Emperor Horikawa

Emperor of Japan
Reign 1087–1107
Predecessor Shirakawa
Successor Toba
Born August 8, 1079
Died August 9, 1107 (aged 28)
Burial Nochi no Yenkyō-ji no misasagi (Kyoto)
Mother Fujiwara no Kenshi

Emperor Horikawa (堀河天皇 Horikawa-tennō, August 8, 1079 – August 9, 1107) was the 73rd emperor of Japan,[1] according to the traditional order of succession.[2]

Horikawa's reign spanned the years from 1087 through 1107.[3]

Traditional narrative

Before his ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne, his personal name (imina)[4] was Taruhito-shinnō (善仁親王).[5] He was also known as Yoshihito-tennō.[6]

Horikawa was the son of Emperor Shirakawa. His mother was Fujiwara no Kenshi (藤原賢子), adopted daughter of Fujiwara Morozane (藤原師実).

Events of Horikawa's life

He became Crown Prince and became emperor on the same day that his father abdicated. His reign was overshadowed by the cloistered rule of former emperor Emperor Shirakawa.

His father's kampaku, Fujiwara Morozane became sesshō (regent), but Shirakawa held actual power as cloistered Emperor. Horikawa filled his reign with scholarship, poetry, and music.

When his empress-consort (kōgō) died, his son, Imperial Prince Munehito, who had become Crown Prince (and later became Emperor Toba) was taken to be raised by Horikawa's father, the retired Emperor Shirakawa.

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

Horikawa died at age 29 in Kajō 2, on the 19th day of the 7th month 1107. He had reigned 20 years—seven years in the nengō Kanji, two years in Kahō, one year in the nengō Eichō, two years in Jōtoku, five years in the nengō Kōwa, two years in Chōji, and two years in the nengō Kajō.[10]

The actual site of Horikwawa'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 Horikawa's mausoleum. It is formally named Nochi no Yenkyō-ji no misasagi.[11]

Horikawa is buried amongst the "Seven Imperial Tombs" at Ryoan-ji in Kyoto.[12] The mound which commemorates the Emperor Horikawa today named Kinugasa-yama. The emperor's burial place would have been quite humble in the period after Horikawa died. These tombs reached their present state as a result of the 19th century restoration of imperial sepulchers (misasagi) which were ordered by Emperor Meiji.[13]

Emperor Horikawa was succeeded by his son, Munehito, who would take the name Emperor Toba.[10]


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

Eras of Horikawa's reign

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

Empresses and consorts


Japanese Imperial kamon — a stylized chrysanthemum blossom
  1. 1 2 Imperial Household Agency (Kunaichō): 堀河天皇 (73)
  2. Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1959). The Imperial House of Japan, p. 78.
  3. Brown, Delmer et al. (1979). Gukanshō, pp. 317–320; Varley, H. Paul. (1980). Jinnō Shōtōki. p. 202; Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). Annales des empereurs du Japon, pp. 171–178., p. 171, at Google Books
  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. Varley, p. 202.
  6. Titsingh, p. 172; Brown, p. 317.
  7. Titsingh, p. 172; Brown, p. 317; 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.
  8. Titsingh, p. 177.
  9. Brown, p. 319; Titsingh, p. 178.
  10. 1 2 Titsingh, p. 178.
  11. Ponsonby-Fane, p. 421.
  12. The "Seven Imperial Tombs" at Ryoan-ji are the burial places of Uda, Kazan, Ichijō, Go-Suzaku, Go-Reizei, Go-Sanjō, and Horikawa.
  13. Moscher, G. (1978). Kyoto: A Contemplative Guide, pp. 277–278.
  14. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Brown, p. 318.
  15. Titsingh, p. 176.
  16. Titsingh, p. 171-178; Brown, p. 319.


See also

Regnal titles
Preceded by
Emperor Shirakawa
Emperor of Japan:

Succeeded by
Emperor Toba
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