Okida no Wakaomi (大分稚臣)

OKIDA no Wakaomi is a person who lived during Japan's Asuka Period and died on April 21, 679. His birth date is not known. OKIDA's first name also reads Wakami. In the old Japanese kana syllabary, too, his name reads OKIDA no Wakaomi or Wakami. OKIDA's kabane (hereditary title) was kimi. During the Jinshin War of 672, Okida took side of Oama no Miko (Prince Oama, who later became Emperor Tenmu), and led the Battle of Seta on July 22 to break through the bridge. Okida was later promoted to the rank of Hyoe (palace guard). After his death, Okida was given the quasi-shokinjo (the tenth grade of twenty-six of cap rank).

Key role during the Jinshin War

Okida was from a local ruling family in the Okida County of the Bungo Province. When the Jinshin War broke out, Okida was believed to be in Otsu where Omi no miya was located. For Oama no Miko (Prince Oama), Otsu was the base of his enemy, but his two sons, Princes Takechi and Otsu lived there. On June 24, Okida no Esaka was dispatched from Yoshino to inform two Princes that they should escape Otsu and meet their father in the Ise Province. Two princes took separate routes and rushed to the Ise Province, while OKIDA no Wakaomi joined the group of Prince Otsu with Okida no Esaka. Prince Takechi met his father around noon on the 25th, while Prince Otsu met him next morning.

Later, the troops of Prince Oama, assembled in the Province of Mino, were divided into two: one heading straight for the Province of Omi, and the other for the support of the Province of Yamato. OKIDA no Wakaomi joined the troops going to the Province of Omi. This troop, led by MURAKUNI no Oyori, won battle after battle since July 7, and reached Seta on 22nd of the month. In the view of topography, Seta-gawa River is the last line of defence in protecting the Omi no miya, and Prince Otomo (later becoming Emperor Kobun) led a crowd of his retainers and fought the battle.

The focal point of the battle was a bridge in Seta. Chison, the spearhead commander of the Omi side troops, set a trap at the Seta bridge by cutting off in the middle of the bridge by around 9 m, placing long wood boards with ropes to pull when enemy solders walk over so that they would fall off the bridge. Due to the trap, the troops of Prince Omi could not cross the bridge. OKIDA no Wakaomi threw his long pike away, put on another set of armor, drew his sword and dashed over the trap. Okida cut off the rope from the trap, and entered the enemy camp amid the shooting of arrows. Soldiers of the Omi troops hastily dispersed, and the outcome of the Jinshin War was settled.

A meritorious retainer's later life

According to "Nihonshoki" (Chronicles of Japan), on December 4, those who with deeds of valor were selected and promoted to a shosen (cap rank) or upper rank. OKIDA no Wakaomi is believed to have received the same or higher rank.

By an obituary article which appears later, it was confirmed that OKIDA no Wakaomi worked as Hyoe (an palace guard). Under the ritsuryo system established later, Hyoe was a soldier of Hyoefu (Headquarters of the Middle Palace Guards), which was a moderate rank for young people of powerful local clans. The position within the soldier system at that time may slightly different from those of later periods, but Hyoe was assigned to protect the imperial palace.

On March 6, 679, Hyoe OKIDA no Kimi Wakami died. In honor of his contribution at the battle of Seta in the Jinshin War, Okida was commended and promoted to the quasi-shokinjo (the tenth grade of twenty-six of cap rank). Shokinjo was a high rank, but the one Okida was provided was 'gei' (a quasi-rank). It is thought that the promotion was a compromise between an intention to appreciate the contributions of Wakaomi and a resistance in promoting a retainer who was not from the dominant nobility in the capital.