Nakatomi Clan
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Nakatomi Clan
Nakatomi clan
Cadet branchesFujiwara clan

Nakatomi clan (, Nakatomi-uji) was a Japanese aristocratic kin group (uji).[1]


The Nakatomi was an influential clan in Classical Japan. Along with the Inbe clan, the Nakatomi were one of two priestly clans which oversaw certain important national rites, and one of many to claim descent from divine clan ancestors "only a degree less sublime than the imperial ancestors".[2] It is said that soon after the beginning of Jimmu's reign, a Master of Ceremonies (saishu) was appointed; and this office was commonly held by a member of the Nakatomi clan after the 8th century.[3] This was due to the hereditary nature of both governmental positions and clan roles - a clan's role might be to supply warriors, or, in the case of the Nakatomi, to conduct Shinto rites and hold the associated positions. Though their material holdings were not the most extensive, their spiritual and ritual importance placed the Nakatomi and Imibe second only to the Imperial House during their heyday.

One particularly important ritual which the head of the Nakatomi clan oversaw was the ?harai purification rite, performed twice every year, in which the High Priest (of the Nakatomi clan) asked the kami to cleanse the spirits of all of the people of their impurities.

Asuka period

As a result of the Nakatomis' ritual position and role in the Asuka period, they were among the chief advocates of conservatism in the controversy over the introduction of Buddhism to Japan in the 6th century. However, by the time of Nakatomi no Kamatari, in the early 7th century, the clan had switched sides, possibly as a result of their loyalty and close connection to the Imperial family; following Prince Sh?toku, likely the most famous advocate of Buddhism in all of Japanese history, and later Prince Naka no ?e, the Nakatomi helped eliminate the Soga clan, powerful and very active supporters of Buddhism, and of the current administration of the time (see Isshi Incident).

The clan soon came to be opposed by a number of other clans which vied for power and prestige at Court, and for influence over the Imperial succession. It is said however, that despite being overshadowed by others in terms of pure material wealth, the head of the Nakatomi clan was, in the mid-7th century, the most powerful man in Japan.[2] Even into the 8th century, members of the Nakatomi clan maintained their important ritual position, becoming hereditary heads of the Jingi-kan (Department of Rites) established by the Code of Taih? in 701.

Precursor of the Fujiwara

Arguably the most well-known clan leader, Nakatomi no Kamatari was granted the name Fujiwara by Emperor Tenji as a reward for loyal service to the sovereign. Kamatari is honored as the founder of the Fujiwara clan, which accumulated extraordinary powers and prestige in the Heian period (794-1185).

Nakatomi Family Tree ()

Ikatsu ?mi-no-mikoto (?)
O-o-obase-no-mikoto (?)
Nakatomi no Amahisa-no-kimi (?)
Nakatomi no Abiko ()
Nakatomi no Mahito (?)
Nakatomi no Kamako (?)
Nakatomi no Kuroda (?)
Nakatomi no Tokiwa (?)
Nakatomi no Katanoko ()
Nakatomi no Mikeko ()      Nakatomi no Kuniko (?)      Nakatomi no Nukateko ()
  ?                             ?                      ?
  ?                               Second Branch of Nakatomi clan ()       Third Branch of Nakatomi clan ()
Fujiwara no Kamatari (?, 614-669)      Nakatomi no Hisata (?)      Nakatomi no Tareme (?)
  ?                                               ?
Fujiwara clan ()                                                  First Branch of Nakatomi clan ()

See also

  • Kogo Sh?i--a record of the conflict between the Nakatomi and Inbe clans.


  1. ^ Papinot, Jacques Edmond Joseph. (1906). Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie du Japon; Papinot, (2003). "Nakatomi," Nobiliare du Japon, p. 39; retrieved 2013-5-5.
  2. ^ a b Sansom, George (1958). A History of Japan to 1334, pp. 35-36.
  3. ^ Brown, Delmer et al. (1979). Gukansh?, p. 249 n10.

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