Imperial Princess Sakahito (酒人内親王)

Imperial Princess Sakahito (754 - September 25, 829) was Emperor Konin's Princess. Her mother was Imperial Princess Inoue. She was Saio, also referred to Itsukinomiya (an unmarried princess who, in former times, was sent by the emperor to serve at Ise Shrine) and later became Emperor Kanmu's Empress.

In 770 after her father, Prince Shirakabe (Emperor Konin) succeeded to the throne, she was appointed as Sanbon (the third rank of Imperial Princess) on December 1. On April 13, 772, her mother, Imperial Princess Inoue lost her position as Empress as she was suspected of putting a curse on Emperor Konin, her younger brother, Imperial Prince Osabe was also involved in this and he lost his position as Crown Prince on July 6. On December 5, Imperial Princess Sakahito quickly decided to become Saio in accordance with the advice given by a fortune-teller. Then it was decided for her to live in Kasuga Saigu for a while to use as a Nonomiya (a temporary palace to live in order to purify oneself, before serving at a shrine) to purify herself before she left for Ise Province. Soon after that, on October 16, 774, she finished purifying herself and went to Ise. On June 3, 775, due to the sudden death of Imperial Prince Inoue and Imperial Prince Osabe, where they were confined, Imperial Princess Sakahito resigned her position from Saio. After she went back to Kyoto, she became the Empress of her half older brother, Imperial Prince Yamanobe (Emperor Kanmu).

There was a strong political influence forcing this marriage, similar to the situation when it was decided that she was to become Saio in accordance with the fortune-teller's advice. It is presumed that Imperial Prince Yamanobe's political group tried to win over the other political group of Imperial Princess Inoue and Imperial Prince Osabe to their own side. Imperial Princess Sakahito became the Empress of Emperor Kanmu, who obtained his position as Crown Prince after confining and killing the Princess's mother and younger brother. Although there is no definitive proof as to whether this is true or not, according to the 'Mizukagami' (The Water Mirror), Emperor Konin planned to have Imperial Princess Sakahito become the Crown Princess; if true, this must have made Emperor Kanmu and his circle extremely wary of her. Emperor Kanmu's political group paid its respects to Imperial Princess Inoue's political group by twice moving Imperial Princess Inoue's remains to another grave site during this time. In 779 the Princess gave birth to Imperial Princess Asahara. It was quickly decided that Imperial Princess Asahara should become Saio, there were three generations in the same family, grandmother, mother, and the daughter Princess Asahara who became Saio.

On September 16, 782, a fortune teller was instrumental in the decision for Imperial Princess Asahara to become Saio when she was just four years old. Then the Chief (or director) of 造斎官 was appointed on June 8, 785, and the 斎宮頭 was appointed on September 3, Emperor Kanmu went from Nagaokakyo (the ancient capital of Nagaoka) to the former Heijokyo (the ancient capital of Heijo) to see Imperial Princess Asahara off on her journey to Ise on October 5. This is because Emperor Kanmu held sending off ceremonies for Saio/Itsukinomiko at the former capital of Heijokyo. On October 18, after Emperor Kanmu and all the government official's aides came to see Imperial Princess Asahara off at the boarder of Yamato Province, she left for Ise accompanied by the Chief of the Saigu Office, Kamo no Asomi Hitomaro and a lady-in-waiting for Saigu, Jugoinoge (Junior Firth Rank, Lower Grade), FUJIWARA no Asomi Eishi, and other wet nurse and court ladies. It was an exceptional trip to Ise.

However, although there had been no sudden crisis such as a death in her family, an Imperial messenger was sent to Saigu to dismiss Imperial Princess Asahara from her position as Saio/Itsukinomiko on April 1, 796; some time later on April 30, an Imperial messenger called TACHIBANA no Asomi Irii, who held the titles of Sashoben (Minor Controller of the Left) and Sahyoe no suke (Assistant Captain of the Left Division of Middle Palace Guards), was sent to Saigu to ask her to return to Kyoto. Imperial Princess Asahara went back to Kyoto when she was eighteen years old. After that she became Empress to her older half brother, Imperial Prince Ate's (later called Emperor Heizei). It is presumed that the reason why Imperial Princess Asahara was forced to leave her position of Saio was to have her marry Imperial Prince Ate. However Imperial Princess Asahara resigned her position as Empress without having any children, she died on May 18, 817 when she was thirty nine years old. Her mother, Imperial Princess Sakahito grieved over the death of her only daughter, she showed her grief in her will which she ordered to Kukai to write in her late years. In May and June, 818, in accordance with Imperial Princess Asahara's will, the private land of Daihannyakyo, (the Greater Sutra of the Perfection of Transcendent Wisdom; the Great Wisdom Sutra)Atsuminosho in Mino Province, Yokoenosho in Echizen Province, Tsuchiinosho in Echigo Province were donated to the Todai-ji Temple. On March 10, 823, Kukai was ordered to ghostwrite the will.
Imperial Princess Sakahito said to her adopted Shikibukyo, Okurakyo, Imperial Princess Ate, 'My body should be buried, not cremated, and only a small number of things can be buried with the body.'
All my belongings should be passed to three princes and to the monk, 仁主.
All of my other possessions can be given to the Keishi (imperial household superintendents) and ladies-in-waiting who have long served me.'
The will is recorded in 'Henjo Hakki Seirei shu.'

Imperial Princess Sakahito lived through the eras of eight different Emperors and died on September 25, 829 when she was seventy six years old. Her life was full of political turmoil.

According to the biography of 'the record of Todai-ji Temple,' she was beautiful with an attractive body. She acted beautifully and gently. She received the most affection from the Emperor. She was arrogant and had aesthetic sentiments. The Emperor did not stop her from behaving in this way. The Emperor let Princess Sakahito behave as she wished. Her sexual moral decadence was becoming worse and it was hard to stop her behavior,' it said. She looked beautiful and her body was supple. Emperor Kanmu loved her so much but her character was selfish and moody. However the Emperor did not say anything and let Princess Sakahito behave as she wanted. It was said, her sexual moral decadence was becoming worse, but she could not stop it by herself.
Also according to '一代要記,' it was said 'she received the most affection from the Emperor.'

In common view, 婬行 (Inko) or (媱行) is pronounced as Inco, and often means a woman who does not have strict sexual morals.
However according to the printed and published book of 'the record of Todai-ji Temple,' it was often written as '媱行,' because the character '媱' has the meaning of walking with one shoulder down, of which then the meaning was changed to 'good looking' or 'dances beautifully' or 'playing,' it can be presumed that Princess Sakahito was a woman who was described as 'she was a big spender and preferred to go to luxurious functions like Mando e or socializing with wealthy friends.'

It is said Imperial Princess Sakahito often organized Mando e at the Todai-ji Temple and prayed for her mother, Imperial Princess Inoue and her younger brother, Imperial Prince Osabe who both had tragic deaths. Her behavior seemed selfish on the surface however it could have been her small resistance to go against her life which was continued to be tossed about by politics. The reason why her husband, Emperor Kanmu did not stop his wife's selfish behavior could have been due to the fact that the Emperor felt beholden to her because of an incident that happened to Imperial Princess Inoue and Imperial Prince Osabe.

[Original Japanese]