Taira no TokukoTokushiNoriko (平徳子)

TAIRA no Tokuko/Tokushi/Noriko (1155 - January 25, 1214) was the Chugu (the second consort of an emperor) of Emperor Takakura and Nyoin (the respective title given to emperor's mother or Sanko or Princesses by the Imperial Palace) during the late Heian period. She was Emperor Antoku's mother. She was the second daughter of TAIRA no Kiyomori, and her mother was the Emperor's wife, Taira no Tokiko (Nii no Ama). Her half older brother was TAIRA no Shigemori, real brothers were TAIRA no Munemori, TAIRA no Tomomori, TAIRA no Shigehira, etc. Her In go title was Kenreimon in. She was called Kenreimo in Tokuko/Tokushi/Noriko.

Due to her father's intention, she made an Imperial Consort's bridal entry into the court for Emperor Takakura, and gave birth to the Prince. After her son, Emperor Antoku's enthronement, she was called 'Kokumo' (Emperor's mother), her glory was short, not long after Kiyomori died from illness, and the Taira family was attacked by the Minamoto clan and they escaped from the city, and they roamed about the sea. The Taira family went to ruin after the Battle of Dannoura, her mother Niino Ama (Tokiko/Tokushi/Noriko) and Emperor Antoku drowned themselves. Tokuko/Tokushi/Noriko survived and was sent to Kyoto, she became a nun and lived all her life to pray and mourn the passing of Emperor Antoku and the TAIRA family in Ohara Jakko-in Temple.

She was the heroine of the classic war chronicle, "The Tale of the Heike", in which her role was to bring the curtain down on events.

Chugu Tokuko/Tokushi/Noriko

She was born the second daughter of Kiyomori and his wife, Tokiko. Her father, Kiyomori won the Hogen War and the Heiji War, and he had strong political power inside the Imperial Palace, although he was a Samurai, he formed the base of the Taira clan. In 1167 he finally became the Grand Minister. It was for the purpose of becoming a maternal relative to strengthen his political power, the same way as the Fujiwara clan did.

Although Emperor Takakura was Tokiko's sister, TAIRA no Shigeko's (Kenshunmon in) son, Kiyomori wished Tokuko to make an Imperial consort's bridal entry into the court. Once it was arranged for Tokuko to become Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa's adopted child, in 1171 she then entered into the court to become Chugu (the second consort of an emperor) to Emperor Takakura, who was eleven years old, while Tokuko was seventeen years old.

In 1178 seven years after Tokuko made an Imperial consort's bridal entry into the court, she became pregnant at twenty four. Kiyomori and other Taira clan wished for Tokuko to have a boy and visited many temples and shrines to perform incantations.
Due to praying for an easy delivery of the baby, TAIRA no Yasuyori and FUJIWARA no Naritsune, who were sentenced to Kikaiga-shima Island after the Shishigatani Conspiracy occurred in 1177 were set free. (Only Shunkan was not set free and died on the Island.)
On November 12, in the same year, Tokushi gave a birth to a boy, Imperial Prince Tokihito. In the following year, in December, the Prince became the Crown Prince.

Tokuko was six years older than Emperor Takakura and the relationship between them was not necessary favorable, the Emperor loved Aoi no Mae and he was heartbroken after she died, then the Prince favored Takafusa REIZEI's (Kiyomori's son in law) lover, Kogo. Kogo gave birth to a Princess (Imperial Princess Hanshi), but Kiyomori was furious and expelled Kogo to force her to become a nun. This incident was written as a tragedy in "The Tale of Heike," but according to the anthology of waka poems by Takafusa REIZEI "Tsuyakotoba," Kogo was still seeing Takafusa although she was loved by the Emperor, it shows there was no strict morality within the Imperial Palace in those days.

It was a headache for Emperor Takakura that Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa and Kiyomori opposed each other, there was an incident where Kiyomori had complained about the issue of land succession for the Konoe family in November 1179, he carried out a coup and confined the Emperor (The coup of Jisho san nen).

In February 1180 Kiyomori took political power, he made Emperor Takakura abdicate and allowed Imperial Prince Tokihito who was three years old to succeed to the throne (Emperor Antoku). Due to this, Kiyomori became the maternal relative of the Emperor.

Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa's third Prince, Prince Mochihito was frustrated with the enthronement of Emperor Antoku, he raised an army with MINAMOTO no Yorimasa to overthrow the TAIRA clan in May of the same year. The Army raised by Prince Mochihito was not very organized and was suppressed in short time, although Prince Mochihito and Yorimasa died, the Prince's Highness' address called for other Minamoto clan and large temples and shrines, the battle continued to become The Battle of Jisho and Juei.

In the same year in June, Kiyomori visited Fukuhara Palace in Fukuhara intending to move the capital city. Retired Emperor Takakura and Tokuko moved to Fukuhara as well, this caused panic among the court nobles and ordinary people. In the end, the change of capital city failed and it was changed back to Kyoto in November. Emperor Takakura, who was weak, got sick during this disturbance, he died in the New Year of 1181. In "The Tale of Heike," it was said the Emperor died after he was heartbroken from Kogo no Tsubone, who was mentioned earlier. According to Gyokuyo (the Diary of Kanezane KUJO), the article on the thirteenth in the New Year of the same year, attempts were made to get Tokuko to enter Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa's inner palace; Tokuko was strongly opposed to this, however, as she wished to become a nun. In the same year of November, Tokuko received an Ingo title from the Emperor to the name Kenrei mon in.

