Tochi no Himemiko (also pronounced Toichi no Himemiko) (十市皇女)

Tochi no Himemiko (653 [Some say 648] - May 3, 678) was the first Princess of Emperor Tenmu (Mother was Nukata no Okimi) and the lawful wife of Prince Otomo (Otomo no Oji) (Emperor Kobun).

Before the Jinshin Rebellion

She became the lawful wife of Prince Otomo (Emperor Kobun), an Imperial prince of Emperor Tenchi, and gave birth to Kadono no Okimi around 669. However, in the Jinshin Rebellion which occurred in 672, her father and her husband ended up fighting against each other. According to "Fuso Ryakki" (A Brief History of Japan), "Mizu Kagami (The Water Mirror)" and "Uji Shui Monogatari" (a collection of the Tales from Uji), she is considered to have released information at that time to Prince Oama (Oama no Miko), her father. There is an anecdote which tells, 'A secret letter was concealed in stuffed and baked crucian carp' in "Uji Shui Monogatari" (Vol.15.1). However, there is a strong possibility that the above espionage theory was made up in later ages in view of the facts that the stuffed and baked crucian carp was a local specialty of Omi Province and that the Takashina clan which appeared at the end of the anecdote was a descendant of Prince Takechi (Takechi no Miko).

After the Jinshin Rebellion

While she is thought to have put herself under the protection of her father (Emperor Tenmu) (Some say in "Manyoshu" [the oldest anthology of tanka] she became the lawful wife of Takechi), there is no doubt that she remained in a very complicated and awkward situation as the empress in substance of defeated Omi side or as an Imperial princess of the Emperor.

While almost no written records exist on what she was doing, she reportedly visited the Ise-jingu Shrine with Empress Genmei on March 17, 675. As for the purpose of the visit to the Ise-jingu Shrine by Tochi no Himemiko with Ahe no Himemiko (Princess Ahe), there are various views including the following three. The first one indicates that it was to make a report of victory in the Jinshin Rebellion to the Ise-jingu Shrine. The second one is based on the record in the Nihonshoki (Chronicles of Japan) that medicines and precious goods were presented to the Imperial court in February 675, so they were sent to the Ise-jingu Shrine to take those presented articles. The third one is based on the fact that Emperor Tenmu defeated Prince Otomo to ascend the throne and raised his own son Prince Kusakabe to the Crown Prince, so he made both wives of the Crown Princes report the change of crown prince to the Ise-jingu Shrine. Furthermore, Fufuki no Toji (who is thought to have been a lady's maid) is referred to in "Manyoshu" Book One as having written a poem for Tochi at that time. There is a view that, also in October in the previous year, Tochi no Himemiko went to Ise. In view of the record in the Nihonshoki that Oku no himemiko became an Ise Saigu (an unmarried princess serving at Ise-jingu Shrine) and went to Ise in great numbers around that time, there is a possibility that Tochi no Himemiko accompanied the touring group.

Afterward, it was decided that she became a Saigu of the Hatsuse Kurahashi no miya regardless of her being a widow, however, she suddenly died in the morning of May 6, 678, just the day of her departure. It is written in Nihonshoki that 'Tochi no Himemiko was suddenly taken ill and died in the court' and buried in Ako in Yamato Province on May 13. Her father, Emperor Tenmu is said to have cried at that time.

In the first place, why was Tochi no Himemiko who was a widow and experienced giving birth selected as Saigu who should be unmarried (virgin) woman?
About the above, some say that it was related to the fact that the period of mourning for Otomo was about to expire after seven years from the Jinshin Rebellion. Tochi no Himemiko was at the age of around 30 when she died and, about this sudden and mysterious death, there are theories that she killed herself and that she was assassinated.

Lamenting her death, Prince Takechi dedicated a passionate Banka (Elegy) ("Manyoshu" Book Two). Due to the above fact, there are theories that she was not on good terms with her husband, Prince Otomo and that she was a sweetheart or wife of Prince Takechi.
(On the other hand, some say that it was an unrequited love of Prince Takechi)

Burial ground of Tochi no Himemiko

While Nihonshoki mentions that the remains of Tochi no Himemiko were buried in Ako on May 13, 678, there are various theories on whereabouts the place name of Ako be located in Nara Prefecture and none of them has become established.

