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Emperor Seiwa

Emperor of japan
The basics
AKA Emperor Seiwa, 清和天皇, Seiwa-tennō
Date of birth
Date of death 880
Mother: Fujiwara no Akirakeiko
Spouse: Fujiwara no Takaiko Fujiwara no Tamiko Minamoto no Takeko Minamoto no Gishi
Father: Emperor Montoku
Sister(s): Anshi-naishinnō Gishi-naishinnō Tenshi-naishinnō Akirakeiko-naishinnō Keishi-naishinnō Jutsushi-naishinnō
Brother(s): Koretaka-shinnō Korehiko-shinnō Koreeda-shinnō Minamoto no Yoshiari Minamoto no Yukiari
Children: Emperor Yōzei Atsuko-naishinnō Sadakazu-shinnō Sadamoto-shinnō Sadasumi-shinnō Sadayasu-shinnō
Authority Library of congress id VIAF id
The details

Emperor Seiwa (清和天皇, Seiwa-tennō, May 10, 850 – January 7, 881) was the 56th emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession.

Seiwa's reign spanned the years from 858 through 876.

Traditional narrative

Seiwa was the fourth son of Emperor Montoku. His mother was Empress Dowager Fujiwara no Akirakeiko (明子), also called the Somedono empress 染殿后). Seiwa's mother was the daughter of Fujiwara no Yoshifusa (藤原良房), who was regent and great minister of the council of state. He was the younger half-brother of Imperial Prince Koretaka (惟喬親王; 844–897)


Before his ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne, his personal name (his imina) was Korehito (惟仁), the first member of the Imperial house to be personally named "-hito" . One meaning of the character 仁 is the Confucian concept of ren. Later it has been a tradition to name the personal name of all male members of the Imperial family this way.

He was also known as emperor as Mizunoo-no-mikado or Minoo-tei.

Events of Seiwa's life

Originally under the guardianship of his maternal grandfather Fujiwara no Yoshifusa, he displaced Imperial Prince Koretaka (惟喬親王) as Crown Prince. Upon the death of his father in 858, Emperor Montoku, he became Emperor at the age of 9, but the real power was held by his grandfather, Yoshifusa.

  • 7 October 858 (Ten'an 2, 27th day of the 8th month): In the 8th year of Montoku-tennō 's reign (文徳天皇8年), the emperor abdicated; and the succession (senso) was received by his son. Shortly thereafter, Emperor Seiwa is said to have acceded to the throne (sokui).
  • 15 December 858 (Ten'an 2, 7th day of the 11th month): The emperor's official announcement of his enthronement at age 9 was accompanied by the appointment of his grandfather as regent (sesshō). This is the first time that this high honor has been accorded to a member of the Fujiwara family, and it is also the first example in Japan of the accession of an heir who is too young to be emperor. The proclamation of the beginning of Seiwa's reign was made at the Kotaijingu at Ise Province and at all the tombs of the imperial family.
  • 859 (Jōgan 1, 1st month): All New Year's festivities were suspended because of the period of national mourning for the death of Emperor Montoku.
  • 859 (Jōgan 1): Construction began on the Iwashimizu Shrine near Heian-kyō. This shrine honors Hachiman, the Shinto war god.
  • 869 (Jōgan 10): Yōzei was born, and he was named Seiwa's heir in the following year.
  • 876 (Jōgan 17, 11th month): In the 18th year of Seiwa-tennō 's reign (清和天皇18年), the emperor ceded his throne to his five-year-old son, which meant that the young child received the succession (senso). Shortly thereafter, Emperor Yōzei formally acceded to the throne (sokui).
  • 878 (Gangyō 2): Seiwa became a Buddhist priest. His new priestly name was Soshin.
  • 7 January 881 (Gangyō 4, 4th day of the 12th month): Former-Emperor Seiwa died at age 28.


The actual site of Seiwa's grave is known. The emperor is traditionally venerated at the misasagi memorial shrine in the Ukyō-ku ward of Kyoto. The Imperial Household Agency designates this location as Seiwa's mausoleum. It is formally named the Minooyama no Misasagi (清和天皇陵) or Seiwa Tennō Ryō. From the site of his tomb the Emperor Seiwa is sometimes referred to as the Emperor Mizunoo (水尾帝, Mizunoo-tei). The kami of Emperor Seiwa is venerated at the Seiwatennō-sha in close proximity to the mausoleum.


