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Emperor Ninmyō

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Emperor Ninmyō
Emperor of Japan
Reign22 March 833 – 4 May 850
Enthronement30 March 833
BornMasara (正良)
27 September 808
Died6 May 850(850-05-06) (aged 41)
Heian Kyō (Kyōto)
Fukakusa no misasagi (深草陵) (Kyoto)
Posthumous name
Chinese-style shigō:
Emperor Ninmyō (仁明天皇)

Japanese-style shigō:
Yamato-neko-amatsumishirushi-toyosato no Mikoto (日本根子天璽豊聡慧尊)
FatherEmperor Saga
MotherTachibana no Kachiko

Emperor Ninmyō (仁明天皇, Ninmyō-tennō, 27 September 808 – 6 May 850)[1] was the 54th emperor of Japan,[2] according to the traditional order of succession.[3] Ninmyō's reign lasted from 833 to 850, during the Heian period.[4]

Traditional narrative[edit]

Ninmyō was the second son of Emperor Saga and the Empress Tachibana no Kachiko. His personal name (imina) was Masara (正良).[5] After his death, he was given the title Ninmyō (仁明).

Ninmyō had nine Empresses, Imperial consorts, and concubines (kōi); and the emperor had 24 Imperial sons and daughters.[6]

Emperor Ninmyō is traditionally venerated at his tomb; the Imperial Household Agency designates Fukakusa no Misasagi (深草陵, Fukakusa Imperial Mausoleum), in Fushimi-ku, Kyoto, as the location of Ninmyō's mausoleum.[2]

Events of Ninmyō's life[edit]

Fujiwara no Junshi, print by Teisai Hokuba, 1800 and 1805, (Rijksmuseum Amsterdam)

Ninmyō ascended to the throne following the abdication of his uncle, Emperor Junna.

  • 6 January 823[7] (Kōnin 10, 4th month, 19th day[8]): Received the title of Crown Prince at the age of 14.
  • 22 March 833 (Tenchō 10, 28th day of the 2nd month[9]): In the 10th year of Emperor Junna's reign, the emperor abdicated; and the succession (senso) was received by his adopted son. Masara-shinnō was the natural son of Emperor Saga, and therefore would have been Junna's nephew.[6] Shortly thereafter, Emperor Ninmyo is said to have acceded to the throne (sokui).[10]

Shortly after Ninmyo was enthroned, he designated an heir. He named Prince Tsunesada, a son of former Emperor Junna, as the crown prince.[11]

  • 835 (Jōwa 2[12]): Kūkai (known posthumously as Kōbō-Daishi) died. This monk, scholar, poet, and artist had been the founder of the Shingon or "True Word" school of Buddhism.[11]
  • 838-839 (Jōwa 5-6): Diplomatic mission to Tang China headed by Fujiwara no Tsunetsugu.[13]
  • 842: Following a coup d'état called the Jōwa Incident, Tsunesada the crown prince was replaced with Ninmyō's first son, Prince Michiyasu (later Emperor Montoku) whose mother was the Empress Fujiwara no Junshi, a daughter of sadaijin Fujiwara no Fuyutsugu. It is supposed that this was the result of political intrigue planned by Ninmyō and Fujiwara no Yoshifusa.[14] The first of what would become a powerful line of Fujiwara regents,[15] Yoshifusa had numerous family ties to the imperial court; he was Ninmyō's brother in law (by virtue of his sister who became Ninmyō's consort), the second son of sadaijin Fuyutsugu, and uncle to the new crown prince.[14]

In his lifetime, Ninmyō could not have anticipated that his third son, Prince Tokiyasu, would eventually ascend the throne in 884 as Emperor Kōkō.[16]

  • 6 May 850 (Kashō 3, 21st day of the 3rd month[17]): Emperor Ninmyō died at the age of 41.[18][19] He was sometimes posthumously referred to as "the Emperor of Fukakusa", because that was the name given to his tomb.[20]

Eras of Ninmyō's reign[edit]

The years of Ninmyō's reign are more specifically identified by more than one era name (nengō).[21]


Kugyō (公卿) is a collective term for the very few most powerful men attached to the court of the Emperor of Japan in pre-Meiji eras.[22]

In general, this elite group included only three to four men at a time. These were hereditary courtiers whose experience and background would have brought them to the pinnacle of a life's career. During Ninmyō's reign, this apex of the Daijō-kan included:

  • Sadaijin, Fujiwara no Otsugu (藤原緒嗣), 773–843.[23]
  • Sadaijin, Minamoto no Tokiwa (源常), 812–854.[6]
  • Udaijin, Kiyohara no Natsuno (清原夏野), 782–837.[6]
  • Udaijin, Fujiwara no Mimori (藤原三守), d. 840.[6]
  • Udaijin, Minamoto no Tokiwa (源常)
  • Udaijin, Tachibana no Ujikimi (橘氏公), 783–847.[6]
  • Udaijin, Fujiwara no Yoshifusa (藤原良房), 804–872.[11]
  • Udaijin, Fujiwara no Otsugu, 825–832[23]
  • Naidaijin (not appointed)
  • Dainagon, Fujiwara no Otsugu, ?–825.[24]

Consorts and children[edit]

Consort (Nyōgo) later Empress Dowager (Tai-Kōtaigō): Fujiwara no Junshi (藤原順子; 809–871), Fujiwara no Fuyutsugu’s daughter

Consort (Nyōgo): Fujiwara no Takushi/Sawako (藤原沢子; d.839), Fujiwara no Fusatsugu’s daughter

  • Second Son: Imperial Prince Muneyasu (宗康親王; 828–868)
  • Third Son: Imperial Prince Tokiyasu (時康親王) later Emperor Kōkō
  • Fourth Son: Imperial Prince Saneyasu (人康親王; 831–872)
  • Imperial Princess Shinshi (新子内親王; d.897)

