Fujiwara no Tokihira (藤原時平)

FUJIWARA no Tokihira, born in 871 and died on May 1, 909, was a court noble during the early Heian period. He was the son of FUJIWARA no Mototsune. His mother was Princess Soshi. Among his children were FUJIWARA no Yasutada and FUJIWARA no Akitada. Among his siblings were FUJIWARA no Nakahira and FUJIWARA no Tadahira.

Tokihira was the eldest son to the Kanpaku (chief adviser to the Emperor), FUJIWARA no Mototsune, and Tokihira achieved fame early; however, as Tokihira was still young when his father died, Emperor Uda commenced a direct imperial rule and appointed imperial family member the Minamoto clan and scholar SUGAWARA no Michizane. Upon the enthronement of Emperor Daigo, Tokihira and Michizane were appointed as Sayudaijin (Ministers of the Left and Right), however, Tokihira gradually came to oppose Michizane, and at last had him demoted to Dazaifu on false charges. After seizing political power, he ambitiously undertook reform measures, but died at the relatively young age of 39. It is rumored that his early death was attributed to the curse of Michizane's vengeful spirit.

Tokihira was born the eldest son to FUJIWARA no Mototsune. His father Mototsune ousted Emperor Yozei, backed up Emperor Koko and wielded tremendous power in the Imperial Court as Daijodaijin (grand minister of state). Emperor Koko was often openly receptive to Mototsune's opinions.

Tokihira turned 16 in 886, and Emperor Koko personally participated in the boy's coming of age ceremony at the Jijuden, awarding him Shogoinoge (Senior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade). This Imperial edict was drafted by TACHIBANA no Hiromi, a councillor well known as a scholar. Celebratory goods made of gold and silver were on display in the garden of the Jijuden (literally, "hall of benevolence and longevity," which is the Emperor's residence) as music played; attendants ranged from young family members of the upper ministers, who danced, to the eighth prince of Emperor Seiwa, Imperial Prince Sadakazu. This ceremony demonstrated the extent of Mototsune's formidable political power. Others. Tokihira advanced to Jushiinoge (Junior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade) and became Ukone no Gon no chujo (Provisional Middle Captain of the Right Division of Inner Palace Guards).

In 887, when Emperor Uda ascended the throne, he was appointed as Kurodo no to (Head Chamberlain). In keeping with the tradition of the previous Emperor, the Emperor entrusted Mototsune with power and nominated him for Kanpaku (chief advisor to the Emperor), although there were complications surrounding the writing of 'Ako' in the Imperial edict.
Mototsune eventually forced the Emperor to release an Imperial edict admitting this error; this signified the power of the Fujiwara clan. (The Ako Incident)
Nevertheless, this incident resulted in a cooling of relations between Emperor Uda and the Fujiwara clan.

At the beginning of the Kampyo Era, Tokihira was simultaneously named provincial governor of Sanuki Province and rose to the post of Jusani (Junior Third Rank). In 891, Mototsune died. On this occasion, since Tokihira was at the young age of 21, no Sessho or Kanpaku (chancellor) was appointed, and a direct imperial rule was implemented by Emperor Uda. The Emperor appointed Tokihira a councillor, yet at the same time appointed Emperor Ninmyo's grandson MINAMOTO no Okimoto, henceforth using the Minamoto clan as a check to the power of the Fujiwara clan. In 893 the Emperor established Imperial Prince Atsuhito, who was not a blood related to Tokihira, as crown prince, thus intercepting Tokihira's connection as maternal relatives to the emperor. In that same year, SUGAWARA no Michizane was appointed councillor. Michizane was well-known as an eminent scholar; during the Ako Incident, he had written to the court remonstrating Mototsune when Mototsune still kept on calling for the banishment of TACHIBANA no Hiromi, who drafted the edict.

However, Tokihira, a direct descendant of the Northern House of the Fujiwara clan, was not expelled, was elected Sayu emon no kami (Captain of the Left and Right Division of Outer Palace Guards), was made Kebiishi no betto (Superintendent of the Imperial Police), then made a Chunagon (vice-councilor of state), serving concurrently as both Ukone no daisho (Major Captain of the Right Division of Inner Palace Guards) and Togu no daibu (Master of the Crown Prince's Quarters), subsequently becoming Dainagon (chief councilor of state), then concurrently serving as Sakone no daisho (Major Captain of the Left Division of Inner Palace Guards) and as an Kurodo dokoro no betto (Superintendent of the Chamberlain's Office) and smoothly being promoted to Shosanmi (Senior Third Rank).

In 897, Emperor Uda abdicated and Emperor Daigo took the throne. Cloistered Emperor Uda told the new Emperor, "Tokihira is a child of a meritorious retainer, but I hear of his youth and misconduct; I have turned a deaf ear to it, however, recently encourage him to learn more of politics." "For this I urge you to furnish him with advisors in order to better guide him." he admonished. Accordingly, Emperor Daigo appointed Michizane Gon Dainagon (a provisional chief councilor of state), and entrusted Michizane to nairan (private inspection) along with Tokihira. In 899, Tokihira became both Minister of the Left and Sakone no daisho (Major Captain of the Left Division of Inner Palace Guards), but at the same time Michizane was made Minister of the Right alongside him.

The scholar Michizane and the young noble Tokihira did not get along. Tokihira, often carried away by passion, made many errors in judgment, with Michizane confronting him each time and strongly voicing his opinion. Michizane frequently consulted with his supporter Cloistered Emperor Uda regarding matters of state, who advised Emperor Daigo to entrust Michizane with more political responsibility. Learning of this, Tokihira was perturbed (this we know from the "Jinno shotoki" (Chronicle of the direct descent of gods and sovereigns), and the "Fuso Ryakki" (A Short History of Japan).

