Higashizono Motomasa (東園基雅)

Motomasa HIGASHIZONO (January 30, 1675 - July 17, 1728) was a Kugyo (high court noble) who lived in the mid-Edo period. He served at the imperial court mainly under the reigns of the 113th Emperor Higashiyama and the 114th Emperor Nakamikado, and was promoted to Shonii (Senior Second Rank) Dainagon (Major Counselor) in the end. His father was Motokazu HIGASHIZONO (Shonii Dainagon [Senior Second Rank, Major Counselor). His mother was a daughter of Nagaatsu TAKAKURA (Shonii Dainagon). He was first referred to himself as Motoshige [基茂], then Motonaga. His lawful wife ('seishitsu' in Japanese) was a daughter of Tamenaga FUJITANI (also called FUJIGAYATSU) and the second wife ('keishitsu' in Japanese) was a daughter of Tameshige or Tamemochi [為茂] FUJITANI. He had children including Mototoyo HIGASHIZONO, Motochika HIGASHIZONO, a daughter (wife of Motochika MATSUDAIRA) and a daughter (wife of Motokore or Motoi or Motoyuki [基維] or Mototada ROKKAKU).

In 1679 he was conferred a peerage. In 1689 he was promoted to Jushiinoge (Junior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade) Saonoe no shosho (Minor Captain of the Left Division of Inner Palace Guards), renaming himself as Motonaga. He thereafter served as Sakon e no chujo (Middle Captain of the Left Division of Inner Palace Guards) and Kurodo no to (Head Chamberlain), and in 1700 he became a Sangi (Councilor), thus becoming a Kugyo (high court noble). After serving as Toka no sechie Geben (a Kugyo who supervised the event of toka [ceremonial mass singing and stomp dancing] called Toka no sechie held at the Imperial Court on around the fifteenth day of the first month of the year, outside the Shomeimon gate of the Kyoto imperial palace) and Chunagon (Middle Counselor), it was in 1719 when he became Dainagon (Major Counselor). Until 1723 he remained in the same position (Dainagon). While serving as Dainagon, he was raised to Shonii (Seniro Second Rank). In 1726 he renamed himself as Motomasa. He died in 1728. He died at the age of 54.

His diary called "A Diary of Lord Motonaga HIGASHIZONO" ("Higashizono Motonaga Kyo-ki" in Japanese) remains today. In the diary he commented on the Genroku Ako Incident taking place in 1701, such that it was pitiable ("Fubin, fubin" in Japanese) that Naganori ASANO had been forced to commit seppuku (ritual suicide by disembowelment) which had resulted in extinction of his whole household. Kanpaku (Chief Advisor to the Emperor) Motohiro KONOE wrote "A Diary of Lord Motohiro" in which he sounded interested when he described how KIRA Kozukenosuke had been injured in a sword attack was remarkable ("Chinji, chinji" in Japanese), and Motohiro also wrote that when he had reported the incident to Emperor Higashiyama, the emperor "had conveyed the sense of happiness."

It is clear that the emperor and courtiers alike lacked compassion for Yoshinaka KIRA, and was sympathetic to Naganori ASANO. The reason may lie in the fact that Naganao ASANO as the head of the Asano family, on one hand, had contributed to the court by undertaking to rebuild the Dairi (Imperial Palace) which had been burned down and that Yoshinaka KIRA, on the other hand, had allegedly involved in Shogun's various political maneuvers in the direction of the court, such that the Shogun had pressured Emperor Gosai into abdication of the throne, and therefore, it is likely that Kira was hated not only by Asano family and his retainers but also by the court.

[Original Japanese]