Consort (Nyōgo): Fujiwara no Teishi/Sadako (藤原貞子; d.864), Fujiwara no Tadamori’s daughter

  • Eighth Son: Imperial Prince Nariyasu (成康親王; 836–853)
  • Imperial Princess Shinshi (親子内親王; d. 851)
  • Imperial Princess Heishi (平子内親王; d. 877)

Court lady: Shigeno no Tsunako (滋野縄子), Shigeno no Sadanushi’s daughter

  • fifth Son: Imperial Prince Motoyasu (本康親王; d. 902)
  • Ninth Daughter: Imperial Princess Tokiko (時子内親王; d. 847), 2nd Saiin in Kamo Shrine 831–833
  • Imperial Princess Jūshi (柔子内親王; d. 869)

Consort (Nyōgo): Tachibana no Kageko (橘影子; d. 864), Tachibana no Ujikimi’s daughter

Consort (Nyōgo): Fujiwara Musuko (藤原息子)

Court Attendant (Koui): Ki no Taneko (紀種子; d. 869), Ki no Natora’s daughter

  • Seventh Prince: Imperial Prince Tsuneyasu (常康親王; d. 869)
  • Imperial Princess Shinshi/Saneko (真子内親王; d. 870)

Court Attendant (Koui) (deposed in 845): Mikuni-machi (三国町), daughter of Mikuni clan

  • Sada no Noboru (貞登), given the family name "Sada" from Emperor (Shisei Kōka, 賜姓降下) in 866

Court lady: Fujiwara no Katoko (藤原賀登子), Fujiwara no Fukutomaro's daughter

  • Sixth Son: Imperial Prince Kuniyasu (国康親王; d. 898)

Court lady: Fujiwara no Warawako (藤原小童子), Fujiwara no Michitō's daughter

  • Imperial Princess Shigeko (重子内親王; d. 865)

Court lady: Princess Takamune (高宗女王), Prince Okaya's daughter

  • Seventh/eighth Daughter: Imperial Princess Hisako (久子内親王; d. 876), 18th Saiō in Ise Shrine 833–850.[25]

Court lady: daughter of Yamaguchi clan (山口氏の娘)

  • Minamoto no Satoru (源覚; 849–879)

Nyoju: Kudaraō Toyofuku's daughter

  • Minamoto no Masaru (源多; 831–888), Udaijin 882–888
  • Minamoto no Hikaru (源光; 846–913), Udaijin 901–913

Court lady (Nyoju): Kudara no Yōkyō (百済永慶), Kudara no Kyōfuku's daughter

  • Twelfth Daughter: Imperial Princess Takaiko (高子内親王; d. 866), 3rd Saiin in Kamo Shrine 833–850

(from unknown women)

  • Minamoto no Suzushi (源冷; 835–890), Sangi 882–890
  • Minamoto no Itaru (源効)



See also[edit]


Japanese Imperial kamon — a stylized chrysanthemum blossom
  1. ^ Spelling note: A modified Hepburn romanization system for Japanese words is used throughout Western publications in a range of languages including English. Unlike the standard system, the "n" is maintained even when followed by "homorganic consonants" (e.g., shinbun, not shimbun).
  2. ^ a b Emperor Ninmyō, Fukakusa Imperial Mausoleum, Imperial Household Agency
  3. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1959). The Imperial House of Japan, pp. 64–65.
  4. ^ Brown and Ishida, pp.283–284; Varley, H. Paul. (1980). Jinnō Shōtōki, p. 164-165; Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). Annales des empereurs du Japon, pp. 106–112., p. 106, at Google Books
  5. ^ Brown and Ishida, p. 282; Varley, p. 164.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Brown and Ishida, p. 283.
  7. ^ Julian dates derived from NengoCalc
  8. ^ 弘仁十四年四月十九日
  9. ^ 天長十年二月二十八日
  10. ^ Titsingh, p. 106; Brown and Ishida, pp. 283; Varley, p. 44; a distinct act of senso is unrecognized prior to Emperor Tenji; and all sovereigns except Jitō, Yōzei, Go-Toba, and Fushimi have senso and sokui in the same year until the reign of Emperor Go-Murakami.
  11. ^ a b c Brown and Ishida, pp. 284.
  12. ^ 承和二年
  13. ^ Sansom, George Bailey. (1958). A History of Japan to 1334, pp. 134-135; Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric. (2005). "Fujiwara no Tsunetsugu" in Japan Encyclopedia, p. 211.
  14. ^ a b Mason and Caiger, p. 69
  15. ^ Mason and Caiger, p. 71
  16. ^ Titsingh, p. 124; Brown and Ishida, p. 289; Varley, pp. 171–175.
  17. ^ 嘉祥三年三月二十一日
  18. ^ Brown and Ishida, p. 284
  19. ^ Adolphson, Mikael et al. (2007). Heian Japan, centers and peripheries, p. 23.
  20. ^ Brown and Ishida, p. 284; Varley, p. 165.
  21. ^ Titsingh, p. 106.
  22. ^ Heian period Imperial courts: kugyō of Ninmyō-tennō (in French)
  23. ^ a b Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric. (2005). "Fujiwara no Otsugu" in Japan Encyclopedia, p. 208, p. 208, at Google Books.
  24. ^ Titsingh, p. 104., p. 104, at Google Books
  25. ^ Saikū Historical Museum, Meiwa, Mie: wall-display information table.
  26. ^ "Genealogy". Reichsarchiv (in Japanese). 30 April 2010. Retrieved 28 January 2018.


External links[edit]

Regnal titles
Preceded by Emperor of Japan:

Succeeded by