Emperor Kinmei

Emperor of Japan
Reign December 5, 539 – April 15, 571
Predecessor Senka
Successor Bidatsu
Born 509
Died April 15, 571(571-04-15) (aged 62)
Burial Hinokuma no saki Ai no misasagi (Nara)
Issue Emperor Bidatsu
Emperor Yōmei
Emperor Sushun
Empress Suiko
Father Emperor Keitai
Mother Tashiraka no Himemiko

Emperor Kinmei (欽明天皇 Kinmei-tennō, 509–571) was the 29th emperor of Japan,[1] according to the traditional order of succession.[2]

His reign is said to have spanned the years from 539 through 571. Kinmei is the first emperor for which contemporary historiography is able to assign verifiable dates.[3]

Traditional narrative

Kinmei'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, Kinmei might have been referred to as (ヤマト大王/大君) or the "Great King of Yamato."

Events of Kinmei's life

Because of several chronological discrepancies in the account of Emperor Kinmei in the Nihon Shoki, some believe that his was actually a rival court to that of Emperors Ankan and Senka. Nevertheless, according to the traditional account, it was not until the death of Emperor Kinmei's older brother Emperor Senka that he gained the throne.

According to this account, Emperor Senka died in 539 at the age of 73;[4] and succession passed to the third son of Emperor Keitai. This Imperial Prince was the next youngest brother of Emperor Senka. He would come to be known as Emperor Kinmei. He established his court at Shikishima no Kanazashi Palace (磯城嶋金刺宮) in Yamato.[5]

The emperor's chief counselors were:

Although the imperial court was not moved to the Asuka region of Japan until 592, Emperor Kinmei's rule is considered by some to be the beginning of the Asuka period of Yamato Japan, particularly by those who associate the Asuka period primarily with the introduction of Buddhism to Japan from Korea.

According to the Nihon Shoki, Emperor Kinmei received a bronze statue of Buddha as a gift from the king of Paekche King Song Myong (聖明王, Seimei Ō) along with a significant envoy of artisans, monks, and other artifacts in 552. (However, according to the Jōgū Shōtoku Hōō Teisetsu, Buddhism was introduced in 538.) This episode is widely regarded as the official introduction of Buddhism to the country.

With the introduction of a new religion to the court, a deep rift developed between the Mononobe clan, who supported the worship of Japan's traditional deities, and the Soga clan, who supported the adoption of Buddhism.

According to the Nihon Shoki, Emperor Kinmei ruled until his death in 571 and was buried in the Hinokuma no Sakai Burial Mound (桧隈坂合陵). An alternate stronger theory holds that he was actually buried in the Misemaruyama Tumulus (見瀬丸山古墳) located in Kashihara City (橿原市).

This emperor is traditionally venerated at a memorial Shinto shrine (misasagi) at Nara. The Imperial Household Agency designates the Nara location as Kinmei's mausoleum.[1] It is formally named Hinokuma no saki Ai no misasagi;[6] however, the actual sites of the graves of the early emperors remain problematic, according to some historians and archaeologists.


Emperor Kinmei's father was Emperor Keitai and his mother was Emperor Ninken's daughter, Princess Tashiraka (手白香皇女 Tashiraka Ōjo).[5] In his lifetime, he was known by the name Amekuni Oshiharaki Hironiwa (天国排開広庭).

Kinmei had six Empresses and 25 Imperial children (16 sons and 9 daughters).[5] According to Nihongi, he had six wives; but Kojiki only gives five wives, identifying the third consort to the sixth one. The first three were his nieces, daughters of his half brother Senka; two others were sisters, daughters of the Omi Soga no Iname

See also


  1. 1 2 Imperial Household Agency (Kunaichō): 欽明天皇 (29); retrieved 2013-8-22.
  2. Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). pp. 34–36; Brown, Delmer. (1979). Gukanshō, pp. 261–262; Varley, H. Paul. (1980). pp. 123–124; Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1959). The Imperial House of Japan, p. 45.
  3. Hoye, Timothy. (1999). Japanese Politics: Fixed and Floating Worlds, p. 78; excerpt, "According to legend, the first Japanese emperor was Jimmu. Along with the next 13 emperors, Jimmu is not considered an actual, historical figure. Historically verifiable Emperors of Japan date from the early sixth century with Kimmei.
  4. Varley, p. 121.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Brown, p. 262.
  6. Ponsonby-Fane, p. 419.


Regnal titles
Preceded by
Emperor Senka
Emperor of Japan:

Succeeded by
Emperor Bidatsu
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