Fujiwara no Michikane (藤原道兼)

FUJIWARA no Michikane (961 - June 13, 995) was a court noble in the mid-Heian period. He was the third son of FUJIWARA no Kaneie. His mother was Tokihime, a daughter of FUJIWARA no Nakamasa. His siblings by the same mother were FUJIWARA no Michitaka, FUJIWARA no Michinaga, FUJIWARA no Choshi, and FUJIWARA no Senshi. He was also called Awata dono, Nijo dono, and Machijiri dono.

Under his father Kaneie's instructions, he induced Emperor Kazan to take the tonsure and abdicate. Upon the accession of Emperor Ichijo, the Emperor's maternal grandfather Kaneie became sessho (Regent) and Michikane was also promoted to a higher rank. When Kaneie died, Michikane's eldest brother Michitaka became kanpaku (Chief Advisor to the Emperor), contrary to Michikane's expectation. When Michitaka died of illness five years later, Michikane accepted the long-awaited appointment to kanpaku but died of illness only several days after assuming the office. He was thus nicknamed the 'Nanoka Kanpaku' (Seven Day Regent).


He was born the third son of FUJIWARA no Kaneie of the Northern House of the Fujiwara clan. Michikane was a great and obstinate man with a heavy beard.

In September 984, when Emperor Kazan ascended the throne, Michikane became kurodo no sashoben (Court Rank, caring food, clothe and house of Emperor). Emperor Ichijo, whose mother was Senshi, a daughter of Michikane's father Kaneie, was named Togu (the Crown Prince). Emperor Kazan's mother was FUJIWARA no Kaishi, a daughter of Kaneie's elder brother, the deceased Koretada, whereby Gon Chunagon (a provisional vice-councilor of state) FUJIWARA no Yoshichika, a son of Koretada, governed the Imperial Court by assisting the Emperor. Under the circumstances, Kaneie earnestly desired early enthronement of Imperial Prince Yasuhito.

Emperor Kazan was so emotional that he was grief-stricken and depressed over the death of FUJIWARA no Shishi, his beloved nyogo (high rank lady serving at court). Michikane, who attended upon Emperor Kazan as kurodo, expounded the teachings of Buddha to the Emperor with Genkyu of the Gankei-ji Temple (also known as Kazan-ji Temple) and induced the Emperor to take the tonsure. When Michikane promised Emperor Kazan to take the tonsure with him, the Emperor became serious about it.

At two o'clock in the morning of August 6, 986, Michikane led Emperor Kazan to slip out of the dairi (the Imperial Palace precincts). When the Emperor wavered on the way to the Gankei-ji Temple in Yamashina Ward, Michikane persuaded the Emperor to continue and managed to take the Emperor to the Temple. The Emperor accepted the basic Buddhist precepts from Genkyu and took the tonsure.
At the last moment, Michikane said 'It occurred to me that if I take the tonsure without telling my father, I will suffer some kind of retribution for the sin of having deceived my father.'
He said, 'I've decided to see my father to bid farewell for the last time as a layman' and excused himself and went home. The Emperor realized that he had been deceived, but it was too late. Meanwhile, Michikane's father Kaneie and elder brother Michitaka had promptly prepared for the enthronement of the Togu in the Imperial Court. The next morning, Yoshichika and Sachuben (Middle Controller of the Left) FUJIWARA no Koreshige (or Korenari) rushed to Gankei-ji Temple only to find the tonsured Emperor, and they also tonsured in despair.

Imperial Prince Yasuhito ascended the throne (as Emperor Ichijo) at an early age. The Emperor's maternal grandfather, Kaneie, was appointed to the office of sessho (Regent). Kaneie's sons were also promoted to higher ranks; among others, Michikane, who had contributed to the enthronement, was promoted to higher ranks successively, starting at promotion to sangi (Councilor) in August of the same year, further to Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank) Gon Chunagon (a provisional vice-councilor of state) in November, to Shosanmi (Senior Third Rank) in December, to Junii (Junior Second Rank) in 987, and to Shonii (Senior Second Rank) Gon Dainagon (a provisional chief councilor of state) in 989.

