Emperor Yūryaku

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Emperor Yūryaku
Tennō Yūryaku detail.jpg
Emperor of Japan
Reign25 December 456 – 8 September 479 (traditional)[1]
DiedSeptember 8, 479(479-09-08) (aged 60–61)
Hatsuse no Asakura Palace
Tajihi no Takawashi-no-hara no misasagi (丹比高鷲原陵) (Habikino, Osaka)
IssueSee below
Posthumous name
Chinese-style shigō:
Emperor Yūryaku (雄略天皇)

Japanese-style shigō:
Ōhatsuse Wakatake no Sumera-mikoto (大泊瀬幼武天皇)
FatherEmperor Ingyō
MotherEmpress Oshisaka no Ōnakatsuhime

Emperor Yūryaku (雄略天皇, Yūryaku-tennō) (418 - 8 September 479) was the 21st legendary Emperor of Japan,[2] according to the traditional order of succession.[3] He is remembered as a patron of sericulture.[4]

No firm dates can be assigned to this Emperor's life or reign, but he is conventionally considered to have reigned from 25 December 456 to 8 September 479.[5]

Legendary narrative[edit]

Yūryaku was a 5th-century monarch.[6] The reign of Emperor Kinmei (c. 509 – 571 AD), the 29th Emperor,[7] is the first for which contemporary historiography is able to assign verifiable dates;[8] 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.[9]

According to the Kojiki, this Emperor is said to have ruled from the Thirteenth Day of the Eleventh Month of 456 (Heishin) until his death on the Seventh Day of the Eight Month of 479 (Kibi).

According to Kojiki and Nihon Shoki, Yūryaku was named Prince Ōhatsuse Wakatake (大泊瀬幼武) at birth, literally meaning "Wakatake (Young Warrior) of Great Hatsuse", where "Hatsuse" is the old name for Sakurai, Nara. "Yūryaku" (雄略) is a name posthumously assigned to him by a much later era, literally meaning "Magnificent Plan". He was the fifth and youngest son of Emperor Ingyō. After his elder brother Emperor Ankō was murdered, he won the struggle against his other brothers and became the new Emperor.

Yūryaku'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 Sumera-mikoto or Ame-no-shita Shiroshi-mesu Ōkimi (治天下大王), meaning "the great king who rules all under heaven". He had three wives (including his consort Kusahahatahi). His successor, Prince Shiraka (Emperor Seinei), was his son by his wife Kazuraki no Karahime.

In 463, Yūryaku Tennō invited the thunder god of the Mimuro hill to come to the Imperial Palace, and ordered Chiisakobe no muraji Sugaru to fetch the deity. He obliged, thinking the supernatural being would have no reason to refuse the invitation, and rode carrying a halberd with a red banner, symbolising his office of royal messenger. Soon enough, the thunder stroke, and Sugaru enlisted the help of priests to enshrine the kami into a portable carriage, to be brought in the Emperor's presence, as a great serpent. But, said Emperor neglected to practice proper ritual purification and religious abstinence. The thunder kami then showed his displeasure through thundering and threatening fiery eyeballs, and Emperor Yūryaku fled into the interior of the Palace while covering his eyes. The great serpent was returned to Mimuro, and the Emperor made many offerings to appease the angry deity. This story is recorded in Nihongi and mentioned by William George Aston, in "Shinto, the Ancient Religion of Japan" as well as several other books.

According to the Nihongi, Yūryaku was of ungovernable and suspicious temperament, and committed many acts of arbitrary cruelty.

The actual site of Yūryaku's grave is not known.[2] The Emperor is traditionally venerated at a memorial Shinto shrine (misasagi) in Habikino, Osaka, which is designated by the Imperial Household Agency as Yūryaku's mausoleum. It is formally named Tajihi no Takawashi-no-hara no misasagi.[10]

Consorts and children[edit]

Empress (Kōgō) : Princess Kusaka-no-hatabihime (草香幡梭姫皇女), Emperor Nintoku's daughter

Consort (Hi) : Katsuragi no Karahime (葛城韓媛), Katsuragi no Tsubura no Ōomi's daughter

  • Third Son: Prince Shiraka (白髪皇子), later Emperor Seinei
  • Princess Takuhatahime (栲幡姫皇女, d.459), Saiō

Consort (Hi): Kibi no Wakahime (吉備稚媛, d.479), Kibi no Kamitsumichi no omi's daughter

  • Prince Iwaki (磐城皇子, d.479/81)
  • Prince Hoshikawa no Wakamiya (星川稚宮皇子, d.479)

Consort (Hi) : Wani no ominagimi (和珥童女君), Kasuga no Wani no omi Fukame's daughter

  • Princess Kasuga no Ōiratsume (春日大娘皇女), married to Emperor Ninken

King Bu[edit]

According to the Book of Song, a King Bu (武) from Japan dispatched envoys to the Emperor of Liu Song, a minor Chinese dynasty, in both 477 and 478. Communications included a notice that the previous ruler, an older brother, had died, and that Bu had ascended to the throne.[11] The King 'Bu' in this document is believed to refer to Emperor Yūryaku, due to the fact that the character used to write the name (武) is found in the name by which Emperor Yūryaku was called during his lifetime: Ōhatsuse Wakatakeru no Mikoto (大泊瀬幼武尊).

The inscriptions on the Inariyama and Eta Funayama Sword, also supports the idea that Bu is an equivalent of Emperor Yūryaku.

The Chinese historical records state that Bu began his rule before 477, was recognized as the ruler of Japan by the Liu Song, Southern Qi, and Liang dynasties, and continued his rule through to 502.[citation needed]


The Emperor's interest in poetry is amongst the more well-documented aspects of his character and reign. Poems attributed to him are included in the Man'yōshū, and a number of his verses are preserved in the Kojiki and the Nihonshoki.[4]



See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Genealogy of the Emperors of Japan" at Kunaicho.go.jp; retrieved 2013-8-28.
  2. ^ a b Imperial Household Agency (Kunaichō): 雄略天皇 (21); retrieved 2013-8-28.
  3. ^ Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). Annales des empereurs du japon, pp. 27–28; Brown, Delmer M. (1979). Gukanshō, p. 258; Varley, H. Paul. (1980). Jinnō Shōtōki, pp. 113–115.
  4. ^ a b Nippon Gakujutsu Shinkokai (1969). The Manyōshū, p. 317.
  5. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1959). The Imperial House of Japan, p. 40.
  6. ^ Kelly, Charles F. "Kofun Culture," Japanese Archaeology. 27 April 2009.
  7. ^ Titsingh, pp. 34–36; Brown, pp. 261–262; Varley, pp. 123–124.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ Aston, William. (1896). Nihongi, pp. 109.
  10. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, p. 419.
  11. ^ Batten, Bruce Loyd. (2006). Gateway to Japan, pp. 17–18. at Google Books
  12. ^ "Genealogy". Reichsarchiv (in Japanese). Retrieved 9 January 2021.


External links[edit]

Regnal titles
Preceded by Emperor of Japan:

25 December 456 – 8 September 479
(traditional dates)
Succeeded by