Emperor Gokomatsu (後小松天皇)

Emperor Gokomatsu (August 1, 1377 - December 1, 1433) was the sixth and last Emperor of the Muromachi period (Northern Court), or the 100th Emperor (his reign was from May 24, 1382 to October 5, 1412). His first name was Motohito.

Since the Southern Court was determined to be the standard in 1911, the period of the Emperor's reign was re-established as having lasted from 1392 to 1412 which is after the peace settlement of the Meitoku era. Until then the Northern Court, which ultimately led to the current Imperial line, was considered as the standard period, therefore the period of the Emperor's reign in the Northern Court was used (1382 - 1412).


He was the first prince of Emperor Goenyu. His mother was Tsuyomonin FUJIWARA no Takako, the daughter of Kintada SANJO, who was a Naidaijin (Uchi no otodo: minister of the center). Moreover, it is said that a sophisticated Zen priest, Sojun IKKYU, was the illegitimate child of Emperor Gokomatsu.

Brief Personal History

He was brought up in the palace of Sukenori HINO. On December 28, 1382, Emperor Gokomatsu succeeded to the throne at the age of six after his father, Emperor Goenyu passed the throne to him, and the Emperor Goenyu, now the Retired Emperor, started the cloister government. There was an abrupt relationship between the Retired Emperor and the Muromachi bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) --the third Shogun Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA, who influenced his political power within the Imperial Palace and held many court nobles in the relationship of master and servant--and each party opposed each other. Following the death of the Retired Emperor Goenyu in 1393, Yoshimitsu had even stronger power to influence the Imperial Palace and took control of the politics as an actual retired emperor; in later years it was called 'Yoshimitsu's cloister government,' while Emperor Gokomatsu acted as the tool of another person.

On August 29, 1412, Emperor Gokomatsu abdicated to pass the throne to his son, Imperial Prince Mihito (the future Emperor Shoko) and started his cloister government. This was against the agreement of sharing imperial succession as decided by the union of the Northern and Southern Courts in 1392, and subsequently the two sides often opposed each other in armed conflicts.

Because Emperor Shoko was weak and often in serious condition, he did not have any children to succeed as prince; moreover, Gokomatsu's second son Ogawanomiya died young, so there was the issue of who would succeed to the throne; however, after Retired Emperor Gokomatsu had a meeting with the fourth Shogun Yoshimochi ASHIKAGA, Imperial Prince Fushiminomiya Sadafusa of Suko Ryu (a descendant of Emperor Suko) was appointed as a successor once he received the title of a Imperial Prince by the imperial order and became Gokomatsu's adopted child. However, Emperor Shoko was strongly opposed to the arrangement, and Sadafusa became a priest and gave up on the plan of succeeding to the throne. In 1428, when Emperor Shoko was in critical condition, the sixth Shogun Yoshinori ASHIKAGA acted as an intermediary, and Sadafusa's son Hikohito was adopted by the Emperor and succeeded to the throne as Emperor Gohanazono.

During the eras of the two generations, Shoko and Gohanazono, Emperor Gokomatsu ruled his cloister government; he became a priest during this period, in 1431. He died on October 20, 1433. He was fifty-seven years old.

Posthumous name, Tsuigo, a different name

He had the posthumous name 'Gokomatsuin,' which was conferred according to his will. For reference, 'Emperor Komatsu' is the different name for the fifty-eighth Emperor, Koko. Emperor Koko was enthroned after the death of his brother's grandchild, Emperor Yozei, and his descendants kept the succession to the Imperial Throne for a long time. Although the family line of imperial succession changed to Emperor Suko's line, Emperor Gokomatsu showed his considerable will to justify his own imperial line by having this posthumous name. Emperor Gokomatsu, in 1426, ordered that "Honcho Koin Joun roku" be edited so as to organize the Imperial Family records, at a time in which Emperor Shoko was ill; additionally, it shows that the Emperor Gokomatsu strongly believed the justice of his family line in succeeding to the Imperial Throne.

Eras during his reign

Eitoku (April 11, 1382) - February 27, 1384

Shitoku February 27, 1384 - August 23, 1387

Kakei August 23, 1387 - February 9, 1389

Koo February 29, 1389 - March 26, 1390

Meitoku March 26, 1390 - July 5, 1394

Oei July 5, 1394 - (December 19, 1421)

Imperial mausoleum

The Emperor was entombed in Fukakusa no Kita no Misasagi at Fukakusa Bo-cho, in the Fushimi Ward of Kyoto City.

[Original Japanese]