Yei Theodora Ozaki.

Warriors of old Japan : and other stories online

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The kind reception given to "The Japanese Fairy Book" has encouraged me
to venture on a second volume of stories from Japan. I have invented
none of these stories. They are taken from many different sources, and
in clothing them with an English dress my work has been that of adapter
rather than translator. In picturesqueness of conception Japanese
stories yield the palm to none. And they are rich in quaint expressions
and dainty conceits. But they are apt to be written in a style almost
too bald. This defect the professional story-teller remedies by
colouring his story as he tells it. In the same way I have tried to
brighten the rather bare structure of a story, where it seemed to need
such treatment; with touches of local colour in order to give emphasis
to the narrative, and at the same time make the story more attractive to
the foreign reader. Whether I have succeeded or not, the reader must
judge for himself. I shall be satisfied if in some small measure I have
been able to do for Japanese folk-lore what Andrew Lang has done for
folk-lore in general, and if the tales in their English dress are found
to retain the essential features of Japanese stories.

Miss Fusa Okamoto and Mr. Taketaro Matsuda, my brother, Nobumori Ozaki,
and one or two friends have given me help in translation.

For the introductory note I am indebted to Mr. J.H. Gubbins, C.M.G., of
the British Embassy, Tokyo.

Most of the illustrations have been drawn by Mr. Shusui Okakura, of the
Peers' College, to whose painstaking and patient collaboration grateful
acknowledgment is due. A few of the pictures were drawn by Mr. Tsutsui,
of the "Jiji Shimbun," and some of the historical pictures by Mr. Kokuho
Utagawa and Mr. Tosen Toda.

Yei Theodora Ozaki.


Introductory Note

Madame Yukio Ozaki

I. Hachiro Tametomo, the Archer
II. Gen Sanmi Yorimasa, the Knight
III. The Story of Yoshitsune
IV. The Story of Benkei
V. The Goblin of Oyeyama
VI. Kidomaru the Robber, Raiko the Brave, and the Goblin Spider
VII. The Story of the Pots of Plum, Cherry, and Pine
VIII. Shiragiku, or White Chrysanthemum
IX. The Princess of the Bowl
X. The Story of Lazy Taro




Those who three years ago welcomed the appearance of "The Japanese Fairy
Book" will be grateful to Madame Ozaki for the new treat afforded in the
present volume. "The Japanese Fairy Book" appealed alike to the child,
in or out of the nursery, to the student of folk-lore, and to the lover
of things Japanese. To all of these the stories here told will come as
old friends with new faces.

In a country whose people are born story-tellers, where story-telling
long since rose to the dignity of a profession, and the story-teller is
sure of an appreciative audience, whether at a village fair or in a city
theatre, the authoress had not to go far afield in search of her
materials. But the range of this class of literature is wide, embracing
as it does all that goes to make folk-lore, legendary history, fairy
tales, and myths.

From all these sources the present stories are drawn, and in each case
the selection is justified and the story loses nothing in the telling.
The simple directness of narrative peculiar to Japanese tales is not
lost in the English setting, and the little glimpses we are given into
Japanese verse may tempt the reader to do like Oliver Twist and "ask for

J.H. Gubbins.

Tokyo, May, 1909.



In the attempt to describe a character it is wise to begin, if possible,
with its distinguishing attribute, the one which will leave its mark on
the time, after the popularity of definite achievements may have passed
away. So I will say, before going any further into the subject of this
sketch, that if I were asked to single out the person who, to-day, most
truly apprehends the points of contact and divergence in the thought of
East and West, I would name the gentle dark-eyed lady who is the light
of an ancient house in the loveliest part of Tokyo, a spot where, as she
sits under the great pines of her garden, she can hear the long Pacific
rollers breaking on the white beaches of Japan and listen to the wind as
it murmurs its haunting songs of other homes in distant lands where she
is known and loved. For though Yei Theodora Ozaki is a daughter of the
East in heart and soul and parentage, one to whom all the fine ways and
thoughts of it come by nature, she is also a child of the West in
training, in culture, in the intellectual justice which enables her to
discern the greatnesses and smile indulgently at the littlenesses of

