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Temples and Tribute

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Joshua Badgley and Sengoku Daimyo에서 제공하는 콘텐츠입니다. 에피소드, 그래픽, 팟캐스트 설명을 포함한 모든 팟캐스트 콘텐츠는 Joshua Badgley and Sengoku Daimyo 또는 해당 팟캐스트 플랫폼 파트너가 직접 업로드하고 제공합니다. 누군가가 귀하의 허락 없이 귀하의 저작물을 사용하고 있다고 생각되는 경우 여기에 설명된 절차를 따르실 수 있습니다 https://ko.player.fm/legal.

Here we are, almost at the end of the reign of Kashikiya Hime, with a couple of items, today. First is the reform going on with Buddhism, and, in particular, the state's involvement in selecting a "Head" of Buddhism to make sure that the religion is accountable to the State. Then there are the dealings with the growing power of Silla, amidst the backdrop of a change on the continent from the Sui to the Tang dynasty.

For more, check out our podcast website: https://sengokudaimyo.com/podcast/episode-102

Rough Transcript

Welcome to Sengoku Daimyo’s Chronicles of Japan. My name is Joshua, and this is episode 102: Temples and Tribute

Iwakane and Kuranoshita stood on the deck of their ship, looking out over the waves and back towards their Yamato home. Travel across the sea was always risky, but it was worth it. Locals at the port on the southern tip of the peninsula were loading all sorts of goods into the hold of their ships, and when the two envoys returned home, they could only imagine how they would be greeted as heroes. It had been a long journey, but they’d made it across the strait and upheld the interests of the Yamato court, and now they had a deal that could bring some measure of peace. Not bad for a treacherous trek across the sea. Next they just had to wait for fair winds and they could start the journey back to the archipelago.

Looking out at the ocean, hoping to see some signs of the winds turning back from whence they came, it was then that they spied them—small dots that seemed to disappear and reappear on the horizon. First just a handful, and then more and more. As they came more into focus, their hearts no doubt sank. It was an armada, fitted for war, and it was headed their way.

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As we finish up the reign of Kashikiya Hime, aka Suiko Tenno, I want to deal with several events from about 614 to the year 624. During this decade a lot happened. Last episode we dealt with some of the smaller things, but two major things from this period were the further development of the Buddhist clergy—including bringing the institution under state control—and the reported invasions of Silla. I say “reported”, because only the Japanese sources talk about them, but we’ll talk about just why that might be. Meanwhile, there were plenty of changes happening as the Sui dynasty transitioned into the Tang dynasty, and more.

We’re actually going to start with the changes to the Buddhist clergy. This actually happened some time later than the rest of our narrative, but it makes sense to start here and finish up some of the things happening in Yamato, before expanding our view to the wider world.

As we’ve seen, Buddhism officially arrived in Yamato by 538 according to our earliest record, though possibly it had been around in some form in the immigrant communities before then. By the start of the 7th century, Buddhist temples were being built by some of the noble families of the court, including Soga no Umako, Prince Umayado, and others. Originally, the Buddha was worshipped much as any other kami, but as nuns and monks were sent abroad to learn more about the religion, and as foreign monks were consulted on how things should be, they began to develop their own sangha, their own community, in the archipelago. Those with interest or who took vows to enter the religion studied the sutras and other texts that had been brought over, and with the building of full-scale, continental style temples there would have been little doubt that this was something new and different.

The tenets of Buddhism were those of non-materialism. Adherents were supposed to work on loosening the bonds that kept them tethered to this mortal plane, including concepts of the self. Monks were expected to be the ultimate examples of these teachings, especially seeing as how they dedicated themselves to learning the Buddhist Law. Above all, Buddhist monks were expected to rise above base emotions such as anger, hatred, and lust.

However, let’s remember that these Buddhsit monks were only human, and it is also unclear how many had joined the monkhood entirely of their own volition. For instance, back in 614, when Soga no Umako fell ill, we are told that a thousand persons entered religion for his sake. Now besides the fact that the number of individuals is likely way off base—at most we see maybe 1400 monks and nuns across all of the temples only nine years later—this was not an uncommon thing to see in records of the time. In Baekje, we similarly see large numbers of people taking orders on the behalf of a monarch or other person of importance. The implication is that by having people enter religion—to take orders as a monk or nun—on your behalf would accrue to that person some measure of good karma. This was seen as particularly important for the elite because they, of course, couldn’t just become monks themselves—after all, if they did, who would be left to rule the country? And so, they would have people do it for them, kind of like a version of “karma offsets”, where you get to continue to enjoy all the benefits of your worldly position by offsetting it with other people’s devotion to religion.

But one has to wonder how many people were just waiting around for some special royal or noble person to need some karma before taking orders. After all, if someone was truly interested in taking orders, no doubt they could find a monastery and ask to join. More likely, these were individuals who were impressed -slash- strongly encouraged to take orders on behalf of someone else. This isn’t to say that there were no true converts, nor that those who took orders in such a way never came to appreciate the Buddha’s teachings. However, it does, perhaps, make it a little more understandable when we learn that in 623 there was a major scandal in the Buddhist sangha when an ordained Buddhist monk apparently took an axe and struck his paternal grandfather.

Murder was, of course, generally frowned upon—unless, of course, you were a member of the aristocracy and able to convict the person of something like rebelling against the court. However, it was especially frowned upon by Buddhist monks, as it really didn’t go well with the whole vibe that the Buddhist religion was trying to establish in the archipelago. Anyone who entered Buddhism was supposed to be devoting themselves to the Three Treasures, not geriatricide.

And we don’t know why this monk did it, either. Maybe he just chanted too many sutras and finally snapped, or maybe his paternal grandfather did something heinous and he thought it was his only solution. Either way, this event sparked a major investigation of the Buddhist religion as a whole. The court assembled all of the various monks and nuns and investigated just what had been going on in those temples, anyway. Where they found wrong-doing, the courts decided to issue punishments.

And apparently they found quite a bit of wrong-doing. It isn’t clear exactly what was going on, but there was enough that the Baekje monk Kanroku, or Gwalleuk in modern Korean, issued a memorial to the throne before the punishments were carried out. In his memorial he detailed the history of Buddhism: how it came from the West to the Han, and then 300 years after that to Baekje, and then how it had been transmitted to Yamato only 100 years after that—less than a century ago, really. He noted how young Buddhism was in Yamato, and how the monks and nuns hadn’t fully learned the Teachings of the Buddha. As such, he begged for leniency for all of the monks other than the man who had killed his own grandfather—that was a punishment even Kanroku could not argue against.

By the way, if the name Kanroku is familiar, we talked about him back in episode 94. He was said to have been one of the teachers of Shotoku Taishi, and when he first arrived in Yamato we are told that he brought numerous books on various sciences with him, helping to kickstart a number of studies in Yamato. He was clearly well respected by the court.

