Imperial Regalia of Japan

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Conjectural images of the Imperial Regalia of Japan. San Shen Qi .png
Conjectural images of the Imperial Regalia of Japan.

The Imperial Regalia of Japan(三種の神器,Sanshu no Jingi/Mikusa no Kamudakara), also known as the Three Sacred Treasures of Japan, consist of the sword Kusanagi (草薙劍), the mirror Yata no Kagami (八咫鏡), and the jewel Yasakani no Magatama (八尺瓊勾玉). The regalia represent the three primary virtues: valor (the sword), wisdom (the mirror), and benevolence (the jewel). [1]

A sword is a bladed weapon intended for slashing or thrusting that is longer than a knife or dagger, consisting of a long blade attached to a hilt. The precise definition of the term varies with the historical epoch or the geographic region under consideration. The blade can be straight or curved. Thrusting swords have a pointed tip on the blade, and tend to be straighter; slashing swords have a sharpened cutting edge on one or both sides of the blade, and are more likely to be curved. Many swords are designed for both thrusting and slashing.

<i>Kusanagi</i> Legendary sword of the Imperial Regalia of Japan

Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi (草薙の剣) is a legendary Japanese sword and one of three Imperial Regalia of Japan. It was originally called Ame-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi, but its name was later changed to the more popular Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi. In folklore, the sword represents the virtue of valor.

Mirror object that reflects light or sound

A mirror is an object that reflects light in such a way that, for incident light in some range of wavelengths, the reflected light preserves many or most of the detailed physical characteristics of the original light, called specular reflection. This is different from other light-reflecting objects that do not preserve much of the original wave signal other than color and diffuse reflected light, such as flat-white paint.


Due to the legendary status of these items, their locations are not confirmed, but it is commonly thought that the sword is located at the Atsuta Shrine in Nagoya, the jewel is located at the Three Palace Sanctuaries in Kōkyo (the Imperial Palace in Tokyo), and the mirror is located at the Ise Grand Shrine in Mie Prefecture. [2]

Atsuta Shrine Shinto shrine traditionally believed to have been established during the reign of Emperor Keikō (71-130) located in Atsuta-ku, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture in Japan

Atsuta Shrine is a Shinto shrine traditionally believed to have been established during the reign of Emperor Keikō (71-130) located in Atsuta-ku, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture in Japan. The shrine is familiarly known as Atsuta-Sama or simply as Miya. Since ancient times, it has been especially revered, ranking with the Grand Shrine of Ise.

Nagoya Designated city in Chūbu, Japan

Nagoya (名古屋) is the largest city in the Chūbu region of Japan. It is Japan's fourth-largest incorporated city and the third-most-populous urban area. It is located on the Pacific coast on central Honshu. It is the capital of Aichi Prefecture and is one of Japan's major ports along with those of Tokyo, Osaka, Kobe, Yokohama, Chiba, and Kitakyushu. It is also the center of Japan's third-largest metropolitan region, known as the Chūkyō metropolitan area. As of 2015, 2.28 million people lived in the city, part of Chūkyō Metropolitan Area's 10.11 million people. It is also one of the 50 largest urban areas in the world.

Three Palace Sanctuaries

The Three Palace Sanctuaries are a group of structures in the precincts of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan. They are used in imperial religious ceremonies, including weddings and enthronements.


Since 690, the presentation of these items to the Emperor by the priests at the shrine has been a central element of the enthronement ceremony. This ceremony is not public, and these items are by tradition seen only by the Emperor and certain priests. Because of this, no known photographs or drawings exist. Two of the three treasures (the jewel and the sword), as well as the Privy Seal and State Seal, were present at the abdication of Emperor Akihito on 30 April 2019. [3] Akihito's successor, Naruhito, formally took possession of them in a brief ceremony on 1 May 2019. [4] Prior to these events, they were last in public during the accession and enthronement of Akihito in 1989 and 1990. On all of these occasions, they remained shrouded from view in packages or boxes.

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.

