F. Hadland (Frederick Hadland) Davis.

Myths & legends of Japan online

. (page 1 of 30)
Online LibraryF. Hadland (Frederick Hadland) DavisMyths & legends of Japan → online text (page 1 of 30)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


o
in

o

o

CO

o




MYTHS Sf LEGENDS
OF JAPAN



DEDICATED TO

MY WIFE




Fr.



The Lovers who exchanged Fans.
(Seepage 24.5)



MYTHS & LEGENDS
OF JAPAN



BY

F. HADLAND DAVIS

AUTHOR OF "THE LAND OF THE YELLOW SPRING AND OTHER
JAPANESE STORIES" "THE PERSIAN MYSTICS" ETC.



WITH THIRTY-TWO FULL-PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS

BY

EVELYN PAUL



T



NEW YORK
THOMAS Y. CROWELL COMPANY

PUBLISHERS



PRINTED BY

BALL ANT YNE & COMPANY LTD

AT THE BALLANTYNE PRESS

TAVISTOCK STREET COVENT GARDEN

LONDON ENGLAND



PREFACE

IN writing Myths and Legends of Japan I have
been much indebted to numerous authorities on
Japanese subjects, and most especially to Lafcadio
Hearn, who first revealed to me the Land of the Gods.
It is impossible to enumerate all the writers who have
assisted me in preparing this volume. I have borrowed
from their work as persistently as Japan has borrowed
from other countries, and I sincerely hope that, like
Japan herself, I have made good use of the material I
have obtained from so many sources.

I am indebted to Professor Basil Hall Chamberlain
for placing his work at my disposal, and I have found
his encyclopaedic volume, Things Japanese, his transla-
tion of the Kojiki, his Murray's Hand-book for Japan (in
collaboration with W. B. Mason), and his Japanese
Poetry, of great value. I thank the Executors of the
late Dr. W. G. Aston for permission to quote from
this Ieafne31mthority's work. I have made use of his
translation of the Nihongi (Transactions of the Japan
Society, 1896) jmd have gathered much useful material
from A History of Japanese Literature. I am indebted
to Mr. F. Victor Dickins for allowing me to make use
of his translation of the Tafatori Monogatari and the
Hd-p-ki. My friend Mrs. C. M. Salwey has taken a
sympathetic interest in my work, which has been
invaluable to me. Her book, Fans of Japan, has
supplied me with an exquisite legend, and many of her
articles have yielded a rich harvest. I warmly thank
Mr. Yone Noguchi for allowing me to quote from his
poetry, and also Miss Clara A. Walsh for so kindly
putting at my disposal her fascinating volume, The
Master-Singers of Japan, published by Mr. John Murray
in the " Wisdom of the East " series. My thanks are



399735



PREFACE

due to Messrs. Houghton, Mifflin Company, for allowing
me to quote from Lafcadio Hearn's Glimpses of
Unfamiliar Japan and The Japanese Letters of Lafcadio
Hearn ; to Messrs. George Allen & Sons, for giving me
permission to quote from Sir F. T. Piggott's Garden of
Japan ; to the Editor of the Academy , for permitting me
to reprint my article on " Japanese Poetry," and to
Messrs. Cassell and Co. Ltd., for allowing me to
reproduce "The Garden of Japan," which I originally
contributed to Cassell' s Magazine. The works of Dr.
William Anderson, Sir Ernest Satow, Lord Redesdale,
Madame Ozaki, Mr. R. Gordon Smith, Captain
F. Brinkley, the late Rev. Arthur Lloyd, Mr. Henri
L. Joly, Mr. K. Okakura, the Rev. W. E. Griffis,
and others, have been of immense value to me, and in
addition I very warmly thank all those writers I have
left unnamed, through want of space, whose works have
assisted me in the preparation of this volume.



