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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

And ultimately Kudara was overrun by Koma


that time, however, Japan's hold upon the peninsula was shaken. Yuryaku sent four expeditions thither, but they accomplished nothing permanent. The power of Koma in the north increased steadily, and it had the support of China. Yuryaku's attempts to establish close relations with the latter--the Sung were then on the throne--seem to have been inspired by a desire to isolate Korea. He failed, and ultimately Kudara was overrun by Koma, as will be seen by and by. It is scarcely too much to say that Japan lost her paramount status in Korea because of Yuryaku's illicit passion for the wife of one of his subjects.


The first absolute agreement between the dates given in Japanese history and those given in Korean occurs in this reign, namely, the year A.D. 475. The severest critics therefore consent to admit the trustworthiness of the Japanese annals from the third quarter of the fifth century.


In the record of Richu's reign, brief mention has been made of the establishment of a Government treasury. In early days, when religious rites and administrative functions were not differentiated, articles needed for both purposes were kept in the same store, under the charge of the Imibe-uji. But as the Court grew richer, owing to receipt of domestic taxes and foreign "tribute," the necessity of establishing separate treasuries, was felt

and a "domestic store" (Uchi-kura) was formed during Richu's reign, the Koreans, Achi and Wani, being appointed to keep the accounts. In Yuryaku's time a third treasury had to be added, owing to greatly increased production of textile fabrics and other manufactures. This was called the Okura, a term still applied to the Imperial treasury, and there were thus three stores, Okura, Uchi-kura, and Imi-kura. Soga no Machi was placed in supreme charge of all three, and the power of the Soga family grew proportionately.


It is observable that at this epoch the sovereigns of Japan had not yet begun to affect the sacred seclusion which, in later ages, became characteristic of them. It is true that, after ascending the throne, they no longer led their troops in war, though they did so as Imperial princes. But in other respects they lived the lives of ordinary men--joining in the chase, taking part in banquets, and mixing freely with the people. As illustrating this last fact a strange incident may be cited. One day the Emperor Yuryaku visited the place where some carpenters were at work and observed that one of them, Mane, in shaping timber with an axe, used a stone for ruler but never touched it with the axe. "Dost thou never make a mistake and strike the stone?" asked the monarch. "I never make a mistake," replied the carpenter. Then, to disturb the man's sang-froid, Yuryaku caused the ladies-in-waiting (uneme) to dance, wearing only waist-cloths. Mane watched the spectacle for a while, and on resuming his work, his accuracy of aim was momentarily at fault. The Emperor rebuked him for having made an unwarranted boast and handed him over to the monono-be for execution. After the unfortunate man had been led away, one of his comrades chanted an impromptu couplet lamenting his fate, whereat the Emperor, relenting, bade a messenger gallop off on "a black horse of Kai" to stay the execution. The mandate of mercy arrived just in time, and when Mane's bonds were loosed, he, too, improvised a verse:

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