02 Emperor Jinmu

Who, then, founded the nation called "Japan," became the central fgure for the people, unified them and set up ideals for them, and determined their national course? It was Emperor Jinmu.

Emperor Jinmu, being an ancient figure, might appear very remote, but the truth is completely opposite.

Consider Japanese names. There are last names and first names. Examples of last names are Yamada, Kida, or Kojima. Or Murakami, Natsume, Tezuka, Iinuma, Yoda, Tada, Okuni, Yamagata, Shimizu, Tajiri, Asano, Toki, Funaki, Ishikawa. And Satake, Takeda, Ogasawara, Akiyama, Nanbu, Satomi, Nitta, Ohdate, Imagawa, Hatakeyama, Hosokawa.

The families with these last names belong to the Seiwa Genji clan, meaning that thier ancestor is Emperor Seiwa (r. 858-876). Emperor Seiwa was a descendant of Emperor Jinmu, in the fifty-sixth generation. Thus the people with the last names mentioned above are the descendants of Emperor Seiwa, and going further back, of Emperor Jinmu as well.

Other Japanese names, such as Muraoka, Miura, Hatakeyama, Souma, Kajiwara, Houjou, Nagoya, Kanazawa, Ise, Sugiwara, Wada, or Chiba are called the Kanmu Heiji clan, because they originated form Emperor Kanmu (r. 781-806), who was the direct descendant of Empeor Jinmu in the fiftieth generation.

There are other Japanese names such as Kondou, Shindou, Mutou, Bitou. More in number are Satou, Gotou, Katou, Saitou. Along with the names Hayashi, Togashi, Takeda, Kawai, Inazu, Yuuki, Matsuda, Sano, Hatano, these names came from Fujiwara no Uona (721-783), Minister of the Left in the ancient Japanese court. Uona lived some 1200 years ago. His grandfather was Fujiwara no Fuhito (659-720), whose father was Fujiwara no Kamatari (614-669), who received the supreme rank of the Great Woven Cap. Fujiwara no Kamatari was an important minister who served Emperor Tenji (r. 668-671), but tracing the ancient genealogy even further back, his ancestor Ama no Taneko no Mikoto served Emperor Jinmu. Thus the Saito, Katou, Gotou and so on mentioned above descended from the important ministers of Emperor Jinmu, who served the Emperor in the great enterprise of founding the nation.

About s hundred and seventy or eighty years abo in the 4th year of Kansei era(1792), an Edo period scholar Shibano Ritsuzan (1736-1807) visited the grave of Emperor Jinmu. He was so disheatened to see the dilapidated site that he composed a poem:

"I found the grave site only by asking the passers-by.
An emaciated lone pine stands on a small mound.
If the sacred Emperor Jinmu had not founded the imperial line, who could have saved the Japanese people from barbaric life?"

This poem concludes as follows:

"For a hundred generations, the tree trunk, as well as the branches, produced billions of descendants.
And yet, no one turns his head once, to this site."

The meaning of this poem is: "The grave of Emperor Jinmu is now difficult to locate, because it is neither great, nor well known. I came by asking directions from the people who passed by. And look: on a amall mound, there is only a dried up pine tree. If Emperor Jinmu did not unify the Japanese people, guide them , and found the Japanese nation for them, we would have been dispersed, never lifted above ancient primitive life. For that reason, Emperor Jinmu is our benefactor. Not only that - are we not his descendants, all of us? From his time to the present, there have been one hundred generations, during a period of two thousand and several hundred years. The direct descendants, which form the tree trunk, and their relatives, which are the tree branches, have increased by the billions. In other words, Emperor Jinmu is our benefactor, and ancestor. How sad that no one remembers his grave."

The writer of this poem Shibano Ritsuzan was a brilliant man. He came from Sanuki Province (Kagawa Prefecture), was employed by the Goverment (Bakufu) and reformed the policies of learning and education of that era. His poem of lament for the Emperor is indeed superb.

Let me explain the line. "The branches of genealogy of one hundred generations extend to billions," by going backwards through history. You have your parents , the father and the mother. They in turn have their own parents, so you have four grandparents. Go back one more generation, and it will be eight, then to sixteen, thirty-two, sixty-four. Let us say a generation is on the average thirty years, so if you go back by two hundred years, your ancestors will be sixty-four. If you go back by two thousand years, the number of your ancestors will be numerous. And this is not just limited to you; your friends are the same.