Emperor Jimmu

Last updated

Jimmu
Tenno Jimmu detail 01.jpg
Emperor of Japan
ReignFebruary 11, 660 BC – April 9, 585 BC (traditional) [1] [2]
Successor Suizei
BornFebruary 13, 711 BC (traditionally)
Japan
DiedApril 9, 585 BC (claimed age 126)
Japan
Burial
Unebi-yama no ushitora no sumi no misasagi(畝傍山東北陵) (Kashihara, Nara) (legendary)
Spouse
Issue
Father Ugayafukiaezu
Mother Tamayori-hime
Religion Shinto
Emperor Jimmu
Japanese name
Kanji 神武天皇

Emperor Jimmu(神武天皇,Jinmu-tennō) was the first Emperor of Japan, according to legend. His accession is traditionally dated as 660 BC. [3] [4] According to Japanese mythology, he is a descendant of the sun goddess Amaterasu, through her grandson Ninigi, as well as a descendant of the storm god Susanoo. He launched a military expedition from Hyuga near the Seto Inland Sea, captured Yamato, and established this as his center of power. In modern Japan, Jimmu's accession is marked as National Foundation Day on February 11.

Emperor of Japan Head of state of Japan

The Emperor of Japan is the head of the Imperial Family and the head of state of Japan. Under the 1947 constitution, he is defined as "the symbol of the State and of the unity of the people." Historically, he is also the highest authority of the Shinto religion. In Japanese, the emperor is called Tennō (天皇), literally "heavenly sovereign". In English, the use of the term Mikado for the emperor was once common, but is now considered obsolete.

Japanese mythology mythology

Japanese mythology embraces Shinto and Buddhist traditions as well as agriculturally-based folk religion. The Shinto pantheon comprises innumerable kami. This article will discuss only the typical elements present in Asian mythology, such as cosmogony, important deities, and the best-known Japanese stories.

Amaterasu goddess of the sun in the Shinto faith

Amaterasu (天照), Amaterasu-ōmikami (天照大神/天照大御神/天照皇大神), or Ōhirume-no-muchi-no-kami (大日孁貴神) is a deity of the Japanese myth cycle and also a major deity of the Shinto religion. She is seen as the goddess of the sun and the universe.

Contents

Name and title

Jimmu is recorded as Japan's first ruler in two early chronicles, Nihon Shoki (721) and Kojiki (712). [1] Nihon Shoki gives the dates of his reign as 660–585 BCE. [1] In the reign of Emperor Kanmu (737–806 CE), [5] the eighth-century scholar Ōmi no Mifune designated rulers before Ōjin as tennō(天皇, "heavenly sovereign"), a Japanese pendant to the Chinese imperial title Tiān-dì (天帝), and gave several of them including Jimmu their canonical names. Prior to this time, these rulers had been known as Sumera no mikoto/Ōkimi. This practice had begun under Empress Suiko, and took root after the Taika Reforms with the ascendancy of the Nakatomi clan. [6]

<i>Nihon Shoki</i> 720 Book by Prince Toneri and Ō no Yasumaro

The Nihon Shoki (日本書紀), sometimes translated as The Chronicles of Japan, is the second-oldest book of classical Japanese history. The book is also called the Nihongi. It is more elaborate and detailed than the Kojiki, the oldest, and has proven to be an important tool for historians and archaeologists as it includes the most complete extant historical record of ancient Japan. The Nihon Shoki was finished in 720 under the editorial supervision of Prince Toneri and with the assistance of Ō no Yasumaro dedicated to Empress Genshō.

<i>Kojiki</i> 8th-century Japanese myths compilation

Kojiki, also sometimes read as Furukotofumi, is the oldest extant chronicle in Japan, dating from the early 8th century (711–712) and composed by Ō no Yasumaro at the request of Empress Genmei. The Kojiki is a collection of myths, early legends, songs, genealogies, oral traditions and semi-historical accounts down to 641 concerning the origin of the Japanese archipelago, and the Kami (神). The myths contained in the Kojiki as well as the Nihon Shoki (日本書紀) are part of the inspiration behind many practices. Later, the myths were re-appropriated for Shinto practices such as the misogi purification ritual.

