Emperor Suinin

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Emperor Suinin.jpg
Emperor of Japan
Reign29 BC – 70 (traditional)[1]
Born69 BC
Died70 (aged 138)
Sugawara no Fushimi no higashi no misasagi (菅原伏見東陵) (Nara)
IssueSee below
HouseImperial House of Japan
FatherEmperor Sujin

Emperor Suinin (垂仁天皇, Suinin-tennō), also known as Ikumeiribikoisachi no Sumeramikoto (活目入彦五十狭茅天皇) was the 11th Emperor of Japan,[2] according to the traditional order of succession.[3]

No firm dates can be assigned to this Emperor's life or reign, but he is conventionally considered to have reigned from 29 BC to AD 70.[4]

Legendary narrative[edit]

Suinin is regarded by historians as a "legendary Emperor" and there is a paucity of 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 Suinin-tennō was assigned to him posthumously by later generations.[9]

Legend says that about two thousand years ago, Emperor Suinin ordered his daughter, Princess Yamatohime-no-mikoto, to set out and find a suitable permanent location from which to hold ceremonies for Amaterasu-ōmikami, the Sun Goddess.[4] After twenty years of searching, she is said to have settled on the area of Ise, establishing the Ise Shrine.[10] According to Asama Shrine tradition, the earliest veneration of Konohanasakuya-hime at the base of Mount Fuji was in the 8th month of the 3rd year of the reign of Emperor Suinin.[11]

The Nihon Shoki records the wrestling match in which Nomi no Sukune and Taima no Kehaya held during his era, as the origin of Sumai (Sumo wrestling). In the context of events like this, the Japanese have traditionally accepted this sovereign's historical existence; however, no extant contemporary records have been discovered which confirm a view that this historical figure actually reigned.[12]

The Kojiki records that Suinin was the third son of Emperor Sujin, and that he ruled from the palace of Tamaki-no-miya (師木玉垣宮, and in the Nihon Shoki as 纒向珠城宮) at Makimuku in what will come to be known as Yamato Province. The Kojiki also explains that during the reign of Emperor Suinin, the first High Priestess (Saiō, also known as saigū) was appointed for Ise Shrine in what would become known as Ise Province.[10]

Official mausoleum (misasagi) of Emperor Suinin, Nara Prefecture

Suinin is a posthumous name. It is suggested that the name must have been regularized centuries after the lifetime ascribed to Suinin, possibly during the time in which legends about the origins of the Yamato dynasty were compiled as the chronicles known today as the Kojiki.[12]

The legend of Kaguya-hime seems to found its basis in Suinin's story with Kaguya-him-no-Mikoto, one of his consorts, according to the Kojiki.

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

The Imperial Household Agency designates this location as Suinin's mausoleum. It is formally named Sugawara no Fushimi no higashi no misasagi.[13]

Suinin's tomb can be visited in Nishi-machi, Amagatsuji, Nara City.[14][15] This kofun-type Imperial tomb is characterized by a keyhole-shaped island located within a wide, water-filled moat.[16][17]

Consorts and children[edit]

Empress (first): Saho-hime (狭穂姫命, d.34), Prince Hikoimasu's daughter (Emperor Kaika's son)

  • First Son: Prince Homutsuwake (誉津別命)

Empress (second): Hibasu-hime (日葉酢媛命, d.61), Prince Tanba-no-Michinoushi's daughter (also Prince Hikoimasu's son and Emperor Kaika's grandson)

  • Prince Inishikiirihiko (五十瓊敷入彦命)
  • Third Son: Prince Ootarashihikoosirowake (大足彦忍代別尊), later Emperor Keikō
  • Princess Oonakatsu-hime (大中姫命)
  • Princess Yamato-hime (倭姫命), Saiō
  • Prince Wakakiniirihiko (稚城瓊入彦命)

Consort: Nubataniiri-hime (渟葉田瓊入媛), Prince Tanba-no-Michinoushi's daughter (also Prince Hikoimasu's son and Emperor Kaika's grandson)

