The Imperial Line
edogawa.jpg This article was created with material from the abandoned Kurotokage sourcebook project. That material is in the public domain since 2003. The unfinished original content is archived.


1. The difference between the emperor and the real power (shogun).

2. There was only one Imperial line until Antoku (1183), where we say a split occurred. All of Antoku's descendents are created, and we have positioned them as the IP (The Taira). Assuming an average rule of 40 years (since many of them are unaware of reality, except in DLs, 40 may even be short…), that gives us about 20 people. Is there any point in listing them up? Since nobody knows about them, including themselves most of the time, maybe nobody bothered. There may have been multiple "The Taira" as a number of people in the bloodline reached the right age. Were any of them female?

3. The historical split occurred with the Northern Dynasty (1332-1390), and resulted in the creation of the Kumazawa family line, who we have positioned as the VP. They are apparently hiding their history and just living normal lives now.

4. Empresses: Especially avatars of Amaterasu (see Amaterasu/Himiko). Or maybe these should be covered under Amaterasu?

Need a good chart of emperor names, reign names, dates and bloodline.

The Origins of the Imperial Line

The Japanese imperial line is said to have the longest continued lineage of any royal bloodline in the world, tracing its history back to at least AD 600, and according to legend for a considerable time before that. According to the Nihongi (The Chronicles of Japan from the Earliest Times to AD 697), which was written in AD720, Japan was created and ruled by the gods for 1,792,470 years until 667 BCE. In 667 BCE the first Emperor Jimmu reached the age of 45 and launched an aggressive program of conquest, bringing the Osaka-Kyoto region of Japan under his control. This region has remained the center of Imperial Japan until the present day.

The official genealogies of Japan trace all emperors (and empresses) back to this figure, although the succession has not always been direct. For over a thousand years, the Emperor was revered by the people of Japan as a literal god, and a thousand years of tradition does not die easily regardless of what radio broadcasts were made at the end of World War II.

For most of this time, the Emperor was a political pawn used by the most powerful families of the era, and isolated by them from the general populace. Time and time again the balance of political power shifted and a new government arose, but the Imperial family remained secure, sacred, and almost invincible in the Imperial City. The Imperial City itself was shifted with the centuries, but the traditions remained unchanged. The real power was almost always in the hand of the shogun, the supreme commander of the armies. Many of them respected the Emperor, more often they kept the Emperor imprisoned and impoverished, utilizing him merely as a controlled rubber stamp to give "official" backing to their arbitrary decrees. Theoretically, however, all power rested in the hands of the Emperor, and the shogun was merely his hired underling.

The Fall of the Taira

The Taira, the family which held essentially all the power between 1160 and 1185 after the fall of the Fujiwara, was exceedingly corrupt. They spent the majority of their time in the Imperial City, Kyoto, and largely ignored the rest of the country except as a means of providing them with tax monies. The Minamoto clan, on the other hand, had been for generations the warriors of the Fujiwara, and had defeated their enemies, steadily expanding Japan to include the entire island of Honshu. Yoritomo and Yoshitsune were an excellent pair, with Yoritomo one of the best strategists of his time, and Toshitsune an unparalleled tactician and warrior. They felt it was time for the Minamoto to control the power in Japan, and together moved to topple the Taira, replacing it with their own line. They were successful.

A series of battles spearheaded by Minamoto Yoritomo and his younger brother Yoshitsune, a brilliant tactician and warrior, ended with the climactic battle of Shimonoseki, in the narrow channel separating Kyushu from Honshu, in 1185. At the battle the Taira were shattered, fleeing in disorder and vanishing from history forever. The young Emperor Antoku, only eight at the time, was also lost there, according to legend jumping into the waves with Niidono, his aunt, still gripping the sacred sword Kusanagi, one of the three Imperial regalia.

An attempt was made to toss the sacred mirror into the water by the wife of Lord Shigehira. Just as she was about to jump, an arror pinned her clothing the boat, holding her. Several Genji soldiers snatched the casket and key, and as they were holding it were suddenly blinded and blood rushed from their noses. One of the heiki still alive said it contained one of the imperial treasures, and no commoner dare open it. Needless to say, Yoritomo took control of the mirror.

Yoritomo, now effective head of power in Japan, quickly exterminated all traces of the Taira, and then moved to eliminate the only remaining possible threat to his power: Yoshitsune. Yoshitsune was finally cornered and committed suicide rather than be captured in 1189, in Koromogawa, Iwate Prefecture.

