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Juntoku (1197-1242), was the 84th emperor of Japan, according to the official chronology, reigning from 1210 through 1221.

The third son of Emperor Go-Toba, Juntoku was deeply involved in his father's attempts to resist the growing might of the Hojo Shogunate. Indeed, Juntoku first took the throne in 1210 after Go-Toba forced Junktoku's elder brother, Emperor Tsuchimikado, to resign because he felt Juntoku would be more amenable to assisting him in his machinations.

Finally, in 1221, Go-Toba decided the time was ripe for a rebellion, and he had Juntoku step down from the throne in favor of his two-year-old son, Emperor Chukyo, so that Juntoku could have more freedom of action to assist him in his war against the Shogunate.

However, things did not go as Go-Toba and Juntoku had hoped and they were defeated by the Hojo in the brief Jokyu War. Go-Toba was exiled to Oki Island, and Juntoku was exiled to Sado Island, where he lived out his days until his death in 1242.

But even more than his role in the Jokyu War, today Juntoku is perhaps best remembered for a single poem he wrote. Juntoku's poetry tutor was the great poet Fujiwara no Teika, and Teika selected one of Juntoku's poems for inclusion in the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu, a famous collection of 100 different poems by 100 different people. Juntoku's poem is especially famous, because it is the very last one out of the 100 poems, and is a compellingly subtle lament on the waning power of the Imperial Family.


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