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The first evidence of this was
manifested in a striking incident. When the Emperor Chuai died, his
consort, Jingo, was enceinte* But the Emperor left two sons by a
previous marriage, and clearly one of them should have succeeded to
the throne. Nevertheless, the prime minister, Takenouchi-no-Sukune,
contrived to have the unborn child recognized as Prince Imperial.**
Naturally the deceased Emperor's two elder sons refused to be
arbitrarily set aside in favour of a baby step-brother. The principle
of primogeniture did not possess binding force in those days, but it
had never previously been violated except by the deliberate and
ostensibly reasonable choice of an Emperor. The two princes,
therefore, called their partisans to arms and prepared to resist the
return of Jingo to Yamato. Here again Takenouchi-no-Sukune acted a
great part. He carried the child by the outer sea to a place of
safety in Kii, while the forces of the Empress sailed up the Inland
Sea to meet the brothers at Naniwa (modern Osaka). Moreover, when the
final combat took place, this same Takenouchi devised a strategy
which won the day, and in every great event during the reign of the
Empress his figure stands prominent. Finally, his granddaughter
became the consort of the Emperor Nintoku (313-399), an alliance
which opened a channel for exercising direct influence upon the
Throne and also furnished a precedent adopted freely in subsequent
times by other noble families harbouring similarly ambitious aims. In
short, from the accession of the Empress Jingo a large part of the
sovereign power began to pass into the hands of the prime minister.

*As illustrating the confused chronology of the Nihongi, it may be
noted that, calculated by the incident of Chuai's career, he must
have been fully one hundred years old when he begot this child. That
is marvellous enough, but to add to the perplexity the Nihongi says
that Chuai died at fifty-two.

**The legend says of this child that its birth was artificially
delayed until the return of the empress from the Korean expedition,
but the fact seems to be that the Emperor died at the end of June and
the Empress' accouchement took place in the following April.

ENGRAVING: DEVIL WITH DRAGON HEAD (Sculptured Wood Figure in the
Museum at Kyoto)

ENGRAVING: HORSE RACE IN OLD JAPAN



CHAPTER X

THE PREHISTORIC SOVEREIGNS (Continued)

THE SOCIAL ORGANIZATION

AT the beginning of the previous chapter brief reference was made to
the three great divisions of the inhabitants of Japan; namely, the
Shimbetsu (Kami class) the Kwobetsu (Imperial class) and the Bambetsu
(aboriginal class). The Shimbetsu comprised three sub-classes;
namely, first, the Tenjin, a term used to designate the descendants
of the great primeval trinity and of the other Kami prior to the Sun
goddess; secondly, the Tenson, or descendants of the Sun goddess to
Jimmu's father (Ugaya-fukiaezu), and thirdly, the Chigi, an
appellation applied to the chiefs found in Izumo by the envoys of the
Sun goddess and in Yamato by Jimmu--chiefs who, though deprived of
power, were recognized to be of the same lineage as their conquerors.
It is plain that few genealogical trees could be actually traced
further back than the Chigi. Hence, for all practical purposes, the
Shimbetsu consisted of the descendants of vanquished chiefs, and the
fact was tacitly acknowledged by assigning to this class the second
place in the social scale, though the inclusion of the Tenjin and the
Tenson should have assured its precedence. The Kwobetsu comprised all
Emperors and Imperial princes from Jimmu downwards. This was the
premier class. The heads of all its families possessed as a
birthright the title of omi (grandee), while the head of a Shimbetsu
family was a muraji (group-chief). The Bambetsu ranked incomparably
below either the Kwobetsu or the Shimbetsu. It consisted of
foreigners who had immigrated from China or Korea and of aboriginal
tribes alien to the Yamato race. Members of the Ban class were
designated yakko (or yatsuko), a term signifying "subject" or
"servant."

THE UJI

In addition to the above three-class distribution, the whole Yamato
nation was divided into uji, or families. An uji founded by one of
the Tenson took precedence of all others, the next in rank being one
with an Imperial prince for ancestor, and after the latter came the
families of the Tenjin and Chigi. All that could not thus trace their
genealogy were attached to the various uji in a subordinate capacity.
It is not to be supposed that one of these families consisted simply
of a husband and wife, children, and servants. There were great uji
and small uji, the former comprising many of the latter, and the
small uji including several households. In fact, the small uji
(ko-uji) may be described as a congeries of from fifty to ninety
blood relations.

