Shōtoku may refer to:
Shōtoku (正徳) was a Japanese era name (年号,) after Hōei and before Kyōhō. This period spanned the years from April 1711 through June 1716. The reigning emperor was Nakamikado-tennō (中御門天皇).
In his correspondence with Emperor Yang of Sui, the Prince's letter contains the earliest known written instance in which the Japanese archipelago is referred to by a term meaning "land of the rising sun." The Sui Emperor had dispatched a message in 605 that said, "the sovereign of Sui respectfully inquires about the sovereign of Wa," and Shōtoku responded by sponsoring a mission led by Ono no Imoko in 607, who brought along a note reading: "From the sovereign of the land of the rising sun (hi izuru tokoro) to the sovereign of the land of the setting sun."
A legend claims that when Bodhidharma came to Japan, he met with Prince Shōtoku whilst under the guise of a starving beggar. The Prince asked the beggar to identify himself, but the man did not reply. Instead of going ahead, Shōtoku gave him food, drink, and covered him with his purple garment, telling him to "lie in peace". The Prince then sang for the starving man.
According to tradition, Shōtoku was appointed regent (Sesshō) in 593 by Empress Suiko (554–628), his aunt. Shōtoku, inspired by the Buddha's teachings, succeeded in establishing a centralized government during his reign. In 603, he established the Twelve Level Cap and Rank System at the court. He is credited with promulgating a Seventeen-article constitution.
The second day, the Prince sent a messenger to the starving man, but he was already dead. Hereupon, Shōtoku was greatly grieved and ordered his burial. Shōtoku later thought the man was no ordinary man for sure, and sending another messenger, discovered the earth had not been disturbed. On opening the tomb there was no body inside, and the Prince's purple garment lay folded on the coffin. The Prince then sent another messenger to claim the garment, and he continued to wear it just as before. Struck by awe, the people praised the Prince: "How true it is that a sage knoweth a sage." This legend is linked with the temple of Daruma-dera in Ōji, Nara, where a stone stupa was found underground, which is exceedingly rare.
Prince Shōtoku commissioned the Shitennō-ji (temple) in Settsu Province (present-day Osaka) after his military victory against the powerful Mononobe clan, for he is said to have summoned them to crush his enemies. Shōtoku's name has been linked with Hōryū-ji, a temple in Yamato Province, and numerous other temples in the Kansai region. Documentation at Hōryū-ji claims that Suiko and Shōtoku founded the temple in the year 607. Archaeological excavations in 1939 have confirmed that Prince Shōtoku's palace, the Ikaruga no miya (斑鳩宮), stood in the eastern part of the current temple complex, where the Tō-in (東院) sits today.
Shōtoku is known by several titles, although his real name is Prince Umayado (厩戸皇子) since he was born in front of a stable. He is also known as Toyotomimi (豊聡耳) or Kamitsumiyaō (上宮王). In the Kojiki, his name appears as Kamitsumiya no Umayado no Toyotomimi no Mikoto (上宮之厩戸豊聡耳命). In the Nihon Shoki, in addition to Umayado no ōji, he is referred to as Toyomimito Shōtoku (豊耳聡聖徳), Toyotomimi no Nori no Ōkami (豊聡耳法大王), and simply Nori no Ushi no Ōkami (法主王).
The Prince was an ardent Buddhist and is traditionally attributed the authorship of the Sangyō Gisho or "Annotated Commentaries on the Three Sutras" (the Lotus Sutra, the Vimalakirti Sutra, and the Śrīmālādevī Siṃhanāda Sūtra). The first of these commentaries, Hokke Gisho, is traditionally dated to 615 and thus regarded as "the first Japanese text", in turn making Shōtoku the first Japanese writer.
Over successive generations, a devotional cult arose around the figure of Prince Shōtoku for the protection of Japan, the Imperial Family, and for Buddhism. Key religious figures such as Saichō, Shinran and others claimed inspiration or visions attributed to Prince Shōtoku.
* 1711 Shōtoku gannen (正徳元年): The era name of Shōtoku (meaning "Righteous Virtue") was created to mark the enthronement of Emperor Nakamikado. The previous era ended and the new one commenced in Hōei 8, on the 25th day of the 4th month.
