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Emperor Uda
59th Emperor of Japan
Emperor Uda large.jpg
Reign The 26th Day of 8th Month of Ninna 3 (887) - The 3rd Day of 7th Month of Kanpyō 9 (897)
Coronation The 17th Day of 11th Month of Ninna 3 (887)
Born The 5th Day of 5th Month of Jōgan 9 (867)
Birthplace Heian Kyō (Kyōto)
Died The 19th Day of 7th Month of Jōhei 1 (931)
Place of death Buddhist temple of Ninna-ji (仁和寺 ?)
Buried Ōuchiyama no Misasagi (Kyōto)
Predecessor Emperor Kōkō
Successor Emperor Daigo
Father Emperor Kōkō
Mother Princess Hanshi/Nakako
Japanese Imperial kamon — a stylized chrysanthemum blossom

Emperor Uda (宇多天皇 Uda-tennō ?, May 5 867 – July 19 931) was the 59th emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. His reign spanned the years from 887 through 897.[1]



Before his ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne, his personal name (his imina)[2] was Sadami-shinnō.[3]

Emperor Uda was the third son of Emperor Kōkō. His mother was Empress Dowager Hanshi, a daughter of Prince Nakano (who was himself a son of Emperor Kammu).[4]

Uda had five Imperial consorts and 20 Imperial children.[5]

  • Prince Atsumi is one of Uda's sons.[6]
  • Prince Atsuzane (897-966) is one of Uda's sons.[7]

In ancient Japan, there were four noble clans, the Gempeitōkitsu (源平藤橘). One of these clans, the Minamoto clan (源氏), is also known as Genji. Some of Uda's grandchildren were granted the surname Minamoto. Minamoto is the most used surname for ex-royal. In order to distinguish Uda's descendants from other Minamoto clan families (源氏) or Genji, they became known as the Uda Genji (宇多源氏). Some of the Uda Genji moved to Ōmi province and known as Sasaki clan (佐々木氏)or Ōmi Genji (近江源氏).

Among the Uda Genji, Minamoto no Masanobu, a son of Prince Atsuzane succeeded in the court. Masanobu became sadaijin (Minister of the Left). One of Masanobu's daughters, Minamoto no Rinshi (源倫子) married Fujiwara no Michinaga and from this marriage three empresses dowagers and two regents (sesshō) were born.

From Masanobu, several kuge families originated including the Niwata, Ayanokōji, Itsutsuji, Ōhara and Jikōji. From his forth son Sukeyosi, the Sasaki clan originated, and thus Kyōgoku clan originated. These descendants are known as Ōmi Genji today. From this line, Sasaki Takauji made a success at Muromachi shogunate and Amago clan originated from his brother.

Events of Uda's life

Uda's father, Emperor Kōkō, demoted his sons from the rank of imperial royals to that of subjects in order to reduce the state expenses, as well as their political influence. Then Sadami was given the clan name of Minamoto and named Minamoto no Sadami. Later, in 887, when Kōkō needed to appoint his successor, Sadami was once again promoted to the Imperial Prince rank with support of kampaku Fujiwara no Mototsune, since Sadami was adopted by a half-sister of Mototsune. After the death of his father in November of that year, Sadami-shinnō ascended to the throne.

  • Ninna 3, on the 26th day of the 8th month (887): Emperor Kōkō died; and his third son received the succession (senso). Shortly thereafter, Emperor Uda formally acceded to the throne (sokui).[8]
  • Ninna 3, on the 17th day of the 11th month (887): Mototsune asks Uda for permission to retire from his duties; but the emperor is said to have responded, "My youth limits my ability to govern; and if you stop offering me your good counsel, I will be obliged to abdicate and to retire to a monastery." Therefore, Mototsune continued to serve as the new emperor's kampaku.[9]
A garden at Ninnaji
  • Ninna 4, in the 8th month (888): Construction of the newly created Buddhist temple of Ninna-ji (仁和寺 ?) was completed; and a former disciple of Kōbō-daishi was installed as the new abbot.[9]
  • Kanpyō 1, in the 10th month (899): The former emperor Yōzei was newly attacked by the mental illness. Yōzei would enter the palace and address courtiers he would meet with the greatest rudeness. He became increasingly furious. He garroted women with the strings of musical instruments and then threw the bodies into a lake. While riding on horseback, he directed his mount to run over people. Sometimes he simply disappeared into the mountains where he chased wild boars and red deer.[10]

In the beginning of Uda's reign, Mototsune held the office of kampaku (or chancellor). After Mototsune's death, Fujiwara no Tokihira and Sugawara no Michizane were in Uda's favor.

Emperor Uda stopped the practice of sending ambassadors to China ("ken-toh-shi" 遣唐使). The emperor's decision-making was informed by what he understood as persuasive counsel from Sugawara Michizane.[11]

The Special Festival of the Kamo Shrine was first held during Uda's reign.[12]

In 897 he abdicated in favor of his eldest son, Prince Atsuhito, who would later come to be known as Emperor Daigo.

Three years later, he entered the Buddhist priesthood at age 34 in 900.[12] Having founded the temple at Ninna-ji, Uda made it his new home after his abdication.

