Kao no Goso (嘉応の強訴)

Kao no goso refers a direct petition by Enryaku-ji Temple's daishu (residing monks) demanding the proprietor of the Owari Province FUJIWARA no Narichika into exile on January 18, 1170. Although Emperor Goshirakawa protected Narichika, an uncooperative attitude of upper nobles and the Taira clan entangled the situation. It was the first incident where the confrontation of the political lines between Goshirakawa and the Taira clan became an issue.


The influential temples and shrines holding their own military force had repeatedly conflicted and disputed with statesmen. Such direct petitions had rapidly increased during the Cloister-government period. In this period, temples and shrines had prospered as a lord of a manor and had caused disputes with kokushi (provincial governors). Especially, Nanto Kofuku-ji Temple and Enryaku-ji Temple on Mt. Hiei, which were praised as "Nanto-Hokurei" (the South capital and the North mountain), were frequenters of the direct petition; Jinin of Kasuga and Hiyoshi, which were under jurisdiction of the temples, entered Kyoto, serving their mikoshi (portable shrine carried in festivals), and urged the Imperial Court to dismiss or exile Kokushi.

On the other hand, the Imperial Court tried to organize the upper-ranked Buddhist monks through the promotion to Soi (rank of Buddhist priests) and Sokan (official positions given to Buddhist priests by the Imperial Court) to strengthen their control over the religious world. The 'Hogen shinsei' (new law issued in the Hogen period) of October, 1156 was the compilation, which prohibited violent-conduct of temples and shrines and regulated shoen (manor in medieval Japan). The law aimed to subordinate the power of temples and shrines into the national polity. However, such plans to regulate temples and shrines revolted religious communities; internal conflicts occurred frequently within the temples and shrines. Moreover, the emperor's arbitrary appointment of Sogo (Office of Monastic Affairs) also aggravated the contention and feud among temples.

Within the Tendai-shu sect, confrontation between Enryaku-ji Temple (Sanmon school) and Enjo-ji Temple (Jimon school) had continued. Because Goshirakawa came to Enjo-ji Temple, became a patron and showed a conspicuous attitude with favorable treatment, the discontents were whirling at Enryaku-ji Temple. It is thought that Goshirakawa backed up Enjo-ji Temple not only because of his faith, but also because he intended to divert Enryaku-ji Temple, which held extreme power. Kokushi of In no Kinshin (the Retired Emperor's courtier) had been busy with filing private estates of Enryaku-ji Temple and had constant conflict with jinin (associates of Shinto shrines) throughout the country. Enryaku-ji Temple was especially influential in Mino Province, and it had been a touch-and-go situation.

Intrusion into dairi (Imperial Palace)

In December, Uemon no jo (the third ranked official of the Right Division of Outer Palace Guards) FUJIWARA no Masatomo, who was a mokudai (deputy kokushi, or a deputy provincial governor) of Owari no kami (the governor of Owari Province) FUJIWARA no Ienori (younger brother of jinin of FUJIWARA no Narichika) insulted Hiranosho, territories of Enryaku-ji Temple in Mino Province. Although it was a minor affair, Enryaku-ji Temple reacted quickly. On January 12th, Deputy Chief of the Board of Retainers of Enryaku-ji Temple and Deputy Chief of the Board of Retainers of Hiyoshi-sha Shrine appealed to exile Kokushu (kokushu daimyo, a rank of territorial load during the Edo period) of the enfeoffment of the Owari Province FUJIWARA no Narichika and imprison Mokudai Masatomo (according to "Heihanki" (Diary of TAIRA no Nobunori)). Narichika served as Gon Chunagon (a provisional vice-councilor of state) at the tender age of thirty-two and was a central figure of In no Kinshin (the Retired Emperor's courtier). After the Imperial-Court refused the appeal and sent back the envoy, the movement of daishu of Enryaku-ji Temple intensified. By the evening of January 17th, they came down from the mountain, gathered in the Kyogoku-ji temple, and got ready for a direct petition.

