Prince Takechi (Takechi no Miko) (高市皇子)

Prince Takechi (Takechi no Miko or Takechi no Oji) (c.654 - August 13, 696) lived during the Asuka period of Japan and a son (the oldest son) of Emperor Tenmu. Reading in the old Japanese syllabary characters is the same. His title of honor was Nochi no Miko no Mikoto.

When the Jinshin War broke out in 672, Prince Takechi was in Otsukyo in Omi Province. Whe he came to know the raising of an army, he escaped from the Otsukyo and joined his father. Although he was young, he was given full authority for military operations in Fuwa-gun County, Mino Province and won a victory in battle. In 679, he participated in the Yoshino Pact under Emperor Tenmu and swore sibling cooperation. After that, he was frequently dispatched to make a call of condolence together with other princes. When Empress Jito ascended the throne, he was appointed as Daijo-daijin (Grand minister of state), and afterward, he was promoted to the top position for the members of the Imperial family except Emperor and Crown Prince and the retainers.

He was the first son of Emperor Tenmu and his mother was Munakata Amako no Iratsume. The father of his mother was MUNAKATA no Kimi Tokuzen. His lawful wife was Minabe no himemiko, a daughter of Emperor Tenchi (an older maternal half-sister of Empress Genmei) and a child between them was Prince Nagaya (Nagaya no Okimi). The other children were Prince Suzuka (Suzuka no Okimi), Princess Kawachi (the title given to an imperial lady of legitimate birth in the male line within three generations and without the imperial proclamation for an entitlement of an Imperial Princess) and Princess Yamagata. According to Manyoshu (the oldest anthology of tanka), Tajima no himemiko, younger paternal half-sister stayed in the same residence. If it was true, Tajima no himemiko was possibly a wife or adopted daughter of Prince Takechi. Furthermore, since Prince Takechi dedicated a passionate Banka (Elegy) when Tochi no Himemiko, his older paternal half-sister and wife of Emperor Kobun suddenly died, some say that this couple was possibly the lovers or husband and wife.


Jinshin War

When the Jinshin War broke out, Prince Takechi was in Otsukyo in Omi Province living separately from his father who was in Yoshino no miya. Prince Oama (Oama no Miko) who made a move on July 27 sent OKIDA no Esaka as an envoy to Prince Takechi and Prince Otsu to inform them of the situation and ordered them to meet him in Ise Province.

The two princes went separate ways, and Prince Takechi caught up with his father in Tsumue yamaguchi on July 28 going over Kafuka. Kafuka was located in Koga County and Tsumue is Tsuge, Ae County in Iga Province. The followers at that time were TAMI no Ohi, AKASOME no Tokotari, OKURA no Hirosumi, SAKANOUE no Kunimaro, FURUICHI no Kuromaro, TAKEDA no Daitoku and IKAGO no Ahe. Prince Takechi remained and joined the party of Prince Oama. Prince Otsu arrived late at Suzuka no Seki and joined the party successfully.

On July 29, the party met with MURAKUNI no Oyori before Kori no miyake, Asake County in Ise Province. Oyori reported that a troop of 3000 soldiers of Mino Province was able to block off the Fuwa road. Prince Oama, after his arrival at Kori no miyake, sent Prince Takechi to Fuwa County to let him control military affairs and sent an envoy to him to mobilize troops to Tokai and Higashiyama regions.

On July 30, Prince Takechi sent an envoy from Fuwa to his father staying in Kori no miyake in Kuwana Countyappealing as follows: 'It is inconvenient to control this region as it far away from the Imperial Palace (Gosho).
Please stay nearby.'
Then, Prince Oama moved to Nogami. On that day, the ambushed troops laid in Fuwa captured the enemy's envoy, FUMI no Kusuri and OSHISAKA no Omaro who came from the west. Prince Takechi went to Nogami from Wazami to meet his father and made a report on the enemy's messengers.

According to the diaries of TSUKI no Omi and ATO no Chitoko quoted by "Shaku Nihongi" (annotated text of the Nihon Shoki), Prince Oama at that time asked Chinese people under Tang as follows:
There are many battles in your country.'
You may know good tactics.'
One person voluntarily answered as follows:
In Tang, we first send Kenja and Kanja to check the terrain level or difficult.'
Our military forces sometimes make night attacks and day attacks, but we do not know about sophisticated tactics.'
And then, the scene changed to the following one in Nihonshoki (Chronicles of Japan).

