Okisome no Usagi (置始菟)

OKISOME no Usagi (year of birth and death unknown) was a person who lived during Japan's Asuka period. His name is pronounced the same in the old Japanese kana syllabary. His first name (菟) is also written 宇佐伎. 菟 is a letter composed of a letter 兎 and a radical 艸 on top, and although it is a different letter from 兎(兔), they are pronounced in the same way. His kabane (hereditary title) was Muraji. In the Jinshin War of 672, he was on the side of Prince Oama (Emperor Tenmu), and as one of commanders of reinforcements for Yamato region, he led horse soldiers and twice helped his army from the crises. He was awarded Shokinge (the 12th grade of 26 grades of cap rank).

Distinguished services in the Jinshin War

Prince Oama, who had raised an army in later July of the year of Jinshin (Mizunoe-Saru [one of the Oriental Zodiac]) (672), firstly went to Mino Province where he gathered troops of Togoku (the eastern provinces). Although OTOMO no Fukei accordingly raised an army in Wa (Yamato Province) on August 1, his army was inferior being threatened by armies of the Omi Imperial Court from the north and west. On August 3, Prince Oama ordered tens of thousands of troops to head to Wa through Ise province. The commanders of those troops were KI no Ahemaro, O no Honji, MIWA no Kobito and OKISOME no Usagi.

On August 10, while the troops were marching, KI no Ahemaro and the others learned that OTOMO no Fukei was defeated at Mt. Nara (Nara city), and they immediately sent OKISOME no Usagi with a thousand of horse soldiers. On August 5, this troop met Fukei who was being routed in Sumisaka (present-day the northeast part of Nara Prefecture), and picked up defeated soldiers in Kanazunanoi. In the above description in "Nihonshoki" (Chronicles of Japan), there are apparent inconsistencies between dates. Given the course of the march, the main unit of the reinforcements could have arrived by 10th; therefore, a leading theory states that the description of the dispatch of the horse soldiers on 10th is wrong. If the horse soldiers arrived on 5th, it means that they were separated from the troop shortly after or at the same time of the departure on 3rd.

OKISOME no Usagi became under the command of Fukei after he met Fukei. Subsequently, OTOMO no Fukei fought in Taima with an army of IKI no Karakuni, which had approached from the west, but it is unknown whether Usagi joined it or not. Further later, in the battle with INUKAI no Ikimi in the north, OKISOME no Usagi and MIWA no Takechimaro were in the right-wing of the army on Kamitsu-michi Road (one of the three longitudinal roads running through Nara Basin). In this battle, the central troop led by OTOMO no Fukei was in a difficult situation being attacked by a troop of IOI no Kujira. After defeating the enemy in front of their own troop in Hashihaka, Usagi and his comrades attacked Kujira's troop in the rear and routed the enemy. The army of the Omi Imperial Court had never attacked since then.

On August 23, the commanders other than OTOMO no Fukei headed north and reached Yamasaki, and they were stationed in the south of the river. It was the day that the army of the Omi Imperial Court was heavily defeated in Seta, Omi Province, and the civil war ended with the suicide of Prince Otomo (Emperor Kobun) on the following day.

Later life of meritorious vassals

"Nihonshoki" does not describe if OKISOME no Usagi was awarded or how he acted after the war. On December 31, 672, the cap ranks for those who performed deeds of valor in the Jinshin War were promoted, and the rank of Shosen (the 16th to 18th grade of 26 grades of cap rank) or above was awarded. OKISOME no Usagi is believed to have also received an equivalent cap rank.

From the article of May, 716 in "Shoku Nihongi" (Chronicle of Japan Continued), it is known that OKISOME no Muraji Usagi was posthumously awarded Shokinge (the 12th grade of 26 grades of cap rank). He was thought to have died before March 4, 685, which was the date that this cap rank was abolished.

[Original Japanese]