Kogo (小督)

Kogo (1157 - date of death is unknown) was a consort of the Emperor Takakura at the end of Heian period. She was called Kogo no tsubone (though, her real name is unknown. According to Bunei TSUNODA, her real name was Shigeko.) and said to have been a woman of unmatched beauty and a talented So (a long Japanese zither with thirteen strings) player.

She was a daughter of Sakuramachi chunagon (vice-councilor of state) FUJIWARA no Shigenori, and a granddaughter of FUJIWARA no Michinori. She was a concubine of Takafusa REIZEI at first, and later became a favorite mistress of the Emperor Takakura who fell in love with her at first sight. Kogo made TAIRA no Kiyomori, the father of chugu (Empress) Kenreimonin Tokuko, became angry and was forced to become a Buddhist priest after giving birth to Bomonin Imperial Princess Hanshi (the second princess of the Emperor Takakura). It was recorded that FUJIWARA no Teika (Sadaie) visited her in 1205, as she was confined to bed with illness in Saga ("Meigetsuki"), and that was the last information on her.

She not only appeared in "Heike Monogatari" (The Tale of Heike) Vol. 6 and "Tamakiharu" (the Diary of Kenshunmonin Chunagon) but also was described as a heroin of Noh 'Kogo' (Lady Kogo).

Tragic Tale of Kogo

At the very end of the Heian period, the Emperor Takakura who was on the throne grieved over the death of his favorite mistress. Chugu (Empress, TAIRA no Tokuko who was a daughter of TAIRA no Kiyomori) was unable to let it pass unnoticed, and introduced a chunagon's daughter who was celebrated for her beauty and musical talent to the Emperor in order to console him.

The daughter who had entered the court was called Kogo no tsubone, and stood high in the Emperor's favor.

As the father of chugu, TAIRA no Kiyomori angered that the Emperor was fascinated with Kogo, neglecting chugu, Taira's daughter, and finally ousted Kogo from the court.

Kogo took refuge in Saga for fear of Kiyomori and lost contact with the Emperor. The Emperor grieved so badly that the Emperor called his repository MINAMOTO no Nakakuni (brother of MINAMOTO no Nakaakira, who was Uda-Genji (the Minamoto clan originated from Emperor Uda) in secret and issued an imperial order to Nakakuni to secretly call back Kogo to the court.

In the night of chushu (the mid-autumn), Nakakuni walked out in Sagano in the moonlight, and played the flute, his favorite musical instrument, expecting Kogo to respond to that sound. In the meantime, the faint but beautiful tune of 'Sofuren' (I Love Him So) (gagaku (ancient Japanese court dance and music)) was heard from a distance, in which direction Nakakuni advanced to find Kogo hiding herself in a humble hut.

Having realized Kogo's love for the Emperor by the tune 'Sofuren,' Nakakuni persuaded Kogo, who was hesitant to come back to the court for fear of Kiyomori at first, to secretly return to the Emperor. The Emperor and Kogo repeatedly met in secret, but someone who was loyal to Kiyomori leaked the secret and finally, Kogo was forced to become a priest.

Noh 'Kogo' was one of the fourth-category plays and written by Zenchiku KOMPARU based on the Sagano scene of the Kogo story. Noh 'Kogo' is appreciated as a masterpiece for its beauty and sadness and still frequently played on the stage.

[Original Japanese]