Emperor Kameyama (亀山天皇)

Emperor Kameyama (July 9, 1249 - October 4, 1305) was the ninetieth Emperor during the Kamakura period (his reign was from January 9, 1259 to March 6, 1274). His posthumous name was Tsunehito.


He was the seventh Prince of Emperor Gosaga. His mother was the Grand Minister, Saneuji SAIONJI's daughter, Omiyain FUJIWARA no Kitsushi. He was the second son, followed by Emperor Gofukakusa, of the Empress.

Brief Personal History

During the most horrible Shoka Famine, he became Crown Prince when he was just ten years old in August 1258, then he succeeded to the throne in the following year after his brother, Emperor Gofukakusa passed the throne to him. His father, Emperor Gosaga and his birth mother, Omiyain intended for him to be enthroned as Emperor.

In the Kamakura Disturbance in 1263, the sixth seii taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians"), Imperial Prince Munetaka was sent back from Kamakura, in his stead Imperial Prince Koreyasu demanded to fill his position. In 1265 a sovereign letter from Kublai (Khan) of the Yuan [Mongol] Dynasty was delivered through Goryeo, it was sent from the Kamakura bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun). The bakufu prepared for battle against the Yuan [Mongol] Dynasty while the Imperial Palace prayed that they would yield to Japan.
During his reign the Mongolians invaded Japan (Genko, Mongolian Expeditions against Japan) twice, the Emperor acted eagerly to pray at Ise Jingu Shrine, etc. (During this period, both the Retired Emperor Kameyama and Emperor Gouda, father and son, prayed at Ise Jingu Shrine and were ready to sacrifice themselves to help the nation, however it is not clear who to appreciate for this, the Retired Emperor Kameyama or Emperor Gouda, and this was a big controversial theory between the scholars during the Taisho period and the issue still has not been concluded.)

In 1267 the Empress gave a birth to Imperial Prince Yohito (Emperor Gouda), and he became Crown Prince due to the Gosaga in's intention the following year. In February 1272 after the Cloistered Emperor Gosaga died, there were issues as to who would succeed the Chiten no Kimi and concerning the private estate owned by the Imperial Family. It is said Gosaga left his will asking the Kamakura bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a Shogun) to appoint the successor to rule the cloistered government, after the government asked Omiyain about who Gosaga's intended to succeed she named Emperor Kameyama, thus it was decided that Emperor Kameyama was to rule the direct government. Emperor Kameyama abdicated and passed the throne to the Crown Prince, Prince Yohito in the New Year of 1274 and started the cloistered government.
Emperor Kameyama who worked on improving the system of council supervised by a retired emperor; In Hyojo Sei, based upon his achievements, was thought to be an Emperor who exercises 'strict self discipline' and yet, operates a 'benevolent government.'

The Emperor worked hard to continue his own Imperial line (the Daikaku-ji Imperial line) apart from Emperor Gofukakusa's (the Jimyo-in Imperial line), this was the beginning of the separation of the Imperial lineage and sharing of Imperial succession for both parties. The bakufu, concerned about the Jimyo-in Imperial line cold treatment of the Retired Emperor Gofukakusa when he made known his intention to become a priest, they recommended Gofukakusa's Prince, Imperial Prince Hirohito (the Emperor Fushimi) to become Crown Prince as a compromised proposal. In 1275 Imperial Prince Hirohito was adopted by Kameyama and received the title Prince by Imperial Order, then became Crown Prince. Subsequently Kameyama's grandchild and Emperor Gouda's Prince, Prince Kuniharu (the Emperor Gonijo) received the title Prince by Imperial Order in 1287.

However the bakufu did not like the fact that Kameyama did not get along well with Kanto Moshitsugi, Sanekane SAIONJI, also he was close to Yasumori ADACHI who lost his position from being involved in the Shimotsuki Disturbance. Due to above, Emperor Fushimi succeeded to the throne after Emperor Gouda in October 1287, Emperor Fushimi's father's Gofukakusa cloistered government started and he took complete control of politics. Further, the Kamakura Shogun, Imperial Prince Koreyasu lost his position in Kamakura, and instead Gofukakusa's Prince, Imperial Prince Hisaakira, took this position, this put the Jimyo-in Imperial line in a favorable position.

In September 1289, Kameyama became a priest at Nanzen-ji Temple and also became the cloistered emperor. His Buddhist name was Kongogen. He become a believer in the Zen sect and it spread gradually to the court nobles due to Kameyama becoming a priest. On the other hand, he had many relationships with different woman after becoming a priest and he had many children.

While his grandchild, temporary Emperor Gonijo was in power, Kameyama died at the Kameyama mansion in September 1305 when he was fifty seven years old. He left his will for his youngest child, Tokiwai no Miya Imperial Prince Tsuneaki, who was three years old at that time, to become Crown Prince, the Prince's uncle, the Sadaijin (Minister of the Left), Kinhira SAIONJI tried to make it happen, the Retired Emperor Gouda opposed to this strongly and this caused confusion within the Daikaku-ji Imperial line.

Posthumous name, Tsuigo, different name

His Tsuigo, Kameyamain came from the name of his Palace, Kameyama mansion. His father, Gosaga in built the Palace, Kameyama mansion in Sagano was passed to Emperor Kameyama, he spent his time in the Palace after he abdicated and then died. There were other names as follows.

Zenrin-ji dono
This name came from the Palace, Zenrin-ji dono, which was built by his father, Emperor Gosaga, on the south side of Rakuto Higahsiyama (Eikan-do) Zenrin-ji Temple in 1264. This Palace was made into a real temple by Emperor Kameyama himself and it became the Nanzen-ji, a high ranking temple among Five Great zen Temples of Kyoto in 1291.

Made no Koji dono (named after the place where the Palace is located)
Emperor Buno (named after the era)

Eras during his reign

Shogen (November 26, 1259) - April 13, 1260
Buno April 13, 1260 - February 20, 1261
Kocho February 20, 1261 - February 28, 1264
Bunei February 28, 1264 - (January 16, 1274)

The Imperial mausoleum

The Emperor was cremated and his remains were kept at Jo Kongo-in Temple in Sagano, Kameyama dono Hokke do, Nanzen-ji Temple built by the Cloistered Emperor Kameyama, Mt. Koya Kongobu-ji, however Kameyama dono Hokke do was considered as the Imperial mausoleum, which is currently Kameyama no Misasagi located within Tenryu-ji Temple in Susuki no Baba-cho, Saga Tenryu-ji, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto City. This Mausoleum is in Hokkedo style. There is also a cremation mound (a burial mound for cremated remains) in Kameyama Park in Saga Kame no o-cho, Ukyo Ward, which is next to Tenryu-ji Temple.

The Cloistered Emperor's bronze statue was built in Higashi (East) Park in Hakata Ward, Fukuoka City (Completed in 1904).

[Original Japanese]