Noen (能円)

Noen (1140-1199) was a Buddhist monk who lived at the end of the Heian period. He was the son of FUJIWARA no Akinori, who was kogogu no suke (an official responsible for managing the empress's household). His mother was a maid who served Imperial Princess Reishi, and TAIRA no Tokiko and TAIRA no Tokitada were half-siblings by the same mother. He had several half-brothers by the same father, such as FUJIWARA no Morinori, FUJIWARA no Norichika, FUJIWARA no Tsunenori and Genken, and he had daughters such as MINAMOTO no Zaishi (Shomeimonin) and FUJIWARA no Nobuko.

His half-sister Tokiko favored him and received him into her family as a son. He rose in the world following the establishment of the Taira clan government by TAIRA no Kiyomori, Tokiko's husband, and was appointed as the shigyo (executor) of Hossho-ji Temple. Although he was a Buddhist monk, he married FUJIWARA no Noriko, the daughter of FUJIWARA no Norikane, and had a daughter, Zaishi. After Noriko became the wet nurse of Imperial Prince Takahira, the fourth prince of Emperor Takakura, he expanded his network of contacts at the Imperial Court.

However, his fortunes underwent a rapid deterioration after he followed the flight of the Ise-Heishi (Taira clan) from Kyoto in 1183. Immediately afterward, Imperial Prince Takahira ascended the throne as Emperor Gotoba, but Noen was at the west sea far from the capital and heard the news to no avail. When the Taira family was destroyed at the Battle of Dan no Ura in 1185, he was sent to the capital as a captive, whereupon he was judged and condemned to exile in Bicchu Province.

Noriko, who had been in the capital during that period, remarried MINAMOTO no Michichika and took Zaishi with her. Noen was pardoned and went back to Kyoto in 1189, but Noriko had already given birth to MINAMOTO no Sadamichi and MINAMOTO no Michikata by Michichika, and was carrying another child. Zaishi won the favor of Emperor Gotoba, and gave birth to Imperial Prince Tamehito in 1196. When he ascended the throne as Emperor Tsuchimikado in 1198, Noen became the maternal grandfather of an emperor by blood relationship, but he never received treatment befitting that fact. With sidelong glances at Michichika's increasing influence, he died in 1199.

[Original Japanese]