Hotsuma-Tsutae The Book of Man (Chapters 35) [Contents] [Japanese] [French]

The Visit of Ame-Hiboko

It was the 39th year in the reign of Mimaki-Irihiko, later known as the Emperor Sujin.
In that year, a foreigner named Hiboko came by ship to the Land of Harima. After anchoring there awhile, he proceeded to the village of Shishiawa in Awaji.
The sovereign urgently sent his ministers Ohotomo-Nushi and Nagao-Ichi to Harima, where they asked Hiboko the reason for his visit. He replied:
"I am the son of the King of Shilla, and my name is Ame-Hiboko. While I was still in my own land, I heard that there was a wise ruler in the eastern land over the sea, who revered the deities and conducted his government well. I heard that his people lived in affluence and his country was well developed. So I entrusted my inheritance to my younger brother Chiko, and have come to serve the great ruler."

The two envoys returned to court, where they reported their encounter to the sovereign. After consulting with all the ministers, Mimaki issued a decree to Ame-Hiboko, saying:
"We shall grant you the two villages of Itesa in the Land of Harima and Shishiawa in Awaji. There you may dwell as you see fit."
Hearing this, Hiboko replied in all humility,
"If you will deign to let me live in the place of my choosing, I would first make a tour of this beautiful land before deciding my dwelling place." To this the sovereign agreed.

Hiboko sailed quickly up the Uji River, and soon arrived at the village of Ana in the Land of Awaumi (Omi), where he stayed awhile. After touring the scenic beauties of Awaumi, he established a settlement for his retinue and pottery makers in the valley of Hazama in the foothills of Mount Kagamiyama, where the clay was good.
The local people warmly welcomed the newcomers from foreign lands, who settled there permanently.
Ame-Hiboko himself travelled on to the Land of Wakasa, then turned westwards towards Tajima. There, he became betrothed to Matawo, daughter of the local noble Futomimi of Izushima. She bore him a child named Morosuke, who in turn bore Hinaragi, and he Kiyohiko, whose child, finally, was named Tajimamori.
Of these, Tajima Morosuke was to be promoted to the rank of Minister in the 3rd year of the reign of Ikume-Irihiko (the Emperor Suinin).

On his arrival, Ame-Hiboko had presented eight treasures from his own land to the sovereign. They were a Haboso gem, an Ashitaka gem, an Ukaga gem, an Izushi short sword, an Izushi spear, a sun mirror, a kuma-himoroge (the meaning of which is unclear; thought by some to be a collection of sacred sticks), and an Ide-asa sword. These were later enshrined at Tajima and revered there.

On the 10th day of the 7th month in the 88th year of the reign of Ikume-Irihiko, the sovereign issued a decree.
"We have heard that the treasures presented to the court by Prince Hiboko of Shilla were stored at Tajima. Now, after all these years, we suddenly desire to see them."
So a messenger was quickly sent to Hiboko's great-grandson Kiyohiko in Tajima. Kiyohiko then hurried to the court to present the treasures to the sovereign. The Haboso gem, the Ashitaka gem, the Ukaga gem, the Izushi spear, the sun mirror, the kuma-himoroge and the Ideasa sword were all there. But, of the original eight treasures, the Izushi short sword was missing. Kiyohiko had a personal interest in it, and had hidden it up his sleeve with the intention of keeping it.
The sovereign was of course unaware of this, and was delighted at Kiyohiko's swift response. After viewing the treasures briefly, he offered his guest a drink of miki (sake).
As they drank more and more of the liquor, Kiyohiko let down his guard. As he went to take another drink, the short sword slipped out of his garments and fell onto the floor.
The sovereign asked what it was. Kiyohiko, realizing that he could hide it no longer, resignedly presented the sword to his host.
Ikume-Irihiko said: "Is this treasure so special that you cannot bear to part with it?". And the eight treasures were thenceforth all enshrined in the court treasury.

