The Miyoshi clan (三善氏)

The Miyoshi is one of clans in Japan. This clan is descended from toraijin (people from overseas, especially from China and Korea, who settled in early Japan and introduced Continental culture to the Japanese) with two distinct lineages, one from Kudara (Baekje) and the other of Han race from China. Later these lineages became intertwined.

The Miyoshi clan of Kudara lineage

According to the "Shinsen Shojiroku" (Newly Compiled Register of Clan Names and Titles of Nobility), the Miyoshi clan was originally descended from King Sokgo in Kudara and had been named Nishikori no Obito, and later Nishigori no Muraji. Two of the consorts that Emperor Kanmu had between 782 and 806 were court ladies named NISHIGORI no Shikei and NISHIGORI no Teishi. Around the year of 806, the name of Miyoshi no Sukune (third highest of the eight hereditary titles) was bestowed on the family of these court ladies. In the era of the Emperor Daigo, Kiyoyuki (or Kiyotsura) MIYOSHI was appointed Daigaku no kami (Director of the Bureau of Education) and Monjo hakase (professor of literature), rising to the position of Sangi (councilor), and the kabane (official status title) of the clan was changed from Sukune to Ason (second highest of the eight hereditary titles) around 903. Kiyoyuki's sons include a Monjo hakase Fumie MIYOSHI, a Shikibu-sho (the Ministry of Ceremonies) official Fumiaki MIYOSHI, and the priests Jozo and Nichizo; and Fumiaki's son Michimune MIYOSHI who was also a Monjo hakase, was the last Miyoshi who left his mark in the history.

The Miyoshi clan of the Han lineage

According to the "Ruiju Fusensho" (a collection of official documents dating from the years 737 to 1093), the founder of this lineage of the Miyoshi was a descendant of Hanoshi, who was himself a descendant of Prince of Donghai in Han, named Nishikori no Muraobito (錦部村首) later as Nishiki no Sukune. Around the year of 977, the clan was given the surname of Miyoshi Ason, and among the members of the clan, Shigeaki MIYOSHI was appointed as Shuzeiryo (a position in Bureau of Taxation) in addition to Sanhakase (a position with responsibility for teaching mathematics and looking after mathematicians), the position that his descendants inherited for generations. Shigeki's grandson Tamenaga MIYOSHI adopted Tameyasu IMIZU, a student from Etchu Province (present-day Toyama Prefecture). Tameyasu MIYOSHI left a number of important works as a scholar of Sando (mathematics) and Kidendo (history). Tameyasu's descendant Nagahira MIYOSHI served as Keishi (household superintendent) for the Saionji family and it became a hereditary position. The Imanokoji family of government officials ranked as Jige-ke (non-noble retainers who are not allowed into the Emperor's living quarters in the imperial palace) is believed to be the descendents of Nagahira.

This lineage of the Miyoshi clan also included Yasunobu MIYOSHI, the first head of Monchujo (Board of Inquiry) of the Kamakura bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun), and his descendants include the Machino, Ota, Iio and Fuse clans. These clans actively played roles of Hikitsukeshu (Coadjutors of the High Court) in the Kamakura bakufu and Bugyoshu (groups of magistrates) in the Muromachi bakufu.


There are two Miyoshi clan lineages, and historical sources clearly indicate that the lineage that inherited Kidendo (history) and the other that inherited Sando (mathematics) were distinct from each other. However, descendants of the latter tried to claim that they inherited their academic legacies from Kiyoyuki MIYOSHI, a famous scholar and Kugyo (the top court officials), to add prestige to their origin. They fabricated family trees (such as 'the family tree of the South family' in the "Shoka keizusan" (the genealogies of the various families)) depicting that Ryosuke NISHIKI (Nishiki no Sukune), who became Sadaishi (senior recorder of junior fifth rank) in the next generation of Kiyoyuki, as Kiyoyuki's son under the name of Nishikori no Obito (an original family name of the Miyoshi clan) who later received the title of Nishiki no Sukune; and Ryosuke's son Tsurayuki NISHIKI as the father of Shigeaki MIYOSHI. It is uncertain, however, whether Tsurayuki NISHIKI really existed, and whether Ryosuke NISHIKI, who did exist, was related to Kiyoyuki MIYOSHI and Shigeaki MIYOSHI (and it is certainly not true to state that Shigeaki was a great-grandson of Kiyoyuki as depicted in the family line of 'Kiyoyuki MIYOSHI - Ryosuke NISHIKI - Tsurayuki NISHIKI - Shigeaki MIYOSHI'). Although it is highly plausible that Yasunobu MIYOSHI was a relative of Tameyasu, little details are known about Yasumitsu (Yasuhisa) MIYOSHI who was depicted on the family tree as a son of Tameyasu and the father of Yasunobu; therefore, the nature of the relationship between Tameyasu and Yasunobu is uncertain.

[Original Japanese]