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´╗┐Title: Japan: An Attempt at Interpretation
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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CHAPTER                                   PAGE

I.     DIFFICULTIES.........................1

II.    STRANGENESS AND CHARM................5

III.   THE ANCIENT CULT....................21

IV.    THE RELIGION OF THE HOME............33

V.     THE JAPANESE FAMILY.................55

VI.    THE COMMUNAL CULT...................81



IX.    THE RULE OF THE DEAD...............157


XI.    THE HIGHER BUDDHISM................207




XV.    THE JESUIT PERIL...................303

XVI.   FEUDAL INTEGRATION.................343

XVII.  THE SHINTO REVIVAL.................367

XVIII. SURVIVALS..........................381

XIX.   MODERN RESTRAINTS..................395

XX.    OFFICIAL EDUCATION.................419

XXI.   INDUSTRIAL DANGER..................443

XXII.  REFLECTIONS........................457


       BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTES..............487


"Perhaps all very marked national characters can be traced back
to a time of rigid and pervading discipline"--WALTER BAGEHOT.


A thousand books have been written about Japan; but among
these,--setting aside artistic publications and works of a purely
special character,--the really precious volumes will be found to
number scarcely a score. This fact is due to the immense difficulty
of perceiving and comprehending what underlies the surface of
Japanese life. No work fully interpreting that life,--no work
picturing Japan within and without, historically and socially,
psychologically and ethically,--can be written for at least another
fifty years. So vast and intricate the subject that the united labour
of a generation of scholars could not exhaust it, and so difficult
that the number of scholars willing to devote their time to it must
always be small. Even among the Japanese themselves, no scientific
knowledge of their own history is yet possible; because the means of
obtaining that knowledge have not yet been prepared,--though
mountains of material have been collected. The want of any good
history upon a modern plan is but one of many discouraging wants.
Data for the study of sociology [2] are still inaccessible to the
Western investigator. The early state of the family and the clan; the
history of the differentiation of classes; the history of the
differentiation of political from religious law; the history of
restraints, and of their influence upon custom; the history of
regulative and cooperative conditions in the development of industry;
the history of ethics and aesthetics,--all these and many other
matters remain obscure.

This essay of mine can serve in one direction only as a contribution
to the Western knowledge of Japan. But this direction is not one of
the least important. Hitherto the subject of Japanese religion has
been written of chiefly by the sworn enemies of that religion: by
others it has been almost entirely ignored. Yet while it continues to
be ignored and misrepresented, no real knowledge of Japan is
possible. Any true comprehension of social conditions requires more
than a superficial acquaintance with religious conditions. Even the
industrial history of a people cannot be understood without some
knowledge of those religious traditions and customs which regulate
industrial life during the earlier stages of its development .... Or
take the subject of art. Art in Japan is so intimately associated
with religion that any attempt to study it without extensive
knowledge of the [3] beliefs which it reflects, were mere waste of
time. By art I do not mean only painting and sculpture, but every
kind of decoration, and most kinds of pictorial representation,--the
image on a boy's kite or a girl's battledore, not less than the
design upon a lacquered casket or enamelled vase,--the figures upon a
workman's towel not less than the pattern of the girdle of a
princess,--the shape of the paper-dog or the wooden rattle bought for
a baby, not less than the forms of those colossal Ni-O who guard the
gateways of Buddhist temples .... And surely there can never be any
just estimate made of Japanese literature, until a study of that
literature shall have been made by some scholar, not only able to
understand Japanese beliefs, but able also to sympathize with them to
at least the same extent that our great humanists can sympathize with
the religion of Euripides, of Pindar, and of Theocritus. Let us ask
ourselves how much of English or French or German or Italian
literature could be fully understood without the slightest knowledge
of the ancient and modern religions of the Occident. I do not refer
to distinctly religious creators,--to poets like Milton or
Dante,--but only to the fact that even one of Shakespeare's plays
must remain incomprehensible to a person knowing nothing either of
Christian beliefs or of the beliefs which preceded them. The real
mastery of any European tongue is impossible [4] without a knowledge
of European religion. The language of even the unlettered is full of
religious meaning: the proverbs and household-phrases of the poor,
the songs of the street, the speech of the workshop,--all are infused
with significations unimaginable by any one ignorant of the faith of
the people. Nobody knows this better than a man who has passed many
years in trying to teach English in Japan, to pupils whose faith is
utterly unlike our own, and whose ethics have been shaped by a
totally different social experience.



The majority of the first impressions of Japan recorded by travellers
are pleasurable impressions. Indeed, there must be something lacking,
or something very harsh, in the nature to which Japan can make no
emotional appeal. The appeal itself is the clue to a problem; and
that problem is the character of a race and of its civilization.

My own first impressions of Japan,--Japan as seen in the white
sunshine of a perfect spring day,--had doubtless much in common with
the average of such experiences. I remember especially the wonder and
the delight of the vision. The wonder and the delight have never
passed away: they are often revived for me even now, by some chance
happening, after fourteen years of sojourn. But the reason of these
feelings was difficult to learn,--or at least to guess; for I cannot
yet claim to know much about Japan .... Long ago the best and dearest
Japanese friend I ever had said to me, a little before his death:
"When you find, in four or five years more, that you cannot
understand the Japanese at [6] all, then you will begin to know
something about them." After having realized the truth of my friend's
prediction,--after having discovered that I cannot understand the
Japanese at all,--I feel better qualified to attempt this essay.

As first perceived, the outward strangeness of things in Japan
produces (in certain minds, at least) a queer thrill impossible to
describe,--a feeling of weirdness which comes to us only with the
perception of the totally unfamiliar. You find yourself moving
through queer small streets full of odd small people, wearing robes
and sandals of extraordinary shapes; and you can scarcely distinguish
the sexes at sight. The houses are constructed and furnished in ways
alien to all your experience; and you are astonished to find that you
cannot conceive the use or meaning of numberless things on display in
the shops. Food-stuffs of unimaginable derivation; utensils of
enigmatic forms; emblems incomprehensible of some mysterious belief;
strange masks and toys that commemorate legends of gods or demons;
odd figures, too, of the gods themselves, with monstrous ears and
smiling faces,--all these you may perceive as you wander about;
though you must also notice telegraph-poles and type-writers,
electric lamps and sewing machines. Everywhere on signs and hangings,
and on the backs of people passing by, you will observe wonderful
Chinese [7] characters; and the wizardry of all these texts makes the
dominant tone of the spectacle.

Further acquaintance with this fantastic world will in nowise
diminish the sense of strangeness evoked by the first vision of it.
You will soon observe that even the physical actions of the people
are unfamiliar,--that their work is done in ways the opposite of
Western ways. Tools are of surprising shapes, and are handled after
surprising methods: the blacksmith squats at his anvil, wielding a
hammer such as no Western smith could use without long practice; the
carpenter pulls, instead of pushing, his extraordinary plane and saw.
Always the left is the right side, and the right side the wrong; and
keys must be turned, to open or close a lock, in what we are
accustomed to think the wrong direction. Mr. Percival Lowell has
truthfully observed that the Japanese speak backwards, read
backwards, write backwards,--and that this is "only the abc of their
contrariety." For the habit of writing backwards there are obvious
evolutional reasons; and the requirements of Japanese calligraphy
sufficiently explain why the artist pushes his brush or pencil
instead of pulling it. But why, instead of putting the thread through
the eye of the needle, should the Japanese maiden slip the eye of the
needle over the point of the thread? Perhaps the most remarkable, out
of a hundred possible examples of antipodal action, is furnished by
the Japanese art of fencing. The [8] swordsman, delivering his blow
with both hands, does not pull the blade towards him in the moment of
striking, but pushes it from him. He uses it, indeed, as other
Asiatics do, not on the principle of the wedge, but of the saw; yet
there is a pushing motion where we should expect a pulling motion in
the stroke .... These and other forms of unfamiliar action are
strange enough to suggest the notion of a humanity even physically as
little related to us as might be the population of another
planet,--the notion of some anatomical unlikeness. No such
unlikeness, however, appears to exist; and all this oppositeness
probably implies, not so much the outcome of a human experience
entirely independent of Aryan experience, as the outcome of an
experience evolutionally younger than our own.

Yet that experience has been one of no mean order.  Its
manifestations do not merely startle: they also delight. The delicate
perfection of workmanship, the light strength and grace of objects,
the power manifest to obtain the best results with the least
material, the achieving of mechanical ends by the simplest possible
means, the comprehension of irregularity as aesthetic value, the
shapeliness and perfect taste of everything, the sense displayed of
harmony in tints or colours,--all this must convince you at once that
our Occident has much to learn from this remote civilization, not
only in matters of art and taste, but in matters likewise of [9]
economy and utility. It is no barbarian fancy that appeals to you in
those amazing porcelains, those astonishing embroideries, those
wonders of lacquer and ivory and bronze, which educate imagination in
unfamiliar ways. No: these are the products of a civilization which
became, within its own limits, so exquisite that none but an artist
is capable of judging its manufactures,--a civilization that can be
termed imperfect only by those who would also term imperfect the
Greek civilization of three thousand years ago.

But the underlying strangeness of this world,--the psychological
strangeness,--is much more startling than the visible and
superficial. You begin to suspect the range of it after having
discovered that no adult Occidental can perfectly master the
language. East and West the fundamental parts of human nature--the
emotional bases of it--are much the same: the mental difference
between a Japanese and a European child is mainly potential. But with
growth the difference rapidly develops and widens, till it becomes,
in adult life, inexpressible. The whole of the Japanese mental
superstructure evolves into forms having nothing in common with
Western psychological development: the expression of thought becomes
regulated, and the expression of emotion inhibited in ways that
bewilder and astound. The ideas of this people are not our [10]
ideas; their sentiments are not our sentiments their ethical life
represents for us regions of thought and emotion yet unexplored, or
perhaps long forgotten. Any one of their ordinary phrases, translated
into Western speech, makes hopeless nonsense; and the literal
rendering into Japanese of the simplest English sentence would
scarcely be comprehended by any Japanese who had never studied a
European tongue. Could you learn all the words in a Japanese
dictionary, your acquisition would not help you in the least to make
yourself understood in speaking, unless you had learned also to think
like a Japanese,--that is to say, to think backwards, to think
upside-down and inside-out, to think in directions totally foreign to
Aryan habit. Experience in the acquisition of European languages can
help you to learn Japanese about as much as it could help you to
acquire the language spoken by the inhabitants of Mars. To be able to
use the Japanese tongue as a Japanese uses it, one would need to be
born again, and to have one's mind completely reconstructed, from the
foundation upwards. It is possible that a person of European
parentage, born in Japan, and accustomed from infancy to use the
vernacular, might retain in after-life that instinctive knowledge
which could alone enable him to adapt his mental relations to the
relations of any Japanese environment. There is actually an
Englishman named Black, born in Japan, whose proficiency [11] in the
language is proved by the fact that he is able to earn a fair income
as a professional storyteller (hanashika). But this is an
extraordinary case .... As for the literary language, I need only
observe that to make acquaintance with it requires very much more
than a knowledge of several thousand Chinese characters. It is safe
to say that no Occidental can undertake to render at sight any
literary text laid before him--indeed the number of native scholars
able to do so is very small;--and although the learning displayed in
this direction by various Europeans may justly compel our admiration,
the work of none could have been given to the world without Japanese

But as the outward strangeness of Japan proves to be full of beauty,
so the inward strangeness appears to have its charm,--an ethical
charm reflected in the common life of the people. The attractive
aspects of that life do not indeed imply, to the ordinary observer, a
psychological differentiation measurable by scores of centuries: only
a scientific mind, like that of Mr. Percival Lowell, immediately
perceives the problem presented. The less gifted stranger, if
naturally sympathetic, is merely pleased and puzzled, and tries to
explain, by his own experience of happy life on the other side of the
world, the social conditions that charm him. Let us suppose that he
has the good fortune of being able to [12] live for six months or a
year in some old-fashioned town of the interior. From the beginning
of this sojourn he call scarcely fail to be impressed by the apparent
kindliness and joyousness of the existence about him. In the
relations of the people to each other, as well as in all their
relations to himself, he will find a constant amenity, a tact, a
good-nature such as he will elsewhere have met with only in the
friendship of exclusive circles. Everybody greets everybody with
happy looks and pleasant words; faces are always smiling; the
commonest incidents of everyday life are transfigured by a courtesy
at once so artless and so faultless that it appears to spring
directly from the heart, without any teaching. Under all
circumstances a certain outward cheerfulness never falls: no matter
what troubles may come,--storm or fire, flood or earthquake,--the
laughter of greeting voices, the bright smile and graceful bow, the
kindly inquiry and the wish to please, continue to make existence
beautiful. Religion brings no gloom into this sunshine: before the
Buddhas and the gods folk smile as they pray; the temple-courts are
playgrounds for the children; and within the enclosure of the great
public shrines--which are places of festivity rather than of
solemnity--dancing-platforms are erected. Family existence would seem
to be everywhere characterized by gentleness: there is no visible
quarrelling, no loud harshness, no tears and reproaches. Cruelty,
even [13] to animals, appears to be unknown: one sees farmers, coming
to town, trudging patiently beside their horses or oxen, aiding their
dumb companions to bear the burden, and using no whips or goads.
Drivers or pullers of carts will turn out of their way, under the
most provoking circumstances, rather than overrun a lazy dog or a
stupid chicken .... For no inconsiderable time one may live in the
midst of appearances like these, and perceive nothing to spoil the
pleasure of the experience.

Of course the conditions of which I speak are now passing away; but
they are still to be found in the remoter districts. I have lived in
districts where no case of theft had occurred for hundreds of
years,--where the newly-built prisons of Meiji remained empty and
useless,--where the people left their doors unfastened by night as
well as by day. These facts are familiar to every Japanese. In such a
district, you might recognize that the kindness shown to you, as a
stranger, is the consequence of official command; but how explain the
goodness of the people to each other? When you discover no harshness,
no rudeness, no dishonesty, no breaking of laws, and learn that this
social condition has been the same for centuries, you are tempted to
believe that you have entered into the domain of a morally superior
humanity. All this soft urbanity, impeccable honesty, ingenuous
kindliness of speech and act, you might naturally interpret [14] as
conduct directed by perfect goodness of heart. And the simplicity
that delights you is no simplicity of barbarism. Here every one has
been taught; every one knows how to write and speak beautifully, how
to compose poetry, how to behave politely; there is everywhere
cleanliness and good taste; interiors are bright and pure; the daily
use of the hot bath is universal. How refuse to be charmed by a
civilization in which every relation appears to be governed by
altruism, every action directed by duty, and every object shaped by
art? You cannot help being delighted by such conditions, or feeling
indignant at hearing them denounced as "heathen." And according to
the degree of altruism within yourself, these good folk will be able,
without any apparent effort, to make you happy. The mere sensation of
the milieu is a placid happiness: it is like the sensation of a dream
in which people greet us exactly as we like to be greeted, and say to
us all that we like to hear, and do for us all that we wish to have
done,--people moving soundlessly through spaces of perfect repose,
all bathed in vapoury light. Yes--for no little time these fairy-folk
can give you all the soft bliss of sleep. But sooner or later, if you
dwell long with them, your contentment will prove to have much in
common with the happiness of dreams. You will never forget the
dream,--never; but it will lift at last, like those vapours of spring
which lend preternatural [15] loveliness to a Japanese landscape in
the forenoon of radiant days. Really you are happy because you have
entered bodily into Fairyland,--into a world that is not, and never
could be your own. You have been transported out of your own
century--over spaces enormous of perished time--into an era
forgotten, into a vanished age,--back to something ancient as Egypt
or Nineveh. That is the secret of the strangeness and beauty of
things,--the secret of the thrill they give,--the secret of the
elfish charm of the people and their ways. Fortunate mortal! the tide
of Time has turned for you! But remember that here all is
enchantment,--that you have fallen under the spell of the dead,--that
the lights and the colours and the voices must fade away at last into
emptiness and silence.

              *    *    *    *    *    *

Some of us, at least, have often wished that it were possible to live
for a season in the beautiful vanished world of Greek culture.
Inspired by our first acquaintance with the charm of Greek art and
thought, this wish comes to us even before we are capable of
imagining the true conditions of the antique civilization. If the
wish could be realized, we should certainly find it impossible to
accommodate ourselves to those conditions,--not so much because of
the difficulty of learning the environment, as because of the much
greater difficulty of feeling just as people used to feel some thirty
centuries [16] ago. In spite of all that has been done for Greek
studies since the Renaissance, we are still unable to understand many
aspects of the old Greek life: no modern mind can really feel, for
example, those sentiments and emotions to which the great tragedy of
Oedipus made appeal. Nevertheless we are much in advance of our
forefathers of the eighteenth century, as regards the knowledge of
Greek civilization. In the time of the French revolution, it was
thought possible to reestablish in France the conditions of a Greek
republic, and to educate children according to the system of Sparta.
To-day we are well aware that no mind developed by modern
civilization could find happiness under any of those socialistic
despotisms which existed in all the cities of the ancient world
before the Roman conquest. We could no more mingle with the old Greek
life, if it were resurrected for us,--no more become a part of
it,--than we could change our mental identities. But how much would
we not give for the delight of beholding it,--for the joy of
attending one festival in Corinth, or of witnessing the Pan-Hellenic
games? ... And yet, to witness the revival of some perished Greek
civilization,--to walk about the very Crotona of Pythagoras,--to
wander through the Syracuse of Theocritus,--were not any more of a
privilege than is the opportunity actually afforded us to study
Japanese life. Indeed, from the evolutional [17] point of view, it
were less of a privilege,--since Japan offers us the living spectacle
of conditions older, and psychologically much farther away from us,
than those of any Greek period with which art and literature have
made us closely acquainted.

The reader scarcely needs to be reminded that a civilization less
evolved than our own, and intellectually remote from us, is not on
that account to be regarded as necessarily inferior in all respects.
Hellenic civilization at its best represented an early stage of
sociological evolution; yet the arts which it developed still furnish
our supreme and unapproachable ideals of beauty. So, too, this much
more archaic civilization of Old Japan attained an average of
aesthetic and moral culture well worthy of our wonder and praise.
Only a shallow mind--a very shallow mind--will pronounce the best of
that culture inferior. But Japanese civilization is peculiar to a
degree for which there is perhaps no Western parallel, since it
offers us the spectacle of many successive layers of alien culture
superimposed above the simple indigenous basis, and forming a very
bewilderment of complexity. Most of this alien culture is Chinese,
and bears but an indirect relation to the real subject of these
studies. The peculiar and surprising fact is that, in spite of all
superimposition, the original character of the people and of their
society should still remain recognizable. [18] The wonder of Japan is
not to be sought in the countless borrowings with which she has
clothed herself,--much as a princess of the olden time would don
twelve ceremonial robes, of divers colours and qualities, folded one
upon the other so as to show their many-tinted edges at throat and
sleeves and skirt;--no, the real wonder is the Wearer. For the
interest of the costume is much less in its beauty of form and tint
than in its significance as idea,--as representing something of the
mind that devised or adopted it. And the supreme interest of the
old--Japanese civilization lies in what it expresses of the
race-character,--that character which yet remains essentially
unchanged by all the changes of Meiji.

"Suggests" were perhaps a better word than "expresses," for this
race-character is rather to be divined than recognized. Our
comprehension of it might be helped by some definite knowledge of
origins; but such knowledge we do not yet possess. Ethnologists are
agreed that the Japanese race has been formed by a mingling of
peoples, and that the dominant element is Mongolian; but this
dominant element is represented in two very different types,--one
slender and almost feminine of aspect; the other, squat and powerful.
Chinese and Korean elements are known to exist in the populations of
certain districts; and, there appears to have been a large infusion
of Aino blood. Whether there be [19] any Malay or Polynesian element
also has not been decided. Thus much only can be safely
affirmed,--that the race, like all good races, is a mixed one; and
that the peoples who originally united to form it have been so
blended together as to develop, under long social discipline, a
tolerably uniform type of character. This character, though
immediately recognizable in some of Its aspects, presents us with
many enigmas that are very difficult to explain.

Nevertheless, to understand it better has become a matter of
importance. Japan has entered into the world's competitive struggle;
and the worth of any people in that struggle depends upon character
quite as much as upon force. We can learn something about Japanese
character if we are able to ascertain the nature of the conditions
which shaped it,--the great general facts of the moral experience of
the race. And these facts we should find expressed or suggested in
the history of the national beliefs, and in the history of those
social institutions derived from and developed by religion.




The real religion of Japan, the religion still professed in one form
or other, by the entire nation, is that cult which has been the
foundation of all civilized religion, and of all civilized
society,--Ancestor-worship. In the course of thousands of years this
original cult has undergone modifications, and has assumed various
shapes; but everywhere in Japan its fundamental character remains
unchanged. Without including the different Buddhist forms of
ancestor-worship, we find three distinct rites of purely Japanese
origin, subsequently modified to some degree by Chinese influence and
ceremonial. These Japanese forms of the cult are all classed together
under the name of "Shinto," which signifies, "The Way of the Gods."
It is not an ancient term; and it was first adopted only to
distinguish the native religion, or "Way" from the foreign religion
of Buddhism called "Butsudo," or "The Way of the Buddha." The three
forms of the Shinto worship of ancestors are the Domestic Cult, the
Communal Cult, and the State Cult;--or, in other words, the worship
of family ancestors, the worship of clan or tribal ancestors, [22]
and the worship of imperial ancestors. The first is the religion of
the home; the second is the religion of the local divinity, or
tutelar god; the third is the national religion. There are various
other forms of Shinto worship; but they need not be considered for
the present.

Of the three forms of ancestor-worship above mentioned, the
family-cult is the first in evolutional order,--the others being
later developments. But, in speaking of the family-cult as the
oldest, I do not mean the home-religion as it exists to-day;--neither
do I mean by "family" anything corresponding to the term "household."
The Japanese family in early times meant very much more than
"household": it might include a hundred or a thousand households: it
was something like the Greek (Greek genos); or the Roman gens,--the
patriarchal family in the largest sense of the term. In prehistoric
Japan the domestic cult of the house-ancestor probably did not
exist;--the family-rites would appear to have been performed only at
the burial-place. But the later domestic cult, having been developed
out of the primal family-rite, indirectly represents the most ancient
form of the religion, and should therefore be considered first in any
study of Japanese social evolution.

The evolutional history of ancestor-worship has been very much the
same in all countries; and that [23] of the Japanese cult offers
remarkable evidence in support of Herbert Spencer's exposition of the
law of religious development. To comprehend this general law, we
must, however, go back to the origin of religious beliefs. One should
bear in mind that, from a sociological point of view, it is no more
correct to speak of the existing ancestor-cult in Japan as
"primitive," than it would be to speak of the domestic cult of the
Athenians in the time of Pericles as "primitive." No persistent form
of ancestor-worship is primitive; and every established domestic cult
has been developed out of some irregular and non-domestic
family-cult, which, again, must have grown out of still more ancient

Our knowledge of ancestor-worship, as regards the early European
civilizations, cannot be said to extend to the primitive form of the
cult. In the case of the Greeks and the Romans, our knowledge of the
subject dates from a period at which a domestic religion had long
been established; and we have documentary evidence as to the
character of that religion. But of the earlier cult that must have
preceded the home-worship, we have little testimony; and we can
surmise its nature only by study of the natural history of
ancestor-worship among peoples not yet arrived at a state of
civilization. The true domestic cult begins with a settled
civilization. Now when the Japanese race first established itself in
Japan, it does not appear to have [24] brought with it any
civilization of the kind which we would call settled, nor any
well-developed ancestor-cult. The cult certainly existed; but its
ceremonies would seem to have been irregularly performed at graves
only. The domestic cult proper may not have been established until
about the eighth century, when the spirit-tablet is supposed to have
been introduced from China. The earliest ancestor-cult, as we shall
presently see, was developed out of the primitive funeral-rites and
propitiatory ceremonies.

The existing family religion is therefore a comparatively modern
development; but it is at least as old as the true civilization of
the country, and it conserves beliefs and ideas which are indubitably
primitive, as well as ideas and beliefs derived from these. Before
treating further of the cult itself, it will be necessary to consider
some of these older beliefs.

The earliest ancestor-worship,--"the root of all religions," as
Herbert Spencer calls it,--was probably coeval with the earliest
definite belief in ghosts. As soon as men were able to conceive the
idea of a shadowy inner self, or double, so soon, doubtless, the
propitiatory cult of spirits began. But this earliest ghost-worship
must have long preceded that period of mental development in which
men first became capable of forming abstract ideas. The [25]
primitive ancestor-worshippers could not have formed the notion of a
supreme deity; and all evidence existing as to the first forms of
their worship tends to show that there primarily existed no
difference whatever between the conception of ghosts and the
conception of gods. There were, consequently, no definite beliefs in
any future state of reward or of punishment,--no ideas of any heaven
or hell. Even the notion of a shadowy underworld, or Hades, was of
much later evolution. At first the dead were thought of only as
dwelling in the tombs provided for them,--whence they could issue,
from time to time, to visit their former habitations, or to make
apparition in the dreams of the living. Their real world was the
place of burial,--the grave, the tumulus. Afterwards there slowly
developed the idea of an underworld, connected in some mysterious way
with the place of sepulture. Only at a much later time did this dim
underworld of imagination expand and divide into regions of ghostly
bliss and woe .... It is a noteworthy fact that Japanese mythology
never evolved the ideas of an Elysium or a Tartarus,--never developed
the notion of a heaven or a hell. Even to this day Shinto belief
represents the pre-Homeric stage of imagination as regards the

Among the Indo-European races likewise there appeared to have been at
first no difference between gods and ghosts, nor any ranking of gods
as greater [26] and lesser. These distinctions were gradually
developed. "The spirits of the dead," says Mr. Spencer, "forming, in
a primitive tribe, an ideal group the members of which are but little
distinguished from one another, will grow more and more
distinguished;--and as societies advance, and as traditions, local
and general, accumulate and complicate, these once similar human
souls, acquiring in the popular mind differences of character and
importance, will diverge--until their original community of nature
becomes scarcely recognizable." So in antique Europe, and so in the
Far East, were the greater gods of nations evolved from ghost-cults;
but those ethics of ancestor-worship which shaped alike the earliest
societies of West and East, date from a period before the time of the
greater gods,--from the period when all the dead were supposed to
become gods, with no distinction of rank.

No more than the primitive ancestor-worshippers of Aryan race did the
early Japanese think of their dead as ascending to some extra-mundane
region of light and bliss, or as descending into some realm of
torment. They thought of their dead as still inhabiting this world,
or at least as maintaining with it a constant communication. Their
earliest sacred records do, indeed, make mention of an underworld,
where mysterious Thunder-gods and evil goblins dwelt in corruption;
but this vague world of the dead communicated with the world of the
living; [27] and the spirit there, though in some sort attached to
its decaying envelope, could still receive upon earth the homage and
the offerings of men. Before the advent of Buddhism, there was no
idea of a heaven or a hell. The ghosts of the departed were thought
of as constant presences, needing propitiation, and able in some way
to share the pleasures and the pains of the living. They required
food and drink and light; and in return for these; they could confer
benefits. Their bodies had melted into earth; but their spirit-power
still lingered in the upper world, thrilled its substance, moved in
its winds and waters. By death they had acquired mysterious
force;--they had become "superior ones," Kami, gods.

That is to say, gods in the oldest Greek and Roman sense.  Be it
observed that there were no moral distinctions, East or West, in this
deification. "All the dead become gods," wrote the great Shinto
commentator, Hirata. So likewise, in the thought of the early Greeks
and even of the late Romans, all the dead became gods. M. de
Coulanges observes, in La Cite Antique: "This kind of apotheosis was
not the privilege of the great alone. no distinction was made .... It
was not even necessary to have been a virtuous man: the wicked man
became a god as well as the good man,--only that in this
after-existence, he retained the evil inclinations of his former
life." Such also [28] was the case in Shinto belief: the good man
became a beneficent divinity, the bad man an evil deity,--but all
alike became Kami. "And since there are bad as well as good gods,"
wrote Motowori, "it is necessary to propitiate them with offerings of
agreeable food, playing the harp, blowing the flute, singing and
dancing and whatever is likely to put them in a good humour." The
Latins called the maleficent ghosts of the dead, Larvae, and called
the beneficent or harmless ghosts, Lares, or Manes, or Genii,
according to Apuleius. But all alike were gods,--dii-manes; and
Cicero admonished his readers to render to all dii-manes the rightful
worship: "They are men," he declared, "who have departed from this
life;-consider them divine beings ...."

In Shinto, as in old Greek belief, to die was to enter into the
possession of superhuman power, to become capable of conferring
benefit or of inflicting misfortune by supernatural means .... But
yesterday, such or such a man was a common toiler, a person of no
importance;--to-day, being dead, he becomes a divine power, and his
children pray to him for the prosperity of their undertakings. Thus
also we find the personages of Greek tragedy, such as Alcestis,
suddenly transformed into divinities by death, and addressed in the
language of worship or prayer. But, in despite of their supernatural
[29] power, the dead are still dependent upon the living for
happiness. Though viewless, save in dreams, they need earthly
nourishment and homage,--food and drink, and the reverence of their
descendants. Each ghost must rely for such comfort upon its living
kindred;--only through the devotion of that kindred can it ever find
repose. Each ghost must have shelter,--a fitting tomb;--each must
have offerings. While honourably sheltered and properly nourished the
spirit is pleased, and will aid in maintaining the good-fortune of
its propitiators. But if refused the sepulchral home, the funeral
rites, the offerings of food and fire and drink, the spirit will
suffer from hunger and cold and thirst, and, becoming angered, will
act malevolently and contrive misfortune for those by whom it has
been neglected .... Such were the ideas of the old Greeks regarding
the dead; and such were the ideas of the old Japanese.

Although the religion of ghosts was once the religion of our own
forefathers--whether of Northern or Southern Europe,--and although
practices derived from it, such as the custom of decorating graves
with flowers, persist to-day among our most advanced
communities,--our modes of thought have so changed under the
influences of modern civilization that it is difficult for us to
imagine how people could ever have supposed that the happiness of the
dead depended upon material food. But it [30] is probable that the
real belief in ancient European societies was much like the belief as
it exists in modern Japan. The dead are not supposed to consume the
substance of the food, but only to absorb the invisible essence of
it. In the early period of ancestor-worship the food-offerings were
large; later on they were made smaller and smaller as the idea grew
up that the spirits required but little sustenance of even the most
vapoury kind. But, however small the offerings, it was essential that
they should be made regularly. Upon these shadowy repasts depended
the well-being of the dead; and upon the well-being of the dead
depended the fortunes of the living. Neither could dispense with the
help of the other. the visible and the invisible worlds were forever
united by bonds innumerable of mutual necessity; and no single
relation of that union could be broken without the direst

The history of all religious sacrifices can be traced back to this
ancient custom of offerings made to ghosts; and the whole Indo-Aryan
race had at one time no other religion than this religion of spirits.
In fact, every advanced human society has, at some period of its
history, passed through the stage of ancestor-worship; but it is to
the Far East that we must took to-day in order to find the cult
coexisting with an elaborate civilization. Now the Japanese
ancestor-cult--though representing the beliefs of a [31] non-Aryan
people, and offering in the history of its development various
interesting peculiarities--still embodies much that is characteristic
of ancestor-worship in general. There survive in it especially these
three beliefs, which underlie all forms of persistent
ancestor-worship in all climes and countries:--

I.--The dead remain in this world,--haunting their tombs, and also
their former homes, and sharing invisibly in the life of their living

II.--All the dead become gods, in the sense of acquiring supernatural
power; but they retain the characters which distinguished them during

III.--The happiness of the dead depends upon the respectful service
rendered them by the living; and the happiness of the living depends
upon the fulfilment of pious duty to the dead.

To these very early beliefs may be added the following, probably of
later development, which at one time must have exercised immense

IV.--Every event in the world, good or evil,--fair seasons or
plentiful harvests,--flood and famine,--tempest and tidal-wave and
earthquake,--is the work of the dead.

V.--All human actions, good or bad, are controlled by the dead.

The first three beliefs survive from the dawn of civilization, or
before it,--from the time in which [32] the dead were the only gods,
without distinctions of power. The latter two would seem rather of
the period in which a true mythology--an enormous polytheism--had
been developed out of the primitive ghost-worship. There is nothing
simple in these beliefs: they are awful, tremendous beliefs; and
before Buddhism helped to dissipate them, their pressure upon the
mind of a people dwelling in a land of cataclysms, must have been
like an endless weight of nightmare. But the elder beliefs, in
softened form, are yet a fundamental part of the existing cult.
Though Japanese ancestor-worship has undergone many modifications in
the past two thousand years, these modifications have not transformed
its essential character in relation to conduct; and the whole
framework of society rests upon it, as on a moral foundation. The
history of Japan is really the history of her religion. No single
fact in this connection is more significant than the fact that the
ancient Japanese term for government--matsuri-goto--signifies
liberally "matters of worship." Later on we shall find that not only
government, but almost everything in Japanese society, derives
directly or indirectly from this ancestor-cult; and that in all
matters the dead, rather than the living, have been the rulers of the
nation and--the shapers of its destinies.



Three stages of ancestor-worship are to be distinguished in the
general course of religious and social evolution; and each of these
finds illustration in the history of Japanese society. The first
stage is that which exists before the establishment of a settled
civilization, when there is yet no national ruler, and when the unit
of society is the great patriarchal family, with its elders or
war-chiefs for lords. Under these conditions, the spirits of the
family-ancestors only are worshipped;--each family propitiating its
own dead, and recognizing no other form of worship. As the
patriarchal families, later on, become grouped into tribal clans,
there grows up the custom of tribal sacrifice to the spirits of the
clan-rulers;--this cult being superadded to the family-cult, and
marking the second stage of ancestor-worship. Finally, with the union
of all the clans or tribes under one supreme head, there is developed
the custom of propitiating the spirits of national, rulers. This
third form of the cult becomes the obligatory religion [34] of the
country; but it does not replace either of the preceding cults: the
three continue to exist together.

Though, in the present state of our knowledge, the evolution in Japan
of these three stages of ancestor-worship is but faintly traceable,
we can divine tolerably well, from various records, how the permanent
forms of the cult were first developed out of the earlier
funeral-rites. Between the ancient Japanese funeral customs and those
of antique Europe, there was a vast difference,--a difference
indicating, as regards Japan, a far more primitive social condition.
In Greece and in Italy it was an early custom to bury the family dead
within the limits of the family estate; and the Greek and Roman laws
of property grew out of this practice. Sometimes the dead were buried
close to the house. The author of 'La Cite Antique' cites, among
other ancient texts bearing upon the subject, an interesting
invocation from the tragedy of Helen, by Euripides:--"All hail! my
father's tomb! I buried thee, Proteus, at the place where men pass
out, that I might often greet thee; and so, even as I go out and in,
I, thy son Theoclymenus, call upon thee, father! ..." But in ancient
Japan, men fled from the neighbourhood of death. It was long the
custom to abandon, either temporarily, or permanently, the house in
which a death occurred; [35] and we can scarcely suppose that, at any
time, it was thought desirable to bury the dead close to the
habitation of the surviving members of the household. Some Japanese
authorities declare that in the very earliest ages there was no
burial, and that corpses were merely conveyed to desolate places, and
there abandoned to wild creatures. Be this as it may, we have
documentary evidence, of an unmistakable sort, concerning the early
funeral-rites as they existed when the custom of burying had become
established,--rites weird and strange, and having nothing in common
with the practices of settled civilization. There is reason to
believe that the family-dwelling was at first permanently, not
temporarily, abandoned to the dead; and in view of the fact that the
dwelling was a wooden hut of very simple structure, there is nothing
improbable in the supposition. At all events the corpse was left for
a certain period, called the period of mourning, either in the
abandoned house where the death occurred, or in a shelter especially
built for the purpose; and, during the mourning period, offerings of
food and drink were set before the dead, and ceremonies performed
without the house. One of these ceremonies consisted in the recital
of poems in praise of the dead,--which poems were called shinobigoto.
There was music also of flutes and drums, and dancing; and at night a
fire was kept burning before the house. After all this had been [36]
done for the fixed period of mourning--eight days, according to some
authorities, fourteen according to others--the corpse was interred.
It is probable that the deserted house may thereafter have become an
ancestral temple, or ghost-house,--prototype of the Shinto miya.

At an early time,--though when we do not know,--it certainly became
the custom to erect a moya, or "mourning-house" in the event of a
death; and the rites were performed at the mourning-house prior to
the interment. The manner of burial was very simple: there were yet
no tombs in the literal meaning of the term, and no tombstones. Only
a mound was thrown up over the grave; and the size of the mound
varied according to the rank of the dead.

The custom of deserting the house in which a death took place would
accord with the theory of a nomadic ancestry for the Japanese people:
it was a practice totally incompatible with a settled civilization
like that of the early Greeks and Romans, whose customs in regard to
burial presuppose small landholdings in permanent occupation. But
there may have been, even in early times, some exceptions to general
custom--exceptions made by necessity. To-day, in various parts of the
country, and perhaps more particularly in districts remote from
temples, it is the custom for farmers to bury their dead upon their
own lands.

[37]--At regular intervals after burial, ceremonies were performed
at the graves; and food and drink were then served to the spirits.
When the spirit-tablet had been introduced from China, and a true
domestic cult established, the practice of making offerings at the
place of burial was not discontinued. It survives to the present
time,--both in the Shinto and the Buddhist rite; and every spring an
Imperial messenger presents at the tomb of the Emperor Jimmu, the
same offerings of birds and fish and seaweed, rice and rice-wine,
which were made to the spirit of the Founder of the Empire
twenty-five hundred years ago. But before the period of Chinese
influence the family would seem to have worshipped its dead only
before the mortuary house, or at the grave; and the spirits were yet
supposed to dwell especially in their tombs, with access to some
mysterious subterranean world. They were supposed to need other
things besides nourishment; and it was customary to place in the
grave various articles for their ghostly use,--a sword, for example,
in the case of a warrior; a mirror in the case of a woman,--together
with certain objects, especially prized during life,--such as objects
of precious metal, and polished stones or gems .... At this stage of
ancestor-worship, when the spirits are supposed to require shadowy
service of a sort corresponding to that exacted during their
life-time in the body, we should expect to hear of [38] human
sacrifices as well as of animal sacrifices. At the funerals of great
personages such sacrifices were common. Owing to beliefs of which all
knowledge has been lost, these sacrifices assumed a character much
more cruel than that of the immolations of the Greek Homeric epoch.
The human victims* were buried up to the neck in a circle about the
grave, and thus left to perish under the beaks of birds and the teeth
of wild beasts. [*How the horses and other animals were sacrificed,
does not clearly appear.] The term applied to this form of
immolation,--hitogaki, or "human hedge,"--implies a considerable
number of victims in each case. This custom was abolished, by the
Emperor Suinin, about nineteen hundred years ago; and the Nihongi
declares that it was then an ancient custom. Being grieved by the
crying of the victims interred in the funeral mound erected over the
grave of his brother, Yamato-hiko-no-mikoto, the Emperor is recorded
to have said: "It is a very painful thing to force those whom one has
loved in life to follow one in death. Though it be an ancient custom,
why follow it, if it is bad? From this time forward take counsel to
put a stop to the following of the dead." Nomi-no-Sukune, a
court-noble--now apotheosized as the patron of wrestlers--then
suggested the substitution of earthen images of men and horses for
the living victims; and his suggestion was approved. The hitogaki,
was thus abolished; but compulsory as well as voluntary following of
the [39] dead certainly continued for many hundred years after, since
we find the Emperor Kotoku issuing an edict on the subject in the
year 646 A.D.:--

"When a man dies, there have been cases of people sacrificing
themselves by strangulation, or of strangling others by way of
sacrifice, or of compelling the dead man's horse to be sacrificed, or
of burying valuables in the grave in honour of the dead, or of
cutting off the hair and stabbing the thighs and [in that condition]
pronouncing a eulogy on the dead. Let all such old customs be
entirely discontinued."--Nihongi; Aston's translation.

As regarded compulsory sacrifice and popular custom, this edict may
have had the immediate effect desired; but voluntary human sacrifices
were not definitively suppressed. With the rise of the military power
there gradually came into existence another custom of junshi, or
following one's lord in death,--suicide by the sword. It is said to
have begun about 1333, when the last of the Hojo regents, Takatoki,
performed suicide, and a number of his retainers took their own lives
by harakiri, in order to follow their master. It may be doubted
whether this incident really established the practice. But by the
sixteenth century junshi had certainly become an honoured custom
among the samurai. Loyal retainers esteemed it a duty to kill
themselves after the death of their lord, in order to attend upon him
during his ghostly journey. A thousand years [40] of Buddhist
teaching had not therefore sufficed to eradicate all primitive
notions' of sacrificial duty. The practice continued into the time of
the Tokugawa shogunate, when Iyeyasu made laws to check it. These
laws were rigidly applied,--the entire family of the suicide being
held responsible for a case of junshi: yet the custom cannot be said
to have become extinct until considerably after the beginning of the
era of Meiji. Even during my own time there have been
survivals,--some of a very touching kind: suicides performed in hope
of being able to serve or aid the spirit of master or husband or
parent in the invisible world. Perhaps the strangest case was that of
a boy fourteen years old, who killed himself in order to wait upon
the spirit of a child, his master's little son.

The peculiar character of the early human sacrifices at graves, the
character of the funeral-rites, the abandonment of the house in which
death had occurred.--all prove that the early ancestor-worship was of
a decidedly primitive kind. This is suggested also by the peculiar
Shinto horror of death as pollution: even at this day to attend a
funeral,--unless the funeral be conducted after the Shinto rite,--is
religious defilement. The ancient legend of Izanagi's descent to the
nether world, in search of his lost spouse, illustrates the terrible
beliefs that once existed as to goblin-powers presiding over decay.
[41] Between the horror of death as corruption, and the apotheosis of
the ghost, there is nothing incongruous: we must understand the
apotheosis itself as a propitiation. This earliest Way of the Gods
was a religion of perpetual fear. Not ordinary homes only were
deserted after a death: even the Emperors, during many centuries,
were wont to change their capital after the death of a predecessor.
But, gradually, out of the primal funeral-rites, a higher cult was
evolved. The mourning-house, or moya, became transformed into the
Shinto temple, which still retains the shape of the primitive hut.
Then under Chinese influence, the ancestral cult became established
in the home; and Buddhism at a later day maintained this domestic
cult. By degrees the household religion became a religion of
tenderness as well as of duty, and changed and softened the thoughts
of men about their dead. As early as the eighth century,
ancestor-worship appears to have developed the three principal forms
under which it still exists; and thereafter the family-cult began to
assume a character which offers many resemblances to the domestic
religion of the old European civilizations.

Let us now glance at the existing forms of this domestic cult,--the
universal religion of Japan. In every home there is a shrine devoted
to it. If the family profess only the Shinto belief, this shrine,
[42] or mitamaya* ("august-spirit-dwelling"),--tiny model of a Shinto
temple,--is placed upon a shelf fixed against the wall of some inner
chamber, at a height of about six feet from the floor. Such a shelf
is called Mitama-San-no-tana, or--"Shelf of the august spirits." [*It
is more popularly termed miya, "august house,"--a name given to the
ordinary Shinto temples.] In the shrine are placed thin tablets of
white wood, inscribed with the names of the household dead. Such
tablets are called by a name signifying "spirit-substitutes"
(mitamashiro), or by a probably older name signifying
"spirit-sticks." ... If the family worships its ancestors according
to the Buddhist rite, the mortuary tablets are placed in the Buddhist
household-shrine, or Butsudan, which usually occupies the upper shelf
of an alcove in one of the inner apartments. Buddhist
mortuary-tablets (with some exceptions) are called ihai,--a term
signifying "soul-commemoration." They are lacquered and gilded,
usually having a carved lotos-flower as pedestal; and they do not, as
a rule, bear the real, but only the religious and posthumous name of
the dead. Now it is important to observe that, in either cult, the
mortuary tablet actually suggests a miniature tombstone--which is a
fact of some evolutional interest, though the evolution itself should
be Chinese rather than Japanese. The plain gravestones in Shinto
cemeteries resemble in form the simple [43] wooden ghost-sticks, or
spirit-sticks; while the Buddhist monuments in the old-fashioned
Buddhist graveyards are shaped like the ihai, of which the form is
slightly varied to indicate sex and age, which is also the case with
the tombstone.

The number of mortuary tablets in a household shrine does not
generally exceed five or six,--only grandparents and parents and the
recently dead being thus represented; but the name of remoter
ancestors are inscribed upon scrolls, which are kept in the Butsudan
or the mitamaya.

Whatever be the family rite, prayers are repeated and offerings are
placed before the ancestral tablets every day. The nature of the
offerings and the character of the prayers depend upon the religion
of the household; but the essential duties of the cult are everywhere
the same. These duties are not to be neglected under any
circumstances; their performance in these times is usually intrusted
to the elders, or to the women of the household.*

[*Not, however, upon any public occasion,--such as a gathering of
relatives at the home for a religious anniversary: at such times the
rites are performed by the head of the household.]

Speaking of the ancient custom (once prevalent in every Japanese
household, and still observed in Shinto homes) of making offerings to
the deities of the cooking range and of food, Sir Ernest Satow
observes: "The rites in honour of these gods were at first performed
by the head of the household; but in after-times the duty came to he
delegated to the women of the family" (Ancient Japanese Rituals). We
may infer that in regard to the ancestral rites likewise, the same
transfer of duties occurred at an early time, for obvious reasons of
convenience. When the duty devolves upon the elders of the
family--grandfather and grandmother--it is usually the grandmother
who attends to the offerings. In the Greek and Roman household the
performance of the domestic rites appears to have been obligatory
upon the head of the household; but we know that the women took part
in them.

[44] There is no long ceremony, no imperative rule about prayers,
nothing solemn: the food-offerings are selected out of the family
cooking; the murmured or whispered invocations are short and few.
But, trifling as the rites may seem, their performance must never be
overlooked. Not to make the offerings is a possibility undreamed of:
so long as the family exists they must be made.

To describe the details of the domestic rite would require much
space,--not because they are complicated in themselves, but because
they are of a sort unfamiliar to Western experience, and vary
according to the sect of the family. But to consider the details will
not be necessary: the important matter is to consider the religion
and its beliefs in relation to conduct and character. It should be
recognized that no religion is more sincere, no faith more touching
than this domestic worship, which regards the dead as continuing to
form a part of the household life, and needing still the affection
and the respect of their children and kindred. Originating in those
dim ages when fear was stronger than love,--when the wish to please
the ghosts of the departed must have been chiefly inspired by dread
of their anger,--the cult at last developed into a religion of
affection; and this it yet remains. The belief that the dead [45]
need affection, that to neglect them is a cruelty, that their
happiness depends upon duty, is a belief that has almost cast out the
primitive fear of their displeasure. They are not thought of as dead:
they are believed to remain among those who loved them. Unseen they
guard the home, and watch over the welfare of its inmates: they hover
nightly in the glow of the shrine-lamp; and the stirring of its flame
is the motion of them. They dwell mostly within their lettered
tablets;--sometimes they can animate a tablet,--change it into the
substance of a human body, and return in that body to active life, in
order to succour and console. From their shrine they observe and hear
what happens in the house; they share the family joys and sorrows;
they delight in the voices and the warmth of the life about them.
They want affection; but the morning and the evening greetings of the
family are enough to make them happy. They require nourishment; but
the vapour of food contents them. They are exacting only as regards
the daily fulfilment of duty. They were the givers of life, the
givers of wealth, the makers and teachers of the present: they
represent the past of the race, and all its sacrifices;--whatever the
living possess is from them. Yet how little do they require in
return! Scarcely more than to be thanked, as the founders and
guardians of the home, in simple words like these:--"For aid
received, by day and by night, accept, August Ones, our reverential
gratitude."... [46]

To forget or neglect them, to treat them with rude indifference, is
the proof of an evil heart; to cause them shame by ill-conduct, to
disgrace their name by bad actions, is the supreme crime. They
represent the moral experience of the race: whosoever denies that
experience denies them also, and falls to the level of the beast, or
below it. They represent the unwritten law, the traditions of the
commune, the duties of all to all: whosoever offends against these,
sins against the dead. And, finally, they represent the mystery of
the invisible: to Shinto belief, at least, they are gods.

It is to be remembered, of course, that the Japanese word for gods,
Kami, does not imply, any more than did the old Latin term,
dii-manes, ideas like those which have become associated with the
modern notion of divinity. The Japanese term might be more closely
rendered by some such expression as "the Superiors," "the Higher
Ones"; and it was formerly applied to living rulers as well as to
deities and ghosts. But it implies considerably more than the idea of
a disembodied spirit; for, according to old Shinto teaching the dead
became world-rulers. They were the cause of all natural events,--of
winds, rains, and tides, of buddings and ripenings, of growth and
decay, of everything desirable or dreadful. They formed a kind of
subtler element,--an ancestral aether,--universally extending and
[47] unceasingly operating. Their powers, when united for any
purpose, were resistless; and in time of national peril they were
invoked en masse for aid against the foe .... Thus, to the eyes of
faith, behind each family ghost there extended the measureless
shadowy power of countless Kami; and the sense of duty to the
ancestor was deepened by dim awe of the forces controlling the
world,--the whole invisible Vast. To primitive Shinto conception the
universe was filled with ghosts;--to later Shinto conception the
ghostly condition was not limited by place or time, even in the case
of individual spirits. "Although," wrote Hirata, "the home of the
spirits is in the Spirit-house, they are equally present wherever
they are worshipped,--being gods, and therefore ubiquitous."

The Buddhist dead are not called gods, but Buddhas (Hotoke),--which
term, of course, expresses a pious hope, rather than a faith. The
belief is that they are only on their way to some higher state of
existence; and they should not be invoked or worshipped after the
manner of the Shinto gods: prayers should be said FOR them, not, as a
rule, TO them.* [*Certain Buddhist rituals prove exceptions to this
teaching.] But the vast majority of Japanese Buddhists are also
followers of Shinto; and the two faiths, though seemingly
incongruous, have long been reconciled in the popular mind. The
Buddhist doctrine has [48] therefore modified the ideas attaching to
the cult much less deeply than might be supposed.

In all patriarchal societies with a settled civilization, there is
evolved, out of the worship of ancestors, a Religion of Filial Piety.
Filial piety still remains the supreme virtue among civilized peoples
possessing an ancestor-cult.... By filial piety must not be
understood, however, what is commonly signified by the English
term,--the devotion of children to parents. We must understand the
word "piety" rather in its classic meaning, as the pietas of the
early Romans,--that is to say, as the religious sense of household
duty. Reverence for the dead, as well as the sentiment of duty
towards the living; the affection of children to parents, and the
affection of parents to children; the mutual duties of husband and
wife; the duties likewise of sons-in-law and daughters-in-law to the
family as a body; the duties of servant to master, and of master to
dependent,--all these were included under the term. The family itself
was a religion; the ancestral home a temple. And so we find the
family and the home to be in Japan, even at the present day. Filial
piety in Japan does not mean only the duty of children to parents and
grandparents: it means still more, the cult of the ancestors,
reverential service to the dead, the gratitude of the present to the
past, and the conduct of the individual in relation [49] to the
entire household. Hirata therefore declared that all virtues derived
from the worship of ancestors; and his words, as translated by Sir
Ernest Satow, deserve particular attention:--

"It is the duty of a subject to be diligent in worshipping his
ancestors, whose minister he should consider himself to be. The
custom of adoption arose from the natural desire of having some one
to perform sacrifices; and this desire ought not to be rendered of no
avail by neglect. Devotion to the memory of ancestors is the
mainspring of all virtues. No one who discharges his duty to them
will ever be disrespectful to the gods or to his living parents. Such
a man also will be faithful to his prince, loyal to his friends, and
kind and gentle to his wife and children. For the essence of this
devotion is indeed filial piety."

From the sociologist's point of view, Hirata is right: it is
unquestionably true that the whole system of Far-Eastern ethics
derives from the religion of the household. By aid of that cult have
been evolved all ideas of duty to the living as well as to the
dead,--the sentiment of reverence, the sentiment of loyalty, the
spirit of self-sacrifice, and the spirit of patriotism. What filial
piety signifies as a religious force can best be imagined from the
fact that you can buy life in the East--that it has its price in the
market. This religion is the religion of China, and of countries
adjacent; and life is for sale in China. It was the filial piety of
China that rendered [50] possible the completion of the Panama
railroad, where to strike the soil was to liberate death,--where the
land devoured labourers by the thousand, until white and black labour
could no more be procured in quantity sufficient for the work. But
labour could be obtained from China--any amount of labour--at the
cost of life; and the cost was paid; and multitudes of men came from
the East to toil and die, in order that the price of their lives
might be sent to their families.... I have no doubt that, were the
sacrifice imperatively demanded, life could be as readily bought in
Japan,--though not, perhaps, so cheaply. Where this religion
prevails, the individual is ready to give his life, in a majority of
cases, for the family, the home, the ancestors. And the filial piety
impelling such sacrifice becomes, by extension, the loyalty that will
sacrifice even the family itself for the sake of the lord,--or, by
yet further extension, the loyalty that prays, like Kusunoki
Masashige, for seven successive lives to lay down on behalf of the
sovereign. Out of filial piety indeed has been developed the whole
moral power that protects the state,--the power also that has seldom
failed to impose the rightful restraints upon official despotism
whenever that despotism grew dangerous to the common weal.

Probably the filial piety that centred about the domestic altars of
the ancient West differed in little [51] from that which yet rules
the most eastern East. But we miss in Japan the Aryan hearth, the
family altar with its perpetual fire. The Japanese home-religion
represents, apparently, a much earlier stage of the cult than that
which existed within historic time among the Greeks and Romans. The
homestead in Old Japan was not a stable institution like the Greek or
the Roman home; the custom of burying the family dead upon the family
estate never became general; the dwelling itself never assumed a
substantial and lasting character. It could not be literally said of
the Japanese warrior, as of the Roman, that he fought pro aris et
focis. There was neither altar nor sacred fire: the place of these
was taken by the spirit-shelf or shrine, with its tiny lamp, kindled
afresh each evening; and, in early times, there were no Japanese
images of divinities. For Lares and Penates there were only the
mortuary-tablets of the ancestors, and certain little tablets bearing
names of other gods--tutelar gods .... The presence of these frail
wooden objects still makes the home; and they may be, of course,
transported anywhere.

To apprehend the full meaning of ancestor-worship as a family
religion, a living faith, is now difficult for the Western mind. We
are able to imagine only in the vaguest way how our Aryan forefathers
felt and thought about their dead. But in the [52] living beliefs of
Japan we find much to suggest the nature of the old Greek piety. Each
member of the family supposes himself, or herself, under perpetual
ghostly surveillance. Spirit-eyes are watching every act; spirit-ears
are listening to every word. Thoughts too, not less than deeds, are
visible to the gaze of the dead: the heart must be pure, the mind
must be under control, within the presence of the spirits. Probably
the influence of such beliefs, uninterruptedly exerted upon conduct
during thousands of years, did much to form the charming side of
Japanese character. Yet there is nothing stern or solemn in this
home-religion to-day,--nothing of that rigid and unvarying discipline
supposed by Fustel de Coulanges to have especially characterized the
Roman cult. It is a religion rather of gratitude and tenderness; the
dead being served by the household as if they were actually present
in the body .... I fancy that if we were able to enter for a moment
into the vanished life of some old Greek city, we should find the
domestic religion there not less cheerful than the Japanese home-cult
remains to-day. I imagine that Greek children, three thousand years
ago, must have watched, like the Japanese children of to-day, for a
chance to steal some of the good things offered to the ghosts of the
ancestors; and I fancy that Greek parents must have chidden quite as
gently as Japanese parents [53] chide in this era of Meiji,--mingling
reproof with instruction, and hinting of weird possibilities.*

[*Food presented to the dead may afterwards be eaten by the elders of
the household, or given to pilgrims; but it is said that if children
eat of it, they will grow with feeble memories, and incapable of
becoming scholars.]




The great general idea, the fundamental idea, underlying every
persistent ancestor-worship, is that the welfare of the living
depends upon the welfare of the dead. Under the influence of this
idea, and of the cult based upon it, were developed the early
organization of the family, the laws regarding property and
succession, the whole structure, in short, of ancient
society,--whether in the Western or the Eastern world.

But before considering how the social structure in old Japan was
shaped by the ancestral cult, let me again remind the reader that
there were at first no other gods than the dead. Even when Japanese
ancestor-worship evolved a mythology, its gods were only transfigured
ghosts,--and this is the history of all mythology. The ideas of
heaven and hell did not exist among the primitive Japanese, nor any
notion of metempsychosis. The Buddhist doctrine of rebirth--a late
borrowing--was totally inconsistent with the archaic Japanese
beliefs, and required an elaborate metaphysical system to support it.
But we may suppose the early ideas of the Japanese about the dead to
have been much [56] like those of the Greeks of the pre-Homeric era.
There was an underground world to which spirits descended; but they
were supposed to haunt by preference their own graves, or their
"ghost-houses." Only by slow degrees did the notion of their power of
ubiquity become evolved. But even then they were thought to be
particularly attached to their tombs, shrines, and homesteads. Hirata
wrote, in the early part of the nineteenth century: "The spirits of
the dead continue to exist in the unseen world which is everywhere
about us; and they all become gods of varying character and degrees
of influence. Some reside in temples built in their honour; others
hover near their tombs; and they continue to render service to their
prince, parents, wives, and children, as when in the body." Evidently
"the unseen world" was thought to be in some sort a duplicate of the
visible world, and dependent upon the help of the living for its
prosperity. The dead and the living were mutually dependent. The
all-important necessity for the ghost was sacrificial worship; the
all-important necessity for the man was to provide for the future
cult of his own spirit; and to die without assurance of a cult was
the supreme calamity .... Remembering these facts we can understand
better the organization of the patriarchal family,--shaped to
maintain and to provide for the cult of its dead, any neglect of
which cult was believed to involve misfortune.

[57] The reader is doubtless aware that in the old Aryan family the
bond of union was not the bond of affection, but a bond of religion,
to which natural affection was altogether subordinate. This condition
characterizes the patriarchal family wherever ancestor-worship
exists. Now the Japanese family, like the ancient Greek or Roman
family, was a religious society in the strictest sense of the term;
and a religious society it yet remains. Its organization was
primarily shaped in accordance with the requirements of
ancestor-worship; its later imported doctrines of filial piety had
been already developed in China to meet the needs of an older and
similar religion. We might expect to find in the structure, the laws,
and the customs of the Japanese family many points of likeness to the
structure and the traditional laws of the old Aryan
household,--because the law of sociological evolution admits of only
minor exceptions. And many such points of likeness are obvious. The
materials for a serious comparative study have not yet been
collected: very much remains to be learned regarding the past history
of the Japanese family. But, along certain general lines, the
resemblances between domestic institutions in ancient Europe and
domestic institutions in the Far East can be clearly established.

Alike in the early European and in the old Japanese civilization it
was believed that the prosperity [58] of the family depended upon the
exact fulfilment of the duties of the ancestral cult; and, to a
considerable degree, this belief rules the life of the Japanese
family to-day. It is still thought that the good fortune of the
household depends on the observance of its cult, and that the
greatest possible calamity is to die without leaving a male heir to
perform the rites and to make the offerings. The paramount duty of
filial piety among the early Greeks and Romans was to provide for the
perpetuation of the family cult; and celibacy was therefore generally
forbidden,--the obligation to marry being enforced by opinion where
not enforced by legislation. Among the free classes of Old Japan,
marriage was also, as a general rule, obligatory in the case of a
male heir: otherwise, where celibacy was not condemned by law, it was
condemned by custom. To die without offspring was, in the case of a
younger son, chiefly a personal misfortune; to die without leaving a
male heir, in the case of an elder son and successor, was a crime
against the ancestors,--the cult being thereby threatened with
extinction. No excuse existed for remaining childless: the family law
in Japan, precisely as in ancient Europe, having amply provided
against such a contingency. In case that a wife proved barren, she
might be divorced. In case that there were reasons for not divorcing
her, a concubine might be taken for the purpose of obtaining an heir.
Furthermore, every family representative was privileged [59] to adopt
an heir. An unworthy son, again, might be disinherited, and another
young man adopted in his place. Finally, in case that a man had
daughters but no son, the succession and the continuance of the cult
could be assured by adopting a husband for the eldest daughter.

But, as in the antique European family, daughters could not inherit:
descent being in the male line, it was necessary to have a male heir.
In old Japanese belief, as in old Greek and Roman belief, the father,
not the mother, was the life-giver; the creative principle was
masculine; the duty of maintaining the cult rested with the man, not
with the woman.*

[*Wherever, among ancestor-worshipping races, descent is in the male
line, the cult follows the male line. But the reader is doubtless
aware that a still more primitive form of society than the
patriarchal--the matriarchal--is supposed to have had its
ancestor-worship. Mr. Spencer observes: "What has happened when
descent in the female line obtains, is not clear. I have met with no
statement showing that, in societies characterized by this usage, the
duty of administering to the double of the dead man devolved on one
of his children rather than on others,"--Principles of Sociology,
Vol. III, section 601.]

The woman shared the cult; but she could not maintain it. Besides,
the daughters of the family, being destined, as a general rule, to
marry into other households, could bear only a temporary relation to
the home-cult. It was necessary that the religion of the wife should
be the religion of the husband; and the Japanese, like the Greek
woman, on marrying into another household, necessarily became
attached to the cult of her husband's family. For this reason
especially the females in the patriarchal [60] family are not equal
to the males; the sister cannot rank with the brother. It is true
that the Japanese daughter, like the Greek daughter, could remain
attached to her own family even after marriage, providing that a
husband were adopted for her,--that is to say, taken into the family
as a son. But even in this case, she could only share in the cult,
which it then became the duty of the adopted husband to maintain.

