bayonets, for the holy motive of gain, may yet save the empire from
perils greater than those of the late social disintegration; but it was
cruelly sudden. To imagine the consequence of depriving the English
landed gentry of their revenues would not enable one to realise exactly
what a similar privation signified to the Japanese samurai. For the old
warrior caste knew only the arts of courtesy and the arts of war.
And hearing of these things, I could not help thinking about a strange
pageant at the last great Izumo festival of Rakuzan-jinja.
The hamlet of Rakuzan, known only for its bright yellow pottery and its
little Shinto temple, drowses at the foot of a wooded hill about one ri
from Matsue, beyond a wilderness of rice-fields. And the deity of
Rakuzan-jinja is Naomasa, grandson of Iyeyasu, and father of the Daimyo
Some of the Matsudaira slumber in Buddhist ground, guarded by tortoises
and lions of stone, in the marvellous old courts of Gesshoji. But
Naomasa, the founder of their long line, is enshrined at Rakuzan; and
the Izumo peasants still clap their hands in prayer before his miya, and
implore his love and protection.
Now formerly upon each annual matsuri, or festival, of Rakuzan-jinja, it
was customary to carry the miya of Naomasa-San from the village temple
to the castle of Matsue. In solemn procession it was borne to .those
strange old family temples in the heart of the fortress-grounds - Go-jo-
naiInari-Daimyojin, and Kusunoki-Matauhira-Inari-Daimyojin - whose
mouldering courts, peopled with lions and foxes of stone, are shadowed
by enormous trees. After certain Shinto rites had been performed at both
temples, the miya was carried back in procession to Rakuzan. And this
annual ceremony was called the miyuki or togyo - 'the August Going,' or
Visit, of the ancestor to the ancestral home.
But the revolution changed all things. The daimyo passed away; the
castles fell to ruin; the samurai caste was abolished and dispossessed.
And the miya of Lord Naomasa made no August Visit to the home of the
Mataudaira for more than thirty years.
But it came to pass a little time ago, that certain old men of Matsue
bethought them to revive once more the ancient customs of the Rakuzan
matauri. And there was a miyuki.
The miya of Lord Naomasa was placed within a barge, draped and
decorated, and so conveyed by river and canal to the eastern end of the
old Mataubara road, along whose pine-shaded way the daimyo formerly
departed to Yedo on their annual visit, or returned therefrom. All those
who rowed the barge were aged samurai who had been wont in their youth
to row the barge of Matsudaira-Dewa-no-Kami, the last Lord of Izumo.
They wore their ancient feudal costume; and they tried to sing their
ancient boat-song - o-funa-uta. But more than a generation had passed
since the last time they had sung it; and some of them had lost their
teeth, so that they could not pronounce the words well; and all, being
aged, lost breath easily in the exertion of wielding the oars.
Nevertheless they rowed the barge to the place appointed.
Thence the shrine was borne to a spot by the side of the Mataubara road,
where anciently stood an August Tea-House, O-Chaya, at which the daimyo,
returning from the Shogun's capital, were accustomed to rest and to
receive their faithful retainers, who always came in procession to meet
them. No tea-house stands there now; but, in accord with old custom, the
shrine and its escort waited at the place among the wild flowers and the
pines. And then was seen a strange sight.
For there came to meet the ghost of the great lord a long procession of
shapes that seemed ghosts also - shapes risen out of the dust of
cemeteries: warriors in created helmets and masks of iron and
breastplates of steel, girded with two swords; and spearmen wearing
queues; and retainers in kamishimo; and bearers of hasami-bako. Yet
ghosts these were not, but aged samurai of Matsue, who had borne arms in
the service of the last of the daimyo. And among them appeared his
surviving ministers, the venerable karo; and these, as the procession
turned city-ward, took their old places of honour, and marched before
the shrine valiantly, though bent with years.
How that pageant might have impressed other strangers I do not know. For
me, knowing something of the history of each of those aged men, the
scene had a significance apart from its story of forgotten customs,
apart from its interest as a feudal procession. To-day each and all of
those old samurai are unspeakably poor. Their beautiful homes vanished
long ago; their gardens have been turned into rice-fields; their
household treasures were cruelly bargained for, and bought for almost
nothing by curio-dealers to be resold at high prices to foreigners at
the open ports. And yet what they could have obtained considerable
money for, and what had ceased to be of any service to them, they clung
to fondly through all their poverty and humiliation. Never could they be
induced to part with their armour and their swords, even when pressed by
direst want, under the new and harder conditions of existence.
