- Japanese: 盛岡藩 (Morioka han)
- Other Names: 南部藩 (Nanbu han)
- Territory: parts of Mutsu province
- Castle: Morioka castle
- Lords: Nanbu clan
- Kokudaka: 100,000 (before 1808), 200,000 (after)
Morioka han was one of roughly ten smaller han located in Mutsu province in the Edo period alongside the larger, more prominent Sendai han. It was ruled from Morioka castle by the tozama daimyô of the Nanbu clan.
The first lord of Morioka was Nanbu Toshinao, who supported the Tokugawa in the Sekigahara Campaign and in the Osaka Winter Campaign. He had also led campaigns back home to suppress ikki uprisings, thus securing the territory for the Nanbu; in recognition of his loyal service, he was confirmed in these lands by Tokugawa Ieyasu, with a kokudaka of 100,000 koku. When his son, Nanbu Shigenao, died without having chosen an heir, however, the shogunate divided the territory, reducing Morioka to 80,000 koku and creating Hachinohe han with 20,000 koku.
The third lord of Morioka, Nanbu Shigenobu, effected a domain-wide survey, brought new land into cultivation, and completed the formation and structuring of the domain's internal administration, bringing the domain's kokudaka back up to 100,000 koku. However, there was some ambiguity as to the status of the Nanbu clan at this point; by splitting the domain, they had lost their kunimochi status, and it was unclear whether they should be considered to have regained it. Upon arriving in Edo on one of their sankin kôtai journeys around that time, the Nanbu were greeted by a sôshaban (a shogunal official in charge of ceremonial matters), rather than by a member of the rôjû, as a kunimochi daimyô should. The excuse was given that the rôjû were simply too busy that day, and this was an acceptable explanation; however, the next time this happened, a year or two later, the Nanbu rusuiyaku filed an official protest with the shogunate. It developed into a fairly major matter, and in the end, the Nanbu were formally once again recognized as kunimochi daimyô.
Shigenobu was succeeded by his third son, Nanbu Yukinobu, whose two elder brothers had predeceased him. He was age 50 when he became daimyô of Morioka; upon his death at age 61, he was succeeded by his second son, Bingo no kami Nanbu Nobuoki, who died shortly afterwards at age 30, at the domain's Edo mansion.
Daizen-ryô Nanbu Toshimoto became the sixth lord of Morioka after the death of his older brother Nobuoki. Toshimoto ruled until his own death at age 37; since his heir, Nanbu Toshikatsu, was only in his second year, Toshimoto was succeeded by his 18-year-old brother daizen daibu Nanbu Toshimi, who had been born the year after their father's death. Upon Toshimi's death at age 45, Toshikatsu succeeded his uncle, becoming the eighth lord of Morioka at age 29.
The domain's official kokudaka of 100,000 koku was doubled in 1808, in recognition of the Nanbu clan's contributions to the defense of Ezo (Hokkaidô) against Russian encroachment. Nanbu Toshinori was the lord of Morioka at this time. The new 200,000 koku level brought with it kunimochi ("province-holding") status for the Nanbu clan, but it was only an omotedaka increase, meaning an increase in the official status of the domain, as measured in koku, but not an actual increase in the domain's agricultural production or geographic territory. This was a great boost for the domain's official status, but brought with it increased burdens, as the domain was now expected to provide double the troops to aid in the defense of the north (e.g. against the Russians).
Prior to 1808, the domain restricted its use of the term kuni (country/state), referring to the domain itself, to internal documents. In exchanges with the Tokugawa shogunate or other domains, humbler terms such as zaisho (residence) or ryôbun (portion of territory) were used, in accordance with the customs of omote and uchi. However, once the clan gained kuni-mochi status, it began to employ the term kuni in its external correspondence, signifying its increased status.
Similarly, from 1753 to 1797, the domain had referred to its chief elder governmental advisors as rôjû, employing the same term which the Tokugawa used to refer to its chief governmental advisors. Historian Luke Roberts suggests this may have been done to lend the advisors, the clan, and/or the domain as a whole more prestige within internal contexts. In external communications, the domain was pressured to employ humbler terms such as toshiyori (lit. "Elder"), and eventually, after 1797, returned to using the less presumptuous and more widely used (i.e. within other domains) term karô ("house elder").
The domain is known to have suffered from economic difficulties in the early-mid-18th century, leading to a 1742 prohibition on residents from other domains settling within the territory Morioka han. This was done in order to prevent the domain's limited resources from being divided even more thinly, across more people; however, the economic difficulties were such that the domain instead saw a considerable exodus of its own people, as they sought better fortunes elsewhere. The affair damaged popular support for the domain's leaders, as some argued that the domain's government should make Morioka a place others want to come to, not a place that people want to leave.
The clan became embroiled in a succession scandal, known as the Sôma Daisaku Incident, in the 1820s. The 11th lord of Morioka, Nanbu Toshimochi, died at age 14, and was secretly replaced with another young man, who assumed Toshimochi's identity as the 11th lord of the clan. He died quite soon afterward, however, at age 9, and so Nanbu Toshitada succeeded him as the 12th lord of Morioka. The domain administration failed under Toshitada, and he was forced to retire. However, even with his son, Nanbu Toshiyoshi, having officially succeeded him as daimyô, Toshitada continued to wield significant influence despite his nominal retirement. It is said that his retirement a year and three months later, in favor of his younger brother Nanbu Toshihisa, was at his father's suggestion. In 1854, a disturbance within the domain led to Toshitada being sentenced to house arrest by the shogunate, which also ordered Toshiyoshi to refrain from involvement in politics; a number of lower-ranking domain officials or retainers were also punished.
Under Toshihisa, the clan joined the Ôetsu Reppan Dômei and fought in support of the shogunate in the Boshin War of 1868, in which the shogunate and its supporters were ultimately defeated by the supporters of a new regime under Emperor Meiji.
Daimyô of Morioka
- Nanbu Toshinao (d. 1632)
- Nanbu Shigenao
- Nanbu Shigenobu
- Nanbu Yukinobu
- Nanbu Nobuoki
- Nanbu Toshimoto
- Nanbu Toshimi
- Nanbu Toshikatsu
- Nanbu Toshimasa
- Nanbu Toshinori
- Nanbu Toshimochi
- Nanbu Toshitada
- Nanbu Toshiyoshi
- Nanbu Toshihisa
- Nanbu Toshiyuki
Other Notable Figures from Morioka
- Edo daimyô hyakke 江戸大名百家. Bessatsu Taiyô 別冊太陽. Spring 1978. pp168, 187-188.
- Roberts, Luke. Performing the Great Peace: Political Space and Open Secrets in Tokugawa Japan. University of Hawaii Press, 2012. pp48-50.
- Yamamoto Hirofumi, Edo jidai - shôgun bushi tachi no jitsuzô, Tokyo Shoseki (2008), 93.
- By traditional age calculation, counting the number of calendar years in which he lived.
- An (honorary?) office in the Imperial Court in charge of overseeing food and drink.
- In proportion to their 200,000 koku status, rather than their actual resources, which were closer to those of a 100,000 koku domain.
- The term used in the formal documents is kuni.
- Ishin Shiryô Kôyô 維新史料綱要, vol 1 (1937), 560.