Emperor Gomizunoo (後水尾天皇)

Emperor Gomizunoo (June 29, 1596 - September 11, 1680) was the 108th Emperor (his reign lasted from May 9, 1611 to December 22, 1629). His personal name was Kotohito.

Brief Personal History

Emperor Goyozei wanted to get rid of the crown prince (the first prince), Imperial Prince Katahito (monk-Prince Kakushin), who had been appointed according to Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI's disposition, and wanted to make his own decision as to who should be the next Emperor. However, Ieyasu TOKUGAWA, who had seized political power after the Battle of Sekigahara, got involved in the imperial succession, and although he accepted Imperial Prince Katahito's joining the priesthood (not being included in the imperial succession) he demanded that the third prince, Kotohito, be enthroned as the next Emperor, since he was the legitimate son. Finally, Emperor Goyozei agreed to this; however, he treated Imperial Prince Kotohito coldly the same way he had Imperial Prince Katahito, since it was not the Emperor's intention but Ieyasu's to let Imperial Prince Kotohito succeed to the throne.

On March 27, 1611, after Emperor Goyozei abdicated, Emperor Gomizunoo succeeded to the throne. An enthronement ceremony was held on April 12. However, the bitter relationship with his father, Retired Emperor Goyozei, continued for a long time despite the intermediary of Nankobo Tenkai and Katsushige ITAKURA until his father died.

The Edo government issued Kuge shu hatto (the laws for court nobles) and Shie hatto (the laws prohibiting purple robes for high-ranking priests that had been granted by the Emperor) on August 2, 1613, to rule as an act of the Imperial Palace, followed by the issuance of Kinchu narabi ni kugesho hatto the (laws for the court in the Edo period) on September 9, 1615. Subsequently, all the actions of the Imperial Palace were under the control of the government through Kyoto Shoshidai (the Kyoto deputy); meanwhile, the regent and chancellor organized the Court Council, and the running of the palace was determined after receiving approval from the government. Consequently, court nobles (excluding the regent and chancellor families) and retired emperors were not involved in the final process of making political decisions for the Imperial Palace; it was intended that the palace should be run in accordance with the government policy.

When it was found out that there were a prince and princess between Emperor Gomizunoo and his favorite court lady, Yotsuko YOTSUTSUJI, Hidetada TOKUGAWA was furious and he demanded the cancellation of the arrangement to make his daughter, Masako TOKUGAWA, become the Imperial consort; however, some close aides were punished, and in 1620 it was arranged that Masako would become a consort in the palace. Because of the incidents such as Shie Incident of 1627, and another in which Fuku (Kasuga no tsubone), the wet nurse of Iemitsu TOKUGAWA, went to the Imperial Palace as a common citizen, the Emperor could not take the situation whereby he had to live with the humiliation from the Edo government, so he abdicated the throne on November 8, 1627 and passed the position to his second daughter, Imperial Princess Okiko (later called Empress Meisho). There is one theory that the Emperor wished to be administered moxibustion, but his courtier was against it, saying, 'It is out of the question that the Emperor has a burned mark on the body'; consequently, the Emperor decided to abdicate in order to have moxa cautery treatment done, but there was an example the former emperors had the same treatment done (Emperor Takakura and Emperor Gouda), so it is presumed to have been an excuse to abdicate.

Subsequently, Emperor Gomizunoo continued his cloister government as a guardian of four generations until the era of Emperor Reigen. The conflict between the Retired Emperor (who later became a Cloistered Emperor) and the government continued. Also, in consideration toward Tofukumonin (Masako TOKUGAWA), to the birth mothers of Emperor Gokomyo, Emperor Gosai and Emperor Reigen (Mibuin Mitsuko SONO, Hoshunmonin Takako KUSHIGE, Shinkogimonin Kuniko SONO), Nyoin go was presented just before they died (to Mibuin, Nyoin go was presented immediately after Emperor Gokomyo died) and their fathers (Mototo SONO, Takashi KUSHIGE, Motone SONO) were secretly given a special rank and position; it is said that the government maintained direct and indirect pressure upon the Imperial Palace. Moreover, the government had set a basic policy to prevent a 'ruling cloister government,' which should have been naturally up to the Imperial Palace to control; however, the government had no choice but to accept the cloister government of Retired (Cloistered) Emperor Gomizunoo, since Tofukumonin understood her husband's intention to rule the cloister government and protected him from the political pressure.

The Emperor lived to the age of eighty-five and died in 1680; he was entombed within Sennyu-ji Temple in Tsukino Wa no Misasagi. There is a burial mound on the grounds of the Shokoku-ji Temple, in Kamigyo Ward of Kyoto City, where Emperor Gomizunoo's hair and teeth are kept. He lived to be the oldest of all the previous emperors until July 12, 1985.
Said Emperor Showa, who beat the long-standing record of Emperor Gomizunoo, 'During Emperor Gomizunoo's reign, people's lives were shorter, so his record is more valuable than mine.'

Some of Emperor Gomizunoo's framed calligraphy is displayed at Yomei-mon Gate or other areas in Nikko Tosho-gu Shrine, about which it is said that later, when the Satsuma clan demanded that the shrine be burned, Taisuke ITAGAKI persuaded them not to, one of the reasons being that there were such historical materials inside, and therefore the shrine was saved.

Posthumous name, Tsuigo, a different name

The Emperor received the posthumous name of Gomizunoo. Mizunoo was a different name for Emperor Seiwa. The Emperor intended to take the Kagogo (a kind of posthumous name) of Emperor Seiwa's different name, 'Mizunoo' (Emperor Seiwa was a father of Emperor Yozei) for himself, and instead presented to his father 'Yozei' as the Kagogo of the Emperor Goyozei (Emperor Yozei was infamous for misconduct and was forced to be abdicated). There is no other example like the above, in which the son's and father's names have been turned around. There are many examples of the posthumous names from Emperor Gosaga in the Kamakura period to Emperor Gokomatsu in the period of the Northern and Southern Courts, as well as in the Muromachi period, after which it stopped for next seven generations; the posthumous name of Gomizunoo was the first one after two centuries, after Emperor Gokomatsu. Due to this there is a strong intention shown from Emperor Gomizunoo. Also, there was an indication that the Emperor meant to be in a higher position than the Tokugawa clan, who called themselves the Minamoto clan, which originated from Emperor Seiwa.

The anecdote

He liked studies and wrote 'Ise Monogatari (The Tales of Ise) On sho.'
On the other hand, he had relationships with a variety of women. He would invite prostitutes to the palace, although it was against Kinchu Hatto (a regulation within the Imperial Palace), and he would secretly go to Yukaku (a red-light district) and carry on affairs with prostitutes. He had about thirty children whose mothers were from outside the palace; although he became a priest when he was fifty-six, his bad habit remained the same and he had a child, Emperor Reigen, when he was fifty-eight.

Eras during his reign

Keicho (March 27, 1611) - July 13, 1615

Genna (Genwa) July 13, 1615 - February 30, 1624

Kanei February 30, 1624 - (November 8, 1629)

Imperial mausoleum

The Emperor was entombed in Tsuki no Wa no Misasagi at Senzan-cho, Imagumano, in the Higashiyama Ward of Kyoto City.

[Original Japanese]