One day Genzaburô, intent on ridding himself of the
grief he felt at his separation from O Koyo, went to the
Yoshiwara, and, going into a house of entertainment, ordered a
feast to be prepared, but, in the midst of gaiety, his heart
yearned all the while for his lost love, and his merriment was
but mourning in disguise. At last the night wore on; and as he
was retiring along the corridor, he saw a man of about forty
years of age, with long hair, coming towards him, who, when he
saw Genzaburô, cried out, "Dear me! why this must be my
young lord Genzaburô who has come out to enjoy
Genzaburô thought this rather strange; but, looking at
the man attentively, recognized him as a retainer whom he had
had in his employ the year before, and said—
"This is a curious meeting: pray, what have you been about
since you left my service? At any rate, I may congratulate you
on being well and strong. Where are you living now?"
"Well, sir, since I parted from you I have been earning a
living as a fortune-teller at Kanda, and have changed my name
to Kaji Sazen. I am living in a poor and humble house; but
if your lordship, at your
leisure, would honour me with a visit—"
"Well, it's a lucky chance that has brought us together, and
I certainly will go and see you; besides, I want you to do
something for me. Shall you be at home the day after
"Certainly, sir, I shall make a point of being at home."
"Very well, then, the day after to-morrow I will go to your
"I shall be at your service, sir. And now, as it is getting
late, I will take my leave for to-night."
"Good night, then. We shall meet the day after to-morrow."
And so the two parted, and went their several ways to rest.
On the appointed day Genzaburô made his preparations,
and went in disguise, without any retainers, to call upon
Sazen, who met him at the porch of his house, and said, "This
is a great honour! My lord Genzaburô is indeed welcome.
My house is very mean, but let me invite your lordship to come
into an inner chamber."
"Pray," replied Genzaburô, "don't make any ceremony
for me. Don't put yourself to any trouble on my account."
And so he passed in, and Sazen called to his wife to prepare
wine and condiments; and they began to feast. At last
Genzaburô, looking Sazen in the face, said, "There is a
service which I want you to render me—a very secret
service; but as if you were to refuse me, I should be put to
shame, before I tell you what that service is, I must know
whether you are willing to assist me in anything that I may
require of you."
"Yes; if it is anything that is within my power, I am at
"Well, then," said Genzaburô, greatly pleased, and
drawing ten riyos from his bosom, "this is but a small present
to make to you on my first visit, but pray accept it."
"No, indeed! I don't know what your lordship wishes of me;
but, at any rate, I cannot receive this money. I really must
beg your lordship to take it back again."
But Genzaburô pressed it upon him by force, and at
last he was obliged to accept the money. Then Genzaburô
told him the whole story of his loves with O Koyo—how he
had first met her and fallen in love with her at the Adzuma
Bridge; how Chokichi had introduced her to him at the tea-house
at Oji, and then when she fell ill, and he wanted to see her
again, instead of bringing her to him, had only given him good
advice; and so Genzaburô drew a lamentable picture of his
state of despair.
Sazen listened patiently to his story, and, after reflecting
for a while, replied, "Well, sir, it's not a difficult matter
to set right: and yet it will require some little management.
However, if your lordship will do me the honour of coming to
see me again the day after to-morrow, I will cast about me in
the meanwhile, and will let you know then the result of my
When Genzaburô heard this he felt greatly relieved,
and, recommending Sazen to do
his best in the matter, took his leave and returned home.
That very night Sazen, after thinking over all that
Genzaburô had told him, laid his plans accordingly,
and went off to the house of Kihachi, the Eta chief, and
told him the commission with which he had been
Kihachi was of course greatly astonished, and said, "Some
time ago, sir, Chokichi came here and said that my lord
Genzaburô, having been rebuked by his family for his
profligate behaviour, had determined to break off his
connection with my daughter. Of course I knew that the daughter
of an Eta was no fitting match for a nobleman; so when Chokichi
came and told me the errand upon which he had been sent, I had
no alternative but to announce to my daughter that she must
give up all thought of his lordship. Since that time she has
been fretting and pining and starving for love. But when I tell
her what you have just said, how glad and happy she will be!
