Imperial Prince Osabe (他戸親王)

Imperial Prince Osabe (761 ? - June 3, 775) was a member of the Imperial family and Crown Prince in the late Nara period. His father was Emperor Kojin (Shirakabe no okimi at that time) and mother was Imperial Princess Inoe. He was a grandchild from a daughter married into another family of Emperor Shomu.

As for his year of birth, "Mizu Kagami (The Water Mirror)" and "Ichidai Yoki" (summary chronicle of each reign) reported that he was born in 761, but in this case, Imperial Princess Inoe gave birth to him when she was 45 years old, this is questionable, so that many historians believe that the correct year of birth is 751. Even considering that the first time he was reported in "Shoku Nihongi" (Chronicle of Japan Continued) was after his father, Emperor Konin, ascended the throne even then that he was considered the closest crown prince to the Imperial Throne after Emperor Koken and Emperor Shotoku died (this means that there is no record he was conferred to any position) and his sister, Imperial Princess Sakahito was born when her mother, Imperial Princess Inoe was 37 years old, so we cannot exclude the possibility of late childbearing even it was very rare case at that time. Therefore, we give you a explanation based on theory on the Imperial Prince Osabe born in 761.


Shirakabe no okimi, father of the Imperial Prince was a grandson of Emperor Tenchi. Since the Imperial Throne was transferred to Emperor Tenmu family for a long time, Okimi himself was considered an ordinary person who was a Dainagon (Major Counselor) as he was a patriarch of the imperial family. However, in Emperor Shotoku era, there was no candidate from the Emperor Tenmu family to ascend the Throne since they had been purged due to internal conflict over the succession to the Imperial throne.

After Emperor Shotoku died, FUJIWARA no Nagate and other members of the Fujiwara clan supported Shirakabe no okimi, father of Osabe no okimi, as the successor to the Imperial Throne. Then Shirakabe no okimi took over the throne and became Emperor Konin in 770.

On February 16, 771, Imperial Prince Osabe became a crown prince of Emperor Konin. On March 15, 771, within a month, FUJIWARA no Nagate died, and FUJIWARA no Yoshitsugu from Shiki family took a governmental post and assumed the reins of government, the destiny of Crown prince Osabe changed drastically.

In 772, his mother, Empress Imperial Princess Inoe was dethroned on the charge of high treason for cursing her husband and Crown prince Osabe was subsequently demoted for his involvement in that case on June 16, 772. On November 13, 773, Imperial Princess Inoe was accused of cursing the Imperial Princess Naniwa (older maternal half-sister of Emperor Konin) and Imperial Prince Osane and his mother were confined in a confiscated house in Uchi district, Yamato province (current Gojo city, Nara prefecture). He died suddenly together with his mother in that house on June 3, 775. It is generally understood that the series of incidents was a conspiracy implemented by Fujiwara Shikike (a sub branch of Fujiwara family) who supported Imperial Prince Yamanobe assuming Crown Prince.

After Imperial Prince Yamanobe became Crown Prince and later Emperor Kanmu, a number of natural disasters occurred after the death of Imperial Prince Osabe and an imposter of the Imperial crown prince appeared in Suo Province in 779, both Emperor Konin and Emperor Kanmu were troubled by 'the vengeful spirit of Imperial crown Osabe.'

[Original Japanese]