Emperor Sutoku

Emperor of Japan

Emperor Sutoku
Reign 1123–1142
Predecessor Toba
Successor Konoe
Born July 7, 1119
Died September 14, 1164 (aged 45)
Burial Shiramine no misasagi (Kagawa)

Emperor Sutoku (崇徳天皇 Sutoku-tennō, July 7, 1119 – September 14, 1164) was the 75th emperor of Japan,[1] according to the traditional order of succession.[2]

Sutoku's reign spanned the years from 1123 through 1142.[3]


Before his ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne, his personal name (his imina)[4] was Akihito (顕仁).[5]

Note: Although the Roman alphabet-spelling of the name of this twelfth-century emperor is the same as that of the personal name of the current sovereign of Japan, the kanji are dissimilar.
Emperor Sutoku, formerly Prince Akihito (顕仁)
His Imperial Majesty, formerly Prince Akihito (明仁)

Sutoku was the eldest son of Emperor Toba. Some old texts say he was actually the son of Toba's grandfather, Emperor Shirakawa.

Events of Sutoku's life

In 1151, Sutoko ordered Waka imperial anthology Shika Wakashū.

In 1156, after failing to put down the Hōgen Rebellion, he was exiled to Sanuki Province (modern-day Kagawa prefecture on the island of Shikoku). Emperor Sutoku's reign lasted for 19 years: 2 years in the nengō Tenji, 5 years in Daiji, 1 year in 'Tenshō, 3 years in Chōshō, 6 years in Hōen, and 1 year in Eiji.[10]

Memorial Shinto shrine and mausoleum honoring Emperor Sutoku.

The site of Sutoku's grave is settled.[1] This emperor is traditionally venerated at a memorial Shinto shrine (misasagi) at Kagawa. He was also enshrined (or sealed away...) in Shiramine shrine (Shiramine-jingū), Kyoto and Kotohira-gū in Kagawa Prefecture. The former is also associated with the god of football, worshipped by Kuge clan Asukai in times of yore, while the latter enshrined Ō-mono-nushi-no-mikoto, a god known to have restaured harmony in Yamato (or blackmailed Emperor Sujin...) in exchange for worship and nepotism.

The Imperial Household Agency designates this location as Sutoku's mausoleum. It is formally named Shiramine no misasagi.[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.

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

Eras of Sutoku's reign

The years of Sutoku's reign are more specifically identified by more than one era name or nengō.[14]


Sutoku becoming demon, by Utagawa Yoshitsuya[15]

After Sutoku's abdication and exile, he devoted himself to monastic life. He copied numerous scriptures and offered them to the court. Fearing that the scriptures were cursed, the court refused to accept them.[16] Snubbed, Sutoku was said to have resented the court and, upon his death, became an onryō. Everything from the subsequent fall in fortune of the Imperial court, the rise of the samurai powers, draughts and internal unrests were blamed on his haunting.

Alternatively, he was said to have transformed into an Ootengu (greater tengu), who, along with the nine-tailed kitsune Tamamo-no-Mae and the oni Shuten-dōji, are often called the “three great evil yokai.” of Japan.

See also


Japanese Imperial kamon — a stylized chrysanthemum blossom
  1. 1 2 Imperial Household Agency (Kunaichō): 崇徳天皇 (75)
  2. Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1959). The Imperial House of Japan, pp. 80.
  3. Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). Annales des empereurs du japon, pp. 181-185; Brown, Delmer et al. (1979). Gukanshō, pp. 322–324; Varley, H. Paul. (1980). Jinnō Shōtōki. pp. 204–205.
  4. 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.]
  5. Titsingh, p. 181; Brown, p. 322; Varley, p. 204.
  6. Brown, p. 322; 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 Go-Murakami.]
  7. Titsingh, p. 182; Varley, p. 44.
  8. Titsingh, p. 182; Varley, p. 204.
  9. 1 2 Titsingh, p. 182.
  10. 1 2 3 4 Titsigh, p. 185.
  11. Varley, p. 200. [The six gogan-ji) "superiority" temples were: 1. Hosshō-ji (Superiority of Buddhist Law); 2. Sonshō-ji (Superiority of Worship); 3. Saishō-ji (Most Superior); 4. Enshō-ji (Superiority of Perfection); 5. Jōshō-ji (Superiority of Becoming); 6. Enshō-ji (Superiority of Duration).]
  12. 1 2 3 4 Brown, p. 323.
  13. Ponsonby-Fane, p. 419.
  14. Titsingh, pp. 181-185; Brown, p. 323.
  15. http://ukiyo-e.org/image/artofjapan/06134235
  16. Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1963). Vicissitudes of Shinto, p. 99.


Regnal titles
Preceded by
Emperor Toba
Emperor of Japan:

Succeeded by
Emperor Konoe
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