The Emishi or Ebisu (蝦夷) constituted an ethnic group of people who lived in northeastern Honshū in the Tōhoku region which was referred to as michi no oku (道の奥) in contemporary sources. The first mention of them in literature dates to AD 400, in which they are mentioned as "the hairy people" from the Chinese records. Some Emishi tribes resisted the rule of the Japanese Emperors during the late Nara and early Heian periods (7th–10th centuries AD).

The origin of the Emishi is currently disputed. They are often thought to have descended from some tribes of the Jōmon people. Some historians believe that they were related to the Ainu people, but others disagree with this theory.[1]

Emishi from an emaki circa 1324
Emishi paying homage to Prince Shotoku. Produced in 1324, based on Shotokutaishi e-den e-maki, made in 1069.
Region of originJapan
from Namio, Egami, et al., Ainu to kodai Nippon. Japan: Shogakukan, 1982, p. 92.


The Emishi were represented by different tribes, some of whom became allies of the Japanese (fushu, ifu) and others of whom remained hostile (iteki).[2] The Emishi in northeastern Honshū relied on their horses in warfare. They developed a unique style of warfare in which horse archery and hit-and-run tactics proved very effective against the slower contemporary Japanese imperial army that mostly relied on heavy infantry. Their livelihood was based on hunting and gathering as well as on the cultivation of grains such as millet and barley. Recently, it has been thought that they practiced rice cultivation in areas where rice could be easily grown. The first major attempts to subjugate the Emishi in the 8th century were largely unsuccessful. The imperial armies, which were modeled after the mainland Chinese armies, were no match for the guerrilla tactics of the Emishi.[3]

It was the development of horse archery and the adoption of Emishi tactics by the early Japanese warriors that led to the Emishi defeat. The success of the gradual change in battle tactics came at the very end of the 8th century in the 790s under the command of the general Sakanoue no Tamuramaro.[4] They either submitted themselves to imperial authority as fushu and ifu or migrated further north, some to Hokkaidō. By the mid-9th century, most of their land in Honshū was conquered, and they ceased to be independent. However, they continued to be influential in local politics as subjugated, though powerful, Emishi families created semi-autonomous feudal domains in the north. In the two centuries following the conquest, a few of these domains became regional states that came into conflict with the central government.

They are described in the Nihon Shoki in the following way:

Amongst these Eastern savages the Yemishi are the most powerful, their men and women live together promiscuously, there is no distinction of father and child. In winter they dwell in holes, in summer they live in nests. Their clothing consists of furs, and they drink blood. Brothers are suspicious of one another. In ascending mountains they are like flying birds; in going through the grass they are like fleet quadrupeds. When they receive a favour, they forget it, but if an injury is done them they never fail to revenge it. Therefore they keep arrows in their top-knots and carry swords within their clothing. Sometimes they draw together their fellows and make inroads on the frontier. At other times they take the opportunity of the harvest to plunder the people. If attacked, they conceal themselves in the herbage; if pursued, they flee into the mountains. Therefore ever since antiquity they have not been steeped in the kingly civilizing influences.[5]


The record of Emperor Jimmu in the Nihon Shoki mentions the "Emishi" (愛瀰詩) with ateji—whom his armed forces defeated before he was enthroned as the Emperor of Japan.[6] According to Nihon Shoki, Takenouchi no Sukune in the era of Emperor Keikō proposed that they should subjugate Emishi (蝦夷) of Hitakami no Kuni (日高見国) in eastern Japan[1][6]. The first mention of Emishi from a source outside Japan was in the Chinese Book of Song in 478 which referred to them as "hairy people" (毛人). The book refers to "the 55 kingdoms (国) of the hairy people (毛人) of the East" as a report by King Bu—one of the Five kings of Wa.

