Japan 4 - The Imperial Court Picture

"It is our hope that all the world's oceans be joined in peace. So why do the wind and the waves rise up in rage and anger?" - Emperor Meiji's Waka poetry, 1900s

The Emperor - We've seen the Emperor rise and fall in earlier posters. But who is this mysterious man? Well, he is the direct descendant of Amaterasu, the sun Goddess and key figure in Shinto mythology. He should have divine right to rule Japan, after all he is a God.

Fun fact; the Japanese Imperial line has never been dynastically broken, the current Emperor is a direct descendent of the first Emperor.

Role of the Emperor - But in reality the Emperor was entirely useless. Ever since the Genpei War of the 1180s (and the brief period in the 1300s) the Emperor has had no political power. No government ever consulted him. No one asked for his advice. He wasn't even part of the Bakufu. The Emperor was little more than a religious figurehead of Shinto, much like a Pope or Caliph, except with a lot less power and prestige. He was so obscure at this point that Westerners often mistook him for the Shogun, and vice versa.

The Imperial Court - The Emperor's family, distant family and really distant family (distant enough that any inter-marriages weren't technically incestual) made up the Imperial Court. They were essentially a bunch of useless hedonists who sat around indulging in pleasures, isolated from the rest of Japan. The Bakufu gave them an annual budget to keep them happy (which worked for, let's say, a good 700 years). In return the Imperial nobles performed Shinto ceremonies (150+ annually) and organised the unique Japanese calendar.

But no. They were not useful.
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