The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Hitotsubashi

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HITOTSUBASHI, Japanese statesman and party leader: b. 1837; d. 1902. Son of Nariaki Daimyo of Mito (q.v), and naturally a supporter of the Doctrine of Mito (q.v.), he appeared as the leader of the party opposed to the open door in Japan. He is known as Keiki (Kā'kē), the pronunciation of the Chinese characters representing his name, and as Yoshinobu, his real name. The cognomen Hitotsubashi he obtained when he was adopted into the feudal house of that name in 1848. He became guardian of the young Shōgun in 1863, a position that gave him great prominence in the affairs of Japan at a time when the nation was at the parting of the ways. He is known as “the last of the Tycoons,” or the last Shōgun. His real title was Yoshinobu Tokugawa, Prince Tokugawa. He was heir of the house of Hitotsubashi, and as such eventually became Shōgun. He came of a long line of illustrious ancestors which had helped to make the history of Japan for over 300 years. Yoshinobu became Shōgun in August 1866, and the following year, notwithstanding his family tradition, he presented a memorial to the emperor advising to call the barons together to discuss the “open door question” and the relation of Japan to foreign countries and civilization. He also look steps to have all the government of the country centred in the emperor. But the Shōgunate party which he represented opposed this and open war broke out between the emperor and the Shōgunates. Yoshinobu, in the difficult position of owing allegiance of a traditional and religious character to the emperor and leadership to his own family and party, decided to follow the will of his famous father, Nariaki (q.v.), and be faithful to the emperor at all cost. In the war the party of the emperor won out and Yoshinobu retired to private life still retaining the favor and confidence of the court by whom he was recognized as Prince Tokugawa. His princely residence was one of the conspicuous objects by the Kioshikawa Gate in Tokio. Consult Okuma, Count Shigenobu, ‘Fifty Years of New Japan’ (translated into English by Marcus B. Huish, London 1909).