Emperor Antoku

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There was a battle by an inland sea (Dan No Ura) on April 24th 1185, between two powerful Japanese clans .( The ruling Hekei and another clan called Genji) Each asserted a superior claim to the throne . The Hekei were badly outnumbered and out manoeuvered. Antoku`s guardian was his grandmother,( lady Ni) When it became clear the Hekei had lost the battle, the boy emperor`s grandmother resolved not to be caught by the enemy alive. " Where are you to take me?" asked the boy emperor. Blinded by tears, the child emperor recited a Buddah prayer, then prayed to the east, then to the west to say farewell to the Buddah. Lady Ni took him in her arms, and with the words: " In the depths of the ocean is our capital." They jumped together into the sea and drowned. Then followed a frenzied mass suicide by the remaining Hekei forces. Only 43 Hekei survived, all women in waiting. They were reduced to selling flowers and other favours to the local fisher folk. Each year on April 24th a ceremony is held, at a shrine near the scene of the battle, to commemorate the child emperor`s short life.

Antoku
Emperor of Japan
Emperor Antoku.jpg
Reign 1180–1185
Born 22 December 1178
Died 25 April 1185 (aged 6)
Buried Amida-ji no Misasagi (Shimonoseki)
Predecessor Takakura
Successor Go-Toba

Emperor Antoku (安徳天皇 Antoku-tennō?, 22 December 1178–25 April 1185) was the 81st emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession.[1] His reign started in 1180 and ended in 1185.[2]

Traditional history[change | change source]

Before he became the monarch, his personal name (imina) was Tokohito-shinnō (言仁親王?).[3] or Kotohito-shinnō.[4]

He was the son of Emperor Takakura.

Events of Antoku's life[change | change source]

Antoku was named Crown Prince at around one month of age. He became emperor at one year of age.

  • 1180 (Jishō 4, 21st day of the 4th month): In the 12th year of Takakura-tennō 's reign, he abdicated. The succession (the senso) was received by his infant son.[5] Soon after, Emperor Antoku is said to have accepted the monarch's role and duties and powers (sokui).[6]
  • 1183 (Juei 2, 20th day of the 8th month): Emperor Go-Toba was named emperor by former-Emperor Go-Shirakawa. This meant that there were two emperors at the same time. Go-Toba was in Kyoto and Antoko was fleeing towards the south.[7]

The Taira were defeated; and Antoku died in the sea after the naval battle was lost.[11] Antoku's grandmother drowned herself by jumping into the sea with the young emperor in her arms.[12]

After his death[change | change source]

The story of Emperor Antoku and his mother's family is told in The Tale of the Heike.[8]

Amida-ji no misasagi near Akama Shrine at Shimonoseki in Yamaguchi Prefecture is considered to be Antoku's symbolic tomb.[13]

Eras of Antoku's reign[change | change source]

The years of Antoku's reign reign include more than one era name..[14]

Related pages[change | change source]

Notes and references[change | change source]

The chrysanthemum symbol of the Japanese emperor and his family.
  1. Imperial Household Agency (Kunaichō), 安徳天皇 (81); retrieved 2012-10-7.
  2. Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). Annales des empereurs du Japon, pp. 200–207; Brown, Delmer et al. (1979). Gukanshō, pp. 333–334; Varley, H. Paul. (1980). Jinnō Shōtōki. pp. 214–215.
  3. Brown, p. 333; Varley, p. 214.
  4. Titsingh, p. 200.
  5. Titsingh, p. 200; Varley, p. 44; a 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.
  6. Titsingh, p. 200; compare Imperial Household Agency (Kunaichō), Ceremony of Accession (Sokui-no-Rei); retrieved 2012-10-7.
  7. Titsingh, p. 207.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Heike is another name for "House of the Taira".
  9. Genji is another name for "House of the Minamoto".
  10. Kitagawa, Hiroshi et al. (1975). The Tale of the Heike, p. 787; Titsingh, pp. 211–212.
  11. "Antoku," Encylopedia Britannica; retrieved 2012-10-7.
  12. Kitagawa, pp. 676-677.
  13. Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1959). The Imperial House of Japan, p. 422.
  14. Titsingh, pp. 200–207; Brown, pp. 333–334.

Other websites[change | change source]

Media related to Emperor Antoku at Wikimedia Commons

Preceded by
Emperor Takakura
Emperor or Tennō:
Antoku

1180–1185
Succeeded by
Emperor Go-Toba