Kibi no Otodo Nitto Emaki (吉備大臣入唐絵巻)

Kibi no Otodo Nitto Emaki is the name of a Japanese picture scroll. It belongs to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in the United States of America.

It is thought to be one of the picture scrolls manufactured under Emperor Goshirakawa around the end of the 12th century, the late Heian period. Although it was moved to Shin Hachiman-gu Shrine in Obama Domain for safety in 1441, it was later brought out from the house of the Sakai family, the castellan of Obama-jo Castle, in the Edo period and came to be in the possession of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in 1932.


The contents of the picture scroll match the story marked down in "Godansho," written by OE no Masafusa, and the story is about KIBI no Makibi, a Japanese envoy sent to Tang Dynasty China, who succeeds in returning to Japan after being imprisoned during his visit to Tang by solving arduous tasks: "Monzen" (Wen-hsuan, ancient Chinese poems) Igo (board game of capturing territory) and more set by the Emperor of Tang, with the guidance of his companion ABE no Nakamaro who passed away and became a ghost.

However, the existing picture scroll is lacking the part of the kotobagaki (epigraphs, head notes) about Makibi arriving in Tang and being imprisoned in the opening scene, and the scene where Makibi succeeds in breaking a code of the 'Yamatai shi' (Poem on Japan) in the latter part.

As a historical fact, Makibi and Nakamaro got into Tang together in 717, but only Nakamaro stayed behind in Tang and passed away there in 770. Makibi returned to Japan in 735, and went back to Tang again in 752, before again returning to Japan with Ganjin (Jianzhen) and other people. Therefore, it is thought that the story of the Kibi no Otodo Nitto Emaki deals with Makibi's second visit to Tang even though Nakamaro was still alive at that time.

[Original Japanese]