Tokugawa Yoshinobu (1933-2005)

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  • Born: 1933/12/24
  • Died: 2005/11/23
  • Other Names: 堀田正祥 (Hotta Masayoshi)
  • Japanese: 徳川 義宣 (Tokugawa Yoshinobu)

Tokugawa Yoshinobu was a historian and art historian, the 21st head of the Owari Tokugawa clan, and director of the Tokugawa Art Museum in Nagoya for many years.

Life & Career

Yoshinobu was born in Tokyo on December 24, 1933 as Hotta Masayoshi, sixth son of Count Hotta Masatsune.

After marrying Tokugawa Michiko, eldest daughter of Owari Tokugawa family head Tokugawa Yoshitomo, he became the adoptive heir to the family and changed his name to Yoshinobu. He graduated from Gakushuin University in 1956 with a degree in economics and took a job at Bank of Tokyo, joining the board of trustees of the Tokugawa Reimeikai the following year. He left the Bank of Tokyo in 1961 to become Reimeikai trustee (tantô riji) for the Tokugawa Art Museum the following year. In 1967, he then became managing director (senmu riji) of the museum. Meanwhile, he studied forestry at the University of Tokyo School of Agriculture and art history at the Tokyo National Museum, earning accreditation as a curator.

He became head of the Tokugawa Art Museum (kanchô) in 1976, and succeeded his late father-in-law as head of the Reimeikai in 1993. While continuing as head of the Tokugawa Art Museum, he served as a member, vice-president, or president of numerous cultural heritage, academic, and museological associations across the country.[1] He oversaw a significant renovation and expansion of the museum in 1987, for which he also led the fundraising, and won a number of awards in the 1990s-2000s for his leading role in Japan's museum world.

He simultaneously pursued his own research agenda, publishing numerous articles and other works on Tale of Genji scrolls, documents pertaining to Tokugawa Ieyasu, and Ryukyuan lacquerware and ceramics.

He died of pneumonia on November 23, 2005 at the age of 71.

Preceded by:
Tokugawa Yoshitomo
Head of Owari Tokugawa clan
Succeeded by:
Tokugawa Yoshitaka

Select Publications

  • Tokugawa san takuchi no jôshiki 徳川さん宅(ち)の常識, Dankôsha, 2006 (a collection of his writings).
  • Shinshû Tokugawa Ieyasu monjo no kenkyû 新修 徳川家康文書の研究, 2006. (Research on Documents of Tokugawa Ieyasu; Newly Revised)
  • "Ryukyu and the Art of Lacquer," Okinawa bijutsu zenshû vol 2, Okinawa Times (1989), i-ix.
  • “Traditional Musical Instruments of Okinawa,” Okinawa bijutsu zenshû vol. 5.


  1. Including 日本工芸会顧問、東京都重要文化財所有者連絡協議会会長、全国美術館会議副会長、漆工史学会副会長、日本博物館協会理事、愛知県博物館協会理事、日本陶磁協会理事、茶の湯文化学会理事、東洋陶磁学会常任委員.