Konoe Motohira (近衛基平)

Motohira KONOE (1246 - December 31, 1268) was Kanpaku (chief advisor to the Emperor) in the mid Kamakura period. His father was Sessho (regent) Kanetsune KONOE. His mother was Jinshi, a daughter of Sessho Michiie KUJO. He was called Shinjinin Kanpaku and Nishitani-dono (西谷殿).

Motohira took a daughter of Kinsuke SAIONJI as his lawful wife, but he was said to have fathered no child with her. His concubines included a daughter of Michiyoshi KOGA, a daughter of Saneyoshi ICHIJO, a daughter of Saneo TOIN, and a daughter (Motohira's half sister) of Kanetsune KONOE. His children were Iemoto, Kanenori, Kakusho, Jinki, Ishi (a consort of Emperor Kameyama, called Shinyomeimon-in), and a wife of Kanetada TAKATSUKASA.

In the first month of 1254, Motohira was awarded the rank of the peerage. After being appointed to the positions of Jiju (Chamberlain) and Ukon no Chujo (Middle Captain of the Right Division of Inner Palace Guards), he was awarded the Junior Third Court Rank, Hisangi (advisor at large), in August 1255 of the following year. In July of the same year, Motohira was appointed to Gon Chunagon (provisional vice-councilor of state), and was promoted to Naidaijin (Inner Minister) in December 1258 and then to Udaijin (Minister of the Right) in April 1261; in the second month of 1263, he was awarded the Junior First Rank. He was appointed to Sadaijin (Minister of the Left) in November 1265, and in December 1267, he assumed the positions of Kanpaku and Toshi Choja (head of the Fujiwara clan). On December 31, 1268, he died of dysentery at the age of 23 as incumbent Kanpaku.


In the annual year-long historical drama series "Tokimune HOJO," Motohira was depicted as an uncompromising Kanpaku as could be seen in the scene where he committed seppuku (suicide by disembowelment) aided by Tokisuke HOJO's act of kaishaku (a merciful blow on to the neck by a second with a sword) in front of Emperor Kameyama, insisting that Tokimune not respond to the letter from Yuan (Mongolia); however, the story is, of course, fictional.

[Original Japanese]