Hotoke-gozen (仏御前)

Hotoke-gozen (1160-1180) was a women who danced Shirabyoshi (Japanese traditional dance) and lived in the end of the Heian period. She was born in Kaga Province.

In 1160 she was born in Hara village, Kaga Province (present Komatsu City). She had believed Buddhism since her childhood, and was called 'Hotoke-gozen' (literally, 'Buddha woman'). In 1174, when she was 14 years old, she went up to Kyoto and became Shirabyoshi.

After that, she became famous in Kyoto and stormed the residence of TAIRA no Kiyomori who was a person of power in those days. She was rejected once because another Shirabyoshi, Gio, was loved by Kiyomori at the time, but after she showed her dance to Kiyomori after an offer by Gio, she began to be loved by Kiyomori instantly. This episode was described in Heike Monogatari (The Tale of the Heike) (Section 6 in the volume 1, 'Gio').

Three years later, in 1177 when Hotoke-gozen was 17 years old, she left Kiyomori and became a priest and entered the Gio-ji Temple in Sagano. In the Ojo-in Temple, there lived Gio, who left Kiyomori after Hotoke-gozen had appeared, with her mother and sister, and they also believed Buddhism eagerly as well as Hotoke-gozen. After that, in the following year, 1178, she came back to her hometown, Kaga Province, and died in 1180. Her grave is located in Hara-machi, Komatsu City.

[Original Japanese]