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Japanese Mythology

The Sacred Land of the Gods
( Based on the Chronicle " Kojiki " )




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Preface to the Chronicle " Kojiki "
by the editor Ôno Yasumaro


  
Preface to the Chronicle " Kojiki "
and the ages in which it was
written

  According to the preface to the Chronicle " Kojiki ", Ôno Yasumaro presented 3 books of
  the Chronicle " Kojiki " - Chronicle of Old Things - to the ruling Empress Genmei on
  28th January in 712. The project - which was being suspended - to publish the Chronicle
  had been first ordered by the emperor Tenmu.

  Rise and Fall of the powerful Soga clan. :


  Let us go back a half century in Japanese history. In 641, the emperor Jyomei passed
  away  and his wife empress Kôgyoku occupied the throne. Although she had two sons
  princes Naka -no-ôeno -ôji y Ôama-no-ôji the late emperor had another son prince
  Huruhito-no-ôeno-ôji with a daughter of Soga-no Umako, the head of the powerful main
  house of the Soga  clan.

  The prince Yamase-no-ôe-no-ôji, son of Prince regent Shôtoku Taishi and a
  grandchild of the emperor Yômei, was enjoying popular reputation and seemed to want
   to pretend to the imperial throne.

   The powerful Soga clan wanted the prince Huruhito-no-ôeno-ôji to rise to the throne
   ( although Yamase-no-ôe-no-ôji was also a son of Soga-no-tojiko-no-iratsume, and
   grandchild of Soga-no-umako. )



Unique thirteen story pagoda
of Danzan-jinjya shrine,
Sakurai city, Nara pref.
The actual name of the
temple is " Tanzan-jinjya ".
Even the local people,
however, call it Danzan-
jinjya, the more common
name.

The empress Kôgyoku wanted that one of her own children
would occupy the throne but she rose to the throne to head
off political confusion  and  conflict between the candidates
for the throne for the moment. The Imperial Court left
the post of the crown prince vacant also to avoid some
political confusion which would be  to be inevitable.
The empress, however came to show her excellent ruling
abilibity and was   not a mere interim sovereign.  She
actually stayed on the throme during many years and the
 first monarch who, once abdicated, rose to the throne
for the second time.

The Soga clan had an enormous political, economical
and military power. In 643, Soga Iruka attacked the
palace of the prince Yamase-no-ôe-no-ôji, who once fled
to the Ikoma mountain but he retuned to the palace in
Ikaruga. He said : " I could gather forces and combat
against the Soga clan and defeat them. The war,
however, would bring about much disaster to our
people. I would rather give my life to the Soga clan to
evade disastrous war. "  The palace was attacked again,
and he was mas killed, together with all his family, retainers,
and even concubines and servants. The family of the
eminent statesman, the prince regent Shôtoku Taishi,
was thus eradicated.

The princes Nakano-ôeno-ôji and Ôamano-ôji  were terrified
and worried about the ambition if the Soga clan. They might
attack the princes at any moment. They thought that they
must be cautious.

One young nobleman, Nakatomi-no-Kamatari believed
that the Soga clan must been eliminated so that the prestige and power of the Imperial
House should not be eclipsed by the power of the powerful Soga clan. The Soga clan built huge palaces and a mausoleum.



Eminent statesman
Fujiwara-no Kamatari
( Nakatomi-no Kamatari )
( 614 - 669 )
( By courtesy of
Yasaki Inari  Shrine, Tokyo )
In those times, the Imperial House did not built huge
mausoleum. It was the custom of the past centuries.

He belonged to the Nakatomi clan which was one
of the important clans and was in charge of the
Shinto religous matters. His clan, however, was
not so powerful as the Soga clan. He must find first
a wise prince who would occupy the throne and also
needed to have strong supporters to realize his
ambition.

He believed that  the prince Nakano-ôeno-ôji
would be the best monarch among the prospects.
In a meeting of " Kemari - Kick Ball ", which was
held in the grounds of the Hôkôji ( Now the Asuka-
dera Shrine ), Kamatari became acquanted with
the prince Nakano-ôeno-ôji

When the prince made a bad kick at a ball, his shoe got loose and flew off. Kamatari picked it up and handed it to the prince.

" Kemari - the divine kick-ball game "

" Kemari " is not a competition sports of  the Western concepts. It is a divine act between
friends and there are no opponents involved. The game usually with 8 players positioned
in a circle. The players must them kick a ball so that other players could receive it easily.
Every player must colaborate to keep the ball in the air so that the game will continue as
long as possible.

The game can be most enjoyable when the playwers come to play it with the same love,
affection and compassion and sympathy as that of the gods towards human beings.
There are no winner nor loser involved. The game then becomes the devine act.

In the VII century, the Kemai was a new sports introduced from China. In Eastern Asia
( Korea and China ), peoples soon came to lose interest in the Kemari. In Japan on the
contrary, it has been preserved until now probably with the Japanese alterations. In the
Nara period ( 710-794 ) and the Heian period ( 794-1185 ), the Kemari became a popular
game among noblemen in the Imperial Court in Kyoto. The noblemen of the Asukai
house and Namba house were famous as experts in Kemari. One of the expert
noblemen is said to have walked on the railings of the Kiyomizu Temple while kicking
a ball.

In the Kamakura period, the kamakura Shogunate invited to Kamakura from Kyoto,
two noblemen, Asukai Masatsune and Namba Munenaga, and the Kemari became
popular among warlords and samurai. The shogun of the Muromachi shogunate
liked to play the kemari. During the Azuchi-momoyama period, Oda Nobunaga and
Toyotomi Hideyoshi liked to play the Kemari.

According to the tradition of the Shiramine Jingu Shrine in Kyoto dedicated to two
emperors, there lived a god there called " Sei-daimyojin " which became a god for all
sports specially for ball games. The shrine now attracts many players of basll games,
professional and amateur. Your can see the kemari performances on and 14th
April and July 7th at the grounds of  the Shiramine Jinjya.

From 1868, Western influences flooded into Japan. Many beautiful traditions of
Japan disappeared or came to the brink of extinction. The kemari - kick ball game -
was also disappearing. During the times of Chinese-Japanese War, however,
emperor Meiji was entertained with a Kemari game at the General Headquaters of
Hiroshima, which his Majesty liked very much.

Back in Tokyo, he ordered the former high rank noblemen who had had the priviledge
to enter the main hall of the Imperial Palace in Kyoto to restore the dying tradition of the
Kemari. In the 36th year of the Meiji Era ( in 1903 ), the Association to pwerserve the
Kemai was founded at the imperial wish. The documents stored in the houses of Asuaki
and Namba regarding the Kemari were investigated. They could make the kick-ball
gear.

Now, many prestigous shines and temples, also ther Imperial House Agency have
Kemari teams. They show the elegant Kemai game, clad in the beatiful costume of the
noblemen of the Heian Period. The Imperial House Agency also has a Kemari team.
At the Imperial Palace grounds of Kyoto, they hold a Kemari game a few times a year.

The Fall of the Head House of  the Soga :


Friendship between Nakatomi-no-kamatari and prince Nakano-ôeno-ôji became
increasingly close. The prince confessed to Kamatari his intention to assassinate Soga
Iruka.

They climbed " Tônomine " Hill in May 645 and discussed about  the ways to assassinate
Iruka. Thus, the hill came be called " the Hill of Discussion. ", or " the Forest of Discussion".
Iruka was guarded by many soldiers and his palace also had many guards. Kamatari and
the prince, unbelievably, decided to kill Iruga right in the Imperial Palace in broad daylight.



