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After she became the ruler there were few who saw her

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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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