World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Emperor Saga

Emperor of Japan
Emperor Saga
Crown Prince (親王 Shinnō)
Reign 806–809
Coronation 806
Emperor (天皇 Tennō)
Reign 809–823
Enthronement June 17, 809
Predecessor Heizei
Successor Junna
Empress Tachibana no Kachiko (786–850)
Era name and dates
Daidō, Kōnin: 806–810, 810–824
Father Emperor Kanmu
Mother Fujiwara no Otomuro
Born February 8, 785
Died August 24, 842 (age 57)
Burial Saga no yamanoe no misasagi (Kyoto)
Cry for noble Saichō (哭最澄上人), which was written by Emperor Saga for Saichō's death. Saga was a scholar of the Chinese classics. He was also renowned as a skillful calligrapher. Chinese calligraphic influence had been weakened after the Heian period; this text was an example of the different way it was evolving in Japan.

Emperor Saga (嵯峨天皇 Saga-tennō, (February 8, 785 – August 24, 842) was the 52nd emperor of Japan,[1] according to the traditional order of succession.[2] Saga's reign spanned the years from 809 through 823.[3]


  • Traditional narrative 1
    • Events of Saga's life 1.1
    • Eras of Saga's reign 1.2
  • Legacy 2
  • Kugyō 3
  • Consorts and children 4
  • See also 5
  • Notes 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Traditional narrative

Saga was the second son of Emperor Kanmu and Fujiwara no Otomuro.[4][5] His personal name was Kamino (神野).[6] Saga was an "accomplished calligrapher" able to compose in Chinese who held the first imperial poetry competitions (naien).[7] According to legend, he was the first Japanese emperor to drink tea.

Saga is traditionally venerated at his tomb; the Imperial Household Agency designates Saganoyamanoe no Misasagi (嵯峨山上陵, Saganoyamanoe Imperial Mausoleum), in Ukyō-ku, Kyoto, as the location of Saga's mausoleum.[1]

Events of Saga's life

  • 806 Saga became the crown prince at age 21.
  • June 17, 809[8] (Daidō 4, 1st day of the 4th month[9]): In the 4th year of Emperor Heizei's reign, he fell ill and abdicated; and the succession (senso) was received by Kammu's second son Saga, the eldest son having become a Buddhist priest. Shortly thereafter, Emperor Saga is said to have acceded to the throne (sokui).[10]

Soon after his enthronement, Saga himself took ill. Saga's untimely health problems provided former-Emperor Heizei with a unique opportunity to foment a rebellion; however, forces loyal to Emperor Saga, led by taishōgun Sakanoue no Tamuramaro, quickly defeated the Heizei rebels which thus limited the adverse consequences which would have followed any broader conflict.[11] This same Tamuramaro is remembered in Aomori's annual nebuta or neputa matsuri which feature a number of gigantic, specially-constructed, illuminated paper floats. These great lantern-structures are colorfully painted with mythical figures; and teams of men carry them through the streets as crowds shout encouragement. This early ninth century military leader is commemorated in this way because he is said to have ordered huge illuminated lanterns to be placed at the top of hills; and when the curious Emishi approached these bright lights to investigate, they were captured and subdued by Tamuramaro's men.[12]

  • August 24, 842 (Jōwa 9, 15th day of the 7th month[13]): Saga died at the age of 57.[14]

Eras of Saga's reign

The years of Saga's reign are more specifically identified by more than one era name (nengō).[15]


In ancient Japan, there were four noble clans, the Gempeitōkitsu (源平藤橘). One of these clans, the Minamoto clan are also known as Genji (源氏), and of these, the Saga Genji (嵯峨源氏) are descended from 52nd emperor Saga. Saga's grandson, Minamoto no Tōru, is thought to be an inspiration for the protagonist of the novel The Tale of Genji.

In the 9th century, Emperor Saga made a decree prohibiting meat consumption except fish and birds. This remained the dietary habit of Japanese until the introduction of European dietary customs in the 19th century.

Emperor Saga played an important role as a stalwart supporter of the Buddhist monk Kūkai. The emperor helped Kūkai to establish the Shingon School of Buddhism by granting him the Toji temple in the capital Heian-kyō (present day Kyoto).


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.[16]

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 Saga's reign (809–823), this kugyō included:

Consorts and children

Saga had 49 children by at least 30 different women. Many of the children received the surname Minamoto, thereby removing them from royal succession.

