The following is a list of kingdoms in the novel and anime series, The Twelve Kingdoms. In this world, there are a total of thirteen lands. At the center of the world lie Koukai (the Yellow Sea) and Mt. Hou which are entrusted to Seioubo. There are twelve kingdoms, twelve rulers and twelve Kirins. Each kingdom has its own Kirin, called a Saiho, who must chose a ruler. The ruler will have immortal life as long as he keeps the kingdom healthy and their heads are not severed from their body.
The Koukai, known as the Yellow Sea, is surrounded by four inland seas: the Black Sea in the north, the Blue Sea to the east, the Red Sea in the south, and the White Sea to the west. Eight of the Twelve Kingdoms border at least one of these four seas, extending from the center like the petals of a flower. The remaining four kingdoms are not part of the central mainland and are isolated by the Kyokai (虚海?) (Void Sea) which surrounds the land of the Twelve Kingdoms. The Kyokai separates Hourai from the Twelve Kingdoms and is impossible to sail across.
Ruler: Youko Nakajima (Sekishi)
Kanji: 慶 (jubilation, congratulations, rejoicing)
The Kingdom of Kei is the most eastern kingdom of the Twelve Kingdoms, bordering the Blue Sea at its western border, and is known as the one of the four "central" kingdoms. Because of its proximity to the east, it receives the most Earthlings from shoku (magical storms connecting Earth and the Twelve Kingdoms), who are called kaikyaku. The kingdom's capital, Gyouten (堯天?), is located in the province of Yei, and home to the Goldenwave (Kinpa) Palace, the residence of the monarch of Kei.
Youko Nakajima's immediate predecessor, Jokaku (舒覚?) reigned only for six years, recorded in Kei's history as Yousei (予青?), the Era of the Blue Prophet. While she was Kei's sovereign, Jokaku fell in love with Keiki, the kirin of Kei, and had become increasingly jealous of other women, eventually expelling all the women in the country and executing those who remained. Because she had been an ineffective ruler, Keiki became ill with shitsudou, an illness sent by Heaven. To save his life, she ascended Mount Hou to abdicate her throne and then took her life. She was posthumously known as You-ou (予王 the Prophet-King?).
Following the Prophet's death, Keiki searched for the next ruler of Kei and found Youko Nakajima, a taika (a Twelve Kingdoms native blown to Earth before birth) in Hourai (Japan). However, during his absence, an impostor came forth to claim the title of Kei-ou, Jokaku's sister Joyei (舒栄?). The chaos continued in the kingdom, augmented by machinations of the King of Kou, who supported Joyei by capturing and sealing Keiki when he tries to bring Youko from Hourai. With the help of the Emperor of En, Youko frees Keiki and ascends the throne as new Queen of Kei. Taking the regnal name of Sekishi, she gave final repose to the Prophet and restores political order to begin her reign, known as Sekiraku (赤楽?), the Era of Red Happiness. However, due to Youko's inexperience with statecraft, she must deal with understanding the politics of Kei, learning about her people, suppressing rebellions, and driving out the youma (demons) infesting the kingdom.
Ruler: Naotaka Komatsu (Shouryuu)
Taiho: Enki (Rokuta)
Kanji: 雁 (wild goose)
The Kingdom of En is a flourishing kingdom that has been ruled by the current king for over 500 years. It is one of the four "middle" kingdoms and is located between the kingdoms of Ryuu and Kei. Because it is located on the eastern coast of the Twelve Kingdoms, it also receives a number of kaikyaku. The kingdom's capital is Kankyuu (関弓?), near Mount Kankyuu, where the royal Shadowlore Palace is located at its peak.
The kingdom of En is peaceful and prosperous. The country is well-populated and has large cities with beautiful buildings. Agricultural land in En is fertile and provides the citizens of En with food; the kingdom's economy includes wheat farming and livestock domestication, but possesses no mines for gyoku or stones. Because of its political and economic stability, En has taken in refugees from the less stable kingdoms of Kei and Tai. Additionally, En has shown itself to be a social progressive kingdom, welcoming and providing services for kaikyaku and permitting hanjyuu to attend higher levels of education or to obtain employment. Youma are rarely seen.