At least, that's what the history books say.

The reality is a bit different.

The Amperor Antoku was a Dreamer, and was recognized at an early age as an extremely powerful one. This did not escape the notice of the Shoka, of course, who were successful in awakening Amaterasu. As it happened, this fit in quite well with Yoromoto's plans, because he was already committed to using Mythos assistance in toppling the Taira. Through the assistance of the shoka, he was able to reach an agreement with Amaterasu, whereby he would receive assistance in battle in return for the young Emperor. Yoromoto jumped at the chance: he wanted power, not the Emperor. And if Amaterasu wanted the boy Antoku, she was welcome to him… there were any number of other people with Imperial blood who could be made Emperor at the "request" of the man who controlled, on a practical level, all of Japan.

Yoshitsune, however, was little interested in political power. He was a warrior (and a lover), and he was into "the noble fight" and the thrill of victory. He was also, unfortunately for Yoritomo, loyal to his Emperor. Yoshitsune discovered his brother's foul plot quite by accident, and swore to assist the Emperor. He was assisted in this by the Tainin Hodo, who did not, however, reveal themselves to him. Yoshitsune, until his death, believed that he had been assisted merely by a monk who happened to agree with him. He never discovered that Benkei, his trusted companion in his last battles and flight, was actually a Tainin Hodo monk.

As a Minamoto, however, Yoshitsune also recognized that his brother did have a point: the Taira were corrupt, and in spite of Yorotomi's evil, the Minamoto as a whole represented a relatively clean and simple warrior ethic that he felt better. It was, in fact, one of the sources of the samurai ethic that would shape Japan so much in later centuries. He agreed with his brother that the Taira must be destroyed, and the Minamoto were the only power bloc that could replace them. He secretly determined that the Emperor Antoku, however, would escape alive.

The war swept the entire nation, and Yoritomo's armies were almost always victorious. The final battle was in Shimonoseki, at the northern edge of Kyushu, in the narrow strait separating it from Honshu. After a massive sea battle, which Yoshitsune won handily enough, the Emperor Antoku and his nurse were seen to slip under waves forever. What happened then, however, was a bit different that the histories: they were spirited away with the assistance of the Tainin Hodo.

The shattered remnants of the Taira, believing their Emperor dead, fled in disarray. A large contingent of them ended up in Shiina, a deep valley hidden in the almost inpenetrable mountains in the center of Kyushu. They lived in fear of retribution for generations, discovering only much later that the Minamoto themselves had also fallen to yet another contender for power.

The young Emperor travelled north to stay with the Tainin Hodo at Ryuzoji for about 20 years, and then moved yet further north to the growing trading port of Tosa, at the northeast tip of Honshu. He lived here, with a growing family, as a merchant trading with China, until his death at a ripe old age. The family remained here in secret for quite some time.

Yoshitsune, meanwhile, had made a decision to lead the pursuers (of which there were many - Yoritomo had put a healthy price on his head) on a wild goose chase, and raced the length and breadth of Japan. In 1189, he was supposed to have been trapped at Koromogawa, Iwate Prefecture, and to have committed suicide rather than be captured. In fact, they continued to flee north, bypassing the nearby Ryuzoji Temple and then into Hokkaido. Benkei worked with Yoshitsune, together constructing a plan to return the Emperor Antoku to power and (more importantly) to topple Yoritomo because of the potential for Mythos evil he represented. Several dozen tons of gold sand were collected in Hokkaido, to be used for military men and materiel. His plan never came to fuitition, however, as they began to be pursued by Mythos creatures. The gold was buried in "Kuma-no-sawa", a swamp in Hokkaido, and the pair of them vanished, some say moving on to the Chinese continent where Yoshitsune became Genghiz Khan, and went on to carve out his own empire there.

This gold was later used by Ryuzoji Temple and the Tainin Hodo as required. In addition to being in an unknown place in relatively-unpopulated Hokkaido, the entire region has been since designated as a JSDF bombardment practice range, providing an excellent reason for keeping everyone away from the area. It is located somewhere in the region around Shikotsu-Toya National Park and the JSDF Shimamatsu Range, north of Lake Shikotsuko.

What happened to Amaterasu? She was quite unhappy to lose Emperor Antoku. She was little interested in taking revenge on petty human beings, though, and merely fell back asleep. The shoka, however, suspected that Antoku still existed, and spurred on the pursuit of Yoshitsune in an effort to recapture the Emperor. The shoka continued their search for centuries, and still continue it today, convinced that the line of Emperor Antoku must still exist, and could still be the key that they need to fulfill Amaterasu's plan.

