History of ancient Japan

The Yamato Kingdom : The First Unified State in the Japanese Islands Established by the Paekche People in the Late Fourth Century

Homuda (Oujin), the founder of the yamato kingdom

Most Japanese historians seem to believe that the Yamato kingdom began with King Oujin (Homuda), despite the fact that, according to Kojiki and Nihongi, Oujin was the fifteenth, not the first, king of Yamato kingdom. Why do they believe this? I will now present a well known thesis.

An early twentieth century professor of history at Waseda University, Tsuda Soukichi (1873-1961), argued that the records of Kojiki and Nihongi on the Yamato kings prior to Oujin were nothing but a simple fabrication for the purpose of making the Yamato royal family the rulers of Japanese archipelago since ancient times. 1

The first evidence advanced by Tsuda to support his thesis is as follows. In the original text of Kojiki and Nihongi, all thirteen kings between Jinmu the Founder and the fifteenth king Oujin were recorded in (traditional Japanese style) posthumous formulaic titles, none of them individual or unique. From this, Tsuda reasons that posterity manufactured the titles, rendering them uniform. Beginning with Oujin, however, the unique name that was actually used since the time of the princedom was recorded as the posthumous title of each king. From this, Tsuda reasons that the name of each king was authentic. For example, the name of Oujin when he was a prince is Homuda, and the latter became his (traditional Japanese style) posthumous title. 2 The Chinese-style titles, such as Jinmu or Oujin, though most familiar to the general public these days, are not the ones we see in the original Kojiki and Nihongi. These are the titles that are believed to have been manufactured later by a scholar called Oumi Mihune (721-85).

The second evidence presented by Tsuda is as follows. According to Kojiki and Nihongi, from Jinmu to the fifteenth king Oujin, the pattern of succession was strictly lineal, from father to son. Between Oujin and Tenji, however, the pattern of succession was mostly fraternal, with kingship passing from brother to brother. The practice of father-to-son succession was not firmly established even after Tenji in the late seventh century. Tsuda therefore contended that the records of Kojiki and Nihongi on all kings prior to Oujin were fictitious.

The logic of Tsuda’s proposition is very persuasive. 3 There is, indeed, scarcely any substance in the records of Kojiki and Nihongi from the second king up to the ninth king, nor about the thirteenth king. The section on the fourteenth king, Chiuai, in Kojiki and Nihongi consists almost entirely of accounts of the fictitious entity called Empress Jingū. Many post-War Japanese historians believe that Teiki, a chronicle compiled in the early sixth century, had indeed contained records of only 12 kings from Oujin to Keitai. I find that there are four additional pieces of evidence to support the thesis that the Yamato kingdom began with Oujin.

The first supporting piece of evidence is as follows. Tsuda had focused on the fact that both Kojiki and Nihongi record strict father-to-son successions prior to Oujin. More importantly, however, is the fact that the credibility of them is cast into doubt by the peaceful nature of the transitions ascribed to them, so unlike other transitions. Let us look, for example, at the post-Oujin period. There was a bloody feud among brothers when Nintoku succeeded Oujin. There was another bloody feud when the Richiu-Hanzei brothers succeeded Nintoku. There developed very peculiar circumstances when Ingyou succeeded Hanzei. There was another bloody feud when the Ankau-Yūriaku brothers succeeded Ingyou. There developed very peculiar circumstances when the Kenzou-Ninken brothers succeeded Yūriaku-Seinei, and also when Keitai succeeded Ninken-Buretsu. In other words, conflict and bloodshed, mostly between brothers, characterize post-Oujin successions, giving us no reason to suppose that pre-Oujin successions were peaceful. Yet such is the claim, a claim that thus casts into doubt the factuality of the account.

Secondly, according to Nihongi, the 70-year interval between the death of the so-called fourteenth king Chiuai (in 200) and the enthronement of the fifteenth king Oujin (in 270) was ruled by Empress Jingū as regent (201-269). Yet Jingū is commonly acknowledged to be a fictitious figure apparently inspired by the third century Pimihu recorded in the Wajin-den of Wei-shu (of San-guo-zhi compiled by Chen Shou, 233-297). 4 The story of Jingū’s regency makes the thesis that only the post-Oujin kings did actually exist sound more reasonable.

Thirdly, immediately after the compilation of Kojiki in 712, the Yamato court ordered the governors of all provinces to compile surveys of products, animals, plants, and land conditions, etymologies of place names, and written versions of oral traditions. These records were apparently used as a source by Nihongi. Harima Fudoki, one of the few such records extant, is believed to have been compiled between 713 and 715. Harima Fudoki includes so many anecdotes related to Homuda (Oujin) that one readily believes Homuda must have been the founder of the Yamato kingdom. Harima Fudoki is blanketed with a myriad of accounts about Homuda’s activities such as visiting villages and people, going on hunting expeditions, and the naming of places after Homuda’s trifling words and deeds. Other kings are scarcely mentioned in Harima Fudoki. 5

The fourth supporting piece of evidence is this. According to Kojiki and Nihongi, among all Yamato kings, only Jinmu the official Founder and the so-called fifteenth king Oujin were born in Kyūshū: Jinmu shortly after the imperial ancestor deity Ninigi descended to Kyūshū from heaven, and Homuda immediately after his mother (Empress Jingū) landed on Kyūshū, crossing the sea from Korea. From Kyūshū, Jinmu makes an epic Eastward Expedition, while Oujin makes a miniature expedition eastward with his mother. The fact that only Jinmu the official founder and Oujin the fifteenth king were recorded to have been born in Kyūshū (only to conquer unruly elements in the Yamato area) implies that both Jinmu and Oujin represent the one and only founder of the Yamato Kingdom. 6

Dating the Foundation of the Yamato Kingdom

According to Nihongi, the Yamato kingdom was established in 660 BC. Neither the Japanese historians nor the general public believe the year of the foundation of the Yamato kingdom recorded in Nihongi to be correct. This raises, of course, the question of when the Yamato kingdom was established.

