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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

During the reign of this same Kimmei


*The

endowment of religious edifices was not new in Japan. A conspicuous instance was in A.D. 487, when rice-fields were dedicated to the Moon god and to the ancestor of the Sun goddess.

**The metal employed was of gold and copper; in the proportion of one part of the former to 430 of the latter. It is related that when these images were completed, the temple door proved too low to admit them, and the artisan--Tori the Saddle-maker--whose ingenuity overcame the difficulty without pulling down the door, received large honour and reward.

INTERCOURSE WITH CHINA

That not a few Chinese migrated to Japan in remote times is clear. The Records show that in the year A.D. 540, during the reign of Kimmei, immigrants from Tsin and Han were assembled and registered, when their number was found to be 7053 households. The terms "Tsin" and "Han" refer to Chinese dynasties of those names, whose sway covered the period between 255 B.C. and A.D. 419. Hence the expression is too vague to suggest any definite idea of the advent of those settlers; but the story of some, who came through Korea, has already been traced. It was in A.D. 552, during the reign of this same Kimmei, that Buddhism may be said to have found a home in Japan. China was then under the sceptre of the Liang dynasty, whose first sovereign, Wu, had been such an enthusiastic Buddhist that he abandoned the throne for a monastery.. Yet

China took no direct part in introducing the Indian faith to Japan, nor does it appear that from the fourth century A.D. down to the days of Shotoku Taishi, Japan thought seriously of having recourse to China as the fountain-head of the arts, the crafts, the literature, and the moral codes which she borrowed during the period from Korea.

Something of this want of enterprise may have been attributable to the unsettled state of China's domestic politics; something to the well-nigh perpetual troubles between Japan and Korea--troubles which not only taxed Japan's resources but also blocked the sole route by which China was then accessible, namely, the route through Korea. But when the Sui dynasty (A.D. 589-619) came to the Chinese throne, its founder, the Emperor Wen, on the one hand, devoted himself to encouraging literature and commerce; and on the other, threw Korea and Japan into a ferment by invading the former country at the head of a huge army.* This happened when Shotoku Taishi was in his sixteenth year, and though the great expedition proved abortive for aggressive purposes, it brought China into vivid prominence, and when news reached Japan of extensions of the Middle Kingdom's territories under Wen's successor, the Japanese Crown Prince determined to open direct intercourse with the Sui Court; not only for literary and religious purposes, but also to study the form of civilization which the whole Orient then revered. This resolve found practical expression in the year 607, when the omi Imoko was sent as envoy to the Sui Court, a Chinese of the Saddlers' Corporation, by name Fukuri, being attached to him in the capacity of interpreter. China received these men hospitably and sent an envoy of her own, with a suite of twelve persons, to the Yamato sovereign in the following year.

*Reputed to have mustered 300,000 strong.

The annals contain an instructive description of the ceremony connected with the reception of this envoy in Japan. He was met in Tsukushi (Kyushu) by commissioners of welcome, and was conducted thence by sea to Naniwa (now Osaka), where, at the mouth of the river, thirty "gaily-decked" boats awaited him, and he and his suite were conducted to a residence newly built for the occasion. Six weeks later they entered the capital, after a message of welcome had been delivered to them by a muraji. Seventy-five fully caparisoned horses were placed at their disposal, and after a further rest of nine days, the envoy's official audience took place. He did not see the Empress' face. Her Majesty was secluded in the hall of audience to which only the principal ministers were admitted. Hence the ceremony may be said to have taken place in the court-yard. There the gifts brought by the envoy were ranged, and the envoy himself, introduced by two high officials, advanced to the front of the court, made obeisance twice, and, kneeling, declared the purport of his mission. The despatch carried by him ran as follows:


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