Rakuchu (inside the capital Kyoto) was startled by the news. Goshirakawa summoned kugyo (top court officials) to Hojuji-dono Palace to discuss measures and gave mobilization orders to kebiishi (police and judicial chief) to increase security. TAIRA no Shigemori commanded 200 horsemen, the TAIRA no Munemori commanded 130 horsemen, and TAIRA no Yorimori commanded 150 horsemen. The situation was 'they were like the clouds and haze in number' (quoted from "Heihanki") and 'there were warriors all over the place' (quoted from "Gyokuyo").

Meanwhile, contrary to expectations, daishu headed to the dairi. They raised an uproar in front of the Taiken-mon Gate and the Yomei-mon Gate, shouldering eight mikoshis. Emperor Takakura, Sessho (regent) MATSUDONO no Motofusa, and Myoun of Tendai-zasu (head priest of the Tendai sect) were in the dairi. Although Shumei-mon gate was guarded by TAIRA no Tsunemasa and MINAMOTO no Shigesada, Taiken-mon Gate was guarded by TAIRA no Tsunemori, and Kenshun-mon Gate was guarded by MINAMOTO no Yorimasa, they were under strength. When the daishu intruded into the dairi, they placed the mikoshi at Kenrei-mon Gate and Kenshun-mon Gate and raised morale.

Goshirakawa sent Kurodo no to (Head Chamberlain) TAIRA no Nobunori and Kurodo (Chamberlain) Tsunefusa YOSHIDA to the dairi.
The message was conveyed and repeated: 'It is unfair to gather at the dairi to frighten a young sovereign; Goshirakawa will listen to the claim if you come to In-no-gosho (the retired Emperor's court).'
However, the daishu insisted, 'even if he is young, it is right to come to the dairi to appeal to the Emperor and hear a chokujo (something that the emperor decided) according to precedent and established practice' and ignored Myoun's persuasion.

After the proposal of Kebiishi no betto (Superintendent of the Imperial Police) TAIRA no Tokitada, 'if the claim is accepted, accept it promptly, otherwise send samurai to expel the daishu,' Kugyo-gijo (meeting to form decisions by nobles) was held in the Hojuji-dono Palace at night.
Naidaijin (minister of the center) MINAMOTO no Masamichi showed unwillingness saying 'If samurai were sent, the mikoshi may be destroyed;' Shigemori who commanded the samurai also refused Goshirakawa's dispatch order three times saying 'I will dispatch them tomorrow morning.'
Goshirakawa gave up trying to suppress the direct petition by force and tried to settle the situation by allowing only dismissal and detention of Masatomo. However, the daishu were strictly demanding Narichika's exile. They sent back Myoun and Sogo (Office of Monastic Affairs), who were envoys, and dispersed leaving the mikoshi behind.

On January 19th, Goshirakawa reluctantly allowed Narichika's dismissal and exile to Bicchu Province as well as the detention of Masatomo. The daishu delightfully withdrew mikoshi and returned to the mountain. Kanezane KUJO severely criticized 'this is not what Imperial Court government is supposed to do' to accept a demand soon after the daishu came despite the original policy that disallow any demand. Moreover, he criticized 'although there are, it is same as nothing' for not sending samurai who had been summoned.

Decision turnaround

On January 22nd, when the disturbance seemed settled, Goshirakawa suddenly removed Myoun from his post, gojiso (priest who guards the emperor) of Emperor Takakura for 'Not having controlled the daishu, but having backed them up.'
On January 23rd, the decision was reversed. Narichika was recalled and, TAIRA no Tokitada and TAIRA no Nobunori, who were in charge of the case, were dismissed and exiled for 'reporting untrue to the Emperor' ('Hyakuren sho - History book from the Kamakura period).
FUJIWARA no Kanezane was stunned by an unexpected turn of events and said, 'it is an act of the evil spirit.'

