Keishoin (桂昌院)

Keishoin (1627 - August 11, 1705) was a woman in the Edo period. She was a concubine of Iemitsu TOKUGAWA, the third Shogun of the Edo bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) and the biological mother of Tsunayoshi TOKUGAWA, the fifth shogun. Her name was Tama. Her father was Tarobe Munemasa KITAKOJI according to "Tokugawa jikki" (The True Tokugawa Records). Her mother was a daughter of the Nabeta clan. Her older brothers was Michika KITAKOJI (later granted the surname of Honjo to be Michika HONJO) and her younger brother was Munesuke HONJO.

She was born near Daitoku-ji Temple in Kyoto. "Tokugawa jikki" says that her father was Tarobe Munemasa KITAKOJI, who was Keishi (household superintendent) of Mitsuhira NIJO, chief adviser to the Emperor, but there was a rumor before her birth that her father was in fact of a lower class. According to "Omu Rochu-ki" (The Diary of Shigeaki ASAHI, the feudal retainer of Nagoya Domain), when she was granted Juichii (Junior First Rank), there was a rakushu (lampoon) saying she was a daughter of Nishijin Textile Store. In addition, "Gotodaiki" (a famous chronicle describing the Early Modern age, especially between 1680 and 1702) suggested that she was a daughter of a tatami maker. "Genshokanki" (Records between 1688 and 1716 in Japan) describes some years after her death that she had been a younger sister of Japanese radish seller and "Gyokuyoki" (Biography of Kiyoyasu MATSUDAIRA's wife, Keyoin-dono) in later time describes that her father had been Nizaemon running a vegetable store and her father in law was Tarobe Munemasa KITAKOJI.

In 1639, when she was a servant of Eikoin, a concubine of Iemitsu, she was loved at first sight by Iemitsu and appointed as servant of Kasuga no tsubone, becoming a concubine of his. In 1646, she gave birth to Tsunayoshi.

When Iemitsu died in 1651, she tonsured and left O-oku (the inner halls of Edo Castle where the wife of the Shogun and her servants reside) and entered Chisoku-in Temple on Mt. Tsukuba. When Ietsuna TOKUGAWA, the fourth Shogun, died in 1680, Tsunayoshi assumed the post of Shogun and she entered Sannomaru (outer part of the castle) of the Edo-jo Castle. In 1702, she was granted Juichii, the highest rank of women and the name of FUJIWARA no Mitsuko (or Muneko). In 1705, she died at the age of 79.

Her graveyard is Zojo-ji Temple in Minato Ward, Tokyo Prefecture. There is also a monument of Keishoin in Yoshimine-dera Temple located in Nishikyo Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture.

Some suggested that she had got involved in the promulgation of Shorui Awaremi no rei (the law prohibiting cruelty to animals) by Tsunayoshi, who had no sons, because Ryoken she had faith in introduced Takamitsu. However this is denied today because Takamitsu was found not to have been in Edo at that time.

Some say that she was not in good term with Nobuko TAKATSUKASA, the lawful wife of Tsunayoshi, but this is not been confirmed.

She contributed to the restoration of Yoshimine-dera Temple in Kyoto, a part of which had been burnt down in the Onin War.

Some say that the word of 'Tama no koshi' (marrying into wealth) comes from her but this is only a popular account. It has been handed down in Soken-in Temple, tatchu (sub-temples in the site of main temple) of Daitoku-ji Temple that 'Tama' of 'Tama no koshi' means Keishoin. In addition, there is a legend handed down in Imamiya-jinja Shrine (Kyoto City) in Kyoto that people ate its specialty, the round-shaped rice cake named aburimochi (grilled rice cakes) wishing to become as lucky as Tama (meaning Keishoin).