Oku no Himemiko (大来皇女)

Oku no Himemiko (大来皇女, also written as 大伯皇女, February 15, 661 - February 2, 702) was an Imperial princess of Emperor Tenmu. Her mother was an Imperial princess of Emperor Tenchi, Ota no Himemiko (an older maternal half-sister of Emperor Jito). She was Saigu (Imperial Princess appointed to serve the deities of Ise-jingu Shrine). An older maternal half-sister of Imperial Prince Otsu.

In 661, she was born in a boat which was on the way toward Tsukushi, sailing in the sea of Oku with Emperor Tenchi and his party on board. According to "Nihonshoki" (Chronicles of Japan), Emperor Saimei and Hashihito no Himemiko were buried together in Ochi no Oka no Ue Imperial Mausoleum on March 30, 667, and there is a description stating that Ota no Himemiko was buried in the tomb in front of this mausoleum. Therefore, Ota no Himemiko, the mother of Oku no Himemiko and Imperial Prince Otsu, seem to have passed away before March 30, 667.

After her father, Emperor Tenmu, established a system of Saigu, Oku no Himemiko went down to Ise-jingu Shrine as the first Saio (an unmarried Imperial princess serving at the Ise shrine) on November 15, 674. On March 17, 675, the following year, Tochi no Himemiko and Princess Ahe (later Empress Genmei) visited Ise-jingu Shrine. On May 27, 686, Taki no Himemiko, Yamashiro Hime no Okimi, and Mrs. ISHIKAWA were sent to Ise-jingu Shrine. She retired on December 10 of the same year, and returned to the capital after Imperial Prince Otsu was killed on a charge of treason on October 28. On February 2, 702, she passed away.

In "Manyoshu" (Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves), she left six poems in which she expressed her feelings toward her younger maternal half-brother Imperial Prince Otsu, who was killed on a charge of treason. Natsumi-haiji Ruined Temple (national historical site) in Nabari City, Mie Prefecture is considered 'Shofuku-ji Temple, which was completed in 725 as part of a vow made by Oku no Himemiko' ("Yakushiji Engi" [The History of the Yakushi-ji Temple]).

Poems composed by Oku no Himemiko

Nos. 105 to 106 in the second volume of Manyoshu (poems composed on the occasion of Imperial Prince Otsu's secret visit to Ise-jingu Shrine)
To see my brother off for Yamato, I stood outside in sorrow at midnight until I was drenched with early morning dew.
It is difficult for even two people to go over the autumn mountain; how can you cross it alone?

Nos. 163 to 164 in the second volume of Manyoshu (poems composed on her way to the capital after Imperial Prince Otsu's death and her retirement)
It was much better to stay in Ise Province; why did I come here? My darling brother has been killed, leaving me behind. My brother whom I wanted to see is dead now; why did I come here? I have just gotten my horse tired.

Nos. 165 to 166 in the second volume of Manyoshu (poems which were composed when the tomb of Imperial Prince Otsu was moved to Mt. Nijo [also known as Mt. Futakami])
Now you are dead, and still I live; from tomorrow I will see Mt. Futakami as my brother. Even though I try to break off the flowering ashibi branch on the rock, nobody tells me that you are still here to be shown the branch by me.


Father: Emperor Tenmu
Mother: Ota no Himemiko (her father: Emperor Tenchi)
Younger maternal half-brother: Imperial Prince Otsu

[Original Japanese]