Kakuta Haruo---Decoding Japan---

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Location: Sakai, Osaka, Japan

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Landing of Drifted Aliens Entered in Nihon Shoki

     By the end of ancient Japan, it became common knowledge that the safest way to get to Kyoto from foreign countries was, besides the piracy there, to sail through the Seto Inland Sea along the seashores.  But there must have been countless trials and errors through the primitive age and the ancient times in Japan to find the safest way.  The errors could have included, intentionally or unintentionally, those from the south, along the Black Current.

     Taiwan, for example, is about 1800 kilometers away from Kumano, the southernmost area of the mainland of Japan near Kyoto.  The Black Current runs at a speed of about 3 meters per second, that is, about 250 kilometers per day.  If you can make perfectly efficient use of the current, you can reach Kumano from Taiwan in a week or so.  Only if you have enough water, you can get there alive.  Enough food?  That might be dispensable.

     We can find 2 entries of Nihon Shoki, which recorded 2 cases of aliens washed ashore.  They must have been lucky enough, or all too lucky, to reach the mainland of Japan.  If you had been captured in the middle of the main stream of the Black Current, you had had good chance to drifted across the Pacific Ocean to America, like some boats were after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, maybe with your skeletons aboard.  if you had been released to the counter-currents of the Black Current, you might have been drifted southward into the midst of the open ocean only with too few chances to find a tiny island there.  Even if you had been lucky enough to be blown north toward the mainland of Japan, you still had a good chance to be slapped onto a rocky shore.  It is not odd, accordingly, that we can only find 2 written records of aliens washed ashore alive during ancient Japan.

      "In April, Summer, 654, 2 men and 2 women from Dvaravati, and 1 woman from Shravasti were blown off and washed ashore in Hyuga Province."

     "On July 3, Autumn, 657, 2 men and 4 women from Dvaravati reached Tshukushi Province, saying they had first washed ashore on Amami Island.  Stage horses were provided to have them come to the capital."

     "April" in the lunar calendar was around May, and "July 3, 657" was August 20, 657.  Dvarati was a kingdom in ancient Thailand, and Shravasti was a city in ancient India.

     It is still controversial whether those 2 groups of aliens belonged to one convoy or to 2 different convoys.  In either case, it is almost certain that they had been navigating somewhere around the Philippines or Taiwan, might have been blown east, had been washed north by the Black Current, had been blown farther north off the current, and had been washed either on Amami island or in Hyuga Province.

     You might find "April" (around May) and "Summer" contradictory to each other.  There might have been some error or manipulation.


     While volumes 19, 20, 21 and 22 recorded 217 months in total, and had 4 leap months, 1.8%; volumes 23, 24, 25, and 26 recorded 145 months in total, and had no leap month, 0%.  After the death of Prince Shotoku (574-622), which occured during the months recorded in volume 22, the central government entered a turbulent period.  The secretariat might have been too busy, or too much troubled, to date leap months correctly.  Some scholars even argue that those 4 volumes could have been manipulated by the later rulers to rationalise their sovereignity.  In 645, Emperor Tenji restored the central government.  Volumes 27, 28, 29, and 30 recorded 352 months in total, and had 8 leap months, 2.3%.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Before the Kumano Sea Forces

     Before concluding the history of Japanese pirates by describing how Toyotomi Hideyoshi reorganized all the pirates and sea forces along and around the Japanese Archipelago into his allied sea forces, I realized I should refer to Kumano Pirates or Kumano Sea Forces, the most mysterious portion of Japanese pirates.

     Even during the Warring States Period in Japan, the sea forces under the direct control of the Mori Clan, the largest and strongest warlord along the Seto Inland Sea, were no match even against Awa Sea Forces or Awa Pirates, much less against Murakami Pirates.  Both Murakami and Awa Pirates were said to have developed under the strong influence of Kumano Pirates.  Kumano Pirates were said to have commanded the Seto Inland Sea before the written history of Japanese piracy.  Kumano Pirates exported their personnels even to Eastern Provinces in the Warring States Period.
First, I’m going to talk about the history of Kumano Pirates in historical documents, which does not reveal their mysterious influence nor their strength, though.
   
     The Japanese Archipelago has 34,600 kilometers of shoreline, which is shorter than America’s 56,700 kilometers but longer than Brazil’s 5,760 kilometers.  The islands are washed by the Black and Tsushima Currents from the south and by the Kuril Current from the north.

