I must take the liberty of accepting as sufficiently accurate as much of the recorded lives of Jimmu and his successors as the modern prosaic histories in Japan are content to put forth, and no more.
Continuing Japan’s First Emperor,
our selection from from Japan: its History, Traditions, and Religions by Sir Edward Reed published in 1880. The selection is presented in seven easy 5 minute installments
Previously in Japan’s First Emperor.
Time: 660 BC
After the death of the Emperor Jimmu there appears to have been an interregnum for three years — although it is seldom taken account of — the second Emperor Suisei, who was the fifth son of the first emperor, having ascended the throne B.C. 581 and reigned till 549. The cause of the interregnum appears to have been the extreme grief which Suisei felt at the death of his father, in consequence of which he committed the administration of the empire, for a time, to one of his relatives — an unworthy fellow, as he proved, named Tagishi Mimi no Mikoto, who tried to assassinate his master and seize the throne for himself, and who was put to death by Suisei for his pains. The fifth son of the Emperor Jimmu was nominated by him as the successor, and it is probable that older sons were living and passed over, and that the throne was inherited in part by nomination even in this its first transfer.
Some writers on Japanese history profess to see in the pantheon of Japan, pictured in the Kojiki and Nihonki, nothing more than a collection of distinguished personages who lived and labored and contended in the country before the historic period, thus bringing deified men and women down to earth again. Such persons accept the records of Jimmu-Tenno’s origin as essentially accurate in so far as they state what is human and reasonable, rejecting them only when they set forth what is supernatural, and, to them, unbelievable.
Others, on the contrary, consider, or profess to consider, the supernatural portions of those narratives as perfectly trustworthy, and discredit only those statements concerning the first of the sacred emperors which would seem in any way to detract from his divinity. I should be sorry to have to argue the case with either of these parties, but I must take the liberty of accepting as sufficiently accurate as much of the recorded lives of Jimmu and his successors as the modern prosaic histories in Japan are content to put forth, and no more.
Proceeding upon this basis, there is not much to be said of the reigns of the mikados who ruled before the Christian era, beyond what has been already stated. As regards the first emperor, his ancestor Ninigi no Mikoto — whether a god or not, or whether he came down from the sun by means of “the bridge of heaven” or not — appears to have established his residence at the ancient Himuka, now Hiuga; there it was that Jimmu-Tenno first resided, and thence it was that he started on his historic and memorable career. The central parts of Japan were militarily occupied by rebels (whose names are preserved), and it was to subdue them that he proceeded eastward. He stopped for three years at Taka Shima, constructing the necessary vessels for crossing the waters, and then, in the course of years, making his way victoriously as far as Nanieva, the modern Osaka, encountered his foes at Kawachi, and defeated them, the chief general being left dead on the battle-field.
Jimmu was now sole master of Japan, as then known, and in the following year he mounted the throne. The eastern and northern parts of the country were, however, still, and long afterwards, peopled by the Aino race, who were at a later period treated as troublesome savages, and conquered by a famous prince, Yamato-Dake, by help of the sacred sword. The spot selected by the Emperor Jimmu for his capital was Kashiwabara, in the province of Yamato, not far from the present western capital of Kioto. He there did honor to the gods, married, built himself a palace, and deposited in the throne-room the sacred mirror, sword, and ball, the insignia of the imperial power handed down from the sun-goddess. He organized two imperial guards, one as a body-guard to protect the interior of the palace, and the other to act as sentinels around the palace.
The Emperor Kami Yamato Iharebiko’s personal name was Hikohoho-demi. He was the fourth child of Hiko-nagisa-take-ugaya-fuki-ahezu no Mikoto. His mother’s name was Tama-yori-hime, daughter of the sea-god. From his birth this emperor was of clear intelligence and resolute will. At the age of fifteen he was made heir to the throne. When he grew up he married Ahira-tsu-hime, of the district of Ata in the province of Hiuga, and made her his consort. By her he had Tagishi-mimi no Mikoto and Kisu-mimi no Mikoto.
When he reached the age of forty-five, he addressed his elder brothers and his children, saying: “Of old, our heavenly deities Taka-mi-Musubi no Mikoto, and Oho-hiru-me no Mikoto, pointing to this land of fair rice-ears of the fertile reed-plain, gave it to our heavenly ancestor, Hiko-ho no Ninigi no Mikoto. Thereupon Hiko-ho no Ninigi no Mikoto, throwing open the barrier of heaven and clearing a cloud-path, urged on his superhuman course until he came to rest. At this time the world was given over to widespread desolation. It was an age of darkness and disorder. In this gloom, therefore, he fostered justice, and so governed this western border.
“Our imperial ancestors and imperial parent, like gods, like sages, accumulated happiness and amassed glory. Many years elapsed from the date when our heavenly ancestor descended until now it is over 1,792,470 years. But the remote regions do not yet enjoy the blessings of imperial rule. Every town has always been allowed to have its lord, and every village its chief, who, each one for himself, makes division of territory and practices mutual aggression and conflict.
“Now I have heard from the Ancient of the Sea, that in the East there is a fair land encircled on all sides by blue mountains. Moreover, there is there one who flew down riding in a heavenly rock-boat. I think that this land will undoubtedly be suitable for the extension of the heavenly task, so that its glory should fill the universe. It is doubtless the centre of the world. The person who flew clown was, I believe, Nigihaya-hi. Why should we not proceed thither, and make it the capital?”
All the imperial princes answered, and said: “The truth of this is manifest. This thought is constantly present to our minds also. Let us go thither quickly.” This was the year Kinoye Tora (51st) of the Great Year.