Soncho (尊長)

Soncho (year of birth unknown - 1227) is a Buddhist monk in the early Kamakura period. He was the child of Yoshiyasu ICHIJO, Chunagon (vice-councilor of state). Takayoshi ICHIJO, Nobuyoshi ICHIJO, and Sanemasa ICHIJO numbered among his paternal half-brothers. Soncho was hoin (a priest of the highest rank in the highest managerial position), the shigyo (executor) of Hosho-ji Temple, and Dewa no kuni Dewasanzan sochori (chief priest of the Three Sacred Mountains in Dewa Province).
He was commonly known as 'Nii no Hoin.'

Thanks to his intelligence and martial competency, he was promoted from a monk at Enryaku-ji Temple to an aide of the Retired Emperor Gotoba. He was one of the masterminds behind Retired Emperor Gotaba's plot to overthrow the Kamakura bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun). In the Jokyu War (1221), Soncho played an important role as Retired Emperor Gotoba's man and took charge of capture and detention of Kintsune SAIONJI and his son, who were considered leaders of the pro-Kamakura bakufu group, although Kintsune was Soncho's brother-in-law. When fighting with the army of bakufu, Soncho and his brother Nobuyoshi defended the Imoarai district, but upon the realization of their defeat, he cut himself loose from the battalion and was on the run.

After 6 years of running away, Soncho was discovered to plot a coup in Kyoto in 1227 and arrested and murdered (it is also said that he committed suicide) by Sugajurozaemon Chikanori, a kinju (attendant) of Tokiuji HOJO, Rokuhara Tandai (the high-rank intelligent officer at the administrative and judicial agency in Rokuhara, Kyoto). It is said that when Soncho was captured and failed to commit suicide, he shouted, 'Cut my head off now! Or, kill me with the poison that Yoshitoki's wife used!,' suggesting that Yoshitoki HOJO, then regent to the shognate, who had died three years before, was killed with poison by Iga no kata, the wife of Yoshitoki (based on the episode described in a diary of Teika FUJIWARA).
It is also said that when grilled by warriors, Soncho snapped, 'I am not lying because I am dying.'
Presently, it has often become the case that this episode is cited in conjunction with the fact that Sanemasa ICHIJO, Soncho's brother, was selected as a candidate for the shognate during the coup attempt of the Iga clan, which took place after the death of Yoshitoki.

[Original Japanese]