And so the court heard this petition, and Kashikiya Hime granted Kanroku’s request for leniency. The monks and nuns were spared, except for the one, but that was not the end of the court’s involvement. Ten days later, they issued another ruling. The court set up two official positions: The Soujou and the Soudzu. These two positions were created to oversee the monks and nuns. Kanroku was made Soujou, or High Priest, and Kurabe no Tokuseki was appointed as Soudzu. We are also told of another position, possibly one that already existed, as a member of the Adzumi no Muraji family was appointed as Houzu, the Head of the Law.

These positions would help tie the practice of Buddhism to the court. The temples were no longer simply autonomous units that could operate on their own. Neither were they solely bound to the wealthy families that patronized them and helped pay for their upkeep. The court positions provided a means of state accountability and oversight concerning the activities of Buddhism in the country. After all, Buddhism, at this time, was largely seen as serving the state and the state elites. While Buddhist doctrine might encourage the salvation of all sentient beings, to many of those sponsoring and setting up these temples, it was still a very transactional relationship. The power of Buddhism was not simply in the siren’s call of possibly throwing off the shackles of the material world, but also in the belief that Buddhist gods and Boddhisatvas could actively provide protection—both tangible and intangible—to the state and to the members of the court. It is unlikely that farmers, living in their pit houses and working in the rice paddies, were thinking so much about going to the temple and what the Buddhist Law meant for them. The nature of religion at the time was still one where the elites controlled the mysteries, and thus used that to justify their rarified positions.

The idea of the position of High Priest may have been transmitted from the Buddhist traditions of the Yangzi river region and the southern courts. Originally, in Yamato, it seems to have been intended as the chief priest of the country, as there was only one official sect of Buddhism. This would change in later years as the position—and the Buddhist temples’ relationship with the government—changed over time.

Kanroku’s time in this position seems to have been limited. Less than a year later, in the first month of 624, a new priest arrived from Goguryeo, named Ekan, or Hyegwan in modern Korean, and he was made Sojo, or high priest. Does this mean that Kanroku retired from the position? Or perhaps he passed away. Unfortunately, we aren’t quite sure.

Tradition holds that both Kanroku and his successor, Ekan, both were installed at Houkouji, aka Gangouji or Asukadera, the temple of Soga no Umako, demonstrating the power and influence that Soga no Umako’s temple had at the time. Ekan is also said to have been the founding patriarch of the Japanese Sanron school of Buddhism. The Sanron sect comes from the Sanlun school of the mainland, also known as East Asian Madhyamaka, and was based on three texts—the “Sanron”—said to have been translated by Kumarajiva in the 4th and early 5th centuries.

That both of these High Priests were installed at Houkouji definitely says something at the time. It is possible that their dominion was simply over Houkouji, but an earlier entry suggests that was not the case, as in the ninth month of 623, some five months after the whole axe-monk incident, the Court ordered an inspection of temples of monks and nuns. We are told that they made an accurate record of the circumstances of the building of the temples, and also the circumstances under which the various ordained individuals had embraced—forcefully or otherwise—the Buddhist religion. They recorded information down to the year, month, and day that they took orders. Based on that record we are told that there were forty-six temples in 623, and 815 monks and 569 nuns, for a total of one thousand three hundred and eighty five persons altogether. That doesn’t count the individuals working the rice land and otherwise helping provide for the upkeep of the temples themselves.

As far as I’m aware, we don’t have this actual record of the temple inspection, other than its summary here in the Nihon Shoki, but assuming it is true, it tells us some rather incredible things. First, if we assume that Asukadera and Shitennouji were really the first two permanent temples to be built in Yamato, then all of this- the building of 46 temples, and the ordination of so many people- happened in the span of about thirty years. That’s an average of three temples being built every two years, and it probably wasn’t that steady a pace. It is entirely possible, of course, that many of the temples mentioned were still under construction. After all, we saw how long it took to build Houkouji temple, or Asukadera, which we discussed back in episode 97. Regardless, it goes back to what we mentioned about the temple building boom that took off, which also removed much of the labor force that would have otherwise been put to work building things like massive kofun.

Also, assuming an even distribution, we are looking at an average of thirty monks or nuns per temple. It was likely not quite so even, and with temples like Asukadera, or even Toyouradera, having many more monks and nuns given their importance. Furthermore, when Soga no Umako grew ill and supposedly had a thousand persons enter religion—which, as we’ve mentioned, likely wasn’t quite that many—I suspect that many of those would have gone to Soga temples, such as Houkouji.

By the way, on that one thousand people: I would note that it is possible that some people only entered Buddhist orders temporarily, for a time, and that is why the numbers aren’t larger. Still, I think that Occam’s razor suggests the simpler answer is that the numbers were simply exaggerated for effect by the Chroniclers, assuming that it even happened in the first place.

So that was the story of Yamato expanding its state administration over the spiritual realm. However, there was plenty of expansion they were doing in the physical realm as well. They had expanded control to the island of Tsukushi, modern Kyushu, and were even dealing with the inhabitants of Yakushima, but they knew there was a much larger world out there.

And so we see that in 613, two new ambassadors were sent to the Sui court. They were Inugami no Kimi no Mitasuki and Yatabe no Miyatsuko. We don’t know much about the embassy that went though we know that they came back through Baekje the following year, bringing a Baekje envoy with them, because why not? Baekje records talk about the Wa—that is the people of the Japanese archipelago—traversing their country on their way to the Sui court at various times, so this is all within the realm of what has been pretty standard, so far.

The following year, we see that Silla sent a Buddha image to the Yamato court. As per usual, our ever so faithful Chroniclers note that this is an item of “tribute” from Silla, as though they were some kind of vassal state of Yamato. Which brings me to a point I’ve made before and I’ll probably make again: All history is political. The writing of history is an inherently political act, in that it attempts to capture some form of truth as the authors of history believe it to be. What they choose to include—and what they choose to ignore—is all a choice.

This should not be confused with facts: what actually happened and was observed. But even the facts of the past are all experienced through human senses and interpreted by human brains. We can often only see them through what others have written or created, and what physical evidence remains, today, whether that is archaeological evidence, or even things like DNA or linguistic clues, passed down through the generations.

Keep this in mind the next time you hear someone talk about “historical revisionism”. The stories we tell ourselves change as we better understand the world and the past from which we came. To get upset about people providing a new vision of that past assumes that our previous understanding was somehow complete. We might not agree with someone’s take on it, but as long as we can agree on the facts, it isn’t as if they are changing what actually happened, just providing a different understanding. This of course gets much more difficult and convoluted when we realize that what we think of as facts might instead be suppositions, inferred from how we believe the world works.

I mention this because looking across our various records we can see just how incomplete our understanding is of this time in Silla-Yamato relations. We have to “pick sides” as it were, if we want to tell a story, or we could just throw our hands up in the air and say “who knows?”So let’s talk about just what is missing from both the Nihon Shoki and the Samguk Sagi, two of our better historical sources from this time. Clearly the Nihon Shoki has a pro-Yamato and pro-royal lineage bias, such that it is going to elevate the status of Yamato and the sovereign, almost completely ignoring any other powerful polities that may have once existed in the archipelago and placing Yamato on equal footing with the Sui dynasty, and above the countries of Silla and their ally, Baekje. It is not exactly nuanced in its depiction.