VI



CONTENTS

CHAP. PAGE

INTRODUCTION xi

i PERIOD OF THE GODS 21

II. HEROES AND WARRIORS 38

III. THE BAMBOO-CUTTER AND THE MOON-MAIDEN 65

IV. BUDDHA LEGENDS 80
V. Fox LEGENDS 93

VI. Jizo, THE GOD OF CHILDREN 104

VII. LEGEND IN JAPANESE ART 112

VIII. THE STAR LOVERS AND THE ROBE OF FEATHERS 126

IX. LEGENDS OF MOUNT FUJI 130

X. BELLS 140

XI. YUKI-ONNA, THE LADY OF THE SNOW 149

XII. FLOWERS AND GARDENS 154

XIII. TREES 174

XIV. MIRRORS 190

XV. KWANNON AND BENTEN. * DAIKOKU, EBISU, AND

HOTEI 199

XVI. DOLLS AND BUTTERFLIES 214

XVII. FESTIVALS 220

XVIII. THE PEONY-LANTERN 228

XIX. KOBO DAISHI, NICHIREN, AND SHODO SHONIN 234

XX. FANS 243

XXL THUNDER 250

^v^, x vii



CONTENTS

CHAP. PAGE

XXII. ANIMAL LEGENDS 255

XXIII. BIRD AND INSECT LEGENDS 276

XXIV. CONCERNING TEA 290
XXV. LEGENDS OF THE WEIRD 300

XXVI. THREE MAIDENS 313

XXVII. LEGENDS OF THE SEA 323

XXVIII. SUPERSTITIONS 342

XXIX. SUPERNATURAL BEINGS 350

XXX. THE TRANSFORMATION OF ISSUNBOSHI AND KIN-

TARO, THE GOLDEN BOY 364

XXXI. MISCELLANEOUS LEGENDS 370
A NOTE ON JAPANESE POETRY 380
GODS AND GODDESSES 387
GENEALOGY OF THE AGE OF THE GODS 393
BIBLIOGRAPHY 397
INDEX OF POETICAL QUOTATIONS 402
GLOSSARY AND INDEX 403



vi 11



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

PAGE

The Lovers who exchanged Fans Frontispiece

Uzume awakens the Curiosity of Ama-terasu 28

Susa-no-o and Kushi-nada-hime 30

Hoori and the Sea God's Daughter 34

Yorimasa slays the Vampire 38
Yorimasa and Benkei attacked by a ghostly company of the

Taira Clan 42

Raiko and the Enchanted Maiden 46

Raiko slays the Goblin of Oyeyama 50

Prince Yamato and Takeru 52

Momotaro and the Pheasant 5 8

Hidesato and the Centipede 62

The Moonfolk demand the Lady Kaguya 76

Buddha and the Dragon 80

The Mikado and the Jewel Maiden 96

Jizo 108

A Kakemono Ghost 124

Sengen, the Goddess of Mount Fuji 134

Visu on Mount Fuji-Yama 138

Kiyo and the Priest 146

Yuki-Onna, the Lady of the Snow 150

Shing6 and Yoshisawa by the Violet Well 166

Matsu i escues Teoyo 188

Shinzaburo recognised Tsuyu and her maid Yone 228

The Jelly-Fish and the Monkey 27 2

The Firefly Battle 286

Hoichi-the- Earless 304

The Maiden of Unai 3 I 4

Urashima and the Sea King's Daughter 326

Tokoyo and the Sea Serpent 334

The Kappa and his Victim 35

Kato Sayemon in his Palace of the Shogun Ashikaga 370

Totaro and Samebito 37

ix



INTRODUCTION



\



PIERRE LOTI in Madame ChrysanMme, Gilbert
and Sullivan in The Mikado, and Sir Edwin
Arnold in Seas and Lands, gave us the im-
pression that Japan was a real fairyland in the Far East.
We were delighted with the prettiness and quaintness
of that country, and still more with the prettiness and
quaintness of the Japanese people. We laughed at
their topsyturvy ways, regarded the Japanese woman,
in her rich-coloured kimono, as altogether charming and
fascinating, and had a vague notion that the principal
features of Nippon were the tea-houses, cherry-blossom,
and geisha. Twenty years ago we did not take Japan
very seriously. We still listen to the melodious music
of The Mikado, but now we no longer regard Japan as
a sort of glorified willow-pattern plate. The Land of
the Rising Sun has become the Land of the Risen Sun,
for we have learnt that her quaintness and prettiness,
her fairy-like manners and customs, were but the outer
signs of a great and progressive nation. To-day we
recognise Japan as a power in the East, and her victory
over the Russian has made her army and navy famous
throughout the world.