Prince Oama said to Prince Takechi as follows:
In the Omi Court, Sayu-daijin (the Minister of the Left and the Minister of the Right) and a crowd or large number of retainers or subjects of resourceful strategy have meetings where they make decisions.'
Now, I have no one to consult with.'
I have only young children.'
I am wondering how to deal with this matter.'
Prince Takechi, with a sword tightly held in his hand tucking up his sleeve, answered as follows:
Even a crowd or large number of retainers or subjects in the Omi Court is large, how can they offend the spirit of Your Majesty.'
Even if Your Majesty is alone, here, your subject, Takechi will, with the help of gods of heaven and earth, lead our warlords and defeat our enemy to protect your life.'
How can they defend themselves against this?'
Prince Oama, in praising him, took Tekechi's hand and gave him a pat on the back, saying, 'Be cautious and don't relax.'
Prince Oama, then, gave Takechi a saddled horse and gave him full authority of the military affairs.

Prince Takechi came back to Wazami and Prince Oama built his Angu (Emperor's temporary abode) in Nogami. Wazami refers to Wazamigahara which later came to be called Sekigahara basin. Fuwa-no-seki checking station was located at the western entrance of the basin and Nogami was on the eastern edge. The troops of Prince Oama coming from various places are considered to have got together in Wazami and placed under the command of Prince Takechi.

On the 31st, Prince Oama went to Wazami where he inspected the military affairs, and went back. Also on August 1, he came to Wazami where he gave an order to Prince Takechi and gave a command to the troops, and went back to Nogami, again.

Although the date was unknown, in early August, a small force of the enemy attacked Tamakurabe no mura, but IZUMO no Koma repelled the attack.

On August 3, Prince Oama dispatched two troops that each had tens of thousands of soldiers. One went from Ise Province to Wa (Yamato Province) to reinforce the troops of OTOMO no Fukei and the other one directly entered Omi Province from Fuwa. In the battles after this operation, the name of Prince Takechi was not found in any historical materials. While it would be natural to understand that he was with the advancing troops upon Omi and put the actual military command into the hands of the warlords, it would not be impossible to understand that he stayed in Wazami to receive the troops from more distant places.

On August 24, Prince Otomo (Emperor Kobun) killed himself and the Jinshin War ended. On September 25, Prince Oama made Prince Takechi punish the Omi retainers.

Era of Emperor Tenmu

Since the princes other than Prince Takechi were young (Even the oldest Prince Osakabe (Osakabe no Miko) was around ten years old) immediately after the Jinshin War, it would be certain that Prince Takechi filled important positions in the government under Tenno Sippe Politics (pro-imperial family politics) of Emperor Tenmu.

The article of November 29, 675 in "Nihonshoki" (Chronicles of Japan) already mentioned that 'Daifu lower than Prince Takechi and higher than Shokin were given Kinu, Hakama (formal divided skirt for men), Hirami, waistband, Ashiobi, Tsukue and Tsue (stick).'
At this point, Prince Takechi may have already been ranked highest among the members of the Imperial family and the vassals.

On June 22, 679, Emperor, Empress (Empress Jito), Prince Kusakabe, Prince Otsu, Prince Takechi, Prince Kawashima, Prince Osakabe and Prince Shiki agreed to help each other in Yoshino no miya (Yoshino Pact). On the 26th, the six princes paid their respects before the Emperor in front of Otono (palace). Emperor Tenmu is considered to have made the above arrangements for fear that a succession struggle like the Jinshin War would occur after his death.

Around that time on, Prince Takechi was regarded as the third among the princes of Emperor Tenmu (He followed Prince Kusakabe and Prince Otsu whose mother were Imperial princesses In the ranking by the status of mother, he was the eighth out of ten). Furthermore, around that time on, sons of Emperor Tenmu were frequently made to visit sick people or to make calls of condolence. On June 25, 680, Prince Takechi, together with Prince Otsu, was sent to make a call of condolence when a priest called Koso of Asuka-dera Temple died. On August 28 in the same year, when illness of Prince Toneri (Toneri no Miko) got worse, Prince Takechi was sent to inquire after his condition. When Prince Toneri died on the next day, Prince Takechi and Prince Kawashima were sent to make a call of condolence. When a priest referred to as Emyo died on December 16, 680, three princes were sent to make a call of condolence. Prince Takechi is considered to have been one of them. On August 20, 682, Prince Kusakabe and Prince Takechi were sent to KASHIWADE no Maro to inquire after his condition.

