Before Empress Meishō succeeded as Empress Regnant of Japan, she was known as Oki-ko. She was born on 9 January 1624 as the second daughter of Emperor Go-Mizunoo and Tokugawa Masako. She grew up in the Inner Apartments of the Heian Palace. She was one of at least 33 (half) siblings.
Het father abdicated in her favour when she was just six years old and the power was mainly in the hands of her maternal uncle shōgun (military dictator) Iemitsu. She was the first Empress Regnant of Japan in 859 years and it is unknown why she was selected from her many (and male) siblings. Meishō never married and she had no children of her own.
After a reign of just 15 years, Meishō abdicated in favour of her younger half-brother who became Emperor Go-Kōmyō. Despite being barely out of her teens, she would live the rest of her long life in retirement.
She died on 4 December 1696, at the age of 72. She was buried in the Tsuki no wa no misasagi mausoleum in Kyoto.