He was the son of Emperor Murakami and Fujiwara no Anshi (the daughter of Udaijin Fujiwara no Morosuke), and was named Crown Prince when he was only two months old, at the house of his grandfather Morosuke. Reizei took the throne at age 18, after the death of his father, Emperor Murakami. His uncle Fujiwara no Saneyori served as kanpaku (regent). This position was meant to be only temporary, until Reizei could rule on his own, but the political situation of this time developed into one in which the sesshô or kanpaku held power permanently.
Reizei is said to have been a beautiful, elegant person, though he had some kind of disease or injury to his leg that made it seem like he was dancing a strange dance or constantly kicking a kemari ball; this often went unnoticed, however.
Reizei abdicated only two years after his reign began, and went on to live another 42 years as Retired Emperor. Kitabatake Chikafusa records him as declining to be called tennô ("Emperor") following his death. He is buried at Sakuramoto no misasagi in the Shishigatani area of eastern Kyoto.
|Emperor of Japan
- "Reizei tennô." Asahi Nihon rekishi jinbutsu jiten 朝日日本歴史人物事. Asahi Shimbun-sha.
- Reischauer, Robert Karl. Early Japanese History (c. 40 BC - AD 1167). Gloucester, Mass.: Peter Smith, 1967. p295.
- Luke Roberts, Performing the Great Peace, University of Hawaii Press (2012), 171.