Johyobun (memorial to the Emperor) (上表文)

Johyobun indicates the act of presenting a written document to a monarch or the document itself. It is also called Josho.

Johyobun of the five kings of Wa

The king of Wa, Emperor Yuryaku (aka. Waobu), presented a Johyobun to Emperor 順帝 of Song (Southern Dynasty) in May 478.

Our country is located far away and have domains outside the country.'
From ancient times, ancestors of our kings equipped with armors explored mountains and rivers and had no peace.'
In the East, we conquered fifty-five countries of Emishi.'
In the West, we conquered sixty-six countries of Shui.'
Across the ocean, we conquered ninety-five countries.'
Your righteous government is peaceful and by reclaiming lands, your fame is spreading far and wide.'
We met all the kings of dynasties of your country and never failed to pay tributes every year.'
("Sosho" (Sung Shu) Wakokuden)

Waobu described the achievements of his ancestors in the Johyobun and boasted the power of Yamato sovereignty (the ancient Japan sovereignty) as if it was ruling over not only the east country of Japan where Emishi lived but also the countries of South Korea across Tsushima Straits. The first section of the Johyobun is especially famous. The Johyobun quoted several sentences from "Master Zuo's Commentary to the Spring and Autumns", "The Book of Odes", "Zhuang-zi", "Rites of Zhou", "Classic of History" and so on. For example, 'equipped with armors explored mountains and rivers' is an excerpt from "Master Zuo's Commentary to the Spring and Autumns". It shows the government official of Yuryaku Dynasty who wrote the Johyobun was highly educated on Chinese classics.

Waobu, one of the so-called 'the five kings of Wa', is identified as Emperor Yuryaku.
(-> Kofun period [tumulus period])

The Johyobun of Kenzuishi (a Japanese envoy to Sui Dynasty China)

The first Kenzuishi was sent to Sui Dynasty China in 600. Descriptions about the first envoy can be seen in "Suishu" (the Book of the Sui Dynasty) but not in "Nihonshoki" (Chronicles of Japan). By the way, the author of "Suishu" is Gicho (? - 643).

In 600, there is King of Wa, his family name is Ame, his nickname is Tarishihiko and his go (pen name) is Okimi. He sent an envoy who reached at our gate. (snip) His wife is called 雞彌. (snip) His son is called Rikamitahori (Suishu).

The year 600 falls on the 8th year of Emperor Suiko. It means that AME no Tarishihoko called heaven his older brother and the sun his younger brother, and his name was the reverend and noble son coming down to earth from heaven, associating tenson korin (descent of the heavenly grandchild). It is understood that 'Okimi' (阿輩雞彌) was the phonetic equivalent of Okimi (King in Japanese). If this description refrected the truth, King of Wa of Yamato sovereignty was called 'Okimi' as early as the end of the sixth century.

The following is a part of the famous official letter (Johyobun) from AME no Tarishihoko to Emperor Yodai of Sui Dynasty, which was brought by the second Kenzuishi.

The Son of Heaven where the sun rises, to the Son of Heaven where the sun sets.'
May good health be with you.' (Suishu)

The letter angered Emperor Yodai and the Emperor said to Korokei, a diplomat, that 'if another rude letter comes from the barbarian, do not bring it to me'.

In response to the letter, Emperor Yodai wrote an official letter to King of Wa, but according to "Nihonshoki", ONO no Imoko lost the letter on his way back.

In the third Kenzuishi (608), ONO no Imoko, chief of the envoy, NANIWANOKISHI Onari, deputy chief, and KURATSUKURI no fukuri, translator, were sent to Tang China with a party of HAI Seisei (an envoy of Sui Dynasty to Japan) and other eight students with another Johyobun (official letter) to the Tang's Emperor.

The contents of the official letter is transcribed in the article of September 608 of "Nihonshoki".

The Emperor of the East is honored to speak to the Emperor of the West.'
Dairai (the fifth grade official), ONO no Imoko and Onari, will be sent to visit you.'

This official letter did not contain the language, such as 'Emperor of Heaven' nor use pompous expressions as did in the previous letter. However, the word 'Emperor' was used instead of 'Wao' (King of Wa). If this transcription is authentic, this is the first instance that the word 'Emperor' was used in diplomatic documents of Wakoku (Japan).

Johyobun of Kento-shi (Japanese envoy to Tang Dynasty China)

The first Kento-shi was sent to Tang China in 630 with INUGAMI no Mitasuki as its chief.

In 863, an envoy was sent to pay tributes. Taiso felt worried for the envoy taking a long voyage to Tang, and ordered an officer in charge to spare the tributes of every year.
("Kutojo" (Old Tang History) 倭国日本伝)

In 863, an envoy was sent to pay tributes. Taiso felt worried for the envoy taking a long voyage to Tang, and ordered an officer in charge to spare the tributes of every year.
("Shintojo" (New Book of Tang) 日本伝)

In 631, Wakoku deployed an envoy to pay tributes to the King of Tang, but Taiso (Tang tai zong, the second Emperor of Tang) said to the office in charge that as Wakoku is located far from there, it does not need to pay tributes every year'.

China described the change of the country name in "Kutojo" (Old Tang History) and "Shintojo" (New Book of Tang).
(-> Wa)

Johyobun during the tally trade

The Ming Dynasty permitted tally trade only to the countries which brought a Johyobun with King's signature on it to Ming but otherwise refused to trade with.

Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA was one of those who sent a Johyobun as King of Japan to Emperor Yongle of Ming. According to the "Zenrin kokuhoki", the letter started with '日本国王 臣源表(す)' in accordance with the traditional form of a Chinese official letter and Emperor Yongle conferred the 'seal of the king of Japan' to him in return.

The preface of Kojiki (The Records of Ancient Matters)
The preface, which a compiler of Kojiki, O no Yasumaro (? - 723), has been believed to have presented to the Emperor, is also considered as Johyobun.

[Original Japanese]