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Title: In Ghostly Japan
Author: Hearn, Lafcadio
Language: English
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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.

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In Ghostly Japan


And it was at the hour of sunset that they came to the foot of
the mountain. There was in that place no sign of life,--neither
token of water, nor trace of plant, nor shadow of flying bird,--
nothing but desolation rising to desolation. And the summit was
lost in heaven.

Then the Bodhisattva said to his young companion:--"What you have
asked to see will be shown to you. But the place of the Vision is
far; and the way is rude. Follow after me, and do not fear:
strength will be given you."

Twilight gloomed about them as they climbed. There was no beaten
path, nor any mark of former human visitation; and the way was
over an endless heaping of tumbled fragments that rolled or
turned beneath the foot. Sometimes a mass dislodged would clatter
down with hollow echoings;--sometimes the substance trodden would
burst like an empty shell....Stars pointed and thrilled; and the
darkness deepened.

"Do not fear, my son," said the Bodhisattva, guiding: "danger
there is none, though the way be grim."

Under the stars they climbed,--fast, fast,--mounting by help of
power superhuman. High zones of mist they passed; and they saw
below them, ever widening as they climbed, a soundless flood of
cloud, like the tide of a milky sea.

Hour after hour they climbed;--and forms invisible yielded to
their tread with dull soft crashings;--and faint cold fires
lighted and died at every breaking.

And once the pilgrim-youth laid hand on a something smooth that
was not stone,--and lifted it,--and dimly saw the cheekless gibe
of death.

"Linger not thus, my son!" urged the voice of the teacher;--"the
summit that we must gain is very far away!"

On through the dark they climbed,--and felt continually beneath
them the soft strange breakings,--and saw the icy fires worm and
die,--till the rim of the night turned grey, and the stars began
to fail, and the east began to bloom.

Yet still they climbed,--fast, fast,--mounting by help of power
superhuman. About them now was frigidness of death,--and silence
tremendous....A gold flame kindled in the east.

Then first to the pilgrim's gaze the steeps revealed their
nakedness;--and a trembling seized him,--and a ghastly fear. For
there was not any ground,--neither beneath him nor about him nor
above him,--but a heaping only, monstrous and measureless, of
skulls and fragments of skulls and dust of bone,--with a shimmer
of shed teeth strown through the drift of it, like the shimmer of
scrags of shell in the wrack of a tide.

"Do not fear, my son!" cried the voice of the Bodhisattva;--"only
the strong of heart can win to the place of the Vision!"

Behind them the world had vanished. Nothing remained but the
clouds beneath, and the sky above, and the heaping of skulls
between,--up-slanting out of sight.

Then the sun climbed with the climbers; and there was no warmth
in the light of him, but coldness sharp as a sword. And the
horror of stupendous height, and the nightmare of stupendous
depth, and the terror of silence, ever grew and grew, and weighed
upon the pilgrim, and held his feet,--so that suddenly all power
departed from him, and he moaned like a sleeper in dreams.

"Hasten, hasten, my son!" cried the Bodhisattva: "the day is
brief, and the summit is very far away."

But the pilgrim shrieked,--"I fear! I fear unspeakably!--and the
power has departed from me!"

"The power will return, my son," made answer the Bodhisattva....
"Look now below you and above you and about you, and tell me what
you see."

"I cannot," cried the pilgrim, trembling and clinging; "I dare
not look beneath! Before me and about me there is nothing but
skulls of men."

"And yet, my son," said the Bodhisattva, laughing softly,--"and
yet you do not know of what this mountain is made."

The other, shuddering, repeated:--"I fear!--unutterably I
 fear!...there is nothing but skulls of men!"

"A mountain of skulls it is," responded the Bodhisattva. "But
know, my son, that all of them ARE YOUR OWN! Each has at some
time been the nest of your dreams and delusions and desires. Not
even one of them is the skull of any other being. All,--all
without exception,--have been yours, in the billions of your
former lives."


Recently, while passing through a little street tenanted chiefly
by dealers in old wares, I noticed a furisode, or long-sleeved
robe, of the rich purple tint called murasaki, hanging before one
of the shops. It was a robe such as might have been worn by a
lady of rank in the time of the Tokugawa. I stopped to look at
the five crests upon it; and in the same moment there came to my
recollection this legend of a similar robe said to have once
caused the destruction of Yedo.

Nearly two hundred and fifty years ago, the daughter of a rich
merchant of the city of the Shoguns, while attending some temple-
festival, perceived in the crowd a young samurai of remarkable
beauty, and immediately fell in love with him. Unhappily for her, he
disappeared in the press before she could learn through her
attendants who he was or whence he had come. But his image remained
vivid in her memory,--even to the least detail of his costume. The
holiday attire then worn by samurai youths was scarcely less
brilliant than that of young girls; and the upper dress of this
handsome stranger had seemed wonderfully beautiful to the enamoured
maiden. She fancied that by wearing a robe of like quality and
color, bearing the same crest, she might be able to attract his
notice on some future occasion.

Accordingly she had such a robe made, with very long sleeves,
according to the fashion of the period; and she prized it
greatly. She wore it whenever she went out; and when at home she
would suspend it in her room, and try to imagine the form of her
unknown beloved within it. Sometimes she would pass hours before
it,--dreaming and weeping by turns. And she would pray to the
gods and the Buddhas that she might win the young man's
affection,--often repeating the invocation of the Nichiren sect:
Namu myo ho rengé kyo!

But she never saw the youth again; and she pined with longing for
him, and sickened, and died, and was buried. After her burial,
the long-sleeved robe that she had so much prized was given to
the Buddhist temple of which her family were parishioners. It is
an old custom to thus dispose of the garments of the dead.

The priest was able to sell the robe at a good price; for it was
a costly silk, and bore no trace of the tears that had fallen
upon it. It was bought by a girl of about the same age as the
dead lady. She wore it only one day. Then she fell sick, and
began to act strangely,--crying out that she was haunted by the
vision of a beautiful young man, and that for love of him she was
going to die. And within a little while she died; and the long-
sleeved robe was a second time presented to the temple.

Again the priest sold it; and again it became the property of a
young girl, who wore it only once. Then she also sickened, and
talked of a beautiful shadow, and died, and was buried. And the
robe was given a third time to the temple; and the priest
wondered and doubted.

Nevertheless he ventured to sell the luckless garment once more.
Once more it was purchased by a girl and once more worn; and the
wearer pined and died. And the robe was given a fourth time to
the temple.

Then the priest felt sure that there was some evil influence at
work; and he told his acolytes to make a fire in the temple-
court, and to burn the robe.

So they made a fire, into which the robe was thrown. But as the
silk began to burn, there suddenly appeared upon it dazzling
characters of flame,--the characters of the invocation, Namu myo
ho rengé kyo;--and these, one by one, leaped like great sparks to
the temple roof; and the temple took fire.

Embers from the burning temple presently dropped upon
neighbouring roofs; and the whole street was soon ablaze. Then a
sea-wind, rising, blew destruction into further streets; and the
conflagration spread from street to street, and from district
into district, till nearly the whole of the city was consumed.
And this calamity, which occurred upon the eighteenth day of the
first month of the first year of Meireki (1655), is still
remembered in Tokyo as the Furisode-Kwaji,--the Great Fire of the
Long-sleeved Robe.

According to a story-book called Kibun-Daijin, the name of the girl
who caused the robe to be made was O-Same; and she was the daughter
of Hikoyemon, a wine-merchant of Hyakusho-machi, in the district of
Azabu. Because of her beauty she was also called Azabu-Komachi, or
the Komachi of Azabu.(1) The same book says that the temple of the
tradition was a Nichiren temple called Hon-myoji, in the district of
Hongo; and that the crest upon the robe was a kikyo-flower. But
there are many different versions of the story; and I distrust the
Kibun-Daijin because it asserts that the beautiful samurai was not
really a man, but a transformed dragon, or water-serpent, that used
to inhabit the lake at Uyeno,--Shinobazu-no-Ike.

1 After more than a thousand years, the name of Komachi, or Ono-no-
Komachi, is still celebrated in Japan. She was the most beautiful
woman of her time, and so great a poet that she could move heaven by
her verses, and cause rain to fall in time of drought. Many men
loved her in vain; and many are said to have died for love of her.
But misfortunes visited her when her youth had passed; and, after
having been reduced to the uttermost want, she became a beggar, and
died at last upon the public highway, near Kyoto. As it was thought
shameful to bury her in the foul rags found upon her, some poor
person gave a wornout summer-robe (katabira) to wrap her body in;
and she was interred near Arashiyama at a spot still pointed out to
travellers as the "Place of the Katabira" (Katabira-no-Tsuchi).


I see, rising out of darkness, a lotos in a vase. Most of the vase
is invisible, but I know that it is of bronze, and that its
glimpsing handles are bodies of dragons. Only the lotos is fully
illuminated: three pure white flowers, and five great leaves of gold
and green,--gold above, green on the upcurling under-surface,--an
artificial lotos. It is bathed by a slanting stream of sunshine,--
the darkness beneath and beyond is the dusk of a temple-chamber. I
do not see the opening through which the radiance pours, but I am
aware that it is a small window shaped in the outline-form of a

The reason that I see the lotos--one memory of my first visit to
a Buddhist sanctuary--is that there has come to me an odor of
incense. Often when I smell incense, this vision defines; and
usually thereafter other sensations of my first day in Japan
revive in swift succession with almost painful acuteness.

It is almost ubiquitous,--this perfume of incense. It makes one
element of the faint but complex and never-to-be-forgotten odor
of the Far East. It haunts the dwelling-house not less than the
temple,--the home of the peasant not less than the yashiki of the
prince. Shinto shrines, indeed, are free from it;--incense being
an abomination to the elder gods. But wherever Buddhism lives
there is incense. In every house containing a Buddhist shrine or
Buddhist tablets, incense is burned at certain times; and in even
the rudest country solitudes you will find incense smouldering
before wayside images,--little stone figures of Fudo, Jizo, or
Kwannon. Many experiences of travel,--strange impressions of
sound as well as of sight,--remain associated in my own memory
with that fragrance:--vast silent shadowed avenues leading to
weird old shrines;--mossed flights of worn steps ascending to
temples that moulder above the clouds;--joyous tumult of festival
nights;--sheeted funeral-trains gliding by in glimmer of
lanterns; murmur of household prayer in fishermen's huts on far
wild coasts;--and visions of desolate little graves marked only
by threads of blue smoke ascending,--graves of pet animals or
birds remembered by simple hearts in the hour of prayer to Amida,
the Lord of Immeasurable Light.

But the odor of which I speak is that of cheap incense only,--the
incense in general use. There are many other kinds of incense;
and the range of quality is amazing. A bundle of common incense-
rods--(they are about as thick as an ordinary pencil-lead, and
somewhat longer)--can be bought for a few sen; while a bundle of
better quality, presenting to inexperienced eyes only some
difference in color, may cost several yen, and be cheap at the
price. Still costlier sorts of incense,--veritable luxuries,--
take the form of lozenges, wafers, pastilles; and a small
envelope of such material may be worth four or five pounds-
sterling. But the commercial and industrial questions relating to
Japanese incense represent the least interesting part of a
remarkably curious subject.


Curious indeed, but enormous by reason of it infinity of
tradition and detail. I am afraid even to think of the size of
the volume that would be needed to cover it.... Such a work would
properly begin with some brief account of the earliest knowledge
and use of aromatics in Japan. I would next treat of the records
and legends of the first introduction of Buddhist incense fron
Korea,--when King Shomyo of Kudara, in 551 A. D., sent to the
island-empire a collection of sutras, an image of the Buddha, and
one complete set of furniture for a temple. Then something would
have to be said about those classifications of incense which were
made during the tenth century, in the periods of Engi and of
Tenryaku,--and about the report of the ancient state-councillor,
Kimitaka-Sangi, who visited China in the latter part of the
thirteenth century, and transmitted to the Emperor Yomei the
wisdom of the Chinese concerning incense. Then mention should be
made of the ancient incenses still preserved in various Japanese
temples, and of the famous fragments of ranjatai (publicly
exhibited at Nara in the tenth year of Meiji) which furnished
supplies to the three great captains, Nobunaga, Hideyoshi, and
Iyeyasu. After this should fol-low an outline of the history of
mixed incenses made in Japan,--with notes on the classifications
devised by the luxurious Takauji, and on the nomenclature
established later by Ashikaga Yoshimasa, who collected one
hundred and thirty varieties of incense, and invented for the
more precious of them names recognized even to this day,--such as
"Blossom-Showering," "Smoke-of-Fuji," and "Flower-of-the-Pure-
Law." Examples ought to be given likewise of traditions attaching
to historical incenses preserved in several princely families,
together with specimens of those hereditary recipes for incense-
making which have been transmitted from generation to generation
through hundreds of years, and are still called after their
august inventors,--as "the Method of Hina-Dainagon," "the Method
of Sento-In," etc. Recipes also should be given of those strange
incenses made "to imitate the perfume of the lotos, the smell of
the summer breeze, and the odor of the autumn wind." Some legends
of the great period of incense-luxury should be cited,--such as
the story of Sue Owari-no-Kami, who built for himself a palace of
incense-woods, and set fire to it on the night of his revolt,
when the smoke of its burning perfumed the land to a distance of
twelve miles.... Of course the mere compilation of materials for
a history of mixed-incenses would entail the study of a host of
documents, treatises, and books,--particularly of such strange
works as the Kun-Shu-Rui-Sho, or "Incense-Collector's
Classifying-Manual";--containing the teachings of the Ten Schools
of the Art of Mixing Incense; directions as to the best seasons
for incense-making; and instructions about the "different kinds
of fire" to be used for burning incense--(one kind is called
"literary fire," and another "military fire"); together with
rules for pressing the ashes of a censer into various artistic
designs corresponding to season and occasion.... A special
chapter should certainly be given to the incense-bags (kusadama)
hung up in houses to drive away goblins,--and to the smaller
incense-bags formerly carried about the person as a protection
against evil spirits. Then a very large part of the work would
have to be devoted to the religious uses and legends of incense,
--a huge subject in itself. There would also have to be
considered the curious history of the old "incense-assemblies,"
whose elaborate ceremonial could be explained only by help of
numerous diagrams. One chapter at least would be required for the
subject of the ancient importation of incense-materials from
India, China, Annam, Siam, Cambodia, Ceylon, Sumatra, Java,
Borneo, and various islands of the Malay archipelago,--places all
named in rare books about incense. And a final chapter should
treat of the romantic literature of incense,--the poems, stories,
and dramas in which incense-rites are mentioned; and especially
those love-songs comparing the body to incense, and passion to
the eating flame:--

Even as burns the perfume lending thy robe its fragance,
Smoulders my life away, consumed by the pain of longing!

....The merest outline of the subject is terrifying! I shall
attempt nothing more than a few notes about the religious, the
luxurious, and the ghostly uses of incense.


The common incense everywhere burned by poor people before
Buddhist icons is called an-soku-ko. This is very cheap. Great
quantities of it are burned by pilgrims in the bronze censers set
before the entrances of famous temples; and in front of roadside
images you may often see bundles of it. These are for the use of
pious wayfarers, who pause before every Buddhist image on their
path to repeat a brief prayer and, when possible, to set a few
rods smouldering at the feet of the statue. But in rich temples,
and during great religious ceremonies, much more expensive
incense is used. Altogether three classes of perfumes are
employed in Buddhist rites: ko, or incense-proper, in many
varieties--(the word literally means only "fragrant substance");
--dzuko, an odorous ointment; and makko, a fragrant powder. Ko is
burned; dzuko is rubbed upon the hands of the priest as an
ointment of purification; and makko is sprinkled about the
sanctuary. This makko is said to be identical with the
sandalwood-powder so frequently mentioned in Buddhist texts. But
it is only the true incense which can be said to bear an
important relation to the religious service.

"Incense," declares the Soshi-Ryaku,(1) "is the Messenger of
Earnest Desire. When the rich Sudatta wished to invite the Buddha
to a repast, he made use of incense. He was wont to ascend to the
roof of his house on the eve of the day of the entertainment, and
to remain standing there all night, holding a censer of precious
incense. And as often as he did thus, the Buddha never failed to
come on the following day at the exact time desired."

This text plainly implies that incense, as a burnt-offering,
symbolizes the pious desires of the faithful. But it symbolizes
other things also; and it has furnished many remarkable similes
to Buddhist literature. Some of these, and not the least
interesting, occur in prayers, of which the following, from the
book called Hoji-san (2) is a striking example:--

--"Let my body remain pure like a censer!--let my thought be ever
as a fire of wisdom, purely consuming the incense of sila and of
dhyana, (3) that so may I do homage to all the Buddhas in the Ten
Directions of the Past, the Present, and the Future!"

Sometimes in Buddhist sermons the destruction of Karma by
virtuous effort is likened to the burning of incense by a pure
flame,--sometimes, again, the life of man is compared to the
smoke of incense. In his "Hundred Writings "(Hyaku-tsu-kiri-
kami), the Shinshu priest Myoden says, quoting from the Buddhist
work Kujikkajo, or "Ninety Articles ":--

"In the burning of incense we see that so long as any incense
remains, so long does the burning continue, and the smoke mount
skyward. Now the breath of this body of ours,--this impermanent
combination of Earth, Water, Air, and Fire,--is like that smoke.
And the changing of the incense into cold ashes when the flame
expires is an emblem of the changing of our bodies into ashes
when our funeral pyres have burnt themselves out."

He also tells us about that Incense-Paradise of which every
believer ought to be reminded by the perfume of earthly incense:
--"In the Thirty- Second Vow for the Attainment of the Paradise
of Wondrous Incense," he says, "it is written: 'That Paradise is
formed of hundreds of thousands of different kinds of incense,
and of substances incalculably precious;--the beauty of it
incomparably exceeds anything in the heavens or in the sphere of
man;--the fragrance of it perfumes all the worlds of the Ten
Directions of Space; and all who perceive that odor practise
Buddha-deeds.' In ancient times there were men of superior wisdom
and virtue who, by reason of their vow, obtained perception of
the odor; but we, who are born with inferior wisdom and virtue in
these later days, cannot obtain such perception. Nevertheless it
will be well for us, when we smell the incense kindled before the
image of Amida, to imagine that its odor is the wonderful
fragrance of Paradise, and to repeat the Nembutsu in gratitude
for the mercy of the Buddha."

1 "Short [or Epitomized] History of Priests."
2 "The Praise of Pious Observances."
3 By sila is meant the observance of the rules of purity
in act and thought. Dhyana (called by Japanese Buddhists Zenjo)
is one of the higher forms of meditation.


But the use of incense in Japan is not confined to religious
rites and ceremonies: indeed the costlier kinds of incense are
manufactured chiefly for social entertainments. Incense-burning
has been an amusement of the aristocracy ever since the
thirteenth century. Probably you have heard of the Japanese tea-
ceremonies, and their curious Buddhist history; and I suppose
that every foreign collector of Japanese bric-a'-brac knows
something about the luxury to which these ceremonies at one
period attained,--a luxury well attested by the quality of the
beautiful utensils formerly employed in them. But there were, and
still are, incense-ceremonies much more elaborate and costly than
the tea-ceremonies,--and also much more interesting. Besides
music, embroidery, poetical composition and other branches of the
old-fashioned female education, the young lady of pre-Meiji days
was expected to acquire three especially polite accomplishments,
--the art of arranging flowers, (ikebana), the art of ceremonial
tea-making (cha-no-yu or cha-no-e),(1) and the etiquette of
incense-parties (ko-kwai or ko-e). Incense-parties were invented
before the time of the Ashikaga shoguns, and were most in vogue
during the peaceful period of the Tokugawa rule. With the fall of
the shogunate they went out of fashion; but recently they have
been to some extent revived. It is not likely, however, that they
will again become really fashionable in the old sense,--partly
because they represented rare forms of social refinement that
never can be revived, and partly because of their costliness.

In translating ko-kwai as "incense-party," I use the word "party"
in the meaning that it takes in such compounds as "card-party,"
"whist-party," "chess-party";--for a ko-kwai is a meeting held
only with the object of playing a game,--a very curious game.
There are several kinds of incense-games; but in all of them the
contest depends upon the ability to remember and to name
different kinds of incense by the perfume alone. That variety of
ko-kwai called Jitchu-ko ("ten-burning-incense") is generally
conceded to be the most amusing; and I shall try to tell you how
it is played.

The numeral "ten," in the Japanese, or rather Chinese name of
this diversion, does not refer to ten kinds, but only to ten
packages of incense; for Jitchu-ko, besides being the most
amusing, is the very simplest of incense-games, and is played
with only four kinds of incense. One kind must be supplied by the
guests invited to the party; and three are furnished by the
person who gives the entertainment. Each of the latter three
supplies of incense--usually prepared in packages containing one
hundred wafers is divided into four parts; and each part is put
into a separate paper numbered or marked so as to indicate the
quality. Thus four packages are prepared of the incense classed
as No. 1, four of incense No. 2, and four of incense No. 3,--or
twelve in all. But the incense given by the guests,--always
called "guest-incense"--is not divided: it is only put into a
wrapper marked with an abbreviation of the Chinese character
signifying "guest." Accordingly we have a total of thirteen
packages to start with; but three are to be used in the
preliminary sampling, or "experimenting"--as the Japanese term
it,--after the following manner.

We shall suppose the game to be arranged for a party of six,--
though there is no rule limiting the number of players. The six
take their places in line, or in a half-circle--if the room be
small; but they do not sit close together, for reasons which will
presently appear. Then the host, or the person appointed to act
as incense-burner, prepares a package of the incense classed as
No 1, kindles it in a censer, and passes the censer to the guest
occupying the first seat, (2) with the announcement--"This is
incense No 1" The guest receives the censer according to the
graceful etiquette required in the ko-kwai, inhales the perfume,
and passes on the vessel to his neighbor, who receives it in like
manner and passes it to the third guest, who presents it to the
fourth,--and so on. When the censer has gone the round of the
party, it is returned to the incense-burner. One package of
incense No. 2, and one of No. 3, are similarly prepared,
announced, and tested. But with the "guest-incense" no experiment
is made. The player should be able to remember the different
odors of the incenses tested; and he is expected to identify the
guest-incense at the proper time merely by the unfamiliar quality
of its fragrance.

The original thirteen packages having thus by "experimenting"
been reduced to ten, each player is given one set of ten small
tablets--usually of gold-lacquer,--every set being differently
ornamented. The backs only of these tablets are decorated; and
the decoration is nearly always a floral design of some sort:--
thus one set might be decorated with chrysanthemums in gold,
another with tufts of iris-plants, another with a spray of plum-
blossoms, etc. But the faces of the tablets bear numbers or
marks; and each set comprises three tablets numbered "1," three
numbered "2," three numbered "3," and one marked with the
character signifying "guest." After these tablet-sets have been
distributed, a box called the "tablet-box" is placed before the
first player; and all is ready for the real game.

