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Emperor of Japan
Emperor Antoku.jpg
Reign 1180–1185
Born 22 December 1178
Died 25 April 1185 (aged 6)
Buried Amida-ji no Misasagi (Shimonoseki)
Predecessor Takakura
Successor Go-Toba

Emperor Antoku (安徳天皇 , Antoku-tennō, 22 December 1178–25 April 1185) was the 81st emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. His reign started in 1180 and ended in 1185.

Traditional history

Before he became the monarch, his personal name (imina) was Tokohito-shinnō (言仁親王 ). or Kotohito-shinnō. He was the son of Emperor Takakura.

Events of Antoku's life

Antoku was named Crown Prince at around one month of age. He became emperor at one year of age.

  • 1180 (Jishō 4, 21st day of the 4th month): In the 12th year of Takakura-tennō 's reign, he abdicated. The succession (the senso) was received by his infant son. Soon after, Emperor Antoku is said to have accepted the monarch's role and duties and powers (sokui).
  • 1183 (Juei 2, 20th day of the 8th month): Emperor Go-Toba was named emperor by former-Emperor Go-Shirakawa. This meant that there were two emperors at the same time. Go-Toba was in Kyoto and Antoko was fleeing towards the south.
  • 1185 (Genryaku 2, 24th day of the 3rd month): The Taira clan and the Minamoto clan clashed in the naval Battle of Dan-no-ura in the Shimonoseki Strait at the southern tip of the island of Honshu.

The Taira were defeated; and Antoku died in the sea after the naval battle was lost. Antoku's grandmother drowned herself by jumping into the sea with the young emperor in her arms.

Account of the Battle of Dan-no-ura, 1185 AD

There was a battle by an inland sea (Dan No Ura) on April 24th 1185, between two powerful Japanese clans .( The ruling Hekei and another clan called Genji) Each asserted a superior claim to the throne . The Hekei were badly outnumbered and out manoeuvered. Antoku`s guardian was his grandmother,( lady Ni) When it became clear the Hekei had lost the battle, the boy emperor`s grandmother resolved not to be caught by the enemy alive. " Where are you to take me?" asked the boy emperor. Blinded by tears, the child emperor recited a Buddah prayer, then prayed to the east, then to the west to say farewell to the Buddah. Lady Ni took him in her arms, and with the words: " In the depths of the ocean is our capital." They jumped together into the sea and drowned. Then followed a frenzied mass suicide by the remaining Hekei forces. Only 43 Hekei survived, all women in waiting. They were reduced to selling flowers and other favours to the local fisher folk. Each year on April 24th a ceremony is held, at a shrine near the scene of the battle, to commemorate the child emperor`s short life.

After his death

The story of Emperor Antoku and his mother's family is told in The Tale of the Heike.

Amida-ji no misasagi near Akama Shrine at Shimonoseki in Yamaguchi Prefecture is considered to be Antoku's symbolic tomb.

Eras of Antoku's reign

The years of Antoku's reign reign include more than one era name.

Related pages

The chrysanthemum symbol of the Japanese emperor and his family.
Preceded by
Emperor Takakura
Emperor or Tennō:

Succeeded by
Emperor Go-Toba
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