Prince Hachiko (蜂子皇子)

Prince Hachiko (562? - Nov 28, 641?) is the first prince of Emperor Sushun and the male cousin of Prince Shotoku. He is also known as Nojo Daishi (daishi being a title of respect given by the Imperial Court) and Kokai.


When Emperor Sushun, the father of Prince Hachiko, was assassinated by SOGA no Umako on November 3, 592, Prince Hachiko headed north by sea on a ship from Yura, Tango Province (which is now Kyoto prefecture) to flee from Umako. When he arrived at the present Yura, Tsuruoka City in Yamagata prefecture, he saw eight young ladies dancing to the sound of flute on a rock called the Butaiiwa (meaning the stage formed of rock) located at Yaotome Bay. Attracted by their beauty, he landed on the nearby seashore. The name of Yaotome Bay derives from the eight ladies at that time. After this, Prince Hachiko is said to have climbed the Hagurosan Mountain and acquired the Haguro Gongen deity guided from the seaside by a three legged bird (perhaps a sacred crow), and founded the Dewa Sanzan (three mountains of Dewa).

He started to be called the Nojo Daishi because he looked after the people of Haguro town well and removed distress from many of the people. It is said that many of his portraits that are left today look unearthly because he listened to the worries of many people. The tomb of the prince located at the Dewa Sanzan-jinja Shrine is the only imperial tomb in the Tohoku region and is still managed by the Imperial Household Agency. According to one theory, he died at the age of 91.

Personal History

Prince Hachiko was born in 562.

He escaped from the imperial court following the advice of Prince Shotoku in 585.

His father, Emperor Sushun, was murdered by SOGA no Umako on November 3, 592.

He reached the coast of Yaotome Bay in Yura and founded a shrine on the Haguroyama Mountain (Yamagata prefecture) in 593. He exercised ascetic practices in a cave beneath a cliff for 3 years. It is said that this is the root of Haguro Shugen (mountaineering ascetics). He then founded a shrine on the Gassan Mountain.

He built the Yudonosan-jinja Shrine on the Yudonosan Mountain in 605.

In 641, he passed away at the age of 80 at Haguro.

[Original Japanese]