The incense-burner retires behind a little screen, shuffles the
flat packages like so many cards, takes the uppermost, prepares
its contents in the censer, and then, returning to the party,
sends the censer upon its round. This time, of course, he does
not announce what kind of incense he has used. As the censer
passes from hand to hand, each player, after inhaling the fume,
puts into the tablet-box one tablet bearing that mark or number
which he supposes to be the mark or number of the incense he has
smelled. If, for example, he thinks the incense to be "guest-
incense," he drops into the box that one of his tablets marked
with the ideograph meaning "guest;" or if he believes that he has
inhaled the perfume of No. 2, he puts into the box a tablet
numbered "2." When the round is over, tablet-box and censer are
both returned to the incense-burner. He takes the six tablets out
of the box, and wraps them up in the paper which contained the
incense guessed about. The tablets themselves keep the personal
as well as the general record,--since each player remembers the
particular design upon his own set.

The remaining nine packages of incense art consumed and judged in
the same way, according to the chance order in which the
shuffling has placed them. When all the incense has been used,
the tablets are taken out of their wrappings, the record is
officially put into writing, and the victor of the day is
announced. I here offer the translation of such a record: it will
serve to explain, almost at a glance, all the complications of
the game.

According to this record the player who used the tablets
decorated with the design called "Young Pine," made but two
mistakes; while the holder of the "White-Lily" set made only one
correct guess. But it is quite a feat to make ten correct
judgments in succession. The olfactory nerves are apt to become
somewhat numbed long before the game is concluded; and, therefore
it is customary during the Ko-kwai to rinse the mouth at
intervals with pure vinegar, by which operation the sensitivity
is partially restored.

                     RECORD OF A KO-KWAI.

                  Order in which the ten packages of incense were
                  1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10
Names given
to the six        No. No.       No.   No.  No.  No.  No.  No.
tablets used,     III I  GUEST  II    I    III  II   I    III
according to
designs on the
back:             Guesses recorded by nos. on tablet; correct
                  being marked *
      No. of correct


Chrysanthemum"   1    3    1    2*  Guest  1     2*   2    3*
3         3

"Young Bamboo"   3*   1*   1    2*   1*   Guest  3    2    1
3         4

"Red Peony"     Guest 1*   2    2*   3     1     3    2    3*
1         3

"White Lily"     1    3    1    3    2     2     1    3   Guest
2*         1

"Young Pine"     3*   1* Guest* 3    1*    2     2*   1*   3*
2*         8 (Winner)

-in-a-Mist"      1    3  Guest* 2*   1*    3*    1    2    3*
2*         6


I.   "Tasogare" ("Who-Is-there?" I. e. "Evening-Dusk").
II.  "Baikwa" ("Plum Flower").
III. "Wakakusa" ("Young Grass").
IV.  ("Guest Incense") "Yamaji-no-Tsuyu"
("Dew-on-the-Mountain-Path").  To the Japanese original of the
foregoing record were appended the names of the players, the date of
the entertainment, and the name of the place where the party was
held. It is the custom In some families to enter all such records in
a book especially made for the purpose, and furnished with an index
which enables the Ko-kwai player to refer immediately to any
interesting fact belonging to the history of any past game.

The reader will have noticed that the four kinds of incense used
were designated by very pretty names. The incense first
mentioned, for example, is called by the poets' name for the
gloaming,--Tasogare (lit: "Who is there?" or " Who is it?")--a
word which in this relation hints of the toilet-perfume that
reveals some charming presence to the lover waiting in the dusk.
Perhaps some curiosity will be felt regarding the composition of
these incenses. I can give the Japanese recipes for two sorts;
but I have not been able to identify all of the materials

Recipe for Yamaji-no-Tsuyu.

   Ingredients                   Proportions.
Jinko (aloes-wood)               4 momme     (1/2 oz.)
Choji (cloves)                   4 "            "
Kunroku (olibanum)               4 "            "
Hakko (artemisia Schmidtiana)    4 "            "
Jako (musk)                      1 bu         (1/8 oz.)
Koko(?)                          4 momme     (1/2 oz.)

To 21 pastilles

Recipe for Baikwa.

   Ingredients                   Proportions.
Jinko (aloes)                    20 momme    (2 1/2 oz.)
Choji (cloves)                   12 "         (1 1/2 oz.)
Koko(?)                       8 1/3 "         (1 1/40 oz.)
Byakudan (sandal-wood)            4 "         (1/2 oz.)
Kansho (spikenard)                2 bu        (1/4 oz.)
Kwakko (Bishop's-wort?)           1 bu 2 sbu  (3/16 oz.)
Kunroku (olibanum)                3 "  3 "    (15/22 oz.)
Shomokko (?)                      2 "         (1/4 oz.)
Jako (musk)                       3 " 2 sbu   (7/16 oz.)
Ryuno (refined Borneo Camphor)    3 sbu       (3/8 oz.)

To 50 pastilles

The incense used at a Ko-kwai ranges in value, according to the
style of the entertainment, from $2.50 to $30.00 per envelope of
100 wafers--wafers usually not more than one-fourth of an inch in
diameter. Sometimes an incense is used worth even more than
$30.00 per envelope: this contains ranjatai, an aromatic of which
the perfume is compared to that of "musk mingled with orchid-
flowers." But there is some incense,--never sold,--which is much
more precious than ranjatai,--incense valued less for its com-
position than for its history: I mean the incense brought
centuries ago from China or from India by the Buddhist
missionaries, and presented to princes or to other persons of
high rank. Several ancient Japanese temples also include such
foreign incense among their treasures. And very rarely a little
of this priceless material is contributed to an incense-party,--
much as in Europe, on very extraordinary occasions, some banquet
is glorified by the production of a wine several hundred years

Like the tea-ceremonies, the Ko-kwai exact observance of a very
complex and ancient etiquette. But this subject could interest
few readers; and I shall only mention some of the rules regarding
preparations and precautions. First of all, it is required that
the person invited to an incense-party shall attend the same in
as _odorless_ a condition as possible: a lady, for instance, must
not use hair-oil, or put on any dress that has been kept in a
perfumed chest-of-drawers. Furthermore, the guest should prepare
for the contest by taking a prolonged hot bath, and should eat
only the lightest and least odorous kind of food before going to
the rendezvous. It is forbidden to leave the room during the
game, or to open any door or window, or to indulge in needless
conversation. Finally I may observe that, while judging the
incense, a player is expected to take not less than three
inhalations, or more than five.

In this economical era, the Ko-kwai takes of necessity a much
humbler form than it assumed in the time of the great daimyo, of
the princely abbots, and of the military aristocracy. A full set
of the utensils required for the game can now be had for about
$50.00; but the materials are of the poorest kind. The old-
fashioned sets were fantastically expensive. Some were worth
thousands of dollars. The incense-burner's desk,--the writing-
box, paper-box, tablet-box, etc.,--the various stands or dai,--
were of the costliest gold-lacquer;--the pincers and other
instruments were of gold, curiously worked;--and the censer--
whether of precious metal, bronze, or porcelain,--was always a
chef-d'oeuvre, designed by some artist of renown.

1 Girls are still trained in the art of arranging flowers, and in
the etiquette of the dainty, though somewhat tedious, cha-no-yu.
Buddhist priests have long enjoyed a reputation as teachers of
the latter. When the pupil has reached a certain degree of
proficiency, she is given a diploma or certificate. The tea used
in these ceremonies is a powdered tea of remarkable fragrance,--
the best qualities of which fetch very high prices.

2 The places occupied by guests in a Japanese zashiki, or
reception room are numbered from the alcove of the apartment. The
place of the most honored is immediately before the alcove: this
is the first seat, and the rest are numbered from it, usually to
the left.


Although the original signification of incense in Buddhist
ceremonies was chiefly symbolical, there is good reason to
suppose that various beliefs older than Buddhism,--some, perhaps,
peculiar to the race; others probably of Chinese or Korean
derivation,--began at an early period to influence the popular
use of incense in Japan. Incense is still burned in the presence
of a corpse with the idea that its fragrance shields both corpse
and newly-parted soul from malevolent demons; and by the peasants
it is often burned also to drive away goblins and the evil powers
presiding over diseases. But formerly it was used to summon
spirits as well as to banish them. Allusions to its employment in
various weird rites may be found in some of the old dramas and
romances. One particular sort of incense, imported from China,
was said to have the power of calling up human spirits. This was
the wizard-incense referred to in such ancient love-songs as the

"I have heard of the magical incense that summons the souls
of the absent:
Would I had some to burn, in the nights when I wait alone!"

There is an interesting mention of this incense in the Chinese
book, Shang-hai-king. It was called Fwan-hwan-hiang (by Japanese
pronunciation, Hangon-ko), or "Spirit-Recalling-Incense;" and it
was made in Tso-Chau, or the District of the Ancestors, situated
by the Eastern Sea. To summon the ghost of any dead person--or
even that of a living person, according to some authorities,--it
was only necessary to kindle some of the incense, and to
pronounce certain words, while keeping the mind fixed upon the
memory of that person. Then, in the smoke of the incense, the
remembered face and form would appear.

In many old Japanese and Chinese books mention is made of a
famous story about this incense,--a story of the Chinese Emperor
Wu, of the Han dynasty. When the Emperor had lost his beautiful
favorite, the Lady Li, he sorrowed so much that fears were
entertained for his reason. But all efforts made to divert his
mind from the thought of her proved unavailing. One day he
ordered some Spirit-Recalling-Incense to be procured, that he
might summon her from the dead. His counsellors prayed him to
forego his purpose, declaring that the vision could only
intensify his grief. But he gave no heed to their advice, and
himself performed the rite,--kindling the incense, and keeping
his mind fixed upon the memory of the Lady Li. Presently, within
the thick blue smoke arising from the incense, the outline, of a
feminine form became visible. It defined, took tints of life,
slowly became luminous, and the Emperor recognized the form of
his beloved At first the apparition was faint; but it soon became
distinct as a living person, and seemed with each moment to grow
more beautiful. The Emperor whispered to the vision, but received
no answer. He called aloud, and the presence made no sign. Then
unable to control himself, he approached the censer. But the
instant that he touched the smoke, the phantom trembled and

Japanese artists are still occasionally inspired by the legends
of the Hangon-ho. Only last year, in Tokyo, at an exhibition of
new kakemono, I saw a picture of a young wife kneeling before an
alcove wherein the smoke of the magical incense was shaping the
shadow of the absent husband.(1)

Although the power of making visible the forms of the dead has
been claimed for one sort of incense only, the burning of any
kind of incense is supposed to summon viewless spirits in
multitude. These come to devour the smoke. They are called Jiki-
ko-ki, or "incense-eating goblins;" and they belong to the
fourteenth of the thirty-six classes of Gaki (pretas) recognized
by Japanese Buddhism. They are the ghosts of men who anciently,
for the sake of gain, made or sold bad incense; and by the evil
karma of that action they now find themselves in the state of
hunger-suffering spirits, and compelled to seek their only food
in the smoke of incense.

1 Among the curious Tokyo inventions of 1898 was a new variety of
cigarettes called Hangon-so, or "Herb of Hangon,"--a name
suggesting that their smoke operated like the spirit-summoning
incense. As a matter of fact, the chemical action of the tobacco-
smoke would define, upon a paper fitted into the mouth-piece of
each cigarette, the photographic image of a dancing-girl.

A Story of Divination

I once knew a fortune-teller who really believed in the science
that he professed. He had learned, as a student of the old
Chinese philosophy, to believe in divination long before he
thought of practising it. During his youth he had been in the
service of a wealthy daimyo, but subsequently, like thousands of
other samurai, found himself reduced to desperate straits by the
social and political changes of Meiji. It was then that he became
a fortune-teller,--an itinerant uranaiya,--travelling on foot
from town to town, and returning to his home rarely more than
once a year with the proceeds of his journey. As a fortune-teller
he was tolerably successful,--chiefly, I think, because of his
perfect sincerity, and because of a peculiar gentle manner that
invited confidence. His system was the old scholarly one: he used
the book known to English readers as the Yi-King,--also a set of
ebony blocks which could be so arranged as to form any of the
Chinese hexagrams;--and he always began his divination with an
earnest prayer to the gods.

The system itself he held to be infallible in the hands of a
master. He confessed that he had made some erroneous predictions;
but he said that these mistakes had been entirely due to his own
miscomprehension of certain texts or diagrams. To do him justice
I must mention that in my own case--(he told my fortune four
times),--his predictions were fulfilled in such wise that I
became afraid of them. You may disbelieve in fortune-telling,--
intellectually scorn it; but something of inherited superstitious
tendency lurks within most of us; and a few strange experiences
can so appeal to that inheritance as to induce the most
unreasoning hope or fear of the good or bad luck promised you by
some diviner. Really to see our future would be a misery. Imagine
the result of knowing that there must happen to you, within the
next two months, some terrible misfortune which you cannot
possibly provide against!

He was already an old man when I first saw him in Izumo,--
certainly more than sixty years of age, but looking very much
younger. Afterwards I met him in Osaka, in Kyoto, and in Kobe.
More than once I tried to persuade him to pass the colder months
of the winter-season under my roof,--for he possessed an
extraordinary knowledge of traditions, and could have been of
inestimable service to me in a literary way. But partly because
the habit of wandering had become with him a second nature, and
partly because of a love of independence as savage as a gipsy's,
I was never able to keep him with me for more than two days at a

Every year he used to come to Tokyo,--usually in the latter part
of autumn. Then, for several weeks, he would flit about the city,
from district to district, and vanish again. But during these
fugitive trips he never failed to visit me; bringing welcome news
of Izumo people and places,--bringing also some queer little
present, generally of a religious kind, from some famous place of
pilgrimage. On these occasions I could get a few hours' chat with
him. Sometimes the talk was of strange things seen or heard
during his recent journey; sometimes it turned upon old legends
or beliefs; sometimes it was about fortune-telling. The last time
we met he told me of an exact Chinese science of divination which
he regretted never having been able to learn.

"Any one learned in that science," he said, "would be able, for
example, not only to tell you the exact time at which any post or
beam of this house will yield to decay, but even to tell you the
direction of the breaking, and all its results. I can best
explain what I mean by relating a story.

"The story is about the famous Chinese fortune-teller whom we
call in Japan Shoko Setsu, and it is written in the book Baikwa-
Shin-Eki, which is a book of divination. While still a very young
man, Shoko Setsu obtained a high position by reason of his
learning and virtue; but he resigned it and went into solitude
that he might give his whole time to study. For years thereafter
he lived alone in a hut among the mountains; studying without a
fire in winter, and without a fan in summer; writing his thoughts
upon the wall of his room--for lack of paper;--and using only a
tile for his pillow.

"One day, in the period of greatest summer heat, he found himself
overcome by drowsiness; and he lay down to rest, with his tile
under his head. Scarcely had he fallen asleep when a rat ran
across his face and woke him with a start. Feeling angry, he
seized his tile and flung it at the rat; but the rat escaped
unhurt, and the tile was broken. Shoko Setsu looked sorrowfully
at the fragments of his pillow, and reproached himself for his
hastiness. Then suddenly he perceived, upon the freshly exposed
clay of the broken tile, some Chinese characters--between the
upper and lower surfaces. Thinking this very strange, he picked
up the pieces, and carefully examined them. He found that along
the line of fracture seventeen characters had been written within
the clay before the tile had been baked; and the characters read
thus: 'In the Year of the Hare, in the fourth month, on the
seventeenth day, at the Hour of the Serpent, this tile, after
serving as a pillow, will be thrown at a rat and broken.' Now the
prediction had really been fulfilled at the Hour of the Serpent
on the seventeenth day of the fourth month of the Year of the
Hare. Greatly astonished, Shoko Setsu once again looked at the
fragments, and discovered the seal and the name of the maker. At
once he left his hut, and, taking with him the pieces of the
tile, hurried to the neighboring town in search of the tilemaker.
He found the tilemaker in the course of the day, showed him the
broken tile, and asked him about its history.

"After having carefully examined the shards, the tilemaker said:
--'This tile was made in my house; but the characters in the clay
were written by an old man--a fortune-teller,--who asked
permission to write upon the tile before it was baked.' 'Do you
know where he lives?' asked Shoko Setsu. `He used to live,' the
tilemaker answered, 'not very far from here; and I can show you
the way to the house. But I do not know his name.'

"Having been guided to the house, Shoko Setsu presented himself
at the entrance, and asked for permission to speak to the old
man. A serving-student courteously invited him to enter, and
ushered him into an apartment where several young men were at
study. As Shoko Setsu took his seat, all the youths saluted him.
Then the one who had first addressed him bowed and said: 'We are
grieved to inform you that our master died a few days ago. But we
have been waiting for you, because he predicted that you would
come to-day to this house, at this very hour. Your name is Shoko
Setsu. And our master told us to give you a book which he
believed would be of service to you. Here is the book;--please to
accept it.'

"Shoko Setsu was not less delighted than surprised; for the book
was a manuscript of the rarest and most precious kind,--
containing all the secrets of the science of divination. After
having thanked the young men, and properly expressed his regret
for the death of their teacher, he went back to his hut, and
there immediately proceeded to test the worth of the book by
consulting its pages in regard to his own fortune. The book
suggested to him that on the south side of his dwelling, at a
particular spot near one corner of the hut, great luck awaited
him. He dug at the place indicated, and found a jar containing
gold enough to make him a very wealthy man."


My old acquaintance left this world as lonesomely as he had lived
in it. Last winter, while crossing a mountain-range, he was
overtaken by a snowstorm, and lost his way. Many days later he
was found standing erect at the foot of a pine, with his little
pack strapped to his shoulders: a statue of ice--arms folded and
eyes closed as in meditation. Probably, while waiting for the
storm to pass, he had yielded to the drowsiness of cold, and the
drift had risen over him as he slept. Hearing of this strange
death I remembered the old Japanese saying,--Uranaiya minouye
shiradzu: "The fortune-teller knows not his own fate."


I was puzzled by the phrase, "silkworm-moth eyebrow," in an old
Japanese, or rather Chinese proverb:--The silkworm-moth eyebrow
of a woman is the axe that cuts down the wisdom of man. So I went
to my friend Niimi, who keeps silkworms, to ask for an

"Is it possible," he exclaimed, "that you never saw a silkworm-
moth? The silkworm-moth has very beautiful eyebrows."

"Eyebrows?" I queried, in astonishment. "Well, call them what you
like," returned Niimi;--"the poets call them eyebrows.... Wait a
moment, and I will show you."

He left the guest-room, and presently returned with a white
paper-fan, on which a silkworm-moth was sleepily reposing.

"We always reserve a few for breeding," he said;--"this one is
just out of the cocoon. It cannot fly, of course: none of them
can fly.... Now look at the eyebrows."

I looked, and saw that the antennae, very short and feathery, were
so arched back over the two jewel-specks of eyes in the velvety
head, as to give the appearance of a really handsome pair of eye-

Then Niimi took me to see his worms.

In Niimi's neighborhood, where there are plenty of mulberrytrees,
many families keep silkworms;--the tending and feeding being
mostly done by women and children. The worms are kept in large
oblong trays, elevated upon light wooden stands about three feet
high. It is curious to see hundreds of caterpillars feeding all
together in one tray, and to hear the soft papery noise which
they make while gnawing their mulberry-leaves. As they approach
maturity, the creatures need almost constant attention. At brief
intervals some expert visits each tray to inspect progress, picks
up the plumpest feeders, and decides, by gently rolling them
between forefinger and thumb, which are ready to spin. These are
dropped into covered boxes, where they soon swathe themselves out
of sight in white floss. A few only of the best are suffered to
emerge from their silky sleep,--the selected breeders. They have
beautiful wings, but cannot use them. They have mouths, but do
not eat. They only pair, lay eggs, and die. For thousands of
years their race has been so well-cared for, that it can no
longer take any care of itself.

It was the evolutional lesson of this latter fact that chiefly
occupied me while Niimi and his younger brother (who feeds the
worms) were kindly explaining the methods of the industry. They
told me curious things about different breeds, and also about a
wild variety of silkworm that cannot be domesticated:--it spins
splendid silk before turning into a vigorous moth which can use
its wings to some purpose. But I fear that I did not act like a
person who felt interested in the subject; for, even while I
tried to listen, I began to muse.


First of all, I found myself thinking about a delightful revery
by M. Anatole France, in which he says that if he had been the
Demiurge, he would have put youth at the end of life instead of
at the beginning, and would have otherwise so ordered matters
that every human being should have three stages of development,
somewhat corresponding to those of the lepidoptera. Then it
occurred to me that this fantasy was in substance scarcely more
than the delicate modification of a most ancient doctrine, common
to nearly all the higher forms of religion.

Western faiths especially teach that our life on earth is a
larval state of greedy helplessness, and that death is a pupa-
sleep out of which we should soar into everlasting light. They
tell us that during its sentient existence, the outer body should
be thought of only as a kind of caterpillar, and thereafter as a
chrysalis;--and they aver that we lose or gain, according to our
behavior as larvae, the power to develop wings under the mortal
wrapping. Also they tell us not to trouble ourselves about the
fact that we see no Psyche-imago detach itself from the broken
cocoon: this lack of visual evidence signifies nothing, because
we have only the purblind vision of grubs. Our eyes are but half-
evolved. Do not whole scales of colors invisibly exist above and
below the limits of our retinal sensibility? Even so the
butterfly-man exists,--although, as a matter of course, we cannot
see him.

But what would become of this human imago in a state of perfect
bliss? From the evolutional point of view the question has
interest; and its obvious answer was suggested to me by the
history of those silkworms,--which have been domesticated for
only a few thousand years. Consider the result of our celestial
domestication for--let us say--several millions of years: I mean
the final consequence, to the wishers, of being able to gratify
every wish at will.

Those silkworms have all that they wish for,--even considerably
more. Their wants, though very simple, are fundamentally
identical with the necessities of mankind,--food, shelter,
warmth, safety, and comfort. Our endless social struggle is
mainly for these things. Our dream of heaven is the dream of
obtaining them free of cost in pain; and the condition of those
silkworms is the realization, in a small way, of our imagined
Paradise. (I am not considering the fact that a vast majority of
the worms are predestined to torment and the second death; for my
theme is of heaven, not of lost souls. I am speaking of the
elect--those worms preordained to salvation and rebirth.)
Probably they can feel only very weak sensations: they are
certainly incapable of prayer. But if they were able to pray,
they could not ask for anything more than they already receive
from the youth who feeds and tends them. He is their providence,
--a god of whose existence they can be aware in only the vaguest
possible way, but just such a god as they require. And we should
foolishly deem ourselves fortunate to be equally well cared-for
in proportion to our more complex wants. Do not our common forms
of prayer prove our desire for like attention? Is not the
assertion of our "need of divine love" an involuntary confession
that we wish to be treated like silkworms,--to live without pain
by the help of gods? Yet if the gods were to treat us as we want,
we should presently afford fresh evidence,--in the way of what is
called "the evidence from degeneration,"--that the great
evolutional law is far above the gods.

An early stage of that degeneration would be represented by total
incapacity to help ourselves;--then we should begin to lose the
use of our higher sense-organs;--later on, the brain would shrink
to a vanishing pin-point of matter;--still later we should
dwindle into mere amorphous sacs, mere blind stomachs. Such would
be the physical consequence of that kind of divine love which we
so lazily wish for. The longing for perpetual bliss in perpetual
peace might well seem a malevolent inspiration from the Lords of
Death and Darkness. All life that feels and thinks has been, and
can continue to be, only as the product of struggle and pain,--
only as the outcome of endless battle with the Powers of the
Universe. And cosmic law is uncompromising. Whatever organ ceases
to know pain,--whatever faculty ceases to be used under the
stimulus of pain,--must also cease to exist. Let pain and its
effort be suspended, and life must shrink back, first into
protoplasmic shapelessness, thereafter into dust.