" Kemari "( Kick Ball )
in the grounds of  the Danzan-jinjya ",
in the Sakurai city, Nara pref.
The players are clad in the robes of
noblemen of the Heian Period.


Soga-no-iruka was
assassinated in the Imperial Palace
of Asuka-Itabuki-no-miya in 645
and the great Reform of Taika
started. The foundation of the
central government under the Imperial
Court became more firm.
The scene was painted based on the
wrong imagination of the painter.
The empress Kôgyoku was
dressed in the robe of a Court lady
of the Heian period. The Imperial
Palace looks so humble.
( By courtesy of Tansan( Tanzan )
Shrine from the Roll of the
pictures of the history of
Tônomine Mountain treasured
in the Shrine. )

Kamatari and the prince were very diligent about winning allys to their cause. They took
one and a half year to prepare for the assassination. They finally decided on the day of
the reception of the ambassadors from three Korean kingdoms at the Imperial House
as the date to assassinate Soga-no Iruka.

The original plan went as follows :

" Saeiki-no-muraji-ko-maro attacks and assassinates Soga-no Iruka when Soga-no-
Kurayamada reads the welcome message to the Korean diplomats. "

This original plan did not work well. What really happened was as follows. :

When Soga-no-Kurayamada started reading the message, the assassin Muraji-ko-maro
had not arrived yet. Soga-no-Kurayamada began to tremble and broke out in a cold
sweat. Soga-no Iruka asked him. : " Why do you tremble ? ".  Kurayamada replied. :
" I am trembling because I am in the gracious, august and awe-inspring presence of
her Majesty the empress. "

The prince Nakano-ôeno-ôji, suddenly attacked Iruka and stabbed him in the head
and shoulder. The assassin, now present, Saeki-no-muraji-ko-maro, followed him. Iruka,
gravely wounded, fled to the side of the Empress and cried : " Your Majesty, I would like to
beseach you to stop these men from doing such a barbarous act. While the empress was
in a panic, he was attacked again and died.

The twelve gates of the Imperial Palaces had been closed, because the Nakano-ôeno-
ôji had ordered the guards to keep the gates closed. The guards were already at the sway
of the prince, who said vehemently . : " I've eliminated Kuratsukuri ( Iruka ) who intended
to ruin the Heavenly sons of the Sun. Why he could displace the Heavenly Descendants
and take our place ! " All noblemen were astonished and terrified.

Soga-no Emishi, father of Iruka, having receivrd the news of the death of his son, called
all his soldiers to come to the palace and prepared to combat. The palace was guarded
well. Some generals, however, deserted the palace. Soga-no Emishi set fire to the palace
and comitted suicide. The glory of the head house of the Soga clan thus ended. Yet,
subsidiary Soga houses survived like Soga-Kurayamada-no-maro, one of main
colaborators of the prince.

The empress Kôgyoku did not want to stay on the throne, because his son killed Soga
Emishi and Soga Iruka who had been the most important persons in her government.
Although she wanted his son to accede to the throne, Natatomi-no-kamatari, prudent
statesman, advised the empress that Nakano-ôeno-ôji should not occupy the throne for
the time being, bacause he was a protagonist of the assassination of Soga Iruka and
recommended her younger brother prince Karu-no-miko to rise to the throne. The
empress accepted his advice.

The prince Karu-no-miko, uncle of prince Nakano-ôeno-ôji, refused at first to become
emperor, saying that the prince Huruhito-no-ôji,should rise to the throne, as he was elder
and a son of the emperor Jyomei, wife of the empress Kôgyoku.


Location of the Imperial Palace
of the ancient capital of Naniwa-
Nagara-Toyosaki-no-miya
( Osaka ) ( 652-793 )
( From 654 to 793, it became the
formal capital for a short time
temporarily or was a secondary
capital with the offices of
foreign matters and the guest
houses for foreign visitors. )

The round stones idicates
the real sizes of the pillars
of the Palace unearthed

This site is near the Osaka
Castle and the Osaka
Museum of History.



Excavation site
of the Palace " Naniwa-
Nagara-Toyosaki-no-miya
In the Back-ground , you
can see the Osaka
Castle


This statement may have been a kind of political
gesture to see the attitude of the prince Huruhito-no-
ôji, who, nevertheless, refused also to occupy the
throne. he said definately: " I value the garacious
imperial decision. The prince Huruhito should
accede to the throne. I would like to enter a religious
life, going to the Yoshino mountains and to pray to
Buddha for the glory and prosperity of the Imperial
House and for the country in my whole life.

No sooner than he said that, he presented his
sword to the empress and ordered all his retainers
also to present the arms they carried.

The prince Nakano-ôeno-ôji and all his followers
watched all what he said and did, with the doubtful
eyes.

The prince Huruhito-no-ôji believed that it was
dangerous to express his wish to become emperor
without the strong support of the main house of
the Soga clan which had perished.

Great Reform of Taika :

The prince Karu-no-miko rose to the throne as the
thirteen seventh sovereign. The new government was
able to have prince Nakano-ôeno-ôji as the crown
prince, the post vacant for some years to skirt political
confusion and conflicts.

Kamatami became minister of the Center, the post
inferior to those of the Ministrer of the Righty and the
Minister of the Left, which were occupied by the two
eminent noblemen who colaborated with Kamatari
and Nakano-ôeno-ôji to overthrow the power of
the Soga main house. The ministers were not already
the hereditary posts of the powerful clans.

They were civil servants. The government established
the posts for the advisers. Two scholars were assingned
to them. For the first time in Japanese history, the
abdicated empress obtained the title of " Great Lady
and Imperial Mother ". It would be proven later
that this title was not merely nominal.

Now, Nakatomi-no Kamatari and prince Nakano-ôeno -ôji obtained the power to carry out many political reforms, although he was not on the imperial throne.

In 645, immediately after the establiment of the new government, Nakano-ôeno-ôji
obtained the information about the conspiracy of the prince Huruhito-no-ôji in the
Yoshino mountains. He sent troops to Yoshino and killed Prince Huruhito. Thus,
one possible candidate to the throne was eliminated.

The reforms started in 645 after the assassination of Soga Iruka is called " the Great
Reform of Taika " The imperial decree of the "  the Great Reform of Taika " was issued
in 646. The Taika Reform aimed at establishing the central government and putting
an end to the holding system of lands and people by the powerful clans. The private
lands and private people became the public land and the public people. The farm
lands were distributed to farmers and at their death, they were returned to the state.

The country was devided into provinces and counties. The governors were sent from
the central government to the provinces. The laws were established for the new
administrative and tax systems.

Transfer of the Capital of " Asuka-Itabuki-no-miya " to the capital of Naniwa ( Osaka ) :

In 645., the capital en Asuka was transferred to the Capital in Naniwa ( Osaka ). The
palace of Naniwa-Nagara-Toyosaki-no-miya was complete in 652 which was the capital
of Japan in the reign of Emperor Kôtoku until 654 and became the capital later temporarily
or the secondary capital until 793 with the offices of foreign affairs and guest houses for
he official visitors from abroad.

The prince Nakano-ôeno-ôji did not like the location of the capital in Naniwa ( Osaka )
probably because the capital on the coast of the Osaka Bay is susceptible to foreign
invasion from the sea. The Kingdom of Paerkche, an ally of Japan in the south of
the Korean Peninsula was threatened by the Kingdom of Silla. He wanted to trasfer the
capital back to Asuka, Yamato.

