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Emperor Go-Sanjō

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Title: Emperor Go-Sanjō  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Emperor Shirakawa, Emperor Go-Reizei, Emperor Sanjō, Emperor Go-Suzaku, Emperor Horikawa
Collection: 1034 Births, 1073 Deaths, Japanese Emperors, People of Heian-Period Japan
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Emperor Go-Sanjō

Emperor of Japan
Reign 1068–1073
Predecessor Go-Reizei
Successor Shirakawa
Born September 3, 1032
Died June 15, 1073 (aged 40)
Burial Yensō-ji no misasagi (Kyoto)

Emperor Go-Sanjō (後三条天皇 Go-Sanjō-tennō, September 3, 1034 – June 15, 1073) was the 71st emperor of Japan,[1] according to the traditional order of succession.[2]

Go-Sanjō's reign spanned the years from 1068 through 1073.[3]

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."


  • Traditional narrative 1
    • Events of Go-Sanjō's life 1.1
    • Kugyō 1.2
  • Eras of Go-Sanjō's reign 2
  • Consorts 3
  • Notes 4
  • References 5
  • See also 6

Traditional narrative

Before his ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne, his personal name (imina)[4] was Takahito-shinnō (尊仁親王).[5]

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 paternally. His father and mother were grandchildren of Fujiwara no Michinaga maternally. The Empress mother of the future Emperor Go-Sanjō was also known as Tishi, and a Yōmei-mon In (1012–94).[6]

Go-Sanjō had seven Imperial sons and daughters.[7]

  • 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 Ise)
  • 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)

Events of Go-Sanjō's life

Because Prince Takahito 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.

  • May 22, 1068 (Jiryaku 4, 19th day of the 4th month): 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).[8]

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

  • 1069 (Enkyū 1): Go-Sanjō issued the Enkyū Shōen Regulation Decree (Enkyū is 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.
  • 1070 (Enkyū 2): Go-Sanjō ordered a preliminary system of laws and a bureaucracy for regulating silk.
  • 1072 (Enkyū 4): As the Ritsuryō system of centralized authority had largely failed by this time, Go-Sanjō became interested in strengthening the finances of the Imperial Household.
  • January 18, 1072 (Enkyū 4, 8th day of the 12th month): In the 6th year of Emperor Go-Sanjō's reign (桓武天皇6年), the emperor abdicated 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).[9]
  • May 11, 1073 (Enkyū 5, 21st day of the 4th month): Go-Sanjō entered the Buddhist priesthood; and his new priestly name became Kongō-gyō.[7]
  • June 15, 1073 (Enkyū 5, 7th day of the 5th month): The former-Emperor Go-Sanjō died at the age of 40.[7]
Decorative emblems (kiri) of the Hosokawa clan are found at Ryoan-ji. Go-Sanjo is amongst six other emperors entombed near what had been the residence of Hosokawa Katsumoto before the Ōnin War.

Go-Sanjō is buried amongst the "Seven Imperial Tombs" at Ryōan-ji in Kyoto.[10]

The actual site of Go-Sanjō's grave is known.[1] This emperor is traditionally venerated at a memorial Shinto shrine (misasagi) at Kyoto.

The Imperial Household Agency designates this location as Go-Sanjō's mausoleum. It is formally named Yensō-ji no misasagi.[11]

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.[12]

These tombs reached their present state as a result of the 19th century restoration of imperial sepulchers (misasagi) which were ordered by Emperor Meiji.[12]


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.[13]


Go-Sanjō had three consorts.[7]

  • 1029–1093 Empress (chugō) Kaoruko (馨子),[14] 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)


Japanese Imperial kamon — a stylized chrysanthemum blossom
  1. ^ a b Imperial Household Agency (Kunaichō): 陽成天皇 (71)
  2. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1959). The Imperial House of Japan, p. 76.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ Brown, pp. 264; prior to Emperor Jomei, the personal names of the emperors were very long and people did not generally use them. The number of characters in each name diminished after Jomei's reign.
  5. ^ Titsingh, p. 166; Brown, p. 314; Varley, p. 198.
  6. ^ a b c d Brown, p. 314.
  7. ^ a b c d Brown, p. 315.
  8. ^ 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 Emperor Go-Murakami.
  9. ^ Titsingh, p. 169; Brown, p. 314; Varley, p. 44.
  10. ^ The "Seven Imperial Tombs" at Ryoan-ji are the burial places of Uda, Kazan, Ichijō, Go-Suzaku, Go-Reizei, Go-Sanjō, and Horikawa.
  11. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, p. 421.
  12. ^ a b Moscher, G. (1978). Kyoto: A Contemplative Guide, pp. 277–278
  13. ^ Titsingh, p. 165-168; Brown, p. 313-315.
  14. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1915). The Imperial Family of Japan, p. x.


  • Brown, Delmer M. and Ichirō Ishida, eds. (1979). Gukanshō: The Future and the Past. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-03460-0; OCLC 251325323
  • Moscher, Gouverneur. (1978). Kyoto: A Contemplative Guide. ISBN 9780804812948; OCLC 4589403
  • Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1959). The Imperial House of Japan. Kyoto: Ponsonby Memorial Society. OCLC 194887
  • Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). Nihon Odai Ichiran; ou, Annales des empereurs du Japon. Paris: Royal Asiatic Society, Oriental Translation Fund of Great Britain and Ireland. OCLC 5850691
  • Varley, H. Paul. (1980). Jinnō Shōtōki: A Chronicle of Gods and Sovereigns. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-04940-5; OCLC 59145842

See also

Regnal titles
Preceded by
Emperor Go-Reizei
Emperor of Japan:

Succeeded by
Emperor Shirakawa
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