The journey to Kasasa

Paradise found and lost in the land of Hayato

By William Wetherall

First posted 6 May 2009
Last updated 10 August 2010

The trek from Takachiho Kojiji version | Nihongi version 1 | Nihongi version 2 | Nihongi version 3 | Nihongi version 4
Gazetteer Tsukushi | Himuka | Takachiho | Karakunidake | Hitawo and Mang | Nagaya | Kasasa no misaki | Ata
Karakuni controversy Karakuni versus munakuni | Soshishi no munakuni
Ninigi's legacy Sovereigns mortal (Kojiki) | People mortal (Nihon shoki) | Sibling loyalty | Inherent dominion
Jinmu's mixed blood The probable southern origins of the progenitors of the Yamato court

Related articles
Reports from early records: Natives and barbarians at the dawn of Japanese history

The trek from Takachiho

The following summary of events -- leading up to the descent of Amaterasu's grandson to Takachiho, his trek from there to Kasasa, his marriage to the daughter of an earth diety, and the birth of the mixed-blood progenitor of Japan's present Imperial Family -- greatly oversimplies the convoluted legends about Japan's divine origins, and glosses over numerous, mostly minor differences in their various tellings. All versions, though, contain elements of the moral fall and sibling rivalry motifs that are found in the Garden of Eden and Cain and Able stories in the biblical book of Genesis.

Without further ado.

Creation of islands, gods, and conflict

Izanagi and Izanami, both heavenly gods, create the islands of Iyo [now Shikoku], Oki, Tsukushi [now Kyūshū], Iki, Tsushima, Sado, and Ohoyamato [now Honshū] -- and call them "The great eight-island country" (大八島国 Oho-yashima-guni). Izanagi and Izanami also create numerous other heavenly gods.

Rivalries among the heavenly gods create a host of problems in heaven as well as on the islands, to which some heavenly gods who fall out of grace either flee or are banished. The islands also become battlefields of earthly gods who fight amongst themselves and with the heavenly gods who are sent to pacify them.

When most of the dust of dissension in the "Central land of the reed plains" (葦原中国 Ashihara no naka-tsu-kuni) has settled, Amaterasu, the sun goddess, decides to establish a heavenly government on earth to rule the eight islands. She commands her son, Oshihomimi, to do this, but the mandate is passed to his son, Ninigi.

Migration, miscegenation, and nation building

Ninigi, the heavenly grandson, thus descends through the clouds to the peak of Takachiho on the island of Tsukushi. After building a palace there, he embarks on a journey in search of good land, which he finds at the promintory of Kasasa. There, in the heart of what is later clearly Hayato territory, he also finds the beautiful Sakuyahime and courts her.

Sakuyahime is the daughter of the god of the mountains, an earthly deity. The marriage between Ninigi and Sakuyahime is therefore one between two races of gods.

Sakuyahime becomes pregnant in one night and bears three boys. But because Ninigi has rejected her ugly older sister, thus breaking the agreement he had made when courting Sakuyahime, his descendants (Kojiki), and indeed all people (Nihon shoki), are condemned to mortality.

Howori, one the younger brothers, prevails in a rivalry with Hoderi, the eldest (Kojiki). When Hoderi resorts to violence against his younger brother, Howori responds in kind and gains the upper hand. When Hoderi pleads for his life, Howori lets him live, and the older brother vows to serve his younger brother and guard him day and night.

Howori marries Toyotamabime, a daughter of the sea god. Their son -- Hikonagisatake Ugayafukiaezu no Mikoto --is raised by Tamayorihime, his mother's younger sister, with whom he had four sons. The fourth -- Iwarehiko Hohodemi no Mikoto -- leads a migration from the palace at Takachiho to Yamato in present-day Nara prefecture, conquering opposing forces along the way. At Yamato he establishes the first heavenly court on earth and is later called Jinmu.

See From Amaterasu to Jinmu: The miscegenation of heavenly and earthly gods for a geneological chart of the above relationships.

Significance of stories

The descent of Amaterasu's grandson Ninigi is the pivotal story in Japan's early legends -- for Ninigi's acts exemplify the aims and methods that would characterize the expansion of Yamato after its founding by his great-great grandson, the future Jinmu. The aims were to spread the power and influence of Amaterasu's descendants. The methods were migration and mixture, usually preceded by conquest.

The expansion started when Amaterasu gave Ninigi the mandate to find a good land in which to establish a heavenly government on earth. It began in earnest when the future Jinmu moved his palace from Takachiho to Yamato and became the first sovereign in a dynasty that claimed the right to control and rule the islands. This dynasty continued until the middle of the 20th century, when the gods of expansion fell from grace within the pantheon of more powerful gods that govern the condition of nations on earth.

All manner of court agents, from military commanders and diplomatic envoys to land and household registrars and tax collectors, were dispatched, like Ninigi, to territories which had not yet been embraced by the court, with the purpose of bringing their terrain and inhabitants into the court's arms. When all territories within the original eight islands had been subjugated, the court's agents reached out to groups of islands like Ezo and Ryūkyū, now Hokkaidō and Okinawa, and beyond. By the end of the 19th century, the expansionist fever had spread to the continent, not for the first time, by way of the Korean peninsula.

Most historically chronicled expansions were brought about by military expeditions and other cadres of officials, followed by migrants who settled in the territories. Those two stayed generally mixed and with native inhabitants, and blending went both ways.

The prevailing forces of migration and mixture within Japan, before 1868, are probably not best described as those of Yamatoization or of homogenization by any name. The islands were simply too many and too large, and their sweep too great and the travel conditions too difficult, too expect the degree of customary and linguistic similarity that would warrant the label homogeneous.

Apart from its geographical conditions, however, Japan's political conditions did not, until 1868, favor customary and linguistic homogenization. Until then, central governments, whether the court or a shogunal proxy, did not seek to impose uniform standards on local populations, whose primary loyalties were expected to be to the local lord.

Only after 1868, when a monarchal state was created, were the provinces nationalized as prefectures and the loyalties of their inhabitants turned toward the tennō (sovereign) as the patriarch of the nation. Only after 1868 did central government leashes tighten in such a way that made local people think, act, and speak more alike -- at least in the imaginations of romantic nationalists.

In 1868, the new government set out to nationalize all territories it considered part of its inherent dominion, beginning with the historical provinces, and the territories that had been under the suzerainty of a province, such as Ezo and Ryukyu. Nationaliztion of the homelands -- facilitated by the spread of railroads, steamships, telegraphy, and mass media -- significantly reduced the significance of local differences in ways of life and language.

Unprecedented levels of internal migration and social mobility, which are still increasing, are mostly responsible for the continuing homogenization of customs and speech. Still, some local and regional differences have persisted, and some have become commodities in a market that distributes local color and pride nationwide and even globally.

