Emperor Higashiyama

Emperor Higashiyama (東山天皇, Higashiyama-tennō, October 21, 1675 – January 16, 1710) was the 113th emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession.[1][2] Higashiyama's reign spanned the years from 1687 through to his abdication in 1709 corresponding to the Genroku era.[3] The previous hundred years of peace and seclusion in Japan had created relative economic stability. The arts flourished, including theater and architecture.

Emperor Higashiyama
Emperor Higashiyama.jpg
Emperor of Japan
BornAsahito (朝仁)
October 21, 1675
Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, Tokugawa shogunate
DiedJanuary 16, 1710 (aged 34)
Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, Tokugawa shogunate
(m. 1697)
among others...
Emperor Nakamikado
Posthumous name
Emperor Higashiyama (東山院 or 東山天皇)
FatherEmperor Reigen
MotherMatsuki Muneko (Birth)
Takatsukasa Fusako (Adoptive)

Events of Higashiyama's lifeEdit

Early lifeEdit

Before Higashiyama's ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne, his personal name (imina) was Asahito (朝仁) or Tomohito.[4] Tomohito was born on October 21, 1675, and was the fifth son of Emperor Reigen; his birth mother was a lady-in-waiting named Matsuki Muneko. While Prince Tomohito was the son of a secondary consort, he was adopted by empress Takatsukasa Fusako (chief consort or Chūgū).[5] Tomohito's Imperial family lived with him in the Dairi of the Heian Palace. Events that took place before Tomohito became Crown Prince include a great flood that devastated Edo, a great famine that devastated Kyoto, and the Great Tenna Fire in Edo.[6] The Shingon Buddhist temple Gokoku-ji was also founded in Edo where it remains today as one of the few sites in Tokyo that survived World War II.[7] Tomohito-shinnō was proclaimed Crown prince in 1682, and given the pre-accession title of Go-no-miya (五宮). For the first time in over 300 years a ceremonial investiture was held for the occasion.[5] A fire burned the Kyoto Imperial Palace to ashes in 1684 prompting reconstruction that took a year to complete.[8] The effects from this fire on the Imperial family, if any, are unknown. Emperor Reigen's brother, former-Emperor Go-Sai, died on March 26, 1685, and a great comet was observed crossing the night sky.[9]


Prince Tomohito acceded to the throne on May 2, 1687, as Emperor when his father abdicated in his favor, the era's name was changed from Jōkyō to Genroku to mark this event.[10] While he held the political title of Emperor, it was in name only as the shoguns of the Tokugawa family controlled Japan. Initially, Emperor Reigen continued to rule in Higashiyama's name as a Cloistered Emperor as had been done in the Heian period. While this move caused trouble by provoking the ruling shogunate, Higashiyama's gentle character helped to improve relations with the Shōgun. This warmed relationship caused imperial property to be increased, and repairs carried out on Imperial mausoleums. Reigen meanwhile lived out his retirement in the Sentō-gosho (the palace for an ex-Emperor), and is now known for being the last "Cloistered Emperor" of Japan.[8] On December 20, 1688, the esoteric Daijō-sai ceremony was revived because of the shogunate's insistence.[11] This Shinto ritual had been in abeyance for over a century, and is performed only once by the emperor in the period of the enthronement ceremonies.[12]