According to Nihongi, Oujin became king in 270. If one examines both Nihongi and Samguk-sagi, however, one arrives at the conclusion that Oujin became the king in 390. This is the well known 120-year (two sexagenary cycles) difference between the records of Nihongi and those of Samguk-sagi in this period (see Aston 1889, pp. 51-65). For instance, according to Nihongi, Paekche sent crown prince Cheon-ji to the Yamato court in the eighth year of Oujin’s reign (277). The Samguk-sagi records that the crown prince was sent to the Yamato court in 397. According to Nihongi, Paekche King Asin (Ahwa) died in the sixteenth year of Oujin’s reign (285). The Samguk-sagi records that King Asin died in 405. All these records (given the usual two-cycle correction) imply that Oujin became the king in 390. 7

If the Yamato kingdom was established in 390, how do we trace the roots of the royal family? The correct answer to this question that the ardent Japanese wish to hear goes as follows: “the imperial clan represents a truly ‘native’ ruling force that had emerged as the result of natural socio-political evolution on the Japanese archipelago from the ancient Ice Age.”

Model-building by egami, ledyard and hong

Observing an “archeological break” including the sudden appearance of horse bones and trappings in the late fourth century, Egami (1948) has contended that some horseriding people from the continent had conquered the Japanese islands and established the Yamato kingdom. Ledyard (1975) has specified the Puyeo people as a plausible candidate for the conquerors on the basis of the chaotic stories of the period between 350 and 380 recorded in Nihongi. By allotting appropriate weight to the post-Oujin records of Kojiki and Nihongi, however, Hong (1988, 1994, 2002) has contended that the Paekche people from the Korean peninsula conquered the Japanese islands.

The essence of my model is as follows. I contend that the Neolithic Jōmon culture (c. 10,000–300 BC) on the Japanese archipelago was the product of Ainu and Malayo-Polynesian people, while the Bronze-Iron Yayoi culture (c. 300 BC-300 AD) was the product of Kaya people from the southern Korean peninsula together with Ainu and Malayo-Polynesian aborigines. 8 The proto-Japanese people, speaking proto-Japanese language, were formed during the Yayoi period. I also regard the early tomb culture (c.300-375) as an extension of the Yayoi culture.

The late tomb culture (c. 375-675) was, however, brought about by the Yamato kingdom, the first unified state on the Japanese islands that was newly established at the end of the fourth century by the Paekche people from the Korean peninsula. 9 I postulate that the Paekche people conquered the Japanese islands sometime between 370-390, that Homuda (Oujin) acceded to the throne as the founder of the Yamato kingdom in 390, and that there were some time lags between the commencement of conquest and the burial of conquerors in gigantic tombs with horse trappings.

By the time King Mi-cheon of Koguryeo conquered the Le-lang Commandery in 313, Paekche came to occupy the Dai-fang Commandery. In 369, King Keun Chogo of Paekche conquered the entirety of the Ma-han states in the southwestern peninsula and then, in 371, struck northward into the Pyung-yang area, killing the King Kogug-won of Koguryeo. During the fourth century, before the appearance of the King Kwang-gae-to the Great (391-412) in Koguryeo, Paekche could maintain an offensive posture in armed conflicts with its neighbors. Paekche under the reign of the martial King Keun Chogo (346-75) and his son, Keun Kusu (375-84), reached its peak in military might and territorial expansion. It was during this period that the Paekche people conquered the Japanese islands and established the Yamato Kingdom.


1 For a good summary of Tsuda’s thesis, see 井上 等編, 日本歷史大系 : 原始古代 (1984: 271-3).

2應神 卽位前紀 初天皇在孕而 天神地祇授三韓 旣産之 肉生腕 上 其形如鞆 ...故稱其名謂譽田 天皇 上古時俗 號鞆謂褒武多焉 (NI:363)

3 Before the end of the Second World War, the emperor and the imperial institutions were elevated to such a lofty legal and spiritual position that any questioning of the orthodox account of their origin was tantamount to treason. In 1940, four of Tsuda’s major writings were banned. In 1942, he was sentenced to three months in
jail for the crime of desecrating the dignity of the imperial family.

4 日本書紀 神功皇后 攝政元年是年也 太歲辛巳 卽爲攝政元年 (NI: 349)
神功 攝政三十九年 魏志云 明帝景初三年 倭女王遣大夫難斗米等 (NI: 351)
神功 攝政六十六年 是年 晉武帝泰初二年. . .倭女王遣重譯貢獻 (NI: 361)
神功 攝政六十九年. . .皇太后崩. . .時年一百歲. . .是年也 太歲己丑 (NI: 361)

三國志 魏書 卷三十 烏丸鮮卑東夷傳 第三十 倭 景初二年六月 倭女王遣大夫難升米等詣郡 求詣天子朝獻 . . . 其年十二月 詔書報 倭女王曰 制詔親魏倭王 卑彌呼 . . . 正始. . . 八年. . . 倭女王與狗奴國 男王卑彌弓呼素不和. . . 相攻擊 . . . 卑彌呼以死.

5 According to Aoki (1974: 35-39), Harima Fudoki is full of accounts of Homuda’s “fighting career and aggressive profile,” and yet “it is interesting to note that neither Kojiki nor Nihon-shoki speak much of the belligerent activities of Homuda, while other provincial accounts are full of such episodes. . . . This must be an indication of some effort made to cover up Homuda’s undesirable aspects for records. In fact, the compilers of the Kojiki and Nihon-shoki seem to have taken pains to conceal his belligerence before and after his emergence as the ruler of Yamato state . . . Compilers’ mention of his birthmark of an archery arm-piece seems to imply that he was a man of martial strength. . . .The silence of both Kojiki and Nihon shoki regarding Homuda’s aggressiveness seems intentional.” Whatever the cover-up, until this very day, as many as 25,000 Hachiman Shrines all over the Japanese islands continue to worship the deified spirit of Homuda, not Jinmu, as the god of war.
6 天照大神之子. . .娶高皇産靈 尊之女 (N1: 135) 而生. . .次生 天津彦根火瓊瓊杵根尊 及至奉降 (N1: 161) 天神之子 則當到筑紫曰日向高千穗穂槵觸之峯 (N1: 149) 後遊幸海濱 見一美人 (N1: 155) 於是. . .日子番能邇邇藝能命 於. . .遇麗美人. . .一宿爲 婚. . .所生之子. . .次生子. . .弟火遠理命. . .海神之女. . .見感目合而. . .卽今婚其女. . .於是海神之女. . .乃生置其御子而. . .卽塞海坂而返入. . .是…日子. . .娶其姨. . .生御子名 五瀨命. . .次.. .次. . .次若御毛沼命. . .亦名神倭伊波禮毘古命 (K: 130-146)

