Nijo Yoshimoto (二条良基)

Yoshimoto NIJO (1320 - July 24, 1388) was a kugyo (the top court official), a poet and an achiever of Renga in the period of the Northern and Southern Courts.
Juichii (Junior First Rank)
Sessho (regent), Kanpaku (chief adviser to the Emperor), Dajodaijin (Prime Minister)

Family line

His father was Michihira NIJO who held the title of sessho, his mother Enshi was Michihira's legal wife, a daughter of Kinaki SAIONJI. His siblings included Eishi who was a nyogo (consort) of Emperor Godaigo, Michinao TOMINOKOJI, Moromoto NIJO who was Kanpaku (chief adviser to the Emperor) of the Southern Court. His wife was a daughter of Yoriyasu TOKI. His children were Moroyoshi NIJO, Morotsugu NIJO, Doi, Mani, Tsunetsugu ICHIJO (father of Kaneyoshi ICHIJO). He established a parent-child relationship with Yoshinari YOTSUTSUJI and Motofuyu IMAKOJI (father of Mansai).


He was conferred Shoshiinoge (Senior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade) and Jiju (chamberlain) when he was 8 years old at the ceremony of his coming of age, then he was promoted to Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank) and Gon no chunagon (provisional middle councilor) within two years. He served for Emperor Godaigo who conducted the Kenmu no shinsei (the regime of Kenmu) in Kyoto after the Kamakura bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) was demolished. In 1336, Emperor Godaigo escaped to Yoshino and established the Yoshino Imperial Court (the Southern Court). Yoshimoto's uncle Moromoto moved to the Southern Court, but Yoshomoto stayed in Kyoto despite his deep respect for Emperor Godaigo, after which he was promoted to Gon no dainagon (provisional major councilor) in the Northern Court under Emperor Komyo. Making efforts toward recovery of the "chogi and kuji" (political operations and ceremonies of the Imperial Court) as kugyo of the Northern Court which the Shogun Ashikaga family supported, Yoshimoto became the Kanpaku of Emperor Komyo and the Toshi choja (chieftain of the Fujiwara family) in 1346.

Before long, the Kanno Incident occurred due to an internal conflict with the Ashikaga clan and Takauji ASHIKAGA surrendered to the Southern Court and reconciliation of Shohei unity was achieved in 1351. As a result, the Emperor and the era of the Northern Court were abolished and Yoshimoto was dismissed from the post of Kanpaku (chief adviser to the Emperor). In 1352, the reconciliation of Shohei unity fell apart, Yoshimoto returned to his former position and made efforts toward the reestablishment of the Northern Court according to the intention of the Ashikaga Shogunate and the persuasion of Tsuneaki KAJUJI. As the Retired Emperor Kogon and Emperor Suko were abducted by the Southern Court, the Northern Court backed Prince Iyahito who was Emperor Suko's younger brother and made him the Emperor Gokogon by order of Kogimonin who was mother of the Retired Emperor Kogon. However, there were many objections to the accession of Emperor Gokogon in the Imperial Court because the Northern Court did not have the "Sanshu no Jingi" (Three Sacred Treasures of Japan consisting of the sword Kusanagi, the mirror Yata no kagami, and the jewel Yasakani no magatama). Of this, Yoshimoto said 'Takauji is the sword (the sword Kusanagi) and Yoshimoto is the imperial signet (Yasakani no magatama), who wait beside the emperor.
There is no reason to disapprove.' ("Zoku honchotsugan")
In the next year, when Yoshiakira ASHIKAGA escaped to Mino Province with the Emperor due to a counterattack by the Southern Court, Yoshimoto went with the Emperor even though he was ill.
(Yoshimoto wrote "Ojima no susami" (diary written in kana) during this trip.)
Most documents and family treasures related to the Sekkan regent family in the Nijo House are said to have been taken by the Southern Court army which occupied Kyoto. Then, Yoshimoto gave the position of Kanpaku in Tsunenori KUJO in 1358, however, he was reappointed as Kanpaku in 1363 and served for four years.

He knew Yusoku-kojitsu (ancient practices and usages) well and promoted studies about Imperial rituals and court classics by holding an annual event of Uta awase (waka poetry meeting) in 1366. He taught Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA who was the third Shogun of the Muromachi bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) about the ancient practices, courtesies and culture of the Imperial Court. He was conferred Jusangu (the highest rank for nobles, same treatment as Imperial family) in 1376, Dajodaijin in 1381 and became Sessho of Emperor Gokomatsu in 1382. He gave the position of Sessho to Kanetsugu KONOE in 1387, but Kanetsugu died in 1388. Therefore, Yoshimoto regained the position of Sessho, but became ill and died at the age of 69 right after he passed on the title of Sessho to his son Morotsugu.

