Emperor Richu (履中天皇)

Emperor Richu (circa 336 - April 29, 405) was the seventeenth Emperor who reigned from March 12, 400, to April 29, 405. His name was Oe no izahowake no mikoto (the term mikoto referred to a god or person of great importance), which was written as "大兄去来穂別尊" or "大江之伊邪本和気命" in Japanese. There is a theory which identifies him with the king of Wa (Japan), whose name was King San, one of the 'five kings of Wa' which appear in "So-jo" (literally, Book of Song [one of the Nanbeichao or the Southern Dynasties of China]), (whereas other theories identify Emperor Ojin or Emperor Nintoku with King San). Further, an article in "Kojiki" (literally, The Records of Ancient Matters) shows that Emperor Richu passed away at the age of 64 'on the third day of the New Year's in the year of Jinshin or Mizunoe-saru (according to the Chinese sexagenary cycle)' (in 432), and if this is correct, he should have reigned from 427 to 432, and as a result of back calculation the year of his birth should be, though uncertain, 369.


Oe no izahowake no mikoto, which was written as "大兄伊射報本和気命" in Japanese, according to "Harimanokuni Fudoki" (literally, Records of the Culture and Geography of the Harima Province).


Oe no izahowake no mikoto (the future Emperor Richu) was the firstborn son of Emperor Nintoku. His mother was Iwanohime, a daughter of KATSURAGI no Sotsuhiko.

Imperial Palace

It was Iware no wakazakura no miya Palace in the capital (the name of the palace can be seen in Wakazakura-jinja Shrine at Ikenouchi, Sakurai City, Nara Prefecture).

In February, 399, Emperor Nintoku passed away. Although Suminoe no nakatsu miko (or Suminoe naka no oji, the terms miko and oji refer to imperial prince) rebelled in an attempt to seize the Imperial throne, Oe no izahowake no mikoto ordered his younger brother, Mizuhawake (or Mitsuhawake) no miko (the future Emperor Hanzei) to kill the rebel and acceded to the throne in March, 400. In 401, Emperor Richu ordered Soga no machi, MONONOBE no Ikofutsu, HEGURI no Tsuku and KATSURAGI no Tsubura no o-omi to participate in governmental affairs. In September, 403, the Emperor placed secretaries called Fumihito in every province and let them report situations in the provinces. In February, 405, the Emperor established the positions of Kura no tsukasa (the emperor's treasure keeper) and Kurabe (lower-level officials in charge of managing the gain and loss of imperial treasures), (where "Kogo-shui" [historical record of the Inbe clan] indicated that the Emperor founded Uchikura [treasury of the imperial household],) but in April he died of illness at the Wakazakura no miya Palace. At his demise, he was either 70 years old (according to the "Nihon shoki"), 64 ("Kojiki"), or 67 ("Jinno shotoki" [literally, A Chronicle of Gods and Sovereigns]).

Hardship before Enthronement

According to the "Kojiki," before enthronement, Oe no izahowake no mikoto (the future Emperor Richu) escaped from Naniwa Kozu-gu Palace to Isonokami-jingu Shrine upon rebellion of Suminoe no nakatsu miko who, in the disguise of Oe, had deceived Oe's fiancee, Kurohime, and had intercourse with her.
(Kurohime is considered to have been a daughter of either HATA no Yashiro no Sukune or ASHIDA no sukune, and she is believed to have died abruptly in 404, allegedly due to god's curse.)
On the way of escape, Oe no izahowake no mikoto met a girl who advised him to take an circuitous route to avoid ambush, and at Isonokami-jingu Shrine he composed the following waka (a Japanese poem consisting of thirty-one syllables).

"Osaka ni au ya otome o michi toeba tada niha norazu tagimaji o noru" (In Osaka, when I met a girl whom I asked for directions, she did not show me a direct route but the Tagima-ji Route).

Here, "tada" means a direct route. The direct route refers to, in later years, a famous route to cross Mt. Ikoma (Tadagoe no michi Route), but in the case of Oe no izahowake no mikoto, as he was trying to go over the mountain via the Hanyu-zaka Pass (Habikino Hills), the route is thought to be somewhere around the present-day Anamushi-toge Pass. He met a girl in front of the Anamushi-toge Pass and asked her his way, and she taught him to get over the Takenouchi-toge Pass, which was far and located high above sea level, rather than the easier direct pass (Anamushi-toge Pass).

Compared to the Anamushi-toge Pass (north of Mt. Nijo or Futakamiyama) at an altitude of about 150 meters, the Takenouchi-toge Pass (south of Mt. Nijo) was at an altitude of about 300 meters and moreover, the latter is farther to the south by several kilometers). Isonokami-jingu Shrine in which he was trying to take sanctuary is located north east of the two passes, and therefore, the detour distance is twice the distance of the direct pass. When attacked by troops of rebellious Suminoe no nakatsu miko, Oe was sleeping drunk at the Naniwa no miya Palace and because he could barely mount on the horse with the help of his subordinate, he must have had a hangover which tormented him, together with the shock of the rebellion. This was really a hardship he had to go through before inheriting the sovereignty.

(Reference example: songs in the "Kojiki," Tadashi OKUBO, July 10, 1981, Kodansha, p.174)

Imperial Tomb and Mausoleum

He was entombed in Mozu no mimihara no minami no misasagi (mausoleum). It is identified with Kami-ishizu misanzai-kofun Tumulus (a keyhole-shaped tumulus with total length of 365 meters) located at Ishizugaoka-cho Town, Sakai City, Osaka Prefecture.

[Original Japanese]