|Last year one old epitaph was discovered by suburbs in Xian, China. It attracted our Japanese attention very much, because the dead person was Japanese, who lived in the 8th century at the age of the Tang Dynasty. His name was Mr. Sei Shinsei. He was an international student from Japan to China. His epitaph states as below.
This is The Epitaph of Mr. Sei Shinsei
His family name was "Sei" and his first name was "Shinsei". He was born in Japan and came to China for farther study by the order of the Japanese Government. He was a very smart and talented man. Once he wore the formal Chinese dress and participated in the Dynasty's ceremony, he was very outstanding. He got used to the Chinese etiquette and customs. He had been studying very much and everyone expected a very bright future on him. However very pitifully enough, he had a sudden death at the age of only 36 years-old. He passed away the January in 734 A.D. The Emperor kindly expressed his condolence on him, gave him the title of the higher ranking and made his funeral formal one. On the 4th of February 734, his body was buried near Sansui. It was a dawn when the coffin started. Red flags were set up in the row of the funeral. Mr. Sei Shinsei expressed his last words, which were "To die is very natural and inevitable. However I am very sad, because this place is very far away from my homeland. Even if my body would be buried in this foreign country, I sincerely hope that my soul would smoothly return to Japan."
It is the epitaph of Japanese, who passed away at such a young age of 36 years old in China of the age of Tang Dynasty 1288 years ago. At that time, China was the most powerful country and attracted many foreigners. The Japanese Government had officially sent missions or young students to China many times. However the trip between Japan and China was very dangerous, because the sailing skills in the ocean were so poor. Sometimes these missions were wrecked. A famous Chinese priest, whose name was Ganjin, had tried to go to Japan from China six times. Finally he succeeded in arriving at Japan, but he lost his eye sight. Under such circumstances, Mr. Sei Shinsei succeeded in his trip. He made his best to study China and he was accepted by Chinese people and Dynasty. It was 1,288 years ago. In such old days, Japanese made his adventure successfully and endeavored a lot in foreign country. I think we should be very proud of him.
However very regretfully enough, Mr. Sei Shinsei suddenly died at China in 734. Especially his last words were so touchy. I was so impressed by them. He said, "It is inevitable for us to die some day. However I am so sad, because this place is very far away from my home town. Even if my body would be buried in this foreign country, I sincerely hope my soul would go back to my home town."
Because of the discovery of his epitaph, all of the present Japanese had noticed his existence and distinguished exploits. I am sure he really came back to Japan after 1,271 years.
(July 18, 2005)
(c) Yama san 2005, All rights reserved