Emperor Seiwa

Emperor of Japan
Reign 858–876
Coronation 858
Predecessor Montoku
Successor Yōzei
Born 850
Heian Kyō (Kyōto)
Died 31 December 878 (age 28)
Heian Kyō (Kyōto)
Burial Minooyama no misasagi (Kyoto)
Father Montoku
Mother Fujiwara no Akirakeiko

Emperor Seiwa (清和天皇 Seiwa-tennō, 850–878) was the 56th emperor of Japan,[1] according to the traditional order of succession.[2]

Seiwa's reign spanned the years from 858 through 876.[3]

Traditional narrative

Seiwa was the fourth son of Emperor Montoku. His mother was Empress Dowager Fujiwara no Akirakeiko (明子), also called the Somedono empress 染殿后). Seiwa's mother was the daughter of Fujiwara no Yoshifusa (藤原良房), who was regent and great minister of the council of state.[4] He was the younger half-brother of Imperial Prince Koretaka (惟喬親王) (lived 844–897)


Before his ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne, his personal name (his imina)[5] was Korehito (惟仁),[6] the first member of the Imperial house to be personally named "-hito" . One meaning of the character 仁 is the Confucian concept of ren. Later it has been a tradition to name the personal name of all male members of the Imperial family this way.

He was also known as emperor as Mizunoo-no-mikado[4] or Minoo-tei.[7]

Events of Seiwa's life

Originally under the guardianship of his maternal grandfather Fujiwara no Yoshifusa, he displaced Imperial Prince Koretaka (惟喬親王) as Crown Prince. Upon the death of his father in 858, Emperor Montoku, he became Emperor at the age of 8, but the real power was held by his grandfather, Yoshifusa.


The actual site of Seiwa's grave is known.[1] The emperor is traditionally venerated at the misasagi memorial shrine in the Ukyō-ku ward of Kyoto. The Imperial Household Agency designates this location as Seiwa's mausoleum. It is formally named the Minooyama no Misasagi (清和天皇陵) or Seiwa Tennō Ryō.[15][16] From the site of his tomb the Emperor Seiwa is sometimes referred to as the Emperor Mizunoo (水尾帝 Mizunoo-tei).[17] The kami of Emperor Seiwa is venerated at the Seiwatennō-sha in close proximity to the mausoleum.[18][19]


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.[20]

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 Seiwa's reign, this apex of the Daijō-kan included:

Eras of Seiwa's reign

The years of Seiwa's reign are more specifically identified by more than one era name or nengō.[6]

Consorts and Children

Nyōgo(Kōtaigō): Fujiwara no Takaiko (藤原高子) (842–910), daughter of Fujiwara no Nagara (藤原長良)

Nyōgo: Fujiwara no Tamiko (藤原多美子) (?–886), daughter of Fujiwara no Yoshimi (藤原良相)

Nyōgo: Taira no Kanshi (平寛子)

Nyōgo: Princess Kashi (嘉子女王), daughter of Prince Munesada (棟貞王)

Nyōgo: Minamoto no Seishi (源済子), daughter of Emperor Montoku

Nyōgo: Minamoto no Sadako (源貞子) (?–873)

Nyōgo: Minamoto no Kenshi/Atsuko (源喧子)

Nyōgo: Princess Chūshi/Tadako (忠子女王), daughter of Imperial Prince Tokiyasu(Emperor Kōkō later)

Nyōgo: Fujiwara no Yoriko (藤原頼子) (?–936), daughter of Fujiwara no Mototsune (藤原基経)

Nyōgo: Fujiwara no Kazuko (藤原佳珠子), daughter of Fujiwara no Mototsune (藤原基経)

Nyōgo: Minamoto no Takeko/Izuko (源厳子) (?–878), daughter of Minamoto no Yoshiari (源能有)

Nyōgo: Minamoto no Gishi/Yoshiko (源宜子), daughter of Minamoto no Okimoto (源興基)

Nyōgo: Princess Kenshi (兼子女王)

Nyōgo: Princess Ryūshi (隆子女王)

Koui: A daughter of Tachibana no Yasukage (橘休蔭の娘)

Koui: A daughter of Fujiwara no Nakamune (藤原仲統の娘)

Koui: A daughter of Fujiwara no Yoshichika (藤原良近の娘)

Koui: Ariwara no Fumiko (在原文子), daughter of Ariwara no Yukihira (在原行平)

Koui: A daughter of Fujiwara no Morofuji (藤原諸葛の娘)

Koui: A daughter of Fujiwara no Naomune (藤原直宗の娘)

Koui: A daughter of Saeki no Sanefusa (佐伯子房の娘)

Court lady : A daughter of Kamo no Mineo (賀茂岑雄の娘)

Court lady : A daughter of Ōno no Takatori (大野鷹取の娘)


Japanese Imperial kamon — a stylized chrysanthemum blossom
  1. 1 2 Imperial Household Agency (Kunaichō): 清和天皇 (56)
  2. Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1959). The Imperial House of Japan, p. 66.
  3. Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). Annales des empereurs du japon, pp. 115–121., p. 115, at Google Books; Brown, Delmer et al. (1979). Gukanshō, pp. 286–288; Varley, H. Paul. Jinnō Shōtōki, pp. 166–17.
  4. 1 2 Varley, p. 166.
  5. Brown, pp. 264; prior to 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.
  6. 1 2 3 Titsingh, p. 115., p. 115, at Google Books
  7. Ponsonby-Fane, p. 8.
  8. Brown, pp. 286; 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. 115., p. 115, at Google Books; Brown, p. 286.
  10. Titsingh, p. 116., p. 116, at Google Books
  11. 1 2 3 4 Brown, p. 288.
  12. Titsingh, p. 122., p. 122, at Google Books
  13. Titsingh, p. 122., p. 122, at Google Books; Varley, p. 44.
  14. Brown, p. 289; Varley, p. 170.
  15. Ponsonby-Fane, p. 421.
  16. "Seiwa Tennō Ryō (清和天皇陵)". Nihon Rekishi Chimei Taikei (in Japanese). Tokyo: Shogakukan. 2012. Retrieved 2012-05-18.
  17. "Seiwa Tennō". Nihon Daihyakka Zensho (Nipponika) (in Japanese). Tokyo: Shogakukan. 2012. Retrieved 2012-05-18.
  18. Ponsonby-Fane, p. 128.
  19. "Seiwatennō-sha (清和天皇社)". Nihon Rekishi Chimei Taikei (in Japanese). Tokyo: Shogakukan. 2012. Retrieved 2012-05-18.
  20. Furugosho: Kugyō of Seiwa-tennō
  21. 1 2 Titsingh, p. 119., p. 119, at Google Books
  22. Brown, p. 287.
  23. Brown, p. 287; Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric. (2005). "Fujiwara no Mototsune" in Japan Encyclopedia, p. 206, p. 206, at Google Books.


See also

Regnal titles
Preceded by
Emperor Montoku
Emperor of Japan:

Succeeded by
Emperor Yōzei
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