Iitoyo no himemiko (飯豊青皇女)

Iitoyo no himemiko (440? - 484) was one of Imperial family (the royal family) during the end of fifth century, according to "A Record of Ancient Matter" and "Chronicles of Japan." She was an Imperial princess of Emperor Richu or a princess of Prince Ichinobe no Oshihano and after the death of the twenty-second Emperor Seinei she is said to have addressed affairs of state temporarily.


飯豊青皇女 is often written as 飯豊皇女 or 飯豊王女. Also written as 飯豊女王, 飯豊王, 飯豊郎女, 青海皇女, 青海郎女, 忍海郎女 and 忍海部女王. (All the readings of 飯豊皇女, 飯豊王女, 飯豊女王 and 飯豊王 are 'Iitoyo no himemiko'.
飯豊郎女 is read as 'Iitoyo no iratsume.'
飯豊青尊 is read as 'Iitoyo ao no mikoto.'
青海皇女 is read as 'Aomi no himemiko.'
青海郎女 is read as 'Aomi no iratsume.'
忍海郎女 is read as 'Oshinumi no iratsume.'
忍海部女王 is read as 'Oshinumibe no himemiko.')

Iitoyo' is an owl in ancient words and was the symbol of Chie (wisdom, knowledge) in ancient Greek. Oshinumi' is a place name Oshimi-gun in Katsuragi and the home ground for Iitoyo. Oshinumibe was bemin sei (the system of Yamato Dynasty) of Iitoyo's representative, but it seems to have been not just a department of peasants, but a department of manufacturers (mechanic company to produce items) including Ayahito clan. Aomi' is unknown (or 'aomi' of Aomi no iratsume or 'ao' of 'Iitoyo ao no mikoto' seem to be place names in Takahama-cho, Oi-gun, Fukui Prefecture).

Shoe no nyonin' (a women in blue cloth) in the reading of a family register of deaths in Shuni-e (Omizu-tori or Sacred Water-drawing Festival) or 'blue flag' in the makurakotoba (a set epithet) of Mt. Katsuragi and so on, the meaning of 'blue' is worth of considering.

Summary, Ryobo (mausoleum) and so on.

During the period between the twenty-second Emperor Seinei and the twenty-third Emperor Kenzo, she is said to have been an administrator and attracts attention as a pioneer of Empress (periodically, she was positioned between Empress Jingu and Empress Suiko). According to "Nihonshoki" (Chronicles of Japan), she is said to have experienced only one sex with a man in her life (Especially in "A Record of Ancient Matter" and "Chronicles of Japan" nothing is written, but maybe she had a masculine character).

She was buried in Kazuraki no hanikuchi no oka no misasagi, hanikuchi grave in Shoryoryo (the Bureau for managing imperial mausoleums) in "the Engishiki" (an ancient book for codes and procedures on national rites and prayers). The mausoleum is estimated as Kitahanauchi Otsuka kofun (tumulus) (large keyhole-shaped tomb mound, the entire length 90 meters) in Kitahanauchi, Katsuragi City, Nara Prefecture. However in "Nihonshoki," it was described as '陵' not as '墓, ' which means that she was regarded as Emperor, which is worth of noticing.

Existence years

Acceding to "Nihonshoki," the duration of administration was only about ten months and she passed away in November in Emperor Seinei 5 (484) (in fact, she was treated as Emperor, describing it as 'hogyo' [demise].)
However, some estimates that her administration was longer than a few years from the standpoint of denying the existence of the predecessor and successor Emperor Seinei and Emperor Kenzo. And as for her age, 'she is forty-five (45 years old),' was written in "Mizu Kagami (The Water Mirror)," and to calculate her age inversely based on this, it is Emperor Ingyo 29 (440), but it is not clear how it true to the historical fact.


Was she an Empress or not?

In "A Record of Ancient Matter" and "Chronicles of Japan" she was not regarded as Emperor, but in "Fuso Ryakki" (A Brief History of Japan) she was described as 'Emperor Iitoyo the fourth Empress,' in Honcho koin jounroku (the Emperor's family tree, made in the Muromachi period) as 'Iitoyo Emperor Oshinumibe princess,' and additionally in the apocryphal book "Sendai Kujihongi taiseikyo," there was even shigo (posthumous title) 'Emperor Seitei,' where she was treated as Emperor. In one theory she was regarded as Emperor in Kotofu (the genealogy of the Imperial Family), but it is not confirmed (and in another theory, she was deleted from the history because she had only one intercourse in her life as mentioned above.
From Meiji period to 1945, so-called in prewar times, 'she was not included in successive emperors, but was given the honorary title of Emperor.'

