|Emperor of Japan|
|Reign||February 11, 660 BCE – April 9, 585 BCE (mythic)|
|Born||February 13, 711 BCE (mythic)|
|Died||April 9, 585 BCE (aged 126) (mythic)
|Burial||Unebi-yama no ushitora no sumi no misasagi (畝傍山東北陵?) (Kashihara, Nara) (mythic)|
Emperor Jimmu (神武天皇 Jinmu-tennō?) was the first emperor of Japan, according to legend. His accession is traditionally dated as 660 BCE. In 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.
Name and title
Jimmu is recorded as Japan's first ruler in two early chronicles, Kojiki (712) and Nihon shiki (721). Nihon shiki gives the dates of his reign as 660 - 585 BC. In the reign of Emperor Kanmu (737–806), 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). 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. Jimmu's name, like those of several other legendary emperors, was already attested among the ruler names of the Korean kingdom of Silla.
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 March 11, 585 BCE (both dates according to the lunisolar traditional Japanese calendar).
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. 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, Kan'yamato Iwarebiko, became Emperor Jimmu.
Mythic records in the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki describe, with distinct versions that often disagree on details, how Jimmu's brothers were born in Takachiho, the southern part of Kyūshū (in modern day Miyazaki prefecture), and decided to move eastward, as they found the location inappropriate for reigning over 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 Ōsaka), they encountered another local chieftain, Nagasunehiko (lit. "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 (lit. "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.
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 the time in which legends about the origins of the Yamato dynasty were chronicled in the Kojiki.
The fluidity of Jimmu before the compilation of the Kojiki and of the Nihon Shoki is demonstrated by somewhat earlier texts that place three dynasties as successors to the mythological Yamato state. According to these texts, Jimmu's dynasty was supplanted by that of Emperor Ōjin, whose dynasty was supplanted by that of Emperor Keitai. The Kojiki and the Nihon Shoki then combined these three mythical dynasties into one long and continuous genealogy.
Modern veneration of Emperor Jimmu
Veneration of Emperor Jimmu was a central component of the imperial cult that formed following the Meiji restoration. 1872-73 saw the establishment of a new holiday called Kigensetsu ("Era Day") commemorating the anniversary of Jimmu's ascension to the throne 2,532 years earlier. Between 1873 and 1945 an imperial envoy sent offerings every year to Mount Unebi, the supposed site of Jimmu's tomb.
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. Some media incorrectly attributed the exact phrase to Emperor Jimmu. For the 1940 Kigensetsu celebration, marking the supposed 2,600th anniversary of Jimmu's enthronement, the 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) was constructed in Miyazaki.[better source needed]
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".[better source needed] Kigensetsu was suspended in 1948 during the occupation of Japan, but was reinstated in 1966 as Kenkoku Kinen no hi, which continues to be celebrated as a national holiday.[better source needed]
- Imperial cult
- Xu Fu
- Modern system of ranked Shinto Shrines
- The Age of the Gods
- Emishi people
- Jomon period
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Emperor JimmuBorn: 13 February 711 BCE Died: 9 April 585 BCE
|New creation||Emperor of Japan