整軍雙船度幸時. . .押騰新羅之國. . .其政未竟之間 其懷妊産 卽爲鎭御腹 取石以纏於裳之腰而 渡筑紫國 其御子阿禮坐 阿禮二字以音 (K: 230- 232)
神功 攝政前紀 皇后從新羅還之. . .生譽田天皇於筑紫 (NI: 341)

7 應神 八年 春三月 百濟記云 阿花王立... 是以 遣王子直支于天朝 以脩先王之好也 (NI: 367)
應神 十六年 春二月 是歲 百濟阿花王薨 天皇召直支王謂之曰 汝返於國以嗣位 (NI: 373)

三國史記 百濟本紀 第三 阿莘王 六年 王與倭國結好 以太子腆支爲質 (S2: 45). 腆支王 或云直支...阿莘在位第三年立爲太子 六年出質於倭國. . .十四年王薨. . .國人. . .迎腆支卽位 (S2: 46)

8 A sudden change in climate, such as the commencement of a Little Ice Age, could have prompted the southern peninsular rice farmers to cross the Korea Strait c. 300 BC in search of warmer and moister land. About 400 BC, mountain glaciers seem to have started to re-advance, with cooler conditions persisting until 300 AD. The beginning of this Little Ice Age coincides with the great Celtic migrations in the west end of the Eurasian continent and the Warring States period (403-221 BC) in the east end.
See Mayewski and White (2002: 121), Lamb (1995: 150), and K W. B, ed., “Climate Variations and Change,” The New Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. 16 (1986: 534).

9 The Little Ice Age (400 BC-300 AD) produced the heyday of the Roman Empire located in the warm Mediterranean zone and the Han Chinese Empires in mainland China. There followed a drought period of maximum intensity in the Mediterranean, North Africa and far to the east into Asia around 300-400 AD. This period coincides with the great Germanic folk migrations in the west end and the Five Barbarians and Sixteen States period (304-439) in the east end. According to Lamb (1995: 150), such a drought could have devastated the places where agriculture had been carried on with the aid of elaborate irrigation works. It is then possible that such an abrupt change in climate had a serious impact also on the Paekche farmers around the Han River basin.
Due to a long spell of drought following the Little Ice Age, the Kaya farmers on the southern shore of the Korean peninsula could have renewed, by the turn of the 4th century, their emigration effort into the Japanese islands to join their distant cousins, while the more innovative farmers led by the martial rulers of the Paekche State at the Han River basin could have decided to conquer the Ma-han in the southwestern quarter of the peninsula (in 369 AD), and then to branch off in the direction of the Japanese islands in the late fourth century.


The Japanese Islands Conquered by the Paekche People the foundation myth: trinity


The evolution of egami-ledyard-hong models

Egami (1962, 1964) believes that the Japanese imperial ancestors came from a horseriding race of Northeast Asian provenance, possibly from among the Puyeo of central Manchuria, and that immediately prior to their invasion of the Japanese islands, they were based in the southern peninsula. Egami contends that the horseriders occupied Kyūshū in the early fourth century, and their descendant Homuda (Oujin) carried out the conquest eastward to the Kinki region at the end of the fourth century, establishing the Yamato kingdom, the first unified state on the Japanese islands. The most crucial evidence for his theory is the sudden appearance of various horse-related archeological findings dated to the period after “the middle of the latter half of the fourth century.”

Egami has attempted to ground his thesis on historical sources by identifying a Nihongi figure called Mima-ki (Emperor Sujin), who presumably came to the Japanese islands from a southeastern corner of the Korean peninsula called Mima-na, as the leader of the horseriding invasion force. The Dongyi-zhuan records that there were kings of Chin in southern Korea who ruled in the state of Yue-shi in Ma-han and brought under sway twelve out of a total of twenty-four Han states.1 Egami believes that the leader of horseriders became the kings of Chin up to the late third century, and Mima-ki, one of the descendants of the third century Chin kings, left Mima-na to conquer the Japanese islands in the early fourth century.2

A flaw in Egami’s argument is his contention that Mima-ki belonged to the horseriding conquerors, while archeologically it appears that only Homuda could have belonged to them. Since Egami places Mima-ki in the early fourth century, he has to backdate the invasion to around that time, at least half a century or more before the advent of archeological discontinuity. If Egami’s hypothesis is correct, we should be able to observe an introduction of Middle and Late Tomb materials in the early fourth century, at least in Kyūshū where Egami contends the invasion began. According to Egami, such evidence constitutes a missing link which, he believes, will certainly be found in the future.3

Ledyard (1975) has attempted to reformulate Egami’s theory in order to make it more consistent with the appearance of the archeological break. Ledyard contends that the Paekche kingdom in the southwestern part of the Korean peninsula was founded by the Puyeo refugees from Manchuria sometime in the twenty-year period between 352 and 372, and immediately thereafter, the Puyeo warriors reached the sea, boarded boats and founded the Yamato kingdom in the Japanese islands. The core evidence for Ledyard’s thesis is twofold: the historical fact that Puyeo was destroyed in 346, and the chaotic stories of the period between 350 and 380 recorded in Nihongi.

The record of Nihongi for the year 366 (246, without the usual two-cycle correction) contains the following statements made by the King of a Kaya state, Tak-sun: “In the course of the year Kinoye Ne [364], three men of Paekche named Ku-zeo, Mi-ju-ryu, and Mak-go came up to my country and said; - ‘The King of Paekche [Keun Chogo], hearing that in the Eastern quarter there is an honorable country [the Japanese islands], has sent thy servants to this honorable country’s court. Therefore, we beg of thee a passage so that we may go to that Land. If you wilt be good enough to instruct thy servants and cause us to pass along the roads, our King will certainly show profound kindness to my Lord the King.’ I (the King of Tak-sun) then said to Ku-zeo and his followers: - ‘I have always heard that there is an honorable country in the East, but I have no communication with it, and do not know the way. There is nothing but far seas and towering billows, so that in a large ship, one can hardly communicate. Even if there were a regular crossing-place, how could you arrive there?’ Hereupon Ku-zeo and the others said: - ‘Well, then for the present we cannot communicate. Our best plan will be to go back again, and prepare ships with which to communicate later.’ ”4

What are we able to understand from these statements? As of 364, Han-seong was the capital of Paekche, and Ma-han was still occupying the southwestern corner of the Korean peninsula. Hence it was natural that the Paekche people would lack detailed information about the passages to the Japanese islands. The movement of the Paekche people [Homuda and his followers] to the Japanese islands must have occurred not long after 364, which was the year they had dispatched scouts to gather information about the passages.

