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Episode 140: Discussions of the Nara Period Military Defense Statute P1
Topic Started: Mar 2 2018, 11:42 PM (647 Views)
Sam
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This was a really interesting topic, a few questions:

1. On the military hierarchy, could it be that they had a hybrid system? For the 1,000 man unit (I don't remember the exact names) you needed five 200 man units. But the 200 man units themselves could be four 50 man units, or two 50 man units and one 100 man unit and so on. Essentially the commander of 50 man and 100 man units are at the same level. The reason being a three level structure with only two branches (1 boss, two mid-level that each have two subordinates commanding 50 men) seems very inefficient. It is much easier to get rid of the middle layer altogether.

2. Nate said the code was modern and different from anything that came before or after. To what extent did it work? One idea is that the code was a close copy of the Chinese system, but for that very reason it was utterly unworkable in Japan.

3. Thinking about my previous question I looked at the chronology of the events, initially I thought there was a reformist emperor who was behind all this but the reform efforts lasted for a very long time (years are from Wikipedia):

  • 645: Taika reforms enacted
  • 663: Battle of Baekgang (the war in which Korea is lost to Tang)
  • 673: Tenmu's reign begins
  • 686: Tenmu's reign ends
  • 703: Taiho Code is enacted
  • 718: Yoro Code is compiled
  • 757: Yoro Code is enacted
That is a century of reforms! Wikipedia quotes Kan'ichi Asakawa saying that 645 reforms were more abrupt and radical than those of 1868. Also it is said that even after nearly 40 years of delay the Yoro Code's enactment was unpopular with nobility. It would be interesting to study these set of interconnected reforms from modern political economy perspective. What supported this abrupt political change and what sustained its momentum?

4. The talk of Kanbun reminded me of a question I have been meaning to ask: what is a good book about the history of Japanese language from the introduction of Chinese writing system?

Looking forward to the next episode!
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ltdomer98
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Sam
Mar 2 2018, 11:42 PM
This was a really interesting topic, a few questions:

1. On the military hierarchy, could it be that they had a hybrid system? For the 1,000 man unit (I don't remember the exact names) you needed five 200 man units. But the 200 man units themselves could be four 50 man units, or two 50 man units and one 100 man unit and so on. Essentially the commander of 50 man and 100 man units are at the same level. The reason being a three level structure with only two branches (1 boss, two mid-level that each have two subordinates commanding 50 men) seems very inefficient. It is much easier to get rid of the middle layer altogether.


It's possible. Within the scope of this project, there was no way to tell. My purpose was to tell what I could from the Code itself alone. The reason Farris and Friday come up with different interpretations may be due to the fact that they were doing much more expansive projects, looking at "real" documents and accounts. It's certainly reasonable that there was something out there that clarifies. But as I said, that wasn't in the scope of what this exercise was for.

Quote:
 
2. Nate said the code was modern and different from anything that came before or after. To what extent did it work? One idea is that the code was a close copy of the Chinese system, but for that very reason it was utterly unworkable in Japan.


I hope I didn't say it WAS modern--the point is that it resembles a modern system much more than before or after. I know I caveat that statement somewhat heavily at the end of our conversation, so it's probably coming in part 2. We don't have a ton of evidence for how it worked, and the fact that it was discontinued relatively soon after implementation indicates that it was deemed to be inefficient for the needs of suppressing barbarians. The best thing is to read Farris and Friday and decide between them.

Quote:
 

3. Thinking about my previous question I looked at the chronology of the events, initially I thought there was a reformist emperor who was behind all this but the reform efforts lasted for a very long time (years are from Wikipedia):

  • 645: Taika reforms enacted
  • 663: Battle of Baekgang (the war in which Korea is lost to Tang)
  • 673: Tenmu's reign begins
  • 686: Tenmu's reign ends
  • 703: Taiho Code is enacted
  • 718: Yoro Code is compiled
  • 757: Yoro Code is enacted
That is a century of reforms! Wikipedia quotes Kan'ichi Asakawa saying that 645 reforms were more abrupt and radical than those of 1868. Also it is said that even after nearly 40 years of delay the Yoro Code's enactment was unpopular with nobility. It would be interesting to study these set of interconnected reforms from modern political economy perspective. What supported this abrupt political change and what sustained its momentum?