  • Prince Nuteshiwake (鐸石別命), ancestor of Wake clan (Wake no Kiyomaro)
  • Princess Ikatarashi-hime (胆香足姫命)

Consort: Matono-hime (真砥野媛), Prince Tanba-no-Michinoushi's daughter (also Prince Hikoimasu's son and Emperor Kaika's grandson)

Consort: Azaminiiri-hime (薊瓊入媛), Prince Tanba-no-Michinoushi's daughter (also Prince Hikoimasu's son and Emperor Kaika's grandson)

  • Prince Ikohayawake (息速別命)
  • Princess Wakaasatsu-hime (稚浅津姫命)

Consort: Kaguya-hime (迦具夜比売), Prince Ootsutsukitarine's daughter (also Prince Hikoyumusu's grandson and Emperor Kaika's great grandson)

  • Prince Onabe (袁那弁王)

Consort: Kanihatatobe (綺戸辺), Yamashiro no Ookuni no Fuchi's daughter

  • Tenth Son: Prince Iwatsukuwake (磐撞別命), ancestor of Mio clan (三尾氏) and maternal ancestor of Emperor Keitai
  • Princess Futajiiri-hime (両道入姫命), married to Prince Ōsu, mother of Emperor Chūai

Consort: Karihatatobe (苅幡戸辺), Yamashiro no Ookuni no Fuchi's daughter

  • Prince Oochiwake (祖別命)
  • Prince Ikatarashihiko (五十日足彦命)
  • Prince Itakeruwake (胆武別命)

Mother unknown

  • Prince Tuburame (円目王)

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): 垂仁天皇 (11); retrieved 2013-8-22.
  3. ^ Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). Annales des empereurs du japon, pp. 9–10., p. 9, at Google Books; Brown, Delmer M. (1979). Gukanshō, pp. 253–254; Varley, H. Paul. (1980). Jinnō Shōtōki, pp. 95–96.
  4. ^ a b Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1959). The Imperial House of Japan, p. 32.
  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. (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, 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. ^ a b Brown, p. 253.
  11. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1962. Studies in Shinto and Shrines, p. 458.
  12. ^ a b Aston, William. (1998). Nihongi, Vol. 1, pp. 167–187.
  13. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, Studies in Shinto, p. 418.
  14. ^ Suinin's misasagi -- image
  15. ^ Suinin's misasagi -- map (mis-labelled as "Enperor Nonin s Tomb")
  16. ^ Suinin-type kofun -- see illustration #3, bottom of web page Archived 2008-01-19 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ Suinin's misasagi -- aerial photo (also known as Hōraisan kofun)


  • Aston, William George. (1896). Nihongi: Chronicles of Japan from the Earliest Times to A.D. 697. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner. OCLC 448337491
  • Brown, Delmer M. and Ichirō Ishida, eds. (1979). Gukanshō: The Future and the Past. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-03460-0; OCLC 251325323
  • Chamberlain, Basil Hall. (1920). The Kojiki. Read before the Asiatic Society of Japan on April 12, May 10, and June 21, 1882; reprinted, May, 1919. OCLC 1882339
  • Ponsonby-Fane, Richard Arthur Brabazon. (1959). The Imperial House of Japan. Kyoto: Ponsonby Memorial Society. OCLC 194887
  • ____________. (1962). Studies in Shinto and Shrines. Kyoto: Ponsonby Memorial Society. OCLC 3994492
  • Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). Nihon Ōdai Ichiran; ou, Annales des empereurs du Japon. Paris: Royal Asiatic Society, Oriental Translation Fund of Great Britain and Ireland. OCLC 5850691
  • Varley, H. Paul. (1980). Jinnō Shōtōki: A Chronicle of Gods and Sovereigns. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-04940-5; OCLC 59145842

External links[edit]

Regnal titles
Preceded by
Emperor Sujin
Legendary Emperor of Japan
29 BC – 70
(traditional dates)
Succeeded by
Emperor Keikō