The Japanese have always been an imitative nation,
quick to absorb and utilise the religion, art, and social
life of China, and, having set their own national seal
upon what they have borrowed from the Celestial
Kingdom, to look elsewhere for material that should
strengthen and advance their position. This imitative
quality is one of Japan's most marked characteristics.
She has ever been loath to impart information to others,
but ready at all times to gain access to any form of
knowledge likely to make for her advancement. In
the fourteenth century Kenko wrote in his Tsure-dzure-



INTRODUCTION

gusa : " Nothing opens one's eyes so much as travel,
no matter where/' and the twentieth-century Japanese
has put this excellent advice into practice. He has
travelled far and wide, and has made good use of his
varied observations. Japan's power of imitation
amounts to genius. East and West have contributed to
her greatness, and it is a matter of surprise to many of
us that a country so long isolated and for so many years
bound by feudalism should, within a comparatively short
space of time, master our Western system of warfare, as
well as many of our ethical and social ideas, and become
a great world-power. But Japan's success has not been
due entirely to clever imitation, neither has her place
among the foremost nations been accomplished with such
meteor-like rapidity as some would have us suppose.

We hear a good deal about the New Japan to-day,
and are too prone to forget the significance of the Old
upon which the present regime has been founded.
Japan learnt from England, Germany and America all
the tactics of modern warfare. She established an
efficient army and navy on Western lines ; but it must
be remembered that Japan's great heroes of to-day,
Togo and Oyama, still have in their veins something of
the old samurai spirit, still reflect through their
modernity something of the meaning of Eushido. The
Japanese character is still Japanese and not Western.
Her greatness is to be found in her patriotism, in her
loyalty and whole-hearted love of her country.
Shintoism has taught her to revere the mighty dead ;
Buddhism, besides adding to her religious ideals, has
contributed to her literature and art, and Christianity
has had its effect in introducing all manner of beneficent
social reforms.

There are many conflicting theories in regard to the
racial origin of the Japanese people, and we have no



Xll



INTRODUCTION

definite knowledge on the subject. The first inhabitants
of Japan were probably the Ainu, an Aryan people who
possibly came from North-Eastern Asia at a time when
the distance separating the Islands from the mainland
was not so great as it is to-day. The Ainu were
followed by two distinct Mongol invasions, and these
invaders had no difficulty in subduing their predecessors ;
but in course of time the Mongols were driven north-
ward by Malays from the Philippines. " By the year
A.D. 500 the Ainu, the Mongol, and the Malay elements
in the population had become one nation by much the
same process as took place in England after the Norman
Conquest. To the national characteristics it may be
inferred that the Ainu contributed the power of
resistance, the Mongol the intellectual qualities, and the
Malay that handiness and adaptability which are the
heritage of sailor-men." 1 Such authorities as Baelz
and Rein are of the opinion that the Japanese are
Mongols, and although they have intermarried with
the Ainu, " the two nations," writes Professor
B. H. Chamberlain, " are as distinct as the whites and
reds in North America." In spite of the fact that the
Ainu is looked down upon in Japan, and regarded as a
hairy aboriginal of interest to the anthropologist and
the showman, a poor despised creature, who worships
the bear as the emblem of strength and fierceness, he
has, nevertheless, left his mark upon Japan. Fuji was
possibly a corruption of Huchi, or Fuchi, the Ainu
Goddess of Fire, and there is no doubt that these
aborigines originated a vast number of geographical
names, particularly in the north of the main island, that
are recognisable to this day. We can also trace Ainu
influence in regard to certain Japanese superstitions, such
as the belief in the Kappa, or river monster.

i The Full Recognition of Japan, by Robert P. Porter.



