Sanjo Sanetsumu

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Sanjô Sanetsumu was a court noble prominent in the Bakumatsu period. The head of the Sanjô family, he is perhaps best known as the father of Sanjô Sanetomi, and held the post of zôdaijin until 1854, when he was succeeded by Sanetomi.

Sanetsumu served for many years alongside Bôjô Toshiaki as buke tensô, one of the imperial court's official liaisons to the Tokugawa shogunate. After numerous requests to be permitted to retire from his official positions at court, Sanetsumu was finally granted retirement on 1858/3/21. Ichijô Tadaka then took his place as Naidaijin.[1] Later that year, Sanetsumu retired to Kôzuya village to the south of Kyoto.[2] In 1859, he was then granted permission to take the tonsure (becoming a Buddhist monk in his retirement) and was sentenced to house confinement.[3] When Sanetsumu fell severely ill, the imperial court suggested that he be released and promoted in court rank in recognition of his long years of service; he died shortly afterwards, on 1859/10/6.[4]

Nashinoki Shrine, established in 1885 and located just outside the Kyoto Imperial Palace, was dedicated in 1915 to the deified spirits of Sanetsumu and his son Sanetomi.[5] A set of fifteen handscroll paintings was similarly commissioned by the imperial court in 1904 from court painter Tanaka Yûbi chronicling Sanetsumu's accomplishments across his career.[6]


  1. Ishin Shiryô Kôyô 維新史料綱要, vol 2, 531.
  2. Ishin Shiryô Kôyô 維新史料綱要, vol 3, 119.
  3. Ishin Shiryô Kôyô 維新史料綱要, vol 3 (1937), 163.
  4. Ishin Shiryô Kôyô 維新史料綱要, vol 3 (1937), 223.
  5. Plaques on-site at Nashinoki Shrine, Kyoto.
  6. Gallery labels, "The two people who supported Emperor Meiji - Sanjo Sanetomi and Iwakura Tomomi - an account of the late Edo period to the Meiji Restoration in biographical picture scrolls," The Museum of the Imperial Collections, Sannomaru Shôzôkan, September 2014.