The Info List - Emperor Jimmu

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Emperor Jimmu
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 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.


1 Name and title 2 Consorts and children 3 Legendary narrative

3.1 Migration

4 Modern veneration 5 See also 6 Notes 7 References 8 External links

Name and title[edit] Jimmu is recorded as Japan's first ruler in two early chronicles, Kojiki
(712) and Nihon Shoki
Nihon Shoki
(721).[1] Nihon Shoki
Nihon Shoki
gives the dates of his reign as 660–585 BC.[1] In the reign of Emperor Kanmu (737–806),[5] the eighth-century scholar Ōmi no Mifune
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
Taika Reforms
with the ascendancy of the Nakatomi clan.[6] According to the legendary account in the Kojiki, Emperor Jimmu
Emperor Jimmu
was born on February 13, 711 BC (the first day of the first month of the Chinese calendar), and died, again according to legend, on April 9, 585 BC (the eleventh day of the third month). Both the Kojiki
and the Nihon Shoki
Nihon Shoki
give Jimmu's name as Kamu-yamato Iware-biko no mikoto (神倭伊波礼琵古命/神日本磐余彦尊).[7] Iware indicates a toponym whose precise purport is unclear. The Imperial House of Japan
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] Consorts and children[edit] Ahiratsu-hime

son: Tagishimimi-no-mikoto son: Kisumimi-no-mikoto


son: Hikoyai-no-mikoto son: Kamuyaimimi-no-mikoto son: Emperor Suizei

Legendary narrative[edit] In Japanese mythology, the Age of the Gods
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, 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[edit]

Depiction of a bearded Jimmu with his emblematic long bow and an accompanying wild bird. 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
Seto Inland Sea
with the assistance of local chieftain Sao Netsuhiko. As they reached Naniwa (modern day Ōsaka), 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
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. According to the Kojiki, Jimmu died when he was 126 years old. This emperor's posthumous name literally means "divine might" or "god-warrior". It is undisputed that this identification is Chinese in form and Buddhist in implication, which suggests that the name must have been regularized centuries after the lifetime ascribed to Jimmu. 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
Yamato dynasty
were chronicled in the Kojiki.[5]

Unebi Goryō, the mausoleum of Jimmu in Kashihara City, Nara Prefecture

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.[15] Modern veneration[edit]

The inner prayer hall of Kashihara Shrine
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
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
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
Emperor Jimmu
Sacred Historical Sites".[26] See also[edit]

Ancient Japan

Imperial cult Xu Fu Modern system of ranked Shinto
shrines Age of the Gods Emishi people Japanese imperial year Jōmon period


^ a b c "Jimmu", Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia (1993), Kodansha, ISBN 978-4069310980. ^ "Genealogy of the Emperors of Japan" at Kunaicho.go.jp; retrieved 2013-8-28. ^ Kelly, Charles F. "Kofun Culture", Japanese Archaeology. April 27, 2009. ^ 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. ^ a b Aston, William. (1896). Nihongi, pp. 109–137. ^ Jacques H. Kamstra Encounter Or Syncretism: The Initial Growth of Japanese Buddhism, Brill 1967 pp. 65–67. ^ 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 ^ Bob Tadashi Wakabayashi, [Japanese Loyalism Reconstrued: Yamagata Daini's Ryūshi Shinron of 1759,] University of Hawai'i Press, 1995 pp. 106–107. ^ Nussbaum, "Jindai" at p. 421, p. 421, at Google Books. ^ Jacques H. Kamstra, Encounter Or Syncretism: The Initial Growth of Japanese Buddhism, Brill 1967 pp. 69–70. ^ Nussbaum, "Chijin-godai" at p. 111, p. 111, at Google Books. ^ [1] ^ Kennedy, Malcolm D. A History of Japan. London. Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1963. ^ Ooms, Herman. Imperial Politics and Symbolics in Ancient Japan: the Tenmu Dynasty, 650–800. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2009 ^ Imperial Household Agency
Imperial Household Agency
(Kunaichō): 神武天皇 (1); retrieved August 22, 2013. ^ "Nationalism and History in Contemporary Japan". Retrieved 11 February 2017.  ^ a b c " Kigensetsu Controversy", Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia (1993), Kodansha. ISBN 978-4069310980. ^ Britannica Kokusai Dai-Hyakkajiten article on "Kigensetsu". ^ "Founding Day rekindles annual debate". The Japan
Times. February 11, 1998. Retrieved May 24, 2014.  ^ Martin, Peter. (1997). The Chrysanthemum Throne: A History of the Emperors of Japan, p. 18–20. ^ Kashihara City website tourism page on "Kashihara Jingū". ^ Britannica Kokusai Dai-Hyakkajiten article on "Hakkō ichiu". ^ Dower, John W., War Without Mercy: Race & Power in the Pacific War, faber and faber, 1993 p.223. ^ 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) ^ Motomura, Hiroshi (10 February 2015). "Miyazaki's controversial Peace Tower continues to cause unease". The Japan
Times. ISSN 0447-5763. Retrieved 9 February 2018.  ^ Ruoff, Kenneth J. (9 September 2014). Imperial Japan
at Its Zenith: The Wartime Celebration of the Empire’s 2,600th Anniversary. Cornell University Press. p. 41. ISBN 9780801471827. Retrieved 10 February 2018. 


