Kakimon-in (嘉喜門院)

Kakimon-in (dates of birth and death unknown) was Nyoin (a title of respect given to close female relatives of the Emperor) and a female waka poet in the period of the Northern and Southern Courts (Japan). She was the nyogo (a court title given to a consort of the Emperor) of Emperor Gomurakami, and seems to have given birth to both Emperor Chokei and Emperor Gokameyama, or at least one of them. After Emperor Gomurakami passed away in 1368, she retired into priesthood and was given a title of nyoin. Her real name has been generally considered Shoshi since a genealogy was made in the Edo period, but there is no evidence to prove it. Also there are various opinions about her origins, but they are not reliable. She was known as a good biwa (a Japanese lute) player.


Her father is generally considered Tsunetada KONOE, but there are a few more possible fathers like Sanetame ANO, Tsunemichi ICHIJO, Moromoto NIJO, and Tsunetada BOMON (or Kiyotada BOMON?). It is a dominant view that Moromoto NIJO was not her real father but adopted her when she became the nyogo of Emperor Gomurakami. All of them were from the Fujiwara clan, and leading figures in the Southern Court (in Japan) except Tsunemichi ICHIJO. Tsunemichi ICHIJO belonged to the Northern Court (in Japan), but his eldest son Uchitsugu ICHIJO served the Southern Court.

"Dainihonshi" (Great History of Japan) vol. 85 (Biographies of Consorts vol. 12) said that a poem on the given theme of 'the moon seen from the Imperial court' was composed by a person called 'Fukuonji former Chancellor Inner Minister' when Kakimon-in became the nyogo, and it was collected in "Shinyo Wakashu" (Collection of New Leaves) vol.16 (Miscellaneous 1). The poem was interpreted as an expectation for Kakimon-in's being raised to the Empress (an Imperial consort), so the history book made a supposition that the person who made the poem was Kakimon-in's father, but it also said that it was not certain who the person was. According to "Keizu Sanyo" (a collection of genealogies), Tsuneie KONOE, a son of Tadatsune KONOE, was the 'Fukuonji Chancellor' and also Kakimon-in's real father. The section of Emperors in "Kojiruien" (an encyclopedia of ancient literature) also says that Tsuneie KONOE was her father. However, the view that Tsuneie KONOE was her father seems not to exist today.

Based on a snip of paper pasted to a page of the Fukiage bon of "Teio Keizu" (Genealogical Table of Emperor), the entry of 'Emperor Gokameyama' in "Kokushi Daijiten" (Great Dictionary of National History) says that probably the Emperor's real mother was a daughter of Sanetame ANO, suggesting that the woman might have not been the Kakimon-in. According to the opening lines of "Kakimon-in shu" (Kakimon-in Collection), which explained how the collection was compiled, we can tell that a close relationship existed between Kakimon-in and Sanetame ANO.

As a poet

Poems composed by Kakimon-in can be seen in "Shinyo Wakashu" and "Kakimon-in shu." The 22 poems collected in "Shinyo Wakashu" were selected from "Kakimon-in shu": 17 poems from Kakimon-in shu and 5 exchanged poems with Kakimon-in.

The style of her poems was the Nijo style and most of them were tinged with sadness. Imperial Prince Munenaga, an anthologist of "Shinyo Wakashu" commented that an exchanged poem with Emperor Chokei, which was composed to reminisce about late Emperor Gomurakami, was especially excellent.

Kakimon-in shu

"Kakimon-in shu" is Shikashu (a private poetry collection) which was compiled when Kakimon-in was asked to submit a list of her poems on August 25, 1377 by Imperial Prince Munenaga because he wanted to select poems for "Shinyo Wakashu." Sanetame ANO made a fair copy, and handed it to Imperial Prince Munenaga.

It is roughly divided into three sections. The first section is called 'sodegaki' (side notes), in which there is an explanation how this collection came into existence, and 2 exchanged poems between Kakimon-in and Sanetame ANO, and 2 poems composed by 'uchino onkata' (Emperor Chokei) were collected. The second section is a main part, which contains 102 poems in total. Of them, there are 14 exchanged poems, so the poems made by Kakimon-in herself were 88, and 14 poems composed by others were collected together. It is conjectured that these poems were the ones submitted to Imperial Prince Munenaga, and there is an answer from him after these poems. Imperial Prince Munenaga's comment mentioned above was collected here too. The last section is called 'Thirty Poems for Singing' and contains 30 poems. These 30 poems had been considered poems made by other people for Kakimon-in to practice composing poems, but now the view that these poems were composed by Kakimon-in is dominant.


According to some genealogies, the following people are considered Kakimon-in's children: Emperor Chokei (Imperial Prince Yutanari), Emperor Gokameyama (Imperial Prince Hironari), Imperial Prince Yasunari, and Imperial Princess Ryoshi/Nagako.

The view that Kakimon-in was Emperor's real mother is mostly based on the interpretations of waka poem and foreword collected in "Shinyo Wakashu" and "Kakimon-in shu." From the Edo to Meiji period, it had been a dominant view that the word 'uchino onkata' (means the present Emperor) which appeared in the collections of poetry referred to Emperor Gokameyama, so the genealogies and history books written around this time said that Emperor Gokameyama's real mother was Kakimon-in. As to the matter whether Emperor Chokei and Emperor Gokameyama were brothers, there is no evidence to prove it and most people denied it, however there are some scholars like Hokiichi HANAWA who claimed that these Emperors were brothers from early on (according to HANAWA, Emperor Gokameyama was an older brother and Emperor Chokei was a younger brother). Later, research on Emperor Chokei's succession to the throne made progress, and the opinion that the Emperor appeared in the both collections of poetry did not indicate Emperor Gokameyama but Emperor Chokei became dominant, which encouraged people to make genealogies and history books saying that Emperor Chokei's real mother was Kakimon-in. And conventional materials which said that Kakimon-in was a real mother of Emperor Gokameyama was put together with the new opinion that Emperor Chokei's real mother was Kakimon-in too, and now it is generally considered that both of them were Kakimon-in's sons. However there is no evidence so far to prove whether Emperor Gokameyama was really Kakimon-in's son or not.

[Original Japanese]