Most likely by the 7th century AD, the Japanese used this kanji to describe these people, but changed the reading from kebito or mōjin to Emishi. Furthermore, during the same century, the kanji character was changed to 蝦夷, which is composed of the kanji for "shrimp" and for "barbarian". This is thought to refer to the long whiskers of a shrimp; however, this is not certain. The barbarian aspect clearly described an outsider, living beyond the border of the emerging empire of Japan, which saw itself as a civilizing influence; thus, the empire was able to justify its conquest. This kanji was first seen in the T'ang sources that describe the meeting with the two Emishi that the Japanese envoy brought with him to China (see below). The kanji character may have been adopted from China, but the reading "Ebisu" and "Emishi" were Japanese in origin and most likely came from either the Japanese "yumishi" which means bowman (their main weapon) or "emushi" which is sword in the Ainu tongue.[7]

Other origins—such as the word enchiu for "man" in the Ainu tongue—have been proposed. However, the way it sounds is almost phonetically identical to emushi so it may most likely have had an Ainoid origin. "Ainoid" distinguishes the people who are related to, or who are ancestors of, the Ainu, who first emerge as "Ezo" in Hokkaido in the Kamakura period and then become known as Ainu in the modern period.

Battles with Yamato army

The Nihon Shoki's entry for Emperor Yūryaku, also known as Ohatsuse no Wakatakeru, records an uprising, after the Emperor's death, of Emishi troops who had been levied to support an expedition to Korea. Emperor Yūryaku is suspected to be King Bu, but the date and the existence of Yūryaku are uncertain, and the Korean reference may be anachronistic. However, the compilers clearly felt that the reference to Emishi troops was credible in this context.

In 658, Abe no Hirafu's naval expedition of 180 ships reaches Aguta (present day Akita) and Watarishima (Hokkaidō). An alliance with Aguta Emishi, Tsugaru Emishi and Watarishima Emishi was formed by Abe who then stormed and defeated a settlement of Mishihase (Su-shen in the Aston translation of the Nihongi) a people of unknown origin. This is one of the earliest reliable records of the Emishi people extant. The Mishihase may have been another ethnic group who competed with the ancestors of the Ainu for Hokkaidō. The expedition happens to be the furthest northern penetration of the Japanese Imperial army until the 16th century, and that later settlement was from a local Japanese warlord who was independent of any central control.[8][9]

In 709, the fort of Ideha was created close to present day Akita. This was a bold move since the intervening territory between Akita and the northwestern countries of Japan was not under government control. The Emishi of Akita in alliance with Michinoku attacked Japanese settlements in response. Saeki no Iwayu was appointed Sei Echigo Emishi shōgun. He used 100 ships from the Japan sea side countries along with soldiers recruited from the eastern countries and defeated the Echigo (present day Akita) Emishi.[10]

In 724, Taga Fort was built by Ōno no Omi Azumahito near present-day Sendai and became the largest administrative fort in the northeast region of Michinoku. As Chinju shōgun he steadily built forts across the Sendai plain and into the interior mountains in what is now Yamagata Prefecture. Guerilla warfare was practiced by the horse riding Emishi who kept up pressure on these forts, but Emishi allies ifu and fushu were also recruited and promoted by the Japanese to fight against their kinsmen.

In 758, after a long period of stalemate, the Japanese army under Fujiwara no Asakari penetrated into what is now northern Miyagi Prefecture, and established Momonofu Castle on the Kitakami River. The fort was built despite constant attacks by the Emishi of Isawa (present-day southern Iwate prefecture).

Thirty-Eight Years' War

Monument to Aterui and More2
The monument for commending Aterui and More at Kiyomizu-dera in Kyoto

773 AD marked the beginning of the Thirty-Eight Years' War (三十八年戦争) with the defection of Korehari no Azamaro, a high-ranking Emishi officer of the Japanese army based in Taga Castle. The Emishi counterattacked along a broad front starting with Momonohu Castle, destroying the garrison there before going on to destroy a number of forts along a defensive line from east to west established painstakingly over the past generation. Even Taga Castle was not spared. Large Japanese forces were recruited, numbering in the thousands, the largest forces perhaps ten to twenty thousand strong fighting against an Emishi force that numbered at most around three thousand warriors, and at any one place around a thousand. In 776 a huge army of over 20,000 men was sent to attack the Shiwa Emishi, but failed to destroy the enemy who then successfully counterattacked their cumbersome foes in the Ōu Mountains. In 780 the Emishi attacked the Sendai plain, torching Japanese villages there. The Japanese were in a near panic as they tried to tax and recruit more soldiers from the Bandō.[11]

In the 789 AD Battle of Koromo River (also known as Battle of Sufuse) the Japanese army under Ki no Kosami Seito shōgun was defeated by the Isawa Emishi under their general Aterui. A four thousand-strong army was attacked as they tried to cross the Kitakami River by a force of a thousand Emishi. The imperial army suffered its most stunning defeat, losing a thousand men, many of whom drowned.

