Yoshida Tsunefusa (吉田経房)
Tsunefusa YOSHIDA (1142 - April 3, 1200) was a court noble who lived from the end of the Heian period to the early Kamakura period. He was a son of FUJIWARA no Mitsufusa, who was a member of the Benkan (Board of Controllers) and was from the Kajuji line of the Northern House of the Fujiwara clan. His mother was a daughter of Gon Chunagon (a provisional vice-councilor of state) FUJIWARA no Toshitada and a sister of FUJIWARA no Toshinari. His children were Sadatsune YOSHIDA, Tokitsune YOSHIDA, a wife of Kintoki SHIGENOI and a wife of TAIRA no Tokizane. He was appointed the first Kanto-moshitsugi (liaison officer to the court) by MINAMOTO no Yoritomo's Kamakura government (later the Kamakura bakufu, Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun). There is a theory that he was born in 1143. He established the Yoshida family from which the Kanroji family originated.
At the young age of nine, he was appointed to the post of jiju (Grand Chamberlain) with the rank of Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade). The following year, after the sudden death of his elder brother, FUJIWARA no Nobukata, he assumed the post of Kokushi (governor) of Izu Province, holding it for seven years, although he performed the necessary work while remaining in the capital. After that, working as a close aide to Josaimonin, an elder sister of Emperor Goshirakawa, and to Kenshunmonin, the empress. And later as Kurodo (Chamberlain) to Emperor Rokujo and Emperor Takakura, he came to be recognized and favored by TAIRA no Kiyomori. Following this, as a working-level bureaucrat in the Taira clan-based government, he held each post in the Benkan except Ushoben (Minor Controller of the Right), and then the post of Kura no kami (Chief of the Bureau of Palace Storehouses). Then he advanced to Kurodo no to (Head Chamberlain) in the personnel reshuffle related to the coup in 1179. Not long after, Emperor Antoku ascended the throne and Emperor Takakura retired and started cloistered rule (Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa was under house arrest at that time). Then he assumed both the posts of Kurodo no to and In no betto (Chief Administrator of the Retired Emperor's Office) for the newly retired emperor.
However, from around the time he advanced to Sangi (Councilor) in 1181 and became a court noble two years later, his name suddenly emerged as a friend of MINAMOTO no Yoritomo. It is a mystery how he gained this position when he had advanced smoothly in the Taira clan-based government and had not been involved in any anti-Taira clan activity. A widely accepted theory is that with both Tsunefusa and his elder brother assuming the post of Governor of Izu Province, he had relations with Tokimasa HOJO, who was the foster father of Yoritomo and a local officer in the Izu Province government, and using this connection, communicated with Yoritomo secretly from around the time when Yoritomo started raisnig an army. However, the truth is unknown.
Regardless of the truth, the tales that Yoritomo regarded him as 'a graceful person' (in "The Tale of the Heike") and as 'an honest, righteous vassal' (in "Azuma Kagami" literally, The Mirror of the East) were not exaggerated. After Yoritomo's requested to the imperial court in 1184 that Tsunefusa be appointed Gon Chunagon was accepted, many of Yoritomo's requests to the imperial court or the office of the retired emperor became to be made through Tsunefusa. This is considered to be the start of the Kamukura bakufu's Kanto-moshitsugi. Important requests, such as establishing a new shugo (governor) or jito (lord of a manor) post or chasing MINAMOTO no Yoshitsune, were actually passed to the imperial court via Tsunefusa.
After being appointed giso (conveying decisions of the Daijokan, or Department of State to the emperor) and Dazai gon no sochi (Provisional Governor-General of Dazai-fu, the office governing Kyushu) in 1185, and then Minbukyo (Minister of Popular Affairs) in 1190, he was awarded the rank of Shonii (Senior Second Rank) in the next year
It is said that, during this time, he received Yoritomo's permission to marry TAIRA no Koremori's widow (a daughter of FUJIWARA no Narichika). He further advanced to Chunagon (vice-councilor of state) in 1195 and to Gon Dainagon (provisional chief councilor of state) in 1198. However, after Yoritomo died the following year, Tsunefusa also became sickly. And he died soon after entering the priesthood and taking the name Kyoren in 1200.
His diary "Kichiki," or "Kikki," is still in existence.
It is said that, although initially calling himself 'Kadenokoji' after the street along which his residence was placed, he changed his family name to 'Yoshida' because he later built another residence in Yoshida in the east suburb of the capital. Although the family name was later changed to Kanroji, many branches descended from him left their names on the history of Japan as Tosho-ke (the hereditary lineage of court nobles occupying relatively high ranks).