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亀山

Emperor Kameyama (12491305), whose reign name literally means "Emperor Turtle Mountain," was the 90th emperor of Japan, according to the traditional chronology, reigning from 1259 to 1274.

Born Prince Tsunehito, Kameyama was the seventh and favorite son of Emperor Go-Saga. Intelligent and precocious, Kameyama ascended to the throne at age 10 when his father forced his older brother Go-Fukakusa to resign. Kameyama had a number of consorts and fathered the first of his 36 children at age 14.

In 1274, hoping to secure the throne for his own sons rather than for his brothers, Kameyama abdicated the throne to his seven-year-old son Go-Uda and took up the office of retired emperor.

Later that same year, the Mongols invaded Japan at the orders of Mongol Great Khan and Chinese emperor Kublai Khan, but were turned back due to bad weather after a few brief skirmishes with JApanese samurai on the beaches of northern Kyushu.

Seven years later, the Mongols launched an even more massive invasion, consisting of 4,400 ships and 142,000 men, one of the largest invasion forces ever assembled. At the behest of the terrified Hojo Shogunate, retired emperor Kameyama traveled to Ise Shrine to personally intercede with his ancestor, the sun goddess Amaterasu, to save Japan from seemingly certain destruction. Sure enough, the Mongol invasion fleet was destroyed by an out-of-season typhoon believed to be sent by the gods and therefore nicknamed the kamikaze ("divine wind"), which later became the nickname of World War II suicide pilots who similarly attempted to defend Japan from invasion.

Meanwhile, back at court, a schism grew between Kameyama and his brother Go-Fukakusa over whose sons should inherit the throne. In 1287, Go-Fukakusa successfully persuaded the Shogunate to force Go-Uda to abdicate in favor of Go-Fukakusa's son Fushimi, with an understanding that Fushimi should make one of Kameyama's sons his heir. At this time, Kameyama's cloistered rule as retired emperor was suspended, and Go-Fukakusa assumed control over the powers of that office. Kameyama ostensibly retired from politics, took up the tonsure as a Buddhist monk, and established the Zen Buddhist temple Nanzenji where he lived out the remainder his life, supposedly in contemplative seclusion although in reality he continued to meddle in Court politics through trusted intermediaries.


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