The addition of new territories like Taiwan, Karafuto, and Korea as Chōsen impossed new challenges for Yamato nationalists. Again, though, the forces of Japanization were such that, by the time the Empire of Japan collapsed in 1945, Taiwan and Ch&#sen were well on their way toward integration into the prefectural legal polity, which required a high degree of customary and linguistic assimilation on their part.

But it all began with Ninigi's descent from heaven to Takachiho, his trek to Kasasa, and his mixed marriage with the Hayato princess Sakuyahime.

Kojiki and Nihon shoki versions

The first two books of the Nihon shoki are collections of legends from the age of the gods. The legends are divided into 11 stages (段 dan). Volume two contain Stages 9, 10, and 11.

Stage 9 features, among other events, the subjugation of the "central land of the reed plains" (葦原中国 ashihara no naka-tsu-kuni); the descent of Amaterasu's grandson, Ninigi no Mikoto, to the islands to find a good place to establish a country; and his marriage to Sakuyahime, a daughter of the god of the mountains, the birth of triplets, and the rivalry of the first and third with the third the victor.

Stage 10 concerns the courtship and mating of Yamasachihiko and Umasachihiko. Stage 11 is about their son, the future Jinmu.


Kojiki version   韓國 (Karakuni)
Kojiki 1, undated (between Amaterasu and Jinmu)

Translation   "As for this place, facing Kara lands, scouting and passing through to the promontory of Kasasa, are lands where the morning sun directly pierces, lands where the evening sun shines. Therefore, this place is a very good place."

Kanbun   此地者、向韓國、眞來通笠沙之御前而、朝日之直刺國、夕日之日照國也。故、此地甚吉地。(NKBT 1:128)

Yamato translation   "Koko ha Karakuni ni mukahi, Kasasa no misaki wo makitohorite [Note 17], Asahi no tadasasu kuni, yuuhi no hideru kuni nari. Yuwe, koko ha itoyoki tokoro." (NKBT 1:129)

Koko ha Karakuni . . . makitohorite NKBT Note 17 cites Motoori Norinaga's view that 韓國 is an error for 空國, which appears in a similar passage in the Kojiki, where it is read "munakuni" and means an empty or barren land. The NKBT annotators, dismissing another scholar's attempt to morph the text differently, suggests that perhaps 韓國 does, after all, mean Korea (朝鮮 Chōsen).

The NKBT note also points out that 眞來通, read makitohori, means magitohori (求ぎ通り) -- passing through (通る tooru) a territory purusing (求ぐ magu) land suitable for settlement.

See section on "Karakuni versus munakuni" for further details.

Chamberlain translation   "This place is opposite to the land of Kara. One comes straight across to the august Cape of Kasasa; and it is a land whereon the morning sun shines straight, a land which the evening sun's sunlight illumines. So this place is an exceedingly good place." [Note 14] (Chamberlain 1932:135)

Chamberlain Note 14 consists of a long critique of Motoori Norinaga's attempt to explain away "the land of Kara" (韓國). See comments on "Karakuni versus munakuni" below.

Philippi translation   "[Note 23] This place is opposite the land of Kara; [it is a place to which one] comes directly through the Cape of Kasasa, [Note 24] a land where the morning sun shines directly, a land where the rays of the evening sun are brilliant. This is a most excellent place." (Philippi 1968:145)

Philippi Note 23-24, which brackets the intervening text, says simply: "The passage is probably textually corrupt; cf. Kojiki taisei, VII, 106. See comments on "Karakuni versus munakuni" below.


Nihon shoki version 1   膂宍之空国 (soshishi no munakuni)
日本書紀巻第二、神代下、第九段 (本文)
Nihon shoki 2, Kami no yo no shimo, Dai-kyū-dan (Honbun)
Age of the gods, Part 9, main text

Amaterasu's grandson Ninigi has broken a path through the clouds of heaven and descended on the peak of Takachiho of So in Himuka (而天降於日向襲之高千穂峰矣). As Aston remarks in a note, So (襲) "forms the second part of Kumaso [熊襲], the general name of the tribes which inhabited the south of Kiushiu" (Aston 1:70, note 2).

Translation   [The sovereign's grandson] [through] the empty land [barren country] of Soshishi, from Hitawo scouted for land and walked and went ⟨頓丘, this is recited Hi-ta-wo [Hitawo]. 覓国, this is recited ku-ni-ma-gi [land-finding]. 行去, this is recited to-ho-ru [pass through].⟩ and arrived at the promintory of Kasasa of Ata no Nagaya.

empty land (空国) figures in a rather interesting controversy. See section on "Karakuni versus munakuni" for details.

sovereign's grandchild reflects 皇孫 (sume-mi-ma) whereas "heaven's grandson would reflect 天孫 (ama-mi-ma). These correspond to Aston's "August Grandchild" and "Heavenly Grandchild". Here it refers to Ninigi no Mikoto (瓊瓊杵尊), son of Ama-no-oshihomimi no Mikoto (天忍穂耳尊), son of Ameterasu Ōmikami (天照大神). Ninigi was the great-great grandfather of Jinmu.

Kanbun   而膂宍之空国、自頓丘覓国行去、⟨頓丘、此云毘陀烏。覓国、此云矩弐磨儀。行去、此云騰褒屡。⟩ 到於吾田長屋笠狭之碕矣。(NKBT 67:141)

Yamato translation   Soshishi no munakuni [Note 18] wo, Hitawo [Note 19] kara kunimagi [Note 20] tohorite, ⟨頓丘, kore wo ba hi-ta-wo to ifu. 覓国, kore wo ba ku-ni-ma-gi to ifu. 行去, kore wo ba to-ho-ru to ifu.⟩ Ata [Note 21] no Nagaya [Note 22] no Kasasa no misaki [Note 23] ni itarimasu. (NKBT 67:140)

Soshishi no munakuni (膂宍之空国) NKBT Note 18 cites Ruiju myōgishō (類聚名義抄), an 11th-12th century Yamato-CHinese dictionary, which says under "senaka no hone" (セナカノホネ) [bone of middle of back, spine] that an older term for "senaka" [middle of back] is "so" (ソ), and that "soshishi" (ソシシ) means the "meat around the middle of the back". Hence "soshishi no munakuni" would mean a land that does not have this -- in other words, "a rough [wild, arid], lean [spare], hairless [unvegetated, sterile place [land]" (荒れてやせた不毛の地 areteyaseta fumō no chi).

The annotators fail to remark on the graphs themselves or on the expression "shishi", perhaps because they take the reader's literacy and knowledge for granted. See section on "Soshishi no munakuni" for the fuller story about this controversal phrase.

