Takashina no Yasutsune (高階泰経)

TAKASHINA no Yasutsune (1130 – December 20, 1201) was a court noble between the late Heian period and the early Kamakura period. Yasutsune was a close aide (In no Kinshin (the retired Emperor's courtier) to Emperor Goshirakawa.

He was born the child of Wakasa no kami (Governor of Wakasa Province) TAKASHINA no Yasushige and the daughter of FUJIWARA no Munekane in 1130. In 1151, Yasutsuna was appointed as Kurodo (Chamberlain) to Emperor Konoe. In 1155, Yasutsune was appointed as Saemon-no-shoi (one of the government posts) as well as kebiishi (the police and judicial chief) and, in addition, was appointed as Kurodo to the new Emperor Goshirakawa who ascended the throne that year. Thereafter, Yasutsune became a close aide to Emperor Goshirakawa, successively holding the various posts including Kawachi no kuni no kami (Governor of Kawachi Province) Dewa no kuni no kami (Governor of Dewa Province), Settsu no kuni no kami (Governor of Settsu Province), Shonagon (lesser councilor of state) and Ukyo no daibu (Master of the Western Capital Offices).

He played an active role as In no Kinshin when the Retired Emperor Goshirakawa implemented the cloistered government. One of the main functions of Yasutsune was to negotiate with samurai but, being at the center of the administration, he had numerous downfalls with the first one occurring in 1179 when the Retired Emperor Goshirakawa was confined by TAIRA no Kiyomori whereby Yasutsune was removed from office and, in 1183, he was removed from office when the Retired Emperor Goshirakawa was once again confined this time by MINAMOTO no Yoshinaka. While Yasutsune soon returned to his previous post that time, he was subsequently removed from office for the third time and was also banished to Izu Province under suspicion of involving in the rebellion by MINAMOTO no Yoshitsune and MINAMOTO no Yukiie in 1185.

In 1189, Yasutsune was again pardoned and was allowed to attend the court whereby rising to the court rank of Shosanmi (Senior Third Rank) in 1191. In 1197, Yasutsune entered the priesthood and died four years later in 1201. TAKASHINA no Tsunenaka was his child.

Argument regarding the greatest Tengu (long-nosed goblin) in Japan
In a letter written by MINAMOTO no Yoritomo addressed to Yasutsune, there was a phrase saying, 'The greatest Tengu in Japan cannot be anyone else,' which became established as an expression used by Yoritomo's to criticize the Retired Emperor Goshirakawa and, consequently, was often quoted to describe that retired emperor.

Recently, however, a theory suggesting that the expression, 'the greatest Tengu in Japan' was a phrase describing Yasutsune and not the Retired Emperor Goshirakawa emerged (as offered by various people including Fumihiko GOMI) which was contradicted by an argument going back to the initial theory that the said phrase was after all describing the Retired Emperor Goshirakawa.

Chronology of government posts and ranks

March 1150: Appointed as Hikurodo (trainee in the Kurodo-dokoro or the Imperial Secretariat).

September 1151: Appointed as Kurodo to Emperor Konoe.

April 1153: Appointed as Daizen no suke (the title of a person who was in charge of meals in the court).

February 1155: Appointed as Saemon-no-shoi and kebiishi.

August 1155: Appointed as Kurodo to Emperor Goshirakawa.

November 1155: Conferred Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade).

January 1156: Appointed as Kawachi no kami.

April 1157: Appointed as Sama no gon no suke (Assistant Provisional Captain of the Left Division of Bureau of Horses).

November 1157: Conferred Jugoinojo (Junior Fifth Rank, Upper Grade).

June 1158: Appointed as Dewa no kami.

October 1161: Appointed as Settsu no kami.

May 1166: Appointed as Shonagon.

April 1167: Conferred Shogoinoge (Senior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade).

January 1172: Conferred Jushiinoge (Junior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade).

February 1172: Conferred Jushiinojo (Junior Fourth Rank, Upper Grade).

April 1175: Conferred Shoshiinoge (Senior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade).

January 1176: Appointed as Ukyo no daibu.

January 1176: Appointed as Iyo no kami (Governor of Iyo Province).

December 1178: Appointed as Okura-kyo (Minister of Treasury).

January 1180: Removed from office.

June 1181: Reappointed as Iyo no kami and Ukyo no daibu.

April 1182: Reappointed as Okura-kyo.

September 1182: Appointed as Kogu no suke (person in charge of household affairs in relation to the empress).

March 1183: Conferred Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank).

December 1183: Removed from office.

April 1184: Reappointed as Okura-kyo.

February 1185: Appointed as Bingo no gon no kami (Deputy Governor of Bingo Province).

December 1185: Removed from office and banished.

September 1189: Allowed to attend the court.

December 1191: Conferred Shosanmi.

[Original Japanese]