Fujiwara no Shōshi (藤原彰子, 988–1074), also known as
Jōtōmon-in (上東門院), the eldest daughter of Fujiwara no
Michinaga, was Empress of Japan from c. 1000 to c. 1011. Her father
sent her to live in the Emperor Ichijō's harem at age 12. Because of
his power, influence and political machinations she quickly achieved
the status of second empress (中宮, Chūgū). As empress she was
able to surround herself with a court of talented and educated
ladies-in-waiting such as Murasaki Shikibu, author of The Tale of
By the age of 20, she bore two sons to Ichijō, both of whom went on
to become emperors and secured the status of the Fujiwara line. In her
late 30s she took vows as a
1 Empress 2 Ladies-in-waiting 3 Mother to two emperors 4 Imperial Lady 5 References 6 Sources
In the middle of the 9th century
Fujiwara no Yoshifusa
Murasaki Shikibu, shown here in a late-16th-century illustration by Tosa Mitsuoki, joined Shōshi's court in c. 1005.
To give Shōshi prestige and to make her competitive in a court that
valued education and learning, Michinaga sought talented, educated and
interesting ladies-in-waiting to build a salon to rival that of Teishi
and Seishi (daughter of Emperor Murakami). Michinaga invited Murasaki
Shikibu, author of The Tale of Genji, to Shōshi's court, where she
Her Majesty does indeed still constantly warn us that it is a great mistake to go too far, 'for a single slip may bring very unpleasant consequences,' and so on, in the old style; but she now also begs us not to reject advances in such a way as to hurt people's feelings. Unfortunately, habits of long standing are not so easily changed; moreover, now that the Empress's exceedingly stylish brothers bring so many of their young courtier-friends to amuse themselves at her house, we have in self-defence been obliged to become more virtuous than ever'.
Mother to two emperors Shōshi gave Ichijō two sons, in 1008 and 1009. The births are described in detail in Murasaki's The Diary of Lady Murasaki. The boys were born at their grandfather's Tsuchimikado mansion, with Buddhist priests in attendance. With her second son Atsuhira, Shōshi had a difficult birth; to appease evil spirits she underwent a ritual head shaving, although only a lock of hair was cut. This ritual was considered to have been a minor ordination, or jukai into Buddhism, for the purpose of receiving divine protection when her life, and that of her unborn infant, was at risk.
Emperor Ichijō, Shōshi's husband and father of her two sons, the Emperors Go-Ichijō and Go-Suzaku
Fujiwara no Michinaga, shown in a 13th-century painting, sent his 12-year-old daughter to court as consort to Emperor Ichijō.
Ritual ceremonies were followed on specific days after the births. As was customary, Michinaga's first visit to Shōshi took the form of a lavish ritual 16 days after she gave birth. In her diary, Murasaki described the clothing of one woman in attendance, "Her mantle had five cuffs of white lined with dark red, and her crimson gown was of beaten silk". On the 50th day after the birth a ceremony was held in which the infant was offered a piece of mochi; Michinaga performed the ritual offering of the rice cake to his grandson Atsuhira. In her diary Murasaki described the event that she probably attended. Michinaga's influence meant that Shōshi's two sons had a better chance of ascending the throne than Teishi's children—particularly after Teishi's death in 1001. When Ichijō abdicated in 1011 and died soon after, Shōshi's eldest son, the future Emperor Go-Ichijō, was named crown prince. At that time Shōshi retired from the Imperial Palace to live in a Fujiwara mansion in the Lake Biwa region, most likely accompanied by Murasaki. In 1016 when Michinaga had Emperor Sanjō—married to Shōshi's younger sister Kenshi—removed from the throne, Go-Ichijō became emperor. Shōshi's second son, Go-Suzaku, became crown prince in 1017. With an emperor and a crown prince as sons, Shōshi's position was secure and she became a powerful influence at court. For many years Shōshi's power extended to selecting friends and relatives to fill court positions and to approving consorts—decisions that affected the imperial court. The consorts she selected were her father's direct descendants, thus she asserted control of her father's lineage for many years. Imperial Lady