The current Ever-King, Shouryuu, and Enki are both taika from Japan. After Enki and Shouryuu's return to the Twelve Kingdoms, Shouryuu was able to gradually restore order to the chaotic land and bring about its eventual prosperity. However, one hundred years after Shoryuu took the throne, he was forced to suppress a rebellion led by Atsuyu, the son of the Provincial Lord of the Gen Province.
In episode 21 of the anime, Enki notes that the countries surrounding En (Kei, Ryuu, and Tai) have been unstable and worries about how it will affect En.
Ruler: Saku Gyousou - Missing
Taiho: Taiki (Takasato Kaname), nicknamed Kouri
Kanji: 戴 (be crowned with, live under a ruler, receive)
The kingdom of Tai is one of the four "outer" kingdoms and is located in the northeastern part of the Twelve Kingdoms. Its capital city is Kouki and its royal palace is known as the Whitejewel (Hakkei) Palace. The country has been in the midst of a civil war ever since the apparent death of Saku Gyousou (乍驍宗?), the most recent king of Tai, and the disappearance of Taiki. It is believed that Taiki is not dead, as no new ranka has appeared on Mount Hou for the kingdom of Tai.
Prior to Gyousou's ascension to the throne, Tai had been ruled by a king posthumously known as Kyou-ou (驕王 the Arrogant King?), who eventually died when he lost the way and the previous Taiki died from shitsudou. Having ruled for 124 years, he was known for spending extravagantly and indulging in the arts, but had also been a conservative ruler who maintained a strong reign and stable administration during the Era of Harmony. When Gyousou became the new Peace-King, Tai was nearly bankrupt and constantly embroiled in civil war. To ameliorate the situation, Gyousou reduced the number of servants at the palace to a bare minimum, closed parts of the palace that were not used, and fired most of the musicians, which the former king had them in every chamber, each playing a different tune. Gyousou's ascension marked the beginning of Kousi, the Era of Vast Virtue, and the reign of Gyousou as the Virtuous King. However, war continued in Tai and both Taiki and the king disappeared.
Tai is known for its jewel springs and a vast amount of its wealth derived from growing gems and precious metals. However, due to the extravagance of the Kyou-ou, the country's natural resource has become severely depleted.
Ruler: Chou (張?) (Saku-ou) - deceased
Taiho: Kourin (Kouwa) - deceased
Kanji: 巧 (skill, ingenuity)
The first kingdom that Youko Nakajima sets foot in, the kingdom of Kou neighbours the kingdoms of Kei and Sou and is known as the one of the four "middle" kingdoms. Its capital is in Gosou (Place Where the Frost is Proud) and the royal Jadegrove Palace is located on the peak of the nearby Mount Gosou. The title of Naze-King is granted to the King of Kou; the most recent king has ruled for fifty years.
When Youko arrives in Kou, the Naze-King attempts to eliminate her before she can claim the throne and he secretly supports the imposter king, Joyei. In the anime, the King of Kou meets his eventual downfall when Kourin sacrifices herself to protect Youko from the Naze-King's sword; with the death of his kirin, the king dies two months later. He is posthumously known as Saku-ou (the Foolish King). His two children decide to end their contracts of immortality to live among the common people, trying to eke out a living from the poor land and refusing Youko's offer to live in Kei. Following Kourin’s death, a new ranka for Kou began to grow on Mount Hou.
During Saku-ou's reign, Kou's fields became increasingly barren and youma attacks are more common. As one of the eastern kingdoms, Kou receives quite a few kaikyaku; however, unlike in En or Kei, they are rarely welcomed. Because kaikyaku often come after a shoku, people have held superstitious beliefs that kaikyaku are bad luck and responsible for the disasters which come from shoku; often, they are either imprisoned or executed. Both kaikyaku and hanjyuu were deemed unnatural by Saku-ou and were not allowed education, employment, or social services.
