Kazan Emperor (花山天皇)

Emperor Kazan (November 29, 968 - March 17, 1008) reigned from November 5, 984 - July 31, 986, as the sixty-fifth Emperor. It was in the middle Heian period when Emperor Kazan was in power. His posthumous name was Morosada. His name used to be written '華山天皇' in different Kanji characters.


He was the first prince of Emperor Reizei. His mother was a high-ranking lady in the court (a wife of an Emperor), Fujiwara no Kaishi, who was a daughter of regent and grand minister, FUJIWARA no Koremasa. He was the older half-brother of Emperor Sanjo. Prince Kiyohito was his son, who became a forefather of Kazan Genji (the Minamoto family originated from the Emperor Kazan) (Haku o ke (the Haku o family), who descended from Jingi haku (a chief official in charge of matters related to Shintoism)).

Brief Personal History

Emperor Kazan became the crown prince in 969 concurrently with the enthronement of his uncle, Emperor Enyu; he succeeded to the throne after Emperor Enyu in 984. He was enthroned after ten months he was born due to his maternal grandfather, Koremasa's political influence; however, when he succeeded to the throne at seventeen, Koremasa had already passed away and he did not have any powerful maternal relative, so his reign only lasted a little more than two years.

FUJIWARA no Yoritada continued in the position of chancellor (chief advisor to the Emperor) from previous government; however, FUJIWARA no Yoshichika, the Emperor's father-in-law and FUJIWARA no Koreshige, an educator to the Imperial family, took actual control of the politics. Yoshichika and Koreshige carried out aggressive political reform by issuing the Decree Restricting the Expansion of Private Estates and/or trying to activate the money circulation; however, soon after that they left the Imperial Palace following the Emperor's abdication of the throne.

At the age of 19 he abdicated the throne, left the Imperial Palace and shaved his head in order to become a priest. According to "Eiga Monogatari (A Tale of Flowering Fortunes)" and "Okagami (The Great Mirror)," the reason the Emperor became a priest was that his favorite high-ranking lady in the court (a wife of an Emperor), FUJIWARA no Shishi had died while pregnant, and there is a further record in "Okagami (The Great Mirror)" that FUJIWARA no Kaneie plotted to let his daughter's grandchild, Prince Yasuhito (Emperor Ichijo), succeed the throne. FUJIWARA no Kaneie's third son, FUJIWARA no Michikane, tricked Emperor Kazan, who was sorrowful, into becoming a priest, whereupon he took the Emperor from the Imperial Palace to Gangyo-ji Temple (Kazan-ji Temple).

At that time, having received orders from Kaneie, MINAMOTO no Mitsunaka of the Seiwa Genji (the MINAMOTO family were descended from the Emperor Seiwa) and his retainers protected the Emperor from the opposition at the bend of the Kamogawa River.
When passing ABE no Seimei's palace, a group heard someone inside say, 'It is a life-or-death matter! The Emperor is going to abdicate and
A shikigami (a type of spirit) has already come to the palace', whereupon something invisible opened the door, left the room, looked at the group and said, 'The Emperor has just walked past the front of the house.'

When the Emperor was tonsured after their arrival at Gangyo-ji Temple, Michikane fled the temple to explain the situation to his father, Kaneie, and it was at this point that the Emperor realized he had been deceived. Yoshichika and Koreshige were looking for the Emperor, who had gone missing from the palace, and found him in the Gangyo-ji Temple, and then they both said to the the Emperor that they were all deceived to become priests.

While Emperor Kazan was a prince, this incident had a detrimental effect on the fates of Murasaki Shikibu's father, FUJIWARA no Tametoki, who taught and was appointed to the position of Shikibu no jo (a position within the Bureau of Ceremony) at that time and FUJIWARA no Motonaga, who was well known for the ”Letters of local government officials and farmers from Owari Province” (Owari no kuni Gunji Hyakusho ra no Gebumi).

Emperor Kazan was commented upon by the people in those days, who said 'the Emperor himself is not so smart but his aids are'; there are many anecdotes in "Okagami (The Great Mirror)" and "Kojidan" describing Emperor Kazan's abnormal behavior. On the other hand, he was talented in the arts such as paintings, architectures and making poems, etc., and people often were impressed by his creativity based on his unique ideas. It is said that the Emperor edited "Shui Waka Shu (Collection of Gleanings)."

After the Emperor became a cloistered emperor in the pious life, he found this hoin (a seal used in Temples) in Nakayama-dera Temple of Settsu Province (Takarazuka City, Hyogo Prefecture), where it is said that Tokudo left a hoin (a seal used in temples) inside the stone coffin of the 33 Kannon Reijo (a sacred place) during the early Nara period, the Emperor worked hard and gained the power of the Buddhist dharma (Law) by visiting the 33 Kannon Reijo (a sacred place) from Kumano, Kii Province. Emperor Kazan's pilgrimage statue of the Goddess of Kannon has been inherited to the present as pilgrimage through 33 places in the western region, and each of the poems made by the Emperor in different sacred places has become a Buddhist (pilgrim's) hymn [chant]. After this pilgrimage, just over ten years period until the Emperor returned to the capital city in his final years, it is said the Emperor lived in a hermitage at his favorite place on the way to his pilgrimage, a Bodai-ji Temple (Sanda City, Hyogo Prefecture) in Settsu Province, there is Go-byosho/a mausoleum and this place is considered as an extra sacred place of pilgrimage through 33 places in western region of a family temple.

