Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Here's the story as I understand it.....
Kasuga no Tsubone was born Oct 26, 1579 in Inaba, Japan and died Sept 14, 1643. She was from a prominent Japanese samurai family of the Azuchi-Momoyama and Edo periods. Born Saitō Fuku (斉藤福), she was a daughter of Saitō Toshimitsu (who was a retainer of Akechi Mitsuhide). Her mother's father was Inaba Yoshimichi. Married to Inaba Masanari, she had three sons, including Inaba Masakatsu, and an adopted son, Hotta Masatoshi. She was recommended to Tokugawa Ieyasu by Itakura Katsushige for the position of wet nurse for Takechiyo (the future third Shogun, Tokugawa Iemitsu), but it is theorized that Ieyasu himself chose her for the job in 1604 as repayment for her husband's hand in convincing Kobayakawa Hideaki to join the Eastern army at Sekigahara. Ofuku was promoted to the Junior Second Rank at the Imperial Court in Kyoto and awarded the title Lady Kasuga. Lady Kasuga supported Iemitsu's rise to the position of Shogun, and is widely accepted as having played a pivotal role in him being appointed to the position over his younger brother Tadanaga. She also established the Ōoku (women's quarters) at Edo Castle. At the peak of her career she had the eqivalent of a 100,000 koku income (a ‘koku’ was the unit of income for samurai in the feudal period, and is about 150kg of rice. At current Japanese retail rice prices, 100,000-koku income is roughly the equivalent of about US $60,000,000). Her grave is in Rinshō-in, a temple in Bunkyō, Tokyo; the temple possesses a portrait of Kasuga by Kanō Tanyū. The Kasuga neighborhood of Bunkyō takes its name from her. Another grave is in Odawara, Kanagawa Prefecture. Japanese schools teach about Kasuga no Tsubone as part of history. There are many books and a NHK movie about her. My grandmother (Obachan) is a decendant of Kasuga no Tsubone and share the same name Saito Fuku. My grandfather played a big role in trying to continue the bloodline, in that he gave up his family name and took the Saito name for Obachan. Initially, Obachan was being readied for an arranged marriage. Her mother chose a husband for her that would take the Saito name to continue the bloodline. Obachan did not want to go through with this arrangement. She was disowned by her mother. Her mother then adopted the man that was to marry Obachan so that the Saito name would continue (the name continued, but the bloodline did not). However, Obachan married Watanabe Nobukiyo (I'm not 100% sure on his last name) and he agreed to take the Saito name also, Obachan's mother did not approve of it. As a result of my grandfather changing his name, he was also disowned by his family and could not be buried in his fathers family plot (nor could he be buried in the Saito family plot). I will continue to research our ancestry and to verify all the information. I hope to make several trips to visit my aunt and uncles in Japan. Mitsuko Proctor has provided important background and Alice Schwingendorf has connected me with a few of her friends and a teacher there in Japan. If there are any questions from my family, it's best to ask now before time takes the opportunity away. As I find more information, I will update the reference portion of this post.

Kasuga has been the subject of various films and television series, and has been a character in many more. Among the most prominent are these: