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Tokugawa Iesada (徳川 家定 (May 6, 1824August 14, 1858) was the 13th shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japanmarker who held office for only 5 years, from 1853 to 1858. He was physically weak and therefore unfit to be shogun in this period of great challenges.

Having risen to power soon after the Black Ships episode, he is held to have been responsible for the Unequal Treaties (Convention of Kanagawa, Anglo-Japanese Friendship Treaty, Harris Treaty, Anglo-Japanese Treaty of Amity and Commerce) which broke the sakoku and opened the Japanese frontliners to foreign influences, leading to the Bakumatsu.

Iesada died childless in 1858, which caused factions within the bakufu to clash over the succession.

Eras of Iesada's bakufu

The years in which Iesada was shogun are more specifically identified by more than one era name or nengō.

European Encounters

Though he is not named specifically, Tokugawa's death was mentioned in the account of the French ambassador Baron Gros' expedition to China and Japan. It states rather that the "civil emperor" of Japan, most likely the shogun and not the "ecclesiastical emperor" that may have been the hereditary emperor at the time, had died some several days earlier.

In Fiction

Tokugawa Iesada is featured in the 2008 NHKmarker Taiga drama Atsuhime, which chronicles the life of his wife. He is portrayed by Masato Sakai.


  1. Ravina, Mark. (2004). The Last Samurai: The Life and Battles of Saigo Takamori, pp. 62-63.
  2. Jansen, Marius B. and John Whitney Hall, eds. (1989). The Cambridge History of Japan, p. 316.


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