The Reign of the Emperor Sujin - Pestilence driven out and a peaceful nation established -
On the 13th day of the 1st month in the 621st year of the asuzu calendar, the Crown Prince Yisoniye acceded to the sovereign dignity under the name of Mimaki-Irihiko (known in later centuries as the Emperor Sujin). He was 52 years old.
In the 9th month of the 3rd year of his rule, the capital was removed to the Mizukaki Palace in Shigi.
On the 23rd day of the 10th month in the 4th year, the sovereign issued a decree.
"The Three Heavenly Treasures passed down to us by our late sovereign father are the Divine Seals of Kunitokotachi, the Yata Mirror of Amateru, and the Yahegaki Sword of Ohokunitama.
"We have always respectfully worshipped these Treasures within our court and have revered the teachings of the ancients. We have spent our waking and sleeping hours close to them, to be nearer to divinity. But recently we have felt that our closeness to the Treasures may conversely diminish our sovereign authority, and this causes us great discomfort.
"Therefore, we shall remove the shrine of Amateru to Kasanuhi, to be venerated by Princess Toyosuki, and the shrine of Ohokunitama to Yamabe, to be venerated by Princess Nunagi. We shall have the mirror and sword refashioned by the descendants of the mirror maker Ishikoridome and the sword maker Amame-Hitotsu. These shall be added to the divine seals of Amateru to make the Three Heavenly Treasures, and these three shall be the new divine treasures for succession to the heavenly sovereignty in future."
In the 5th year, there was great pestilence, and half the people died.
In the 6th year, the people became dispersed and the land was in confusion.
The sovereign Mimaki prayed earnestly to the gods. He felt that these unprecedented and repeated calamities, the suffering of the people and the breakdown of government, were all due to his own error. He was resolved to pay still greater homage to the gods in future, to bend his will more sincerely to the good of the people, and to augment the correctness of his government. With that, he thought, his own errors would be forgiven and the lot of the people would improve.
The two shrines of Amateru and Ohokunitama were again rebuilt, and preparations made to move the deities.
In the autumn of the 6th year, the deity Ohokunitama was at last removed to Yamabe (now Yamato Shrine in Nara), on the 16th day of the 9th month. The following night, the deity Amateru's shrine was at last removed to Kasanuhi (now the Hihara Shrine in Nara).
The worshippers continued to revel into the night, when the lanterns in front of the shrine shone most colourfully. Then the deity Amateru descended from the heavens, together with the other gods. The priests made ritual offerings of food and, throughout the night, recited an "iro no tsuzu uta" (a nineteen-beat poem starting with "i" and having "ro" as the middle or turning syllable).
The feast of the heavenly deities knew no bounds of extravagance and continued until the first light of day.
On the 3rd day of the 2nd month in the 7th year, the sovereign made a decree.
"The foundations laid by our ancestors in the creation of this land were firm and good. But now, in our reign, we have suffered unprecedented calamities that are tantamount to disaster. This is because we have not been reverent enough in our worship of the gods. Our prayers have not sufficed to reach the heavens, and this is our punishment. From this time on, we shall be yet more devout in our worship of the gods."
So saying, he set off on a procession to the Palace of Asahi-no-Hara (now the Hinumanai Shrine in Kyoto Prefecture). There, he had Princess Momoso (daughter of his great-grandfather Ohoyamato-Futoni) perform the Yunohana mystic dance to summon up the 800 myriad deities. Falling into a shamanic trance, she uttered the following divine revelation in a "satsusa tsuzu uta" (a nineteen-beat poem beginning and ending with "sa", and having "tsu" as the middle or return syllable):
The sovereign asked which deity had inspired the poem. She replied that it was the Ohomononushi, Deity of the Land. But no further divination came forth.
Mimaki accordingly purified himself, then prayed earnestly, saying "I have duly worshipped, but am I still to receive no blessing?".
