Emperor Nintoku (仁徳天皇)

Emperor Nintoku (257-February 7, 399) was the sixteenth Emperor of Japan, who was in the reign from February 14, 313 to February 7, 399. There are various theories whether he was an actual person or not.

According to the Oriental zodiac of the year of the demise described in Kojiki (The Records of Ancient Matters), the demise of Emperor Ojin was in 393 and the demise of Emperor Nintoku was in 427, the difference corresponding to the period of the reign. His names include Osasagi no mikoto ("Kojiki"), Osazaki no mikoto, Osazaki no Sumeramikoto, Holy Emperor ("Nihonshoki" [Chronicles of Japan]), and Emperor Nanba ("Manyoshu" [the oldest anthology of tanka]).

After the demise of Emperor Ojin, he and Prince Iratsuko Ujinowaki, who was regarded as the most likely successor to the Imperial Throne, tried to give the throne over to each other but, because of death of the Prince (according to "Nihonshoki," the Prince killed himself in order to give the throne to Emperor Nintoku), he acceded to the throne. The throne was vacant for this three years.

The reign of Emperor Nintoku is known for benevolent rule, the Chinese-style posthumous name, 'Nintoku,' originating from this, as can be seen from an anecdote written in the Kojiki and Nihonshoki that he exempted people from taxes after he noticed that no smoke of cooking was coming out of the house furnaces and, in order to save money, he didn't have the palace roof renewed during the tax exemption period.

On the other hand, however, it is interesting that the Kojiki and Nihonshoki describe his humane aspect as an amorous Emperor who was tormented by jealousy of his Empress. In addition, a part of his achievements overlap with and resemble those of Emperor Ojin and, thus, there is a theory that achievements of one Emperor were divided among the two. Also, in "Harimanokuni Fudoki" (Records of the culture and geography of the Harima Province), he is described as Emperor Osazaki and Emperor Nanba, making it conceivable that achievements of two Emperors were combined into one.

In the beginning of a paragraph on Nintoku in Nihonshoki, he is described as a grandchild of Prince Iokiiribiko (younger brother of Emperor Seimu) but this description contradicts the article in the beginning of a paragraph on Ojin in Kojiki. Namely, the father of the mother of Osazaki, Nakatsuhime, is written as Homudamawaka, the son of Iokiiribiko (in this case, Osazaki corresponds to the great-grandchild of Iokiiribiko). This contradiction suggests that the pedigree record from Ojin to Nintoku is obviously made up.

Additionally, there is a theory which identifies him with San or Chin of the 'five kings of Wa' described in "Sosho" (Book of the Sung dynasty) Wakokuden but this is not definite.

He was the fourth Prince of Emperor Ojin. His mother was Nakatsuhime no mikoto, the daughter of Homudamawaka no miko.

Imperial Palace

The capital was Naniwa no Takatsu no miya Palace (probably the present Chuo Ward, Osaka City, Osaka Prefecture).


In Nihonshoki, the following achievements are described.

In order to prevent flood disasters and to carry out development, he had Horie of Nanba dug and had Manda no tsutsumi (Manda Levee; in the vicinity of Neyagawa City, Osaka Prefecture) built. These are said to be the first large-scale civil engineering projects in Japan.

He had an irrigation waterway built in Kurukuma no agata (from northwest of Joyo City, Kyoto Prefecture to Kumiyama Town, Kuse County).

He established Mamuta no miyake (Imperial-controlled territory).

He had Wani no ike Pond (Nara city?) and Yokono Levee (Ikuno Ward, Osaka City) built.

As an irrigation waterway, he had Komuku no omizo (a large ditch) dug (around Kanan Town, Minamikawachi County, Osaka Prefecture) and had a vast agricultural field reclaimed.

He sent Kinotsuno no Sukune (the third highest of the eight hereditary titles) to Kudara (Paekche) to, for the first time, divide the boundary of the province and district and record the provincial products.

Original text (abbreviated).

In addition, Kojiki describes as follows.

In the reign of this Emperor, he decided Katsuragibe as Minashiro (feud) of the Empress Ishi no hime no mikoto, Mibube as Minashiro of Prince Izahowake no mikoto, Tajiibe as Minashiro of Mizuhawake no mikoto, Okusakabe as Minashiro of Okusaka no miko, and Wakakusakabe as Minashiro of Wakakusakabe.

Also, employing Hata people, he had Manda no tsutsumi and Manuta Miyake (imperial-controlled territory) constructed, had Wako no ike Pond and Yosami ike pond made, had Horie of Naniwa dug to the sea, and Obashi no e Port dug, and had Suminoe tsu Port established.

Year of Demise

The age of this Emperor was 83. Note: On August 15 of the year of Hinoto-U (one of the Oriental Zodiac), he passed away' ("Kojiki").

On February 7, 399, the Emperor passed away' ("Nihonshoki").

Imperial Mausoleum
He was entombed in Mozu no mimihara no naka no misasagi (mausoleum). The origin of the name is that, during construction of the imperial mausoleum, a deer ran in from the field and fell dead. From the ear of that deer, mozu (a shrike) came out and, based on this, the place was named as mozu mimi hara (shrike ear field) (in addition, mozu is the bird of Osaka Prefecture).
Also, to the north and south of this kofun (tumulus), there are big tumuluses (the north tumulus is Emperor Hanzei mausoleum and the south tumulus is Emperor Richu mausoleum) and this one is named 'the center mausoleum.'

In the paragraph on Shoryoryo (the Bureau for managing imperial mausoleums) of "Engishiki" (an ancient book for codes and procedures on national rites and prayers), it is written that 'Mozu no mimihara no naka mausoleum is located in Otori County, Izumi Province. The area spans about 900 m from east to west, and 900 m from north to south. There are five guard houses,' and the mausoleum is identified with the Daisenryo Tumulus (a large keyhole-shaped tumulus, total length 486m, also called as Daisen Tumulus or Oyama Tumulus), located in Daisen Town, Sakai Ward, Sakai City, Osaka Prefecture. Also in "Kojiki," it is described that 'the Imperial Mausoleum was located in Mozu no Mimihara' and "Nihonshoki" describes that it was Juryo (a grave built while alive) and further ' he was entombed in the Mozuno mausoleum on November 22, 399' but because there are some people who question academically whether it is the Emperor Nintoku mausoleum, it has recently become general to use names such as (Legendary) Nintokuryo Tumulus, Daisenryo Tumulus, etc.

[Original Japanese]