Xlll



INTRODUCTION

The Chinese called Japan Jih-pen, " the place the
sun comes from," because the archipelago was situated
on the east of their own kingdom, and our word Japan
and Nippon are corruptions of Jih-pen. Marco Polo
called the country Zipangu, and one ancient name
describes it as " The-Luxuriant-Reed-Plains-the-land-
of-Fresh-Rice-Ears-of-a-Thousand - Autumns-of- Long-
Five-Hundred-Autumns." We are not surprised to
find that such a very lengthy and descriptive title is not
used by the Japanese to-day ; but it is of interest to
know that the old word for Japan, Yamato, is still
frequently employed, Yamato Damashii signifying "The
Spirit of Unconquerable Japan." Then, again, we still
hear Japan referred to as The Island of the Dragon-fly.
We are told in the old Japanese Chronicles that the
Emperor, in 630 B.C., ascended a hill called Waki Kamu
no Hatsuma, from which he was able to view the land
on all sides. He was much impressed by the beauty of
the country, and said that it resembled " a dragon-fly
licking its hinder parts," and the Island received the
name of Akitsu- Shima ("Island of the Dragon-fly ").

The Kojiki, or " Records of Ancient Matters," com-
pleted A.D. 712, deals with the early traditions of the
Japanese race, commencing with the myths, the basis of
Shintoism, and gradually becoming more historical until
it terminates in A.D. 628. Dr. W. G. Aston writes in
A History of Japanese Literature : " The Kojikt, however
valuable it may be for research into the mythology, the
manners, the language, and the legends of early Japan,
is a very poor production, whether we consider it as
literature or as a record of facts. As history it cannot
be compared with the Nihongi? a contemporary work

1 Chronicles of Japan, completed A.D. 720, deals, in an interesting
manner, with the myths, legends, poetry and history from the earliest
times down to A.D. 697.
xiv



INTRODUCTION

in Chinese ; while the language is a strange mixture of
Chinese and Japanese, which there has been little
attempt to endue with artistic quality. The circum-
stances under which it was composed are a partial
explanation of the very curious style in which it is
written. We are told that a man named Yasumaro,
learned in Chinese, took it down from the lips of a
certain Hiyeda no Are, who had such a wonderful
memory that he c could repeat with his mouth whatever
was placed before his eyes, and record in his heart
whatever struck his ears. 7 ' It is possible that Hiyeda
no Are was one of the Kataribe or " Reciters," whose
duty it was to recite " ancient words " before the
Mikado at the Court of Nara on certain State occasions.
The Kojiki and the Nihongi are the sources from
which we learn the early myths and legends of Japan.
In their pages we are introduced to Izanagi and
Izanami, Ama-terasu, Susa-no-o, and numerous other
divinities, and these august beings provide us with
stories that are quaint, beautiful, quasi-humorous, and
sometimes a little horrible. What could be more na'ive
than the love-making of Izanagi and Izanami, who con-
ceived the idea of marrying each other after seeing the
mating of two wagtails ? In this ancient myth we
trace the ascendency of the male over the female, an
ascendency maintained in Japan until recent times,
fostered, no doubt, by Kaibara's Onna Daigafyt, " The
Greater Learning for Women." But in the protracted
quarrel between the Sun Goddess and her brother, the
Impetuous Male, the old chroniclers lay emphasis upon
the villainy of Susa-no-o ; and Ama-terasu, a curious
mingling of the divine and the feminine, is portrayed
as an ideal type of Goddess. She is revealed
preparing for warfare, making fortifications by
stamping upon the ground, and she is also depicted



XV



INTRODUCTION

peeping out of her rock-cavern and gazing in the
Sacred Mirror. Ama-terasu is the central figure in
Japanese mythology, for it is from the Sun Goddess
that the Mikados are descended. In the cycle of
legends known as the Period of the Gods, we are
introduced to the Sacred Treasures, we discover the
origin of the Japanese dance, and in imagination
wander through the High Plain of Heaven, set foot
upon the Floating Bridge, enter the Central Land of
Reed-Plains, peep into the Land of Yomi, and follow
Prince Fire-Fade into the Palace of the Sea King.