Her father, Baron Saburo Ozaki, the descendant of a Kyoto samurai
family, a member of the House of Peers, and a Privy Councillor, was one
of the first Japanese who went to England to study its language and
institutions. While there, he made the acquaintance of Miss Bathia
Catherine Morrison, and shortly afterwards she became his wife. This
lady was the daughter of William Morrison, Esq., a profound scholar and
linguist, who would have been more famous had not his attainments, great
as they were, been overshadowed by those of his brother, the Rev.
Alexander Morrison, whose translations of the works of German
philosophers and historians placed much valuable material at the
disposal of English readers.

William Morrison's name, however, was known and loved in Japan many
years before his little granddaughter Yei (the Illustrious Flower Petal)
was born, for he was the instructor of most of the Japanese great men
who went to England to learn the ways and speech of modern
enlightenment. Prince Mori, Marquis Inouye, Baron Suyematsu, and many
others who afterwards rose to eminence, were among his pupils, and when
Baron Ozaki became his son-in-law it would have been natural to
conclude that Miss Morrison was fairly familiar already with many sides
of the complex Japanese character. But the union was not a happy one;
and when, several years later, I made her acquaintance, I thought I
could divine the reason. She was a charming and intelligent woman, but
she was English to the backbone, and it was impossible for her to
appreciate or sympathize with anything that was not British. And Saburo
Ozaki was as fundamentally Japanese.

Five years after their marriage they separated, by mutual consent; three
little girls, of whom Yei Theodora was the second, remained in England
with their mother and received a very thorough English education. Mr.
Morrison took great interest in O Yei and brought her many books, which
she devoured greedily, having inherited all his love of literature and
learning. I have often heard her say that whatever ability she possesses
in that direction is due to her English grandfather.

She was just sixteen when Baron Ozaki insisted upon her coming out to
live with him in Japan, and she gladly complied with his wishes. On
meeting her after their long separation, he was delighted with her charm
and grace, and pleasantly surprised to find that in appearance she was
quite a Japanese maiden, small and slender, with dark eyes, pale
complexion, and a mass of glossy black hair. Accustomed to rule as an
autocrat over his household, he decreed that henceforth she was to be
only Japanese. She was quite willing to please him in this, so far as
she could; the pretty picturesque ways of her new home appealed to her
artistic instinct, and the traditions and ideals of Japanese life at
once claimed her for their own; her mental inheritance responded to them
joyfully. But this was not quite enough for her father. His duty, from
his point of view, was to arrange a suitable marriage for her as soon as
possible; but here he met with an unexpected difficulty. The example of
her parents' estrangement had inspired the girl with something like
terror of the married state, and she had grown up with the resolve not
to run the risk of contracting a like ill-assorted union. In
consequence, she found herself in opposition to her father, an
impossible situation in a Japanese family, and especially undesirable
where there were younger children growing up, as in this case, for Baron
Ozaki had married again after his return to his own country. Various
other circumstances also combined to make her decide at this time to
become independent. Her knowledge of English qualified her to give
instruction in that language, and her superior education and well-known
social position brought her many pupils in a land where teaching is
looked upon as the highest of all professions.

In this way many interesting friendships were formed with Japanese
girls, one of whom opened for her the doors of that treasure house of
story, the ancient lore and romance of Japan. Here the ardent sensitive
mind was in its element. She says: "During those early years I loved the
heroes and heroines of my country with passionate and romantic devotion.
They were the companions of my solitude, royal and remote, yet near and
potential as the white fire of girlhood's idealisms; they peopled my
visions with beautiful images, tender and brave and loyal. In those days
I was often reproached with being a dreamer, but my dreams were all of
fair and noble things. The old stories had taken possession of me: they
were a wonder, a joy, an exaltation, though I little imagined that I
would ever write them down."

