Otomo no Fukei (大伴吹負)

OTOMO no Fukei (? – September 1, 683) was active in the Asuka period. In old Japanese syllabary characters, his name had been written as Fukefi, and its pronunciation is considered to have been 'Ohotomo no Fukefi' too. His name Fukei吹負 was also written as 男吹負 or 小吹負, which present pronunciation is Ofukei, while in old Japanese syllabary characters, it is pronounced as 'Wofukefi'. His kabane (hereditary title) was Muraji. His father was OTOMO no Kuiko; OTOMO no Nagatoko and OTOMO no Maguta were his older brothers; OTOMO no Ushikai and OTOMO no Ojimaro were his children.

In the Jinshin War of year 672, Fukei raised his army to support Oama no Miko (Oshiama no Miko or Prince Oama who became Emperor Tenmu following the victory in the war); he beat enemy's troops which advanced to Yamato City, and took control of those troops to become a general of Yamato Province. After he was beaten at Mt. Nara, he won at Ashi-ike Lake and at Naka-tsu-michi Road (Naka-no-michi Road), and finally controlled Yamato Province to advance to Naniwa. Later he became Hitachi no kami (governor of Hitachi Province). His last rank was Zo-Daikinchu (Daikinchu, given posthumously).


The Otomo clan had been an influential clan in the Asuka period; however, after the death of Fukei's brother OTOMO no Nagatoko who had served Emperor Kotoku as a minister, the family declined and been in misfortune. In the period of Emperor Tenji, Fukei and his older brother Maguta retired in the name of the illness. The brothers expected that the next emperor should be Oama no Miko, so after Emperor Tenji's death, they gathered dozens of soldiers including members of one or two family of their clan to support Oama no Miko.

On June 24 of the year of Jinshin (672, in old lunar calendar), Oama no Miko went to the east to raise his army, then, Maguta followed him while letting Fukei stay home. In order to suppress the rebellious troops led by Oama no Miko, Otomo no Oji (Prince Otomo who has been called Emperor Kobun since the Meiji era) sent three envoys to Yamato City (old capital of Asuka) to cooperate with Rusutsukasa (guard of city) of Yamato City, Takasaka no Okimi in forming troops. Fukei cooperated with another Rusutsukasa of Yamato City, SAKANOUE no Kumage, and planned to go into the enemy's major camp pretending to be Takechi no Miko (Prince Takechi) by the leading of Kumage and some members of Yamatonoaya no Atai (the Yamatonoaya clan). On June 29 (in old lunar calendar), they sent HADA no Kuma as a false envoy; in the enemy's camp, Kuma shouted that Takechi no Miko had arrived, then the soldiers became upset, and the next instant, Fukei and dozens of soldiers ran into the camp on the horses. Kumage and followers promptly supported Fukei, then, other soldiers of the enemy's army followed as well. An envoy from Otsu, HOZUMI no Momotari, who had been served Otomo no Oji to deliver weapons, was killed by Fukei and the followers. The other envoys, HOZUMI no Ioe and MONOBE no Himuka were also captured; however, later forgiven to enter Fukei's army. Takasaka no Okimi and Wakasa no Okimi also supported Fukei.

Fukei reported Oama no Miko having taken the control of the army of Yamato City, and he was appointed to the general of Yamato Province. After that, other strong soldiers of neighboring area gathered under Fukei, and they planned to advance to Omi. On July 1 (in old lunar calendar), Fukei's army went to Nara (present Nara City). On the way to Nara, he got the information of the enemy's large-scale advance from Kawachi, so he gave SAKAMOTO no Takara three troops which was formed of hundreds of soldiers each and sent him to the west. On July 3 (in old lunar calendar), Fukei set his camp on Mt. Nara, and sent some troops to guard the old capital Asuka by the advice of ARATAO no Akamaro. The next day, his army fought with the Omi army led by ONO no Hatayasu, and he was defeated and retreated. At the same time, the troops which had been sent to the west were also beaten and withdrew.

Although Hatayasu went south enough to see Yamato City, he was afraid of Fukei's troops' ambush and retreated. On the way of the withdrawal, Fukei met the cavalry led by OKISOME no Usagi at Sumisaka. They were the first troop of tens of thousands of the army which had been sent to support Fukei from Mino Province, and the army was led by strong generals such as KI no Abemaro. At Kanazunanoi, Fukei gathered the retreated soldiers again and went west to fight with the army of IKI no Karakuni at Ashi-ike Lake; since a strong soldier Kume and his cavalry fought well, Fukei's army finally defeated the enemy. After that, Fukei fought with the army of INUKAI no Ikimi from the north. At the fight, Fukei directly led the troop of Naka-tsu-michi Road and had a difficult fight with a small troop led by IOI no Kujira. While Tokomaro and others were guarding Fukei's headquarters, the troop led by MIWA no Takechimaro guarding the right wing and the troop led by OKISOME no Usagi secretly went the back of the enemy and succeeded to beat it. Once Fukei went back to Yamato City, the Omi Army (the enemy) no longer advanced to Nara Basin.

Before Fukei went to his home ground, his allies (supporting Oama no Miko) including MURAKUNI no Oyori began to advance to Omi Province. Since the beginning of the fight on July 7 (in old lunar calendar), they won every battle and marched to Otsu of Omi Province. On July 22 (in old lunar calendar), Fukei went to Naniwa while sending other generals to the north. After arrived at O-gori County of Naniwa, he ordered each Kuni-no-mikotomochi (district director) of provinces to the west to send kagi, suzu and tsutainoshirushi (the keys, the bell and the token, which each Kuni-no-mikotomochi held and used for the exercise of imperial power). On the same day, the army of Otomo no Oji was defeated at Seta of Omi Province, and the next day, Otomo no Oji committed suicide.

The main battlefield of the Jinshin War was Omi and Yamato, and Fukei produced a great achievement as the main general fighting at one of the large battlefields. However, in "Nihonshoki" (Chronicle of Japan), any description of Fukei after the war is not found. He must have received considerable prizes for his achievement in the war, but no description has been found. He was given the rank of Daikinchu posthumously, and it was not a low rank; however, nor is a higher rank than those which were given to other generals who played important roles in the Jinshin War. According to "Shoku Nihongi" (Chronicle of Japan Continued), in the period of Emperor Tenmu, Fukei served as Hitachi no Kami (governor of Hitachi Province).

On August 5, 683, OTOMO no Muraji Ofukei (Fukei) died. He was given the rank of Daikincyu posthumously for the achievement in the Jinshin War.

According to "Shoku Nihongi," OTOMO no Ushikai who died on leap May 29, 749 (in old lunar calendar) was a son of Zo-Daikinchu Ofukei (Fukei). According to the same book, OTOMO no Koshibi who died on August 19, 777 (in old lunar calendar) was a son of OTOMO no Ojimaro and a grandson of Hitachi no kami Zo-Daikinchu Ofukei who had served the Asuka Dynasty.

[Original Japanese]