In the ensuing narration, however, Nihongi records a large-scale Wa invasion of Korea with “Paekche generals.”  According to Nihongi, it was Jingū who dispatched an army to the Korean peninsula in 369 to invade “Silla.” It is said that, when the Wa army arrived at Tak-sun, they discovered that the size of their army was too small and hence had to ask for reinforcements. They were soon joined by troops led by two generals with unmistakably Paekche names. They then all together invaded and conquered “Silla” and pacified Tak-sun and six other places. From here the armies turned west, conquered the southern savages and then “granted” those conquered lands to Paekche. At this point they were joined by the Paekche King Keun Chogo and his son Prince Keun Kusu, whereupon four more localities spontaneously surrendered. 5

If one tries to understand these military activities described in Nihongi as the work of Wa, then there is no way to understand the “Paekche generals” associating with Wa troops. Neither can we understand, as pointed out by Ledyard (1975), the story that the Wa armies somehow got to Tak-sun in the first place without passing through the areas they later conquered, nor the story that Wa armies then turned around and conquered the areas from north to south. But once we take those series of military activities as the work of Paekche, these Nihongi records become quite coherent.

By crosschecking the records of Samguk-sagi, Ledyard logically deduces that all those stories recorded in Nihongi represent the historical records of Paekche armies moving south.  At this point, however, Ledyard commits an altogether unnecessary and surprising error, calling the Paekche king and his followers “Puyeo warriors.” In Nihongi, the above story ends with the Paekche King and the “Wa soldiers,” who are heading to the Japanese islands, pledging eternal friendship and biding farewell. If we take the departing “Wa soldiers” as a contingent of Paekche warriors [led by a Paekche prince named Homuda], without invoking Puyeo warriors out of the blue, then the entire story becomes coherent.

In searching for the principal figures in the formation of the Yamato kingdom, Egami resorts almost exclusively to the Dongyi-zhuan and relies very little on the records of Kojiki and Nihongi. Ledyard resorts almost exclusively to the Jingū’s section of Nihongi, and fails to allot appropriate weight to the post-Oujin records of Kojiki and Nihongi.

The essence of my proposition is that a member of the Paekche royal family represented by Homuda and his followers, with the blessing of Paekche’s King Keun Chogo (346-375), carried out the conquest of the Yamato region via Kyūshū in the late fourth century. I contend that not only the entire Mahan area, but also the Japanese islands were conquered by the Paekche people during the latter half of the fourth century (to be more specific, 370-390) when the Paekche’s military might reached its peak.

The Foundation Myth: Trinity 

The close similarity in kingship myths between Koguryeo and the Yamato kingdom has already been suggested by many Japanese scholars (see Ōbayashi, 1977). I believe that the recorded foundation myths in both countries are consistent with my own foundation theory: it was the Paekche people who had established the Yamato kingdom on the Japanese archipelago, and the roots of the Japanese imperial clan were the Paekche royal family whose origin, in turn, can be traced to the founder of the Koguryeo kingdom, Chu-mong.

The foundation myth of Koguryeo as recorded in Samguk-sagi and Old Samguk-sa, on the one hand, and the foundation myth of the Yamato kingdom as recorded in Kojiki and Nihongi, on the other, reveal surprising similarities in essential motives. In both myths, a son of the heavenly god or sun goddess descends to earth from heaven and marries a daughter of the river god or sea god (after being tested for godliness by the bride’s father). Their romance terminates with the birth of a founding forefather of the earthly kingdom (being destined to be separated from each other), and the earthly founder leaves the initial settlement, crossing the river or sea, getting the help of turtles or of a man riding on a turtle.6

Ōbayashi (1977) points out that among the three different types of animals appearing in Kojiki myth, such as tortoise, crow, and bear, only the bear (the land animal) has a negative value and, analogously, among tortoises, birds, and beasts appearing in Chu-mong myth, only the land animals (beasts) have a negative value. Ōbayashi states that “the structural similarity between the two stories becomes apparent when they are codified.”

In the finale, the foundation myth of Kojiki and Nihongi also matches the legend of Paekche itself: the elder brother Biryu went to the seashore and failed while the younger brother Onjo stayed inland in a mountain area and succeeded in founding a kingdom in the new world. In Kojiki and Nihongi, Jinmu’s grandfather was a second child who was partial to mountains; the elder brother was partial to the sea and failed, subsequently submitting to his younger brother. Jinmu himself was the younger child, and the elder brother was killed during the first land battle. Oujin was a second child, and the elder brother did not merit so much as a single word of description in Kojiki and Nihongi.7 A historical event in the formation of Paekche might well have been an additional source of inspiration for the writers of the Kojiki-Nihongi myth. According to Egami, the foundation myth derived from the same source as Puyeo and Koguryeo was brought to the Japanese islands by an alien race and, with minor adaptations, became the foundation myth of the Yamato kingdom.8 Ōbayashi (1977: 19) states that the “striking correspondence in structure between the Japanese myths and the kingdom-foundation legends of Koguryeo and Pakeche … provides a clue to the origins of the ruling-class culture in Japan,” and also states that (ibid.: 22) “the monarchial culture … came to Japan from Korea … in the fifth century” and “the people who were responsible for this monarchial culture had absorbed the Altaic pastoral culture to a substantial degree and it had become an integral part of their culture.”

The Age of the God narrated in Book One of Kojiki introduces the mythical founder Ninigi, the grandson of the Sun Goddess Amaterasu. Book Two of Kojiki begins the Age of Man with the earthly founder Ihare (Jinmu) and ends with the fifteenth king Homuda (Oujin). In the preface of Kojiki, one reads that “Ninigi first descended to the peak of Takachiho, and Ihare (Jinmu) passed through the island of Akitsu” in one breath.9 In Book Two of Kojiki, Ihare, who was born in Kyūshū, commences the epic Eastward Conquest while Homuda, who was also born in Kyūshū, wages a miniature Eastward Conquest with his mother (Jingū), who has just crossed over the sea from the Korean peninsula and landed on the Japanese islands.

