Emperor Keitai (継体天皇, Keitai-tennō), also known as Keitai-okimi, was the 26th emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession.
No firm dates can be assigned to this emperor's life or reign, but he is conventionally considered to have reigned from 507 to 531.
Keitai is considered to have ruled the country during the early-6th century, but there is a paucity of information about him. There is insufficient material available for further verification and study. Significant differences exist in the records of the Kojiki and the Nihon Shoki.
Kojiki puts this emperor's birth year at 485; and his date of death is said to have been April 9, 527. In the extant account, he is called Ōdo no Mikoto (袁本杼命).
Nihon Shoki gives his birth year at 450; and he is said to have died on February 7, 531 or 534. In this historical record, he is said to have been called Ōdo no Kimi (男大迹王) and Hikofuto no Mikoto (彦太尊). Also, records identify him as Wo Ofu Ato-no-Hiko Fudo no Mikoto.
In other historical records, he is said to have originally been King of Koshi, a smaller tribal entity, apparently in northern parts of central Japan, perhaps as far as the coast of Sea of Japan. Some modern reference works of history call Keitai simply King Ohoto of Koshi.
Keitai's contemporary title would not have been tennō, as most historians believe this title was not introduced until the reigns of Emperor Tenmu and Empress Jitō. Rather, it was presumably Sumeramikoto or Amenoshita Shiroshimesu Ōkimi (治天下大王), meaning "the great king who rules all under heaven." Alternatively, Keitai might have been referred to as (ヤマト大王/大君) or the "Great King of Yamato."
If Emperor Keitai began a new dynasty as some historians believe, then Emperor Buretsu would have been the last monarch of the first recorded dynasty of Japan.
Keitai was not the son of the immediate previous monarch. According to the Kojiki (712) and Nihon Shoki (720), Buretsu died without a successor, at which time a fifth generation grandson of Emperor Ōjin, Keitai, came and ascended the throne.
The genealogical trees of the Nihon Shoki have been lost, and the accuracy of its account of events remains unknown. This uncertainty raises arguable doubts about this emperor's genealogy.
Genealogy information is supplemented in Shaku Nihongi which quotes from the now lost text Jōgūki (7th century). It says he was a son of Ushi no Kimi, a grandson of Ohi no Kimi, a great-grandson of Ohohoto no Kimi (brother to Emperor Ingyō's consort), a great-great-grandson of Wakanuke Futamata no Kimi, and a great-great-great-grandson of Emperor Ōjin.
According to Kojiki and Nihon Shoki, his father was Hikoushi no Kimi and his mother was Furihime. When Buretsu died, Kanamura recommended Keitai at his age of 58 as a possible heir to the Yamato throne.
Although genealogy information described in Shaku Nihongi leaves room for discussion, many scholars acknowledge the blood relationship with the Okinaga clan, a powerful local ruling family or the collateral line of the Imperial family-governed Oumi region (a part of present-day Shiga Prefecture). This family produced many empresses and consorts throughout history. According to Nihon Shoki, Ohohoto no Kimi, the great-grandfather of Emperor Keitai, married into the Okinaga clan. Keitai's mother, Furihime, was from a local ruling family in Koshi (Echizen Province), so his mother brought him to her home after his father's death. Interestingly, abundant traditions relating to the Imperial family have been passed down by shrines and old-established families in both regions.
Regardless of speculation about Keitai's genealogy, it is well settled that there was an extended period of disputes over the succession which developed after Keitai's death. A confrontation arose between adherents of two branches of the Yamato, pitting the supporters of sons who would become known as Emperor Ankan and Emperor Senka against those who were backers of the son who would become known as Emperor Kinmei.
Keitai declared his ascension in Kusuba, in the northern part of Kawachi Province (present day Shijonawate, Osaka), and married a younger sister of Buretsu, Princess Tashiraga. It is supposed that his succession was not welcomed by everyone, and it took about 20 years for Keitai to enter Yamato Province, near Kawachi and the political center of Japan at the time.
In Keitai's later years, 527 or 528, the Iwai Rebellion broke out in Tsukushi province, Kyūshū. Keitai assigned Mononobe no Arakahi as Shogun and sent him to Kyūshū to put down the rebellion.
Among his sons, Emperor Ankan, Emperor Senka and Emperor Kinmei ascended to the throne.
The actual site of Keitai's grave is not known. This emperor is traditionally venerated at a memorial Shinto shrine (misasagi) at the Ooda Chausuyama kofun in Ibaraki, Osaka.
The Imperial Household Agency designates this location as Keitai's mausoleum. It is formally named Mishima no Aikinu no misasagi.
Empress: Tashiraka no Himemiko (手白香皇女), daughter of Emperor NinkenPrince Amekunioshiharakihironiwa (天国排開広庭尊) Emperor Kinmei
Menokohime (目子媛), daughter of Owari no Muraji Kusaka (尾張連草香)Prince Magari no Ōe (勾大兄皇子) Emperor Ankan
Prince Hinokuma no Takata (檜隈高田皇子) Emperor Senka
Wakakohime (稚子媛), younger sister of Mio no Tsunoori no Kimi (三尾角折君)Prince Ōiratsuko (大郎皇子)
Princess Izumo (出雲皇女)
Hirohime (広媛), daughter of Sakata no Ōmata (坂田大跨王)Princess Kamusaki (神前皇女)
Princess Manta (茨田皇女)
Princess Umaguta (馬来田皇女)
Ominoiratsume (麻績娘子), daughter of Okinaga no mate (息長真手王)Princess Sasage (荳角皇女) saiō
Sekihime (関媛), daughter of Manda no Muraji Omochi (茨田連小望)Princess Manda no Ōiratsume (茨田大娘皇女)
Princess Shirasaka no Ikuhihime (白坂活日姫皇女)
Princess Ono no Wakairatsume (小野稚娘皇女)
Yamatohime (倭媛), daughter of Mio no Kimi Katahi (三尾君堅楲)Princess Ōiratsume (大郎子皇女)
Prince Maroko (椀子皇子)
Prince Mimi (耳皇子)
Princess Akahime (赤姫皇女)
Haehime (荑媛), daughter of Wani no Omi Kawachi (和珥臣河内)Princess Wakayahime (稚綾姫皇女)
Princess Tubira no Iratsuko (円娘皇女)
Prince Atsu (厚皇子)
Hirohime (広媛), daughter of Ne (根王)Prince Usagi (菟皇子)
Prince Nakatsu (中皇子)