Emperor Suizei

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

Emperor Suizei
Artisitic renderrring of Emperor Suizei

Emperor Suizei

Emperor Suizei (綏靖 天皇) was the second Emperor of Japan and is also known as Kamu-nunagahaha-mimi (神沼河耳命). In the Nihongi this Emperor is described as being of distinguished manners and appearance and that he was gigantic. He ruled from 581-549BC.1


Suizei was a son of Emperor Jimmu and Himetataraisuzuhime.123

He would later marry Isuzuyorihime and together they would have Emperor Annei.134

Prior to Reign

It is said in the Nihongi that upon his fathers death he made the funerary arrangements his great care.1

His elder brother Tagishimimi wished to see the end to his two brothers, however, Suizei and Kamiyawimimi learn of this plan. Taking a bow they find Tagishimimi alone and in the end Kamiyawimimi is to afraid to take the shot. Suizei then takes the bow and kills their brother. Because of this Kamiyawimimi says Suizei should take the throne due to his bravey, even though he was the youngest of the two of them.

He then ascends, four years after his fathers death.13

The Nihongi makes some expansions on this saying they had Yumi Be no Wakahiko create the bow, Yamato no Kanuchi Amatsumara make a true-deer arrow-point and the Ya Be to make arrows. It also states Suizei shot his brother twice, the first time in the breast and the second in the back.1


Suizei ascended to the throne in 581BC.12

Events from his reign detailed in the Nihongi as follows:

    • 1st year, Spring, 1st Month, 8th Day: Ascends to the throne with his capital at Katsuragi residing in the Palace of Takaoka. He also gives the Empress (Himetatara) the title of Kodaigō (Great Empress)
    • 2nd year, Spring, 1st Month. Isuzuyori is appointed Empress.
      • Two alternative versions say this was:
        • Kahamatahime, daughter of Agatanushi of Shiki.
        • Itorihime, daughter of Ohohimoro, Agatanushi of Kasuga.
      • She bore him a son, the future Emperor Annei.
    • 4th year, Summer, 4th Month Kamiyawimimi dies, buried on the Northern side of Mt. Unebi.
    • (557BC) 25th year, Spring, 1st month, 7th day. Annei made heir.
    • 33rd year, Summer, 5th month. The Emperor falls ill, 10th day of the same month he passes away.1

Suizei died aged aged 84.123 and his misasagi was located at Tsukidaoka.4

He was buried in his misasagi in the 1st year, Winter, 10th month, 11th day of Annei’s reign.1

The Kojiki states he reigned for 45 years and not 33 as other sources claim.4


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

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