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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

The uji's chief became o muraji


the sake, therefore, of an intelligent sequence of conception, there is evidently much importance in determining whether, in remote antiquity, the prevailing system was feudal, or prefectural, or a mixture of both. Unfortunately the materials for accurate differentiation are wanting. Much depends on a knowledge of the functions discharged by the kuni-no-miyatsuko, who were hereditary officials, and the kuni-no-tsukasa (or kokushi) who were appointed by the Throne. The closest research fails to elucidate these things with absolute clearness. It is not known even at what date the office of kokushi was established. The first mention of these officials is made in the year A.D. 374, during the reign of Nintoku, but there can be little doubt that they had existed from an earlier date. They were, however, few in number, whereas the miyatsuko were numerous, and this comparison probably furnishes a tolerably just basis for estimating the respective prevalence of the prefectural and the feudal systems. In short, the method of government inaugurated at the foundation of the empire appears to have been essentially feudal in practice, though theoretically no such term was recognized; and at a later period--apparently about the time of Nintoku--when the power of the hereditary miyatsuko threatened to grow inconveniently formidable, the device of reasserting the Throne's authority by appointing temporary provincial governors was resorted to, so that the prefectural organization came into existence
side by side with the feudal, and the administration preserved this dual form until the middle of the seventh century. There will be occasion to refer to the matter again at a later date.


It is essential to an intelligent appreciation of Japanese history that some knowledge should be acquired of the annals of the great uji.

From the time of Nintoku (A.D. 313-399) until the introduction of Buddhism (A.D. 552), there were four uji whose chiefs participated conspicuously in the government of the country. The first was that of Heguri. It belonged to the Imperial class (Kwobetsu) and was descended from the celebrated Takenouchi-no-Sukune. In the days of the Emperor Muretsu (499-506), the chief of this uji attempted to usurp the throne and was crushed. The second was the Otomo. This uji belonged to the Kami class (Shimbetsu) and had for ancestor Michi no Omi, the most distinguished general in the service of the first Emperor Jimmu. The chiefs of the Otomo-uji filled the post of general from age to age, and its members guarded the palace gates. During the reign of Yuryaku the office of o-muraji was bestowed upon Moroya, then chief of this uji, and the influence he wielded may be inferred from the language of an Imperial rescript where it is said that "the tami-be of the o-muraji fill the country." His son, Kanamura, succeeded him. By his sword the rebellion of Heguri no Matori was quelled, and by his advice Keitai was called to the Throne. He served also under Ankan, Senkwa, and Kimmei, but the miscarriage of Japan's relations with Korea was attributed to him, and the title of o-muraji was not conferred on any of his descendants.

The uji of Mononobe next calls for notice. "Monono-be" literally signifies, when expanded, a group (be) of soldiers (tsuwamono). In later times a warrior in Japan was called mono-no-fu (or bushi), which is written with the ideographs mono-be. This uji also belonged to the Kami class, and its progenitor was Umashimade, who surrendered Yamato to Jimmu on the ground of consanguinity. Thenceforth the members of the uji formed the Imperial guards (uchi-tsu-mononobe) and its chiefs commanded them. Among all the uji of the Kami class the Mononobe and the Otomo ranked first, and after the latter's failure in connexion with Korea, the Mononobe stood alone. During the reign of Yuryaku, the uji's chief became o-muraji, as did his grandson, Okoshi, and the latter's son, Moriya, was destroyed by the o-omi, Soga no Umako, in the tumult on the accession of Sushun (A.D. 588).

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