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What government bodies were elected and by whom in Sakai Japan during the 500s and 600s AD?

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    @MarkC.Wallace I had already read wikipedia Mark. I have refined the question with specific dates. – B T Feb 12 '16 at 22:58
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    @BT It was closed as too broad before you edited it to say "during the 500s and 600s". It was too broad because "medieval" is a nebulous concept which span centuries - nothing "narrow" about that whatsoever. Moreover, "500s and 600s" is nowhere close to being "medieval" in Japanese historiography. Rather, given the edit (see how helpful sharing your research is), I suspect you'll want to place your question within the Azuchi–Momoyama period instead. In any case, you will do better to drop the attitude and take constructive criticism positively rather than rage against the system. – Semaphore Feb 13 '16 at 7:34
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    @BT None of your sources say it began in "400 BC". And I did specify "in Japanese historiography". You'll notice that (f.e.) your first links says : of or relating to the period of EUROPEAN history from about A.D. 500. Japan is not in Europe - Medieval Japan is conventionally dated to the Kamakura Bakufu's founding in 1185. To be brutally honest, someone who failed to distinguish A.D. from B.C. should perhaps spend more time reading, and less time trying to disprove others. – Semaphore Feb 13 '16 at 20:39
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    @Semaphore You're right, and if you had just pointed it out, I would have realized it much faster. Note also, I didn't add that quote in there, someone else did. – B T Feb 14 '16 at 22:12
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    @Semaphore Feel free to post an answer, even if I don't like it, perhaps others will – B T Feb 14 '16 at 22:18
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Sakai did not exist as a geopolitical entity in your specified timeframe. Therefore, in one sense the "kind of political institution" that existed in 5th-6th century Sakai was of the non-existent variety.

The medieval city grew out of the earlier manors of Sakai, which debuted in recorded history as late as 1304. This was on a court document assigning ownership to Saionji Shōko. In fact, the name of Sakai () was first mentioned only in 1045 as saka-i (さか井) in a poem of Fujiwara no Sadayori. It attained its modern form slightly later in 1081, as recorded in a diary entry by Fujiwara no Tamefusa:

申剋参住吉社奉幣 戌剋着和泉之小堂 住吉神主國元依罷神主清経送粮米等

... stayed the night at Sakai, Izumi ...

Clearly this vastly postdates the question's period of AD "500s and 600s".


Alternatively, let us approach the issue examining the area that later became Sakai. The literal answer to the question of "[w]hat government bodies were elected" is none that we know of.

Both the city and manor of Sakai straddled the border between Settsu and Izumi under the ritsuryō provincial system. In fact, the name Sakai itself is thought to derive from the word "border", kuni-zakai (国境). During the question's timeframe (i.e. late Kofun and early Asuka), Izumi and Settsu were both part of the proto Kawachi province.

Our knowledge of the period is quite limited - the oldest extant history text in Japanese history dates only to AD 720 (though was begun in 681) and is heavily mythological. However, the 9th century Kujiki identifies the province as under the dominion of the Ōshikouchi clan (凡河内氏), who apparently monopolised the position of Kuni no Miyatsuko 国造 and claimed descent from Hikokosohori no Mikoto (彦己曾保理命). This makes them cousins to the Yamato royal house.

A Kuni no Miyatsuko were essentially a vassal of the Yamato king. They were appointed from regional lords who had pledged fealty to the Yamato court, and retained a high degree of internal autonomy. The Ōshikouchi Kuni no Miyatsuko specifically is thought to be in charge of continental immigrants and diplomacy. Little is known of their domestic political relationship with lesser regional elites, however.

The site of future Sakai appeared to be little more than a graveyard at the time. Since the Koffun period it has hosted the Mozu Kofun Gun, a series of tombs including the unreasonably oversized Daisenryo Kofun of (supposedly) the Nintoku Emperor.

To its south, there was a settlement named Suemura (陶邑). As the name implies, Suemura was a major manufacturing centre of sue ware (i.e. Japanese pottery). It seems that the operations were centrally managed by the Yamato court, but there are little concrete details. Suemura is believed to have eventually became Izumigaokacho (泉ヶ丘町) which was merged into Sakai in the 1950s.

There are no indication at all that they "elected" any "government bodies".


Ultimately, the question's assumption that "government bodies were elected ... during the 500s and 600s" in Sakai is totally specious. Rather than the 6th century, it seems the question really intended to ask about Sakai in the 16th century, circa the Azuchi-Momoyama period.

  • Hmm, the source I have mentioning that Sakai was a merchant city in the 6th century is here: books.google.com/… . Also, the source that Steve Burnap mentioned has seems to indicate that Sakai was around at very latest by 646 AD: city.sakai.lg.jp/english/visitors/whats/history.html . I'm not entirely convinced that there was no government there at the time, but I'm increasingly convinced that you're correct that its not the time period I'm interested in. – B T Feb 16 '16 at 6:18
  • I suspect you're right that the first source actually meant 16th century, I've since found other sources mentioning Gaspar Vilela's description that the city had "consuls like venice" books.google.com/… . I'm finding various sources mentioning this quote about "consuls", which I would say is a strong indication of elected offices, since that's what venice's consuls were. Why don't I ask a new question about the 1500s to 1600s, now that this question is solidly about a different era? – B T Feb 16 '16 at 6:20
  • @BT There was government there, obviously, since we can reasonably assume that it takes the resources of a state to build such a huge burial mound as is purported to be the Nintoku Emperor's. The link SteveBurnap gave spoke of the history of the region that became Sakai; it does not claim that Sakai in the sense of the Medieval city existed. – Semaphore Feb 16 '16 at 6:24
  • @BT I think you'll be better served to forget about timeframes and simply ask something like, "What was the government of Sakai like during its autonomous, reportedly elective period?". And quote those passages that prompted you to ask the question in the first place. To be blunt, of course I am right; and I wished you had listened and put the question in the right period without going through this pointlessly detour to ask about pre-existence Sakai. I get that you shouldn't blindly trust random strangers on the internet, but this concerns a basic and easily verifiable fact. – Semaphore Feb 16 '16 at 6:27
  • If you agree there was a government in Sakai in the 600s AD, what do you mean by "Sakai did not exist as a geopolitical entity in your specified timeframe"? – B T Feb 16 '16 at 6:37

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