Was she a representative (Sessho, regent) of Emperor Seinei or was she a representative (Sessho, regent) of both Emperor Ninken and Emperor Kenzo?

According to "Nihonshoki," Emperor Ninken and Emperor Kenzo had already been discovered in the administration of Emperor Seinei and the successor issue was solved, but after the demise of Emperor Seinei, Oke no mikoto (億計尊) and Oke no mikoto (弘計尊) ceded the Imperial Throne and Iitoyo no himemiko engaged in state affairs in Oshinumi no tsunosashi no miya (Tsunosashi Shrine in Oshimi-gun, Katsuragi City, Nara Prefecture is the traditional place) and called herself 'Oshimi Iitoyo ao no mikoto.'
However in "Kojiki" (The Records of Ancient Matters), after the demise of Emperor Seinei, there was no Crown Prince and thus Iitoyo no himemiko addressed affairs of state, but later (that is, during her administration period) Oke no mikoto's brothers were found and she welcomed the brothers from Harima Province.

Like this, in "A Record of Ancient Matter" and "Chronicles of Japan" the history and description of facts differ. The problem of the theory of "Nihonshoki" is that Oke no mikoto's brothers had already been in Imperial Palace when Iitoyo no himemiko began her administration and on behalf of the brothers she just temporarily did administration and conveniently after her 10 months' administration, which was short for one year, she passed away and Emperor Kenzo was enthroned and thus there was no blank year between Emperor Seinei and Emperor Kenzo. This is suspiciously considered to be because "Nihonshoki" cut her administration period for its convenience of editing the years. In the case of "Kojiki", how the previous succession to the Imperial Throne was considered is not clear. If there was no successor of a son, the administration by Iitoyo no himemiko is a mere postponement of the problem and comparing with later Empress she was totally exceptional (thus, some theory think "Nihonshoki" was correct). On the contrary, estimating from the later Empress, as there was a predictor of a succession struggle among male Imperial families, she is thought to have tried to prevent or ease it in advance (at least at that time, there were two family lines such as Okinaga clan descending from Emperor Ojin whom the later Emperor Keitai belonged to and the family line descending from Emperor Chuai whom Yamato hiko no o belonged to and it is possible for her to have had the other male descendants). Her administration period is not known, but if it lasted for a long time she is said to have almost been an authentic Empress though a relay successor.

And Oke no mikoto brothers were hidden under the guardianship of Iitoyo from early on and some theories say that the discovery was just a setup, which is eclectic (the theory by Toshiaki WAKAI mentioned below is one of them). On the other hand, there are some theories that say the discovery was really accidental, admitting the credibility of structure and development of the story (the one by Fumio KAKUBAYASHI).

Place of origin: Emperor Richu's Princess or Imperial descendant?

In "Kojiki" and "Nihonshoki" and Richuki, her father was Emperor Richu and her mother was ASHIDA Sukune's (a child of KATSURAGI no Sotsuhiko. or Haneda Yatsushiro Sukune) wife Kurome no Iratsume and on the other hand, in 'Futei' cited in Kenshoki in "Nihonshoki," her father was Prince Ichinobe no Oshihano and her mother was KATSURAGI no Ariomi's wife Haehime.

She was not an administrator, but a miko (a shrine maiden) of takusen (oracle)?

The interpretation in "Kojiki" is further divided. According to Shinobu ORIGUCHI's interpretation, Iitoyo no himemiko was a miko or a mysterious figure near to it, and she did not administer but was asked for shintaku (oracle) 'who should be on the throne,' after the demise of Emperor Seinei, and she delivered an oracle of the name of Oke no mikoto brothers who had not been found at that stage.

However, it is not strange that there existed people who had a miko-type character in ancient female Imperial families like Empress Jingu or Yamato hime no mikoto and so on, but in "A Record of Ancient Matter" and "Chronicles of Japan" there is no description which suggests that Iitoyo no himemiko had a miko-type character and some theories say that you should be careful to emphasize her miko aspect too much. See the section of fu or kannagi (female spiritual medium) or shamanism, not of miko.

There were two Iitoyo no himemikos?

