Fujiwara no Akimitsu (藤原顕光)

FUJIWARA no Akimitsu (944-July 13, 1021) was a court noble during the Heian period. His father was FUJIWARA no Kanemichi. His mother was a daughter of Imperial Prince Motohira. His siblings included FUJIWARA no Asamitsu [Asateru] and FUJIWARA no Koshi, and his children included FUJIWARA no Shigeie, who was Sakone no shosho (Minor Captain of the Left Division of Inner Palace Guards), FUJIWARA no Genshi [Motoko] and FUJIWARA no Enshi [Nobuko]. He was also known as Horikawa no Sadaijin.

When his father, Kanemichi, became kanpaku (chief advisor to Emperor), he was promoted to court noble; however, when Kanemichi died, Kanemichi's younger brother, FUJIWARA no Kaneie, became the head of the family. When Kaneie's son, FUJIWARA no Michinaga, was appointed sadaijin (minister of the left), Akimitsu, being his cousin, was appointed udaijin (minister of the right). The real power was held by Michinaga, and Akimitsu was notorious as an incompetent noble who repeatedly made blunders in Imperial Court ceremonies, and who was laughed at by the public. He sent his daughter Genshi to marry Emperor Ichijo; however, she miscarried during her pregnancy. His second daughter Enshi married Imperial Prince Atsuakira, the son of Emperor Goichijo: however, he decided not be named Crown Prince, and left Enshi to be with Michinaga's daughter. In his late years, he was promoted to sadaijin, but died disappointed with his career. Later he was feared to be an 'Akuryo-safu' (a safu (sadaijin) with evil spirits) haunting the Michinaga's family.

He was born the son of Kanemichi, who was the second son of FUJIWARA no Morosuke, who held great power as udaijin in the Imperial Court of Emperor Murakami. He was awarded Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade) in 961.

The Morosuke family line (Kujo Line) was related to the Imperial family and had strong ties with the Imperial Court. Two sons born to Morosuke's daughter, Chugu (the Empress) FUJIWARA no Anshi [Yasuiko, Yasuko], became Emperor Reizei and Emperor Enyu, holding power in the government, and his eldest son FUJIWARA no Koretada [Koremasa] became Sessho (regent) in 970, though he died two years later. There was a feud between the second and third sons, Kanemichi and Kaneie, and the older one, Kanemichi was proclaimed the next Kanpaku.

When his father became Kanpaku in 975, Akimitsu was also promoted to Sangi (Royal Advisor) and joined the noble court. In 977, he smoothly moved up to the position of Gon Chunagon (a provisional vice-councilor of state). However, in the same year, Kanemichi became ill and died.

Soon political power shifted to Kaneie, and promotion of Kanemichi's son Akimitsu was put aside and he was quickly bypassed in favor of Kaneie's children (FUJIWARA no Michitaka, FUJIWARA no Michikane and FUJIWARA no Michinaga). When Kaneie died in 990, Michitaka became Kanpaku. Akimitsu's younger brother, Asamitsu, was a free-wheeling genius and was a good friend of Michitaka, and while Akimitsu was only a Chunagon (vice-councilor of state), Asamitsu had been promoted to Dainagon (chief councilor of state).

In 995, an epidemic spread through the court and Asamitsu fell victim to it. Kanpaku Michitaka, died too, from heavy drinking. Michitaka's younger brother took over the post of Kanpaku, only to die from illness just a few days later. The epidemic caused many vacancies in the court and Akimitsu was promoted to Gon Dainagon (provisional chief councilor of state).

A Senji (imperial decree) from the palace ordering a successor to the post started a feud between udaijin Michinaga and naidaijin (minister of the center) FUJIWARA no Korechika (Michitaka's son). In 996, FUJIWARA no Korechika and his younger brother, FUJIWARA no Tokaie, attempted to assassinate Emperor Kazan and lost their power. Michinaga was moved up to sadaijin, and his cousin, Akimitsu was appointed to udaijin. Officially, Akimitsu's post was at the second highest position, yet the power remained fully with Michinaga. Furthermore, Akimitsu was known to be incompetent. FUJIWARA no Sanesuke, a scholarly individual who was knowledgeable in Yosoku kojitsu (usages and practices of court and military households (practices)) and ceremonial practices, bitterly criticized Akimitsu stating that, 'Since serving the imperial court, he has been laughed at by everyone,' in his diary "Shoyuki" (the diary of FUJIWARA no Sanesuke).

