Emperor Kenzo (顕宗天皇)

Emperor Kenzo (450 - June 2, 487) was the twenty-third Emperor, described in "Kojiki" (literally, The Record of Ancient Matters), "Nihonshoki" (literally, Chronicles of Japan), and "Harimanokuni Fudoki" (literally, Records of the Culture and Geography of the Harima Province), who reigned from February 1, 485, to June 2, 487. His names include Oke no sumeramikoto written as "弘計天皇" in Japanese (the term sumeramikoto refers to emperor), Kume no wakugo, Oke no miko written as "袁祁王" in Japanese, and Oke no iwasu wake no mikoto (the "Kojiki"), and also Oke no sumeramikoto written as "袁奚天皇" in Japanese (the "Harimanokuni Fudoki").

Oke no miko (the future Emperor Kenzo) was the third son of Ichinohe no oshiha no miko (who was the eldest son of Emperor Richu).

His mother was Haehime, a daughter of KATSURAGI no Ariomi. Emperor Ninken is his older brother.

In the "Nihonshoki," there is no description about his children (imperial princes and princesses). In the "Kojiki," there is a description that "he had no children."

Imperial Palace
It was Chikatsu asuka no yatsuri no miya Palace in the capital (the location of which is allegedly present-day Yatsuri, Asuka-mura Village, Takaichi-gun County, Nara Prefecture, or Asuka, Habikino City, Osaka Prefecture).
The "Kojiki" refers to it simply as 'Chikatsu asuka no miya.'

In 456, when his father was killed by Emperor Yuryaku, Oke no miko (which was written as "弘計王" in Japanese) escaped with his elder brother, Oke no miko (which was written as "億計王" in Japanese, who was the future Emperor Ninken,) and went into hiding. They went to Yosa-gun County, Tanba Province (the eastern half of Tango Peninsula in Kyoto Prefecture), thereafter moving to live in Akashi, Harima Province. Both brothers changed their names and called themselves collectively as Taniwa no warawa (kids of Tanba) and were exploited by Shijimi no miyake no obito (chieftain of the Imperially-controlled territory called Shijimino miyake) and engaged in farming of horses and cattle for a long time. In December, 481, the younger Oke no miko revealed that the two brothers were members of the imperial family at a banquet of a new house by means of a song and chant. Emperor Seinei, who had no children, was delighted to learn this, sent a messenger to meet them, welcomed the two princes into the Imperial court the next year (in 482), and in April he made the elder Oke no miko the Crown Prince and the younger Oke no miko an Imperial Prince.

After Seinei passed away in 484, Crown Prince Oke tried to pass the Imperial Throne to his younger brother Oke for his great achievement of revealing their social status, but younger Oke refused it. Giving the throne over to each other continued, and during that time, Iitoyo ao no himemiko (the term himemiko refers to imperial princess) carried out public administration. As a result, yielding to persuasion by his elder brother, the younger Oke acceded to the throne in February, 485. Holding memorial services for his father who was murdered without any crime and sometimes retaliating against the murderer Yuryaku, the Emperor is said to have conducted the affairs of the state with love for the common people, which arose from his experience of having had a tough time in far-off places. He passed away in June, 487. His age at death was 38, according to the "Kojiki" (on condition that he had supposedly reigned for 8 years) or 48, according to "Ichidai yoki" (literally, Summarized Chronicle of Each Reign). In addition, there is a story that before his enthronement, he made a night attack and murdered his rival Shibi no omi (of the Heguri clan) due to romantic complications (the "Kojiki").

Concerning The Reality of Existence
From long ago it has been pointed out that the story of discovery of the noble two brothers, the elder Oke no miko and the younger Oke no miko, is a typical Kishuryuri-tan (a type of folktales in which a young deity or nobleman gets over trials to be a god or a blessed) with a strong dramatic element and the story per se is hard to believe as the historical fact. As the memory keeper, there may possibly have been some entertainment groups which traveled around the Kinai region (the five capital provinces surrounding the ancient capitals Nara and Kyoto) with dancing and singing being their profession, suggesting a possibility that the material of the story may be product of the entertainment world which is far from the historical fact. From this standpoint, it is not clear why such a story was adopted by Kyuji (a record of old stories which served as a foundation of "Kojiki," etc.) but it is said that there was an intention that, by setting two Emperors Kenzo and Ninken, who were from Harima Province, as a historical precedent for Emperor Keitai who was from Echizen Province (or Omi Province), peculiarity of a candidate from a local area as a successor to the Imperial throne may be cast aside, which might bring a gap in the unbroken royal genealogy.

In recent years, theories have appeared which recognize historicity in this tradition. From stories that the brothers wandered around Kinai and chanted at a sacred celebration party for a new house, that the different name of the younger Oke, 'Kume no wakugo,' reminds Kumebe which inherits Kumemai dance, that the cheering refrain in Shinto music and dance numbers says 'Oke, Oke,' etc., there are recognized a slight ethnic background which goes back to that age and historicity of the story of discovery of the two princes, but opinions about the details are divided. According to a theory by Toshiaki WAKAI, because the discoverer of the two brothers, elder and younger Oke no mikos, was a person who belonged to "Oshinbe" (a group of court servants who worked for Iitoyo no miko's direct servants), it is presumed that the brothers had from earlier been hidden under protection of Iitoyo no miko and the discovery of them was a half expected outcome. In contrast, the theory of Fumio KAKUBAYASHI, for instance, recognizes believability of the framework and development of the story, and has it that the discovery was really by chance.

In addition, there are more than a few opinions that, even if the story of discovery of the two princes were not a historical fact, it is only that 'a story which is not a historical fact was appended' and it does not deny the Imperial lineage itself, thus advocating the actual existence of the two emperors who had been called Oke no miko.

Imperial Tomb and Mausoleum
The Emperor Kenzo was entombed in Kataoka no iwatsuki no oka no minami no misasagi (mausoleum). The mausoleum is identified with a large keyhole-shaped tumulus located at Kitaimaichi, Kashiba City, Nara Prefecture.

Additionally, there is Kenzo Ninken-jinja Shrine which enshrines Emperors Kenzo and Ninken as deities in Kizu, Oshibedani-cho Town, Nishi Ward, Kobe City. The nearest station is Kizu Station of the Shintetsu (Kobe Electric Railway) Ao Line (Hyogo Prefecture). In addition to this shrine, there are many other shrines that are supposed to have ties with the Emperor Ninken in Nishi Ward of Kobe City, Akashi City and Miki City.

[Original Japanese]