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Emperor_Antoku

Emperor Antoku

Emperor Antoku (安徳天皇 Antoku-tennō) (December 22, 1178April 24, 1185) was the 81st emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. His reign spanned the years from 1180 through 1185.

Genealogy

Before his ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne, his personal name (his imina) was Tokohito-shinnō (言仁親王). He was also known as Kotohito-shinnō.

His father was Emperor Takakura. His mother, Taira no Tokuko (平徳子), second daughter of Taira no Kiyomori (平清盛), was later referred to as Empress Dowager Kenrei (建礼門院, Kenrei-mon In).

Events of Antoku's life

Antoku was named crown prince at around one month of age. He ascended the throne at one year of age. Naturally, he held no actual power, but rather his grandfather Taira no Kiyomori ruled in his name, though not officially, as sesshō (regent).

  • Jishō 4, on the 21st day of the 4th month (1180): In the 12th year of Takakura-tennō's reign (高倉天皇12年), the emperor was forced to abdicate; and the succession (‘‘senso’’) was received by his infant son, the grandson of Taira Kiyomori. Shortly thereafter, Emperor Antoku is said to have acceded to the throne (‘‘sokui’’).

In the year of his enthronement, the capital was moved to modern-day Kōbe, Hyōgo, but it was soon moved back to Heian-kyō.

  • Juei 2, on the 20th day of the 8th month (1183): Go-Toba is proclaimed emperor by the Genji; and consequently, there were two proclaimed emperors, one living in Heian-kyō and another in flight towards the south.

In 1183, when Minamoto no Yoshinaka entered the capital, the Taira clan fled with the young emperor and the sacred treasures to Yashima (the name of a place inside modern-day Takamatsu, Kagawa). Being defeated in the Battle of Yashima, they fled westward.

The Taira were defeated. Antoku's grandmother, Taira no Tokiko, the widow of Taira no Kiyomori, drowned herself along with the young emperor. His mother also drowned herself, but apparently, according to the The Tale of the Heike (Heike Monogatari), she was pulled out with a rake by her long hair. According to legend, the sacred jewels and the sacred sword (two of the three sacred treasures) sunk to the bottom of the sea, and although the sacred jewels were recovered, the sword was lost.

The story of Emperor Antoku and his mother's family became the subject of the Kamakura period epic poem The Tale of the Heike (Heike is an alternate reading of the Japanese characters for "House of the Taira").

Kugyō

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

Memorial site

After his drowning, in order to mourn the Bodhi, the Amidaji Goeidō was built. Later, Antoku was enshrined at the Kurume-Suitengū in Kurume, Fukuoka, and he came to be worshipped as Mizu-no-kami (水の神, lit. "water-god" or "god of water"), the god of easy delivery at Suitengū (水天宮, lit. "water-heaven/emperor-shrine") everywhere.

With the establishment of Shintō as the state religion of Japan, the Amida was abandoned and the Akama Shrine was established in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi to celebrate Antoku.

Eras of Antoku's reign

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

References

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