Abe no Ariyo (安倍有世)

ABE no Ariyo (1327 - March 9, 1405) was the Onmyoji (diviner) and Kugyo (the top court officials) who was active from the period of the Northern and Southern Courts to the beginning of Muromachi period. His father was ABE no Yasukichi and his son was ABE no Yasutsugu (future ABE no Arimori). He was the fourteenth descendant of ABE no Seimei. He was the first Onmyoji (Master of Yin yang) with Kugyo position who established the foundation of later the Tsuchimikado family. His name was also indicated as 'Ariyo TSUCHIMIKADO' in some documents, however, referring to Ariyo as 'TSUCHIMIKADO' is a mistake since it is said that the birth of Tsuchimikado family was in the latter half of Muromachi period.


The Abe clan (court noble) who was famous for Onmyodo (way of Yin and Yang; occult divination system based on the Taoist theory of the five elements) was split into several side lines in the period of the Northern and Southern Courts after the generation of ABE no Seimei; they were competing for the position of 'Soke' (head family) calling themselves the main line of the Abe clan. Ariyo became Oiryo (Bureau of Palace Kitchens under the Ministry of the Imperial Household) at the age of 18 years old, and his talent as the Onmyoji which was his family business flourished from early on. When he was 28, he was assigned to bugyo (magistrate) of traditional kishimai (court dances and music) which was passed down from ancient Abe clan; the ancestor of the Abe family, in Daijo-sai festival (a festival to celebrate the succession of an emperor) of the Emperor Gokogon. The services of the bugyo of Kishimai in Daijo-sai festival had been allowed only for the head of clan or Uji no choja (a common clan chieftain) of the Abe clan since ancient times. The ability of Ariyo as Onmyoji reached to the level of a person who can be a representative of Abe clan. However, the other side lines which the line of Ariyo conflicted with at that time furiously protested that decision according to Kinkata TOIN's diary "Entairyaku" (Diary of Kinkata TOIN). Ariyo was assigned to Onmyoryo (Bureau of Divination) that lead Onmyoji in the following year at the age of 29 years old; under the fierce conflict between the side lines of Abe clan, he was forced into resignation after only 3 years.

Thereafter, Ariyo was promoted to Sakyo no daibu (Master of the Eastern Capital Offices) and served on official affairs, brushing up his skills. A fateful meeting came when Ariyo was 52 years old (1378). He gained the trust of the third Muromachi shogun, Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA when he made a prayer for Yoshimitsu and it worked. Ever since then, Yoshimitsu asked Ariyo whenever he needed to make a prayer or have a fortune-telling; Ariyo served Yoshimitsu focusing on Yoshimitsu's requests over requests from the Emperor or Sekkan-ke (line of regents and advisers).

Even after entering the Muromachi period, the court noble society still believed in the effects held by prayer and fortune-telling conducted by Onmyoji. Ariyo's authority as a first-class Onmyoji at the time was remarkable. The importance placed on Ariyo by Yoshimitsu acted as a kind of mental 'pressure' against the court noble society. Meanwhile, the position as Onmyoji was looked down on by the court noble society, and treated it as 'background work' despite its necessity. Ariyo came to think that he would follow Yoshimitsu who had great influence and was free from the customs of the court noble society to benefit himself and his family in the future.

And, it worked out immediately. It was only a year after Ariyo's meeting with Yoshimitsu that he was allowed to enter into the Imperial Court. In 1384, Ariyo was granted Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank), and became a court noble at the age of 58. It was the first incident in 500 years for the Abe clan, thus, this made it impossible for someone to call himself uji no choja (the head of the clan); the competition for 'soke' was over with the result of Ariyo's lopsided victory. Ariyo kept serving Yoshimitsu as Yoshimitsu's aide during that time. When an earthquake occurred in Kyoto in 1391, Ariyo advised Yoshimitsu that the earthquake indicated a 'sign of heiran' (disturbance). In response to Ariyo's words, Yoshimitsu secretly enhanced armaments, and soon after news of the Meitoku War arrived. After 1394, a prayer which included an element of a national event including 'Godan-ho' (the five wise men placing method) took place in the Muromachi Imperial palace or Rokuon-ji Temple and which was also previously supposed to be performed by an emperor was exclusively assigned to Ariyo, which did not change until his death. When Ariyo carried out a foretelling for Yoshimitsu in 1399, he said that there were indications of a war brewing; Yoshimitsu made preparations, at which time, news of the Oei-War arrived. Nowadays, it is hard to believe the predictions made by Ariyo. However, it is a fact that Yoshimitsu utilized it for political affairs and used it to suppress opposing forces.

This, Ariyo who had ascended the career ladder to an incredibly high rank; Junii (Junior Second Rank), Sangi (councilor) in Gyobusho (Ministry of Justice) for Onmyoji, made the world know his name; the word of 'Ariyo' was used as a slang term to refer to Onmyoji at that time. Afterwards, Tsuchimikado family; the descendant of Ariyo would keep reigning not only Onmyodo but also astronomy and almanac fields until the Meiji period.