Emperor Kaika

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Hear this tale on Episode B13 of our Podcast, the Japan Archives.

Emperor Kaika
Artistic renderring of Emperor Kaika.

Table of Contents

Emperor Kaika

Emperor Kaika (開化 天皇) was the 9th Emperor of Japan also known as Wakayamato Nekohiko Kunikuru1 or Wakayamato Nekohiko Ōho-bibi (若倭根子日子大毘毘命)2 He ruled from 158-98BC.1


Emperor Kaika was the son of Emperor Kōgen and Uchishikome.123

Both the nihongi and the kojiki mostly mention the same family members for Emperor Kaika. Though the kojiki does go into much more detail for the decendants of his children.

He first took as a concubine Takanohime and together they had Hikoyumusumi.24

He married his stepmother Ikagashikome and together they had the future Emperor Sujin12 and Mimatsuhime.4

A second conubine by the name of Oketsuhime had a child with the Emperor called Hikoimasu.24

One final concubine by the name of Washihime gave him a son by the name of Taketayohadzurawake.4


Emperor Kaika ascended the throne in 157BC according to the Jinnō Shōtōki,3 though modern sources state it was in 158BC.1 This was after being made heir to the throne in the ’22nd year, Spring, 1st month, 14th day’ of his fathers reign. He is said to have been 16 years old at the time.2

Events from his reign detailed in the Nihongi are as follows:

    • Winter 11th month, 12th day – Kaika ascends the throne.
    • 1st year, Spring, 1s month, 4th day – He gives the Empress the title Kodaigo.
    • Winter, 10th month, 13th day – Capital moved to Kasuga, residing in the palace of Isakaha.
    • 5th year, Spring, 2nd month, 6th day. Emperor Kōgen buried in his misasagi on the island of Tsurugi lake.
    • 6th year, Spring, 1st month, 14th day – Ikashikome is made Empress.
      • The Empress gives birth to Emperor Sujin.
      • With Taniha no Takanohime he has Hikoyumusumi.
      • With Oketsuhime he has Hikoimasu,
    • 28th year, Spring, 1st month, 5th day – Sujin is made heir.
    • 60th year, Summer, 4th month, 9th day – The Emperor dies.2

Kaika died aged 115 according to the nihongi and Jinnō Shōtōki,23  whereas the kojiki states he died aged 63.4 In total he ruled for 60 years.12

His misasagi is located in Isakaha, Kasuga.2


1. Ponsonby, F. (1959) “The Imperial House of Japan.” Kyoto: Ponsonby Memorial Society.
2. Aston. W.G. (1896) “Nihongi Volume 1: Chronicles of Japan from the Earliest Times to AD697”. Tuttle Publishing.
3. Varley, H.P (1980) “A Chronicle of Gods and Sovereigns: Jinnō Shōtōki of Kitabatake Chikafusa.” New York: Columbia University Press.
4. Yasumaro. O, translated by Gustav Heldt. (2014) “Kojiki. An Account of Ancient Matters”. New York: Columbia University Press.

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