The river banks, the streets, the balconies, and blue-tiled roofs were
thronged. There was a great quiet as the procession passed. Young people
gazed in hushed wonder, feeling the rare worth of that chance to look
upon what will belong in the future to picture-books only and to the
quaint Japanese stage. And old men wept silently, remembering their
Well spake the ancient thinker: 'Everything is only for a day, both that
which remembers, and that which is remembered.'
Once more, homeward bound, I sat upon the cabin-roof of the Oki-Saigo -
this time happily unencumbered by watermelons - and tried to explain to
myself the feeling of melancholy with which I watched those wild island-
coasts vanishing over the pale sea into the white horizon. No doubt it
was inspired partly by the recollection of kindnesses received from many
whom I shall never meet again; partly, also, by my familiarity with the
ancient soil itself, and remembrance of shapes and places: the long blue
visions down channels between islands - the faint grey fishing hamlets
hiding in stony bays - the elfish oddity of narrow streets in little
primitive towns - the forms and tints of peak and vale made lovable by
daily intimacy - the crooked broken paths to shadowed shrines of gods
with long mysterious names - the butterfly-drifting of yellow sails out
of the glow of an unknown horizon. Yet I think it was due much more to a
particular sensation in which every memory was steeped and toned, as a
landscape is steeped in the light and toned in the colours of the
morning: the sensation of conditions closer to Nature's heart, and
farther from the monstrous machine-world of Western life than any into
which I had ever entered north of the torrid zone. And then it seemed to
me that I loved Oki - in spite of the cuttlefish - chiefly because of
having felt there, as nowhere else in Japan, the full joy of escape from
the far-reaching influences of high-pressure civilisation - the delight
of knowing one's self, in Dozen at least, well beyond the range of
everything artificial in human existence.
Chapter Nine Of Souls
Kinjuro, the ancient gardener, whose head shines like an ivory ball, sat
him down a moment on the edge of the ita-no-ma outside my study to smoke
his pipe at the hibachi always left there for him. And as he smoked he
found occasion to reprove the boy who assists him. What the boy had been
doing I did not exactly know; but I heard Kinjuro bid him try to comport
himself like a creature having more than one Soul. And because those
words interested me I went out and sat down by Kinjuro.
'O Kinjuro,' I said, 'whether I myself have one or more Souls I am not
sure. But it would much please me to learn how many Souls have you.'
'I-the-Selfish-One have only four Souls,' made answer Kinjuro, with
'Four? re-echoed I, feeling doubtful of having understood 'Four,' he
repeated. 'But that boy I think can have only one Soul, so much is he
wanting in patience.'
'And in what manner,' I asked, 'came you to learn that you have four
'There are wise men,' made he answer, while knocking the ashes out of
his little silver pipe, 'there are wise men who know these things. And
there is an ancient book which discourses of them. According to the age
of a man, and the time of his birth, and the stars of heaven, may the
number of his Souls be divined. But this is the knowledge of old men:
the young folk of these times who learn the things of the West do not
'And tell me, O Kinjuro, do there now exist people having more Souls
'Assuredly. Some have five, some six, some seven, some eight Souls. But
no one is by the gods permitted to have more Souls than nine.'
[Now this, as a universal statement, I could not believe, remembering a
woman upon the other side of the world who possessed many generations of
Souls, and knew how to use them all. She wore her Souls just as other
women wear their dresses, and changed them several times a day; and the
multitude of dresses in the wardrobe of Queen Elizabeth was as nothing
to the multitude of this wonderful person's Souls. For which reason she
never appeared the same upon two different occasions; and she changed
her thought and her voice with her Souls. Sometimes she was of the
South, and her eyes were brown; and again she was of the North, and her
eyes were grey. Sometimes she was of the thirteenth, and sometimes of
the eighteenth century; and people doubted their own senses when they
saw these things; and they tried to find out the truth by begging
photographs of her, and then comparing them. Now the photographers
rejoiced to photograph her because she was more than fair; but presently
they also were confounded by the discovery that she was never the same
subject twice. So the men who most admired her could not presume to fall
in love with her because that would have been absurd. She had altogether
too many Souls. And some of you who read this I have written will bear
witness to the verity thereof.]