Buddhism--which, in its own grand way, is a doctrine of
evolution--rationally proclaims its heaven but a higher stage of
development through pain, and teaches that even in paradise the
cessation of effort produces degradation. With equal
reasonableness it declares that the capacity for pain in the
superhuman world increases always in proportion to the capacity
for pleasure. (There is little fault to be found with this
teaching from a scientific standpoint,--since we know that higher
evolution must involve an increase of sensitivity to pain.) In
the Heavens of Desire, says the Shobo-nen-jo-kyo, the pain of
death is so great that all the agonies of all the hells united
could equal but one-sixteenth part of such pain.(1)

The foregoing comparison is unnecessarily strong; but the
Buddhist teaching about heaven is in substance eminently logical.
The suppression of pain--mental or physical,--in any conceivable
state of sentient existence, would necessarily involve the
suppression also of pleasure;--and certainly all progress,
whether moral or material, depends upon the power to meet and to
master pain. In a silkworm-paradise such as our mundane instincts
lead us to desire, the seraph freed from the necessity of toil,
and able to satisfy his every want at will, would lose his wings
at last, and sink back to the condition of a grub....

(1) This statement refers only to the Heavens of Sensuous
Pleasure,--not to the Paradise of Amida, nor to those heavens
into which one enters by the Apparitional Birth. But even in the
highest and most immaterial zones of being,--in the Heavens of
Formlessness,--the cessation of effort and of the pain of effort,
involves the penalty of rebirth in a lower state of existence.


I told the substance of my revery to Niimi. He used to be a great
reader of Buddhist books.

"Well," he said, "I was reminded of a queer Buddhist story by the
proverb that you asked me to explain,--The silkworm-moth eyebrow
of a woman is the axe that cuts down the wisdom of man. According
to our doctrine, the saying would be as true of life in heaven as
of life upon earth.... This is the story:--"When Shaka (1) dwelt
in this world, one of his disciples, called Nanda, was bewitched
by the beauty of a woman; and Shaka desired to save him from the
results of this illusion. So he took Nanda to a wild place in the
mountains where there were apes, and showed him a very ugly
female ape, and asked him: 'Which is the more beautiful, Nanda,
--the woman that you love, or this female ape?' 'Oh, Master!'
exclaimed Nanda, 'how can a lovely woman be compared with an ugly
ape?' 'Perhaps you will presently find reason to make the
comparison yourself,' answered the Buddha;--and instantly by
supernatural power he ascended with Nanda to the San-Jusan-Ten,
which is the Second of the Six Heavens of Desire. There, within a
palace of jewels, Nanda saw a multitude of heavenly maidens
celebrating some festival with music and dance; and the beauty of
the least among them incomparably exceeded that of the fairest
woman of earth. 'O Master,' cried Nanda, `what wonderful festival
is this?' 'Ask some of those people,' responded Shaka. So Nanda
questioned one of the celestial maidens; and she said to him:--
'This festival is to celebrate the good tidings that have been
brought to us. There is now in the human world, among the
disciples of Shaka, a most excellent youth called Nanda, who is
soon to be reborn into this heaven, and to become our bridegroom,
because of his holy life. We wait for him with rejoicing.' This
reply filled the heart of Nanda with delight. Then the Buddha
asked him: 'Is there any one among these maidens, Nanda, equal in
beauty to the woman with whom you have been in love?' 'Nay,
Master!' answered Nanda; 'even as that woman surpassed in beauty
the female ape that we saw on the mountain, so is she herself
surpassed by even the least among these.'

"Then the Buddha immediately descended with Nanda to the depths
of the hells, and took him into a torture-chamber where myriads
of men and women were being boiled alive in great caldrons, and
otherwise horribly tormented by devils. Then Nanda found himself
standing before a huge vessel which was filled with molten
metal;--and he feared and wondered because this vessel had as yet
no occupant. An idle devil sat beside it, yawning. 'Master,'
Nanda inquired of the Buddha, 'for whom has this vessel been
prepared?' 'Ask the devil,' answered Shaka. Nanda did so; and the
devil said to him: 'There is a man called Nanda,--now one of
Shaka's disciples,--about to be reborn into one of the heavens,
on account of his former good actions. But after having there
indulged himself, he is to be reborn in this hell; and his place
will be in that pot. I am waiting for him.'" (2)

(1) Sakyamuni.

(2) I give the story substantially as it was told to me; but I
have not been able to compare it with any published text. My
friend says that he has seen two Chinese versions,--one in the
Hongyo-kyo (?), the other in the Zoichi-agon-kyo (Ekottaragamas).
In Mr. Henry Clarke Warren's Buddhism in Translations (the most
interesting and valuable single volume of its kind that I have
ever seen), there is a Pali version of the legend, which differs
considerably from the above.--This Nanda, according to Mr.
Warren's work, was a prince, and the younger half-brother of

A Passional Karma

One of the never-failing attractions of the Tokyo stage is the
performance, by the famous Kikugoro and his company, of the
Botan-Doro, or "Peony-Lantern." This weird play, of which the
scenes are laid in the middle of the last century, is the
dramatization of a romance by the novelist Encho, written in
colloquial Japanese, and purely Japanese in local color, though
inspired by a Chinese tale. I went to see the play; and Kikugoro
made me familiar with a new variety of the pleasure of fear.
"Why not give English readers the ghostly part of the story?"--
asked a friend who guides me betimes through the mazes of Eastern
philosophy. "It would serve to explain some popular ideas of the
supernatural which Western people know very little about. And I
could help you with the translation."

I gladly accepted the suggestion; and we composed the following
summary of the more extraordinary portion of Encho's romance.
Here and there we found it necessary to condense the original
narrative; and we tried to keep close to the text only in the
conversational passages,--some of which happen to possess a
particular quality of psychological interest.


--This is the story of the Ghosts in the Romance of the Peony-


There once lived in the district of Ushigome, in Yedo, a hatamoto
(1) called Iijima Heizayemon, whose only daughter, Tsuyu, was
beautiful as her name, which signifies "Morning Dew." Iijima took
a second wife when his daughter was about sixteen; and, finding
that O-Tsuyu could not be happy with her mother-in-law, he had a
pretty villa built for the girl at Yanagijima, as a separate
residence, and gave her an excellent maidservant, called O-Yone,
to wait upon her.

O-Tsuyu lived happily enough in her new home until one day when
the family physician, Yamamoto Shijo, paid her a visit in company
with a young samurai named Hagiwara Shinzaburo, who resided in
the Nedzu quarter. Shinzaburo was an unusually handsome lad, and
very gentle; and the two young people fell in love with each
other at sight. Even before the brief visit was over, they
contrived,--unheard by the old doctor,--to pledge themselves to
each other for life. And, at parting, O-Tsuyu whispered to the
youth,--"Remember! If you do not come to see me again, I shall
certainly die!"

Shinzaburo never forgot those words; and he was only too eager to
see more of O-Tsuyu. But etiquette forbade him to make the visit
alone: he was obliged to wait for some other chance to accompany
the doctor, who had promised to take him to the villa a second
time. Unfortunately the old man did not keep this promise. He had
perceived the sudden affection of O-Tsuyu; and he feared that her
father would hold him responsible for any serious results. Iijima
Heizayemon had a reputation for cutting off heads. And the more
Shijo thought about the possible consequences of his introduction
of Shinzaburo at the Iijima villa, the more he became afraid.
Therefore he purposely abstained from calling upon his young

Months passed; and O-Tsuyu, little imagining the true cause of
Shinzaburo's neglect, believed that her love had been scorned.
Then she pined away, and died. Soon afterwards, the faithful
servant O-Yone also died, through grief at the loss of her
mistress; and the two were buried side by side in the cemetery of
Shin-Banzui-In,--a temple which still stands in the neighborhood
of Dango-Zaka, where the famous chrysanthemum-shows are yearly

(1) The hatamoto were samurai forming the special military force
of the Shogun. The name literally signifies "Banner-Supporters."
These were the highest class of samurai,--not only as the
immediate vassals of the Shogun, but as a military aristocracy.


Shinzaburo knew nothing of what had happened; but his
disappointment and his anxiety had resulted in a prolonged
illness. He was slowly recovering, but still very weak, when he
unexpectedly received another visit from Yamamoto Shijo. The old
man made a number of plausible excuses for his apparent neglect.
Shinzaburo said to him:--"I have been sick ever since the
beginning of spring;--even now I cannot eat anything.... Was it
not rather unkind of you never to call? I thought that we were to
make another visit together to the house of the Lady Iijima; and
I wanted to take to her some little present as a return for our
kind reception. Of course I could not go by myself."

Shijo gravely responded,--"I am very sorry to tell you that the
young lady is dead!"

"Dead!" repeated Shinzaburo, turning white,--"did you say that
she is dead?"

The doctor remained silent for a moment, as if collecting
himself: then he resumed, in the quick light tone of a man
resolved not to take trouble seriously:--

"My great mistake was in having introduced you to her; for it
seems that she fell in love with you at once. I am afraid that
you must have said something to encourage this affection--when
you were in that little room together. At all events, I saw how
she felt towards you; and then I became uneasy,--fearing that her
father might come to hear of the matter, and lay the whole blame
upon me. So--to be quite frank with you,--I decided that it would
be better not to call upon you; and I purposely stayed away for a
long time. But, only a few days ago, happening to visit Iijima's
house, I heard, to my great surprise, that his daughter had died,
and that her servant O-Yone had also died. Then, remembering all
that had taken place, I knew that the young lady must have died
of love for you.... [Laughing] Ah, you are really a sinful
fellow! Yes, you are! [Laughing] Isn't it a sin to have been born
so handsome that the girls die for love of you? (1) [Seriously]
Well, we must leave the dead to the dead. It is no use to talk
further about the matter;--all that you now can do for her is to
repeat the Nembutsu (2)....  Good-bye."

And the old man retired hastily,--anxious to avoid further
converse about the painful event for which he felt himself to
have been unwittingly responsible.

(1) Perhaps this conversation may seem strange to the Western
reader; but it is true to life. The whole of the scene is
characteristically Japanese.
(2) The invocation Namu Amida Butsu! ("Hail to the Buddha
Amitabha!"),--repeated, as a prayer, for the sake of the dead.


Shinzaburo long remained stupefied with grief by the news of O-
Tsuyu's death. But as soon as he found himself again able to
think clearly, he inscribed the dead girl's name upon a mortuary
tablet, and placed the tablet in the Buddhist shrine of his
house, and set offerings before it, and recited prayers. Every
day thereafter he presented offerings, and repeated the Nembutsu;
and the memory of O-Tsuyu was never absent from his thought.

Nothing occurred to change the monotony of his solitude before
the time of the Bon,--the great Festival of the Dead,--which
begins upon the thirteenth day of the seventh month. Then he
decorated his house, and prepared everything for the festival;--
hanging out the lanterns that guide the returning spirits, and
setting the food of ghosts on the shoryodana, or Shelf of Souls.
And on the first evening of the Ban, after sun-down, he kindled a
small lamp before the tablet of O-Tsuyu, and lighted the

The night was clear, with a great moon,--and windless, and very
warm. Shinzaburo sought the coolness of his veranda. Clad only in
a light summer-robe, he sat there thinking, dreaming, sorrowing;
--sometimes fanning himself; sometimes making a little smoke to
drive the mosquitoes away. Everything was quiet. It was a
lonesome neighborhood, and there were few passers-by. He could
hear only the soft rushing of a neighboring stream, and the
shrilling of night-insects.

But all at once this stillness was broken by a sound of women's
geta (1) approaching--kara-kon, kara-kon;--and the sound drew
nearer and nearer, quickly, till it reached the live-hedge
surrounding the garden. Then Shinzaburö, feeling curious, stood
on tiptoe, so as to look Over the hedge; and he saw two women
passing. One, who was carrying a beautiful lantern decorated with
peony-flowers,(2) appeared to be a servant;--the other was a
slender girl of about seventeen, wearing a long-sleeved robe
embroidered with designs of autumn-blossoms. Almost at the same
instant both women turned their faces toward Shinzaburo;--and to
his utter astonishment, he recognized O-Tsuyu and her servant O-

They stopped immediately; and the girl cried out,--"Oh, how
strange!... Hagiwara Sama!"

Shinzaburo simultaneously called to the maid:--"O-Yone! Ah, you
are O-Yone!--I remember you very well."

"Hagiwara Sama!" exclaimed O-Yone in a tone of supreme amazement.
"Never could I have believed it possible!... Sir, we were told
that you had died."

"How extraordinary!" cried Shinzaburo. "Why, I was told that both
of you were dead!"

"Ah, what a hateful story!" returned O-Yone. "Why repeat such
unlucky words?... Who told you?"

"Please to come in," said Shinzaburo;--"here we can talk better.
The garden-gate is open."

So they entered, and exchanged greeting; and when Shinzaburo had
made them comfortable, he said:--

"I trust that you will pardon my discourtesy in not having called
upon you for so long a time. But Shijo, the doctor, about a month
ago, told me that you had both died."

"So it was he who told you?" exclaimed O-Yone. "It was very
wicked of him to say such a thing. Well, it was also Shijo who
told us that you were dead. I think that he wanted to deceive
you,--which was not a difficult thing to do, because you are so
confiding and trustful. Possibly my mistress betrayed her liking
for you in some words which found their way to her father's ears;
and, in that case, O-Kuni--the new wife--might have planned to
make the doctor tell you that we were dead, so as to bring about
a separation. Anyhow, when my mistress heard that you had died,
she wanted to cut off her hair immediately, and to become a nun.
But I was able to prevent her from cutting off her hair; and I
persuaded her at last to become a nun only in her heart.
Afterwards her father wished her to marry a certain young man;
and she refused. Then there was a great deal of trouble,--chiefly
caused by O-Kuni;--and we went away from the villa, and found a
very small house in Yanaka-no-Sasaki. There we are now just
barely able to live, by doing a little private work.... My
mistress has been constantly repeating the Nembutsu for your
sake. To-day, being the first day of the Bon, we went to visit
the temples; and we were on our way home--thus late--when this
strange meeting happened."

"Oh, how extraordinary!" cried Shinzaburo. "Can it be true?-or is
it only a dream? Here I, too, have been constantly reciting the
Nembutsu before a tablet with her name upon it! Look!" And he
showed them O-Tsuyu's tablet in its place upon the Shelf of

"We are more than grateful for your kind remembrance," returned
O-Yone, smiling.... "Now as for my mistress,"--she continued,
turning towards O-Tsuyu, who had all the while remained demure
and silent, half-hiding her face with her sleeve,--"as for my
mistress, she actually says that she would not mind being
disowned by her father for the time of seven existences,(3) or
even being killed by him, for your sake! Come! will you not allow
her to stay here to-night?"

Shinzaburo turned pale for joy. He answered in a voice trembling
with emotion:--"Please remain; but do not speak loud--because
there is a troublesome fellow living close by,--a ninsomi (4)
called Hakuodo Yusai, who tells peoples fortunes by looking at
their faces. He is inclined to be curious; and it is better that
he should not know."

The two women remained that night in the house of the young
samurai, and returned to their own home a little before daybreak.
And after that night they came every nighht for seven nights,--
whether the weather were foul or fair,--always at the same hour.
And Shinzaburo became more and more attached to the girl; and the
twain were fettered, each to each, by that bond of illusion which
is stronger than bands of iron.

1 Komageta in the original. The geta is a wooden sandal, or clog,
of which there are many varieties,--some decidedly elegant. The
komageta, or "pony-geta" is so-called because of the sonorous
hoof-like echo which it makes on hard ground.

2 The sort of lantern here referred to is no longer made; and its
shape can best be understood by a glance at the picture
accompanying this story. It was totally unlike the modern
domestic band-lantern, painted with the owner's crest; but it was
not altogether unlike some forms of lanterns still manufactured
for the Festival of the Dead, and called Bon-doro. The flowers
ornamenting it were not painted: they were artificial flowers of
crepe-silk, and were attached to the top of the lantern.

3 "For the time of seven existences,"--that is to say, for the
time of seven successive lives. In Japanese drama and romance it
is not uncommon to represent a father as disowning his child "for
the time of seven lives." Such a disowning is called shichi-sho
made no mando, a disinheritance for seven lives,--signifying that
in six future lives after the present the erring son or daughter
will continue to feel the parental displeasure.

4 The profession is not yet extinct. The ninsomi uses a kind of
magnifying glass (or magnifying-mirror sometimes), called
tengankyo or ninsomegane.


Now there was a man called Tomozo, who lived in a small cottage
adjoining Shinzaburo's residence, Tomozo and his wife O-Mine were
both employed by Shinzaburo as servants. Both seemed to be
devoted to their young master; and by his help they were able to
live in comparative comfort.

One night, at a very late hour, Tomozo heard the voice of a woman
in his master's apartment; and this made him uneasy. He feared
that Shinzaburo, being very gentle and affectionate, might be
made the dupe of some cunning wanton,--in which event the
domestics would be the first to suffer. He therefore resolved to
watch; and on the following night he stole on tiptoe to
Shinzaburo's dwelling, and looked through a chink in one of the
sliding shutters. By the glow of a night-lantern within the
sleeping-room, he was able to perceive that his master and a
strange woman were talking together under the mosquito-net. At
first he could not see the woman distinctly. Her back was turned
to him;--he only observed that she was very slim, and that she
appeared to be very young,--judging from the fashion of her dress
and hair.(1) Putting his ear to the chink, he could hear the
conversation plainly. The woman said:--

"And if I should be disowned by my father, would you then let me
come and live with you?"

Shinzaburo answered:--

"Most assuredly I would--nay, I should be
glad of the chance. But there is no reason to fear that you will
ever be disowned by your father; for you are his only daughter,
and he loves you very much. What I do fear is that some day we
shall be cruelly separated."

She responded softly:--

"Never, never could I even think of accepting any other man for
my husband. Even if our secret were to become known, and my
father were to kill me for what I have done, still--after death
itself--I could never cease to think of you. And I am now quite
sure that you yourself would not be able to live very long
without me."... Then clinging closely to him, with her lips at
his neck, she caressed him; and he returned her caresses.

Tomozo wondered as he listened,--because the language of the
woman was not the language of a common woman, but the language of
a lady of rank.(2) Then he determined at all hazards to get one
glimpse of her face; and he crept round the house, backwards and
forwards, peering through every crack and chink. And at last he
was able to see;--but therewith an icy trembling seized him; and
the hair of his head stood up.

For the face was the face of a woman long dead,--and the fingers
caressing were fingers of naked bone,--and of the body below the
waist there was not anything: it melted off into thinnest
trailing shadow. Where the eyes of the lover deluded saw youth
and grace and beauty, there appeared to the eyes of the watcher
horror only, and the emptiness of death. Simultaneously another
woman's figure, and a weirder, rose up from within the chamber,
and swiftly made toward the watcher, as if discerning his
presence. Then, in uttermost terror, he fled to the dwelling of
Hakuodo Yusai, and, knocking frantically at the doors, succeeded
in arousing him.

1 The color and form of the dress, and the style of wearing the
hair, are by Japanese custom regulated accord-big to the age of
the woman.

2 The forms of speech used by the samurai, and other superior
classes, differed considerably from those of the popular idiom;
but these differences could not be effectively rendered into


Hakuodo Yusai, the ninsomi, was a very old man; but in his time
he had travelled much, and he had heard and seen so many things
that he could not be easily surprised. Yet the story of the
terrified Tomozo both alarmed and amazed him. He had read in
ancient Chinese books of love between the living and the dead;
but he had never believed it possible. Now, however, he felt
convinced that the statement of Tomozo was not a falsehood, and
that something very strange was really going on in the house of
Hagiwara. Should the truth prove to be what Tomozo imagined, then
the young samurai was a doomed man.

"If the woman be a ghost,"--said Yusai to the frightened servant,
"--if the woman be a ghost, your master must die very soon,--
unless something extraordinary can be done to save him. And if
the woman be a ghost, the signs of death will appear upon his
face. For the spirit of the living is yoki, and pure;--the spirit
of the dead is inki, and unclean: the one is Positive, the other
Negative. He whose bride is a ghost cannot live. Even though in
his blood there existed the force of a life of one hundred years,
that force must quickly perish.... Still, I shall do all that I
can to save Hagiwara Sama. And in the meantime, Tomozo, say
nothing to any other person,--not even to your wife,--about this
matter. At sunrise I shall call upon your master."

When questioned next morning by Yusai, Shinzaburo at first
attempted to deny that any women had been visiting the house; but
finding this artless policy of no avail, and perceiving that the
old man's purpose was altogether unselfish, he was finally
persuaded to acknowledge what had really occurred, and to give
his reasons for wishing to keep the matter a secret. As for the
lady Iijima, he intended, he said, to make her his wife as soon
as possible.

"Oh, madness!" cried Yusai,--losing all patience in the intensity
of his alarm. "Know, sir, that the people who have been coming
here, night after night, are dead! Some frightful delusion is
upon you!... Why, the simple fact that you long supposed O-Tsuyu
to be dead, and repeated the Nembutsu for her, and made offerings
before her tablet, is itself the proof!... The lips of the dead
have touched you!--the hands of the dead have caressed you!...
Even at this moment I see in your face the signs of death--and
you will not believe!... Listen to me now, sir,--I beg of you,--
if you wish to save yourself: otherwise you have less than twenty
days to live. They told you--those people--that they were
residing in the district of Shitaya, in Yanaka-no-Sasaki. Did you
ever visit them at that place? No!--of course you did not! Then
go to-day,--as soon as you can,--to Yanaka-no-Sasaki, and try to
find their home!..."

And having uttered this counsel with the most vehement
earnestness, Hakuodo Yusai abruptly took his departure.

Shinzaburo, startled though not convinced, resolved after a
moment's reflection to follow the advice of the ninsomi, and to
go to Shitaya. It was yet early in the morning when he reached
the quarter of Yanaka-no-Sasaki, and began his search for the
dwelling of O-Tsuyu. He went through every street and side-
street, read all the names inscribed at the various entrances,
and made inquiries whenever an opportunity presented itself. But
he could not find anything resembling the little house mentioned
by O-Yone; and none of the people whom he questioned knew of any
house in the quarter inhabited by two single women. Feeling at
last certain that further research would be useless, he turned
homeward by the shortest way, which happened to lead through the
grounds of the temple Shin-Banzui-In.

Suddenly his attention was attracted by two new tombs, placed
side by side, at the rear of the temple. One was a common tomb,
such as might have been erected for a person of humble rank: the
other was a large and handsome monument; and hanging before it
was a beautiful peony-lantern, which had probably been left there
at the time of the Festival of the Dead. Shinzaburo remembered
that the peony-lantern carried by O-Yone was exactly similar; and
the coincidence impressed him as strange. He looked again at the
tombs; but the tombs explained nothing. Neither bore any personal
name,--only the Buddhist kaimyo, or posthumous appellation. Then
he determined to seek information at the temple. An acolyte
stated, in reply to his questions, that the large tomb had been
recently erected for the daughter of Iijima Heizayemon, the
hatamoto of Ushigome; and that the small tomb next to it was that
of her servant O-Yone, who had died of grief soon after the young
lady's funeral.