On January 25th, Narichika was reappointed to Gon Chunagon. On January 30, 1170, he took the post of Kebiishi no betto from TAIRA no Tokitada. The incident shocked everyone around: 'it startled eyes and ears; it was unprecedented' ("Gyokuyo" article of January six (old lunar calendar)). Enryaku-ji Temple could not sit still for the measure. On the February 1 and 7, there was a rumor that daishu may go into Kyoto again, and Goshirakawa ordered kebiishi to guard Nishisakamoto. So the dispute between the cloistered government and Enryaku-ji Temple was reignited.

In Fukuhara, TAIRA no Kiyomori was anxious that the situation might worsen. He called Yorimori on the February 7 and Shigemori on the 8th to hear the situation and went up to Kyoto on the 11th. On the same day, Narichika insisted on his resignation as kebiishi no betto. On the 15th, 'uncountable numbers of' samurai gathered in Rokuhara. It had been a 'maelstrom and unrelieved' situation.

On the 16th, another Kugyo-gijo was held in the Hojuji-dono Palace to discuss the exile of Narichika and recall of Tokitada and Nobunori, demanded by Enryaku-ji Temple. However, no agreement had been reached, and the sogo appealed for disposition again on the 21st.
In response, although Goshirakawa accepted the demand, he stated, 'hereafter no action nor case shall not be allowed.'
This made the sogo leave without a word ("Gyokuyo" article of January thirty). On February 25, an intention approving both exile of Narichika and recall of Tokitada and Nobunori was conveyed to the Enryaku-ji Temple.
However, FUJIWARA no Kunitsuna visited the residence of FUJIWARA no Kanezane on the 28th and conveyed that the 'imperial proclamation of Narichika's exile is not issued yet; the decision may be changed again.'
On March 2, the imperial proclamation of Narichika's dismissal and recall of Tokitada and Nobunori was finally issued; the tumult came to an end.

The primary factor of the disorder

Although Goshirakawa attempted to control Enryaku-ji Temple with a firm attitude to the direct petition, the situation strayed due to the discordance within the administration. Myoun of Tendai-zasu quickly gave up trying to persuade the daishu. At the Kugyo-gijo, the majority was reluctant to dispatch samurai. Above all, the biggest factor was that the Taira clan had refused to suppress the direct petition. Since Myoun served as kaishi (the priest who imparts the Buddhist commandments) at Kiyomori's ordination into priesthood, the Taira clan had an amicable relation with the Enryaku-ji Temple.

That samurai refuse to dispatch for defence against the direct petition was a phenomenon that was not seen before in the Shirakawa and Toba-in periods,
As result, the power of the Taira clan had been reacknowledged while the vulnerability of Goshirakawa Cloistered government had been exposed. It is thought that Goshirakawa persisted to protect Narichika because he was also aware of his own weakness.

Goshirakawa 'accomplished what he had decided to do by all means even if his people tried to stop him' ("Gyokuyo" article of March 16, 1184); he consistently stuck to his intention against the direct petition. The exile ended up unsettled, and the removal was a mere formality. On May 15, Narichika had already returned to Gon Chunagon, Uhyoe no kami (Captain of the Right Division of Middle Palace Guards) and Kebiishi no betto. It was a huge disgrace for Enryaku-ji Temple that nothing was achieved by the direct petition. Enryaku-ji Temple had not forgotten this grudge. That was obvious as the daishu bothered to send an envoy to show gratitude, 'It is gratifying that the enemy was caught' when Narichika was arrested at the Shishigatani plot in 1177 ('Gyokuyo' article of June 3, 1177).

The pattern (confrontation and dispute between the cloister government and Enryaku-ji Temple and the Taira clan who did not wish to attack Enryaku-ji-Temple) repeated on May 19, 1177 at a direct petition by the Enryaku-ji Temple's daishu demanding the exile of Kaga no kami FUJIWARA no Morotaka. This turned out to be a foreshadowing of the Shishigatani Incident.

[Original Japanese]