A representative of the Okayama clan: Nagatada Tsuda
In the beginning of the book entitled “A representative of the Okayama Clan: Nagatada Tsuda” by Hajime Shibata, a prominent researcher of Nagatada Tsuda, he is described as follows:
“At first, I would like to write about the reason I chose to look into the life of Nagatada as a historical figure. Historical figure means here someone who responded to the demands of the time, who listened to what the people wanted and contributed to the development of society.
Nagatada as discussed in this book is a historical representative, he created the Genroku period for the Okayama Clan in Okayama against the background of the Genroku period.The Genroku period for the Okayama Clan is known for its large-scale development of the districts and various cultural projects.”
Examples of large-scale district development projects by Nagatada:
1) The reclamation of the Kurayasu River and a development of the Kurata area, a newly reclaimed paddy field in the Joto district.
2) The development of the Koushima area, a newly reclaimed paddy field in the Oku district accompanied with the construction of a big canal.
3) The development of the Oki area, a newly reclaimed paddy field in the Joto district accompanied with a construction of the Sanban canal.
4) The Tawara canal in the Iwanashi district, together with the construction of the Tawara dam and the construction of the Masuhara canal in the Wake district.
5) The construction of the Hyakken River in Joto district as well as several construction projects in Takeda and Nakashima.
Examples of cultural projects by Nagatada:
1) The construction of the Kourakuen garden, which is representative of the Japanese feudal gardens.
2) The Gokokuzan-Sougen Temple, here are the graves of the chiefs of the Ikeda clan. (The Shoukakudani graves are national historic sites).
3) Shizutani School (a National Historic Site).
Shizutani School was the first school in the world that was open to the general public. This is why Okayama is highly regarded in the field of education.
The lecture hall (National Treasure), temple, Houretsushi Shrine, Kakumei-gate and the stone walls of Houretsuki (all National Important Cultural Assets).
4)The Kibitsuhiko temple in Bizen Ichinomiya.
In addition, district development projects such as the Ichimonji-wharf in Ushimado, the construction of the Ootabu harbor and the Genroku breakwater in Hinase and the maintenance of reservoirs like the large pond in Bizen and Ichigaya pond are among Nagatada’s achievements. Furthermore there are other cultural projects, such as the construction and management of the Confucian style graves of the Ikedas in Waidani; the foundations of domain schools in the Okayama fief; 124 primary educational facilities and the introduction of the Seiden philosophy, which was an imitation of the Chinese way of distributing land. (Under the Seiden system, a field would be divided in nine plots. The plots would be worked by eight different farmers, but the center plot would be worked by all for the benefit of Shizutani School.)
Also he prepared supplies of rice for famine, the establishment of the “Gisou system” where grain is collected from the general public according to their income and is stored for years of scanty harvests. Distribution centers were constructed. He also maintained pasture for the horses of the military and oversaw a plantation project for flood control and landslide prevention.We can see that Nagatada and the people under his command were involved in numerous projects.
Even when we judge it by our present-day standards, Nagatada’s work is truly amazing. He used the best technology. To this day his works are historically significant.It is clear that his achievements have become the basis for Okayama’s wealth.
Now we will introduce the monument that praises the great achievements of Nagatada Tsuda.For a long time, his achievements were considered to be the work of his lord, and his name had been forgotten.
When the Meiji Emperor visited Okayama in August 1885, Nagatada’s name started to be famous again.
This was nearly 180 years after he had passed away.