Hitawo (頓丘) NKBT Note 19 says this means one hill after another, hence the phrase means to pass entirely through means to pass entirely through a continuation of hills. The note goes on to say that the term is probably from 毛詩・衛風 -- referring to a Wei feng poem in the Maoshi, otherwise known as Shijing, China's earliest anthology of songs. See the section on "Hitawo" for a presentation of the poem that refers to 頓丘.

kunimagi (覓国) NKBT Note 20 glosses this as meaning "seeking a good land [country]" (よい国を求めて yoi kuni wo motomete).

The foundation for the reading of 覓国 as "kunimagi" (国覓ぎ) and 行去 as "tohoru" (通る tooru) is the interlineal gloss. The effect of this is to link the two verbal expressions as "kunimagitohoru", in which "land scouting" represents the aim of "passing through".

In Chinese syntax, 覓国 is a verb (覓) plus an object (国), and 行去 is a compound verb representing manner of action (行) and effect of action (去). A more structural Yamato translation of 覓国 would be "kuni wo maginagara aruite itta" (国を覓ぎながら) or "kuni wo magu tame ni" (国を覓ぐために), meaning respectively "while looking for [good] land" and "to look for [good] land", while 行去 would be something like "aruite itta" (行いて去った) or "walked and went [through]".

Ata (吾田) NKBT Note 21 refers to endnote 2-15 (page 569), which gives 阿多 as a graphic alternate and identifies the places as the land [country, province] of Ata (吾田国 Ata no kuni). It is said to be an old name for the western part of present-day Kagoshima prefecture.

The endnote goes on to explain that, at the time compilation of Nihon shoki began, during the reign of Tenmu (r673-686), Ata was Hayato (隼人) territory. It cites a 682 account in the second Tenmu book in this chronology which speaks of Ohosumi Hayato and Ata Hayato.

It appears, the note then says, that the Ata area came under the authority of the ritsuryō order earlier than the Ohosumi region, [around 702] as 唱更国 (Hayato [?] no kuni), then as 薩摩国 (Satsuma no kuni). For this reason, unlike Ohosumi, its name did not survive. However, the Wamyō ruiju shō (倭名類聚鈔), a 10th century Chinese-Yamato dictionary, refers to an Ata village (阿多郷) in Ata county (阿多郡) of Satsuma province.

For texts and translations of the 682 and 702 Hayato accounts, see these entries in Reports from early records.

Nagaya (長屋) NKBT Note 22 cites a gazetteer which identifies Nagaya as the area around Mt. Chōya (長屋山 Chōya-san, Nagaya-yama) in Kawabe county (川辺郡) of Satsuma province (薩摩国). Satsuma province is now Kagoshima prefecture. See section on "Nagaya" for more details.

Aston's translation   Then he traversed the desert land of Sojishi from the Hill of Hitawo in his search for a country, until he came to Cape Kasasa, in Ata-no-nagaya. (Aston 1:70)


Nihon shoki version 2   膂宍胸副国 (soshishi no munasofukuni)
日本書紀巻第二、神代下、第九段 (一書第二)
Nihon shoki 2, Kami no yo no shimo, Dai-kyū-dan (Issho dai-ni)
Age of the gods, Stage 9, One text no. 2

Translation   . . . then [the sovereign grandchild] . . .


Kanbun   . . . 而膂宍胸副国、自頓丘覓国行去、立於浮渚在平地、乃召国主事勝国勝長狭而訪之。(NKBT 67:155)

Yamato translation   . . . soshishi no munasofukuni [Note 2] wo, Hitawo kara kunimagitohorite, ukishimari tahira ni tatashite, sunahachi Kuni-no-nushi Kotokatsu Kunikatsu Nagasa wo meshite tohitamafu. (NKBT 67:154)

munasofukuni (胸副国) NKBT Note 2 observes that the principle text (meaning the first telling of the episode) has Karanuni (空国), remarks that the reason it is "Munasofukuni" (ムナソフクニ) here is not clear, and refers the reader commentary on the principle text (Note 18, page 140).

Aston's translation   Then he passed through the Land of Munasoshi, [Note 1] in Sojishi, by way of the Hill of Hitawo, in search of a country, and stood on a level part of the floating sandbank. (Aston 1:83-84)

the Land of Munasoshi Aston Note 1 says: "Above, p. 70, we have Muna-kuni or desert land."

Aston is referring to what he has translated "the desert country" in the first telling of this story (see above).


Nihon shoki version 3   膂宍空国 (soshishi no munakuni)
日本書紀巻第二、神代下、第九段 (一書第四)
Nihon shoki 2, Kami no yo no shimo, Dai-kyū-dan (Issho dai-yon)
Age of the gods, Stage 9, One text no. 4

Translation   . . . so [the sovereign grandson] stood on a flat place, the barren land of soshishi, in what was floating, and from Hitawo [he] searched for a country and walked and went, and arrived at the promontory of Kasasa in Ata no Nagaya.

Kanbun   . . . 而立於浮渚在之平地、膂宍空国、自頓丘覓国行去、到於吾田長屋笠狭之御碕。(NKBT 1:157)

Yamato translation   . . . ukijmari tahira ni tatashite, soshishi no munakuni wo, Hitawo kara kunkimagitohorite, Ata no Nagaya no Kasasa no misaki ni itarimasu. (NKBT 1:156)

Aston's translation   Then he stood on a level part of the floating sand-bank and passed through the desert land of Sojishi by way of Hitawo in search of a country until he came to Cape Kasasa in Ata no Nagaya. (Aston 1:87)


Nihon shoki version 4   云云 (shika shika ifu)
日本書紀巻第二、神代下、第九段 (一書第六)
Nihon shoki 2, Kami no yo no shimo, Dai-kyū-dan (Issho dai-roku)
Age of the gods, Stage 9, One text no. 6

Translation   And at that time [when] [he] roved and walked, blah blah. [He] arrived at the promontory of Kasasa in Ata. Thereupon [he] climbed Takeshima of [in] Nagaya. And he patrolled [made rounds of] and examined that place and came upon a person there. [The man] gave his name saying [as] Koto-katsu Kuni-katsu Nagasa.

Kanbun   及其遊行之時也、云云。到于吾田笠狭之御碕。遂登長屋之竹嶋。乃巡覧其地者、被有人焉。名曰事勝国勝長狭。(NKBT 67:161)

Yamato translation   Sono idemasu toki ni itarite, shika shika ifu. / Ata no Kasasa no misaki ni itarimasu. Tsuhi ni Nagaya no Takashima [Note 15] ni noborimasu. Sunahachi sono tokoro wo megurimimaseba, soko ni hito aru. Nadzukete Koto-katsu Kuni-katsu Nagasa to ifu. (NKBT 67:161)

Takashima NKBT Note 15 says one view equates Takashima with Mt. Noma (野間嶽 Noma-dake) on Kasasa promontory (笠狭碕 Kasasa no misaki) and refers to Note 23 on page 140.

