Sunday, September 9, 2012

Himiko, Mysterious First Empress in Japan

Every Japanese knows the name of this first ruler of Japan, Himiko (175 - 248). This ruler was female. She was an empress. She is the first Japanese appears in written historical record. Another noteworthy fact is that we have known her, not from Japanese historical record, but from Chinese historical book. According to this ancient Chinese document, "Gishi Wajin Den", Himiko sent her messenger to Chinese Emperor and established equal partner basis relationship with China. In the second century, China was far advanced country than Japan. Japan was just out of the prehistoric age and formed several countries. She amazes people by her bravery.

According to the record, there were male kings fighting each other that time. She defeated her enemy country with the Chinese army sent for. In this way, Himiko ended the civil war. The Emperor of China approved her to be the ruler of this "Yamatai" country. The Chinese Emperor endorsed it by sending her certificate and stamp.

She was originally female shaman and spiritual medium who could communicate with god and bring his message to the people. The Chinese history book talks about her that she exercised shamanism to rule her kingdom. Her power must have been extraordinarily strong so that people were respectful and enjoyed peace under her reign. Since she appears only in Chinese history book, she is a mysterious figure for Japanese. There were some theories have been advocated. One of them believes that she was one of the existed Japanese emperor's families. Her country "Yamatai" is ancient Japan. The other argue that she was just one of tribe leaders in Japan that time.

Himiko appears in a cartoon from popular Japanese author. In this story, Himiko is a forever-young female ruler. The record says that she did not appear in public much after she became an empress. If the data was correct, she would have died at the age of 71. She had unusually long life in her age. The other notable fact is that the name of her country, "Yamatai" is so similar to ancient Japanese country name "Yamato". The name "Yamato" came from the way Chinese called Japan. Japan was called "Yamato" around the fifth century until the imperial government started to use "Nippon" in the seventh century. It does not seem to be just coincident to see this much similarity.

History of any country in ancient time referred to gods. Japanese legend says that the goddess of Sun created Japan and her brother god came down from heaven to rule it. Some historians believe that Himiko and Yamataikoku was the origin of this myth. Himiko did have her brother helping her to reign.

After her death, the civil war broke out again in Japan. The war lasted years. It is amusing to learn that only method to end the war was to find Himiko's daughter and make her successor empress of Japan.

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