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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Ne no Omi was required to show it at the palace


style="text-align: justify;">These shocking incidents are not without a relieving feature. They furnished opportunities for the display of fine devotion. When Prince Okusaka died for a crime of which he was wholly innocent, two of his retainers, Naniwa no Hikaga, father and son, committed suicide in vindication of his memory. When Prince Sakai no Kuro and Mayuwa took refuge in the house of the o-omi Tsubura, the latter deliberately chose death rather than surrender the fugitives. When Prince Kuro perished, Nie-no-Sukune took the corpse in his arms and was burned with it. When Prince Ichinobe no Oshiwa fell under the treacherous arrow of Prince Ohatsuse, one of the former's servants embraced the dead body and fell into such a paroxysm of grief that Ohatsuse ordered him to be despatched. And during this reign of Yuryaku, when Lord Otomo was killed in a fatal engagement with the Sinra troops, his henchman, Tsumaro, crying, "My master has fallen; what avails that I alone should remain unhurt?" threw himself into the ranks of the enemy and perished. Loyalty to the death characterized the Japanese in every age.


This sovereign was the Ohatsuse of whose unscrupulous ambition so much has just been heard. Some historians have described him as an austere man, but few readers of his annals will be disposed to endorse such a lenient verdict. He ordered that a girl, whose only fault was misplaced affection, should

have her four limbs stretched on a tree and be roasted to death; he slew one of his stewards at a hunt, because the man did not understand how to cut up the meat of an animal; he removed a high official--Tasa, omi of Kibi--to a distant post in order to possess himself of the man's wife (Waka), and he arbitrarily and capriciously killed so many men and women that the people called him the "Emperor of great wickedness." One act of justice stands to his credit. The slanderer, Ne no Omi, who for the sake of a jewelled coronet had caused the death of Prince Okusaka, as related above, had the temerity to wear the coronet, sixteen years subsequently, when he presided at a banquet given in honour of envoys from China; and the beauty of the bauble having thus been noised abroad, Ne no Omi was required to show it at the palace. It was immediately recognized by the Empress, sister of the ill-starred prince, and Ne no Omi, having confessed his crime, was put to death, all the members of his uji being reduced to the rank of serfs. One moiety of them was formed into a hereditary corporation which was organized under the name of Okusakabe, in memory of Prince Okusaka.


The reign of Yuryaku is partially saved from the reproach of selfish despotism by the encouragement given to the arts and crafts. It has already been related that the members of the Hata-uji, which had been constituted originally with artisans from China, gradually became dispersed throughout the provinces and were suffering some hardships when Yuryaku issued orders for their reassembly and reorganization. Subsequently the sovereign gave much encouragement to sericulture, and, inspired doubtless by the legend of the Sun goddess, inaugurated a custom which thereafter prevailed in Japan through all ages, the cultivation of silkworms by the Empress herself. At a later date, learning from a Korean handicraftsman (tebito)--whose name has been handed down as Kwan-in Chiri--that Korea abounded in experts of superior skill, Yuryaku commissioned this man to carry to the King of Kudara (Paikche) an autograph letter asking for the services of several of these experts. This request was complied with, and the newcomers were assigned dwellings at the village of Tsuno in Yamato;* but as the place proved unhealthy, they were afterwards distributed among several localities.

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