Aston's translation   When he proceeded therefore on his way, etc., etc., he arrived at Cape Kasasa in Ata, and finally ascended the Island of Takashima in Nagaya. He went round inspecting that land, and found there a man whose name was Koto-katsu-kuni-katsu Nagasa. (Aston 1:90)






Tsukushi was one of the eight islands given birth by Izanagi and Izanami. After the formation of the Yamato government, and the establishment of nine provinces on the island, it was called Kyūshš. Today the island is home to seven prefectures.

Tsukushi is prominent in the early history of Yamato as the stage for the descent from heaven of Amaterasu's grandson Ninigi, who started the groundwork for the founding of Yamato by his great-great grandson Jinmu. It was also the gateway for the arrival and departure of foreign as well as Yamato envoys.



Himuka (日向) means "sun facing" and indeed the province that came to be called Hyūga (日向) faces the sun -- at least the morning sun. Now part of Miyazaki prefecture (宮崎県), the name of the province survives in Hyūga city is in the north part of the prefecture, which faces the Pacific ocean, to the east, just south of the straits between Kyushu and Shikoku.

Looming west and a bit north is Takachiho and its difficult terrain. The region had the reputation, among the denizens of places like Tokyo, of being one of the more remote and backward parts of Japan -- as seen in a 1874 news report of a murder case in the area Dog finds head.



Takachiho peak (高千穂峰 Takachiho no mine) is a rather barren compound volcanic mountain, the highest point of which stands 1,574 meters above sea level in the northern stretch of the Kirishima range, which forms the backbone of southern Kyushu. Takachiho sits in the northwest corner of Miyazaki prefecture at its borders with Kumamoto and Ōita prefectures west and north.

Takachiho is roughly the same distance northwest of Hyūga city and east of Kumamoto city, deep in the mountains that dominate the center of Kyushu. It is actually easier to approach from the Kumamoto side. In fact Kumamoto has closer tourist ties with the area, which connects with Mt. Aso to the north, than Hyūga.



Not far south of Takachiho, in the same Kirishima range, is a peak (actually two peaks) called Karakunidake (韓国岳 Karakunidake). At 1,700 meters, it is the highest in the Kirishima volcanic range and ranks among the highest on Kyushu island (the highest in the region is on Yakushima). Karakunidake itself has sometimes been called Kirishimayama (霧島山).

Before the Edo period, the Karakunidake and the surrounding terrain, barren and difficult, were largely uninhabited and unexplored. The mountains and their vicinity have also been called Karakuni (graphed 空国 or 虚国) or Munakuni (graphed 空国) because of their emptiness.

The promise of Karakuni's graphic name today -- that its summits afford a glimpse of Korea -- is equally empty. The mountains squat on Kirishima city in Kagoshima prefecture, and Ebino and Kobayashi cities in Miyazaki prefecture. Kirishima city is the result of a 2005 merger of several municipalities, including the towns of Kirishima and Hayato.


Hitawo and Mang

Hitawo (頓丘 Hitao) does not appear to have been a placename in Tsukushi in antiquity, and is not found as the name of any place in Kyushu today. It is defined in Kōjien as a single succession or sequence of hills, or according to one view a leaning hill.

The only foundation for reading 頓丘 as "hitawo" (hitao) is the interlineal gloss in the received Kojiki texts. In China, the graphs are associated with a place in a poem in the Shi jing, one of the five classics that would have been well-known to the literature compilers of Kojiki.

Shi jing

Shi jing (詩経 J. Shikyō) is the earliest anthology of Chinese poetry, commonly called "Book of Songs" or the "Book of Odes" in English. It is also known as Mao shi (毛詩 J. Mōshi), after the name of the school of commentary that emerged during the Han dynasty

The anthology includes 305 songs, some of which are thought to go back a millennium or so before the birth of Christ -- hence a few centuries before the time of Confucious and a before even Homer. Among several genres, the largest, consisting of 160 poems, is called Guofeng (国風 J. kokufū) meaning "country breezes" -- "breeze" being a metaphor for "lore"" .

The country group is broken down into fifteen countries, including Wei (衛 J. Ei). The poems related to Wei are called Weifeng (衛風 J. Eifū) or "Wei lore" -- folkloric poems from or about Wei.

Mang (Poem 58)

The graphs 頓丘 (PY Dunqiu, WG Tunch'iu) appear in the first stanze of Poem 58, a Weifeng poem sometimes called "Mang" (migrant) in reference to its protagonist. The entire poem consists of six stanzas of ten four-graph phrases grouped as couplets. That is, each stanza has five lines, each consisting of an eight-graph couplet of two four-graph phrases.

The poem is essentially a lament by a woman who, looking back in her old age, feels that she has been abandoned. Dunqiu appears in the first stanza, in which the woman, as a young girl, is courted by an itinerant vendor from another village.

Structural translation

The following Chinese text of the first stanza is adapted from a web source. The structural English translation and notes are mine.



The simplest of folk -- you carried cloth, bartered thread.
You did not come to barter thread -- you came to be near me and talk.
I saw you off and we crossed the Qi -- we arrived at Dunqiu.
I did not oppose the time -- you did not have a good go-between.
I hope you have no anger -- autumn shall we take to be the time.


Mang (氓) means folk or people, especially those who may be from another place, possibly migrants or vagrants, in this case an itinerant cloth and thread vendor.

Qi (淇 Ch'i) is a river (淇水 Qishui). Its headwaters are in the east part of present-day Shanxi province (山西省). It flows southeast and enters the Huang (黄河 Huanghe) [Yellow river] in the vicinity of present-day Qi county (淇縣) in Henan province (河南省). It is now called the Wei (衛河 Weihe)

Dunqiu (頓丘 WG Tunch'iu) is a place name. It would appear to be the name of a hill. During the Han dynasty, it was the name of a county which is thought to have been near present-day Qingfeng county (清豐縣) in Henan province.

Waley translation

Waley arranged the poems by theme and gave them his own numbers. The Mang poem is 104 in the Marriage section. (Waley 1960:96).

Arthur Waley (translator)
The Book of Songs
New York: Grove Press, 1937
Fifth printing, 1960 (Evergreen)
358 pages, softcover

We thought you were a simple peasant
Bringing cloth to exchange for thread.
But you had not come to buy thread;
You had come to arrange about me.
You were escorted across the Ch'i
As far as Beacon Hill.
'It is not I who want to put it off;
But you have no proper match-maker.
Please do not be angry;
Let us fix on autumn as the time.'

Anonymous translation

This translation is featured on a number of websites, including Donald Sturgeon's "Chinese Text Project" website at

A simple-looking lad you were,
Carrying cloth to exchange it for silk.
[But] you came not so to purchase silk; -
You came to make proposals to me.
I convoyed you through the Qi,
As far as Dunqiu.
'It is not I,' [I said], 'who would protract the time;
But you have had no good go-between.
I pray you be not angry,
And let autumn be the time.'