Some theories say that there were two Iitoyo no himemikos. That is, the theory says, genealogically, both 'the theory of Emperor Richu's Princess' and 'the theory of Prince Ichinobe no Oshihano's Princess' are right and Richu Princess was different person from Richu Imperial descendant and both were in the relation of aunt and niece. There are the theory by Teiji KADOWAKI and the one by Toshiaki WAKAI. The difference between them is that the aunt was Aomi no iratsume and the niece was Oshinumi no iratsume, Oshinumibe no himemiko and both of them were given another name (the one with 'Aomi' was the aunt [Imperial princess] and the one with 'Oshinumi' was the niece [princess]), according to the theory of Teiji KADOWAKI.
On the other hand, in the theory of Toshiaki WAKAI, the aunt (Imperial princess) was 'Aomi' and 'Oshinumi,' not Oshinumibe and Iitoyo, and the niece (princess) was 'Oshinumibe' and 'Iitoyoao,' not Oshinumi and Aomi (they share the two words 'Oshinumi' [忍海], but the one of aunt has no 'be' [部] while the one of niece has 'be.')
Thus, in the same two-persons theory, the interpretations of the difference of the two names differ among them.
(What is common is that the aunt was 'Aomi no iratsume' and the niece was 'Oshinumibe no himemiko.'
The opinion is divided between 'Iitoyo' and 'Oshinumi.'

The administer was a different person from an inquiry answerer? (the theory by Toshiaki WAKAI)

According to the above theory of Toshiaki WAKAI, 'the aunt Aomi no himemiko was asked questions regarding the successor, she just appointed Iitoyo no himemiko and Aomi no himemiko did not administer.
On the other hand, the niece Iitoyo no himemiko administered, but was not asked questions and she administered based on the appointment by Aomi no himemiko.'
And Aomi no himemiko was not a miko and she was simply asked questions regarding succession to the Imperial Throne, and answered the name of Iitoyo no himemiko and did not give an oracle.
And Oshinumibe (the folks of Aomi no himemiko) and Oshinumi were originally the one of Aomi no himemiko and 'when Ichibe no oshiha no miko was killed, Iitoyo no himemiko escaped under her aunt miya and the tradition that she had a sexual intercourse with a man was for the niece Iitoyo no himemiko.'

Mt. Iidesan in Fukushima Prefecture

At present, '飯豊' of Mt. Iidesan in Fukushima Prefecture is read as 'iide.'
As a typical theory of the origin of place name, 'ihitoyo' meant an owl in ancient words and probably in the sense of the mountain where owls live, 'ihitoyo yama' changed to 'iide yama' in later years. And there is a possibility that '豊' was read as 'te,' 'de,' 'temi,' 'demi,' 'tomi,' 'domi,' and so on in ancient times (in addition to this, concerning the origin of name of this mountain, there are many interesting theories, but they are not relevant to Iitoyo no himemiko and thus omitted. As for Mt. Iidesan, in "fudoki" (description of regional climate, culture, etc.), the following traditions are recorded.

Shirakawa gun.'
Mt. Iidesan.'
The mountain is Yuniwa of Toyooka-hime.'
And she made Iitoyo Ao no mikoto and Mononobe no omi dedicate gohei (staff with plaited paper streamers used in Shinto).'
He made it the name of mountain.'
Old man said that formerly in autumn in the year of the horse of Emperor Gyou (Ame no shita shiroshimeshishi) twenty-seven year in Makimuki no tamaki no miya, many people died from hunger.'
Thus, it was called Ue no yama (mountain of hunger).'
Later it was changed its name to houden (rich rice field) and Iitoyo.'

Iitoyo ao no mikoto who appears in this is the Iitoyo Princess for sure. Toyooka-hime referred to Toyoukehime in "A Record of Ancient Matter" and "Chronicles of Japan" and Emperor Gyou in Makimuki no tamaki no miya was Emperor Suinin.

And as for the place name of 'Iitoyo,' there are the ones across Tohoku region in addition to the Mt. Iidesan.
See the details in 'Iitoyo.'

Shrines related to 'Iitoyo.'

Iitoyo Hime-jinja Shrine' is in Shirakawa city, Fukushima Prefecture and the enshrined deity is Hime no kami.

In 'Aomi-jinja Shrine' in Takahama-cho, Oi-gun, Fukui Prefecture, there is a pond where Iitoyo Princess purified herself, and Shinto rituals related to tradition have been handed down.

Tsunosashi Shrine' in Katsuragi City, Nara Prefecture is said to have been remains of 'Tsunosashi palace' of Iitoyo Princess and in the shrine there is a pond which she used as a mirror.

In Mt. Iidesan in Fukushima Prefecture, as above mentioned, there is 'Mt. Iidesan Shrine.'

In 'Iitoyo Shrine' in Kami-cho, Kami-gun, Miyagi Prefecture, the big stone is regarded as goshintai (divine object).

In 'Iitoyo Shrine' in Ono-cho, Tamura-gun, Fukushima Prefecture, shishimai (a ritual dance by a performer wearing a lion's mask) is dedicated on November 3 of autumn festival.

[Original Japanese]