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Unformatted text preview: elf with magic and sorcery, bewitching the people.
Though mature in age, she remained unmarried. She had a younger brother
who assisted her in ruling the country. After she became the ruler, there were
few who saw her. She had one thousand women as attendants, but only one
man. He served her food and drink and acted as a medium of communication. She resided in a palace surrounded by towers and stockades, with
armed guards in a state of constant vigilance.4 8 The Emergence of Japanese Civilization Himiko’s authority was apparently based on her religious or magical
powers and probably derived from the shamanism of northeastern Asia
that is known to have been widely disseminated in early Japan. She is
described in the above account as a mediator (shaman) between the
people and their gods, and as such may well have been among the first
to perform what later became the most sacred function of the Japanese
sovereign. According to the mythology, the ruling dynasty of Japan is
descended from the Sun Goddess (Amaterasu), the supreme deity or
kami of the Shinto pantheon, and only a duly selected sovereign from this
dynasty is qualified to perform the rites of communion with her that are
essential to governing the country.
The territorial hegemony over which Himiko presided was called
Yamatai, and even today scholars hotly dispute where its seat was
located. The problem is that the instructions in the Chinese dynastic
accounts (specifically, the History of the Kingdom of Wei, compiled about
297) of how to get to Yamatai from the continent (Korea) are wrong.
The instructions guide us smoothly enough across the Korean Straits to
northern Kyushu, but then say to turn south and go a series of distances
that, if taken, would lead into the Pacific Ocean. Scholars have long
contended that either the instructions should have said to turn east instead of south, thereby leading to the vicinity of modern Nara and Kyoto
in the central provinces, or the distances given are wrong and the seat of
Yamatai was somewhere in northern Kyushu.
If Yamatai had its seat in the central provinces, it would indicate that,
by at least the late 230s, a hegemony had alre...
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- Spring '13