'Concerning this Country of the Gods, O Kinjuro, that which you say may
be true. But there are other countries having only gods made of gold;
and in those countries matters are not so well arranged; and the
inhabitants thereof are plagued with a plague of Souls. For while some
have but half a Soul, or no Soul at all, others have Souls in multitude
thrust upon them, for which neither nutriment nor employ can be found.
And Souls thus situated torment exceedingly their owners. . . . .That is
to say, Western Souls. . . . But tell me, I pray you, what is the use of
having more than one or two Souls?'
'Master, if all had the same number and quality of Souls, all would
surely be of one mind. But that people are different from each other is
apparent; and the differences among them are because of the differences
in the quality and the number of their Souls.'
'And it is better to have many Souls than a few?' 'It is better.'
'And the man having but one Soul is a being imperfect?'
'Yet a man very imperfect might have had an ancestor perfect?'
'That is true.'
'So that a man of to-day possessing but one Soul may have had an
ancestor with nine Souls?'
'Then what has become of those other eight Souls which the ancestor
possessed, but which the descendant is without?'
'Ah! that is the work of the gods. The gods alone fix the number of
Souls for each of us. To the worthy are many given; to the unworthy
'Not from the parents, then, do the Souls descend?'
'Nay! Most ancient the Souls are: innumerable, the years of them.'
'And this I desire to know: Can a man separate his Souls? Can he, for
instance, have one Soul in Kyoto and one in Tokyo and one in Matsue, all
at the same time?'
'He cannot; they remain always together.'
'How? One within the other - like the little lacquered boxes of an inro?'
'Nay: that none but the gods know.'
'And the Souls are never separated?'
'Sometimes they may be separated. But if the Souls of a man be
separated, that man becomes mad. Mad people are those who have lost one
of their Souls.'
'But after death what becomes of the Souls?'
'They remain still together. . . . When a man dies his Souls ascend to
the roof of the house. And they stay upon the roof for the space of nine
and forty days.'
'On what part of the roof?'
'On the yane-no-mune - upon the Ridge of the Roof they stay.'
'Can they be seen?'
'Nay: they are like the air is. To and fro upon the Ridge of the Roof
they move, like a little wind.'
'Why do they not stay upon the roof for fifty days instead of forty-
'Seven weeks is the time allotted them before they must depart: seven
weeks make the measure of forty-nine days. But why this should be, I
I was not unaware of the ancient belief that the spirit of a dead man
haunts for a time the roof of his dwelling, because it is referred to
quite impressively in many Japanese dramas, among others in the play
called Kagami-yama, which makes the people weep. But I had not before
heard of triplex and quadruplex and other yet more highly complex Souls;
and I questioned Kinjuro vainly in the hope of learning the authority
for his beliefs. They were the beliefs of his fathers: that was all he
Like most Izumo folk, Kinjuro was a Buddhist as well as a Shintoist. As
the former he belonged to the Zen-shu, as the latter to the Izumo-
Taisha. Yet his ontology seemed to me not of either. Buddhism does not
teach the doctrine of compound-multiple Souls. There are old Shinto
books inaccessible to the multitude which speak of a doctrine very
remotely akin to Kinjuro's; but Kinjuro had never seen them. Those books
say that each of us has two souls - the Ara-tama or Rough Soul, which is
vindictive; and the Nigi-tama, or Gentle Soul, which is all-forgiving.
Furthermore, we are all possessed by the spirit of Oho-maga-tsu-hi-no-
Kami, the 'Wondrous Deity of Exceeding Great Evils'; also by the spirit
of Oho-naho-bi-no-Kami, the 'Wondrous Great Rectifying Deity,' a
counteracting influence. These were not exactly the ideas of Kinjuro.
But I remembered something Hirata wrote which reminded me of Kinjuro's
words about a possible separation of souls. Hirata's teaching was that
the ara-tama of a man may leave his body, assume his shape, and without
his knowledge destroy a hated enemy. So I asked Kinjuro about it. He
said he had never heard of a nigi-tama or an ara-tama; but he told me
'Master, when a man has been discovered by his wife to be secretly
enamoured of another, it sometimes happens that the guilty woman is
seized with a sickness that no physician can cure. For one of the Souls
of the wife, moved exceedingly by anger, passes into the body of that
woman to destroy her. But the wife also sickens, or loses her mind
awhile, because of the absence of her Soul.
