Hojo Tokiyori (北条時頼)

Tokiyori HOJO (July 6, 1227 - December 31, 1263) served as fifth regent to the Kamakura Shogunate for the period from 1246 to 1256. His office and rank were Sagami no kami (governor of Sagami Province) and Shogoi (Senior Fifth Rank), respectively; however, the office and rank did not correspond to each other since the rank was higher than the office. He was a grandson of Yasutoki HOJO and the second son of Tokiuji HOJO. His mother was Matsushita zenni, a daughter of Kagemori ADACHI. His childhood name was Kaiju.

Personal History

While serving as regent
Tokiyori had demonstrated his cleverness since childhood, and his talent was highly appreciated by his grandfather Yasutoki and other people. Tsunetoki, Tokiyori's elder brother, relinquished the regency to Tokiyori because he suffered from a disease, and immediately thereafter he died. This caused anti-Hojo forces, such as the ex-shogun FUJIWARA no Yoritsune, to gain in strength, and as a result there occurred an emergency in May 1246, wherein Mitsutoki NAGOSHI, who was a relative of the Hojo family (a grandson of Yoshitoki HOJO) and served as an aide to Yoritsune, made arrangements for military action under the banner of Yoritsune. However, Tokiyori suppressed these arrangements and drove off the anti-Hojo forces; then, in July he forcibly sent Yoritsune back to Kyoto (this failed attempt at rebellion came to be known as Miya-sodo). Thus, Tokiyori established a rock-solid position as a regent.

The following year (in 1247), Tokiyori overthrew the family of Yasumura MIURA, a leading immediate vassal of the shogun in Kamakura, in cooperation with the Adachi family (the Battle of Hoji). It is said that this resulted in the immediate vassals of the shogun, who had threatened the Hojo family in the shogunate, being completely excluded and in the strengthening of the Hojo family's dictatorial power. In 1252, Tokiyori exiled the fifth shogun, FUJIWARA no Yoritsugu, to Kyoto, and helped Imperial Prince Munetaka, a son of Emperor Gosaga, become the new shogun. This was the first shogun from the Imperial Court.

However, Tokiyori adopted political measures for reconciliation (for example, in 1249 he placed assistant judges, called hikitsuke shu, under the Council of State, or Hyojo shu, to ensure fairness and speed up lawsuits and politics while reducing the duration of service by bodyguards (called Oban yaku)) for fear that dictatorial overtones might become extremely strong, whereby dissatisfaction might arise among the immediate vassals of the shogun. He also actively protected ordinary people by implementing measures of relief on their behalf. The Hojo family, with its low social standing, could not obtain sufficient legitimacy of government to secure its power merely on the grounds of its lineage. This is why there was no means, other than emphasizing and advocating consideration for the people and good administration, that would allow the Hojo family to obtain such legitimacy of government.

The Later Years

In 1256, Tokiyori became ill, and consequently he surrendered the regency to his relative, Nagatoki HOJO, whereupon he became a priest and called himself Meigetsuin Nyudo. However, it is said that Tokiyori in fact managed politics after his retirement from the regency. At that time, Tokimune HOJO, Tokiyori's eldest son (born in 1251), was only six years old, and therefore it was impossible for Tokimune to take over the regency. It is said that such circumstances gave rise to Tokiyori's intention to appoint Nagatoki to serve as a regent in place of Tokimune until Tokimune's attainment of manhood and thereafter to have Tokimune assume the regency from Nagatoki. Contrary to his intention, Tokiyori assumed real political power after his retirement, and this heralded the Tokuso family in the Hojo family. In 1263, Tokiyori died of a disease at Saimyo-ji Temple.


Tokiyori has been characterized as frugal, down-to-earth and religious. Moreover, he is highly appreciated even today as a wise ruler due to the fact that he strengthened the regent's power while providing proper administration to immediate vassals of the shogun as well as common people. This is the reason for which a 'pilgrimage legend' famous as a Noh play entitled "Hachi no ki," wherein Tokiyori appears, has an episode in which Tokiyori visits various provinces to observe the conditions of the people.

Tokiyori invited Rankei Doryu, a priest from Southern Sung Dynasty, to construct Kencho-ji Temple.

History of Offices and Ranks

※The dates indicated correspond to the old calendar. On April 22, 1238, he celebrated his attainment of manhood during service in the barracks. He assumed the name Tokiyori, which includes one character constituting the name of the shogun, Yoritsune KUJO. On September 1, he was appointed as Sahyoe no shojo (Third-ranked Assistant Officer of Sahyoe-fu, the Left Division of Middle Palace Guards).

On July 27, 1243, he was elevated to Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade) and transferred to the post of Sakoen no shogen (Lieutenant of the Left Division of Inner Palace Guards).

On March 6, 1244, he was promoted to Jugoinojo (Junior Fifth Rank, Upper Grade). Retained his position as Sakone no shogen.

On March 23, 1246, he took office as a regent to the shogunate.

In July 1247 (on June 14, 1248, according to a different view), he was transferred to the post of Sagami no kami. On June 27, 1251, he was elevated to Shogoinoge (Senior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade). Retained his position as Sagami no kami.

On November 22, 1256, he retired from the regency. He became a priest and took the name Kakuryobo Dosu.

On November 22, 1263, he passed away. He was 37 years old. His posthumous Buddhist name was Saimyoji Dosu. The family temple was Fukugensan Meigetsu-in Temple, which is located in Yamanouchi, Kamakura City. Some of his ashes were buried in a cemetery in Nyoizan Saimyo-ji Temple, which is located at Nagaoka, Izunokuni City, Shizuoka Prefecture.

[Original Japanese]