Emperor Sutoku

Emperor Sutoku

Emperor Sutoku (崇徳天皇 "Sutoku-tennō") (7 July 1119 – 14 September 1164) was the 75th emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. His reign spanned the years from 1123 through 1142. [Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). "Annales des empereurs du japon," pp. 181-185; Brown, Delmer "et al." (1979). "Gukanshō," pp. 322-324; Varley, H. Paul. (1980). "Jinnō Shōtōki." pp. 204-205.]


Before his ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne, his personal name (his "imina") [Brown, pp. 264. [Up until the time of Emperor Jomei, the personal names of the emperors (their "imina") were very long and people did not generally use them. The number of characters in each name diminished after Jomei's reign.] ] was Akihito (顕仁). [Titsingh, p. 181; Brown, p. 322; Varley, p. 204.]

:: "Note": Although the Roman alphabet-spelling of the name of this twelfth-century emperor is the same as that of the personal name of the current sovereign of Japan, the kanji are dissimilar.::: Emperor Sutoku, formerly Prince Ahihito (顕仁)::: His Imperial Majesty, formerly Prince Akihito (明仁) Sutoku was the eldest son of Emperor Toba. Some old texts say he was actually the son of Toba's grandfather, Emperor Shirakawa.

Events of Sutoku's life

* "Hōan 4", on the 28th day of the 1st month (1123): In the 25th year of Emperor Toba's reign (鳥羽天皇25年), he died; and despite an ensuring dispute over who should follow her as sovereign, contemporary scholars then construed that the succession (‘‘senso’’) was received by his son. [Brown, p. 322; Varley, p. 44. [A distinct act of "senso" is unrecognized prior to Emperor Tenji; and all sovereigns except Jitō, Yōzei, Go-Toba, and Fushimi have "senso" and "sokui" in the same year until the reign of Go-Murakami.] ]
* "Hōan 4", in the 2nd month (1123): Emperor Sutoku is said to have acceded to the throne (‘‘sokui’’). [Titsingh, p. 182; Varley, p. 44.]

* "Tenji gannen", in the 2nd month (1124): Former-Emperor Horikawa and former-Emperor Toba went in carriages to outside the city where they could all together enjoy contemplating the flowers. Taiken-mon In (formerly Fujiwara no Shōshi), who was Toba's empress and Sutoku's mother, joined the procession along with many other women of the court. Their cortege was brilliant and colorful. A great many men of the court in hunting clothes followed the ladies in this parade. Fujiwara Tadamichi then followed in a carriage, accompanied by bands of musicians and women who were to sing for the emperors. [Titsingh, p. 182; Varley, p. 204.]
* "Tenji 1", in the 10th month (1124): Horikawa visited Mount Koya.Titsingh, p. 182.]
* "Tenji 2", in the 10th month (1125): The emperor visited Iwashimizu Shrine and the Kamo Shrines; and afterwards, he also visited the shrines Hirano, Ōharano, Mutsunoo, Kitano, Gion and several others. [see above] ]
* "Daiji 3", in the 3rd month (1128): Taiken-mon In ordered the construction of Enshō-ji in fulfillment of a sacred vow.Titsigh, p. 185.] This was one in a series of "sacred vow temples" ("gogan-ji") built by imperial command following a precedent established by Emperor Shirakawa's Hosshō-ji. [Varley, p. 200. [The six "gogan-ji") "superiority" temples were: 1. Hosshō-ji (Superiority of Buddhist Law); 2. Sonshō-ji (Superiority of Worship); 3. Saishō-ji (Most Superior); 4. Enshō-ji (Superiority of Perfection); 5. Jōshō-ji (Superirority of Becoming); 6. Enshō-ji (Superiority of Duration).] ]
* "Daiji 3", in the 6th month (1128): Fujiwara Tadamichi is releaved of his responsibilities and duties as "sesshō" (regent); and simultaneously, Tadamichi is named "kampaku."

* "Hōen 1", on the 7th day of the 7th month (1135): Former-Emperor Shirakawa died at the age of 77. [Brown, p. 323.]

* "Eiji 1", in the 3rd month (1141): The former emperor Toba accepted the tonsure in becoming a monk at the age of 39 years.

In 1151, Sutoko ordered Waka imperial anthology "Shika Wakashū".

In 1156, after failing to put down the Hōgen Rebellion, he was exiled to Sanuki Province (modern-day Kagawa prefecture on the island of Shikoku).Emperor Sutoku's reign lasted for 18 years: two years in the "nengō" "Tenji", 5 years in "Daiji", 1 year in "'Tenshō", 3 years in "Chōshō", 6 years in Hōen, and 1 year in "Eiji". [see above] ]


"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. 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 Sutoku's reign, this apex of the "Daijō-kan" included:
* "Sesshō", Fujiwara Tadamichi, 1097-1164.Brown, p. 323.]
* "Daijō-daijin", Fujiwara Tadamichi.
* "Sadaijin"
* "Udaijin"
* "Nadaijin", Fujiwara Yorinaga, 1120-1156. [see above] ]
* "Dainagon"

Eras of Sutoku's reign

The years of Sutoku's reign are more specifically identified by more than one era name or "nengō". [Titsingh, pp. 181-185; Brown, p. 323.]
* "Hōan" (1120–1124)
* "Tenji" (1124–1126)
* "Daiji" (1126–1131)
* "Tenshō" (1131–1132)
* "Chōshō" (1132–1135)
* "Hōen" (1135–1141)
* "Eiji" (1141–1142)


After Sotoku's abdication and exile, he devoted himself to monastic life. He copied numerous scriptures and offered them to the court. Fearing that the scriptures were cursed, the court refused to accept them. Snubbed, Sotoku was said to have resented the court and, upon his death, became an onryō. Everything from the subsequent fall in fortune of the Imperial court, the rise of the samurai powers, draughts and internal unrests were blamed on his haunting.

Alternatively, he was said to have transformed into an Ootengu (greater tengu), whom, along with the nine-tailed kitsune of Tamamo-no-Mae and the oni Shuten Dōji, are often called the three greatest yōkai of Japan.


* Brown, Delmer M. and Ichirō Ishida, eds. (1979). [ Jien, c. 1220] , "Gukanshō (The Future and the Past, a translation and study of the Gukanshō, an interpretative history of Japan written in 1219)." Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-03460-0
* Titsingh, Isaac, ed. (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)]
* Varley, H. Paul , ed. (1980). [ Kitabatake Chikafusa, 1359] , "Jinnō Shōtōki ("A Chronicle of Gods and Sovereigns: Jinnō Shōtōki of Kitabatake Chikafusa" translated by H. Paul Varley)." New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-04940-4

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