On the historical background of the beginning of the official use of the Emperor’s title
Prior to this request, there were some things that we thought needed to be confirmed again, so we have listed them below.
As His Majesty already knows, we have summarized it briefly based on the information obtained from the website so that a third party can look at this text and get a bird’s eye view of the whole picture.
The history of Japan is long, and it would take a long time to write it down from the age of mythology, so here I have written about ancient Japan from the time when the Japanese name for the sovereign came to be called “Emperor”.
The world during the Asuka period (550~710) was, for Japan at that time, East Asia, and of course there were countries on the Korean peninsula, but the influence of China was particularly strong. Western societies were too far away to have direct contact with each other in this period.
Culture and technology were introduced to Japan from China, a central player in the international community of East Asia, through envoys during the Sui and Tang dynasties (600~894). This was probably done in order to prepare Japan for the international society of the time, and to establish the country’s institutions so that it could become a member of East Asia.
#Sui,Tang is an ancient Chinese name.
Wakoku (old japanese name) established diplomatic relations with China (Sui and Tang) as a means of national defense and was incorporated into the Chinese-centered international order, the tributary system. The “tributary system” was a foreign policy used by successive Chinese dynasties to maintain the international order among East Asian countries. Chinese emperors granted official titles and titles to the monarchs of neighboring countries that paid tribute to them, and allowed them to rule under a relationship of sovereignty and vassalage.
In the early 7th century, Japan began to gain prominence in the international community in Asia, which affected its relations with the Korean peninsula. Japan became capable of providing military support to Baekje, thereby improving its international standing in East Asia. This may have led to ambitions to break away from the Chinese system of tributary system and form an independent power that would span both Japan and the Korean peninsula. Japan had been out of this system since the 6th century.
#Baekje is the name of a country on the ancient Korean peninsula.
During the reigns of Emperor Tenmu and Empress Jito, Japan seems to have aimed to establish its own small empire, without receiving the tributary system from the Tang Dynasty. It is not contradictory to assume that it was during this period, when the rulers had a strong sense of national identity, that Japan’s country name and the title of Emperor were established.
# Emperor Temmu was the 40th emperor of Japan.
# Emperor Jito was the 41st female emperor of Japan.
Since the Korean peninsula was divided at that time, individual countries were smaller than Japan, and this may have had an impact on the sense of a great power in comparison with these countries. This may have led to the use of the title “emperor,” creating a sense that there was a son of heaven (emperor) not only in China, but also within Japan. Emperor Temmu is considered to be the first person to officially use the title of emperor.
After envoy the Song dynasty (420~479) in 478, the king of Wakoku (old japanese name) ended nearly a century of tribute to China. The 21st Emperor Yuryaku is compared to the last king of Japan, Waobu, and the inscription on the iron sword excavated from the Inariyama burial mound, which bears the name of Yuryaku, is said to show a leap from “king” to “great king” as a vassal of the Chinese emperor. The title “Waoubu” is a title bestowed by Song (420~479). In addition, the inscription on the iron sword excavated from the Etafuneyama burial mound shows the title “Chitenka Daio”. Some believe that this indicates the King of Japan’s intention to break away from the tributary system and establish his own state to rule over the whole country. “Chitenka Daio” is the title of the head of the Yamato kingdom from the Kofun to Asuka periods, or the title of the sovereign of Japan.
#Edafuneyama Tumulus is located at 302 Eda, Wasui-cho, Tamana-gun, Kumamoto Prefecture, Kyushu, Japan.
By the way, in ancient Chinese book called “The mythical legend of the three emperors and five emperors”. This is honored as a cultural hero who brought civilization to mankind or as a propagator of civilization who transmitted heavenly culture to man. There are two theories that refer to the Three Emperors as “Emperor of Heaven, Emperor of the Earth, and Emperor of Man” and “Fukugi, Shinnoh, and Jyoka”. The Qin Shi Huang Chronicle refers to the Emperor of Heaven, the Earth Emperor, and the Emperor of Thailand as the “Three Emperors,” and the Chun Shu Latitude, which is drawn from the “Taiping Goran”, also refers to the Emperor of Heaven, the Earth Emperor, and the Emperor of Man as the “Three Emperors. The title “Emperor” appears here.
“Emperor of Heaven” is written in Kanji characters as , which is the same as “Emperor”.
