Emperor Sakuramachi

Emperor Sakuramachi

Sakuramachi Tennō (桜町天皇) (February 8, 1720-May 28, 1750) was the 115th emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. He reigned from April 13, 1735 to June 9, 1747.

As with previous emperors during the Edo period, the Tokugawa shogunate had control over Japan. The role of the emperor was to be a religious figure who performed limited duties.

This changed when Sakuramachi received permission from the Shōgun to restore some imperial rites. Ceremonies such as the Harvest Festival that had been absent for over 250 years were now allowed.

Emperor Sakuramachi's Early life

Prior to Sakuramachi's ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne, his personal name (imina) was Teruhito (昭仁). Teruhito was born on February 8, 1720, and was the firstborn son of Emperor Nakamikado.

Teruhito's imperial family lived with him in the Dairi of the Heian Palace. Events during the early years of Teruhito's life included Edo becoming the largest city in the world in 1721, with a population of 1.1 million people.

On July 17, 1728, Teruhito was named crown prince and had the pre-accession title of Waka-no-miya (若 宮). The only other major event that occurred thereafter was a disaster in 1732-1733 called the Great Famine of Kyōhō. This event was caused by a locust infestation that devastated crops in farming communities around the inland sea.

Emperor Sakuramachi Reign

In 1735, Sakuramachi became emperor after the abdication of his father, Nakamikado Tennō. The name of the era was changed from Kyōhō to Genbun to mark this event.

While he held the political title of Emperor, it was in name only as the Tokugawa family shoguns controlled Japan. However, with the support of Tokugawa Yoshimune, Sakuramachi worked for the restoration of some imperial rites.

Two of the first ceremonies reinstated were brought in the form of rice offerings. Daijōsai (大 嘗 祭) is a rice offering from a newly enthroned Emperor, while Shinjōsai (新 嘗 祭) is a rice offering from the Emperor.

In 1738, the Emperor performed esoteric Shinto rituals known as Daijō-e (大 嘗 會). An important event occurred on January 11, 1741 where a ceremony was held to mark Niiname-no-Matsuri (Harvest Festival).

This specific ceremony had been held in abeyance for the previous 280 years. Toyonoakari-no-sechiye ceremonies were also held the following day.

The name of the era was changed to Kanpō in February 1741 due to the belief in Chinese astrology that the 58th year of the sexagenary cycle brings changes.

The provinces of Musashi, Kōzuke, Shimotsuke, and Shinano had remarkable devastation due to a great flood that occurred in 1742. In Heian-kyō, Sanjo Bridge was also washed away by this destructive storm cycle.

During the end of the Kanpō era, a comet was seen and recorded at Nihon Ōdai Ichiran, a consensus of later research states that the comet was probably C / 1743 X1 (De Cheseaux).

The fourth and final era during the Sakuramachi reign began in 1744 and was called Enkyō (meaning "becoming prolonged"). This new era was created to mark the beginning of a new 60-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac.

The last two major events during Sakuramachi's reign occurred in 1745, when Tokugawa Ieshige became the new Shogun.

The first establishment of a market fair in the capital was found at Hirano Shrine in Ōmi Province, while in Edo a great fire swept through the city.

Abdication and death of Emperor Sakuramachi

Emperor Sakuramachi abdicated on June 9, 1747 in favor of his son, Prince Toohito, who became Emperor Momozono.

Sakuramachi assumed the title Daijō Tennō (Retired Emperor), and the name of the era was changed to Kan'en (meaning "Prolongation of Lingerie") to mark the occasion. Events that took place during his time as Jōkō included a powerful storm that struck Kyoto on October 7, 1749.

The damage caused included the burning of the Nijō Castle fortress after it was struck by lightning. Sakuramachi died on May 28, 1750, almost three years after his abdication.

Sakuramachi's kami is enshrined in an imperial mausoleum (misasagi), Tsuki no wa no misasagi, at Sennyū-ji in Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto.

Sakuramachi's immediate imperial predecessors since Emperor Go-Mizunoo - Meishō, Go-Kōmyō, Go-Sai, Reigen, Higashiyama and Nakamikado, are also enshrined along with their immediate imperial successors, including Momozono, Go-Sakuramachi and Go-Momozono.

Emperor Sakuramachi Eras of the Reign

The years of Sakuramachi's reign are more specifically identified by more than one era name or nengō.13 The following eras occurred during Sakuramachi's reign:

  • Kyōhō (1716-1736).
  • Gembun (1736-1741)
  • Kanpo (1741-1744)
  • Enkyō (1744-1748)

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

  • Sadaijin
  • Udaijin
  • Naidaijin
  • Dainagon

Emperor Sakuramachi Genealogy

He was the firstborn son of the Nakamikado Tennō. Sakuramachi had a wife and a concubine with whom he had 4 children. He had three children with two women:

  • Nijō Ieko (二条舎子).
    • First daughter: Princess Sakariko (盛子内親王)
    • Second daughter: Princess Toshiko (智子内親王) (Empress Go-Sakuramachi)
  • Anekōji Sadako (姉小路定子)
    • First son: Prince Toohito (遐仁親王) (Momozono Tennō)