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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Returned to Tsukushi to fight his brother


apparent silence of the annals about the subsequent career of the tribe is accounted for by supposing that the Kumaso were identical with the Hayato (falcon men), who make their first appearance upon the scene in prehistoric days as followers of Hosuseri in his contest with his younger brother, Hohodemi, the hero of the legend about the palace of the sea god. Hohodemi according to the rationalized version of the legend having obtained assistance in the shape of ships and mariners from an oversea monarch (supposed to have reigned in Korea), returned to Tsukushi to fight his brother, and being victorious, spared Hosuseri's life on condition that the descendants of the vanquished through eighty generations should serve the victor's descendants as mimes.

"On that account," says the Chronicles, "the various Hayato, descended from Hosuseri to the present time, do not leave the vicinity of the Imperial palace enclosure and render service instead of watch-dogs." The first mention of the name Hayato after the prehistoric battle in Kyushu, occurs in the year 399, when Sashihire, one of the tribe, was induced to assassinate his master, an Imperial prince. This incident goes to show that individual members of the tribe were then employed at Court; an inference confirmed fifty-one years later, when, on the death of Emperor Yuryaku, "the Hayato lamented night and day beside the misasagi (tomb) and refused the food offered to them, until at the end of seven

days they died."

It can scarcely be doubted that we have here a reversion to the old custom which compelled slaves to follow their lords to the grave. The Hayato serving in the Court at that epoch held the status generally assigned in ancient days to vanquished people, the status of serfs or slaves. Six times during the next 214 years we find the Hayato repairing to the Court to pay homage, in the performance of which function they are usually bracketted with the Yemishi. Once (682) a wrestling match took place in the Imperial presence between the Hayato of Osumi and those of Satsuma, and once (694) the viceroy of Tsukushi (Kyushu) presented 174 Hayato to the Court.


In ancient Japan there was a class of men to whom the epithet "Tsuchi" (earth-spiders) was applied. Their identity has been a subject of much controversy. The first mention made of them in Japanese annals occurs in connexion with the slaughter of eighty braves invited to a banquet by the Emperor Jimmu's general in a pit-dwelling at Osaka.* The Records apply to these men the epithet "Tsuchi-gumo," whereas the Chronicles represent the Emperor as celebrating the incident in a couplet which speaks of them as Yemishi. It will be seen presently that the apparent confusion of epithet probably conveys a truth.

*This incident has been already referred to under the heading "Yemishi." It is to be observed that the "Osaka" here mentioned is not the modern city of Osaka.

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