'And in these days, Kinjuro, do people ever see her?'
'Yes. Those who make the pilgrimage to Yabumura, in the period called
Dai-Kan, which is the Time of the Greatest Cold,  they sometimes see
'What is there at Yabumura, Kinjuro?'
'There is the Yabu-jinja, which is an ancient and famous temple of Yabu-
no-Tenno-San - the God of Colds, Kaze-no-Kami. It is high upon a hill,
nearly nine ri from Matsue. And the great matsuri of that temple is held
upon the tenth and eleventh days of the Second Month. And on those days
strange things may be seen. For one who gets a very bad cold prays to
the deity of Yabu-jinja to cure it, and takes a vow to make a pilgrimage
naked to the temple at the time of the matsuri.'
'Yes: the pilgrims wear only waraji, and a little cloth round their
loins. And a great many men and women go naked through the snow to the
temple, though the snow is deep at that time. And each man carries a
bunch of gohei and a naked sword as gifts to the temple; and each woman
carries a metal mirror. And at the temple, the priests receive them,
performing curious rites. For the priests then, according to ancient
custom, attire themselves like sick men, and lie down and groan, and
drink, potions made of herbs, prepared after the Chinese manner.'
'But do not some of the pilgrims die of cold, Kinjuro?'
'No: our Izumo peasants are hardy. Besides, they run swiftly, so that
they reach the temple all warm. And before returning they put on thick
warm robes. But sometimes, upon the way, they see the Yuki-Onna.'
Each side of the street leading to the miya was illuminated with a line
of paper lanterns bearing holy symbols; and the immense court of the
temple had been transformed into a town of booths, and shops, and
temporary theatres. In spite of the cold, the crowd was prodigious.
There seemed to be all the usual attractions of a matsuri, and a number
of unusual ones. Among the familiar lures, I missed at this festival
only the maiden wearing an obi of living snakes; probably it had become
too cold for the snakes. There were several fortune-tellers and
jugglers; there were acrobats and dancers; there was a man making
pictures out of sand; and there was a menagerie containing an emu from
Australia, and a couple of enormous bats from the Loo Choo Islands - bats
trained to do several things. I did reverence to the gods, and bought
some extraordinary toys; and then we went to look for the goblins. They
were domiciled in a large permanent structure, rented to showmen on
Gigantic characters signifying 'IKI-NINGYO,' painted upon the signboard
at the entrance, partly hinted the nature of the exhibition. Iki-ningyo
('living images') somewhat correspond to our Occidental 'wax figures';
but the equally realistic Japanese creations are made of much cheaper
material. Having bought two wooden tickets for one sen each, we entered,
and passed behind a curtain to find ourselves in a long corridor lined
with booths, or rather matted compartments, about the size of small
rooms. Each space, decorated with scenery appropriate to the subject,
was occupied by a group of life-size figures. The group nearest the
entrance, representing two men playing samisen and two geisha dancing,
seemed to me without excuse for being, until Kinjuro had translated a
little placard before it, announcing that one of the figures was a
living person. We watched in vain for a wink or palpitation. Suddenly
one of the musicians laughed aloud, shook his head, and began to play
and sing. The deception was perfect.
The remaining groups, twenty-four in number, were powerfully impressive
in their peculiar way, representing mostly famous popular traditions or
sacred myths. Feudal heroisms, the memory of which stirs every Japanese
heart; legends of filial piety; Buddhist miracles, and stories of
emperors were among the subjects. Sometimes, however, the realism was
brutal, as in one scene representing the body of a woman lying in a pool
of blood, with brains scattered by a sword stroke. Nor was this
unpleasantness altogether atoned for by her miraculous resuscitation in
the adjoining compartment, where she reappeared returning thanks in a
Nichiren temple, and converting her slaughterer, who happened, by some
extraordinary accident, to go there at the same time.
At the termination of the corridor there hung a black curtain behind
which screams could be heard. And above the black curtain was a placard
inscribed with the promise of a gift to anybody able to traverse the
mysteries beyond without being frightened.
'Master,' said Kinjuro, 'the goblins are inside.'
We lifted the veil, and found ourselves in a sort of lane between
hedges, and behind the hedges we saw tombs; we were in a graveyard.