The Japanese influence in the Korean Peninsula had been weakened after the fall of
the United tribal Kingdoms of Kaya or Karak ( Kaya. Kora or Mimana in Japanese ) where
Japan had the " Palace of the Japanese Government. They were Japanese enclaves in
the Korean Peninsula. They often asked Japan to send rescue troops to help the
confederation of the kingdoms sandwitched between Paekche and Silla. The eastern
regions of the united kingdoms were conquered in 532 by Silla which subjugated the
western parts in 562. They were annexed to the Kingdon of Silla.

The fall of the Kindom of Paerkche ( " Kudara " in Japanese ), an ally of Japan, was
coming soon. In 660, the Kingdom of Paerkche was abolished, by being invaded by
the joint forces of China of the Tang dyansty of 130,000 men and the Korean Kingdom
Silla ( Shiragi in Japanese of 50,000. The resistance to restore the kingdom with the
Japanese rescue forces continued until 663.

Emperor Kôtoku abandoned in Naniwa :


The emperor Kôtoku had not enough caliber as a sovereign. He preferred to confer
decorations to noblemen and commoners alike at random. He was more interested
in studying confucionism than affairs of state. He became a puppet of prince Nakano-
ôeno-ôji and Kamatari.

The prince Nakano-ôeno-ôji was not able to persuade emperor Kôtoku to move back
to Asuka. In 653, he abondoned the emperor in the Palace of Naniwa and moved to
the palace of Asuka-kawabe-no-karimiya in Asuka, Yamato, together with his mother
( abdicated empress ), almost all government officials and soldiers, and even his
sister the Empress Hashihito-no-himemiko

The Capital of Naniwa lost its functions without the government officials. The poor
emperor, abandoned even by his wife, died in the following year of 654 in the
Palace of Naniwa, bearing a grudge against the prince Nakano-ôeno-ôji.

Reigning empress Saimei ;

The prince Nakano-ôeno-ôji, legitimate heir to the throne, did not succeed  to it.
Unbelievably, " Great Lady and Imperial Mother, empress once abdicted, rose to
the throne again, with the new name of empress Saimei in 654. In Japanese
history , there are only cases of the second time seccession to the throne. In the
Nara period, in the 8th century, the empress Kôken rose to the throne for the
second timer with tyhe name of empress Shôtoku.

En 658, the prince Arima-no-miko, son of the emperor Kôtoku, recommended the hot
spring resort of Muro ( Now, the hot spring resort of Shirahara,   pref. Wakayama ) for its
excellent medicinal effect to his aunt empress Saimei. She went there with his son
Nakano-ôeno-ôji. .

While the empress was absent from the capital, the prince Arima-no-miko was caught
in a trap. When Soga-no-akae said to the prince Arima :  I don't think that the empress
is ruling the country well. What is your opinion ? " The prince replied : " I agree with you ".
and he cited three bad policies of the empress. Soga-no-akae arrested the prince
on suspicion of  insurrection and lack of loyalty to the throne. He was brought to Muro
where the empress and the prince Nakano-ôeno-ôji were enjoying the hot spring.

When interrogated about his suspicion, he said. " I don't know nothing. Only Akae and
Heaven know about my loyalty to her Majesty. ". The prince Nakano-ôeno-ôji executed
him.
 Thus, one more prospect to the throne was eliminated.

Loss of the Japanese influence in the Korean Peninsula :


The Ages of the Three
Kingdoms in the
Korean Peninsula.
The United tribal kingdoms
" Kaya " , a Japanese enclave
in the Korean Peninsula
did not exist in the 7th century
after being annexed to the
Kingdon of Silla at the
middle of the 6th century

In 660, the Kingdom of Paerkche ( " Kudara " in
Japanese ) in the Korean Peninsula was attacked
by the allied forces of the Tang dyanasty of China
of 130,000 men and the Kingdom of Silla ( Shiragi
in Japanese ) of Korea with 50,000 soldiers.
The Royal members of Paerkche asked Japan
for rescue forces to restore the kingdom sending
to Japan a few hundred s of the Chinese prisoners
of war. The empress Saimei decided to help them
and she went to kyushu with his son leading many
soldiers and died there in 661. She was 67 years old
and hisson, the crown prince was noy yet on the
throne.

Even after the death of the empress, he did not sit
on the throne during 7 years keeping the throne
vacant until 668 when he finally sat on the throne
with the name of emperor Tenji.

En 661, after the death of his mother, the prince Nakano-ôeno-ôji, remaining in Kyushu,continued sending to Korea,foods, arms and the Korean prince Hoshô who had been kept as a hostage in Japan to help him restore the kindom.

It was amazing that Empress Saimei seemed to want to go to Korea leading the japanese
troops at her age of 67. If she did not die in the General headquaters of Kyushu, she may
have been the oldest female commander in chief in the world history.

In 663, the prince sent troops of 27,000 men to Korea. In the Battle of Hakusukinoe,
the Japanese fleet was defeated by 170 chinese warships. On the land combats,
the Japanese and Paerkche troops were also defeated. Many Japanese and Paerkche
soldiers fled to Japan. In the islands of Tsushima and Iki between Korea and Japan
and in Kyushu, the frontier soldiers called " Sakimori " were stationed and the fortresses
were constructed against the Korean and Chinese invasions.

The Capital of Ôtsu-no miya
:

In 667, the capital in Asuka was moved to Ôtsu on the coast of Lake Biwa-ko,
probably against invasions fron Korea and China. In 668, he finally rose to the throne
with the name empror Tenji. His most trusted statesman, Nakatomi-no Kamatari died.
The emperor conferred the surname of Fujiwara and the postumous title of " Daishokkan
- the Great Crown ", the supreme title given to the imperial subjects.

Fujiwara-no Kamatari dedicated all his life to weekening the powerful clans and to
strengthening the power of the imperial central government. But, ironically, his descendants
soon acquired the power which the Soga clan had. They sent their daughters to the Imperial
Court as empresses and concubines of the emperors.

The Fujuwara clan eventually came into ownership of a lot of land. The doctrine of " All land
belonging to the state " established by their forefather Fujiwara-no Kamatari began to
dissolve. They wielded power as fathers-in-law and grandfathers of the emperors.

Fujiwara-no Kamatari had two sons. One of them was Fujiwara-no Fuhito. He established
the Codes of Taihô. His daughter Komyô married emperor Shômu.

Emperor Tenmu :

In 668, emperor Tenji chose his younger brother prince Ôama-no ôjí as the crown prince.
I suppose, he must have regretted his earlier decision to make his brother the crown
prince, as the emperor's son grew elder.

In 671, he nominated his son prince Ôtomo-no ôjí as the Dajyô Daijin - the Great Minister
General. It became ambiguous who was the No.2 in the imperial government. The
authority of crown prince was eclipsed. We can not understand why the emperor made
such inconsistent decisions. He did not have a wise advisor, Fujiwara-no Kamatari who
had died a few years ago.

Although emperor Tenji wanted his son to succeed to the throne, he cancealed his real
wish and called to his death bed his brother Ôama-no ojí and asked him to rule Japan
when he would die. Ôama-no ojí was aware of the real wish of the emperor and thought
that it would be better  to decline the offer and said : " Your son Ôtomo-no ôjí should
suceed the throne. I like to go to the Yoshino mountains and enter  religious life and pray
to gods and Buddha for the glory and prosperity of the Imperial House and the nation ".
Emperor Tenji accepted the with of his brother.  People said : " It was like putting wings
to a tiger and let it go to the mountains. "  They understood that the conflicts had been
evaded only for the time being to recur in a near future.



