Emperor Tenchi (Tenji) (天智天皇)

Emperor Tenchi (Tenji)
Empress Suiko (626) - Emperor Tenchi (Tenji) (January 10, 672)
The 38th Emperor
Kokufu Shigo is Amemikoto hirakasuwake no mikoto/Amatsumikoto sakiwake no mikoto
The first name is Kazuraki (Katsuragi). It is presumed that he was once called Kazuraki no miko (Katsuragi no miko). He is generally known as Nakano Oe no Oji (Naka no Oe no Miko). The "oe" means "prince," and "Nakano oe" means "second prince."

He was the second prince of Emperor Jome. The mother was Takara no Himemiko (later called Empress Kogyoku). The Empress was Yamatohime no Okimi, daughter of Emperor's half-brother, Furuhito no Oe no Miko. The Emperor Tenchi (Tenji) plotted a rebellion with NAKATOMI no Kamatari and seized power in a coup to kill SOGA no Iruka, by which his uncle Emperor Kotoku came to power and he became a prince. He established a new era--the Taika--and made many reforms during this period (he was a key person in the Taika reforms and Itsushi no hen). He devised a plan to trap an opposition group that included Arima no Miko, who might have caused a coup in the future, and they were executed.

As Baekje was destroyed by the Silla (Kingdom) and Tang in 660, the Baekje prince, Buyeo Pung, who was staying at the Imperial Court, was sent back to his country to save Baekje. The Emperor stayed at Tsukushi to send covert troops to Baekje, but Empress Saimei died in 661. Eventually, the Emperor took control of the government without having an enthronement ceremony, but then he was severely defeated in the Battle of Hakusukinoe and moved to Otsu City to be enthroned in 663. After the Battle of Hakusukinoe a castle surrounded by water was built, and Noroshi and Sakimori (the conscript soldier system in the old days) were organized to protect the territory. Moreover, the system of ranking officials was changed from 19 levels to 26 levels. In 670 the first national family registry, "Kogo-nenjaku," was introduced.

According to "Chronicles of Japan (Nihon Shoki)," the Emperor Tenchi (Tenji) wanted the first prince, Otomo no Miko, to be his successor. However, after the death of Emperor Tenchi (Tenji) his brother, Oama no Miko (Emperor Temmu), defeated Otomo no Miko in the Jinshin War (the Jinshin Disturbance) and was enthroned. Subsequently, Emperor Temmu's ancestry remained in power until Empress Shotoku. After the death of Empress Shotoku, Sirakabe no Okimi, a grandchild of Emperor Tenchi (Tenji) was enthroned as Emperor Konin and subsequently Emperor Tenchi's (Tenji's) ancestry stayed in power.

It is said that because Emperor Tenchi (Tenji) took Nukata no Okimi away from Oama no Miko (Emperor Temmu), he sent his four daughters to Oama no Miko (Emperor Temmu) to become princesses for an expiation.

Brief Personal History
Born in 626
Rittaishi (the ceremony to institute the Crown Prince) was held on July 15, 645. Politics began without having an enthronement ceremony August 27, 661. The enthronement was held on February 23, 668. He died on January 10, 672 at age 46.
(According to "Fuso-Ryakki", he died from an illness, but another explanation that has been offered is that he went missing in the mountains and that Emperor Temmu had him assassinated.)

It was one of the mysteries of the mid-seventh century that Emperor Tenchi (Tenji) did not stay in power for a long time. Various theories have been suggested in regard to the matter.

