display | more...


Emperor Go-Fukakusa (12431304), whose reign name literally means "Emperor Deep Grasses the Second," was the 89th emperor of Japan, according to the traditional chronology, reigning from 1246 to 1260.

Born Prince Hisahito, Go-Fukakusa was the second son of Emperor Go-Saga. Go-Fukakusa ascended to the throne at age 2 when his father abdicated in order to exercise true power via the office of retired emperor. However, later on Go-Saga decided that he wanted the throne passed to his favorite son, Go-Fukakusa's younger brother Kameyama, and therefore forced Go-Fukakusa to abdicate after a reign of 12 years. Then, when Go-Saga died in 1272, he left instructions in his will that future emperors should come only from Kameyama's line.

This caused huge problems due to a lack of clear rules for Imperial succession. Traditionally, this decision was the prerogative of the oldest living male in the main Imperial line, but once Go-Saga died, the oldest male was Go-Fukakusa, who promptly called on this traditional prerogative to demand that one of his own sons be named Kameyama's heir, in defiance of Go-Saga's will. However, Kameyama was able to point to Go-Saga's will as reason for insisting that his sons become the next emperors.

This resulted in a schism between the two brothers, and produced two rival Imperial lines that would compete and ultimately fight wars with each other for many decades thereafter - the "senior," or Jimyōin line (持明院統, Jimyōin-tō), named after the Jimyōin Buddhist temple to which Go-Fukakusa retired to become a monk, and the "junior," or Daikakuji line (大覚寺統, Daikakuji-to), named after the Dakakuji temple to which Kameyama retired after his time on the throne.

In addition to helping start a massive schism in the Imperial Family, Go-Fukakusa is also remembered as the retired emperor to whom Lady Nijō was a consort from 1271 to 1283. After leaving Go-Fukakusa's service Lady Nijō became a Buddhist nun, and after years of traveling, she wrote a well-known memoir in the early 1300s entitled Towazugatari (literally "An Unasked-For Tale", but usually translated into English as The Confessions of Lady Nijo).

<< Go-Saga - Emperors of Japan - Kameyama >>

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.