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The Legendary Genesis ofi Japan, and the National Spirit . i


The Religion of Japan, and the Conflict of Faiths . . 25


Buddhist and Shinto Temples, and Ancient Shrines . . 44


The Japanese Home and some Social Customs .... 60

Concerning Japanese Babies, Girls and Women . . . . 84 >

Festivals, Quaint, Pathetic, and Beautiful * . . . 104


The Life of the Cities, and some Types * . . . .134 '•






The Life of the Country Folk and their Occupations . . 156 ^


Upon Greetings, Language, and some Things which are dif-
ferent in Japan 168 "'


Concerning Japanese Gardens Old and New, Flowers, and

some Inhabitants 194


The Art and Art Instincts of the Japanese Race . . .218

Some Superstitions, Legends, and Stories of Japan . . .244


The Life and Commerce, Past and Present, of the Treaty
, Ports. Some Modern Tendencies, and the Future of
Japan 265


On the Shore of the Inland Sea the Fisher Women gather
Shell-fish .

And then sometimes even in Japan the Mist comes and
obliterates the distant Landscape

A Jutting, Tree-clad Point along the Coast

A Little Shrine set amid a wealth of Green

To these Temples come a succession of Worshippers

A Tor ii by the side of some Hill-environed Lake

A Lovely Spot from which beautiful^ dominating Fuji-Hama
can be seen .......

A Torii often merely marks a beautiful spot, and does not
necessarily lead to a Shrine . . .

A Pagoda which has stood a thousand years

Up the grey y lichen-stained Steps to the Temple Gate .

A Picturesque Home by a lonely Shore

A Japanese Well . . . .

The Japanese Girl learns to play some Musical Instrument

Babies are carried on the Backs of Sisters or little Nurse
maids ........

Baby often explores the Greensward of the Park or Garden

A Dainty Figure standing by some calm Lake


acing p.
























» .




? acing p.








An Idyll

The Streets of almost every Town are wonderfully decorated .

On such a Canal as this the tiny Ships (at Bommatsuri) are
launched and sent on their voyage to the Sea

A Village Street at Festival Time

// is a very orderly Crowd which makes its way homeward

from the Temple ,,139

In Yokohama there is a strange blending of the Old with the
New, But the Picturesque still abounds by the Water-
side n »44

A Japanese Masseur , who is frequently blind . . . „ 146

The Steps of the Temples of the large Towns are worn by the

footsteps of many Generations . . ... . „ 150

One of the finest Gates in Japan „ 155

The Japanese Dances performed by the Geisha are singularly

graceful „ 159

A Village of Farmers near Kyoto . . . . . „ 161

A typical Japanese Village by Moonlight . . . . „ 1 62

Winter in the Country ,,164

Women often stand all day long up to their Knees in Mud

. . . planting the Rice „ 1 66

An exquisite Valley leading into the mysterious Hills . . „ 171

The Inland Sea, so often painted in bright though soft colours,

has its grey days , . . . . . , » I 73

A stretch of Shore which often forms a beautiful natural

Promenade . . . . . . , . » 175

The exquisite entrance to Nagasaki Harbour, narrow and

Tree-clad „ 176


A Garden in which each Flower is carefully and lovingly

tended ......... Facing p. 1 93

A secluded Garden by a River Bank . . . . ,,198

" In the Ponds . . . glow with many shades of pink to blue-
purple, blue to grey, and mauve to purest white, the

messengers between the gods and men " . . . „ 203

" Then there are the scarlet, pink, and white Azaleas . . .

which glint at one on the hill-sides amidst the trees ..." „ 210

A peaceful Corner on a placid Lake . . . . . „ 223

A Flower Festival, which is usually a Japanese "Bank

Holiday" „ 230

A Meal simply and daintily served . . . . . „ 235

A Moonlight Scene, the simple and decorative beauty of which
type of subject has appealed to succeeding generations of

Japanese artists ........ 240

Summer-time in Japan . . . . . . „ 246

A Japanese Fishing-fleet in the Inland Sea . . . „ 25 1

A Fishing Village on the Sea-coast, Hommoku . . . „ 257

Irises by the Lake ......... 262

A Corner of one of the old-time Treaty Ports „ 267

A glimpse of the Coast off Kobe . . . . . ,,270

A Kurumaya eating his Dinner, and wearing a Rain Coat . „ 278

Spring-time in Japan , . . . . . . ,,283




A ROUND the genesis of the fascinating and beau-
f\ tiful land of Japan hangs a web of mythological
/ \ tradition which is not easy of unravelment.
JT ^ That Japan was the first created portion of the
world is clear — to the Japanese ; but how, or
when the rest of the work of creation was accomplished,
forms no part of the tradition, nor is there any plain indi-
cation in early Japanese history or mythology.

