Emperor Ninmyō

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Emperor of Japan
Crown Prince (親王, Shinnō)
Reign 823–833
Coronation 6 January 823
Emperor (天皇, Tennō)
Reign 833–850
Enthronement 22 March 833
Predecessor Junna
Successor Montoku
Born 27 September 808
Died 6 May 850 (age 41)
Heian Kyō (Kyōto)
Burial Fukakusa no misasagi (Kyoto)
Empress Fujiwara no Junshi, daughter of Fujiwara no Fuyutsugu
Full name
Masara (正良)
Era name and dates
Tenchō, Jōwa, Kashō: 824–834, 834–848, 848–851
Posthumous name
Ninmyō (仁明)
Father Saga
Mother Tachibana 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.[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 as 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]

Nyōgo (Tai-Kōtaigō): Fujiwara no Junshi (藤原順子) (809–871), daughter of Fujiwara no Fuyutsugu (藤原冬嗣)

Nyōgo: Fujiwara no Takushi or Sawako (藤原沢子) (?–839), daughter of Fujiwara no Fusatsugu (藤原総継)

  • Imperial Prince Muneyasu (宗康親王) (828–868)
  • Imperial Prince Tokiyasu (時康親王) (Emperor Kōkō) (830–887)
  • Imperial Prince Saneyasu (人康親王) (831–872)
  • Imperial Princess Shinshi (新子内親王) (?–897)

Nyōgo: Fujiwara no Teishi/Sadako (藤原貞子) (?–864), daughter of Fujiwara no Mimori (藤原三守)

  • Imperial Prince Nariyasu (成康親王) (836–853)
  • Imperial Princess Shinshi (親子内親王) (?–851)
  • Imperial Princess Heishi (平子内親王) (?–877)

Nyōgo: Tachibana no Kageko (橘影子) (?–864), daughter of Tachibana no Ujikimi (橘氏公)

Koui: Ki no Taneko (紀種子) (?–869), daughter of Ki no Natora (紀名虎)

  • Imperial Prince Tsuneyasu (常康親王) (?–869)
  • Imperial Princess Shinshi/Saneko (真子内親王) (?–870)

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

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

Court lady: Shigeno no Tsunako (滋野縄子), daughter of Shigeno no Sadanushi (滋野貞主)

  • Imperial Prince Motoyasu (本康親王) (?–902)
  • Imperial Princess Tokiko (時子内親王) (?–847), 2nd Saiin in Kamo Shrine 831–833
  • Imperial Princess Jūshi (柔子内親王) (?–869)

Court lady: Fujiwara no Katoko (藤原賀登子), daughter of Fujiwara no Fukutomaro (藤原福当麻呂)

  • Imperial Prince Kuniyasu (国康親王) (?–898)

Court lady: Fujiwara no Warawako (藤原小童子), daughter of Fujiwara no Michitō (藤原道遠)

  • Imperial Princess Shigeko (重子内親王) (?–865)

Court lady: Princess Takamune (高宗女王), daughter of Prince Okaya (岡屋王)

  • Imperial Princess Hisako (久子内親王) (?–876), 18th Saiō in Ise Shrine 833–850.[25]

Court lady (Nyoju): Kudara no Yōkyō (百済永慶), daughter of Kudara no Kyōfuku (百済教復)

  • Imperial Princess Takaiko (高子内親王) (?–866), 3rd Saiin in Kamo Shrine 833–850

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

  • Minamoto no Satoru (源覚) (849–879)

(from unknown women)

  • Minamoto no Masaru (源多) (831–888), Udaijin 882–888
  • Minamoto no Suzushi (源冷) (835–890), Sangi 882–890
  • Minamoto no Hikaru (源光) (846–913), Udaijin 901–913
  • 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.


External links[edit]

Regnal titles
Preceded by
Emperor Junna
Emperor of Japan:

Succeeded by
Emperor Montoku