Abe no Miushi (阿倍御主人)

ABE no Miushi (635 - May 20, 703) was a historical figure lived during Japan's Asuka Period. He had another family name FUSE, written as "布勢" or "普勢"; so he was also known as ABE no FUSE. His name is pronounced the same in the old Japanese kana syllabary. His kabane (hereditary title) was Omi (sixth highest of the eight hereditary titles), and later promoted to Ason (second highest). He sided Oama no Miko (Prince Oama, later Emperor Tenmu) in the Jinshin War of 672. He went into politics during the reign of Emperor Tenmu, held high positions during the reigns of Empress Jito and Emperor Monmu, and achieved to the top of Giseikan (Legislature) as Udaijin (Minister of the Right) in his later years. His rank was Junii (Junior Second Rank) Udaijin.

He was a model for a character, 'Sadaijin (Minister of the Left) ABE no Miushi', in 'Taketori Monogatari' (The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter) written in the early Heian Period.

Origin

The Abe was a powerful clan with many branch families that adopted names of their homelands to their family names. The Fuse family was one of these branch families. Miushi was a child of ABE no Uchimaro. His birth year, 635, was calculated from his age at death recorded in "Kugyobunin" (the directory of court nobles).

The Soke (head of family, originator) of Onmyodo (occult divination system based on the Taoist theory of the five elements) was one of the branch families of the Abe clan and said to be descended from ABE no Miushi. A theory speculates that he is the one who was buried in Kitora Tomb.

During the reign of Emperor Tenmu

The only known fact about Miushi's action during the Jinshin War of 672 was that he sided Oama no Miko. According to the entry for July 21, 701 in "Shoku Nihongi" (Chronicle of Japan Continued), ABE no FUSE Omi Miushi received 100 fuko (vassal households allotted to courtier, shrines and temples) for his deed of valor in the war.

Abe no Omi was given the rank of Ason on December 15, 684.

During the reign of Emperor Tenmu, he worked as Nagon (Councilor) at Daijokan (Grand Council of State) and had a very important role in politics. However, his first appearance in literature was after the death of Emperor Tenmu, on October 23, 686, when Jikidaisan FUSE Ason Miushi delivered a eulogy as a representative of Daijokan at Emperor Tenmu's funeral. On January 1, 687 (in old lunar calendar; February 21, 687), while Empress Jito, the Crown Prince (Prince Kusakabe), kugyo (court nobles), and many officials were mourning at the hinkyu (funeral parlor), Nagon FUSE Ason Miushi delivered a eulogy.

When Emperor Tenmu was buried in Ouchiryo (The Imperial Palace's Mausoleum) on December 11, 688, FUSE Ason Miushi together with OTOMO no Miyuki delivered a eulogy.

During the reign of Emperor Jito

During the reign of Emperor Jito, Miushi was at the same rank as OTOMO no Miyuki and was directly below the ranks of Takechi no Miko (Prince Takechi) and TAJIHI no Shima.

On January 2, 690 (in old lunar calendar; February 18, 690), one day after the enthronement of Empress Jito, FUSE Miushi Ason together with TAJIHI no Shima gave a congratulatory address celebrating the enthronement. Perhaps he spoke as a representative of the government officials.

He and OTOMO no Miyuki received additional 80 fuko on February 19, 691 and the total number of households under his control grew to 300. Out of the existing 220 households, 100 were given for his deed of valor in the Jinshin War, but the details of the remaining 120 were unknown. The rank of FUSE Miushi Ason was Jikidaiichi, the same as that of Miyuki.

On January 2, 694 (old lunar calendar; February 4, 694), FUSE Ason Miushi and OTOMO no Miyuki were both promoted to the rank of Shokoshi. With this promotion, Miushi was given additional fuko of 200 households which made the total number of households reach 500, and therefore he became the head of his clan. From this time on, FUSE Ason Miushi became the head of the Abe clan, and his family name was also represented as Abe. Interestingly, up to this moment, Miushi was not the head of the Abe clan although he was the top of the branch families.

During the reign of Emperor Monmu

After the death of Takechi no Miko in 696, Udaijin TAJIHI no Shima was assigned to the top position in Giseikan under the reign of Emperor Monmu. The ranks of ABE no Miushi and OTOMO no Miyuki were directly below the rank of TAJIHI no Shima. After both TAJIHI no Shima and OTOMO no Miyuki died in 701, ABE no Miushi had dominated Daijokan as Udaijin for two years.

