Emperor Kōkō

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Tennō Kōkō.jpg
Emperor of Japan
Reign 884–887
Coronation 884
Predecessor Yōzei
Successor Uda
Born 830
Heian Kyō (Kyōto)
Died 887 (aged 56–57)
Heian Kyō (Kyōto)
Burial Nochi no Tamura n misasagi (Kyoto)
Spouse Princess Hanshi
(among others)
Among others...
Emperor Uda
House Yamato
Father Emperor Nimmyō
Mother Fujiwara no Takushi

Emperor Kōkō (光孝天皇, Kōkō-tennō, 830 – August 26, 887) was the 58th emperor of Japan,[1] according to the traditional order of succession.[2]

Kōkō reigned from 884 to 887.[3]

Traditional narrative[edit]

Before his ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne, his personal name (imina)[4] was Tokiyatsu (時康親王)[5] or Komatsu-tei.[6] He would later be identified sometimes as "the Emperor of Komatsu."[7] This resulted in the later Emperor Go-Komatsu adopting this name (go- meaning "later", so "Later Emperor Komatsu" or "Emperor Komatsu II").

Tokiyatsu Shinnō was the third son of Emperor Nimmyō. His mother was Fujiwara no Sawako.[8]

Kōkō had four Imperial consorts and 41 Imperial sons and daughters.[7]

Events of Kōkō's life[edit]

The first kampaku Fujiwara no Mototsune was influential in the process by Kōkō became emperor. At the time Emperor Yōzei was deposed, Prince Tokiaytsu was already Governor of Hitachi and Chief Minister of Ceremonies (Jibu-kyō, 治部卿)[9]

According to Kitabatake Chikafusa's 14th-century account, Mototsune resolved the problem of succession by simply going to visit Tokiyatsu-shinnō, where the kampaku addressed the prince as a sovereign and assigned imperial guards. The prince signaled his acceptance by going into the imperial palaquin, which then conducted him to the emperor's residence within the palace. Curiously, he was still wearing the robes of a prince when he decided to take this ride into an entirely unanticipated future.[10]

  • February 4, 884 (Gangyō 8, 4th day of the 1st month): In the 8th year of Emperor Yōzei's reign (陽成天皇八年), the emperor was deposed; and scholars then construed that the succession (‘‘senso’’) was received by the third son of former Emperor Ninmyō, who was then age 55.[11]
  • March 23, 884 (Gangyō 8, 23rd day of the 2nd month'): Emperor Kōkō is said to have acceded to the throne (‘‘sokui’’).[12]
  • 885 (Gangyō 9): The era name was changed accordingly in 885.[10]

During his reign, Kōkō revived many ancient court rituals and ceremonies, and one example is the imperial hawking excursion to Serikawa, which had been initiated in 796 by Emperor Kanmu. This ritual event was revived by Kōkō after a lapse of 50 years.[10]

  • January 11, 886 (Ninna 2, 14th day of the 12th month): Kōkō traveled to Seri-gawa to hunt with falcons. He very much enjoyed this kind of hunting, and he often took time for this kind of activity.[13]
  • September 17, 887 (Ninna 3, 26th day of the 8th month ) 仁和三年八月二十六日 -->: Kōkō died at the age of 57.[14]

The actual site of Kōkō'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 Kōkō's mausoleum. It is formally named Kaguragaoka no Higashi no misasagi.[15]


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.[16]

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

Eras of Kōkō's reign[edit]

The years of Kōkō's reign are more specifically identified by more than one era name or nengō.[17]

Consorts and children[edit]

Kōtaigō: Princess Hanshi (班子女王) (833–900), daughter of Imperial Prince Nakano (son of Emperor Kanmu)

  • Imperial Prince Koretada (是忠親王) (857–922)
  • Imperial Prince Koresada (是貞親王) (?–903)
  • Minamoto no Motonaga (源元長) (?–883), dead before Emperor Kōkō's succession
  • Imperial Prince Sadami (定省親王) (867–931) (Emperor Uda)
  • Imperial Princess Tadako (忠子内親王) (854–904), married to Emperor Seiwa
  • Imperial Princess Kanshi (簡子内親王) (?–914), married to Emperor Yōzei
  • Imperial Princess Yasuko (綏子内親王) (?–925), married to Emperor Yōzei
  • Imperial Princess Ishi (為子内親王) (?–899), married to Emperor Daigo

