In light of the increasing number of spurious "royal experts" infiltrating the media, Princess Palace has created this online testing and training center/centre (a.k.a. trivia quizzes) to facilitate the recognition and certification of actual royal experts. Anyone receiving certification may add C.R.E. (certified royal expert) after one's name. This site is created and maintained entirely for fun. Its creator asserts no authority for certifying anyone's qualifications for anything. ;)

29 January 2011

Tenno Designation Answers

Provided by Yvonne Strong L.C.R.E.

Meiji-tenno among kami and emperors
1. Emperor Akihito is the 125th emperor in the traditional order of succession. How many of those rulers have been female?
The list of Japanese Emperors goes back to the mythical Emperor Jimmu in 660 BC; he was supposed to be the great-great-great grandson of the Sun goddess Amaterasu. Actual real-life emperors (people for whom there's independent historical evidence aside from history books) came on the scene around the 5th century AD, but the emperors are numbered starting with Jimmu; Emperor Akihito is 125th in this list. From the time when the emperors were real-life people, eight women have ruled as Emperor: Empress Suiko (592-628), Empress Kōgyoku (642-645 and then again as Empress Saimei 655-661), Empress Jitō (686-697), Empress Gemmei (707-715), her daughter Empress Genshō (715-724, the only case of a woman passing the throne to her daughter), Empress Kōken (749-758 and then again as Empress Shōtoku 764-770), Empress Meishō (1629-1643), and Empress Go-Sakuramachi (1762-1771). Since it was required for members of the imperial family to marry within certain related families, all the emperors and empresses were related, so the line can always be traced back from one male to a previous male even when there were female rulers in between. In only one case did a woman pass the throne to her daughter, when Empress Kōken succeeded her mother Empress Gemmei.

The actual prohibition on female rulers came with the Meiji Constitution of 1889, an attempt to modernise Japan by creating a new constitution based on European principles. This new constitution was based on Prussian law, and the succession to the throne of Prussia excluded females; Article 2 of the Meiji Constitution specifies that the throne will be succeeded to by imperial male descendants. Nowadays it's claimed that it was this way all along in Japan and the female rulers were anomalies who didn't really count, with the succession eventually reverting to men (where it belonged of course), but at the time these women were considered rulers in their own right. Nowadays, with members of the imperial family marrying complete outsiders, the unbroken descent through the Y chomosome would be lost if women were able to succeed to the throne; however, there's more to genetics than the Y chromosome although certain dinosaurs in the IHA appear to have a fairly shaky grasp of genetics.

Since there's one legendary empress (Empress Jingū, 201-269) and since two of the eight empresses ruled twice and had different names for each of their two reigns, any number from 8 to 11 can be interpreted as a correct answer. Also, since the title Tennō is gender neutral, it's correct to call these rulers Emperor or Empress.

2. By what name is Toshi-no-miya better known?
Toshi-no-miya is more commonly known as Princess Aiko. Young members of the imperial family are given personal titles as well as names. Princess Aiko (whose name means "love child") has the personal title of Toshi-no-miya ("Toshi" means "one who respects others" and "no-miya" means Prince or Princess). Most female names in Japan, and all female names in the imperial family, end in "-ko," which means "child." In the imperial family, male names end in "-hito," which means "person" or adult." The personal title of Crown Prince Naruhito is Hiro-no-miya, and during his two years at Oxford in the 1980s he was known as Prince Hiro. The personal title of his brother Prince Akishino (whose actual name is Fumihito - Akishino is the name of the branch of the royal family that he heads) is Aya-no-miya, and the personal title of their sister Princess Sayako while she was still a member of the royal family was Nori-no-miya.The Emperor's personal title is Tsugu-no-miya.

3. What does the Imperial Regalia consist of?
The Imperial Regalia of Japan (otherwise known as the Three Sacred Treasures) are the sword (Kusanagi), the mirror (Yata no Kagami), and the jewel (Yasakani no Magatama). They're referred to as sacred because they're the most sacred relics of the Shintō religion, originating with Amaterasu the Sun goddess. Legend has it that Amaterasu hid in a cave from her brother Susanoo (god of the sea and storms), so that the world went dark. She was lured out of the cave by Ame-no-Uzume (goddess of dawn) who had hung the mirror and jewel outside the cave so Amaterasu would see her reflection and emerge from the cave, bringing light back to the world. The sword was found by Susanoo inside the tail of an eight-headed serpent that he slew, and he presented it to Amaterasu to make up for the incident that led to her going into hiding in the cave. She presented the regalia to her grandson Ninigi-no-Mikoto when she sent him to Earth. He was the great-grandfather of Jimmu, the first (legendary) emperor, and the possession of the regalia signifies the descent of the emperor from Amaterasu. The regalia are used at the enthronement ceremony, where they are presented to the new emperor. It is believed that the jewel (which is thought to be a piece of jade) is stored at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, the mirror is stored at the Inner Shrine of Ise in Mie Prefecture, and the sword is stored at the Atsuta Shrine in Nagoya.

4. What is the Utakai Hajime?
The Utakai Hajime is the annual new year's poetry-reading ceremony which takes place at the Imperial Palace in January in the presence of the Emperor and Empress. The tradition of poetry readings at the imperial court goes back for hundreds of years, to the time when the country was ruled by shoguns while the emperors sat in their palaces and concentrated on religious and cultural matters. The poems are the tanka (five-line, or short) form of waka poetry. Poems by the Emperor and Empress and the Crown Prince and Princess are read at the ceremony. The other poems to be read are selected from submissions by the public and professional poets, and the members of the public whose poems are selected for reading are invited to attend the ceremony. Each year there's a different theme for the poems; this year's theme was Leaf. The ceremony is televised, and the poems submitted by the imperial family are posted at the Imperial Household Agency website.

5. In the Meiji restoration of 1868, what was restored?

The Meiji Restoration transferred power from the Tokugawa shoguns, where it had resided since 1603, to the Emperor. Throughout most of history the emperors had been figureheads while various families of shoguns ruled the country on their behalf, but there had been times (usually fairly short-lived) when the emperors had taken power themselves. Hence the term "restoration," since power was being restored to the emperor. By the mid-19th century the Tokugawa shogunate wasn't all that formidable, and the arrival of Commodore Perry and his fleet in the mid-1850s showed how much more advanced Western technology was, while Japan was still a basically feudal society. Emperor Meiji's predecessor, Emperor Kōmei, was already asserting his authority over the shoguns, and after his sudden death in 1867, Emperor Meiji continued the policy. By 1868 he had formally taken power, and the stage was set for direct imperial rule, which was codified in the Meiji Constitution of 1889. After World War II, a new constitution was written by the Occupation, returning the Emperor to the status of a figurehead.

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