Yanagiwara Sukekado (柳原資廉)

Sukekado YANAGIWARA (August 2, 1644 - October 29, 1712) was a noble who lived in the early Edo period. He actively engaged in politics in the Imperial Court mainly in the era of the Emperor Reigen and the Emperor Higashiyama, for example, by acting as a bukedensoyaku (a position to transmit request from buke to the emperor or the retired emperor). He was the imperial messenger for whom Naganori ASANO was ordered to provide entertainment in the Genroku Ako Incident.

In 1644, he was born in Kyoto as the second child of Sukeyuki YANAGIWARA (Gon Dainagon (provisional chief councilor of state)). His mother was a daughter of Motonari SONO (Gon Dainagon) and, therefore, he was a maternal cousin of the Emperor Reigen whose mother was also a daughter of Motonari SONO. This was the main reason behind Sukekado's remarkable promotion compared to family heads of the Yanagiwara family.
There was the first son called Hoko, but as he was in poor health, Sukekado became the heir of the Yanagiwara family.,
This Yanagiwara family was a branch of the Hino family in the Manatsu line of the Northern House of the Fujiwara clan and it was a meika (family rank of which member can be promoted to Dainagon, immediately below Urinke). This family was founded by Sukeakira YANAGIWARA, who was the fourth son of Toshimitsu HINO, in the period of the Northern and Southern Courts using the name of the Yanagiwara dono where Sukeakira lived as the family name.

Sukekado was conferred a peerage in 1650 in the era of the Emperor Gokomyo. In 1657, he was cerebrated by genpuku (a ceremony of attaining manhood) and made his first shoden (entry into the Imperial Palace) and he was presented to the 111th emperor, the Emperor Gosai. In 1672, he assumed the position of Kurodo no To (chief of emperor's personal secretary) and, in 1673, he assumed the position of sangi (councilllor) and Udaiben (Manor Controller of the Right). In the period from 1681 to 1687, he took over the key position of the politics in the Imperial Palace as Gon Dainagon and, during this period, from 1684, he also assumed the position of bukedenso and actively involved in communication and negotiation with bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) and he stayed in this position until 1708. His final rank was Juichiii (Junior First Rank). He died in 1712. He was sixty-nine years old. He was buried in Jofuku-ji Temple in Kyoto.

Genroku Ako Incident
It was customary during the Edo period that, when a new year commenced, the shogun sent Koke (position in the Tokugawa shogunate which mainly handled ceremonial matters) as his representative to present the emperor and retired emperor (In) a New Year's greeting and, in return, the emperor and the retired emperor sent an envoy to give an imperial reply (the emperor's envoy was called chokushi and the retired emperor's envoy was call inshi or sentoshi (because, at that time, the retired emperor administered the government by cloistered emperor) to Edo (present Tokyo) in March. In March 1701 in which the Genroku Ako Incident occurred, this Yanagiwara and Yasuharu TAKANO visited Edo as envoys of the Emperor Higashiyama. Naganori ASANO was in charge of entertaining those two persons in accordance with an order from the bakufu. As was widely known, however, Asano gave up his duty and caused a tragic accident on March 14 when the most important ceremony for conveying the imperial reply was planned. On this occasion, the roju (senior councilor of the Tokugawa shogunate) asked Yanagiwara whether or not the ceremony for conveying the imperial reply should be carried out under such circumstances and Yanagiwara replied 'As it does not constitute a violation of circumstance, it does not affect the ceremony' and instructed that the ceremony be continued. Thanks to Yanagiwara's cool judgment, the ceremony could be carried out smoothly although the person in charge of entertaining the imperial envoy was switched from Naganori ASANO to Tadazane TODA and the place was switched from Shiroshoin (name of place in Edo-jo Castle) to Kuroshoin (name of place in Edo-jo Castle).

[Original Japanese]