The constitution of the patriarchal family everywhere derives from
its ancestral cult; and before considering the subjects of marriage
and adoption in Japan, it will be necessary to say something about
the ancient family-organization. The ancient family was called
uji,--a word said to have originally signified the same thing as the
modern term uchi,--"interior," or "household," but certainly used
from very early times in the sense of "name"--clan-name especially.
There were two kinds of uji: the o-uji, or great families, and the
ko-uji, or lesser families,--either term signifying a large body of
persons united by kinship, and by the cult of a common ancestor. The
o-uji corresponded in some degree to the Greek (Greek genos) or the
Roman gens: the ko-uji were its branches, and subordinate to it. The
unit of society was the uji. Each o-uji, with its dependent ko-uji,
represented something like a phratry or curia; and all the larger
groups making [61] up the primitive Japanese society were but
multiplications of the uji,--whether we call them clans, tribes, or
hordes. With the advent of a settled civilization, the greater groups
necessarily divided and subdivided; but the smallest subdivision
still retained its primal organization. Even the modern Japanese
family partly retains that organization. It does not mean only a
household: it means rather what the Greek or Roman family became
after the dissolution of the gens. With ourselves the family has been
disintegrated: when we talk of a man's family, we mean his wife and
children. But the Japanese family is still a large group. As
marriages take place early, it may consist, even as a household, of
great-grandparents, grandparents, parents, and children--sons and
daughters of several generations; but it commonly extends much beyond
the limits of one household. In early times it might constitute the
entire population of a village or town; and there are still in Japan
large communities of persons all bearing the same family name. In
some districts it was formerly the custom to keep all the children,
as far as possible, within the original family group--husbands being
adopted for all the daughters. The group might thus consist of sixty
or more persons, dwelling under the same roof; and the houses were of
course constructed, by successive extension, so as to meet the
requirement. (I am mentioning these curious facts [62] only by way of
illustration.) But the greater uji, after the race had settled down,
rapidly multiplied; and although there are said to be
house-communities still in some remote districts of the country, the
primal patriarchal groups must have been broken up almost everywhere
at some very early period. Thereafter the main cult of the uji did
not cease to be the cult also of its sub-divisions: all members of
the original gens continued to worship the common ancestor, or
uji-no-kami, "the god of the uji." By degrees the ghost-house of the
uji-no-kami became transformed into the modern Shinto parish-temple;
and the ancestral spirit became the local tutelar god, whose modern
appellation, ujigami, is but a shortened form of his ancient title,
uji-no-kami. Meanwhile, after the general establishment of the
domestic cult, each separate household maintained the special cult of
its own dead, in addition to the communal cult. This religious
condition still continues. The family may include several households;
but each household maintains the cult of its dead. And the
family-group, whether large or small, preserves its ancient
constitution and character; it is still a religious society, exacting
obedience, on the part of all its members, to traditional custom.

So much having been explained, the customs regarding marriage and
adoption, in their relation [63] to the family hierarchy, can be
clearly understood. But a word first regarding this hierarchy, as it
exists to-day. Theoretically the power of the head of the family is
still supreme in the household. All must obey the head. Furthermore
the females must obey the males--the wives, the husbands; and the
younger members of the family are subject to the elder members. The
children must not only obey the parents and grandparents, but must
observe among themselves the domestic law of seniority: thus the
younger brother should obey the elder brother, and the younger sister
the elder sister. The rule of precedence is enforced gently, and is
cheerfully obeyed even in small matters: for example, at meal-time,
the elder boy is served first, the second son next, and so on,--an
exception being made in the case of a very young child, who is not
obliged to wait. This custom accounts for an amusing popular term
often applied in jest to a second son, "Master Cold-Rice"
(Hiameshi-San); as the second son, having to wait until both infants
and elders have been served, is not likely to find his portion
desirably hot when it reaches him .... Legally, the family can have
but one responsible head. It may be the grandfather, the father, or
the eldest son; and it is generally the eldest son, because according
to a custom of Chinese origin, the old folks usually resign their
active authority as soon as the eldest son is able to take charge of
affairs. [64] The subordination of young to old, and of females to
males,--in fact the whole existing constitution of the
family,--suggests a great deal in regard to the probably stricter
organization of the patriarchal family, whose chief was at once ruler
and priest, with almost unlimited powers. The organization was
primarily, and still remains, religious: the marital bond did not
constitute the family; and the relation of the parent to the
household depended upon his or her relation to the family as a
religious body. To-day also, the girl adopted into a household as
wife ranks only as an adopted child: marriage signifies adoption. She
is called "flower-daughter" (hana-yome). In like manner, and for the
same reasons, the young man received into a household as a husband of
one of the daughters, ranks merely as an adopted son. The adopted
bride or bridegroom is necessarily subject to the elders, and may be
dismissed by their decision. As for the adopted husband, his position
is both delicate and difficult,--as an old Japanese proverb bears
witness: Konuka san-go areba, mukoyoshi to naruna ("While you have
even three go* of rice-bran left, do not become a son-in-law"). [*A
go is something more than a pint.] Jacob does not have to wait for
Rachel: he is given to Rachel on demand; and his service then begins.
And after twice seven years of service, Jacob may be sent away. In
that event his children do not any more belong to him. [65] but to
the family. His adoption may have had nothing to do with affection;
and his dismissal may have nothing to do with misconduct. Such
matters, however they may be settled in law, are really decided by
family interests--interests relating to the maintenance of the house
and of its cult.**

[**Recent legislation has been in favour of the mukoyoshi; but, as a
rule, the law is seldom resorted to except by men dismissed from the
family for misconduct, and anxious to make profit by the dismissal.]

It should not be forgotten that, although a daughter-in-law or a
son-in-law could in former times be dismissed almost at will, the
question of marriage in the old Japanese family was a matter of
religious importance,--marriage being one of the chief duties of
filial piety. This was also the case in the early Greek and Roman
family; and the marriage ceremony was performed, as it is now
performed in Japan, not at a temple, but in the home. It was a rite
of the family religion,--the rite by which the bride was adopted into
the cult in the supposed presence of the ancestral spirits. Among the
primitive Japanese there was probably no corresponding ceremony; but
after the establishment of the domestic cult, the marriage ceremony
became a religious rite, and this it still remains. Ordinary
marriages are not, however, performed before the household shrine or
in front of the ancestral tablets, except under certain
circumstances. The rule, as regards such ordinary marriages, seems to
be that [66] if the parents of the bridegroom are yet alive, this is
not done; but if they are dead, then the bridegroom leads his bride
before their mortuary tablets, where she makes obeisance. Among the
nobility, in former times at least, the marriage ceremony appears to
have been more distinctly religious,--judging from the following
curious relation in the book Shorei-Hikki, or "Record of
Ceremonies"*: "At the weddings of the great, the bridal-chamber is
composed of three rooms thrown into one [by removal of the
sliding-screens ordinarily separating them], and newly decorated ....
The shrine for the image of the family-god is placed upon a shelf
adjoining the sleeping-place." It is noteworthy also that Imperial
marriages are always officially announced to the ancestors; and that
the marriage of the heir-apparent, or other male offspring of the
Imperial house, is performed before the Kashiko-dokoro, or imperial
temple of the ancestors, which stands within the palace-grounds.**
[**That was the case at the marriage of the present Crown-Prince.] As
a general rule it would appear that the evolution of the
marriage-ceremony in Japan chiefly followed Chinese precedent; and in
the Chinese patriarchal family the ceremony is in its own way quite
as much of a religious rite as the early Greek or Roman marriage. And
though the relation of the Japanese [67] rite to the family cult is
less marked, it becomes sufficiently clear upon investigation. The
alternate drinking of rice-wine, by bridegroom and bride, from the
same vessels, corresponds in a sort to the Roman confarreatio. By the
wedding-rite the bride is adopted into the family religion. She is
adopted not only by the living but by the dead; she must thereafter
revere the ancestors of her husband as her own ancestors; and should
there be no elders in the household, it will become her duty to make
the offerings, as representative of her husband. With the cult of her
own family she has nothing more to do; and the funeral ceremonies
performed upon her departure from the parental roof,--the solemn
sweeping-out of the house-rooms, the lighting of the death-fire
before the gate,--are significant of this religious separation.

[*The translation is Mr. Mitford's.  There are no "images" of the
family-god, and I suppose that the family's Shinto-shrine is meant,
with its ancestral tablets.]

Speaking of the Greek and Roman marriage, M. de Coulanges
observes:--"Une telle religion ne pouvait pas admettre la polygamie."
As relating to the highly developed domestic cult of those
communities considered by the author of La Cite Antique, his
statement will scarcely be called in question. But as regards
ancestor-worship in general, it would be incorrect; since polygamy or
polygyny, and polyandry may coexist with ruder forms of
ancestor-worship. The Western-Aryan societies, in the epoch studied
by M. de Coulanges, were practically [68] monogamic. The ancient
Japanese society was polygynous; and polygyny persisted, after the
establishment of the domestic cult. In early times, the marital
relation itself would seem to have been indefinite. No distinction
was made between the wife and the concubines: "they were classed
together as 'women.'"* [*Satow: The Revival of Pure Shintau] Probably
under Chinese influence the distinction was afterwards sharply drawn;
and with the progress of civilization, the general tendency was
towards monogamy, although the ruling classes remained polygynous. In
the 54th article of Iyeyasu's legacy, this phase of the social
condition is clearly expressed,--a condition which prevailed down to
the present era:--

"The position a wife holds towards a concubine is the same as that of
a lord to his vassal. The Emperor has twelve imperial concubines. The
princes may have eight concubines. Officers of the highest class may
have five mistresses. A Samurai may have two handmaids. All below
this are ordinary married men."

This would suggest that concubinage had long been (with some possible
exceptions) an exclusive privilege; and that it should have persisted
down to the period of the abolition of the daimiates and of the
military class, is sufficiently explained by the militant character
of the ancient society.* Though [69] it is untrue that domestic
ancestor-worship cannot coexist with polygamy or polygyny (Mr.
Spencer's term is the most inclusive), it is at least true that such
worship is favoured by the monogamic relation, and tends therefore to
establish it,--since monogamy insures to the family succession a
stability that no other relation can offer. We may say that, although
the old Japanese society was not monogamic, the natural tendency was
towards monogamy, as the condition best according with the religion
of the family, and with the moral feeling of the masses.

[*See especially Herbert Spencer's chapter, "The Family," in Vol. I,
Principles of Sociology, section 315.]

Once that the domestic ancestor-cult had become universally
established, the question of marriage, as a duty of filial pity,
could not be judiciously left to the will of the young people
themselves. It was a matter to be decided by the family, not by the
children; for mutual inclination could not be suffered to interfere
with the requirements of the household religion. It was not a
question of affection, but of religious duty; and to think otherwise
was impious. Affection might and ought to spring up from the
relation. But any affection powerful enough to endanger the cohesion
of the family would be condemned. A wife might therefore be divorced
because her husband had become too much attached to her; an adopted
husband might be divorced because of his power to exercise, through
affection, too [70] great an influence upon the daughter of the
house. Other causes would probably he found for the divorce in either
case--but they would not be difficult to find.

For the same reason that connubial affection could be tolerated only
within limits, the natural rights of parenthood (as we understand
them) were necessarily restricted in the old Japanese household.
Marriage being for the purpose of obtaining heirs to perpetuate the
cult, the children were regarded as belonging to the family rather
than to the father and mother. Hence, in case of divorcing the son's
wife, or the adopted son-in-law,--or of disinheriting the married
son,--the children would be retained by the family. For the natural
right of the young parents was considered subordinate to the
religious rights of the house. In opposition to those rights, no
other rights could be tolerated. Practically, of course, according to
more or less fortunate circumstances, the individual might enjoy
freedom under the paternal roof; but theoretically and legally there
was no freedom in the old Japanese family for any member of it,--not
excepting even its acknowledged chief, whose responsibilities were
great. Every person, from the youngest child up to the grandfather,
was subject to somebody else; and every act of domestic life was
regulated by traditional custom.

Like the Greek or Roman father, the patriarch of the Japanese family
appears to have had in early [71] times powers of life and death over
all the members of the household. In the ruder ages the father might
either kill or sell his children; and afterwards, among the ruling
classes his powers remained almost unlimited until modern times.
Allowing for certain local exceptions, explicable by tradition, or
class-exceptions, explicable by conditions of servitude, it may be
said that originally the Japanese paterfamilias was at once ruler,
priest, and magistrate within the family. He could compel his
children to marry or forbid them to marry; he could disinherit or
repudiate them; he could ordain the profession or calling which they
were to follow; and his power extended to all members of the family,
and to the household dependents. At different epochs limits were
placed to the exercise of this power, in the case of the ordinary
people; but in the military class, the patria potestas was almost
unrestricted. In its extreme form, the paternal power controlled
everything,--the right to life and liberty,--the right to marry, or
to keep the wife or husband already espoused,--the right to one's own
children,--the right to hold property,--the right to hold
office,--the right to choose or follow an occupation. The family was
a despotism.

It should not be forgotten, however, that the absolutism prevailing
in the patriarchal family has its justification in a religious
belief,--in the conviction that everything should be sacrificed for
the sake [72] of the cult, and every member of the family should be
ready to give up even life, if necessary, to assure the perpetuity of
the succession. Remembering this, it becomes easy to understand why,
even in communities otherwise advanced in civilization, it should
have seemed right that a father could kill or sell his children. The
crime of a son might result in the extinction of a cult through the
ruin of the family,--especially in a militant society like that of
Japan, where the entire family was held responsible for the acts of
each of its members, so that a capital offence would involve the
penalty of death on the whole of the household, including the
children. Again, the sale of a daughter, in time of extreme need,
might save a house from ruin; and filial piety exacted submission to
such sacrifice for the sake of the cult.

As in the Aryan family,* property descended by right of primogeniture
from father to son; the eldest-born, even in cases where the other
property was to be divided among the children, always inheriting the
homestead. The homestead property was, however, family property; and
it passed to the eldest son as representative, not as individual.
Generally speaking, sons could not hold property, without the
father's consent, during such time as he retained his [73] headship.
As a rule,--to which there were various exceptions,--a daughter could
not inherit; and in the case of an only daughter, for whom a husband
had been adopted, the homestead property would pass to the adopted
husband, because (until within recent times) a woman could not become
the head of a family. This was the case also in the Western Aryan
household, in ancestor-worshipping times.

[*The laws of succession in Old Japan differed considerably according
to class, place, and era; the entire subject has not yet been fully
treated; and only a few safe general statements can be ventured at
the present time.]

To modern thinking, the position of woman in the old Japanese family
appears to have been the reverse of happy. As a child she was
subject, not only to the elders, but to all the male adults of the
household. Adopted into another household as wife, she merely passed
into a similar state of subjection, unalleviated by the affection
which parental and fraternal ties assured her in the ancestral home.
Her retention in the family of her husband did not depend upon his
affection, but upon the will of the majority, and especially of the
elders. Divorced, she could not claim her children: they belonged to
the family of the husband. In any event her duties as wife were more
trying than those of a hired servant. Only in old age could she hope
to exercise some authority; but even in old age she was under
tutelage--throughout her entire life she was in tutelage. "A woman
can have no house of her own in the Three Universes," declared an old
Japanese proverb. Neither could she have a cult of her own: there was
no special cult for the women of a family [74]--no ancestral rite
distinct from that of the husband. And the higher the rank of the
family into which she entered by marriage, the more difficult would
be her position. For a woman of the aristocratic class no freedom
existed: she could not even pass beyond her own gate except in a
palanquin (kago) or under escort; and her existence as a wife was
likely to be embittered by the presence of concubines in the house.

Such was the patriarchal family in old times; yet it is probable that
conditions were really better than the laws and the customs would
suggest. The race is a joyous and kindly one; and it discovered, long
centuries ago, many ways of smoothing the difficulties of life, and
of modifying the harsher exactions of law and custom. The great
powers of the family-head were probably but seldom exercised in cruel
directions. He might have legal rights of the most formidable
character; but these were required by reason of his responsibilities,
and were not likely to be used against communal judgment. It must be
remembered that the individual was not legally considered in former
times: the family only was recognized; and the head of it legally
existed only as representative. If he erred, the whole family was
liable to suffer the penalty of his error. Furthermore, every extreme
exercise of his authority involved proportionate responsibilities. He
could [75] divorce his wife, or compel his son to divorce the adopted
daughter-in-law; but in either case he would have to account for this
action to the family of the divorced; and the divorce-right,
especially in the samurai class, was greatly restrained by the fear
of family resentment; the unjust dismissal of a wife being counted as
an insult to her kindred. He might disinherit an only son; but in
that event he would be obliged to adopt a kinsman. He might kill or
sell either son or daughter; but unless he belonged to some abject
class, he would have to justify his action to the community.* He
might be reckless in his management of the family property; but in
that case an appeal to communal authority was possible, and the
appeal might result in his deposition. So far as we are able to judge
from the remains of old Japanese law which have been studied, it
would seem to have been the general rule that the family-head could
not sell or alienate the estate. Though the family-rule was despotic,
it was the rule of a body rather than of a chief; the family-head
really exercising authority in the name of the rest .... In this
sense, the family still remains a despotism; but the powers of its
legal head are now checked, from within as well as from without, [76]
by later custom. The acts of adoption, disinheritance, marriage, or
divorce, are decided usually by general consent; and the decision of
the household and kindred is required in the taking of any important
step to the disadvantage of the individual.

[*Samurai fathers might kill a daughter convicted of unchastity, or
kill a son guilty of any action calculated to disgrace the family
name. But they would not sell a child. The sale of daughters was
practised only by the abject classes, or by families of other castes
reduced to desperate extremities. A girl might, however, sell herself
for the sake of her family.]

Of course the old family-organization had certain advantages which
compensated the individual for his state of subjection. It was a
society of mutual help; and it was not less powerful to give aid,
than to enforce obedience. Every member could do something to assist
another member in case of need: each had a right to the protection of
all. This remains true of the family to-day. In a well-conducted
household, where every act is performed according to the old forms of
courtesy and kindness,--where no harsh word is ever spoken, where the
young look up to the aged with affectionate respect,--where those
whom years have incapacitated for more active duty, take upon
themselves the care of the children, and render priceless service in
teaching and training,--an ideal condition has been realized. The
daily life of such a home,--in which the endeavour of each is to make
existence as pleasant as possible for all.,--in which the bond of
union is really love and gratitude,--represents religion in the best
and purest sense; and the place is holy ....

It remains to speak of the dependants in the [77] ancient family.
Though the fact has not yet been fully established, it is probable
that the first domestics were slaves or serfs; and the condition of
servants in later times,--especially of those in families of the
ruling classes,--was much like that of slaves in the early Greek and
Roman families. Though necessarily treated as inferiors, they were
regarded as members of the household: they were trusted familiars,
permitted to share in the pleasures of the family, and to be present
at most of its reunions. They could legally be dealt with harshly;
but there is little doubt that, as a rule, they were treated
kindly,--absolute loyalty being expected from them. The best
indication of their status in past times is furnished by yet
surviving customs. Though the power of the family over the servant no
longer exists in law or in fact, the pleasant features of the old
relation continue; and they are of no little interest. The family
takes a sincere interest in the welfare of its domestics,--almost
such interest as would be shown in the case of poorer kindred.
Formerly the family furnishing servants to a household of higher
rank, stood to the latter in the relation of vassal to liege-lord;
and between the two there existed a real bond of loyalty and
kindliness. The occupation of servant was then hereditary; children
were trained for the duty from an early age. After the man-servant or
maidservant had arrived at a certain age, permission to [78] marry
was accorded; and the relation of service then ceased, but not the
bond of loyalty. The children of the married servants would be sent,
when old enough, to work in the house of the master, and would leave
it only when the time also came for them to marry. Relations of this
kind still exist between certain aristocratic families and former
vassal-families, and conserve some charming traditions and customs of
hereditary service, unchanged for hundreds of years.

In feudal times, of course, the bond between master and servant was
of the most serious kind; the latter being expected, in case of need,
to sacrifice life and all else for the sake of the master or of the
master's household. This also was the loyalty demanded of the Greek
and Roman domestic,--before there had yet come into existence that
inhuman form of servitude which reduced the toiler to the condition
of a beast of burden; and the relation was partly a religious one.
There does not seem to have been in ancient Japan any custom
corresponding to that, described by M. de Coulanges, of adopting the
Greek or Roman servant into the household cult. But as the Japanese
vassal-families furnishing domestics were, as vassals, necessarily
attached to the clan-cult of their lord, the relation of the servant
to the family was to some extent a religious bond.

[79] The reader will be able to understand, from the facts of this
chapter, to what extent the individual was sacrificed to the family,
as a religious body. From servant to master--up through all degrees
of the household hierarchy--the law of duty was the same: obedience
absolute to custom and tradition. The ancestral cult permitted no
individual freedom: nobody could live according to his or her
pleasure; every one had to live according to rule. The individual did
not even have a legal existence;--the family was the unit of society.
Even its patriarch existed in law as representative only, responsible
both to the living and the dead. His public responsibility, however,
was not determined merely by civil law. It was determined by another
religious bond,--that of the ancestral cult of the clan or tribe; and
this public form of ancestor-worship was even more exacting than the
religion of the home.




As by the religion of the household each individual was ruled in
every action of domestic life, so, by the religion of the village or
district the family was ruled in all its relations to the outer
world. Like the religion of the home, the religion of the commune was
ancestor-worship. What the household shrine represented to the
family, the Shinto parish-temple represented to the community; and
the deity there worshipped as tutelar god was called Ujigami, the god
of the Uji, which term originally signified the patriarchal family or
gens, as well as the family name.

Some obscurity still attaches to the question of the original
relation of the community to the Uji-god. Hirata declares the god of
the Uji to have been the common ancestor of the clan-family,--the
ghost of the first patriarch; and this opinion (allowing for sundry
exceptions) is almost certainly correct. But it is difficult to
decide whether the Uji-ko, or "children of the family" (as Shinto
parishioners are still termed) at first included only the descendants
of the clan-ancestor, or also the whole of the inhabitants [82] of
the district ruled by the clan. It is certainly not true at the
present time that the tutelar deity of each Japanese district
represents the common ancestor of its inhabitants,--though, to this
general rule, there might be found exception in some of the remoter
provinces. Most probably the god of the Uji was first worshipped by
the people of the district rather as the spirit of a former ruler, or
the patron-god of a ruling family, than as the spirit of a common
ancestor. It has been tolerably well proved that the bulk of the
Japanese people were in a state of servitude from before the
beginning of the historic period, and so remained until within
comparatively recent times. The subject-classes may not have had at
first a cult of their own: their religion would most likely have been
that of their masters. In later times the vassal was certainly
attached to the cult of the lord. But it is difficult as yet to
venture any general statement as to the earliest phase of the
communal cult in Japan; for the history of the Japanese nation is not
that of a single people of one blood, but a history of many
clan-groups, of different origin, gradually brought together to form
one huge patriarchal society.

However, it is quite safe to assume, with the best native
authorities, that the Ujigami were originally clan-deities, and that
they were usually, though not invariably, worshipped as
clan-ancestors. [83] Some Ujigami belong to the historic period. The
war god Hachiman, for example,--to whom parish-temples are dedicated
in almost every large city,--is the apotheosized spirit of the
Emperor Ojin, patron of the famed Minamoto clan. This is an example
of Ujigami worship in which the clan-god is not an ancestor. But in
many instances the Ujigami is really the ancestor of an Uji; as in
the case of the great deity of Kasuga, from whom the Fujiwara clan
claimed descent. Altogether there were in ancient Japan, after the
beginning of the historic era, 1182 clans, great and small; and these
appear to have established the same number of cults. We find, as
might be expected, that the temples now called Ujigami--which is to
say, Shinto parish-temples in general--are always dedicated to a
particular class of divinities, and never dedicated to certain other
gods. Also, it is significant that in every large town there are
Shinto temples dedicated to the same Uji-gods,--proving the transfer
of communal worship from its place of origin. Thus the Izumo
worshipper of Kasuga-Sama can find in Osaka, Kyoto, Tokyo,
parish-temples dedicated to his patron: the Kyushu worshipper of
Hachiman-Sama can place himself under the protection of the same
deity in Musashi quite as well as in Higo or Bungo. Another fact
worth observing is that the Ujigami temple is not necessarily the
most important Shinto temple in the parish: it is the parish-temple,
[84] and important to the communal worship; but it may be outranked
and overshadowed by some adjacent temple dedicated to higher Shinto
gods. Thus in Kitzuki of Izumo, for example, the great Izumo temple
is not the Ujigami,--not the parish-temple; the local cult is
maintained at a much smaller temple .... Of the higher cults I shall
speak further on; for the present let us consider only the communal
cult, in its relation to communal life. From the social conditions
represented by the worship of the Ujigami to-day, much can be
inferred as to its influence in past times.

Almost every Japanese village has its Ujigami; and each district of
every large town or city also has its Ujigami. The worship of the
tutelar deity is maintained by the whole body of parishioners, the
Ujiko, or children of the tutelar god. Every such parish-temple has
its holy days, when all Ujiko are expected to visit the temple, and
when, as a matter of fact, every household sends at least one
representative to the Ujigami. There are great festival-days and
ordinary festival-days; there are processions, music, dancing, and
whatever in the way of popular amusement can serve to make the
occasion attractive. The people of adjacent districts vie with each
other in rendering their respective temple-festivals (matsuri)
enjoyable: every household contributes according to its means. [85]
The Shinto parish-temple has an intimate relation to the life of the
community as a body, and also to the individual existence of every
Ujiko. As a baby he or she is taken to the Ujigami--(at the
expiration of thirty-one days after birth if a boy, or thirty-three
days after birth if a girl)--and placed under the protection of the
god, in whose supposed presence the little one's name is recorded.
Thereafter the child is regularly taken to the temple on holy days,
and of course to all the big festivals, which are made delightful to
young fancy by the display of toys on sale in temporary booths, and
by the amusing spectacles to be witnessed in the temple
grounds,--artists forming pictures on the pavement with coloured
sands,--sweetmeat-sellers moulding animals and monsters out of
sugar-paste,--conjurors and tumblers exhibiting their skill....
Later, when the child becomes strong enough to run about, the temple
gardens and groves serve for a playground. School-life does not
separate the Ujiko from the Ujigami (unless the family should
permanently leave the district); the visits to the temple are still
continued as a duty. Grown-up and married, the Ujiko regularly visits
the guardian-god, accompanied by wife or husband, and brings the
children to pay obeisance. If obliged to make a long journey, or to
quit the district forever, the Ujiko pays a farewell visit to the
Ujigami, as well as to the tombs of the family ancestors; and on
returning to one's native place after prolonged [86] absence, the
first visit is to the god .... I have more than once been touched by
the spectacle of soldiers at prayer before lonesome little temples in
country places,--soldiers but just returned from Korea, China, or
Formosa: their first thought on reaching home was to utter their
thanks to the god of their childhood, whom they believed to have
guarded them in the hour of battle and the season of pestilence.

The best authority on the local customs and laws of Old Japan, John
Henry Wigmore, remarks that the Shinto cult had few relations with
local administration. In his opinion the Ujigami were the deified
ancestors of certain noble families of early times; and their temples
continued to be in the patronage of those families. The office of the
Shinto priest, or "god-master" (kannushi) was, and still is,
hereditary; and, as a rule, any kannushi can trace back his descent
from the family of which the Ujigami was originally the patron-god.
But the Shinto priests, with some few exceptions, were neither
magistrates nor administrators; and Professor Wigmore thinks that
this may have been "due to the lack of administrative organization
within the cult itself."* [87] This would be an adequate explanation.
But in spite of the fact that they exercised no civil function, I
believe it can be shown that Shinto priests had, and still have,
powers above the law. Their relation to the community was of an
extremely important kind: their authority was only religious but it
was heavy and irresistible.

[*The vague character of the Shinto hierarchy is probably best
explained by Mr. Spencer in Chapter VIII of the third volume of
Principles of Sociology: "The establishment of an ecclesiastical
organization separate from the political organization, but akin to it
in its structure, appears to be largely determined by the rise of a
decided distinction in thought between the affairs of this world and
those of a supposed other world. Where the two are conceived as
existing in continuity, or as intimately related, the organizations
appropriate to their respective administrations remain either
identical or imperfectly distinguished .... if the Chinese are
remarkable for the complete absence of a priestly caste, it is
because, along with their universal and active ancestor-worship, they
have preserved that inclusion of the duties of priest in the duties
of ruler, which ancestor-worship in its simple form shows us." Mr.
Spencer remarks in the same paragraph on the fact that in ancient
Japan "religion and government were the same." A distinct Shinto
hierarchy was therefore never evolved.]

To understand this, we must remember that the Shinto priest
represented the religious sentiment of his district. The social bond
of each community was identical with the religious bond,--the cult of
the local tutelar god. It was to the Ujigami that prayers were made
for success in all communal undertakings, for protection against
sickness, for the triumph of the lord in time of war, for succour in
the season of famine or epidemic. The Ujigami was the giver of all
good things,--the special helper and guardian of the people. That
this belief still prevails may be verified by any one who studies the
peasant-life of Japan. It is not to the Buddhas that the farmer prays
for bountiful harvests, or for rain in time of drought; it is not to
the Buddhas [88] that thanks are rendered for a plentiful
rice-crop--but to the ancient local god. And the cult of the Ujigami
embodies the moral experience of the community,--represents all its
cherished traditions and customs, its unwritten laws of conduct, its
sentiment of duty .... Now just as an offence against the ethics of
the family must, in such a society, be regarded as an impiety towards
the family-ancestor, so any breach of custom in the village or
district must be considered as an act of disrespect to its Ujigami.
The prosperity of the family depends, it is thought, upon the
observance of filial piety, which is identified with obedience to the
traditional rules of household conduct; and, in like manner, the
prosperity of the commune is supposed to depend upon the observance
of ancestral custom,--upon obedience to those unwritten laws of the
district, which are taught to all from the time of their childhood.
Customs are identified with morals. Any offence against the customs
of the settlement is an offence against the gods who protect it, and
therefore a menace to the public weal. The existence of the community
is endangered by the crime of any of its members: every member is
therefore held accountable by the community for his conduct. Every
action must conform to the traditional usages of the Ujiko:
independent exceptional conduct is a public offence.

What the obligations of the individual to the [89] community
signified in ancient times may therefore be imagined. He had
certainly no more right to himself than had the Greek citizen three
thousand years ago,--probably not so much. To-day, though laws have
been greatly changed, he is practically in much the same condition.
The mere idea of the right to do as one pleases (within such limits
as are imposed on conduct by English and American societies, for
example) could not enter into his mind. Such freedom, if explained to
him, he would probably consider as a condition morally comparable to
that of birds and beasts. Among ourselves, the social regulations for
ordinary people chiefly settle what must not be done. But what one
must not do in Japan--though representing a very wide range of
prohibition means much less than half of the common obligation: what
one must do, is still more necessary to learn .... Let us briefly
consider the restraints which custom places upon the liberty of the

First of all, be it observed that the communal will reinforces the
will of the household,--compels the observance of filial piety. Even
the conduct of a boy, who has passed the age of childhood, is
regulated not only by the family, but by the public. He must obey the
household; and he must also obey public opinion in regard to his
domestic relations. Any marked act of disrespect, inconsistent [90]
with filial piety, would be judged and rebuked by, all. When old
enough to begin work or study, a lad's daily conduct is observed and
criticised; and at the age when the household law first tightens
about him, he also commences to feel the pressure of common opinion.
On coming of age, he has to marry; and the idea of permitting him to
choose a wife for himself is quite out of the question: he is
expected to accept the companion selected for him. But should reasons
be found for humouring him in the event of an irresistible aversion,
then he must wait until another choice has been made by the family.
The community would not tolerate insubordination in such matters: one
example of filial revolt would constitute too dangerous a precedent.
When the young man at last becomes the head of a household, and
responsible for the conduct of its members, he is still constrained
by public sentiment to accept advice in his direction of domestic
affairs. He is not free to follow his own judgment, in certain
contingencies. For example, he is bound by custom to furnish help to
relatives; and he is obliged to accept arbitration in the event of
trouble with them. He is not permitted to think of his own wife and
children only,--such conduct would be deemed intolerably selfish: he
must be able to act, to outward seeming at least, as if uninfluenced
by paternal or marital affection in his public conduct. Even
supposing that, later in life, he should be [91] appointed to the
position of village or district headman, his right of action and
judgment would be under just as much restriction as before. Indeed,
the range of his personal freedom actually decreases in proportion to
his ascent in the social scale. Nominally he may rule as headman:
practically his authority is only lent to him by the commune, and it
will remain to him just so long as the commune pleases. For he is
elected to enforce the public will, not to impose his own,--to serve
the common interests, not to serve his own,--to maintain and confirm
custom, not to break with it. Thus, though appointed chief, he is
only the public servant, and the least free man in his native place.
Various documents translated and published by Professor Wigmore, in
his "Notes on Land Tenure and Local Institutions in Old Japan," give
a startling idea of the minute regulation of communal life in
country-districts during the period of the Tokujawa Shoguns. Much of
the regulation was certainly imposed by higher authority; but it is
likely that a considerable portion of the rules represented old local
custom. Such documents were called Kumi-cho or "Kumi*-enactments":
they established the rules of conduct to be observed by all the
members of a village-community, and their social interest is very
great. By personal inquiry I have learned that in various parts of
the country, rules much like those recorded in the Kumi-cho, are
still enforced by village custom. I select a few examples from
Professor Wigmore's translation:--

[*Down to the close of the feudal period, the mass of the population
throughout the country, in the great cities as well as in the
villages, was administratively ordered by groups of families, or
rather of households, called Kumi, or "companies." The general number
of households in a Kumi was five; but there were in some provinces
Kumi consisting of six, and of ten, households. The heads of the
households composing a Kumi elected one of their number as
chief,--who became the responsible representative of all the members
of the Kumi. The origin and history of the Kumi-system is obscure: a
similar system exists in China and in Korea. (Professor Wigmore's
reasons for doubting that the Japanese Kumi-system had a military
origin, appear to be cogent.) Certainly the system greatly
facilitated administration. To superior authority the Kumi was
responsible, not the single household.]

[92] "If there be any of our number who are unkind to parents, or
neglectful or disobedient, we will not conceal it or condone it, but
will report it ...."

"We shall require children to respect their parents, servants to obey
their masters, husbands and wives and brothers and sisters to live
together in harmony, and the younger people to revere and to cherish
their elders .... Each kumi [group of five households] shall
carefully watch over the conduct of its members, so as to prevent

"If any member of a kumi, whether farmer, merchant, or artizan, is
lazy, and does not attend properly to his business, the ban-gashira
[chief officer] will advise him, warn him, and lead him into better
ways. If the person does not listen to this advice, and becomes angry
and obstinate, he is to be reported to the toshiyori [village elder]

"When men who are quarrelsome and who like to [93] indulge in late
hours away from home will not listen to admonition, we will report
them. If any other kumi neglects to do this, it will be part of our
duty to do it for them ...."

"All those who quarrel with their relatives, and refuse to listen to
their good advice, or disobey their parents, or are unkind to their
fellow-villagers, shall be reported [to the village officers] ...."

"Dancing, wrestling, and other public shows shall be forbidden.
Singing and dancing-girls and prostitutes shall not be allowed to
remain a single night in the mura [village]."

"Quarrels among the people shall be forbidden.  In case of dispute
the matter shall be reported. If this is not done, all parties shall
be indiscriminately punished ...."

"Speaking disgraceful things of another man, or publicly posting him
as a bad man, even if he is so, is forbidden."

"Filial piety and faithful service to a master should be a matter of
course; but when there is any one who is especially faithful and
diligent in these things, we promise to report him ... for
recommendation to the government ...."

"As members of a kumi we will cultivate friendly feeling even more
than with our relatives, and will promote each other's happiness, as
well as share each other's griefs. If there is an unprincipled or
lawless person in a kumi, we will all share the responsibility for

[*"Notes on Land Tenure and Local Institutions in Old Japan"
(Transactions Asiatic Society of Japan, Vol. XIX, Part I) I have
chosen the quotations from different kumi-cho, and arranged them

[94] The above are samples of the moral regulations only: there were
even more minute regulations about other duties.--for instance:--

"When a fire occurs, the people shall immediately hasten to the spot,
each bringing a bucketful of water, and shall endeavour, under
direction of the officers, to put the fire out .... Those who absent
themselves shall be deemed culpable.

"When a stranger comes to reside here, enquiries shall be made as to
the mura whence he came, and a surety shall be furnished by him ....
No traveller shall lodge, even for a single night, in a house other
than a public inn.

"News of robberies and night attacks shall be given by the ringing of
bells or otherwise; and all who hear shall join in pursuit, until the
offender is taken. Any one wilfully refraining, shall, on
investigation, be punished."

From these same Kumi-cho, it appears that no one could leave his
village even for a single night, without permission,--or take service
elsewhere, or marry in another province, or settle in another place.
Punishments were severe,--a terrible flogging being the common mode
of chastisement by the higher authority.... To-day, there are no such
punishments; and, legally, a man can go where he pleases. But as a
matter of fact he can nowhere do as he pleases; for individual
liberty is still largely restricted by the survival of communal
sentiment and old-fashioned custom. In any country community it would
be unwise to proclaim such a doctrine as that [95] a man has the
right to employ his leisure and his means as he may think proper. No
man's time or money or effort can be considered exclusively his
own,--nor even the body that his ghost inhabits. His right to live in
the community rests solely upon his willingness to serve the
community; and whoever may need his help or sympathy has the
privilege of demanding it. That "a man's house is his castle" cannot
be asserted in Japan--except in the case of some high potentate. No
ordinary person can shut his door to lock out the rest of the world.
Everybody's house must be open to visitors: to close its gates by day
would be regarded as an insult to the community,--sickness affording
no excuse. Only persons in very great authority have the right of
making themselves inaccessible. And to displease the community in
which one lives,--especially if the community be a rural one,--is a
serious matter. When a community is displeased, if acts as an
individual. It may consist of five hundred, a thousand, or several
thousand persons; but the thinking of all is the thinking of one. By
a single serious mistake a man may find himself suddenly placed in
solitary opposition to the common will,--isolated, and most
effectively ostracized. The silence and the softness of the hostility
only render it all the more alarming. This is the ordinary form of
punishment for a grave offence against custom: violence is rare, and
when resorted to is intended (except in [96] some extraordinary cases
presently to be noticed) as a mere correction, the punishment of a
blunder. In certain rough communities, blunders endangering life are
immediately punished by physical chastisement,--not in anger, but on
traditional principle. Once I witnessed at a fishing-settlement, a
chastisement of this kind. Men were killing tunny in the surf; the
work was bloody and dangerous; and in the midst of the excitement,
one of the fishermen struck his killing-spike into the head of a boy.
Everybody knew that it was a pure accident; but accidents involving
danger to life are rudely dealt with, and this blunderer was
instantly knocked senseless by the men nearest him,--then dragged out
of the surf and flung down on the sand to recover himself as best he
might. No word was said about the matter; and the killing went on as
before. Young fishermen, I am told, are roughly handled by their
fellows on board a ship, in the case of any error involving risk to
the vessel. But, as I have already observed, only stupidity is
punished in this fashion; and ostracism is much more dreaded than
violence. There is, indeed, only one yet heavier punishment than
ostracism--namely, banishment, either for a term of years or for

Banishment must in old feudal times have been a very serious penalty;
it is a serious penalty even to-day, under the new order of things.
In former years the man expelled from his native place by the [97]
communal will--cast out from his home, his clan, his occupation
--found himself face to face with misery absolute. In another
community there would be no place for him, unless he happened to have
relatives there; and these would be obliged to consult with the local
authorities, and also with the officials of the fugitive's native
place, before venturing to harbour him. No stranger was suffered to
settle in another district than his own without official permission.
Old documents are extant which record the punishments inflicted upon
households for having given shelter to a stranger under pretence of
relationship. A banished man was homeless and friendless. He might be
a skilled craftsman; but the right to exercise his craft depended
upon the consent of the guild representing that craft in the place to
which he might go; and banished men were not received by the guilds.
He might try to become a servant; but the commune in which he sought
refuge would question the right of any master to employ a fugitive
and a stranger. His religious connexions could not serve him in the
least: the code of communal life was decided not by Buddhist, but by
Shinto ethics. Since the gods of his birthplace had cast him out, and
the gods of any other locality had nothing to do with his original
cult, there was no religious help for him. Besides, the mere fact of
his being a refugee was itself proof that he must have offended
against his own cult. [98] In any event no stranger could look for
sympathy among strangers. Even now to take a wife from another
province is condemned by local opinion (it was forbidden in feudal
times): one is still expected to live, work, and marry in the place
where one has been born,--though, in certain cases, and with the
public approval of one's own people, adoption into another community
is tolerated. Under the feudal system there was incomparably less
likelihood of sympathy for the stranger; and banishment signified
hunger, solitude, and privation unspeakable. For be it remembered
that the legal existence of the individual, at that period, ceased
entirely outside of his relation to the family and to the commune.
Everybody lived and worked for some household; every household for
some clan; outside of the household, and the related aggregate of
households, there was no life to be lived--except the life of
criminals, beggars, and pariahs. Save with official permission, one
could not even become a Buddhist monk. The very outcasts--such as the
Eta classes--formed self-governing communities, with traditions of
their own, and would not voluntarily accept strangers. So the
banished man was most often doomed to become a hinin,--one of that
wretched class of wandering pariahs who were officially termed
"not-men," and lived by beggary, or by the exercise of some vulgar
profession, such as that of ambulant musician or [99] mountebank. In
more ancient days a banished man could have sold himself into
slavery; but even this poor privilege seems to have been withdrawn
during the Tokugawa era.

We can scarcely imagine to-day the conditions of such banishment: to
find a Western parallel we must go back to ancient Greek and Roman
times long preceding the Empire. Banishment then signified religious
excommunication, and practically expulsion from all civilized
society,--since there yet existed no idea of human brotherhood, no
conception of any claim upon kindness except the claim of kinship.
The stranger was everywhere the enemy. Now in Japan, as in the Greek
city of old time, the religion of the tutelar god has always been the
religion of a group only, the cult of a community: it never became
even the religion of a province. The higher cults, on the other hand,
did not concern themselves with the individual: his religion was only
of the household and of the village or district; the cults of other
households and districts were entirely distinct; one could belong to
them only by adoption, and strangers, as a rule, were not adopted.
Without a household or a clan-cult, the individual was morally and
socially dead; for other cults and clans excluded him. When cast out
by the domestic cult that regulated his private life, and by the
local cult that ordered his life in relation to the community, he
simply ceased to exist in relation to human society.

[100] How small were the chances in past times for personality to
develop and assert itself may be imagined from the foregoing facts.
The individual was completely and pitilessly sacrificed to the
community. Even now the only safe rule of conduct in a Japanese
settlement is to act in all things according to local custom; for the
slightest divergence from rule will be observed with disfavour.
Privacy does not exist; nothing can be hidden; everybody's vices or
virtues are known to everybody else. Unusual behaviour is judged as a
departure from the traditional standard of conduct; all oddities are
condemned as departures from custom; and tradition and custom still
have the force of religious obligations. Indeed, they really are
religious and obligatory, not only by reason of their origin, but by
reason of their relation also to the public cult, which signifies the
worship of the past.

It is therefore easy to understand why Shinto never had a written
code of morals, and why its greatest scholars have declared that a
moral code is unnecessary. In that stage of religious evolution which
ancestor-worship represents, there can be no distinction between
religion and ethics, nor between ethics and custom. Government and
religion are the same; custom and law are identified. The ethics of
Shinto were all included in conformity to custom. The traditional
rules of the household, the traditional laws of the commune--these
were [101] the morals of Shinto: to obey them was religion; to
disobey them, impiety .... And, after all, the true significance of
any religious code, written or unwritten, lies in its expression of
social duty, its doctrine of the right and wrong of conduct, its
embodiment of a people's moral experience. Really the difference
between any modern ideal of conduct, such as the English, and the
patriarchal ideal, such as that of the early Greeks or of the
Japanese, would be found on examination to consist mainly in the
minute extension of the older conception to all details of individual
life. Assuredly the religion of Shinto needed no written commandment:
it was taught to everybody from childhood by precept and example, and
any person of ordinary intelligence could learn it. When a religion
is capable of rendering it dangerous for anybody to act outside of
rules, the framing of a code would be obviously superfluous. We
ourselves have no written code of conduct as regards the higher
social life, the exclusive circles of civilized existence, which are
not ruled merely by the Ten Commandments. The knowledge of what to do
in those zones, and of how to do it, can come only by training, by
experience, by observation, and by the intuitive recognition of the
reason of things.

And now to return to the question of the authority of the Shinto
priest as representative of communal [102] sentiment,--an authority
which I believe to have been always very great .... Striking proof
that the punishments inflicted by a community upon its erring members
were originally inflicted in the name of the tutelar god is furnished
by the fact that manifestations of communal displeasure still assume,
in various country districts, a religious character. I have witnessed
such manifestations, and I am assured that they still occur in most
of the provinces. But it is in remote country-towns or isolated
villages, where traditions have remained almost unchanged, that one
can best observe these survivals of antique custom. In such places
the conduct of every resident is closely watched and rigidly judged
by all the rest. Little, however, is said about misdemeanours of a
minor sort until the time of the great local Shinto festival,--the
annual festival of the tutelar god. It is then that the community
gives its warnings or inflicts its penalties: this at least in the
case of conduct offensive to local ethics. The god, on the occasion
of this festival, is supposed to visit the dwellings of his Ujiko;
and his portable shrine,--a weighty structure borne by thirty or
forty men,--is carried through the principal streets. The bearers are
supposed to act according to the will of the god,--to go
whithersoever his divine spirit directs them .... I may describe the
incidents of the procession as I saw it in a seacoast village, not
once, but several times.

[103] Before the procession a band of young men advance, leaping and
wildly dancing in circles: these young men clear the way; and it is
unsafe to pass near them, for they whirl about as if moved by frenzy
.... When I first saw such a band of dancers, I could imagine myself
watching some old Dionysiac revel;--their furious gyrations certainly
realized Greek accounts of the antique sacred frenzy. There were,
indeed, no Greek heads; but the bronzed lithe figures, naked save for
loin-cloth and sandals, and most sculpturesquely muscled, might well
have inspired some vase-design of dancing fauns. After these
god-possessed dancers--whose passage swept the streets clear,
scattering the crowd to right and left--came the virgin priestess,
white-robed and veiled, riding upon a horse, and followed by several
mounted priests in white garments and high black caps of ceremony.
Behind them advanced the ponderous shrine, swaying above: the heads
of its bearers like a junk in a storm. Scores of brawny arms were
pushing it to the right; other scores were pushing it to the left:
behind and before, also, there was furious pulling and pushing; and
the roar of voices uttering invocations made it impossible to hear
anything else. By immemorial custom the upper stories of all the
dwellings had been tightly closed: woe to the Peeping Tom who should
be detected, on such a day, in the impious act of looking down upon
the god!...

[104] Now the shrine-bearers, as I have said, are supposed to be
moved by the spirit of the god--(probably by his Rough Spirit; for
the Shinto god is multiple); and all this pushing and pulling and
swaying signifies only the deity's inspection of the dwellings on
either hand. He is looking about to see whether the hearts of his
worshippers are pure, and is deciding whether it will be necessary to
give a warning, or to inflict a penalty. His bearers will carry him
whithersoever he chooses to go--through solid walls if necessary. If
the shrine strikes against any house,--even against an awning
only,--that is a sign that the god is not pleased with the dwellers
in that house. If the shrine breaks part of the house, that is a
serious warning. But it may happen that the god wills to enter a
house,--breaking his way. Then woe to the inmates, unless they flee
at once through the back-door; and the wild procession, thundering
in, will wreck and rend and smash and splinter everything on the
premises before the god consents to proceed upon his round.

Upon enquiring into the reasons of two wreckings of which I witnessed
the results, I learned enough to assure me that from the communal
point of view, both aggressions were morally justifiable. In one case
a fraud had been practised; in the other, help had been refused to
the family of a drowned resident. Thus one offence had been legal;
the other only moral. A country community [105] will not hand over
its delinquents to the police except in case of incendiarism, murder,
theft, or other serious crime. It has a horror of law, and never
invokes it when the matter can be settled by any other means. This
was the rule also in ancient times, and the feudal government
encouraged its maintenance. But when the tutelar deity has been
displeased, he insists upon the punishment or disgrace of the
offender; and the offender's entire family, as by feudal custom, is
held responsible. The victim can invoke the new law, if he dares, and
bring the wreckers of his home into court, and recover damages, for
the modern police-courts are not ruled by Shinto. But only a very
rash man will invoke the new law against the communal judgment, for
that action in itself would be condemned as a gross breach of custom.
The community is always ready, through its council, to do justice in
cases where innocence can be proved. But if a man really guilty of
the faults charged to his account should try to avenge himself by
appeal to a non-religious law, then it were well for him to remove
himself and his family, as soon as possible thereafter, to some
far-away place.

We have seen that, in Old Japan, the life of the individual was under
two kinds of religious control. All his acts were regulated according
to the traditions either of the domestic or of the communal [106]
cult; and these conditions probably began with the establishment of a
settled civilization. We have also seen that the communal religion
took upon itself to enforce the observance of the household religion.
The fact will not seem strange if we remember that the underlying
idea in either cult was the same,--the idea that the welfare of the
living depended upon the welfare of the dead. Neglect of the
household rite would provoke, it was believed, the malevolence of the
spirits; and their malevolence might bring about some public
misfortune. The ghosts of the ancestors controlled nature;--fire and
flood, pestilence and famine were at their disposal as means of
vengeance. One act of impiety in a village might, therefore, bring
about misfortune to all. And the community considered itself
responsible to the dead for the maintenance of filial piety in every



The teaching of Herbert Spencer that the greater gods of a
people--those figuring in popular imagination as creators, or as
particularly directing certain elemental forces--represent a later
development of ancestor-worship, is generally accepted to-day.
Ancestral ghosts, considered as more or less alike in the time when
primitive society had not yet developed class distinctions of any
important character, subsequently become differentiated, as the
society itself differentiates, into greater and lesser. Eventually
the worship of some one ancestral spirit, or group of spirits,
overshadows that of all the rest; and a supreme deity, or group of
supreme deities, becomes evolved. But the differentiations of the
ancestor-cult must be understood to proceed in a great variety of
directions. Particular ancestors of families engaged in hereditary
occupations may develop into tutelar deities presiding over those
occupations--patron gods of crafts and guilds. Out of other ancestral
cults, through various processes of mental association, may be
evolved the worship of deities of strength, of health, of long life,
of particular products, of particular localities. [108] When more
light shall have been thrown upon the question of Japanese origins,
it will probably be found that many of the lesser tutelar or patron
gods now worshipped in the country were originally the gods of
Chinese or Korean craftsmen; but I think that Japanese mythology, as
a whole, will prove to offer few important exceptions to the
evolutional law. Indeed, Shinto presents us with a mythological
hierarchy of which the development can be satisfactorily explained by
that law alone. Besides the Ujigami, there are myriads of superior
and of inferior deities. There are the primal deities, of whom only
the names are mentioned,--apparitions of the period of chaos; and
there are the gods of creation, who gave shape to the land. There are
the gods of earth, and, sky, and the gods of the sun and moon. Also
there are gods, beyond counting, supposed to preside over all things
good or evil in human life,--birth and marriage and death, riches and
poverty, strength and disease .... It can scarcely be supposed that
all this mythology was developed out of the old ancestor-cult in
Japan itself: more probably its evolution began on the Asiatic
continent. But the evolution of the national cult--that form of
Shinto which became the state religion--seems to have been Japanese,
in the strict meaning of the word. This cult is the worship of the
gods from whom the emperors claim descent,--the worship of the
"imperial ancestors." [109] It appears that the early emperors of
Japan--the "heavenly sovereigns," as they are called in the old
records--were not emperors at all in the true meaning of the term,
and did not even exercise universal authority. They were only the
chiefs of the most powerful clan, or Uji, and their special
ancestor-cult had probably in that time no dominant influence. But
eventually, when the chiefs of this great clan really became supreme
rulers of the land, their clan-cult spread everywhere, and
overshadowed, without abolishing, all the other cults. Then arose the
national mythology.

We therefore see that the course of Japanese ancestor-worship, like
that of Aryan ancestor-worship, exhibits those three successive
stages of development before mentioned. It may be assumed that on
coming from the continent to their present island home, the race
brought with them a rude form of ancestor-worship, consisting of
little more than rites and sacrifices performed at the graves of the
dead. When the land had been portioned out among the various clans,
each of which had its own ancestor cult, all the people of the
district belonging to any particular clan would eventually adopt the
religion of the clan ancestor; and thus arose the thousand cults of
the Ujigami. Still later, the special cult of the most powerful clan
developed into a national religion,--the worship of the goddess of
the sun, [110] from whom the supreme ruler claimed descent. Then,
under Chinese influence, the domestic form of ancestor-worship was
established in lieu of the primitive family-cult: thereafter
offerings and prayers were made regularly in the home, where the
ancestral tablets represented the tombs of the family dead. But
offerings were still made, on special occasions, at the graves; and
the three Shinto forms of the cult, together with later forms of
Buddhist introduction, continued to exist; and they rule the life of
the nation to-day.

It was the cult of the supreme ruler that first gave to the people a
written account of traditional beliefs. The mythology of the reigning
house furnished the scriptures of Shinto, and established ideas
linking together all the existing forms of ancestor-worship. All
Shinto traditions were by these writings blended into one
mythological history,--explained upon the basis of one legend. The
whole mythology is contained in two books, of which English
translations have been made. The oldest is entitled Ko-ji-ki, or
"Records of Ancient Matters"; and it is supposed to have been
compiled in the year 712 A.D. The other and much larger work is
called Nihongi, "Chronicles of Nihon [Japan]," and dates from about
720 A.D. Both works profess to be histories; but a large portion of
them is mythological, and either begins with a story of creation.
[111] They were compiled, mostly, from oral tradition we are told, by
imperial order. It is said that a yet earlier work, dating from the
seventh century, may have been drawn upon; but this has been lost. No
great antiquity can, therefore, be claimed for the texts as they
stand; but they contain traditions which must be very much
older,--possibly thousands of years older. The Ko-ji-ki is said to
have been written from the dictation of an old man of marvellous
memory; and the Shinto theologian Hirata would have us believe that
traditions thus preserved are especially trustworthy. "It is
probable," he wrote, "that those ancient traditions, preserved for us
by exercise of memory, have for that very reason come down to us in
greater detail than if they had been recorded in documents. Besides,
men must have had much stronger memories in the days before they
acquired the habit of trusting to written characters for facts which
they wished to remember,--as is shown at the present time in the case
of the illiterate, who have to depend on memory alone." We must smile
at Hirata's good faith in the changelessness of oral tradition; but I
believe that folk-lorists would discover in the character of the
older myths, intrinsic evidence of immense antiquity.--Chinese
influence is discernible in both works; yet certain parts have a
particular quality not to be found, I imagine, in anything
Chinese,--a primeval artlessness, a weirdness, and a strangeness
[112] having nothing in common with other mythical literature. For
example, we have, in the story of Izanagi, the world-maker, visiting
the shades to recall his dead spouse, a myth that seems to be purely
Japanese. The archaic naivete of the recital must impress anybody who
studies the literal translation. I shall present only the substance
of the legend, which has been recorded in a number of different

[*See for these different versions Aston's translation of the
Nihongi, Vol I.]

When the time came for the Fire-god, Kagu-Tsuchi, to be born, his
mother, Izanami-no-Mikoto, was burnt, and suffered change, and
departed. Then Izanagi-no-Mikoto, was wroth and said, "Oh! that I
should have given my loved younger sister in exchange for a single
child!" He crawled at her head and he crawled at her feet, weeping
and lamenting; and the tears which he shed fell down and became a
deity .... Thereafter Izanagi-no-Mikoto went after Izanami-no-Mikoto
into the Land of Yomi, the world of the dead. Then Izanami-no-Mikoto,
appearing still as she was when alive, lifted the curtain of the
palace (of the dead), and came forth to meet him; and they talked
together. And Izanagi-no-Mikoto said to her: "I have come because I
sorrowed for thee, my lovely younger sister. O my lovely younger
sister, the lands that I and thou were making together are not [113]
yet finished; therefore come back!" Then Izanami-no-Mikoto made
answer, saying, "My august lord and husband, lamentable it is that
thou didst not come sooner,--for now I have eaten of the
cooking-range of Yomi. Nevertheless, as I am thus delightfully
honoured by thine entry here, my lovely elder brother, I wish to
return with thee to the living world. Now I go to discuss the matter
with the gods of Yomi. Wait thou here, and look not upon me." So
having spoken, she went back; and Izanagi waited for her. But she
tarried so long within that he became impatient. Then, taking the
wooden comb that he wore in the left bunch of his hair, he broke off
a tooth from one end of the comb and lighted it, and went in to look
for Izanami-no-Mikoto. But he saw her lying swollen and festering
among worms; and eight kinds of Thunder-Gods sat upon her .... And
Izanagi, being overawed by that sight, would have fled away; but
Izanami rose up, crying: "Thou hast put me to shame! Why didst thou
not observe that which I charged thee?... Thou hast seen my
nakedness; now I will see thine!" And she bade the Ugly Females of
Yomi to follow after him, and slay him; and the eight Thunders also
pursued him, and Izanami herself pursued him .... Then
Izanagi-no-Mikoto drew his sword, and flourished it behind him as he
ran. But they followed close upon him. He took off his black
headdress and flung it down; [114] and it became changed into grapes;
and while the Ugly Ones were eating the grapes, he gained upon them.
But they followed quickly; and he then took his comb and cast it
down, and it became changed into bamboo sprouts; and while the Ugly
Ones were devouring the sprouts, he fled on until he reached the
mouth of Yomi. Then taking a rock which it would have required the
strength of a thousand men to lift, he blocked therewith the entrance
as Izanami came up. And standing behind the rock, he began to
pronounce the words of divorce. Then, from the other side of the
rock, Izanami cried out to him, "My dear lord and master, if thou
dost so, in one day will I strangle to death a thousand of thy
people!" And Izanagi-no-Mikoto answered her, saying, "My beloved
younger sister, if thou dost so, I will cause in one day to be born
fifteen hundred ...." But the deity Kukuri-hime-no-Kami then came,
and spake to Izanami some word which she seemed to approve, and
thereafter she vanished away ....

The strange mingling of pathos with nightmare-terror in this myth, of
which I have not ventured to present all the startling naiveti,
sufficiently proves its primitive character. It is a dream that some
one really dreamed,--one of those bad dreams in which the figure of a
person beloved becomes horribly transformed; and it has a particular
interest as [115] expressing that fear of death and of the dead
informing all primitive ancestor-worship. The whole pathos and
weirdness of the myth, the vague monstrosity of the fancies, the
formal use of terms of endearment in the moment of uttermost loathing
and fear,--all impress one as unmistakably Japanese. Several other
myths scarcely less remarkable are to be found in the Ko-ji-ki and
Nihongi; but they are mingled with legends of so light and graceful a
kind that it is scarcely possible to believe these latter to have
been imagined by the same race. The story of the magical jewels and
the visit to the sea-god's palace, for example, in the second book of
the Nihongi, sounds oddly like an Indian fairy-tale; and it is not
unlikely that the Ko-ji-ki and Nihongi both contain myths derived
from various alien sources. At all events their mythical chapters
present us with some curious problems which yet remain unsolved.
Otherwise the books are dull reading, in spite of the light which
they shed upon ancient customs and beliefs; and, generally speaking,
Japanese mythology is unattractive. But to dwell here upon the
mythology, at any length, is unnecessary; for its relation to Shinto
can be summed up in the space of a single brief paragraph--

In the beginning neither force nor form was manifest; and the world
was a shapeless mass that floated [116] like a jelly-fish upon water.
Then, in some way--we are not told how--earth and heaven became
separated; dim gods appeared and disappeared; and at last there came
into existence a male and a female deity, who gave birth and shape to
things. By this pair, Izanagi and Izanami, were produced the islands
of Japan, and the generations of the gods, and the deities of the Sun
and Moon. The descendants of these creating deities, and of the gods
whom they brought into being, were the eight thousand (or eighty
thousand) myriads of gods worshipped by Shinto. Some went to dwell in
the blue Plain of High Heaven; others remained on earth and became
the ancestors of the Japanese race.

