The Fujiwara clan's political influence was initiated during the Asuka period. Nakatomi no Kamatari, a member of the lower-nobility Nakatomi family led a coup against the Soga in 645 and initiated a series of sweeping government reforms that would be known as the Taika Reform. In 668 Emperor Tenji (reigned 668-671), bestowed the kabane Fujiwara no Ason (藤原朝臣?) on Kamatari. The surname passed to the descendants of Fujiwara no Fuhito (659–720), the second son and heir of Kamatari, who was prominent at the court of several emperors and empresses during the early Nara period. He made his daughter Miyako a concubine of Emperor Mommu. Her son, Prince Obito became Emperor Shōmu. Fuhito succeeded in making another of his daughters, Kōmyōshi, the empress consort of Emperor Shōmu. She was the first empress (like Empress Wu in China) consort of Japan who was not a daughter of the imperial family itself. Fuhito had four sons; and each of them became the progenator of a cadet branch of the clan:
- the Hokke or Northern branch founded by Fujiwara no Fusasaki
- the Kyōke branch founded by Fujiwara no Maro
- the Nanke or Southern branch founded by Fujiwara no Muchimaro
- the Shikike branch founded by Fujiwara no Umakai
Among them, the Hokke came to be considered as the leaders of the entire clan.
Read more about this topic: Fujiwara Clan
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