By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Tales of Old Japan
Author: Redesdale, Algernon Bertram Freeman-Mitford, Baron, 1837-1916
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Tales of Old Japan" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

Note: The author, Algernon Bertram Freeman-Mitford (1837-1916), Lord
      Redesdale, was in the British Foreign Service as a young man.
      He was assigned to the legation in Japan for several years and
      acquired a life-long fascination with Japanese culture. This
      book has been a standard source of information about Japanese
      folklore and customs since its original publication in 1871 and
      has been in print ever since.



Formerly Second Secretary to the British Legation in Japan

With Illustrations Drawn and Cut on Wood by Japanese Artists




In the Introduction to the story of the Forty-seven Rônins, I have
said almost as much as is needful by way of preface to my stories.

Those of my readers who are most capable of pointing out the many
shortcomings and faults of my work, will also be the most indulgent
towards me; for any one who has been in Japan, and studied Japanese,
knows the great difficulties by which the learner is beset.

For the illustrations, at least, I feel that I need make no apology.
Drawn, in the first instance, by one Ôdaké, an artist in my employ,
they were cut on wood by a famous wood-engraver at Yedo, and are
therefore genuine specimens of Japanese art. Messrs. Dalziel, on
examining the wood blocks, pointed out to me, as an interesting fact,
that the lines are cut with the grain of the wood, after the manner of
Albert Dürer and some of the old German masters,--a process which has
been abandoned by modern European wood-engravers.

It will be noticed that very little allusion is made in these Tales to
the Emperor and his Court. Although I searched diligently, I was able
to find no story in which they played a conspicuous part.

Another class to which no allusion is made is that of the Gôshi. The
Gôshi are a kind of yeomen, or bonnet-lairds, as they would be called
over the border, living on their own land, and owning no allegiance to
any feudal lord. Their rank is inferior to that of the Samurai, or men
of the military class, between whom and the peasantry they hold a
middle place. Like the Samurai, they wear two swords, and are in many
cases prosperous and wealthy men claiming a descent more ancient than
that of many of the feudal Princes. A large number of them are
enrolled among the Emperor's body-guard; and these have played a
conspicuous part in the recent political changes in Japan, as the most
conservative and anti-foreign element in the nation.

With these exceptions, I think that all classes are fairly
represented in my stories.

The feudal system has passed away like a dissolving view before the
eyes of those who have lived in Japan during the last few years. But
when they arrived there it was in full force, and there is not an
incident narrated in the following pages, however strange it may
appear to Europeans, for the possibility and probability of which
those most competent to judge will not vouch. Nor, as many a recent
event can prove, have heroism, chivalry, and devotion gone out of the
land altogether. We may deplore and inveigh against the Yamato
Damashi, or Spirit of Old Japan, which still breathes in the soul of
the Samurai, but we cannot withhold our admiration from the
self-sacrifices which men will still make for the love of their

The first two of the Tales have already appeared in the _Fortnightly
Review,_ and two of the Sermons, with a portion of the Appendix on the
subject of the Hara-Kiri, in the pages of the _Cornhill Magazine_. I
have to thank the editors of those periodicals for permission to
reprint them here.

LONDON, January 7, 1871















          "          "          SERMON II.
          "          "          SERMON III.






The books which have been written of late years about Japan have
either been compiled from official records, or have contained the
sketchy impressions of passing travellers. Of the inner life of the
Japanese the world at large knows but little: their religion, their
superstitions, their ways of thought, the hidden springs by which they
move--all these are as yet mysteries. Nor is this to be wondered at.
The first Western men who came in contact with Japan--I am speaking
not of the old Dutch and Portuguese traders and priests, but of the
diplomatists and merchants of eleven years ago--met with a cold
reception. Above all things, the native Government threw obstacles in
the way of any inquiry into their language, literature, and history.
The fact was that the Tycoon's Government--with whom alone, so long as
the Mikado remained in seclusion in his sacred capital at Kiôto, any
relations were maintained--knew that the Imperial purple with which
they sought to invest their chief must quickly fade before the strong
sunlight which would be brought upon it so soon as there should be
European linguists capable of examining their books and records. No
opportunity was lost of throwing dust in the eyes of the new-comers,
whom, even in the most trifling details, it was the official policy to
lead astray. Now, however, there is no cause for concealment; the _Roi
Fainéant_ has shaken off his sloth, and his _Maire du Palais_,
together, and an intelligible Government, which need not fear scrutiny
from abroad, is the result: the records of the country being but so
many proofs of the Mikado's title to power, there is no reason for
keeping up any show of mystery. The path of inquiry is open to all;
and although there is yet much to be learnt, some knowledge has been
attained, in which it may interest those who stay at home to share.

The recent revolution in Japan has wrought changes social as well as
political; and it may be that when, in addition to the advance which
has already been made, railways and telegraphs shall have connected
the principal points of the Land of Sunrise, the old Japanese, such
as he was and had been for centuries when we found him eleven short
years ago, will have become extinct. It has appeared to me that no
better means could be chosen of preserving a record of a curious and
fast disappearing civilization than the translation of some of the
most interesting national legends and histories, together with other
specimens of literature bearing upon the same subject. Thus the
Japanese may tell their own tale, their translator only adding here
and there a few words of heading or tag to a chapter, where an
explanation or amplification may seem necessary. I fear that the long
and hard names will often make my tales tedious reading, but I believe
that those who will bear with the difficulty will learn more of the
character of the Japanese people than by skimming over descriptions of
travel and adventure, however brilliant. The lord and his retainer,
the warrior and the priest, the humble artisan and the despised Eta or
pariah, each in his turn will become a leading character in my budget
of stories; and it is out of the mouths of these personages that I
hope to show forth a tolerably complete picture of Japanese society.

Having said so much by way of preface, I beg my readers to fancy
themselves wafted away to the shores of the Bay of Yedo--a fair,
smiling landscape: gentle slopes, crested by a dark fringe of pines
and firs, lead down to the sea; the quaint eaves of many a temple and
holy shrine peep out here and there from the groves; the bay itself is
studded with picturesque fisher-craft, the torches of which shine by
night like glow-worms among the outlying forts; far away to the west
loom the goblin-haunted heights of Oyama, and beyond the twin hills of
the Hakoné Pass--Fuji-Yama, the Peerless Mountain, solitary and grand,
stands in the centre of the plain, from which it sprang vomiting
flames twenty-one centuries ago.[1] For a hundred and sixty years the
huge mountain has been at peace, but the frequent earthquakes still
tell of hidden fires, and none can say when the red-hot stones and
ashes may once more fall like rain over five provinces.

In the midst of a nest of venerable trees in Takanawa, a suburb of
Yedo, is hidden Sengakuji, or the Spring-hill Temple, renowned
throughout the length and breadth of the land for its cemetery, which
contains the graves of the Forty-seven. Rônins,[2] famous in Japanese
history, heroes of Japanese drama, the tale of whose deeds I am about
to transcribe.

On the left-hand side of the main court of the temple is a chapel, in
which, surmounted by a gilt figure of Kwanyin, the goddess of mercy,
are enshrined the images of the forty-seven men, and of the master
whom they loved so well. The statues are carved in wood, the faces
coloured, and the dresses richly lacquered; as works of art they have
great merit--the action of the heroes, each armed with his favourite
weapon, being wonderfully life-like and spirited. Some are venerable
men, with thin, grey hair (one is seventy-seven years old); others are
mere boys of sixteen. Close by the chapel, at the side of a path
leading up the hill, is a little well of pure water, fenced in and
adorned with a tiny fernery, over which is an inscription, setting
forth that "This is the well in which the head was washed; you must
not wash your hands or your feet here." A little further on is a
stall, at which a poor old man earns a pittance by selling books,
pictures, and medals, commemorating the loyalty of the Forty-seven;
and higher up yet, shaded by a grove of stately trees, is a neat
inclosure, kept up, as a signboard announces, by voluntary
contributions, round which are ranged forty-eight little tombstones,
each decked with evergreens, each with its tribute of water and
incense for the comfort of the departed spirit. There were forty-seven
Rônins; there are forty-eight tombstones, and the story of the
forty-eighth is truly characteristic of Japanese ideas of honour.
Almost touching the rail of the graveyard is a more imposing monument
under which lies buried the lord, whose death his followers piously

[Footnote 1: According to Japanese tradition, in the fifth year of the
Emperor Kôrei (286 B.C.), the earth opened in the province of Omi,
near Kiôto, and Lake Biwa, sixty miles long by about eighteen broad,
was formed in the shape of a _Biwa_, or four-stringed lute, from which
it takes its name. At the same time, to compensate for the depression
of the earth, but at a distance of over three hundred miles from the
lake, rose Fuji-Yama, the last eruption of which was in the year 1707.
The last great earthquake at Yedo took place about fifteen years ago.
Twenty thousand souls are said to have perished in it, and the dead
were carried away and buried by cartloads; many persons, trying to
escape from their falling and burning houses, were caught in great
clefts, which yawned suddenly in the earth, and as suddenly closed
upon the victims, crushing them to death. For several days heavy
shocks continued to be felt, and the people camped out, not daring to
return to such houses as had been spared, nor to build up those which
lay in ruins.]

[Footnote 2: The word _Rônin_ means, literally, a "wave-man"; one who
is tossed about hither and thither, as a wave of the sea. It is used
to designate persons of gentle blood, entitled to bear arms, who,
having become separated from their feudal lords by their own act, or
by dismissal, or by fate, wander about the country in the capacity of
somewhat disreputable knights-errant, without ostensible means of
living, in some cases offering themselves for hire to new masters, in
others supporting themselves by pillage; or who, falling a grade in
the social scale, go into trade, and become simple wardsmen. Sometimes
it happens that for political reasons a man will become Rônin, in
order that his lord may not be implicated in some deed of blood in
which he is about to engage. Sometimes, also, men become Rônins, and
leave their native place for a while, until some scrape in which they
have become entangled shall have blown over; after which they return
to their former allegiance. Nowadays it is not unusual for men to
become Rônins for a time, and engage themselves in the service of
foreigners at the open ports, even in menial capacities, in the hope
that they may pick up something of the language and lore of Western
folks. I know instances of men of considerable position who have
adopted this course in their zeal for education.]

And now for the story.

At the beginning of the eighteenth century there lived a daimio,
called Asano Takumi no Kami, the Lord of the castle of Akô, in the
province of Harima. Now it happened that an Imperial ambassador from
the Court of the Mikado having been sent to the Shogun[3] at Yedo,
Takumi no Kami and another noble called Kamei Sama were appointed to
receive and feast the envoy; and a high official, named Kira Kôtsuké
no Suké, was named to teach them the proper ceremonies to be observed
upon the occasion. The two nobles were accordingly forced to go daily
to the castle to listen to the instructions of Kôtsuké no Suké. But
this Kôtsuké no Suké was a man greedy of money; and as he deemed that
the presents which the two daimios, according to time-honoured custom,
had brought him in return for his instruction were mean and unworthy,
he conceived a great hatred against them, and took no pains in
teaching them, but on the contrary rather sought to make
laughing-stocks of them. Takumi no Kami, restrained by a stern sense
of duty, bore his insults with patience; but Kamei Sama, who had less
control over his temper, was violently incensed, and determined to
kill Kôtsuké no Suké.

[Footnote 3: The full title of the Tycoon was Sei-i-tai-Shogun,
"Barbarian-repressing Commander-in-chief." The style Tai Kun, Great
Prince, was borrowed, in order to convey the idea of sovereignty to
foreigners, at the time of the conclusion of the Treaties. The envoys
sent by the Mikado from Kiôto to communicate to the Shogun the will of
his sovereign were received with Imperial honours, and the duty of
entertaining them was confided to nobles of rank. The title
Sei-i-tai-Shogun was first borne by Minamoto no Yoritomo, in the
seventh month of the year A.D. 1192.]


One night when his duties at the castle were ended, Kamei Sama
returned to his own palace, and having summoned his councillors[4] to
a secret conference, said to them: "Kôtsuké no Suké has insulted
Takumi no Kami and myself during our service in attendance on the
Imperial envoy. This is against all decency, and I was minded to kill
him on the spot; but I bethought me that if I did such a deed within
the precincts of the castle, not only would my own life be forfeit,
but my family and vassals would be ruined: so I stayed my hand. Still
the life of such a wretch is a sorrow to the people, and to-morrow
when I go to Court I will slay him: my mind is made up, and I will
listen to no remonstrance." And as he spoke his face became livid with

[Footnote 4: Councillor, lit. "elder." The councillors of daimios were
of two classes: the _Karô_, or "elder," an hereditary office, held by
cadets of the Prince's family, and the _Yônin_, or "man of business,"
who was selected on account of his merits. These "councillors" play no
mean part in Japanese history.]

Now one of Kamei Sama's councillors was a man of great judgment, and
when he saw from his lord's manner that remonstrance would be useless,
he said: "Your lordship's words are law; your servant will make all
preparations accordingly; and to-morrow, when your lordship goes to
Court, if this Kôtsuké no Suké should again be insolent, let him die
the death." And his lord was pleased at this speech, and waited with
impatience for the day to break, that he might return to Court and
kill his enemy.

But the councillor went home, and was sorely troubled, and thought
anxiously about what his prince had said. And as he reflected, it
occurred to him that since Kôtsuké no Suké had the reputation of being
a miser he would certainly be open to a bribe, and that it was better
to pay any sum, no matter how great, than that his lord and his house
should be ruined. So he collected all the money he could, and, giving
it to his servants to carry, rode off in the night to Kôtsuké no
Suké's palace, and said to his retainers: "My master, who is now in
attendance upon the Imperial envoy, owes much thanks to my Lord
Kôtsuké no Suké, who has been at so great pains to teach him the
proper ceremonies to be observed during the reception of the Imperial
envoy. This is but a shabby present which he has sent by me, but he
hopes that his lordship will condescend to accept it, and commends
himself to his lordship's favour." And, with these words, he produced
a thousand ounces of silver for Kôtsuké no Suké, and a hundred ounces
to be distributed among his retainers.

When the latter saw the money their eyes sparkled with pleasure, and
they were profuse in their thanks; and begging the councillor to wait
a little, they went and told their master of the lordly present which
had arrived with a polite message from Kamei Sama. Kôtsuké no Suké in
eager delight sent for the councillor into an inner chamber, and,
after thanking him, promised on the morrow to instruct his master
carefully in all the different points of etiquette. So the councillor,
seeing the miser's glee, rejoiced at the success of his plan; and
having taken his leave returned home in high spirits. But Kamei Sama,
little thinking how his vassal had propitiated his enemy, lay brooding
over his vengeance, and on the following morning at daybreak went to
Court in solemn procession.

When Kôtsuké no Suké met him his manner had completely changed, and
nothing could exceed his courtesy. "You have come early to Court this
morning, my Lord Kamei," said he. "I cannot sufficiently admire your
zeal. I shall have the honour to call your attention to several points
of etiquette to-day. I must beg your lordship to excuse my previous
conduct, which must have seemed very rude; but I am naturally of a
cross-grained disposition, so I pray you to forgive me." And as he
kept on humbling himself and making fair speeches, the heart of Kamei
Sama was gradually softened, and he renounced his intention of killing
him. Thus by the cleverness of his councillor was Kamei Sama, with all
his house, saved from ruin.

Shortly after this, Takumi no Kami, who had sent no present, arrived
at the castle, and Kôtsuké no Suké turned him into ridicule even more
than before, provoking him with sneers and covert insults; but Takumi
no Kami affected to ignore all this, and submitted himself patiently
to Kôtsuké no Suké's orders.

This conduct, so far from producing a good effect, only made Kôtsuké
no Suké despise him the more, until at last he said haughtily: "Here,
my Lord of Takumi, the ribbon of my sock has come untied; be so good
as to tie it up for me."

Takumi no Kami, although burning with rage at the affront, still
thought that as he was on duty he was bound to obey, and tied up the
ribbon of the sock. Then Kôtsuké no Suké, turning from him, petulantly
exclaimed: "Why, how clumsy you are! You cannot so much as tie up the
ribbon of a sock properly! Any one can see that you are a boor from
the country, and know nothing of the manners of Yedo." And with a
scornful laugh he moved towards an inner room.

But the patience of Takumi no Kami was exhausted; this last insult was
more than he could bear.

"Stop a moment, my lord," cried he.

"Well, what is it?" replied the other. And, as he turned round, Takumi
no Kami drew his dirk, and aimed a blow at his head; but Kôtsuké no
Suké, being protected by the Court cap which he wore, the wound was
but a scratch, so he ran away; and Takumi no Kami, pursuing him, tried
a second time to cut him down, but, missing his aim, struck his dirk
into a pillar. At this moment an officer, named Kajikawa Yosobei,
seeing the affray, rushed up, and holding back the infuriated noble,
gave Kôtsuké no Suké time to make good his escape.

Then there arose a great uproar and confusion, and Takumi no Kami was
arrested and disarmed, and confined in one of the apartments of the
palace under the care of the censors. A council was held, and the
prisoner was given over to the safeguard of a daimio, called Tamura
Ukiyô no Daibu, who kept him in close custody in his own house, to
the great grief of his wife and of his retainers; and when the
deliberations of the council were completed, it was decided that, as
he had committed an outrage and attacked another man within the
precincts of the palace, he must perform _hara-kiri_,--that is, commit
suicide by disembowelling; his goods must be confiscated, and his
family ruined. Such was the law. So Takumi no Kami performed
_hara-kiri_, his castle of Akô was confiscated, and his retainers
having become Rônins, some of them took service with other daimios,
and others became merchants.

Now amongst these retainers was his principal councillor, a man called
Oishi Kuranosuké, who, with forty-six other faithful dependants,
formed a league to avenge their master's death by killing Kôtsuké no
Suké. This Oishi Kuranosuké was absent at the castle of Akô at the
time of the affray, which, had he been with his prince, would never
have occurred; for, being a wise man, he would not have failed to
propitiate Kôtsuké no Suké by sending him suitable presents; while the
councillor who was in attendance on the prince at Yedo was a dullard,
who neglected this precaution, and so caused the death of his master
and the ruin of his house.

So Oishi Kuranosuké and his forty-six companions began to lay their
plans of vengeance against Kôtsuké no Suké; but the latter was so well
guarded by a body of men lent to him by a daimio called Uyésugi Sama,
whose daughter he had married, that they saw that the only way of
attaining their end would be to throw their enemy off his guard. With
this object they separated and disguised themselves, some as
carpenters or craftsmen, others as merchants; and their chief,
Kuranosuké, went to Kiôto, and built a house in the quarter called
Yamashina, where he took to frequenting houses of the worst repute,
and gave himself up to drunkenness and debauchery, as if nothing were
further from his mind than revenge. Kôtsuké no Suké, in the meanwhile,
suspecting that Takumi no Kami's former retainers would be scheming
against his life, secretly sent spies to Kiôto, and caused a faithful
account to be kept of all that Kuranosuké did. The latter, however,
determined thoroughly to delude the enemy into a false security, went
on leading a dissolute life with harlots and winebibbers. One day, as
he was returning home drunk from some low haunt, he fell down in the
street and went to sleep, and all the passers-by laughed him to scorn.
It happened that a Satsuma man saw this, and said: "Is not this Oishi
Kuranosuké, who was a councillor of Asano Takumi no Kami, and who, not
having the heart to avenge his lord, gives himself up to women and
wine? See how he lies drunk in the public street! Faithless beast!
Fool and craven! Unworthy the name of a Samurai!"[5]

[Footnote 5: _Samurai_, a man belonging to the _Buké_ or military
class, entitled to bear arms.]


And he trod on Kuranosuké's face as he slept, and spat upon him; but
when Kôtsuké no Suké's spies reported all this at Yedo, he was greatly
relieved at the news, and felt secure from danger.

One day Kuranosuké's wife, who was bitterly grieved to see her husband
lead this abandoned life, went to him and said: "My lord, you told me
at first that your debauchery was but a trick to make your enemy relax
in watchfulness. But indeed, indeed, this has gone too far. I pray and
beseech you to put some restraint upon yourself."

"Trouble me not," replied Kuranosuké, "for I will not listen to your
whining. Since my way of life is displeasing to you, I will divorce
you, and you may go about your business; and I will buy some pretty
young girl from one of the public-houses, and marry her for my
pleasure. I am sick of the sight of an old woman like you about the
house, so get you gone--the sooner the better."

So saying, he flew into a violent rage, and his wife, terror-stricken,
pleaded piteously for mercy.

"Oh, my lord! unsay those terrible words! I have been your faithful
wife for twenty years, and have borne you three children; in sickness
and in sorrow I have been with you; you cannot be so cruel as to turn
me out of doors now. Have pity! have pity!"

"Cease this useless wailing. My mind is made up, and you must go; and
as the children are in my way also, you are welcome to take them with

When she heard her husband speak thus, in her grief she sought her
eldest son, Oishi Chikara, and begged him to plead for her, and pray
that she might be pardoned. But nothing would turn Kuranosuké from his
purpose, so his wife was sent away, with the two younger children, and
went back to her native place. But Oishi Chikara remained with his

The spies communicated all this without fail to Kôtsuké no Suké, and
he, when he heard how Kuranosuké, having turned his wife and children
out of doors and bought a concubine, was grovelling in a life of
drunkenness and lust, began to think that he had no longer anything to
fear from the retainers of Takumi no Kami, who must be cowards,
without the courage to avenge their lord. So by degrees he began to
keep a less strict watch, and sent back half of the guard which had
been lent to him by his father-in-law, Uyésugi Sama. Little did he
think how he was falling into the trap laid for him by Kuranosuké,
who, in his zeal to slay his lord's enemy, thought nothing of
divorcing his wife and sending away his children! Admirable and
faithful man!

In this way Kuranosuké continued to throw dust in the eyes of his foe,
by persisting in his apparently shameless conduct; but his associates
all went to Yedo, and, having in their several capacities as workmen
and pedlars contrived to gain access to Kôtsuké no Suké's house, made
themselves familiar with the plan of the building and the arrangement
of the different rooms, and ascertained the character of the inmates,
who were brave and loyal men, and who were cowards; upon all of which
matters they sent regular reports to Kuranosuké. And when at last it
became evident from the letters which arrived from Yedo that Kôtsuké
no Suké was thoroughly off his guard, Kuranosuké rejoiced that the day
of vengeance was at hand; and, having appointed a trysting-place at
Yedo, he fled secretly from Kiôto, eluding the vigilance of his
enemy's spies. Then the forty-seven men, having laid all their plans,
bided their time patiently.

It was now midwinter, the twelfth month of the year, and the cold was
bitter. One night, during a heavy fall of snow, when the whole world
was hushed, and peaceful men were stretched in sleep upon the mats,
the Rônins determined that no more favourable opportunity could occur
for carrying out their purpose. So they took counsel together, and,
having divided their band into two parties, assigned to each man his
post. One band, led by Oishi Kuranosuké, was to attack the front gate,
and the other, under his son Oishi Chikara, was to attack the postern
of Kôtsuké no Suké's house; but as Chikara was only sixteen years of
age, Yoshida Chiuzayémon was appointed to act as his guardian. Further
it was arranged that a drum, beaten at the order of Kuranosuké, should
be the signal for the simultaneous attack; and that if any one slew
Kôtsuké no Suké and cut off his head he should blow a shrill whistle,
as a signal to his comrades, who would hurry to the spot, and, having
identified the head, carry it off to the temple called Sengakuji, and
lay it as an offering before the tomb of their dead lord. Then they
must report their deed to the Government, and await the sentence of
death which would surely be passed upon them. To this the Rônins one
and all pledged themselves. Midnight was fixed upon as the hour, and
the forty-seven comrades, having made all ready for the attack,
partook of a last farewell feast together, for on the morrow they must
die. Then Oishi Kuranosuké addressed the band, and said--

"To-night we shall attack our enemy in his palace; his retainers will
certainly resist us, and we shall be obliged to kill them. But to slay
old men and women and children is a pitiful thing; therefore, I pray
you each one to take great heed lest you kill a single helpless
person." His comrades all applauded this speech, and so they remained,
waiting for the hour of midnight to arrive.

When the appointed hour came, the Rônins set forth. The wind howled
furiously, and the driving snow beat in their faces; but little cared
they for wind or snow as they hurried on their road, eager for
revenge. At last they reached Kôtsuké no Suké's house, and divided
themselves into two bands; and Chikara, with twenty-three men, went
round to the back gate. Then four men, by means of a ladder of ropes
which they hung on to the roof of the porch, effected an entry into
the courtyard; and, as they saw signs that all the inmates of the
house were asleep, they went into the porter's lodge where the guard
slept, and, before the latter had time to recover from their
astonishment, bound them. The terrified guard prayed hard for mercy,
that their lives might be spared; and to this the Rônins agreed on
condition that the keys of the gate should be given up; but the others
tremblingly said that the keys were kept in the house of one of their
officers, and that they had no means of obtaining them. Then the
Rônins lost patience, and with a hammer dashed in pieces the big
wooden bolt which secured the gate, and the doors flew open to the
right and to the left. At the same time Chikara and his party broke in
by the back gate.

Then Oishi Kuranosuké sent a messenger to the neighbouring houses,
bearing the following message:--"We, the Rônins who were formerly in
the service of Asano Takumi no Kami, are this night about to break
into the palace of Kôtsuké no Suké, to avenge our lord. As we are
neither night robbers nor ruffians, no hurt will be done to the
neighbouring houses. We pray you to set your minds at rest." And as
Kôtsuké no Suké was hated by his neighbours for his covetousness, they
did not unite their forces to assist him. Another precaution was yet
taken. Lest any of the people inside should run out to call the
relations of the family to the rescue, and these coming in force
should interfere with the plans of the Rônins, Kuranosuké stationed
ten of his men armed with bows on the roof of the four sides of the
courtyard, with orders to shoot any retainers who might attempt to
leave the place. Having thus laid all his plans and posted his men,
Kuranosuké with his own hand beat the drum and gave the signal for

Ten of Kôtsuké no Suké's retainers, hearing the noise, woke up; and,
drawing their swords, rushed into the front room to defend their
master. At this moment the Rônins, who had burst open the door of the
front hall, entered the same room. Then arose a furious fight between
the two parties, in the midst of which Chikara, leading his men
through the garden, broke into the back of the house; and Kôtsuké no
Suké, in terror of his life, took refuge, with his wife and female
servants, in a closet in the verandah; while the rest of his
retainers, who slept in the barrack outside the house, made ready to
go to the rescue. But the Rônins who had come in by the front door,
and were fighting with the ten retainers, ended by overpowering and
slaying the latter without losing one of their own number; after
which, forcing their way bravely towards the back rooms, they were
joined by Chikara and his men, and the two bands were united in one.

By this time the remainder of Kôtsuké no Suké's men had come in, and
the fight became general; and Kuranosuké, sitting on a camp-stool,
gave his orders and directed the Rônins. Soon the inmates of the house
perceived that they were no match for their enemy, so they tried to
send out intelligence of their plight to Uyésugi Sama, their lord's
father-in-law, begging him to come to the rescue with all the force
at his command. But the messengers were shot down by the archers whom
Kuranosuké had posted on the roof. So no help coming, they fought on
in despair. Then Kuranosuké cried out with a loud voice: "Kôtsuké no
Suké alone is our enemy; let some one go inside and bring him forth.
dead or alive!"

Now in front of Kôtsuké no Suké's private room stood three brave
retainers with drawn swords. The first was Kobayashi Héhachi, the
second was Waku Handaiyu, and the third was Shimidzu Ikkaku, all good
men and true, and expert swordsmen. So stoutly did these men lay about
them that for a while they kept the whole of the Rônins at bay, and at
one moment even forced them back. When Oishi Kuranosuké saw this, he
ground his teeth with rage, and shouted to his men: "What! did not
every man of you swear to lay down his life in avenging his lord, and
now are you driven back by three men? Cowards, not fit to be spoken
to! to die fighting in a master's cause should be the noblest ambition
of a retainer!" Then turning to his own son Chikara, he said, "Here,
boy! engage those men, and if they are too strong for you, die!"

Spurred by these words, Chikara seized a spear and gave battle to Waku
Handaiyu, but could not hold his ground, and backing by degrees, was
driven out into the garden, where he missed his footing and slipped
into a pond, but as Handaiyu, thinking to kill him, looked down into
the pond, Chikara cut his enemy in the leg and caused him to fall, and
then, crawling out of the water dispatched him. In the meanwhile
Kobayashi Héhachi and Shimidzu Ikkaku had been killed by the other
Rônins, and of all Kôtsuké no Suké's retainers not one fighting man
remained. Chikara, seeing this, went with his bloody sword in his hand
into a back room to search for Kôtsuké no Suké, but he only found the
son of the latter, a young lord named Kira Sahioyé, who, carrying a
halberd, attacked him, but was soon wounded and fled. Thus the whole
of Kôtsuké no Suké's men having been killed, there was an end of the
fighting; but as yet there was no trace of Kôtsuké no Suké to be

Then Kuranosuké divided his men into several parties and searched the
whole house, but all in vain; women and children weeping were alone to
be seen. At this the forty-seven men began to lose heart in regret,
that after all their toil they had allowed their enemy to escape them,
and there was a moment when in their despair they agreed to commit
suicide together upon the spot; but they determined to make one more
effort. So Kuranosuké went into Kôtsuké no Suké's sleeping-room, and
touching the quilt with his hands, exclaimed, "I have just felt the
bed-clothes and they are yet warm, and so methinks that our enemy is
not far off. He must certainly be hidden somewhere in the house."
Greatly excited by this, the Rônins renewed their search. Now in the
raised part of the room, near the place of honour, there was a picture
hanging; taking down this picture, they saw that there was a large
hole in the plastered wall, and on thrusting a spear in they could
feel nothing beyond it. So one of the Rônins, called Yazama Jiutarô,
got into the hole, and found that on the other side there was a little
courtyard, in which there stood an outhouse for holding charcoal and
firewood. Looking into the outhouse, he spied something white at the
further end, at which he struck with his spear, when two armed men
sprang out upon him and tried to cut him down, but he kept them back
until one of his comrades came up and killed one of the two men and
engaged the other, while Jiutarô entered the outhouse and felt about
with his spear. Again seeing something white, he struck it with his
lance, when a cry of pain betrayed that it was a man; so he rushed up,
and the man in white clothes, who had been wounded in the thigh, drew
a dirk and aimed a blow at him. But Jiutarô wrested the dirk from him,
and clutching him by the collar, dragged him out of the outhouse. Then
the other Rônin came up, and they examined the prisoner attentively,
and saw that he was a noble-looking man, some sixty years of age,
dressed in a white satin sleeping-robe, which was stained by the blood
from the thigh-wound which, Jiutarô had inflicted. The two men felt
convinced that this was no other than Kôtsuké no Suké, and they asked
him his name, but he gave no answer, so they gave the signal whistle,
and all their comrades collected together at the call; then Oishi
Kuranosuké, bringing a lantern, scanned the old man's features, and it
was indeed Kôtsuké no Suké; and if further proof were wanting, he
still bore a scar on his forehead where their master, Asano Takumi no
Kami, had wounded him during the affray in the castle. There being no
possibility of mistake, therefore, Oishi Kuranosuké went down on his
knees, and addressing the old man very respectfully, said--

"My lord, we are the retainers of Asano Takumi no Kami. Last year your
lordship and our master quarrelled in the palace, and our master was
sentenced to _hara-kiri,_ and his family was ruined. We have come
to-night to avenge him, as is the duty of faithful and loyal men. I
pray your lordship to acknowledge the justice of our purpose. And now,
my lord, we beseech you to perform _hara-kiri_. I myself shall have
the honour to act as your second, and when, with all humility, I shall
have received your lordship's head, it is my intention to lay it as an
offering upon the grave of Asano Takumi no Kami."

Thus, in consideration of the high rank of Kôtsuké no Suké, the Rônins
treated him with the greatest courtesy, and over and over again
entreated him to perform _hara-kiri._ But he crouched speechless and
trembling. At last Kuranosuké, seeing that it was vain to urge him to
die the death of a nobleman, forced him down, and cut off his head
with the same dirk with which Asano Takumi no Kami had killed himself.
Then the forty-seven comrades, elated at having accomplished their
design, placed the head in a bucket, and prepared to depart; but
before leaving the house they carefully extinguished all the lights
and fires in the place, lest by any accident a fire should break out
and the neighbours suffer.

As they were on their way to Takanawa, the suburb in which the temple
called Sengakuji stands, the day broke; and the people flocked out to
see the forty-seven men, who, with their clothes and arms all
blood-stained, presented a terrible appearance; and every one praised
them, wondering at their valour and faithfulness. But they expected
every moment that Kôtsuké no Suké's father-in-law would attack them
and carry off the head, and made ready to die bravely sword in hand.
However, they reached Takanawa in safety, for Matsudaira Aki no Kami,
one of the eighteen chief daimios of Japan, of whose house Asano
Takumi no Kami had been a cadet, had been highly pleased when he heard
of the last night's work, and he had made ready to assist the Rônins
in case they were attacked. So Kôtsuké no Suké's father-in-law dared
not pursue them.

At about seven in the morning they came opposite to the palace of
Matsudaira Mutsu no Kami, the Prince of Sendai, and the Prince,
hearing of it, sent for one of his councillors and said: "The
retainers of Takumi no Kami have slain their lord's enemy, and are
passing this way; I cannot sufficiently admire their devotion, so, as
they must be tired and hungry after their night's work, do you go and
invite them to come in here, and set some gruel and a cup of wine
before them."

So the councillor went out and said to Oishi Kuranosuké: "Sir, I am a
councillor of the Prince of Sendai, and my master bids me beg you, as
you must be worn out after all you have undergone, to come in and
partake of such poor refreshment as we can offer you. This is my
message to you from my lord."

"I thank you, sir," replied Kuranosuké. "It is very good of his
lordship to trouble himself to think of us. We shall accept his
kindness gratefully."

So the forty-seven Rônins went into the palace, and were feasted with
gruel and wine, and all the retainers of the Prince of Sendai came and
praised them.

Then Kuranosuké turned to the councillor and said, "Sir, we are truly
indebted to you for this kind hospitality; but as we have still to
hurry to Sengakuji, we must needs humbly take our leave." And, after
returning many thanks to their hosts, they left the palace of the
Prince of Sendai and hastened to Sengakuji, where they were met by the
abbot of the monastery, who went to the front gate to receive them,
and led them to the tomb of Takumi no Kami.

And when they came to their lord's grave, they took the head of
Kôtsuké no Suké, and having washed it clean in a well hard by, laid it
as an offering before the tomb. When they had done this, they engaged
the priests of the temple to come and read prayers while they burnt
incense: first Oishi Kuranosuké burnt incense, and then his son Oishi
Chikara, and after them the other forty-five men performed the same
ceremony. Then Kuranosuké, having given all the money that he had by
him to the abbot, said--

"When we forty-seven men shall have performed _hara-kiri_, I beg you
to bury us decently. I rely upon your kindness. This is but a trifle
that I have to offer; such as it is, let it be spent in masses for our

And the abbot, marvelling at the faithful courage of the men, with
tears in his eyes pledged himself to fulfil their wishes. So the
forty-seven Rônins, with their minds at rest, waited patiently until
they should receive the orders of the Government.

At last they were summoned to the Supreme Court, where the governors
of Yedo and the public censors had assembled; and the sentence passed
upon them was as follows: "Whereas, neither respecting the dignity of
the city nor fearing the Government, having leagued yourselves
together to slay your enemy, you violently broke into the house of
Kira Kôtsuké no Suké by night and murdered him, the sentence of the
Court is, that, for this audacious conduct, you perform _hara-kiri_."
When the sentence had been read, the forty-seven Rônins were divided
into four parties, and handed over to the safe keeping of four
different daimios; and sheriffs were sent to the palaces of those
daimios in whose presence the Rônins were made to perform _hara-kiri_.
But, as from the very beginning they had all made up their minds that
to this end they must come, they met their death nobly; and their
corpses were carried to Sengakuji, and buried in front of the tomb of
their master, Asano Takumi no Kami. And when the fame of this became
noised abroad, the people flocked to pray at the graves of these
faithful men.

[Illustration: THE TOMBS OF THE RÔNINS.]

Among those who came to pray was a Satsuma man, who, prostrating
himself before the grave of Oishi Kuranosuké, said: "When I saw you
lying drunk by the roadside at Yamashina, in Kiôto, I knew not that
you were plotting to avenge your lord; and, thinking you to be a
faithless man, I trampled on you and spat in your face as I passed.
And now I have come to ask pardon and offer atonement for the insult
of last year." With those words he prostrated himself again before the
grave, and, drawing a dirk from his girdle, stabbed himself in the
belly and died. And the chief priest of the temple, taking pity upon
him, buried him by the side of the Rônins; and his tomb still remains
to be seen with those of the forty-seven comrades.

This is the end of the story of the forty-seven Rônins.

       *       *       *       *       *

A terrible picture of fierce heroism which it is impossible not to
admire. In the Japanese mind this feeling of admiration is unmixed,
and hence it is that the forty-seven Rônins receive almost divine
honours. Pious hands still deck their graves with green boughs and
burn incense upon them; the clothes and arms which they wore are
preserved carefully in a fire-proof store-house attached to the
temple, and exhibited yearly to admiring crowds, who behold them
probably with little less veneration than is accorded to the relics of
Aix-la-Chapelle or Trèves; and once in sixty years the monks of
Sengakuji reap quite a harvest for the good of their temple by holding
a commemorative fair or festival, to which the people flock during
nearly two months.

A silver key once admitted me to a private inspection of the relics.
We were ushered, my friend and myself, into a back apartment of the
spacious temple, overlooking one of those marvellous miniature
gardens, cunningly adorned with rockeries and dwarf trees, in which
the Japanese delight. One by one, carefully labelled and indexed boxes
containing the precious articles were brought out and opened by the
chief priest. Such a curious medley of old rags and scraps of metal
and wood! Home-made chain armour, composed of wads of leather secured
together by pieces of iron, bear witness to the secrecy with which the
Rônins made ready for the fight. To have bought armour would have
attracted attention, so they made it with their own hands. Old
moth-eaten surcoats, bits of helmets, three flutes, a writing-box that
must have been any age at the time of the tragedy, and is now tumbling
to pieces; tattered trousers of what once was rich silk brocade, now
all unravelled and befringed; scraps of leather, part of an old
gauntlet, crests and badges, bits of sword handles, spear-heads and
dirks, the latter all red with rust, but with certain patches more
deeply stained as if the fatal clots of blood were never to be blotted
out: all these were reverently shown to us. Among the confusion and
litter were a number of documents, Yellow with age and much worn at
the folds. One was a plan of Kôtsuké no Suké's house, which one of
the Rônins obtained by marrying the daughter of the builder who
designed it. Three of the manuscripts appeared to me so curious that I
obtained leave to have copies taken of them.

The first is the receipt given by the retainers of Kôtsuké no Suké's
son in return for the head of their lord's father, which the priests
restored to the family, and runs as follows:--

  The above articles are acknowledged to have been received.
               Signed, { SAYADA MAGOBELI.  (_Loc. sigill._)
                       { SAITÔ KUNAI.      (_Loc. sigill._)

  "To the priests deputed from the Temple Sengakuji,
      His Reverence SEKISHI,
      His Reverence ICHIDON."

The second paper is a document explanatory of their conduct, a copy of
which was found on the person of each of the forty-seven men:--

   "Last year, in the third month, Asano Takumi no Kami, upon the
   occasion of the entertainment of the Imperial ambassador, was
   driven, by the force of circumstances, to attack and wound my
   Lord Kôtsuké no Suké in the castle, in order to avenge an
   insult offered to him. Having done this without considering the
   dignity of the place, and having thus disregarded all rules of
   propriety, he was condemned to _hara-kiri,_ and his property
   and castle of Akô were forfeited to the State, and were
   delivered up by his retainers to the officers deputed by the
   Shogun to receive them. After this his followers were all
   dispersed. At the time of the quarrel the high officials
   present prevented Asano Takumi no Kami from carrying out his
   intention of killing his enemy, my Lord Kôtsuké no Suké. So
   Asano Takumi no Kami died without having avenged himself, and
   this was more than his retainers could endure. It is impossible
   to remain under the same heaven with the enemy of lord or
   father; for this reason we have dared to declare enmity against
   a personage of so exalted rank. This day we shall attack Kira
   Kôtsuké no Suké, in order to finish the deed of vengeance which
   was begun by our dead lord. If any honourable person should
   find our bodies after death, he is respectfully requested to
   open and read this document.

   "15th year of Genroku. 12th month.

   "Signed, OISHI KURANOSUKÉ, Retainer of Asano
   Takumi no Kami, and forty-six others."[6]

[Footnote 6: It is usual for a Japanese, when bent upon some deed of
violence, the end of which, in his belief, justifies the means, to
carry about with him a document, such as that translated above, in
which he sets forth his motives, that his character may be cleared
after death.]

The third manuscript is a paper which the Forty-seven Rônins laid upon
the tomb of their master, together with the head of Kira Kôtsuké no

   "The 15th year of Genroku, the 12th month, and 15th day. We
   have come this day to do homage here, forty-seven men in all,
   from Oishi Kuranosuké down to the foot-soldier, Terasaka
   Kichiyémon, all cheerfully about to lay down our lives on your
   behalf. We reverently announce this to the honoured spirit of
   our dead master. On the 14th day of the third month of last
   year our honoured master was pleased to attack Kira Kôtsuké no
   Suké, for what reason we know not. Our honoured master put an
   end to his own life, but Kira Kôtsuké no Suké lived. Although
   we fear that after the decree issued by the Government this
   plot of ours will be displeasing to our honoured master, still
   we, who have eaten of your food, could not without blushing
   repeat the verse, 'Thou shalt not live under the same heaven
   nor tread the same earth with the enemy of thy father or lord,'
   nor could we have dared to leave hell and present ourselves
   before you in paradise, unless we had carried out the vengeance
   which you began. Every day that we waited seemed as three
   autumns to us. Verily, we have trodden the snow for one day,
   nay, for two days, and have tasted food but once. The old and
   decrepit, the sick and ailing, have come forth gladly to lay
   down their lives. Men might laugh at us, as at grasshoppers
   trusting in the strength of their arms, and thus shame our
   honoured lord; but we could not halt in our deed of vengeance.
   Having taken counsel together last night, we have escorted my
   Lord Kôtsuké no Suké hither to your tomb. This dirk,[7] by
   which our honoured lord set great store last year, and
   entrusted to our care, we now bring back. If your noble spirit
   be now present before this tomb, we pray you, as a sign, to
   take the dirk, and, striking the head of your enemy with it a
   second time, to dispel your hatred for ever. This is the
   respectful statement of forty-seven men."

[Footnote 7: The dirk with which Asano Takumi no Kumi disembowelled
himself and with which Oishi Kuranosuké cut off Kôtsuké no Suké's

The text, "Thou shalt not live under the same heaven with the enemy of
thy father," is based upon the Confucian books. Dr. Legge, in his
"Life and Teachings of Confucius," p. 113, has an interesting
paragraph summing up the doctrine of the sage upon the subject of

   "In the second book of the 'Le Ke' there is the following
   passage:--'With the slayer of his father a man may not live
   under the same heaven; against the slayer of his brother a man
   must never have to go home to fetch a weapon; with the slayer
   of his friend a man may not live in the same State.' The _lex
   talionis_ is here laid down in its fullest extent. The 'Chow
   Le' tells us of a provision made against the evil consequences
   of the principle by the appointment of a minister called 'The
   Reconciler.' The provision is very inferior to the cities of
   refuge which were set apart by Moses for the manslayer to flee
   to from the fury of the avenger. Such as it was, however, it
   existed, and it is remarkable that Confucius, when consulted on
   the subject, took no notice of it, but affirmed the duty of
   blood-revenge in the strongest and most unrestricted terms. His
   disciple, Tsze Hea, asked him, 'What course is to be pursued in
   the murder of a father or mother?' He replied, 'The son must
   sleep upon a matting of grass with his shield for his pillow;
   he must decline to take office; he must not live under the same
   heaven with the slayer. When he meets him in the market-place
   or the court, he must have his weapon ready to strike him.'
   'And what is the course in the murder of a brother?' 'The
   surviving brother must not take office in the same State with
   the slayer; yet, if he go on his prince's service to the State
   where the slayer is, though he meet him, he must not fight with
   him.' 'And what is the course in the murder of an uncle or
   cousin?' 'In this case the nephew or cousin is not the
   principal. If the principal, on whom the revenge devolves, can
   take it, he has only to stand behind with his weapon in his
   hand, and support him.'"

I will add one anecdote to show the sanctity which is attached to the
graves of the Forty-seven. In the month of September 1868, a certain
man came to pray before the grave of Oishi Chikara. Having finished
his prayers, he deliberately performed _hara-kiri_,[8] and, the belly
wound not being mortal, dispatched himself by cutting his throat. Upon
his person were found papers setting forth that, being a Rônin and
without means of earning a living, he had petitioned to be allowed to
enter the clan of the Prince of Chôshiu, which he looked upon as the
noblest clan in the realm; his petition having been refused, nothing
remained for him but to die, for to be a Rônin was hateful to him, and
he would serve no other master than the Prince of Chôshiu: what more
fitting place could he find in which to put an end to his life than
the graveyard of these Braves? This happened at about two hundred
yards' distance from my house, and when I saw the spot an hour or two
later, the ground was all bespattered with blood, and disturbed by the
death-struggles of the man.

[Footnote 8: A purist in Japanese matters may object to the use of the
words _hara-kiri_ instead of the more elegant expression _Seppuku_. I
retain the more vulgar form as being better known, and therefore more


Within two miles or so from Yedo, and yet well away from the toil and
din of the great city, stands the village of Meguro. Once past the
outskirts of the town, the road leading thither is bounded on either
side by woodlands rich in an endless variety of foliage, broken at
intervals by the long, low line of villages and hamlets. As we draw
near to Meguro, the scenery, becoming more and more rustic, increases
in beauty. Deep shady lanes, bordered by hedgerows as luxurious as any
in England, lead down to a valley of rice fields bright with the
emerald green of the young crops. To the right and to the left rise
knolls of fantastic shape, crowned with a profusion of Cryptomerias,
Scotch firs and other cone-bearing trees, and fringed with thickets of
feathery bamboos, bending their stems gracefully to the light summer
breeze. Wherever there is a spot shadier and pleasanter to look upon
than the rest, there may be seen the red portal of a shrine which the
simple piety of the country folk has raised to Inari Sama, the patron
god of farming, or to some other tutelary deity of the place. At the
eastern outlet of the valley a strip of blue sea bounds the horizon;
westward are the distant mountains. In the foreground, in front of a
farmhouse, snug-looking, with its roof of velvety-brown thatch, a
troop of sturdy urchins, suntanned and stark naked, are frisking in
the wildest gambols, all heedless of the scolding voice of the
withered old grandam who sits spinning and minding the house, while
her son and his wife are away toiling at some outdoor labour. Close at
our feet runs a stream of pure water, in which a group of countrymen
are washing the vegetables which they will presently shoulder and
carry off to sell by auction in the suburbs of Yedo. Not the least
beauty of the scene consists in the wondrous clearness of an
atmosphere so transparent that the most distant outlines are scarcely
dimmed, while the details of the nearer ground stand out in sharp,
bold relief, now lit by the rays of a vertical sun, now darkened under
the flying shadows thrown by the fleecy clouds which sail across the
sky. Under such a heaven, what painter could limn the lights and
shades which flit over the woods, the pride of Japan, whether in late
autumn, when the russets and yellows of our own trees are mixed with
the deep crimson glow of the maples, or in spring-time, when plum and
cherry trees and wild camellias--giants, fifty feet high--are in full

All that we see is enchanting, but there is a strange stillness in the
groves; rarely does the song of a bird break the silence; indeed, I
know but one warbler whose note has any music in it, the _uguisu_, by
some enthusiasts called the Japanese nightingale--at best, a king in
the kingdom of the blind. The scarcity of animal life of all
descriptions, man and mosquitoes alone excepted, is a standing wonder
to the traveller; the sportsman must toil many a weary mile to get a
shot at boar, or deer, or pheasant; and the plough of the farmer and
the trap of the poacher, who works in and out of season, threaten to
exterminate all wild creatures; unless, indeed, the Government should,
as they threatened in the spring of 1869, put in force some adaptation
of European game-laws. But they are lukewarm in the matter; a little
hawking on a duck-pond satisfies the cravings of the modern Japanese
sportsman, who knows that, game-laws or no game-laws, the wild fowl
will never fail in winter; and the days are long past when my Lord the
Shogun used to ride forth with a mighty company to the wild places
about Mount Fuji, there camping out and hunting the boar, the deer,
and the wolf, believing that in so doing he was fostering a manly and
military spirit in the land.

There is one serious drawback to the enjoyment of the beauties of the
Japanese country, and that is the intolerable affront which is
continually offered to one's sense of smell; the whole of what should
form the sewerage of the city is carried out on the backs of men and
horses, to be thrown upon the fields; and, if you would avoid the
overpowering nuisance, you must walk handkerchief in hand, ready to
shut out the stench which assails you at every moment.

It would seem natural, while writing of the Japanese country, to say a
few words about the peasantry, their relation to the lord of the soil,
and their government. But these I must reserve for another place. At
present our dealings are with the pretty village of Meguro.

At the bottom of a little lane, close to the entrance of the village,
stands an old shrine of the Shintô (the form of hero-worship which
existed in Japan before the introduction of Confucianism or of
Buddhism), surrounded by lofty Cryptomerias. The trees around a Shintô
shrine are specially under the protection of the god to whom the altar
is dedicated; and, in connection with them, there is a kind of magic
still respected by the superstitious, which recalls the waxen dolls,
through the medium of which sorcerers of the middle ages in Europe,
and indeed those of ancient Greece, as Theocritus tells us, pretended
to kill the enemies of their clients. This is called _Ushi no toki
mairi,_ or "going to worship at the hour of the ox,"[9] and is
practised by jealous women who wish to be revenged upon their
faithless lovers.

[Footnote 9: The Chinese, and the Japanese following them, divide the
day of twenty-four hours into twelve periods, each of which has a sign
something like the signs of the Zodiac:--
  Midnight until two in the morning is represented by the rat.
    2 a.m.  "     4 a.m.          "            "          ox.
    4 a.m.  "     6 a.m.          "            "          tiger.
    6 a.m.  "     8 a.m.          "            "          hare.
    8 a.m.  "    10 a.m.          "            "          dragon.
   10 a.m.  "    12 noon          "            "          snake.
   12 noon  "     2 p.m.          "            "          horse.
    2 p.m.  "     4 p.m.          "            "          ram.
    4 p.m.  "     6 p.m.          "            "          ape.
    6 p.m.  "     8 p.m.          "            "          cock.
    8 p.m.  "    10 p.m.          "            "          hog.
   10 p.m.  "    Midnight         "            "          fox.]

When the world is at rest, at two in the morning, the hour of which
the ox is the symbol, the woman rises; she dons a white robe and high
sandals or clogs; her coif is a metal tripod, in which are thrust
three lighted candles; around her neck she hangs a mirror, which falls
upon her bosom; in her left hand she carries a small straw figure, the
effigy of the lover who has abandoned her, and in her right she grasps
a hammer and nails, with which she fastens the figure to one of the
sacred trees that surround the shrine. There she prays for the death
of the traitor, vowing that, if her petition be heard, she will
herself pull out the nails which now offend the god by wounding the
mystic tree. Night after night she comes to the shrine, and each night
she strikes in two or more nails, believing that every nail will
shorten her lover's life, for the god, to save his tree, will surely
strike him dead.

Meguro is one of the many places round Yedo to which the good citizens
flock for purposes convivial or religious, or both; hence it is that,
cheek by jowl with the old shrines and temples, you will find many a
pretty tea-house, standing at the rival doors of which Mesdemoiselles
Sugar, Wave of the Sea, Flower, Seashore, and Chrysanthemum are
pressing in their invitations to you to enter and rest. Not beautiful
these damsels, if judged by our standard, but the charm of Japanese
women lies in their manner and dainty little ways, and the tea-house
girl, being a professional decoy-duck, is an adept in the art of
flirting,--_en tout bien tout honneur_, be it remembered; for she is
not to be confounded with the frail beauties of the Yoshiwara, nor
even with her sisterhood near the ports open to foreigners, and to
their corrupting influence. For, strange as it seems, our contact all
over the East has an evil effect upon the natives.

In one of the tea-houses a thriving trade is carried on in the sale of
wooden tablets, some six inches square, adorned with the picture of a
pink cuttlefish on a bright blue ground. These are ex-votos, destined
to be offered up at the Temple of Yakushi Niurai, the Buddhist
Æsculapius, which stands opposite, and concerning the foundation of
which the following legend is told.

In the days of old there was a priest called Jikaku, who at the age of
forty years, it being the autumn of the tenth year of the period
called Tenchô (A.D. 833), was suffering from disease of the eyes,
which had attacked him three years before. In order to be healed from
this disease he carved a figure of Yakushi Niurai, to which he used
to offer up his prayers. Five years later he went to China, taking
with him the figure as his guardian saint, and at a place called
Kairetsu it protected him from robbers and wild beasts and from other
calamities. There he passed his time in studying the sacred laws both
hidden and revealed, and after nine years set sail to return to Japan.
When he was on the high seas a storm arose, and a great fish attacked
and tried to swamp the ship, so that the rudder and mast were broken,
and the nearest shore being that of a land inhabited by devils, to
retreat or to advance was equally dangerous. Then the holy man prayed
to the patron saint whose image he carried, and as he prayed, behold
the true Yakushi Niurai appeared in the centre of the ship, and said
to him--

"Verily, thou hast travelled far that the sacred laws might be
revealed for the salvation of many men; now, therefore, take my image,
which thou carriest in thy bosom, and cast it into the sea, that the
wind may abate, and that thou mayest be delivered from this land of

The commands of the saints must be obeyed, so with tears in his eyes,
the priest threw into the sea the sacred image which he loved. Then
did the wind abate, and the waves were stilled, and the ship went on
her course as though she were being drawn by unseen hands until she
reached a safe haven. In the tenth month of the same year the priest
again set sail, trusting to the power of his patron saint, and reached
the harbour of Tsukushi without mishap. For three years he prayed that
the image which he had cast away might be restored to him, until at
last one night he was warned in a dream that on the sea-shore at
Matsura Yakushi Niurai would appear to him. In consequence of this
dream he went to the province of Hizen, and landed on the sea-shore at
Hirato, where, in the midst of a blaze of light, the image which he
had carved appeared to him twice, riding on the back of a cuttlefish.
Thus was the image restored to the world by a miracle. In
commemoration of his recovery from the disease of the eyes and of his
preservation from the dangers of the sea, that these things might be
known to all posterity, the priest established the worship of Tako
Yakushi Niurai ("Yakushi Niurai of the Cuttlefish") and came to
Meguro, where he built the Temple of Fudô Sama,[10] another Buddhist
divinity. At this time there was an epidemic of small-pox in the
village, so that men fell down and died in the street, and the holy
man prayed to Fudô Sama that the plague might be stayed. Then the god
appeared to him, and said--

"The saint Yakushi Niurai of the Cuttlefish, whose image thou
carriest, desires to have his place in this village, and he will heal
this plague. Thou shalt, therefore, raise a temple to him here that
not only this small-pox, but other diseases for future generations,
may be cured by his power."

[Footnote 10: Fudô, literally "the motionless": Buddha in the state
called Nirvana.]

Hearing this, the priest shed tears of gratitude, and having chosen a
piece of fine wood, carved a large figure of his patron saint of the
cuttlefish, and placed the smaller image inside of the larger, and
laid it up in this temple, to which people still flock that they may
be healed of their diseases.

Such is the story of the miracle, translated from a small ill-printed
pamphlet sold by the priests of the temple, all the decorations of
which, even to a bronze lantern in the middle of the yard, are in the
form of a cuttlefish, the sacred emblem of the place.

What pleasanter lounge in which to while away a hot day could a man
wish for than the shade of the trees borne by the hill on which stands
the Temple of Fudô Sama? Two jets of pure water springing from the
rock are voided by spouts carved in the shape of dragons into a stone
basin enclosed by rails, within which it is written that "no woman may
enter." If you are in luck, you may cool yourself by watching some
devotee, naked save his loin-cloth, performing the ceremony called
_Suigiyô_; that is to say, praying under the waterfall that his soul
may be purified through his body. In winter it requires no small pluck
to go through this penance, yet I have seen a penitent submit to it
for more than a quarter of an hour on a bitterly cold day in January.
In summer, on the other hand, the religious exercise called
_Hiyakudo_, or "the hundred times," which may also be seen here to
advantage, is no small trial of patience. It consists in walking
backwards and forwards a hundred times between two points within the
sacred precincts, repeating a prayer each time. The count is kept
either upon the fingers or by depositing a length of twisted straw
each time that the goal is reached; at this temple the place allotted
for the ceremony is between a grotesque bronze figure of Tengu Sama
("the Dog of Heaven"), the terror of children, a most hideous monster
with a gigantic nose, which it is beneficial to rub with a finger
afterwards to be applied to one's own nose, and a large brown box
inscribed with the characters _Hiyaku Do_ in high relief, which may
generally be seen full of straw tallies. It is no sinecure to be a
good Buddhist, for the gods are not lightly to be propitiated. Prayer
and fasting, mortification of the flesh, abstinence from wine, from
women, and from favourite dishes, are the only passports to rising in
office, prosperity in trade, recovery from sickness, or a happy
marriage with a beloved maiden. Nor will mere faith without works be
efficient. A votive tablet of proportionate value to the favour prayed
for, or a sum of money for the repairs of the shrine or temple, is
necessary to win the favour of the gods. Poorer persons will cut off
the queue of their hair and offer that up; and at Horinouchi, a temple
in great renown some eight or nine miles from Yedo, there is a rope
about two inches and a half in diameter and about six fathoms long,
entirely made of human hair so given to the gods; it lies coiled up,
dirty, moth-eaten, and uncared for, at one end of a long shed full of
tablets and pictures, by the side of a rude native fire-engine. The
taking of life being displeasing to Buddha, outside many of the
temples old women and children earn a livelihood by selling sparrows,
small eels, carp, and tortoises, which the worshipper sets free in
honour of the deity, within whose territory cocks and hens and doves,
tame and unharmed, perch on every jutty, frieze, buttress, and coigne
of vantage.

But of all the marvellous customs that I wot of in connection with
Japanese religious exercises, none appears to me so strange as that of
spitting at the images of the gods, more especially at the statues of
the Ni-ô, the two huge red or red and green statues which, like Gog
and Magog, emblems of strength, stand as guardians of the chief
Buddhist temples. The figures are protected by a network of iron wire,
through which the votaries, praying the while, spit pieces of paper,
which they had chewed up into a pulp. If the pellet sticks to the
statue, the omen is favourable; if it falls, the prayer is not
accepted. The inside of the great bell at the Tycoon's burial-ground,
and almost every holy statue throughout the country, are all covered
with these outspittings from pious mouths.[11]

[Footnote 11: It will be readily understood that the customs and
ceremonies to which I have alluded belong only to the gross
superstitions with which ignorance has overlaid that pure Buddhism of
which Professor Max Müller has pointed out the very real beauties.]

[Illustration: THE TOMB OF THE SHIYOKU.]

Through all this discourse about temples and tea-houses, I am coming
by degrees to the goal of our pilgrimage--two old stones, mouldering
away in a rank, overgrown graveyard hard by, an old old
burying-ground, forgotten by all save those who love to dig out the
tales of the past. The key is kept by a ghoulish old dame, almost as
time-worn and mildewed as the tomb over which she watches. Obedient to
our call, and looking forward to a fee ten times greater than any
native would give her, she hobbles out, and, opening the gate, points
out the stone bearing the inscription, the "Tomb of the Shiyoku"
(fabulous birds, which, living one within the other--a mysterious
duality contained in one body--are the emblem of connubial love and
fidelity). By this stone stands another, graven with a longer legend,
which runs as follows:--

"In the old days of Genroku, she pined for the beauty of her lover,
who was as fair to look upon as the flowers; and now beneath the moss
of this old tombstone all has perished of her save her name. Amid the
changes of a fitful world, this tomb is decaying under the dew and
rain; gradually crumbling beneath its own dust, its outline alone
remains. Stranger! bestow an alms to preserve this stone; and we,
sparing neither pain nor labour, will second you with all our hearts.
Erecting it again, let us preserve it from decay for future
generations, and let us write the following verse upon it:--'These two
birds, beautiful as the cherry-blossoms, perished before their time,
like flowers broken down by the wind before they have borne seed.'"

Under the first stone is the dust of Gompachi, robber and murderer,
mixed with that of his true love Komurasaki, who lies buried with him.
Her sorrows and constancy have hallowed the place, and pious people
still come to burn incense and lay flowers before the grave. How she
loved him even in death may be seen from the following old-world

       *       *       *       *       *

About two hundred and thirty years ago there lived in the service of a
daimio of the province of Inaba a young man, called Shirai Gompachi,
who, when he was but sixteen years of age, had already won a name for
his personal beauty and valour, and for his skill in the use of arms.
Now it happened that one day a dog belonging to him fought with
another dog belonging to a fellow-clansman, and the two masters, being
both passionate youths, disputing as to whose dog had had the best of
the fight, quarrelled and came to blows, and Gompachi slew his
adversary; and in consequence of this he was obliged to flee from his
country, and make his escape to Yedo.

And so Gompachi set out on his travels.

One night, weary and footsore, he entered what appeared to him to be a
roadside inn, ordered some refreshment, and went to bed, little
thinking of the danger that menaced him: for as luck would have it,
this inn turned out to be the trysting-place of a gang of robbers,
into whose clutches he had thus unwittingly fallen. To be sure,
Gompachi's purse was but scantily furnished, but his sword and dirk
were worth some three hundred ounces of silver, and upon these the
robbers (of whom there were ten) had cast envious eyes, and had
determined to kill the owner for their sake; but he, all unsuspicious,
slept on in fancied security.

In the middle of the night he was startled from his deep slumbers by
some one stealthily opening the sliding door which led into his room,
and rousing himself with an effort, he beheld a beautiful young girl,
fifteen years of age, who, making signs to him not to stir, came up to
his bedside, and said to him in a whisper--

"Sir, the master of this house is the chief of a gang of robbers, who
have been plotting to murder you this night for the sake of your
clothes and your sword. As for me, I am the daughter of a rich
merchant in Mikawa: last year the robbers came to our house, and
carried off my father's treasure and myself. I pray you, sir, take me
with you, and let us fly from this dreadful place."

She wept as she spoke, and Gompachi was at first too much startled to
answer; but being a youth of high courage and a cunning fencer to
boot, he soon recovered his presence of mind, and determined to kill
the robbers, and to deliver the girl out of their hands. So he

"Since you say so, I will kill these thieves, and rescue you this very
night; only do you, when I begin the fight, run outside the house,
that you may be out of harm's way, and remain in hiding until I join

Upon this understanding the maiden left him, and went her way. But he
lay awake, holding his breath and watching; and when the thieves crept
noiselessly into the room, where they supposed him to be fast asleep,
he cut down the first man that entered, and stretched him dead at his
feet. The other nine, seeing this, laid about them with their drawn
swords, but Gompachi, fighting with desperation, mastered them at
last, and slew them. After thus ridding himself of his enemies, he
went outside the house and called to the girl, who came running to his
side, and joyfully travelled on with him to Mikawa, where her father
dwelt; and when they reached Mikawa, he took the maiden to the old
man's house, and told him how, when he had fallen among thieves, his
daughter had come to him in his hour of peril, and saved him out of
her great pity; and how he, in return, rescuing her from her
servitude, had brought her back to her home. When the old folks saw
their daughter whom they had lost restored to them, they were beside
themselves with joy, and shed tears for very happiness; and, in their
gratitude, they pressed Gompachi to remain with them, and they
prepared feasts for him, and entertained him hospitably: but their
daughter, who had fallen in love with him for his beauty and knightly
valour, spent her days in thinking of him, and of him alone. The young
man, however, in spite of the kindness of the old merchant, who
wished to adopt him as his son, and tried hard to persuade him to
consent to this, was fretting to go to Yedo and take service as an
officer in the household of some noble lord; so he resisted the
entreaties of the father and the soft speeches of the daughter, and
made ready to start on his journey; and the old merchant, seeing that
he would not be turned from his purpose, gave him a parting gift of
two hundred ounces of silver, and sorrowfully bade him farewell.


But alas for the grief of the maiden, who sat sobbing her heart out
and mourning over her lover's departure! He, all the while thinking
more of ambition than of love, went to her and comforted her, and
said: "Dry your eyes, sweetheart, and weep no more, for I shall soon
come back to you. Do you, in the meanwhile, be faithful and true to
me, and tend your parents with filial piety."

So she wiped away her tears and smiled again, when she heard him
promise that he would soon return to her. And Gompachi went his way,
and in due time came near to Yedo.

But his dangers were not yet over; for late one night, arriving at a
place called Suzugamori, in the neighbourhood of Yedo, he fell in with
six highwaymen, who attacked him, thinking to make short work of
killing and robbing him. Nothing daunted, he drew his sword, and
dispatched two out of the six; but, being weary and worn out with his
long journey, he was sorely pressed, and the struggle was going hard
with him, when a wardsman,[12] who happened to pass that way riding in
a chair, seeing the affray, jumped down from his chair and drawing his
dirk came to the rescue, and between them they put the robbers to

[Footnote 12: Japanese cities are divided into wards, and every
tradesman and artisan is under the authority of the chief of the ward
in which he resides. The word _chônin_, or wardsman, is generally used
in contradistinction to the word _samurai_, which has already been
explained as denoting a man belonging to the military class.]

Now it turned out that this kind tradesman, who had so happily come to
the assistance of Gompachi, was no other than Chôbei of Bandzuin, the
chief of the _Otokodaté_, or Friendly Society of the wardsmen of
Yedo--a man famous in the annals of the city, whose life, exploits,
and adventures are recited to this day, and form the subject of
another tale.

When the highwaymen had disappeared, Gompachi, turning to his
deliverer, said--

"I know not who you may be, sir, but I have to thank you for rescuing
me from a great danger."

And as he proceeded to express his gratitude, Chôbei replied--

"I am but a poor wardsman, a humble man in my way, sir; and if the
robbers ran away, it was more by good luck than owing to any merit of
mine. But I am filled with admiration at the way you fought; you
displayed a courage and a skill that were beyond your years, sir."

"Indeed," said the young man, smiling with pleasure at hearing
himself praised; "I am still young and inexperienced, and am quite
ashamed of my bungling style of fencing."

"And now may I ask you, sir, whither you are bound?"

"That is almost more than I know myself, for I am a _rônin,_ and have
no fixed purpose in view."

"That is a bad job," said Chôbei, who felt pity for the lad. "However,
if you will excuse my boldness in making such an offer, being but a
wardsman, until you shall have taken service I would fain place my
poor house at your disposal."

Gompachi accepted the offer of his new but trusty friend with thanks;
so Chôbei led him to his house, where he lodged him and hospitably
entertained him for some months. And now Gompachi, being idle and
having nothing to care for, fell into bad ways, and began to lead a
dissolute life, thinking of nothing but gratifying his whims and
passions; he took to frequenting the Yoshiwara, the quarter of the
town which is set aside for tea-houses and other haunts of wild young
men, where his handsome face and figure attracted attention, and soon
made him a great favourite with all the beauties of the neighbourhood.

About this time men began to speak loud in praise of the charms of
Komurasaki, or "Little Purple," a young girl who had recently come to
the Yoshiwara, and who in beauty and accomplishments outshone all her
rivals. Gompachi, like the rest of the world, heard so much of her
fame that he determined to go to the house where she dwelt, at the
sign of "The Three Sea-coasts," and judge for himself whether she
deserved all that men said of her. Accordingly he set out one day, and
having arrived at "The Three Sea-coasts," asked to see Komurasaki; and
being shown into the room where she was sitting, advanced towards her;
but when their eyes met, they both started back with a cry of
astonishment, for this Komurasaki, the famous beauty of the Yoshiwara,
proved to be the very girl whom several months before Gompachi had
rescued from the robbers' den, and restored to her parents in Mikawa.
He had left her in prosperity and affluence, the darling child of a
rich father, when they had exchanged vows of love and fidelity; and
now they met in a common stew in Yedo. What a change! what a contrast!
How had the riches turned to rust, the vows to lies!

"What is this?" cried Gompachi, when he had recovered from his
surprise. "How is it that I find you here pursuing this vile calling,
in the Yoshiwara? Pray explain this to me, for there is some mystery
beneath all this which I do not understand."

But Komurasaki--who, having thus unexpectedly fallen in with her lover
that she had yearned for, was divided between joy and shame--answered,

"Alas! my tale is a sad one, and would be long to tell. After you left
us last year, calamity and reverses fell upon our house; and when my
parents became poverty-stricken, I was at my wits' end to know how to
support them: so I sold this wretched body of mine to the master of
this house, and sent the money to my father and mother; but, in spite
of this, troubles and misfortunes multiplied upon them, and now, at
last, they have died of misery and grief. And, oh! lives there in this
wide world so unhappy a wretch as I! But now that I have met you
again--you who are so strong--help me who am weak. You saved me
once--do not, I implore you, desert me now!!" and as she told her
piteous tale the tears streamed from her eyes.

"This is, indeed, a sad story," replied Gompachi, much affected by the
recital. "There must have been a wonderful run of bad luck to bring
such misfortune upon your house, which but a little while ago I
recollect so prosperous. However, mourn no more, for I will not
forsake you. It is true that I am too poor to redeem you from your
servitude, but at any rate I will contrive so that you shall be
tormented no more. Love me, therefore, and put your trust in me." When
she heard him speak so kindly she was comforted, and wept no more, but
poured out her whole heart to him, and forgot her past sorrows in the
great joy of meeting him again.

When it became time for them to separate, he embraced her tenderly and
returned to Chôbei's house; but he could not banish Komurasaki from
his mind, and all day long he thought of her alone; and so it came
about that he went daily to the Yoshiwara to see her, and if any
accident detained him, she, missing the accustomed visit, would become
anxious and write to him to inquire the cause of his absence. At last,
pursuing this course of life, his stock of money ran short, and as,
being a _rônin_ and without any fixed employment, he had no means of
renewing his supplies, he was ashamed of showing himself penniless at
"The Three Sea-coasts." Then it was that a wicked spirit arose within
him, and he went out and murdered a man, and having robbed him of his
money carried it to the Yoshiwara.

From bad to worse is an easy step, and the tiger that has once tasted
blood is dangerous. Blinded and infatuated by his excessive love,
Gompachi kept on slaying and robbing, so that, while his outer man was
fair to look upon, the heart within him was that of a hideous devil.
At last his friend Chôbei could no longer endure the sight of him, and
turned him out of his house; and as, sooner or later, virtue and vice
meet with their reward, it came to pass that Gompachi's crimes became
notorious, and the Government having set spies upon his track, he was
caught red-handed and arrested; and his evil deeds having been fully
proved against him, he was carried off to the execution ground at
Suzugamori, the "Bell Grove," and beheaded as a common male-factor.

Now when Gompachi was dead, Chôbei's old affection for the young man
returned, and, being a kind and pious man, he went and claimed his
body and head, and buried him at Meguro, in the grounds of the Temple
called Boronji.

When Komurasaki heard the people at Yoshiwara gossiping about her
lover's end, her grief knew no bounds, so she fled secretly from "The
Three Sea-coasts," and came to Meguro and threw herself upon the
newly-made grave. Long she prayed and bitterly she wept over the tomb
of him whom, with all his faults, she had loved so well, and then,
drawing a dagger from her girdle, she plunged it in her breast and
died. The priests of the temple, when they saw what had happened,
wondered greatly and were astonished at the loving faithfulness of
this beautiful girl, and taking compassion on her, they laid her side
by side with Gompachi in one grave, and over the grave they placed a
stone which remains to this day, bearing the inscription "The Tomb of
the Shiyoku." And still the people of Yedo visit the place, and still
they praise the beauty of Gompachi and the filial piety and fidelity
of Komurasaki.

Let us linger for a moment longer in the old graveyard. The word which
I have translated a few lines above as "loving faithfulness" means
literally "chastity." When Komurasaki sold herself to supply the wants
of her ruined parents, she was not, according to her lights,
forfeiting her claim to virtue. On the contrary, she could perform no
greater act of filial piety, and, so far from incurring reproach among
her people, her self-sacrifice would be worthy of all praise in their
eyes. This idea has led to grave misunderstanding abroad, and indeed
no phase of Japanese life has been so misrepresented as this. I have
heard it stated, and seen it printed, that it is no disgrace for a
respectable Japanese to sell his daughter, that men of position and
family often choose their wives from such places as "The Three
Sea-coasts," and that up to the time of her marriage the conduct of a
young girl is a matter of no importance whatever. Nothing could be
more unjust or more untrue. It is only the neediest people that sell
their children to be waitresses, singers, or prostitutes. It does
occasionally happen that the daughter of a _Samurai_, or gentleman, is
found in a house of ill-fame, but such a case could only occur at the
death or utter ruin of the parents, and an official investigation of
the matter has proved it to be so exceptional, that the presence of a
young lady in such a place is an enormous attraction, her superior
education and accomplishments shedding a lustre over the house. As for
gentlemen marrying women of bad character, are not such things known
in Europe? Do ladies of the _demi-monde_ never make good marriages?
_Mésalliances_ are far rarer in Japan than with us. Certainly among
the lowest class of the population such, marriages may occasionally
occur, for it often happens that a woman can lay by a tempting dowry
out of her wretched earnings-, but amongst the gentry of the country
they are unknown.

And yet a girl is not disgraced if for her parents' sake she sells
herself to a life of misery so great, that, when a Japanese enters a
house of ill-fame, he is forced to leave his sword and dirk at the
door for two reasons--first, to prevent brawling; secondly, because it
is known that some of the women inside so loathe their existence that
they would put an end to it, could they get hold of a weapon.

It is a curious fact that in all the Daimio's castle-towns, with the
exception of some which are also seaports, open prostitution is
strictly forbidden, although, if report speaks truly, public morality
rather suffers than gains by the prohibition.

The misapprehension which exists upon the subject of prostitution in
Japan may be accounted for by the fact that foreign writers, basing
their judgment upon the vice of the open ports, have not hesitated to
pronounce the Japanese women unchaste. As fairly might a Japanese,
writing about England, argue from the street-walkers of Portsmouth or
Plymouth to the wives, sisters, and daughters of these very authors.
In some respects the gulf fixed between virtue and vice in Japan is
even greater than in England. The Eastern courtesan is confined to a
certain quarter of the town, and distinguished by a peculiarly gaudy
costume, and by a head-dress which consists of a forest of light
tortoiseshell hair-pins, stuck round her head like a saint's glory--a
glory of shame which a modest woman would sooner die than wear. Vice
jostling virtue in the public places; virtue imitating the fashions
set by vice, and buying trinkets or furniture at the sale of vice's
effects--these are social phenomena which the East knows not.

The custom prevalent among the lower orders of bathing in public
bath-houses without distinction of the sexes, is another circumstance
which has tended to spread abroad very false notions upon the subject
of the chastity of the Japanese women. Every traveller is shocked by
it, and every writer finds in it matter for a page of pungent
description. Yet it is only those who are so poor (and they must be
poor indeed) that they cannot afford a bath at home, who, at the end
of their day's work, go to the public bath-house to refresh themselves
before sitting down to their evening meal: having been used to the
scene from their childhood, they see no indelicacy in it; it is a
matter of course, and _honi soit qui mal y pense_: certainly there is
far less indecency and immorality resulting from this public bathing,
than from the promiscuous herding together of all sexes and ages which
disgraces our own lodging-houses in the great cities, and the hideous
hovels in which some of our labourers have to pass their lives; nor
can it be said that there is more confusion of sexes amongst the
lowest orders in Japan than in Europe. Speaking upon the subject once
with a Japanese gentleman, I observed that we considered it an act of
indecency for men and women to wash together. He shrugged his
shoulders as he answered, "But then Westerns have such prurient
minds." Some time ago, at the open port of Yokohama, the Government,
out of deference to the prejudices of foreigners, forbade the men and
women to bathe together, and no doubt this was the first step towards
putting down the practice altogether: as for women tubbing in the open
streets of Yedo, I have read of such things in books written by
foreigners; but during a residence of three years and a half, in which
time I crossed and recrossed every part of the great city at all hours
of the day, I never once saw such a sight. I believe myself that it
can only be seen at certain hot mineral springs in remote country

The best answer to the general charge of immorality which has been
brought against the Japanese women during their period of unmarried
life, lies in the fact that every man who can afford to do so keeps
the maidens of his family closely guarded in the strictest seclusion.
The daughter of poverty, indeed, must work and go abroad, but not a
man is allowed to approach the daughter of a gentleman; and she is
taught that if by accident any insult should be offered to her, the
knife which she carries at her girdle is meant for use, and not
merely as a badge of her rank. Not long ago a tragedy took place in
the house of one of the chief nobles in Yedo. One of My Lady's
tire-women, herself a damsel of gentle blood, and gifted with rare
beauty, had attracted the attention of a retainer in the palace, who
fell desperately in love with her. For a long time the strict rules of
decorum by which she was hedged in prevented him from declaring his
passion; but at last he contrived to gain access to her presence, and
so far forgot himself, that she, drawing her poniard, stabbed him in
the eye, so that he was carried off fainting, and presently died. The
girl's declaration, that the dead man had attempted to insult her, was
held to be sufficient justification of her deed, and, instead of being
blamed, she was praised and extolled for her valour and chastity. As
the affair had taken place within the four walls of a powerful noble,
there was no official investigation into the matter, with which the
authorities of the palace were competent to deal. The truth of this
story was vouched for by two or three persons whose word I have no
reason to doubt, and who had themselves been mixed up in it; I can
bear witness that it is in complete harmony with Japanese ideas; and
certainly it seems more just that Lucretia should kill Tarquin than

The better the Japanese people come to be known and understood, the
more, I am certain, will it be felt that a great injustice has been
done them in the sweeping attacks which have been made upon their
women. Writers are agreed, I believe, that their matrons are, as a
rule, without reproach. If their maidens are chaste, as I contend that
from very force of circumstances they cannot help being, what becomes
of all these charges of vice and immodesty? Do they not rather recoil
upon the accusers, who would appear to have studied the Japanese woman
only in the harlot of Yokohama?