This was the consideration for setting up Emperor Temmu's backbone. There was an accepted theory that Emperor Temmu was a younger brother of Emperor Tenchi (Tenji), but this is denied; another theory is that Emperor Temmu was Aya no Miko, whom Empress Kogyoku had before she married Emperor Jomei, and that he was an older half-brother of Emperor Tenchi (Tenji). It is apparent that Emperor Temmu was older than Emperor Tenchi (Tenji) after tracing back their ages according to the Emperor Tenchi's (Tenji's) age at death in "Chronicles of Japan (Nihon Shoki)" and the Emperor Temmu's age at death in other history books. The information is consistent in the same historical records, and there are eight to nine years of age difference between the two emperors. Some people say that Emperor Temmu's age was purposely falsified since it was an embarrassing fact that the younger brother became the emperor before his older brother even though they are half-brothers with the same mother; but some argue that according to "Chronicles of Japan (Nihon Shoki)," Emperor Temmu's age was 16 when his father, Emperor Jomei, was enthroned, but it was said that he was 16 when his father died. Therefore, the Emperor's real year of birth is 614, according to the Royal Family Tree (Honcho-koin-jounroku). It was usual to have no successor to the Imperial Throne for some period (in fact, Emperor Tenchi (Tenji) and Empress Jito, who were in power before and after Emperor Temmu, took control of the government without having an enthronement ceremony). Some argue that this caused the errors in their ages. Some people have said that because "Chronicles of Japan (Nihon Shoki)" and other indicated history books are edited in different years and they are different in character, they cannot be treated alike." Please refer to the section "The Age of Emperor Temmu."

There is a theory that the Isshi no Hen was a coup caused by Karu no Miko (Emperor Kotoku), in which Naka no Oe no Oji (Naka no Oe no Miko) lost his position. It has recently been indicated that Naka no Oe no Oji (Naka no Oe no Miko) and Sogano Iruka had a relatively good relationship and similar basic policies. This way there is no reason that Naka no Oe no Oji (Naka no Oe no Miko) would have assassinated Iruka. Because there is falsification in the definition of Taika's reform in "Chronicles of Japan (Nihon Shoki)," this theory has become apparent. This theory gets a lot of attention because it can explain Empress Kogyoku's abdication or the reason that the Soga Family (except Iruka) was not displaced from politics after the coup.

There is a theory that the enthronement of Emperor Tenchi (Tenji) was delayed due to the complaints against his relationship with women. This is based on the theory that Emperor Kotoku sent a poem to his wife Hashihito no Himemiko (Emperor Tenchi's (Tenji) sister with the same mother) indicating that Emperor Tenchi (Tenji) was having an affair with her, which is contained in "Chronicles of Japan (Nihon Shoki)." In those days, romance and marriage were allowed between half-sisters and brothers from different mothers but not between half-brothers and sisters from the same mother; however, in the comic story "Tenjo no niji (The Rainbow in the Sky)," by Machiko SATONAKA, it is described that there was a romance involving this kind of forbidden love; Hashihito no Himemiko was persuaded to marry with Karu no Miko (Emperor Kotoku), but she kept the relationship with Emperor Tenchi (Tenji), and Arima no Miko was furious after knowing this and became angry at Hashihito no Himemiko.

There is a theory that Hashihito no Himemiko ascended the throne as the princess of the previous Emperor but one and became an Empress after the death of Empress Saimei; however, for some reason her name was erased from the record. In the Man'yoshu ("The Anthology of Myriad Leaves)," "Nakatsusumera-mikoto" is considered to be Hashihito no Himemiko, and it is said that the one named "Nakatsusumera-mikoto" was a temporary Emperor until the enthronement of Emperor Tenchi (Tenji). If Hashihito no Himemiko was the same person as "Nakatsusumera-mikoto," there is a question why only she had this special name; alternatively, it is said that this name could have been for Empress Saimei, but there is no proof.

It is hard to prove, since this is about political history with limited data; however, it is expected to have clearer information from close study in relation to the findings of archaeology.


The Emperor Tenchi (Tenji) was a poet who had four poems in "Man'yoshu (The Anthology of Myriad Leaves)." He was respected as the Emperor of the Heian dynasty, and one of his poems is found at the beginning of "One Hundred Waka Poems (the Ogura Anthology of One Hundred Tanka-poems by One Hundred Poets)."

I am sitting in the barn next to a rice field when rice is harvested in the autumn and my kimono sleeves get wet by night dew, as the roof of the barn is covered with rough-bladed hay.

The following poem is from "Man'yoshu (The Anthology of Myriad Leaves)."

In ancient days, Mt. Kagu-yama loved Mt. Unebi-yama and fought against Mt. Miminashi-yama for love; there is no doubt we still fight for love between wives, as it has been the same since the age of the gods.

[Original Japanese]