Matsumae clan

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The Matsumae kamon.
  • Japanese: 松前(Matsumae-ke)

The Matsumae were an offshoot of the Takeda, founded by Kakizaki Yoshihiro (1550-1618), and descended more distantly from the Andô clan, who were in turn descended from Emishi (Ainu) chieftains who had assimilated into Japanese society[1].

The Matsumae clan unified Hokkaido's Ôshima peninsula during the mid-16th Century, and would continue to be the northernmost clan through the end of the Edo Period. They later submitted to Toyotomi Hideyoshi and were confirmed in their holdings by Tokugawa Ieyasu.

The Matsumae clan managed trade and relations with the Ainu, as the did with Korea, and as the Shimazu did with Ryûkyû. Based at Matsumae castle, they ruled Matsumae han, the only han (domain) on the island of Ezo (now called Hokkaidô), and were thus sometimese referred to as Ezo Dai-Ô (蝦夷大王, Great Kings of Ezo).[2]

David Howell describes the Matsumae as the only daimyô clan to not hold land in fief from the shogunate, their position of prominence being derived solely from their importance in managing relations and trade with the Ainu[3].

Members of the Matsumae clan


  • Initial text from Sengoku Biographical Dictionary ( FWSeal & CEWest, 2005
  • Howell, David. "Ainu Ethnicity and the Boundaries of the Early Modern Japanese State." Past & Present, No. 142 (Feb., 1994), pp69-93.
  • Morris-Suzuki, Tessa. "Creating the Frontier: Border, Identity, and History in Japan's Far North." East Asian History 7 (June 1994). pp1-24.
  1. Howell. p78.
  2. Morris-Suzuki. p5.
  3. Howell. p85.