At a later time, when they opened the treasury, the short sword was again found to be missing. The sovereign again summoned Kiyohiko and asked him,
"Has the lost sword perhaps found its way to your home?"
Kiyohiko answered, "At the end of last year, the short sword strangely appeared in my house, of its own accord. But the following morning, it had disappeared again."
On hearing this, the sovereign adjusted his clothing and, accepting the story, resolved never to broach the subject again. In fact, however, the short sword had found its own way to the island of Awajishima, where it was revered by the local people as a deity.

The Machinations of Prince Sahohiko

The Prince Yisosachi had acceded to the sovereign dignity under the name of Ikume-Irihiko (the Emperor Suinin) on the first day of the new year, aged 42.
He was of an honest disposition, and his heart was always pure, upright and noble. His character was generous without being extravagant.

In the second month of the following year, he elevated Princess Sahohime to the position of chief consort, removed the capital to Makimuki, and named his new palace Tamakimiya.
In the twelfth month, Sahohime delivered him a son, whom they named Honzuwake. From birth, the child would utter no sound. In the same year, the King of Mimana (Imna) sent an envoy named Sonakashichi to present tribute to the sovereign, by way of lauding the child's birth.
In return, Ikume-Irihiko gave Sonakashichi some miki sake, as well as a hundred lengths of multi-coloured brocade and patterned twill to give to the King of Mimana. On his way home, Sonakashichi raised the standard of Shihonorihiko (a famed hero renowned for his valour) on his ship. As a result, he was able to return home safely over the sea without harm from the people of Shilla.

On the 1st day of the 9th month in the 4th year, Prince Sahohiko, brother of the sovereign's consort Sahohime, suddenly confronted the Princess with a question. "Whom do you love - your brother, or your husband, the sovereign?", he asked.
"I love my brother", she replied.
"Just as I thought", he continued. "Now you serve your master with your feminine charm, but that charm will fade with time. Your bond with your brother, on the other hand, is everlasting. If you were to join with me in seizing power, we could pile our pillows high and enjoy good dreams for ever. Will you slay the sovereign for my sake?"
So saying, he took out a corded dagger from his garments and handed it to her.
Sahohime realized the earnestness of her brother's intentions and knew it would be impossible to remonstrate. Her heart trembled as she realized her own powerlessness, and, though tormented by pangs of guilt, she was already on the verge of resignation. She hid the dagger in the sleeve of her garment as she had been told, and from that day on cried tears of despair as she lamented her brother's evil ambition.

It was the 1st day of the 6th month, the month of greenery and fragrance, in the following year, the fifth year. The sovereign went on a long-awaited tour of the provinces, and was taking a daytime nap in the lap of his consort at the Takamiya Palace in Kume.
The Princess suddenly realized that now would be the time to fulfil her brother's wish. As she thought this, her tears flowed without cease and fell onto the face of the sovereign, awaking him from his slumber. He said:
"I was dreaming of a serpent coloured like brocade, which was coiled about my neck, when suddenly rained started to fall from beyond the Saho River, and moistened my face. What could be the meaning of this?", he asked unknowingly. The Princess could no long contain herself. In a flood of tears, she revealed her brother's plot.
"I could not betray your lordship's gracious kindness, but if I told you of the plot, my brother would be destroyed. If I said nothing, the country would be overturned and calamity would follow. In my fear and sorrow, I have spent so many days holding back these tears of blood. As you rested on my lap with such complete trust in me, I thought this would be the time to do the devil's work. That caused me to weep, and as I wiped my tears with my sleeve, they fell onto your lordship's face. This is the explanation of your dream. Without doubt, it tells of my brother's treachery. And this", she said, taking out the corded dagger, "must be the serpent".
Seeing the dagger, Ikume-Irihiko immediately sent out a decree commanding Yatsunada, who held a force in a neighbouring area, to take an army against Sahohiko.