     The Black Current starts off Philippines, flows northward between the Formosa Island and the Ryukyu Islands, and, turning northeastward,  passes between the Ryukyu Islands and the Kyushu Island toward the south coasts of the Shikoku and Honshu Islands, transporting warm, tropical water.  The current brings not only tropical water but also fish, corals, seeds of tropical plants such as coconuts, blocks of dead aromatic trees, and even culturally, sometimes even militarily, advanced alien people.

     Let me show 2 examples of introduced exotic people.

     Ugaya (?-?), whose ancestors had come from somewhere else which got called Takamagahara later, was ruling Hyuga Province in the eastern coast of Kyushu Island.  He had been abandoned by his mother in his infancy, and raised by his aunt, his mother’s younger sister.  When he came of age, he married the aunt, and had 4 sons, Itsue, Inahi, Mikenu, and Sano.

     Inahi drowned himself in the sea to see his mother.  Mikenu left eastward, that is, to the sea, for the land of the dead.  Itsuse left northward with his youngest brother, Sano.  The reason for the family breakdown is unknown and unknowable now.

     Itsuse first arrived ash Usa in Buzen Province, and stayed at another place int the province for a year.  He moved on eastward along the Seto Inland sea to Aki Province, and stayed there for 7 years.  And then to Kibi Province, and stayed there for 3 to 8 years.  He finally reached the eastern end of the Seto Inland sea only to get face by Nagasune, who was hostile agains him.  Itsuse was shot, flew, got to O Port in Ki Province, and died there.  He was buried in Mt. Kama near the port.

     Itsuse’s younger brother, Sano, continued their eastward quest, and arrived at Kumano in the province.  Tempted by a local tribe, who had the token of a crow with 3 legs, he went upstream along Totsu river, crossed Yoshino River, beat his way through the bush, and reached Uda in Yamato Province.

     The 3-legged-crow tribe helped Sano rival other local tribes there, and successfully split one tribe.  Sano’s men committed an underhanded murder of another local tribe.  Sano also maneuvered pork-barrel politics against other tribes, and established his ruling in Iware.  He was later called Iware, related to his domain name.  Until the end of the World War II, the series of events was widely believed in Japan to have taken place more than 2 millennia before.

     Sano’s descendants eventually unified Yamato Province.  They even further continued the brothers’ eastward quest.  After Kumano, they reached Ise.  They built their advanced base at the southern end of the Ise Plains, Ise Shrine.  Next, they invaded Nobi Plains, and built another advanced base at the mouth of a river in Owari Prefecture, Atsuta Shrine.  They moved further east, got to an inland sea at the eastern end of the Kanto Plains, and built another advanced base at the southern shore of the sea, Katori Shrine.  Across the inland sea, at the northern shore, they also prepared another advanced logistics base, Kashima Shrine, to invade Northern Japan.  Far later, Sano, or Iware, was honorably called with a Chinese-character name, Jinmu.

     2 districts in Kumano have another type of legend.  The both districts accepted Chinese boat people.  The refugees brought crop farming, fishing, whaling, shipbuilding, paper making, civil engineering, pottery, and medicine there.  That is, they brought civilization.  If the Chinese boat people were some of those who were led by Xu Fu (?278B.C.-?208B.C.) as is widely believed in 11 prefectures in Japan to have happened, the series of incidents occurred in 210s BC, more than 2 millennia ago.

     The widely-known written records of the Black Current can date back to the 18th century.

     During the Edo Period, with Pax Tokugawa established, the economy grew slowly but almost steadily.  The cultural level of the ordinary people was getting higher.  Even commoners could enjoy traveling.  The enthusiasm coupled with the higher literacy rate of commonalty brought the publication of guidebooks and travel essays flourishing.  We can find a couple of comments on the Black Current there.

     Furukawa Shoken (1726-1807) was a geographer in the latter half of the Edo Period.  He compiled topographies based on his own observation, and also integrated information based on hearsay into memorandums.  “The Memorandum of Hachijo” was a latter case, and was about the Izu Islands including Hachijo Island.  The memorandum was published in 1794, and he mentioned the Black Current in it.

     “The Black Current looks as if an ink stone were rubbed on the surface of the sea.  As hundreds of swirls are mysteriously flowing past, whoever sees the current feels just dazzled.”

