Empress Jitō

Empress Jitō

name = Empress Jitō
title =Empress of Japan

caption =From Ogura Hyakunin Isshu
reign =Regent 686 - 689 690 - 697
othertitles =Empress Dowager Jitō (697 - 703)
Empress of Japan (686 - 697)
Princess Uno-Sarara
coronation =
predecessor =Emperor Temmu
successor =Emperor Mommu
suc-type =
heir =
consort =Emperor Temmu
issue =Prince Kusakabe
royal house =
royal anthem =
father =Emperor Tenji
mother =Soga no Ochi-no-iratsume
date of birth ="Taika 1" (645)
place of birth =
date of death =The 22nd Day of the 12th Month of Taihō 2 (January 13, 703)
place of death =Fujiwara-kyō, Japan
place of burial=Hinokuma-no-Ōuchi no "Misasagi"|

nihongo|Empress Jitō|持統天皇|"Jitō-tennō" (645 – December 22, 702Japanese dates correspond to the traditional lunisolar calendar used in Japan until 1873. December 22, 702 of the Japanese calendar corresponds to January 13, 703 of the Julian calendar.] ) was the 41st imperial ruler of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. She was the fourth woman to ascend the Chrysanthemum Throne. [The two empresses who reigned before Jitō"-tennō" were: Suiko and Kōgyoku/Saimei; and those five women sovereigns whose reigns occurred after Jitō were (a) Gemmei, (b) Genshō, (c) Kōken/Shōtoku, (d) Meishō, and (e) Go-Sakuramachi.] Her reign spanned the years from 686 through 697.Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). "Annales des empereurs du Japon," p. 59.]


Empress Jitō was the daughter of Emperor Tenji. Her mother was Ochi-no-Iratsume, the daughter of Minister Ō-omi Soga no Yamada-no Ishikawa Maro. She was the wife of Emperor Temmu, who was Tenji's brother-- or in other words, she married her uncle, and she also succeeded him on the throne.Varley, H. Paul. "Jinnō Shōtōki," p. 137.]

Empress Jitō's given name was Unonosarara (鸕野讚良), or alternately Uno.Brown, D. (1979). "Gukanshō," p. 270.]

Events of Jitō's life

Jitō took responsibility for court administration after the death of her husband, Emperor Temmu, who was also her uncle. She acceded to the throne in 687 in order to ensure the eventual succession of her son, Kusakabe-shinnō. Throughout this period, Empress Jitō ruled from the Fujiwara Palace in Yamato. [see above] ]

Prince Kusabake was named as crown prince to succeed Jitō, but he died at a young age. Kusabake's son, Karu-no-o, was then named as Jitō's successor. He eventually would become known as Emperor Mommu. [see above] ]

Empress Jitō reigned for eleven years. Although there were seven other reigning empresses, their successors were most often selected from amongst the males of the paternal Imperial bloodline, which is why some conservative scholars argue that the women's reigns were temporary and that male-only succession tradition must be maintained in the 21st century. [http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20070327i1.html "Life in the Cloudy Imperial Fishbowl,"] "Japan Times." March 27, 2007.] Empress Gemmei, who was followed on the throne by her daughter, Empress Genshō, remains the sole exception to this conventional argument.

In 697, Jitō abdicated in Mommu's favor; and as a retired sovereign, she took the post-reign title "daijō-tennō." After this, her imperial successors who retired took the same title after abdication. [see above] ]

Jitō continued to hold power as a cloistered ruler, which became a persistent trend in Japanese politics.


"Kugyō" (公卿) is a collective term for the very few most powerful men attached to the court of the Emperor of Japan in pre-Meiji eras.

In general, this elite group included only three to four men at a time. These were hereditary courtiers whose experience and background would have brought them to the pinnacle of a life's career. During Jitō's reign, this apex of the "Daijō-kan" included:
* "Daijō-daijin", Takechi-shinnō (the 3rd son of Emperor Temmu) [see above] ]
* "Sadaijin"
* "Udaijin"
* "Nadaijin"

Man'yōshū poetry

The Man'yōshū includes a poem said to have been composed by Jitō

:After the death of the Emperor Temmu [Nippon Gakujutsu Shinkōkai, p.18. [This waka is here numbered 42; in the "Kokka Taikan" (1901), Book II, numbered 159.] ] :Oh, the autumn foliage:Of the hill of Kamioka! [Nippon Gakujutsu Shinkōkai, p. 18 n1. [This would be the so-called Thunder Hill in the village of Asuka near Nara.] ] :My good Lord and Sovereign:Would see it in the evening:And ask of it in the morning.:On that very hill from afar:I gaze, wondering:If he sees it to-day,:Or asks of it to-morrow.:Sadness I feel at eve,:And heart-rending grief at morn --:The sleeves of my coarse-cloth robe:Are never for a moment dry.

