Minamoto no Michichika (源通親)

MINAMOTO no Michichika (1149 - November 14, 1202) was a court noble and statesman who lived in the late Heian period and the early Kamakura period. He was promoted to Shonii (Senior Second Rank) and assumed the position of Naidaijin (minister of the center) and established the golden days of Murakami-Genji (Minamoto clan from Murakami). Usually, he was called Michichika TSUCHIMIKADO and, in Soto Sect, called "Michichika KOGA." His father was Naidaijin, MINAMOTO no Masamichi and his mother was a daughter of FUJIWARA no Yukikane.

Michichika as a pro-Taira family noble

Born as the direct descendant of Mukarami-Genji, Michichika was ranked at Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade) in 1158 at the early stage of the Cloister Government by the Emperor Goshirakawa. Michichika's younger days corresponded to the golden days of TAIRA no Kiyomori and his family, and Michichika established his relation with the Taira family as a close aide of the Emperor Takakura who was supported by Kiyomori. Michichika became a son-in-law of TAIRA no Norimori, who was a younger brother of Kiyomori, and assumed the position of Kurodo no to (Head Chamberlain) and came to be known as the go-between between the Taira family and the Imperial Court. As a result of the confinement of the Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa and the exile of high officials by Kiyomori the following year, Michichika was promoted to Sangi (councillor), and, together with the Taira family, he expressed his approval of disposing Prince Mochihito and transfer of the capital to Fukuhara-kyo and confronted Kanezane KUJO of the Sekkan-ke (the families which produced regents) and his cronies (representative one is FUJIWARA no Teika).

He took over the key state position of the Cloister Government by the Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa.

In January 1181, Michichika was promoted to Jusanmi (Junior Third Grade) and ranked among court nobles. Not before one month since then, however, the Retired Emperor Takakura and TAIRA no Kiyomori died in succession, and Michichika gradually distanced themselves from the Taira family, officially using an excuse that they were in mourning for the Retired Emperor Takakura.

In July 1183, when the Taira family fled to the west with the Emperor Antoku, Michichika followed the Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa, who took shelter in Mt. Hiei and bid farewell to the Taira family. Then, following Yoshinaka KISO's invasion of and subsequent fall in Kyoto, Michichika took FUJIWARA (or TAKAKURA) no Noriko, who was a wet nurse of the new emperor, Emperor Gotoba, who was selected by the Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa, and then FUJIWARA no Ishi as his concubine, who was a elder sister of Moroie MATSUDONO, the former sessho (regent) and a concubine of Yoshinaka KISO.
He obtained the status of the guardian for the new emperor by this on one hand and, on the other hand, he became responsible for the restoration of the Cloister Government of Goshirakawa, who had been pulled down by the Taira family and Yoshinaka, by establishing his status as a close aide of the Cloistered Emperor and selecting the new gengo (an era name) 'Genryaku.'

Confrontation with Alliance of Kanazane KUJO and MINAMOTO no Yoritomo

In May 1185, after the Taira family was overthrown by MINAMOTO no Yoshitsune, Yoshitsune confronted his elder brother MINAMOTO no Yoritomo who was in Kamakura. Although the Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa issued Yoshitsune an inzen (command from the retired emperor) to 'subdue Yoritomo,' Yoritomo's army entered Kyoto and Yoshitsune fled.

Based on his military power, Yoritomo succeeded in having his request accepted for Shugo (military governorship of a province) and Jito (estate steward) being placed in each province etc., Kanezane KUJO, who was a Yoritomo's distant relative, was appointed to Sessho (regent), and the Giso-Kugyo system (system in which affairs of state are administered by ten court nobles) were introduced.
Michichika, who wasChunagon (vice-councilor of state), was selected for Giso-Kugyo, but was worried that this reform the stepping stone for 'establishing samurai government.'
Michichika recommended the Cloistered Emperor and succeeded in making such reform nominal, in 1188, he was appointed to the Genji choja (the head of the Minamoto clan) and, the next year, he was promoted to Shonii (Senior Second Rank).

In 1190, when Yoritomo wanted to receive the title of Seii taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians"), the Cloistered Emperor and Michichika appointed Yoritomo to Ukone no daisho (Major Captain of the Right Division of Inner Palace Guards) and deflected the request.

However, when the Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa died in 1192, he changed his stance quickly and agreed to Kanezane's proposal to appoint Yoritomo to the Seii taishogun to let Yoritomo owe him one. After the death of the Cloistered Emperor, he was appointed as guardian of Goshirakawa's daughter, Imperial Princess Kinshi (Giyomonin) and despite being ordered to manage her properties he did not neglect to maintain his political basis.

