Emperor Kōkaku

Emperor Kōkaku

Emperor Kōkaku (光格天皇 "Kōkaku-tennō") (September 23, 1771 – December 11, 1840) was the 119th emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. His reign spanned the years 1780 through 1817. [Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). "Annales des empereurs du japon," pp. 420-421.]


Before his ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne, his personal name (his "iminia") was originally Morohito"-shinnō" (師仁親王), but later it was changed to Tomohito"-shinnō" (兼仁親王).Titsingh, p. 420.] His pre-accession title was "Sachi-no-miya" (祐宮).

He was the sixth son of Prince Kan'in-no-miya Sukehito (閑院宮典仁), grandson of Emperor Higashiyama.

On the day before his enthronement, the dying Go-Momozono, his second cousin, formally adopted him as his son.

*Empress ("chūgū"): Imperial Princess Yoshiko (欣子内親王), daughter of Emperor Go-Momozono (Emperor's chief wife Yoshiko (欣子内親王), also known as Shin-Seiwa-In (新清和院))
**Third son: Imperial Prince Masuhito (温仁親王)
**Seventh son: Imperial Prince Toshihito (悦仁親王)
*Lady-in-waiting: Hamuro Yoriko (葉室頼子)
**First son: Imperial Prince Uyahito (禮仁親王)
**First daughter: Nobu-no-miya (能布宮)
**Second son: Taka-no-miya (俊宮)
*Lady-in-waiting: Kajyūji Tadako (勧修寺婧子)
**Fourth son: Imperial Prince Ayahito (恵仁親王) (Emperor Ninkō)
**Second daughter: ?? (多祉宮)
**Fourth daughter: Haru-no-miya (娍宮)
*Lady-in-waiting: Takano Masako? (高野正子)
**Sixth son: Naka-no-miya (猗宮)
*Lady-in-waiting: Anekōji Satoko (姉小路 聡子)
**Fifth daughter: Tsune-no-miya (倫宮)
**Eighth son: Kata-no-miya (嘉糯宮)
*??: Higashibō Kazuko? (東坊城和子)
**Fifth son: Imperial Prince Katsura-no-miya Takehito (桂宮盛仁親王)
**Third daughter: ?? (霊妙心院)
*??: Tomikōji Teruko (富小路明子)
**Sixth daughter: Masa-no-miya (治宮)
**Seventh daughter: Imperial Princess Moriko (蓁子内親王)
**Eighth daughter: Tsuru-no-miya (媛宮)
**Ninth daughter: Katsu-no-miya (勝宮)

Events of Kōkaku's life

He reigned from December 16, 1779 until May 7, 1817.

As a younger son of an imperial collateral branch the Kan'in house, it was originally expected that Tomohito"-shinnō" would go into the priesthood at the Shugoin Temple. However, in 1779, the sonless and dying emperor Go-Momozono hurriedly adopted him on his deathbed, even though he was not a "shinnō" (imperial prince).

Kōkaku was very talented and had a zeal for scholarship, reviving festivals at the Iwashimizu and Kamono shrines, and working hard at reviving ceremonies surrounding the Imperial Court. The Bakufu gave his father the honorary title of Retired Emperor (Daijō Tennō, 太上天皇). Genealogically, Kōkaku is the founder of the dynastic imperial branch currently on the throne. Kōkaku is the lineal ancestor of all the succeeding emperors of Japan up to present monarch, Akihito.

One of the emperor's personal physicians during this period was Tachibana Nankei, also known as Miyagawa Shunki and as Iwami-no-kami . He traveled for five years before being appointed the emperor's personal physician. [Screech, p. 224 n116.]

