The Sanjo Family (三条家)

The Sanjo family (as written三條 in orthographic style) was a clan that directly descended from the Kan-in Line ofthe Northern House of the Fujiwara clan in Japan. Social standing of the Sanjo family was court noble/new nobility. The house status of the Sanjo family ranked as one of the Seiga families among the court nobles and duke among the new nobility. The family specialized in playing the flute and flower arrangement. The kamon (family crest) was the Karabishibana crest (Chinese rhombic flower) (also known as Sanjo Hanakaku or Sanjo-ke Hanakaku).

The Sanjo family produced thirty-nine Kugyo (top court officials) prior to the Meiji Restoration. The foregoing thirty-nine court nobles included five Daijo-daijin (Grand minister of state), eight Udaijin (minister of the right) and seven Ministers of the center. There were numerous branch families including the Ogimachisanjo family that was the house of minister and the Sanjonishi family.

During the days of Emperor Shirakawa and Emperor Toba, the Kan-in Line wielded their enormous power, effectively monopolizing the all positions as maternal relatives of the retired emperor and the emperor. The Sanjo family was founded by FUJIWARA no Saneyuki who was the second son of FUJIWARA no Kinzane of the main line of the Kan-in Line. Saneyuki also referred to himself as HACHIJO in addition to SANJO, but due to the fact that his son Kiminori SANJO and the direct descendants of his grandson Sanefusa SANJO had their residence in Takakura, north of Kyoto Sanjo, the family name SANJO became established.

The second generation family head Kiminori exercised his power as the conservator of the retired Emperor Toba. The third generation family head Sanefusa was well-known as the author of Gumaiki, being respected as the master of political operations and ceremonies of the Imperial Court. After Sanefusa, his oldest son Kinfusa SANJO succeeded the main branch of the family carrying the name of SANJO but as Kinuji OGIMACHISANJO, the third son of Sanefusa, also referred to himself as SANJO, they decided to refer to the main family branch as the Temborin Sanjo family and the Kinuji line as the Ogimachisanjo family to distinguish one from the other.

While staying with Yoshitaka OUCHI, Sengoku daimyo (Japanese territorial lord in the Sengoku period) in Yamaguchi, the family head Kinyori SANJO, involved in the rebellion of Harukata SUE, was killed. One of the sons of the Sanjonishi family, a branch of the Sanjo family, was subsequently adopted to succeed as the head of the latter family (and, thereafter, Kodo (incense appreciation) was introduced to the Sanjo family).

During the Edo Period, Karoku (hereditary stipend) of the family initially was approximately 269 koku which subsequently increased to 469 koku. The Sanjo family enjoyed their prominent status among the court nobles as one of the Seiga families, producing a number of ministers. The family, in addition, specialized in playing the flute and the procurement of costumes and clothing.

Between the end of the Edo Period and Meiji Era, the family produced Sanetsumu SANJO and his son Sanetomi SANJO who made a significant contribution to the Meiji Restoration. Sanetomi SANJO, in particular, played an active role in the government serving as Minister of the Right and Dajo Daijin that were equivalent of the Prime Minister of Japan in the days before that position became established.

As a general rule, the Seiga family was appointed as a marquis among the new nobility but, in recognition of the achievements made by Sanetomi SANJO, the Sanjo family was granted the title of duke, a rank higher than marquis.

[Original Japanese]