Ishikawa no Toshitari (石川年足)

ISHIKAWA no Toshitari (688 - October 762) was a noble who lived from the end of the Asuka period to the middle of the Nara period. He was a grandson of a Shonagon (lesser councilor of state) SOGA no Yasumaro, who became the head of the Soga clan after the Jinshin War, and was a son of a Sangi (councillor) ISHIKAWA no Iwatari. He was at the Shosanmi (Senior Third Rank) and was a Gyoshi-taifu, an equivalent position to Dainagon (chief councilor of state).


Although his father Iwatari had been alive until Toshitari became more then 40 years old, his first investiture was very late: it was finally taken place when he was 47 years old, and it was after Iwatari's death. Subsequently, however, he showed his excellent skill in politics, and in 739, he was granted thick silk fabric and linen by Emperor Shomu in praise of his good government as a kokushi (provincial governor) of Izumo Province.

Around that time, the influence of the Fujiwara clan was temporarily becoming weaker because four Fujiwara brothers died one after another due to smallpox. However, once FUJIWARA no Nakamaro, the second son of FUJIWARA no Muchimaro, who was a close friend of Toshitari's father Iwatari, became powerful, Toshitari could also enjoy Nakamaro's patronage because Toshitari was a second cousin of Nakamaro. When the Shibi Chudai (the office handled the principal Empress Komyo's affairs) was established in 749, he started to support Nakamaro as a daihitsu (undersecretary), and shortly after that, he was ennobled as a Sangi (councilor) although he was already 61 years old.

He was dispatched to Gango-ji Temple in 756. From 757 through 759, he contributed to the enforcement of the Yoro Ritsuryo Code, the change of official post names, and the compilation of 20 volumes of Bessiki (operational regulations of the Yoro Ritsuryo Code), which was not enforced in fact, and he was appointed as a Gyoshi-taifu (or Dainagon) in recognition of his great work in 758 in spite of his great age of 70. This was the highest official rank among members from the Soga (or Ishikawa) clan after his grandfather Yasumaro, and he finally ended his life at the age of 74 in 762, when a dark sign began to be seen in the influence of Nakamaro due to Empress Komyo's death, which occurred shortly after Toshitari's taking office, and the rise of Dokyo, a priest who healed the Retired Empress Koken.

People appreciated his personality and said, 'He was honest and diligence, and was granted a post called Shohanji because of a great achievement as a governor and the head of the family,' and 'He was happy as long as he could read books while on duty,' after his death. In 1820, his epitaph was discovered in Settsu Province more than 1,000 years after his death, and it is now designated as a National Treasure. Additionally, Manyoshu (The Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves) includes one Japanese poem composed by Toshitari.

Record of offices and ranks held
Date according to old lunar calendar

April 23, 735: He was promoted to Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade).

January 13, 740: He was promoted to Jugoinojo (Junior Fifth Rank, Upper Grade).

May 5, 743: He was promoted to Shogoinoge (Senior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade).

September 15, 744: He was appointed as a junsatsushi (an officer on patrol) of Tokai-do region.

April 4, 746: He was appointed as the Governor of Mutsu Province. April 22: He was promoted to Shogoinojo (Senior Fifth Rank, Upper Grade). September 19: He was appointed as an ingai (extra officer) at the Court for the Crown Prince. November 5: He was appointed as a Sachuben (Middle Controller of the Left).

January 20, 747: He was promoted to Jushiinoge (Junior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade). March 11: He was appointed as the Togu no daibu (Master of the Crown Prince's Quarters). November 7: He conducted a land survey for provincial monastery construction.

July 2, 749: He was promoted to Jushiinojo (Junior Fourth Rank, Upper Grade). August 10: He was appointed as a daihitsu of the Shibi Chudai. November 24: He was appointed as a Sangi.

September 28, 753: He was promoted to Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank) and appointed as the Dazai no sochi (Governor-General of the Dazai-fu office).

June 16, 757: He was appointed as the Jingihaku (administrator of the institution for dedicating to religious ceremony).
(He was also appointed as the Hyobukyo [Minister for Military Affairs].)
August 4: He was appointed as a Chunagon (vice-councilor of state).

August 1, 758: He was promoted to Shosanmi (Senior Third Rank). August 25: He was appointed as the Shikibukyo (Minister of the Ministry of Ceremonial).

September 30, 762: He died.

[Original Japanese]