Emperor Nijo (二条天皇)

Emperor Nijo (July 31, 1143 - September 5, 1165) was the seventy-eighth Emperor (his reign was from September 5, 1158 to August 3, 1165). His posthumous name was Morihito.


He was the first prince of Emperor Goshirakawa. His mother was MINAMOTO no Arihito's adopted daughter, the Empress Dowager (posthumously conferred), MINAMOTO no Yoshiko. His maternal grandfather was FUJIWARA no Tsunezane. He was adopted by his grandfather, the Cloistered Emperor Toba's Empress, Bifuku mon in.

Brief Personal History

After the Emperor 's birth mother Yoshiko died suddenly, he was taken in by his grandfather, the Cloistered Emperor Toba and raised by Bifuku mon in ("Sankai ki"). While Emperor Konoe succeeded the throne, Bifuku mon in already had another older adopted son, Prince Shigehito (retired Emperor Sutoku's oldest son), thus there was no possibility for Emperor Nijo to succeed to the throne; therefore, in October 1151 he left for Ninna-ji Temple to become a priest where his uncle, Kakusho Hosshinno (the monk Prince Kakusho) was (the Emperor was nine years old). Subsequently, Sonno (grandson of the Emperor) read many Buddhist scriptures, and he was well known as 'a very smart child' ("Ima Kagami/The Mirror of the Present"). Because Emperor Konoe was not well and had no children, the chancellor (chief advisor to the emperor), Tadamichi, asked the approval of the Cloistered Emperor Toba for Sonno (the grandson of the Emperor) to succeed the throne in 1153; Bifuku mon in also supported it, since she was concerned about Emperor Sutoku starting his cloister government. After Emperor Konoe died in July 1155, it was decided in 'Imperial agreement' that Prince Masahito (the Emperor Goshirakawa) enthroned under the condition of being in the position until Sonno succeed the throne. Sonno returned from Ninna-ji Temple in August, whereupon he was ordered to become the crown prince and adopt the name 'Morihito' in September; he then had a coming-of-age ceremony in December and in March of the following year, he married Princess Shushi, as a result of which he had the complete support of Princess Shushi's father, Bifuku mon in.

In August 1158, Emperor Goshirakawa passed the throne to Morihito (Emperor Nijo). This was done by 'Buddha and Buddha rating' ("Hei han ki," August 4, 1158), since Bifuku mon in demanded it of Shinzei strongly and it came to be. There was a support group of Emperor Nijo's directly ruled government, and the people of the group were FUJIWARA no Koremichi (Bifuku mon in's cousin), FUJIWARA no Tsunemune (Emperor Nijo's birth mother, Yoshiko's brother) and FUJIWARA no Korekata (Emperor Nijo's educator, Toshiko's child). This was the beginning of the confrontation between Emperor Nijo's directly ruled government force and the force of Emperor Goshirakawa. Because Emperor Nijo was brought up by Bifuku mon in, he did not have a close relationship with his father, Emperor Goshirakawa. In December 1159 there was a Heiji War and Emperor Nijo was confined by the oppositions, but he escaped to TAIRA no Kiyomori's Rokuhara tei (TAIRA clan's villa located between Gojo and Shichijo, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto city). According to "the Tale of the Heike,' it is said that one of the samurai thought Emperor Nijo was a court lady when he had a look inside the court lady's carriage. It is said that the Emperor was a handsome but feminine-looking man.

On December 29, just after the war ended, the Emperor went to Hachijo tei (Hachijo villa) where Bifuku mon in was, and on New Year of the following year the Empress of the ex-emperor, FUJIWARA no Tashi, made an entry into the court as his Imperial Consort. It is said in "The Tale of the Heike," Tashi was allowed to make her bridal entry to the court as the Emperor's court lady due to the Emperor's own authority; however, it is hard to think his guardian, Bifuku mon in, and his close aides Tsunemune and Korekata did not get involved in making decisions on such an important issue, so it is presumed that this was an arranged engagement for the Emperor to be in a better political position. However, Goshirakawa ordered to sentence Tsunemune and Korekata for deportaion and they lost their positions in March; FUJIWARA no Takanobu was suspended from entering into a special temple in the Imperial Palace in July, the second consort of the Emperor, Princess Shushi became a nun due to her illness in August, followed by the death of the Emperor's guardian Bifuku mon in that November; thus Emperor Nijo's political power was wrecked by losing his important people, while on the other hand Goshirakawa, with the support of his force, took more political power.
On the surface it appeared that the government was ruled by two political forces with no conflict, ("Gu kan sho (A Selection of the Opinions of a Fool)"), however the fighting between the parties was more complicated; the situation was as if 'both were scared of each other and were in fear, although their fighting could not be seen on the surface but was like walking on the thin glass.' ("the Tale of the Heike")