Decorative emblems (kiri) of the Hosokawa clan are found at Ryoan-ji. Uda is amongst six other emperors entombed near what had been the residence of Hosokawa Katsumoto before the Ōnin War.

His Buddhist name was Kongō Kaku.[12] He was sometimes called "the Cloistered Emperor of Teiji(亭子の帝)," because that was the name of the Buddhist hall named Teijiin where he resided after becoming a priest.[5]

Uda died in Shōhei 1, on the 19th day of the 7th month 931 at the age of 65.[13].

The former emperor is buried amongst the "Seven Imperial Tombs" at Ryoan-ji Temple in Kyoto. The mound which commemorates the Hosokawa Emperor Uda is today named O-uchiyama. The emperor's burial place would have been quite humble in the period after Uda died. These tombs reached their present state as a result of the 19th century restoration of imperial sepulchers which were ordered by Emperor Meiji.[14]


'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.[15]

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

Eras of Uda's reign

The years of Uda's reign are more specifically identified by more than one era name or nengō.[16]

Consorts and Children

Nyōgo: Fujiwara no Inshi (藤原胤子) (?-896), daughter of Fujiwara no Takafuji

  • Imperial Prince Atsuhito (敦仁親王) (885-930) (Emperor Daigo)
  • Imperial Prince Atsuyoshi (敦慶親王) (887-930)
  • Imperial Prince Atsukata (敦固親王) (?-927)
  • Imperial Prince Atsumi (敦実親王) (893-967)
  • Imperial Princess Jūshi (柔子内親王) (?-959), 25th Saiō in Ise Shrine (897-930)

Nyōgo: Fujiwara no Onshi (藤原温子) (872-907), daughter of Fujiwara no Mototsune

  • Imperial Princess Kinshi (ja:均子内親王) (890-910), married to Imperial Prince Atsuyoshi

Nyōgo: Tachibana no Yoshiko/Gishi (橘義子), daughter of Tachibana no Hiromi

  • Imperial Prince Tokinaka (斉中親王) (885-891)
  • Imperial Prince Tokiyo (斉世親王) (886-927)
  • Imperial Prince Tokikuni (斉邦親王)
  • Imperial Princess Kunshi (ja:君子内親王) (?-902), 10th Saiin in Kamo Shrine (893-902)

Nyōgo: Tachibana no Fusako (橘房子) (?-893)

Nyōgo: Sugawara no Hiroko/Enshi (菅原衍子), daughter of Sugawara no Michizane

Koui: Minamoto no Sadako (源貞子), daughter of Minamoto no Noboru

  • Imperial Princess Ishi (依子内親王) (895-936)

Koui: Princess Norihime (徳姫女王), daughter of Prince Tōyo

  • Imperial Princess Fushi (孚子内親王) (?-958)

Koui: Fujiwara no Yasuko (藤原保子), daughter of Fujiwara no Arizane

  • Imperial Princess Kaishi (誨子内親王) (ca.894-953), married to Imperial Prince Motoyoshi (son of Emperor Yōzei)
  • Imperial Princess Kishi (季子内親王) (?-979)

Koui: Minamoto no Hisako (源久子)

Koui: Fujiwara no Shizuko (藤原静子)

Court lady: A daughter of Fujiwara no Tsugukage, Ise (伊勢) (875/7-ca.939)

  • prince (died young)

Court lady: Fujiwara no Hōshi (藤原褒子), daughter of Fujiwara no Tokihira

  • Imperial Prince Masaakira (雅明親王) (920-929)
  • Imperial Prince Noriakira (載明親王)
  • Imperial Prince Yukiakira (行明親王) (926-948)

(from unknown women)

  • Imperial Prince Yukinaka (行中親王)
  • Imperial Princess Seishi (成子内親王) (?-978)
  • Minamoto no Shinshi (源臣子)


  1. ^ Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). Annales des empereurs du japon, pp. 125-129; Brown, Delmer et al. (1979). Gukanshō, pp. 289-290; Varley, H. Paul. (1980). Jinnō Shōtōki, pp. 175-179.
  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. 125; Brown, p. 289; Varley, 175.
  4. ^ Varley, p. 175.
  5. ^ a b Brown, p. 289.
  6. ^ Kitagawa, Hiroshi et al. (1975). The Tale of the Heike, p. 503.
  7. ^ Kitagawa, p. 601.
  8. ^ Brown, p. 289; 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. ^ a b Titsingh, p. 126.
  10. ^ Titsingh, p. 127.
  11. ^ Kitagawa, H. (1975). The Tale of the Heike, p. 222.
  12. ^ a b c d e Brown, p. 290.
  13. ^ Brown, p. 295; Varley, p. 179.
  14. ^ Moscher, Gouverneur. (1978). Kyoto: A Contemplative Guide, pp. 277-278.
  15. ^ Furugosho: Kugyō of Uda-tennō. (French)
  16. ^ Titsingh, p. 125.


See also

Regnal titles
Preceded by
Emperor Kōkō
Emperor of Japan:

Succeeded by
Emperor Daigo


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