Ôno Yasumaro writes in his preface to the Chronicle " Kojiki " says : " When the time
became ripe, he majestically sprang out of the forests of the Yoshino Mountains like a
tiger which sprang out of his den. "

In 672, emperor Tenji died. Although he was on the throne during only 4 years, he carried
on many important reforms while he was crown prince during 23 years. At the news of the
death of emperor Tenji, prince Ôama-no ôjí left the Yoshino Mountains and advanced
eastward to gather military forces in the province of Mino ( Now, Gifu prefecture )and the
province of Owari ( Now, Aichi Pref. ). Many important clans there expressed their loyalty to
the prince and offerred many soldiers at his service.

Obtaining enough military forces, he returned westward. He defeated the troops of prince
Ôtomo-no-ôji in the provinces of Ômi and Yamato, and in many other places. This war
was calle the War of Jinshin.

Ôno Yasumaro, editor of the Chronicle " Kojiki " must have fought for prince Ôama-no ôjí
in this war, because he narrates vividly and excitedly about this war in his prerface to the
Chronicle " Kojiki ". in praise of Emperor Tenmu.

In 673, he rose to the throne with the name of emperor Tenmu in the Palace of Asuka-
kiyomigahara. He is said to have been the first emperor called Tennô in chinese fashion.
So far, the emperor had been called " Sumera Mikoto -  August Prince ". Many Japanese
believe that this means " Ruling prince ", but the linguists say that " sumera " means
"august" "noble " or " sacred " in ancient Japanese.


He carried on further the administrative and judicial reforms which his brother
emperor Tenji had realized.

In 681, he ordered his bureaucrats to revise the previous codes and the Codes of Asuka
-kiyomigahara-rei were completed during the reign of empress Jitô. In 686, he fell gravely ill.
The priests said that he was obsessed with the spirit of the sword " Kusanagi-no-tsurugi " .
It was sent to the Atsuta Gingû Shrine( Now, situated in Nagoya city )to be enshrined there.

He transferred on his death bed all the political powers to the emprerss and and the crown
prince and died.

During the reign of emperor Tenmu, the regime of the central inmperial government
was strengthened. The land owned by important clans was confiscated.  He propagated
buddhism.

Emperor Tenmu ordered Hieda-no-arei to learn by heart ancient oral traditions and poems
and he ordered also Ôno Yasumaro to edit  a chronicle based on the oral traditions which
Hieda-no-arei memorized.

Emperor tenmu also ordered his sons to gather historical records which would became
the basis of the Chronicle completed in 720. After  the death of emperor Tenmu, empress
Jitô reigned.

Ancient Capital Hujiwara-kyô :

In 694, empress Jitô moved from the capital in Asuka to the first large capital " Fujiwara
kyô " ( Now, in Kashiwara city ). During many years, the capital of " Fujiwara kyô " was not
believed to be
a large capital.  It has been proven, however that it was a large capital with
an area of 25 square kilometers. Until those times, the capital was constructed for each
reign. Fujiwara-kyô was a capital for empress Jitô, emperor Monmu and empress Genmei.

Legend says that the first emperor of Japan, emperor Jinmu, after finishing eastward
advance from Kyushu, rose to the throne in Kashiwara in 660 B.C.E.



Shinto Shrine
Kashiwara-jingû,
ciudad de Kashiwara city,
Nara pref.

The site of accession to
the throne of the first
emperor Jinmu


Fue la colina femenina
que tuvo dos pretendientes -
colinas masculinas.
La capital antigua " Fujiwara-
kyô fue fundada entre
tres colinas.

The hill in the photo,
Unebi-yama
had been already
legendary

before the publication
of the anthology
" Manyôshû " Unebi-yama
was a female hill which
had two suitors which were
two male hills. The ancient caopital
" Fujiwara-kyô " was founded in]the triangle of three hills.



Great Buddha Hall
" Daibutsu-den "
the largest wooden
building in the world
In 1890( 23rd year of the Meiji Era), the shrine for the
first emperor Jinmu was built. In 1940 ( 15th year of
the Shôwa Era, commemorating the 2,600th
anniversary of the accession to the throne of emperor
Jinmu, inhabitants living adjacent to the shrine were
evacuated to provide the shrine with a large area
of the sanctuary forests.

In Kashiwawara city, there remains Imai-cho, a
town of the Azuchi-momoyama period.( See the
photos below )

Empress Jitô was a second daughter of emperor
Tenji. Her mother was a daughter of Soga-kurayamata
-ishikawa-maro
. Although the main house of the
Soga clan perished, its subisidiary houses related to
the imperial family by marriage remained

In 670, emperor Tenmu made six princes to sign the
oath of loyalty to any prince who would become
emperor. Emperor Tenmu said : " Although you have
a different mother, all of you are my dear sons. Obey to
the next emperor. "

In 681, prince
Kusakabe-no-miko was nominated as
the crown prince. In 686, when emperor Tenmu died,
leaving all power in the hands of the crown prince and
the empress. The crown prince Kusakabe-no-miko did
not occupied the throne. The duunvirate of the empress
and the crown prince lasted 2 years and 3 months with
the throne vacant.

Prince Kusakabe-no-miko was in poor health and was
enjoying less reputation than prince Ôtsu-no miko.

In spite of the oath of loyalty among the six princes,
prince Ôtsu-no miko, son of emperor Tenmu, was
suspected of treason and was executed by empress
Jitô.

In 689, Crown prince Kusakabe-no miko died.
The empress finally acceded to the throne in 690.

In 694, empress Jitô moved the capital in Asuka to
the capital " Fujiwara-kyô " .

In 696, she abdicated and nominating his grandson
Karu-no-miko for the throne.( This prince different from
prince karu-no miko who had been emperor Kôtoku).
The prince became emperor Monmu.

During the short reign of emperor Monmu, in 701, the
Codes of Taihô Ritsuryô were completed by the staff of
19 bureucrats and princes, including Fujiwara-no Fuhito,
a son of Fujiwara-no Kamatari. With these codes, the Ritsuryô regime - government by the laws was completed.

In 702, empress Jitô died. In 707, emperor Monmu also died in 707. Princess Ahe-no miko,
mother of empress Monmu, and grandmother of prince Obito-no miko occupied the throne
as empress Genmei, because his grandson was still a little boy.

Empress Genmei ordered Ôno Yasumaro to resume editing of the chronicle previously
ordered by emperor Tenmu but suspended. Yasamaro completed the chronicle
and presented the Chronile " Kojiki " of three books to empress Genmei in 712. She ordered
also her bureaucrats and princes to complie historical records for the regional chronicles of
history of the provinces.

Capital de Heijyo-kyo de Nara :

Empress Genmei transferred the capital of Fujiwara-kyô to Heijyô-kyô in 710. Many
historians agree that in 710, the so-called Asuka Period ended, and the Nara Period
began. Empress Genmei abdicted in 715. Her grandson had not grown up enough to sit on
the throne. He was only 14 years old. He came crown prince. The princess Hidaka-no
Naishin-nô, therefore, sister of empress Genmei was nominated for the throne. She became
empress Genshô.

During the reign of empress Genshô, in 720, the Chronicle " Nihon Shoki " was completed.
In 724, empress Genshô abdicted and prince Obito-no-miko became emperor Shômu.
Emperor Shômu was a great patron of Buddhism.In 741, he ordered his ministers to
build provincial buddhist temples - Kokubunji all over the country. In 743, he ordered them
to make the largest buddhist bronze image in the world. The Great Buddha Image in Nara
is the largest bronze Buddhist image in ther world even now.

The Great Buddha Hall - Daibutsu-den is the biggest wooden building in the world, although
it is of the two thirds of the original size. In 752, in the inaugural ceremony of " Opening the
eyes of Buddha ", 10,000 people including the priests from Korea, China and India were
present.