Having said so much, I will now try to give some account of the famous
Yoshiwara[13] of Yedo, to which frequent allusion will have to be made
in the course of these tales.

[Footnote 13: The name Yoshiwara, which is becoming generic for
"Flower Districts,"--_Anglicé_, quarters occupied by brothels,--is
sometimes derived from the town Yoshiwara, in Sunshine, because it was
said that the women of that place furnished a large proportion of the
beauties of the Yedo Yoshiwara. The correct derivation is probably
that given below.]

At the end of the sixteenth century the courtesans of Yedo lived in
three special places: these were the street called Kôji-machi, in
which dwelt the women who came from Kiôto; the Kamakura Street, and a
spot opposite the great bridge, in which last two places lived women
brought from Suruga. Besides these there afterwards came women from
Fushimi and from Nara, who lodged scattered here and there throughout
the town. This appears to have scandalized a certain reformer, named
Shôji Jinyémon, who, in the year 1612, addressed a memorial to the
Government, petitioning that the women who lived in different parts of
the town should be collected in one "Flower Quarter." His petition was
granted in the year 1617, and he fixed upon a place called Fukiyacho,
which, on account of the quantities of rushes which grew there, was
named _Yoshi-Wara,_ or the rush-moor, a name which now-a-days, by a
play upon the word _yoshi,_ is written with two Chinese characters,
signifying the "good," or "lucky moor." The place was divided into
four streets, called the Yedo Street, the Second Yedo Street, the
Kiôto Street, and the Second Kiôto Street.

In the eighth month of the year 1655, when Yedo was beginning to
increase in size and importance, the Yoshiwara, preserving its name,
was transplanted bodily to the spot which it now occupies at the
northern end of the town. And the streets in it were named after the
places from which the greater number of their inhabitants originally
came, as the "Sakai Street," the "Fushimi Street," &c.

The official Guide to the Yoshiwara for 1869 gives a return of 153
brothels, containing 3,289 courtesans of all classes, from the
_Oiran_, or proud beauty, who, dressed up in gorgeous brocade of gold
and silver, with painted face and gilded lips, and with her teeth
fashionably blacked, has all the young bloods of Yedo at her feet,
down to the humble _Shinzo_, or white-toothed woman, who rots away her
life in the common stews. These figures do not, however, represent the
whole of the prostitution of Yedo; the Yoshiwara is the chief, but not
the only, abiding-place of the public women. At Fukagawa there is
another Flower District, built upon the same principle as the
Yoshiwara; while at Shinagawa, Shinjiku, Itabashi, Senji, and
Kadzukappara, the hotels contain women who, nominally only waitresses,
are in reality prostitutes. There are also women called _Jigoku-Omna,_
or hell-women, who, without being borne on the books of any brothel,
live in their own houses, and ply their trade in secret. On the whole,
I believe the amount of prostitution in Yedo to be wonderfully small,
considering the vast size of the city.

There are 394 tea-houses in the Yoshiwara, which are largely used as
places of assignation, and which on those occasions are paid, not by
the visitors frequenting them, but by the keepers of the brothels. It
is also the fashion to give dinners and drinking-parties at these
houses, for which the services of _Taikomochi_, or jesters, among whom
there are thirty-nine chief celebrities, and of singing and dancing
girls, are retained. The Guide to the Yoshiwara gives a list of
fifty-five famous singing-girls, besides a host of minor stars. These
women are not to be confounded with the courtesans. Their conduct is
very closely watched by their masters, and they always go out to
parties in couples or in bands, so that they may be a check upon one
another. Doubtless, however, in spite of all precautions, the shower
of gold does from time to time find its way to Danaë's lap; and to be
the favoured lover of a fashionable singer or dancer is rather a
feather in the cap of a fast young Japanese gentleman. The fee paid to
singing-girls for performing during a space of two hours is one
shilling and fourpence each; for six hours the fee is quadrupled, and
it is customary to give the girls a _hana_, or present, for
themselves, besides their regular pay, which goes to the master of the
troupe to which they belong.

Courtesans, singing women, and dancers are bought by contractors,
either as children, when they are educated for their calling, or at a
more advanced age, when their accomplishments and charms render them
desirable investments. The engagement is never made life-long, for
once past the flower of their youth the poor creatures would be mere
burthens upon their masters; a courtesan is usually bought until she
shall have reached the age of twenty-seven, after which she becomes
her own property. Singers remain longer in harness, but even they
rarely work after the age of thirty, for Japanese women, like
Italians, age quickly, and have none of that intermediate stage
between youth and old age, which seems to be confined to countries
where there is a twilight.

Children destined to be trained as singers are usually bought when
they are five or six years old, a likely child fetching from about
thirty-five to fifty shillings; the purchaser undertakes the education
of his charge, and brings the little thing up as his own child. The
parents sign a paper absolving him from all responsibility in case of
sickness or accident; but they know that their child will be well
treated and cared for, the interests of the buyer being their material
guarantee. Girls of fifteen or upwards who are sufficiently
accomplished to join a company of singers fetch ten times the price
paid for children; for in their case there is no risk and no expense
of education.

Little children who are bought for purposes of prostitution at the age
of five or six years fetch about the same price as those that are
bought to be singers. During their novitiate they are employed to wait
upon the _Oiran_, or fashionable courtesans, in the capacity of little
female pages (_Kamuro_). They are mostly the children of distressed
persons, or orphans, whom their relatives cruelly sell rather than be
at the expense and trouble of bringing them up. Of the girls who enter
the profession later in life, some are orphans, who have no other
means of earning a livelihood; others sell their bodies out of filial
piety, that they may succour their sick or needy parents; others are
married women, who enter the Yoshiwara to supply the wants of their
husbands; and a very small proportion is recruited from girls who have
been seduced and abandoned, perhaps sold, by faithless lovers.

The time to see the Yoshiwara to the best advantage is just after
nightfall, when the lamps are lighted. Then it is that the women--who
for the last two hours have been engaged in gilding their lips and
painting their eyebrows black, and their throats and bosoms a snowy
white, carefully leaving three brown Van-dyke-collar points where the
back of the head joins the neck, in accordance with one of the
strictest rules of Japanese cosmetic science--leave the back rooms,
and take their places, side by side, in a kind of long narrow cage,
the wooden bars of which open on to the public thoroughfare. Here they
sit for hours, gorgeous in dresses of silk and gold and silver
embroidery, speechless and motionless as wax figures, until they shall
have attracted the attention of some of the passers-by, who begin to
throng the place. At Yokohama indeed, and at the other open ports, the
women of the Yoshiwara are loud in their invitations to visitors,
frequently relieving the monotony of their own language by some
blasphemous term of endearment picked up from British and American
seamen; but in the Flower District at Yedo, and wherever Japanese
customs are untainted, the utmost decorum prevails. Although the shape
which vice takes is ugly enough, still it has this merit, that it is
unobtrusive. Never need the pure be contaminated by contact with the
impure; he who goes to the Yoshiwara, goes there knowing full well
what he will find, but the virtuous man may live through his life
without having this kind of vice forced upon his sight. Here again do
the open ports contrast unfavourably with other places: Yokohama at
night is as leprous a place as the London Haymarket.[14]

[Footnote 14: Those who are interested in this branch of social
science, will find much curious information upon the subject of
prostitution in Japan in a pamphlet published at Yokohama, by Dr.
Newton, R.N., a philanthropist who has been engaged for the last two
years in establishing a Lock Hospital at that place. In spite of much
opposition, from prejudice and ignorance, his labours have been
crowned by great success.]

A public woman or singer on entering her profession assumes a _nom de
guerre_, by which she is known until her engagement is at an end. Some
of these names are so pretty and quaint that I will take a few
specimens from the _Yoshiwara Saiken_, the guidebook upon which this
notice is based. "Little Pine," "Little Butterfly," "Brightness of the
Flowers," "The Jewel River," "Gold Mountain," "Pearl Harp," "The Stork
that lives a Thousand Years," "Village of Flowers," "Sea Beach," "The
Little Dragon," "Little Purple," "Silver," "Chrysanthemum,"
"Waterfall," "White Brightness," "Forest of Cherries,"--these and a
host of other quaint conceits are the one prettiness of a very foul


It is a law that he who lives by the sword shall die by the sword. In
Japan, where there exists a large armed class over whom there is
practically little or no control, party and clan broils, and single
quarrels ending in bloodshed and death, are matters of daily
occurrence; and it has been observed that Edinburgh in the olden time,
when the clansmen, roistering through the streets at night, would pass
from high words to deadly blows, is perhaps the best European parallel
of modern Yedo or Kiôto.

It follows that of all his possessions the Samurai sets most store by
his sword, his constant companion, his ally, defensive and offensive.
The price of a sword by a famous maker reaches a high sum: a Japanese
noble will sometimes be found girding on a sword, the blade of which
unmounted is worth from six hundred to a thousand riyos, say from £200
to £300, and the mounting, rich in cunning metal work, will be of
proportionate value. These swords are handed down as heirlooms from
father to son, and become almost a part of the wearer's own self.
Iyéyasu, the founder of the last dynasty of Shoguns, wrote in his
Legacy,[15] a code of rules drawn up for the guidance of his
successors and their advisers in the government, "The girded sword is
the living soul of the Samurai. In the case of a Samurai forgetting
his sword, act as is appointed: it may not be overlooked."

[Footnote 15: _The Legacy of Iyéyasu_, translated by F. Lowder.
Yokohama, 1868. (Printed for private circulation.)]

The occupation of a swordsmith is an honourable profession, the
members of which are men of gentle blood. In a country where trade is
looked down upon as degrading, it is strange to find this single
exception to the general rule. The traditions of the craft are many
and curious. During the most critical moment of the forging of the
sword, when the steel edge is being welded into the body of the iron
blade, it is a custom which still obtains among old-fashioned
armourers to put on the cap and robes worn by the Kugé, or nobles of
the Mikado's court, and, closing the doors of the workshop, to labour
in secrecy and freedom from interruption, the half gloom adding to the
mystery of the operation. Sometimes the occasion is even invested with
a certain sanctity, a tasselled cord of straw, such as is hung before
the shrines of the Kami, or native gods of Japan, being suspended
between two bamboo poles in the forge, which for the nonce is
converted into a holy altar.

At Osaka, I lived opposite to one Kusano Yoshiaki, a swordsmith, a
most intelligent and amiable gentleman, who was famous throughout his
neighbourhood for his good and charitable deeds. His idea was that,
having been bred up to a calling which trades in life and death, he
was bound, so far as in him lay, to atone for this by seeking to
alleviate the suffering which is in the world; and he carried out his
principle to the extent of impoverishing himself. No neighbour ever
appealed to him in vain for help in tending the sick or burying the
dead. No beggar or lazar was ever turned from his door without
receiving some mark of his bounty, whether in money or in kind. Nor
was his scrupulous honesty less remarkable than his charity. While
other smiths are in the habit of earning large sums of money by
counterfeiting the marks of the famous makers of old, he was able to
boast that he had never turned out a weapon which bore any other mark
than his own. From his father and his forefathers he inherited his
trade, which, in his turn, he will hand over to his son--a
hard-working, honest, and sturdy man, the clank of whose hammer and
anvil may be heard from daybreak to sundown.

[Illustration: FORGING THE SWORD.]

The trenchant edge of the Japanese sword is notorious. It is said that
the best blades will in the hands of an expert swordsman cut through
the dead bodies of three men, laid one upon the other, at a blow. The
swords of the Shogun used to be tried upon the corpses of executed
criminals; the public headsman was entrusted with the duty, and for a
"nose medicine," or bribe of two bus (about three shillings), would
substitute the weapon of a private individual for that of his Lord.
Dogs and beggars, lying helpless by the roadside, not unfrequently
serve to test a ruffian's sword; but the executioner earns many a fee
from those who wish to see how their blades will cut off a head.

The statesman who shall enact a law forbidding the carrying of this
deadly weapon will indeed have deserved well of his country; but it
will be a difficult task to undertake, and a dangerous one. I would
not give much for that man's life. The hand of every swashbuckler in
the empire would be against him. One day as we were talking over this
and other kindred subjects, a friend of mine, a man of advanced and
liberal views, wrote down his opinion, _more Japonico_, in a verse of
poetry which ran as follows:--"I would that all the swords and dirks
in the country might be collected in one place and molten down, and
that, from the metal so produced, one huge sword might be forged,
which, being the only blade left, should be the girded sword of Great

The following history is in more senses than one a "Tale of a Sword."

About two hundred and fifty years ago Ikéda Kunaishôyu was Lord of the
Province of Inaba. Among his retainers were two gentlemen, named
Watanabé Yukiyé and Kawai Matazayémon, who were bound together by
strong ties of friendship, and were in the habit of frequently
visiting at one another's houses. One day Yukiyé was sitting
conversing with Matazayémon in the house of the latter, when, on a
sudden, a sword that was lying in the raised part of the room caught
his eye. As he saw it, he started and said--

"Pray tell me, how came you by that sword?"

"Well, as you know, when my Lord Ikéda followed my Lord Tokugawa
Iyéyasu to fight at Nagakudé, my father went in his train; and it was
at the battle of Nagakudé that he picked up this sword."

"My father went too, and was killed in the fight, and this sword,
which was an heirloom in our family for many generations, was lost at
that time. As it is of great value in my eyes, I do wish that, if you
set no special store by it, you would have the great kindness to
return it to me."

"That is a very easy matter, and no more than what one friend should
do by another. Pray take it."

Upon this Yukiyé gratefully took the sword, and having carried it home
put it carefully away.

At the beginning of the ensuing year Matazayémon fell sick and died,
and Yukiyé, mourning bitterly for the loss of his good friend, and
anxious to requite the favour which he had received in the matter of
his father's sword, did many acts of kindness to the dead man's
son--a young man twenty-two years of age, named Matagorô.

Now this Matagorô was a base-hearted cur, who had begrudged the sword
that his father had given to Yukiyé, and complained publicly and often
that Yukiyé had never made any present in return; and in this way
Yukiyé got a bad name in my Lord's palace as a stingy and illiberal

But Yukiyé had a son, called Kazuma, a youth sixteen years of age, who
served as one of the Prince's pages of honour. One evening, as he and
one of his brother pages were talking together, the latter said--

"Matagorô is telling everybody that your father accepted a handsome
sword from him and never made him any present in return, and people
are beginning to gossip about it."

"Indeed," replied the other, "my father received that sword from
Matagorô's father as a mark of friendship and good-will, and,
considering that it would be an insult to send a present of money in
return, thought to return the favour by acts of kindness towards
Matagorô. I suppose it is money he wants."

When Kazuma's service was over, he returned home, and went to his
father's room to tell him the report that was being spread in the
palace, and begged him to send an ample present of money to Matagorô.
Yukryé reflected for a while, and said--

"You are too young to understand the right line of conduct in such
matters. Matagorô's father and myself were very close friends; so,
seeing that he had ungrudgingly given me back the sword of my
ancestors, I, thinking to requite his kindness at his death, rendered
important services to Matagorô. It would be easy to finish the matter
by sending a present of money; but I had rather take the sword and
return it than be under an obligation to this mean churl, who knows
not the laws which regulate the intercourse and dealings of men of
gentle blood."

So Yukiyé, in his anger, took the sword to Matagorô's house, and said
to him--

"I have come to your house this night for no other purpose than to
restore to you the sword which your father gave me;" and with this he
placed the sword before Matagorô.

"Indeed," replied the other, "I trust that you will not pain me by
returning a present which my father made you."

"Amongst men of gentle birth," said Yukiyé, laughing scornfully, "it
is the custom to requite presents, in the first place by kindness, and
afterwards by a suitable gift offered with a free heart. But it is no
use talking to such as you, who are ignorant of the first principles
of good breeding; so I have the honour to give you back the sword."

As Yukiyé went on bitterly to reprove Matagorô, the latter waxed very
wroth, and, being a ruffian, would have killed Yukiyé on the spot; but
he, old man as he was, was a skilful swordsman, so Matagorô,
craven-like, determined to wait until he could attack him unawares.
Little suspecting any treachery, Yukiyé started to return home, and
Matagorô, under the pretence of attending him to the door, came behind
him with his sword drawn and cut him in the shoulder. The older man,
turning round, drew and defended himself; but having received a severe
wound in the first instance, he fainted away from loss of blood, and
Matagorô slew him.

The mother of Matagorô, startled by the noise, came out; and when she
saw what had been done, she was afraid, and said--"Passionate man!
what have you done? You are a murderer; and now your life will be
forfeit. What terrible deed is this!"

"I have killed him now, and there's nothing to be done. Come, mother,
before the matter becomes known, let us fly together from this house."

"I will follow you; do you go and seek out my Lord Abé Shirogorô, a
chief among the Hatamotos,[16] who was my foster-child. You had better
fly to him for protection, and remain in hiding."

[Footnote 16: _Hatamotos._ The Hatamotos were the feudatory nobles of
the Shogun or Tycoon. The office of Taikun having been abolished, the
Hatamotos no longer exist. For further information respecting them,
see the note at the end of the story.]

So the old woman persuaded her son to make his escape, and sent him to
the palace of Shirogorô.

Now it happened that at this time the Hatamotos had formed themselves
into a league against the powerful Daimios; and Abé Shirogorô, with
two other noblemen, named Kondô Noborinosuké and Midzuno Jiurozayémon,
was at the head of the league. It followed, as a matter of course,
that his forces were frequently recruited by vicious men, who had no
means of gaining their living, and whom he received and entreated
kindly without asking any questions as to their antecedents; how much
the more then, on being applied to for an asylum by the son of his own
foster-mother, did he willingly extend his patronage to him, and
guarantee him against all danger. So he called a meeting of the
principal Hatamotos, and introduced Matagorô to them, saying--"This
man is a retainer of Ikéda Kunaishôyu, who, having cause of hatred
against a man named Watanabé Yukiyé, has slain him, and has fled to me
for protection; this man's mother suckled me when I was an infant,
and, right or wrong, I will befriend him. If, therefore, Ikéda
Kunaishôyu should send to require me to deliver him up, I trust that
you will one and all put forth your strength and help me to defend

"Ay! that will we, with pleasure!" replied Kondô Noborinosuké. "We
have for some time had cause to complain of the scorn with which the
Daimios have treated us. Let Ikéda Kunaishôyu send to claim this man,
and we will show him the power of the Hatamotos."

All the other Hatamotos, with one accord, applauded this
determination, and made ready their force for an armed resistance,
should my Lord Kunaishôyu send to demand the surrender of Matugorô.
But the latter remained as a welcome guest in the house of Abé


Now when Watanabé Kazuma saw that, as the night advanced, his father
Yukiyé did not return home, he became anxious, and went to the house
of Matagorô to seek for him, and finding to his horror that he was
murdered, fell upon the corpse and, embraced it, weeping. On a sudden,
it flashed across him that this must assuredly be the handiwork of
Matagorô; so he rushed furiously into the house, determined to kill
his father's murderer upon the spot. But Matagorô had already fled,
and he found only the mother, who was making her preparations for
following her son to the house of Abé Shirogorô: so he bound the old
woman, and searched all over the house for her son; but, seeing that
his search was fruitless, he carried off the mother, and handed her
over to one of the elders of the clan, at the same time laying
information against Matagorô as his father's murderer. When the affair
was reported to the Prince, he was very angry, and ordered that the
old woman should remain bound and be cast into prison until the
whereabouts of her son should be discovered. Then Kazuma buried his
father's corpse with great pomp, and the widow and the orphan mourned
over their loss.

It soon became known amongst the people of Abé Shirogorô that the
mother of Matagorô had been imprisoned for her son's crime, and they
immediately set about planning her rescue; so they sent to the palace
of my Lord Kunaishôyu a messenger, who, when he was introduced to the
councillor of the Prince, said--

"We have heard that, in consequence of the murder of Yukiyé, my lord
has been pleased to imprison the mother of Matagorô. Our master
Shirogorô has arrested the criminal, and will deliver him up to you.
But the mother has committed no crime, so we pray that she may be
released from a cruel imprisonment: she was the foster-mother of our
master, and he would fain intercede to save her life. Should you
consent to this, we, on our side, will give up the murderer, and hand
him over to you in front of our master's gate to-morrow."

The councillor repeated this message to the Prince, who, in his
pleasure at being able to give Kazuma his revenge on the morrow,
immediately agreed to the proposal, and the messenger returned
triumphant at the success of the scheme. On the following day, the
Prince ordered the mother of Matagorô to be placed in a litter and
carried to the Hatamoto's dwelling, in charge of a retainer named
Sasawo Danyémon, who, when he arrived at the door of Abé Shirogorô's
house, said--

"I am charged to hand over to you the mother of Matagorô, and, in
exchange, I am authorized to receive her son at your hands."

"We will immediately give him up to you; but, as the mother and son
are now about to bid an eternal farewell to one another, we beg you to
be so kind as to tarry a little."

With this the retainers of Shirogorô led the old woman inside their
master's house, and Sasawo Danyémon remained waiting outside, until at
last he grew impatient, and ventured to hurry on the people within.

"We return you many thanks," replied they, "for your kindness in
bringing us the mother; but, as the son cannot go with you at present,
you had better return home as quickly as possible. We are afraid we
have put you to much trouble." And so they mocked him.

When Danyémon saw that he had not only been cheated into giving up the
old woman, but was being made a laughing-stock of into the bargain, he
flew into a great rage, and thought to break into the house and seize
Matagorô and his mother by force; but, peeping into the courtyard, he
saw that it was filled with Hatamotos, carrying guns and naked swords.
Not caring then to die fighting a hopeless battle, and at the same
time feeling that, after having been so cheated, he would be put to
shame before his lord, Sasawo Danyémon went to the burial-place of his
ancestors, and disembowelled himself in front of their graves.

[Illustration: THE DEATH OF DANYÉMON.]

When the Prince heard how his messenger had been treated, he was
indignant, and summoning his councillors resolved, although he was
suffering from sickness, to collect his retainers and attack Abé
Shirogorô; and the other chief Daimios, when the matter became
publicly known, took up the cause, and determined that the Hatamotos
must be chastised for their insolence. On their side, the Hatamotos
put forth all their efforts to resist the Daimios. So Yedo became
disturbed, and the riotous state of the city caused great anxiety to
the Government, who took counsel together how they might restore
peace. As the Hatamotos were directly under the orders of the Shogun,
it was no difficult matter to put them down: the hard question to
solve was how to put a restraint upon the great Daimios. However, one
of the Gorôjin,[17] named Matsudaira Idzu no Kami, a man of great
intelligence, hit upon a plan by which he might secure this end.

[Footnote 17: The first Council of the Shogun's ministers; literally,
"assembly of imperial elders."]

There was at this time in the service of the Shogun a physician, named
Nakarai Tsusen, who was in the habit of frequenting the palace of my
Lord Kunaishôyu, and who for some time past had been treating him for
the disease from which he was suffering. Idzu no Kami sent secretly
for this physician, and, summoning him to his private room, engaged
him in conversation, in the midst of which he suddenly dropped his
voice and said to him in a whisper--

"Listen, Tsusen. You have received great favours at the hands of the
Shogun. The Government is now sorely straitened: are you willing to
carry your loyalty so far as to lay down your life on its behalf?"

"Ay, my lord; for generations my forefathers have held their property
by the grace of the Shogun. I am willing this night to lay down my
life for my Prince, as a faithful vassal should."

"Well, then, I will tell you. The great Daimios and the Hatamotos
have fallen out about this affair of Matagorô, and lately it has
seemed as if they meant to come to blows. The country will be
agitated, and the farmers and townsfolk suffer great misery, if we
cannot quell the tumult. The Hatamotos will be easily kept under, but
it will be no light task to pacify the great Daimios. If you are
willing to lay down your life in carrying out a stratagem of mine,
peace will be restored to the country; but your loyalty will be your

"I am ready to sacrifice my life in this service."

"This is my plan. You have been attending my Lord Kunaishôyu in his
sickness; to-morrow you must go to see him, and put poison in his
physic. If we can kill him, the agitation will cease. This is the
service which I ask of you."

Tsusen agreed to undertake the deed; and on the following day, when he
went to see Kunaishôyu, he carried with him poisoned drugs. Half the
draught he drank himself,[18] and thus put the Prince off his guard,
so that he swallowed the remainder fearlessly. Tsusen, seeing this,
hurried away, and as he was carried home in his litter the death-agony
seized him, and he died, vomiting blood.

[Footnote 18: A physician attending a personage of exalted rank has
always to drink half the potion he prescribes as a test of his good

My Lord Kunaishôyu died in the same way in great torture, and in the
confusion attending upon his death and funeral ceremonies the struggle
which was impending with the Hatamotos was delayed.

In the meanwhile the Gorôjiu Idzu no Kami summoned the three leaders
of the Hatamotos and addressed them as follows--

"The secret plottings and treasonable, turbulent conduct of you three
men, so unbecoming your position as Hatamotos, have enraged my lord
the Shogun to such a degree, that he has been pleased to order that
you be imprisoned in a temple, and that your patrimony be given over
to your next heirs."

Accordingly the three Hatamotos, after having been severely
admonished, were confined in a temple called Kanyeiji; and the
remaining Hatamotos, scared by this example, dispersed in peace. As
for the great Daimios, inasmuch as after the death of my Lord
Kunaishôyu the Hatamotos were all dispersed, there was no enemy left
for them to fight with; so the tumult was quelled, and peace was

Thus it happened that Matagorô lost his patron; so, taking his mother
with him, he went and placed himself under the protection of an old
man named Sakurai Jiuzayémon. This old man was a famous teacher of
lance exercise, and enjoyed both wealth and honour; so he took in
Matagorô, and having engaged as a guard thirty Rônins, all resolute
fellows and well skilled in the arts of war, they all fled together to
a distant place called Sagara.

All this time Watanabé Kazuma had been brooding over his father's
death, and thinking how he should be revenged upon the murderer; so
when my Lord Kunaishôyu suddenly died, he went to the young Prince
who succeeded him and obtained leave of absence to go and seek out
his father's enemy. Now Kazuma's elder sister was married to a man
named Araki Matayémon, who at that time was famous as the first
swordsman in Japan. As Kazuma was but sixteen years of age, this
Matayémon, taking into consideration his near relationship as
son-in-law to the murdered man, determined to go forth with the lad,
as his guardian, and help him to seek out Matagorô; and two of
Matayémon's retainers, named Ishidomé Busuké and Ikezoyé Magohachi,
made up their minds, at all hazards, to follow their master. The
latter, when he heard their intention, thanked them, but refused the
offer, saying that as he was now about to engage in a vendetta in
which his life would be continually in jeopardy, and as it would be a
lasting grief to him should either of them receive a wound in such a
service, he must beg them to renounce their intention; but they

"Master, this is a cruel speech of yours. All these years have we
received nought but kindness and favours at your hands; and now that
you are engaged in the pursuit of this murderer, we desire to follow
you, and, if needs must, to lay down our lives in your service.
Furthermore, we have heard that the friends of this Matagorô are no
fewer than thirty-six men; so, however bravely you may fight, you will
be in peril from the superior numbers of your enemy. However, if you
are pleased to persist in your refusal to take us, we have made up our
minds that there is no resource for us but to disembowel ourselves on
the spot."

When Matayémon and Kazuma heard these words, they wondered at these
faithful and brave men, and were moved to tears. Then Matayémon said--

"The kindness of you two brave fellows is without precedent. Well,
then, I will accept your services gratefully."

Then the two men, having obtained their wish, cheerfully followed
their master; and the four set out together upon their journey to seek
out Matagorô, of whose whereabouts they were completely ignorant.

Matagorô in the meanwhile had made his way, with the old man Sakurai
Jiuzayémon and his thirty Rônins, to Osaka. But, strong as they were
in numbers, they travelled in great secrecy. The reason for this was
that the old man's younger brother, Sakurai Jinsuké, a fencing-master
by profession, had once had a fencing-match with Matayémon, Kazuma's
brother-in-law, and had been shamefully beaten; so that the party were
greatly afraid of Matayémon, and felt that, since he was taking up
Kazuma's cause and acting as his guardian, they might be worsted in
spite of their numbers: so they went on their way with great caution,
and, having reached Osaka, put up at an inn in a quarter called
Ikutama, and hid from Kazuma and Matayémon.

The latter also in good time reached Osaka, and spared no pains to
seek out Matagorô. One evening towards dusk, as Matayémon was walking
in the quarter where the enemy were staying, he saw a man, dressed as
a gentleman's servant, enter a cook-shop and order some buckwheat
porridge for thirty-six men, and looking attentively at the man, he
recognized him as the servant of Sakurai Jiuzayémon; so he hid himself
in a dark place and watched, and heard the fellow say--

"My master, Sakurai Jiuzayémon, is about to start for Sagara to-morrow
morning, to return thanks to the gods for his recovery from a sickness
from which he has been suffering; so I am in a great hurry."

With these words the servant hastened away; and Matayémon, entering
the shop, called for some porridge, and as he ate it, made some
inquiries as to the man who had just given so large an order for
buckwheat porridge. The master of the shop answered that he was the
attendant of a party of thirty-six gentlemen who were staying at such
and such an inn. Then Matayémon, having found out all that he wanted
to know, went home and told Kazuma, who was delighted at the prospect
of carrying his revenge into execution on the morrow. That same
evening Matayémon sent one of his two faithful retainers as a spy to
the inn, to find out at what hour Matagorô was to set out on the
following morning; and he ascertained from the servants of the inn,
that the party was to start at daybreak for Sagara, stopping at Isé to
worship at the shrine of Tershô Daijin.[19]

[Footnote 19: Goddess of the sun, and ancestress of the Mikados.]

Matayémon made his preparations accordingly, and, with Kazuma and his
two retainers, started before dawn. Beyond Uyéno, in the province of
Iga, the castle-town of the Daimio Tôdô Idzumi no Kami, there is a
wide and lonely moor; and this was the place upon which they fixed for
the attack upon the enemy. When they had arrived at the spot,
Matayémon went into a tea-house by the roadside, and wrote a petition
to the governor of the Daimio's castle-town for permission to carry
out the vendetta within its precincts;[20] then he addressed Kazuma,
and said--

"When we fall in with Matagorô and begin the fight, do you engage and
slay your father's murderer; attack him and him only, and I will keep
off his guard of Rônins;" then turning to his two retainers, "As for
you, keep close to Kazuma; and should the Rônins attempt to rescue
Matagorô, it will be your duty to prevent them, and succour Kazuma."
And having further laid down each man's duties with great minuteness,
they lay in wait for the arrival of the enemy. Whilst they were
resting in the tea-house, the governor of the castle-town arrived,
and, asking for Matayémou, said--

"I have the honour to be the governor of the castle-town of Tôdô
Idzumi no Kami. My lord, having learnt your intention of slaying your
enemy within the precincts of his citadel, gives his consent; and as a
proof of his admiration of your fidelity and valour, he has further
sent you a detachment of infantry, one hundred strong, to guard the
place; so that should any of the thirty-six men attempt to escape, you
may set your mind at ease, for flight will be impossible."

[Footnote 20: "In respect to revenging injury done to master or
father, it is granted by the wise and virtuous (Confucius) that you
and the injurer cannot live together under the canopy of heaven.

"A person harbouring such vengeance shall notify the same in writing
to the Criminal Court; and although no check or hindrance may be
offered to his carrying out his desire within the period allowed for
that purpose, it is forbidden that the chastisement of an enemy be
attended with riot.

"Fellows who neglect to give notice of their intended revenge are like
wolves of pretext, and their punishment or pardon should depend upon
the circumstances of the case."--_Legacy of Iyéyasu_, ut suprà.]

When Matayémon and Kazurna had expressed their thanks for his
lordship's gracious kindness, the governor took his leave and returned
home. At last the enemy's train was seen in the distance. First came
Sakurai Jiuzayémon and his younger brother Jinsuké; and next to them
followed Kawai Matagorô and Takénouchi Gentan. These four men, who
were the bravest and the foremost of the band of Rônins, were riding
on pack-horses, and the remainder were marching on foot, keeping close

As they drew near, Kazuma, who was impatient to avenge his father,
stepped boldly forward and shouted in a loud voice--

"Here stand I, Kazuma, the son of Yukiyé, whom you, Matagorô,
treacherously slew, determined to avenge my father's death. Come
forth, then, and do battle with me, and let us see which of us twain
is the better man."

And before the Rônins had recovered from their astonishment, Matayémon

"I, Araké Matayémon, the son-in-law of Yukiyé, have come to second
Kazuma in his deed of vengeance. Win or lose, you must give us

When the thirty-six men heard the name of Matayémon, they were greatly
afraid; but Sakurai Jiuzayémon urged them to be upon their guard, and
leaped from his horse; and Matayémon, springing forward with his drawn
sword, cleft him from the shoulder to the nipple of his breast, so
that he fell dead. Sakurai Jinsuké, seeing his brother killed before
his eyes, grew furious, and shot an arrow at Matayémon, who deftly cut
the shaft in two with his dirk as it flew; and Jinsuké, amazed at this
feat, threw away his bow and attacked Matayémon, who, with his sword
in his right hand and his dirk in his left, fought with desperation.
The other Rônins attempted to rescue Jinsuké, and, in the struggle,
Kazuma, who had engaged Matagorô, became separated from Matayémon,
whose two retainers, Busuké and Magohachi, bearing in mind their
master's orders, killed five Rônins who had attacked Kazuma, but were
themselves badly wounded. In the meantime, Matayémon, who had killed
seven of the Rônins, and who the harder he was pressed the more
bravely he fought, soon cut down three more, and the remainder dared
not approach him. At this moment there came up one Kanô Tozayémon, a
retainer of the lord of the castle-town, and an old friend of
Matayémon, who, when he heard that Matayémon was this day about to
avenge his father-in-law, had seized his spear and set out, for the
sake of the good-will between them, to help him, and act as his
second, and said--

"Sir Matayémon, hearing of the perilous adventure in which you have
engaged, I have come out to offer myself as your second."

Matayémon, hearing this, was rejoiced, and fought with renewed vigour.
Then one of the Rônins, named Takénouchi Gentan, a very brave man,
leaving his companions to do battle with Matayémon, came to the rescue
of Matagorô, who was being hotly pressed by Kazuma, and, in attempting
to prevent this, Busuké fell covered with wounds. His companion
Magohachi, seeing him fall, was in great anxiety; for should any harm
happen to Kazuma, what excuse could he make to Matayémon? So, wounded
as he was, he too engaged Takénouchi Gentan, and, being crippled by
the gashes he had received, was in deadly peril. Then the man who had
come up from the castle-town to act as Matayémon's second cried out--

"See there, Sir Matayémon, your follower who is fighting with Gentan
is in great danger. Do you go to his rescue, and second Sir Kazuma: I
will give an account of the others!"

"Great thanks to you, sir. I will go and second Kazuma."

So Matayémon went to help Kazuma, whilst his second and the infantry
soldiers kept back the surviving Rônins, who, already wearied by their
fight with Matayémon, were unfit for any further exertion. Kazuma
meanwhile was still fighting with Matagorô, and the issue of the
conflict was doubtful; and Takénouchi Gentan, in his attempt to rescue
Matagorô, was being kept at bay by Magohachi, who, weakened by his
wounds, and blinded by the blood which was streaming into his eyes
from a cut in the forehead, had given himself up for lost when
Matayémon came and cried--

"Be of good cheer, Magohachi; it is I, Matayémon, who have come to the
rescue. You are badly hurt; get out of harm's way, and rest yourself."

Then Magohachi, who until then had been kept up by his anxiety for
Kazuma's safety, gave in, and fell fainting from loss of blood; and
Matayémon worsted and slew Gentan; and even then, although be had
received two wounds, he was not exhausted, but drew near to Kazuma and

"Courage, Kazuma! The Rônins are all killed, and there now remains
only Matagorô, your father's murderer. Fight and win!"

The youth, thus encouraged, redoubled his efforts; but Matagorô,
losing heart, quailed and fell. So Kazuma's vengeance was fulfilled,
and the desire of his heart was accomplished.

The two faithful retainers, who had died in their loyalty, were buried
with great ceremony, and Kazuma carried the head of Matagorô and
piously laid it upon his father's tomb.

So ends the tale of Kazuma's revenge.

I fear that stories of which killing and bloodshed form the principal
features can hardly enlist much sympathy in these peaceful days.
Still, when such tales are based upon history, they are interesting to
students of social phenomena. The story of Kazuma's revenge is mixed
up with events which at the present time are peculiarly significant: I
mean the feud between the great Daimios and the Hatamotos. Those who
have followed the modern history of Japan will see that the recent
struggle, which has ended in the ruin of the Tycoon's power and the
abolition of his office, was the outburst of a hidden fire which had
been smouldering for centuries. But the repressive might had been
gradually weakened, and contact with Western powers had rendered still
more odious a feudality which men felt to be out of date. The
revolution which has ended in the triumph of the Daimios over the
Tycoon, is also the triumph of the vassal over his feudal lord, and is
the harbinger of political life to the people at large. In the time of
Iyéyasu the burden might be hateful, but it had to be borne; and so it
would have been to this day, had not circumstances from without broken
the spell. The Japanese Daimio, in advocating the isolation of his
country, was hugging the very yoke which he hated. Strange to say,
however, there are still men who, while they embrace the new political
creed, yet praise the past, and look back with regret upon the day
when Japan stood alone, without part or share in the great family of

NOTE.--_Hatamoto_. This word means "_under the flag_." The Hatamotos
were men who, as their name implied, rallied round the standard of the
Shogun, or Tycoon, in war-time. They were eighty thousand in number.
When Iyéyasu left the Province of Mikawa and became Shogun, the
retainers whom he ennobled, and who received from him grants of land
yielding revenue to the amount of ten thousand kokus of rice a year,
and from that down to one hundred kokus, were called _Hatamoto_. In
return for these grants of land, the Hatamotos had in war-time to
furnish a contingent of soldiers in proportion to their revenue. For
every thousand kokus of rice five men were required. Those Hatamotos
whose revenue fell short of a thousand kokus substituted a quota of
money. In time of peace most of the minor offices of the Tycoon's
government were filled by Hatamotos, the more important places being
held by the Fudai, or vassal Daimios of the Shogun. Seven years ago,
in imitation of the customs of foreign nations, a standing army was
founded; and then the Hatamotos had to contribute their quota of men
or of money, whether the country were at peace or at war. When the
Shogun was reduced in 1868 to the rank of a simple Daimio, his revenue
of eight million kokus reverted to the Government, with the exception
of seven hundred thousand kokus. The title of Hatamoto exists no more,
and those who until a few months ago held the rank are for the most
part ruined or dispersed. From having been perhaps the proudest and
most overbearing class in Japan, they are driven to the utmost straits
of poverty. Some have gone into trade, with the heirlooms of their
families as their stock; others are wandering through the country as
Rônins; while a small minority have been allowed to follow the fallen
fortunes of their master's family, the present chief of which is known
as the Prince of Tokugawa. Thus are the eighty thousand dispersed.

The koku of rice, in which all revenue is calculated, is of varying
value. At the cheapest it is worth rather more than a pound sterling,
and sometimes almost three times as much. The salaries of officials
being paid in rice, it follows that there is a large and influential
class throughout the country who are interested in keeping up the
price of the staple article of food. Hence the opposition with which a
free trade in rice has met, even in famine times. Hence also the
frequent so-called "Rice Riots."

The amounts at which the lands formerly held by the chief Daimios, but
now patriotically given up by them to the Mikado, were assessed, sound
fabulous. The Prince of Kaga alone had an income of more than one
million two hundred thousand kokus. Yet these great proprietors were,
latterly at least, embarrassed men. They had many thousand mouths to
feed, and were mulcted of their dues right and left; while their mania
for buying foreign ships and munitions of war, often at exorbitant
prices, had plunged them heavily in debt.




The word Otokodaté occurs several times in these Tales; and as I
cannot convey its full meaning by a simple translation, I must
preserve it in the text, explaining it by the following note, taken
from the Japanese of a native scholar.

The Otokodaté were friendly associations of brave men bound together
by an obligation to stand by one another in weal or in woe, regardless
of their own lives, and without inquiring into one another's
antecedents. A bad man, however, having joined the Otokodaté must
forsake his evil ways; for their principle was to treat the oppressor
as an enemy, and to help the feeble as a father does his child. If
they had money, they gave it to those that had none, and their
charitable deeds won for them the respect of all men. The head of the
society was called its "Father"; if any of the others, who were his
apprentices, were homeless, they lived with the Father and served him,
paying him at the same time a small fee, in consideration of which, if
they fell sick or into misfortune, he took charge of them and assisted

The Father of the Otokodaté pursued the calling of farming out coolies
to the Daimios and great personages for their journeys to and from
Yedo, and in return for this received from them rations in rice. He
had more influence with the lower classes even than the officials; and
if the coolies had struck work or refused to accompany a Daimio on his
journey, a word from the Father would produce as many men as might be
required. When Prince Tokugawa Iyémochi, the last but one of the
Shoguns, left Yedo for Kiôto, one Shimmon Tatsugorô, chief of the
Otokodaté, undertook the management of his journey, and some three or
four years ago was raised to the dignity of Hatamoto for many faithful
services. After the battle of Fushimi, and the abolition of the
Shogunate, he accompanied the last of the Shoguns in his retirement.

In old days there were also Otokodaté among the Hatamotos; this was
after the civil wars of the time of Iyéyasu, when, though the country
was at peace, the minds of men were still in a state of high
excitement, and could not be reconciled to the dulness of a state of
rest; it followed that broils and faction fights were continually
taking place among the young men of the Samurai class, and that those
who distinguished themselves by their personal strength and valour
were looked up to as captains. Leagues after the manner of those
existing among the German students were formed in different quarters
of the city, under various names, and used to fight for the honour of
victory. When the country became more thoroughly tranquil, the custom
of forming these leagues amongst gentlemen fell into disuse.

The past tense is used in speaking even of the Otokodaté of the lower
classes; for although they nominally exist, they have no longer the
power and importance which they enjoyed at the time to which these
stories belong. They then, like the 'prentices of Old London, played a
considerable part in the society of the great cities, and that man was
lucky, were he gentle Samurai or simple wardsman, who could claim the
Father of the Otokodaté for his friend.

The word, taken by itself, means a manly or plucky fellow.

       *       *       *       *       *

Chôbei of Bandzuin was the chief of the Otokodaté of Yedo. He was
originally called Itarô, and was the son of a certain Rônin who lived
in the country. One day, when he was only ten years of age, he went
out with a playfellow to bathe in the river; and as the two were
playing they quarrelled over their game, and Itarô, seizing the other
boy, threw him into the river and drowned him.

Then he went home, and said to his father--

"I went to play by the river to-day, with a friend; and as he was rude
to me, I threw him into the water and killed him."

When his father heard him speak thus, quite calmly, as if nothing had
happened, he was thunderstruck, and said--

"This is indeed a fearful thing. Child as you are, you will have to
pay the penalty of your deed; so to-night you must fly to Yedo in
secret, and take service with some noble Samurai, and perhaps in time
you may become a soldier yourself."

With these words he gave him twenty ounces of silver and a fine sword,
made by the famous swordsmith Rai Kunitoshi, and sent him out of the
province with all dispatch. The following morning the parents of the
murdered child came to claim that Itarô should be given up to their
vengeance; but it was too late, and all they could do was to bury
their child and mourn for his loss.

Itarô made his way to Yedo in hot haste, and there found employment as
a shop-boy; but soon tiring of that sort of life, and burning to
become a soldier, he found means at last to enter the service of a
certain Hatamoto called Sakurai Shôzayémon, and changed his name to
Tsunéhei. Now this Sakurai Shôzayémon had a son, called Shônosuké, a
young man in his seventeenth year, who grew so fond of Tsunéhei that
he took him with him wherever he went, and treated him in all ways as
an equal.

When Shônosuké went to the fencing-school Tsunéhei would accompany
him, and thus, as he was by nature strong and active, soon became a
good swordsman.

One day, when Shôzayémon had gone out, his son Shônosuké said to

"You know how fond my father is of playing at football: it must be
great sport. As he has gone out to-day, suppose you and I have a

"That will be rare sport," answered Tsunéhei. "Let us make haste and
play, before my lord comes home."

So the two boys went out into the garden, and began trying to kick the
football; but, lacking skill, do what they would, they could not lift
it from the ground. At last Shônosuké, with a vigorous kick, raised
the football; but, having missed his aim, it went tumbling over the
wall into the next garden, which belonged to one Hikosaka Zempachi, a
teacher of lance exercise, who was known to be a surly, ill-tempered

"Oh, dear! what shall we do?" said Shônosuké. "We have lost my
father's football in his absence; and if we go and ask for it back
from that churlish neighbour of ours, we shall only be scolded and
sworn at for our pains."

"Oh, never mind," answered Tsunéhei; "I will go and apologize for our
carelessness, and get the football back."

"Well, but then you will be chidden, and I don't want that."

"Never mind me. Little care I for his cross words." So Tsunéhei went
to the next-door house to reclaim the ball.

Now it so happened that Zempachi, the surly neighbour, had been
walking in his garden whilst the two youths were playing; and as he
was admiring the beauty of his favourite chrysanthemums, the football
came flying over the wall and struck him full in the face. Zempachi,
not used to anything but flattery and coaxing, flew into a violent
rage at this; and while he was thinking how he would revenge himself
upon any one who might be sent to ask for the lost ball, Tsunéhei came
in, and said to one of Zempachi's servants--

"I am sorry to say that in my lord's absence I took his football, and,
in trying to play with it, clumsily kicked it over your wall. I beg
you to excuse my carelessness, and to be so good as to give me back
the ball."

The servant went in and repeated this to Zempachi, who worked himself
up into a great rage, and ordered Tsunéhei to be brought before him,
and said--

"Here, fellow, is your name Tsunéhei?"

"Yes, sir, at your service. I am almost afraid to ask pardon for my
carelessness; but please forgive me, and let me have the ball."

"I thought your master, Shôzayémon, was to blame for this; but it
seems that it was you who kicked the football."

"Yes, sir. I am sure I am very sorry for what I have done. Please, may
I ask for the ball?" said Tsunéhei, bowing humbly.

For a while Zempachi made no answer, but at length he said--

"Do you know, villain, that your dirty football struck me in the
face? I ought, by rights, to kill you on the spot for this; but I will
spare your life this time, so take your football and be off." And with
that he went up to Tsunéhei and beat him, and kicked him in the head,
and spat in his face.

Then Tsunéhei, who up to that time had demeaned himself very humbly,
in his eagerness to get back the football, jumped up in a fury, and

"I made ample apologies to you for my carelessness, and now you have
insulted and struck me. Ill-mannered ruffian! take back the
ball,--I'll none of it;" and he drew his dirk, and cutting the
football in two, threw it at Zempachi, and returned home.

But Zempachi, growing more and more angry, called one of his servants,
and said to him--

"That fellow, Tsunéhei, has been most insolent: go next door and find
out Shôzayémon, and tell him that I have ordered you to bring back
Tsunéhei, that I may kill him."

So the servant went to deliver the message.

In the meantime Tsunéhei went back to his master's house; and when
Shônosuké saw him, he said--

"Well, of course you have been ill treated; but did you get back the

"When I went in, I made many apologies; but I was beaten, and kicked
in the head, and treated with the greatest indignity. I would have
killed that wretch, Zempachi, at once, but that I knew that, if I did
so while I was yet a member of your household, I should bring trouble
upon your family. For your sake I bore this ill-treatment patiently;
but now I pray you let me take leave of you and become a Rônin, that I
may be revenged upon this man."

"Think well what you are doing," answered Shônosuké. "After all, we
have only lost a football; and my father will not care, nor upbraid

But Tsiméhei would not listen to him, and was bent upon wiping out the
affront that he had received. As they were talking, the messenger
arrived from Zempachi, demanding the surrender of Tsunéhei, on the
ground that he had insulted him: to this Shônosuké replied that his
father was away from home, and that in his absence he could do

At last Shôzayémon came home; and when he heard what had happened he
was much grieved, and at a loss what to do, when a second messenger
arrived from Zempachi, demanding that Tsunéhei should be given up
without delay. Then Shôzayémon, seeing that the matter was serious,
called the youth to him, and said--

"This Zempachi is heartless and cruel, and if you go to his house will
assuredly kill you; take, therefore, these fifty riyos, and fly to
Osaka or Kiôto, where you may safely set up in business."

"Sir," answered Tsunéhei, with tears of gratitude for his lord's
kindness, "from my heart I thank you for your great goodness; but I
have been insulted and trampled upon, and, if I lay down my life in
the attempt, I will repay Zempachi for what he has this day done."

"Well, then, since you needs must be revenged, go and fight, and may
success attend you! Still, as much depends upon the blade you carry,
and I fear yours is likely to be but a sorry weapon, I will give you a
sword;" and with this he offered Tsunéhei his own.

"Nay, my lord," replied Tsunéhei; "I have a famous sword, by Rai
Kunitoshi, which my father gave me. I have never shown it to your
lordship, but I have it safely stowed away in my room."

When Shôzayémon saw and examined the sword, he admired it greatly, and
said, "This is indeed a beautiful blade, and one on which you may
rely. Take it, then, and bear yourself nobly in the fight; only
remember that Zempachi is a cunning spearsman, and be sure to be very

So Tsunéhei, after thanking his lord for his manifold kindnesses, took
an affectionate leave, and went to Zempachi's house, and said to the

"It seems that your master wants to speak to me. Be so good as to take
me to see him."

So the servant led him into the garden, where Zempachi, spear in hand,
was waiting to kill him. When Zempachi saw him, he cried out--

"Ha! so you have come back; and now for your insolence, this day I
mean to kill you with my own hand."

"Insolent yourself!" replied Tsunéhei. "Beast, and no Samurai! Come,
let us see which of us is the better man."

Furiously incensed, Zempachi thrust with his spear at Tsunéhei; but
he, trusting to his good sword, attacked Zempachi, who, cunning
warrior as he was, could gain no advantage. At last Zempachi, losing
his temper, began fighting less carefully, so that Tsunéhei found an
opportunity of cutting the shaft of his spear. Zempachi then drew his
sword, and two of his retainers came up to assist him; but Tsunéhei
killed one of them, and wounded Zempachi in the forehead. The second
retainer fled affrighted at the youth's valour, and Zempachi was
blinded by the blood which flowed from the wound on his forehead. Then
Tsunéhei said--

"To kill one who is as a blind man were unworthy a soldier. Wipe the
blood from your eyes, Sir Zempachi, and let us fight it out fairly."

So Zempachi, wiping away his blood, bound a kerchief round his head,
and fought again desperately. But at last the pain of his wound and
the loss of blood overcame him, and Tsunéhei cut him down with a wound
in the shoulder and easily dispatched him.

Then Tsunéhei went and reported the whole matter to the Governor of
Yedo, and was put in prison until an inquiry could be made. But the
Chief Priest of Bandzuin, who had heard of the affair, went and told
the governor all the bad deeds of Zempachi, and having procured
Tsunéhei's pardon, took him home and employed him as porter in the
temple. So Tsunéhei changed his name to Chôbei, and earned much
respect in the neighbourhood, both for his talents and for his many
good works. If any man were in distress, he would help him, heedless
of his own advantage or danger, until men came to look up to him as to
a father, and many youths joined him and became his apprentices. So he
built a house at Hanakawado, in Asakusa, and lived there with his
apprentices, whom he farmed out as spearsmen and footmen to the
Daimios and Hatamotos, taking for himself the tithe of their earnings.
But if any of them were sick or in trouble, Chôbei would nurse and
support them, and provide physicians and medicine. And the fame of his
goodness went abroad until his apprentices were more than two thousand
men, and were employed in every part of the city. But as for Chôbei,
the more he prospered, the more he gave in charity, and all men
praised his good and generous heart.

This was the time when the Hatamotos had formed themselves into bands
of Otokodaté,[21] of which Midzuno Jiurozayémon, Kondô Noborinosuké,
and Abé Shirogorô were the chiefs. And the leagues of the nobles
despised the leagues of the wardsmen, and treated them with scorn, and
tried to put to shame Chôbei and his brave men; but the nobles'
weapons recoiled upon themselves, and, whenever they tried to bring
contempt upon Chôbei, they themselves were brought to ridicule. So
there was great hatred on both sides.

[Footnote 21: See the story of Kazuma's Revenge.]

One day, that Chôbei went to divert himself in a tea-house in the
Yoshiwara, he saw a felt carpet spread in an upper room, which had
been adorned as for some special occasion; and he asked the master of
the house what guest of distinction was expected. The landlord replied
that my Lord Jiurozayémon, the chief of the Otokodaté of the
Hatamotos, was due there that afternoon. On hearing this, Chôbei
replied that as he much wished to meet my Lord Jiurozayémon, he would
lie down and await his coming. The landlord was put out at this, and
knew not what to say; but yet he dare not thwart Chôbei, the powerful
chief of the Otokodaté. So Chôbei took off his clothes and laid
himself down upon the carpet. After a while my Lord Jiurozayémon
arrived, and going upstairs found a man of large stature lying naked
upon the carpet which had been spread for him.

"What low ruffian is this?" shouted he angrily to the landlord.

"My lord, it is Chôbei, the chief of the Otokodaté," answered the man,

Jiurozayémon at once suspected that Chôbei was doing this to insult
him; so he sat down by the side of the sleeping man, and lighting his
pipe began to smoke. When he had finished his pipe, he emptied the
burning ashes into Chôbei's navel; but Chôbei, patiently bearing the
pain, still feigned sleep. Ten times did Jiurozayémon fill his
pipe,[22] and ten times he shook out the burning ashes on to Chôbei's
navel; but he neither stirred nor spoke. Then Jiurozayémon, astonished
at his fortitude, shook him, and roused him, saying--

"Chôbei! Chôbei! wake up, man."

"What is the matter?" said Chôbei, rubbing his eyes as though he were
awaking from a deep sleep; then seeing Jiurozayémon, he pretended to
be startled, and said, "Oh, my lord, I know not who you are; but I
have been very rude to your lordship. I was overcome with wine, and
fell asleep: I pray your lordship to forgive me."

"Is your name Chôbei?"

"Yes, my lord, at your service. A poor wardsman, and ignorant of good
manners, I have been very rude; but I pray your lordship to excuse my

"Nay, nay; we have all heard the fame of Chôbei, of Bandzuin, and I
hold myself lucky to have met you this day. Let us be friends."

"It is a great honour for a humble wardsman to meet a nobleman face to

[Footnote 22: The tiny Japanese pipe contains but two or three whiffs;
and as the tobacco is rolled up tightly in the fingers before it is
inserted, the ash, when shaken out, is a little fire-ball from which a
second pipe is lighted.]

As they were speaking, the waitresses brought in fish and wine, and
Jiurozayémon pressed Chôbei to feast with him; and thinking to annoy
Chôbei, offered him a large wine-cup,[23] which, however, he drank
without shrinking, and then returned to his entertainer, who was by no
means so well able to bear the fumes of the wine. Then Jiurozayémon
hit upon another device for annoying Chôbei, and, hoping to frighten
him, said--

"Here, Chôbei, let me offer you some fish;" and with those words he
drew his sword, and, picking up a cake of baked fish upon the point of
it, thrust it towards the wardsman's mouth. Any ordinary man would
have been afraid to accept the morsel so roughly offered; but Chôbei
simply opened his mouth, and taking the cake off the sword's point ate
it without wincing. Whilst Jiurozayémon was wondering in his heart
what manner of man this was, that nothing could daunt, Chôbei said to

"This meeting with your lordship has been an auspicious occasion to
me, and I would fain ask leave to offer some humble gift to your
lordship in memory of it.[24] Is there anything which your lordship
would specially fancy?"

"I am very fond of cold macaroni."

[Footnote 23: It is an act of rudeness to offer a large wine-cup. As,
however, the same cup is returned to the person who has offered it,
the ill carries with it its own remedy. At a Japanese feast the same
cup is passed from hand to hand, each person rinsing it in a bowl of
water after using it, and before offering it to another.]

[Footnote 24: The giving of presents from inferiors to superiors is a
common custom.]

"Then I shall have the honour of ordering some for your lordship;" and
with this Chôbei went downstairs, and calling one of his apprentices,
named Tôken Gombei,[25] who was waiting for him, gave him a hundred
riyos (about £28), and bade him collect all the cold macaroni to be
found in the neighbouring cook-shops and pile it up in front of the
tea-house. So Gombei went home, and, collecting Chôbei's apprentices,
sent them out in all directions to buy the macaroni. Jiurozayémon all
this while was thinking of the pleasure he would have in laughing at
Chôbei for offering him a mean and paltry present; but when, by
degrees, the macaroni began to be piled mountain-high around the
tea-house, he saw that he could not make a fool of Chôbei, and went
home discomfited.

[Footnote 25: _Tôken_, a nickname given to Gombei, after a savage dog
that he killed. As a Chônin, or wardsman, he had no surname.]

It has already been told how Shirai Gompachi was befriended and helped
by Chôbei.[26] His name will occur again in this story.

[Footnote 26: See the story of Gompachi and Komurasaki.]

At this time there lived in the province of Yamato a certain Daimio,
called Honda Dainaiki, who one day, when surrounded by several of his
retainers, produced a sword, and bade them look at it and say from
what smith's workshop the blade had come.

"I think this must be a Masamuné blade," said one Fuwa Banzayémon.

"No," said Nagoya Sanza, after examining the weapon attentively, "this
certainly is a Muramasa."[27]

[Footnote 27: The swords of Muramasa, although so finely tempered that
they are said to cut hard iron as though it were a melon, have the
reputation of being unlucky: they are supposed by the superstitious to
hunger after taking men's lives, and to be unable to repose in their
scabbards. The principal duty of a sword is to preserve tranquillity
in the world, by punishing the wicked and protecting the good. But the
bloodthirsty swords of Muramasa rather have the effect of maddening
their owners, so that they either kill others indiscriminately or
commit suicide. At the end of the sixteenth century Prince Tokugawa
Iyéyasu was in the habit of carrying a spear made by Muramasa, with
which he often scratched or cut himself by mistake. Hence the Tokugawa
family avoid girding on Muramasa blades, which are supposed to be
specially unlucky to their race. The murders of Gompachi, who wore a
sword by this maker, also contributed to give his weapons a bad name.

The swords of one Tôshirô Yoshimitsu, on the other hand, are specially
auspicious to the Tokugawa family, for the following reason. After
Iyéyasu had been defeated by Takéta Katsuyori, at the battle of the
river Tenrin, he took refuge in the house of a village doctor,
intending to put an end to his existence by _hara-kiri,_ and drawing
his dirk, which was made by Yoshimitsu, tried to plunge it into his
belly, when, to his surprise, the blade turned. Thinking that the dirk
must be a bad one, he took up an iron mortar for grinding medicines
and tried it upon that, and the point entered and transfixed the
mortar. He was about to stab himself a second time, when his
followers, who had missed him, and had been searching for him
everywhere, came up, and seeing their master about to kill himself,
stayed his hand, and took away the dirk by force. Then they set him
upon his horse and compelled him to fly to his own province of Mikawa,
whilst they kept his pursuers at bay. After this, when, by the favour
of Heaven, Iyéyasu became Shogun, it was considered that of a surety
there must have been a good spirit in the blade that refused to drink
his blood; and ever since that time the blades of Yoshimitsu have been
considered lucky in his family.]

A third Samurai, named Takagi Umanojô, pronounced it to be the work
of Shidzu Kanenji; and as they could not agree, but each maintained
his opinion, their lord sent for a famous connoisseur to decide the
point; and the sword proved, as Sanza had said, to be a genuine
Muramasa. Sanza was delighted at the verdict; but the other two went
home rather crestfallen. Umanojô, although he had been worsted in the
argument, bore no malice nor ill-will in his heart; but Banzayémon,
who was a vainglorious personage, puffed up with the idea of his own
importance, conceived a spite against Sanza, and watched for an
opportunity to put him to shame. At last, one day Banzayémon, eager to
be revenged upon Sanza, went to the Prince, and said, "Your lordship
ought to see Sanza fence; his swordsmanship is beyond all praise. I
know that I am no match for him; still, if it will please your
lordship, I will try a bout with him;" and the Prince, who was a mere
stripling, and thought it would be rare sport, immediately sent for
Sanza and desired he would fence with Banzayémon. So the two went out
into the garden, and stood up facing each other, armed with wooden
swords. Now Banzayémon was proud of his skill, and thought he had no
equal in fencing; so he expected to gain an easy victory over Sanza,
and promised himself the luxury of giving his adversary a beating that
should fully make up for the mortification which he had felt in the
matter of the dispute about the sword. It happened, however, that he
had undervalued the skill of Sanza, who, when he saw that his
adversary was attacking him savagely and in good earnest, by a rapid
blow struck Banzayémon so sharply on the wrist that he dropped the
sword, and, before he could pick it up again, delivered a second cut
on the shoulder, which sent him rolling over in the dust. All the
officers present, seeing this, praised Sanza's skill, and Banzayémon,
utterly stricken with shame, ran away home and hid himself.

After this affair Sanza rose high in the favour of his lord; and
Banzayémon, who was more than ever jealous of him, feigned sickness,
and stayed at home devising schemes for Sanza's ruin.

Now it happened that the Prince, wishing to have the Muramasa blade
mounted, sent for Sanza and entrusted it to his care, ordering him to
employ the most cunning workmen in the manufacture of the
scabbard-hilt and ornaments; and Sanza, having received the blade,
took it home, and put it carefully away. When Banzayémon heard of
this, he was overjoyed; for he saw that his opportunity for revenge
had come. He determined, if possible, to kill Sanza, but at any rate
to steal the sword which had been committed to his care by the Prince,
knowing full well that if Sanza lost the sword he and his family would
be ruined. Being a single man, without wife or child, he sold his
furniture, and, turning all his available property into money, made
ready to fly the country. When his preparations were concluded, he
went in the middle of the night to Sanza's house and tried to get in
by stealth; but the doors and shutters were all carefully bolted from
the inside, and there was no hole by which he could effect an
entrance. All was still, however, and the people of the house were
evidently fast asleep; so he climbed up to the second storey, and,
having contrived to unfasten a window, made his way in. With soft,
cat-like footsteps he crept downstairs, and, looking into one of the
rooms, saw Sanza and his wife sleeping on the mats, with their little
son Kosanza, a boy of thirteen, curled up in his quilt between them.
The light in the night-lamp was at its last flicker, but, peering
through the gloom, he could just see the Prince's famous Muramasa
sword lying on a sword-rack in the raised part of the room: so he
crawled stealthily along until he could reach it, and stuck it in his
girdle. Then, drawing near to Sanza, he bestrode his sleeping body,
and, brandishing the sword made a thrust at his throat; but in his
excitement his hand shook, so that he missed his aim, and only
scratched Sanza, who, waking with a start and trying to jump up, felt
himself held down by a man standing over him. Stretching out his
hands, he would have wrestled with his enemy; when Banzayémon, leaping
back, kicked over the night-lamp, and throwing open the shutters,
dashed into the garden. Snatching up his sword, Sanza rushed out after
him; and his wife, having lit a lantern and armed herself with a
halberd,[28] went out, with her son Kosanza, who carried a drawn dirk,
to help her husband. Then Banzayémon, who was hiding in the shadow of
a large pine-tree, seeing the lantern and dreading detection, seized a
stone and hurled it at the light, and, chancing to strike it, put it
out, and then scrambling over the fence unseen, fled into the
darkness. When Sanza had searched all over the garden in vain, he
returned to his room and examined his wound, which proving very
slight, he began to look about to see whether the thief had carried
off anything; but when his eye fell upon the place where the Muramasa
sword had lain, he saw that it was gone. He hunted everywhere, but it
was not to be found. The precious blade with which his Prince had
entrusted him had been stolen, and the blame would fall heavily upon
him. Filled with grief and shame at the loss, Sanza and his wife and
child remained in great anxiety until the morning broke, when he
reported the matter to one of the Prince's councillors, and waited in
seclusion until he should receive his lord's commands.

[Footnote 28: The halberd is the special arm of the Japanese woman of
gentle blood. That which was used by Kasa Gozen, one of the ladies of
Yoshitsuné, the hero of the twelfth century, is still preserved at
Asakusa. In old-fashioned families young ladies are regularly
instructed in fencing with the halberds.]

It soon became known that Banzayémon, who had fled the province, was
the thief; and the councillors made their report accordingly to the
Prince, who, although he expressed his detestation of the mean action
of Banzayémon, could not absolve Sanza from blame, in that he had not
taken better precautions to insure the safety of the sword that had
been committed to his trust. It was decided, therefore, that Sanza
should be dismissed from his service, and that his goods should be
confiscated; with the proviso that should he be able to find
Banzayémon, and recover the lost Muramasa blade, he should be restored
to his former position. Sanza, who from the first had made up his mind
that his punishment would be severe, accepted the decree without a
murmur; and, having committed his wife and son to the care of his
relations, prepared to leave the country as a Rônin and search for

Before starting, however, he thought that he would go to his
brother-officer, Takagi Umanojô, and consult with him as to what
course he should pursue to gain his end. But this Umanojô, who was by
nature a churlish fellow, answered him unkindly, and said--

"It is true that Banzayémon is a mean thief; but still it was through
your carelessness that the sword was lost. It is of no avail your
coming to me for help: you must get it back as best you may."

"Ah!" replied Sanza, "I see that you too bear me a grudge because I
defeated you in the matter of the judgment of the sword. You are no
better than Banzayémon yourself."

And his heart was bitter against his fellow men, and he left the house
determined to kill Umanojô first and afterwards to track out
Banzayémon; so, pretending to start on his journey, he hid in an inn,
and waited for an opportunity to attack Umanojô.

One day Umanojô, who was very fond of fishing, had taken his son
Umanosuké, a lad of sixteen, down to the sea-shore with him; and as
the two were enjoying themselves, all of a sudden they perceived a
Samurai running towards them, and when he drew near they saw that it
was Sanza. Umanojô, thinking that Sanza had come back in order to talk
over some important matter, left his angling and went to meet him.
Then Sanza cried out--

"Now, Sir Umanojô, draw and defend yourself. What! were you in league
with Banzayémon to vent your spite upon me? Draw, sir, draw! You have
spirited away your accomplice; but, at any rate, you are here
yourself, and shall answer for your deed. It is no use playing the
innocent; your astonished face shall not save you. Defend yourself,
coward and traitor!" and with these words Sanza flourished his naked

"Nay, Sir Sanza," replied the other, anxious by a soft answer to turn
away his wrath; "I am innocent of this deed. Waste not your valour on
so poor a cause."

"Lying knave!" said Sanza; "think not that you can impose upon me. I
know your treacherous heart;" and, rushing upon Umanojô, he cut him on
the forehead so that he fell in agony upon the sand.

Umanosuké in the meanwhile, who had been fishing at some distance from
his father, rushed up when he saw him in this perilous situation and
threw a stone at Sanza, hoping to distract his attention; but, before
he could reach the spot, Sanza had delivered the death-blow, and
Umanojô lay a corpse upon the beach.

"Stop, Sir Sanza--murderer of my father!" cried Umanosuké, drawing
his sword, "stop and do battle with me, that I may avenge his death."

"That you should wish to slay your father's enemy," replied Sanza, "is
but right and proper; and although I had just cause of quarrel with
your father, and killed him, as a Samurai should, yet would I gladly
forfeit my life to you here; but my life is precious to me for one
purpose--that I may punish Banzayémon and get back the stolen sword.
When I shall have restored that sword to my lord, then will I give you
your revenge, and you may kill me. A soldier's word is truth; but, as
a pledge that I will fulfil my promise, I will give to you, as
hostages, my wife and boy. Stay your avenging hand, I pray you, until
my desire shall have been attained."

Umanosuké, who was a brave and honest youth, as famous in the clan for
the goodness of his heart as for his skill in the use of arms, when he
heard Sanza's humble petition, relented, and said--

"I agree to wait, and will take your wife and boy as hostages for your

"I humbly thank you," said Sanza. "When I shall have chastised
Banzayémon, I will return, and you shall claim your revenge."

So Sanza went his way to Yedo to seek for Banzayémon, and Umanosuké
mourned over his father's grave.

Now Banzayémon, when he arrived in Yedo, found himself friendless and
without the means of earning his living, when by accident he heard of
the fame of Chôbei of Bandzuin, the chief of the Otokodaté, to whom he
applied for assistance; and having entered the fraternity, supported
himself by giving fencing-lessons. He had been plying his trade for
some time, and had earned some little reputation, when Sanza reached
the city and began his search for him. But the days and months passed
away, and, after a year's fruitless seeking, Sanza, who had spent all
his money without obtaining a clue to the whereabouts of his enemy,
was sorely perplexed, and was driven to live by his wits as a
fortune-teller. Work as he would, it was a hard matter for him to gain
the price of his daily food, and, in spite of all his pains, his
revenge seemed as far off as ever, when he bethought him that the
Yoshiwara was one of the most bustling places in the city, and that if
he kept watch there, sooner or later he would be sure to fall in with
Banzayémon. So be bought a hat of plaited bamboo, that completely
covered his face, and lay in wait at the Yoshiwara.

One day Banzayémon and two of Chôbei's apprentices Tôken Gombei and
Shirobei, who, from his wild and indocile nature, was surnamed "the
Colt," were amusing themselves and drinking in an upper storey of a
tea-house in the Yoshiwara, when Tôken Gombei, happening to look down
upon the street below, saw a Samurai pass by, poorly clad in worn-out
old clothes, but whose poverty-stricken appearance contrasted with
his proud and haughty bearing.

"Look there!" said Gombei, calling the attention of the others; "look
at that Samurai. Dirty and ragged as his coat is, how easy it is to
see that he is of noble birth! Let us wardsmen dress ourselves up in
never so fine clothes, we could not look as he does."

"Ay," said Shirobei, "I wish we could make friends with him, and ask
him up here to drink a cup of wine with us. However, it would not be
seemly for us wardsmen to go and invite a person of his condition."

"We can easily get over that difficulty," said Banzayémon. "As I am a
Samurai myself, there will be no impropriety in my going and saying a
few civil words to him, and bringing him in."

The other two having joyfully accepted the offer, Banzayémon ran
downstairs, and went up to the strange Samurai and saluted him,

"I pray you to wait a moment, Sir Samurai. My name is Fuwa Banzayémon
at your service. I am a Rônin, as I judge from your appearance that
you are yourself. I hope you will not think me rude if I venture to
ask you to honour me with your friendship, and to come into this
tea-house to drink a cup of wine with me and two of my friends."

The strange Samurai, who was no other than Sanza, looking at the
speaker through the interstices of his deep bamboo hat, and
recognizing his enemy Banzayémon, gave a start of surprise, and,
uncovering his head, said sternly--

"Have you forgotten my face, Banzayémon?"

For a moment Banzayémon was taken aback, but quickly recovering
himself, he replied, "Ah! Sir Sanza, you may well be angry with me;
but since I stole the Muramasa sword and fled to Yedo I have known no
peace: I have been haunted by remorse for my crime. I shall not resist
your vengeance: do with me as it shall seem best to you; or rather
take my life, and let there be an end of this quarrel."

"Nay," answered Sanza, "to kill a man who repents him of his sins is a
base and ignoble action. When you stole from me the Muramasa blade
which had been confided to my care by my lord, I became a disgraced
and ruined man. Give me back that sword, that I may lay it before my
lord, and I will spare your life. I seek to slay no man needlessly."

"Sir Sanza, I thank you for your mercy. At this moment I have not the
sword by me, but if you will go into yonder tea-house and wait awhile,
I will fetch it and deliver it into your hands."

Sanza having consented to this, the two men entered the tea-house,
where Banzayémon's two companions were waiting for them. But
Banzayémon, ashamed of his own evil deed, still pretended that Sanza
was a stranger, and introduced him as such, saying--

"Come Sir Samurai, since we have the honour of your company, let me
offer you a wine-cup."

Banzayémon and the two men pressed the wine-cup upon Sanza so often
that the fumes gradually got into his head and he fell asleep; the two
wardsmen, seeing this, went out for a walk, and Banzayémon, left alone
with the sleeping man, began to revolve fresh plots against him in his
mind. On a sudden, a thought struck him. Noiselessly seizing Sanza's
sword, which he had laid aside on entering the room, he stole softly
downstairs with it, and, carrying it into the back yard, pounded and
blunted its edge with a stone, and having made it useless as a weapon,
he replaced it in its scabbard, and running upstairs again laid it in
its place without disturbing Sanza, who, little suspecting treachery,
lay sleeping off the effects of the wine. At last, however, he awoke,
and, ashamed at having been overcome by drink, he said to Banzayémon--

"Come, Banzayémon, we have dallied too long; give me the Muramasa
sword, and let me go."

"Of course," replied the other, sneeringly, "I am longing to give it
back to you; but unfortunately, in my poverty, I have been obliged to
pawn it for fifty ounces of silver. If you have so much money about
you, give it to me and I will return the sword to you."

"Wretch!" cried Sanza, seeing that Banzayémon was trying to fool him,
"have I not had enough of your vile tricks? At any rate, if I cannot
get back the sword, your head shall be laid before my lord in its
place. Come," added he, stamping his foot impatiently, "defend

"With all my heart. But not here in this tea-house. Let us go to the
Mound, and fight it out."

"Agreed! There is no need for us to bring trouble on the landlord.
Come to the Mound of the Yoshiwara."

So they went to the Mound, and drawing their swords, began to fight
furiously. As the news soon spread abroad through the Yoshiwara that a
duel was being fought upon the Mound, the people flocked out to see
the sight; and among them came Tôken Gombei and Shirobei, Banzayémon's
companions, who, when they saw that the combatants were their own
friend and the strange Samurai, tried to interfere and stop the fight,
but, being hindered by the thickness of the crowd, remained as
spectators. The two men fought desperately, each driven by fierce rage
against the other; but Sanza, who was by far the better fencer of the
two, once, twice, and again dealt blows which should have cut
Banzayémon down, and yet no blood came forth. Sanza, astonished at
this, put forth all his strength, and fought so skilfully, that all
the bystanders applauded him, and Banzayémon, though he knew his
adversary's sword to be blunted, was so terrified that he stumbled and
fell. Sanza, brave soldier that he was, scorned to strike a fallen
foe, and bade him rise and fight again. So they engaged again, and
Sanza, who from the beginning had had the advantage, slipped and fell
in his turn; Banzayémon, forgetting the mercy which had been shown to
him, rushed up, with bloodthirsty joy glaring in his eyes, and stabbed
Sanza in the side as he lay on the ground. Faint as he was, he could
not lift his hand to save himself; and his craven foe was about to
strike him again, when the bystanders all cried shame upon his
baseness. Then Gombei and Shirobei lifted up their voices and said--

"Hold, coward! Have you forgotten how your own life was spared but a
moment since? Beast of a Samurai, we have been your friends hitherto,
but now behold in us the avengers of this brave man."

With these words the two men drew their dirks, and the spectators fell
back as they rushed in upon Banzayémon, who, terror-stricken by their
fierce looks and words, fled without having dealt the death-blow to
Sanza. They tried to pursue him, but he made good his escape, so the
two men returned to help the wounded man. When he came to himself by
dint of their kind treatment, they spoke to him and comforted him, and
asked him what province he came from, that they might write to his
friends and tell them what had befallen him. Sanza, in a voice faint
from pain and loss of blood, told them his name and the story of the
stolen sword, and of his enmity against Banzayémon. "But," said he,
"just now, when I was fighting, I struck Banzayémon more than once,
and without effect. How could that have been?" Then they looked at his
sword, which had fallen by his side, and saw that the edge was all
broken away. More than ever they felt indignant at the baseness of
Banzayémon's heart, and redoubled their kindness to Sanza; but, in.
spite of all their efforts, he grew weaker and weaker, until at last
his breathing ceased altogether. So they buried the corpse honourably
in an adjoining temple, and wrote to Sanza's wife and son, describing
to them the manner of his death.

