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Emperor Nakamikado

Emperor Nakamikado

Nakamikado Tennō (中御門天皇?) (January 14, 1702 - May 10, 1737) was the 114th emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. He reigned from July 27, 1709 to April 13, 1735.

As emperor, Nakamikado had an increasingly warm relationship with the shogunate, partly due to his father's efforts. Relations warmed to the point of talks of family marriage, but these failed due to the sudden death of the prospective Shōgun bridegroom.

Events surrounding the Emperor included at least 2 major earthquakes, the largest Ryukyuan diplomatic mission of the Edo period, the Kyōhō Reforms, and the Kyōhō famine.

It is unclear what role the Emperor played in these concurrent events, as the role of "Emperor" was a figurehead at the time. Nakamikado's family included at least 14 children raised by his wife and 5 concubines. Nakamikado abdicated the throne in 1735 in favor of his first son, and died two years later.

Emperor Nakamikado's Early life

Prior to Nakamikado's ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne, his personal name (imina) was Yasuhito (慶 仁). Yasuhito was born on January 14, 1702 and was the fifth son of Emperor Higashiyama, while his birth mother was a lady-in-waiting named Kushige Yoshiko.

Due to tradition, he was raised as if he were the son of the Empress consort (Arisugawa no Yukiko). Yasuhito's imperial family lived with him in the Dairi of the Heian Palace.

The early years of Yasuhito's life were marked by disasters and incidents that included two major earthquakes and a revenge plot involving leaderless samurai to avenge their fallen master.

The two major earthquakes that occurred were in 1703, and then again in 1707. The first of these is the Genroku earthquake in 1703, which caused parts of the shōgun castle in Edo to collapse.

The city was consumed by a large fire that spread through the city the next day. In response, the name of the era was changed to Hōei (meaning "Prosperous Eternity") the following year in the hope of better fortune.

The second earthquake (1707 Hōei earthquake) caused severe damage and suffering to the city of Osaka. Mount Fuji also erupted that same year causing ash to fall on the provinces of Izu, Kai, Sagami, and Musashi.

In 1708, Yasuhito became crown prince and received the pre-accession title of Masu-no-miya (長 宮). On a particular note, Shōgun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi appointed a commission to repair and restore imperial mausoleums shortly before his death on February 19, 1709.

Emperor Nakamikado's Reign

In 1708, he became crown prince. In 1709, after the abdication of Emperor Higashiyama, he became emperor. Because of his youth, first his father, the retired Emperor Higashiyama, and then his grandfather, the retired Emperor Reigen reigned for him.

While he had the political title of Emperor, it was in name only as the Shoguns of the Tokugawa family controlled Japan. Due to his young age at the time, imperial powers were exercised on his behalf by his now retired father, Emperor Higashiyama.

On January 16, 1710 Higashiyama died, and imperial powers were now exercised on Nakamikado's behalf by his also retired grandfather, Emperor Reigen. Events that took place during this time of transition included a Ryukyuan diplomatic mission, which lasted from July 7, 1710 to March 22, 1711.

This particular mission was led by King Shō Eki of the Ryūkyū Kingdom and was received by the shogunate. While this mission did not concern the young prince, this was the largest delegation in the Edo period with 168 people involved.

Nakamikado was formally enthroned as Emperor in 1711, and the era name changed from Hōei to Shōtoku. His reign would correspond to the period from the sixth Shogun Tokugawa Ienobu to the eighth shōgun Tokugawa Yoshimune.

During this period, relations with the Tokugawa shogunate were quite good in part due to exemperor Higashiyama's warm relationship with his predecessors. Relations warmed to the point of marriage talks between the imperial princess Yaso-no-miya Yoshiko (八十 宮 吉 子 内 親王), daughter of the retired emperor Reigen and the seventh shōgun, Tokugawa Ietsugu.

These plans later became irrelevant with Ietsugu's sudden death at the age of six in Edo. On April 20, 1715 celebrations were held throughout the empire regarding the 100th anniversary of the death of the founding shōgun Tokugawa Ieyasu (known posthumously as Gongen-sama).

After Tokugawa Ietsugu's death in 1716, Tokugawa Yoshimune became the next shogun. He implemented the Kyōhō reforms the following year that eventually resulted in partial success.