The earliest known account of the birth of the Island
Empire of the East dates from about the year a.d. 712,
when the oldest book of Japanese history, commenced at
the command of the Emperor Temmu and finished under
the direction of the Empress Gemmyo, was presented to
her Court under the title of Ro-ji-ki, or the Records of
Ancient Matters. It was undoubtedly founded almost
entirely upon oral tradition, which, as the art of writing
and printing was not known in Japan till a.d. 284, was
the only means of preserving and handing down the many
traditions, mythological and otherwise, in which were en-
shrined the early history of the country. It need not be
pointed out that such a system of perpetuating history is


?/., :$: ; :> old & new japan

at best a very uncertain one, and likely, indeed, to result
in the introduction of much material of no value, and of a
most bewildering and contradictory character. Some idea
of the possible errors which would almost surely creep in,
may be gathered from the fact that for the twenty-five
years during which Ko-ji-ki was in course of compilation,
the traditions and myths which had been laboriously col-
lected were only preserved in the memory of Hiyeda-

Nine years after the completion of these records
of ancient matters, appeared yet another work called
Nihonji, or the Chronicles of Japan, which in a measure
supplements and elucidates the first one. Although the
events recorded in these two important books are in many
cases the same, the latter volume is less purely Japanese
than its forerunner, being more overlaid or coloured by
Chinese philosophy, whilst the myths dealing with the
creation more especially show the influence of the latter.
The first book has been ably translated into English by
Basil Hall Chamberlain ; the other has not been com-
pletely translated. The Japanese themselves hold the
latter in high repute, even though it is probably more
overlaid with the embroidery of myths than the more
purely Japanese Ko-ji-ki.

To these two works chiefly one must look for an
account of the origin of the Empire of Japan and the
Japanese race. But to them may be wisely added the
ancient Japanese (Shinto) Rituals set down in the Yengi-
shiki or Code of Ceremonial Law.

It will be easily gathered from the circumstances to
which we have referred, that all knowledge of the earlier
events of Japanese history, certainly of those anterior to
the ninth century, must be accepted as being founded
exclusively on tradition, and not based upon contemporary
documentary evidence. Into this category must not only


come the whole of the history of what is known as the
Age of the Gods, but also the reigns of the various
emperors from Jimmu to Richu, covering the period
660 B.C. to a.d. 400.

It is by placing reliance upon the two works Ko-ji-ki
and Nihonji, that Japanese scholars and historians have
been able to construct the earlier history of the country
and its people. There is, of course, abounding evidence
that grave discrepancies must have crept into the narrative,
but there must be a sufficiently large substratum of truth
to make their work of fascinating interest.

Under the circumstances there is only one course to
pursue, namely, to accept this earlier history of the race
as tradition pure and simple ; but tradition which has
doubtless a considerable basis of truth.

At the creation three gods, who came into existence
without being created and ultimately died, were in heaven ;
their names were Ame-no-mi-naka-nushi, Kamu-musubi,
and Take-mi-masubi, which freely translated mean the
Master-of-the-August-Centre-of- Heaven, the Divine- Pro-
ducing- Wondrous-Deity, and the High- August- Producing-
Wondrous- Deity. There are but scant traces of these
having been worshipped, and it seems more than probable
that the names were merely descriptive of the sun. Then
several pairs of deities came into existence without creation,
and ultimately died. The first pair, rejoicing in the quaintly
involved but not altogether incomprehensible names of
Pleasant-Reedshoot-Prince-Elder-Deity and Heavenly-
Outside-Standing- Deity, were supposed to have been
born when the earth was yet young, and, according to
the Japanese idea, in an amorphous condition, . from
a thing which grew up like a reed-shoot. The five
deities we have already mentioned were known as the
Heavenly deities, and they were followed by another pair
which also came into existence without creation known


as Eternally-Earthly-Standing-Deity, and Luxuriant-
Making-Entire-Master-Deity. These, with the following
five pairs of deities, were known as the seven generations
of gods : Mud-Earth-Lord and Mud- Earth- Lady ; Germ-
Making-entire-Deity and Life-Making-entire-Deity; Elder-
of-the-Great-Place and Elder- Lady-of-the-Great-Place ;
Perfect - Exterior - Deity and August - Awful - Lady ; and
finally Izanagi and Izanami, or the Male-who-invites and
the Female-who-invites.