Shoshi likely lived in the
It was not uncommon for Heian aristocratic women to take religious
vows, become nyūdō, and yet remain in secular life. As her father
and her aunt Seishi had done before her, at 39 in 1026, Shōshi
underwent an ordination ceremony to become a
^ Henshall (1999), 24–25 ^ Bowring (2005), xiv ^ a b c d Shively and McCullough (1999), 67–69 ^ a b c McCullough (1990), 201 ^ Bowring believes she was 10 years old when she was sent to court. See Bowring (2005), xiv ^ a b c Meeks, 52–57 ^ Shirane (1987), 58 ^ Mulhern (1994), 156 ^ a b Bowring (2005), xxiv ^ a b Waley (1960), viii ^ a b Mulhern, (1991), 86 ^ Groner (2002), 281 ^ qtd in Mulhern, (1991), 87 ^ "Detached segment of the diary of Lady Murasaki emaki". National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties of National Museums, Japan. National Institutes of Cultural Heritage. Retrieved September 10, 2011. ^ a b Adolphson (2007), 31 ^ Shirane (1987), 221 ^ Meeks, 58
Adolphson, Mikhael; Kamens, Edward and Matsumoto, Stacie. Heian Japan: Centers and Peripheries. (2007). Honolulu: Hawaii UP. ISBN 978-0-8248-3013-7 Bowring, Richard John (ed). "Introduction". in The Diary of Lady Murasaki. (2005). London: Penguin. ISBN 9780140435764 Groner, Paul. Ryōgen and Mount Hiei: Japanese Tendai in the tenth century. (2002). Kuroda Institute. ISBN 978-0-8248-2260-6 Henshall, Kenneth G. A History of Japan. (1999). New York: St. Martin's. ISBN 978-0-312-21986-4 Meeks, Lori. "Reconfiguring Ritual Authenticity: The Ordination Traditions of Aristocratic Women in Premodern Japan". (2006) Japanese Journal of Religious Studies. Volume 33, Number 1. 51–74 McCullough, Helen. Classical Japanese Prose: An Anthology. (1990). Stanford CA: Stanford UP. ISBN 978-0-8047-1960-5 Mulhern, Chieko Irie. Heroic with Grace: Legendary Women of Japan. (1991). Armonk NY: M.E. Sharpe. ISBN 978-0-87332-527-1 Mulhern, Chieko Irie. Japanese Women Writers: a Bio-critical Sourcebook. (1994). Westport CT: Greenwood Press. ISBN 978-0-313-25486-4 Shirane, Haruo. The Bridge of Dreams: A Poetics of "The Tale of Genji". (1987). Stanford CA: Stanford UP. ISBN 978-0-8047-1719-9, 58 Shively, Donald and McCullough, William H. The Cambridge History of Japan: Heian Japan. (1999). Cambridge UP. ISBN 978-0-521-22353-9 Waley, Arthur. "Introduction". in Shikibu, Murasaki, The Tale of Genji: A Novel in Six Parts. translated by Arthur Waley. (1960). New York: Modern Library.
Preceded by Fujiwara no Teishi Empress consort of Japan 1000–1011 Succeeded by Fujiwara no Kenshi
v t e
Japanese imperial consorts
This is a list of Japanese imperial consorts since Emperor Sushun's reign.
Ōtomo no Koteko Yamato Hime no Ōkimi Princess Tōchi Empress Kōmyō Princess Inoe Fujiwara no Otomuro Fujiwara no Taishi Tachibana no Kachiko Princess Seishi Princess Koshi Fujiwara no Onshi Fujiwara no Anshi Princess Masako Fujiwara no Koshi Fujiwara no Junshi/Nobuko Fujiwara no Teishi Empress Shōshi Fujiwara no Kenshi Fujiwara no Seishi Fujiwara no Ishi Princess Teishi Fujiwara no Genshi Princess Shōshi Fujiwara no Hiroko Fujiwara no Kanshi Princess Kaoruko Fujiwara no Kenshi Princess Yasuko Princess Tokushi Princess Reishi Fujiwara no Shōshi/Fujiwara no Tamako Fujiwara no Kiyoko Fujiwara no Yasuko Fujiwara no Nariko Fujiwara no Tashi Fujiwara no Shimeko Fujiwara Kinshi Princess Muneko Princess Yoshiko Fujiwara no Ikushi Taira no Tokushi Princess Sukeko Fujiwara no Ninshi Princess Noriko Fujiwara no Reishi Princess Shōshi Fujiwara no Ritsushi Princess Kuniko Fujiwara no Ariko Fujiwara no Chōshi Fujiwara no Shunshi Princess Rishi Fujiwara no Kitsushi Princess Teruko Fujiwara no Kimiko Fujiwara no Saneko Fujiwara no Kishi Princess Reishi Fujiwara no Shōshi (Fushimi) Fujiwara no Kinshi Princess Shōshi Saionji no Kishi Princess Junshi Consort of Emperor Chōkei Minamoto no Masako Fujiwara no Fusako Princess Yukiko Princess Yoshiko Fujiwara no Tsunako Kujō Asako Ichijirō Masako Kujō Sadako Princess Nagako Shōda