Imperial Prince Toneri (舎人親王)

Imperial Prince Toneri (February 8, 675 - December 6, 735) was a prince of Emperor Tenmu. His posthumous name was Sudojinkei Kotei (Emperor Sudojinkei). He was Emperor Junnin's father. In the early Nara period, he exerted power as a member of the Imperial Family together with Prince Nagaya. He supervised the compilation of "Nihonshoki" (Chronicles of Japan). Also called Toneri no miko.


Imperial Prince Toneri was born on February 8, 675. His father was Emperor Tenmu, and his mother was Princess Nitabe, a daughter of Emperor Tenchi. His wife was TAIMA no Yamashiro. His sons include Princes Mihara, Mishima, Fune, Ikeda, Moribe, Miura, and Oi (later Emperor Junnin). Although he was suffered plague, he survived and lived longest among the sons of Emperor Tenmu. A grandson of Prince Mihara was KIYOHARA no Natsuno, and his descendants include KIYOHARA no Fukayabu and Sei Shonagon. The Kiyohara clan, together with the Takashina clan of the line of Prince Takechi and Prince Nagaya, lasted generation after generation as descendants of Emperor Tenmu.


In 718 he was promoted to Ippon (First Order of an Imperial Prince) and in the following year, 719, he and his younger paternal half-brother Imperial Prince Niitabe were ordered by the Empress Gensho to support Crown Prince Obito.

In June, 720, he presented "Nihonshoki" to the throne. When a powerful Minister of the Right, FUJIWARA no Fuhito, died in September of the same year, Prince Toneri was appointed Deputy Prime Minister and established the administration of the Imperial Family together with the Minister of the Right (later of the Left) Prince Nagaya.

When Emperor Shomu (Prince Obito) ascended the throne in 724, Prince Toneri received 500 additional vassal households. Imperial Prince Toneri gradually became closer to the Fujiwara clan, and when the Conspiracy of Prince Nagaya occurred in March 729 he and Imperial Prince Niitabe denounced Prince Nagaya and made him commit suicide.

In September of the same year, Imperial Prince Toneri announced the investiture of the Empress Komyo, who came from the Fujiwara clan to cooperate in the establishment of the administration of four brothers of Fujiwara clan.

He died on December 6, 735 in the smallpox-ridden capital of Heijo-kyo (the ancient capital of Japan in current Nara), and the title Grand Minister was conferred on him.

In 759, when Prince Oi ascended the throne as Emperor Junnin, Imperial Prince Toneri was given a posthumous title Sudoujinkei Kotei (Emperor Sudojinkei) as the father of the Emperor.

Although it had been assumed that his grave was Koganezuka referable mausoleum in Tanaka-cho, Nara City, Nara Prefecture, excavation research conducted in February 2009 revealed that the mausoleum was someone else's grave.


Father: Emperor Tenmu
Mother: Princess Nitabe (Father: Emperor Tenchi)

Taifujin (a title of respect for an Emperor's mother): TAIMA no Yamashiro (Father: TAIMA no Oyu)

Prince Mihara (? - 752)
Prince Mishima (? - ?)
Prince Fune (? - ?)
Prince Ikeda (? - ?)
Prince Moribe (? - ?)
Prince Miura (? - ?)
Prince Oi (Emperor Junnin) (733 - 765)
Princess Muro (? - 759)
Princess Asukada (? - 782)


Imperial Prince Toneri was also a poet, and three of his poems were selected in Manyoshu (Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves). KAKINOMOTO no Hitomaro's Collection includes five poems dedicated to Imperial Prince Toneri as reminders of their friendship. There is an indication that the imperial prince offered Hitomaro a reward for an interesting poem, so he loved poetry.

Here is a poem of Imperial Prince Toneri:

In the glistening Bead-black night the mists have risen Till they drift in bands On the heights of Takaya, Mountain of the garment sleeve. (Volume 9)

[Original Japanese]