Emperor gave hope to FUJIWARA no Koremichi and TAIRA no Kiyomori. Koremichi supported Emperor Nijo as a grand minister, and he published "Tai kai Hi Sho," a political statement. The educator TAIRA no Tokiko was appointed to Ju Sanmi no Naishi no suke, (Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank) vice Minister of Naishinosuke) ("Sankai ki") and Tokiko's husband Kiyomori was appointed to Kebiishi (a police and judicial chief) Betto (an equerry), Chu nagon (equivalent rank to Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank) in the legal codes of the Nara and Heian eras)to support the military. In September 1161, following the discovery of the conspiracy to let Prince Norihito (later called Emperor Takakura) succeed the Imperial Throne, he being the son of Emperor Goshirakawa and TAIRA no Shigeko, the Emperor removed Emperor Goshirakawa's close aides, TAIRA no Tokitada, TAIRA no Norimori, FUJIWARA no Narichika and FUJIWARA no Nobutaka, from their positions in order to stop Goshirakawa's political involvement. Ex-emperor Nijoin focused on two things entirely' ("Gukan sho"), Emperor Nijo took full control of the politics and established power based of his directly ruled government in the Imperial Palace located at Higashi no to in, Oshi koji, and Kiyomori worked as a guard at this place. In December Prince Akiko, Bifuku mon in's princess, became a junbo (women who were given equivalent rank of Emperor's birth mother) and was given the name of Hachijo in; moreover, Princess Shushi, who became a nun, was given the name of Takamatsu in. Also, Tadamichi's adopted daughter, FUJIWARA no Muneko (the daughter of Saneyoshi TOKUDAIJI) became the second consort of the Emperor, so the Emperor was supported by the chancellor (chief advisor to the Emperor) Motozane and he succeeded in taking control of other clans [families] eligible for positions as regents. In 1162 the Emperor recalled his uncle, Tsunemune, while on the other hand Tokitada and MINAMOTO no Sukekata who had made a curse toward the Emperor, were sentenced to deportation in order to gradually establish the basis of his government.

The Emperor issued a regulation to control Akuso (monk who does not follow the regulation in priesthood) and Jinin (a maiden in the service of a shrine) or the manorial control system, and established positive political ruling by following Shinzei's policy.
Emperor Goshirakawa was removed from politics and became deeply involved in religion; it is said that he built Renge o in and wished Emperor Nijo to come and see him to Renge o in on the special memorial day, and that he also wished to have a reward for hard work of his religious activity; however, Emperor refused to do so and Emperor Goshirakawa felt bitter about Emperor Nijo. ("Gukan sho")
The manor and private land were given to Renge o in, Emperor Nijo started to have suspicions that Emperor Goshirakawa in was starting to rule a cloister government. In February 1165, Grand Minister Koremichi died and the Emperor became ill. In June he abdicated and passed the throne to his son, who'd been born the previous year, Prince Nobuhito (Emperor Rokujo, the second consort of an Emperor, Muneko's adopted son); he died in July at Oshikoji Higashi no toin.

Emperor Nijo was a fine person, praised as 'a good Emperor in a degenerate age' ("Imakagami"), opposite to his ignorant father, Emperor Goshirakawa. On the other hand, the Emperor had opposed Emperor Goshirakawa all his life, and some people said 'Emperor Nijo did not respect his father' ("Genpei Josui Ki").

Eras during his reign

Hogen (April 27, 1156) - April 20, 1159

Heiji April 20, 1159 - January 10, 1160

Eiryaku January 10, 1160 - September 4, 1161

Oho September 4, 1161 - March 29, 1163

Chokan March 29, 1163 - June 5, 1165

Eiman June 5, 1165 - (August 27, 1166)

The Imperial Mausoleum

It is said that the Emperor was entombed in Koryuji no misasagi, Haccho Yanagi-cho Town, Hirano, Kita Ward, Kyoto City

[Original Japanese]