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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

By and by the Korean shaku foot


three-legged crow of the sun.


In the field of agriculture this epoch offers nothing more remarkable than the construction of nine reservoirs for irrigation purposes and the digging of a large canal in Yamashiro province. It is also thought worthy of historical notice that a Korean prince unsuccessfully attempted to domesticate bees on a Japanese mountain.


Considerable progress seems to have been made in tradal matters. Markets were opened at several places in the interior, and coastwise commerce developed so much that, in A.D. 553, it was found expedient to appoint an official for the purpose of numbering and registering the vessels thus employed. The Chinese settler, Wang Sin-i, who has already been spoken of as the only person able to decipher a Korean memorial, was given the office of fune no osa (chief of the shipping bureau) and granted the title of fune no fubito (registrar of vessels). Subsequently, during the reign of Jomei (629-641), an akinai-osa (chief of trade) was appointed in the person of Munemaro, whose father, Kuhi, had brought scales and weights from China during the reign of Sushun (558-592), and this system was formally adopted in the days of Jomei (629-641). There had not apparently been any officially recognized weights and measures in remote antiquity. The width of the hand (ta or tsuka) and the

spread of the arms (hiro) were the only dimensions employed. By and by the Korean shaku (foot), which corresponds to 1.17 shaku of the present day, came into use. In Kenso's time (485-487) there is mention of a measure of rice being sold for a piece of silver, and the Emperor Kimmei (540-571) is recorded to have given 1000 koku of seed-barley to the King of Kudara. But it is supposed that the writer of the Chronicles, in making these entries, projected the terminology of his own time into the previous centuries. There were neither coins nor koku in those eras.


Up to the time (A.D. 603) of the institution of caps as marks of rank, men were in the habit of dividing their hair in the centre and tying it above the ears in a style called mizura. But such a fashion did not accord with the wearing of caps which were gathered up on the crown in the shape of a bag. Hence men of rank took to binding the hair in a queue on the top of the head. The old style was continued, however, by men having no rank and by youths. A child's hair was looped on the temples in imitation of the flower of a gourd--hence called hisago-bana--and women wore their tresses hanging free. The institution of caps interfered also with the use of hairpins, which were often made of gold and very elaborate. These now came to be thrust, not directly into the hair, but through the cord employed to tie the cap above. It is recorded that, in the year 611, when the Empress Suiko and her Court went on a picnic, the colour of the ministers' garments agreed with that of their official caps, and that each wore hair-ornaments which, in the case of the two highest functionaries, were made of gold; in the case of the next two, of leopards' tails; and in the case of lower ranks, of birds' tails.

On a more ceremonious occasion, namely, the reception of the Chinese envoys from the Sui Court, the Chronicles state that Japanese princes and ministers "all wore gold hair-ornaments,* and their garments were of brocade, purple, and embroidery, with thin silk stuffs of various colours and patterns." Costume had become thus gorgeous after the institution of Buddhism and the establishment of intercourse direct with the Sui, and, subsequently, the Tang dynasty. Even in the manner of folding the garments over the breast--not from right to left but from left to right--the imported fashion was followed. Wadded garments are incidently mentioned in the year A.D. 643.

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