Emperor Yōmei

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Emperor of Japan
Reign 3 October 585 – 21 May 587
Predecessor Bidatsu
Successor Sushun
Born 518
Died 21 May 587(587-05-21) (aged 68–69)
Burial Kawachi no Shinaga no hara no misasagi (Osaka)
  • Anahobe no Hashihito
  • Ishikina
  • Hiroko
  • Prince Shōtoku
  • Prince Kume
  • Prince Yeguri
  • Prince Mamuta
  • Prince Tame
  • Prince Maroko
  • Princess Nukade hime
House Yamato
Father Emperor Kinmei
Mother Soga no Kitashihime

Emperor Yōmei (用明天皇, Yōmei-tennō, 518 – 21 May 587) was the 31st Emperor of Japan,[1] according to the traditional order of succession.[2]

Yōmei's reign spanned the years from 585 until his death in 587.[3]

Traditional narrative[edit]

He was called Tachibana no Toyohi no Mikoto (橘豊日尊) in the Nihon Shoki. He was also referred to as Prince Ōe (大兄皇子, Ōe no Miko, literally crown prince) and Prince Ikebe (池辺皇子, Ikebe no Miko) after the palace in which he lived. He acceded to the throne after the death of his half brother, Emperor Bidatsu.

The influential courtiers from Emperor Bidatsu's reign, Mononobe no Moriya, also known as Mononobe Yuge no Moriya no Muraji or as Ō-muraji Yuge no Moriya, and Soga no Umako no Sukune, both remained in their positions during the reign of Emperor Yōmei. Umako was the son of Soga Iname no Sukune, and therefore, he would have been one of Emperor Yōmei's cousins.

  • 585: In the 14th year of Bidatsu-tennō 's reign (敏達天皇14年), he died; and the succession (senso) was received by his younger brother. Shortly thereafter, Emperor Yōmei is said to have acceded to the throne (sokui).[4]

Yōmei's contemporary title would not have been tennō, as most historians believe this title was not introduced until the reigns of Emperor Tenmu and Empress Jitō. Rather, it was presumably Sumeramikoto or Amenoshita Shiroshimesu Ōkimi (治天下大王), meaning "the great king who rules all under heaven." Alternatively, Yōmei might have been referred to as (ヤマト大王/大君) or the "Great King of Yamato."

Emperor Yōmei's reign lasted only two years; and he died at the age of 69.[5]

  • 587, in the 4th month: Yōmei died and his body was placed in a coffin, but not buried.[6]
  • 587, in the 5th month: Armed conflict over the succession erupted. Shintoist, anti-Buddhist forces of Yuge no Moriya no Muraji (also known as Ō-muraji Yuge no Moriya) battled unsuccessfully against the pro-Buddhist forces of Prince Shōtoku and Soga Umako no Sukune. The opposition to Buddhism was entirely destroyed.[7]
  • 587, in the 7th month: The body of former Emperor Yōmei was buried.[6]

Because of the brevity of his reign, Emperor Yōmei was not responsible for any radical changes in policy, but his support of Buddhism created tension with supporters of Shintoism who opposed its introduction. According to Nihon Shoki, Emperor Yomei believed both in Buddhism and Shintoism. Moriya, the most influential supporter of Shintoism, conspired with Emperor Yōmei's brother, Prince Anahobe, and after Emperor Yomei's death they made an abortive attempt to seize the throne. Although Emperor Yōmei is reported to have died from illness, this incident and the brevity of his reign have led some to speculate that he was actually assassinated by Moriya and Prince Anahobe.

Memorial Shinto shrine and mausoleum honoring Emperor Yōmei.

The actual site of Yōmei's grave is known.[1] This emperor is traditionally venerated at a memorial Shinto shrine (misasagi) at Osaka.

The Imperial Household Agency designates this location as Yōmei's mausoleum. It is formally named Kawachi no Shinaga no hara no misasagi.[8]


Emperor Yōmei was the fourth son of Emperor Kinmei and his mother was Soga no Kitashihime, a daughter of Soga no Iname.[9]

  • In 586, Emperor Yōmei took his half-sister Princess Anahobe no Hashihito (穴穂部間人皇女, Anahobe no Hashihito no Himemiko), whose mother was another of Iname's daughters, Soga no Oane Hime, as his consort. Princess Hashihito no Anahobe bore him four sons, including Prince Shōtoku, who would later become crown prince and regent to Empress Suiko. The second was called the Imperial Prince Kume; the third was called the Imperial Prince Yeguri, the fourth was called the Imperial Prince Mamuta.
  • Ishikina, daughter of Soga no Iname was appointed a Consort. She bore the Imperial Prince Tame (or Toyora).
  • Hiroko, daughter of Ihamura, Ktsuraki no Atahe, bore the Imperial Prince Maroko and the Imperial Princess Nukade hime.

Yomei had three Empresses and seven Imperial sons and daughters.[6]

Yōmei's son, Prince Umayado, is also known as Prince Shōtoku.[10]



See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Imperial Household Agency (Kunaichō): 用明天皇 (31)
  2. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1959). The Imperial House of Japan, p. 46.
  3. ^ Brown, Delmer et al. (1979). Gukanshō, p. 263; Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). Annales des empereurs du Japon, pp. 37–38., p. 37, at Google Books
  4. ^ Titsingh, p. 37; Brown, pp. 263; Varley, p. 44; n.b., 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.
  5. ^ Varley, H. Paul. (1980). Jinnō Shōtōki, p. 126.
  6. ^ a b c Brown, p. 263.
  7. ^ Brown, pp. 262–263.
  8. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, p. 419.
  9. ^ Varley, p. 125.
  10. ^ Varley, pp. 125–129.
  11. ^ "Genealogy". Reichsarchiv. Retrieved 25 January 2018. (in Japanese)


Regnal titles
Preceded by
Emperor Bidatsu
Emperor of Japan:

Succeeded by
Emperor Sushun