Tachibana clan (橘氏)

The Tachibana clan was a family (clan), which took an active role in ancient Japan. The clan's origin dated back to 708, when Agata no INUKAI no Michiyo was granted Shisei (clan and hereditary title) of TACHIBANA no Sukune by the Emperor Genmei. After that Sukune's son, Katsuragi no okimi (Prince Katsuragi) changed his name to TACHIBANA no Moroe, his descendents called themselves the Tachibana clan. Moroe, firstly received sei (the surname), TACHIBANA no Sukune, and afterwards, he was given the sei, Tachibana no Ason. In the Heian period, many of the Tachibana clan members used the name of TACHIBANA no Ason.

It is one of the so called 'Shisei' (four major family names particularly in the Heian period) and original names, and the clan had produced many Kugyo (high court nobles) for generations until the mid-Heian period, however, after that, the Tachibana clan stopped holding the position of Kugyo, and after that, the clan had lost its influence.

Origin and transition

The substantial ancestor of the Tachibana clan is said to have been Agata no INUKAI no Michiyo. Michiyo served as Myobu (a high-ranking court lady) from the Emperor Tenmu's era, and is also said to have been the Emperor Monmu's menoto (wet nurse), having an intimate connection with the Imperial family as an influential person in the kokyu (empress's residence). At first Michiyo became Minu no Okimi's wife, and TACHIBANA no Moroe, TACHIBANA no Sai were born. In 694, when Minu no Okimi went to Kyushu as dazai no sochi (the chief of Dazaifu [Government Headquarters in Kyushu]), she then became the wife of FUJIWARA no Fuhito, and FUJIWARA no Komyoshi (the Empress Komyo) was born. On January 14, 709, when Daijosai (the first ceremonial offering of the rice) by the newly-enthroned Emperor Genmei was held, Michiyo was given Shisei (clan and hereditary title) of TACHIBANA no Sukune, accompanying with a cup in which a flower of mandarin orange was floating on sake, praising her distinguished service for a long time since the Emperor Tenmu's era.

After Michiyo died in 733, her sons, TACHIBANA no Moroe and TACHIBANA no Sai requested their succession to Shisei (clan and hereditary title) of TACHIBANA no Sukune to the Imperial Court on December 21, 736, and on December 27, it was permitted. Then, TACHIBANA no Moroe changed his former name to TACHIBANA no Moroe, and Sai no Okimi changed his name to TACHIBANA no Sai, respectively. Moroe, who had already began serving as Giseikan (Legislature) (Kugyo) in the position of Sangi (councilor) in 731, ascended to Dainagon (major councilor) in 737, and Udaijin (Minister of the Right) in 738, and in 743 he finally reached Sadaijin (Minister of the Left) and dedicated himself to national politics as the head of Daijokan (Grand Council of State) during the eras of the Emperor Shomu and the Emperor Koken.
On March 2, 750, he was granted the sei (authentic surname) Ason, and after that he had presented himself as 'TACHIBANA no Ason.'

The period of Moroe is when the Tachibana clan had the greatest influence in their history. After Moroe died on New Year's Day of the ninth year of Tenpyo-shoho era (757), his son TACHIBANA no Naramaro lost in the power struggle between him and FUJIWARA no Nakamaro, and died in prison in July 757 on the suspicion of conspiring a rebellion (Revolt of TACHIBANA no Naramaro).

After that, the name of the Tachibana clan was not enlisted as Giseikan (Kugyo) for a while, but when Naramaro's granddaughter, TACHIBANA no Kachiko (the Empress Danrin) was ascended to the Empress of the Emperor Saga, the situation changed drastically. Until that time, the Fujiwara clan was the only clan among the Imperial retainers and clans that had produced those empresses, and therefore, the fact that an empress was born from the Tachibana clan elevated the position of the Tachibana clan in the aristocratic society. In 822, when TACHIBANA no Tsunenushi (Naramaro's grandson) was appointed Kugyo out of the Tachibana clan for the first time in 70 years, and subsequently, an imperial prince born was from Kachiko ascended to the Imperial throne as the Emperor Ninmyo, Kachiko's older brother, TACHIBANA no Ujikimi achieved a remarkable promotion as her maternal relative, and in 844, he ascended through the ranks to become Udaijin (Minister of the Right). On the other hand, TACHIBANA no Hayanari (Naramaro's grandson) of a Tachibana clan's branch line was cast aside after the Jowa Incident, but during the period in which Kachiko maintained her position, the Tachibana clan widely extended its influence as a whole. Daigaku-besso (academic facility for nobles) Gakkanin, an institute in charge of educating the children of the Tachibana clan, was established by Kachiko.

During the mid-9th century to the latter 10th century, the number of the Tachibana clan members who took the post of Kugyo reached 7: TACHIBANA no Minetsugu (1st son of Ujikimi), TACHIBANA no Hiromi (5th generation grandson of Naramaro), TACHIBANA no Sumikiyo (great-grandson of Tsunenushi), TACHIBANA no Yoshitane (grandson of Tsuneyoshi), TACHIBANA no Kimiyori (6th son of Hiromi), TACHIBANA no Yoshifuru (grandson of Hiromi), TACHIBANA no Tsunehira (grandson of Yoshitane). Most of them did not reached more than Sangi (councilor) or Chunagon (Middle Councilor of State), but Yoshifuru ascended to Dainagon (Major Councilor of State). However, the Tachibana clan ended their post of Kugyo as Tsunehira the last, died on the third day after taking the post of Sangi in 983.

