Emperor Go-Yōzei

Emperor Go-Yōzei

Emperor Go-Yōzei (後陽成天皇 "Go-Yōzei-tennō") (December 31, 1572 - September 25, 1617) was the 107th emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. He reigned from December 17, 1586 to May 9, 1611, corresponding to the transition between the Azuchi-Momoyama period and the Edo period. [Tittsingh, Isaac. (1834). "Annales des empereurs du japon," pp. 402-409.]

This 16th century sovereign was named after the 9th century Emperor Yōzei and "go-" (後), translates literally as "later;" and thus, he could be called the "Later Emperor Yōzei". The Japanese word "go" has also been translated to mean the "second one;" and in some older sources, this emperor may be identified as "Yōzei, the second," or as "Yōzei II."


His personal name was originally Kazuhito (和仁), but was later changed to Katahito (周仁).Titsingh, p. 405.] He was the eldest son of Prince Masahito (誠仁親王), later referred to as an honorary Retired Emperor, fifth-born son of Emperor Ōgimachi. His mother was a lady-in-waiting.
* Court Lady: Konoe Sakiko (近衛前子) - Empress Dowager Chūka(中和門院)
** First daughter: Princess Shōkō (聖興女王)
** Second daughter: Princess Bunkō (文高女王)
** Third daughter: Imperial Princess Seishi (清子内親王)
** Third son: Imperial Prince Kotohito (政仁親王) (Emperor Go-Mizunoo)
** Fourth daughter: Princess Son'ei (尊英女王)
** Fourth son: Konoe Nobuhiro
** Seventh son: Imperial Prince Takamatsu-no-miya Yoshihito (高松宮好仁親王) (First Takamatsu-no-miya)
** Ninth son: Ichijō Akiyoshi (一条昭良)
** Fifth daughter: Imperial Princess Teishi? (貞子内親王)
** Tenth son: Imperial Prince Morochika (庶愛親王)
** Eleventh daughter: Princess Son'ren? (尊蓮女王)
* Lady-in-waiting: Nakayama Chikako (中山親子)
** First son: Imperial Prince Katahito (良仁親王) (later Buddhist Priest)
** Second son: Imperial Prince ?? (幸勝親王) (later Buddhist Priest)
* Lady-in-waiting: Hino Teruko (日野輝子)
** Fifth son: Imperial Prince Toshiatsu (毎敦親王) (later Buddhist Priest)
* Lady-in-waiting: Jimyōin Motoko (持明院基子)
** Sixth son: Prince Gyōnen (尭然法親王) (Buddhist Priest)
* Lady-in-waiting: Niwata Tomoko (庭田具子)
** Eighth son: Prince Ryōjun (良純法親王) (Buddhist Priest)
* Lady-in-waiting: Hamuro Nobuko (葉室宣子)
** Tenth daughter: Princess Sonsei (尊清女王)
* Handmaid?: Nishinotōin Tokiko (西洞院時子)
** Sixth daughter: Princess Eishū (永宗女王)
** Eleventh son: Kō'un'in-no-miya (高雲院宮)
* Consort: Furuichi Taneko (古市胤子)
** Twelfth son: Rei'un'in-no-miya (冷雲院宮)
** Thirteenth son: Prince Dōkō (道晃法親王) (Buddhist Priest)
** Ninth daughter: Kūkain-no-miya (空花院宮)
* Consort: Daughter of Chūtō Tokohiro (中東時広)
** Fourteenth son: Prince Dōshū (道周法親王) (Buddhist Priest)
** Fifteenth son: Prince Ji'in (慈胤法親王) (Buddhist Priest)
* Consort: Unknown
** Second daughter: Princess Bunkō (文高女王)

Events of Go-Yōzei's life

Originally, Emperor Ōgimachi's son was supposed to succeed his father. However, the said heir died in 1586 of natural causes. For this reason, Prince Katahito was made crown prince on November 5 of that year, and two days later, his grandfather the Emperor abdicated; and thus, Prince Katahito became Emperor Go-Yōzei.

* "Tenshō 14", on the 7th day of the 11th month (1586): Ogimachi gave over the reigns of government to his grandson, who would become Emperor Go-Yozei. There had been no such Imperial transition since Emperor Go-Hanazono abdicated in "Kanshō" 5. The dearth of abdications is attributable to the disturbed state of the country and to the fact that there was neither any dwelling in which an ex-emperor could live nor any excess funds in the treasury to support him. [Titsingh, p. 402; Ponsonby-Fane, Richard A. B. (1956). "Kyoto: The Old Capital of Japan, 794-1869," pp. 340-341.]
* "Tensho 14", in the 12th month (1586): A marriage is arranged between the youngest sister of Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu.Titsingh, p. 402.]
* "Tensho 14", in the 12th month (1586): The "kampaku", Toyotomi Hideyoshi, was nominated to be "Daijō-daijin". [see above] ]
* "Tenshō 16", 7th month: Emperor Go-Yōzei visits Toyotomi Hideyoshi's mansion, Sword Hunt decree
* "Tenshō 18", 7th month (1590): Hideyoshi led an army to the Kantō where he lay siege to Odawara Castle. When the fortress fell, Hōjō Ujimasa died and his brother, Hōjō Ujinao submitted to Hideyoshi's power, thus ending a period of serial internal warfare which had continued uninterrupted since the nengō "Onin" (1467). [see above] ]

Go-Yōzei's reign corresponds to the rise of Oda Nobunaga, the rule of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and the beginning of the Edo "Bakufu". He was the sovereign who confirmed the legitimacy of their accession to power:

The Emperor gave Toyotomi Hideyoshi the rank of "Taikō", originally a title given to the father of the Emperor's chief advisor ("Kampaku"), or a retired "Kampaku", which was essential to increase his status and effectively stabilize his power. This also allowed the Imperial Family to recover a small portion of its diminished powers.

