Emperor Go-Yōzei

Emperor Go-Yōzei (後陽成天皇, Go-Yōzei-tennō, December 31, 1571 – September 25, 1617) was the 107th Emperor of Japan,[1] according to the traditional order of succession.[2] Go-Yōzei's reign spanned the years 1586 through to his abdication in 1611,[3] corresponding to the transition between the Azuchi–Momoyama period and the Edo period.

Emperor Go-Yōzei
Emperor Go-Yozei3.jpg
Emperor of Japan
ReignDecember 17, 1586 – May 9, 1611
CoronationJanuary 4, 1587
RegentToyotomi Hideyoshi
BornKatahito (周仁) or Kazuhito (和仁)
December 31, 1571
DiedSeptember 25, 1617(1617-09-25) (aged 45)
Heian Palace, Kyoto
Fukakusa no kita no misasagi, Kyoto
SpouseKonoe Sakiko
among others...
Emperor Go-Mizunoo
Konoe Nobuhiro
Ichijō Akiyoshi
FatherPrince Masahito
MotherFujiwara no (Kajūji) Haruko
SignatureEmperor Go-Yozei kao.jpg

This 16th-century sovereign was named after the 9th-century Emperor Yōzei, and go- (), 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".


Before Go-Yōzei's ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne, his personal name (imina) was Katahito (周仁) or Kazuhito (和仁).[4]

He was the eldest son of Prince Masahito (誠仁親王, Masahito-shinnō, 1552–1586),[5] also known as Prince Sanehito and posthumously named Yōkwōin daijō-tennō, who was the eldest son of Emperor Ōgimachi.[6] 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:[7]

  • Nyōgo: Konoe Sakiko (近衛前子; 1575–1630) later Chūwamon’in (中和門院), Konoe Sakihisa’s daughter and Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s adopted daughter
    • First daughter: Princess Shōkō (聖興女王; 1590–1594)
    • Second daughter: Princess Ryūtōin (龍登院宮; 1592–1600)
    • Third daughter: Imperial Princess Seishi (清子内親王; 1593–1674) married Takatsukasa Nobuhisa
    • Fourth daughter: Princess Bunkō (文高女王; 1595–1644)
    • Third son: Imperial Prince Kotohito (政仁親王) later Emperor Go-Mizunoo
    • Fifth daughter: Princess Son'ei (尊英女王; 1598–1611)
    • Fourth son: Konoe Nobuhiro (近衛信尋)
    • Seventh son: Imperial Prince Takamatsu-no-miya Yoshihito (1603–1638; 高松宮好仁親王), First Takamatsu-no-miya
    • Ninth son: Ichijō Akiyoshi (一条昭良)
    • Sixth daughter: Imperial Princess Teishi (貞子内親王; 1606–1675) married Nijō Yasumichi
    • Tenth son: Imperial Prince Morochika (庶愛親王) later Imperial Prince Priest Sonkaku (1608–1661; 尊覚法親王)
    • Twelfth daughter: Princess Son'ren (尊蓮女王; 1614–1627)
  • Lady-in-waiting: Nakayama Chikako (中山親子; 1576–1608), Nakayama Chikatsuna's daughter
    • First son: Imperial Prince Katahito (1588–1648; 良仁親王) later Imperial Prince Priest Kakushin (覚深法親王)
    • Second son: Imperial Prince Priest Shōkai (承快法親王; 1591–1609)
  • Lady-in-waiting: Hino Teruko (日野輝子; 1581–1607), Hino Terusuke's daughter
  • Lady-in-waiting: Jimyōin Motoko (持明院基子; d.1644), Jimyōin Motonori's daughter
  • Lady-in-waiting: Niwata Tomoko (庭田具子; d.1626), Niwata Shigetomo's daughter
  • Lady-in-waiting: Hamuro Nobuko (葉室宣子; d.1679), Hamuro Yorinobu's daughter
    • Eleventh daughter: Princess Sonsei (尊清女王; 1613–1669)
  • Handmaid: Nishinotōin (Taira) Tokiko (西洞院時子; d.1661), Nishinotōin Tokiyoshi's daughter
    • Seventh daughter: Princess Eishū (永崇女王; 1609–1690)
    • Eighth daughter: Princess Kō'un'in (高雲院宮; 1610–1612)
  • Consort: Furuichi Taneko (古市胤子; 1583–1658), Furuichi Tanehide's daughter
    • Ninth daughter: Princess Rei'un'in (冷雲院宮; 1611)
    • Eleventh son: Imperial Prince Priest Dōkō (道晃法親王; 1612–1679)
    • Tenth daughter: Princess Kūkain (空花院宮; 1613)
  • Consort: Daughter of Chūtō Tokohiro (d.1680)
    • Twelfth son: Imperial Prince Priest Dōshū (道周法親王; 1613–1634)
    • Thirteenth son: Imperial Prince Priest Ji'in (慈胤法親王; 1617–1699)

Events of Go-Yōzei's lifeEdit

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).[8] The events during his lifetime shed some light on his reign. The years of Go-Yōzei's reign correspond with the start of the Tokugawa shogunate under the leadership of Tokugawa Ieyasu and Tokugawa Hidetada.