Such is the mythology of the Ko-ji-ki and the Nihongi, stated in the
briefest possible way. At first it appears that there were two
classes of gods recognized: Celestial and Terrestrial; and the old
Shinto rituals (norito) maintain this distinction. But it is a
curious fact that the celestial gods of this mythology do not
represent celestial forces; and that the gods who are really
identified with celestial phenomena are classed as terrestrial
gods,--having been born or "produced" upon earth. The Sun and Moon,
for example, are said to have been born in Japan,--though afterwards
placed in heaven; the Sun-goddess, Ama-terasu-no-oho-Kami, having
been produced from the left eye of Izanagi, and the [117] Moon-god,
Tsuki-yomi-no-Mikoto, having been produced from the right eye of
Izanagi when, after his visit to the under-world, he washed himself
at the mouth of a river in the island of Tsukushi. The Shinto
scholars of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries established some
order in this chaos of fancies by denying all distinction between the
Celestial and Terrestrial gods, except as regarded the accident of
birth. They also denied the old distinction between the so-called Age
of the Gods (Kami-yo), and the subsequent period of the Emperors. It
was true, they said, that the early rulers of Japan were gods; but so
were also the later rulers. The whole Imperial line, the "Sun's
Succession," represented one unbroken descent from the Goddess of the
Sun. Hirata wrote: "There exists no hard and fast line between the
Age of the Gods and the present age--and there exists no
justification whatever for drawing one, as the Nihongi does." Of
course this position involved the doctrine of a divine descent for
the whole race,--inasmuch as, according to the old mythology, the
first Japanese were all descendants of gods,--and that doctrine
Hirata boldly accepted. All the Japanese, he averred, were of divine
origin, and for that reason superior to the people of all other
countries. He even held that their divine descent could be proved
without difficulty. These are his words: "The descendants of the gods
who accompanied Ninigi-no-Mikoto [grandson of the Sun-goddess, [118]
and supposed founder of the Imperial house,]--as well as the
offspring of the successive Mikados, who entered the ranks of the
subjects of the Mikados, with the names of Taira, Minamoto, and so
forth,--have gradually increased and multiplied. Although numbers of
Japanese cannot state with certainty from what gods they are
descended, all of them have tribal names (kabane), which were
originally bestowed on them by the Mikados; and those who make it
their province to study genealogies can tell from a man's ordinary
surname, who his remotest ancestor must have been." All the Japanese
were gods in this sense; and their country was properly called the
Land of the Gods,--Shinkoku or Kami-no-kuni. Are we to understand
Hirata literally? I think so--but we must remember that there existed
in feudal times large classes of people, outside of the classes
officially recognized as forming the nation, who were not counted as
Japanese, nor even as human beings: these were pariahs, and reckoned
as little better than animals. Hirata probably referred to the four
great classes only--samurai, farmers, artizans, and merchants. But
even in that case what are we to think of his ascription of divinity
to the race, in view of the moral and physical feebleness of human
nature? The moral side of the question is answered by the Shinto
theory of evil deities, "gods of crookedness," who were alleged to
have "originated from the impurities contracted by [119] Izanagi
during his visit to the under-world." As for the physical weakness of
men, that is explained by a legend of Ninigi-no-Mikoto, divine
founder of the imperial house. The Goddess of Long Life,
Iha-naga-hime (Rock-long-princess), was sent to him for wife; but he
rejected her because of her ugliness; and that unwise proceeding
brought about "the present shortness of the lives of men." Most
mythologies ascribe vast duration to the lives of early patriarchs or
rulers: the farther we go back into mythological history, the
longer-lived are the sovereigns. To this general rule Japanese
mythology presents no exception. The son of Ninigi-no-Mikoto is said
to have lived five hundred and eighty years at his palace of
Takachiho; but that, remarks Hirata, "was a short life compared with
the lives of those who lived before him." Thereafter men's bodies
declined in force; life gradually became shorter and shorter; yet in
spite of all degeneration the Japanese still show traces of their
divine origin. After death they enter into a higher divine condition,
without, however, abandoning this world .... Such were Hirata's
views. Accepting the Shinto theory of origins, this ascription of
divinity to human nature proves less inconsistent than it appears at
first sight; and the modern Shintoist may discover a germ of
scientific truth in the doctrine which traces back the beginnings of
life to the Sun.

[120] More than any other Japanese writer, Hirata has enabled us to
understand the hierarchy of Shinto mythology,--corresponding closely,
as we might have expected, to the ancient ordination of Japanese
society. In the lowermost ranks are the spirits of common people,
worshipped only at the household shrine or at graves. Above these are
the gentile gods or Ujigami,--ghosts of old rulers now worshipped as
tutelar gods. All Ujigami, Hirata tells us, are under the control of
the Great God of Izumo,--Oho-kuni-nushi-no-Kami,--and, "acting as his
agents, they rule the fortunes of human beings before their birth,
during their life, and after their death." This means that the
ordinary ghosts obey, in the world invisible, the commands of the
clan-gods or tutelar deities; that the conditions of communal worship
during life continue after death. The following extract from Hirata
will be found of interest,--not only as showing the supposed relation
of the individual to the Ujigami, but also as suggesting how the act
of abandoning one's birthplace was formerly judged by common

"When a person removes his residence, his original Ujigami has to
make arrangements with the Ujigami of the place whither he transfers
his abode. On such occasions it is proper to take leave of the old
god, and to pay a visit to the temple of the new god as soon as
possible after coming within his jurisdiction. The apparent reasons
which a man imagines to have induced him to change his [121] abode
may be many; but the real reasons cannot be otherwise than that
either he has offended his Ujigami, and is therefore expelled, or
that the Ujigami of another place has negotiated his transfer ...."*
[*Translated by Satow. The italics are mine.]

It would thus appear that every person was supposed to be the
subject, servant, or retainer of some Ujigami, both during life and
after death. There were, of course, various grades of these
clan-gods, just as there were various grades of living rulers, lords
of the soil. Above ordinary Ujigami ranked the deities worshipped in
the chief Shinto temples of the various provinces, which temples were
termed Ichi-no-miya, or temples of the first grade. These deities
appear to have been in many cases spirits of princes or greater
daimyo, formerly, ruling extensive districts; but all were not of
this category. Among them were deities of elements or elemental
forces,--Wind, Fire, and Sea,--deities also of longevity, of destiny,
and of harvests,--clan-gods, perhaps, originally, though their real
history had been long forgotten. But above all other Shinto
divinities ranked the gods of the Imperial Cult,--the supposed
ancestors of the Mikados.

Of the higher forms of Shinto worship, that of the imperial ancestors
proper is the most important, being the State cult; but it is not the
oldest. There are two supreme cults: that of the Sun-goddess, [122]
represented by the famous shrines of Ise; and the Izumo cult,
represented by the great temple of Kitzuki. This Izumo temple is the
centre of the more ancient cult. It is dedicated to
Oho-kuni-nushi-no-Kami, first ruler of the Province of the Gods, and
offspring of the brother of the Sun-goddess. Dispossessed of his
realm in favour of the founder of the imperial dynasty,
Oho-kuni-nushi-no-Kami became the ruler of the Unseen World,--that is
to say the World of Ghosts. Unto his shadowy dominion the spirits of
all men proceed after death; and he rules over all of the Ujigami. We
may therefore term him the Emperor of the Dead. "You cannot hope,"
Hirata says, "to live more than a hundred years, under the most
favourable circumstances; but as you will go to the Unseen Realm of
Oho-kuni-nushi-no-Kami after death, and be subject to him, learn
betimes to bow down before him." ... That weird fancy expressed in
the wonderful fragment by Coleridge, "The Wanderings of Cain," would
therefore seem to have actually formed an article of ancient Shinto
faith: "The Lord is God of the living only: the dead have another
God." ...

The God of the Living in Old Japan was, of course, the Mikado,--the
deity incarnate, Arahito-gami,--and his palace was the national
sanctuary, the Holy of Holies. Within the precincts of that [123]
palace was the Kashiko-Dokoro ("Place of Awe"), the private shrine of
the Imperial Ancestors, where only the court could worship,--the
public form of the same cult being maintained at Ise. But the
Imperial House worshipped also by deputy (and still so worships) both
at Kitzuki and Ise, and likewise at various other great sanctuaries.
Formerly a great number of temples were maintained, or partly
maintained, from the imperial revenues. All Shinto temples of
importance used to be classed as greater and lesser shrines. There
were 304 of the first rank, and 2828 of the second rank. But
multitudes of temples were not included in this official
classification, and depended upon local support. The recorded total
of Shinto shrines to-day is upwards of 195,000.

We have thus--without counting the great Izumo cult of
Oho-kuni-nushi-no-Kami--four classes of ancestor-worship: the
domestic religion, the religion of the Ujigami, the worship at the
chief shrines [Ichi-no-miya] of the several provinces, and the
national cult at Ise. All these cults are now linked together by
tradition; and the devout Shintoist worships the divinities of all,
collectively, in his daily morning prayer. Occasionally he visits the
chief shrine of his province; and he makes a pilgrimage to Ise if he
can. Every Japanese is expected to visit the shrines of Ise once in
his lifetime, [124] or to send thither a deputy. Inhabitants of
remote districts are not all able, of course, to make the pilgrimage;
but there is no village which does not, at certain intervals, send
pilgrims either to Kitzuki or to Ise on behalf of the community, the
expense of such representation being defrayed by local subscription.
And, furthermore, every Japanese can worship the supreme divinities
of Shinto in his own house, where upon a "god-shelf" (Kamidana) are
tablets inscribed with the assurance of their divine
protection,--holy charms obtained from the priests of Ise or of
Kitzuki. In the case of the Ise cult, such tablets are commonly made
from the wood of the holy shrines themselves, which, according to
primal custom, must be rebuilt every twenty years,--the timber of the
demolished structures being then cut into tablets for distribution
throughout the country.

Another development of ancestor-worship--the cult of gods presiding
over crafts and callings--deserves special study. Unfortunately we
are as yet little informed upon the subject. Anciently this worship
must have been more definitely ordered and maintained than it is now.
Occupations were hereditary; artizans were grouped into
guilds--perhaps we might even say castes;--and each guild or caste
then probably had in patron-deity. In some cases the craft-gods may
have been ancestors [125] of Japanese craftsmen; in other cases they
were perhaps of Korean or Chinese origin,--ancestral gods of
immigrant artizans, who brought their cults with them to Japan. Not
much is known about them. But it is tolerably safe to assume that
most, if not all of the guilds, were at one time religiously
organized, and that apprentices were adopted not only in a craft, but
into a cult. There were corporations of weavers, potters, carpenters,
arrow-makers, bow-makers, smiths, boat-builders, and other tradesmen;
and the past religious organization of these is suggested by the fact
that certain occupations assume a religious character even to-day.
For example, the carpenter still builds according to Shinto
tradition: he dons a priestly costume at a certain stage of the work,
performs rites, and chants invocations, and places the new house
under the protection of the gods. But the occupation of the
swordsmith was in old days the most sacred of crafts: he worked in
priestly garb, and practised Shinto) rites of purification while
engaged in the making of a good blade. Before his smithy was then
suspended the sacred rope of rice-straw (shime-nawa), which is the
oldest symbol of Shinto: none even of his family might enter there,
or speak to him; and he ate only of food cooked with holy fire.

The 195,000 shrines of Shinto represent, however, more than
clan-cults or guild-cults or national-cults .... [126] Many are
dedicated to different spirits of the same god; for Shinto holds that
the spirit of either a man or a god may divide itself into several
spirits, each with a different character. Such separated spirits are
called waka-mi-tama ("august-divided-spirits"). Thus the spirit of
the Goddess of Food, Toyo-uke-bime, separated itself into the God of
Trees, Kukunochi-no-Kami, and into the Goddess of Grasses,
Kayanu-hime-no-Kami. Gods and men were supposed to have also a Rough
Spirit and a Gentle Spirit; and Hirata remarks that the Rough Spirit
of Oho-kuni-nushi-no-Kami was worshipped at one temple, and his
Gentle Spirit at another.*... Also we have to remember that great
numbers of Ujigami temples are dedicated to the same divinity. These
duplications or multiplications are again offset by the fact that in
some of the principal temples a multitude of different deities are
enshrined. Thus the number of Shinto temples in actual existence
affords no indication whatever of the actual number of gods
worshipped, nor of the variety of their cults. Almost every deity
mentioned in the Ko-ji-ki or Nihongi has a shrine somewhere; and
hundreds of others--including many later apotheoses--have their
temples. Numbers of temples have been dedicated, for example, to
[127] historical personages,--to spirits of great ministers,
captains, rulers, scholars, heroes, and statesmen. The famous
minister of the Empress Jingo, Takeno-uji-no-Sukune,--who served
under six successive sovereigns, and lived to the age of three
hundred years,--is now invoked in many a temple as a giver of long
life and great wisdom. The spirit of Sugiwara-no-Michizane, once
minister to the Emperor Daigo, is worshipped as the god of
calligraphy, under the name of Tenjin, or Temmangu: children
everywhere offer to him the first examples of their handwriting, and
deposit in receptacles, placed before his shrine, their worn-out
writing-brushes. The Soga brothers, victims and heroes of a famous
twelfth-century tragedy, have become gods to whom people pray for the
maintenance of fraternal harmony. Kato Kiyomasa, the determined enemy
of Jesuit Christianity, and Hideyoshi's greatest captain, has been
apotheosized both by Buddhism and by Shinto. Iyeyasu is worshipped
under the appellation of Toshogu. In fact most of the great men of
Japanese history have had temples erected to them; and the spirits of
the daimyo were, in former years, regularly worshipped by the
subjects of their descendants and successors.

[*Even men had the Rough and the Gentle Spirit; but a god had three
distinct spirits,--the Rough, the Gentle, and the
Bestowing,--respectively termed Ara-mi-tama, Nigi-mi-tama, and
Saki-mi-tama.--[See SATOW's Revival of Pure Shintau.]

Besides temples to deities presiding over industries and
agriculture,--or deities especially invoked by the peasants, such as
the goddess of silkworms, [128] the goddess of rice, the gods of wind
and weather,--there are to be found in almost every part of the
country what I may call propitiatory temples. These latter Shinto
shrines have been erected by way of compensation to spirits of
persons who suffered great injustice or misfortune. In these cases
the worship assumes a very curious character, the worshipper always
appealing for protection against the same kind of calamity or trouble
as that from which the apotheosized person suffered during life. In
Izumo, for example, I found a temple dedicated to the spirit of a
woman, once a prince's favourite. She had been driven to suicide by
the intrigues of jealous rivals. The story is that she had very
beautiful hair; but it was not quite black, and her enemies used to
reproach her with its color. Now mothers having children with
brownish hair pray to her that the brown may be changed to black; and
offerings are made to her of tresses of hair and Tokyo coloured
prints, for it is still remembered that she was fond of such prints.
In the same province there is a shrine erected to the spirit of a
young wife, who pined away for grief at the absence of her lord. She
used to climb a hill to watch for his return, and the shrine was
built upon the place where she waited; and wives pray there to her
for the safe return of absent husbands .... An almost similar kind of
propitiatory worship is practised in cemeteries. Public pity seeks to
apotheosize those [129] urged to suicide by cruelty, or those
executed for offences which, although legally criminal, were inspired
by patriotic or other motives commanding sympathy. Before their
graves offerings are laid and prayers are murmured. Spirits of
unhappy lovers are commonly invoked by young people who suffer from
the same cause .... And, among other forms of propitiatory worship I
must mention the old custom of erecting small shrines to spirits of
animals,--chiefly domestic animals,--either in recognition of dumb
service rendered and ill-rewarded, or as a compensation for pain
unjustly inflicted.

Yet another class of tutelar divinities remains to be noticed,--those
who dwell within or about the houses of men. Some are mentioned in
the old mythology, and are probably developments of Japanese
ancestor-worship; some are of alien origin; some do not appear to
have any temples; and some represent little more than what is called
Animism. This class of divinities corresponds rather to the Roman dii
genitales than to the Greek (Greek daemones). Suijin-Sarna, the God
of Wells; Kojin, the God of the Cooking-range (in almost every
kitchen there is either a tiny shrine for him, or a written charm
bearing his name); the gods of the Cauldron and Saucepan,
Kudo-no-Kami and Kobe-no-Kami (anciently called Okitsuhiko and
Okitsuhime); the Master of Ponds, Ike-no-Nushi, [130] supposed to
make apparition in the form of a serpent; the Goddess of the
Rice-pot, O-Kama-Sama; the Gods of the Latrina, who first taught men
how to fertilize their fields (these are commonly represented by
little figures of paper, having the forms of a man and a woman, but
faceless); the Gods of Wood and Fire and Metal; the Gods likewise of
Gardens, Fields, Scarecrows, Bridges, Hills, Woods, and Streams; and
also the Spirits of Trees (for Japanese mythology has its dryads):
most of these are undoubtedly of Shinto. On the other hand, we find
the roads under the protection of Buddhist deities chiefly. I have
not been able to learn anything regarding gods of
boundaries,--termes, as the Latins called them; and one sees only
images of the Buddhas at the limits of village territories. But in
almost every garden, on the north side, there is a little Shinto
shrine, facing what is called the Ki-Mon, or "Demon-Gate,"--that is
to say, the direction from which, according to Chinese teaching, all
evils come; and these little shrines, dedicated to various Shinto
deities, are supposed to protect the home from evil spirits. The
belief in the Ki-Mon is obviously a Chinese importation. One may
doubt, however, if Chinese influence alone developed the belief that
every part of a house,--every beam of it,--and every domestic utensil
has its invisible guardian. Considering this belief, it is not
surprising that the building of a [131] house--unless the house be in
foreign style--is still a religious act, and that the functions of a
master-builder include those of a priest.

This brings us to the subject of Animism.  (I doubt whether any
evolutionist of the contemporary school holds to the old-fashioned
notion that animism preceded ancestor-worship,--a theory involving
the assumption that belief in the spirits of inanimate objects was
evolved before the idea of a human ghost had yet been developed.) In
Japan it is now as difficult to draw the line between animistic
beliefs and the lowest forms of Shinto, as to establish a demarcation
between the vegetable and the animal worlds; but the earliest Shinto
literature gives no evidence of such a developed animism as that now
existing. Probably the development was gradual, and largely
influenced by Chinese beliefs. Still, we read in the Ko-ji-ki of
"evil gods who glittered like fireflies or were disorderly as
mayflies," and of "demons who made rocks, and stumps of trees, and
the foam of the green waters to speak,"--showing that animistic or
fetichistic notions were prevalent to some extent before the period
of Chinese influence. And it is significant that where animism is
associated with persistent worship (as in the matter of the reverence
paid to strangely shaped stones or trees), the form of the worship
is, in most cases, Shinto. Before such objects there is usually [132]
to be seen the model of a Shinto gateway,--torii.... With the
development of animism, under Chinese and Korean influence, the man
of Old Japan found himself truly in a world of spirits and demons.
They spoke to him in the sound of tides and of cataracts in the
moaning of wind and the whispers of leafage, in the crying of birds,
and the trilling of insects, in all the voices of nature. For him all
visible motion--whether of waves or grasses or shifting mist or
drifting cloud--was ghostly; and the never moving rocks--nay, the
very stones by the wayside--were informed with viewless and awful



We have seen that, in Old Japan, the world of the living was
everywhere ruled by the world of the dead,--that the individual, at
every moment of his existence, was under ghostly supervision. In his
home he was watched by the spirits of his fathers; without it, he was
ruled by the god of his district. All about him, and above him, and
beneath him were invisible powers of life and death. In his
conception of nature all things were ordered by the dead,--light and
darkness, weather and season, winds and tides, mist and rain, growth
and decay, sickness and health. The viewless atmosphere was a
phantom-sea, an ocean of ghost; the soil that he tilled was pervaded
by spirit-essence; the trees were haunted and holy; even the rocks
and the stones were infused with conscious life .... How might he
discharge his duty to the infinite concourse of the invisible?

Few scholars could remember the names of all the greater gods, not to
speak of the lesser; and no mortal could have found time to address
those greater gods by their respective names in his daily [134]
prayer. The later Shinto teachers proposed to simplify the duties of
the faith by prescribing one brief daily prayer to the gods in
general, and special prayers to a few gods in particular; and in thus
doing they were most likely confirming a custom already established
by necessity. Hirata wrote: "As the number of the gods who possess
different functions is very great, it will be convenient to worship
by name the most important only, and to include the rest in a general
petition." He prescribed ten prayers for persons having time to
repeat them, but lightened the duty for busy folk,--observing:
"Persons whose daily affairs are so multitudinous that they have not
time to go through all the prayers, may content themselves with
adoring (1) the residence of the Emperor, (2) the domestic
god-shelf,--kamidana, (3) the spirits of their ancestors, (4) their
local patron-god, Ujigami, (5) the deity of their particular
calling." He advised that the following prayer should be daily
repeated before the "god-shelf":--

"Reverently adoring the great god of the two palaces of Ise in the
first, place,--the eight hundred myriads of celestial gods,--the
eight hundred myriads of terrestrial gods,--the fifteen hundred
myriads of gods to whom are consecrated the great and small temples
in all provinces, all islands, and all places of the Great Land of
Eight Islands,--the fifteen hundred myriads of gods whom they cause
to serve them, and the gods of branch-palaces and branch-temples,
[135]--and Sohodo-no-Kami* whom I have invited to the shrine set up
on this divine shelf, and to whom I offer praises day by day,--I pray
with awe that they will deign to correct the unwilling faults which,
heard and seen by them, I have committed; and that, blessing and
favouring me according to the powers which they severally wield, they
will cause me to follow the divine example, and to perform good works
in the Way."**

[*Sohodo-no-Kami is the god of scarecrows,--protector of the fields.]
[**Translated by Satow.]

This text is interesting as an example of what Shinto's greatest
expounder thought a Shinto prayer should be; and, excepting the
reference to So-ho-do-no-Kami, the substance of it is that of the
morning prayer still repeated in Japanese households. But the modern
prayer is very much shorter.... In Izumo, the oldest Shinto province,
the customary morning worship offers perhaps the best example of the
ancient rules of devotion. Immediately upon rising, the worshipper
performs his ablutions; and after having washed his face and rinsed
his mouth, he turns to the sun, claps his hands, and with bowed head
reverently utters the simple greeting: "Hail to thee this day, August
One!" In thus adoring the sun he is also fulfilling his duty as a
subject, paying obeisance to the Imperial Ancestor .... The act is
performed out of doors, not kneeling, but standing; and the spectacle
of this simple worship is impressive. I can now see in memory,--
[136] just as plainly as I saw with my eyes many years ago, off the
wild Oki coast,--the naked figure of a young fisherman erect at the
prow of his boat, clapping his hands in salutation to the rising sun,
whose ruddy glow transformed him into a statue of bronze. Also I
retain a vivid memory of pilgrim-figures poised upon the topmost
crags of the summit of Fuji, clapping their hands in prayer, with
faces to the East .... Perhaps ten thousand--twenty thousand-years
ago all humanity so worshipped the Lord of Day ....

After having saluted the sun, the worshipper returns to his house, to
pray before the Kamidana and before the tablets of the ancestors.
Kneeling, he invokes the great gods of Ise or of Izumo, the gods of
the chief temples of his province, the god of his parish-temple also
(Ujigami), and finally all the myriads of the deities of Shinto.
These prayers are not said aloud. The ancestors are thanked for the
foundation of the home; the higher deities are invoked for aid and
protection .... As for the custom of bowing in the direction of the
Emperor's palace, I am not able to say to what extent it survives in
the remoter districts; but I have often seen the reverence performed.
Once, too, I saw reverence done immediately in front of the gates of
the palace in Tokyo by country-folk on a visit to the capital. They
knew me, because I had often sojourned in their village; and on
reaching Tokyo [137] they sought me out, and found me, I took them to
the palace; and before the main entrance they removed their hats, and
bowed, and clapped their hands, just as they would have done when
saluting the gods or the rising sun,--and this with a simple and
dignified reverence that touched me not a little.

The duties of morning worship, which include the placing of offerings
before the tablets, are not the only duties of the domestic cult. In
a Shinto household, where the ancestors and the higher gods are
separately worshipped, the ancestral shrine may be said to correspond
with the Roman lararium; while the "god-shelf," with its taima or
o-nusa (symbols of those higher gods especially revered by the
family), may be compared with the place accorded by Latin custom to
the worship of the Penates. Both Shinto cults have their particular
feast-days; and, in the case of the ancestor-cult, the feast-days are
occasions of religious assembly,--when the relatives of the family
should gather to celebrate the domestic rite .... The Shintoist must
also take part in the celebration of the festivals of the Ujigami,
and must at least aid in the celebration of the nine great national
holidays related to the national cult; these nine, out of a total
eleven, being occasions of imperial ancestor-worship.

The nature of the public rites varied according to [138] the rank of
the gods. Offerings and prayers were made to all; but the greater
deities were worshipped with exceeding ceremony. To-day the offerings
usually consist of food and rice-wine, together with symbolic
articles representing the costlier gifts of woven stuffs presented by
ancient custom. The ceremonies include processions, music, singing,
and dancing. At the very small shrines there are few
ceremonies,--only offerings of food are presented. But at the great
temples there are hierarchies of priests and priestesses
(miko)--usually daughters of priests; and the ceremonies are
elaborate and solemn. It is particularly at the temples of Ise
(where, down to the fourteenth century the high-priestess was a
daughter of emperors), or at the great temple of Izumo, that the
archaic character of the ceremonial can be studied to most advantage.
There, in spite of the passage of that huge wave of Buddhism, which
for a period almost submerged the more ancient faith, all things
remain as they were a score of centuries ago;--Time, in those haunted
precincts, would seem to have slept, as in the enchanted palaces of
fairy-tale. The mere shapes of the buildings, weird and tall, startle
by their unfamiliarity. Within, all is severely plain and pure: there
are no images, no ornaments, no symbols visible--except those strange
paper-cuttings (gohei), suspended to upright rods, which are symbols
of offerings and also tokens of the [139] viewless. By the number of
them in the sanctuary, you know the number of the deities to whom the
place is consecrate. There is nothing imposing but the space, the
silence, and the suggestion of the past. The innermost shrine is
veiled: it contains, perhaps, a mirror of bronze, an ancient sword,
or other object enclosed in multiple wrappings: that is all. For this
faith, older than icons, needs no images: its gods are ghosts; and
the void stillness of its shrines compels more awe than tangible
representation could inspire. Very strange, to Western eyes at least,
are the rites, the forms of the worship, the shapes of sacred
objects. Not by any modern method must the sacred fire be
lighted,--the fire that cooks the food of the gods: it can be kindled
only in the most ancient of ways, with a wooden fire-drill. The chief
priests are robed in the sacred colour,--white,--and wear headdresses
of a shape no longer seen elsewhere: high caps of the kind formerly
worn by lords and princes. Their assistants wear various colours,
according to grade; and the faces of none are completely
shaven;--some wear full beards, others the mustache only. The actions
and attitudes of these hierophants are dignified, yet archaic, in a
degree difficult to describe. Each movement is regulated by
tradition; and to perform well the functions of a Kannushi, a long
disciplinary preparation is necessary. The office is hereditary; the
training begins in boyhood; and [140] the impassive deportment
eventually acquired is really a wonderful thing. Officiating, the
Kannushi seems rather a statue than a man,--an image moved by
invisible strings;--and, like the gods, he never winks. Not at least
observably.... Once, during a great Shinto procession, several
Japanese friends, and I myself, undertook to watch a young priest on
horseback, in order to see how long he could keep from winking; and
none of us were able to detect the slightest movement of eyes or
eyelids, notwithstanding that the priest's horse became restive
during the time that we were watching.

The principal incidents of the festival ceremonies within the great
temples are the presentation of the offerings, the repetition of the
ritual, and the dancing of the priestesses. Each of these
performances retains a special character rigidly fixed by tradition.
The food-offerings are served upon archaic vessels of unglazed
pottery (red earthenware mostly): boiled rice pressed into cones of
the form of a sugar-loaf, various preparations of fish and of edible
sea-weed, fruits and fowls, rice-wine presented in jars of immemorial
shape. These offerings are carried into the temple upon white wooden
trays of curious form, and laid upon white wooden tables of equally
curious form;--the faces of the bearers being covered, below the
eyes, with sheets of white paper, in order that their breath may
[141] not contaminate the food of the gods; and the trays, for like
reason, must be borne at arms' length .... In ancient times the
offerings would seem to have included things much more costly than
food,--if we may credit the testimony of what are probably the oldest
documents extant in the Japanese tongue, the Shinto rituals, or
norito.* The following excerpt from Satow's translation of the ritual
prayer to the Wind-gods of Tatsuta is interesting, not only as a fine
example of the language of the norito, but also as indicating the
character of the great ceremonies in early ages, and the nature of
the offerings:--

[*Several have been translated by Satow, whose opinion of their
antiquity is here cited; and translations have also been made into

"As the great offerings set up for the Youth-god, I set up various
sorts of offerings: for Clothes, bright cloth, glittering cloth, soft
cloth, and coarse cloth,--and the five kinds of things, a mantlet, a
spear, a horse furnished with a saddle;--for the Maiden-god I set up
various sorts of offerings--providing Clothes, a golden thread-box, a
golden tatari, a golden skein-holder, bright cloth, glittering cloth,
soft cloth, and coarse cloth, and the five kinds of things, a horse
furnished with a saddle;--as to Liquor, I raise high the beer-jars,
fill and range-in-a-row the bellies of the beer-jars; soft grain and
coarse grain;--as to things which dwell in the hills, things soft of
hair and things coarse of hair;--as to things which grow in the great
field--plain, sweet herbs and bitter herbs;--as to things which dwell
in the blue sea-plain, things broad of fin and things narrow of
fin--down to the weeds of the offing and weeds of the [142] shore.
And if the sovran gods will take these great offerings which I set
up,--piling them up like a range of hills,--peacefully in their
hearts, as peaceful offerings and satisfactory offerings; and if the
sovran gods, deigning not to visit the things produced by, the great
People of the region under heaven with bad winds and rough waters,
will open and bless them,--I will at the autumn service set up the
first fruits, raising high the beer-jars, filling and ranging-in-rows
the bellies of the beer-jars,--and drawing them hither in juice and
in ear, in many hundred rice-plants and a thousand rice-plants. And
for this purpose the princes and councillors and all the
functionaries, the servants of the six farms of the country of
Yamato--even to the males and females of them--have all come and
assembled in the fourth month of this year, and, plunging down the
root of the neck cormorant-wise in the presence of the sovran gods,
fulfil their praise as the Sun of to-day rises in glory."...

The offerings are no longer piled up "like a range of hills," nor do
they include all things dwelling in the mountains and in the sea; but
the imposing ritual remains, and the ceremony is always impressive.
Not the least interesting part of it is the sacred dance. While the
gods are supposed to be partaking of the food and wine set out before
their shrines, the girl-priestesses, robed in crimson and white, move
gracefully to the sound of drums and flutes,--waving fans, or shaking
bunches of tiny bells as they circle about the sanctuary. According
to our Western notions. the performance of the [143] miko could
scarcely be called dancing; but it is a graceful spectacle, and very
curious,--for every step and attitude is regulated by traditions of
unknown antiquity. As for the plaintive music, no Western ear can
discern in it anything resembling a real melody; but the gods should
find delight in it, because it is certainly performed for them to-day
exactly as it used to be performed twenty centuries ago.

I speak of the ceremonies especially as I have witnessed them in
Izumo: they vary somewhat according to cult and province. At the
shrines of Ise, Kasuga, Kompira, and several others which I visited,
the ordinary priestesses are children; and when they have reached the
nubile age, they retire from the service. At Kitzuki the priestesses
are grown-up women: their office is hereditary; and they are
permitted to retain it even after marriage.

Formerly the Miko was more than a mere officiant: the songs which she
is still obliged to learn indicate that she was originally offered to
the gods as a bride. Even yet her touch is holy; the grain sown by
her hand is blessed. At some time in the past she seems to have been
also a pythoness: the spirits of the gods possessed her and spoke
through her lips. All the poetry of this most ancient of religions
centres in the figure of its little Vestal,--child-bride of
ghosts,--as she flutters, [144] like some wonderful white-and-crimson
butterfly, before the shrine of the Invisible. Even in these years of
change, when she must go to the public school, she continues to
represent all that is delightful in Japanese girlhood; for her
special home-training keeps her reverent, innocent, dainty in all her
little ways, and worthy to remain the pet of the gods.

The history of the higher forms of ancestor-worship in other
countries would lead us to suppose that the public ceremonies of the
Shinto-cult must include some rite of purification. As a matter of
fact, the most important of all Shinto ceremonies is the ceremony of
purification,--o-harai, as it is called, which term signifies the
casting-out or expulsion of evils .... In ancient Athens a
corresponding ceremony took place every year; in Rome, every four
years. The o-harai is performed twice every year,--in the sixth month
and the twelfth month by the ancient calendar. It used to be not less
obligatory than the Roman lustration; and the idea behind the
obligation was the same as that which inspired the Roman laws on the
subject .... So long as men believe that the welfare of the living
depends upon the will of the dead,--that all happenings in the world
are ordered by spirits of different characters, evil as well as
good,--that every bad action lends additional power to the viewless
[145] forces of destruction, and therefore endangers the public
prosperity,--so long will the necessity of a public purification
remain an article of common faith. The presence in any community of
even one person who has offended the gods, consciously or
unwillingly, is a public misfortune, a public peril. Yet it is not
possible for all men to live so well as never to vex the gods by
thought, word, or deed,--through passion or ignorance or
carelessness. "Every one," declares Hirata, "is certain to commit
accidental offences, however careful he may be... Evil acts and words
are of two kinds: those of which we are conscious, and those of which
we are not conscious .... It is better to assume that we have
committed such unconscious offences." Now it should be remembered
that for the man of Old Japan,--as for the Greek or the Roman citizen
of early times,--religion consisted chiefly in the exact observance
of multitudinous custom; and that it was therefore difficult to know
whether, in performing the duties of the several cults, one had not
inadvertently displeased the Unseen. As a means of maintaining and
assuring the religious purity of the people periodical lustration was
consequently deemed indispensable.

From the earliest period Shinto exacted scrupulous cleanliness
--indeed, we might say that it regarded physical impurity as
identical with moral impurity, and intolerable to the gods. It has
[146] always been, and still remains, a religion of ablutions. The
Japanese love of cleanliness--indicated by the universal practice of
daily bathing, and by the irreproachable condition of their homes has
been maintained, and was probably initiated, by their religion.
Spotless cleanliness being required by the rites of
ancestor-worship,--in the temple, in the person of the officiant, and
in the home,--this rule of purity was naturally extended by degrees
to all the conditions of existence. And besides the great periodical
ceremonies of purification, a multitude of minor lustrations were
exacted by the cult. This was the case also, it will be remembered in
the early Greek and Roman civilizations--the citizen had to submit
to purification upon almost every important occasion of existence.
There were lustrations indispensable at birth, marriage, and death;
lustrations on the eve of battle; lustrations at regular periods, of
the dwelling, estate, district, or city. And, as in Japan, no one
could approach a temple without a preliminary washing of hands. But
ancient Shinto exacted more than the Greek or the Roman cult: it
required the erection of special houses for birth,
--"parturition-houses"; special houses for the consummation of
marriage,--"nuptial-huts"; and special buildings for the
dead,--"mourning-houses." Formerly women were obliged during the
period of menstruation, as well as during the time of confinement, to
live apart. These harsher archaic customs [147] have almost
disappeared, except in one or two remote districts, and in the case
of certain priestly families; but the general rules as to
purification, and as to the times and circumstances forbidding
approach to holy places, are still everywhere obeyed. Purity of heart
is not less insisted upon than physical purity; and the great rite of
lustration, performed every six months, is of course a moral
purification. It is performed not only at the great temples, and at
all the Ujigami, but likewise in every home


[*On the kamidana, "or god-shelf," there is usually placed a kind
of oblong paper-box containing fragments of the wands used by the
priests of Ise at the great national purification-ceremony, or
o-harai.  This box is commonly called by the name of the
ceremony, o-harai, or "august purification," and is inscribed
with the names of the great gods of Ise.  The presence of this
object is supposed to protect the home; but it should be replaced
by a new o-harai at the expiration of six months; for the virtue
of the charm is supposed to last only during the interval between
two official purifications.  This distribution to thousands of
homes of fragments of the wands, used to "drive away evils" at
the time of the Ise lustration, represents of course the supposed
extension of the high-priest's protection to those homes until
the time of the next o-harai.

The modern domestic form of the harai is very simple.  Each
Shinto parish-temple furnishes to all its Ujiko, or parishioners,
small paper-cuttings called hitogata ("mankind-shapes"),
representing figures of men, women, and children as in
silhouette,--only that the paper is white, and folded curiously.
Each household receives a number of hitogata corresponding to the
number of its members,--"men-shapes" for the men and boys,

[148] for the women and girls.  Each person in the house touches his
head, face, limbs, and body with one of these hitogata; repeating the
while a Shinto invocation, and praying that any misfortune or
sickness incurred by reason of offences involuntarily committed
against the gods (for in Shinto belief sickness and misfortune are
divine punishments) may be mercifully taken away. Upon each hitogata
is then written the age and sex (not the name) of the person for whom
it was furnished; and when this has been done, all are returned to
the parish-temple, and there burnt, with rites of purification. Thus
the community is "lustrated" every six Months.

In the old Greek and Latin cities lustration was accompanied with
registration. The attendance of every citizen at the ceremony was
held to be so necessary that one who wilfully failed to attend might
be whipped and sold as a slave. Non-attendance involved loss of civic
rights. It would seem that in Old Japan also every member of a
community was obliged to be present at the rite; but I have not been
able to learn whether any registration was made upon such occasions.
Probably it would have been superfluous: the Japanese individual was
not officially recognized; the family-group alone was responsible,
and the attendance of the several members would have been assured by
the responsibility of the group. The use of the hitogata, on which
the name is not written, but only the sex and age [149] of the
worshipper, is probably modern, and of Chinese origin. Official
registration existed, even in early times; but it appears to have had
no particular relation to the o-harai; and the registers were kept,
it seems, not by the Shinto, but by the Buddhist parish-priests ....
In concluding these remarks about the o-harai, I need scarcely add
that special rites were performed in cases of accidental religious
defilement, and that any person judged to have sinned against the
rules of the public cult had to submit to ceremonial purification.

Closely related by origin to the rites of purification are sundry
ascetic practices of Shinto. It is not an essentially ascetic
religion: it offers flesh and wine to its gods; and it prescribes
only such forms of self-denial as ancient custom and decency require.
Nevertheless, some of its votaries perform extraordinary austerities
on special occasions,--austerities which always include much
cold-water bathing. It is not uncommon for the very fervent
worshipper to invoke the gods as he stands naked under the ice-cold
rush of a cataract in midwinter .... But the most curious phase of
this Shinto asceticism is represented by a custom still prevalent in
remote districts. According to this custom a community yearly
appoints one of its citizens to devote himself wholly to the gods on
behalf of the rest. During the term of his consecration, this
communal representative [150] must separate from his family, must not
approach women, must avoid all places of amusement, must eat only
food cooked with sacred fire, must abstain from wine, must bathe in
fresh cold water several times a day, must repeat particular prayers
at certain hours, and must keep vigil upon certain nights. When he
has performed these duties of abstinence and purification for the
specified time, he becomes religiously free; and another man is then
elected to take his place. The prosperity of the settlement is
supposed to depend upon the exact observance by its representative of
the duties prescribed: should any public misfortune occur, he would
be suspected of having broken his vows. Anciently, in the case of a
common misfortune, the representative was put to death. In the little
town of Mionoseki, where I first learned of this custom, the communal
representative is called ichi-nen-gannushi ("one-year god-master");
and his full term of vicarious atonement is twelve months. I was told
that elders are usually appointed for this duty,--young men very
seldom. In ancient times such a communal representative was called by
a name signifying "abstainer." References to the custom have been
found in Chinese notices of Japan dating from a time before the
beginning of Japanese authentic history.

Every persistent form of ancestor-worship has its [151] system or
systems of divination; and Shinto exemplifies the general law.
Whether divination ever obtained in ancient Japan the official
importance which it assumed among the Greeks and the Romans is at
present doubtful. But long before the introduction of Chinese
astrology, magic, and fortune-telling, the Japanese practised various
kinds of divination, as is proved by their ancient poetry, their
records, and their rituals. We find mention also of official
diviners, attached to the great cults. There was divination by bones,
by birds, by rice, by barley-gruel, by footprints, by rods planted in
the ground, and by listening in public ways to the speech of people
passing by. Nearly all--probably all--of these old methods of
divination are still in popular use. But the earliest form of
official divination was performed by scorching the shoulder-blade of
a deer, or other animal, and observing the cracks produced by the
heat.* Tortoise-shells were afterwards used for the same purpose.
Diviners were especially attached, it appears, to the imperial
palace; and Motowori, writing in the latter half of the eighteenth
century, speaks of divination as still being, in that epoch, a part
of the imperial function. "To the end of time," he said, "the Mikado
is the child of the Sun-goddess. His mind is in perfect harmony of
thought and feeling with hers. He does not seek out new inventions;
but he rules in accordance with precedents which date from the Age of
the Gods; and if he is ever in doubt, he has recourse to divination,
which reveals to him the mind of the great goddess."

[*Concerning this form of divination, Satow remarks that it was
practised by the Mongols in the time of Genghis Khan, and is still
practised by the Khirghiz Tartars,--facts of strong interest in view
of the probable origin of the early Japanese tribes. For instances of
ancient official divination see Aston's translation of the Nihongi,
Vol. I, pp. 157, 189, 227, 299, 237.]

[152] Within historic times at least, divination would not seem to
have been much used in warfare,--certainly not to the extent that it
was used by the Greek and Roman armies. The greatest Japanese
captains,--such as Hideyoshi and Nobunaga--were decidedly irreverent
as to omens. Probably the Japanese, at an early period of their long
military history, learned by experience that the general who conducts
his campaign according to omens must always be at a hopeless
disadvantage in dealing with a skilful enemy who cares nothing about

Among the ancient popular forms of divination which still survive,
the most commonly practised in households is divination by dry rice.
For the public, Chinese divination is still in great favour; but it
is interesting to observe that the Japanese fortune-teller invariably
invokes the Shinto gods before consulting his Chinese books, and
maintains a Shinto shrine in his reception-room.

[153] We have seen that the developments of ancestor-worship in Japan
present remarkable analogies with the developments of
ancestor-worship in ancient Europe,--especially in regard to the
public cult, with its obligatory rites of purification.

But Shinto seems nevertheless to represent conditions of
ancestor-worship less developed than those which we are accustomed to
associate with early Greek and Roman life; and the coercion which it
exercised appears to have been proportionally more rigid. The
existence of the individual worshipper was ordered not merely in
relation to the family and the community, but even in relation to
inanimate things. Whatever his occupation might be, some god presided
over it; whatever tools he might use, they had to be used in such
manner as tradition prescribed for all admitted to the craft-cult. It
was necessary that the carpenter should so perform his work as to
honour the deity of carpenters,--that the smith should fulfil his
daily task so as to honour the god of the bellows,--that the farmer
should never fail in respect to the earth-god, and the food-god, and
the scare-crow god, and the spirits of the trees--about his
habitation. Even the domestic utensils were sacred: the servant could
not dare to forget the presence of the deities of the cooking-range,
the hearth, the cauldron, the brazier,--or the supreme necessity of
keeping the fire pure. The professions, not less [154] than the
trades, were under divine patronage: the physician, the teacher, the
artist--each had his religious duties to observe, his special
traditions to obey. The scholar, for example, could not dare to treat
his writing-implements with disrespect, or put written paper to
vulgar uses: such conduct would offend the god of calligraphy. Nor
were women ruled less religiously than men in their various
occupations: the spinners and weaving-maidens were bound to revere
the Weaving-goddess and the Goddess of Silkworms; the sewing-girl was
taught to respect her needles; and in all homes there was observed a
certain holiday upon which offerings were made to the Spirits of
Needles. In Samurai families the warrior was commanded to consider
his armour and his weapons as holy things: to keep them in beautiful
order was an obligation of which the neglect might bring misfortune
in the time of combat; and on certain days offerings were set before
the bows and spears, arrows and swords, and other war-implements, in
the alcove of the family guest-room. Gardens, too, were holy; and
there were rules to be observed in their management, lest offence
should be given to the gods of trees and flowers. Carefulness,
cleanliness, dustlessness, were everywhere enforced as religious

... It has often been remarked in these latter days that the Japanese
do not keep their public offices, their railway stations, their new
factory-buildings, [155] thus scrupulously clean. But edifices built
foreign style, with foreign material, under foreign supervision, and
contrary to every local tradition, must seem to old-fashioned
thinking God-forsaken places; and servants amid such unhallowed
surroundings do not feel the invisible about them, the weight of
pious custom, the silent claim of beautiful and simple things to
human respect.




It should now be evident to the reader that the ethics of Shinto were
all comprised in the doctrine of unqualified obedience to customs
originating, for the most part, in the family cult. Ethics were not
different from religion; religion was not different from government;
and the very word for government signified "matters-of-religion." All
government ceremonies were preceded by prayer and sacrifice; and from
the highest rank of society to the lowest every person was subject to
the law of tradition. To obey was piety; to disobey was impious; and
the rule of obedience was enforced upon each individual by the will
of the community to which he belonged. Ancient morality consisted in
the minute observance of rules of conduct regarding the household,
the community, and the higher authority.

But these rules of behaviour mostly represented the outcome of social
experience; and it was scarcely possible to obey them faithfully, and
yet to remain a bad man. They commanded reverence toward the Unseen,
respect for authority, affection to parents, [158] tenderness to wife
and children, kindness to neighbours, kindness to dependants,
diligence and exactitude in labour, thrift and cleanliness in habit.
Though at first morality signified no more than obedience to
tradition, tradition itself gradually became identified with true
morality. To imagine the consequent social condition is, of course,
somewhat difficult for the modern mind. Among ourselves, religious
ethics and social ethics have long been practically dissociated; and
the latter have become, with the gradual weakening of faith, more
imperative and important than the former. Most of us learn, sooner or
later in life, that it is not enough to keep the ten commandments,
and that it is much less dangerous to break most of the commandments
in a quiet way than to violate social custom. But in Old Japan there
was no distinction tolerated between ethics and custom--between moral
requirements and social obligations: convention identified both, and
to conceal a breach of either was impossible,--as privacy did not
exist. Moreover the unwritten commandments were not limited to ten;
they were numbered by hundreds, and the least infringement was
punishable, not merely as a blunder, but as a sin. Neither in his own
home nor anywhere else could the ordinary person do as he pleased;
and the extraordinary person was under the surveillance of zealous
dependants whose constant duty was to reprove any breach of usage.
The religion capable [159] of regulating every act of existence by
the force of common opinion requires no catechism.

Early moral custom must be coercive custom.  But as many habits, at
first painfully formed under compulsion only, become easy through
constant repetition, and at last automatic, so the conduct compelled
through many generations by religious and civil authority, tends
eventually to become almost instinctive. Much depends, no doubt, upon
the degree to which religious compulsion is hindered by exterior
causes,--by long-protracted war, for example,--and in Old Japan there
was interference extraordinary. Nevertheless, the influence of Shinto
accomplished wonderful things,--evolved a national type of character
worthy, in many ways, of earnest admiration. The ethical sentiment
developed in that character differed widely from our own; but it was
exactly adapted to the social requirements. For this national type of
moral character was invented the name Yamato-damashi (or
Yamato-gokoro),--the Soul of Yamato (or Heart of Yamato),--the
appellation of the old province of Yamato, seat of the early
emperors, being figuratively used for the entire country. We might
correctly, though less literally, interpret the expression
Yamato-damashi as "The Soul of Old Japan."

It was in reference to this "Soul of Old Japan" that the great Shinto
scholars of the eighteenth [160] and nineteenth centuries put forth
their bold assertion that conscience alone was a sufficient ethical
guide. They declared the high quality of the Japanese conscience a
proof of the divine origin of the race. "Human beings," wrote
Motowori, "having been produced by the spirits of the two Creative
Deities, are naturally endowed with the knowledge of what they ought
to do, and of what they ought to refrain from doing. It is
unnecessary for them to trouble their minds with systems of morality.
If a system of morals were necessary, men would be inferior to
animals,--all of whom are endowed with the knowledge of what they
ought to do, only in an inferior degree to men."*... [*All of these
extracts are quoted from Satow's great essay on the Shinto revival.]
Mabuchi, at an earlier day, had made a comparison between Japanese
and Chinese morality, greatly to the disadvantage of the latter. "In
ancient times," said Mabuchi, "when men's dispositions were
straightforward, a complicated system of morals was unnecessary. It
would naturally happen that bad actions might be occasionally
committed; but the straightforwardness of men's dispositions would
prevent the evil from being concealed and so growing in extent. So in
those days it was unnecessary to have a doctrine of right and wrong.
But the Chinese, being bad at heart, in spite of the teaching which
they got, were good [161] only on the outside; so their bad acts
became of such magnitude that society was thrown into disorder. The
Japanese, being straightforward, could do without teaching." Motowori
repeated these ideas in a slightly different way: "It is because the
Japanese were truly moral in their practice, that, they required no
theory of morals; and the fuss made by the Chinese about theoretical
morals is owing to their laxity, in practice.... To have learned that
there is no Way [ethical system] to be learned and practised, is
really to have learned to practise the Way of the Gods." At a later
day Hirata wrote "Learn to stand in awe of the Unseen, and that will
prevent you from doing wrong. Cultivate the conscience implanted in
you then you will never wander from the Way."

Though the sociologist may smile at these declarations of moral
superiority (especially as based on the assumption that the race had
been better in primeval times, when yet fresh from the hands of the
gods), there was in them a grain of truth. When Mabuchi and Motowori
wrote, the nation had been long subjected to a discipline of almost
incredible minuteness in detail, and of extraordinary rigour in
application. And this discipline had actually brought into existence
a wonderful average of character,--a character of surprising
patience, unselfishness, honesty, kindliness, and docility combined
with high courage. But only the evolutionist [162] can imagine what
the cost of developing that character must have been.

It is necessary here to observe that the discipline to which the
nation had been subjected up to the age of the great Shinto writers,
seems to have had a curious evolutional history of its own. In
primitive times it had been much less uniform, less complex, less
minutely organized, though not less implacable; and it had continued
to develop and elaborate more and more with the growth and
consolidation of society, until, under the Tokugawa Shogunate the
possible maximum of regulation was reached. In other words, the yoke
had been made heavier and heavier in proportion to the growth of the
national strength,--in proportion to the power of the people to bear
it.... We have seen that, from the beginning of this civilization,
the whole life of the citizen was ordered for him: his occupation,
his marriage, his rights of fatherhood, his rights to hold or to
dispose of property,--all these matters were settled by religious
custom. We have also seen that outside as well as inside of his home,
his actions were under supervision, and that a single grave breach of
usage might cause his social ruin,--in which case he would be given
to understand that he was not merely a social, but also a religious
offender; that the communal god was angry with him; and that to
pardon his fault might [163] provoke the divine vengeance against the
entire settlement. But it yet remains to be seen what rights were
left him by the central authority ruling his district,--which
authority represented a third form of religious despotism from which
there was no appeal in ordinary cases.

Material for the study of the old laws and customs have not yet been
collected in sufficient quantity to yield us full information as to
the conditions of all classes before Meiji. But a great deal of
precious work has been accomplished in this direction by American
scholars; and the labours of Professor Wigmore and of the late Dr.
Simmons have furnished documentary evidence from which much can be
learned about the legal status of the masses during the Tokugawa
period. This, as I have said, was the period of the most elaborated
regulation. The extent to which the people were controlled can be
best inferred from the nature and number of the sumptuary laws to
which they were subjected. Sumptuary laws in Old Japan probably
exceeded in multitude and minuteness anything of which Western legal
history yields record. Rigidly as the family-cult dictated behaviour
in the home, strictly as the commune enforced its standards of
communal duty,--just so rigidly and strictly did the rulers of the
nation dictate how the individual--man, woman, or child--should
dress, walk, sit, [164] speak, work, eat, drink. Amusements were not
less unmercifully regulated than were labours.

Every class of Japanese society was under sumptuary regulation,--the
degree of regulation varying in different centuries; and this kind of
legislation appears to have been established at an early period. It
is recorded that, in the year 681 A.D., the Emperor Temmu regulated
the costumes of all classes,--"from the Princes of the Blood down to
the common people,--and the wearing of headdresses and girdles, as
well as of all kinds of coloured stuffs,--according to a scale."* [*
See Nihongi Aston's translation, Vol. II, pp. 343, 349, 350.] The
costumes and the colours to be worn by priests and nuns had been
already fixed, by an edict issued in 679 A.D. Afterwards these
regulations were greatly multiplied and detailed. But it was under
the Tokugawa rulers, a thousand years later, that sumptuary laws
obtained their most remarkable development; and the nature of them is
best: indicated by the regulations applying to the peasantry. Every
detail of the farmer's existence was prescribed for by law,--from the
size, form, and cost of his dwelling, down even to such trifling
matters as the number and the quality of the dishes to be served to
him at meal-times. A farmer with an income of 100 koku of rice--(let
us say 90 to 100 pounds per annum)--might build a house 60 feet long,
but no longer: he was forbidden to construct it with a room
containing an alcove; and he was not [165] allowed--except by special
permission--to roof it with tiles. None of his family were permitted
to wear silk; and in case of the marriage of his daughter to a person
legally entitled to wear silk, the bridegroom was to be requested not
to wear silk at the wedding. Three kinds of viands only were to be
served at the wedding of such a farmer's daughter or son; and the
quality as well as the quantity of the soup, fish, or sweetmeats
offered to the wedding-guests, were legally fixed. So likewise the
number of the wedding-gifts: even the cost of the presents, of
rice-wine and dried fish was prescribed, and the quality of the
single fan which it was permissible to offer the bride. At no time
was a farmer allowed to make any valuable presents to his friends. At
a funeral he might serve the guests with certain kinds of plain food;
but if rice-wine were served it was not to be served in
wine-cups,--only in soup-cups! (The latter regulation probably
referred to Shinto funerals in especial.) On the occasion of a
child's birth, the grandparents were allowed to make only four
presents (according to custom),--including "one cotton baby-dress";
and the values of the presents were fixed. On the occasion of the
Boy's Festival, the presents to be given to the child by the whole
family, including grandparents, were limited by law to "one
paper-flag," and "two toy-spears." ... A farmer whose, property was
assessed at 50 koku was forbidden to [166] build a house more than 45
feet long. At the wedding of his daughter the gift-girdle was not to
exceed 50 sen in value; and it was forbidden to serve more than one
kind of soup at the wedding-feast.... A farmer with a property
assessed at 20 koku was not allowed to build a house more than 36
feet long, or to use in building it such superior qualities of wood
as keyaki or hinoki. The roof of his house was to be made of
bamboo-thatch or straw; and he was strictly forbidden the comfort of
floor-mats. On the occasion of the wedding of his daughter he was
forbidden to have fish or any roasted food served at the
wedding-feast. The women of his family were not allowed to wear
leather sandals: they might wear only straw-sandals or wooden clogs;
and the thongs of the sandals or the clogs were to be made of cotton.
The women were further forbidden to wear hair-bindings of silk, or
hair-ornaments of tortoise-shells; but they might wear wooden combs
and combs of bone--not ivory. The men were forbidden to wear
stockings, and their sandals were to be made of bamboo.* [*There are
sandals or clogs made of bamboo-wood, but the meaning here is
bamboo-grass.] They were also forbidden to use sun-shades
--hi-gasa--or paper-umbrellas.... A farmer assessed at 10 koku was
forbidden to build a house more than 30 feet long. The women of his
family were required to wear sandals with thongs of [167]
bamboo-grass. At the wedding of his son or daughter one present only
was allowed,--a quilt-chest. At the birth of his child one present
only was to be made: namely, one toy-spear, in the case of a boy; or
one paper-doll, or one "mud-doll," in the case of a girl... As for
the more unfortunate class of farmers, having no land of their own,
and officially termed mizunomi, or "water-drinkers," it is scarcely
necessary to remark that these were still more severely restricted in
regard to food, apparel, etc. They were not even allowed, for
example, to have a quilt-chest as a wedding-present. But a fair idea
of the complexity of these humiliating restrictions can only be
obtained by reading the documents published by Professor Wigmore,
which chiefly consist of paragraphs like these:--

"The collar and the sleeve-ends of the clothes may be ornamented with
silk, and an obi (soft girdle) of silk or crepe-silk may be worn--but
not in public." ...

"A family ranking less than 20 koku must use the Takeda-wan (Takeda
rice-bowl), and the Nikko-zen (Nikko tray).".. (These were utensils
of the cheapest kind of lacquer-ware.)

"Large farmers or chiefs of Kumi may use umbrellas; but small farmers
and farm-labourers must use only mino (straw-raincoats), and broad
straw-hats." ...

These documents published by Professor Wigmore contain only the
regulations issued for the daimiate of Maizuru; but regulations
equally [168] minute and vexatious appear to have been enforced
throughout the whole country. In Izumo I found that, prior to Meiji,
there were sumptuary laws prescribing not only the material of the
dresses to be worn by the various classes, but even the colours of
them, and the designs of the patterns. The size of rooms, as well as
the size of houses, was fixed there by law,--also the height of
buildings and of fences, the number of windows, the material of
construction.... It is difficult for the Western mind to understand
how human beings could patiently submit to laws that regulated not
only the size of one's dwelling, and the cost of its furniture, but
even the substance and character of clothing,--not only the expense
of a wedding outfit, but the quality of the marriage-feast, and the
quality of the vessels in which the food was to be served,--not only
the kind of ornaments to be worn in a woman's hair, but the material
of the thongs of her sandals,--not only the price of presents to be
made to friends, but the character and the cost of the cheapest toy
to be given to a child. And the peculiar constitution of society made
it possible to enforce this sumptuary legislation by communal will;
the people were obliged to coerce themselves! Each community, as we
have seen, had been organized in groups of five or more households,
called kumi; and the heads of the households forming a kumi elected
one of their number as kumi-gashira, or group-chief, directly [169]
responsible to the higher authority. The kumi was accountable for the
conduct of each and all of its members; and each member was in some
sort responsible for the rest. "Every member of a kumi," declares one
of the documents above mentioned, "must carefully watch the conduct
of his fellow-members. If any one violates these regulations, without
due excuse, he is to be punished; and his kumi will also be held
responsible." Responsible even for the serious offence of giving more
than one paper-doll to a child! ... But we should remember that in
early Greek and Roman societies there was much legislation of a
similar kind. The laws of Sparta regulated the way in which a woman
should dress her hair; the laws of Athens fixed the number of her
robes. At Rome, in early times, women were forbidden to drink wine;
and a similar law existed in the Greek cities of Miletus and
Massilia. In Rhodes and Byzantium the citizen was forbidden to shave;
in Sparta he was forbidden to wear a moustache. (I need scarcely
refer to the later Roman laws regulating the cost of marriage-feasts,
and the number of guests that might be invited to a banquet; for this
legislation was directed chiefly against luxury.) The astonishment
evoked by Japanese sumptuary laws, particularly as inflicted upon the
peasantry, is justified less by their general character than by their
implacable minuteness,--their ferocity of detail.... [170] Where a
man's life was legally ordered even to the least particulars,--even
to the quality of his foot-gear and head-gear, the cost of his wife's
hairpins, and the price of his child's doll,--one could hardly
suppose that freedom of speech would have been tolerated. It did not
exist; and the degree to which speech became regulated can be
imagined only by those who have studied the spoken tongue. The
hierarchical organization of society was faithfully reflected in the
conventional organization of language,--in the ordination of
pronouns, nouns, and verbs,--in the grades conferred upon adjectives
by prefixes or suffixes. With the same merciless exactitude which
prescribed rules for dress, diet, and manner of life, all utterance
was regulated both negatively and positively,--but positively much
more than negatively. There was little insistence upon what was not
to be said; but rules innumerable decided exactly what should be
said,--the word to be chosen, the phrase to be used. Early training
enforced caution in this regard: everybody had to learn that only
certain verbs and nouns and pronouns were lawful when addressing
superiors, and other words permissible only when speaking to equals
or to inferiors. Even the uneducated were obliged to learn something
about this. But education cultivated a system of verbal etiquette so
multiform that only the training of years could enable any one to
master it. Among the [171] higher classes this etiquette developed
almost inconceivable complexity. Grammatical modifications of
language, which, by implication, exalted the person addressed or
humbly depreciated the person addressing, must have come into general
use at some very early period; but under subsequent Chinese influence
these forms of propitiatory speech multiplied exceedingly. From the
Mikado himself--who still makes use of personal pronouns, or at least
pronominal expressions, forbidden to any other mortal--down through
all the grades of society, each class had an "I" peculiarly its own.
Of terms corresponding to "you" or "thou" there are still sixteen in
use; but formerly there were many more. There are yet eight different
forms of the second person singular used only in addressing children,
pupils, or servants.* Honorific or humble forms of nouns indicating
relationship were similarly multiplied and graded: there are still in
use nine terms signifying "father," nine terms signifying "mother,"
eleven terms for "wife," eleven terms for "son," nine terms for
"daughter," and seven terms for "husband." The rules of the verb,
above all, were complicated by the exigencies of etiquette to a [172]
degree of which no idea can be given in any brief statement.... At
nineteen or twenty years of age a person carefully trained from
childhood might have learned all the necessary verbal usages of
respectable society; but for a mastery of the etiquette of superior
converse many more years of study and experience were required. With
the unceasing multiplication of ranks and classes there came into
existence a corresponding variety of forms of language: it was
possible to ascertain to what class a man or a woman belonged by
listening to his or to her conversation. The written, like the spoken
tongue, was regulated by strict convention: the forms used by women
were not those used by men; and those differences in verbal etiquette
arising from the different training of the sexes resulted in the
creation of a special epistolary style,--a "woman's language," which
remains in use. And this sex-differentiation of language was not
confined to letter-writing: there was a woman's language also of
converse, varying according to class. Even to-day, in ordinary
conversation, an educated woman makes use of words and phrases not
employed by men. Samurai women especially had their particular forms
of expression in feudal times; and it is still possible to decide,
from the speech of any woman brought up according to the old
home-training, whether she belongs to a Samurai family.

