Wakeno Kiyomaro/和氣清麻呂 -Heroes no.1-

This article can be read in about 6 minutes.

The statue of Wakeno Kiyomaro has kept looking closely at the Emperor and his family outside of the Imperial Palace since 1940. It was built as an anniversary of the 2,600th year of the Imperial Era in Japan.

Wake-no Kiyomaro (733AD-799AD) was one of the Japanese heroes who defended the fundamental character of the nation, the emperor.

In the middle of the 8th century, Empress Shotoku maintained the country and Dokyo supported her as the highest positioned Buddhist monk.

The incident occurred in 769AD.
The oracle of Usa shrine reads that the country would experience peace and calm if Dokyo became the emperor.

The Empress Shotoku tried to dispatch her servant Buddhist nun and make sure whether the oracle is true or not. 
Since she was in poor health, she asked her younger brother, Wake-no Kiyomaro, to do it.
FYI: The distance between the palace in Nara and Usa shrine is around 650 kilometers. 

He went to Usa shrine and succeeded to receive another oracle.
The oracle reads that “Since the country had started its operation, the emperor and his subordinates had been separated in position.
It never happened that the emperor’s subordinate replaced him.
The emperor should be from the line of the descendants of the sun goddess, Amaterasu.
A person who did not know this principle should be eradicated. ” 

It was said that Dokyo tried to corrupt Wake-no Kiyomaro.
Dokyo would get Wake-no Kiyomaro promoted if he returned with good news.
So, this incident might be planned by Dokyo himself.

The fundamental character of the nation, the emperor, was protected thanks to Wake-no Kiyomaro.

However, Wake-no Kiyomaro had difficulty.
Dokyo got mad at him and forced him to change his name from Wake-no Kiyomaro to Wake-no Kitanamaro.
It means purity (kiyo) was changed into dirtiness(kitana). 

In addition, his Achiles tendons were cut and he was sent to Osumi, around 1,000 kilometers far from the palace.

Believe it or not, his Achiles tendons were cured when he dropped by Usa shrine on his way to Osumi.

Curious to say, many wild boars guided and protected Wake-no Kiyomaro to Usa shrined from the assassins whom Dokyo dispatched. It seems to be a protection of the Kami of Usa shrine.

Kami: this is the Japanese term for the Shinto deities.
According to Shinto belief, Kami exists everywhere, such as mountains, rocks, water, fire, a grain of rice and so on.
Also human beings can become a Kami after they passed away.
For example, an aristocrat in the early 8th century, Sugawara Michizane and a Shogun(samurai leader) in the early 17th century, Tokugawa Ieyasu were enshrined at Kitano Tenmangu Shrine and  Nikko Toshogu shrine respectively.  

After Empress Shotoku passed away, Wake-no Kiyomaro regained his position and contributed to the country especially about river projects.
Of course, Dokyo was kicked out from the palace.

Later, the 121st Emperor Kotoku praised Wake-no Kiyomaro’s contribution by giving him the Kami rank and Kami name “Gooh-Daimyojin”.
There are several shrines where Wake-no Kiyomaro had been enshrined as Kami.

And then, Wake-no Kiyomaro was printed on the 10 yen notes from 1890 to 1946.

Who is your country’s hero? And what they did?



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