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Tales of Old Japan




On the death of a parent, the mourning clothes worn are made of coarse hempen cloth, and during the whole period of mourning these must be worn night and day. As the burial of his parents is the most important ceremony which a man has to go through during his whole life, when the occasion comes, in order that there be no confusion, he must employ some person to teach him the usual and proper rites. Above all things to be reprehended is the burning of the dead: they should be interred without burning.123 The ceremonies to be observed at a funeral should by rights have been learned before there is occasion to put them in practice. If a man have no father or mother, he is sure to have to bury other relations; and so he should not disregard this study. There are some authorities who select lucky days and hours and lucky places for burying the dead, but this is wrong; and when they talk about curses being brought upon posterity by not observing these auspicious seasons and places, they make a great mistake. It is a matter of course that an auspicious day must be chosen so far as avoiding wind and rain is concerned, that men may bury their dead without their minds being distracted; and it is important to choose a fitting cemetery, lest in after days the tomb should be damaged by rain, or by men walking over it, or by the place being turned into a field, or built upon. When invited to a friend's or neighbour's funeral, a man should avoid putting on smart clothes and dresses of ceremony; and when he follows the coffin, he should not speak in a loud voice to the person next him, for that is very rude; and even should he have occasion to do so, he should avoid entering wine-shops or tea-houses on his return from the funeral.

The list of persons present at a funeral should be written on slips of paper, and firmly bound together. It may be written as any other list, only it must not be written beginning at the right hand, as is usually the case, but from the left hand (as is the case in European books).

On the day of burial, during the funeral service, incense is burned in the temple before the tablet on which is inscribed the name under which the dead person enters salvation.124 The incense-burners, having washed their hands, one by one, enter the room where the tablet is exposed, and advance half-way up to the tablet, facing it; producing incense wrapped in paper from their bosoms, they hold it in their left hands, and, taking a pinch with the right hand, they place the packet in their left sleeve. If the table on which the tablet is placed be high, the person offering incense half raises himself from his crouching position; if the table be low, he remains crouching to burn the incense, after which he takes three steps backwards, with bows and reverences, and retires six feet, when he again crouches down to watch the incense-burning, and bows to the priests who are sitting in a row with their chief at their head, after which he rises and leaves the room. Up to the time of burning the incense no notice is taken of the priest. At the ceremony of burning incense before the grave, the priests are not saluted. The packet of incense is made of fine paper folded in three, both ways.


The reason why the author of the "Sho-rei Hikki" has treated so briefly of the funeral ceremonies is probably that these rites, being invariably entrusted to the Buddhist priesthood, vary according to the sect of the latter; and, as there are no less than fifteen sects of Buddhism in Japan, it would be a long matter to enter into the ceremonies practised by each. Should Buddhism be swept out of Japan, as seems likely to be the case, men will probably return to the old rites which obtained before its introduction in the sixth century of our era. What those rites were I have been unable to learn.


Footnote 1: (return)

According to Japanese tradition, in the fifth year of the Emperor Kôrei (286 B.C.), the earth opened in the province of Omi, near Kiôto, and Lake Biwa, sixty miles long by about eighteen broad, was formed in the shape of a Biwa, or four-stringed lute, from which it takes its name. At the same time, to compensate for the depression of the earth, but at a distance of over three hundred miles from the lake, rose Fuji-Yama, the last eruption of which was in the year 1707. The last great earthquake at Yedo took place about fifteen years ago. Twenty thousand souls are said to have perished in it, and the dead were carried away and buried by cartloads; many persons, trying to escape from their falling and burning houses, were caught in great clefts, which yawned suddenly in the earth, and as suddenly closed upon the victims, crushing them to death. For several days heavy shocks continued to be felt, and the people camped out, not daring to return to such houses as had been spared, nor to build up those which lay in ruins.

