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Emperor Seiwa
55th Emperor of Japan
Reign The 27th Day of 8th Month of Ten'an 2 (858) - The 29th Day of 11th Month of Jōgan 18 (876)
Coronation The 7th Day of 11th Month of Ten'an 2 (858)
Born The 25th Day of 3rd Month of Kashō 3 (850)
Birthplace Heian Kyō (Kyōto)
Died The 4th Day of 12th Month of Gangyō 4 (881)
Place of death Heian Kyō (Kyōto)
Buried Mizunooyama no Misasagi (Kyōto)
Predecessor Emperor Montoku
Successor Emperor Yōzei
Father Emperor Montoku
Mother Fujiwara no Akirakeiko
Japanese Imperial kamon — a stylized chrysanthemum blossom

Emperor Seiwa (清和天皇 Seiwa-tennō) (Third month, 25th day, 850 - Twelfth month, 4th day, 880) was the 56th emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. His reign spanned the years from 858 through 876.[1]



Before his ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne, his personal name (his imina)[2] was Korehito Shinnō (惟仁親王).[3] He was also known at Mizunoo-no-mikado.[4]

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)

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.

  • July 10, 858 (Ten'an 2, 27th day of the 8th month): In the 8th year of Montoku-tennō 's reign (文徳天皇8年), the emperor abdicated;[5] and the succession (senso) was received by a his son. Shortly thereafter, Emperor Seiwa is said to have acceded to the throne (sokui).[6]
  • December 15, 858 (Ten'an 2, 7th day of the 11th month): The emperor's official announcement of his enthronement at age 9 was accompanied by the appointment or his grandfather as regent (sesshō). This is the first time that this high honor has been accorded to a member of the Fujiwara family, and it is also the first example in Japan of the accession of an heir who is too young to be emperor. The proclamation of the beginning of Seiwa's reign was made at the Kotaijingu at Ise Province and at all the tombs of the imperial family.[7]
  • Jōgan 1, in the 1st month (貞観元年; 859): All New Year's festivities were suspended because of the period of national mourning for the death of Emperor Montoku.[8]
  • Jōgan 1 (859): Construction begins on the Iwashimizu Shrine near Heian-kyō. This shrine honors Hachiman, the Shinto war god.[9]
  • Jōgan 10 (869): Yōzei was born, and he is named Seiwa's heir in the following year.[10]
  • Jōgan 17, in the 11th month (876): In the 18th year of Seiwa-tennō 's reign (清和天皇18年), the emperor ceded his throne to his five-year-old son, which means that the young child received the succession (senso). Shortly thereafter, Emperor Yōzei formally acceded to the throne (sokui).[11]
  • Gangyō 2 (878): Seiwa becomes a Buddhist priest. His new priestly name was Soshin.[9]
  • Gangyō 2, on the 4th day of the 12th month (878): Former-Emperor Seiwa died at age 31.[12]

From the site of his tomb, he was sometimes referred to as Mizunoo (水尾). The kami of Emperor Seiwa is venerated at Seiwa-tennō-sha in Saga, Yamashiro province.[13]


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.[14]

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.[3]

Consorts and Children

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

  • Imperial Prince Sadaakira (貞明親王) (868-949) (Emperor Yōzei)
  • Imperial Prince Sadayasu (貞保親王) (870-924)
  • Imperial Princess Atsuko (敦子内親王) (?-930), 7th Saiin in Kamo Shrine 877-880

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)

  • Imperial Prince Sadatoki (貞辰親王) (874-929)

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)

  • Imperial Prince Sadakata (貞固親王) (?-930)

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

  • Imperial Prince Sadamoto (貞元親王) (?-909)

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

  • Imperial Prince Sadahira (貞平親王) (?-913)
  • Imperial Princess Shikiko (識子内親王) (874-906), 21st Saiō (Imperial Princess serving at Ise Shrine) 877-880

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

  • Imperial Prince Sadakazu (貞数親王) (875-916)
  • Imperial Princess Kaneko (包子内親王) (?-889)

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

  • Imperial Prince Sadazane (貞真親王) (876-932)
  • Imperial Princess Mōshi (孟子内親王) (?-901)

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

  • Imperial Prince Sadayori (貞頼親王) (876-922)

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

  • Minamoto no Nagami (源長鑒)
  • Minamoto no Nagayori (源長頼)

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

  • Minamoto no Naganori (源長猷) (?-918)
  • Minamoto no Saishi/Noriko (源載子)

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

  • Minamoto no Nagafuchi (源長淵)


  1. ^ Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). Annales des empereurs du japon, p. 115-121; Brown, Delmer et al. (1979). Gukanshō, pp. 286-288; Varley, H. Paul. Jinnō Shōtōki, pp. 166-17.
  2. ^ Brown, pp. 264; n.b., 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. ^ a b Titsingh, p. 115.
  4. ^ a b Varley, p. 166.
  5. ^ Titsingh, p. 115.
  6. ^ Brown, pp. 286; Varley, p. 44; n.b., 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.
  7. ^ Titsingh, p. 115; Brown, p. 286.
  8. ^ Titsingh, p. 116.
  9. ^ a b c d Brown, p. 288.
  10. ^ Titsingh, p. 122.
  11. ^ Titsingh, p. 122; Varley, p. 44.
  12. ^ Brown, p. 289; Varley, p. 170.
  13. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1959). The Imperial House of Japan, p. 128.
  14. ^ Furugosho: Kugyō of Seiwa-tennō (French)
  15. ^ Titsingh, p. 119.
  16. ^ a b Brown, p. 287.


See also

Regnal titles
Preceded by
Emperor Montoku
Emperor of Japan:

Succeeded by
Emperor Yōzei


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