Now when Sanza's wife, who had long been anxiously expecting her
husband's return, opened the letter and learned the cruel
circumstances of his death, she and her son Kosanza mourned bitterly
over his loss. Then Kosanza, who was now fourteen years old, said to
his mother--

"Take comfort, mother; for I will go to Yedo and seek out this
Banzayémon, my father's murderer, and I will surely avenge his death.
Now, therefore, make ready all that I need for this journey."

And as they were consulting over the manner of their revenge,
Umanosuké, the son of Umanojô, whom Sanza had slain, having heard of
the death of his father's enemy, came to the house. But he came with
no hostile intent. True, Sanza had killed his father, but the widow
and the orphan were guiltless, and he bore them no ill-will; on the
contrary, he felt that Banzayémon was their common enemy. It was he
who by his evil deeds had been the cause of all the mischief that had
arisen, and now again, by murdering Sanza, he had robbed Umanosuké of
his revenge. In this spirit he said to Kosanza--

"Sir Kosanza, I hear that your father has been cruelly murdered by
Banzayémon at Yedo. I know that you will avenge the death of your
father, as the son of a soldier should: if, therefore, you will accept
my poor services, I will be your second, and will help you to the best
of my ability. Banzayémon shall be my enemy, as he is yours."

"Nay, Sir Umanosuké, although I thank you from my heart, I cannot
accept this favour at your hands. My father Sanza slew your noble
father: that you should requite this misfortune thus is more than
kind, but I cannot think of suffering you to risk your life on my

"Listen to me," replied Umanosuké, smiling, "and you will think it
less strange that I should offer to help you. Last year, when my
father lay a bleeding corpse on the sea-shore, your father made a
covenant with me that he would return to give me my revenge, so soon
as he should have regained the stolen sword. Banzayémon, by murdering
him on the Mound of the Yoshiwara, has thwarted me in this; and now
upon whom can I avenge my father's death but upon him whose baseness
was indeed its cause? Now, therefore, I am determined to go with you
to Yedo, and not before the murders of our two fathers shall have been
fully atoned for will we return to our own country."

When Kosanza heard this generous speech, he could not conceal his
admiration; and the widow, prostrating herself at Umanosuké's feet,
shed tears of gratitude.

The two youths, having agreed to stand by one another, made all ready
for their journey, and obtained leave from their prince to go in
search of the traitor Banzayémon. They reached Yedo without meeting
with any adventures, and, taking up their abode at a cheap inn, began
to make their inquiries; but, although they sought far and wide, they
could learn no tidings of their enemy. When three months had passed
thus, Kosanza began to grow faint-hearted at their repeated failures;
but Umanosuké supported and comforted him, urging him to fresh
efforts. But soon a great misfortune befell them: Kosanza fell sick
with ophthalmia, and neither the tender nursing of his friend, nor the
drugs and doctors upon whom Umanosuké spent all their money, had any
effect on the suffering boy, who soon became stone blind. Friendless
and penniless, the one deprived of his eyesight and only a clog upon
the other, the two youths were thrown upon their own resources. Then
Umanosuké, reduced to the last extremity of distress, was forced to
lead out Kosanza to Asakusa to beg sitting by the roadside, whilst he
himself, wandering hither and thither, picked up what he could from
the charity of those who saw his wretched plight. But all this while
he never lost sight of his revenge, and almost thanked the chance
which had made him a beggar, for the opportunity which it gave him of
hunting out strange and hidden haunts of vagabond life into which in
his more prosperous condition he could not have penetrated. So he
walked to and fro through the city, leaning on a stout staff, in which
he had hidden his sword, waiting patiently for fortune to bring him
face to face with Banzayémon.


Now Banzayémon, after he had killed Sanza on the Mound of the
Yoshiwara, did not dare to show his face again in the house of Chôbei,
the Father of the Otokodaté; for he knew that the two men, Tôken
Gombei and Shirobei "the loose Colt," would not only bear an evil
report of him, but would even kill him if he fell into their hands, so
great had been their indignation at his cowardly Conduct; so he
entered a company of mountebanks, and earned his living by showing
tricks of swordsmanship, and selling tooth-powder at the Okuyama, at
Asakusa.[29] One day, as he was going towards Asakusa to ply his
trade, he caught sight of a blind beggar, in whom, in spite of his
poverty-stricken and altered appearance, he recognized the son of his
enemy. Rightly he judged that, in spite of the boy's apparently
helpless condition, the discovery boded no weal for him; so mounting
to the upper storey of a tea-house hard by, he watched to see who
should come to Kosanza's assistance. Nor had he to wait long, for
presently he saw a second beggar come up and speak words of
encouragement and kindness to the blind youth; and looking
attentively, he saw that the new-comer was Umanosuké. Having thus
discovered who was on his track, he went home and sought means of
killing the two beggars; so he lay in wait and traced them to the poor
hut where they dwelt, and one night, when he knew Umanosuké to be
absent, he crept in. Kosanza, being blind, thought that the footsteps
were those of Umanosuké, and jumped up to welcome him; but he, in his
heartless cruelty, which not even the boy's piteous state could move,
slew Kosanza as he helplessly stretched out his hands to feel for his
friend. The deed was yet unfinished when Umanosuké returned, and,
hearing a scuffle inside the hut, drew the sword which was hidden in
his staff and rushed in; but Banzayémon, profiting by the darkness,
eluded him and fled from the hut. Umanosuké followed swiftly after
him; but just as he was on the point of catching him, Banzayémon,
making a sweep backwards with his drawn sword, wounded Umanosuké in
the thigh, so that he stumbled and fell, and the murderer, swift of
foot, made good his escape. The wounded youth tried to pursue him
again, but being compelled by the pain of his wound to desist,
returned home and found his blind companion lying dead, weltering in
his own blood. Cursing his unhappy fate, he called in the beggars of
the fraternity to which he belonged, and between them they buried
Kosanza, and he himself being too poor to procure a surgeon's aid, or
to buy healing medicaments for his wound, became a cripple.

[Footnote 29: See Note at end of story.]

It was at this time that Shirai Gompachi, who was living under the
protection of Chôbei, the Father of the Otokodaté, was in love with
Komurasaki, the beautiful courtesan who lived at the sign of the Three
Sea-shores, in the Yoshiwara. He had long exhausted the scanty
supplies which he possessed, and was now in the habit of feeding his
purse by murder and robbery, that he might have means to pursue his
wild and extravagant life. One night, when he was out on his cutthroat
business, his fellows, who had long suspected that he was after no
good, sent one of their number, named Seibei, to watch him. Gompachi,
little dreaming that any one was following him, swaggered along the
street until he fell in with a wardsman, whom he cut down and robbed;
but the booty proving small, he waited for a second chance, and,
seeing a light moving in the distance, hid himself in the shadow of a
large tub for catching rain-water till the bearer of the lantern
should come up. When the man drew near, Gompachi saw that he was
dressed as a traveller, and wore a long dirk; so he sprung out from
his lurking-place and made to kill him; but the traveller nimbly
jumped on one side, and proved no mean adversary, for he drew his dirk
and fought stoutly for his life. However, he was no match for so
skilful a swordsman as Gompachi, who, after a sharp struggle,
dispatched him, and carried off his purse, which contained two hundred
riyos. Overjoyed at having found so rich a prize, Gompachi was making
off for the Yoshiwara, when Seibei, who, horror-stricken, had seen
both murders, came up and began to upbraid him for his wickedness. But
Gompachi was so smooth-spoken and so well liked by his comrades, that
he easily persuaded Seibei to hush the matter up, and accompany him to
the Yoshiwara for a little diversion. As they were talking by the way,
Seibei said to Gompachi--

"I bought a new dirk the other day, but I have not had an opportunity
to try it yet. You have had so much experience in swords that you
ought to be a good judge. Pray look at this dirk, and tell me whether
you think it good for anything."

"We'll soon see what sort of metal it is made of," answered Gompachi.
"We'll just try it on the first beggar we come across."

At first Seibei was horrified by this cruel proposal, but by degrees
he yielded to his companion's persuasions; and so they went on their
way until Seibei spied out a crippled beggar lying asleep on the bank
outside the Yoshiwara. The sound of their footsteps aroused the
beggar, who seeing a Samurai and a wardsman pointing at him, and
evidently speaking about him, thought that their consultation could
bode him no good. So he pretended to be still asleep, watching them
carefully all the while; and when Seibei went up to him, brandishing
his dirk, the beggar, avoiding the blow, seized Seibei's arm, and
twisting it round, flung him into the ditch below. Gompachi, seeing
his companion's discomfiture, attacked the beggar, who, drawing a
sword from his staff, made such lightning-swift passes that, crippled
though he was, and unable to move his legs freely, Gompachi could not
overpower him; and although Seibei crawled out of the ditch and came
to his assistance, the beggar, nothing daunted, dealt his blows about
him to such good purpose that he wounded Seibei in the temple and arm.
Then Gompachi, reflecting that after all he had no quarrel with the
beggar, and that he had better attend to Seibei's wounds than go on
fighting to no purpose, drew Seibei away, leaving the beggar, who was
too lame to follow them, in peace. When he examined Seibei's wounds,
he found that they were so severe that they must give up their night's
frolic and go home. So they went back to the house of Chôbei, the
Father of the Otokodaté, and Seibei, afraid to show himself with his
sword-cuts, feigned sickness, and went to bed. On the following
morning Chôbei, happening to need his apprentice Seibei's services,
sent for him, and was told that he was sick; so he went to the room,
where he lay abed, and, to his astonishment, saw the cut upon his
temple. At first the wounded man refused to answer any questions as to
how he had been hurt; but at last, on being pressed by Chôbei, he told
the whole story of what had taken place the night before. When Chôbei
heard the tale, be guessed that the valiant beggar must be some noble
Samurai in disguise, who, having a wrong to avenge, was biding his
time to meet with his enemy; and wishing to help so brave a man, he
went in the evening, with his two faithful apprentices, Tôken Gombei
and Shirobei "the loose Colt," to the bank outside the Yoshiwara to
seek out the beggar. The latter, not one whit frightened by the
adventure of the previous night, had taken his place as usual, and was
lying on the bank, when Chôbei came up to him, and said--

"Sir, I am Chôbei, the chief of the Otokodaté, at your service. I have
learnt with deep regret that two of my men insulted and attacked you
last night. However, happily, even Gompachi, famous swordsman though
he be, was no match for you, and had to beat a retreat before you. I
know, therefore, that you must be a noble Samurai, who by some ill
chance have become a cripple and a beggar. Now, therefore, I pray you
tell me all your story; for, humble wardsman as I am, I may be able to
assist you, if you will condescend to allow me."

The cripple at first tried to shun Chôbei's questions; but at last,
touched by the honesty and kindness of his speech, he replied--

"Sir, my name is Takagi Umanosuké, and I am a native of Yamato;" and
then he went on to narrate all the misfortunes which the wickedness of
Banzayémon had brought about.

"This is indeed a strange story," said Chôbei who had listened with
indignation. "This Banzayémon, before I knew the blackness of his
heart, was once under my protection. But after he murdered Sanza, hard
by here, he was pursued by these two apprentices of mine, and since
that day he has been no more to my house."

When he had introduced the two apprentices to Umanosuké, Chôbei pulled
forth a suit of silk clothes befitting a gentleman, and having made
the crippled youth lay aside his beggar's raiment, led him to a bath,
and had his hair dressed. Then he bade Tôken Gombei lodge him and take
charge of him, and, having sent for a famous physician, caused
Umanosuké to undergo careful treatment for the wound in his thigh. In
the course of two months the pain had almost disappeared, so that he
could stand easily; and when, after another month, he could walk about
a little, Chôbei removed him to his own house, pretending to his wife
and apprentices that he was one of his own relations who had come on a
visit to him.

After a while, when Umanosuké had become quite cured, he went one day
to worship at a famous temple, and on his way home after dark he was
overtaken by a shower of rain, and took shelter under the eaves of a
house, in a part of the city called Yanagiwara, waiting for the sky to
clear. Now it happened that this same night Gompachi had gone out on
one of his bloody expeditions, to which his poverty and his love for
Komurasaki drove him in spite of himself, and, seeing a Samurai
standing in the gloom, he sprang upon him before he had recognized
Umanosuké, whom he knew as a friend of his patron Chôbei. Umanosuké
drew and defended himself, and soon contrived to slash Gompachi on the
forehead; so that the latter, seeing himself overmatched, fled under
the cover of the night. Umanosuké, fearing to hurt his recently healed
wound, did not give chase, and went quietly back to Chôbei's house.
When Gompachi returned home, he hatched a story to deceive Chôbei as
to the cause of the wound on his forehead. Chôbei, however, having
overheard Umanosuké reproving Gompachi for his wickedness, soon became
aware of the truth; and not caring to keep a robber and murderer near
him, gave Gompachi a present of money, and bade him return to his
house no more.

And now Chôbei, seeing that Umanosuké had recovered his strength,
divided his apprentices into bands, to hunt out Banzayémon, in order
that the vendetta might be accomplished. It soon was reported to him
that Banzayémon was earning his living among the mountebanks of
Asakusa; so Chôbei communicated this intelligence to Umanosuké, who
made his preparations accordingly; and on the following morning the
two went to Asakusa, where Banzayémon was astonishing a crowd of
country boors by exhibiting tricks with his sword.

Then Umanosuké, striding through the gaping rabble, shouted out--

"False, murderous coward, your day has come! I, Umanosuké, the son of
Umanojô, have come to demand vengeance for the death of three innocent
men who have perished by your treachery. If you are a man, defend
yourself. This day shall your soul see hell!"

With these words he rushed furiously upon Banzayémon, who, seeing
escape to be impossible, stood upon his guard. But his coward's heart
quailed before the avenger, and he soon lay bleeding at his enemy's

But who shall say how Umanosuké thanked Chôbei for his assistance; or
how, when he had returned to his own country, he treasured up his
gratitude in his heart, looking upon Chôbei as more than a second

Thus did Chôbei use his power to punish the wicked, and to reward the
good--giving of his abundance to the poor, and succouring the
unfortunate, so that his name was honoured far and near. It remains
only to record the tragical manner of his death.

We have already told how my lord Midzuno Jiurozayémon, the chief of
the associated nobles, had been foiled in his attempts to bring shame
upon Chôbei, the Father of the Otokodaté; and how, on the contrary,
the latter, by his ready wit, never failed to make the proud noble's
weapons recoil upon him. The failure of these attempts rankled in the
breast of Jiurozayémon, who hated Chôbei with an intense hatred, and
sought to be revenged upon him. One day he sent a retainer to Chôbei's
house with a message to the effect that on the following day my lord
Jiurozayémon would be glad to see Chôbei at his house, and to offer
him a cup of wine, in return for the cold macaroni with which his
lordship had been feasted some time since. Chôbei immediately
suspected that in sending this friendly summons the cunning noble was
hiding a dagger in a smile; however, he knew that if he stayed away
out of fear he would be branded as a coward, and made a laughing-stock
for fools to jeer at. Not caring that Jiurozayémon should succeed in
his desire to put him to shame, he sent for his favourite apprentice,
Tôken Gombei, and said to him--

"I have been invited to a drinking-bout by Midzuno Jiurozayémon. I
know full well that this is but a stratagem to requite me for having
fooled him, and maybe his hatred will go the length of killing me.
However, I shall go and take my chance; and if I detect any sign of
foul play, I'll try to serve the world by ridding it of a tyrant, who
passes his life in oppressing the helpless farmers and wardsmen. Now
as, even if I succeed in killing him in his own house, my life must
pay forfeit for the deed, do you come to-morrow night with a
burying-tub,[30] and fetch my corpse from this Jiurozayémon's house."

[Footnote 30: The lowest classes in Japan are buried in a squatting
position, in a sort of barrel. One would have expected a person of
Chôbei's condition and means to have ordered a square box. It is a
mistake to suppose the burning of the dead to be universal in Japan:
only about thirty per cent of the lower classes, chiefly belonging to
the Montô sect of Buddhism, are burnt. The rich and noble are buried
in several square coffins, one inside the other, in a sitting
position; and their bodies are partially preserved from decay by
filling the nose, ears, and mouth with vermilion. In the case of the
very wealthy, the coffin is completely filled in with vermilion. The
family of the Princes of Mito, and some other nobles, bury their dead
in a recumbent position.]

Tôken Gombei, when he heard the "Father" speak thus, was horrified,
and tried to dissuade him from obeying the invitation. But Chôbei's
mind was fixed, and, without heeding Gombei's remonstrances, he
proceeded to give instructions as to the disposal of his property
after his death, and to settle all his earthly affairs.

On the following day, towards noon, he made ready to go to
Jiurozayémon's house, bidding one of his apprentices precede him with
a complimentary present.[31] Jiurozayémon, who was waiting with
impatience for Chôbei to come, so soon as he heard of his arrival
ordered his retainers to usher him into his presence; and Chôbei,
having bade his apprentices without fail to come and fetch him that
night, went into the house.

[Footnote 31: It is customary, on the occasion of a first visit to a
house, to carry a present to the owner, who gives something of equal
value on returning the visit.]

No sooner had he reached the room next to that in which Jiurozayémon
was sitting than he saw that his suspicions of treachery were well
founded; for two men with drawn swords rushed upon him, and tried to
cut him down. Deftly avoiding their blows, however, he tripped up the
one, and kicking the other in the ribs, sent him reeling and
breathless against the wall; then, as calmly as if nothing had
happened he presented himself before Jiurozayémon, who, peeping
through a chink in the sliding-doors, had watched his retainers'

"Welcome, welcome, Master Chôbei," said he. "I always had heard that
you were a man of mettle, and I wanted to see what stuff you were made
of; so I bade my retainers put your courage to the test. That was a
masterly throw of yours. Well, you must excuse this churlish
reception: come and sit down by me."

"Pray do not mention it, my lord," said Chôbei, smiling rather
scornfully. "I know that my poor skill is not to be measured with
that of a noble Samurai; and if these two good gentlemen had the worst
of it just now, it was mere luck--that's all."

So, after the usual compliments had been exchanged, Chôbei sat down by
Jiurozayémon, and the attendants brought in wine and condiments.
Before they began to drink, however, Jiurozayémon said--

"You must be tired and exhausted with your walk this hot day, Master
Chôbei. I thought that perhaps a bath might refresh you, so I ordered
my men to get it ready for you. Would you not like to bathe and make
yourself comfortable?"

Chôbei suspected that this was a trick to strip him, and take him
unawares when he should have laid aside his dirk. However, he answered

"Your lordship is very good. I shall be glad to avail myself of your
kind offer. Pray excuse me for a few moments."

So he went to the bath-room, and, leaving his clothes outside, he got
into the bath, with the full conviction that it would be the place of
his death. Yet he never trembled nor quailed, determined that, if he
needs must die, no man should say he had been a coward. Then
Jiurozayémon, calling to his attendants, said--

"Quick! lock the door of the bath-room! We hold him fast now. If he
gets out, more than one life will pay the price of his. He's a match
for any six of you in fair fight. Lock the door, I say, and light up
the fire under the bath;[32] and we'll boil him to death, and be rid
of him. Quick, men, quick!"

[Footnote 32: This sort of bath, in which the water is heated by the
fire of a furnace which is lighted from outside, is called
_Goyémon-buro,_ or Goyémon's bath, after a notorious robber named
Goyémon, who attempted the life of Taiko Sama, the famous general and
ruler of the sixteenth century, and suffered for his crimes by being
boiled to death in oil--a form of execution which is now obsolete.]

So they locked the door, and fed the fire until the water hissed and
bubbled within; and Chôbei, in his agony, tried to burst open the
door, but Jiurozayémon ordered his men to thrust their spears through
the partition wall and dispatch him. Two of the spears Chôbei clutched
and broke short off; but at last he was struck by a mortal blow under
the ribs, and died a brave man by the hands of cowards.


That evening Tôken Gombei, who, to the astonishment of Chôbei's wife,
had bought a burying-tub, came, with seven other apprentices, to fetch
the Father of the Otokodaté from Jiurozayémon's house; and when the
retainers saw them, they mocked at them, and said--

"What, have you come to fetch your drunken master home in a litter?"

"Nay," answered Gombei, "but we have brought a coffin for his dead
body, as he bade us."

When the retainers heard this, they marvelled at the courage of
Chôbei, who had thus wittingly come to meet his fate. So Chôbei's
corpse was placed in the burying-tub, and handed over to his
apprentices, who swore to avenge his death. Far and wide, the poor and
friendless mourned for this good man. His son Chômatsu inherited his
property; and his wife remained a faithful widow until her dying day,
praying that she might sit with him in paradise upon the cup of the
same lotus-flower.

Many a time did the apprentices of Chôbei meet together to avenge him;
but Jiurozayémon eluded all their efforts, until, having been
imprisoned by the Government in the temple called Kanyeiji, at Uyéno,
as is related in the story of "Kazuma's Revenge," he was placed beyond
the reach of their hatred.

So lived and so died Chôbei of Bandzuin, the Father of the Otokodaté
of Yedo.


_Translated from a native book called the "Yedo Hanjôki," or Guide to
the prosperous City of Yedo, and other sources._

Asakusa is the most bustling place in all Yedo. It is famous for the
Temple Sensôji, on the hill of Kinriu, or the Golden Dragon, which
from morning till night is thronged with visitors, rich and poor, old
and young, flocking in sleeve to sleeve. The origin of the temple was
as follows:--In the days of the Emperor Suiko, who reigned in the
thirteenth century A.D., a certain noble, named Hashi no Nakatomo,
fell into disgrace and left the Court; and having become a Rônin, or
masterless man, he took up his abode on the Golden Dragon Hill, with
two retainers, being brothers, named Hinokuma Hamanari and Hinokuma
Takénari. These three men being reduced to great straits, and without
means of earning their living, became fishermen. Now it happened that
on the 6th day of the 3rd month of the 36th year of the reign of the
Emperor Suiko (A.D. 1241), they went down in the morning to the
Asakusa River to ply their trade; and having cast their nets took no
fish, but at every throw they pulled up a figure of the Buddhist god
Kwannon, which they threw into the river again. They sculled their
boat away to another spot, but the same luck followed them, and
nothing came to their nets save the figure of Kwannon. Struck by the
miracle, they carried home the image, and, after fervent prayer, built
a temple on the Golden Dragon Hill, in which they enshrined it. The
temple thus founded was enriched by the benefactions of wealthy and
pious persons, whose care raised its buildings to the dignity of the
first temple in Yedo. Tradition says that the figure of Kwannon which
was fished up in the net was one inch and eight-tenths in height.

The main hall of the temple is sixty feet square, and is adorned with
much curious workmanship of gilding and of silvering, so that no place
can be more excellently beautiful. There are two gates in front of it.
The first is called the Gate of the Spirits of the Wind and of the
Thunder, and is adorned with figures of those two gods. The Wind-god,
whose likeness is that of a devil, carries the wind-bag; and the
Thunder-god, who is also shaped like a devil, carries a drum and a
drumstick.[33] The second gate is called the Gate of the gods Niô, or
the Two Princes, whose colossal statues, painted red, and hideous to
look upon, stand on either side of it. Between the gates is an
approach four hundred yards in length, which is occupied by the stalls
of hucksters, who sell toys and trifles for women and children, and by
foul and loathsome beggars. Passing through the gate of the gods Niô,
the main hall of the temple strikes the eye. Countless niches and
shrines of the gods stand outside it, and an old woman earns her
livelihood at a tank filled with water, to which the votaries of the
gods come and wash themselves that they may pray with clean hands.
Inside are the images of the gods, lanterns, incense-burners,
candlesticks, a huge moneybox, into which the offerings of the pious
are thrown, and votive tablets[34] representing the famous gods and
goddesses, heroes and heroines, of old. Behind the chief building is a
broad space called the _okuyama_, where young and pretty waitresses,
well dressed and painted, invite the weary pilgrims and holiday-makers
to refresh themselves with tea and sweetmeats. Here, too, are all
sorts of sights to be seen, such as wild beasts, performing monkeys,
automata, conjurers, wooden and paper figures, which take the place of
the waxworks of the West, acrobats, and jesters for the amusement of
women and children. Altogether it is a lively and a joyous scene;
there is not its equal in the city.

[Footnote 33: This gate was destroyed by fire a few years since.]

[Footnote 34: Sir Rutherford Alcock, in his book upon Japan, states
that the portraits of the most famous courtesans of Yedo are yearly
hung up in the temple at Asakusa. No such pictures are to be seen now,
and no Japanese of whom I have made inquiries have heard of such a
custom. The priests of the temple deny that their fane was ever so
polluted, and it is probable that the statement is but one of the many
strange mistakes into which an imperfect knowledge of the language led
the earlier travellers in Japan. In spite of all that has been said by
persons who have had no opportunity of associating and exchanging
ideas with the educated men of Japan, I maintain that in no country is
the public harlot more abhorred and looked down upon.]

At Asakusa, as indeed all over Yedo, are to be found fortunetellers,
who prey upon the folly of the superstitious. With a treatise on
physiognomy laid on a desk before them, they call out to this man that
he has an ill-omened forehead, and to that man that the space between
his nose and his lips is unlucky. Their tongues wag like flowing water
until the passers-by are attracted to their stalls. If the seer finds
a customer, he closes his eyes, and, lifting the divining-sticks
reverently to his forehead, mutters incantations between his teeth.
Then, suddenly parting the sticks in two bundles, he prophesies good
or evil, according to the number in each. With a magnifying-glass he
examines his dupe's face and the palms of his hands. By the fashion of
his clothes and his general manner the prophet sees whether he is a
countryman or from the city. "I am afraid, sir," says he, "you have
not been altogether fortunate in life, but I foresee that great luck
awaits you in two or three months;" or, like a clumsy doctor who makes
his diagnosis according to his patient's fancies, if he sees his
customer frowning and anxious, he adds, "Alas! in seven or eight
months you must beware of great misfortune. But I cannot tell you all
about it for a slight fee:" with a long sigh he lays down the
divining-sticks on the desk, and the frightened boor pays a further
fee to hear the sum of the misfortune which threatens him, until, with
three feet of bamboo slips and three inches of tongue, the clever
rascal has made the poor fool turn his purse inside out.

The class of diviners called _Ichiko_ profess to give tidings of the
dead, or of those who have gone to distant countries. The Ichiko
exactly corresponds to the spirit medium of the West. The trade is
followed by women, of from fifteen or sixteen to some fifty years of
age, who walk about the streets, carrying on their backs a
divining-box about a foot square; they have no shop or stall, but
wander about, and are invited into their customers' houses. The
ceremony of divination is very simple. A porcelain bowl filled with
water is placed upon a tray, and the customer, having written the name
of the person with whom he wishes to hold communion on a long slip of
paper, rolls it into a spill, which he dips into the water, and thrice
sprinkles the Ichiko, or medium. She, resting her elbow upon her
divining-box, and leaning her head upon her hand, mutters prayers and
incantations until she has summoned the soul of the dead or absent
person, which takes possession of her, and answers questions through
her mouth. The prophecies which the Ichiko utters during her trance
are held in high esteem by the superstitious and vulgar.

Hard by Asakusa is the theatre street. The theatres are called
_Shiba-i_,[35] "turf places," from the fact that the first theatrical
performances were held on a turf plot. The origin of the drama in
Japan, as elsewhere, was religious. In the reign of the Emperor Heijô
(A.D. 805), there was a sudden volcanic depression of the earth close
by a pond called Sarusawa, or the Monkey's Marsh, at Nara, in the
province of Yamato, and a poisonous smoke issuing from the cavity
struck down with sickness all those who came within its baneful
influence; so the people brought quantities of firewood, which they
burnt in order that the poisonous vapour might be dispelled. The fire,
being the male influence, would assimilate with and act as an antidote
upon the mephitic smoke, which was a female influence.[36] Besides
this, as a further charm to exorcise the portent, the dance called
Sambasô, which is still performed as a prelude to theatrical
exhibitions by an actor dressed up as a venerable old man, emblematic
of long life and felicity, was danced on a plot of turf in front of
the Temple Kofukuji. By these means the smoke was dispelled, and the
drama was originated. The story is to be found in the _Zoku Nihon Ki_,
or supplementary history of Japan.

[Footnote 35: In Dr. Hepburn's Dictionary of the Japanese language,
the Chinese characters given for the word _Shiba-i_ are _chi chang_
(_keih chang_, Morrison's Dictionary), "theatrical arena." The
characters which are usually written, and which are etymologically
correct, are _chih chü_ (_che keu_, Morrison), "the place of plants or
turf plot."]

[Footnote 36: This refers to the Chinese doctrine of the Yang and Yin,
the male and female influences pervading all creation.]

Three centuries later, during the reign of the Emperor Toba (A.D.
1108), there lived a woman called Iso no Zenji, who is looked upon as
the mother of the Japanese drama. Her performances, however, seem only
to have consisted in dancing or posturing dressed up in the costume of
the nobles of the Court, from which fact her dance was called
Otoko-mai, or the man's dance. Her name is only worth mentioning on
account of the respect in which her memory is held by actors.

It was not until the year A.D. 1624 that a man named Saruwaka
Kanzaburô, at the command of the Shogun, opened the first theatre in
Yedo in the Nakabashi, or Middle Bridge Street, where it remained
until eight years later, when it was removed to the Ningiyô, or Doll
Street. The company of this theatre was formed by two families named
Miako and Ichimura, who did not long enjoy their monopoly, for in the
year 1644 we find a third family, that of Yamamura, setting up a rival
theatre in the Kobiki, or Sawyer Street.

In the year 1651, the Asiatic prejudice in favour of keeping persons
of one calling in one place exhibited itself by the removal of the
playhouses to their present site, and the street was called the
Saruwaka Street, after Saruwaka Kanzaburô, the founder of the drama in

Theatrical performances go on from six in the morning until six in the
evening. Just as the day is about to dawn in the east, the sound of
the drum is heard, and the dance Sambasô is danced as a prelude, and
after this follow the dances of the famous actors of old; these are
called the extra performances (_waki kiyôgen_).

The dance of Nakamura represents the demon Shudendôji, an ogre who was
destroyed by the hero Yorimitsu according to the following legend:--At
the beginning of the eleventh century, when Ichijô the Second was
Emperor, lived the hero Yorimitsu. Now it came to pass that in those
days the people of Kiôto were sorely troubled by an evil spirit, which
took up its abode near the Rashô gate. One night, as Yorimitsu was
making merry with his retainers, he said, "Who dares go and defy the
demon of the Rashô gate, and set up a token that he has been there?"
"That dare I," answered Tsuna, who, having donned his coat of mail,
mounted his horse, and rode out through the dark bleak night to the
Rashô gate. Having written his name upon the gate, he was about to
turn homewards when his horse began to shiver with fear, and a huge
hand coming forth from the gate seized the back of the knight's
helmet. Tsuna, nothing daunted, struggled to get free, but in vain, so
drawing his sword he cut off the demon's arm, and the spirit with a
howl fled into the night. But Tsuna carried home the arm in triumph,
and locked it up in a box. One night the demon, having taken the shape
of Tsuna's aunt, came to him and said, "I pray thee show me the arm of
the fiend." Tsuna answered, "I have shown it to no man, and yet to
thee I will show it." So he brought forth the box and opened it, when
suddenly a black cloud shrouded the figure of the supposed aunt, and
the demon, having regained its arm, disappeared. From that time forth
the people were more than ever troubled by the demon, who carried off
to the hills all the fairest virgins of Kiôto, whom he ravished and
ate, so that there was scarce a beautiful damsel left in the city.
Then was the Emperor very sorrowful, and he commanded Yorimitsu to
destroy the monster; and the hero, having made ready, went forth with
four trusty knights and another great captain to search among the
hidden places of the mountains. One day as they were journeying far
from the haunts of men, they fell in with an old man, who, having
bidden them to enter his dwelling, treated them kindly, and set before
them wine to drink; and when they went away, and took their leave of
him, he gave them a present of more wine to take away with them. Now
this old man was a mountain god. As they went on their way they met a
beautiful lady, who was washing blood-stained clothes in the waters of
the valley, weeping bitterly the while. When they asked her why she
shed tears, she answered, "Sirs, I am a woman from Kiôto, whom the
demon has carried off; he makes me wash his clothes, and when he is
weary of me, he will kill and eat me. I pray your lordships to save
me." Then the six heroes bade the woman lead them to the ogre's cave,
where a hundred devils were mounting guard and waiting upon him. The
woman, having gone in first, told the fiend of their coming; and he,
thinking to slay and eat them, called them to him; so they entered the
cave, which reeked with the smell of the flesh and blood of men, and
they saw Shudendôji, a huge monster with the face of a little child.
The six men offered him the wine which they had received from the
mountain god, and he, laughing in his heart, drank and made merry, so
that little by little the fumes of the wine got into his head, and he
fell asleep. The heroes, themselves feigning sleep, watched for a
moment when the devils were all off their guard to put on their armour
and steal one by one into the demon's chamber. Then Yorimitsu, seeing
that all was still, drew his sword, and cut off Shudendôji's head,
which sprung up and bit at his head; luckily, however, Yorimitsu had
put on two helmets, the one over the other, so he was not hurt. When
all the devils had been slain, the heroes and the woman returned to
Kiôto carrying with them the head of Shudendôji, which was laid before
the Emperor; and the fame of their action was spread abroad under

This Shudendôji is the ogre represented in the Nakamura dance. The
Ichimura dance represents the seven gods of wealth; and the Morita
dance represents a large ape, and is emblematical of drinking wine.

As soon as the sun begins to rise in the heaven, sign-boards all
glistening with paintings and gold are displayed, and the playgoers
flock in crowds to the theatre. The farmers and country-folk hurry
over their breakfast, and the women and children, who have got up in
the middle of the night to paint and adorn themselves, come from all
the points of the compass to throng the gallery, which is hung with
curtains as bright as the rainbow in the departing clouds. The place
soon becomes so crowded that the heads of the spectators are like the
scales on a dragon's back. When the play begins, if the subject be
tragic the spectators are so affected that they weep till they have to
wring their sleeves dry. If the piece be comic they laugh till their
chins are out of joint. The tricks and stratagems of the drama baffle
description, and the actors are as graceful as the flight of the
swallow. The triumph of persecuted virtue and the punishment of
wickedness invariably crown the story. When a favourite actor makes
his appearance, his entry is hailed with cheers. Fun and diversion are
the order of the day, and rich and poor alike forget the cares which
they have left behind them at home; and yet it is not all idle
amusement, for there is a moral taught, and a practical sermon
preached in every play.

The subjects of the pieces are chiefly historical, feigned names being
substituted for those of the real heroes. Indeed, it is in the popular
tragedies that we must seek for an account of many of the events of
the last two hundred and fifty years; for only one very bald
history[37] of those times has been published, of which but a limited
number of copies were struck off from copper plates, and its
circulation was strictly forbidden by the Shogun's Government. The
stories are rendered with great minuteness and detail, so much so,
that it sometimes takes a series of representations to act out one
piece in its entirety. The Japanese are far in advance of the Chinese
in their scenery and properties, and their pieces are sometimes
capitally got up: a revolving stage enables them to shift from one
scene to another with great rapidity. First-rate actors receive as
much as a thousand riyos (about £300) as their yearly salary. This,
however, is a high rate of pay, and many a man has to strut before the
public for little more than his daily rice; to a clever young actor it
is almost enough reward to be allowed to enter a company in which
there is a famous star. The salary of the actor, however, may depend
upon the success of the theatre; for dramatic exhibitions are often
undertaken as speculations by wealthy persons, who pay their company
in proportion to their own profit. Besides his regular pay, a popular
Japanese actor has a small mine of wealth in his patrons, who open
their purses freely for the privilege of frequenting the greenroom.,
The women's parts are all taken by men, as they used to be with us in
ancient days. Touching the popularity of plays, it is related that in
the year 1833, when two actors called Bandô Shuka and Segawa Rokô,
both famous players of women's parts, died at the same time, the
people of Yedo mourned to heaven and to earth; and if a million riyos
could have brought back their lives, the money would have been
forthcoming. Thousands flocked to their funeral, and the richness of
their coffins and of the clothes laid upon them was admired by all.

[Footnote 37: I allude to the _Tai Hei Nem-piyô,_ or Annals of the
Great Peace, a very rare work, only two or three copies of which have
found their way into the libraries of foreigners.]

"When I heard this," says Terakado Seiken, the author of the _Yedo
Hanjôki_, "I lifted my eyes to heaven and heaved a great sigh. When my
friend Saitô Shimei, a learned and good man, died, there was barely
enough money to bury him; his needy pupils and friends subscribed to
give him a humble coffin. Alas! alas! here was a teacher who from his
youth up had honoured his parents, and whose heart know no guile: if
his friends were in need, he ministered to their wants; he grudged no
pains to teach his fellow-men; his good-will and charity were beyond
praise; under the blue sky and bright day he never did a shameful
deed. His merits were as those of the sages of old; but because he
lacked the cunning of a fox or badger he received no patronage from
the wealthy, and, remaining poor to the day of his death, never had an
opportunity of making his worth known. Alas! alas!"

The drama is exclusively the amusement of the middle and lower
classes. Etiquette, sternest of tyrants, forbids the Japanese of high
rank to be seen at any public exhibition, wrestling-matches alone
excepted. Actors are, however, occasionally engaged to play in private
for the edification of my lord and his ladies; and there is a kind of
classical opera, called Nô, which is performed on stages specially
built for the purpose in the palaces of the principal nobles. These
Nô represent the entertainments by which the Sun Goddess was lured out
of the cave in which she had hidden, a fable said to be based upon an
eclipse. In the reign of the Emperor Yômei (A.D. 586-593), Hada
Kawakatsu, a man born in Japan, but of Chinese extraction, was
commanded by the Emperor to arrange an entertainment for the
propitiation of the gods and the prosperity of the country. Kawakatsu
wrote thirty-three plays, introducing fragments of Japanese poetry
with accompaniments of musical instruments. Two performers, named
Takéta and Hattori, having especially distinguished themselves in
these entertainments, were ordered to prepare other similar plays, and
their productions remain to the present day. The pious intention of
the Nô being to pray for the prosperity of the country, they are held
in the highest esteem by the nobles of the Court, the Daimios, and the
military class: in old days they alone performed in these plays, but
now ordinary actors take part in them.

The Nô are played in sets. The first of the set is specially dedicated
to the propitiation of the gods; the second is performed in full
armour, and is designed to terrify evil spirits, and to insure the
punishment of malefactors; the third is of a gentler intention, and
its special object is the representation of all that is beautiful and
fragrant and delightful. The performers wear hideous wigs and masks,
not unlike those of ancient Greece, and gorgeous brocade dresses. The
masks, which belong to what was the private company of the Shogun, are
many centuries old, and have been carefully preserved as heirlooms
from generation to generation; being made of very thin wood lacquered
over, and kept each in a silken bag, they have been uninjured by the
lapse of time.

During the Duke of Edinburgh's stay in Yedo, this company was engaged
to give a performance in the Yashiki of the Prince of Kishiu, which
has the reputation of being the handsomest palace in all Yedo. So far
as I know, such an exhibition had never before been witnessed by
foreigners, and it may be interesting to give an account of it.
Opposite the principal reception-room, where his Royal Highness sat,
and separated from it by a narrow courtyard, was a covered stage,
approached from the greenroom by a long gallery at an angle of
forty-five degrees. Half-a-dozen musicians, clothed in dresses of
ceremony, marched slowly down the gallery, and, having squatted down
on the stage, bowed gravely. The performances then began. There was no
scenery, nor stage appliances; the descriptions of the chorus or of
the actors took their place. The dialogue and choruses are given in a
nasal recitative, accompanied by the mouth-organ, flute, drum, and
other classical instruments, and are utterly unintelligible. The
ancient poetry is full of puns and plays upon words, and it was with
no little difficulty that, with the assistance of a man of letters, I
prepared beforehand the arguments of the different pieces.

The first play was entitled _Hachiman of the Bow_. Hachiman is the
name under which the Emperor Ojin (A.C. 270-312) was deified as the
God of War. He is specially worshipped on account of his miraculous
birth; his mother, the Empress Jingo, having, by the virtue of a magic
stone which she wore at her girdle, borne him in her womb for three
years, during which she made war upon and conquered the Coreans. The
time of the plot is laid in the reign of the Emperor Uda the Second
(A.D. 1275-1289). In the second month of the year pilgrims are
flocking to the temple of Hachiman at Mount Otoko, between Osaka and
Kiôto. All this is explained by the chorus. A worshipper steps forth,
sent by the Emperor, and delivers a congratulatory oration upon the
peace and prosperity of the land. The chorus follows in the same
strain: they sing the praises of Hachiman and of the reigning Emperor.
An old man enters, bearing something which appears to be a bow in a
brocade bag. On being asked who he is, the old man answers that he is
an aged servant of the shrine, and that he wishes to present his
mulberry-wood bow to the Emperor; being too humble to draw near to his
Majesty he has waited for this festival, hoping that an opportunity
might present itself. He explains that with this bow, and with certain
arrows made of the Artemisia, the heavenly gods pacified the world. On
being asked to show his bow, he refuses; it is a mystic protector of
the country, which in old days was overshadowed by the mulberry-tree.
The peace which prevails in the land is likened to a calm at sea. The
Emperor is the ship, and his subjects the water. The old man dwells
upon the ancient worship of Hachiman, and relates how his mother, the
Empress Jingo, sacrificed to the gods before invading Corea, and how
the present prosperity of the country is to be attributed to the
acceptance of those sacrifices. After having revealed himself as the
god Hachiman in disguise, the old man disappears. The worshipper,
awe-struck, declares that he must return to Kiôto and tell the Emperor
what he has seen. The chorus announces that sweet music and fragrant
perfumes issue from the mountain, and the piece ends with
felicitations upon the visible favour of the gods, and especially of

The second piece was _Tsunémasa_. Tsunémasa was a hero of the twelfth
century, who died in the civil wars; he was famous for his skill in
playing on the _biwa_, a sort of four-stringed lute.

A priest enters, and announces that his name is Giyôkei, and that
before he retired from the world he held high rank at Court. He
relates how Tsunémasa, in his childhood the favourite of the Emperor,
died in the wars by the western seas. During his lifetime the Emperor
gave him a lute, called Sei-zan, "the Azure Mountain"; this lute at
his death was placed in a shrine erected to his honour, and at his
funeral music and plays were performed during seven days within the
palace, by the special grace of the Emperor. The scene is laid at the
shrine. The lonely and awesome appearance of the spot is described.
Although the sky is clear, the wind rustles through the trees like the
sound of falling rain; and although it is now summer-time, the
moonlight on the sand looks like hoar-frost. All nature is sad and
downcast. The ghost appears, and sings that it is the spirit of
Tsunémasa, and has come to thank those who have piously celebrated his
obsequies. No one answers him, and the spirit vanishes, its voice
becoming fainter and fainter, an unreal and illusory vision haunting
the scenes amid which its life was spent. The priest muses on the
portent. Is it a dream or a reality? Marvellous! The ghost, returning,
speaks of former days, when it lived as a child in the palace, and
received the Azure Mountain lute from the Emperor--that lute with the
four strings of which its hand was once so familiar, and the
attraction of which now draws it from the grave. The chorus recites
the virtues of Tsunémasa--his benevolence, justice, humanity,
talents, and truth; his love of poetry and music; the trees, the
flowers, the birds, the breezes, the moon--all had a charm for him.
The ghost begins to play upon the Azure Mountain lute, and the sounds
produced from the magical instrument are so delicate, that all think
it is a shower falling from heaven. The priest declares that it is not
rain, but the sound of the enchanted lute. The sound of the first and
second strings is as the sound of gentle rain, or of the wind stirring
the pine-trees; and the sound of the third and fourth strings is as
the song of birds and pheasants calling to their young. A rhapsody in
praise of music follows. Would that such strains could last for ever!
The ghost bewails its fate that it cannot remain to play on, but must
return whence it came. The priest addresses the ghost, and asks
whether the vision is indeed the spirit of Tsunémasa. Upon this the
ghost calls out in an agony of sorrow and terror at having been seen
by mortal eyes, and bids that the lamps be put out: on its return to
the abode of the dead it will suffer for having shown itself: it
describes the fiery torments which will be its lot. Poor fool! it has
been lured to its destruction, like the insect of summer that flies
into the flame. Summoning the winds to its aid, it puts out the
lights, and disappears.

_The Suit of Feathers_ is the title of a very pretty conceit which
followed. A fisherman enters, and in a long recitative describes the
scenery at the sea-shore of Miwo, in the province of Suruga, at the
foot of Fuji-Yama, the Peerless Mountain. The waves are still, and
there is a great calm; the fishermen are all out plying their trade.
The speaker's name is Hakuriyô, a fisherman living in the pine-grove
of Miwo. The rains are now over, and the sky is serene; the sun rises
bright and red over the pine-trees and rippling sea; while last
night's moon is yet seen faintly in the heaven. Even he, humble fisher
though he be, is softened by the beauty of the nature which surrounds
him. A breeze springs up, the weather will change; clouds and waves
will succeed sunshine and calm; the fishermen must get them home
again. No; it is but the gentle breath of spring, after all; it
scarcely stirs the stout fir-trees, and the waves are hardly heard to
break upon the shore. The men may go forth in safety. The fisherman
then relates how, while he was wondering at the view, flowers began to
rain from the sky, and sweet music filled the air, which was perfumed
by a mystic fragrance. Looking up, he saw hanging on a pine-tree a
fairy's suit of feathers, which he took home, and showed to a friend,
intending to keep it as a relic in his house. A heavenly fairy makes
her appearance, and claims the suit of feathers; but the fisherman
holds to his treasure trove. She urges the impiety of his act--a
mortal has no right to take that which belongs to the fairies. He
declares that he will hand down the feather suit to posterity as one
of the treasures of the country. The fairy bewails her lot; without
her wings how can she return to heaven? She recalls the familiar joys
of heaven, now closed to her; she sees the wild geese and the gulls
flying to the skies, and longs for their power of flight; the tide has
its ebb and its flow, and the sea-breezes blow whither they list: for
her alone there is no power of motion, she must remain on earth. At
last, touched by her plaint, the fisherman consents to return the
feather suit, on condition that the fairy shall dance and play
heavenly music for him. She consents, but must first obtain the
feather suit, without which she cannot dance. The fisherman refuses
to give it up, lest she should fly away to heaven without redeeming
her pledge. The fairy reproaches him for his want of faith: how should
a heavenly being be capable of falsehood? He is ashamed, and gives her
the feather suit, which she dons, and begins to dance, singing of the
delights of heaven, where she is one of the fifteen attendants who
minister to the moon. The fisherman is so transported with joy, that
he fancies himself in heaven, and wishes to detain the fairy to dwell
with him for ever. A song follows in praise of the scenery and of the
Peerless Mountain capped with the snows of spring. When her dance is
concluded, the fairy, wafted away by the sea-breeze, floats past the
pine-grove to Ukishima and Mount Ashidaka, over Mount Fuji, till she
is seen dimly like a cloud in the distant sky, and vanishes into thin

The last of the Nô was _The Little Smith_, the scene of which is laid
in the reign of the Emperor Ichijô (A.D. 987--1011). A noble of the
court enters, and proclaims himself to be Tachibana Michinari. He has
been commanded by the Emperor, who has seen a dream of good omen on
the previous night, to order a sword of the smith Munéchika of Sanjô.
He calls Munéchika, who comes out, and, after receiving the order,
expresses the difficulty he is in, having at that time no fitting mate
to help him; he cannot forge a blade alone. The excuse is not
admitted; the smith pleads hard to be saved from the shame of a
failure. Driven to a compliance, there is nothing left for it but to
appeal to the gods for aid. He prays to the patron god of his family,
Inari Sama.[38] A man suddenly appears, and calls the smith; this man
is the god Inari Sama in disguise. The smith asks who is his visitor,
and how does he know him by name. The stranger answers, "Thou hast
been ordered to make a blade for the Emperor." "This is passing
strange," says the smith. "I received the order but a moment since;
how comest thou to know of it?" "Heaven has a voice which is heard upon
the earth. Walls have ears, and stones tell tales.[39] There are no
secrets in the world. The flash of the blade ordered by him who is
above the clouds (the Emperor) is quickly seen. By the grace of the
Emperor the sword shall be quickly made." Here follows the praise of
certain famous blades, and an account of the part they played in
history, with special reference to the sword which forms one of the
regalia. The sword which the Emperor has sent for shall be inferior to
none of these; the smith may set his heart at rest. The smith,
awe-struck, expresses his wonder, and asks again who is addressing
him. He is bidden to go and deck out his anvil, and a supernatural
power will help him. The visitor disappears in a cloud. The smith
prepares his anvil, at the four corners of which he places images of
the gods, while above it he stretches the straw rope and paper
pendants hung up in temples to shut out foul or ill-omened influences.
He prays for strength to make the blade, not for his own glory, but
for the honour of the Emperor. A young man, a fox in disguise,
appears, and helps Munéchika to forge the steel. The noise of the
anvil resounds to heaven and over the earth. The chorus announces that
the blade is finished; on one side is the mark of Munéchika, on the
other is graven "The Little Fox" in clear characters.

[Footnote 38: The note at the end of the Story of the Grateful Foxes
contains an account of Inari Sama, and explains how the foxes minister
to him.]

[Footnote 39: This is a literal translation of a Japanese proverb.]

The subjects of the Nô are all taken from old legends of the country;
a shrine at Miwo, by the sea-shore, marks the spot where the suit of
feathers was found, and the miraculously forged sword is supposed to
be in the armoury of the Emperor to this day. The beauty of the
poetry--and it is very beautiful--is marred by the want of scenery and
by the grotesque dresses and make-up. In the _Suit of Feathers_, for
instance, the fairy wears a hideous mask and a wig of scarlet elf
locks: the suit of feathers itself is left entirely to the
imagination; and the heavenly dance is a series of whirls, stamps, and
jumps, accompanied by unearthly yells and shrieks; while the vanishing
into thin air is represented by pirouettes something like the motion
of a dancing dervish. The intoning of the recitative is unnatural and
unintelligible, so much so that not even a highly educated Japanese
could understand what is going on unless he were previously acquainted
with the piece. This, however, is supposing that which is not, for the
Nô are as familiarly known as the masterpieces of our own dramatists.

The classical severity of the Nô is relieved by the introduction
between the pieces of light farces called Kiyôgen. The whole
entertainment having a religious intention, the Kiyôgen stand to the
Nô in the same relation as the small shrines to the main temple; they,
too, are played for the propitiation of the gods, and for the
softening of men's hearts. The farces are acted without wigs or masks;
the dialogue is in the common spoken language, and there being no
musical accompaniment it is quite easy to follow. The plots of the two
farces which were played before the Duke of Edinburgh are as

In the _Ink Smearing_ the hero is a man from a distant part of the
country, who, having a petition to prefer, comes to the capital, where
he is detained for a long while. His suit being at last successful, he
communicates the joyful news to his servant, Tarôkaja (the
conventional name of the Leporello of these farces). The two
congratulate one another. To while away his idle hours during his
sojourn at the capital the master has entered into a flirtation with a
certain young lady: master and servant now hold a consultation as to
whether the former should not go and take leave of her. Tarôkaja is of
opinion that as she is of a very jealous nature, his master ought to
go. Accordingly the two set out to visit her, the servant leading the
way. Arrived at her house, the gentleman goes straight in without the
knowledge of the lady, who, coming out and meeting Tarôkaja, asks
after his master. He replies that his master is inside the house. She
refuses to believe him, and complains that, for some time past, his
visits have been few and far between. Why should he come now? Surely
Tarôkaja is hoaxing her. The servant protests that he is telling the
truth, and that his master really has entered the house. She, only
half persuaded, goes in, and finds that my lord is indeed there. She
welcomes him, and in the same breath upbraids him. Some other lady has
surely found favour in his eyes. What fair wind has wafted him back to
her? He replies that business alone has kept him from her; he hopes
that all is well with her. With her, indeed, all is well, and there is
no change; but she fears that his heart is changed. Surely, surely he
has found mountains upon mountains of joy elsewhere, even now,
perhaps, he is only calling on his way homeward from some haunt of
pleasure. What pleasure can there be away from her? answers he.
Indeed, his time has not been his own, else he would have come sooner.
Why, then, did he not send his servant to explain? Tarôkaja here puts
in his oar, and protests that, between running on errands and dancing
attendance upon his lord, he has not had a moment to himself. "At any
rate," says the master, "I must ask for your congratulations; for my
suit, which was so important, has prospered." The lady expresses her
happiness, and the gentleman then bids his servant tell her the object
of their visit. Tarôkaja objects to this; his lord had better tell his
own story. While the two are disputing as to who shall speak, the
lady's curiosity is aroused. "What terrible tale is this that neither
of you dare tell? Pray let one or other of you speak." At last the
master explains that he has come to take leave of her, as he must
forthwith return to his own province. The girl begins to weep, and the
gentleman following suit, the two shed tears in concert. She uses all
her art to cajole him, and secretly produces from her sleeve a cup of
water, with which she smears her eyes to imitate tears. He, deceived
by the trick, tries to console her, and swears that as soon as he
reaches his own country he will send a messenger to fetch her; but she
pretends to weep all the more, and goes on rubbing her face with
water. Tarôkaja, in the meanwhile, detects the trick, and, calling his
master on one side, tells him what she is doing. The gentleman,
however, refuses to believe him, and scolds him right roundly for
telling lies. The lady calls my lord to her, and weeping more bitterly
than ever, tries to coax him to remain. Tarôkaja slyly fills another
cup, with ink and water, and substitutes it for the cup of clear
water. She, all unconcerned, goes on smearing her face. At last she
lifts her face, and her lover, seeing it all black and sooty, gives a
start. What can be the matter with the girl's face? Tarôkaja, in an
aside, explains what he has done. They determine to put her to shame.
The lover, producing from his bosom a box containing a mirror, gives
it to the girl, who, thinking that it is a parting gift, at first
declines to receive it. It is pressed upon her; she opens the box and
sees the reflection of her dirty face. Master and man burst out
laughing. Furious, she smears Tarôkaja's face with the ink; he
protests that he is not the author of the trick, and the girl flies at
her lover and rubs his face too. Both master and servant run off,
pursued by the girl.

The second farce was shorter than the first, and was called _The Theft
of the Sword_. A certain gentleman calls his servant Tarôkaja, and
tells him that he is going out for a little diversion. Bidding
Tarôkaja follow him, he sets out. On their way they meet another
gentleman, carrying a handsome sword in his hand, and going to worship
at the Kitano shrine at Kiôto. Tarôkaja points out the beauty of the
sword to his master, and says what a fine thing it would be if they
could manage to obtain possession of it. Tarôkaja borrows his master's
sword, and goes up to the stranger, whose attention is taken up by
looking at the wares set out for sale in a shop. Tarôkaja lays his
hand on the guard of the stranger's sword; and the latter, drawing it,
turns round, and tries to cut the thief down. Tarôkaja takes to his
heels, praying hard that his life may be spared. The stranger takes
away the sword which Tarôkaja has borrowed from his master, and goes
on his way to the shrine, carrying the two swords. Tarôkaja draws a
long breath of relief when he sees that his life is not forfeited; but
what account is he to give of his master's sword which he has lost.
There is no help for it, he must go back and make a clean breast of
it. His master is very angry; and the two, after consulting together,
await the stranger's return from the shrine. The latter makes his
appearance and announces that he is going home. Tarôkaja's master
falls upon the stranger from behind, and pinions him, ordering
Tarôkaja to fetch a rope and bind him. The knave brings the cord; but,
while he is getting it ready, the stranger knocks him over with his
sword. His master calls out to him to get up quickly and bind the
gentleman from behind, and not from before. Tarôkaja runs behind the
struggling pair, but is so clumsy that he slips the noose over his
master's head by mistake, and drags him down. The stranger, seeing
this, runs away laughing with the two swords. Tarôkaja, frightened at
his blunder, runs off too, his master pursuing him off the stage. A
general run off, be it observed, something like the "spill-and-pelt"
scene in an English pantomime, is the legitimate and invariable
termination of the Kiyôgen.


The game of football is in great favour at the Japanese Court. The
days on which it takes place are carefully noted in the "Daijôkwan
Nishi," or Government Gazette. On the 25th of February, 1869, for
instance, we find two entries: "The Emperor wrote characters of good
omen," and "The game of football was played at the palace." The game
was first introduced from China in the year of the Empress Kôkiyoku,
in the middle of the seventh century. The Emperor Mommu, who reigned
at the end of the same century, was the first emperor who took part in
the sport. His Majesty Toba the Second became very expert at it, as
also did the noble Asukai Chiujo, and from that time a sort of
football club was formed at the palace. During the days of the extreme
poverty of the Mikado and his Court, the Asukai family,
notwithstanding their high rank, were wont to eke out their scanty
income by giving lessons in the art of playing football.


The doughty deeds and marvellous experiences of Funakoshi Jiuyémon are
perhaps, like those of Robin Hood and his Merry Men, rather
traditional than historical; but even if all or part of the deeds
which popular belief ascribes to him be false, his story conveys a
true picture of manners and customs. Above all, the manner of the
vengeance which he wreaked upon the wife who had dishonoured him, and
upon her lover, shows the high importance which the Japanese attach to
the sanctity of the marriage tie.

The 50th and 51st chapters of the "Legacy of Iyéyasu," already quoted,
say: "If a married woman of the agricultural, artisan, or commercial
class shall secretly have intercourse with another man, it is not
necessary for the husband to enter a complaint against the persons
thus confusing the great relation of mankind, but he may put them both
to death. Nevertheless, should he slay one of them and spare the
other, his guilt is the same as that of the unrighteous persons.

"In the event, however, of advice being sought, the parties not having
been slain, accede to the wishes of the complainant with, regard to
putting them to death or not.

"Mankind, in whose bodies the male and female elements induce a
natural desire towards the same object, do not look upon such
practices with aversion; and the adjudication of such cases is a
matter of special deliberation and consultation.

"Men and women of the military class are expected to know better than
to occasion disturbance by violating existing regulations; and such an
one breaking the regulations by lewd, trifling, or illicit intercourse
shall at once be punished, without deliberation or consultation. It is
not the same in this case as in that of agriculturists, artisans, and

As a criminal offence, adultery was, according to the ancient laws of
Japan, punished by crucifixion. In more modern times it has been
punished by decapitation and the disgraceful exposure of the head
after death; but if the murder of the injured husband accompany the
crime of adultery, then the guilty parties are crucified to this day.
At the present time the husband is no longer allowed to take the law
into his own hands: he must report the matter to the Government, and
trust to the State to avenge his honour.

Sacred as the marriage tie is so long as it lasts, the law which cuts
it is curiously facile, or rather there is no law: a man may turn his
wife out of doors, as it may suit his fancy. An example of this
practice was shown in the story of "The Forty-seven Rônins." A husband
has but to report the matter to his lord, and the ceremony of divorce
is completed. Thus, in the days of the Shoguns' power, a Hatamoto who
had divorced his wife reported the matter to the Shogun. A Daimio's
retainer reports the matter to his Prince.

The facility of divorce, however, seems to be but rarely taken
advantage of: this is probably owing to the practice of keeping
concubines. It has often been asked, Are the Japanese polygamists? The
answer is, Yes and no. They marry but one wife; but a man may,
according to his station and means, have one or more concubines in
addition. The Emperor has twelve concubines, called Kisaki; and
Iyéyasu, alluding forcibly to excess in this respect as _teterrima
belli causa_, laid down that the princes might have eight, high
officers five, and ordinary Samurai two handmaids. "In the olden
times," he writes, "the downfall of castles and the overthrow of
kingdoms all proceeded from this alone. Why is not the indulgence of
passions guarded against?"

The difference between the position of the wife and that of the
concubine is marked. The legitimate wife is to the handmaid as a lord
is to his vassal. Concubinage being a legitimate institution, the son
of a handmaid is no bastard, nor is he in any way the child of shame;
and yet, as a general rule, the son of the bondwoman is not heir with
the son of the free, for the son of the wife inherits before the son
of a concubine, even where the latter be the elder; and it frequently
happens that a noble, having children by his concubines but none by
his wife, selects a younger brother of his own, or even adopts the son
of some relative, to succeed him in the family honours. The family
line is considered to be thus more purely preserved. The law of
succession is, however, extremely lax. Excellent personal merits will
sometimes secure to the left-handed son the inheritance of his
ancestors; and it often occurs that the son of a concubine, who is
debarred from succeeding to his own father, is adopted as the heir of
a relation or friend of even higher rank. When the wife of a noble has
a daughter but no son, the practice is to adopt a youth of suitable
family and age, who marries the girl and inherits as a son.

The principle of adoption is universal among all classes, from the
Emperor down to his meanest subject; nor is the family line considered
to have been broken because an adopted son has succeeded to the
estates. Indeed, should a noble die without heir male, either begotten
or adopted, his lands are forfeited to the State. It is a matter of
care that the person adopted should be himself sprung from a stock of
rank suited to that of the family into which he is to be received.

Sixteen and upwards being considered the marriageable age for a man,
it is not usual for persons below that age to adopt an heir; yet an
infant at the point of death may adopt a person older than himself,
that the family line may not become extinct.

An account of the marriage ceremony will be found in the Appendix upon
the subject.

In the olden time, in the island of Shikoku[40] there lived one
Funakoshi Jiuyémon, a brave Samurai and accomplished man, who was in
great favour with the prince, his master. One day, at a drinking-bout,
a quarrel sprung up between him and a brother-officer, which resulted
in a duel upon the spot, in which Jiuyémon killed his adversary. When
Jiuyémon awoke to a sense of what he had done, he was struck with
remorse, and he thought to disembowel himself; but, receiving a
private summons from his lord, he went to the castle, and the prince
said to him--

"So it seems that you have been getting drunk and quarrelling, and
that you have killed one of your friends; and now I suppose you will
have determined to perform _hara-kiri_. It is a great pity, and in the
face of the laws I can do nothing for you openly. Still, if you will
escape and fly from this part of the country for a while, in two
years' time the affair will have blown over, and I will allow you to

[Footnote 40: _Shikoku_, one of the southern islands separated from
the chief island of Japan by the beautiful "Inland Sea;" it is called
_Shikoku_, or the "Four Provinces," because it is divided into the
four provinces, _Awa, Sanuki, Iyo,_ and _Tosa_.]

And with these words the prince presented him with a fine sword, made
by Sukésada,[41] and a hundred ounces of silver, and, having bade him
farewell, entered his private apartments; and Jiuyémon, prostrating
himself, wept tears of gratitude; then, taking the sword and the
money, he went home and prepared to fly from the province, and
secretly took leave of his relations, each of whom made him some
parting present. These gifts, together with his own money, and what he
had received from the prince, made up a sum of two hundred and fifty
ounces of silver, with which and his Sukésada sword he escaped under
cover of darkness, and went to a sea-port called Marugamé, in the
province of Sanuki, where he proposed to wait for an opportunity of
setting sail for Osaka. As ill luck would have it, the wind being
contrary, he had to remain three days idle; but at last the wind
changed; so he went down to the beach, thinking that he should
certainly find a junk about to sail; and as he was looking about him,
a sailor came up, and said--

"If your honour is minded to take a trip to Osaka, my ship is bound
thither, and I should be glad to take you with me as passenger."

"That's exactly what I wanted. I will gladly take a passage," replied
Jiuyémon, who was delighted at the chance.

[Footnote 41: _Sukésada_, a famous family of swordsmiths, belonging to
the Bizen clan. The Bizen men are notoriously good armourers, and
their blades fetch high prices. The sword of Jiuyémon is said to have
been made by one of the Sukésada who lived about 290 years ago.]

"Well, then, we must set sail at once, so please come on board
without delay."

So Jiuyémon went with him and embarked; and as they left the harbour
and struck into the open sea, the moon was just rising above the
eastern hills, illumining the dark night like a noonday sun; and
Jiuyémon, taking his place in the bows of the ship, stood wrapt in
contemplation of the beauty of the scene.


Now it happened that the captain of the ship, whose name was Akagôshi
Kuroyémon, was a fierce pirate who, attracted by Jiuyémon's well-to-do
appearance, had determined to decoy him on board, that he might murder
and rob him; and while Jiuyémon was looking at the moon, the pirate
and his companions were collected in the stern of the ship, taking
counsel together in whispers as to how they might slay him. He, on the
other hand, having for some time past fancied their conduct somewhat
strange, bethought him that it was not prudent to lay aside his sword,
so he went towards the place where he had been sitting, and had left
his weapon lying, to fetch it, when he was stopped by three of the
pirates, who blocked up the gangway, saying--

"Stop, Sir Samurai! Unluckily for you, this ship in which you have
taken a passage belongs to the pirate Akagôshi Kuroyémon. Come, sir!
whatever money you may chance to have about you is our prize."

When Jiuyémon heard this he was greatly startled at first, but soon
recovered himself, and being an expert wrestler, kicked over two of
the pirates, and made for his sword; but in the meanwhile Shichirohei,
the younger brother of the pirate captain, had drawn the sword, and
brought it towards him, saying--

"If you want your sword, here it is!" and with that he cut at him; but
Jiuyémon avoided the blow, and closing with the ruffian, got back his
sword. Ten of the pirates then attacked him with spear and sword; but
he, putting his back against the bows of the ship, showed such good
fight that he killed three of his assailants, and the others stood
off, not daring to approach him. Then the pirate captain, Akagôshi
Kuroyémon, who had been watching the fighting from the stern, seeing
that his men stood no chance against Jiuyémon's dexterity, and that he
was only losing them to no purpose, thought to shoot him with a
matchlock. Even Jiuyémon, brave as he was, lost heart when he saw the
captain's gun pointed at him, and tried to jump into the sea; but one
of the pirates made a dash at him with a boat-hook, and caught him by
the sleeve; then Jiuyémon, in despair, took the fine Sukésada sword
which he had received from his prince, and throwing it at his captor,
pierced him through the breast so that he fell dead, and himself
plunging into the sea swam for his life. The pirate captain shot at
him and missed him, and the rest of the crew made every endeavour to
seize him with their boat-hooks, that they might avenge the death of
their mates; but it was all in vain, and Jiuyémon, having shaken off
his clothes that he might swim the better, made good his escape. So
the pirates threw the bodies of their dead comrades into the sea, and
the captain was partly consoled for their loss by the possession of
the Sukésada sword with which one of them had been transfixed.

As soon as Jiuyémon jumped over the ship's side, being a good swimmer,
he took a long dive, which carried him well out of danger, and struck
out vigorously; and although he was tired and distressed by his
exertions, he braced himself up to greater energy, and faced the waves
boldly. At last, in the far distance, to his great joy, he spied a
light, for which he made, and found that it was a ship carrying
lanterns marked with the badge of the governor of Osaka; so he hailed
her, saying--

"I have fallen into great trouble among pirates: pray rescue me."

"Who and what are you?" shouted an officer, some forty years of age.

"My name is Funakoshi Jiuyémon, and I have unwittingly fallen in with
pirates this night. I have escaped so far: I pray you save me, lest I

"Hold on to this, and come up," replied the other, holding out the
butt end of a spear to him, which he caught hold of and clambered up
the ship's side. When the officer saw before him a handsome gentleman,
naked all but his loincloth, and with his hair all in disorder, he
called to his servants to bring some of his own clothes, and, having
dressed him in them, said--

"What clan do you belong to, sir?"

"Sir, I am a Rônin, and was on my way to Osaka; but the sailors of the
ship on which I had embarked were pirates;" and so he told the whole
story of the fight and of his escape.

"Well done, sir!" replied the other, astonished at his prowess. "My
name is Kajiki Tozayémon, at your service. I am an officer attached to
the governor of Osaka. Pray, have you any friends in that city?"

"No, sir, I have no friends there; but as in two years I shall be able
to return to my own country, and re-enter my lord's service, I thought
during that time to engage in trade and live as a common wardsman."

"Indeed, that's a poor prospect! However, if you will allow me, I will
do all that is in my power to assist you. Pray excuse the liberty I am
taking in making such a proposal."

Jiuyémon warmly thanked Kajiki Tozayémon for his kindness; and so they
reached Osaka without further adventures.

Jiuyémon, who had secreted in his girdle the two hundred and fifty
ounces which he had brought with him from home, bought a small house,
and started in trade as a vendor of perfumes, tooth-powder, combs, and
other toilet articles; and Kajiki Tozayémon, who treated him with
great kindness, and rendered him many services, prompted him, as he
was a single man, to take to himself a wife. Acting upon this advice,
he married a singing-girl, called O Hiyaku.[42]

[Footnote 42: The O before women's names signifies "_Imperial_," and
is simply an honorific.]

Now this O Hiyaku, although at first she seemed very affectionately
disposed towards Jiuyémon, had been, during the time that she was a
singer, a woman of bad and profligate character; and at this time
there was in Osaka a certain wrestler, named Takaségawa Kurobei, a
very handsome man, with whom O Hiyaku fell desperately in love; so
that at last, being by nature a passionate woman, she became
unfaithful to Jiuyémon. The latter, little suspecting that anything
was amiss, was in the habit of spending his evenings at the house of
his patron Kajiki Tozayémon, whose son, a youth of eighteen, named
Tônoshin, conceived a great friendship for Jiuyémon, and used
constantly to invite him to play a game at checkers; and it was on
these occasions that O Hiyaku, profiting by her husband's absence,
used to arrange her meetings with the wrestler Takaségawa.

One evening, when Jiuyémon, as was his wont, had gone out to play at
checkers with Kajiki Tônoshin, O Hiyaku took advantage of the occasion
to go and fetch the wrestler, and invite him to a little feast; and as
they were enjoying themselves over their wine, O Hiyaku said to him--

"Ah! Master Takaségawa, how wonderfully chance favours us! and how
pleasant these stolen interviews are! How much nicer still it would
be if we could only be married. But, as long as Jiuyémon is in the
way, it is impossible; and that is my one cause of distress."

"It's no use being in such a hurry. If you only have patience, we
shall be able to marry, sure enough. What you have got to look out for
now is, that Jiuyémon does not find out what we are about. I suppose
there is no chance of his coming home to-night, is there?"

"Oh dear, no! You need not be afraid. He is gone to Kajiki's house to
play checkers; so he is sure to spend the night there."

And so the guilty couple went on gossiping, with their minds at ease,
until at last they dropped off asleep.

In the meanwhile Jiuyémon, in the middle of his game at checkers, was
seized with a sudden pain in his stomach, and said to Kajiki Tônoshin,
"Young sir, I feel an unaccountable pain in my stomach. I think I had
better go home, before it gets worse."

"That is a bad job. Wait a little, and I will give you some physic;
but, at any rate, you had better spend the night here."

"Many thanks for your kindness," replied Jiuyémon; "but I had rather
go home."

So he took his leave, and went off to his own house, bearing the pain
as best he might. When he arrived in front of his own door, he tried
to open it; but the lock was fastened, and he could not get in, so he
rapped violently at the shutters to try and awaken his wife. When O
Hiyaku heard the noise, she woke with a start, and roused the
wrestler, saying to him in a whisper--

"Get up! get up! Jiuyémon has come back. You must hide as fast as

"Oh dear! oh dear!" said the wrestler, in a great fright; "here's a
pretty mess! Where on earth shall I hide myself?" and he stumbled
about in every direction looking for a hiding-place, but found none.

Jiuyémon, seeing that his wife did not come to open the door, got
impatient at last, and forced it open by unfixing the sliding shutter
and, entering the house, found himself face to face with his wife and
her lover, who were both in such confusion that they did not know what
to do. Jiuyémon, however, took no notice of them, but lit his pipe and
sat smoking and watching them in silence. At last the wrestler,
Takaségawa, broke the silence by saying--

"I thought, sir, that I should be sure to have the pleasure of finding
you at home this evening, so I came out to call upon you. When I got
here, the Lady O Hiyaku was so kind as to offer me some wine; and I
drank a little more than was good for me, so that it got into my head,
and I fell asleep. I must really apologize for having taken such a
liberty in your absence; but, indeed, although appearances are against
us, there has been nothing wrong."

"Certainly," said O Hiyaku, coming to her lover's support, "Master
Takaségawa is not at all to blame. It was I who invited him to drink
wine; so I hope you will excuse him."

Jiuyémon sat pondering the matter over in his mind for a moment, and
then said to the wrestler, "You say that you are innocent; but, of
course, that is a lie. It's no use trying to conceal your fault.
However, next year I shall, in all probability, return to my own
country, and then you may take O Hiyaku and do what you will with her:
far be it from me to care what becomes of a woman with such a stinking

When the wrestler and O Hiyaku heard Jiuyémon say this quite quietly,
they could not speak, but held their peace for very shame.

"Here, you Takaségawa," pursued he; "you may stop here to-night, if
you like it, and go home to-morrow."

"Thank you, sir," replied the wrestler, "I am much obliged to you; but
the fact is, that I have some pressing business in another part of the
town, so, with your permission, I will take my leave;" and so he went
out, covered with confusion.

As for the faithless wife, O Hiyaku, she was in great agitation,
expecting to be severely reprimanded at least; but Jiuyémon took no
notice of her, and showed no anger; only from that day forth, although
she remained in his house as his wife, he separated himself from her

Matters went on in this way for some time, until at last, one fine
day, O Hiyaku, looking out of doors, saw the wrestler Takaségawa
passing in the street, so she called out to him--

"Dear me, Master Takaségawa, can that be you! What a long time it is
since we have met! Pray come in, and have a chat."

"Thank you, I am much obliged to you; but as I do not like the sort of
scene we had the other day, I think I had rather not accept your

"Pray do not talk in such a cowardly manner. Next year, when Jiuyémon
goes back to his own country, he is sure to give me this house, and
then you and I can marry and live as happily as possible."

"I don't like being in too great a hurry to accept fair offers."[43]

[Footnote 43: The original is a proverbial expression like "Timeo
Danaos et dona ferentes."]

"Nonsense! There's no need for showing such delicacy about accepting
what is given you."

And as she spoke, she caught the wrestler by the hand and led him into
the house. After they had talked together for some time, she said:--

"Listen to me, Master Takaségawa. I have been thinking over all this
for some time, and I see no help for it but to kill Jiuyémon and make
an end of him."

"What do you want to do that for?"

"As long as he is alive, we cannot be married. What I propose is that
you should buy some poison, and I will put it secretly into his food.
When he is dead, we can be happy to our hearts' content."

At first Takaségawa was startled and bewildered by the audacity of
their scheme; but forgetting the gratitude which he owed to Jiuyémon
for sparing his life on the previous occasion, he replied:--

"Well, I think it can be managed. I have a friend who is a physician,
so I will get him to compound some poison for me, and will send it to
you. You must look out for a moment when your husband is not on his
guard, and get him to take it."

Having agreed upon this, Takaségawa went away, and, having employed a
physician to make up the poison, sent it to O Hiyaku in a letter,
suggesting that the poison should be mixed up with a sort of macaroni,
of which Jiuyémon was very fond. Having read the letter, she put it
carefully away in a drawer of her cupboard, and waited until Jiuyémon
should express a wish to eat some macaroni.

One day, towards the time of the New Year, when O Hiyaku had gone out
to a party with a few of her friends, it happened that Jiuyémon, being
alone in the house, was in want of some little thing, and, failing to
find it anywhere, at last bethought himself to look for it in O
Hiyaku's cupboard; and as he was searching amongst the odds and ends
which it contained, he came upon the fatal letter. When he read the
scheme for putting poison in his macaroni, he was taken aback, and
said to himself, "When I caught those two beasts in their wickedness I
spared them, because their blood would have defiled my sword; and now
they are not even grateful for my mercy. Their crime is beyond all
power of language to express, and I will kill them together."

So he put back the letter in its place, and waited for his wife to
come home. So soon as she made her appearance he said--

"You have come home early, O Hiyaku. I feel very dull and lonely this
evening; let us have a little wine."

And as he spoke without any semblance of anger, it never entered O
Hiyaku's mind that he had seen the letter; so she went about her
household duties with a quiet mind.

The following evening, as Jiuyémon was sitting in his shop casting up
his accounts, with his counting-board[44] in his hand, Takaségawa
passed by, and Jiuyémon called out to him, saying:--

"Well met, Takaségawa! I was just thinking of drinking a cup of wine
to-night; but I have no one to keep me company, and it is dull work
drinking alone. Pray come in, and drink a bout with me."

[Footnote 44: The _abacus_, or counting-board, is the means of
calculation in use throughout the Continent from St. Petersburg to
Peking, in Corea, Japan, and the Liukiu Islands.]

"Thank you, sir, I shall have much pleasure," replied the wrestler,
who little expected what the other was aiming at; and so he went in,
and they began to drink and feast.

"It's very cold to-night," said Jiuyémon, after a while; "suppose we
warm up a little macaroni, and eat it nice and hot. Perhaps, however,
you do not like it?"

"Indeed, I am very fond of it, on the contrary."

"That is well. O Hiyaku, please go and buy a little for us."

