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 (September 3, 1034June 15, 1073) was the 71st emperor of Japanmarker, according to the traditional order of succession. His reign spanned the years from 1068 through 1073.

This 11th century sovereign was named after Emperor Sanjō and go- (後), translates literally as "later;" and thus, he is sometimes called the "Later Emperor Sanjō". The Japanese word "go" has also been translated to mean the "second one;" and in some older sources, this emperor may be identified as "Sanjō, the second," or as "Sanjo II."


Before his ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne, his personal name (his imina) was Takahito-shinnō (尊仁親王).

Takahito-shinnō was the second son of Emperor Go-Suzaku. His mother was Empress (kōgō) Sadako. (禎子内親王), the third daughter of Emperor Sanjō, making him the first Emperor in 170 years (since Emperor Uda) whose mother was not of Fujiwara descent. The Empress mother of the future Emperor Go-Sanjō was also known as Tishi, and a Yōmei-mon In (1012-94).

Go-Sanjō had three Empresses and seven Imperial sons and daughters.

  • 1050-1131 Imperial Princess Toshiko (聡子内親王)
  • 1053-1129 Imperial Prince Sadahito (貞仁親王) (Emperor Shirakawa)
  • 1056-1132 Imperial Princess Toshiko (俊子内親王) - Higuchi? saigū (樋口斎宮) (Saigū = Imperial Princess serving at the Grand Shrine of Isemarker)
  • 1057-1130 Imperial Princess Kako (佳子内親王) - Tomi-no-kōji Saiin 富小路斎院
  • 1060-1114 Imperial Princess Tokushi (篤子内親王) - Empress (chūgū of Emperor Horikawa)
  • 1071-1185 Imperial Prince Sanehito (実仁親王) - Shirakawa's would-be heir
  • 1073-1119 Imperial Prince Sukehito (輔仁親王)

Empresses and consorts

  • 1029-1093 Empress (chūgū) Keiko? (馨子) - second daughter of Emperor Go-Ichijō
  • ????-1062 Empress Dowager: Fujiwara Shigeko (藤原茂子), daughter of Fujiwara no Kinnari (藤原公成), adopted daughter of Fujiwara no Yoshinobu (藤原能信)
  • 1047-1134 Court Lady: Minamoto no Motoko (源基子), daughter of Minamoto no Motohira (源基平)
  • Court Lady: Fujiwara no Akiko (藤原昭子) - daughter of Fujiwara no Yorimune (藤原頼宗)

Events of Go-Sanjō's life

Because he was not of Fujiwara descent, the Kampaku, Fujiwara no Yorimichi neglected him, but Emperor Go-Suzaku decreed that upon his elder brother Chikahito's enthronement (as Emperor Go-Reizei), that Takahito would become the heir (kōtaitei). As Go-Reizei had no children of his own, upon his death, Takahito became emperor.

  • Jiryaku 4, on the 19th day of the 4th month (1068): In the 4th year of Emperor Go-Reizei's reign (後冷泉天皇4年), he died at age 44; and the succession (‘‘senso’’) was received by a his son. Shortly thereafter, Emperor Go-Sanjo is said to have acceded to the throne (‘‘sokui’’).

Yorimichi's younger brother Norimichi became kampaku, but Go-Sanjō was determined to rule personally.

  • Enkyū 1 (1069): Go-Sanjō issued the Enkyū Shōen Regulation Decree (Enkyū being the name of the era in which the decree was issued); and the emperor called for the establishment of a government office to certify Shōen records.

  • Enkyū 2 (1070): Go-Sanjō orderd the beginnings of a system of laws and a bureaucracy for regulating silk.

  • Enkyū 4 (1072): The Ritsuryō System of centralized authority having largely failed, Go-Sanjo became interested in strengthen the finances of the Imperial Household.

  • Enkyū 4, on the 8th day of the 12th month (1072): In the 6th year of Emperor Go-Sanjō-tennō's reign (桓武天皇6年), the emperor in favor of his son, and the succession (‘‘senso’’) was received by his son. Shortly thereafter, Emperor Shirakawa is said to have acceded to the throne (‘‘sokui’’).
  • Enkyū 5, on the 21st day of the 4th month (1073): Go-Sanjō entered the Buddhist priesthood; and his new priestly name became Kongō-gyō.
  • Enkyū 5, on the 7th day of the 5th month (1073): The former-Emperor Go-Sanjō died at the age of 40.

Research in recent years has led to an influential theory that his abdication was not for the purpose of carrying out cloistered rule, but was instead because of illness.

-Sanjō is buried amongst the "Seven Imperial Tombs" at Ryoan-jimarker in Kyoto. The mound which commemorates the Hosokawa Emperor Go-Sanjō is today named Shu-zan. The emperor's burial place would have been quite humble in the period after Go-Sanjō died. These tombs reached their present state as a result of the 19th century restoration of imperial sepulchers (misasagi) which were ordered by Emperor Meiji.


Kugyō (公卿) is a collective term for the very few most powerful men attached to the court of the Emperor of Japan in pre-Meiji eras. Even during those years in which the court's actual influence outside the palace walls was minimal, the hierarchic organization persisted.

In general, this elite group included only three to four men at a time. These were hereditary courtiers whose experience and background would have brought them to the pinnacle of a life's career. During Go-Sanjō's reign, this apex of the Daijō-kan included:

Eras of Go-Sanjō's reign

The years of Go-Sanjō's reign are more specifically identified by more than one era name or nengō.


  1. Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). Annales des empereurs du Japon, pp. 166-168; Brown, Delmer et al. (1979). Gukanshō, pp. 314-315; Varley, H. Paul. (1980). Jinnō Shōtōki. p. 198-199.
  2. Brown, pp. 264. [Up until the time of Emperor Jomei, the personal names of the emperors (their imina) were very long and people did not generally use them. The number of characters in each name diminished after Jomei's reign.]
  3. Titsingh, p. 166; Brown, p. 314; Varley, p. 198.
  4. Brown, p. 314.
  5. Brown, p. 315.
  6. Titsingh, p. 166; Brown, p. 313; Varley, p. 44. [A distinct act of senso is unrecognized prior to Emperor Tenji; and all sovereigns except Jitō, Yōzei, Go-Toba, and Fushimi have senso and sokui in the same year until the reign of Go-Murakami.]
  7. Titsingh, p. 169; Brown, p. 314; Varley, p. 44.
  8. Moscher, G. (1978). Kyoto: A Contemplative Guide, pp. 277-278
  9. Titsingh, p. 165-168; Brown, p. 313-315.


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