While the Emperor had no say in these reforms, Yoshimune had the imperial mausoleum repaired in 1718.

The following years of Nakamikado's reign saw the implementation of the shogun's reforms, by 1730 the shogunate officially recognized the Dojima Rice Market in Osaka; and government overseers (nengyoji) are appointed to monitor the market and collect taxes.

Transactions related to rice exchanges became stock exchanges, used primarily for transactions in public securities. This development of improved agricultural production caused the price of rice to fall in Kyohō.

Intervening factors such as famine, floods, and other disasters exacerbated some of the conditions that the shōgun intended to improve. On August 3, 1730, a great fire broke out in Muromachi, burning 3,790 houses and destroying more than 30,000 looms in Nishi-jin.

The Great Kyōhō Famine began in 1732 and lasted until 1733, due to plagues of locusts that devastated crops in farming communities around the inland sea.

Abdication and Death of Emperor Nakamikado

Emperor Nakamikado abdicated on April 13, 1735 in favor of his son Teruhito, who became Emperor Sakuramachi. Nakamikado assumed the title Daijō Tennō (Retired Emperor), and the era name was changed to Genbun (meaning "original civility") to mark the occasion.

Although he was retired, Nakamikado continued to exercise imperial powers in the same manner as did his predecessors. While the Emperor had no say, an important milestone in Japanese monetary history occurred when the shogunate issued an edict in 1736 on coins.

This edict declared that henceforth the authorized coins in the empire would be those copper coins that were marked on the obverse with the character 文 (Genbun, also pronounced bun in Japanese).

The practice of placing the name of the era on the coinage continues to the present day with the retired Emperor Akihito (平 成).

Nakamikado died in 1737 due to unknown causes, his kami is enshrined in an imperial mausoleum (misasagi), Tsuki no wa no misasagi, at Sennyū-ji in Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto.

Also enshrined at this location are his immediate imperial predecessors since Emperor Go-Mizunoo: Meishō, Go-Kōmyō, Go-Sai, Reigen and Higashiyama. Nakamikado's immediate imperial successors, including Sakuramachi, Momozono, Go-Sakuramachi, and Go-Momozono, are also enshrined here.

Emperor Nakamikado Eras of his reign

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

  • Hōei (1704-1711)
  • Shōtoku (1711-1716)
  • Kyōhō (1716-1736).

During the Nakamikado reign, this apex of the Daijō-kan included:

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

Emperor Nakamikado Genealogy

He was the fifth son of Higashiyama Tennō. He had at least 16 children:

  • Konoe Hisako (近衛尚子).
    • First son: Imperial Prince Teruhito (昭仁親王) (Emperor Sakuramachi)
  • Shimizutani Iwako (清水谷石子)
    • Second son: Prince Kōjyun (公遵法親王) (Buddhist priest)
    • Fourth daughter: Princess Michihide (理秀女王)
    • Sixth daughter: Princess Sonjō (尊乗女王)
    • Eighth daughter: Chika-no-miya (周宮)
  • Sono Tsuneko (園常子)
    • Third son: Prince Cyūyo (忠與法親王) (Buddhist priest)
  • Servant: Kuze Natsuko (久世夏子)
    • Second daughter: San-no-miya (三宮)
    • Third daughter: Go-no-miya (五宮)
    • Fifth daughter: Princess Fusako (成子内親王))
    • Seventh daughter: Princess Eikō (永皎女王)
    • Fifth son: Nobu-no-miya (信宮)
  • Gojō Hiroko (五条寛子)
    • Sixth son: Prince Jyun'nin (遵仁法親王) (Buddhist priest)
  • Consort: daughter of Komori Yorisue
    • First daughter: Syōsan (聖珊女王)
    • Fourth son: Prince Ji'nin (慈仁法親王) (Buddhist priest)
  • Adopted sons
    • Prince ?? (叡仁法親王) (son of Imperial Prince Arisugawa-no-miya Yorihito, 有栖川宮職仁親王) (priest)
    • Prince ?? (公啓法親王) (son of Imperial Prince Kan'in-no-miya Naohito, 閑院宮直仁親王)