The KOTOKUI family (幸徳井家)

The KOTOKUI family was based in Nanto, Nara, and was a Jige-ke (family status of non-noble retainers who are not allowed into the Emperor's living quarters in the imperial palace)that served and practiced Onmyodo (a way of Yin and Yang; occult divination system based on the Taoist theory of the five elements).under the government. The KOTOKUI family descended from the ABE clan; however, since the first family head, Tomoyuki KOTOKUI was adopted by the KAMO clan, the family is considered as part of the KAMO line.


Tomonori ABE was born in 1390 as the second child of Tomouji ABE of the ABE clan. He studied Onmyodo with Sadahiro KAMO of the Onmyoryo (the Bureau of Divination) under the Gyobusho (the Ministry of Justice). Tomonori was adopted by Sadahiro KAMO and changed his name to" Tomoyuki KAMO" in 1419. Tomoyuki was appointed to the Jugomi-ge (Junior Lower Fifth Rank) in October, 1423, then to the Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank) in 1454, and finally to Seisanmi (Senior Third Rank) in 1463. He later built his residence at Kotokui in the Takahatasaiwai village, located in the suburbs of Nara, and served the Monzeki (successor of a temple), Jinson at the Kofuku-ji Temple Daijo. Aside from accomplishing his duties of Onmyodo and Rekido (study of the calendar), he also served as political advisor to Jinson. He derived his family name from his residence, KOTOKUI. After Tomoyuki's death in 1473 at age 83, his son, Tomoshige KOTOKUI took over his duties, and was appointed to the shosanmi (Senior Third Rank) by Jinson's recommendation. The next generation, Tomonobu KOTOKUI, was also appointed to the Junior Sanmi. The KOTOKUI family formed a lord-and-vassal relationship with the Kofuku-ji Temple, and backed by the temple's influence, controlled all things concerning the Onmyodo-Rekido of Nanto including Nichiji Kanjin (a way of divining something according to the time and day) to the shrines and temples as well as supervision of the Onmyoji (a master of Yin yang) and the Shomonji (a group of itinerant performers whose work encompassed both non-performance activites and religious rituals). There was a time when the KOTOKUI-reki Calendar was utilized instead of the one created by the Onmyoryo of Kyoto since the Onmyoryo calendar fell out of favor as the political situation of the time grew unsteady.

Onmyo no kami (Director of the Onmyoryo), Yasushige TSUCHIMIKADO, the head of the Soke (head family) of the ABE clan, announced his resignation due to his disappointment in repeated mistakes in policy
However, the Kadenokoji family, the soke of the KAMO clan, which rivaled the ABE clan in Onmyodo, had died out. Subsequently, the ninth head of the KOTOKUI family, Tomokage KOTOKUI became the Onmyo no kami in 1618. Since then, Tomotane KOTOKUI and Tomosuke KOTOKUI, of the KOTOKUI family were successively chosen as Onmyo no kami; however, Shigenori later regretted his decision, and tried to regain the position from the KOTOKUI's. However, Shigenori could not regain his credibility, and thus, the TSUCHIMIKADO family (the ABE clan) fell on hard times.

In 1670, Yasutomi TSUCHIMIKADO insisted on not only acquiring the position of Onmyo no kami, but also the right to rule the Onmyoji and the Shomonji throughout Japan. He challenged Tomosuke KOTOKUI for those demands. Tomosuke, backed by the Kofuku-ji Temple, resisted the challenge; however, he suddenly died at the age of 35 in 1682. Yasutomi TSUCHIMIKADO was appointed to succeed the Onmyo no kami since the successor, Tomonobu KOTOKUI was still an infant. The following year, Yasutomi was given the authority to control and license the Onmyoji throughout various districts. Furthermore, Yasutomi TSUCHIMIKADO confiscated the right to contol the Nanto Onmyoji from the KOTOKUI family.
Moreover, he pressured Tomonobu KOTOKUI to swear the KOTOKUI family's allegence to the TSUCHIMIKADO family, and to recognize the TSUCHIMIKADO family solely as the Soke of the Onmyodo,
Since then, as Onmyo no suke under the TSUCHIMIKADO family, the KOTOKUI family managed only the Rekichu (the annotation for the calendar) (although there was an exception when Yasukiyo KOTOKUI was appointed to Onmyo no kami in 1754 due to disturbance within the TSUCHIMIKADO family). However, even with their powerful influence, the TSUCHIMIKADO family was not able to interfere with the relationship between the KOTOKUI family and Nanto shrines like the Kofuku-ji Temple; therefore, the KOTOKUI family continued to oversee the Nichiji Kanjin (a way of divining something according to the time and day) to the Nanto shrines and temples among other tasks.

Once six members of the KOTOKUI family achieved the status of the Kugyo (a court noble), they petitioned for the status of peerage after the Meiji Restoration; however, their petition was denied by the Meiji government
There is a theory that Shusui KOTOKU, a socialist during the Meiji Period, was a descendant from a branch of the KOTOKUI family.

[Original Japanese]