"Directly," replied his wife, who hurried off to buy the paste,
delighted at the opportunity for carrying out her murderous design
upon her husband. As soon she had prepared it, she poured it into
bowls and set it before the two men; but into her husband's bowl only
she put poison. Jiuyémon, who well knew what she had done, did not eat
the mess at once, but remained talking about this, that, and the
other; and the wrestler, out of politeness, was obliged to wait also.
All of a sudden, Jiuyémon cried out--

"Dear me! whilst we have been gossiping, the macaroni has been getting
cold. Let us put it all together and warm it up again. As no one has
put his lips to his bowl yet, it will all be clean; so none need be
wasted." And with these words he took the macaroni that was in the
three bowls, and, pouring it altogether into an iron pot, boiled it up
again. This time Jiuyémon served out the food himself, and, setting it
before his wife and the wrestler, said--

"There! make haste and eat it up before it gets cold."

Jiuyémon, of course, did not eat any of the mess; and the would-be
murderers, knowing that sufficient poison had been originally put into
Jiuyémon's bowl to kill them all three, and that now the macaroni,
having been well mixed up, would all be poisoned, were quite taken
aback, and did not know what to do.

"Come! make haste, or it will be quite cold. You said you liked it, so
I sent to buy it on purpose. O Hiyaku! come and make a hearty meal. I
will eat some presently."

At this the pair looked very foolish, and knew not what to answer; at
last the wrestler got up and said--

"I do not feel quite well. I must beg to take my leave; and, if you
will allow me, I will come and accept your hospitality to-morrow

"Dear me! I am sorry to hear you are not well. However, O Hiyaku,
there will be all the more macaroni for you."

As for O Hiyaku, she put a bold face upon the matter, and replied that
she had supped already, and had no appetite for any more.

Then Jiuyémon, looking at them both with a scornful smile, said--

"It seems that you, neither of you, care to eat this macaroni;
however, as you, Takaségawa, are unwell, I will give you some
excellent medicine;" and going to the cupboard, he drew out the
letter, and laid it before the wrestler. When O Hiyaku and the
wrestler saw that their wicked schemes had been brought to light, they
were struck dumb with shame.

Takaségawa, seeing that denial was useless, drew his dirk and cut at
Jiuyémon; but he, being nimble and quick, dived under the wrestler's
arm, and seizing his right hand from behind, tightened his grasp upon
it until it became numbed, and the dirk fell to the ground; for,
powerful man as the wrestler was, he was no match for Jiuyémon, who
held him in so fast a grip that he could not move. Then Jiuyémon took
the dirk which had fallen to the ground, and said:--

"Oh! I thought that you, being a wrestler, would at least be a strong
man, and that there would be some pleasure in fighting you; but I see
that you are but a poor feckless creature, after all. It would have
defiled my sword to have killed such an ungrateful hound with it; but
luckily here is your own dirk, and I will slay you with that."

Takaségawa struggled to escape, but in vain; and O Hiyaku, seizing a
large kitchen knife, attacked Jiuyémon; but he, furious, kicked her in
the loins so violently that she fell powerless, then brandishing the
dirk, he cleft the wrestler from the shoulder down to the nipple of
his breast, and the big man fell in his agony. O Hiyaku, seeing this,
tried to fly; but Jiuyémon, seizing her by the hair of the head,
stabbed her in the bosom, and, placing her by her lover's side, gave
her the death-blow.


On the following day, he sent in a report of what he had done to the
governor of Osaka, and buried the corpses; and from that time forth he
remained a single man, and pursued his trade as a seller of perfumery
and such-like wares; and his leisure hours he continued to spend as
before, at the house of his patron, Kajiki Tozayémon.

One day, when Jiuyémon went to call upon Kajiki Tozayémon, he was told
by the servant-maid, who met him at the door, that her master was out,
but that her young master, Tônoshin, was at home; so, saying that he
would go in and pay his respects to the young gentleman, he entered
the house; and as he suddenly pushed open the sliding-door of the room
in which Tônoshin was sitting, the latter gave a great start, and his
face turned pale and ghastly.

"How now, young sir!" said Jiuyémon, laughing at him, "surely you are
not such a coward as to be afraid because the sliding-doors are
opened? That is not the way in which a brave Samurai should behave."

"Really I am quite ashamed of myself," replied the other, blushing at
the reproof; "but the fact is that I had some reason for being
startled. Listen to me, Sir Jiuyémon, and I will tell you all about
it. To-day, when I went to the academy to study, there were a great
number of my fellow-students gathered together, and one of them said
that a ruinous old shrine, about two miles and a half to the east of
this place, was the nightly resort of all sorts of hobgoblins, who
have been playing pranks and bewitching the people for some time
past; and he proposed that we should all draw lots, and that the one
upon whom the lot fell should go to-night and exorcise those evil
beings; and further that, as a proof of his having gone, he should
write his name upon a pillar in the shrine. All the rest agreed that
this would be very good sport; so I, not liking to appear a coward,
consented to take my chance with the rest; and, as ill luck would
have it, the lot fell upon me. I was thinking over this as you came
in, and so it was that when you suddenly opened the door, I could not
help giving a start."

"If you only think for a moment," said Jiuyémon, "you will see that
there is nothing to fear. How can beasts[45] and hobgoblins exercise
any power over men? However, do not let the matter trouble you. I will
go in your place to-night, and see if I cannot get the better of these
goblins, if any there be, having done which, I will write your name
upon the pillar, so that everybody may think that you have been

[Footnote 45: Foxes, badgers, and cats. See the stories respecting
their tricks.]

"Oh! thank you: that will indeed be a service. You can dress yourself
up in my clothes, and nobody will be the wiser. I shall be truly
grateful to you."

So Jiuyémon having gladly undertaken the job, as soon as the night set
in made his preparations, and went to the place indicated--an
uncanny-looking, tumble-down, lonely old shrine, all overgrown with
moss and rank vegetation. However, Jiuyémon, who was afraid of
nothing, cared little for the appearance of the place, and having made
himself as comfortable as he could in so dreary a spot, sat down on
the floor, lit his pipe, and kept a sharp look-out for the goblins. He
had not been waiting long before he saw a movement among the bushes;
and presently he was surrounded by a host of elfish-looking creatures,
of all shapes and kinds, who came and made hideous faces at him.
Jiuyémon quietly knocked the ashes out of his pipe, and then, jumping
up, kicked over first one and then another of the elves, until several
of them lay sprawling in the grass; and the rest made off, greatly
astonished at this unexpected reception. When Jiuyémon took his
lantern and examined the fallen goblins attentively, he saw that they
were all Tônoshin's fellow-students, who had painted their faces, and
made themselves hideous, to frighten their companion, whom they knew
to be a coward: all they got for their pains, however, was a good
kicking from Jiuyémon, who left them groaning over their sore bones,
and went home chuckling to himself at the result of the adventure.


The fame of this exploit soon became noised about Osaka, so that all
men praised Jiuyémon's courage; and shortly after this he was elected
chief of the Otokodaté,[46] or friendly society of the wardsmen, and
busied himself no longer with his trade, but lived on the
contributions of his numerous apprentices.

[Footnote 46: See the Introduction to the Story of Chôbei of

Now Kajiki Tônoshin was in love with a singing girl named Kashiku,
upon whom he was in the habit of spending a great deal of money. She,
however, cared nothing for him, for she had a sweetheart named
Hichirobei, whom she used to contrive to meet secretly, although, in
order to support her parents, she was forced to become the mistress of
Tônoshin. One evening, when the latter was on guard at the office of
his chief, the Governor of Osaka, Kashiku sent word privately to
Hichirobei, summoning him to go to her house, as the coast would be

While the two were making merry over a little feast, Tônoshin, who had
persuaded a friend to take his duty for him on the plea of urgent
business, knocked at the door, and Kashiku, in a great fright, hid her
lover in a long clothes-box, and went to let in Tônoshin, who, on
entering the room and seeing the litter of the supper lying about,
looked more closely, and perceived a man's sandals, on which, by the
light of a candle, he saw the figure seven.[47] Tônoshin had heard
some ugly reports of Kashiku's proceedings with this man Hichirobei,
and when he saw this proof before his eyes he grew very angry; but he
suppressed his feelings, and, pointing to the wine-cups and bowls,

"Whom have you been feasting with to-night?"

"Oh!" replied Kashiku, who, notwithstanding her distress, was obliged
to invent an answer, "I felt so dull all alone here, that I asked an
old woman from next door to come in and drink a cup of wine with me,
and have a chat."

[Footnote 47: _Hichi_, the first half of _Hichirobei_, signifies

All this while Tônoshin was looking for the hidden lover; but, as he
could not see him, he made up his mind that Kashiku must have let him
out by the back door; so he secreted one of the sandals in his sleeve
as evidence, and, without seeming to suspect anything, said:--

"Well, I shall be very busy this evening, so I must go home."

"Oh! won't you stay a little while? It is very dull here, when I am
all alone without you. Pray stop and keep me company."

But Tônoshin made no reply, and went home. Then Kashiku saw that one
of the sandals was missing, and felt certain that he must have carried
it off as proof; so she went in great trouble to open the lid of the
box, and let out Hichirobei. When the two lovers talked over the
matter, they agreed that, as they both were really in love, let
Tônoshin kill them if he would, they would gladly die together: they
would enjoy the present; let the future take care of itself.

The following morning Kashiku sent a messenger to Tônoshin to implore
his pardon; and he, being infatuated by the girl's charms, forgave
her, and sent a present of thirty ounces of silver to her lover,
Hichirobei, on the condition that he was never to see her again; but,
in spite of this, Kashiku and Hichirobei still continued their secret

It happened that Hichirobei, who was a gambler by profession, had an
elder brother called Chôbei, who kept a wine-shop in the Ajikawa
Street, at Osaka; so Tônoshin thought that he could not do better than
depute Jiuyémon to go and seek out this man Chôbei, and urge him to
persuade his younger brother to give up his relations with Kashiku;
acting upon this resolution, he went to call upon Jiuyémon, and said
to him--

"Sir Jiuyémon, I have a favour to ask of you in connection with that
girl Kashiku, whom you know all about. You are aware that I paid
thirty ounces of silver to her lover Hichirobei to induce him to give
up going to her house; but, in spite of this, I cannot help suspecting
that they still meet one another. It seems that this Hichirobei has an
elder brother--one Chôbei; now, if you would go to this man and tell
him to reprove his brother for his conduct, you would be doing me a
great service. You have so often stood my friend, that I venture to
pray you to oblige me in this matter, although I feel that I am
putting you to great inconvenience."

Jiuyémon, out of gratitude for the kindness which he had received at
the hands of Kajiki Tozayémon, was always willing to serve Tônoshin;
so he went at once to find out Chôbei, and said to him--

"My name, sir, is Jiuyémon, at your service; and I have come to beg
your assistance in a matter of some delicacy."

"What can I do to oblige you, sir?" replied Chôbei, who felt bound to
be more than usually civil, as his visitor was the chief of the

"It is a small matter, sir," said Jiuyémon. "Your younger brother
Hichirobei is intimate with a woman named Kashiku, whom he meets in
secret. Now, this Kashiku is the mistress of the son of a gentleman to
whom I am under great obligation: he bought her of her parents for a
large sum of money, and, besides this, he paid your brother thirty
ounces of silver some time since, on condition of his separating
himself from the girl; in spite of this, it appears that your brother
continues to see her, and I have come to beg that you will remonstrate
with your brother on his conduct, and make him give her up."

"That I certainly will. Pray do not be uneasy; I will soon find means
to put a stop to my brother's bad behaviour."

And so they went on talking of one thing and another, until Jiuyémon,
whose eyes had been wandering about the room, spied out a very long
dirk lying on a cupboard, and all at once it occurred to him that this
was the very sword which had been a parting gift to him from his lord:
the hilt, the mountings, and the tip of the scabbard were all the
same, only the blade had been shortened and made into a long dirk.
Then he looked more attentively at Chôbei's features, and saw that he
was no other than Akagôshi Kuroyémon, the pirate chief. Two years had
passed by, but he could not forget that face.

Jiuyémon would have liked to have arrested him at once; but thinking
that it would be a pity to give so vile a robber a chance of escape,
he constrained himself, and, taking his leave, went straightway and
reported the matter to the Governor of Osaka. When the officers of
justice heard of the prey that awaited them, they made their
preparations forthwith. Three men of the secret police went to
Chôbei's wine-shop, and, having called for wine, pretended to get up a
drunken brawl; and as Chôbei went up to them and tried to pacify them,
one of the policemen seized hold of him, and another tried to pinion
him. It at once flashed across Chôbei's mind that his old misdeeds had
come to light at last, so with a desperate effort he shook off the two
policemen and knocked them down, and, rushing into the inner room,
seized the famous Sukésada sword and sprang upstairs. The three
policemen, never thinking that he could escape, mounted the stairs
close after him; but Chôbei with a terrible cut cleft the front man's
head in sunder, and the other two fell back appalled at their
comrade's fate. Then Chôbei climbed on to the roof, and, looking out,
perceived that the house was surrounded on all sides by armed men.
Seeing this, he made up his mind that his last moment was come, but,
at any rate, he determined to sell his life dearly, and to die
fighting; so he stood up bravely, when one of the officers, coming up
from the roof of a neighbouring house, attacked him with a spear; and
at the same time several other soldiers clambered up. Chôbei, seeing
that he was overmatched, jumped down, and before the soldiers below
had recovered from their surprise he had dashed through their ranks,
laying about him right and left, and cutting down three men. At top
speed he fled, with his pursuers close behind him; and, seeing the
broad river ahead of him, jumped into a small boat that lay moored
there, of which the boatmen, frightened at the sight of his bloody
sword, left him in undisputed possession. Chôbei pushed off, and
sculled vigorously into the middle of the river; and the
officers--there being no other boat near--were for a moment baffled.
One of them, however, rushing down the river bank, hid himself on a
bridge, armed with. a spear, and lay in wait for Chôbei to pass in his
boat; but when the little boat came up, he missed his aim, and only
scratched Chôbei's elbow; and he, seizing the spear, dragged down his
adversary into the river, and killed him as he was struggling in the
water; then, sculling for his life, he gradually drew near to the sea.
The other officers in the mean time had secured ten boats, and, having
come up with Chôbei, surrounded him; but he, having formerly been a
pirate, was far better skilled in the management of a boat than his
pursuers, and had no great difficulty in eluding them; so at last he
pushed out to sea, to the great annoyance of the officers, who
followed him closely.

Then Jiuyémon, who had come up, said to one of the officers on the

"Have you caught him yet?"

"No; the fellow is so brave and so cunning that our men can do nothing
with him."

"He's a determined ruffian, certainly. However, as the fellow has got
my sword, I mean to get it back by fair means or foul: will you allow
me to undertake the job of seizing him?"

"Well, you may try; and you will have officers to assist you, if you
are in peril."

Jiuyémon, having received this permission, stripped off his clothes
and jumped into the sea, carrying with him a policeman's mace, to the
great astonishment of all the bystanders. When he got near Chôbei's
boat, he dived and came up alongside, without the pirate perceiving
him until he had clambered into the boat. Chôbei had the good Sukésada
sword, and Jiuyémon was armed with nothing but a mace; but Chôbei, on
the other hand, was exhausted with his previous exertions, and was
taken by surprise at a moment when he was thinking of nothing but how
he should scull away from the pursuing boats; so it was not long
before Jiuyémon mastered and secured him.

For this feat, besides recovering his Sukésada sword, Jiuyémon
received many rewards and great praise from the Governor of Osaka. But
the pirate Chôbei was cast into prison.

Hichirobei, when he heard of his brother's capture, was away from
home; but seeing that he too would be sought for, he determined to
escape to Yedo at once, and travelled along the Tôkaidô, the great
highroad, as far as Kuana. But the secret police had got wind of his
movements, and one of them was at his heels disguised as a beggar, and
waiting for an opportunity to seize him.

Hichirobei in the meanwhile was congratulating himself on his escape;
and, little suspecting that he would be in danger so far away from
Osaka, he went to a house of pleasure, intending to divert himself at
his ease. The policeman, seeing this, went to the master of the house
and said--

"The guest who has just come in is a notorious thief, and I am on his
track, waiting to arrest him. Do you watch for the moment when he
falls asleep, and let me know. Should he escape, the blame will fall
upon you."

The master of the house, who was greatly taken aback, consented of
course; so he told the woman of the house to hide Hichirobei's dirk,
and as soon as the latter, wearied with his journey, had fallen
asleep, he reported it to the policeman, who went upstairs, and having
bound Hichirobei as he lay wrapped up in his quilt, led him back to
Osaka to be imprisoned with his brother.

When Kashiku became aware of her lover's arrest, she felt certain that
it was the handiwork of Jiuyémon; so she determined to kill him, were
it only that she might die with Hichirobei. So hiding a kitchen knife
in the bosom of her dress, she went at midnight to Jiuyémon's house,
and looked all round to see if there were no hole or cranny by which
she might slip in unobserved; but every door was carefully closed, so
she was obliged to knock at the door and feign an excuse.

"Let me in! let me in! I am a servant-maid in the house of Kajiki
Tozayémon, and am charged with a letter on most pressing business to
Sir Jiuyémon."

Hearing this, one of Jiuyémon's servants, thinking her tale was true,
rose and opened the door; and Kashiku, stabbing him in the face, ran
past him into the house. Inside she met another apprentice, who had
got up, aroused by the noise; him too she stabbed in the belly, but as
he fell he cried out to Jiuyémon, saying:--

"Father, father![48] take care! Some murderous villain has broken into
the house."

[Footnote 48: The apprentice addresses his patron as "father."]

[Illustration: "GOKUMON."]

And Kashiku, desperate, stopped his further utterance by cutting his
throat. Jiuyémon, hearing his apprentice cry out, jumped up, and,
lighting his night-lamp, looked about him in the half-gloom, and saw
Kashiku with the bloody knife, hunting for him that she might kill
him. Springing upon her before she saw him, he clutched her right
hand, and, having secured her, bound her with cords so that she could
not move. As soon as he had recovered from his surprise, he looked
about him, and searched the house, when, to his horror, he found one
of his apprentices dead, and the other lying bleeding from a frightful
gash across the face. With the first dawn of day, he reported the
affair to the proper authorities, and gave Kashiku in custody. So,
after due examination, the two pirate brothers and the girl Kashiku
were executed, and their heads were exposed together.[49]

[Footnote 49: The exposure of the head, called _Gokumon_, is a
disgraceful addition to the punishment of beheading. A document,
placed on the execution-ground, sets forth the crime which has called
forth the punishment.]

Now the fame of all the valiant deeds of Jiuyémon having reached his
own country, his lord ordered that he should be pardoned for his
former offence, and return to his allegiance; so, after thanking
Kajiki Tozayémon for the manifold favours which he had received at his
hands, he went home, and became a Samurai as before.

       *       *       *       *       *

The fat wrestlers of Japan, whose heavy paunches and unwieldy, puffy
limbs, however much they may be admired by their own country people,
form a striking contrast to our Western notions of training, have
attracted some attention from travellers; and those who are interested
in athletic sports may care to learn something about them.

The first historical record of wrestling occurs in the sixth year of
the Emperor Suinin (24 B.C.), when one Taima no Kéhaya, a noble of
great stature and strength, boasting that there was not his match
under heaven, begged the Emperor that his strength might be put to the
test. The Emperor accordingly caused the challenge to be proclaimed;
and one Nomi no Shikuné answered it, and having wrestled with Kéhaya,
kicked him in the ribs and broke his bones, so that he died. After
this Shikuné was promoted to high office, and became further famous in
Japanese history as having substituted earthen images for the living
men who, before his time, used to be buried with the coffin of the

In the year A.D. 858 the throne of Japan was wrestled for. The Emperor
Buntoku had two sons, called Koréshito and Korétaka, both of whom
aspired to the throne. Their claims were decided in a wrestling match,
in which one Yoshirô was the champion of Koréshito, and Natora the
champion of Korétaka. Natora having been defeated, Koréshito ascended
his father's throne under the style of Seiwa.

In the eighth century, when Nara was the capital of Japan, the Emperor
Shômu instituted wrestling as part of the ceremonies of the autumn
festival of the Five Grains, or Harvest Home; and as the year proved a
fruitful one, the custom was continued as auspicious. The strong men
of the various provinces were collected, and one Kiyobayashi was
proclaimed the champion of Japan. Many a brave and stout man tried a
throw with him, but none could master him. Rules of the ring were now
drawn up; and in order to prevent disputes, Kiyobayashi was appointed
by the Emperor to be the judge of wrestling-matches, and was
presented, as a badge of his office, with a fan, upon which were
inscribed the words the "Prince of Lions."

The wrestlers were divided into wrestlers of the eastern and of the
western provinces, Omi being taken as the centre province. The eastern
wrestlers wore in their hair the badge of the hollyhock; the western
wrestlers took for their sign the gourd-flower. Hence the passage
leading up to the wrestling-stage was called the "Flower Path."
Forty-eight various falls were fixed upon as fair--twelve throws,
twelve lifts, twelve twists, and twelve throws over the back. All
other throws not included in these were foul, and it was the duty of
the umpire to see that no unlawful tricks were resorted to. It was
decided that the covered stage should be composed of sixteen
rice-bales, in the shape of one huge bale, supported by four pillars
at the four points of the compass, each pillar being painted a
different colour, thus, together with certain paper pendants, making
up five colours, to symbolize the Five Grains.

[Illustration: CHAMPION WRESTLER.]

The civil wars by which the country was disturbed for a while put a
stop to the practice of wrestling; but when peace was restored it was
proposed to re-establish the athletic games, and the umpire
Kiyobayashi, the "Prince of Lions," was sought for; but he had died or
disappeared, and could not be found, and there was no umpire
forthcoming. The various provinces were searched for a man who might
fill his place, and one Yoshida Iyétsugu, a Rônin of the province of
Echizen, being reported to be well versed in the noble science, was
sent for to the capital, and proved to be a pupil of Kiyobayashi. The
Emperor, having approved him, ordered that the fan of the "Prince of
Lions" should be made over to him, and gave him the title of Bungo no
Kami, and commanded that his name in the ring should be Oi-Kazé, the
"Driving Wind." Further, as a sign that there should not be two
styles of wrestling, a second fan was given to him bearing the
inscription, "A single flavour is a beautiful custom." The right of
acting as umpire in wrestling-matches was vested in his family, that
the "Driving Wind" might for future generations preside over athletic
sports. In ancient days, the prizes for the three champion wrestlers
were a bow, a bowstring, and an arrow: these are still brought into
the ring, and, at the end of the bout, the successful competitors go
through a variety of antics with them.

To the champion wrestlers--to two or three men only in a
generation--the family of the "Driving Wind" awards the privilege of
wearing a rope-girdle. In the time of the Shogunate these champions
used to wrestle before the Shogun.

At the beginning of the 17th century (A.D. 1606) wrestling-matches, as
forming a regular part of a religious ceremony, were discontinued.
They are still held, however, at the shrines of Kamo, at Kiôto, and of
Kasuga, in Yamato. They are also held at Kamakura every year, and at
the shrines of the patron saints of the various provinces, in
imitation of the ancient customs.

In the year 1623 one Akashi Shiganosuké obtained leave from the
Government to hold public wrestling-matches in the streets of Yedo.
In the year 1644 was held the first wrestling-match for the purpose
of raising a collection for building a temple. This was done by
the priests of Kofukuji, in Yamashiro. In the year 1660 the same
expedient was resorted to in Yedo, and the custom of getting up
wrestling-matches for the benefit of temple funds holds good to this

The following graphic description of a Japanese wrestling-match is
translated from the "Yedo Hanjôki":--

"From daybreak till eight in the morning a drum is beaten to announce
that there will be wrestling. The spectators rise early for the sight.
The adversaries having been settled, the wrestlers enter the ring from
the east and from the west. Tall stalwart men are they, with sinews
and bones of iron. Like the Gods Niô,[50] they stand with their arms
akimbo, and, facing one another, they crouch in their strength. The
umpire watches until the two men draw their breath at the same time,
and with his fan gives the signal. They jump up and close with one
another, like tigers springing on their prey, or dragons playing with
a ball. Each is bent on throwing the other by twisting or by lifting
him. It is no mere trial of brute strength; it is a tussle of skill
against skill. Each of the forty-eight throws is tried in turn. From
left to right, and from right to left, the umpire hovers about,
watching for the victory to declare itself. Some of the spectators
back the east, others back the west. The patrons of the ring are so
excited that they feel the strength tingling within them; they clench
their fists, and watch their men, without so much as blinking their
eyes. At last one man, east or west, gains the advantage, and the
umpire lifts his fan in token of victory. The plaudits of the
bystanders shake the neighbourhood, and they throw their clothes or
valuables into the ring, to be redeemed afterwards in money; nay, in
his excitement, a man will even tear off his neighbour's jacket and
throw it in."

[Footnote 50: The Japanese Gog and Magog.]

[Illustration: A WRESTLING MATCH.]

Before beginning their tussle, the wrestlers work up their strength by
stamping their feet and slapping their huge thighs. This custom is
derived from the following tale of the heroic or mythological age:--

After the seven ages of the heavenly gods came the reign of Tensho
Daijin, the Sun Goddess, and first Empress of Japan. Her younger
brother, Sosanöô no Mikoto, was a mighty and a brave hero, but
turbulent, and delighted in hunting the deer and the boar. After
killing these beasts, he would throw their dead bodies into the sacred
hall of his sister, and otherwise defile her dwelling. When he had
done this several times, his sister was angry, and hid in the cave
called the Rock Gate of Heaven; and when her face was not seen, there
was no difference between the night and the day. The heroes who served
her, mourning over this, went to seek her; but she placed a huge stone
in front of the cave, and would not come forth. The heroes, seeing
this, consulted together, and danced and played antics before the cave
to lure her out. Tempted by curiosity to see the sight, she opened the
gate a little and peeped out. Then the hero Tajikaraô, or "Great
Strength," clapping his hands and stamping his feet, with a great
effort grasped and threw down the stone door, and the heroes fetched
back the Sun Goddess.[51] As Tajikaraô is the patron god of Strength,
wrestlers, on entering the ring, still commemorate his deed by
clapping their hands and stamping their feet as a preparation for
putting forth their strength.

[Footnote 51: The author of the history called "Kokushi Riyaku"
explains this fable as being an account of the first eclipse.]

The great Daimios are in the habit of attaching wrestlers to their
persons, and assigning to them a yearly portion of rice. It is usual
for these athletes to take part in funeral or wedding processions, and
to escort the princes on journeys. The rich wardsmen or merchants give
money to their favourite wrestlers, and invite them to their houses to
drink wine and feast. Though low, vulgar fellows, they are allowed
something of the same familiarity which is accorded to prize-fighters,
jockeys, and the like, by their patrons in our own country.

The Japanese wrestlers appear to have no regular system of training;
they harden their naturally powerful limbs by much beating, and by
butting at wooden posts with their shoulders. Their diet is stronger
than that of the ordinary Japanese, who rarely touch meat.


It will be long before those who were present at the newly opened port
of Kôbé on the 4th of February, 1868, will forget that day. The civil
war was raging, and the foreign Legations, warned by the flames of
burning villages, no less than by the flight of the Shogun and his
ministers, had left Osaka, to take shelter at Kôbé, where they were
not, as at the former place, separated from their ships by more than
twenty miles of road, occupied by armed troops in a high state of
excitement, with the alternative of crossing in tempestuous weather a
dangerous bar, which had already taken much valuable life. It was a
fine winter's day, and the place was full of bustle, and of the going
and coming of men busy with the care of housing themselves and their
goods and chattels. All of a sudden, a procession of armed men,
belonging to the Bizen clan, was seen to leave the town, and to
advance along the high road leading to Osaka; and without apparent
reason--it was said afterwards that two Frenchmen had crossed the line
of march--there was a halt, a stir, and a word of command given. Then
the little clouds of white smoke puffed up, and the sharp "ping" of
the rifle bullets came whizzing over the open space, destined for a
foreign settlement, as fast as the repeating breech-loaders could be
discharged. Happily, the practice was very bad; for had the men of
Bizen been good shots, almost all the principal foreign officials in
the country, besides many merchants and private gentlemen, must have
been killed: as it was, only two or three men were wounded. If they
were bad marksmen, however, they were mighty runners; for they soon
found that they had attacked a hornets' nest. In an incredibly short
space of time, the guards of the different Legations and the sailors
and marines from the ships of war were in hot chase after the enemy,
who were scampering away over the hills as fast as their legs could
carry them, leaving their baggage ingloriously scattered over the
road, as many a cheap lacquered hat and flimsy paper cartridge-box,
preserved by our Blue Jackets as trophies, will testify. So good was
the stampede, that the enemy's loss amounted only to one aged coolie,
who, being too decrepit to run, was taken prisoner, after having had
seventeen revolver shots fired at him without effect; and the only
injury that our men inflicted was upon a solitary old woman, who was
accidently shot through the leg.

If it had not been for the serious nature of the offence given, which
was an attack upon the flags of all the treaty Powers, and for the
terrible retribution which was of necessity exacted, the whole affair
would have been recollected chiefly for the ludicrous events which it
gave rise to. The mounted escort of the British Legation executed a
brilliant charge of cavalry down an empty road; a very pretty line of
skirmishers along the fields fired away a great deal of ammunition
with no result; earthworks were raised, and Kôbé was held in military
occupation for three days, during which there were alarms, cutting-out
expeditions with armed boats, steamers seized, and all kinds of
martial effervescence. In fact, it was like fox-hunting: it had "all
the excitement of war, with only ten per cent. of the danger."

The first thought of the kind-hearted doctor of the British Legation
was for the poor old woman who had been wounded, and was bemoaning
herself piteously. When she was carried in, a great difficulty arose,
which, I need hardly say, was overcome; for the poor old creature
belonged to the Etas, the Pariah race, whose presence pollutes the
house even of the poorest and humblest Japanese; and the native
servants strongly objected to her being treated as a human being,
saying that the Legation would be for ever defiled if she were
admitted within its sacred precincts. No account of Japanese society
would be complete without a notice of the Etas; and the following
story shows well, I think, the position which they hold.

Their occupation is to slay beasts, work leather, attend upon
criminals, and do other degrading work. Several accounts are given of
their origin; the most probable of which is, that when Buddhism, the
tenets of which forbid the taking of life, was introduced, those who
lived by the infliction of death became accursed in the land, their
trade being made hereditary, as was the office of executioner in some
European countries. Another story is, that they are the descendants of
the Tartar invaders left behind by Kublai Khan. Some further facts
connected with the Etas are given in a note at the end of the tale.

       *       *       *       *       *

Once upon a time, some two hundred years ago, there lived at a place
called Honjô, in Yedo, a Hatamoto named Takoji Genzaburô; his age was
about twenty-four or twenty-five, and he was of extraordinary personal
beauty. His official duties made it incumbent on him to go to the
Castle by way of the Adzuma Bridge, and here it was that a strange
adventure befel him. There was a certain Eta, who used to earn his
living by going out every day to the Adzuma Bridge, and mending the
sandals of the passers-by. Whenever Genzaburô crossed the bridge, the
Eta used always to bow to him. This struck him as rather strange; but
one day when Genzaburô was out alone, without any retainers following
him, and was passing the Adzuma Bridge, the thong of his sandal
suddenly broke: this annoyed him very much; however, he recollected
the Eta cobbler who always used to bow to him so regularly, so he went
to the place where he usually sat, and ordered him to mend his sandal,
saying to him: "Tell me why it is that every time that I pass by
this bridge, you salute me so respectfully."


When the Eta heard this, he was put out of countenance, and for a
while he remained silent; but at last taking courage, he said to
Genzaburô, "Sir, having been honoured with your commands, I am quite
put to shame. I was originally a gardener, and used to go to your
honour's house and lend a hand in trimming up the garden. In those
days your honour was very young, and I myself little better than a
child; and so I used to play with your honour, and received many
kindnesses at your hands. My name, sir, is Chokichi. Since those days
I have fallen by degrees info dissolute habits, and little by little
have sunk to be the vile thing that you now see me."

When Genzaburô heard this he was very much surprised, and,
recollecting his old friendship for his playmate, was filled with
pity, and said, "Surely, surely, you have fallen very low. Now all you
have to do is to presevere and use your utmost endeavours to find a
means of escape from the class into which you have fallen, and become
a wardsman again. Take this sum: small as it is, let it be a
foundation for more to you." And with these words he took ten riyos
out of his pouch and handed them to Chokichi, who at first refused to
accept the present, but, when it was pressed upon him, received it
with thanks. Genzaburô was leaving him to go home, when two wandering
singing-girls came up and spoke to Chokichi; so Genzaburô looked to
see what the two women were like. One was a woman of some twenty years
of age, and the other was a peerlessly beautiful girl of sixteen; she
was neither too fat nor too thin, neither too tall nor too short; her
face was oval, like a melon-seed, and her complexion fair and white;
her eyes were narrow and bright, her teeth small and even; her nose
was aquiline, and her mouth delicately formed, with lovely red lips;
her eyebrows were long and fine; she had a profusion of long black
hair; she spoke modestly, with a soft sweet voice; and when she
smiled, two lovely dimples appeared in her cheeks; in all her
movements she was gentle and refined. Genzaburô fell in love with her
at first sight; and she, seeing what a handsome man he was, equally
fell in love with him; so that the woman that was with her, perceiving
that they were struck with one another, led her away as fast as

Genzaburô remained as one stupefied, and, turning to Chokichi, said,
"Are you acquainted with those two women who came up just now?"

"Sir," replied Chokichi, "those are two women of our people. The elder
woman is called O Kuma, and the girl, who is only sixteen years old,
is named O Koyo. She is the daughter of one Kihachi, a chief of the
Etas. She is a very gentle girl, besides being so exceedingly pretty;
and all our people are loud in her praise."

When he heard this, Genzaburô remained lost in thought for a while,
and then said to Chokichi, "I want you to do something for me. Are
you prepared to serve me in whatever respect I may require you?"

Chokichi answered that he was prepared to do anything in his power to
oblige his honour. Upon this Genzaburô smiled and said, "Well, then, I
am willing to employ you in a certain matter; but as there are a great
number of passers-by here, I will go and wait for you in a tea-house
at Hanakawado; and when you have finished your business here, you can
join me, and I will speak to you." With these words Genzaburô left
him, and went off to the tea-house.

When Chokichi had finished his work, he changed his clothes, and,
hurrying to the tea-house, inquired for Genzaburô, who was waiting for
him upstairs. Chokichi went up to him, and began to thank him for the
money which he had bestowed upon him. Genzaburô smiled, and handed him
a wine-cup, inviting him to drink, and said--

"I will tell you the service upon which I wish to employ you. I have
set my heart upon that girl O Koyo, whom I met to-day upon the Adzuma
Bridge, and you must arrange a meeting between us."

When Chokichi heard these words, he was amazed and frightened, and for
a while he made no answer. At last he said---

"Sir, there is nothing that I would not do for you after the favours
that I have received from you. If this girl were the daughter of any
ordinary man, I would move heaven and earth to comply with your
wishes; but for your honour, a handsome and noble Hatamoto, to take
for his concubine the daughter of an Eta is a great mistake. By giving
a little money you can get the handsomest woman in the town. Pray,
sir, abandon the idea."

Upon this Genzaburô was offended, and said--

"This is no matter for you to give advice in. I have told you to get
me the girl, and you must obey."

Chokichi, seeing that all that he could say would be of no avail,
thought over in his mind how to bring about a meeting between
Genzaburô and O Koyo, and replied--

"Sir, I am afraid when I think of the liberty that I have taken. I
will go to Kihachi's house, and will use my best endeavours with him
that I may bring the girl to you. But for to-day, it is getting late,
and night is coming on; so I will go and speak to her father

Genzaburô was delighted to find Chokichi willing to serve him.

"Well," said he, "the day after to-morrow I will await you at the
tea-house at Oji, and you can bring O Koyo there. Take this present,
small as it is, and do your best for me."

With this he pulled out three riyos from his pocket and handed them to
Chokichi. who declined the money with thanks, saying that he had
already received too much, and could accept no more; but Genzaburô
pressed him, adding, that if the wish of his heart were accomplished
he would do still more for him. So Chokichi, in great glee at the good
luck which had befallen him, began to revolve all sorts of schemes in
his mind; and the two parted.

But O Koyo, who had fallen in love at first sight with Genzaburô on
the Adzuma Bridge, went home and could think of nothing but him. Sad
and melancholy she sat, and her friend O Kuma tried to comfort her in
various ways; but O Koyo yearned, with all her heart, for Genzaburô;
and the more she thought over the matter, the better she perceived
that she, as the daughter of an Eta, was no match for a noble
Hatamoto. And yet, in spite of this, she pined for him, and bewailed
her own vile condition.

Now it happened that her friend O Kuma was in love with Chokichi, and
only cared for thinking and speaking of him; one day, when Chokichi
went to pay a visit at the house of Kihachi the Eta chief, O Kuma,
seeing him come, was highly delighted, and received him very politely;
and Chokichi, interrupting her, said--

"O Kuma, I want you to answer me a question: where has O Koyo gone to
amuse herself to-day?"

"Oh, you know the gentleman who was talking with you the other day, at
the Adzuma Bridge? Well, O Koyo has fallen desperately in love with
him, and she says that she is too low-spirited and out of sorts to get
up yet."

Chokichi was greatly pleased to hear this, and said to O Kuma--

"How delightful! Why, O Koyo has fallen in love with the very
gentleman who is burning with passion for her, and who has employed me
to help him in the matter. However, as he is a noble Hatamoto, and his
whole family would be ruined if the affair became known to the world,
we must endeavour to keep it as secret as possible."

"Dear me!" replied O Kuma; "when O Koyo hears this, how happy she will
be, to be sure! I must go and tell her at once."

"Stop!" said Chokichi, detaining her; "if her father, Master Kihachi,
is willing, we will tell O Koyo directly. You had better wait here a
little until I have consulted him;" and with this he went into an
inner chamber to see Kihachi; and, after talking over the news of the
day, told him how Genzaburô had fallen passionately in love with O
Koyo, and had employed him as a go-between. Then he described how he
had received kindness at the hands of Genzaburô when he was in better
circumstances, dwelt on the wonderful personal beauty of his lordship,
and upon the lucky chance by which he and O Koyo had come to meet each

When Kihachi heard this story, he was greatly flattered, and said--

"I am sure I am very much obliged to you. For one of our daughters,
whom even the common people despise and shun as a pollution, to be
chosen as the concubine of a noble Hatamoto--what could be a greater
matter for congratulation!"

So he prepared a feast for Chokichi, and went off at once to tell O
Koyo the news. As for the maiden, who had fallen over head and ears in
love, there was no difficulty in obtaining her consent to all that was
asked of her.

Accordingly Chokichi, having arranged to bring the lovers together on
the following day at Oji, was preparing to go and report the glad
tidings to Genzaburô; but O Koyo, who knew that her friend O Kuma was
in love with Chokichi, and thought that if she could throw them into
one another's arms, they, on their side, would tell no tales about
herself and Genzaburô, worked to such good purpose that she gained her
point. At last Chokichi, tearing himself from the embraces of O Kuma,
returned to Genzaburô, and told him how he had laid his plans so as,
without fail, to bring O Koyo to him, the following day, at Oji, and
Genzaburô, beside himself with impatience, waited for the morrow.

The next day Genzaburô, having made his preparations, and taking
Chokichi with him, went to the tea-house at Oji, and sat drinking
wine, waiting for his sweetheart to come.

As for O Koyo, who was half in ecstasies, and half shy at the idea of
meeting on this day the man of her heart's desire, she put on her
holiday clothes, and went with O Kuma to Oji; and as they went out
together, her natural beauty being enhanced by her smart dress, all
the people turned round to look at her, and praise her pretty face.
And so after a while, they arrived at Oji, and went into the tea-house
that had been agreed upon; and Chokichi, going out to meet them,

"Dear me, Miss O Koyo, his lordship has been all impatience waiting
for you: pray make haste and come in."

But, in spite of what he said, O Koyo, on account of her virgin
modesty, would not go in. O Kuma, however, who was not quite so
particular, cried out--

"Why, what is the meaning of this? As you've come here, O Koyo, it's a
little late for you to be making a fuss about being shy. Don't be a
little fool, but come in with me at once." And with these words she
caught fast hold of O Koyo's hand, and, pulling her by force into the
room, made her sit down by Genzaburô.

When Genzaburô saw how modest she was, he reassured her, saying--

"Come, what is there to be so shy about? Come a little nearer to me,

"Thank you, sir. How could I, who am such a vile thing, pollute your
nobility by sitting by your side?" And, as she spoke, the blushes
mantled over her face; and the more Genzaburô looked at her, the more
beautiful she appeared in his eyes, and the more deeply he became
enamoured of her charms. In the meanwhile he called for wine and fish,
and all four together made a feast of it. When Chokichi and O Kuma
saw how the land lay, they retired discreetly into another chamber,
and Genzaburô and O Koyo were left alone together, looking at one

"Come," said Genzaburô, smiling, "hadn't you better sit a little
closer to me?"

"Thank you, sir; really I'm afraid."

But Genzaburô, laughing at her for her idle fears, said--

"Don't behave as if you hated me."

"Oh, dear! I'm sure I don't hate you, sir. That would be very rude;
and, indeed, it's not the case. I loved you when I first saw you at
the Adzuma Bridge, and longed for you with all my heart; but I knew
what a despised race I belonged to, and that I was no fitting match
for you, and so I tried to be resigned. But I am very young and
inexperienced, and so I could not help thinking of you, and you alone;
and then Chokichi came, and when I heard what you had said about me, I
thought, in the joy of my heart, that it must be a dream of

And as she spoke these words, blushing timidly, Genzaburô was dazzled
with her beauty, and said---

"Well, you're a clever child. I'm sure, now, you must have some
handsome young lover of your own, and that is why you don't care to
come and drink wine and sit by me. Am I not right, eh?"

"Ah, sir, a nobleman like you is sure to have a beautiful wife at
home; and then you are so handsome that, of course, all the pretty
young ladies are in love with you."

"Nonsense! Why, how clever you are at flattering and paying
compliments! A pretty little creature like you was just made to turn
all the men's heads--a little witch."

"Ah! those are hard things to say of a poor girl! Who could think of
falling in love with such a wretch as I am? Now, pray tell me all
about your own sweetheart: I do so long to hear about her."

"Silly child! I'm not the sort of man to put thoughts into the heads
of fair ladies. However, it is quite true that there is some one whom
I want to marry."

At this O Koyo began to feel jealous.

"Ah!" said she, "how happy that some one must be! Do, pray, tell me
the whole story." And a feeling of jealous spite came over her, and
made her quite unhappy.

Genzaburô laughed as he answered--

"Well, that some one is yourself, and nobody else. There!" and as he
spoke, he gently tapped the dimple on her cheek with his finger; and O
Koyo's heart beat so, for very joy, that, for a little while, she
remained speechless. At last she turned her face towards Genzaburô,
and said--

"Alas! your lordship is only trifling with me, when you know that what
you have just been pleased to propose is the darling wish of my heart.
Would that I could only go into your house as a maid-servant, in any
capacity, however mean, that I might daily feast my eyes on your
handsome face!"

"Ah! I see that you think yourself very clever at hoaxing men, and so
you must needs tease me a little;" and, as he spoke, he took her hand,
and drew her close up to him, and she, blushing again, cried--

"Oh! pray wait a moment, while I shut the sliding-doors."

"Listen to me, O Koyo! I am not going to forget the promise which I
made you just now; nor need you be afraid of my harming you; but take
care that you do not deceive me."

"Indeed, sir, the fear is rather that you should set your heart on
others; but, although I am no fashionable lady, take pity on me, and
love me well and long."

"Of course! I shall never care for another woman but you."

"Pray, pray, never forget those words that you have just spoken."

"And now," replied Genzaburô, "the night is advancing, and, for
to-day, we must part; but we will arrange matters, so as to meet again
in this tea-house. But, as people would make remarks if we left the
tea-house together, I will go out first."

And so, much against their will, they tore themselves from one
another, Genzaburô returning to his house, and O Koyo going home, her
heart filled with joy at having found the man for whom she had pined;
and from that day forth they used constantly to meet in secret at the
tea-house; and Genzaburô, in his infatuation, never thought that the
matter must surely become notorious after a while, and that he himself
would be banished, and his family ruined: he only took care for the
pleasure of the moment.

Now Chokichi, who had brought about the meeting between Genzaburô and
his love, used to go every day to the tea-house at Oji, taking with
him O Koyo; and Genzaburô neglected all his duties for the pleasure of
these secret meetings. Chokichi saw this with great regret, and
thought to himself that if Genzaburô gave himself up entirely to
pleasure, and laid aside his duties, the secret would certainly be
made public, and Genzaburô would bring ruin on himself and his family;
so he began to devise some plan by which he might separate them, and
plotted as eagerly to estrange them as he had formerly done to
introduce them to one another.

At last he hit upon a device which satisfied him. Accordingly one day
he went to O Koyo's house, and, meeting her father Kihachi, said to

"I've got a sad piece of news to tell you. The family of my lord
Genzaburô have been complaining bitterly of his conduct in carrying on
his relationship with your daughter, and of the ruin which exposure
would bring upon the whole house; so they have been using their
influence to persuade him to hear reason, and give up the connection.
Now his lordship feels deeply for the damsel, and yet he cannot
sacrifice his family for her sake. For the first time, he has become
alive to the folly of which he has been guilty, and, full of remorse,
he has commissioned me to devise some stratagem to break off the
affair. Of course, this has taken me by surprise; but as there is no
gainsaying the right of the case, I have had no option but to promise
obedience: this promise I have come to redeem; and now, pray, advise
your daughter to think no more of his lordship."

When Kihachi heard this he was surprised and distressed, and told O
Koyo immediately; and she, grieving over the sad news, took no thought
either of eating or drinking, but remained gloomy and desolate.

In the meanwhile, Chokichi went off to Genzaburô's house, and told him
that O Koyo had been taken suddenly ill, and could not go to meet him,
and begged him to wait patiently until she should send to tell him of
her recovery. Genzaburô, never suspecting the story to be false,
waited for thirty days, and still Chokichi brought him no tidings of O
Koyo. At last he met Chokichi, and besought him to arrange a meeting
for him with O Koyo.

"Sir," replied Chokichi, "she is not yet recovered; so it would be
difficult to bring her to see your honour. But I have been thinking
much about this affair, sir. If it becomes public, your honour's
family will be plunged in ruin. I pray you, sir, to forget all about O

"It's all very well for you to give me advice," answered Genzaburô,
surprised; "but, having once bound myself to O Koyo, it would be a
pitiful thing to desert her; I therefore implore you once more to
arrange that I may meet her."

However, he would not consent upon any account; so Genzaburô returned
home, and, from that time forth, daily entreated Chokichi to bring O
Koyo to him, and, receiving nothing but advice from him in return, was
very sad and lonely.

One day Genzaburô, intent on ridding himself of the grief he felt at
his separation from O Koyo, went to the Yoshiwara, and, going into a
house of entertainment, ordered a feast to be prepared, but, in the
midst of gaiety, his heart yearned all the while for his lost love,
and his merriment was but mourning in disguise. At last the night wore
on; and as he was retiring along the corridor, he saw a man of about
forty years of age, with long hair, coming towards him, who, when he
saw Genzaburô, cried out, "Dear me! why this must be my young lord
Genzaburô who has come out to enjoy himself."

Genzaburô thought this rather strange; but, looking at the man
attentively, recognized him as a retainer whom he had had in his
employ the year before, and said--

"This is a curious meeting: pray, what have you been about since you
left my service? At any rate, I may congratulate you on being well and
strong. Where are you living now?"

"Well, sir, since I parted from you I have been earning a living as a
fortune-teller at Kanda, and have changed my name to Kaji Sazen. I am
living in a poor and humble house; but if your lordship, at your
leisure, would honour me with a visit--"

"Well, it's a lucky chance that has brought us together, and I
certainly will go and see you; besides, I want you to do something for
me. Shall you be at home the day after to-morrow?"

"Certainly, sir, I shall make a point of being at home."

"Very well, then, the day after to-morrow I will go to your house."

"I shall be at your service, sir. And now, as it is getting late, I
will take my leave for to-night."

"Good night, then. We shall meet the day after to-morrow." And so the
two parted, and went their several ways to rest.

On the appointed day Genzaburô made his preparations, and went in
disguise, without any retainers, to call upon Sazen, who met him at
the porch of his house, and said, "This is a great honour! My lord
Genzaburô is indeed welcome. My house is very mean, but let me invite
your lordship to come into an inner chamber."

"Pray," replied Genzaburô, "don't make any ceremony for me. Don't put
yourself to any trouble on my account."

And so he passed in, and Sazen called to his wife to prepare wine and
condiments; and they began to feast. At last Genzaburô, looking Sazen
in the face, said, "There is a service which I want you to render
me--a very secret service; but as if you were to refuse me, I should
be put to shame, before I tell you what that service is, I must know
whether you are willing to assist me in anything that I may require of

"Yes; if it is anything that is within my power, I am at your

"Well, then," said Genzaburô, greatly pleased, and drawing ten riyos
from his bosom, "this is but a small present to make to you on my
first visit, but pray accept it."

"No, indeed! I don't know what your lordship wishes of me; but, at any
rate, I cannot receive this money. I really must beg your lordship to
take it back again."

But Genzaburô pressed it upon him by force, and at last he was obliged
to accept the money. Then Genzaburô told him the whole story of his
loves with O Koyo--how he had first met her and fallen in love with
her at the Adzuma Bridge; how Chokichi had introduced her to him at
the tea-house at Oji, and then when she fell ill, and he wanted to see
her again, instead of bringing her to him, had only given him good
advice; and so Genzaburô drew a lamentable picture of his state of

Sazen listened patiently to his story, and, after reflecting for a
while, replied, "Well, sir, it's not a difficult matter to set right:
and yet it will require some little management. However, if your
lordship will do me the honour of coming to see me again the day after
to-morrow, I will cast about me in the meanwhile, and will let you
know then the result of my deliberations."

When Genzaburô heard this he felt greatly relieved, and, recommending
Sazen to do his best in the matter, took his leave and returned home.
That very night Sazen, after thinking over all that Genzaburô had told
him, laid his plans accordingly, and went off to the house of Kihachi,
the Eta chief, and told him the commission with which he had been

Kihachi was of course greatly astonished, and said, "Some time ago,
sir, Chokichi came here and said that my lord Genzaburô, having been
rebuked by his family for his profligate behaviour, had determined to
break off his connection with my daughter. Of course I knew that the
daughter of an Eta was no fitting match for a nobleman; so when
Chokichi came and told me the errand upon which he had been sent, I
had no alternative but to announce to my daughter that she must give
up all thought of his lordship. Since that time she has been fretting
and pining and starving for love. But when I tell her what you have
just said, how glad and happy she will be! Let me go and talk to her
at once." And with these words, he went to O Koyo's room; and when he
looked upon her thin wasted face, and saw how sad she was, he felt
more and more pity for her, and said, "Well, O Koyo, are you in better
spirits to-day? Would you like something to eat?"

"Thank you, I have no appetite."

"Well, at any rate, I have some news for you that will make you happy.
A messenger has come from my lord Genzaburô, for whom your heart

At this O Koyo, who had been crouching down like a drooping flower,
gave a great start, and cried out, "Is that really true? Pray tell me
all about it as quickly as possible."

"The story which Chokichi came and told us, that his lordship wished
to break off the connection, was all an invention. He has all along
been wishing to meet you, and constantly urged Chokichi to bring you a
message from him. It is Chokichi who has been throwing obstacles in
the way. At last his lordship has secretly sent a man, called Kaji
Sazen, a fortune-teller, to arrange an interview between you. So now,
my child, you may cheer up, and go to meet your lover as soon as you

When O Koyo heard this, she was so happy that she thought it must all
be a dream, and doubted her own senses.

Kihachi in the meanwhile rejoined Sazen in the other room, and, after
telling him of the joy with which his daughter had heard the news, put
before him wine and other delicacies. "I think," said Sazen, "that the
best way would be for O Koyo to live secretly in my lord Genzaburô's
house; but as it will never do for all the world to know of it, it
must be managed very quietly; and further, when I get home, I must
think out some plan to lull the suspicions of that fellow Chokichi,
and let you know my idea by letter. Meanwhile O Koyo had better come
home with me to-night: although she is so terribly out of spirits now,
she shall meet Genzaburô the day after to-morrow."

Kihachi reported this to O Koyo; and as her pining for Genzaburô was
the only cause of her sickness, she recovered her spirits at once,
and, saying that she would go with Sazen immediately, joyfully made
her preparations. Then Sazen, having once more warned Kihachi to keep
the matter secret from Chokichi, and to act upon the letter which he
should send him, returned home, taking with him O Koyo; and after O
Koyo had bathed and dressed her hair, and painted herself and put on
beautiful clothes, she came out looking so lovely that no princess in
the land could vie with her; and Sazen, when he saw her, said to
himself that it was no wonder that Genzaburô had fallen in love with
her; then, as it was getting late, he advised her to go to rest, and,
after showing her to her apartments, went to his own room and wrote
his letter to Kihachi, containing the scheme which he had devised.
When Kihachi received his instructions, he was filled with admiration
at Sazen's ingenuity, and, putting on an appearance of great alarm and
agitation, went off immediately to call on Chokichi, and said to him--

"Oh, Master Chokichi, such a terrible thing has happened! Pray, let me
tell you all about it."

"Indeed! what can it be?"

"Oh! sir," answered Kihachi, pretending to wipe away his tears, "my
daughter O Koyo, mourning over her separation from my lord Genzaburô,
at first refused all sustenance, and remained nursing her sorrows
until, last night, her woman's heart failing to bear up against her
great grief, she drowned herself in the river, leaving behind her a
paper on which she had written her intention."

When Chokichi heard this, he was thunderstruck, and exclaimed, "Can
this really be true! And when I think that it was I who first
introduced her to my lord, I am ashamed to look you in the face."

"Oh, say not so: misfortunes are the punishment due for our misdeeds
in a former state of existence. I bear you no ill-will. This money
which I hold in my hand was my daughter's; and in her last
instructions she wrote to beg that it might be given, after her death,
to you, through whose intervention she became allied with a nobleman:
so please accept it as my daughter's legacy to you;" and as he spoke,
he offered him three riyos.

"You amaze me!" replied the other. "How could I, above all men, who
have so much to reproach myself with in my conduct towards you, accept
this money?"

"Nay; it was my dead daughter's wish. But since you reproach yourself
in the matter when you think of her, I will beg you to put up a prayer
and to cause masses to be said for her."

At last, Chokichi, after much persuasion, and greatly to his own
distress, was obliged to accept the money; and when Kihachi had
carried out all Sazen's instructions, he returned home, laughing in
his sleeve.

Chokichi was sorely grieved to hear of O Koyo's death, and remained
thinking over the sad news; when all of a sudden looking about him,
he saw something like a letter lying on the spot where Kihachi had
been sitting, so he picked it up and read it; and, as luck would have
it, it was the very letter which contained Sazen's instructions to
Kihachi, and in which the whole story which had just affected him so
much was made up. When he perceived the trick that had been played
upon him, he was very angry, and exclaimed, "To think that I should
have been so hoaxed by that hateful old dotard, and such a fellow as
Sazen! And Genzaburô, too!--out of gratitude for the favours which I
had received from him in old days, I faithfully gave him good advice,
and all in vain. Well, they've gulled me once; but I'll be even with
them yet, and hinder their game before it is played out!" And so he
worked himself up into a fury, and went off secretly to prowl about
Sazen's house to watch for O Koyo, determined to pay off Genzaburô and
Sazen for their conduct to him.

In the meanwhile Sazen, who did not for a moment suspect what had
happened, when the day which had been fixed upon by him and Genzaburô
arrived, made O Koyo put on her best clothes, smartened up his house,
and got ready a feast against Genzaburô's arrival. The latter came
punctually to his time, and, going in at once, said to the
fortune-teller, "Well, have you succeeded in the commission with which
I entrusted you?"

At first Sazen pretended to be vexed at the question, and said, "Well,
sir, I've done my best; but it's not a matter which can be settled in
a hurry. However, there's a young lady of high birth and wonderful
beauty upstairs, who has come here secretly to have her fortune told;
and if your lordship would like to come with me and see her, you can
do so."

But Genzaburô, when he heard that he was not to meet O Koyo, lost
heart entirely, and made up his mind to go home again. Sazen, however,
pressed him so eagerly, that at last he went upstairs to see this
vaunted beauty; and Sazen, drawing aside a screen, showed him O Koyo,
who was sitting there. Genzaburô gave a great start, and, turning to
Sazen, said, "Well, you certainly are a first-rate hand at keeping up
a hoax. However, I cannot sufficiently praise the way in which you
have carried out my instructions."

"Pray, don't mention it, sir. But as it is a long time since you have
met the young lady, you must have a great deal to say to one another;
so I will go downstairs, and, if you want anything, pray call me." And
so he went downstairs and left them.

Then Genzaburô, addressing O Koyo, said, "Ah! it is indeed a long time
since we met. How happy it makes me to see you again! Why, your face
has grown quite thin. Poor thing! have you been unhappy?" And O Koyo,
with the tears starting from her eyes for joy, hid her face; and her
heart was so full that she could not speak. But Genzaburô, passing his
hand gently over her head and back, and comforting her, said, "Come,
sweetheart, there is no need to sob so. Talk to me a little, and let
me hear your voice."

At last O Koyo raised her head and said, "Ah! when I was separated
from you by the tricks of Chokichi, and thought that I should never
meet you again, how tenderly I thought of you! I thought I should have
died, and waited for my hour to come, pining all the while for you.
And when at last, as I lay between life and death, Sazen came with a
message from you, I thought it was all a dream." And as she spoke, she
bent her head and sobbed again; and in Genzaburô's eyes she seemed
more beautiful than ever, with her pale, delicate face; and he loved
her better than before. Then she said, "If I were to tell you all I
have suffered until to-day, I should never stop."

"Yes," replied Genzaburô, "I too have suffered much;" and so they told
one another their mutual griefs, and from that day forth they
constantly met at Sazen's house.

One day, as they were feasting and enjoying themselves in an upper
storey in Sazen's house, Chokichi came to the house and said, "I beg
pardon; but does one Master Sazen live here?"

"Certainly, sir: I am Sazen, at your service. Pray where are you

"Well, sir, I have a little business to transact with you. May I make
so bold as to go in?" And with these words, he entered the house.

"But who and what are you?" said Sazen.

"Sir, I am an Eta; and my name is Chokichi. I beg to bespeak your
goodwill for myself: I hope we may be friends."

Sazen was not a little taken aback at this; however, he put on an
innocent face, as though he had never heard of Chokichi before, and
said, "I never heard of such a thing! Why, I thought you were some
respectable person; and you have the impudence to tell me that your
name is Chokichi, and that you're one of those accursed Etas. To think
of such a shameless villain coming and asking to be friends with me,
forsooth! Get you gone!--the quicker, the better: your presence
pollutes the house."

Chokichi smiled contemptuously, as he answered, "So you deem the
presence of an Eta in your house a pollution--eh? Why, I thought you
must be one of us."

"Insolent knave! Begone as fast as possible."

"Well, since you say that I defile your house, you had better get rid
of O Koyo as well. I suppose she must equally be a pollution to it."

This put Sazen rather in a dilemma; however, he made up his mind not
to show any hesitation, and said, "What are you talking about? There
is no O Koyo here; and I never saw such a person in my life."

Chokichi quietly drew out of the bosom of his dress the letter from
Sazen to Kihachi, which he had picked up a few days before, and,
showing it to Sazen, replied, "If you wish to dispute the genuineness
of this paper, I will report the whole matter to the Governor of Yedo;
and Genzaburô's family will be ruined, and the rest of you who are
parties in this affair will come in for your share of trouble. Just
wait a little."

And as he pretended to leave the house, Sazen, at his wits' end, cried
out, "Stop! stop! I want to speak to you. Pray, stop and listen
quietly. It is quite true, as you said, that O Koyo is in my house;
and really your indignation is perfectly just. Come! let us talk over
matters a little. Now you yourself were originally a respectable man;
and although you have fallen in life, there is no reason why your
disgrace should last for ever. All that you want in order to enable
you to escape out of this fraternity of Etas is a little money. Why
should you not get this from Genzaburô, who is very anxious to keep
his intrigue with O Koyo secret?"

Chokichi laughed disdainfully. "I am ready to talk with you; but I
don't want any money. All I want is to report the affair to the
authorities, in order that I may be revenged for the fraud that was
put upon me."

"Won't you accept twenty-five riyos?"

"Twenty-five riyos! No, indeed! I will not take a fraction less than a
hundred; and if I cannot get them I will report the whole matter at

Sazen, after a moment's consideration, hit upon a scheme, and
answered, smiling, "Well, Master Chokichi, you're a fine fellow, and I
admire your spirit. You shall have the hundred riyos you ask for; but,
as I have not so much money by me at present, I will go to Genzaburô's
house and fetch it. It's getting dark now, but it's not very late; so
I'll trouble you to come with me, and then I can give you the money

Chokichi consenting to this, the pair left the house together.

Now Sazen, who as a Rônin wore a long dirk in his girdle, kept looking
out for a moment when Chokichi should be off his guard, in order to
kill him; but Chokichi kept his eyes open, and did not give Sazen a
chance. At last Chokichi, as ill-luck would have it, stumbled against
a stone and fell; and Sazen, profiting by the chance, drew his dirk
and stabbed him in the side; and as Chokichi, taken by surprise, tried
to get up, he cut him severely over the head, until at last he fell
dead. Sazen then looking around him, and seeing, to his great delight,
that there was no one near, returned home. The following day,
Chokichi's body was found by the police; and when they examined it,
they found nothing upon it save a paper, which they read, and which
proved to be the very letter which Sazen had sent to Kihachi, and
which Chokichi had picked up. The matter was immediately reported to
the governor, and, Sazen having been summoned, an investigation was
held. Sazen, cunning and bold murderer as he was, lost his
self-possession when he saw what a fool he had been not to get back
from Chokichi the letter which he had written, and, when he was put to
a rigid examination under torture, confessed that he had hidden O
Koyo at Genzaburô's instigation, and then killed Chokichi, who had
found out the secret. Upon this the governor, after consulting about
Genzaburô's case, decided that, as he had disgraced his position as a
Hatamoto by contracting an alliance with the daughter of an Eta, his
property should be confiscated, his family blotted out, and himself
banished. As for Kihachi, the Eta chief, and his daughter O Koyo, they
were handed over for punishment to the chief of the Etas, and by him
they too were banished; while Sazen, against whom the murder of
Chokichi had been fully proved, was executed according to law.


At Asakusa, in Yedo, there lives a man called Danzayémon, the chief of
the Etas. This man traces his pedigree back to Minamoto no Yoritomo,
who founded the Shogunate in the year A.D. 1192. The whole of the Etas
in Japan are under his jurisdiction; his subordinates are called
Koyagashira, or "chiefs of the huts"; and he and they constitute the
government of the Etas. In the "Legacy of Iyéyasu," already quoted,
the 36th Law provides as follows:--"All wandering mendicants, such as
male sorcerers, female diviners, hermits, blind people, beggars, and
tanners (Etas), have had from of old their respective rulers. Be not
disinclined, however, to punish any such who give rise to disputes, or
who overstep the boundaries of their own classes and are disobedient
to existing laws."

The occupation of the Etas is to kill and flay horses, oxen, and other
beasts, to stretch drums and make shoes; and if they are very poor,
they wander from house to house, working as cobblers, mending old
shoes and leather, and so earn a scanty livelihood. Besides this,
their daughters and young married women gain a trifle as wandering
minstrels, called Torioi, playing on the _shamisen_, a sort of banjo,
and singing ballads. They never marry out of their own fraternity, but
remain apart, a despised and shunned race.

At executions by crucifixion it is the duty of the Etas to transfix
the victims with spears; and, besides this, they have to perform all
sorts of degrading offices about criminals, such as carrying sick
prisoners from their cells to the hall of justice, and burying the
bodies of those that have been executed. Thus their race is polluted
and accursed, and they are hated accordingly.

Now this is how the Etas came to be under the jurisdiction of

When Minamoto no Yoritomo was yet a child, his father, Minamoto no
Yoshitomo, fought with Taira no Kiyomori, and was killed by treachery:
so his family was ruined; and Yoshitomo's concubine, whose name was
Tokiwa, took her children and fled from the house, to save her own and
their lives. But Kiyomori, desiring to destroy the family of Yoshitomo
root and branch, ordered his retainers to divide themselves into
bands, and seek out the children. At last they were found; but Tokiwa
was so exceedingly beautiful that Kiyomori was inflamed with love for
her, and desired her to become his own concubine. Then Tokiwa told
Kiyomori that if he would spare her little ones she would share his
couch; but that if he killed her children she would destroy herself
rather than yield to his desire. When he heard this, Kiyomori,
bewildered by the beauty of Tokiwa, spared the lives of her children,
but banished them from the capital.

So Yoritomo was sent to Hirugakojima, in the province of Idzu; and
when he grew up and became a man, he married the daughter of a
peasant. After a while Yoritomo left the province, and went to the
wars, leaving his wife pregnant; and in due time she was delivered of
a male child, to the delight of her parents, who rejoiced that their
daughter should bear seed to a nobleman; but she soon fell sick and
died, and the old people took charge of the babe. And when they also
died, the care of the child fell to his mother's kinsmen, and he grew
up to be a peasant.

Now Kiyomori, the enemy of Yoritomo, had been gathered to his fathers;
and Yoritomo had avenged the death of his father by slaying Munémori,
the son of Kiyomori; and there was peace throughout the land. And
Yoritomo became the chief of all the noble houses in Japan, and first
established the government of the country. When Yoritomo had thus
raised himself to power, if the son that his peasant wife had born to
him had proclaimed himself the son of the mighty prince, he would have
been made lord over a province; but he took no thought of this, and
remained a tiller of the earth, forfeiting a glorious inheritance; and
his descendants after him lived as peasants in the same village,
increasing in prosperity and in good repute among their neighbours.

But the princely line of Yoritomo came to an end in three generations,
and the house of Hôjô was all-powerful in the land.

Now it happened that the head of the house of Hôjô heard that a
descendant of Yoritomo was living as a peasant in the land, so he
summoned him and said:--

"It is a hard thing to see the son of an illustrious house live and
die a peasant. I will promote you to the rank of Samurai."

Then the peasant answered, "My lord, if I become a Samurai, and the
retainer of some noble, I shall not be so happy as when I was my own
master. If I may not remain a husbandman, let me be a chief over men,
however humble they may be."

But my lord Hôjô was angry at this, and, thinking to punish the
peasant for his insolence, said:--

"Since you wish to become a chief over men, no matter how humble,
there is no means of gratifying your strange wish but by making you
chief over the Etas of the whole country. So now see that you rule
them well."

When he heard this, the peasant was afraid; but because he had said
that he wished to become a chief over men, however humble, he could
not choose but become chief of the Etas, he and his children after him
for ever; and Danzayémon, who rules the Etas at the present time, and
lives at Asakusa, is his lineal descendant.



I think that their quaintness is a sufficient apology for the
following little children's stories. With the exception of that of the
"Elves and the Envious Neighbour," which comes out of a curious book
on etymology and proverbial lore, called the Kotowazagusa, these
stories are found printed in little separate pamphlets, with
illustrations, the stereotype blocks of which have become so worn that
the print is hardly legible. These are the first tales which are put
into a Japanese child's hands; and it is with these, and such as
these, that the Japanese mother hushes her little ones to sleep.
Knowing the interest which many children of a larger growth take in
such Baby Stories, I was anxious to have collected more of them. I was
disappointed, however, for those which I give here are the only ones
which I could find in print; and if I asked the Japanese to tell me
others, they only thought I was laughing at them, and changed the
subject. The stories of the Tongue-cut Sparrow, and the Old Couple and
their Dog, have been paraphrased in other works upon Japan; but I am
not aware of their having been literally translated before.


Once upon a time there lived an old man and an old woman. The old man,
who had a kind heart, kept a young sparrow, which he tenderly
nurtured. But the dame was a cross-grained old thing; and one day,
when the sparrow had pecked at some paste with which she was going to
starch her linen, she flew into a great rage, and cut the sparrow's
tongue and let it loose. When the old man came home from the hills and
found that the bird had flown, he asked what had become of it; so the
old woman answered that she had cut its tongue and let it go, because
it had stolen her starching-paste. Now the old man, hearing this cruel
tale, was sorely grieved, and thought to himself, "Alas! where can my
bird be gone? Poor thing! Poor little tongue-cut sparrow! where is
your home now?" and he wandered far and wide, seeking for his pet, and
crying, "Mr. Sparrow! Mr. Sparrow! where are you living?"

One day, at the foot of a certain mountain, the old man fell in with
the lost bird; and when they had congratulated one another on their
mutual safety, the sparrow led the old man to his home, and, having
introduced him to his wife and chicks, set before him all sorts of
dainties, and entertained him hospitably.

"Please partake of our humble fare," said the sparrow; "poor as it is,
you are very welcome."

"What a polite sparrow!" answered the old man, who remained for a long
time as the sparrow's guest, and was daily feasted right royally. At
last the old man said that he must take his leave and return home; and
the bird, offering him two wicker baskets, begged him to carry them
with him as a parting present. One of the baskets was heavy, and the
other was light; so the old man, saying that as he was feeble and
stricken in years he would only accept the light one, shouldered it,
and trudged off home, leaving the sparrow-family disconsolate at
parting from him.

When the old man got home, the dame grew very angry, and began to
scold him, saying, "Well, and pray where have you been this many a
day? A pretty thing, indeed, to be gadding about at your time of

"Oh!" replied he, "I have been on a visit to the sparrows; and when I
came away, they gave me this wicker basket as a parting gift." Then
they opened the basket to see what was inside, and, lo and behold! it
was full of gold and silver and precious things. When the old woman,
who was as greedy as she was cross, saw all the riches displayed
before her, she changed her scolding strain, and could not contain
herself for joy.


"I'll go and call upon the sparrows, too," said she, "and get a pretty
present." So she asked the old man the way to the sparrows' house, and
set forth on her journey. Following his directions, she at last met
the tongue-cut sparrow, and exclaimed--

"Well met! well met! Mr. Sparrow. I have been looking forward to the
pleasure of seeing you." So she tried to flatter and cajole the
sparrow by soft speeches.

The bird could not but invite the dame to its home; but it took no
pains to feast her, and said nothing about a parting gift. She,
however, was not to be put off; so she asked for something to carry
away with her in remembrance of her visit. The sparrow accordingly
produced two baskets, as before, and the greedy old woman, choosing
the heavier of the two, carried it off with her. But when she opened
the basket to see what was inside, all sorts of hobgoblins and elves
sprang out of it, and began to torment her.

[Illustration: THE TONGUE-CUT SPARROW. (2)]

But the old man adopted a son, and his family grew rich and
prosperous. What a happy old man!


A long time ago, at a temple called Morinji, in the province of
Jôshiu, there was an old tea-kettle. One day, when the priest of the
temple was about to hang it over the hearth to boil the water for his
tea, to his amazement, the kettle all of a sudden put forth the head
and tail of a badger. What a wonderful kettle, to come out all over
fur! The priest, thunderstruck, called in the novices of the temple to
see the sight; and whilst they were stupidly staring, one suggesting
one thing and another, the kettle, jumping up into the air, began
flying about the room. More astonished than ever, the priest and his
pupils tried to pursue it; but no thief or cat was ever half so sharp
as this wonderful badger-kettle. At last, however, they managed to
knock it down and secure it; and, holding it in with their united
efforts, they forced it into a box, intending to carry it off and
throw it away in some distant place, so that they might be no more
plagued by the goblin. For this day their troubles were over; but, as
luck would have it, the tinker who was in the habit of working for the
temple called in, and the priest suddenly bethought him that it was a
pity to throw the kettle away for nothing, and that he might as well
get a trifle for it, no matter how small. So he brought out the
kettle, which had resumed its former shape and had got rid of its head
and tail, and showed it to the tinker. When the tinker saw the kettle,
he offered twenty copper coins for it, and the priest was only too
glad to close the bargain and be rid of his troublesome piece of
furniture. But the tinker trudged off home with his pack and his new
purchase. That night, as he lay asleep, he heard a strange noise near
his pillow; so he peeped out from under the bedclothes, and there he
saw the kettle that he had bought in the temple covered with fur, and
walking about on four legs. The tinker started up in a fright to see
what it could all mean, when all of a sudden the kettle resumed its
former shape. This happened over and over again, until at last the
tinker showed the tea-kettle to a friend of his, who said, "This is
certainly an accomplished and lucky tea-kettle. You should take it
about as a show, with songs and accompaniments of musical instruments,
and make it dance and walk on the tight rope."


The tinker, thinking this good advice, made arrangements with a
showman, and set up an exhibition. The noise of the kettle's
performances soon spread abroad, until even the princes of the land
sent to order the tinker to come to them; and he grew rich beyond
all his expectations. Even the princesses, too, and the great ladies
of the court, took great delight in the dancing kettle, so that no
sooner had it shown its tricks in one place than it was time for them
to keep some other engagement. At last the tinker grew so rich that he
took the kettle back to the temple, where it was laid up as a precious
treasure, and worshipped as a saint.



Once upon a time there lived an old man and an old woman, who kept a
pet white hare, by which they set great store. One day, a badger, that
lived hard by, came and ate up the food which had been put out for the
hare; so the old man, flying into a great rage, seized the badger,
and, tying the beast up to a tree, went off to the mountain to cut
wood, while the old woman stopped at home and ground the wheat for the
evening porridge. Then the badger, with tears in his eyes, said to the
old woman--

"Please, dame, please untie this rope!"

The dame, thinking that it was a cruel thing to see a poor beast in
pain, undid the rope; but the ungrateful brute was no sooner loose,
than he cried out--

"I'll be revenged for this," and was off in a trice.

When the hare heard this, he went off to the mountain to warn the old
man; and whilst the hare was away on this errand, the badger came
back, and killed the dame. Then the beast, having assumed the old
woman's form, made her dead body into broth, and waited for the old
man to come home from the mountain. When he returned, tired and
hungry, the pretended old woman said--

"Come, come; I've made such a nice broth of the badger you hung up.
Sit down, and make a good supper of it."

With these words she set out the broth, and the old man made a hearty
meal, licking his lips over it, and praising the savoury mess. But as
soon as he had finished eating, the badger, reassuming its natural
shape, cried out--

"Nasty old man! you've eaten your own wife. Look at her bones, lying
in the kitchen sink!" and, laughing contemptuously, the badger ran
away, and disappeared.

Then the old man, horrified at what he had done, set up a great
lamentation; and whilst he was bewailing his fate, the hare came home,
and, seeing how matters stood, determined to avenge the death of his
mistress. So he went back to the mountain, and, falling in with the
badger, who was carrying a faggot of sticks on his back, he struck a
light and set fire to the sticks, without letting the badger see him.
When the badger heard the crackling noise of the faggot burning on his
back, he called out--

"Holloa! what is that noise?"

"Oh!" answered the hare, "this is called the Crackling Mountain.
There's always this noise here."

And as the fire gathered strength, and went pop! pop! pop! the badger
said again--

"Oh dear! what can this noise be?"

"This is called the 'Pop! Pop! Mountain,'" answered the hare.

[Illustration: THE HARE AND THE BADGER.]

All at once the fire began to singe the badger's back, so that he
fled, howling with pain, and jumped into a river hard by. But,
although the water put out the fire, his back was burnt as black as a
cinder. The hare, seeing an opportunity for torturing the badger to
his heart's content, made a poultice of cayenne pepper, which he
carried to the badger's house, and, pretending to condole with him,
and to have a sovereign remedy for burns, he applied his hot plaister
to his enemy's sore back. Oh! how it smarted and pained! and how the
badger yelled and cried!

[Illustration: THE HARE AND THE BADGER. (2)]

When, at last, the badger got well again, he went to the hare's house,
thinking to reproach him for having caused him so much pain. When he
got there, he found that the hare had built himself a boat.

"What have you built that boat for, Mr. Hare?" said the badger.

"I'm going to the capital of the moon,"[52] answered the hare; "won't
you come with me?"

[Footnote 52: The mountains in the moon are supposed to resemble a
hare in shape. Hence there is a fanciful connection between the hare
and the moon.]

"I had enough of your company on the Crackling Mountain, where you
played me such tricks. I'd rather make a boat for myself," replied the
badger, who immediately began building himself a boat of clay.

The hare, seeing this, laughed in his sleeve; and so the two launched
their boats upon the river. The waves came plashing against the two
boats; but the hare's boat was built of wood, while that of the badger
was made of clay, and, as they rowed down the river, the clay boat
began to crumble away; then the hare, seizing his paddle, and
brandishing it in the air, struck savagely at the badger's boat, until
he had smashed it to pieces, and killed his enemy.

When the old man heard that his wife's death had been avenged, he was
glad in his heart, and more than ever petted and loved the hare, whose
brave deeds had caused him to welcome the returning spring.


