Five kings of Wa

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The five kings of Wa (倭の五王, Wa no go ō) were kings of ancient Japan who sent envoys to China during the 5th century to strengthen the legitimacy of their claims to power by gaining the recognition of the Chinese emperor. Details about them are unknown. According to written records in China, their names were San [ja] (; 'Laudable'), Chin [ja] (; 'Precious'), Sai [ja] (; 'Helpful'),  [ja] (; 'Prosperous') and Bu [ja] (; 'Martial').

Chinese records and the bestowed titles on the kings of Wa[edit]

Western calendar (AD) dynasty Chinese calendar King of Wa Description Original Chinese source
413 Jin Dynasty (266–420) 義熙 9 Unknown, San in the Book of Liang, 諸夷伝 The king of Wa sent a tributary.[clarification needed] The Book of Jin, 安帝紀, Imperial Readings of the Taiping Era
421 Liu Song Dynasty 永初 2 San King San sent a tributary[clarification needed] to Jin. Emperor Wu of Liu Song bestowed the title, possibly 安東将軍倭国王 (Andō General King of Wa), on San. The Book of Song, 倭国伝
425 Liu Song Dynasty 元嘉 2 San King San sent 司馬 Sōtatsu as an envoy and made Emperor Wen of Liu Song a present. The Book of Song, 倭国伝
430 Liu Song Dynasty 元嘉 7 Possibly San In January, the king of Wa sent a tribute. The Book of Song, 文帝紀
438 Liu Song Dynasty 元嘉 15 Chin King San died, his younger brother Chin succeeded to the throne. Chin sent a tribute and styled himself the title of 使持節都督倭百斉新羅任那秦韓慕韓六国諸軍事安東太将軍倭国王.
In April, Emperor Wen appointed Chin to the title of 安東将軍倭国王.
The emperor also appointed Wa Zui and other 13 subordinates of Chin to the titles of 平西征虜冠軍輔国将軍.
The Book of Song, 文帝紀 and 倭国伝
443 Liu Song Dynasty 元嘉 20 Sai Sai sent a tribute and was appointed to the title of 安東将軍倭国王 (General Pacifying the East and King of Wa). The Book of Song, 倭国伝
451 Liu Song Dynasty 元嘉 28 Sai King Sai was appointed to the title of 使持節都督倭新羅任那加羅秦韓慕韓六国諸軍事 (Supreme Military Commander of the Six States of Wa, Silla, Mimana, Gaya, Jinhan and Mahan) as well as 安東将軍 (General Andō).
In July, Sai was promoted to the title of 安東太将軍. 23 subordinates were also promoted.
The Book of Song, 文帝紀 and 倭国伝
460 Liu Song Dynasty 大明 4 Possibly Sai In December, the king of Wa sent a tribute.  
462 Liu Song Dynasty 大明 6   In March, Emperor Xiaowu of Liu Song appointed Kō, a prince of Sai to the title of 安東将軍倭国王. The Book of Song, 孝武帝紀 and 倭国伝
477 Liu Song Dynasty 昇明 1 Bu In November, the king of Wa sent a tribute.
King Kō died, his younger brother Bu succeeded to the throne. Bu styled himself the title of 使持節都督倭百斉新羅任那加羅秦韓慕韓七国諸軍事安東太将軍倭国王 (The Envoys supervise Hundred Sisters, Silla, Nagaro, Qin Han, Mu Han, and General Andō, the King of the Seven Kingdoms).
The Book of Song, 順帝紀 and 倭国伝
478 Liu Song Dynasty 昇明 2 Bu Bu styled himself the title of 開府儀同三司 and petitioned the official appointment. Emperor Shun of Liu Song appointed Bu to the title of 使持節都督倭新羅任那加羅秦韓慕韓六国諸軍事安東太将軍倭王 (Envoy of the Envoys of Silla to serve Nagaro Qin, Han Mu, and the six kings of the six nations). The Book of Song, 順帝紀 and 倭国伝
479 Southern Qi 建元 1   Emperor Gao of Southern Qi promoted Bu to the title of 鎮東太将軍 (General Zhendong). The Book of Qi, 倭国伝
502 Liang Dynasty 天監 1   In April, Emperor Wu of Liang promoted Bu to the title of 征東将軍. The title was possibly mistaken for the title of 征東太将軍. The Book of Liang, 武帝紀

479 and 502 was automatic rank up by the establishment of new dynasty of China.

These titles for the military Sovereignly over the countries had no actual powers. The appointments reflected the struggle for hegemony over the region between Goguryeo and Wa, depicted in the Gwanggaeto Stele.[1]

Comparison with the Nihon Shoki[edit]

Genealogy of the Five kings of Wa and Emperors
Book of Song Book of Liang
San of Wa [ja]
(421, 425 ce)
Chin of Wa [ja]
(438 ce)
Sai of Wa [ja]
(443, 451 ce)
Ko of Wa [ja]
(462 ce)
Bu of Wa [ja]
(478 ce)
San of Wa [ja]Chin of Wa [ja]
Sai of Wa [ja]
Ko of Wa [ja]Bu of Wa [ja]
Genealogy of Emperors in Nihon Shoki

(Numbers in parentheses are Japanese epithets)

15 Ojin
16 Nintoku
17 Richū
18 Hanzei
19 Ingyō
Ichinobe no OshiwaKinshari20 Ankō
21 Yūryaku

As the name of kings recorded in Chinese history are very different from the names of Emperors in the Nihon Shoki, the specification of which emperor was the one recorded is the subject of numerous disputes which have endured for centuries. Most contemporary historians assign the five Japanese kings to the following emperors (two possibilities are identified for the Kings San and Chin), mostly based on the individual features of their genealogies reported in the Chinese sources.

On the other hand, archeological evidence, such as the inscriptions on the Inariyama and Eta Funayama Sword, also supports the idea that Bu is an equivalent of Emperor Yūryaku, who was called Wakatakeru Ōkimi by his contemporaries.

Since Bu is most likely to be Yūryaku, Kō, who is said to be Bu's older brother, is likely to be an equivalent of Ankō, who is also noted in the Nihonshoki as an elder brother to Yūryaku. However, the Book of Song records Kō as "Crown Prince Kō"; there is a possibility that he is not Ankō, but rather Prince Kinashi no Karu, who was a crown prince of Ingyō.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 吉田晶, 倭王権の時代, 新日本出版社, 1998