:Composed when the Empress climbed the Thunder Hill [Nippon Gakujutsu Shinkōkai, p. 47. [This waka is here numbered 118; in the "Kokka Taikan" (1901), Book III, numbered 235.] ] :Lo, our great Soverign, a goddess,:Tarries on the Thunder:In the clouds of heaven! [Nippon Gakujutsu Shinkōkai, p. 47 n4. [This poem is based on the idea that the Sovereigns are the offspring of Amaterasu-omikami, and that their proper sphere is heaven. There the Thunder Hill is regarded as the actual embodiment of Thunder.] ]

Hyakunin Isshu poetry

One of the poems attributed to Empress Jitō was selected by Fujiwara no Teika for inclusion in the very popular anthology "Hyakunin Isshu."

:Poem number 2 [ [http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/japanese/hyakunin/hyakua.html University of Virginia, "Hyakunin Isshu" on-line] ] :The spring has passed
:And the summer come again
:For the silk-white robes

:So they say, are spread to dry
:On the "Mount of Heaven's Perfume


"Haru sugite"
"Natsu ki ni kerashi"
"Shirotae no"

"Koromo hosu cho"
"Ama no Kaguyama"

Non"-nengō" period

Jitō's reign is not linked by scholars to any era or nengō. [see above] ] The Taika era innovation of naming time periods -- "nengō" -- languished until Mommu reasserted an imperial right by proclaiming the commencement of Taihō in 701.
* See Japanese era name -- "Non-nengo periods"
* See Jitō (period) (687-697).

However, Brown and Ishida's translation of "Gukanshō" offers an explanation which muddies a sense of easy clarity: :"The eras that fell in this reign were: (1) the remaining seven years of Shuchō [(686+7=692?)] ; and (2) Taika, which was four years long [695-698] . (The first year of this era was "kinoto-hitsuji" [695] .) ...In the third year of the Taka era [697] , Empress Jitō yielded the throne to the Crown Prince." [see above] ]


* Brown, Delmer M. and Ichirō Ishida, eds. (1979). [ Jien, c. 1220] , "Gukanshō (The Future and the Past, a translation and study of the Gukanshō, an interpretative history of Japan written in 1219)." Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-03460-0
* MacCauley, Clay. (1900). "Hyakunin-Isshu": Single Songs of a Hundred Poets" in "Transactions of the Asia Society of Japan." Tokyo: Asia Society of Japan. [http://books.google.com/books?id=l7_-nSoIwfIC&pg=RA6-PA3&vq=koromode&dq=Hyakunin+Isshu ...Click link for digitized, full-text copy (in English)]
* -----. (1901). "Kokka taikan". Tokyo: Teikoku Toshokan, Meiji 30-34 [1897-1901] . [reprinted "Shinten kokka taikan" (新編国歌大観), 10 vols. + 10 index vols., Kadokawa Shoten, Tokyo, 1983-1992. 10-ISBN 4-040-20142-6; 13-ISBN 978-4-040-20142-9]
* Nippon Gakujutsu Shinkōkai. (1940). "Man'yōshū". Tokyo: Iwanami shoten. [reprinted by Columbia University Press, New York, 1965. 10-ISBN 0-231-08620-2] [reprinted by Dover Publications, New York, 2005. 10-ISBN 0-486-43959-3; 13-ISBN 978-0-486-43959-4
* Titsingh, Isaac, ed. (1834). [Siyun-sai Rin-siyo/Hayashi Gahō, 1652] , "Nipon o daï itsi ran; ou, Annales des empereurs du Japon, tr. par M. Isaac Titsingh avec l'aide de plusieurs interprètes attachés au comptoir hollandais de Nangasaki; ouvrage re., complété et cor. sur l'original japonais-chinois, accompagné de notes et précédé d'un Aperçu d'histoire mythologique du Japon, par M. J. Klaproth." Paris: Oriental Translation Fund of Great Britain and Ireland. [http://books.google.com/books?id=18oNAAAAIAAJ&dq=nipon+o+dai+itsi+ran ...Click link for digitized, full-text copy of this book (in French)]
* Varley, H. Paul , ed. (1980). [ Kitabatake Chikafusa, 1359] , "Jinnō Shōtōki ("A Chronicle of Gods and Sovereigns: Jinnō Shōtōki of Kitabatake Chikafusa" translated by H. Paul Varley)." New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-04940-4

ee also

*Japanese empresses

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