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31.03.2014 г.

On the Japanese missions to Tang China by the example of «Nitto: guho: junrei ko:ki» 入唐求法巡礼行記

Vlasova N. V. (IOCS, RSUH)

Heian period - the golden age of diary culture in Japan. Multiple diaries of all kinds were created to provide modern researchers and translators a vast field of work. One of the significant diaries of the period is «Nitto: guho: junrei ko:ki». These four scrolls belong to a Japanese monk Ennin who created a very detailed chronicle of his journey to Tang Dynasty China in 838-347. This diary is a priceless source of information for researchers of Japan and China.

Ennin did not travel as a private person. As he was a part of Japanese official mission the diary provides great insight into formal side of Sino-Japanese diplomatic relations of the epoch. Current essay is focused upon the embassy's journey to China and the difficulties that faced it on the way.

Means of crossing the sea. Although Japan is located on the islands the nation itself has never been known for its great sailors and the ships they had were mainly used as coastal traffic. The embassy ship that took the enthusiasts to Shanghai was reconstructed in 2010 in tribute to 1300 anniversary of capital relocation from Nara to Heian. As a result we can now imagine what a ship that took Ennin across the sea looked like.

Voyage across the sea. Those days offered two routes to China. Northern route went along the Korean peninsula coastline and southern route lay through the open sea. Originally all Japanese missions used northern route and nearly always safely arrived. Later on with a surge of tension in Japanese-Korean relations southern route was considered preferable. And there voyage success became a matter of chance and fortune. Thus Ennins mission managed to reach China after two failed attempts with one of the four ships lost.

Daily problems. As the mission reached the shores of China they had to take a hard and dangerous way to the capital city. This time threat came from unusual foods, annoying mosquitoes that put the travelers under a risk of serious disease. By no means all of the missioners managed to reach the capital as they came ashore.

 Bureaucratic hurdles. Special documents that give right to pass through were needed to travel to the capital of China. One had to apply to the capital in order to receive the papers. This was to be done as the missioners reached Hangzhou. The way to Hangzhou however was not an easy one. According to Ennin's diary at the beginning the mission would be relocated from one place to another under convoy. Time had passed before they got opportunity to stay overnight at regular inns and get provisions. Moreover the Chinese did not provide boats, and missioners could not unload a wrecked ship and get personal belongings and gifts to Chinese emperor for a long time.

These were the main troubles the Japanese site faced on its way to China. Success of the whole mission was subject to their effective solution.

For full text see: IOCS Works («Orientalia et Classica» Series) History and culture of traditional Japan. 7 / Ed. A.N.Mesheryakov, RSUH. Moscow, 2014.
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