Illustration of Emperor Sujin.

Emperor Sujin and Andonyama Kofun

Emperor Sujin was the founder of the Yamato Dynasty in the central part of Kinki region, including present day Nara. His tomb, the Sujin-tenno-ryo Andonyama kofun in Tenri, Nara, is one of Japan’s most visited ancient tombs.

Illustration of Emperor Sujin.

Emperor Sujin  (148 BC-29 BC), also known as Hatsukunishirasu Sumeramikoto and Mimakiiribikoinie no Sumeramikoto, was the tenth emperor of Japan. He was responsible for establishing the Ise Shrine, or the Saikū (a village about 10 kilometers northwest of Ise Shrine) associated with it to enshrine Amaterasu.

Illustration of Emperor Sujin.

Ise Shrine, part of the Imperial Regalia, is said to be the home of the Sacred Mirror, one of the objects bestowed by Amaterasu. The chief priest or priestess of Ise shrine must be from the Japanese imperial family and is responsible for watching over the shrine.

Emperor Sujin is also credited for initiating the worship of the kami Ōmononushi, in the Japanese  Shinto tradition in Mount Miwa. During the reign of Emperor Sujin, a terrible plague affected Japan. One of the descendants of Ōmononushi, Ōtataneko, petitioned the kami. Emperor Sujin had a dream where Ōmononushi appeared to him and revealed he was responsible for the plague, and that it would not end until an appropriate priesthood was set up in Mount Miwa. The Emperor created the priesthood and the plague stopped.
Emperor Sujin was the first to perform a census and establish and regularize a system of taxation in Japan. During his twelfth year of rule, he ordered a census of the populace “with grades of seniority, and the order of forced labour.” The taxes he required from the people were in the form of mandatory labor called yuhazu no mitsugi or “bow-end tax” for men and tanasue no mitsugi or “finger-end tax” for women. Peace and prosperity marked the reign of Emperor Sujin and he is known for the title Hatsu kuni shirasu sumeramikoto , “The Emperor, the august founder of the country.”

Emperor Sujin’s grand gravesite, Andonyama kofun, reflects the considerable power he had at the time of his reign. Major renovations were conducted by Yanagimoto Clan for irrigation use during the end of the Edo period, resulting in some changes from its original appearance. The rows of the pine trees and the surrounding moat still filled with water continue to be majestic and tranquil. There is a hiking trail around the kofun and the views are fantastic, all a breathtaking tribute to the accomplishments of a great man.