Japanese Missions to Tang China
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Japanese Missions to Tang China
A mission ship reconstructed for Shanghai Expo 2010 (Hakata Bay, May 14, 2010)

Japanese missions to Tang China (, Kent?shi) represent Japanese efforts to learn from the Chinese culture and civilization in the 7th, 8th and 9th centuries. The nature of these contacts evolved gradually from political and ceremonial acknowledgment to cultural exchanges; and the process accompanied the growing commercial ties which developed over time.[1]

Between 607 and 838, Japan sent 19 missions to China. Knowledge and learning was the principal objective of each expedition. For example: Priests studied Chinese Buddhism. Officials studied Chinese government. Doctors studied Chinese medicine. Painters studied Chinese painting. Approximately one third of those who embarked from Japan did not survive to return home.[2]

Year Sender Japanese envoys Chinese monarch Comments
630-632 Jomei Inugami no Mitasuki ()
Kusushi Enichi (?)
Taizong Accompanied on return by Tang emissary Gao Biaoren ()
653-654 Kotoku Kishi no Nagani (?)
Kishi no Koma ()
Takada no Nemaro ()
Kanimori no Omaro ()
Gaozong Vessel carrying Takada no Nemaro foundered on outward journey near the island of Takeshima in Satsuma Province
654-655 K?toku Takamuko no Kuromaro[3]
Kawabe no Maro ()
Kusushi Enichi
Gaozong Takamuko died in China[3]
659-661 Saimei Sakaibe no Iwashiki ()
Tsumori no Kisa (?)
Iki no Hakatoko (?)[4]
Gaozong Sakaibe died during the trip
665-667 Tenji Mori no ?ishi ()
Sakaibe no Iwatsumi ()
Gaozong May have transported Tang emissary Liu Degao () to army stationed at old Paekche garrison
667-668 Tenji Iki no Hakatoko
Kasa no Moroishi ()
Gaozong Transported Tang emissary Sima Facong (?) to army stationed at old Paekche garrison
669-670 Tenji Kawachi no Kujira () Gaozong Celebrated subjugation of Kogury?
702-704 Mommu Awata no Mahito (?)
Takahashi no Kasama (?)
Sakaibe no ?kita ()
Yamanoue no Okura (?)
Kose no ?ji (?)
Wu Zetian Kose no ?ji returned home in 707; Awata no Mahito returned in 718
717-718 Gensh? Tajihi no Agatamori ()
Abe no Yasumaro ()
?tomo no Yamamori (?)
Fujiwara no Umakai (?)
Xuanzong Awata no Mahito returned in 718; students Abe no Nakamaro and Kibi no Makibi as well as monk Genb? () joined this embassy[5]
733-734 Sh?mu Tajihi no Hironari ()
Nakatomi no Nashiro (?)
Xuanzong 4 ships set out on this voyage, and one ship returned in 734; another ship returned in 736; Magistrate Heguri no Hironari (?) returned in 739
746- Sh?mu Isonokami no Otomaro () Xuanzong cancelled
750-753 K?ken[6] Fujiwara no Kiyokawa (?)
?tomo no Komaro ()
Kibi no Makibi (?)
Xuanzong Ship carrying Fujiwara no Kiyokawa and Abe no Nakamaro shipwrecked in Annam; both became Tang officials and never returned home
761-761 Junnin K? Gendo () Suzong With aim of retrieving Kiyokawa, traveled with Balhae ambassador returning home via Balhae; returned home with send-off by Tang emissary Shen Weiyue ()
761- Junnin Naka no Iwatomo ()
Isonokami no Yakatsugu (?)
Fujiwara no Tamaro ()
Suzong cancelled due to damage to vessels
762- Junnin Nakatomi no Takanushi (?)
Koma no Hiroyama (?)
Daizong Cancelled due to lack of favorable wind
777-778 K?nin Saeki no Imaemishi ()
?tomo no Masutate (?)
Fujiwara no Takatori (?)
Ono no Iwane (?)
?miwa no Suetari (?)
Daizong All four vessels shipwrecked en route home; Ono no Iwane and Tang emissary Zhao Baoying () died
779-781 K?nin Fuse no Kiyonao (?) Dezong Tang emissary Sun Xingjin et al. sent off at Mingzhou
804-805 Kammu Fujiwara no Kadonomaro ()
Ishikawa no Michimasu (?)
Dezong 4 ships on this mission; vessel 3 shipwrecked at Hirado on the outward journey; news of vessel 4 unknown; K?kai and Saich? joined this embassy
838-839 Ninmy? Fujiwara no Tsunetsugu (?)
Ono no Takamura ()
Wenzong Vessel 3 shipwrecked soon after departure at Tsukushi; its 140 passengers did not reach China; the monks Ennin and Ensai on board; passengers on vessels 1 and 4 hired Silla vessels and split up for the voyage home; returning in 839 with a letter from Chinese emperor;[7] vessel 2 returned home in 840
894- Uda Sugawara no Michizane (?)
Ki no Haseo (?)
Zhaozong cancelled