In the old, old days, there lived an honest man with his wife, who had
a favourite dog, which they used to feed with fish and titbits from
their own kitchen. One day, as the old folks went out to work in their
garden, the dog went with them, and began playing about. All of a
sudden, the dog stopped short, and began to bark, "Bow, wow, wow!"
wagging his tail violently. The old people thought that there must be
something nice to eat under the ground, so they brought a spade and
began digging, when, lo and behold! the place was full of gold pieces
and silver, and all sorts of precious things, which had been buried
there. So they gathered the treasure together, and, after giving alms
to the poor, bought themselves rice-fields and corn-fields, and became
wealthy people.

Now, in the next house there dwelt a covetous and stingy old man and
woman, who, when they heard what had happened, came and borrowed the
dog, and, having taken him home, prepared a great feast for him, and

"If you please, Mr. Dog, we should be much obliged to you if you would
show us a place with plenty of money in it."

The dog, however, who up to that time had received nothing but cuffs
and kicks from his hosts, would not eat any of the dainties which they
set before him; so the old people began to get cross, and, putting a
rope round the dog's neck, led him out into the garden. But it was all
in vain; let them lead him where they might, not a sound would the dog
utter: he had no "bow-wow" for them. At last, however, the dog stopped
at a certain spot, and began to sniff; so, thinking that this must
surely be the lucky place, they dug, and found nothing but a quantity
of dirt and nasty offal, over which they had to hold their noses.
Furious at being disappointed, the wicked old couple seized the dog,
and killed him.

When the good old man saw that the dog, whom he had lent, did not come
home, he went next door to ask what had become of him; and the wicked
old man answered that he had killed the dog, and buried him at the
root of a pine-tree; so the good old fellow, with, a heavy heart, went
to the spot, and, having set out a tray with delicate food, burnt
incense, and adorned the grave with flowers, as he shed tears over his
lost pet.

But there was more good luck in store yet for the old people--the
reward of their honesty and virtue. How do you think that happened,
my children? It is very wrong to be cruel to dogs and cats.


That night, when the good old man was fast asleep in bed, the dog
appeared to him, and, after thanking him for all his kindness, said--

"Cause the pine-tree, under which, I am buried, to be cut down and
made into a mortar, and use it, thinking of it as if it were myself."

The old man did as the dog had told him to do, and made a mortar out
of the wood of the pine-tree; but when he ground his rice in it, each
grain of rice was turned into some rich treasure. When the wicked old
couple saw this, they came to borrow the mortar; but no sooner did
they try to use it, than all their rice was turned into filth; so, in
a fit of rage, they broke up the mortar and burnt it. But the good old
man, little suspecting that his precious mortar had been broken and
burnt, wondered why his neighbours did not bring it back to him.


One night the dog appeared to him again in a dream, and told him what
had happened, adding that if he would take the ashes of the burnt
mortar and sprinkle them on withered trees, the trees would revive,
and suddenly put out flowers. After saying this the dream vanished,
and the old man, who heard for the first time of the loss of his
mortar, ran off weeping to the neighbours' house, and begged them, at
any rate, to give him back the ashes of his treasure. Having obtained
these, he returned home, and made a trial of their virtues upon a
withered cherry-tree, which, upon being touched by the ashes,
immediately began to sprout and blossom. When he saw this wonderful
effect, he put the ashes into a basket, and went about the country,
announcing himself as an old man who had the power of bringing dead
trees to life again.

A certain prince, hearing of this, and thinking it a mighty strange
thing, sent for the old fellow, who showed his power by causing all
the withered plum and cherry-trees to shoot out and put forth flowers.
So the prince gave him a rich reward of pieces of silk and cloth and
other presents, and sent him home rejoicing.

So soon as the neighbours heard of this they collected all the ashes
that remained, and, having put them in a basket, the wicked old man
went out into the castle town, and gave out that he was the old man
who had the power of reviving dead trees, and causing them to flower.
He had not to wait long before he was called into the prince's palace,
and ordered to exhibit his power. But when he climbed up into a
withered tree, and began to scatter the ashes, not a bud nor a flower
appeared; but the ashes all flew into the prince's eyes and mouth,
blinding and choking him. When the prince's retainers saw this, they
seized the old man, and beat him almost to death, so that he crawled
off home in a very sorry plight. When he and his wife found out what a
trap they had fallen into, they stormed and scolded and put
themselves into a passion; but that did no good at all.

The good old man and woman, so soon as they heard of their neighbours'
distress, sent for them, and, after reproving them for their greed and
cruelty, gave them a share of their own riches, which, by repeated
strokes of luck, had now increased to a goodly sum. So the wicked old
people mended their ways, and led good and virtuous lives ever after.


If a man thinks only of his own profit, and tries to benefit himself
at the expense of others, he will incur the hatred of Heaven. Men
should lay up in their hearts the story of the Battle of the Ape and
Crab, and teach it, as a profitable lesson, to their children.

Once upon a time there was a crab who lived in a marsh in a certain
part of the country. It fell out one day that, the crab having picked
up a rice cake, an ape, who had got a nasty hard persimmon-seed, came
up, and begged the crab to make an exchange with him. The crab, who
was a simple-minded creature, agreed to this proposal; and they each
went their way, the ape chuckling to himself at the good bargain which
he had made.

When the crab got home, he planted the persimmon-seed in his garden,
and, as time slipped by, it sprouted, and by degrees grew to be a big
tree. The crab watched the growth of his tree with great delight; but
when the fruit ripened, and he was going to pluck it, the ape came in,
and offered to gather it for him. The crab consenting, the ape climbed
up into the tree, and began eating all the ripe fruit himself, while
he only threw down the sour persimmons to the crab, inviting him, at
the same time, to eat heartily. The crab, however, was not pleased at
this arrangement, and thought that it was his turn to play a trick
upon the ape; so he called out to him to come down head foremost. The
ape did as he was bid; and as he crawled down, head foremost, the ripe
fruit all came tumbling out of his pockets, and the crab, having
picked up the persimmons, ran off and hid himself in a hole. The ape,
seeing this, lay in ambush, and as soon as the crab crept out of his
hiding-place gave him a sound drubbing, and went home. Just at this
time a friendly egg and a bee, who were the apprentices of a certain
rice-mortar, happened to pass that way, and, seeing the crab's piteous
condition, tied up his wounds, and, having escorted him home, began to
lay plans to be revenged upon the cruel ape.

[Illustration: THE APE AND THE CRAB.]

Having agreed upon a scheme, they all went to the ape's house, in his
absence; and each one having undertaken to play a certain part, they
waited in secret for their enemy to come home. The ape, little
dreaming of the mischief that was brewing, returned home, and, having
a fancy to drink a cup of tea, began lighting the fire in the hearth,
when, all of a sudden, the egg, which was hidden in the ashes, burst
with. the heat, and bespattered the frightened ape's face, so that he
fled, howling with pain, and crying, "Oh! what an unlucky beast I am!"
Maddened with the heat of the burst egg, he tried to go to the back of
the house, when the bee darted out of a cupboard, and a piece of
seaweed, who had joined the party, coming up at the same time, the ape
was surrounded by enemies. In despair, he seized the clothes-rack, and
fought valiantly for awhile; but he was no match for so many, and was
obliged to run away, with the others in hot pursuit after him. Just as
he was making his escape by a back door, however, the piece of seaweed
tripped him up, and the rice-mortar, closing with him from behind,
made an end of him.

[Illustration: THE APE AND THE CRAB. (2)]

So the crab, having punished his enemy, went home in triumph, and
lived ever after on terms of brotherly love with the seaweed and the
mortar. Was there ever such a fine piece of fun!


Many hundred years ago there lived an honest old wood-cutter and his
wife. One fine morning the old man went off to the hills with his
billhook, to gather a faggot of sticks, while his wife went down to
the river to wash the dirty clothes. When she came to the river, she
saw a peach floating down the stream; so she picked it up, and carried
it home with her, thinking to give it to her husband to eat when he
should come in. The old man soon came down from the hills, and the
good wife set the peach before him, when, just as she was inviting him
to eat it, the fruit split in two, and a little puling baby was born
into the world. So the old couple took the babe, and brought it up as
their own; and, because it had been born in a peach, they called it
_Momotarô_,[53] or Little Peachling.

[Footnote 53: _Momo_ means a peach, and _Tarô_ is the termination of
the names of eldest sons, as _Hikotarô_, _Tokutarô_, &c. In modern
times, however, the termination has been applied indifferently to any
male child.]

By degrees Little Peachling grew up to be strong and brave, and at
last one day he said to his old foster-parents--

"I am going to the ogres' island to carry off the riches that they
have stored up there. Pray, then, make me some millet dumplings for my

So the old folks ground the millet, and made the dumplings for him;
and Little Peachling, after taking an affectionate leave of them,
cheerfully set out on his travels.

As he was journeying on, he fell in with an ape, who gibbered at him,
and said, "Kia! kia! kia! where are you off to, Little Peachling?"

"I'm going to the ogres' island, to carry off their treasure,"
answered Little Peachling.

"What are you carrying at your girdle?"

"I'm carrying the very best millet dumplings in all Japan."

"If you'll give me one, I will go with you," said the ape.

So Little Peachling gave one of his dumplings to the ape, who received
it and followed him. When he had gone a little further, he heard a
pheasant calling--

"Ken! ken! ken![54] where are you off to, Master Peachling?"

[Footnote 54: The country folk in Japan pretend that the pheasant's
call is a sign of an approaching earthquake.]

Little Peachling answered as before; and the pheasant, having begged
and obtained a millet dumpling, entered his service, and followed him.
A little while after this, they met a dog, who cried--

"Bow! wow! wow! whither away, Master Peachling?"

"I'm going off to the ogres' island, to carry off their treasure."

"If you will give me one of those nice millet dumplings of yours, I
will go with you," said the dog.

[Illustration: LITTLE PEACHLING.]

"With all my heart," said Little Peachling. So he went on his way,
with the ape, the pheasant, and the dog following after him.

When they got to the ogres' island, the pheasant flew over the castle
gate, and the ape clambered over the castle wall, while Little
Peachling, leading the dog, forced in the gate, and got into the
castle. Then they did battle with the ogres, and put them to flight,
and took their king prisoner. So all the ogres did homage to Little
Peachling, and brought out the treasures which they had laid up. There
were caps and coats that made their wearers invisible, jewels which
governed the ebb and flow of the tide, coral, musk, emeralds, amber,
and tortoiseshell, besides gold and silver. All these were laid before
Little Peachling by the conquered ogres.

[Illustration: LITTLE PEACHLING. (2)]

So Little Peachling went home laden with riches, and maintained his
foster-parents in peace and plenty for the remainder of their lives.


Once upon a time there was a young white fox, whose name was
Fukuyémon. When he had reached the fitting age, he shaved off his
forelock[55] and began to think of taking to himself a beautiful
bride. The old fox, his father, resolved to give up his inheritance to
his son,[56] and retired into private life; so the young fox, in
gratitude for this, laboured hard and earnestly to increase his
patrimony. Now it happened that in a famous old family of foxes there
was a beautiful young lady-fox, with such lovely fur that the fame of
her jewel-like charms was spread far and wide. The young white fox,
who had heard of this, was bent on making her his wife, and a meeting
was arranged between them. There was not a fault to be found on either
side; so the preliminaries were settled, and the wedding presents sent
from the bridegroom to the bride's house, with congratulatory speeches
from the messenger, which were duly acknowledged by the person deputed
to receive the gifts; the bearers, of course, received the customary
fee in copper cash.

[Footnote 55: See the Appendix on "Ceremonies."]

[Footnote 56: See the note on the word Inkiyô, in the story of the
"Prince and the Badger."]

When the ceremonies had been concluded, an auspicious day was chosen
for the bride to go to her husband's house, and she was carried off in
solemn procession during a shower of rain, the sun shining all the
while.[57] After the ceremonies of drinking wine had been gone
through, the bride changed her dress, and the wedding was concluded,
without let or hindrance, amid singing and dancing and merry-making.

[Footnote 57: A shower during sunshine, which we call "the devil
beating his wife," is called in Japan "the fox's bride going to her
husband's house."]

The bride and bridegroom lived lovingly together, and a litter of
little foxes were born to them, to the great joy of the old grandsire,
who treated the little cubs as tenderly as if they had been
butterflies or flowers. "They're the very image of their old
grandfather," said he, as proud as possible. "As for medicine, bless
them, they're so healthy that they'll never need a copper coin's

As soon as they were old enough, they were carried off to the temple
of Inari Sama, the patron saint of foxes, and the old grand-parents
prayed that they might be delivered from dogs and all the other ills
to which fox flesh is heir.

[Illustration: THE FOXES' WEDDING.]

In this way the white fox by degrees waxed old and prosperous, and
his children, year by year, became more and more numerous around him;
so that, happy in his family and his business, every recurring spring
brought him fresh cause for joy. [Illustration: THE FOXES' WEDDING.


A long time ago there was an officer of the Emperor's body-guard,
called Sakata Kurando, a young man who, although he excelled in valour
and in the arts of war, was of a gentle and loving disposition. This
young officer was deeply enamoured of a fair young lady, called
Yaégiri, who lived at Gojôzaka, at Kiyôto. Now it came to pass that,
having incurred the jealousy of certain other persons, Kurando fell
into disgrace with the Court, and became a Rônin, so he was no longer
able to keep up any communication with his love Yaégiri; indeed, he
became so poor that it was a hard matter for him to live. So he left
the place and fled, no one knew whither. As for Yaégiri, lovesick and
lorn, and pining for her lost darling, she escaped from the house
where she lived, and wandered hither and thither through the country,
seeking everywhere for Kurando.

Now Kurando, when he left the palace, turned tobacco merchant, and, as
he was travelling about hawking his goods, it chanced that he fell in
with Yaégiri; so, having communicated to her his last wishes, he took
leave of her and put an end to his life.

Poor Yaégiri, having buried her lover, went to the Ashigara Mountain,
a distant and lonely spot, where she gave birth to a little boy, who,
as soon as he was born, was of such wonderful strength that he walked
about and ran playing all over the mountain. A woodcutter, who chanced
to see the marvel, was greatly frightened at first, and thought the
thing altogether uncanny; but after a while he got used to the child,
and became quite fond of him, and called him "Little Wonder," and gave
his mother the name of the "Old Woman of the Mountain."

One day, as "Little Wonder" was playing about, he saw that on the top
of a high cedar-tree there was a tengu's nest;[58] so he began shaking
the tree with all his might, until at last the tengu's nest came
tumbling down.

[Footnote 58: _Tengu_, or the Heavenly Dog, a hobgoblin who infests
desert places, and is invoked to frighten naughty little children.]

As luck would have it, the famous hero, Minamoto no Yorimitsu, with
his retainers, Watanabé Isuna, Usui Sadamitsu, and several others, had
come to the mountain to hunt, and seeing the feat which "Little
Wonder" had performed, came to the conclusion that he could be no
ordinary child. Minamoto no Yorimitsu ordered Watanabé Isuna to find
out the child's name and parentage. The Old Woman of the Mountain, on
being asked about him, answered that she was the wife of Kurando, and
that "Little Wonder" was the child of their marriage. And she
proceeded to relate all the adventures which had befallen her.

When Yorimitsu heard her story, he said, "Certainly this child does
not belie his lineage. Give the brat to me, and I will make him my
retainer." The Old Woman of the Mountain gladly consented, and gave
"Little Wonder" to Yorimitsu; but she herself remained in her mountain
home. So "Little Wonder" went off with the hero Yorimitsu, who named
him Sakata Kintoki; and in aftertimes he became famous and illustrious
as a warrior, and his deeds are recited to this day. He is the
favourite hero of little children, who carry his portrait in their
bosom, and wish that they could emulate his bravery and strength.


Once upon a time there was a certain man, who, being overtaken by
darkness among the mountains, was driven to seek shelter in the trunk
of a hollow tree. In the middle of the night, a large company of elves
assembled at the place; and the man, peeping out from his
hiding-place, was frightened out of his wits. After a while, however,
the elves began to feast and drink wine, and to amuse themselves by
singing and dancing, until at last the man, caught by the infection of
the fun, forgot all about his fright, and crept out of his hollow tree
to join in the revels. When the day was about to dawn, the elves said
to the man, "You're a very jolly companion, and must come out and have
a dance with us again. You must make us a promise, and keep it." So
the elves, thinking to bind the man over to return, took a large wen
that grew on his forehead and kept it in pawn; upon this they all left
the place, and went home. The man walked off to his own house in high
glee at having passed a jovial night, and got rid of his wen into the
bargain. So he told the story to all his friends, who congratulated
him warmly on being cured of his wen. But there was a neighbour of his
who was also troubled with a wen of long standing, and, when he heard
of his friend's luck, he was smitten with envy, and went off to hunt
for the hollow tree, in which, when he had found it, he passed the

Towards midnight the elves came, as he had expected, and began
feasting and drinking, with songs and dances as before. As soon as he
saw this, he came out of his hollow tree, and began dancing and
singing as his neighbour had done. The elves, mistaking him for their
former boon-companion, were delighted to see him, and said--

"You're a good fellow to recollect your promise, and we'll give you
back your pledge;" so one of the elves, pulling the pawned wen out of
his pocket, stuck it on to the man's forehead, on the top of the other
wen which he already bad. So the envious neighbour went home weeping,
with two wens instead of one. This is a good lesson to people who
cannot see the good luck of others, without coveting it for


The misfortunes and death of the farmer Sôgorô, which, although the
preternatural appearances by which they are said to have been followed
may raise a smile, are matters of historic notoriety with which every
Japanese is familiar, furnish a forcible illustration of the relations
which exist between the tenant and the lord of the soil, and of the
boundless power for good or for evil exercised by the latter. It is
rather remarkable that in a country where the peasant--placed as he is
next to the soldier, and before the artisan and merchant, in the four
classes into which the people are divided--enjoys no small
consideration, and where agriculture is protected by law from the
inroads of wild vegetation, even to the lopping of overshadowing
branches and the cutting down of hedgerow timber, the lord of the
manor should be left practically without control in his dealings with
his people.

The land-tax, or rather the yearly rent paid by the tenant, is usually
assessed at forty per cent. of the produce; but there is no principle
clearly defining it, and frequently the landowner and the cultivator
divide the proceeds of the harvest in equal shapes. Rice land is
divided into three classes; and, according to these classes, it is
computed that one _tan_ (1,800 square feet) of the best land should
yield to the owner a revenue of five bags of rice per annum; each of
these bags holds four tô (a tô is rather less than half an imperial
bushel), and is worth at present (1868) three riyos, or about sixteen
shillings; land of the middle class should yield a revenue of three or
four bags. The rent is paid either in rice or in money, according to
the actual price of the grain, which varies considerably. It is due in
the eleventh month of the year, when the crops have all been gathered,
and their market value fixed.

The rent of land bearing crops other than rice, such as cotton, beans,
roots, and so forth, is payable in money during the twelfth month. The
choice of the nature of the crops to be grown appears to be left to
the tenant.

The Japanese landlord, when pressed by poverty, does not confine
himself to the raising of his legitimate rents: he can always enforce
from his needy tenantry the advancement of a year's rent, or the loan
of so much money as may be required to meet his immediate necessities.
Should the lord be just, the peasant is repaid by instalments, with
interest, extending over ten or twenty years. But it too often happens
that unjust and merciless lords do not repay such loans, but, on the
contrary, press for further advances. Then it is that the farmers,
dressed in their grass rain-coats, and carrying sickles and bamboo
poles in their hands, assemble before the gate of their lord's palace
at the capital, and represent their grievances, imploring the
intercession of the retainers, and even of the womankind who may
chance to go forth. Sometimes they pay for their temerity by their
lives; but, at any rate, they have the satisfaction of bringing shame
upon their persecutor, in the eyes of his neighbours and of the


The official reports of recent travels in the interior of Japan have
fully proved the hard lot with which the peasantry had to put up
during the government of the Tycoons, and especially under the
Hatamotos, the created nobility of the dynasty. In one province, where
the village mayors appear to have seconded the extortions of their
lord, they have had to flee before an exasperated population, who,
taking advantage of the revolution, laid waste and pillaged their
houses, loudly praying for a new and just assessment of the land;
while, throughout the country, the farmers have hailed with
acclamations the resumption of the sovereign power by the Mikado, and
the abolition of the petty nobility who exalted themselves upon the
misery of their dependants. Warming themselves in the sunshine of the
court at Yedo, the Hatamotos waxed fat and held high revel, and
little cared they who groaned or who starved. Money must be found, and
it was found.

It is necessary here to add a word respecting the position of the
village mayors, who play so important a part in the tale.

The peasants of Japan are ruled by three classes of officials: the
Nanushi, or mayor; the Kumigashira, or chiefs of companies; and the
Hiyakushôdai, or farmers' representatives. The village, which is
governed by the Nanushi, or mayor, is divided into companies, which,
consisting of five families each, are directed by a Kumigashira; these
companies, again, are subdivided into groups of five men each, who
choose one of their number to represent them in case of their having
any petition to present, or any affairs to settle with their
superiors. This functionary is the Hiyakushôdai. The mayor, the chief
of the company, and the representative keep registers of the families
and people under their control, and are responsible for their good and
orderly behaviour. They pay taxes like the other farmers, but receive
a salary, the amount of which depends upon the size and wealth of the
village. Five per cent. of the yearly land tax forms the salary of the
mayor, and the other officials each receive five per cent. of the tax
paid by the little bodies over which they respectively rule.

The average amount of land for one family to cultivate is about one
chô, or 9,000 square yards; but there are farmers who have inherited
as much as five or even six chô from their ancestors. There is also a
class of farmers called, from their poverty, "water-drinking farmers,"
who have no land of their own, but hire that of those who have more
than they can keep in their own hands. The rent so paid varies; but
good rice land will bring in as high a rent as from £1 18s. to £2 6s.
per tan (1,800 square feet).

Farm labourers are paid from six or seven riyos a year to as much as
thirty riyos (the riyo being worth about 5s. 4d.); besides this, they
are clothed and fed, not daintily indeed, but amply. The rice which
they cultivate is to them an almost unknown luxury: millet is their
staple food, and on high days and holidays they receive messes of
barley or buckwheat. Where the mulberry-tree is grown, and the
silkworm is "educated," there the labourer receives the highest wage.

The rice crop on good land should yield twelve and a half fold, and on
ordinary land from six to seven fold only. Ordinary arable land is
only half as valuable as rice land, which cannot be purchased for less
than forty riyos per tan of 1,800 square feet. Common hill or wood
land is cheaper, again, than arable land; but orchards and groves of
the Pawlonia are worth from fifty to sixty riyos per tan.

With regard to the punishment of crucifixion, by which Sôgorô was put
to death, it is inflicted for the following offences:--parricide
(including the murder or striking of parents, uncles, aunts, elder
brothers, masters, or teachers) coining counterfeit money, and passing
the barriers of the Tycoon's territory without a permit.[59] The
criminal is attached to an upright post with two cross bars, to which
his arms and feet are fastened by ropes. He is then transfixed with
spears by men belonging to the Eta or Pariah class. I once passed the
execution-ground near Yedo, when a body was attached to the cross. The
dead man had murdered his employer, and, having been condemned to
death by crucifixion, had died in prison before the sentence could be
carried out. He was accordingly packed, in a squatting position, in a
huge red earthenware jar, which, having been tightly filled up with.
salt, was hermetically sealed. On the anniversary of the commission of
the crime, the jar was carried down to the execution-ground and
broken, and the body was taken out and tied to the cross, the joints
of the knees and arms having been cut, to allow of the extension of
the stiffened and shrunken limbs; it was then transfixed with spears,
and allowed to remain exposed for three days. An open grave, the
upturned soil of which seemed almost entirely composed of dead men's
remains, waited to receive the dishonoured corpse, over which three or
four Etas, squalid and degraded beings, were mounting guard, smoking
their pipes by a scanty charcoal fire, and bandying obscene jests. It
was a hideous and ghastly warning, had any cared to read the lesson;
but the passers-by on the high road took little or no notice of the
sight, and a group of chubby and happy children were playing not ten
yards from the dead body, as if no strange or uncanny thing were near

[Footnote 59: This last crime is, of course, now obsolete.]


[Footnote 60: The story, which also forms the subject of a play, is
published, but with altered names, in order that offence may not be
given to the Hotta family. The real names are preserved here. The
events related took place during the rule of the Shogun Iyémitsu, in
the first half of the seventeenth century.]

How true is the principle laid down by Confucius, that the benevolence
of princes is reflected in their country, while their wickedness
causes sedition and confusion!

[Illustration: THE GHOST OF SAKURA.]

In the province of Shimôsa, and the district of Sôma, Hotta Kaga no
Kami was lord of the castle of Sakura, and chief of a family which had
for generations produced famous warriors. When Kaga no Kami, who had
served in the Gorôjiu, the cabinet of the Shogun, died at the castle
of Sakura, his eldest son Kôtsuké no Suké Masanobu inherited his
estates and honours, and was appointed to a seat in the Gorôjiu; but
he was a different man from the lords who had preceded him. He treated
the farmers and peasants unjustly, imposing additional and grievous
taxes, so that the tenants on his estates were driven to the last
extremity of poverty; and although year after year, and month after
month, they prayed for mercy, and remonstrated against this injustice,
no heed was paid to them, and the people throughout the villages were
reduced to the utmost distress. Accordingly, the chiefs of the one
hundred and thirty-six villages, producing a total revenue of 40,000
kokus of rice, assembled together in council and determined
unanimously to present a petition to the Government, sealed with their
seals, stating that their repeated remonstrances had been taken no
notice of by their local authorities. Then they assembled in numbers
before the house of one of the councillors of their lord, named Ikéura
Kazuyé, in order to show the petition to him first, but even then no
notice was taken of them; so they returned home, and resolved, after
consulting together, to proceed to their lord's yashiki, or palace, at
Yedo, on the seventh day of the tenth month. It was determined, with
one accord, that one hundred and forty-three village chiefs should go
to Yedo; and the chief of the village of Iwahashi, one Sôgorô, a man
forty-eight years of age, distinguished for his ability and judgment,
ruling a district which produced a thousand kokus, stepped forward,
and said--

"This is by no means an easy matter, my masters. It certainly is of
great importance that we should forward our complaint to our lord's
palace at Yedo; but what are your plans? Have you any fixed

"It is, indeed, a most important matter," rejoined the others; but
they had nothing further to say. Then Sôgorô went on to say--

"We have appealed to the public office of our province, but without
avail; we have petitioned the Prince's councillors, also in vain. I
know that all that remains for us is to lay our case before our lord's
palace at Yedo; and if we go there, it is equally certain that we
shall not be listened to--on the contrary, we shall be cast into
prison. If we are not attended to here, in our own province, how much
less will the officials at Yedo care for us. We might hand our
petition into the litter of one of the Gorôjiu, in the public streets;
but, even in that case, as our lord is a member of the Gorôjiu, none
of his peers would care to examine into the rights and wrongs of our
complaint, for fear of offending him, and the man who presented the
petition in so desperate a manner would lose his life on a bootless
errand. If you have made up your minds to this, and are determined, at
all hazards, to start, then go to Yedo by all means, and bid a long
farewell to parents, children, wives, and relations. This is my

The others all agreeing with what Sôgorô said, they determined that,
come what might, they would go to Yedo; and they settled to assemble
at the village of Funabashi on the thirteenth day of the eleventh

On the appointed day all the village officers met at the place agreed
upon,--Sôgorô, the chief of the village of Iwahashi, alone being
missing; and as on the following day Sôgorô had not yet arrived, they
deputed one of their number, named Rokurobei, to inquire the reason.
Rokurobei arrived at Sôgorô's house towards four in the afternoon, and
found him warming himself quietly over his charcoal brazier, as if
nothing were the matter. The messenger, seeing this, said rather

"The chiefs of the villages are all assembled at Funabashi according
to covenant, and as you, Master Sôgorô, have not arrived, I have come
to inquire whether it is sickness or some other cause that prevents

"Indeed," replied Sôgorô, "I am sorry that you should have had so much
trouble. My intention was to have set out yesterday; but I was taken
with a cholic, with which I am often troubled, and, as you may see, I
am taking care of myself; so for a day or two I shall not be able to
start. Pray be so good as to let the others know this."

Rokurobei, seeing that there was no help for it, went back to the
village of Funabashi and communicated to the others what had occurred.
They were all indignant at what they looked upon as the cowardly
defection of a man who had spoken so fairly, but resolved that the
conduct of one man should not influence the rest, and talked
themselves into the belief that the affair which they had in hand
would be easily put through; so they agreed with one accord to start
and present the petition, and, having arrived at Yedo, put up in the
street called Bakurochô. But although they tried to forward their
complaint to the various officers of their lord, no one would listen
to them; the doors were all shut in their faces, and they had to go
back to their inn, crestfallen and without success.

On the following day, being the 18th of the month, they all met
together at a tea-house in an avenue, in front of a shrine of Kwannon
Sama;[61] and having held a consultation, they determined that, as
they could hit upon no good expedient, they would again send for
Sôgorô to see whether he could devise no plan. Accordingly, on the
19th, Rokurobei and one Jiuyémon started for the village of Iwahashi
at noon, and arrived the same evening.

[Footnote 61: A Buddhist deity.]

Now the village chief Sôgorô, who had made up his mind that the
presentation of this memorial was not a matter to be lightly treated,
summoned his wife and children and his relations, and said to them--

"I am about to undertake a journey to Yedo, for the following
reasons:--Our present lord of the soil has increased the land-tax, in
rice and the other imposts, more than tenfold, so that pen and paper
would fail to convey an idea of the poverty to which the people are
reduced, and the peasants are undergoing the tortures of hell upon
earth. Seeing this, the chiefs of the various villages have presented
petitions, but with what result is doubtful. My earnest desire,
therefore, is to devise some means of escape from this cruel
persecution. If my ambitious scheme does not succeed, then shall I
return home no more; and even should I gain my end, it is hard to say
how I may be treated by those in power. Let us drink a cup of wine
together, for it may be that you shall see my face no more. I give my
life to allay the misery of the people of this estate. If I die, mourn
not over my fate; weep not for me."

Having spoken thus, he addressed his wife and his four children,
instructing them carefully as to what he desired to be done after his
death, and minutely stating every wish of his heart. Then, having
drunk a parting cup with them, he cheerfully took leave of all
present, and went to a tea-house in the neighbouring village of
Funabashi, where the two messengers, Rokurobei and Jiuyémon, were
anxiously awaiting his arrival, in order that they might recount to
him all that had taken place at Yedo.

"In short," said they, "it appears to us that we have failed
completely; and we have come to meet you in order to hear what you
propose. If you have any plan to suggest, we would fain be made
acquainted with it."

"We have tried the officers of the district," replied Sôgorô, "and we
have tried my lord's palace at Yedo. However often we might assemble
before my lord's gate, no heed would be given to us. There is nothing
left for us but to appeal to the Shogun."

So they sat talking over their plans until the night was far advanced,
and then they went to rest. The winter night was long; but when the
cawing of the crows was about to announce the morning, the three
friends started on their journey for the tea-house at Asakusa, at
which, upon their arrival, they found the other village elders already

"Welcome, Master Sôgorô," said they. "How is it that you have come so
late? We have petitioned all the officers to no purpose, and we have
broken our bones in vain. We are at our wits' end, and can think of no
other scheme. If there is any plan which seems good to you, we pray
you to act upon it."

"Sirs," replied Sôgorô, speaking very quietly, "although we have met
with no better success here than in our own place, there is no use in
grieving. In a day or two the Gorôjiu will be going to the castle; we
must wait for this opportunity, and following one of the litters,
thrust in our memorial. This is my opinion: what think you of it, my

One and all, the assembled elders were agreed as to the excellence of
this advice; and having decided to act upon it, they returned to their

Then Sôgorô held a secret consultation with Jiuyémon, Hanzô,
Rokurobei, Chinzô, and Kinshirô, five of the elders, and, with their
assistance, drew up the memorial; and having heard that on the 26th of
the month, when the Gorôjiu should go to the castle, Kuzé Yamato no
Kami would proceed to a palace under the western enclosure of the
castle, they kept watch in a place hard by. As soon as they saw the
litter of the Gorôjiu approach, they drew near to it, and, having
humbly stated their grievances, handed in the petition; and as it was
accepted, the six elders were greatly elated, and doubted not that
their hearts' desire would be attained; so they went off to a
tea-house at Riyôgoku, and Jiuyémon said--

"We may congratulate ourselves on our success. We have handed in our
petition to the Gorôjiu, and now we may set our minds at rest; before
many days have passed, we shall hear good news from the rulers. To
Master Sôgorô is due great praise for his exertions."

Sôgorô, stepping forward, answered, "Although we have presented our
memorial to the Gorôjiu, the matter will not be so quickly decided; it
is therefore useless that so many of us should remain here: let eleven
men stay with me, and let the rest return home to their several
villages. If we who remain are accused of conspiracy and beheaded, let
the others agree to reclaim and bury our corpses. As for the expenses
which we shall incur until our suit is concluded, let that be
according to our original covenant. For the sake of the hundred and
thirty-six villages we will lay down our lives, if needs must, and
submit to the disgrace of having our heads exposed as those of common

Then they had a parting feast together, and, after a sad leave-taking,
the main body of the elders went home to their own country; while the
others, wending their way to their quarters waited patiently to be
summoned to the Supreme Court. On the 2d day of the 12th month,
Sôgorô, having received a summons from the residence of the Gorôjiu
Kuzé Yamato no Kami, proceeded to obey it, and was ushered to the
porch of the house, where two councillors, named Aijima Gidaiyu and
Yamaji Yôri, met him, and said--

"Some days since you had the audacity to thrust a memorial into the
litter of our lord Yamato no Kami. By an extraordinary exercise of
clemency, he is willing to pardon this heinous offence; but should you
ever again endeavour to force your petitions; upon him, you will be
held guilty of riotous conduct;" and with this they gave back the

"I humbly admit the justice of his lordship's censure. But oh! my
lords, this is no hasty nor ill-considered action. Year after year,
affliction upon affliction has been heaped upon us, until at last the
people are without even the necessaries of life; and we, seeing no end
to the evil, have humbly presented this petition. I pray your
lordships of your great mercy to consider our case" and deign to
receive our memorial. Vouchsafe to take some measures that the people
may live, and our gratitude for your great kindness will know no

"Your request is a just one," replied the two councillors after
hearing what he said; "but your memorial cannot be received: so you
must even take it back."

With this they gave back the document, and wrote down the names of
Sôgorô and six of the elders who had accompanied him. There was no
help for it: they must take back their petition, and return to their
inn. The seven men, dispirited and sorrowful, sat with folded arms
considering what was best to be done, what plan should be devised,
until at last, when they were at their wits' end, Sôgorô said, in a

"So our petition, which we gave in after so much pains, has been
returned after all! With what f ace can we return to our villages
after such a disgrace? I, for one, do not propose to waste my labour
for nothing; accordingly, I shall bide my time until some day, when
the Shogun shall go forth from the castle, and, lying in wait by the
roadside, I shall make known our grievances to him, who is lord over
our lord. This is our last chance."


The others all applauded this speech, and, having with one accord
hardened their hearts, waited for their opportunity.

Now it so happened that, on the 20th day of the 12th month, the then
Shogun, Prince Iyémitsu, was pleased to worship at the tombs of his
ancestors at Uyéno;[62] and Sôgorô and the other elders, hearing this,
looked upon it as a special favour from the gods, and felt certain
that this time they would not fail. So they drew up a fresh memorial,
and at the appointed time Sôgorô hid himself under the Sammayé Bridge,
in front of the black gate at Uyéno. When Prince Iyémitsu passed in
his litter, Sôgorô clambered up from under the bridge, to the great
surprise of the Shogun's attendants, who called out, "Push the fellow
on one side;" but, profiting by the confusion, Sôgorô, raising his
voice and crying, "I wish to humbly present a petition to his Highness
in person," thrust forward his memorial, which he had tied on to the
end of a bamboo stick six feet long, and tried to put it into the
litter; and although there were cries to arrest him, and he was
buffeted by the escort, he crawled up to the side of the litter, and
the Shogun accepted the document. But Sôgorô was arrested by the
escort, and thrown into prison. As for the memorial, his Highness
ordered that it should be handed in to the Gorôjiu Hotta Kôtsuké no
Suké, the lord of the petitioners.

[Footnote 62: Destroyed during the revolution, in the summer of 1868,
by the troops of the Mikado. See note on the tombs of the Shoguns, at
the end of the story.]

When Hotta Kôtsuké no Suké had returned home and read the memorial, he
summoned his councillor, Kojima Shikibu, and said--

"The officials of my estate are mere bunglers. When the peasants
assembled and presented a petition, they refused to receive it, and
have thus brought this trouble upon me. Their folly has been beyond
belief; however, it cannot be helped. We must remit all the new taxes,
and you must inquire how much was paid to the former lord of the
castle. As for this Sôgorô, he is not the only one who is at the
bottom of the conspiracy; however, as this heinous offence of his in
going out to lie in wait for the Shogun's procession is unpardonable,
we must manage to get him given up to us by the Government, and, as an
example for the rest of my people, he shall be crucified--he and his
wife and his children; and, after his death, all that he possesses
shall be confiscated. The other six men shall be banished; and that
will suffice."

"My lord," replied Shikibu, prostrating himself, "your lordship's
intentions are just. Sôgorô, indeed, deserves any punishment for his
outrageous crime. But I humbly venture to submit that his wife and
children cannot be said to be guilty in the same degree: I implore
your lordship mercifully to be pleased to absolve them from so severe
a punishment."

"Where the sin of the father is great, the wife and children cannot be
spared," replied Kôtsuké no Suké; and his councillor, seeing that his
heart was hardened, was forced to obey his orders without further

So Kôtsuké no Suké, having obtained that Sôgorô should be given up to
him by the Government, caused him to be brought to his estate of
Sakura as a criminal, in a litter covered with nets, and confined him
in prison. When his case had been inquired into, a decree was issued
by the Lord Kôtsuké no Suké that he should be punished for a heinous
crime; and on the 9th day of the 2d month of the second year of the
period styled Shôhô (A.D. 1644) he was condemned to be crucified.
Accordingly Sôgorô, his wife and children, and the elders of the
hundred and thirty-six villages were brought before the Court-house of
Sakura, in which were assembled forty-five chief officers. The elders
were then told that, yielding to their petition, their lord was
graciously pleased to order that the oppressive taxes should be
remitted, and that the dues levied should not exceed those of the
olden time. As for Sôgorô and his wife, the following sentence was
passed upon them:--

"Whereas you have set yourself up as the head of the villagers;
whereas, secondly, you have dared to make light of the Government by
petitioning his Highness the Shogun directly, thereby offering an
insult to your lord; and whereas, thirdly, you have presented a
memorial to the Gorôjiu; and, whereas, fourthly, you were privy to a
conspiracy: for these four heinous crimes you are sentenced to death
by crucifixion. Your wife is sentenced to die in like manner; and your
children will be decapitated.

"This sentence is passed upon the following persons:--

"Sôgorô, chief of the village of Iwahashi, aged 48.

"His wife, Man, aged 38.

"His son, Gennosuké, aged 13.

"His son, Sôhei, aged 10.

"His son, Kihachi, aged 7."

The eldest daughter of Sôgorô, named Hatsu, nineteen years of age, was
married to a man named Jiuyémon, in the village of Hakamura, in
Shitachi, beyond the river, in the territory of Matsudaira Matsu no
Kami (the Prince of Sendai). His second daughter, whose name was Saki,
sixteen years of age, was married to one Tôjiurô, chief of a village
on the property of my lord Naitô Geki. No punishment was decreed
against these two women.

The six elders who had accompanied Sôgorô were told that although by
good rights they had merited death, yet by the special clemency of
their lord their lives would be spared, but that they were condemned
to banishment. Their wives and children would not be attainted, and
their property would be spared. The six men were banished to Oshima,
in the province of Idzu.

Sôgorô heard his sentence with pure courage.

The six men were banished; but three of them lived to be pardoned on
the occasion of the death of the Shogun, Prince Genyuin,[63] and
returned to their country.

[Footnote 63: The name assigned after death to Iyétsuna, the fourth of
the dynasty of Tokugawa, who died on the 8th day of the 5th month of
the year A.D. 1680.]

According to the above decision, the taxes were remitted; and men and
women, young and old, rejoiced over the advantage that had been gained
for them by Sôgorô and by the six elders, and there was not one that
did not mourn for their fate.

When the officers of the several villages left the Court-house, one
Zembei, the chief of the village of Sakato, told the others that he
had some important subjects to speak to them upon, and begged them to
meet him in the temple called Fukushôin. Every man having consented,
and the hundred and thirty-six men having assembled at the temple,
Zembei addressed them as follows:--

"The success of our petition, in obtaining the reduction of our taxes
to the same amount as was levied by our former lord, is owing to
Master Sôgorô, who has thus thrown away his life for us. He and his
wife and children are now to suffer as criminals for the sake of the
one hundred and thirty-six villages. That such a thing should take
place before our very eyes seems to me not to be borne. What say you,
my masters?"

"Ay! ay! what you say is just from top to bottom," replied the others.
Then Hanzayémon, the elder of the village of Katsuta, stepped forward
and said--

"As Master Zembei has just said, Sôgorô is condemned to die for a
matter in which all the village elders are concerned to a man. We
cannot look on unconcerned. Full well I know that it is useless our
pleading for Sôgorô; but we may, at least, petition that the lives of
his wife and children may be spared."

The assembled elders having all applauded this speech, they determined
to draw up a memorial; and they resolved, should their petition not be
accepted by the local authorities, to present it at their lord's
palace in Yedo, and, should that fail, to appeal to the Government.
Accordingly, before noon on the following day, they all affixed their
seals to the memorial, which four of them, including Zembei and
Hanzayémon, composed, as follows:--

"With deep fear we humbly venture to present the following petition,
which the elders of the one hundred and thirty-six villages of this
estate have sealed with their seals. In consequence of the humble
petition which we lately offered up, the taxes have graciously been
reduced to the rates levied by the former lord of the estate, and new
laws have been vouchsafed to us. With reverence and joy the peasants,
great and small, have gratefully acknowledged these favours. With
regard to Sôgorô, the elder of the village of Iwahashi, who ventured
to petition his highness the Shogun in person, thus being guilty of a
heinous crime, he has been sentenced to death in the castle-town. With
fear and trembling we recognize the justice of his sentence. But in
the matter of his wife and children, she is but a woman, and they are
so young and innocent that they cannot distinguish the east from the
west: we pray that in your great clemency you will remit their sin,
and give them up to the representatives of the one hundred and
thirty-six villages, for which we shall be ever grateful. We, the
elders of the villages, know not to what extent we may be
transgressing in presenting this memorial. We were all guilty of
affixing our seals to the former petition; but Sôgorô, who was chief
of a large district, producing a thousand kokus of revenue, and was
therefore a man of experience, acted for the others; and we grieve
that he alone should suffer for all. Yet in his case we reverently
admit that there can be no reprieve. For his wife and children,
however, we humbly implore your gracious mercy and consideration.

"Signed by the elders of the villages of the estate, the 2d year of
Shôhô, and the 2d month."

Having drawn up this memorial, the hundred and thirty-six elders, with
Zembei at their head, proceeded to the Court-house to present the
petition, and found the various officers seated in solemn conclave.
Then the clerk took the petition, and, having opened it, read it
aloud; and the councillor, Ikéura Kazuyé, said--

"The petition which you have addressed to us is worthy of all praise.
But you must know that this is a matter which is no longer within our
control. The affair has been reported to the Government; and although
the priests of my lord's ancestral temple have interceded for Sôgorô,
my lord is so angry that he will not listen even to them, saying that,
had he not been one of the Gorôjiu, he would have been in danger of
being ruined by this man: his high station alone saved him. My lord
spoke so severely that the priests themselves dare not recur to the
subject. You see, therefore, that it will be no use your attempting to
take any steps in the matter, for most certainly your petition will
not be received. You had better, then, think no more about it." And
with these words he gave back the memorial.

Zembei and the elders, seeing, to their infinite sorrow, that their
mission was fruitless, left the Court-house, and most sorrowfully took
counsel together, grinding their teeth in their disappointment when
they thought over what the councillor had said as to the futility of
their attempt. Out of grief for this, Zembei, with Hanzayémon and
Heijiurô, on the 11th day of the 2d month (the day on which Sôgorô and
his wife and children suffered), left Ewaradai, the place of
execution, and went to the temple Zenkôji, in the province of
Shinshiu, and from thence they ascended Mount Kôya in Kishiu, and, on
the 1st day of the 8th month, shaved their heads and became priests;
Zembei changed his name to Kakushin, and Hanzayémon changed his to
Zenshô: as for Heijiurô, he fell sick at the end of the 7th month, and
on the 11th day of the 8th month died, being forty-seven years old
that year. These three men, who had loved Sôgorô as the fishes love
water, were true to him to the last. Heijiurô was buried on Mount
Kôya. Kakushin wandered through the country as a priest, praying for
the entry of Sôgorô and his children into the perfection of paradise;
and, after visiting all the shrines and temples, came back at last to
his own province of Shimôsa, and took up his abode at the temple
Riukakuji, in the village of Kano, and in the district of Imban,
praying and making offerings on behalf of the souls of Sôgorô, his
wife and children. Hanzayémon, now known as the priest Zenshô,
remained at Shinagawa, a suburb of Yedo, and, by the charity of good
people, collected enough money to erect six bronze Buddhas, which
remain standing to this day. He fell sick and died, at the age of
seventy, on the 10th day of the 2d month of the 13th year of the
period styled Kambun. Zembei, who, as a priest, had changed his name
to Kakushin, died, at the age of seventy-six, on the 17th day of the
10th month of the 2d year of the period styled Empô. Thus did those
men, for the sake of Sôgorô and his family, give themselves up to
works of devotion; and the other villagers also brought food to soothe
the spirits of the dead, and prayed for their entry into paradise; and
as litanies were repeated without intermission, there can be no doubt
that Sôgorô attained salvation.

"In paradise, where the blessings of God are distributed without
favour, the soul learns its faults by the measure of the rewards
given. The lusts of the flesh are abandoned; and the soul, purified,
attains to the glory of Buddha."[64]

[Footnote 64: Buddhist text.]

On the 11th day of the 2d month of the 2d year of Shôhô, Sôgorô having
been convicted of a heinous crime, a scaffold was erected at Ewaradai,
and the councillor who resided at Yedo and the councillor who resided
on the estate, with the other officers, proceeded to the place in all
solemnity. Then the priests of Tôkôji, in the village of Sakénaga,
followed by coffin-bearers, took their places in front of the
councillors, and said--

"We humbly beg leave to present a petition."

"What have your reverences to say?"

"We are men who have forsaken the world and entered the priesthood,"
answered the monks, respectfully; "and we would fain, if it be
possible, receive the bodies of those who are to die, that we may bury
them decently. It will be a great joy to us if our humble petition be
graciously heard and granted."

"Your request shall be granted; but as the crime of Sôgorô was great,
his body must be exposed for three days and three nights, after which
the corpse shall be given to you."

At the hour of the snake (10 A.M.), the hour appointed for the
execution, the people from the neighbouring villages and the
castle-town, old and young, men and women, flocked to see the sight:
numbers there were, too, who came to bid a last farewell to Sôgorô,
his wife and children, and to put up a prayer for them. When the hour
had arrived, the condemned were dragged forth bound, and made to sit
upon coarse mats. Sôgorô and his wife closed their eyes, for the sight
was more than they could bear; and the spectators, with heaving
breasts and streaming eyes, cried "Cruel!" and "Pitiless!" and taking
sweetmeats and cakes from the bosoms of their dresses threw them to
the children. At noon precisely Sôgorô and his wife were bound to the
crosses, which were then set upright and fixed in the ground. When
this had been done, their eldest son Gennosuké was led forward to the
scaffold, in front of the two parents. Then Sôgorô cried out--

"Oh! cruel, cruel! what crime has this poor child committed that he
is treated thus? As for me, it matters not what becomes of me." And
the tears trickled down his face.

The spectators prayed aloud, and shut their eyes; and the executioner
himself, standing behind the boy, and saying that it was a pitiless
thing that the child should suffer for the father's fault, prayed
silently. Then Gennosuké, who had remained with his eyes closed, said
to his parents--

"Oh! my father and mother, I am going before you to paradise, that
happy country, to wait for you. My little brothers and I will be on
the banks of the river Sandzu,[65] and stretch out our hands and help
you across. Farewell, all you who have come to see us die; and now
please cut off my head at once."

[Footnote 65: The Buddhist Styx, which separates paradise from hell,
across which the dead are ferried by an old woman, for whom a small
piece of money is buried with them.]

With this he stretched out his neck, murmuring a last prayer; and not
only Sôgorô and his wife, but even the executioner and the spectators
could not repress their tears; but the headsman, unnerved as he was,
and touched to the very heart, was forced, on account of his office,
to cut off the child's head, and a piteous wail arose from the parents
and the spectators.

Then the younger child Sôhei said to the headsman, "Sir, I have a sore
on my right shoulder: please, cut my head off from the left shoulder,
lest you should hurt me. Alas! I know not how to die, nor what I
should do."

When the headsman and the officers present heard the child's artless
speech, they wept again for very pity; but there was no help for it,
and the head fell off more swiftly than water is drunk up by sand.
Then little Kihachi, the third son, who, on account of his tender
years, should have been spared, was butchered as he was in his
simplicity eating the sweetmeats which had been thrown to him by the

When the execution of the children was over, the priests of Tôkôji
took their corpses, and, having placed them in their coffins, carried
them away, amidst the lamentations of the bystanders, and buried them
with great solemnity.

Then Shigayémon, one of the servants of Danzayémon, the chief of the
Etas, who had been engaged for the purpose, was just about to thrust
his spear, when O Man, Sôgorô's wife, raising her voice, said--

"Remember, my husband, that from the first you had made up your mind
to this fate. What though our bodies be disgracefully exposed on these
crosses?--we have the promises of the gods before us; therefore, mourn
not. Let us fix our minds upon death: we are drawing near to paradise,
and shall soon be with the saints. Be calm, my husband. Let us
cheerfully lay down our single lives for the good of many. Man lives
but for one generation; his name, for many. A good name is more to be
prized than life."

So she spoke; and Sôgorô on the cross, laughing gaily, answered--

"Well said, wife! What though we are punished for the many? Our
petition was successful, and there is nothing left to wish for. Now I
am happy, for I have attained my heart's desire. The changes and
chances of life are manifold. But if I had five hundred lives, and
could five hundred times assume this shape of mine, I would die five
hundred times to avenge this iniquity. For myself I care not; but that
my wife and children should be punished also is too much. Pitiless and
cruel! Let my lord fence himself in with iron walls, yet shall my
spirit burst through them and crush his bones, as a return for this

And as he spoke, his eyes became vermilion red, and flashed like the
sun or the moon, and he looked like the demon Razetsu.[66]

[Footnote 66: A Buddhist fiend.]

"Come," shouted he, "make haste and pierce me with the spear."

"Your wishes shall be obeyed," said the Eta, Shigayémon, and thrust in
a spear at his right side until it came out at his left shoulder, and
the blood streamed out like a fountain. Then he pierced the wife from
the left side; and she, opening her eyes, said in a dying voice--

"Farewell, all you who are present. May harm keep far from you.
Farewell! farewell!" and as her voice waxed faint, the second spear
was thrust in from her right side, and she breathed out her spirit.
Sôgorô, the colour of his face not even changing, showed no sign of
fear, but opening his eyes wide, said--

"Listen, my masters! all you who have come to see this sight.
Recollect that I shall pay my thanks to my lord Kôtsuké no Suké for
this day's work. You shall see it for yourselves, so that it shall be
talked of for generations to come. As a sign, when I am dead, my head
shall turn and face towards the castle. When you see this, doubt not
that my words shall come true."

When he had spoken thus, the officer directing the execution gave a
sign to the Eta, Shigayémon, and ordered him to finish the execution,
so that Sôgorô should speak no more. So Shigayémon pierced him twelve
or thirteen times, until he died. And when he was dead, his head
turned and faced the castle. When the two councillors beheld this
miracle, they came down from their raised platform, and knelt down
before Sôgorô's dead body and said--

"Although you were but a peasant on this estate, you conceived a noble
plan to succour the other farmers in their distress. You bruised your
bones, and crushed your heart, for their sakes. Still, in that you
appealed to the Shogun in person, you committed a grievous crime, and
made light of your superiors; and for this it was impossible not to
punish you. Still we admit that to include your wife and children in
your crime, and kill them before your eyes, was a cruel deed. What is
done, is done, and regret is of no avail. However, honours shall be
paid to your spirit: you shall be canonized as the Saint Daimiyô, and
you shall be placed among the tutelar deities of my lord's family."

With these words the two councillors made repeated reverences before
the corpse; and in this they showed their faithfulness to their lord.
But he, when the matter was reported to him, only laughed scornfully
at the idea that the hatred of a peasant could affect his feudal lord;
and said that a vassal who had dared to hatch a plot which, had it not
been for his high office, would have been sufficient to ruin him, had
only met with his deserts. As for causing him to be canonized, let him
be as he was. Seeing their lord's anger, his councillors could only
obey. But it was not long before he had cause to know that, though
Sôgorô was dead, his vengeance was yet alive.

The relations of Sôgorô and the elders of the villages having been
summoned to the Court-house, the following document was issued:--

"Although the property of Sôgorô, the elder of the village of
Iwahashi, is confiscated, his household furniture shall be made over
to his two married daughters; and the village officials will look to
it that these few poor things be not stolen by lawless and
unprincipled men.

"His rice-fields and corn-fields, his mountain land and forest land,
will be sold by auction. His house and grounds will be given over to
the elder of the village. The price fetched by his property will be
paid over to the lord of the estate.

"The above decree will be published, in full, to the peasants of the
village; and it is strictly forbidden to find fault with this

"The 12th day of the 2d month, of the 2d year of the period Shôhô."

The peasants, having heard this degree with all humility, left the
Court-house. Then the following punishments were awarded to the
officers of the castle, who, by rejecting the petition of the peasants
in the first instance, had brought trouble upon their lord:--

"Dismissed from their office, the resident councillors at Yedo and at
the castle-town.

"Banished from the province, four district governors, and three
bailiffs, and nineteen petty officers.

"Dismissed from office, three metsukés, or censors, and seven

"Condemned to _hara-kiri_, one district governor and one Yedo bailiff.

"The severity of this sentence is owing to the injustice of the
officials in raising new and unprecedented taxes, and bringing
affliction upon the people, and in refusing to receive the petitions
of the peasants, without consulting their lord, thus driving them to
appeal to the Shogun in person. In their avarice they looked not to
the future, but laid too heavy a burden on the peasants, so that they
made an appeal to a higher power, endangering the honour of their
lord's house. For this bad government the various officials are to be
punished as above."

In this wise was justice carried out at the palace at Yedo and at the
Court-house at home. But in the history of the world, from the dark
ages down to the present time, there are few instances of one man
laying down his life for the many, as Sôgorô did: noble and peasant
praise him alike.

As month after month passed away, towards the fourth year of the
period Shôhô, the wife of my lord Kôtsuké no Suké, being with child,
was seized with violent pains; and retainers were sent to all the
different temples and shrines to pray by proxy, but all to no purpose:
she continued to suffer as before. Towards the end of the seventh
month of the year, there appeared, every night, a preternatural light
above the lady's chamber; this was accompanied by hideous sounds as of
many people laughing fiendishly, and sometimes by piteous wailings, as
though myriads of persons were lamenting. The profound distress caused
by this added to her sufferings; so her own privy councillor, an old
man, took his place in the adjoining chamber, and kept watch. All of a
sudden, he heard a noise as if a number of people were walking on the
boards of the roof of my lady's room; then there was a sound of men
and women weeping; and when, thunderstruck, the councillor was
wondering what it could all be, there came a wild burst of laughter,
and all was silent. Early the following morning, the old women who had
charge of my lady's household presented themselves before my lord
Kôtsuké no Suké, and said--

"Since the middle of last month, the waiting-women have been
complaining to us of the ghostly noises by which my lady is nightly
disturbed, and they say that they cannot continue to serve her. We
have tried to soothe them, by saying that the devils should be
exorcised at once, and that there was nothing to be afraid of. Still
we feel that their fears are not without reason, and that they really
cannot do their work; so we beg that your lordship will take the
matter into your consideration."

"This is a passing strange story of yours; however, I will go myself
to-night to my lady's apartments and keep watch. You can come with

Accordingly, that night my lord Kôtsuké no Suké sat up in person. At
the hour of the rat (midnight) a fearful noise of voices was heard,
and Sôgorô and his wife, bound to the fatal crosses, suddenly
appeared; and the ghosts, seizing the lady by the hand, said--

"We have come to meet you. The pains you are suffering are terrible,
but they are nothing in comparison with those of the hell to which we
are about to lead you."

At these words, Kôtsuké no Suké, seizing his sword, tried to sweep the
ghosts away with a terrific cut; but a loud peal of laughter was
heard, and the visions faded away. Kôtsuké no Suké, terrified, sent
his retainers to the temples and shrines to pray that the demons
might be cast out; but the noises were heard nightly, as before. When
the eleventh month of the year came round, the apparitions of human
forms in my lady's apartments became more and more frequent and
terrible, all the spirits railing at her, and howling out that they
had come to fetch her. The women would all scream and faint; and then
the ghosts would disappear amid yells of laughter. Night after night
this happened, and even in the daytime the visions would manifest
themselves; and my lady's sickness grew worse daily, until in the last
month of the year she died, of grief and terror. Then the ghost of
Sôgorô and his wife crucified would appear day and night in the
chamber of Kôtsuké no Suké, floating round the room, and glaring at
him with red and flaming eyes. The hair of the attendants would stand
on end with terror; and if they tried to cut at the spirits, their
limbs would be cramped, and their feet and hands would not obey their
bidding. Kôtsuké no Suké would draw the sword that lay by his bedside;
but, as often as he did so, the ghosts faded away, only to appear
again in a more hideous shape than before, until at last, having
exhausted his strength and spirits, even he became terror-stricken.
The whole household was thrown into confusion, and day after day
mystic rites and incantations were performed by the priests over
braziers of charcoal, while prayers were recited without ceasing; but
the visions only became more frequent, and there was no sign of their
ceasing. After the 5th year of Shôhô, the style of the years was
changed to Keian; and during the 1st year of Keian the spirits
continued to haunt the palace; and now they appeared in the chamber of
Kôtsuké no Suké's eldest son, surrounding themselves with even more
terrors than before; and when Kôtsuké no Suké was about to go to the
Shogun's castle, they were seen howling out their cries of vengeance
in the porch of the house. At last the relations of the family and the
members of the household took counsel together, and told Kôtsuké no
Suké that without doubt no ordinary means would suffice to lay the
ghosts; a shrine must be erected to Sôgorô, and divine honours paid to
him, after which the apparitions would assuredly cease. Kôtsuké no
Suké having carefully considered the matter and given his consent,
Sôgorô was canonized under the name of Sôgo Daimiyô, and a shrine was
erected in his honour. After divine honours had been paid to him, the
awful visions were no more seen, and the ghost of Sôgorô was laid for

In the 2d year of the period Keian, on the 11th day of the 10th month,
on the occasion of the festival of first lighting the fire on the
hearth, the various Daimios and Hatamotos of distinction went to the
castle of the Shogun, at Yedo, to offer their congratulations on this
occasion. During the ceremonies, my lord Hotta Kôtsuké no Suké and
Sakai Iwami no Kami, lord of the castle of Matsumoto, in the province
of Shinshiu, had a quarrel, the origin of which was not made public;
and Sakai Iwami no Kami, although he came of a brave and noble
family, received so severe a wound that he died on the following day,
at the age of forty-three; and in consequence of this, his family was
ruined and disgraced.[67] My lord Kôtsuké no Suké, by great good
fortune, contrived to escape from the castle, and took refuge in his
own house, whence, mounting a famous horse called Hira-Abumi,[68] he
fled to his castle of Sakura, in Shimôsa, accomplishing the distance,
which is about sixty miles, in six hours. When he arrived in front of
the castle, he called out in a loud voice to the guard within to open
the gate, answering, in reply to their challenge, that he was Kôtsuké
no Suké, the lord of the castle. The guard, not believing their ears,
sent word to the councillor in charge of the castle, who rushed out to
see if the person demanding admittance were really their lord. When he
saw Kôtsuké no Suké, he caused the gates to be opened, and, thinking
it more than strange, said--

"Is this indeed you, my lord? What strange chance brings your lordship
hither thus late at night, on horseback and alone, without a single

[Footnote 67: In the old days, if a noble was murdered, and died
outside his own house, he was disgraced, and his estates were
forfeited. When the Regent of the Shogun was murdered, some years
since, outside the castle of Yedo, by a legal fiction it was given out
that he had died in his own palace, in order that his son might
succeed to his estates.]

[Footnote 68: Level stirrups.]

With these words he ushered in Kôtsuké no Suké, who, in reply to the
anxious inquiries of his people as to the cause of his sudden
appearance, said--

"You may well be astonished. I had a quarrel to-day in the castle at
Yedo, with Sakai Iwami no Kami, the lord of the castle of Matsumoto,
and I cut him down. I shall soon be pursued; so we must strengthen the
fortress, and prepare for an attack."

The household, hearing this, were greatly alarmed, and the whole
castle was thrown into confusion. In the meanwhile the people of
Kôtsuké no Suké's palace at Yedo, not knowing whether their lord had
fled, were in the greatest anxiety, until a messenger came from
Sakura, and reported his arrival there.

When the quarrel inside the castle of Yedo and Kôtsuké no Suké's
flight had been taken cognizance of, he was attainted of treason, and
soldiers were sent to seize him, dead or alive. Midzuno Setsu no Kami
and Gotô Yamato no Kami were charged with the execution of the order,
and sallied forth, on the 13th day of the 10th month, to carry it out.
When they arrived at the town of Sasai, they sent a herald with the
following message--

"Whereas Kôtsuké no Suké killed Sakai Iwami no Kami inside the castle
of Yedo, and has fled to his own castle without leave, he is attainted
of treason; and we, being connected with him by ties of blood and of
friendship, have been charged to seize him."

The herald delivered this message to the councillor of Kôtsuké no
Suké, who, pleading as an excuse that his lord was mad, begged the two
nobles to intercede for him. Gotô Yamato no Kami upon this called the
councillor to him, and spoke privately to him, after which the latter
took his leave and returned to the castle of Sakura.

In the meanwhile, after consultation at Yedo, it was decided that, as
Gotô Yamato no Kami and Midzuno Setsu no Kami were related to Kôtsuké
no Suké, and might meet with difficulties for that very reason, two
other nobles, Ogasawara Iki no Kami and Nagai Hida no Kami, should be
sent to assist them, with orders that should any trouble arise they
should send a report immediately to Yedo. In consequence of this
order, the two nobles, with five thousand men, were about to march for
Sakura, on the 15th of the month, when a messenger arrived from that
place bearing the following despatch for the Gorôjiu, from the two
nobles who had preceded them--

   "In obedience to the orders of His Highness the Shogun, we
   proceeded, on the 13th day of this month, to the castle of
   Sakura, and conducted a thorough investigation of the affair.
   It is true that Kôtsuké no Suké has been guilty of treason, but
   he is out of his mind; his retainers have called in physicians,
   and he is undergoing treatment by which his senses are being
   gradually restored, and his mind is being awakened from its
   sleep. At the time when he slew Sakai Iwami no Kami he was not
   accountable for his actions, and will be sincerely penitent
   when he is aware of his crime. We have taken him prisoner, and
   have the honour to await your instructions; in the meanwhile,
   we beg by these present to let you know what we have done.

                            "(Signed)    GOTÔ YAMATO NO KAMI.
                                         MIDZUNO SETSU NO KAMI.
   _To the Gorôjiu, 2d year of Keian, 2d month, 14th day_."

This despatch reached Yedo on the 16th of the month, and was read by
the Gorôjiu after they had left the castle; and in consequence of the
report of Kôtsuké no Suké's madness, the second expedition was put a
stop to, and the following instructions were sent to Gotô Yamato no
Kami and Midzuno Setsu no Kami--

   "With reference to the affair of Hotta Kôtsuké no Suké, lord of
   the castle of Sakura, in Shimôsa, whose quarrel with Sakai
   Iwami no Kami within the castle of Yedo ended in bloodshed. For
   this heinous crime and disregard of the sanctity of the castle,
   it is ordered that Kôtsuké no Suké be brought as a prisoner to
   Yedo, in a litter covered with nets, that his case may be

   "2d year of Keian, 2d month.
               (_Signed by the Gorôjiu_)    INABA MINO NO KAMI.
                                            INOUYE KAWACHI NOKAMI.
                                            KATÔ ECCHIU NO KAMI."

Upon the receipt of this despatch, Hotta Kôtsuké nô Suké was
immediately placed in a litter covered with a net of green silk, and
conveyed to Yedo, strictly guarded by the retainers of the two
nobles; and, having arrived at the capital, was handed over to the
charge of Akimoto Tajima no Kami. All his retainers were quietly
dispersed; and his empty castle was ordered to be thrown open, and
given in charge to Midzuno Iki no Kami.

At last Kôtsuké no Suké began to feel that the death of his wife and
his own present misfortunes were a just retribution for the death of
Sôgorô and his wife and children, and he was as one awakened from a
dream. Then night and morning, in his repentance, he offered up
prayers to the sainted spirit of the dead farmer, and acknowledged and
bewailed his crime, vowing that, if his family were spared from ruin
and re-established, intercession should be made at the court of the
Mikado,[69] at Kiyôto, on behalf of the spirit of Sôgorô, so that,
being worshipped with even greater honours than before, his name
should be handed down to all generations.

[Footnote 69: In the days of Shogun's power, the Mikado remained the
Fountain of Honour, and, as chief of the national religion and the
direct descendant of the gods, dispensed divine honours.]

In consequence of this it happened that the spirit of Sôgorô having
relaxed in its vindictiveness, and having ceased to persecute the
house of Hotta, in the 1st month of the 4th year of Keian, Kôtsuké no
Suké received a summons from the Shogun, and, having been forgiven,
was made lord of the castle of Matsuyama, in the province of Déwa,
with a revenue of twenty thousand kokus. In the same year, on the 20th
day of the 4th month, the Shogun, Prince Iyémitsu, was pleased to
depart this life, at the age of forty-eight; and whether by the
forgiving spirit of the prince, or by the divine interposition of the
sainted Sôgorô, Kôtsuké no Suké was promoted to the castle of Utsu no
Miya, in the province of Shimotsuké, with a revenue of eighty thousand
kokus; and his name was changed to Hotta Hida no Kami. He also
received again his original castle of Sakura, with a revenue of twenty
thousand kokus: so that there can be no doubt that the saint was
befriending him. In return for these favours, the shrine of Sôgorô was
made as beautiful as a gem. It is needless to say how many of the
peasants of the estate flocked to the shrine: any good luck that might
befall the people was ascribed to it, and night and day the devout
worshipped at it.

Here follows a copy of the petition which Sôgorô presented to the

"We, the elders of the hundred and thirty-six villages of the district
of Chiba, in the province of Shimôsa, and of the district of Buji, in
the province of Kadzusa, most reverently offer up this our humble

"When our former lord, Doi Shosho, was transferred to another castle,
in the 9th year of the period Kanyé, Hotta Kaga no Kami became lord of
the castle of Sakura; and in the 17th year of the same period, my lord
Kôtsuké no Suké succeeded him. Since that time the taxes laid upon us
have been raised in the proportion of one tô and two sho to each

[Footnote 70: 10 Sho = 1 Tô. 10 Tô = 1 Koku.]

"_Item_.--At the present time, taxes are raised on nineteen of our
articles of produce; whereas our former lord only required that we
should furnish him with pulse and sesamum, for which he paid in rice.

"_Item_.--Not only are we not paid now for our produce, but, if it is
not given in to the day, we are driven and goaded by the officials;
and if there be any further delay, we are manacled and severely
reprimanded; so that if our own crops fail, we have to buy produce
from other districts, and are pushed to the utmost extremity of

"_Item_.--We have over and over again prayed to be relieved from these
burthens, but our petitions are not received. The people are reduced
to poverty, so that it is hard for them to live under such grievous
taxation. Often they have tried to sell the land which they till, but
none can be found to buy; so they have sometimes given over their land
to the village authorities, and fled with their wives to other
provinces, and seven hundred and thirty men or more have been reduced
to begging, one hundred and eighty-five houses have fallen into ruins;
land producing seven thousand kokus has been given up, and remains
untilled, and eleven temples have fallen into decay in consequence of
the ruin of those upon whom they depended.

"Besides this, the poverty-stricken farmers and women, having been
obliged to take refuge in other provinces, and having no
abiding-place, have been driven to evil courses and bring men to speak
ill of their lord; and the village officials, being unable to keep
order, are blamed and reproved. No attention has been paid to our
repeated representations upon this point; so we were driven to
petition the Gorôjiu Kuzé Yamato no Kami as he was on his way to the
castle, but our petition was returned to us. And now, as a last
resource, we tremblingly venture to approach his Highness the Shogun
in person.

"The 1st year of the period Shôhô, 12th month, 20th day.

[Illustration: Seal] "The seals of the elders of the 136 villages."

The Shogun at that time was Prince Iyémitsu, the grandson of Iyéyasu.
He received the name of Dai-yu-In after his death.

The Gorôjiu at that time were Hotta Kôtsuké no Suké, Sakai Iwami no
Kami, Inaba Mino no Kami, Katô Ecchiu no Kami, Inouyé Kawachi no Kami.

The Wakadoshiyôri (or 2d council) were Torii Wakasa no Kami, Tsuchiya
Dewa no Kami, and Itakura Naizen no Sho.

       *       *       *       *       *

The belief in ghosts appears to be as universal as that in the
immortality of the soul, upon which it depends. Both in China and
Japan the departed spirit is invested with the power of revisiting the
earth, and, in a visible form, tormenting its enemies and haunting
those places where the perishable part of it mourned and suffered.
Haunted houses are slow to find tenants, for ghosts almost always come
with revengeful intent; indeed, the owners of such houses will almost
pay men to live in them, such is the dread which they inspire, and the
anxiety to blot out the stigma.

One cold winter's night at Yedo, as I was sitting, with a few Japanese
friends, huddled round the imperfect heat of a brazier of charcoal,
the conversation turned upon the story of Sôgorô and upon ghostly
apparitions in general. Many a weird tale was told that evening, and I
noted down the three or four which follow, for the truth of which the
narrators vouched with the utmost confidence.

About ten years ago there lived a fishmonger, named Zenroku, in the
Mikawa-street, at Kanda, in Yedo. He was a poor man, living with his
wife and one little boy. His wife fell sick and died, so he engaged an
old woman to look after his boy while he himself went out to sell his
fish. It happened, one day, that he and the other hucksters of his
guild were gambling; and this coming to the ears of the authorities,
they were all thrown into prison. Although their offence was in itself
a light one, still they were kept for some time in durance while the
matter was being investigated; and Zenroku, owing to the damp and foul
air of the prison, fell sick with fever. His little child, in the
meantime, had been handed over by the authorities to the charge of the
petty officers of the ward to which his father belonged, and was being
well cared for; for Zenroku was known to be an honest fellow, and his
fate excited much compassion. One night Zenroku, pale and emaciated,
entered the house in which his boy was living; and all the people
joyfully congratulated him on his escape from jail. "Why, we heard
that you were sick in prison. This is, indeed, a joyful return." Then
Zenroku thanked those who had taken care of the child, saying that he
had returned secretly by the favour of his jailers that night; but
that on the following day his offence would be remitted, and he should
be able to take possession of his house again publicly. For that
night, he must return to the prison. With this he begged those present
to continue their good offices to his babe; and, with a sad and
reluctant expression of countenance, he left the house. On the
following day, the officers of that ward were sent for by the prison
authorities. They thought that they were summoned that Zenroku might
be handed back to them a free man, as he himself had said to them; but
to their surprise, they were told that he had died the night before in
prison, and were ordered to carry away his dead body for burial. Then
they knew that they had seen Zenroku's ghost; and that when he said
that he should be returned to them on the morrow, he had alluded to
his corpse. So they buried him decently, and brought up his son, who
is alive to this day.

The next story was told by a professor in the college at Yedo, and,
although it is not of so modern a date as the last, he stated it to be
well authenticated, and one of general notoriety.

About two hundred years ago there was a chief of the police, named
Aoyama Shuzen, who lived in the street called Bancho, at Yedo. His
duty was to detect thieves and incendiaries. He was a cruel and
violent man, without heart or compassion, and thought nothing of
killing or torturing a man to gratify spite or revenge. This man
Shuzen had in his house a servant-maid, called O Kiku (the
Chrysanthemum), who had lived in the family since her childhood, and
was well acquainted with her master's temper. One day O Kiku
accidentally broke one of a set of ten porcelain plates, upon which he
set a high value. She knew that she would suffer for her carelessness;
but she thought that if she concealed the matter her punishment would
be still more severe; so she went at once to her master's wife, and,
in fear and trembling, confessed what she had done. When Shuzen came
home, and heard that one of his favourite plates was broken, he flew
into a violent rage, and took the girl to a cupboard, where he left
her bound with cords, and every day cut off one of her fingers. O
Kiku, tightly bound and in agony, could not move; but at last she
contrived to bite or cut the ropes asunder, and, escaping into the
garden, threw herself into a well, and was drowned. From that time
forth, every night a voice was heard coming from the well, counting
one, two, three, and so on up to nine--the number of the plates that
remained unbroken--and then, when the tenth plate should have been
counted, would come a burst of lamentation. The servants of the house,
terrified at this, all left their master's service, until Shuzen, not
having a single retainer left, was unable to perform his public
duties; and when the officers of the government heard of this, he was
dismissed from his office. At this time there was a famous priest,
called Mikadzuki Shônin, of the temple Denzuin, who, having been told
of the affair, came one night to the house, and, when the ghost began
to count the plates, reproved the spirit, and by his prayers and
admonitions caused it to cease from troubling the living.

The laying of disturbed spirits appears to form one of the regular
functions of the Buddhist priests; at least, we find them playing a
conspicuous part in almost every ghost-story.

About thirty years ago there stood a house at Mitsumé, in the Honjô of
Yedo, which was said to be nightly visited by ghosts, so that no man
dared to live in it, and it remained untenanted on that account.
However, a man called Miura Takéshi, a native of the province of
Oshiu, who came to Yedo to set up in business as a fencing-master, but
was too poor to hire a house, hearing that there was a haunted house,
for which no tenant could be found, and that the owner would let any
man live in it rent free, said that he feared neither man nor devil,
and obtained leave to occupy the house. So he hired a fencing-room, in
which he gave his lessons by day, and after midnight returned to the
haunted house. One night, his wife, who took charge of the house in
his absence, was frightened by a fearful noise proceeding from a pond
in the garden, and, thinking that this certainly must be the ghost
that she had heard so much about, she covered her head with the
bed-clothes and remained breathless with terror. When her husband came
home, she told him what had happened; and on the following night he
returned earlier than usual, and waited for the ghostly noise. At the
same time as before, a little after midnight, the same sound was
heard--as though a gun had been fired inside the pond. Opening the
shutters, he looked out, and saw something like a black cloud floating
on the water, and in the cloud was the form of a bald man. Thinking
that there must be some cause for this, he instituted careful
inquiries, and learned that the former tenant, some ten years
previously, had borrowed money from a blind shampooer,[71] and, being
unable to pay the debt, had murdered his creditor, who began to press
him for his money, and had thrown his head into the pond. The
fencing-master accordingly collected his pupils and emptied the pond,
and found a skull at the bottom of it; so he called in a priest, and
buried the skull in a temple, causing prayers to be offered up for the
repose of the murdered man's soul. Thus the ghost was laid, and
appeared no more.

[Footnote 71: The apparently poor shaven-pated and blind shampooers of
Japan drive a thriving trade as money-lenders. They give out small
sums at an interest of 20 per cent. per month--210 per cent. per
annum--and woe betide the luckless wight who falls into their

The belief in curses hanging over families for generations is as
common as that in ghosts and supernatural apparitions. There is a
strange story of this nature in the house of Asai, belonging to the
Hatamoto class. The ancestor of the present representative, six
generations ago, had a certain concubine, who was in love with a man
who frequented the house, and wished in her heart to marry him; but,
being a virtuous woman, she never thought of doing any evil deed. But
the wife of my lord Asai was jealous of the girl, and persuaded her
husband that her rival in his affections had gone astray; when he
heard this he was very angry, and beat her with a candlestick so that
he put out her left eye. The girl, who had indignantly protested her
innocence, finding herself so cruelly handled, pronounced a curse
against the house; upon which, her master, seizing the candlestick
again, dashed out her brains and killed her. Shortly afterwards my
lord Asai lost his left eye, and fell sick and died; and from that
time forth to this day, it is said that the representatives of the
house have all lost their left eyes after the age of forty, and
shortly afterwards they have fallen sick and died at the same age as
the cruel lord who killed his concubine.