On the other side we have the Samguk Sagi. Here we have a huge period in the 6th and 7th centuries with little to no mention of Wa or the Japanese archipelago. This is especially true in the Silla annals, which only mention their interactions with Baekje, for the most part, and leave talk of Wa to the earlier years, before Silla grew into one of the three most powerful kingdoms on the peninsula. Where we do find mention is in the Baekje annals, but even that is often sparse.

This is likely for several reasons. First off is the fact that the Samguk Sagi was written in the 12th century, over four hundred years after the Nihon Shoki was published. This was the Goryeo period on the Korean peninsula, and so one might expect to see a greater focus on the former Goryeo, known to us as Goguryeo. However, its author was Kim Busik, and the Kim family traced their roots to the royal lineage of Silla. So he likely was plenty incentivized to prop up the Silla kingdom.

Furthermore, it seems that the Samguk Sagi was pulled together from a variety of sources, often with second or thirdhand accounts. For instance, they writers appear to have used Sui and Tang records to reconstruct what happened at various periods, especially in Baekje. The “Record of Baekje” that the Nihon Shoki often cites appears to have no longer been extant for Kim Busik to peruse. And so it is hard to tell what was left out for political reasons and what simply wasn’t mentioned at all.

However, there is a note in the late 7th century, where the Silla kingdom complains about the constant raids and invasions by the Wa—raids and invasions that are otherwise not mentioned—that makes me think that perhaps there is something more to the records of Yamato and Baekje then might first appear. It would be easy, perhaps, to dismiss what we see in the Nihon Shoki, but we are now only a century from when it was compiled. So while the Chroniclers may have been biased in the way they recorded things, there is likely something there, even if they give themselves a larger role in the production.

Alright, so enough caveats: What does the Nihon Shoki have to say about all of this?

We previously talked about the relationship between Yamato and the continent in Episodes 94 and 96, including prior attempts by Yamato to re-establish Nimna, which had been controlled by Silla since at least the 6th century, and Yamato’s early contact with the Sui court. And as mentioned above Inugami no Mitasuki and Yatabe were sent back from the Sui, returning with an envoy from Baekje in 615. Then, in 616, a year after that, Silla sent a Buddha image as tribute. In typical pro-Buddhist fashion, it is said that the image sent out rays of light and worked miracles. Aston claims this was the gold image eventually installed at Houkouji—aka Asukadera.

There is a bit of a respite in the record, like a show that took a season off during the pandemic. We don’t really have much mention of Silla or Baekje for about four to five years, just as it looked like we were starting to get regular communication. That isn’t to say the record is entirely blank, we just don’t have records of regular contact with Silla and Baekje. There is one record, which Aston dates to 618, though that may be a year off based on other sources, where a Goguryeo envoy arrives with gifts: flutes, cross-bows, and even catapults, we are told, 10 in all. They also brought a camel, which must have been quite the sight, though I wonder how well it was doing after that voyage. Finally, they brought some local products and two captives that had been taken during fighting with the Sui.

This mention of Goguryeo fighting the Sui dynasty is rather significant, and it is part of the reason that many believe the Sui dynasty would fall in or around that same year. Besides spending money on all sorts of public works projects—things like the Grand Canal, that would definitely be a wonder, but was also insanely expensive—the Sui dynasty was also fighting campaigns on their northern and southern borders, as well as facing raids by the Tujue, a group of eastern Turkic people. The Sui had been pushing against Goguryeo, with whom they shared a border, and for the most part, Goguryeo had been pushing back. At the same time, Goguryeo had some ambitious neighbors of their own on the peninsula—their sometime ally Silla being chief among them—so they had to also ensure that they weren’t attacked from the rear as they were marshaling troops against the Sui.

Fortunately for them, the Sui dynasty would eventually collapse, being replaced by the Tang. Unfortunately, the Tang dynasty was not necessarily going to give up the push that the Sui had started.

We’ll probably need to do an entire episode on the Tang dynasty and Tang culture, as it would have a huge impact on all of East Asian culture, but for now, that can wait. The death of the last Sui emperor set up a power struggle on the continent. Li Yuan, Duke of Tang, took advantage of this and had himself proclaimed as the new Tang emperor, but he wasn’t the only one contending for power. Though he ruled from the capital at Chang’an, modern Xi’an, there were plenty of others trying to set themselves up as warlords and emperors in their own right, and Li Yuan would spend the entirety of his reign trying to quell these various threats and re-unify the empire under his rule. Needless to say, there was a lot going on over there.

As that was happening, around 621, Silla sent an ambassador to Yamato named, at least in Aston’s translation, Imime, with the rank of “Nama”—a rank in the lower half of the Silla system. Imime brought a diplomatic gift—that is to say “tribute” in the words of the Nihon Shoki—and a memorial for the Yamato court. Apparently they hadn’t brought memorials before, and this was the first time. Memorials here are formal letters, typically referring to the type of letter from a subordinate to a superior. I doubt that Silla was actually making themselves out to be a vassal to Yamato any more than Baekje, who is recorded as submitting numerous memorials, did the same. However, the way diplomacy works, it would be understandable if the letter to a foreign ruler was presented in a flattering light. Also, let’s not forget that it was entirely possible that there was a bit of interpretation going on from one language, into the diplomatic language of Sinitic characters, and then into the native language of the court.

So I think we can say that this is when Silla and Yamato started formal, written diplomatic correspondence.

These exchanges continued the following year. Silla sent more envoys, and this time they brought a golden Buddha image, a golden pagoda, relics, and a large Buddhist baptismal flag, along with twelve smaller ones. This was the Buddha image placed in the Hata temple at Kadono—which is to say, Hachiwoka Temple, known today as Kouryuuji, in modern Kyouto. Other relics went to Shitennouji. In addition, they brought the monks Esai and Ekou, as well as the physicians Ejitsu and Fukuin, bringing continental or “Tang” learning. AT the same time, the envoys suggested that Yamato should send for the students that they had sent abroad to the Sui court, previously, as they had finished their studies. They then launched into praise for the Tang court.

And here we can say it would have likely been the Tang court. As we discussed, the Sui dynasty had collapsed and a new dynasty, the Tang, had stood up in its place. One wonders, then, about the students who had lived through those tumultuous times, and there may have been other reasons to reach out to the Tang court and restart their relationship. It is also interesting that Silla appears to have close ties to the Tang—something that they would certainly work to strengthen in later years. Silla’s location on the other side of Goguryeo made them an ideal strategic ally to help put pressure on Goguryeo and force them to protect multiple fronts at the same time.

Besides the advice on bringing back students from the Sui—now Tang—court, I’d also like to take a moment and point out the gifts and the temples that were mentioned. Shitennouji and Kouryuuji are both temples associated with Shotoku Taishi, but are also thought to have been closely related to individuals of Silla ethnicity in Yamato. That they received the tribute coming from Silla is interesting.

