Isonokami no Maro (石上麻呂)

ISONOKAMI no Maro (640 – April 22, 717) was a noble who lived in the Aska and Nara period. His first name, 麻呂 (Maro) is also spelled as 麿. His name and hereditary title was changed from MONONOBE no Muraji to MONONOBE no Ason and to ISONOKAMI no Ason. He was from the Mononobe clan and a son of MONONOBE no Umaro.
Shonii (Senior Second Rank) and Sadaijin (Minister of the Left)
He was given the Junior First Rank after his death for his achievements.

He fought for Prince Otomo during the Jinshin War in 672, and followed him as his commander until Prince Otomo's suicidal death. He was forgiven after a while and was promoted to Sadaijin (Minister of the Left), although it was exceptionally rare for a member from the Mononobe clan to receive such a high rank since the clan was losing its power after MONONOBE no Moriya was defeated by SOGA no Umako who was a omuraji (a kabane that was given to the most powerful administrative ruler during the period of ancient Japan) in 587.

He is said to be the inspiration for 'ISONOKAMI no Marotari' who is one of five nobles to propose to Princess Kaguya in the Taketori Monogatari (The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter).

From the reign of Emperor Tenmu and Empress Jito till the first half of the reign of Monmu

It was the end of the Jinshin War in 672 when MONONOBE no Maro appeared in any historical records. MONONOBE no Maro was on the side of Prince Otomo (Emperor Kobun). Although it is uncertain how much of a role he took during this war, MONONOBE no Muraji Maro and two other servants stayed with Prince Otomo until August 24, the day he committed suicide due to his loss in the battle. He began his career as a government official under the Emperor Tenmu, and despite having lost in the battle, he remarkably rose to the eminent rank in his remaining years. Some believe that it was because his loyalty which he kept till the end was appreciated. Others believe that ENOI no Okimi who was from the same clan, fought for Prince Oama and achieved a great deal in his call of duty, and thus it helped to reduce the punishment on the Mononobe clan.

On November 23, 676, Daiotsujo (the ninteenth grade of twenty-six grades of cap rank, which corresponds to Shohachii, Senior Eighth Rank and Juhachii, Junior Eighth Rank of Taiho Ritsuryo, Taiho Code) MONONOBE no Muraji Maro visited Silla as an ambassador (YAMASHIRO no Mukade was his assistant). At this time, Silla and Japan were both sending envoys regularly, and on December 16, Shiyaubiyau KON came from Silla to Japan in stead. On January 5, 677, Japan sent Goryeo (a government in exile aiming for revival of Goguryeo) envoys whilst Silla sent Yaugusen KOU to Japan. Maro came back from Silla to Japan on March 12 of the following yeaer.

On December 15, 684, MONONOBE no Muraji was given the hereditary title of Ason (second highest of the eight hereditary titles) along with many other clans whose hereditary titles were Omi. This is when he changed his last name to Isonokami. On October 23, 686, Jikikosan (the fourteenth grade of jikiko rank for vassals of the forty-eight grades of cap rank, which corresponds to Shogoinoge, Senior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade of Taiho Ritsuryo, Taiho Code), ISONOKAMI no Ason Maro killed Norinotsukasa (the eulogist of the Legal Bureau) at the Emperor Tenmu's funeral. This shows that he had worked as Norinotsukasa before.

On Octoeber 31, 689, ISONOKAMI no Maro and ISHIKAWA no Mushina were sent to Chikushi region and delivered a court rank diploma. ISONOKAMI no Ason Maro's position at that time was still Jikikosan. On February 17, 690, MONONOBE no Maro Ason placed the shield at the Empress Jito's enthronement ceremony. Jikidaichi (the ninth grade of jikidai rank for vassals of the forty-eight grades of cap rank, which corresponds to Shoshiinojo, Senior Fourth Rank, Upper Grade of Taiho Ritsuryo, Taiho Code) ISONOKAMI no Ason Maro became the commander-in-chief of Chikushi region on December 3, 700.

When official court ranks were given based on the Taiho Code on May 7, 701, Chunagon (Middle Councilor) Jikidaichi ISONOKAMI no Ason Maro received Shosanmi (Senior Third Rank) Dainagon (Major Councilor).

TAJIHI no Shima died on September 2 of the same year. Shosanmi ISONOKAMI no Ason Maro went to Shima's house with Prince Osakabe to deliver gifts from the Emperor. On September 16, 702, Shosanmi ISONOKAMI no Ason Maro was promoted to Daizainosochi (Governor-General of the Dazai-fu offices). When Udaijin (Minister of the Right) ABE no Miushi died on May 24, 703, Shosanmi ISONOKAMI no Ason Maro became a messenger to send an eulogy and gifts.

