Bunchi-Jo (Princess Bunchi) (文智女王)

Princess Bunchi (July 30, 1619 - February 4, 1697) was a Buddhist nun who lived during the early Edo period. She was the first daughter of Emperor Go-Mizuno. Her mother was Yotsuko YOTSUTSUJI (Oyotsu, Myokyoin), imperial lady-in-waiting and the daughter of Kinto YOTSUTSUJI. She was also known as Ume-no-Miya and Sawa-no-Miya. Her posthumous name was Daitsu Bunchi.


While negotiations between the Edo bakufu the Edo bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) and the Imperial Court were ongoing, Emperor Go-Mizuno ascended the throne in 1611, and it was decided in 1619 that Shogun Hidetada TOKUGAWA's daughter Kazuko TOKUGAWA would become his consort. However, in the previous year, the Emperor Go-Mizuno and Oyotsu had already given birth to their first son Kamo no Miya, and then Ume-no-Miya, in May, 1619. In May of the same year, Shogun Hidetada travelled to Kyoto where he extended Kazuko's stay at the palace as consort when he discovered that Oyotsu was pregnant. The emperor declared his abdication and opposed Hidetata but in September of the same year, Hidetata punished court nobles including Oyotsu's brothers Suetsugu YOTSUTSUJI and Tsuguyoshi TAKAKURA, and in 1620 once again ruled that Kazuko remain an imperial consort (Oyotsu Incident).

Although Ume-no-Miya was the daughter of the emperor, it is said that she could not become an imperial princess as a result of the Oyotsu Incident, and there are few references to her in historical records. The daughters of emperors often married into Sekke (regent families) and in 1631 she married Norihira TAKATSUKASA, Dainagon (chief councilor of state) and Konoe Daisho (major captain of the palace guards). Norihira and Ume-no-Miya divorced after several years. Her mother, Oyotsu, passed away in 1638.

Her father, Emperor Go-Mizuno was of the Iwakura family and invited Isshi Bunshu who was in the service of Chuwamonin to Sento Imperial Palace to conduct a Buddhist sermon, following which Ume-no-Miya also studied under Isshi before becoming a Buddhist nun in August of 1640 with the retired emperor's permission. Bunchi built a thatched hut (Ensho-ji Temple) at Shugakuin Imperial Villa in 1641 but she wished to leave Kyoto, and moved to Eigen-ji Temple in Omi Province in May of 1645 before building a thatched hut in Hashima-mura (now in Nara City, Nara Prefecture), Soekami-gun, Yamato Province in 1656 where she retired. She later rebuilt Entsu-den Hall, which was given the honorific mountain prefix Fumonzan, and granted a 200-koku (55.6 cubic meters) estate by the Edo bakufu.

According to Sennyu-ji Temple records, Emperor Go-Mizuno and Princess Bunchi were the only people to be by the side of Kazuko TOKUGAWA (Tofukumonin) when she died.

[Original Japanese]