Emperor Hanzei

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  • Fifth century/semi-mythological figure
  • Japanese: 反正天皇


Emperor Hanzei--or 'Yamato King,' as some historians prefer--the semi-mythical leader from the 5th century, is included as one of the mysterious "Five Kings".

The Nihon Shoki has a little over one cumulative page on Emperor Hanzei. He is listed as the brother of Emperor Ingyo (允恭天皇)--who followed as Emperor--and the half-brother of Emperor Richu (履中天皇), who preceded. All three were the offspring of Emperor Nintoku (仁徳天皇).

From Shinwa Kara Rekishi E (「神話から歴史へ」),


第二の珍王を松下見林那珂通世は反正天皇とした。反正説の論拠は、その名の瑞歯別の三文字のうち、めでたいの意味をもつ「瑞」を「珍」の字であらわしたものらしいという点にある(瑞歯別の歯ははそのものか。反正天皇は歯が美しかったという。 説はある種の身分)。 戦後、東アジアの古代史にいろいろ新しい見解を発表した前田直典氏はこの通説に異論を投じ、「梁書」(南朝の梁の史書)に「済王の父」としてある弥王は、弥―>珎―>珍というふうに考えれば珍王のことで、珍王は済王(允恭天皇)の父であるから仁徳天皇にあたるという説をたてた。 この説は、しかし、前後の歴史的諸事情との関係から下都合が少なくないので、やはり通説となっている反正天皇がよいであろう。


Emperor Hanzei is also referred to as 'Emperor Hansho.' The name "Hanzei," according to a footnote in Aston's Nihongi, means "the Emperor who turned matters into the right path" (Hanzei XII 12).

Another name by which Emperor Hanzei is mentioned in the Nihongi is "Mizuhawake," where "mizuha" refers to "beautiful teeth" (Hanzei XII 12).

The last applicable Japanese name is "Emperor Tajihi no Mizuhawake," which draws from an incident described in the Nihongi where a "tajihi flower (itadori flower)" fell into the well from which Mizuhawake's bath water was drawn from.

The Song Shu (宋書--A history of the Song Dynasty) mentions one of the five kings of Yamato Japan to be "Chin," 珍. Many historians attribute this mention to Emperor Hanzei.


Emperor Hanzei's life cannot be chronicled with any certainty. Historians like to blanket this cautionary note to all Emperors prior to the 6th century.

According to the Nihongi, the Emperor was born in the Palace of Ahaji. "[Mizuhawake] was appointed Prince Imperial in the second year of [Richu-Tenno's reign] (Hanzei XII 12).

Apparently, he was a beautiful child, which gave birth to his "Mizuhawake" namesake.

In the "1st year, Spring, 1st month, 2nd day" of his listed rule, he took the throne.

In 438, an envoy is supposed to have travelled from Wa to the Song, requesting a total of 14 titles for Emperor Hanzei and his underlings. However, Wang Zhenping interestingly notes that this is a mistake on the part of the Song, as Hanzei's rule ended in 410. This request would have most likely have been made by Emperor Ingyo. Such discrepancies--due to the slow rate of communication and the gathering of international information--were fairly common.

Preceded by
Emperor Richû
Emperor of Japan
Succeeded by
Emperor Ingyô


  • Nihon Shoki
  • Zhenping, Wang. Ambassadors from the Island of Immortals Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.