruhime's splendid procession through the city streets and into Nagoya Castle. The opulent Taimenjo living quarters of the Honmaru Palace were adorned with paintings depicting scenes of Wakayama, Haruhime's homeland, commissioned by Yoshinao to ease her transition to Nagoya.

Yoshinao's legacy also includes his role in co-creating the esteemed Ofuke-yaki pottery style. Collaborating with potters from Seto, he established a kiln within Nagoya Castle's Ofuke-maru precinct, producing exquisite white glazed pottery items such as tea bowls and caddies. These wares, presented by Nagoya Castle's lords to various daimyo across Japan, enhanced their prestige and value.

At the age of 49, Yoshinao passed away, likely due to a stroke, on June 5, 1560. His unique grave and mausoleum were established at Joko-ji in Seto, commemorating his significant contributions to the arts and culture of Nagoya.

 


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