It is the last two who are the legendary parents of the
earth, sun, moon, and all living things, and in the Japanese
version of the creation these two are commanded by the
other deities to make and consolidate the earth, which
they found drifting about "like unto floating oil." To
do this they stood on "the floating bridge of heaven"
which spanned the waste of waters, and reaching down
stirred them with a jewelled spear that had been given
them for the purpose.

The drops which fell from the spear, after Izanagi had
dipped it into the brine, coalesced and became an island
called Onogoro or Self-Coagulated-Island, supposed to
have been one of the numerous small islands of the Inland
Sea near Awaji. The legend goes on to say that the
two deities then descended upon the earth and took up
their abode upon the island they had thus created. Here
they begat the other numerous islands which ultimately
were to form the Kingdom of Japan, as well as the gods
of the winds, trees, mountains, and plains, the last two
of whom in turn became the parent stock of the lesser
hills, valleys, and tracts of land. Izanami was also destined
to be the mother in turn of the goddess of food, and of
Kagutsuchi, the god of fire. But in giving birth to the
latter she died, and in the rage of his despair Izanagi
slew the young god. From the drops of blood that clung
to and fell from his sword sprang other deities, of whom

5 H



the most important as regards the ultimate history of
Japan was Take-mika-tzuchi, who ultimately emerges from
the legendary mists as the conqueror of Japan for the
Mikado's ancestors.

After the slaying of the God of Fire Izanagi descended
into the infernal regions in search of his dead wife Izanami,
by a passage on the boundary of Idzumi and Iwami. He
heard the voice of Izanami, who told him from her new
habitation that he must not enter, but that she would try
and persuade the god of Hades to permit her return if
Izanagi would wait for her. Then she vanished, and after-
wards Izanagi, becoming impatient at her non-appearance,
forced his way into Hades, and found her, but as a putre-
fying corpse. Terrified by the horrible sight he fled, pur-
sued by legions of evil spirits, and returned to earth, where
to purify himself he washed in a stream on the island of
Tsukuschi. Whilst performing this act a fresh series of
gods were created, springing into existence out of the
various articles of his clothing as he cast them away.
From his staff sprang a god, from his girdle another,
and so on. Six deities were born from the two bracelets,
one of which he wore on either arm ; in all, twelve from
these and his clothing. All of them were given complicated
but appropriate names.

Izanagi finding, however, the waters in the higher
reach of the stream too rapid, and those of the lower reach
too turgid, he proceeded with his washing in the middle
reach. As he bathed the evil spirits from Hades were
washed away, and other numerous gods were created, all
of whose names it is unnecessary to mention. Afterwards
as he washed below and on the surface of the stream, sea
gods destined to have human descendants were created,
and these were afterwards worshipped at Sumiyoshi, near
Sakai. Then as he washed his right eye a deity was born
whose name was Tsukuyomi-no-Mikoto, or His- August-


Moon- Night- Possessor ; and when he washed his left eye
was born a deity who bore the name of Amaterasu-O Mi-
Kami or Great-August-Deity-who-Shines-from-Heaven.
The last is often called the Sun Goddess. From the
washing of his nose sprang yet another deity, known as
Susano-no-Mikoto or His-Brave-Speedy-Impetuous-Male-
Augustness. This deity is supposed by many to be the
god who influenced the tides, in other words the Moon
God. The loveliness and cleverness of these three last
children so delighted Izanagi's heart that he determined to
bestow upon them high positions. Taking, therefore, his
necklace from off his neck he gave it to the Great- August-
Deity-who-Shines-from- Heaven, or Sun Goddess, saying
to her at the same time, " Have rule in the plains of high
heaven." To the August- Moon-Night-Possessor he gave
the dominion over night. And to His-Brave-Speedy-
Impetuous-Male-Augustness he gave to rule over the
plains of the sea. But the last-named would not assume
the dominion given to him, but wept until his beard had
grown so long that it reached to his waist. Then his
father asked him why he had not assumed dominion over
the sea, and he replied that he preferred to go to his
mother in Hades. This angered Izanagi, who promptly
cast him off.