The emphasis on 645 is ahistorical. It's a creation of writers a century or so later. Why is 645 important? 645 in the calendrical 60/600 year cycle was a year that signals radical political change. Hence the writers of the Nihon Shoki designated it Taika: 大化 BIG CHANGE. It's pretty much scholarly consensus now that Tenmu and his immediate successors were the ones that implemented all these changes, after he killed Tenchi's son and took over after the Jinshin rebellion. Taika is labeled as important in the histories to justify Tenmu and provide a precedent for his implemented changes.

Asakawa, kami bless him, was writing in the Meiji Period--a time of "national renewal" based on promoting Japan as special, so very invested in believing the "national histories" in the Nihon Shoki and Kojiki. (Of course, the flip side, and just as bad, are the postwar historians who threw it all out.)

This is all straight from my class notes of 2 weeks ago, cleaned up to be legible, but we spent 2 1/2 hours talking about Tenmu and Tenchi and how the Jinshin rebellion is so pivotal, and it's Tenmu (continued by Jito) who tries to erase Tenchi and essentially creates the mythos that comes to us in the Nihon Shoki, Kojiki, Manyoshu, etc. The books we read:

Duthie, Torquil, Man’yōshū and the Imperial Imagination in Early Japan. Leiden: Brill, 2014.

Ooms, Herman, Imperial Politics and Symbolics in Ancient Japan: The Tenmu Dynasty, 650-800. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2009.

McCallum, Donald, The Four Great Temples: Buddhist Art, Archaeology, and Icons of Seventh Century Japan. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2009.

In particular I liked how Duthie makes the Manyoshu, which I've always been completely bored by, interesting as a historical text celebrating Tenmu and his line.


Quote:
 
4. The talk of Kanbun reminded me of a question I have been meaning to ask: what is a good book about the history of Japanese language from the introduction of Chinese writing system?


Good question. I'd recommend Lurie, David, Realms of Literacy: Early Japan and the History of Writing. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2011.

That said, I haven't READ it yet. It's on my generals list, and Conlan is a big fan, and having met Lurie he's a pretty great guy who really really knows his stuff, so I imagine it's good. One of his key ideas is to stop calling it "Chinese translated by Japanese" or "Chinese written by Japanese" or "Japanicized Chinese" and just call it kundoku, which is the name for how it's read. Adding all the other stuff creates too many misperceptions.

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Bethetsu
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ltdomer98
Mar 3 2018, 05:24 AM
The emphasis on 645 is ahistorical. It's a creation of writers a century or so later. Why is 645 important? 645 in the calendrical 60/600 year cycle was a year that signals radical political change. Hence the writers of the Nihon Shoki designated it Taika: 大化 BIG CHANGE.
I think this is unlikely. 645 was a 乙巳 [42] year in the 60-year cycle, and that was not a considered a particularly critical cyclic year. The three critical years were 甲子[1], 戊辰[5], and 辛酉[58]. I think someone may be confusing it with the theory that the Nihon Shoki editors determined the year of Jinmu's ascension in the 辛酉 year of 660 BC in connection with the death of Tenji's predecessor in the in the 辛酉 year of 661 AD.
(Note: 天智 can be read as either Tenji or Tenchi.)

Quote:
 
It's pretty much scholarly consensus now that Tenmu and his immediate successors were the ones that implemented all these changes, after he killed Tenchi's son and took over after the Jinshin rebellion. Taika is labeled as important in the histories to justify Tenmu and provide a precedent for his implemented changes. ...
it's Tenmu (continued by Jito) who tries to erase Tenchi
If Tenmu (continued by Jito) tried to erase Tenji, why are Tenji and the Taika reforms considered so important in the Nihon Shoki? Why not assign the reforms to Tenmu? Jito died in 702 and the Shoki was finished in 720.

Also, it seems that the editors of the Nihon Shoki considered Tenji's son Ôtomo (Emperor Kôbun) as emperor until a very late stage in the editing. Book 27 is that of Tenji's reign, but it says nothing about his making Tenmu his heir. That is stated in the heading of Book 28, Tenmu's book. So it seems it was already too late to make changes to Book 27. Especially notably, Book 28 contains only Tenmu’s first year, while his reign from his 2nd year on is recorded in Book 29. This is the only case in the Shoki where an emperor’s reign is divided; it is reasonable to think that originally Book 28 was that of Ôtomo and Book 29 that of Tenmu. Another point is that in the case of every other emperor, at the end of the first year we find the statement, “This year was the cyclic year XX” 是年也。太歳XX. However, in the case of Tenmu this statement is made in Book 29, at the end of first year given in that book, Tenmu’s “2nd year.”