After that, the Tachibana clan was degraded to be a middle-lower aristocracy belonging to the social class equivalent to that of Zuryo (the head of the provincial governors), and some of the families of the clan began to be settled in rural provinces. For example, it is said that a descendent of Sangi TACHIBANA no Kimiyori, who went down to Kyushu as Dazaifu to suppress FUJIWARA no Sumitomo, remained in Chikugo as a local samurai, and proclaimed himself the Chikugo Tachibana clan.

In the middle, the descendents of TACHIBANA no Noritaka, who was Yoshifuru's grandson, succeeded as the legitimate line of the clan, and in the Middle Ages, the Susuki family, which was the only Tosho-ke (the hereditary lineage of Court nobles occupying relatively high ranks) from this lineage and succeeded uji no choja (the head of the clan) of the Tachibana clan for generations, was produced. However, the Susuki family also died out in the latter 16th century with the death of Moromitsu SUSUKI (Yukitsugu) who was Tokitsugu YAMASHINA's son and the Susuki family's adoptive son.

Afterwards, in the Edo period, several families, such as the Aoyama family (Shisho [official worker at the Ministry of Central Affaires]) and the Fukai family (Sanja [an assistant to the minor councilor]) working as Geki (Secretary of the Grand Council of State), the Wada family (bensaburai (弁侍))working as Benkan (Controller of the Oversight Department, division of the daijokan responsible for controlling central and provincial governmental offices), used the sei (authentic surname) 'Tachibana,' and among them, the Fukai family is said to have been the direct line of the Susuki family (the family's ancestor, Sadamoto, was said to be Yukitsugu's son). It is also said that Sanyo RAI, a scholar in the latter Edo period, was the descendent of a branch family of the Susuki family.

Principle figures in the Tachibana clan

Agata no INUKAI no Michiyo
TACHIBANA no Moroe (Katsuragi no Okimi [Prince Katsuragi]): First child of Michiyo.

TACHIBANA no Sai (Sai no Okimi): Michiyo's second son.

Muro no Okimi: Michiyo's daughter. FUJIWARA no Fusasaki's wife.

TACHIBANA no Naramaro: Moroe's fist son.

TACHIBANA no Shimadamaro: Naramaro's child.

TACHIBANA no Kiyotomo: Naramaro's child.

TACHIBANA no Kachiko: Kiyotomo's daughter. Empress Danrin.

TACHIBANA no Ujikimi: Kiyotomo's child.

TACHIBANA no Minetsugu: Ujikimi's child.

TACHIBANA no Hayanari: Master of calligraphy.

TACHIBANA no Hiromi: Fifth generation grandson of Moroe. Scholar. He served three consecutive emperors, the Emperor Yozei, the Emperor Koko, and the Emperor Uda.

TACHIBANA no Kimisai: Hiromi's second son.

TACHIBANA no Kimiyori: Hiromi's fifth son. Ancestor of the Chikugo-Tachibana clan, Dazai no gon no sochi. He counterattacked FUJIWARA no Suminori, the younger brother of FUJIWARA no Sumitomo, at Kamachi-jo Castle in Chikugo Province.

TACHIBANA no Toshimichi: Kimiyori's third son. He played an active role to hunt down and kill FUJIWARA no Sumitomo and Suminori. He became the feudal lord of Kamachi in Chikugo Province (Chikugo-Tachibana clan).

Senkan: Child of Toshisada, Kimiyori's fourth son. He propagated the Jodo (Pure Land) sect among the people.

TACHIBANA no Norimitsu: Court noble aristocrat, waka poet, TACHIBANA no Toshimasa's first son.

TACHIBANA no Yoshiyuki: Buddhist name: Shoku. He founded Enkyo-ji Temple.

Zoga: Lived in Tonomine (in present Sakurai City, Nara Prefecture). Also called Tonomine Sentoku.

Kokei: Tani Ajari. Founder of Taimitsu Tani-ryu school.

Noin: Secular name: TACHIBANA no Nagayasu. Waka poet.

TACHIBANA no Michisada: Close confident of FUJIWARA no Michinaga.

Koshikibu no Naishi: Michisada's daughter. Waka poet.

TACHIBANA no Tamenaka: Waka poet.

TACHIBANA no Kiminaga: Samurai aristocrat in the late Heian period. Ninth generation grandson of TACHIBANA no Kimisai. He executed TAIRA no Munemori.

TACHIBANA no Kiminari: Samurai aristocrat in the early Kamakura period. TACHIBANA no Kiminaga's child. Ancestor of the Ogashima clan.

TACHIBANA no Narisue: Lower-class aristocrat in the Kamakura period. Descendent of TACHIBANA no Norimitsu. Kinshu (attendant) of Michiie KUJO.

MINAMOTO no Hisanao: Genji Saga Genji (Minamoto clan). He joined the Chikugo-Tachibana clan, which was the descendent of TACHIBANA no Kimiyori and TACHIBANA no Toshimichi by marrying a daughter, and became the ancestor of the Kamachi clan.

Descendants and others
Chikage KATO: Scholar of Japanese classical literature, waka poet and master of calligraphy, who lived in the mid to latter Edo period. Chikage KATO. He was a self-proclaimed descendant of the Tachibana clan.

Moribe TACHIBANA: Scholar of Japanese classical literature, who lived during the latter Edo period.

TACHIBANA no Akemi: Waka poet, who lived at the end of Edo period. He was a self-proclaimed descendant of the Tachibana clan.