Tono Chujo (a government post) (頭中将)

Tono Chujo is the name of a government post in the ritsuryo system (a system of centralized government based on the ritsuryo code) in Japan. This was a post for noble family members and the common name for a person who was a tenjobito (a high-ranking courtier allowed into the Imperial Palace) at shii (the fourth rank) and assumed both posts of "Kurodo no to" (Head Chamberlain) and "Konoe no Chujo" (middle captain of the palace guards).


Two people were appointed to the post of Kurodo no to. Fourth-ranking officials and bukan (military officers) from the Konoefu (Headquarters of the Inner Palace Guards) were often appointed to the post of Tono Chujo also. Towards the end of the Heian period, it became customary that another "Kurodo no to" post was given to "To no ben" selected from the persons at the Benkan post (a post for civil officers: daiben (Major Controller) or chuben (Middle Controller)).

In "Kantobisho" (a book written by FUJIWARA no Toshinori), it is written that Tono Chujo did the work of 'kinchu banji' (everything in the Imperial Palace) and To no Ben did that of 'tenkakosai' (everything). It is also written in the book that Tono Chujo was in charge of services in the imperial palace and To no ben was in charge of communications about government affairs between the Emperor and Daijokan (Grand Council of State).

The main duty of Tono Chujo was to wait on the Emperor. For this reason, there were many examples whereby an upper-class royal family member who was a candidate for a high government post advanced from the Konoe no Shosho position (Minor Captain of the Inner Palace Guards) to the Konoe no Chujo position (Middle Captain of the Inner place Guards), before assuming the joint positions of Tono Chujo and Kurodo no to and then finally advancing to the court nobility.

Tono Chujo in The Tale of Genji

Tono Chujo was also the name of a character in 'The Tale of Genj.'
In addition to being Hikaru Genji's old friend and brother-in-law, this person was also his rival in politics and in love. However, here Tono Chujo is used like a proper noun. In the main text of 'The Tale of Genji' this person was always known by the different positions he held as his career and age advanced. He didn't keep the same name throughout the story. During the 'Yugao' chapter (The Tale of Genji), the chapter in which he becomes a central character, he holds the position of Tono Chujo, so this is how he was known by later readers. After that he advances to the positions of Gon Chunagon (Provisional Middle Counselor), Udaisho ((Major Captain of the Right Division of Inner Palace Guards) and Nadaijin (Minister of the Interior) before finally becoming a Dajodaijin (Grand Minister). In his final days after retirement he was known as 'Chiji no Otodo' (Retired Minister). He appears in the chapters from Hahakigi to Minori.

The setting
The Fujiwara clan
He was the legitimate son of Emperor Kiritsubo's Sadaijin (Minister of the Left). His mother, Omiya, was the younger sister of Emperor Kiritsubo (in The Tale of Genji) and the mother of Aoi no Ue (it is often said that he is her older brother but the age gap is unknown). He was a tall, handsome and showy individual. He also excelled at literature and music. He was known as an virtuoso of the koto (Japanese harp), better even than Genji. In his youth, he was a young nobleman ranked with Genji, and often competed with Genji for the same woman. He doted on Yugari, the daughter of Genji and the deceased Aoi no Ue (his nephew in other words), who was like a son to him until their relationship deteriorated over the Kumoi no Kari incident. He has more than ten children (four of whom were daughters).

In the Otome chapter, he is described as having a distinct and magnificent character and also of being thoughtful, passionate about learning and well-versed in government affairs. When Genji suffered misfortune and retired to Suma to seek seclusion from the world, Tono Chujo was the only person to visit him, without fear of attracting disapproval from the powers-that-be. For better of worse he was depicted as having a clear, manly character. For example, in anger he blocked the love between his daughter Kumoi no Kari and Yugiri.

However, there is a clear distinction between the times in the story when he is depicted favorably and those when he isn't. For this reason, some researchers have complained that his character is inconsistent and not worth analyzing. Furthermore, his rank is always one rank below that of Genji's and he always lags behind Genji in disputes. In other words, many people think that Genji just uses him for his own ends. (For example, even though he the real father or the deceased Yugao's daughter, Tamakazura, it is Genji that actually acts as her guardian).

His wife and children
His legal wife was Yon no Kimi, the Minister of the Right of Emperor Kiritsubo (she was also the younger sister of Kokiden no Nyogo (Emperor Kokiden) and the elder sister of Oborozukiyo). Their children were called Kashiwagi, Kobai and Kokiden no Nyogo. Their estrangement while still young was deplored by his father and father-in-law. However, I the prime of his life he and Yon no Kimi are depicted looking after the sick and bedridden Kashiwagi together.

His concubines were known to be the mother of Kumoi no Kari (of royal descent) and Yugao (the daughter of Sanmi no Chujo and the mother of Tamakazura). However, the mother of Kumoi no Kari later divorced him and married Azechino Dainagon (at which time Kumoi no Kari came under the care of her grandmother Omiya). Yugao disappeared after being threatened by his legal wife. Also, he seems for a time to have taken pity on a lower class woman who went on to give birth to Omi no Kimi.