- Encyclopedia of Shinto
- Akihiro Ō (Prince Akihiro)
Encyclopedia of Shinto
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Akihiro Ō (Prince Akihiro)
The person who laid the foundations for the medieval Department of Divinities (Jingikan) and the Shirakawa Hakuō house that transmitted the hereditary position of Superintendent of the Jingikan (jingihaku). Akihiro was a fifth-generation prince, descendent of the son and imperial heir of Emperor Kazan. In turn, his father Akiyasu was son of jingihaku Prince Yasusuke, nephew of Minamoto Akifusa, Minister of the Right and descendent of the Murakami Genji family. In later times, the leader of the Shirakawa clan was known as Genji (or Minamoto) before receiving the appointment as Superintendent (Haku) of the Jingikan, and as "Prince" (Ō) after receiving the appointment, but it is a mistake to look for the origin of this custom in Akihiro. The precedent of restoring the title "Prince" was started by Akihiro's grandson Minamoto Sukemune, who was enabled to ascend to the position of Superintendent upon the sudden death of his older brother Prince Narisuke.
In 1142, Akihiro was appointed to the Junior Lower Fifth court rank, and the imperial office ōgimi no kami. In the eighth month of 1153, he was nominated to be head of the Supreme Priestess Bureau (Saigūryō) at Ise under Supreme Priestess Kishi (Yoshiko), but he was denied the post due to the unfavorable results of a divination. Around that time, he consolidated the position of "head of princes" (ōji chōsha), namely overall supervisor of the imperial princes, who were intimately related to rites at the court and the Grand Shrines of Ise. In the first month of 1165, Akihiro was finally able to fulfill his long-cherished desire of ascending to the position of jingihaku (Superintendent of the Jingikan). Immediately following this, he ordered the composition of the Jingikan nenkō shinchō (Jingikan Annual Income Report), thus laying a foundation for the institution's economic welfare. He was conferred the Senior Lower Fifth court rank in 1166, and three years later was promoted to the Junior Lower Fourth court rank and proclaimed vice-protector (gon no kami) of Izumo. During this time, his sons Princes Akitsuna and Nakasuke vied for the office of head of princes established by their father, and Akihiro ultimately passed on the office to Nakasuke, thus successfully establishing the family precedent of hereditary succession to head of the Jingikan.