Monday, July 25, 2022

Miyano Shrine established for Military Success


Miyano Shrine in Asakura, Fukuoka, is located just a stone's throw from the site of the temporary palace of Empress Saimei who was here in northern Kyushu overseeing an invasion force heading to the Korean peninsula to aid in the restoration of the Paekche after their defeat by the combined forces of Sila and Tang China.

She ordered Nakatomi no Kamatari to set up the shrine and it was built facing Korea for the prayers for the success in the upcoming "special military operation". At the Battle of Baekgang, a primarily naval encounter, the much larger Yamato navy was decimated by the Tang navy, and Japan's military operations in the Korean peninsula were halted for almost a millenium.

The kami enshrined here for military success were Amenokoyane, claimed by the Nakatomi as their ancestor. The other was Okuninushi, the Izumo kami, and a strange choice, although after Izumo became subsumed in the Yamato polity, Okuninushi was enshrined in a protective circle of sacred mountains surrounding the Yamato capital.

Not long after arriving here and setting up the palace and shrine, Saimei died and her son, Tenji, took over. While Saimei had previously been empress Kogyoku, her son and Nakatomi Kamatari had assassinated the Soga who had been the most powerful clan in Yamato. Kogyoku had been a supporter of the Soga. She abdicated and her brother became emperor. He died a few years later and she took the throne again. Some historians think she may have been poisoned when she died suddenly in 661.

After taking over as emperor, one of the things Tenji did was award Nakatomi Kamatari a new family name of Fujiwara. The Fujiwara went on to become the most powerful family in Japan for many centuries along the way wiping out the Mononobe who had been their allies against the Soga. Many of the powerful clans in Yamato, including the imperial family, seem to have strong ancestral ties to the korean peninsula, especially to Paekche, which would explain their interest in military involvement.

I have always been fascinated by the Izumo connection to Sila and how that played out with the Yamato connection to Paekche.