It was during this period of her life that there came a temporary
parting of the ways and Europe again claimed O Yei for a time. My
husband was the British Minister in Tokyo, and we proposed to Baron
Ozaki's daughter that she should come and live with us, acting as my
secretary and companion. She accepted, and became not only a dearly
loved friend, but an invaluable assistant to me, contributing very
materially to the success of my various books on Japan by her profound
knowledge of the country and the people. When I returned to Europe she
followed me, and remained with us in Italy for about two years. A part
of this time she spent in the house of my brother, Marion Crawford,
acting as his amanuensis, and cataloguing his great library with such
precision and intelligence that he remarked to me, "Miss Ozaki is a very
exceptional person. I had not imagined that the work could be so well

My brother discerned her literary talent and first suggested to her that
she should write and publish the stories of old Japan which she used to
tell in the family circle to the delight of old and young. "You have the
gifts of imagination and of language," he said to her. "You really ought
to lecture on those stories. You would have a great success."

Italy was a revelation to O Yei; her love of colour and romance was
satisfied there, and the never-silent music of the South, the gay yet
haunting songs of the people, found a ready echo in her sweet voice, her
delicate guitar-playing. But her heart had always turned faithfully to
her English mother, and when I went to live in London she passed some
time there, contributing her first stories and articles to the English
magazines. Then she returned to Japan, where the famous educator, Mr.
Fukuzawa, had offered her a post in his school.

Of all her varied experiences this was the strangest. The slight shy
girl had a class of two hundred young men and boys to instruct and keep
in order, but from the crowded classroom she returned to the eeriest and
loneliest of dwellings. She says: "I lived in the upper storey of an old
Buddhist temple, really enjoying the queerness and out-of-the-worldness
of it. Under my windows was a graveyard, where on summer nights I used
to look for ghosts; but I had a terrible time with the cold and the
draughts and the rats, in winter. Sometimes I was awakened at dawn by
the sound of gongs and bells, and would look out of my window to see a
funeral procession marshalled in the courtyard." In her spare time she
continued to write, and various articles and fairy stories of hers
appeared in the "Wide World," the "Girls' Realm," and the "Lady's
Realm." At last her health broke down and she gave up her post at the
school and devoted herself more closely to literary work, which
resulted, in 1903, in the publication of "The Japanese Fairy Book," a
work which has now become a classic. At the same time she belonged to
several of the societies, patriotic, educational, and charitable, by
which the Japanese ladies so quietly yet so efficiently aid the cause of
true progress in their country. Indeed it was in the interests of
Japanese womanhood that she first took up her pen, resolved to dispel
the hopeless misconceptions which existed in regard to it in western
minds. To use her own words: "When I was last in England and Europe and
found by the questions asked me that very mistaken notions about Japan,
and especially about its women, existed generally, I determined if
possible to write so as to dispel these wrong conceptions. Hence my
stories of Japanese heroines, Aoyagi and Kesa Gozen [in the 'Nineteenth
Century'] and Tomaye Gozen, last year ['Lady's Pictorial']. It has been
my hope too that the ancient tales and legends, retold in English, may
show to the West some of the good old ideals and sentiments for which
the Japanese lived and died."

But other than purely studious interests entered into O Yei's life; she
had many friends in the Court and Diplomatic circles, and they drew her
more and more into society, where she was always a welcome addition to
any gathering. She saw every side of the national existence, Imperial,
official, scholastic, and was equally intimate with the small but
brilliant foreign society. Her single state was a mystery to all except
her closest friends; they knew that she had resolved never to marry
until she met a man who should fulfil all her ideals.

