Awata no Mahito (粟田真人)

AWATA no Mahito (year of birth unknown - February 28, 719) is a court noble from the latter half of the Asuka period through until the Nara period. A Japanese envoy to Tang Dynasty China; Kento-shi (Japanese envoy to Tang Dynasty China). The Awata clan is a family that is descended from the same origin as the Kasuga clan and Wani clan, based on Yamashiro Province. He is a child of Awata no shima. He is Shosanmi (Senior Third Rank) and Chunagon (vice-councilor of state).

The year of birth is unknown. In 681, he became hensen (corresponding to Jugoinoge [Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade]) in the cap rank and official rank system. In 684, he was granted Ason (second highest of Yakusa no Kabane or the eight hereditary titles) when the eight honorary titles were established. In 689, he became Dazaifu (Government Headquarters in Kyushu), and presented 174 members of Hayato (ancient tribe in Kyushu), 50 jo of cloth, and 50 or more sheets of cow or deer hide. He was engaged in compiling Taiho Ritsuryo (Taiho Code) together with Osakabe no Miko (Prince Osakabe) and FUJIWARA no Fuhito. On January 701, he was appointed to jikidaini (the eleventh grade of jikidai rank for vassals of the forty-eight grades of cap rank, which corresponds to Jushiinojo, Junior Fourth Rank, Upper Grade of Taiho Ritsuryo, Taiho Code) Minbusho (Ministry of Popular Affairs) and to a Japanese envoy to Tang Dynasty China, and he was granted setto (a sword given by the emperor in the symbol of his trust to the appointment of someone to a mission) by Emperor Mommu. This is said to be the first case of setto which an emperor granted someone (among the cases of setto which were given to Kento-shi [Japanese envoy to Tang Dynasty China] or seii shogun [great general who subdues the barbarians] as a symbol of authority over the military power).

In May 702, he became engaged in the government by the Imperial Court as Sangi (councilor); the Councilor. In June 702, he went to Tang Dynasty (to be exact, this is the Bushu Dynasty established by Busokuten [Empress Sokuten] as Tang was not established at that time). He was the first envoy who was dispatched since Wa and Tang confronted at the Battle of Hakusukinoe in 663. He was an envoy who was dispatched not only with the intention of restoring relations between them, but also with various intentions including development of the ritsuryo system and announcement of change in the name of the country, from Wa to Nihon (Japan). YAMANOUE no Okura and Doji also participated in the diplomatic mission. In the following year, he arrived at Changan; the capital, had an audience with Busokuten.
The people in Tang remarked him by saying 'he read plenty of Chinese history books and understands writing. He was graceful in manner.'
Busokuten appointed him to 司膳員外郎.

In 704, he came back to Japan with prisoners who had been held captive since the Battle of Hakusukinoe. Because of his achievement, he was granted 20 towns of rice field and 1,000 koku (180.39 cubic meters) of crops. He was appointed to Chunagon (middle counselor) in Keiun no kaikaku (political reform in Keiun era) to utilize the knowledge which he acquired during his stay in Tang. He engaged in the reform of system just after the enforcement of the ritsuryo system. Later, he successively served as Dazai no sochi (Governor-General of the Dazai-fu offices), and was promoted to Shosanmi (Senior Third Rank) in 715. He passed away on February 5, 719.

[Original Japanese]