This chapter focuses on the alibis—one of which is divine origin—that were devised for Tenmu and his successors to provide their exercise of power with an otherwordly status. Tenmu is portrayed in the historical record as a Daoist transcendental, a master of cosmic knowledge, and adept at secret methods of prognostication. These are some of the ways he distanced himself from his predecessors, especially Tenji. The manipulation of signs, portents, and geomancy played an important role in this operation, which culminated in the creation of Fujiwara-kyō, Japan's first capital, along cosmic delineations. Indeed, Tenmu personified a master and drafter of signs. No other historical ruler of ancient Japan has been positioned, by himself and his biographers, as personally within the realm of the supernatural to the extent that Tenmu was imagined to be.
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