See https://www.academia.edu/32724493/Naming_Years_in_the_Nihon_Shoki

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ltdomer98
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Bethetsu
Mar 4 2018, 04:13 AM
I think this is unlikely. 645 was a 乙巳 [42] year in the 60-year cycle, and that was not a considered a particularly critical cyclic year. The three critical years were 甲子[1], 戊辰[5], and 辛酉[58]. I think someone may be confusing it with the theory that the Nihon Shoki editors determined the year of Jinmu's ascension in the 辛酉 year of 660 BC in connection with the death of Tenji's predecessor in the in the 辛酉 year of 661 AD.


I knew you'd chime in. I'm going based off of Conlan's statements in class. I'm fairly sure he's basing his statement in conjunction with work by Yoshikawa Shinji at Kyoto University. I'll see if I can get the direct information from him.

Quote:
 
Why not assign the reforms to Tenmu? Jito died in 702 and the Shoki was finished in 720.


Because, as Duthie points out about both the Manyoshu and the Nihon Shoki, they were compiled texts. Not everyone agreed with the idea of giving Tenmu everything. Duthie shows quite nicely how Tenchi's line is brought back into the story through Jito (his daughter) and that this tension is resolved by the ascension of Monmu, who has both Tenmu and Tenchi as grandparents on paternal and maternal lines.

Quote:
 
Also, it seems that the editors of the Nihon Shoki considered Tenji's son Ôtomo (Emperor Kôbun) as emperor until a very late stage in the editing. Book 27 is that of Tenji's reign, but it says nothing about his making Tenmu his heir. That is stated in the heading of Book 28, Tenmu's book. So it seems it was already too late to make changes to Book 27. Especially notably, Book 28 contains only Tenmu’s first year, while his reign from his 2nd year on is recorded in Book 29. This is the only case in the Shoki where an emperor’s reign is divided; it is reasonable to think that originally Book 28 was that of Ôtomo and Book 29 that of Tenmu. Another point is that in the case of every other emperor, at the end of the first year we find the statement, “This year was the cyclic year XX” 是年也。太歳XX. However, in the case of Tenmu this statement is made in Book 29, at the end of first year given in that book, Tenmu’s “2nd year.”


Right. That's exactly the point. I overstated a bit in my earlier response--TENMU, personally, attempted to frame everything as starting with him. After his death, it's walked back a bit. It couldn't be completely ascribed to Tenmu, because there were still pro-Tenchi sentiments present at court. Duthie and Ooms are way better at explaining this than I can be during my 5 minute study break. But Duthie's discussion of the pro-Otomo Kaifuso demonstrates really well that Tenmu's efforts aren't complete.
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ltdomer98
Mar 4 2018, 07:31 AM
I knew you'd chime in. I'm going based off of Conlan's statements in class. I'm fairly sure he's basing his statement in conjunction with work by Yoshikawa Shinji at Kyoto University. I'll see if I can get the direct information from him.
I am looking forward to hearing about that. :)

Quote:
 
Tenmu and his immediate successors were the ones that implemented all these changes,
Quote:
 
TENMU, personally, attempted to frame everything as starting with him. After his death, it's walked back a bit. It couldn't be completely ascribed to Tenmu, because there were still pro-Tenchi sentiments present at court.

But from the above, it seems that the Shoki is not even ascribing changes to Tenmu that he actually carried out but had to ascribe them to Tenji. Was the pro-Tenji lobby that strong? Or was there a strong feeling that reforms had to be in a kinoto-mi 乙巳year, not for instance, in 685 or some other year in Tenmu's reign? If the latter, one would think they would have waited until the 乙巳 year of 705 for the Taihô Code. But this probably has to wait for the answer to my first question.
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Sam
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I hope I didn't say it WAS modern--the point is that it resembles a modern system much more than before or after.
I remember you using the word modern but you might have qualified it, I don't remember exactly, I would have to listen to the podcast again.
Quote:
 
The emphasis on 645 is ahistorical. It's a creation of writers a century or so later. Why is 645 important? 645 in the calendrical 60/600 year cycle was a year that signals radical political change. Hence the writers of the Nihon Shoki designated it Taika: 大化 BIG CHANGE. It's pretty much scholarly consensus now that Tenmu and his immediate successors were the ones that implemented all these changes, after he killed Tenchi's son and took over after the Jinshin rebellion. Taika is labeled as important in the histories to justify Tenmu and provide a precedent for his implemented changes.
I don't understand the political dynamics of this era, (although the fact that Bethetsu has some questions does make me feel better!) I went back and listened to the two episodes of the podcast on the Asuka-Nara period but that did not answer all my questions: what were the political forces that pushed the reforms (which seem to have been primarily about centralizing power in the emperor)? Was there ever a significant resistance from the periphery?

