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Go west : Sugawara no Michizane strikes back

Date Published: Last Update:2015/04/10 Others , ,

After Michizane’s death in 903, people, who were involved with the conspiracy to frame him, died in a mysterious death one after another.
Also, there were natural disasters in Kyoto.

Victims of vengeance by Sugawara no Michizane


Illustration from Illust-ya

Year: Person

  • 906: Fujiwara no Sadakuni (Age: 40)
  • 908: Fujiwara no Sugane (Age: 53)
    He reported to the emperor along with Sadakuni that Michizane was plotting against the regime.
    Also, when the former emperor Uda (who highly trusted Michizane) rushed to meet his son, Emperor Daigo, to stop Michizane’s relegation, Sugane prevented him from entering the pavillion.
    Died by a lightning strike.
  • 909: Fujiwara no Tokihira (Age: 39)
    He was “Sa-daijin” (lit. “Left minister”), substantially the top of the highest government organisation “Daijyou-kan” back then.
    (The top title was “Daijyou-daijin”, but often nobody was assigned to the position with the reason that there wasn’t a qualified person.
    From 892 to 935, it was vacant.)
    He was the main enemy against Michizane and the key person for the conspiracy.He had been ill in bed, so Jyouzou, the powerful priest and the eldest son of Miyoshi Kiyoyuki (who advised Michizane to retire the year before Michizane’s demotion), came to pray for a quick recovery.
    Michizane appeared to Miyoshi in the shape of a dragon (or snake), ordering not to intrude his vengeance.
    Miyoshi stopped his son and soon Tokihira died.
  • 913: Minamoto no Hikaru (Age: 69)
    He was on Tokihira’s side and took over as “U-daijin” after Michizane.
    Died during the hunting.
    (It is said that he sank into the mud and his body wasn’t found.)
  • 923: Prince Yasuakira (Age: 21)
    He was a son of Emperor Daigo.
    His mother was Tokihira’s sister.

People in Kyoto also suffered from continuous disasters – floods, fire, diseases and drought.

I cannot tell if all of them were true (especially about how much some of them were involved in the intrigue against Michizane, and about some of the causes of deaths).
Also in the old times, many people died younger and more helpless against disasters than now.
Thus, it is possible to say they were just coincidences.

Still, those series of incidents sound spooky to me even now because too many people were dead, so there’s no wonder they were considered as a curse of Michizane back then when people were much more superstitious.

People in the court were terrified enough to restore Michizane as “U-daizin” and get promoted in 923, about a month after the death of Prince Yasuakira.
This means the court admitted that they were wrong.
Michizane’s name was cleared.

Obviously, it didn’t satisfy furious Michizane’s spirit though.

  • 925: Prince Yoshiyori (Age: 5)
    The eldest son of Prince Yasuakira.
    Tokihira’s daughter was his mother.
  • 930: Fujiwara no Kiyotsura (Age: 64) and others
    Kyoto Gosho

    - Kyoto Gosho -
    Once the Imperial Palace.
    Photo from Sozaing

    When the meeting was held to talk about whether they should conduct a ritual for a rain, thunderbolts hit “Seiryou-den”, the pavillion used as the Emperor’s habitual residence, and “Shishin-den”, the main building of “Dairi” (Inner Palace) to hold official ceremonies etc.
    Kiyotsura was burnt on his chest and killed on the spot.
    He spied Michizane in Dazaifu under the order by Tokihira.
    Several people also died in this incident.

  • 930: Emperor Daigo (Age: 46)
    The fire in his palace gave the emperor a great shock and made him ill.
    Three months after the incident, he abdicated in favour of his eleventh son, Prince Hiroakira whose mother was the same as Prince Yasuakira’s.
    A week later, he entered the Buddhist priesthood and passed away at the same day.
    Prince Hiroakira was enthroned as Emperor Suzaku at the age of eight.
  • 936: Fujiwara no Yasutada (Age: 47)
    The eldest son of Tokihira.
    Died in madness.
  • 943: Fujiwara no Atsutada (Age: 38)
    The third son of Tokihira.

Something more had to be done to console Michizane…


Related posts:
#Dazaifu (1: General Info)
(2: Michizane – general)
(3: Michizane – legends)
(5: Michizane – Tenman-guu)
(6: Dazaifu – to the main shrine)
(7: Dazaifu – the main shrine and around)
(8: Dazaifu – Kyushu National Museum)

#Hakata (1: General Info)
(2: Moomin Cafe)
(3: Juventus Lounge)
(4: Kushida Shrine and others)

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A Japanese living in Okayama. A proud "Otaku"! Loves animals, snacks, manga, games (PC, iPad, Nintendo DS, PSP), foreign TV dramas, traveling and football (soccer).

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