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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

On the occasion of a visit by Richu to that island


MANNERS

AND CUSTOMS

The annals of Richu's reign confirm a principle which received its first illustration when the Emperor Keiko put to death for parricide the daughter of a Kumaso chief, though she had betrayed her father in the interest of Keiko himself. Similar deference to the spirit of loyalty led to the execution of Sashihire in the time of Richu. A retainer of the rebellious Prince Nakatsu, Sashihire, assassinated that prince at the instance of Prince Mizuha, who promised large reward. But after the deed had been accomplished, Heguri no Tsuku advised his nephew, Mizuha, saying, "Sashihire has killed his own lord for the sake of another, and although for us he has done a great service, yet towards his own lord his conduct has been heartless in the extreme." Sashihire was therefore put to death. That this principle was always observed in Japan cannot be asserted, but that it was always respected is certain.

In Richu's reign there is found the first clear proof that tattooing was not practised in Japan for ornamental purposes. Tattooing is first mentioned as a custom of the Yemishi when their country was inspected by Takenouchi at Keiko's orders. But in Richu's time it was employed to punish the muraji of Atsumi, who had joined the rebellion of Prince Nakatsu. He was "inked" on the face. It appears also that the same practice had hitherto been employed to distinguish horse-keepers, but the custom was finally abandoned

in deference to an alleged revelation from Izanagi, the deity of Awaji, on the occasion of a visit by Richu to that island. In the context of this revelation it is noticeable that belief in the malign influence of offended deities was gaining ground. Thus, on the occasion of the sudden death of Princess Kuro, the voice of the wind was heard to utter mysterious words in the "great void" immediately before the coming of a messenger to announce the event, and the Emperor attributed the calamity to the misconduct of an official who had removed certain persons from serving at a shrine.

The annals of this reign are noteworthy as containing the earliest reference to the compilation of books. It is stated that in the year A.D. 403 "local recorders were appointed for the first time in the various provinces, who noted down statements and communicated the writings of the four quarters." An eminent critic--Mr. W. G. Aston--regards this as an anachronism, since the coming of the Korean scholar, Wani (vide sup.), did not take place until the year 405, which date probably preceded by many years the appointment of recorders. But it has been shown above that the innovation due to Wani was, not the art of writing, but, in all probability, a knowledge of the Chinese classics.

Another institution established during this era was a treasury (A.D. 405), and the two learned Koreans who had come from Paikche (Kudara) were appointed to keep the accounts. A work of later date than the Chronicles or Records--the Shokuin-rei--says that in this treasury were stored "gold and silver, jewels, precious utensils, brocade and satin, saicenet, rugs and mattresses, and the rare objects sent as tribute by the various barbarians."


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