There were real weeds and trees, and sotoba and haka, and the effect was
quite natural. Moreover, as the roof was very lofty, and kept invisible
by a clever arrangement of lights, all seemed darkness only; and this
gave one a sense of being out under the night, a feeling accentuated by
the chill of the air. And here and there we could discern sinister
shapes, mostly of superhuman stature, some seeming to wait in dim
places, others floating above the graves. Quite near us, towering above
the hedge on our right, was a Buddhist priest, with his back turned to
'A yamabushi, an exorciser?' I queried of Kinjuro.
'No,' said Kinjuro; 'see how tall he is. I think that must be a Tanuki-
The Tanuki-Bozu is the priestly form assumed by the goblin-badger
(tanuki) for the purpose of decoying belated travellers to destruction.
We went on, and looked up into his face. It was a nightmare - his face.
'In truth a Tanuki-Bozu,' said Kinjuro. 'What does the Master honourably
think concerning it?'
Instead of replying, I jumped back; for the monstrous thing had suddenly
reached over the hedge and clutched at me, with a moan. Then it fell
back, swaying and creaking. It was moved by invisible strings.
'I think, Kinjuro, that it is a nasty, horrid thing. . . . But I shall
not claim the present.'
We laughed, and proceeded to consider a Three-Eyed Friar (Mitsu-me-
Nyudo). The Three-Eyed Friar also watches for the unwary at night. His
face is soft and smiling as the face of a Buddha, but he has a hideous
eye in the summit of his shaven pate, which can only be seen when seeing
it does no good. The Mitsu-me-Nyudo made a grab at Kinjuro, and startled
him almost as much as the Tanuki-Bozu had startled me.
Then we looked at the Yama-Uba - the 'Mountain Nurse.' She catches little
children and nurses them for a while, and then devours them. In her face
she has no mouth; but she has a mouth in the top of her head, under her
hair. The YamaUba did not clutch at us, because her hands were occupied
with a nice little boy, whom she was just going to eat. The child had
been made wonderfully pretty to heighten the effect.
Then I saw the spectre of a woman hovering in the air above a tomb at
some distance, so that I felt safer in observing it. It had no eyes; its
long hair hung loose; its white robe floated light as smoke. I thought
of a statement in a composition by one of my pupils about ghosts: 'Their
greatest Peculiarity is that They have no feet.' Then I jumped again,
for the thing, quite soundlessly but very swiftly, made through the air
And the rest of our journey among the graves was little more than a
succession of like experiences; but it was made amusing by the screams
of women, and bursts of laughter from people who lingered only to watch
the effect upon others of what had scared themselves.
Forsaking the goblins, we visited a little open-air theatre to see two
girls dance. After they had danced awhile, one girl produced a sword and
cut off the other girl's head, and put it upon a table, where it opened
its mouth and began to sing. All this was very prettily done; but my
mind was still haunted by the goblins. So I questioned Kinjuro:
'Kinjuro, those goblins of which we the ningyo have seen - do folk
believe in the reality, thereof?'
'Not any more,' answered Kinjuro - 'not at least among the people of the
city. Perhaps in the country it may not be so. We believe in the Lord
Buddha; we believe in the ancient gods; and there be many who believe
the dead sometimes return to avenge a cruelty or to compel an act of
justice. But we do not now believe all that was believed in ancient
time. . . .Master,' he added, as we reached another queer exhibition,
'it is only one sen to go to hell, if the Master would like to go - 'Very
good, Kinjuro,' I made reply. 'Pay two sen that we may both go to hell.'
And we passed behind a curtain into a big room full of curious clicking
and squeaking noises. These noises were made by unseen wheels and
pulleys moving a multitude of ningyo upon a broad shelf about breast-
high, which surrounded the apartment upon three sides. These ningyo were
not ikiningyo, but very small images - puppets. They represented all
things in the Under-World.
The first I saw was Sozu-Baba, the Old Woman of the River of Ghosts, who
takes away the garments of Souls. The garments were hanging upon a tree
behind her. She was tall; she rolled her green eyes and gnashed her long
teeth, while the shivering of the little white souls before her was as a
trembling of butterflies. Farther on appeared Emma Dai-O, great King of
Hell, nodding grimly. At his right hand, upon their tripod, the heads of
Kaguhana and Mirume, the Witnesses, whirled as upon a wheel. At his
left, a devil was busy sawing a Soul in two; and I noticed that he used
his saw like a Japanese carpenter - pulling it towards him instead of
pushing it. And then various exhibitions of the tortures of the damned.
