Haji no Sukune Furuhito

Hear about Haji no Sukune on Episode 17A of our Podcast, the Japan Archives.

Haji no Sukune Furuhito
Haji no Sukune Furuhito

Haji no Sukune Furuhito

Haji no Sukune Furuhito (土師 宿禰古人) later Sugawara no Furuhito (菅原古人) was a member of the Haji Clan until he requested their name be changed to Sugawara.

During his lifetime he held the rank of junior fifth rank, lower grade and one month later was made Lieutenant Governor of Tōtōmi. On the 16th day of the 6th month of the Emperors reign he was promoted again from outer to inner rank.

When Kanmu. came to the throne in 781AD he favoured Furuhito. It is said he instructed the Emperor when still a prince.

In the reign of Emperor Kanmu, in 781AD, on the 25th day of the 6th month during his reign, Furuhito came to court with 15 members of the Haji family.

He brought a petition which stated their ancestor, Nomi no Sukune, had been the creator of the haniwa and they had overseen their creation to be used in funerals. However, now their clan only took charge of funerals and so their job had changed. As this was not what their ancestor had wanted he requested for a name change to Sugawara where they now dwelt.

The Emperor granted this request and the Sugawara house came into being.

As he had been the Emperors teacher, this might show why Furuhito was allowed to change the family name and given various promotions. Another thoery is that it occoured because the Emperor grandmother was a Haji, though she was not of the same line as Furuhito.

Furuhito managing to change the families name meant they were no longer doomed to only hold the ranks of outer fifth rank which the Haji name carried with it.1


1. Borgen, R. (1975) “The Origins of the Sugawara. A History of the Haji Family”. Monumenta Nipponica. Vol.30 No.4 pp.405-422

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