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10/02/2017

The period of the Tenmu Emperor and the Jito Emperor

In 671AD, the Tenji Emperor passed away.
 
In 672AD, a battle occurred over the Imperial throne between a son of the Tenji Emperor, Otomo-no-miko, and a younger brother of the Tenji Emperor, Oama-no-miko. As a result, the younger brother won the battle and the son of the Tenji Emperor committed suicide. The battle is called Jinshin-no-ran. Therefore, the younger brother of the Tenji Emperor, Oamano-miko ascended the throne and became the Tenmu Emperor in 673AD.
 
After the battle, powerful clans on the losing side fell and the Tenmu Emperor concentrated strong political power to establish a centralized national government.
 
In 684AD, the Tenmu Emperor created a political system called Yakusa-no-kabane, which organized  the Emperor-centric political order. Local clans' family names were unified into eight kinds of names. The names showed clans' political position in society.
In addition, the Tenmu Emperor tried to enact new laws and to edit a book of Japanese history. He also pushed forward the first coinage in Japan, and began building the new capital Fujiwara-kyo modeled on the Chinese capital, but he passed away in 686AD before these projects were completed.
 
After the Tenmu Emperor passed away, the Empress took over his projects and established the Asuka Kiyomihara Code in 689AD. The code prescribed the basic systems of the national policy except for the criminal laws. It is considered the first systematic code in Japan's history, but it is defunct, so the details are unknown.
 
In 690AD, she ascended the throne and became the Jito Emperor.
 
In 694AD, she transferred the capital to Fujiwara-kyo, which was the Japan's first full-scale capital city.
According to the recent studies, Fujiwara-kyo was bigger than the later capital at Heijyo-kyo in Nara and Heian-kyo in Kyoto. People say the reason why the scale was so great was that the Yamato Imperial Court had to show Japan's national power to foreign countries. In addition, the book of Japan's history was written to show Japan's independence and long history.
 
The Tenmu Emperor and his wife were married for political reasons, but they became a good partners later. There are several stories which show how they loved each other.
 
For example, when the Emperor's wife became critically ill, the Emperor built the Yakushi-ji-temple in Nara prefecture to pray for his wife's health. 
 
↓a pagoda in Yakushiji-temple
 
Yakujijitemple1
 
 
In addition, a recent study shows that the Holy-Kannon statue in Yakushiji-temple was also created to heal his wife. The statue is very beautiful and designated as a national treasure, but it was a mystery for a long time when the statue was made. Now we know that it was created for the wife of the Tenmu Emperor.
 
↓the holy-Kannon statue in Yakushiji-temple. This photo is from wikipedia
 
Sho_kannon_yakushiji_2
 
 
Another story is why Fujiwara-kyo was built facing the burial mound of the Tenmu Emperor. People believe that his wife, the Jito Emperor, wanted her heart to face him when she governed the country.
 
After the Jito Emperor passed away, she was buried in the same burial mound as her husband. This is very rare among Japanese Emperors. At her request, she was cremated. She was the first Japanese Emperor to be cremated. Among the 124 successive Japanese Emperors, about two third were buried in the ground and about one third were cremated.
 
 
※The Asuka period ranged from the later 6th century to the mid 7th century.
The Asuka period coincides with the later Kofun period.
 

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