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Emperor Higashiyama

Emperor Higashiyama

Higashiyama Tennō (東山天皇) (October 21, 1675 - January 16, 1710) was the 113th emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. He reigned from May 6, 1687 until his abdication on July 27, 1709, corresponding to the Genroku era.

The previous hundred years of peace and isolation in Japan had created relative economic stability. The arts, theater and architecture flourished.

Emperor Higashiyama Early life

Prior to Higashiyama's ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne, his personal name (imina) was Asahito (朝 仁) or Tomohito. Tomohito was born on October 21, 1675 and was the fifth son of Emperor Reigen; his birth mother was a lady-in-waiting named Matsuki Muneko.

While Prince Tomohito was the son of a secondary consort, he was adopted by Empress Takatsukasa Fusako (chief consort or Chūgū). Tomohito's imperial family lived with him in the Dairi of the Heian Palace.

Events that took place before Tomohito became crown prince include a great flood that devastated Edo (present-day Tokyo), a great famine that devastated Kyoto, and the Great Tenna Fire in Edo.

The Buddhist temple Shingon Gokoku-ji was also founded in Edo, where it remains today as one of the few sites in Tokyo to survive World War II. Tomohito-shinnō was proclaimed crown prince in 1682 and received the pre-accession title of Go-no-miya (五 宮).

For the first time in more than 300 years, a ceremonial investiture was held for the occasion. A fire burned the Kyoto Imperial Palace to ashes in 1684, prompting a reconstruction that took a year to complete.

The effects of this fire on the imperial family, if any, are unknown. Emperor Reigen's brother, the exemperor Go-Sai, died on March 26, 1685, and a large comet was observed crossing the night sky.

Emperor Higashiyama Reign

Emperor Higashiyama

Prince Tomohito acceded to the throne on May 2, 1687 as Emperor when his father abdicated in his favor, the era name was changed from Jōkyō to Genroku to mark this event.

While he held the political title of Emperor, it was in name only as the Shoguns of the Tokugawa family controlled Japan. Initially, Emperor Reigen continued to rule in Higashiyama's name as a cloistered emperor as had been done in the Heian period.

While this move caused problems by provoking the ruling shogunate, Higashiyama's gentle character helped improve relations with the Shōgun. This warm relationship led to the increase of imperial property and repairs were carried out on the imperial mausoleums.

Meanwhile, Reigen lived out his retirement in the Sentō-gosho (the palace for a former Emperor), and is now known to be the last "cloistered Emperor" of Japan.

On the 16th day of the 11th month of this year, he reestablished the Daijōsai (大嘗祭), the first ceremonial offering of rice by a newly enthroned emperor. On December 20, 1688, the esoteric Daijō-sai ceremony was revived due to the insistence of the shogunate.

This Shinto ritual had been in abeyance for more than a century, and the emperor performs it only once during the period of the enthronement ceremonies.