Let me go and talk to her at once." And with these words, he
went to O Koyo's room; and when he looked upon her thin wasted
face, and saw how sad she was, he felt more and more pity for
her, and said, "Well, O Koyo, are you in better spirits to-day?
Would you like something to eat?"
"Thank you, I have no appetite."
"Well, at any rate, I have some news for you that will make
you happy. A messenger has come from my lord Genzaburô,
for whom your heart yearns."
At this O Koyo, who had been crouching down like a drooping
flower, gave a great start, and cried out, "Is that really
true? Pray tell me all about it as quickly as possible."
"The story which Chokichi came and told us, that his
lordship wished to break off the connection, was all an
invention. He has all along been wishing to meet you, and
constantly urged Chokichi to bring you a message from him. It
is Chokichi who has been throwing obstacles in the way. At last
his lordship has secretly sent a man, called Kaji Sazen, a
fortune-teller, to arrange an interview between you. So now, my
child, you may cheer up, and go to meet your lover as soon as
When O Koyo heard this, she was so happy that she thought it
must all be a dream, and doubted her own senses.
Kihachi in the meanwhile rejoined Sazen in the other room,
and, after telling him of the joy with which his daughter had
heard the news, put before him wine and other delicacies. "I
think," said Sazen, "that the best way would be for O Koyo to
live secretly in my lord Genzaburô's house; but as it
will never do for all the world to know of it, it must be
managed very quietly; and further, when I get home, I must
think out some plan to lull the suspicions of that fellow
Chokichi, and let you know my idea by letter. Meanwhile O Koyo
had better come home with me to-night: although she is so
terribly out of spirits now, she shall meet Genzaburô the
day after to-morrow."
Kihachi reported this to O Koyo; and as her pining for
Genzaburô was the
only cause of her sickness, she recovered her spirits at
once, and, saying that she would go with Sazen immediately,
joyfully made her preparations. Then Sazen, having once more
warned Kihachi to keep the matter secret from Chokichi, and
to act upon the letter which he should send him, returned
home, taking with him O Koyo; and after O Koyo had bathed
and dressed her hair, and painted herself and put on
beautiful clothes, she came out looking so lovely that no
princess in the land could vie with her; and Sazen, when he
saw her, said to himself that it was no wonder that
Genzaburô had fallen in love with her; then, as it was
getting late, he advised her to go to rest, and, after
showing her to her apartments, went to his own room and
wrote his letter to Kihachi, containing the scheme which he
had devised. When Kihachi received his instructions, he was
filled with admiration at Sazen's ingenuity, and, putting on
an appearance of great alarm and agitation, went off
immediately to call on Chokichi, and said to him—
"Oh, Master Chokichi, such a terrible thing has happened!
Pray, let me tell you all about it."
"Indeed! what can it be?"
"Oh! sir," answered Kihachi, pretending to wipe away his
tears, "my daughter O Koyo, mourning over her separation from
my lord Genzaburô, at first refused all sustenance, and
remained nursing her sorrows until, last night, her woman's
heart failing to bear up against her great grief, she drowned
herself in the river, leaving behind her a paper on which she
had written her intention."
When Chokichi heard this, he was thunderstruck, and
exclaimed, "Can this really be true! And when I think that it
was I who first introduced her to my lord, I am ashamed to look
you in the face."
"Oh, say not so: misfortunes are the punishment due for our
misdeeds in a former state of existence. I bear you no
ill-will. This money which I hold in my hand was my daughter's;
and in her last instructions she wrote to beg that it might be
given, after her death, to you, through whose intervention she
became allied with a nobleman: so please accept it as my
daughter's legacy to you;" and as he spoke, he offered him
"You amaze me!" replied the other. "How could I, above all
men, who have so much to reproach myself with in my conduct
towards you, accept this money?"
"Nay; it was my dead daughter's wish. But since you reproach
yourself in the matter when you think of her, I will beg you to
put up a prayer and to cause masses to be said for her."
At last, Chokichi, after much persuasion, and greatly to his
own distress, was obliged to accept the money; and when Kihachi
had carried out all Sazen's instructions, he returned home,
laughing in his sleeve.
