- Not to be confused with Empress Shôtoku.
The prince became regent in 593, when Empress Suiko acceded to the throne. In 604, he drafted the Seventeen-Article Constitution, a foundational document of basic principles of government for the Yamato state.
Shôtoku is considered the founder of such central Buddhist temples as Hôryû-ji, Jôbonrendai-ji, and the Rokkakudô. His commentaries on the Lotus Sutra completed in 615 and known as the Hokke Gisho, are considered the oldest extant Japanese text.
Prince Shôtoku also played a prominent role in dispatching official missions to Sui Dynasty China, the first such missions to ever be sent by a unified Yamato state to the Chinese court. The first of these missions in 607-608 carried a message to the Sui court which is often cited as the earliest extant/known instance of the use of the phrase "Land of the Rising Sun" to refer to Japan.
He later came to be worshiped as a Buddhist figure. Paintings and sculptures depicting Shôtoku as a child, as well as at other stages of life, became popular and treasured religious objects, and a variety of legends about his life developed. The Shôryô-in at Hôryû-ji, a National Treasure, is dedicated to his worship; Hôryû-ji also houses a Shaka Triad set of sculptures produced by Kuratsukuri no Tori in 623 to commemorate Shôtoku's death.
- Gallery labels, "Prince Shôtoku Taishi as a Child Praying to the Buddha," Santa Barbara Museum of Art.
- Albeit Hi izuru tokoro 日出づる処, and not Nihon or Nippon 日本; The term "Nihon" may have first appeared in 702. Gallery labels. Imperial Envoys to Tang China : Early Japanese Encounters with Continental Culture Exhibition. Nara National Museum. April through June 2010.