It looks like things were going well, but then, later in that same year, things took a turn. We are told that Silla invaded Nimna, making Nimna fully a dependency of Silla.

As we had discussed, before, Silla had long since taken Nimna and the other small polities around it. It may be that they had retained some notional independence, as many of the kingdoms of this time were not necessarily fully established as we might think of a state, today. However, any “invasion” was likely seen by Silla as simply quelling an internal dispute, assuming it happened at all. What actually happened wasn’t as important to us, however, as was Yamato’s response.

We are told that Kashikiya Hime considered an invasion, but Tanaka no Omi suggested caution, suggesting that someone be sent to the peninsula to figure out just what was going on. Nakatomi no Muraji no Kuni, on the other hand, pressed for war. He continued to beat that old drum claiming that Nimna originally belonged to Yamato, and that Silla shouldn’t be allowed to have it. Tanaka no Omi countered that it was better that Silla have it than Baekje, claiming that Baekje, Yamato’s on-again off-again ally on the peninsula, could not be trusted to hold it—something of a strange stance.

Ultimately, Kashikiya Hime listened to Tanaka no Omi’s advice, and she sent Kishi no Iwakane to Silla and Kishi no Kuranoshita to Nimna to see how things were going. When they arrived at the peninsula, they were greeted by a single, brightly decorated ship. When they asked whose ship it was, they were told it belonged to Silla, at which point they called into question why there wasn’t a ship from Nimna. And so the Silla sailors sent someone to bring out another ship, claiming that was the ship from Nimna. The Nihon Shoki claims that this tradition of Silla greeting Yamato envoys with two boats dates from this time.

To say I’m a bit skeptical is an understatement. It sounds like Silla was just trying to appease the Yamato envoys so that they would deliver their message and go back home. Perhaps they were putting on a show of Nimna’s independence—who knows. The Lord of Silla—an interesting flex by the Chroniclers, who have otherwise referred to the ruler of Silla as a “king”—sent eight high ministers, or Daibu, to provide Iwakane and Kuranoshita an update on the status of Nimna. In response, the Yamato envoys apparently insisted that Nimna belonged to them and, at least according to the Nihon Shoki, Silla agreed. Here I think we have to take the Chronicles with a bit of salt, and I really wish that we had better records for Silla, but unfortunately the sources we have from that side are silent about any interaction.

Iwakane and Kuranoshita then began to plan the return trip with envoys from Silla along with more diplomatic gifts from Silla and Nimna. With their work completed, they began the trek back to the islands. Even if Silla was simply putting on a show for the ambassadors, they must have felt pretty good about themselves. They had apparently settled the matter and were now on their way back to seal the deal. All they had to do now was wait for a favorable wind so they could cross.

And so they were probably taken aback when they looked out across the waters and saw boatloads of Yamato troops heading their way. The Silla envoys saw this and immediately noped back to the capital at Gyeongju and left a lower level flunky to handle the diplomatic gifts, which Yamato probably already had loaded on board the ship. Iwakane and Kuranoshita resigned themselves to the fact that the agreement they had brokered was now in tatters—they had just talked about peace and suddenly an invading army shows up. So they shoved off and headed back to the archipelago.

Apparently, while Iwakane and Kuranoshita were away, the hawkish faction of the Yamato Court had swayed Soga no Umako to their side, and he had pushed for the invasion. Specifically, the Chronicles blamed the houses of Sakahibe no Omi and Adzumi no Muraji. Apparently these two families remembered getting quite a pay out from Silla last time, when they took armies across the strait to help re-establish Nimna, but got basically paid to leave, and so they were hoping to do the same thing again.

And so Sakahibe no Omi no Womaro and Nakatomi no Muraji no Kuni were made generals of a force that included a host of names of some of the prominent families as assistant generals. Given all of the generals and assistant generals, it must have been a sizeable force, and the Chronicles say that it was ten thousand strong, though I don’t know that we can trust any of the numbers, exactly.

They made landfall and headed to Nimna, to prepare their attack and when the King of Silla heard they were there, Silla tendered their submission, and the generals sent back a memorial to Kashikiya Hime to proclaim their victory. We aren’t told whether or not Sakahibe no Omi or Adzumi no Muraji made any money on this venture, but they seem to have made out alright for themselves.

Now, as I mentioned earlier, there isn’t any really good corroborating evidence for all of this. There is a note in 623 that Baekje sent an army to raid Silla’s Neungno District, and there is the later 7th century note where Silla complains about the constant raids by the Wa, mostly referring to Yamato and the archipelago.

There is one other thing about this period, however: many scholars believe that this is the period where many of the stories of Okinaga no Tarashi Hime really became popular, and took the form that we mostly know them as, today. As you may recall, Okinaga no Tarashi Hime is more commonly known as Jinguu Kougou or even Jinguu Tennou. She was the wife to the sovereign known as Chuai Tennou and the mother to Homuda Wake, aka Oujin Tennou, someone who features prominently in the lineage of the current dynasty of Yamato sovereigns.

We talked about Tarashi Hime and her much hyped “conquest” of the Korean peninsula back in Episode 40. Many scholars treat Tarashi Hime as a fictional, legendary figure, possibly created specifically to mirror the reign of Kashikiya Hime, in the 7th century. There are some who believe her story is actually based on raids and invasions by Yamato in the 7th century, especially given the scale and apparent control that she displays over the archipelago. It is possible that in her day, assuming she did exist, that there was a much larger concern with subduing the Kumaso, which was probably more of an ethnic conflict between different cultures, with Wa forces eventually prevailing. There was certainly commerce with the peninsula, so raids weren’t out of the question. But the scale of those raids may not have been quite as depicted.

Again, though, it is hard to say. The peninsular records are largely silent. The Wa are depicted as almost more of a minor nuisance and they are more likely to give pride of place to Baekje forces in any allied assault, so it is really difficult to determine just what happened, when. Regardless, we aren’t finished with the peninsula. There is still a lot more conflict yet to be seen.

But, we are finished with this episode—and almost finished with this reign. Next episode we’ll cover the end of Kashikiya Hime’s reign, when some of the cutthroat politics of the Yamato court will come to the fore. The end of one reign and the beginning of another has always been a bumpy ride—has the enforcement of more continental style governance changed that at all? We’ll see.

Until then, thank you for listening and for all of your support.

If you like what we are doing, tell your friends and feel free to rate us wherever you listen to podcasts. If you feel the need to do more, and want to help us keep this going, we have information about how you can donate on Patreon or through our KoFi site, ko-fi.com/sengokudaimyo, or find the links over at our main website, SengokuDaimyo.com/Podcast, where we will have some more discussion on topics from this episode.

Also, feel free to Tweet at us at @SengokuPodcast, or reach out to our Sengoku Daimyo Facebook page. You can also email us at the.sengoku.daimyo@gmail.com.

Thank you, also, to Ellen for her work editing the podcast.

And that’s all for now. Thank you again, and I’ll see you next episode on Sengoku Daimyo’s Chronicles of Japan.

