Imperial Princess Akiko (あき子内親王)

Imperial Princess Akiko (April 29, 1137 - August 6, 1211) was an Imperial Family member during the end of the Heian period to early Kamakura period.
She was the first woman to become Nyoin (a close female relative of the Emperor or a woman of comparable standing) without having the rank of Empress and being named 'Hachijoin.'

She was Emperor Toba's Princess and her mother was Bifukumonin. (Empress, FUJIWARA no Tokushi)
Her real younger brother was Emperor Konoe, and half older brothers were Emperor Sutoku and Emperor Goshirakawa. She had another half younger and older sisters, Imperial Princess Eishi who died young, and Imperial Princess Shushi who became Chugu (the second consort of an emperor) of Emperor Nijo (Takamatsuin).

She did not marry all her life, but she became her nephew, Emperor Nijo's Junbo (rank equivalent to Emperor's mother), and she educated Prince Mochihito and his children, Yoshisuke KUJO (Kanezane KUNO's child) and Imperial Princess Shoshi (Shunkamonin, Emperor Gotoba's Princess).

Brief Personal History
She was born on the same day as Buddha in 1137. In May and June 1138, she received the title of Imperial Princess, and in May and June 1146 she became Jusango (one of the official ranks given to Imperial family members or court nobles in the Heian period). She shaved her head and entered the priesthood in July and August 1157, her Buddhist name was Kongokan. She was given a Nyoingo title (a title of respect given to close female relatives of the Emperor or a woman of comparable standing) by the Emperor on January 10, 1162.

Her role in the history
She was brought up by the parents with much love, and it was said her father, the Cloistered Emperor Toba seriously considered Imperial Princess Akiko to become successor to the throne after Emperor Konoe died in 1155. ("Gukansho" (A Selection of the Opinions of a Fool))
Although she entered the priesthood after her father died, not only did she succeed her parent's enormous legacy and most of their manor, but also she was asked to raise Crown Prince and Emperor Nijo, (later called Emperor Nijo), and became foster mother of Emperor Nijo's half younger brother, Prince Mochihito. After Imperial Prince Morihito succeeded to the throne, she was given the Nyoin go title of Hachijoin as the Emperor's Junbo. After that she continuously supported the Emperor Goshirakawa's cloistered government, it is said even TAIRA no Kiyomori could not ignore her existence.

When her adopted child, Prince Mochihito raised his army against the Taira clan in 1180 (the Rising of Prince Mochihito), it was said Hachijoin secretly supported Prince Mochihito, in fact, it was apparent that Prince Mochihito's child (the birth mother was the court-lady for Hachijoin) was sheltered in Hachijoin's Palace, however Kiyomori had to overlook her act since he was worried about social criticism, instead, he let Prince Mochihito's son entered the priesthood. However her enormous manors all over Japan practically divulged 'Prince Mochihito's address,' and it caused civil wars like the Jisho and Juei Wars started by the local Samurai groups.

The manor of Hachijoin's whereabouts
Hachijoin adopted Prince Mochihito's Princess, Sanjonohimemiya (Prince Sanjo) and she gave most of her manor to Sanjonohimemiya when Hachijoin became very ill in the New Year of 1196, however she got the manors back again to manage after Sanjonohimemiya died in 1204. After that she gave most of her manors to her other adopted daughter, Imperial Princess Shoshi. The Hachijoin manor was passed to Emperor Juntoku, Gotakakurain, Imperial Princess Hoshi, soon it became an important financial base for the Daikakuji Imperial line.

It was said she was a Princess with a generous character. According to "Tamakiharu" (a diary) written by Kenjugozen (she served TAIRA no Shigeko and later also served Hachijoin), it was said Hachijoin was very unconcerned and casual in everyday life, she did not give many orders to her ladies in waiting concerning small things in her routine life, she let them behave as they wanted. Kenjugozen was surprised to see the difference of the Hachijoin's palace, which was covered with dust and the ladies in waiting were wearing unfashionable costumes, compared to those in Kenshumonin's palace with luxurious furnishing and everything well in order.

[Original Japanese]