  • 1688 (Genroku gannen): The Tokugawa shogunate revised the code of conduct for funerals (Fuku-kiju-ryō), which incorporated a code of conduct for mourning as well.[13]
  • September 16, 1689 (Genroku 2): German physician Engelbert Kaempfer arrives at Dejima for the first time. Bakufu policy in this era was designed to marginalize the influence of foreigners; and Kaempfer had to present himself as "Dutch" in dealings with the Japanese. Regardless of this minor subterfuge, an unintended and opposite consequence of sakoku was to enhance the value and significance of a very small number of thoughtful observers like Kaempfer, whose writings document what he learned or discovered first-hand. Kaempfer's published accounts and unpublished writings provided a unique and useful perspective for Orientalists and Japanologists in the 19th century; and his work continues to be rigorously examined by modern researchers today.[14]
  • 1695 (Genroku 8, 8th month): Minting begun of Genroku coinage. The shogunate placed the Japanese character gen (元) on the obverse of copper coins, the same character used today in China for the yuan. There is no connection between those uses, however.[9]
  • 1695 (Genroku 8, 11th month): First kennel is established for stray dogs in Edo. In this context, Tokugawa Tsunayoshi comes to be nicknamed the "Dog Shōgun" (犬公方, Inu-kubō).
  • 1697 (Genroku 10): The fourth official map of Japan was made in this year, but it was considered to be inferior to the previous one—which had been ordered in 1605 (Shōhō 1) and completed in 1639 (Kan'ei 16). This Genroku map was corrected in 1719 (Kyōhō 4) by the mathematician Tatebe Katahiro (1644–1739), using high mountain peaks as points of reference, and was drawn to a scale of 1:21,600.[15]
  • 1697 (Genroku 10): Great fire in Edo.[9]
  • 1697 (Genroku 11): Another great fire in Edo. A new hall is constructed inside the enclosure of the Edo temple of Kan'ei-ji (which is also known as Tōeizan Kan'ei-ji or "Hiei-san of the east" after the principal temple of the Tendai Buddhist sect—that is to say, after the temple of Enryaku-ji at Mount Hiei near to Heian-kyō).[9]
  • 1703 (Genroku 15, 14th day of the 12th month): when the Akō Incident took place, in which a band of Forty-seven rōnin (leaderless samurai) avenged the death of their master Asano Naganori, due to the bloodshed, Emperor Higashiyama nearly withdrew the imperial will.
  • 1703 (Genroku 16, 5th month): First performance of Chikamatsu Monzaemon's play The Love Suicides at Sonezaki.
  • 1703 (Genroku 16, 28th day of the 11th month): The Great Genroku earthquake shook Edo and parts of the shōgun's castle collapsed.[16] The following day, a vast fire spread throughout the city.[9] Parts of Honshū's coast were battered by tsunami, and 200,000 people were either killed or injured.[16]
  • October 28, 1707 (Hōei 4, 14th day of the 10th month): 1707 Hōei earthquake. The city of Osaka suffers tremendously because of a very violent earthquake.[9]
  • November 15, 1707 (Hōei 4, 22nd day of the 10th month): An eruption of Mount Fuji; cinders and ash fell like rain in Izu, Kai, Sagami, and Musashi.[17]
  • 1708 (Hōei 5): The shogunate introduces new copper coins into circulation; and each coin is marked with the Hōei nengō name (Hōei Tsubo).[17]
  • 1708 (Hōei 5, 8th day of the 3rd month): There was a great fire in Heian-kyō.[17]
  • 1708 (Hōei 5, 8th month): Italian missionary Giovanni Sidotti landed in Yakushima, where he was promptly arrested.
  • 1709 (Hōei 6): Shōgun Tsunayoshi appoints commission to repair and restore Imperial mausoleums.[18]
  • 1709 (Hōei 6, 4th month): Tokugawa Ienobu, Tsunayoshi's nephew, becomes the 6th shōgun of the Edo bakufu.[17] and Emperor Nakamikado accedes to the throne.
  • July 27, 1709 (Hōei 6, 21st day of the 6th month): Emperor Higashiyama abdicated and the throne passed to his son.[19]
  • January 16, 1710 (Hōei 6, 17th day of the 12th month): Higashiyama died.[17]

Higashiyama is among those enshrined in the Imperial mausoleum, Tsuki no wa no misasagi, at Sennyū-ji in Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto. Also enshrined in this location are this emperor's immediate Imperial predecessors since Emperor Go-MizunooMeishō, Go-Kōmyō, Go-Sai and Reigen. Higashiyama's immediate Imperial successors, including Nakamikado, Sakuramachi, Momozono, Go-Sakuramachi and Go-Momozono, are enshrined here as well.[20]

Eras of reignEdit

The years of Higashiyama's reign are more specifically identified by more than one era name or nengō.[9]


Higashiyama's family included at least 11 children.


Position Name Birth Death Father Issue
Chūgū Princess Yukiko (幸子女王)
(later: Shōshūmon’in - 承秋門院)
November 14, 1680 March 18, 1720 Arisugawa-no-miya Yukihito  • First daughter: Imperial Princess Akiko


Name Birth Death Father Issue
Kushige Yoshiko (櫛笥賀子)
(later: Shin-syukenmon’in - 新崇賢門院)
Un­known Un­known Kushige Takatomo  • First son: Prince Ichi
 • Second son: Prince Ni
 • Fourth son: Prince Hisa
 • Second daughter: Princess Tomi
 • Fifth son: Imperial Prince Yasuhito
(later Emperor Nakamikado)
 • Sixth son: Imperial Prince Kan'in-no-miya Naohito
Reizei Tsuneko (冷泉経子) 1678 1755 Un­known  • Third son: Imperial Prince priest Kōkan
Un­known Un­known Un­known Takatsuji Nagakazu
(Aka: Sugawara - 菅原)
 • Third daughter: Princess Kōmyōjyō'in
 • Fourth daughter: Princess Syōsyuku