Footnote 2: (return)

The word Rônin means, literally, a "wave-man"; one who is tossed about hither and thither, as a wave of the sea. It is used to designate persons of gentle blood, entitled to bear arms, who, having become separated from their feudal lords by their own act, or by dismissal, or by fate, wander about the country in the capacity of somewhat disreputable knights-errant, without ostensible means of living, in some cases offering themselves for hire to new masters, in others supporting themselves by pillage; or who, falling a grade in the social scale, go into trade, and become simple wardsmen. Sometimes it happens that for political reasons a man will become Rônin, in order that his lord may not be implicated in some deed of blood in which he is about to engage. Sometimes, also, men become Rônins, and leave their native place for a while, until some scrape in which they have become entangled shall have blown over; after which they return to their former allegiance. Nowadays it is not unusual for men to become Rônins for a time, and engage themselves in the service of foreigners at the open ports, even in menial capacities, in the hope that they may pick up something of the language and lore of Western folks. I know instances of men of considerable position who have adopted this course in their zeal for education.

Footnote 3: (return)

The full title of the Tycoon was Sei-i-tai-Shogun, "Barbarian-repressing Commander-in-chief." The style Tai Kun, Great Prince, was borrowed, in order to convey the idea of sovereignty to foreigners, at the time of the conclusion of the Treaties. The envoys sent by the Mikado from Kiôto to communicate to the Shogun the will of his sovereign were received with Imperial honours, and the duty of entertaining them was confided to nobles of rank. The title Sei-i-tai-Shogun was first borne by Minamoto no Yoritomo, in the seventh month of the year A.D. 1192.

Footnote 4: (return)

Councillor, lit. "elder." The councillors of daimios were of two classes: the Karô, or "elder," an hereditary office, held by cadets of the Prince's family, and the Yônin, or "man of business," who was selected on account of his merits. These "councillors" play no mean part in Japanese history.

Footnote 5: (return)

Samurai, a man belonging to the Buké or military class, entitled to bear arms.

Footnote 6: (return)

It is usual for a Japanese, when bent upon some deed of violence, the end of which, in his belief, justifies the means, to carry about with him a document, such as that translated above, in which he sets forth his motives, that his character may be cleared after death.

Footnote 7: (return)

The dirk with which Asano Takumi no Kumi disembowelled himself and with which Oishi Kuranosuké cut off Kôtsuké no Suké's head.

Footnote 8: (return)

A purist in Japanese matters may object to the use of the words hara-kiri instead of the more elegant expression Seppuku. I retain the more vulgar form as being better known, and therefore more convenient.

Footnote 9: (return)

The Chinese, and the Japanese following them, divide the day of twenty-four hours into twelve periods, each of which has a sign something like the signs of the Zodiac:—

Midnight until two in the morning is represented by the rat.
2 a.m. " 4 a.m. " " ox.
4 a.m. " 6 a.m. " " tiger.
6 a.m. " 8 a.m. " " hare.
8 a.m. " 10 a.m. " " dragon.
10 a.m. " 12 noon " " snake.
12 noon " 2 p.m. " " horse.
2 p.m. " 4 p.m. " " ram.
4 p.m. " 6 p.m. " " ape.
6 p.m. " 8 p.m. " " cock.
8 p.m. " 10 p.m. " " hog.
10 p.m. " Midnight " " fox.

Footnote 10: (return)

Fudô, literally "the motionless": Buddha in the state called Nirvana.

Footnote 11: (return)

It will be readily understood that the customs and ceremonies to which I have alluded belong only to the gross superstitions with which ignorance has overlaid that pure Buddhism of which Professor Max Müller has pointed out the very real beauties.

Footnote 12: (return)

Japanese cities are divided into wards, and every tradesman and artisan is under the authority of the chief of the ward in which he resides. The word chônin, or wardsman, is generally used in contradistinction to the word samurai, which has already been explained as denoting a man belonging to the military class.

Footnote 13: (return)

The name Yoshiwara, which is becoming generic for "Flower Districts,"—Anglicé, quarters occupied by brothels,—is sometimes derived from the town Yoshiwara, in Sunshine, because it was said that the women of that place furnished a large proportion of the beauties of the Yedo Yoshiwara. The correct derivation is probably that given below.

Footnote 14: (return)

Those who are interested in this branch of social science, will find much curious information upon the subject of prostitution in Japan in a pamphlet published at Yokohama, by Dr. Newton, R.N., a philanthropist who has been engaged for the last two years in establishing a Lock Hospital at that place. In spite of much opposition, from prejudice and ignorance, his labours have been crowned by great success.