Empress: Tachibana no Kachiko (橘嘉智子) (786–850), also known as Empress Danrin (檀林皇后 Danrin-kōgō), daughter of Tachibana no Kiyotomo (橘清友).[18]

  • Imperial Prince Masara (正良親王) (810–850), Emperor Ninmyo
  • Imperial Princess Masako (正子内親王) (810–879), married to Emperor Junna
  • Imperial Princess Hideko (秀子内親王) (?–850)
  • Imperial Prince Hidera (秀良親王) (817–895)
  • Imperial Princess Toshiko (俊子内親王) (?–826)
  • Imperial Princess Yoshiko (芳子内親王) (?–839)
  • Imperial Princess Shigeko (繁子内親王) (?–851)

Hi(deposed): Princess Takatsu (高津内親王) (?–841), daughter of Emperor Kammu

  • Imperial Prince Nariyoshi (業良親王) (?–868)
  • Imperial Princess Nariko (業子内親王) (?–815)

Hi: Tajihi no Takako (多治比高子) (787–825), daughter of Tajihi no Ujimori (多治比氏守)

Bunin: Fujiwara no Onatsu (藤原緒夏) (?–855), daughter of Fujiwara no Uchimaro (藤原内麻呂)

Nyōgo: Ōhara no Kiyoko (大原浄子) (?–841), daughter of Ōhara no Yakatsugu (大原家継)

  • Imperial Princess Ninshi (仁子内親王) (?–889), 15th Saiō in Ise Shrine 809–823

Nyōgo: Princess Katano (交野女王), daughter of Prince Yamaguchi (山口王)

  • Imperial Princess Uchiko (有智子内親王) (807–847), 1st Saiin in Kamo Shrine 810–831

Nyōgo: Kudara no Kimyō (百済貴命) (?–851), daughter of Kudara no Shuntetsu (百済俊哲)

  • Imperial Prince Motora (基良親王) (?–831)
  • Imperial Prince Tadara (忠良親王) (819–876)
  • Imperial Princess Motoko (基子内親王) (?–831)

Koui: Iidaka no Yakatoji (飯高宅刀自)

  • Minamoto no Tokiwa (源常) (812–854)
  • Minamoto no Akira (源明) (814–852/853)

Koui: Akishino no Koko (秋篠高子/康子), daughter of Akishino no Yasuhito (秋篠安人)

  • Minamoto no Kiyoshi (源清)

Koui: Yamada no Chikako (山田近子)

  • Minamoto no Hiraku(?) (源啓) (829–869)
  • Minamoto no Mituhime (源密姫)

Court lady (Naishi-no-kami): Kudara no Kyomyō (百済慶命) (?–849), daughter of Kudara no Kyōshun (百済教俊)

  • Minamoto no Yoshihime (源善姫)(814–?)
  • Minamoto no Sadamu (源定) (815–863)
  • Minamoto no Wakahime (源若姫)
  • Minamoto no Shizumu(?) (源鎮) (824–881)

Court lady: Takashina no Kawako (高階河子), daughter of Takashina no Kiyoshina (高階浄階)

  • Imperial Princess Sōshi (宗子内親王) (?–854)

Court lady: Fun'ya no Fumiko (文屋文子), daughter of Fun'ya no Kugamaro (文屋久賀麻呂)

  • Imperial Princess Junshi (純子内親王) (?–863)
  • Imperial Princess Seishi (斉子内親王) (?–853), married to Prince Fujii(son of Emperor Kammu)
  • Prince Atsushi (淳王)

Court lady: A daughter of Hiroi no Otona (広井弟名の娘)

Court lady: Fuse no Musashiko (布勢武蔵子)

  • Minamoto no Sadahime (源貞姫) (810–880)
  • Minamoto no Hashihime (源端姫)

Court lady: A daughter of Kamitsukeno clan (上毛野氏の娘)

  • Minamoto no Hiromu (源弘) (812–863)

Court lady(Nyoju): A daughter of Taima no Osadamaro (当麻治田麻呂の娘)

  • Minamoto no Kiyohime (源潔姫) (810–856), married to Fujiwara no Yoshifusa (藤原良房)
  • Minamoto no Matahime (源全姫) (812–882), Naishi-no-kami (尚侍)

