Kai no Yusha (甲斐の勇者)

Kai no Yusha (Brave Man from Kai Province) was a cavalryman fought in the Jinshin War of 672. His real name, year of birth and death are unknown; historians have been studying on his character.

At the same time of raising the army (at the beginning of the Jinshin War), Oama no Miko (Oshiama no Miko or Prince Oama who became Emperor Tenmu following the victory in the war) who set off the Jinshin War left Yoshino no Miya (Yoshino Palace) to the east and first controlled Mino Province and Ise Province, then he sent messengers to gather soldiers in Yamanomichi (Tosan-do Road) and in Umitsuji (Tokai-do Road). The districts which soldiers were selected are unknown; as a diary by Toneri (palace servant) of Oama no Miko, ATO no Muraji Chitoko, quoted in "Shoku Nihongi" (Chronicle of Japan Continued), shows that soldiers were gathered in Shinano Province (belonged to Tosan-do Road), it is presumable that soldiers were gathered also in Kai Province which belonged to Tokai-do Road by later Taiho Ritsuryo (Taiho Code) as well. The troops were gathered first at Fuwa County of Mino Province (Tosan-do Road) and were divided in two big army, then they began to march to the west on August 3, 672. One of the armies were sent to Yamato City of Yamato Province via Ise Province to support OTOMO no Fukei's army which had kept fighting at Yamato City and its vicinity.

In August, a general INUKAI no Ikimi, who was supporting Otomo no Miko (Prince Otomo who has been called Emperor Kobun since the Meiji era), gave IOI no Kujira two hundreds selected soldiers to attack Fukei's main camp at Naka-tsu-michi Road (Naka-no-michi Road), one of the old roads of Yamato Province. Although Fukei's army was forced into a corner for a while, supporting soldiers such as Tokomaro guarded them very well and the support armies led by MIWA no Takechimaro and by OKISOME no Usagi arrived to fight back, and at last Kujira's army retreated.
On the way of the retreat, Kujira's white horse was stuck in mud of a rice field; Fukei saw Kujira struggling and ordered Kai no Yusha, "That man riding on the white horse is IOI no Kujira, go and shoot him!"
Kai no Yusha rushed on his horse to Kujira. Kujira promptly flicked a whip at his horse and managed to get out of the mud to run away for his life.

"Nihonshoki" (Chronicle of Japan), which recorded the details of the war, scarcely described the origin of the soldiers gathered up for the war, therefore, historians have been studying and discussing it for a long time. According to a thesis 'Kai no Yusha' written by Akira SEKI in 1957, Kai no Yusha was a soldier of a troop from Kai Province, which was one of the troops formed under the order delivered by the messenger of Umitsuji. And based on his ability of shooting on a horse, it is considered that Kai no Yusha did not belong to the common people but district managers. Although many historians were in favor of Seki's opinion, Kojiro NAOKI suggested another opinion; according to it, Kai no Yusha had served as a personal follower of Fukei since before the war, because it was too short time since the dispatch of the messengers on July 29, 672 until the battles in August. As there is another opinion that Kai no Yusha was one of personal followers of the Otomo clan originated from Otomo-be (a group in Otomo, served Yamato Dynasty) and happened to be from Kai Province, the truth is still unknown.

[Original Japanese]