Fujiwara no Fuhito (藤原不比等)

FUJIWARA no Fuhito (659 - September 13, 720) was a Kugyo (high court noble) who lived from the Asuka Period through the early Nara Period. Fuhito was a favorite retainer of Emperor Tenchi. He was born the second son of FUJIWARA no Kamatari. Some documents describe his name as 史 (Fuhito), not as 不比等 (Fuhito). In historical materials including 'Kofuku-ji Engi' (origin of Kofuku-ji Temple), 'Okagami' (The Great Mirror), 'Kugyobunin' (directory of court nobles) and 'Sonpi Bunmyaku' (Bloodlines of Noble and Base), Fuhito was referred to as an 'illegitimate child' of the Emperor Tenchi. His shi (posthumous name) was 文忠公 and his 国公 (posthumous name based on demesne) was Tankaiko.

FUJIWARA no Fuhito was a child of FUJIWARA no Kamatari who received the family name of FUJIWARA from the Emperor Tenchi. In 698, it was decided that only the direct descendants of Fuhito would have the right to succeed the FUJIWARA clan and hold the post of Daijokan (Grand Council of State). Kamatari's other sons succeeded the NAKATOMI clan, an original family name of Kamatari, and were assigned to religious service as Jingikan (an officer of the institution for dedicating to religious ceremony), treated quite differently from Fuhito. It is therefore not an overstatement to say that Fuhito founded the Fujiwara clan.

The name 'Fuhito' means 'incomparably better than other people'.

Brief Personal History
His father, Kamatari, died when Fuhito was 11 years old. Although Fuhito, like his father, had a close relationship with the Omi Imperial Court, he, not having taken any side during the Jinshin War (a war over succession to the imperial throne between the Prince Otomo and the Prince Oama) because of his age (13th year), did not receive any punishment from the Omi Imperial Court (the Prince Otomo) or any reward from the opposing the Tenmu Imperial Court (the Prince Oama). However, because some influential officials who were from the same clan (the NAKATOMI clan) as Kamatari in the Omi Imperial Court such as NAKATOMI no Kane were punished as important figures in the Court, people from the NAKATOMI (FUJIWARA) clan were driven out of the inner circle of the Tenmu Imperial Court. Fuhito therefore lost the backing of powerful figures in the Court and had to start from a lower rank to establish himself.

After having worked successfully for the enthronement of the Prince Karu (the Emperor Monmu), a son of the Prince Kusakabe, he appeared on the political scene as the guardian of the emperor. With the support of Agata no INUKAI no Michiyo (later TACHIBANA no Michiyo), a dowager, Fuhito deepened the relations with the Imperial family and married off his daughter, Miyako, to the Emperor Monmu, to both of whom Fuhito's grandson, the Prince Obito (later Emperor Shomu), was born. Furthermore, Fuhito married off his another daughter, Komyoshi, who was born to TACHIBANA no Michiyo, to the Emperor Shomu. After Fuhito died, Komyoshi was enthroned as the Empress Komyo with the help of Fujiwara four brothers, the sons of Fuhito, and became the first subject who turned into an empress.

Fuhito moved Yamashina-dera Temple, one of the Uji-dera Temple (temple built for praying clan's glory), to Nara and renamed it Kofuku-ji Temple. Also, he was actively involved in compiling Taiho Ritsuryo (Taiho Code) and later Yoro Ritsuryo Code, but he died of an illness in 720 and the compilation work was halted.

Fuhito and his sons (Fujiwara four brothers) built a strong foundation for the future prosperity, initiating the first golden age of the FUJIWARA clan.


Born in 659 (aged 1).

October 16, 669: His father, Kamatari, died (aged 11).

February 26, 688: Appointed as jikikoshi (the sixteenth grade of jikiko rank for vassals of the forty-eight grades of cap rank, which corresponded to Jugoinoge [Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade of Taiho Code]) judge (aged 31).

Year unknown: Promoted to jikikoni (the twelfth grade of jikidai rank for vassals of the forty-eight grades of cap rank, which corresponded to Jushiinoge [Junior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade of Taiho Code]).

August 20, 697: Had his daughter, Miyako, enter into court (aged 39).

Year unknown: Promoted to Chunagon (vice-councilor of state).

March 21, 701: Promoted to Shosani Dainagon (Senior Third Rank chief councilor of state) from Chunagon (aged 43).

December 27, 701: A grandchild, Prince Obito (later Emperor Shomu), was born (aged 43).

Before January 14, 704
Promoted to Junii (Junior Second Rank) (aged 47).

January 11, 708: Promoted to Shonii (Senior Second Rank) (aged 51).

March 13, 708: Promoted to Udaijin (Minister of the right) (aged 51).

August 3, 720: Died (aged 63).

October 23, 720: Posthumously promoted to Shoichii Daijo-daijin (Senior First Rank Grand Minister) and conferred the posthumous names of 文忠公 and Tankaiko.