Emperor Koko (光孝天皇)

Emperor Koko (830 - September 17, 887) was the fifty-eighth Emperor (his reign was from March 23, 884 to September 17, 887).

His first name was Tokiyasu.

He was also called Nina no Mikado or Komatsu no Mikado.

The FUJIWARA clan produced a chancellor for the first time during his reign.


He was the third prince of Emperor Nimmyo. His mother was Takushi, the daughter of Grand Minister (posthumous title) FUJIWARA no Fusatsugu.

His brothers were the Emperor Montoku, Prince Muneyasu, Prince Saneyasu, Prince Motoyasu, MINAMOTO no Masaru and MINAMOTO no Hikaru. He also adopted MINAMOTO no Koreshige of Saga Genji (the MINAMOTO clan originated from Emperor Saga).

Brief Personal History

He had been the favorite of Empress Dowager TACHIBANA no Kachiko since his childhood. He had a coming-of -age ceremony when he was 16 years old in front of his father, Emperor Nimmyo, and became Shihon Shinno (Prince), after which he worked as Nakatsukasa kyo (a chief of the Nakatsukasa Ministry), Shikibu kyo (a chief of the Shikibu Ministry), Sumai no tsukasa (in charge of the sumo matches held in the presence of the Emperor), Dazai no sotsu (director of the Dazai Office), Taishu (a governor) of Hitachi Province and Kozuke Province, after nearly all the official positions had been filled, after which he became Ippon Shinno (Prince), the principal of princes when he was 53 years old.

He was enthroned when he was 55 years old, after Emperor Yozei was overthrown by FUJIWARA no Mototsune. According to "Tsurezure gusa (Essays in Idleness)," it is said that the Emperor did his own general cooking after the enthronement. FUJIWARA no Mototsune was appointed as a chancellor, and he dealt with politics. As soon as he was enthroned, he allowed many princes to be demoted from nobles to subjects; due to his illness, his son, Emperor Uda (Sadami) was returned as a prince on August 25, Ninna 3 and Emperor Uda became the crown prince on August 26, Ninna 4. Emperor Koko died on the same day, and Prince Sadami ascended to the throne as Emperor Uda.

It is said that he worked to restore court functions and that, as a highly educated person, he was very versatile. He was good at making poems and playing the 13-string koto, and he brought back falconry by following the precedent of Emperor Kammu. He also encouraged Sumo, presumably because as a prince he had worked as the sumai no tsukasa (in charge of the sumo matches held in the presence of the Emperor). In his final years he aimed to undertake political reform and build a temple (by imperial order) near Uda-in, where he had spent his time during princehood; however, it didn't come true, and it was succeeded to the next Emperor, Uda, to rule 'the peaceful era of Kampyo' and build Ninna-ji Temple.

According to "Nihon sandai jitsuroku," 'the young Emperor Koko was intelligent and preferred to read Chinese classics on ethics, politics and history books.'
His behavior was elegant; he was moderate and calm, and had greater latitude. He was described as gracious, having the ability to understand things in human terms.

830: Emperor Koko was born. He filled successive position as the taishu (governor) of Hitachi Province and Kozuke Province, and as the nakatsukasa kyo (a chief of the Nakatsukasa Ministry).
876: He became Shikibu kyo (a chief of the Shikibu Ministry)
882: He became Imperial Prince Ippon. 884: He was enthroned. 887: He died.

Eras during his reign


The Imperial Mausoleum

The imperial mausoleum is Komatsu yama no misasagi (Nochi no tamura no misasagi).

The following is Emperor Koko's poem from "A Hundred Poems by a Hundred Poets":

I went out to the field and picked up young greens for you, and the snow was falling on my sleeves.

[Original Japanese]