Awada Mahito

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  • Born: ??
  • Died: 719
  • Titles: Ason
  • Japanese: 粟田朝臣真人 (Awada no Ason Mahito)

Awada Mahito (or Awada Mabito) springs upon the scene in the Shoku Nihongi when, on the 20th day of the 10th month of 699 (20/10/699) he is listed as one of a number of officials in charge of repairing the Imperial tomb in Yamashina.

Then, on the 17th day of the 6th month of 700 he is listed third (behind Fujiwara Fuhito) in a list of officials charged with writing punitive instructions for the court.

Mahito was appointed ambassador to China on the 23rd day of the 1st month of 701, receiving a ceremonial sword as a sign of his mission in the 5th month of that same year. He left sometime after the 5th month of 702 and returned on the first day of the 7th month of 704.

According to the Shoku Nihongi, he was questioned upon his arrival in China regarding Japan and its relationship to the Tang court. He impressed the Tang court with his answers, and an envoy reportedly said of him: "I have often heard that eastwards in the sea there is a Yamato no kuni. They say it is a country of gentlemen. The people enjoy prosperity and happiness, their behavior is extremely polite. Now seeing this Envoy, his appearance is most favorable. How would it be possible not to believe what I formerly heard."

Wang Zhenping notes that the Tang courtiers viewed Mahito as "well versed in classics and history and knowledgeable in literary works," and further notes that he was made vice-director of the Court of Imperial Entertainment by the Tang (司膳寺, Sishan Si), according to the Tong dian and Tang huiyao.

Mahito received land and grain as compensation for having been sent away from the court for so long as an ambassador.

In 705 he was again made an ambassador, this time as an envoy to Shiragi (Silla). He was raised to the 3rd court rank prior to leaving, a common practice to ensure that diplomats had the appropriate appearance of dignity when representing the court to another country. He returned along with expatriates that had been sent some forty years earlier to help defend Kudara. When Kudara had lost, the Japanese soldiers had been taken prisoner by Silla. Upon their return, they were compensated with gifts by the Emperor.

Mahito was made viceroy of the Dazaifu a year later and eventually attained Senior 3rd court rank in 715. He died four years later in 719.


  • 20/10/699 Awada Mahito is listed in the Shoku Nihongi as having Jikidaini (直大貳) rank when he is ordered to repair the Imperial tomb in Yamashina.
  • 17/6/700 Awada Mahito, along with others, is ordered to compile punitive rules for the court.
  • 23/1/701 Awada Mahito, Acting Minister for Home Affairs (守民部尚) was appointed as a special ambassador to the Tang court.
  • 7/5/701 Awada Mahito received a ceremonial sword to indicate his position as envoy to China.
  • 21/5/702 Awada Mahito is listed as Lower Senior 4th rank (正四位下) when he is admitted to the Imperial court's deliberations along with others. It should be noted that there was a changing in ranking system since he was previously listed as Jikidaini under a different method of numeration.
  • 1/7/704 Awada Mahito returns from China.
  • 14/11/704 Awada Mahito was granted twenty cho of wet rice fields and 1,000 koku of grain because he had been sent as an ambassador to China.
  • 22/4/705 Mahito was made Chunagon.
  • 11/8/705 Mahito was raised to Junior 3rd rank (従三位) and has been named as envoy to Shiragi (Silla).
  • 26/5/707 Mahito returns from his mission in Silla and he brings home expatriates who had been sent to defend Kudara and captured in the latter's defeat.
  • 13/3/708 Mahito is appointed Dazai no Sochi.
  • 25/4/715 Mahito is granted Senior 3rd rank (正三位).


  • 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.
  • Shoku Nihongi