Emperor Go-Yōzei

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Emperor of Japan
Emperor Go-Yōzei2.jpg
Reign December 17, 1586 – May 9, 1611
Coronation December 15, 1586
Predecessor Ōgimachi
Successor Go-Mizunoo
Born December 31, 1571
Died September 25, 1617 (aged 45)
Burial Fukakusa no kita no misasagi (Kyoto)
Spouse Fujiwara no (Konoe) Sakiko
(Chūwa-mon in)
Issue Imperial Prince Katahito
Princess Shōkō
Princely Priest Shōkai
Imperial Princess Seishi
Princess Bunkō
Imperial Prince Kotohito
Princess Son'ei
Konoe Nobuhiro
Prince Toshiatsu
Imperial Prince Tsuneyoshi
Imperial Prince Yoshihito
Princely Priest Ryōjun
Ichijō Akiyoshi
Imperial Princess Teishi
Prince Morochika
Princess Eishū
Princely Priest Dōkō
Princely Priest Dōshū
Princess Sonsei
Princess Son'ren
Princely Priest Ji'in
House Imperial House of Japan
(Yamato Dynasty)
Father Prince Masahito
(Yōkō in)
Mother Fujiwara no (kajūji) Haruko
(Shin-Jōtō-mon in)

Emperor Go-Yōzei (後陽成天皇 Go-Yōzei-tennō?, December 31, 1571 – September 25, 1617) was the 107th Emperor of Japan,[1] according to the traditional order of succession.[2]

Go-Yōzei's reign spanned the years from 1586 through 1611,[3] corresponding to the transition between the Azuchi-Momoyama period and the Edo period.

This 16th-century sovereign was named after the 9th-century Emperor Yōzei, and go- (?), 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."


Before Go-Yōzei's ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne, his personal name (imina) was Katahito (周仁?).[4]

He was the eldest son of Prince Masahito (誠仁親王 Masahito-shinnō?, 1552–1586),[5] also known as Prince Sanehito and posthumously named Yōkwōin daijō-tennō, who was the eldest son of Emperor Ōgimachi.[6] His mother was a lady-in-waiting.

Go-Yōzei's Imperial family lived with him in the Dairi of the Heian Palace. The family included at least 35 children:[7]

  • Court Lady: Konoe Sakiko (近衛前子) – Empress Dowager Chūwa (中和門院) (1575–1630)
    • First daughter: Princess Shōkō (聖興女王) (1590–1594)
    • Second daughter: Ryūtōin-no-miya (龍登院宮) (1592–1600)
    • Third daughter: Imperial Princess Seishi (清子内親王) (1593–1674)
    • Fourth daughter: Princess Bunkō (文高女王) (1595–1644)
    • Third son: Imperial Prince Kotohito (政仁親王) (later Emperor Go-Mizunoo) (1596–1680)
    • Fifth daughter: Princess Son'ei (尊英女王) (1598–1611)
    • Fourth son: Konoe Nobuhiro (近衛信尋) (1599–1649)
    • Seventh son: Imperial Prince Yoshihito (好仁親王) (later First Takamatsu-no-miya) (1603–1638)
    • Ninth son: Ichijō Akiyoshi (一条昭良) (1605–1672)
    • Sixth daughter: Imperial Princess Teishi? (貞子内親王) (1606–1675)
    • Tenth son: Imperial Prince Morochika (庶愛親王) (later Buddhist Priest Sonkaku) (1608–1661)
    • Twelfth daughter: Princess Son'ren? (尊蓮女王) (1614–1627)
  • Lady-in-waiting: Nakayama Chikako (中山親子) (1576–1608)
    • First son: Imperial Prince Katahito (良仁親王) (later Princely Priest Kakushin) (1588–1648)
    • Second son: Princely Priest Shōkai (承快法親王) (1591–1609)
  • Lady-in-waiting: Hino Teruko (日野輝子) (1581–1607)
    • Fifth son: Imperial Prince Toshiatsu (毎敦親王) (later Princely Priest Sonsei) (1602–1651)
  • Lady-in-waiting: Jimyōin Motoko (持明院基子) (?–1644)
  • Lady-in-waiting: Niwata Tomoko (庭田具子) (?–1626)
  • Lady-in-waiting: Hamuro Nobuko (葉室宣子) (?–1679)
    • Eleventh daughter: Princess Sonsei (尊清女王) (1613–1669)
  • Handmaid?: Nishinotōin Tokiko (西洞院時子) (?–1661)
    • Seventh daughter: Princess Eishū (永崇女王) (1609–1690)
    • Eighth daughter: Kō'un'in-no-miya (高雲院宮) (1610–1612)
  • Consort: Furuichi Taneko (古市胤子) (1583–1658)
    • Ninth daughter: Rei'un'in-no-miya (冷雲院宮) (1611)
    • Eleventh son: Princely Priest Dōkō (道晃法親王) (1612–1679)
    • Tenth daughter: Kūkain-no-miya (空花院宮) (1613)
  • Consort: Daughter of Chūtō Tokohiro (中東時広) (?–1680)
    • Twelfth son: Princely Priest Dōshū (道周法親王) (1613–1634)
    • Thirteenth son: Princely Priest Ji'in (慈胤法親王) (1617–1699)

Events of Go-Yōzei's life

Prince Katahito became emperor when his grandfather abdicated. The succession (senso) was considered to have been received by the new monarch; and shortly thereafter, Emperor Go-Yōzei is said to have acceded (sokui).[8] The events during his lifetime shed some light on his reign. The years of Go-Yōzei's reign correspond with the start of the Tokugawa shogunate under the leadership of Tokugawa Ieyasu and Tokugawa Hidetada.