In 794, many key Shiwa Emishi including Isawa no kimi Anushiko of what is now northern Miyagi Prefecture became allies of the Japanese. This was a stunning reversal to the aspirations of those Emishi who still fought against the Japanese. The Shiwa Emishi were a very powerful group and were able to attack smaller Emishi groups successfully as their leaders were promoted into imperial rank. This had the effect of isolating one of the most powerful and independent Emishi, the Isawa confederation. The newly appointed shōgun general, Sakanoue no Tamuramaro, then attacked the Isawa Emishi, relentlessly using soldiers trained in horse archery. The result was a desultory campaign that eventually led to Aterui's surrender in 802. The war was mostly over and many Emishi groups submitted themselves to the imperial government. However, skirmishes still took place and it was not until 811 that the so-called Thirty-Eight Years' War was over.[12] North of the Kitakami River, the Emishi were still independent, but the large scale threat that they posed ceased with the defeat of the Isawa Emishi in 802.

Abe clan, Kiyohara clan and Northern Fujiwara

After their conquest, some Emishi leaders became part of the regional framework of government in the Tōhoku culminating with the Northern Fujiwara regime. This regime and others such as the Abe and Kiyohara were created by local Japanese gōzoku and became regional semi-independent states based on the Emishi and Japanese people. However, even before these emerged, the Emishi people progressively lost their distinct culture and ethnicity as they became minorities.

The Northern Fujiwara were thought to have been Emishi, but there is some doubt as to the lineage of them, and if they were descended from local Japanese families who resided in the Tōhoku (unrelated to the Fujiwara of Kyoto) then the study would confirm this. Both the Abe and Kiyohara families were almost certainly of Japanese descent, both of whom represented gōzoku, powerful families who had moved into the provinces of Mutsu and Dewa perhaps during the ninth century though when they emigrated is not known for certain. They were likely a Japanese frontier family who developed regional ties with the descendants of the Emishi fushu, and may have been seen as fushu themselves since they had lived in the region for several generations.

Soon after World War II, mummies of the Northern Fujiwara family in Hiraizumi (the capital city of the Northern Fujiwara), hence thought to have been related to the Ainu, were studied by scientists. However, the researchers concluded that the rulers of Hiraizumi were like other Japanese of the time, and certainly not related to the ethnic Ainu.[13] This was seen as evidence that the Emishi were not related to the Ainu. This had the effect of popularizing the idea that the Emishi were like other contemporary ethnic Japanese who lived in northeast Japan, outside of Yamato rule.

Minamoto no Yoritomo, a descendant of Emperor Seiwa, finally defeated the Northern Fujiwara in 1189 and established the Kamakura shogunate in 1192.

Ethnic relations

Emishi–Ainu theory

This theory suggests that Emishi are related to the Ainu. Some suggest that Emishi is a synonym for Ainu and thus they are one and the same people. Many Emishi tribes were known as excellent horse archers and warriors. The Ainu are also known as archers and several historians support a direct link between the Ainu and the Emishi.[1][14]

Other theories

There is a theory that the Emishi spoke the "Zūzū dialect" (the ancestor of Tōhoku dialect) and are a different ethnic group from the Ainu and early Yamato.[15] Especially from the similarity of Tōhoku dialect and Izumo dialect, it is suggested that some of the Izumo people who did not obey Yamato royalty after the delegation of governance and escaped to the Tōhoku region and became Emishi.[16][17]

Relationship to the Jōmon & Ainu

Recent scholarship has created a much more complicated portrait of this people.

The Emishi appear to have been united by a common "Ainoid" language, albeit one that represented a development parallel to Ainu proper. By comparison, the speakers of the Ainu language are seen as descendants of both the indigenous Jōmon and subsequent Yayoi settlers. Ainu speakers have inherited a rich and separate culture that went back several millennia before proto-Japanese speakers arrived in the islands that became Japan; their ancestors were also challengers to the nascent Japanese state.