[*The sociologist will of course understand that these facts are not
by any means inconsistent with that very sparing use of pronouns so
amusingly discussed in Percival Lowell's "Soul of the Far East." In
societies where subjection is extreme "there is an avoidance of the
use of personal pronouns," though, as Herbert Spencer points out in
illustrating this law, it is just among such societies that the most
elaborate distinctions in pronominal forms of address are to be

[173] Of course the matter as well as the manner of converse was
restricted; and the nature of the restraints upon free speech can be
inferred from the nature of the restraints upon freedom of demeanour.
Demeanour was most elaborately and mercilessly regulated, not merely
as to obeisances, of which there were countless grades, varying
according to sex as well as class,--but even in regard to facial
expression, the manner of smiling, the conduct of the breath, the way
of sitting, standing, walking, rising. Everybody was trained from
infancy in this etiquette of expression and deportment. At what
period it first became a mark of disrespect to betray, by look or
gesture, any feeling of grief or pain in the presence of a superior,
we cannot know; there is reason to believe that the most perfect
self-control in this regard was enforced from prehistoric times. But
there was gradually developed--partly, perhaps, under Chinese
teaching--a most elaborate code of deportment which exacted very much
more than impassiveness. It required not only that any sense of anger
or pain should be denied all outward expression, but that the
sufferer's face and manner should indicate the contrary feeling.
Sullen submission was an offence; mere impassive obedience
inadequate: the proper degree of submission should manifest itself by
a pleasant smile, and by a soft and happy tone of voice. The smile,
however, was also regulated. [174] One had to be careful about the
quality of the smile: it was a mortal offence, for example, so to
smile in addressing a superior, that the back teeth could be seen. In
the military class especially this code of demeanour was ruthlessly
enforced. Samurai women were required, like the women of Sparta, to
show signs of joy on hearing that their husbands or sons had fallen
in battle: to betray any natural feeling under the circumstances was
a grave breach of decorum. And in all classes demeanour was regulated
so severely that even to-day the manners of the people everywhere
still reveal the nature of the old discipline. The strangest fact is
that the old-fashioned manners appear natural rather than acquired,
instinctive rather than made by training. The bow,--the sibilant in
drawing of the breath which accompanies the prostration, and is
practised also in praying to the gods,--the position of the hands
upon the floor in the moment of greeting or of farewell,--the way of
sitting or rising or walking in presence of a guest,--the manner of
receiving or presenting anything,--all these ordinary actions have a
charm of seeming naturalness that mere teaching seems incapable of
producing. And this is still more true of the higher etiquette,--the
exquisite etiquette of the old-time training in cultivated classes,
--particularly as displayed by women. We must suppose that the
capacity to acquire such manners depends considerably upon
inheritance,--that it could only have [175] been formed by the past
experience of the race under discipline.

What such discipline, as regards politeness, must have signified for
the mass of the people, may be inferred from the enactment of Iyeyasu
authorizing a Samurai to kill any person of the three inferior
classes guilty of rudeness. Be it observed that Iyeyasu was careful
to qualify the meaning of "rude": he said that the Japanese term for
a rude fellow signified "an other-than-expected person"--so that to
commit an offence worthy of death it was only necessary to act in an
"unexpected manner"; that is to say, contrary to prescribed

"The Samurai are the masters of the four classes. Agriculturists,
artizans, and merchants may not behave in a rude manner towards
Samurai. The term for a rude man is an 'other-than-expected fellow';
and a Samurai is not to be interfered with in cutting down a fellow
who has behaved to him in a manner other than is expected. The
Samurai are grouped into direct retainers, secondary retainers, and
nobles and retainers of high and low grade; but the same line of
conduct is equally allowable to them all towards an
other-than-expected fellow."--[Art. 45.]

But there is little reason to suppose that Iyeyasu created any new
privilege of slaughter: he probably did no more than confirm by
enactment certain long established military rights. Stern rules about
the conduct of inferiors to superiors would seem to have been
pitilessly enforced long before the rise of the [176] military power.
We read that the Emperor Yuriaku, in the latter part of the fifth
century, killed a steward for the misdemeanour of remaining silent,
through fear, when spoken to: we also find it recorded that he struck
down a maid-of-honour who had brought him a cup of wine, and that he
would have cut off her head but for the extraordinary presence of
mind which enabled her to improvise a poetical appeal for mercy. Her
only fault had been that, in carrying the wine-cup, she failed to
notice that a leaf had fallen into it,--probably because court-custom
obliged her to carry the cup in such a way as not to breathe upon it;
for emperors and high nobles were served after the manner of gods. It
is true that Yuriaku was in the habit of killing people for little
mistakes; but it is evident that, in the cases cited, such mistakes
were regarded as breaches of long-established decorum.

Probably before as well as after the introduction of the Chinese
penal codes,--the so-called Ming and Tsing codes, by which the
country was ruled under the Shoguns,--the bulk of the nation was
literally under the rod. Common folk were punished by cruel whippings
for the most trifling offences. For serious offences, death by
torture was an ordinary penalty; and there were extraordinary
penalties as savage, or almost as savage, as those established during
our own medieval period,--[177] burnings and crucifixions and
quarterings and boiling alive in oil. The documents regulating the
life of village-folk do not contain any indication of the severity of
legal discipline: the Kumi-cho declarations that such and such
conduct "shall be punished" suggest nothing terrible to the reader
who has not made himself familiar with the ancient codes. As a matter
of fact the term "punishment" in a Japanese legal document might,
signify anything from a trifling fine up to burning alive.... Some
evidence of the severity used to repress quarrelling even as late as
the time of Iyeyasu, may be found in a curious letter of Captain
Saris, who visited Japan in 1613. "The first of July," wrote the
Captain, "two of our Company happened to quarrell the one with the
other, and were very likely to haue gone into the field [i.e. to have
fought a duel] to the endangering of vs all. For it is a custome here
that whosoever drawes a weapon in anger, although he do noe harme
therewith, hee is presently cut in peeces; and, doing but small hurt,
not only themselues are so executed, but their whole generation." ...
The literal meaning of "cut in peeces" he explains later on, when
recounting in the same letter an execution that came under his

"The eighth, three Iaponians were executed, viz., two men and one
woman: the cause this,--the woman, none of the honestest (her husband
being trauelled from home) [178] had appointed these two their
several hours to repair vnto her. The latter man, not knowing of the
former, and comming in before the houre appointed, found the first
man, and enraged thereat, he whipped out his cattan [katana] and
wounded both of them very sorely,--hauing very neere hewn the chine
of the mans back in two. But as well as hee might he cleared
himselfe, and recouering his cattan, wounded the other. The street,
taking notice of the fray, forthwith seased vpon them, led them
aside, and acquainted King Foyne therewith, and sent to know his
pleasure, (for according to his will, the partie is executed), who
presently gaue order that they should cut off their heads: which
done, euery man that listed (as very many did) came to try the
sharpness of their cattans vpon the corps, so that, before they left
off, they had hewne them all three into peeces as small as a mans
hand,--and yet notwithstanding, did not then giue over, but, placing
the peeces one vpon another, would try how many of them they could
strike through at a blow; and the peeces are left to the fowles to
deuoure." ....

Evidently the execution was in this case ordered for cause more
serious than the offence of fighting; but it is true that quarrels
were strictly forbidden and rigorously punished.

Though privileged to cut down "other-than-expected" people of
inferior rank, the military class itself had to endure a discipline
even more severe than that which it maintained. The penalty for a
word or a look that displeased, or for a trifling mistake in
performance of duty, might be death. In [179] most cases the Samurai
was permitted to be his own executioner; and the right of
self-destruction was deemed a privilege; but the obligation to thrust
a dagger deeply into one's belly on the left side, and then draw the
blade slowly and steadily across to the right side, so as to sever
all the entrails, was certainly not less cruel than the vulgar
punishment of crucifixion, or rather, double-transfixion.

Just as all matters relating to the manner of the individual's life
were regulated by law, so were all matters relating to his
death,--the quality of his coffin, the expenses of his interment, the
order of his funeral, the form of his tomb. In the seventh century
laws were passed to the effect that no one should be buried with
unseemly expense; and these laws fixed the cost of funerals according
to rank and grade. Subsequent edicts decided the dimensions and
material of coffins, and the size of graves. In the eighth century
every detail of funerals, for all classes of persons from prince to
peasant, was fixed by decree. Other laws, and modifications of laws,
were made upon the subject in later centuries; but there appears to
have always been a general tendency to extravagance in the matter of
funerals,--a tendency so strong that, in spite of centuries of
sumptuary legislation, it remains to-day a social danger. This can
easily be understood if we remember the beliefs regarding duty to the
dead, and the consequent [180] desire to honour and to please the
spirit even at the risk of family impoverishment.

Most of the legislation to which reference has already been made must
appear to modern minds tyrannical; and some of the regulations seem
to us strangely cruel. There was, moreover, no way of evading or
shirking these obligations of law and custom: whoever failed to
fulfil them was doomed to perish or to become an outcast; implicit
obedience was the condition of survival. The tendency of such
regulation was necessarily to suppress all mental and moral
differentiation, to numb personality, to establish one uniform and
unchanging type of character; and such was the actual result. To this
day every Japanese mind reveals the lines of that antique mould by
which the ancestral mind was compressed and limited. It is impossible
to understand Japanese psychology without knowing something of the
laws that helped to form it,--or, rather, to crystallize it under

Yet, on the other hand, the ethical effects of this iron discipline
were unquestionably excellent. It compelled each succeeding
generation to practise the frugality of the forefathers; and
that--compulsion was partly justified by the great poverty of the
nation. It reduced the cost of living to a figure far below our
Western comprehension of the necessary; it cultivated sobriety,
simplicity, economy; it enforced [181] cleanliness, courtesy, and
hardihood. And--strange as the fact may seem--it did not make the
people miserable: they found the world beautiful in spite of all
their trouble; and the happiness of the old life was reflected in the
old Japanese art, much as the joyousness of Greek life yet laughs to
us from the vase-designs of forgotten painters.

And the explanation is not difficult.  We must remember that the
coercion was not exercised only from without: it was really
maintained from within. The discipline of the race was self-imposed.
The people had gradually created their own social conditions, and
therefore the legislation conserving those conditions; and they
believed that legislation the best possible. They believed it to be
the best possible for the excellent reason that it had been founded
upon their own moral experience; and they could greatly endure
because they had great faith. Only religion could have enabled any
people to bear such discipline without degenerating into mopes and
cowards; and the Japanese never so degenerated: the traditions that
compelled self-denial and obedience, also cultivated courage, and
insisted upon cheerfulness. The power of the ruler was unlimited
because the power of all the dead supported him. "Laws," says Herbert
Spencer, "whether written or unwritten, formulate the rule of the
dead over the living. In addition to that power which past
generations exercise over present generations, by transmitting [182]
their natures,--bodily and mental,--and in addition to the power they
exercise over them by bequeathed habits and modes of life, there is
the power they exercise through their regulations for public conduct,
handed down orally, or in writing.... I emphasize these truths,"--he
adds,--"for the purpose of showing that they imply a tacit
ancestor-worship." ... Of no other laws in the history of human
civilization are these observations more true than of the laws of Old
Japan. Most strikingly did they "formulate the rule of the dead over
the living." And the hand of the dead was heavy: it is heavy upon the
living even to-day.



The nature of the opposition which the ancient religion of Japan
could offer to the introduction of any hostile alien creed, should
now be obvious. The family being founded upon ancestor-worship, the
commune being regulated by ancestor-worship, the clan-group or tribe
being governed by ancestor-worship, and the Supreme Ruler being at
once the high-priest and deity of an ancestral cult which united all
the other cults in one common tradition, it must be evident that the
promulgation of any religion essentially opposed to Shinto would have
signified nothing less than an attack upon the whole system of
society. Considering these circumstances, it may well seem strange
that Buddhism should have succeeded, after some preliminary struggles
(which included one bloody battle), in getting itself accepted as a
second national faith. But although the original Buddhist doctrine
was essentially in disaccord with Shinto beliefs, Buddhism had
learned in India, in China, in Korea, and in divers adjacent
countries, how to meet the spiritual needs of peoples maintaining a
persistent ancestor-worship. [184] Intolerance of ancestor-worship
would have long, ago resulted in the extinction of Buddhism; for its
vast conquests have all been made among ancestor-worshipping races.
Neither in India nor in China nor in Korea,--neither in Siam nor
Burmah nor Annam,--did it attempt to extinguish ancestor-worship,
Everywhere it made itself accepted as an ally, nowhere as an enemy,
of social custom. In Japan it adopted the same policy which had
secured its progress on the continent; and in order to form any clear
conception of Japanese religious conditions, this fact must be kept
in mind.

As the oldest extant Japanese texts--with the probable exception of
some Shinto rituals--date from the eighth century, it is only
possible to surmise the social conditions of that earlier epoch in
which there was no form of religion but ancestor-worship. Only by
imagining the absence of all Chinese and Korean influences, can we
form some vague idea of the state of things which existed during the
so-called Age of the Gods,--and it is difficult to decide at what
period these influences began to operate. Confucianism appears to
have preceded Buddhism by a considerable interval; and its progress,
as an organizing power, was much more rapid. Buddhism was first
introduced from Korea, about 552 A.D.; but the mission accomplished
little. By the end of the eighth century [185] the whole fabric of
Japanese administration had been reorganized upon the Chinese plan,
under Confucian influence; but it was not until well into the ninth
century that Buddhism really began to spread throughout the country.
Eventually it over-shadowed the national life, and coloured all the
national thought. Yet the extraordinary conservatism of the ancient
ancestor-cult--its inherent power of resisting fusion--was
exemplified by the readiness with which the two religions fell apart
on the disestablishment of Buddhism in 1871. After having been
literally overlaid by Buddhism for nearly a thousand years, Shinto
immediately reassumed its archaic simplicity, and reestablished the
unaltered forms of its earliest rites.

But the attempt of Buddhism to absorb Shinto seemed at one period to
have almost succeeded. The method of the absorption is said to have
been devised, about the year 800, by the famous founder of the
Shingon sect, Kukai or "Kobodaishi" (as he is popularly called), who
first declared the higher Shinto gods to be incarnations of various
Buddhas. But in this matter, of course, Kobodaishi was merely
following precedents of Buddhist policy. Under the name of
Ryobu-Shinto,* the new compound of Shinto and Buddhism obtained
imperial approval and support. [*The term "Ryobu" signifies
"two-departments" or "two religions."] Thereafter, in hundreds of
[186] places, the two religions were domiciled within the same
precinct--sometimes even within the same building: they seemed to
have been veritably amalgamated. And nevertheless there was no real
fusion;--after ten centuries of such contact they separated again, as
lightly as if they had never touched. It was only in the domestic
form of the ancestor-cult that Buddhism really affected permanent
modifications; yet even these were neither fundamental nor universal.
In certain provinces they were not made; and almost everywhere a
considerable part of the population preferred to follow the Shinto
form of the ancestor-cult. Yet another large class of persons,
converts to Buddhism, continued to profess the older creed as well;
and, while practising their ancestor-worship according to the
Buddhist rite, maintained separately also the domestic worship of the
elder gods. In most Japanese houses to-day, the "god-shelf" and the
Buddhist shrine can both be found; both cults being maintained under
the same roof.* ... But I am mentioning these facts only as
illustrating the conservative vitality of Shinto, not as indicating
any weakness in the Buddhist propaganda. Unquestionably the influence
which Buddhism exerted upon Japanese [187] civilization was immense,
profound, multiform, incalculable; and the only wonder is that it
should not have been able to stifle Shinto forever. To state, as
various writers have carelessly stated, that Buddhism became the
popular religion, while Shinto remained the official religion, is
altogether misleading. As a matter of fact Buddhism became as much an
official religion as Shinto itself, and influenced the lives of the
highest classes not less than the lives of the poor. It made monks of
Emperors, and nuns of their daughters; it decided the conduct of
rulers, the nature of decrees, and the administration of laws. In
every community the Buddhist parish-priest was a public official as
well as a spiritual teacher: he kept the parish register, and made
report to the authorities upon local matters of importance.

[*The ancestor-worship and the funeral rites are Buddhist, as a
general rule, if the family be Buddhist; but the Shinto gods are also
worshipped in most Buddhist households, except those attached to the
Shin sect. Many followers of even the Shin sect, however, appear to
follow the ancient religion likewise; and they have their Ujigami.]

By introducing the love of learning, Confucianism had partly prepared
the way for Buddhism. As early even as the first century there were
some Chinese scholars in Japan; but it was toward the close of the
third century that the study of Chinese literature first really
became fashionable among the ruling classes. Confucianism, however,
did not represent a new religion: it was a system of ethical
teachings founded upon an ancestor-worship much like that of Japan.
What it had to offer was a kind of social philosophy,--an explanation
of the [188] eternal reason of things. It reinforced and expanded the
doctrine of filial piety; it regulated and elaborated preexisting
ceremonial; and it systematized all the ethics of government. In the
education of the ruling classes it became a great power, and has so
remained down to the present day. Its doctrines were humane, in the
best meaning of the word; and striking evidence of its humanizing
effect on government policy may be found in the laws and the maxims
of that wisest of Japanese rulers--Iyeyasu.

But the religion of the Buddha brought to Japan another and a wider
humanizing influence,--a new gospel of tenderness,--together with a
multitude of new beliefs that were able to accommodate themselves to
the old, in spite of fundamental dissimilarity. In the highest
meaning of the term, it was a civilizing power. Besides teaching new
respect for life, the duty of kindness to animals as well as to all
human beings, the consequence of present acts upon the conditions of
a future existence, the duty of resignation to pain as the inevitable
result of forgotten error, it actually gave to Japan the arts and the
industries of China. Architecture, painting, sculpture, engraving,
printing, gardening--in short, every art and industry that helped to
make life beautiful--developed first in Japan under Buddhist

There are many forms of Buddhism; and in [189] modern Japan there are
twelve principal Buddhist sects; but, for present purposes, it will
be enough to speak, in the most general way, of popular Buddhism
only, as distinguished from philosophical Buddhism, which I shall
touch upon in a subsequent chapter. The higher Buddhism could not, at
any time or in any country, have had a large popular following; and
it is a mistake to suppose that its particular doctrines--such as the
doctrine of Nirvana--were taught to the common people. Only such
forms of doctrine were preached as could be made intelligible and
attractive to very simple minds. There is a Buddhist proverb: "First
observe the person; then preach the Law,"--that is to say, Adapt your
instruction to the capacity of the listener. In Japan, as in China,
Buddhism had to adapt its instruction to the mental capacity of large
classes of people yet unaccustomed to abstract ideas. Even to this
day the masses do not know so much as the meaning of the word
"Nirvana" (Nehan): they have been taught only the simpler forms of
the religion; and in dwelling upon these, it will be needless to
consider differences of sect and dogma.

To appreciate the direct influence of Buddhist teaching upon the
minds of the common people, we must remember that in Shinto there was
no doctrine of metempsychosis. As I have said before, the spirits of
the dead, according to ancient Japanese thinking, continued to exist
in the world: they [190] mingled somehow with the viewless forces of
nature, and acted through them. Everything happened by the agency of
these spirits--evil or good. Those who had been wicked in life
remained wicked after death; those who had been good in life became
good gods after death; but all were to be propitiated. No idea of
future reward or punishment existed before the coming of Buddhism:
there was no notion of any heaven or hell. The happiness of ghosts
and gods alike was supposed to depend upon the worship and the
offerings of the living.

With these ancient beliefs Buddhism attempted to interfere only by
expanding and expounding them,--by interpreting them in a totally new
light. Modifications were effected, but no suppressions: we might
even say that Buddhism accepted the whole body of the old beliefs. It
was true, the new teaching declared, that the dead continued to exist
invisibly; and it was not wrong to suppose that they became
divinities, since all of them were destined, sooner or later, to
enter upon the way to Buddhahood--the divine condition. Buddhism
acknowledged likewise the greater gods of Shinto, with all their
attributes and dignities,--declaring them incarnations of Buddhas or
Bodhisattvas: thus the goddess of the sun was identified with
Dai-Nichi-Nyorai (the Tathagata Mahavairokana); the deity Hachiman
was identified with Amida (Amitabha). Nor did Buddhism deny the
existence of goblins [191] and evil gods: these were identified with
the Pretas and the Merakayikas; and the Japanese popular term for
goblin, Ma, to-day reminds us of this identification. As for wicked
ghosts, they were to be thought of as Pretas
only,--Gaki,--self-doomed by the errors of former lives to the Circle
of Perpetual Hunger. The ancient sacrifices to the various gods of
disease and pestilence--gods of fever, small-pox, dysentery,
consumption, coughs, and colds--were continued with Buddhist
approval; but converts were bidden to consider such maleficent beings
as Pretas, and to present them with only such food-offerings as are
bestowed upon Pretas--not for propitiation, but for the purpose of
relieving ghostly pain. In this case, as in the case of the ancestral
spirits, Buddhism prescribed that the prayers to be repeated were to
be said for the sake of the haunters, rather than to them.... The
reader may be reminded of the fact that Roman Catholicism, by making
a similar provision, still practically tolerates a continuance of the
ancient European ancestor-worship. And we cannot consider that
worship extinct in any of those Western countries where the peasants
still feast their dead upon the Night of All Souls.

Buddhism, however, did more than tolerate the old rites.  It
cultivated and elaborated them. Under its teaching a new and
beautiful form of the domestic cult came into existence; and all the
[192] touching poetry of ancestor-worship in modern Japan can be
traced to the teaching of the Buddhist missionaries. Though ceasing
to regard their dead as gods in the ancient sense, the Japanese
converts were encouraged to believe in their presence, and to address
them in terms of reverence and affection. It is worthy of remark that
the doctrine of Pretas gave new force to the ancient fear of
neglecting the domestic rites. Ghosts unloved might not become "evil
gods" in the Shinto meaning of the term; but the malevolent Gaki was
even more to be dreaded than the malevolent Kami,--for Buddhism
defined in appalling ways the nature of the Gaki's power to harm. In
various Buddhist funeral-rites, the dead are actually addressed as
Gaki,--beings to be pitied but also to be feared,--much needing human
sympathy and succour, but able to recompense the food-giver by
ghostly help.

One particular attraction of Buddhist teaching was its simple and
ingenious interpretation of nature. Countless matters which Shinto
had never attempted to explain, and could not have explained,
Buddhism expounded in detail, with much apparent consistency. Its
explanations of the mysteries of birth, life, and death were at once
consoling to pure minds, and wholesomely discomforting to bad
consciences. It taught that the dead were happy or unhappy not
directly because of the attention or the [193] neglect shown them by
the living, but because of their past conduct while in the body.* It
did not attempt to teach the higher doctrine of successive
rebirths,--which the people could not possibly have understood,--but
the merely symbolic doctrine of transmigration, which everybody could
understand. To die was not to melt back into nature, but to be
reincarnated; and the character of the new body, as well as the
conditions of the new existence, would depend upon the quality of
one's deeds and thoughts in the present body. All states and
conditions of being were the consequence of past actions. Such a man
was now rich and powerful, because in previous lives he had been
generous and kindly; such another man was now sickly and poor,
because in some previous existence he had been sensual and selfish.
This woman was happy in her husband and her children, because in the
time of a former birth she had proved herself a loving daughter and a
faithful spouse; this other was wretched and childless, because in
some anterior existence she had been a jealous wife and a cruel
mother. "To hate your enemy," the Buddhist preacher would proclaim,
"is [194] foolish as well as wrong: he is now your enemy only because
of some treachery that you practised upon him in a previous life,
when he desired to be your friend. Resign yourself to the injury
which he now does you accept it as the expiation of your forgotten
fault... The girl whom you hoped to marry has been refused you by her
parents,--given away to another. But once, in another existence, she
was yours by promise; and you broke the pledge then given.... Painful
indeed the loss of your child; but this loss is the consequence of
having, in some former life, refused affection where affection was
due.... Maimed by mishap, you can no longer earn your living as
before. Yet this mishap is really due to the fact that in some
previous existence you wantonly inflicted bodily injury. Now the evil
of your own act has returned upon you: repent of your crime, and pray
that its Karma may be exhausted by this present suffering." ... All
the sorrows of men were thus explained and consoled. Life was
expounded as representing but one stage of a measureless journey,
whose way stretched back through all the night of the past, and
forward through all the mystery of the future,--out of eternities
forgotten into the eternities to be; and the world itself was to be
thought of only as a traveller's resting-place, an inn by the

[*The reader will doubtless wonder how Buddhism could reconcile its
doctrine of successive rebirths with the ideas of ancestor-worship,
If one died only to be born again, what could be the use of offering
food or addressing any kind of prayer to the reincarnated spirit?
This difficulty was met by the teaching that the dead were not
immediately reborn in most cases, but entered into a particular
condition called Chu-U. They might remain in this disembodied
condition for the time of one hundred years, after which they were
reincarnated. The Buddhist services for the dead are consequently
limited to the time of one hundred years.]

Instead of preaching to the people about Nirvana, [195] Buddhism
discoursed to them of blisses to be won and pains to be avoided: the
Paradise of Amida, Lord of Immeasurable Light; the eight hot hells
called To-kwatsu, and the eight icy hells called Abuda. On the
subject of future punishment the teaching was very horrible: I should
advise no one of delicate nerves to read the Japanese, or rather the
Chinese accounts of hell. But hell was the penalty for supreme
wickedness only: it was not eternal; and the demons themselves would
at last be saved.... Heaven was to be the reward of good deeds: the
reward might indeed be delayed, through many successive rebirths, by
reason of lingering Karma; but, on the other hand, it might be
attained by virtue of a single holy act in this present life.
Besides, prior to the period of supreme reward, each succeeding
rebirth could be made happier than the preceding one by persistent
effort in the holy Way. Even as regarded conditions in this
transitory world, the results of virtuous conduct were not to be
despised. The beggar of to-day might to-morrow be reborn in the
palace of a daimyo; the blind shampooer might become, in his very
next life, an imperial minister. Always the recompense would be
proportionate to the sum of merit. In this lower world to practise
the highest virtue was difficult; and the great rewards were hard to
win. But for all good deeds a recompense was sure; and there was no
one who could not acquire merit. [196] Even the Shinto doctrine of
conscience--the god-given sense of right and wrong--was not denied by
Buddhism. But this conscience was interpreted as the essential wisdom
of the Buddha dormant in every human creature,--wisdom darkened by
ignorance, clogged by desire, fettered by Karma, but destined sooner
or later to fully awaken, and to flood the mind with light.

It would seem that the Buddhist teaching of the duty of kindness to
all living creatures, and of pity for all suffering, had a powerful
effect upon national habit and custom, long before the new religion
found general acceptance. As early as the year 675, a decree was
issued by the Emperor Temmu forbidding the people to eat "the flesh
of kine, horses, dogs, monkeys, or barn-door fowls," and prohibiting
the use of traps or the making of pitfalls in catching game.* [*See
Aston's translation of the Nihongi, Vol. II, p. 329.] The fact that
all kinds of flesh-meat were not forbidden is probably explained by
this Emperor's zeal for the maintenance of both creeds;--an absolute
prohibition might have interfered with Shinto usages, and would
certainly have been incompatible with Shinto traditions. But,
although fish never ceased to be an article of food for the laity, we
may say that from about this time the mass of the nation abandoned
its habits of diet, and forswore the eating of meat, in accordance
with [197] Buddhist teaching.... This teaching was based upon the
doctrine of the unity of all sentient existence. Buddhism explained
the whole visible world by its doctrine of Karma,--simplifying that
doctrine so as to adapt it to popular comprehension. The forms of all
creatures,--bird, reptile, or mammal; insect or fish,--represented
only different results of Karma: the ghostly life in each was one and
the same; and, in even the lowest, some spark of the divine existed.
The frog or the serpent, the bird or the bat, the ox or the
horse,--all had had, at some past time, the privilege of human
(perhaps even superhuman) shape: their present conditions represented
only the consequence of ancient faults. Any human being also, by
reason of like faults, might hereafter be reduced to the same dumb
state,--might be reborn as a reptile, a fish, a bird, or a beast of
burden. The consequence of wanton cruelty to any animal might cause
the perpetrator of that cruelty to be reborn as an animal of the same
kind, destined to suffer the same cruel treatment. Who could even be
sure that the goaded ox, the over-driven horse, or the slaughtered
bird, had not formerly been a human being of closest kin,--ancestor,
parent, brother, sister, or child? ...

Not by words only were all these things taught.  It should be
remembered that Shinto had no art: its ghost-houses, silent and void,
were not even [198] decorated. But Buddhism brought in its train all
the arts of carving, painting, and decoration. The images of its
Bodhisattvas, smiling in gold,--the figures of its heavenly guardians
and infernal judges, its feminine angels and monstrous demons,--must
have startled and amazed imaginations yet unaccustomed to any kind of
art. Great paintings hung in the temples, and frescoes limned upon
their walls or ceilings, explained better than words the doctrine of
the Six States of Existence, and the dogma of future rewards and
punishments. In rows of kakemono, suspended side by side, were
displayed the incidents of a Soul's journey to the realm of judgment,
and all the horrors of the various hells. One pictured the ghosts of
faithless wives, for ages doomed to pluck, with bleeding fingers, the
rasping bamboo-grass that grows by the Springs of Death; another
showed the torment of the slanderer, whose tongue was torn by
demon-pincers; in a third appeared the spectres of lustful men,
vainly seeking to flee the embraces of women of fire, or climbing, in
frenzied terror, the slopes of the Mountain of Swords. Pictured also
were the circles of the Preta-world, and the pangs of the Hungry
Ghosts, and likewise the pains of rebirth in the form of reptiles and
of beasts. And the art of these early representations--many of which
have been preserved--was an art of no mean order. We can hardly
conceive the effect upon inexperienced imagination of the crimson
frown of Emma [199] (Yama), Judge of the dead,--or the vision of that
weird Mirror which reflected, to every spirit the misdeeds of its
life in the body,--or the monstrous fancy of that double-faced Head
before the judgment seat, representing the visage of the woman
Mirume, whose eyes behold all secret sin; and the vision of the man
Kaguhana, who smells all odours of evil-doing.... Parental affection
must have been deeply touched by the painted legend of the world of
children's ghosts,--the little ghosts that must toil, under
demon-surveillance, in the Dry Bed of the River of Souls.... But
pictured terrors were offset by pictured consolations,--by the
beautiful figure of Kwannon, white Goddess of Mercy,--by the
compassionate smile of Jizo, the playmate of infant-ghosts,--by the
charm also of celestial nymphs, floating on iridescent wings in light
of azure. The Buddhist painter opened to simple fancy the palaces of
heaven, and guided hope, through gardens of jewel-trees, even to the
shores of that lake where the souls of the blessed are reborn in
lotos-blossoms, and tended by angel-nurses.

Moreover, for people accustomed only to such simple architecture as
that of the Shinto miya, the new temples erected by the Buddhist
priests must have been astonishments. The colossal Chinese gates,
guarded by giant statues; the lions and lanterns of bronze and stone;
the enormous suspended [200] bells, sounded by swinging-beams; the
swarming of dragon-shapes under the caves of the vast roofs; the
glimmering splendour of the altars; the ceremonial likewise, with its
chanting and its incense-burning and its weird Chinese music,--cannot
have failed to inspire the wonder-loving with delight and awe. It is
a noteworthy fact that the earliest Buddhist temples in Japan still
remain, even to Western eyes, the most impressive. The Temple of the
Four Deva Kings at Osaka--which, though more than once rebuilt,
preserves the original plan--dates from 600 A.D.; the yet more
remarkable temple called Horyuji, near Nara, dates from about the
year 607.

Of course the famous paintings and the great statues could be seen at
the temples only; but the Buddhist image-makers soon began to people
even the most desolate places with stone images of Buddhas and of
Bodhisattvas. Then first were made those icons of Jizo, which still
smile upon the traveller from every roadside,--and the images of
Koshin, protector of highways, with his three symbolic Apes,--and the
figure of that Bato-Kwannon, who protects the horses of the
peasant,--with other figures in whose rude but impressive art
suggestions of Indian origin are yet recognizable. Gradually the
graveyards became thronged with dreaming Buddhas or
Bodhisattvas,--holy guardians of the dead, throned upon lotos-flowers
of [201] stone, and smiling with closed eyes the smile of the Calm
Supreme. In the cities everywhere Buddhist sculptors opened shops, to
furnish pious households with images of the chief divinities
worshipped by the various Buddhist sects; and the makers of ihai, or
Buddhist mortuary tablets, as well as the makers of household
shrines, multiplied and prospered.

Meanwhile the people were left free to worship their ancestors
according to either creed; and if a majority eventually gave
preference to the Buddhist rite, this preference was due in large
measure to the peculiar emotional charm which Buddhism had infused
into the cult. Except in minor details, the two rites differed
scarcely at all; and there was no conflict whatever between the old
ideas of filial piety and the Buddhist ideas attaching to the new
ancestor-worship, Buddhism taught that the dead might be helped and
made happier by prayer, and that much ghostly comfort could be given
them by food-offerings. They were not to be offered flesh or wine;
but it was proper to gratify them with fruits and rice and cakes and
flowers and the smoke of incense. Besides, even the simplest
food-offerings might be transmuted, by force of prayer, into
celestial nectar and ambrosia. But what especially helped the new
ancestor-cult to popular favour, was the fact that it included many
beautiful and touching customs not known to the old. Everywhere [202]
the people soon learned to kindle the hundred and eight fires of
welcome for the annual visit of their dead,--to supply the spirits
with little figures made of straw, or made out of vegetables,
to-serve for oxen or horses,*--also to prepare the ghost-ships
(shoryobune), in which the souls of the ancestors were to return,
over the sea, to their under-world. Then too were instituted the
Bon-odori, or Dances of the Festival of the Dead,** and the custom of
suspending white lanterns at graves, and coloured lanterns at
house-gates, to light the coining and the going of the visiting dead.

[*An eggplant, with four pegs of wood stuck into it, to represent
legs, usually stands for an ox; and a cucumber, with four pegs,
serves for a horse.... One is reminded of the fact that, at some of
the ancient Greek sacrifices, similar substitutes for real animals
were used. In the worship of Apollo, at Thebes, apples with wooden
pegs stuck into them, to represent feet and horns, were offered as
substitutes for sheep.

**The dances themselves--very curious and very attractive to
witness--are much older than Buddhism; but Buddhism made them a
feature of the festival referred to, which lasts for three days. No
person who has not witnessed a Bon-odori can form the least idea of
what Japanese dancing means: it is something utterly different from
what usually goes by the name,--something indescribably archaic,
weird, and nevertheless fascinating. I have repeatedly sat up all
night to watch the peasants dancing. Japanese dancing girls, be it
observed, do not dance: they pose. The peasants dance.]

But perhaps the greatest value of Buddhism to the nation was
educational. The Shinto priests were not teachers. In early times
they were mostly aristocrats, religious representatives of the clans;
and the idea of educating the common people could not even have
occurred to them. Buddhism, on [203] the other hand, offered the boon
of education to all,--not merely a religious education, but an
education in the arts and the learning of China. The Buddhist temples
eventually became common schools, or had schools attached to them;
and at each parish temple the children of the community were taught,
at a merely nominal cost, the doctrines of the faith, the wisdom of
the Chinese classics, calligraphy, drawing, and much besides. By
degrees the education of almost the whole nation came under Buddhist
control; and the moral effect was of the best. For the military class
indeed there was another and special system of education; but Samurai
scholars sought to perfect their knowledge under Buddhist teachers of
renown; and the imperial household itself employed Buddhist
instructors. For the common people everywhere the Buddhist priest was
the schoolmaster; and by virtue of his occupation as teacher, not
less than by reason of his religious office, he ranked with the
samurai. Much of what remains most attractive, in Japanese
character--the winning and graceful aspects of it--seems to have been
developed under Buddhist training.

It was natural enough that to his functions of public instructor, the
Buddhist priest should have added those of a public registrar. Until
the period of disendowment, the Buddhist clergy remained, throughout
the country, public as well as religious officials. They kept the
parish records, and furnished [204] at need certificates of birth,
death, or family descent.

To give any just conception of the immense civilizing influence which
Buddhism exerted in Japan would require many volumes. Even to
summarize the results of that influence by stating only the most
general facts, is scarcely possible,--for no general statement can
embody the whole truth of the work accomplished. As a moral force,
Buddhism strengthened authority and cultivated submission, by its
capacity to inspire larger hopes and fears than the more ancient
religion could create. As teacher, it educated the race, from the
highest to the humblest, both in ethics and in esthetics. All that
can be classed under the name of art in Japan was either introduced
or developed by Buddhism; and the same may be said regarding nearly
all Japanese literature possessing real literary quality,--excepting
some Shinto rituals, and some fragments of archaic poetry. Buddhism
introduced drama, the higher forms of poetical composition, and
fiction, and history, and philosophy. All the refinements of Japanese
life were of Buddhist introduction, and at least a majority of its
diversions and pleasures. There is even to-day scarcely one
interesting or beautiful thing, produced in the country, for which
the nation is not in some sort indebted to Buddhism. Perhaps the best
and briefest way of [205] stating the range of such indebtedness, is
simply to, say that Buddhism brought the whole of Chinese
civilization into Japan, and thereafter patiently modified and
reshaped it to Japanese requirements. The elder civilization was not
merely superimposed upon the social structure, but fitted carefully
into it, combined with it so perfectly that the marks of the welding,
the lines of the juncture, almost totally disappeared.



Philosphical Buddhism requires some brief consideration in this
place,--for two reasons. The first is that misapprehension or
ignorance of the subject has rendered possible the charge of atheism
against the intellectual classes of Japan. The second reason is that
some persons imagine the Japanese common people--that is to say, the
greater part of the nation--believers in the doctrine of Nirvana as
extinction (though, as a matter of fact, even the meaning of the word
is unknown to the masses), and quite resigned to vanish from the face
of the earth, because of that incapacity for struggle which the
doctrine is supposed to create. A little serious thinking ought to
convince any intelligent man that no such creed could ever have been
the religion of either a savage or a civilized people. But myriads of
Western minds are ready at all times to accept statements of
impossibility without taking the trouble to think about them; and if
I can show some of my readers how far beyond popular comprehension
the doctrines of the higher Buddhism really are, something will have
been accomplished for the cause of truth and [208] common-sense. And
besides the reasons already given for dwelling upon the subject,
there is this third and special reason,--that it is one of
extraordinary interest to the student of modern philosophy.

Before going further, I must remind you that the metaphysics of
Buddhism can be studied anywhere else quite as well as in Japan,
since the more important sutras have been translated into various
European languages, and most of the untranslated texts edited and
published. The texts of Japanese Buddhism are Chinese; and only
Chinese scholars are competent to throw light upon the minor special
phases of the subject. Even to read the Chinese Buddhist canon of
7000 volumes is commonly regarded as an impossible feat,--though it
has certainly been accomplished in Japan. Then there are the
commentaries, the varied interpretations of different sects, the
multiplications of later doctrine, to heap confusion upon confusion.
The complexities of Japanese Buddhism are incalculable; and those who
try to unravel them soon become, as a general rule, hopelessly lost
in the maze of detail. All this has nothing to do with my present
purpose, I shall have very little to say about Japanese Buddhism as
distinguished from other Buddhism, and nothing at all to say about
sect-differences. I shall keep to general facts as regards the higher
doctrine,--selecting from among such facts only those most suitable
[209] for the illustration of that doctrine. And I shall not take up
the subject of Nirvana, in spite of its great importance,--having
treated it as fully as I was able in my _Gleanings in Buddha-Fields_,
--but confine myself to the topic of certain analogies between the
conclusions of Buddhist metaphysics and the conclusions of
contemporary Western thought.

In the best single volume yet produced in English on the subject of
Buddhism,* the late Mr. Henry Clarke Warren observed: "A large part
of the pleasure that I have experienced in the study of Buddhism has
arisen from what I may call the strangeness of the intellectual
landscape. [*Buddhism in Translations, by Henry Clarke Warren
(Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1896). Published by Harvard University.]
All the ideas, the modes of argument, even the postulates assumed and
not argued about, have always seemed so strange, so different from
anything to which I have been accustomed, that I felt all the time as
though walking in Fairyland. Much of the charm that the Oriental
thoughts and ideas have for me appears to be because they so seldom
fit into Western categories." ... The serious attraction of Buddhist
philosophy could not be better suggested: it is indeed "the
strangeness of the intellectual landscape," as of a world inside-out
and upside-down, that has chiefly interested Western [210] thinkers
heretofore. Yet after all, there is a class of Buddhist concepts
which can be fitted, or very nearly fitted, into Western categories.
The higher Buddhism is a kind of Monism; and it includes doctrines
that accord, in the most surprising manner, with the scientific
theories of the German and the English monists. To my thinking, the
most curious part of the subject, and its main interest, is
represented just by these accordances,--particularly in view of the
fact that the Buddhist conclusions have been reached through mental
processes unknown to Western thinking, and unaided by any knowledge
of science.... I venture to call myself a student of Herbert Spencer;
and it was because of my acquaintance with the Synthetic Philosophy
that I came to find in Buddhist philosophy a more than romantic
interest. For Buddhism is also a theory of evolution, though the
great central idea of our scientific evolution (the law of progress
from homogeneity to heterogeneity) is not correspondingly implied by
Buddhist doctrine as regards the life of this world. The course of
evolution as we conceive it, according to Professor Huxley, "must
describe a trajectory like that of a ball fired from a mortar; and
the sinking half of that course is as much a part of the general
process of evolution as the rising." The highest point of the
trajectory would represent what Mr. Spencer calls Equilibration,--the
supreme point of development preceding the period [211] of decline;
but, in Buddhist evolution, this supreme point vanishes into Nirvana.
I can best illustrate the Buddhist position by asking you to imagine
the trajectory line upside-down,--a course descending out of the
infinite, touching ground, and ascending again to mystery....
Nevertheless, some Buddhist ideas do offer the most startling analogy
with the evolutional ideas of our own time; and even those Buddhist
concepts most remote from Western thought can be best interpreted by
the help of illustrations and of language borrowed from modern

I think that we may consider the most remarkable teachings of the
higher Buddhism,--excluding the doctrine of Nirvana, for the reason
already given,--to be the following:--

That there is but one Reality;--

That the Consciousness is not the real Self;--

That Matter is an aggregate of phenomena created by the force of acts
and thoughts;--

That all objective and subjective existence is made by Karma,-- the
present being the creation of the Past, and the actions of the
present and the past, in combination, determining the conditions of
the future.... (Or, in other words, that the universe of Matter, and
the universe of [conditioned] Mind, represent in their evolution a
strictly moral order.)

It will he worth while now to briefly consider [212] these doctrines
in their relation to modern thought, beginning with the first, which
is Monism:--

All things having form or name,--Buddhas, gods, men, and all living
creatures,--suns, worlds, moons, the whole visible cosmos,--are
transitory phenomena.... Assuming, with Herbert Spencer, that the
test of reality is permanence, one can scarcely question this
position; it differs little from the statement with which the closing
chapter of the First Principles concludes:--

"Though the relation of subject and object renders necessary to us
these antithetical conceptions of Spirit and Matter, the one is no
less than the other to be regarded as but a sign of the Unknown
Reality which underlies both."--Edition of 1894.

For Buddhism the sole reality is the Absolute,--Buddha as
unconditioned and Infinite Being. There is no other veritable
existence, whether of Matter or of Mind; there is no real
individuality or personality; the "I" and the "Not-I" are essentially
nowise different. We are reminded of Mr. Spencer's position, that "it
is one and the same Reality which is manifested to us both
subjectively and objectively." Mr. Spencer goes on to say: "Subject
and Object, as actually existing, can never be contained in the
consciousness produced by the cooperation of the two, though they are
necessarily [213] implied by it; and the antithesis of Subject and
Object, never to be transcended while consciousness lasts, renders
impossible all knowledge of that Ultimate Reality in which Subject
and Object are united."... I do not think that a master of the higher
Buddhism would dispute Mr. Spencer's doctrine of Transfigured
Realism. Buddhism does not deny the actuality of phenomena as
phenomena, but denies their permanence, and the truth of the
appearances which they present to our imperfect senses. Being
transitory, and not what they seem, they are to be considered in the
nature of illusions,--impermanent manifestations of the only
permanent Reality. But the Buddhist position is not agnosticism: it
is astonishingly different, as we shall presently see. Mr. Spencer
states that we cannot know the Reality so long as consciousness
lasts,--because while consciousness lasts we cannot transcend the
antithesis of Object and Subject, and it is this very antithesis
which makes consciousness possible. "Very true," the Buddhist
metaphysician would reply; "we cannot know the sole Reality while
consciousness lasts. But destroy consciousness, and the Reality
becomes cognizable. Annihilate the illusion of Mind, and the light
will come." This destruction of consciousness signifies Nirvana,--the
extinction of all that we call Self. Self is blindness: destroy it,
and the Reality will be revealed as infinite vision and infinite

[214] We have now to ask what, according to Buddhist philosophy, is
the meaning of the visible universe as phenomenon, and the nature of
the consciousness that perceives. However transitory, the phenomenon
makes an impression upon consciousness; and consciousness itself,
though transitory, has existence; and its perceptions, however
delusive, are perceptions of actual relation. Buddhism answers that
both the universe and the consciousness are merely aggregates of
Karma--complexities incalculable of conditions shaped by acts and
thoughts through some enormous past. All substance and all
conditioned mind (as distinguished from unconditioned mind) are
products of acts and thoughts: by acts and thoughts the atoms of
bodies have been integrated; and the affinities of those atoms--the
polarities of them, as a scientist might say--represent tendencies
shaped in countless vanished lives. I may quote here from a modern
Japanese treatise on the subject:--

"The aggregate actions of all sentient beings give birth to the
varieties of mountains, rivers, countries, etc. They are caused by
aggregate actions, and so are called aggregate fruits. Our present
life is the reflection of past actions. Men consider these
reflections as their real selves. Their eyes, noses, ears, tongues,
and bodies--as well as their gardens, woods, farms, residences,
servants, and maids--men imagine to be their own possessions; but, in
fact, they are only results endlessly produced by innumerable [215]
actions. In tracing every thing back to the ultimate limits of the
past, we cannot find a beginning: hence it is said that death and
birth have no beginning. Again, when seeking the ultimate limit of
the future, we cannot find the end."* [*Outlines of the Maheyena
Philosophy, by S. Kuroda.]

This teaching that all things are formed by Karma--whatever is good
in the universe representing the results of meritorious acts or
thoughts; and what ever is evil, the results of evil acts or
thoughts--has the approval of five of the great sects; and we may
accept it as a leading doctrine of Japanese Buddhism.... The cosmos
is, then, an aggregate of Karma; and the mind of man is an aggregate
of Karma; and the beginnings thereof are unknown, and the end cannot
be imagined. There is a spiritual evolution, of which the goal is
Nirvana; but we have no declaration as to a final state of universal
rest, when the shaping of substance and of mind will have ceased
forever.... Now the Synthetic Philosophy assumes a very similar
position as regards the evolution of Phenomena: there is no beginning
to evolution, nor any conceivable end. I quote from Mr. Spencer's
reply to a critic in the North American Review:

"That 'absolute commencement of organic life upon the globe,' which
the reviewer says I 'cannot evade the admission of,' I distinctly
deny. The affirmation of [216] universal evolution is in itself the
negation of an absolute commencement of anything. Construed in terms
of evolution, every kind of being is conceived as a product of
modification wrought by insensible gradations upon a preexisting kind
of being; and this holds as fully of the supposed 'commencement of
organic life' as of all subsequent developments of organic life....
That organic matter was not produced all at once, but was reached
through steps, we are well warranted in believing by the experiences
of chemists."* ... [*Principles of Biology, Vol. I, p. 482.]

Of course it should be understood that the Buddhist silence, as to a
beginning and an end, concerns only the production of phenomena, not
any particular existence of groups of phenomena. That of which no
beginning or end can be predicated is simply the Eternal Becoming.
And, like the older Indian philosophy from which it sprang, Buddhism
teaches the alternate apparition and disparition of universes. At
certain prodigious periods of time, the whole cosmos of "one hundred
thousand times ten millions of worlds" vanishes away,--consumed by
fire or otherwise destroyed,--but only to be reformed again. These
periods are called "World-Cycles," and each World-Cycle is divided
into four "Immensities,"--but we need not here consider the details
of the doctrine. It is only the fundamental idea of a evolutional
rhythm that is really interesting. I need scarcely remind the reader
that [217] the alternate disintegration and reintegration of the
cosmos is also a scientific conception, and a commonly accepted
article of evolutional belief. I may quote, however, for other
reasons, the paragraph expressing Herbert Spencer's views upon the

"Apparently the universally coexistent forces of attraction and
repulsion, which, as we have seen, necessitate rhythm in all minor
changes throughout the Universe, also necessitate rhythm in the
totality of changes,--produce now an immeasurable period during which
the attractive forces, predominating, cause universal concentration;
and then an immeasurable period during which the repulsive forces,
predominating, cause diffusion,--alternate eras of Evolution and
Dissolution. And thus there is suggested to us the conception of a
past during which there have been successive Evolutions analogous to
that which is now going on; and a future during which successive
other such Evolutions may go on-ever the same in principle, but never
the same in concrete result."--First Principles, Section 183*

[*This paragraph, from the fourth edition, has been considerably
qualified in the definitive edition of 1900.]

Further on, Mr. Spencer has pointed out the vast logical consequence
involved by this hypothesis:--

"If, as we saw reason to think, there is an alternation of Evolution
and Dissolution in the totality of things,--if, as we are obliged to
infer from the Persistence of Force, the arrival at either limit of
this vast rhythm brings about the conditions under which a
counter-movement commences, [218]--if we are hence compelled to
entertain the conception of Evolutions that have filled an
immeasurable past, and Evolutions that will fill an immeasurable
future,--we can no longer contemplate the visible creation as having
a definite beginning or end, or as being isolated. It becomes unified
with all existence before and after; and the Force which the Universe
presents falls into the same category with its Space and Time as
admitting of no limitation in thought."*--First Principles, Section

[*Condensed and somewhat modified in the definitive edition of 1900;
but, for present purposes of illustration, the text of the fourth
edition has been preferred.]

The foregoing Buddhist positions sufficiently imply that the human
consciousness is but a temporary aggregate,--not an eternal entity.
There is no permanent self: there is but one eternal principle in all
life,--the supreme Buddha. Modern Japanese call this Absolute the
"Essence of Mind." "The fire fed by faggots," writes one of these,
"dies when the faggots have been consumed; but the essence of fire is
never destroyed.... All things in the Universe are Mind." So stated,
the position is unscientific; but as for the conclusion reached, we
may remember that Mr. Wallace has stated almost exactly the same
thing, and that there are not a few modern preachers of the doctrine
of a "universe of mind-stuff." The hypothesis is "unthinkable." But
the most serious thinker will agree with the Buddhist assertion that
the relation of all phenomena to the unknowable is merely that of
waves to sea. "Every [219] feeling and thought being but transitory,"
says Mr. Spencer, "an entire life made up of such feelings and
thoughts being but transitory,--nay, the objects amid which life is
passed, though less transitory, being severally in course of losing
their individualities quickly or slowly,--we learn that the one thing
permanent is the Unknown Reality hidden under all these changing
shapes." Here the English and the Buddhist philosophers are in
accord; but thereafter they suddenly part company. For Buddhism is
not agnosticism, but gnosticism, and professes to know the
unknowable. The thinker of Mr. Spencer's school cannot make
assumptions as to the nature of the sole Reality, nor as to the
reason of its manifestations. He must confess himself intellectually
incapable of comprehending the nature of force, matter, or motion. He
feels justified in accepting the hypothesis that all known elements
have been evolved from one primordial undifferentiated
substance,--the chemical evidence for this hypothesis being very
strong. But he certainly would not call that primordial substance a
substance of mind, nor attempt to explain the character of the forces
that effected its integration. Again, though Mr. Spencer would
probably acknowledge that we know of matter only as an aggregate of
forces, and of atoms only as force-centres, or knots of force, he
would not declare that an atom is a force-centre, and nothing
else.... But we find evolutionists [220] of the German school taking
a position very similar to the Buddhist position,--which implies a
universal sentiency, or, more strictly speaking, a universal
potential-sentiency. Haeckel and other German monists assume such a
condition for all substance. They are not agnostics, therefore, but
gnostics; and their gnosticism very much resembles that of the higher

According to Buddhism there is no reality save Buddha: all things
else are but Karma. There is but one Life, one Self: human
individuality and personality are but phenomenal conditions of that
Self, Matter is Karma; Mind is Karma--that is to say, mind as we know
it: Karma, as visibility, represents to us mass and quality; Karma,
as mentality, signifies character and tendency. The primordial
substance--corresponding to the "protyle" of our Monists--is composed
of Five Elements, which are mystically identified with Five Buddhas,
all of whom are really but different modes of the One. With this idea
of a primordial substance there is necessarily associated the idea of
a universal sentiency. Matter is alive.

Now to the German monists also matter is alive.  On the phenomena of
cell-physiology, Haeckel claims to base his conviction that "even the
atom is not without rudimentary form of sensation and will,--or, as
it is better expressed, of feeling (aesthesis), and of inclination
(tropesis),--that is to [221] say, a universal soul of the simplest
kind." I may quote also from Haeckel's Riddle of the Universe the
following paragraph expressing the monistic notion of substance as
held by Vogt and others:--

"The two fundamental forms of substance, ponderable matter and ether,
are not dead and only moved by extrinsic force; but they are endowed
with sensation and will (though, naturally, of the lowest grade);
they experience an inclination for condensation, a dislike of strain;
they strive after the one, and struggle against the other."

Less like a revival of the dreams of the Alchemists is the very
probable hypothesis of Schneider, that sentiency begins with the
formation of certain combinations,--that feeling is evolved from the
non-feeling just as organic being has been evolved from inorganic
substance. But all these monist ideas enter into surprising
combination with the Buddhist teaching about matter as integrated
Karma; and for that reason they are well worth citing in this
relation. To Buddhist conception all matter is sentient,--the
sentiency varying according to condition: "even rocks and stones," a
Japanese Buddhist text declares, "can worship Buddha." In the German
monism of Professor Haeckel's school, the particular qualities and
affinities of the atom represent feeling and inclination, "a soul of
the simplest kind"; in Buddhism these qualities are made by [222]
Karma,--that is to say, they represent tendencies formed in previous
states of existence. The hypotheses appear to be very similar. But
there is only immense, all-important difference, between the
Occidental and the Oriental monism. The former would attribute the
qualities of the atom merely to a sort of heredity,--to the
persistency of tendencies developed under chance--influences
operating throughout an incalculable past. The latter declares the
history of the atom to be purely moral! All matter, according to
Buddhism, represents aggregated sentiency, making, by its inherent
tendencies, toward conditions of pain or pleasure, evil or good.
"Pure actions," writes the author of Outlines of the Maheyena
Philosophy, "bring forth the Pure Lands of all the quarters of the
universe; while impure deeds produce the Impure Lands." That is to
say, the matter integrated by the force of moral acts goes to the
making of blissful worlds; and the matter formed by the force of
immoral acts goes to the making of miserable worlds. All substance,
like all mind, has its Karma; planets, like men, are shaped by the
creative power of acts and thoughts; and every atom goes to its
appointed place, sooner or later, according to the moral or immoral
quality of the tendencies that inform it. Your good or bad thought or
deed will not only affect your next rebirth, but will likewise affect
in some sort the nature of worlds yet unevolved, wherein, after
innumerable cycles, [223] you may have to live again. Of course, this
tremendous idea has no counterpart in modern evolutional philosophy.
Mr. Spencer's position is well known; but I must quote him for the
purpose of emphasizing the contrast between Buddhist and scientific

"...We have no ethics of nebular condensation, or of sidereal
movement, or of planetary evolution; the conception is not relevant
to inorganic matter. Nor, when we turn to organized things, do we
find that it has any relation to the phenomena of plant-life; though
we ascribe to plants superiorities and inferiorities, leading to
successes and failures in the struggle for existence, we do not
associate with them praise or blame. It is only with the rise of
sentiency in the animal world that the subject-matter of ethics
originates."--Principles of Ethics, Vol. II, Section 326.

On the contrary, it will be seen, Buddhism actually teaches what we
may call, to borrow Mr. Spencer's phrase, "the ethics of nebular
condensation,"--though to Buddhist astronomy, the scientific meaning
of the term "nebular condensation" was never known. Of course the
hypothesis is beyond the power of human intelligence to prove or to
disprove. But it is interesting, for it proclaims a purely moral
order of the cosmos, and attaches almost infinite consequence to the
least of human acts. Had the old Buddhist metaphysicians been
acquainted with the facts of modern chemistry, they [224] might have
applied their doctrine, with appalling success, to the interpretation
of those facts. They might have explained the dance of atoms, the
affinities of molecules, the vibrations of ether, in the most
fascinating and terrifying way by their theory of Karma.... Here is a
universe of suggestion,--most weird suggestion--for anybody able and
willing to dare the experiment of making a new religion, or at least
a new and tremendous system of Alchemy, based upon the notion of a
moral order in the inorganic world!

But the metaphysics of Karma in the higher Buddhism include much that
is harder to understand than any alchemical hypothesis of
atom-combinations. As taught by popular Buddhism, the doctrine of
rebirth is simple enough,--signifying no more than transmigration:
you have lived millions of times in the past, and you are likely to
live again millions of times in the future,--all the conditions of
each rebirth depending upon past conduct. The common notion is that
after a certain period of bodiless sojourn in this world, the spirit
is guided somehow to the place of its next incarnation. The people,
of course, believe in souls. But there is nothing of all this in the
higher doctrine, which denies transmigration, denies the existence of
the soul, denies personality. There is no Self to be reborn; there is
no transmigration--and yet there [225] is rebirth! There is no real
"I" that suffers or is glad--and yet there is new suffering to be
borne or new happiness to be gained! What we call the Self,--the
personal consciousness,--dissolves at the death of the body; but the
Karma, formed during life, then brings about the integration of a new
body and a new consciousness. You suffer in this existence because of
acts done in a previous existence---yet the author of those acts was
not identical with your present self! Are you, then, responsible for
the faults of another person?

The Buddhist metaphysician would answer thus: "The form of your
question is wrong, because it assumes the existence of
personality,--and there is no personality. There is really no such
individual as the 'you' of the inquiry. The suffering is indeed the
result of errors committed in some anterior existence or existences;
but there is no responsibility for the acts of another person, since
there is no personality. The 'I' that was and the 'I' that is
represent in the chain of transitory being aggregations momentarily
created by acts and thoughts; and the pain belongs to the aggregates
as condition resulting from quality." All this sounds extremely
obscure: to understand the real theory we must put away the notion of
personality, which is a very difficult thing to do. Successive births
do not mean transmigration in the common sense of that word, but only
the self-propagation of [226] Karma: the perpetual multiplying of
certain conditions by a kind of ghostly gemmation,--if I may borrow a
biological term. The Buddhist illustration, however, is that of flame
communicated from one lamp-wick to another: a hundred lamps may thus
be lighted from one flame, and the hundred flames will all be
different, though the origin of all was the same. Within the hollow
flame of each transitory life is enclosed a part of the only Reality;
but this is not a soul that transmigrates. Nothing passes from birth
to birth but Karma,--character or condition.

One will naturally ask how can such a doctrine exert any moral
influence whatever? If the future being shaped by my Karma is to be
in nowise identical with my present self,--if the future
consciousness evolved by my Karma is to be essentially another
consciousness,--how can I force myself to feel anxious about the
sufferings of that unborn person? "Again your question is wrong," a
Buddhist would answer: "to understand the doctrine you must get rid
of the notion of individuality, and think, not of persons, but of
successive states of feeling and consciousness, each of which buds
out of the other,--a chain of existences interdependently united."
... I may attempt another illustration. Every individual, as we
understand the term, is continually changing. All the structures of
the body are constantly undergoing waste and repair; and the [227]
body that you have at this hour is not, as to substance, the same
body that you had ten years ago. Physically you are not the same
person: yet you suffer the same pains, and feel the same pleasures,
and find your powers limited by the same conditions. Whatever
disintegrations and reconstructions of tissue have taken place within
you, you have the same physical and mental peculiarities that you had
ten years ago. Doubtless the cells of your brain have been decomposed
and recomposed: yet you experience the same emotions, recall the same
memories, and think the same thoughts. Everywhere the fresh substance
has assumed the qualities and tendencies of the substance replaced.
This persistence of condition is like Karma. The transmission of
tendency remains, though the aggregate is changed....

These few glimpses into the fantastic world, of Buddhist metaphysics
will suffice, I trust, to convince any intelligent reader that the
higher Buddhism (to which belongs the much-discussed and
little-comprehended doctrine of Nirvana) could never have been the
religion of millions almost incapable of forming abstract ideas,--the
religion of a population even yet in a comparatively early stage of
religious evolution. It was never understood by the people at all,
nor is it ever taught to them to-day. It is a religion of
metaphysicians, a [228] religion of scholars, a religion so difficult
to be understood, even by persons of some philosophical training,
that it might well be mistaken for a system of universal negation.
Yet the reader should now be able to perceive that, because a man
disbelieves in a personal God, in an immortal soul, and in any
continuation of personality after death, it does not follow that we
are justified in declaring him an irreligious Person,--especially if
he happen to be an Oriental. The Japanese scholar who believes in the
moral order of the universe, the ethical responsibility of the
present to all the future, the immeasurable consequence of every
thought and deed, the ultimate disparition of evil, and the power of
attainment to conditions of infinite memory and infinite
vision,--cannot be termed either an atheist or a materialist, except
by bigotry and ignorance. Profound as may be the difference between
his religion and our own, in respect of symbols and modes of thought,
the moral conclusions reached in either case are very much the same.



The late Professor Fiske, in his Outline of Cosmic Philosophy, made a
very interesting remark about societies like those of China, ancient
Egypt, and ancient Assyria. "I am expressing," he said, "something
more than an analogy, I am describing a real homology so far as
concerns the process of development,--when I say that these
communities simulated modern European nations, much in the same way
that a tree-fern of the carboniferous period simulated the exogenous
trees of the present time." So far as this is true of China, it is
likewise true of Japan. The constitution of the old Japanese society
was no more than an amplification of the constitution of the
family,--the patriarchal family of primitive times. All modern
Western societies have been developed out of a like patriarchal
condition: the early civilizations of Greece and Rome were similarly
constructed, upon a lesser scale. But the patriarchal family in
Europe was disintegrated thousands of years ago; the gens and the
curia dissolved and disappeared; the originally distinct classes
became fused together; and a total reorganization of society was
gradually [230] effected, everywhere resulting in the substitution of
voluntary for compulsory cooperation. Industrial types of society
developed; and a state-religion overshadowed the ancient and
exclusive local cults. But society in Japan never, till within the
present era, became one coherent body, never developed beyond the
clan-stage. It remained a loose agglomerate of clan-groups, or
tribes, each religiously and administratively independent of the
rest; and this huge agglomerate was kept together, not by voluntary
cooperation, but by strong compulsion. Down to the period of Meiji,
and even for some time afterward, it was liable to split and fall
asunder at any moment that the central coercive power showed signs of
weakness. We may call it a feudalism; but it resembled European
feudalism only as a tree-fern resembles a tree.