Udaijin and Sadaijin

On February 20, 704, Shonii Dainagon (Junior Second Rank, chief councilor of state) ISONOKAMI no Ason Maro became Udaijin and was given 2170 ko (smallest social organization unit in provincial administration). Next to Dajodaijin (Grand Minister) Prince Osakabe, ISONOKAMI no Maro received the second highest rank which was the highest rank excluding the Imperial Family. In 705, Imperial Prince Hozumi took over Chidaijoukanji (a deputy to the Dajodaijin).

On February 11, 708, Junii (Junior Second Rank) ISONOKAMI no Ason Maro and FUJIWARA no Fuhito were promoted to Shonii (Senior Second Rank). On April 12, Udaijin Shonii ISONOKAMI no Ason Maro became Sadaijin which was a vacant post for a long time, and Fuhito became Udaijin. However, the person who had the control of this government is considered to be Fuhito.

When the capital was returned to Heijo-kyo on April 17, 710, ISONOKAMI no Maro took charge of the old capital. On August 10, a palace servant of Sadaijin, MUSA no Saga offered 嘉瓜 to the emperor and Bunbu Hyakkan made a celebrational statement.

When Imperial Prince Hozumi died on September 3, 715, ISONOKAMI no Maro received the highest rank among all the other vassals. Two years later, on April 22, 717, ISONOKAMI no Ason Maro died. He was 78 years old. The Empress Gensho deeply mourned and halted the work at the government by the Imperial Court and sent Prince Nagaya and TAJIHI no Miyakemaro to Maro's house on behalf her to pay her respect and gave him the rank of Juichii (Senior First Rank). KAMITSUKE no Hirohito, on behalf of Dajokan, HOZUMI no Oyu, on behalf of those who were higher than Fifth Rank and TOMA no Azumabito, on behalf of those who were lower than Sixth Rank, represented their eulogies, respectively.
It is said in the "Shoku Nihongi" (Chronicle of Japan Continued) that 'there was no peasant who did not miss him or feel sad that he was gone.'
On December 21 of the same year, 100 hiki (unit of length) of ashigimu (a type of silk), 400 ku of thread, 1000 kin (unit of weight) of cotton, and 300 tan (measure of fabric) of fabric were given to him.

Chronological List of the Main Events

In 640, aged one. He was born.

August 24, 672, aged 33. Prince Otomo (Emperor Kobun) committed suicide.

November 23, 676, aged 37. Daiotsujo MONONOBE no Muraji Maro was sent to Silla.

March 12, 677, aged 38. MONONOBE no Muraji Maro came back from Silla.

December 15, 684, aged 43. MONONOBE no Muraji was given the hereditary title of Ason.

October 23, 686, aged 47. He killed Norinotsukasa at the Emperor Tenmu's funeral.

Octoeber 31, 689, aged 50. Jikikosan ISONOKAMI no Ason Maro and others were sent to Chikushi region to deliver a court rank diploma.

February 17, 690, aged 51. ISONOKAMI no Maro Ason placed the shield at the Empress Jito's enthronement ceremony.

December 3, 700, aged 61. Jikidaichi ISONOKAMI no Ason Maro became the commander-in-chief of Chikushi region.

On May 5, 701, he promoted to Jusanmi Chunagon (Junior Third Rank Middle Councilor) at the age of 62. ("Kugyobunin")

May 7, 701, aged 62. Chunagon Jikidaichi ISONOKAMI no Ason Maro became Shosanmi Dainagon.

September 2, 701, aged 62. Shosanmi ISONOKAMI no Ason Maro was sent to pay their respects to TAJIHI no Shima.

September 16, 702, aged 63. Shosanmi ISONOKAMI no Ason Maro became Daizainosochi.

May 24, 703, aged 64. Shosanmi ISONOKAMI no Ason Maro was sent to pay their respects to ABE no Miushi.

February 20, 704, aged 65. Dainagon Junii ISONOKAMI no Ason Maro was appointed to Udaijin and was given 2170 ko.

February 11, 708, aged 69. Junii ISONOKAMI no Ason Maro was promoted to Shonii.

August 9, 708, aged 69. The Empress Genmei gave separate orders to a group of 9 members including Sadaijin ISONOKAMI no Ason Maro and other government officials at high ranks.

April 17, 710, aged 71.
Transferring of the national capital to Heijo
Sadaijin Shonii ISONOKAMI no Maro took charge of the old capital.

August 10, aged 71. Sadaijin's servant, MUSA no Saga presented 嘉瓜 to the emperor.

April 22, 717, aged 78. Sadaijin Shonii ISONOKAMI no Maro died. He was 78 years old. He was given the title of Junichi.

December 12, 717. Junichi ISONOKAMI Ason Maro recieved 100 hiki of ashigimu, 400 ku of thread, 1000 kin of cotton, and 300 hashi of fabric.