     Tachibana Nankei (1753-1805) was a doctor of Chinese medicine in Kyoto, and made rounds of visits to various parts of Japan intermittently from 1782 to 1788.  He published travel essays from 1795 to 1798, which would be collectively called “Journey to the East and to the West” later.  In one of the essays, he recorded a scratch of hearsay information on the Black Current.

     “They say that about 5.5 hundred kilometers off the Izu Peninsula, there are desert islands in the south.  The sea around the islands is called the Black Current.  The current is tens of kilometers wide, and runs like a large river, raging and rolling.

     “Furthermore, if you sail out southeast off Awa and Kazusa Provinces too far, you are washed away east and shall never come back, as the current turns eastward away from our islands.”


     The exploration of older records of the current is yet to be done. 

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Toyotomi Hideyoshi—The Third Pirate King of Japan (0-15)

     In 1569, Otomo Yoshishige (1530-1587) in Northern Kyushu, Uragami Munekage (?-?) in Bizen Province, and Amago Katsuhisa (1553-1578) in Izumo and Oki Provinces formed the military besiegement against the Mori Clan.  In February, 1571, Murakami Takeyoshi (1533-1604) and Shima Yoshitoshi (?-1602) went over to the besiegement.  Yoshishige might have lured Murakami Pirates with some rights and interests in Northern Kyushu.  In April, Kobayakawa Takakage (1533-1597) quickly occupied (took back?) Motobuto Castle.  In May, without the support from Murakami Pirates, Takakage suffered a crushing defeat against Ukita Naoie (1529-1582), a vassal of the Uragami Clan, who enjoyed the support form the Awa Sea Forces.  The castle fell into the hands of Nose Yoriyoshi (?-?), a vassal of Ukita Naoie.  This defeat demonstrated that the Tada-no-umi Sea Guards under the command of Takakage was no match for the Awa Sea Forces on their own.  The development of the battle also implied that Murakami Pirates didn’t support either side.  The Mori Clan must have realized the market value of the pirates at the cost of the rout.

     In 1574, Ukita Naoie betrayed Uragami Munekage, and went over to the Mori Clan.  Murakami Takeyoshi was also shifting from the besiegement to the Mori Clan.  In 1576,
Murakami Pirates helped the Mori Clan break the blockage and send military provisions to Ishiyama Hongan-ji Temple, which was under siege by Oda Nobunaga (1534-1582).


     Just an aside, in 1579, Ukita Naoie went over from the Mori Clan to Oda Nobunaga.  In 1582, the Mori samurais and the Ukita samurais clashed against each other in Kojima.  The Ukita  samurais were heavily beaten, and held Hachihama Castle and waited for reinforcements by Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537-1598), a vassal of Nobunaga.  The fate of Motobuto Castle was not clear.  The castle, which was the witness to countless betrays, certainly existed until 1580.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Toyotomi Hideyoshi—The Third Pirate King of Japan (0-14)

     We can find a good instance of pirates’ maneuvering behavior in the tug-of-wars over Motobuto Castle.  The castle was located in Honjo, Kojima County, Bizen Province.  Kojima used to be an island in ancient times.  The island was between Bizen Province in the mainland Japan and Sanuki Province in Shikoku Island.  It was also between Bizen and Bicchu Provinces and was an important water transportation center in the Eastern Seto Inland Sea.  Although Kojima had become a peninsula with a sandbar by sometime in medieval times, the strategic importance of Motobuto Castle kept unchanging.

     Although Kojima was in Bizen Province, it was under the hegemony of the Hosokawa Clan, which produced provincial guardian samurais in Sanuki and Awa Provinces in Shikoku Island.  The castle itself and its surrounding domain were managed by the Kozai Family.


     In 1567, the Mori Clan and No-shima Murakami Pirates invaded Motobuto Castle.  Shima Yoshitoshi (?-1602), a member of the pirates, killed Kozai Matagoro (?-1567) in the battle, and was appointed to be the lord of the castle.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Toyotomi Hideyoshi—The Third Pirate King of Japan (0-13)

