Konoe Iehiro (近衛家熙)

Iehiro KONOE (July 24, 1667 - November 5, 1736) was a court noble, who lived in early to mid Edo period, and assumed the position of Sessho (regent) and Kanpaku (the chief adviser to the Emperor). His father was Motohiro KONOE. His mother was Imperial Princess Tsuneko, a daughter of Emperor Gomizunoo. His wife was Imperial Princess Noriko, a daughter of Emperor Reigen. His children were Iehisa KONOE; Hisako KONOE, a nyogo (high ranking lady serving at court) of Emperor Nakamikado; Akogimi, a wife of Tsugutomo TOKUGAWA, who was the lord of Owari domain; and Masahime, who became an adopted daughter of Ienobu TOKUGAWA.

He was born on July 24, 1667 in Kyoto. His childhood name was Masugimi. In December 1673, he had his coming of age ceremony and was given the rank of Jugoijo (Junior Fifth Rank, Upper Grade). At the same time, he was permitted access to the Imperial Court. In February 1676, he was promoted to the rank of Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank). In March 1686, he assumed the position of Naidaijin (Minister of the Center). In August 1693, he assumed the position of Udaijin (Minister of the Right), then Sadaijin (Minister of the Left) in February 1704. In November 1707, he assumed the position of Kanpaku. In 1709, he became a Sessho of Emperor Nakamikado, then was appointed Daijo-daijin (Grand Minister of State). He resigned as Daijo-daijin in August 1711. In September 1712, he resigned as Sessho. In 1725, he was named Jusango (title given to nobles and members of the Imperial family) by the Emperor. On January 26, 1726 (December 24, 1725 in old lunar calendar), he took the tonsure and changed his name to Yorakuin.

He studied the Kamo style of calligraphy and, after learning the styles of Kukai and ONO no Michikaze, which had been passed down in the Konoe and other families, he went on to develop his own style. He enjoyed 'suibokuga' ink and wash painting and his works are highly regarded. He taught tea ceremony to Cloistered Imperial Prince Jiin. He was well-versed in the ancient rules and practices of the Imperial Court and the military, studied ceremonial rituals and etiquette and spent as many as 20 years revising the "Torikuten," completing it in 1724 after retiring from the government, although it was not published until after his death. He was also a master of the courtly tea ceremony and the "Kaiki" records that he performed the ceremony himself and was known for his interaction with 'wabi' tea masters.

In the 11th volume of "Kaiki". written by Doan YAMASHINA, a court physician (specializing in what is today known as pediatrics) and master of the tea ceremony, Iehiro's sayings and doings are described like a diary and we can clearly see his personality, varied attainments and considerable insight.

He died on November 5, 1736. He was 70 years old. He was buried in Daitoku-ji Temple in Kita Ward (Kyoto City), Kyoto City.

[Original Japanese]