#”The Chronicle of Qin Shi Huangdi” is the history of the first and greatest emperor in Chinese history, Qin Shi Huangdi. It describes the events from his ascension to the throne, to his unification of the country, to his proclaiming himself emperor, to his tour of the country, to his death on the plain of Shaqiu, and to the accession of the second emperor and the fall of the Qin Empire after his death.
Also, ancient Chinese knew that from the ground, the stars seemed to revolve around a certain point in the sky, which they called “Hokushin” (corresponding to the North Pole of the heavens) and considered to be the center of the universe. There is a theory that it was then deified and incorporated into the titles emperors used in Taoism and Japan. Emperor Komei’s ceremonial robe, owned by the Imperial Household Agency, also has the Big Dipper placed on the upper center of the back. This is considered one of the most likely candidates for the origin of the title of Emperor in Japan.
large sleeves （cited from Wikipedia・https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kone.jpg）
The red ground is decorated with eight patterns of the twelve chapters of the imperial robes: the sun, the moon, the polestar, the mountains, the dragons, the Japanese pheasant, the tigers and monkeys, and the fire. Each pattern is represented by embroidery. At the time of Emperor Komyo’s accession to the throne in the 4th year of Kenmu, it was embroidered on another silk and affixed to a large sleeve. The Big Dipper is placed on the upper back.
In any case, the title “Emperor” is derived from ancient Chinese creation myths. It is said that the emperor (tenkoh) appeared at the time the earth was born and formed the foundation for human life by establishing the calendar, etc. The Chinese character “emperor” is a combination of the words “heavenly world” and “shining one”. In other words, a heavenly messenger descended and thereby gave birth to the country of China.
There are many “kings” in the world today, but only “His Majesty The Emperor” is translated into English as “emperor.” The title “emperor” was taken from the “Three Emperors and Five Emperors,” and was established at the request of Qin Shi Huangdi, the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty, who unified China. Since the Five Emperors did not unify all of China, the title “emperor” has the meaning of “one who is beyond the emperor and close to God. Thus, the title “emperor” is a title with creation-mythological religious significance.
Around the sixth or seventh century, the unification of the country progressed in Japan, and a large government came into existence, ruling over a region spanning from Kyushu to the Kanto region. The head of this regime used the title “Daio” (Great King). At some point in time, this changed to the name “emperor. There are two theories that this was either Emperor Suiko’s reign or Emperor Temmu’s reign, with Emperor Temmu’s theory now prevailing. Since “Emperor” is a higher rank than “King,” the use of this title suggests that Japan at that time was conscious of its desire to elevate itself in the international community.
Since the ruler of Japan is said to be a descendant of Amaterasu, the title “emperor” would then fit perfectly. Since Amaterasu is a sun god, the character for “emperor” fits the meaning of “shining one.
# Goddess of the Sun /Amaterasu Oomikami is said to be the most precious deity, symbolizing the sun, light, love, and truth, and is considered the ancestor of the imperial family. She has also been recognized as a “goddess” since ancient times.
Thus, although the origin of the name “emperor” cannot be definitively determined, it seems certain that it is a title derived from ancient Chinese creation myths in East Asia.
By the way, the three naturalists who came to Japan during the Edo period, including the famous Siebold, are called the “Three Scholars of Dejima” after Dejima Island in Nagasaki. One of the “Three Scholars of Dejima” is Engelbert Kempel, a German physician who came to Japan about 130 years before Siebold. Kempel stayed in Japan for two years from 1690 and wrote “Nihon-shi” (The History of Japan) upon his return to Japan.
In his “Nihon-shi,”Kempel writes,”Japan has two emperors: the emperor, who is a religional emperor, and the shogun, who is a secular emperor. Written around 1693, Kempel’s “Nihon-shi” is considered to be the first Western document that refers to the emperor as “emperor.”
According to the common sense of diplomacy in the world, the emperor is more prestigious than the prime minister, the president, or the king. Prime ministers and presidents are elected representatives of the people of their times, and kings are heirs to the royal family, but emperors include the culture and religion of the country, in other words, they are “representatives of civilization. Although emperors in East Asia have already disappeared in their birthplace, China, Japan has historically been a part of that empire in the past. The Japanese title of emperor, which is derived from the ancient Chinese creation myth, is the only historical continuation of the creation myth in East Asia into the modern era.