Sahohiko quickly learned of the turn of events, and gathered an army of his own. He built a castle of rice stalks, which he defended stoutly and would not easily surrender. The battle favoured first one side, then the other, and continued long without decisive outcome.
Princess Sahohime's heart wavered in the middle, exacerbating her sorrow. "If my own brother and his family are destroyed, what reason is there for me to remain alive?", she said. Then she entered the rice castle, taking her child the prince with her.
At this, Ikume-Irihiko issued an order: "The Princess and the child are to be sent out." But they were not. So then Yatsunada, as a last resort, set fire to the rice castle. Now the Princess handed the child to a wet-nurse and called out to the sovereign through the flames:
"I came into the rice castle with the prince to somehow absolve my brother from his crime. But now I see that I share his guilt with him. Even if I die, I will not forget the blessings of my lord. After I am gone, please appoint the five daughters of Taniha-Chinushi to succeed me."

No sooner had the sovereign agreed to this wish, than the castle was finally engulfed in flames and collapsed to the ground. After all of Sahohiko's men had fled, Sahohiko and the Princess burned to death in the castle.
Once events had returned to normal, Ikume-Irihiko commended Yatsunada for his good services, bestowing on him the name Take-Himuke-Hiko.

On the 2nd day of the 9th month in the 23rd year, the sovereign issued a decree.
"Our child Honzuwake is already 22 years old and his beard is growing. But in spite of this, he still cries like a child and does not speak. What could be the reason for this?".
The ministers discussed the matter, and caused Princess Yamato to pray to the gods that the prince be made to speak.

On the 8th day of the 10th month, the sovereign went up to the High Hall with Honzuwake to view the autumn colours. There, the prince saw a swan flying in the sky, and exclaimed, "What thing is that?!".
The sovereign was startled and filled with joy. "Which of you will catch that bird?", he asked of those around him. Whereupon Yukawadana replied, "My lord, I will". The sovereign encouraged him, saying "If you can catch that bird, you will be richly rewarded".

Yukawadana pursued the bird in the direction it flew off, going through Tajima to Izumo, where he at last caught the bird by the sea shore at Uyaye. He returned to the capital on the 2nd day of the 11th month, and presented the bird to the Prince Honzuwake.
The Prince played fondly with the bird, and by and by came to speak normally. The sovereign praised Yukawa, bestowing on him the family name of Toritoribe ("Guild of Bird Catchers").

(Emperor Suinin)
In asuzu year 689, on the first day of the first month, Prince Yisosachi succeeded to the sovereign dignity at the age of 42. He then assumed the name Ikume-Irihiko (later known as the 11th Emperor Suinin).
In the second month of the second year, Ikume-Irihiko moved the capital to Makimuki and named his new palace Tamakimiya.
In the seventh year, one of the sovereign's Ministers came to him with an alarming report. “In Taema there is a fearsome man called Kuehaya who boasts of his immense strength,” he said. “He says he can bend metal and break horns. Recently, he has had a large metal bow made, and brags that he can pull the bow with his legs braced. He laments that there is none who can compete with him in a test of strength, and says he does not wish to end his life in vain!”
Hearing this, the sovereign quickly gathered his Ministers together. “Is there anyone who can rival the strength of this Kuehaya?” he asked them.
“There is Nomi no Sukune of Izumo!” answered one. So Ikume-Irihiko immediately sent Nagao-Ichi to summon Nomi no Sukune, who was glad to accept the challenge. The sovereign then decreed that the contest would be held on the very next day, and set down the rules for the fight.
Due to the unusual haste, a circle of mounded earth (hani-wa) was quickly made near Ikume-Irihiko's residence (sumayi) at Makimuki. Kuehaya of Taema entered the circle from the east and Nomi no Sukune from the west. The two then faced off and started raising their feet at each other. Nomi gained the ascendancy, and broke Kuehaya’s side with a kick. Then he stamped on his back and killed him.
The sovereign raised his fan and made a great noise by flapping it. The Ministers too let out a great roar to commend Nomi no Sukune. As a reward for his victory, Nomi received Kuehaya’s metal bow and his lands in Taema, along with Kuehaya’s wife and family property - though he was not blessed with children. Nomi was lauded as Master of the Bow (Yumitori) for the rest of his life.
Etymologies and derivations
(Seiji Takabatake, mainly from the 35th aya of the Hotsuma-Tsutae)

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Hotsuma-Tsutae (National Archives, Tokyo)
Hotsuma-Tsutae (period translation by Waniko Yasutoshi, ca. 1779)

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