Emperor Kōan

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Tennō Kōan thumb.jpg
Emperor of Japan
Reign392 BC – 291 BC (traditional)[1]
Born427 BC[2]
Died291 BC (aged 136)
Tamate no oka no e no misasagi (玉手丘上陵) (Gose)
HouseImperial House of Japan
FatherEmperor Kōshō

Emperor Kōan (孝安天皇, Kōan-tennō), also known as Yamatotarashihikokunioshihito no Mikoto (大倭帯日子国押人命) was the sixth Emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession.[3][4] Very little is known about this Emperor due to a lack of material available for further verification and study. Kōan is known as a "legendary emperor" among historians as his actual existence is disputed. Nothing exists in the Kojiki other than his name and genealogy. Kōan's reign allegedly began in 392 BC, he had one wife and two sons and reigned for more than 100 years until his death in 291 BC at the age of 136. One of his sons then supposedly became the next emperor.[5] Emperor Kōan is traditionally accepted as the final emperor of the Jōmon period, which ended in 300 BCE.[6]

Legendary narrative[edit]

In the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki, only his name and genealogy were recorded. The Japanese have traditionally accepted this sovereign's historical existence, and an Imperial misasagi or tomb for Kōan is currently maintained; however, no extant contemporary records have been discovered that confirm a view that this historical figure actually reigned. He is believed to be son of Emperor Kōshō; and his mother is believed to have been Yosotarashi-no-hime, who was the daughter of Okitsuyoso, and ancestress of the Owari.[7] The Kojiki records Kōan was the second son of Emperor Kōshō, and that he ruled from the palace of Akitsushima-no-miya (葛城室之秋津島宮, and in the Nihon Shoki as 室秋津島宮) at Muro in what would come to be known as Yamato Province.[4][7] Kōan was allegedly an emperor who reigned for more than a hundred years, and lived to the age of 137 (according to the Kojiki).[8] He allegedly had a wife named Yosotarashi-hime, and fathered two children with her. Kōan's reign lasted from 392 BC until his death in 291 BC, one of his sons then took the throne and would later be referred to as Emperor Kōrei.

Known information[edit]

The existence of at least the first nine Emperors is disputed due to insufficient material available for further verification and study.[9] Kōan is thus regarded by historians as a "legendary Emperor", and is considered to have been the fifth of eight Emperors without specific legends associated with them.[a] The name Kōan-tennō was assigned to him posthumously by later generations.[11] His name might have been regularized centuries after the lifetime ascribed to Kōan, possibly during the time in which legends about the origins of the Yamato dynasty were compiled as the chronicles known today as the Kojiki.[10] One topic that has been brought up is Emperor Kōan's longevity as the oldest verified humans usually go into the mid to late 110s. According to historian John S. Brownlee, Kōan's alleged age of 137 at the time of his death is "too long". Brownlee goes on to say that while this isn't unusual for mythical figures, nobody in Japan was bothered by the longevity of the former emperors until the modern era.[8] While the actual site of Kōan's grave is not known, the Emperor is traditionally venerated at a memorial Shinto shrine (misasagi) in Tamade, Gose. The Imperial Household Agency designates this location as Kōan's mausoleum, and its formal name is Tamate no oka no e no misasagi.[3][5]

The first emperor that historians state might have actually existed is Emperor Sujin, the 10th emperor of Japan.[12] Outside of the Kojiki, the reign of Emperor Kinmei[b] (c. 509 – 571 AD) is the first for which contemporary historiography is able to assign verifiable dates.[15] The conventionally accepted names and dates of the early Emperors were not confirmed as "traditional" though, until the reign of Emperor Kanmu[c] between 737 and 806 AD.[10]

Consorts and children[edit]

Empress: Oshi-hime (押媛), Prince Amatarashikunioshihito's daughter (Emperor Kōshō's son)

  • Prince Ōkibi no Morosusumi (大吉備諸進命)
  • Prince Ōyamatonekohikofutoni (大日本根子彦太瓊尊), later Emperor Kōrei

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Also known as the "eight undocumented monarchs" (欠史八代, Kesshi-hachidai).[10]
  2. ^ The 29th Emperor[13][14]
  3. ^ Kanmu was the 50th sovereign of the Yamato dynasty


Japanese Imperial kamon — a stylized chrysanthemum blossom
  1. ^ ""Genealogy of the Emperors of Japan"" (PDF). Kunaicho.go.jp. Retrieved May 8, 2019.
  2. ^ Kenneth Henshall (2013). Historical Dictionary of Japan to 1945. Scarecrow Press. p. 487.
  3. ^ a b "孝安天皇 (6)". Imperial Household Agency (Kunaichō) (in Japanese). Retrieved May 10, 2019.
  4. ^ a b Brown, Delmer M. and Ichirō Ishida (1979). A Translation and Study of the Gukanshō, an Interpretative History of Japan Written in 1219. University of California Press. pp. 251–252.
  5. ^ a b Ponsonby-Fane, Richard (1959). The Imperial House of Japan. Ponsonby Memorial Society. p. 30 & 418.
  6. ^ Perri, Angela R. (2016). "Hunting dogs as environmental adaptations in Jōmon Japan" (PDF). Antiquity. 90 (353): 1166–1180. doi:10.15184/aqy.2016.115.
  7. ^ a b Varley, H. Paul. (1980). Jinnō Shōtōki: A Chronicle of Gods and Sovereigns. Columbia University Press. p. 90.
  8. ^ a b John S. Brownlee (August 14, 1991). Political Thought in Japanese Historical Writing: From Kojiki (712) to Tokushi Yoron (1712). Wilfrid Laurier Univ. Press. p. 30.
  9. ^ Kelly, Charles F. ""Kofun Culture"". www.t-net.ne.jp. Retrieved May 8, 2019.
  10. ^ a b c Aston, William George. (1896). Nihongi: Chronicles of Japan from the Earliest Times to A.D. 697, Volume 2. The Japan Society London. pp. 109, 145–146.
  11. ^ Brinkley, Frank (1915). A History of the Japanese People from the Earliest Times to the end of the Meiji Era. Encyclopaedia Britannica Company. p. 21. Posthumous names for the earthly Mikados were invented in the reign of Emperor Kanmu (782–805), i.e., after the date of the compilation of the Records and the Chronicles.
  12. ^ Yoshida, Reiji. (March 27, 2007). ""Life in the Cloudy Imperial Fishbowl"". Japan Times. Retrieved May 16, 2019.
  13. ^ Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). Nihon Ōdai Ichiran (in French). Royal Asiatic Society, Oriental Translation Fund of Great Britain and Ireland. pp. 34–36.
  14. ^ Brown, Delmer M. and Ichirō Ishida (1979). A Translation and Study of the Gukanshō, an Interpretative History of Japan Written in 1219. University of California Press. pp. 261–262.
  15. ^ Hoye, Timothy. (1999). Japanese Politics: Fixed and Floating Worlds. Prentice Hall. p. 78. According to legend, the first Japanese Emperor was Jimmu. Along with the next 13 Emperors, Jimmu is not considered an actual, historical figure. Historically verifiable Emperors of Japan date from the early sixth century with Kimmei.

Further reading[edit]

Regnal titles
Preceded by
Emperor Kōshō
Legendary Emperor of Japan
392 BC – 291 BC
(traditional dates)
Succeeded by
Emperor Kōrei