Hino Tomiko (日野富子)

Tomiko HINO (female, 1440 - June 30, 1496) is a historical figure who lived in the Muromachi period. She was the lawful wife of Yoshimasa ASHIKAGA, the 8th shogun of the Muromachi shogunate. Her father was Shigemasa HINO, who was given the titles of Kurodo-Ushoben and, after his death, Naidaijin from the Imperial court, and her mother was Kitanokoji-Zenni, who was given the title of Jusanmi from the Imperial court. She was the mother of Yoshihisa ASHIKAGA, the 9th shogun.

Her life
Her birth and marriage
She was born in the Province of Yamashiro (present-day Kyoto Prefecture). She came from the Hino family, which was related to the ruling Ashikaga family of the Muromachi shogunate, and Yoshimasa's birth mother, Shigeko HINO, was Tomiko's grandaunt. Tomiko became the lawful wife of Yoshimasa at the age of 16 on August 27 (by the lunar calendar), 1455, and gave birth to her first child on January 9 (by the lunar calendar), 1459, but the baby died on the same day. She blamed her baby's death on the Yoshimasa's wet nurse, Imamairi no Tsubone, saying the nurse put a curse on the baby, and banished her to the Okishima Island on Lake Biwa (the nurse killed herself with a sword on the way to the island), and in addition, purged Yoshimasa's four mistresses.

The Onin War
Her husband showed no interest in politics, so Tomiko became deeply involved in, and exerted an influence on, the shogunate government. In 1466, she gave birth to another son, who was named Yoshihisa ASHIKAGA. However, there was a rumor that Yoshihisa might not be Yoshimasa's son but that of Emperor Gotsuchimikado. The year before, Yoshimasa, who did not have a son, made his real younger brother Gijin return as a secular from a Buddhist priest. He changed this brother's name to Yoshimi ASHIKAGA while placing Katsumoto HOSOKAWA as his guardian. He also nominated Yoshimi as the shogun successor, which Tomiko did not like. This situation seems to have produced gossip, but whether it is true or not is unclear. Fortunately, Yoshimasa did not hear it, but from around this time Tomiko became rumored to be a bad wife.

Backed up by the clout of her guardian Sozen YAMANA and her parents' family of Hinos, Tomiko endorsed Yoshihisa as the next shogun, which inevitably caused a conflict with Yoshimi over the shogunate succession, and this, coupled with the problem between the Shibas and Hatakeyamas over the succession of the family headship, contributed to the Onin War. In 1476, after the Hana-no-Gosho residence (in Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto City) was burned down in the war, she moved to the Ogawa-Gosho residence (in Horikawa, Kamigyo Ward).

Tomiko engaged in moneymaking activities, such as collecting tolls by setting up seven barriers in Kyoto (Nanakuchi-no-Seki), investing in the rice market, and taking bribes from loan sharks, and it was her financial power that enabled the Muromachi shogunate to function. Her legacy is said to have reached 70 thousand kan (currently, about 7 billion yen). However, these activities were not praised by the general public, and it was rumored that she was a bad wife so absorbed in moneymaking.

After the Onin War
In 1489, Yoshihisa died while making an expedition to subdue Takayori ROKKAKU, which was followed by Yoshimasa's death. So Yoshiki ASHIKAGA (later, Yoshitane ASHIKAGA), who was the son of Yoshimi and Tomiko's younger sister, was nominated for the shogun by Tomiko. But Yoshimi rebelled against Tomiko's decision. He demolished Tomiko's residence and seized her territory. After Yoshimi's death, Yoshiki also rebelled against Tomiko, following his late father's will. In 1493, however, Tomiko carried out a coup with the help of Masamoto HOSAWA, dethroning Yoshiki and instead installing Yoshizumi ASHIKAGA, who was Yoshimasa's nephew and the son of Masatomo ASHIKAGA, the Horigoe-Kubo (Coup d'Etat in Meio) as shogun. But her life ended in 1496. She died at the age of 57.

She is sometimes said to have been an evil millionairess and a bad wife, but her ability surely supported the shogunate's finances, so we might have to consider that her bad reputation has been influnced by the tendency of later generations to have come to look down on women and merchant activities. Meanwhile, particularly in recent years, some female historians and writers, influenced by feminism, have come to describe Tomiko as a capable female politician different from the exaggerated image. Either way, it can be said that she is a difficult figure to evaluate fairly.

Her grave and other information
Her grave: There exists a grave that is said to be Tomiko's at the Kekai-in Temple, in Kamigyo Ward of Kyoto City.

A wooden statue of Tomiko is owned by the Hokyoji Temple, in Kamigyo Ward of Kyoto City.

Historical and literary works

Yokai, Ryotaro SHIBA (Kodansha Ltd./Kodansha Bunko, 1969)
Gin-no-Yakata, Michiko NAGAI (Bungeishunju Ltd./Bunshun Bunko, 1980)
Muromachi-Shonen-Kurabu, Futaro YAMADA (Bungeishunju Ltd./Bunshun Bunko, 1995)
Hana-no-Ran (NHK's long-running epic drama) The actresses playing the role of Tomiko: Ayaka MURASHIMA=>Takako MATSU=>Yoshiko MITA


The Hino Family

[Original Japanese]