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Izumo province

Izumo (出雲国; -no kuni) was an old province of Japan which today consists of the eastern part of Shimane prefecture of the Chugoku region.

It was one of the regions of ancient Japan where major policital powers rose. Anciently the powerful clan of Izumo (or Idumo, second the ancient Japanese reading) constituted one be independent but during IV the century d.C. it was absorbed from the expansion of the state of Yamato , to whose inside assumed the chaste role of sacerdotal. Still today the Great Sanctuary of Izumo constitutes (together to the sanctuary of Ise ) one of the more important sacred places of the shintoismo : it is dedicated to kami the ďkuninushi (Opo-kuni-nusi-n÷-mik÷t÷), mythical progenitore of Susan˘ and all the clan of Izumo. History of Japan: Politics and society in the period Yamato or Kofun: Political and social structure .

IT is recorded in the Kojiki (Record of Ancient Matters, 712) and Nihonshoki (Chronicle of Japan, 720), that Susano-o, progenitor of the Izumo line, engaged Amaterasu Omikami (his sister), progenitor of the Yamato (Imperial) line, in a heavenly struggle for power on Earth. Amaterasu prevailed, but the myth of the Izumo godŇs challenge to central authority, and the awe that this inspired, means that Izumo holds a special historical and spiritual significance for Japanese.

By the middle of the twentieth century, most historians and archeologists were skeptical of the notion that Izumo, in present-day Shimane-ken (prefecture) (Yamato is in present-day Nara-ken), had ever been a locus of power. Most historians agreed that the legend of Izumo resistance had been fabricated as a means of establishing the legitimacy of the imperial clan. The modern-day interpretation was opened to review in 1984, however, with the discovery of the Kojindani ruins in western Izumo, where 358 short bronze swords were unearthed. In 1996, 39 bell-shaped bronze vessels were discovered in the Kamoiwakura ruins close by. Both sites date to b.c. 100đ100 a.d., in the middle of the Yayoi period, with the discovery of bronzeware there attesting to the very early cultural attainment of the region.

But what can we conclude from this vast store of vessels and short bronze swords?

The vessels are adorned with images of deer and dragonflies. Deer sprout new antlers in the spring. These grow quickly during the summer and drop off in the fall in a cycle that resembles the growth cycle of rice. For this reason, the Yayoi people apparently identified deer with sacred Earth spirits. Dragonflies are helpful insects that feed on rice-eating leaf-hoppers. The motifs of deer and dragonflies seem to indicate that the vessels were used in fertility cere-monies aimed at ensuring bountiful crops. The short swords show evidence of being unsharpened and were clearly not used as cutlery. Archeologists believe that they may have been modeled after full-sized swords and used in ceremonies to ward off evil spirits.

  
Yayoi-period bronze vessels, discovered at Kamoiwakura in 1996 ęShimane Prefectural Board of Education

  
The discovery of these ritual utensils has bolstered the idea that religious ceremonies were conducted throughout the Izumo area. It seems quite possible that a traditional religious system had already developed in Izumo in the Yayoi period that differed from the Yamato religious system. This hypothesis expands the imaginative possibilities connected with myths and Izumo-taisha (shrine). Indeed, the myths already indicate that the Yamato people found it very difficult to subdue the gods of Izumo. And we must not forget about the great healing properties attributed to medicinal herbs in the area, as reported in the eighth- century Izumo-no-kuni-fudoki regional survey. It seems plausible that the special features attributed to the land in Izumo could well have fostered the creation of a religious kingdom.

The existence of the ancient Izumo-taisha itself is evidence that Izumo was once an important center of religious faith. The shrineŇs main hall currently stands 24 meters high, but tradition has it that, in the times of the Yamato court (300đ650 a.d.), it was a towering 98 meters high. In the Kuchizusami, a textbook used by the Heian aristocracy (794đ1185), Izumo-taisha is said to stand 48 meters high and be the tallest edifice in Japan. The twelfth-century poet and Buddhist priest Jakuren recorded his amazement at the height of the main hall of Izumo-taisha, saying that the clouds of heaven streamed╔ and that the structure did not seem to belong to this world.

Many architectural experts have expressed doubt as to whether it was technically possible for Heian-period Japanese to build such a towering wooden structure. In April 2000, however, during an archeological survey on the shrine grounds, investigators unearthed the remains of one of the largest pillars ever discovered and dating to the Heian period. Three giant logs, each with a diameter of 1.2 meters, had been clamped together in a metal ring to create a single, vast pillar measuring more than 3 meters in diameter. By autumn, the existence of two more pillars had been confirmed.

Conjectural reconstruction points to a nine-pillar hall measuring 48 meters high, equivalent to a modern 14- or 15-story building. This discovery of a sanctuary that soared so high into the air has placed Izumo-taisha in the ranks of the pyramids of Egypt and the ancient tumulus mounds of the Kinki region as one of the great historical monuments of the world. It has also created a new puzzle for Japanese history, as to why a culture capable of high-rise construction flourished so far from the capital.

Today, the god of Izumo is worshipped nationwide as the god of marriage. IzumoŇs historical resistance to central authority now dissipated, its shrine stands serenely beneath the silent trees.

To the end of period Yayoi Japan is divided in small tens be independent , but during IV the century d.C. one of they, initially situated in a region in the Honshű centers them (the zone where currently the cities of Ky˘to and ďsaka are found) gradatamente extend the own infuence to the near zones and in short it succeeds in to control a region that extends from the island of Kyűshű to the West until to the Kant˘ (it puts into effect them region of T˘ky˘) to east. The origin of a dynasty (that one of Yamato) and one is this be unitary that continue formally (without continuity solution) until the days ours, even if probably in the V-vi century its structure was more similar to a small confederation be or clan ( uji ) that they recognized the supremacy of dai˘ [ the great king ] of Yamato (in the WAYS century would have only assumed the name of tenn˘ , "celestial monarch", than we usually translate with "emperor").

 
The be antichi of Izumo and Yamato

The details of this process of unification are in great part ignoti for the direct document absence. The first document written $R-with regard to these events that are reached in our possession is the Kojiki , an historical work of 712 (the that is posterior one of three centuries to the events in issue). In it one refers of military campaigns and punitive shipments undertaken from Yamato emperors, but the descriptions are generally much highly summarized and interlaced of mythology for which it is difficult makes an idea precise of the historical events to which they they refer. In it one alludes also to a "donation of territories" carried out from part of what it had to be the more powerful clan beyond to that one of Yamato: that one of Idumo (or Izumo , second the modern reading of the word). Also in this case it is not easy to understand if the narration of the Kojiki refers to an alliance or military conquest does not hide one rather. The importance of the contribution of Idumo to the birth of Japan can however be measured from the role that its mythology covers to the inside of the Kojiki : reading it it turns out clearly as one of the main worries of the compiler has been that one to create a unitary national mythology amalgamating and conciliating the two cycles narrated to you independent of Amaterasu (from which the Yamato dynasty it allegated to come down) and Susan÷wo (the main divinity of mythology of Idumo; in modern Japanese it comes read Susan˘).

In this period agriculture , the metallurgy and the technique of fabrication of the ceramics and the woven ones have a remarkable progress. That is sure legacy to the development of an organized social structure , in which as an example craftsmen and artists calls were subdivided in specialistic corporations ( be ) in which the various techniques they came conserved and handed on for hereditary way.

See also Japanese History