Murakuni no Oyori (村国男依)

MURAKUNI no Oyori (date of birth unknown - July 676) was a person who lived in the Asuka Period. His first name is also spelled as 雄依 and 小依. It is read as 'MURAKUNI no Woyori' in old Japanese. His hereditary title was Muraji. He achieved the greatest success when he fought for Prince Oama (Emperor Tenmu) during the Jinshin War in 672, serving as a troop leader in Omi area, and won every battle. He received the rank Shoshi after his death.

Murakami clan was a powerful local ruling family in Kakami District, Mino Province. His hereditary title is described as 'Muraji' throughout the "Nihonshoki" (Chronicles of Japan), whereas it simply says 'MURAKUNI no Oyori' in July's article from "Shoku Nihongi" (Chronicle of Japan Continued). Therefore, some suggests that he was only given the title, Muraji, for his great achievements during the Jinshin War. MURAKUNI no Shigamaro was his son.

Great achievements during Jinshin War

It is believed that he worked for Prince Oama as a palace servant. When Prince Oama made the decision to raise an army, Oyori was in Yoshino with him. On June 22, two days before the prince took any action, he sent MUTSUGE no Hiro, MURAKUNI no Oyori, and WANIBE no Kimite to Mino Province. Their task was to convince Yunounagashi, O no Honji who was in Ahamachi District (now known as Anpachi District) at that time to raise his army first. They successfully accomplished their task, and 3,000 troop members from Mino Province closed down Fuwa road for Prince Oama. Oyori rode a horse and returned immediately to report his success to Prince Oama near the public office in Asake District, Ise Province on the 26th. This made it impossible for Emperor Kobun who was near Omi Palace to have any contact with eastern provinces and as a result the military power of East was returned to Prince Oama.

When Prince Oama arrived to Fuwano-seki checkpoint and gained the control of Mino Province and the eastern region, he divided his army into two groups which consisted of tens of thousands of soldiers; one was sent to Wa (Yamato Province) and the other was sent to Omi area. Oyori became the commander-in-chief of the group which headed to Omi area. "Nihonshoki" (Chronicles of Japan) does not specify him as a commander-in-chief, and therefore some scholars believe that it was Prince Takechi who had this role. However, when it mentions about the troop of Omi area later in the book, it only says 'Oyori and others' and does not give any specific names. This was probably to show that Oyori was the most prominent one.

When the troop led by Oyori arrived in Omi Province, they fought against their enemies at the River Yokokawa in Okinaga and defeated them on July 7, killing their Commander-in-Chief SAKABE no Kusuri. On July 9, they defeated and ended the life of the opposition commander-in-chief HATA no Tomotari at Mt. Tokono. On July 13, they captured KOSOHE no Okuchi and HAJI no Chishima and won a great victory in Yasukawa. On July 17, they defeated the army in Kurita District, where the provincial office exists.
They arrived in Seta (Shiga Province), which was very close to Omi-kyo, on July 22 wining every battle
A large army led by Prince Otomo and his retainers encamped on the other side of the Seta Bridge. The troop led by Oyori and others won a difficult battle and occupied the opposite shore of Awazuno-oka. When the Oyomi troop finally killed INUKAI no Ikimi and TANI no Shiote the next day, Prince Otomo committed suicide in Yamamae.

After his achievements

It is stated in the Nihonshoki (Chronicles of Japan) that although there were no specific names given, those with distinctive merits were selected on December 4 and given the title Shosen or higher, and therefore Oyori probably received the same or higher title as well. According to the article of July 21, 701, "Shoku Nihongi" (Chronicle of Japan Continued), it was decided by the former Emperor to give MURAKUNI no Oyori a property of 120 households as a reward. The 120 households Oyori received was the greatest amount. However, despite of his contributions and achievements Oyori was never given an important post in the Imperial Court since he was from a local ruling family.

MURAKUNI no Muraji Oyori died in July, 676. He was given the title of Geshoshi for his contributions during the Jinshin War. Shoshi was a high rank; however, it was only given to those who were not direct descendants of royal families. It is assumed that although their achievements were worth the title, it was not accepted to give the same title as dominant nobilities to someone from a lower ranking family, and therefore the rank 'ge' was created.

On March 8, 716, his son Shiganomaro was given a rice field for the achievements of his father, MURAKUNI no Muraji Oyori.

Oyori's achievements created the path for his descendants like MURAKUNI no Shigamaro to live his life as a lower ranking government official in the Imperial Court. Oyori's grandchildren MURAKUNI no Shimanushi, MURAKUNI no Mushimaro and MURAKUNI no Oi (their relationships to Oyori are unknown) appear as government officials in the Shoku Nihongi (Chronicle of Japan Continued). However, when FUJIWARA no Nakamaro's War broke out, they were accused of being on FUJIWARA no Nakamaro (EMI no Oshikatsu) side, and thus were killed during the war (MURAKUNI no Shimanushi) and were deprived of their court ranks. Although it turned out that they were innocent and their court ranks were returned, this incident led them to their downfall later on.