Imperial Princess Inoe (井上内親王)

Imperial Princess Inoe (717 - May 30, 775) was the first Princess of the 45th Emperor Shomu. She served as Saigu (the ancient imperial princesses serving at the Ise-jingu Shrine) and later became the empress of the 45th Emperor Konin. Another name is Inoue Haigo (deposed empress) or Yoshino empress.


She was appointed to Ise no saigu (Saigu of the Ise-jingu Shrine) by fortune-telling on October 10, 721 when she was five. She left the capital for Ise in 727, six years later. On February 5, 744, she was dismissed from the post of Saio (high priestess) and resigned due to the death of her younger brother Prince Asaka. After returning to Kyoto, she became the wife of Shirakabe no okimi (Emperor Konin). She was appointed from muhon (without a court rank) to nihon (the second court rank for Imperial Princes) in 747. She gave birth to Imperial Princess Sakahito in 754. Then she gave birth to Imperial Prince Osabe.

Emperor Konin enthroned on October 27, 770, and she became empress on November 6, in the same year. Her son Imperial Prince Osabe was formally installed as Crown Prince on February 16, 771.

On April 13, 772, she was removed from empress for the reason that she cursed Emperor Konin and Imperial Prince Osabe was also released from the crown prince on July 6, in the same year, and they were confined. Imperial Prince Yamanobe (later Emperor Kanmu) was formally installed as Crown Prince on February 2, 773, and Imperial Princess Inoe and Imperial Prince Osabe were confined in a confiscated house in Uchi-gun, Yamato-no-kuni (present Gojo City, Nara Prefecture) on November 12.

Imperial Princess Inoe and his son Imperial Prince Osabe died in the place where they were confined on June 3, 775. There is a theory which states that they were murdered because their death was unnatural.


It is unbelievable that Imperial Princess Inoe cursed her old-aged husband, Emperor Konin, because Imperial Prince Osabe was already formally installed as Crown Prince. All the more because Imperial Princess Inoe served God as Saio. Imperial Princess Sakahito (the daughter of Imperial Princess Inoe) was suddenly appointed to Ise no Saio (Saio of the Ise-jingu Shrine) at the age of 19 on December 15, 772, after the deposition of her mother Imperial Princess Inoe as empress and Imperial Prince Osabe as crown prince, a daughter of Imperial Princess Inoe, and there is a possibility that the incident was related to the appointment of Imperial Princess Sakahito to Saio. FUJIWARA no Nagate, Minister of the Left, who is said to have made efforts for the investiture of the Imperial Princess Inoe and the investiture of the Crown Prince Osabe, died on March 15, 771 and the regime shifted from the Northern House of the Fujiwara clan to the Ceremonial House of the Fujiwara clan, which is also worth paying attention.

There is a theory which states that the incident of Imperial Princess Inoe's curse on Emperor Konin was a plot of the Ceremonial House of the Fujiwara clan, such as FUJIWARA no Yoshitsugu and FUJIWARA no Momokawa, who attempted to install Imperial Prince Yamanobe as the Crown Prince (or that the Imperial Princess was brought to bay by their political power). ("Mizu Kagami" [The Water Mirror] contains a story that Emperor Konin told the empress, 'if I win, you give me a lady of great beauty. If I loose, I give you a young and strong man,' and the empress won, so his son Imperial Prince Yamanobe (later Emperor Kanmu) was introduced to her, and she got so attracted to the young prince, causing the incident. According to "Ichidai Yoki" (summary chronicle of each reign), Imperial Prince Osabe was a son who was given birth by Nyoju (court lady who serves in the inner palace) Agata no Inu Kai no Sukune Isamimi who was in the same family as the mother of Imperial Prince Inoe, and Imperial Prince Inoe took care of him as his son.

Repose of souls

Natural disasters occurred frequently after 776, and they were dreaded as the acts of the revengeful ghosts of the deposed empress and the deposed crown prince and a rumor started to circulate that the empress became a dragon. Emperor Konin reburied their remains and renamed their graves respectfully in 777. In addition, Imperial Princess Inoe was given a title of empress and her grave was renamed to become an imperial tomb at the occasion of restoring the impaired reputation of Emperor Sudo (Imperial Prince Sawara) in 800. Her imperial mausoleum is identified to be the Uchi no Misasagi Mausoleum in Kumiyama-cho, Gojo City, Nara Prefecture. She was later deitied in the Ryoan-ji Goryo-jinja Shrine.

[Original Japanese]