restricted access Chapter 3 The Initial Problem and Three Centuries of Compounding It
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

21 The Chinese historian described the location of Yamatai as beyond the koku of Toma to the south another ten days by water,one month by land,but if a naive traveler were to follow these directions going south—as we know the geography today—he may well have found himself floating aimlessly in the middle of the ocean. If, on the other hand,he had gone roughly the right distance in a more or less easterly but quite wrong direction, he would have gone to or through the Kinki region, the heart of which eventually cradled the Yamato state.Where was Yamatai in the geography of the day? The seeming inoffensiveness of the question is deceiving. Its sensitivity took on a specially charged political character in the Meiji and pre–WWII periods because of its implications for early Japanese history and the reemergence of the imperial system. By way of reference, the two dominant schools of thought put Yamatai either in the old Yamato area of Nara or,more loosely,the Kinki region—essentially, Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara—or in north Kyushu, referred to historically as Tsukushi. The Wei zhi text speaks of a reclusive female as paramount of the “queen’s country” (jo-ò koku). As mentioned above, the early historians of Japan identified this woman with Jingû, known in the old stories as the attacker of south Korea after the death of her husband.Anything but a recluse, Jingû later settled in Yamato where, by tradition, she is buried in a large tomb, the Kosashi Tomb, in the Saki group in the northwestern part of Nara city. But the recognition was immutable from the time the material was recorded in the eighth century:Yamato and Yamatai were one and the same. Himiko had to be Jingû through history because canonical literature said as much. In the Jingû story, actual paragraphs were quoted from the Wei zhi for the Himiko years of 239, 240, and 243, referring to two missions from Japan and one sent in return.1 Given this orthodox belief, it would be a slow process to disconnect the two and dislodge Himiko from the imperial line. Urabe Kanekata, from an ancient and distinguished family, compiler of the thirteenth-century Shaku nihongi, a collection of commentaries by his father, Kanebumi, on different aspects of the Nihon shoki, including genealogies of the emperors,2 is the first recorded writer since early times to speak of Yamatai, accepting, as all did, that Yamatai was Yamato and Himiko was Jingû.3 CHAPTER 3 The Initial Problem and Three Centuries of Compounding It Normally, the third and fourth decades of the twentieth century come to mind when one reviews political restrictions on speculative thought, but restraints already existed when Yamatai was first brought to national attention.The early, heady successes of the Tokugawa made them ambivalent toward the ineffectual imperial system , but it was necessary to control the position so as to command their own claim to legitimacy. This unspecified degree of latitude allowed Hayashi Razan (1583–1657), the leading Confucian adviser to the shogunate, the freedom to doubt the supernatural origin of the imperial family and to wonder if a member of Chinese royalty had not started it all.4 Once established, the Tokugawa set about containing criticism of the government , past and present.Any deviant view of history became suspect.Arai Hakuseki (1657–1725), briefly in the service of Ienobu (shogun from 1709 to 1712) and again with Ietsugu (until 1716) was the first Japanese scholar to make a serious study of the Chinese texts.Trained as he was in Confucian thought, his scholarly influence elevated the Wei zhi as genuine history and a fundamental source of information on early Japan. Moreover, his identification of places in north Kyushu with the first “kingdoms” encountered on the trip—Matsura, Ito, Na, and Fumi—was so convincing that they are still widely accepted today.This is not to say that the location of Na and Fumi are still not debated, but few better suggestions have been heard. Arai did not question the Himiko-Jingû equation, but he was wary of the pitfalls and wondered about the value of investigating the entire problem in the name of national harmony, recalling that a fourteenth-century scholar had received severe punishment from the government because his commentary on the Nihon shoki raised some doubts regarding the ideal imperial sequence.5 Himiko, a Southern Chieftain The politics of the problem were fully exposed in the...