Akira Matsuura is a Japanese historian. He was the Lord of Hirado, Japan and ruled from 1858 to 1871. He had established good international relations and had also erected coastal defenses for protection of his territory. Let us have a recap of this great Japanese ruler cum historian’s royal life!
Akira Matsuura and the childhood days
Akira Matsuura was the third son born to Matsuura Hiromu. Matsuura Hiromu was the 10th daimyo of the Hirado domain situated in the Hizen Province, Kyushu, Japan. This was during the 19th century. Akira Matsuura was born on 11 November 1840. His honorary title was Hizen-no-Kami. There is nothing known about Akira’s mother or his childhood. Whether there were any home teachings provided is not known.
The story of his rise to the throne
Akira’s elder brother was Matsuura Terasu. He became the 11th daimyo of Hirado after the death of his father in 1841. He had a wife and three official concubines. But even until 1849, he had no children. Therefore, in November 1849, Akira was adopted officially by Trasu as his son and hence heir to the throne.
Terasu died unexpectedly on 5 August 1858 and Akira was put on the throne as the 12th daimyo of Hirado. He started the office in 1858. But he was the final daimyo of Hirado. In line, he was the 37th hereditary head of the Matsuura clan and also a noted tea master.
Akira continued the good work of his brother Terasu after his death and after gaining the power of the Hirado domain. He worked actively and was considered a sensible ruler. He tried to strengthen the domain in the face of the Bakumatsu period which was an unsettled period for the domain. He made a number of land reforms which would help the people under him.
Akira sponsored improved agricultural methods in order to improve on the yield and get more agricultural produce. His backing for the local farmers bore fruit and his domain flourished under him.
Akira also emphasized on military training. Training camps were set up during his reign and his military was one of the best in the world at that time.
In 1859 during his rule, his domain had some noted visitors such as Katsu Kaishu and also the Dutch doctor J.L.C. Pompe van Meerdervoort. Within two years of coming to power, he had built coast defenses and an increasing number of foreign ships were parked on the Hirado shores for trade and business. There was a healthy exchange of ideas between his domain and foreign lands.
He was a supporter of the Kobo Gattai policy which believed in the reconciliation of Tokugawa Bakufu and the Imperial Court. During the Boshin War for the Meiji Restoration, he was on the side of Emperor Meiji. His troops fought at the battle of Toba-Fushimi.
His loyalty to the New Government fetched his domain a handsome reward and monetary benefits. As the Han system was abolished, he had to surrender his title to the Central Government and became the Governor of Hirado until the domain was absorbed into the Nagasaki Prefecture which was in July 1871.
Akira was then promoted to the Imperial Household Ministry and was 4th in the Court rank. He moved to Tokyo and in April 1884, he became the count in the new kazoku peerage system. From 1890, he was with the House of Peers of the Diet of Japan. He soon acquired the 2nd Court rank. He also became the heir of the Chinshin-Ryu school of the Japanese tea ceremony. Their house is Hirado has been converted into a museum and contains all the objects used by the Matsuura clan.
Personal life and death
Research into his personal life draws a blank. There is no information about his wife or wives and children. He died on 13 April 1908.