Empress Kōgyoku

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Empress Kōgyoku (皇極天皇 Kōgyoku-tennō?, 594–661), also known as Empress Saimei (斉明天皇 Saimei-tennō?), was the 35th[1] and 37th emperor of Japan,[2] according to the traditional order of succession.[3]

Kōgyoku's reign spanned the years from 642-645. Her reign as Saimei encompassed 655-661. In other words,

  • 642: She ascended the throne as Kōgyoku-tennō, and she stepped down in response to the assassination of Soga no Iruka.
  • 645: She abdicated in favor of her brother, who would become known as Emperor Kōtoku
  • 654: Kōtoku died; and the throne was vacant.
  • 655: She re-ascended, beginning a new reign as Saimei-tennō.
  • 661: Saimei ruled until her death caused the throne to be vacant again.

The two reigns of this one woman spanned the years from 642 through 661.[4]

In the history of Japan, Kōgyoku/Saimei was the second of eight women to take on the role of empress regnant. The sole female monarch before Kōgyoku/Saimei was (a) Suiko-tennō. The six women sovereigns reigning after Kōgyoku/Saimei were (b) Jitō, (c) Gemmei, (d) Genshō, (e) Kōken/Shōtoku, (f) Meishō, and (g) Go-Sakuramachi.


Traditional narrative

Before her ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne, her personal name (imina)[5] was Takara (?).[6] As emperor, her name would have been Ametoyo Takara Ikashi Hitarashi hime.[7]

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