The Reizei family (冷泉家)

The Reizei family belonged to the court nobility. The family was an Urin family, which meant having the status of military officers at court, and would supply Konoe Chujo, the Lieutenant Generals of the Imperial Guard.
the Northern House of the Fujiwara clan


The Reizei family is a sideline of the Nijo branch of the Mikosa line descended from FUJIWARA no Nagaie, the son of FUJIWARA no Michinaga (not to be confused with the Nijo branch of the Five Sekke (Regent) family). The family originated with Tamesuke REIZEI (whose mother was Abutsuni, priestess Abutsu and the author of "Izayoi Nikki"), who was the son of FUJIWARA no Tameie (the son of FUJIWARA no Sadaie).

The family name derives from Reizei-koji Street, in Heian-kyo, Kyoto. The family businesses were Kado, the study of waka, and Kemari, the ancient Japanese football game. The family's style of waka does not stand out next to that of the Nijo family, the main house, or the Kyogoku school (different from the Kyogoku family of bushi).

The family split into two, the Kami Reizei family and the Shimo Reizei family, midway through the Northern and Southern Courts Period (of Japan).

Both of these distinguished families still exist today, the family now known as the Reizei family being the Kami Reizei family, whose residence has not been relocated since the Edo Period.

Because the residence of the Shimo Reizei family was located within Kyoto Gyoen (Kyoto Imperial Park), it was demolished when the town of the court nobility was made into a park. The Kami Reizei family had Urin family status in the Edo period, eventually reaching an official rank of Gon-no-Dainagon Mimbu-kyo, Junior Chief of the Councilor of State and Director of Popular Affairs Office.

Early period to the end of the Kamakura Period

Tamesuke REIZEI was close to the Kamakura bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) and came to be known as Fujigaya Komon for setting up a long-term home at Fujigayatsu in Kamakura. One of his daughters married Imperial Prince Hisaaki of the Kamakura bakufu (the son of the Emperor Gofukakusa of the Jimyoin line) and gave birth to Imperial Prince Hisayoshi.

The Shimo Reizei family from the period of the Northern and Southern Courts to the Edo Period

In the period of the Northern and Southern Courts, the family split into two families, the Kami Reizei family of Tameyuki REIZEI, the first son of Tamehiro REIZEI, and the Shimo Reizei family of Mochitame REIZEI, the second son of Temehiro REIZEI. Although Mochitame was not by right the head of the family, his ability was recognized by the Ashikaga clan and he was permitted to set up an independent family, separate from the Reizei family headed by his elder brother, but under the same Reizei name. The family land and documents were divided in half on this occasion. The Hosokawa estate made famous in "Izayoi Nikki" passed to the Shimo Reizei family.

Mochitame and Masatame SHIMO REIZEI were treated well by the Yoshimochi and Yoshimasa ASHIKAGA Shogunates, and were even granted the use of a character from the Shoguns' names. In this period, it was the Shimo Reizei family that was the main line of the Reizei family. In the Sengoku Period (Period of Warring States), the family moved away to the above-mentioned Hosokawa estate in Harima Province to prevent it being taken over by feudal lords. However, Tamezumi REIZEI and Tamekatsu SHIMO REIZEI were killed by the Bessho clan, who were the Shugo (Military Governor) Daimyo of the Akamatsu clan of Harima Province, and this led Tamemasa SHIMO REIZEI, Tamekatsu's the younger brother, to rebuild the Shimo Reizei family in Kyoto. Shuku REIZEI, the patriarch of Japanese Confucianism (and famous as Seika FUJIWARA, the neo-Confucianist), was Tamemasa SHIMO REIZEI's elder brother. While Shuku REIZEI did not have the opportunity to head the Shimo Reizei family himself, his son, Tamekage REIZEI, was adopted by Tememasa and went on to head the Reizei family and continue the bloodline. The Shimo Reizei family had maintained a close relationship with Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI from their time in Harima, and Hideyoshi actively cooperated in restoring their fortunes.