Thinking about 645 my first thought was to have a story that combines the following three facts: (1) the successful coup against Soga, (2) Soga being promoters of Buddhism which was a relatively new and foreign religion, (3) the Taika reforms included land expropriation and redistribution. But history rarely works that way.
Quote:
 
Asakawa, kami bless him, was writing in the Meiji Period--a time of "national renewal" based on promoting Japan as special, so very invested in believing the "national histories" in the Nihon Shoki and Kojiki. (Of course, the flip side, and just as bad, are the postwar historians who threw it all out.)
Correct. I believe what I quoted was from 1903.
Quote:
 
This is all straight from my class notes of 2 weeks ago, cleaned up to be legible, but we spent 2 1/2 hours talking about Tenmu and Tenchi and how the Jinshin rebellion is so pivotal, and it's Tenmu (continued by Jito) who tries to erase Tenchi and essentially creates the mythos that comes to us in the Nihon Shoki, Kojiki, Manyoshu, etc.
How does Jinshin rebellion compare to the Isshi incident? One way to read it is to say that the Isshi incident was the big change and the Jinshin rebellion was an internal struggle among the winners.

***

Thanks for the references and the long thought-out reply.
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Bethetsu
Mar 4 2018, 09:46 PM
I am looking forward to hearing about that. :)

But from the above, it seems that the Shoki is not even ascribing changes to Tenmu that he actually carried out but had to ascribe them to Tenji. Was the pro-Tenji lobby that strong? Or was there a strong feeling that reforms had to be in a kinoto-mi 乙巳year, not for instance, in 685 or some other year in Tenmu's reign? If the latter, one would think they would have waited until the 乙巳 year of 705 for the Taihô Code. But this probably has to wait for the answer to my first question.


Thanks, now you've given me extra homework! :confused:

I asked him about it today before class, and we looked it up in 讀史備要, and you are correct, it's 乙巳 for 645. I think Prof. Conlan is a bit off and may be getting his wires crossed as you suggested, at least in regards to the cyclical year. He did mention that it's tied to the same reason as the Jinmu date reasoning you list, but then we got to talking about Nengo and the reasoning behind Nengo changes and the naming of Nengo. I've got a few things to go back through to verify, but if I had to guess right now, he was combining the Jinmu info on the cyclical date with his ideas of nengo change and misspoke. He did want me to follow up, and if we can confirm it's wrong, then he'll have to change his lecture notes :lulz:
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ltdomer98
Mar 6 2018, 12:37 PM
Thanks, now you've given me extra homework! :confused:
Sorry about that!

About the connection between Jinmu and Tenji:
The idea of a relationship between Tenji and Jinmu goes back to Miyoshi no Kiyoyuki in 901 as part of his campaign against Sugawara no Michizane. He said metal-bird (58) and wood-rat (1) years were critical. Jinmu 1 was metal-bird, and there are entries in the Nihon Shoki for a few later metal-bird and wood-rat years. Seimei 7 (661), the year of the death of Tenji's predecessor, so of his "ascension" [though he didn't become emperor for several years], is 60x22 years after Jinmu 1, so is very important as the beginning of a "lattice" 蔀, and 901 is very important as being 240 years after that. So the nengo should be changed (though he gave some other reasons also). It was, and from 961 until the Meiji Period, the nengo was changed regularly on metal-bird and wood-rat years except for 1561, 1564, and 1621.
Edo-period kokugakusha distrusted the historicity of earlier parts of the Shoki and said the Shoki editors determined Jinmu 1 as 1320 years before Seimei 7 (661), and that is one theory that one often comes across.
(See pp. 3-5 of the paper on Nihon Shoki year-dates linked above.)

But these have nothing to do with Taika.
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