Journal - Volume 4, May 2013

Dual Kingship in the Kofun Period as Seen from the Keyhole Tombs

Kofun Period, Keyhole Tombs, politico-ritual dual kingship, sacred-secular dual kingship, Himiko, Hashihaka

Explanatory Note

Heralding the beginning of Japan’s state formation, the Kofun period (3rd-6th century) witnessed the emergence of a supraregional consolidation of the Japanese archipelago superseding that of the preceding Yayoi period. The enormous number of tombs spread across the archipelago palpably limns the relationship between local chieftains and the paramount Wa kings. For four hundred years, this relationship was characterized by the construction of monumental kingly tombs commissioned by the Wa elite and the building of smaller-scale iterations by local rulers.

A diachronic analysis of keyhole tomb (zenpōkōenfun) construction in the Kinki region of central Japan suggests the coexistence of two disparate lines of tombs adopting separate blueprints. A clear reason for this, however, has yet to be proposed. I have come to view the nature of Kofun-period rulership as divided between two kings: one orchestrating state ritual and the other managing administrative affairs. This view, known as “sacred-secular dual kingship,” has long been espoused by historians of Japan’s early texts. Even from an archaeological perspective, the tombs of the incipient Ōyamato Tomb Group suggest the coexistence of two different types of kings. Arguments for “sacred-secular dual kingship,” however, have focused on a gendered division of labor between male and female paramounts, while nevertheless adhering to the image of a monolithic imperial line of male administrative emperors, informed by Japan’s earliest domestic histories, the Kojiki (712) and Nihon shoki (720). In this paper, however, I propose a politico-ritual model of dual kingship in which two coexisting male kings assumed different leadership roles; furthermore, I suggest that even the role of the sacred king (often framed as a shamanistic queen) had been filled by a male from early on. There were thus two nuclei of authority in the Kofun period. Before unifying into a single line in the early-6th century, however, this structure was responsible for political instability and regime changes.

This is a streamlined version, prepared for English translation, of an article originally appearing in volume 208 of Historia (2008). I have added supplementary notes when introducing research newer than the original article’s publication date.

Topics of Existence: Definite and Indefinite Noun Phrases and Types of Topic-Statement Relationships in Japanese

Tetsuya NIWA
Japanese grammar, topics, existence, definite/indefinite

Explanatory Note

Japanese is a language with topic markers commonly represented by the postpositional particle wa. In the statement X wa P, wa creates the topic-statement relationship of “about X, saying P,” but various issues about this have been under much debate, such as the characteristics of its meaning and sentence structuring, as well as the difference between it and the subject-predicate relationship X ga P, formed from the postpositional particle ga. This paper is concerned with the restriction relating to noun phrases that function as topics.

It is commonly understood that noun phrases that function as topics must be definite noun phrases (in other words, noun phrases for which the hearer can identify the referent). Li and Thompson (1976), who studied topics and subjects typologically, noted that “one of the primary characteristics of topics is that they must be definite,” and this restriction also basically holds true in Japanese as well. However, in Japanese topic-statement relationships, there are those that question the existence or nonexistence of the topic noun phrase (X)'s referent, and the focus of this paper is that indefinite noun phrases (in other words, noun phrases for which the hearer cannot identify the referent) can function as the topic in these types of sentences.

This paper comprises Chapter 5 of the author's book, Nihongo no Daimokubun (Topic Sentences in Japanese) (Izumi Shoin, 2006). In this book, topics in Japanese are divided into two groups: “topics of property/situation” and “topics of existence.” “Topics of property/situation” include:

Predicates that express property such as:

Chikyū- wa marui.
Earth- TOP** Round

The earth is round.

and predicates that express states or events such as:

Tarō- wa onaka- ga  suite- iru.
Taro- TOP stomach- NOM empty

Taro is hungry.

Yamada-san- wa kinō kaette- kita.
Yamada-san- TOP yesterday came back

Yamada-san came back yesterday.