She met him at last. In 1904 she made the acquaintance of Yukio Ozaki,
the Mayor of Tokyo. Each had long known of the other, and various
amusing complications had occurred through mistakes of the postman, who,
owing to identity of name (there was no connection of family),
sometimes got hopelessly confused, and delivered the Mayor's letters to
the young lady and the young lady's correspondence to the Mayor. From
the moment when the two first met, at a big dinner party, and laughed
together over the postman's mistakes, the result was a foregone
conclusion. Mr. Ozaki had already learned all that his friends could
tell him about the intellectual, attractive girl whose independent,
resolute spirit had in no way marred her gentle womanliness; she knew
him equally well by reputation - and to hear of Yukio Ozaki, in Japan, is
to admire and respect him. Many were the parents, both wealthy and
noble, who after his first wife's death would gladly have had him for a
son-in-law. His irreproachable morals and elevated character earned for
him during this period the title "Nihon no Dai Ichi no O musoko San,"
the "First (best) bridegroom in all Japan." But he too nursed an ideal,
and was not to be drawn into new ties until he had found it. Given two
such beings, it needed but one kindly touch of Fate's wand to bring them
together. The result was a marriage happy in its perfect romance and
blest with the deep sympathy of tastes and interests which forms the
surest foundation for married felicity.

I returned to Japan a few weeks before the wedding took place, and
counted myself fortunate in gaining the friendship of Yukio Ozaki. My
first impressions of him could be summed up in a very few
words - strength, calmness, largeness of heart. The fearless glance of
his eyes, the noble carriage of his fine dark head, the quiet voice and
direct yet eloquent speech - all this was the fitting index to a
character which through many long years of public stress and strain has
never let even a passing shadow flit over its crystal sincerity and
loyalty. Political corruption, temptations of personal ambition, lures
of advancement, popular feeling, the outcries of opponents and the
applause of adherents, all these have assailed him in vain, have fallen
like broken arrows from the shield of his spotless integrity. A Japanese
writer says of him: "Mr. Yukio Ozaki has had a wonderful political
career. He is a born orator, the most powerful debater, and the ablest
writer, in Japan; a staunch fighter for the cause of liberty and the
interests of the people; one of the political magnates, and a potent
factor in the introduction of the Meiji civilization; a man who is above
every form of political corruption; once the Minister for Education, and
now the highly renowned mayor of Tokyo who has never missed a single
election for the twenty-five Sessions of the Diet of Japan."

Mr. Ozaki is a strenuous and untiring worker. In his character of Mayor
no detail is too small for him to go into patiently. Drainage, street
cleaning, water supply, market regulations, everything that can conduce
to the health and morals of the city passes under his watchful eyes,
and Tokyo is governed marvellously well. His scrupulous
conscientiousness leads him to take upon himself a thousand minutiae
which another man would hand over to his subordinates. I shall never
forget the searching orders that were promulgated to prepare the capital
for the return of the troops from Manchuria. Hundreds of thousands of
men, war-worn and ragged, with all their invalids, were to be arriving
for months together, and no one could tell what germs of disease might
come with them. So before the first detachment reached Shimbashi, a
house-to-house visitation was made, the most thorough cleaning and
clearing away of rubbish was insisted upon, and the entire foundations
of the dwellings as well as out-houses and gateways were copiously
sprinkled with chloride of lime. Tokyo sneezed, Tokyo wept, but Tokyo
had no epidemics.

Besides all his responsibilities as Mayor, a post which he has filled
for seven years, Mr. Ozaki has great political duties to occupy his
time. He has steadily refused to attach himself to any party in
particular, and, though he has many supporters in the Diet, is an
absolutely independent statesman, judging all measures from his only
standpoints - right and wrong, and the best interests of the country.
This uncompromising attitude has made many enemies for him, but even
they admire and respect him, knowing that he is a man who has said to
evil, "Stand thou on that side, for on this am I."[1]

There is another side to his character, the love of all that is
beautiful and inspiring. No one who saw the "Triumphal Return" of
Admiral Togo can forget the splendid scene of that imposing ceremony,
attended by half a million people and so deftly organized that all could
see the hero and the man who welcomed him in the country's name. The
welcome came from the nation's heart and found adequate expression in
Yukio Ozaki's magnificent address, delivered in the voice whose clear
tones had ever sounded in the cause of true patriotism. The thrill of
deepest feeling was in them that day, and I, who stood near the speaker,
saw that his hand trembled and his eyes were suffused with emotion as he
welcomed the beloved old sailor back, in glory, to the country he had

