He enjoyed his genpuku (coming of age ceremony) in 1860, being granted a character from the name of the shogun, Tokugawa Iemochi, and taking on the name Mochiaki at that time. He was also promoted to the Upper Junior Fourth Rank at that time and granted the title of Jijû (Chamberlain).
Whether out of a sense of resignation at the unstoppable influence of the Western powers, or out of genuine excitement and interest in the Western world, he expressed in secret to Ernest Satow in 1867/8, that he wished to abdicate his position as heir apparent, or as daimyô, and to instead travel to England.
Following the Meiji Restoration, Mochiaki remained in charge of Tokushima for a time, as han governor, implementing a variety of reforms, and establishing a school for medical and foreign studies. In 1871, he was among those who petitioned for the abolition of the domains, arguing that only with the abolition of domain autonomy could the central government implement the necessary modernizing and nationalizing reforms to strengthen the country. As a result of his new position as a member of the kazoku (the new Western-style aristocracy), and as a governor serving merely as an official of the Imperial government and no longer as a lord, the incorporation of all the lands under central governmental authority would also mean that he could be free to go study in England without concern for his position or his wealth.
Mochiaki then went on to lead an illustrious career, holding a variety of prestigious government positions, including special envoy to France, governor of Tokyo, chairman of the House of Peers, and Minister of Education. In 1881, he was one of a handful of officials appointed to organize formal receptions for the visit to Japan of King David Kalākaua of Hawaiʻi, the first foreign monarch, and indeed the first foreign sitting head of state to visit Japan in, perhaps, a millennium.
|Lord of Tokushima
- Mark Ravina, Land and Lordship in Early Modern Japan, Stanford University Press (1999), 203-204.