Let us first briefly consider the nature of the ancient Japanese
society. Its original unit was not the household, but the patriarchal
family,--that is to say, the gens or clan, a body of hundreds or
thousands of persons claiming descent from a common ancestor, and so
religiously united by a common ancestor-worship,--the cult of the
Ujigami. As I have said before, there were two classes of these
patriarchal families: the O-uji, or Great Clans; and the Ko-uji, or
Little Clans. The lesser were branches of the greater, and
subordinate to [231] them,--so that the group formed by an O-uji with
its Ko-uji might be loosely compared with the Roman curia or Greek
phratry. Large bodies of serfs or slaves appear to have been attached
to the various great Uji; and the number of these, even at a very
early period, seems to have exceeded that of the members of the clans
proper. The different names given to these subject-classes indicate
different grades and kinds of servitude. One name was tomobe,
signifying bound to a place, or district; another was yakabe,
signifying bound to a family; a third was kakibe, signifying bound to
a close, or estate; yet another and more general term was tami, which
anciently signified "dependants," but is now used in the meaning of
the English word "folk." ... There is little doubt that the bulk of
the people were in a condition of servitude, and that there were many
forms of servitude. Mr. Spencer has pointed out that a general
distinction between slavery and serfdom, in the sense commonly
attached to each of those terms, is by no means easy to establish;
the real state of a subject-class, especially in early forms of
society, depending much more upon the character of the master, and
the actual conditions of social development, than upon matters of
privilege and legislation. In speaking of early Japanese
institutions, the distinction is particularly hard to draw: we are
still but little informed as to the condition of the subject [232]
classes in ancient times. It is safe to assert, however, that there
were then really but two great classes,--a ruling oligarchy, divided
into many grades; and a subject population, also divided into many
grades. Slaves were tattooed, either on the face or some part of the
body, with a mark indicating their ownership. Until within recent
years this system of tattooing appears to have been maintained in the
province of Satsuma,--where the marks were put especially upon the
hands; and in many other provinces the lower classes were generally
marked by a tattoo on the face. Slaves were bought and sold like
cattle in early times, or presented as tribute by their owners,--a
practice constantly referred to in the ancient records. Their unions
were not recognized: a fact which reminds us of the distinction among
the Romans between connubium and contubernium; and the children of a
slave-mother by a free father remained slaves.* In the seventh
century, however, private slaves were declared state-property, and
great numbers were [233] then emancipated,--including nearly
all--probably all--who were artizans or followed useful callings.
Gradually a large class of freedmen came into existence; but until
modern times the great mass of the common people appear to have
remained in a condition analogous to serfdom. The greater number
certainly had no family names,--which is considered evidence of a
former slave-condition. Slaves proper were registered in the names of
their owners: they do not seem to have had a cult of their own,--in
early times, at least. But, prior to Meiji, only the aristocracy,
samurai, doctors, and teachers--with perhaps a few other
exceptions--could use a family name. Another queer bit of evidence
or, the subject, furnished by the late Dr. Simmons, relates to the
mode of wearing the hair among the subject-classes. Up to the time of
the Ashikaga shogunate (1334 A.D.), all classes excepting the
nobility, samurai, Shinto priests, and doctors, shaved the greater
part of the head, and wore queues; and this fashion of wearing the
hair was called yakko-atama or dorei-atama--terms signifying
"slave-head," and indicating that the fashion originated in a period
of servitude.

[*In the year 645, the Emperor Kotoku issued the following edict on
the subject:--

"The law of men and women shall be that the children born of a free
man and a free woman shall belong to the father; if a free man takes
to wife a slave-woman, her children shall belong to the mother; if a
free woman marries a slave-man, the children shall belong to the
father; if they are slaves of two houses, the children shall belong
to the mother. The children of temple-serfs shall follow the rule for
freemen. But in regard to others who become slaves, they shall be
treated according to the rule for slaves.--Aston's translation of the
Nihongi, Vol. II, p. 202.]

About the origin of Japanese slavery, much remains to be learned.
There are evidences of successive immigrations; and it is possible
that some, at least, of the earlier Japanese settlers were reduced by
later invaders to the status of servitude. Again, [234] there was a
considerable immigration of Koreans and Chinese, some of whom might
have voluntarily sought servitude as a refuge from worse evils. But
the subject remains obscure. We know, however, that degradation to
slavery was a common punishment in early times; also, that debtors
unable to pay became the slaves of their creditors; also, that
thieves were sentenced to become the slaves of those whom they had
robbed.* Evidently there were great differences in the conditions of
servitude. The more unfortunate class of slaves were scarcely better
off than domestic animals; but there were serfs who could not be
bought or sold, nor employed at other than special work; these were
of kin to their lords, and may have entered voluntarily into
servitude for the sake of sustenance and protection. Their relation
to their masters reminds us of that of the Roman client to the Roman

[*An edict issued by the Empress Jito, in 690, enacted that a father
could sell his son into real slavery; but that debtors could be sold
only into a kind of serfdom. The edict ran thus: "If a younger
brother of the common people is sold by his elder brother, he should
be classed with freemen; if a child is sold by his parents, he should
be classed with slaves; persons confiscated into slavery, by way of
payment of interest on debts, are to be classed with freemen; and
their children, though born of a union with a slave, are to be all
classed with freemen."--Aston's Nihongi, Vol. II, p, 402.]

As yet it is difficult to establish any clear distinction between the
freedmen and the freemen of ancient Japanese society; but we know
that the free population, ranking below the ruling class, [235]
consisted of two great divisions: the kunitsuko and the tomonotsuko.
The first were farmers, descendants perhaps of the earliest Mongol
invaders, and were permitted to hold their own lands independently of
the central government: they were lords of their own soil, but not
nobles. The tomonotsuko were artizans,--probably of Korean or
Chinese descent, for the most part,--and numbered no less than 180
clans. They followed hereditary occupations; and their clans were
attached to the imperial clans, for which they were required to
furnish skilled labour.

Originally each of the O-uji and Ko-uji had its own territory,
chiefs, dependants, serfs, and slaves. The chieftainships were
hereditary,--descending from father to son in direct succession from
the original patriarch. The chief of a great clan was lord over the
chiefs of the subclans attached to it: his authority was both
religious and military. It must not be forgotten that religion and
government were considered identical.

All Japanese clan-families were classed under three heads,--Kobetsu,
Shinbetsu, and Bambetsu. The Kobetsu ("Imperial Branch") represented
the so-called imperial families, claiming descent from the
Sun-goddess; the Shinbetsu ("Divine Branch") were clans claiming
descent from other deities, terrestrial or celestial; the Bambetsu
("Foreign Branch") represented the mass of the people. [236] Thus it
would seem that, by the ruling classes, the common people were
originally considered strangers,--Japanese only by adoption. Some
scholars think that the term Bambetsu was at first given to serfs or
freedmen of Chinese or Korean descent. But this has not been proved.
It is only certain that all society was divided into three classes,
according to ancestry; that two of these classes constituted a ruling
oligarchy;* and that the third, or "foreign" class represented the
bulk of the nation,--the plebs.

[*Dr. Florenz accounts for the distinction between Kobetsu and
Shinbetsu as due to the existence of two military ruling
classes,--resulting from two successive waves of invasion or
immigration. The Kobetsu were the followers of Jimmu Tenno; the
Shinbetsu were earlier conquerors who had settled in Yamato prior to
the advent of Jimmu. These first conquerors, he thinks, were not

There was a division also into castes--kabane or sei.  (I use the
term "castes," following Dr. Florenz, a leading authority on ancient
Japanese civilization, who gives the meaning of sei as equivalent to
that of the Sanscrit varna, signifying "caste" or "colour.") Every
family in the three great divisions of Japanese society belonged to
some caste; and each caste represented at first some occupation or
calling. Caste would not seem to have developed any very rigid
structure in Japan; and there were early tendencies to a confusion of
the kabane. In the seventh century the confusion became so great that
the Emperor Temmu thought it necessary to reorganize the sei; and by
him all the clan-families were regrouped into eight new castes.

[237] Such was the primal constitution of Japanese society; and that
society was, therefore, in no true sense of the term, a fully formed
nation. Nor can the title of Emperor be correctly applied to its
early rulers. The German scholar, Dr. Florenz, was the first to
establish these facts, contrary to the assumption of Japanese
historians. He has shown that the "heavenly sovereign" of the early
ages was the hereditary chief of one Uji only,--which Uji, being the
most powerful of all, exercised influence over many of the others.
The authority of the "heavenly sovereign" did not extend over the
country. But though not even a king,--outside of his own large group
of patriarchal families,--he enjoyed three immense prerogatives. The
first was the right of representing the different Uji before the
common ancestral deity,--which implies the privileges and powers of a
high priest. The second was the right of representing the different
Uji in foreign relations: that is to say, he could make peace or
declare war in the name of all the clans, and therefore exercised the
supreme military authority. His third prerogative included the right
to settle disputes between clans; the right to nominate a
clan-patriarch, in case that the line of direct succession to the
chieftainship of any Uji came to an end; the right to establish new
Uji; and the right to abolish an Uji guilty of so acting as to
endanger the welfare of the rest. He was, therefore, Supreme Pontiff,
Supreme Military Commander, [238] Supreme Arbitrator, and Supreme
Magistrate. But he was not yet supreme king: his powers were
exercised only by consent of the clans. Later he was to become the
Great Khan in very fact, and even much more,--the Priest-Ruler, the
God-King, the Deity-Incarnate. But with the growth of his dominion,
it became more and more difficult for him to exercise all the
functions originally combined in his authority; and, as a consequence
of deputing those functions, his temporal sway was doomed to decline,
even while his religious power continued to augment.

The earliest Japanese society was not, therefore, even a feudalism in
the meaning which we commonly attach to that word: it was a union of
clans at first combined for defence and offence,--each clan having a
religion of its own. Gradually one clan-group, by power of wealth and
numbers, obtained such domination that it was able to impose its cult
upon all the rest, and to make its hereditary chief Supreme High
Pontiff. The worship of the Sun-goddess so became a race-cult; but
this worship did not diminish the relative importance of the other
clan-cults,--it only furnished them with a common tradition.
Eventually a nation formed; but the clan remained the real unit of
society; and not until the present era of Meiji was its
disintegration effected--at least in so far as legislation could
accomplish. [239] We may call that period during which the clans
became really united under one head, and the national cult was
established, the First Period of Japanese Social Evolution. However,
the social organism did not develop to the limit of its type until
the era of the Tokugawa shoguns,--so that, in order to study it as a
completed structure, we must turn to modern times. Yet it had taken
on the vague outline of its destined form as early as the reign of
the Emperor Temmu, whose accession is generally dated 673 A.D. During
that reign Buddhism appears to have become a powerful influence at
court; for the Emperor practically imposed a vegetarian diet upon the
people--proof positive of supreme power in fact as well as in theory.
Even before this time society had been arranged into ranks and
grades,--each of the upper grades being distinguished by the form and
quality of the official head-dresses worn; but the Emperor Temmu
established many new grades, and reorganized the whole
administration, after the Chinese manner, in one hundred and eight
departments. Japanese society then assumed, as to its upper ranks,
nearly all the hierarchical forms which it presented down to the era
of the Tokugawa shoguns, who consolidated the system without
seriously changing its fundamental structure. We may say that from
the close of the First Period of its social evolution, the nation
remained practically separated into two classes: the [240] governing
class, including all orders of the nobility and military; and the
producing class, comprising all the rest. The chief event of the
Second Period of the social evolution was the rise of the military
power, which left the imperial religious authority intact, but
usurped all the administrative functions (this subject will be
considered in a later chapter). The society eventually crystallized
by this military power was a very complex structure--outwardly
resembling a huge feudalism, as we understand the term, but
intrinsically different from any European feudalism that ever
existed. The difference lay especially in the religious organization
of the Japanese communities, each of which, retaining its particular
cult and patriarchal administration, remained essentially separate
from every other. The national cult was a bond of tradition, not of
cohesion: there was no religious unity. Buddhism, though widely
accepted, brought no real change into this order of things; for,
whatever Buddhist creed a commune might profess, the real social bond
remained the bond of the Ujigami. So that, even as fully developed
under the Tokugawa rule, Japanese society was still but a great
aggregate of clans and subclans, kept together by military coercion.

At the head of this vast aggregate was the Heavenly Sovereign, the
Living God of the race,--Priest-Emperor and Pontiff Supreme,
--representing the oldest dynasty in the world. [241] Next to him
stood the Kuge, or ancient nobility,--descendants of emperors and of
gods. There were, in the time of the Tokugawa, 155 families of this
high nobility. One of these, the Nakatomi, held, and still holds, the
highest hereditary priesthood: the Nakatomi were, under the Emperor,
the chiefs of the ancestral cult. All the great clans of early
Japanese history--such as the Fujiwara, the Taira, the Minamoto--were
Kuge; and most of the great regents and shoguns of later history were
either Kuge or descendants of Kuge.

Next to the Kuge ranked the Buke, or military class,--also called
Monofufu, Wasarau, or Samurahi (according to the ancient writing of
these names),--with an extensive hierarchy of its own. But the
difference, in most cases, between the lords and the warriors of the
Buke was a difference of rank based upon income and title: all alike
were samurai, and nearly all were of Kobetsu or Shinbetsu descent. In
early times the head of the military class was appointed by the
Emperor, only as a temporary commander-in-chief: afterwards, these
commanders-in-chief, by usurpation of power, made their office
hereditary, and became veritable imperatores, in the Roman sense.
Their title of shogun is well known to Western readers. The shogun
ruled over between two and three hundred lords of provinces or
districts, whose powers and privileges varied according to income and
grade. Under the Tokugawa [242] shogunate there were 292 of these
lords, or daimyo. Before that time each lord exercised supreme rule
over his own domain; and it is not surprising that the Jesuit
missionaries, as well as the early Dutch and English traders should
have called the daimyo "kings." The despotism of the daimyo was first
checked by the founders of the Tokugawa dynasty, Iyeyasu, who so
restricted their powers that they became, with some exceptions,
liable to lose their estates if proved guilty of oppression and
cruelty. He ranked them all in four great classes: (1) Sanke, or
Go-Sanke, the "Three Exalted Families" (those from whom a successor
to the shogunate might be chosen, in case of need); (2) Kokushu,
"Lords of Provinces"; (3) Tozama, "Outside-Lords"; (4) Fudai,
"Successful Families": a name given to those families promoted to
lordship or otherwise rewarded for fealty to Iyeyasu. Of the Sanke,
there were three clans, or families: of the Kokushu, eighteen; of the
Tozama, eighty-six; and of the Fudai, one hundred and seventy-six.
The income of the least of these daimyo was 10,000 koku of rice (we
may say about 10,000 pounds, though the value of the koku differed
greatly at different periods); and the income of the greatest, the
Lord of Kaga, was estimated at 1,027,000 koku.

The great daimyo had their greater and lesser vassals; and each of
these, again, had his force of trained samurai, or fighting gentry.
There was [243] also a particular class of soldier-farmers, called
goshi, some of whom possessed privileges and powers exceeding those
of the lesser daimyo. These goshi, who were independent landowners,
for the most part, formed a kind of yeomanry; but there were many
points of difference between the social position of the goshi and
that of the English yeomen.

Besides reorganizing the military class, Iyeyasu created several new
subclasses. The more important of these were the hatamoto and the
gokenin. The hatamoto, whose appellation signifies
"banner-supporters," numbered about 2000, and the gokenin about 5000.
These two bodies of samurai formed the special military force of the
shogun; the hatamoto being greater vassals, with large incomes; and
the gokenin lesser vassals, with small incomes, who ranked above
other common samurai only because of being directly attached to the
shogun's service.... The total number of samurai of all grades was
about 2,000,000. They were exempted from taxation, and privileged to
wear two swords.

Such, in brief outline, was the general ordination of those noble and
military classes by whom the nation was ruled with great severity.
The bulk of the common people were divided into three classes (we
might even say castes, but for Indian ideas long associated with the
term): Farmers, Artizans, and Merchants.

[244] Of these three classes, the farmers (hyakusho) were the
highest; ranking immediately after the samurai. Indeed, it is hard to
draw a line between the samurai class and the farming-class,--because
many samurai were farmers also, and because some farmers held a rank
considerably above that of ordinary samurai. Perhaps we should limit
the term hyakusho (farmers, or peasantry) to those tillers of the
soil who lived only by agriculture, and were neither of Kobetsu nor
Shinbetsu descent.... At all events, the occupation of the peasant
was considered honourable: a farmer's daughter might become a servant
in the imperial household itself--though she could occupy only an
humble position in the service. Certain farmers were privileged to
wear swords. It appears that in the early ages of Japanese society
there was no distinction between farmers and warriors: all
able-bodied farmers were then trained fighting-men, ready for war at
any moment,--a condition paralleled in old Scandinavian society.
After a special military class had been evolved, the distinction
between farmer and samurai still remained vague in certain parts of
the country. In Satsuma and in Tosa, for example, the samurai
continued to farm down to the present era: the best of the Kyushu
samurai were nearly all farmers; and their superior stature and
strength were commonly attributed to their rustic occupations. In
other parts of the country, as in Izumo, farming was forbidden to
samurai: [245] they were not even allowed to hold rice-land, though
they might own forest-land. But in various provinces they were
permitted to farm, even while strictly forbidden to follow any other
occupation,--any trade or craft.... At no time did any degradation
attach to the pursuit of agriculture. Some of the early emperors took
a personal interest in farming; and in the grounds of the Imperial
Palace at Akasaka may even now be seen a little rice-field. By
religious tradition, immemorially old, the first sheaf of rice grown
within the imperial grounds should be reaped and offered by the
imperial hand to the divine ancestors as a harvest offering, on the
occasion of the Ninth Festival,--Shin-Sho-Sai.*

[*At this festival the first new silk of the year, as well as the
first of the new rice-crop, is still offered to the Sun-goddess by
the Emperor in person.]

Below the peasantry ranked the artizan-class (Shokunin), including
smiths, carpenters, weavers, potters,--all crafts, in short. Highest
among these were reckoned, as we might expect, the sword-smiths.
Sword-smiths not infrequently rose to dignities far beyond their
class: some had conferred upon them the high title of Kami, written
with the same character used in the title of a daimyo, who was
usually termed the Kami of his province or district. Naturally they
enjoyed the patronage of the highest,--emperors and Kuge. The Emperor
Go-Toba is known to have worked at sword-making in a smithy [246] of
his own. Religious rites were practised during the forging of a blade
down to modern times....

All the principal crafts had guilds; and, as a general rule, trades
were hereditary. There are good historical grounds for supposing that
the ancestors of the Shokunin were mostly Koreans and Chinese.

The commercial class (Akindo), including bankers, merchants,
shopkeepers, and traders of all kinds, was the lowest officially
recognized. The business of money-making was held in contempt by the
superior classes; and all methods of profiting by the purchase and
re-sale of the produce of labour were regarded as dishonourable. A
military aristocracy would naturally look down upon the
trading-classes; and there is generally, in militant societies, small
respect for the common forms of labour. But in Old Japan the
occupations of the farmer and the artizan were not despised: trade
alone appears to have been considered degrading,--and the
discrimination may have been partly a moral one. The relegation of
the mercantile class to the lowest place in the social scale must
have produced some curious results. However rich, for example, a
rice-dealer might be, he ranked below the carpenters or potters or
boat-builders whom he might employ,--unless it happened that his
family originally belonged to another class. In later times [247] the
Akindo included many persons of other than Akindo descent; and the
class thus virtually retrieved itself.

Of the four great classes of the nation--Samurai, Farmers, Artizans,
and Merchants (the Shi-No-Ko-Sho, as they were briefly called, after
the initial characters of the Chinese terms used to designate
them)--the last three were counted together under the general
appellation of Heimin, "common folk." ll heimin were subject to the
samurai; any samurai being privileged to kill the heimin showing him
disrespect. But the heimin were actually the nation: they alone
created the wealth of the country, produced the revenues, paid the
taxes, supported the nobility and military and clergy. As for the
clergy, the Buddhist (like the Shinto) priests, though forming a
class apart, ranked with the samurai, not with the heimin.

Outside of the three classes of commoners, and hopelessly below the
lowest of them, large classes of persons existed who were not
reckoned as Japanese, and scarcely accounted human beings. Officially
they were mentioned generically as chori, and were counted with the
peculiar numerals used in counting animals: ippiki, nihiki, sambiki,
etc. Even to-day they are commonly referred to, not as persons
(hito), but as "things" (mono). To English readers (chiefly through
Mr. Mitford's yet unrivalled Tales of Old [248] Japan) they are known
as Eta; but their appellations varied according to their callings.
They were pariah-people: Japanese writers have denied, upon
apparently good grounds, that the chori belong to the Japanese race.
Various tribes of these outcasts followed occupations in the monopoly
of which they were legally confirmed: they were well-diggers,
garden-sweepers, straw-workers, sandal-makers, according to local
privileges. One class was employed officially in the capacity of
torturers and executioners; another was employed as night-watchmen; a
third as grave-makers. But most of the Eta followed the business of
tanners and leather-dressers. They alone had the right to slaughter
and flay animals, to prepare various kinds of leather, and to
manufacture leather sandals, stirrup-straps, and drumheads,--the
making of drumheads being a lucrative occupation in a country where
drums were used in a hundred thousand temples. The Eta had their own
laws, and their own chiefs, who exercised powers of life and death.
They lived always in the suburbs or immediate neighbourhood of towns,
but only in separate settlements of their own. They could enter the
town to sell their wares, or to make purchases; but they could not
enter any shop, except the shop of a dealer in footgear.* [*This is
still the rule in certain parts of the country.] As professional
singers they were tolerated; but they were forbidden to enter any
house--so they could perform their music or sing [249] their songs
only in the street, or in a garden. Any occupations other than their
hereditary callings were strictly forbidden to them. Between the
lowest of the commercial classes and the Eta, the barrier was
impassable as any created by caste-tradition in India; and never was
Ghetto more separated from the rest of a European city by walls and
gates, than an Eta settlement from the rest of a Japanese town by
social prejudice. No Japanese would dream of entering an Eta
settlement unless obliged to do so in some official capacity.... At
the pretty little seaport of Mionoseki, I saw an Eta settlement,
forming one termination of the crescent of streets extending round
the bay. Mionoseki is certainly one of the most ancient towns in
Japan; and the Eta village attached to it must be very old. Even
to-day, no Japanese habitant of Mionoseki would think of walking
through that settlement, though its streets are continuations of the
other streets: children never pass the unmarked boundary; and the
very dogs will not cross the prejudice-line. For all that the
settlement is clean, well built,--with gardens, baths, and temples of
its own. It looks like any well-kept Japanese village. But for
perhaps a thousand years there has been no fellowship between the
people of those contiguous communities.... Nobody can now tell the
history of these outcast folk: the cause of their social
excommunication has long been forgotten.

[250] Besides the Eta proper, there were pariahs called hinin,--a
name signifying "not-human-beings." Under this appellation were
included professional mendicants, wandering minstrels, actors,
certain classes of prostitutes, and persons outlawed by society. The
hinin had their own chiefs, and their own laws. Any person expelled
from a Japanese community might join the hinin; but that signified
good-by to the rest of humanity. The Government was too shrewd to
persecute the hinin. Their gipsy-existence saved a world of trouble.
It was unnecessary to keep petty offenders in jail, or to provide for
people incapable of earning an honest living, so long as these could
be driven into the hinin class. There the incorrigible, the vagrant,
the beggar, would be kept under discipline of a sort, and would
practically disappear from official cognizance. The killing of a
hinin was not considered murder, and was punished only by a fine.

The reader should now be able to form an approximately correct idea
of the character of the old Japanese society. But the ordination of
that society was much more complex than I have been able to
indicate,--so complex that volumes would be required to treat the
subject in detail. Once fully evolved, what we may still call Feudal
Japan, for want of a better name, presented most of the features of a
doubly-compound society of the militant type, with [251] certain
marked approaches toward the trebly-compound type. A striking
peculiarity, of course, is the absence of a true ecclesiastical
hierarchy,--due to the fact that Government never became dissociated
from religion. There was at one time a tendency on the part of
Buddhism to establish a religious hierarchy independent of central
authority; but there were two fatal obstacles in the way of such a
development. The first was the condition of Buddhism itself,--divided
into a number of sects, some bitterly opposed to others. The second
obstacle was the implacable hostility of the military clans, jealous
of any religious power capable of interfering, either directly or
indirectly, with their policy. So soon as the foreign religion began
to prove itself formidable in the world of action, ruthless measures
were decided; and the frightful massacres of priests by Nobunaga, in
the sixteenth century, ended the political aspirations of Buddhism in

Otherwise the regimentation of society resembled that of all antique
civilizations of the militant type,--all action being both positively
and negatively regulated. The household ruled the person; the
five-family group; the household; the community, the group; the lord
of the soil, the community; the Shogun, the lord. Over the whole body
of the producing classes, two million samurai had power of life and
death; over these samurai the daimyo held a like power; and the
daimyo were subject to the Shogun. [252] Nominally the Shogun was
subject to the Emperor, but not in fact: military usurpation
disturbed and shifted the natural order of the higher responsibility.
However, from the nobility downwards, the regulative discipline was
much reinforced by this change in government. Among the producing
classes there were countless combinations--guilds of all sorts; but
these were only despotisms within despotisms--despotisms of the
communistic order; each member being governed by the will of the
rest; and enterprise, whether commercial or industrial, being
impossible outside of some corporation.... We have already seen that
the individual was bound to the commune--could not leave it without a
permit, could not marry out of it. We have seen also that the
stranger was a stranger in the old Greek and Roman sense,--that is to
say an enemy, a hostis,--and could enter another community only by
being religiously adopted into it. As regards exclusiveness,
therefore, the social conditions were like those of the early
European communities; but the militant conditions resembled rather
those of the great Asiatic empires.

Of course such a society had nothing in common with any modern form
of Occidental civilization. It was a huge mass of clan-groups,
loosely united under a duarchy, in which the military head was
omnipotent, and the religious head only an object of [253]
worship,--the living symbol of a cult. However this organization
might outwardly resemble what we are accustomed to call feudalism,
its structure was rather like that of ancient Egyptian or Peruvian
society,--minus the priestly hierarchy. The supreme figure is not an
Emperor in our meaning of the word,--not a king of kings and
viceregent of heaven,--but a God incarnate, a race-divinity, an Inca
descended from the Sun. About his sacred person, we see the tribes
ranged in obeisance,--each tribe, nevertheless, maintaining its own
ancestral cult; and the clans forming these tribes, and the
communities forming these clans, and the households forming these
communities, have all their separate cults; and out of the mass of
these cults have been derived the customs and the laws. Yet
everywhere the customs and the laws differ more or less, because of
the variety of their origins: they have this only in common,--that
they exact the most humble and implicit obedience, and regulate every
detail of private and public life. Personality is wholly suppressed
by coercion; and the coercion is chiefly from within, not from
without,--the life of every individual being so ordered by the will
of the rest as to render free action, free speaking, or free
thinking, out of the question. This means something incomparably
harsher than the socialistic tyranny of early Greek society: it means
religious communism doubled with a military despotism of [254] the
most terrible kind. The individual did not legally exist,--except
for punishment; and from the whole of the producing-classes, whether
serfs or freemen, the most servile submission was ruthlessly exacted.

It is difficult to believe that any intelligent man of modern times
could endure such conditions and live (except under the protection of
some powerful ruler, as in the case of the English pilot Will Adams,
created a samurai by Iyeyasu): the incessant and multiform constraint
upon mental and moral life would of itself be enough to kill....
Those who write to-day about the extraordinary capacity of the
Japanese for organization, and about the "democratic spirit" of the
people as natural proof of their fitness for representative
government in the Western sense, mistake appearances for realities.
The truth is that the extraordinary capacity of the Japanese for
communal organization, is the strongest possible evidence of their
unfitness for any modern democratic form of government. Superficially
the difference between Japanese social organization, and local
self-government in the modern American, or the English colonial
meaning of the term, appears slight; and we may justly admire the
perfect self-discipline of a Japanese community. But the real
difference between the two is fundamental, prodigious,--measurable
only by thousands of years. It is the difference between compulsory
and free [255] cooperation,--the difference between the most despotic
form of communism, founded upon the most ancient form of religion,
and the most highly evolved form of industrial union, with unlimited
individual right of competition.

There exists a popular error to the effect that what we call
communism and socialism in Western civilization are modern growths,
representing aspiration toward some perfect form of democracy. As a
matter of fact these movements represent reversion,--reversion toward
the primitive conditions of human society. Under every form of
ancient despotism we find exactly the same capacity of
self-government among the people: it was manifested by the old
Egyptians and Peruvians as well as by the early Greeks and Romans; it
is exhibited to-day by Hindoo and Chinese communities; it may be
studied in Siamese or Annamese villages quite as well as in Japan. It
means a religious communistic despotism,--a supreme social tyranny
suppressing personality, forbidding enterprise, and making
competition a public offence. Such self-government also has its
advantages: it was perfectly adapted to the requirements of Japanese
life so long as the nation could remain isolated from the rest of the
world. Yet it must be obvious that any society whose ethical
traditions forbid the individual to profit at the cost of his
fellow-men will be placed at an enormous disadvantage when forced
into the [256] industrial struggle for existence against communities
whose self-government permits of the greatest possible personal
freedom, and the widest range of competitive enterprise.

We might suppose that perpetual and universal coercion, moral and
physical, would have brought about a state of universal sameness,--a
dismal uniformity and monotony in all life's manifestations. But such
monotony existed only as to the life of the commune, not as to that
of the race. The most wonderful variety characterized this quaint
civilization, as it also characterized the old Greek civilization,
and for precisely the same reasons. In every patriarchal civilization
ruled by ancestor-worship, all tendency to absolute sameness, to
general uniformity, is prevented by the character of the aggregate
itself, which never becomes homogeneous and plastic. Every unit of
that aggregate, each one of the multitude of petty despotisms
composing it, most jealously guards its own particular traditions and
customs, and remains self-sufficing. Hence results, sooner or later,
incomparable variety of detail, small detail, artistic, industrial,
architectural, mechanical. In Japan such differentiation and
specialization was thus maintained, that you will hardly find in the
whole country even two villages where the customs, industries, and
methods of production are exactly the same.... The customs [257] of
the fishing-villages will, perhaps, best illustrate what I mean. In
every coast district the various fishing-settlements have their own
traditional ways of constructing nets and boats, and their own
particular methods of handling them. Now, in the time of the great
tidal-wave of 1896, when thirty thousand people perished, and scores
of coast-villages were wrecked, large sums of money were collected in
Kobe and elsewhere for the benefit of the survivors; and well-meaning
foreigners attempted to supply the want of boats and fishing
implements by purchasing quantities of locally made nets and boats,
and sending them to the afflicted districts. But it was found that
these presents were of no use to the men of the northern provinces,
who had been accustomed to boats and nets of a totally different
kind; and it was further discovered that every fishing-hamlet had
special requirements of its own in this regard.... Now the
differentiations of habit and custom, thus exhibited in the life of
the fishing-communities, is paralleled in many crafts and callings.
The way of building houses, and of roofing them, differs in almost
every province, also the methods of agriculture and of horticulture,
the manner of making wells, the methods of weaving and lacquering and
pottery-making and tile-baking. Nearly every town and village of
importance boasts of some special production, bearing the name of the
place, and unlike anything made elsewhere.... [258] No doubt the
ancestral cults helped to conserve and to develop such local
specialization of industries: the craft-ancestors, the patron-gods of
the guild, were supposed to desire that the work of their descendants
and worshippers should maintain a particular character of its own.
Though individual enterprise was checked by communal regulation, the
specialization of local production was encouraged by difference of
cults. Family-conservatism or guild-conservatism would tolerate small
improvements or modifications suggested by local experience, but
would be wary, perhaps superstitious likewise, about accepting the
results of strange experience.

Still, for the Japanese themselves, not the least pleasure of travel
in Japan is the pleasure of studying the curious variety in local
production,--the pleasure of finding the novel, the unexpected, the
unimagined. Even those arts or industries of Old Japan, primarily
borrowed from Korea or from China, appear to have developed and
conserved innumerable queer forms under the influence of the
numberless local cults.



Almost the whole of authentic Japanese history is comprised in one
vast episode: the rise and fall of the military power.... It has been
customary to speak of Japanese history as beginning with the
accession of Jimmu Tenno, alleged to have reigned from 660 to 585
B.C., and to have lived for one hundred and twenty-seven years.
Before the time of the Emperor Jimmu was the Age of the Gods,--the
period of mythology. But trustworthy history does not begin for a
thousand years after the accession of Jimmu Tenno; and the chronicles
of those thousand years must be regarded as little better than
fairy-tales. They contain records of fact; but fact and myth are so
interwoven that it is difficult to distinguish the one from the
other. We have legends, for example, of an alleged conquest of Korea
in the year 202 A.D., by the Empress Jingo; and it has been tolerably
well proved that no such conquest took place.* [*See Aston's paper,
Early Japanese History, in the translations of the Asiatic Society of
Japan.] The later records are somewhat less mythical than the
earlier. We have traditions apparently founded on [260] fact, of
Korean immigration in the time of the fifteenth ruler, the Emperor
Ojin; then later traditions, also founded on fact, of early Chinese
studies in Japan; then some vague accounts of a disturbed state of
society, which appears to have continued through the whole of the
fifth century. Buddhism was introduced in the middle of the century
following; and we have record of the fierce opposition offered to the
new creed by a Shinto faction, and of a miraculous victory won by the
help of the Four Deva Kings, at the prayer of Shotoku Taishi,--the
great founder of Buddhism, and regent of the Empress Suiko. With the
firm establishment of Buddhism in the reign of that Empress (593-628
A.D.), we reach the period of authentic history, and of the
thirty-third Japanese sovereign counting from Jimmu Tenno.

But although everything prior to the seventh century remains obscured
for us by the mists of fable, much can be inferred, even from the
half-mythical records, concerning social conditions during the reigns
of the first thirty-three Emperors and Empresses. It appears that the
early Mikado lived very simply--scarcely better, indeed, than their
subjects. The Shinto scholar Mabuchi tells us that they dwelt in huts
with mud walls and roofs of shingle; that they wore hempen clothes;
that they carried their swords in simple wooden scabbards, bound
round with the tendrils of a wild [261] vine; that they walked about
freely among the people; that they carried their own bows and arrows
when they went to hunt. But as society developed wealth and power,
this early simplicity disappeared, and the gradual introduction of
Chinese customs and etiquette effected great changes. The Empress
Suiko introduced Chinese court-ceremonies, and first established
among the nobility the Chinese grades of rank. Chinese luxury, as
well as Chinese learning, soon made its appearance at court; and
thereafter the imperial authority appears to have been less and less
directly exerted. The new ceremonialism must have rendered the
personal exercise of the multiform imperial functions more difficult
than before; and it is probable that the temptation to act more or
less by deputy would have been strong even in the case of an
energetic ruler. At all events we find that the real administration
of government began about this time to pass into the hands of
deputies,--all of whom were members of the great Kuge clan of the

This clan, which included the highest hereditary priesthood,
represented a majority of the ancient nobility, claiming divine
descent. Ninety-five out of the total one hundred and fifty-five
families of Kuge belonged to it,--including the five families,
Go-Sekke, from which alone the Emperor was by tradition allowed to
choose his Empress. Its historic name dates only from the reign of
the Emperor [262] Kwammu (782-806 A.D.), who bestowed it as an honour
upon Nakatomi no Kamatari; but the clan had long previously held the
highest positions at Court. By the close of the seventh century most
of the executive power had passed into its hands. Later the office of
Kwambaku, or Regent, was established, and remained hereditary in the
house down to modern times--ages after all real power had been taken
from the descendants of Nakatomi no Kamatari. But during almost five
centuries the Fujiwara remained the veritable regents of the country,
and took every possible advantage of their position. All the civil
offices were in the hands of Fujiwara men; all the wives and
favourites of the Emperors were Fujiwara women. The whole power of
government was thus kept in the hands of the clan; and the political
authority of the Emperor ceased to exist. Moreover the succession was
regulated entirely by the Fujiwara; and even the duration of each
reign was made to depend upon their policy. It was deemed advisable
to compel Emperors to abdicate at an early age, and after abdicating
to become Buddhist monks,--the successor chosen being often a mere
child. There is record of an Emperor ascending the throne at the age
of two, and abdicating at the age of four; another Mikado was
appointed at the age of five; several at the age of ten. Yet the
religious dignity of the throne remained undiminished, or, rather,
continued [263] to grow. The more the Mikado was withdrawn from
public view by policy and by ceremonial, the more did his seclusion
and inaccessibility serve to deepen the awe of the divine legend.
Like the Lama of Thibet the living deity was made invisible to the
multitude; and gradually the belief arose that to look upon his face
was death.... It is said that the Fujiwara were not satisfied even
with these despotic means of assuring their own domination, and that
luxurious forms of corruption were maintained within the palace for
the purpose of weakening the character of young emperors who might
otherwise have found the energy to assert the ancient rights of the

Perhaps this usurpation--which prepared the way for the rise of the
military power--has never been rightly interpreted. The history of
all the patriarchal societies of ancient Europe will be found to
illustrate the same phase of social evolution. At a certain period in
the development of each we find the same thing happening,--the
withdrawal of all political authority from the Priest-King, who is
suffered, nevertheless, to retain the religious dignity. It may be a
mistake to judge the policy of the Fujiwara as a policy of mere
ambition and usurpation. The Fujiwara were a religious aristocracy,
claiming divine origin,--clan-chiefs of a society in which religion
and government were identical, and holding to that society much the
same relation as that of the [264] Eupatridae to the ancient Attic
society. The Mikado had originally become supreme magistrate,
military commander, and religious head by consent of a majority of
the clan-chiefs,--each of whom represented to his own following what
the "Heavenly Sovereign" represented to the social aggregate. But as
the power of the ruler extended with the growth of the nation, those
who had formerly united to maintain that power began to find it
dangerous. They decided to deprive the Heavenly Sovereign of all
political and legal authority, without disturbing in any way his
religious supremacy. At Athens, at Sparta, at Rome, and elsewhere in
ancient Europe, the same policy was carried out, for the same
reasons, by religious senates. The history of the early kings of
Rome, as interpreted by M. de Coulanges, best illustrates the nature
of the antagonism developed between the priest-ruler and the
religious aristocracy; but the same thing took place in all the Greek
communities, with about the same result. Everywhere political power
was taken away from the early kings; but they were mostly left in
possession of their religious dignities and privileges: they remained
supreme priests after having ceased to be rulers. This was the case
also in Japan; and I imagine that future Japanese historians will be
able to give us an entirely new interpretation of the Fujiwara
episode, as reviewed in the light of modern sociology. At all events,
there can be little doubt [265] that, in curtailing the powers of the
Heavenly Sovereign, the religious aristocracy must have been actuated
by conservative precaution as well as by ambition. There had been
various Emperors who made changes in the laws and customs--changes
which could scarcely have been viewed with favour by many of the
ancient nobility; there had been an Emperor whose diversions can
to-day be written of only in Latin; there had even been an
Emperor--Kotoku--who, though "God Incarnate," and chief of the
ancient faith, "despised the Way of the Gods," and cut down the holy
grove of the shrine of Iku-kuni-dama. Kotoku, for all his Buddhist
piety (perhaps, indeed, because of it), was one of the wisest and
best of rulers; but the example of a heavenly sovereign "despising
the Way of the Gods," must have given the priestly clan matter for
serious reflection.... Besides, there is another important fact to be
noticed. The Imperial household proper had become, in the course of
centuries, entirely detached from the Uji; and the omnipotence of
this unit, independent of all other units, constituted in itself a
grave danger to aristocratic privileges and established institutions.
Too much might depend upon the personal character and will of an
omnipotent God-King, capable of breaking with all clan-custom, and of
abrogating clan-privileges. On the other hand, there was safety for
all alike under the patriarchal rule of the clan, which [266] could
cheek every tendency on the part of any of its members to exert
predominant influence at the expense of the rest. But for obvious
reasons the Imperial cult--traditional source of all authority and
privilege--could not be touched: it was only by maintaining and
reinforcing it that the religious nobility could expect to keep the
real power in their hands. They actually kept it for nearly five

The history of all the Japanese regencies, however, amply illustrates
the general rule that inherited authority is ever and everywhere
liable to find itself supplanted by deputed authority. The Fujiwara
appear to have eventually become the victims of that luxury which
they had themselves, for reasons of policy, introduced and
maintained. Degenerating into a mere court-nobility, they made little
effort to exert any direct authority in other than civil directions,
entrusting military matters almost wholly to the Buke. In the eighth
century the distinction between military and civil organization had
been made upon the Chinese plan; the great military class then came
into existence, and began to extend its power rapidly. Of the
military clans proper, the most powerful were the Minamoto and the
Taira. By deputing to these clans the conduct of all important
matters relating to war, the Fujiwara eventually lost their high
position and influence. As soon [267] as the Buke found themselves
strong enough to lay hands upon the reins of government,--which
happened about the middle of the eleventh century,--the Fujiwara
supremacy became a thing of the past, although members of the clan
continued for centuries to occupy positions of importance under
various regents.

But the Buke could not realize their ambition without a bitter
struggle among themselves,--the longest and the fiercest war in
Japanese history. The Minamoto and the Taira were both Kuge; both
claimed imperial descent. In the early part of the contest the Taira
carried all before them; and it seemed that no power could hinder
them from exterminating the rival clan. But fortune turned at last in
favour of the Minamoto; and at the famous sea-fight of Dan-no-ura, in
1185, the Taira were themselves exterminated.

Then began the reign of the Minamoto regents, or rather shogun. I
have elsewhere said that the title "shogun" originally signified, as
did the Roman military term Imperator, only a commander-in-chief: it
now became the title of the supreme ruler de facto, in his double
capacity of civil and military sovereign,--the King of kings. From
the accession of the Minamoto to power the history of the
shogunate--the long history of the military supremacy--really begins;
Japan thereafter, down to the present era of Meiji, having really two
Emperors: [268] the Heavenly Sovereign, or Deity Incarnate,
representing the religion of the race; and the veritable Imperator,
who wielded all the powers of the administration. No one sought to
occupy by force the throne of the Sun's Succession, whence all
authority was at least supposed to be derived. Regent or shogun bowed
down before it: divinity could not be usurped.

Yet peace did not follow upon the battle of Dan-no-ura: the clan-wars
initiated by the great struggle of the Minamoto and the Taira,
continued, at irregular intervals, for five centuries more; and the
nation remained disintegrated. Nor did the Minamoto long keep the
supremacy which they had so dearly won. Deputing their powers to the
Hojo family, they were supplanted by the Hojo, just as the Fujiwara
had been supplanted by the Taira. Three only of the Minamoto shogun
really exercised rule. During the whole of the thirteenth century,
and for some time afterwards, the Hojo continued to govern the
country; and it is noteworthy that these regents never assumed the
title of shogun, but professed to be merely shogunal deputies. Thus a
triple-headed government appeared to exist; for the Minamoto kept up
a kind of court at Kamakura. But they faded into mere shadows, and
are yet remembered by the significant appellation of "Shadow-Shogun,"
or "Puppet Shogun." There was nothing shadowy, however, about the
administration of the Hojo, [269]--men of immense energy and
ability. By them Emperor or shogun could be deposed and banished
without scruple; and the helplessness of the shogunate can be
inferred from the fact, that the seventh Hojo regent, before deposing
the seventh shogun, sent him home in a palanquin, head downwards and
heels upwards. Nevertheless the Hojo suffered the phantom-shogunate
to linger on, until 1333. Though unscrupulous in their methods, these
regents were capable rulers; and proved themselves able to save the
country in a great emergency,--the famous invasion attempted by
Kublai Khan in 1281. Aided by a fortunate typhoon, which is said to
have destroyed the hostile fleet in answer to prayer offered up at
the national shrines, the Hojo could repel this invasion. They were
less successful in dealing with certain domestic
disorders,--especially those fomented by the turbulent Buddhist
priesthood. During the thirteenth century, Buddhism had developed
into a great military power,--strangely like that church-militant of
the European middle ages: the period of soldier-priests and
fighting-bishops. The Buddhist monasteries had been converted into
fortresses filled with men-at arms; Buddhist menace had more than
once carried terror into the sacred seclusion of the imperial court.
At an early day, Yoritomo, the far-seeing founder of the Minamoto
dynasty, had observed a militant tendency in Buddhism, and had
attempted to check [270] it by forbidding all priests and monks
either to bear arms, or to maintain armed retainers. But his
successors had been careless about enforcing these prohibitions; and
the Buddhist military power developed in consequence so rapidly that
the shrewdest Hojo were doubtful of their ability to cope with it.
Eventually this power proved capable of giving them serious trouble.
The ninety-sixth Mikado, Go-Daigo, found courage to revolt against
the tyranny of the Hojo; and the Buddhist soldiery took part with
him. He was promptly defeated, and banished to the islands of Oki;
but his cause was soon espoused by powerful lords, who had long
chafed under the despotism of the regency. These assembled their
forces, restored the banished Emperor, and combined in a desperate
attack upon the regent's capital, Kamakura. The city was stormed and
burned; and the last of the Hojo rulers, after a brave but vain
defence, performed harakiri. Thus shogunate and regency vanished
together, in 1333.

For the moment the whole power of administration had been restored to
the Mikado. Unfortunately for himself and for the country, Go-Daigo
was too feeble of character to avail himself of this great
opportunity. He revived the dead shogunate by appointing his own son
shogun; he weakly ignored the services of those whose loyalty and
courage had restored him; and he foolishly strengthened [271] the
hands of those whom he had every reason to fear. As a consequence
there happened the most serious political catastrophe in the history
of Japan, a division of the imperial house against itself.

The unscrupulous despotism of the Hojo regents had prepared the
possibility of such an event. During the last years of the thirteenth
century, there were living at the same time in Kyoto, besides the
reigning Mikado, no less than three deposed emperors. To bring about
a contest for the succession was, therefore, an easy matter; and this
was soon accomplished by the treacherous general Ashikaga Takeuji, to
whom Go-Daigo had unwisely shown especial favour. Ashikaga had
betrayed the Hojo in order to help the restoration of Go-Daigo: he
subsequently would have betrayed the trust of Go-Daigo, in order to
seize the administrative power. The Emperor discovered this
treasonable purpose when too late, and sent against Ashikaga an army
which was defeated. After some further contest Ashikaga mastered the
capital, drove Go-Daigo a second time into exile, set up a rival
Emperor, and established a new shogunate. Now for the first time, two
branches of the Imperial family, each supported by powerful lords,
contended for the right of succession. That of which Go-Daigo
remained the acting representative, is known in history as the
Southern Branch (Nancho), and by Japanese historians is held to be
the only legitimate branch. [272]

The other was called the Northern Branch (Hokucho), and was
maintained at Kyoto by the power of the Ashikaga clan; while
Go-Daigo, finding refuge in a Buddhist monastery, retained the
insignia of empire. Thereafter, for a period of fifty-six years Japan
continued to have two Mikado; and the resulting disorder was such as
to imperil the national integrity. It would have been no easy matter
for the people to decide which Emperor possessed the better claim.
Hitherto the imperial presence had represented the national divinity;
and the imperial palace had been regarded as the temple of the
national religion: the division maintained by the Ashikaga usurpers
therefore signified nothing less than the breaking up of the whole
tradition upon which existing society had been built. The confusion
became greater and greater, the danger increased more and more, until
the Ashikaga themselves took alarm. They managed then to end the
trouble by persuading the fifth Mikado of the Southern Dynasty, Go
Kameyama, to surrender his insignia to the reigning Mikado of the
Northern Dynasty, Go-Komatsu. This having been done, in 1392,
Go-Kameyama was honoured with the title of retired Emperor, and
Go-Komatsu was nationally acknowledged as legitimate Emperor. But the
names of the other four Emperors of the Northern Dynasty are still
excluded from the official list. The Ashikaga shogunate thus averted
the supreme [273] peril; but the period of this military domination,
which endured until 1573, was destined to remain the darkest in
Japanese history. The Ashikaga gave the country fifteen rulers,
several of whom were men of great ability: they tried to encourage
industry; they cultivated literature and the arts; but they could not
give peace. Fresh disputes arose; and lords whom the shogunate could
not subdue made war upon each other. To such a condition of terror
was the capital reduced that the court nobility fled from it to take
refuge with daimyo powerful enough to afford them protection. Robbery
became rife throughout the land; and piracy terrorized the seas. The
shogunate itself was reduced to the humiliation of paying tribute to
China. Agriculture and industry at last ceased to exist outside of
the domains of certain powerful lords. Provinces became waste; and
famine, earthquake, and pestilence added their horror to the misery
of ceaseless war. The poverty prevailing may be best imagined from
the fact that when the Emperor known to history as
Go-Tsuchi-mikado--one hundred and second of the Sun's Succession
--died in the year 1500, his corpse had to be kept at the gates of
the palace forty days, because the expenses of the funeral could not
be defrayed. Until 1573 the misery continued; and the shogunate
meanwhile degenerated into insignificance. Then a strong captain
arose and ended the house of Ashikaga, and seized the reins of power.
[274] This usurper was Oda Nobunaga; and the usurpation was amply
provoked. Had it not occurred, Japan might never have entered upon an
era of peace.

For there had been no peace since the fifth century.  No emperor or
regent or shogun had ever been able to impose his rule firmly upon
the whole country. Somewhere or other, there were always wars of clan
with clan. By the time of the sixteenth century personal safety could
be found only under the protection of some military leader, able to
exact his own terms for the favour of such protection. The question
of the imperial succession,--which had almost wrecked the empire
during the fourteenth century,--might be raised again at any time by
some reckless faction, with the probable result of ruining
civilization, and forcing the nation back to its primitive state of
barbarism. Never did the future of Japan appear so dark as at the
moment when Oda Nobunaga suddenly found himself the strongest man in
the empire, and leader of the most formidable Japanese army that had
ever obeyed a single head. This man, a descendant of Shinto priests,
was above all things a patriot. He did not seek the title of shogun,
and never received it. His hope was to save the country; and he saw
that this could be done only by centralizing all feudal power under
one control, and strenuously enforcing law. Looking about him for the
ways and means of effecting [275] this centralization, he perceived
that one of the very first obstacles to be removed was that created
by the power of Buddhism militant,--the feudal Buddhism developed
under the Hojo regency, and especially represented by the great Shin
and Tendai sects. As both had already given aid to his enemies, it
was easy to find a cause for quarrel; and he first proceeded against
the Tendai. The campaign was conducted with ferocious vigour; the
monastery-fortresses of Hiyei-san were stormed and razed, and all the
priests, with all their adherents, put to the sword--no mercy being
shown even to women and children. By nature Nobunaga was not cruel;
but his policy was ruthless, and he knew when and why to strike hard.
The power of the Tendai sect before this massacre may be imagined
from the fact that three thousand monastery buildings were burnt at
Hiyei-san. The Shin sect of the Hongwanji, with headquarters at
Osaka, was scarcely less powerful; and its monastery, occupying the
site of the present Osaka castle, was one of the strongest fortresses
in the country. Nobunaga waited several years, merely to prepare for
the attack. The soldier-priests defended themselves well; upwards of
fifty thousand lives are said to have been lost in the siege; yet
only the personal intervention of the Emperor prevented the storming
of the stronghold, and the slaughter of every being within its walls.
Through respect for the Emperor, Nobunaga agreed [276] to spare the
lives of the Shin priests: they were only dispossessed and scattered,
and their power forever broken. Buddhism having been thus effectually
crippled, Nobunaga was able to turn his attention to the warring
clans. Supported by the greatest generals that the nation ever
produced,--Hideyoshi and Iyeyasu,--he proceeded to enforce
pacification and order; and his grand purpose would probably have
been soon accomplished, but for the revengeful treachery of a
subordinate, who brought about his death in 1583.

Nobunaga, with Taira blood in his veins, had been essentially an
aristocrat, inheriting all the aptitudes of his great race for
administration, and versed in all the traditions of diplomacy. His
avenger and successor, Hideyoshi, was a totally different type of
soldier: a son of peasants, an untrained genius who had won his way
to high command by shrewdness and courage, natural skill of arms, and
immense inborn capacity for all the chess-play of war. With the great
purpose of Nobunaga he had always been in sympathy; and he actually
carried it out,--subduing the entire country, from north to south, in
the name of the Emperor, by whom he was appointed Regent (Kwambaku).
Thus universal peace was temporarily established. But the vast
military powers which Hideyoshi had collected and disciplined,
threatened to become refractory. He found employment for them by
declaring unprovoked [277] war against Korea, whence he hoped to
effect the conquest of China. The war with Korea opened in 1592, and
dragged on unsatisfactorily until 1598, when Hideyoshi died. He had
proved himself one of the greatest soldiers ever born, but not one of
the best among rulers. Perhaps the issue of the war in Korea would
have been more fortunate, if he could have ventured to conduct it
himself. As a matter of fact, it merely exhausted the force of both
countries; and Japan had little to show for her dearly bought
victories abroad except the Mimidzuka or "Ear-Monument" at
Nara,--marking the spot where thirty thousand pairs of foreign ears,
cut from the pickled heads of slain, were buried in the grounds of
the temple of Daibutsu....

Into the vacant place of power then stepped the most remarkable man
that Japan ever produced,--Tokugawa Iyeyasu. Iyeyasu was of Minamoto
descent, and an aristocrat to the marrow of his bones. As a soldier
he was scarcely inferior to Hideyoshi, whom he once defeated,--but he
was much more than a soldier, a far-sighted statesman, an
incomparable diplomat, and something of a scholar. Cool, cautious,
secretive,--distrustful, yet generous,--stern, yet humane,--by the
range and the versatility of his genius he might be not unfavourably
contrasted with Julius Caesar. All that Nobunaga and Hideyoshi had
wished to do, and failed to [278] do, Iyeyasu speedily accomplished.
After fulfilling Hideyoshi's dying injunction, not to leave the
troops in Korea "to become ghosts haunting a foreign land,"--that is
to say, in the condition of spirits without a cult,--Iyeyasu had to
face a formidable league of lords resolved to dispute his claim to
rule. The terrific battle of Sekigahara left him master of the
country; and he at once took measures to consolidate his power, and
to perfect, even to the least detail, all the machinery of military
government. As shogun, he reorganized the daimiates, redistributed a
majority of fiefs; among those whom he could trust, created new
military grades, and ordered and so balanced the powers of the
greater daimyo as to make it next to impossible for them to dare a
revolt. Later on the daimyo were even required to furnish security
for their good behaviour: they were obliged to pass a certain time of
the year* in the shogun's capital, leaving their families as hostages
during the rest of the year. The entire administration was readjusted
upon a simple and sagacious plan; and the Laws of Iyeyasu prove him
to have been an excellent legislator. For the first time in Japanese
history the nation was integrated,--integrated, at least, in so far
as the peculiar nature of the social unit rendered possible. The
counsels [279] of the founder of Yedo were followed by his
successors; and the Tokugawa shogunate, which lasted until 1867, gave
the country fifteen military sovereigns. Under these, Japan enjoyed
both peace and prosperity for the time of two hundred and fifty
years; and her society was thus enabled to evolve to the full limit
of its peculiar type. Industries and arts developed in new and
wonderful ways; literature found august patronage. The national cult
was carefully maintained; and all precautions were taken to prevent
the occurrence of another such contest for the imperial succession as
had nearly ruined the country in the fourteenth century.

[*The period of obligatory residence in Yedo was not the same for all
daimyo. In some cases the obligation seems to have extended to six
months; in others, the requirement was to pass every alternate year
in the capital.]

We have seen that the history of military rule in Japan embraces
nearly the whole period of authentic history, down to modern times,
and closes with the second period of national integration. The first
period had been reached when the clans first accepted the leadership
of the chief of the greatest clan,--thereafter revered as the
Heavenly Sovereign, Supreme Pontiff, Supreme Arbiter, Supreme
Commander, and Supreme Magistrate. How long a time was required for
this primal integration, under a patriarchal monarchy, we cannot
know; but we have learned that the later integration, under a
duarchy, occupied considerably more than a thousand years.... Now the
extraordinary fact to note is that, during all those centuries, the
imperial [280] cult was carefully maintained by even the enemies of
the Mikado; the only legitimate ruler being, in national belief, the
Tenshi, "Son of Heaven,"--the Tenno, "Heavenly King." Through every
period of disorder the Offspring of the Sun was the object of
national worship, and his palace the temple of the national faith.
Great captains might coerce the imperial will; but they styled
themselves, none the less, the worshippers and slaves of the
incarnate deity; and they would no more have thought of trying to
occupy his throne, than they would have thought of trying to abolish
all religion by decree. Once only, by the arbitrary folly of the
Ashikaga shogun, the imperial cult had been seriously interfered
with; and the social earthquake consequent upon that division of the
imperial house, apprised the usurpers of the enormity of their
blunder.... Only the integrity of the imperial succession, the
uninterrupted maintenance of the imperial worship, made it possible
even for Iyeyasu to clamp together the indissoluble units of society.

Herbert Spencer has taught the student of sociology to recognize that
religious dynasties have extraordinary powers of longevity, because
they possess extraordinary power to resist change; whereas military
dynasties, depending for their perpetuity upon the individual
character of their sovereigns, are particularly liable to
disintegration. The immense duration of the Japanese imperial
dynasty, as contrasted [281] with the history of the various
shogunates and regencies representing a merely military domination,
illustrates this teaching in a most remarkable way. Back through
twenty-five hundred years we can follow the line of the imperial
succession, till it vanishes out of sight into the mystery of the
past. Here we have evidence of that extreme power of resisting all
changes which is inherently characteristic of religious conservatism;
on the other hand, the history of shogunates and regencies proves the
tendency to disintegration of institutions having no religious
foundation, and therefore no religious power of cohesion. The
remarkable duration of the Fujiwara rule, as compared with others,
may perhaps be accounted for by the fact that the Fujiwara
represented a religious, rather than a military, aristocracy. Even
the marvellous military structure devised by Iyeyasu had begun to
decay before alien aggression precipitated its inevitable collapse.



"Militant societies," says the author of the Principles of Sociology,
"must have a patriotism which regards the triumph of their society as
the supreme end of action; they must possess the loyalty whence flows
obedience to authority,--and, that they may be obedient, they must
have abundant faith." The history of the Japanese people strongly
exemplifies these truths. Among no other people has loyalty ever
assumed more impressive and extraordinary forms; and among no other
people has obedience ever been nourished by a more abundant
faith,--that faith derived from the cult of the ancestors.

The reader will understand how filial piety--the domestic religion of
obedience--widens in range with social evolution, and eventually
differentiates both into that political obedience required by the
community, and that military obedience exacted by the
war-lord,--obedience implying not only submission, but affectionate
submission,--not merely the sense of obligation, but the sentiment of
duty. In its origin such dutiful obedience is essentially religious;
and, as expressed in loyalty, it retains the [284] religious
character,--becomes the constant manifestation of a religion of
self-sacrifice. Loyalty is developed early in the history of a
militant people; and we find touching examples of it in the earliest
Japanese chronicles. We find also terrible ones,--stories of

To his divinely descended lord, the retainer owed everything--in
fact, not less than in theory: goods, household, liberty, and life.
Any or all of these he was expected to yield up without a murmur, on
demand, for the sake of the lord. And duty to the lord, like the duty
to the family ancestor, did not cease with death. As the ghosts of
parents were to be supplied with food by their living children, so
the spirit of the lord was to be worshipfully served by those who,
during his lifetime, owed him direct obedience. It could not be
permitted that the spirit of--the ruler should enter unattended into
the world of shadows: some, at least, of those who served him living
were bound to follow him in death. Thus in early societies arose the
custom of human sacrifices,--sacrifices at first obligatory,
afterwards voluntary. In Japan, as stated in a former chapter, they
remained an indispensable feature of great funerals, up to the first
century, when images of baked clay were first substituted for the
official victims. I have already mentioned how, after this abolition
of obligatory [285] junshi, or following of one's lord in death, the
practice of voluntary junshi continued up to the sixteenth century,
when it actually became a military fashion. At the death of a daimyo
it was then common for fifteen or twenty of his retainers to
disembowel themselves. Iyeyasu determined to put an end to this
custom of suicide, which is thus considered in the 76th article of
his celebrated Legacy:--

"Although it is undoubtedly the ancient custom for a vassal to follow
his Lord in death, there is not the slightest reason in the practice.
Confucius has ridiculed the making of Yo [effigies buried with the
dead]. These practices are strictly forbidden, more especially to
primary retainers, but to secondary retainers likewise, even of the
lowest rank. He is the reverse of a faithful servant who disregards
this prohibition. His posterity shall be impoverished by the
confiscation of his property, as a warning for those who disobey the

Iyeyasu's command ended the practice of junshi among his own vassals;
but it continued, or revived again, after his death. In 1664 the
shogunate issued an edict proclaiming that the family of any person
performing junshi should be punished; and the shogunate was in
earnest. When this edict was disobeyed by one Uyemon no Hyoge, who
disembowelled himself at the death of his lord, Okudaira Tadamasa,
the government promptly confiscated the lands of the family of the
suicide, executed two of [286] his sons, and sent the rest of the
household into exile. Though cases of junshi have occurred even
within this present era of Meiji, the determined attitude of the
Tokugawa government so far checked the practice that even the most
fervid loyalty latterly made its sacrifices through religion, as a
rule. Instead of performing harakiri, the retainer shaved his head at
the death of his lord, and became a Buddhist monk.