That night, the Ohomononushi appeared to him in a dream. "Fear not", he said. "It is my will that your land is in hardship. If you would appoint my descendant Ohotataneko to worship me, you will have peace throughout the nation, and distant lands will also bow to you of their own accord."
On the 7th day of the 8th month, three others (Tohaya's daughter Chihara-Mekuhashi, Ohominakuchi, and Ise Wo-umi) all reported a similar dream to the sovereign. They had dreamt of a deity, who said that Ohotataneko should be appointed to worship the Ohomononushi, and Shinagawo-Ichi to worship Oho-Yamato Kunitama. If this was done, the pestilence would cease and the land would be at peace.
The sovereign was truly glad that the dream concurred with his own, and immediately issued a command that Ohotataneko be sought out.
As it happened, Ohotataneko was the grandson of Ohomikenushi, Minister of the Right in the reign of the 9th sovereign Wakayamato Nekohiko (known to posterity as the Emperor Kaika). On the death of his father (the previous sovereign Yamato Kunikuru or the Emperor Kogen), Nekohiko had sought to wed Ikashikome, one of Kunikuru's consorts, as his own Chief Consort in the rank of Uchimiya.
Ohomikenushi then admonished the sovereign, warning: "Even though she is not your natural mother, this union violates the Way of Ise, the natural principle of matrimony".
But Nekohiko took no heed of the warning and proceeded with his plan. Ohomikenushi then had no alternative but to withdraw from his post and reduce himself to the rank of commoner. He retreated to the village of Suye in Chinu (part of modern-day Sakai City, Osaka Prefecture), where Ohotataneko was eventually born.
Soon, it was reported that a man of that name had indeed been found living in the village of Suye. So the sovereign set out for Chinu with a host of 80 attendants. There, he asked Ohotataneko: "Whose child are you?".
Ohotataneko answered: "Long ago, the Mononushi (Komori) espoused Ikutamayori, daughter of Suyetsumi. I am descended from their child Ohomiwa Kantachi, and our family has lived for generations in this village of Suye."
Hearing this, Mimaki was greatly encouraged. "This surely is the person of whom we heard in our dream", he said. "With this, our reign will surely flourish!".
The sovereign then had Ikishikowo conduct divination according to the Futomani. As the divination produced a favourable omen, Ikishikowo was made to prepare 80 dishes for offerings to the gods on the 1st day of the 10th month. Whereupon Ohotataneko was made Chief Priest for the worship of the Ohomiwa Ohomononushi deity (at what is now the Omiwa Shrine in Nara), and Shinagawo-Ichi Chief Priest for the worship of Oho-Kunitama. The appointments were reported throughout the land. For the first time, a list of all deities was recorded, together with sacred places and a body of priesthood for the worship of the 800 myriad deities.
With this, the sincerity of the sovereign's reverence was recognized by the heavens, the pestilence ceased, and the country at length had peace. That year, the harvest was heavy, and the common people enjoyed abundance.
On the 4th day of the 4th month in the 8th year, a man named Ikuhi from the village of Takahashi prepared a hallowed rice liquor called miki and offered it up to the Ohomiwa deity. And it tasted exceedingly good.
On the 8th day of the 12th month, Ohotataneko was made to worship the Ohomiwa deity, and the sovereign made a procession there. At the sovereign's table, there was offered the rice liquor made by Ikuhi. The sovereign was well pleased with it, and composed this song:
Later, as the banquet ended, the ministers also sang:
The sovereign replied with a modified version of their song:
So saying, the inebriated sovereign and his ministers pushed open door and made their way home the following morning.
On the night of the 15th day of the 3rd month in the 9th year, Mimaki again had a portentous dream. "You must put up red, white and yellow decorated lances and worship the deities. Worship without fail the three deities at the Sumisaka Hill of Uda, the Ohosaka Hill, and the Kawasesaka Hill. For this is where the souls of ill-doers reside, and this has caused the pestilence."
