Emperor Go-Yōzei (後陽成天皇, Go-Yōzei-tennō, December 31,
1571 – September 25, 1617) was the 107th Emperor of Japan,
according to the traditional order of succession. Go-Yōzei's reign
spanned the years 1586 through to his abdication in 1611,
corresponding to the transition between the Azuchi–Momoyama period
and the Edo period.
This 16th-century sovereign was named after the 9th-century Emperor
Yōzei, and go- (後), translates as later, and thus, he could be
called the "Later Emperor Yōzei". The Japanese word go has also been
translated to mean the second one, and in some older sources, this
emperor may be identified as "Yōzei, the second", or as "Yōzei II".
2 Events of Go-Yōzei's life
3 Eras of Go-Yōzei's reign
5 See also
Before Go-Yōzei's ascension to the
Chrysanthemum Throne, his personal
name (imina) was Katahito (周仁).
He was the eldest son of
Prince Masahito (誠仁親王,
Masahito-shinnō, 1552–1586), also known as Prince Sanehito and
Yōkwōin daijō-tennō, who was the eldest son of
Emperor Ōgimachi. His mother was a lady-in-waiting.
Go-Yōzei's Imperial family lived with him in the Dairi of the Heian
Palace. The family included at least 35 children:
Court Lady: Konoe Sakiko (近衛前子) – Empress Dowager Chūwa
First daughter: Princess Shōkō (聖興女王) (1590–1594)
Second daughter: Ryūtōin-no-miya (龍登院宮) (1592–1600)
Third daughter: Imperial Princess Seishi (清子内親王)
Fourth daughter: Princess Bunkō (文高女王) (1595–1644)
Third son: Imperial Prince Kotohito (政仁親王) (later Emperor
Fifth daughter: Princess Son'ei (尊英女王) (1598–1611)
Konoe Nobuhiro (近衛信尋) (1599–1649)
Seventh son: Imperial Prince Yoshihito (好仁親王) (later First
Ichijō Akiyoshi (一条昭良) (1605–1672)
Sixth daughter: Imperial Princess Teishi? (貞子内親王)
Tenth son: Imperial Prince Morochika (庶愛親王) (later Buddhist
Priest Sonkaku) (1608–1661)
Twelfth daughter: Princess Son'ren? (尊蓮女王) (1614–1627)
Lady-in-waiting: Nakayama Chikako (中山親子) (1576–1608)
First son: Imperial Prince Katahito (良仁親王) (later Princely
Priest Kakushin) (1588–1648)
Second son: Princely Priest Shōkai (承快法親王) (1591–1609)
Lady-in-waiting: Hino Teruko (日野輝子) (1581–1607)
Fifth son: Imperial Prince Toshiatsu (毎敦親王) (later Princely
Priest Sonsei) (1602–1651)
Lady-in-waiting: Jimyōin Motoko (持明院基子) (?–1644)
Sixth son: Imperial Prince Tsuneyoshi (常嘉親王) (later Princely
Priest Gyōnen) (1602–1661)
Lady-in-waiting: Niwata Tomoko (庭田具子) (?–1626)
Eighth son: Princely Priest Ryōjun (良純法親王) (1603–1669)
Lady-in-waiting: Hamuro Nobuko (葉室宣子) (?–1679)
Eleventh daughter: Princess Sonsei (尊清女王) (1613–1669)
Handmaid?: Nishinotōin Tokiko (西洞院時子) (?–1661)
Seventh daughter: Princess Eishū (永崇女王) (1609–1690)
Eighth daughter: Kō'un'in-no-miya (高雲院宮) (1610–1612)
Consort: Furuichi Taneko (古市胤子) (1583–1658)
Ninth daughter: Rei'un'in-no-miya (冷雲院宮) (1611)
Eleventh son: Princely Priest Dōkō (道晃法親王) (1612–1679)
Tenth daughter: Kūkain-no-miya (空花院宮) (1613)
Consort: Daughter of Chūtō Tokohiro (中東時広) (?–1680)
Twelfth son: Princely Priest Dōshū (道周法親王) (1613–1634)
Thirteenth son: Princely Priest Ji'in (慈胤法親王) (1617–1699)
Events of Go-Yōzei's life
Prince Katahito became emperor when his grandfather abdicated. The
succession (senso) was considered to have been received by the new
monarch; and shortly thereafter,
Emperor Go-Yōzei is said to have
acceded (sokui). The events during his lifetime shed some light on
his reign. The years of Go-Yōzei's reign correspond with the start of
Tokugawa shogunate under the leadership of
Tokugawa Ieyasu and
December 31, 1571: The birth of an Imperial prince who will become
known by the posthumous name of Go-Yōzei-tennō.
November 5, 1586: Prince Katahito was given the title
Crown Prince and
December 17, 1586 (Tenshō 14, on the 7th day of the 11th month):
Ogimachi gave over the reins of government to his grandson, who would
become Emperor Go-Yōzei. There had been no such Imperial transition
Emperor Go-Hanazono abdicated in 1464 (Kanshō 5). The dearth of
abdications is attributable to the disturbed state of the country and
because there was neither any dwelling for an ex-emperor nor excess
funds in the treasury to support him.
