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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Kamatari barely survived until success came in sight


*He

was a hostage. The constant residence of Korean hostages in Japan speaks eloquently of the relations existing between the two countries. There were no Japanese hostages in Korea.

Shiragi continued during more than a hundred years to maintain a semblance of deferential intercourse, but her conduct became ultimately so unruly that, in the reign of Nimmyo (834-850), her people were prohibited from visiting Japan. From Kudara, however, after its overthrow by China, there migrated almost continuously for some time a number of inhabitants who became naturalized in Japan. They were distributed chiefly in the provinces of Omi and Musashi, Son-Kwang, a brother of the former King of Kudara, being required to live in Naniwa (Osaka) for the purpose of controlling them. Koma, also, when it fell into Chinese hands, sent many settlers to Japan, and during the reign of the Empress Gemmyo (708-715), they were transferred from the six provinces of Suruga, Kai, Sagami, Kazusa, Shimosa, and Hitachi to Musashi, where the district inhabited by them was thenceforth called Koma-gori. Thus, Japan extended her hospitality to the men whose independence she had not been able to assert. Her relations with her peninsular neighbour ended humanely though not gloriously. They had cost her heavily in life and treasure, but she had been repaid fully with the civilization which Korea helped her to import.

THE THIRTY-EIGHTH SOVEREIGN, THE EMPEROR

TENCHI (A.D. 668-671)

It will be observed that although the thirty-seventh sovereign, the Empress Saimei, died in the year 661, the reign of her successor, Tenchi, did not commence historically until 668. There thus appears to have been an interregnum of seven years. The explanation is that the Crown Prince, Naka, while taking the sceptre, did not actually wield it. He entrusted the administrative functions to his younger brother, Oama, and continued to devote himself to the great work of reform. He had stood aside in favour of Kotoku sixteen years previously and in favour of the Empress Saimei six years previously, and now, for seven years longer, he refrained from identifying himself with the Throne until the fate of his innovations was known. Having assumed the task of eradicating abuses which, for a thousand years, had been growing unchecked, he shrank from associating the Crown directly with risks of failure. But in the year 668, judging that his reforms had been sufficiently assimilated to warrant confidence, he formally ascended the throne and is known in history as Tenchi (Heavenly Intelligence).

Only four years of life remained to him, and almost immediately after his accession he lost his great coadjutor, Kamatari. Of the four men who had worked out the "Daika restoration," Kuromaro, the student, died in China a year (654) after the demise of the illustrious priest, Bin; Kamatari barely survived until success came in sight, and Prince Naka (Tenchi) was taken two years later (671). It is related that in the days when the prince and Kamatari planned the outlines of their great scheme, they were accustomed to meet for purposes of conference in a remote valley on the east of the capital, where an aged wistaria happened to be in bloom at the most critical of their consultations. Kamatari therefore desired to change his uji name from Nakatomi to Fujiwara (wistaria), and the prince, on ascending the throne, gave effect to this request. There thus came into existence a family, the most famous in Japanese history. The secluded valley where the momentous meetings took place received the name of Tamu* no Mine, and a shrine stands there now in memory of Kamatari. The Emperor would fain have attended Kamatari's obsequies in person, but his ministers dissuaded him on the ground that such a course would be unprecedented. His Majesty confined himself therefore to conferring on the deceased statesman posthumous official rank, the first instance of a practice destined to became habitual in Japan.


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