Ichinokami (the ranking Council Member) (一上)

Ichinokami was the head of the Kugyo (top court officials) and usually referred to the Minister of the Left.

The Ichinokami was the highest-ranking minister among the Kugyo, except for Daijo-daijin (Grand minister of state), who received direct instructions from the Emperor, and Sessho Kanpaku (regent and chief adviser to the Emperor), who acted for the Emperor. Sadaijin (Minister of the Left) usually served as ichinokami, however, in the case where the position of Sadaijin was vacant or Sadaijin served concurrently as Sessho Kanpaku (Sessho Kanpaku was not qualified as ichinokami), Udaijin (minister of the right) was appointed as ichinokami. Otherwise, Naidaijin (minister) was appointed as ichinokami; and very occasionally the Dainagon (Major Counselor) was appointed as ichinokami. In addition, ichinokami were in charge of Kurodo (Chamberlains) other than the Head Chamberlain, as they served concurrently as Kurodo-betto (superintendent of Chamberlains), as well as Onmyo-ryo betto (superintendent of the Bureau of Divination).

Incidentally, an imperial decree was usually issued to appoint an Ichinokami however if a Sadaijin resigned from ichinokami by taking the position of Sessho Kanpaku, the Sadaijin occasionally appointed their successor. An exceptional case was when FUJIWARA no Michinaga, who served as Sadaijin and Ichinokami, resigned from the post of Ichinokami by taking the position of Sessho (regent), and he decided that the person who came in to work the earliest on the day would serve as ichinokami for the day among the seven kugyo, who were in the position between Udaijin (FUJIWARA no Akimitsu) and Dainagon (article of March 16, 1016, "Shoyuki" (Diary of FUJIWARA no Sanesuke)). This was done because FUJIWARA no Michinaga was worried that Akimitsu and Naidaijin FUJIWARA no Kinsue were too old to serve as ichinokami. In 1147, FUJIWARA no Yorinaga became ichinokami due to the vacancies of Ministers of the Right and the Left, and attempted to restore government affairs, thus taking over power from his brother FUJIWARA no Tadamichi.

[Original Japanese]