On the 22nd day of the 4th month, Ohokashima (first Chief Priest at the Ise Grand Shrine) and Ohotataneko were made to pray for "tamagaeshi" (return of the dead souls to the heavens), and with this a bright new age began.
On the 24th day of the 7th month in the 10th year, the sovereign issued a decree.
"We have guided the people with teachings and worshipped the gods, and have thus at length conquered pestilence. However, in distant parts of our land there are unruly people who still do not observe the law and refuse to accept our decrees. Therefore, we shall send emissaries to the four corners, so that they may teach the law and bring stability to the land."
On the 9th day of the 9th month, Ohohiko was appointed as an emissary to the Land of Koshi (modern-day Hokuriku), Take-Nunagawake to the Land of Hotsuma (Tokai and Kanto), Kibitsuhiko to the southwest (the San'yo region), and Tanihachinushi to Taniha (Tanba).
They were commanded to take arms and slay all local lords who refused to yield to them. They were given symbols of sovereign authority, and each set off with an army to their respective postings.
On the 15th day, Ohohiko arrived at the hill of Narasaka in Soye-Agata, Yamashiro (modern-day Kyoto). There, he could hear a young girl singing:
Thinking there to be some strange purport to the song, Ohohiko turned to ask the girl what she meant by it. "I meant nothing", she replied. "I was merely singing." And with that, she disappeared. This incident so troubled Ohohiko that he stopped his army's advance and turned back immediately to return to court.
On the 17th day of the 9th month in the 10th year, Ohohiko returned in haste to the Mizukaki Palace, his mind still greatly troubled by the girl's song. On his arrival, he repeated it to the sovereign, adding:
"This song of the young girl at Narasaka in Yamashiro surely conceals some evil portent. I entreat you to deliberate most urgently on its meaning."
So Mimaki considered the matter with his ministers and advisers. The sovereign had always been assisted in the affairs of government by his great aunt Princess Momoso, who was wise by nature and was known to have powers of divination. She knew what the song meant, and said:
"This is a sign that Take-Haniyasu will plot to usurp power from you", she said. "I have heard that his wife, Princess Ata, has taken clay from Mount Kagu and has brought it back with her, wrapped carefully in cloth. She prays earnestly to it, calling it a symbol of the land. This is a very grave matter. You must make a decision quickly." Take-Haniyasu was Mimaki's elder half-brother and the younger brother of the previous sovereign.
No sooner had the nobles met to discuss their strategy, than an express messenger arrived with urgent news. Haniyasu and Princess Ata were already moving to attack the capital with their own armies in a pincer movement, he from Yamashiro and she from Ohosaka.
So the sovereign decreed that Prince Isaseri would be sent to Ohosaka to fight with Ata. This battle was quickly won and the Princess slain.
Meanwhile, Ohohiko and Hiko-Kunifuku were sent to contain Haniyasu. Kunifuku placed ritual jars on the hill of Wani-Takasuki in Yamashiro, as a prayer for success in battle. Then he led his army onward, and after first trampling down the grass and undergrowth for hand-to-hand fighting, they were victorious over the enemy.
Ohohiko, meanwhile, proceeded along the valley route, and prepared to attack from the other side of the river. As the two armies called out challenges to each other, Haniyasu camped upstream. Seeing Kunifuku, he called out:
"Why do you come to challenge me?"
Kunifuku replied: "We come to smite you for violating the sovereign command!". Whereupon the two hurried to fire the first shot. Haniyasu fired and missed. Kunifuku fired second. His arrow struck Haniyasu through the breast and killed him there.
The opposing army, now bereft of their leader, fell into confusion and fought with each other to escape. As the sovereign host gave chase, they fled miserably, crying "Our lord! Our lord!". And the victors returned to the capital in triumph.
On the 1st day of the 10th month, the sovereign issued a decree.
"The interior has been successfully pacified, but the outer lands remain troubled by the tumult of wild people. So now the armies shall be sent to the four regions." And on the 22nd day, the armies duly set off to pacify the provinces. The generals at the head of the armies were called "oshihedo", or "teachers of the way".