In 901, Tokihira conspired with Dainagon (chief councilor of state) MINAMOTO no Hikaru (Court noble) and brought false charges against Michizane. Emperor Daigo, believing these charges, demoted Michizane to Dazai gon no sochi (Provisional Governor-General of the Dazai-fu offices) (the Shotai Incident). Two years later, Michizane died of illness in Dazaifu.

There is an opinion that Tokihira's enmity towards Michizane stemmed from not only personal jealousy, but also Michizane's desire to restore the Ritsuryo system and his seeking of opinions to oppose Tokihira's political reform that engaged in political measures that took into consideration the actual state of affairs of society.

Tokihira banished Michizane and seized power.
Immediately following this coup, Tokihira made his younger sister of the same mother, FUJIWARA no Onshi enter the court of Emperor Daigo as nyogo (high-lanking lady in the court)
He also made efforts to improve his relationship with Emperor Uda.

Tokihira ambitiously began undertaking political reform; in 902 he released the first decree restricting the expansion of private estates. Furthermore, he carried out the compilation of the final volume of the Rikkokushi (the Six National Histories), "Nihon Sandai Jitsuroku" (Veritable Records of Three Reigns of Japan) as well as the the "Engishiki" (Procedures of the Engi Era). Tokihira's time in power was called Engi no chi (Reign of the Engi era).

In 909, Tokihira died at the young age of 39. Because of this, he was said to have been cursed by Michizane's vengeful spirit. After Tokihira's death, the lineage of the eldest son of the Northern House of the Fujiwara clan moved to Tokihira's younger brother FUJIWARA no Tadahira and Tadahira's descendant.

Personal Profile/Assessment
He seems to have been easily provoked to laughter; an anecdote remains in "Okagami"(the Great Mirror) tells that, when a recorder farted, he could not help bursting into laughter and was unable to continue working. As another story goes, prearranged with Emperor Daigo, Tokihira deliberately wore opulent clothing for an audience with the Emperor, thereby incurring his wrath, at which point Tokihira shut himself away in his residence and refused to see anyone, thus discouraging the desire for luxury among the people. This became the subject of the Edo Period kabuki drama, "Shihei no Nana Warai" (Shihei's seven laughs).

One story left behind is that he was libidinous, and according to the "Konjaku monogatari" (Tales of Now and Then), upon hearing rumors of Kita no kata, the wife of uncle FUJIWARA no Kunitsune, and a granddaughter of ARIWARA no Narihira, he went to her house and, in between bouts of drinking, made her his wife. In this period, his third son, FUJIWARA no Atsutada, was born.

In terms of politics, although he himself was the head of a powerful family, he engaged in politics actively by issuing manor regulation acts and so on, and was an able politician, Tokihira was able to demonstrate this ability only for a short time and his rumored early death at the hands of Michizane's vengeful spirit was all the more remarkable considering the fact that his siblings, for that time, generally lived long lives, Nakahira until 71, Kanehira until 61, Tadahira and Onshi at 70 (even in consideration of the practice of adding a year at birth). In addition, because his rather poor relations with his younger brother FUJIWARA no Tadahira and the transition of real political power to that family line, Tokihira's family members quietly passed into history by either entering the priesthood or contenting themselves with middling to minor bureaucratic posts, a fact which is often viewed as being connected to Michizane's comparatively quick restoration of his professional reputation. It is said that Tokihira was overweight.

Government Service Record
* Main references are "Nihon Sandai Jitsuroku" (Veritable Records of Three Reigns of Japan) or "Kugyobunin" (directory of court nobles); in case of other references, they are indicated respectively. All dates are given in the old lunar calendar.

April 1: Appointed Jijiju (next to chamberlain)

February 17: Appointed Ukone no Gon no chujo (Provisional Middle Captain of the Right Division of Inner Palace Guards).

August 26: Appointed Kurodo no to <"Kurodobunin" (directory of chamberlain)>.

September 8: Being allowed the access to the imperial court.

September 21: Repeatedly allowed to wear forbidden colors.

November 26: Skipped court rank up to Jusani (Junior Third Rank).

April 11: Assigned additional post of Uemon no kami (Captain of the Right Division of Outer Palace Guards).

May 4 : Assigned additional post of Kebiishi no betto (Superintendent of the Imperial Police)

February 22: Assigned additional post of Ukone no daisho (Major Captain of the Right Division of Inner Palace Guards).

April 2: Assigned additional post of Togu no daibu (Master of the Crown Prince's Quarters).

July 3: Resigned post of Togu no daibu for the accession of Imperior Prince Atsuhito (Emperor Daigo).

Together with SUGAWARA no Michizane, handed down an Imperial edict requesting assistance of the Emperor while he was still a youth <"Nihongi Ryaku" (Summary of Japanese Chronologies)>.

July 7: Assigned additional post of Kurodo dokoro no betto (Superintendent of the Chamberlain's Office).

July 13: Promoted to Shosanmi (Senior Third Rank).

May 14: Appointed Zoku betto (lay administrator) of Todai-ji Temple <"Todaiji bettoshidai" (Record of information related to Todai-ji Temple), "Tonanin monjo" (Writings of Tonan-in Temple)>.

April 5: Conferred the rank of Shoichii Dajodaijin (Senior First Rank, Grand Minister).

[Original Japanese]