The Sun Goddess Amaterasu orders her child to descend from heaven to rule the Japanese islands, while the earthly mother Jingū accompanies her child and herself sees her son through becoming the king at the capital city named Ihare in the Yamato area.10 According to Kojiki, the divine oracle tells Homuda’s mother (Jingū) that “it is the intention of the Sun Goddess Amaterasu to bestow the country upon her unborn child and let him rule it … and hence if the country is really desired … cross the sea!”11

I contend that Ninigi, the scion of the Sun Goddess recorded in Book One, and Ihare the earthly founder, and Homuda the fifteenth king recorded in Book Two (at the beginning and at the end, respectively) of Kojiki portray three different aspects of the real founder of the Yamato kingdom. In Kojiki as well as in Nihongi, the mythological aspect was covered in the Ninigi section, the records of battles and conquest were covered in the Ihare (Jinmu) section, and the massive arrival of the Paekche people was covered in the Homuda (Oujin) section. Homuda, Ihare and Ninigi constitute the trinity in the foundation legend of the Yamato kingdom.



1 Egami (1964: 66)
三國志 魏書 烏丸鮮卑東夷傳 第三十 東夷傳 …辰王治月支國
. . .弁辰韓合二十四國. . .其十二國屬辰王 辰王常用馬韓人作之     

後漢書 東夷列傳 第七十五  馬韓 最大 共立其種爲辰王 都目支國

2 Egami (1962: 16)
垂仁二年 御間城天皇之世. . .意富加羅國王之子. . .是時遇天皇崩 便留之 仕活目天皇逮于三年 天皇問. . .欲歸汝國耶. . .改汝本國名 追負御間城天皇御名 便爲汝國名. . .返于本土 故號其國謂彌摩那國 (NI: 257-259)

3 Egami (1064: 69) not only argues “the invasion of Tsukushi by the kings of Mimana . . . from the operational base of Kara . . . with the cooperation of the people of Wo living in that area” as well as “the establishment of a confederated Japanese-Korean state comprising Mimana and Tsukushi,” but also argues that “the kings of this confederated state, the kings of Wo, had their capital . . . in Tsukushi . . [and] in the time of Emperor Oujin . . . the armies of Wo penetrated deeply into the interior of the Korean peninsula . . . [and] while these continental campaigns were being carried on there occurred the conquest of the Kinki region . . . and the establishment of the Yamato court . . . Emperors of Japan were kings of Wo ruling a Japanese-Korean confederation.
[F]rom the time of the Emperor Tenji . . . the Emperor of Japan finally became sovereign over the islands of Japan alone.” Egami (1964: 65-66) also argues that “the kings of Wo still retained a historical basis for ruling, or a latent right to rule, the whole of south Korea . . . Paekche, like all the other states of south Korea, should be considered a dependency of the state of Wo.” Egami seems to have coated his theory of horseriding people with enough sugar to win the Cultural Medal from the Emperor in 1991.
4 神功 攝政卌六年. . .百濟肖古王. . .曰. . .不知道路 有志無從. . .卓淳王末錦旱岐.. .曰 甲子年七月中 百濟人久氐彌州流莫古三人 到於我土曰 百濟王 聞東方有日本貴國 而遣臣等 令朝其貴國 故求道路. . .令通道路 則我王必深德君王. . .曰 本聞東有貴國 然未曾有通 不知其道 唯海遠浪嶮 則乘大船 僅可得通 若雖有路津 何以得達耶 於是 久氐等曰 然卽當今不得通也 不若 更環之備船舶 以後通矣 (NI: 353)

5 神功 攝政卌九年 . . .以荒田別 鹿我別爲將軍 則與久氐等 共勒兵而度之 至卓淳國 . . . 時或曰 兵衆少之 不可破. . . 更復 奉上沙白蓋盧 請增軍士 卽命木羅斤資 沙沙奴跪 . . .木羅斤資者 百濟將也 領精兵與沙白蓋盧共遣之 俱集于卓淳. . .擊. . .而破之 因以 平定比自㶱南加羅㖨國安羅多羅卓淳加羅七國 仍移兵 西廻至古奚津 屠南蠻忱彌多禮 以賜百濟 於是其王肖古及王子貴須 亦領軍來會. . .四邑自然降服 是以百濟王父子及荒田別木羅斤資等 共會意流村 相見欣感 厚禮送遣之. . .與百濟王.. . .登辟支山盟之. . .而送之 (NI: 355-357)

百濟始祖溫祚王 二十六年 . . . 王曰 馬韓漸弱 . . . 冬十月 王出師陽言田獵 潛襲馬韓 . . . 二十七年 . . . 馬韓遂滅 (S2: 16)

6 曰 將使吾子孫 立於此 汝其避之. . . 解慕漱 . . . 河伯之女. . . 誘. . .於. . . 卽往不返 .. . 幽閉於室中 爲日所炤. . . 因而. . . 有一男兒. . .弓矢射之 百發百中 扶餘俗語 善射爲朱蒙 故以名云. . . 行至淹遞水. . . 告水曰 我是天帝子 河伯外孫 . .. 魚鼈浮出成橋 (S1: 260-261)

解慕漱 . . .天之子. . .天帝遣太子 降遊扶余王古都. . . 世謂之天王郞 . ..河伯三女美 . . .可有後胤 . . .長女曰柳花. . .河伯曰 王是天帝之子 有何神異 王曰唯在所試 . . .以禮成婚. . .獨出升天 . . .王知慕漱妃 仍以別宮置 懷日生朱蒙 . . . 南行至淹滯. . . 天孫河伯甥 避難至於此. . .魚鼈騈首尾  (東國李相國集 : 33-36)

三國志 魏書 夫餘傳 魏略曰. . .有高離之國者 其王者. . .婢云有氣如雞子來下 我故有身後生子. . .王疑以爲天子也 . . . 東明善射 王恐奪其國也 欲殺之 東明走 南至施掩水. . .魚鼈浮爲橋. . .東明因都王夫餘之地
廣開土王碑文 始祖鄒牟王. . . 出自北夫餘 天帝之子 . . . 剖卵降世 . . . 巡行南下 路有夫餘奄利大水 王臨津言曰 我是皇天之子 母河伯女郞 . . .爲我連葭浮龜 . . .造渡 

[北]魏書 列傳 高句麗 朱蒙告水曰 我是日子 河伯外孫

伊奘諾尊 伊奘冉尊. . . 共生日神. . .一書云 天照大神 (NI: 87) 五瀨命. . .日神之御子 (K: 150) 五瀨命. . . 日神子孫 (NI: 193)
皇祖高皇産靈 . . . 遂欲立皇孫 . . . 以爲葦原中國之主 . . . 而問大己貴神曰 . . . 欲降皇孫 君臨此地 . . . 如意何如當須避不 . . . 使降之 (NI: 139)
幸行筑紫 . . . 乘龜甲爲釣乍打羽擧來人 遇于 . . . 問汝者知海道乎 答曰能知 (K:148)
See Ōbayashi (1977: 1-23).