He was familiar with cultured pastimes such as Waka, Renga (Japanese poem) and Kemari (traditional Japanese football), and was known as an achiever of Renga. He compiled the anthology of Renga "Tsukubashu" (Tsukuba Collection) with Kyusai in 1356, and also wrote Renga ronsho (lucubration of collaborative poetry) such as "Tsukuba mondo" (Tsukuba Questions and Answers), "Kyushu mondo" (Kyushu Questions and Answers) and "Jumonsaihisho" (Ten Abridged Secret Questions and Answers). In 1372, he established the rules of Renga as "Oan shinshiki." He wrote Karonsho (study of poetics) such as "Kinrai futai" and "Gumon kenchu" (questions and answers with Tona). He was excellent in writing kana literature and wrote about court events such as "Ojima no susami," "Kinukazuki no nikki" (Kinukazuki Diary), "Sakakiba no nikki" (Sakakiba Diary), "Kumoi no hana," "Eiwa daijoeki" (Record of Eiwa Enthronement Ceremony of Emperor) and "Kumoi no minori." There is a theory that he was the author of "Masukagami" (The Clear Mirror). He wrote the preface in kana letters for "Shin Goshuiwakashu," which was an anthology of waka poems selected by the Emperor. He showed an understanding of Sarugaku-Noh which was not valued by society at that time, and supported Zeami in his boyhood.

He was very close to Takauji ASHIKAGA and Yoshimitsu ASHIKAG, and used their backing to obtain the positions of Sessho and Kanpaku four times. Thus, he was thought of as a viciously ambitious person of status and honor and there were many people who didn't like him in both the Northern and the Southern Court.

His Career

Date = Chinese calendar

In 1327

On September 3, he celebrated his coming of age and was allowed to wear the Kinjiki (forbidden colors), and conferred Shogoinoge (Senior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade). On September 8, he was appointed as Jiju (chamberlain).

On October 14, he was appointed as Sakone no shosho (Minor Captain of the Left Palace Guards). On October 15, he was promoted to Jushiinoge (Junior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade), retained his position as Sakone no shosho. On October 21, he was appointed as Sakonoe no chujo (Middle Captain of the Left Palace Guards).

In 1328

On February 24, he was promoted to Jushiinojo (Junior Fourth Rank, Upper Grade), retained his position as Sakonoe no chujo.

On May 4, he was promoted to Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank), retained his position as Sakonoe no chujo.

In 1329

On August 2, he was appointed as Gon no chunagon (provisional middle councilor), retained his position as Sakonoe no chujo.

In 1330

On February 12, he was promoted to Shosanmi (Senior Third Rank), retained his position as Sakonoe no chujo and Gon no chunagon.

In 1332

On May 18, he resigned Gon no chunagon.

In 1333

On July 7, he was reappointed as Gon no chunagon.

On August 1, he was promoted to Junii (Junior Second Rank), retained his position as Gon no chunagon.

In 1336

On April 21, he was appointed to Gon no dainagon (provisional major councilor).

In 1337

On September 11, he was promoted to Shonii (Senior Second Rank), retained his position as Gon no dainagon.

In 1338

On December 9, he was appointed as Sakone no daisho (Major Captain of the Left Palace Guards) concurrently.

In 1340

On August 20, he was appointed as Naidaijin (minister). On August 25, retained his position as Sakone no daisho.

In 1342

On May 13, he was appointed as an educational adviser of Imperial Prince Okihito (later Emperor Suko) concurrently.

On January 26, 1343, he resigned Sakone no daisho.

In 1343

On May 12, he was appointed as Udaijin (minister of the right), retained his position as Togufu (educational adviser of Imperial Prince).

In 1346

On March 30, he was appointed as Kanpaku, Nairan (private audit), Ichiza (the highest rank of court noble) and Fujiwarashi choja (chieftain of the Fujiwara family). Retained his position as Udaijin and Togufu.

In 1347

On February 23, he was promoted to Juichii (Junior First Rank), retained his position as Kanpaku, Nairan, Fujiwarashi choja (chieftain of the Fujiwara family), Ichiza, Udaijin, Togufu.

On October 28, he was appointed as Sadaijin (minister of the left).

In 1348

On November 25, he resigned Togufu.

In 1349

On November 2, he resigned Sadaijin.

In 1358

On February 5, 1359, he resigned as Kanpaku but was appointed as Nairan.

In 1363

On August 15, he was appointed as Kanpaku, Ichiza and Fujiwarashi choja. Retained his position as Nairan.

In 1367

On September 29, he resigned as Kanpaku but was appointed as Nairan.

In 1376

On January 30, he was appointed to Jusangu.

In 1381

On August 21, he was appointed as Dajodaijin (Prime Minister).

In 1382

On June 1, he was appointed as Sessho (regent), Ichiza and Fujiwarashi choja. Retained his position as Jusangu, Nairan and Dajodaijin.

In 1383

On Novemver 23, he was given Udoneri zuijin (selected guard for Sessho and Kanpaku) by the Emperor.

In 1387

On February 5, he resigned Dajodaijin.

On March 5, he resigned Sessho. He was appointed as Nairan.

In 1388

On May 22, he was appointed as Sessho, Ichiza and Fujiwarashi choja.

On July 24, he passed away. He was 69 years old.
His Go (byname): Gofukoenin Sessho Dajodaijin