Ichijo Kaneyoshi (一条兼良)

Kaneyoshi ICHIJO (his given name can also be pronounced "Kaneka," January 21, 1693 - September 21, 1751) was a Kugyo (top court official) in the mid-Edo period. He was a close adviser of Emperor Sakuramachi, remaining at the center of the court for fourteen years, reaching Juichii (Junior First Rank) and holding the positions of Kanpaku (Chief Adviser to the Emperor) Sadaijin (Minister of the Left) and Daijo-daijin (Grand Minister of State).
He also used the name 'Goenjoji.'

Career

He was from the Takatsukasa family, one of the five Sekkan-ke families that provided regents and advisers to the Emperor. He was adopted by the Ichijo family since his maternal aunt, who was married to Kaneteru ICHIJO, did not have any sons. Influenced by his adoptive father, who was known as a book collector, he studied hard and was highly praised as 'a talent of the period' by Iehiro KONOE, who would later be a political enemy. In 1701, at the age of ten, he celebrated his coming of age, and three years later joined the Kugyo when he was appointed Jusanmi Gon Chunagon (Provisional Vice-Councilor of State with the Junior Third Rank). In 1705, his adoptive father died and he became the head of the Ichijo family at the age of fourteen (in his fourteenth year). At this time, Motohiro KONOE and his son, Iehiro, were in conflict with the Retired Emperor Reigen, who headed a cloistered government and was a maternal relative of Ienobu TOKUGAWA, the Seii Taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians") of the Edo bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun), and by having Iehiro's daughter made a nyogo (emperor's consort) wielded immense power within the Imperial court. In contrast, Kaneyoshi was opposed to this, together with his brother, Kanehiro TAKATSUKASA, and paternal cousins, Sukezane KUJO and Tsunahira NIJO (their father, Kaneharu KUJO, was the brother of Kaneyoshi's father, Fusasuke TAKATSUKASA). After that, he was appointed Naidaijin (Minister of the Center) in 1722.

In 1728, Kaneyoshi as well as being Udaijin (Minister of the Right), also held the additional post of Togu no Fu, in charge of the education of Crown Prince Teruhito. Extremely knowledgeable and with a thorough knowledge of Yusoku kojitsu (court and samurai rules of ceremony and etiquette) and Suika Shinto (a mix of Shinto and Confucianism), he gained the confidence of the Crown Prince, who had his sights on reviving court rituals and implementing organizational reform. During this time, he was appointed to Juichii (Junior First Rank) in 1732 and the Crown Prince was enthroned as Emperor Sakuramachi in 1735.

On September 23, 1737, Emperor Sakuramachi, who had begun ruling directly after losing his father, the Retired Emperor Nakamikado, appointed Kaneyoshi, who was Sadaijin at that time, to be Kanpaku. After becoming Kanpaku, Kaneyoshi asked the Edo bakufu for assistance in reviving the Daijo-sai festival (a festival to celebrate the succession of an emperor), which had drained the finances when it was revived once for Emperor Higashiyama and so was not held for Emperor Nakamikado. The shogun at the time, Yoshimune TOKUGAWA, agreed with the revival of the traditional rituals in court and Emperor Sakuramachi's Daijo-sai festival was held in 1738. Also, in 1739, at a request by Yoshimune, he recommended four kuge (court nobles), Michimi NAKANOIN, Mitsuhide KARASUMARU, Kintomi SANJONISHI, and Tamehisa REIZEI, who were outstanding waka poets of the period and had them present their waka to Yoshimune.

These two to three years were extremely significant for Kaneyoshi and Emperor Sakuramachi. The direct reason for Kaneyoshi's appointment to Kanpaku in the first place was the death of the former Kanpaku, Yoshitada NIJO, from disease, but Daijo-daijin Iehisa KONOE, who maintained his domination of the court for three generations through Motohiro and Iehiro KONOE, also died of a disease the same year, and Munehiro NIJO, who had just become Udaijin, died from disease the following year soon after his father, Yoshitada. As a result, during the five years from 1738 to 1743, the position of head of each of the Sekkan-ke famlies (the Ichijo family, the Konoe family, the Nijo family, the Kujo family, and the Takatsukasa family) was unsettled, as seen in the following list.