7 長曰沸流 . . . 欲居於海濱 . . .彌鄒忽以居之 溫祖都河南慰禮城. . . 沸流以彌鄒土濕水鹹 . . . 遂慙悔而死 (S2: 15)

天照大御神. . .詔太子. . .此御子者 御合高木神之女. . .生子. . .次日子. . .邇邇藝. . .隨命以可天降 (K: 124-126) 後遊幸海濱 見一美人 (NI: 151) 遂生. . .兄. . .自有海幸 弟. . .自有山幸 (NI: 163) 沈之于海. . .至海神之宮. . .有一美人 [海神聞之曰 試以察之. . .乃知是天神之孫 (NI: 183)] 因娶海神女. . .仍留住海宮 (NI: 165) 天孫. . .還上國 (NI: 171) 兄知弟有神德 遂以伏事其弟 (NI: 175) 豐玉姬自馭大龜. . .海來到. . .其兒生之後. . .海俓去 (NI: 178-181) 以其姨. . .爲妃 生彦五瀨命. . .次. . .次. . .次神日本磐余 (NI: 185) 一書曰 先生彦五瀨命 次磐余彦 (NI: 187)
帶中日子天皇 . . . 又娶息長帶比賣命 生御子 . . . 次. . .品陀和氣命 . . . 故著其御名 是以知坐腹中國也 (K: 226)

8 Since the principal actor of the Yayoi era was the Karak (Kaya) people, the foundation myth of the Yamato kingdom could not avoid some trace of the Karak foundation myth. According to Kojiki and Nihongi, after receiving the order of the heavenly god to rule the land, Ninigi descends on the peak of Kuji-furu (in Kyūshū) that is identical to the name of the place Kuji (in southern Korea) where the founder of Karak descended from heaven. See Egami (1964: 56, 59).
天降坐于竺紫日向之高千穗之久 士布流多氣 (K: 128)

天神之子 則當到筑紫曰日向高千穗槵觸之峯 (NI:149)
首露. . .漢建武十八年壬寅登龜峰 望駕洛九村 遂至其地開國 號曰加耶 (S2: 290)

三國遺事 駕洛國記 . . .所居北龜旨. . . 皇天所以命我者 御是處 惟新家邦 . . .故降矣 . . . 始現故諱首露 . . . 國稱大駕洛 又稱伽耶國 卽六伽耶之一也 餘五人各歸爲五伽耶主

9 番仁岐命 初降于高千嶺 神倭天皇 經歷于秋津嶋 (K: 42)

10 息長帶日賣命 於倭還上之時 因疑人心 一具喪船 御子載其喪船. . .思將待取 進出於. . . 興軍待向之時 . . .爾自其喪船下軍相戰 . . .難波. . .故追退到山代之時 還立 各不退相戰. . .更張追擊 故逃退逢坂 對立亦戰 爾追迫敗於. . .悉斬其軍. . .共被追迫. . . 故. . .率其太子. . .造假宮而坐 (K: 232-234)

神功 攝政三年 立譽田別皇子 爲皇太子 因以 都於磐余 (NI:  349)

11 大后歸神 言敎覺詔者 西方有國 . . . 吾今歸賜其國 . . . 凡此國者 坐汝命御腹之御子 所知國者也 . . . 是天照大神之御心者 . . . 今寔思求其國者 . . . 大海以可度 (K: 228-230)


Massive Influx of the Paekche People into the Yamato Region

close kinship between the royal families


We owe to Kojiki and Nihongi a detailed account of the massive influx of the Paekche people into the Yamato region immediately after the establishment of the Yamato kingdom.1

Dongyi-zhuan, which was compiled in the late third century, records that there was no horse in the Japanese islands. Kojiki and Nihongi record the official arrival of horses in the Japanese archipelago. The King of Paekche sent A-chik-ki with two quiet horses (one stallion and one mare, specifies Kojiki) in 404, the fifteenth year of Oujin’s reign. Because A-chik-ki was well-read in the classics, the Heir Apparent made him his teacher. Oujin (Homuda) asked A-chik-ki whether there were other learned men superior to him, and he answered that there was such a man named Wang-in. Wang-in arrived from Paekche in 405, and the Heir Apparent learned various books from him. A-chik-ki became the ancestor of the Scribes, and Wang-in became the ancestor of the Chief Writers. Kojiki adds that the King of Paekche also sent for a blacksmith and a weaver. There also arrived a man who knew how to brew wine. He brewed a great wine and King Oujin greatly rejoiced in that wine.2

Nihongi records the construction of a reservoir in 396, the seventh year of Oujin’s reign, by a group of people from the Korean peninsula. Kojiki records that there came some people from Silla, who constructed a reservoir under the command of Take-uchi and called it “Paekche reservoir.” Nihongi records that the King of Paekche sent for a seamstress named Chin-mo-chin in 403, who became the ancestress of the seamstresses of Kume.3

According to Nihongi, Kung-wol, the progenitor of the Hata clan, arrived at Yamato in 403 (the fourteenth year of Oujin) from “Paekche,” leading the people of 120 provinces, and in 409 (twentieth year of Oujin), Achi, the progenitor of the Yamato Aya clan, also arrived with the people of 17 provinces.4 The records of both Samguk-sagi (for the year 399) and King Kwang-gae-to epitaph (for the year 400) corroborate the possible sequence of the massive movement of people from Paekche to the Japanese islands precisely at about this time.5

According to the Shinsen Shoujiroku, the Hata people were dispersed in various provinces during the reign of Nintoku and let undertake sericulture and the manufacturing of silk for the court. It is recorded that, by the late fifth century (in the reign of King Yūriaku), the size of the Hata clan amounted to 18,670 persons consisting of 92 Be.6

