Emperor Murakami (村上天皇)

Emperor Murakami (July 14, 926 - July 5, 967) reigned in the mid-Heian period (from May 31, 946 to July 5, 967). He was the sixty-second Emperor. His posthumous name was Nariakira.


He was the fourteenth prince of the sixtieth Emperor, Daigo. His mother was FUJIWARA no Mototsune's daughter, the second consort of an emperor, FUJIWARA no Onshi. He was the younger half-brother of the sixty-first Emperor, Suzaku.

Brief Personal History

He became the crown prince on April 22, 944 and was enthroned on the 28th of the same month after the abdication of Emperor Suzaku (April 13, 946).

The Emperor's father-in-law, FUJIWARA no Tadahira, continued to work as a chancellor (chief cabinet advisor to the Emperor) from the previous Emperor's era, since after Tadahira died in 949 there was no one appointed as a regent so a chancellor and the Emperor ruled the government directly; this became Imperial House Law, followed by the Engi period. However, the actual control of politics was still with FUJIWARA no Saneyori and FUJIWARA no Morosuke (brothers of the regent-and-chancellor family); in addition, the Emperor's mother Onshi and older brother, the Cloistered Emperor Suzaku in his pious life, tried to get involved in politics as guardians, so the government--which was supposed to be ruled by the Emperor--was a superficial one.

Subsequent to the Shohei and Tengyo Rebellion caused by TAIRA no Masakado, FUJIWARA no Sumitomo (935 - 940), because the imperial financial situation was tight, the Emperor encouraged the saving of money and helped to stabilize prices.

In the area of civil administration, the Emperor ordered the editing of "Go-sen Waka Shu (Later Collection of Japanese Poetry)" in 951, or organized Tentoku Dairi Utaawase (a tanka match, or a tanka (writing) contest) in March 960, being highly regarded as a poet and protector of the world of tanka poetry; this reptution continued in subsequent ages. He was well informed about the koto (a zither-like Japanese instrument) and biwa (a Japanese lute), and today he is well known as the Emperor who encouraged the flowering of the Heian period.

The Emperor's administration was highly regarded as 'the peaceful era of Tenryaku,' in contrast to the preceding ages. On the other hand, the political basis controlled by the Emperor's maternal family became more established during this reign and there was no fairness in politics; moreover, there were disasters such as when the Imperial Palace burned down in Tentoku 4, and so on.

On May 25, 967, the Emperor--still in power--died at the age of 42. There was no Emperor-go for 900 years since Emperor Murakami until Emperor Kokaku in the Edo period.

Also, the descendant of Prince Tomohira had a dramatic influence as MURAKAMI Genji (the MINAMOTO clan originating from Emperor Murakami) would in future turn toward politics controlled by the Imperial Palace.

Posthumous name, Tsuigo, a different name

His posthumous name, 'Murakami,' which came from the name of his imperial mausoleum.
During Emperor Ichijo's reign, the Emperor Murakami was already called 'former Emperor Murakami' instead of 'Murakami in, Retired Emperor Murakami.'

Eras during his reign

Tengyo, Tenkei, Tenkyo





The Imperial Mausoleum

The mausoleum is located at Murakami no Misasagi, Uda no tani, Narutaki, in the Ukyo Ward of Kyoto City.

[Original Japanese]