The capital of Nara ( " Heijyô-kyô " ) flourished like " fragrant flowers " as described in
poems.

Reigning Empresses :

If you believe that reigning empresses in ancient times were puppets of noblemen and
bureaucrats and only figureheads, you are wrong.

Even if they were interim rulers before their sons would occupy the throne, during theirs
reigns, they took the initiative in the political reforms. When Soga-no umako asked
empress Suiko for some public land, she rejected his request deninately, saying. : " You
are my uncle. But, I can't give you any land of the state. If I did,my name would remain in
hidstory as a foolish empress, and you would be noted as a most wicked and greedy
usurper "  Empresses Suiko and Jitô were excellent sovereigns.

Japan had eight empresses for 10 reigns.Two empresses rose th the throne twice.
From the 9th century, there was no reigning empress during about 850 years until
empress Meishô ( Reigning from 1629 to 1643 ) who was a granddaughter of the
second shogun Tokugawa Hidetada.

According to the article 1of the chapter 1 of the Codes of the Imperial House established
in 1947, only a son of the emperor and empress, or a son of other members of the
the Imperial families can succeed to the throne. Crown princess has now only a daughter
and his younger brother prince Akishimo has two daughters. During the past 35 years, the
Imperial House had 9 princesses and no prince.

Many Japanese people are worried and fear that the glorious lineage of  " Ten
Thousands of generations " will be cut off.   Crown prince said in a press conference that
one of the reason of accumulated stress of princess Masako was that she felt an obligation
to produce a male heir to the throne. Prince Masako is hospitalized and has not appeared
in public for many months already.

The public opinion in favour of the revision of the laws to admit a female heir to the throne
is increasing. The politicians, however, are reluctant to bring this delicate issue to the Diet
House to revise the laws, as the move to the laws would mean the assertion that the
princes would not be able to have any sons.

The emperors and the empresses described in the Chronicle " Kojiki " :

In the text of the chronicle " Kojiki ", the last soverign described there-in is Empress
Suiko ( 554 - 628 ). From the 30th emperor Bitatsu to the 33th sovereign - empress
Suiko, only a dozen lines were written, although the names of the succeeding
emperors and empresses are mentioned in the preface of the editor Ôno Yasumaro.

The history of about one century preceeding the date of its publication in 712 was not
written. The large part of the Chronicle " Kojiki " deals the lengendary and mythological
ages. The chronicle " Nihon Shoki " deals the ages of the following monarchs.

Were the Japanese emperors gods ?

I have often seen articles written by foreigners claiming erroneously that the emperors
were worshipped as Gods by bthe Japanese people up until the end of WW II in 1945.

If emperor Showa had been a god, he must not have needed any medical treatment.
But, actually, emperors had medical treatments. The Agency of Imperial House has
a hospital.

If the emperors had been gods, we should not have needed to pray to gods for the
recovery of their illness. From ancient times, however, when the emperor became sick,
in many temples and shrines in Japan, priests prayed to the gods and Buddha for
the recovery of the deseased emperor.

Before the end of the World War II, Japanese children had been taught at primary
schools that Japan was founded by the first human ( not divine ) emperor Jinmu.
Japanese people had not been taught that the emperor was a god. Some people used
the word " Arahitogami - the living god in the form of a human in this world "  for the
emperor without really believing it.

Emperor Showa, however, wanted to declare clearly that he was not a god. He declared
that he is human in the Imperial Rescript issed on January 1st, 1946.

" The ties between us and our people have always stood upon mutual trust and affection
and do no depend upon mere legends and myths. Our ties are not predicated upon
the false conception that the emperor is divine and a god, and that the Japanese people,
superior to other races, are predestined to rule( over) the world. "

Some military leaders wanted to make the most of the divinity of the emperor to continue
the crazy war and the emperor had been displeaed with them.

The Imperial Rescript  of " the Construction of New Japan " issued on Janaury 1st 1946,
is called popularly " The Declaration of Being Human of Emperor Showa ".



( A )

Moneda" Huhon sen "



( C )

Entrance " Suzaku-mon "
of  " Heijyo-kyo "
capital
in Nara



( B )
The capital of " Fujiwara kyô "
in Kashihara city.
( 694 - 710 )



The site of the ancient capital
of Fujiwara-kyô


Coat of arms of
Imai-chô



( D )
Imai-cho, Kashihara, Nara pref.

House of Imanishi
family

( A ) " Huhon sen " Coin

I learned in middle school that " Wadô Kaichin " was the oldest coin of Japan. In 1985,
however, a coin " Fuhon sen " was discovered in a site of the ancient capital of Heijyô-kyô,
Nara. At that time, it was believed to be a kind of an amulet and not a coin which was in
circulation.

Several coins " Fuhon sen ", however, were found in Asuka, Nara and in several other
places far from Nara. The Chronicle " Nihon Shoki " says : " From now on ( 683 during the
reign of emperor Tenmu ),the silver coins should not be used. Only the copper coins
should be used. " The coin " Fuhon sen " was proved to be the oldest coin of Japan.

(b) The capital of " Fujiwara-kyô." ( In Kashihara city )

The empress Jitô, emperor Monmu and empress Genmei reigned in the imperial palace
Fujiwara-kyô capital. The contruction of a large capital started at the order of emperor
Tenmu, who died before it was completed.

It was the first large capital of 5.3 kilometers x 4 kilometers. Until that time, the capital
was built for each reign.

(c) Entrance gate " Suzaku-mon of " Heijyo-kyo " capital of  Nara :

" Heijyo-kyo " was the capital of Japan from 710 to 784. The entrance gate Sujyakumon,
building of the Ministry of the Imperial House and " Tôen Garden " were reproduced at
the excavation sites.

(d) The House of Imanishi family :In Imai-chô, Kashihara city.
http://www.ne.jp/asahi/yukio/303/imait-00.htm

Imai-chô is a town in Kashihara city. The history of Imai-chô town dates back to the
Azuchi-momoyama Period. Imai-chô was one of so-called " Jinai-machi " - religous
and autonomous towns which emerged during the Sengoku ( Civil Wars ) period. The
House of Imanishi family in the above photo was a dwelling house but it served also
as the Court of Justice for the town and as the local government house. The Imanishi
family had the police, judicial and administrative power.

The streets of the Azuchi-momoyama period ( XVI century ) have been prerserved.
In Imai-chô, the houses built in the Azuchi-momoyama and Edo period ( from the 16th
to the 19th centuries ) are preserved. In the Azuchi-momoyama period, Imai-chô was
sorrounded by moats and had the military power to defend the buddhist temple of
Jyôdo Shinshû sect and its parishoners.

There were about 1,000 houses in Imai-chô which had a population of 4,000. They
were rich merchants and it was said that the 70 % of the wealth of the Yamato
Province is concentrated in Imai-cho town.

One of the most well-known Jinai-machi was Osaka Jinai-machi in Ishiyama with
the Cathedral Ishiyama-Hongan-ji of the Ikkôshû ( Jyôdo Shinshû ) sect. Ishiyama-
Hongan-ji fought againt Oda Nobunaga during 10 years ( 1570- 1580 ) and finally
in 1580, was defeated by Nobunaga and burnt down.

The powerful Ikkô buddhists were the great obstacles against the unification of Japan
for Nobunaga and Hideyoshi. They fought many years to suppress them.

The Ikkô buddhists in the province of Kaga were most powerful. They arose in rebellion
in 1474 and in 1488 destroyed the warlord Togashi and gained control of the entire
province of Kaga and they established the independant religious republic which
lasted amost 100 years until 1580. The province of Kaga was called as " The country
ruled by  commoners. "

The rich merchants of Imai-chô had good relations with the rich marchants of
Sakai which was also autonomous city. They made the most use of influences which
the rich marchants of Sakai had over Oda Nobunaga.