Chokichi was sorely grieved to hear of O Koyo's death, and
remained thinking over the sad news; when all of a sudden
looking about him, he saw something
like a letter lying on the spot where Kihachi had been
sitting, so he picked it up and read it; and, as luck would
have it, it was the very letter which contained Sazen's
instructions to Kihachi, and in which the whole story which
had just affected him so much was made up. When he perceived
the trick that had been played upon him, he was very angry,
and exclaimed, "To think that I should have been so hoaxed
by that hateful old dotard, and such a fellow as Sazen! And
Genzaburô, too!—out of gratitude for the favours
which I had received from him in old days, I faithfully gave
him good advice, and all in vain. Well, they've gulled me
once; but I'll be even with them yet, and hinder their game
before it is played out!" And so he worked himself up into a
fury, and went off secretly to prowl about Sazen's house to
watch for O Koyo, determined to pay off Genzaburô and
Sazen for their conduct to him.
In the meanwhile Sazen, who did not for a moment suspect
what had happened, when the day which had been fixed upon by
him and Genzaburô arrived, made O Koyo put on her best
clothes, smartened up his house, and got ready a feast against
Genzaburô's arrival. The latter came punctually to his
time, and, going in at once, said to the fortune-teller, "Well,
have you succeeded in the commission with which I entrusted
At first Sazen pretended to be vexed at the question, and
said, "Well, sir, I've done my best; but it's not a matter
which can be settled in a hurry. However, there's a young lady
of high birth and wonderful beauty upstairs, who has come here
secretly to have her fortune told; and if your lordship would
like to come with me and see her, you can do so."
But Genzaburô, when he heard that he was not to meet O
Koyo, lost heart entirely, and made up his mind to go home
again. Sazen, however, pressed him so eagerly, that at last he
went upstairs to see this vaunted beauty; and Sazen, drawing
aside a screen, showed him O Koyo, who was sitting there.
Genzaburô gave a great start, and, turning to Sazen,
said, "Well, you certainly are a first-rate hand at keeping up
a hoax. However, I cannot sufficiently praise the way in which
you have carried out my instructions."
"Pray, don't mention it, sir. But as it is a long time since
you have met the young lady, you must have a great deal to say
to one another; so I will go downstairs, and, if you want
anything, pray call me." And so he went downstairs and left
Then Genzaburô, addressing O Koyo, said, "Ah! it is
indeed a long time since we met. How happy it makes me to see
you again! Why, your face has grown quite thin. Poor thing!
have you been unhappy?" And O Koyo, with the tears starting
from her eyes for joy, hid her face; and her heart was so full
that she could not speak. But Genzaburô, passing his hand
gently over her head and back, and comforting her, said, "Come,
sweetheart, there is no
need to sob so. Talk to me a little, and let me hear your
At last O Koyo raised her head and said, "Ah! when I was
separated from you by the tricks of Chokichi, and thought that
I should never meet you again, how tenderly I thought of you! I
thought I should have died, and waited for my hour to come,
pining all the while for you. And when at last, as I lay
between life and death, Sazen came with a message from you, I
thought it was all a dream." And as she spoke, she bent her
head and sobbed again; and in Genzaburô's eyes she seemed
more beautiful than ever, with her pale, delicate face; and he
loved her better than before. Then she said, "If I were to tell
you all I have suffered until to-day, I should never stop."
"Yes," replied Genzaburô, "I too have suffered much;"
and so they told one another their mutual griefs, and from that
day forth they constantly met at Sazen's house.
One day, as they were feasting and enjoying themselves in an
upper storey in Sazen's house, Chokichi came to the house and
said, "I beg pardon; but does one Master Sazen live here?"
"Certainly, sir: I am Sazen, at your service. Pray where are
"Well, sir, I have a little business to transact with you.
May I make so bold as to go in?" And with these words, he
entered the house.
"But who and what are you?" said Sazen.
"Sir, I am an Eta; and my name is Chokichi. I beg to bespeak
your goodwill for myself: I hope we may be friends."
Sazen was not a little taken aback at this; however, he put
on an innocent face, as though he had never heard of Chokichi
before, and said, "I never heard of such a thing! Why, I
thought you were some respectable person; and you have the
impudence to tell me that your name is Chokichi, and that
you're one of those accursed Etas. To think of such a shameless
villain coming and asking to be friends with me, forsooth! Get
you gone!—the quicker, the better: your presence pollutes
Chokichi smiled contemptuously, as he answered, "So you deem
the presence of an Eta in your house a pollution—eh? Why,
I thought you must be one of us."
