Ryoko (良弘)

Ryoko (born in 1142; year of death unknown) was a priest of the Ono school of the Shingon Sect during the late Heian period. He was a son of FUJIWARA no Takayoshi, the Noto no kuni Gon no kami (the Provisional Governor of Noto Province). His mother was a daughter of SUGAWARA no Tokitaka. Ryoko was a Hoin (the highest rank in the hierarchy of Buddhist priests) and a Gon Daisozu (provisional highest grade that can be held by one who has reached the second highest rank in the hierarchy of Buddhist priests).

Ryoko resided in Daigo-ji Temple and enjoyed the trust and confidence of TAIRA no Kiyomori under the Taira Clan Administration. In 1178, at the rank of Gon Shosozu (a provisional junior rank in the second highest managerial position), Ryoko prayed for safe birth for the child of Kenreimonin Tokuko at her Ochakutai (a ceremony for the donning of a maternity belt). During the Rising of Prince Mochihito in 1180, Ryoko prayed for defeat of the arch enemy, and was praised and rewarded with a promotion to the rank of Gondaisozu. When Tokuko's son, Imperial Prince Tokihito was enthroned as Emperor Antoku, Ryoko was appointed as a Gojiso (a priest who protects the Emperor through prayer), resulting in his closer relationship with the Taira Clan.

Therefore, when the Taira Clan was exiled from Kyoto by MINAMOTO no Yoshinaka in 1183, Ryoko followed them to the Saikai region (provinces on the Western Seacoast of Japan). Two years later, in 1185, when the Taira Clan suffered the final defeat at the Battle of Dan no ura, Ryoko was among many priests and retainers of the Imperial Court, such as TAIRA no Tokitada, to be taken captive. After been taken to Kyoto, where a deliberation for his punishment was held, he was banished to the Awa Province.

Ryoko was pardoned in 1188, but his whereabouts remains unknown after his return to Kyoto.

[Original Japanese]