     Nomi Munekatsu (1527-1592), a vassal of Kobayakawa Takakage (1533-1597), had been trying to lure Murakami Michiyasu (1519-1567), the head of Kuru-shima Murakami Family, into Mori’s side.  On the 28th, Mori Motonari (1497-1571) got scared that Miya-no-o Castle would fall to Sue Harukata(1521-1555), and sent out his forces from Kusatsu Port.  On the very day, as if they had been timing the moment, Kuru-shima Murakami Pirates appeared with a couple of hundreds of fighting boats.  On the 29th, Mori’s landed Itsuki-shima Island.  On the 30th, on the last day of the month, the two clashed against each other.  Murakami Pirates set fire to many of Harukata’s boats, and cut off land samurais’ retreat.  At that moment, supposedly 8000 out of 20000 of Harukata’s forces were on the island.  On October the 1st, Harukata was maneuvered into getting isolated from his still active and fighting forces, and was cornered into committing suicide, with his head cut, buried, and hidden somewhere in the island all by only 3 out of 8000 vassals left around him, Ikaga Fusaaki (?-1555), Kakinami Takamasa (?-1555), and Yamazaki Takakata (?-1555).  After the concealment of their lord’s head, the three, as the matter of course, killed themselves with their own swords.  3000 of Harukata’s had been captured.  Unknowingly or knowingly that Harukata had died, his last force led by Hironaka Takasuke (?-1555) was finally destroyed 2 days later, on the 3rd day of October.  In total, 4700 of Harukata’s were killed on the holly island where people had never been allowed even to reside. 


     We should notice that the pirates did not make the-last-moment entrance of the hero like Superman.  They just raised their market price, as was often the case.  Unlike the Kawa-no-uchi and Tada-no-umi Sea Guards, the Mori Clan always had to try to lure Murakami Pirates.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Toyotomi Hideyoshi—The Third Pirate King of Japan (0-12)

     The most remarkable contribution Nomi Munekatsu (1527-1592) made to the Mori Clan’s domination over the West Seto Inland Sea was that he mediated between the clan and Murakami Pirates.  Murakami Pirates were composed of In-no-shima Murakami Family, No-shima Murakami Family, and Kuru-shima Murakami Family from North to South.  Each family’s headquarters was based in In-no-shima Island, No-shima Island, and Kuru-shima Island respectively.  Munekatsu’s daughter was married to Murakami Yoshisuke (?-1596), who was the 7th head of In-no-shima Murakami Family.  Munekatsu made good use of the relationship by the marriage.

     Mori Motonari (1497-1571) and Sue Harukata (1521-1555), who had usurped the domain of the Ouchi Clan, clashed against each other around Itsuku-shima Island in 1555 over the hegemony in the Western Chugoku District.  Kuru-shima Murakami Family had been wavering between the 2 clans just until the battle broke out.

     Itsuku-shima Island was a holly island, and thus used not to be inhabitable.  It was, however, the Warring States Period, and wars were always shameless.


     In May, 1554, Motonari built Miya-no-o Castle at the north-east corner of Itsuku-shima Island, the nearest spot in the island from his domain.  After fighting some preludes on the mainland, Harukata sent out his large army of 20000 to Itsuku-shima Island on September the 21st, 1555, landed on the island on the 22nd, and pitched his main camp at To-no-oka, from where he could looked down at Miya-no-o Castle.  He started attacking the castle on the 23rd, and had cut the source of the water supply and had filled in the outer moats of the castle by the 27th.  On the very 27th, Motonari was still writing to Kobayakawa Takakage (1533-1597), his third son, grumbling whether Kuru-shima Murakami Pirates were going to support his clan or not.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Toyotomi Hideyoshi—The Third Pirate King of Japan (0-11)

     Kobayakawa Hirohira (1416-1473), the 10th head of the family, had 2 sons.  The elder, Takahira (1452-1499), became the 11th head of the family, and the younger, Korekage (?-?), started Nomi Family.  The sea area the family based in had been called Nomi-no-ura (Nomi Inlet).  In 1129, Taira Tadamori (1096-1153) brought the area under his control and called it Tada-no-umi (Tada Sea).  Korekage picked up the older name for his family name.  In this respect, the Nomi family was older than the Ura Family.


     Nomi Masakatsu (?-?) was adopted to the Ura Family, and his son, Munekatsu (1527-1592), succeeded to the headship of the Ura Family, although he preferred to be called Nomi Munekatsu.  Munekatsu built a castle on the west hill of the inlet.  The building was in the shape of “kagi” (the Japanese word for “key”), and the castle was called Kagi Castle.  Munekatsu commanded the Tada-no-umi Sea Guards there.