Prince Shōtoku (聖徳太子), also known as Prince Umayado (厩戸皇子) or Prince Kamitsumiya (上宮皇子), was a semi-legendary regent and a politician of the Asuka period in Japan who served under Empress Suiko. He was the son of Emperor Yōmei and his consort, Princess Anahobe no Hashihito, who was also Yōmei's younger half-sister and his much older sister. His parents were relatives of the ruling Soga clan and also he was involved in the defeat of the rival Mononobe clan. The primary source of the life and accomplishments of Prince Shōtoku comes from the Nihon Shoki.
The Soga clan intermarried with the imperial family, and by 587 Soga no Umako, the Soga chieftain, was powerful enough to install his nephew as emperor and later to assassinate him and replace him with the Empress Suiko (r. 593–628). Suiko, the first of eight sovereign empresses, is sometimes considered a mere figurehead for Umako and Prince Regent Shōtoku Taishi (574–622). However she wielded power in her own right, and the role of Shōtoku Taishi is often exaggerated to the point of legend.
Jōgū Shōtoku Hōō Teisetsu (上宮聖徳法王帝説), also read as Jōgū Shōtoku Hōō Taisetsu, is a biography of Shōtoku Taishi. It is one scroll in length and is a National Treasure of Japan.
The Historical Sites of Prince Shōtoku (聖徳太子御遺跡霊場, Shōtoku taishi goiseki reijō) are a group of 28 Buddhist temples in Japan related to the life of Prince Shōtoku.
In a move greatly resented by the Chinese, Shōtoku sought equality with the Chinese emperor by sending official correspondence that was addressed, "From the Son of Heaven in the Land of the Rising Sun to the Son of Heaven of the Land of the Setting Sun."
In addition, Shōtoku adopted the Chinese calendar, developed a system of trade roads (the aforementioned Gokishichidō), built numerous Buddhist temples, had court chronicles compiled, sent students to China to study Buddhism and Confucianism, and sent Ono no Imoko to China as an emissary (遣隋使).
The honji suijaku paradigm remained a defining feature of Japanese religious life up to the end of the Edo period. Its use was not confined to deities but was often extended even to such historical figures as Kūkai and Shōtoku Taishi. It was claimed that these particular human beings were manifestations of kami, which in turn were manifestations of buddhas. Sometimes the deity involved was not Buddhist. This could happen because the theory was never formalized and always consisted of separate events usually based on a temple or shrine's particular beliefs.
Hokki-ji is located in Ikaruga, a town that has long been a focal point of Japanese Buddhism, and the area contains numerous other old temples related to Prince Shotoku, such as Hōrin-ji and Chūgū-ji. Hokki-ji is located on a foothill to the northeast of Hōryū-ji Tō-in. It is said that the temple lies atop the ruins of Okamoto no Miya (岡本宮) palace, wherein Prince Shōtoku had lectured on the Lotus Sutra, and that according to the prince's last will and testament, his son, Prince Yamashiro (Yamashiro no Ōe no ō) rebuilt the former palace as a temple. Excavation conducted around the temple grounds has revealed the remains of a building, the pillars of which were in direct contact with the earth (i.e. there was no foundation stone), confirming that another building had occupied the grounds prior to Hokki-ji.
The title ninja has sometimes been attributed retrospectively to the semi-legendary 4th-century prince Yamato Takeru. In the Kojiki, the young Yamato Takeru disguised himself as a charming maiden and assassinated two chiefs of the Kumaso people. However, these records take place at a very early stage of Japanese history, and they are unlikely to be connected to the shinobi of later accounts. The first recorded use of espionage was under the employment of Prince Shōtoku in the 6th century. Such tactics were considered unsavory even in early times, when, according to the 10th-century Shōmonki, the boy spy Koharumaru was killed for spying against the insurgent Taira no Masakado. Later, the 14th-century war chronicle Taiheiki contained many references to shinobi and credited the destruction of a castle by fire to an unnamed but "highly skilled shinobi".