Poetic translation

Here is a rather free but highly poetic interpretation called "The Faithless Man", from a Chinese website.

A man seemed free from guile,
In trade he wore a smile,
He'd barter cloth for thread;
No, to me he'd be wed.
We went across the ford;
I'd not give him my word.
I said by hillside green,
"You have no go-between.
Try to find one, I pray.
In autumn be the day!"



Nagaya (長屋) is associated the vicinity of what is today called Mt. Chōya (長屋山) -- read Chōya-zan or Chōya-san depending on who you ask -- and Nagaya-yama by those who prefer Yamato names. In earlier times it known to be in Kawabe county (川辺郡) of Satsuma province (薩摩国). The mountain which rises to 513 meters and, as its name implies, is long -- is is in part the centerpiece of Choyazan Natural Park in the Kaseda (加世田) area of Minami Satsuma city in Kagoshima prefecture.

From the Meiji period, many of the villages were absorbed into the village, town, then city of Kaseda (加世田), immediately to the east of Kasasa town (笠沙町 Kasasa machi). Both these municipalities are now part of Minami Satsuma city (南さつま市) city.


Kasasa no misaki

The promontory of Kasasa (笠狭碕 Kasasa no misaki) appears to refer to a small peninsula which juts northwest from the south end of Fukiagehama (吹上浜), the stretch of coast in the middle of the west side of Satsuma peninsula. Kasasa is today most closely associated with a part of the peninsula that marks the beginning of a even smaller hook of land called Noma peninsula (野間半島), at the end of which is point Noma (野間岬 Noma no misaki).

What was called what, by whom and when, probably has no answer. Today, too, names on maps, and popular names, considerably vary.

The most prominent landmark on the Kasasa peninsula, as I am calling it, is Mt. Noma (野間岳 Nomadake), which sharply rises to 591 meters from the knob of the peninsula, which starts just few kilometers west of Mt. Chōya (Nagaya). Both mountains are popular hiking areas, and Mt. Noma, like Mt. Chōya, is associated with a natural park.

From the summit of Mt. Noma one can see, immediately to the west, the Kasasa area at the neck of Noma peninsula, the westward sweep of the peninsula, which hooks to the south, and point Noma (野間岬 Noma no misaki) at its end. The peninsula is covered with trees between which rise a number of windmills. The peninsula and the point have the distinction of marking the westernmost extension of land on the Kyushu island part of Kagoshima prefecture.

These landmarks are part of Kasasa machi (笠沙町), an independent town until 2005, when it became part of Minami Satsuma city (南さつま市 Minami Satsuma shi), which embraces the southwest corner of Satsuma peninsula, including the Nagaya area.

Satsuma peninsula marks the southwest extremity of Kyushu.

Kagoshima peninsula, to its west, marks both the southeast and southernmost extremities, from which one would continue south to the islands of Tanegashima, Okushima, Amami Ōshima, and the rest of the Ryukyu chain.

Satsuma peninsula and Kagoshima peninsula constitute the most important parts of Kagoshima prefecture, which was formed in the 1870s out of the entirety of Ohosumi (Ōsumi) and Satsuma provinces. At the time these two provinces were formed, they were seem to have been inhabited by possibly different Hayato tribes, one on the eastern Ohosumi side, the other on the western Satsuma -- or Ata -- side of Tsukushi.



Ata (吾田) is an older name for the western part of present-day Kagoshima prefecture. Once called Ata no kuni (吾田国), by no later than 702, it had become Hayato (?) province (唱更国 Hayato [?] no kuni), and soon after that it was renamed Satsuma province (薩摩国 Satsuma no kuni).

The disappearance of Ata (written 阿多 in some texts) as a place name in the area of Kasasa is accounted for by its early embrace into Satsuma province.

The graphs survive in the name of Agata (吾田), a village upgraded to a town in 1948 and the center of Nichinan city (日南市 Nichinan-shi) since 1950. The city, due east and a bit to the north of Noma and Kasasa, is in the southern part of Miyazaki prefecture, formerly Hyūga province -- on the opposite, i.e., Hyūga (Himuka) side of Kyushu (Tsukushi).


Karakuni controversy



Karakuni versus munakuni


Karakuni versus munakuni

Chamberlain makes the following observation about the the received text he has translated literally (Chamberlain 1932:135-136, note 16; remarks in [square brackets] are mine).

Camberlain's critique of Motoori on "Karakuni"

This is the sense of the original Japanese text of the passage as literally as it can be rendered, and so the older editors understood it. Motowori [Motoori Norinaga] however, though not daring actually to alter the characters, assumes that they are corrupt, and in his kana rendering gives us this instead: "Thereupon, passing searchingly through a bare-backed empty country, he arrived at the august cape of Kasasa, and said: 'This land is a land whereon the morning sun shines straight, etc.'" His evident reason for wishing to alter the reading is simply and solely to conceal the fact that Korea is mentioned, and mentioned in a not unfriendly manner, in the traditional account of the divine age, i.e., long before the epoch of its so-called revelation and conquest by the Empress Jin-gō (see Sects. XCVI to XCVII(I). That the parallel passage of the "Chronicles" [Nihon shoki] lends some sanction to his view is no excuse for so dishonest a treatment of the text he undertakes to commentate; for the "Records" [Kojiki] and the "Chronicles" often differ greatly in the accounts they have preserved. One of Motowori's arguments is that, as Kasasa is said to have been in the province of Hiuga [Hyōga, i.e., Himuka], it could not have been opposite to Korea, seeing that Hiuga faces east and not west. He here forgets that a little later on in his own same Commentary (Vol. XVII, p. 86) he asserts that Hiuga in ancient times included the provinces of Ohosumi and Satsuma, the latter of which does face west.


Soshishi no munakuni


The graphs, and their meaning, would seem to be very significant.

膂 means backbone, but its extended meanings include strength (as of back), meat (as on back), and carry (as on back). Its Sino-Japanese reading is "ryo" and its Yamato reading is "sebone" (backbone). Though now classifed under the moon radical (月), it was originally a meat radical (肉) character.

宍 is originally a graphic variation of 肉. It therefore shares the same Sino-Japanese and Yamato readings of "niku" and "shishi" and their essential meanings of "meat" or "flesh". The Yamato reading "shishi" commonly refers to either the meat of a wild animal, or to the animal itself. It especially refers to animals that have been commonly hunted for their meat, especially boar (猪 i, i-no-shishi) and deer (鹿 shika, ka-no-shishi). Graphs that can be read "shishi" include 獣 (kedamono) meaning hairy thing or wild animal, 猪 (i) or boar, and 鹿 (shika) or deer.


