Gio (妓王)

Gio (year of birth unknown - September 11, 1172?) was a Shirabyoshi (female dancer who performed traditional Japanese dances) during the end of Heian Period. She was born in Omi Province. Gio '妓王' can be also written as '祇王' in Japanese.

Personal Profile

Gio was the daughter of 江部九郎時久, a Kenin (retainer) of the Ise-Heishi (Taira clan).
She was born in Gio Village in Omi Province (present-day Yasu City, Shiga Prefecture.)
The still-standing Gio-ji Temple was built where Gio was born in order to pray to the Buddha for her happiness.

As well as her mother Toji and her sister Gijo, Gio became a famous Shirabyoshi in Kyoto, gaining the affection of TAIRA no Kiyomori, as well as appearing in Heike Monogatari (The Tale of the Heike) (Volume 1, Section 6 'Gio'). To save villagers who were suffering from a drought, Gio asked Kiyomori to build a water channel in her hometown Yasu. The river still exists today and was named Gioi-gawa River. Before long, Kiyomori's affection changed to Hotoke-gozen, and Gio, her mother Toji and sister Gijo became nuns at the Sagaojo-in Temple (present-day Gio-ji Temple). It is believed that she was 21 years old at the time.

A monument in Gio-ji Temple has the inscription '性如禅尼承安二年壬辰八月十五日寂.'
It is believed that '性如禅尼' refers to Gio and she died on September 4 of 1172.