Early heroes and warriors are always regarded as
minor divinities, and the very nature of Shintoism,
associated with ancestor worship, has enriched those of
Japan with many a fascinating legend. For strength,
skill, endurance, and a happy knack of overcoming all
manner of difficulties by a subtle form of quick-witted
enterprise, the Japanese hero must necessarily take a
high position among the famous warriors of other
countries. There is something eminently chivalrous
about the heroes of Japan that calls for special notice.
The most valiant men are those who champion the
cause of the weak or redress evil and tyranny of every
kind, and we trace in the Japanese hero, who is very far
from being a crude swashbuckler, these most excellent
qualities. He is not always above criticism, and
-sometimes we find in him a touch of cunning, but such
a characteristic is extremely rare, and very far from
being a national trait. An innate love of poetry and
the beautiful has had its refining influence upon the
Japanese hero, with the result that his strength is com-
bined with gentleness.

Benkei is one of the most lovable of Japanese heroes.
He possessed the strength of many men, his tact
amounted to genius, his sense of humour was strongly
xvi



INTRODUCTION

developed, and the most loving of Japanese mothers
could not have shown more gentleness when his
master's wife gave birth to a child. When Yoshitsune
and Benkei, at the head of the Minamoto host, had
finally vanquished the Taira at the sea-fight of Dan-
no-ura, their success awakened the jealousy of the
Shogun, and the two great warriors were forced to fly the
country. We follow them across the sea, over moun-
tains, outwitting again and again their numerous
enemies. At Matsue a great army was sent out
against these unfortunate warriors. Camp-fires
stretched in a glittering line about the last resting-place
of Yoshitsune and Benkei. In an apartment were
Yoshitsune with his wife and little child. Death stood
in the room, too, and it was better that Death should
come at the order of Yoshitsune than at the command
of the enemy without the gate. His child was killed
by an attendant, and, holding his beloved wife's head
under his left arm, he plunged his sword deep into her
throat. Having accomplished these things, Yoshitsune
committed hara-kiri. Benkei, however, faced the
enemy. He stood with his great legs apart, his back
pressed against a rock. When the dawn came he was
still standing with his legs apart, a thousand arrows in
that brave body of his. Benkei was dead, but his was
a death too strong to fall. The sun shone on a man
who was a true hero, who had ever made good his
words : <c Where my lord goes, to victory or to death,
I shall follow him."'

Japan is a mountainous country, and in such
countries we expect to find a race of hardy, brave men,
and certainly the Land of the Rising Sun has given us
many a warrior worthy to rank with the Knights of
King Arthur. More than one legend deals with the
destruction of devils and goblins, and of the rescue of

B



xvu



INTRODUCTION

maidens who had the misfortune to be their captives.
One hero slays a great monster that crouched upon the
roof of the Emperor's palace, another despatches the
Goblin of Oyeyama, another thrusts his sword through
a gigantic spider, and another slays a serpent. All the
Japanese heroes, whatever enterprise they may be
engaged in, reveal the spirit of high adventure, and
that loyalty of purpose, that cool disregard for danger
and death which are still characteristic of the Japanese
people to-day.

"The Bamboo-Cutter and the Moon-Maiden"
(Chapter III) is adapted from a tenth-century story
called Taketori Monogatari^ and is the earliest example
of the Japanese romance. The author is unknown, but
he must have had an intimate knowledge of court life
in Kyoto. All the characters in this very charming
legend are Japanese, but most of the incidents have
been borrowed from China, a country so rich in
picturesque fairy-lore. Mr. F. V. Dickins writes con-
cerning the Taketori Monogatari : " The art and grace
of the story of the Lady Kaguya are native, its
unstrained pathos, its natural sweetness, are its own,
and in simple charm and purity of thought and language
it has no rival in the fiction of either the Middle
Kingdom or of the Dragon-fly Land."