According to the Shoku-Nihongi, the province of Takechi, which was the very center of the Yamato kingdom, was so full of Aya people that the people of other clans accounted for only one or two out of ten.7 According to the Shinsen Shoujiroku, Achi obtained the permission (from Oujin) to establish the Province of Imaki (Newly Arrived) that was later renamed Takechi, but the place came to be so crowded with the Aya people that they had to be dispersed into various other provinces. Harima Fudoki records an instance of such a relocation of the Aya people as well as their matrimonial relationship with the Hata people. Harima Fudoki also states: “In the reign of Homuda, Paekche people arrived at this place and built a castle as they used to do in their homeland, making it their dwelling. Hence the place is called Ki (Walls) Mure Mountain [Walled Mountain Fortress].” 8

According to Nihongi, a large number of skilled workers, including saddle-makers, potters, painters, and silk-makers arrived at Yamato from Paekche in the seventh year of Yūriaku’s reign [463]. In order to differentiate these newly arrived skilled workers from those that had arrived during the reign of Oujin (the Yamato Aya clan), they were called Newly-Arrived Aya (or New Aya), and were put under the jurisdiction of the Yamato Aya clan.9

This massive movement of peoples clearly establishes a place for Korea in the story of the Yamato kingdom. Ishida (1974: 85), a Tokyo University professor of cultural anthropology, states: “Detailed research by historians has made clear that the greatest wave of immigration took place immediately after the unification of Japan by the Yamato court. If the Yamato court was established without any relation to Korea, how can these facts be explained?”

Close Kinship between the Paekche and Yamato Royal Families

If one reads Nihongi, one cannot but feel a very close kinship between the Paekche royal family and the Yamato royal family, witness the Paekche royal family members always staying at the Yamato court. The Heir Apparent Cheonji, the eldest son of Paekche King Asin (392-405), stayed at the Yamato court from 397 till 405. He returned to Paekche when Asin died in 405, and became King Cheonji (405-420).10 We also find in the Nihongi record that Cheonji sent his younger sister, Shinjedo, to the Yamato court, with seven maids, to wait on Oujin.11

Later, during the reign of Nintoku, who had succeeded Oujin, Paekche Prince Chu came to the Yamato court, trained a falcon, and went hawking with Nintoku. During the reign of King Kaero in Paekche (455-475), the Paekche court sent a daughter of Lady Mony to the Yamato court to become a queen of Yūriaku, but she was burnt at the stake after being found guilty of infidelity. Learning of this unfortunate incident, King Kaero sent his younger brother Konji to the Yamato court to assist Yūriaku.12

Nihongi (N1: 345-6) records that King Kaero gave Konji one of his consorts who was pregnant, instructing him to send back the baby if she should be delivered on the journey. The pregnant consort indeed gave birth to a child on an island in Kyūshū, and Konji immediately took a ship and sent the baby named Si-ma (island or Si-eom in Korean) back to Kaero. Nihongi records that it was the year 461. The child became King Mu-nyeong (501-23) of Paekche whose tomb was excavated at Kong-ju in 1971. The funerary inscription confirms that the King’s name was Sa-ma and that he died in 523 at the age of 62.  It was also discovered that his coffin was made of umbrella pine which grew only in southern Japan. The parasol pine may reach a height of 36 meters, with a trunk diameter of 1.2 meters.

When Paekche King Sam-keun (477-479) died in 479, the second son of Konji returned to Paekche and became King Tong-sung (479-501). Nihongi portrays the sorrow of Yūriaku parting from Konji’s son.13 In 505, Paekche King Mu-nyung sent a prince called Sa-a to assist the Yamato court. In April 597, King Wi-duck sent Prince A-jwa. Nihongi also records the arrival of Prince Pung-jang, a son of King Uija, in 631.14

The Shinsen Shoujiroku records the progenitors for the 1,182 Yamato ruling clans. The preface of the Register states that since the Ma-hito (Jin-person) is the sovereign one among the imperial clans, the Ma-hito clans in the capital region are presented at the very beginning of the imperial group in Book One. According to the Register, however, all the Ma-hito clans can be regarded as the offspring of the Paekche royal family.15

The first four Ma-hito imperial clans listed at the very beginning of Book One of the Register were recorded as descendants of Homuda, the fifth clan as descendants of Keitai, the seven following Ma-hito clans as descendants of Bidatsu; then the following eight Ma-hito imperial clans (i.e., from the thirteenth to the twentieth) were recorded as the descendants of “the Prince of Paekche.” However, the twelfth one, that is, the Ma-hito clan immediately preceding those recorded as the descendants of the Prince of Paekche, was recorded not only as the descendant of Bidatsu but also as the offspring of the King of Paekche. In other words, “the descendants of Bidatsu” are equivalent to “the offspring of the King of Paekche.”16 According to Nihongi, Bidatsu was the second child of Kinmei, who was the rightful heir of Keitai, who in turn was “a descendant in the fifth generation” of Oujin (Homuda). Thus, the Register records that the entire Ma-hito imperial clan, from the first to the twentieth, were the offspring of “the King of Paekche.” This implies that the entire Oujin line of Japan’s imperial families originated from Paekche royal families.

Immediately after recording the Paek-chon River debacle and the fall of fortress Chu-yu in 663, Nihongi records the following dialogue: “Then the people of the country said to one another; Chu-yu has fallen; nothing more to be done now; this day the name of Paekche has become extinct; how can we pay visits to the place where the tombs of our ancestors are?”17 



1. Yamato is one of five provinces (國) of Kinai (畿內), which forms the present-day “Nara Prefecture.” Formerly the name of the province was written 大倭 (read Great Yamato) but in 737 the characters were changed to 大和 (also read Great Yamato). The Yamato Plain is about 30 km from north to south and 15 km from east to west.