Ninigi's legacy



Sovereigns mortal (Kojiki version)

After building a palace at Takachiho (according to some versions), Ninigi treks to a place called Kasasa in the southwest of Tsukushi (Kyushu). There he spots a beautiful girl who turns out to be the younger daughter of the god of the mountains, an earthly deity.

The girl's name is Sakuyahime and Ninigi wishes to marry her. He agrees also to marry her older sister Ihanagahime. When Ihanagahime turns out to be ugly, he sends her back and keeps only Sakuyahime, who becomes pregnant in one night.

In the Kojiki version of the tale, the god of the mountains condemns Ninigi's offspring with Sakuyahime to a mortal life. This is cited as reason the lives of Yamato sovereigns have not been long -- or at least not as long as those of the immortal gods.

Ko no hana   Ninigi's sons by Sakuyahime condemned to live no longer than blossoms
Kojiki 2, undated, BJ (before Jinmu, before Japan)

Translation   [The god of the mountains delivers these words to Ninigi:] ". . . Therefore, the precious precious longevities of the precious sons of the heavenly gods, shall only as long as ⟨Take the sounds of the these five graphs.⟩ the blossoms of trees." Therefore, due to this, until now, the precious lives of the precious sovereigns precious have not been long.

only as long as The five graphs used to transliterate the phrase are 阿摩比能尾 (a-ma-hi-no-mi). See Note 11 to Yamato translation below.

the blossoms of trees There is clearly a metaphorical link between this description of the fate of Sakuyahime's children to her name. See comments on "Blossoms of trees" below.

Kanbun   故、天神御子之御壽者、木花之阿摩比能尾 ⟨此五字以音。⟩ 坐。故、是以至于今、天皇命等之御命不長也。(NKBT 1:132)

Yamato translation   "Yuwe, Ama-tsu-kami no mi-ko no mi-inochi ha, ko-no-hana no amahi nomi [Note 11] masamu." Yuwe, kore wo mochite ima ni itaru made, Sumera mikoto tachi no mi-inochi nagaku masazaru nari. (NKBT 1:132)

amahi nomi (阿摩比能尾) NKBT Note 11 states that the meaning of "amahi" is not clear, but speculates that it means "morokute hakanai" (もろくてはかない), while "nomi" has the usual meaning of "sore dake da" (それだけだ) -- hence "tada morokute hakanai dake da" -- i.e., "is but fragile and without hope". The note continues to cite the parallel passage in the Nihon shoki. See Note 14 to Chamberlain's translation (below).

Chamberlain's translation   ". . . the august offspring of the Heavenly Deity shall but as frail [Note 14] as the flowers of the trees." So it is for this reson that down to the present day the august lives of Their Augustnesses the Heavenly Sovereigns are not long.

but as frail Chamberlain Note 14 observes: "The precisse meaning of the syllables a-ma-hi-no-mi, here rendered by the words "but as frail" in accordance with Motowori's and Moribe's tentative interpretation, is extremely obscure. The parallel passage in the "Chronicles" is 木花之移落, i.e., "fading and falling like the flowers of the trees." See text and translations of parallel passage in Nihon shoki [Chronicles] below.

Philippi's translation   ". . . the life of the child of the heavenly deities shall continue only for the interval of the blossoming of the trees." [Note 12] For this reason, until this day the emperors have not been long-lived. (Philippi 1968:145)

shall continue only for the interval of the blossoming of the trees Philippi Note 12 says "Or 'shall be delicate as the blossoms of the trees.' This curse is a mythical explanation of the morality of the emperors, despite their heavenly ancestry. In the Nihon shoki, the same story is given to account for the shortness of human life.


What's in a name

In the Kojiki version, the beautiful girl gives her name as "Kamu Ata-tsu-hime" (神阿多都比賣) meaning "Divine princess of Ata" -- apparently because she was associated with the area or a tribe of Ata. She immediately adds that she is also called "Ko-no-hana no Sakuya-hime" (木花之佐久夜毘賣) meaning "Princess blooming of the blossoms-of-trees".

In the main Nihon shoki version, she calls herself Kashi-tsu-hime (鹿葦津姫) meaning "Princess of Kashi [Ka-ashi]" ("Kashi" probably being a placename), while an interlineal comment remarks that in another text she gave her name first as "Kamu Ata-tsu-hime" (神吾田津姫) and then as "Ko-no-hana no Sakuyabime" (木花之開耶姫), In another Nihon shoki version she is also called "Kamu Ata Kashi-tsu-hime" (神吾田鹿葦津姫).

Sakuyahime's ugly older sister's name means "Princess of long rocks" (石長毘賣 in Kojiki, 磐長姫 in Nihon shoki).

Original sin

Philippi, as have others, pointed out that this is only one version of a common tale that has counterparts elsewhere in the world. The cycle of tales does, include numerous elements that bear comparison with similar elements in tales around the world.

It is also, if one thinks about it, tantamount to the "original sin" committed by Adam and Eve when they ate the forbidden fruit. As punishment for their offense, they were driven from the Garden of Eden, outside of which they their lives would be mortal.

In the Japanese tales, Ninigi is punished for refusing to show his gratitude for the delicious fruit by also eating the less delicious fruit, thus treating both with respect but, perhaps more importantly, honoring his promise. If the ugly older sister had to suffer the shame of rejection, his issue with the pretty younger sister would suffer eventual death -- and the punishment would would be born by their lineal descendants in perpetuum.


People mortal (Nihon shoki version)


Ko no hana   Ninigi's sons by Sakuyahime condemned to live no longer than blossoms
Kojiki 2, undated, BJ (before Jinmu, before Japan)

Translation   "The children born to him, will certainly like the blossoms of the trees, scatter and fall." One [Another text] says, . . . "The manifest and apparent grasses [people] that grow [live], like the blossoms of trees, will presently [in time] shift [move, change] and tumble [fall] and [consequently] wane [weaken, decline]." This is the reason people of the world shortly [after a brief time] break [die].

Kanbun   故其生児、必如木花之、移落。一云、. . . 顕見蒼生者、如木花之、俄遷転当衰去矣。此世人短折之縁也。(NKBT 67:155)

Yamato translation   "Yuwe, sono umuramu miko ha, kanarazu ko no hana no amahi ni, chiriochinamu" to ifu. Aru ni ihaku, . . . "Utsushiki awohitokusa ha, ko no hana no amahi ni, shibaraku ni utsurohite otorohenamu" [Note 13] to ifu. Kore hito no inochi moroki koto no moto nari to ifu. (NKBT 67:154)

Utsushiki . . . otorohenamu NKBT Note 13 says "utsushiki (顕見) means "living and existing in this world", while "awohitokusa" (蒼生) means 青人草 (ao-hito-kusa), and "otorohenamu" (衰去へなむ) means "will most likely wither [fade, wane, weaken, decline, decay, subside]". See comments on "Manifest gods" below.