In the study of Jōmon skeletal remains dating from thousands of years ago, a direct connection with the modern Ainu was confirmed, showing a definite linkage between the two groups. This linkage however, shows that the Jōmon people were very different from both modern Japanese and other modern East Asians. The physical appearance of a number of the Ainu who were first encountered by the Europeans in the 19th century were similar to Caucasians, and thus caused quite a stir among contemporary academics, and has spurred debate about their origins. It is thus surmised that the Jōmon also were physically unlike other East Asians. That said, physical anthropologists have found that diachronically, and geographically, the skeletal structure of the Jōmon population changed over time from southwest to northeast, paralleling the actual migration of Japanese speakers historically, so that more Jōmon traits are preserved in the north.

Studies of skeletal remains from larger settlements in the Tōhoku –corresponding to places where burial mounds (kofun) were built – suggest that the Emishi had physical traits that were midway between present-day Ainu and other Japanese. Hence the Emishi may have descended from both an Ainu-like population and so-called "kofun people", who were not a distinct or genetic/ethnic group, but a mixture of both Jōmon and the more recent groups identified with the Yayoi culture. This dovetails with the so-called "transformation theory", that native Jōmon peoples changed gradually with the infusion of Yayoi immigrants into the Tōhoku, rather than the "replacement theory", which posits that the Jōmon were entirely replaced by Yayoi.[18]

These two populations were not distinguished by contemporaries, but rather by present-day physical anthropologists. Historically, they were seen as one group by contemporaries, mainly those who were descendants of the natives (the Jōmon) called Emishi and Ebisu who also had in their population those of mixed ethnicity, most likely descendants of early Japanese colonists. In addition, the contemporary Japanese for their part looked upon the Emishi as foreigners and barbarians whose lands they desired to conquer and incorporate into the Japanese state. However mummies of the Northern Fujiwara family studied by scientists showed rulers of the Emishi Hiraizumi were physically like the other Japanese rather than Ainu.[19] This was seen as evidence that they were like other contemporary ethnic Japanese who lived in northeast Japan, outside of Yamato rule.

Though it is not known how much the Emishi population changed as Japanese settlers and frontiersmen began to live in their territories even before the conquest, the existence of Emishi Kofun types attests to some form of ethnic mixing. The Japanese established trading relations with the Emishi by which their horses were imported and iron tools and weapons exported to their territories. To complicate matters, some ethnic Japanese allied themselves with the Emishi in their wars against the Yamato court. The latter were known in the Nihon Shoki as "Japanese captives" of the Emishi.

The people who migrated to the northern tip of Honshū and Hokkaidō region retained their identity and their separate ethnicity, and their descendants eventually formed the Satsumon culture in Hokkaidō. Historically, they became a distinctly different population from those who were conquered and integrated into the Japanese state. The Emishi (not including them) became more like other ethnic Japanese while the Hokkaidō Emishi, known by contemporaries as Watarishima Emishi, or "Emishi who crossed to the island", eventually became known as the Ezo, and later in the modern period the Ainu.

Envoys to the Tang court

The evidence that the Emishi were also related to the Ainu comes from historical documents. One of the best sources of information comes from both inside and outside Japan, from contemporary Tang- and Song-dynasty histories as these describe dealings with Japan, and from the Shoku Nihongi. For example, there is a record of the arrival of the Japanese foreign minister in AD 659 in which conversation is recorded with the Tang Emperor. In this conversation we have perhaps the most accurate picture of the Emishi recorded for that time period. This episode is repeated in the Shoku Nihongi in the following manner:

Two Emishi, a man and woman, from contemporary Tōhoku accompanied the minister Sakaibe no Muraji to Tang China. The emperor was delighted with the two Emishi because of their "strange" physical appearance. This emperor was most likely the Emperor Tang Taizong who was familiar with many ethnic groups throughout his Empire, from Uyghurs and Turks to Middle Eastern traders. The Japanese envoy for his part describes the contemporary relationship with the various Emishi: those who had allied themselves with the Yamato court (known as 和蝦夷 niki-emishi, i.e. "gentle Emishi"), those who remained as enemies staunchly opposed to Yamato (known as 荒蝦夷 ara-emishi, i.e. "rough Emishi" or "wild Emishi"), and the distant Tsugaru Emishi (located in present-day northern Aomori and in southern Hokkaidō). All Chinese documents from the Tang and Song refer to them as having a separate state north of Japan and call them 毛人 (Mandarin máo rén, Sino-Japanese mōjin, "hairy people"). This is also corroborated in the Shoku Nihongi, in which they are described consistently as having long beards and as kebito, or "hairy people", characteristics that have been used to describe the Ainu in the modern period. These same kanji characters were read as "emishi" before the Nara period.

In popular culture


  1. ^ a b c Aston, W.G., trans. Nihongi: Chronicles of Japan from the Earliest Times to AD 697. Tokyo: Charles E.Tuttle Co., 1972 (reprint of two volume 1924 edition), VII 18. Takahashi, Tomio. "Hitakami." In Egami, Namio ed. Ainu to Kodai Nippon. Tokyo: Shogakukan, 1982.
  2. ^ Takahashi, pp. 110–113.
  3. ^ Farris, William Wayne, Heavenly Warriors (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1992), p. 117.
  4. ^ Farris, pp. 94–95, 108–113.
  5. ^ Nihongi: Chronicles of Japan from the Earliest Times to A.D. 697, Volume 1.
  6. ^ a b "Archived copy" 朝廷軍の侵略に抵抗 (in Japanese). Iwate Nippo. September 24, 2004. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved March 1, 2011.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ Takahashi, Takashi, 蝦夷 (Emishi) (Tokyo: Chuo koron, 1986), pp.22–27. Good discussion on the possible origins of the name.
  8. ^ Aston, W. G. trans. Nihongi (Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle), pp. 252, 260, 264.
  9. ^ Nakanishi, Susumu, エミシとは何か (Emishi to wa nanika), (Tokyo:Kadokawa shoten,1993), pp. 134–140. Modern analysis of the expedition.
  10. ^ Farris, p.86. Farris's account does not have all the details, but is a readily available source for the war's chronology in English.
  11. ^ Farris, pp. 90–96.
  12. ^ Takahashi, pp. 168–196. Very detailed analysis of the end of the war and the effects on the former Emishi territory.
  13. ^ Farris, p.83.
  14. ^ Hubbard, Ben (2016-12-15). Samurai Warriors. Cavendish Square Publishing, LLC. ISBN 9781502624598.
  15. ^ 小泉保(1998)『縄文語の発見』青土社 (in Japanese)
  16. ^ 高橋克彦(2013)『東北・蝦夷の魂』現代書館 (in Japanese)
  17. ^ 『古代に真実を求めて 第七集(古田史学論集)』2004年、古田史学の会(編集) (in Japanese)
  18. ^ Ossenberg, Nancy (see reference) has the best evidence of this relationship with the Jōmon. Also, a newer study, Ossenberg, et al., "Ethnogenesis and craniofacial change in Japan from the perspective of nonmetric traits" (Anthropological Science v.114:99-115) is an updated analysis published in 2006 which confirms this finding.
  19. ^ Farris, p.83.
  20. ^ https://www.researchgate.net/publication/311680710_Japanese_Mythology_in_Film_A_Semiotic_Approach_to_Reading_Japanese_Film_and_Anime_Paperback