Imai-chô was not destroyed by Nobunaga, because the town surrendered their
weapons to Nobunaga and showed their obedience to him and could maintain
autonomy. Nobunaga did not want to make war for the war's sake, contrary to
popular belief.

The first shogun Ieyasu also recognized autonomy of the town. The 5th Shogun
Tsunayoshi abolished the special priviledges which Imai-chô had owned. It fell
under the central government of shogunate but was permitted to be autonomous.

Each 6 blocks of the town had an assistant mayor and the whole town has a mayor.



Preface to the Chronicle " Kojiki "
by its chief editor Ôno Yasumaro


Genesis of the World and the Advent of the first gods which created
Earth and Heaven. The Heavenly Sovereigns and the emperors.



  Ôno Yasumaro, loyal subject  of  Her Magesty the Empress takes the liberty to state
  the following :


  Although the origin of the Universe was already coagulated, its elements had no form.
  Who could imagine the ages in which the elements have no name, no shape and no
  function ?

  And then, the Universe was divided into Heaven and Earth and the three gods of creation
  appeared. Everything had the Ying and the Yang, and the god Izanaki-no-mikoto
  and the goddess Izanami-no-mikoto became the original creators of many gods.

  When the Izanaki-no-mikoto, after returning to Earth from " Yomotsu kuni - Inferno "
  and washed his eyes, the Sun Godess - Amaterasu Ômi-kami and Moon God -
  Tsukuyomi-no-kami were born. When the Goddess Izanami-no-mikoto bathed
  herself at Tachibana-no-odo in Kyushu, many gods who created the islands were
  born.

   The ancient traditions tell us about the vague ages of the creations of the land
   and the islands. Our ancient wise men told us about the birth of the gods and
   our emperors.

   We know that the Sun Goddess Amaterasu Ômikami left the Heavenyly Cave, when
   the sacred mirror wads hung on the branches of the Sakaki tree. From her, hundreds
   soveigns descended and that the three gods were born when the Sun Goddess
   crunched the sword of Susanoo-no-mikoto with the teeth. We also know that Eight
   millions of  the gods had a conference on Yasu-no-kawara to discuss about the
   strategy to pacify Earth.

   In Obama, the thundwer goddess Takemikazuchi-no-kami persuded successfully
   the supreme god on Earth Okuminushi-no-mikoto to cede land on Earth peacefully
   to the gods from heaven.

   The Niniji-no-mikoto descended onto the top of the Mt.Takachiho-no-mine. His
   great granson Kamuyamato-iware-biko-no-mikoto advanced toward the East,

   Kamuyamato-iwarebiko-no-mikoto, in the mountains Kumano, was saved from
   a bear with the sacred sword and in the Yoshino mountains in yamato, he was
   guided by three-legged crows. He drove off his enemies with the magical dance.
   With the song as a sign to attack, he attacked the enemies and defeated them,

   We are informed also that emperor Sujin, following an oracle in his dream, worshipped
   the gods on Earth and the gods from Heaven. He was considered, therefore, an
   excellent sovereign.

   Emperor Nintoku, seeing that no smoke was rising from the furnaces of the kichens of
   people, deplored about the poor livining of his subjects, and exempted taxes and
   labor for three years. He was considered, therefore, as a sacred monarch.

   Emperor Seimu, in the Palace of Shiga in the province of Ômi, decided on the lines of
   the borders of counties and provinces.  Emperor Ingyô corrected the false lineages
   of the clans and surnames.

   Although the developments of our country are sometimes rapid and other times slow,
   the imperial government ocassionally adopted the policies of austerities and other times
   the policies of opulance. The evils, corruptions, and injustices, however, have always
   been corrected in every imperial reign.




  About emperor Tenmu and reigning empress Genmei who ordered Ôno Yasumato
  to edit the imperial and national history and the difficulty to write it in Japanese
  language.



  Emperor Tenmu ruled over all islands of Japan in the Palace of Kiyomigahara. His majesty
   was gifted with the quality for a monarch. He had been quiet like a dragon at the bottom of
   the Ocean to jump to the surface when the good oportunity would come.

   He listened to a divine music of the lyrics which persuaded him to carry on the noble task
   and understood his vocation to rise to the throne when his majesty saw black clouds. .

   His majesty secluded himself in the Yoshino Mountains in the south of the capital and in
   religious life, away from the politics awaiting a good opportunity to leave the mountains to
   combat.

   When the time became ripe, his Majesty left the mountains like a tiger which would
   jump out of his den.
  
   The imperial troops left Yoshino and advanced crossing rivers and mountains with
   5 brave generals. Three troops led by prince Takechi-no-miko joined them. The
   red colour  standard which his Majesty was holding terrified the enemies. The shining
   weapons of the imperial soldiers scared the enemies and defeated them turning them
   into broken pieces of tiles.

   Bloody battles ended in a short time like a lightning. The emperor ordered his men to
   loosen the cords of carts tied to cows which were loaded with weapons and to give
   enough rest to horses and men alike. The imperial army enter the capital silently and
   majestically. The standard was rolled up. The lances were put into their sheaths.
   Soldiers danced, sang and drank victorious cups of  sake. They remained in the
   capital.

    In the month of february in the year of the rooster, when the Jupiter was in the precise
    west in Heaven, prince Ôama-no-ôji rose to the throne in the Palace of Asuka-
    Kiyomigahara.

    His majesty's government overhelmed that of of Huanf Ti  
‰©’ι, one of the five
    most excellent ancient emperors of China. His Majesty also surpussed the kings Wen
    and  Wu
( •Ά‰€@•‰€@j@of Chou ( @Žό@j dynasty of China in virtues.
    ( Notes : The editor of  Chronicle " Kojiki ", Ôno Yasumano must have read chinese
    classics and must have been wekk versed in ancient chinese history, just like the
    European intellectuals read greek and roman classics.

    Inheriting three Imperial Regalias, his majesty ruled over even the remotest places
    of the country. With the advent of  the devine sovereing, ying and yang began to function
    well and five elements of the universe began to work harmoniously. ( Notes : These
    concepts come from chinese philosophy. )

    Emperor Tenmu restored worship of Heavenly gods and gods on Earth and restored
    also good habits and traditions and made them reach to furthest corners of the
    country. Wisdom of his Majesty is so vast and profound like the ocean and wanted to
    know ancient things and understood them clearly like a brilliant\ly shining mirror.

   His Majesty said :

  "I have heard that the documents of the history of Imperial House and various things
   treasured in houses of many noblemen do not agree with ear others and are full of
   incorrect descriptions. If the wrong information is not correctly now, it will be transferred
    to new generation as correct one.

    The correct history is the foundation of the Imperial Nation for correct administration.
    Compile historical information of emperors and investigate old documents and oral
    traditions. Eliminate erros and determine true facts. We must trasfer trustworthy history
    to the new generations. "

    At those times, one 28 year old young man named Hieda-no-arei was serving as
    a guard to his majesty. He could keep in mind anything he saw and hear.

    His Majesty emperor Tenmu ordered to him to learn by heart history and tradition
    which seemed to be trustworthy. Many months and many years passed and the
    task of editing a chronicle was realized in the reign od emperor Tenmu. ( who died
    in 686 C.E.

    The present empress Genmei has inherited noble imperial tradition. Her virtues
    illuminate far and wide our country. Her majesty rules over us with benevolance,
    understanding thebtheory of the universe consisted of Heaven, Earth and Men

    Being in the palace, her Majesty's blessings reach to the most remote places
     one can reach on horseback. The light of august teachings illuminate the bows
     of ships in far-away seas.
  