Aston's translation   "[Ihanagahime curses Ninigi, saying that his children by her would have existed forever like the boulders, whereas '. . . the children born to him [by Sakuyahime] will surely be decadent like the flowers of the trees.'" / One version is:--"Iha-naga-hime . . . said:--'The race of visible mankind shall change swiftly like the flowers of the trees, and shall decay and pass away.' This is the reason why the life of man is so short." (Aston 1:84-85).


Manifest gods

Morphologically, though, "utsushiki" is the attributive form of the adjective "utsushi" (現し、顕し) meaning visible, manifest, apparent, evident, noticeable, obvious, shown, displayed and the like. In his 1 January 1946 Imperial Rescript, popularly called a "declaration of humanity" (人間宣言 ningen sengen, "human declaration"), Hirohito referred to "ficticious notions which hold tenno to be manifest gods" (my translation) -- in which "manifest gods" reflects "akitsu mikami" (現御神). It could just as well ave been "utsushiki mikami".

The expression "aohitokusa" (青人草) likens the proliferation of people to the growth of grass. As such it is a metaphor for "the people" (人民) of a country -- the folk (民 tami, min), the folk grass (民草 tamikusa), and nationals (国民 kunitami, kokumin).

Consequently, "utsushiki aohitokusa ha" (顕見蒼生者) means something like "as for the grass of people that is manifest [in this world]".


Sibling loyalty

Ni, with whom he sired the next in line, who married the daughter of another earthly god, whose son mated with his material aunt to father the god who become now known as Jinmu, the "first emperor" of the Yamato court.

The future Jinmu is supposed to have left the Takachiho palace in Himuka, made his way through the Seto sea, landed at Kiinokuni (紀伊国), subjugated Nagasunebiko and his allies (長髄彦), and built a palace at Kashihara (橿原) in Unebi (畝傍) in the province of Yamato (大和国), in present-day Nara prefecture, and thereby established the first court of the Yamato dynasty in 660 BC.

Kyushu is thus a strong candidate for the cradle of the Yamato nation that is said to have been established in the middle of Honshu. The founding myths all point to places in Tsukushi, as Kyushu was originally called, as the place where Ninigi, the grandson of Amaterasu, descended as a heavenly god (天神 ama-tsu-kami), sometime after the pacification of the unruly earthly [land, country] gods (国神、地祇 kuni-tsu-kuni), to search for a good place to build a palace.

Heavenly gods, when descending in order to directly oversee the affairs of the lands or countries on the islands, inevitably mated with the earthly gods. This would be the pattern of later expeditions undertaken for the purpose of expansion -- i.e., mixture following migration.

Miscegnation between heavenly and earthly gods had consquences for the future of the heavenly line. In the following account, the mating of Amaterasu's grandson with the daughter of an earthly god produced the grandfather of Jinmu, who completed the mission of establishing a heavenly government deep in the bowels of "Ōyamato" (大倭) as Honshu was called.

Heavenly rule over the lands of the islands can begin only after the unruly earth dieties have been subdued and pacified. This is largely achieved by the surrender of the dieties in Izumo (出雲 Idzumo) in present-day Shimane prefecture (島根県).

Amaterasu then commanded her grandson to descend to the islands and establish a heavenly country. For reasons the gods chose not to disclose to historians, the heavenly grandson crossed the Heavenly Floating Bridge (天浮橋 Ama no Ukihashi) and descended -- not to Izumo -- but to the peak of Takachiho (高千穂) in Himuka (日向) in Tsukushi (筑紫) [竺紫日向之高千穗].

Commentators have difficulty with this statement.

At Himuka the heavenly grandson set off on his mission to find a good place to settle. The search takes him to a promontory called Kasasa (笠沙之御前). The place is described as a good land -- a country where the sun shines in the morning and evening -- implying that it is ideally suited for homes and graves.

In the Kojiki version, the heavenly grandson reached Kasasa by facing 韓國, which is read "Karakuni" and would seen to mean Korea -- but, if following three of the four Nihon shoki versions, must be an error for 空国, which is read "munakuni" but could also be read "karakuni".

This tale consists of many fascinating elements, each of which could eaily consume a chapter if not a book of anthropological commentary -- related to courtship and marriage, sexual intimacy and fidelity, pregnancy and childbirth, parturition huts and fire, recognition and legitimacacy, and naming, to mention only a few topics of interest -- all crossed by comparisions of practices in different parts of Asia and the Pacific, including southern Kyushu and the Ryukyu islands. I will resist the temptation to initiate such discussions here, as my only purpose is to show how early texts represent migration and mixture.

While Philippi's version takes advantage of findings and understandings not available to Chamberlain, his attempts to reconstruct an earlier phonology get in the way of understanding the text. He should have romanized the names according to either historical or present-day orthography and left the finer linguistic minutiae for the back matter, which is actually quite useful.

Chamberlain's rendition, though quaint in places, is actually very readible and is arguably the superior of two. His English dubs for the Japanese names are important, because the names are significant -- i.e., their meanings are part of the story. However, they should have been shown in parentheses following the Japanese names.

Amatsuhiko Hikoho no Ninigi no Mikoto meets the beautiful Sakuyahime of Cape Kasasa. Sakuyahime was the daughter of Ōyama-tsu-mi no Kami, a child of Izanagi and Izanami, who also gave birth to the eight islands that became Japan. One of the islands was Tsukushi.

Sakuyahime's father also gives Ninigi her ugly older sister in the bargain. When Ninigi rejects the older sister, the Sakuyahime's father curses him with mortal life. She becomes pregnant in one night. Ninigi doubts his paternity. She torches her parturition chamber and gives birth to triplets, who survive the ordeal by fire, which proves that they are the his children.


Inherent dominion



Jinmu's mixed blood

As shown above, both the Kojiki and Nihon shoki clearly describe Jinmu as being an amalgam of divine blood lines at least three generations in the making.

By my calculation -- based on multiple received versions of the legends, which tell of the encounters between heavenly (Yamato) gods and earthly (mountain and sea) gods -- the encounters span three generations of miscegenation and incest -- on earth -- before a certain mixed-blood prince -- who is 1/8 heavenly god and 7/8 earthly god (1/8 mountain god [Hayato], 6/8 sea god) -- establishes his earthly court as Jinmu.

Though I had made these estimations of "blood quantum" some time ago, I first publicaly shared them in a thread called "Language similarities" on the Premodern Japanese Studies (PMJS) forum on 2009/08/12 8:14 Japan time. In this, my third contribution to the thread, I addressed a number of remarks made by the linguistic Alexander Vovin to earlier remarks I had made in general agreement with earlier remarks he had made about the origins of the "Japanese" language and what he calls "Japonic".