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Joshua Badgley and Sengoku Daimyo에서 제공하는 콘텐츠입니다. 에피소드, 그래픽, 팟캐스트 설명을 포함한 모든 팟캐스트 콘텐츠는 Joshua Badgley and Sengoku Daimyo 또는 해당 팟캐스트 플랫폼 파트너가 직접 업로드하고 제공합니다. 누군가가 귀하의 허락 없이 귀하의 저작물을 사용하고 있다고 생각되는 경우 여기에 설명된 절차를 따르실 수 있습니다 https://ko.player.fm/legal.

Here we are, almost at the end of the reign of Kashikiya Hime, with a couple of items, today. First is the reform going on with Buddhism, and, in particular, the state's involvement in selecting a "Head" of Buddhism to make sure that the religion is accountable to the State. Then there are the dealings with the growing power of Silla, amidst the backdrop of a change on the continent from the Sui to the Tang dynasty.

For more, check out our podcast website: https://sengokudaimyo.com/podcast/episode-102

Rough Transcript

Welcome to Sengoku Daimyo’s Chronicles of Japan. My name is Joshua, and this is episode 102: Temples and Tribute

Iwakane and Kuranoshita stood on the deck of their ship, looking out over the waves and back towards their Yamato home. Travel across the sea was always risky, but it was worth it. Locals at the port on the southern tip of the peninsula were loading all sorts of goods into the hold of their ships, and when the two envoys returned home, they could only imagine how they would be greeted as heroes. It had been a long journey, but they’d made it across the strait and upheld the interests of the Yamato court, and now they had a deal that could bring some measure of peace. Not bad for a treacherous trek across the sea. Next they just had to wait for fair winds and they could start the journey back to the archipelago.

Looking out at the ocean, hoping to see some signs of the winds turning back from whence they came, it was then that they spied them—small dots that seemed to disappear and reappear on the horizon. First just a handful, and then more and more. As they came more into focus, their hearts no doubt sank. It was an armada, fitted for war, and it was headed their way.

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As we finish up the reign of Kashikiya Hime, aka Suiko Tenno, I want to deal with several events from about 614 to the year 624. During this decade a lot happened. Last episode we dealt with some of the smaller things, but two major things from this period were the further development of the Buddhist clergy—including bringing the institution under state control—and the reported invasions of Silla. I say “reported”, because only the Japanese sources talk about them, but we’ll talk about just why that might be. Meanwhile, there were plenty of changes happening as the Sui dynasty transitioned into the Tang dynasty, and more.

We’re actually going to start with the changes to the Buddhist clergy. This actually happened some time later than the rest of our narrative, but it makes sense to start here and finish up some of the things happening in Yamato, before expanding our view to the wider world.

As we’ve seen, Buddhism officially arrived in Yamato by 538 according to our earliest record, though possibly it had been around in some form in the immigrant communities before then. By the start of the 7th century, Buddhist temples were being built by some of the noble families of the court, including Soga no Umako, Prince Umayado, and others. Originally, the Buddha was worshipped much as any other kami, but as nuns and monks were sent abroad to learn more about the religion, and as foreign monks were consulted on how things should be, they began to develop their own sangha, their own community, in the archipelago. Those with interest or who took vows to enter the religion studied the sutras and other texts that had been brought over, and with the building of full-scale, continental style temples there would have been little doubt that this was something new and different.

The tenets of Buddhism were those of non-materialism. Adherents were supposed to work on loosening the bonds that kept them tethered to this mortal plane, including concepts of the self. Monks were expected to be the ultimate examples of these teachings, especially seeing as how they dedicated themselves to learning the Buddhist Law. Above all, Buddhist monks were expected to rise above base emotions such as anger, hatred, and lust.

However, let’s remember that these Buddhsit monks were only human, and it is also unclear how many had joined the monkhood entirely of their own volition. For instance, back in 614, when Soga no Umako fell ill, we are told that a thousand persons entered religion for his sake. Now besides the fact that the number of individuals is likely way off base—at most we see maybe 1400 monks and nuns across all of the temples only nine years later—this was not an uncommon thing to see in records of the time. In Baekje, we similarly see large numbers of people taking orders on the behalf of a monarch or other person of importance. The implication is that by having people enter religion—to take orders as a monk or nun—on your behalf would accrue to that person some measure of good karma. This was seen as particularly important for the elite because they, of course, couldn’t just become monks themselves—after all, if they did, who would be left to rule the country? And so, they would have people do it for them, kind of like a version of “karma offsets”, where you get to continue to enjoy all the benefits of your worldly position by offsetting it with other people’s devotion to religion.

But one has to wonder how many people were just waiting around for some special royal or noble person to need some karma before taking orders. After all, if someone was truly interested in taking orders, no doubt they could find a monastery and ask to join. More likely, these were individuals who were impressed -slash- strongly encouraged to take orders on behalf of someone else. This isn’t to say that there were no true converts, nor that those who took orders in such a way never came to appreciate the Buddha’s teachings. However, it does, perhaps, make it a little more understandable when we learn that in 623 there was a major scandal in the Buddhist sangha when an ordained Buddhist monk apparently took an axe and struck his paternal grandfather.

Murder was, of course, generally frowned upon—unless, of course, you were a member of the aristocracy and able to convict the person of something like rebelling against the court. However, it was especially frowned upon by Buddhist monks, as it really didn’t go well with the whole vibe that the Buddhist religion was trying to establish in the archipelago. Anyone who entered Buddhism was supposed to be devoting themselves to the Three Treasures, not geriatricide.

And we don’t know why this monk did it, either. Maybe he just chanted too many sutras and finally snapped, or maybe his paternal grandfather did something heinous and he thought it was his only solution. Either way, this event sparked a major investigation of the Buddhist religion as a whole. The court assembled all of the various monks and nuns and investigated just what had been going on in those temples, anyway. Where they found wrong-doing, the courts decided to issue punishments.

And apparently they found quite a bit of wrong-doing. It isn’t clear exactly what was going on, but there was enough that the Baekje monk Kanroku, or Gwalleuk in modern Korean, issued a memorial to the throne before the punishments were carried out. In his memorial he detailed the history of Buddhism: how it came from the West to the Han, and then 300 years after that to Baekje, and then how it had been transmitted to Yamato only 100 years after that—less than a century ago, really. He noted how young Buddhism was in Yamato, and how the monks and nuns hadn’t fully learned the Teachings of the Buddha. As such, he begged for leniency for all of the monks other than the man who had killed his own grandfather—that was a punishment even Kanroku could not argue against.

By the way, if the name Kanroku is familiar, we talked about him back in episode 94. He was said to have been one of the teachers of Shotoku Taishi, and when he first arrived in Yamato we are told that he brought numerous books on various sciences with him, helping to kickstart a number of studies in Yamato. He was clearly well respected by the court.

