Aoto Fujitsuna (青砥藤綱)

Fujitsuna AOTO (dates of birth and death unknown) was samurai in the late Kamakura Period. His name was Saburo, Saemon.


He was said to be born in Kazusa Province or in Musashi Province. There is a transmitted tale that he was a child by a concubine of Fujimitsu AOTO. According to "Kocho-Ki" (Records of Kocho era), it has been reported that he was a descendant of Chikasato OOBA who was samurai in Izu Province and given Aoto-so (manor) in Kazusa Province after the Jokyu war. Although he became a priest when he was eleven years old, he returned to secular life and went home when he was twenty-one years old. It was said that he excelled academically and had a wide knowledge of Confucianism and Buddhism.

On the night of the day when Tokiyori HOJO visited Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu Shrine, he had a revelation in a dream and thus called Fujitsuna to give him Saemon no jo (third-ranked officer of the Left Division of Outer Palace Guards) and appointed him as Hikitsukeshu (Coadjustor of the High Court). According to "Kocho-Ki", he appointed him as hyojoshu (a member of Council of State). It was said that Fujitsuna felt strange for this selection and asked the reason, and then declined the appointment by saying, "if you say you employ a person on the basis of a dream, it is possible that you would put him to the sword also by mear dream. A person receiving an award without his achievement is same as a traitor"; his sensible reply impressed Tokiyori. It was said that Fujitsuna was twenty-eight years old at that time.

Once, a person conflicted with Tokiyori over shoryo (territory) and bugyonin (magistrates) pronounced the verdict against the person in fear of Tokiyori's authority, but Fujitsuna placed importance on reason, and returned shoryo to that person as well as the money offered by that person to Fujitsuna as reward. This incident made his fairness and integrity widely known.

He once sailed the Namegawa River at night and dropped a ten-mon coin (mon is a monetary unit of old times), then he ordered his servant to buy taimatsu (a torch) for fifty-mon to search for the coin.
When a person laughed at him saying "if you spend fifty-mon to search for ten-mon, you will not make up for the loss," then Fujitsuna responded, "although ten-mon is small amount of money, losing it means losing the money of the country forever. Fifty-mon will be the loss for me but it will benefit someone else. Can't we say that the profit of sixty-mon in total would be big?"

He also served the next regent Tokimune HOJO and had dozens of shoryo and many household possessions, but he lived a very simple life and made it his principle to be thrifty. He liked to give in charity and gave all the salary he received to people suffering from poverty. It was said that during his term of office, government officials behaved moderately, and public morals were significantly improved. By the way, "Taiheiki" (The Record of the Great Peace) pointed Fujitsuna as the person played active role during the period of Tokimune HOJO and the next regent Sadatoki HOJO.

The anecdote of Fujitsuna was described not only in volume 35 of "Taiheiki" but also in "Dainihonshi" (Great history of Japan). Moreover, there is also a transmitted tale that his residences were located in today's Aoto, Katsushika Ward and Tomioka, Kanazawa Ward, Yokohama City, but their actual existence is questioned.

In Edo Period, he often appeared in the works of art such as literature and kabuki as 'the role of justice' who offered a fair trial and protected people from injustice of powerful persons. Ooka Seidan (judgements of Ooka magistrate) can be given as an example having similar nature, but appearance of Tadasuke OOKA, who was the actual bugyo (magistrate) and daimyo (Japanese feudal lord) of the Edo bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) on the scene was likely to cause a political problem and therefore, instead of Tadasuke OOKA, a historic figure Fujitsuna appeared as the main character in some cases. Ukiyozoshi (literally, Books of the Floating World) "Kamakura Hiji" written by Getsujindo and yomihon (books for reading) "Aoto Fujitsuna Moryo An" written by Bakin TAKIZAWA can be given as examples among literary works dealing with Fujitsuna. In Kabuki field, Ichimura-za Theater is known to have actively performed masterpieces relevant to Fujitsuna; "Aotozoshi" and "Meiyo Jinsei Roku" in collaboration with the third Jisuke SAKURADA, "Aotozoshi hana no nishikie" (Picture of flower of Aorozoshi) in collaboration with Mokuami KAWATAKE are known today. Joruri (dramatic narrative chanted to a samisen accompaniment) "Sesshu Gappo-ga-tsuji" written by Sensuke SUGA and Fuemi WAKATAKE describes a story of a descendant of Fujitsuna.

In Daikomyo-ji Temple (former Gokuraku-ji Temple) near Keisei Line Takasago station, there are a statue of Benzaiten (Sarasvati, Buddhist goddess of music, learning, eloquence, wealth, longevity, and protection from natural disasters) that is said to be Fujitsuna's dedication and a memorial tower of Fujitsuna erected in Edo Period.

[Original Japanese]