In the uji the principle of primogeniture was paramount. A successor
to the headship of an uji must be the eldest son of an eldest son.
Thus qualified, he became the master of the household, ruled the
whole family, and controlled its entire property. The chief of an
ordinary uji (uji no Kami) governed all the households constituting
it, and the chief of a great uji (o-uji no Kami) controlled all the
small uji of which it was composed. In addition to the members of a
family, each uji, small and great alike, had a number of dependants
(kakibe or tomobe). In colloquial language, an o-uji was the original
family; a ko-uji, a branch family. For example, if the Abe family be
considered, Abe-uji is a great uji (o-uji), while such names as Abe
no Shii, Abe no Osada, Abe no Mutsu, etc., designate small uji
(ko-uji). If a great uji was threatened with extinction through lack
of heir, the proper Kami of a small uji succeeded to the vacant
place. As for the kakibe or tomobe, they were spoken of as "so and so
of such and such an uji:" they had no uji of their own.

All complications of minor importance were dealt with by the Kami* of
the uji in which they occurred, consultation being held with the Kami
of the appropriate o-uji in great cases. Reference was not made to
the Imperial Court except in serious matters. On the other hand,
commands from the sovereign were conveyed through the head of an
o-uji, so that the chain of responsibility was well defined. An
interesting feature of this ancient organization was that nearly
every uji had a fixed occupation which was hereditary, the name of
the occupation being prefixed to that of the uji. Thus, the uji of
gem-polishers was designated Tamatsukuri-uji, and that of boat
builders, Fune-uji.

*An uji no Kami was called uji no choja in later ages.

There were also uji whose members, from generation to generation,
acted as governors of provinces (kuni no miyatsuko) or headmen of
districts (agata-nushi). In these cases the name of the region was
prefixed to the uji; as Munakata-uji, Izumo-uji, etc. Finally, there
were uji that carried designations given by the sovereign in
recognition of meritorious deeds. These designations took the form of
titles. Thus the captor of a crane, at sight of which a dumb prince
recovered his speech, was called Totori no Miyatsuko (the
bird-catching governor), and Nomi-no-Sukune, who devised the
substitution of clay figures (haniwa) for human sacrifices at
Imperial obsequies, was designated as Hashi no Omi (the Pottery
Grandee).

THE TOMOBE

The tomobe (attendants)--called also mure (the herd) or kakibe
(domestics)--constituted an important element of the people. They
were, in fact, serfs. We find them first spoken of in an active role
as being sent to the provinces to provide foodstuffs for the Imperial
household, and in that capacity they went by the name of provincial
Imibe. Perhaps the most intelligible description of them is that they
constituted the peasant and artisan class, and that they were
attached to the uji in subordinate positions for purposes of manual
labour. By degrees, when various kinds of productive operations came
to be engaged in as hereditary pursuits, the tomobe were grouped
according to the specialty of the uji to which they wore attached,
and we hear of Kanuchibe, or the corporation of blacksmiths; Yumibe,
or the corporation of bow-makers; Oribe, or the corporation of
weavers, and so on.

It is not to be supposed, however, that all the tomobe were thus
organized as special classes. Such was the case only when the
uji to which they belonged pursued some definite branch of
productive work. Moreover, there were corporations instituted
for purposes quite independent of industry; namely, to perpetuate
the memory of an Imperial or princely personage who had died without
issue or without attaining ancestral rank. Such tomobe were
collectively known as nashiro (namesakes) or koshiro (child
substitutes). For example, when Prince Itoshi, son of the Emperor
Suinin, died without leaving a son to perpetuate his name, the
Itoshibe was established for that purpose; and when Prince
Yamato-dake perished without ascending the throne, the Takebe was
formed to preserve the memory of his achievements. A be thus
organized on behalf of an Emperor had the title of toneri
(chamberlain) suffixed. Thus, for the Emperor Ohatsuse (known in
history as Yuryaku) the Hatsuse-be-no-toneri was formed; and for
the Emperor Shiraga (Seinei), the Shiraga-be-no-toneri. There can be
little doubt that underlying the creation of these nashiro was the
aim of extending the Imperial estates, as well as the number of
subjects over whom the control of the Throne could be exercised
without the intervention of an uji no Kami. For it is to be observed
that the sovereign himself was an o-uji no Kami, and all tomobe
created for nashiro purposes or to discharge some other functions
in connexion with the Court were attached to the Imperial uji.

TAMIBE

Another kind of be consisted of aliens who had been naturalized in
Japan or presented to the Japanese Throne by foreign potentates.
These were formed into tamibe (corporations of people). They became
directly dependent upon the Court, and they devoted themselves to
manufacturing articles for the use of the Imperial household.



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