The custom of junshi represents but one aspect of Japanese loyalty:
there were other customs equally, if not even more, significant,--for
example, the custom of military suicide, not as junshi, but as a
self-inflicted penalty exacted by the traditions of samurai
discipline. Against harakiri, as punitive suicide, there was no
legislative enactment, for obvious reasons. It would seem that this
form of self-destruction was not known to the Japanese in early ages;
it may have been introduced from China, with other military customs.
The ancient Japanese usually performed suicide by strangulation, as
the Nihongi bears witness. It was the military class that established
the harakiri as a custom and privilege. Previously, the chiefs of a
routed army, or the defenders of a castle taken by storm, would thus
end themselves to avoid falling into the enemy's hands,--a custom
which continued into the present era. About the close of the
fifteenth century, the [287] military custom of permitting any
samurai to perform harakiri, instead of subjecting him to the shame
of execution, appears to have been generally established. Afterwards
it became the recognized duty of a samurai to kill himself at the
word of command. All samurai were subject to this disciplinary law,
even lords of provinces; and in samurai families, children of both
sexes were trained how to perform suicide whenever personal honour or
the will of a liege-lord, might require it.... Women, I should
observe, did not perform harakiri, but jigai,--that is to say,
piercing the throat with a dagger so as to sever the arteries by a
single thrust-and-cut movement.... The particulars of the harakiri
ceremony have become so well known through Mitford's translation of
Japanese texts on the subject, that I need not touch upon them. The
important fact to remember is that honour and loyalty required the
samurai man or woman to be ready at any moment to perform
self-destruction by the sword. As for the warrior, any breach of
trust (voluntary or involuntary), failure to execute a difficult
mission, a clumsy mistake, and even a look of displeasure from one's
liege, were sufficient reasons for harakiri, or, as the aristocrats
preferred to call it, by the Chinese term, seppuku. Among the highest
class of retainers, it was also a duty to make protest against
misconduct on the part of their lord by performing seppuku, when all
other means of bringing him to reason had [288] failed,--which heroic
custom has been made the subject of several popular dramas founded
upon fact. In the case of married women of the samurai
class,--directly responsible to their husbands, not to the
lord,--jigai was resorted to most often as a means of preserving
honour in time of war, though it was sometimes performed merely as a
sacrifice of loyalty to the spirit of the husband, after his untimely
death.* [*The Japanese moralist Yekken wrote 'A woman has no feudal
lord: she must reverence and obey her husband.'] In the case of girls
it was not uncommon for other reasons,--samurai maidens often
entering into the service of noble households, where the cruelty of
intrigue might easily bring about a suicide, or where loyalty to the
wife of the lord might exact it. For the samurai maiden in service
was bound by loyalty to her mistress not less closely than the
warrior to the lord; and the heroines of Japanese feudalism were

In the early ages it appears to have been the custom for the wives of
officials condemned to death to kill themselves the ancient
chronicles are full of examples. But this custom is perhaps to be
partly accounted for by the ancient law, which held the household of
the offender equally responsible with him for the offence,
independently of the facts in the case. However, it was certainly
also common enough for a bereaved wife to perform suicide, not
through despair, but through the wish to follow her [289] husband
into the other world, and there to wait upon him as in life.
Instances of female suicide, representing the old ideal of duty to a
dead husband, have occurred in recent times. Such suicides are
usually performed according to the feudal rules,--the woman robing
herself in white for the occasion. At the time of the late war with
China there occurred in Tokyo one remarkable suicide of this kind;
the victim being the wife of Lieutenant Asada, who had fallen in
battle. She was only twenty-one. On hearing of her husband's death,
she at once began to make preparations for her own,--writing letters
of farewell to her relatives, putting her affairs in order, and
carefully cleaning the house, according to old-time rule. Thereafter
she donned her death-robe; laid mattings down opposite to the alcove
in the guest-room; placed her husband's portrait in the alcove, and
set offerings before it. When everything had been arranged, she
seated herself before the portrait, took up her dagger, and with a
single skilful thrust divided the arteries of her throat.

Besides the duty of suicide for the sake of preserving honour, there
was also, for the samurai woman, the duty of suicide as a moral
protest. I have already said that among the highest class of
retainers it was thought a moral duty to perform harakiri as a
remonstrance against shameless conduct on the part of one's lord,
when all other means of persuasion [290] had been tried in vain.
Among samurai women--taught to consider their husbands as their
lords, in the feudal meaning of the term--it was held a moral
obligation to perform jigai, by way of protest, against disgraceful
behaviour upon the part of a husband who would not listen to advice
or reproof. The ideal of wifely duty which impelled such sacrifice
still survives; and more than one recent example might be cited of a
generous life thus laid down in rebuke of some moral wrong. Perhaps
the most touching instance occurred in 1892, at the time of the
district elections in Nagano prefecture. A rich voter named Ishijima,
after having publicly pledged himself to aid in the election of a
certain candidate, transferred his support to the rival candidate. On
learning of this breach of promise, the wife of Ishijima, robed
herself in white, and performed jigai after the old samurai manner.
The grave of this brave woman is still decorated with flowers by the
people of the district; and incense is burned before her tomb.

To kill oneself at command--a duty which no loyal samurai would have
dreamed of calling in question--appears to us much less difficult
than another duty, also fully accepted: the sacrifice of children,
wife, and household for the sake of the lord. Much of Japanese
popular tragedy is devoted to incidents of such sacrifice made by
retainers or [291] dependents of daimyo,--men or women who gave their
children to death in order to save the children of their masters.*
[*See, for a good example, the translation of the drama Terakoya,
published, with admirable illustrations, by T. Hasegawa (Tokyo).] Nor
have we any reason to suppose that the facts have been exaggerated in
these dramatic compositions, most of which are based upon feudal
history. The incidents, of course, have been rearranged and expanded
to meet theatrical requirements; but the general pictures thus given
of the ancient society are probably even less grim than the vanished
reality. The people still love these tragedies; and the foreign
critic of their dramatic literature is wont to point out only the
blood-spots, and to comment upon them as evidence of a public taste
for gory spectacles,--as proof of some innate ferocity in the race.
Rather, I think, is this love of the old tragedy proof of what
foreign critics try always to ignore as--much as possible,--the
deeply religious character of the people. These plays continue to
give delight,--not because of their horror, but because of their
moral teaching,--because of their exposition of the duty of sacrifice
and courage, the religion of loyalty. They represent the martyrdoms
of feudal society for its noblest ideals.

All down through that society, in varying forms, the same spirit--of
loyalty had its manifestations. As the samurai to his liege-lord, so
the apprentice was bound to the patron, and the clerk to the [292]
merchant. Everywhere there was trust, because everywhere there
existed the like sentiment of mutual duty between servant and master.
Each industry and occupation had its religion of loyalty,--requiring,
on the one side, absolute obedience and sacrifice at need; and on the
other, kindliness and aid. And the rule of the dead was over all.

Not less ancient than the duty of dying for parent or lord was the
social obligation to avenge the killing of either. Even before the
beginnings of settled society, this duty is recognized. The oldest
chronicles of Japan teem with instances of obligatory vengeance.
Confucian ethics more than affirmed the obligation,--forbidding a man
to live "under the same heaven" with the slayer of his lord, or
parent, or brother; and fixing all the degrees of kinship, or other
relationship, within which the duty of vengeance was to be considered
imperative. Confucian ethics, it will be remembered, became at an
early date the ethics of the Japanese ruling-classes, and so remained
down to recent times. The whole Confucian system, as I have remarked
elsewhere, was founded upon ancestor-worship, and represented
scarcely more than an amplification and elaboration of filial piety:
it was therefore in complete accord with Japanese moral experience.
As the military power developed in Japan, the Chinese code of
vengeance became universally accepted; and it was sustained [293] by
law as well as by custom in later ages. Iyeyasu himself maintained
it--exacting only that preliminary notice of an intended vendetta
should be given in writing to the district criminal court. The text
of his article on the subject is interesting:--

"In respect to avenging injury done to master or father, it is
acknowledged by the Wise and Virtuous [Confucius] that you and the
injurer cannot live together under the canopy of heaven. A person
harbouring such vengeance shall give notice in writing to the
criminal court; and although no check or hindrance may be offered to
the carrying out of his design within the period allowed for that
purpose, it is forbidden that the chastisement of an enemy be
attended with riot. Fellows who neglect to give notice of their
intended revenge are like wolves of pretext:* their punishment or
pardon should depend upon the circumstances of the case."

[*Or "hypocritical wolves."--that is to say brutal murderers seeking
to excuse their crime on the pretext justifiable vengeance. (The
translation is by Lowder.)]

Kindred, as well as parents; teachers, as well as lords, were to be
revenged. A considerable proportion of popular romance and drama is
devoted to the subject of vengeance taken by women; and, as a matter
of fact, women, and even children, sometimes became avengers when
there were no men of a wronged family left to perform the duty.
Apprentices avenged their masters; and even sworn friends were bound
to avenge each other.

[294] Why the duty of vengeance was not confined to the circle of
natural kinship is explicable, of course, by the peculiar
organization of society. We have seen that the patriarchal family was
a religious corporation; and that the family-bond was not the bond of
natural affection, but the bond of the cult. We have also seen that
the relation of the household to the community, and of the community
to the clan, and of the clan to the tribe, was equally a religious
relation. As a necessary consequence, the earlier customs of
vengeance were regulated by the bond of the family, communal, or
tribal cult, as well as by the bond of blood; and with the
introduction of Chinese ethics, and the development of militant
conditions, the idea of revenge as duty took a wider range. The son
or the brother by adoption was in respect of obligation the same as
the son or brother by blood; and the teacher stood to his pupil in
the relation of father to child. To strike one's natural parent was a
crime punishable by death: to strike one's teacher was, before the
law, an equal offence. This notion of the teacher's claim to filial
reverence was of Chinese importation: an extension of the duty of
filial piety to "the father of the mind." There were other such
extensions; and the origin of all, Chinese or Japanese, may be traced
alike to ancestor-worship.

Now, what has never been properly insisted upon, in any of the books
treating of ancient [295] Japanese customs, is the originally
religious significance of the kataki-uchi. That a religious origin
can be found for all customs of vendetta established in early
societies is, of course, well known; but a peculiar interest attaches
to the Japanese vendetta in view of the fact that it conserved its
religious character unchanged down to the present era. The
kataki-uchi was essentially an act of propitiation, as is proved by
the rite with which it terminated,--the placing of the enemy's head
upon the tomb of the person avenged, as an offering of atonement. And
one of the most impressive features of this rite, as formerly
practised, was the delivery of an address to the ghost of the person
avenged. Sometimes the address was only spoken; sometimes it was also
written, and the manuscript left upon the tomb.

There is probably none of my readers unacquainted with Mitford's
ever-delightful Tales of Old Japan, and his translation of the true
story of the "Forty-Seven Ronins." But I doubt whether many persons
have noticed the significance of the washing of Kira
Kotsuke-no-Suke's severed head, or the significance of the address
inscribed to their dead lord by the brave men who had so long waited
and watched for the chance to avenge him. This address, of which I
quote Mitford's translation, was laid upon the tomb of the Lord
Asano. It is still preserved at the temple called Sengakuji:--

[296] "The fifteenth year of Genroku [17031, the twelfth month, the
fifteenth day.--We have come this day to do homage here: forty-seven
men in all, from Oishi Kuranosuke down to the foot-soldier Terasaka
Kichiyemon,--all cheerfully about to lay down our lives on your
behalf. We reverently announce this to the honoured spirit of our
dead master. On the fourteenth day of the third month of last year,
our honoured master was pleased to attack Kira Kotsuke-no-Suke, for
what reason we know not. Our honoured master put an end to his own
life; but Kira Kotsuke-no-Suke lived. Although we fear that after the
decree issued by the Government, this plot of ours will be
displeasing to our honoured master, still we, who have eaten of your
food, could not without blushing repeat the verse, "Thou shalt not
live under the same heaven, nor tread the same earth with the enemy
of thy father or lord," nor could we have dared to leave hell [Hades]
and present ourselves before you in Paradise, unless we had carried
out the vengeance which you began. Every day that we waited seemed as
three autumns to us. Verily we have trodden the snow for one day,
nay, for two days, and have tasted food but once. The old and
decrepit, the sick and the ailing, have come forth gladly to lay down
their lives. Men might laugh at us, as at grasshoppers trusting in
the strength of their arms, and thus shame our honoured lord; but we
could not halt in our deed of vengeance. Having taken counsel
together last night, we have escorted my Lord Kotsuke-no-Suke hither
to your tomb. This dirk, by which our honoured lord set great store
last year, and entrusted to our care, we now bring back. If your
noble spirit be now present before this tomb, we pray you, as a [297]
sign, to take the dirk, and, striking the head of your enemy with it
a second time, to dispel your hatred forever. This is the respectful
statement of forty-seven men."

It will be observed that the Lord Asano is addressed as if he were
present and visible. The head of the enemy has been carefully washed,
according to the rule concerning the presentation of heads to a
living superior. It is laid upon the tomb together with the nine-inch
sword, or dagger, originally used by the Lord Asano in performing
harakiri at Government command, and afterwards used by Oishi
Kuranosuke in cutting off the head of Kira Kotsuke-no-Suke;--and the
spirit of the Lord Asano is requested to take up the weapon and to
strike the head, so that the pain of ghostly anger may be dissipated
forever. Then, having been themselves all sentenced to perform
harakiri, the forty-seven retainers join their lord in death, and are
buried in front of his tomb. Before their graves the smoke of
incense, offered by admiring visitors, has been ascending daily for
two hundred years.*

[*It has been long the custom also for visitors to leave their cards
upon the tombs of the Forty-seven Ronin. When I last visited
Sengakuji, the ground about the tombs was white with visiting-cards.]

One must have lived in Japan, and have been able to feel the true
spirit of the old Japanese life, in order to comprehend the whole of
this romance of loyalty; but I think that whoever carefully reads Mr.
Mitford's version of it, and his translation of the [298] authentic
documents relating to it, will confess himself moved. That address
especially touches,--because of the affection and the faith to which
it testifies, and the sense of duty beyond this life. However much
revenge must be condemned by our modern ethics, there is a noble side
to many of the old Japanese stories of loyal vengeance; and these
stories affect us by the expression of what has nothing to do with
vulgar revenge,--by their exposition of gratitude, self-denial,
courage in facing death, and faith in the unseen. And this means, of
course, that we are, consciously or unconsciously, impressed by their
religious quality. Mere individual revenge--the postponed retaliation
for some personal injury--repels our moral feeling: we have learned
to regard the emotion inspiring such revenge as simply brutal
--something shared by man with lower forms of animal life. But in the
story of a homicide exacted by the sentiment of duty or gratitude to
a dead master, there may be circumstances which can make appeal to
our higher moral sympathies,--to our sense of the force and beauty of
unselfishness, unswerving fidelity, unchanging affection. And the
story of the Forty-Seven Ronin is one of this class....

Yet it must be borne in mind that the old Japanese religion of
loyalty, which found its supreme manifestation in those three
terrible customs of [299] junshi, harakiri, and kataki-uchi, was
narrow in its range. It was limited by the very constitution of
society. Though the nation was ruled, through all its groups, by
notions of duty everywhere similar in character, the circle of that
duty, for each individual, did not extend beyond the clan-group to
which he belonged. For his own lord the retainer was always ready to
die; but he did not feel equally bound to sacrifice himself for the
military government, unless he happened to belong to the special
military following of the Shogun. His fatherland, his country, his
world, extended only to the boundary of his chief's domain. Outside
of that domain he could be only a wanderer,--a ronin, or "wave-man,"
as the masterless samurai was termed. Under such conditions that
larger loyalty which identifies itself with love of king and
country,--which is patriotism in the modern, not in the narrower
antique sense,--could not fully evolve. Some common peril, some
danger to the whole race--such as the attempted Tartar conquest of
Japan--might temporarily arouse the true sentiment of patriotism; but
otherwise that sentiment had little opportunity for development. The
Ise cult represented, indeed, the religion of the nation, as
distinguished from the clan or tribal worship; but each man had been
taught to believe that his first duty was to his lord. One cannot
efficiently serve two masters; and feudal government practically
[300] suppressed any tendencies in that direction. The lordship so
completely owned the individual, body and soul, that the idea of any
duty to the nation, outside of the duty to the chief, had neither
time nor chance to define itself in the mind of the vassal. To the
ordinary samurai, for example, an imperial order would not have been
law: he recognized no law above the law of his daimyo. As for the
daimyo, he might either disobey or obey an imperial command according
to circumstances: his direct superior was the shogun; and he was
obliged to make for himself a politic distinction between the
Heavenly Sovereign as deity, and the Heavenly Sovereign as a human
personality. Before the ultimate centralization of the military
power, there were many instances of lords sacrificing themselves for
their emperor; but there were even more cases of open rebellion by
lords against the imperial will. Under the Tokugawa rule, the
question of obeying or resisting an imperial command would have
depended upon the attitude of the shogun; and no daimyo would have
risked such obedience to the court at Kyoto as might have signified
disobedience to the court at Yedo. Not at least until the shogunate
had fallen into decay. In Iyemitsu's time the daimyo were strictly
forbidden to approach the imperial palace on their way to Yedo,--even
in response to an imperial command; and they were also forbidden to
make any direct appeal to the [301] Mikado. The policy of the
shogunate was to prevent all direct communication between the Kyoto
court and the daimyo. This policy paralyzed intrigue for two hundred
years; but it prevented the development of patriotism.

And for that very reason, when Japan at last found herself face to
face with the unexpected peril of Western aggression, the abolition
of the dairmates was felt to be a matter of paramount importance. The
supreme danger required that the social units should be fused into
one coherent mass, capable of uniform action,--that the clan and
tribal groupings should be permanently dissolved,--that all authority
should immediately be centred in the representative of the national
religion,--that the duty of obedience to the Heavenly Sovereign
should replace, at once and forever, the feudal duty of obedience to
the territorial lord. The religion of loyalty, evolved by a thousand
years of war, could not be cast away--properly utilized, it would
prove a national heritage of incalculable worth,--a moral power
capable of miracles if directed by one wise will to a single wise
end. Destroyed by reconstruction it could not be; but it could be
diverted and transformed. Diverted, therefore, to nobler ends
--expanded to larger needs,--it became the new national sentiment of
trust and duty: the modern sense of patriotism. What wonders it has
wrought, within the space of thirty years, the world is now obliged
to confess: what [302] more it may be able to accomplish remains to
be seen. One thing at least is certain,---that the future of Japan
must depend upon the maintenance of this new religion of loyalty,
evolved, through the old, from the ancient religion of the dead.



The second half of the sixteenth century is the most interesting
period in Japanese history--for three reasons. First, because it
witnessed the apparition of those mighty captains, Nobunaga,
Hideyoshi, and Iyeyasu,--types of men that a race seems to evolve for
supreme emergencies only,--types requiring for their production not
merely the highest aptitudes of numberless generations, but likewise
an extraordinary combination of circumstances. Secondly, this period
is all-important because it saw the first complete integration of the
ancient social system,--the definitive union of all the
clan-lordships under a central military government. And lastly, the
period is of special interest because the incident of the first
attempt to christianize Japan--the story of the rise and fall of the
Jesuit power--properly belongs to it.

The sociological significance of this episode is instructive.
Excepting, perhaps, the division of the imperial house against itself
in the twelfth century, the greatest danger that ever threatened
Japanese national integrity was the introduction of Christianity
[304] by the Portuguese Jesuits. The nation saved itself only by
ruthless measures, at the cost of incalculable suffering and of
myriads of lives.

It was during the period of great disorder preceding Nobunaga's
effort to centralize authority, that this unfamiliar disturbing
factor was introduced by Xavier and his followers. Xavier landed at
Kagoshima in 1549; and by 1581 the Jesuits had upwards of two hundred
churches in the country. This fact alone sufficiently indicates the
rapidity with which the new religion spread; and it seemed destined
to extend over the entire empire. In 1585 a Japanese religious
embassy was received at Rome; and by that date no less than eleven
daimyo,--or "kings," as the Jesuits not inaptly termed them--had
become converted. Among these were several very powerful lords. The
new creed had made rapid way among the common people also: it was
becoming "popular," in the strict meaning of the word.

When Nobunaga rose to power, he favoured the Jesuits in many
ways--not because of any sympathy with their creed, for he never
dreamed of becoming a Christian, but because he thought that their
influence would be of service to him in his campaign against
Buddhism. Like the Jesuits themselves, Nobunaga had no scruple about
means in his pursuit of ends. More ruthless than William the
Conqueror, he did not hesitate to put to death [305] his own brother
and his own father-in-law, when they dared to oppose his will. The
aid and protection which he extended to the foreign priests, for
merely political reasons, enabled them to develop their power to a
degree which soon gave him cause for repentance. Mr. Gubbins, in his
"Review of the Introduction of Christianity into China and Japan,"
quotes from a Japanese work, called Ibuki Mogusa, an interesting
extract on the subject:--

"Nobunaga now began to regret his previous policy in permitting the
introduction of Christianity. He accordingly assembled his retainers,
and said to them:--'The conduct of these missionaries in persuading
people to join them by giving money, does not please me. How would it
be, think you, if we were to demolish Nambanji [The "Temple of the
Southern Savages"--so the Portuguese church was called]?' To this
Mayeda Tokuzenin replied. 'It is now too late to demolish the Temple
of the Namban. To endeavour to arrest the power of this religion now
is like trying to arrest the current of the ocean. Nobles, both great
and small, have become adherents of it. If you would exterminate this
religion now, there is fear that disturbance should be created among
your own retainers. I am therefore of opinion that you should abandon
your intention of destroying Nambanji.' Nobunaga in consequence
regretted exceedingly his previous action in regard to the Christian
religion, and set about thinking how he could root it out."

The assassination of Nobunaga in 1586 may have prolonged the period
of toleration. His successor [306] Hideyoshi, who judged the
influence of the foreign priests dangerous, was for the moment
occupied with the great problem of centralizing the military power,
so as to give peace to the country. But the furious intolerance of
the Jesuits in the southern provinces had already made them many
enemies, eager to avenge the cruelties of the new creed. We read in
the histories of the missions about converted daimyo burning
thousands of Buddhist temples, destroying countless works of art, and
slaughtering Buddhist priests;--and we find the Jesuit writers
praising these crusades as evidence of holy zeal. At first the
foreign faith had been only persuasive; afterwards, gathering power
under Nobunaga's encouragement, it became coercive and ferocious. A
reaction against it set in about a year after Nobunaga's death. In
1587 Hideyoshi destroyed the mission churches in Kyoto, Osaka, and
Sakai, and drove the Jesuits from the capital; and in the following
year he ordered them to assemble at the port of Hirado, and prepare
to leave the country. They felt themselves strong enough to disobey:
instead of leaving Japan, they scattered through the country, placing
themselves under the protection of various Christian daimyo.
Hideyoshi probably thought it impolitic to push matters further: the
priests kept quiet, and ceased to preach publicly; and their
self-effacement served them well until 1591. In that year the advent
of [307] certain Spanish Franciscans changed the state of affairs.
These Franciscans arrived in the train of an embassy from the
Philippines, and obtained leave to stay in the country on condition
that they were not to preach Christianity. They broke their pledge,
abandoned all prudence, and aroused the wrath of Hideyoshi. He
resolved to make an example; and in 1597 he had six Franciscans,
three Jesuits, and several other Christians taken to Nagasaki and
there crucified. The attitude of the great Taiko toward the foreign
creed had the effect of quickening the reaction against it,--a
reaction which had already begun to show itself in various provinces.
But Hideyoshi's death in 1598 enabled the Jesuits to hope for better
fortune. His successor, the cold and cautious Iyeyasu, allowed them
to hope, and even to reestablish themselves in Kyoto, Osaka, and
elsewhere. He was preparing for the great contest which was to be
decided by the battle of Sekigahara;--he knew that the Christian
element was divided,--some of its leaders being on his own side, and
some on the side of his enemies;--and the time would have been ill
chosen for any repressive policy. But in 1606, after having solidly
established his power, Iyeyasu for the first time showed himself
decidedly opposed to Christianity by issuing an edict forbidding
further mission work, and proclaiming that those who had adopted the
foreign religion must abandon it. Nevertheless the propaganda [308]
went on--conducted no longer by Jesuits only, but also by Dominicans
and Franciscans. The number of Christians then in the empire is said,
with gross exaggeration, to have been nearly two millions. But
Iyeyasu neither took, nor caused to be taken, any severe measures of
repression until 1614,--from which date the great persecution may be
said to have begun. Previously there had been local persecutions
only, conducted by independent daimyo,--not by the central
government. The local persecutions in Kyushu, for example, would seem
to have been natural consequences of the intolerance of the Jesuits
in the days of their power, when converted daimyo burned Buddhist
temples and massacred Buddhist priests; and these persecutions were
most pitiless in those very districts such as Bungo, Omura, and Higo
--where the native religion had been most fiercely persecuted at
Jesuit instigation. But from 1614--at which date there remained only
eight, out of the total sixty-four provinces of Japan, into which
Christianity had not been introduced--the suppression of the foreign
creed became a government matter; and the persecution was conducted
systematically and uninterruptedly until every outward trace of
Christianity had disappeared.

The fate of the missions, therefore, was really settled by Iyeyasu
and his immediate successors; [309] and it is the part taken by
Iyeyasu that especially demands attention. Of the three great
captains, all had, sooner or later, become suspicious of the foreign
propaganda; but only Iyeyasu could find both the time and the ability
to deal with the social problem which it had aroused. Even Hideyoshi
had been afraid to complicate existing political troubles by any
rigorous measures of an extensive character. Iyeyasu long hesitated.
The reasons for his hesitation were doubtless complex, and chiefly
diplomatic. He was the last of men to act hastily, or suffer himself
to be influenced by prejudice of any sort; and to suppose him timid
would be contrary to all that we know of his character. He must have
recognized, of course, that to extirpate a religion which could
claim, even in exaggeration, more than a million of adherents, was no
light undertaking, and would involve an immense amount of suffering.
To cause needless misery was not in his nature: he had always proved
himself humane, and a friend of the common people. But he was first
of all a statesman and patriot; and the main question for him must
have been the probable relation of the foreign creed to political and
social conditions in Japan. This question required long and patient
investigation; and he appears to have given it all possible
attention. At last he decided that Roman Christianity constituted a
grave political danger and that its extirpation would be an
unavoidable necessity. [310] The fact that the severe measures which
he and his successors enforced against Christianity--measures
steadily maintained for upwards of two hundred years--failed to
completely eradicate the creed, proves how deeply the roots had
struck. Superficially, all trace of Christianity vanished to Japanese
eyes; but in 1865 there were discovered near Nagasaki some
communities which had secretly preserved among themselves traditions
of the Roman forms of worship, and still made use of Portuguese and
Latin words relating to religious matters.

To rightly estimate the decision of Iyeyasu--one of the shrewdest,
and also one of the most humane statesmen that ever lived,--it is
necessary to consider, from a Japanese point of view, the nature of
the evidence upon which he was impelled to act. Of Jesuit intrigues
in Japan he must have had ample knowledge--several of them having
been directed against himself;--but he would have been more likely
to consider the ultimate object and probable result of such
intrigues, than the mere fact of their occurrence. Religious
intrigues were common among the Buddhists, and would scarcely attract
the notice of the military government except when they interfered
with state policy or public order. But religious intrigues having for
their object the overthrow of government, and a sectarian domination
of the country, would be gravely considered. [311] Nobunaga had
taught Buddhism a severe lesson about the danger of such intriguing.
Iyeyasu decided that the Jesuit intrigues had a political object of
the most ambitious kind; but he was more patient than Nobunaga. By
1603 he, had every district of Japan under his yoke; but he did not
issue his final edict until eleven years later. It plainly declared
that the foreign priests were plotting to get control of the
government, and to obtain possession of the country:--

"The Kirishitan band have come to Japan, not only sending their
merchant-vessels to exchange commodities, but also longing to
disseminate an evil law, to overthrow right doctrine, so that they
may change the government of the country, and obtain possession of
the land. This is the germ of great disaster, and must be

"Japan is the country of the gods and of the Buddha: it honours the
gods, and reveres the Buddha.... The faction of the Bateren*
disbelieve in the Way of the Gods, and blaspheme the true Law,
--violate right-doing, and injure the good.... They truly are the
enemies of the gods and of the Buddha.... If this be not speedily
prohibited, the safety of the state will, assuredly hereafter be
imperilled; and if those who are charged with ordering its affairs do
not put a stop to the evil, they will expose themselves to Heaven's

[*Bateren, a corruption of the Portuguese padre, is still the term
used for Roman Catholic priests, of any denomination.]

"These [missionaries] must be instantly swept out, so that not an
inch of soil remains to them in Japan on which [312] to plant their
feet; and if they refuse to obey this command, they shall suffer the
penalty.... Let Heaven and the Four Seas hear this. Obey!"*

[*The entire proclamation, which is of considerable length, has been
translated by Satow, and may be found in Vol. VI, part I, of the
Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan.]

It will be observed that there are two distinct charges made against
the Bateren in this document,--that of political conspiracy under the
guise of religion, with a view to getting possession of the
government; and that of intolerance, towards both the Shinto and the
Buddhist forms of native worship. The intolerance is sufficiently
proved by the writings of the Jesuits themselves. The charge of
conspiracy was less easy to prove; but who could reasonably have
doubted that, were opportunity offered, the Roman Catholic orders
would attempt to control the general government precisely as they had
been able to control local government already in the lordships of
converted daimyo. Besides, we may be sure that by the time at which
the edict was issued, Iyeyasu must have heard of many matters likely
to give him a most evil opinion of Roman Catholicism:--the story of
the Spanish conquests in America, and the extermination of the West
Indian races; the story of the persecutions in the Netherlands, and
of the work of the Inquisition elsewhere; the story of the attempt of
Philip II to conquer England, and of the loss of the two great [313]
Armadas. The edict was issued in 1614, and Iyeyasu had found
opportunity to inform himself about some of these matters as early as
1600. In that year the English pilot Will Adams had arrived at Japan
in charge of a Dutch ship, Adams had started on this eventful voyage
in the year 1598,--that is to say, just ten years after the defeat of
the first Spanish Armada, and one year after the ruin of the second.
He had seen the spacious times of great Elizabeth--who was yet
alive;--he had very probably seen Howard and Seymour and Drake and
Hawkins and Frobisher and Sir Richard Grenville, the hero of 1591.
For this Will Adams was a Kentish man, who had "serued for Master and
Pilott in her Majesties ships ..." The Dutch vessel was seized
immediately upon her arrival at Kyushu; and Adams and his shipmates
were taken into custody by the daimyo of Bungo, who reported the fact
to Iyeyasu. The advent of these Protestant sailors was considered an
important event by the Portuguese Jesuits, who had their own reasons
for dreading the results of an interview between such heretics and
the ruler of Japan. But Iyeyasu also happened to think the event an
important one; and he ordered that Adams should be sent to him at
Osaka. The malevolent anxiety of the Jesuits about the matter had not
escaped Iyeyasu's penetrating observation. They endeavoured again and
again to have the sailors killed, according to the [314] written
statement of Adams himself, who was certainly no liar; and they had
been able--in Bungo to frighten two scoundrels of the ship's company
into giving false testimony.* "The Iesuites and the Portingalls,"
wrote Adams, "gaue many euidences against me and the rest to the
Emperour [Iyeyasu], that we were theeues and robbers of all
nations,--and [that] were we suffered to liue,--it should be against
the profit of his Highnes, and the land." But Iyeyasu was perhaps all
the more favourably inclined towards Adams by the eagerness of the
Jesuits to have him killed--"crossed [crucified]," as Adams called
it,--"the custome of iustice in Japan, as hanging is in our land." He
gave them answer, says Adams, "that we had as yet not doen to him nor
to none of his lande any harme or dammage: therefore against Reason
and Iustice to put vs to death." ... And there came to pass precisely
what the Jesuits had most feared,--what they had vainly endeavoured
by intimidation, by slander, by all possible intrigue to prevent,--an
interview between Iyeyasu and the heretic Adams. [315] "Soe that as
soon as I came before him," wrote Adams, "he demanded of me of what
countrey we were: so I answered him in all points; for there was
nothing that he demanded not, both concerning warre and peace between
countrey and countrey: so that the particulars here to wryte would be
too tedious. And for that time I was commanded to prison, being well
vsed, with one of our mariners that cam with me to serue me." From
another letter of Adams it would seem that this interview lasted far
into the night, and that Iyeyasu's questions referred especially to
politics and religion. "He asked," says Adams, "whether our countrey
had warres? I answered him yea, with the Spaniards and
Portugals--beeing in peace with all other nations. Further he asked
me in what I did beleeue? I said, in God, that made heauen and earth.
He asked me diverse other questions of things of religion, and many
other things: As, what way we came to the country? Having a chart of
the whole world, I shewed him through the Straight of Magellan. At
which he wondred, and thought me to lie. Thus, from one thing to
another, I abode with him till midnight." ... The two men liked each
other at sight, it appears. Of Iyeyasu, Adams significantly observes:
"He viewed me well, and seemed to be wonderful favourable." Two days
later Iyeyasu again sent for Adams, and cross-questioned him just
about those matters which the [316] Jesuits wanted to remain in the
dark. "He demaunded also as conserning the warres between the
Spaniard or Portingall and our countrey, and the reasons: the which I
gaue him to vnderstand of all things, which he was glad to heare, as
it seemed to me. In the end I was commaunded to prisson agein, but my
lodging was bettered." Adams did not see Iyeyasu again for nearly six
weeks: then he was sent for, and cross-questioned a third time. The
result was liberty and favour. Thereafter, at intervals, Iyeyasu used
to send for him; and presently we hear of him teaching the great
statesman "some points of jeometry, and understanding of the art of
mathematickes, with other things." ... Iyeyasu gave him many
presents, as well as a good living, and commissioned him to build
some ships for deep-sea sailing. Eventually, the poor pilot was
created a samurai, and given an estate. "Being employed in the
Emperour's seruice," he wrote, "he hath given me a liuing, like vnto
a lordship in England, with eightie or ninetie husbandmen that be as
my slaues or seruents: the which, or the like president [precedent],
was neuer here before geven to any stranger." ... Witness to the
influence of Adams with Iyeyasu is furnished by the correspondence of
Captain Cock, of the English factory, who thus wrote home about him
in 1614: "The truth is the Emperour esteemeth hym much, and he may
goe in and speake with hym at all times, when [317] kynges and
princes are kept ovt."** It was through this influence that the
English were allowed to establish their factory at Hirado. There is
no stranger seventeenth-century romance than that of this plain
English pilot,--with only his simple honesty and common-sense to help
him,--rising to such extraordinary favour with the greatest and
shrewdest of all Japanese rulers. Adams was never allowed, however,
to return to England,--perhaps because his services were deemed too
precious to lose. He says himself in his letters that Iyeyasu never
refused him anything that he asked for,*** except the privilege of
revisiting England: when he asked that, once too often, the "ould
Emperour" remained silent.

[*"Daily more and more the Portugalls incensed the justices and the
people against vs. And two of our men, as traytors, gaue themselves
in seruice to the king [daimyo], beeing all in all with the
Portugals, hauing by them their liues warranted. The one was called
Gilbert de Conning, whose mother dwelleth at Middleborough, who gaue
himself out to be marchant of all the goods in the shippe. The other
was called Iobn Abelson Van Owater. These traitours sought all manner
of wayes to get the goods into their hands, and made known vnto them
all things that had passed in our voyage. Nine dayes after our
arriuall, the great king of the land [Iyeyasu] sent for me to come
vnto him. "--Letter of Will Adams to his wife.]

**"It has plessed God to bring things to pass, so as in ye eyes of ye
world [must seem] strange; for the Spaynnard and Portingall hath bin
my bitter enemies to death; and now theay must seek to me, an
unworthy wretch; for the Spaynard as well as the Portingall must haue
all their negosshes [negotiations] go thorough my hand.--" Letter of
Adams dated January 12, 1613.

***Even favours for the people who had sought to bring about his
death. "I pleased him so," wrote Adams, "that what I said he would
not contrarie. At which my former enemies did wonder; and at this
time must entreat me to do them a friendship, which to both Spaniards
and Portingals have I doen: recompencing them good for euill. So, to
passe my time to get my liuing, it hath cost mee great labour and
trouble at the first, but God hath blessed my labour."]

The correspondence of Adams proves that Iyeyasu disdained no means of
obtaining direct information about foreign affairs in regard to
religion and politics. As for affairs in Japan, he had at his
disposal the most perfect system of espionage ever [318] established;
and he knew all that was going on. Yet he waited, as we have seen,
fourteen years before he issued his edict. Hideyoshi's edict was,
indeed, renewed by him in 1606; but that referred particularly to the
public preaching of Christianity; and while the missionaries
outwardly conformed to the law, he continued to suffer them within
his own dominions. Persecutions were being carried on elsewhere; but
the secret propaganda was also being carried on, and the missionaries
could still hope. Yet there was menace in the air, like the heaviness
preceding storms. Captain Saris, writing from Japan in 1613, records
a pathetic incident which is very suggestive. "I gaue leaue," he
says, "to divers women of the better sort to come into my Cabbin,
where the picture of Venus, with her sonne Cupid, did hang somewhat
wantonly set out in a large frame. They, thinking it to bee Our Ladie
and her sonne, fell downe and worshipped it, with shewes of great
deuotion, telling me in a whispering manner (that some of their own
companions, which were not so, might not heare), that they were
Christianos: whereby we perceived them to be Christians, conuerted by
the Portugall Iesuits." ... When Iyeyasu first took strong measures,
they were directed, not against the Jesuits, but against a more
imprudent order,--as we know from Adams's correspondence. "In the
yeer 1612," he says, "is put downe all the sects of the
Franciscannes. The Jesouets hau [319] what priuiledge ... theare
beinge in Nangasaki, in which place only may be so manny as will of
all sectes: in other places not so many permitted...." Roman
Catholicism was given two more years' grace after the Franciscan

Why Iyeyasu should have termed it a "false and corrupt religion,"
both in his Legacy and elsewhere, remains to be considered. From the
Far-Eastern point of view he could scarcely have judged it otherwise,
after an impartial investigation. It was essentially opposed to all
the beliefs and traditions upon which Japanese society had been
founded. The Japanese State was an aggregate of religious
communities, with a God-King at its head;--the customs of all these
communities had the force of religious laws, and ethics were
identified with obedience to custom; filial piety was the basis of
social order, and loyalty itself was derived from filial piety. But
this Western creed, which taught that a husband should leave his
parents and cleave to his wife, held filial piety to be at best an
inferior virtue. It proclaimed that duty to parents, lords, and
rulers remained duty only when obedience involved no action opposed
to Roman teaching, and that the supreme duty of obedience was not to
the Heavenly Sovereign at Kyoto, but to the Pope at Rome. Had not the
Gods and the Buddhas been called devils by these missionaries from
Portugal and Spain? Assuredly such doctrines were subversive, [320]
no matter how astutely they might be interpreted by their apologists.
Besides, the worth of a creed as a social force might be judged from
its fruits. This creed in Europe had been a ceaseless cause of
disorders, wars, persecutions, atrocious cruelties. This creed, in
Japan, had fomented great disturbances, had instigated political
intrigues, had wrought almost immeasurable mischief. In the event of
future political trouble, it would justify the disobedience of
children to parents, of wives to husbands, of subjects to lords, of
lords to shogun. The paramount duty of government was now to compel
social order, and to maintain those conditions of peace and security
without which the nation could never recover from the exhaustion of a
thousand years of strife. But so long as this foreign religion was
suffered to attack and to sap the foundations of order, there never
could be peace.... Convictions like these must have been well
established in the mind of Iyeyasu when he issued his famous edict.
The only wonder is that he should have waited so long.

Very possibly Iyeyasu, who never did anything by halves, was waiting
until Christianity should find itself without one Japanese leader of
ability. In 1611 he had information of a Christian conspiracy in the
island of Sado (a convict mining-district) whose governor, Okubo, had
been induced to adopt Christianity, and was to be made ruler of the
country if [321] the plot proved successful. But still Iyeyasu
waited. By 1614 Christianity had scarcely even an Okubo to lead the
forlorn hope. The daimyo converted in the sixteenth century were dead
or dispossessed or in banishment; the great Christian generals had
been executed; the few remaining converts of importance had been
placed under surveillance, and were practically helpless.

The foreign priests and native catechists were not cruelly treated
immediately after the proclamation of 1614. Some three hundred of
them were put into ships and sent out of the country,--together with
various Japanese suspected of religious political intrigues, such as
Takayama, former daimyo of Akashi, who was called "Justo Ucondono" by
the Jesuit writers, and who had been dispossessed and degraded by
Hideyoshi for the same reasons. Iyeyasu set no example of unnecessary
severity. But harsher measures followed upon an event which took
place in 1615,--the very year after the issuing of the edict.
Hideyori, the son of Hideyoshi, had been supplanted--fortunately for
Japan--by Iyeyasu, to whose tutelage the young man had been confided.
Iyeyasu took all care of him, but had no intention of suffering him
to direct the government of the country,--a task scarcely within the
capacity of a lad of twenty-three. In spite of various political
intrigues in which Hideyori was known to have taken part, Iyeyasu had
left him in possession [322] of large revenues, and of the strongest
fortress in Japan,--that mighty castle of Osaka, which Hideyoshi's
genius had rendered almost impregnable. Hideyori, unlike his father,
favoured the Jesuits: and he made the castle a refuge for adherents
of the "false and corrupt sect." Informed by government spies of a
dangerous intrigue there preparing, Iyeyasu resolved to strike; and
he struck hard. In spite of a desperate defence, the great fortress
was stormed and burnt--Hideyori perishing in the conflagration. One
hundred thousand lives are said to have been lost in this siege.
Adams wrote thus quaintly of Hideyori's fate, and the results of his

"Hee mad warres with the Emperour ...  allso by the Jessvits and
Ffriers, which mad belleeue he should be fauord with mirrackles and
wounders; but in fyne it proued the contrari. For the ould Emperour
against him pressentlly maketh his forces reddy by sea and land, and
compasseth his castell that he was in; although with loss of
multitudes on both sides, yet in the end rasseth the castell walles,
setteth it on fyre, and burneth hym in it. Thus ended the warres. Now
the Emperour heering of thees Jessvets and friers being in the
castell with his ennemis, and still from tym to tym agaynst hym,
coumandeth all romische sorte of men to depart ovt of his
countri--thear churches pulld dooun, and burned. This folowed in the
ould Emperour's [323] daies. Now this yeear, 1616, the old Emperour
he died. His son raigneth in his place, and hee is more hot agaynste
the romish relligion then his ffather wass: for he hath forbidden
thorough all his domynions, on paine of deth, none of his subjects to
be romish christiane; which romish seckt to prevent eueri wayes that
he maye, he hath forbidden that no stranger merchant shall abid in
any of the great citties." ...

The son here referred to was Hidetada, who, in 1617, issued an
ordinance sentencing to death every Roman priest or friar discovered
in Japan,--an ordinance provoked by the fact that many priests
expelled from the country had secretly returned, and that others had
remained to carry on their propaganda under various disguises.
Meanwhile, in every city, town, village, and hamlet throughout the
empire, measures had been taken for the extirpation of Roman
Christianity. Every community was made responsible for the existence
in it of any person belonging to the foreign creed; and special
magistrates, or inquisitors, were appointed, called Kirishitan-bugyo,
to seek out and punish members of the prohibited religion.*
Christians [324] who freely recanted were not punished, but only kept
under surveillance: those who refused to recant, even after torture,
were degraded to the condition of slaves, or else put to death. In
some parts of the country, extraordinary cruelty was practised, and
every form of torture used to compel recantation. But it is tolerably
certain that the more atrocious episodes of the persecution were due
to the individual ferocity of local governors or magistrates--as in
the case of Takenaka Uneme-no-Kami, who was compelled by the
government to perform harakiri for abusing his powers at Nagasaki,
and making persecution a means of extorting money. Be that as it may,
the persecution at last either provoked, or helped to bring about a
Christian rebellion in the daimiate of Arima,--historically
remembered as the Shimabara Revolt. In 1636 a host of peasants,
driven to desperation by the tyranny of their lords--the daimyo of
Arima and the daimyo of Karatsu (convert-districts)--rose in arms,
burnt all the Japanese temples in their vicinity, and proclaimed
religious war. Their banner bore a cross; their leaders were
converted samurai. They were soon [325] joined by Christian refugees
from every part of the country, until their numbers swelled to thirty
or forty thousand. On the coast of the Shimabara peninsula they
seized an abandoned castle, at a place called Hara, and there
fortified themselves. The local authorities could not cope with the
uprising; and the rebels more than held their own until government
forces, aggregating over 160,000 men, were despatched against them.
After a brave defence of one hundred and two days, the castle was
stormed in 1638, and its defenders, together with their women and
children, put to the sword. Officially the occurrence was treated as
a peasant revolt; and the persons considered responsible for it were
severely punished;--the lord of Shimabara (Arima) was further
sentenced to perform harakiri. Japanese historians state that the
rising was first planned and led by Christians, who designed to seize
Nagasaki, subdue Kyushu, invite foreign military help, and compel a
change of government;--the Jesuit writers would have us believe there
was no plot. One thing certain is that a revolutionary appeal was
made to the Christian element, and was largely responded to with
alarming consequences. A strong castle on the Kyushu coast, held by
thirty or forty thousand Christians, constituted a serious danger,--a
point of vantage from which a Spanish invasion of the country might
have been attempted with some [326] chance of success. The government
seems to have recognized this danger, and to have despatched in
consequence an overwhelming force to Shimabara. If foreign help could
have been sent to the rebels, the result might have been a prolonged
civil war. As for the wholesale slaughter, it represented no more
than the enforcement of Japanese law: the punishment of the peasant
revolting against his lord, under any circumstances whatever, being
death. So far as concerns the policy of such massacre, it may be
remembered that, with less provocation, Nobunaga exterminated the
Tendai Buddhists at Hiyei-san. We have every reason to pity the brave
men who perished at Shimabara, and to sympathize with their revolt
against the atrocious cruelty of their rulers. But it is necessary,
as a simple matter of justice, to consider the whole event from the
Japanese political point of view.

[*It should be borne in mind that none of these edicts were directed
against Protestant Christianity: the Dutch were not considered
Christians in the sense of the ordinances, nor were the English. The
following extract from a typical village, Kumicho, or code of
communal regulations, shows the responsibility imposed upon all
communities regarding the presence in their midst of Roman Catholic
converts or believers:--

"Every year, between the first and the third month, we will renew our
Shumon-cho If we know of any person who belongs to a prohibited sect,
we will immediately inform the Daikwan.... Servants and labourers
shall give to their masters a certificate declaring that they are not
Christians. In regard to persons who have been Christians, but have
recanted,--if such persons come to or leave the village, we promise
to report it."--See Professor Wigmore's Notes on Land-Tenure and
Local Institutions in Old Japan.]

The Dutch have been denounced for helping to crush the rebellion with
ships and cannon: they fired, by their own acknowledgment, 426 shot
into the castle. However, the extant correspondence of the Dutch
factory at Hirado proves beyond question that they were forced, under
menace, to thus act. In any event, it would be difficult to discover
a good reason for the merely religious denunciations of their
conduct,--although that conduct would be open to criticism from the
humane [327] point of view. Dutchmen could not reasonably have
refused to assist the Japanese authorities in suppressing a revolt,
merely because a large proportion of the rebels happened to profess
the religion which had been burning alive as heretics the men and
women of the Netherlands. Very possibly, not a few persons of kin to
those very Dutch had suffered in the days of Alva. What would have
happened to all the English and Dutch in Japan, if the Portuguese and
Spanish clergy could have got full control of government, ought to be

With the massacre of Shimabara ends the real history of the
Portuguese and Spanish missions. After that event, Christianity was
slowly, steadily, implacably stamped out of visible existence. It had
been tolerated, or half-tolerated, for only sixty-five years: the
entire history of its propagation and destruction occupies a period
of scarcely ninety years. People of nearly every rank, from prince to
pauper, suffered for it; thousands endured tortures for its
sake--tortures so frightful that even three of those Jesuits who sent
multitudes to useless martyrdom were forced to deny their faith under
the infliction;* and tender women, sentenced to, the stake, carried
[328] their little ones with them into the fire, rather than utter
the words that would have saved both mother and child. Yet this
religion, for which thousands vainly died, had brought to Japan
nothing but evil disorders, persecutions, revolts, political
troubles, and war. Even those virtues of the people which had been
evolved at unutterable cost for the protection and conservation of
society,--their self-denial, their faith, their loyalty, their
constancy and courage,--were by this black creed distorted, diverted,
and transformed into forces directed to the destruction of that
society. Could that destruction have been accomplished, and a new
Roman Catholic empire have been founded upon the ruins, the forces of
that empire would have been used for the further extension of
priestly tyranny, the spread of the Inquisition, the perpetual Jesuit
warfare against freedom of conscience and human progress. Well may we
pity the victims of this pitiless faith, and justly admire their
useless courage: yet who can regret that their cause was lost? ...
Viewed from another standpoint than that of religious bias, and
simply judged by its results, the Jesuit effort to Christianize Japan
must be regarded as a crime against humanity, a labour of
devastation, a calamity comparable only,--by reason of the misery and
destruction which it wrought,--to an earthquake, a tidal-wave, a
volcanic eruption.

[*Francisco Cassola, Pedro Marquez, and Giuseppe Chiara.  Two of
these--probably under compulsion--married Japanese women. For their
after-history, see a paper by Satow in the Transactions of the
Asiatic Society of Japan, Vol. VI, Part I.]

[329] The policy of isolation,--of shutting off Japan from the rest
of the world,--as adopted by Hidetada and maintained by his
successors, sufficiently indicates the fear that religious intrigues
had inspired. Not only were all foreigners, excepting the Dutch
traders, expelled from the country; all half-breed children of
Portuguese or Spanish blood were also expatriated, Japanese families
being forbidden to adopt or conceal any of them, under penalties to
be visited upon all the members of the household disobeying. In 1636
two hundred and eighty-seven half-breed children were shipped to
Macao. It is possible that the capacity of half-breed children to act
as interpreters was particularly dreaded; but there can be little
doubt that, at the time when this ordinance was issued, race-hatred
had been fully aroused by religious antagonism. After the Shimabara
episode all Western foreigners, without exception, were regarded with
unconcealed distrust.* [*The Chinese traders, however, were allowed
much more liberty than the Dutch.] The Portuguese and Spanish traders
were replaced by the Dutch (the English factory having been closed
some years previously); but even in the case of these, extraordinary
precautions were taken. They were compelled to abandon their good
quarters at Hirado, and transfer their factory to Deshima,--a tiny
island only six hundred feet long, by two hundred and forty feet
wide. There they were kept under constant guard, like prisoners; they
were not [330] permitted to go among the people; no man could visit
them without permission, and no woman, except a prostitute, was
allowed to enter their reservation under any circumstances. But they
had a monopoly of the trade of the country; and Dutch patience
endured these conditions, for the profit's sake, during more than two
hundred years. Other commerce with foreign countries than that
maintained by the Dutch factory, and by the Chinese, was entirely
suppressed. For any Japanese to leave Japan was a capital offence;
and any one who might succeed in leaving the country by stealth, was
to be put to death upon his return. The purpose of this law was to
prevent Japanese, sent abroad by the Jesuits for missionary training,
from returning to Japan in the disguise of laymen. It was forbidden
also to construct ships capable of long voyages; and all ships
exceeding a dimension fixed by the government were broken up,
Lookouts were established along the coast to watch for strange
vessels; and any European ships entering a Japanese port, excepting
the ships of the Dutch company, were to be attacked and destroyed.

The great success at first achieved by the Portuguese missions
remains to be considered. In our present comparative ignorance of
Japanese social history, it is not easy to understand the whole of
the Christian episode. There are plenty of Jesuit-missionary [331]
records; but the Japanese contemporary chronicles yield us scanty
information about the missions--probably for the reason that an edict
was issued in the seventeenth century interdicting, not only all
books on the subject of Christianity, but any book containing the
words Christian or Foreign. What the Jesuit books do not explain, and
what we should rather have expected Japanese historians to explain,
had they been allowed, is how a society founded on ancestor-worship,
and apparently possessing immense capacity for resistance to outward
assault, could have been so quickly penetrated and partly dissolved
by Jesuit energy. The question of all questions that I should like to
see answered, by Japanese evidence, is this: To what extent did the
missionaries interfere with the ancestor-cult? It is an important
question. In China, the Jesuits were quick to perceive that the power
of resistance to proselytism lay in ancestor-worship; and they
shrewdly endeavoured to tolerate it, somewhat as Buddhism before them
had been obliged to do. Had the Papacy supported their policy, the
Jesuits might have changed the history of China; but other religious
orders fiercely opposed the compromise, and the chance was lost. How
far the ancestor-cult was tolerated by the Portuguese missionaries in
Japan is a matter of much sociological interest for investigation.
The supreme cult was, of course, left alone, for obvious reasons. It
is difficult to suppose that the [332] domestic cult was attacked
then as implacably as it is attacked now by Protestant and Roman
Catholic missionaries alike;--is difficult to suppose, for example,
that Converts were compelled to cast away or to destroy their
ancestral tablets. On the other hand, we are yet in doubt as to
whether many of the poorer converts--servants and other common
folk--possessed a domestic ancestor-cult. The outcast classes, among
whom many converts were made, need not be considered, of course, in
this relation. Before the matter can be fairly judged, much remains
to be learned about the religious condition of the heimin during the
sixteenth century. Anyhow, whatever methods were followed, the early
success of the missions was astonishing. Their work, owing to the
particular character of the social organization, necessarily began
from the top: the subject could change his creed only by permission
of his lord. From the outset this permission was freely granted. In
some cases the people were officially notified that they were at
liberty to adopt the new religion; in other cases, converted lords
ordered them to do so. It would seem that the foreign faith was at
first mistaken for a new kind of Buddhism; and in the extant official
grant of land at Yamaguchi to the Portuguese mission, in 1552, the
Japanese text plainly states that the grant (which appears to have
included a temple called Daidoji) was made to the strangers that they
might preach [333] the Law of Buddha "--Buppo shoryo no tame. The
original document is thus translated by Sir Ernest Satow, who
reproduced it in facsimile:--

"With respect to Daidoji in Yamaguchi Agata, Yoshiki department,
province of Suwo. This deed witnesses that I have given permission to
the priests who have come to this country from the Western regions,
in accordance with their request and desire, that they may found and
erect a monastery and house in order to develope the Law of Buddha.

"The 28th day of the 8th month of the 21st year of Tembun.

                                                 "SUWO NO SUKE.

[August Seal]"*

[*In the Latin and Portuguese translations, or rather pretended
translations of this document, there is nothing about preaching the
Law of Buddha; and there are many things added which do not exist in
the Japanese text at all. See Transactions of the Asiatic Society of
Japan (Vol. VIII, Part II) for Satow's comment on this document and
the false translation made of it.]

If this error [or deception?] could have occurred at Yamaguchi, it is
reasonable to suppose that it also occurred in other places.
Exteriorly the Roman rites resembled those of popular Buddhism: the
people would have observed but little that was unfamiliar to them in
the forms of the service, the vestments, the beads, the prostrations,
the images, the bells, and the incense. The virgins and the saints
would have been found to resemble the aureoled Boddhisattvas and
Buddhas; the angels and the demons would have been at once identified
with the Tennin [334] and the Oni. All that pleased popular
imagination in the Buddhist ceremonial could be witnessed, under
slightly different form, in those temples which had been handed over
to the Jesuits, and consecrated by them as churches or chapels. The
fathomless abyss really separating the two faiths could not have been
perceived by the common mind; but the outward resemblances were
immediately observable. There were furthermore some attractive
novelties. It appears, for example, that the Jesuits used to have
miracle-plays performed in their churches for the purpose of
attracting popular attention.... But outward attractions of whatever
sort, or outward resemblances to Buddhism, could only assist the
spread of the new religion; they could not explain the rapid progress
of the propaganda.

Coercion might partly explain it,--coercion exercised by converted
daimyo upon their subjects. Populations of provinces are known to
have followed, under strong compulsion, the religion of their
converted lords; and hundreds--perhaps thousands--of persons must
have done the same thing through mere habit of loyalty. In these
cases it is worth while to consider what sort of persuasion was used
upon the daimyo. We know that one great help to the missionary work
was found in Portuguese commerce,--especially the trade in firearms
and ammunition. In the disturbed state of the country [335] preceding
the advent to power of Hideyoshi, this trade was a powerful bribe in
religious negotiation with provincial lords. The daimyo able to use
firearms would necessarily possess some advantage over a rival lord
having no such weapons; and those lords able to monopolize the trade
could increase their power at the expense of their neighbours. Now
this trade was actually offered for the privilege of preaching; and
sometimes much more than that privilege was demanded and obtained. In
1572 the Portuguese presumed to ask for the whole town of Nagasaki,
as a gift to their church,--with power of jurisdiction over the same;
threatening, in case of refusal, to establish themselves elsewhere.
The daimyo, Omura, at first demurred, but eventually yielded; and
Nagasaki then became Christian territory, directly governed by the
Church. Very soon the fathers began to prove the character of their
creed by furious attacks upon the local religion. They set fire to
the great Buddhist temple, Jinguji, and attributed the fire to the
"wrath of God,"--after which act, by the zeal of their converts, some
eighty other temples, in or about Nagasaki, were burnt. Within
Nagasaki territory Buddhism was totally suppressed,--its priests
being persecuted and driven away. In the province of Bungo the Jesuit
persecution of Buddhism was far more violent, and conducted upon an
extensive scale. Otomo Sorin Munechika, the reigning daimyo, not
[336] only destroyed all the Buddhist temples in his dominion (to the
number, it is said, of three thousand), but had many of the Buddhist
priests put to death. For the destruction of the great temple of
Hikozan, whose priests were reported to have prayed for the tyrant's
death, he is said to have maliciously chosen the sixth day of the
fifth month (1576),--the festival of the Birthday of the Buddha!

Coercion, exercised by their lords upon a docile people trained to
implicit obedience, would explain something of the initial success of
the missions; but it would leave many other matters unexplained: the
later success of the secret propaganda, the fervour and courage of
the converts under persecution, the long-continued indifference of
the chiefs of the ancestor-cult to the progress of the hostile
faith.... When Christianity first began to spread through the Roman
empire, the ancestral religion had fallen into decay, the structure
of society had lost its original form, and there was no religious
conservatism really capable of successful resistance. But in the
Japan of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the religion of the
ancestors was very much alive; and society was only entering upon the
second period of its yet imperfect integration. The Jesuit
conversions were not made among a people already losing their ancient
faith, but in one of the most intensely religious and conservative
societies that ever existed. Christianity of any sort could not [337]
have been introduced into such a society without effecting structural
disintegrations,--disintegrations, at least, of a local character.
How far these disintegrations extended and penetrated we do not know;
and we have yet no adequate explanation of the long inertia of the
native religious instinct in the face of danger.

But there are certain historical facts which appear to throw at least
a side-light upon the subject. The early Jesuit policy in China, as
established by Ricci, had been to leave converts free to practise the
ancestral rites. So long as this policy was followed, the missions
prospered. When, in consequence of this compromise, dissensions
arose, the matter was referred to Rome. Pope Innocent X decided for
intolerance by a bull issued in 1645; and the Jesuit missions were
thereby practically ruined in China. Pope Innocent's decision was
indeed reversed the very next year by a bull of Pope Alexander VIII;
but again and again contests were raised by the religious bodies over
this question of ancestor-worship, until in 1693 Pope Clement XI
definitively prohibited converts from practising the ancestral rites
under any form whatsoever.... All the efforts of all the missions in
the Far East have ever since then failed to advance the cause of
Christianity. The sociological reason is plain.

We have seen, then, that up to the year 1645 the ancestor-cult had
been tolerated by the Jesuits [338] in China, with promising results;
and it is probable that an identical policy of tolerance was
maintained in Japan during the second half of the sixteenth century.
The Japanese missions began in 1549, and their history ends with the
Shimabara slaughter in 1638,--about seven years before the first
Papal decision against the tolerance of ancestor-worship. The Jesuit
mission-work seems to have prospered steadily, in spite of all
opposition, until it was interfered with by less cautious and more
uncompromising zealots. By a bull issued in 1585 by Gregory XIII, and
confirmed in 1600 by Clement III, the Jesuits alone were authorized
to do missionary-work in Japan; and it was not until after their
privileges had been ignored by Franciscan zeal that trouble with the
government began. We have seen that in 1593 Hideyoshi had six
Franciscans executed. Then the issue of a new Papal bull in 1608, by
Paul V, allowing Roman Catholic missionaries of all orders to work in
Japan, probably ruined the Jesuit interests. It will be remembered
that Iyeyasu suppressed the Franciscans in 1612,--a proof that their
experience with Hideyoshi had profited them little. On the whole, it
appears more than likely that both Dominicans and Franciscans
recklessly meddled with matters which the Jesuits (whom they accused
of timidity) had been wise enough to leave alone, and that this
interference hastened the inevitable ruin of the missions.

[339] We may reasonably doubt whether there were a million Christians
in Japan at the beginning of the seventeenth century: the more
probable claim of six hundred thousand can be accepted. In this era
of toleration the efforts of all the foreign missionary bodies
combined, and the yearly expenditure of immense sums in support of
their work, have enabled them to achieve barely one-fifth f the
success attributed to their Portuguese predecessors, upon a not
incredible estimate. The sixteenth-century Jesuits were indeed able
to exercise, through various lords, the most forcible sort of
coercion upon whole populations of provinces; but the modern missions
certainly enjoy advantages educational, financial, and legislative,
much outweighing the doubtful value of the power to coerce; and the
smallness of the results which they have achieved seems to require
explanation. The explanation is not difficult. Needless attacks upon
the ancestor-cult are necessarily attacks upon the constitution of
society; and Japanese society instinctively resists these assaults
upon its ethical basis. For it is an error to suppose that this
Japanese society has yet arrived even at such a condition as Roman
society presented in the second or third century of our era. Rather
it remains at a stage resembling that of a Greek or Latin society
many centuries before Christ. The introduction of railroads,
telegraphs, modern arms of precision, modern applied science of all
kinds, has not yet [340] sufficed to change the fundamental order of
things, Superficial disintegrations are rapidly proceeding; new
structures are forming; but the social condition still remains much
like that which, in southern Europe, long preceded the introduction
of Christianity.