2 亦百濟國主照古王 以牡馬壹疋 牝馬壹疋 付阿知吉師以貢上 此阿知吉師者 阿直史等之祖 . . . 又科賜百濟國 若有賢人者貢上 故 受命以貢上人 名和邇吉師 卽論語十卷 千字文一卷 . . . 此和邇吉師者文首等祖 . . . 又貢 上手人韓鍛 名卓素 亦吳服西素二人也 又. . . 及知釀酒人 名仁番 亦名須須許理等參渡來也 (K: 248)

應神 十五年 百濟王遣阿直伎 貢良馬二匹. . . 阿直伎亦能讀經典 卽太子. . .師焉 於是天皇問阿直伎曰 如勝汝博士亦有耶 對曰 有王仁者 是秀也 時遣. . .荒田別 . . .於百濟 仍徵王仁也 其阿直伎者 阿直伎史之始祖也 . . .十六年 . . .王仁來之 卽太子. . . 師之 習諸典籍於王仁 莫不通達 所謂王仁者 是書首等之始祖 (NI: 371-373)

3 亦新羅人參渡來 是以. . .命引率 爲役之堤池而 作百濟池 (K:  248)

應神 七年 高麗人百濟人任那人新羅人 並來朝 時命. . . 領諸韓人等作池 因以 名池號韓人池 (NI: 367)

應神 十四年 百濟王貢縫衣工女 曰眞毛津 是今來目衣縫之始祖也 (NI: 371)

4  亦百濟國主照古王 . . . 亦貢 . . . 又貢 . . . 又秦造之祖 漢直之祖 . . .等參渡來也 (K: 248)
應神 十四年 弓月君自百濟來歸 . . .領己國之人夫百卄縣 . . . 然因新羅人之拒 皆留加羅國 十六年 . . .乃率弓月之人夫 與襲津彦共來焉. . .卄年. . . 倭漢直祖阿知使主 . . .並率己之黨類十七縣而來歸焉 (NI: 371- 375)

阿智使主之黨類 自百濟國來歸也 日本三代實錄 (日本六國史 韓國關係 記事原文: 216-217).
5 阿莘王 八年 王欲侵高句麗 大徵兵馬 民苦於役 多奔新羅 戶口衰減 (S2: 45-46)

廣開土王碑文 十年 敎遣步騎五萬 往救新羅 . . . 自倭背急追至任那加羅從拔城 . . .倭寇大潰 城內十九盡拒隨倭

6 大泊瀨稚武天皇御世 . . . 秦民九十二部一萬八千六百七十人 (SS: 307)

仁德 御世 以百二十七縣秦氏 分置諸郡 卽使養蠶織絹貢之 (SS: 279)
7 阿智使主 . . .率十七縣人夫歸化 詔高市郡檜前村而居焉 凡高市郡內者 檜前忌寸及十七縣人夫 滿地而居 他姓者十而一二焉    (SN4: 380)

8 阿智王 譽田天皇御世..七姓漢人等歸化 . . .仍賜大和國檜隈郡鄕居之焉 . . . 飛鳥村主. . .錦部村主 . . .鞍作村主 播磨村主 漢人村主 今來村主 . . .等是其後也 爾時阿智王奏 建今來郡 後 改號高市郡 而人衆巨多 居地隘狹 更分置諸國 攝津. . .近江播磨. . .等 漢人村主是也 (SS: 358)

少宅里 本名漢部里 所以號漢部者 漢人居之此村 故以爲名所以後改曰少宅者 . . .祖父 娶少宅秦公之女 (F: 304)

播磨國風土記 神前郡 多駝里... 品太天皇 巡行之時...云墓 又云 城牟禮山 一云 掘城處者 品太 天皇御俗 參度來百濟人等 隨有 俗 造城居之 (F: 330)

9 雄略 七年 西漢才伎歡因知利. . . 取道於百濟 . . .集聚百濟所貢今來才伎. . . 天皇. . . 命東漢直 以新漢陶部. . .鞍部. . .畵部. . .錦部. . .譯語. . .等 遷居于. . . 或本云 吉備臣. . . 還自百濟 獻漢手人部 衣縫部 宏人部 (NI:  475-477)

10 應神 八年 百濟記云 . . . 阿花王 . . . 遣王子直支 (NI: 367)

腆支王 或云直支. . .阿莘在位第三年立爲太子 六年出質於倭國 十四年王薨 . . . 太子還國 . . . 國人 . . . 迎腆支卽位 (S2: 46)

應神 十六年 是歲 百濟阿花王薨 天皇召直支王謂之曰 汝返於國以嗣位 (NI: 373)

11 應神 三十九年 百濟直支王 遣其妹新齊都媛以令仕 爰. . . 率七婦女 而來歸焉 (NI: 379)

12 仁德 卌一年 百濟王之族 . . . 爰酒君來之. . .卌三年. . .捕異鳥. . .百濟俗號此鳥曰俱知 是今時鷹也 乃授酒君令養馴 未幾時而得馴. . .居腕上獻于天皇… 幸
. . .遊獵. . .乃放鷹令捕 (NI: 409)
雄略 二年 百濟池津媛 違天皇將幸 婬於. . . 天皇大怒 . . . 以火燒死 百濟新撰云 . . . 蓋鹵王立 . . . 天皇遣 . . . 來索女郞 百濟莊飾慕尼夫人女 貢進於天皇 (NI: 463)

雄略 五年 百濟 . . . 蓋鹵王. . . 告其弟. . . 昆支. .. 曰 汝宜往日本以事天皇 (NI: 471)

13 雄略卄三年 百濟文斤王薨 天王 以昆支王五子中 第二末多王 . . . 勅喚內裏 親撫頭面 誠勅慇懃 使王其國 . . . 是爲東城王 (NI: 497-499)

14 武烈七年 百濟王遣斯我君 . . . 百濟國主之骨族 (NII: 17)
推古五年 百濟王遣王子阿佐 (NII: 175)

舒明三年 百濟王義慈入王子豐章 (NII: 229)

15 枝別之宗 特立之祖 . . . 眞人是皇別之上氏也 幷集京畿以爲一卷 附皇別首 (SS: 146-147)

16 左京皇別 息長眞人 出自譽田天皇 諡應神 . . . 路眞人 出 自諡敏達皇子…王也 守山眞人 路眞人同祖…親王之後也 甘南 備眞人…路眞人同祖…大原眞人
出自諡敏達孫百濟王也 島根眞人 大原眞人同祖 百濟親王之後也 . . . 淸原眞人 桑田眞人同祖 百濟親王之後也 (SS: 149-152)

17 天智 二年九月 百濟州柔城 始降於唐 是時 國人相謂之曰 州柔降矣 . . .百濟之名 絶于今日 丘墓之所 豈能復往 (NII:  361)

   2005 by Wontack Hong / Professor, Seoul University
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