In studying Japanese legend one is particularly struck
by its universality and also by its very sharp contrasts.
Most nations have deified the sun and moon, the stars
and mountains, and all the greatest works of Nature ;
but the Japanese have described the red blossoms of
azaleas as the fires of the Gods, and the white snow of
Fuji as the garments of Divine Beings. Their legend,
on the one hand at any rate, is essentially poetical, and
those who worshipped Mount Fuji also had ghostly
tales to tell about the smallest insect. Top much stress

xviii



INTRODUCTION

cannot be laid upon Japan's love of Nature. The early
myths recorded in the Kojity and Nihongi are of con-
siderable interest, but they cannot be compared with
the later legends that have given souls to trees and
flowers and butterflies, or with those pious traditions
that have revealed so tenderly and yet so forcibly the
divine significance of Nature. The Festival of the
Dead could only have originated among a people to
whom the beautiful is the mainstay and joy of life, for
that festival is nothing less than a call to the departed
dead to return to their old earthly haunts in the summer-
time, to cross green hills dotted with pine-trees, to
wander down winding ways, by lake and seashore, to
linger in old, well-loved gardens, and to pass into
homes where, without being seen, they see so much.
To the Japanese mind, to those who still preserve the
spirit of Old Yamato, the most glowing account of a
Buddhist Paradise is not so fair as Japan in the summer-
time.

Perhaps it is as well that Japanese myth, legend,
fairy tale, and folk-lore are not exclusively poetical, or
we should be in danger of becoming satiated with too
much sweetness. It may be that we admire the arches
of a Gothic cathedral none the less for having gazed
upon the hideous gargoyles on the outside of the
sacred edifice, and in the legends of Japan we find
many grotesques in sharp contrast with the traditions
associated with the gentle and loving Jizo. There is
plenty of crude realism in Japanese legend. We are
repelled by the Thunder God's favourite repast, amazed
by the magical power of foxes and cats ; and the story of
" Ho'ichi-the-Earless " and of the corpse-eating priest
afford striking examples of the combination of the
weird and the horrible. In one story we laugh over
the antics of a performing kettle, and in another we are

XIX



INTRODUCTION

almost moved to tears when we read about a little
Japanese quilt that murmured : " Elder Brother
probably is cold ? Nay, thou probably art cold ? "

We have had numerous volumes of Japanese fairy
tales, but hitherto no book has appeared giving a com-
prehensive study of the myths and legends of a country
so rich in quaint and beautiful traditions, and it is
hoped that the present volume, the result of much
pleasant labour, will be a real contribution to the
subject. I have made no attempt to make a complete
collection of Japanese myths and legends because their
number is legion ; but I have endeavoured to make a
judicious selection that shall at any rate be representa-
tive, and many of the stories contained in this volume
will be new to the general reader.

Lafcadio Hearn wrote in one of his letters : " The
fairy world seized my soul again, very softly and
sweetly as a child might a butterfly," and if we too
would adopt a similar spirit, we shall journey to the
Land of the Gods, where the great Kobo Daishi will
write upon the sky and running water, upon our very
hearts, something of the glamour and magic of Old
Japan. With Kobo Daishi for guide we shall witness
the coming of Mount Fuji, wander in the Palace of the
Sea King and in the Land of Perpetual Youth, watch
the combats of mighty heroes, listen to the wisdom of
saints, cross the Celestial River on a bridge of birds,
and when we are weary nestle in the long sleeve of the
ever-smiling Jizo.

F. HADLAND DAVIS



CHAPTER I : THE PERIOD OF
THE GODS

In the Beginning

WE are told that in the very beginning " Heaven
and Earth were not yet separated, and the
In and To not yet divided." This reminds
us of other cosmogony stories. The In and To y corre-
sponding to the Chinese Tang and Tin, were the male
and female principles. It was more convenient for the
old Japanese writers to imagine the coming into being
of creation in terms not very remote from their own
manner of birth. In Polynesian mythology we find
pretty much the same conception, where Rangi and Papa
represented Heaven and Earth, and further parallels
may be found in Egyptian and other cosmogony stories.
In nearly all we find the male and female principles
taking a prominent, and after all very rational, place.
We are told in the Nihongi that these male and female
principles "formed a chaotic mass like an egg which



Online LibraryF. Hadland (Frederick Hadland) DavisMyths & legends of Japan → online text (page 1 of 30)