Emperor Keikō

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Emperor Keikō.jpg
Emperor of Japan
Reign71–130 AD (traditional)[1]
Born7 November 13 BC
Died23 December 130
(aged 142 years, 46 days)
BurialYamanobe no michi no e no misasagi (Nara)
IssueSee below
FatherEmperor Suinin

Emperor Keikō (景行天皇,, Keikō-tennō) was, according to legend, the 12th emperor of Japan.[2][3] His reign is conventionally dated as 71–130 AD.[4] He is also known as Ootarashihikooshirowake no Sumeramikoto.

Legendary narrative[edit]

Keikō is regarded by historians as a legendary emperor with little information about him. There is insufficient material available for further verification and study.[5] The reign of Emperor Kinmei (c. 509 – 571 AD), the 29th emperor,[6] is the first for which contemporary historiography is able to assign verifiable dates;[7] however, the conventionally accepted names and dates of the early emperors were not to be confirmed as "traditional" until the reign of Emperor Kanmu (737–806), the 50th sovereign of the Yamato dynasty.[8] The name Keikō-tennō was assigned to him posthumously by later generations.[9]

His legend was recorded in Kojiki and Nihon Shoki, but the accounts of him are different in these two sources. In Kojiki he sent his son Yamato Takeru to Kyūshū to conquer local tribes. In Nihonshoki Keikō himself went there and won battles against local tribes. According to both sources, he sent Yamatotakeru to Izumo Province and eastern provinces to conquer the area and spread his territory.[10]

According to traditional sources, Yamato Takeru died in the 43rd year of Emperor Keiko's reign (景行天皇四十三年).[11] The possessions of the dead prince were gathered together along with the sword Kusanagi; and his widow venerated his memory in a shrine at her home. Sometime later, these relics and the sacred sword were moved to the current location of the Atsuta Shrine.[12] Nihonshoki explains that this move occurred in the 51st year of Keiko's reign, but shrine tradition also dates this event in the 1st year of Emperor Chūai's reign.[13]

The actual site of Keikō's grave is not known.[2] This emperor is traditionally venerated at a memorial Shinto shrine (misasagi) at Nara.

The Imperial Household Agency designates this location as Keikō's mausoleum. It is formally named Yamanobe no michi no e no misasagi.[14]

Consorts and children[edit]

Empress (first): Harima no Inabi no Ooiratsume (播磨稲日大郎姫), daughter of Wakatakehiko (若建吉備津日子)

  • Prince Kushitsunowake (櫛角別王)
  • Prince Oousu (大碓皇子), ancestor of Mugetsu no kimi (身毛津君)
  • Prince Ousu (小碓尊), father of Emperor Chūai

Empress (second): Yasakairihime (八坂入媛命), daughter of Yasakairihiko (八坂入彦命)

  • Prince Wakatarashihiko (稚足彦尊) Emperor Seimu
  • Prince Iokiirihiko (五百城入彦皇子)
  • Prince Oshinowake (忍之別皇子)
  • Prince Wakayamatoneko (稚倭根子皇子)
  • Prince Oosuwake (大酢別皇子)
  • Princess Nunoshinohime (渟熨斗皇女)
  • Princess Iokiirihime (五百城入姫皇女)
  • Princess Kagoyorihime (麛依姫皇女)
  • Prince Isakiirihiko (五十狭城入彦皇子), ancestor of Mitsukai no Muraji (御使連)
  • Prince Kibinoehiko (吉備兄彦皇子)
  • Princess Takagiirihime (高城入姫皇女)
  • Princess Otohime (弟姫皇女)

Mizuhanoiratume (水歯郎媛), daughter of iwatsukuwake (磐衝別命), younger sister of Iwakiwake (石城別王)

  • Princess Ionono (五百野皇女) Saiō

Ikawahime (五十河媛)

  • Prince Kamukushi (神櫛皇子), ancestor of Sanuki no Kimi (讃岐公), Sakabe no Kimi (酒部公)
  • Prince Inaseirihiko (稲背入彦皇子), ancestor of Saeki no Atai (佐伯直), Harima no Atai (播磨直)

Abe no Takadahime (阿倍高田媛), daughter of Abe no Kogoto (阿倍木事)

  • Prince Takekunikoriwake (武国凝別皇子)

Himuka no Kaminagaootane (日向髪長大田根)

  • Prince Himuka no Sotsuhiko (日向襲津彦皇子)

Sonotakehime (襲武媛)

  • Prince Kunichiwake (国乳別皇子)
  • Prince Kunisewake (国背別皇子)
  • Prince Toyotowake (豊戸別皇子)

Himuka no Mihakashihime (日向御刀媛)

Inabinowakairatsume (伊那毘若郎女), daughter of Wakatakehiko, younger sister of Harima no Inabi no Ooiratsume

  • Prince Mawaka (真若王)
  • Prince Hikohitoooe (彦人大兄命)

Igotohime (五十琴姫命), daughter of Mononobe no Igui (物部胆咋宿禰)

  • Prince Igotohiko (五十功彦命)

See also[edit]


Japanese Imperial kamon — a stylized chrysanthemum blossom
  1. ^ "Genealogy of the Emperors of Japan" at Kunaicho.go.jp; retrieved 2013-8-28.
  2. ^ a b Imperial Household Agency (Kunaichō): 景行天皇 (12); retrieved 2013-8-23.
  3. ^ Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). Annales des empereurs du japon, pp. 11–14, p. 11, at Google Books; Brown, Delmer M. (1979). Gukanshō, p. 254; Varley, H. Paul. (1980). Jinnō Shōtōki, pp. 96–99.
  4. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1959). The Imperial House of Japan, p. 33.
  5. ^ Kelly, Charles F. "Kofun Culture," Japanese Archaeology. April 27, 2009.
  6. ^ Titsingh, pp. 34–36; Brown, pp. 261–262; Varley, pp. 123–124.
  7. ^ Hoye, Timothy. (1999). Japanese Politics: Fixed and Floating Worlds, p. 78; excerpt, "According to legend, the first Japanese emperor was Jinmu. Along with the next 13 emperors, Jinmu is not considered an actual, historical figure. Historically verifiable Emperors of Japan date from the early sixth century with Kinmei.
  8. ^ Aston, William George. (1896). Nihongi, pp. 109.
  9. ^ Brinkley, Frank. (1915). A History of the Japanese People from the Earliest Times to the end of the Meiji Era,, p. 21, at Google Books; excerpt, "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.
  10. ^ Aston, William. (1998). Nihongi, Vol. 1, pp. 188–214.
  11. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1953) Studies in Shinto and Shrines, p. 433.
  12. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, Studies in Shinto, p. 434.
  13. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, Studies in Shinto, p. 435.
  14. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, Studies in Shinto, p. 419.


Regnal titles
Preceded by
Emperor Suinin
Legendary Emperor of Japan
71–130 AD
(traditional dates)
Succeeded by
Emperor Seimu