Though every form of religion holds something of undying truth, the
evolutionist must classify religions. He must regard a monotheistic
faith as representing, in the progress of human thought, a very
considerable advance upon any polytheistic creed; monotheism
signifying the fusion and expansion of countless ghostly beliefs into
one vast concept of unseen omnipotent power. And, from the standpoint
of psychological evolution, he must of course consider pantheism as
an advance upon monotheism, and must further regard agnosticism as an
advance upon both. But the value of a creed is necessarily relative,
and the question of its worth is to be decided, not by its
adaptability to the intellectual developments of a single cultured
class, but by its larger emotional relation to the whole society of
which it embodies the moral experience. Its value to any other
society must depend upon its power of self-adaptation to the ethical
experience of that society. We may grant that Roman Catholicism was,
by sole virtue of its monotheistic conception, a stage in advance of
the primitive ancestor-worship. But it was adapted only to a form of
society at [341] which neither Chinese nor Japanese civilization had
arrived,--a form of society in which the ancient family had been
dissolved, and the religion of filial piety forgotten. Unlike that
subtler and incomparably more humane creed of India, which had
learned the secret of missionary-success a thousand years before
Loyola, the religion of the Jesuits could never have adapted itself
to the social conditions of Japan; and by the fact of this incapacity
the fate of the missions was really decided in advance. The
intolerance, the intrigues, the savage persecutions carried on,--all
the treacheries and cruelties of the Jesuits,--may simply be
considered as the manifestations of such incapacity; while the
repressive measures taken by Iyeyasu and his successors signify
sociologically no more than the national perception of supreme
danger. It was recognized that the triumph of the foreign religion
would involve the total disintegration of society, and the subjection
of the empire to foreign domination.

Neither the artist nor the sociologist, at least, can regret the
failure of the missions. Their extirpation, which enabled Japanese
society to evolve to its type-limit, preserved for modern eyes the
marvellous world of Japanese art, and the yet more marvellous world
of its traditions, beliefs, and customs. Roman Catholicism,
triumphant, would have swept all this out of existence. The natural
antagonism [342] of the artist to the missionary may be found in the
fact that the latter is always, and must be, an unsparing destroyer.
Everywhere the developments of art are associated in some sort with
religion; and by so much as the art of a people reflects their
beliefs, that art will be hateful to the enemies of those beliefs.
Japanese art, of Buddhist origin, is especially an art of religious
suggestion,--not merely as regards painting and sculpture, but
likewise as regards decoration, and almost every product of aesthetic
taste. There is something of religious feeling associated even with
the Japanese delight in trees and flowers, the charm of gardens, the
love of nature and of nature's voices,--with all the poetry of
existence, in short. Most assuredly the Jesuits and their allies
would have ended all this, every detail of it, without the slightest
qualm. Even could they have understood and felt the meaning of that
world of strange beauty,--result of a race-experience never to be
repeated or replaced,--they would not have hesitated a moment in the
work of obliteration and effacement. To-day, indeed, that wonderful
art-world is being surely and irretrievably destroyed by Western
industrialism. But industrial influence, though pitiless, is not
fanatic; and the destruction is not being carried on with such
ferocious rapidity but that the fading story of beauty can be
recorded for the future benefit of human civilization.



It was under the later Tokugawa Shogun--during the period immediately
preceding the modern regime--that Japanese civilization reached the
limit of its development. No further evolution was possible, except
through social reconstruction. The conditions of this integration
chiefly represented the reinforcement and definition of conditions
preexisting,--scarcely anything in the way of fundamental change.
More than ever before the old compulsory systems of cooperation were
strengthened; more than ever before all details of ceremonial
convention were insisted upon with merciless exactitude. In preceding
ages there had been more harshness; but at no previous period had
there been less liberty. Nevertheless, the results of this increased
restriction were not without ethical value: the time was yet far off
at which personal liberty could prove a personal advantage; and the
paternal coercion of the Tokugawa rule helped to develop and to
accentuate much of what is most attractive in the national character.
Centuries of warfare had previously allowed small opportunity for the
cultivation of the more delicate qualities of that character: the
refinements, the [344] ingenuous kindliness, the joy in life that
afterward lent so rare a charm to Japanese existence. But during two
hundred years of peace, prosperity, and national isolation, the
graceful and winning side of this human nature found chance to bloom;
and the multiform restraints of law and custom then quickened and
curiously shaped the blossoming,--as the gardener's untiring art
evolves the flowers of the chrysanthemum into a hundred forms of
fantastic beauty.... Though the general social tendency under
pressure was toward rigidity, constraint left room, in special
directions, for moral and aesthetic cultivation.

In order to understand the social condition, it will be necessary to
consider the nature of the paternal rule in its legal aspects. To
modern imagination the old Japanese laws may well seem intolerable;
but their administration was really less uncompromising than that of
our Western laws. Besides, although weighing heavily upon all
classes, from the highest to the lowest, the legal burden was
proportioned to the respective strength of the bearers; the
application of law being made less and less rigid as the social scale
descended. In theory at least, from the earliest times, the poor and
unfortunate had been considered as entitled to pity; and the duty of
showing them all possible mercy was insisted upon in the oldest
extant moral code of Japan,--the Laws of Shotoku Taishi. [345] But
the most striking example of such discrimination appears in the
Legacy of Iyeyasu, which represents the conception of justice in a
time when society had become much more developed, its institutions
more firmly fixed, and all its bonds tightened. This stern and wise
ruler, who declared that "the people are the foundation of the
Empire," commanded leniency in dealing with the humble. He ordained
that any lord, no matter what his rank, convicted of breaking laws
"to the injury of the people," should be punished by the confiscation
of his estates. Perhaps the humane spirit of the legislator is most
strongly shown in his enactments regarding crime, as, for example,
where he deals with the question of adultery--necessarily a crime of
the first magnitude in any society based on ancestor-worship. By the
50th article of the Legacy, the injured husband is confirmed in his
ancient right to kill,--but with this important provision, that
should he kill but one of the guilty parties, he must himself be held
as guilty as either of them. Should the offenders be brought up for
trial, Iyeyasu advises that, in the case of common people, particular
deliberation be given to the matter: he remarks upon the weakness of
human nature, and suggests that, among the young and simple-minded,
some momentary impulse of passion may lead to folly even when the
parties are not naturally depraved. But in the next article, [346]
No. 51, he orders that no mercy whatever be shown to men and women of
the upper classes when convicted of the same crime. "These," he
declares, "are expected to know better than to occasion disturbance
by violating existing regulations; and such persons, breaking the
laws by lewd trifling or illicit intercourse, shall at once be
punished without deliberation or consultation.* [*That is to say,
immediately put to death.] It is not the same in this case as in the
case of farmers, artizans, and traders." ... Throughout the entire
code, this tendency to tighten the bonds of law in the case of the
military classes, and to loosen them mercifully for the lower
classes, is equally visible. Iyeyasu strongly disapproved of
unnecessary punishments; and held that the frequency of punishments
was proof, not of the ill-conduct of subjects, but of the ill-conduct
of officials. The 91st article of his code puts the matter thus
plainly, even as regarded the Shogunate: "When punishments and
executions abound in the Empire, it is a proof that the military
ruler is without virtue and degenerate." He devised particular
enactments to protect the peasantry and the poor from the cruelty or
the rapacity of powerful lords. The great daimyo were strictly
forbidden, when making their obligatory journeys to Yedo, "to disturb
or harass the people at the post-houses," or suffer themselves "to be
puffed up with military pride." [347] The private, not less than the
public conduct of these great lords, was under Government
surveillance; and they were actually liable to punishment for
immorality! Concerning debauchery among them, the legislator remarked
that "even though this can hardly be pronounced insubordination," it
should be judged and punished according to the degree in which it
constitutes a bad example for the lower classes (Art. 88).* As to
veritable insubordination there was no pardon: the severity of the
law on this subject allowed of no exception or mitigation. The 53rd
section of the Legacy proves this to have been regarded as the
supreme crime: "The guilt of a vassal murdering his suzerain is in
principle the same as that of an arch-traitor to the Emperor. His
immediate companions, his relations,--all even to his most distant
connexions,--shall be cut off, hewn to atoms, root and fibre. The
guilt of a vassal only lifting his hand against his master, even
though he does not assassinate him, is the same." In strong contrast
to this grim ordinance is the spirit of all the regulations touching
the administration of law among the lower classes. Forgery,
incendiarism, and poisoning were indeed crimes justifying the penalty
of burning or crucifixion; but judges were instructed to act with as
much leniency as circumstances permitted in the case of ordinary
offences. "With regard to minute details affecting individuals of the
inferior classes," says the 73d article of the code, "learn the wide
benevolence of Koso of the Han [Chinese] dynasty." It was further
ordered that magistrates of the criminal and civil courts should be
chosen only from "a class of men who are upright and pure,
distinguished for charity and benevolence." All magistrates were kept
under close supervision, and their conduct regularly reported by
government spies.

[*Though even daimyo were liable to suffer for debauchery, Iyeyasu
did not believe in the expediency of attempting to suppress all vice
by law. There is a strangely modern ring in his remarks upon this
subject, in the 73d section of the Legacy: "Virtuous men have said,
both in poetry and in classic works, that houses of debauch, for
women of pleasure and for street-walkers, are the worm-eaten spots of
cities and towns. But these are necessary evils, and if they be
forcibly abolished, men of unrighteous principles will become like
ravelled thread, and there will be no end to daily punishments and
floggings." In many castle-towns, however, such houses were never
allowed--probably in view of the large military force, assembled in
such towns, which had to be maintained under iron discipline.]

[348] Another humane aspect of Tokugawa legislation is furnished by
its dictates in regard to the relations of the sexes. Although
concubinage was tolerated in the Samurai class, for reasons relating
to the continuance of the family-cult, Iyeyasu denounces the
indulgence of the privilege for merely selfish reasons: "Silly and
ignorant men neglect their true wives for the sake of a loved
mistress, and thus disturb the most important relation.... Men so far
sunk as this may always be known as Samurai without fidelity or
sincerity." Celibacy, condemned by public [349] opinion,--except in
the case of Buddhist priests,--was equally condemned by the code.
"One should not live alone after sixteen years of age," declares the
legislator; "all mankind recognize marriage as the first law of
nature." The childless man was obliged to adopt a son; and the 47th
article of the Legacy ordained that the family estate of a person
dying without male issue, and without having adopted a son, should be
"forfeited without any regard to his relatives or connexions." This
law, of course, was made in support of the ancestor-cult, the
continuance of which it was deemed the paramount duty of each man to
provide for; but the government regulations concerning adoption
enabled everybody to fulfil the legal requirement, without

Considering that this code which inculcated humanity, repressed moral
laxity, prohibited celibacy, and rigorously maintained the
family-cult, was drawn up in the time of the extirpation of the
Jesuit missions, the position assumed in regard to religious freedom
appears to us one of singular liberality. "High and low alike,"
proclaims the 31st article, "may follow their own inclinations with
respect to religious tenets which have obtained down to the present
time, except as regards the false and corrupt school [Roman
Catholicism]. Religious disputes have ever proved the bane and
misfortune of this Empire, and must be firmly, suppressed." ... But
the seeming liberality of this article must not be misinterpreted:
[350] the legislator who made so rigid an enactment in regard to the
religion of the family was not the man to proclaim that any Japanese
was free to abandon the faith of his race for an alien creed. One
must carefully read the entire Legacy in order to understand
Iyeyasu's real position,--which was simply this: that any man was
free to adopt any religion tolerated by the State, in addition to his
ancestor-cult. Iyeyasu was himself a member of the Jodo sect of
Buddhism, and a friend of Buddhism in general. But he was first of
all a Shintoist; and the third article of his code commands devotion
to the Kami as the first of duties:--"Keep your heart pure; and so
long as your body shall exist, be diligent in paying honour and
veneration to the Gods." That he placed the ancient cult above
Buddhism should be evident from the text of the 52d article of the
Legacy, in which he declares that no one should suffer himself to
neglect the national faith because of a belief in any other form of
religion. This text is of particular interest:

"My body, and the bodies of others, being born in the Empire of the
Gods, to accept unreservedly the teachings of other countries,--such
as Confucian, Buddhist, or Taoist doctrines,--and to apply one's
whole and undivided attention to them, would be, in short, to desert
one's own master, and transfer one's loyalty to another. Is not this
to forget the origin of one's being?"

[351] Of course the Shogun, professing to derive his authority from
the descendant of the elder gods, could not with consistency have
proclaimed the right of freedom to doubt those gods: his official
religious duty permitted of no compromise. But the interest attaching
to his opinions, as expressed in the Legacy, rests upon the fact that
the Legacy was not a public, but a strictly private document,
intended for the perusal and guidance of his successors only.
Altogether his religious position was much like that of the liberal
Japanese statesman of to-day,--respect for whatever is good in
Buddhism, qualified by the patriotic conviction that the first
religious duty is to the cult of the ancestors, the ancient creed of
the race.... Iyeyasu had preferences regarding Buddhism; but even in
this he showed no narrowness. Though he wrote in his Legacy, "Let my
posterity ever be of the honoured sect of Jodo," he greatly
reverenced the high-priest of the Tendai temple, Yeizan, who had been
one of his instructors, and obtained for him the highest court-office
possible for a Buddhist priest to obtain, as well as the headship of
the Tendai sect. Moreover the Shogun visited Yeizan to make there
official prayer for the prosperity of the country.

There is every reason to believe that within the territories of the
Shogunate proper, comprising the greater part of the Empire, the
administration of [352] ordinary criminal law was humane, and that
the infliction of punishment was made, in the case of the common
people, to depend largely upon circumstances. Needless severity was a
crime before the higher military law, which, in such cases, made no
distinctions of rank. Although the ring-leaders of a peasant-revolt,
for example, would be sentenced to death, the lord through whose
oppression the uprising was provoked, would be deprived of a part or
the whole of his estates, or degraded in rank, or perhaps even
sentenced to perform harakiri. Professor Wigmore, whose studies of
Japanese law first shed light upon the subject, has given us an
excellent review of the spirit of the ancient legal methods. He
points out that the administration of law was never made impersonal
in the modern sense; that unbending law did not, for the people at
least, exist in relation to minor offences. The Anglo-Saxon idea of
inflexible law is the idea of a justice impartial and pitiless as
fire: whoever breaks the law must suffer the consequence, just as
surely as the person who puts his hand into fire must experience
pain. But in the administration of the old Japanese law, everything
was taken into consideration: the condition of the offender, his
intelligence, his degree of education, his previous conduct, his
motives, suffering endured, provocation received, and so forth; and
final judgment was decided by moral common sense rather than by legal
enactment [353] or precedent. Friends and relatives were allowed to
make plea for the offender, and to help him in whatever honest way
they could. If a man were falsely accused, and proved innocent upon
trial, he would not only be consoled by kind words, but, would
probably receive substantial compensation; and it appears that judges
were accustomed, at the end of important trials, to reward good
conduct as well as to punish crime.* ... On the other hand,
litigation was officially discouraged. Everything possible was done
to prevent any cases from being taken into court, which could be
settled or compromised by communal arbitration; and the people were
taught to consider the court only as the last possible resort.

[*The following extracts from a sentence said to have been passed by
the famous judge, Ooka Tadasuke, at the close of a celebrated
criminal trial, are illustrative: "Musashiya Chobei and Goto
Hanshiro, these actions of yours are worthy of the highest praise: as
a remuneration I award ten silver ryo to each of you.... Tami, you,
for maintaining your brother, are to be commended: for this you are
to receive the amount of five kwammon. Ko, daughter of Chohachi, you
are obedient to your parents: in consideration of this, the sum of
five silver ryo is awarded to you."--(See Dening's Japan in Days of
Yore.) The good old custom of rewarding notable cases of filial
piety, courage, generosity, etc., though not now practised in the
courts, is still maintained by the local governments. The rewards are
small; but the public honour which they confer upon the recipient is
very great.]

The general character of the Tokugawa rule can be to some degree
inferred from the foregoing facts. It was in no sense a reign of
terror that compelled peace and encouraged industry for two hundred
and [354] fifty years. Though the national civilization was
restrained, pruned, clipped in a thousand ways, it was at the same
time cultivated, refined, and strengthened. The long peace
established throughout the Empire what had never before existed,--a
universal feeling of security. The individual was bound more than
ever by law and custom; but he was also protected: he could move
without anxiety to the length of his chains. Though coerced by his
fellows, they helped him to bear the coercion cheerfully: everybody
aided everybody else to fulfil the obligations and to support the
burdens of communal life. Conditions tended, therefore, toward the
general happiness as well as toward the general prosperity. There was
not, in those years, any struggle for existence,--not at least in our
modern meaning of the phrase. The requirements of life were easily
satisfied; every man had a master to provide for him or to protect
him; competition was repressed or discouraged; there was no need for
supreme effort of any sort,--no need for the straining of any
faculty. Moreover, there was little or nothing to strive after: for
the vast majority of the people, there were no prizes to win. Ranks
and incomes were fixed; occupations were hereditary; and the desire
to accumulate wealth must have been checked or numbed by those
regulations which limited the rich man's right to use his money as he
might please. Even a great lord--even the Shogun himself [355]
--could not do what he pleased. As for any common person,--farmer,
craftsman, or shopkeeper,--he could not build a house as he liked, or
furnish it as he liked, or procure for himself such articles of
luxury as his taste might incline him to buy. The richest heimin, who
attempted to indulge himself in any of these ways, would at once have
been forcibly reminded that he must not attempt to imitate the
habits, or to assume the privileges, of his betters. He could not
even order certain kinds of things to be made for him. The artizans
or artists who created objects of luxury, to gratify aesthetic taste,
were little disposed to accept commissions from people of low rank:
they worked for princes, or great lords, and could scarcely afford to
take the risk of displeasing their patrons. Every man's pleasures
were more or less regulated by his place in society, and to pass from
a lower into a higher rank was no easy matter. Extraordinary men were
sometimes able to do this, by attracting the favour of the great. But
many perils attended upon such distinction; and the wisest policy for
the heimin was to remain satisfied with his position, and try to find
as much happiness in life as the law allowed.

Personal ambition being thus restrained, and the cost of existence
reduced to a minimum much below our Western ideas of the necessary,
there were really established conditions highly favourable to certain
forms of culture, in despite of sumptuary [356] regulations. The
national mind was obliged to seek solace for the monotony of
existence, either in amusement or study. Tokugawa policy had left
imagination partly free in the directions of literature and art--the
cheaper art; and within those two directions repressed personality
found means to utter itself, and fancy became creative. There was a
certain amount of danger attendant upon even such intellectual
indulgences; and much was dared. Aesthetic taste, however, mostly
followed the line of least resistance. Observation concentrated
itself upon the interest of everyday life,--upon incidents which
might be watched from a window, or studied in a garden,--upon
familiar aspects of nature in various seasons,--upon trees, flowers,
birds, fishes, or reptiles,--upon insects and the ways of them,
--upon all kinds of small details, delicate trifles, amusing
curiosities. Then it was that the race-genius produced most of that
queer bric-a-brac which still forms the delight of Western
collectors. The painter, the ivory-carver, the decorator, were left
almost untroubled in their production of fairy-pictures, exquisite
grotesqueries, miracles of liliputian art in metal and enamel and
lacquer-of-gold. In all such small matters they could feel free; and
the results of that freedom are now treasured in the museums of
Europe and America. It is true that most of the arts (nearly all of
Chinese origin) were considerably developed before the Tokugawa era;
but it was then that they [357] began to assume those inexpensive
forms which placed aesthetic gratification within reach of the common
people. Sumptuary legislation or rule might yet apply to the use and
possession of costly production, but not to the enjoyment of form;
and the beautiful, whether shaped in paper or in ivory, in clay or
gold, is always a power for culture. It has been said that in a Greek
city of the fourth century before Christ, every household utensil,
even the most trifling object, was in respect of design an object of
art; and the same fact is true, though in another and a stranger way,
of all things in a Japanese home: even such articles of common use as
a bronze candlestick, a brass lamp, an iron kettle, a paper lantern,
a bamboo curtain, a wooden pillow, a wooden tray, will reveal to
educated eyes a sense of beauty and fitness entirely unknown to
Western cheap production. And it was especially during the Tokugawa
period that this sense of beauty began to inform everything in common
life. Then also was developed the art of illustration; then came into
existence those wonderful colour-prints (the most beautiful made in
any age or country) which are now so eagerly collected by wealthy
dilettanti. Literature also ceased, like art, to be the enjoyment of
the upper classes only: it developed a multitude of popular forms.
This was the age of popular fiction, of cheap books, of popular
drama, of storytelling for young and old.... We may certainly [358]
call the Tokugawa period the happiest in the long life of the nation.
The mere increase of population and of wealth would prove the fact,
irrespective of the general interest awakened in matters literary and
aesthetic. It was an age of popular enjoyment, also of general
culture and social refinement.

Customs spread downward from the top of society.  During the Tokugawa
period, various diversions or accomplishments, formerly fashionable
in upper circles only, became common property. Three of these were of
a sort indicating a high degree of refinement: poetical contests,
tea-ceremonies, and the complex art of flower-arrangement. All were
introduced into Japanese society long before the Tokugawa
regime;--the fashion of poetical competitions must be as old as
Japanese authentic history. But it was under the Tokugawa Shogunate
that such amusements and accomplishments became national. Then the
tea-ceremonies were made a feature of female education throughout the
country. Their elaborate character could be explained only by the
help of many pictures; and it requires years of training and practice
to graduate in the art of them. Yet the whole of this art, as to
detail, signifies no more than the making and serving of a cup of
tea. However, it is a real art--a most exquisite art. The actual
making of the infusion is a matter of no consequence in itself: the
supremely important matter is that the act be performed in the most
perfect, [359] most polite, most graceful, most charming manner
possible. Everything done--from the kindling of the charcoal fire to
the presentation of the tea--must be done according to rules of
supreme etiquette: rules requiring natural grace as well as great
patience to fully master. Therefore a training in the tea-ceremonies
is still held to be a training in politeness, in self-control, in
delicacy,--a discipline in deportment.... Quite as elaborate is the
art of arranging flowers. There are many different schools; but the
object of each system is simply to display sprays of leaves and
flowers in the most beautiful manner possible, and according to the
irregular graces of Nature herself. This art also requires years to
learn; and the teaching of it has a moral as well as an aesthetic

It was in this period also that etiquette was cultivated to its
uttermost,--that politeness became diffused throughout all ranks, not
merely as a fashion, but as an art. In all civilized societies of the
militant type politeness becomes a national characteristic at an
early period; and it must have been a common obligation among the
Japanese, as their archaic tongue bears witness, before the
historical epoch. Public enactments on the subject were made as early
as the seventh century by the founder of Japanese Buddhism, the
prince-regent, Shotoku Taishi. "Ministers and functionaries," he
proclaimed, [360] "should make decorous behaviour* their leading
principle; for their leading principle of the government of the
people consists in decorous behaviour. If the superiors do not behave
with decorum, the inferiors are disorderly: if inferiors are wanting
in proper behaviour, there must necessarily be offences. Therefore it
is that when lord and vassal behave with propriety, the distinctions
of rank are not confused when the people behave with propriety, the
government of the Commonwealth proceeds of itself." Something of the
same old Chinese teaching we find reechoed, a thousand years later,
in the Legacy of Iyeyasu: "The art of governing a country consists in
the manifestation of due deference on the part of a suzerain to his
vassals. Know that if you turn your back upon this, you will be
assassinated; and the Empire will be lost." We have already seen that
etiquette was rigidly enforced upon all classes by the military rule:
for at least ten centuries before Iyeyasu, the nation had been
disciplined in politeness, under the edge of the sword. But under the
Tokugawa Shogunate politeness became particularly a popular
characteristic,--a rule of conduct maintained by even the lowest
classes in their daily relations. Among the higher classes it became
the art of beauty in life. All the taste, the grace, the [361] nicety
which then informed artistic production in precious material, equally
informed every detail of speech and action. Courtesy was a moral and
aesthetic study, carried to such incomparable perfection that every
trace of the artificial disappeared. Grace and charm seemed to have
become habit,--inherent qualities of the human fibre,--and
doubtless, in the case of one sex at least, did so become.

[*Or, "ceremony": the Chinese term used signifying everything
relating to gentlemanly and upright conduct. The translation is Mr.
Aston's (see Vol. II, p, 130, of his translation of the Nihongi).]

For it has well been said that the most wonderful aesthetic products
of Japan are not its ivories, nor its bronzes, nor its porcelains,
nor its swords, nor any of its marvels in metal or lacquer--but its
women. Accepting as partly true the statement that woman everywhere
is what man has made her, we might say that this statement is more
true of the Japanese woman than of any other. Of course it required
thousands and thousands of years to make her; but the period of which
I am speaking beheld the work completed and perfected. Before this
ethical creation, criticism should hold its breath; for there is here
no single fault save the fault of a moral charm unsuited to any world
of selfishness and struggle. It is the moral artist that now commands
our praise,--the realizer of an ideal beyond Occidental reach. How
frequently has it been asserted that, as a moral being, the Japanese
woman does not seem to belong to the same race as the Japanese man!
Considering that heredity is limited by sex, there is reason in the
assertion: the Japanese woman is an ethically different [362] being
from the Japanese man. Perhaps no such type of woman will appear
again in this world for a hundred thousand years: the conditions of
industrial civilization will not admit of her existence. The type
could not have been created in any society shaped on modern lines,
nor in any society where the competitive struggle takes those unmoral
forms with which we have become too familiar. Only a society under
extraordinary regulation and regimentation,--a society in which all
self-assertion was repressed, and self-sacrifice made a universal
obligation,--a society in which personality was clipped like a hedge,
permitted to bud and bloom from within, never from without,--in
short, only a society founded upon ancestor-worship, could have
produced it. It has no more in common with the humanity of this
twentieth century of ours--perhaps very much less--than has the life
depicted upon old Greek vases. Its charm is the charm of a vanished
world--a charm strange, alluring, indescribable as the perfume of
some flower of which the species became extinct in our Occident
before the modern languages were born. Transplanted successfully it
cannot be: under a foreign sun its forms revert to something
altogether different, its colours fade, its perfume passes away. The
Japanese woman can be known only in her own country,--the Japanese
woman as prepared and perfected by the old-time education for that
strange society in which the charm [363] of her moral being,--her
delicacy, her supreme unselfishness, her child-like piety and trust,
her exquisite tactful perception of all ways and means to make
happiness about her,--can be comprehended and valued.

I have spoken only of her moral charm: it requires time for the
unaccustomed foreign eye to discern the physical charm. Beauty,
according to our Western standards, can scarcely be said to exist in
this race,--or, shall we say that it has never yet been developed?
One seeks in vain for a facial angle satisfying Western aesthetic
canons. It is seldom that one meets even with a fine example of that
physical elegance,--that manifestation of the economy of
force,--which we call grace, in the Greek meaning of the word. Yet
there is charm--great charm--both of face and form: the charm of
childhood--childhood with its every feature yet softly and vaguely
outlined (efface, as a French artist would call it),--childhood
before the limbs have fully lengthened,--slight and, dainty, with
admirable little hands and feet. The eyes at first surprise us, by
the strangeness of their lids, so unlike Aryan eyelids, and folding
upon another plan. Yet they are often very charming; and a Western
artist would not fail to appreciate the graceful terms, invented by
Japanese or Chinese art, to designate particular beauties in the
lines of the eyelids. Even if she cannot be called handsome,
according to Western [364] standards, the Japanese woman must be
confessed pretty,--pretty like a comely child; and if she be seldom
graceful in the Occidental sense, she is at least in all her ways
incomparably graceful: her every motion, gesture, or expression
being, in its own Oriental manner, a perfect thing,--an act
performed, or a look conferred, in the most easy, the most graceful,
the most modest way possible. By ancient custom, she is not permitted
to display her grace in the street: she must walk in a particular
shrinking manner, turning her feet inward as she patters along upon
her wooden sandals. But to watch her at home, where she is free to be
comely,--merely to see her performing any household duty, or waiting
upon guests, or arranging flowers, or playing with her children,--is
an education in Far Eastern aesthetics for whoever has the head and
the heart to learn.... But is she not, then, one may ask, an
artificial product,--a forced growth of Oriental civilization? I
would answer both "Yes" and "No." She is an artificial product in
only the same evolutional sense that all character is an artificial
product; and it required tens of centuries to mould her. She is not,
on the other hand, an artificial type, because she has been
particularly trained to be her true self at all times when
circumstances allow,--or, in other words, to be delightfully natural.
The old-fashioned education of her sex was directed to the
development [365] of every quality essentially feminine, and to the
suppression of the opposite quality. Kindliness, docility, sympathy,
tenderness, daintiness--these and other attributes were cultivated
into incomparable blossoming. "Be good, sweet maid, and let who will
be clever: do noble things, not dream them, all day long"--those
words of Kingsley really embody the central idea in her training. Of
course the being, formed by such training only, must be protected by
society; and by the old Japanese society she was protected.
Exceptions did not affect the rule. What I mean is that she was able
to be purely herself, within certain limits of emotional etiquette,
in all security. Her success in life was made to depend on her power
to win affection by gentleness, obedience, kindliness;--not the
affection merely of a husband, but of the husband's parents and
grandparents, and brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law,--in short of
all the members of a strange household. Thus to succeed required
angelic goodness and patience; and the Japanese woman realized at
least the ideal of a Buddhist angel. A being working only for others,
thinking only for others, happy only in making pleasure for
others,--a being incapable of unkindness, incapable of selfishness,
incapable of acting contrary to her own inherited sense of
right,--and in spite of this softness and gentleness ready, at any
moment, to lay down her life, to [366] sacrifice everything at the
call of duty: such was the character of the Japanese woman. Most
strange may seem the combination, in this child-soul, of gentleness
and force, tenderness and courage,--yet the explanation is not far to
seek. Stronger within her than wifely affection or parental affection
or even maternal affection,--stronger than any womanly emotion, was
the moral conviction born of her great faith. This religious quality
of character can be found among ourselves only within the shadow of
cloisters, where it is cultivated at the expense of all else; and the
Japanese woman has been therefore compared to a Sister of Charity.
But she had to be very much more than a Sister of
Charity,--daughter-in-law and wife and mother, and to fulfil without
reproach the multiform duties of her triple part. Rather might she be
compared to the Greek type of noble woman,--to Antigone, to Alcestis.
With the Japanese woman, as formed by the ancient training, each act
of life was an act of faith: her existence was a religion, her home a
temple, her every word and thought ordered by the law of the cult of
the dead.... This wonderful type is not extinct--though surely doomed
to disappear. A human creature so shaped for the service of gods and
men that every beat of her heart is duty, that every drop of her
blood is moral feeling, were not less out of place in the future
world of competitive selfishness, than an angel in hell.



The slow weakening of the Tokugawa Shogunate was due to causes not
unlike those which had brought about the decline of previous
regencies: the race degenerated during that long period of peace
which its rule had inaugurated; the strong builders were succeeded by
feebler and feebler men. Nevertheless the machinery of
administration, astutely devised by Iyeyasu, and further perfected by
Iyemitsu, worked so well that the enemies of the Shogunate could find
no opportunity for a successful attack until foreign aggression
unexpectedly came to their aid. The most dangerous enemies of the
government were the great clans of Satsuma and Choshu. Iyeyasu had
not ventured to weaken them beyond a certain point: the risks of the
undertaking would have been great; and, on the other hand, the
alliance of those clans was for the time being a matter of vast
political importance. He only took measures to preserve a safe
balance of power, placing between those formidable allies new
lordships in whose rulers he could put trust,--a trust based first
upon interest, secondly upon kinship. But he always felt that danger
to the Shogunate [368] might come from Satsuma and Choshu; and he
left to his successors careful instructions about the policy to be
followed in dealing with such possible enemies. He felt that his work
was not perfect,--that certain outlying blocks of the structure had
not been properly clamped to the rest. He could not do more in the
direction of consolidation, simply because the material of society
had not yet sufficiently evolved, had not yet become plastic enough,
to permit of perfect and permanent cohesion. In order to effect that,
it would have been necessary to dissolve the clans. But Iyeyasu did
all that human foresight could have safely attempted under the
circumstances; and no one was more keenly conscious than himself of
the weak points in his wonderful organization.

For more than two hundred years the Satsuma and Choshu clans, and
several others ready to league with them, submitted to the discipline
of the Tokugawa rule. But they chafed under it, and watched for a
chance to break the yoke. All the while this chance was being slowly
created for them--not by any political changes, but by the patient
toil of Japanese men of letters. Three among these--the greatest
scholars that Japan ever produced--especially prepared the way, by
their intellectual labours, for the abolition of the Shogunate. They
were Shinto scholars; and they represented the not unnatural reaction
of native conservatism against the [309] long tyranny of alien ideas
and alien beliefs,--against the literature and philosophy and
bureaucracy of China,--against the preponderant influence upon
education of the foreign religion of Buddhism. To all this they
opposed the old native literature of Japan, the ancient poetry, the
ancient cult, the early traditions and rites of Shinto. The names of
these three remarkable men were Mabuchi (1697-1769), Motowori
(1730-1801), and Hirata (1776-1843). Their efforts actually resulted
in the disestablishment of Buddhism, and in the great Shinto revival
of 1871.

The intellectual revolution made by these scholars could have been
prepared only during a long era of peace, and by men enjoying the
protection and patronage of members of the ruling class. By a strange
chance, it was the house of Tokugawa itself which first gave to
literature such encouragement and aid as made possible the labours of
the Shinto scholars. Iyeyasu had been a lover of learning; and had
devoted the later years of his life--passed in retirement at
Shidzuoka--to the collection of ancient books and manuscripts. He
bequeathed his Japanese books to his eighth son, the Prince of Owari;
and his Chinese books to another son, the Prince of Kishu. The Prince
of Owari himself composed several works upon Japanese early
literature. Other descendants of Iyeyasu, inherited the great [370]
Shogun's love of letters: one of his grandsons, Mitsukuni, the second
Prince of Mito (1622-1700), compiled, with the aid of various
scholars, the first, important history of Japan,--the Dai-Nihon-Shi,
in 240 books. Also he compiled a work of 500 volumes upon the
ceremonies and the etiquette of the Imperial Court, and set aside
from his revenues a sum equal to about 30,000 pounds per annum, to
cover the cost of publishing the splendid productions.... Under the
patronage of great lords like these--collectors of libraries--there
gradually developed a new school of men-of-letters: men who turned
away from Chinese literature to the study of the Japanese classics.
They reedited the ancient poetry and chronicles; they republished the
sacred records, with ample commentaries. They produced whole
libraries of works upon religious, historical, and philological
subjects; they made grammars and dictionaries; they wrote treatises
on the art of poetry, on popular errors, on the nature of the gods,
on government, on the manners and customs of ancient days.... The
foundations of this new scholarship were laid by two Shinto
priests,--Kada and Mabuchi.

The high patrons of learning never suspected the possible results of
those researches which they had encouraged and aided. The study of
the ancient records, the study of Japanese literature, the study of
the early political and religious conditions, [371] naturally led men
to consider the history of those foreign literary influences which
had well-nigh stifled native learning, and to consider also the
history of the foreign creed which had overwhelmed the religion of
the ancestral gods. Chinese ethics, Chinese ceremonial, and Chinese
Buddhism had reduced the ancient faith to the state of a minor
belief--almost to the state of a superstition. "The Shinto gods,"
exclaimed one of the scholars of the new school, "have become the
servants of the Buddhas!" But those Shinto gods were the ancestors of
the race,--the fathers of its emperors and princes,--and their
degradation could not but involve the degradation of the imperial
tradition. Already, indeed, the emperors had been deprived not only
of their immemorial rights and privileges, but of their revenues:
many had been deposed and banished and insulted. Just as the gods had
been admitted only as inferior personages to the Buddhist pantheon,
so their living descendants were now permitted to reign only as the
dependants of military usurpers. By sacred law the whole soil of the
empire belonged to the Heavenly Sovereign: yet there had been great
poverty at times in the imperial palace; and the revenues, allotted
for the maintenance of the Mikado, had often been insufficient to
relieve his family from want. Assuredly all this was wrong. The
Shogunate had indeed established peace and inaugurated prosperity;
but who could forget that [372] it had originated in a military
usurpation of imperial rights? Only by the restoration of the Son of
Heaven to his ancient position of power, and by the relegation of the
military chiefs to their proper state of subordination, could the
best interests of the nation be really served....

All this was thought and felt and strongly suggested; but not all of
it was openly proclaimed. To have publicly preached against the
military government as a usurpation would have been to invite
destruction. The Shinto scholars dared only so much as the politics
and the temper of their time seemed to permit,--though they closely
approached the danger-line. By the end of the eighteenth century,
however, their teaching had created a strong party in favour of the
official revival of the ancient religion, the restoration of the
Mikado to supreme power, and the repression, if not suppression, of
the military power. Yet it was not until the year 1841 that the
Shogunate took alarm, and proclaimed its disquiet by banishing from
the capital the great scholar Hirata, and forbidding him to write
anything more. Not long afterwards he died. But he had been able to
teach for forty years; he had written and published several hundred
volumes; and the school of which he was the last and greatest
theologian already exerted far-reaching influence. The restive lords
of Choshu, Satsuma, Tosa, and Hizen were watching and waiting. They
perceived [373] the worth of the new ideas to their own policy; they
encouraged the new Shintoism; they felt that a time was coming when
they could hope to shake off the domination of the Tokugawa. And
their opportunity came at last with the advent to Japan of Commodore
Perry's fleet.

The events of that time are well known, and need not here be dwelt
upon at any length. Suffice to say that after the Shogunate had been
terrified into making commercial treaties with the United States and
other powers, and practically compelled to open sundry ports to
foreign trade, great discontent arose and was fomented as much as
possible by the enemies of the military government. Meanwhile the
Shogunate had ascertained for itself the impossibility of resisting
foreign aggression: it was fairly well informed as to the strength of
Western countries. The imperial court was nowise informed; and the
Shogunate naturally dreaded to furnish the information. To
acknowledge incapacity to resist Occidental aggression would be to
invite the ruin of the Tokugawa house; to resist, on the other hand,
would be to invite the destruction of the Empire. The enemies of the
Shogunate then persuaded the imperial court to order the expulsion of
the foreigners; and this order--which, it must be remembered, was
essentially a religious order, emanating from the source of all
acknowledged authority--placed the military government in a serious
dilemma. [374] It tried to effect by diplomacy what it could not
accomplish by force; but while it was negotiating for the withdrawal
of the foreign' settlers, matters were suddenly forced to a crisis by
the Prince of Choshu, who fired upon various ships belonging to the
foreign powers. This action provoked the bombardment of Shimonoseki,
and the demand of an indemnity of three million dollars. The Shogun
Iyemochi attempted to chastise the daimyo of Choshu for this act of
hostility; but the attempt only proved the weakness of the military
government. Iyemochi died soon after this defeat; and his successor
Hitotsubashi had no chance to do anything,--for the now evident
feebleness of the Shogunate gave its enemies courage to strike a
fatal blow. Pressure was brought upon the imperial court to proclaim
the abolition of the Shogunate; and the Shogunate was abolished by
decree. Hitotsubashi submitted; and the Tokugawa regime thus came to
an end,--although its more devoted followers warred for two years
afterwards, against hopeless odds, to reestablish it. In 1867 the
entire administration was reorganized; the supreme power, both
military and civil, being restored to the Mikado. Soon afterward the
Shinto cult, officially revived in its primal simplicity, was
declared the Religion of State; and Buddhism was disendowed. Thus the
Empire was reestablished upon the ancient lines; and all that the
literary party had [375] hoped for seemed to be realized--except one

Be it here observed that the adherents of the literary party wanted
to go much further than the great founders of the new Shintoism had
dreamed of going. These later enthusiasts were not satisfied with the
abolition of the Shogunate, the restoration of imperial power, and
the revival of the ancient cult: they wanted a return of all society
to the simplicity of primitive times; they desired that all foreign
influence should be got rid of, and that the official ceremonies, the
future education, the future literature, the ethics, the laws, should
be purely Japanese. They were not even satisfied with the
disendowment of Buddhism: there was a vigorous proposal made for its
total suppression! And all this would have signified, in more ways
than one, a social retrogression towards barbarism. The great
scholars had never proposed to cast away Buddhism and all Chinese
learning; they had only insisted that the native religion and culture
should have precedence. But the new literary party desired what would
have been equivalent to the destruction of a thousand years'
experience. Happily the clansmen who had broken down the Shogunate
saw both past and future in another light. They understood that the
national existence was in peril, and that resistance to foreign
pressure would be hopeless. Satsuma had witnessed the bombardment of
Kagoshima in [376] 1863; Choshu, the bombardment of Shimonoseki in
1864. Evidently the only chance of being able to face Western power
would be through the patient study of Western science; and the
survival of the Empire depended upon the Europeanization of society.
By 1871 the daimiates were abolished; in 1873 the edicts against
Christianity were withdrawn; in 1876 the wearing of swords was
prohibited. The samurai, as a military body, were suppressed; and all
classes were declared thenceforward equal before the law. New codes
were compiled; a new army and navy organized; a new police system
established; a new system of education introduced at Government
expense; and a new constitution promised. Finally, in 1891, the first
Japanese parliament (strictly speaking) was convoked. By that time
the entire framework of society had been remodelled, so far as laws
could remodel it, upon a European pattern. The nation had fairly
entered upon its third period of integration. The clan had been
legally dissolved; the family was no longer the legal unit of
society: by the new constitution the individual had been recognized.

When we consider the history of some vast and sudden political change
in its details only,--the factors of the movement, the combinations
of immediate cause and effect, the influences of strong personality,
the conditions impelling individual action, [377]--then the
transformation is apt to appear to us the work and the triumph of a
few superior minds. We forget, perhaps, that those minds themselves
were the product of their epoch, and that every such rapid change
must represent the working of a national or race-instinct quite as
much as the operation of individual intelligence. The events of the
Meiji reconstruction strangely illustrate the action of such instinct
in the face of peril,--the readjustment of internal relations to
sudden changes of environment. The nation had found its old political
system powerless before the new conditions; and it transformed that
system. It had found its military organization incapable of defending
it; and it reconstructed that organization. It had found its
educational system useless in the presence of unforeseen necessities;
and it replaced that system,--simultaneously crippling the power of
Buddhism, which might otherwise have offered serious opposition to
the new developments required. And in that hour of greatest danger
the national instinct turned back at once to the moral experience
upon which it could best rely,--the experience embodied in its
ancient cult, the religion of unquestioning obedience. Relying upon
Shinto tradition, the people rallied about their ruler, descendant of
the ancient gods, and awaited his will with unconquerable zeal of
faith. By strict obedience to his commands the peril might be
averted,--never otherwise: this was [378] the national conviction.
And the imperial order was simply that the nation should strive by
study to make itself, as far as possible, the intellectual equal of
its enemies. How faithfully that command was obeyed,--how well the
old moral discipline of the race served it in the period of that
supreme emergency,--I need scarcely say. Japan, by right of
self-acquired strength, has entered into the circle of the modern
civilized powers,--formidable by her new military organization,
respectable through her achievements in the domain of practical
science. And the force to effect this astonishing self-improvement,
within the time of thirty years, she owes assuredly to the moral
habit derived from her ancient cult,--the religion of the ancestors.
To fairly measure the feat, we should remember that Japan was
evolutionally younger than any modern European nation, by at least
twenty-seven hundred years, when she went to school! ...

Herbert Spencer has shown that the great value to society of
ecclesiastical institutions lies in their power to give cohesion to
the mass,--to strengthen rule by enforcing obedience to custom, and
by opposing innovations likely to supply any element of
disintegration. In other words, the value of a religion, from the
sociological standpoint, lies in its conservatism. Various writers
have alleged that the [379] Japanese national religion proved itself
weak by incapacity to resist the overwhelming influence of Buddhism.
I cannot help thinking that the entire social history of Japan yields
proof to the contrary. Though Buddhism did for a long period appear
to have almost entirely absorbed Shinto, by the acknowledgment of the
Shinto scholars themselves; though Buddhist emperors reigned who
neglected or despised the cult of their ancestors; though Buddhism
directed, during ten centuries, the education of the nation, Shinto
remained all the while so very much alive that it was able not only
to dispossess its rival at last, but to save the country from foreign
domination. To assert that the Shinto revival signified no more than
a stroke of policy imagined by a group of statesmen, is to ignore all
the antecedents of the event. No such change could have been wrought
by mere decree had not the national sentiment welcomed it....
Moreover, there are three important facts to be remembered in regard
to the former Buddhist predomination: (1) Buddhism conserved the
family-cult, modifying the forms of the rite; (2) Buddhism never
really supplanted the Ujigami cults, but maintained them; (3)
Buddhism never interfered with the imperial cult. Now these three
forms of ancestor-worship,--the domestic, the communal, and the
national,--constitute all that is vital in Shinto. No single
essential of the ancient faith had ever been weakened, [380] much
less abolished, under the long pressure of Buddhism.

The Supreme Cult is not now the State Religion by request of the
chiefs of Shinto, it is not even officially classed as a
religion.  Obvious reasons of state policy decided this course.
Having fulfilled its grand task, Shinto abdicated.  But as
representing all those traditions which appeal to race-feeling,
to the sentiment of duty, to the passion of loyalty, and the love
of country, it yet remains an immense force, a power to which
appeal will not be vainly made in another hour of national peril.



In the gardens of certain Buddhist temples there are trees which have
been famous for centuries,--trees trained and clipped into
extraordinary shapes. Some have the form of dragons; others have the
form of pagodas, ships, umbrellas. Supposing that one of these trees
were abandoned to its own natural tendencies, it would eventually
lose the queer shape so long imposed upon it; but the outline would
not be altered for a considerable time, as the new leafage would at
first unfold only in the direction of least resistance: that is to
say, within limits originally established by the shears and the
pruning-knife. By sword and law the old Japanese society had been
pruned and clipped, bent and bound, just like such a tree; and after
the reconstructions of the Meiji period,--after the abolition of the
daimiates, and the suppression of the military class, it still
maintained its former shape, just as the tree would continue to do
when first abandoned by the gardener. Though delivered from the bonds
of feudal law, released from the shears of military rule, the great
bulk of the social structure preserved its ancient [382] aspect; and
the rare spectacle bewildered and delighted and deluded the Western
observer. Here indeed was Elf-land,--the strange, the beautiful, the
grotesque, the very mysterious,--totally unlike aught of strange and
attractive ever beheld elsewhere. It was not a world of the
nineteenth century after Christ, but a world of many centuries before
Christ: yet this fact--the wonder of wonders--remained unrecognized;
and it remains unrecognized by most people even to this day.

Fortunate indeed were those privileged to enter this astonishing
fairyland thirty odd years ago, before the period of superficial
change, and to observe the unfamiliar aspects of its life: the
universal urbanity, the smiling silence of crowds, the patient
deliberation of toil, the absence of misery and struggle. Even yet,
in those remoter districts where alien influence has wrought but
little change, the charm of the old existence lingers and amazes; and
the ordinary traveller can little understand what it means. That all
are polite, that nobody quarrels, that everybody smiles, that pain
and sorrow remain invisible, that the new police have nothing to do,
would seem to prove a morally superior humanity. But for the trained
sociologist it would prove something different, and suggest something
very terrible. It would prove to him that this society had been
moulded under immense coercion, and that the coercion must have been
exerted uninterruptedly [383] for thousands of years. He would
immediately perceive that ethics and custom had not yet become
dissociated, and that the conduct of each person was regulated by the
will of the rest. He would know that personality could not develop in
such a social medium,--that no individual superiority dare assert
itself, that no competition would be tolerated. He would understand
that the outward charm of this life--its softness, its smiling
silence as of dreams--signified the rule of the dead. He would
recognize that between those minds and the minds of his own epoch no
kinship of thought, no community of sentiment, no sympathy whatever
could exist,--that the separating gulf was not to be measured by
thousands of leagues, but only by thousands of years,--that the
psychological interval was hopeless as the distance from planet to
planet. Yet this knowledge probably would not--certainly should
not--blind him to the intrinsic charm of things. Not to feel the
beauty of this archaic life is to prove oneself insensible to all
beauty. Even that Greek world, for which our scholars and poets
profess such loving admiration, must have been in many ways a world
of the same kind, whose daily mental existence no modern mind could

Now that the great social tree, so wonderfully clipped and cared for
during many centuries, [384] is losing its fantastic shape, let us
try to see how much of the original design can still be traced.

Under all the outward aspects of individual activity that modern
Japan presents to the visitor's gaze, the ancient conditions really
persist to an extent that no observation could reveal. Still the
immemorial cult rules all the land. Still the family-law, the
communal law, and (though in a more irregular manner) the clan-law,
control every action of existence. I do not refer to any written law,
but only to the old unwritten religious law, with its host of
obligations deriving from ancestor-worship. It is true that many
changes--and, in the opinion of the wise, too many changes--have been
made in civil legislation; but the ancient proverb, "Government-laws
are only seven-day laws," still represents popular sentiment in
regard to hasty reforms. The old law, the law of the dead, is that by
which the millions prefer to act and think. Though ancient social
groupings have been officially abolished, re-groupings of a
corresponding sort have been formed, instinctively, throughout the
country districts. In theory the individual is free; in practice he
is scarcely more free than were his forefathers. Old penalties for
breach of custom have been abrogated; yet communal opinion is able to
compel the ancient obedience. Legal enactments can nowhere effect
immediate [385] change of sentiment and long-established
usage,--least of all among a people of such fixity of character as
the Japanese. Young persons are no more at liberty now, than were
their fathers and mothers under the Shogunate, to marry at will, to
invest their means and efforts in undertakings not sanctioned by
family approval, to consider themselves in any way enfranchised from
family authority; and it is probably better for the present that they
are not. No man is yet complete master of his activities, his time,
or his means.

Though the individual is now registered, and made directly
accountable to the law, while the household has been relieved from
its ancient responsibility for the acts of its members, still the
family practically remains the social unit, retaining its patriarchal
organization and its particular cult. Not unwisely, the modern
legislators have protected this domestic religion: to weaken its bond
at this time were to weaken the foundations of the national moral
life,--to introduce disintegrations into the most deeply seated
structures of the social organism. The new codes forbid the man who
becomes by succession the head of a house to abolish that house: he
is not permitted to suppress a cult. No legal presumptive heir to the
headship of a family can enter into another family as adopted son or
husband; nor can he abandon the paternal house to establish an
independent [386] family of his own.* Provision has been made to meet
extraordinary cases; but no individual is allowed, without good and
sufficient reason, to free himself from those traditional obligations
which the family-cult imposes. As regards adoption, the new law
maintains the spirit of the old, with fresh provision for the
conservation of the family religion,--permitting any person of legal
age to adopt a son, on the simple condition that the person adopted
shall be younger than the adopter. The new divorce-laws do not permit
the dismissal of a wife for sterility alone (and divorce for such
cause had long been condemned by Japanese sentiment); but, in view of
the facilities given for adoption, this reform does not endanger the
continuance of the cult. An interesting example of the manner in
which the law still protects ancestor-worship is furnished by the
fact that an aged and childless widow, last representative of her
family, is not permitted to remain without an heir. She must adopt a
son if she can: if she cannot, because of poverty, or for other
reasons, [387] the local authorities will provide a son for
her,--that is to say, a male heir to maintain the family-worship.
Such official interference would seem to us tyrannical: it is simply
paternal, and represents the continuance of an ancient regulation
intended to protect the bereaved against what Eastern faith still
deems the supreme misfortune,--the extinction of the home-cult.... In
other respects the later codes allow of individual liberty unknown in
previous generations. But the ordinary person would not dream of
attempting to claim a legal right opposed to common opinion. Family
and public sentiment are still more potent than law. The Japanese
newspapers frequently record tragedies resulting from the prevention
or dissolution of unions; and these tragedies afford strong proof
that most young people would prefer even suicide to the probable
consequence of a successful appeal to law against family decision.

[*That is to say, he cannot separate himself from the family in law;
but he is free to live in a separate house. The tendency to further
disintegration of the family is shown by a custom which has been
growing of late years,--especially in Tokyo: the custom of demanding,
as a condition of marriage, that the bride shall not be obliged to
live in the same house with the parents of the bridegroom. This
custom is yet confined to certain classes, and has been adversely
criticised. Many young men, on marrying, leave the parental home to
begin independent housekeeping,--though remaining legally attached
to their parents' families, of course.... It will perhaps be asked,
What becomes of the cult in such cases? The cult remains in the
parental home. When the parents die, then the ancestral tablets are
transferred to the home of the married son.]

The communal form of coercion is less apparent in the large cities;
but everywhere it endures to some extent, and in the agricultural
districts it remains supreme. Between the new conditions and the old
there is this difference, that the man who finds the yoke of his
district hard to bear can flee from it: he could not do so fifty
years ago. But he can flee from it only to enter into another state
of subordination of nearly the same kind. Full [388] advantage,
nevertheless, has been taken of this modern liberty of movement:
thousands yearly throng to the cities; other thousands travel over
the country, from province to province; working for a year or a
season in one place, then going to another, with little more to hope
for than experience of change. Emigration also has been taking place
upon an extensive scale; but for the common class of emigrants, at
least, the advantage of emigration is chiefly represented by the
chance of earning larger wages. A Japanese emigrant community abroad
organizes itself upon the home-plan;* and the individual emigrant
probably finds himself as much under communal coercion in Canada,
Hawaii, or the Philippine Islands, as he could ever have been in his
native province. Needless to say that in foreign countries such
coercion is more than compensated by the aid and protection which the
communal organization insures. But with the constantly increasing
number of restless spirits at home, and the ever widening experience
of Japanese emigrants abroad, it would seem likely that the power of
the commune for compulsory cooperation must become considerably
weakened in the near future.

[*Except as regards the communal cult, perhaps.  The domestic cult is
transplanted; emigrants who go abroad, accompanied by their families,
take the ancestral tablets with them. To what extent the communal
cult may have been established in emigrant communities, I have not
yet been able to learn. It would appear, however, that the absence of
Ujigami in certain emigrant settlements is to be accounted for solely
by the pecuniary difficulty of constructing such temples and
maintaining competent officials. In Formosa, for example, though the
domestic ancestor-cult is maintained in the homes of the Japanese
settlers, Ujigami have not yet been established. The government,
however, has erected several important Shinto temples; and I am told
that some of these will probably be converted into Ujigami when the
Japanese population has increased enough to justify the measure.]

[389] As for the tribal or clan law, it survives to the degree of
remaining almost omnipotent in administrative circles, and in all
politics. Voters, officials, legislators, do not follow principles in
our sense of the word: they follow men, and obey commands. In these
spheres of action the penalties of disobedience to orders are endless
as well as serious: by a single such offence one may array against
oneself powers that will continue their hostile operation for years
and years,--unreasoningly, implacably, blindly, with the weight and
persistence of natural forces,--of winds or tides. Any comprehension
of the history of Japanese politics during the last fifteen years is
not possible without some knowledge of clan-history. A political
leader, fully acquainted with the history of clan-parties, and their
offshoots, can accomplish marvellous things; and even foreign
residents, with long experience of Japanese life, have been able, by
pressing upon clan-interests, to exercise a very real power in
government circles. But to the ordinary foreigner, Japanese
contemporary politics must appear a chaos, a disintegration, a
hopeless flux. The truth is that most things remain, under varying
outward forms, "as all were ordered, ages since,"--though the [390]
shiftings have become more rapid, and the results less obvious, in
the haste of an era of steam and electricity.

The greatest of living Japanese statesmen, the Marquis Ito, long ago
perceived that the tendency of political life to agglomerations, to
clan-groupings, presented the most serious obstacle to the successful
working of constitutional government. He understood that this
tendency could be opposed only by considerations weightier than
clan-interests, considerations worthy of supreme sacrifice. He
therefore formed a party of which every member was pledged to pass
over clan-interests, clique-interests, personal and every other kind
of interests, for the sake of national interests. Brought into
collision with a hostile cabinet in 1903, this party achieved the
feat of controlling its animosities even to the extent of maintaining
its foes in power; but large fragments broke off in the process. So
profoundly is the grouping-tendency, the clan-sentiment, identified
with national character, that the ultimate success of Marquis Ito's
policy must still be considered doubtful. Only a national danger--the
danger of war,--has yet been able to weld all parties together, to
make all wills work as one.

Not only politics, but nearly all phases of modern life, yield
evidence that the disintegration of the old society has been
superficial rather than fundamental. Structures dissolved have
recrystallized, taking forms [391] dissimilar in aspect to the
original forms, but inwardly built upon the same plan. For the
dissolutions really effected represented only a separation of masses,
not a breaking up of substance into independent units; and these
masses, again cohering, continue to act only as masses. Independence
of personal action, in the Western sense, is still almost
inconceivable. The individual of every class above the lowest must
continue to be at once coercer and coerced. Like an atom within a
solid body, he can vibrate; but the orbit of his vibration is fixed.
He must act and be acted upon in ways differing little from those of
ancient time.

As for being acted upon, the average man is under three kinds of
pressure: pressure from above, exemplified in the will of his
superiors; pressure about him, represented by the common will of his
fellows and equals; pressure from below, represented by the general
sentiment of his inferiors. And this last sort of coercion is not the
least formidable.

Individual resistance to the first kind of pressure--that represented
by authority--is not even to be thought of; because the superior
represents a clan, a class, an exceedingly multiple power of some
description; and no solitary individual, in the present order of
things, can strive against a combination. To resist injustice he must
find ample support, in [392] which case his resistance does not
represent individual action.

Resistance to the second kind of pressure--communal coercion
--signifies ruin, loss of the right to form a part of the social

Resistance to the third sort of pressure, embodied in the common
sentiment of inferiors, may result in almost anything,--from
momentary annoyance to sudden death,--according to circumstances.

In all forms of society these three kinds of pressure are exerted to
some degree; but in Japanese society, owing to inherited tendency,
and traditional sentiment, their power is tremendous.

Thus, in every direction, the individual finds himself confronted by
the despotism of collective opinion: it is impossible for him to act
with safety except as one unit of a combination. The first kind of
pressure deprives him of moral freedom, exacting unlimited obedience
to orders; the second kind of pressure denies him the right to use
his best faculties in the best way for his own advantage (that is to
say, denies him the right of free competition); the third kind of
pressure compels him, in directing the actions of others, to follow
tradition, to forbear innovations, to avoid making any changes,
however beneficial, which do not find willing acceptance on the part
of his inferiors.

These are the social conditions which, under [393] normal
circumstances, make for stability, for conservation; and they
represent the will of the dead. They are inevitable to a militant
state; they make the strength of that state; they render facile the
creation and maintenance of formidable armies. But they are not
conditions favourable to success in the future international
competition,--in the industrial struggle for existence against
societies incomparably more plastic, and of higher mental energy.




For even a vague understanding of modern Japan, it will be necessary
to consider the effect of the three forms of social coercion,
mentioned in the preceding chapter, as restraints upon individual
energy and capacity. All three represent survivals of the ancient
religious responsibility. I shall treat of them in order inverse,
beginning with the under-pressure.

It has often been asserted by foreign observers that the real power
in Japan is exercised not from above, but from below. There is some
truth in this assertion, but not all the truth: the conditions are
much too complex to be covered by any general statement. What cannot
be gainsaid is that superior authority has always been more or less
restrained by tendencies to resistance from below.... At no time in
Japanese history, for example, do the peasants appear to have been
left without recourse against excessive oppression,--notwithstanding
all the humiliating regulations imposed on their existence. They were
suffered to frame their own village-laws, to estimate the possible
amount of [396] their tax-payments,--and to make protest--through
official channels--against unmerciful exaction. They were made to pay
as much as they could; but they were not reduced to bankruptcy or
starvation; and their holdings were mostly secured to them by laws
forbidding the sale or alienation of family property. Such was at
least the general rule. There were, however, wicked daimyo, who
treated their farmers with extreme cruelty, and found ways to prevent
complaints or protests from reaching the higher authorities. The
almost invariable result of such tyranny was revolt; and the tyrant
was then made responsible for the disorder, and punished. Though
denied in theory, the right of the peasant to rebel against
oppression was respected in practice; the revolt was punished, but
the oppressor was likewise punished. Daimyo were obliged to reckon
with their farmers in regard to any fresh imposition of taxes or
forced labour. We also find that although heimin were made subject to
the military class, it was possible for artizans and commercial folk
to form, in the great cities, strong associations by which military
tyranny was kept in check. Everywhere the reverential deference of
the common people to authority, as exercised in usual directions,
seems to have been accompanied by an extraordinary readiness to defy
authority exercised in other directions.

It may seem strange that a society in which religion [397] and
government, ethics and custom, were practically identical, should
furnish striking examples of resistance to authority. But the
religious fact itself supplies the explanation. From the earliest
period there was firmly established, in the popular mind, the
conviction that implicit obedience to authority was the universal
duty under all ordinary circumstances. But with this conviction there
was united another,--that resistance to authority (excepting the
sacred authority of the Supreme Ruler) was equally a duty under
extraordinary circumstances. And these seemingly opposed convictions
were not really inconsistent. So long as rule followed precedent,--so
long as its commands, however harsh, did not conflict with sentiment
and tradition,--that rule was regarded as religious, and there was
absolute submission. But when rulers presumed to break with ethical
usage,--in a spirit of reckless cruelty or greed,--then the people
might feel it a religious obligation to resist with all the zeal of
voluntary martyrdom. The danger-line for every form of local tyranny
was departure from precedent. Even the conduct of regents and princes
was much restrained by the common opinion of their retainers, and by
the knowledge that certain kinds of arbitrary conduct were likely to
provoke assassination.

