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The years of Emperor Jitō's reign or the Jitō (Japanese: 持統) period should not be misunderstood as a Japanese era name (年号, nengō, lit. year name). The nengō system which was introduced in reign of Emperor Kotoku was abandoned at the end of his reign, and the era name was not updated for a quite some time, except for very brief re-occurrence near the close of Emperor Temmu's reign.

For further discussion, see Talk:Japanese era name.

During the years after Emperor Kōtoku, the reigning sovereigns were Saimei-tennō (斉明天皇), then Tenji-tennō (天智天皇), then Kōbun-tennō (弘文天皇), then Temmu-tennō (天武天皇), and then Jitō-tennō (持統天皇).[1] The first year of Empress Jitō's rule (持統天皇元年; 686) could be arguably abbreviated as "the first year of Jitō" (持統元年; 686), but this is nowhere understood as a true nengō. The reigns of Japanese emperors and empresses are not nengō, nor were the two considered to be the same until Meiji came on the scene.

References to the emperors who ruled during this period are properly written as, for example,

  • "the 3rd year of Jitō" (持統天皇3年), and
  • not "Jitō 3" (持統3年).

Nengō were abolished during the interregnum years between Hakuchi and Shuchō, and again between Shuchō and Taihō.

  • The commonly accepted pre-Tahiō nengō are:
  • Taika: 645.6.19–650.2.15
  • Hakuchi: 650.2.15–654.10.?
    • GAP/interregnum
  • Shuchō: 686.7.20–686.9.?
    • GAP/interregnum
  • Taihō: 701.3.21–704.5.10


Non-nengō period

  • 1st year of Jitō's reign (持統天皇元年; 686): A new period is marked by the beginning of the reign of Empress Jitō, but the end of the previous nengō Hakuchi 6 (654) does not imply the commencement of a new nengō in the succeeding reigns.

Events of the Jitō period

  • Jitō 1 (686): Emperor Temmu dies, but his son and heir was deemed too young to receive the succession (senso). Instead, the mother of the heir succeeds the Chrysanthemum Throne (senso) as Empress Jitō until her son would grow mature enough to accept senso and sokui.[2]
  • Jitō 3 (688): Prince Kusakabe, Empress Jitō's son, dies at age of 27.
  • Jitō 4 (689): Empress Jitō formally acceeds the Chrysanthemum Throne (sokui) on the first month, first day.
  • Jitō 11 (697): Prince Karu, the Empress' grandson, is made the Heir Apparent on the second month, 16th day. The Empress gets sick. She abdicates the Chrysanthemum Throne in favor of Prince Karu on the eighth month, first day.

Empress Jitō distributed rice to the aged throughout the years of her reign.[3]



  1. ^ Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). Annales des empereurs du Japon, pp. 30-58.
  2. ^ Varley, H. Paul. (1980). Jinnō Shōtōki, p. 44. [A distinct act of senso is unrecognized prior to Emperor Tenji; and all sovereigns except Jitō, Yōzei, Go-Toba, and Fushimi have senso and sokui in the same year until the reign of Go-Murakami.]
  3. ^ Titsingh, p. 60.

Further reading

External links

Jitō period 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th 11th 12th 13th
Gregorian 686 687 688 687 689 690 691 692 693 694 695 696 697
Preceded by
Era or nengō:

Succeeded by
Preceded by
Temmu period
Sovereign/tennō's reign:
Jitō period
non-Nengō dating regime

Succeeded by
Mommu period


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