Status Name Birth Death Mother Marriage Issue
01 First son Prince Ichi (一宮) 1693 1694 Kushige Yoshiko
02 Second son Prince Ni (二宮) 1696 1698 Kushige Yoshiko
03 Third son Imperial Prince priest Kōkan (公寛法親王) 1697 1738 Reizei Tsuneko Un­known Un­known
01 First daughter Imperial Princess Akiko (秋子内親王) 1700 1756 Princess Yukiko Fushimi-no-miya Kunitada
(Imperial Prince)
04 Fourth son Prince Hisa (寿宮) 1700 1701 Kushige Yoshiko
05 Fifth son Imperial Prince Yasuhito (慶仁親王)
(later Emperor Nakamikado)
1702 1737 Kushige Yoshiko Konoe Hisako  • Imperial Prince Teruhito
(later: Emperor Sakuramachi)
 • Princess Syōsan
 • Imperial Prince Priest Jyun'nin
 • among 14 children...
02 Second daughter Princess Tomi (福宮) 1703 1705 Kushige Yoshiko
06 Sixth son Prince Kan'in-no-miya Naohito (閑院宮直仁親王) 1704 1753 Kushige Yoshiko Saemon-no-suke Sanuki Prince Kan'in-no-miya Sukehito (閑院宮典仁親王)
(father of: Emperor Kōkaku)
03 Third daughter Princess Kōmyōjyō'in (光明定院宮)
1707 1707 Takatsuji Nagakazu's daughter
04 Fourth daughter Princess Syōsyuku (聖祝女王) 1709 1721 Takatsuji Nagakazu's daughter

Fictional portrayalsEdit

Higashiyama appears under the name of Tomohito in the novel The Samurai's Wife by author Laura Joh Rowland. In the novel, detective Sano Ichiro is sent to investigate the murder of an important official in the Imperial Court. Tomohito is labelled as a suspect, and is portrayed as a childish oaf at the start of the novel. He is later revealed to be the instigator behind a coming revolution against the Tokugawa regime, so he can seize control of Japan himself. However, his plan fails, and he is once again placed in the Imperial Palace, where he seems to have accepted his fate to never leave the palace.



See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Imperial Household Agency (Kunaichō): 東山天皇 (113)
  2. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, Richard (1959). The Imperial House of Japan. pp. 117–118.
  3. ^ Titsingh, Isaac (1834). Annales Des Empereurs Du Japon (in French). Royale de France. pp. 415–416. Retrieved April 30, 2019.
  4. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, Imperial House, p. 10.
  5. ^ a b Ponsonby-Fane, Imperial House, p. 117.
  6. ^ Titsingh, Isaac (1834). Annales Des Empereurs Du Japon (in French). Royale de France. pp. 414–415. Retrieved April 30, 2019.
  7. ^ Titsingh, Isaac (1834). Annales Des Empereurs Du Japon (in French). Royale de France. p. 414. Retrieved April 30, 2019.
  8. ^ a b Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1956). Kyoto: The Old Capital of Japan, 794–1869, p. 342.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Titsingh, Isaac (1834). Annales Des Empereurs Du Japon (in French). Royale de France. p. 415. Retrieved April 30, 2019.
  10. ^ Titsingh, p. 415; Varley, H. Paul. (1959). A Chronicle of Gods and Sovereigns: Jinnō Shōtōki, p. 44; n.b., 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.
  11. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, Old Capital, p. 318.
  12. ^ Bock, Felicia G. (1990). "The Great Feast of the Enthronement". Monumenta Nipponica. 45 (1): 27–38. doi:10.2307/2384496. JSTOR 2384496.
  13. ^ Smith, Robert et al. (2004). Japanese Culture: Its Development And Characteristics, p. 28.
  14. ^ Screech, T. (2006). Secret Memoirs of the Shoguns, p. 73.
  15. ^ Traganeou, Jilly. (2004). The Tokaido Road: Traveling and Representation in Edo and Meiji Japan, p. 230.
  16. ^ a b Hammer, Joshua. (2006). Yokohama Burning, p. 63.
  17. ^ a b c d e Titsingh, p. 416.
  18. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, Imperial House, p. 118.
  19. ^ Meyer, Eva-Maria. (1999). Japans Kaiserhof in der Edo-Zeit, pp. 45–46.
  20. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, Imperial House, p. 423.
  21. ^ "Genealogy". Reichsarchiv (in Japanese). Retrieved 20 January 2018.

Further readingEdit

Regnal titles
Preceded by Emperor of Japan:

Succeeded by