Immediately to Shinzaburö's memory there recurred, with another
and sinister meaning, the words of O-Yone:--"We went away, and
found a very small house in Yanaka-no-Sasaki. There we are now
just barely able to live--by doing a little private work...."
Here was indeed the very small house,--and in Yanaka-no-Sasaki.
But the little private work...?

Terror-stricken, the samurai hastened with all speed to the house
of Yusai, and begged for his counsel and assistance. But Yusai
declared himself unable to be of any aid in such a case. All that
he could do was to send Shinzaburo to the high-priest Ryoseki, of
Shin-Banzui-In, with a letter praying for immediate religious


The high-priest Ryoseki was a learned and a holy man. By
spiritual vision he was able to know the secret of any sorrow,
and the nature of the karma that had caused it. He heard unmoved
the story of Shinzaburo, and said to him:--

"A very great danger now threatens you, because of an error
committed in one of your former states of existence. The karma
that binds you to the dead is very strong; but if I tried to
explain its character, you would not be able to understand. I
shall therefore tell you only this,--that the dead person has no
desire to injure you out of hate, feels no enmity towards you:
she is influenced, on the contrary, by the most passionate
affection for you. Probably the girl has been in love with you
from a time long preceding your present life,--from a time of not
less than three or four past existences; and it would seem that,
although necessarily changing her form and condition at each
succeeding birth, she has not been able to cease from following
after you. Therefore it will not be an easy thing to escape from
her influence.... But now I am going to lend you this powerful
mamoni.(1) It is a pure gold image of that Buddha called the Sea-
Sounding Tathagata--Kai-On-Nyorai,--because his preaching of the
Law sounds through the world like the sound of the sea. And this
little image is especially a shiryo-yoke,(2)--which protects the
living from the dead. This you must wear, in its covering, next
to your body,--under the girdle.... Besides, I shall presently
perform in the temple, a segaki-service(3) for the repose of the
troubled spirit.... And here is a holy sutra, called Ubo-Darani-
Kyo, or "Treasure-Raining Sutra"(4) you must be careful to recite
it every night in your house--without fail.... Furthermore I
shall give you this package of o-fuda(5);--you must paste one of
them over every opening of your house,--no matter how small. If
you do this, the power of the holy texts will prevent the dead
from entering. But--whatever may happen--do not fail to recite
the sutra."

Shinzaburo humbly thanked the high-priest; and then, taking with
him the image, the sutra, and the bundle of sacred texts, he made
all haste to reach his home before the hour of sunset.

1 The Japanese word mamori has significations at least as
numerous as those attaching to our own term "amulet." It would be
impossible, in a mere footnote, even to suggest the variety of
Japanese religious objects to which the name is given. In this
instance, the mamori is a very small image, probably enclosed in
a miniature shrine of lacquer-work or metal, over which a silk
cover is drawn. Such little images were often worn by samurai on
the person. I was recently shown a miniature figure of Kwannon,
in an iron case, which had been carried by an officer through the
Satsuma war. He observed, with good reason, that it had probably
saved his life; for it had stopped a bullet of which the dent was
plainly visible.

2 From shiryo, a ghost, and yokeru, to exclude. The Japanese
have, two kinds of ghosts proper in their folk-lore: the spirits
of the dead, shiryo; and the spirits of the living, ikiryo. A
house or a person may be haunted by an ikiryo as well as by a

3 A special service,--accompanying offerings of food, etc., to
those dead having no living relatives or friends to care for
them,--is thus termed. In this case, however, the service would
be of a particular and exceptional kind.

4 The name would be more correctly written Ubo-Darani-Kyo. It is
the Japanese pronunciation of the title of a very short sutra
translated out of Sanscrit into Chinese by the Indian priest
Amoghavajra, probably during the eighth century. The Chinese text
contains transliterations of some mysterious Sanscrit words,--
apparently talismanic words,--like those to be seen in Kern's
translation of the Saddharma-Pundarika, ch. xxvi.

5 O-fuda is the general name given to religious texts used as
charms or talismans. They are sometimes stamped or burned upon
wood, but more commonly written or printed upon narrow strips of
paper. O-fuda are pasted above house-entrances, on the walls of
rooms, upon tablets placed in household shrines, etc., etc. Some
kinds are worn about the person;--others are made into pellets,
and swallowed as spiritual medicine. The text of the larger o-
fuda is often accompanied by curious pictures or symbolic


With Yusai's advice and help, Shinzaburo was able before dark to
fix the holy texts over all the apertures of his dwelling. Then
the ninsomi returned to his own house,--leaving the youth alone.
Night came, warm and clear. Shinzaburo made fast the doors, bound
the precious amulet about his waist, entered his mosquito-net,
and by the glow of a night-lantern began to recite the Ubo-
Darani-Kyo. For a long time he chanted the words, comprehending
little of their meaning;--then he tried to obtain some rest. But
his mind was still too much disturbed by the strange events of
the day. Midnight passed; and no sleep came to him. At last he
heard the boom of the great temple-bell of Dentsu-In announcing
the eighth hour.(1)

It ceased; and Shinzaburo suddenly heard the sound of geta
approaching from the old direction,--but this time more slowly:
karan-koron, karan-koron! At once a cold sweat broke over his
forehead. Opening the sutra hastily, with trembling hand, he
began again to recite it aloud. The steps came nearer and
nearer,--reached the live hedge,--stopped! Then, strange to say,
Shinzaburo felt unable to remain under his mosquito-net:
something stronger even than his fear impelled him to look; and,
instead of continuing to recite the Ubo-Darani-Kyo, he foolishly
approached the shutters, and through a chink peered out into the
night. Before the house he saw O-Tsuyu standing, and O-Yone with
the peony-lantern; and both of them were gazing at the Buddhist
texts pasted above the entrance. Never before--not even in what
time she lived--had O-Tsuyu appeared so beautiful; and Shinzaburo
felt his heart drawn towards her with a power almost resistless.
But the terror of death and the terror of the unknown restrained;
and there went on within him such a struggle between his love and
his fear that he became as one suffering in the body the pains of
the Sho-netsu hell.(2)

Presently he heard the voice of the maid-servant, saying:--

"My dear mistress, there is no way to enter. The heart of
Hagiwara Sama must have changed. For the promise that he made
last night has been broken; and the doors have been made fast to
keep us out.... We cannot go in to-night.... It will be wiser for
you to make up your mind not to think any more about him, because
his feeling towards you has certainly changed. It is evident that
he does not want to see you. So it will be better not to give
yourself any more trouble for the sake of a man whose heart is so

But the girl answered, weeping:--

"Oh, to think that this could happen after the pledges which we
made to each other!... Often I was told that the heart of a man
changes as quickly as the sky of autumn;--yet surely the heart of
Hagiwara Sama cannot be so cruel that he should really intend to
exclude me in this way!... Dear Yone, please find some means of
taking me to him.... Unless you do, I will never, never go home

Thus she continued to plead, veiling her face with her long
sleeves,--and very beautiful she looked, and very touching; but
the fear of death was strong upon her lover.

O-Yone at last made answer,--"My dear young lady, why will you
trouble your mind about a man who seems to be so cruel?... Well,
let us see if there be no way to enter at the back of the house:
come with me!"

And taking O-Tsuyu by the hand, she led her away toward the rear
of the dwelling; and there the two disappeared as suddenly as the
light disappears when the flame of a lamp is blown out.

1 According to the old Japanese way of counting time, this
yatsudoki or eighth hour was the same as our two o'clock in the
morning. Each Japanese hour was equal to two European hours, so
that there were only six hours instead of our twelve; and these
six hours were counted backwards in the order,--9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4.
Thus the ninth hour corresponded to our midday, or midnight;
half-past nine to our one o'clock; eight to our two o'clock. Two
o'clock in the morning, also called "the Hour of the Ox," was the
Japanese hour of ghosts and goblins.

2 En-netsu or Sho-netsu (Sanscrit "Tapana") is the sixth of the
Eight Hot Hells of Japanese Buddhism. One day of life in this
hell is equal in duration to thousands (some say millions) of
human years.


Night after night the shadows came at the Hour of the Ox; and
nightly Shinzaburo heard the weeping of O-Tsuyu. Yet he believed
himself saved,--little imagining that his doom had already been
decided by the character of his dependents.

Tomozo had promised Yusai never to speak to any other person--not
even to O-Mine--of the strange events that were taking place. But
Tomozo was not long suffered by the haunters to rest in peace.
Night after night O-Yone entered into his dwelling, and roused
him from his sleep, and asked him to remove the o-fuda placed
over one very small window at the back of his master's house. And
Tomozo, out of fear, as often promised her to take away the o-
fuda before the next sundown; but never by day could he make up
his mind to remove it,--believing that evil was intended to
Shinzaburo. At last, in a night of storm, O-Yone startled him
from slumber with a cry of reproach, and stooped above his
pillow, and said to him: "Have a care how you trifle with us! If,
by to-morrow night, you do not take away that text, you shall
learn how I can hate!" And she made her face so frightful as she
spoke that Tomozo nearly died of terror.

O-Mine, the wife of Tomozo, had never till then known of these
visits: even to her husband they had seemed like bad dreams. But
on this particular night it chanced that, waking suddenly, she
heard the voice of a woman talking to Tomozo. Almost in the same
moment the talk-ing ceased; and when O-Mine looked about her, she
saw, by the light of the night-lamp, only her husband,--
shuddering and white with fear. The stranger was gone; the doors
were fast: it seemed impossible that anybody could have entered.
Nevertheless the jealousy of the wife had been aroused; and she
began to chide and to question Tomozo in such a manner that he
thought himself obliged to betray the secret, and to explain the
terrible dilemma in which he had been placed.

Then the passion of O-Mine yielded to wonder and alarm; but she
was a subtle woman, and she devised immediately a plan to save
her husband by the sacrifice of her master. And she gave
Tomozo a cunning counsel,--telling him to make conditions with
the dead.

They came again on the following night at the Hour of the Ox; and
O-Mine hid herself on hearing the sound of their coming,--karan-
koron, karan-koron! But Tomozo went out to meet them in the dark,
and even found courage to say to them what his wife had told him
to say:--

"It is true that I deserve your blame;--but I had no wish to
cause you anger. The reason that the o-fuda has not been taken
away is that my wife and I are able to live only by the help of
Hagiwara Sama, and that we cannot expose him to any danger
without bringing misfortune upon ourselves. But if we could
obtain the sum of a hundred ryo in gold, we should be able to
please you, because we should then need no help from anybody.
Therefore if you will give us a hundred ryo, I can take the o-
fuda away without being afraid of losing our only means of

When he had uttered these words, O-Yone and O-Tsuyu looked at
each other in silence for a moment. Then O-Yoné said:--

"Mistress, I told you that it was not right to trouble this man,
--as we have no just cause of ill will against him. But it is
certainly useless to fret yourself about Hagiwara Sama, because
his heart has changed towards you. Now once again, my dear young
lady, let me beg you not to think any more about him!"

But O-Tsuyu, weeping, made answer:--

"Dear Yone, whatever may happen, I cannot possibly keep myself
from thinking about him! You know that you can get a hundred ryo
to have the o-fuda taken off.... Only once more, I pray, dear
Yone!--only once more bring me face to face with Hagiwara Sama,
--I beseech you!" And hiding her face with her sleeve, she thus
continued to plead.

"Oh! why will you ask me to do these things?" responded O-Yone.
"You know very well that I have no money. But since you will
persist in this whim of yours, in spite of all that I can say, I
suppose that I must try to find the money somehow, and to bring
it here to-morrow night...." Then, turning to the faithless
Tomozo, she said:--"Tomozo, I must tell you that Hagiwara Sama
now wears upon his body a mamoni called by the name of Kai-On-
Nyorai, and that so long as he wears it we cannot approach him.
So you will have to get that mamori away from him, by some means
or other, as well as to remove the o-fuda."

Tomozo feebly made answer:--

"That also I can do, if you will promise to bring me the hundred

"Well, mistress," said O-Yone, "you will wait,--will you not,--
until to-morrow night?"

"Oh, dear Yone!" sobbed the other,--"have we to go back to-night
again without seeing Hagiwara Sama? Ah! it is cruel!"

And the shadow of the mistress, weeping, was led away by the
shadow of the maid.


Another day went, and another night came, and the dead came with
it. But this time no lamentation was heard without the house of
Hagiwara; for the faithless servant found his reward at the Hour
of the Ox, and removed the o-fuda. Moreover he had been able,
while his master was at the bath, to steal from its case the
golden mamori, and to substitute for it an image of copper; and
he had buried the Kai-On-Nyorai in a desolate field. So the
visitants found nothing to oppose their entering. Veiling their
faces with their sleeves they rose and passed, like a streaming
of vapor, into the little window from over which the holy text
had been torn away. But what happened thereafter within the house
Tomozo never knew.

The sun was high before he ventured again to approach his
master's dwelling, and to knock upon the sliding-doors. For the
first time in years he obtained no response; and the silence made
him afraid. Repeatedly he called, and received no answer. Then,
aided by O-Mine, he succeeded in effecting an entrance and making
his way alone to the sleeping-room, where he called again in
vain. He rolled back the rumbling shutters to admit the light;
but still within the house there was no stir. At last he dared to
lift a corner of the mosquito-net. But no sooner had he looked
beneath than he fled from the house, with a cry of horror.

Shinzaburo was dead--hideously dead;--and his face was the face
of a man who had died in the uttermost agony of fear;--and lying
beside him in the bed were the bones of a woman! And the bones of
the arms, and the bones of the hands, clung fast about his neck.


Hakuodo Yusai, the fortune-teller, went to view the corpse at the
prayer of the faithless Tomozo. The old man was terrified and
astonished at the spectacle, but looked about him with a keen
eye. He soon perceived that the o-fuda had been taken from the
little window at the back of the house; and on searching the body
of Shinzaburo, he discovered that the golden mamori had been
taken from its wrapping, and a copper image of Fudo put in place
of it. He suspected Tomozo of the theft; but the whole occurrence
was so very extraordinary that he thought it prudent to consult
with the priest Ryoseki before taking further action. Therefore,
after having made a careful examination of the premises, he
betook himself to the temple Shin-Banzui-In, as quickly as his
aged limbs could bear him.

Ryoseki, without waiting to hear the purpose of the old man's
visit, at once invited him into a private apartment.

"You know that you are always welcome here," said Ryoseki.
"Please seat yourself at ease.... Well, I am sorry to tell you
that Hagiwara Sama is dead."

Yusai wonderingly exclaimed:--"Yes, he is dead;--but how did you
learn of it?"

The priest responded:--

"Hagiwara Sama was suffering from the results of an evil karma;
and his attendant was a bad man. What happened to Hagiwara Sama
was unavoidable;--his destiny had been determined from a time
long before his last birth. It will be better for you not to let
your mind be troubled by this event."

Yusai said:--

"I have heard that a priest of pure life may gain power to see
into the future for a hundred years; but truly this is the first
time in my existence that I have had proof of such power....
Still, there is another matter about which I am very anxious...."

"You mean," interrupted Ryoseki, "the stealing of the holy
mamori, the Kai-On-Nyorai. But you must not give yourself any
concern about that. The image has been buried in a field; and it
will be found there and returned to me during the eighth month of
the coming year. So please do not be anxious about it."

More and more amazed, the old ninsomi ventured to observe:--

"I have studied the In-Yo,(1) and the science of divination; and
I make my living by telling peoples' fortunes;--but I cannot
possibly understand how you know these things."

Ryoseki answered gravely:--

"Never mind how I happen to know them.... I now want to speak to
you about Hagiwara's funeral. The House of Hagiwara has its own
family-cemetery, of course; but to bury him there would not be
proper. He must be buried beside O-Tsuyu, the Lady Iijima; for
his karma-relation to her was a very deep one. And it is but
right that you should erect a tomb for him at your own cost,
because you have been indebted to him for many favors."

Thus it came to pass that Shinzaburo was buried beside O-Tsuyu,
in the cemetery of Shin-Banzui-In, in Yanaka-no-Sasaki.

--Here ends the story of the Ghosts in the Romance of the Peony-

1 The Male and Female principles of the universe, the Active and
Passive forces of Nature. Yusai refers here to the old Chinese
nature-philosophy,--better known to Western readers by the name


My friend asked me whether the story had interested me; and I
answered by telling him that I wanted to go to the cemetery of
Shin-Banzui-In,--so as to realize more definitely the local
color of the author's studies.

"I shall go with you at once," he said. "But what did you think
of the personages?"

"To Western thinking," I made answer, "Shinzaburo is a despicable
creature. I have been mentally comparing him with the true lovers
of our old ballad-literature. They were only too glad to follow a
dead sweetheart into the grave; and nevertheless, being
Christians, they believed that they had only one human life to
enjoy in this world. But Shinzaburo was a Buddhist,--with a
million lives behind him and a million lives before him; and he
was too selfish to give up even one miserable existence for the
sake of the girl that came back to him from the dead. Then he was
even more cowardly than selfish. Although a samurai by birth and
training, he had to beg a priest to save him from ghosts. In
every way he proved himself contemptible; and O-Tsuyu did quite
right in choking him to death."

"From the Japanese point of view, likewise," my friend responded,
"Shinzaburo is rather contemptible. But the use of this weak
character helped the author to develop incidents that could not
otherwise, perhaps, have been so effectively managed. To my
thinking, the only attractive character in the story is that of
O-Yone: type of the old-time loyal and loving servant,--
intelligent, shrewd, full of resource,--faithful not only unto
death, but beyond death.... Well, let us go to Shin-Banzui-In."

We found the temple uninteresting, and the cemetery an
abomination of desolation. Spaces once occupied by graves had
been turned into potato-patches. Between were tombs leaning at
all angles out of the perpendicular, tablets made illegible by
scurf, empty pedestals, shattered water-tanks, and statues of
Buddhas without heads or hands. Recent rains had soaked the black
soil,--leaving here and there small pools of slime about which
swarms of tiny frogs were hopping. Everything--excepting the
potato-patches--seemed to have been neglected for years. In a
shed just within the gate, we observed a woman cooking; and my
companion presumed to ask her if she knew anything about the
tombs described in the Romance of the Peony-Lantern.

"Ah! the tombs of O-Tsuyu and O-Yone?" she responded, smiling;--"
you will find them near the end of the first row at the back of
the temple--next to the statue of Jizo."

Surprises of this kind I had met with elsewhere in Japan.

We picked our way between the rain-pools and between the green
ridges of young potatoes,--whose roots were doubtless feeding on
the sub-stance of many another O-Tsuyu and O-Yone;--and we
reached at last two lichen-eaten tombs of which the inscriptions
seemed almost obliterated. Beside the larger tomb was a statue of
Jizo, with a broken nose.

"The characters are not easy to make out," said my friend--"but
wait!".... He drew from his sleeve a sheet of soft white paper,
laid it over the inscription, and began to rub the paper with a
lump of clay. As he did so, the characters appeared in white on
the blackened surface.

"Eleventh day, third month--Rat, Elder Brother, Fire--Sixth year
of Horeki [A. D. 1756].'... This would seem to be the grave of
some innkeeper of Nedzu, named Kichibei. Let us see what is on
the other monument."

With a fresh sheet of paper he presently brought out the text of
a kaimyo, and read,--

"En-myo-In, Ho-yo-I-tei-ken-shi, Ho-ni':--'Nun-of-the-Law,
Illustrious, Pure-of-heart-and-will, Famed-in-the-Law,--
inhabiting the Mansion-of-the-Preaching-of-Wonder.'.... The grave
of some Buddhist nun."

"What utter humbug!" I exclaimed. "That woman was only making fun
of us."

"Now," my friend protested, "you are unjust to the, woman! You
came here because you wanted a sensation; and she tried her very
best to please you. You did not suppose that ghost-story was
true, did you?"

Footprints of the Buddha


I was recently surprised to find, in Anderson's catalogue of
Japanese and Chinese paintings in the British Museum, this
remarkable statement:--"It is to be noted that in Japan the
figure of the Buddha is never represented by the feet, or
pedestal alone, as in the Amravati remains, and many other Indian
art-relics." As a matter of fact the representation is not even
rare in Japan. It is to be found not only upon stone monuments,
but also in religious paintings,--especially certain kakemono
suspended in temples. These kakemono usually display the
footprints upon a very large scale, with a multitude of mystical
symbols and characters. The sculptures may be less common; but in
Tokyo alone there are a number of Butsu-soku-seki, or "Buddha-
foot stones," which I have seen,--and probably several which I
have not seen. There is one at the temple of Eko-In, near
Ryogoku-bashi; one at the temple of Denbo-In, in Koishikawa; one
at the temple of Denbo-In, in Asakusa; and a beautiful example at
Zojoji in Shiba. These are not cut out of a single block, but are
composed of fragments cemented into the irregular traditional
shape, and capped with a heavy slab of Nebukawa granite, on the
polished surface of which the design is engraved in lines about
one-tenth of an inch in depth. I should judge the average height
of these pedestals to be about two feet four inches, and their
greatest diameter about three feet. Around the footprints there
are carved (in most of the examples) twelve little bunches of
leaves and buds of the Bodai-ju ("Bodhidruma"), or Bodhi-tree of
Buddhist legend. In all cases the footprint design is about the
same; but the monuments are different in quality and finish. That
of Zojoji,--with figures of divinities cut in low relief on its
sides,--is the most ornate and costly of the four. The specimen
at Eko-In is very poor and plain.

The first Butsu-soku-seki made in Japan was that erected at
Todaiji, in Nara. It was designed after a similar monument in
China, said to be the faithful copy of an Indian original.
Concerning this Indian original, the following tradition is given
in an old Buddhist book(1):--"In a temple of the province of
Makada [Maghada] there is a great stone. The Buddha once trod
upon this stone; and the prints of the soles of his feet remain
upon its surface. The length of the impressions is one foot and
eight inches,(2) and the width of them a little more than six
inches. On the sole-part of each footprint there is the
impression of a wheel; and upon each of the prints of the ten
toes there is a flower-like design, which sometimes radiates
light. When the Buddha felt that the time of his Nirvana was
approaching, he went to Kushina [Kusinara], and there stood upon
that stone. He stood with his face to the south. Then he said to
his disciple Anan [Ananda]: 'In this place I leave the impression
of my feet, to remain for a last token. Although a king of this
country will try to destroy the impression, it can never be
entirely destroyed.' And indeed it has not been destroyed unto
this day. Once a king who hated Buddhism caused the top of the
stone to be pared off, so as to remove the impression; but after
the surface had been removed, the footprints reappeared upon the

Concerning the virtue of the representation of the footprints of
the Buddha, there is sometimes quoted a text from the Kwan-butsu-
sanmai-kyo ["Buddha-dhyana-samadhi-sagara-sutra"], thus
translated for me:--"In that time Shaka ["Sakyamuni"] lifted up
his foot.... When the Buddha lifted up his foot all could
perceive upon the sole of it the appearance of a wheel of a
thousand spokes.... And Shaka said: 'Whosoever beholds the sign
upon the sole of my foot shall be purified from all his faults.
Even he who beholds the sign after my death shall be delivered
from all the evil results of all his errors." Various other texts
of Japanese Buddhism affirm that whoever looks upon the
footprints of the Buddha "shall be freed from the bonds of error,
and conducted upon the Way of Enlightenment."

