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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Which debouches on the west coast of Yezo


is recorded as to the origin or incidents of this campaign. One account says that Hirafu, on his return, presented two white bears to the Empress; that he fought with the Sushen and carried back forty-nine captives. It may be assumed, however, that the enterprise proved abortive, for, two years later (660), he was again sent against the Sushen with two hundred ships. En route for his destination he took on board his own vessel some of the inhabitants of Yezo (Yemishi) to act as guides, and the flotilla arrived presently in the vicinity of a long river, unnamed in the annals but supposed to have been the Ishikari, which debouches on the west coast of Yezo. There a body of over a thousand Yemishi in a camp facing the river sent messengers to report that the Sushen fleet had arrived in great force and that they were in imminent danger. The Sushen had over twenty vessels and were lying in a concealed port whence Hirafu in vain sent messengers to summon them.

What ensued in thus told in the Chronicles: "Hirafu heaped up on the beach coloured silk stuffs, weapons, iron, etc.," to excite the cupidity of the Sushen, who thereupon drew up their fleet in order, approached "with equal oars, flying flags made of feathers tied to poles, and halted in a shallow place. Then from one of their ships they sent forth two old men who went round the coloured silk stuffs and other articles which had been piled up, examined them closely, whereafter they changed the

single garments they had on, and each taking up a piece of cloth went on board their ship and departed." Meanwhile the Japanese had not made any attempt to molest them. Presently the two old men returned, took off the exchanged garments and, laying them down together with the cloth they had taken away, re-embarked and departed.

Up to this Hirafu seems to have aimed at commercial intercourse. But his overtures having been rejected, he sent to summon the Sushen. They refused to come, and their prayer for peace having been unsuccessful, they retired to "their own palisades." There the Japanese attacked them, and the Sushen, seeing that defeat was inevitable, put to death their own wives and children. How they themselves fared is not recorded, nor do the Chronicles indicate where "their own palisades" were situated, but in Japan it has always been believed that the desperate engagement was fought in the Amur River, and its issue may be inferred from the fact that although the Japanese lost one general officer, Hirafu was able on his return to present to the Empress more than fifty "barbarians," presumably Sushen. Nevertheless, it is recorded that in the same year (A.D. 660), forty-seven men of Sushen were entertained at Court, and the inference is either that these were among the above "savages"--in which case Japan's treatment of her captured foes in ancient times would merit applause--or that the Sushen had previously established relations with Japan, and that Hirafu's campaign was merely to repel trespass.

During the next sixteen years nothing more is heard of the Sushen, but, in A.D. 676, seven of them arrived in the train of an envoy from Sinra, the eastern of the three kingdoms into which Korea was then divided. This incident evokes no remark whatever from the compilers of the Chronicles, and they treat with equal indifference the statement that during the reign of the Empress Jito, in the year A.D. 696, presents of coats and trousers made of brocade, together with dark-red and deep-purple coarse silks, oxen, and other things were given to two men of Sushen. Nothing in this brief record suggests that any considerable intercourse existed in ancient times between the Japanese and the Tungusic Manchu, or that the latter settled in Japan in any appreciable numbers.

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