Emperor Uda (宇多天皇)

Emperor Uda (June 14, 867 - September 8, 931), the fifty-ninth Japanese Emperor, was in power from December 9, 887 to August 8, 897. The last name is Sadami.


Emperor Uda was the seventh prince of Emperor Koko. His mother was Empress Dowager Hanshi-Joo, who was the daughter of Emperor Kammu's son, Imperial Prince Nakano.

Although he once left the Imperial Family and was granted the surname of Genji and called MINAMOTO no Sadami, he returned to the Imperial Family on August 29, 887 with the help of Kampaku, chief adviser to the Emperor, FUJIWARA no Mototsune, and became a prince on August 30, 888. This is strongly related to the fact that Emperor Uda was the adopted son of Naishi no Tsukasa FUJIWARA no Yoshiko, who was Mototsune's half-sister. He became Emperor on November 21, the day Emperor Koko passed away due to ill health.

The first child, Imperial Prince Atsugimi (later called Emperor Daigo), was the son of Nyogo (Empress Dowager Zo), FUJIWARA no Inshi (Taneko). FUJIWARA no Inshi was one of the wives of Emperor Uda when he was young, and was a daughter of Naidaijin FUJIWARA no Takafuji.

The Nyogo were FUJIWARA no Inshi, FUJIWARA no Onshi (Yoshiko), TACHIBANA no Gishi (Noriko), SUGAWARA no Enshi (Hiroko) and TACHIBANA no Boshi (Fusako). FUJIWARA no Onshi (Yoshiko) was Mototsune's daughter and became one of the Emperor Uda's wives after his enthronement. After Nyogo FUJIWARA no Inshi died of illness, Imperial Prince Atsugimi was adopted and she became the prince's wife when Emperor Daigo was enthroned. Because she lived in Higashi-Shichijo-no-Miya during the last part of her life, she was also called Higashi-shichijo-ko or Shichijo-ko. Shinjaku-Hosshinno was the son of TACHIBANA no Gishi (Noriko), whose wife was the daughter of SUGAWARA no Michizane; the name became apparent years later, when SUGAWARA no Michizane had a false charge brought against him. SUGAWARA no Enshi (Hiroko) was a daughter of SUGAWARA no Michizane.

There are many princes and princesses. Most of Emperor Uda's grandchildren were granted the surname Genji and left the Imperial Family. The Genji clan, which originated from the Emperor Uda Family, is called Uda-Genji; those who came from the Genji group of FUJIWARA no Inshi's daughter, Imperial Prince Atsumi, had the most power. MINAMOTO no Masanobu, Imperial Prince Atsumi's son, became Sadaijin; his daughter, MINAMOTO no Rinshi, was a wife of FUJIWARA no Michinaga and mother of Emperor Ichijo Chugu FUJIWARA no Shoshi and Kampaku FUJIWARA no Yorimichi. The lords of the Imperial Palace who kept their positions were the AYANOKOJI Family and the SASAKI clan, who were descendents of the Masanobu, who had originally moved to Ohmi and were indigenized and gave themselves the name SASAKI.


Brief Personal History

The Emperor appointed FUJIWARA no Tokihira and SUGAWARA no Michizane to positions of trust (Kampyo-no-chi). The construction of the Ninna-ji Temple was ordered by Emperor Uda in 888.

The Imperial Throne was passed to Emperor Daigo, and later Emperor Uda became a high priest at Ninna-ji Temple. In the old days it was believed that Emperor Uda came to power due to his strict Buddhist belief; however, one recent theory says the reason was that dominant political control had been taken away from the Fujiwara clan, or that it was done to stop the complaints from the royal families after Emperor Uda came into power by coming back to the Imperial Family, although he had become an allegiant (as indicated by the retired Emperor Yozei in his remark in "Okagami (The Great Mirror)," which is described below). Emperor Uda mentioned in "Kampyo-Goyuikai"/"Kampyo-no-Goyuikai (a group of precepts for governing)" that he was greatly shocked by the death of Udaijin, MINAMOTO no Yoshiari, which could have been one of the reasons he left the throne.

On the other hand, the relationship with the retired Emperor Yozei was tense. According to an anecdotal story in "Okagami (The Great Mirror)," the retired Emperor Yozei said that Emperor Uda used to serve him. It is also said to have been a big headache for the retired Emperor Uda as Emperor Yozei had tried to restore his government. According to the "Chousyu-ki" (an article of June 7, 1135) written during the Hoei period, when the retired Emperor Yozei had tried to enter the palace, Emperor Uda forbade the retired Emperor Yozei from entering the palace without his permission; however, later on Emperor Uda tried to enter the palace when the Shotai-no-Hen/Shotai Incident happened, and he tried to ask Emperor Daigo to stop SUGAWARA no Michizane's degradation, but could not do so because of the regulation that he himself had made.

This was an example of a member of the Imperial Family who abdicated and then returned and became the Emperor because there was no one to succeed the enthronement; it is said that the event of Emperor Uda's enthronement could have been set up by FUJIWARA no Yoshiko and Mototsune, although Imperial Prince Motoyoshi was still alive. A power struggle occurred after the young Emperor Uda was enthroned, when he and Yoshitsune, who wanted control over the Emperor, fought against each other in the "Ako Affair." Although the affair was settled by Emperor's concession, the Emperor was smarter than Mototsune believed he was, and he changed the government into the "Shinse" style; for example, he appointed SUGAWARA no Michizane to a position of trust.

The Emperor Uda wrote "Kampyo-Goyuikai"/"Kampyo-no-Goyuikai (a group of precepts for governing)" and "Kampyo-gyoki (Emperor Uda's Diary)." It is said that the Emperor Uda took actual control of the government while Emperor Daigo remained sick in his last years.

Some people said that "Engi-Tenryaku-no-chi," which was supposed to be governed well by Emperor Daigo and Emperor Murakami, should be called "Kampyo-no-chi," since the actual politics were based on Emperor Uda's (priest in a high position) style.

There was a big waka (Japanese poetry) ceremony called "Teiji-in Uta-awase," which was held after Emperor Uda came to power, thus representing the great influence of the Kokufu Bunka (Japan's original national culture).

Posthumous name, Tsuigo, different name

It is said that the name of Emperor Uda came from the place where he abdicated (Tsuigo is sometimes considered to be a type of posthumous name, but strictly speaking these are two different names); however, he spent most of the time at Ninna-ji Temple Omuro, Teijino-in and Rokujo-in (though another theory says the reason was that Emperor Uda spent his childhood at Uda-in, which was the house of his father, Emperor Koko, when he was the Imperial Prince). He was also called Kampyo-Hoo, Teijinoin and Dajo-emperor Suzakuin.

Eras during his reign



The Imperial Mausoleum

The Imperial Mausoleum is located at Ouchiyama no misasagi, in Uda-no-tani, Narutaki, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto City.

All the emperors are enshrined in Koreiden, one of the Kyuchu-sanden (three shrines of the Imperial Court).

[Original Japanese]