Footnote 15: (return)

The Legacy of Iyéyasu, translated by F. Lowder. Yokohama, 1868. (Printed for private circulation.)

Footnote 16: (return)

Hatamotos. The Hatamotos were the feudatory nobles of the Shogun or Tycoon. The office of Taikun having been abolished, the Hatamotos no longer exist. For further information respecting them, see the note at the end of the story.

Footnote 17: (return)

The first Council of the Shogun's ministers; literally, "assembly of imperial elders."

Footnote 18: (return)

A physician attending a personage of exalted rank has always to drink half the potion he prescribes as a test of his good faith.

Footnote 19: (return)

Goddess of the sun, and ancestress of the Mikados.

Footnote 20: (return)

"In respect to revenging injury done to master or father, it is granted by the wise and virtuous (Confucius) that you and the injurer cannot live together under the canopy of heaven.

Footnote 21: (return)

See the story of Kazuma's Revenge.

Footnote 22: (return)

The tiny Japanese pipe contains but two or three whiffs; and as the tobacco is rolled up tightly in the fingers before it is inserted, the ash, when shaken out, is a little fire-ball from which a second pipe is lighted.

Footnote 23: (return)

It is an act of rudeness to offer a large wine-cup. As, however, the same cup is returned to the person who has offered it, the ill carries with it its own remedy. At a Japanese feast the same cup is passed from hand to hand, each person rinsing it in a bowl of water after using it, and before offering it to another.

Footnote 24: (return)

The giving of presents from inferiors to superiors is a common custom.

Footnote 25: (return)

Tôken, a nickname given to Gombei, after a savage dog that he killed. As a Chônin, or wardsman, he had no surname.

Footnote 26: (return)

See the story of Gompachi and Komurasaki.

Footnote 27: (return)

The swords of Muramasa, although so finely tempered that they are said to cut hard iron as though it were a melon, have the reputation of being unlucky: they are supposed by the superstitious to hunger after taking men's lives, and to be unable to repose in their scabbards. The principal duty of a sword is to preserve tranquillity in the world, by punishing the wicked and protecting the good. But the bloodthirsty swords of Muramasa rather have the effect of maddening their owners, so that they either kill others indiscriminately or commit suicide. At the end of the sixteenth century Prince Tokugawa Iyéyasu was in the habit of carrying a spear made by Muramasa, with which he often scratched or cut himself by mistake. Hence the Tokugawa family avoid girding on Muramasa blades, which are supposed to be specially unlucky to their race. The murders of Gompachi, who wore a sword by this maker, also contributed to give his weapons a bad name.

The swords of one Tôshirô Yoshimitsu, on the other hand, are specially auspicious to the Tokugawa family, for the following reason. After Iyéyasu had been defeated by Takéta Katsuyori, at the battle of the river Tenrin, he took refuge in the house of a village doctor, intending to put an end to his existence by hara-kiri, and drawing his dirk, which was made by Yoshimitsu, tried to plunge it into his belly, when, to his surprise, the blade turned. Thinking that the dirk must be a bad one, he took up an iron mortar for grinding medicines and tried it upon that, and the point entered and transfixed the mortar. He was about to stab himself a second time, when his followers, who had missed him, and had been searching for him everywhere, came up, and seeing their master about to kill himself, stayed his hand, and took away the dirk by force. Then they set him upon his horse and compelled him to fly to his own province of Mikawa, whilst they kept his pursuers at bay. After this, when, by the favour of Heaven, Iyéyasu became Shogun, it was considered that of a surety there must have been a good spirit in the blade that refused to drink his blood; and ever since that time the blades of Yoshimitsu have been considered lucky in his family.

Footnote 28: (return)

The halberd is the special arm of the Japanese woman of gentle blood. That which was used by Kasa Gozen, one of the ladies of Yoshitsuné, the hero of the twelfth century, is still preserved at Asakusa. In old-fashioned families young ladies are regularly instructed in fencing with the halberds.

Footnote 29: (return)

See Note at end of story.

