The Saeki Clan (佐伯氏)

The Saeki clan was a powerful clan in ancient Japan.

The Saeki clan led Saeki-be (people served Yamato Dynasty and resided at Saeki) as the principal Tomo no miyatsuko (the chief of various departments at the Imperial Court) and served the Imperial Court as guard of the Imperial Palace's gates and as military aid. The Imperial Palace's gates at which the Saeki clan had served was named "Saeki-mon" (Saeki Gate) after their surname, however, because Tang culture was the latest trend, Saeki-mon (佐伯門 pronounced as "safeki-mon" in those days and "safeki" was Japanese word) of Heian-kyu Palace which was built much later was changed to Soheki-mon (藻壁門 pronounced as "saufeki-mon" in those days and "saufeki" was the then Chinese pronunciation) which sound was very similar to Saeki-mon. The clan's kabane (hereditary title) was initially "Muraji," however, in 685 another title "Sukune" was bestowed together with other clans of the same family, such as the Otomo clan. After the Nara period, the clan was often involved in political conflicts (refer to the related articles), and every time some members of the clan had to be punished, therefore, the clan gradually declined.

Origin of the clan
It had been believed that the Saeki clan was descendents of a god, Ame no Oshihi no Mikoto who had guided the way for Ninigi no Mikoto (the Prince of fertile rice-ears) when a god Ninigi no Mikoto had come down to the earth (the occasion has been called "Tenson Korin"). They separated from the Otomo clan in the era of OTOMO no Muroya.

The reading and meaning of Saeki
Some historians had been saying that since the clan served as the guards of the Imperial Court to prevent ("safeki-ru" in ancient Japanese) the enemies from intruding, people began to call them "safeki" in ancient Japanese.
In later years, the reading has changed from 'safeki' to 'saeki' and in some regions, to 'saiki.'
Some historian say that Saeki (佐伯) was a compound of 佐 (meant to support) and 伯 (meant a noble person) for describing the clan's duty which was to support a noble person.

Figures from the same family
Saeki no Miyatsuko
SAEKI no Miyatsuko was recorded in the volume of Jo, Shinbetsu, Ukyo of "Shinsen Shoji-roku" (Newly Compiled Register of Clan Names and Titles of Nobility), according to it, his former surname was "Saekibe." According to the "Nihon shoki" (Chronicles of Japan), he was a descendant of SAEKIBE no Nakachiko, who was Toneri (palace servant) of Ichinobe no Oshiwa no Miko (Prince Ichinobe no Oshiwa); and according to the article of February 5, 492 of the same book, the Imperial Court summoned Saeki-be of various provinces to appoint them to Kajo (managers controlling lower officials and operating the court's various facilities).

SAEKI no Obito
SAEKI no Obito was recorded in the volume of Shinbetsu, Kawachi Province of "Shinsen Shoji-roku."

[Original Japanese]