A liar bound to a post was having his tongue pulled out by a devil -
slowly, with artistic jerks; it was already longer than the owner's
body. Another devil was pounding another Soul in a mortar so vigorously
that the sound of the braying could be heard above all the din of the
machinery. A little farther on was a man being eaten alive by two
serpents having women's faces; one serpent was white, the other blue.
The white had been his wife, the blue his concubine. All the tortures
known to medieval Japan were being elsewhere deftly practised by swarms
of devils. After reviewing them, we visited the Sai-no-Kawara, and saw
Jizo with a child in his arms, and a circle of other children running
swiftly around him, to escape from demons who brandished their clubs and
ground their teeth.
Hell proved, however, to be extremely cold; and while meditating on the
partial inappropriateness of the atmosphere, it occurred to me that in
the common Buddhist picture-books of the Jigoku I had never noticed any
illustrations of torment by cold. Indian Buddhism, indeed, teaches the
existence of cold hells. There is one, for instance, where people's lips
are frozen so that they can say only 'Ah-ta-ta!' - wherefore that hell is
called Atata. And there is the hell where tongues are frozen, and where
people say only 'Ah-baba!' for which reason it is called Ababa. And
there is the Pundarika, or Great White-Lotus hell, where the spectacle
of the bones laid bare by the cold is 'like a blossoming of white lotus-
flowers.' Kinjuro thinks there are cold hells according to Japanese
Buddhism; but he is not sure. And I am not sure that the idea of cold
could be made very terrible to the Japanese. They confess a general
liking for cold, and compose Chinese poems about the loveliness of ice
Out of hell, we found our way to a magic-lantern show being given in a
larger and even much colder structure. A Japanese magic-lantern show is
nearly always interesting in more particulars than one, but perhaps
especially as evidencing the native genius for adapting Western
inventions to Eastern tastes. A Japanese magic-lantern show is
essentially dramatic. It is a play of which the dialogue is uttered by
invisible personages, the actors and the scenery being only luminous
shadows. 'Wherefore it is peculiarly well suited to goblinries and
weirdnesses of all kinds; and plays in which ghosts figure are the
favourite subjects. As the hall was bitterly cold, I waited only long
enough to see one performance - of which the following is an epitome:
SCENE 1. - A beautiful peasant girl and her aged mother, squatting
together at home. Mother weeps violently, gesticulates agonisingly. From
her frantic speech, broken by wild sobs, we learn that the girl must be
sent as a victim to the Kami-Sama of some lonesome temple in the
mountains. That god is a bad god. Once a year he shoots an arrow into
the thatch of some farmer's house as a sign that he wants a girl - to
eat! Unless the girl be sent to him at once, he destroys the crops and
the cows. Exit mother, weeping and shrieking, and pulling out her grey
hair. Exit girl, with downcast head, and air of sweet resignation.
SCENE II. - Before a wayside inn; cherry-trees in blossom. Enter coolies
carrying, like a palanquin, a large box, in which the girl is supposed
to be. Deposit box; enter to eat; tell story to loquacious landlord.
Enter noble samurai, with two swords. Asks about box. Hears the story of
the coolies repeated by loquacious landlord. Exhibits fierce
indignation; vows that the Kami-Sama are good - do not eat girls.
Declares that so-called Kami-Sama to be a devil. Observes that devils
must be killed. Orders box opened. Sends girl home. Gets into box
himself, and commands coolies under pain of death to bear him right
quickly to that temple.
SCENE III. - Enter coolies, approaching temple through forest at night.
Coolies afraid. Drop box and run. Exeunt coolies. Box alone in the dark.
Enter veiled figure, all white. Figure moans unpleasantly; utters horrid
cries. Box remains impassive. Figure removes veil, showing Its face - a
skull with phosphoric eyes. [Audience unanimously utter the sound
'Aaaaaa!'] Figure displays Its hands - monstrous and apish, with claws.