ABE no Miushi and OTOMO no Miyuki were promoted to the rank of shokosan (the sixth grade of shoko rank for vassals of the forty-eight grades of cap rank) on October 12, 700. This promotion was a part of the award given to kokushi (provincial governors) on the recommendation of Junsatsushi (Circuit Inspector). However, unlike FUNE no Hatamasa of Inaba-no-kuni-no-kami (Governor of Inaba Province) and NURIBE no Michimaro of Totomi no kuni no kami (Governor of Totomi Province) who were also awarded, ABE no Miushi and OTOMO no Miyuki had no province to govern.

FUSE Ason Miushi was promoted to Chunagon (Middle Counselor), Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank) on February 21, 701. OTOMO no Miyuki, who climbed the ranks together with ABE no Miushi up to this point, was promoted to Dainagon (Major Counselor) and placed one rank above ABE no Miushi; however, OTOMO no Miyuki died on March 3. ABE no Ason Miushi was promoted to Dainagon on May 7, and further promoted to Udaijin and Junii (Junior Second Rank) on the same day. These were records given in "Kugyobunin."

"Nihonshoki" (Chronicles of Japan) did not mention the promotions on February 21, but did describe the death of Dainagon Shokosan OTOMO no Miyuki March 3. The Chronicles described that when the new official court ranks based on the Taiho-ryo (Taiho Code) was put into effect on May 7, Udaijin TAJIHI no Shima was assigned to Sadaijin and Dainagon Shokosan Miushi was assigned to Udaijin. At this time, Miushi was given the rank of Shojunii. Miushi's previous rank was described as 'Shokosan' which was a rank used before the implementation of Taiho-ryo, and this account contradicted that of "Kugyobunin."

The 100 fuko given for his deed of valor in the Jinshin War was certified as Chudai on September 2 of the same year; this meant that Miushi's children were allowed to inherit one fourth of the 100 fuko. TAJIHI no Shima died on the same day and his Sadaijin post became vacant; as a result, Udaijin Miushi became the top of all the vassals.

Imperial Prince Osakabe, also known as Osakabe no Miko (Prince Osakabe), was assigned to Daijodaijin (Grand Minister) in January 703, Miushi's rank became second to that of Imperial Prince Osakabe. Udaijin Junii ABE no Ason Miushi died on May 24 of the same year. ISONOKAMI no Maro was sent to offer condolences and give gifts to the family.

Chronological List of the Main Events

635, at age one. Born.

672 at age 37,.ABE no FUSE Omi Miushi distinguished himself in the Jinshin War.

October 23, 689 at age 51
Jikidaisan FUSE Ason Miushi delivered a eulogy as a representative of Daijokan at Emperor Tenmu's funeral.

January 1, 687 (in old lunar calendar; February 21, 687) at age 52
Nagon FUSE Ason Miushi delivered a eulogy at the Emperor Tenmu's funeral parlor.

December 11, 688 at age 53. When Emperor Tenmu was buried in Ouchiryo (The Imperial Palace's Mausoleum), he delivered a eulogy.

January 2, 690 (in old lunar calendar; February 18, 690) at age 55. FUSE Miushi Ason gave a congratulatory address celebrating the enthronement of Empress Jito.

February 19, 691 at age 56. Jikidaiichi FUSE Miushi Ason received additional 80 fuko and the total number of households under his control grew to 300.

January 2, 694 (old lunar calendar; February 4, 694) at age 59. FUSE Ason Miushi was promoted to the rank of Shokoshi and became the head of his clan with additional fuko of 200 households which made the total number of households reach 500.

October 12, 700 at age 65. ABE no Ason Miushi was promoted to the rank of Shokosan.

February 21, 701 at age 67. FUSE Ason Miushi was promoted to Jusanmi and assigned to Chunagon.

May 7, 701 at age 67. Dainagon Shokosan Miushi was promoted to Shojunii Udaijin.

September 2, 701 at age 67. The 100 fuko given for his deed of valor in the Jinshin War was certified as Chudai.

May 24, 701 at age 69. Died.

August 30, 704
One fourth of 100 fuko owned by Udaijin Junii ABE no Ason Miushi was passed onto his child, ABE no Hironiwa.