During Kōkaku's reign, the Imperial Court attempted to re-assert some of its authority by proposing a relief program to the Bakufu at the time of the Great "Tenmei" Famine (1782-1788) and receiving information about negotiations with Russia over disputes in the north.
* "Tenmei gannen" (天明元年) or "Tenmei 1" (1781): The new era name of "Tenmei" (meaning "Dawn") was created to mark the enthronement of new emperor. The previous era ended and the new one commenced in "An'ei" 11, on the 2nd day of the 4th month.
* "Tenmei 2" (1782): Great "Tenmei" Famine begins.
* "Tenmei 2" (1782): An analysis of silver currency in China and Japan "Sin sen sen pou (Sin tchuan phou)" was presented to the emperor by Kutsuki Masatsuna (1750-1802), also known as Kutsuki Oki-no kami Minamoto-no Masatsuna, hereditary daimyo of Oki and Ōmi with holdings in Tamba and Fukuchiyama -- "related note at Tenmei 7 below". [see above] ]
* "Tenmei 3" (1783): Mount Asama (浅間山, "Asama-yama") erupted in Shinano, one of the old provinces of Japan. [Today, Asama-yama's location is better described as on the border between Gunma and Nagano prefectures] . Japanologist Isaac Titsingh's published account of the of Asama-yama eruption will become first of its kind in the West (1820). [Screech, T. (2006), "Secret Memoirs of the Shoguns: Isaac Titsingh and Japan, 1779-1822," pp. 146-148; Titsingh, p. 420.] The volcano's devastation makes the Great "Tenmei" Famine even worse.
* "Tenmei 4" (1784): Country-wide celebrations in honor of Kūkai (also known as Kōbō-Daishi, 弘法大師), founder of Shingon Buddhism) who died 950 years earlier. [see above] ]
* "Tenmei 6", on the 8th day of the 9th month (September 17, 1786): Tokugawa Ieharu) died and was buried in Yedo. [see above] ]
* "Tenmei 7" (1787): Kutsuki Masatsuna published "Seiyō senpu" ("Notes on Western Coinage"), with plates showing European and colonial currency -- "related note at Tenmei 2 above". [Screech, T. (2000). "Shogun's Painted Culture: Fear and Creativity in the Japanese States, 1760-1829," pp. 123, 125.] [http://www.google.com/search?q=cache:3QDOwDz5GUkJ:www.kufs.ac.jp/toshokan/50/senf.htm+Seiyo-sempu&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=2&gl=us&client=firefox-a -- see online image of 2 adjacent pages from library collection of Kyoto University of Foreign Studies and Kyoto Junior College of Foreign Languages]
* "Tenmei 8" (1788): Great Fire of Miyako. A fire in the city, which began at 3 o'clock in the morning of the 29th day of the 1st month of "Tenmei" 8 (March 6, 1788), continued to burn uncontrolled until the 1st day of the second month (March 8th); and embers smoldered until they were extinguished by heavy rain on the 4th day of the second month (March 11th). The emperor and his court fled the fire, and the Imperial Palace was destroyed. No other re-construction was permitted until a new palace was completed. This fire was considered a major event. The Dutch "VOC" "Opperhoofd" in Dejima noted in his official record book that "people are considering it to be a great and extraordinary heavenly portent." [Screech, pp. 152-154, 249-250]

In 1817, Kōkaku abdicated in favor of his son, Emperor Ninkō. In the two centuries before Kōkaku's reign most emperors died young or were forced to abdicate. Kōkaku was the first Japanese monarch to remain on the throne past the age of 40 since the abdication of Emperor Ōgimachi in 1586.

The last Emperor to rule as a Jōkō (Jōkō (上皇) is a shortened Japanese term for an emperor who abdicated in favor of a successor) was Emperor Kōkaku (1779-1817). The Emperor later created an incident called the "Songo" incident" (the "respectful title incident"). The emperor came into dispute with the Tokugawa Shogunate about his intention to give a title of Abdicated Emperor ("Daijō-ten'nō") to his father, who was an Imperial Prince Sukehito. [National Archives of Japan [http://jpimg.digital.archives.go.jp/kouseisai/category/emaki/sakuramachi_e.html ..."Sakuramachiden Gyokozu": see caption text] ]


"Kugyō" (公卿) is a collective term for the very few most powerful men attached to the court of the Emperor of Japan in pre-Meiji eras. Even during those years in which the court's actual influence outside the palace walls was minimal, the hierarchic organization persisted.

In general, this elite group included only three to four men at a time. These were hereditary courtiers whose experience and background would have brought them to the pinnacle of a life's career. During Kōkaku's reign, this apex of the "Daijō-kan included:
* "Sadaijin"
* "Udaijin"
* "Naidaijin"
* "Dainagon"

Eras of Kōkaku's reign

The years of Kōkaku's reign are more specifically identified by more than one era name or "nengō". [see above] ]
* " An'ei" (1772-1781)
* "Tenmei" (1781-1789)
* "Kansei" (1789-1801)
* " Kyōwa" (1801-1804)
* "Bunka" (1804-1818)


* Screech, Timon. (2006). "Secret Memoirs of the Shoguns: Isaac Titsingh and Japan, 1779-1822." London: RoutledgeCurzon. ISBN 0-700-71720-X
* Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). [Siyun-sai Rin-siyo/Hayashi Gahō, 1652] , "Nipon o daï itsi ran; ou, Annales des empereurs du Japon, tr. par M. Isaac Titsingh avec l'aide de plusieurs interprètes attachés au comptoir hollandais de Nangasaki; ouvrage re., complété et cor. sur l'original japonais-chinois, accompagné de notes et précédé d'un Aperçu d'histoire mythologique du Japon, par M. J. Klaproth." Paris: Oriental Translation Fund of Great Britain and Ireland. [http://books.google.com/books?id=18oNAAAAIAAJ&dq=nipon+o+dai+itsi+ran ...Click link for digitized, full-text copy of this book (in French)]

ee also

* Imperial Household of Japan

External links

* National Archives of Japan: [http://jpimg.digital.archives.go.jp/kouseisai/category/emaki/sakuramachi_e.html "Sakuramachiden Gyokozu", scroll depicting Kōkaku in formal procession]

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