[Audience utter a second 'Aaaaaa!'] Figure approaches the box, touches
the box, opens the box! Up leaps noble samurai. A wrestle; drums sound
the roll of battle. Noble samurai practises successfully noble art of
ju-jutsu. Casts demon down, tramples upon him triumphantly, cuts off his
head. Head suddenly enlarges, grows to the size of a house, tries to
bite off head of samurai. Samurai slashes it with his sword. Head rolls
backward, spitting fire, and vanishes. Finis. Exeunt omnes.
The vision of the samurai and the goblin reminded Kinjuro of a queer
tale, which he began to tell me as soon as the shadow-play was over.
Ghastly stories are apt to fall flat after such an exhibition; but
Kinjuro's stories are always peculiar enough to justify the telling
under almost any circumstances. Wherefore I listened eagerly, in spite
of the cold:
'A long time ago, in the days when Fox-women and goblins haunted this
land, there came to the capital with her parents a samurai girl, so
beautiful that all men who saw her fell enamoured of her. And hundreds
of young samurai desired and hoped to marry her, and made their desire
known to her parents. For it has ever been the custom in Japan that
marriages should be arranged by parents. But there are exceptions to all
customs, and the case of this maiden was such an exception. Her parents
declared that they intended to allow their daughter to choose her own
husband, and that all who wished to win her would be free to woo her.
'Many men of high rank and of great wealth were admitted to the house as
suitors; and each one courted her as he best knew how - with gifts, and
with fair words, and with poems written in her honour, and with promises
of eternal love. And to each one she spoke sweetly and hopefully; but
she made strange conditions. For every suitor she obliged to bind
himself by his word of honour as a samurai to submit to a test of his
love for her, and never to divulge to living person what that test might
be. And to this all agreed.
'But even the most confident suitors suddenly ceased their importunities
after having been put to the test; and all of them appeared to have been
greatly terrified by something. Indeed, not a few even fled away from
the city, and could not be persuaded by their friends to return. But no
one ever so much as hinted why. Therefore it was whispered by those who
knew nothing of the mystery, that the beautiful girl must be either a
Fox-woman or a goblin.
'Now, when all the wooers of high rank had abandoned their suit, there
came a samurai who had no wealth but his sword. He was a good man and
true, and of pleasing presence; and the girl seemed to like him. But she
made him take the same pledge which the others had taken; and after he
had taken it, she told him to return upon a certain evening.
'When that evening came, he was received at the house by none but the
girl herself. With her own hands she set before him the repast of
hospitality, and waited upon him, after which she told him that she
wished him to go out with her at a late hour. To this he consented
gladly, and inquired to what place she desired to go. But she replied
nothing to his question, and all at once became very silent, and strange
in her manner. And after a while she retired from the apartment, leaving
'Only long after midnight she returned, robed all in white - like a Soul
- and, without uttering a word, signed to him to follow her. Out of the
house they hastened while all the city slept. It was what is called an
oborozuki-yo - 'moon-clouded night.' Always upon such a night, 'tis said,
do ghosts wander. She swiftly led the way; and the dogs howled as she
flitted by; and she passed beyond the confines of the city to a place of
knolls shadowed by enormous trees, where an ancient cemetery was. Into
it she glided - a white shadow into blackness. He followed, wondering,
his hand upon his sword. Then his eyes became accustomed to the gloom;
and he saw.
'By a new-made grave she paused and signed to him to wait. The tools of
the grave-maker were still lying there. Seizing one, she began to dig
furiously, with strange haste and strength. At last her spade smote a
coffin-lid and made it boom: another moment and the fresh white wood of
the kwan was bare. She tore off the lid, revealing a corpse within - the
corpse of a child. With goblin gestures she wrung an arm from the body,
wrenched it in twain, and, squatting down, began to devour the upper
half. Then, flinging to her lover the other half, she cried to him,
"Eat, if thou lovest mel this is what I eat!" 'Not even for a single
instant did he hesitate. He squatted down upon the other side of the
grave, and ate the half of the arm, and said, "Kekko degozarimasu! mo
sukoshi chodai."  For that arm was made of the best kwashi  that
Saikyo could produce.
'Then the girl sprang to her feet with a burst of laughter, and cried:
"You only, of all my brave suitors, did not run away! And I wanted a
husband: who could not fear. I will marry you; I can love you: you are a
'O Kinjuro,' I said, as we took our way home, 'I have heard and I have
read many Japanese stories of the returning of the dead. Likewise you
yourself have told me it is still believed the dead return, and why. But
according both to that which I have read and that which you have told
me, the coming back of the dead is never a thing to be desired. They
return because of hate, or because of envy, or because they cannot rest
for sorrow. But of any who return for that which is not evil - where is
it written? Surely the common history of them is like that which we have
this night seen: much that is horrible and much that is wicked and
nothing of that which is beautiful or true.'
