Emperor Yozei (陽成天皇)
Emperor Yozei (January 2, 869 - October 23, 949), the fifty-seventh Emperor, reigned from November 29, 876 to February 4, 884. His posthumous name was Sadaakira.
He was the first prince of Seiwa, the fifty-sixth Emperor. His mother was Gon-chunagon, FUJIWARA no Nagara's daughter, a high-ranking lady in the court (the wife of an Emperor), FUJIWARA no Takaiko (Nijo no kisaki). Prince Motoyoshi and Prince Motohira, both talented poets, were his children. Prince Motohira was the earliest ancestor of the Yozei-Genji (Minamoto clan) and the Seiwa-Genji (Minamoto clan) (which originated in the Yozei-Genji (Minamoto clan)), which would eventually act as head of the military caste (the warrior class); however, in recent years it has been said that Emperor Yozei was known as a dictator (as mentioned later), so the Seiwa-Genji (Minamoto clan) disliked him and wanted to have Emperor Seiwa as an ancestor.
Brief Personal History
He became the crown prince at the age of two months. He succeeded to the Imperial Throne at the age of nine after Emperor Seiwa abdicated and passed the position to him. During the early stage of the enthronement his father, the Retired Emperor, his mother Takako and the Regent FUJIWARA no Mototsune (the Emperor's uncle) all helped to rule the government. Following the death of his father, Emperor Seiwa, the relationship between Emperor Yozei and Mototsune became worse, and Mototsune once refused to serve the government. There is a recent theory regarding the above situation, which asserts that Mototsune sent his two daughters to become Emperor Seiwa's ladies, followed by sending another daughter, either FUJIWARA no Kamiko or FUJIWARA no Onshito, to Emperor Seiwa when Emperor Yozei had his coming-of-age ceremony; however, the Empress might have refused to have them.
Emperor Yozei was known for his lack of self-discipline. In 883, Emperor Yozei beat MINAMOTO no Susumu, the son of his wet nurse, KI no Matako, to death and was forced to abdicate the throne. It is said that Mototsune forced him to do so.
Although Emperor Yozei is infamous for his bad behavior, it is questioned whether the story could be true, since he was only 17 years old at the time of his abdication; it could have been Mototsune's attempt to cover up his accusation in order to remove Emperor Yozei from his position and set up his favorites (the future emperors Koko and Uda) to succeed the throne. Even after Emperor Yozei abdicated, the emperors Koko, Uda and Daigo were all suspicious about the situation; some people have said that historical books such as "Nihon Sandai Jitsuroku" and "Shin Kokushi" were edited to prove the justice of those emperors in going against Retired Emperor Yozei.
Emperor Yozei was supposed to have some poetic talent, and on various occasions he organized tanka matches (tanka (writing) contests) by himself; there is only one existing song made by the Emperor, which won a prize from Gosen Wakashu (Later Collection of Japanese Poetry) and was later recorded in (A Hundred Poems by a Hundred Poets).
The little stream of the Minano-gawa river coming from Tsukuba falls into another stream, and gradually enters oblivion; when I think of someone I love, my feeling is same as the Minano-gawa River; it seems to get deeper and deeper' (in "A Hundred Poems" it is given as 'en to nari nuru' (instead of nari keru).
He spent 65 years as an Retired Emperor--the longest span in history--a record followed by Emperor Reizei, who spent 42 years as an Retired Emperor.
According to "O-kagami (The Great Mirror)," despite Retired Emperor Yozei's demotion from nobility to subject, when seeing Emperor Uda, who used to be one of the palace staff and was enthroned after the abdication of the Retired Emperor's father, Emperor Koko, it is said that the Retired Emperor asked, 'That person used to serve me at the palace, didn't he?'
It is ironic that the Retired Emperor Yozei lived longer than Emperor Uda's prince and cousin, Prince Atsugimi (Atsuhito) (Emperor Daigo); moreover, he had to experience the imperial succession of Emperor Suzaku, Emperor Murakami and his great uncle on Emperor Koko's side. Above is the only song handed down to the present day, having been made for one of the Retired Emperor's wives, Princess Tsuridono no miya Suishi, who was Emperor Uda's sister.
Eras during his reign