Emperor Chūai

Emperor of Japan
Reign 192–200 (traditional)[1]
Predecessor Seimu
Successor Ōjin
Born 149
Died 200 (aged 51)
Burial Ega no Naganu no nishi no misasagi (Osaka)

Emperor Chūai (仲哀天皇 Chūai-tennō); also known as Tarashinakatsuhiko no Sumeramikoto; was the 14th emperor of Japan,[2] according to the traditional order of succession.[3] The dates of his reign are conventionally given as 192 to 200.[4] He was the first emperor who was not the child of the previous emperor, being instead the nephew of his predecessor Emperor Seimu.[5]

Legendary narrative

Chūai is regarded by historians as a "legendary emperor" who might have been real; and there is a paucity of information about him. There is insufficient material available for further verification and study.[6] The reign of Emperor Kinmei (c.509 – 571 AD), the 29th emperor,[7] is the first for which contemporary historiography is able to assign verifiable dates;[8] however, the conventionally accepted names and dates of the early emperors were not to be confirmed as "traditional" until the reign of Emperor Kanmu (737–806), the 50th sovereign of the Yamato dynasty.[9]

There is no evidence to suggest that the title tennō was used during the time to which Chūai's reign has been assigned. It is certainly possible that he was a chieftain or local clan leader, and that the polity he ruled would have only encompassed a small portion of modern-day Japan. The name Chūai Tennō was assigned to him posthumously.[10]

According to the Kojiki and Nihonshoki, he was the father of Emperor Ōjin. Ōjin is generally believed to have existed, based on archaeological evidence;[6] but details of his life are scant. However, he was claimed to have two capitals, one in modern-day Shimonoseki and the other in Fukuoka city, both very close to the Tsukushi region. Interestingly, this emperor is the only one with imperial capitals/palaces in this region except for one brief period several hundred years later, then never again.[11] Chūai's mother was Futaji no Iri Hime no Mikoto, a daughter of Emperor Kaika and an aunt of Chūai's father. Chūai's wife was Jingū.

Chūai's father was Yamato Takeru, a son of the Yamato monarch Emperor Keikō, but Yamato Takeru's story is problematic.

According to these same legends, his wife was suddenly possessed by some unknown gods. The gods promised Emperor Chūai rich lands overseas. Chūai then looked to the sea, but he could see nothing and denounced his belief in the promises of the gods. The gods were enraged by this and declared that he would die and never receive the promised land. Instead they would go to his conceived, unborn son. The legend then states that Chūai died soon after and his widow, Jingū, conquered the promised land, which is conjectured to be part of modern-day Korea. During this time the closest part of Korea to Tsukishi was Byeonhan confederacy and Gaya confederacy or possibly even Tsushima.

According to one version, Chūai's son was born three years after the death of Chūai, which leads support to the Western analysts that the stories surrounding him are based on myth rather than actual events. This legend also has many other flaws (it claims that Jingū was flown into the middle of the promised land and then conquered into Japan) which have largely discredited the story among Western historians.[12] Nevertheless, analyst views that the stories were completely invented may not be accurate—although dates are known to be wrong, there is nothing concrete to suggest that there is no factual information in the narrative, especially since someone else could have fathered his son, and an upstart Japan based on Tsukushi most certainly could have initiated pirate raids to acquire bronze, and/or could have acquired Tsushima for a brief 3-year period from statelets of the Byeonhan confederacy or the Gaya confederacy.

The site of Chūai's grave is not known.[2] This emperor is traditionally venerated at a memorial Shinto shrine (misasagi) at Nara. The Imperial Household Agency designates this location as Chūai's mausoleum. It is formally named Ega no Naganu no nishi no misasagi.[13]

Consorts and Children

Empress Okinagatarashihime (気長足姫) Empress Jingū, daughter of Okinaga no sukune no Miko (息長宿禰王)

Ōnakatsuhime (大中姫命), daughter of Hikohitoōe no Mikoto (彦人大兄)

Otohime (弟媛), daughter of Ōsakanushi(大酒主)

See also


Japanese Imperial kamon — a stylized chrysanthemum blossom
  1. "Genealogy of the Emperors of Japan" at Kunaicho.go.jp; retrieved 2013-8-28.
  2. 1 2 Imperial Household Agency (Kunaichō): 仲哀天皇 (14); retrieved 2013-8-25.
  3. Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). Annales des empereurs du japon, p. 15., p. 15, at Google Books; Brown, Delmer M. (1979). Gukanshō, pp. 254–255; Varley, Paul. (1980). Jinnō Shōtōki, pp. 100–101;
  4. Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1959). The Imperial House of Japan, p. 34.
  5. Packard, Jerrold M., Sons of Heaven: A Portrait of the Japanese Monarchy, p. 45.
  6. 1 2 Kelly, Charles F. "Kofun Culture", Japanese Archaeology. 27 April 2009.
  7. Titsingh, pp. 34–36; Brown, pp. 261–262; Varley, pp. 123–124.
  8. Hoye, Timothy. (1999). Japanese Politics: Fixed and Floating Worlds, p. 78; excerpt, "According to legend, the first Japanese emperor was Jinmu. Along with the next 13 emperors, Jinmu is not considered an actual, historical figure. Historically verifiable Emperors of Japan date from the early sixth century with Kinmei.
  9. Aston, William. (1896). Nihongi, pp. 109.
  10. Brinkley, Frank. (1915). A History of the Japanese People from the Earliest Times to the end of the Meiji Era, p. 21, p. 21, at Google Books; excerpt, "Posthumous names for the earthly Mikados were invented in the reign of Emperor Kanmu (782–805), i.e., after the date of the compilation of the Records and the Chronicles.
  11. Aston, William George. (1998). Nihongi, Vol. 1, pp. 217–223.
  12. Ponsonby-Fane, p. 419.


Regnal titles
Preceded by
Emperor Seimu
Legendary Emperor of Japan
(traditional dates)
Succeeded by
Emperor Ōjin
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