form of government in Japan during the Heian period, in which abdicated emperors lived in monasteries but actively participated in politics while the titular emperor performed ceremonies

Insei (院政), also known as "cloistered rule," is an ancient Japanese term which means a special form of Imperial government.

In the Insei system, the monarch abdicated or retired and a new emperor was named; however, the old emperor held on to significant power and influence in the court and in the nation.[1] The emperors who withdrew from public life did not give up any of their many powers.[2] In practice, the retired emperor only gave up the time-consuming burden of his ceremonial roles and formal duties.

There were emperors who abdicated before and after the Heian period; however, the term Insei is most often used to mean the kind of Imperial system put in place by Emperor Shirakawa in 1086.[3] This system was very important in the years before the rise of the Kamakura shogunate in 1192.[2]

Heian period change

The succession of power in the Insei system was complex.[4]

Insei System of Imperial Rule
 Reign dates  Emperor of Japan   Senior
 Insei Emperor 
 Insei Emperors 
   71  1067—1072   Emperor Go-Sanjō[4]
   72  1072—1073   Emperor Shirakawa[2]  Go-Sanjō 
    1072—1073   Shirakawa[4]
   73  1086—1107  Emperor Horikawa[4]  Shirakawa
   74  1107—1123  Emperor Toba[2]  Shirakawa
   75  1123—1129  Emperor Sutoku[4]  Shirakawa  Toba
    1129—1141  Sutoku[4]  Toba
   76  1141—1155  Emperor Konoe[4]  Toba  Sutoku
   77  1155—1156  Emperor Go-Shirakawa[2]   Toba  Sutoku
    1156—1158  Go-Shirakawa[4]    Sutoku
   78  1158—1165  Emperor Nijō[4]  Go-Shirakawa  
   79  1165—1168  Emperor Rokujō[4]  Go-Shirakawa  
   80  1168—1180  Emperor Takakura[4]  Go-Shirakawa  Rokujō (until 1176)
   81  1180—1185  Emperor Antoku[4]  Go-Shirakawa  Takakura (until 1181) 
   82  1184—1192  Emperor Go-Toba[4]  Go-Shirakawa  
    1192—1198  Go-Toba[4]    

Edo period change

The last retired emperor with an Insei title was Emperor Reigen in the Edo period.[5]

Notes change

  1. Former emperors are called Daijō Tennō or Jōkō. Those former emperors who lived in a Buddhist temple or monastery were called Daijō Hōō (太上法皇).
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric. (2005). "Insei" in Japan Encyclopedia, p. 391.
  3. Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1959). The Imperial House of Japan, pp. 257-258.
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 Sansom, George Bailey. (1958). History of Japan to 1334, p. 200.
  5. Nussbaum, "Hō-ō" at p. 351.