'And there is another and more wonderful thing known to us of Nippon,
which you, being of the West, may never have heard. By the power of the
gods, for a righteous purpose, sometimes a Soul may be withdrawn a
little while from its body, and be made to utter its most secret
thought. But no suffering to the body is then caused. And the wonder is
wrought in this wise:
'A man loves a beautiful girl whom he is at liberty to marry; but he
doubts whether he can hope to make her love him in return. He seeks the
kannushi of a certain Shinto temple,  and tells of his doubt, and
asks the aid of the gods to solve it. Then the priests demand, not his
name, but his age and the year and day and hour of his birth, which they
write down for the gods to know; and they bid the man return to the
temple after the space of seven days.
'And during those seven days the priests offer prayer to the gods that
the doubt may be solved; and one of them each morning bathes all his
body in cold, pure water, and at each repast eats only food prepared
with holy fire. And on the eighth day the man returns to the temple, and
enters an inner chamber where the priests receive him.
'A ceremony is performed, and certain prayers are said, after which all
wait in silence. And then, the priest who has performed the rites of
purification suddenly begins to tremble violently in all his body, like
one trembling with a great fever. And this is because, by the power of
the gods, the Soul of the girl whose love is doubted has entered, all
fearfully, into the body of that priest. She does not know; for at that
time, wherever she may be, she is in a deep sleep from which nothing can
arouse her. But her Soul, having been summoned into the body of the
priest, can speak nothing save the truth; and It is made to tell all
Its thought. And the priest speaks not with his own voice, but with the
voice of the Soul; and he speaks in the person of the Soul, saying: "I
love," or "I hate," according as the truth may be, and in the language
of women. If there be hate, then the reason of the hate is spoken; but
if the answer be of love, there is little to say. And then the trembling
of the priest stops, for the Soul passes from him; and he falls forward
upon his face like one dead, and long so - remains.
'Tell me, Kinjuro,' I asked, after all these queer things had been
related to me, 'have you yourself ever known of a Soul being removed by
the power of the gods, and placed in the heart of a priest?'
'Yes: I myself have known it.'
I remained silent and waited. The old man emptied his little pipe, threw
it down beside the hibachi, folded his hands, and looked at the lotus-
flowers for some time before he spoke again. Then he smiled and said:
'Master, I married when I was very young. For many years we had no
children: then my wife at last gave me a son, and became a Buddha. But
my son lived and grew up handsome and strong; and when the Revolution
came, he joined the armies of the Son of Heaven; and he died the death
of a man in the great war of the South, in Kyushu. I loved him; and I
wept with joy when I heard that he had been able to die for our Sacred
Emperor: since there is no more noble death for the son of a samurai. So
they buried my boy far away from me in Kyushu, upon a hill near
Kumamoto, which is a famous city with a strong garrison; and I went
there to make his tomb beautiful. But his name is here also, in
Ninomaru, graven on the monument to the men of Izumo who fell in the
good fight for loyalty and honour in our emperor's holy cause; and when
I see his name there, my heart laughs, and I speak to him, and then it
seems as if he were walking beside me again, under the great pines. . .
But all that is another matter.