Of the many fair scenes of Yedo, none is better worth visiting than
the temple of Zôjôji, one of the two great burial-places of the
Shoguns; indeed, if you wish to see the most beautiful spots of any
Oriental city, ask for the cemeteries: the homes of the dead are ever
the loveliest places. Standing in a park of glorious firs and pines
beautifully kept, which contains quite a little town of neat,
clean-looking houses, together with thirty-four temples for the use of
the priests and attendants of the shrines, the main temple, with its
huge red pillars supporting a heavy Chinese roof of grey tiles, is
approached through a colossal open hall which leads into a stone
courtyard. At one end of this courtyard is a broad flight of
steps--the three or four lower ones of stone, and the upper ones of
red wood. At these the visitor is warned by a notice to take off his
boots, a request which Englishmen, with characteristic disregard of
the feelings of others, usually neglect to comply with. The main hall
of the temple is of large proportions, and the high altar is decorated
with fine bronze candelabra, incense-burners, and other ornaments, and
on two days of the year a very curious collection of pictures
representing the five hundred gods, whose images are known to all
persons who have visited Canton, is hung along the walls. The big bell
outside the main hall is rather remarkable on account of the great
beauty of the deep bass waves of sound which it rolls through the city
than on account of its size, which is as nothing when compared with
that of the big bells of Moscow and Peking; still it is not to be
despised even in that respect, for it is ten feet high and five feet
eight inches in diameter, while its metal is a foot thick: it was hung
up in the year 1673. But the chief objects of interest in these
beautiful grounds are the chapels attached to the tombs of the

It is said that as Prince Iyéyasu was riding into Yedo to take
possession of his new castle, the Abbot of Zôjôji, an ancient temple
which then stood at Hibiya, near the castle, went forth and waited
before the gate to do homage to the Prince. Iyéyasu, seeing that the
Abbot was no ordinary man, stopped and asked his name, and entered the
temple to rest himself. The smooth-spoken monk soon found such favour
with Iyéyasu, that he chose Zôjôji to be his family temple; and seeing
that its grounds were narrow and inconveniently near the castle, he
caused it to be removed to its present site. In the year 1610 the
temple was raised, by the intercession of Iyéyasu, to the dignity of
the Imperial Temples, which, until the last revolution, were presided
over by princes of the blood; and to the Abbot was granted the right,
on going to the castle, of sitting in his litter as far as the
entrance-hall, instead of dismounting at the usual place and
proceeding on foot through several gates and courtyards. Nor were the
privileges of the temple confined to barren honours, for it was
endowed with lands of the value of five thousand kokus of rice yearly.

When Iyéyasu died, the shrine called Antoku In was erected in his
honour to the south of the main temple. Here, on the seventeenth day
of the fourth month, the anniversary of his death, ceremonies are held
in honour of his spirit, deified as Gongen Sama, and the place is
thrown open to all who may wish to come and pray. But Iyéyasu is not
buried here; his remains lie in a gorgeous shrine among the mountains
some eighty miles north of Yedo, at Nikkô, a place so beautiful that
the Japanese have a rhyming proverb which says, that he who has not
seen Nikkô should never pronounce the word Kekkô (charming, delicious,
grand, beautiful).

Hidétada, the son and successor of Iyéyasu, together with Iyénobu,
Iyétsugu, Iyéshigé, Iyéyoshi, and Iyémochi, the sixth, seventh, ninth,
twelfth, and fourteenth Shoguns of the Tokugawa dynasty, are buried in
three shrines attached to the temple; the remainder, with the
exception of Iyémitsu, the third Shogun, who lies with his grandfather
at Nikkô, are buried at Uyéno.

The shrines are of exceeding beauty, lying on one side of a splendid
avenue of Scotch firs, which border a broad, well-kept gravel walk.
Passing through a small gateway of rare design, we come into a large
stone courtyard, lined with a long array of colossal stone lanterns,
the gift of the vassals of the departed Prince. A second gateway,
supported by gilt pillars carved all round with figures of dragons,
leads into another court, in which are a bell tower, a great cistern
cut out of a single block of stone like a sarcophagus, and a smaller
number of lanterns of bronze; these are given by the Go San Ké, the
three princely families in which the succession to the office of
Shogun was vested. Inside this is a third court, partly covered like a
cloister, the approach to which is a doorway of even greater beauty
and richness than the last; the ceiling is gilt, and painted with
arabesques and with heavenly angels playing on musical instruments,
and the panels of the walls are sculptured in high relief with
admirable representations of birds and flowers, life-size, life-like,
all being coloured to imitate nature. Inside this enclosure stands a
shrine, before the closed door of which a priest on one side, and a
retainer of the house of Tokugawa on the other, sit mounting guard,
mute and immovable as though they themselves were part of the carved
ornaments. Passing on one side of the shrine, we come to another
court, plainer than the last, and at the back of the little temple
inside it is a flight of stone steps, at the top of which, protected
by a bronze door, stands a simple monumental urn of bronze on a stone
pedestal. Under this is the grave itself; and it has always struck me
that there is no small amount of poetical feeling in this simple
ending to so much magnificence; the sermon may have been preached by
design, or it may have been by accident, but the lesson is there.

There is little difference between the three shrines, all of which are
decorated in the same manner. It is very difficult to do justice to
their beauty in words. Writing many thousand miles away from them, I
have the memory before me of a place green in winter, pleasant and
cool in the hottest summer; of peaceful cloisters, of the fragrance of
incense, of the subdued chant of richly robed priests, and the music
of bells; of exquisite designs, harmonious colouring, rich gilding.
The hum of the vast city outside is unheard here: Iyéyasu himself, in
the mountains of Nikkô, has no quieter resting-place than his
descendants in the heart of the city over which they ruled.

Besides the graves of the Shoguns, Zôjôji contains other lesser
shrines, in which are buried the wives of the second, sixth, and
eleventh Shoguns, and the father of Iyénobu, the sixth Shogun, who
succeeded to the office by adoption. There is also a holy place
called the Satsuma Temple, which has a special interest; in it is a
tablet in honour of Tadayoshi, the fifth son of Iyéyasu, whose title
was Matsudaira Satsuma no Kami, and who died young. At his death, five
of his retainers, with one Ogasasawara Kemmotsu at their head,
disembowelled themselves, that they might follow their young master
into the next world. They were buried in this place; and I believe
that this is the last instance on record of the ancient Japanese
custom of _Junshi_, that is to say, "dying with the master."

There are, during the year, several great festivals which are
specially celebrated at Zôjoji; the chief of these are the Kaisanki,
or founder's day, which is on the eighteenth day of the seventh month;
the twenty-fifth day of the first month, the anniversary of the death
of the monk Hônen, the founder of the Jôdo sect of Buddhism (that to
which the temple belongs); the anniversary of the death of Buddha, on
the fifteenth of the second month; the birthday of Buddha, on the
eighth day of the fourth month; and from the sixth to the fifteenth of
the tenth month.

At Uyéno is the second of the burial-grounds of the Shoguns. The
Temple Tô-yei-zan, which stood in the grounds of Uyéno, was built by
Iyémitsu, the third of the Shoguns of the house of Tokugawa, in the
year 1625, in honour of Yakushi Niôrai, the Buddhist Æsculapius. It
faces the Ki-mon, or Devil's Gate, of the castle, and was erected upon
the model of the temple of Hi-yei-zan, one of the most famous of the
holy places of Kiyôto. Having founded the temple, the next care of
Iyémitsu was to pray that Morizumi, the second son of the retired
emperor, should come and reside there; and from that time until 1868,
the temple was always presided over by a Miya, or member of the
Mikado's family, who was specially charged with the care of the tomb
of Iyéyasu at Nikkô, and whose position was that of an ecclesiastical
chief or primate over the east of Japan.

The temples in Yedo are not to be compared in point of beauty with
those in and about Peking; what is marble there is wood here. Still
they are very handsome, and in the days of its magnificence the Temple
of Uyéno was one of the finest. Alas! the main temple, the hall in
honour of the sect to which it belongs, the hall of services, the
bell-tower, the entrance-hall, and the residence of the prince of the
blood, were all burnt down in the battle of Uyéno, in the summer of
1868, when the Shogun's men made their last stand in Yedo against the
troops of the Mikado. The fate of the day was decided by two
field-pieces, which the latter contrived to mount on the roof of a
neighbouring tea-house; and the Shogun's men, driven out of the place,
carried off the Miya in the vain hope of raising his standard in the
north as that of a rival Mikado. A few of the lesser temples and
tombs, and the beautiful park-like grounds, are but the remnants of
the former glory of Uyéno. Among these is a temple in the form of a
roofless stage, in honour of the thousand-handed Kwannon. In the
middle ages, during the civil wars between the houses of Gen and Hei,
one Morihisa, a captain of the house of Hei, after the destruction of
his clan, went and prayed for a thousand days at the temple of the
thousand-handed Kwannon at Kiyomidzu, in Kiyôto. His retreat having
been discovered, he was seized and brought bound to Kamakura, the
chief town of the house of Gen. Here he was condemned to die at a
place called Yui, by the sea-shore; but every time that the
executioner lifted his sword to strike, the blade was broken by the
god Kwannon, and at the same time the wife of Yoritomo, the chief of
the house of Gen, was warned in a dream to spare Morihisa's life. So
Morihisa was reprieved, and rose to power in the state; and all this
was by the miraculous intervention of the god Kwannon, who takes such
good care of his faithful votaries. To him this temple is dedicated. A
colossal bronze Buddha, twenty-two feet high, set up some two hundred
years ago, and a stone lantern, twenty feet high, and twelve feet
round at the top, are greatly admired by the Japanese. There are only
three such lanterns in the empire; the other two being at Nanzenji--a
temple in Kiyôto, and Atsura, a shrine in the province of Owari. All
three were erected by the piety of one man, Sakuma Daizen no Suké, in
the year A.D. 1631.

Iyémitsu, the founder of the temple, was buried with his grandfather,
Iyéyasu, at Nikkô; but both of these princes are honoured with shrines
here. The Shoguns who are interred at Uyéno are Iyétsuna, Tsunayoshi,
Yoshimuné, Iyéharu, Iyénori, and Iyésada, the fourth, fifth, eighth,
tenth, eleventh, and thirteenth Princes of the Line. Besides them, are
buried five wives of the Shoguns, and the father of the eleventh


Once upon a time, a certain Rônin, Tajima Shumé by name, an able and
well-read man, being on his travels to see the world, went up to
Kiyôto by the Tôkaidô.[72] One day, in the neighbourhood of Nagoya, in
the province of Owari, he fell in with a wandering priest, with whom
he entered into conversation. Finding that they were bound for the
same place, they agreed to travel together, beguiling their weary way
by pleasant talk on divers matters; and so by degrees, as they became
more intimate, they began to speak without restraint about their
private affairs; and the priest, trusting thoroughly in the honour of
his companion, told him the object of his journey.

[Footnote 72: The road of the Eastern Sea, the famous high-road
leading from Kiyôto to Yedo. The name is also used to indicate the
provinces through which it runs.]

"For some time past," said he, "I have nourished a wish that has
engrossed all my thoughts; for I am bent on setting up a molten image
in honour of Buddha; with this object I have wandered through various
provinces collecting alms and (who knows by what weary toil?) we have
succeeded in amassing two hundred ounces of silver--enough, I trust,
to erect a handsome bronze figure."

What says the proverb? "He who bears a jewel in his bosom bears
poison." Hardly had the Rônin heard these words of the priest than an
evil heart arose within him, and he thought to himself, "Man's life,
from the womb to the grave, is made up of good and of ill luck. Here
am I, nearly forty years old, a wanderer, without a calling, or even a
hope of advancement in the world. To be sure, it seems a shame; yet if
I could steal the money this priest is boasting about, I could live at
ease for the rest of my days;" and so he began casting about how best
he might compass his purpose. But the priest, far from guessing the
drift of his comrade's thoughts, journeyed cheerfully on, till they
reached the town of Kuana. Here there is an arm of the sea, which is
crossed in ferry-boats, that start as soon as some twenty or thirty
passengers are gathered together; and in one of these boats the two
travellers embarked. About half-way across, the priest was taken with
a sudden necessity to go to the side of the boat; and the Rônin,
following him, tripped him up whilst no one was looking, and flung him
into the sea. When the boatmen and passengers heard the splash, and
saw the priest struggling in the water, they were afraid, and made
every effort to save him; but the wind was fair, and the boat running
swiftly under the bellying sails, so they were soon a few hundred
yards off from the drowning man, who sank before the boat could be
turned to rescue him.

When he saw this, the Rônin feigned the utmost grief and dismay, and
said to his fellow-passengers, "This priest, whom we have just lost,
was my cousin: he was going to Kiyôto, to visit the shrine of his
patron; and as I happened to have business there as well, we settled
to travel together. Now, alas! by this misfortune, my cousin is dead,
and I am left alone."

He spoke so feelingly, and wept so freely, that the passengers
believed his story, and pitied and tried to comfort him. Then the
Rônin said to the boatmen--

"We ought, by rights, to report this matter to the authorities; but as
I am pressed for time, and the business might bring trouble on
yourselves as well, perhaps we had better hush it up for the present;
and I will at once go on to Kiyôto and tell my cousin's patron,
besides writing home about it. What think you, gentlemen?" added he,
turning to the other travellers.

They, of course, were only too glad to avoid any hindrance to their
onward journey, and all with one voice agreed to what the Rônin had
proposed; and so the matter was settled. When, at length, they reached
the shore, they left the boat, and every man went his way; but the
Rônin, overjoyed in his heart, took the wandering priest's luggage,
and, putting it with his own, pursued his journey to Kiyôto.

On reaching the capital, the Rônin changed his name from Shumé to
Tokubei, and, giving up his position as a Samurai, turned merchant,
and traded with the dead man's money. Fortune favouring his
speculations, he began to amass great wealth, and lived at his ease,
denying himself nothing; and in course of time he married a wife, who
bore him a child.

Thus the days and months wore on, till one fine summer's night, some
three years after the priest's death, Tokubei stepped out on to the
verandah of his house to enjoy the cool air and the beauty of the
moonlight. Feeling dull and lonely, he began musing over all kinds of
things, when on a sudden the deed of murder and theft, done so long
ago, vividly recurred to his memory, and he thought to himself, "Here
am I, grown rich and fat on the money I wantonly stole. Since then,
all has gone well with me; yet, had I not been poor, I had never
turned assassin nor thief. Woe betide me! what a pity it was!" and as
he was revolving the matter in his mind, a feeling of remorse came
over him, in spite of all he could do. While his conscience thus smote
him, he suddenly, to his utter amazement, beheld the faint outline of
a man standing near a fir-tree in the garden: on looking more
attentively, he perceived that the man's whole body was thin and worn
and the eyes sunken and dim; and in the poor ghost that was before him
he recognized the very priest whom he had thrown into the sea at
Kuana. Chilled with horror, he looked again, and saw that the priest
was smiling in scorn. He would have fled into the house, but the ghost
stretched forth its withered arm, and, clutching the back of his neck,
scowled at him with a vindictive glare, and a hideous ghastliness of
mien, so unspeakably awful that any ordinary man would have swooned
with fear. But Tokubei, tradesman though he was, had once been a
soldier, and was not easily matched for daring; so he shook off the
ghost, and, leaping into the room for his dirk, laid about him boldly
enough; but, strike as he would, the spirit, fading into the air,
eluded his blows, and suddenly reappeared only to vanish again: and
from that time forth Tokubei knew no rest, and was haunted night and

At length, undone by such ceaseless vexation, Tokubei fell ill, and
kept muttering, "Oh, misery! misery!--the wandering priest is coming
to torture me!" Hearing his moans and the disturbance he made, the
people in the house fancied he was mad, and called in a physician, who
prescribed for him. But neither pill nor potion could cure Tokubei,
whose strange frenzy soon became the talk of the whole neighbourhood.

Now it chanced that the story reached the ears of a certain wandering
priest who lodged in the next street. When he heard the particulars,
this priest gravely shook his head, as though he knew all about it,
and sent a friend to Tokubei's house to say that a wandering priest,
dwelling hard by, had heard of his illness, and, were it never so
grievous, would undertake to heal it by means of his prayers; and
Tokubei's wife, driven half wild by her husband's sickness, lost not a
moment in sending for the priest, and taking him into the sick man's

But no sooner did Tokubei see the priest than he yelled out, "Help!
help! Here is the wandering priest come to torment me again. Forgive!
forgive!" and hiding his head under the coverlet, he lay quivering all
over. Then the priest turned all present out of the room, put his
mouth to the affrighted man's ear, and whispered--

"Three years ago, at the Kuana ferry, you flung me into the water; and
well you remember it."

But Tokubei was speechless, and could only quake with fear.

"Happily," continued the priest, "I had learned to swim and to dive as
a boy; so I reached the shore, and, after wandering through many
provinces, succeeded in setting up a bronze figure to Buddha, thus
fulfilling the wish of my heart. On my journey homewards, I took a
lodging in the next street, and there heard of your marvellous
ailment. Thinking I could divine its cause, I came to see you, and am
glad to find I was not mistaken. You have done a hateful deed; but am
I not a priest, and have I not forsaken the things of this world? and
would it not ill become me to bear malice? Repent, therefore, and
abandon your evil ways. To see you do so I should esteem the height of
happiness. Be of good cheer, now, and look me in the face, and you
will see that I am really a living man, and no vengeful goblin come
to torment you."

Seeing he had no ghost to deal with, and overwhelmed by the priest's
kindness, Tokubei burst into tears, and answered, "Indeed, indeed, I
don't know what to say. In a fit of madness I was tempted to kill and
rob you. Fortune befriended me ever after; but the richer I grew, the
more keenly I felt how wicked I had been, and the more I foresaw that
my victim's vengeance would some day overtake me. Haunted by this
thought, I lost my nerve, till one night I beheld your spirit, and
from that time forth fell ill. But how you managed to escape, and are
still alive, is more than I can understand."

"A guilty man," said the priest, with a smile, "shudders at the
rustling of the wind or the chattering of a stork's beak: a murderer's
conscience preys upon his mind till he sees what is not. Poverty
drives a man to crimes which he repents of in his wealth. How true is
the doctrine of Môshi,[73] that the heart of man, pure by nature, is
corrupted by circumstances."

[Footnote 73: Mencius.]

Thus he held forth; and Tokubei, who had long since repented of his
crime, implored forgiveness, and gave him a large sum of money,
saying, "Half of this is the amount I stole from you three years
since; the other half I entreat you to accept as interest, or as a

The priest at first refused the money; but Tokubei insisted on his
accepting it, and did all he could to detain him, but in vain; for the
priest went his way, and bestowed the money on the poor and needy. As
for Tokubei himself, he soon shook off his disorder, and thenceforward
lived at peace with all men, revered both at home and abroad, and ever
intent on good and charitable deeds.



Cats, foxes, and badgers are regarded with superstitious awe by the
Japanese, who attribute to them the power of assuming the human shape
in order to bewitch mankind. Like the fairies of our Western tales,
however, they work for good as well as for evil ends. To do them a
good turn is to secure powerful allies; but woe betide him who injures
them!--he and his will assuredly suffer for it. Cats and foxes seem to
have been looked upon as uncanny beasts all the world over; but it is
new to me that badgers should have a place in fairy-land. The island
of Shikoku, the southernmost of the great Japanese islands, appears to
be the part of the country in which the badger is regarded with the
greatest veneration. Among the many tricks which he plays upon the
human race is one, of which I have a clever representation carved in
ivory. Lying in wait in lonely places after dusk, the badger watches
for benighted wayfarers: should one appear, the beast, drawing a long
breath, distends his belly and drums delicately upon it with his
clenched fist, producing such entrancing tones, that the traveller
cannot resist turning aside to follow the sound, which,
Will-o'-the-wisp-like, recedes as he advances, until it lures him on
to his destruction. Love is, however, the most powerful engine which
the cat, the fox, and the badger alike put forth for the ruin of man.
No German poet ever imagined a more captivating water-nymph than the
fair virgins by whom the knight of Japanese romance is assailed: the
true hero recognizes and slays the beast; the weaker mortal yields and

The Japanese story-books abound with tales about the pranks of these
creatures, which, like ghosts, even play a part in the histories of
ancient and noble families. I have collected a few of these, and now
beg a hearing for a distinguished and two-tailed[74] connection of
Puss in Boots and the Chatte Blanche.

[Footnote 74: Cats are found in Japan, as in the Isle of Man, with
stumps, where they should have tails. Sometimes this is the result of
art, sometimes of a natural shortcoming. The cats of Yedo are of bad
repute as mousers, their energies being relaxed by much petting at the
hands of ladies. The Cat of Nabéshima, so says tradition, was a
monster with two tails.]


There is a tradition in the Nabéshima[75] family that, many years ago,
the Prince of Hizen was bewitched and cursed by a cat that had been
kept by one of his retainers. This prince had in his house a lady of
rare beauty, called O Toyo: amongst all his ladies she was the
favourite, and there was none who could rival her charms and
accomplishments. One day the Prince went out into the garden with O
Toyo, and remained enjoying the fragrance of the flowers until sunset,
when they returned to the palace, never noticing that they were being
followed by a large cat. Having parted with her lord, O Toyo retired
to her own room and went to bed. At midnight she awoke with a start,
and became aware of a huge cat that crouched watching her; and when
she cried out, the beast sprang on her, and, fixing its cruel teeth in
her delicate throat, throttled her to death. What a piteous end for so
fair a dame, the darling of her prince's heart, to die suddenly,
bitten to death by a cat! Then the cat, having scratched out a grave
under the verandah, buried the corpse of O Toyo, and assuming her
form, began to bewitch the Prince.

[Footnote 75: The family of the Prince of Hizen, one of the eighteen
chief Daimios of Japan.]

But my lord the Prince knew nothing of all this, and little thought
that the beautiful creature who caressed and fondled him was an impish
and foul beast that had slain his mistress and assumed her shape in
order to drain out his life's blood. Day by day, as time went on, the
Prince's strength dwindled away; the colour of his face was changed,
and became pale and livid; and he was as a man suffering from a deadly
sickness. Seeing this, his councillors and his wife became greatly
alarmed; so they summoned the physicians, who prescribed various
remedies for him; but the more medicine he took, the more serious did
his illness appear, and no treatment was of any avail. But most of all
did he suffer in the night-time, when his sleep would be troubled and
disturbed by hideous dreams. In consequence of this, his councillors
nightly appointed a hundred of his retainers to sit up and watch over
him; but, strange to say, towards ten o'clock on the very first night
that the watch was set, the guard were seized with a sudden and
unaccountable drowsiness, which they could not resist, until one by
one every man had fallen asleep. Then the false O Toyo came in and
harassed the Prince until morning. The following night the same thing
occurred, and the Prince was subjected to the imp's tyranny, while
his guards slept helplessly around him. Night after night this was
repeated, until at last three of the Prince's councillors determined
themselves to sit up on guard, and see whether they could overcome
this mysterious drowsiness; but they fared no better than the others,
and by ten o'clock were fast asleep. The next day the three
councillors held a solemn conclave, and their chief, one Isahaya
Buzen, said--

"This is a marvellous thing, that a guard of a hundred men should thus
be overcome by sleep. Of a surety, the spell that is upon my lord and
upon his guard must be the work of witchcraft. Now, as all our efforts
are of no avail, let us seek out Ruiten, the chief priest of the
temple called Miyô In, and beseech him to put up prayers for the
recovery of my lord."

[Illustration: THE CAT OF NABÉSHIMA.]

And the other councillors approving what Isahaya Buzen had said, they
went to the priest Ruiten and engaged him to recite litanies that the
Prince might be restored to health.

So it came to pass that Ruiten, the chief priest of Miyô In, offered
up prayers nightly for the Prince. One night, at the ninth hour
(midnight), when he had finished his religious exercises and was
preparing to lie down to sleep, he fancied that he heard a noise
outside in the garden, as if some one were washing himself at the
well. Deeming this passing strange, he looked down from the window;
and there in the moonlight he saw a handsome young soldier, some
twenty-four years of age, washing himself, who, when he had finished
cleaning himself and had put on his clothes, stood before the figure
of Buddha and prayed fervently for the recovery of my lord the Prince.
Ruiten looked on with admiration; and the young man, when he had made
an end of his prayer, was going away; but the priest stopped him,
calling out to him--

"Sir, I pray you to tarry a little: I have something to say to you."

"At your reverence's service. What may you please to want?"

"Pray be so good as to step up here, and have a little talk."

"By your reverence's leave;" and with this he went upstairs.

Then Ruiten said--

"Sir, I cannot conceal my admiration that you, being so young a man,
should have so loyal a spirit. I am Ruiten, the chief priest of this
temple, who am engaged in praying for the recovery of my lord. Pray
what is your name?"

"My name, sir, is Itô Sôda, and I am serving in the infantry of
Nabéshima. Since my lord has been sick, my one desire has been to
assist in nursing him; but, being only a simple soldier, I am not of
sufficient rank to come into his presence, so I have no resource but
to pray to the gods of the country and to Buddha that my lord may
regain his health."

When Ruiten heard this, he shed tears in admiration of the fidelity of
Itô Sôda, and said--

"Your purpose is, indeed, a good one; but what a strange sickness
this is that my lord is afflicted with! Every night he suffers from
horrible dreams; and the retainers who sit up with him are all seized
with a mysterious sleep, so that not one can keep awake. It is very

"Yes," replied Sôda, after a moment's reflection, "this certainly must
be witchcraft. If I could but obtain leave to sit up one night with
the Prince, I would fain see whether I could not resist this
drowsiness and detect the goblin."

At last the priest said, "I am in relations of friendship with Isahaya
Buzen, the chief councillor of the Prince. I will speak to him of you
and of your loyalty, and will intercede with him that you may attain
your wish."

"Indeed, sir, I am most thankful. I am not prompted by any vain
thought of self-advancement, should I succeed: all I wish for is the
recovery of my lord. I commend myself to your kind favour."

"Well, then, to-morrow night I will take you with me to the
councillor's house."

"Thank you, sir, and farewell." And so they parted.

On the following evening Itô Sôda returned to the temple Miyô In, and
having found Ruiten, accompanied him to the house of Isahaya Buzen:
then the priest, leaving Sôda outside, went in to converse with the
councillor, and inquire after the Prince's health.

"And pray, sir, how is my lord? Is he in any better condition since I
have been offering up prayers for him?"

"Indeed, no; his illness is very severe. We are certain that he must
be the victim of some foul sorcery; but as there are no means of
keeping a guard awake after ten o'clock, we cannot catch a sight of
the goblin, so we are in the greatest trouble."

"I feel deeply for you: it must be most distressing. However, I have
something to tell you. I think that I have found a man who will detect
the goblin; and I have brought him with me."

"Indeed! who is the man?"

"Well, he is one of my lord's foot-soldiers, named Itô Sôda, a
faithful fellow, and I trust that you will grant his request to be
permitted to sit up with my lord."

"Certainly, it is wonderful to find so much loyalty and zeal in a
common soldier," replied Isahaya Buzen, after a moment's reflection;
"still it is impossible to allow a man of such low rank to perform the
office of watching over my lord."

"It is true that he is but a common soldier," urged the priest; "but
why not raise his rank in consideration of his fidelity, and then let
him mount guard?"

"It would be time enough to promote him after my lord's recovery. But
come, let me see this Itô Sôda, that I may know what manner of man he
is: if he pleases me, I will consult with the other councillors, and
perhaps we may grant his request."

"I will bring him in forthwith," replied Ruiten, who thereupon went
out to fetch the young man.

When he returned, the priest presented Itô Sôda to the councillor, who
looked at him attentively, and, being pleased with his comely and
gentle appearance, said--

"So I hear that you are anxious to be permitted to mount guard in my
lord's room at night. Well, I must consult with the other councillors,
and we will see what can be done for you."

When the young soldier heard this he was greatly elated, and took his
leave, after warmly thanking Buiten, who had helped him to gain his
object. The next day the councillors held a meeting, and sent for Itô
Sôda, and told him that he might keep watch with the other retainers
that very night. So he went his way in high spirits, and at nightfall,
having made all his preparations, took his place among the hundred
gentlemen who were on duty in the prince's bed-room.

Now the Prince slept in the centre of the room, and the hundred guards
around him sat keeping themselves awake with entertaining conversation
and pleasant conceits. But, as ten o'clock approached, they began to
doze off as they sat; and in spite of all their endeavours to keep one
another awake, by degrees they all fell asleep. Itô Sôda all this
while felt an irresistible desire to sleep creeping over him, and,
though he tried by all sorts of ways to rouse himself, he saw that
there was no help for it, but by resorting to an extreme measure, for
which he had already made his preparations. Drawing out a piece of oil
paper which he had brought with him, and spreading it over the mats,
he sat down upon it; then he took the small knife which he carried in
the sheath of his dirk, and stuck it into his own thigh. For awhile
the pain of the wound kept him awake; but as the slumber by which he
was assailed was the work of sorcery, little by little he became
drowsy again. Then he twisted the knife round and round in his thigh,
so that the pain becoming very violent, he was proof against the
feeling of sleepiness, and kept a faithful watch. Now the oil paper
which he had spread under his legs was in order to prevent the blood,
which might spurt from his wound, from defiling the mats.

So Itô Sôda remained awake, but the rest of the guard slept; and as he
watched, suddenly the sliding-doors of the Prince's room were drawn
open, and he saw a figure coming in stealthily, and, as it drew
nearer, the form was that of a marvellously beautiful woman some
twenty-three years of age. Cautiously she looked around her; and when
she saw that all the guard were asleep, she smiled an ominous smile,
and was going up to the Prince's bedside, when she perceived that in
one corner of the room there was a man yet awake. This seemed to
startle her, but she went up to Sôda and said--

"I am not used to seeing you here. Who are you?"

"My name is Itô Sôda, and this is the first night that I have been on

"A troublesome office, truly! Why, here are all the rest of the guard
asleep. How is it that you alone are awake? You are a trusty

"There is nothing to boast about. I'm asleep myself, fast and sound."

"What is that wound on your knee? It is all red with blood."

"Oh! I felt very sleepy; so I stuck my knife into my thigh, and the
pain of it has kept me awake."

"What wondrous loyalty!" said the lady.

"Is it not the duty of a retainer to lay down his life for his master?
Is such a scratch as this worth thinking about?"

Then the lady went up to the sleeping prince and said, "How fares it
with my lord to-night?" But the Prince, worn out with sickness, made
no reply. But Sôda was watching her eagerly, and guessed that it was O
Toyo, and made up his mind that if she attempted to harass the Prince
he would kill her on the spot. The goblin, however, which in the form
of O Toyo had been tormenting the Prince every night, and had come
again that night for no other purpose, was defeated by the
watchfulness of Itô Sôda; for whenever she drew near to the sick man,
thinking to put her spells upon him, she would turn and look behind
her, and there she saw Itô Sôda glaring at her; so she had no help for
it but to go away again, and leave the Prince undisturbed.

At last the day broke, and the other officers, when they awoke and
opened their eyes, saw that Itô Sôda had kept awake by stabbing
himself in the thigh; and they were greatly ashamed, and went home

That morning Itô Sôda went to the house of Isahaya Buzen, and told him
all that had occurred the previous night. The councillors were all
loud in their praises of Itô Sôda's behaviour, and ordered him to keep
watch again that night. At the same hour, the false O Toyo came and
looked all round the room, and all the guard were asleep, excepting
Itô Sôda, who was wide awake; and so, being again frustrated, she
returned to her own apartments.

Now as since Sôda had been on guard the Prince had passed quiet
nights, his sickness began to get better, and there was great joy in
the palace, and Sôda was promoted and rewarded with an estate. In the
meanwhile O Toyo, seeing that her nightly visits bore no fruits, kept
away; and from that time forth the night-guard were no longer subject
to fits of drowsiness. This coincidence struck Sôda as very strange,
so he went to Isahaya Buzen and told him that of a certainty this O
Toyo was no other than a goblin. Isahaya Buzen reflected for a while,
and said--

"Well, then, how shall we kill the foul thing?"

"I will go to the creature's room, as if nothing were the matter, and
try to kill her; but in case she should try to escape, I will beg you
to order eight men to stop outside and lie in wait for her."

Having agreed upon this plan, Sôda went at nightfall to O Toyo's
apartment, pretending to have been sent with a message from the
Prince. When she saw him arrive, she said--

"What message have you brought me from my lord?"

"Oh! nothing in particular. Be so look as to look at this letter;" and
as he spoke, he drew near to her, and suddenly drawing his dirk cut at
her; but the goblin, springing back, seized a halberd, and glaring
fiercely at Sôda, said--

"How dare you behave like this to one of your lord's ladies? I will
have you dismissed;" and she tried to strike Sôda with the halberd.
But Sôda fought desperately with his dirk; and the goblin, seeing that
she was no match for him, threw away the halberd, and from a beautiful
woman became suddenly transformed into a cat, which, springing up the
sides of the room, jumped on to the roof. Isahaya Buzen and his eight
men who were watching outside shot at the cat, but missed it, and the
beast made good its escape.

So the cat fled to the mountains, and did much mischief among the
surrounding people, until at last the Prince of Hizen ordered a great
hunt, and the beast was killed.

But the Prince recovered from his sickness; and Itô Sôda was richly


About sixty years ago, in the summertime, a man went to pay a visit at
a certain house at Osaka, and, in the course of conversation, said--

"I have eaten some very extraordinary cakes to-day," and on being
asked what he meant, he told the following story:--

"I received the cakes from the relatives of a family who were
celebrating the hundredth anniversary of the death of a cat that had
belonged to their ancestors. When I asked the history of the affair, I
was told that, in former days, a young girl of the family, when she
was about sixteen years old, used always to be followed about by a
tom-cat, who was reared in the house, so much so that the two were
never separated for an instant. When her father perceived this, he was
very angry, thinking that the tom-cat, forgetting the kindness with
which he had been treated for years in the house, had fallen in love
with his daughter, and intended to cast a spell upon her; so he
determined that he must kill the beast. As he was planning this in
secret, the cat overheard him, and that night went to his pillow, and,
assuming a human voice, said to him--

"'You suspect me of being in love with your daughter; and although you
might well be justified in so thinking, your suspicions are
groundless. The fact is this:--There is a very large old rat who has
been living for many years in your granary. Now it is this old rat who
is in love with my young mistress, and this is why I dare not leave
her side for a moment, for fear the old rat should carry her off.
Therefore I pray you to dispel your suspicions. But as I, by myself,
am no match for the rat, there is a famous cat, named Buchi, at the
house of Mr. So-and-so, at Ajikawa: if you will borrow that cat, we
will soon make an end of the old rat.'

"When the father awoke from his dream, he thought it so wonderful,
that he told the household of it; and the following day he got up very
early and went off to Ajikawa, to inquire for the house which the cat
had indicated, and had no difficulty in finding it; so he called upon
the master of the house, and told him what his own cat had said, and
how he wished to borrow the cat Buchi for a little while.

"'That's a very easy matter to settle,' said the other: 'pray take him
with you at once;' and accordingly the father went home with the cat
Buchi in charge. That night he put the two cats into the granary; and
after a little while, a frightful clatter was heard, and then all was
still again; so the people of the house opened the door, and crowded
out to see what had happened; and there they beheld the two cats and
the rat all locked together, and panting for breath; so they cut the
throat of the rat, which was as big as either of the cats: then they
attended to the two cats; but, although they gave them ginseng[76] and
other restoratives, they both got weaker and weaker, until at last
they died. So the rat was thrown into the river; but the two cats were
buried with all honours in a neighbouring temple."

[Footnote 76: A restorative in high repute. The best sorts are brought
from Corea.]


In the village of Iwahara, in the province of Shinshiu, there dwelt a
family which had acquired considerable wealth in the wine trade. On
some auspicious occasion it happened that a number of guests were
gathered together at their house, feasting on wine and fish; and as
the wine-cup went round, the conversation turned upon foxes. Among the
guests was a certain carpenter, Tokutarô by name, a man about thirty
years of age, of a stubborn and obstinate turn, who said--

"Well, sirs, you've been talking for some time of men being bewitched
by foxes; surely you must be under their influence yourselves, to say
such things. How on earth can foxes have such power over men? At any
rate, men must be great fools to be so deluded. Let's have no more of
this nonsense."

Upon this a man who was sitting by him answered--

"Tokutarô little knows what goes on in the world, or he would not
speak so. How many myriads of men are there who have been bewitched by
foxes? Why, there have been at least twenty or thirty men tricked by
the brutes on the Maki Moor alone. It's hard to disprove facts that
have happened before our eyes."

"You're no better than a pack of born idiots," said Tokutarô. "I will
engage to go out to the Maki Moor this very night and prove it. There
is not a fox in all Japan that can make a fool of Tokutarô."

"Thus he spoke in his pride; but the others were all angry with him
for boasting, and said--

"If you return without anything having happened, we will pay for five
measures of wine and a thousand copper cash worth of fish; and if you
are bewitched, you shall do as much for us."

Tokutarô took the bet, and at nightfall set forth for the Maki Moor by
himself. As he neared the moor, he saw before him a small bamboo
grove, into which a fox ran; and it instantly occurred to him that the
foxes of the moor would try to bewitch him. As he was yet looking, he
suddenly saw the daughter of the headman of the village of Upper
Horikané, who was married to the headman of the village of Maki.

"Pray, where are you going to, Master Tokutarô?" said she.

"I am going to the village hard by."

"Then, as you will have to pass my native place, if you will allow me,
I will accompany you so far."

Tokutarô thought this very odd, and made up his mind that it was a fox
trying to make a fool of him; he accordingly determined to turn the
tables on the fox, and answered--"It is a long time since I have had
the pleasure of seeing you; and as it seems that your house is on my
road, I shall be glad to escort you so far."

With this he walked behind her, thinking he should certainly see the
end of a fox's tail peeping out; but, look as he might, there was
nothing to be seen. At last they came to the village of Upper
Horikané; and when they reached the cottage of the girl's father, the
family all came out, surprised to see her.

"Oh dear! oh dear! here is our daughter come: I hope there is nothing
the matter."

And so they went on, for some time, asking a string of questions.

In the meanwhile, Tokutarô went round to the kitchen door, at the back
of the house, and, beckoning out the master of the house, said--

"The girl who has come with me is not really your daughter. As I was
going to the Maki Moor, when I arrived at the bamboo grove, a fox
jumped up in front of me, and when it had dashed into the grove it
immediately took the shape of your daughter, and offered to accompany
me to the village; so I pretended to be taken in by the brute, and
came with it so far."

On hearing this, the master of the house put his head on one side, and
mused a while; then, calling his wife, he repeated the story to her,
in a whisper.

But she flew into a great rage with Tokutarô, and said--

"This is a pretty way of insulting people's daughters. The girl is our
daughter, and there's no mistake about it. How dare you invent such

"Well," said Tokutarô, "you are quite right to say so; but still there
is no doubt that this is a case of witchcraft."

Seeing how obstinately he held to his opinion, the old folks were
sorely perplexed, and said--

"What do you think of doing?"

"Pray leave the matter to me: I'll soon strip the false skin off, and
show the beast to you in its true colours. Do you two go into the
store-closet, and wait there."

With this he went into the kitchen, and, seizing the girl by the back
of the neck, forced her down by the hearth.

"Oh! Master Tokutarô, what means this brutal violence? Mother! father!

So the girl cried and screamed; but Tokutarô only laughed, and said--

"So you thought to bewitch me, did you? From the moment you jumped
into the wood, I was on the look-out for you to play me some trick.
I'll soon make you show what you really are;" and as he said this, he
twisted her two hands behind her back, and trod upon her, and tortured
her; but she only wept, and cried--

"Oh! it hurts, it hurts!"

"If this is not enough to make you show your true form, I'll roast you
to death;" and he piled firewood on the hearth, and, tucking up her
dress, scorched her severely.

"Oh! oh! this is more than I can bear;" and with this she expired.

The two old people then came running in from the rear of the house,
and, pushing aside Tokutarô, folded their daughter in their arms, and
put their hands to her mouth to feel whether she still breathed; but
life was extinct, and not the sign of a fox's tail was to be seen
about her. Then they seized Tokutarô by the collar, and cried--

"On pretence that our true daughter was a fox, you have roasted her to
death. Murderer! Here, you there, bring ropes and cords, and secure
this Tokutarô!"

So the servants obeyed, and several of them seized Tokutarô and bound
him to a pillar. Then the master of the house, turning to Tokutarô,

"You have murdered our daughter before our very eyes. I shall report
the matter to the lord of the manor, and you will assuredly pay for
this with your head. Be prepared for the worst."

And as he said this, glaring fiercely at Tokutarô, they carried the
corpse of his daughter into the store-closet. As they were sending to
make the matter known in the village of Maki, and taking other
measures, who should come up but the priest of the temple called
Anrakuji, in the village of Iwahara, with an acolyte and a servant,
who called out in a loud voice from the front door--

"Is all well with the honourable master of this house? I have been to
say prayers to-day in a neighbouring village, and on my way back I
could not pass the door without at least inquiring after your welfare.
If you are at home, I would fain pay my respects to you."

As he spoke thus in a loud voice, he was heard from the back of the
house; and the master got up and went out, and, after the usual
compliments on meeting had been exchanged, said--

"I ought to have the honour of inviting you to step inside this
evening; but really we are all in the greatest trouble, and I must beg
you to excuse my impoliteness."

"Indeed! Pray, what may be the matter?" replied the priest. And when
the master of the house had told the whole story, from beginning to
end, he was thunderstruck, and said--

"Truly, this must be a terrible distress to you." Then the priest
looked on one side, and saw Tokutarô bound, and exclaimed, "Is not
that Tokutarô that I see there?"

"Oh, your reverence," replied Tokutarô, piteously, "it was this, that,
and the other: and I took it into my head that the young lady was a
fox, and so I killed her. But I pray your reverence to intercede for
me, and save my life;" and as he spoke, the tears started from his

"To be sure," said the priest, "you may well bewail yourself; however,
if I save your life, will you consent to become my disciple, and enter
the priesthood?"

"Only save my life, and I'll become your disciple with all my heart."

When the priest heard this, he called out the parents, and said to

"It would seem that, though I am but a foolish old priest, my coming
here to-day has been unusually well timed. I have a request to make of
you. Your putting Tokutarô to death won't bring your daughter to life
again. I have heard his story, and there certainly was no malice
prepense on his part to kill your daughter. What he did, he did
thinking to do a service to your family; and it would surely be better
to hush the matter up. He wishes, moreover, to give himself over to
me, and to become my disciple."

"It is as you say," replied the father and mother, speaking together.
"Revenge will not recall our daughter. Please dispel our grief, by
shaving his head and making a priest of him on the spot."

"I'll shave him at once, before your eyes," answered the priest, who
immediately caused the cords which bound Tokutarô to be untied, and,
putting on his priest's scarf, made him join his hands together in a
posture of prayer. Then the reverend man stood up behind him, razor in
hand, and, intoning a hymn, gave two or three strokes of the razor,
which he then handed to his acolyte, who made a clean shave of
Tokutarô's hair. When the latter had finished his obeisance to the
priest, and the ceremony was over, there was a loud burst of laughter;
and at the same moment the day broke, and Tokutarô found himself
alone, in the middle of a large moor. At first, in his surprise, he
thought that it was all a dream, and was much annoyed at having been
tricked by the foxes. He then passed his hand over his head, and found
that he was shaved quite bald. There was nothing for it but to get up,
wrap a handkerchief round his head, and go back to the place where his
friends were assembled.

"Hallo, Tokutarô! so you've come back. Well, how about the foxes?"

"Really, gentlemen," replied he, bowing, "I am quite ashamed to appear
before you."

Then he told them the whole story, and, when he had finished, pulled
off the kerchief, and showed his bald pate.

"What a capital joke!" shouted his listeners, and amid roars of
laughter, claimed the bet of fish, and wine. It was duly paid; but
Tokutarô never allowed his hair to grow again, and renounced the
world, and became a priest under the name of Sainen.

There are a great many stories told of men being shaved by the foxes;
but this story came under the personal observation of Mr. Shôminsai, a
teacher of the city of Yedo, during a holiday trip which he took to
the country where the event occurred; and I[77] have recorded it in
the very selfsame words in which he told it to me.

[Footnote 77: The author of the "Kanzen-Yawa," the book from which the
story is taken.]


One fine spring day, two friends went out to a moor to gather fern,
attended by a boy with a bottle of wine and a box of provisions. As
they were straying about, they saw at the foot of a hill a fox that
had brought out its cub to play; and whilst they looked on, struck by
the strangeness of the sight, three children came up from a
neighbouring village with baskets in their hands, on the same errand
as themselves. As soon as the children saw the foxes, they picked up a
bamboo stick and took the creatures stealthily in the rear; and when
the old foxes took to flight, they surrounded them and beat them with
the stick, so that they ran away as fast as their legs could carry
them; but two of the boys held down the cub, and, seizing it by the
scruff of the neck, went off in high glee.

The two friends were looking on all the while, and one of them,
raising his voice, shouted out, "Hallo! you boys! what are you doing
with that fox?"

The eldest of the boys replied, "We're going to take him home and sell
him to a young man in our village. He'll buy him, and then he'll boil
him in a pot and eat him."

"Well," replied the other, after considering the matter attentively,
"I suppose it's all the same to you whom you sell him to. You'd better
let me have him."

"Oh, but the young man from our village promised us a good round sum
if we could find a fox, and got us to come out to the hills and catch
one; and so we can't sell him to you at any price."

"Well, I suppose it cannot be helped, then; but how much would the
young man give you for the cub?"

"Oh, he'll give us three hundred cash at least."

"Then I'll give you half a bu;[78] and so you'll gain five hundred
cash by the transaction."

[Footnote 78: _Bu_. This coin is generally called by foreigners
"ichibu," which means "one bu." To talk of "_a hundred ichibus_" is as
though a Japanese were to say "_a hundred one shillings."_ Four bus
make a _riyo>,_ or ounce; and any sum above three bus is spoken of as
so many riyos and bus--as 101 riyos and three bus equal 407 bus. The
bu is worth about 1s. 4d.]

"Oh, we'll sell him for that, sir. How shall we hand him over to you?"

"Just tie him up here," said the other; and so he made fast the cub
round the neck with the string of the napkin in which the luncheon-box
was wrapped, and gave half a bu to the three boys, who ran away

The man's friend, upon this, said to him, "Well, certainly you have
got queer tastes. What on earth are you going to keep the fox for?"

"How very unkind of you to speak of my tastes like that. If we had not
interfered just now, the fox's cub would have lost its life. If we had
not seen the affair, there would have been no help for it. How could I
stand by and see life taken? It was but a little I spent--only half a
bu--to save the cub, but had it cost a fortune I should not have
grudged it. I thought you were intimate enough with me to know my
heart; but to-day you have accused me of being eccentric, and I see
how mistaken I have been in you. However, our friendship shall cease
from this day forth."

And when he had said this with a great deal of firmness, the other,
retiring backwards and bowing with his hands on his knees, replied--

"Indeed, indeed, I am filled with admiration at the goodness of your
heart. When I hear you speak thus, I feel more than ever how great is
the love I bear you. I thought that you might wish to use the cub as a
sort of decoy to lead the old ones to you, that you might pray them to
bring prosperity and virtue to your house. When I called you eccentric
just now, I was but trying your heart, because I had some suspicions
of you; and now I am truly ashamed of myself."

And as he spoke, still bowing, the other replied, "Really! was that
indeed your thought? Then I pray you to forgive me for my violent

When the two friends had thus become reconciled, they examined the
cub, and saw that it had a slight wound in its foot, and could not
walk; and while they were thinking what they should do, they spied out
the herb called "Doctor's Nakasé," which was just sprouting; so they
rolled up a little of it in their fingers and applied it to the part.
Then they pulled out some boiled rice from their luncheon-box and
offered it to the cub, but it showed no sign of wanting to eat; so
they stroked it gently on the back, and petted it; and as the pain of
the wound seemed to have subsided, they were admiring the properties
of the herb, when, opposite to them, they saw the old foxes sitting
watching them by the side of some stacks of rice straw.

"Look there! the old foxes have come back, out of fear for their cub's
safety. Come, we will set it free!" And with these words they untied
the string round the cub's neck, and turned its head towards the spot
where the old foxes sat; and as the wounded foot was no longer
painful, with one bound it dashed to its parents' side and licked them
all over for joy, while they seemed to bow their thanks, looking
towards the two friends. So, with peace in their hearts, the latter
went off to another place, and, choosing a pretty spot, produced the
wine bottle and ate their noon-day meal; and after a pleasant day,
they returned to their homes, and became firmer friends than ever.

Now the man who had rescued the fox's cub was a tradesman in good
circumstances: he had three or four agents and two maid-servants,
besides men-servants; and altogether he lived in a liberal manner. He
was married, and this union had brought him one son, who had reached
his tenth year, but had been attacked by a strange disease which
defied all the physician's skill and drugs. At last a famous physician
prescribed the liver taken from a live fox, which, as he said, would
certainly effect a cure. If that were not forthcoming, the most
expensive medicine in the world would not restore the boy to health.
When the parents heard this, they were at their wits' end. However,
they told the state of the case to a man who lived on the mountains.
"Even though our child should die for it," they said, "we will not
ourselves deprive other creatures of their lives; but you, who live
among the hills, are sure to hear when your neighbours go out
fox-hunting. We don't care what price we might have to pay for a fox's
liver; pray, buy one for us at any expense." So they pressed him to
exert himself on their behalf; and he, having promised faithfully to
execute the commission, went his way.

In the night of the following day there came a messenger, who
announced himself as coming from the person who had undertaken to
procure the fox's liver; so the master of the house went out to see

"I have come from Mr. So-and-so. Last night the fox's liver that you
required fell into his hands; so he sent me to bring it to you." With
these words the messenger produced a small jar, adding, "In a few days
he will let you know the price."

When he had delivered his message, the master of the house was greatly
pleased, and said, "Indeed, I am deeply grateful for this kindness,
which will save my son's life."

Then the goodwife came out, and received the jar with every mark of

"We must make a present to the messenger."

"Indeed, sir, I've already been paid for my trouble."

"Well, at any rate, you must stop the night here."

"Thank you, sir: I've a relation in the next village whom I have not
seen for a long while, and I will pass the night with him;" and so he
took his leave, and went away.

The parents lost no time in sending to let the physician know that
they had procured the fox's liver. The next day the doctor came and
compounded a medicine for the patient, which at once produced a good
effect, and there was no little joy in the household. As luck would
have it, three days after this the man whom they had commissioned to
buy the fox's liver came to the house; so the goodwife hurried out to
meet him and welcome him.

"How quickly you fulfilled our wishes, and how kind of you to send at
once! The doctor prepared the medicine, and now our boy can get up and
walk about the room; and it's all owing to your goodness."

"Wait a bit!" cried the guest, who did not know what to make of the
joy of the two parents. "The commission with which you entrusted me
about the fox's liver turned out to be a matter of impossibility, so I
came to-day to make my excuses; and now I really can't understand what
you are so grateful to me for."

"We are thanking you, sir," replied the master of the house, bowing
with his hands on the ground, "for the fox's liver which we asked you
to procure for us."

"I really am perfectly unaware of having sent you a fox's liver: there
must be some mistake here. Pray inquire carefully into the matter."

"Well, this is very strange. Four nights ago, a man of some five or
six and thirty years of age came with a verbal message from you, to
the effect that you had sent him with a fox's liver, which you had
just procured, and said that he would come and tell us the price
another day. When we asked him to spend the night here, he answered
that he would lodge with a relation in the next village, and went

The visitor was more and more lost in amazement, and; leaning his head
on one side in deep thought, confessed that he could make nothing of
it. As for the husband and wife, they felt quite out of countenance at
having thanked a man so warmly for favours of which he denied all
knowledge; and so the visitor took his leave, and went home.

That night there appeared at the pillow of the master of the house a
woman of about one or two and thirty years of age, who said, "I am the
fox that lives at such-and-such a mountain. Last spring, when I was
taking out my cub to play, it was carried off by some boys, and only
saved by your goodness. The desire to requite this kindness pierced me
to the quick. At last, when calamity attacked your house, I thought
that I might be of use to you. Your son's illness could not be cured
without a liver taken from a live fox, so to repay your kindness I
killed my cub and took out its liver; then its sire, disguising
himself as a messenger, brought it to your house."

And as she spoke, the fox shed tears; and the master of the house,
wishing to thank her, moved in bed, upon which his wife awoke and
asked him what was the matter; but he too, to her great astonishment,
was biting the pillow and weeping bitterly.

"Why are you weeping thus?" asked she.

At last he sat up in bed, and said, "Last spring, when I was out on a
pleasure excursion, I was the means of saving the life of a fox's cub,
as I told you at the time. The other day I told Mr. So-and-so that,
although my son were to die before my eyes, I would not be the means
of killing a fox on purpose; but asked him, in case he heard of any
hunter killing a fox, to buy it for me. How the foxes came to hear of
this I don't know; but the foxes to whom I had shown kindness killed
their own cub and took out the liver; and the old dog-fox, disguising
himself as a messenger from the person to whom we had confided the
commission, came here with it. His mate has just been at my
pillow-side and told me all about it; hence it was that, in spite of
myself, I was moved to tears."

[Illustration: THE FEAST OF INARI SAMA.]

When she heard this, the goodwife likewise was blinded by her tears,
and for a while they lay lost in thought; but at last, coming to
themselves, they lighted the lamp on the shelf on which the family
idol stood, and spent the night in reciting prayers and praises, and
the next day they published the matter to the household and to their
relations and friends. Now, although there are instances of men
killing their own children to requite a favour, there is no other
example of foxes having done such a thing; so the story became the
talk of the whole country.

Now, the boy who had recovered through the efficacy of this medicine
selected the prettiest spot on the premises to erect a shrine to Inari
Sama,[79] the Fox God, and offered sacrifice to the two old foxes, for
whom he purchased the highest rank at the court of the Mikado.

[Footnote 79: Inari Sama is the title under which was deified a
certain mythical personage, called Uga, to whom tradition attributes
the honour of having first discovered and cultivated the rice-plant.
He is represented carrying a few ears of rice, and is symbolized by a
snake guarding a bale of rice grain. The foxes wait upon him, and do
his bidding. Inasmuch as rice is the most important and necessary
product of Japan, the honours which Inari Sama receives are
extraordinary. Almost every house in the country contains somewhere
about the grounds a pretty little shrine in his honour; and on a
certain day of the second month of the year his feast is celebrated
with much beating of drums and other noises, in which the children
take a special delight. "On this day," says the Ô-Satsuyô, a Japanese
cyclopædia, "at Yedo, where there are myriads upon myriads of shrines
to Inari Sama, there are all sorts of ceremonies. Long banners with
inscriptions are erected, lamps and lanterns are hung up, and the
houses are decked with various dolls and figures; the sound of flutes
and drums is heard, the people dance and make holiday according to
their fancy. In short, it is the most bustling festival of the Yedo

       *       *       *       *       *

The passage in the tale which speaks of rank being purchased for the
foxes at the court of the Mikado is, of course, a piece of nonsense.
"The saints who are worshipped in Japan," writes a native authority,
"are men who, in the remote ages, when the country was developing
itself, were sages, and by their great and virtuous deeds having
earned the gratitude of future generations, received divine honours
after their death. How can the Son of Heaven, who is the father and
mother of his people, turn dealer in ranks and honours? If rank were a
matter of barter, it would cease to be a reward to the virtuous."

All matters connected with the shrines of the Shintô, or indigenous
religion, are confided to the superintendence of the families of
Yoshida and Fushimi, Kugés or nobles of the Mikado's court at Kiyôto.
The affairs of the Buddhist or imported religion are under the care of
the family of Kanjuji. As it is necessary that those who as priests
perform the honourable office of serving the gods should be persons of
some standing, a certain small rank is procured for them through the
intervention of the representatives of the above noble families, who,
on the issuing of the required patent, receive as their perquisite a
fee, which, although insignificant in itself, is yet of importance to
the poor Kugés, whose penniless condition forms a great contrast to
the wealth of their inferiors in rank, the Daimios. I believe that
this is the only case in which rank can be bought or sold in Japan. In
China, on the contrary, in spite of what has been written by Meadows
and other admirers of the examination system, a man can be what he
pleases by paying for it; and the coveted button, which is nominally
the reward of learning and ability, is more often the prize of wealthy

The saints who are alluded to above are the saints of the whole
country, as distinct from those who for special deeds are locally
worshipped. To this innumerable class frequent allusion is made in
these Tales.

Touching the remedy of the fox's liver, prescribed in the tale, I may
add that there would be nothing strange in this to a person acquainted
with the Chinese pharmacopoeia, which the Japanese long exclusively
followed, although they are now successfully studying the art of
healing as practised in the West. When I was at Peking, I saw a
Chinese physician prescribe a decoction of three scorpions for a child
struck down with fever; and on another occasion a groom of mine,
suffering from dysentery, was treated with acupuncture of the tongue.
The art of medicine would appear to be at the present time in China
much in the state in which it existed in Europe in the sixteenth
century, when the excretions and secretions of all manner of animals,
saurians, and venomous snakes and insects, and even live bugs, were
administered to patients. "Some physicians," says Matthiolus, "use the
ashes of scorpions, burnt alive, for retention caused by either renal
or vesical calculi. But I have myself thoroughly experienced the
utility of an oil I make myself, whereof scorpions form a very large
portion of the ingredients. If only the region of the heart and all
the pulses of the body be anointed with it, it will free the patients
from the effects of all kinds of poisons taken by the mouth, corrosive
ones excepted." Decoctions of Egyptian mummies were much commended,
and often prescribed with due academical solemnity; and the bones of
the human skull, pulverized and administered with oil, were used as a
specific in cases of renal calculus. (See Petri Andreæ Matthioli
Opera, 1574.)

These remarks were made to me by a medical gentleman to whom I
mentioned the Chinese doctor's prescription of scorpion tea, and they
seem to me so curious that I insert them for comparison's sake.


It is a common saying among men, that to forget favours received is
the part of a bird or a beast: an ungrateful man will be ill spoken of
by all the world. And yet even birds and beasts will show gratitude;
so that a man who does not requite a favour is worse even than dumb
brutes. Is not this a disgrace?

Once upon a time, in a hut at a place called Namékata, in Hitachi,
there lived an old priest famous neither for learning nor wisdom, but
bent only on passing his days in prayer and meditation. He had not
even a child to wait upon him, but prepared his food with his own
hands. Night and morning he recited the prayer "Namu Amida Butsu,"[80]
intent upon that alone. Although the fame of his virtue did not reach
far, yet his neighbours respected and revered him, and often brought
him food and raiment; and when his roof or his walls fell out of
repair, they would mend them for him; so for the things of this world
he took no thought.

[Footnote 80: A Buddhist prayer, in which something approaching to the
sounds of the original Sanscrit has been preserved. The meaning of the
prayer is explained as, "Save us, eternal Buddha!" Many even of the
priests who repeat it know it only as a formula, without understanding

One very cold night, when he little thought any one was outside, he
heard a voice calling "Your reverence! your reverence!" So he rose and
went out to see who it was, and there he beheld an old badger
standing. Any ordinary man would have been greatly alarmed at the
apparition; but the priest, being such as he has been described above,
showed no sign of fear, but asked the creature its business. Upon this
the badger respectfully bent its knees, and said--

"Hitherto, sir, my lair has been in the mountains, and of snow or
frost I have taken no heed; but now I am growing old, and this severe
cold is more than I can bear. I pray you to let me enter and warm
myself at the fire of your cottage, that I may live through this
bitter night."

When the priest heard what a helpless state the beast was reduced to,
he was filled with pity, and said--

"That's a very slight matter: make haste and come in and warm

The badger, delighted with so good a reception, went into the hut, and
squatting down by the fire began to warm itself; and the priest, with
renewed fervour, recited his prayers and struck his bell before the
image of Buddha, looking straight before him. After two hours the
badger took its leave, with profuse expressions of thanks, and went
out; and from that time forth it came every night to the hut. As the
badger would collect and bring with it dried branches and dead leaves
from the hills for firewood, the priest at last became very friendly
with it, and got used to its company; so that if ever, as the night
wore on, the badger did not arrive, he used to miss it, and wonder why
it did not come. When the winter was over, and the spring-time came at
the end of the second month, the Badger gave up its visits, and was no
more seen; but, on the return of the winter, the beast resumed its old
habit of coming to the hut. When this practice had gone on for ten
years, one day the badger said to the priest, "Through your
reverence's kindness for all these years, I have been able to pass the
winter nights in comfort. Your favours are such, that during all my
life, and even after my death, I must remember them. What can I do to
requite them? If there is anything that you wish for, pray tell me."

The priest, smiling at this speech, answered, "Being such as I am, I
have no desire and no wishes. Glad as I am to hear your kind
intentions, there is nothing that I can ask you to do for me. You need
feel no anxiety on my account. As long as I live, when the winter
comes, you shall be welcome here." The badger, on hearing this, could
not conceal its admiration of the depth of the old man's benevolence;
but having so much to be grateful for, it felt hurt at not being able
to requite it. As this subject was often renewed between them, the
priest at last, touched by the goodness of the badger's heart, said,
"Since I have shaven my head, renounced the world, and forsaken the
pleasures of this life, I have no desire to gratify, yet I own I
should like to possess three riyos in gold. Food and raiment I receive
by the favour of the villagers, so I take no heed for those things.
Were I to die to-morrow, and attain my wish of being born again into
the next world, the same kind folk have promised to meet and bury my
body. Thus, although I have no other reason to wish for money, still
if I had three riyos I would offer them up at some holy shrine, that
masses and prayers might be said for me, whereby I might enter into
salvation. Yet I would not get this money by violent or unlawful
means; I only think of what might be if I had it. So you see, since
you have expressed such kind feelings towards me, I have told you what
is on my mind." When the priest had done speaking, the badger leant
its head on one side with a puzzled and anxious look, so much so that
the old man was sorry he had expressed a wish which seemed to give the
beast trouble, and tried to retract what he had said. "Posthumous
honours, after all, are the wish of ordinary men. I, who am a priest,
ought not to entertain such thoughts, or to want money; so pray pay no
attention to what I have said;" and the badger, feigning assent to
what the priest had impressed upon it, returned to the hills as usual.

From that time forth the badger came no more to the hut. The priest
thought this very strange, but imagined either that the badger stayed
away because it did not like to come without the money, or that it had
been killed in an attempt to steal it; and he blamed himself for
having added to his sins for no purpose, repenting when it was too
late: persuaded, however, that the badger must have been killed, he
passed his time in putting up prayers upon prayers for it.

After three years had gone by, one night the old man heard a voice
near his door calling out, "Your reverence! your reverence!"

As the voice was like that of the badger, he jumped up as soon as he
heard it, and ran out to open the door; and there, sure enough, was
the badger. The priest, in great delight, cried out, "And so you are
safe and sound, after all! Why have you been so long without coming
here? I have been expecting you anxiously this long while."

So the badger came into the hut, and said, "If the money which you
required had been for unlawful purposes, I could easily have procured
as much as ever you might have wanted; but when I heard that it was to
be offered to a temple for masses for your soul, I thought that, if I
were to steal the hidden treasure of some other man, you could not
apply to a sacred purpose money which had been obtained at the expense
of his sorrow. So I went to the island of Sado,[81] and gathering the
sand and earth which had been cast away as worthless by the miners,
fused it afresh in the fire; and at this work I spent months and
days." As the badger finished speaking, the priest looked at the money
which it had produced, and sure enough he saw that it was bright and
new and clean; so he took the money, and received it respectfully,
raising it to his head.

[Footnote 81: An island on the west coast of Japan, famous for its
gold mines.]

"And so you have had all this toil and labour on account of a foolish
speech of mine? I have obtained my heart's desire, and am truly

As he was thanking the badger with great politeness and ceremony, the
beast said, "In doing this I have but fulfilled my own wish; still I
hope that you will tell this thing to no man."

"Indeed," replied the priest, "I cannot choose but tell this story.
For if I keep this money in my poor hut, it will be stolen by thieves:
I must either give it to some one to keep for me, or else at once
offer it up at the temple. And when I do this, when people see a poor
old priest with a sum of money quite unsuited to his station, they
will think it very suspicious, and I shall have to tell the tale as it
occurred; but as I shall say that the badger that gave me the money
has ceased coming to my hut, you need not fear being waylaid, but can
come, as of old, and shelter yourself from the cold." To this the
badger nodded assent; and as long as the old priest lived, it came and
spent the winter nights with him.

From this story, it is plain that even beasts have a sense of
gratitude: in this quality dogs excel all other beasts. Is not the
story of the dog of Totoribé Yorodzu written in the Annals of Japan?
I[82] have heard that many anecdotes of this nature have been
collected and printed in a book, which I have not yet seen; but as the
facts which I have recorded relate to a badger, they appear to me to
be passing strange.

[Footnote 82: The author of the tale.]


In days of yore there lived a forefather of the Prince of Tosa who
went by the name of Yamanouchi Kadzutoyo. At the age of fourteen this
prince was amazingly fond of fishing, and would often go down to the
river for sport. And it came to pass one day that he had gone thither
with but one retainer, and had made a great haul, that a violent
shower suddenly came on. Now, the prince had no rain-coat with him,
and was in so sorry a plight that he took shelter under a willow-tree
and waited for the weather to clear; but the storm showed no sign of
abating, and there was no help for it, so he turned to the retainer
and said--

"This rain is not likely to stop for some time, so we had better hurry

As they trudged homeward, night fell, and it grew very dark; and their
road lay over a long bank, by the side of which they found a girl,
about sixteen years old, weeping bitterly. Struck with wonder, they
looked steadfastly at her, and perceived that she was exceedingly
comely. While Kadzutoyo stood doubting what so strange a sight could
portend, his retainer, smitten with the girl's charms, stepped up to
her and said--

"Little sister, tell us whose daughter you are, and how it comes that
you are out by yourself at night in such a storm of rain. Surely it is
passing strange."

"Sir," replied she, looking up through her tears, "I am the daughter
of a poor man in the castle town. My mother died when I was seven
years old, and my father has now wedded a shrew, who loathes and
ill-uses me; and in the midst of my grief he is gone far away on his
business, so I was left alone with my stepmother; and this very night
she spited and beat me till I could bear it no longer, and was on my
way to my aunt's, who dwells in yonder village, when the shower came
on; but as I lay waiting for the rain to stop, I was seized with a
spasm, to which I am subject, and was in great pain, when I had the
good luck to fall in with your worships."

As she spoke, the retainer fell deeply in love with her matchless
beauty, whilst his lord Kadzutoyo, who from the outset had not uttered
a word, but stood brooding over the matter, straightway drew his sword
and cut off her head. But the retainer stood aghast, and cried out--

"Oh! my young lord, what wicked deed is this that you've done? The
murder of a man's daughter will bring trouble upon us, for you may
rely on the business not ending here."

"You don't know what you're talking about," answered Kadzutoyo: "only
don't tell any one about it, that is all I ask;" and so they went home
in silence.

As Kadzutoyo was very tired, he went to bed, and slept undisturbed by
any sense of guilt; for he was brave and fearless. But the retainer
grew very uneasy, and went to his young lord's parents and said--

"I had the honour of attending my young lord out fishing to-day, and
we were driven home by the rain. And as we came back by the bank, we
descried a girl with a spasm in her stomach, and her my young lord
straightway slew; and although he has bidden me tell it to no one, I
cannot conceal it from my lord and my lady."

Kadzutoyo's parents were sore amazed, bewailing their son's
wickedness, and went at once to his room and woke him; his father shed
tears and said--

"Oh! dastardly cut-throat that you are! how dare you kill another
man's daughter without provocation? Such unspeakable villany is
unworthy a Samurai's son. Know, that the duty of every Samurai is to
keep watch over the country, and to protect the people; and such is
his daily task. For sword and dirk are given to men that they may slay
rebels, and faithfully serve their prince, and not that they may go
about committing sin and killing the daughters of innocent men.
Whoever is fool enough not to understand this will repeat his misdeed,
and will assuredly bring shame on his kindred. Grieved as I am that I
should take away the life which I gave you, I cannot suffer you to
bring dishonour on our house; so prepare to meet your fate!"

With these words he drew his sword; but Kadzutoyo, without a sign of
fear, said to his father--

"Your anger, sir, is most just; but remember that I have studied the
classics and understand the laws of right and wrong, and be sure I
would never kill another man without good cause. The girl whom I slew
was certainly no human being, but some foul goblin: feeling certain of
this, I cut her down. To-morrow I beg you will send your retainers to
look for the corpse; and if it really be that of a human being, I
shall give you no further trouble, but shall disembowel myself."

Upon this the father sheathed his sword, and awaited daybreak. When
the morning came, the old prince, in sad distress, bade his retainers
lead him to the bank; and there he saw a huge badger, with his head
cut off, lying dead by the roadside; and the prince was lost in wonder
at his son's shrewdness. But the retainer did not know what to make of
it, and still had his doubts. The prince, however, returned home, and
sending for his son, said to him--

"It's very strange that the creature which appeared to your retainer
to be a girl, should have seemed to you to be a badger."

"My lord's wonder is just," replied Kadzutoyo, smiling: "she appeared
as a girl to me as well. But here was a young girl, at night, far from
any inhabited place. Stranger still was her wondrous beauty; and
strangest of all that, though it was pouring with rain, there was not
a sign of wet on her clothes; and when my retainer asked how long she
had been there, she said she had been on the bank in pain for some
time; so I had no further doubt but that she was a goblin, and I
killed her."

"But what made you think she must be a goblin because her clothes were

"The beast evidently thought that, if she could bewitch us with her
beauty, she might get at the fish my retainer was carrying; but she
forgot that, as it was raining, it would not do for her clothes not to
be wet; so I detected and killed her."

When the old prince heard his son speak thus, he was filled with
admiration for the youth's sagacity; so, conceiving that Kadzutoyo had
given reliable proof of wisdom and prudence, he resolved to
abdicate;[83] and Kadzutoyo was proclaimed Prince of Tosa in his

[Footnote 83: _Inkiyô_, abdication. The custom of abdication is common
among all classes, from the Emperor down to his meanest subject. The
Emperor abdicates after consultation with his ministers: the Shogun
has to obtain the permission of the Emperor; the Daimios, that of the
Shogun. The abdication of the Emperor was called _Sentô_; that of the
Shogun, _Oyoshô_; in all other ranks it is called _Inkiyô_. It must be
remembered that the princes of Japan, in becoming Inkiyô, resign the
semblance and the name, but not the reality of power. Both in their
own provinces and in the country at large they play a most important
part. The ex-Princes of Tosa, Uwajima and Owari, are far more notable
men in Japan than the actual holders of the titles.]


[Illustration: A JAPANESE SERMON.]


"Sermons preached here on 8th, 18th, and 28th days of every month."
Such was the purport of a placard, which used to tempt me daily, as I
passed the temple Chô-ô-ji. Having ascertained that neither the
preacher nor his congregation would have any objection to my hearing
one of these sermons, I made arrangements to attend the service,
accompanied by two friends, my artist, and a scribe to take notes.

We were shown into an apartment adjoining a small chapel--a room
opening on to a tastily arranged garden, wealthy in stone lanterns and
dwarfed trees. In the portion of the room reserved for the priest
stood a high table, covered with a cloth of white and scarlet silk,
richly embroidered with flowers and arabesques; upon this stood a
bell, a tray containing the rolls of the sacred books, and a small
incense-burner of ancient Chinese porcelain. Before the table was a
hanging drum, and behind it was one of those high, back-breaking
arm-chairs which adorn every Buddhist temple. In one corner of the
space destined for the accommodation of the faithful was a low
writing-desk, at which sat, or rather squatted, a lay clerk, armed
with a huge pair of horn spectacles, through which he glared,
goblin-like, at the people, as they came to have their names and the
amount of their offerings to the temple registered. These latter must
have been small things, for the congregation seemed poor enough. It
was principally composed of old women, nuns with bald shiny pates and
grotesque faces, a few petty tradesmen, and half-a-dozen chubby
children, perfect little models of decorum and devoutness. One lady
there was, indeed, who seemed a little better to do in the world than
the rest; she was nicely dressed, and attended by a female servant;
she came in with a certain little consequential rustle, and displayed
some coquetry, and a very pretty bare foot, as she took her place,
and, pulling out a dandy little pipe and tobacco-pouch, began to
smoke. Fire-boxes and spittoons, I should mention, were freely handed
about; so that half-an-hour which passed before the sermon began was
agreeably spent. In the meanwhile, mass was being celebrated in the
main hall of the temple, and the monotonous nasal drone of the plain
chant was faintly heard in the distance. So soon as this was over, the
lay clerk sat himself down by the hanging drum, and, to its
accompaniment, began intoning the prayer, "Na Mu Miyô Hô Ren Go Kiyô,"
the congregation fervently joining in unison with him. These words,
repeated over and over again, are the distinctive prayer of the
Buddhist sect of Nichiren, to which the temple Chô-ô-ji is dedicated.
They are approximations to Sanscrit sounds, and have no meaning in
Japanese, nor do the worshippers in using them know their precise

Soon the preacher, gorgeous in red and white robes, made his
appearance, following an acolyte, who carried the sacred book called
_Hokké_ (upon which the sect of Nichiren is founded) on a tray covered
with scarlet and gold brocade. Having bowed to the sacred picture
which hung over the _tokonoma_--that portion of the Japanese room
which is raised a few inches above the rest of the floor, and which is
regarded as the place of honour--his reverence took his seat at the
table, and adjusted his robes; then, tying up the muscles of his face
into a knot, expressive of utter abstraction, he struck the bell upon
the table thrice, burnt a little incense, and read a passage from the
sacred book, which he reverently lifted to his head. The congregation
joined in chorus, devout but unintelligent; for the Word, written in
ancient Chinese, is as obscure to the ordinary Japanese worshipper as
are the Latin liturgies to a high-capped Norman peasant-woman. While
his flock wrapped up copper cash in paper, and threw them before the
table as offerings, the priest next recited a passage alone, and the
lay clerk irreverently entered into a loud dispute with one of the
congregation, touching some payment or other. The preliminary
ceremonies ended, a small shaven-pated boy brought in a cup of tea,
thrice afterwards to be replenished, for his reverence's refreshment;
and he, having untied his face, gave a broad grin, cleared his throat,
swallowed his tea, and beamed down upon us, as jolly, rosy a priest as
ever donned stole or scarf. His discourse, which was delivered in the
most familiar and easy manner, was an _extempore_ dissertation on
certain passages from the sacred books. Whenever he paused or made a
point, the congregation broke in with a cry of "Nammiyô!" a corruption
of the first three words of the prayer cited above, to which they
always contrived to give an expression or intonation in harmony with
the preacher's meaning.

"It is a matter of profound satisfaction to me," began his reverence
Nichirin, smiling blandly at his audience, "to see so many gentlemen
and ladies gathered together here this day, in the fidelity of their
hearts, to do honour to the feast of Kishimojin."[84]

[Footnote 84: Kishimojin, a female deity of the Buddhists.]

"Nammiyô! nammiyô!" self-depreciatory, from the congregation.

"I feel certain that your piety cannot fail to find favour with
Kishimojin. Kishimojin ever mourns over the tortures of mankind, who
are dwelling in a house of fire, and she ever earnestly strives to
find some means of delivering them.

"Nammiyô! nammiyô!" grateful and reverential.

"Notwithstanding this, it is useless your worshipping Kishimojin, and
professing to believe in her, unless you have truth in your hearts;
for she will not receive your offerings. Man, from his very birth, is
a creature of requirements; he is for ever seeking and praying. Both
you who listen, and I who preach, have all of us our wants and wishes.
If there be any person here who flatters himself that he has no wishes
and no wants, let him reflect. Does not every one wish and pray that
heaven and earth may stand for ever, that his country and family may
prosper, that there may be plenty in the land, and that the people may
be healthy and happy? The wishes of men, however, are various and
many; and these wishes, numberless as they are, are all known to the
gods from the beginning. It is no use praying, unless you have truth
in your heart. For instance, the prayer _Na Mu_ is a prayer committing
your bodies to the care of the gods; if, when you utter it, your
hearts are true and single, of a surety your request will be granted.
Now, this is not a mere statement made by Nichiren, the holy founder
of this sect; it is the sacred teaching of Buddha himself, and may not
be doubted."

"Nammiyô! nammiyô!" with profound conviction.

"The heart of man is, by nature, upright and true; but there are seven
passions[85] by which it is corrupted. Buddha is alarmed when he sees
the fires by which the world is being consumed. These fires are the
five lusts of this sinful world; and the five lusts are, the desire
for fair sights, sweet sounds, fragrant smells, dainty meats, and rich
trappings. Man is no sooner endowed with a body than he is possessed
by these lusts, which become his very heart; and, it being a law that
every man follows the dictates of his heart, in this way the body, the
lusts of the flesh, the heart, and the dictates of the heart, blaze up
in the consuming fire. 'Alas! for this miserable world!' said the
divine Buddha."

[Footnote 85: The seven passions are joy, anger, sadness, fear, love,
hatred, and desire.]

"Nammiyô! nammiyô!" mournful, and with much head-shaking.

"There is not so foul thing under heaven as the human body. The body
exudes grease, the eyes distil gums, the nose is full of mucus, the
mouth of slobbering spittle; nor are these the most impure secretions
of the body. What a mistake it is to look upon this impure body as
clean and perfect! Unless we listen to the teachings of Buddha, how
shall we be washed and purified?"