Nyōgo: Fujiwara no Kamiko (藤原佳美子) (?–898), daughter of Fujiwara no Mototsune (藤原基経)

Nyōgo: Taira no Motoko/Tōshi (平等子), daughter of Taira no Yoshikaze (平好風)

Nyōgo: Fujiwara no Motoyoshi (藤原元善), daughter of Fujiwara no Yamakage (藤原山蔭)

Koui: Shigeno no Naoiko (滋野直子)

  • Imperial Princess Shigeko (繁子内親王) (?–916), 23rd Saiō in Ise Shrine 884–887

Koui: A daughter of Sanuki no Naganao (讃岐永直の娘)

  • Minamoto no Motomi (源旧鑒) (?–908)

Koui: A daughter of Fujiwara no Kadomune (藤原門宗の娘)

  • Minamoto no Koreshige (源是茂) (886–941)

Court lady: Princess Keishin (桂心女王), daughter of Prince Masami (正躬王)

  • Imperial Princess Bokushi (穆子内親王) (?–903), 8th Saiin in Kamo Shrine 882–887

Court lady: Sugawara no Ruishi (菅原類子), daughter of Sugawara no Koreyoshi (菅原是善)

  • Minamoto no Junshi (源順子) (875–925), married to Fujiwara no Tadahira (藤原忠平)

Court lady: A daughter of Tajihi clan (多治氏の娘)

  • Minamoto no Kanshi/Ayako (源緩子/綾子) (?–908)

Court lady: A daughter of Fuse clan (布勢氏の娘)

  • Shigemizu no Kiyozane (滋水清実), given the family name 'Shigemizu' by the Emperor (Shisei Kōka, 賜姓降下) in 886

(from unknown women)

  • Minamoto no Washi (源和子) (?–947), married to Emperor Daigo
  • Minamoto no Reishi (源麗子) (?–?)
  • Minamoto no Onshi/Kusuko (源音子/奇子) (?–919)
  • Minamoto no Takaiko (源崇子) (?–?)
  • Minamoto no Renshi/Tsurako (源連子) (?–905)
  • Minamoto no Reishi (源礼子) (?–909)
  • Minamoto no Saishi (源最子) (?–886)
  • Minamoto no Kaishi (源偕子) (?–?)
  • Minamoto no Mokushi (源黙子) (?–902)
  • Minamoto no Heishi (源並子) (?–906)
  • Minamoto no Kenshi (源謙子) (?–924)
  • Minamoto no Shinshi (源深子) (?–917)
  • Minamoto no Shūshi (源周子) (?–912)
  • Minamoto no Mitsuko (源密子) (?–?)
  • Minamoto no Kaishi (源快子) (?–910)
  • Minamoto no Zenshi (源善子) (?–?)


Emperor Kōkō is well-remembered for his poetry, and one of his waka appeared in the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (no. 15):

君がため kimi ga tame
春の野にいでて haru no no ni idete
若菜つむ wakana tsumu
わが衣手に waga koromode ni
雪はふりつつ yuki wa furitsutsu

See also[edit]


Japanese Imperial kamon — a stylized chrysanthemum blossom
  1. ^ a b Imperial Household Agency (Kunaichō): 光孝天皇 (58)
  2. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1959). The Imperial House of Japan, p. 67.
  3. ^ Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). Annales des empereurs du japon, p. 124-125; Brown, Delmer et al. (1979). Gukanshō, pp. 289; Varley, H. Paul, ed. (1980). Jinō Shōtōki, pp. 171–175.
  4. ^ Brown, pp. 264; prior to 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. 124; Varley, p. 171.
  6. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, p. 8.
  7. ^ a b c d Brown, p. 289.
  8. ^ Brown, p. 289; Varley, p. 171.
  9. ^ Varley, p. 172; Titsingh, p. 429.
  10. ^ a b c Varley, p. 172.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ Titsingh, p. 124; Varley, p. 44.
  13. ^ Titsingh, p. 125.
  14. ^ Brown, p. 289; Varley, p.173.
  15. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, p. 420.
  16. ^ Furugosho:Kugyō of Kōkō-tennō
  17. ^ Titsingh, p. 124.


External links[edit]

Media related to Emperor Kōkō at Wikimedia Commons

Regnal titles
Preceded by
Emperor Yōzei
Emperor of Japan:

Succeeded by
Emperor Uda