An outline of the footprints as engraved on one of the Japanese
pedestals(3) should have some interest even for persons familiar
with Indian sculptures of the S'ripada. The double-page drawing,
accompanying this paper [Fig.1], and showing both footprints, has
been made after the tracing at Dentsu-In, where the footprints
have the full legendary dimension, It will be observed that there
are only seven emblems: these are called in Japan the Shichi-So,
or "Seven Appearances." I got some information about them from
the Sho-Eko-Ho-Kwan,--a book used by the Jodo sect. This book
also contains rough woodcuts of the footprints; and one of them I
reproduce here for the purpose of calling attention to the
curious form of the emblems upon the toes. They are said to be
modifications of the manji, or svastika, but I doubt it. In the
Butsu-soku-seki-tracings, the corresponding figures suggest the
"flower-like design" mentioned in the tradition of the Maghada
stone; while the symbols in the book-print suggest fire. Indeed
their outline so much resembles the conventional flamelet-design
of Buddhist decoration, that I cannot help thinking them
originally intended to indicate the traditional luminosity of the
footprints. Moreover, there is a text in the book called Ho-Kai-
Shidai that lends support to this supposition:--"The sole of the
foot of the Buddha is flat,--like the base of a toilet-stand....
Upon it are lines forming the appearance of a wheel of a thousand
spokes.... The toes are slender, round, long, straight, graceful,
and somewhat luminous." [Fig. 3]

The explanation of the Seven Appearances which is given by the
Sho-Eko-Ho-Kwan cannot be called satisfactory; but it is not
without interest in relation to Japanese popular Buddhism. The
emblems are considered in the following order:--

I.--The Svastika. The figure upon each toe is said to be a
modification of the manji (4); and although I doubt whether this
is always the case, I have observed that on some of the large
kakemono representing the footprints, the emblem really is the
svastika,--not a flamelet nor a flower-shape.(5) The Japanese
commentator explains the svastika as a symbol of "everlasting
II.--The Fish (Gyo). The fish signifies freedom from all
restraints. As in the water a fish moves easily in any direction,
so in the Buddha-state the fully-emancipated knows no restraints
or obstructions.
III.--The Diamond-Mace (Jap. Kongo-sho;--Sansc. "Vadjra").
Explained as signifying the divine force that "strikes and breaks
all the lusts (bonno) of the world."
IV.--The Conch-Shell (Jap. "Hora ") or Trumpet. Emblem of the
preaching of the Law. The book Shin-zoku-butsu-ji-hen calls it
the symbol of the voice of the Buddha. The Dai-hi-kyo calls it
the token of the preaching and of the power of the Mahayana
doctrine. The Dai-Nichi-Kyo says:--" At the sound of the blowing
of the shell, all the heavenly deities are filled with delight,
and come to hear the Law."
V.--The Flower-Vase (Jap. "Hanagame"). Emblem of muro,--a
mystical word which might be literally rendered as "not-
leaking,"--signifying that condition of supreme intelligence
triumphant over birth and death.
VI.--The Wheel-of-a-Thousand-Spokes (Sansc. "Tchakra "). This
emblem, called in Japanese Senfuku-rin-so, is curiously explained
by various quotations. The Hokke-Monku says:--"The effect of a
wheel is to crush something; and the effect of the Buddha's
preaching is to crush all delusions, errors, doubts, and
superstitions. Therefore preaching the doctrine is called,
'turning the Wheel.'"... The Sei-Ri-Ron says: "Even as the common
wheel has its spokes and its hub, so in Buddhism there are many
branches of the Hasshi Shodo ('Eight-fold Path,' or eight rules
of conduct)."
VII.--The Crown of Brahma. Under the heel of the Buddha is the
Treasure-Crown (Ho-Kwan) of Brahma (Bon-Ten-O),--in symbol of the
Buddha's supremacy above the gods.

But I think that the inscriptions upon any of these Butsu-soku-
seki will be found of more significance than the above imperfect
attempts at an explanation of the emblems. The inscriptions upon
the monument at Dentsu-In are typical. On different sides of the
structure,--near the top, and placed by rule so as to face
certain points of the compass,--there are engraved five Sanscrit
characters which are symbols of the Five Elemental Buddhas,
together with scriptural and commemorative texts. These latter
have been translated for me as follows:--

The HO-KO-HON-NYO-KYO says:--"In that time, from beneath his
feet, the Buddha radiated a light having the appearance of a
wheel of a thousand spokes. And all who saw that radiance became
strictly upright, and obtained the Supreme Enlightenment."

The KWAN-BUTSU-SANMAI-KYO says:--"Whosoever looks upon the
footprints of the Buddha shall be freed from the results even of
innumerable thousands of imperfections."

The BUTSU-SETSU-MU-RYO-JU-KYO says:--"In the land that the Buddha
treads in journeying, there is not even one person in all the
multitude of the villages who is not benefited. Then throughout
the world there is peace and good will. The sun and the moon
shine clear and bright. Wind and rain come only at a suitable
time. Calamity and pestilence cease. The country prospers; the
people are free from care. Weapons become useless. All men
reverence religion, and regulate their conduct in all matters
with earnestness and modesty."

[Commemorative Text.]

--The Fifth Month of the Eighteenth Year of Meiji, all the
priests of this temple made and set up this pedestal-stone,
bearing the likeness of the footprints of the Buddha, and placed
the same within the main court of Dentsu-In, in order that the
seed of holy enlightenment might be sown for future time, and for
the sake of the advancement of Buddhism.

TAIJO, priest,--being the sixty-sixth chief-priest by succession
of this temple,--has respectfully composed.

JUNYU, the minor priest, has reverentially inscribed.

1 The Chinese title is pronounced by Japanese as Sei-iki-ki.
"Sei-iki"(the Country of the West) was the old Japanese name for
India; and thus the title might be rendered, "The Book about
India." I suppose this is the work known to Western scholars as

2 "One shaku and eight sun." But the Japanese foot and inch are
considerably longer than the English.

3 A monument at Nara exhibits the S'ripada in a form differing
considerably from the design upon the Tokyo pedestals.

4 Lit.: "The thousand-character" sign.

5 On some monuments and drawings there is a sort of disk made by
a single line in spiral, on each toe,--together with the image of
a small wheel.


Strange facts crowd into memory as one contemplates those graven
footprints,--footprints giant-seeming, yet less so than the human
personality of which they remain the symbol. Twenty-four hundred
years ago, out of solitary meditation upon the pain and the
mystery of being, the mind of an Indian pilgrim brought forth the
highest truth ever taught to men, and in an era barren of science
anticipated the uttermost knowledge of our present evolutional
philosophy regarding the secret unity of life, the endless
illusions of matter and of mind, and the birth and death of
universes. He, by pure reason,--and he alone before our time,--
found answers of worth to the questions of the Whence, the
Whither, and the Why;--and he made with these answers another and
a nobler faith than the creed of his fathers. He spoke, and
returned to his dust; and the people worshipped the prints of his
dead feet, because of the love that he had taught them.
Thereafter waxed and waned the name of Alexander, and the power
of Rome and the might of Islam;--nations arose and vanished;--
cities grew and were not;--the children of another civilization,
vaster than Romes, begirdled the earth with conquest, and founded
far-off empires, and came at last to rule in the land of that
pilgrim's birth. And these, rich in the wisdom of four and twenty
centuries, wondered at the beauty of his message, and caused all
that he had said and done to be written down anew in languages
unborn at the time when he lived and taught. Still burn his foot-
prints in the East; and still the great West, marvelling, follows
their gleam to seek the Supreme Enlightenment. Even thus, of old,
Milinda the king followed the way to the house of Nagasena,--at
first only to question, after the subtle method of the Greeks;
yet, later, to accept with noble reverence the nobler method of
the Master.


SHE is lean as a wolf, and very old,--the white bitch that guards
my gate at night. She played with most of the young men and women
of the neighborhood when they were boys and girls. I found her in
charge of my present dwelling on the day that I came to occupy
it. She had guarded the place, I was told, for a long succession
of prior tenants--apparently with no better reason than that she
had been born in the woodshed at the back of the house. Whether
well or ill treated she had served all occupants faultlessly as a
watch. The question of food as wages had never seriously troubled
her, because most of the families of the street daily contributed
to her support.

She is gentle and silent,--silent at least by day; and in spite
of her gaunt ugliness, her pointed ears, and her somewhat
unpleasant eyes, everybody is fond of her. Children ride on her
back, and tease her at will; but although she has been known to
make strange men feel uncomfortable, she never growls at a child.
The reward of her patient good-nature is the friendship of the
community. When the dog-killers come on their bi-annual round,
the neighbors look after her interests. Once she was on the very
point of being officially executed when the wife of the smith ran
to the rescue, and pleaded successfully with the policeman
superintending the massacres. "Put somebody's name on the dog,"
said the latter: "then it will be safe. Whose dog is it?" That
question proved hard to answer. The dog was everybody's and
nobody's--welcome everywhere but owned nowhere. "But where does
it stay?" asked the puzzled constable. "It stays," said the
smith's wife, "in the house of the foreigner." "Then let the
foreigner's name be put upon the dog," suggested the policeman.

Accordingly I had my name painted on her back in big Japanese
characters. But the neighbors did not think that she was
sufficiently safeguarded by a single name. So the priest of
Kobudera painted the name of the temple on her left side, in
beautiful Chinese text; and the smith put the name of his shop on
her right side; and the vegetable-seller put on her breast the
ideographs for "eight-hundred,"--which represent the customary
abbreviation of the word yaoya (vegetable-seller),--any yaoya
being supposed to sell eight hundred or more different things.
Consequently she is now a very curious-looking dog; but she is
well protected by all that calligraphy.

I have only one fault to find with her: she howls at night.
Howling is one of the few pathetic pleasures of her existence. At
first I tried to frighten her out of the habit; but finding that
she refused to take me seriously, I concluded to let her howl. It
would have been monstrous to beat her.

Yet I detest her howl. It always gives me a feeling of vague
disquiet, like the uneasiness that precedes the horror of
nightmare. It makes me afraid,--indefinably, superstitiously
afraid. Perhaps what I am writing will seem to you absurd; but
you would not think it absurd if you once heard her howl. She
does not howl like the common street-dogs. She belongs to some
ruder Northern breed, much more wolfish, and retaining wild
traits of a very peculiar kind.

And her howl is also peculiar. It is incomparably weirder than
the howl of any European dog; and I fancy that it is incomparably
older. It may represent the original primitive cry of her
species,--totally unmodified by centuries of domestication.
It begins with a stifled moan, like the moan of a bad dream,--
mounts into a long, long wail, like a wailing of wind,--sinks
quavering into a chuckle,--rises again to a wail, very much
higher and wilder than before,--breaks suddenly into a kind of
atrocious laughter,--and finally sobs itself out in a plaint like
the crying of a little child. The ghastliness of the performance
is chiefly--though not entirely--in the goblin mockery of the
laughing tones as contrasted with the piteous agony of the
wailing ones: an incongruity that makes you think of madness. And
I imagine a corresponding incongruity in the soul of the
creature. I know that she loves me,--that she would throw away
her poor life for me at an instant's notice. I am sure that she
would grieve if I were to die. But she would not think about the
matter like other dogs,--like a dog with hanging ears, for ex-
ample. She is too savagely close to Nature for that. Were she to
find herself alone with my corpse in some desolate place, she
would first mourn wildly for her friend; but, this duty per-
formed, she would proceed to ease her sorrow in the simplest way
possible,--by eating him,--by cracking his bones between those
long wolf's-teeth of hers. And thereafter, with spotless
conscience, she would sit down and utter to the moon the funeral
cry of her ancestors.

It fills me, that cry, with a strange curiosity not less than
with a strange horror,--because of certain extraordinary
vowellings in it which always recur in the same order of
sequence, and must represent particular forms of animal speech,--
particular ideas. The whole thing is a song,--a song of emotions
and thoughts not human, and therefore humanly unimaginable. But
other dogs know what it means, and make answer over the miles of
the night,--sometimes from so far away that only by straining my
hearing to the uttermost can I detect the faint response. The
words--(if I may call them words)--are very few; yet, to judge by
their emotional effect, they must signify a great deal. Possibly
they mean things myriads of years old,--things relating to odors,
to exhalations, to influences and effluences inapprehensible by
duller human sense,--impulses also, impulses without name,
bestirred in ghosts of dogs by the light of great moons.

Could we know the sensations of a dog,--the emotions and the
ideas of a dog, we might discover some strange correspondence
between their character and the character of that peculiar
disquiet which the howl of the creature evokes. But since the
senses of a dog are totally unlike those of a man, we shall never
really know. And we can only surmise, in the vaguest way, the
meaning of the uneasiness in ourselves. Some notes in the long
cry,--and the weirdest of them,--oddly resemble those tones of
the human voice that tell of agony and terror. Again, we have
reason to believe that the sound of the cry itself became
associated in human imagination, at some period enormously
remote, with particular impressions of fear. It is a remarkable
fact that in almost all countries (including Japan) the howling
of dogs has been attributed to their perception of things
viewless to man, and awful,--especially gods and ghosts;--and
this unanimity of superstitious belief suggests that one element
of the disquiet inspired by the cry is the dread of the
supernatural. To-day we have ceased to be consciously afraid of
the unseen;--knowing that we ourselves are supernatural,--that
even the physical man, with all his life of sense, is more
ghostly than any ghost of old imagining: but some dim inheritance
of the primitive fear still slumbers in our being, and wakens
perhaps, like an echo, to the sound of that wail in the night.

Whatever thing invisible to human eyes the senses of a dog may at
times perceive, it can be nothing resembling our idea of a ghost.
Most probably the mysterious cause of start and whine is not
anything _seen_. There is no anatomical reason for supposing a
dog to possess exceptional powers of vision. But a dog's organs
of scent proclaim a faculty immeasurably superior to the sense of
smell in man. The old universal belief in the superhuman
perceptivities of the creature was a belief justified by fact;
but the perceptivities are not visual. Were the howl of a dog
really--as once supposed--an outcry of ghostly terror, the
meaning might possibly be, "I smell Them!"-- but not, "I see
Them!" No evidence exists to support the fancy that a dog can see
any forms of being which a man cannot see.

But the night-howl of the white creature in my close forces me to
wonder whether she does not _mentally_ see something really
terrible,--something which we vainly try to keep out of moral
consciousness: the ghoulish law of life. Nay, there are times
when her cry seems to me not the mere cry of a dog, but the voice
of the law itself,--the very speech of that Nature so
inexplicably called by poets the loving, the merciful, the
divine! Divine, perhaps, in some unknowable ultimate way,--but
certainly not merciful, and still more certainly not loving. Only
by eating each other do beings exist! Beautiful to the poet's
vision our world may seem,--with its loves, its hopes, its
memories, its aspirations; but there is nothing beautiful in the
fact that life is fed by continual murder,--that the tenderest
affection, the noblest enthusiasm, the purest idealism, must be
nourished by the eating of flesh and the drinking of blood. All
life, to sustain itself, must devour life. You may imagine
yourself divine if you please,--but you have to obey that law.
Be, if you will, a vegetarian: none the less you must eat forms
that have feeling and desire. Sterilize your food; and digestion
stops. You cannot even drink without swallowing life. Loathe
the name as we may, we are cannibals;--all being essentially is
One; and whether we eat the flesh of a plant, a fish, a reptile,
a bird, a mammal, or a man, the ultimate fact is the same. And
for all life the end is the same: every creature, whether buried
or burnt, is devoured,--and not only once or twice,--nor a
hundred, nor a thousand, nor a myriad times! Consider the ground
upon which we move, the soil out of which we came;--think of the
vanished billions that have risen from it and crumbled back into
its latency to feed what becomes our food! Perpetually we eat the
dust of our race,--_the substance of our ancient selves_.

But even so-called inanimate matter is self-devouring. Substance
preys upon substance. As in the droplet monad swallows monad, so
in the vast of Space do spheres consume each other. Stars give
being to worlds and devour them; planets assimilate their own
moons. All is a ravening that never ends but to recommence. And
unto whomsoever thinks about these matters, the story of a divine
universe, made and ruled by paternal love, sounds less persuasive
than the Polynesian tale that the souls of the dead are devoured
by the gods.

Monstrous the law seems, because we have developed ideas and
sentiments which are opposed to this demoniac Nature,--much as
voluntary movement is opposed to the blind power of gravitation.
But the possession of such ideas and sentiments does but
aggravate the atrocity of our situation, without lessening in the
least the gloom of the final problem.

Anyhow the faith of the Far East meets that problem better than
the faith of the West. To the Buddhist the Cosmos is not divine
at all--quite the reverse. It is Karma;--it is the creation of
thoughts and acts of error;--it is not governed by any
providence;--it is a ghastliness, a nightmare. Likewise it is an
illusion. It seems real only for the same reason that the shapes
and the pains of an evil dream seem real to the dreamer. Our life
upon earth is a state of sleep. Yet we do not sleep utterly.
There are gleams in our darkness,--faint auroral wakenings of
Love and Pity and Sympathy and Magnanimity: these are selfless
and true;--these are eternal and divine;--these are the Four
Infinite Feelings in whose after-glow all forms and illusions
will vanish, like mists in the light of the sun. But, except in
so far as we wake to these feelings, we are dreamers indeed,--
moaning unaided in darkness,--tortured by shadowy horror. All of
us dream; none are fully awake; and many, who pass for the wise
of the world, know even less of the truth than my dog that howls
in the night.

Could she speak, my dog, I think that she might ask questions
which no philosopher would be able to answer. For I believe that
she is tormented by the pain of existence. Of course I do not
mean that the riddle presents itself to her as it does to us,--
nor that she can have reached any abstract conclusions by any
mental processes like our own. The external world to her is "a
continuum of smells." She thinks, compares, remembers, reasons by
smells. By smell she makes her estimates of character: all her
judgments are founded upon smells. Smelling thousands of things
which we cannot smell at all, she must comprehend them in a way
of which we can form no idea. Whatever she knows has been learned
through mental operations of an utterly unimaginable kind. But we
may be tolerably sure that she thinks about most things in some
odor-relation to the experience of eating or to the intuitive
dread of being eaten. Certainly she knows a great deal more about
the earth on which we tread than would be good for us to know;
and probably, if capable of speech, she could tell us the
strangest stories of air and water. Gifted, or afflicted, as she
is with such terribly penetrant power of sense, her notion of
apparent realities must be worse than sepulchral. Small wonder if
she howl at the moon that shines upon such a world!

And yet she is more awake, in the Buddhist meaning, than many of
us. She possesses a rude moral code--inculcating loyalty,
submission, gentleness, gratitude, and maternal love; together
with various minor rules of conduct;--and this simple code she
has always observed. By priests her state is termed a state of
darkness of mind, because she cannot learn all that men should
learn; but according to her light she has done well enough to
merit some better condition in her next rebirth. So think the
people who know her. When she dies they will give her an humble
funeral, and have a sutra recited on behalf of her spirit. The
priest will let a grave be made for her somewhere in the temple-
garden, and will place over it a little sotoba bearing the
text,--Nyo-ze chikusho hotsu Bodai-shin (1): "Even within such as
this animal, the Knowledge Supreme will unfold at last."

1 Lit., "the Bodhi-mind;"--that is to say, the Supreme
Enlightenment, the intelligence of Buddhahood itself.

Bits of Poetry


Among a people with whom poetry has been for centuries a
universal fashion of emotional utterance, we should naturally
suppose the common ideal of life to be a noble one. However
poorly the upper classes of such a people might compare with
those of other nations, we could scarcely doubt that its lower
classes were morally and otherwise in advance of our own lower
classes. And the Japanese actually present us with such a social

Poetry in Japan is universal as the air. It is felt by everybody.
It is read by everybody. It is composed by almost everybody,--
irrespective of class and condition. Nor is it thus ubiquitous in
the mental atmosphere only: it is everywhere to be heard by the
ear, and _seen by the eye_!

As for audible poetry, wherever there is working there is
singing. The toil of the fields and the labor of the streets are
performed to the rhythm of chanted verse; and song would seem to
be an expression of the life of the people in about the same
sense that it is an expression of the life of cicadae.... As for
visible poetry, it appears everywhere, written or graven,--in
Chinese or in Japanese characters,--as a form of decoration. In
thousands and thousands of dwellings, you might observe that the
sliding- screens, separating rooms or closing alcoves, have
Chinese or Japanese decorative texts upon them;--and these texts
are poems. In houses of the better class there are usually a
number of gaku, or suspended tablets to be seen,--each bearing,
for all design, a beautifully written verse. But poems can be
found upon almost any kind of domestic utensil,--for example upon
braziers, iron kettles, vases, wooden trays, lacquer ware,
porcelains, chopsticks of the finer sort,--even toothpicks! Poems
are painted upon shop-signs, panels, screens, and fans. Poems are
printed upon towels, draperies, curtains, kerchiefs, silk-
linings, and women's crepe-silk underwear. Poems are stamped or
worked upon letter-paper, envelopes, purses, mirror-cases,
travelling-bags. Poems are inlaid upon enamelled ware, cut upon
bronzes, graven upon metal pipes, embroidered upon tobacco-
pouches. It were a hopeless effort to enumerate a tithe of the
articles decorated with poetical texts. Probably my readers know
of those social gatherings at which it is the custom to compose
verses, and to suspend the compositions to blossoming frees,--
also of the Tanabata festival in honor of certain astral gods,
when poems inscribed on strips of colored paper, and attached to
thin bamboos, are to be seen even by the roadside,--all
fluttering in the wind like so many tiny flags.... Perhaps you
might find your way to some Japanese hamlet in which there are
neither trees nor flowers, but never to any hamlet in which there
is no visible poetry. You might wander,--as I have done,--into a
settlement so poor that you could not obtain there, for love or
money, even a cup of real tea; but I do not believe that you
could discover a settlement in which there is nobody capable of
making a poem.


Recently while looking over a manuscript-collection of verses,--
mostly short poems of an emotional or descriptive character,--it
occurred to me that a selection from them might serve to
illustrate certain Japanese qualities of sentiment, as well as
some little-known Japanese theories of artistic expression,--and
I ventured forthwith, upon this essay. The poems, which had been
collected for me by different persons at many different times and
places, were chiefly of the kind written on particular occasions,
and cast into forms more serried, if not also actually briefer,
than anything in Western prosody. Probably few Of my readers are
aware of two curious facts relating to this order of composition.
Both facts are exemplified in the history and in the texts of my
collection,--though I cannot hope, in my renderings, to reproduce
the original effect, whether of imagery or of feeling.