  • Aston, W. G. Nihongi: Chronicles of Japan from Earliest Times to A.D. 697. London: Kegan Paul, 1924. Originally published in 1896. The standard English translation of the ancient Japanese compilation known as the Shoku Nihongi.
  • Farris, William Wayne. Heavenly Warriors: The Evolution of Japan's Military: 500–1300. Harvard: Harvard University Press, 1996. ISBN 978-0-674-38703-4, ISBN 978-0-674-38704-1.
  • Nagaoka, Osamu. 古代東国物語 (Kodai Tōgoku Monogatari). Tokyo: Kadokawa Shoten, 1986. For readers of Japanese, a detailed account of the campaign against Aterui. ISBN 978-4-04-703170-8.
  • Nakanishi, Susumu. エミシとは何か: 古代東アジアと北方日本 (Emishi to wa nani ka: kodai higashiajia to hoppō nihon). Tokyo: Kadokawa Shoten, 1993. Japanese source that conducted a study of the skeletal remains of persons who lived in the Tōhoku region both during the Jōmon and Yayoi periods. Limited coverage of skeletal remains of the historical period, but covers the history. ISBN 978-4-04-703247-7.
  • Ossenberg, Nancy S., "Isolate Conservatism and Hybridization in the Population History of Japan" in Akazawa, T. and C. M. Aikens, eds., Prehistoric Hunter Gatherers in Japan: New Research Methods. Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press, 1986. ISBN 978-0-86008-395-5.
  • Takahashi, Takashi. 蝦夷: 古代東北人の歴史 (Emishi: kodai Tōhokujin no rekishi). Tokyo: Chūō Kōronsha, 1986. ISBN 978-4-12-100804-6.

External links

Abe no Yoritoki

Abe no Yoritoki (安倍頼時) (died 28 August 1057) was the head of the Abe clan of Emishi who were allowed to rule the six Emishi districts (Iwate, Hienuki, Shiwa, Isawa, Esashi and Waga) in the Kitakami Basin from Morioka to Hiraizumi in what is now Iwate Prefecture.


Aterui (アテルイ, 阿弖流爲) (died 21, AD 802 in Enryaku) was the most prominent chief of the Isawa (胆沢) band of Emishi in northern Japan. The Emishi were an indigenous people of North Japan, who were considered hirsute barbarians by the Yamato Japanese.


Ezo (蝦夷, also spelled Yezo or Yeso) is a Japanese name which historically referred to the lands to the north of the Japanese island of Honshu. It included the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido which changed its name from Ezo to Hokkaido in 1869 and sometimes included Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands.

The same two kanji used to write the word "Ezo" can also be read as Emishi "shrimp barbarians", the name given to the people who the Japanese encountered in these lands. Their descendants are suspected to be the Ainu people.

Fujiwara no Kiyohira

Fujiwara no Kiyohira (藤原 清衡, 1056 – August 10, 1128) was a samurai of mixed Japanese-Emishi parentage of the late Heian period (794–1185), who was the founder of the Hiraizumi or Northern Fujiwara dynasty that ruled Northern Japan from about 1100 to 1189.

Hi Izuru Tokoro no Tenshi

Hi Izuru Tokoro no Tenshi (Japanese: 日出処の天子, "Emperor of the Land of the Rising Sun") is a Japanese manga written and illustrated by Ryoko Yamagishi. It tells a fictionalised account of Prince Shōtoku, a political figure of sixth-century Japan who spread Buddhism, and his unrequited love for Soga no Emishi, which is very unlike the traditionally known stories of these people. It was serialized in Hakusensha's LaLa from 1980 to 1984. The individual chapters were published in 11 tankōbon under the Hana to Yume Comics imprint, which were released between 1981 and 1984. Hi Izuru Tokoro no Tenshi received the 1983 Kodansha Manga Award for the shōjo category.

Iwate Prefecture

Iwate Prefecture (岩手県, Iwate-ken) is a prefecture in the Tōhoku region of Japan. Located on the main island of Honshu, it contains the island's easternmost point. The capital is Morioka. Iwate has the lowest population density of any prefecture outside Hokkaido. Famous attractions include the Buddhist temples of Hiraizumi, including Chūson-ji and Mōtsū-ji with their treasures, Fujiwara no Sato, a movie lot and theme park in Esashi Ward, Oshu City, Tenshochi, a park in Kitakami City known for its big, old cherry trees and Morioka Castle in Morioka City.


Kokki (国記), alternatively known as Kuni tsu Fumi meaning "National Record", is a historical text purported to have been written in 620 by Shōtoku Taishi and Soga no Umako. It is recorded in the Nihon Shoki, but there are no known extant copies. Assuming that it did in fact exist, it would predate both the Kojiki (712) and the Nihon Shoki (720).

According to the Nihon Shoki, On this year, Hitsugi no Miko and Shima no Ōomi worked together on Tennōki and Kokki, composing the true history of the various court nobles.

