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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Under the famous "Hashi Haka" (*), the tomb of the chopsticks, so many mysteries have been buried, that opening and studying it might actually destabilize the political asset of Japan, or at least, rewrite most of its early history.

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This is the reason why this tomb will never be opened, at least, not in the near future. While the tombs where members of the Yamato family are buried are considered private property of the Emperor, and trespassing their borders is equivalent to violate a private house, this tomb officially belongs to a aunt of an Emperor, which might not have been strictly part of the immediate emperor's family and ancestry. But even if he position of this person in the royal family is unclear, too many secrets are buried under this tomb for it to be opened and investigated lightly.

And that's why it intrigues me.
There are two pieces of information and three hints that lead me to think this tomb might be more important than any other in the Yamato plain, and there are hundreds of them.

According with the Nihon-shoki, this would be the tomb of an imperial princess, daughter of the 7th Emperor Korei, without any descendence. Yet, three hints point in a different direction.

First, the size of her tomb, larger than the vast majority of known tombs (only a couple are more massive), while the 7th and 8th emperor (according with the tradition, the father and the nephew) have no known burial at all.

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This is even more compelling considering that the age of her tomb, according with evident sign of erosion, must precede the few larger tombs by centuries.

Second, her name. Or better, the lack of her name, as it is never reported. The Kojiki calls her with the epithet "Yamato-to-momoso-hime-no-mikoto", or, "The divinity ancestor of the Yamato", which seems strange considered she was reportedly childless. This is even more compelling when we notice that the Nihon-shoki, a kind of formal rewrite of the Kojiki, adds "tohi" ("far", in ancient Japanese) to the epithet that becomes "Yamato-to-tohi-momoso-hime-no-mikoto", or "The divinity that was a far ancestor of the yamato".

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The third hint is in the mikoto suffix, a suffix that not even all the kamis get. Only the proper "gods" receive it. Izanagi, the father of the trinity of Amaterasu, Tsukuyomi and Susa-no-oo is a "mikoto". Emperors are not. Imperial princesses are not (with the exclusion of another epithet, Yamato-hime-no-mikoto, but other hints make me think that this is either the same person as the one we're talking about, or they are much more related than what the legend described in the Kojiki and Nihon-shoki indicate).

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If it's true that three hints make a proof, we have here a pretty solid proof. But there also the other two pieces of information I was talking about putting more stake on the loot.

The first piece are the entries in the Chinese Chronicles about the empire of Wa (the character used by the Japanese to indicate the empire of the Yamato, which would have included a few nearby regions as Uda and Izumo) on an island in the far east, lead by a shaman queen, which would bewitch her people with magic and divination. The name of this queen would have been "Beihimu" if read in modern mandarin, or "Himiko" if read in ancient Japanese.

The second piece of information is a margin note (the equivalent of the modern footnotes) in the original text of the Nihon-shoki, that warns not to take seriously the Chinese Chronicles where they say this figure would have been an important person in the history of the Empire.

So we have a proof and two pieces of information now. The definitive truth could be discovered only dating the tomb correctly, which could be done in many ways once found the burial chamber (which is hidden somewhere in the hill), or simply analyzing pieces of pottery that should be found on the hill simply searching for them: the ancient Yamatai people would have this terraced tombs filled with oil lanterns for the burial ceremony.

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But the locals seems to have decided already that this is indeed the tomb of a queen of the reign that would have then become the Yamato, and then the Japan centuries after her death. This shop is called "The garden of Himiko", and has a themed souvenir shop attached to it.

If this was confirmed, this would fill the gap between the end of the Yayoi period of the Yamatai tribe (200 C.E.) and the first historical records of the Japan as an empire (c.a. 550 C.E.), which, at the moment, is filled with mystery and old tales that were built to build a myth around the Imperial court.




(*) The reason for the name "Chopstick tomb" is in the only tale about this person written in the Nihon-shoki (the Kojiki completely skips anything except mentioning the epithet), which describes its death. According with the "report", this imperial princess had an affair with Oo-mono-no-nushi, the "Master of the Great Things", which was dwelling on the nearby Mount Miwa. Theirs was pure bodily passion, to the point that, one night, the Hime begged the God to show his True Form to her.

He agreed, but made her to promise not to be scared, as his shape might have been terrifying to a human. The Hime was fine with that, and promised to withstand the fear. So, Oo-mono-no-nushi told her that she would have found him in its True Shape opening a closet the morning after.

As the Hime woke up, she opened the closed and a big black snake sprung out. Consider it an anaconda on steroids with obsidian scales. That was scary indeed, and the Hime yelled in fear. Oo-mono-no-nushi was so frustrated by her lack of respect and for her breaking the promise that cursed her, might her feel the same shame she had put him through!

And so, as she was running after the fleeing serpent begging him to forgive her for her intemperance, she fumbled on the feet and fell butt first on the chopsticks scattered on the ground in the fluster of the godly fight. Unfortunately, the chopsticks pierced her in what the Nihon-shoki defines her "inbu", literally her "hidden parts", killing her on the spot.

This story is evidently filled with grotesque irony, and almost as evidently, it's probably meant to discourage any scholar from digging deeper in the relevance of the owner of the most majestic tomb in visual range of the Sacred Mountain.



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