Footnote 30: (return)

The lowest classes in Japan are buried in a squatting position, in a sort of barrel. One would have expected a person of Chôbei's condition and means to have ordered a square box. It is a mistake to suppose the burning of the dead to be universal in Japan: only about thirty per cent of the lower classes, chiefly belonging to the Montô sect of Buddhism, are burnt. The rich and noble are buried in several square coffins, one inside the other, in a sitting position; and their bodies are partially preserved from decay by filling the nose, ears, and mouth with vermilion. In the case of the very wealthy, the coffin is completely filled in with vermilion. The family of the Princes of Mito, and some other nobles, bury their dead in a recumbent position.

Footnote 31: (return)

It is customary, on the occasion of a first visit to a house, to carry a present to the owner, who gives something of equal value on returning the visit.

Footnote 32: (return)

This sort of bath, in which the water is heated by the fire of a furnace which is lighted from outside, is called Goyémon-buro, or Goyémon's bath, after a notorious robber named Goyémon, who attempted the life of Taiko Sama, the famous general and ruler of the sixteenth century, and suffered for his crimes by being boiled to death in oil—a form of execution which is now obsolete.

Footnote 33: (return)

This gate was destroyed by fire a few years since.

Footnote 34: (return)

Sir Rutherford Alcock, in his book upon Japan, states that the portraits of the most famous courtesans of Yedo are yearly hung up in the temple at Asakusa. No such pictures are to be seen now, and no Japanese of whom I have made inquiries have heard of such a custom. The priests of the temple deny that their fane was ever so polluted, and it is probable that the statement is but one of the many strange mistakes into which an imperfect knowledge of the language led the earlier travellers in Japan. In spite of all that has been said by persons who have had no opportunity of associating and exchanging ideas with the educated men of Japan, I maintain that in no country is the public harlot more abhorred and looked down upon.

Footnote 35: (return)

In Dr. Hepburn's Dictionary of the Japanese language, the Chinese characters given for the word Shiba-i are chi chang (keih chang, Morrison's Dictionary), "theatrical arena." The characters which are usually written, and which are etymologically correct, are chih chü (che keu, Morrison), "the place of plants or turf plot."

Footnote 36: (return)

This refers to the Chinese doctrine of the Yang and Yin, the male and female influences pervading all creation.

Footnote 37: (return)

I allude to the Tai Hei Nem-piyô, or Annals of the Great Peace, a very rare work, only two or three copies of which have found their way into the libraries of foreigners.

Footnote 38: (return)

The note at the end of the Story of the Grateful Foxes contains an account of Inari Sama, and explains how the foxes minister to him.

Footnote 39: (return)

This is a literal translation of a Japanese proverb.

Footnote 40: (return)

Shikoku, one of the southern islands separated from the chief island of Japan by the beautiful "Inland Sea;" it is called Shikoku, or the "Four Provinces," because it is divided into the four provinces, Awa, Sanuki, Iyo, and Tosa.

Footnote 41: (return)

Sukésada, a famous family of swordsmiths, belonging to the Bizen clan. The Bizen men are notoriously good armourers, and their blades fetch high prices. The sword of Jiuyémon is said to have been made by one of the Sukésada who lived about 290 years ago.

Footnote 42: (return)

The O before women's names signifies "Imperial," and is simply an honorific.

Footnote 43: (return)

The original is a proverbial expression like "Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes."

Footnote 44: (return)

The abacus, or counting-board, is the means of calculation in use throughout the Continent from St. Petersburg to Peking, in Corea, Japan, and the Liukiu Islands.

Footnote 45: (return)

Foxes, badgers, and cats. See the stories respecting their tricks.

Footnote 46: (return)

See the Introduction to the Story of Chôbei of Bandzuin.

Footnote 47: (return)

Hichi, the first half of Hichirobei, signifies seven.

Footnote 48: (return)

The apprentice addresses his patron as "father."

Footnote 49: (return)

The exposure of the head, called Gokumon, is a disgraceful addition to the punishment of beheading. A document, placed on the execution-ground, sets forth the crime which has called forth the punishment.

Footnote 50: (return)

The Japanese Gog and Magog.

Footnote 51: (return)

The author of the history called "Kokushi Riyaku" explains this fable as being an account of the first eclipse.

