Eikoin (永光院)

Eikoin (1624 - November 20, 1711) was a woman in the Edo period who was a concubine of Iemitsu TOKUGAWA, the third seii taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians") of the Edo bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun). She was a daughter of Arizumi ROKUJO, who was a noble. Ujitoyo TODA, who became a Koke (a noble ranking below a daimyo in Japan during the Edo period) and served the bakufu, was her younger brother. Her name was Oman. Her real family name was Minamoto and real personal name Mitsuko. Her mother was a daughter of Tameharu TODA, who was a hatamoto (direct retainer of the shogun) and her adopted father was Ujikane TODA, who was the Lord of Ogaki domain.


Originally, she was the Inju (chief of temple) of Keiko-in Temple in Ise Province and, when she had an audience with Iemitsu in 1639, Iemitsu fell in love with her and she was called by Kasuga no tsubone to enter ooku (the inner halls of Edo-jo Castle where the wife and concubine of the Shogun and their female servants reside). After exclaustration, she changed her name to Oman no kata and became a concubine of Iemitsu. Until her hair grew longer, she was forced to stay in the residence of the Tayasu family. Although she won Iemitsu's favor, she never gave birth to any child. In the Tokugawa Shogun family, it became convention since the third shogun, Iemitsu, to obtain midaidokoro (shogun's legitimate wife) from Gosekke (five top Fujiwara families whose members were eligible for the positions of Sessho and Kanpaku) or Miyake (families allowed to be in status of Imperial family); no Midaidokoro from Gosekke or Miyake became the real mother of the next shogun. Other than that, also, ooku exerted control so that no shogun having any member of the Imperial family or noble family as a maternal relative would appear. Oman no kata, a concubine whose father had the position of mere Sangi (councilor), could not be an exception and there is a popular belief that she was given abortive medicine every time she became pregnant or was forced to take contraceptive. However, as Iemitsu favored her, she was given special treatment and she was treated as an ojoro (maid with the highest rank in ooku).

After Kasuga no tsubone's death, she was ordered by Iemitsu to control internal affairs in ooku 'same as Kasuga' and she became the ruler of ooku as the successor of Kasuga no tsubone.

Although it is told that, after Iemitsu died on June 8, 1651, different from other concubines, she did no tonsure and changed her name to 'Oume no tsubone' and worked again as Ojoro, little is known about her actual career after that. There is a view that the person named Oume no tsubone is a different person to Oman no kata.

On the occasion of Furisode kaji (Meireki no taika (the Great Fire in Meireki)) that occurred on March 2, 1657, the Honmaru (the keeper of a castle) of Edo-jo Castle was burnt down and she evacuated to Muryo-in Temple in Koishikawa together with Iemitsu's legitimate wife, Naka no maru (Takako TAKATSUKASA); it seems that she was in ooku at least until this time. On November 20, 1711, she died at the age of 88.

Her family temple is Muryo-in Temple in Koishikawa, Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo.

Iemitsu called her younger brother, Uemon Ujitoyo ROKUJO, and appointed him to a koke (privileged family under Tokugawa Shogunate) and ranked at Jushiinoge (Junior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade) Jiju (chamberlain) Tosa no kami (Provincial Governor of Tosa), and gave him the name of maternal family, Toda and chigyo (enfiefment) of one thousand koku. Later, another one thousand koku was given.


Because of the influences of TV dramas and novels, we have an image of her as a lady having both wit and beauty as well as good nature. In reality, she was the ruler of ooku in the latter half of Iemitsu's era and, reportedly, she reported to the shogun failure of officials when building a new palace in all particular and she held a sarugaku (Noh) performance in ooku over opposition of officers of the bakufu.
Therefore, it is told that officials of the bakufu were afraid of her, calling her 'the second Kasuga no tsubone.'

Reportedly, Eikoin changed internal affairs of ooku that had been established by Kasuga no tsubone after the simple and sturdy spirit of the samurai into the ornate and luxurious way of court nobles in Kyoto.

There is a view that a person who pulled wires behind Eikoin was Soshinni, who was a niece of Kasuga no tsubone.

[Original Japanese]