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

  • Sesshō, Fujiwara no Yoshifusa, 804–872.
  • Daijō-daijin, Fujiwara no Yoshifusa.
  • Sadaijin, Minamoto no Makoto (源信).
  • Sadaijin, Minamoto no Tooru (源融).
  • Udaijin, Fujiwara no Yoshimi (藤原良相), 817–867.
  • Udaijin, Fujiwara no Ujimune (藤原氏宗).
  • Udaijin, Fujiwara no Mototsune, 836–891.
  • Naidaijin
  • Dainagon, Fujiwara no Mototsune.

Eras of Seiwa's reign

The years of Seiwa's reign are more specifically identified by more than one era name or nengō.

  • Ten'an (857–859)
  • Jōgan (859–877)

Consorts and children

Consort (Nyōgo) later Kōtaigō: Fujiwara no Takaiko (藤原高子; 842–910) later Nijo-kisaki (二条后), Fujiwara no Nagara's daughter

  • First Son: Imperial Prince Sadaakira (貞明親王; 868–949) later Emperor Yōzei
  • Fourth Son: Imperial Prince Sadayasu (貞保親王; 870–924)
  • Third/Fifth daughter: Imperial Princess Atsuko (敦子内親王; d. 930), 7th Saiin in Kamo Shrine 877–880

Consort (Nyōgo): Fujiwara no Tamiko (藤原多美子; d. 886), Fujiwara no Yoshimi’s daughter

Consort (Nyōgo): Taira no Kanshi (平寛子)

Consort (Nyōgo): Princess Kashi (嘉子女王)

Consort (Nyōgo): Minamoto no Sadako (源貞子; d. 873)

Consort (Nyōgo): Princess Ryūshi (隆子女王)

Consort (Nyōgo): Princess Kenshi (兼子女王)

Consort (Nyōgo): Princess Chūshi/Tadako (忠子女王; 854–904), Emperor Kōkō's daughter

Consort (Nyōgo): Fujiwara no Yoriko (藤原頼子; d. 936), Fujiwara no Mototsune's daughter

Consort (Nyōgo): Fujiwara no Kazuko (藤原佳珠子; b. 856), Fujiwara no Mototsune's daughter

  • Seventh Son: Imperial Prince Sadatoki (貞辰親王; 874–929)

Consort (Nyōgo): Minamoto no Takeko/Izuko (源厳子; d. 879), Minamoto no Yoshiari's daughter

Consort (Nyōgo): Minamoto no Seishi (源済子), Emperor Montoku's daughter

Consort (Nyōgo): Minamoto no Kenshi/Atsuko (源喧子)

Consort (Nyōgo): Minamoto no Gishi/Yoshiko (源宜子), Minamoto no Okimoto's daughter

Court Attendant (Koui): Ariwara no Fumiko (在原文子), Ariwara no Yukihira's daughter

  • Eighth Son: Imperial Prince Sadakazu (貞数親王; 875–916)
  • Imperial Princess Kaneko (包子内親王; d. 889)

Court Attendant (Koui): Fujiwara no Yoshichika's daughter

  • Imperial Prince Sadahira (貞平親王; d. 914)
  • Imperial Princess Shikiko (識子内親王; 874–906), 21st Saiō (Imperial Princess serving at Ise Grand Shrine) 877–880

Court Attendant (Koui): Tachibana no Yasukage's daughter (d. 924)

  • Imperial Prince Sadakata (貞固親王; 868–930)

Court Attendant (Koui): Fujiwara no Nakamune's daughter

  • third Son: Imperial Prince Sadamoto (貞元親王; 870-910)

Court Attendant (Koui): Prince Munesada's daughter

  • Sixth Son: Imperial Prince Sadasumi (貞純親王; 873–916) – father of Minamoto no Tsunemoto, founder of the Seiwa Genji, from whom the Kamakura shogunate, Ashikaga shogunate and the Tokugawa shogunate descent from.

Court Attendant (Koui): Fujiwara no Sadamune's daughter

  • Imperial Prince Sadayori (貞頼親王; 876–922)

Court Attendant (Koui): Fujiwara no Morofuji's daughter

  • Imperial Prince Sadazane (貞真親王; 876–932)

Court Attendant (Koui): Fujiwara no Morokazu's daughter

  • Imperial Princess Mōshi (孟子内親王; d. 901)

Court Attendant (Koui): Saeki no Sanefusa's daughter

  • Minamoto no Nagami (源長鑒)
  • Minamoto no Nagayori (源長頼; b. 875)

Court Attendant (Koui): Ben-no-miyasundokoro (弁の御息所), Ōe no Otondo's daughter

Court lady: A daughter of Kamo no Mineo (賀茂岑雄の娘)

  • Minamoto no Naganori (源長猷; d. 918)
  • Minamoto no Saishi/Noriko (源載子)

Court lady: A daughter of Ōno no Takatori (大野鷹取の娘)

  • Minamoto no Nagafuchi (源長淵)


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