'I sorrowed for my wife. All the years we had dwelt together no unkind
word had ever been uttered between us. And when she died, I thought
never to marry again. But after two more years had passed, my father and
mother desired a daughter in the house, and they told me of their wish,
and of a girl who was beautiful and of good family, though poor. The
family were of our kindred, and the girl was their only support: she
wove garments of silk and garments of cotton, and for this she received
but little money. And because she was filial and comely, and our kindred
not fortunate, my parents desired that I should marry her and help her
people; for in those days we had a small income of rice. Then, being
accustomed to obey my parents, I suffered them to do what they thought
best. So the nakodo was summoned, and the arrangements for the wedding
'Twice I was able to see the girl in the house of her parents. And I
thought myself fortunate the first time I looked upon her; for she was
very comely and young. But the second time, I perceived she had been
weeping, and that her eyes avoided mine. Then my heart sank; for I
thought: She dislikes me; and they are forcing her to this thing. Then I
resolved to question the gods; and I caused the marriage to be delayed;
and I went to the temple of Yanagi-no-Inari-Sama, which is in the Street
'And when the trembling came upon him, the priest, speaking with the
Soul of that maid, declared to me: "My heart hates you, and the sight of
your face gives me sickness, because I love another, and because this
marriage is forced upon me. Yet though my heart hates you, I must marry
you because my parents are poor and old, and I alone cannot long
continue to support them, for my work is killing me. But though I may
strive to be a dutiful wife, there never will be gladness in your house
because of me; for my heart hates you with a great and lasting hate; and
the sound of your voice makes a sickness in my breast (koe kiite mo mune
ga waruku naru); and only to see your face makes me wish that I were
dead (kao miru to shinitaku naru)."
'Thus knowing the truth, I told it to my parents; and I wrote a letter
of kind words to the maid, praying pardon for the pain I had unknowingly
caused her; and I feigned long illness, that the marriage might be
broken off without gossip; and we made a gift to that family; and the
maid was glad. For she was enabled at a later time to marry the young
man she loved. My parents never pressed me again to take a wife; and
since their death I have lived alone. . . . O Master, look upon the
extreme wickedness of that boy!'
Taking advantage of our conversation, Kinjuro's young assistant had
improvised a rod and line with a bamboo stick and a bit of string; and
had fastened to the end of the string a pellet of tobacco stolen from
the old man's pouch. With this bait he had been fishing in the lotus
pond; and a frog had swallowed it, and was now suspended high above the
pebbles, sprawling in rotary motion, kicking in frantic spasms of
disgust and despair. 'Kaji!' shouted the gardener.
The boy dropped his rod with a laugh, and ran to us unabashed; while the
frog, having disgorged the tobacco, plopped back into the lotus pond.
Evidently Kaji was not afraid of scoldings.
'Gosho ga waruil' declared the old man, shaking his ivory head. 'O Kaji,
much I fear that your next birth will be bad! Do I buy tobacco for
frogs? Master, said I not rightly this boy has but one Soul?'
CHAPTER TEN Of Ghosts and Goblins
THERE was a Buddha, according to the Hokkekyo who 'even assumed the
shape of a goblin to preach to such as were to be converted by a
goblin.' And in the same Sutra may be found this promise of the Teacher:
'While he is dwelling lonely in the wilderness, I will send thither
goblins in great number to keep him company.' The appalling character
of this promise is indeed somewhat modified by the assurance that gods
also are to be sent. But if ever I become a holy man, I shall take heed
not to dwell in the wilderness, because I have seen Japanese goblins,
and I do not like them.
Kinjuro showed them to me last night. They had come to town for the
matsuri of our own ujigami, or parish-temple; and, as there were many
curious things to be seen at the night festival, we started for the
temple after dark, Kinjuro carrying a paper lantern painted with my
It had snowed heavily in the morning; but now the sky and the sharp
still air were clear as diamond; and the crisp snow made a pleasant
crunching sound under our feet as we walked; and it occurred to me to
say: 'O Kinjuro, is there a God of Snow?'
'I cannot tell,' replied Kinjuro. 'There be many gods I do not know; and
there is not any man who knows the names of all the gods. But there is
the Yuki-Onna, the Woman of the Snow.'
'And what is the Yuki-Onna?'
'She is the White One that makes the Faces in the snow. She does not any
harm, only makes afraid. By day she lifts only her head, and frightens
those who journey alone. But at night she rises up sometimes, taller
than the trees, and looks about a little while, and then falls back in a
shower of snow.' 
'What is her face like?'
'It is all white, white. It is an enormous face. And it is a lonesome
[The word Kinjuro used was samushii. Its common meaning is 'lonesome';
but he used it, I think, in the sense of 'weird.']
'Did you ever see her, Kinjuro?'
'Master, I never saw her. But my father told me that once when he was a
child, he wanted to go to a neighbour's house through the snow to play
with another little boy; and that on the way he saw a great white Face
rise up from the snow and look lonesomely about, so that he cried for
fear and ran back. Then his people all went out and looked; but there
was only snow; and then they knew that he had seen the Yuki-Onna.'