Today I want to touch again a little bit of Japanese history nad I want to introduce to you Yamatai. If you are like me a fan of games and like Tomb rider series you could notice the one game’s story was about the state Yamatai (Tomb Raider 2013).
And I thought it is a really interresting subject to explain and go thourgh.
Yamatai (Yamatai-koku (邪馬台国) or Yamaichi-koku (邪馬壹國) ) is a namefor sino-japanese country around the late Yayoi period (300 BC–300 AD).
Records about the state Yamatai and queen Himiko appears solely in Chinese chronivles and sources. There is no sign written about Yamatai or Himiko in japanese texts from this time. Yamatai is surrounded by mysteries and many generations of Japanese historians and archeologist have argued where the state of Yamatai was located at the end they agreed it is around the location of Yamato Province (red spot on map). The base for finding the locat find where the Yamatai realm was located was records of a chinese historian Chen Shou (233 – 297). And in chinese oldestare the Chinese official historical books (covering a period from 3000 BC to the Ming dynasty in the 17th century) you can find a first sign of state Yamatai in the text Records of the Three kingdoms, which covers the history of late Eastern Han dynasty but these texts are really important for research about history of Japan and Yamatai itself for its volume on Wa is the first historical document to make explicit mention of Japan.
It describes the ancient country of Yamatai and its queen Himiko.
“In the middle of the Lo-lang sea there are the Wa people. They are subdivided into more than a hundred ‘countries’ [called communities in some translations]. Depending on the season they come and offer tribute”.
-description of Japanese people (ca. 432 CE Hou Han Shu)
Himiko by survey of Japanese ministry of education and science more than 90% of Japanese schoolchildren recognize and can identify this woman. But who was this Himiko and why is she important? Himiko is in fact the first named and confirmed person in Japanese history. Most people who lived till the 3rd century lived and died unknowed for the history no matter their importance.
Himiko was a shaman queen of Yamatai. She was well known for chinese because her goverment had sent a diplomatic missions with tribute to China and so was the Himiko recognized as the ruler of Wa and friend of Wei.
Because of Himiko’s role of of a shaman priestess, prophetess or perhaps, a pre-eminent shrine maiden she had an access to talk with gods which was the main key for a power in her times. Covered in a mystery queen Himiko ruled the kingdoms using sorcery and magic. She was seldom seen in public and was attended by “one thousand attendants, but only one man” and she remained unmarried for her whole life.
Yamatai kingdom prospered under Queen Himiko’s rule and was observed in the Gishi no Wajinden records to have had more than seventy thousand households, well-organized laws and taxation system and thriving trade. Her people were noted to have been mainly gentle and peace-loving. People loved Himiko so much so when she died they have composed a large burial mount (about 100m in diametres) and one thousand female and male attendants were sacrificed for burial along with their queen.
After her death a man who took her place was assassinated and after his assassination were thousand of people slaved and the peace returned when the 13 year old Iyo, related to Himiko, sat on the throne (probabably one of her attendants).
In life Himiko was a religious and political leader. In death she’s become just about everything else. As a historical figure, she’s turned out to be remarkably pliable, probably because so little is known about her and the little that is known about her creates such fertile soil for the imagination. As a result, she’s been repurposed and repackaged in all sorts of ways.
Hashihaka tomb may be Queen Himiko’s
Archaeologists have discovered a late 3rd century tomb mound in Sakurai, Nara Prefecture, that may cast new light on its long history, which includes possible connections to a mysterious ancient kingdom.
According to the board, the ditch is located about 60 meters from the mound and runs parallel to its western side. The ditch is reportedly eight meters long and up to 1.3 meters deep. The tomb mound is located in the remains of Makimuku, a city thought to have existed early in the Yamato dynasty, location of the previous state Yamatai.