Priest person authorized to lead the sacred rituals of a religion (for a minister use Q1423891)

A priest or priestess is a religious leader authorized to perform the sacred rituals of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and one or more deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particular, rites of sacrifice to, and propitiation of, a deity or deities. Their office or position is the priesthood, a term which also may apply to such persons collectively.

Privy Seal of Japan

The Privy Seal of Japan is one of the national seals and is the Emperor of Japan's official seal.

According to legend, these treasures were brought to earth by Ninigi-no-Mikoto, legendary ancestor of the Japanese imperial line, when his grandmother, the sun goddess Amaterasu, sent him to pacify Japan. These treasures were eventually said to be passed down to Emperor Jimmu, who was the first Emperor of Japan and was also Ninigi's great-grandson. Traditionally, they were a symbol of the emperor's divinity as a descendant of Amaterasu, confirming his legitimacy as paramount ruler of Japan. When Amaterasu hid in a cave from her brother Susanoo-no-Mikoto, thus plunging the world in darkness, the goddess Ame-no-Uzume-no-Mikoto hung the mirror and jewels outside the cave and lured her out of the cave, at which point she saw her own reflection and was startled enough that the gods could pull her out of the cave. Susanoo later presented the sword Kusanagi to Amaterasu as a token of apology; he had obtained it from the body of an eight-headed serpent, Yamata no Orochi.

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.

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.

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.

At the conclusion of the Genpei War in 1185, the eight year-old Emperor Antoku and the Regalia were under the control of the Taira clan. They were present when the Taira were defeated by the rival Minamoto clan at the Battle of Dan-no-ura, which was fought on boats in the shallow Kanmon Straits. The child-emperor's grandmother threw herself, the boy, the sword and the jewel into the sea to avoid capture. The mirror was recovered, but according to the main account of the battle, a Minamato soldier who tried to force open the box containing it was struck blind. The jewel was recovered shortly afterwards by divers, but the sword was lost. [5] There are a number of medieval texts relating to the loss of the sword, which variously contended that a replica was forged afterwards, or that the lost sword itself was a replica or the sword was returned to land by supernatural forces. [6]

Genpei War conflict during late-Heian period of Japan

The Genpei War (1180–1185) was a national civil war between the Taira and Minamoto clans during the late-Heian period of Japan. It resulted in the downfall of the Taira and the establishment of the Kamakura shogunate under Minamoto no Yoritomo in 1192.

Emperor Antoku Emperor of Japan

Emperor Antoku was the 81st emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. His reign spanned the years from 1180 through 1185.

Taira clan noble family

Taira clan was a major Japanese clan of samurai.

The possession by the Southern Dynasty of the Imperial Regalia during the Nanboku-chō period in the 14th century has led modern chroniclers to define it as the legitimate dynasty for purposes of regnal names and genealogy.

Nanboku-chō period period (1336–1392) within the Muromachi period of Japanese history, in which two men had competing claims to the Japanese imperial throne

The Nanboku-chō period, spanning from 1336 to 1392, was a period that occurred during the formative years of the Muromachi bakufu of Japanese history.

A regnal name, or reign name, is the name used by monarchs and popes during their reigns and, subsequently, historically. Since ancient times, some monarchs have chosen to use a different name from their original name when they accede to the monarchy.

Genealogy study of families and the tracing of their lineages and history

Genealogy is the study of families, family history, and the tracing of their lineages. Genealogists use oral interviews, historical records, genetic analysis, and other records to obtain information about a family and to demonstrate kinship and pedigrees of its members. The results are often displayed in charts or written as narratives. Although generally used interchangeably, strictly speaking, "genealogy" begins with a person who is usually deceased and traces his or her descendants forward in time, whereas, "family history" begins with a person who is usually living and traces his or her ancestors.