  • 1688 (Genroku gannen): the Tokugawa shogunate revised the code of conduct for funerals (Fuku-kiju-ryō), which also incorporated a code of conduct for mourning. September 16, 1689 (Genroku 2): the German physician Engelbert Kaempfer arrives in Dejima for the first time. Bakufu policy at this time was designed to marginalize the influence of foreigners; and Kaempfer had to present himself as "Dutch" in his dealings with the Japanese. Regardless of this minor subterfuge, an unintended and opposite consequence of sakoku was to enhance the value and importance of a very small number of thoughtful observers like Kaempfer, whose writings document what he learned or discovered firsthand. Kaempfer's published accounts and unpublished writings provided a unique and useful perspective for Orientalists and Japanologists in the nineteenth century; and his work continues to be rigorously examined by modern researchers today.
  • 1695 (Genroku 8, 8th month): Genroku coinage begins. The shogunate placed the Japanese character gen (元) on the obverse of the copper coins, the same character used today in China for the yuan. However, there is no connection between those usages.
  • 1695 (Genroku 8, 11th month): the first kennel for stray dogs is established in Edo. In this context, Tokugawa Tsunayoshi comes to be nicknamed the "Dog Shōgun" (犬 公 方, Inu-kubō).
  • 1697 (Genroku 10): the fourth official map of Japan was made in this year, but it was considered to be inferior to the previous one, which had been ordered in 1605 (Shōhō 1) and completed in 1639 (Kan'ei 16) . This Genroku map was corrected in 1719 (Kyōhō 4) by the mathematician Tatebe Katahiro (1644-1739), using high mountain peaks as reference points, and was drawn at a scale of 1: 21,600.
  • 1697 (Genroku 10): Great fire in Edo.
  • 1697 (Genroku 11): Another great fire in Edo. A new hall is built within the grounds of the Edo temple of Kan'ei-ji (which is also known as Tōeizan Kan'ei-ji or "Eastern Hiei-san" after the head temple of the Tendai Buddhist sect), i.e., after the temple of Enryaku-ji on Mount Hiei near Heian-kyō.
  • 1703 (Genroku 15, 14th day of the 12th month): when the Akō Incident occurred, in which a band of forty-seven samurai avenged the death of their master Asano Naganori, due to bloodshed, Emperor Higashiyama almost Withdrew the imperial will.
  • 1703 (Genroku 16, 5th month): First performance of Chikamatsu Monzaemon's play, The Love Suicides in Sonezaki.
  • 1703 (Genroku 16, 28th day of the 11th month): The great Genroku earthquake shook Edo and parts of the shōgun castle collapsed. The next day, a great fire spread throughout the city. Parts of the Honshū coast were hit by a tsunami, and 200,000 people were killed or injured.
  • October 28, 1707 (Hōei 4, 14th day of the tenth month): 1707 Hōei earthquake. The city of Osaka suffers greatly due to a very violent earthquake.
  • November 15, 1707 (Hōei 4, the 22nd day of the tenth month): an eruption of Mount Fuji releases ash and cinders that fall as rain in Izu, Kai, Sagami, and Musashi provinces.
  • 1708 (Hōei 5): the shogunate introduces new copper coins into circulation; and each coin is marked with the name Hōei nengō (Hōei Tsubo).
  • 1708 (Hōei 5, 8th day of the 3rd month): there was a great fire in Heian-kyō.
  • 1708 (Hōei 5, 8th month): Italian missionary Giovanni Sidotti arrives in Yakushima, where he was immediately arrested.
  • 1709 (Hōei 6): Shōgun Tsunayoshi appoints commission to repair and restore imperial mausoleums.
  • 1709 (Hōei 6, fourth month): Tokugawa Ienobu, Tsunayoshi's nephew, becomes the sixth shōgun of the Tokugawa Shogunate.

Abdication and Death of Emperor Higashiyama

On July 27, 1709, Emperor Higashiyama abdicates his power and passes it to his son the crown prince, Emperor Nakamikado. The following year, on January 16, 1710, Higashiyama dies of smallpox.

Higashiyama is among those enshrined in the imperial mausoleum Tsuki no wa no misasagi, at Sennyū-ji in Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto.

Also enshrined at this location are this emperor's immediate imperial predecessors since Emperor Go-Mizunoo: Meishō, Go-Kōmyō, Go-Sai and Reigen.

Higashiyama's immediate imperial successors, including Nakamikado, Sakuramachi, Momozono, Go-Sakuramachi, and Go-Momozono, are also enshrined there.

Emperor Higashiyama Eras of reign

The years of Higashiyama's reign are more specifically identified by more than one era name or nengō.

Jōkyō (1684-1688)

  • Genroku (1688-1704)
  • Hōei (1704-1711)

Emperor Higashiyama Genealogy

He was the fifth son of Reigen Tennō. He had at least ten children:

Empress: Princess Yukiko (幸子女王), Empress Dowager SyōSyū (承秋門院), daughter of Arisugawa-no-miya Yukihito.
  • First daughter: Imperial Princess Akiko (秋子内親王)
  • Kushige Yoshiko (櫛笥賀子)
  • First son: Ichi-no-miya (一宮)
  • Second son: Ni-no-miya (二宮)
  • Fourth son: Kotobuki-no-miya (寿宮)
  • Fifth son: Imperial Prince Yasuhito (慶仁親王) (Emperor Nakamikado)
  • Sixth son: Imperial Prince Kan'in-no-miya Naohito (閑院宮直仁親王)- First Kan'in-no-miya
  • Servant: Daughter of Takatsuji (Sugawara) Nagakazu (高辻(菅原)長豊)
  • Third son: Prince Kōkan (公寛法親王) (Buddhist priest)
  • Third daughter: Kōmyōjyō'in-no-miya (光明定院宮)
  • Fourth daughter: Princess Syōsyuku (聖祝女王)