The Ichijo Family
Family head, Kaneyoshi (Kanpaku Sadaijin from forty-seven years old to fifty-two years old)
Heir, Michika (became Sakone no daisho (Major Captain of the Left Division of Inner Palace Guards) at the age of seventeen and Udaijin at twenty-two)
The Konoe Family
Family head, Uchisaki KONOE (became Gon Dainagon (Provisional Chief Councilor of State) at eleven years old and Naidaijin at sixteen years old)
The Nijo Family
Family head, Munemoto NIJO (became Jugoinojo (Junior Fifth Rank, Upper Grade) at twelve years old (coming of age ceremony the following year) and Gon Dainagon and Ukone no Daisho (Major Captain of the Right Division of Inner Palace Guards) at seventeen years old)
The Kujo Family
Family head, Tanemoto KUJO (Gon Dainagon and Ukone no Daisho at fourteen years old and died when he was Naidaijin at nineteen years old); succeded in 1743 by his uncle, Naozane KUJO (a priest by the name of Gyogen, he returned to secular life and became Shogoinoge (Senior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade) at twenty-seven years old and had his coming of age ceremony the following year)
The Takatsukasa Family
Family head, Mototeru TAKATSUKASA (became Gon Dainagon at twelve years old and died when he was Naidaijin at seventeen years old); succeded by Sukehira TAKATSUKASA in 1743 (from the Kaninnomiya family and at eight years old (he had his coming of age ceremony two years later) was without any rank or position

In addition, Munemoto NIJO was Tanemoto KUJO's brother, Mototeru TAKATSUKASA was Kaneyoshi ICHIJO's son, and Sukehira TAKATSUKASA was at one time adopted by Kaneyoshi ICHIJO but entered the Takatsukasa family to succeed his brother, Mototeru TAKATSUKASA. Also, in 1743, the position of Naidaijin was held by Tanemoto KUJO (at nineteen years old but died), then Mototeru TAKATSUKASA (at seventeen years old but died), followed by Uchisaki KONOE (at sixteen years old).

During this time, the heads of each family, except the Ichijo, all came to power and died young, a situation that made it difficult for the Sekkan-ke to fulfill its role (the oldest, Naozane KUJO, was politically inexperienced, having entered a temple when he was young). Also, because the Edo bakufu's policy for controling the Imperial Court excluded families below the rank of Seigake from the highest political decision-making process, Kaneyoshi and his heir, Michika, as Ministers of the Left and Right, were left in control of, but unable to make progress in, government affairs (in addition, Michika was appointed Nairan (in charge of inspecting documents submitted to the Emperor) when Kaneyoshi was temporarily forced to rest due to paralysis in 1739). On the other hand, this situation meant there were no obstacles to prevent the policy that Emperor Sakuramachi and Kaneyoshi were promoting.

Emperor Sakuramachi and Kaneyoshi ICHIJO together revived Imperial court events that had died out, starting with the Daijo-sai festival, followed by the Niiname-sai festival (ceremonial offering by the Emperor of newly-harvested rice to the deities) in 1740, and the Hoheishi (imperial messenger) to Usa-jingu Shrine and Kashii-gu Shrine in 1744, the start of the traditional Chinese sixty-year cycle. In parallel with this, from around 1738, when the Daijo-sai festival was revived, the Emperor and Kaneyoshi had begun preparations to overhaul the Imperial Court. The plan to reform the court proceded gradually, beginning on January 25, 1747, with Kaneyoshi passing the position of Kanpaku to his son, Michika, who was serving as Nairan, and being promoted to Daijo-daijin, and when Emperor Sakuramachi abdicated in favor of Emperor Momozono and started a cloistered government six months later, the entry of Kaneyoshi's daughter, Tomiko, to the court was decided quickly (though it actually happened in November 1755, after Kaneyoshi died).

However, after the Retired Emperor Sakuramachi died suddenly at a young age of thirty one years old on May 28, 1750, Kaneyoshi came under a hail of criticism for his long-time leadership of the court. On October 23 in the same year, Michika, who was Emperor Momozono's Sessho, or Regent, introduced the full-scale reform 'Kani Gojyo' (Imperial decision on official ranks) proposed by the late Retired Emperor and Kaneyoshi, in accordance with the Retired Emperor's final wishes. This limited the number of jiju (Chamberlains) and members of the Konoefu (the Headquarters of the Inner Palace Guards), prohibited adopted children of an underage Emperor from becoming heads of temples, and imposed strict regulations on promoting officials from the jigenin, a low rank of ancient Japanese nobility below the Tosho-ke (relatively high ranking hereditary nobles), who had reached the position of Shodaibu (aristocracy lower than Kugyo). In addition, by suspending apppointments of Shikan (Shinto priest) at temples, official ranks for Shodaibu of monzeki (successor of a temple), and names for bokan (top priests) at monzeki temples (where priests of noble or imperial lineage lived) and at both Higashi and Nishi Hongan-ji Temples, which until now the Court hadn't concerned itself with, the reforms proposed changing the fundamental structure of the kuge, which tended to be very formal.