The first curious fact is that, from very ancient times, the
writing of short poems has been practised in Japan even more as a
moral duty than as a mere literary art. The old ethical teaching
was somewhat like this:--"Are you very angry?--do not say
anything unkind, but compose a poem. Is your best-beloved dead?--
do not yield to useless grief, but try to calm your mind by
making a poem. Are you troubled because you are about to die,
leaving so many things unfinished?--be brave, and write a poem on
death! Whatever injustice or misfortune disturbs you, put aside
your resentment or your sorrow as soon as possible, and write a
few lines of sober and elegant verse for a moral exercise."
Accordingly, in the old days, every form of trouble was
encountered with a poem. Bereavement, separation, disaster called
forth verses in lieu of plaints. The lady who preferred death to
loss of honor, composed a poem before piercing her throat The
samurai sentenced to die by his own hand, wrote a poem before
performing hara-kiri. Even in this less romantic era of Meiji,
young people resolved upon suicide are wont to compose some
verses before quitting the world. Also it is still the good
custom to write a poem in time of ill-fortune. I have frequently
known poems to be written under the most trying circumstances of
misery or suffering,--nay even upon a bed of death;-and if the
verses did not display any extraordinary talent, they at least
afforded extraordinary proof of self-mastery under pain....
Surely this fact of composition as ethical practice has larger
interest than all the treatises ever written about the rules of
Japanese prosody.

The other curious fact is only a fact of aesthetic theory. The
common art-principle of the class of poems under present
consideration is identical with the common principle of Japanese
pictorial illustration. By the use of a few chosen words the
composer of a short poem endeavors to do exactly what the painter
endeavors to do with a few strokes of the brush,--to evoke an
image or a mood,--to revive a sensation or an emotion. And the
accomplishment of this purpose,--by poet or by picture-maker,--
depends altogether upon capacity to suggest, and only to suggest.
A Japanese artist would be condemned for attempting elaboration
of detail in a sketch intended to recreate the memory of some
landscape seen through the blue haze of a spring morning, or
under the great blond light of an autumn after-noon. Not only
would he be false to the traditions of his art: he would
necessarily defeat his own end thereby. In the same way a poet
would be condemned for attempting any completeness of utterance
in a very short poem: his object should be only to stir
imagination without satisfying it. So the term ittakkiri--meaning
"all gone," or "entirely vanished," in the sense of "all told,"--
is contemptuously applied to verses in which the verse-maker has
uttered his whole thought;--praise being reserved for
compositions that leave in the mind the thrilling of a something
unsaid. Like the single stroke of a temple-bell, the perfect
short poem should set murmuring and undulating, in the mind of
the hearer, many a ghostly aftertone of long duration.


But for the same reason that Japanese short poems may be said to
resemble. Japanese pictures, a full comprehension of them
requires an intimate knowledge of the life which they reflect.
And this is especially true of the emotional class of such
poems,--a literal translation of which, in the majority of cases,
would signify almost nothing to the Western mind. Here, for
example, is a little verse, pathetic enough to Japanese

ChochO ni!..
Kyonen shishitaru
Tsuma koishi!

Translated, this would appear to mean only,--"Two butterflies!...
Last year my dear wife died!" Unless you happen to know the
pretty Japanese symbolism of the butterfly in relation to happy
marriage, and the old custom of sending with the wedding-gift a
large pair of paper-butterflies (ocho-mecho), the verse might
well seem to be less than commonplace. Or take this recent
composition, by a University student, which has been praised by
good judges:--

Furusato ni
Fubo ari--mushi no
Koe-goe! (1)

--"In my native place the old folks [or, my parents] are--clamor
of insect-voices!"

1 I must observe, however, that the praise was especially evoked
by the use of the term koe-goe--(literally meaning "voice after
voice" or a crying of many voices);--and the special value of the
syllables here can be appreciated only by a Japanese poet.

The poet here is a country-lad. In unfamiliar fields he listens
to the great autumn chorus of insects; and the sound revives for
him the memory of his far-off home and of his parents. But here
is something incomparably more touching,--though in literal
translation probably more obscure,--than either of the preceding

Mi ni shimiru
Kaze ya I
Shoji ni
Yubi no ato!

--"Oh, body-piercing wind!--that work of little fingers in the
shoji!" (2).... What does this mean? It means the sorrowing of a
mother for her dead child. Shoji is the name given to those light
white-paper screens which in a Japanese house serve both as
windows and doors, admitting plenty of light, but concealing,
like frosted glass, the interior from outer observation, and
excluding the wind. Infants delight to break these by poking
their fingers through the soft paper: then the wind blows through
the holes. In this case the wind blows very cold indeed,--into
the mother's very heart;--for it comes through the little holes
that were made by the fingers of her dead child.

2 More literally:--"body-through-pierce wind--ah!
--shoji in the traces of [viz.: holes made by] fingers!"

The impossibility of preserving the inner quality of such poems
in a literal rendering, will now be obvious. Whatever I attempt
in this direction must of necessity be ittakkiri;--for the
unspoken has to be expressed; and what the Japanese poet is able
to say in seventeen or twenty-one syllables may need in English
more than double that number of words. But perhaps this fact will
lend additional interest to the following atoms of emotional

Sweet and clear in the night, the voice of a boy at study,
Reading out of a book.... I also once had a boy!

She, who, departing hence, left to the flowers of the plum-tree,
Blooming beside our eaves, the charm of her youth and beauty,
And maiden pureness of heart, to quicken their flush and
Ah! where does she dwell to-day, our dear little vanished sister?

(1) I sought in the place of graves the tomb of my vanished
From ancient cedars above there rippled a wild doves cry.

(2) Perhaps a freak of the wind-yet perhaps a sign of
This fall of a single leaf on the water I pour for the dead.

(3)I whispered a prayer at the grave: a butterfly rose and
Thy spirit, perhaps, dear friend!...

This light of the moon that plays on the water I pour for the
Differs nothing at all from the moonlight of other years.

The garden that once I loved, and even the hedge of the garden,--
All is changed and strange: the moonlight only is faithful;--
The moon along remembers the charm of the time gone by!

O vapory moon of spring!--would that one plunge into ocean
Could win me renewal of life as a part of thy light on the

Whither now should! look?--where is the place of parting?
Boundaries all have vanished;--nothing tells of direction:
Only the waste of sea under the shining moon!

Wafted into my room, the scent of the flowers of the plum-tree
Changes my broken window into a source of delight.


(1) Faded the clover now;--sere and withered the grasses:
What dreams the matsumushi(1) in the desolate autumn-fields?

(2) Strangely sad, I thought, sounded the bell of evening;--
Haply that tone proclaimed the night in which autumn dies!

(3)Viewing this autumn-moon, I dream of my native village
Under the same soft light,--and the shadows about my home.

1 A musical cricket--calyptotryphus marmoratus.

Only "I," "I,"--the cry of the foolish semi!
Any one knows that the world is void as its cast-off shell.

Only the pitiful husk!... O poor singer of summer,
Wherefore thus consume all thy body in song?

The mind that, undimmed, absorbs the foul and the pure together--
Call it rather a sea one thousand fathoms deep!(2)

2. This is quite novel in its way,--a product of the University:
the original runs thus:--

Nigoréru mo
Sumêru mo tomo ni
Iruru koso
Chi-hiro no umi no
Kokoro nari-kere!


Mad waves devour The rocks: I ask myself in the darkness,
"Have I become a god?" Dim is The night and wild!

"Have I become a god?"--that is to say, "Have I died?--am I only
a ghost in this desolation?" The dead, becoming kami or gods, are
thought to haunt wild solitudes by preference.


The poems above rendered are more than pictorial: they suggest
something of emotion or sentiment. But there are thousands of
pictorial poems that do not; and these would seem mere
insipidities to a reader ignorant of their true purpose. When you
learn that some exquisite text of gold means only, "Evening-
sunlight on the wings of the water-fowl,"--or,"Now in my garden
the flowers bloom, and the butterflies dance,"--then your first
interest in decorative poetry is apt to wither away. Yet these
little texts have a very real merit of their own, and an intimate
relation to Japanese aesthetic feeling and experience. Like the
pictures upon screens and fans and cups, they give pleasure by
recalling impressions of nature, by reviving happy incidents of
travel or pilgrimage, by evoking the memory of beautiful days.
And when this plain fact is fully understood, the persistent
attachment of modern Japanese poets--notwithstanding their
University training--to the ancient poetical methods, will be
found reasonable enough.

I need offer only a very few specimens of the purely pictorial
poetry. The following--mere thumb-nail sketches in verse--are of
recent date.

Furu-dera ya:
Kane mono iwazu;
Sakura chiru.
--"Old temple: bell voiceless; cherry-flowers fall."

Yamadera no
Shicho akeyuku:
Taki no oto.
--"In the mountain-temple the paper mosquito-curtain is lighted
by the dawn: sound of water-fall."

Yuki no mura;
Niwatori naite;
Ake shiroshi.
 "Snow-village;--cocks crowing;--white dawn."

Let me conclude this gossip on poetry by citing from another
group of verses--also pictorial, in a certain sense, but chiefly
remarkable for ingenuity--two curiosities of impromptu. The first
is old, and is attributed to the famous poetess Chiyo. Having
been challenged to make a poem of seventeen syllables referring
to a square, a triangle, and a circle, she is said to have
immediately responded,--

Kaya no te wo
Hitotsu hazushite,
Tsuki-mi kana!
--"Detaching one corner of the mosquito-net, lo! I behold the
moon!" The top of the mosquito-net, suspended by cords at each of
its four corners, represents the square;--letting down the net at
one corner converts the square into a triangle;--and the moon
represents the circle.

The other curiosity is a recent impromptu effort to portray, in
one verse of seventeen syllables, the last degree of devil-may-
care-poverty,--perhaps the brave misery of the wandering
student;--and I very much doubt whether the effort could be
improved upon:--

Kagashi no kasa ni
Ame kyu nari.
--"Heavily pours the rain on the hat that I stole from the

Japanese Buddhist Proverbs

As representing that general quality of moral experience which
remains almost unaffected by social modifications of any
sort, the proverbial sayings of a people must always possess a
special psychological interest for thinkers. In this kind of
folklore the oral and the written literature of Japan is rich to
a degree that would require a large book to exemplify. To the
subject as a whole no justice could be done within the limits of
a single essay. But for certain classes of proverbs and
proverbial phrases something can be done within even a few pages;
and sayings related to Buddhism, either by allusion or
derivation, form a class which seems to me particularly worthy of
study. Accordingly, with the help of a Japanese friend, I have
selected and translated the following series of examples,--
choosing the more simple and familiar where choice was possible,
and placing the originals in alphabetical order to facilitate
reference. Of course the selection is imperfectly representative;
but it will serve to illustrate certain effects of Buddhist
teaching upon popular thought and speech.

1.--Akuji mi ni tomaru.
All evil done clings to the body.*

*The consequence of any evil act or thought never,--so long as
karma endures,--will cease to act upon the existence of the
person guilty of it.

2.--Atama soru yori kokoro wo sore.
Better to shave the heart than to shave the head.*

*Buddhist nuns and priests have their heads completely shaven.
The proverb signifies that it is better to correct the heart,--to
conquer all vain regrets and desires,--than to become a
religious. In common parlance the phrase "to shave the head"
means to become a monk or a nun.

3.--Au wa wakare no hajime.
Meeting is only the beginning of separation.*

*Regret and desire are equally vain in this world of
impermanency; for all joy is the beginning of an experience that
must have its pain. This proverb refers directly to the sutra-
text,--Shoja bitsumetsu e-sha-jori,--" All that live must surely
die; and all that meet will surely part."

4.--Banji wa yume.
All things* are merely dreams.

*Literally, "ten thousand things."

5.--Bonbu mo satoreba hotoke nari.
Even a common man by obtaining knowledge becomes a Buddha.*

*The only real differences of condition are differences In
knowledge of the highest truth.

6.--Bonno kuno.
All lust is grief.*

*All sensual desire invariably brings sorrow.

7--Buppo to wara-ya no ame, dete kike.
One must go outside to hear Buddhist doctrine or the sound of
rain on a straw roof.*

*There is an allusion here to the condition of the sbuhhl
(priest): literally, "one who has left his house." The proverb
suggests that the higher truths of Buddhism cannot be acquired by
those who continue to live in the world of follies and desires.

8.--Bussho en yori okoru.
Out of karma-relation even the divine nature itself grows.*

*There is good as well as bad karma. Whatever hap-piness we enjoy
is not less a consequence of the acts and thoughts of previous
lives, than is any misfortune that comes to us. Every good
thought and act contributes to the evolution of the Buddha-nature
within each of us. Another proverb [No. 10],--En naki shujo wa
doshi gatashi,--further illustrates the meaning of this one.

9.--Enko ga tsuki wo toran to suru ga gotoshi.
Like monkeys trying to snatch the moon's reflection on water.*

*Allusion to a parable, said to have been related by the Buddha
himself, about some monkeys who found a well under a tree, and
mistook for reality the image of the moon in the water. They
resolved to seize the bright apparition. One monkey suspended
himself by the tail from a branch overhanging the well, a second
monkey clung to the first, a third to the second, a fourth to the
third, and so on,--till the long chain of bodies had almost
reached the water. Suddenly the branch broke under the
unaccustomed weight; and all the monkeys were drowned.

10.--En naki shujo wa doshi gatashi.
To save folk having no karma-relation would be difficult indeed!*

*No karma-relation would mean an utter absence of merit as well
as of demerit.

11.--Fujo seppo suru hoshi wa, biratake ni umaru.
The priest who preaches foul doctrine shall be reborn as a

12.--Gaki mo ninzu.
Even gaki (pretas) can make a crowd.*

*Literally: "Even gaki are a multitude (or, 'population')." This
is a popular saying used in a variety of ways. The ordinary
meaning is to the effect that no matter how poor or miserable the
individuals composing a multitude, they collectively represent a
respectable force. Jocosely the saying is sometimes used of a
crowd of wretched or tired-looking people,--sometimes of an
assembly of weak boys desiring to make some demonstration,--
sometimes of a miserable-looking company of soldiers.--Among the
lowest classes of the people it is not uncommon to call a
deformed or greedy person a "gaki."

13.--Gaki no me ni midzu miezu.
To the eyes of gaki water is viewless.*

*Some authorities state that those pretas who suffer especially
from thirst, as a consequence of faults committed in former
lives, are unable to see water.--This proverb is used in speaking
of persons too stupid or vicious to perceive a moral truth.

14.--Gosho wa daiji.
The future life is the all-important thing.*

*The common people often use the curious expression "gosho-daiji"
as an equivalent for "extremely important."

15.--Gun-mo no tai-zo wo saguru ga gotoshi.
Like a lot of blind men feeling a great elephant.*

*Said of those who ignorantly criticise the doctrines of
Buddhism.--The proverb alludes to a celebrated fable in the
Avadanas, about a number of blind men who tried to decide the
form of an elephant by feeling the animal. One, feeling the leg,
declared the elephant to be like a tree; another, feeling the
trunk only, declared the elephant to be like a serpent; a third,
who felt only the side, said that the elephant was like a wall; a
fourth, grasping the tail, said that the elephant was like a
rope, etc.

16.--Gwai-men nyo-Bosatsu; nai shin nyo-Yasha.
In outward aspect a Bodhisattva; at innermost heart a demon.*

*Yasha (Sanscrit Yaksha), a man-devouring demon.

17.--Hana wa ne ni kaeru.
The flower goes back to its root.

*This proverb is most often used in reference to death,--
signifying that all forms go back into the nothingness out of
which they spring. But it may also be used in relation to the law
of cause-and-effect.

18.--Hibiki no koe ni ozuru ga gotoshi.
Even as the echo answers to the voice.*

*Referring to the doctrine of cause-and-effect. The philosophical
beauty of the comparison will be appreciated only if we bear in
mind that even the tone of the echo repeats the tone of the

19.--Hito wo tasukéru ga sbukhé no yuku.
The task of the priest is to save mankind.

20.--Hi wa kiyuredomo to-shin wa kiyedzu.
Though the flame be put out, the wick remains.*

*Although the passions may be temporarily overcome, their sources
remain. A proverb of like meaning is, Bonno no inn o?4omo sara u:
"Though driven away, the Dog of Lust cannot be kept from coming
back again."

21.--Hotoke mo motowa bonbu.
Even the Buddha was originally but a common man.

22.--Hotoke ni naru mo shami wo beru.
Even to become a Buddha one must first become a novice.

23.--Hotoke no kao mo sando.
Even a Buddha's face,--only three times.*

*This is a short popular form of the longer proverb, Hotoke no
kao mo sando nazureba, hara wo tatsu: "Stroke even the face of a
Buddha three times, and his anger will be roused."

24.--Hotoke tanonde Jigoku e yuku.
Praying to Buddha one goes to hell.*

*The popular saying, Oni no Nembutsu,--"a devil's praying,"--has
a similar meaning.

25.--Hotoke tsukutte tamashii iredzu.
Making a Buddha without putting in the soul.*

*That is to say, making an image of the Buddha without giving it
a soul. This proverb is used in reference to the conduct of those
who undertake to do some work, and leave the most essential part
of the work unfinished. It contains an allusion to the curious
ceremony called Kai-gen, or "Eye-Opening." This Kai-gen is a kind
of consecration, by virtue of which a newly-made image is
supposed to become animated by the real presence of the divinity

26. Ichi-ju no kage, ichi-ga no nagare, tasho no en.
Even [the experience of] a single shadow or a single flowing of
water, is [made by] the karma-relations of a former life.*

*Even so trifling an occurrence as that of resting with another
person under the shadow of a tree, or drinking from the same
spring with another person, is caused by the karma-relations of
some previous existence.

27. Ichi-mo shu-mo wo hiku.
One blind man leads many blind men.*

*From the Buddhist work Dai-chi-do-ron.--The reader will find a
similar proverb in Rhys-David's "Buddhist Suttas" (Sacred Books
of the East), p. 173,--together with a very curious parable,
cited in a footnote, which an Indian commentator gives in

28.--Ingwa na ko.
A karma-child.*

*A common saying among the lower classes in reference to an
unfortunate or crippled child. Here the word ingwa is used
especially in the retributive sense. It usually signifies evil
karma; kwaho being the term used in speaking of meritorious karma
and its results. While an unfortunate child is spoken of as "a
child of ingwa," a very lucky person is called a "kwaho-mono,"--
that is to say, an instance, or example of kwaho.

29.--Ingwa wa, kuruma no wa.
Cause-and-effect is like a wheel.*

*The comparison of karma to the wheel of a wagon will be familiar
to students of Buddhism. The meaning of this proverb is identical
with that of the Dhammapada verse:--"If a man speaks or acts
with an evil thought, pain follows him as the wheel follows the
foot of the ox that draws the carriage."

30.--Innen ga fukai.
The karma-relation is deep.*

*A saying very commonly used in speaking of the attachment of
lovers, or of the unfortunate results of any close relation
between two persons.

31.--Inochi wa fu-zen no tomoshibi.
Life is a lamp-flame before a wind.*

*Or, "like the flame of a lamp exposed to the wind." A frequent
expression in Buddhist literature is "the Wind of Death."

32.--Issun no mushi ni mo, gobu no tamashii.
Even a worm an inch long has a soul half-an-inch long.*

*Literally, "has a soul of five bu,"--five bu being equal to half
of the Japanese inch. Buddhism forbids all taking of life, and
classes as living things (Ujo) all forms having sentiency. The
proverb, however,--as the use of the word "soul" (tamashii)
implies,--reflects popular belief rather than Buddhist
philosophy. It signifies that any life, however small or mean, is
entitled to mercy.

33.--Iwashi* no atama mo shinjin kara.
Even the head of an iwashi, by virtue of faith, [will have power
to save, or heal].

*The iwashi is a very small fish, much resembling a sardine. The
proverb implies that the object of worship signifies little, so
long as the prayer is made with perfect faith and pure intention.

The fruit of ones own deeds [in a previous state of existence].

*Few popular Buddhist phrases are more often used than this. Jigo
signifies ones own acts or thoughts; jitoku, to bring upon
oneself,--nearly always in the sense of misfortune, when the word
is used in the Buddhist way. "Well, it is a matter of Jigo-
jitoku," people will observe on seeing a man being taken to
prison; meaning, "He is reaping the consequence of his own

35.--Jigoku de hotoke.
Like meeting with a Buddha in hell.*

*Refers to the joy of meeting a good friend in time of
misfortune. The above is an abbreviation. The full proverb is,
Jigoku de hotoke ni ota yo da.

36.--Jigoku Gokuraku wa kokoro ni ari.
Hell and Heaven are in the hearts of men.*

*A proverb in perfect accord with the higher Buddhism.

37.--Jigoku mo sumika.
Even Hell itself is a dwelling-place.*

*Meaning that even those obliged to live in hell must learn to
accommodate themselves to the situation. One should always try to
make the best of circumstances. A proverb of kindred
signification is, Sumeba, My'ako: "Wheresoever ones home is, that
is the Capital [or, imperial City]."

38.--Jigoku ni mo shirts bito.
Even in hell old acquaintances are welcome.

39.--Kagé no katachi ni shitagau gotoshi.
Even as the shadow follows the shape.*

*Referring to the doctrine of cause-and-effect. Compare with
verse 2 of the Dhammapada.

40.--Kane wa Amida yori bikaru.
Money shines even more brightly than Amida.*

*Amitabha, the Buddha of Immeasurable Light. His image in the
temples is usually gilded from head to foot.--There are many
other ironical proverbs about the power of wealth,--such as
Jigoku no sata mo kane shidai: "Even the Judgments of Hell may be
influenced by money."

41.--Karu-toki no Jizo-gao; nasu-toki no Emma-gao.
Borrowing-time, the face of Jizö; repaying-time, the face of
Emma.* [Figs. 2 & 3]

*Emma is the Chinese and Japanese Yama,--in Buddhism the Lord of
Hell, and the Judge of the Dead. The proverb is best explained by
the accompanying drawings, which will serve to give an idea of
the commoner representations of both divinities.

42.--Kiite Gokuraku, mite Jigoku.
Heard of only, it is Paradise; seen, it is Hell.*

*Rumor is never trustworthy.

43.--Koji mon wo idezu: akuji sen ni wo hashiru.
Good actions go not outside of the gate: bad deeds travel a
thousand ri.

44.--Kokoro no koma ni tadzuna wo yuru-suna.
Never let go the reins of the wild colt of the heart.

45.--Kokoro no oni ga mi wo semeru.
The body is tortured only by the demon of the heart.*

*Or "mind." That is to say that we suffer only from the
consequences of our own faults.--The demon-torturer in the
Buddhist hell says to his victim:--"Blame not me!--I am only the
creation of your own deeds and thoughts: you made me for this!"--
Compare with No. 36.

46.--Kokoro no shi to wa nare; kokoro wo shi to sezare.
Be the teacher of your heart: do not allow your heart to become
your teacher.

47.--Kono yo wa kari no yado.
This world is only a resting-place.*

*"This world is but a travellers' inn," would be an almost
equally correct translation. Yado literally means a lodging,
shelter, inn; and the word is applied often to those wayside
resting-houses at which Japanese travellers halt during a
journey. Kari signifies temporary, transient, fleeting,--as in
the common Buddhist saying, Kono yo kari no yo: "This world is a
fleeting world." Even Heaven and Hell represent to the Buddhist
only halting places upon the journey to Nirvana.

48.--Kori wo chiribame; midzu ni égaku.
To inlay ice; to paint upon water.*

*Refers to the vanity of selfish effort for some merely temporary

49.--Korokoro to
Naku wa yamada no
Chichi niteya aran,
Haha niteya aran.

