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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

The Tsuchi gumo had Japanese names


next allusion to Tsuchi-gumo occurs in the annals of the year (662 B.C.) following the above event, according to the chronology of the Chronicles. The Emperor, having commanded his generals to exercise the troops, Tsuchi-gumo were found in three places, and as they declined to submit, a detachment was sent against them. Concerning a fourth band of these defiant folk, the Chronicles say: "They had short bodies and long legs and arms. They were of the same class as the pigmies. The Imperial troops wove nets of dolichos, which they flung over them and then slew them."

There are four comments to be made on this. The first is that the scene of the fighting was in Yamato. The second, that the chiefs of the Tsuchi-gumo had Japanese names--names identical, in two cases, with those of a kind of Shinto priest (hafuri), and therefore most unlikely to have been borne by men not of Japanese origin. The third, that the presence of Tsuchi-gumo in Yamato preceded the arrival of Jimmu's expedition. And the fourth, that the Records are silent about the whole episode. As for the things told in the Chronicles about short bodies, long limbs, pigmies, and nets of dolichos, they may be dismissed as mere fancies suggested by the name Tsuchi-gumo, which was commonly supposed to mean "earth-spiders." If any inference may be drawn from the Chronicles' story, it is that there were Japanese in Yamato before Jimmu's time, and that Tsuchi-gumo were simply bands of Japanese



They are heard of next in the province of Bungo (on the northeast of Kyushu) where (A.D. 82) the Emperor Keiko led an army to attack the Kumaso. Two bands of Tsuchi-gumo are mentioned as living there, and the Imperial forces had no little difficulty in subduing them. Their chiefs are described as "mighty of frame and having numerous followers." In dealing with the first band, Keiko caused his bravest soldiers to carry mallets made from camellia trees, though why such weapons should have been preferred to the trenchant swords used by the Japanese there is nothing to show. (Another account says "mallet-headed swords," which is much more credible). In dealing with the second, he was driven back once by their rain of arrows, and when he attacked from another quarter, the Tsuchi-gumo, their submission having been refused, flung themselves into a ravine and perished.

Here again certain points have to be noticed: that there were Tsuchi-gumo in Kyushu as well as in Yamato; that if one account describes them as pigmies, another depicts them as "mighty of frame," and that in Kyushu, as in Yamato, the Tsuchi-gumo had Japanese names. Only once again do the annals refer to Tsuchi-gumo. They relate curtly that on his return from quelling the Kumaso the Emperor Keiko killed a Tsuchi-gumo in the province of Hizen. The truth seems to be that factitious import has been attached to the Tsuchi-gumo. Mainly because they were pit-dwellers, it was assumed for a tune that they represented a race which had immigrated to Japan at some date prior to the arrival of the Yemishi (modern Ainu). This theory was founded on the supposed discovery of relics of pit-dwellers in the islands of Yezo and Itorop, and their hasty identification as Kuro-pok-guru--the Ainu term for underground dwellers--whose modern representatives are seen among the Kurilsky or their neighbours in Kamchatka and Saghalien. But closer examination of the Yezo and Itorop pits showed that there was complete absence of any mark of antiquity--such as the presence of large trees or even deep-rooted brushwood;--that they were arranged in regular order, suggesting a military encampment rather than the abode of savages; that they were of uniform size, with few exceptions; that on excavation they yielded fragments of hard wood, unglazed pottery, and a Japanese dirk, and, finally, that their site corresponded with that of military encampments established in Yezo and the Kuriles by the Japanese Government in the early part of the nineteenth century as a defence against Russian aggression.

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