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Japanese empresses facts for kids

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Japanese empresses or Empress of Japan means a female imperial ruler (女性天皇 , josei tennō). The term also mean an empress consort (皇后 , kōgō).

The wife of Naruhito is Empress Masako. She became the current Empress of Japan when her husband accepted his role as emperor

Empresses regnant

There were eight female monarchs. In other words, there were six female emperors including two who reigned twice.

  • Empress Jingū r. 206–269 —legendary/mythical; removed from the list of Emperors in the 19th century
  • Empress Suiko (554–628), r. 593–628—first ruling empress
  • Empress Kōgyoku (594–661), r. 642–645—formerly Princess Takara (Empress Consort of Jomei)
  • Empress Saimei (594–661), r. 655–661 (same person as Empress Kōgyoku)
  • Empress Jitō (645–702), r. 690–697
  • Empress Gemmei (661–721), r. 707–715
  • Empress Genshō (680–748), r. 715–724—formerly Princess Hidaka
  • Empress Kōken (718–770), r. 749–758
  • Empress Shōtoku (718–770), r. 764–770 (same person as Empress Kōken)
  • Empress Meishō (1624–1696), r. 1629–1643
  • Empress Go-Sakuramachi (1740–1813), r. 1762–1771—most recent ruling empress

Empresses consort

The wife of an Japanese emperor is called empress in English, but her title in Japanese is a little different.

Kōgō is the title of a non-reigning empress consort. The title, still in use, is generally conferred on an emperor's wife who had given birth to the heir to the throne. The title was first awarded posthumously in 806 to the late mother of Emperor Heizei.

Chūgū was a term which evolved during the Heian period; and it came to be understood as the title of the empress. For a time, chūgū replaced kōgō; and then the titles became interchangeable.

The numbers of kōgō varied, but there was only one Chūgū at a time.

The title kōtaigō was given to the wife of an ex-emperor; and the title tai-kōtaigō came to be used by a dowager empress.

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