These express interest in “what kind of property X has or what kind of situation it is in.” On the other hand, “topics of existence” express interest in “whether X exists or not,” such as:

Konoatari- ni yūbinkyoku- wa ari- masu- ka?
around here- LOC post office- TOP exist- POL- Q

Is there a post office around here?

Because these two categories are similar in that they relate to “about X, saying P,” differentiation has conventionally not been made between the two. However, the observation in this paper that, “topics of property/situation” are limited to definite noun phrases while “topics of existence” may include indefinite noun phrases, indicates the importance of differentiation.
This paper first introduces the differentiation between definite noun phrases and indefinite noun phrases in Section 1. As the Japanese language does not contain articles, definite and indefinite noun phrases must be determined through their meaning. Examples where indefinite noun phrases function as the topic in “topics of property/situation” are given in Section 2. However, these are special cases that are close to definite noun phrases. In Section 3, the observation that indefinite noun phrases can function as the topic in “topics of existence” is noted along with the structural variations in this type. Section 4 summarizes the relationship of “topics of existence” to “topics of property/situation,” and to the use of wa in ways other than that of topics.
There are language forms other than wa for expressing topics, and examples of particles such as nara, tte and toiu-no-wa are also included in this paper. These have characteristics of meaning slightly different from wa, which, although explained in the book, are not dealt with in this paper.
At the same time, while wa is oftentimes divided into “topic use” and “contrastive use,” the book divides it into the following four uses:

Topic use:

Chikyū- wa marui.
earth- TOP round

The earth is round.

Contrastive use:

Sukoshi- wa tabeta- ga, takusan- wa tabe- nakatta.
a little- CNTR ate- but a lot- CNTR eat- NEG- PAST

I ate a little but I didn't eat a lot.

Contrastive topic use:

Yamada-wa majimeda- ga, Tanaka-wa fumajimeda.
Yamada- CNTR TOP serious - but Tanaka- CNTR TOP not serious

Yamada is serious but Tanaka is not serious.
(A use that expresses both contrast and topic)

Simple presentational use:

natta ijō- wa akirameru- shika nai.
this happened now that- SIMP PRESNT give up- no choice but

Now that this has happened, the only thing to do is to give up.
(A use that does not express topic or contrast, but has the function of presenting an element that precedes wa.)

These can be summarized in the following table (also shown in the introduction to the book):

  Presented as topic Not presented as topic
Presented non-contrastively Topic use Simple presentational use
Presented contrastively Contrastive topic use Contrastive use

In the sentence X wa P, these four uses have the similarity that, by stating the phrase X wa, they form the problem of what is assigned to it and they have the structure where “P” is assigned to it in the predicate (called “problem structure”). The table in Section 4 of this paper further details the table above, dividing the “presented as topic” portion into cases that are about “property/situation” and those that are about “existence.”

Performing Leaf Viewing: A Study on Practices of Viewing Nature in Asuke, Aichi Prefecture, Japan

Japan, domestic tourism, practice, performance, natural landscape, Kōrankei, Asuke


Nature viewing is a popular tourist activity in contemporary Japan, resulting in natural tourist landscape development. This paper examines the practice of leaf viewing as a leisure activity that forms an integral part of current Japanese domestic tourism. I begin this study by reviewing a call to study non-Western tourism and by discussing the significance and usefulness of concepts of tourist practices and performances. I then go on to consider pre-modern traveling practices in relation to nature viewing and their relationship with urban demands. Based on a case study in Asuke, a popular one-day destination in central Japan, focus is then shifted to the development of Asuke’s natural landscapes through the promotion of tourism. Finally, using visual ethnography, I explore diverse practices of viewing nature through photography in the context of modern Japanese tourism. The empirical findings in the paper suggest that there are various practices of perceiving nature undertaken in contemporary tourist space. This analysis suggests the limitation of theoretical assumptions built on the Western experience and histories of travel/tourism in exploring the practice of tourism and industries in contemporary Asian society. I argue that a clear understanding of contemporary non-Western tourism requires a careful consideration of the historical and social contexts and conditions that underlie the practices of tourism.