The Frontier: Early Emishi and Hayato Conflicts

HEIAN BIBLIOGRAPHY PROJECT. Based on Takahashi Tomio's "The Classical Polity and Its Frontier," interpreted by Karl Friday.


Hayato as a foreign people

450 - 650

This second stage covers the time the Hayato remained a foreign people. However, Hayato rulers subordinated themselves to Yamato kings, and Hayato served the court as artisans, singers, dancers, and military guards at the palace.

Yūryaku reports battling the Hayato


Great King Yūryaku (pre-tennō system) sent an envoy to the Chinese court describing battles with the Hayato.

"Emishi" becomes standard term


This term for the northeastern barbarians was originally written with characters meaning "hairy men." The Yamato changed the characters around 645 to read "quail barbarians." Both were pronounced "emishi." Or possibly "ebisu" or "ezō."

Hayato Rebellions

700 - 720

Scattered rebellions and resistance efforts necessitated large scale military pacification campaigns on at least five occasions.

Yamato stockade residences


Yamato built stockades (kinohe) and moved cultivators into Emishi territory. The first versions of these stockade residences were built in Echigo 647-8. The stockades outposts sought harmonious coexistence with the Emishi, but their presence payed an important role in transforming Emishi groups into political units.

Hayato largely assimilated


Despite pockets of resistance, the majority of Hayato in southern Kyūshū are assimilated into the Yamato polity. According to the ritsuryō and commentary, the Hayato are to pay taxes and behave like normal citizens.

Yamato send shows of force

709 - 737

Yamato northeastern expansion

710 - 811

Northeast territory shifting

718 - 721

Two parts of southeastern Mutsu province were broken off and combined with Hitachi. Yamato also attempted to form two new provinces: Iwaki and Iwashiro. A few years later, the new provinces were abolished and returned to Mutsu.

Emishi attack Momou Stockade


This attack of a stockade in Mutsu sparked the pacification wars. The outpost was located on the Kitakami River close to where the Emishi had developed territory. ōtomo Surugamaro was sent north to defeat the Emishi, which he did around the Kitakami River.

Yamato Campaign

744 - 811

The Yamato consider its task in subjugating the Emishi formally completed after 811. The enormous financial burden of the wars forced the tennō to re-fcous on administration, not conquest. The Yamato Court worked to integrate the Emishi. Efforts to assimilate the Emishi and establish order would continue until the late Heian Period and beyond.

Iji-no-kimi Atamaro Revolt

780 - 801

An Emishi named Iji-no-kimi Atamaro revolts, attacking the newly established Iji Stockade and Taga Stockade. He also attacked Emishi working for the Yamato. This sparks revolts among the Emishi. In 801, Sakanoue Tamuramaro defeated Kitakami River Emishi forces.