"Insolent knave! Begone as fast as possible."
"Well, since you say that I defile your house, you had
better get rid of O Koyo as well. I suppose she must equally be
a pollution to it."
This put Sazen rather in a dilemma; however, he made up his
mind not to show any hesitation, and said, "What are you
talking about? There is no O Koyo here; and I never saw such a
person in my life."
Chokichi quietly drew out of the bosom of his dress the
letter from Sazen to Kihachi, which he had picked up a few days
before, and, showing it to Sazen, replied, "If you wish to
dispute the genuineness of this
paper, I will report the whole matter to the Governor of
Yedo; and Genzaburô's family will be ruined, and the
rest of you who are parties in this affair will come in for
your share of trouble. Just wait a little."
And as he pretended to leave the house, Sazen, at his wits'
end, cried out, "Stop! stop! I want to speak to you. Pray, stop
and listen quietly. It is quite true, as you said, that O Koyo
is in my house; and really your indignation is perfectly just.
Come! let us talk over matters a little. Now you yourself were
originally a respectable man; and although you have fallen in
life, there is no reason why your disgrace should last for
ever. All that you want in order to enable you to escape out of
this fraternity of Etas is a little money. Why should you not
get this from Genzaburô, who is very anxious to keep his
intrigue with O Koyo secret?"
Chokichi laughed disdainfully. "I am ready to talk with you;
but I don't want any money. All I want is to report the affair
to the authorities, in order that I may be revenged for the
fraud that was put upon me."
"Won't you accept twenty-five riyos?"
"Twenty-five riyos! No, indeed! I will not take a fraction
less than a hundred; and if I cannot get them I will report the
whole matter at once."
Sazen, after a moment's consideration, hit upon a scheme,
and answered, smiling, "Well, Master Chokichi, you're a fine
fellow, and I admire your spirit. You shall have the hundred
riyos you ask for; but, as I have not so much money by me at
present, I will go to Genzaburô's house and fetch it.
It's getting dark now, but it's not very late; so I'll trouble
you to come with me, and then I can give you the money
Chokichi consenting to this, the pair left the house
Now Sazen, who as a Rônin wore a long dirk in his
girdle, kept looking out for a moment when Chokichi should be
off his guard, in order to kill him; but Chokichi kept his eyes
open, and did not give Sazen a chance. At last Chokichi, as
ill-luck would have it, stumbled against a stone and fell; and
Sazen, profiting by the chance, drew his dirk and stabbed him
in the side; and as Chokichi, taken by surprise, tried to get
up, he cut him severely over the head, until at last he fell
dead. Sazen then looking around him, and seeing, to his great
delight, that there was no one near, returned home. The
following day, Chokichi's body was found by the police; and
when they examined it, they found nothing upon it save a paper,
which they read, and which proved to be the very letter which
Sazen had sent to Kihachi, and which Chokichi had picked up.
The matter was immediately reported to the governor, and, Sazen
having been summoned, an investigation was held. Sazen, cunning
and bold murderer as he was, lost his self-possession when he
saw what a fool he had been not to get back from Chokichi the
letter which he had written, and, when he was put to a rigid
examination under torture,
confessed that he had
hidden O Koyo at Genzaburô's instigation, and then
killed Chokichi, who had found out the secret. Upon this the
governor, after consulting about Genzaburô's case,
decided that, as he had disgraced his position as a Hatamoto
by contracting an alliance with the daughter of an Eta, his
property should be confiscated, his family blotted out, and
himself banished. As for Kihachi, the Eta chief, and his
daughter O Koyo, they were handed over for punishment to the
chief of the Etas, and by him they too were banished; while
Sazen, against whom the murder of Chokichi had been fully
proved, was executed according to law.
At Asakusa, in Yedo, there lives a man called
Danzayémon, the chief of the Etas. This man traces his
pedigree back to Minamoto no Yoritomo, who founded the
Shogunate in the year A.D. 1192. The whole of the Etas in Japan
are under his jurisdiction; his subordinates are called
Koyagashira, or "chiefs of the huts"; and he and they
constitute the government of the Etas. In the "Legacy of
Iyéyasu," already quoted, the 36th Law provides as
follows:—"All wandering mendicants, such as male
sorcerers, female diviners, hermits, blind people, beggars, and
tanners (Etas), have had from of old their respective rulers.
