Emperor Kanmu

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Emperor of Japan
Died5 February 806(806-02-05) (aged 70)
Kashiwabara no misasagi (Kyoto)

Emperor Kanmu (桓武天皇, Kanmu-tennō, 737-806), also written as Kammu, was the 50th emperor of Japan,[1] according to the traditional order of succession.[2] His reign started in 781 and ended in 806.[3]

Kanmu was the first monarch of the Heian period of the history of Japan.

Traditional history[change | change source]

Before he became the monarch, this prince's personal name (imina) was Yamabe (山部).[4]

Prince Yamabe was the eldest son of Prince Shirakabe (later known as Emperor Kōnin).[5] According to the Shoku Nihongi (続日本紀), Yamabe's mother was a descendant of King Muryeong of Baekje.[6]

Kanmu had 16 empresses and consorts, and 32 imperial sons and daughters.[4] Among his sons were Emperor Heizei, Emperor Saga and Emperor Junna.

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

Before he became the monarch, he was Crown Prince for eight years.

During his reign, Kanmu tried to simplify the hierarchy and the functions of his government.

The capital of Japan was moved from Nara (Heijō-kyō) to Nagaoka (Nagaoka-kyō) in 784.[7] The capital would be moved again in 794 to Kyoto (Heian-kyō).[8]

Kanmu named Sakanoue no Tamuramaro (758-811) to lead a military expedition against the Emishi.[9]

Timeline[change | change source]

  • 737 (Tenpyō 9): Prince Yamabe was born.[4]
  • 773 (Hōki 4): Yamabe received the title of Crown Prince.[10]
  • 30 April 781 (Ten'ō 1, 3rd day of the 4th month): In the 11th year of Emperor Kōnin's reign, he abdicated. The succession (senso) was received by his son.[11] Soon after, Emperor Kanmu accepted the monarch's role and duties and powers (sokui).[12] This was confirmed in ceremonies.[13]
  • 794 (Enryaku 13): When the capital was moved to Kyoto, the emperor's new home was named "Palace of Peace/Tranquility" (平安宮, Heian no Miya).[4]
  • 17 November 794 (Enryaku 13, 21st day of the 10th month): The emperor traveled by carriage to the new capital. He moved in a grand parade.[8] This marks the beginning of the Heian period in Japanese history.
  • 806 (Enryaku 25): Kammu died at the age of 70.[14]

After his death[change | change source]

According to the Imperial Household Agency, the mausoleum (misasagi) of Kammu is in Kyoto. The emperor is traditionally venerated at a memorial Shinto shrine at this location.[1]

Eras of reign[change | change source]

The years of Kammu's reign are identified by more than one era name (nengō).[15]

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

The chrysanthemum symbol of the Japanese emperor and his family.
  1. 1.0 1.1 Imperial Household Agency (Kunaichō), 桓武天皇 (50); retrieved 2011-10-20.
  2. Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1959). The Imperial House of Japan, pp. 61–62.
  3. Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). Annales des empereurs du Japon, pp. 86-95; Brown, Delmer et al. (1979) Gukanshō, pp. 277-279; Varley, H. Paul. (1980). Jinnō Shōtōki, pp. 148-150.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Brown, p. 277.
  5. Titsingh, p. 86; Varley, p. 149.
  6. Watts, Jonathan. "The emperor's new roots: The Japanese emperor has finally laid to rest rumors that he has Korean blood, by admitting that it is true," The Guardian (London). 28 December 2001; retrieved 2011-10-20.
  7. Brown, p. 278.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Brown, p. 279.
  9. Titsingh, pp. 91–92; Brown, pp. 278–79; Varley, p. 272.
  10. Brown, p. 34.
  11. Titsingh, pp. 85–86; Brown, p. 277.
  12. Titsingh, p. 86.
  13. 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. Compare Imperial Household Agency (Kunaichō), Ceremony of Accession (Sokui-no-Rei); retrieved 2011-12-23.
  14. Varley, p. 150.
  15. Titsingh, pp. 86-95.

Other websites[change | change source]

Media related to Emperor Kammu at Wikimedia Commons

Preceded by
Emperor Kōnin
Emperor of Japan

Succeeded by
Emperor Heizei