1586 (Tenshō 14, in the 12th month): A marriage is arranged between
Lady Asahi, the youngest sister of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa
1586 (Tenshō 14, in the 12th month) (1586): The kampaku, Toyotomi
Hideyoshi, was nominated to be Daijō-daijin (Chancellor of the
1588 (Tenshō 16, 7th month):
Emperor Go-Yōzei and his father visit
Toyotomi Hideyoshi's mansion in Kyoto. This was the first time that an
emperor appeared in public since 1521.
1590 (Tenshō 18, 7th month): Hideyoshi led an army to the Kantō
where he lay siege to Odawara Castle. When the fortress fell, Hōjō
Ujimasa died and his brother,
Hōjō Ujinao submitted to Hideyoshi's
power, thus ending a period of serial internal warfare which had
continued uninterrupted since the
Ōnin War (1467–1477).
Keichō expedition to Korea en route to invade
September 18, 1598 (
Keichō 3, on the 18th day of the 8th month):
Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the
Taiko died in his
Fushimi Castle at the age of
October 21, 1600 (
Keichō 5, 15th day of the 9th month): Battle of
Tokugawa clan and its allies decisively vanquish all
Keichō 8): The
Kyōto Daibutsu is destroyed by fire.
March 24, 1603 (
Tokugawa Ieyasu became shōgun, which
effectively begins what will be known as the Edo bakufu. Toyotomi
Hideyori was elevated to
Naidaijin in the Imperial court.
January 23, 1605 (
Keichō 10, 15th day of the 12th month): A new
volcanic island, Hachijōko-jima, arose from the sea at the side of
Hachijō Island (八丈島 Hachijō-jima) in the Izu Islands
(伊豆諸島, Izu-shotō) which stretch south and east from the Izu
Keichō 11): Construction began on Edo Castle.
Keichō 12): Construction began on Sunpu Castle; and an
ambassador from China arrived with greetings for the emperor of
Invasion of Ryukyu
Invasion of Ryukyu by Shimazu daimyō of
Keichō 15): Reconstruction of the Daibutsu hall in
May 20, 1610 (
Keichō 15, the 27th day of the 3rd month): Toyotomi
Hideyori came to Kyoto to visit the former-Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu; and
the same day, the emperor announces his intention to resign in favor
of his son Masahito.
May 9, 1611 (
Keichō 16): Go-Yōzei abdicates; and his son Prince
Masahito receives the succession (the senso); and shortly thereafter,
Go-Mizunoo formally accedes to the throne (the sokui).
Go-Yōzei's reign corresponds to the rule of
Toyotomi Hideyoshi and
the beginning of the Edo Bakufu. He was the sovereign who confirmed
the legitimacy of their accession to power; and this period allowed
the Imperial Family to recover a small portion of its diminished
This Emperor gave
Toyotomi Hideyoshi the rank of Taikō, originally a
title given to the father of the emperor's chief advisor (Kampaku), or
a retired Kampaku, which was essential to increase his status and
effectively stabilize his power.
Tokugawa Ieyasu was given the title of Sei-i Taishōgun, the
future of any anticipated
Tokugawa shogunate was by no means assured,
nor was his relationship to the emperor at all settled. He gradually
began to interfere in the affairs of the Imperial Court. The right to
grant ranks of court nobility and change the era became a concern of
the bakufu. However, the Imperial Court's poverty during the Warring
States Era seemed likely to become a thing of the past, as the bakufu
provided steadily for its financial needs.
Go-Yōzei did abdicate in favor of his third son; but he wanted to be
succeeded by his younger brother, Imperial Prince Hachijō-no-miya
Toshihito (八条宮智仁親王) (first of the Hachijō-no-miya line,
later called Katsura-no-miya), who built the Katsura Imperial Villa.
Go-Yōzei loved literature and art. He published the Kobun Kokyo and
Nihon Shoki with movable type dedicated to the emperor by
After abdication, Go-Yōzei lived for six years in the Sentō Imperial
Palace; and thereafter, it became the usual place to which abdicated
emperors would retire. The name of this palace and its gardens was
Sentō-goshō; and emperors who had abdicated were sometimes called
September 25, 1617: Go-Yōzei died.
The kami of
Emperor Go-Yōzei is enshrined with other emperors at the
imperial mausoleum (misasagi) called Fukakusa no kita no misasagi
(深草北陵) in Fushimi-ku, Kyoto.
Kugyō (公卿) is a collective term for the very few most powerful
men attached to the court of the
Emperor of Japan
Emperor of Japan in pre-Meiji eras.
Even during those years in which the court's actual influence outside
the palace walls was minimal, the hierarchic organization persisted.