In 990, when Kaneie fell ill and died, Michitaka, the eldest brother of Michikane, was appointed successor to the office of kanpaku. According to "Okagami" (The Great Mirror), Michikane resented Michitaka's succession to his father against his reasonable expectation of following his father as kanpaku because of the services he had rendered to his father, and pursued pleasures by inviting guests even though he was in mourning for his father.

Under Michitaka's administration, Michikane was elevated to naidaijin (Minister of the Center) in 991 and to udaijin (Minister of the Right) in 994.

In 995, when Michikane's elder brother, kanpaku Michitaka, fell seriously ill, Michitaka wanted his legitimate son naidaijin FUJIWARA no Korechika to succeed him as kanpaku, but this was not allowed and he died on May 17. On June 3, Michikane was promoted by Imperial edict to kanpaku. Ironically, though, Michikane succumbed to illness before long and died on June 13.
Michikane was called 'Nanoka Kanpaku' (Although Michikane's tenure was not seven days; according to a source, he died on the seventh day from his first visit to the Imperial Palace as kanpaku. Incidentally, Michikane held Jin no sadame (official aristocratic council held at the headquarters of the inner palace guard) only once in his tenure.)
He was posthumously conferred Shoichii (Senior First Rank) Dajo Daijin (General Minister of state).

His children were Chunagon (vice-councilor of state) FUJIWARA no Kanetaka, who was to found the Utsunomiya clan, and FUJIWARA no Takako, who was to become nyogo (consort) of Emperor Ichijo.

Record of Office and Rank
February 25: Conferred Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade.)
December 28: Installed as member of palace staff.
Granted shoden (access to the administration chambers in the Seiryo den Hall in the imperial court).
March 19: Reassigned as danjo-shohitsu (junior assistant President of the Board of Censors).
February 19: Appointed to the office of kurodo (Chamberlain). September 27: Promoted to Jugoinojo (Junior Fifth Rank, Upper Grade). September 29: Appointed to the office of kurodo of the new Emperor (Emperor Kazan). November 10: Promoted to Shogoinoge (Senior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade) as retained the position of kurodo. November 30: Appointed to Sashoben (third-ranked officer of the left). Whether or not he retained the office of kurodo is unknown.

August 6: Appointed to the office of kurodo no to (Head Chamberlain). August 17: Promoted to Jushiinoge (Junior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade) as retained his position as kurodo no to. August 28: Appointed to the office of Ukone no Gon no chujo (Provisional Middle Captain of the Right Division of Inner Palace Guards). Retained his position as kurodo no to.

September 1: Appointed to the office of sangi. Retained his position as Ukonoe no chujo.

September 24: Assigned additional post of Mimasaka gon no kami (provisional governor of Mimasaka Province). November 24: Promoted to Jusanmi and reassigned to position of Gon Chunagon. December 30: Promoted to Shosanmi as retained his position as Gon Chunagon.
December 9: Promoted to Junii and retained his position as Gon Chunagon.
April 6: Reassigned to position of Gon Dainagon. April 17: Assigned additional position of Kotaigo gu no daibu (Master of the Empress Dowager's Household (Empress Dowager was FUJIWARA no Senshi, a daughter of FUJIWARA no Kaneie)).
May 17: Promoted to Shonii and retained his position as Gon Dainagon and Kotaigo gu no daibu
July 9: Assigned additional duty of Ukone no daisho (Major Captain of the Right Division of Inner Palace Guards).
October 22: Reassigned to position of to naidaijin and retained his position as Ukone no daisho.
October 10: Reassigned to position of Udaijin (Minister of the Right). October 19: Retained his position as Ukone no daisho.
June 3: Promoted by Imperial edict to kanpaku. June 4: Promoted by Imperial edict to Toshi Choja (head of the Fujiwara clan). June 13: Died. Died at the age of 43.

June 30: Posthumously conferred Shoichii Dajo Daijin (Senior First Rank Grand Minister).

[Original Japanese]