Footnote 52: (return)

The mountains in the moon are supposed to resemble a hare in shape. Hence there is a fanciful connection between the hare and the moon.

Footnote 53: (return)

Momo means a peach, and Tarô is the termination of the names of eldest sons, as Hikotarô, Tokutarô, &c. In modern times, however, the termination has been applied indifferently to any male child.

Footnote 54: (return)

The country folk in Japan pretend that the pheasant's call is a sign of an approaching earthquake.

Footnote 55: (return)

See the Appendix on "Ceremonies."

Footnote 56: (return)

See the note on the word Inkiyô, in the story of the "Prince and the Badger."

Footnote 57: (return)

A shower during sunshine, which we call "the devil beating his wife," is called in Japan "the fox's bride going to her husband's house."

Footnote 58: (return)

Tengu, or the Heavenly Dog, a hobgoblin who infests desert places, and is invoked to frighten naughty little children.

Footnote 59: (return)

This last crime is, of course, now obsolete.

Footnote 60: (return)

The story, which also forms the subject of a play, is published, but with altered names, in order that offence may not be given to the Hotta family. The real names are preserved here. The events related took place during the rule of the Shogun Iyémitsu, in the first half of the seventeenth century.

Footnote 61: (return)

A Buddhist deity.

Footnote 62: (return)

Destroyed during the revolution, in the summer of 1868, by the troops of the Mikado. See note on the tombs of the Shoguns, at the end of the story.

Footnote 63: (return)

The name assigned after death to Iyétsuna, the fourth of the dynasty of Tokugawa, who died on the 8th day of the 5th month of the year A.D. 1680.

Footnote 64: (return)

Buddhist text.

Footnote 65: (return)

The Buddhist Styx, which separates paradise from hell, across which the dead are ferried by an old woman, for whom a small piece of money is buried with them.

Footnote 66: (return)

A Buddhist fiend.

Footnote 67: (return)

In the old days, if a noble was murdered, and died outside his own house, he was disgraced, and his estates were forfeited. When the Regent of the Shogun was murdered, some years since, outside the castle of Yedo, by a legal fiction it was given out that he had died in his own palace, in order that his son might succeed to his estates.

Footnote 68: (return)

Level stirrups.

Footnote 69: (return)

In the days of Shogun's power, the Mikado remained the Fountain of Honour, and, as chief of the national religion and the direct descendant of the gods, dispensed divine honours.

Footnote 70: (return)
10 Sho = 1 Tô.
10 Tô = 1 Koku.
Footnote 71: (return)

The apparently poor shaven-pated and blind shampooers of Japan drive a thriving trade as money-lenders. They give out small sums at an interest of 20 per cent. per month—210 per cent. per annum—and woe betide the luckless wight who falls into their clutches.

Footnote 72: (return)

The road of the Eastern Sea, the famous high-road leading from Kiyôto to Yedo. The name is also used to indicate the provinces through which it runs.

Footnote 73: (return)


Footnote 74: (return)

Cats are found in Japan, as in the Isle of Man, with stumps, where they should have tails. Sometimes this is the result of art, sometimes of a natural shortcoming. The cats of Yedo are of bad repute as mousers, their energies being relaxed by much petting at the hands of ladies. The Cat of Nabéshima, so says tradition, was a monster with two tails.

Footnote 75: (return)

The family of the Prince of Hizen, one of the eighteen chief Daimios of Japan.

Footnote 76: (return)

A restorative in high repute. The best sorts are brought from Corea.

Footnote 77: (return)

The author of the "Kanzen-Yawa," the book from which the story is taken.

Footnote 78: (return)

Bu. This coin is generally called by foreigners "ichibu," which means "one bu." To talk of "a hundred ichibus" is as though a Japanese were to say "a hundred one shillings." Four bus make a riyo>, or ounce; and any sum above three bus is spoken of as so many riyos and bus—as 101 riyos and three bus equal 407 bus. The bu is worth about 1s. 4d.

