Tsubokiri no Mitsurugi (the sword Tsubokiri) (壺切御剣)

Tsubokiri no Mitsurugi is hoken (treasured sword) which has been handed down to the successive Crown Princes in Japan. This is also called Tsubokiri no Tachi (Tachi also means the sword). The Imperial Prince Naruhito holds this sword at present.

This sword was originally handed down to FUJIWARA no Mototsune, kanpaku (a chief advisor to the Emperor), from his father-in-law, FUJIWARA no Yoshifusa. Mototsune presented this sword to Emperor Uda, and the Emperor gave it to Imperial Prince Atsugimi (later Emperor Daigo).

Thereafter, the sword Tsubokiri has been handed down to the present day for generations as a symbol of the Crown Prince. The sword is believed to be close to the Three Sacred Treasures of the Imperial Family which have been succeeded by past emperors along with the Imperial Throne.

In 1068 (or 1143) when the Imperial Palace was destroyed by fire, this sword was reduced to ashes and was replaced by another sword; however, since the replaced sword was lost again when the Jokyu War occurred, a new sword was forged. Since the lost sword was found in hozo (treasure house) of Shokomyo-in in 1258, the use of the newly forged sword was abolished, and the found sword named Jiryaku no Tsurugi has been treated as hoken, and handed down until the present day.

Imperial Prince Atsuakira
In around 1014, since he became unable to engage in government affairs due to an eye disease, Emperor Sanjo was requested to pass the throne on to Imperial Prince Atsuhira by FUJIWARA no Michinaga, Sadaijin (minister of the left) who was in charge of nairan (a preliminary inspection of official documents submitted from the Great Council of State to the Emperor) at that time. The Emperor consistently refused such request; however, since the Imperial Palace caught fire in succession during this time, Michinaga applied the logic that the successive fires resulted from the Emperor's immorality. Michinaga gave up during negotiations for about one month, and it was decided that the next Crown Prince would be Imperial Prince Atsuakira, the first son of Emperor Sanjo.

On March 16, 1016, the Emperor Sanjo abdicated, and the Imperial Prince Atsunakira succeeded to the throne (accession to the throne on March 24 of the same year; Emperor Goichijo). Emperor Sanjo passed away on June 11, 1017, the next year of his abdication. Right after that, on September 2, Imperial Prince Atsuakira requested that Michinaga have a meeting, and when Michinaga visited Togu-gosho (the Crown Prince's palace) on September 4, Imperial Prince Atsuakira confided his intention of withdrawing from the position of Crown Prince.

Although Michinaga persuaded Imperial Prince Atsuakira to change his mind (in form), his intention was resolute, and as a result, Imperial Prince Atsunaga (later Emperor Gosuzaku), younger brother of Emperor Goichijo, was named as the new Crown Prince. As proof of the event that Michinaga did not accept or did not want to accept Imperial Prince Atsuakira as the Crown Prince, the existence of Tsubokiri is named. Two weeks after the ceremonial investiture of the Crown Prince held for Imperial Prince Atsunaga on October 2, the sword Tsubokiri was given to him from the Imperial Palace; however, at the time of investiture of the Crown Prince held for Imperial Prince Atsuakira, he refused to accept the sword Tsubokiri, and as a result, Imperial Prince Atsuakira did not receive the sword Tsubokiri during a period of one and half years from the investiture of the Crown Prince to his withdrawal from being the Crown Prince. Imperial Prince Atsuakira who lost the right of succession to the Imperial Throne received the honorary title, Koichijoin, and was treated next to the Daijo-Tenno (the retired emperor).

Emperor Gosanjo
During the Emperor Gosuzaku's reign, FUJIWARA no Yorimichi, Kanpaku at that time, made every effort to obtain a position of maternal relative in the wake of his father, Michinaga, but such effort came to nothing; then, while all of this was going on, the Emperor got sick, and passed the throne on to Imperial Prince Chikahito who was his first son and the Crown Prince (Emperor Goreizei). At that time, Emperor Gosanjo told Yorimichi to appoint the Imperial Prince Takahito, younger brother of Imperial Prince Chikahito, as the Crown Prince of the new Emperor. Since his mother was Imperial Princess Teishi, daughter of Emperor Sanjo, Imperial Prince Takahito was not a maternal relative of the Fujiwara clan.

Yorimichi could not totally accept Emperor Sanjo's offer, and took an attitude of dissatisfaction obviously. Yorimichi who got a scent of the Emperor's wish to appoint Imperial Prince Takahito as the Crown Prince beat him to it, and tried to gain time because he thought that the matter of Crown Prince should have been considered slowly; however, since FUJIWARA no Yoshinobu recommended to decide the matter of Crown Prince at once, it was realized to appoint Imperial Prince Takahito as the Crown Prince.

Eventually, efforts made by Yorimishi and FUJIWARA no Norimichi wound up to nothing, and Emperor Goreizei passed away due to disease without having any prince and princess, and as a result, Imperial Prince Takahito acceded to the throne as Emperor Gosanjo. The Emperor who was not a maternal relative of the Fujiwara clan was born after an interval of 170 years since Emperor Uda. Imperial Prince Takahito was the Crown Prince for twenty three years; however, since the sword Tsubokiri was retained in the Imperial Palace by Yorimichi during that time, Imperial Prince Takahito acceded to the throne without having a symbol as the Crown Prince.

Yorimichi said that, since the sword belonged to the Crown Prince who had a blood relationship with the Fujiwara clan (which means the Crown Prince who was a maternal relative of the Fujiwara clan), he had no intention to allow Imperial Prince Takahito to have it. As the Emperor said that, if so, the sword Tsubokiri would be unnecessary, the sword Tsubokiri was finally given after the accession.

[Original Japanese]