Emperor Kanmu Emperor of Japan

Emperor Kammu was the 50th emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. Kammu reigned from 781 to 806.

According to the legendary account in the Kojiki , Emperor Jimmu was born on February 13, 711 BCE (the first day of the first month of the Chinese calendar), and died, again according to legend, on April 9, 585 BCE (the eleventh day of the third month).

Chinese calendar Lunisolar calendar from China

The traditional China calendar, or Former Calendar, Traditional Calendar or Lunar Calendar, is a lunisolar calendar which reckons years, months and days according to astronomical phenomena. It is defined by GB/T 33661-2017, "Calculation and promulgation of the Chinese calendar", issued by the Standardisation Administration of China on 12 May 2017.

Both the Kojiki and the Nihon Shoki give Jimmu's name as Kamu-yamato Iware-biko no Mikoto(神倭伊波礼琵古命) or Kamu-yamato Iware-biko no Sumeramikoto(神日本磐余彦天皇). [7] Iware indicates a toponym whose precise purport is unclear.

Among his other names were: Wakamikenu no Mikoto(若御毛沼命), Kamu-yamato Iware-biko hohodemi no Mikoto(神日本磐余彦火火出見尊) and Hikohohodemi(彦火火出見).

The Imperial House of Japan traditionally based its claim to the throne on its putative descent from the sun-goddess Amaterasu via Jimmu's great-grandfather Ninigi. [8]

Imperial House of Japan Members of the extended family of the reigning Emperor of Japan

The Imperial House of Japan, also referred to as the Imperial Family or the Yamato Dynasty, comprises those members of the extended family of the reigning Emperor of Japan who undertake official and public duties. Under the present Constitution of Japan, the Emperor is "the symbol of the State and of the unity of the people". Other members of the Imperial Family perform ceremonial and social duties, but have no role in the affairs of government. The duties as an Emperor are passed down the line to their children.

Ninigi-no-Mikoto (瓊瓊杵尊), also known as Ame-nigishi-kuni-nigishi-amatsuhiko-hiko-ho-no-ninigi-no-Mikoto (天邇岐志国邇岐志天津日高日子番能邇邇芸命), is in Japanese mythology, the son of Ame no Oshihomimi no Mikoto (天忍穗耳尊) and Takuhadachiji-hime no Mikoto (栲幡千千姫命), and grandson of Amaterasu, who sent him down to earth to plant rice there. He was the great-grandfather of Emperor Jimmu. His wife was Konohanasakuya-hime.

Consorts and children

Consort: Ahiratsu-hime(吾平津媛), Hosuseri's (Ninigi-no-Mikoto's son) daughter

Empress: Himetataraisuzu-hime(媛蹈鞴五十鈴媛), Kotoshironushi's daughter

Legendary narrative

In Japanese mythology, the Age of the Gods is the period before Jimmu's accession. [9]

The story of Jimmu seems to rework legends associated with the Ōtomo clan (大伴氏), and its function was to establish that clan's links to the ruling family, just as those of Suijin arguably reflect Mononobe tales and the legends in Ōjin's chronicles seem to derive from Soga clan traditions. [10] Jimmu figures as a direct descendant of the sun goddess, Amaterasu via the side of his father, Ugayafukiaezu. Amaterasu had a son called Ame no Oshihomimi no Mikoto and through him a grandson named Ninigi-no-Mikoto. She sent her grandson to the Japanese islands where he eventually married Konohana-Sakuya-hime. Among their three sons was Hikohohodemi no Mikoto, also called Yamasachi-hiko, who married Toyotama-hime. She was the daughter of Ryūjin, the Japanese sea god. They had a single son called Hikonagisa Takeugaya Fukiaezu no Mikoto. The boy was abandoned by his parents at birth and consequently raised by Tamayori-hime, his mother's younger sister. They eventually married and had four sons. The last of these, Kamu-yamato Iware-biko no mikoto, became Emperor Jimmu. [11]

Migration

Depiction of a bearded Jimmu with his emblematic long bow and an accompanying three-legged crow. This 19th-century artwork is by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi. Emperor Jimmu.jpg
Depiction of a bearded Jimmu with his emblematic long bow and an accompanying three-legged crow. This 19th-century artwork is by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi.

