Taira no Tokiko (平時子)

TAIRA no Tokiko (1126 - April 25, 1185) was a woman during the late Heian period. She was TAIRA no Kiyomori's officially recognized wife. She was awarded the rank of Junii (Junior Second Rank). She is also known as Nii no ama. She was the daughter of TAIRA no Tokinobu, a middle-rank court noble, and her mother was a concubine (family background unknown) of Nijo no Omiya (Imperial Princess Reishi). She was the older maternal half-sister of TAIRA no Tokitada, Dainagon (Chief Councillor of State), and older paternal half-sister of TAIRA no Shigeko, who was also known as Kenshunmonin. She bore children to Kiyomori, including TAIRA no Munemori, TAIRA no Tomomori, TAIRA no Shigehira and TAIRA no Tokuko.

Biography

TAIRA no Tokiko was awarded the rank of Junii in 1171 and played an important role in providing spiritual support for the Taira clan after the death of Kiyomori. When the Taira clan was finally defeated by the Minamoto army in the Battle of Dannoura, she threw herself into the sea holding Emperor Antoku, her maternal grandson, in her arms, telling him that there was a paradise under the sea ("Heike Monogatari" (The Tale of Heike)).

According to "Azuma Kagami" (The Mirror of the East), Tokiko threw herself into the sea holding a holy sword (Ama no Murakumo no Tsurugi Sword, one of the three imperial regalia), and Emperor Antoku was held by Azechi no Tsubone, who was eventually saved from drowning. Meanwhile, according to "Gukansho" (Jottings of a Fool), Tokiko held Emperor Antoku in her arms and wore the holy sword and the holy beads as she threw herself into the sea.

Her tomb is in the Akama-jingu Shrine, and on May 2 every year, a commemoration ceremony is held by the National Heike (Taira Clan) Association, which is organized by the descendents of fleeing warriors of the Taira clan.

In Heki of Nagato City, Yamaguchi Prefecture, there is a beach called 'Nii no Hama' (Nii Beach), so named after a legend that a ghost of Tokiko was washed up on the beach, which is also a popular swimming beach.