Becoming a 'Mastermind in Politics'
At that time, there were two influential consorts in the Emperor Gotoba's court. One was Ninshi KUJO, who was a Chugu (second consort of an emperor) and a daughter of Kanezane KUJO and MINAMOTO no Zaishi, who was a Nyogo and a child of previous marriage of FUJIWARA no Noriko (Michichika's concubine) and an adopted daughter of Michichika.

In 1195, when Zaishi gave birth to the Emperor Tsuchimikado, Michichika used this event as momentum to eliminate Kanezane KUJO in cooperation with Motomichi KONOE, who was a political opponent of Kanezane and a trusted vassal of the late Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa. And, having succeeded in making peace with key persons of the Kamakura bakufu (shogunate), such as MINAMOTO no Yoritomo and OE no Hiromoto, Michichika held a Court Council in November 1196 without Kanezane's presence and resolved appointment of Motomichi to the position of Kanpaku (chancellor) and finalized Kanezane's downfall.

In 1198, the abdication of the Emperor Gotoba and enthronement of the Imperial Prince Tamehito, who was a grandson of Michichika, were realized, and Michichika, who became the maternal grandfather of the new emperor, the Emperor Tsuchimikado concurrently assumed the positions of Dainagon (chief councilor of state) and Innocho Betto (chief administrator of the Retired Emperor's Office). People were afraid of Michichika and called him 'Hishogun' or 'Minamoto Hakuroku' ("Hakuroku" was the Chinese name for Kanpaku).

The next year, just before Michichika assumed the position of Ukone no daisho, he received a report on the 'sudden death of MINAMOTO no Yoritomo.'
It had become customary to put the court into mourning for Yoritomo, who had been a pillar of the state, and postpone personnel change during this time. However he moved to secure the position of Ukone no daisho before the official announcement of Yoritomo's death and, after completing the procedure to appoint MINAMOTO no Yoriie, who was the heir of Yoritomo (and expected to become the next shogun) to Sakone no chujo (Middle Captain of the Left Division of Inner Palace Guards) by recommendation of Ukone no daisho at the same time and while placing the court in mourning. The same year, Michichika was promoted to the naidaijin (minister of the center). As the Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa and MINAMOTO no Yoritomo had already died and Kanezane KUJO was overthrown, the entire Imperial Court, bakufu and In heeded Michichika's opinions and the situation that make people remember the former regency government was created.

Michichika was also good at waka and appointed to a wakadokoro yoryudo (a key member of waka house) and took the initiative in planning new chokusen wakashu (Imperial Anthology of Japanese Poems) which led to the compilation of 'Shin Kokin Waka Shu' (New Collection of Ancients and Modern Poems) (Michichika's waka was taken in many wakashu, collection of Japanese poems.
However, FUJIWARA no Sadaie, who was the top waka poet at that time, was personally a close friend to Michitomo HORIKAWA, who was the second son of Michichika and an anthologist, hated Michichika's political behavior and it is said that he Sadaie was extremely angry and called Michichika "the second coming of Dokyo.")

In 1202, Michichika died of illness at the age of 54.

Career as an Official
Lunar calendar used for the dates. On September 6, 1158, ranked at Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade).

On Nobember 15, 1161, assumed the position of Jibu no Gon no Taifu (acting senior assistant minister of the Ministry of Civil Administration).

On February 24, 1165, promoted to Jugoinojo (Junior Fifth Rank, Upper Grade) and retained his position as Jibu no Gon no Taifu.

On December 14, 1166, promoted to Shogoinoge (Senior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade) and retained his position as Jibu no Gon no Taifu.

On March 11, 1167, transferred to the Ukonoe no Gon no Shosho (acting minor captain of the Right Division of Headquarters of Inner Palace Guard). In this year, he was allowed to use prohibited colors.

On February 22, 1168, promoted to Jushiinoge (Junior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade) and retained his position as Ukonoe no Gon no Shosho. On February 28, also assumed the position of Kaga no Suke (Assistant governor of Kaga Province). On April 4, admitted to the court of the new emperor (Emperor Takakura). On September 14, promoted to Shoshiinoge (Senior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade) and retained his position as Ukonoe no Gon no Shosho.

On March 3, 1171, transferred to the position of Ukone no Gon no chujo (Provisional Middle Captain of the Right Division of Inner Palace Guards).

On March 3, 1177, also assumed the position of Kaga no Gon no Suke (acting assistant governor of Kaga Province).

On January 31, 1179, admitted to the court of the Crown Prince (Imperial Prince Tokihito, later the Emperor Antoku).

On March 6, 1179, assumed the position of Kurodo no to (Head Chamberlain). Retained his position as Ukonoe no Gon no Chujo. On January 29, 1180, also assumed the position of Chugu Gon no suke (Provisional Assistant Master of the Consort's Household, for TAIRA no Tokuko, who was the Chugu (a second consort of the emperor) for the Emperor Takakura).

