Emperor Momozono

Emperor Momozono

Momozono Tennō (桃園天皇) (April 14, 1741 - August 31, 1762) was the 116th emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. He reigned from July 9, 1747 until his death in 1762.

Momozono's reign was mostly uneventful, with only one incident: the so-called Horeki incident, which involved a small number of Kuge who advocated the restoration of direct imperial rule in the year 1758.

These Kuge were punished by the shōgun, who held de facto power in the country. Momozono had two children with his only lady-in-waiting, but died at a young age in 1762.

The line of succession fell to Momozono's sister, Princess Toshiko, who became Empress Go-Sakuramachi.

Due to the young age of Momozono's children, she also became empress regent of the future emperor Go-Momozono until she reached the age to rule.

Emperor Momozono's Early life

Prior to Momozono's ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne, his personal name (imina) was Toohito (遐 仁). Toohito was the firstborn son of Emperor Sakuramachi, while his mother was a concubine named Sadako (定子).

His imperial family lived with him in the Dairi of the Heian Palace. Toohito's original title was initially Yaho-no-miya (八 穂 宮) and later changed to Sachi-no-miya (茶 地宮).

While Prince Toohito was invested as Crown Prince on April 25, 1747, it is unknown what other events took place in his early life.

Emperor Momozono's Reign

In 1747, he was invested as crown prince. Then in the same year, he became emperor after the abdication of his father Emperor Sakuramachi. The era name was changed from Enkyō to Kan'en (meaning "Prolongation of Indulgence") to mark the era.

Momozono fathered at least two children with a court lady named Ichijō Tomiko during his reign. While he held the political title of Emperor, it was in name only as the Tokugawa family shōguns controlled Japan.

During the first year or so of Momozono's reign, the first performance of the popular eleven-act puppet play Kanadehon Chūshingura took place. The play's fictional story is about the revenge of the samurai and the 1702 revenge of the 47 rōnin.

Also notable was a Ryukyuan diplomatic mission of King Shō Kei of the Ryūkyū Kingdom, which was received by the shogunate. On October 7, 1749, a severe storm hit Kyoto, and the Nijō Castle fortress burned down after it was struck by lightning.

The name of the era was changed to Hōreki in 1751 to mark the death of the retired emperor Sakuramachi and the death of the former shōgun Tokugawa Yoshimune. In the year that followed, a second Ryukyuan diplomatic mission from King Shō Boku of the Ryūkyū Kingdom arrived in Edo.

Momozono had no role in these missions, as they were expected to pay homage to the shogunate.

The Hōreki River incident in 1754 caused the death of eighty-eight people due to a harsh project ordered by the shōgun, but again the Emperor was not involved.

However, another incident occurred in 1758, when a small number of Kuge were punished by the shogunate for advocating the restoration of direct imperial rule. Two years later, the Shōgun Ieshige resigned and his son became the tenth shōgun of the Tokugawa shogunate.

Abdication and Death of Emperor Momozono

In 1762, Emperor Momozono abdicated the throne in favor of his sister, Imperial Princess Toshiko, who became Empress Go-Sakuramachi. His retirement did not last long as he died later that year on August 31, 1762 at the age of 21.

Momozono's kami is enshrined in an imperial mausoleum (misasagi), Tsuki no wa no misasagi, at Sennyū-ji in Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto. Also enshrined are Momozono's immediate imperial predecessors since Emperor Go-Mizunoo:

Meishō, Go-Kōmyō, Go-Sai, Reigen, Higashiyama, Nakamikado, and Sakuramachi, along with five of his immediate imperial successors: Go-Sakuramachi, Go-Momozono, Kōkaku , Ninkō, and Kōmei.

Emperor Momozono Eras of the Reign

The years of Momozono's reign are more specifically identified by more than one era name or nengō.9 The following eras occurred during Momozono's reign:

  • Enkyō (1744-1748)
  • Kan'en (1748-1751)
  • Hōreki (1751-1764)

During Momozono's reign, this apex of the Daijō-kan included:

  • Kampaku (Konoe Uchisaki).
  • Sadaijin
  • Udaijin
  • Naidaijin
  • Dainagon

Emperor Momozono Genealogy

Momozono was the firstborn son of Sakuramachi Tennō. His mother was Sadako (定子) (Empress Dowager Kaimei, 開明門院).

  • First son: Prince Hidehito (英仁親) (emperor Go-Momozono)
  • Second son: Imperial Prince Fushimi-no-miya Sadamochi (伏見宮貞行親王)