Princess Momoso became the wife of the Ohomononushi. He would remain with her at night, but, strangely, was not to be seen during the day. She wished to know what he looked like in the daytime, and tried to stop him leaving one morning. He said, "Your request is good. Tomorrow, I will enter your comb-box. If you see my true form there, you must not be alarmed, at any cost."
Thinking this strange, Momoso duly looked in her comb-box the next morning, and was startled to see a small snake coiled up inside it. In her surprise, she let out a cry.
This so shamed the deity that he immediately returned to human form, and said, "Against my request, you have cried out in alarm. This brings such shame on me that I will never be rid of it." So saying, he stepped into the sky and disappeared into Mount Mimoro.
Watching as her husband flew up, Momoso felt such unbearable remorse that she followed him, stabbed herself in the private parts with chopsticks and passed away. Her body was buried at the Hashizuka mound in Oichi.
The mound was made with stones from Mount Ohosaka, carried by men in the daytime and deities at night. People would stand side by side, passing the stones from one to the other, until the tomb was complete. When it was finished, a song was composed in celebration:
On the 16th day of the 4th month in the 11th year, the armies returned from the four provinces, and their leaders reported to the sovereign that the unruly peoples had been pacified. The sovereign was greatly relieved and felt reassurance in the peaceful condition of the country.
In the autumn, the sovereign commanded Ohotataneko to conduct rituals for the souls of those who had died in the campaigns. The ceremony was held on the mound of Hashizuka. A bustling throng of people came to worship and the light of the heavenly order shone down on the festival.
On the 11th day of the 3rd month in the 12th year, the sovereign issued a decree.
"Since we succeeded to the heavenly dignity, we have not had rest as each day has followed the other. Male and female principles have been confused and the heavenly order has been disturbed. We have been afflicted by a great pestilence, and innumerable good citizens have lost their lives.
"To purify this land of evils and defilement, we worshipped the gods anew, and strove to hand down the teachings of the deities of heaven and earth. And now, at length, the unruly peoples of the four provinces have bowed to our rule, and we have returned this land to peace and affluence.
"After lengthy deliberation, in our gratitude for this peaceful conclusion, we have decided to create new ways for old and young, to give the people more respite, and to abolish the burdensome levies on bow-ends and textiles. With this, the people will become more affluent and the country will thrive."
That autumn, the rice harvest was abundant, the people's habitation improved, and folk customs thrived. The sovereign's heart was at ease and the nation flourished in peace. So much so that Mimaki was called "the first true ruler of the land".
On the 10th day of the 1st month in the 48th year, Mimaki issued a decree to his sons, Prince Toyoki and Prince Ikume.
"Until this day, we have bestowed equal favour on both of you. However, we must now choose which one of you is to become our heir and successor. We shall do so through the divination of dreams. You shall therefore first purify yourself by bathing, then report to us on your dreams."
The following morning, Toyoki was the first to report his dream to the sovereign.
"I dreamt that I climbed Mount Mimoro", he said, "and, facing eastwards, brandished my halberd eight times."
Next, Ikume stepped up to report his dream.
"I too dreamt that I ascended Mount Mimoro, where I cast ropes in all directions and chased away sparrows."
Mimaki considered the two dreams, and decided that, as Toyoki only faced eastwards in his dream, he would govern the eastern region, but that Ikume would be the sovereign heir because he dreamt of all directions.
And so it was that, on the 19th day of the 4th month, Prince Ikume was installed as the Crown Prince, heir to the sovereignty, and Prince Toyoki was appointed Governor of the Land of Hotsuma.
(Seiji Takabatake, from the 33rd aya of the Hotsuma-Tsutae)
The Reign of the Emperor Sujin - Tsunoga Arashito is made King of Mimana -
In the 8th month of the 58th year of his reign, Mimaki went to worship at the shrine of the Great Deity of Keyi at Kita-no-Tsu (now Tsuruga in Fukui Prefecture).