Ruler: Chuutatsu (Retsu-ou) - deceased
Taiho: Hourin - deceased
Kanji: 芳 (perfume, fragrant)
The kingdom of Hou is one of the four "outer" kingdoms, located in the northwest and separated from the mainland by part of the Void Sea. It is currently without a ruler or kirin since the execution of Chuutatsu (仲韃 Chūtatsu?) (posthumously known as Retsu-Ou (洌王?, "the Pure King")) and Hourin and it is uncertain when a new ruler for Hou will be chosen as no ranka for Hou has appeared on Mount Hou. Its capital is the city of Hosu and the royal palace is known as the Youshun Palace.
Chuutatsu had previously been a government official named Sonken (孫健 Sonken?), who believed the citizens of Hou were corrupt and enacted extremely strict laws and harsh punishments, usually beheading. His wife, Imperial Consort Kaka (佳花?) often executed citizens under false charges. The people of Hou eventually revolted under the leadership of Lord Gekkei (月渓?), who believed divine crime of executing the king was better than allowing Chuutatsu and Kaka to continue their reign. After the king is beheaded, Hourin, who suffered from shitsudou, allows herself to be killed and Sonshou (the Princess Shoukei), Chuutatsu’s daughter, is removed from the register of immortals, stripped of her royal name, and sent away to live as a commoner known as Gyokuyou. She is later sent to the kingdom of Kyou when she inadvertently reveals her former identity to local townspeople still hostile towards her family for their errant ways before running away to Kei in jealousy confront Youko Nakajima, the new ruler of Kei. Since the revolt, Lord Gekkei has been governing Hou with the intention of regaining some order until the new kirin of Hou appears and chooses Hou's next king.
In episode 31 of the anime, Rakushun tells Shoukei that the first Buddhist temple was created in Hou during the rule of Hitsu-Ou (必王?, "the Unwavering King"), when sankyaku visited the kingdom and built it.
Ruler: Jo Rohou
Kanji: 柳 (willow)
The northernmost kingdom of the Twelve Kingdoms, Ryuu is one of the four "central" kingdoms and borders the Black Sea along with En and Kyou. The capital city is known as Shisou. In episode 21 of the anime, Enki describes the kingdom of Ryuu as mysterious and is troubled by his uncertainty of the country’s status. Rakushun is sent by Enki to investigate and a friend of Rakushun later claims that Ryuu is prosperous.
The kingdom of Ryuu has very strict laws and it is said that the last king of Hou had modelled his laws after those in Ryuu. The current King of Ryuu, Jo Rohou (助 露峰 Jo Rohō?), has ruled for 120 years, but there are signs the realm is in decline. The ministers and officials willingly accept bribes; they agree to take the jewels Shoukei had stolen from the king of Kyou as a bribe. It is speculated that corruption in Ryuu extends all the way to the king of Ryuu. Youma also infest Ryuu's shores. During his investigation, Rakushun concludes that Ryuu is collapsing.
The buildings and cities of Ryuu are small and simple and most are located underground to protect inhabitants from the seasons.
Kanji: 恭 (respect, reverent)
The kingdom of Kyou is one of the four "middle" kingdoms, bordering the Black Sea and White Sea, and is situated between Ryuu and Han. Its capital city is Renshou and the royal palace is known as Soufuu Palace.
Shushou (珠晶 Shushō?), the queen of Kyou, has ruled for over 90 years, but she has the appearance of a young girl, since she was twelve years old when chosen to become the new king of Kyou. She ascended the throne twenty-seven years after the death of the previous king. The kingdom has been described as well-off under her rule. Though Shushou is often strict and can be capricious, she has demonstrated wisdom and has proven to be a capable ruler.
Ruler: Go Ranjou
Taiho: Hanrin (Risetsu (梨雪?))
Kanji: 範 (norm, standard)
The westernmost kingdom of the twelve and bordering the White Sea, the kingdom of Han is one the four "central" kingdoms. The current king of Han, Go Ranjou, and his kirin, Hanrin, have ruled their kingdom for 300 years. Their relationship with the King of En and Enki is rather cold and Enki considers them to be rather eccentric. Go Ranjou is known for his aesthetic sense and is very particular with the appearances of everything while Hanrin is somewhat flippant.