Aston, William George. (1896). Nihongi: Chronicles of Japan
from the Earliest Times to A.D. 697, Volume 1. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner. OCLC 448337491 Brown, Delmer M. and Ichirō Ishida, eds. (1979). Gukanshō: The Future and the Past. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-03460-0; OCLC 251325323 Brownlee, John S. (1997). Japanese Historians and the National Myths, 1600–1945: The Age of the Gods. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press. ISBN 0-7748-0645-1 Chamberlain, Basil Hall. (1920). The Kojiki. Read before the Asiatic Society of Japan
on April 12 10 May, and June 21, 1882; reprinted, May 1919. OCLC 1882339 Earhart, David C. (2007). Certain Victory: Images of World War II
World War II
in the Japanese Media. Armonk, New York: M. E. Sharpe. ISBN 978-0-7656-1776-7 Kitagawa, Joseph Mitsuo. (1987). On Understanding Japanese Religion. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 9780691073132; ISBN 9780691102290; OCLC 15630317 Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric and Käthe Roth. (2005). Japan encyclopedia. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-01753-5; OCLC 58053128 Ponsonby-Fane, Richard Arthur Brabazon. (1959). The Imperial House of Japan. Kyoto: Ponsonby Memorial Society. OCLC 194887 Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). Nihon Ōdai Ichiran; ou, Annales des empereurs du Japon. Paris: Royal Asiatic Society, Oriental Translation Fund of Great Britain and Ireland. OCLC 5850691 Varley, H. Paul. (1980). Jinnō Shōtōki: A Chronicle of Gods and Sovereigns. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-04940-5; OCLC 59145842

External links[edit]

A more detailed profile of Jimmu (archived April 2011) A detailed summary of Jimmu's descent legend (archived July 2014)

Emperor Jimmu Imperial House of Japan 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

v t e

Japanese monarchs

Italics mark imperial consort and regent Jingū, who is not traditionally listed. Years given as CE / AD


Jimmu Suizei Annei Itoku Kōshō Kōan Kōrei Kōgen Kaika Sujin Suinin Keikō Seimu Chūai Jingū


Ōjin Nintoku Richū Hanzei Ingyō Ankō Yūryaku Seinei Kenzō Ninken Buretsu Keitai Ankan Senka



Kinmei Bidatsu Yōmei Sushun Suiko Jomei Kōgyoku Kōtoku Saimei Tenji Kōbun Tenmu Jitō Monmu Genmei



Genmei Genshō Shōmu Kōken Junnin Shōtoku Kōnin Kanmu



Kanmu Heizei Saga Junna Ninmyō Montoku Seiwa Yōzei Kōkō Uda Daigo Suzaku Murakami Reizei En'yū Kazan Ichijō Sanjō Go-Ichijō Go-Suzaku Go-Reizei Go-Sanjō Shirakawa Horikawa Toba Sutoku Konoe Go-Shirakawa Nijō Rokujō Takakura Antoku Go-Toba



Tsuchimikado Juntoku Chūkyō Go-Horikawa Shijō Go-Saga Go-Fukakusa Kameyama Go-Uda Fushimi Go-Fushimi Go-Nijō Hanazono Go-Daigo

Northern Court


Kōgon Kōmyō Sukō Go-Kōgon Go-En'yū Go-Komatsu



Go-Murakami Chōkei Go-Kameyama Go-Komatsu Shōkō Go-Hanazono Go-Tsuchimikado Go-Kashiwabara Go-Nara Ōgimachi



Ōgimachi Go-Yōzei



Go-Yōzei Go-Mizunoo Meishō Go-Kōmyō Go-Sai Reigen Higashiyama Nakamikado Sakuramachi Momozono Go-Sakuramachi Go-Momozono Kōkaku Ninkō Kōmei Meiji

Empire of Japan


Meiji Taishō Shōwa

(Post-war Japan)


Shōwa Akihito
(Heisei period; Reigning Emperor)

Imperial family tree Imperial house

List Category Book

v t e

Japanese mythology

Mythic texts

Kojiki Nihon Shoki Fudoki Kujiki Kogo Shūi Hotsuma Tsutae Nihon Ryōiki Konjaku Monogatarishū Shintōshū Butsuzōzui

Japanese creation myth

Kotoamatsukami Kamiyo (Kamiyonanayo) Kuniumi Kamiumi Izanami Izanagi Kagutsuchi Watatsumi Shinigami

Takamagahara mythology

Amaterasu Susanoo Tsukuyomi Ame-no-Uzume

Izumo mythology

Yamata no Orochi Hare of Inaba Ōkuninushi Kuni-yuzuri Kotoshironushi Takeminakata

Hyūga mythology

Tenson kōrin Ninigi Konohanasakuya-hime Hoderi Hoori Toyotama-hime Ugayafukiaezu

Human age

Emperor Jimmu Tagishimimi Kesshi Hachidai

Mythical locations

Ashihara no Nakatsukuni Amano-Iwato Ne-no-kuni Ryūgū-jō Takama-ga-hara Yomi

Major Buddhist figures

Amida Nyorai Daruma Five Dhyani Buddhas

Seven Lucky Gods

Benzaiten Bishamonten Daikokuten Ebisu Fukurokuju Hotei Jurōjin Kisshōten


Ryukyuan religion Amamikyu Ainu mythology

Kamuy Kamuy-huci Hasinaw-uk-kamuy

deities Japanese deities Sacred objects Japanese religions

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 70244460 LCCN: n81023067 ISNI: 0000 0004 4887 8920 GND: 101815