On March 3, 1180, assumed the position of Sangi (royal advisor). Retained his position as Sakonoe no Gon no chujo and Chugu no Gon no suke. On March 29, also assumed the position of Betto (chief secretary) for the new retired emperor (the Retired Emperor Takakura).

On January 28, 1181, promoted to Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank) and retained his position as Sangi, Sakonoe no Gon no chujo, Chugu no Gon no suke and Harima gon no kami (provisional governor of Harima Province). On May 18, also assumed the position of Harima no Gon no Kami. On January 18, 1182, resigned from the Chugu no Gon no suke as the Chugushiki (Chugu's secretariat) was discontinued when the Chugu became Nyoin (title for consort for the former emperor) (Kenreimonin).

On February 8, 1183, promoted to Shosanmi (Senior Third Rank) and retained his position as Sangi, Ukonoe no Gon no chujo and Harima no Gon no kami.

On March 11, 1184, transferred to the position of Gon Chunagon (a provisional vice-councilor of state).

On March 11, 1187, promoted to Junii (Junior Second Rank) and retained his position as Gon Chunagon.

In August 1188, assumed the position of Junna Shogaku Ryoin Betto (the betto, or a senior bureaucrat moved from outside, for Junna Shogaku Ryoin school).

On February 1, 1189, promoted to Shonii (Senior Second Rank) and retained his position as Gon Chunagon. August 30, also assumed the position of Uemon no kami (Captain of the Right Division of Outer Palace Guards).

On August 26, 1190, transferred to the position of Chunagon (vice-councilor of state). On August 27, also assumed the position of Kebiishi no betto (Superintendent of the Imperial Police). Retained his position as Uemon no kami.

On March 5, 1191, resigned from the Kebiishi no betto.

On January 10, 1194, resigned from the Uemon no kami.

On December 20, 1195, promoted to Gon Dainagon (provisional major counselor).

On February 19, 1198, also assumed the position of Gotobain no betto (chief administrator of the Retired Emperor's Office).

On February 23, 1199, also assumed the position of Ukone no daisho. On July 23, transferred to the position of Naidaijin. On July 24, retained his position as Ukone no daisho. On May 18, also assumed the position of Togu no fu (an official in charge of education of the Crown Prince, Imperial Prince Morihira, later Emperor Juntoku).

On November 14, 1202, he died. He was 54 years old and his position was Naidaijin, Shonii (Senior Second Rank) and concurrently Ukone no daisho and Togu no fu.

His Literary Works

"Takakurain in Itsukushima Gyoko Ki" (The record of the visit of the Retired Emperor Takakura to Itsukushima), 1180, a travel diary when he accompanied the royal visit of the Retire Emperor Takakura to Itsukushima in Aki Province. Written in literary Japanese and Chinese words.
("Gunsho ruiju"(Collection of historical documents compiled by Hokiichi HANAWA): "Iwanami Shin Nihon Koten Bungaku Taikei - Chusei Nikki Kiko Shu" (New Iwanami's Japan Classic Literatures - Collection of travel literatures written in the Medieval period))

"Takakurain Shoka Ki" (The record of the end of the life of the Retired Emperor Takakura), 1181, record of conditions at the time of the Retired Emperor Takakura's death and eulogy. Written in literary Japanese and Chinese words.

Both of them have been handed down as "MINAMOTO no Michichika Nikki" (The Diary of MINAMOTO no Michichika).
Kasama Shoin, Bensei Publishing Inc., (Bensei-sha Bunko)

Michichika's Descendant
His heir, MINAMOTO no Michimune became a Sangi, but he died young at the age of thirty-one in 1198. However, the Emperor Gosaga was born between Michimune's daughter, MINAMOTO no Tsushi and the Emperor Tsuchimikado and the Michichika's family became the maternal relative of the emperors for two generation, namely Emperor Tsuchimikado and Emperor Gosaga.

Under the pressure of the Saionji family, which emerged later, the prosperity experienced during the time of Michichika could not be brought back, but Michichika's children, Michitomo HORIKAWA, Michiteru KOGA (heir), Sadamichi TSUCHIMIKADO and Michikata NAKANOIN, established the Horikawa family, the Koga family, Tsuchimikado family and Nakanoin family, respectively, and their family names were maintained until the Meiji Restoration (just for information, the Kitabatake family was a illegitimate lineage of the Nakanoin family and the Iwakura family was that of the Koga family).

The most well-known person in history was the sixth son between Michichika and FUJIWARA no Ishi. The boy, who experienced the death of his parents when he was very young, became a priest and named Dogen. It was 24 years following Michichika's death when he came back from the Southern Sung and opened the 'Soto sect' of Zen Buddhism.