Here is the full text of the remarks I posted on the PMJS forum concerning the probable southern origins of the Japanese language -- "probable" in the light of mythology, since definitive linguistic evidence is lacking. I have taken the liberty, here, of citing the remark by Vovin that prompted me to share my views of the Kojiki and Nihon shoki genesis stories.

The first of the following remarks is part of my second contribution (2009/07/29 9:07) to the thread. The remark is not in response to anything Alexander Vovin said in his earlier contributions, but rather addresses the manner in which many people wonder from where, and when, Japanese came to Japan -- a notion which has always struck me as odd, for how could "Japanese" have "come" to "Japan"? I have underscored the phrase that Vovin cited in my remark by way of making the remark he made in his next contribution (2009/07/30 0:03), to which I made the remark I cite below from my third contribution (2009/08/12 8:14).

William Wetherall (2009/07/29 9:07)

Japanese never came -- never walked, oared, sailed, or drifted -- to Japan. Japanese invented themselves in the territory they came to call Japan -- and did so fairly recently -- within historical times. From that point forward, the mainstream language of Japan can be called Japanese. In speaking of the "roots" of Japan, or of its population or language or whatever, we back track and stumble through a tangle of incomplete mostly prehistorical evidence, physical anthropological and archaeological, aided by some very hi-tech science. All received and synthesized evidence suggests the complexity of migration and mixture of people -- within and around what over the centuries became Japan -- that we would expect to find in such a large and convoluted territory. I think of early "Japan" like I think of early "California" with its enormous demographic, cultural, and linguistic diversity.

Alexander Vovin (2009/07/30 0:03)

Well, the language they spoke existed long before they would invent themselves whether in historic or prehistoric times. It might be different on many levels, but essentially it would be the same. Let me just give one example. The modern word for flower is hana, segmentally the same in both Kantoo and Kansai, but having different accent patterns. In Ryukyus we have variation: hana / fana / pana. In Old Japanese it was pana, so we can safely conclude that when ancestors of Japonic landed on the islands it was probably *pana. However, as I suggested a couple of times, if we get rid of pitch accent in Japonic (which does not fall from the sky like manna, but should come from the loss of certain segmental characteristics), the pre-Japonic form could only be *bana. And this form we cannot possibly geographically localize: it could be used before the pack arrived to the islands, or it could be a form that all of them used when already in the islands.

William Wetherall (2009/08/12 8:14)

Sure. This is certainly an argument for the relative spread of "Japonic" -- or at least of some of its vocabulary -- though I realize you are not speaking of "hana" as a loan word. I find your last remark, though, to be the most important.

Even if "hana" was a word "all of them used when already in the islands", the word "hana" did not -- to borrow your manna expression -- just fall from the sky. It started somewhere, with some individual uttering it, then others used it and its usage spread. As it spread within the extended family of "Japonic" speakers, it acquired the traits of their speech as these traits changed -- systematically, I believe you would argue, and I would agree.

No matter where a word comes from, it will be systematically "localized" by its speakers, just as English and other European language loans have been Japanized -- and such Japanizations literally speak volumes about contemporary Japanese linguistic traits. Which is what makes written records with phonetic clues so valuable.

Supposing, though, that "hana" arrived with a pack of "Japonic" speakers. Did it arrive in the south and move north? Did it arrive somewhere in the middle and move south and north? Did it arrive north and move south? All are possible, but which is probable -- given what we know or can reasonably conjecture about migration in the region and diffusion of regional languages?

Or, supposing that "Japanic" developed somewhere within the islands from earlier forms that are beyond the reach of linguistic extrapolation (reconstruction) -- what is the most likely locality for such a development -- again, given what we know from traces of settlements and their material cultures, and what they tell us about their social and possibly political organization?

Watanabe Shoichi supposes -- provocatively -- that Yamato kotoba and its kotodama are essentially "native" to the islands. He might admit that the roots of such a "native" tongue had to have been elsewhere -- given the unlikelihood that its first speakers did not parachute, or otherwise fall, from the sky -- but that is what the early genesis legends in effect say. And I suppose that is what we should expect they would say.

But the genesis legends also say something else. They say the earthly migration came out of Kyushu. Why? Simply to bolster the court's view in the late 7th and early 8th centuries that Hayato were naturally expected to join the its fold, since they were essentially already enfolded?

Why go to so much trouble, to repeat so many versions of the genesis story in the Nihon shoki, just to legitimize the assimilation of a small, peripheral group, so far from Kinki -- an assimilation that had already essentially taken place? I would think the real reason for the repetition -- the emphasis -- is that there was a strong oral tradition of southern origins and Hayato connections.

To follow the logic of your "national/tribal conscience" thread -- I would think that the compilers of the Kojiki and Nihon shoki, and the Yamato court which commissioned their compilation, had to have had an emotional mindset about the court's geographic if not demographic roots -- in Kyushu.

I am not, in the following statements, arguing with you, but pursuing the logic of your thread, as I argue mostly with myself.

Never mind the actual historical conditions of the court within the few centuries leading up to the end of the 7th century. Never mind that some of the earliest putative tenno lived impossibly long lives and were otherwise drawn larger than life. Never mind that some of the earlier accounts may have been spun out of imaginary yarn.

What is important is the sheer tenacity of the Kyushu-origin genesis story.

The story (in several versions) tells of encounters between heavenly (Yamato) gods and earthly (mountain and sea) gods. The encounters span three generations of miscegenation and incest -- on earth -- before a certain mixed-blood prince -- who is 1/8 heavenly god, 7/8 earthly god (1/8 mountain god [Hayato], 6/8 sea god) -- establishes his earthly court as Jinmu.

I have a hard time picturing the compilers sitting around and saying, "Hey, how do we put a spin on this story that is favorable to the court?" They have the opportunity to fabricate a genesis story that claims Kyushu origins. But where is the motive? And why would anyone bother to fabricate not one, but several versions? To fake their antiquity? "Hey, why not create several different versions, with slight differences, so people will think they branched off a single original story and then changed a little over time?"

I rather think the compilers passively accepted what by then had become the received accounts -- and simply passed them on -- out of sheer conviction that, true or not, they must have made sense to the people who transmitted them over the years, and apparently recorded them here and there -- losing some details, embellishing others -- but hey, what is a fish story for except to make the fish larger and more difficult to catch? Presumably the fisherman and the fish were real, and the fish didn't get away.

So I would think that -- if there is anything to gain para linguistically from the Kyushu genesis stories -- it is that the heavenly and earthly gods who mixed their genes on Kyushu shared -- eventually -- more than a few rolls in the proverbial rice straw. They probably shared, or came to share, the language they used when expressing their joy and indignation and rage and jealousy and grief. And that would suggest that -- if the language of the names of the heavenly and earthly gods and of the songs recorded in the genesis stories was Jinmu's language -- then "Japonic" most likely came out Kyushu.