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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Who were both older than Seinei


"Black as the night "Was the horse of Kai. "Had they waited to "Saddle him, my life were lost "O, horse of Kai!"

The whole incident is full of instruction. A sovereign concerning himself about trivialities as petty as this pretext on which he sends a man to death; the shameful indignity put upon the ladies-in-waiting to minister to a momentary whim; the composition of poetry by common carpenters, and the ride for life on a horse which there is not time to saddle. It is an instructive picture of the ways of Yuryaku's Court.

In truth, this couplet-composing proclivity is one of the strangest features of the Yamato race as portrayed in the pages of the Records and the Chronicles. From the time when the fierce Kami, Susanoo, put his thoughts into verse as he sought for a place to celebrate his marriage, great crises and little crises in the careers of men and women respectively inspire couplets. We find an Emperor addressing an ode to a dragon-fly which avenges him on a gad-fly; we find a prince reciting impromptu stanzas while he lays siege to the place whither his brother has fled for refuge; we find a heartbroken lady singing a verselet as for the last time she ties the garters of her lord going to his death, and we find a sovereign corresponding in verse with his consort whose consent to his own dishonour he seeks to win.

Yet in the lives of all these men and women of old, there are not many other traces of corresponding refinement or romance. We are constrained to conjecture that many of the verses quoted in the Records and the Chronicles were fitted in after ages to the events they commemorate. Another striking feature in the lives of these early sovereigns is that while on the one hand their residences are spoken of as muro, a term generally applied to dwellings partially underground, on the other, we find more than one reference to high towers. Thus Yuryaku is shown as "ordering commissioners to erect a lofty pavilion in which he assumes the Imperial dignity," and the Emperor Nintoku is represented as "ascending a lofty tower and looking far and wide" on the occasion of his celebrated sympathy with the people's poverty.

ENGRAVING: ANCIENT ACROBATIC PERFORMANCE

ENGRAVING: DAIRISAMA (KINO) AND OKUSAMA (QUEEN) OF THE FEAST OF THE DOLLS

CHAPTER XIII

THE PROTOHISTORIC SOVEREIGNS (Continued)

The 22nd Sovereign, Seinei A.D. 480-484

" 23rd " Kenso " 485-487

" 24th " Ninken " 488-498

" 25th " Muretsu " 499-506

" 26th " Keitai " 507-531

" 27th " Ankan " 534-535

" 28th " Senkwa " 536-539

DISPUTE ABOUT THE SUCCESSION

THE Emperor Yuryaku's evil act in robbing Tasa of his wife, Waka, entailed serious consequences. He selected to succeed to the throne his son Seinei, by Princess Kara, who belonged to the Katsuragi branch of the great Takenouchi family. But Princess Waka conspired to secure the dignity for the younger of her own two sons, Iwaki and Hoshikawa, who were both older than Seinei. She urged Hoshikawa to assert his claim by seizing the Imperial treasury, and she herself with Prince Iwaki and others accompanied him thither. They underestimated the power of the Katsuragi family. Siege was laid to the treasury and all its inmates were burned, with the exception of one minor official to whom mercy was extended and who, in token of gratitude, presented twenty-five acres of rice-land to the o-muraji, Lord Otomo, commander of the investing force.


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