Kenrei mon in

In 1182 her father, Kiyomori died from fever. The Taira family struggled to fight against the opposition of the Taira Family forces.

In July 1183, the Taira clan, who lost the battle against MINAMOTO no Yoshinaka, were forced to move out of the city, Tokuko escaped to the country with Emperor Antoku carrying the three sacred emblems of the Imperial Family. Once they escaped to Dazaifu in Kyushu, however they were refused permission to remain there by the local Samurai, Koreyoshi OGATA, after that, the Taira clan were forced to undergo a difficult life roaming the sea on a ship, TAIRA no Kiyotsune, who was a nephew of Tokuko, was devastated and drown himself.

Soon after that the Taira clan took the political power back and built a tentative Imperial Palace in Yashima, in Sanuki Province, they went into Fukuhara, in Settsu Province. However in February in 1184, they lost the Battle of Ichinotani against MINAMOTO no Yoritomo's younger brothers, MINAMOTO no Noriyori, MINAMOTO no Yoshitsune, they lost many members of the clan, and the older brother, TAIRA no Shigehira was caught by the MINAMOTO clan.

In March 1185 the Taira clan lost the Battle of Danno ura against Yoshitsune, Tokuko's mother, Niino ama, drowned herself together with Emperor Antoku and carried the three sacred emblems of the Imperial Family with them to their deaths. Tokuko, as well, had no hope and tried to drown herself carrying an ink stone and stones, but she was caught by 渡辺昵, he used a rake to catch Tokuko's hair and her body was pulled out of the water, then she became a prisoner.

Tokuko was returned to Kyoto in April in the same year. Since she was not a Samurai, she was not punished, she was sent to Yoshida in Higashiyama in Rakuhoku (the northern part of Kyoto).

On May 1 in the same year, Tokuko shaved her head to enter into the priesthood having Priest Insai of Choraku-ji Temple as her Kaishi (Buddhist priest who gives out rules to people who enter into the priesthood), she was named 直如覚. Tokuko gave the former Emperor's (Emperor Antoku's) Noshi (everyday clothes for nobles) to the temple as an offering. The Choraku-ji Temple still keeps this Noshi as a flag to pass from generation to generation.

Tokuko's sister, Takafusa REIZEI's wife, and Nobutaka SHICHIJO's wife often visited to bring some food to help Tokuko.

Because she attracted a lot of attention in Yoshida, she moved to Jakkoin Temple in September of the same year, located deep in the mountains of Ohara, she built a hermit's cell and spent her days praying or holding memorial services for the deceased former Emperor and the Taira clan. Tokuko's older brother Shigehira's mistress, FUJIWARA no Hoshi/Sukeko and FUJIWARA no Shinzei's daughter, Awa no Nashi served Tokuko.

The Emperor's visit to Ohara

There is the story of Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa visiting Tokuko in Ohara Jakkoin Temple in Kanjo no Maki (volume) in the last series of the classic literature, "The Tale of the Heike," the story ends after Tokuko dies peacefully. There are various historical theories as to whether the story of Emperor visiting Ohara was true or not.

In April 1186, the Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa secretly visited the quiet house in Ohara accompanied by Sanesada TOKUDAIJI, Kazan in Kanemasa, Michichika TSUCHIMIKADO and other Hokumen samurai (the Imperial Palace guards).

Although Tokuko ashamed her appearance after she fell on hard times, she met with the Cloistered Emperor in tears, and said, 'I was born as a daughter of the Grand Minister, TAIRA no Kiyomori, and once called the mother of the Emperor, I thought my days in glory would even reach heaven, but soon after Yoshinaka KISO's attack, I had to leave Kyoto and I was feeling sad missing Kyoto. I had the most difficult time ever, in the ship roaming the sea, there was no water to drink and no food to eat. After that, at the Battle of Danno ura, Nino Ama held the former Emperor and they drowned, while saying "there was another city under the waves," I still remember how he looked the last time I saw him. The people remaining felt like criminals in hell. When I was caught and brought to Akashi in Harima Province, I had a dream and saw the former Emperor and the people from the Taira clan sitting down in polite manner somewhere looked better than the former Imperial Palace. I asked, "Where is this place," then they answered, "This is the Palace of the Dragon King." I asked, "If there is pain in this world?" they answered, "It is written in Ryuchiku kyo (sutra)." Then I read the sutra and talked about what I had to go through, also mentioning that I prayed to hold a memorial service for the deceased former Emperor.
The Cloistered Emperor said, "You must have seen Rokudo. (the six lower worlds)
It is the most unusual thing." and cried.

After that Tokuko spent Spring and Autumn in the mountain village of Ohara, she prayed to Amida Buddha and died in 1214, while Hoshi/Sukeko and Awa no Naishi were looking after her.
(It was said in "The Tale of the Heike" that she died in February in 1191.)

The Imperial mausoleum

Tokuko's Mausoleum is located near Jakko-in Temple. (Ohara no Nishi no Misasagi is under the supervision of the Imperial House Agency.)
She is enshrined in the Suitengu (the temple sacred to the guardian deity of mariners) with Emperor Antoku.

[Original Japanese]