"Nammiyô, nammiyô!" from an impure and very miserable sinner, under
ten years of age.

"The lot of man is uncertain, and for ever running out of the beaten
track. Why go to look at the flowers, and take delight in their
beauty? When you return home, you will see the vanity of your
pleasure. Why purchase fleeting joys of loose women? How long do you
retain the delicious taste of the dainties you feast upon? For ever
_wishing_ to do this, _wishing_ to see that, _wishing_ to eat rare
dishes, _wishing_ to wear fine clothes, you pass a lifetime in fanning
the flames which consume you. What terrible matter for thought is
this! In the poems of the priest Saigiyo it is written, 'Verily I have
been familiar with the flowers; yet are they withered and scattered,
and we are parted. How sad!' The beauty of the convolvulus, how bright
it is!--and yet in one short morning it closes its petals and fades.
In the book called _Rin Jo Bo Satsu_[86] we are told how a certain
king once went to take his pleasure in his garden, and gladden his
eyes with the beauty of his flowers. After a while he fell asleep; and
as he slumbered, the women of his train began pulling the flowers to
pieces. When the king awoke, of all the glory of his flowers there
remained but a few torn and faded petals. Seeing this, the king said,
'The flowers pass away and die; so is it with mankind: we are born, we
grow old, we sicken and die; we are as fleeting as the lightning's
flash, as evanescent as the morning dew.' I know not whether any of
you here present ever fix your thoughts upon death; yet it is a rare
thing for a man to live for a hundred years. How piteous a thing it is
that in this short and transient life men should consume themselves in
a fire of lust! and if we think to escape from this fire, how shall we
succeed save only by the teaching of the divine Buddha?"

[Footnote 86: One of the Buddhist classics.]

"Nammiyô! nammiyô!" meekly and entreatingly.

"Since Buddha himself escaped from the burning flames of the lusts of
the flesh, his only thought has been for the salvation of mankind.
Once upon a time there was a certain heretic, called Rokutsuponji, a
reader of auguries, cunning in astrology and in the healing art. It
happened, one day, that this heretic, being in company with Buddha,
entered a forest, which was full of dead men's skulls. Buddha, taking
up one of the skulls and tapping it thus" (here the preacher tapped
the reading-desk with his fan), "said, 'What manner of man was this
bone when alive?--and, now that he is dead, in what part of the world
has he been born again?' The heretic, auguring from the sound which
the skull, when struck, gave forth, began to tell its past history,
and to prophesy the future. Then Buddha, tapping another skull, again
asked the same question. The heretic answered--

"'Verily, as to this skull, whether it belonged to a man or a woman,
whence its owner came or whither he has gone, I know not. What think
you of it?"

"'Ask me not,' answered Buddha. But the heretic pressed him, and
entreated him to answer; then Buddha said, 'Verily this is the skull
of one of my disciples, who forsook the lusts of the flesh.'

"Then the heretic wondered, and said--

"'Of a truth, this is a thing the like of which no man has yet seen.
Here am I, who know the manner of the life and of the death even of
the ants that creep. Verily, I thought that no thing could escape my
ken; yet here lies one of your disciples, than whom there lives no
nobler thing, and I am at fault. From this day forth I will enter your
sect, praying only that I may receive your teaching.'

"Thus did this learned heretic become a disciple of Buddha. If such
an one as he was converted, how much the more should after-ages of
ordinary men feel that it is through. Buddha alone that they can hope
to overcome the sinful lusts of the flesh! These lusts are the desires
which agitate our hearts: if we are free from these desires, our
hearts will be bright and pure, and there is nothing, save the
teaching of Buddha, which can ensure us this freedom. Following the
commands of Buddha, and delivered by him from our desires, we may pass
our lives in peace and happiness."

"Nammiyô! nammiyô!" with triumphant exultation.

"In the sacred books we read of conversion from a state of sin to a
state of salvation. Now this salvation is not a million miles removed
from us; nor need we die and be born again into another world in order
to reach it. He who lays aside his carnal lusts and affections, at
once and of a certainty becomes equal to Buddha. When we recite the
prayer _Na Mu Miyô Hô Ren Go Kiyô_, we are praying to enter this state
of peace and happiness. By what instruction, other than that of
Nichiren, the holy founder of this sect, can we expect to attain this
end? If we do attain it, there will be no difference between our state
and that of Buddha and of Nichiren. With this view we have learnt from
the pious founder of our sect that we must continually and thankfully
repeat the prayer _Na Mu Miyô Hô Ren Go Kiyô_, turning our hearts away
from lies, and embracing the truth."

Such were the heads of the sermon as they were taken down by my
scribe. At its conclusion, the priest, looking about him smiling, as
if the solemn truths he had been inculcating were nothing but a very
good joke, was greeted by long and loud cries of "Nammiyô! nammiyô!"
by all the congregation. Then the lay clerk sat himself down again by
the hanging drum; and the service ended as it had begun, by prayer in
chorus, during which the priest retired, the sacred book being carried
out before him by his acolyte.

Although occasionally, as in the above instance, sermons are delivered
as part of a service on special days of the month, they are more
frequently preached in courses, the delivery occupying about a
fortnight, during which two sermons are given each day. Frequently the
preachers are itinerant priests, who go about the towns and villages
lecturing in the main hall of some temple or in the guest-room of the
resident priest.

There are many books of sermons published in Japan, all of which have
some merit and much quaintness: none that I have seen are, however, to
my taste, to be compared to the "Kiu-ô Dô-wa," of which the following
three sermons compose the first volume. They are written by a priest
belonging to the Shingaku sect--a sect professing to combine all that
is excellent in the Buddhist, Confucian, and Shin Tô teaching. It
maintains the original goodness of the human heart; and teaches that
we have only to follow the dictates of the conscience implanted in us
at our birth, in order to steer in the right path. The texts are
taken from the Chinese classical books, in the same way as our
preachers take theirs from the Bible. Jokes, stories which are
sometimes untranslatable into our more fastidious tongue, and pointed
applications to members of the congregation, enliven the discourses;
it being a principle with the Japanese preacher that it is not
necessary to bore his audience into virtue.



Môshi[87] says, "Benevolence is the heart of man; righteousness is the
path of man. How lamentable a thing is it to leave the path and go
astray, to cast away the heart and not know where to seek for it!"

[Footnote 87: Môshi, the Japanese pronunciation of the name of the
Chinese philosopher Mêng Tse, whom Europeans call Mencius.]

The text is taken from the first chapter of Kôshi (the commentator),
on Môshi.

Now this quality, which we call benevolence, has been the subject of
commentaries by many teachers; but as these commentaries have been
difficult of comprehension, they are too hard to enter the ears of
women and children. It is of this benevolence that, using examples and
illustrations, I propose to treat.

A long time ago, there lived at Kiôto a great physician, called
Imaôji--I forget his other name: he was a very famous man. Once upon a
time, a man from a place called Kuramaguchi advertised for sale a
medicine which he had compounded against the cholera, and got Imaôji
to write a puff for him. Imaôji, instead of calling the medicine in
the puff a specific against the cholera, misspelt the word cholera so
as to make it simpler. When the man who had employed him went and
taxed him with this, and asked him why he had done so, he answered,
with a smile--

"As Kuramaguchi is an approach to the capital from the country, the
passers-by are but poor peasants and woodmen from the hills: if I had
written 'cholera' at length, they would have been puzzled by it; so I
wrote it in a simple way, that should pass current with every one.
Truth itself loses its value if people don't understand it. What does
it signify how I spelt the word cholera, so long as the efficacy of
the medicine is unimpaired?"

Now, was not that delightful? In the same way the doctrines of the
sages are mere gibberish to women and children who cannot understand
them. Now, my sermons are not written for the learned: I address
myself to farmers and tradesmen, who, hard pressed by their daily
business, have no time for study, with the wish to make known to them
the teachings of the sages; and, carrying out the ideas of my teacher,
I will make my meaning pretty plain, by bringing forward examples and
quaint stories. Thus, by blending together the doctrines of the
Shintô, Buddhist, and other schools, we shall arrive at something
near the true principle of things. Now, positively, you must not laugh
if I introduce a light story now and then. Levity is not my object: I
only want to put things in a plain and easy manner.

Well, then, the quality which we call benevolence is, in fact, a
perfection; and it is this perfection which Môshi spoke of as the
heart of man. With this perfect heart, men, by serving their parents,
attain to filial piety; by serving their masters they attain to
fidelity; and if they treat their wives, their brethren, and their
friends in the same spirit, then the principles of the five relations
of life will harmonize without difficulty. As for putting perfection
into practice, parents have the special duties of parents; children
have the special duties of children; husbands have the special duties
of husbands; wives have the special duties of wives. It is when all
these special duties are performed without a fault that true
benevolence is reached; and that again is the true heart of man.

For example, take this fan: any one who sees it knows it to be a fan;
and, knowing it to be a fan, no one would think of using it to blow
his nose in. The special use of a fan is for visits of ceremony; or
else it is opened in order to raise a cooling breeze: it serves no
other purpose. In the same way, this reading-desk will not do as a
substitute for a shelf; again, it will not do instead of a pillow: so
you see that a reading-desk also has its special functions, for which
you must use it. So, if you look at your parents in the light of your
parents, and treat them with filial piety, that is the special duty of
children; that is true benevolence; that is the heart of man. Now
although you may think that, when I speak in this way, I am speaking
of others, and not of yourselves, believe me that the heart of every
one of you is by nature pure benevolence. I am just taking down your
hearts as a shopman does goods from his shelves, and pointing out the
good and bad qualities of each; but if you will not lay what I say to
your own accounts, but persist in thinking that it is all anybody's
business but yours, all my labour will be lost.

Listen! You who answer your parents rudely, and cause them to weep;
you who bring grief and trouble on your masters; you who cause your
husbands to fly into passions; you who cause your wives to mourn; you
who hate your younger brothers, and treat your elder brothers with
contempt; you who sow sorrow broadcast over the world;--what are you
doing but blowing your noses in fans, and using reading-desks as
pillows? I don't mean to say that there are any such persons here;
still there are plenty of them to be found--say in the back streets in
India, for instance. Be so good as to mind what I have said.

Consider, carefully, if a man is born with a naturally bad
disposition, what a dreadful thing that is! Happily, you and I were
born with perfect hearts, which we would not change for a
thousand--no, not for ten thousand pieces of gold: is not this
something to be thankful for?

This perfect heart is called in my discourses, "the original heart of
man." It is true that benevolence is also called the original heart of
man; still there is a slight difference between the two. However, as
the inquiry into this difference would be tedious, it is sufficient
for you to look upon this original heart of man as a perfect thing,
and you will fall into no error. It is true that I have not the honour
of the personal acquaintance of every one of you who are present:
still I know that your hearts are perfect. The proof of this, that if
you say that which you ought not to say, or do that which you ought
not to do, your hearts within you are, in some mysterious way,
immediately conscious of wrong. When the man that has a perfect heart
does that which is imperfect, it is because his heart has become
warped and turned to evil. This law holds good for all mankind. What
says the old song?--"When the roaring waterfall is shivered by the
night-storm, the moonlight is reflected in each scattered drop."[88]
Although there is but one moon, she suffices to illuminate each little
scattered drop. Wonderful are the laws of Heaven! So the principle of
benevolence, which is but one, illumines all the particles that make
up mankind. Well, then, the perfection of the human heart can be
calculated to a nicety, So, if we follow the impulses of our perfect
heart in whatever we undertake, we shall perform our special duties,
and filial piety and fidelity will come to us spontaneously. You see
the doctrines of this school of philosophy are quickly learnt. If you
once thoroughly understand this, there will be no difference between
your conduct and that of a man who has studied a hundred years.
Therefore I pray you to follow the impulses of your natural heart;
place it before you as a teacher, and study its precepts. Your heart
is a convenient teacher to employ too: for there is no question of
paying fees; and no need to go out in the heat of summer, or the cold
of winter, to pay visits of ceremony to your master to inquire after
his health. What admirable teaching this is, by means of which you
can learn filial piety and fidelity so easily! Still, suspicions are
apt to arise in men's minds about things that are seen to be acquired
too cheaply; but here you can buy a good thing cheap, and spare
yourselves the vexation of having paid an extravagant price for it. I
repeat, follow the impulses of your hearts with all your might. In the
_Chin-yo_, the second of the books of Confucius, it is certified
beyond a doubt that the impulses of nature are the true path to
follow; therefore you may set to work in this direction with your
minds at ease.

[Footnote 88:
  "The moon looks on many brooks;
    The brooks see but one moon."--T. MOORE.]

Righteousness, then, is the true path, and righteousness is the
avoidance of all that is imperfect. If a man avoids that which is
imperfect, there is no need to point out how dearly he will be beloved
by all his fellows. Hence it is that the ancients have defined
righteousness as that which ought to be--that which is fitting. If a
man be a retainer, it is good that he should perform his service to
his lord with all his might. If a woman be married, it is good that
she should treat her parents-in-law with filial piety, and her husband
with reverence. For the rest, whatever is good, that is righteousness
and the true path of man.

The duty of man has been compared by the wise men of old to a high
road. If you want to go to Yedo or to Nagasaki, if you want to go out
to the front of the house or to the back of the house, if you wish to
go into the next room or into some closet or other, there is a right
road to each of these places: if you do not follow the right road,
scrambling over the roofs of houses and through ditches, crossing
mountains and desert places, you will be utterly lost and bewildered.
In the same way, if a man does that which is not good, he is going
astray from the high road. Filial piety in children, virtue in wives,
truth among friends--but why enumerate all these things, which are
patent?--all these are the right road, and good; but to grieve
parents, to anger husbands, to hate and to breed hatred in others,
these are all bad things, these are all the wrong road. To follow
these is to plunge into rivers, to run on to thorns, to jump into
ditches, and brings thousands upon ten thousands of disasters. It is
true that, if we do not pay great attention, we shall not be able to
follow the right road. Fortunately, we have heard by tradition the
words of the learned Nakazawa Dôni: I will tell you about that, all in
good time.

It happened that, once, the learned Nakazawa went to preach at Ikéda,
in the province of Sesshiu, and lodged with a rich family of the lower
class. The master of the house, who was particularly fond of sermons,
entertained the preacher hospitably, and summoned his daughter, a girl
some fourteen or fifteen years old, to wait upon him at dinner. This
young lady was not only extremely pretty, but also had charming
manners; so she arranged bouquets of flowers, and made tea, and played
upon the harp, and laid herself out to please the learned man by
singing songs. The preacher thanked her parents for all this, and

"Really, it must be a very difficult thing to educate a young lady up
to such a pitch as this."

The parents, carried away by their feelings, replied--

"Yes; when she is married, she will hardly bring shame upon her
husband's family. Besides what she did just now, she can weave
garlands of flowers round torches, and we had her taught to paint a
little;" and as they began to show a little conceit, the preacher

"I am sure this is something quite out of the common run. Of course
she knows how to rub the shoulders and loins, and has learnt the art
of shampooing?"

The master of the house bristled up at this and answered--

"I may be very poor, but I've not fallen so low as to let my daughter
learn shampooing."

The learned man, smiling, replied, "I think you are making a mistake
when you put yourself in a rage. No matter whether her family be rich
or poor, when a woman is performing her duties in her husband's house,
she must look upon her husband's parents as her own. If her honoured
father-in-law or mother-in-law fall ill, her being able to plait
flowers and paint pictures and make tea will be of no use in the
sick-room. To shampoo her parents-in-law, and nurse them
affectionately, without employing either shampooer or servant-maid, is
the right path of a daughter-in-law. Do you mean to say that your
daughter has not yet learnt shampooing, an art which is essential to
her following the right path of a wife? That is what I meant to ask
just now. So useful a study is very important."

At this the master of the house was ashamed, and blushing made many
apologies, as I have heard. Certainly, the harp and guitar are very
good things in their way; but to attend to nursing their parents is
the right road of children. Lay this story to heart, and consider
attentively where the right road lies. People who live near haunts of
pleasure become at last so fond of pleasure, that they teach their
daughters nothing but how to play on the harp and guitar, and train
them up in the manners and ways of singing-girls, but teach them next
to nothing of their duties as daughters; and then very often they
escape from their parents' watchfulness, and elope. Nor is this the
fault of the girls themselves, but the fault of the education which
they have received from their parents. I do not mean to say that the
harp and guitar, and songs and dramas, are useless things. If you
consider them attentively, all our songs incite to virtue and condemn
vice. In the song called "The Four Sleeves," for instance, there is
the passage, "If people knew beforehand all the misery that it brings,
there would be less going out with young ladies, to look at the
flowers at night." Please give your attention to this piece of poetry.
This is the meaning of it:--When a young man and a young lady set up a
flirtation without the consent of their parents, they think that it
will all be very delightful, and find themselves very much deceived.
If they knew what a sad and cruel world this is, they would not act as
they do. The quotation is from a song of remorse. This sort of thing
but too often happens in the world.

When a man marries a wife, he thinks how happy he will be, and how
pleasant it will be keeping house on his own account; but, before the
bottom of the family kettle has been scorched black, he will be like a
man learning to swim in a field, with his ideas all turned
topsy-turvy, and, contrary to all his expectations, he will find the
pleasures of housekeeping to be all a delusion. Look at that woman
there. Haunted by her cares, she takes no heed of her hair, nor of her
personal appearance. With her head all untidy, her apron tied round
her as a girdle, with a baby twisted into the bosom of her dress, she
carries some wretched bean sauce which she has been out to buy. What
sort of creature is this? This all comes of not listening to the
warnings of parents, and of not waiting for the proper time, but
rushing suddenly into housekeeping. And who is to blame in the matter?
Passion, which does not pause to reflect. A child of five or six years
will never think of learning to play the guitar for its own pleasure.
What a ten-million times miserable thing it is, when parents, making
their little girls hug a great guitar, listen with pleasure to the
poor little things playing on instruments big enough for them to climb
upon, and squeaking out songs in their shrill treble voices! Now I
must beg you to listen to me carefully. If you get confused and don't
keep a sharp look-out, your children, brought up upon harp and guitar
playing, will be abandoning their parents, and running away secretly.
Depend upon it, from all that is licentious and meretricious something
monstrous will come forth. The poet who wrote the "Four Sleeves"
regarded it as the right path of instruction to convey a warning
against vice. But the theatre and dramas and fashionable songs, if the
moral that they convey is missed, are a very great mistake. Although
you may think it very right and proper that a young lady should
practise nothing but the harp and guitar until her marriage, I tell
you that it is not so; for if she misses the moral of her songs and
music, there is the danger of her falling in love with some man and
eloping. While on this subject, I have an amusing story to tell you.

Once upon a time, a frog, who lived at Kiôto, had long been desirous
of going to see Osaka. One spring, having made up his mind, he started
off to see Osaka and all its famous places. By a series of hops on
all-fours he reached a temple opposite Nishi-no-oka, and thence by the
western road he arrived at Yamazaki, and began to ascend the mountain
called Tenôzan. Now it so happened that a frog from Osaka had
determined to visit Kiôto, and had also ascended Tenôzan; and on the
summit the two frogs met, made acquaintance, and told one another
their intentions. So they began to complain about all the trouble they
had gone through, and had only arrived half-way after all: if they
went on to Osaka and Kiôto, their legs and loins would certainly not
hold out. Here was the famous mountain of Tenôzan, from the top of
which the whole of Kiôto and Osaka could be seen: if they stood on
tiptoe and stretched their backs, and looked at the view, they would
save themselves from stiff legs. Having come to this conclusion, they
both stood up on tiptoe, and looked about them; when the Kiôto frog

"Really, looking at the famous places of Osaka, which I have heard so
much about, they don't seem to me to differ a bit from Kiôto. Instead
of giving myself any further trouble to go on, I shall just return

The Osaka frog, blinking with his eyes, said, with a contemptuous
smile, "Well, I have heard a great deal of talk about this Kiôto being
as beautiful as the flowers, but it is just Osaka over again. We had
better go home."

And so the two frogs, politely bowing to one another, hopped off home
with an important swagger.

Now, although this is a very funny little story, you will not
understand the drift of it at once. The frogs thought that they were
looking in front of them; but as, when they stood up, their eyes were
in the back of their heads, each was looking at his native place, all
the while that he believed himself to be looking at the place he
wished to go to. The frogs stared to any amount, it is true; but then
they did not take care that the object looked at was the right object,
and so it was that they fell into error. Please, listen attentively. A
certain poet says--

"Wonderful are the frogs! Though they go on all-fours in an attitude
of humility, their eyes are always turned ambitiously upwards."

A delightful poem! Men, although they say with their mouths, "Yes,
yes, your wishes shall be obeyed,--certainly, certainly, you are
perfectly right," are like frogs, with their eyes turned upwards. Vain
fools! meddlers ready to undertake any job, however much above their
powers! This is what is called in the text, "casting away your heart,
and not knowing where to seek for it." Although these men profess to
undertake any earthly thing, when it comes to the point, leave them to
themselves, and they are unequal to the task; and if you tell them
this, they answer--

"By the labour of our own bodies we earn our money; and the food of
our mouths is of our own getting. We are under obligation to no man.
If we did not depend upon ourselves, how could we live in the world?"

There are plenty of people who use these words, _myself_ and _my own_,
thoughtlessly and at random. How false is this belief that they
profess! If there were no system of government by superiors, but an
anarchy, these people, who vaunt themselves and their own powers,
would not stand for a day. In the old days, at the time of the war at
Ichi-no-tani, Minamoto no Yoshitsuné[89] left Mikusa, in the province
of Tamba, and attacked Settsu. Overtaken by the night among the
mountains, he knew not what road to follow; so he sent for his
retainer, Benkei, of the Temple called Musashi, and told him to light
the big torches which they had agreed upon. Benkei received his orders
and transmitted them to the troops, who immediately dispersed through
all the valleys, and set fire to the houses of the inhabitants, so
that one and all blazed up, and, thanks to the light of this fire,
they reached Ichi-no-tani, as the story goes. If you think
attentively, you will see the allusion. Those who boast about _my_
warehouse, _my_ house, _my_ farm, _my_ daughter, _my_ wife, hawking
about this "_my_" of theirs like pedlers, let there once come trouble
and war in the world, and, for all their vain-gloriousness, they will
be as helpless as turtles. Let them be thankful that peace is
established throughout the world. The humane Government reaches to
every frontier: the officials of every department keep watch night
and day. When a man sleeps under his roof at night, how can he say
that it is thanks to himself that he stretches his limbs in slumber?
You go your rounds to see whether the shutters are closed and the
front door fast, and, having taken every precaution, you lay yourself
down to rest in peace: and what a precaution after all! A board,
four-tenths of an inch thick, planed down front and rear until it is
only two-tenths of an inch thick. A fine precaution, in very truth!--a
precaution which may be blown down with a breath. Do you suppose such
a thing as that would frighten a thief from breaking in? This is the
state of the case. Here are men who, by the benevolence and virtue of
their rulers, live in a delightful world, and yet, forgetting the
mysterious providence that watches over them, keep on singing their
own praises. Selfish egotists!

[Footnote 89: The younger brother of Minamoto no Yoritomo, who first
established the government of the Shoguns. The battle of Ichi-no-tani
took place in the year A.D. 1184.]

"My property amounts to five thousand ounces of silver. I may sleep
with my eyes turned up, and eat and take my pleasure, if I live for
five hundred or for seven hundred years. I have five warehouses and
twenty-five houses. I hold other people's bills for fifteen hundred
ounces of silver." So he dances a fling[90] for joy, and has no fear
lest poverty should come upon him for fifty or a hundred years. Minds
like frogs, with eyes in the middle of their backs! Foolhardy
thoughts! A trusty castle of defence indeed! How little can it be
depended upon! And when such men are sleeping quietly, how can they
tell that they may not be turned into those big torches we were
talking about just now, or that a great earthquake will not be
upheaved? These are the chances of this fitful world. With regard to
the danger of too great reliance, I have a little tale to tell you. Be
so good as to wake up from your drowsiness, and listen attentively.

[Footnote 90: Literally, "a dance of the Province of Tosa."]

There is a certain powerful shell-fish, called the Sazayé, with a very
strong operculum. Now this creature, if it hears that there is any
danger astir, shuts up its shell from within, with a loud noise, and
thinks itself perfectly safe. One day a Tai and another fish, lost in
envy at this, said--

"What a strong castle this is of yours, Mr. Sazayé! When you shut up
your lid from within, nobody can so much as point a finger at you. A
capital figure you make, sir."

When he heard this, the Sazayé, stroking his beard, replied--

"Well, gentlemen, although you are so good as to say so, it's nothing
to boast of in the way of safety; yet I must admit that, when I shut
myself up thus, I do not feel much anxiety."

And as he was speaking thus, with the pride that apes humility, there
came the noise of a great splash; and the shell-fish, shutting up his
lid as quickly as possible, kept quite still, and thought to himself,
what in the world the noise could be. Could it be a net? Could it be a
fish-hook? What a bore it was, always having to keep such a sharp
look-out! Were the Tai and the other fish caught, he wondered; and he
felt quite anxious about them: however, at any rate, he was safe. And
so the time passed; and when he thought all was safe, he stealthily
opened his shell, and slipped out his head and looked all round him,
and there seemed to be something wrong--something with which he was
not familiar. As he looked a little more carefully, lo and behold
there he was in a fishmonger's shop, and with a card marked "sixteen
cash" on his back.

Isn't that a funny story? And so, at one fell swoop, all your boasted
wealth of houses and warehouses, and cleverness and talent, and rank
and power, are taken away. Poor shell-fish! I think there are some
people not unlike them to be found in China and India. How little self
is to be depended upon! There is a moral poem which says, "It is
easier to ascend to the cloudy heaven without a ladder than to depend
entirely on oneself." This is what is meant by the text, "If a man
casts his heart from him, he knows not where to seek for it." Think
twice upon everything that you do. To take no care for the examination
of that which relates to yourself, but to look only at that which
concerns others, is to cast your heart from you. Casting your heart
from you does not mean that your heart actually leaves you: what is
meant is, that you do not examine your own conscience. Nor must you
think that what I have said upon this point of self-confidences
applies only to wealth and riches. To rely on your talents, to rely on
the services you have rendered, to rely on your cleverness, to rely on
your judgment, to rely on your strength, to rely on your rank, and to
think yourself secure in the possession of these, is to place
yourselves in the same category with the shell-fish in the story. In
all things examine your own consciences: the examination of your own
hearts is above all things essential.

(The preacher leaves his place.)



"If a man loses a fowl or a dog, he knows how to reclaim it. If he
loses his soul, he knows not how to reclaim it. The true path of
learning has no other function than to teach us how to reclaim lost
souls." This parable has been declared to us by Môshi. If a dog, or a
chicken, or a pet cat does not come home at the proper time, its
master makes a great fuss about hunting for it, and wonders can it
have been killed by a dog or by a snake, or can some man have stolen
it; and ransacking the three houses opposite, and his two next-door
neighbours' houses, as if he were seeking for a lost child, cries,
"Pray, sir, has my tortoiseshell cat been with you? Has my pet chicken
been here?" That is the way in which men run about under such
circumstances. It's a matter of the utmost importance.

And yet to lose a dog or a tame chicken is no such terrible loss after
all. But the soul, which is called the lord of the body, is the master
of our whole selves. If men part with this soul for the sake of other
things, then they become deaf to the admonitions of their parents, and
the instructions of their superiors are to them as the winds of
heaven. Teaching is to them like pouring water over a frog's face;
they blink their eyes, and that is all; they say, "Yes, yes!" with
their mouths, but their hearts are gone, and, seeing, they are blind,
hearing, they are deaf. Born whole and sound, by their own doing they
enter the fraternity of cripples. Such are all those who lose their
souls. Nor do they think of inquiring or looking for their lost soul.
"It is my parents' fault; it is my master's fault; it is my husband's
fault; it is my elder brother's fault; it is Hachibei who is a rogue;
it is Matsu who is a bad woman." They content themselves with looking
at the faults of others, and do not examine their own consciences, nor
search their own hearts. Is not this a cruel state of things? They set
up a hue and cry for a lost dog or a pet chicken, but for this
all-important soul of theirs they make no search. What mistaken
people! For this reason the sages, mourning over such a state of
things, have taught us what is the right path of man; and it is the
receiving of this teaching that is called learning. The main object of
learning is the examination and searching of our own hearts; therefore
the text says, "The true path of learning has no other function than
to teach us how to reclaim lost souls." This is an exhaustive
exposition of the functions of learning. That learning has no other
object, we have this gracious pledge and guarantee from the sage. As
for the mere study of the antiquities and annals of China and Japan,
and investigation into literature, these cannot be called learning,
which is above all things an affair of the soul. All the commentaries
and all the books of all the teachers in the world are but so many
directories by which to find out the whereabouts of our own souls.
This search after our own souls is that which I alluded to just now as
the examination of our consciences. To disregard the examination of
our consciences is a terrible thing, of which it is impossible to
foresee the end; on the other hand, to practise it is most admirable,
for by this means we can on the spot attain filial piety and fidelity
to our masters. Virtue and vice are the goals to which the examination
and non-examination of our consciences lead. As it has been rightly
said, benevolence and malice are the two roads which man follows. Upon
this subject I have a terrible and yet a very admirable story to tell
you. Although I dare say you are very drowsy, I must beg you to listen
to me.

In a certain part of the country there was a well-to-do farmer, whose
marriage had brought him one son, whom he petted beyond all measure,
as a cow licks her calf. So by degrees the child became very sly: he
used to pull the horses' tails, and blow smoke into the bulls'
nostrils, and bully the neighbours' children in petty ways and make
them cry. From a peevish child he grew to be a man, and unbearably
undutiful to his parents. Priding himself on a little superior
strength, he became a drunkard and a gambler, and learned to wrestle
at fairs. He would fight and quarrel for a trifle, and spent his time
in debauchery and riotous living. If his parents remonstrated with
him, he would raise his voice and abuse them, using scurrilous
language. "It's all very well your abusing me for being dissolute and
disobedient. But, pray, who asked you to bring me into the world? You
brought me into the world, and I have to thank you for its miseries;
so now, if you hate dissolute people, you had better put me back where
I came from, and I shall be all right again." This was the sort of
insolent answer he would give his parents, who, at their wits' end,
began to grow old in years. And as he by degrees grew more and more of
a bully, unhappy as he made them, still he was their darling, and they
could not find it in their hearts to turn him out of the house and
disinherit him. So they let him pursue his selfish course; and he went
on from worse to worse, knocking people down, breaking their arms, and
getting up great disturbances. It is unnecessary to speak of his
parents' feelings. Even his relations and friends felt as if nails
were being hammered into their breasts. He was a thoroughly wicked

Now no one is from his mother's womb so wicked as this; but those who
persist in selfishness lose their senses, and gradually reach this
pitch of wickedness. What a terrible thing is this throwing away of
our hearts!

Well, this man's relations and friends very properly urged his
parents to disown him; but he was an only child, and so his parents,
although they said, "To-day we really will disinherit him," or
"To-morrow we really will break off all relations with him," still it
was all empty talk; and the years and months passed by, until the
scapegrace reached his twenty-sixth year, having heaped wickedness
upon wickedness; and who can tell how much trouble he brought upon his
family, who were always afraid of hearing of some new enormity? At
last they held a family council, and told the parents that matters had
come to such a pass that if they did not disown their son the rest of
the family must needs break off all communication with them: if he
were allowed to go on in his evil courses, the whole village, not to
speak of his relations, would be disgraced; so either the parents,
against whom, however, there was no ill-will felt, must be cut by the
family, or they must disinherit their son: to this appeal they begged
to have a distinct answer. The parents, reflecting that to separate
themselves from their relations, even for the sake of their own son,
would be an act of disrespect to their ancestors, determined to invite
their relations to assemble and draw up a petition to the Government
for leave to disinherit their son, to which petition the family would
all affix their seals according to form; so they begged them to come
in the evening, and bring their seals with them. This was their

There is an old saw which says, "The old cow licks her calf, and the
tigress carries her cub in her mouth." If the instinct of beasts and
birds prompt them to love their young, how much the more must it be a
bitter thing for a man to have to disown his own son! All this trouble
was the consequence of this youth casting his heart from him. Had he
examined his own conscience, the storm of waves and of wind would not
have arisen, and all would have been calm. But as he refused to listen
to his conscience, his parents, much against their will, were forced
to visit him with the punishment of disinheritance, which he had
brought upon himself. A sad thing indeed! In the poems of his
Reverence Tokuhon, a modern poet, there is the following passage:
"Since Buddha thus winds himself round our hearts, let the man who
dares to disregard him fear for his life." The allusion is to the
great mercy and love of the gods. The gods wish to make men examine
their consciences, and, day and night, help men to discern that which
is evil; but, although they point out our desires and pleasures, our
lusts and passions, as things to be avoided, men turn their backs upon
their own consciences. The love of the gods is like the love of
parents for their children, and men treat the gods as undutiful
children treat their parents. "Men who dare to disregard the gods, let
them fear for their lives." I pray you who hear me, one and all, to
examine your own consciences and be saved.

To return to the story of the vagabond son. As it happened, that day
he was gambling in a neighbouring village, when a friend from his own
place came up and told him that his relations had met together to
disinherit him; and that, fine fellow as he was, he would find it a
terrible thing to be disowned. Before he had heard him half out, the
other replied in a loud voice--

"What, do you mean to say that they are holding a family council
to-night to disinherit me? What a good joke! I'm sure I don't want to
be always seeing my father's and mother's blubbering faces; it makes
me quite sick to think of them: it's quite unbearable. I'm able to
take care of myself; and, if I choose to go over to China, or to live
in India, I should like to know who is to prevent me? This is the very
thing above all others for me. I'll go off to the room where they are
all assembled, and ask them why they want to disinherit me. I'll just
swagger like Danjurô [91] the actor, and frighten them into giving me
fifty or seventy ounces of silver to get rid of me, and put the money
in my purse, and be off to Kiôto or Osaka, where I'll set up a
tea-house on my own account; and enjoy myself to my heart's content! I
hope this will be a great night for me, so I'll just drink a cup of
wine for luck beforehand."

[Footnote 91: A famous actor of Yedo, who lived 195 years ago. He was
born at Sakura, in Shimôsa.]

And so, with a lot of young devils of his own sort, be fell to
drinking wine in teacups,[92] so that before nightfall they were all
as drunk as mud. Well, then, on the strength of this wine, as he was
setting out for his father's house, he said, "Now, then, to try my
luck," and stuck a long dirk in his girdle. He reached his own village
just before nightfall, thinking to burst into the place where he
imagined his relations to be gathered together, turning their
wisdom-pockets inside out, to shake out their small provision of
intelligence in consultation; and he fancied that, if he blustered and
bullied, he would certainly get a hundred ounces of silver out of
them. Just as he was about to enter the house, he reflected--

[Footnote 92: The ordinary wine-cup holding only a thimbleful, to
drink wine out of teacups is a great piece of debauchery--like
drinking brandy in tumblers.]

"If I show my face in the room where my relations are gathered
together, they will all look down on the ground and remain silent; so
if I go in shouting and raging, it will be quite out of harmony; but
if they abuse me, then I shall be in the right if I jump in on them
and frighten them well. The best plan will be for me to step out of
the bamboo grove which is behind the house, and to creep round the
verandah, and I can listen to these fellows holding their
consultation: they will certainly be raking up all sorts of scandal
about me. It will be all in harmony, then, if I kick down the shutters
and sliding-doors with a noise like thunder. And what fun it will be!"

As he thought thus to himself, he pulled off his iron-heeled sandals,
and stuck them in his girdle, and, girding up his dress round his
waist, left the bamboo grove at the back of the house, and, jumping
over the garden wicket, went round the verandah and looked in. Peeping
through a chink in the shutters, he could see his relations gathered
together in council, speaking in whispers. The family were sitting in
a circle, and one and all were affixing their seals to the petition of
disinheritance. At last, having passed from hand to hand, the document
came round to where the two parents were sitting. Their son, seeing
this, said--

"Come, now, it's win or lose! My parents' signing the paper shall be
the sign for me to kick open the door and jump into the middle of

So, getting ready for a good kick, he held his breath and looked on.

What terrible perversion man can allow his heart to come to! Môshi has
said that man by nature is good; but although not a particle of fault
can be found with what he has said, when the evil we have learned
becomes a second nature, men reach this fearful degree of wickedness.
When men come to this pass, Kôshi[93] and Môshi themselves might
preach to them for a thousand days, and they would not have strength
to reform. Such hardened sinners deserve to be roasted in iron pots in
the nethermost hell. Now, I am going to tell you how it came about
that the vagabond son turned over a new leaf and became dutiful, and
finally entered paradise. The poet says, "Although the hearts of
parents are not surrounded by dark night, how often they stray from
the right road in their affection for their children!"

[Footnote 93: Kôshi is the Japanese pronunciation of the name of the
Chinese philosopher Kung Ts[=u], or Kung Fu Ts[=u], whom we call

When the petition of disinheritance came round to the place where the
two parents were sitting, the mother lifted up her voice and wept
aloud; and the father, clenching his toothless gums to conceal his
emotion, remained with his head bent down: presently, in a husky
voice, he said, "Wife, give me the seal!"

But she returned no answer, and with tears in her eyes took a leather
purse, containing the seal, out of a drawer of the cupboard and placed
it before her husband. All this time the vagabond son, holding his
breath, was peeping in from outside the shutters. In the meanwhile,
the old man slowly untied the strings of the purse, and took out the
seal, and smeared on the colouring matter. Just as he was about to
seal the document, his wife clutched at his hand and said, "Oh, pray
wait a little."

The father replied, "Now that all our relations are looking on, you
must not speak in this weak manner."

But she would not listen to what he said, but went on--

"Pray listen to what I have to say. It is true that if we were to give
over our house to our undutiful son, in less than three years the
grass would be growing in its place, for he would be ruined. Still, if
we disinherit our child--the only child that we have, either in heaven
or upon earth--we shall have to adopt another in his place. Although,
if the adopted son turned out honest and dutiful, and inherited our
property, all would be well; still, what certainty is there of his
doing so? If, on the other hand, the adopted son turned out to be a
prodigal, and laid waste our house, what unlucky parents we should
be! And who can say that this would not be the case? If we are to be
ruined for the sake of an equally wicked adopted son, I had rather
lose our home for the sake of our own son, and, leaving out old
familiar village as beggars, seek for our lost boy on foot. This is my
fervent wish. During fifty years that we have lived together, this has
been the only favour that I have ever asked of you. Pray listen to my
prayer, and put a stop to this act of disinheritance. Even though I
should become a beggar for my son's sake, I could feel no resentment
against him."

So she spoke, sobbing aloud. The relations, who heard this, looked
round at one another, and watched the father to see what he would do;
and he (who knows with what thoughts in his head?) put back the seal
into the leather purse, and quickly drew the strings together, and
pushed back the petition to the relations.

"Certainly," said he, "I have lost countenance, and am disgraced
before all my family; however, I think that what the good wife has
just said is right and proper, and from henceforth I renounce all
thoughts of disinheriting my son. Of course you will all see a
weakness of purpose in what I say, and laugh at me as the cause of my
son's undutiful conduct. But laugh away: it won't hurt me. Certainly,
if I don't disinherit this son of mine, my house will be ruined before
three years are over our heads. To lay waste the house of generations
upon generations of my ancestors is a sin against those ancestors; of
this I am well aware. Further, if I don't disinherit my son, you
gentlemen will all shun me. I know that I am cutting myself off from
my relations. Of course you think that when I leave this place I shall
be dunning you to bestow your charity upon me; and that is why you
want to break off relations with me. Pray don't make yourselves
uneasy. I care no more for my duties to the world, for my impiety to
my ancestors, or for my separation from my family. Our son is our only
darling, and we mean to go after him, following him as beggars on
foot. This is our desire. We shall trouble you for no alms and for no
charity. However we may die, we have but one life to lose. For our
darling son's sake, we will lay ourselves down and die by the
roadside. There our bodies shall be manure for the trees of the
avenue. And all this we will endure cheerfully, and not utter a
complaint. Make haste and return home, therefore, all of you. From
to-morrow we are no longer on speaking terms. As for what you may say
to me on my son's account, I do not care."

And as his wife had done, he lifted up his voice and wept, shedding
manly tears. As for her, when she heard that the act of disinheritance
was not to be drawn up, her tears were changed to tears of joy. The
rest of the family remained in mute astonishment at so unheard-of a
thing, and could only stare at the faces of the two old people.

You see how bewildered parents must be by their love for their
children, to be so merciful towards them. As a cat carrying her young
in her mouth screens it from the sun at one time and brings it under
the light at another, so parents act by their children, screening
their bad points and bringing out in relief their good qualities. They
care neither for the abuse of others, nor for their duties to their
ancestors, nor for the wretched future in store for themselves.
Carried away by their infatuation for their children, and intoxicated
upon intoxication, the hearts of parents are to be pitied for their
pitifulness. It is not only the two parents in my story who are in
this plight; the hearts of all parents of children all over the world
are the same. In the poems of the late learned Ishida it is written,
"When I look round me and see the hearts of parents bewildered by
their love for their children, I reflect that my own father and mother
must be like them." This is certainly a true saying.

To return to the story: the halo of his parents' great kindness and
pity penetrated the very bowels of the prodigal son. What an admirable
thing! When he heard it, terrible and sly devil as he had been, he
felt as if his whole body had been squeezed in a press; and somehow or
other, although the tears rose in his breast, he could not for shame
lift up his voice and weep. Biting the sleeve of his dress, he lay
down on the ground and shed tears in silence. What says the verse of
the reverend priest Eni? "To shed tears of gratitude one knows not
why." A very pretty poem indeed! So then the vagabond son, in his
gratitude to his parents, could neither stand nor sit. You see the
original heart of man is by nature bright virtue, but by our selfish
pursuit of our own inclinations the brilliancy of our original virtue
is hidden.

To continue: the prodigal was pierced to the core by the great mercy
shown by his parents, and the brilliancy of his own original good
heart was enticed back to him. The sunlight came forth, and what
became of all the clouds of self-will and selfishness? The clouds were
all dispelled, and from the bottom of his soul there sprang the desire
to thank his parents for their goodness. We all know the story of the
rush-cutter who saw the moon rising between the trees on a moorland
hill so brightly, that he fancied it must have been scoured with the
scouring-rush which grew near the spot. When a man, who has been
especially wicked, repents and returns to his original heart, he
becomes all the more excellent, and his brightness is as that of the
rising moon scoured. What an admirable thing this is! So the son
thought to enter the room at once and beg his parents' forgiveness;
but he thought to himself, "Wait a bit. If I burst suddenly into the
room like this, the relations will all be frightened and not know what
to make of it, and this will be a trouble to my parents. I will put on
an innocent face, as if I did not know what has been going on, and
I'll go in by the front door, and beg the relations to intercede for
me with my parents." With stealthy step he left the back of the house,
and went round to the front. When he arrived there, he purposely made
a great noise with his iron-heeled sandals, and gave a loud cough to
clear his throat, and entered the room. The relations were all
greatly alarmed; and his parents, when they saw the face of their
wicked son, both shed tears. As for the son, he said not a word, but
remained weeping, with his head bent down. After a while, he addressed
the relations and said, "Although I have frequently been threatened
with disinheritance, and although in those days I made light of it,
to-night, when I heard that this family council had assembled, I
somehow or other felt my heart beset by anxiety and grief. However I
may have heaped wickedness upon wickedness up to the present moment,
as I shall certainly now mend my ways, I pray you to delay for a while
to-night's act of disinheritance. I do not venture to ask for a long
delay,--I ask but for thirty days; and if within that time I shall not
have given proofs of repentance, disinherit me: I shall not have a
word to say. I pray you, gentlemen, to intercede with my parents that
they may grant this delay of thirty days, and to present them my
humble apologies." With this he rubbed his head on the mat, as a
humble suppliant, in a manner most foreign to his nature.

The relations, after hearing the firm and resolute answer of the
parents, had shifted about in their places; but, although they were on
the point of leaving the house, had remained behind, sadly out of
harmony; when the son came in, and happily with a word set all in tune
again. So the relations addressed the parents, and said, "Pray defer
to-night's affair;" and laid the son's apologies at their feet. As for
the parents, who would not have disinherited their son even had he not
repented, how much the more when they heard what he said did they weep
for joy; and the relations, delighted at the happy event, exhorted the
son to become really dutiful; and so that night's council broke up. So
this son in the turn of a hand became a pious son, and the way in
which he served his parents was that of a tender and loving child. His
former evil ways he extinguished utterly.

The fame of this story rose high in the world; and, before half a year
had passed, it reached the ears of the lord of the manor, who, when he
had put on his noble spectacles and investigated the case, appointed
the son to be the head man of his village. You may judge by this what
this son's filial piety effected. Three years after these events, his
mother, who was on her death-bed, very sick, called for him and said,
"When some time since the consultation was being held about
disinheriting you, by some means or other your heart was turned, and
since then you have been a dutiful son above all others. If at that
time you had not repented, and I had died in the meanwhile, my soul
would have gone to hell without fail, because of my foolish conduct
towards you. But, now that you have repented, there is nothing that
weighs upon me, and there can be no mistake about my going to
paradise. So the fact of my becoming one of the saints will all be the
work of your filial piety." And the story goes, that with these words
the mother, lifting up her hands in prayer, died.

To be sure, by the deeds of the present life we may obtain a glimpse
into the future. If a man's heart is troubled by his misdeeds in this
life, it will again be tortured in the next. The troubled heart is
hell. The heart at rest is paradise. The trouble or peace of parents
depends upon their children. If their children are virtuous, parents
are as the saints: if their children are wicked, parents suffer the
tortures of the damned. If once your youthful spirits, in a fit of
heedlessness, have led you to bring trouble upon your parents and
cause them to weep, just consider the line of argument which I have
been following. From this time forth repent and examine your own
hearts. If you will become dutiful, your parents from this day will
live happy as the saints. But if you will not repent, but persist in
your evil ways, your parents will suffer the pains of hell. Heaven and
hell are matters of repentance or non-repentance. Repentance is the
finding of the lost heart, and is also the object of learning. I shall
speak to you further upon this point to-morrow evening.



Môshi has said, "There is the third finger. If a man's third or
nameless finger be bent, so that he cannot straighten it, although his
bent finger may cause him no pain, still if he hears of some one who
can cure it, he will think nothing of undertaking a long journey from
_Shin_ to _So_[94] to consult him upon this deformed finger; for he
knows it is to be hateful to have a finger unlike those of other men.
But he cares not a jot if his heart be different to that of other men;
and this is how men disregard the true order of things."

[Footnote 94: Ancient divisions of China.]

Now this is the next chapter to the one about benevolence being the
true heart of man, which I expounded to you the other night. True
learning has no other aim than that of reclaiming lost souls; and, in
connection with this, Môshi has thus again declared in a parable the
all-importance of the human heart.

The nameless finger is that which is next to the little finger. The
thumb is called the parent-finger; the first finger is called the
index; the long is called the middle finger; but the third finger has
no name. It is true that it is sometimes called the finger for
applying rouge; but that is only a name given it by ladies, and is not
in general use. So, having no name, it is called the nameless finger.
And how comes it to have no name? Why, because it is of all the
fingers the least useful. When we clutch at or grasp things, we do so
by the strength of the thumb and little finger. If a man scratches his
head, he does it with the forefinger; if he wishes to test the heat of
the wine[95] in the kettle, he uses the little finger. Thus, although
each finger has its uses and duties, the nameless finger alone is of
no use: it is not in our way if we have it, and we do not miss it if
we lose it. Of the whole body it is the meanest member: if it be
crooked so that we cannot straighten it, it neither hurts nor itches;
as Môshi says in the text, it causes no pain; even if we were without
it, we should be none the worse off. Hence, what though it should be
bent, it would be better, since it causes no pain, to leave it as it
is. Yet if a person, having such a crooked finger, hears of a clever
doctor who can set it straight, no matter at how great a distance he
may be, he will be off to consult this doctor. And pray why? Because
he feels ashamed of having a finger a little different from the rest
of the world, and so he wants to be cured, and will think nothing of
travelling from Shin to So--a distance of a thousand miles--for the
purpose. To be sure, men are very susceptible and keenly alive to a
sense of shame; and in this they are quite right. The feeling of shame
at what is wrong is the commencement of virtue. The perception of
shame is inborn in men; but there are two ways of perceiving shame.
There are some men who are sensible of shame for what regards their
bodies, but who are ignorant of shame for what concerns their hearts;
and a terrible mistake they make. There is nothing which can be
compared in importance to the heart. The heart is said to be the lord
of the body, which it rules as a master rules his house. Shall the
lord, who is the heart, be ailing and his sickness be neglected, while
his servants, who are the members only, are cared for? If the knee be
lacerated, apply tinder to stop the bleeding; if the moxa should
suppurate, spread a plaster; if a cold be caught, prepare medicine and
garlic and gruel, and ginger wine! For a trifle, you will doctor and
care for your bodies, and yet for your hearts you will take no care.
Although you are born of mankind, if your hearts resemble those of
devils, of foxes, of snakes, or of crows, rather than the hearts of
men, you take no heed, caring for your bodies alone. Whence can you
have fallen into such a mistake? It is a folly of old standing too,
for it was to that that Môshi pointed when he said that to be
cognizant of a deformed finger and ignore the deformities of the soul
was to disregard the true order of things. This is what it is, not to
distinguish between that which is important and that which is
unimportant--to pick up a trifle and pass by something of value. The
instinct of man prompts him to prefer the great to the small, the
important to the unimportant.

[Footnote 95: Wine is almost always drunk hot.]

If a man is invited out to a feast by his relations or acquaintances,
when the guests are assembled and the principal part of the feast has
disappeared, he looks all round him, with the eyeballs starting out of
his head, and glares at his neighbours, and, comparing the little
titbits of roast fowl or fish put before them, sees that they are
about half an inch bigger than those set before him; then, blowing out
his belly with rage, he thinks, "What on earth can the host be about?
Master Tarubei is a guest, but so am I: what does the fellow mean by
helping me so meanly? There must be some malice or ill-will here." And
so his mind is prejudiced against the host. Just be so good as to
reflect upon this. Does a man show his spite by grudging a bit of
roast fowl or meat? And yet even in such trifles as these do men show
how they try to obtain what is great, and show their dislike of what
is small. How can men be conscious of shame for a deformed finger, and
count it as no misfortune that their hearts are crooked? That is how
they abandon the substance for the shadow.

Môshi severely censures the disregard of the true order of things.
What mistaken and bewildered creatures men are! What says the old
song? "Hidden far among the mountains, the tree which seems to be
rotten, if its core be yet alive, may be made to bear flowers." What
signifies it if the hand or the foot be deformed? The heart is the
important thing. If the heart be awry, what though your skin be fair,
your nose aquiline, your hair beautiful? All these strike the eye
alone, and are utterly useless. It is as if you were to put horse-dung
into a gold-lacquer luncheon-box. This is what is called a fair
outside, deceptive in appearance.

There's the scullery-maid been washing out the pots at the kitchen
sink, and the scullion Chokichi comes up and says to her, "You've got
a lot of charcoal smut sticking to your nose," and points out to her
the ugly spot. The scullery-maid is delighted to be told of this, and
answers, "Really! whereabouts is it?" Then she twists a towel round
her finger, and, bending her head till mouth and forehead are almost
on a level, she squints at her nose, and twiddles away with her
fingers as if she were the famous Gotô[96] at work, carving the
ornaments of a sword-handle. "I say, Master Chokichi, is it off yet?"
"Not a bit of it. You've smeared it all over your cheeks now." "Oh
dear! oh dear! where can it be?" And so she uses the water-basin as a
looking-glass, and washes her face clean; then she says to herself,
"What a dear boy Chokichi is!" and thinks it necessary, out of
gratitude, to give him relishes with his supper by the ladleful, and
thanks him over and over again. But if this same Chokichi were to come
up to her and say, "Now, really, how lazy you are! I wish you could
manage to be rather less of a shrew," what do you think the
scullery-maid would answer then? Reflect for a moment. "Drat the boy's
impudence! If I were of a bad heart or an angular disposition, should
I be here helping him? You go and be hung! You see if I take the
trouble to wash your dirty bedclothes for you any more." And she gets
to be a perfect devil, less only the horns.

[Footnote 96: A famous gold- and silver-smith of the olden time. A
Benvenuto Cellini among the Japanese. His mark on a piece of metal
work enhances its value tenfold.]

There are other people besides the poor scullery-maid who are in the
same way. "Excuse me, Mr. Gundabei, but the embroidered crest on your
dress of ceremony seems to be a little on one side." Mr. Gundabei
proceeds to adjust his dress with great precision. "Thank you, sir. I
am ten million times obliged to you for your care. If ever there
should be any matter in which I can be of service to you, I beg that
you will do me the favour of letting me know;" and, with a beaming
face, he expresses his gratitude. Now for the other side of the
picture. "Really, Mr. Gundabei, you are very foolish; you don't seem
to understand at all. I beg you to be of a frank and honest heart: it
really makes me quite sad to see a man's heart warped in this way."
What is his answer? He turns his sword in his girdle ready to draw,
and plays the devil's tattoo upon the hilt: it looks as if it must end
in a fight soon.

In fact, if you help a man in anything which has to do with a fault
of the body, he takes it very kindly, and sets about mending matters.
If any one helps another to rectify a fault of the heart, he has to
deal with a man in the dark, who flies in a rage, and does not care to
amend. How out of tune all this is! And yet there are men who are
bewildered up to this point. Nor is this a special and extraordinary
failing. This mistaken perception of the great and the small, of
colour and of substance, is common to us all--to you and to me.

Please give me your attention. The form strikes the eye; but the heart
strikes not the eye. Therefore, that the heart should be distorted and
turned awry causes no pain. This all results from the want of sound
judgment; and that is why we cannot afford to be careless.

The master of a certain house calls his servant Chokichi, who sits
dozing in the kitchen. "Here, Chokichi! The guests are all gone; come
and clear away the wine and fish in the back room."

Chokichi rubs his eyes, and with a sulky answer goes into the back
room, and, looking about him, sees all the nice things paraded on the
trays and in the bowls. It's wonderful how his drowsiness passes away:
no need for any one to hurry him now. His eyes glare with greed, as he
says, "Hullo! here's a lot of tempting things! There's only just one
help of that omelette left in the tray. What a hungry lot of guests!
What's this? It looks like fish rissoles;" and with this he picks out
one, and crams his mouth full; when, on one side, a mess of young
cuttlefish, in a Chinese[97] porcelain bowl, catches his eyes. There
the little beauties sit in a circle, like Buddhist priests in
religious meditation! "Oh, goodness! how nice!" and just as he is
dipping his finger and thumb in, he hears his master's footstep; and
knowing that he is doing wrong, he crams his prize into the pocket of
his sleeve, and stoops down to take away the wine-kettle and cups; and
as he does this, out tumble the cuttlefish from his sleeve. The master
sees it.

[Footnote 97: Curiosities, such as porcelain or enamel or carved jade
from China, are highly esteemed by the Japanese. A great quantity of
the porcelain of Japan is stamped with counterfeit Chinese marks of
the Ming dynasty.]

"What's that?"

Chokichi, pretending not to know what has happened, beats the mats,
and keeps on saying, "Come again the day before yesterday; come again
the day before yesterday."[98]

[Footnote 98: An incantation used to invite spiders, which are
considered unlucky by the superstitious, to come again at the Greek

But it's no use his trying to persuade his master that the little
cuttlefish are spiders, for they are not the least like them. It's no
use hiding things,--they are sure to come to light; and so it is with
the heart,--its purposes will out. If the heart is enraged, the dark
veins stand out on the forehead; if the heart is grieved, tears rise
to the eyes; if the heart is joyous, dimples appear in the cheeks; if
the heart is merry, the face smiles: thus it is that the face reflects
the emotions of the heart. It is not because the eyes are filled with
tears that the heart is sad; nor because the veins stand out on the
forehead that the heart is enraged. It is the heart which leads the
way in everything. All the important sensations of the heart are
apparent in the outward appearance. In the "Great Learning" of Kôshi
it is written, "The truth of what is within appears upon the surface."
How then is the heart a thing which can be hidden? To answer when
reproved, to hum tunes when scolded, show a diseased heart; and if
this disease is not quickly taken in hand, it will become chronic, and
the remedy become difficult: perhaps the disease may be so virulent
that even Giba and Henjaku[99] in consultation could not effect a
cure. So, before the disease has gained strength, I invite you to the
study of the moral essays entitled _Shin-gaku_ (the Learning of the
Heart). If you once arrive at the possession of your heart as it was
originally by nature, what an admirable thing that will be! In that
case your conscience will point out to you even the slightest wrong
bias or selfishness.

[Footnote 99: Two famous Indian and Chinese physicians.]

While upon this subject, I may tell you a story which was related to
me by a friend of mine. It is a story which the master of a certain
money-changer's shop used to be very fond of telling. An important
part of a money-changer's business is to distinguish between good and
bad gold and silver. In the different establishments, the ways of
teaching the apprentices this art vary; however, the plan adopted by
the money-changer was as follows:--At first he would show them no bad
silver, but would daily put before them good money only; when they had
become thoroughly familiar with the sight of good money, if he
stealthily put a little base coin among the good, he found that they
would detect it immediately,--they saw it as plainly as you see things
when you throw light on a mirror. This faculty of detecting base money
at a glance was the result of having learned thoroughly to understand
good money. Having once been taught in this way, the apprentices would
not make a mistake about a piece of base coin during their whole
lives, as I have heard. I can't vouch for the truth of this; but it is
very certain that the principle, applied to moral instruction, is an
excellent one,--it is a most safe mode of study. However, I was
further told that if, after having thus learned to distinguish good
money, a man followed some other trade for six months or a year, and
gave up handling money, he would become just like any other
inexperienced person, unable to distinguish the good from the base.

Please reflect upon this attentively. If you once render yourself
familiar with the nature of the uncorrupted heart, from that time
forth you will be immediately conscious of the slightest inclination
towards bias or selfishness. And why? Because the natural heart is
illumined. When a man has once learned that which is perfect, he will
never consent to accept that which is imperfect; but if, after having
acquired this knowledge, he again keeps his natural heart at a
distance, and gradually forgets to recognize that which is perfect, he
finds himself in the dark again, and that he can no longer distinguish
base money from good. I beg you to take care. If a man falls into bad
habits, he is no longer able to perceive the difference between the
good impulses of his natural heart and the evil impulses of his
corrupt heart. With this benighted heart as a starting-point, he can
carry out none of his intentions, and he has to lift his shoulders
sighing and sighing again. A creature much to be pitied indeed! Then
he loses all self-reliance, so that, although it would be better for
him to hold his tongue and say nothing about it, if he is in the
slightest trouble or distress, he goes and confesses the crookedness
of his heart to every man he meets. What a wretched state for a man to
be in! For this reason, I beg you to learn thoroughly the true silver
of the heart, in order that you may make no mistake about the base
coin. I pray that you and I, during our whole lives, may never leave
the path of true principles.

I have an amusing story to tell you in connection with this, if you
will be so good as to listen.

Once upon a time, when the autumn nights were beginning to grow
chilly, five or six tradesmen in easy circumstances had assembled
together to have a chat; and, having got ready their picnic box and
wine-flask, went off to a temple on the hills, where a friendly priest
lived, that they might listen to the stags roaring. With this
intention they went to call upon the priest, and borrowed the guests'
apartments[100] of the monastery; and as they were waiting to hear the
deer roar, some of the party began to compose poetry. One would write
a verse of Chinese poetry, and another would write a verse of
seventeen syllables; and as they were passing the wine-cup the hour of
sunset came, but not a deer had uttered a call; eight o'clock came,
and ten o'clock came; still not a sound from the deer.

[Footnote 100: All the temples in China and Japan have guests'
apartments, which may be secured for a trifle, either for a long or
short period. It is false to suppose that there is any desecration of
a sacred shrine in the act of using it as a hostelry; it is the custom
of the country.]

"What can this mean?" said one. "The deer surely ought to be roaring."

But, in spite of their waiting, the deer would not roar. At last the
friends got sleepy, and, bored with writing songs and verses, began to
yawn, and gave up twaddling about the woes and troubles of life; and
as they were all silent, one of them, a man fifty years of age,
stopping the circulation of the wine-cup, said--

"Well, certainly, gentlemen, thanks to you, we have spent the evening
in very pleasant conversation. However, although I am enjoying myself
mightily in this way, my people at home must be getting anxious, and
so I begin to think that we ought to leave off drinking."

"Why so?" said the others.

"Well, I'll tell you. You know that my only son is twenty-two years of
age this year, and a troublesome fellow be is, too. When I'm at home,
he lends a hand sulkily enough in the shop: but as soon as he no
longer sees the shadow of me, he hoists sail and is off to some bad
haunt. Although our relations and connections are always preaching to
him, not a word has any more effect that wind blowing into a horse's
ear. When I think that I shall have to leave my property to such a
fellow as that, it makes my heart grow small indeed. Although, thanks
to those to whom I have succeeded, I want for nothing, still, when I
think of my son, I shed tears of blood night and day."

And as he said this with a sigh, a man of some forty-five or forty-six
years said--

"No, no; although you make so much of your misfortunes, your son is
but a little extravagant after all. There's no such great cause for
grief there. I've got a very different story to tell. Of late years my
shopmen, for one reason or another, have been running me into debt,
thinking nothing of a debt of fifty or seventy ounces; and so the
ledgers get all wrong. Just think of that. Here have I been keeping
these fellows ever since they were little children unable to blow
their own noses, and now, as soon as they come to be a little useful
in the shop, they begin running up debts, and are no good whatever to
their master. You see, you only have to spend your money upon your own

Then another gentleman said--

"Well, I think that to spend money upon your shop-people is no such
great hardship after all. Now I've been in something like trouble
lately. I can't get a penny out of my customers. One man owes me
fifteen ounces; another owes me twenty-five ounces. Really that is
enough to make a man feel as if his heart was worn away."

When he had finished speaking, an old gentleman, who was sitting
opposite, playing with his fan, said--

"Certainly, gentlemen, your grievances are not without cause; still,
to be perpetually asked for a little money, or to back a bill, by
one's relations or friends, and to have a lot of hangers-on dependent
on one, as I have, is a worse case still."

But before the old gentleman had half finished speaking, his neighbour
called out--

"No, no; all you gentlemen are in luxury compared to me. Please listen
to what I have to suffer. My wife and my mother can't hit it off
anyhow. All day long they're like a couple of cows butting at one
another with their horns. The house is as unendurable as if it were
full of smoke. I often think it would be better to send my wife back
to her village; but then I've got two little children. If I interfere
and take my wife's part, my mother gets low-spirited. If I scold my
wife, she says that I treat her so brutally because she's not of the
same flesh and blood; and then she hates me. The trouble and anxiety
are beyond description: I'm like a post stuck up between them."

And so they all twaddled away in chorus, each about his own troubles.
At last one of the gentlemen, recollecting himself, said--

"Well, gentlemen, certainly the deer ought to be roaring; but we've
been so engrossed with our conversation, that we don't know whether we
have missed hearing them or not."

With this he pulled aside the sliding-door of the verandah and looked
out, and, lo and behold! a great big stag was standing perfectly
silent in front of the garden.

"Hullo!" said the man to the deer, "what's this? Since you've been
there all the time, why did you not roar?"

Then the stag answered, with an innocent face--

"Oh, I came here to listen to the lamentations of you gentlemen."

Isn't that a funny story?

Old and young, men and women, rich and poor, never cease grumbling
from morning till night. All this is the result of a diseased heart.
In short, for the sake of a very trifling inclination or selfish
pursuit, they will do any wrong in order to effect that which is
impossible. This is want of judgment, and this brings all sorts of
trouble upon the world. If once you gain possession of a perfect
heart, knowing that which is impossible to be impossible, and
recognizing that that which is difficult is difficult, you will not
attempt to spare yourself trouble unduly. What says the Chin-Yo?[101]
The wise man, whether his lot be cast amongst rich or poor, amongst
barbarians or in sorrow, understands his position by his own instinct.
If men do not understand this, they think that the causes of pain and
pleasure are in the body. Putting the heart on one side, they
earnestly strive after the comforts of the body, and launch into
extravagance, the end of which is miserly parsimony. Instead of
pleasure they meet with grief of the heart, and pass their lives in
weeping and wailing. In one way or another, everything in this world
depends upon the heart. I implore every one of you to take heed that
tears fall not to your lot.

[Footnote 101: The second book of Confucius.]





Seppuku _(hara-kiri)_ is the mode of suicide adopted amongst Samurai
when they have no alternative but to die. Some there are who thus
commit suicide of their own free will; others there are who, having
committed some crime which does not put them outside the pale of the
privileges of the Samurai class, are ordered by their superiors to put
an end to their own lives. It is needless to say that it is absolutely
necessary that the principal, the witnesses, and the seconds who take
part in the affair should be acquainted with all the ceremonies to be
observed. A long time ago, a certain Daimio invited a number of
persons, versed in the various ceremonies, to call upon him to explain
the different forms to be observed by the official witnesses who
inspect and verify the head, &c., and then to instruct him in the
ceremonies to be observed in the act of suicide; then he showed all
these rites to his son and to all his retainers. Another person has
said that, as the ceremonies to be gone through by principal,
witnesses, and seconds are all very important matters, men should
familiarize themselves with a thing which is so terrible, in order
that, should the time come for them to take part in it, they may not
be taken by surprise.

The witnesses go to see and certify the suicide. For seconds, men are
wanted who have distinguished themselves in the military arts. In old
days, men used to bear these things in mind; but now-a-days the
fashion is to be ignorant of such ceremonies, and if upon rare
occasions a criminal is handed over to a Daimio's charge, that he may
perform _hara-kiri,_ it often happens, at the time of execution, that
there is no one among all the prince's retainers who is competent to
act as second, in which case a man has to be engaged in a hurry from
some other quarter to cut off the head of the criminal, and for that
day he changes his name and becomes a retainer of the prince, either
of the middle or lowest class, and the affair is entrusted to him, and
so the difficulty is got over: nor is this considered to be a
disgrace. It is a great breach of decorum if the second, who is a most
important officer, commits any mistake (such as not striking off the
head at a blow) in the presence of the witnesses sent by the
Government. On this account a skilful person must be employed; and, to
hide the unmanliness of his own people, a prince must perform the
ceremony in this imperfect manner. Every Samurai should be able to cut
off a man's head: therefore, to have to employ a stranger to act as
second is to incur the charge of ignorance of the arts of war, and is
a bitter mortification. However, young men, trusting to their youthful
ardour, are apt to be careless, and are certain to make a mistake.
Some people there are who, not lacking in skill on ordinary occasions,
lose their presence of mind in public, and cannot do themselves
justice. It is all the more important, therefore, as the act occurs
but rarely, that men who are liable to be called upon to be either
principals or seconds or witnesses in the _hara-kiri_ should
constantly be examined in their skill as swordsmen, and should be
familiar with all the rites, in order that when the time comes they
may not lose their presence of mind.

According to one authority, capital punishment may be divided into two
kinds--beheading and strangulation. The ceremony of _hara-kiri_ was
added afterwards in the case of persons belonging to the military
class being condemned to death. This was first instituted in the days
of the Ashikaga[102] dynasty. At that time the country was in a state
of utter confusion; and there were men who, although fighting, were
neither guilty of high treason nor of infidelity to their feudal
lords, but who by the chances of war were taken prisoners. To drag out
such men as these, bound as criminals, and cut their heads off, was
intolerably cruel; accordingly, men hit upon a ceremonious mode of
suicide by disembowelling, in order to comfort the departed spirit.
Even at present, where it becomes necessary to put to death a man who
has been guilty of some act not unworthy of a Samurai, at the time of
the execution witnesses are sent to the house; and the criminal,
having bathed and put on new clothes, in obedience to the commands of
his superiors, puts an end to himself, but does not on that account
forfeit his rank as a Samurai. This is a law for which, in all truth,
men should be grateful.

[Footnote 102: Ashikaga, third dynasty of Shoguns, flourished from
A.D. 1336 to 1568. The practice of suicide by disembowelling is of
great antiquity. This is the time when the ceremonies attending it
were invented.]


In old days the ceremony of _hara-kiri_ used to be performed in a
temple. In the third year of the period called Kan-yei (A.D. 1626), a
certain person, having been guilty of treason, was ordered to
disembowel himself, on the fourteenth day of the first month, in the
temple of Kichijôji, at Komagomé, in Yedo. Eighteen years later, the
retainer of a certain Daimio, having had a dispute with a sailor
belonging to an Osaka coasting-ship, killed the sailor; and, an
investigation having been made into the matter by the Governor of
Osaka, the retainer was ordered to perform _hara-kiri_, on the
twentieth day of the sixth month, in the temple called Sokusanji, in
Osaka. During the period Shôhô (middle of seventeenth century), a
certain man, having been guilty of heinous misconduct, performed
_hara-kiri_ in the temple called Shimpukuji, in the Kôji-street of
Yedo. On the fourth day of the fifth month of the second year of the
period Meiréki (A.D. 1656), a certain man, for having avenged the
death of his cousin's husband at a place called Shimidzudani, in the
Kôji-street, disembowelled himself in the temple called Honseiji. On
the twenty-sixth day of the sixth month of the eighth year of the
period Yempô (A.D. 1680), at the funeral ceremonies in honour of the
anniversary of the death of Genyuin Sama, a former Shogun, Naitô
Idzumi no Kami, having a cause of hatred against Nagai Shinano no
Kami, killed him at one blow with a short sword, in the main hall of
the temple called Zôjôji (the burial-place of the Shoguns in Yedo).
Idzumi no Kami was arrested by the officers present, and on the
following day performed _hara-kiri_ at Kiridôshi, in the temple called

In modern times the ceremony has taken place at night, either in the
palace or in the garden of a Daimio, to whom the condemned man has
been given in charge. Whether it takes place in the palace or in the
garden depends upon the rank of the individual. Daimios and Hatamotos,
as a matter of course, and the higher retainers of the Shogun,
disembowel themselves in the palace: retainers of lower rank should do
so in the garden. In the case of vassals of feudatories, according to
the rank of their families, those who, being above the grade of
captains, carry the bâton,[103] should perform _hara-kiri_ in the
palace; all others in the garden. If, when the time comes, the persons
engaged in the ceremony are in any doubt as to the proper rules to be
followed, they should inquire of competent persons, and settle the
question. At the beginning of the eighteenth century, during the
period Genroku, when Asano Takumi no Kami[104] disembowelled himself
in the palace of a Daimio called Tamura, as the whole thing was sudden
and unexpected, the garden was covered with matting, and on the top of
this thick mats were laid and a carpet, and the affair was concluded
so; but there are people who say that it was wrong to treat a Daimio
thus, as if he had been an ordinary Samurai. But it is said that in
old times it was the custom that the ceremony should take place upon a
leather carpet spread in the garden; and further, that the proper
place is inside a picket fence tied together in the garden: so it is
wrong for persons who are only acquainted with one form of the
ceremony to accuse Tamura of having acted improperly. If, however, the
object was to save the house from the pollution of blood, then the
accusation of ill-will may well be brought; for the preparation of the
place is of great importance.

[Footnote 103: A bâton with a tassel of paper strips, used for giving
directions in war-time.]

[Footnote 104: See the story of the Forty-seven Rônins.]

Formerly it was the custom that, for personages of importance, the
enclosure within the picket fence should be of thirty-six feet square.
An entrance was made to the south, and another to the north: the door
to the south was called _Shugiyômon_ ("the door of the practice of
virtue"); that to the north was called _Umbanmon_ ("the door of the
warm basin"[105]). Two mats, with white binding, were arranged in the
shape of a hammer, the one at right angles to the other; six feet of
white silk, four feet broad, were stretched on the mat, which was
placed lengthwise; at the four corners were erected four posts for
curtains. In front of the two mats was erected a portal, eight feet
high by six feet broad, in the shape of the portals in front of
temples, made of a fine sort of bamboo wrapped in white[106] silk.
White curtains, four feet broad, were hung at the four corners, and
four flags, six feet long, on which should be inscribed four
quotations from the sacred books. These flags, it is said, were
immediately after the ceremony carried away to the grave. At night two
lights were placed, one upon either side of the two mats. The candles
were placed in saucers upon stands of bamboo, four feet high, wrapped
in white silk. The person who was to disembowel himself, entering the
picket fence by the north entrance, took his place upon the white silk
upon the mat facing the north. Some there were, however, who said that
he should sit facing the west: in that case the whole place must be
prepared accordingly. The seconds enter the enclosure by the south
entrance, at the same time as the principal enters by the north, and
take their places on the mat that is placed crosswise.

[Footnote 105: No Japanese authority that I have been able to consult
gives any explanation of this singular name.]

[Footnote 106: White, in China and Japan, is the colour of mourning.]

Nowadays, when the _hara-kiri_ is performed inside the palace, a
temporary place is made on purpose, either in the garden or in some
unoccupied spot; but if the criminal is to die on the day on which he
is given in charge, or on the next day, the ceremony, having to take
place so quickly, is performed in the reception-room. Still, even if
there is a lapse of time between the period of giving the prisoner in
charge and the execution, it is better that the ceremony should take
place in a decent room in the house than in a place made on purpose.
If it is heard that, for fear of dirtying his house, a man has made a
place expressly, he will be blamed for it. It surely can be no
disgrace to the house of a soldier that he was ordered to perform the
last offices towards a Samurai who died by _hara-kiri_. To slay his
enemy against whom he has cause of hatred, and then to kill himself,
is the part of a noble Samurai; and it is sheer nonsense to look upon
the place where he has disembowelled himself as polluted. In the
beginning of the eighteenth century, seventeen of the retainers of
Asano Takumi no Kami performed _hara-kiri_ in the garden of a palace
at Shirokané, in Yedo. When it was over, the people of the palace
called upon the priests of a sect named Shugenja to come and purify
the place; but when the lord of the palace heard this, he ordered the
place to be left as it was; for what need was there to purify a place
where faithful Samurai had died by their own hand? But in other
palaces to which the remainder of the retainers of Takumi no Kami were
entrusted, it is said that the places of execution were purified. But
the people of that day praised Kumamoto Ko (the Prince of Higo), to
whom the palace at Shirokané belonged. It is a currish thing to look
upon death in battle or by _hara-kiri_ as a pollution: this is a thing
to bear in mind. In modern times the place of _hara-kiri_ is eighteen
feet square in all cases; in the centre is a place to sit upon, and
the condemned man is made to sit facing the witnesses; at other times
he is placed with his side to the witnesses: this is according to the
nature of the spot. In some cases the seconds turn their backs to the
witnesses. It is open to question, however, whether this is not a
breach of etiquette. The witnesses should be consulted upon these
arrangements. If the witnesses have no objection, the condemned man
should be placed directly opposite to them. The place where the
witnesses are seated should be removed more than twelve or eighteen
feet from the condemned man. The place from which the sentence is read
should also be close by. The writer has been furnished with a plan of
the _hara-kiri_ as it is performed at present. Although the ceremony
is gone through in other ways also, still it is more convenient to
follow the manner indicated.

If the execution takes place in a room, a kerchief of five breadths of
white cotton cloth or a quilt should be laid down, and it is also said
that two mats should be prepared; however, as there are already mats
in the room, there is no need for special mats: two red rugs should be
spread over all, sewed together, one on the top of the other; for if
the white cotton cloth be used alone, the blood will soak through on
to the mats; therefore it is right the rugs should be spread. On the
twenty-third day of the eighth month of the fourth year of the period
Yenkiyô (A.D. 1740), at the _hara-kiri_ of a certain person there were
laid down a white cloth, eight feet square, and on that a quilt of
light green cotton, six feet square, and on that a cloth of white
hemp, six feet square, and on that two rugs. On the third day of the
ninth month of the ninth year of the period Tempô (A.D. 1838), at the
_hara-kiri_ of a certain person it is said that there were spread a
large double cloth of white cotton, and on that two rugs. But, of
these two occasions, the first must be commended for its careful
preparation. If the execution be at night, candlesticks of white wood
should be placed at each of the four corners, lest the seconds be
hindered in their work. In the place where the witnesses are to sit,
ordinary candlesticks should be placed, according to etiquette; but an
excessive illumination is not decorous. Two screens covered with white
paper should be set up, behind the shadow of which are concealed the
dirk upon a tray, a bucket to hold the head after it has been cut off,
an incense-burner, a pail of water, and a basin. The above rules
apply equally to the ceremonies observed when the _hara-kiri_ takes
place in a garden. In the latter case the place is hung round with a
white curtain, which need not be new for the occasion. Two mats, a
white cloth, and a rug are spread. If the execution is at night,
lanterns of white paper are placed on bamboo poles at the four
corners. The sentence having been read inside the house, the persons
engaged in the ceremony proceed to the place of execution; but,
according to circumstances, the sentence may be read at the place
itself. In the case of Asano Takumi no Kami, the sentence was read out
in the house, and he afterwards performed _hara-kiri_ in the garden.
On the third day of the fourth month of the fourth year of the period
Tenmei (A.D. 1784), a Hatamoto named Sano, having received his
sentence in the supreme court-house, disembowelled himself in the
garden in front of the prison. When the ceremony takes place in the
garden, matting must be spread all the way to the place, so that
sandals need not be worn. The reason for this is that some men in that
position suffer from a rush of blood to the head, from nervousness, so
their sandals might slip off their feet without their being aware of
their loss; and as this would have a very bad appearance, it is better
to spread matting. Care must be taken lest, in spreading the matting,
a place be left where two mats join, against which the foot might
trip. The white screens and other things are prepared as has been
directed above. If any curtailment is made, it must be done as well as
circumstances will permit. According to the crime of which a man who
is handed over to any Daimio's charge is guilty, it is known whether
he will have to perform _hara-kiri_; and the preparations should be
made accordingly. Asano Takumi no Kami was taken to the palace of
Tamura Sama at the hour of the monkey (between three and five in the
afternoon), took off his dress of ceremony, partook of a bowl of soup
and five dishes, and drank two cups of warm water, and at the hour of
the cock (between five and seven in the evening) disembowelled
himself. A case of this kind requires much attention; for great care
should be taken that the preparations be carried on without the
knowledge of the principal. If a temporary room has been built
expressly for the occasion, to avoid pollution to the house, it should
be kept a secret. It once happened that a criminal was received in
charge at the palace of a certain nobleman, and when his people were
about to erect a temporary building for the ceremony, they wrote to
consult some of the parties concerned; the letter ran as follows--

"The house in which we live is very small and inconvenient in all
respects. We have ordered the guard to treat our prisoner with all
respect; but our retainers who are placed on guard are much
inconvenienced for want of space; besides, in the event of fire
breaking out or any extraordinary event taking place, the place is so
small that it would be difficult to get out. We are thinking,
therefore, of adding an apartment to the original building, so that
the guard may be able at all times to go in and out freely, and that
if, in case of fire or otherwise, we should have to leave the house,
we may do so easily. We beg to consult you upon this point."

