Empress Go-Sakuramachi

Empress Go-Sakuramachi

Empress Go-Sakuramachi (後桜町天皇 "Go-Sakuramachi-tennō") (September 23, 1740 – December 24, 1813) was the 117th emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. She is the last woman ever to reign as Empress regnant, out of eight in the history of Japan. She was the eighth woman to ascend the Chrysanthemum Throne. [The empresses who reigned before Go-Sakuramachi"-tennō" were (1) Suiko, (2) Kōgyoku/Saimei, (3) Jitō, (4)Gemmei, (5) Genshō, and (6) Kōken/Shōtoku, and (7) Meishō.] The years of her reign spanned the period from 1762 to 1771.Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). "Annales des empereurs du Japon," p. 419.]

This 18th century sovereign was named after her father Emperor Sakuramachi and "go-" (後), translates literally as "later;" and thus, she could be called the "Later Sakuramachi". The Japanese word "go" has also been translated to mean the "second one;" and in some older sources, this empress might be identified as "Sakuramachi, the second" or as "Sakuramachi II".


Before her accession to the Chrysanthemum Throne, her personal name ( was nihongo| Toshiko |智子. [see above] ] Her initial pre-accession title was "Isa-no-miya" (以茶宮) and later "Ake-no-miya" (緋宮).

She was the second daughter of Emperor Sakuramachi. Her mother was Nijō Ieko (二条 舎子). Her older sister died young, and her younger brother was Emperor Momozono.

Events of Go-Sakuramachi's life

In 1762, she acceded to the throne by a special decree of Emperor Momozono, whose son Prince Hidehito (later Emperor Go-Momozono) was only 5 years old.

By her enthronement, she became the first reigning empress in her own right in 119 years, since Empress Meishō.

In the ninth year of her reign, 1770, she abdicated in favor of Emperor Go-Momozono. Although there were seven other reigning empresses, their successors were most often selected from amongst the males of the paternal Imperial bloodline, which is why some conservative scholars argue that the women's reigns were temporary and that male-only succession tradition must be maintained in the 21st century. [http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20070327i1.html "Life in the Cloudy Imperial Fishbowl,"] "Japan Times." March 27, 2007.] Empress Gemmei, who was followed on the throne by her daughter, Empress Genshō, remains the sole exception to this conventional argument.

However, Go-Momozono's reign did not last long, ending in 1779 when Go-Momozono died without leaving a son. When her nephew was dying, the then-retired (Daijo Tenno) Go-Sakuramachi consulted with the senior courtiers and imperial guards, planning to accept Prince Fushimi-no-miya as an adopted son, but they eventually decided on Prince Morohito (師仁), sixth son of Prince Kan'in-no-miya Sukehito (閑院宮典仁), who was supported by the emperor's chief advisor (Kampaku). Prince Morohito, hastily adopted by Go-Momozono at deathbed, became Emperor Kōkaku.

After the throne had switched to that branch of the imperial line, Go-Sakuramachi, in her role as Retired Emperor, came to be referred to as the Guardian of the Young Lord (Emperor Kōkaku). In this role, in 1789, during a scandal involving an honorary title, she admonished the Emperor.

She died in 1813, at the age of 73. She is buried at "Tsukinowa no misasagi" (月輪陵) in Kyoto's Higashiyama section.

She left behind a book called "Kinchū-nenjū no koto" (禁中年中の事, roughly "Matters of Years in the Imperial Court"), consisting of poems, imperial letters, imperial chronicles, and so forth, excelling in literary merit.


"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 Go-Sakuramachi's reign, this apex of the "Daijō-kan included:
* "Sadaijin"
* "Udaijin"
* "Nadaijin"
* "Dainagon"

Eras of Go-Sakuramachi's reign

The years of Go-Sakuramachi's reign are more specifically identified by more than one era name or "nengō". [see above] ]
* " Hōreki" (1751-1764)
* "Meiwa" (1764-1772)


* 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 deigitized, full-text copy of this book (in French)]

ee also

* Japanese empresses

External links

* [http://www.kunaicho.go.jp/ryobo/guide/117/index.html -- Imperial Household Agency page on Go-Sakuramachi's tomb]

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