Hotsuma-Tsutae The Book of Man (Chapters 37) [Contents] [Japanese] [French]

Tajimamori and the Tachibana Oranges

In the 39th year of the reign of Mimaki-Irihiko (the Emperor Sujin), a foreigner named Hiboko came by ship to the Land of Harima, and, after anchoring there awhile, proceeded to the village of Shishiawa in Awaji.

The sovereign urgently sent his ministers Ohotomo-Nushi and Nagao-Ichi to Harima, where they asked Hiboko why he had come. He replied:
"I am the son of the King of Shilla, and my name is Ame-Hiboko. I heard that there was a very wise and pious ruler in this land. So I entrusted my country to my younger brother Chiko, and have come to serve that great ruler."
On hearing of this, Mimaki issued a decree to Ame-Hiboko, saying:
"We shall grant you the two villages of Idesa in the Land of Harima and Shishiawa in Awaji. There you may dwell as you see fit."
To which Hiboko replied:
"If you will permit, I would first make a tour of this beautiful land before deciding my dwelling place."
On receiving the sovereign's consent, Hiboko sailed up the Uji River, and landed at the village of Ana in Awaumi (Ômi), where he stayed awhile. He established a settlement for his potters in the valley of Hazama (Mount Kagamiyama). He then travelled on to Wakasa, before turning westwards towards Tajima. There, he was betrothed to Matawo, daughter of the local noble Futomimi of Izushima. They had a child named Tajima Morosuke, whose son was Hinaragi. Hinaragi had a son called Kiyohiko, and his child, finally, was named Tajimamori.

Many years later, in the 88th year of the reign of Ikume-Irihiko, the sovereign issued a decree on the 10th day of the 7th month.
"We have heard that, long ago, the treasures presented to the court by Prince Hiboko of Shilla were stored at Tajima. Now, we desire to see those treasures. Send a messenger to Hiboko's great-grandson, Kiyohiko."

Kiyohiko then came to court to present the treasures. They were the Haboso gem, the Ashitaka gem, the Ukaga gem, the Izushi short sword, the Izushi halberd, the sun mirror, the Kuma-Himorogezu (the exact nature of which is unclear) and the Ideasa sword.
But, of the original eight treasures, Kiyohiko was most loath to surrender the Izushi short sword, as it had a particularly strong connection with his ancestors. So he hid it up his sleeve and came to court with the sword at his side.
The sovereign, not noticing this, was delighted to see such exotic treasures, and offered his guest a drink of miki (divine saké). But as Kiyohiko went to drink the liquor, the short sword slipped out of his sleeve and fell onto the floor.
Seeing the sword, the sovereign asked what it was. Kiyohiko could dissemble no longer, and answered: "It is one of the treasures that I am to present you with."
Ikume-Irihiko said: "Is this treasure so special that you cannot bear to part with it?".
The eight treasures were thenceforth all stored in the court treasury. But when, at a later time, the treasury was opened, the short sword was again found to be missing. The sovereign once again summoned Kiyohiko and asked him,
"Has the lost sword perhaps found its way to your home?"
Kiyohiko answered, "At the end of last year, the short sword strangely returned to my house, of its own accord. But the following morning, it had disappeared again."
On hearing this, Ikume-Irihiko adjusted his attire, and resolved never to broach the subject again.

In fact, the short sword had found its own way to the island of Awajishima, where it was revered by the local people as a deity, and a shrine was built in its honour.

On the 1st day of the 2nd month in the 90th year, the sovereign Ikume-Irihiko issued this decree to Tajimamori:
"You are to go to the Land of Tokoyo to seek tachibana oranges. For I believe the orange tree is the same flower of divine rule that the deity Kunitokotachi planted in front of his Tokoyo Palace, from whence he opened up the country."
On the 1st day of the 7th month in the 99th year, Ikume-Irihiko died at the age of 137. The sovereign princes entered a 48-day period of mourning, and on the final night ordered a terracotta mausoleum to be built. Then they took off their mourning garments and closed them away in it.
On the 10th day of the 12th month, a grand funeral ceremony was held through the night at the burial mound in Sugawara-Fushimi. The light from countless pine torches lit up the rows of terracotta figures in the mausoleum. They reflected the grieving hearts of the people, and appeared to be moistened with tears of sorrow.
Under a star-lit sky, all in attendance sensed the shaft of light released by the sovereign's soul as it went on its journey to the heavenly Sakokushiro Uji Palace, along the transparent pillar of the heavens. Believing that their beloved sovereign would return, they stayed there waiting until the break of dawn.

