Saturday, May 12, 2012

"for great is your reward in heaven" - Emperor Nintoku

A Tokyo Railroad

Emperor Nintoku

The three greatest tombs in the world are: the pyramid of Khufu in Egypt, the Mausoleum of First Emperor of Qin, China, and Emperor Nintoku's tomb in Japan.

Emperor Nintoku's tomb in Japan has a total length of 486 meters (1500 feet) and a height of 35 meters (110 feet).  The longest width is about 300 meters.  The total outer circumference outside the moat is about 2,718 meters (1.7 miles).

However there are no written records about how and when it was built in an area presently called Sakai City, Osaka Prefecture.  It is estimated that this emperor's tomb was constructed from the early to the middle 5th century.

Originally it must have looked as below, though depicted in the present environment:

But who was Emperor Nintoku?
Emperor Nintoku (257? - 399?) was the 16th emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. 
No firm dates can be assigned to this emperor's life or reign, but he is conventionally considered to have reigned from 313–399.
Emperor Nintoku, one day, watched the capital from an upper floor of his palace.  But he could not see many smokes rising from kitchen furnaces of people's households.  People did not look like cooking  gorgeously at all.  Weather condition did not look favorable, either.   So, the emperor thought, "As we have launched military campaigns in many times to the Korean Peninsula, people must be exhausted.  Since the economic situation around the palace is so bad, how terrible it is far from the capital."

So, Emperor Nintoku decided to stop imposing tax and compulsory labor for three years.  The emperor also ordered to make rituals and other activities in the imperial court simple and economical.  And finally a climate was improved and agriculture production returned to a previous high level.  People came to have reasonable lives and their morale got strengthened.

Accordingly, Emperor Nintoku said, "Now people have become affluent again." But his empress said, "Who is affluent?.  Look at our palace and our clothing, all worn out and in rags." Nintoku defended, saying, "If people have become rich, we will be also rich naturally."  Yet, Emperor Nintoku decided to found a special agency to take care of living of his son and another agency to take care of living of the empress.

In September of the year, his subjects reported to the emperor that local countries fully recovered from the attrition.  Officials wanted to collect tax again.  But, Emperor Nintoku stopped application of taxation.

Further three years passed.  Then as winter came, Emperor Nintoku decided to revamp his palace.  But before the emperor issued an order, people came to work spontaneously to the palace.  The imperial palace was in this way restored to have splendor again.  So, people started to call Ninton the holy emperor.

This is a story about Emperor Nintoku recorded in the oldest imperial history/myth book called the Chronicles of Japan.

*** *** *** ***

Mat 5:12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.