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186 Many of the stories in the Kojiki and Nihon shoki are obviously space fillers that could be used at any time, but the style of storytelling and the content reveal the inner workings of a culture the Chinese knew only through a female ruler. It is as though the Chinese looked at the face of an old pocket watch and saw the hands go round, but the Japanese took off the back to see the turning wheels inside. The mix of what appears to be serious content and frivolous concern with unpredictable deities obscures the broader picture of the birth pains of the Yamato state. Involved here are the interfamily rivalries and the reduction of “royal” claimants; battles on several fronts to ally with, subdue, or eliminate lesser chieftains; stalemates in south Kyushu and east of Yamato; centralization of power through improvements in the economy; and the consolidation of Yamato religious practices in the Miwa rituals conducted by individual families. One must be prepared for ceaseless and tiresome variations, seemingly irrelevant incidents, and extramundane occurrences. Fact and fiction, real and the supernatural defy separation, but one cannot question the geographical enlargement of controlled areas and the organization of many kami of the tribes and local phenomena under one umbrella.A by-product was recognition by the Korean polities of Yamato’s growing strength and, in their quest for allies, slowly but surely drawing Japan into their conflicts on the peninsula. The writers of the Nihon shoki could not conceal the fact that a major change had taken place with the accession of Sujin. His predecessors are described in various ways as having acquired a consort and several concubines, procreated a few children , lived in a named palace, designated a crown prince, died on a given day, and been buried after a few months in a geographically identified tomb. But their reigns are without content, and their excessively long lives and the use of later devices and terminology, such as the sexagenary dating system and burial in misasagi, are enough to mark them as imaginary fillers. Jimmu is a generic name, perhaps good for the last of the Yayoi chieftains who moved into the Yamato region. Sujin is named the first ruler of the land in the Kojiki and the august founder of the country in the Nihon shoki, statements hard to accept by early Japanese scholars who believed in a much earlier start for national “history,” and early translators stumbled over the phraseology, not quite believing that the writers had meant to say it.1 CHAPTER 10 The Japanese View of the Wei Zhi Years From the “historical” view there is little helpful in the Kojiki and Nihon shoki that can be pinned to the last of the Yayoi period—covered in this literature by fictitious rulers—so, in an attempt to bracket Himiko’s era, I will block out the recorded activities of the reigns of Sujin, Suinin, Keikò, and Seimu with extractions from the accounts.Anything beyond Seimu leads into the time of Jingû, whose contributions have already been dealt with in the discussion of female shamans. The Nihon shoki–based chronology of pre–World War II starts Sujin’s reign in the year the equivalent of 97 BC.Driven by sheer desperation,the early writers gave Himiko’s dates to Jingû, despite the fact that the only thing they had in common was their oracular proclivities.The next step in looking for dates would have been to borrow from the great volume of Korean history the early writers were appropriating , but this possibility was precluded by the early-seventh-century adoption of the sexagenary calendar, a system that can be projected back in time indefinitely. Selective culling of information from Chinese and Japanese sources will, however ,bring out some workable dates within an acceptable time range.Efforts to make chronological adjustments started in the late nineteenth century.Called the shin-i (literally , “prediction latitude”) system, it was based on the belief that every major sixtyyear cycle witnessed significant changes.These should occur at the beginning of the cycle, the shin-yû (kanoto-tori) year, which, in this case, was calculated to be 601 (600 is the 0 year).2 There is, however, a traditional view that 604 was the initiatory year for the cycle.Aston calculated his notations from this year. If the Nihon shoki is correct , the Korean priest Kwal-leuk (J: Kanroku) came in 602 with all of his calendarmaking , astrology, and other books...


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