O no Honji (多品治)

O no Honji (date of birth unknown - August? 696) was a person who lived during the Asuka Period. It is pronounced as OHO no Homuji in old Japanese syllabic writing. He was first given the hereditary title of Omi and later, the title of Ason (second highest of the eight hereditary titles). In 672, he fought on Prince Oama's side during the Jinshin War and defeated their enemies in Tarano.

His achievements in the Jinshin War.

When the Jinshin War broke out, he was serving as a manager of imperial territories in Ahamachi District (now known as Anpachi District), Mino Province. The position was to manage a type of fuko (a vassal household allotted to courtier, shrines and temples for the purpose of collecting tax) which was formulated to support the prince financially.

On June 22, two days before the prince took any action, he sent MUTSUGE no Hiro, MURAKUNI no Oyori, and WANIBE no Kimite to Mino Province. Their task was to convince O no Honji who was in Ahamachi District (now known as Anpachi District) at that time to raise his army first. They successfully accomplished their task and 3,000 troops from Mino closed down Fuwa road. This made Prince Oama possible to acquire soldiers in eastern provinces.

When Prince Oama arrived in Mino Province, he divided his army into two groups which consisted of tens of thousands of soldiers; one was sent to Wa (Yamato Province) via Mt Daisen and the other was sent to Omi directly. O no Honji led the party to Yamato with KI no Ahemaro, MIWA no Kobito and OKISOME no Usagi. After that, Honji received another order and stayed in Tarano with 3,000 troop members. As for the location of Tarano, the theory, which believes it to be in the northern part of Iga (a part of Ise Province at that time), is widely accepted, however, it was a good location to guard Iga in the pathways from Yamato - Iga - Ise - Mino. TANAKA no Tarimaro was given the position to guard the path of Kurafu that connected Omi to Iga.

However, the Commander-in-Chief on Prince Otomo side, TANAHE no Osumi sent an army to attack Kurafu during the night on July 5. The guards were scattered around and Tarimaro escaped on his own. The Osumi's group tried to attack Tarano the next day; however, O no Honji stopped the advance of the enemy, and his selected soldiers defeated the group. Osumi managed to escape on his own. No troop from Prince Otomo's side raided them after that.

After his achievements

It is stated in the "Nihonshoki" (Chronicles of Japan) that those with distinctive merits were selected on December 4 and given the rank Shosen or higher, and thus Honji was probably given the same or higher rank as well.

On December 13, 683, O no Honji, Prince Ise, HATA no Yakuni and NAKATOMI no Oshima traveled all across Japan with their retainers, such as an inspector, a secretary and a carpenter to set borders among provinces. This project was not completed within the year. Honji's then title was Shokinge.

On November 1, 684, 52 people includng O no Omi received the new title, Ason.

On September 18, 685, Emperor Tenmu gambled with royal family members and his vassals at Oyasumidono. The Emperor was in the Oyasumidono and others were placed in front of that area. O no Honji was one of ten people who received Emperor's robes and hakama (a pleated and divided skirt made in fine stripes) on the day.

On August 25, 696, he was given the title of Jikikoichi along with gifts. It was to reward his loyalty to the emperor from the very beginning of the Jinshin War and also his contributions defending the checkpoint. Judging from other examples, there is a possibility that this reward record might have implied the death of Honji.

One theory suggests that Honji was a father of O no Yasumaro.

[Original Japanese]