The Sanjonishi Family (三条西家)
The Sanjonishi Family is a house of a branch line of the House of Ogimachi-Sanjo, of the Kanin Line, of the House of Fujiwara North of the Fujiwara clan, as well as a court noble having the house status of the house of Minister (Old houses, or Uchiuchi). Although in the house of a branch line the house status excelled as compared with the head family (the Ogimachi-Sanjo Family), it was exceptionally ranked among the three houses of ministers and frequently produced ministers of the right from the Muromachi period through the early Edo period; therefore, the house status was considered to be approximately equivalent to seigake (one of the statuses of court nobility that is inferior to Sekke but superior to minister). Although in the house of a branch line the house status excelled as compared with the head family (the Ogimachi-Sanjo Family), it was exceptionally ranked among the three houses of ministers and frequently produced ministers of the right from the Muromachi period through the early Edo period; therefore, the house status was considered to be approximately equivalent to seigake (one of the statuses of court nobility that is inferior to Sekke but superior to minister). It is also called Nishisanjo. The family stipend during the Edo period was 502 koku. After the Meiji Restoration, the family was granted a title, peerage of count and changed the name to Nishisanjo. However, the family later returned to its original name of Sanjonishi.
During the period of the late Northern and Southern Courts (Japan), the original forefather was Dainagon (chief councilor of state) Kintoki SANJONISHI, who was the second son of Sanetsugu OGIMACHISANJO. Sanekiyo SANJONISHI, the child of Kintoki, was promoted only to the post of chunagon (vice-councilor of state), but in the next generation Kinyasu SANJONISHI was adopted from the Ogimachi-Sanjo Family (the head family) and inherited the house status of the biological parents' house in order to obtain the house status of a ministerial house.
Over the generations the family excelled in waka; in the late Muromachi period Sanetaka SANJONISHI was famous as a waka poet and calligrapher; and in the Sengoku (the Warring States) period (Japan) Kineda SANJONISHI and Saneki SANJONISHI were familiar with the Chinese and Japanese classics; these three are called the three generations of Sanjonishi. After Saneki SANJONISHI, the study of waka by the House of Sanjonishi should have been inherited by Kinkuni SANJONISHI, but since he was still young, Yusai HOSOKAWA, a high disciple of Saneki SANJONISHI, received teachings in Kokinshu （Collection of Poems Ancient and Modern) as an intermediary, and Yusai passed it on to Kinkuni once he had reached the age of adulthood. However, because Kinkuni SANJONISHI had died young, Yusai kept a promise that was made between Yusai and his master Saneki before he died, and Yusai passed it on to Saneeda SANJONISHI. After Saneeda SANJONISHI, it was inherited by Sanenori SANJONISHI. Thereafter, through the Edo period the art of waka became the Sanjonishi Family's studies of the family business. In recent years, the Reizei Family has become famous for being descended from FUJIWARA no Teika; however, from the Muromachi period through the Meiji period the house of Sanjonishi, which passed on the traditions of the head and branch lines of the NIJO Family, was the mainstream of poetry as the successor to Teika. (This Nijo Family was a totally different line from the Nijo Family of the Sekkan (regent and senior regent) houses. It might become clearer to say that it was the Mikohidari Family with a different name. However, as a lineage this family line failed in the early Muromachi period, and therefore the Sanjonishi family inherited this academic lineage. The Reizei Family, together with the Kyogoku Family, was a branch family of this Nijo Family. ) Additionally, the family was notable in the art of fragrance. Currently, the House is famous as the head house of Oie style art of fragrance rather than the study of waka.
Kasuga no Tsubone, a woman in the early Edo period who gained notoriety as a menoto (a woman providing breastfeeding to a highborn baby) of the third-generation Shogun of the Edo shogunate, Iemitsu TOKUGAWA, was also related to the Sanjonishi Family; she made an arrangement to become an adopted sister of Saneeda SANJONISHI, whereupon she served the Imperial Palace as a daughter of the Sanjonishi Family and was given the title of Tsubone. The family head at the end of the Edo period was Suetomo SANJONISHI, who had many achievements in the Meiji Restoration as one of the so-called exiles of the seven nobles, and who gained fame as a waka master of the Emperor Meiji. The family head in the Showa period was Kimimasa SANJONISHI, who worked as a professor at Jissen Women's University and dedicated considerable effort to restoring and nurturing the art of fragrance as the head house of the Oie-style art of fragrance. Kimimasa's wife is Princess Kuninomiya Nobuko, a younger sister of Empress Kojun. Kimimasa was inherited by Sanekane SANJONISHI, and Sanekane also worked hard in developing the art of fragrance. Jitsuei, the younger brother of Sanekane, inherited Kunihisa KUNI, which is the maternal aunt's house. The current family head is Kinyoshi SANJONISHI, who is active in spreading the art of fragrance.
Written documents of the Sanjonishi Family are variously housed in institutions such as Gakushuin University, the University of Tokyo, the National Archives of Japan, Kokuritsu Kokubungaku Rekishi Shiryoukan, Waseda University, University of California, Tenri University and Nihon University.