     The overlapped lights of the sun shine in the sky. Clouds of good luck flow
     through the sky like smoke dragging its tails.

     Also on Earth, many phenomena which were lucky signs happened like two trees
     which shared the common branches and rice linked with the ear. Our government
     clerks in charge of writing these happenings were too busy writing down all these
     auspicious phenomena and could not have a rest putting pens on desks.

     The imperial prestige is far-reaching and ambassadors from many foreign countries
     with many tributes, visit us incesantly. They speak many different languages and we
     need to have multiple interpreters to communicate with them. The Warehouses of
     the Imperial House are always full of  precious tributes which ambassadors from@
     abroad have presented to His Majesty.

      The august name of Her Majesty the Empress Genmei is as well-known as the
      name of  King  
Yu ( βZ ) of Hsia ( ‰Δ@j dynasty  was in ancient China. Her Majesty
     was as famous as a virtuous sovereign King Tang
( “’@jof Yin (@Ÿu @j dynasty.

     Her Majesty the Empress Genmei deplores over the confusion of history, oral
     tradition, ancient songs and poems and ordered Ôno Yasumaro, on September
    18th of the 4th year of the Wadô Era , to edit the true ones, correcting the wrong
     ones based on what Hieda-no-arei could narrate from his memory.
     ( Notes : The 40th emperor Tenmu had already ordered Ôno Yasumaro to edit
     a chronile of old things. The project, however, had not been finished and suspended.
     The 43rd Tenno Genmei ordered him to resume the task and finish it up. )
    
    In ancient times, Japanese words and phrases and thoughts were simples and it is
    difficult to express them with the chinese characters. The words and phrases written
    in chinese language do not agree with the translations in the precise sense of the
    word. Writing all through Japanese sentences using chineses characters as
    phonetic symbols will make a line of a Japanese sentence too long.

    Therefore, we have written some lines mixing chinese characters as phonetic
    symbols and chinese words phonetically translated into Japanese.
  
    Sentences become redundants and complicated with many notes on the
    Japanese pronunciations of chinese words. Therefore, we have omitted some
     notes on the chinese words when the equivalent Japanese words are
     widely recognized.

    We have written notes on chinese words and phrases which are difficult to
    understand. For some proper nouns like " Kusaka " and " Tarashi " , the
    Japanese pronounciations can be recognizable by many people, and we
    have not written notes regarding how to read in Japanese language.

    Our narration begins with the Genesis and ends in the reign of Empress
    Suiko. The Chronicle " Kojiki " consists of of three books. The first book
     deal the creator god Ameno-ninakanushi-no-mikoto until the god Ukaya
     -Hukiaezu-no-mikoto. The second book narrates the times of the first
      emperor Jinmu until emperor Ôjin.

     The third book deals the times from emperor Nintoku until empress Suiko.

     Ôno Yasumaro, loyal imperial subject, has the honor to present three books
     of the Chronicle " Kojiki " to Her Majesty the Empress Genmei.

     In Janaury 28th of the the 5th year of the Wadô Era
  

     Loyal subject Ôno Ason Yasumaro


                        Comments of the translator-writer on the Preface
                  of the editor Ôno Yasumaro to the Chronicle " Kojiki " ,
                               

Probably in 977 C.E., in a monastery of  San Millan de Cogoya near the Road of
Santiago in Spain, a monk wrote in a parchment " Conoajutorio de nuestro
dueno, dueno Christo, dueno  Salbatore, ....- With the help of Our Lord Christ,
Lord Savior .
". These words are considered as the most old sentences written
in Spanish ( Castilian ).

To Spain and British Isles, latin language came with the Roman conquerors, Japan,
however, has not been invaded nor ocuppaied by any invaders from Asian
Continent.

In 410, the emperor Honorius of the Roman Empire decided definately not to
defend anymore the British Isles againt barbarian invaders, the Teutonic tribes
of the Angles, Saxons and Jutes. They spoke a kind of German language of the
Low Germany. The Latin and Celtic language disappeared, leaving some footprints
of the words in the English language.

When the Chronicles " Kojiki " and " Nihon Shoki " were edited in the Japanese
language at the beginning of the 8th century, Teutonic peoples in the British Isles
were speaking a dialect of the Low Germany.

At the beginning of the 9th century, the West Saxons conquered almost all
areas of the British Isles. They, however, soon began to be invaded by the new
invaders called Danes in England. They occupied the half of the British
Island. The West Saxson King Alfred won back a large area of the land occupied
by the Danes.

In the 10th century, the danish people began to invade again the British Isles. In the
11th century, England was occupied by the Normans who came from Normandy,
France. They spoke a kind of French language. They were rulers and the ruled people
spoke a kind of English.

In 1215, King John signed the documents of demands by bishops, barons and
also townsmen. The documents , called Magna Carta, were written in Latin.

Around 1350, English became a language used in the Law Courts. Wicliffe
translated the Bible into English. Chaucer, called the father of English Poetry,
composed poems in English.

In the second half of the 16th century,during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, in Great
Britain, came the English Renaissance. Sidney, Spenser,Marlowe, Ben Jonson,
Francis Bacon and William Shakespeare were the writers of the ages of English
Renaissance.

In Japan, after the English Renaissance, came the golden age of Japanese
literature in the 17th and 18th centuries. Almost all of the writers were commoners
or townsmen,although some of them had been samurai before being engaged
in writing. Chikamatsu Monzaemon ( 1635 - 1724 ) and Takeda Izumo ( 1691
- 1756 )wrote many plays for the puppet show theater and the Kabuki theater.
Ihara Saikaku ( 1642 - 1693 ) wrote essays. Matauo Basho ( 1644 - 1694 )
perfected the short and unique form of poems called " Haiku ".

Mongols under their leader Khubilai Khan tried to invade Japan twice in 1274 and
in 1281 but they failed. Japan cut diplomatic, cultural and commercial relations
with China in the 9th century. Mongols established Yuan Dynasty ( 1279 -
1368@). After having conquered the Kingodom of Koguryo in the Korean Peninsula,
Khubilai Khan demanded through Koguryo that the Japanese should pay tribute to
the Mongol Emperor threatening reprisals if Japan rejected the demand. The
Kamakura Bakufu ( shogunate ) declined the demand.

The first invasion which took place in 1274 failed. In 1281, Khubilai sent troops
again to Japan. Japanese samurai fought bravely against them but the mongols
had catapults and cannon missiles. Their warships were sunk by a typhoon and
they were defeated. They never tried again to invade Japan and went westward to
conquer the Eastern Europe.

Before the 9th century, the Chinese language and their civilization came to Japan
slowly. In the first centuries of the Common Era, when Japan was not a unified
nation and was devided into a few hundreds of countries, some kingdoms had
diplomatic relations with countries in China, as described in some chinese chronicles.
One of those chinese chronicles very famous which describes about Japan is the
Chronicle of the Wei dynasty   compiled in the 3rd century C,E.
( 鰎u˜`l“` )
with the chapter regarding Japan

Before the Commom Era, many refugees came to Japan from the Asian
Continent in the turbulent ages of the falls and rises of many dynasties. They
were not invaders but immigants.  The Jaspanese language, although with
many borrowed chinese words has survived, without suffering the destiny
of  the language of the visigoths in Spain and the latin, danish, Norman French
languages in Great Britain.

The ancient  Japanese language was capable of expressing well emotions,
sentiments and their keen aesthetic sense toward beauty of Japan with mountains,
rivers and forests. The Chinese words borrowed let us think analytically and
conceptually.