In view of the fact that Himezuka of Kagami-jinja Shrine adjacent to Shinyakushi-ji Temple (Takahata-cho, Nara City) has been handed down as 'Tomb of a highborn Himegimi (a princess),' a theory that Tochi no Himemiko was buried in this tomb is convincing.

At a place called 'Akabe' in Hirose-gun County (Koryo-cho, Kitakatsuragi-gun, Nara Prefecture) at the eastern foot of Umami Hill in the western part of the Nara Basin, there is 'Ako Tomb,' which is regarded as the tomb of Tochi no Himemiko.

There is an area called Hinokuma no Ouchi and Ako which includes the Tenmu/Jito Mausoleum, Nakaoyama-kofun Tumulus, Takamatsuzuka-kofun Tumulus and the Mausoleum of Emperor Monmu. Due to the above Ako being common to 'Ako,' there is another theory which presumes that the tomb of Tochi no Himemiko is located around that area.

Some say that Akao in Sakurai City, Nara Prefecture is 'Ako' and the only square tumulus among the Tomiyama Sanroku Kofungun (Tumuli at the foot of Mt. Tomiyama) nearby or No.2 tumulus among the Maitani Kofungun (Maitani tumuli) is her tomb.

Shinto shrines and legends relating to Tochi no Himemiko

Hime-jinja Shrine (Nara City)' was built in 1981 at Himezuka where Tochi no Himemiko is said to have been buried and she is still enshrined there. Many people from far away visit the shrine believing it as a god of marriage (matchmaking). Furthermore, near Himezuka, there is Ako-jinja Shrine, which some people regard as Haiden (worship hall) for Himezuka.

Tsutsumori-jinja Shrine (Otaki-machi, Isumi-gun, Chiba Prefecture) worships Tochi no Himemiko as a god. Tochi no Himemiko fled to Togoku (the eastern part of Japan, particularly Kanto region) accompanying Prince Otomo who was defeated in the Jinshin Rebellion, however, she was pregnant at that time. She made her way through the mountains and finally arrived at the place, however, after a difficult delivery (miscarriage), she died. It is said that villagers, feeling pity, held a funeral service for her taking every consideration and built a Shinto shrine at this place, and it is worshipped as a god for a smooth delivery.

Near the temple building site of Hoko-ji Temple (Misaki-cho Iwakuma, Isumi City, Chiba Prefecture), there is a Kofun (tumulus) called 'Tonozuka Himezuka' (Prince mound Princess mound). In view of the fact that Tonozuka is said to have been dedicated to Prince Takechi, some think that Himezuka was dedicated to Tochi no Himemiko.

Also in the vicinity of Kisarazu City, Chiba Prefecture, there remain what are said to be the burial mounds of Tochi no Himemiko and her children.

Although a legend of Tochi no Himemiko is said to have been handed down in Shingu-jinja Shrine (Nankoku City, Kochi Prefecture), it has been kept secret so far.

Although Kundoku (reading Chinese texts as Japanese texts) for the 156th poem '巳具耳矣自得見監乍共' includes the following three reading examples, none of these has become an established theory: (1) 'Even we met each other last year, there are many nights when we do not sleep together' (Zenchushaku [a comprehensive commentary]), (2) 'As the figure of the deceased appears in my dream, there are many nights when we do not sleep together' (Shichu [Personal Notes]) and (3) The same meaning as the above (2) (Koten Taikeihon [anthology of classical Japanese literature]).
As '共' (Tomo) of Manyogana (early Japanese syllabary composed of Chinese characters used phonetically) has never been used as conjunctions of 'domo' and 'tomo' indicating fixed conditions of paradox, both of the above reading have been interpreted as 'sleep together.'
Many view that she had a love affair (physical relationship) with Prince Takechi on the basis of the above interpretation.

Although Tochi no Himemiko left no poem of her own officially, there is a region where her own poem is handed down. On her way going down to Ise, Tochi no Himemiko visited Hata-jinja Shrine (Tsu City, Mie Prefecture) and composed a poem, 'With hail and strong wind it's a cold night, I sleep alone tonight here in Hatano,' which is handed down in this shrine as a legend.

[Original Japanese]