In general, this elite group included only three to four men at a
time. These were hereditary courtiers whose experience and background
would have brought them to the pinnacle of a life's career. During
Go-Yōzei's reign, this apex of the
Kampaku, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, 1585–1591
Kampaku, Toyotomi Hidetsugu, 1591–1595
Kampaku, Kujō Kanetaka, 1600–1604
Kampaku, Konoe Nobutada, 1605–1606
Kampaku, Takatsukasa Nobufusa, 1606–1608
Kampaku, Kujō Yukiie, 1608–1612
Udaijin, Konoe Nobuhiro
Naidaijin, Toyotomi Hideyori, 1603–16__
Eras of Go-Yōzei's reign
The years of Go-Yōzei's reign are more specifically identified by
more than one era name or nengō.
Ancestors of Emperor Go-Yōzei
Emperor Go-Kashiwabara (1462–1526)
Emperor Go-Nara (1495–1557)
17. Kanshūji Fujiko (1464–1535)
Emperor Ōgimachi (1517–1593)
18. Madenokōji Katafusa (1466–1507)
9. Madenokōji Eiko (1494–1522)
Prince Masahito (1552–1586)
20. Madenokōji Katafusa (1466–1507)
10. Madenokōji Hidefusa (1492–1563)
5.Madenokōji Fusako (d. 1581)
1. Emperor Go-Yōzei
24. Kanshūji Hisaaki (1478–1559)
12. Kanshūji Tadatoyo (1503–1594)
6. Kanshūji Haruhide (1523–1577)
3. Kanshūji Haruko (1553–1620)
28. Awaya Ken'ya
14. Awaya Mototaka
7. Awaya Motoko
30. Kanshūji Hisaaki (1478–1559)
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Emperor Go-Yōzei.
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Imperial Household Agency (Kunaichō): 後陽成天皇 (107)
^ Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1959). The Imperial House of Japan, pp.
^ Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). Annales des empereurs du japon, pp.
^ Ponsonby-Fane, Imperial House, p. 9; Titsingh, p. 402.
^ Ponsonby-Fane, Imperial House, p. 424.
^ Ponsonby-Fane, Imperial House, p. 10.
^ a b c Ponsonby-Fane, Imperial House, p. 113.
^ Titsingh, p. 402. A distinct act of senso is unrecognized prior to
Emperor Tenji; and all sovereigns except Jitō, Yōzei, Go-Toba, and
Fushimi have senso and sokui in the same year until the reign of
Emperor Go-Murakami – see Varley, H. Paul. (1980). Jinnō Shōtōki,
^ a b Meyer, Eva-Maria. (1999). Japans Kaiserhof in der Edo-Zeit, p.
^ a b c d Titsingh, p. 402.
^ Ponsonby-Fane, Richard A. B. (1956). Kyoto: The Old Capital of
Japan, 794–1869, pp. 340–341; Titsingh, p. 402; Meyer, p. 186.
^ Ponsonby-Fane, Imperial House, p. 111.
^ a b c d Titsingh, p. 405.
^ Ponsonby-Fane, Imperial House, pp. 111–112.
^ a b c d e Titisngh, p. 409.
^ Ponsonby-Fane, Imperial House, p. 112; Titsingh, p. 409.
^ Titsingh, p. 409; Hirai, Kiyoshi. (1950). "A Short History of the
Retired Emperor's Palace in the Edo Era", Architectural Institute of
Japan: The Japanese Construction Society Academic Dissertation Report
Collection (日本建築学会論文報告集), No.61(19590325), pp.
^ Titsingh, p. 410; Meyer, p. 186.
^ Ponsonby-Fane, Imperial House, p. 423.
^ "Genealogy". Reichsarchiv. Retrieved 23 January 2018. (in
Hirai, Kiyoshi. (1950). "A Short History of the Retired Emperor's
Palace in the Edo Era", Architectural Institute of Japan: The Japanese
Construction Society Academic Dissertation Report Collection
(日本建築学会論文報告集), No.61(19590325).link to online
catalog (English) link to digitized text/drawings (Japanese)[permanent
Meyer, Eva-Maria. (1999). Japans Kaiserhof in der Edo-Zeit: unter
besonderer Berücksichtigung der Jahre 1846 bis 1867. Münster: LIT
Verlag. ISBN 978-3-8258-3939-0;
Ponsonby-Fane, Richard Arthur Brabazon. (1956). Kyoto: The Old Capital
of Japan, 794–1869. Kyoto: Ponsonby Memorial Society.
__________. (1959). The Imperial House of Japan. Kyoto: Ponsonby
Screech, Timon. (2006). Secret Memoirs of the Shoguns: Isaac Titsingh
and Japan, 1779–1822. London: RoutledgeCurzon.
Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). Nihon Ōdai Ichiran; ou, Annales des
empereurs du Japon. Paris: Royal Asiatic Society, Oriental Translation
Fund of Great Britain and Ireland.
Varley, H. Paul. (1980). Jinnō Shōtōki: A Chronicle of Gods and
Sovereigns. New York: Columbia University Press.
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