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Emperor Kazan

Emperor Kazan

Emperor Kazan (花山天皇, Kazan-tennō, November 29, 968 - March 17, 1008) was the sixty-fifth emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession, and ruled from 984 to 9861.

Emperor Kazan Genealogy

Before his accession to the Chrysanthemum Throne, his personal name (his iminia) was Morosada-shinnō (守平親王).

Morosada-shinnō was the son of Emperor Reizei and thus the brother of Emperor Sanjō.

Wives and concubines

  • Fujiwara no Kishi (Tsuneko), daughter of Fujiwara no Tamemitsu and a daughter of Fujiwara no Atsutoshi; entered the palace in 984; imperial wife (nyogo) in 984; died in 985.
  • Fujiwara no Shinshi, daughter of Fujiwara no Asateru and a daughter of prince Shigeakira; entered the palace in 984; imperial wife in 984; left the palace in 985.
  • Fujiwara no Shishi, daughter of Fujiwara no Yoritada and princess Genshi, entered the palace in 984; imperial wife (nyogo) in 984; died in 1035.
  • Princess Enshi, born in 972 and died in 998, daughter of prince Tamehira and a daughter of prince Takaakira; entered the palace in 985; imperial wife (nyogo) (later married to Fujiwara no Sanesuke)
Nakatsukasa, wife of Taira no Suketada; mistress of Kazan after his abdication; of whom he had 3 children:
  • Princess, died in 1008
  • Princess, adopted by her maternal aunt Hyobu no Myobu
  • Prince Kiyohito; born in 998 after his father's abdication; President of the College of Censors; titled imperial prince, 6th son of the emperor Reizei; died in 1030
Taira no Heishi, daughter of Taira no Suketada and Nakatsukasa; mistress of Kazan after his abdication; of whom he had 3 children:
  • Princess, died in 1008
  • Princess, died in 1008
  • Prince Akinari, born in 998 after his father's abdication; naidaijin (Minister of the Center); titled imperial prince 5th son of the emperor Reizei; died in 1035.

Emperor Kazan's Biography


At the beginning of his reign, the emperors Reizei-in and En'yū-in both bore the title of Daijō-tennō.

  • Eikan Era, the 27th of the 8th month (984): In the fifteenth year of En'yū-tennō's reign (円融天皇15年), the emperor abdicated; and the succession (the senso) was received by his nephew, the eldest son of Emperor Reizei. Soon afterwards, the emperor Kazan, aged only 17, was said to have acceded to the throne (the sokui).

Two years later, upon the death of his wife Tsuneko, a member of the Fujiwara clan, a short political struggle arose within the Fujiwara clan, as a result of which Fujiwara no Kaneie forced him to abdicate and put his grandson Ichijō on the throne.

Kazan was a renowned waka poet, and during his reign he gave Fujiwara no Kintō the task of compiling the Shūishū anthology.

Bandō Pilgrimage

After abdicating, Kazan became a Buddhist monk and retired to the temple of Gangyō-ji, also known after this time as Kazan-ji.

He made various pilgrimages and "re-founded" the Kannon pilgrimage, this pilgrimage having theoretically already been founded by a monk named Tokudo Shonin (Some historians doubt, however, that Kazan, with his unstable mental health, could not have founded this pilgrimage, thus leaving all credit to Shonin).

This pilgrimage consisted of traveling to 33 places, located in the eight provinces of the Bandō region. Kannon is said to have told him, in a vision, to visit these 33 sites to be freed from suffering.

The first site of this pilgrimage would be Sugimoto-dera in Kamakura. This site is also the first of the Kamakura pilgrimage.

Illness and death of Emperor Kazan

According to many historians, Kazan's mental health, especially towards the end of his life, was not brilliant. Moreover, the life of a monk would have contributed to this deterioration. Kazan died at the age of 40.

Kazan died in 1008; and he is buried among the "seven imperial tombs" at Ryoan-ji temple in Kyoto. The mound that commemorates Emperor Kazan is now called "Kinugasa-yama".

The burial place of Kazan would have been quite humble in the period after the emperor died. These tombs reached their present state after the restoration of the imperial tombs that were commissioned by the Meiji emperor.

Emperor Kazana as Kugyō

The Kugyō (公卿) is a collective name for the most respected men of the kuge, the most powerful officials in the imperial court, the most important ministers in the daijō-kan.

During the Kazan reign, there were ministers like:

  • Kampaku, Fujiwara no Yoritada, 924-989.
  • Daijō-daijin, Fujiwara no Yoritada.
  • Sadaijin, Fujiwara no Kaneie, 929-990.
  • Nadaijin, Fujiwara no Yoshichika, 957-1008.

Eras of Emperor Kazan  reign

The years of En'yū's reign are more specifically identified by more than one Japanese era or nengō.

  • Eikan Era (983-985)
  • Kanna Era (985-986)