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Fujiwara no Nakamaro

Fujiwara no Nakamaro (藤原 仲麻呂, 706 – October 21, 764), also known as Emi no Oshikatsu (恵美 押勝),[1] was a Japanese aristocrat (kuge), courtier, and statesman.[2] He was Chancellor (Daijō-daijin) of the Imperial government during the Nara period.[3]

Early life

Nakamaro was the second son of Fujiwara no Muchimaro,[1] who was the founder of southern branch of the Fujiwara clan.[4]


Nakamaro was named to progressively important court positions during the reign of Empress Kōken.

  • Minister of the Right (udaijin)[1]
  • Supreme Military Official (shibinaishō)[5]
  • Vice Minister (jundaijin)[1]

Opposition led by Tachibana no Naramaro and others was put down in 757.[6]

In 758, Nakamaro was given the title and role of "Grand Guardian" (taihō); and his name was changed to Emi No Oshikatsu.[1] The power to mint copper coins was granted to Oshikatsu in 758.[7]

Nakamaro became Prime Minister (taishi) during the reign of Emperor Junnin.[8] He acted to secure the northern border with the Ainu, but his plans did not succeed.[3]

Plans for a military campaign in Korea were started, but it was abandoned.[9]

His plans were opposed by some of his cousins in the Fujiwara clan.[2]


In 764, Nakamaro was a trusted supporter of the emperor Junnin; and he was at odds with former-Empress Kōken and her close associate, the monk Dōkyō. In the struggle between the factions headed by Junnin and Kōken, Nakamaro was captured and killed.[10] His wife and children were also killed.[11] Soon after, Junnin was deposed; and Kōken reclaimed the monarch's role for another five years.[10]


  1. ^ a b c d e Brown, Delmer M. (1979). Gukanshō, p. 274
  2. ^ a b Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric. (2005). "Fujiwara no Nakamaro" in Japan Encyclopedia, p. 207.
  3. ^ a b Sansom, George Bailey. (1958). A History of Japan to 1334, p. 91; excerpt, "He paid particular attention to military matters, and while he was Chancellor, he planned a line of forts at points in the northern provinces of Mutsu and Dewa, which were to be bases of operations against the rebellious aborigines. His project did not succeed ..."
  4. ^ Hall, J. W. 1993. The Cambridge History of Japan Volume 1. Cambridge University Press. p.249.
  5. ^ Brown, p. 274 n44; excerpt, "An office was established during Empress Kōken's reign but abolished after Nakamaro's death in 764."
  6. ^ Nussbaum, "Tachibana no Naramaro" at p. 921; Bender, Ross. (2009). "The Suppression of the Tachibana Naramaro Conspiracy," Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 37/2:223–245; compare mirrored full-text; retrieved 2012-10-23.
  7. ^ Soyeda, Juichi. (1896). A History of Banking in Japan, p. 489.
  8. ^ Brown, p. 275.
  9. ^ Sansom, p. 91; excerpt, "Oshikatsu was no more fortunate in another undertaking, which was to send a large expedition against Korea. He set up commissions to equip some five hundred ships, which were to transport an army of 40,000 men across the straits. It seems that only moderate progress had been made when the project was abandoned ...."
  10. ^ a b Sansom, p. 90; excerpt, "... Nakamaro, better known by his later title as the Minister Oshikatsu, was in high favour with the Emperor Junnin but not with the ex-Empress. In a civil disturbance that took place in 764-765, Oshikatsu was captured and killed, while the young Emperor was deposed and exiled in 765 and presumably strangled. The ex-Empress reascended the throne as the Empress Shōtoku, and Dōkyō was all powerful until she died withous issue in 770."
  11. ^ Plutschow, Herbert. (1993). Historical Nara, pp. 176-177.


See also