Fujiwara no Soen (藤原宗円)

FUJIWARA no Soen (1033 or 1043 - November 20, 1111) lived in the late Heian period. FUJIWARA no Soen was supposedly the founder of the Utsunomiya clan to be active based in Shimotsuke Province in the future. Soen's father was FUJIWARA no Kanefusa (whose office in the imperial court was Chugu no suke which was an Assistant Master of the Consort's Household). Soen's son was Munetsuna HATTA (who was also called NAKAHARA no Munetsuna and UTSUNOMIYA no Munetsuna). Soen is allegedly the first Head of the Utsunomiya clan. Soen was also called "AWATA no Soen."

According to various genealogies including the Sonpi bunmyaku (Bloodlines of Noble and Base) and Utsunomiya Keizu (literally, the genealogy of the Utsunomiya clan), Soen was on the lineage of Kanpaku (Chancellor) FUJIWARA no Michikane of the Fujiwara Hokke (the Northern House of the Fujiwara clan) (i.e. a descendant of FUJIWARA no Michikane), and was allegedly the second son of FUJIWARA no Kanefusa (Chugu no suke) who was Michikane's grandson.

During the Zen Kunen no Eki (Former Nine Years' Campaign), Soen cooperated with MINAMOTO no Yoriyoshi and his son MINAMOTO no Yoriie of the Kawachi-Genji (the Minamoto clan of Kawachi Province), and received credit for subjugating the rebellion, thereby being appointed Shugoshiki (Military Governor) of Shimotsuke Province, Bettoshiki (the office of head administrator) of Ichinomiya (a shrine occupying the highest rank among the shrines of a province) of the Shimotsuke Province and Utsunomiya Zasu (titular head of the Utsunomiya Futaarayama-jinja Shrine). Soen, however, is believed to have served as Zasu of Ishiyama-dera Temple (alternatively, present-day Oya-ji Temple of Utsunomiya City, according to a different view) before becoming the Utsunomiya Zasu, thus supposedly extending power, backed by the Buddhism.

It is believed that at the Ichinomiya of Shimotsuke Province which was supposedly under control of the Keno (or Kenu) clan, Soen took a seat of honor which was superior to Shinto priests, thereby making it possible to infer that Soen may be related to the Keno clan (i.e. Soen was possibly an illegitimate child of the father of the Fujiwara clan and the mother of the Keno clan). Further, from the fact that Soen's wife was a daughter of Masataka MASHIKO and that Soen's heir Munetsuna assumed the family name Hatta, Soen is likely to have extended power over not only Shimotsuke Province but also in the vicinity of the Western part of Hitachi Province (in the vicinity of Shimodate City, Ibaraki Prefecture), supposedly keeping the Haga, Mashiko and Hatta clans under control.

Soen died on November 20, 1111.

One theory has it that Soen had the Utsunomiya-jo Castle built and the Hoshaku-ji Temple of Tendai-shu Sect built within the castle.

[Original Japanese]