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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

To reach Yamato by sea from Kyushu two routes offer


names for the earthly Mikados were invented in the reign of Kwammu (A.D. 782-805), i.e., after the date of the compilation of the Records and the Chronicles. But they are in universal use by the Japanese, though to speak of a living sovereign by his posthumous name is a manifest anomaly.


According to the Chronicles, the four sons of Fuki-ayezu engaged in a celebrated expedition from Tsukushi (Kyushu) to Yamato, but one alone, the youngest, survived. According to the Records, two only took part in the expedition, the other two having died before it set out. The former version seems more consistent with the facts, and with the manner of the two princes' deaths, as described in the Records. Looking from the east coast of the island of Kyushu, the province of Yamato lies to the northeast, at a distance of about 350 miles, and forms the centre of the Kii promontory. From what has preceded, a reader of Japanese history is prepared to find that the objective of the expedition was Izumo, not Yamato, since it was to prepare for the occupation of the former province that the Sun goddess and her coadjutors expended so much energy. No explanation whatever of this discrepancy is offered, but it cannot be supposed that Yamato was regarded as a halfway house to Izumo, seeing that they lie on opposite coasts of Japan and are two hundred miles distant.

The Chronicles

assign the genesis of the enterprise to Prince Iware, whom they throughout call Hohodemi, and into whose mouth they put an exhortation--obviously based on a Chinese model--speaking of a land in the east encircled by blue mountains and well situated, as the centre of administrative authority. To reach Yamato by sea from Kyushu two routes offer; one, the more direct, is by the Pacific Ocean straight to the south coast of the Kii promontory; the other is by the Inland Sea to the northwestern coast of the same promontory. The latter was chosen, doubtless because nautical knowledge and seagoing vessels were alike wanting.

It is not possible, however, to speak with confidence as to the nature of the ships possessed by the Japanese in early times. The first mention of ships occurs in the story of Susanoo's arrival in Japan. He is said to have carried with him quantities of tree seeds which he planted in the Eight Island Country, the cryptomeria and the camphor being intended to serve as "floating riches," namely ships. This would suggest, as is indeed commonly believed, that the boats of that era were simply hollow trunks of trees.

Five centuries later, however, without any intervening reference, we find the Emperor Sujin urging the construction of ships as of cardinal importance for purposes of coastwise transport--advice which is hardly consistent with the idea of log boats. Again, in A.D. 274, the people of Izu are recorded as having built and sent to the Court a vessel one hundred feet long; and, twenty-six years later, this ship having become old and unserviceable, was used as fuel for manufacturing salt, five hundred bags of which were distributed among the provinces with directions to construct as many ships.

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