And so the court heard this petition, and Kashikiya Hime granted Kanroku’s request for leniency. The monks and nuns were spared, except for the one, but that was not the end of the court’s involvement. Ten days later, they issued another ruling. The court set up two official positions: The Soujou and the Soudzu. These two positions were created to oversee the monks and nuns. Kanroku was made Soujou, or High Priest, and Kurabe no Tokuseki was appointed as Soudzu. We are also told of another position, possibly one that already existed, as a member of the Adzumi no Muraji family was appointed as Houzu, the Head of the Law.

These positions would help tie the practice of Buddhism to the court. The temples were no longer simply autonomous units that could operate on their own. Neither were they solely bound to the wealthy families that patronized them and helped pay for their upkeep. The court positions provided a means of state accountability and oversight concerning the activities of Buddhism in the country. After all, Buddhism, at this time, was largely seen as serving the state and the state elites. While Buddhist doctrine might encourage the salvation of all sentient beings, to many of those sponsoring and setting up these temples, it was still a very transactional relationship. The power of Buddhism was not simply in the siren’s call of possibly throwing off the shackles of the material world, but also in the belief that Buddhist gods and Boddhisatvas could actively provide protection—both tangible and intangible—to the state and to the members of the court. It is unlikely that farmers, living in their pit houses and working in the rice paddies, were thinking so much about going to the temple and what the Buddhist Law meant for them. The nature of religion at the time was still one where the elites controlled the mysteries, and thus used that to justify their rarified positions.

The idea of the position of High Priest may have been transmitted from the Buddhist traditions of the Yangzi river region and the southern courts. Originally, in Yamato, it seems to have been intended as the chief priest of the country, as there was only one official sect of Buddhism. This would change in later years as the position—and the Buddhist temples’ relationship with the government—changed over time.

Kanroku’s time in this position seems to have been limited. Less than a year later, in the first month of 624, a new priest arrived from Goguryeo, named Ekan, or Hyegwan in modern Korean, and he was made Sojo, or high priest. Does this mean that Kanroku retired from the position? Or perhaps he passed away. Unfortunately, we aren’t quite sure.

Tradition holds that both Kanroku and his successor, Ekan, both were installed at Houkouji, aka Gangouji or Asukadera, the temple of Soga no Umako, demonstrating the power and influence that Soga no Umako’s temple had at the time. Ekan is also said to have been the founding patriarch of the Japanese Sanron school of Buddhism. The Sanron sect comes from the Sanlun school of the mainland, also known as East Asian Madhyamaka, and was based on three texts—the “Sanron”—said to have been translated by Kumarajiva in the 4th and early 5th centuries.

That both of these High Priests were installed at Houkouji definitely says something at the time. It is possible that their dominion was simply over Houkouji, but an earlier entry suggests that was not the case, as in the ninth month of 623, some five months after the whole axe-monk incident, the Court ordered an inspection of temples of monks and nuns. We are told that they made an accurate record of the circumstances of the building of the temples, and also the circumstances under which the various ordained individuals had embraced—forcefully or otherwise—the Buddhist religion. They recorded information down to the year, month, and day that they took orders. Based on that record we are told that there were forty-six temples in 623, and 815 monks and 569 nuns, for a total of one thousand three hundred and eighty five persons altogether. That doesn’t count the individuals working the rice land and otherwise helping provide for the upkeep of the temples themselves.

As far as I’m aware, we don’t have this actual record of the temple inspection, other than its summary here in the Nihon Shoki, but assuming it is true, it tells us some rather incredible things. First, if we assume that Asukadera and Shitennouji were really the first two permanent temples to be built in Yamato, then all of this- the building of 46 temples, and the ordination of so many people- happened in the span of about thirty years. That’s an average of three temples being built every two years, and it probably wasn’t that steady a pace. It is entirely possible, of course, that many of the temples mentioned were still under construction. After all, we saw how long it took to build Houkouji temple, or Asukadera, which we discussed back in episode 97. Regardless, it goes back to what we mentioned about the temple building boom that took off, which also removed much of the labor force that would have otherwise been put to work building things like massive kofun.

Also, assuming an even distribution, we are looking at an average of thirty monks or nuns per temple. It was likely not quite so even, and with temples like Asukadera, or even Toyouradera, having many more monks and nuns given their importance. Furthermore, when Soga no Umako grew ill and supposedly had a thousand persons enter religion—which, as we’ve mentioned, likely wasn’t quite that many—I suspect that many of those would have gone to Soga temples, such as Houkouji.

By the way, on that one thousand people: I would note that it is possible that some people only entered Buddhist orders temporarily, for a time, and that is why the numbers aren’t larger. Still, I think that Occam’s razor suggests the simpler answer is that the numbers were simply exaggerated for effect by the Chroniclers, assuming that it even happened in the first place.

So that was the story of Yamato expanding its state administration over the spiritual realm. However, there was plenty of expansion they were doing in the physical realm as well. They had expanded control to the island of Tsukushi, modern Kyushu, and were even dealing with the inhabitants of Yakushima, but they knew there was a much larger world out there.

And so we see that in 613, two new ambassadors were sent to the Sui court. They were Inugami no Kimi no Mitasuki and Yatabe no Miyatsuko. We don’t know much about the embassy that went though we know that they came back through Baekje the following year, bringing a Baekje envoy with them, because why not? Baekje records talk about the Wa—that is the people of the Japanese archipelago—traversing their country on their way to the Sui court at various times, so this is all within the realm of what has been pretty standard, so far.

The following year, we see that Silla sent a Buddha image to the Yamato court. As per usual, our ever so faithful Chroniclers note that this is an item of “tribute” from Silla, as though they were some kind of vassal state of Yamato. Which brings me to a point I’ve made before and I’ll probably make again: All history is political. The writing of history is an inherently political act, in that it attempts to capture some form of truth as the authors of history believe it to be. What they choose to include—and what they choose to ignore—is all a choice.

This should not be confused with facts: what actually happened and was observed. But even the facts of the past are all experienced through human senses and interpreted by human brains. We can often only see them through what others have written or created, and what physical evidence remains, today, whether that is archaeological evidence, or even things like DNA or linguistic clues, passed down through the generations.

Keep this in mind the next time you hear someone talk about “historical revisionism”. The stories we tell ourselves change as we better understand the world and the past from which we came. To get upset about people providing a new vision of that past assumes that our previous understanding was somehow complete. We might not agree with someone’s take on it, but as long as we can agree on the facts, it isn’t as if they are changing what actually happened, just providing a different understanding. This of course gets much more difficult and convoluted when we realize that what we think of as facts might instead be suppositions, inferred from how we believe the world works.

I mention this because looking across our various records we can see just how incomplete our understanding is of this time in Silla-Yamato relations. We have to “pick sides” as it were, if we want to tell a story, or we could just throw our hands up in the air and say “who knows?”So let’s talk about just what is missing from both the Nihon Shoki and the Samguk Sagi, two of our better historical sources from this time. Clearly the Nihon Shoki has a pro-Yamato and pro-royal lineage bias, such that it is going to elevate the status of Yamato and the sovereign, almost completely ignoring any other powerful polities that may have once existed in the archipelago and placing Yamato on equal footing with the Sui dynasty, and above the countries of Silla and their ally, Baekje. It is not exactly nuanced in its depiction.