During the Isshi Incident in 645, the residence of Soga no Emishi (a successor of Soga no Umako) was burned down. The Nihon Shoki records that the Kokki burned along with the Tennōki, but the Kokki was saved before being destroyed.On the thirteenth day as Soga no Emishi was about to be killed, flames burned the Tennōki, Kokki, and treasures. Fune no Fubitoesaka quickly grabbed the burning Kokki and presented it to Naka no Ōe.

However, this copy or its remains did not apparently survive.

On November 13, 2005, the remains of Soga no Iruka's residence were discovered in Nara, supporting the description found in Nihon Shoki. Researchers speculate whether parts of the Tennōki or Kokki may be found.

Kurihara District, Miyagi

Kurihara District (栗原郡, Kurihara-gun) was a district in Japan belonging to Mutsu Province (currently to Miyagi Prefecture). Established in the 8th century as Korehari or Koreharu District (伊治郡) and abolished in 2005, the territory is identical to the city of Kurihara today.

Kurihara was established as Korehari in the 8th century as a frontier district of the Mutsu Province. At that time, Korehari was the northern limit of the Japanese dominance at the pacific side of the region. Ancient Japan had continued conquest wars against Emishi. One time in 780 the district head and an Emishi officer in Japanese army, Korehari no Azamaro, revolted at the Korehari Castle and killed the governor of the Tohoku area. Much later Korehari had its name changed to Kurihara.

The district occupied the northwest part of the Sendai Plain. The population had enjoyed fertile land for rice cultivation. In addition, Kurihara has a relatively peaceful history with few if any warloads hailing from the district. The Date clan had ruled it from Sendai during the Edo period. Kurihara was incorporated into Miyagi Prefecture after the Meiji restoration.

List of wars involving Japan

This is a list of wars involving Japan.

Mitsuaki Madono

Mitsuaki Madono (真殿 光昭, Madono Mitsuaki, born on July 28, 1964) is a Japanese voice actor who was born in Osaka, Japan. He's known for voicing characters who are jokers, but sometimes hide a more insidious nature such as Emishi Haruki in GetBackers, Loki in Valkyrie Profile, Joker in Flame of Recca, and Kōtarō Yanagisawa in Assassination Classroom.

Northern Fujiwara

The Northern Fujiwara (奥州藤原氏 Ōshū Fujiwara-shi) were a Japanese noble family that ruled the Tōhoku region (the northeast of Honshū) of Japan during the 12th century as their own realm. They succeeded the semi-independent Emishi families of the 11th century who were gradually brought down by the Minamoto clan loyal to the Imperial Court in Kyoto. Ultimately they were conquered by the Kantō samurai clans led by Minamoto no Yoritomo.

During the 12th century, at the zenith of their rule, they attracted a number of artisans from Kyoto and created a capital city, Hiraizumi, in what is now Iwate Prefecture. They ruled over an independent region that derived its wealth from gold mining, horse trading and as middlemen in the trade in luxury items from continental Asian states and from the far northern Emishi and Ainu people. They were able to keep their independence vis-a-vis Kyoto by the strength of their warrior bands until they were overwhelmed by Minamoto no Yoritomo in 1189.

Below is a family tree of the Fujiwaras who show up most frequently in historical accounts.

*a.k.a. Izumi (no) Saburo

(Adopted kin are not shown.)

Sakanoue no Tamuramaro

Sakanoue no Tamuramaro (坂上 田村麻呂, 758 – June 17, 811) was a general and shōgun of the early Heian period of Japan. He was the son of Sakanoue no Karitamaro.

Satsumon culture

The Satsumon culture (擦文文化, Satsumon Bunka) is a post-Jōmon, partially agricultural, archeological culture of northern Honshu and southern Hokkaido (700–1200 CE) that has been identified as the Emishi, as a Japanese-Emishi mixed culture, as the incipient modern Ainu, or with all three synonymously. It may have arisen as a merger of the Yayoi–Kofun and the Jōmon cultures. The Satsumon culture appears to have spread from northern Honshu into Hokkaido, Sakhalin, the Kuril Islands, and southern Kamchatka, merging with or displacing the Okhotsk culture in those areas.

