Emperor Yomei (用明天皇)

Emperor Yomei (circa 540 - May 21, 587) was the thirty-first Emperor (reigned from October 3, 585, to May 21, 587).

Tachibana no Toyohi no mikoto (the term mikoto is an honorific for gods and persons of great importance in ancient Japan), who was a paternal younger brother of Emperor Bidatsu, ascended the throne at Ikenohe (or Ikenobe) no miya Imperial palace to govern the whole country when he was 3 years old. The Emperor married Princess Ohogitashi-hime, a daughter to O-omi (a minister) Iname, and had a son named Prince Tame no miko.
(N.B. a god)
Then, the Emperor married his paternal half-sister named Princess Hashihito no anahobe no okimi and had a son named Prince Uetsumiya (also read Kamitsumiya) no Umayado no Toyotomimi no mikoto (also known as Shotoku Taishi).
(Following Prince Shotoku, the Emperor had four more children, and by marrying another princess he had two more children, as shown in the records.)
This Emperor
(N.B. He passed away on April 15th in the year of Hinoto hitsuji.)
The Imperial mausoleum, which had been in Iware no Ikenoue (the place name Ikenoue in Kanji refers to the present-day Wakigami in Nara prefecture), was transferred to Shinaga.
(The above passages were cited from the "Kojiki" [The Records of Ancient Matters].)
The Palace of Ikenobe was located in Shiki-gun County, Nara Prefecture. Uetsumiya no Umayado no Toyotomimi no mikoto was Prince Shotoku.

Japanese-style Posthumous Names and Other Names

In the "Kojiki" he is known as Tachibana no toyohi no mikoto.

In "Nihonshoki" (Chronicles of Japan) he is known as Tachibana no Toyohi no sumeramikoto (the term sumeramikoto is an honorific for emperors).

He was also known as Prince Oe and Prince Ikenobe.

Meanwhile, in some reference and history books, Emperor Yomei's name before his enthronement is referred to as 'Tachibana no Toyohi no miko.'
However, as this is a Japanese-style posthumous title, it should originally be considered mistaken.


He was the fourth son of Emperor Kinmei. His mother was SOGA no Kitashi-hime, a daughter to SOGA no Iname. He was the father of Prince Shotoku.

Asuka Period (from the twenty-seventh to thirty-seventh emperors)

Imperial Palace

It was the Iware no Ikenohe no Namitsuki no miya Palace (literally, a palace of two zelcova trees by Iware Pond) in the capital. The site of the palace may be present-day Abe or Ikenouchi in Sakurai City, Nara Prefecture.

Omuraji and O-omi (Ministers)

The positions of Omuraji (a kabane [hereditary title] that was given to the most powerful administrative ruler in ancient Japan) and O-omi (a highest officer in national politics of the Yamato dynasty) were continuously occupied by MONONOBE no Moriya and SOGA no Umako, respectively.


When the predecessor Emperor Bidatsu died, Tachibana no Toyohi no mikoto ascended the throne, thus becoming Emperor Yomei. Unlike Emperor Bidatsu, Emperor Yomei was loyal to Buddhism and respected the Buddhist law partly because he was a grandson of pro-Buddhist SOGA no Iname.

On the other hand, MONONOBE no Moriya, who felt a sense of danger as the leader of an anti-Buddhist faction, had close contact with Prince Anahobe, one of the sons of Emperor Kinmei. However, Emperor Yomei died of smallpox on April 9, 587 (cf. in the "Kojiki" the date of death was April 15 [old lunar calendar]). There are several theories about his age at death, and he reportedly died at the age of either 48 (based on a theory that he was born in 540) or 69 (based on a theory that he was born in 519).

Imperial Mausoleum

He was initially buried in Iware no ikegami no misasagi (mausoleum) and later reburied in Kochi no shinaga no hara no misasagi (known as Kasuga Mukaiyama Tumulus located in Oaza Kasuga, Taishi-cho, Minamikawachi-gun County, Osaka Prefecture.)

Metarishihiko in Shin To-jo (New Book of Tang)

"Zuisho" (the Book of the Sui Dynasty) vol.81, which is Retsuden (literally, a series of biographies) No.46, describes the ruler of Wa (supposedly, Japan) in the world of Dong Yi (eastern barbarians) (i.e. to the east of China), "whose surname was Ama, courtesy name Tarishihiko, and title okimi," which was later quoted in an article on Japan in the section of Dong Yi of "Shin To-jo" (New book of Tang) as "Yomei, who was Me-tarishihiko, first established diplomatic relations [between China and Japan (N.B. this Japan was allegedly distinguished from the kingdom of Wa)] in the sixth century" (N.B. the meaning of Me in Me-tarishihiko is controversial and some researchers insist that it refers to a navy or army secretary), thus suggesting that Tarishihiko should be identified as Emperor Yomei.


One theory has it that Prince Shotoku built Horyu-ji Temple in response to the Emperor Yomei's request, who was ill in bed and wished him to do so for attaining recovery from illness. As the father of Prince Shotoku, he appeared in various stories of the posterity, and Monzaemon CHIKAMATSU in the Edo period, for instance, published a Joruri work 'Yomei Tenno Shokunin Kagami' (The Mirror of Craftsmen of the Emperor Yomei).

He was the Emperor whose reign had been the shortest until Emperor Chukyo and Emperor Kobun were posthumously awarded the title of Emperor in 1870.

[Original Japanese]