There are several legends connected with this same
Brave-Speedy-Impetuous-Male-Augustness, one of which
makes him ultimately descend from Heaven on to the
Korean Peninsula, he having first gone to the Heavenly
plains (after expulsion by Izanagi) to pay a visit to his
sister the Sun Goddess. The legend proceeds to say
that from Korea he crossed to Japan, and in this myth
there would appear to be enshrined a fact which is most
probably genuine history. And, indeed, this opinion is
somewhat borne out by the structural resemblance which
exists between the language of Korea and that of Japan.


It was whilst on this visit to his sister that His-Brave-
Speedy-Impetuous-Male-Augustness' sincerity of intention
was put to the test in a somewhat strange fashion by the
Sun Goddess, who was suspicious of him. Taking his
sword from him she broke it in three pieces, which she
crunched in her mouth. Then she spat these pieces out,
which, with her breath, turned into three female deities.
Not to be outdone, His-B rave- Speedy- Impetuous- Male-
Augustness took the various jewels which his sister the
Sun Goddess was wearing, and putting them in his mouth
also crunched them up and blew them out. These, like the
pieces of his own sword, were transformed into deities, only
they were five in number instead of three, and male
instead of female.

The Sun Goddess then claimed that the male deities
which had been produced from her jewels were hers,
and the female which had sprung from the pieces of his
sword were Susanos. This angered His-Brave-Speedy-
Impetuous-Male-Augustness, who argued that he had
won the trial by wager because the children by his
sword were beautiful girls. In his anger he not only
broke down the fences surrounding the Sun Goddess's
rice-fields, defiled her garden, and filled up the water
sluices used to irrigate it, but also committed many dread-
ful excesses, in consequence of which outrageous conduct
the Sun Goddess retired into a cavern, where she sat with
her maidens, and closed the door. This action caused
complete darkness to envelop not only the Heavens but
also the Central-Land-of-the-Reed-Plains. Then, so the
legend goes, there were many strange portents and happen-
ings ; and myriads of deities gathered in the bed of the
tranquil river of Heaven, and besought the child of the
High-August-Producing-Wondrous-Deity to devise a plan
by which the Sun Goddess might be tempted to come out
of the cavern and make the world light again. Then the


gods, in pursuance of the plan agreed upon, took a branch
of Sakaki, 1 the sacred tree of the Shintoists, and planted
it in front of the entrance to the cavern. Upon this they
hung beautiful jewels, strings of precious stones, rolls of
white and blue cloth, and a mirror. Then they gathered
together the farmyard cocks and made them crow, and
the mirthful goddess Ame-mo-uzume-no-Mikoto danced as
did others, and Ame-no-ko-yane-no-Mikoto, the wisest of
all the gods, recited the rituals. Hearing the noise the
Sun Goddess, perhaps overcome by the curiosity of her
sex, cautiously opened the door, and peeping out asked
the reason of the disturbance. The revellers told her it
was because they had found another goddess more beauti-
ful than she ; at the same time they held before her face
the mirror they had made and hung upon the tree.
Astonished at the reflection she stepped out incautiously,
and they hastily shut the door of the cavern behind her.
And thus did the high plain of Heaven, and the Central-
Land-of-the-Reed-Plains, once more become light.

His-Brave-Speedy-Impetuous-Augustness_commits yet
another crime by killing the Goddess of Food, Ogetsu-hime,
and as a punishment is expelled from Heaven. He
descended to earth, and came to the province of Izumo,
where he found an old man who once had had eight
beautiful daughters, one of whom had been each year
devoured by a serpent till but one, called Inada-hime,
remained. The god rescued her by killing the eight-
headed and eight-tailed serpent, which he had made drunk
with sakd, and obtained from one of the tails the wonderful
and mythical sword which, with the mirror the gods had
made to circumvent the Sun Goddess, and the necklace of
precious gems, formed the legendary regalia of the early
Japanese sovereigns. The marvellous sword was ultimately
deposited, and became an object of veneration and worship

1 Cleyerajaponica.


in the temple of Asuta at Miya; the mirror became the
emblem of the Sun Goddess in her great temple at Ise,
and the necklace is preserved in the palace of the Mikado
at Tokio, with replicas of the wonderful sword, named
Kusa-nagi or the Grass Cutter, and the mirror. These
objects form a part of the modern regalia of Japan.