Soga clan

The Soga clan (Japanese: 蘇我氏, Hepburn: Soga uji) was one of the most powerful clans of the Asuka period of the early Japanese state—the Yamato polity—and played a major role in the spread of Buddhism. Through the 5th and 7th centuries, the Soga monopolized the kabane or hereditary rank of Great Omi and was the first of many families to dominate the Imperial House of Japan by influencing the order of succession and government policy.

The last Soga predates any historical work in Japan, and very little is known about its earliest members.

Soga no Emishi

Soga no Emishi (蘇我 蝦夷, 587 – July 11, 645) was a statesman of the Yamato Imperial Court. His alternative names include Emishi (毛人) and Toyora no Ōomi (豊浦大臣). After the death of his father Soga no Umako, Emishi took over Ōomi , the Minister of State, from his father.

According to the Nihonshoki, from the end of the reign of Empress Suiko to that of Empress Kōgyoku, Emishi enjoyed influence in the court. After the death of Empress Suiko, Emishi succeeded in installing Prince Tamura on the throne as Emperor Jomei by citing the will of Empress Suiko. Although Prince Yamashiro was another candidate, Emishi murdered Sakaibe no Marise, his uncle who nominated Oe no Ou, paving the way for his favorite. After the discernment of Emperor Jomei, Emishi supported Empress Kōgyoku.

His daughter, Soga no Tetsuki no Iratsume, was a wife of Emperor Jomei and bore Emperor Jomei one daughter Princess Yata.

In 645, when his son Iruka was murdered in front of the Empress, Emishi committed suicide the next day.

Soga no Iruka

Soga no Iruka (蘇我 入鹿, died July 10, 645) was the son of Soga no Emishi, a statesman in the Asuka Period of Japan.

He was a son of Soga no Emishi. He was assassinated at court in a coup d'état involving Nakatomi no Kamatari and Prince Naka-no-Ōe (see: Isshi Incident), who accused him of trying to murder Prince Yamashiro, a charge which Soga no Iruka denied. Soga no Emishi also committed suicide soon after his son's death, and the main branch of the Soga clan became extinct. Prince Naka-no-Oe later ascended the throne as Emperor Tenji, and Nakatomi no Kamatari was promoted and given the name Fujiwara no Kamatari.

Taga Castle

Taga Castle (多賀城, Tagajō ato) is the site of a Nara period jōsaku-style Japanese castle in what is now part of the town of Tagajō in Miyagi prefecture in the Tōhoku region of far northern Honshu, Japan. Bashō tells of his visit to the site in Oku no Hosomichi. The ruins of Taga-jō and its former temple have been designated a Special Historic Site (特別史跡).


Tennōki (天皇記), alternatively known as Sumera Mikoto no Fumi, is a historical text purported to have been written in 620 by Shōtoku Taishi and Soga no Umako. It is recorded in the Nihon Shoki, but no extant copies are known to exist.

According to the Nihon Shoki, On this year, Hitsugi no Miko and Shima no Ōomi worked together on Tennōki and Kokki, composing the true history of the various court nobles.

During the Isshi Incident in 645, the residence of Soga no Emishi (a successor of Soga no Umako) was burned down. The Nihon Shoki records that the Kokki burned along with the Tennōki, but only the Kokki was saved.On the thirteenth day as Soga no Emishi was about to be killed, flames burned the Tennōki, Kokki, and treasures. Fune no Fubitoesaka quickly grabbed the burning Kokki and presented it to Naka no Ōe.

In 2005, the remains of a building which may have been Soga no Iruka's residence were discovered in Nara. This discovery is consistent with the description found in Nihon Shoki.

Ōshū, Iwate

Ōshū (奥州市, Ōshū-shi) is a city located in Iwate Prefecture, Japan. As of 1 June 2019, the city had an estimated population of 114,521, and a population density of 115 persons per km² in 44,924 households. The total area of the city is 993.30 square kilometres (383.52 sq mi). Ōshū is famous for its Maesawa Beef, numerous festivals, historic temples and shrines and Fujiwara no Sato, a theme park and movie lot based on the exploits of the Northern Fujiwaras in the 12th century. Many famous people have claimed Ōshū as their home including Ichiro Ozawa, the long-time leader of the Democratic Party of Japan.

Ethnic groups in Japan


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