Footnote 79: (return)

Inari Sama is the title under which was deified a certain mythical personage, called Uga, to whom tradition attributes the honour of having first discovered and cultivated the rice-plant. He is represented carrying a few ears of rice, and is symbolized by a snake guarding a bale of rice grain. The foxes wait upon him, and do his bidding. Inasmuch as rice is the most important and necessary product of Japan, the honours which Inari Sama receives are extraordinary. Almost every house in the country contains somewhere about the grounds a pretty little shrine in his honour; and on a certain day of the second month of the year his feast is celebrated with much beating of drums and other noises, in which the children take a special delight. "On this day," says the Ô-Satsuyô, a Japanese cyclopædia, "at Yedo, where there are myriads upon myriads of shrines to Inari Sama, there are all sorts of ceremonies. Long banners with inscriptions are erected, lamps and lanterns are hung up, and the houses are decked with various dolls and figures; the sound of flutes and drums is heard, the people dance and make holiday according to their fancy. In short, it is the most bustling festival of the Yedo year."

Footnote 80: (return)

A Buddhist prayer, in which something approaching to the sounds of the original Sanscrit has been preserved. The meaning of the prayer is explained as, "Save us, eternal Buddha!" Many even of the priests who repeat it know it only as a formula, without understanding it.

Footnote 81: (return)

An island on the west coast of Japan, famous for its gold mines.

Footnote 82: (return)

The author of the tale.

Footnote 83: (return)

Inkiyô, abdication. The custom of abdication is common among all classes, from the Emperor down to his meanest subject. The Emperor abdicates after consultation with his ministers: the Shogun has to obtain the permission of the Emperor; the Daimios, that of the Shogun. The abdication of the Emperor was called Sentô; that of the Shogun, Oyoshô; in all other ranks it is called Inkiyô. It must be remembered that the princes of Japan, in becoming Inkiyô, resign the semblance and the name, but not the reality of power. Both in their own provinces and in the country at large they play a most important part. The ex-Princes of Tosa, Uwajima and Owari, are far more notable men in Japan than the actual holders of the titles.

Footnote 84: (return)

Kishimojin, a female deity of the Buddhists.

Footnote 85: (return)

The seven passions are joy, anger, sadness, fear, love, hatred, and desire.

Footnote 86: (return)

One of the Buddhist classics.

Footnote 87: (return)

Môshi, the Japanese pronunciation of the name of the Chinese philosopher Mêng Tse, whom Europeans call Mencius.

Footnote 88: (return)

"The moon looks on many brooks;

The brooks see but one moon."—T. MOORE.

Footnote 89: (return)

The younger brother of Minamoto no Yoritomo, who first established the government of the Shoguns. The battle of Ichi-no-tani took place in the year A.D. 1184.

Footnote 90: (return)

Literally, "a dance of the Province of Tosa."

Footnote 91: (return)

A famous actor of Yedo, who lived 195 years ago. He was born at Sakura, in Shimôsa.

Footnote 92: (return)

The ordinary wine-cup holding only a thimbleful, to drink wine out of teacups is a great piece of debauchery—like drinking brandy in tumblers.

Footnote 93: (return)

Kôshi is the Japanese pronunciation of the name of the Chinese philosopher Kung Tsū, or Kung Fu Tsū, whom we call Confucius.

Footnote 94: (return)

Ancient divisions of China.

Footnote 95: (return)

Wine is almost always drunk hot.

Footnote 96: (return)

A famous gold- and silver-smith of the olden time. A Benvenuto Cellini among the Japanese. His mark on a piece of metal work enhances its value tenfold.

Footnote 97: (return)

Curiosities, such as porcelain or enamel or carved jade from China, are highly esteemed by the Japanese. A great quantity of the porcelain of Japan is stamped with counterfeit Chinese marks of the Ming dynasty.

Footnote 98: (return)

An incantation used to invite spiders, which are considered unlucky by the superstitious, to come again at the Greek Kalends.

Footnote 99: (return)

Two famous Indian and Chinese physicians.

Footnote 100: (return)

All the temples in China and Japan have guests' apartments, which may be secured for a trifle, either for a long or short period. It is false to suppose that there is any desecration of a sacred shrine in the act of using it as a hostelry; it is the custom of the country.

Footnote 101: (return)

The second book of Confucius.