When a Samurai has to perform _hara-kiri_ by the command of his own
feudal lord, the ceremony should take place in one of the lesser
palaces of the clan. Once upon a time, a certain prince of the Inouyé
clan, having a just cause of offence against his steward, who was
called Ishikawa Tôzayémon, and wishing to punish him, caused him to be
killed in his principal palace at Kandabashi, in Yedo. When this
matter was reported to the Shogun, having been convicted of disrespect
of the privileges of the city, he was ordered to remove to his lesser
palace at Asakusa. Now, although the _hara-kiri_ cannot be called
properly an execution, still, as it only differs from an ordinary
execution in that by it the honour of the Samurai is not affected, it
is only a question of degree; it is a matter of ceremonial. If the
principal palace[107] is a long distance from the Shogun's castle,
then the _hara-kiri_ may take place there; but there can be no
objection whatever to its taking place in a minor palace. Nowadays,
when a man is condemned to _hara-kiri_ by a Daimio, the ceremony
usually takes place in one of the lesser palaces; the place commonly
selected is an open space near the horse-exercising ground, and the
preparations which I have described above are often shortened
according to circumstances.

[Footnote 107: The principal yashikis (palaces) of the nobles are for
the most part immediately round the Shogun's castle, in the enclosure
known as the official quarter. Their proximity to the palace forbids
their being made the scenes of executions.]

When a retainer is suddenly ordered to perform _hara-kiri_ during a
journey, a temple or shrine should be hired for the occasion. On these
hurried occasions, coarse mats, faced with finer matting or common
mats, may be used. If the criminal is of rank to have an
armour-bearer, a carpet of skin should be spread, should one be easily
procurable. The straps of the skin (which are at the head) should,
according to old custom, be to the front, so that the fur may point
backwards. In old days, when the ceremony took place in a garden, a
carpet of skin was spread. To hire a temple for the purpose of causing
a man to perform _hara-kiri_ was of frequent occurrence: it is
doubtful whether it may be done at the present time. This sort of
question should be referred beforehand to some competent person, that
the course to be adopted may be clearly understood.

In the period Kambun (A.D. 1661-1673) a Prince Sakai, travelling
through the Bishiu territory, hired a temple or shrine for one of his
retainers to disembowel himself in; and so the affair was concluded.


When a man has been ordered by the Government to disembowel himself,
the public censors, who have been appointed to act as witnesses, write
to the prince who has the criminal in charge, to inform them that they
will go to his palace on public business. This message is written
directly to the chief, and is sent by an assistant censor; and a
suitable answer is returned to it. Before the ceremony, the witnesses
send an assistant censor to see the place, and look at a plan of the
house, and to take a list of the names of the persons who are to be
present; he also has an interview with the _kaishaku_, or seconds, and
examines them upon the way of performing the ceremonies. When all the
preparations have been made, he goes to fetch the censors; and they
all proceed together to the place of execution, dressed in their
hempen-cloth dress of ceremony. The retainers of the palace are
collected to do obeisance in the entrance-yard; and the lord, to whom
the criminal has been entrusted, goes as far as the front porch to
meet the censors, and conducts them to the front reception-room. The
chief censor then announces to the lord of the palace that he has come
to read out the sentence of such an one who has been condemned to
perform _hara-kiri_, and that the second censor has come to witness
the execution of the sentence. The lord of the palace then inquires
whether he is expected to attend the execution in person, and, if any
of the relations or family of the criminal should beg to receive his
remains, whether their request should be complied with; after this he
announces that he will order everything to be made ready, and leaves
the room. Tea, a fire-box for smoking, and sweetmeats are set before
the censors; but they decline to accept any hospitality until their
business shall have been concluded. The minor officials follow the
same rule. If the censors express a wish to see the place of
execution, the retainers of the palace show the way, and their lord
accompanies them; in this, however, he may be replaced by one of his
_karô_ or councillors. They then return, and take their seats in the
reception-room. After this, when all the preparations have been made,
the master of the house leads the censors to the place where the
sentence is to be read; and it is etiquette that they should wear both
sword and dirk.[108] The lord of the palace takes his place on one
side; the inferior censors sit on either side in a lower place. The
councillors and other officers of the palace also take their places.
One of the councillors present, addressing the censors without moving
from his place, asks whether he shall bring forth the prisoner.

[Footnote 108: A Japanese removes his sword on entering a house,
retaining only his dirk.]

Previously to this, the retainers of the palace, going to the room
where the prisoner is confined, inform him that, as the censors have
arrived, he should change his dress, and the attendants bring out a
change of clothes upon a large tray: it is when he has finished his
toilet that the witnesses go forth and take their places in the
appointed order, and the principal is then introduced. He is preceded
by one man, who should be of the rank of _Mono-gashira_ (retainer of
the fourth rank), who wears a dirk, but no sword. Six men act as
attendants; they should be of the fifth or sixth rank; they walk on
either side of the principal. They are followed by one man who should
be of the rank of _Yônin_ (councillor of the second class). When they
reach the place, the leading man draws on one side and sits down, and
the six attendants sit down on either side of the principal. The
officer who follows him sits down behind him, and the chief censor
reads the sentence.

When the reading of the sentence is finished, the principal leaves the
room and again changes his clothes, and the chief censor immediately
leaves the palace; but the lord of the palace does not conduct him to
the door. The second censor returns to the reception-room until the
principal has changed his clothes. When the principal has taken his
seat at the place of execution, the councillors of the palace announce
to the second censor that all is ready; he then proceeds to the place,
wearing his sword and dirk. The lord of the palace, also wearing his
sword and dirk, takes his seat on one side. The inferior censors and
councillors sit in front of the censor: they wear the dirk only. The
assistant second brings a dirk upon a tray, and, having placed it in
front of the principal, withdraws on one side: when the principal
leans his head forward, his chief second strikes off his head, which
is immediately shown to the censor, who identifies it, and tells the
master of the palace that he is satisfied, and thanks him for all his
trouble. The corpse, as it lies, is hidden by a white screen which is
set up around it, and incense is brought out. The witnesses leave the
place. The lord of the palace accompanies them as far as the porch,
and the retainers prostrate themselves in the yard as before. The
retainers who should be present at the place of execution are one or
two councillors (_Karô_), two or three second councillors (_Yônin_),
two or three _Mono-gashira_, one chief of the palace (_Rusui_), six
attendants, one chief second, two assistant seconds, one man to carry
incense, who need not be a person of rank--any Samurai will do. They
attend to the setting up of the white screen.

The duty of burying the corpse and of setting the place in order again
devolves upon four men; these are selected from Samurai of the middle
or lower class; during the performance of their duties, they hitch up
their trousers and wear neither sword nor dirk. Their names are
previously sent in to the censor, who acts as witness; and to the
junior censors, should they desire it. Before the arrival of the chief
censor, the requisite utensils for extinguishing a fire are prepared,
firemen are engaged,[109] and officers constantly go the rounds to
watch against fire. From the time when the chief censor comes into the
house until he leaves it, no one is allowed to enter the premises. The
servants on guard at the entrance porch should wear their hempen
dresses of ceremony. Everything in the palace should be conducted with
decorum, and the strictest attention paid in all things.

[Footnote 109: In Japan, where fires are of daily occurrence, the
fire-buckets and other utensils form part of the gala dress of the
house of a person of rank.]

When any one is condemned to _hara-kiri_, it would be well that people
should go to the palace of the Prince of Higo, and learn what
transpired at the execution of the Rônins of Asano Takumi no Kami. A
curtain was hung round the garden in front of the reception-room;
three mats were laid down, and upon these was placed a white cloth.
The condemned men were kept in the reception-room, and summoned, one
by one; two men, one on each side, accompanied them; the second,
followed behind; and they proceeded together to the place of
execution. When the execution was concluded in each case, the corpse
was hidden from the sight of the chief witness by a white screen,
folded up in white cloth, placed on a mat, and carried off to the rear
by two foot-soldiers; it was then placed in a coffin. The
blood-stained ground was sprinkled with sand, and swept clean; fresh
mats were laid down, and the place prepared anew; after which the next
man was summoned to come forth.


When a clansman is ordered by his feudal lord to perform _hara-kiri_,
the sentence must be read out by the censor of the clan, who also acts
as witness. He should take his place in front of the criminal, at a
distance of twelve feet; according to some books, the distance should
be eighteen feet, and he should sit obliquely, not facing the
criminal; he should lay his sword down by his side, but, if he
pleases, he may wear it in his girdle; he must read out the sentence
distinctly. If the sentence be a long document, to begin reading in a
very loud voice and afterwards drop into a whisper has an appearance
of faint-heartedness; but to read it throughout in a low voice is
worse still: it should be delivered clearly from beginning to end. It
is the duty of the chief witness to set an example of fortitude to the
other persons who are to take part in the execution. When the second
has finished his work, he carries the head to the chief witness, who,
after inspecting it, must declare that he has identified it; he then
should take his sword, and leave his place. It is sufficient, however,
that the head should be struck off without being carried to the chief
witness; in that case, the second receives his instructions
beforehand. On rising, the chief witness should step out with his left
foot and turn to the left. If the ceremony takes place out of doors,
the chief witness, wearing his sword and dirk, should sit upon a box;
he must wear his hempen dress of ceremony; he may hitch his trousers
up slightly; according to his rank, he may wear his full dress--that
is, wings over his full dress. It is the part of the chief witness to
instruct the seconds and others in the duties which they have to
perform, and also to preconcert measures in the event of any mishap

If whilst the various persons to be engaged in the ceremony are
rubbing up their military lore, and preparing themselves for the
event, any other person should come in, they should immediately turn
the conversation. Persons of the rank of Samurai should be familiar
with all the details of the _hara-kiri_; and to be seen discussing
what should be done in case anything went wrong, and so forth, would
have an appearance of ignorance. If, however, an intimate friend
should go to the place, rather than have any painful concealment, he
may be consulted upon the whole affair.

When the sentence has been read, it is probable that the condemned man
will have some last words to say to the chief witness. It must depend
on the nature of what he has to say whether it will be received or
not. If he speaks in a confused or bewildered manner, no attention is
paid to it: his second should lead him away, of his own accord or at a
sign from the chief witness.

If the condemned man be a person who has been given in charge to a
prince by the Government, the prince after the reading of the sentence
should send his retainers to the prisoner with a message to say that
the decrees of the Government are not to be eluded, but that if he has
any last wishes to express, they are ordered by their lord to receive
them. If the prisoner is a man of high rank, the lord of the palace
should go in person to hear his last wishes.

The condemned man should answer in the following way--

"Sir, I thank you for your careful consideration, but I have nothing
that I wish to say. I am greatly indebted to you for the great
kindness which I have received since I have been under your charge. I
beg you to take my respects to your lord and to the gentlemen of your
clan who have treated me so well." Or he may say, "Sirs, I have
nothing to say; yet, since you are so kind as to think of me, I should
be obliged if you would deliver such and such a message to such an
one." This is the proper and becoming sort of speech for the occasion.
If the prisoner entrusts them with any message, the retainers should
receive it in such a manner as to set his mind at rest. Should he ask
for writing materials in order to write a letter, as this is forbidden
by the law, they should tell him so, and not grant his request. Still
they must feel that it is painful to refuse the request of a dying
man, and must do their best to assist him. They must exhaust every
available kindness and civility, as was done in the period Genroku, in
the case of the Rônins of Asano Takumi no Kami. The Prince of Higo,
after the sentence had been read, caused paper and writing materials
to be taken to their room. If the prisoner is light-headed from
excitement, it is no use furnishing him with writing materials. It
must depend upon circumstances; but when a man has murdered another,
having made up his mind to abide by the consequences, then that man's
execution should be carried through with all honour. When a man kills
another on the spot, in a fit of ungovernable passion, and then is
bewildered and dazed by his own act, the same pains need not be taken
to conduct matters punctiliously. If the prisoner be a careful man, he
will take an early opportunity after he has been given in charge to
express his wishes. To carry kindness so far as to supply writing
materials and the like is not obligatory. If any doubt exists upon the
point, the chief witness may be consulted.

After the Rônins of Asano Takumi no Kami had heard their sentence in
the palace of Matsudaira Oki no Kami, that Daimio in person went and
took leave of them, and calling Oishi Chikara,[110] the son of their
chief, to him, said, "I have heard that your mother is at home in your
own country; how she will grieve when she hears of your death and that
of your father, I can well imagine. If you have any message that you
wish to leave for her, tell me, without standing upon ceremony, and I
will transmit it without delay." For a while Chikara kept his head
bent down towards the ground; at last he drew back a little, and,
lifting his head, said, "I humbly thank your lordship for what you
have been pleased to say. My father warned me from the first that our
crime was so great that, even were we to be pardoned by a gracious
judgment upon one count, I must not forget that there would be a
hundred million counts against us for which we must commit suicide:
and that if I disregarded his words his hatred would pursue me after
death. My father impressed this upon me at the temple called
Sengakuji, and again when I was separated from him to be taken to the
palace of Prince Sengoku. Now my father and myself have been condemned
to perform _hara-kiri_, according to the wish of our hearts. Still I
cannot forget to think of my mother. When we parted at Kiyôto, she
told me that our separation would be for long, and she bade me not to
play the coward when I thought of her. As I took a long leave of her
then, I have no message to send to her now." When he spoke thus, Oki
no Kami and all his retainers, who were drawn up around him, were
moved to tears in admiration of his heroism.

[Footnote 110: Oishi Chikara was separated from his father, who was
one of the seventeen delivered over to the charge of the Prince of

Although it is right that the condemned man should bathe and partake
of wine and food, these details should be curtailed. Even should he
desire these favours, it must depend upon his conduct whether they be
granted or refused. He should be caused to die as quickly as possible.
Should he wish for some water to drink, it should be given to him. If
in his talk he should express himself like a noble Samurai, all pains
should be exhausted in carrying out his execution. Yet however careful
a man he may be, as he nears his death his usual demeanour will
undergo a change. If the execution is delayed, in all probability it
will cause the prisoner's courage to fail him; therefore, as soon as
the sentence shall have been passed, the execution should be brought
to a conclusion. This, again, is a point for the chief witness to


When the condemned man is one who has been given in charge for
execution, six attendants are employed; when the execution is within
the clan, then two or three attendants will suffice; the number,
however, must depend upon the rank of the principal. Men of great
nerve and strength must be selected for the office; they must wear
their hempen dress of ceremony, and tuck up their trousers; they must
on no account wear either sword or dirk, but have a small poniard
hidden in their bosom: these are the officers who attend upon the
condemned man when he changes his dress, and who sit by him on the
right hand and on the left hand to guard him whilst the sentence is
being read. In the event of any mistake occurring (such as the
prisoner attempting to escape), they knock him down; and should he be
unable to stand or to walk, they help to support him. The attendants
accompanying the principal to the place of execution, if they are six
in number, four of them take their seats some way off and mount guard,
while the other two should sit close behind the principal. They must
understand that should there be any mistake they must throw the
condemned man, and, holding him down, cut off his head with their
poniard, or stab him to death. If the second bungles in cutting off
the head and the principal attempts to rise, it is the duty of the
attendants to kill him. They must help him to take off his upper
garments and bare his body. In recent times, however, there have been
cases where the upper garments have not been removed: this depends
upon circumstances. The setting up of the white screen, and the laying
the corpse in the coffin, are duties which, although they may be
performed by other officers, originally devolved upon the six
attendants. When a common man is executed, he is bound with cords, and
so made to take his place; but a Samurai wears his dress of ceremony,
is presented with a dagger, and dies thus. There ought to be no
anxiety lest such a man should attempt to escape; still, as there is
no knowing what these six attendants may be called upon to do, men
should be selected who thoroughly understand their business.

The seconds are three in number--the chief second, the assistant
second, and the inferior second. When the execution is carried out
with proper solemnity, three men are employed; still a second and
assistant second are sufficient. If three men serve as seconds, their
several duties are as follows:--The chief second strikes off the head;
that is his duty: he is the most important officer in the execution by
_hara-kiri._ The assistant second brings forward the tray, on which is
placed the dirk; that is his duty: he must perform his part in such a
manner that the principal second is not hindered in his work. The
assistant second is the officer of second importance in the execution.
The third or inferior second carries the head to the chief witness for
identification; and in the event of something suddenly occurring to
hinder either of the other two seconds, he should bear in mind that he
must be ready to act as his substitute: his is an office of great
importance, and a proper person must be selected to fill it.

Although there can be no such thing as a _kaishaku_ (second) in any
case except in one of _hara-kiri,_ still in old times guardians and
persons who assisted others were also called _kaishaku_: the reason
for this is because the _kaishaku_, or second, comes to the assistance
of the principal. If the principal were to make any mistake at the
fatal moment, it would be a disgrace to his dead body: it is in order
to prevent such mistakes that the _kaishaku,_ or second, is employed.
It is the duty of the _kaishaku_ to consider this as his first duty.

When a man is appointed to act as second to another, what shall be
said of him if he accepts the office with a smiling face? Yet must he
not put on a face of distress. It is as well to attempt to excuse
oneself from performing the duty. There is no heroism in cutting a
man's head off well, and it is a disgrace to do it in a bungling
manner; yet must not a man allege lack of skill as a pretext for
evading the office, for it is an unworthy thing that a Samurai should
want the skill required to behead a man. If there are any that
advocate employing young men as seconds, it should rather be said that
their hands are inexpert. To play the coward and yield up the office
to another man is out of the question. When a man is called upon to
perform the office, he should express his readiness to use his sword
(the dirk may be employed, but the sword is the proper weapon). As
regards the sword, the second should borrow that of the principal: if
there is any objection to this, he should receive a sword from his
lord; he should not use his own sword. When the assistant seconds have
been appointed, the three should take counsel together about the
details of the place of execution, when they have been carefully
instructed by their superiors in all the ceremonies; and having made
careful inquiry, should there be anything wrong, they should appeal to
their superiors for instruction. The seconds wear their dresses of
ceremony when the criminal is a man given in charge by the Government:
when he is one of their own clan, they need only wear the trousers of
the Samurai. In old days it is said that they were dressed in the
same way as the principal; and some authorities assert that at the
_hara-kiri_ of a nobleman of high rank the seconds should wear white
clothes, and that the handle of the sword should be wrapped in white
silk. If the execution takes place in the house, they should partially
tuck up their trousers; if in the garden, they should tuck them up

The seconds should address the principal, and say, "Sir, we have been
appointed to act as your seconds; we pray you to set your mind at
rest," and so forth; but this must depend upon the rank of the
criminal. At this time, too, if the principal has any last wish to
express, the second should receive it, and should treat him with every
consideration in order to relieve his anxiety. If the second has been
selected by the principal on account of old friendship between them,
or if the latter, during the time that he has been in charge, has
begged some special retainer of the palace to act as his second in the
event of his being condemned to death, the person so selected should
thank the principal for choosing so unworthy a person, and promise to
beg his lord to allow him to act as second: so he should answer, and
comfort him, and having reported the matter to his lord, should act as
second. He should take that opportunity to borrow his principal's
sword in some such terms as the following: "As I am to have the honour
of being your second, I would fain borrow your sword for the occasion.
It may be a consolation to you to perish by your own sword, with which
you are familiar." If, however, the principal declines, and prefers to
be executed with the second's sword, his wish must be complied with.
If the second should make an awkward cut with his own sword, it is a
disgrace to him; therefore he should borrow some one else's sword, so
that the blame may rest with the sword, and not with the swordsman.
Although this is the rule, and although every Samurai should wear a
sword fit to cut off a man's head, still if the principal has begged
to be executed with the second's own sword, it must be done as he

It is probable that the condemned man will inquire of his second about
the arrangements which have been made: he must attend therefore to
rendering himself capable of answering all such questions. Once upon a
time, when the condemned man inquired of his second whether his head
would be cut off at the moment when he received the tray with the dirk
upon it, "No," replied the second; "at the moment when you stab
yourself with the dirk your head will be cut off." At the execution of
one Sanô, he told his second that, when he had stabbed himself in the
belly, he would utter a cry; and begged him to be cool when he cut off
his head. The second replied that he would do as he wished, but begged
him in the meantime to take the tray with the dirk, according to
proper form. When Sanô reached out his hand to take the tray, the
second cut off his head immediately. Now, although this was not
exactly right, still as the second acted so in order to save a Samurai
from the disgrace of performing the _hara-kiri_ improperly (by crying
out), it can never be wrong for a second to act kindly, If the
principal urgently requests to be allowed really to disembowel
himself, his wish may, according to circumstances, be granted; but in
this case care must be taken that no time be lost in striking off the
head. The custom of striking off the head, the prisoner only going
through the semblance of disembowelling himself, dates from the period
Yempô (about 190 years ago).

When the principal has taken his place, the second strips his right
shoulder of the dress of ceremony, which he allows to fall behind his
sleeve, and, drawing his sword, lays down the scabbard, taking care
that his weapon is not seen by the principal; then he takes his place
on the left of the principal and close behind him. The principal
should sit facing the west, and the second facing the north, and in
that position should he strike the blow. When the second perceives the
assistant second bring out the tray on which is laid the dirk, he must
brace up his nerves and settle his heart beneath his navel: when the
tray is laid down, he must put himself in position to strike the blow.
He should step out first with the left foot, and then change so as to
bring his right foot forward: this is the position which he should
assume to strike; he may, however, reverse the position of his feet.
When the principal removes his upper garments, the second must poise
his sword: when the principal reaches out his hand to draw the tray
towards him, as he leans his head forward a little, is the exact
moment for the second to strike. There are all sorts of traditions
about this. Some say that the principal should take the tray and raise
it respectfully to his head, and set it down; and that this is the
moment to strike. There are three rules for the time of cutting off
the head: the first is when the dirk is laid on the tray; the second
is when the principal looks at the left side of his belly before
inserting the dirk; the third is when he inserts the dirk. If these
three moments are allowed to pass, it becomes a difficult matter to
cut off the head: so says tradition. However, four moments for cutting
are also recorded: first, when the assistant second retires after
having laid down the stand on which is the dirk; second, when the
principal draws the stand towards him; third, when he takes the dirk
in his hand; fourth, when he makes the incision into the belly.
Although all four ways are approved, still the first is too soon; the
last three are right and proper. In short, the blow should be struck
without delay. If he has struck off the head at a blow without
failure, the second, taking care not to raise his sword, but holding
it point downwards, should retire backward a little and wipe his
weapon kneeling; he should have plenty of white paper ready in his
girdle or in his bosom to wipe away the blood and rub up his sword;
having replaced his sword in its scabbard, he should readjust his
upper garments and take his seat to the rear. When the head has
fallen, the junior second should enter, and, taking up the head,
present it to the witness for inspection. When he has identified it,
the ceremony is concluded. If there is no assistant or junior second,
the second, as soon as he has cut off the head, carrying his sword
reversed in his left hand, should take the head in his right hand,
holding it by the top-knot of hair, should advance towards the
witness, passing on the right side of the corpse, and show the right
profile of the head to the witness, resting the chin of the head upon
the hilt of his sword, and kneeling on his left knee; then returning
again round by the left of the corpse, kneeling on his left knee, and
carrying the head in his left hand and resting it on the edge of his
sword, he should again show the left profile to the witness. It is
also laid down as another rule, that the second, laying down his
sword, should take out paper from the bosom of his dress, and placing
the head in the palm of his left hand, and taking the top-knot of hair
in his right hand, should lay the head upon the paper, and so submit
it for inspection. Either way may be said to be right.

NOTE.--To lay down thick paper, and place the head on it, shows a
disposition to pay respect to the head; to place it on the edge of the
sword is insulting: the course pursued must depend upon the rank of
the person. If the ceremony is to be curtailed, it may end with the
cutting off of the head: that must be settled beforehand, in
consultation with the witness. In the event of the second making a
false cut, so as not to strike off the head at a blow, the second must
take the head by the top-knot, and, pressing it down, cut it off.
Should he take bad aim and cut the shoulder by mistake, and should the
principal rise and cry out, before he has time to writhe, he should
hold him down and stab him to death, and then cut off his head, or the
assistant seconds, who are sitting behind, should come forward and
hold him down, while the chief second cuts off his head. It may be
necessary for the second, after he has cut off the head, to push down
the body, and then take up the head for inspection. If the body does
not fall at once, which is said to be sometimes the case, the second
should pull the feet to make it fall.

There are some who say that the perfect way for the second to cut off
the head is not to cut right through the neck at a blow, but to leave
a little uncut, and, as the head hangs by the skin, to seize the
top-knot and slice it off, and then submit it for inspection. The
reason of this is, lest, the head being struck off at a blow, the
ceremony should be confounded with an ordinary execution. According to
the old authorities, this is the proper and respectful manner. After
the head is cut off, the eyes are apt to blink, and the mouth to move,
and to bite the pebbles and sand. This being hateful to see, at what
amongst Samurai is so important an occasion, and being a shameful
thing, it is held to be best not to let the head fall, but to hold
back a little in delivering the blow. Perhaps this may be right; yet
it is a very difficult matter to cut so as to leave the head hanging
by a little flesh, and there is the danger of missing the cut; and as
any mistake in the cut is most horrible to see, it is better to strike
a fair blow at once. Others say that, even when the head is struck off
at a blow, the semblance of slicing it off should be gone through
afterwards; yet be it borne in mind that; this is unnecessary.

Three methods of carrying the sword are recognized amongst those
skilled in swordsmanship. If the rank of the principal be high, the
sword is raised aloft; if the principal and second are of equal rank,
the sword is carried at the centre of the body; if the principal be of
inferior rank, the sword is allowed to hang downwards. The proper
position for the second to strike from is kneeling on one knee, but
there is no harm in his standing up: others say that, if the execution
takes place inside the house, the second should kneel; if in the
garden, he should stand. These are not points upon which to insist
obstinately: a man should strike in whatever position is most
convenient to him.

The chief duty for the assistant second to bear in mind is the
bringing in of the tray with the dirk, which should be produced very
quietly when the principal takes his place: it should be placed so
that the condemned man may have to stretch his hand well out in order
to reach it.[111] The assistant second then returns to his own place;
but if the condemned man shows any signs of agitation, the assistant
second must lend his assistance, so that the head may be properly cut
off. It once happened that the condemned man, having received the tray
from the assistant second, held it up for a long time without putting
it down, until those near him had over and over again urged him to set
it down. It also happens that after the tray has been set down, and
the assistant second has retired, the condemned man does not put out
his hand to take it; then must the assistant second press him to take
it. Also the principal may ask that the tray be placed a little nearer
to him, in which case his wish must be granted. The tray may also be
placed in such a way that the assistant second, holding it in his left
hand, may reach the dirk to the condemned man, who leans forward to
take it. Which is the best of all these ways is uncertain. The object
to aim at is, that the condemned man should lean forward to receive
the blow. Whether the assistant second retires, or not, must depend
upon the attitude assumed by the condemned man.

[Footnote 111: It should be placed about three feet away from him.]

If the prisoner be an unruly, violent man, a fan, instead of a dirk,
should be placed upon the tray; and should he object to this, he
should be told, in answer, that the substitution of the fan is an
ancient custom. This may occur sometimes. It is said that once upon a
time, in one of the palaces of the Daimios, a certain brave matron
murdered a man, and having been allowed to die with all the honours of
the _hara-kiri,_ a fan was placed upon the tray, and her head was cut
off. This may be considered right and proper. If the condemned man
appears inclined to be turbulent, the seconds, without showing any
sign of alarm, should hurry to his side, and, urging him to get ready,
quickly cause him to make all his preparations with speed, and to sit
down in his place; the chief second, then drawing his sword, should
get ready to strike, and, ordering him to proceed as fast as possible
with the ceremony of receiving the tray, should perform his duty
without appearing to be afraid.

A certain Prince Katô, having condemned one of his councillors to
death, assisted at the ceremony behind a curtain of slips of bamboo.
The councillor, whose name was Katayama, was bound, and during that
time glared fiercely at the curtain, and showed no signs of fear. The
chief second was a man named Jihei, who had always been used to treat
Katayama with great respect. So Jihei, sword in hand, said to
Katayama, "Sir, your last moment has arrived: be so good as to turn
your cheek so that your head may be straight." When Katayama heard
this, he replied, "Fellow, you are insolent;" and as he was looking
round, Jihei struck the fatal blow. The lord Katô afterwards inquired
of Jihei what was the reason of this; and he replied that, as he saw
that the prisoner was meditating treason, he determined to kill him at
once, and put a stop to this rebellious spirit. This is a pattern for
other seconds to bear in mind.

When the head has been struck off, it becomes the duty of the junior
second to take it up by the top-knot, and, placing it upon some thick
paper laid over the palm of his hand, to carry it for inspection by
the witness. This ceremony has been explained above. If the head be
bald, he should pierce the left ear with the stiletto carried in the
scabbard of his dirk, and so carry it to be identified. He must carry
thick paper in the bosom of his dress. Inside the paper he shall place
a bag with rice bran and ashes, in order that he may carry the head
without being sullied by the blood. When the identification of the
head is concluded, the junior second's duty is to place it in a

If anything should occur to hinder the chief second, the assistant
second must take his place. It happened on one occasion that before
the execution took place the chief second lost his nerve, yet he cut
off the head without any difficulty; but when it came to taking up the
head for inspection, his nervousness so far got the better of him as
to be extremely inconvenient. This is a thing against which persons
acting as seconds have to guard.

       *       *       *       *       *

As a corollary to the above elaborate statement of the ceremonies
proper to be observed at the _hara-kiri_, I may here describe an
instance of such an execution which I was sent officially to witness.
The condemned man was Taki Zenzaburô, an officer of the Prince of
Bizen, who gave the order to fire upon the foreign settlement at Hiogo
in the month of February 1868,--an attack to which I have alluded in
the preamble to the story of the Eta Maiden and the Hatamoto. Up to
that time no foreigner had witnessed such an execution, which was
rather looked upon as a traveller's fable.

The ceremony, which was ordered by the Mikado himself, took place at
10.30 at night in the temple of Seifukuji, the headquarters of the
Satsuma troops at Hiogo. A witness was sent from each of the foreign
legations. We were seven foreigners in all.

We were conducted to the temple by officers of the Princes of Satsuma
and Choshiu. Although the ceremony was to be conducted in the most
private manner, the casual remarks which we overheard in the streets,
and a crowd lining the principal entrance to the temple, showed that
it was a matter of no little interest to the public. The courtyard of
the temple presented a most picturesque sight; it was crowded with
soldiers standing about in knots round large fires, which threw a dim
flickering light over the heavy eaves and quaint gable-ends of the
sacred buildings. We were shown into an inner room, where we were to
wait until the preparation for the ceremony was completed: in the next
room to us were the high Japanese officers. After a long interval,
which seemed doubly long from the silence which prevailed, Itô
Shunské, the provisional Governor of Hiogo, came and took down our
names, and informed us that seven _kenshi_, sheriffs or witnesses,
would attend on the part of the Japanese. He and another officer
represented the Mikado; two captains of Satsuma's infantry, and two of
Choshiu's, with a representative of the Prince of Bizen, the clan of
the condemned man, completed the number, which was probably arranged
in order to tally with that of the foreigners. Itô Shunské further
inquired whether we wished to put any questions to the prisoner. We
replied in the negative.

A further delay then ensued, after which we were invited to follow the
Japanese witnesses into the _hondo_ or main hall of the temple, where
the ceremony was to be performed. It was an imposing scene. A large
hall with a high roof supported by dark pillars of wood. From the
ceiling hung a profusion of those huge gilt lamps and ornaments
peculiar to Buddhist temples. In front of the high altar, where the
floor, covered with beautiful white mats, is raised some three or four
inches from the ground, was laid a rug of scarlet felt. Tall candles
placed at regular intervals gave out a dim mysterious light, just
sufficient to let all the proceedings be seen. The seven Japanese took
their places on the left of the raised floor, the seven foreigners on
the right. No other person was present.

After an interval of a few minutes of anxious suspense, Taki
Zenzaburô, a stalwart man, thirty-two years of age, with a noble air,
walked into the hall attired in his dress of ceremony, with the
peculiar hempen-cloth wings which are worn on great occasions. He was
accompanied by a _kaishaku_ and three officers, who wore the
_jimbaori_ or war surcoat with gold-tissue facings. The word
_kaishaku_, it should be observed, is one to which our word
_executioner_ is no equivalent term. The office is that of a
gentleman: in many cases it is performed by a kinsman or friend of the
condemned, and the relation between them is rather that of principal
and second than that of victim and executioner. In this instance the
_kaishaku_ was a pupil of Taki Zenzaburô, and was selected by the
friends of the latter from among their own number for his skill in

With the _kaishaku_ on his left hand, Taki Zenzaburô advanced slowly
towards the Japanese witnesses, and the two bowed before them, then
drawing near to the foreigners they saluted us in the same way,
perhaps even with more deference: in each case the salutation was
ceremoniously returned. Slowly, and with great dignity, the condemned
man mounted on to the raised floor, prostrated himself before the high
altar twice, and seated[112] himself on the felt carpet with his back
to the high altar, the _kaishaku_ crouching on his left-hand side. One
of the three attendant officers then came forward, bearing a stand of
the kind used in temples for offerings, on which, wrapped in paper,
lay the _wakizashi_, the short sword or dirk of the Japanese, nine
inches and a half in length, with a point and an edge as sharp as a
razor's. This he handed, prostrating himself, to the condemned man,
who received it reverently, raising it to his head with both hands,
and placed it in front of himself.

[Footnote 112: Seated himself--that is, in the Japanese fashion, his
knees and toes touching the ground, and his body resting on his heels.
In this position, which is one of respect, he remained until his

After another profound obeisance, Taki Zenzaburô, in a voice which
betrayed just so much emotion and hesitation as might be expected from
a man who is making a painful confession, but with no sign of either
in his face or manner, spoke as follows:--

"I, and I alone, unwarrantably gave the order to fire on the
foreigners at Kôbé, and again as they tried to escape. For this crime
I disembowel myself, and I beg you who are present to do me the honour
of witnessing the act."

Bowing once more, the speaker allowed his upper garments to slip down
to his girdle, and remained naked to the waist. Carefully, according
to custom, he tucked his sleeves under his knees to prevent himself
from falling backwards; for a noble Japanese gentleman should die
falling forwards. Deliberately, with a steady hand, he took the dirk
that lay before him; he looked at it wistfully, almost affectionately;
for a moment he seemed to collect his thoughts for the last time, and
then stabbing himself deeply below the waist on the left-hand side, he
drew the dirk slowly across to the right side, and, turning it in the
wound, gave a slight cut upwards. During this sickeningly painful
operation he never moved a muscle of his face. When he drew out the
dirk, he leaned forward and stretched out his neck; an expression of
pain for the first time crossed his face, but he uttered no sound. At
that moment the _kaishaku_, who, still crouching by his side, had been
keenly watching his every movement, sprang to his feet, poised his
sword for a second in the air; there was a flash, a heavy, ugly thud,
a crashing fall; with one blow the head had been severed from the

A dead silence followed, broken only by the hideous noise of the blood
throbbing out of the inert heap before us, which but a moment before
had been a brave and chivalrous man. It was horrible.

The _kaishaku_ made a low bow, wiped his sword with a piece of paper
which he had ready for the purpose, and retired from the raised
floor; and the stained dirk was solemnly borne away, a bloody proof of
the execution.

The two representatives of the Mikado then left their places, and,
crossing over to where the foreign witnesses sat, called us to witness
that the sentence of death upon Taki Zenzaburô had been faithfully
carried out. The ceremony being at an end, we left the temple.

The ceremony, to which the place and the hour gave an additional
solemnity, was characterized throughout by that extreme dignity and
punctiliousness which are the distinctive marks of the proceedings of
Japanese gentlemen of rank; and it is important to note this fact,
because it carries with it the conviction that the dead man was indeed
the officer who had committed the crime, and no substitute. While
profoundly impressed by the terrible scene it was impossible at the
same time not to be filled with admiration of the firm and manly
bearing of the sufferer, and of the nerve with which the _kaishaku_
performed his last duty to his master. Nothing could more strongly
show the force of education. The Samurai, or gentleman of the military
class, from his earliest years learns to look upon the _hara-kiri_ as
a ceremony in which some day he may be called upon to play a part as
principal or second. In old-fashioned families, which hold to the
traditions of ancient chivalry, the child is instructed in the rite
and familiarized with the idea as an honourable expiation of crime or
blotting out of disgrace. If the hour comes, he is prepared for it,
and gravely faces an ordeal which early training has robbed of half
its horrors. In what other country in the world does a man learn that
the last tribute of affection which he may have to pay to his best
friend may be to act as his executioner?

Since I wrote the above, we have heard that, before his entry into the
fatal hall, Taki Zenzaburô called round him all those of his own clan
who were present, many of whom had carried out his order to fire, and,
addressing them in a short speech, acknowledged the heinousness of his
crime and the justice of his sentence, and warned them solemnly to
avoid any repetition of attacks upon foreigners. They were also
addressed by the officers of the Mikado, who urged them to bear no
ill-will against us on account of the fate of their fellow-clansman.
They declared that they entertained no such feeling.

The opinion has been expressed that it would have been politic for the
foreign representatives at the last moment to have interceded for the
life of Taki Zenzaburô. The question is believed to have been debated
among the representatives themselves. My own belief is that mercy,
although it might have produced the desired effect among the more
civilized clans, would have been mistaken for weakness and fear by
those wilder people who have not yet a personal knowledge of
foreigners. The offence--an attack upon the flags and subjects of all
the Treaty Powers, which lack of skill, not of will, alone prevented
from ending in a universal massacre--was the gravest that has been
committed upon foreigners since their residence in Japan. Death was
undoubtedly deserved, and the form chosen was in Japanese eyes
merciful and yet judicial. The crime might have involved a war and
cost hundreds of lives; it was wiped out by one death. I believe that,
in the interest of Japan as well as in our own, the course pursued was
wise, and it was very satisfactory to me to find that one of the
ablest Japanese ministers, with whom I had a discussion upon the
subject, was quite of my opinion.

The ceremonies observed at the _hara-kiri_ appear to vary slightly in
detail in different parts of Japan; but the following memorandum upon
the subject of the rite, as it used to be practised at Yedo during the
rule of the Tycoon, clearly establishes its judicial character. I
translated it from a paper drawn up for me by a Japanese who was able
to speak of what he had seen himself. Three different ceremonies are

1st. _Ceremonies observed at the "hara-kiri" of a Hatamoto (petty
noble of the Tycoon's court) in prison._--This is conducted with great
secrecy. Six mats are spread in a large courtyard of the prison; an
_ometsuké_ (officer whose duties appear to consist in the surveillance
of other officers), assisted by two other _ometsukés_ of the second
and third class, acts as _kenshi_ (sheriff or witness), and sits in
front of the mats. The condemned man, attired in his dress of
ceremony, and wearing his wings of hempen cloth, sits in the centre of
the mats. At each of the four corners of the mats sits a prison
official. Two officers of the Governor of the city act as _kaishaku_
(executioners or seconds), and take their place, one on the right hand
and the other on the left hand of the condemned. The _kaishaku_ on the
left side, announcing his name and surname, says, bowing, "I have the
honour to act as _kaishaku_ to you; have you any last wishes to
confide to me?" The condemned man thanks him and accepts the offer or
not, as the case may be. He then bows to the sheriff, and a wooden
dirk nine and a half inches long is placed before him at a distance of
three feet, wrapped in paper, and lying on a stand such as is used for
offerings in temples. As he reaches forward to take the wooden sword,
and stretches out his neck, the _kaifihaku_ on his left-hand side
draws his sword and strikes off his head. The _kaishaku_ on the
right-hand side takes up the head and shows it to the sheriff. The
body is given to the relations of the deceased for burial. His
property is confiscated.

2nd. _The ceremonies observed at the "hara-kiri" of a Daimio's
retainer._--When the retainer of a Daimio is condemned to perform the
_hara-kiri,_ four mats are placed in the yard of the _yashiki_ or
palace. The condemned man, dressed in his robes of ceremony and
wearing his wings of hempen cloth, sits in the centre. An officer acts
as chief witness, with a second witness under him. Two officers, who
act as _kaishaku_, are on the right and left of the condemned man;
four officers are placed at the corners of the mats. The _kaishaku_,
as in the former case, offers to execute the last wishes of the
condemned. A dirk nine and a half inches long is placed before him on
a stand. In this case the dirk is a real dirk, which the man takes and
stabs himself with on the left side, below the navel, drawing it
across to the right side. At this moment, when he leans forward in
pain, the _kaishaku_ on the left-hand side cuts off the head. The
_kaishaku_ on the right-hand side takes up the head, and shows it to
the sheriff. The body is given to the relations for burial. In most
cases the property of the deceased is confiscated.

3rd. _Self-immolation of a Daimio on account of disgrace_.--When a
Daimio had been guilty of treason or offended against the Tycoon,
inasmuch as the family was disgraced, and an apology could neither be
offered nor accepted, the offending Daimio was condemned to
_hara-kiri_. Calling his councillors around him, he confided to them
his last will and testament for transmission to the Tycoon. Then,
clothing himself in his court dress, he disembowelled himself, and cut
his own throat. His councillors then reported the matter to the
Government, and a coroner was sent to investigate it. To him the
retainers handed the last will and testament of their lord, and be
took it to the Gorôjiu (first council), who transmitted it to the
Tycoon. If the offence was heinous, such as would involve the ruin of
the whole family, by the clemency of the Tycoon, half the property
might be confiscated, and half returned to the heir; if the offence
was trivial, the property was inherited intact by the heir, and the
family did not suffer.

In all cases where the criminal disembowels himself of his own accord
without condemnation and without investigation, inasmuch as he is no
longer able to defend himself, the offence is considered as
non-proven, and the property is not confiscated. In the year 1869 a
motion was brought forward in the Japanese parliament by one Ono
Seigorô, clerk of the house, advocating the abolition of the practice
of _hara-kiri_. Two hundred members out of a house of 209 voted
against the motion, which was supported by only three speakers, six
members not voting on either side. In this debate the _seppuku, or
hara-kiri_, was called "the very shrine of the Japanese national
spirit, and the embodiment in practice of devotion to principle," "a
great ornament to the empire," "a pillar of the constitution," "a
valuable institution, tending to the honour of the nobles, and based
on a compassionate feeling towards the official caste," "a pillar of
religion and a spur to virtue." The whole debate (which is well worth
reading, and an able translation of which by Mr. Aston has appeared in
a recent Blue Book) shows the affection with which the Japanese cling
to the traditions of a chivalrous past. It is worthy of notice that
the proposer, Ono Seigorô, who on more than one occasion rendered
himself conspicuous by introducing motions based upon an admiration of
our Western civilization, was murdered not long after this debate took

There are many stories on record of extraordinary heroism being
displayed in the _hara-kiri._ The case of a young fellow, only twenty
years old, of the Choshiu clan, which was told me the other day by an
eye-witness, deserves mention as a marvellous instance of
determination. Not content with giving himself the one necessary cut,
he slashed himself thrice horizontally and twice vertically. Then he
stabbed himself in the throat until the dirk protruded on the other
side, with its sharp edge to the front; setting his teeth in one
supreme effort, he drove the knife forward with both hands through his
throat, and fell dead.

One more story and I have done. During the revolution, when the
Tycoon, beaten on every side, fled ignominiously to Yedo, he is said
to have determined to fight no more, but to yield everything. A member
of his second council went to him and said, "Sir, the only way for you
now to retrieve the honour of the family of Tokugawa is to disembowel
yourself; and to prove to you that I am sincere and disinterested in
what I say, I am here ready to disembowel myself with you." The Tycoon
flew into a great rage, saying that he would listen to no such
nonsense, and left the room. His faithful retainer, to prove his
honesty, retired to another part of the castle, and solemnly performed
the _hara-kiri._




The ceremonies observed at marriages are various, and it is not right
for a man, exceeding the bounds of his condition in life, to
transgress against the rules which are laid down. When the middle-man
has arranged the preliminaries of the marriage between the two
parties, he carries the complimentary present, which is made at the
time of betrothal, from the future bridegroom to his destined bride;
and if this present is accepted, the lady's family can no longer
retract their promise. This is the beginning of the contract. The
usual betrothal presents are as follows. Persons of the higher classes
send a robe of white silk; a piece of gold embroidery for a girdle; a
piece of silk stuff; a piece of white silk, with a lozenge pattern,
and other silk stuffs (these are made up into a pile of three layers);
fourteen barrels of wine, and seven sorts of condiments. Persons of
the middle class send a piece of white silk stuff; a piece of gold
embroidery for a girdle; a piece of white silk, with a lozenge
pattern, and other silk stuffs (these are made up into a pile of two
layers); ten barrels of wine, and five sorts of condiments. The lower
classes send a robe of white silk, a robe of coloured silk, in a pile
of one layer, together with six barrels of wine and three sorts of
condiments. To the future father-in-law is sent a sword, with a
scabbard for slinging, such as is worn in war-time, together with a
list of the presents; to the mother-in-law, a silk robe, with wine and
condiments. Although all these presents are right and proper for the
occasion, still they must be regulated according to the means of the
persons concerned. The future father-in-law sends a present of equal
value in return to his son-in-law, but the bride elect sends no return
present to her future husband; the present from the father-in-law must
by no means be omitted, but according to his position, if he be poor,
he need only send wine and condiments.

In sending the presents care must be taken not to fold the silk robe.
The two silk robes that are sent on the marriage night must be placed
with the collars stitched together in a peculiar fashion.

The ceremonies of sending the litter to fetch the bride on the wedding
night are as follows. In families of good position, one of the
principal retainers on either side is deputed to accompany the bride
and to receive her. Matting is spread before the entrance-door, upon
which the bride's litter is placed, while the two principal retainers
congratulate one another, and the officers of the bridegroom receive
the litter. If a bucket containing clams, to make the wedding broth,
has been sent with the bride, it is carried and received by a person
of distinction. Close by the entrance-door a fire is lighted on the
right hand and on the left. These fires are called garden-torches. In
front of the corridor along which the litter passes, on the right hand
and on the left, two men and two women, in pairs, place two mortars,
right and left, in which they pound rice; as the litter passes, the
pounded rice from the left-hand side is moved across to the right, and
the two are mixed together into one. This is called the blending of
the rice-meal.[113] Two candles are lighted, the one on the right hand
and the other on the left of the corridor; and after the litter has
passed, the candle on the left is passed over to the right, and, the
two wicks being brought together, the candles are extinguished. These
last three ceremonies are only performed at the weddings of persons of
high rank; they are not observed at the weddings of ordinary persons.
The bride takes with her to her husband's house, as presents, two
silken robes sewed together in a peculiar manner, a dress of ceremony
with wings of hempen cloth, an upper girdle and an under girdle, a
fan, either five or seven pocket-books, and a sword: these seven
presents are placed on a long tray, and their value must depend upon
the means of the family.

[Footnote 113: Cf. Gibbon on Roman Marriages, _Decline and Fall of the
Roman Empire_, vol. iv. p. 345: "The contracting parties were seated
on the same sheepskin; they tasted a salt cake of _far_, or rice; and
this _confarreation_, which denoted the ancient food of Italy, served
as an emblem of their mystic union of mind and body."]

The dress of the bride is a white silk robe with a lozenge pattern,
over an under-robe, also of white silk. Over her head she wears a veil
of white silk, which, when she sits down, she allows to fall about her
as a mantle.

The bride's furniture and effects are all arranged for her by female
attendants from her own house on a day previous to the wedding; and
the bridegroom's effects are in like manner arranged by the women of
his own house.

When the bride meets her husband in the room where the relations are
assembled, she takes her seat for this once in the place of honour,
her husband sitting in a lower place, not directly opposite to her,
but diagonally, and discreetly avoiding her glance.

On the raised part of the floor are laid out beforehand two trays, the
preparations for a feast, a table on which are two wagtails,[114] a
second table with a representation of Elysium, fowls, fish, two
wine-bottles, three wine-cups, and two sorts of kettles for warming
wine. The ladies go out to meet the bride, and invite her into a
dressing-room, and, when she has smoothed her dress, bring her into
the room, and she and the bridegroom take their seats in the places
appointed for them. The two trays are then brought out, and the
ladies-in-waiting, with complimentary speeches, hand dried fish and
seaweed, such as accompany presents, and dried chestnuts to the
couple. Two married ladies then each take one of the wine-bottles
which have been prepared, and place them in the lower part of the
room. Then two handmaids, who act as wine-pourers, bring the kettles
and place them in the lower part of the room. The two wine-bottles
have respectively a male and female butterfly, made of paper, attached
to them. The female butterfly is laid on its back, and the wine is
poured from the bottle into the kettle. The male butterfly is then
taken and laid on the female butterfly, and the wine from the bottle
is poured into the same kettle, and the whole is transferred with due
ceremony to another kettle of different shape, which the wine-pourers
place in front of themselves. Little low dining-tables are laid, one
for each person, before the bride and bridegroom, and before the
bride's ladies-in-waiting; the woman deputed to pour the wine takes
the three wine-cups and places them one on the top of the other before
the bridegroom, who drinks two cups[115] from the upper cup, and pours
a little wine from the full kettle into the empty kettle. The pouring
together of the wine on the wedding night is symbolical of the union
that is being contracted. The bridegroom next pours out a third cup of
wine and drinks it, and the cup is carried by the ladies to the bride,
who drinks three cups, and pours a little wine from one kettle into
the other, as the bridegroom did. A cup is then set down and put on
the other two, and they are carried back to the raised floor and
arranged as before. After this, condiments are set out on the
right-hand side of a little table, and the wine-pourers place the
three cups before the bride, who drinks three cups from the second
cup, which is passed to the bridegroom; he also drinks three cups as
before, and the cups are piled up and arranged in their original
place, by the wine-pourers. A different sort of condiment is next
served on the left-hand side; and the three cups are again placed
before the bridegroom, who drinks three cups from the third cup, and
the bride does the same. When the cups and tables have been put back
in their places, the bridegroom, rising from his seat, rests himself
for a while. During this time soup of fishes' fins and wine are served
to the bride's ladies-in-waiting and to the serving-women. They are
served with a single wine-cup of earthenware, placed upon a small
square tray, and this again is set upon a long tray, and a wine-kettle
with all sorts of condiments is brought from the kitchen. When this
part of the feast is over, the room is put in order, and the bride and
bridegroom take their seats again. Soups and a preparation of rice are
now served, and two earthenware cups, gilt and silvered, are placed on
a tray, on which there is a representation of the island of
Takasago.[116] This time butterflies of gold and silver paper are
attached to the wine-kettles. The bridegroom drinks a cup or two, and
the ladies-in-waiting offer more condiments to the couple. Rice, with
hot water poured over it, according to custom, and carp soup are
brought in, and, the wine having been heated, cups of lacquer ware are
produced; and it is at this time that the feast commences. (Up to now
the eating and drinking has been merely a form.) Twelve plates of
sweetmeats and tea are served; and the dinner consists of three
courses, one course of seven dishes, one of five dishes, and one of
three dishes, or else two courses of five dishes and one of three
dishes, according to the means of the family. The above ceremonies are
those which are proper only in families of the highest rank, and are
by no means fitting for the lower classes, who must not step out of
the proper bounds of their position.

[Footnote 114: The god who created Japan is called Kunitokodachi no
Mikoto. Seven generations of gods after his time existed Izanagi no
Mikoto and Izanami no Mikoto--the first a god, the second a goddess.
As these two divine beings were standing upon the floating bridge of
heaven, two wagtails came; and the gods, watching the amorous
dalliance of the two birds, invented the art of love. From their union
thus inaugurated sprang the mountains, the rivers, the grass, the
trees, the remainder of the gods, and mankind. Another fable is, that
as the two gods were standing on the floating bridge of heaven,
Izanagi no Mikoto, taking the heavenly jewelled spear, stirred up the
sea, and the drops which fell from the point of it congealed and
became an island, which was called _Onokoro-jima_, on which the two
gods, descending from heaven, took up their abode.]

[Footnote 115: Each cup contains but a sip.]

[Footnote 116: In the island of Takasago, in the province of Harima,
stands a pine-tree, called the "pine of mutual old age." At the root
the tree is single, but towards the centre it springs into two
stems--an old, old pine, models of which are used at weddings as a
symbol that the happy pair shall reach old age together. Its evergreen
leaves are an emblem of the unchanging constancy of the heart. Figures
of an old man and woman under the tree are the spirits of the old

There is a popular tradition that, in the ceremony of drinking wine on
the wedding night, the bride should drink first, and then hand the cup
to the bridegroom; but although there are some authorities upon
ceremonies who are in favour of this course, it is undoubtedly a very
great mistake. In the "Record of Rites," by Confucius, it is written,
"The man stands in importance before the woman: it is the right of the
strong over the weak. Heaven ranks before earth; the prince ranks
before his minister. This law of honour is one." Again, in the "Book
of History," by Confucius, it is written, "The hen that crows in the
morning brings misfortune." In our own literature in the Jusho (Book
of the Gods), "When the goddesses saw the gods for the first time,
they were the first to cry cut, 'Oh! what beautiful males!' But the
gods were greatly displeased, and said, 'We, who are so strong and
powerful, should by rights have been the first to speak; how is it
that, on the contrary, these females speak first? This is indeed
vulgar.'" Again it is written, "When the gods brought forth the
cripple Hiruko, the Lord of Heaven, answering, said that his
misfortune was a punishment upon the goddesses who had presumed to
speak first." The same rule therefore exists in China and in Japan,
and it is held to be unlucky that the wife should take precedence:
with this warning people should be careful how they commit a breach of
etiquette, although it may be sanctioned by the vulgar.

At the wedding of the lower classes, the bride and her ladies and
friends have a feast, but the bridegroom has no feast; and when the
bride's feast is over, the bridegroom is called in and is presented
with the bride's wine-cup; but as the forms observed are very vulgar,
it is not worth while to point out the rules which guide them. As this
night is essentially of importance to the married couple only, there
are some writers on ceremonies who have laid down that no feast need
be prepared for the bride's ladies, and in my opinion they are right:
for the husband and wife at the beginning of their intercourse to be
separated, and for the bride alone to be feasted like an ordinary
guest, appears to be an inauspicious opening. I have thus pointed out
two ill-omened customs which are to be avoided.

The ceremonies observed at the weddings of persons of ordinary rank
are as follows:--The feast which is prepared is in proportion to the
means of the individuals. There must be three wine-cups set out upon a
tray. The ceremony of drinking wine three times is gone through, as
described above, after which the bride changes her dress, and a feast
of three courses is produced--two courses of five dishes and one of
three dishes, or one course of five dishes, one of three, and one of
two, according to the means of the family. A tray, with a
representation of the island of Takasago, is brought out, and the wine
is heated; sweetmeats of five or seven sorts are also served in boxes
or trays; and when the tea comes in, the bridegroom gets up, and goes
to rest himself. If the wine kettles are of tin, they must not be set
out in the room: they must be brought in from the kitchen; and in that
case the paper butterflies are not attached to them.

In old times the bride and bridegroom used to change their dress three
or five times during the ceremony; but at the present time, after the
nine cups of wine have been drunk, in the manner recorded above, the
change of dress takes place once. The bride puts on the silk robe
which she has received from the bridegroom, while he dons the dress of
ceremony which has been brought by the bride.

When these ceremonies have been observed, the bride's ladies conduct
her to the apartments of her parents-in-law. The bride carries with
her silk robes, as presents for her parents and brothers and
sister-in-law. A tray is brought out, with three wine-cups, which are
set before the parents-in-law and the bride. The father-in-law drinks
three cups and hands the cup to the bride, who, after she has drunk
two cups, receives a present from her father-in-law; she then drinks a
third cup, and returns the cup to her father-in-law, who again drinks
three cups. Fish is then brought in, and, in the houses of ordinary
persons, a preparation of rice. Upon this the mother-in-law, taking
the second cup, drinks three cups and passes the cup to the bride, who
drinks two cups and receives a present from her mother-in-law: she
then drinks a third cup and gives back the cup to the mother-in-law,
who drinks three cups again. Condiments are served, and, in ordinary
houses, soup; after which the bride drinks once from the third cup and
hands it to her father-in-law, who drinks thrice from it; the bride
again drinks twice from it, and after her the mother-in-law drinks
thrice. The parents-in-law and the bride thus have drunk in all nine
times. If there are any brothers or sisters-in-law, soup and
condiments are served, and a single porcelain wine-cup is placed
before them on a tray, and they drink at the word of command of the
father-in-law. It is not indispensable that soup should be served upon
this occasion. If the parents of the bridegroom are dead, instead of
the above ceremony, he leads his bride to make her obeisances before
the tablets on which their names are inscribed.

In old days, after the ceremonies recorded above had been gone
through, the bridegroom used to pay a visit of ceremony to the bride's
parents; but at the present time the visit is paid before the wedding,
and although the forms observed on the occasion resemble those of the
ancient times, still they are different, and it would be well that we
should resume the old fashion. The two trays which had been used at
the wedding feast, loaded with fowl and fish and condiments neatly
arranged, used to be put into a long box and sent to the
father-in-law's house. Five hundred and eighty cakes of rice in
lacquer boxes were also sent. The modern practice of sending the rice
cakes in a bucket is quite contrary to etiquette: no matter how many
lacquer boxes may be required for the purpose, they are the proper
utensils for sending the cakes in. Three, five, seven, or ten men's
loads of presents, according to the means of the family, are also
offered. The son-in-law gives a sword and a silk robe to his
father-in-law, and a silk robe to his mother-in-law, and also gives
presents to his brothers and sisters-in-law. (The ceremony of drinking
wine is the same as that which takes place between the bride and her
parents-in-law, with a very slight deviation: the bridegroom receives
no presents from his mother-in-law, and when the third cup is drunk
the son-in-law drinks before the father-in-law). A return visit is
paid by the bride's parents to the bridegroom, at which similar forms
are observed.

At the weddings of the great, the bridal chamber is composed of three
rooms thrown into one,[117] and newly decorated. If there are only two
rooms available, a third room is built for the occasion. The presents,
which have been mentioned above, are set out on two trays. Besides
these, the bridegroom's clothes are hung up upon clothes-racks. The
mattress and bedclothes are placed in a closet. The bride's effects
must all be arranged by the women who are sent on a previous day for
the purpose, or it may be done whilst the bride is changing her
clothes. The shrine for the image of the family god is placed on a
shelf adjoining the sleeping-place. There is a proper place for the
various articles of furniture. The _kaioké_[118] is placed on the
raised floor; but if there be no raised floor, it is placed in a
closet with the door open, so that it may be conspicuously seen. The
books are arranged on a book-shelf or on a cabinet; if there be
neither shelf nor cabinet, they are placed on the raised floor. The
bride's clothes are set out on a clothes-rack; in families of high
rank, seven robes are hung up on the rack; five of these are taken
away and replaced by others, and again three are taken away and
replaced by others; and there are either two or three clothes-racks:
the towel-rack is set up in a place of more honour than the
clothes-racks. If there is no dressing-room, the bride's bedclothes
and dressing furniture are placed in the sleeping-room. No screens are
put up on the bridal night, but a fitting place is chosen for them on
the following day. All these ceremonies must be in proportion to the
means of the family.

[Footnote 117: The partitions of a Japanese suite of apartments being
merely composed of paper sliding-screens, any number of rooms,
according to the size of the house, can be thrown into one at a
moment's notice.]

[Footnote 118: A _kaioké_ is a kind of lacquer basin for washing the
hands and face.]


The author of the "Sho-rei Hikki" makes no allusion to the custom of
shaving the eyebrows and blackening the teeth of married women, in
token of fidelity to their lords. In the upper classes, young ladies
usually blacken their teeth before leaving their father's house to
enter that of their husbands, and complete the ceremony by shaving
their eyebrows immediately after the wedding, or, at any rate, not
later than upon the occasion of their first pregnancy.

The origin of the fashion is lost in antiquity. As a proof that it
existed before the eleventh century, A.D., a curious book called
"Teijô Zakki," or the Miscellaneous Writings of Teijô, cites the diary
of Murasaki Shikibu, the daughter of one Tamésoki, a retainer of the
house of Echizen, a lady of the court and famous poetess, the
authoress of a book called "Genji-mono-gatari," and other works. In
her diary it is written that on the last night of the fifth year of
the period Kankô (A.D. 1008), in order that she might appear to
advantage on New Year's Day, she retired to the privacy of her own
apartment, and repaired the deficiencies of her personal appearance by
re-blackening her teeth, and otherwise adorning herself. Allusion is
also made to the custom in the "Yeiga-mono-gatari," an ancient book by
the same authoress.

The Emperor and nobles of his court are also in the habit of
blackening their teeth; but the custom is gradually dying out in their
case. It is said to have originated with one Hanazono Arishito, who
held the high rank of _Sa-Daijin,_ or "minister of the left," at the
commencement of the twelfth century, in the reign of the Emperor
Toba. Being a, man of refined and sensual tastes, this minister
plucked out his eyebrows, shaved his beard, blackened his teeth,
powdered his face white, and rouged his lips in order to render
himself as like a woman as possible. In the middle of the twelfth
century, the nobles of the court, who went to the wars, all blackened
their teeth; and from this time forth the practice became a fashion of
the court. The followers of the chiefs of the Hôjô dynasty also
blackened their teeth, as an emblem of their fidelity; and this was
called the Odawara fashion, after the castle town of the family. Thus
a custom, which had its origin in a love of sensuality and pleasure,
became mistaken for the sign of a good and faithful spirit.

The fashion of blackening the teeth entails no little trouble upon its
followers, for the colour must be renewed every day, or at least every
other day. Strange and repelling as the custom appears at first, the
eye soon learns to look without aversion upon a well-blacked and
polished set of teeth; but when the colour begins to wear away, and
turns to a dullish grey, streaked with black, the mouth certainly
becomes most hideous. Although no one who reads this is likely to put
a recipe for blackening the teeth to a practical test, I append one
furnished to me by a fashionable chemist and druggist in Yedo:--

"Take three pints of water, and, having warmed it, add half a
teacupful of wine. Put into this mixture a quantity of red-hot iron;
allow it to stand for five or six days, when there will be a scum on
the top of the mixture, which should then be poured into a small
teacup and placed near a fire. When it is warm, powdered gallnuts and
iron filings should be added to it, and the whole should be warmed
again. The liquid is then painted on to the teeth by means of a soft
feather brush, with more powdered gallnuts and iron, and, after
several applications, the desired colour will be obtained."

The process is said to be a preservative of the teeth, and I have
known men who were habitual sufferers from toothache to prefer the
martyrdom of ugliness to that of pain, and apply the black colouring
when the paroxysms were severe. One man told me that he experienced
immediate relief by the application, and that so long as he blackened
his teeth he was quite free from pain.



In the fifth month of a woman's pregnancy, a very lucky day is
selected for the ceremony of putting on a girdle, which is of white
and red silk, folded, and eight feet in length. The husband produces
it from the left sleeve of his dress; and the wife receives it in the
right sleeve of her dress, and girds it on for the first time. This
ceremony is only performed once. When the child is born, the white
part of the girdle is dyed sky-blue, with a peculiar mark on it, and
is made into clothes for the child. These, however, are not the first
clothes which it wears. The dyer is presented with wine and condiments
when the girdle is entrusted to him. It is also customary to beg some
matron, who has herself had an easy confinement, for the girdle which
she wore during her pregnancy; and this lady is called the
girdle-mother. The borrowed girdle is tied on with that given by the
husband, and the girdle-mother at this time gives and receives a

The furniture of the lying-in chamber is as follows:--Two tubs for
placing under-petticoats in; two tubs to hold the placenta; a piece of
furniture like an arm-chair, without legs, for the mother to lean
against;[119] a stool, which is used by the lady who embraces the
loins of the woman in labour to support her, and which is afterwards
used by the midwife in washing the child; several pillows of various
sizes, that the woman in child-bed may ease her head at her pleasure;
new buckets, basins, and ladles of various sizes. Twenty-four
baby-robes, twelve of silk and twelve of cotton, must be prepared; the
hems must be dyed saffron-colour. There must be an apron for the
midwife, if the infant is of high rank, in order that, when she washes
it, she may not place it immediately on her own knees: this apron
should be made of a kerchief of cotton. When the child is taken out of
the warm water, its body must be dried with a kerchief of fine cotton,

[Footnote 119: Women in Japan are delivered in a kneeling position,
and after the birth of the child they remain night and day in a
squatting position, leaning back against a support, for twenty-one
days, after which they are allowed to recline. Up to that time the
recumbent position is supposed to produce a dangerous rush of blood to
the head.]

On the seventy-fifth or hundred and twentieth day after its birth, the
baby leaves off its baby-linen; and this day is kept as a holiday.
Although it is the practice generally to dress up children in various
kinds of silk, this is very wrong, as the two principles of life being
thereby injured, the child contracts disease; and on this account the
ancients strictly forbade the practice. In modern times the child is
dressed up in beautiful clothes; but to put a cap on its head,
thinking to make much of it, when, on the contrary, it is hurtful to
the child, should be avoided. It would be an excellent thing if rich
people, out of care for the health of their children, would put a stop
to a practice to which fashion clings.

On the hundred and twentieth day after their birth children, whether
male or female, are weaned.[120] This day is fixed, and there is no
need to choose a lucky day. If the child be a boy, it is fed by a
gentleman of the family; if a girl, by a lady. The ceremony is as
follows:--The child is brought out and given to the weaning father or
sponsor. He takes it on his left knee. A small table is prepared. The
sponsor who is to feed the child, taking some rice which has been
offered to the gods, places it on the corner of the little table which
is by him; He dips his chop-sticks thrice in this rice, and very
quietly places them in the mouth of the child, pretending to give it
some of the juice of the rice. Five cakes of rice meal are also placed
on the left side of the little table, and with these he again pretends
to feed the child three times. When this ceremony is over, the child
is handed back to its guardian, and three wine-cups are produced on a
tray. The sponsor drinks three cups, and presents the cup to the
child. When the child has been made to pretend to drink two cups, it
receives a present from its sponsor, after which the child is supposed
to drink a third time. Dried fish is then brought in, and the baby,
having drunk thrice, passes the cup to its sponsor, who drinks thrice.
More fish of a different kind is brought in. The drinking is repeated,
and the weaning father receives a present from the child. The
guardian, according to rules of propriety, should be near the child. A
feast should be prepared, according to the means of the family. If the
child be a girl, a weaning mother performs this ceremony, and suitable
presents must be offered on either side. The wine-drinking is gone
through as above.

[Footnote 120: This is only a nominal weaning. Japanese children are
not really weaned until far later than is ordinary in Europe; and it
is by no means uncommon to see a mother in the poorer classes suckling
a hulking child of from five to seven years old. One reason given for
this practice is, that by this means the danger of having to provide
for large families is lessened.]

On the fifteenth day of the eleventh month of the child's third year,
be the child boy or girl, its hair is allowed to grow. (Up to this
time the whole head has been shaven: now three patches are allowed to
grow, one on each side and one at the back of the head.) On this
occasion also a sponsor is selected. A large tray, on which are a
comb, scissors, paper string, a piece of string for tying the hair in
a knot, cotton wool, and the bit of dried fish or seaweed which
accompanies presents, one of each, and seven rice straws--these seven
articles must be prepared.[121]

[Footnote 121: For a few days previous to the ceremony the child's
head is not shaved.]

The child is placed facing the point of the compass which is
auspicious for that year, and the sponsor, if the child be a boy,
takes the scissors and gives three snips at the hair on the left
temple, three on the right, and three in the centre. He then takes the
piece of cotton wool and spreads it over the child's head, from the
forehead, so as to make it hang down behind his neck, and he places
the bit of dried fish or seaweed and the seven straws at the bottom of
the piece of cotton wool, attaching them to the wool, and ties them in
two loops, like a man's hair, with a piece of paper string; he then
makes a woman's knot with two pieces of string. The ceremony of
drinking wine is the same as that gone through at the weaning. If the
child is a girl, a lady acts as sponsor; the hair-cutting is begun
from the right temple instead of from the left. There is no difference
in the rest of the ceremony.

On the fifth day of the eleventh month of the child's fourth year he
is invested with the _hakama_, or loose trousers worn by the Samurai.
On this occasion again a sponsor is called in. The child receives from
the sponsor a dress of ceremony, on which are embroidered storks and
tortoises (emblems of longevity--the stork is said to live a thousand
years, the tortoise ten thousand), fir-trees (which, being evergreen,
and not changing their colour, are emblematic of an unchangingly
virtuous heart), and bamboos (emblematic of an upright and straight
mind). The child is placed upright on a chequer-board, facing the
auspicious point of the compass, and invested with the dress of
ceremony. It also receives a sham sword and dirk. The usual ceremony
of drinking wine is observed.

NOTE.--In order to understand the following ceremony, it is necessary
to recollect that the child at three years of age is allowed to grow
its hair in three patches. By degrees the hair is allowed to grow, the
crown alone being shaved, and a forelock left. At ten or eleven years
of age the boy's head is dressed like a man's, with the exception of
this forelock.

The ceremony of cutting off the forelock used in old days to include
the ceremony of putting on the noble's cap; but as this has gone out
of fashion, there is no need to treat of it.

Any time after the youth has reached the age of fifteen, according to
the cleverness and ability which he shows, a lucky day is chosen for
this most important ceremony, after which the boy takes his place
amongst full-grown men. A person of virtuous character is chosen as
sponsor or "cap-father." Although the man's real name (that name which
is only known to his intimate relations and friends, not the one by
which he usually goes in society) is usually determined before this
date, if it be not so, he receives his real name from his sponsor on
this day. In old days there used to be a previous ceremony of cutting
the hair off the forehead in a straight line, so as to make two
angles: up to this time the youth wore long sleeves like a woman, and
from that day he wore short sleeves. This was called the "half
cutting." The poorer classes have a habit of shortening the sleeves
before this period; but that is contrary to all rule, and is an evil

A common tray is produced, on which is placed an earthenware wine-cup.
The sponsor drinks thrice, and hands the cup to the young man, who,
having also drunk thrice, gives back the cup to the sponsor, who again
drinks thrice, and then proceeds to tie up the young man's hair.

There are three ways of tying the hair, and there is also a particular
fashion of letting the forelock grow long; and when this is the case,
the forelock is only clipped. (This is especially the fashion among
the nobles of the Mikado's court.) This applies only to persons who
wear the court cap, and not to gentlemen of lower grade. Still, these
latter persons, if they wish to go through the ceremony in its
entirety, may do so without impropriety. Gentlemen of the Samurai or
military class cut off the whole of the forelock. The sponsor either
ties up the hair of the young man, or else, placing the forelock on a
willow board, cuts it off with a knife, or else, amongst persons of
very high rank, he only pretends to do so, and goes into another room
whilst the real cutting is going on, and then returns to the same
room. The sponsor then, without letting the young man see what he is
doing, places the lock which has been cut into the pocket of his left
sleeve, and, leaving the room, gives it to the young man's guardians,
who wrap it in paper and offer it up at the shrine of the family gods.
But this is wrong. The locks should be well wrapped up in paper and
kept in the house until the man's death, to serve as a reminder of the
favours which a man receives from his father and mother in his
childhood; when he dies, it should be placed in his coffin and buried
with him. The wine-drinking and presents are as before.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the "Sho-rei Hikki," the book from which the above is translated,
there is no notice of the ceremony of naming the child: the following
is a translation from a Japanese MS.:--

"On the seventh day after its birth, the child receives its name; the
ceremony is called the congratulations of the seventh night. On this
day some one of the relations of the family, who holds an exalted
position, either from his rank or virtues, selects a name for the
child, which name he keeps until the time of the cutting of the
forelock, when he takes the name which he is to bear as a man. This
second name is called _Yeboshina_,[122] the cap-name, which is
compounded of syllables taken from an old name of the family and from
the name of the sponsor. If the sponsor afterwards change his name,
his name-child must also change his name. For instance, Minamoto no
Yoshitsuné, the famous warrior, as a child was called Ushiwakamaru;
when he grew up to be a man, he was called Kurô; and his real name was

[Footnote 122: From _Yeboshi_, a court cap, and _Na_, a name.]



On the death of a parent, the mourning clothes worn are made of coarse
hempen cloth, and during the whole period of mourning these must be
worn night and day. As the burial of his parents is the most important
ceremony which a man has to go through during his whole life, when the
occasion comes, in order that there be no confusion, he must employ
some person to teach him the usual and proper rites. Above all things
to be reprehended is the burning of the dead: they should be interred
without burning.[123] The ceremonies to be observed at a funeral
should by rights have been learned before there is occasion to put
them in practice. If a man have no father or mother, he is sure to
have to bury other relations; and so he should not disregard this
study. There are some authorities who select lucky days and hours and
lucky places for burying the dead, but this is wrong; and when they
talk about curses being brought upon posterity by not observing these
auspicious seasons and places, they make a great mistake. It is a
matter of course that an auspicious day must be chosen so far as
avoiding wind and rain is concerned, that men may bury their dead
without their minds being distracted; and it is important to choose a
fitting cemetery, lest in after days the tomb should be damaged by
rain, or by men walking over it, or by the place being turned into a
field, or built upon. When invited to a friend's or neighbour's
funeral, a man should avoid putting on smart clothes and dresses of
ceremony; and when he follows the coffin, he should not speak in a
loud voice to the person next him, for that is very rude; and even
should he have occasion to do so, he should avoid entering wine-shops
or tea-houses on his return from the funeral.

[Footnote 123: On the subject of burning the dead, see a note to the
story of Chôbei of Bandzuin.]

The list of persons present at a funeral should be written on slips of
paper, and firmly bound together. It may be written as any other list,
only it must not be written beginning at the right hand, as is usually
the case, but from the left hand (as is the case in European books).

On the day of burial, during the funeral service, incense is burned in
the temple before the tablet on which is inscribed the name under
which the dead person enters salvation.[124] The incense-burners,
having washed their hands, one by one, enter the room where the tablet
is exposed, and advance half-way up to the tablet, facing it;
producing incense wrapped in paper from their bosoms, they hold it in
their left hands, and, taking a pinch with the right hand, they place
the packet in their left sleeve. If the table on which the tablet is
placed be high, the person offering incense half raises himself from
his crouching position; if the table be low, he remains crouching to
burn the incense, after which he takes three steps backwards, with
bows and reverences, and retires six feet, when he again crouches down
to watch the incense-burning, and bows to the priests who are sitting
in a row with their chief at their head, after which he rises and
leaves the room. Up to the time of burning the incense no notice is
taken of the priest. At the ceremony of burning incense before the
grave, the priests are not saluted. The packet of incense is made of
fine paper folded in three, both ways.

[Footnote 124: After death a person receives a new name. For instance,
the famous Prince Tokugawa Iyéyasu entered salvation as Gongen Sama.
This name is called _okurina_, or the accompanying name.]


The reason why the author of the "Sho-rei Hikki" has treated so
briefly of the funeral ceremonies is probably that these rites, being
invariably entrusted to the Buddhist priesthood, vary according to the
sect of the latter; and, as there are no less than fifteen sects of
Buddhism in Japan, it would be a long matter to enter into the
ceremonies practised by each. Should Buddhism be swept out of Japan,
as seems likely to be the case, men will probably return to the old
rites which obtained before its introduction in the sixth century of
our era. What those rites were I have been unable to learn.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Tales of Old Japan" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.