Keitai is an abbreviation of "keitai denwa" and means "portable phone" in Japanese. It's usually being written in Kanji or, to put more emphasize on the word, in Katakana.

However, everybody who looks at today's streets and public places in Japan (and especially Tokyo), will soon realize that keitai in Japan are much more then an ordinary portable phone.

People use these little sleek and powerful mini-computers to play wireless Java games, read and send email, browse the mobile Internet on large high resolution color TFT screens (most popular coming in the shape of i-mode), listen to downloaded music (with the quality of a portable disc player) and watch streaming video clips (like the movie trailer of "Planet of the Apes").

Oh yes, and from time to time, people even still use their keitai for actually placing and receiving calls, you know, this old fashioned voice function that portable phones originally have been made for ;-)

The newest kids in future town Tokyo even have a cool video phone function, where one can see the other speaking party on the phone display, in real time. Star Trek is just around the corner, I'd say.


In addition to being the Japanese word for "cell phone," Keitai was the 26th Emperor of Japan, according to the traditional chronology. Keitai is a particularly interesting emperor, because he was not himself the son of an emperor, but was actually the king of a small state in what is now Fukui prefecture who was called in to become emperor of the Yamato kingdom when Emperor Buretsu died childless and without any obvious heir. According to the Nihon Shoki Keitai was the great-great-great-grandson of Emperor Ojin, but most scholars doubt this claim, which would mean that Keitai is the actual originator of the current Imperial Family of Japan. This would still make the Japanese Imperial Family the longest continuously reigning royal family known to history, but would obviously invalidate the claims that the Japanese Imperial family has ruled in an unbroken line all the way back to the grandson-of-the-sun-goddess Jimmu back in 660 BC.

Unfortunately, little is known about Keitai's actual life, and what little we do know comes from the rather suspect Nihon Shoki and Kojiki chronicles. What is known is that he was from Echizen province and ruled a small state called Koshi. When he was 58 years old, he was asked by the members of the Yamato royal family to become the new ruler of Yamato, upon Buretsu's death. He agreed and took the throne, marrying a younger sister of Buretsu, Princess Tashiraga, to secure his claim. We can surmise that not everyone was in favor of his rule, as he set up his court in the northern part of Kawachi province, far from the previous location of the court in Yamato province, before finally moving his court back to Yamato 20 years after first taking the throne. It is also recorded that in 527 a rebellion was led by a warrior named Iwai in Tsukushi province in northern Kyushu, and that Keitai dispatched Mononobe no Arakahi to put down the insurrection.

But that is about all we know of Keitai. Even his exact life dates are unclear - the Kojiki says 485-527, which seems too short, but the Nihon Shoki says 450-534, which seems a bit long.

Keitai's tomb is believed to be a large burial mound in the town of Fujidera near Osaka.

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