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Emperor of Japan
Reign 661–668 (regency)
Predecessor Saimei
Successor Kōbun
Born 626
Died January 7, 672)
Ōmi no Miya(Shiga)
Burial Yamashina no misasagi (Kyoto)

Emperor Tenji (天智天皇 , Tenji-tennō, 626 – January 7, 671), also known as Emperor Tenchi, was the 38th Emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. His reign started in 661 and ended in 671.

Traditional narrative

Before he became the monarch, his personal name (imina) was Prince Naka-no-Ōe (中大兄皇子 , Naka-no-Ōe no Ōji).

He was the son of Emperor Jomei.

Events of Tenji's life

Prince Naka no Ōe was made heir apparent and Crown Prince in 661.

  • 661: In the third year of Empress Saimei's reign, she died. Her son received the succession (senso), but he governed as Crown Prince for the next six years. He did not formally accept the monarch's role and duties and powers.
  • 668: Emperor Tenji became the monarch (sokui). This was confirmed in ceremonies.
  • 668: In the seventh year of Tenji's reign, flammable water (petroleum) from Echigo Province was presented to Emperor Tenji.
  • 672: Tenji is said to have compiled the first Japanese legal code. This was the Ōmi Code, consisting of 22 volumes. These law became effective in the last year of Tenji's reign.

Prince Ōtomo (Ōtomo-shinnō) was the favorite son of Emperor Tenji; and he was also the first to be accorded the title of Daijō-daijin.

Memorial Shinto shrine and mausoleum honoring Emperor Tenji

Tenji improved the military forces which had been established during the Taika reforms.

After his death

The actual site of Tenji's grave is known. This emperor is traditionally venerated at a memorial Shinto shrine (misasagi) at Yamashina-ku, Kyoto.

The Imperial Household Agency designates this location as Tenji's mausoleum. It is formally named Yamashina no misasagi.

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The chrysanthemum symbol of the Japanese emperor and his family
Preceded by
Empress Saimei
Emperor of Japan:

Succeeded by
Emperor Kōbun

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