Sono Kuniko (園国子)

Kuniko SONO (1624 - August 3, 1677) was a member of the Imperial Family during the early part of the Edo period. She was one of the consorts of the Emperor Gomizunoo. She was the real mother of the Emperor Reigen. Her Ingo (title of respect given to close female relatives of the emperor) was Shinkogimonin. Her father was Gon Dainagon (Provisional Major Councilor) Motonari SONO (who was given the posthumous court rank of Sadaijin [Minister of the Left]). Her mother was the daughter of Moritomo TANI, the lord of the Yamaga Domain. Her brother was Jun-daijin (Vice Minister) Motoyoshi SONO. Her name is sometimes written as FUJIWARA no Kuniko, as the original name of the Sono family was the Fujiwara clan.

She was called to be the consort of the Emperor Gomizunoo, following her aunt, Mitsuko SONO (Mibuin). She was 28 years younger than the emperor. She became Naishi no suke (a court lady of the first rank) and was conferred the rank of Jusanmi. She gave birth to four princes and two princesses. The youngest prince became the Emperor Reigen. Because Kazuko TOGUGAWA was the empress of the Emperor Gomizunoo, Kuniko was not given the title of emperor dowager even after the enthronement of her son, the Emperor Reigen. However, when Kuniko's condition became critical on August 3 1677, the Emperor Reigen conferred her the rank of Jusangu (an honarary rank next to the empresses) and the Ingo of Shinkogimonin. But, she passed away on the same day.

She brought a great prosperity to her home, the SONO family, and her father, Motonari SONO was posthumously conferred the court rank of Sadaijin, and her brother, Motoyoshi SONO, was given an exceptional title of Jun-daijin. After that, all the heads of the SONO family became Gon Dainagon except those who died young, and the SONO family became the most noble of the Urin family, although the Sono family was originally a lower court noble with the highest rank of Gon Chunagon (Provisional Middle Councilor). The SONO family is the one of the Urin families which became a count and not a viscount after the Meiji Restoration.

[Original Japanese]