The bird that cries korokoro in the mountain rice-field I know to
be a hototogisu;--yet it may have been my father; it may have
been my mother.*

*This verse-proverb is cited in the Buddhist work Wojo Yosbu,
with the following comment:--"Who knows whether the animal in the
field, or the bird in the mountain-wood, has not been either his
father or his mother in some former state of existence?"--The
hototogisu is a kind of cuckoo.

50.--Ko wa Sangai no kubikase.
A child is a neck-shackle for the Three States of Existence.*

*That is to say, The love of parents for their child may impede
their spiritual progress--not only in this world, but through all
their future states of being,--just as a kubikasi, or Japanese
cangue, impedes the movements of the person upon whom it is
placed. Parental affection, being the strongest of earthly
attachments, is particularly apt to cause those whom it enslaves
to commit wrongful acts in the hope of benefiting their
offspring.--The term Sangai here signifies the three worlds of
Desire, Form, and Formlessness,--all the states of existence
below Nirvana. But the word is sometimes used to signify the
Past, the Present, and the Future.

51.--Kuchi wa wazawai no kado.
The mouth is the front-gate of all misfortune.*

*That is to say, The chief cause of trouble is unguarded speech.
The word Kado means always the main entrance to a residence.

52.--Kwaho wa, nete mate.
If you wish for good luck, sleep and wait.*

*Kwaho, a purely Buddhist term, signifying good fortune as the
result of good actions in a previous life, has come to mean in
common parlance good fortune of any kind. The proverb is often
used in a sense similar to that of the English saying: "Watched
pot never boils." In a strictly Buddhist sense it would mean, "Do
not be too eager for the reward of good deeds."

53.--Makanu tane wa haenu.
Nothing will grow, if the seed be not sown.*

*Do not expect harvest, unless you sow the seed. Without earnest
effort no merit can be gained.

54.--Mateba, kanro no hiyori.
If you wait, ambrosial weather will come.*

*Kanro, the sweet dew of Heaven, or amrita. All good things come
to him who waits.

55.--Meido no michi ni O wa nashi.
There is no King on the Road of Death.*

*Literally, "on the Road of Meido." The MeldS is the Japanese
Hades,--the dark under-world to which all the dead must journey.

56.--Mekura hebi ni ojizu.
The blind man does not fear the snake.*

*The ignorant and the vicious, not understanding the law of
cause-and-effect, do not fear the certain results of their folly.

57.--Mitsureba, hakuru.
Having waxed, wanes.*

*No sooner has the moon waxed full than it begins to wane. So the
height of prosperity is also the beginning of fortunes decline.

58.--Mon zen no kozo narawanu kyo wo yomu.
The shop-boy in front of the temple-gate repeats the sutra which
he never learned.

*Kozo means "acolyte" as well as "shop-boy,""errand-boy," or
"apprentice;" but in this case it refers to a boy employed in a
shop situated near or before the gate of a Buddhist temple. By
constantly hearing the sutra chanted in the temple, the boy
learns to repeat the words. A proverb of kindred meaning is,
Kangaku-In no suzume wa, Mogyu wo sayezuru: "The sparrows of
Kangaku-In [an ancient seat of learning] chirp the Mogyu,"--a
Chinese text formerly taught to young students. The teaching of
either proverb is excellently expressed by a third:--Narau yori
wa narero: "Rather than study [an art], get accustomed to it,"--
that is to say, "keep constantly in contact with it." Observation
and practice are even better than study.

59.--Mujo no kaze wa, toki erabazu.
The Wind of Impermanency does not choose a time.*

*Death and Change do not conform their ways to human expectation.

60.--Neko mo Bussho ari.
In even a cat the Buddha-nature exists.*

*Notwithstanding the legend that only the cat and the mamushi (a
poisonous viper) failed to weep for the death of the Buddha.

61.--Neta ma ga Gokuraku.
The interval of sleep is Paradise.*

*Only during sleep can we sometimes cease to know the sorrow and
pain of this world. (Compare with No. 83.)

62.--Nijiu-go Bosatsu mo sore-sore no yaku.
Even each of the Twenty-five Bodhisattvas has his own particular
duty to perform.

63.--Nin mite, no toke.
[First] see the person, [then] preach the doctrine.*

*The teaching of Buddhist doctrine should always be adapted to
the intelligence of the person to be instructed. There is another
proverb of the same kind,--Ki ni yorite, ho wo toke: "According
to the understanding [of the person to be taught], preach the

64.--Ninshin ukegataku Buppo aigatashi.
It is not easy to be born among men, and to meet with [the good
fortune of hearing the doctrine of] Buddhism.*

*Popular Buddhism teaches that to be born in the world of
mankind, and especially among a people professing Buddhism, is a
very great privilege. However miserable human existence, it is at
least a state in which some knowledge of divine truth may be
obtained; whereas the beings in other and lower conditions of
life are relatively incapable of spiritual progress.

65.--Oni mo jiu-hachi.
Even a devil [is pretty] at eighteen.*

*There are many curious sayings and proverbs about the oni, or
Buddhist devil,--such as Oni no me ni mo namida, "tears in even a
devil's eyes;"--Oni no kakuran, "devil's cholera" (said of the
unexpected sickness of some very strong and healthy person),
etc., etc.--The class of demons called Oni, properly belong to
the Buddhist hells, where they act as torturers and jailers. They
are not to be confounded with the Ma, Yasha, Kijin, and other
classes of evil spirits. In Buddhist art they are represented as
beings of enormous strength, with the heads of bulls and of
horses. The bull-headed demons are called Go-zu; the horse-headed

66.--Oni mo mi, naretaru ga yoshi.
Even a devil, when you become accustomed to the sight of him, may
prove a pleasant acquaintance.

67.--Oni ni kanabo.
An iron club for a demon.*

*Meaning that great power should be given only to the strong.

68.--Oni no nyobo ni kijin.
A devil takes a goblin to wife.*

*Meaning that a wicked man usually marries a wicked

69.--Onna no ke ni wa dai-zo mo tsunagaru.
With one hair of a woman you can tether even a great elephant.

70.--Onna wa Sangai ni iye nashi.
Women have no homes of their own in the Three States of

71.--Oya no ingwa ga ko ni mukuu.
The karma of the parents is visited upon the child.*

*Said of the parents of crippled or deformed children. But the
popular idea here expressed is not altogether in acco~l with the
teachings of the higher Buddhism.

72.--Rakkwa eda ni kaerazu.
The fallen blossom never returns to the branch.*

*That which has been done never can be undone: the past cannot be
recalled.--This proverb is an abbreviation of the longer Buddhist
text: Rakkwa eda ni kaerazu; ha-kyo futatabi terasazu: "The
fallen blossom never returns to the branch; the shattered mirror
never again reflects."

73.--Raku wa ku no tane; ku wa raku no tane.
Pleasure is the seed of pain; pain is the seed of pleasure.

74.--Rokudo wa, me no mae.
The Six Roads are right before your eyes.*

*That is to say, Your future life depends upon your conduct in
this life; and you are thus free to choose for yourself the place
of your next birth.

75.--Sangai mu-an.
There is no rest within the Three States of Existence.

76.--Sangai ni kaki nashi;--Rokudo ni hotori nashi.
There is no fence to the Three States of Existence;--there is no
neighborhood to the Six Roads.*

*Within the Three States (Sangai), or universes, of Desire, Form,
and Formlessness; and within the Six Worlds, or conditions of
being,--Jigokudo (Hell), Gakido (Pretas), Chikushodo (Animal
Life), Shurado (World of Fighting and Slaughter), Ningendo
(Mankind), Tenjodo (Heavenly Spirits)--all existence is included.
Beyond there is only Nirvana. "There is no fence," "no
neighborhood,"--that is to say, no limit beyond which to escape,
--no middle-path between any two of these states. We shall be
reborn into some one of them according to our karma.--Compare
with No. 74.

77.--Sange ni wa sannen no tsumi mo horobu.
One confession effaces the sins of even three years.

78.--San nin yoreba, kugai.
Where even three persons come together, there is a world of

*Kugai (lit.: "bitter world") is a term often used to describe
the life of a prostitute.

79.--San nin yoreba, Monju no chie.
Where three persons come together, there is the wisdom of Monju.*

*Monju Bosatsu [Mandjus'ri Bodhisattva] figures in Japanese
Buddhism as a special divinity of wisdom.--The proverb signifies
that three heads are better than one. A saying of like meaning
is, Hiza to mo danko: "Consult even with your own knee;" that is
to say, Despise no advice, no matter how humble the source of it.

80.--Shaka ni sekkyo.
Preaching to Sakyamuni.

81.--Shami kara choro.
To become an abbot one must begin as a novice.

82.--Shindareba, koso ikitare.
Only by reason of having died does one enter into life.*

*I never hear this singular proverb without being re-minded of a
sentence in Huxley's famous essay, On the Physical Basis of
Life:--"The living protoplasm not only ultimately dies and is
resolved into its mineral and lifeless constituents, but is
always dying, and, strange as the paradox may sound, could not
live unless it died."

83.--Shiranu ga, hotoke; minu ga, Gokuraku.
Not to know is to be a Buddha; not to see is Paradise.

84.--Shobo ni kidoku nashi.
There is no miracle in true doctrine.*

*Nothing can happen except as a result of eternal and irrevocable

85.--Sho-chie wa Bodai no samatage.
A little wisdom is a stumbling-block on the way to Buddhahood.*

*Bodai is the same word as the Sanscrit Bodhi, signifying the
supreme enlightenment,--the knowledge that leads to Buddhahood;
but it is often used by Japanese Buddhists in the sense of divine
bliss, or the Buddha-state itself.

86.--Shoshi no kukai hetori nashi.
There is no shore to the bitter Sea of Birth and Death.*

*Or, "the Pain-Sea of Life and Death."

87.--Sode no furi-awase mo tasho no en.
Even the touching of sleeves in passing is caused by some
relation in a former life.

88.--Sun zen; shaku ma.
An inch of virtue; a foot of demon.*

*Ma (Sanscrit, Marakayikas) is the name given to a particular
class of spirits who tempt men to evil. But in Japanese folklore
the Ma have a part much resembling that occupied in Western
popular superstition by goblins and fairies.

89.--Tanoshimi wa hanasimi no motoi.
All joy is the source of sorrow.

90.--Tonde hi ni iru natsu no mushi.
So the insects of summer fly to the flame.*

*Said especially in reference to the result of sensual

91.--Tsuchi-botoke no midzu-asobi.
Clay-Buddha's water-playing.*

*That is to say, "As dangerous as for a clay Buddha to play with
water." Children often amuse themselves by making little Buddhist
images of mud, which melt into shapelessness, of course, if
placed in water.

92.--Tsuki ni murakumo, hana ni kaze.
Cloud-wrack to the moon; wind to flowers.*

*The beauty of the moon is obscured by masses of clouds; the
trees no sooner blossom than their flowers are scattered by the
wind. All beauty is evanescent.

93.--Tsuyu no inochi.
Human life is like the dew of morning.

94.--U-ki wa, kokoro ni ari.
Joy and sorrow exist only in the mind.

95.--Uri no tsuru ni nasubi wa naranu.
Egg-plants do not grow upon melon-vines.

96.--Uso mo hoben.
Even an untruth may serve as a device.*

*That is, a pious device for effecting conversion. Such a device
is justified especially by the famous parable of the third
chapter of the Saddharma Pundarika.

97.--Waga ya no hotoke tattoshi.
My family ancestors were all excellent Buddhas.*

*Meaning that one most reveres the hotoke--the spirits of the
dead regarded as Buddhas--in one's own household-shrine. There is
an ironical play upon the word hotoke, which may mean either a
dead person simply, or a Buddha. Perhaps the spirit of this
proverb may be better explained by the help of another: Nigeta
sakana ni chisai wa nai; shinda kodomo ni warui ko wa nai--"Fish
that escaped was never small; child that died was never bad."

98.--Yuki no hate wa, Nehan.
The end of snow is Nirvana.*

*This curious saying is the only one in my collection containing
the word Nehan (Nirvana), and is here inserted chiefly for that
reason. The common people seldom speak of Nehan, and have little
knowledge of those profound doctrines to which the term is
related. The above phrase, as might be inferred, is not a popular
expression: it is rather an artistic and poetical reference to
the aspect of a landscape covered with snow to the horizon-line,
--so that beyond the snow-circle there is only the great void of
the sky.

99.--Zen ni wa zen no mukui; aku ni wa aku no mukui.
Goodness [or, virtue] is the return for goodness; evil is the
return for evil.*

*Not so commonplace a proverb as might appear at first sight; for
it refers especially to the Buddhist belief that every kindness
shown to us in this life is a return of kindness done to others
in a former life, and that every wrong inflicted upon us is the
reflex of some injustice which we committed in a previous birth.

100.--Zense no yakusoku-goto.
Promised [or, destined] from a former birth.*

*A very common saying,--often uttered as a comment upon the
unhappiness of separation, upon sudden misfortune, upon sudden
death, etc. It is used especially in relation to shinju, or
lovers' suicide. Such suicide is popularly thought to be a result
of cruelty in some previous state of being, or the consequence of
having broken, in a former life, the mutual promise to become
husband and wife.


I had the privilege of meeting him in Tokyo, where he was making
a brief stay on his way to India;--and we took a long walk
together, and talked of Eastern religions, about which he knew
incomparably more than I. Whatever I could tell him concerning
local beliefs, he would comment upon in the most startling
manner,--citing weird correspondences in some living cult of
India, Burmah, or Ceylon. Then, all of a sudden, he turned the
conversation into a totally unexpected direction.

"I have been thinking," he said, "about the constancy of the
relative proportion of the sexes, and wondering whether Buddhist
doctrine furnishes an explanation. For it seems to me that, under
ordinary conditions of karma, human rebirth would necessarily
proceed by a regular alternation."

"Do you mean," I asked, "that a man would be reborn as a woman,
and a woman as a man?"

"Yes," he replied, "because desire is creative, and the desire of
either sex is towards the other."

"And how many men," I said, "would want to be reborn as women?"

"Probably very few," he answered. "But the doctrine that desire
is creative does not imply that the individual longing creates
its own satisfaction,--quite the contrary. The true teaching is
that the result of every selfish wish is in the nature of a
penalty, and that what the wish creates must prove--to higher
knowledge at least--the folly of wishing."

"There you are right," I said; "but I do not yet understand your

"Well," he continued, "if the physical conditions of human
rebirth are all determined by the karma of the will relating to
physical conditions, then sex would be determined by the will in
relation to sex. Now the will of either sex is towards the other.
Above all things else, excepting life, man desires woman, and
woman man. Each individual, moreover, independently of any
personal relation, feels perpetually, you say, the influence of
some inborn feminine or masculine ideal, which you call 'a
ghostly reflex of countless attachments in countless past lives.'
And the insatiable desire represented by this ideal would of
itself suffice to create the masculine or the feminine body of
the next existence."

"But most women," I observed, "would like to be reborn as men;
and the accomplishment of that wish would scarcely be in the
nature of a penalty."

"Why not?" he returned. "The happiness or unhappiness of the new
existence would not be decided by sex alone: it would of
necessity depend upon many conditions in combination."

"Your theory is interesting," I said;--"but I do not know how far
it could be made to accord with accepted doctrine.... And what of
the person able, through knowledge and practice of the higher
law, to remain superior to all weaknesses of sex?"

"Such a one," he replied, "would be reborn neither as man nor as
woman,--providing there were no pre-existent karma powerful
enough to check or to weaken the results of the self-conquest."

"Reborn in some one of the heavens?" I queried,--"by the
Apparitional Birth?"

"Not necessarily," he said. "Such a one might be reborn in a
world of desire,--like this,--but neither as man only, nor as
woman only."

"Reborn, then, in what form?" I asked.

"In that of a perfect being," he responded. "A man or a woman is
scarcely more than half-a-being,--because in our present
imperfect state either sex can be evolved only at the cost of the
other. In the mental and the physical composition of every man,
there is undeveloped woman; and in the composition of every woman
there is undeveloped man. But a being complete would be both
perfect man and perfect woman, possessing the highest faculties
of both sexes, with the weaknesses of neither. Some humanity
higher than our own,--in other worlds,--might be thus evolved."

"But you know," I observed, "that there are Buddhist texts,--in
the Saddharma Pundarika, for example, and in the Vinayas,--which

"Those texts," he interrupted, "refer to imperfect beings--less
than man and less than woman: they could not refer to the
condition that I have been supposing.... But, remember, I am not
preaching a doctrine;--I am only hazarding a theory."

"May I put your theory some day into print?" I asked.

"Why, yes," he made answer,--"if you believe it worth thinking

And long afterwards I wrote it down thus, as fairly as I was
able, from memory.


The daimyo's wife was dying, and knew that she was dying. She had
not been able to leave her bed since the early autumn of the
tenth Bunsei. It was now the fourth month of the twelfth Bunsei,
--the year 1829 by Western counting; and the cherry-trees were
blossoming. She thought of the cherry-trees in her garden, and of
the gladness of spring. She thought of her children. She thought
of her husband's various concubines,--especially the Lady Yukiko,
nineteen years old.

"My dear wife," said the daimyo, "you have suffered very much for
three long years. We have done all that we could to get you
well,--watching beside you night and day, praying for you, and
often fasting for your sake, But in spite of our loving care, and
in spite of the skill of our best physicians, it would now seen
that the end of your life is not far off. Probably we shall
sorrow more than you will sorrow because of your having to leave
what the Buddha so truly termed 'this burning-house of the world.
I shall order to be performed--no matter what the cost--every
religious rite that can serve you in regard to your next rebirth;
and all of us will pray without ceasing for you, that you may not
have to wander in the Black Space, but nay quickly enter
Paradise, and attain to Buddha-hood."

He spoke with the utmost tenderness, pressing her the while.
Then, with eyelids closed, she answered him in a voice thin as
the voice of in insect:--

"I am grateful--most grateful--for your kind words.... Yes, it is
true, as you say, that I have been sick for three long years, and
that I have been treated with all possible care and affection....
Why, indeed, should I turn away from the one true Path at the
very moment of my death?... Perhaps to think of worldly matters
at such a time is not right;--but I have one last request to
make,--only one.... Call here to me the Lady Yukiko;--you know
that I love her like a sister. I want to speak to her about the
affairs of this household."

Yukiko came at the summons of the lord, and, in obedience to a
sign from him, knelt down beside the couch. The daimyo's wife
opened her eyes, and looked at Yukiko, and spoke:--"Ah, here is
Yukiko!... I am so pleased to see you, Yukiko!... Come a little
closer,--so that you can hear me well: I am not able to speak
loud.... Yukiko, I am going to die. I hope that you will be
faithful in all things to our dear lord;--for I want you to take
my place when I am gone.... I hope that you will always be loved
by him,--yes, even a hundred times more than I have been,--and
that you will very soon be promoted to a higher rank, and become
his honored wife.... And I beg of you always to cherish our dear
lord: never allow another woman to rob you of his affection....
This is what I wanted to say to you, dear Yukiko.... Have you
been able to understand?"

"Oh, my dear Lady," protested Yukiko, "do not, I entreat you, say
such strange things to me! You well know that I am of poor and
mean condition:--how could I ever dare to aspire to become the
wife of our lord!"

"Nay, nay!" returned the wife, huskily,--"this is not a time for
words of ceremony: let us speak only the truth to each other.
After my death, you will certainly be promoted to a higher place;
and I now assure you again that I wish you to become the wife of
our lord--yes, I wish this, Yukiko, even more than I wish to
become a Buddha!... Ah, I had almost forgotten!--I want you to do
something for me, Yukiko. You know that in the garden there is a
yae-zakura,(2) which was brought here, the year before last, from
Mount Yoshino in Yamato. I have been told that it is now in full
bloom;--and I wanted so much to see it in flower! In a little
while I shall be dead;--I must see that tree before I die. Now I
wish you to carry me into the garden--at once, Yukiko,--so that I
can see it.... Yes, upon your back, Yukiko;--take me upon your

While thus asking, her voice had gradually become clear and
strong,--as if the intensity of the wish had given her new force:
then she suddenly burst into tears. Yukiko knelt motionless, not
knowing what to do; but the lord nodded assent.

"It is her last wish in this world," he said. "She always loved
cherry-flowers; and I know that she wanted very much to see that
Yamato-tree in blossom. Come, my dear Yukiko, let her have her

As a nurse turns her back to a child, that the child may cling to
it, Yukiko offered her shoulders to the wife, and said:--

"Lady, I am ready: please tell me how I best can help you."

"Why, this way!"--responded the dying woman, lifting herself with
an almost superhuman effort by clinging to Yukiko's shoulders.
But as she stood erect, she quickly slipped her thin hands down
over the shoulders, under the robe, and clutched the breasts of
the girl,, and burst into a wicked laugh.

"I have my wish!" she cried-"I have my wish for the cherry-
bloom,(3)--but not the cherry-bloom of the garden!... I could not
die before I got my wish. Now I have it!--oh, what a delight!"

And with these words she fell forward upon the crouching girl,
and died.

The attendants at once attempted to lift the body from Yukiko's
shoulders, and to lay it upon the bed. But--strange to say!--this
seemingly easy thing could not be done. The cold hands had
attached themselves in some unaccountable way to the breasts of
the girl,--appeared to have grown into the quick flesh. Yukiko
became senseless with fear and pain.

Physicians were called. They could not understand what had taken
place. By no ordinary methods could the hands of the dead woman
be unfastened from the body of her victim;--they so clung that
any effort to remove them brought blood. This was not because the
fingers held: it was because the flesh of the palms had united
itself in some inexplicable manner to the flesh of the breasts!

At that time the most skilful physician in Yedo was a foreigner,
--a Dutch surgeon. It was decided to summon him. After a careful
examination he said that he could not understand the case, and
that for the immediate relief of Yukiko there was nothing to be
done except to cut the hands from the corpse. He declared that it
would be dangerous to attempt to detach them from the breasts.
His advice was accepted; and the hands' were amputated at the
wrists. But they remained clinging to the breasts; and there they
soon darkened and dried up,--like the hands of a person long

Yet this was only the beginning of the horror.

Withered and bloodless though they seemed, those hands were not
dead. At intervals they would stir--stealthily, like great grey
spiders. And nightly thereafter,--beginning always at the Hour of
the Ox,(4)--they would clutch and compress and torture. Only at
the Hour of the Tiger the pain would cease.

Yukiko cut off her hair, and became a mendicant-nun,--taking the
religious name of Dassetsu. She had an ibai (mortuary tablet)
made, bearing the kaimyo of her dead mistress,--"Myo-Ko-In-Den
Chizan-Ryo-Fu Daishi";--and this she carried about with her in
all her wanderings; and every day before it she humbly besought
the dead for pardon, and performed a Buddhist service in order
that the jealous spirit might find rest. But the evil karma that
had rendered such an affliction possible could not soon be
exhausted. Every night at the Hour of the Ox, the hands never
failed to torture her, during more than seventeen years,--
according to the testimony of those persons to whom she last told
her story, when she stopped for one evening at the house of
Noguchi Dengozayemon, in the village of Tanaka in the district of
Kawachi in the province of Shimotsuke. This was in the third year
of Kokwa (1846). Thereafter nothing more was ever heard of her.

