During research regarding areas some members of the Kuki family resided at in the past, I’ve come across a lot of interesting information. One of this is a short bio on Kuki Takaharu, the 2nd generation of the original line. What I wasn’t expecting in his bio was a description regarding the Shichiyō emblem used by the Kuki family. While I made a post regarding one concept of the Shichiyō before called “Kuki Archives: Shichiyō“, the new information in today’s post gives a slight variation regarding its meaning.
The source of this info comes from the site “Shashin de Miru Kuki Suigun Hasshō no Chi“¹, which has a good amount of information regarding some of the earlier Kuki members taken from old publications. Below is the bio for Kuki Takaharu, in its original Japanese, follow by my translation in English.
Takaharu, 2nd Generation of the Kuki (original) Line²
Ryūshin’s oldest son, he was appointed to serve within the Imperial palace of the Southern court as assistant vice minister. This was bestowed upon him through the order of Emperor Gomurakami. (this order was lost in a fire in the 17th year of the Kanei period (1640) )
During the Spring in the 1st year of the Tenju period (1375), Takaharu faced much difficulties on the path back to Kuki Mura. While on his routine worship session at Kitano Tenmangu, he was able to overcome this difficulty through a miracle.
An old man suddenly appeared before him, and advised Takaharu to follow along the bright lights from the “7 Stars” (aka Big Dipper) that are to the south in order to return home. With haste, he did as was told and made it back home to Kuki Ura.
To the northwest of Kuki Jo (Kuki Castle), a shrine for a heavenly deity³ was built on purified grounds. A “goninbari no yumi⁴” and arrows were offered as a shinpei⁵ to this shrine. This location is called “Miya no Tani”.
The Shichiyō is the Kuki clan’s emblem. On the other hand, the Mitsudomoe is also used as a family emblem. The Shichiyō is the “omote” (visible) emblem as it is honored for its divine blessing, while the Mitsudomoe is the “ura” (hidden) emblem.
The conception of the Shichiyō may have been through Takaharu, based on his bio. The Shichiyō, in this case, appears to be related to the Big Dipper, which in Eastern Asia is referred to as the “Seven Stars of the Northern Dipper”⁶. Takaharu used the placement of these stars to find his way home, most likely by boat. This makes sense, as the Kuki specialized in sea travel through their navy, and using the stars for navigation on the seas would be a must. On top of this, the Shichiyō emblem was considered the main one used to represent the Kuki clan, while the Mitsudomoe was a secret one.
This post makes for a good continuation of the aforementioned post mentioned above, for it helps answer some questions that I originally had regarding the Shichiyō. In a future post, we will address the Mitsudomoe emblem, and see what can be learned from its history.
2) Takaharu is also recognized by the last name “Fujiwara” in certain sources.
3) This shrine was called “Tenmangu”. Later, it’s name was changed to “Kuki Jinja”.
4) 五人張の弓. A bow that is prepped for use by 5 people. 4 people bend the bow, while 1 person strings it.
5) 神幣. A shinpei is often called a nusa (幣), which is a wooded rod with zig-zag paper streamers tied on the top end. It is used in Shinto rituals. For the case mentioned above, wooden arrows were used to form a nusa.
6) This is called “Hokuto Shichisei” (北斗七星) in Japanese.