  • December 31, 1571: The birth of an Imperial prince who will become known by the posthumous name of Go-Yōzei-tennō.[9]
  • November 5, 1586: Prince Katahito was given the title Crown Prince and heir.[10]
  • December 17, 1586 (Tenshō 14, on the 7th day of the 11th month): Ogimachi gave over the reins of government to his grandson, who would become Emperor Go-Yōzei. There had been no such Imperial transition since Emperor Go-Hanazono abdicated in 1464 (Kanshō 5). The dearth of abdications is attributable to the disturbed state of the country and because there was neither any dwelling for an ex-emperor nor excess funds in the treasury to support him.[11]
  • 1586 (Tenshō 14, in the 12th month) (1586): The kampaku, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, was nominated to be Daijō-daijin (Chancellor of the Realm).[10]
  • 1588 (Tenshō 16, 7th month): Emperor Go-Yōzei and his father visit Toyotomi Hideyoshi's mansion in Kyoto. This was the first time that an emperor appeared in public since 1521.[12]
  • 1590 (Tenshō 18, 7th month): 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 Onin War (1467–1477).[13]
  • 1602 (Keichō 8): The Kyōto Daibutsu is destroyed by fire.
  • January 23, 1605 (Keichō 10, 15th day of the 12th month): 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.[15]
  • 1607 (Keichō 12): Construction began on Suruga Castle; and an ambassador from China arrived with greetings for the emperor of Japan.[15]
  • 1610 (Keichō 15): Reconstruction of the Daibutsu hall in Kyōto is begun.
  • May 20, 1610 (Keichō 15, the 27th day of the 3rd month): Toyotomi Hideyori came to Kyoto to visit the former-Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu; and the same day, the emperor announces his intention to resign in favor of his son Masahito.[17]
  • May 9, 1611 (Keichō 16): Go-Yōzei abdicates; and his son Prince Masahito receives the succession (the senso); and shortly thereafter, Go-Mizunoo formally accedes to the throne (the sokui).[18]


Go-Yōzei's reign corresponds to 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; and this period allowed the Imperial Family to recover a small portion of its diminished powers.

This 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.

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 the bakufu provided steadily for its financial needs.

Go-Yōzei did abdicate in favor of his third son; but he 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-Yōzei loved literature and art. He published the Kobun Kokyo and part of Nihon shoki with movable type dedicated to the emperor by Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

After abdication, Go-Yōzei lived for six years in the Sentō Imperial Palace; and thereafter, it became the usual place to which abdicated emperors would retire.[7] The name of this palace and its gardens was Sentō-goshō; and emperors who had abdicated were sometimes called Sentō-goshō.

  • September 25, 1617: Go-Yōzei died.[9]

The kami of Emperor Go-Yōzei is enshrined with other emperors at the imperial mausoleum (misasagi) called Fukakusa no kita no misasagi (深草北陵) in Fushimi-ku, Kyoto.[19]


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:

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.[13]

See also


Japanese Imperial kamon — a stylized chrysanthemum blossom
  1. Imperial Household Agency (Kunaichō): 後陽成天皇 (107)
  2. Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1959). The Imperial House of Japan, pp. 111–113.
  3. Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). Annales des empereurs du japon, pp. 402–409.
  4. Ponsonby-Fane, Imperial House, p. 9; Titsingh, p. 402.
  5. Ponsonby-Fane, Imperial House, p. 424.
  6. Ponsonby-Fane, Imperial House, p. 10.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Ponsonby-Fane, Imperial House, p. 113.
  8. Titsingh, p. 402. 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 Emperor Go-Murakamisee Varley, H. Paul. (1980). Jinnō Shōtōki, p. 44.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Meyer, Eva-Maria. (1999). Japans Kaiserhof in der Edo-Zeit, p. 186.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Titsingh, p. 402.
  11. Ponsonby-Fane, Richard A. B. (1956). Kyoto: The Old Capital of Japan, 794–1869, pp. 340–341; Titsingh, p. 402; Meyer, p. 186.
  12. Ponsonby-Fane, Imperial House, p. 111.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 Titsingh, p. 405.
  14. Ponsonby-Fane, Imperial House, pp. 111–112.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 Titisngh, p. 409.
  16. Ponsonby-Fane, Imperial House, p. 112; Titsingh, p. 409.
  17. 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.
  18. Titsingh, p. 410; Meyer, p. 186.
  19. Ponsonby-Fane, Imperial House, p. 423.


Regnal titles
Preceded by
Emperor Ōgimachi
Emperor of Japan:

Succeeded by
Emperor Go-Mizunoo