* "Keichō 1" (1596): "Keichō" Invasion (invasion of Korea)
* "Keichō 3", on the 18th day of the 8th month (1598): Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the "Taiko" died in his Fushimi Castle at the age of 63. [see above] ]
* "Keichō 5", in the 9th month (1600): Battle of Sekigahara. The Tokugawa clan and its allies decisively vanquish all opposition. [see above] ]
* "Keichō 8" (1602): The Kyōto Daibutsu is destroyed by fire.
* "Keichō 8" (1603): Tokugawa Ieyasu became Shogun, which effectively becomes the beginning of what will become the Edo "bakufu". Toyotomi Hideyori was elevated to Naidaijin in Heian-kyo Daijō-kan.Titisngh, p. 409.]

When Tokugawa Ieyasu was given the title of "Seii Taishōgun", the future of any anticipated Tokugawa shogunate was by no means assured, nor was his relationship to the emperor at all settled. He gradually began to interfere in the affairs of the Imperial Court. The right to grant ranks of court nobility and change the era became a concern of the bakufu. However, the Imperial Court's poverty during the Warring States Era seemed likely to become a thing of the past, as "bakufu" provided steadily for its financial needs.

* "Keichō 10", on the 15th day of the 12th month (1605): A new volcanic island, Hachijōko-jima, arose from the sea at the side of Hachijō Island (八丈島 Hachijō-jima) in the Izu Islands (伊豆諸島, Izu-shotō) which stretch south and east from the Izu Peninsula. [see above] ]
* "Keichō 11" (1606): Construction began on Edo Castle. [see above] ]
* "Keichō 12" (1607): Construction began on Suruga Castle; and an ambassador from China arrived with greetings for the emperor of Japan. [see above] ]
* "Keichō 14" (1609): Invasion of Ryukyu by Shimzu daimyo of Satsuma. [see above] ]
* "Keichō 15" (1610): Reconstruction of the Daibutsu hall in Kyōto is begun.
* "Keichō 15", the 27th day of the 3rd month (1610): Toyotomi Hideyori came to Miyako to visit the former-Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu; and the same day, the emperor announces his intention to resigns in favor of his son Masahito. [Titsingh, p. 409; Hirai, Kiyoshi. (1950). "A Short History of the Retired Emperor's Palace in the Edo Era," "Architectural Institute of Japan: The Japanese Construction Society Academic Dissertation Report Collection" (日本建築学会論文報告集), No.61(19590325), pp. 143-150.]
* "Keichō 16" (1611): Go-Yōzei abdicates; and his son receives the succession (the "senso"); and shortly thereafter,Emperor Go-Mizunoo formally accedes to the throne (the "sokui"). [Titsingh, p. 410.]

Go-Yozei did abdicate in favor of his third son; but he had wanted to be succeeded by his younger brother, Imperial Prince Hachijō-no-miya Toshihito (八条宮智仁親王) (first of the Hachijō-no-miya line, later called Katsura-no-miya), who built the Katsura Imperial Villa.

Go-Yozei loved literature and art. He published the "Kobun Kokyo" and part of "Nihon shoki" with movable type dedicated to the emperor by Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

Go-Yozei lived for six years after abdication; and he died in Miyako on September 25, 1617.


"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-Yōzei's reign, this apex of the "Daijō-kan included:
* "Kampaku", Toyotomi Hideyoshi
* "Kampaku", Konoe Tobutaka
* "Sadaijin"
* "Udaijin"
* "Nadaijin"
* "Dainagon"

Eras of Go-Yōzei's reign

The years of Go-Yōzei's reign are more specifically identified by more than one era name or "nengō". [see above] ]
* "Tenshō" (1573-1592)
* "Bunroku" (1592-1596)
* "Keichō" (1596-1615)


* Hirai, Kiyoshi. (1950). "A Short History of the Retired Emperor's Palace in the Edo Era," "Architectural Institute of Japan: The Japanese Construction Society Academic Dissertation Report Collection" (日本建築学会論文報告集), No.61(19590325). [http://ci.nii.ac.jp/naid/110005052477/en/ link to online catalog (English)] [http://nels.nii.ac.jp/els/contents_disp.php?id=ART0008081343&type=pdf&lang=en&host=cinii&order_no=Z00000008658131&ppv_type=0&lang_sw=&no=1188495842&cp= link to digitized text/drawings (Japanese)]
* 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)]

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