In the same year, Akimitsu sent his daughter Genshi to the court as Nyogo (imperial consort) to Emperor Ichijo. Empress, FUJIWARA no Teishi [Sadako], was the younger sister of Korechika, whose authority had been rescinded and Michinaga's daughter was too young to enter the court. Should Genshi give birth to the first imperial prince, Akimitsu would become the grandfather of the future Emperor. Genshi did become pregnant in the following year, 997. Genshi returned to her home, Horikawa-tei, to prepare for delivery, and Akimitsu gathered priests to pray for the birth of a healthy son. Genshi, however, went past her due date, and Akimitsu took her to a temple to pray for a smooth delivery; however, when she finally went into labor, her water broke but the baby did not come out. This incident was mocked by the public.
("Eiga monogatari" (A Tale of Flowering Fortunes))

In 999, Michinaga sent his eldest daughter FUJIWARA no Shoshi [Akiko] to the court as Nyogo. In 1000, Michinaga had Shoshi become Chugu, one of the emperor's wives, placed Teishi as Empress. This was a very rare situation in which an emperor was forced by Michinaga to accept two empresses. Shoshi was too young, and there was more chance for Genshi to give birth to an Imperial Prince; however, Genshi was not able to have any more children. Finally, in 1008, Shoshi gave birth to Imperial Prince Atsuhira (future Emperor Goichijo) and Imperial Prince Atsunaga (future Emperor Gosuzaku). With this, Michinaga's power strengthened, leaving Akimitsu with no hope of becoming related to the Imperial family.

In 1011, Emperor Ichijo died and Emperor Sanjo (Imperial Prince to Emperor Reizei) was enthroned. Imperial Prince Atsuhira, Shoshi's son, became Togu (Crowned Prince). Michinaga was uncle to Emperor Sanjo on his mother's side, which allowed him to maintain his ties; however, the two failed to get along well, which interfered with administration. At this time Emperor Sanjo looked for advice from the scholar, Dainagon FUJIWARA no Sanesuke, while udaijin Akimitsu favored sadaijin Michinaga.

At about this time, the widow Genshi fell in love with Sangi MINAMOTO no Yorisada. Akimitsu became furious and forcibly cut off Genshi's hair and made her join a nunnery.

In 1016, Emperor Sanjo was pressured into abdicating his thrown by Michinaga on account of an eye disease he had developed, and because Emperor Sanjo had been isolated in the Imperial Court, agreed to abdicate his thrown to Imperial Prince Atsuhira under the condition that his eldest son Imperial Prince Atsuakira become the Crown Prince. Michinaga accepted the proposal.

Imperial Prince Atsuakira was married to Akimitsu's daughter Enshi and they already had a child, meaning the possibility of becoming related to the imperial family opend up for Akimitsu. However, Akimitsu had already passed the age of 70. His son Shigeie had already joined the priesthood by this time.

Akimitsu volunteered to organize ceremony for strengthening of the guard at checkpoints related to the enthronement ceremony of Emperor Sanjo. Michinaga gently declined Akimitsu's offer because of Akimitsu's old age and incompetence; however, Akimitsu insisted on providing his service.
Akimitsu brought detailed notes for the ceremony; however, there were many mistakes and blunders during the ceremony, causing more mockery from the public, for which Sanesuke wrote in his "Shoyuki" that 'writing out all of his blunders will ruin the brush.'
Michinaga was furious with this and condemned Akimitsu in his diary as 'Fool of fools.'
During this period, ceremonies and rituals were considered very important, and Akimitsu's inability to perform them correctly was mocked as incompetent in noble society.

Imperial Prince Atsuhira was enthroned and became Emperor Goichijo. As promised, Imperial Prince Atsuakira became the Crown Prince; however, the Crown Prince was unrelated to Michinaga and his father-in-law was not reliable at all, putting him in a very unstable position.

In April 1017, Michinaga resigned the post of sadaijin and Akimitsu became sadaijin.

In June of the same year, the Retired Emperor Sanjo died, and three months later, in August, Imperial Prince Atsuakira offered to resign as Togu. To reciprocate Imperial Prince Atsuakira's offer, Michinaga awarded him with the title Koichijoin with the equivalent authority of the retired emperor and presented his daughter FUJIWARA no Kanshi [Hiroko]. Imperial Prince Atsuakira left his wife Enshi and young Imperial Prince Atsusada for Kanshi. Enshi was devastated and died from illness.

According to "Jikkinsho" (Miscellany of Ten Maxims), this incident caused Akimitsu's hair to go grey overnight, flaring his resentment for Michinaga and he had Doman ASHIYA, cast a spell on Michinaga.

The elderly Akimitsu continued his service as sadaijin for several more years. In 1021, Michinaga sent his daughter, FUJIWARA no Ishi [Takeko], to the Imperial court of Emperor Goichijo, and Akimitsu again made a blunder at the ceremony of her official enthronement as Empress, to which he was denounced by Michinaga.

In 1021, Akimitsu died at the age of 78.

After Akimitsu's death, Kanshi, who stole Imperial Prince Atsuakira away from Enshi, died of illness. Then the wife of Crown Prince (Imperial Prince Atsunaga), died suddenly after giving birth to their child. FUJIWARA no Kenshi [Kiyoko], who was empress dowager to Emperor Sanjo also passed away. Successive deaths of Michinaga's daughters were feared to be a curse from Akimitsu and Enshi.
Because of this Akimitsu was called 'Akuryo-safu.'

[Original Japanese]