The legend of Princess Sen and Himeji Castle

Among those who lived in Himeji Castle, there was one woman of a rare beauty, named Princess Sen (Sen-hime). She was the granddaughter of Tokugawa Ieyusu, the founder and the first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan, which effectively ruled Japan from 1600 to 1868.

Born during the Warring-States period, Princess Sen was married at the age of seven to Toyotomi Hideyori, the successor to the Toyotomi clan. The Togukawa and the Toyotomi families often fought and the marriage was intended to keep the peace between the feuding clans.

Sen-hime left her home in Edo to live with her husband in Osaka Castle. In 1615, when she was 18 years old, the two families clashed again and the Osaka Summer Battle ensued. Princess Sen stayed at the castle during the battle but Tokugawa Ieyusu, fearing for her life, offered her hand in marriage to any man who could rescue her. She was rescued by Sakazaki Naomori and brought back to Edo. Toyotomi Hideyori committed seppuku (traditional honourable method of taking one’s own life) when Osaka Castle fell.

Princess Sen refused to marry her saviour and, at the age of 20, she married Honda Tadatoki, son of the lord of Himeji Castle. Her palace, Misashino Gone, was reportedly built in 3rd Bailey thanks to her huge dowry.

Their marriage was one of the few based on true love that took place during the Warring-States period and Princess Sen lived in Himeji Castle for the happiest ten years of her life. Sen-hime and Honda Tadatoki had two children.

The princess’ son died of disease at the age of three and then her husband died at the age of 31. She returned to Edo to become a Buddhist nun under the name of Tenjuin and spent the rest of her life mourning the loss of her husband and child. The year 2016 marked the 400th anniversary of the marriage of Princess Sen and Honda Tadatoki.

SOURCES: 

  • Himeji Tourist Guide & Map
  • World Heritage and National Treasure – Himeji Castle
  • Information signs at Himeji Castle
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Senhime

The legend of Princess Sen and Himeji Castle

by Uncover Travel time to read: 1 min
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