Fujiwara no Shoshi (藤原璋子)

FUJIWARA no Shoshi, also pronounced Tamako (1101 - September 10, 1145) was the mother of the emperor in the late Heian period. She was the second consort of the seventy fourth Emperor Toba, and was the mother of the seventy-fifth Emperor Sutoku and the seventy-seventh Emperor Goshirakawa. Her Nyoin go (an honorific title for the mother of emperors) was Taikenmonin.


She was from the Kanin House of the Fujiwara clan. Her father was Shonii (Senior Second Rank) Gon Dainagon (chief councilor of state), FUJIWARA no Kinzane (1053 - 1107), his mother was Sachuben (official's title), 藤原隆方's daughter and the wet nurse of Emperor Horikawa and Emperor Toba, Mitsuko. Her half older brother was the Grand Minister, Saneyuki SANJO (the originator of the Sanjo family), her real older brothers and sisters were Chunagon (vice-councilor of state), Michisue SAIONJI (the originator of the Saionji family), Sadaijin (Minister of the left), Saneyoshi TOKUDAIJI (the originator of Tokudaiji family), the wife of Tsunezane OIMIKADO, FUJIWARA no Koshi (Emperor Nijo's maternal grand mother).

Brief Personal History

She lost her father when she was seven, and she was brought up by the Chiten no kimi, Shirakawa in (the seventy-second Emperor Shirakawa) and the woman he loved the most, Gionnyogo at that time. There was a marriage proposal for the eldest son of the family eligible for regents and chancellor, FUJIWARA no Tadamichi, however, a rumor went around about Shoshi's behavior, Tadamichi's father, FUJIWARA no Tadazane, did not give approval to the proposal and it left a bad impression on Shirakawa in.

On January 13, 1118, as a daughter of her foster father, the Shirakawa in, Shoshi made an Imperial Consort's bridal entry into court of her father's cousin, Emperor Toba, four days later, she received an imperial letter to be appointed as a high-ranking lady in the court. About one month later, on February 25, 1118, she was appointed as an Empress and received the title of Chugu (the second consort of an emperor). In the following year of 1119, on July 14, she gave birth to the first Imperial Prince, Imperial Prince Akihito (the seventy-fifth Emperor Sutoku). After that she also gave birth to Saiin (princess who served Kamo Shrine) Imperial Princess Kishi, Imperial Prince Michihito and Imperial Prince Kimihito, however the last two Imperial Princes were handicapped. She gave birth to the fourth Prince, Imperial Prince Masahito (the seventy-seventh Emperor Goshirakawa) on October 25, 1127, who was one year younger than Imperial Prince Toshi (also pronounced Muneko) (Josaimonin), two years later the youngest child, Imperial Prince Motohito (he went into priesthood at Ninna-ji Temple and had the name of monk-Imperial prince Kakusho) was born. On March 4, 1123, Shirakawa in let Imperial Prince Akihito succeeded to the throne when he was only five years old, Shoshi received an Ingo title by Emperor's order and named Taikenmonin on January 7, 1125.

Thus, Shoko had five boys and two girls with Emperor Toba, she also visited Kumano Shrine with the Emperor, this was facilitated due to the political power that Shirakawa in had. On July 31, 1129, the year Imperial Prince Motohito was born, the Cloistered Emperor Shirakawa died at seventy seven years of age, who had taken three generations of political control for the young emperors', after his death, Taikenmonin's life changed for the worse. After the Toba in succeeded to take over the Cloistered government and control his aides, the young Emperor Sutoku was alone without having any political support. The Toba in promoted Tadazane who lost his position of the Chancellor and fell into obscurity by Shirakawa in, the Emperor not only appointed his daughter FUJIWARA no Taishi (Kayanoin) to an Empress, but also loved FUJIWARA no Tokushi (Bifukumonin) most, instead of Taikenmonin. On September 18, 1139, Toba in let Tokushi's three month old baby, the eighth Prince, Imperial Prince Narihito become Crown Prince, and after two years, on January 12, 1142, he succeeded the throne after Emperor Sutoku passed the position to him (Emperor Konoe).

However after Emperor Konoe succeeded to the throne, and also just before and after Tokushi officially became the Empress, there were some curse incidents (the Hie Shrine Curse Incidents, the Hirota Shrine Curse Incident) continuously happening, and there was a rumor that Taikenmonin, whose son lost his Imperial succession, had something to do with them.
There was a rumor at that time, that Emperor Toba and Shoshi's first son, Emperor Sutoku was the Cloistered Emperor Shirakawa's illegitimate child. ("Kojidan" (Talks of the Past) and others)
Thus Taikenmonin who lost her political power, went into Hokongo-in Temple which she had ordered built and shaved her head in 1142. After three years, she died at her eldest brother, Saneyuki's Sanjo Takakura Dai (residence) on September 17, 1145.

On August 29, 1155, ten years after she died, Emperor Konoe died young when he was just seventeen years old, and unexpectedly Shoshi's Prince, Shinomiya Imperial Prince Masahito was appointed to Emperor (Emperor Goshirakawa). Shoshi's eldest son, the Retired Emperor Sutoku did not approve this, soon the Samurai forces of Minamoto and Taira clans were gathered to start the Hogen War, however, this had no longer anything to do with Shoshi.


The Hokongo-in Temple which currently exist at Hanazono Ogino-cho, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto City, was originally Udaijin (Minister of the right), KIYOHARA no Natsuno's mountain villa in early Heian period, and it was changed to Narabigaoka-dera Temple after he died, when the Tenan-ji Temple was build by the Emperor Montoku's order in 858, the temple was ruined after that, Taikenmonin then restored it in 1130. The Nyoin, (a respective title for woman in the Imperial Palace) Shoshi spent her later years in this temple, she was buried and still now her soul sleeps in Hanazono no Nishi no Misasagi (the West Hanazono Mausoleum), which is located half way up the Mt. Goi, north of the Hokongo-in Temple. It was said that many people have visited the Honkogo-in Temple, including the famous poet and monk, Saigyo to pray for the Nyoin (Shoshi), who was exceptionally beautiful and believed strongly in Buddhism.

The Taikenmonin Horikawa (Murakami-Genji (Minamoto clan), Jingihaku (one of the government official position in government based on the ritsuryo legal codes) Akinaka's daughter) who served and helped the Nyoin to go to the Temple, was a famous poet and one of her poems was included in "One Hundred Poems by One Hundred Poets."

[Original Japanese]