The following spring, in the 3rd month, Tajimamori at last returned from his journey to Tokoyo. He had overcome numerous hardships to fulfil his promise to the sovereign, bringing with him 24 baskets of oranges, as well as 4 orange trees and 4 orange stocks, all of which his retainers carried for him.
But before he could return, the sovereign had died. Neither his hurried return to the capital from afar, in the hope and belief that he would witness his master's delight, nor those dark nights through which he hurried, supported in his heart by the thought of the sovereign's warm words of thanks, nor all the diligent care he had taken to keep the oranges fresh through sun and rain - none of these had been any hardship to him, since they were all endured in single-minded devotion to the sovereign.

Tajimamori divided his bounty into two halves, one of which he offered to the Crown Prince and one to the tomb of the late sovereign. As he did so, he reported through his tears:
"Under command from my Lord, I have been to the far-off Land of Tokoyo to search for tachibana oranges. That is an incomparable and inexplicable enchanted land, a land where supernatural beings live in hiding. Its language and customs are completely different to ours, and it has taken me ten years to accustom myself to its ways. But, protected by the wondrous spirit of my lord, I remained undaunted by hardships, so that I am at last able to return. But now I find that my Lord has passed away, so that I cannot even hear his voice or see his appearance any more. Alas! I can no longer live in a world without my Lord!" And with that, he took his own life and followed his master in death.
All the ministers in attendance shed tears at Tajimamori's single-minded act of loyalty. They planted the four tachibana orange trees in front of the palace, and the four stocks on the burial mound at Sugawara, in tribute to both the late sovereign and Tajimamori.

Actually, Tajimamori had left a parting message, which the Crown Prince Woshirowake (or Tarihiko) now deigned to read. It said:
"Princess Hana-Tachibana, daughter of the Lord of Kagu, is the wife of Tajimamori. Please send Oshiyama there to bring her to the capital, along with her father Motohiko."
Woshirowake was happy to comply with this parting wish. On their arrival, he gave Motohiko ritual garments and placed him in charge of mourning for Tajimamori. As Hana-Tachibana was with child at the time, the new sovereign made arrangements for her to stay at the court.
At the end of May, the Princess gave birth to a baby girl. Then Woshirowake issued this decree:
"The child is fair, because she retains the soul of her forebears. She shall be named Princess Oto-Tachibana."

Hana-Tachibana was then wed to Oshiyama, on account of his physical resemblance to Tajimamori. And both the Princess and her daughter were blessed with deep contentment.
The profound bond that was hereby forged came to have great significance to the success of the eastern expedition by Prince Yamatotake in later times.

The following is quoted from "Rekidai Tennô Hyakuwa" (100 Tales of Emperors Through History), edited by Mutsuro Hayashi:

"Tajimamori's tomb is said to lie on a small island in the moat of a large keyhole-shaped mounded tomb attributed to the Emperor Suinin in Amatsuji-cho, Nara City. The tachibana orange trees he brought back were planted and propagated in the village of Anashi, site of Suinin's Makimuku Tamaki Palace. From that time on, mikan oranges from this area were presented to successive emperors. Still today, you can see mikan fields spread out beside the mountain roads, flushed with orange colour and cloaked in a fragrant aroma between late December and early spring."

(Seiji Takabatake, from the 37th aya of the Hotsuma-Tsutae)

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Hotsuma-Tsutae (National Archives, Tokyo)
Hotsuma-Tsutae (period translation by Waniko Yasutoshi, ca. 1779)

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