Osakabe no Miko (Prince Osakabe) (忍壁皇子)

Prince Osakabe (year of birth unknown - June 2, 705) was a member of the Japanese Imperial Family from Asuka period. He was the prince of the Emperor Tenmu and his mother was the daughter of Shishihito no Omiomaro. His siblings were the Prince Shiki, the Princess Hatsusebe and the Princess Taki. His name is written in three ways in Japanese Kanji characters; 忍壁皇子, 忍坂部皇子 or 刑部親王. His official court rank was Sanbon (the third rank of the Imperial Princes' rank) Chidaijoukanji (Deputy Prime Minister). He was married to the Princess Asuka and became the father of Yamasaki no Miko and Jusanmi Kashiwade no kami (Junior Third Rank, a director of Kashiwade no Tsukasa [Table Office]) Ohase no Joo. His year of birth is unknown but "Shoku Nihongi"(Chronicle of Japan Continued) mentions that he was the ninth prince. However, there is a different opinion that he might be the forth Prince.


In 672 at the Jinshin war, the Prince Osakabe went to Togoku (the eastern part of Japan, particularly Kanto region) from Yoshino following his father, the Emperor Tenmu. In 674, he was dispatched to Isonokami-jingu Shrine, and made the weapons of shinpo (sacred treasure) polished with koyu oil (viscous oil). In 679 at Yoshino no miya, he joined the Oath in Yoshino vowing never to cause such calamitous war, the Jinshin War, to happen. On April 13, 681, the Prince Osakabe, together with the Prince Kawashima, Minu no Okimi, INBE no Kobito and NAKATOMI no Oshima were assigned for the task of recording and authorizing the 'Teiki oyobi Joko no Shoji' (the genealogy of the Imperial family and matters of the high antiquity).

In 685, the Prince Osakabe received the rank of Jodaisan (Greater Third Pure), according to the revised ranking code, Kan I Shijuhakkai (48 grades of cap rank). His fuko (a vassal household allotted to courtier, shrines and temples) was raised by 100-households in 686. In July of that year, Asuka Kiyomigahara no miya partially caught a fire, which presumably caused by the accidental fire started from the palace of the Prince Osakabe. As the Prince Takechi passed away in 696, the Prince Osakabe became the oldest prince among the princes of the Emperor Tenmu, and became a representative figure in the Imperial Family. There is no precise historical records about the achievement of the Prince Osakabe during the reign of the Empress Jito, but Jugo KUROIWA argues that Fujiwara no Fuhito suggest the prince, who was lamenting over his misfortune since the empress disliked him, to support the enthronement of the Emperor Monmu, the nephew of the Prince Osakabe, then he finally could return to political world.

Later, in July 699, the Prince Osakabe conducted the selecting and compiling the Taiho Ritsuryo (Taiho Code), which was completed the following year. He was appointed to Daijo-daijin (Grand minister of state) in 703. He passed away in May 705.

There is a theory that Takamatsuzuka Tomb was built for the Prince Osakabe.

[Original Japanese]