Now this I said that I might tempt him. And he made even the answer I
desired, by uttering the story which is hereafter set down:
'Long ago, in the days of a daimyo whose name has been forgotten, there
lived in this old city a young man and a maid who loved each other very
much. Their names are not remembered, but their story remains. From
infancy they had been betrothed; and as children they played together,
for their parents were neighbours. And as they grew up, they became
always fonder of each other.
'Before the youth had become a man, his parents died. But he was able to
enter the service of a rich samurai, an officer of high rank, who had
been a friend of his people. And his protector soon took him into great
favour, seeing him to be courteous, intelligent, and apt at arms. So the
young man hoped to find himself shortly in a position that would make it
possible for him to marry his betrothed. But war broke out in the north
and east; and he was summoned suddenly to follow his master to the
field. Before departing, however, he was able to see the girl; and they
exchanged pledges in the presence of her parents; and he promised,
should he remain alive, to return within a year from that day to marry
'After his going much time passed without news of him, for there was no
post in that time as now; and the girl grieved so much for thinking of
the chances of war that she became all white and thin and weak. Then at
last she heard of him through a messenger sent from the army to bear
news to the daimyo and once again a letter was brought to her by another
messenger. And thereafter there came no word. Long is a year to one who
waits. And the year passed, and he did not return.
'Other seasons passed, and still he did not come; and she thought him
dead; and she sickened and lay down, and died, and was buried. Then her
old parents, who had no other child, grieved unspeakably, and came to
hate their home for the lonesomeness of it. After a time they resolved
to sell all they had, and to set out upon a sengaji - the great
pilgrimage to the Thousand Temples of the Nichiren-Shu, which requires
many years to perform. So they sold their small house with all that it
contained, excepting the ancestral tablets, and the holy things which
must never be sold, and the ihai of their buried daughter, which were
placed, according to the custom of those about to leave their native
place, in the family temple. Now the family was of the Nichiren-Shu; and
their temple was Myokoji.
'They had been gone only four days when the young man who had been
betrothed to their daughter returned to the city. He had attempted, with
the permission of his master, to fulfil his promise. But the provinces
upon his way were full of war, and the roads and passes were guarded by
troops, and he had been long delayed by many difficulties. And when he
heard of his misfortune he sickened for grief, and many days remained
without knowledge of anything, like one about to die.
'But when he began to recover his strength, all the pain of memory came
back again; and he regretted that he had not died. Then he resolved to
kill himself upon the grave of his betrothed; and, as soon as he was
able to go out unobserved, he took his sword and went to the cemetery
where the girl was buried: it is a lonesome place - the cemetery of
Myokoji. There he found her tomb, and knelt before it, and prayed and
wept, and whispered to her that which he was about to do. And suddenly
he heard her voice cry to him: "Anata!" and felt her hand upon his hand;
and he turned, and saw her kneeling beside him, smiling, and beautiful
as he remembered her, only a little pale. Then his heart leaped so that
he could not speak for the wonder and the doubt and the joy of that
moment. But she said: "Do not doubt: it is really I. I am not dead. It
was all a mistake. I was buried, because my people thought me dead -
buried too soon. And my own parents thought me dead, and went upon a
pilgrimage. Yet you see, I am not dead - not a ghost. It is I: do not
doubt it! And I have seen your heart, and that was worth all the
waiting, and the pain.. . But now let us go away at once to another
city, so that people may not know this thing and trouble us; for all
still believe me dead."
'And they went away, no one observing them. And they went even to the
village of Minobu, which is in the province of Kai. For there is a
famous temple of the Nichiren-Shu in that place; and the girl had said:
"I know that in the course of their pilgrimage my parents will surely
visit Minobu: so that if we dwell there, they will find us, and we shall
be all again together." And when they came to Minobu, she said: "Let us
open a little shop." And they opened a little food-shop, on the wide way
leading to the holy place; and there they sold cakes for children, and
toys, and food for pilgrims. For two years they so lived and prospered;