Cloistered Emperor

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Daijō Hōō or Daijō Hō (both accepted readings of 太上法皇), term sometimes translated in English as cloistered Emperor, was a Japanese emperor who abdicated and entered the Buddhist monastic community by receiving the Pravrajya rite. The term can also be shortened in Hōō (法皇, literally "emperor who practices Dharma").

Cloistered emperors sometimes acted as Daijō Tennō (retired emperors), therefore maintaining effective power. This title was first assumed by Emperor Shōmu and was later used by many other emperors who "took the tonsure", signifying a decision to become a Buddhist monk.[1]

Heian period[edit]

Emperors who adopted cloistered rule were:

Emperor Go-Hanazono abdicated in 1464 (the 5th year of Kanshō), but not long afterwards, the Ōnin War (Ōnin-no-ran) broke out, and there were no further abdications until 1586 (the 5th year of Tensho), when Emperor Ōgimachi abdicated in favor of his grandson Emperor Go-Yōzei. This was due to the disturbed state of the country; and the fact that there was neither a house for an ex-emperor nor money to support him or the cloistered rule.[2]

Edo period[edit]

The last cloistered emperor was Emperor Reigen, in the Edo period.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1963). Vicissitudes of Shinto, p. 27.
  2. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, Kyoto, pp. 340-341.