Yamata no Furutsugu (山田古嗣)

Born in 798 and gone on January 27, 854, YAMATA no Furutsugu was a practical bureaucrat and a noble in the early Heian period. Known as a capable official, he served as Naiki (Secretary of the Ministry of Central Affairs) and Geki (Secretary of the Grand Council of State), and then he assumed the position of provincial governor in various provinces one after another. He was also engaged in the compilation of Nihon Koki (Later Chronicle of Japan).

Biography

Furutsugu's biography was written in his obituary on Nihon Montoku Tenno Jitsuroku (fifth of the six official national history books). The description below comes from the obituary.

He was born in Sakyo of Heian-kyo (the ancient capital of Japan in current Kyoto) as the oldest child of YAMADA no Masuhito who was Echigo no suke (Assistant Provincial Governor of Echigo) and Jugoi (Junior Fifth Rank). He lost her mother in his childhood, so instead, he respected his aunt as if she were his mother. When he was reading a book sometime, he came across the phrase that says, 'As a tree cannot stop a wind though it wants to live in a calm weather, so parents do not wait their child to grow up and take care of themselves,' and he shed tears from regret at his inability to take care of his mother. This is known as a story that shows how dutiful he was to his parents.

When his father died in 821, he showed his sorrow by being in mourning for a period longer than the one laid down according to the rules of manners. In 826, he was appointed to Mutsu no Azechi Kiji (Secretary of Mutsu Province Inspector), and in 828, he was transferred to Shonaiki (Junior Private Secretary). In the next year, he became Shogeki (Junior Secretary), and in 833, he was given the family name of Sukune, and in 834, he was promoted to Daigeki (Senior Secretary). He had an excellent service record, a wide knowledge and was highly capable, so he became relied on as a counsellor of Kugyo (top court officials) and ministers. His involvement at that time in compiling Nihon Koki is proof of his high capability, since a noble could not become involved in compiling a history book unless the noble was a capable official.

In 846, he was appointed to Awa no suke (Assistant Provincial Govenor of Awa). Awa County and Mima County both in Awa Province were always troubled by drought, so he carried out an irrigation project which consisted of digging ponds and irrigation channels, which gained him fame for his benevolent rule and capable governing. Both Uraike in the present Yoshinogawa City (former Donari Town), Tokushima Prefecture, and Furuike in the present Miyoshi City (former Ikeda Town), Tokushima Prefecture, still exist, and were built by Furutsugu, according to folklore.

In 852, he became Sakyo no suke (Assistant Secretary of the Eastern Capital Offices), and in August and September of 853, he was appointed to Sagami no gon no suke (Provisional Assistant Governor of Sagami Province), but resigned from the post because on account of his illness, and in January that year, he died at the age of 56. He was a serious, honest and taciturn person. He was known as quite a dutiful son to his parents, and was also known as a capable official at work whose rule was benevolent.