According to the chronicles Kojiki and Nihon Shoki , Jimmu's brothers were born in Takachiho, the southern part of Kyūshū in modern-day Miyazaki Prefecture. They moved eastward to find a location more appropriate for administering the entire country. Jimmu's older brother, Itsuse no Mikoto, originally led the migration, and led the clan eastward through the Seto Inland Sea with the assistance of local chieftain Sao Netsuhiko. As they reached Naniwa (modern-day Osaka), they encountered another local chieftain, Nagasunehiko ("the long-legged man"), and Itsuse was killed in the ensuing battle. Jimmu realized that they had been defeated because they battled eastward against the sun, so he decided to land on the east side of Kii Peninsula and to battle westward. They reached Kumano, and, with the guidance of a three-legged crow, Yatagarasu ("eight-span crow"), they moved to Yamato. There, they once again battled Nagasunehiko and were victorious.

In Yamato, Nigihayahi no Mikoto, who also claim descent from the Takamagahara gods, was protected by Nagasunehiko. However, when Nigihayahi met Jimmu, he accepted Jimmu's legitimacy. At this point, Jimmu is said to have ascended to the throne of Japan. Upon scaling a Nara mountain to survey the Seto Inland Sea he now controlled, Jimmu remarked that it was shaped like the "heart" rings made by mating dragonflies, archaically akitsu 秋津. [12] A mosquito then tried to steal Jimmu's royal blood but since Jimmu was a god incarnate Emperor, akitsumikami(現御神), a dragonfly killed the mosquito. Japan thus received its classical name the Dragonfly Islands, akitsushima(秋津島).

Unebi Goryo, the mausoleum of Jimmu in Kashihara City, Nara Prefecture Tomb of Emperor Jimmu, haisho.JPG
Unebi Goryō, the mausoleum of Jimmu in Kashihara City, Nara Prefecture

According to the Kojiki, Jimmu died when he was 126 years old. The Emperor's posthumous name literally means "divine might" or "god-warrior". It is generally thought that Jimmu's name and character evolved into their present shape just before [13] the time in which legends about the origins of the Yamato dynasty were chronicled in the Kojiki . [5] There are accounts written earlier than either Kojiki and Nihon Shoki that present an alternative version of the story. According to these accounts, Jimmu's dynasty was supplanted by that of Ōjin, whose dynasty was supplanted by that of Keitai. [14] The Kojiki and the Nihon Shoki then combined these three mythical dynasties into one long and continuous genealogy.

The traditional site of Jimmu's grave is near Unebiyama in Kashihara, Nara Prefecture. [15]

Modern veneration

The inner prayer hall of Kashihara Shrine in Kashihara, Nara, the principal shrine devoted to Jimmu Kashihara M6522.jpg
The inner prayer hall of Kashihara Shrine in Kashihara, Nara, the principal shrine devoted to Jimmu

Veneration of Jimmu was a central component of the imperial cult that formed following the Meiji Restoration. [16] In 1873, a holiday called Kigensetsu was established on February 11. [17] The holiday commemorated the anniversary of Jimmu's ascension to the throne 2,532 years earlier. [18] After World War II, the holiday was criticized as too closely associated with the "emperor system." [17] It was suspended from 1948 to 1966, but later reinstated as National Foundation Day. [17] [19]

Between 1873 and 1945 an imperial envoy sent offerings every year to the supposed site of Jimmu's tomb. [20] In 1890 Kashihara Shrine was established nearby, on the spot where Jimmu was said to have ascended to the throne. [21]

Before and during World War II, expansionist propaganda made frequent use of the phrase hakkō ichiu , a term coined by Tanaka Chigaku based on a passage in the Nihon Shoki discussing Emperor Jimmu. [22] Some media incorrectly attributed the phrase to Emperor Jimmu. [23] For the 1940 Kigensetsu celebration, marking the supposed 2,600th anniversary of Jimmu's enthronement, the Peace Tower [24] was constructed in Miyazaki. [25]