As the sovereign celebrated with the ministers and local chieftains, a man with a single horn on his head drifted into the harbour on a boat. None could understand what he said, so they sent for Sorori Yoshitake, the Lord of Hara. He was well-versed in foreign tongues, and asked the visitor his business.
This was the answer he gave.
"I am the son of the King of Kara (a kingdom in Korea), and my name is Tsunoga Arashito. My father's name is Ushiki Arishito. When I was still in my own country, I heard tell of a hallowed ruler who lived in Yamato. Thinking to offer allegiance to him, I embarked on a ship and arrived at Anato (the Strait of Shimonoseki). There, a man named Yitsutsuhiko told me, 'I am the King of this Land. You must stay here.'
"But he seemed less like a king and more like an ordinary man. So I returned from that place and, searching for a route to the capital, crossed from bay to island along the coast and passed through Izumo, before at last arriving here. As luck had it, I heard that the sovereign himself was in these parts to worship a deity, and therefore now present myself to him."
So Mimaki took Arashito into his service, and found him to be devotedly loyal and hard-working. To reward him for his loyalty, in the 5th year of his service he granted him the name of Mimana, alluding in part to his own name. Later, when Arashito prepared to return to his own country, the sovereign gave him a gift of rich brocades to take back there. This was the beginning of the Kingdom of Mimana in Korea (also called Imna).
Prior to this, Arashito had loaded some baggage onto an ox and sent it off before him on his journey. On the way, Arashito lost sight of the ox, and stopped to ask an old man if he had seen it. The old man answered:
"Your baggage has been stolen, and the ox has been killed and eaten. The villagers planned to pay you with money if you discovered the deed. If you proceed and they ask you the price of the ox, you should reply that you wish to have the deity that is worshipped there."
As Arashito went to ask after the ox, the headman of the village asked what price he wanted for it. Just as the old man had advised, Arashito answered that he wished to have the local deity. The headman offered him a sacred white stone as the price for the ox. He took it home with him and placed it at his bedside. Before long, it had changed into a beautiful young girl.
Arashito was of course delighted, and wished to have conjugal relations with her. But very soon, while he was away in another place, she vanished.
On his return, Arashito was duly astonished, and asked his wife where the girl had gone. "She went off in a southeasterly direction", was the reply.
So he too went in that direction to look for her, and drifted on the seas in a ship. He at length landed at Namiha (now Osaka) in the Land of Yamato, and went to the Palace of Himekoso. But she was not to be found there, for she had travelled to the Himekoso Palace in the Land of Toyo (in eastern Kyushu), where she had passed away.
While Arashito was still on his journey to his home country, the gifts he had received from the sovereign Mimaki were stolen from him by the people of Shiragi, or Shilla (another kingdom in Korea). This was the start of enmity between Mimana and Shilla.
A messenger from Mimana came to the court of Mimaki with this report:
"In the northeast of our country is a prosperous land divided into upper, middle, and lower parts. The land is broad, its soil most fertile, and the people have lived there in affluence. But now that the hostility with Shilla is worsening, this region is growing harder to govern. The peasants are so taken up with the fighting that they are neglecting their farm work, and their livelihoods are in danger. We humbly beg you to send a mission that may pacify this part of our country."
The sovereign consulted on this matter with his ministers. At length, they said: "Shihonori, grandson of Kunifuku, would be the right one to send." Shihonori, known as "Lord Pine" from the three lumps on his head, was a fierce and mighty warrior. He stood one length and five hands tall, and had the strength of 80 men.
So the sovereign issued a decree.
"We shall send Shihonori to Mimana, and he shall be appointed as a General for Pacifying Foreign Lands."
Shihonori duly pacified Mimana, and returned to the court in triumph.
To commemorate this "happy return", the sovereign bestowed on Shihonori the new family name of Yoshi (meaning happy, auspicious or good).
(Seiji Takabatake, from the 34th aya of the Hotsuma-Tsutae)
- END -
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