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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Keiko was ten feet two inches high


*By

Dr. Ariga, an eminent Japanese authority.

The reader is already familiar with this Tokoyo-no-Kuni (Eternal Land). We hear of it first as the home of "long-singing birds" summoned to take part in enticing the Sun goddess from her cave. Then it figures as the final retreat of Sukuna-hikona, the Aescalapius of the mythological age. Then we find one of Jimmu's elder brothers treading on the waves to reach it. Then we hear of it as the birthplace of the billows that make Ise their bourne, and now it is described by Tajima Mori in his death-song as the "mysterious realm of gods and genii," so distant that ten years were needed to reach it and return. It appears in fact to have been an epithet for China in general, and the destination of Tajima Mori is believed to have been Shantung, to reach which place by sea from Japan was a great feat of navigation in those primitive days. Tajima Mori returned to find the Emperor dead, and in despair he committed suicide.

AGRICULTURE AND ADMINISTRATION

The reclamation of land for purposes of rice cultivation went on vigorously during Suinin's reign. More than eight hundred ponds and aqueducts are said to have been constructed by order of the sovereign for irrigation uses throughout the provinces. It would seem, too, that the practice of formally consulting Court officials about administrative problems had its origin at this time. No definite organization

for the purpose was yet created, but it became customary to convene distinguished scions of the Imperial line and heads of great subject-families to discuss and report upon affairs of State. Another innovation referred to in this era was the offering of weapons of war at the shrines. We read of as many as a thousand swords being forged to form part of the sacred treasures at the shrine of Ise-no-Kami, and the occasion was seized to organize a number of hereditary corporations (be) of arm-makers and armourers. These were placed under the control of Prince Inishiki, another of the captains of the Imperial life-guards (mononobe-no-Obito). It is thus evident that something more than a religious rite was involved in these measures.

THE TWELFTH EMPEROR, KEIKO (A.D. 71--130)

According to the Records, Keiko was ten feet two inches high, and his shank measured four feet one inch. His nomination as Prince Imperial was an even more arbitrary violation of the right of primogeniture than the case of his predecessor had been, for he was chosen in preference to his elder brother merely because, when the two youths were casually questioned as to what they wished for, the elder said, "a bow and arrows," and the younger, "the empire." The delusive nature of the Nihongi's chronology in these prehistoric epochs is exemplified in the annals of this sovereign, for he is represented as having been in his eighty-third year when he ascended the throne, yet, in the third year of his reign, he took a consort who bore him thirteen children, and altogether his progeny numbered eighty sons and daughters by seven wives. His plan of providing for these numerous scions constituted the first systematization of a custom which had been observed in a fitful manner by several of his predecessors. They had given to their sons local titles and estates but had not required them to leave the capital. Keiko, however, appointed his sons, with three exceptions, to the position of provincial or district viceroy, preserving their Imperial connexion by calling them wake, or branch families. This subject will present itself for further notice during the reign of Keiko's successor.


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