Almost all European languages belong to the family of the Indo-European
languages. The Japanese, Mongolian, Turkish, Finnish and Hungarian languages
belong to the family of Ural-altaic languages, diferent from Chinese language.
The grammars of the Japanese language is different from the Chinese language.
The order of subject, object and verb is also different.

The Chinese characters express the meaning visually. If we use chinese characters
as symbols of pronunciation, the meanings are difficult to grasp sometimes. If you
write everything using the chinese words, we can not express well the sentiments
of Japanese hearts - Yamato Gokoro.

The ancient Japanese people, being in a dilemma between " Yamato Gokoro -
Japanese Heart " and " kara Gokoro - Chinese Heart ", were beginning to write in
Japanese using the chinese characters.The official documents were written in
ancient Chinese of the VI or VII centuries. Phonetic letters " Hiragana " and
" Katakana " had not been invented yet.

Between 600 -618, during the reign of empress Suiko with the prince Regent
Shôtoku Taishi, Japan sent 5 delegations to the Imperial Court of Sui dynasty of
China. The delegations had cultural, diplomatic and academic aspects. Many
students were members of the delegations.

The Sui dynasty lasted only 2 generations. To the Tang dynasty China, Japan
continued sending 19 delegations between 630 - 838. During more than 200
years, Japan kept herself informed of the currents in China, although sometimes,
sending a delegation was interrupted during more than 30 years. The cultural
influences were not brought into Japan by any military invasion.

After stopping having cultural relations with China in the 9th century, the peculiar
Japanese cultures began to emerge. At the beginning of the 10th century, court
ladies and noblemen began to write poems and essays in beautiful Japanese,
using phonetic letters " Hiragana "

Writing an diary in the Japanese language was considered as feminine. The govenor
of the Province of Tosa Ki-no-Tsurayuki wrote " The Diary of Tosa " pretending to be a
woman, with the beginning paragraph of " I would like to write s diary which I hear
many men write " He was the first male writer recorded who wrote a diary in
Japanese.

At the 11th century, Lady Murasaki Shikibu wrote in an elegant Japanese
the first long novel in the world " The Tales of Genji - Genji Monogatari ", when the
culture of noble class was at its height, before the emergence of the Samurai
class.

The Tales of Genji is considered as one of the best master-pieces of Japanese
literature.


Shinto ceremony
" Shunko-shiki " to bless the
newly built building.
The shinto priest
speak " Yamato Kotoba "
to the god.

Ôno Yasumaro, the editor of the Chronicle " Kojiki " should have wanted to
mention that  Japan was an advanced country even comparing her with China
with a sophiscated system of government, admiring emperor Tenmu and
empress Genmei, and mentioning many visits of ambassadors from abroad to
the Imperial Court . He wanted to make it clear that Japan is not a tributary
country to Chinese Empire.

Although Ôno Yasumaro wanted to express the pure Japanese Spirit " Yamato
Gokoro ", he was inevitably influenced by the Chinese classics, the Chinese
 phylosophies, Taoism and Confucianism as an intellectual of those days.
He wrote about the Ying and Yang and  the Chinese concepts about the Universe
and cited the Chinese ancient emperors and kings.

The pure Japanese language without any word of foreign origin is called
" Yamato Kotoba ". Charles V of Spain said : " I speak Spanish to God. " He was
a Hapusburg on his father's side, but his first language inhis infancy was French.

The ancient Japanese believed that the words are gods. The words were called
" the verbal spirit - Kotodama ".@The new Testament says in the Gospel according
to John chapters 1:1-4, " In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with
God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were
made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him
was life, and the life was the light of men.".



Shinto ceremony
" Shunko-shiki " to bless the
newly built building.
The shinto priest
speak to the god in
the sacred Japanese
language " Yamato
Kotoba " .


In the Shinto ceremony, priests speak a pure Japanese language " Yamato
Kotoba " which the Japanese were speaking prior to any contact with the
Chinese civllization. It has no words of foreign origin, Chinese or Western, except
for proper names. It was a devine language which the gods living in the Japanese
Archipelago used. Can an Englishman speak in a anglo-saxon language free
from any words of Danish, Norman French and latin origin ?

The Shinto ceremonies to bless the newly-built buildings, high-ways, dams, etc.
are very popular in Japan, praying to the local gods to protect them, although we
held also non-religious inaugural ceremonies.

Some foreign companies hold the shinto ceremony of inauguration, respecting
Japanese tradition.

©@copyright - written on October 22th 2004 - Hiroaki Sasaki






Questions & Suggestions                
                                            


    




     Cick on
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Descriptions



   Official web.page of the Tourist Section of Nara City, Nara
     prefecture. Provide you with all necessary inofrmation to
     make a trip to Nara City.


   National Research Institue for Cultural Properties of Nara


“ϊ–{Œκ

      Offitial web.page of the government of Nara Prefecture


  The Nara International Foundation Commemorating the Silk
    Road Exposition - "

  In ancient times, the Silk Roads were major trqffic routes which linked
   the West and the East.

  Nara, known as the birthplace of Japanese Civilization was the final
  Eastern end of the Silk Route.

  The Research Center for Silk Roadology was opened on the 1st of
  July 1993, based on the achievements of the Nara Silk Road
  Exposition held  in 1988, making Nara known as the eastern end
   of the Silk Roads.

  The European civilization which was brought to Persia by Alexander
  the Great reached China on camel back through the Silk Roads.
  From China, it reached Nara, Japan, its final destination in one of Western
Civilization's journeys.

  The pillars of the Hôryû-ji Temple, the oldest wooden buildings in the
  World  have the bulged center, indicative of Greek influence.

  This web.page will provide you also  with all information about how to
  live in Nara and Japan. ( In English and other languages )besides
   the information for tourists.
   
  
   "  Nara World Heritage Citizen Network " is an organization of the
       citizens of Nara to preserve the cultural  environments of the dite of
       ancient capital of Nara - Heijyô-kyô.


       This web. page is like a encyclopedia of Nara
     prefecture. It has a few thousands of pictures. Amazingly, this was
     not made by a large organization but by two persons living in
     Nara. Regrettably, this web.page is only Japanese. You can
     enjoy, however, many pictures, even if you can not understand
     Japanese.
     


 "Yamato Sanzan " - Three Hills ( mountains ) of Yamato ( Nara )
  The three hills forms a triangle with each side of 3 kilometers long.
  The ancient capital of " Fujiwara-kyô " was within that triangle.
  ( In Japanese, English and French. )
 


  Horyû-ji Temple and its neighboring Buddhist culutal heritages.
   Horyû-ji Temple is the oldest wooden building in the world.

   
   Imai-cho : Video of streets of the Edo Period. ( A )



  
   Beautiful Houses in Imai-cho.
( B )
  Can be jumped to the various pages related to the
    Kashihara city.

  
  Beautiful old street of Imai-cho@@(  ‚b@j


  Beautiful old streets " Jinai-machi " in Tonda-bayashi
  city. ( Old religious and autonomous town )
  
   Beautiful Old Streets in Japan
   
   Nara National Museum


  
  Danzan-jinja Shrine




  
   Brief Explanation about Kashihara City

 

   




                Tsurumi  Ryokuchi  Park
‰Τ”Ž‹L”OŒφ‰€ ’ίŒ©—Ξ’n@

   " Tsurumi Ryokuchi Koen " Park in Osaka and emperor
      Nintoku. Botanical Pavilion
" Sakuya Konohana-kan " .
      Official introduction of confucianism and chinese letters from
       Korean Peninsula.