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by Harumi Okochi.
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April, 2008

A mirror and a priest
―The late Reverend Kenryo Tatsutani―

How are you, friends?
This month, I would like to introduce you Reverend Kenryo Tatsutani, who passed away in 1961 at age 74.
What kind of person was he? What did he do in his life? What do we owe him?
This is the story of this month. Please enjoy.

Shoenji Temple
Kenryo Tatsutani's father Ryosen Tatsutani was the 10th Head Priest of Shoenji Temple in Karatsu. Ryosen's time was the hardest days for Buddhism because of the Meiji Restoration, which abandoned Buddhism and went back to Shintoism that in due course led Japan into Imperialism. People left the temple, and Ryosen was a poorest priest. At one time Ryosen went to Onomichi, Hiroshima Prefecture, to earn his living as a sub-priest of a bigger temple.

Kenryo was born in 1888 in Onomichi when Father was there.
They came back to Karatsu, and Kenryo grew up here. Graduating from a Buddhism highschool, Kenryo, at age 22, went to Kyoto to enter a Buddhism university. His six years of study was supported by some earnest families in Karatsu.
Coming back to Shoenji, he was an enthusiastic propagator. and Shoenji was gradually retrieving its old glory. But the old structure of the temple needed renovation, and Kenryo decided to reconstruct the temple. His life was a continued struggling, but on the other hand, he started to study archeology. He never gave up his dream as an archeologist.

He discovered many things like ancient shell mounds, tombs, treasures like jades, beads, and blonds or iron weapons, earthenwares, earthen coffins, etc.
In his lifetime, he revealed many secrets of ancient times, say, from 5000years BC to early days of AD. He was highly esteemed by the scholars, and his discoveries were sometimes exhibited in museums.

Among his many discoveries, a mirror especially attracts me.
I will tell you how this mirror was found, and what this mirror taught us.

The time was 1944. It was a war time. The Pacific War. Japan was gradually being cornered. Air-raids were warned once in a while.
A Mr. Nishioka, who lived at Sakuranobaba (Meaning Cherry Riding Ground), downtown in Karatsu City, was digging the ground thinking to make an underground shelter. His shovel hit something. It was an earthenware coffin. Very big.
It was not broken into small pieces, and inside it, he found something strange.

Mr. Nishioka's neighbor knew Reverend Tatsutani. Hearing the news, Kenryo Tatsutani ran to the place.
This was a big discovery, but the time was not favorable.
Kenryo recorded every detail of the discovered things, and continued digging with a small stick and brush, and found some more pieces.

People were concerned only to the war, the loosing war, and the terrors of air-raid did not allow Kenryo to reserve the ancient tomb of somebody in a very high rank.
They covered the ground again, and the remains of ancient time was, it seemed. lost forever.

The record Kenryo wrote

His discoveries were earthenware coffins, and inside the coffin, 2 mirrors (Made in China early 3rd Century), blonds accessories, a piece of iron sword, glass beads, etc. One mirror was almost perfect.
After the war his records were reported to the academy, and the dug-out articles were designated as Japanese National Treasures.

64 years passed after his discovery of the Cherry Riding Ground ruins. Last winter (2007), a house which stood on the ruins was destructed. City office examined the land, ant the ancient tomb was revealed again. This also was a big discovery, because this ruin was determined to be the tomb of the King of Matsuro which was mentioned in Chinese History book. One of the volumes of this history book was about the peripheral small countries, and under the name of Wa, Japan at the time was mentioned.

Image of the time
According to the book, at that time, on this small islands of Wa, there were many small villages in primitive life style.
Sometimes women reigned over the land, and people lived taking fish and dived for abalone.
In Japan, before the World WarU, Meiji Emperor was worshipped as God, and Japanese history was believed to be more than 2600years of glory. If somebody says 2000years ago Japan was a primitive land, he must have been put in jail.

Kenryo Tatsutani knew how Japan was 2000years ago, and silently he proved the truth by finding and recording the ancient evidences.

In Japan, old history books of hundreds years ago do not tell truth. Only the foreign eyes saw the truth and recorded in a book. The oldest Japan we could know was in this Chinese history book, and Karatsu is one of the countries appearing in this book.
We are proud, and I am proud that the Reverend Tatsutani's discoveries at last made it clear.

If we do not know the past of ourselves, how can we know our future?

Cherry Riding Ground now
Now, at Cherry Riding Ground, there is no cherry trees. The ruins were dug and examined, and after taking every record, it was once again covered.
When I went to see this place, there was no sign, no nothing. Only a
The mirror (National treasure)
patch of vacant land in between houses was fenced and my own shadow was reaching to the particular point where the coffin was.
Then in my illusion, I saw the mirror. Mirrors were the symbols of the power in ancient oriental countries like China, Korea and Japan.
"I shall write about this", I thought. That is why I wrote this page.

Thank you for reading , and please come back next month.

Thank you very much for visiting this page.
I hope you will return next month.
Yours, Harumi Okochi

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