Yamatohiko

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Yamatohiko
Crest of the Imperial Chrysanthemum Throne.

Yamatohiko

Yamatohiko (倭彦命) was the son of Emperor Sujin and Mimakihime.123

Emperor Sujin’s Reign

During his reign the kojiki states that the practise of human sacrifice was started after his death

 ‘in the time of this King a hedge of men was the first time set in the mausoleum.’

However the nihongi says the practise is abolished soon after (see section below). Scholars have tried to reconcile these statements by supposing human sacrifice was a long standing tradition already but that the burial of live people during the internment of Yamatohiko was increased to a much larger degree than before which is why it is noted upon in the kojiki.23

Emperor Suinin’s Reign

It is said that when Suinin’s wife, Empress Hibasuhime died he asked what should be done, his ministers saying they should follow the old traditions of burying retainers alongside her as had been done upon the death of Yamatohiko.

A man known as Nomi no Sukune, however, stated that this form of sacrifice was contrary to a benevolent government, and so he devised the Haniwa which came to replace the act of human sacrifice.4

Notes

Borgen (1975) says he was the half-brother of Emperor Suinin. However, the Kojiki and Nihongi show this to be an error in their writing.

Footnotes

1. Aston. W.G. (1896) “Nihongi Volume 1: Chronicles of Japan from the Earliest Times to AD697”. Tuttle Publishing.
2. Yasumaro. O, translated by Gustav Heldt. (2014) “Kojiki. An Account of Ancient Matters”. New York: Columbia University Press.
3. Chamberlain, B. H. (1932) “Translation of the Kojiki.” Kobe: J.L. Thompson & Co.
4. 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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Yamatohiko