Fujiwara no Arikuni (藤原有国)

FUJIWARA no Arikuni (943 - August 18, 1011) was a Court noble in the mid Heian period. His original name was Arikuni (在国). His azana (nickname) was Fujikata. He was the fourth son of FUJIWARA no Sukemichi, the Dazai no Daini (Senior Assistant Governor-General of Kyushu). He reached the rank of Junii (Junior Second Rank) and the position of Sangi (councilor). He also used the name Hitsunosaisho.


He was one of FUJIWARA no Manatsu's descendants (the later Hino line). He wandered from place to place with his father, who was the Zuryo (head of the provincial governors), but he later became a monjosho (student of literature at the Imperial University), studying under SUGAWARA no Fumitoki. Later, he organized the Kangaku-e (Society for the Advancement of Learning) along with YOSHISHIGE no Yasutane, TAIRA no Korenaka, FUJIWARA no Koreshige and others. In 967, he became a low-level functionary in the Crown Prince's Quarters and continued to serve Imperial Crown Prince Norihiro (later Emperor Reizei) even after his abdication. Then he was taken under FUJIWARA no Kaneie's wing, later becoming his keishi (household superintendent). In 977, he was awarded the rank of Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank), and the following year he became Kami (Governor) of Iwami Province, then Kokushu (Lord) of Echigo Province in 984.

After FUJIWARA no Yasuie became the regent, he was recalled and made Sashoben (Minor Controller of the Left) and Kurodo (Chamberlain) in 986. The following year he became Uchuben (Middle Controller of the Right) but offered the position to TAIRA no Korenaka and transferred to Sachuben (Middle Controller of the Left).
It was around this time that Kaneie described Arikuni and Korenaka as the 'left eye and right eye.'
In 989, he became Udaiben (Major Controller of the Right) with the rank of Shoshiinoge (Junior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade) and also took the additional position of Kageyu no Kami (Chief Investigator of the record of outgoing officials). In June 990, he became Kurodo no To (Head Chamberlain).

At that time, worrying about his successor, FUJIWARA no Kaneie invited FUJIWARA no Arikuni and TAIRA no Korenaka to ask for their opinions. Korenaka recommended Kaneie's son, FUJIWARA no Michitaka, but Arikuni recommended his second son, Michikane, pointing out that Michikane had contributed to the dethroning of Emperor Kazan and the subsequent enthronement of Emperor Ichijo and Kaneie's assumption of the position of regent. Shortly afterward, before dying of illness, Kaneie chose Michitaka as his successor ("Godansho" (the Oe Conversations with anecdotes and gossips)). When he found out what had happened, Michitaka deeply resented Arikuni and in August of that year he awarded Arikuni the rank of Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank), forcing him to resign from the key position of Kurodo no to (Head chamberlain) after only three months. The following year, he was expelled on suspicion of murdering HATA no Aritoki and was forced out of the Imperial Court. The following year, he was allowed to return but remained as a non-councillor Kageyu no Kami for several years.

Coming to power after the deaths of Michitaka and Michikane, FUJIWARA no Michinaga appointed Arikuni Dazai no Daini in order to expand trade with the Song Dynasty of China and to implement the policy of rebuilding Saikaido (ancient name of Kyushu). After that, Arikuni acted as Michinaga's keishi. At that time, the Dazai no Sochi (Governor-General of Kyushu), Imperial Prince Atsumichi, remained in the capital so control of the Kyushu region was left entirely to Arikuni. The following year, 996, Naidaijin (minister) FUJIWARA no Korechika, the legitimate son of Michitaka, was demoted to Dazai Gon no Sochi (Provisional Governor-General of Kyushu) as a result of the Chotoku Incident, in which he allegedly shot an arrow at Cloistered Emperor Kazan. However, Arikuni welcomed this, and it set the stage for him to later on act as the guardian of Imperial Prince Atsuyasu (Michitaka's grandchild by his daughter), despite the fact that Arikuni was Michinaga's aide. It is said that Arikuni changed the characters used to write his name (from 在国 to 有国) in this year. In addition, he was awarded the rank of Shosanmi (Senior Third Grade) the same year and two years later he assumed the post of Danjo no Daihitsu (Senior Vice President of the Board of Censors) while remaining the Dazai no Daini.

In 1001, he returned to Kyoto when TAIRA no Korenaka was appointed Dazai no Sochi, and then became a Sangi (councilor) with the rank of Junii. In 1010, he took the additional post of Shuri no Daibu (Master of the Office of Palace Repairs). About that time Arikuni revived the Kangaku-e, which had been discontinued after YOSHISHIGE no Yasutane entered the priesthood. He died in 1011 at the age 69.

He was a master writer, on a par with FUJIWARA no Koreshige, and was a brilliant official of the Benkan (Board of Controllers) in FUJIWARA no Kaneie's government.


When Arikuni was young, he went to Kyushu with his father, Sukemichi, who had been appointed to Buzen Province. On reaching their destination, Sukemichi fell ill and died, but was resurrected when Arikuni performed Taizanfukunsai (Spirit Exchange Ritual). According to Sukemichi, Enma Daio (the King of Hell), who passed judgment on worldly crimes, decided to return Sukemichi to his life on the earth because of the splendid offerings made for the Taizanfukunsai. However, during the consultation, there was an opinion that, because it was a serious offense for a person who was not an expert in Onmyodo (an occult divination system based on Yin and Yang) to perform Taizanfukunsai, Arikuni should be brought to the other world in Sukemichi's place. However, some Myokan (Officers of Hell) were of the opinion that since there were no Onmyodo experts in Kyushu, which was a long way from Kyoto, it was unavoidable, and so father and son were both forgiven.

[Original Japanese]