The importance of the Imperial Regalia to Japan is also evident from the declarations made by Emperor Hirohito to Kōichi Kido on 25 and 31 July 1945 at the end of World War II, when he ordered the Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal of Japan to protect them "at all costs". [7]

Cultural references

The phrase "Three Sacred Treasures" is retrospectively applied to durable goods of modern Japan. During a policy address in 2003, then-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said that during the mid-1950s and mid-1960s, the "three sacred treasures" for durable goods were the washing machine, refrigerator, and the black and white television, and the automobile, air conditioner, and color television set from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s. [8]

Alvin and Heidi Toffler's Powershift use them to symbolize the three kinds of power they distinguish: force (sword), wealth (jewel) and knowledge (mirror). [9]

See also

Related Research Articles

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In Shinto, Koto'amatsukami is the collective name for the first gods which came into existence at the time of the creation of the universe. They were born in Takamagahara, the world of Heaven at the time of the creation. Unlike the later gods, these deities were born without any procreation.

Susanoo-no-Mikoto shintoist god

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Magatama curved, comma-shaped beads or jewels that appeared in prehistoric Japan from the Final Jōmon period through the Kofun period (ca. 1000 BCE to the sixth century CE)

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Ame-no-Uzume-no-mikoto is the goddess of dawn, mirth and revelry in the Shinto religion of Japan, and the wife of fellow-god Sarutahiko Ōkami. She famously relates to the tale of the missing sun deity, Amaterasu Omikami. Her name can also be pronounced as Ama-no-Uzume. She is also known as Ōmiyanome-no-ōkami, an inari kami possibly due to her relationship with her husband.

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Regalia privileges and the insignia characteristic of a sovereign

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Yata no Kagami sacred mirror that is part of the Imperial Regalia of Japan

Yata no Kagami (八咫鏡) is a sacred mirror that is part of the Imperial Regalia of Japan. It is said to be housed in Ise Grand Shrine in Mie Prefecture, Japan, although a lack of public access makes this difficult to verify. The Yata no Kagami represents "wisdom" or "honesty," depending on the source. Its name literally means "The Eight Ta Mirror," a reference to its size and octagonal shape. Mirrors in ancient Japan represented truth because they merely reflected what was shown, and were a source of much mystique and reverence. Japanese folklore is rich in stories of life before mirrors were commonplace.

Enthronement of the Japanese emperor

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<i>Founding of the Nation</i> 1929 painting by Kawamura Kiyoo

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2019 Japanese imperial transition Japanese imperial abdication and transition

After 30 years on the Chrysanthemum Throne, Emperor Akihito of Japan abdicated on 30 April 2019, being the first Japanese emperor to do so since 1817. This marked the end of the Heisei era and the inception of the Reiwa era, and will precipitate numerous festivities leading up to the accession of his son and successor, Emperor Naruhito. The Enthronement Ceremony will likely happen on 22 October 2019. Akihito's younger son, Prince Akishino, is his brother's crown prince and heir presumptive.


  1. ミニ講話 宮司のいい話 (in Japanese).
  2. Sansom, George (1961). A History of Japan 1334–1615. Stanford University Press. p. 9. ISBN   0804705259.
  3. McCurry, Justin (30 April 2019). "Japan's emperor Akihito abdicates with message of love". The Guardian. ISSN   0261-3077 . Retrieved 30 April 2019.
  4. McCurry, Justin (1 May 2019). "Japan welcomes new emperor Naruhito as Reiwa era begins". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  5. Turnbull, Stephen (2006) Samurai: The World of the Warrior, Osprey Publishing, ISBN   978-1841769516 (pp. 33-38)
  6. Selinger, Vyjayanthi R. (2013) Authorizing the Shogunate: Ritual and Material Symbolism in the Literary Construction of Warrior Order, Brill Academic Publishers, ISBN   978-9004248106 (pp. 114-118)
  7. Kido Koichi nikii, Tokyo, Daigaku Shuppankai, 1966, pp.1120–21.
  8. "General Policy Speech by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to the 156th Session of the Diet". Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet. 31 January 2003. Retrieved 5 September 2017. (Structural Reform in Lifestyle) From the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s, washing machines, refrigerators and black and white televisions were called the "three sacred treasures" that symbolized the new lifestyle; from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s they were automobiles, air conditioners and color televisions.
  9. Powershift: Knowledge, Wealth and Violence at the Edge of the 21st Century (1990), Bantam Books, Alvin and Heidi Toffler, ISBN   0-553-29215-3.