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03/15/2019

About the conquest of the Emishi by the Imperial Court from the 7th century to the early 9th century

Since the 7th century, the Imperial Court had been trying to conquer the Emishi, who lived in northern Japan and had not assimilated to the Court’s rule.
 
Therefore, official defense-sites called Josaku were constructed along the Mogami river and along the Japan sea coasts in north-east Japan. Some Josaku were actual castles and others were smaller structures. These facilities had governmental buildings for administrative offices and warehouses.
 
Many farmers in Kanto region were moved to areas around Josaku for the development. On the other hand, captured Emishi were forced to move to the areas west of Kanto-region.
 
In 780, an Emishi lord Azamaro Koremori who had previously submitted to the Konin Emperor raised an army against the Court, because Emishi were being severely discriminated against.
 
Azamaro burnt down Taga-castle which was an important military base in today's Miyagi prefecture. After this battle, many wars broke out between the Court and Emishi.
 
In 789, the Court dispatched a large army commanded by a high ranking-general, Kino-Kosami, to conquer Emishi living in the Izawa region, which is located around the middle basin of the Kitakami river.
 
Castles_for_emishi_conquering_in__2
 
Nevertheless, the Imperial army suffered a crashing defeat by Emishi's resistance which was led by an Emishi great lord, Aterui.
 
In 802, the Court dispatched troops commanded by Shogun Tamuramaro Sakanoue. He built Izawa castle in the region where Aterui was headquartered.
 
Aterui had many soldiers but he surrendered to Sakanoue without fighting. Although the reason why Aterui surrendered is not exactly known, it is said that Sakanoue was a great strategist who could persuade Aterui to surrender peacefully.
 
Sakanoe also respected Aterui as an outstanding leader, and therefore, petitioned the Court to spare the Aterui's life. But the petition was refused and Aterui was executed.
 
Thereafter, Sakanoue used Izawa castle as the main military base to conquer northern Japan.
 
In 803, Sakanoue built Shiwa-castle in the upper basin of the Kitakami river, consequently, rule of the Court was extended to today's Akita prefecture.
 
As a matter of fact, two big projects by the Court, conquering Emishi and building the capital in Kyoto became heavy burden on people and the Court's finance.
 
Therefore, the Kanmu Emperor broke off these two projects in 805.
※Some details about Sakanoue
 
Shogun Tamuramaro Sakanoue was the founder of Kiyomizudera-temple in Kyoto.
 
This temple is a very popular sightseeing spot and registered as a World Heritage site.
 
This temple was originally built in 780.
 
According to a book written about the origin of this temple, a monk, Kenshin, had a dream in 778.
 
In the dream, an old man told Kenshin that he should go to northern Kyoto and find clean water.
 
Following the message in the dream, Kenshin visited northern Kyoto and found a waterfall at Otowa mountain where Kenshin met the man he had seen in his dream.
 
This man said he lived on the mountain and trained as a Buddhist monk.
 
He asked Kenshin to create a wooden Kannon statue and protect this holy waterfall, and then, the old man disappeared.
 
Kenshin believed the man was the embodiment of Kannon.
 
Thus, Kenshin created a wooden Kannon statue and protected the waterfall.
 
Two years later, in 780, Tamuramaro Sakanoue visited the area to hunt deer.
 
He met Kenshin at the waterfall. Kenshin admonished Sakanoue against hunting in this holy area and told him about the Kannon's virtue, Kannon is believed to save and protect people.
 
Since Sakanoue deeply impressed with Kenshin's preaching, Sakanoue built a temple on Otowa mountain and enshrined the Kannon statue there.
 
He named the temple Kiyomizudera, which means a temple of clean water.
Kiyomizudera-temple was burnt by fires many times.
 
Kiyomizu_temple_3
 
Today's Kannon statue in this temple is believed to have been created in the 13th century.
 
This statue is enshrined in a closed room in the main building of the temple, so visitors cannot see it, but they can see a replica placed in front of the closed room.
 
In Kiyomizudera-temple, visitors can also see that waterfall which Kenshin found. This waterfall is called Otowa-no-taki, and it is believed that the water has special power.

04/22/2018

About the Fujiwara family’s political power in the 8th century

In the 8th century, a wealthy family, Fujiwara, obtained strong political power. In particular, Fuhito Fujiwara was the most prominent politician in those days. He was a son of Kamatari Fujiwara, who was a supreme adviser of the Tenji Emperor.

Fuhito made his daughter, Miyako, marry the Monmu Emperor in 697. And then their son, Prince Obito married Fuhito's other daughter, Komyoshi, in 716. Prince Obito became the Shomu Emperor in 724. By these political marriages, the Fujiwara family built a close relationship with the Imperial family and became very influential in politics.

In 720, Fuhito Fujiwara died.

When the Shomu Emperor came to the throne in 724, he was 23 years old. Since the Emperor was young, Nagaya-o held the real political power in the Court. Nagaya-o was a cousin-uncle of the Shomu Emperor and a grandson of the Tenmu Emperor. Nagaya-o was not only a member of the royal family but also a good politician. Therefore Nagaya-o was the toughest obstacle for the Fujiwara family, who wanted to have a preponderant influence on the Court.

Fuhito Fujiwara's four sons wanted their sister Komyoshi, a wife of the Shomu Emperor, to be elevated to Empress, but Nagaya-o strongly opposed it because only a member of the royal family could become empress in those days.

In 727, a prince was born between the Shomu Emperor and Komyoshi, his name was Motoi-o. He became the crown prince soon, because the Fujiwara family intensely promoted it. However, the prince died before he became 1 year old. It was a hard blow for the Fujiwara family, but they used the incident to ruin Nagaya-o. In 729, the Fujiwara family circulated a rumor that Nagaya-o killed the prince by curse. As a result, Nagaya-o was forced to commit suicide.

By having eliminated their opponent, the Fujiwara family could elevate Komyoshi to Empress in 729.

In 737, however, the four Fujiwara sons died of smallpox and the family's political influence temporarily declined. People rumored that Nagaya-o had become a vengeful ghost and killed them all.

Instead of the Fujiwara family, one of the members of royalty, Moroe Tachibana held the real political power and Kibi-no-makibi and Genbo, who used to be envoys to Tang China, obtained strong influence in the Court.

08/21/2017

About Himiko, who was a monarch and shaman in the Yayoi period

Later Han Dynasty perished in 220. After that the era of three kingdoms, Gi, Go, Shu, started.

According to the chapter on Japan in the Book of Gi, many battles between Japan's provinces occurred from the late 2nd century. Although Japanese people became tired of wars, the battles continued. Finally, many provinces cooperated and made Himiko a monarch. After that, the battles ceased and a united kingdom of 30 provinces centering around Yamataikoku was born.

Himiko sent an envoy to the Emperor of Gi in 239 AD and she was given an honorific title; 親魏倭王 which means “King of Japan which is a friend of Gi”. She was also given many precious bronze mirrors. It is said that Himiko was a gifted shaman; therefore she governed Yamataikoku by that ability.

 

the Yayoi period ranged from around 400 B.C. to around 300 A.D.

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  • Hi there! I'm Lala. I'm a Japanese living in Tokyo. I'm an English speaking licensed guide and authorized tour conductor. If you have questions, please leave comments on this blog or send me e-mails. lalalamumin☆yahoo.co.jp (please replace ☆ with @ when you send me e-mails)

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