Footnote 102: (return)

Ashikaga, third dynasty of Shoguns, flourished from A.D. 1336 to 1568. The practice of suicide by disembowelling is of great antiquity. This is the time when the ceremonies attending it were invented.

Footnote 103: (return)

A bâton with a tassel of paper strips, used for giving directions in war-time.

Footnote 104: (return)

See the story of the Forty-seven Rônins.

Footnote 105: (return)

No Japanese authority that I have been able to consult gives any explanation of this singular name.

Footnote 106: (return)

White, in China and Japan, is the colour of mourning.

Footnote 107: (return)

The principal yashikis (palaces) of the nobles are for the most part immediately round the Shogun's castle, in the enclosure known as the official quarter. Their proximity to the palace forbids their being made the scenes of executions.

Footnote 108: (return)

A Japanese removes his sword on entering a house, retaining only his dirk.

Footnote 109: (return)

In Japan, where fires are of daily occurrence, the fire-buckets and other utensils form part of the gala dress of the house of a person of rank.

Footnote 110: (return)

Oishi Chikara was separated from his father, who was one of the seventeen delivered over to the charge of the Prince of Higo.

Footnote 111: (return)

It should be placed about three feet away from him.

Footnote 112: (return)

Seated himself—that is, in the Japanese fashion, his knees and toes touching the ground, and his body resting on his heels. In this position, which is one of respect, he remained until his death.

Footnote 113: (return)

Cf. Gibbon on Roman Marriages, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. iv. p. 345: "The contracting parties were seated on the same sheepskin; they tasted a salt cake of far, or rice; and this confarreation, which denoted the ancient food of Italy, served as an emblem of their mystic union of mind and body."

Footnote 114: (return)

The god who created Japan is called Kunitokodachi no Mikoto. Seven generations of gods after his time existed Izanagi no Mikoto and Izanami no Mikoto—the first a god, the second a goddess. As these two divine beings were standing upon the floating bridge of heaven, two wagtails came; and the gods, watching the amorous dalliance of the two birds, invented the art of love. From their union thus inaugurated sprang the mountains, the rivers, the grass, the trees, the remainder of the gods, and mankind. Another fable is, that as the two gods were standing on the floating bridge of heaven, Izanagi no Mikoto, taking the heavenly jewelled spear, stirred up the sea, and the drops which fell from the point of it congealed and became an island, which was called Onokoro-jima, on which the two gods, descending from heaven, took up their abode.

Footnote 115: (return)

Each cup contains but a sip.

Footnote 116: (return)

In the island of Takasago, in the province of Harima, stands a pine-tree, called the "pine of mutual old age." At the root the tree is single, but towards the centre it springs into two stems—an old, old pine, models of which are used at weddings as a symbol that the happy pair shall reach old age together. Its evergreen leaves are an emblem of the unchanging constancy of the heart. Figures of an old man and woman under the tree are the spirits of the old pine.

Footnote 117: (return)

The partitions of a Japanese suite of apartments being merely composed of paper sliding-screens, any number of rooms, according to the size of the house, can be thrown into one at a moment's notice.

Footnote 118: (return)

A kaioké is a kind of lacquer basin for washing the hands and face.

Footnote 119: (return)

Women in Japan are delivered in a kneeling position, and after the birth of the child they remain night and day in a squatting position, leaning back against a support, for twenty-one days, after which they are allowed to recline. Up to that time the recumbent position is supposed to produce a dangerous rush of blood to the head.

Footnote 120: (return)

This is only a nominal weaning. Japanese children are not really weaned until far later than is ordinary in Europe; and it is by no means uncommon to see a mother in the poorer classes suckling a hulking child of from five to seven years old. One reason given for this practice is, that by this means the danger of having to provide for large families is lessened.

Footnote 121: (return)

For a few days previous to the ceremony the child's head is not shaved.

Footnote 122: (return)

From Yeboshi, a court cap, and Na, a name.

Footnote 123: (return)

On the subject of burning the dead, see a note to the story of Chôbei of Bandzuin.

Footnote 124: (return)

After death a person receives a new name. For instance, the famous Prince Tokugawa Iyéyasu entered salvation as Gongen Sama. This name is called okurina, or the accompanying name.