Be not disinclined, however, to punish any such who give rise
to disputes, or who overstep the boundaries of their own
classes and are disobedient to existing laws."
The occupation of the Etas is to kill and flay horses, oxen,
and other beasts, to stretch drums and make shoes; and if they
are very poor, they wander from house to house, working as
cobblers, mending old shoes and leather, and so earn a scanty
livelihood. Besides this, their daughters and young married
women gain a trifle as wandering minstrels, called Torioi,
playing on the shamisen, a sort of banjo, and singing
ballads. They never marry out of their own fraternity, but
remain apart, a despised and shunned race.
At executions by crucifixion it is the duty of the Etas to
transfix the victims with spears; and, besides this, they have
to perform all sorts of degrading offices about criminals, such
as carrying sick prisoners from their cells to the hall of
justice, and burying the bodies of those that have been
executed. Thus their race is polluted and accursed, and they
are hated accordingly.
Now this is how the Etas came to be under the jurisdiction
When Minamoto no Yoritomo was yet a child, his father,
Minamoto no Yoshitomo, fought with Taira no Kiyomori, and was
killed by treachery: so his family was ruined; and Yoshitomo's
concubine, whose name was Tokiwa, took her children and fled
from the house, to save her own and their lives. But Kiyomori,
desiring to destroy the family of Yoshitomo root and branch,
ordered his retainers to divide themselves into bands, and seek
out the children. At last they were found; but Tokiwa was so
exceedingly beautiful that Kiyomori was inflamed with love for
her, and desired her to become his own concubine. Then Tokiwa
told Kiyomori that if he would spare her little
ones she would share his couch; but that if he killed her
children she would destroy herself rather than yield to his
desire. When he heard this, Kiyomori, bewildered by the
beauty of Tokiwa, spared the lives of her children, but
banished them from the capital.
So Yoritomo was sent to Hirugakojima, in the province of
Idzu; and when he grew up and became a man, he married the
daughter of a peasant. After a while Yoritomo left the
province, and went to the wars, leaving his wife pregnant; and
in due time she was delivered of a male child, to the delight
of her parents, who rejoiced that their daughter should bear
seed to a nobleman; but she soon fell sick and died, and the
old people took charge of the babe. And when they also died,
the care of the child fell to his mother's kinsmen, and he grew
up to be a peasant.
Now Kiyomori, the enemy of Yoritomo, had been gathered to
his fathers; and Yoritomo had avenged the death of his father
by slaying Munémori, the son of Kiyomori; and there was
peace throughout the land. And Yoritomo became the chief of all
the noble houses in Japan, and first established the government
of the country. When Yoritomo had thus raised himself to power,
if the son that his peasant wife had born to him had proclaimed
himself the son of the mighty prince, he would have been made
lord over a province; but he took no thought of this, and
remained a tiller of the earth, forfeiting a glorious
inheritance; and his descendants after him lived as peasants in
the same village, increasing in prosperity and in good repute
among their neighbours.
But the princely line of Yoritomo came to an end in three
generations, and the house of Hôjô was all-powerful
in the land.
Now it happened that the head of the house of
Hôjô heard that a descendant of Yoritomo was living
as a peasant in the land, so he summoned him and
"It is a hard thing to see the son of an illustrious house
live and die a peasant. I will promote you to the rank of
Then the peasant answered, "My lord, if I become a Samurai,
and the retainer of some noble, I shall not be so happy as when
I was my own master. If I may not remain a husbandman, let me
be a chief over men, however humble they may be."
But my lord Hôjô was angry at this, and,
thinking to punish the peasant for his insolence,
"Since you wish to become a chief over men, no matter how
humble, there is no means of gratifying your strange wish but
by making you chief over the Etas of the whole country. So now
see that you rule them well."
When he heard this, the peasant was afraid; but because he
had said that he wished to become a chief over men, however
humble, he could not choose but become chief of the Etas, he
and his children after him for ever; and Danzayémon, who
rules the Etas at the present time, and lives at Asakusa, is