Court lady: A daughter of Abe no Yanatsu (安部楊津の娘)

  • Minamoto no Yutaka(?) (源寛) (813–876)

Court lady: Kasa no Tsugiko (笠継子), daughter of Kasa no Nakamori (笠仲守)

  • Minamoto no Ikeru (源生) (821–872)

Court lady: A daughter of Tanaka clan (田中氏の娘)

  • Minamoto no Sumu(?) (源澄)

Court lady: A daughter of Awata clan (粟田氏の娘)

  • Minamoto no Yasushi (源安) (822–853)

Court lady: Ōhara no Matako (大原全子), daughter of Ōhara no Mamuro (大原真室)

  • Minamoto no Tōru (源融) (822–895), Sadaijin
  • Minamoto no Tsutomu (源勤) (824–881)
  • Minamoto no Mitsuhime (源盈姫)

Court lady: A daughter of Koreyoshi no Sadamichi (惟良貞道の娘)

  • Minamoto no Masaru (源勝)

Court lady: A daughter of Nagaoka no Okanari (長岡岡成の娘)

  • Minamoto no Sakashi(?) (源賢)

Court lady: A daughter of Ki clan (紀氏の娘)

  • Minamoto no Sarahime (源更姫)

Court lady: Kura no Kageko (内蔵影子)

  • Minamoto no Kamihime (源神姫)
  • Minamoto no Katahime(?) (源容姫)
  • Minamoto no Agahime (源吾姫)

Court lady: Kannabi no Iseko (甘南備伊勢子)

  • Minamoto no Koehime (源声姫)

Court lady: Tachibana no Haruko (橘春子)

Court lady: Ōnakatomi no Mineko (大中臣峯子)

(from unknown women)

  • Minamoto no Tsugu (?) (源継)
  • Minamoto no Yoshihime (源良姫)
  • Minamoto no Toshihime (源年姫)

See also


Japanese Imperial kamon — a stylized chrysanthemum blossom
  1. ^ a b Emperor Saga, Saganoyamanoe Imperial Mausoleum, Imperial Household Agency
  2. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1959). The Imperial House of Japan, pp. 63–64.
  3. ^ Brown and Ishida, pp. 280–282; Varley, H. Paul. (1980). Jinnō Shōtōki, p. 151-163; Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). pp. 97–102.Annales des empereurs du Japon, , p. 97, at Google Books
  4. ^ Varley, p. 151.
  5. ^ a b c d Brown and Ishida, p. 280.
  6. ^ Titsingh, p. 96; Brown and Ishida, p. 280.
  7. ^ Brown and Ishida, p. 281
  8. ^ Julian dates derived from NengoCalc
  9. ^ 大同四年五月一日
  10. ^ Titsingh, p. 96; Brown and Ishida, p. 280; 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.
  11. ^ Titsingh, p. 98; Varley, p. 151.
  12. ^ Boroff, Nicholas. National Geographic Traveler Japan, p. 156.
  13. ^ 承和九年七月十五日
  14. ^ Brown and Ishida, p. 282; Varley, p. 163.
  15. ^ Titsingh, p. 97.
  16. ^ Furugosho: of Saga-tennōkugyō
  17. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, p. 319.
  18. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1959). The Imperial House of Japan, pp. 318–319.


  • Giesen, Walter; Beck, Vera; Eisenschmid, Rainer (2004). Japan. Baedeker.  


  • Imperial Household Agency (2004). 嵯峨天皇 嵯峨山上 [Emperor Saga, Saganoyamanoe Imperial Mausoleum] (in Japanese). Retrieved February 4, 2011. 
  • Brown, Delmer M.; Ishida, Ichirō (1979). The Future and the Past (a translation and study of the  
  • Richard Arthur Brabazon Ponsonby-Fane (1959). The Imperial House of Japan. Ponsonby Memorial Society. 
  • Rin-siyo, Siyun-zai (1834). Annales des empereurs du Japon. Oriental Translation Fund. 
  • Chikafuza, Kitabatake (1980). A Chronicle of Gods and Sovereigns: Jinnō Shōtōki of Kitabatake Chikafusa. Columbia University Press.  

External links

  • Another photo of Emperor Saga's mausoleum
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Emperor Heizei
Emperor of Japan:

Succeeded by
Emperor Junna
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.