The Kami Reizei family from the Northern and Southern Courts Period to the Edo Period

The Kami Reizei family were also out of the capital in the period of the Warring States (Japan), moving to the provinces and into the care of the Hatakeyama clan, the Military Governors of Noto, and the Imagawa clan, the Military Governors of Suruga. In the era of Nobunaga ODA, the family returned to the capital, but in 1586, when Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI was appointed Kanpaku Dajodaijin (imperial regent and grand minister), was punished by Imperial order and sent back to the provinces. When Hideyoshi died in 1598, the family was able to return to the capital thanks to the intervention of Ieyasu TOKUGAWA. Hideyoshi had gathered residences of the court nobility in a town of court nobility near the Imperial Palace inhabited by Emperor, but the Kami Reizei family were unable to have a residence there because the town had already been fully established by the time they were forgiven and allowed to return. The current site of their residence, next to the old town of court nobility, was given to them by Ieyasu. The family was treated very well by the Tokugawa family, and, as is well known, became prosperous during the Edo Period. The family were also related to the Date clan in Sendai.

The Meiji Period and beyond

In the Meiji Period, the Kami Reizei family were awarded the title of count and the Shimo Reizei family were awarded the title of viscount. This difference in title was not due to any inferiority in terms of ancestry on the part of the Shimo Reizei family; rather, the murder of the family head by the Bessho clan and the loss of land in the period of Warring States subsequently affected their official rank in the Meiji Period. Many of the court nobility moved to Tokyo after the Meiji Emperor, but the Kami Reizei family remained in Kyoto in the residence they had lived in since the Edo Period. The residences in the town of court nobility, located in what is now Kyoto Gyoen, were all demolished on an order of relocation to Tokyo issued at the beginning of the Meiji Period, but the residence of the Kami Reizei family is said to have escaped demolition due to its location to the North of Imadegawa. The residence of the Shimo Reizei family, on the other hand, was located near what is now the Kyoto State Guest House inside Kyoto Gyoen, and was consequently demolished to make way for the park.

While Kyoto City was not directly attacked during the Pacific War, the Kami Reizei family lost Tameomi REIZEI (the twenty-second family head and first son of Tametsugi REIZEI), who died on the battlefield in China.

Tameto REIZEI, the twenty-fourth family head, established the Reizei Shigure-tei Library Foundation, and Tamehito REIZEI, who married Tameto's daughter and became the twenty-fifth (and current) head of the Kami Reizei family, is now the head director of this organization. Tamehito is a leading expert in modern Kyoto painters, and is currently a guest professor of Doshisha Women's College, having also held a chair at Otemae Women's University and served as the president of Ikenobo College. Tamehito was originally called Katsuhiko MATSUO but, on marrying Kimiko REIZEI, Tameto's daughter, changed his name through the family courts to become the twenty-fifth head of the Reizei family.
Madame Kimiko is the Secretary General in the same organization

Renshi (relatives of noble families)

The Irie family

The Irie family is one of the families directly descended from Sadaie FUJIWARA. The Irie family moved to Tokyo with the Emperor after the Restoration, and Tamemori IRIE became valet to the Emperor Taisho, holding the position of grand chamberlain of the Crown Prince, while Sukemasa IRIE became valet to the Emperor Showa, holding the position of grand chamberlain.

The Fujigayatsu family

The Fujigayatsu family was also a clan, but the family line ended with the death of the last head of the family in the Great Hanshin Earthquake. The family name originated with Tamesuke REIZEI, the founding member of the REIZEI family, who was close to the Kamakura bakufu and lived a long life at Fujigayatsu in Kamakura. Tamesuke REIZEI was also called Tamesuke FUJIGAYATSU.

Important Cultural Properties, the residence of the Reizei family

The residence of the Kami Reizei family is located at Karasuma Higashi-iru, Imadegawa-dori Street, Kyoto City, and has been designated an important cultural property. Built in 1790, the residence is the oldest residence of court nobility still in existence. Since most of the court nobility moved to Tokyo after the Emperor in the Meiji Period, their residences in what is now Kyoto Gyoen became vacant and were demolished to maintain security. However, because the Kami Reizei family had Gobunko, a library at one time locked with Chokufu, the imperial seal, and located outside Kyoto Gyoen, their residence escaped demolition. It is a happy accident of Japanese cultural history that the Kami Reizei family which holds Gobunko remained in Kyoto in Kansai, keeping these great treasures safe from the Great Kanto Earthquake and the bombing of Tokyo.

Other remaining court nobility residences in and around Kyoto Gyoen

Nijo-jo Castle - One residence formerly located in Kyoto Gyoen was moved and rebuilt in the grounds of Nijo-jo Castle, leaving only a wall and gate in the original location.

Kanin-gu - The only residence of the court nobility left inside Kyoto Gyoen.

[Original Japanese]