  • December 31, 1571: The birth of an Imperial prince who will become known by the posthumous name of Go-Yōzei-tennō.[9]
  • November 5, 1586: Prince Katahito was given the title Crown Prince and heir.[10]
  • 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 since 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.[11]
  • 1586 (Tenshō 14, in the 12th month): A marriage is arranged between Lady Asahi, the youngest sister of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu.[10]
  • 1586 (Tenshō 14, in the 12th month) (1586): The kampaku, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, was nominated to be Daijō-daijin (Chancellor of the Realm).[10]
  • 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.[12]
  • 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).[13]
  • 1592 (Keichō 1): Keichō expedition to Korea en route to invade China.[14]
  • September 18, 1598 (Keichō 3, on the 18th day of the 8th month): Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the Taikō died in his Fushimi Castle at the age of 63.[13]
  • October 21, 1600 (Keichō 5, 15th day of the 9th month): Battle of Sekigahara. The Tokugawa clan and its allies decisively vanquish all opposition.[13]
  • 1602 (Keichō 8): The Kyōto Daibutsu is destroyed by fire.
  • March 24, 1603 (Keichō 8): 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.[15]
  • 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 Peninsula.[15]
  • 1606 (Keichō 11): Construction began on Edo Castle.[15]
  • 1607 (Keichō 12): Construction began on Sunpu Castle; and an ambassador from China arrived with greetings for the emperor of Japan.[15]
  • 1609 (Keichō 14): Invasion of Ryukyu by Shimazu daimyō of Satsuma.[16]
  • 1610 (Keichō 15): Reconstruction of the Daibutsu hall in Kyōto is begun.
  • 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.[17]
  • 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).[18]


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 powers.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

When 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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

Go-Yōzei loved literature and art. He published the Kobun Kokyo and part of Nihon Shoki with movable type dedicated to the emperor by Toyotomi Hideyoshi.[citation needed]

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.[7] The name of this palace and its gardens was Sentō-goshō; and emperors who had abdicated were sometimes called Sentō-goshō.

  • September 25, 1617: Go-Yōzei died.[9]

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.[19]


Kugyō (公卿) is a collective term for the very few most powerful men attached to the court of the 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.[citation needed]

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 Daijō-kan included:

Eras of Go-Yōzei's reignEdit

The years of Go-Yōzei's reign are more specifically identified by more than one era name or nengō.[13]



See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Imperial Household Agency (Kunaichō): 後陽成天皇 (107)
  2. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1959). The Imperial House of Japan, pp. 111–113.
  3. ^ Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). Annales des empereurs du japon, pp. 402–409.
  4. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, Imperial House, p. 9; Titsingh, p. 402.
  5. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, Imperial House, p. 424.
  6. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, Imperial House, p. 10.
  7. ^ a b c Ponsonby-Fane, Imperial House, p. 113.
  8. ^ 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-Murakamisee Varley, H. Paul. (1980). Jinnō Shōtōki, p. 44.
  9. ^ a b Meyer, Eva-Maria. (1999). Japans Kaiserhof in der Edo-Zeit, p. 186.
  10. ^ a b c d Titsingh, p. 402.
  11. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, Richard A. B. (1956). Kyoto: The Old Capital of Japan, 794–1869, pp. 340–341; Titsingh, p. 402; Meyer, p. 186.
  12. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, Imperial House, p. 111.
  13. ^ a b c d Titsingh, p. 405.
  14. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, Imperial House, pp. 111–112.
  15. ^ a b c d e Titisngh, p. 409.
  16. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, Imperial House, p. 112; Titsingh, p. 409.
  17. ^ 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. 143–150.
  18. ^ Titsingh, p. 410; Meyer, p. 186.
  19. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, Imperial House, p. 423.
  20. ^ "Genealogy". Reichsarchiv (in Japanese). Retrieved 23 January 2018.


Regnal titles
Preceded by Emperor of Japan:

Succeeded by