One more superb pageant - one where Yukio Ozaki and his bride were host
and hostess - returns to my memory, the fête given to Prince Arthur of
Connaught in 1906. This was the largest social reunion that has ever
taken place in the East, and most regally was the illustrious visitor
entertained. In the beautifully wooded park a banqueting pavilion had
been erected in the purest style of ancient Japanese architecture,
severely harmonious in outline and detail. The interior contained,
among other decorations, a great collection of rare Japanese flowers,
shrubs, and dwarf trees - pines and maples hundreds of years old, and,
from hoary trunk to new-born feathery branch tip, perfect miniatures of
their spreading, towering brethren of the forest. The crowning feature
of the day was the Daimyo's procession, a mile long, which defiled
before our eyes across the great lawns in the open air. For this the
last survivors of the feudal epoch had been sought out and brought in
from every part of Japan, old _samurai_ who had accompanied their
imperious masters in many a famous progress and had cut down all and any
who had the temerity to cross their path. In joyful arrogance they came
to show a degenerate world the martial splendours of their younger days,
and the sight was enough to make one overlook the wrongs and dangers of
the dead time and only regret that so much colour and fire had to be
swept away to make room for the nation's new life.

For things like these all art lovers are grateful to Yukio Ozaki, but
his two or three intimate friends have more exquisite moments to thank
him for. "Let me take you to my favourite garden," he said one day when
I was with him and his wife, "the Garden of the Seven Flowers of

The sun was setting as we drove for miles beside the river-bank; leaving
the city far behind, we came, through leafy lanes, to a half-hidden
gate through which we passed into a dreamland of misty beauty, all
shadowy and subdued in the late October twilight. Great pale moonflowers
swung, like scarce-lit lamps, from tree and trellis; feathery autumn
grasses waved their plumes below. The dark velvety paths led to dim
monuments on whose grey stones we could feel rather than read the
deep-cut characters of classic poems. All was imbued with the tender
melancholy which brings repose, not pain; and even now, in hours of
stress and weariness, my memory turns to the starlit peace that reigns
o' nights in the spirit-haunted Garden of the Seven Flowers of Autumn.

Things like these mean more to Yukio Ozaki and his wife than all the
social and public side of their existence. Both have the proud delicate
reserves of the aristocrat of mind and soul, and escape whenever they
can from the publicity which has been forced upon them. It required much
persuasion to obtain their permission for this sketch to be published.
Madame Ozaki's last words on the subject were: "It is true that my life
is varied and exceedingly interesting. One night I may dine at a State
banquet with Cabinet Ministers and foreign Ambassadors, or with
distinguished visitors like Mr. and Mrs. Taft, who recently visited this
country; the next will find me with a purely Japanese party at the Maple
Club. I assist at the Court functions, the Imperial wedding receptions;
I act as sponsor or go-between at Japanese marriage ceremonies; I see
all the ins and outs of Japanese life. I seem to live in the heart of
two distinct civilizations, those of the East and the West, but the East
is my spirit's fatherland. My mind still turns for companionship to the
great ones of the Past, the heroines of my country's history. I find
greater pleasure in the old classical drama of the 'No,' with its
Buddhist teachings and ideals, its human tragedies of chivalry and of
sorrow, than in all the sensational and spectacular modern drama. But my
greatest happiness is in my home life, in the companionship of my baby
daughter, in the few short hours that my husband can snatch from his
work to devote to me. If you must write about us, tell people about
Yukio - he is so good and great. I have no wish to be mentioned apart
from him."

Mary Crawford Fraser.

Note: Mr. Ozaki's collected works have just been published in Japan;
they include many essays on public and literary topics, original poems,
and a translation into Japanese of the Life of Lord Beaconsfield.

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Online LibraryYei Theodora OzakiWarriors of old Japan : and other stories → online text (page 1 of 14)