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Sahobime in Flames by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi.


Sahobime (狭穂姫命) also known as Sahajihime was the daughter of Hikoimasu and Sahonoohokuramitome.

She would later go on to marry Emperor Suinin and together have a son called Homutsuwake.123 She was made Empress in the ‘2nd year, 2nd month, 9th day’ of her husbands reign.3

In the his fifth year of her husband’s reign, her brother Sahobiko approached Sahobime asking who is most dearest to her. Him or her husband.

Handing her a stiletto a plan is devised where the Empress would take the Emperors life. When the Emperor visits Kume, his wife almost takes his life, however she cries and her tears wake the Emperor. The Emperor relates he had a similar dream of falling water and so she tells him the truth of the plot.123

Nihongi Version

In retaliation for the attempt on his life he rallies an army, led by a man called Yatsunada, to attack Sahobiko.

For months the Emperors forces attack Sahobiko’s self made castle, however, they were unable to breach it. Sahobime mourning that she nearly took her husbands life, sneaks into her brothers castle with the prince Homutsuwake.

The attacks intensify, with the enemy refusing to give up the Empress and her child. And so Yatsunada sets fire to the castle.

Sahobime then leaves the castle saying she had hoped her brother would be absolved of his crime after she had entered it. But as this had not happened she wishers the Emperors life to be filled with wives worthy of him and so tells him of the five daughters of Michinoushi.

The Emperor agrees to take as wives those worthy of him and so she and her brother die in the fires of the castle.

Following the end of the battle the Emperor promotes Yatsunada giving him the name Yamatohimuketaketakehimukehiko Yatsunada.3

Kojiki Version

In the kojiki the tears Sahobime sheds wakes the Emperor as they fall on his face, and he says had a dream about a violent rain from Saho with a snake coiling aorud his neck.

The Empress had not yet given birth, and so after entering the castle the Emperor turned aside his armies to allow her to have her child. After this the child was put outside the stronghold. The Emperor being told if he considered the boy his child he could come and take him.

He sends his men to take the child and to also try and capture the Empress.

The Empress had dressed shoddily and had shaved her hair (placing it back upon her head) and so when the men attempted to grab her, her clothes tore, and her hair fell off allowing her to escape.

Angered by this the Emperor asks her to choose the childs name. As he had been born as the castle burnt she gave him the name Homutsuwake (Fire-possessing Lord)

Suinin then asked how he should raise the child, Sahobime saying to give him a foster mother and bathing women.

He then asks who should remove the girdle she placed around his waist and in reply she says Yehime and Otohime, daughters of Tatsumichinoushi Prince of Taniha as their parentage is unsullied.

And so the Empreror kills Sahobiko and his sister is also killed.12


1. Yasumaro. O, translated by Gustav Heldt. (2014) “Kojiki. An Account of Ancient Matters”. New York: Columbia University Press.
2. Chamberlain, B. H. (1932) “Translation of the Kojiki.” Kobe: J.L. Thompson & Co.
3. Aston. W.G. (1896) “Nihongi Volume 1: Chronicles of Japan from the Earliest Times to AD697”. Tuttle Publishing.

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