Tachibana no Kachiko (橘嘉智子)

TACHIBANA no Kachiko (786 - June 17, 850) was the Empress of the fifty-second Emperor Saga. She was TACHIBANA no Naramaro's grandchild and TACHIBANA no Kiyotomo's daughter. Her mother was from Taguchi clan who held Zo Shoichii (Senior First Rank, posthumously conferred). Another name was the Empress Danrin. Her younger brother (or older brother) was the Udaijin (Minister of the Right), TACHIBANA no Ujikimi.

It is said she was exceptionally beautiful. Initially she was just one of Emperor SAGA's Empress but after Imperial Princess Takatsu, Emperor Kanmu's Princess, deposed from the Empress, her relative in law, FUJIWARA no Fuyutsugu (Kachiko's older sister, Yasuko was FUJIWARA no Mimori's wife, who was the younger brother of Fuyutsugu's wife, FUJIWARA no Mitsuko) supported Kachiko to become Empress. She was the first and the last Empress from the Tachibana clan.

She gave birth to Emperor Ninmyo (Imperial prince Masara), Imperial Princess Seishi (Masako) (Emperor Junna's Empress) and another two boys and five girls as Emperor Saga's children. She deeply believed in Buddhism, she was called Empress Danrin since she built the first Japanese Zen temple, Danrin-ji Temple. After Emperor Saga's enthronement, she lived in Reizen in, Saga in together with him. She had absolute power as a grand empress after the Retired Emperor Saga died, she wielded her influence and established Daigaku besso Gakkan in (accommodation facility built near the University or college by the influential court nobles for their children in the Heian period) for the Tachibana clan, and was deeply involved in the Showa Incident to secure the position for Emperor Ninmyo. Therefore it is said that her daughter, and the mother of the Deposed Imperial Crown Prince, Prince Tsunesada, Imperial Princess Seishi blamed Kachiko strongly.

There is a legend that she left a will forbidding the burial of her body after her death, the body was left on the street for the birds and animals to eat to prevent them from starvation, then a painter was ordered to paint the picture of how maggots decomposed the body and nearly turned into a skeleton.

[Original Japanese]