Emperor Bidatsu

Emperor of Japan
Reign 30 April, 572 – 14 September, 585
Predecessor Kinmei
Successor Yōmei
Born 538
Died 14 September 585 (aged 47)
Burial Kawachi no Shinaga no naka no o no misasagi (Osaka)

Emperor Bidatsu (敏達天皇 Bidatsu-tennō, 538 – 14 September 585) was the 30th emperor of Japan,[1] according to the traditional order of succession.[2]

The years of reign of Bidatsu start in 572 and end in 585; however, there are no certain dates for this emperor's life or reign.[3] The names and sequence of the early emperors were not confirmed as "traditional" until the reign of Emperor Kanmu, who was the 50th monarch of the Yamato dynasty.[4]

Traditional narrative

Historians consider details about the life of Emperor Bidatsu to be possibly legendary, but probable.[5] The name Bidatsu-tennō was created for him posthumously by later generations.

In the Nihon Shoki, he is called Nunakura no Futotamashiki (渟中倉太珠敷).

His palace in Yamato Province was called Osada no Miya of Iware.[6]

Events of Bidatsu's life

In the 15th year of Kimmei's reign, Bidatsu was named Crown Prince.[6]

In the 32nd year of Kimmei-tennō 's reign (欽明天皇32年, 572), the old emperor died, and the succession (senso) was received by his second son. Soon after, Emperor Bidatsu is said to have acceded to the throne (sokui).[7]

Bidatsu's contemporary title would not have been tennō, as most historians believe this title was not introduced until the reigns of Emperor Tenmu and Empress Jitō. Rather, it was presumably Sumeramikoto or Amenoshita Shiroshimesu Ōkimi (治天下大王), meaning "the great king who rules all under heaven". Alternatively, Bidatsu might have been referred to as (ヤマト大王/大君) or the "Great King of Yamato".

Bidatsu's reign was marked by power struggles about Buddhism. The two most important men in the court of Bidatsu were Soga no Umako and Mononobe no Moriya.[8] Soga supported the growth of Buddhism, and Moriya wanted to stop it.[9]

Bidatsu sought to re-establish relations with Korean Kingdoms and, according to Nihon Shoki, his court successfully established relations with Baekje and Silla, two of the Three Kingdoms of Korea.

The emperor died from a disease which afflicted him with sores, apparently the first royal victim of smallpox in Japan.[10]

The actual site of Bidatsu's grave is known.[1] This emperor is traditionally venerated at a memorial Shinto shrine (misasagi) at Osaka.

The Imperial Household Agency designates this location as Bidatsu's mausoleum. It is formally named Kawachi no Shinaga no naka no o no misasagi.[11]


He was the second son of Emperor Kinmei. His mother, Ishi-hime, was a daughter of Emperor Senka.[6]

Although he had many children, none of them would ever become emperor.[12] According to Gukanshō, Bidatsu had four empresses and 16 Imperial children (6 sons and 10 daughters).[6]

Bidatsu's first empress, Hirohime, died in the fifth year of his reign. To replace her, he elevated one of his consorts, Princess Nukatabe, to the rank of empress. Nukatabe was his half-sister by their father Kinmei. Later she ascended to the throne in her own right and is today known as Empress Suiko.

He was succeeded first by one of his brothers, Emperor Yōmei, then by another, Emperor Sushun, and then Empress Suiko, his sister and wife, before his grandson, Emperor Jomei, eventually took the throne.

See also


  1. 1 2 Imperial Household Agency (Kunaichō), 敏達天皇 (30); retrieved 2013-1-31.
  2. Brown, Delmer. (1979). Gukanshō, pp. 262–263; Varley, H. Paul. (1980). Jinnō Shōtōki. pp. 124–125; Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). Annales des empereurs du Japon, pp. 36–37; Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric. (2002). "Traditional order of Tennō" in Japan encyclopedia, pp. 962–963.
  3. Nussbaum, "Traditional order of Tennō" at pp. 962–963; excerpt, "dates ... should be treated with caution up to Emperor Bidatsu Tennō, the thirtieth on the list."
  4. Aston, William George. (1896). Nihongi, p. 109 n1.
  5. Kelly, Charles F. "Kofun Culture", Japanese Archaeology. April 27, 2009; retrieved 2013-1-31.
  6. 1 2 3 4 Brown, p. 262.
  7. Titsingh, p. 36; Varley, p. 44; n.b., the distinct act of senso is unrecognized prior to Emperor Tenji; and all sovereigns except Jitō, Yōzei, Go-Toba, and Fushimi have senso and sokui in the same year until the reign of Emperor Go-Murakami; compare Imperial Household Agency (Kunaichō), Ceremony of Accession (Sokui-no-Rei); retrieved 2013-1-31.
  8. Titsingh, p. 36.
  9. Brown, pp. 262–263.
  10. Hopkins, Donald R. (2002). The Greatest Killer, p. 106, citing Aston (1896). Nihongi, Vol. II. p. 104.
  11. Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1959) The Imperial House of Japan, p. 419.
  12. Ponsonby-Fane, p. 46.


Regnal titles
Preceded by
Emperor Kinmei
Emperor of Japan:

Succeeded by
Emperor Yōmei
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