Watari, The Castle Town Founded by Date Shigezane

Tombstones of the Watari-Date clan heads and their main wives line the path.

The feudal warlord who was active as Date Masamune’s right-hand man

3 mausoleums stand quietly in Daiouji Temple, located in the outskirts of Watari Town. The beautifully colored mausoleum houses the tomb of the first head of the Date-Watari clan, Date Shigezane, and beside it stands the tombs of his father Sanemoto, and the fifth head Saneuji. The tombs are located on high ground within the temple grounds, where you can have a full view of the town.

The vibrantly-colored mausoleum of Date Shigezane.

Shigezane, an excellent lord

Date Shigezane became the first lord of Watari in 1602 at the age of 35, and lay the foundations for Watari. Shigezane was a feudal warlord who won many battles as the right-hand man of Date Masamune, the lord of Sendai Domain, but he also made many significant contributions as the lord of Watari. Shigezane aimed to build a town that was suitable for a new era. He constructed a canal, cultivated wastelands, and increased the land value of Watari from 6,000 koku when he first became lord to 20,000 koku. This was the largest land value amongst all the retainers of the Date clan. He was also considerate towards his subordinates, and valued fairness, which made his retainers and people respect him greatly.

The wooden figure of Date Shigezane in the mausoleum.

Shigezane's mausoleum, opened to public twice a year

Date Shigezane’s mausoleum at Daiouji Temple is opened to public on 16 January and 16 August every year. It is uncertain when exactly the temple started to open it to public, but there are records that it was already in practice from the Taisho era. One of the most convincing explanations as to why these two dates were chosen is because they were when many families in Watari would visit ancestors’ graves. You definitely want to have a look at the wooden figure of Shigezane inside his mausoleum on either of the two days each year.

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