Kudaranokonikishi Kyofuku (百済王敬福)

Kyofuku KUDARANOKONIKISHI (697 - 766) was a descendant of a royal family who escaped from Baekje to Japan. His lineage was revealed when gold was discovered in Oda District, Mutsu Province, where he was working as a governor. One of his achievements were to bring the TACHIBANA no Naramaro's War and FUJIWARA no Nakamaro's War under control. He was given the official court rank of Jusani (Junior Third Rank).

Kudaranokonikishi Families

The last king of Baekje, King Giji, formed an alliance with Japan and made Prince Buyeo Pung and King Zenko stay there as their hostages. However, Baekje was destroyed by an invasion of Tang Dynasty China and royal families were taken to the central city of Tang Dynasty China. Although King Buyeo left Japan for Baekje to reconstruct the country, he lost in the Battle of Baekgang and was later captured by Tang Dynasty China after escaping to Goguryeo. King Zenko who stayed in Japan ended up to be the only one to pass on the royal family line of Baekje.

Empress Jito honored King Zenko by giving him the hereditary title of Kudaranokonikishi and allowed him to pass on his royal lineage to future generations. When Shosei was young, he came to Japan with his father, King Zenko, but later died before his father.

Shosei's son, Rogu had his son, Kyofuku in 697 and was later given the position of Jushiinoge (Junior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade) Settunosuke in the Imperial Court of Heijo-kyo (the ancient capital of Japan in current Nara)
He was the third child of Rogu. Kyofuku's father, Rogu KUDARANOKONIKISHI died in 737. According to "Kugyobunin," Kyofuku was a younger brother of Nanten KUDARANOKONIKISHI; however, some suggest that Nanten and Rogu were brothers, and thus Nanten was a Kyofuku's uncle.

It says in the historical records that Kyofuku KUDARANOKONIKISHI became an assistant governor of Mutsu Province in 738 when he was 41 years old. The governor of Mutsu at that time was ONO no Amazubito.

In 739, he was promoted from Shorokuinojo (Senior Sixth Rank, Upper Grade) to Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade) and became the governor of Mutsu in 743 when he was 46 years old.

Discovery of Gold

When Emperor Shomu gave the order to build the statue of Birushana Buddha in Todai-ji Temple, there was a shortage of gold to decorate the huge statue, and therefore they had the idea of dispatching an envoy to Tang Dynasty China. There had been orders to look for gold all across Japan yet they were unable to find any. In April 746, Kyofuku was reassigned from the governor of Mutsu to the governor of Kazusa for unknown reasons, and in September he was promoted to Jugoinojo (Junior Fifth Rank, Upper Grade) and reassigned to the governor of Mutsu once again. These were unusual changes; however, it might have been because he already had a clue of where to find gold.

In 749, gold was discovered in Mutsu Province, and 900 ryo of gold was sent from the governor of Mutsu, Kyofuku, to Heijo-kyo (the ancient capital of Japan in current Nara). Emperor Shomu was very pleased and visited Todai-ji Temple to display the Imperial edict and placed Heihaku in every shrine in Japan to grant an amnesty. There was no longer any need to dispatch an envoy to Tang Dynasty China. Kyofuku KUDARANOKONIKISHI, who was the governor in Oda District, Mutsu Province where gold was found, was moved up seven ranks and promoted to Jusani (Junior Third Rank) and given the position of Kunaikyo (Minister of the Sovereign's Household) as well as the governor of Kawachi Province. All the regional administrators who contributed to discover gold were also promoted and given the court ranks. The name of an era was changed from Tenpyo to Tenpyo-kanpo, and later to Tenpyo-shoho. A manyo kajin, OTOMO no Yakamochi, wrote a poem to congratulate on the discovery of gold.

Golden flowers are blooming beautifully on the mountain in Mutsu like they are celebrating the reign of Emperor and its prosperity. 須賣呂伎能 御代佐可延牟等 阿頭麻奈流 美知(乃)久夜麻尓 金花佐久 - "Manyoshu" (Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves) volume 18, 4097.

Although there is no written proof, some suggests that it may have been a Kyofuku's subordinate, a miner of Baekje descent, who discovered gold. One of the oldest gold mines in Japan are in Oda District which is now known was Wakuya Town, Toda District, Miyagi Prefecture, and the Koganeyama-jinja Shrine in Koganehazama, Wakuya Town is often compared with Engishikinaisa. The current research shows that soil near the Koganeyama-jinja Shrine contains high quality alluvial gold.

Dramatic life

On April 9 of the same year, the consecration ceremony for the Great Buddha was held, and Kyofuku was reassigned to the governor of Hitachi on May 26. In 757, he was reassigned to the governor of Izumo. These positions probably did not require him to move to those places. When TACHIBANA no Maro's war broke out, he led palace guards to protect four insurgents, Prince Kibumi, Prince Funadno, OTOMO no Komaro, and ONO no Azumahito, in custody.

He was reassigned to the governor of Iyo in 759, and was later assigned to Nankaido Setsudoshi in 761 when the topic of Silla conquest was brought up. This position was to control military power of 12 provinces; Kii Province, Awa Province, Sanuki Province, Iyo Province, Tosa Province, Harima Province, Mimasaka Province, Bizen Province, Bichu Province, Bigo Province, Aki Province, and Suo Province. Although an invasion to Silla (ancient Korean kingdom) did not happen, there might have been a slight chance for Kyofuku to go back to Baekje and be the king if it had succeeded.

In 763, he became the governor of Sanuki, and when FUJIWARA no Nakamaro's War broke out, he worked as the chief captain of outer guard and imprisoned Emperor Junnin who was able to become the emperor with the help of FUJIWARA no Nakamaro. Emperor Junnin was exiled to Awaji Province, and the retired Empress Koken was enthroned once again and became Empress Shotoku. Jusanmi Gyobukyo (Junior Third Rank Minister of Justice) Kyofuku KUDARANOKONIKISHI worked as a chief mounted guard to protect Empress Shotoku when she visited Kii Province in 765 and performed the traditional dance of Baekje at Yuge-ji Temple in Kawachi Province on their way home. Kyofuku lived an extremely dramatic life until he passed away in 766. He died at the age of 69.