Emperor Uda

Emperor of Japan
Reign 887–897
Coronation 887
Predecessor Kōkō
Successor Daigo
Born (867-06-10)June 10, 867
Heian Kyō (Kyōto)
Died September 3, 931(931-09-03) (aged 64)
Buddhist temple of Ninna-ji (仁和寺)
Burial Ōuchiyama no misasagi (Kyoto)
Father Kōkō
Mother Princess Hanshi/Nakako

Emperor Uda (宇多天皇 Uda-tennō, June 10, 867 – September 3, 931) was the 59th emperor of Japan,[1] according to the traditional order of succession.[2]

Uda's reign spanned the years from 887 through 897.[3]

Traditional narrative

Name and legacy

Before his ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne, his personal name (imina)[4] was Sadami (定省)[5] or Chōjiin-tei.[6]

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).[7] Uda had five Imperial consorts and 20 Imperial children.[8] Particularly important sons include:

Historical background

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 former Japanese royalty.). 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 Masazane (源雅信), a son of Prince Atsumi (敦実親王) succeeded in the court. Masazane became sadaijin (Minister of the Left). One of Masazane'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 fourth 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 the Muromachi shogunate and the 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. 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.

A garden at Ninnaji

In the beginning of Uda's reign, Mototsune held the office of kampaku (or chancellor). Emperor Uda's reign is marked by a prolonged struggle to reassert power by the Imperial Family away from the increasing influence of the Fujiwara, beginning with the death of Mototsune in 891. Records show that shortly thereafter, Emperor Uda assigned scholars Sukeyo and Kiyoyuki, supporters of Mototsune, to provincial posts in the remote provinces of Mutsu and Higo respectively.[13] Meanwhile, non-Fujiwara officials mainly from the Minamoto family were promoted to prominent ranks, while his trusted counselor, Sugawara no Michizane rapidly rose in rank within five years to reach the third rank in the court, and supervision of the Crown Prince's household.[13] Meanwhile, Mototsune's son and heir, Fujiwara no Tokihira, rose in rank, but only just enough to prevent an open power struggle.

Meanwhile, Emperor Uda attempted to return Court politics to the original spirit envisioned in the Ritsuryo Codes, while reviving intellectual interest in Confucian doctrine and culture. In the seventh month of 896, Emperor Uda dispatched Sugawara no Michizane to review prisoners in the capitol and provide a general amnesty for the wrongfully accused, in keeping with Chinese practices. Emperor Uda also issued edicts reinforcing peasant land rights from encroachment by powerful families in the capital or monastic institutions, while auditing tax collections made in the provinces.[13]

Emperor Uda stopped the practice of sending ambassadors to China ("ken-toh-shi" 遣唐使). The emperor's decision was informed by what he understood as persuasive counsel from Sugawara Michizane.[14]

The Special Festival of the Kamo Shrine was first held during Uda's reign.[15]

When determining promotions and rewards for palace guards who have been on duty long hours and have good reputations, do not hold rigidly to precedents; just avoid the words of women and the advice of lesser men...When foreign [literally "barbarian"] guests must be received, greet them from behind a curtain; do not face upon them directly. I have already made an error with Li Huan [a Chinese summoned to court in 896]...Do not select as provincial officials those who request appointment. Only allow to serve those who have experience in the various offices and are known to be effective.
 Emperor Uda, [13]

In 897, Uda abdicated in favor of his eldest son, Prince Atsuhito, who would later come to be known as Emperor Daigo. Uda left behind an hortatory will or testament which offered general admonitions or precepts[16] for his son's guidance (see excerpt at right). The document praises Fujiwara no Tokihira as an advisor but cautions against his womanizing; and Sugawara no Michizane is praised as Uda's mentor. Both were assigned by Emperor Uda to look after his son until the latter reach maturity.

Three years later, he entered the Buddhist priesthood at age 34 in 900.[15] 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.[15] He was sometimes called "the Cloistered Emperor of Teiji(亭子の帝)," because the name of the Buddhist hall where he resided after becoming a priest was called Teijiin.[8]

Uda died in 931 (Shōhei 1, 19th day of the 7th month) at the age of 65.[17]

The actual site of Uda'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 Uda's mausoleum. It is formally named Kaguragaoka no Higashi no misasagi.[18]

The former emperor is buried amongst the "Seven Imperial Tombs" at Ryoan-ji Temple in Kyoto.[19] 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.[20]


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.[21]

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.[22]

Consorts and Children

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

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

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

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

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

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

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)

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

(from unknown women)


Japanese Imperial kamon — a stylized chrysanthemum blossom
  1. 1 2 Imperial Household Agency (Kunaichō): 宇多天皇 (59)
  2. Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1959). The Imperial House of Japan, pp. 67–68.
  3. Brown, Delmer et al. (1979). Gukanshō, pp. 289–290; Varley, H. Paul. (1980). Jinnō Shōtōki, pp. 175–179; Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). Annales des empereurs du japon, pp. 125–129., p. 125, 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. Titsingh, p. 125; Brown, p. 289; Varley, 175.
  6. Ponsonby-Fane, p. 8.
  7. Varley, p. 175.
  8. 1 2 Brown, p. 289.
  9. Kitagawa, Hiroshi et al. (1975). The Tale of the Heike, p. 503.
  10. 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.
  11. 1 2 Titsingh, p. 126.
  12. Titsingh, p. 127.
  13. 1 2 3 4 Borgen, Robert (1994). Sugawara no Michizane and the Early Heian Court. University of Hawaii Press. pp. 201–216. ISBN 978-0-8248-1590-5.
  14. Kitagawa, H. (1975). The Tale of the Heike, p. 222.
  15. 1 2 3 4 5 Brown, p. 290.
  16. Compare Precepts of Tokugawa Ieyasu
  17. Brown, p. 295; Varley, p. 179.
  18. Ponsonby-Fane, p. 420.
  19. The "Seven Imperial Tombs" at Ryoan-ji are the burial places of Uda, Kazan, Ichijō, Go-Suzaku, Go-Reizei, Go-Sanjō, and Horikawa.
  20. Moscher, Gouverneur. (1978). Kyoto: A Contemplative Guide, pp. 277–278.
  21. Furugosho: Kugyō of Uda-tennō.
  22. Titsingh, p. 125.


See also

Regnal titles
Preceded by
Emperor Kōkō
Emperor of Japan:

Succeeded by
Emperor Daigo
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 10/25/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.