Hiding, and the Ultimate Hiding Place

With the combined powers of the shoka and the shogunate after him, The Taira and the Taininhodo had no choice but to flee. The Taininhodo had never been revealed, and so were able to operate relatively freely without fear of capture - in fact, Taininhodo almost always had a number of monks in the Imperial Court in Kyoto, collecting information, as well as a number of information sources in the shogun's headquarters, whether Kamakura, Osaka or Edo (Tokyo). The Taininhodo had no idea at this time exactly why Amaterasu wanted the Emperor back, but it was clear that she was not the "good" goddess described in so many Japanese myths and legends. Fewer and fewer people were told the truth of his identity, until only about a half a dozen knew. One of them was, of course, The Taira himself, and the rest were Taininhodo monks.

In 1333, The Taira made his move in a carefully-plotted scheme designed to win back control of the Imperial Throne. He controlled Go-Daigo, who launched an effort to dislodge the existing Emperor and return to the glorious days of Imperial rule. For a period of about 60 years, there were two Imperial courts, each claiming to be the sole ruler of Japan. Ultimately, Go-Daigo failed, and was exiled, leaving Amaterasu and the shoka in uncontested control, but escaping with full knowledge of Amaterasu's plan to rebirth herself in a child of the Imperial bloodline, rulilng Japan and eventually the world. The shoka never knew that he was, in fact, The Taira, and this proved a fortuitous circumstance… for over six centuries, the line of Go-Daigo continued to exist, living in poverty under the lay name "Kuma-no-sawa" (later shortened to merely Kumazawa), watched but largely ignored by the shoka and their minions. At last, The Taira had found a safe hiding place, directly under the watching eyes of his dearest enemies.

Even so, over the centuries The Taira was often a strong Dreamer, and Amaterasu sometimes caught his scent in the Dreamlands, although being unable to track it back to its source on earth. The efforts of the shoka continued, although varying with the changing times due to the changing situation in Japan, the actions of the reigning Emperor, and above all whether or not Amaterasu was awake and could be communicated with at the time. A number of times they approached the Kumazawa line, but never stumbled on the secret. It was clear, however, that it was only a matter of time before they did. The Taininhodo and The Taira met sometime in the late 16th century and agreed that the best place to hide The Taira would be in the Dreamlands… while his physical body and consciousness continued to live a normal life as the merchant family Kumazawa, his Dreamland self led quite a different existence. At times he was a monk at the Taininhodo temple in the Dreamlands, at times a merchant, at times a silversmith. There he retained his knowledge, and met with the monks in times of need to discuss happenings back in Japan. On one occasion he actually visited Amaterasu's Dreamlands, with a small bodyguard, but stayed only long enough to get the general atmosphere. (The Taininhodo have hired other explorers to keep track of goings-on there, through trading ships and other means.)

Additional information from Holtom's "Japanese Enthronement Ceremonies"

On the night before the formal enthronement of a new Emperor the Chinkon Sai (spirit purification ceremony) is held. The primary purpose of this service is to tranquilize the spirit of the Emperor. The ancient Japanese belief was that a person was inhabited by multiple spirits, such as a "gentle spirit, a rough spirit, a luck spirit and a wondrous spirit." These spirits might wander from the body and thus be separated from the body in time of crisis. The Chinkon Sai is designed to ensure that the Emperor is "all there" for the enthronement.

The ceremony consists of setting up a temporary shrine, with eight ancient Shinto gods on enshrined on the right, and Onaobi-no-Kami on the left (this god "rectifies all errors and sets all wrongs, right"). A variety of offerings are placed, along with the Eight Imperial Treasures. Originally there were 10 treasures, all brought by Ninigi-no-Mikoto when he descended from heaven: The Mirror of the Office, the Mirror of the Shore, the Yata Sword, the Life-Inspiring Jewel, the Jewel of Perfect Health and Strength, the Jewel for Resuscitating the Dead, the Jewel for Warding Off Evil from Roads, the Serpent-Preventing Scarf, the Bee-Preventing Scarf and the Scarf of Various Materials and Efficacies. All were magical objects related to the protection and preservation of life. If these objects were shaken and the user counted from one to ten out loud, "such mighty power would be released from them as would recall even the dead to life." It is unclear what has happened to the original treasures, and they are represented by eight replicas instead.

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