Concerning the five male deities who sprang from the
Sun Goddess's necklace when that jewel was crunched up
and spat out by Susano, it is only necessary to mention
the eldest, who rejoiced in the lengthy name of Masa-ka-
which, literally translated, means His-Augustness-Truly-
Conqueror - 1 - conquer - Conquering - Swift - H eavenly-Great-
Great-Ear. This extraordinary collection of names is a
somewhat exaggerated sample of the use of honorific titles
frequently conferred by the Japanese on their distin-
guished men and women ; many of whom, though appar-
ently deities, were most probably actually human beings.

It was the foregoing lengthily-named deity whom the
Sun Goddess adopted as her favourite and heir, and
ultimately sought to send to earth to take up the sover-
eignty of the beautiful land of Japan. The Sun Goddess's
protdgd y however, discovering that his future kingdom
was in a very unsettled condition, refused to descend to
it, and resigned his claims in favour of his son, whose
mythological name was even longer than that of his
pusillanimous parent. To make the difficult path of
sovereignty easier for this other god, two inferior deities
were sent on in advance, who, on behalf of the Sun
Goddess's grandson, received the submission of a descend-
ant of one of Susano's (the Impetuous-Male-Augustness)
wives, who, with his sons, held sovereignty in Izumo.
Then the Sun Goddess's grandson descended in company
with five distinguished followers, named Futodama, Ischi-
kore-dome, Tamanoya, Ama-tsu-koya-ne, and Uzume-no-


Mikoto, settling on the summit of Mount Takachiho, in

There is a mountain still connected with this legendary
descent in the present island of Kiushiu. It was here,
now the province of Satsuma, and not in the province
of Izumo, the stronghold of the conquered O-kuni-
nushi, that the Sun Goddess's grandson, whose name is
generally shortened to Ninigi-no-Mikoto, established his

The Prince one day subsequently, whilst walking
along the shore, met the beautiful daughter of the God
of Mountains, and promptly fell in love with her. It was
this Ko-no-hana-saku-ya-bime, or the Princess Brilliantly-
Blossoming-like-Flowers-on-the-Trees, that he married,
and by whom he had three sons, Ho-suseri-no- Mikoto,
Ho-deri-no-Mikoto, and Ho-ori-no- Mikoto ; the latter of
whom married, whilst on his travels to the region of the
sea-god, the Princess Toyo-tama-bime. A child was born
to them under romantic, or rather mythical circumstances,
who was nursed by his mother's sister, whom he after-
wards — on growing up — married. The son of this mar-
riage, named Kama-yamato-Iware-biko, is known to
historians as Jimmu Tenno, who became the first Emperor
of Japan, about 660 B.C.

It is at this point that, in the opinion of the Japanese
themselves, pure myth and history part company ; and
this line of demarcation is generally accepted by scholars
and students ; and if not unassailable, it still forms at
least as good and satisfactory a division as any other.
It seems more than probable, however, that there is a
large substratum of history in the mythical tales relating
to persons and events of far earlier date. But it must
be noted that the extant records are of a far later period
than the commencement of the historical era, according
to the Japanese of to-day. These make the latter com-


mence with the accession of Jimmu, whilst the popularly-
accepted chronology is almost certainly fictitious down to
the end of the fourth century, and the documentary
records and evidence do not commence till the end of
the seventh or beginning of the eighth.

With regard to the real or entirely mythical character
of the personages who flit through the traditions and
legends of early Japan, it is difficult to decide. But there
seems good reason for considering both the Sun Goddess
and her brother, Susano-no-Mikoto, or His-Brave-Speedy-
Impetuous-Male-Augustness, as actual historical person-
ages ; the names by which they and other gods and
goddesses are referred to in the original legends being
merely honorific titles conferred upon them after their
deaths, although the original bestowal of these was over-
looked in later times. For this reason, such deities as
Amaterasu-O-Mi-Kami, or the Great-August-Deity-who-
Shines-from-Heaven, identified with the Mikado's ances-
tress the Sun ; Ogetsu-hime, the Goddess of Food, and

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Online LibraryClive HollandOld and new Japan → online text (page 1 of 23)