Emperor Higashiyama (東山天皇)

Emperor Higashiyama (October 21, 1675 - January 16, 1710) was the hundred and thirteenth Emperor during Edo period. (his reign was May 6, 1687 - July 27, 1709)
His childhood's name was 五宮 and his posthumous name was Asahito. His posthumous title, 'Higashiyama' was originated from Sango (the title given in front of the name of temples), 陵所Sennyu-ji Temple.


He was the fifth Prince of Emperor Reigen. His mother was Naidaijin (Inner Minister), Munenaga MATSUNOKI's daughter, Naishinosuke (an official position to serve Naishinotsukasa, one of the twelve officials in the government based on the ritsuryo legal codes) Muneko (Keihomonin).

Brief Personal History

He was born as the fourth Prince of Emperor Reigen. He became Chokun (Crown Prince) in March 1683 (old calendar), and received to title Imperial Prince by Imperial order in December (old calendar). After having the ceremonial investiture of the Crown Prince in February and March 1683, the first time in three hundred years since Imperial Prince Naohito (Emperor Suko's Crown Prince, deposed by the Northern Court) he became Crown Prince. He had a coming-of-age ceremony in February and March 1687, he ascended to the throne after Emperor Reigen passed the throne to him on May 2. There was an enthronement ceremony in May and June the same year. Furthermore, the Great Thanksgiving Service (after the Enthronement of an Emperor) was restored on December 20, which had been discontinued for a long time. As to the background of this movement, there was a strong intention of his father, Emperor Reigen who worked hard to restore the events of the Imperial Palace and the movement to restore the monarchy.

Emperor Higashiyama's reign was twenty three years, during this time, his father, Emperor Reigen ruled his cloistered government.
However in 1690 Motohiro KONOE who was supported by the bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun), caused Kaneteru ICHIJO's downfall, supported by the Retired Emperor Reigen, and took actual political power of the Imperial government, after that, a conflict started to deepened between the Chancellor Motohiro KONOE and Emperor Reigen's cloistered government, called 'the distance between the bakufu.'
In 1694, although Retired Emperor Reigen announced to move the political base from his to the Emperor, the Retired Emperor still had power to rule the actual government. Furthermore in 1697, he nurtured a strong relationship with Motohiro KONOE, who opposed his parents in relation to Giso (close aides to the Emperor), Motohiro NAKAMIKADO's reshuffle issue, while Motohiro had absolute trust from Konoe's mother, Muneko MATSUNOKI (Keihomonin) and was frustrated with NAKAMIKADO's attitude to previously look down upon the Emperor. After that Emperor started to rule the government directly with Motohiro KONOE's support.

However Emperor Higashiyama's era was in the Genroku era, there was an overlapped in the period of Tsunayoshi TOKUGAWA's shogunate era, that was called inukubo (he was called the Dog Shogun as he issued an regulation to protect animals). Since Tsunayoshi TOKUGAWA had great respect towards the Imperial Palace, the relationship between the Imperial Palace and the Edo Bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) was moving forward in a good direction. As a result, Imperial property (private Imperial property) increased from ten thousand koku to thirty thousand koku and this made it possible to repair the mountain ridge drastically. The next Shogun in power, Ienobu TOKUGAWA was Motohiro KONOE's son in law, the relationship between Emperor Higashiyama, Motohiro KONOE, Ienobu TOKUGAWA was during the most settled period. Since there was a good relationship between the Imperial Palace and the bakufu, the Emperor's Prince, Imperial Prince Naohito was able to establish a new household for the Imperial prince (Kaninnomiya family), although it did not happen while the Emperor was in power.

In March 1701, when Emperor Higashiyama sent his Imperial envoys to Edo, Sukekado YANAGIWARA and Yasuharu TAKANO, while they were welcomed by the Genroku Ako, who was in charge of looking after them, the Genroku Ako Incident took place when the host of the lord of the Ako Domain, Naganori ASANO attacked an instructor with his sword, Koke (a master of ceremony), Yoshinaka KIRA. However, according to Motohiro KONOE's diary, the Emperor was pleased to hear this misfortune happen when KONOE reported it to the Emperor. While Asano was helping to fix the Kyoto Imperial Palace that was previously burned down, but there was a possibility that Yoshinaka KIRA might have been involved in the various political moves of the bakufu towards the Imperial Palace, such as putting pressure on Emperor Gosai for the abdication of the throne, Emperor Higashiyama might have had a hatred towards Yoshinaka KIRA due to this reason. The Emperor also ordered two Imperial envoys who returned from Kyoto, and the messenger sent from retired emperor, Hirosada SEIKANJI to not be allowed to enter the Imperial Palace, since they did not act in the mediation towards the Shogun, and stood and watched the situation when Naganori ASANO and his family had to kill themselves.

The Emperor abdicated the throne to Emperor NAKAMIKADO in 1709. He started his cloistered government to stop his father, the Cloistered Emperor Reigen ruling the government, however, he had smallpox and died soon after that.

Eras during his reign.

Jokyo (February 21, 1684) - September 30, 1688

Genroku September 30, 1688 - November 22, 1704

Hoei November 22, 1704 - (April 25, 1711)

The Imperial Mausoleum

The Emperor was entombed at Tsukinowanomisasagi (the Tsukinowa Mausoleum), Senzan-cho, Imagumano, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto City.

[Original Japanese]