Tachibana Clan

Tachibana Clan

The Tachibana clan (橘氏) is one of the four most powerful kuge (court nobility families) of the Nara and early Heian periods of Japanese history.

Tachibana Clan History

Members of the Tachibana family often held important positions in the Daijō-kan (state ministry), most frequently in the sadaijin (left ministry). Like other major court families, they continually sought to increase and secure their power by marrying into the imperial family.

However, as the Fujiwara clan gained power during the ninth and tenth centuries, the Tachibana were eclipsed and dispersed throughout the country.

Although they serve in high-level government positions outside the capital, they are denied the degree of power and influence in Kyoto (Heian-kyō) that they once enjoyed.

They have no direct relationship to the fourteenth-century Tachibana (立花) samurai clan, which traces its origins to the Fujiwara clan.

The name "Tachibana" was granted to Agata-no-Inukai no Michiyo by Empress Gemmei in 708. She is the wife of prince Minu, descendant of emperor Bidatsu and mother of princes Katsuragi and Sai.

She later married Fujiwara no Fuhito and gave birth to Kōmyōshi, future empress Kōmyō. In 736, princes Katsuragi and Sai were given the name "Tachibana," thereby renouncing their membership in the imperial family.

They became Tachibana no Moroe and Tachibana no Sai respectively.

Throughout the Heian period, they engaged in countless battles with the Fujiwara family for dominance in court politics and thus essentially for control of the nation.

On several occasions, these disputes degenerated into open armed conflicts. One such conflict was the uprising of Fujiwara no Sumitomo in 939-941. Although the rebellion was eventually put down, the Tachibana family was eventually dispersed and lost almost all power.

Tachibana no Kimiyori (877-941) was among those who pursued Sumitomo to Kyūshū. He settled there and established himself as an official representative of the court.

He or his descendants probably give their name to the castle of Tachibana after which the future Tachibana clan of the 14th century is named. Another branch of the family developed in Iyo province, known as the Tachibana family of Iyo.

Tachibana Tōyasu, who executed Fujiwara no Sumitomo, is an early descendant of this branch; Kusunoki Masashige, a famous pro-imperial commander of the fourteenth century, claimed descent from Tōyasu.

Important members of the clan

  • Inukai no Michiyo (ancestor)

Second generation

  • Tachibana no Moroe (橘諸兄, 684-757): son of Michiyo; also called Katsuragi no Ō-kimi (葛城王. Udaijin in 738; sadaijin (chancellor) in 751; actual holder of power until 756. In good agreement with the Fujiwara. Then withdrew, suspected by the empress Kōken of being involved in a conspiracy.
  • Tachibana no Sai (橘佐為: son of Michiyo; also Sai no Ō-kimi (佐為王).
  • Muro no Ōkimi 牟漏女王: daughter of Michiyo; wife of Fujiwara no Fusasaki.


Third generation

  • Tachibana no Naramaro (橘奈良麻呂, died 757): oldest son of Moroe. Passed as likely to have participated, in the year of his father's death, in the plot of the deposed prince, Funado, against the empress Kōken. Executed.


Fourth generation

  1. Tachibana no Shimadamaro (橘島田麿): son of Naramaro.
  2. Tachibana no Kiyotomo (橘清友): son of Naramaro.


Fifth generation

  1. Tachibana no Kachiko (橘嘉智子): daughter of Kiyotomo, wife of Emperor Saga.
  2. Tachibana no Ujikimi (橘氏公): son of Kiyotomo, whose son[What?], 橘岑継.


Later generations

  • Tachibana no Hayanari (橘逸勢): leader, trained in China. Poet, calligrapher; one of the sanpitsu; died in 842.
  • Tachibana no Hiromi (橘広相): scholar, five generations of Moroe; served emperors Yōzei, Kōkō and Uda.
  • Tachibana no Kimisai (橘公材): second son of Hiromi.
  • Tachibana no Kimiyori (橘公頼): fifth son of Hiromi; governor of Kyūshū special administrative region (Dazai gonnosochi); fought Fujiwara no Suminori, the younger brother of Fujiwara no Sumitomo.
  • Tachibana no Aritsura (橘在列): died in 953. Tendai monk and writer.
  • Tachibana no Toshimichi (橘敏通): third son of Kimiyori; played an important role in the struggle against Fujiwara no Sumitomo and Suminori. Governor of the province of Chikugo. Ancestor of the Chikugo (Kyūshū) line of the family.
  • Senkan (千観): fourth son of Kimiyori. Monk of the Jōdo shū (school of the pure earth).
  • Tachibana no Yoshiyuki (橘善行): Buddhist name Shōkū; founder of Enkyō-ji.
  • Zōga (蔵賀): lives on the island of Tōnomine.
  • Kōkei (皇慶): monk of vajrayāna Buddhism.
  • Tachibana no Nagayasu (橘永愷): poet; also known by his Buddhist name Nōin.
  • Tachibana no Michisada (橘道貞): cooperation with Fujiwara no Michinaga.
  • Ko-shikibu no Naishi (小式部内侍): poetess; daughter of Michisada.
  • Tachibana no Tamenaka (橘為仲): poet.
  • Tachibana no Tōyasu (橘遠保): from the Ōuchi clan, ancestor of the family's Iyo lineage. Fight against Fujiwara no Sumitomo.
  • Tachibana no Toshitsuna (1028-1094): illegitimate son of Fujiwara no Yorimichi. Head of the department of imperial buildings, middle rank in the court, passed as the author of the Sakuteiki.
  • Tachibana no Tōshige (橘遠茂): mokudai of Suruga; descendant of Tōyasu (Iyo lineage).
  • Tachibana no Toshimichi (died 1051 or 1058): husband of the poet Sugawara no Takasue no Musume.
  • Tachibana no Kiminaga (橘公長): executioner of Taira no Munemori.
  • Tachibana no Kiminari (橘公業): son of Kiminaga; founder of the Kokajima clan.
  • Tachibana no Narisue (橘成季): serving Kujō Michiie.