Takeuchi no Sukune (武内宿禰)

TAKEUCHI no Sukune (his name can also be pronounced TAKENOUCHI no -, TAKESHIUCHI no -, 84? - April 367? (old lunar calendar)) was a legendary person recorded in the "Kojiki" (Records of Ancient Matters) and the "Nihonshoki" (Chronicles of Japan), who is said to have served as the Munemachi no Kimi or Oomi (Grand Minister) and advised the government during the early Yamato Dynasty (a period covering the reigns of Emperor Keiko, Emperor Seimu, Emperor Chuai, Emperor Ojin, and Emperor Nintoku). He is regarded as an ancestor of several central ruling families such as the Ki clan, the Kose clan, the Hegri clan, the Katsuragi clan, and the Soga clan, but details are unknown. His name is sometimes written using the characters 建内宿禰.

Other names: Miketsu no Okami (God of Kehi), Kora Tamatare no Kami.

Theories about his actual existence

He has the longest life span of any character recorded in the Kojiki and the Nihon Shoki - too long for a single person, which led some people to hypothesize that he may have been created as an imaginary character representing a certain group of people; however, this remains uncertain.

Biten YASUMOTO argues that although ancient emperors described in the Kojiki and the Nihon Shoki are likely to be historical figures, descriptions about the practice of the imperial throne being passed down from father to son and the lengths of the emperors' reigns are highly dubious. He maintains that the length of each emperor's reign was made longer than its actual length, which caused the life spans of persons, such as TAKEUCHI no Sukune, who served several successive emperors, to be abnormally long.

Achievements

He is said to have been born on the same date as Emperor Seimu. During the reign of Emperor Keiko, he inspected the Hokuriku region and Togoku (the eastern part of Japan, particularly the Kanto region) and proposed subjugating the native Emishi people of northern Japan. In 133, he was made Oomi. He took part in Empress Jingu's invasion of Korea and succeeded in suppressing a rebellion by Prince Oshikuma. During the reign of Emperor Ojin, he led a group of toraijin (people from overseas, especially from China and Korea, who settled in early Japan and introduced Continental culture to the Japanese) in constructing Karahito no ike-Pond. Also, he was accused of treason by Umashiuchi no Sukune, but cleared his name by Kukatachi (a way of judging honesty in ancient Japan where a suspect's hand was placed in boiling water and, if unharmed, the suspect was telling the truth). The year 362 is his last appearance in the "Shoki" (Nihonshoki). The "Kugyobunin" (Directory of Court Nobles) and the "Mizukagami" (The Water Mirror) state that he died in 367 and quotations in "Teio Hennenki" (the Chronicle of emperors) state that he died in 390, and his age at death is variously given as 280, 295, 306, 312, 360, and so on.

Tomb

The Muromiyayama tumulus (a circular tumulus with a rectangular frontage, with a total length of 238 m) in Gose City, Nara Prefecture, has been known as "Muro no Ohaka" (great tomb of Muro) since ancient times, and is believed to be the tomb of TAKEUCHI no Sukune in local legend. It is also said to be the tomb of his son, KATSURAGI no Sotsuhiko. If that is the case, Suyama Tomb, the main tomb of Umami Burial Mounds, which was constructed a little before Miyayama Tomb, has a high possibility of being TAKEUCHI no Sukune's tomb. The center line of Suyama Tomb goes through the center of the round part of the main tomb in Sakitatenami Burial Mounds. According to legend, the main tomb of the Sakitatenami tumuli, which is located next to the Sakiishizukayama tumulus, was mistakenly regarded as Empress Jingu's tomb and worshipped as such during the Heian period, which incurred gods' wrath and caused plagues. If it is true that this tomb is not hers, the Sakiishizukayama Tomb must be the true tomb of Empress Jingu (Okinagatarashi Hime). In "Inaba no Kuni Fudoki" (Records of the Culture and Geography of Inaba Province), it is recorded that TAKEUCHI no Sukune came to Inaba Province when he was 360 years old and then disappeared, leaving his sandals behind; he is enshrined at Ube-jinja Shrine in Kokufu-cho, Tottori City, Tottori Prefecture, where he is believed to have left his sandals. He is also enshrined in many other shrines such as Kehi-jingu Shrine in Tsuruga City, Fukui Prefecture.

He is enshrined as Koratamatare no Kami in Kora Taisha Shrine in Kurume City.

Other

He is highly regarded as a faithful retainer from the emperor-centered historical viewpoint, and his portrait was used on five different banknotes issued by the Bank of Japan - one-yen bill issued in 1889, type-A five-yen bill issued in 1899, type-C five-yen bill issued in 1916, type-D one-hundred-yen bill issued in 1942 and one-yen bill issued in 1943.