The same year numerous stone monuments relating to key events in Jimmu's life were erected around Japan. The sites at which these monuments were erected are known as Emperor Jimmu Sacred Historical Sites. [26]

See also

Notes

  1. 1 2 3 "Jimmu", Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia (1993), Kodansha, ISBN   978-4069310980.
  2. "Genealogy of the Emperors of Japan" at Kunaicho.go.jp; retrieved 2013-8-28.
  3. Kelly, Charles F. "Kofun Culture", Japanese Archaeology. April 27, 2009.
  4. Kitagawa, Joseph. (1987). On Understanding Japanese Religion, p. 145 , p. 145, at Google Books; excerpt: "emphasis on the undisrupted chronological continuity from myths to legends and from legends to history, it is difficult to determine where one ends and the next begins. At any rate, the first ten legendary emperors are clearly not reliable historical records."
    Boleslaw Szczesniak, "The Sumu-Sanu Myth. Notes and Remarks on the Jimmu Tenno Myth", in Monumenta Nipponica, Vol. 10, No. 1/2 (1954), pp. 107–126.
  5. 1 2 Aston, William. (1896). Nihongi, pp. 109–137.
  6. Jacques H. Kamstra Encounter Or Syncretism: The Initial Growth of Japanese Buddhism, Brill 1967 pp. 65–67.
  7. 神倭伊波礼琵古命, OJ pronunciation: Kamu-Yamatö-ipare-biko (nö-mikötö) Donald Philippi, tr. Kojiki, University of Tokyo Press, 1969 p. 488
  8. Bob Tadashi Wakabayashi, [Japanese Loyalism Reconstrued: Yamagata Daini's Ryūshi Shinron of 1759], University of Hawai'i Press, 1995 pp. 106–107.
  9. Nussbaum, "Jindai" at p. 421 , p. 421, at Google Books.
  10. Jacques H. Kamstra, Encounter Or Syncretism: The Initial Growth of Japanese Buddhism, Brill 1967 pp. 69–70.
  11. Nussbaum, "Chijin-godai" at p. 111 , p. 111, at Google Books.
  12. Kennedy, Malcolm D. A History of Japan. London. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1963.
  13. Ooms, Herman. Imperial Politics and Symbolics in Ancient Japan: the Tenmu Dynasty, 650–800. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2009
  14. Imperial Household Agency (Kunaichō): 神武天皇 (1); retrieved August 22, 2013.
  15. "Nationalism and History in Contemporary Japan" . Retrieved February 11, 2017.
  16. 1 2 3 "Kigensetsu Controversy", Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia (1993), Kodansha. ISBN   978-4069310980.
  17. Britannica Kokusai Dai-Hyakkajiten article on "Kigensetsu".
  18. "Founding Day rekindles annual debate". The Japan Times. February 11, 1998. Retrieved May 24, 2014.
  19. Martin, Peter. (1997). The Chrysanthemum Throne: A History of the Emperors of Japan, p. 18–20.
  20. Kashihara City website tourism page on "Kashihara Jingū".
  21. Britannica Kokusai Dai-Hyakkajiten article on "Hakkō ichiu".
  22. Dower, John W., War Without Mercy: Race & Power in the Pacific War, faber and faber, 1993 p.223.
  23. Peace Tower (平和の塔Heiwa no Tō, originally called the "Hakkō Ichiu Tower" 八紘一宇の塔 Hakkō Ichiu no Tō or the "Pillar of Heaven and Earth" 八紘之基柱 Ametsuchi no Motohashira)
  24. Motomura, Hiroshi (February 10, 2015). "Miyazaki's controversial Peace Tower continues to cause unease". The Japan Times. ISSN   0447-5763 . Retrieved February 9, 2018.
  25. Ruoff, Kenneth J. (September 9, 2014). Imperial Japan at Its Zenith: The Wartime Celebration of the Empire’s 2,600th Anniversary. Cornell University Press. p. 41. ISBN   9780801471827 . Retrieved February 10, 2018.

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References

Emperor Jimmu
Born: 13 February 711 BC Died: 9 April 585 BC
Regnal titles
New creation Emperor of Japan
660–585 BC
(traditional dates)
Succeeded by
Emperor Suizei