On the other side we have the Samguk Sagi. Here we have a huge period in the 6th and 7th centuries with little to no mention of Wa or the Japanese archipelago. This is especially true in the Silla annals, which only mention their interactions with Baekje, for the most part, and leave talk of Wa to the earlier years, before Silla grew into one of the three most powerful kingdoms on the peninsula. Where we do find mention is in the Baekje annals, but even that is often sparse.

This is likely for several reasons. First off is the fact that the Samguk Sagi was written in the 12th century, over four hundred years after the Nihon Shoki was published. This was the Goryeo period on the Korean peninsula, and so one might expect to see a greater focus on the former Goryeo, known to us as Goguryeo. However, its author was Kim Busik, and the Kim family traced their roots to the royal lineage of Silla. So he likely was plenty incentivized to prop up the Silla kingdom.

Furthermore, it seems that the Samguk Sagi was pulled together from a variety of sources, often with second or thirdhand accounts. For instance, they writers appear to have used Sui and Tang records to reconstruct what happened at various periods, especially in Baekje. The “Record of Baekje” that the Nihon Shoki often cites appears to have no longer been extant for Kim Busik to peruse. And so it is hard to tell what was left out for political reasons and what simply wasn’t mentioned at all.

However, there is a note in the late 7th century, where the Silla kingdom complains about the constant raids and invasions by the Wa—raids and invasions that are otherwise not mentioned—that makes me think that perhaps there is something more to the records of Yamato and Baekje then might first appear. It would be easy, perhaps, to dismiss what we see in the Nihon Shoki, but we are now only a century from when it was compiled. So while the Chroniclers may have been biased in the way they recorded things, there is likely something there, even if they give themselves a larger role in the production.

Alright, so enough caveats: What does the Nihon Shoki have to say about all of this?

We previously talked about the relationship between Yamato and the continent in Episodes 94 and 96, including prior attempts by Yamato to re-establish Nimna, which had been controlled by Silla since at least the 6th century, and Yamato’s early contact with the Sui court. And as mentioned above Inugami no Mitasuki and Yatabe were sent back from the Sui, returning with an envoy from Baekje in 615. Then, in 616, a year after that, Silla sent a Buddha image as tribute. In typical pro-Buddhist fashion, it is said that the image sent out rays of light and worked miracles. Aston claims this was the gold image eventually installed at Houkouji—aka Asukadera.

There is a bit of a respite in the record, like a show that took a season off during the pandemic. We don’t really have much mention of Silla or Baekje for about four to five years, just as it looked like we were starting to get regular communication. That isn’t to say the record is entirely blank, we just don’t have records of regular contact with Silla and Baekje. There is one record, which Aston dates to 618, though that may be a year off based on other sources, where a Goguryeo envoy arrives with gifts: flutes, cross-bows, and even catapults, we are told, 10 in all. They also brought a camel, which must have been quite the sight, though I wonder how well it was doing after that voyage. Finally, they brought some local products and two captives that had been taken during fighting with the Sui.

This mention of Goguryeo fighting the Sui dynasty is rather significant, and it is part of the reason that many believe the Sui dynasty would fall in or around that same year. Besides spending money on all sorts of public works projects—things like the Grand Canal, that would definitely be a wonder, but was also insanely expensive—the Sui dynasty was also fighting campaigns on their northern and southern borders, as well as facing raids by the Tujue, a group of eastern Turkic people. The Sui had been pushing against Goguryeo, with whom they shared a border, and for the most part, Goguryeo had been pushing back. At the same time, Goguryeo had some ambitious neighbors of their own on the peninsula—their sometime ally Silla being chief among them—so they had to also ensure that they weren’t attacked from the rear as they were marshaling troops against the Sui.

Fortunately for them, the Sui dynasty would eventually collapse, being replaced by the Tang. Unfortunately, the Tang dynasty was not necessarily going to give up the push that the Sui had started.

We’ll probably need to do an entire episode on the Tang dynasty and Tang culture, as it would have a huge impact on all of East Asian culture, but for now, that can wait. The death of the last Sui emperor set up a power struggle on the continent. Li Yuan, Duke of Tang, took advantage of this and had himself proclaimed as the new Tang emperor, but he wasn’t the only one contending for power. Though he ruled from the capital at Chang’an, modern Xi’an, there were plenty of others trying to set themselves up as warlords and emperors in their own right, and Li Yuan would spend the entirety of his reign trying to quell these various threats and re-unify the empire under his rule. Needless to say, there was a lot going on over there.

As that was happening, around 621, Silla sent an ambassador to Yamato named, at least in Aston’s translation, Imime, with the rank of “Nama”—a rank in the lower half of the Silla system. Imime brought a diplomatic gift—that is to say “tribute” in the words of the Nihon Shoki—and a memorial for the Yamato court. Apparently they hadn’t brought memorials before, and this was the first time. Memorials here are formal letters, typically referring to the type of letter from a subordinate to a superior. I doubt that Silla was actually making themselves out to be a vassal to Yamato any more than Baekje, who is recorded as submitting numerous memorials, did the same. However, the way diplomacy works, it would be understandable if the letter to a foreign ruler was presented in a flattering light. Also, let’s not forget that it was entirely possible that there was a bit of interpretation going on from one language, into the diplomatic language of Sinitic characters, and then into the native language of the court.

So I think we can say that this is when Silla and Yamato started formal, written diplomatic correspondence.

These exchanges continued the following year. Silla sent more envoys, and this time they brought a golden Buddha image, a golden pagoda, relics, and a large Buddhist baptismal flag, along with twelve smaller ones. This was the Buddha image placed in the Hata temple at Kadono—which is to say, Hachiwoka Temple, known today as Kouryuuji, in modern Kyouto. Other relics went to Shitennouji. In addition, they brought the monks Esai and Ekou, as well as the physicians Ejitsu and Fukuin, bringing continental or “Tang” learning. AT the same time, the envoys suggested that Yamato should send for the students that they had sent abroad to the Sui court, previously, as they had finished their studies. They then launched into praise for the Tang court.

And here we can say it would have likely been the Tang court. As we discussed, the Sui dynasty had collapsed and a new dynasty, the Tang, had stood up in its place. One wonders, then, about the students who had lived through those tumultuous times, and there may have been other reasons to reach out to the Tang court and restart their relationship. It is also interesting that Silla appears to have close ties to the Tang—something that they would certainly work to strengthen in later years. Silla’s location on the other side of Goguryeo made them an ideal strategic ally to help put pressure on Goguryeo and force them to protect multiple fronts at the same time.

Besides the advice on bringing back students from the Sui—now Tang—court, I’d also like to take a moment and point out the gifts and the temples that were mentioned. Shitennouji and Kouryuuji are both temples associated with Shotoku Taishi, but are also thought to have been closely related to individuals of Silla ethnicity in Yamato. That they received the tribute coming from Silla is interesting.

