Emperor Jimmu

From SamuraiWiki
Jump to navigationJump to search
  • Distinction: First Emperor of Japan
  • Other names: Kamu-yamato-ihare-biko no Mikoto
  • Reign: 660-582 BCE?
  • Japanese: 神武天皇 (Jimmu tennou)

Jimmu was known as Kamu-yamato-ihare-biko no Mikoto before becoming Emperor of Japan. A composite, mythological character represented in the Nihon Shoki and Kojiki, he most likely represents broad social changes rather than an actual charismatic figure. As the mythological originator of the Imperial lineage, and thus of "Japan," he is a figure who was appropriated and employed heavily in the (ultra)nationalist ideology of the early 20th century, and continues to be embraced and employed by certain strains of political belief today.

The reign of Emperor Jimmu is traditionally said to have begun in 660 BCE, a date thus associated in nationalist myth with the beginning of the Imperial line, and the foundation of Japan. There is no archaeological or historical evidence for any coordinated, stable, or centralized "Japanese" state at that time, however, let alone one with continuities to the Japanese state or Imperial lineage of later historical periods.

It is believed that the date of 660 BCE may have been determined by simply counting back 1,260 years from 601. In the Nara period, 601 may have been seen as a year of particularly important political and cultural developments. This year was a kanato tori (younger metal bird) year on the sexegenary cycle. As kanato tori years are said to be years of great events, and as the complete cycle goes around once every 1,260 years, 660 BCE would have been a kanato tori year as well; the compilers of the Nihon shoki may have selected this year for this reason.[1]



Jimmu as Emperor

Capitals and Grave

Jimmu established the capital at Kashiwara (Kashiwabara) 橿原, which is located near Mount Unebi in Yamato province.[2] Today, Kashihara Shrine stands atop Mt. Unebi, a short distance from Unebi-yama-no-misasagi, a tomb mound said to be that of Emperor Jimmu.

Preceded by
Emperor of Japan
660-582 BCE
Succeeded by
Emperor Suizei


  1. David Lu, Japan: A Documentary History, 9.
  2. Posonby-Fane, Richard A. (1979). Imperial cities: The capitals of Japan from the oldest times until 1229. Washington, DC: University Publications of America, Inc. Page 14.