Is Japan in need of a strong woman? (Part III)
Which strong Japanese woman should Hitomi Sakamoto look like? You decide.
Now that Hitomi Sakamoto, producer in seven Radio Detective novels, gets her first spin-off novel, I look at some strong women that preceded her in Japanese history. Check my previous blog here. Today:
Tokuko (Kenrei-Mon-In), Wife of the Emperor Takakura (1155-1213)
Tokuko was the daughter of Taira Kiyomori (1118-1181), an ambitious and talented man. He brought the Taira clan to a place of great power in the second half of the 12th Century. To take a solid place in politics, he decided to marry into the Imperial family, with young Tokuko the instrument of his his designs. He first arranged for Tokuko to be adopted by Retired Emperor Go-Shirakawa. Once this he was done, he saw to it that Tokuko was married to the then child-emperor Takakura. Some years later, Kiyomori was delighted to learn that the young couple had given birth to a boy – a child destined to be Kiyomori’s grandson AND the Emperor of Japan. When the child, named Antoku, became emperor, Tokuko enjoyed a lavish life. But when the Gempei War began, things changed. After the war she was permitted to retire to the Chorakuji and shave her head as a nun, forgotten in the political upheaval. That same year, fate dealt her another blow – an earthquake tumbled her small hut and left her homeless. She ended up going to the Jakko-in, a nunnery in which she was to spend the remaining thirty or so years of her life. She died of illness in 1213.