Fujiwara no Taishi (藤原泰子)

Fujiwara no Taishi, also pronounced Yasuko (1095 - January 10, 1156) was the Empress, Nyoin (an honorific title for the mother of emperor(s), etc.) during late Heian period. She was the seventy-fourth Emperor, Emperor Toba's Empress. Her Ingo title (a title of respect given to close female relatives of the Emperor or a woman of comparable standing) was Kayanoin. Her initial name was Yasuko.
The pronunciation of her name was 'Yasuko.'

Her father was Chisokuin Chancellor FUJIWARA no Tadazane, her mother was Udaijin (Minister of the right), Minamoto no Akifusa's daughter, Juichii (Junior First Rank), MINAMOTO no Shishi, also pronounced Moroko. Her real younger brother was Hosshoji Chancellor Grand Minister, FUJIWARA no Tadamichi, her half younger brother was Uji safu (the Minister of the left), FUJIWARA no Yorinaga.

She was brought up as the princess with the prospect of becoming Empress who was the only daughter of the real wife of a clan eligible for regents and chancellor. Around 1108, she was ordered by the Chiten (person in power) at that time, Emperor Shirakawa to make bridal entry in to the Imperial Palace to the young Emperor Toba, who was eight years younger than her, although her father, Tadazane kept rejecting the order from the In, he accepted it positively after Emperor Toba himself recommended Taishi enter into the Imperial Palace after 1113. After a few years Tadazane refused the marriage arrangement with his eldest son, Tadamichi and the adopted daughter, FUJIWARA no Shoshi (later called Taikenmonin), by doing this, again, he gave bad impression to Emperor Shirakawa in. In 1120 Tadazane lost his position of Chancellor and Nairan (an official position to check documents from the Grand Minister to the Emperor), he then had to retire to Uji. During this time Tadazane was concerned about his loving daughter's future, there was a record that he sent his messenger to Ise-jingu Shrine in August and September 1118 to pray for Taishi.

After Taishi passed her youth without having a solid future plan for her life, it was the turning point for her when the Cloistered Emperor Shirakawa died on July 31, 1129. Having retired to Uji for an extended period of time, Tadazane returned to the political arena following the death of Shirakawa-in, who was strong-willed and had an oppressive attitude towards the Sekkan-ke (the families which produced regents), and began to restore the authority of the Sekkan-ke under the supervision of the cloistered government of Toba-in. There was an issue partly caused by the above movement, the issue of Taishi's bridal entry into the Imperial Palace. Retired Emperor Toba agreed to Tadazane's request, allowing Taishi, who at 39 years old was not particularly young, to make her formal debut at the imperial court as an Imperial Consort on August 8, 1133. Despite the objections of court retainers, Taishi was given the title of Imperial Princess on April 5 of the following year, entitling her to be treated as almost equal to the Retired Emperor's Empress, and in an almost unprecedented turn of events, she became Kogogu (equivalent to Empress) on April 22. On August 31, 1139, Taishi received an ingo title of the Emperor's order, she was named 'Koyoin' which came from the name of her palace. On June 17, 1141, she shaved her head in Uji, following Tobain who went into priesthood before her.

It was almost impossible for her to have a Prince or a Princess at her age although she obtained a high rank as a woman, such as Empress and Nyoin. After one year she became an Empress, she adopted Imperial Princess Eishi, who was the Retired Emperor's loving wife, FUJIWARA no Tokushi's (later called Bifukumonin) Princess. The relationship between Eishi's birth mother, Bifukumonin Tokushi and Taishi's was relatively good. Considering the fact that there was a big age difference between the two women, almost like mother and daughter, the relationship between them did not end up a bad one, like the one between Taikenmonin Shoshi (the Retired Emperor Toba's second consort of an emperor) and Tokushi, who hated and fought against each others. Eishi was called Kayanoin Himemiya and she received much love from Taishi, however she died young on January 26, 1148, she was only fourteen years old.

When Taishi became Empress, it was Yorinaga, a younger half-brother of hers that she had taken under her protection, who was appointed to the position of Kogogu-daibu (Lord Steward to Her Majesty the Empress). When Tadazane's position was taken away from the Retired Emperor Shirakawa, Tadazane's eldest son, Tadamichi took the position as a successor, however when the Retired Emperor Toba started his cloister government, Tadazane became Nairan, thus, Tadamichi's position as the Chancellor had no significant meaning. Tadazane was presumed not so happy about his eldest son, Tadamichi's soft character, he relied more on the second son, Yorinaga, who had a strong personality, Tadazane organized Yorinaga to be under Taishi's support as he wanted Yorinaga to succeed to the family eligible for regents and chancellor. Taishi responded to Tadazane's request, she supported Yorinaga very well as his older sister, she also tried to become the key connection between Toba in and father and son, Tadazane and Yorinaga. Due to Bifukumonin and Tadamichi's slander, Tadazane and his son Yorinaga were kept away from the Palace of the retired Emperor after the premature death of Emperor Konoe (the beloved son of retired Emperor Toba); however, Taishi fulfilled an important role in easing the relationship between them. Taishi started to become ill in April and May 1155.

Taishi died in Kayanoin on January 17, 1156, she was sixty one years old. Her body was buried under the wooden floor of Fukusho-in Temple Goma (the Buddhist rite of burning small sticks of wood on the alter to invoke divine help) Hall in Goganji Temple (a temple for the Imperial Family) located in the eastern part of Kyoto. After that, since Tadazane and Yorinaga lost their political support, their position became fragile and it caused the Hogen War.

Taishi inherited more than fifty blocks of manor from her father, Tadazane, which were known as the private estate of Kayanoin, after she died, they were passed to her adopted son, Motozane KONOE (Tadamichi's eldest son) and it became a part of the Konoe family's private estate.

It was said that Kayanoin Taishi was an extreme man-hater.

[Original Japanese]