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Three types of court nobles who kill each other ~ Munenobu Kiyohara, Aritoki Ayanokoji, Arikazu Karahashi

In the NHK Taiga drama ``Hikaru Kimi e'', Kaneie Fujiwara's second son Michikane killed Mahiro's (Murasaki Shikibu) mother Chiyaha, and the shocking development left me dumbfounded, but at the same time I felt a sense of discomfort. In the Heian period, where there was a strong sense of impurity towards human death and fear of vengeful spirits, it would be unreasonable to imagine a child of senior aristocrat personally killing someone and then returning home covered in blood. Since it's a drama, it may not be too much of a concern.  By the way, Murasaki Shikibu's daughter (Daini no Sanmi) was married twice, but the most likely theory is that her first husband was Michikane's son Kanetaka (it is unknown if this will be depicted in the drama).

Munenobu Kiyohara was the older brother of Sei Shonagon, and his father Motosuke was called as "one of thirty-six best poets", but he was killed by the followers of Yorichika Minamoto (Settsu-Genji clan). Munenobu was as a henchman of Yasumasa Fujiwara, one of the feudal lords known for their military prowess and known as Michinaga's Four Strong Warriors at the time. Yasumasa and Yorichika were in a dispute over interests in Yamato Province, but Munenobu was involved in the assassination of Yorichika's henchman, Tameyori Toma, and received revenge for this. There is an anecdote that when Munenobu was attacked, Sei Shonagon, who was living with him, was wearing a priestly robe and it was difficult to tell her gender, so she escaped murder by showing her crotch to prove that she was a woman. I don't know if this is true, but she served Michitaka's daughter Teishi and then retired, and was a little over 50 years old at the time, but during Michinaga's heyday, she may have been a "person from the past" and a subject of ridicule. Yasumasa, the boss, remarried Izumi Shikibu, who had been active with men, at the recommendation of Michinaga, and continued to build a career as a provincial governor without any problems, but Izumi Shikibu, like Murasaki Shikibu, was a court lady of Michinaga's daughter Shoshi, both of them were favorites of Michinaga. This incident is one of the episodes of the rise of the samurai class during the Sekkan period, and also seems to be a metaphor for the situation between the winning Shoshi faction and the losing Teishi faction in the contrast between Yasumasa and Munenobu. Incidentally, children of the Sekkan family were sent to Kofukuji after the Insei period, and Kofukuji essentially came to rule as the province of Yamato (Kofukuji betto) in the medieval period.  

Generally, each court noble family had their own "arts" that were passed down from generation to generation, but the Ayanokoji family's family business was court songs called eikyoku, and they served as the emperor's teacher for generations. In the first place, there seems to have been a concert hall-like place called Seishodo inside the Daidairi(the Imperial Palace), and the biggest event was the concert called Seishodo Gyoyu, which was held during the Daijo Festival. Since it is Daijosai, it only takes place when the Emperor ascends to the throne, so it is a once-in-a-lifetime event. The role of beater (conductor or bassist?) was the most important, and Aritoki Ayanokoji, who was talented and experienced at the time, was appointed at Emperor Go-Daigo's Daijosai. The assassin was Akika Kamiyakawa, who also had a family business in gagaku, but he was exiled (the reason for the murder is not clear, but Watanabe wrote a paper about the murder of Aritoki Ayanokouji in the second year of Bunpo). If you are interested, please read the thesis.) I think gagaku plays a big role in court ceremonies, but I imagine that there was jealousy and competition between them as they each honed their skills while shouldering the honor of their families. It might be a similar relationship to Kira Kozukenosuke and Takumi Asano in Chishingura story. In any case, it was an incident that foreshadowed the subsequent reign of Emperor Go-Daigo.  

The above cases are all cases of commissioned murders, but in the Kujo family, which entered the Sengoku period and was in extreme poverty, a murder occurred by a father and his son. The Kujo family was originally a wealthy family that inherited the vast manor built by Michinaga and Yorimichi together with the Konoe family, and is also famous for producing the shogun (Yoritsune) after Sanetomo in the early Kamakura period. The Karahashi family had served the Kujo family as the head of the Kujo family (a noble family that served the imperial court, as well as a family that could be used by certain senior aristocrats), but after the Onin War, the income from the manor decreased sharply, and the Kujo family was left with no financial support and Bankruptcy was approaching. Masamoto Kujo inherited the Kujo family after a dispute with his older brother, but his mother was from the Karahashi family, and his brother and sister, Ariharu Karahashi, contributed to the succession of the family, and as a steward he managed the finances of the Kujo family. Ariharu took over the debts of the Kujo family and took the income from the manor (Hine-no-sho) in Izumi Province as collateral, but when Ariharu passed away, his son Arikazu took over this role. Eventually, the income from the manor became stagnant, and they took out a loan by mortgaging the manor from Negoroji Temple in Kishu, but they were unable to pay it back. The relationship between Masamoto Kujo and Arikazu Karahashi turned sour, and Arikazu was killed when he visited the mansion of Kujo.

This is a case that shows the decline in the authority and economic base of the imperial court and aristocrats during the Sengoku period, but above all, it is a murder case that was personally initiated by a nobleman, and Arikazu was both a head of the family and a vassal, and after that time It seems that Emperor Tsuchimikado and others were very worried about what punishment to take. What is interesting is that the court nobles descended from the Sugawara clan worked together to impeach the incident, resulting in a showdown between the Sugawara clan and the Fujiwara clan for the first time in 600 years since the demotion of Michizane Sugawara, and in the end, the difference in family status was also taken into consideration. Although the Imperial Court acknowledged that Masamoto and Naotsune were at fault, they were given an imperial warrant and suspended from service, but the charges were cleared about three years later.

However, the poverty of the Kujo family was not resolved, and Masamoto then went to his own manor and tried to rule directly, and adopted his son (Sumiyuki) to Masamoto Hosokawa in an attempt to become a samurai class. It didn't go well as the historical fact shows.


They say that if you are poor, you become dull, but the more prestigious your family is, the more difficult it is for you to lower your standard of living, and the fewer means of living you have, the harder it is for you to survive. Reducing equilibrium is difficult to say the least, but the examples of survival of the imperial court and aristocrats during the Sengoku period, including the cases of the Konoe and Ichijo families who found a way out while persevering, can serve as references for modern Japan's "patience strategy."



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