Yuge no Miko (Prince Yuge) (弓削皇子)

Yuge no Miko (Prince Yuge, year of birth unknown - August 24, 699) was the ninth (or the sixth) prince of Emperor Tenmu. His mother was Oe no Himemiko, a princess of Emperor Tenchi. Naga no Miko (Prince Naga) was his older maternal half-brother.

The year of his birth is unknown as described above, but Sadahiro TERANISHI and other scholars estimated that he was born in 673. According to this estimation, the prince died at the age of 27. This estimation was made based on Oni no sei (the automatic promotion of the persons at the age of 21, whose parents are from Imperial Prince to the fifth rank) of the Taiho Code, so it is not wide of the mark.

While he left hardly any political achievements, it is widely known that he was rebuked by Kadono no Okimi for trying to say a word at a meeting to decide a successor to the deceased Takechi no Miko (Prince Takechi) ("Kaifuso" [Fond Recollections of Poetry]). It is assumed (by Kojiro NAOKI) that Prince Yuge intended to recommend his older maternal half-brother Prince Naga. Prince Yuge died in 699 before his mother and older brother. Eight of his poems were included in "Manyoshu" (Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves), the largest number of poems included among Emperor Tenmu's princes. His poems include poems in which he yearned for his paternal half-sister Ki no Himemiko (Princess Ki) and a poem in the form of question and answer with Nukata no Okimi. In addition, KAKINOMOTO no Hitomaro's Collection includes five poems that Hitomaro dedicated to Prince Yuge as reminders of their friendship. The prince also communicated with other poets, indicating his love for poetry. Although Hideo KANDA counted Prince Yuge as one of the compilers of "Manyoshu," very few support this theory today.

In Takeshi UMEHARA's "Yomi no Okimi" (King of the world after death), the prince was assumed to be the one who was buried in the Takamatsuzuka-kofun Tumulus. The book also assumed based on Manyoshu, that the prince committed adultery with Princess Ki, who was the empress of Emperor Tenmu, and therefore was executed by Emperor Jito. Some lowbrow books of later generations stated a legend that Prince Yuge was a blood relative of YUGE no Dokyo, but of course there is nothing to prove this legend.

Poems related to Prince Yuge

Nos. 119 to 122, Volume 2 of Manyoshu (poems in which Prince Yuge yearns for Princess Ki)
What I want to know/Is, cannot you and I get on/A bit more quickly/Without this standing still in pools/But rush like the rapids of Yoshino?
Rather than yearning/For my young love as I do /Better had I been/An autumn clover blossom/Fallen after flowering
When evening falls/The salt tide will come flooding in/And that is when I would go down to Suminoe/To gather gemweed in Asaka Bay. Stopped in the roadstead/A great ship rides at anchor/Constantly tossing/With the burden of my love/I waste for another's girl.

No. 390, Volume 3 of Manyoshu (A poem by Princess Ki)
When even they/The wild ducks by the bending shore/Of the pond at Karu/Do no sleep alone at night/On the gemlike waterweed.

Blood relatives

Father: Emperor Tenmu
Mother: Princess Oe (Father: Emperor Tenchi)
Older maternal half-brother: Prince Naga

[Original Japanese]