On March 4, 685 when a system of forty eight court ranks was instituted, Prince Takechi was given the rank of Jokoni. Prince Takechi was ranked as the third among the princes of Emperor Tenmu after Prince Kusakabe and Prince Otsu.

On February 3, 686, Emperor Tenmu held a party at Daigokuden (Council Hall in the Imperial Palace). On this occasion, the emperor said that he would reward anyone who solved a riddle he made up. Prince Takechi gave a right answer and received three pieces of Kinu of Shinso (Japanese-alder dyed), two pieces of Hakama of Japanese brocade, 20 pieces of thick silk fabric, 50 kins of yarn, 100 kins of cotton and 100 pieces of cloth.

On September 9 in the same year, Prince Takechi, together with Prince Kusakabe and Prince Otsu, was given an additional compensation of 400 households.

Daijo-daijin (Grand Minister)

Immediately after the death of Emperor Tenmu, Prince Otsu who was regarded to have succession right of the Imperial Throne after the Crown Prince was accused of a rebellion and executed. And then, Prince Kusakabe, the Crown Prince, died on May 10, 689. Therefore, Uno no Sarara no Himemiko who had administered government affairs as the wife of Emperor Tenmu ascended the throne on February 17 in the next year (690). She was Emperess Jito. On August 18 in that year, a sweeping shake-up was carried out and Prince Takechi was assigned as Daijo-daijin (Grand Minister). From that time until his Kokyo (death of a man of upper than Third Rank), Prince Takechi was held in high respect as the head of the Imperial family and the vassals, and supported the Jito administration.

On December 8, 690, Prince Takechi made an on-site inspection of the planned construction site for Fujiwara Palace taking many government officials along him.

On February 19, 691, Prince Takechi was given an additional compensation of 2000 households which made it 3000 households in total. The difference from the compensation of 400 households in 686 was 600 households, which was unknown when added. On February 10, 691, Prince Takechi was given an additional compensation of 2000 households which made it 5000 households in total.

On February 15, 693, he was promoted to the rank of joko ichi no kurai (the first rank of joi yoshina, four rank of joi, which corresponds to Shoshiinoge, Senior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade in ranks for Shoo and shoshin, vassal of Taiho Ritsuryo, Taiho Code).

On August 16, 696, he suddenly died. According to Shoryo (mausoleums) in "the Engishiki" (an ancient book for codes and procedures on national rites and prayers), his tomb is 'Mitate no Oka no Haka' which is located in Hirose-gun County, Yamato Province and is six cho from east to west and four cho from north to south without Shuko (a guard in charge of the protection of a mausoleum). Some say, however, the tomb owner of the Takamatsuzuka Tumulus is Prince Takechi.

Banka (Elegy)

In poems NO. 199 - 202 of Book Two of Manyoshu (the oldest anthology of Japanese poetry), the longest in Manyoshu and spectacular Banka (Elegy) by KAKINOMOTO no Hitomaro for Prince Takechi was contained. In that part, he was referred to by honorific titles as 'Takechi no Miko no Mikoto' and 'Nochi no Miko no Mikoto' as if he had been the Emperor. In view of these honorific titles, some say that he was installed as Crown Prince.

Due to the fact that KAKINOMOTO no Hitomaro dedicated such spectacular Banka (Elegy) as those, the two persons are said to have been on friendly terms with each others.

Theory of Emperor Takechi

Due to the factors including the existence of the above Banka, Mokukan (narrow, long, and thin pieces of wood strung together that were used to write on in ancient times) of 'Palace of Prince Nagaya, offering ten pieces of abalone' which was found at the ancient site of the residence of Prince Nagaya, political situations, great achievements in the Jinshin War, the power of his mother's family and huge assets, some say he was Emperor, but not certain.

Poems relating to Prince Takechi

Book Two of Manyoshu, poems 156 - 158 (Banka composed by Prince Takechi for Tochi no Himemiko) * These three are only poems composed by himself.
Book Two of Manyoshu, poems 199 - 202 (Banka composed by KAKINOMOTO no Hitomaro for Prince Takechi)

[Original Japanese]