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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

After breaking the power of the Kumaso


The

incident, though remote from the capital, was sufficiently formidable to induce the Emperor Keiko to lead a force against them in person from Yamato. En route he had to deal with "brigands" infesting Suwo and Buzen, provinces separated by the Inland Sea and situated respectively on the south of the main island and the north of Kyushu. These provinces were ruled by chieftainesses, who declared themselves loyal to the Imperial cause, and gave information about the haunts and habits of the "brigands," who in Suwo had no special appellation but in Buzen were known as Tsuchi-gumo, a name to be spoken of presently. They were disposed of partly by stratagem and partly by open warfare. But when the Yamato troops arrived in Hyuga within striking distance of the Kumaso, the Emperor hesitated. He deemed it wise not to touch the spear-points of these puissant foes. Ultimately he overcame them by enticing the two daughters of the principal leaders and making a show of affection for one of them. She conducted Japanese soldiers to her father's residence, and having plied him with strong drink, cut his bow-string while he slept so that the soldiers could kill him with impunity. It is recorded that Keiko put the girl to death for her unfilial conduct, but the assassination of her father helped the Japanese materially in their campaign against the Kumaso, whom they succeeded in subduing and in whose land the Emperor remained six years.

The Kumaso were not quelled,

however. Scarcely eight years had elapsed from the time of Keiko's return to Yamato when they rebelled again, "making ceaseless raids upon the frontier districts;" and he sent against them his son, Yamato-dake; with a band of skilled archers. This youth, one of the most heroic figures in ancient Japanese history, was only sixteen. He disguised himself as a girl and thus gained access to a banquet given by the principal Kumaso leader to celebrate the opening of a new residence. Attracted by the beauty of the supposed girl, the Kumaso chieftain placed her beside him, and when he had drunk heavily, Yamato-dake stabbed him to the heart,* subsequently serving all his band in the same way. After this, the Kumaso remained quiet for nearly a century, but in the year 193,** during the reign of the Emperor Chuai, they once more rebelled, and the Emperor organized an expedition against them. He failed in the struggle and was killed by the Kumaso's arrows. Thenceforth history is silent about them.

*The Chronicles relate that when the Kumaso was struck down he asked for a moment's respite to learn the name of his slayer, whose prowess astounded him. On receiving an answer he sought the prince's permission to give him a title, and declared that instead of being called Yamato Oguna, the name hitherto borne by him, he should be termed Yamato-dake (Champion of Japan) because he had conquered the hitherto unconquerable. The prince accepted the name, and then gave the Kumaso his coup de grace.

**It should be understood that these dates, being prehistoric, are not wholly reliable.

Who, then, were they? It is related in the Chronicles that, after breaking the power of the Kumaso, the Emperor Keiko made a tour of inspection in Tsukushi (Kyushu), and arriving at the district of Kuma, summoned two brothers, princes of Kuma, to pay homage. One obeyed, but the other refused, and soldiers were therefore sent to put him to death. Now Kuma was the name of the three kingdoms into which the Korean peninsula was divided in ancient times, and it has been suggested [Aston] that the land of Kuma in Korea was the parent country of Kuma in Japan, Kom in the Korean language having the same meaning (bear) as Kuma in the Japanese. This, of course, involves the conclusion that the Kumaso were originally Korean emigrants; a theory somewhat difficult to reconcile with their location in the extreme south of Kyushu.


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