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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

And were distinguished as o omi and o muraji


distinction of Shimbetsu and Kwobetsu was not nominally recognized until the fourth century, but it undoubtedly existed in practice at an early date.

Thus, the title omi (grandee) held by the Kami of a Kwobetsu-uji was deemed higher than that of muraji (chief) held by the Kami of a Shimbetsu-uji. The blood relations of sovereigns either assisted at Court in the administration of State affairs or went to the provinces in the capacity of governors. They received various titles in addition to that of omi, for example sukune (noble), ason or asomi (Court noble), kimi (duke), wake (lord), etc.

History gives no evidence of a fixed official organization in ancient times. The method pursued by the sovereign was to summon such omi and muraji as were notably influential or competent, and to entrust to them the duty of discharging functions or dealing with a special situation. Those so summoned were termed mae-isu-gimi (dukes of the Presence). The highest honour bestowed on a subject in those days fell to the noble, Takenouchi, who, in consideration of his services, was named O-mae-tsu-gimi (great duke of the Presence) by the Emperor Seimu (A.D. 133). Among the omi and muraji, those conspicuously powerful were charged with the superintendence of several uji, and were distinguished as o-omi and o-muraji. It became customary to appoint an o-omi and an o-muraji at the Court, just as in later days there was a sa-daijin (minister

of the Left) and an u-daijin (minister of the Right). The o-omi supervised all members of the Kwobetsu-uji occupying administrative posts at Court, and the o-muraji discharged a similar function in the case of members of Shimbetsu-uji. Outside the capital local affairs were administered by kuni-no-miyatsuko or tomo-no-miyatsuko* Among the former, the heads of Kwobetsu-uji predominated among the latter, those of Shimbetsu-uji.

*Tomo is an abbreviation of tomo-be.


It will be seen from the above that in old Japan lineage counted above everything, alike officially and socially. The offices, the honours and the lands were all in the hands of the lineal descendants of the original Yamato chiefs. Nevertheless the omi and the muraji stood higher in national esteem than the kuni-no-miyatsuko or the tomo-no-miyatsuko; the o-omi and the o-muraji, still higher; and the sovereign, at the apex of all. That much deference was paid to functions. Things remained unaltered in this respect until the sixth century when the force of foreign example began to make itself felt.





The fifteenth Sovereign, Ojin, came to the throne at the age of seventy, according to the Chronicles, and occupied it for forty years. Like a majority of the sovereigns in that epoch he had many consorts and many children--three of the former (including two younger sisters of the Emperor) and twenty of the latter. Comparison with Korean history goes to indicate that the reign is antedated by just 120 years, or two of the sexagenary cycles, but of course such a correction cannot be applied to every incident of the era.


One of the interesting features of Ojin's reign is that maritime affairs receive notice for the first time. It is stated that the fishermen of various places raised a commotion, refused to obey the Imperial commands, and were not quieted until a noble, Ohama, was sent to deal with them. Nothing is stated as to the cause of this complication, but it is doubtless connected with requisitions of fish for the Court, and probably the fishing folk of Japan had already developed the fine physique and stalwart disposition that distinguish their modern representatives. Two years later, instructions were issued that hereditary corporations (be) of fishermen should be established in the provinces, and, shortly afterwards, the duty of constructing a boat one hundred feet in length was imposed upon the people of Izu, a peninsular province so remote from Yamato that its choice for such a purpose is difficult to explain. There was no question of recompensing the builders of this boat: the product of their labour was regarded as "tribute."

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