It looks like things were going well, but then, later in that same year, things took a turn. We are told that Silla invaded Nimna, making Nimna fully a dependency of Silla.

As we had discussed, before, Silla had long since taken Nimna and the other small polities around it. It may be that they had retained some notional independence, as many of the kingdoms of this time were not necessarily fully established as we might think of a state, today. However, any “invasion” was likely seen by Silla as simply quelling an internal dispute, assuming it happened at all. What actually happened wasn’t as important to us, however, as was Yamato’s response.

We are told that Kashikiya Hime considered an invasion, but Tanaka no Omi suggested caution, suggesting that someone be sent to the peninsula to figure out just what was going on. Nakatomi no Muraji no Kuni, on the other hand, pressed for war. He continued to beat that old drum claiming that Nimna originally belonged to Yamato, and that Silla shouldn’t be allowed to have it. Tanaka no Omi countered that it was better that Silla have it than Baekje, claiming that Baekje, Yamato’s on-again off-again ally on the peninsula, could not be trusted to hold it—something of a strange stance.

Ultimately, Kashikiya Hime listened to Tanaka no Omi’s advice, and she sent Kishi no Iwakane to Silla and Kishi no Kuranoshita to Nimna to see how things were going. When they arrived at the peninsula, they were greeted by a single, brightly decorated ship. When they asked whose ship it was, they were told it belonged to Silla, at which point they called into question why there wasn’t a ship from Nimna. And so the Silla sailors sent someone to bring out another ship, claiming that was the ship from Nimna. The Nihon Shoki claims that this tradition of Silla greeting Yamato envoys with two boats dates from this time.

To say I’m a bit skeptical is an understatement. It sounds like Silla was just trying to appease the Yamato envoys so that they would deliver their message and go back home. Perhaps they were putting on a show of Nimna’s independence—who knows. The Lord of Silla—an interesting flex by the Chroniclers, who have otherwise referred to the ruler of Silla as a “king”—sent eight high ministers, or Daibu, to provide Iwakane and Kuranoshita an update on the status of Nimna. In response, the Yamato envoys apparently insisted that Nimna belonged to them and, at least according to the Nihon Shoki, Silla agreed. Here I think we have to take the Chronicles with a bit of salt, and I really wish that we had better records for Silla, but unfortunately the sources we have from that side are silent about any interaction.

Iwakane and Kuranoshita then began to plan the return trip with envoys from Silla along with more diplomatic gifts from Silla and Nimna. With their work completed, they began the trek back to the islands. Even if Silla was simply putting on a show for the ambassadors, they must have felt pretty good about themselves. They had apparently settled the matter and were now on their way back to seal the deal. All they had to do now was wait for a favorable wind so they could cross.

And so they were probably taken aback when they looked out across the waters and saw boatloads of Yamato troops heading their way. The Silla envoys saw this and immediately noped back to the capital at Gyeongju and left a lower level flunky to handle the diplomatic gifts, which Yamato probably already had loaded on board the ship. Iwakane and Kuranoshita resigned themselves to the fact that the agreement they had brokered was now in tatters—they had just talked about peace and suddenly an invading army shows up. So they shoved off and headed back to the archipelago.

Apparently, while Iwakane and Kuranoshita were away, the hawkish faction of the Yamato Court had swayed Soga no Umako to their side, and he had pushed for the invasion. Specifically, the Chronicles blamed the houses of Sakahibe no Omi and Adzumi no Muraji. Apparently these two families remembered getting quite a pay out from Silla last time, when they took armies across the strait to help re-establish Nimna, but got basically paid to leave, and so they were hoping to do the same thing again.

And so Sakahibe no Omi no Womaro and Nakatomi no Muraji no Kuni were made generals of a force that included a host of names of some of the prominent families as assistant generals. Given all of the generals and assistant generals, it must have been a sizeable force, and the Chronicles say that it was ten thousand strong, though I don’t know that we can trust any of the numbers, exactly.

They made landfall and headed to Nimna, to prepare their attack and when the King of Silla heard they were there, Silla tendered their submission, and the generals sent back a memorial to Kashikiya Hime to proclaim their victory. We aren’t told whether or not Sakahibe no Omi or Adzumi no Muraji made any money on this venture, but they seem to have made out alright for themselves.

Now, as I mentioned earlier, there isn’t any really good corroborating evidence for all of this. There is a note in 623 that Baekje sent an army to raid Silla’s Neungno District, and there is the later 7th century note where Silla complains about the constant raids by the Wa, mostly referring to Yamato and the archipelago.

There is one other thing about this period, however: many scholars believe that this is the period where many of the stories of Okinaga no Tarashi Hime really became popular, and took the form that we mostly know them as, today. As you may recall, Okinaga no Tarashi Hime is more commonly known as Jinguu Kougou or even Jinguu Tennou. She was the wife to the sovereign known as Chuai Tennou and the mother to Homuda Wake, aka Oujin Tennou, someone who features prominently in the lineage of the current dynasty of Yamato sovereigns.

We talked about Tarashi Hime and her much hyped “conquest” of the Korean peninsula back in Episode 40. Many scholars treat Tarashi Hime as a fictional, legendary figure, possibly created specifically to mirror the reign of Kashikiya Hime, in the 7th century. There are some who believe her story is actually based on raids and invasions by Yamato in the 7th century, especially given the scale and apparent control that she displays over the archipelago. It is possible that in her day, assuming she did exist, that there was a much larger concern with subduing the Kumaso, which was probably more of an ethnic conflict between different cultures, with Wa forces eventually prevailing. There was certainly commerce with the peninsula, so raids weren’t out of the question. But the scale of those raids may not have been quite as depicted.

Again, though, it is hard to say. The peninsular records are largely silent. The Wa are depicted as almost more of a minor nuisance and they are more likely to give pride of place to Baekje forces in any allied assault, so it is really difficult to determine just what happened, when. Regardless, we aren’t finished with the peninsula. There is still a lot more conflict yet to be seen.

But, we are finished with this episode—and almost finished with this reign. Next episode we’ll cover the end of Kashikiya Hime’s reign, when some of the cutthroat politics of the Yamato court will come to the fore. The end of one reign and the beginning of another has always been a bumpy ride—has the enforcement of more continental style governance changed that at all? We’ll see.

Until then, thank you for listening and for all of your support.

If you like what we are doing, tell your friends and feel free to rate us wherever you listen to podcasts. If you feel the need to do more, and want to help us keep this going, we have information about how you can donate on Patreon or through our KoFi site, ko-fi.com/sengokudaimyo, or find the links over at our main website, SengokuDaimyo.com/Podcast, where we will have some more discussion on topics from this episode.

Also, feel free to Tweet at us at @SengokuPodcast, or reach out to our Sengoku Daimyo Facebook page. You can also email us at the.sengoku.daimyo@gmail.com.

Thank you, also, to Ellen for her work editing the podcast.

And that’s all for now. Thank you again, and I’ll see you next episode on Sengoku Daimyo’s Chronicles of Japan.

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