Fujiwara no Otomuro (藤原乙牟漏)

FUJIWARA no Otomuro (760 - April 28, 790) was an Empress in the late Nara period. She was the Empress of the 50th Emperor Kanmu and the real mother of the 51st Emperor Heizei and the 52nd Emperor Saga.

Her father was FUJIWARA no Yoshitsugu of the Ceremonial House of the Fujiwara clan and her mother was ABE no Komina, a Naishi no tsukasa (female palace attendants) doubling as Kuranokami (director of Zoshi [public office concerned about clothes of Emperor and Empress]) (the time of accession unknown). She entered into court as an Imperial Consort of Prince Yamanobe and, in September 774, gave birth to Prince Ote (Later to change the name to Ate).

On May 16, 781, Prince Yamanobe ascended the throne as Emperor Kanmu and, on March 16, 783, she was promoted to Shosanmi (Senior Third Rank) from no rank. On March 18, she became Bunin (consort of the emperor) and in May 783 was installed as Empress. In 785, Prince Ate (Later to become Emperor Heizei) was installed as Crown Prince.

In 786, she gave birth to Prince Kamino (Later to become Emperor Saga). In 789, she gave birth to Princess Koshi. On May 2, 790, she died at the age of 31 and was buried in the Takabatake Mausoleum (The Nagaoka Mausoleum, Muko City, Kyoto Prefecture). In 806, Emperor Heizei who ascended the throne conferred the title of Empress Dowager to her posthumously.
"Shoku Nihongi" (Chronicle of Japan Continued) described her in two sentences, 'Empress Otomuro was a beautiful lady with a warm personality. She was a polite person and a wise mother.'

Around Emperor Kanmu, three ladies died one after another, that is, FUJIWARA no Tabiko, Bunin (consort of the emperor) in 788, TAKANO no Niigasa, Kotaifujin (title for previous retired emperors' wife) (real mother of Kanmu) in 789 and Empress Otomuro in the following year. Furthermore, in 792, unfortunate incidents happened in succession including the illness of Prince Ate and flood disasters in Kinai region (provinces surrounding Kyoto and Nara). Kanmu regarded the incidents as due to the curse of Prince Sawara who died in 785 of resentment after being deprived of his title of Crown Prince, being involved in the assassination of FUJIWARA no Tanetsugu and held memorial rites to calm his soul. Thus the conception of a vengeful spirit was created for the first time in the history of Japan.

[Original Japanese]