1 Lit., "a tale of ingwa." Ingwa is a Japanese Buddhist term for
evil karma, or the evil consequence of faults committed in a
former state of existence. Perhaps the curious title of the
narrative is best explained by the Buddhist teaching that the
dead have power to injure the living only in consequence of evil
actions committed by their victims in some former life. Both
title and narrative may be found in the collection of weird
stories entitled Hyaku-Monogatari.

2 Yae-zakura, yaë-no-sakura, a variety of Japanese cherry-tree
that bears double-blossoms.

3 In Japanese poetry and proverbial phraseology, the physical
beauty of a woman is compared to the cherry-flower; while
feminine moral beauty is compared to the plum-flower.

4 In ancient Japanese time, the Hour of the Ox was the special
hour of ghosts. It began at 2 A.M., and lasted until 4 A.M.--for
the old Japanese hour was double the length of the modern hour.
The Hour of the Tiger began at 4 A.M.

Story of a Tengu (1)

In the days of the Emperor Go-Reizei, there was a holy priest
living in the temple of Saito, on the mountain called Hiyei-Zan,
near Kyoto. One summer day this good priest, after a visit to the
city, was returning to his temple by way of Kita-no-Oji, when he
saw some boys ill-treating a kite. They had caught the bird in a
snare, and were beating it with sticks. "Oh, the, poor creature!"
compassionately exclaimed the priest;--"why do you torment it so,
children?" One of the boys made answer:--"We want to kill it to
get the feathers." Moved by pity, the priest persuaded the boys
to let him have the kite in exchange for a fan that he was
carrying; and he set the bird free. It had not been seriously
hurt, and was able to fly away.

Happy at having performed this Buddhist act of merit, the priest
then resumed his walk. He had not proceeded very far when he saw
a strange monk come out of a bamboo-grove by the road-side, and
hasten towards him. The monk respectfully saluted him, and said:
--"Sir, through your compassionate kindness my life has been
saved; and I now desire to express my gratitude in a fitting
manner." Astonished at hearing himself thus addressed, the priest
replied:--"Really, I cannot remember to have ever seen you
before: please tell me who you are." "It is not wonderful that
you cannot recognize me in this form," returned the monk: "I am
the kite that those cruel boys were tormenting at Kita-no-Oji.
You saved my life; and there is nothing in this world more
precious than life. So I now wish to return your kindness in some
way or other. If there be anything that you would like to have,
or to know, or to see,--anything that I can do for you, in
short,--please to tell me; for as I happen to possess, in a small
degree, the Six Supernatural Powers, I am able to gratify almost
any wish that you can express." On hearing these words, the
priest knew that he was speaking with a Tengu; and he frankly
made answer:--"My friend, I have long ceased to care for the
things of this world: I am now seventy years of age; neither fame
nor pleasure has any attraction for me. I feel anxious only about
my future birth; but as that is a matter in which no one can help
me, it were useless to ask about it. Really, I can think of but
one thing worth wishing for. It has been my life-long regret that
I was not in India in the time of the Lord Buddha, and could not
attend the great assembly on the holy mountain Gridhrakuta. Never
a day passes in which this regret does not come to me, in the
hour of morning or of evening prayer. Ah, my friend! if it were
possible to conquer Time and Space, like the Bodhisattvas, so
that I could look upon that marvellous assembly, how happy should
I be!"

"Why," the Tengu exclaimed, "that pious wish of yours can easily
be satisfied. I perfectly well remember the assembly on the
Vulture Peak; and I can cause everything that happened there to
reappear before you, exactly as it occurred. It is our greatest
delight to represent such holy matters.... Come this way with

And the priest suffered himself to be led to a place among pines,
on the slope of a hill. "Now," said the Tengu, "you have only to
wait here for awhile, with your eyes shut. Do not open them
until you hear the voice of the Buddha preaching the Law. Then
you can look. But when you see the appearance of the Buddha, you
must not allow your devout feelings to influence you in any way;
--you must not bow down, nor pray, nor utter any such exclamation
as, 'Even so, Lord!' or 'O thou Blessed One!' You must not speak
at all. Should you make even the least sign of reverence,
something very unfortunate might happen to me." The priest gladly
promised to follow these injunctions; and the Tengu hurried away
as if to prepare the spectacle.

The day waned and passed, and the darkness came; but the old
priest waited patiently beneath a tree, keeping his eyes closed.
At last a voice suddenly resounded above him,--a wonderful voice,
deep and clear like the pealing of a mighty bell,--the voice of
the Buddha Sakyamuni proclaiming the Perfect Way. Then the
priest, opening his eyes in a great radiance, perceived that all
things had been changed: the place was indeed the Vulture Peak,--
the holy Indian mountain Gridhrakuta; and the time was the time
of the Sutra of the Lotos of the Good Law. Now there were no
pines about him, but strange shining trees made of the Seven
Precious Substances, with foliage and fruit of gems;--and the
ground was covered with Mandarava and Manjushaka flowers showered
from heaven;--and the night was filled with fragrance and
splendour and the sweetness of the great Voice. And in mid-air,
shining as a moon above the world, the priest beheld the Blessed
One seated upon the Lion-throne, with Samantabhadra at his right
hand, and Manjusri at his left,--and before them assembled--
immeasurably spreading into Space, like a flood Of stars--the
hosts of the Mahasattvas and the Bodhisattvas with their
countless following: "gods, demons, Nagas, goblins, men, and
beings not human." Sariputra he saw, and Kasyapa, and Ananda,
with all the disciples of the Tathagata,--and the Kings of the
Devas,--and the Kings of the Four Directions, like pillars of
fire,--and the great Dragon-Kings,--and the Gandharvas and
Garudas,--and the Gods of the Sun and the Moon and the Wind,--and
the shining myriads of Brahma's heaven. And incomparably further
than even the measureless circling of the glory of these, he saw
--made visible by a single ray of light that shot from the
forehead of the Blessed One to pierce beyond uttermost Time--the
eighteen hundred thousand Buddha-fields of the Eastern Quarter
with all their habitants,--and the beings in each of the Six
States of Existence,--and even the shapes of the Buddhas extinct,
that had entered into Nirvana. These, and all the gods, and all
the demons, he saw bow down before the Lion-throne; and he heard
that multitude incalculable of beings praising the Sutra of the
Lotos of the Good Law,--like the roar of a sea before the Lord.
Then forgetting utterly his pledge,--foolishly dreaming that he
stood in the very presence of the very Buddha,--he cast himself
down in worship with tears of love and thanksgiving; crying out
with a loud voice, "O thou Blessed One!"...

Instantly with a shock as of earthquake the stupendous spectacle
disappeared; and the priest found himself alone in the dark,
kneeling upon the grass of the mountain-side. Then a sadness
unspeakable fell upon him, because of the loss of the vision, and
because of the thoughtlessness that had caused him to break his
word. As he sorrowfully turned his steps homeward, the goblin-
monk once more appeared before him, and said to him in tones of
reproach and pain:--"Because you did not keep the promise which
you made to me, and heedlessly allowed your feelings to overcome
you, the Gohotendó, who is the Guardian of the Doctrine, swooped
down suddenly from heaven upon us, and smote us in great anger,
crying out, 'How do ye dare thus to deceive a pious person?' Then
the other monks, whom I had assembled, all fled in fear. As for
myself, one of my wings has been broken,--so that now I cannot
fly." And with these words the Tengu vanished forever.

1 This story may be found in the curious old Japanese book called
Jikkun-Sho. The same legend has furnished the subject of an
interesting No-play, called Dai-E ("The Great Assembly").

In Japanese popular art, the Tengu are commonly represented
either as winged men with beak-shaped noses, or as birds of prey.
There are different kinds of Tengu; but all are supposed to be
mountain-haunting spirits, capable of assuming many forms, and
occasionally appearing as crows, vultures, or eagles. Buddhism
appears to class the Tengu among the Marakayikas.

At Yaidzu


Under a bright sun the old fishing-town of Yaidzu has a
particular charm of neutral color. Lizard-like it takes the grey
tints of the rude grey coast on which it rests,--curving along a
little bay. It is sheltered from heavy seas by an extraordinary
rampart of boulders. This rampart, on the water-side, is built in
the form of terrace-steps;--the rounded stones of which it is
composed being kept in position by a sort of basket-work woven
between rows of stakes driven deeply into the ground,--a separate
row of stakes sustaining each of the grades. Looking landward
from the top of the structure, your gaze ranges over the whole
town,--a broad space of grey-tiled roofs and weather-worn grey
timbers, with here and there a pine-grove marking the place of a
temple-court. Seaward, over leagues of water, there is a grand
view,--a jagged blue range of peaks crowding sharply into the
horizon, like prodigious amethysts,--and beyond them, to the
left, the glorious spectre of Fuji, towering enormously above
everything. Between sea-wall and sea there is no sand,--only a
grey slope of stones, chiefly boulders; and these roll with the
surf so that it is ugly work trying to pass the breakers on a
rough day. If you once get struck by a stone-wave,--as I did
several times,--you will not soon forget the experience.

At certain hours the greater part of this rough slope is occupied
by ranks of strange-looking craft,--fishing-boats of a form
peculiar to the locality. They are very large,--capable of
carrying forty or fifty men each;--and they have queer high
prows, to which Buddhist or Shinto charms (mamori or shugo) are
usually attached. A common form of Shinto written charm (shugo)
is furnished for this purpose from the temple of the Goddess of
Fuji: the text reads:--Fuji-san chojo Sengen-gu dai-gyo manzoku,
--meaning that the owner of the boat pledges himself, in case of
good-fortune at fishing, to perform great austerities in honor of
the divinity whose shrine is upon the summit of Fuji.

In every coast-province of Japan,--and even at different fishing-
settlements of the same province,--the forms of boats and
fishing-implements are peculiar to the district or settlement.
Indeed it will sometimes be found that settlements, within a few
miles of each other, respectively manufacture nets or boats as
dissimilar in type as might be the inventions of races living
thousands of miles apart. This amazing variety may be in some
degree due to respect for local tradition,--to the pious
conservatism that preserves ancestral teaching and custom
unchanged through hundreds of years: but it is better explained
by the fact that different communities practise different kinds
of fishing; and the shapes of the nets or the boats made, at any
one place, are likely to prove, on investigation, the inventions
of a special experience. The big Yaidzu boats illustrate this
fact. They were devised according to the particular requirements
of the Yaidzu-fishing-industry, which supplies dried katsuo
(bonito) to all parts of the Empire; and it was necessary that
they should be able to ride a very rough sea. To get them in or
out of the water is a heavy job; but the whole village helps. A
kind of slipway is improvised in a moment by laying flat wooden
frames on the slope in a line; and over these frames the flat-
bottomed vessels are hauled up or down by means of long ropes.
You will see a hundred or more persons thus engaged in moving a
single boat,--men, women, and children pulling together, in time
to a curious melancholy chant. At the coming of a typhoon, the
boats are moved far back into the streets. There is plenty of fun
in helping at such work; and if you are a stranger, the fisher-
folk will perhaps reward your pains by showing you the wonders of
their sea: crabs with legs of astonishing length, balloon-fish
that blow themselves up in the most absurd manner, and various
other creatures of shapes so extraordinary that you can scarcely
believe them natural without touching them.

The big boats with holy texts at their prows are not the
strangest objects on the beach. Even more remarkable are the
bait-baskets of split bamboo,--baskets six feet high and eighteen
feet round, with one small hole in the dome-shaped top. Ranged
along the sea-wall to dry, they might at some distance be
mistaken for habitations or huts of some sort. Then you see great
wooden anchors, shaped like ploughshares, and shod with metal;
iron anchors, with four flukes; prodigious wooden mallets, used
for driving stakes; and various other implements, still more
unfamiliar, of which you cannot even imagine the purpose. The
indescribable antique queerness of everything gives you that
weird sensation of remoteness,--of the far away in time and
place,--which makes one doubt the reality of the visible. And the
life of Yaidzu is certainly the life of many centuries ago. The
people, too, are the people of Old Japan: frank and kindly as
children--good children,--honest to a fault, innocent of the
further world, loyal to the ancient traditions and the ancient


I happened to be at Yaidzu during the three days of the Bon or
Festival of the Dead; and I hoped to see the beautiful farewell
ceremony of the third and last day. In many parts of Japan, the
ghosts are furnished with miniature ships for their voyage,--
little models of junks or fishing-craft, each containing
offerings of food and water and kindled incense; also a tiny
lantern or lamp, if the ghost-ship be despatched at night. But at
Yaidzu lanterns only are set afloat; and I was told that they
would be launched after dark. Midnight being the customary hour
elsewhere, I supposed that it was the hour of farewell at Yaidzu
also, and I rashly indulged in a nap after supper, expecting to
wake up in time for the spectacle. But by ten o'clock, when I
went to the beach again, all was over, and everybody had gone
home. Over the water I saw something like a long swarm of fire-
flies,--the lanterns drifting out to sea in procession; but they
were already too far to be distinguished except as points of
colored light. I was much disappointed: I felt that I had lazily
missed an opportunity which might never again return,--for these
old Bon-customs are dying rapidly. But in another moment it
occurred to me that I could very well venture to swim out to the
lights. They were moving slowly. I dropped my robe on the beach,
and plunged in. The sea was calm, and beautifully phosphorescent.
Every stroke kindled a stream of yellow fire. I swam fast, and
overtook the last of the lantern-fleet much sooner than I had
hoped. I felt that it would be unkind to interfere with the
little embarcations, or to divert them from their silent course:
so I contented myself with keeping close to one of them, and
studying its details.

The structure was very simple. The bottom was a piece of thick
plank, perfectly square, and measuring about ten inches across.
Each one of its corners supported a slender slick about sixteen
inches high; and these four uprights, united above by cross-
pieces, sustained the paper sides. Upon the point of a long nail,
driven up through the centre of the bottom, was fixed a lighted
candle. The top was left open. The four sides presented five
different colors,--blue, yellow, red, white, and black; these
five colors respectively symbolizing Ether, Wind, Fire, Water,
and Earth,--the five Buddhist elements which are metaphysically
identified with the Five Buddhas. One of the paper-panes was red,
one blue, one yellow; and the right half of the fourth pane was
black, while the left half, uncolored, represented white. No
kaimyo was written upon any of the transparencies. Inside the
lantern there was only the flickering candle.

I watched those frail glowing shapes drifting through the night,
and ever as they drifted scattering, under impulse of wind and
wave, more and more widely apart. Each, with its quiver of color,
seemed a life afraid,--trembling on the blind current that was
bearing it into the outer blackness.... Are not we ourselves as
lanterns launched upon a deeper and a dimmer sea, and ever
separating further and further one from another as we drift to
the inevitable dissolution? Soon the thought-light in each burns
itself out: then the poor frames, and all that is left of their
once fair colors, must melt forever into the colorless Void.

Even in the moment of this musing I began to doubt whether I was
really alone,--to ask myself whether there might not be something
more than a mere shuddering of light in the thing that rocked
beside me: some presence that haunted the dying flame, and was
watching the watcher. A faint cold thrill passed over me,--
perhaps some chill uprising from the depths,--perhaps the
creeping only of a ghostly fancy. Old superstitions of the coast
recurred to me,--old vague warnings of peril in the time of the
passage of Souls. I reflected that were any evil to befall me out
there in the night,--meddling, or seeming to meddle, with the
lights of the Dead,--I should myself furnish the subject of some
future weird legend.... I whispered the Buddhist formula of
farewell--to the lights,--and made speed for shore.

As I touched the stones again, I was startled by seeing two white
shadows before me; but a kindly voice, asking if the water was
cold, set me at ease. It was the voice of my old landlord,
Otokichi the fishseller, who had come to look for me, accompanied
by his wife.

"Only pleasantly cool," I made answer, as I threw on my robe to
go home with them.

"Ah," said the wife, "it is not good to go out there on the night
of the Bon!"

"I did not go far," I replied;--"I only wanted to look at the

"Even a Kappa gets drowned sometimes,"(1) protested Otokichi.
"There was a man of this village who swam home a distance of
seven ri, in bad weather, after his boat had been broken. But he
was drowned afterwards."

Seven ri means a trifle less than eighteen miles. I asked if any
of the young men now in the settlement could do as much.

"Probably some might," the old man replied. "There are many
strong swimmers. All swim here,--even the little children. But
when fisher-folk swim like that, it is only to save their lives."

"Or to make love," the wife added,--"like the Hashima girl."

"Who?" queried I.

"A fisherman's daughter," said Otokichi. "She had a lover in
Ajiro, several ri distant; and she used to swim to him at night,
and swim back in the morning. He kept a light burning to guide
her. But one dark night the light was neglected--or blown out;
and she lost her way, and was drowned.... The story is famous in

--"So," I said to myself, "in the Far East, it is poor Hero that
does the swimming. And what, under such circumstances, would have
been the Western estimate of Leander?"

1 This is a common proverb:--Kappa mo obore-shini. The Kappa is a
water-goblin, haunting rivers especially.


Usually about the time of the Bon, the sea gets rough; and I was
not surprised to find next morning that the surf was running
high. All day it grew. By the middle of the afternoon, the waves
had become wonderful; and I sat on the sea-wall, and watched them
until sundown.

It was a long slow rolling,--massive and formidable. Sometimes,
just before breaking, a towering swell would crack all its green
length with a tinkle as of shivering glass; then would fall and
flatten with a peal that shook the wall beneath me.... I thought
of the great dead Russian general who made his army to storm as a
sea,--wave upon wave of steel,--thunder following thunder....
There was yet scarcely any wind; but there must have been wild
weather elsewhere,--and the breakers were steadily heightening.
Their motion fascinated. How indescribably complex such motion
is,--yet how eternally new! Who could fully describe even five
minutes of it? No mortal ever saw two waves break in exactly the
same way.

And probably no mortal ever watched the ocean-roll or heard its
thunder without feeling serious. I have noticed that even
animals,--horses and cows,--become meditative in the presence of
the sea: they stand and stare and listen as if the sight and
sound of that immensity made them forget all else in the world.

There is a folk-saying of the coast:--"The Sea has a soul and
hears." And the meaning is thus explained: Never speak of your
fear when you feel afraid at sea;--if you say that you are
afraid, the waves will suddenly rise higher. Now this imagining
seems to me absolutely natural. I must confess that when I am
either in the sea, or upon it, I cannot fully persuade myself
that it is not alive,--a conscious and a hostile power. Reason,
for the time being, avails nothing against this fancy. In order
to be able to think of the sea as a mere body of water, I must be
upon some height from whence its heaviest billowing appears but a
lazy creeping of tiny ripples.

But the primitive fancy may be roused even more strongly in
darkness than by daylight. How living seem the smoulderings and
the flashings of the tide on nights of phosphorescence!--how
reptilian the subtle shifting of the tints of its chilly flame!
Dive into such a night-sea;--open your eyes in the black-blue
gloom, and watch the weird gush of lights that follow your every
motion: each luminous point, as seen through the flood, like the
opening and closing of an eye! At such a moment, one feels indeed
as if enveloped by some monstrous sentiency,--suspended within
some vital substance that feels and sees and wills alike in every
part, an infinite soft cold Ghost.


Long I lay awake that night, and listened to the thunder-rolls
and crashings of the mighty tide. Deeper than these distinct
shocks of noise, and all the storming of the nearer waves, was
the bass of the further surf,--a ceaseless abysmal muttering to
which the building trembled,--a sound that seemed to imagination
like the sound of the trampling of infinite cavalry, the massing
of incalculable artillery,--some rushing, from the Sunrise, of
armies wide as the world.

Then I found myself thinking of the vague terror with which I had
listened, when a child, to the voice of the sea;--and I
remembered that in after-years, on different coasts in different
parts of the world, the sound of surf had always revived the
childish emotion. Certainly this emotion was older than I by
thousands of thousands of centuries,--the inherited sum of
numberless terrors ancestral. But presently there came to me the
conviction that fear of the sea alone could represent but one
element of the multitudinous awe awakened by its voice. For as I
listened to that wild tide of the Suruga coast, I could
distinguish nearly every sound of fear known to man: not merely
noises of battle tremendous,--of interminable volleying,--of
immeasurable charging,--but the roaring of beasts, the crackling
and hissing of fire, the rumbling of earthquake, the thunder of
ruin, and, above all these, a clamor continual as of shrieks and
smothered shoutings,--the Voices that are said to be the voices
of the drowned., Awfulness supreme of tumult,--combining all
imaginable echoings of fury and destruction and despair!

And to myself I said:--Is it wonderful that the voice of the sea
should make us serious? Consonantly to its multiple utterance
must respond all waves of immemorial fear that move in the vaster
sea of soul-experience. Deep calleth unto deep. The visible abyss
calls to that abyss invisible of elder being whose flood-flow
made the ghosts of us.

Wherefore there is surely more than a little truth in the ancient
belief that the speech of the dead is the roar of the sea. Truly
the fear and the pain of the dead past speak to us in that dim
deep awe which the roar of the sea awakens.

But there are sounds that move us much more profoundly than the
voice of the sea can do, and in stranger ways,--sounds that also
make us serious at times, and very serious,--sounds of music.

Great music is a psychical storm, agitating to unimaginable depth
the mystery of the past within us. Or we might say that it is a
prodigious incantation, every different instrument and voice
making separate appeal to different billions of prenatal
memories. There are tones that call up all ghosts of youth and
joy and tenderness;--there are tones that evoke all phantom pain
of perished passion;--there are tones that resurrect all dead
sensations of majesty and might and glory,--all expired
exultations,--all forgotten magnanimities. Well may the influence
of music seem inexplicable to the man who idly dreams that his
life began less than a hundred years ago! But the mystery
lightens for whomsoever learns that the substance of Self is
older than the sun. He finds that music is a Necromancy;--he
feels that to every ripple of melody, to every billow of harmony,
there answers within him, out of the Sea of Death and Birth, some
eddying immeasurable of ancient pleasure and pain.

Pleasure and pain: they commingle always in great music; and
therefore it is that music can move us more profoundly than the
voice of ocean or than any other voice can do. But in music's
larger utterance it is ever the sorrow that makes the undertone,
--the surf-mutter of the Sea of Soul.... Strange to think how
vast the sum of joy and woe that must have been experienced
before the sense of music could evolve in the brain of man!

Somewhere it is said that human life is the music of the Gods,--
that its sobs and laughter, its songs and shrieks and orisons,
its outcries of delight and of despair, rise never to the hearing
of the Immortals but as a perfect harmony.... Wherefore they
could not desire to hush the tones of pain: it would spoil their
music! The combination, without the agony-tones, would prove a
discord unendurable to ears divine.

And in one way we ourselves are as Gods,--since it is only the
sum of the pains and the joys of past lives innumerable that
makes for us, through memory organic, the ecstasy of music. All
the gladness and the grief of dead generations come back to haunt
us in countless forms of harmony and of melody. Even so,--a
million years after we shall have ceased to view the sun,--will
the gladness and the grief of our own lives pass with richer
music into other hearts--there to bestir, for one mysterious
moment, some deep and exquisite thrilling of voluptuous pain.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "In Ghostly Japan" ***

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