Isonokami Otomaro

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  • Born: ??
  • Died: 750
  • Japanese: 石上乙麻呂 (Isonokami no Otomaro)

Otomaro was the third son of the Minister of the Left, and quickly rose through the ranks. He was said to be an incredibly handsome man

In the 730s he was made an ambassador to China, but never made the journey, being instead granted governorship of Tamba, where he spent several years before returning to the capital in 738 and was appointed Controller of the Left.

Otomaro's career took a turn for the worse due to an affair with Kume no Wakume, widow of the powerful Fujiwara no Umakai. Both of them were exiled for life--Otomaro to Tosa and Wakume to Shimousa. This was actually less than the official punishment, which was penal servitude. Although Wakume was eventually pardoned and allowed to return in the wake of a general amnesty in 740, but Otomaro was singled out as inelegible for amnesty.

Otomaro was finally pardoned in 743 and granted Upper Junior 4th rank, though the situation behind is sudden comeback is unclear.

Around 744 he was appointed a Comissioner of the Western Sea Circuit. Two years later he was back in the capital, where between 746 to 749 he held positions such as Regulatory Minister, Controller of the Right, and Minister for Central Affairs. When he died in 750 he held Junior 3rd rank as an Associate Councilor.


  • Wang, Zhenping. Ambassadors from the Islands of Immortals: China-Japan Relations in the Han-Tang Period, Association for Asian Studies and University of Hawai'i Press, HI, 2005.