There was a famous incident after he became a priest, in which there was an assault upon the Cloistered Emperor Kazan. When the Cloistered Emperor Kazan was 29 years old, he was hit with an arrow by Inner Ministers FUJIWARA no Korechika and FUJIWARA no Takaie of the Naka no Kampaku family. The Cloistered Emperor Kazan began visiting Shi no kimi (literally, "fourth daughter") at the palace where Korechika used to visit, which was where the late Grand Minister FUJIWARA no Tamemitsu's daughter, San no kimi (literally, "third daughter"), had lived. This Shi no kimi was the sister of the Cloistered Emperor's favorite, a high-ranking lady in the court (a wife of an Emperor), FUJIWARA no Shishi. Korechika made it understood that the Cloistered Emperor was visiting his San no kimi. According to "Hyaku Ren Sho," the brothers took samurai with them and attacked the Cloistered Emperor's party; Takaie and the samurai pierced the Cloistered Emperor's sleeve with an arrow, before killing and beheading two young children in his party. The Cloistered Emperor Kazan was in fear and withdrew himself, and kept quiet about the incident; however, the rumor spread and Korechika and Takaie were both sentenced to deportation to Dazai fu or Izumo Province.
The Chotoku Incident

A high-ranking lady in the court (a wife of an Emperor): FUJIWARA no Shishi (969 - 985) - Grand Minister FUJIWARA no Tamemitsu's second daughter

A high-ranking lady in the court (a wife of an Emperor): FUJIWARA no Yoshi (971 - 989) - Dainagon (Ooi mono mosu tsukasa) FUJIWARA no Asateru's daughter

A high-ranking lady in the court (a wife of an Emperor) FUJIWARA no Shishi (? - 1035) - Chancellor and Grand Minister FUJIWARA no Yoritada's second daughter

A high-ranking lady in the court (a wife of an Emperor) Princess Enshi (Tsuyako) (972 - 998) - Ippon no Shikibu kyo, Prince Tamehira's daughter, later became FUJIWARA no Sanesuke's wife.

Princes, Princesses

The Cloistered Emperor had no children with any of the officially recognized empresses after he became a priest, but he did have children with Nakatsukasa (who was the daughter of the emperor's wet nurse) and her daughter TAIRA no Hirako, both of whom he had simultaneously fallen in love with; the general public called Prince Kiyohito (Nakatsukasa's son) 'Oya bara no miya' (literally, "prince of the mother's womb) and Prince Akinori (Hirako's son) 'Musume bara no miya' (literally, "prince of the daughter's womb). Two princes were later given official names by the Emperor Reizei in Gonomiya and Rokunomiya.

Mother: Nakatsukasa (平祐之女)

Prince Kiyohito (? - 1030) - Shihon no Danjo in, an ancestor of the Shirakawa Hakuo family

Two Princesses

Mother: TAIRA no Hirako (TAIRA no Suketada's daughter, whose mother was Nakatsukasa)

Prince Akinori (998 - 1035)- Shihon (Fourth Order of an Imperial Prince) no Nakatsukasa-kyo (Minister of the Ministry of Central Affairs)

Two princesses


Jinkan(1001 - 1050)

Kakugen (1004 - 1065)

According to "Eiga Monogatari," only one princess who was born from Hirako reached adulthood out of four princesses. However, this princess, (FUJIWARA no Shoshi's wife) was found dead in the middle of the night on he street with a cruel appearance, half-eaten by a wild dog on December 6, 1024 ("Sho Yu Ki"). This incident startled the court nobles in Kyoto, and while the police and judicial chief (in the ancient administrative system) investigated the incident, 法師隆範 was arrested as a suspect on July 25, 1025; he confessed that he killed the princess as instructed by FUJIWARA no Michimasa. FUJIWARA no Michimasa's father was FUJIWARA no Korechika, who had struck Cloistered Emperor Kazan with an arrow.

Eras during his reign



Posthumous name, Tsuigo, a different name

He was called 'Kazan in,' being named after Gozaisho (Emperor Kazan's residence) where he lived after his abdication.. All the past emperors are enshrined in Koreiden, one of the three palace sanctuaries.

The Imperial Mausoleum

The Imperial Mausoleum is called Kamiyakawa no hotori no misasagi and is located in Kita Takahashi-cho Town, Kinugasa, Kita Ward, Kyoto City.

[Original Japanese]