See also


Kibi Makibi (695-775) in a book illustration by Kikuchi Y?sai.
  1. ^ Fogel, Joshua A. (2009). Articulating the Sinosphere: Sino-Japanese Relations in Space and Time, pp. 102-107.
  2. ^ Hoffman, Michael. "Cultures Combined in the Mists of Time: Origins of the China-Japan relationship," Asia Pacific Journal: Japan Focus. February 3, 2006; reprinting article in Japan Times, January 29, 2006.
  3. ^ a b Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric. (2005). "Takamuko no Kuromaro (no Genri)" in Japan encyclopedia, p. 935, p. 935, at Google Books; n.b., Louis-Frédéric is pseudonym of Louis-Frédéric Nussbaum, see Deutsche Nationalbibliothek Authority File Archived 2012-05-24 at Archive.today.
  4. ^ Nussbaum, "Iki no Hakatoko" at pp. 379-380, p. 379, at Google Books
  5. ^ Fogel, Joshua. (1996). The Literature of Travel in the Japanese Rediscovery of China, p. 22, p. 22, at Google Books; excerpt, "Like Genb?, Kibi no Makibi remained in China after the embassy ships returned to Japan, returning home himself at the same time as Genbo seventeen years later."
  6. ^ Titsingh, Issac. (1834). Annales des empereurs, p. 74., p. 74, at Google Books
  7. ^ Titsingh, p. 108., p. 108, at Google Books


  • Fogel, Joshua A. (2009). Articulating the Sinosphere: Sino-Japanese Relations in Space and Time. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674032590 ISBN 0674032594; OCLC 255142264
  • ______________. (1996). The Literature of Travel in the Japanese Rediscovery of China, 1862-1945. Stanford: Stanford University Press. ISBN 9780804725675; OCLC 32626862
  • Ishii, Masatoshi (?, Ishii Masatoshi). (1992). "Diplomatic relations, Centering on the Japanese Embassies to the Tang" (, Gaik? kankei, ken-T? shi o ch?shin ni) in Thinking about Antiquity: Tang China and Japan (:?, In Kodai o kangaeru: T? to Nihon) editor, On Ikeda (, Ikeda). Tokyo: Yoshikawa k?bunkan,.
  • Kasumi, Mori (, Mori Katsumi). (1966). Japanese Embassies to the Tang Court (, Ken-T? shi). Tokyo: Shibund?.
  • Natsuko, Furuse (, Furuse Natsuko). (2003). China as Seen by the Japanese Embassies (, Ken-T? shi no mita Ch?goku). Tokyo: Yoshikawa k?bunkan.
  • Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric and Käthe Roth. (2005). Japan encyclopedia. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-01753-5; OCLC 58053128
  • Reinosuke, Fujiie (, Fujiie Reinosuke) (1977). Two Thousand years of Sino-Japanese Interactions (?, Nit-Ch? k?ry? nisen nen). Tokyo: T?kai University Press.
  • Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). Annales des empereurs du Japon (Nihon Odai Ichiran). Paris: Royal Asiatic Society, Oriental Translation Fund of Great Britain and Ireland. OCLC 5850691
  • Yanaga, Teiz? (?, Yanaga Teiz?). (2002). "Japanese Embassies to the Tang Court" (, Ken-T? shi) in Encyclopedia of Japanese History (, Nihon shi dai jiten). Tokyo: Nihon hy?ronsha.
  • Wang, Yong (, Wang Yong) (2002). A New Biography of Priest Ganjin (, T? kara mita ken-T? shi). Tokyo: N?san gyosen bunka ky?kai.

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