The fact that the Retired Emperor and Kaneyoshi had made this important decision without telling other Sekkan-ke, buke tenso (liaison officers between the imperial court and the bakufu), or the Edo bakufu itself created a disturbance within and outside of the court. In particular, the heads of three Sekkan-ke families, Uchisaki KONOE (Sadaijin, twenty-two years old), Munemoto NIJO (Udaijin, twenty-four years old), Naozane KUJO (Naidaijin and Sakone no daisho, thirty-four years old) were extremely furious. Boys at the start of the thirteen-year leadership of the court by Emperor Sakuramachi and Kaneyoshi, upon reaching adulthood they planned to gain participation in government affairs in court. They pressured Ieko NIJO (also known as Seikimonin), a nyogo of Emperor Sakuramachi, and the bakufu to act.

Also, buke tenso Kanetane HIROHASHI and Mitsutsuna YANAGIHARA, who were worried about conflict against the bakufu, attempted to persuade young Michika. As a result, on January 24, 1751, Michika, yielding to the pressure, virtually withdrew 'Kani Gojyo' ('Kani Gojyo' itself was accepted, but the most important items, such as suspending appointments of Shikan at shrines, official ranks for Shodaibu of monzeki, and names for boukan at monzeki temples and both Higashi and Nishi Hongan-ji Temples, were dropped). Kaneyoshi was shocked by this decision and became sick in frustration next year. After resigning from the position of Daijo-daijin, he was given the honorary rank of Jusangu (usually given to the Great Empress Dowager, Empress Dowager, and Empress) for distinguished service, but died soon after at the age of sixty.

Kaneyoshi's diary "Kaneyoshi Koki" and its companion volumes (including the collection of his writings "Kyugyokusa" (求玉鈔) and "Tamamo Hiki" (confidential record) that describe how the official rank reform happened) are still in existence.

Career

1701: He had his coming-of-age ceremony, and was made Shogoinoge (Senior Fifth Rank), Ukone no shosho (Minor Captain of the Right Division of Inner Palace Guards), and Sakone no chujo (Middle Captain of the Left Division of Inner Palace Guards). 1702: He was made Jushiinoge (Junior Forth Rank, Lower Grade) and Shoshiinoge (Senior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade). 1704: He was made Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank) and Gon Chunagon. 1705: He was the Geben (person in charge of the main gate during important events) at the Toka no Sechie Imperial Ceremony. 1706: He was made Shosanmi (Senior Third Rank). 1708: He resigned as Sakone no chujo and became Gon Dainagon. 1709: He was made Junii (Junior Second Rank). 1718: He was given the additional post as Sakone no daisho. 1719: He was made Shonii (Senior Second Rank). 1722: He was made Naidaijin (appointed on June 16).
1723: He resigned as Naidaijin and then was reappointed.(*)
1726: He resigned as Sakone no daisho and was made Udaijin (appointed on October 10). 1728: He was given the additional post of Togu no fu. 1732: He was made Juichii (Junior First Rank). 1735: With Emperor Sakuramachi's enthronement, he resigned as Togu no fu. 1737: He was made Kanpaku on September 23 and Sadaijin on November 28. 1745: He resigned as Sadaijin on March 15. 1746: He was made Daijo-daijin on April 18 and resigned as Kanpaku on January 25 in the following year. 1751: He resigned as Daijo-daijin (on September 18), received Jusangu, and died.

* For a period of seven days from March 7 (lunar calendar), the position of Naidaijin was assigned to Takayoshi KUSHIGE and Toyotada HIROHATA. After both of them had served as Naidaijin (the post was passed from Kushige to Hirohata on March 10), Kaneyoshi was reappointed on March 14.

Family

He was the youngest son of Fusasuke TAKATSUKASA, a former Kanpaku. His mother was a daughter of Sangi (councilor) Tokiyuki YAMASHINA. His lawful wife was a daughter of Tsunanaga ASANO of Hiroshima Domain, and his second wife was an adopted daughter (grandchild) of Tsunamasa IKEDA of Okayama Domain. He was adopted by Kaneteru (also known as Fuyutsune) ICHIJO, a former Kanpaku, and became head of the Ichijo family.