Since the ascension of Go Ranjou, Han is known for its skilled artisans and the beautiful crafts it produces, including the finest tools to create such works. Many tools and accessories exported from Han to the other kingdoms. The kingdom has a mutual working relationship with Tai, as Tai has supplied Han with raw materials for its craft production. Han shares a substantial relationship with En; Enki notes that while En is skilled at construction of infrastructure like roads, buildings, and ports, they require the talents of Han's artisans as well. However, Han and Kei have not enjoyed diplomatic relations in the past.
Ruler: Empress Sai (Kouko)
Taiho: Sairin (Youran)
Kanji: 才 (genius)
Located between Han and Sou, the kingdom of Sai is one of the four "middle" kingdoms and it borders the White Sea and Red Sea. The current king of Sai, Chuukin (中瑾 Chūkin?), and her kirin, Sairin, have ruled for about 20 years.
Both monarch and kirin are both well-known for being kind-hearted and possessing great character; they are so beloved by their people that the king was given the regnal name of Kouko (黄姑?, "the golden mother-in-law"), in recognition of her status as the previous king’s great-aunt and adopted mother, and Sairin has come to be known as Youran (揺籃 Yōran?).
Kouko’s predecessor was her adopted son, Shishou (砥尚 Shishō?), who climbed Mount Hou after the death of the king who preceded him and was selected to become the king of Sai by Sairin. During his twenty year reign, his actions caused Sairin to contract shitsudou. Realizing he had lost the way, Shishou ascended Mount Hou to abdicate the throne and took his life. Sairin chose Kouko as the next king and continues to always carry a branch with leaves on it, as a memento of the broken promise Shishou had made to her that he would govern his country well.
Ruler: Ro Senshin
Taiho: Sourin (Shou-Shou)
Kanji: 奏 (to play music, speak to a ruler, complete)
The southernmost kingdom of the twelve, bordering the Red Sea, the kingdom of Sou is one of the four "central" kingdoms. Its king is known by the appellation of Priest-King.
The Priest-King of Sou currently holds the oldest living reign, at 600 years, of the all the current kings of the Twelve Kingdoms and holds the second longest reign in the Twelve Kingdoms’ recorded history. The king and Sou's kirin are never formally introduced in the anime series. Enki describes the emperor is a meikun ("great ruler") and states that the Kingdom of Sou is prosperous and tranquil under his rule.
The family of the king of Sou helps to run the country, and is actively involved in social improvement projects, as mentioned by Shushou and Rakushun. The prince of Sou assists the emperor while the princess of Sou created a national hospital where many patients are treated. She is credited for providing Sou's health care. One prince, Rikou, appears in Tonan no Tsubasa and the short story Kizan, where he and Shouryuu (under his alias Fuukan) run into each other in the falling kingdom of Ryuu.
It is stated in episode 21 of the anime series that Sourin was the one who located Enki in Hourai.
Ruler: Ou Seitaku
Kanji: 漣 (ripples)
Located in the southwest, the kingdom of Ren is one of the four "outer" kingdoms. Ren appears to be political stable, though has recently undergone a rebellion that was put down.
The king of Ren comes from a family of farmers. As such, he is not a person who is familiar with formalities, and prefers to spend his time in his farmyard in the palace. In contrast to him, his kirin Renrin is very proper and places a lot of emphasis on propriety. She possesses an imperial treasure: the Gogoukanda ("Serpent Bracelet of Empowerment"), a bracelet that connects the world of the Twelve Kingdoms to Hourai without creating a shoku. It was used to return Taiki to Mt. Hou.
In the novel Kasyo no Yume-Toei (Dreams of Kasyo - Prosperity in Winter), Taiki thanks Renrin and the king of Ren for bringing him back to Tai. Renrin is also instrumental in The Shore in Twilight (and by extension, in Demon Child) in searching for Taiki when he disappears to Japan again.
Ruler: Emperor Shun
Kanji: 舜 (morning glory, rose of Sharon, althea)
The kingdom of Shun is one of the four "outer" kingdoms and located southeast of the kingdoms on the mainland. The kingdom itself is known for its precious stones and medicine. The emperor of Shun has had a forty year reign. While previously stable, Enki believes that the kingdom may be struggling with youma from the unstable Kou Kingdom.