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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

In connexion with Yamato dake's career

It was imagined until quite recent times that the pass referred to was the well-known Usui Toge on the Nakasendo road; but Dr. Kume has shown that such a supposition is inconsistent with any rational itinerary of Yamato-dake's march, and that the sea in question cannot be seen from that defile. The pass mentioned in the Chronicles is another of the same name not far from the Hakone region, and the term "Azuma" "had always been used to designate the Eastern Provinces." Throughout the Records and the Chronicles frequent instances occur of attempts to derive place-names from appropriate legends, but probably in many cases the legend was suggested by the name. In connexion with Yamato-dake's career, a circumstance is recorded which indirectly points to the absence of history at that period. In order to immortalize the memory of the hero, hereditary corporations (be) called after him were created. These Take-be gave their names to the districts where they lived, in Ise, Izumo, Mimasaka, and Bizen.


Another custom inaugurated by this sovereign was to require that the rulers of provinces should send to the Yamato Court female hostages. The first example of this practice took place on the occasion of an Imperial visit to the regions overrun by Yamato-dake's forces. Each of twelve kuni-yatsuko (provincial rulers) was required to send one damsel for the purpose of serving in the culinary department of the palace. They were called makura-ko (pillow-child) and they seem to have been ultimately drafted into the ranks of the uneme (ladies-in-waiting). Japanese historians hold that the makura-ko were daughters of the local magnates by whom they were sent, though the fact of that relationship is not clearly stated in either the Records or the Chronicles.


In the annals of Suinin's reign brief reference is made to granaries (miyake) erected by order of the Court. The number of these was increased in Keiko's time, and it is further mentioned that a hereditary corporation of rice-field cultivators (tabe) were organized for service on the Imperial estates. The miyake were at once storehouse and offices for administering agricultural affairs.


The thirteenth Emperor, Seimu, occupied the throne for fifty-nine years, according to the Chronicles, but the only noteworthy feature of his reign was the organization of local government, and the details of his system are so vaguely stated as to be incomprehensible without much reference and some hypotheses. Speaking broadly, the facts are these: Imperial princes who had distinguished themselves by evidences of ability or courage were despatched to places of special importance in the provinces, under the name of wake, a term conveying the signification of "branch of the Imperial family." There is reason to think that these appointments were designed to extend the prestige of the Court rather than to facilitate the administration of provincial affairs. The latter duty was entrusted to officials called kuni-no-miyatsuko and agata-nushi, which may be translated "provincial governor" and "district headman." The word miyatsuko literally signifies "honourable (mi) servant (yatsuko or yakko)."

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