Soga Clan

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Soga Clan

The Soga Clan (蘇我氏) was a very powerful clan in ancient Japan, orchestrating the placing of several rulers on the Imperial Throne.

Legendary Founding

The Kojiki lists a son of Takeuchi no Sukune, a member of the Imperial Family, by the name of Soga no Ishikawa as the ancestor of the ‘Soga no Omi’ (Soga Clan).34


Branching off from the Imperial line they came to political power during the reign of Emperor Buretsu (498-507AD) possibly by agreeing to a political bargain. By the reign of Emperor Senka (536-539AD) they had gained an influential hereditary place at court, as quartermasters and treasurers. Prior to Senka’s reign, the Emperor both ruled as well as reigned. However, during his reign, he established Iname Soga as his executive first Minister.

During the reign of Emperor Kinmei (539-71AD) Buddhism made its first appearance in the country. Kimmei asked Iname to try it out, but it led to a setback for Buddhism as a pestilence ensued in the country.

By the reign of Emperor Bidatsu (572-85AD) court power struggles began with the Soga Clan as more scripture, images, priests and nuns arrive from Korea.

Emperor Sushun (587-92AD) was placed on the throne by Soga no Umako, after a skirmish with the Mononobe Clan.1

600AD to Destruction

The subsequent Empress Suiko (593-628AD) was also placed on the throne by Umako. She, however, placed her nephew as Crown Prince Shotoku Taisha who overshadowed Soga Clan power for the rest of Taisha’s life.1

In 620AD the Kujiki text was compiled and entrusted to the Soga Clan.2

The subsequent Emperor Jomei (629-41AD) also found himself placed on the throne by Soga no Emishi with Emishi and his son Soga no Iruka placing the next Empress Kogyoku (642-45AD) on the throne.

It was during Kougyoku’s reign the Clan finally was destroyed after Iruka is killed in a coup d`etat in front of the Empress and Emishi, in their home, burnt it to the ground killing himself and all his attendants.1

This fire led to a large part of the Kujiki being destroyed. Part of it survived, now called the Kokuki (National Annals). Though whether this is part of the original document we don’t know.2

After their destruction

The Soga Clan does live on, however, in a very weakened capacity. A female Soga is known to later have been taken as a wife of Emperor Tenmu.1

Members of the House


1. Martin, P. (1997) “The Chrysanthemum Throne” Gloucestershire: Sutton Publishing Limited.
2. Aston. W.G. (1896) “Nihongi Volume 1: Chronicles of Japan from the Earliest Times to AD697”. Tuttle Publishing.
3. Yasumaro. O, translated by Gustav Heldt. (2014) “Kojiki. An Account of Ancient Matters”. New York: Columbia University Press.
4. Chamberlain, B. H. (1932) “Translation of the Kojiki.” Kobe: J.L. Thompson & Co.

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Soga Clan