Deference to the sentiment of vassals and retainers was from ancient
time a necessary policy with Japanese rulers,--not merely because of
the peril involved [398] by needless oppression, but much more
because of the recognition that duties are well performed only when
subordinates feel assured that their efforts will be fairly
considered, and that sudden needless changes will not be made to
their disadvantage. This old policy still characterizes Japanese
administration; and the deference of high authority to collective
opinion astonishes and puzzles the foreign observer. He perceives
only that the conservative power of sentiment, as exercised by groups
of subordinates, remains successfully opposed to those conditions of
discipline which we think indispensable to social progress. Just as
in Old Japan the ruler of a district was held, responsible for the
behaviour of his subjects, so to-day, in New Japan, every official in
charge of a department is held responsible for the smooth working of
its routine. But this does not mean that he is responsible only for
the efficiency of a service: it means that he is held responsible
likewise for failure to satisfy the wishes of his subordinates, or at
least the majority of his subordinates. If this majority be
displeased with their minister, governor, president, manager, chief,
or director, the fact is considered proof of administrative
incompetency.... Perhaps educational circles afford the most curious
examples of this old idea of responsibility. A student-revolt is
commonly supposed to mean, not that the students are intractable, but
that the superintendent or teacher does not know [399] his business.
Thus the principal of a college, the director of a school, holds his
office only on the condition that his rule gives satisfaction to a
majority of the students. In the higher government institutions, each
professor or lecturer is made responsible for the success of his
lectures. No matter how great may be his ability in other directions,
the official instructor, unable to make himself liked by his pupils,
will be got rid of in short order--unless some powerful protectors
interfere on his behalf. The efforts of the man will never be judged
(officially) by any accepted standard of excellence,--never estimated
by their intrinsic worth; they will be considered only according to
their direct effect upon the average of minds.* Almost everywhere
this antique system of responsibility is maintained. A minister of
state is by public sentiment made responsible not only for the
results of his administration, but likewise for any scandals or
troubles that may occur in his department, independently of the
question whether he could or could not have prevented them. To a
considerable degree, therefore, it is true that the ultimate [400]
power is below. The highest official is not able with impunity to
impose his personal will in certain directions; and, for the time
being, it is probably better that his powers are thus restrained.

[*Unjust as this policy must appear to the Western reader (a policy
which certainly presupposes ethical conditions very different from
our own), it was probably at one time the best possible under the new
order. Considering the extraordinary changes suddenly made in the
educational system, it will be obvious that a teacher's immediate
value was likely---twenty years ago--to depend on his ability to make
his teaching attractive. If he attempted to teach either above or
below the average capacity of his pupils, or if he made his
instruction unpalatable to minds greedy for new knowledge, but
innocent as to method, his inexperience could be corrected by the
will of his class.]

From above downwards through all the grades of society, the same
system of responsibility, and the same restraints upon individual
exercise of will, persist under varying forms. The conditions within
the household differ but little in this regard from the conditions in
a government department: no householder, for example, can impose his
will, beyond certain fixed limits, even upon his own servants or
dependents. Neither for love nor money can a good servant be induced
to break with traditional custom; and the old opinion, that the value
of a servant is proved by such inflexibility, has been justified by
the experience of centuries. Popular sentiment remains conservative;
and the apparent zeal for superficial innovation affords no
indication of the real order of existence. Fashions and formalities,
house-interiors and street-vistas, habits and methods, and all the
outer aspects of life are changed; but the old regimentation of
society persists under all these surface-shiftings; and the national
character remains little affected by all the transformations of

The second kind of coercion to which the individual is subjected
--the communal, or communistic--[401] seems likely to prove
mischievous in the near future, as it signifies practical suppression
of the right to compete.... The everyday life of any Japanese city
offers numberless suggestions of the manner in which the masses
continue to think and to act by groups. But no more familiar and
forcible illustration of the fact can be cited than that which is
furnished by the code of the kurumaya or jinrikisha-men. According to
its terms, one runner must not attempt to pass by another going in
the same direction. Exceptions have been made, grudgingly, in favour
of runners in private employ,--men selected for strength and speed,
who are expected to use their physical powers to the utmost. But
among the tens of thousands of public kurumaya, it is the rule that a
young and active man must not pass by an old and feeble man, nor even
by a needlessly slow and lazy man. To take advantage of one's own
superior energy, so as to force competition, is an offence against
the calling, and certain to be resented. You engage a good runner,
whom you order to make all speed: he springs away splendidly, and
keeps up the pace until he happens to overtake some weak or lazy
puller, who seems to be moving as slowly as the gait permits.
Therewith, instead of bounding by, your man drops immediately behind
the slow-going vehicle, and slackens his pace almost to a walk. For
half an hour, or more, you may be thus delayed by the regulation
which obliges the strong and [402] swift to wait for the weak and
slow. An angry appeal is made to the runner who dares to pass
another; and the idea behind the words might be thus expressed:--"You
know that you are breaking the rule,--that you are acting to the
disadvantage of your comrades! This is a hard calling; and our lives
would be made harder than they are, if there were no rules to prevent
selfish competition!" Of course there is no thought of the
consequences of such rules to business interests at large.... Now it
is not unjust to say that this moral code of the kurumaya exemplifies
an unwritten law which has been always imposed, in varying forms,
upon every class of workers in Japan: "You must not try, without
special authorization, to pass your fellows." ... La carriere est
ouverte aux talents--mais la concurrence est defendue!

Of course the modern communal restraint upon free competition
represents the survival and extension of that altruistic spirit which
ruled the ancient society,--not the mere continuance of any fixed
custom. In feudal times there were no kurumaya; but all craftsmen and
all labourers formed guilds or companies; and the discipline
maintained by those guilds or companies prohibited competition as
undertaken for merely personal advantage. Similar or nearly similar
forms of organization are maintained by artizans and labourers
to-day; and the relation [403] of any outside employer to skilled
labour is regulated, by the guild or company, in the old communistic
manner.... Let us suppose, for instance, that you wish to have a good
house built. For that undertaking, you will have to deal with a very
intelligent class of skilled labour; for the Japanese house-carpenter
may be ranked with the artist almost as much as with the artizan. You
may apply to a building-company; but, as a general rule, you will do
better by applying to a master-carpenter, who combines in himself the
functions of architect, contractor, and builder. In any event you
cannot select and hire workmen: guild-regulations forbid. You can
only make your contract; and the master-carpenter, when his plans
have been approved, will undertake all the rest,--purchase and
transport of material,--hire of carpenters, plasterers, tilers,
mat-makers, screen-fitters, brass-workers, stone-cutters, locksmiths,
and glaziers. For each master-carpenter represents much more than his
own craft-guild: he has his clients in every trade related to
house-building and house-furnishing; and you must not dream of trying
to interfere with his claims and privileges. He builds your house
according to contract; but that is only the beginning of the
relation. You have really made with him an agreement which you must
not break, without good and sufficient reason, for the rest of your
life. Whatever afterwards may happen to any part [404] of your
house,--walls, floor, ceiling, roof, foundation,--you must arrange
for repairs with him, never with anybody else. Should the roof leak,
for instance, you must not send for the nearest tiler or tinsmith; if
the plaster cracks, you must not send for a plasterer. The man who
built your house holds himself responsible for its condition; and he
is jealous of that responsibility: none but he has the right to send
for the plasterer, the roofer, the tinsmith. If you interfere with
that right, you may have some unpleasant surprises. If you make
appeal to the law against that right, you will find that you can get
no carpenter, tiler, or plasterer to work for you at any terms.
Compromise is always possible; but the guilds will resent a needless
appeal to the law. And after all, these craft-guilds are usually
faithful performers, and well worth conciliating.

Or take the occupation of landscape-gardening.  You want a pretty
garden; and you hire a professional gardener who comes to you well
recommended. He makes the garden; and you pay his price. But your
gardener really represents a company; and by engaging him it is
understood that either he, or some other member of the gardeners'
corporation to which he belongs, will continue to take care of your
garden as long as you own it. At each season he will pay your garden
a visit, and put everything to rights--he will clip the hedges, prune
the fruit trees, [405] repair the fences, train the climbing-plants,
look after the flowers,--putting up paper awnings to protect delicate
shrubs from the sun during the hot season, or making little tents of
straw to shelter them in time of frost;--he will do a hundred useful
and ingenious things for a very small remuneration. You cannot
dismiss him, however, without good reason, and hire another gardener
to take his place. No other gardener would serve you at any price,
unless assured that the original relation had been dissolved by
mutual consent. If you have just cause for complaint, the matter can
be settled through arbitration; and the guild will see that you have
no further trouble. But you cannot dismiss your gardener without
cause, merely to engage another.

The above examples will suffice to show the character of the old
communistic organization which is yet maintained in a hundred forms.
This communism suppressed competition, except as between groups; but
it insured good work, and secured easy conditions for the workman. It
was the best system possible in those ages of isolation when there
was no such thing as want, and when the population, for yet
undetermined causes, appears to have remained always below the
numerical level at which serious pressure begins.... Another
interesting survival is represented by existing conditions of
apprenticeship [406] and service,--conditions which also originated
in the patriarchal organization, and imposed other kinds of restraint
upon competition. Under the old regime service was, for the most
part, unsalaried. Boys taken into a commercial house to learn the
business, or apprentices bound to a master-workman, were boarded,
lodged, clothed, and even educated by their patron, with whom they
might hope to pass the rest of their lives. But they were not paid
wages until they had learned the business or the trade of their
employer, and were fully capable of managing a business or a workshop
of their own. To a considerable degree these conditions still prevail
in commercial centres,--though the merchant or patron seldom now
finds it necessary to send his clerk or apprentice to school. Many of
the great commercial houses pay salaries only to men of great
experience: other employes are only trained and cared for until their
term of service ends, when the most clever among them will be
reengaged as experts, and the others helped to start in business for
themselves. In like manner the apprentice to a trade, when his term
expires, may be reengaged by his master as a hired journeyman, or
helped to find permanent employ elsewhere. These paternal and filial
relations between employer and employed have helped to make life
pleasant and labour cheerful; and the quality of all industrial
production must suffer much when they disappear.

[407] Even in private domestic service the patriarchal system still
prevails to a degree that is little imagined; and this subject
deserves more than a passing mention. I refer especially to female
service. The maid-servant, according to the old custom, is not
primarily responsible to her employers, but to her own family; and
the terms of her service must be arranged with her family, who pledge
themselves for their daughter's good behaviour. As a general rule, a
nice girl does not seek domestic service for the sake of the wages
(which it is now the custom to pay), nor for the sake of a living,
but chiefly to prepare herself for marriage; and this preparation is
desired as much in the hope of doing credit to her own family, as in
the hope of better fitting herself for membership in the family of
her future husband. The best servants are country girls; and they are
sometimes put out to service very young. Parents are careful about
choosing the family into which their daughter thus enters: they
particularly desire that the house be one in which a girl can learn
nice ways,--therefore a house in which things are ordered according
to the old etiquette. A good girl expects to be treated rather as a
helper than as a hireling,--to be kindly considered, and trusted, and
liked. In an old-fashioned household the maid is indeed so treated;
and the relation is not a brief one--from three to five years being
the term of service usually agreed upon. But when a girl is [408]
taken into service at the age of eleven or twelve, she will probably
remain for eight or ten years. Besides wages, she is entitled to
receive from her employers the gift of a dress, twice every year,
besides other necessary articles of clothing; and she is entitled
also to a certain number of holidays. Such wages, or presents in
money, as she receives, should enable her to provide herself, by
degrees, with a good wardrobe. Except in the event of some
extraordinary misfortune, her parents will make no claim upon her
wages; but she remains subject to them; and when she is called home
to be married, she must go. During the period of her service, the
services of her family are also at the disposal of her employers.
Even if the mistress or master desire no recognition of the interest
taken in the girl, some recognition will certainly be made. If the
servant be a farmer's daughter, it is probable that gifts of
vegetables, fruits, or fruit trees, garden-plants or other country
products, will be sent to the house at intervals fixed by custom;--if
the parents belong to the artizan-class, it is likely that some
creditable example of handicraft will be presented as a token of
gratitude. The gratitude of the parents is not for the wages or the
dresses given to their daughter, but for the practical education she
receives, and for the moral and material care taken of her, as a
temporarily adopted child of the house. The employers may reciprocate
such attentions [409] on the part of the parents by contributing to
the girl's wedding outfit. The relation, it will be observed, is
entirely between families, not between individuals; and it is a
permanent relation. Such a relation, in feudal ages, might continue
through many generations.

The patriarchal conditions which these survivals exemplify helped to
make existence easy and happy. Only from a modern point of view is it
possible to criticise them. The worst that can be said about them is
that their moral value was chiefly conservative, and that they tended
to repress effort in new directions. But where they still endure,
Japanese life keeps something of its ancient charm; and where they
have disappeared, that charm has vanished forever.

There remains to be considered a third form of restraint,--that
exercised upon the individual by official authority. This also
presents us with various survivals, which have their bright as well
as their dark aspects.

We have seen that the individual has been legally freed from most of
the obligations imposed by the ancient law. He is no longer obliged
to follow a particular occupation; he is able to travel; he is at
liberty to marry into a higher or a lower class than his own; he is
not even forbidden to change his religion; he can do a great many
things--at his own [410] risk. But where the law leaves him free, the
family and the community do not; and the persistence of old sentiment
and custom nullifies many of the rights legally conferred. Precisely
in the same way, his relations to higher authority are still
controlled by traditions which maintain, in despite of constitutional
law, many of the ancient restraints, and not a little of the ancient
coercion. In theory any man of great talent and energy may rise, from
rank to rank, up to the highest positions. But as private life is
still controlled to no small degree by the old communism, so public
life is yet controlled by survivals of class or clan despotism. The
chances for ability to rise without assistance, to win its way to
rank and power, are extraordinarily small; since to contend alone
against an opposition that thinks by groups, and acts by masses, must
be almost hopeless. Only commercial or industrial life now offers
really fair opportunities to capable men. The few talented persons of
humble origin who do succeed in official directions owe their success
chiefly to party-help or clan-patronage: in order to force any
recognition of personal ability, group must be opposed to group.
Alone, no man is likely to accomplish anything by mere force of
competition, outside of trade or commerce.... It is true, of course,
that individual talent must in every country encounter many forms of
opposition. It is likewise true that the malevolence of envy and the
brutalities of class-prejudice [411] have their sociological worth:
they help to make it impossible for any but the most gifted to win
and to keep success. But in Japan the peculiar constitution of
society lends excessive power to social intrigues directed against
obscure ability, and makes them highly injurious to the interests of
the nation;--for at no previous time in her history has Japan needed,
so much as now, the best capacities of her best men, irrespective of
class or condition.

But all this was inevitable in the period of reconstruction. More
significant is the fact that in no single department of its
multitudinous service does the Government yet offer substantial
reward to rising merit. No matter how well a man may strive to win
Government approbation, he must strive for little more than honour
and the bare means of existence. The costliest efforts are no more
highly paid in proportion to their worth than the cheapest; the most
invaluable services are scarcely better recognized than those most
easily dispensed with or replaced. (There have been some remarkable
exceptions: I am stating only the general rule.) By extraordinary
energy, patience, and cleverness, one may reach, with class-help,
some position which in Europe would assure comfort as well as honour;
but the emoluments of such a position in Japan will scarcely cover
the actual cost of living. Whether in the army or in the navy, in the
departments of justice, of education, of communications, or of [412]
home affairs,--the differences in remuneration nowhere represent the
differences in capacity and responsibility. To rise from grade to
grade signifies pecuniarily almost nothing,--for the expenses of each
higher position augment out of all proportion to the salaries fixed
by law. The general rule has been to exact everywhere the greatest
possible amount of service for the least possible amount of pay.* Any
one unacquainted with the social history [413] of the country might
suppose that the policy of the Government toward its employes
consisted in substituting empty honours for material advantages. But
the truth is that the Government has simply maintained, under modern
forms, the ancient feudal condition of service,--service in exchange
for the means of simple but honourable living. In feudal times the
farmer was expected to pay all that he could pay for the right to
exist; the artist or artizan was expected to content himself with the
good fortune of having a distinguished patron; even the ordinary
samurai were supplied with barely more than the necessary by their
liege-lords. To receive considerably more than the necessary
signified extraordinary favour; and the gift was usually accompanied
by promotion. But although the same policy is yet successfully
maintained by Government, under the modern system of money-payments,
the conditions everywhere, outside of commercial life, are
incomparably harder than in feudal times. Then the poorest samurai
was secured against want, and not liable to be dismissed from his
post without fault. Then the teacher received no salary; but the
respect of the community and the gratitude of his pupils assured him
of the means to live [414] respectably. Then the artizans were
patronized by great lords who vied with each other in the
encouragement of humble genius. They might expect the genius to be
satisfied with merely nominal payment, so far as money was concerned;
but they secured him against want or discomfort, allowed him ample
leisure to perfect his work, made him happy in the certainty that his
best would be prized and praised. But now that the cost of living has
tripled or quadrupled, even the artist and the artizan have small
encouragement to do their best: cheap rapid work is replacing the
beautiful leisurely work of the old days; and the best traditions of
the crafts are doomed to perish. It cannot even be said that the
state of the agricultural classes to-day is happier or better than in
the time when a farmer's land could not legally be taken from him.
And as the cost of life continues always to increase, it is evident
that at no distant time, the present patient order of things will
become impossible.

[*Salaries of judges range from 70 pounds to 500 pounds per
annum,--the latter figure representing the highest possible
emolument. The highest salary allowed to a Japanese professor in the
imperial universities has been fixed at 120 pounds. The wages of
employees in the postal departments is barely sufficient to meet the
cost of living. The police are paid from 1 pound to 1 pound 10s. per
month, according to locality; and the average pay of school-teachers
is yet lower (being 9 yen 50 sen, or about 19s. per month),--many
receiving less than 7s. a month.

Readers may be interested in the following table of army-payments

                           MONTHLY PAY   ALLOWANCE FOR    TOTAL
                               yen             yen         yen

General                  500 (50 pounds)      25:00      525:00
Lieutenant-General            333             18:75      351:75
Major-General                 263             12:50      275:50
Colonel                       179             10:00      189:00
Lieutenant-Colonel            146              8:75      154:75
Major                         102              7:50      109:50
Captain (1st grade)            70              4:75       74:75
        (2nd grade)            60              4:75       64:75
Lieutenant (1st grade)         45              4:00       49:00
           (2nd grade)         34              4:00       38:00
Second Lieutenant              30              3:50       33:50

When these rates of pay were fixed, about twenty years ago,
house-rent was cheap: a good house could be rented anywhere at 3 Yen
or 4 Yen per month. To-day in Tokyo an officer can scarcely rent even
a very small house at less than 19 yen or 20 yen; and prices of
food-stuffs have tripled. Yet there have been very few complaints.
Officers whose pay will not allow them to rent houses hire rooms
wherever they can. Many suffer hardship; but all are proud of the
privilege of serving, and no one dreams of resigning.]

To many it would seem that a wise government must recognize the
impracticability of indefinitely maintaining its present demand for
self-sacrifice, must perceive the necessity of encouraging talent,
inviting fair competition, and making the prizes of life large enough
to stimulate healthy egoism. But it is possible that the Government
has been acting more wisely than outward appearances would indicate.
Several years ago a Japanese official made in [415] my presence this
curious observation: "Our Government does not wish to encourage
competition beyond the necessary. The people are not prepared for it;
and if it were strongly encouraged, the worst side of character would
came to the surface." How far this statement really expressed any
policy I do not know. But every one is aware that free competition
can be made as cruel and as pitiless as war,--though we are apt to
forget what experience must have been undergone before Occidental
free competition could become as comparatively merciful, as it is.
Among a people trained for centuries to regard all selfish
competition as criminal, and all profit-seeking despicable, any
sudden stimulation of effort for purely personal advantage might well
be impolitic. Evidence as to how little the nation was prepared,
twelve or thirteen years ago, for Western forms of free government,
has been furnished by the history of the earlier district-elections
and of the first parliamentary sessions. There was really no personal
enmity in those furious election-contests, which cost so many lives;
there was scarcely any personal antagonism in those parliamentary
debates of which the violence astonished strangers. The political
struggles were not really between individuals, but between
clan-interests, or party-interests; and the devoted followers of each
clan or party understood the new politics only as a new kind of
war,--a war of loyalty to be fought for the leader's sake, [416]--a
war not to be interfered with by any abstract notions of right or
justice. Suppose that a people have been always accustomed to think
of loyalty in relation to persons rather than to principles,--loyalty
as involving the duty of self-sacrifice regardless of
consequence,--it is obvious that the first experiments of such a
people with parliamentary government will not reveal any
comprehension of fair play in the Western sense. Eventually that
comprehension may come; but it will not come quickly. And if you can
persuade such a people that in other matters every man has a right to
act according to his own convictions, and for his own advantage,
independently of any group to which he may belong, the immediate
result will not be fortunate,--because the sense of individual moral
responsibility has not yet been sufficiently cultivated outside of
the group-relation.

The probable truth is that the strength of the government up to the
present time has been chiefly due to the conservation of ancient
methods, and to the survival of the ancient spirit of reverential
submission. Later on, no doubt, great changes will have to be made;
meanwhile, much must be bravely endured. Perhaps the future history
of modern civilization will hold record of nothing more touching than
the patient heroism of those myriads of Japanese patriots, content to
accept, under legal [417] conditions of freedom, the official
servitude of feudal days,--satisfied to give their talent, their
strength, their utmost effort, their lives, for the simple privilege
of obeying a government that still accepts all sacrifices in the
feudal spirit--as a matter of course,--as a national duty. And as a
national duty, indeed, the sacrifices are made. All know that Japan
is in danger, between the terrible friendship of England and the
terrible enmity of Russia,--that she is poor,--that the cost of
maintaining her armaments is straining her resources,--that it is
everybody's duty to be content with as little as possible. So the
complaints are not many.... Nor has the simple obedience of the
nation at large been less touching,--especially, perhaps, as regards
the imperial order to acquire Western knowledge, to learn Western
languages, to imitate Western ways. Only those who have lived in
Japan during or before the early nineties are qualified to speak of
the loyal eagerness that made self-destruction by over-study a common
form of death,--the passionate obedience that impelled even children
to ruin their health in the effort to master tasks too difficult for
their little minds (tasks devised by well-meaning advisers with no
knowledge of Far-Eastern psychology),--and the strange courage of
persistence in periods of earthquake and conflagration, when boys and
girls used the tiles of their ruined homes for school-slates, and
bits of fallen plaster for pencils. What [418] tragedies I might
relate even of the higher educational life of universities!--of fine
brains giving way under pressure of work beyond the capacity of the
average European student,--of triumphs won in the teeth of death,--of
strange farewells from pupils in the time of the dreaded
examinations, as when one said to me: "Sir, I am very much afraid
that my paper is bad, because I came out of the hospital to make
it--there is something the matter with my heart." (His diploma was
placed in his hands scarcely an hour before he died.) ... And all
this striving--striving not only against difficulties of study, but
in most cases against difficulties of poverty, and underfeeding, and
discomfort--has been only for duty, and the means to live. To
estimate the Japanese student by his errors, his failures, his
incapacity to comprehend sentiments and ideas alien to the experience
of his race, is the mistake of the shallow: to judge him rightly one
must have learned to know the silent moral heroism of which he is



The extent to which national character has been fixed by the
discipline of centuries, and the extent or its extraordinary capacity
to resist change, is perhaps most strikingly indicated by certain
results of State education. The whole nation is being educated, with
Government help, upon a European plan; and the full programme
includes the chief subjects of Western study, excepting Greek and
Latin classics. From Kindergarten to University the entire system is
modern in outward seeming; yet the effect of the new education is
much less marked in thought and sentiment than might be supposed.
This fact is not to be explained merely by the large place which old
Chinese study still occupies in the obligatory programme, nor by
differences of belief--it is much more due to the fundamental
difference in the Japanese and the European conceptions of education
as means to an end. In spite of new system and programme the whole of
Japanese education is still conducted upon a traditional plan almost
the exact opposite of the Western plan. With us, the repressive part
of moral training begins in early childhood--the European or American
teacher is strict with the little [420] ones; we think that it is
important to inculcate the duties of behaviour,--the "must" and the
"must not" of individual obligation,--as soon as possible. Later on,
more liberty is allowed. The well-grown boy is made to understand
that his future will depend upon his personal effort and capacity;
and he is thereafter left, in a great measure, to take care of
himself, being occasionally admonished or warned, as seems needful.
Finally, the adult student of promise and character may become the
intimate, or, under happy circumstances, even the friend of his
tutor, to whom he can look for counsel in all difficult situations.
And throughout the whole course of mental and moral training
competition is not only expected, but required. But it is more and
more required as discipline is more and more relaxed, with the
passing of boyhood into manhood. The aim of Western education is the
cultivation of individual ability and personal character,--the
creation of an independent and forceful being.

Now Japanese education has always been conducted, and, in spite of
superficial appearances, is still being conducted, mostly upon the
reverse plan. Its object never has been to train the individual for
independent action, but to train him for cooperative action,--to fit
him to occupy an exact place in the mechanism of a rigid society.
Constraint among ourselves begins with childhood, and gradually
relaxes; constraint in Far-Eastern training begins later, [421] and
thereafter gradually tightens; and it is not a constraint imposed
directly by parents or teachers--which fact, as we shall presently
see, makes an enormous difference in results. Not merely up to the
age of school-life,--supposed to begin at six years,--but
considerably beyond it, a Japanese child enjoys a degree of liberty
far greater than is allowed to Occidental children. Exceptional cases
are common, of course; but the general rule is that the child be
permitted to do as he pleases, providing that his conduct can cause
no injury to himself or to others. He is guarded, but not
constrained; admonished, but rarely compelled. In short, he is
allowed to be so mischievous that, as a Japanese proverb says, "even
the holes by the roadside hate a boy of seven or eight years old"*
[*By former custom a newly-born child was said to be one year old;
and in this case the words "seven or eight years old" mean "six or
seven years old."] (Nanatsu, yatsu--michibata no ana desaimon
nikumu). Punishment is administered only when absolutely necessary;
and on such occasions, by ancient custom, the entire
household--servants and all--intercede for the offender; the little
brothers and sisters, if any there be, begging in turn to bear the
penalty instead. Whipping is not a common punishment, except among
the roughest classes; the moxa is preferred as a deterrent; and it is
a severe one. To frighten a child by loud harsh words, or angry
looks, is condemned by general opinion: all punishment ought [422] to
be inflicted as quietly as possible, the punisher calmly admonishing
the while. To slap a child about the head, for any reason, is a proof
of vulgarity and ignorance. It is not customary to punish by
restraining from play, or by a change of diet, or by any denial of
accustomed pleasures. To be perfectly patient with children is the
ethical law. At school the discipline begins; but it is at first so
very light that it can hardly be called discipline: the teacher does
not act as a master, but rather as an elder brother; and there is no
punishment beyond a public admonition. Whatever restraint exists is
chiefly exerted on the child by the common opinion of his class; and
a skilful teacher is able to direct that opinion. Also each class is
nominally governed by one or two little captains, selected for
character and intelligence; and when a disagreeable order has to be
given, it is the child-captain, the kyucho, who is commissioned with
the duty of giving it. (These little details are worthy of note: I
cite them only to show how early in school-life begins the discipline
of opinion, the pressure of the common will, and how perfectly this
policy accords with the ethical traditions of the race.) In higher
classes the pressure slightly increases; and in higher schools it is
very much stronger; the ruling power always being class-sentiment,
not the individual will of the teacher. In middle schools the pupils
become serious: class-opinion there attains a force to which the
teacher [423] himself must bend, as it is quite capable of expelling
him for any attempt to override it. Each middle-school class has its
elected officers, who represent and enforce the moral code of the
majority,--the traditional standard of conduct. (This moral standard
is deteriorating; but it survives everywhere to some degree.)
Fighting or bullying are yet unknown in Japanese schools of this
grade for obvious reasons: there can be little indulgence of personal
anger, and no attempt at personal domination, under a discipline
enforcing a uniform manner of behaviour. It is never the domination
of the one over the many that regulates class-life: it is always the
rule of the many over the one,--and the power is formidable. The
student who consciously or unconsciously offends class-sentiment will
suddenly find himself isolated,--condemned to absolute solitude. No
one will speak to him or notice him even outside of the school, until
such time as he decides to make a public apology, when his pardon
will depend upon a majority-vote.

Such temporary ostracism is not unreasonably feared, because it is
regarded even outside of student-circles as a disgrace; and the
memory of it will cling to the offender during the rest of his
career. However high he may rise in official or professional life in
after years, the fact that he was once condemned by the general
opinion of his schoolmates will not be forgotten,--though
circumstances may occur [424] which will turn the fact to his
credit.... In the great Government schools--to one of which the
student may proceed after graduating from a
middle-school--class-discipline is still more severe. The instructors
are mostly officials looking for promotion: the students are grown
men, preparing for the University, and destined, with few exceptions,
for public office. In this quietly and coldly ordered world there is
little place for the joy of youth, and small opportunity for
sympathetic expansion. There are gatherings and societies; but these
are arranged or established for practical purposes--chiefly in
relation to particular branches of study; there is little time for
merry-making, and less inclination. Under all circumstances, a
certain formal demeanour is exacted by tradition,--a tradition older
by far than any public school. Everybody watches everybody:
eccentricities or singularities are quickly marked and quietly
suppressed. The results of this class-discipline, as maintained in
some institutions, must seem to the foreign observer discomforting.
What most impressed me about these higher official schools was the
sinister silence of them. In one where I taught for several
years--the most conservative school in the country--there were more
than a thousand young men, full of life and energy; yet during the
intervals between classes, or during recreation-hours in the
playground, the garden, and the gymnastic hall, the general hush gave
one a strange sense of [425] oppression. One might watch a game of
foot-ball being played, and hear nothing but the thud of the kicking;
or one might watch wrestling-contests in the jiujutsu-room, and hear
no word spoken for half an hour at a time. (The rules of jiujutsu, it
is true, require not only silence, but the total suppression of all
visible emotional interest on the part of the spectators.) All this
repression at first seemed to me very strange--though I knew that
thirty years previously, the training at samurai-schools compelled
the same impassiveness and reticence.

At last the University is reached,--the great gate of ceremony to
public office. Here the student finds himself released from the
restraints previously imposed upon his private life,* though the
class-will continues to rule him in certain directions. As a rule,
the student passes into official life after having graduated,
marries, and becomes the head, or the [426] prospective head, of a
household. How sudden the transformation of the man at this epoch of
his career, only those who have observed the transformation can
imagine. It is then that the full significance of Japanese education
reveals itself.

[*This release is of recent date; and the results, by the
acknowledgment of the students themselves, have not been good.
Twenty-five years ago, University study was so seriously thought
about that a scholar who failed, through his own fault, would have
been considered a criminal. There was then a Chinese poem in vogue,
which used to be sung at the departure of youths for the University
of that time (Daigaku Nanko) by their friends and relations:--

        Danji kokorozashi wo tatete, kyokwan wo idzu;
        Gaku moshi narazunba, shisudomo kaeradzu,

[The young man, having made a firm resolve, leaves his native home.
If he fail to acquire learning, then, even though he die, he must
never return.]

In those years also it was obligatory upon students to live and dress
simply, and to abstain from all self-indulgence.]

Few incidents of Japanese life are more surprising than the
metamorphosis of the gawky student into the dignified, impassive,
easy-mannered official. But a little time ago he was respectfully
asking, cap in hand, the explanation of some text, the meaning of
some foreign idiom; to-day, perhaps, he is judging cases in some
court, or managing diplomatic correspondence under ministerial
supervision, or directing the management of some public school.
Whatever you may have thought of his particular capacity as a
student, you will scarcely doubt his particular fitness for the
position to which he has been called. Success in study was at best a
secondary consideration in the matter of his appointment,--though he
had to succeed. He was put through some special course, under high
protection, after having been selected for certain qualities of
character,--or at least for the promise of such qualities. There may
have been favouritism in his case; but, generally speaking, capable
men are appointed to positions of trust: the Government seldom makes
serious mistakes. This man has value beyond what mere study could
make for him,--some capacity in the direction of management or of
organization, [427]--some natural force or talent which his training
has served to cultivate. According to the quality of his worth, his
position was chosen for him in advance. His long, hard schooling has
taught him more than books can teach, and more than a stupid person
can ever learn: how to read minds and motives,--how to remain
impassive under all circumstances,--how to reach a truth quickly by
simple questioning,--how to live upon his guard (even against the
most intimate of old acquaintances),--how to remain, even when most
amiable, secretive and inscrutable. He has graduated in the art of
worldly wisdom. He is really a wonderful person, a highly developed
type of his race; and no inexperienced Occidental is capable of
judging him, because his visible acquirements count for very little
in the measure of his relative value. His University study--his
English or French or German knowledge--serves him only as so much oil
to make easy the working of certain official machinery: he esteems
this learning only as means to some administrative end; his real
learning, considerably deeper, represents the development of the
Japanese soul of him. Between that mind and any Western mind the
distance has become immeasurable. And now, less than ever before,
does he belong to himself. He belongs to a family, to a party, to a
government: privately he is bound by custom; publicly he must act
according to order only, and never dream of yielding to [428] any
impulses at variance with order, however generous or sensible such
impulses may be. A word might ruin him: he has learned to use no
words unnecessarily. By silent submission and tireless observance of
duty he may rise, and rise quickly: he may become Governor, Chief
justice, Minister of State, Minister Plenipotentiary; but the higher
he rises, the heavier will his bonds become.

Long training in caution and self-control is indeed an indispensable
preparation for official existence; the ability either to keep a
position won, or to resign it with honour, depending much upon such
training. The most sinister circumstance of official life is the
absence of moral freedom,--the absence of the right to act according
to one's own convictions of justice. The subordinate, who desires
above all things to keep his place, is not supposed to have personal
convictions or sympathies--save by permission. He is not the slave of
a man, but of a system--a system as old as China. Were human nature
perfect, that system would be perfect; but so long as human nature
remains what it is now, the system leaves much to be desired.
Everything may depend upon the personal character of those
temporarily intrusted with higher power; and the only choice left for
the most capable servant under a bad master may be to resign or to do
wrong. The strong man faces the problem bravely and resigns; but for
one strong man there are fifty timid ones. [429] Probably the
prospect of a broken career is much less terrifying than the ancient
idea of crime attaching to any form of insubordination. As the forms
of a religion survive after the faith in doctrine has passed away, so
the power of Government to coerce even conscience still remains,
though religion is no longer identified with Government. The system
of secrecy, implacably enforced, helps to maintain the vague awe that
has always attached to the idea of administrative authority; and such
authority is practically omnipotent within those limits which I have
already indicated. To be favoured by authority means to experience
all the illusive pleasure of a suddenly created popularity: an entire
community, a whole city, is made by a word to turn all the amiable
side of its human nature toward the favourite,--to charm him into the
belief that he is worthy of the best that the world can give him. But
suppose that the moving powers happen, latter on, to find the
favoured man in the way of some policy--lo! at another whispered word
he finds himself, without knowing why, the public enemy. None speak
to him or salute him or smile upon him--save ironically:
long-esteemed friends pass him by without recognition, or, if
pursued, reply to his most earnest questions with all possible
brevity and caution. Most likely they do not know the "why" of the
matter: they only know that orders have been given, and that into the
[430] reason of orders it is not good to enquire. Even the
street-children know this much, and mock the despondent victim of
fortune; even the dogs seem instinctively to divine the change and
bark at him as he passes by.... Such is the power of official
displeasure; and the penalty of a blunder or a breach of discipline
may extend considerably further--but in feudal times the offender
would have been simply told to perform harakiri. Sometimes, when the
wrong men get into power, the force of authority may be used for
malevolent ends; and in such event it requires not a little courage
to disobey an order to act against conscience. What saved Japanese
society in former ages from the worst results of this form of
tyranny, was the moral sentiment of the mass,--the common feeling
that underlay all submission to authority, and remained always
capable, if pressed upon too brutally, of compelling a reaction.
Conditions to-day are more favourable to justice; but it requires
much tact, steadiness, and resolution on the part of a rising
official to steer himself safely among the reefs and the whirlpools
of the new political life.

                    *    *    *    *    *    *

The reader will now be able to understand the general character, aim,
and results of official education as a system. It will be also worth
while to consider in detail certain phases of student-life, which
equally prove the survival of old conditions and old [431]
traditions. I can speak about these matters from personal experience
as a teacher,--an experience extending over nearly thirteen years.

Readers of Goethe will remember the trustful docility of the student
received by Doctor Mephistopheles in the First Part of Faust, and the
very different demeanour of the same student when he reappears, in
the Second Part, as Baccalaureus. More than one foreign professor in
Japan must have been reminded of that contrast by personal
experience, and must have wondered whether some one of the early
educational advisers to the Japanese Government did not play, without
malice prepense, the very role of Mephistopheles.... The gentle boy
who, with innocent reverence, makes his visit of courtesy to the
foreign teacher, bringing for gift a cluster of iris-flowers or
odorous spray of plum-blossoms,--the boy who does whatever he is
told, and charms by an earnestness, a trustfulness, a grace of manner
rarely met with among Western lads of the same age,--is destined to
undergo the strangest of transformations long before becoming a
baccalaureus. You may meet with him a few years later, in the uniform
of some Higher School, and find it difficult to recognize your former
pupil,--now graceless, taciturn, secretive, and inclined to demand as
a right what could scarcely, with propriety, be requested as a
favour. You may find [432] him patronizing,--possibly something
worse. Later on, at the University, he becomes more formally correct,
but also more far away,--so very far away from his boyhood that the
remoteness is a pain to one who remembers that boyhood. The Pacific
is less wide and deep than the invisible gulf now extending between
the mind of the stranger and the mind of the student. The foreign
professor is now regarded merely as a teaching-machine; and he is
more than likely to regret any effort made to maintain an intimate
relation with his pupils. Indeed the whole formal system of official
education is opposed to the development of any such relation. I am
speaking of general facts in this connexion, not of merely personal
experiences. No matter what the foreigner may do in the hope of
finding his way into touch with the emotional life of his students,
or in the hope of evoking that interest in certain studies which
renders possible an intellectual tie, he must toil in vain. Perhaps
in two or three cases out of a thousand he may obtain something
precious,--a lasting and kindly esteem, based upon moral
comprehension; but should he wish for more he must remain in the
state of the Antarctic explorer, seeking, month after month, to no
purpose, some inlet through endless cliffs of everlasting ice. Now
the case of the Japanese professor proves the barrier natural, to a
large extent. The Japanese professor can ask for extraordinary
efforts and, [433] obtain them; he can afford to be easily familiar
with his students outside of class; and he can get what no stranger
can obtain,--their devotion. The difference has been attributed to
race-feeling; but it cannot be so easily and vaguely explained.

Something of race-sentiment there certainly is; it were impossible
that there should not be. No inexperienced foreigner can converse for
one half hour with any Japanese--at least with any Japanese who has
not sojourned abroad---and avoid saying something that jars upon
Japanese good taste or sentiment; and few--perhaps, none--among
untravelled Japanese can maintain a brief conversation in any
European tongue without making some startling impression upon the
foreign listener. Sympathethic understanding, between minds so
differently constructed, is next to impossible. But the foreign
professor who looks for the impossible--who expects from Japanese
students the same quality of intelligent comprehension that he might
reasonably expect from Western students--is naturally disturbed. "Why
must there always, remain the width of a world between us?" is a
question often asked and rarely answered.

Some of the reasons should by this time be obvious to my reader; but
one among them and the most, curious--will not. Before stating it I
must observe that while the relation between foreign [434] instructor
and the Japanese student is artificial, that between the Japanese
teacher and the student is traditionally one of sacrifice and
obligation. The inertia encountered by the stranger, the indifference
which chills him at all times, are due in great part to the
misapprehension arising from totally opposite conceptions of duty.
Old sentiment lingers long after old forms have passed away; and how
much of feudal Japan survives in modern Japan, no stranger can
readily divine. Probably the bulk of existing sentiment is hereditary
sentiment: the ancient ideals have not yet been replaced by fresh
ones.... In feudal times the teacher taught without salary: he was
expected to devote all his time, thought, and strength to his
profession. High honour was attached to that profession; and the
matter of remuneration was not discussed,--the instructor trusting
wholly to the gratitude of parents and pupils. Public sentiment bound
them to him with a bond that could not be broken. Therefore a
general, upon the eve of an assault, would take care that his former
teacher should have an opportunity to escape from the place
beleaguered. The tie between teacher and pupil was in force second
only to the tie between parent and child. The teacher sacrificed
everything for his pupil: the pupil was ready at all times to die for
his teacher. Now, indeed, the hard and selfish aspects of Japanese
character are coming to the surface. But a [435] single fact will
sufficiently indicate how much of the old ethical sentiment persists
under the new and rougher surface: Nearly all the higher educational
work accomplished in Japan represents, though aided by Government,
the results of personal sacrifice.

From the summit of society to the base, this sacrificial spirit
rules. That a large part of the private income of their Imperial
Majesties has, for many years, been devoted to public education is
well known; but that every person of rank or wealth or high position
educates students at his private expense, is not generally known. In
the majority of cases this help is entirely gratuitous; in a minority
of cases, the expenses of the student are advanced only, to be repaid
by instalments at some future time. The reader is doubtless aware
that the daimyo in former times used to dispose of the bulk of their
incomes in supporting and helping their retainers; supplying
hundreds, in some cases thousands, and in some few cases, even tens
of thousands, of persons with the necessaries of life; and exacting
in return military service, loyalty, and obedience. Those former
daimyo or their successors--particularly those who are still large
landholders--now vie with each other in assisting education. All who
can afford it are educating sons or grandsons or descendants of
former retainers; the subjects of this patronage being annually
selected from among the students of [436] schools established in the
former daimiates. It is only the rich noble who can now support a
number of students gratuitously, year after year; the poorer men of
rank cannot care for many. But all, or very nearly all, maintain
some,--and this even in cases where the patron's income is so small
that the expense could not be borne unless the student were pledged
to repay it after graduation. In some instances, half of the cost is
borne by the patron; the student being required to repay the rest.

Now these aristocratic examples are extensively followed through
other grades of society. Merchants, bankers, and manufacturers--all
rich men of the commercial and industrial classes--are educating
students. Military officers, civil service officials, physicians,
lawyers, men of every profession, in short, are doing the same thing.
Persons whose incomes are too small to permit of much generosity are
able to help students by employing them as door-keepers, messengers,
tutors,--giving them board and lodging, and a little pocket-money at
times, in return, for light services. In Tokyo, and in most of the
large cities, almost every large house is guarded by students who are
being thus assisted. As for what the teachers do--that requires
special mention.

The majority of teachers in the public schools do not receive
salaries enabling them to help students with money; but all teachers
earning more than the [437] bare necessary give aid of some sort.
Among the instructors and professors of the higher educational
establishments, the helping of students seems to be thought of as a
matter of course,--so much a matter of course that we might suspect a
new "tyranny of custom," especially in view of the smallness of
official salaries. But no tyranny of custom would explain the
pleasure of sacrifice and the strange persistence of feudal idealism
which are revealed by some extraordinary facts. For example: A
certain University professor is known to have supported and educated
a large number of students by dividing among them, during many years,
nearly the whole of his salary. He lodged, clothed, boarded, and
educated them, bought their books, and paid their fees,--reserving
for himself only the cost of his living, and reducing even that cost
by living upon hot sweet potatoes. (Fancy a foreign professor in
Japan putting himself upon a diet of bread and water for the purpose
of educating gratuitously a number of poor young men!) I know of two
other cases nearly as remarkable; the helper, in one instance, being
an old man of more than seventy, who still devotes all his means,
time, and knowledge to his ancient ideal of duty. How much obscure
sacrifice of this kind has been performed by those least able to
afford it never will be known: indeed, the publication of the facts
would only give pain. I am guilty of some indiscretion in mentioning
[418] even the cases brought to my attention--though human nature is
honoured by the mention.... Now it should be evident that while
Japanese students are accustomed to witness self-denial of this sort
on the part of native professors, they cannot be much impressed by
any manifestation of interest or sympathy on the part of the foreign
professor, who, though receiving a higher salary than his Japanese
colleagues, has no reason and small inclination to imitate their

Surely this heroic fact of education sustained by personal
sacrifices, in the face of unimaginable difficulties, is enough to
redeem much humbug and wrong. In spite of the corruption which has
been of late years rife in educational circles,--in spite of official
scandals, intrigues, and shams,--all needed reforms can be hoped for
while the spirit of generous self-denial continues to rule the world
of teachers and students. I can venture also the opinion that most of
the official scandals and failures have resulted from the
interference of politics with modern education, or from attempting to
imitate foreign conventional methods totally at variance with
national moral experience. Where Japan has remained true to her old
moral ideals she has done nobly and well: where she has needlessly
departed from them, sorrow and trouble have been the natural

There are yet other facts in modern education [439] suggesting even
more forcibly how much of the old life remains hidden under the new
conditions, and how rigidly race-character has become fixed in the
higher types of mind. I refer chiefly to the results of Japanese
education abroad,--a higher special training in German, English,
French, or American Universities. In some directions these results,
to foreign observation at least, appear to be almost negative.
Considering the immense psychological differentiation,--the total
oppositeness of mental structure and habit,--it is astonishing that
Japanese students have been able to do what they actually have done
at foreign Universities. To graduate at any European or American
University of mark, with a mind shaped by Japanese culture, filled
with Chinese learning, crammed with ideographs,--is a prodigious
feat: scarcely less of a feat than it would be for an American
student to graduate at a Chinese University. Certainly the men sent
abroad to study are carefully selected for ability; and one
indispensable requisite for the mission is a power of memory
incomparably superior to the average Occidental memory, and different
altogether as to quality,--a memory for details;--nevertheless, the
feat is amazing. But with the return to Japan of these young
scholars, there is commonly an end of effort in the direction of the
speciality studied,--unless it happens to have been a purely
practical subject. Does this signify incapacity for independent work
[440] upon Occidental lines? incapacity for creative thought? lack of
constructive imagination? disinclination or indifference? The history
of that terrible mental and moral discipline to which the race was so
long subjected would certainly suggest such limitations in the modern
Japanese mind. Perhaps these questions cannot yet be
answered,--except, I imagine, as regards the indifference, which is
self-evident and undisguised. But, independently of any question of
capacity or inclination, there is this fact to be considered,--that
proper encouragement has not yet been given to home-scholarship. The
plain truth is that young men are sent to foreign seats of learning
for other ends than to learn how to devote the rest of their lives to
the study of psychology, philology, literature, or modern philosophy.
They are sent abroad to fit them for higher posts in
Government-service; and their foreign study is but one obligatory
episode in their official career. Each has to qualify himself for
special duty by learning how Western people study and think and feel
in certain directions, and by ascertaining the range of educational
progress in those directions; but he is not ordered to think or to
feel like Western people--which would, in any event, be impossible
for him. He has not, and probably could not have, any deep personal
interest in Western learning outside of the domain of applied
science. His business is to learn how to understand such matters from
the [441] Japanese, not from the Occidental, point of view. But he
performs his part well, does exactly what he has been told to do, and
rarely anything more. His value to his Government is doubled or
quadrupled by his allotted experience; but at home--except during a
few years of expected duty as professor or lecturer--he will probably
use that experience only as a psychological costume of ceremony,--a
mental uniform to be donned when official occasion may require.

It is otherwise in the case of men sent abroad for scientific studies
requiring, not only intelligence and memory, but natural quickness of
hand and eye,--surgery, medicine, military specialities. I doubt
whether the average efficiency of Japanese surgeons can be surpassed.
The study of war, I need hardly say, is one for which the national
mind and character have inherited aptitude. But men sent abroad
merely to win a foreign University-degree, and destined, after a term
of educational duty, to higher official life, appear to set small
value upon their foreign acquirements. However, even if they could
win distinction in Europe by further effort at home, that effort
would have to be made at a serious pecuniary sacrifice, and its
results could not as yet be fairly appreciated by their own

Some of us have wondered at times what the old Egyptians or the old
Greeks would have done if [442] suddenly brought into dangerous
contact with a civilization like our own,--a civilization of applied
mathematics, with sciences and branch-sciences of which the mere
names would fill a dictionary. I think that the history of modern
Japan suggests very clearly what any wise people, with a civilization
based upon ancestor-worship, would have done. They would have
speedily reconstructed their patriarchal society to meet the sudden
peril; they would have adopted, with astonishing success, all the
scientific machinery that they could use; they would have created a
formidable army and a highly efficient navy; they would have sent
their young aristocrats abroad to study alien convention, and to
qualify for diplomatic duty; they would have established a new system
of education, and obliged all their children to study many new
things;--but toward the higher emotional and intellectual life of
that alien civilization, they would naturally exhibit indifference:
its best literature, its philosophy, its broader forms of tolerant
religion could make no profound appeal to their moral and social



Everywhere the course of human civilization has been shaped by the
same evolutional law; and as the earlier history of the ancient
European communities can help us to understand the social conditions
of Old Japan, so a later period of the same history can help us to
divine something of the probable future of the New Japan. It has been
shown by the author of La Cite Antique that the history of all the
ancient Greek and Latin communities included four revolutionary
periods.* The first revolution had everywhere for its issue the
withdrawal of political power from the priest-king; who was
nevertheless allowed to retain the religious authority. The second
revolutionary period witnessed the breaking up of the gens or (Greek
genos). the enfranchisement of the client from the authority of the
patron, and several important changes in [444] the legal constitution
of the family. The third revolutionary period saw the weakening of
the religious and military aristocracy, the entrance of the common
people into the rights of citizenship, and the rise of a democracy of
wealth,--presently to be opposed by a democracy of poverty. The
fourth revolutionary period witnessed the first bitter struggles
between rich and poor, the final triumph of anarchy, and the
consequent establishment of a new and horrible form of
despotism,--the despotism of the popular Tyrant.

[*Not excepting Sparta.  The Spartan society was evolutionally much
in advance of the Ionian societies; the Dorian patriarchal clan
having been dissolved at some very early period. Sparta kept its
Kings; but affairs of civil justice were regulated by the Senate, and
affairs of criminal justice by the ephors, who also had the power to
declare war and to make treaties of peace. After the first great
revolution of Spartan history the King was deprived of power in civil
matters, in criminal matters, and in military matters: he retained
his sacerdotal office. See for details. La Cite Antique, pp,

To these four revolutionary periods, the social history of Old Japan
presents but two correspondences. The first Japanese revolutionary
period was represented by the Fujiwara usurpation of the imperial
civil and military authority,--after which event the aristocracy,
religious and military, really governed Japan down to our own time.
All the events of the rise of the military power and the
concentration of authority under the Tokugawa Shogunate properly
belong to the first revolutionary period. At the time of the opening
of Japan, society had not evolutionally advanced beyond a stage
corresponding to that of the antique Western societies in the seventh
or eighth century before Christ. The second revolutionary period
really began only with the reconstruction of society in 1871. But
within the space of a single generation thereafter, Japan entered
upon her third revolutionary [445] period. Already the influence of
the elder aristocracy is threatened by the sudden rise of a new
oligarchy of wealth,--a new industrial power probably destined to
become omnipotent in politics. The disintegration (now proceeding) of
the clan, the changes in the legal constitution of the family, the
entrance of the people into the enjoyment of political rights, must
all tend to hasten the coming transfer of power. There is every
indication that, in the present order of things, the third
revolutionary period will run its course rapidly; and then a fourth
revolutionary period, fraught with serious danger, would be in
immediate prospect.

Consider the bewildering rapidity of recent changes,--from the
reconstruction of society in 1871 to the opening of the first
national parliament in 1891. Down to the middle of the nineteenth
century the nation had remained in the condition common to European
patriarchal communities twenty-six hundred years ago: society had
indeed entered upon a second period of integration, but had traversed
only one great revolution. And then the country was suddenly hurried
through two more social revolutions of the most extraordinary
kind,--signalized by the abolition of the daimiates, the suppression
of the military class, the substitution of a plebeian for an
aristocratic army, popular enfranchisement, the rapid formalism of a
new commonalty. industrial [446] expansion, the rise of a new
aristocracy of wealth, and popular representation in government! Old
Japan had never developed a wealthy and powerful middle class: she
had not even approached that stage of industrial development which,
in the ancient European societies, naturally brought about the first
political struggles between rich and poor. Her social organization
made industrial oppression impossible: the commercial classes were
kept at the bottom of society,--under the feet even of those who, in
more highly evolved communities, are most at the mercy of
money-power. But now those commercial classes, set free and highly
privileged, are silently and swiftly ousting the aristocratic
ruling-class from power,--are becoming supremely important. And under
the new order of things, forms of social misery, never before known
in the history of the race, are being developed. Some idea of this
misery may be obtained from the fact that the number of poor people
in Tokyo unable to pay their annual resident-tax is upwards of
50,000; yet the amount of the tax is only about 20 sen, or 5 pence
English money. Prior to the accumulation of wealth in the hands of a
minority there was never any such want in any part of Japan,--except,
of course, as a temporary consequence of war.

The early history of European civilization supplies analogies. In the
Greek and Latin communities, up to the time of the dissolution of the
gens, there [447] was no poverty in the modern meaning of that word.
Slavery. with some few exceptions, existed only in the mild domestic
form; there were yet no commercial oligarchies, and no industrial
oppressions; and the various cities and states were ruled, after
political power had been taken from the early kings, by military
aristocracies which also exercised religious functions. There was yet
little trade in the modern signification of the term; and money, as
current coinage, came into circulation only in the seventh century
before Christ. Misery did not exist. Under any patriarchal system,
based upon ancestor-worship, there is no misery, as a consequence of
poverty, except such as may be temporarily created by devastation or
famine. If want thus comes, it comes to all alike. In such a state of
society everybody is in the service of somebody, and receives in
exchange for service all the necessaries of life: there is no need
for any one to trouble himself about the question of living. Also, in
such a patriarchal community, which is self-sufficing, there is
little need of money: barter takes the place of trade.... In all
these respects, the condition of Old Japan offered a close parallel
to the conditions of patriarchal society in ancient Europe. While the
uji or clan existed, there was no misery except as a result of war,
famine, or pestilence. Throughout society--excepting the small
commercial class--the need of money was rare; and such coinage as
existed [448] was little suited to general circulation. Taxes were
paid in rice and other produce. As the lord nourished his retainers,
so the samurai cared for his dependants, the farmer for his
labourers, the artizan for his apprentices and journeymen, the
merchant for his clerks. Everybody was fed; and there was no need, in
ordinary times at least, for any one to go hungry. It was only with
the breaking-up of the clan-system in Japan that the possibilities of
starvation for the worker first came into existence. And as, in
antique Europe, the enfranchised client-class and plebeian-class
developed, under like conditions, into a democracy clamouring for
suffrage and all political rights, so in Japan have the common people
developed the political instinct, in self-protection.

It will be remembered how, in Greek and Roman society, the
aristocracy founded upon religious tradition and military power had
to give way to an oligarchy of wealth, and how there subsequently
came into existence a democratic form of government,--democratic, not
in the modern, but in the old Greek meaning. At a yet later day the
results of popular suffrage were the breaking-up of this democratic
government, and the initiation of an atrocious struggle between rich
and poor. After that strife had begun there was no more security for
life or property until the Roman conquest enforced order.... Now it
seems not unlikely that there will he witnessed in Japan, at no very
[449] distant day, a strong tendency to repeat the history of the old
Greek anarchies. With the constant increase of poverty and pressure
of population, and the concomitant accumulation of wealth in the
hands of a new industrial class, the peril is obvious. Thus far the
nation has patiently borne all changes. relying upon the experience
of its past, and trusting implicitly to its rulers. But should
wretchedness be so permitted to augment that the question of how to
keep from starving becomes imperative for the millions, the long
patience and the long trust may fail. And then, to repeat a figure
effectively used by Professor Huxley, the Primitive Man, finding that
the Moral Man has landed him in the valley of the shadow of death,
may rise up to take the management of affairs into his own hands, and
fight savagely for the right of existence. As popular instinct is not
too dull to divine the first cause of this misery in the introduction
of Western industrial methods, it is unpleasant to reflect what such
an upheaval might signify. But nothing of moment has yet been done to
ameliorate the condition of the wretched class of operatives, now
estimated to exceed half a million.

M. de Coulanges has pointed out* that the absence of individual
liberty was the real cause of the disorders and the final ruin of the
Greek societies.

[*La Cite Antique.  pp, 400-401.]

[450] Rome suffered less, and survived, and dominated,--because
within her boundaries the rights of the individual had been more
respected.... Now the absence of individual freedom in modern Japan
would certainly appear to be nothing less than a national danger. For
those very habits of unquestioning obedience, and loyalty, and
respect for authority, which made feudal society possible, are likely
to render a true democratic regime impossible, and would tend to
bring about a state of anarchy. Only races long accustomed to
personal liberty,--liberty to think about matters of ethics apart
from matters of government,--liberty to consider questions of right
and wrong, justice and injustice, independently of political
authority,--are able to face without risk the peril now menacing
Japan. For should social disintegration take in Japan the same course
which it followed in the old European societies,--unchecked by any
precautionary legislation,--and so bring about another social
revolution, the consequence could scarcely be less than utter ruin.
In the antique world of Europe, the total disintegration of the
patriarchal system occupied centuries: it was slow, and it was
normal--not having been brought about by external forces. In Japan,
on the contrary, this disintegration is taking place under enormous
outside pressure, operating with the rapidity of electricity and
steam. In Greek societies the changes were effected in about three
[451] hundred years; in Japan it is hardly more than thirty years
since the patriarchal system was legally dissolved and the industrial
system reshaped; yet already the danger of anarchy is in sight, and
the population--astonishingly augmented by more than ten
millions--already begins to experience all the forms of misery
developed by want under industrial conditions.

It was perhaps inevitable that the greatest freedom accorded under
the new order of things should have been given in the direction of
greatest danger. Though the Government cannot be said to have done
much for any form of competition within the sphere of its own direct
control, it has done even more than could have been reasonably
expected on behalf of national industrial competition. Loans have
been lavishly advanced. subsidies generously allowed; and, in spite
of various panics and failures, the results have been prodigious.
Within thirty years the value of articles manufactured for export has
risen from half a million to five hundred million yen. But this
immense development has been effected at serious cost in other
directions. The old methods of family production--and therefore most
of the beautiful industries and arts, for which Japan has been so
long famed--now seem doomed beyond hope; and instead of the ancient
kindly relations between master and workers, there have been brought
into existence--with no legislation to restrain [452] inhumanity--all
the horrors of factory-life at its worst. The new combinations of
capital have actually reestablished servitude, under harsher forms
than ever were imagined under the feudal era; the misery of the women
and children subjected to that servitude is a public scandal, and
proves strange possibilities of cruelty on the part of a people once
renowned for kindness,--kindness even to animals.

There is now a humane outcry for reform; and earnest efforts have
been made, and will be made, to secure legislation for the protection
of operatives. But, as might be expected, these efforts have been
hitherto strongly opposed by manufacturing companies and syndicates
with the declaration that any Government interference with factory
management will greatly hamper, if not cripple, enterprise, and
hinder competition with foreign industry. Less than twenty years ago
the very same arguments were used in England to oppose the efforts
then being made to improve the condition of the industrial classes;
and that opposition was challenged by Professor Huxley in a noble
address, which every Japanese legislator would do well to read
to-day. Speaking of the reforms in progress during 1888. the
professor said:

"If it is said that the carrying out of such arrangements as those
indicated must enhance the cost of production, and thus handicap the
producer in the race of competition. I venture, in the first place.
to doubt the fact; but, if it be [453] so, it results that industrial
society has to face a dilemma, either alternative of which threatens

"On the one hand, a population, the labour of which is sufficiently
remunerated, may be physically and morally healthy, and socially
stable, but may fail in industrial competition by reason of the
dearness of its produce. On the other hand, a population, the labour
of which is insufficiently remunerated, must become physically and
morally unhealthy, and socially unstable; and though it may succeed
for a while in competition, by reason of the cheapness of its
produce, it must in the end fall, through hideous misery and
degradation, to utter ruin.

"Well, if these be the only alternatives, let us for ourselves and
our children choose the former, and, if need be, starve like men. But
I do not believe that a stable society, made up of healthy, vigorous,
instructed, and self-ruling people would ever incur serious risk of
that fate. They are not likely to be troubled with many competitors
of the same character just yet; and they may be safely trusted to
find ways of holding their own."*

[*The Struggle for Existence in Human Society.  "Collected Essays,"
Vol. IX. pp, 113--219.]

If the future of Japan could depend upon her army and her navy, upon
the high courage of her people and their readiness to die by the
hundred thousand for ideals of honour and of duty, there would be
small cause for alarm in the present state of affairs. Unfortunately
her future must depend upon other qualities than courage, other
abilities than those of [454] sacrifice; and her struggle hereafter
must be one in which her social traditions will place her at an
immense disadvantage. The capacity for industrial competition cannot
be made to depend upon the misery of women and children; it must
depend upon the intelligent freedom of the individual; and the
society which suppresses this freedom, or suffers it to be
suppressed, must remain too rigid for competition with societies in
which the liberties of the individual are strictly maintained. While
Japan continues to think and to act by groups, even by groups of
industrial companies, so long she must always continue incapable of
her best. Her ancient social experience is not sufficient to avail
her for the future international struggle,--rather it must sometimes
impede her as so much dead weight. Dead, in the ghostliest sense of
the word,--the viewless pressure upon her life of numberless vanished
generations. She will have not only to strive against colossal odds
in her rivalry with more plastic and more forceful societies; she
will have to strive much more against the power of her phantom past.

Yet it were a grievous error to imagine that she has nothing further
to gain from her ancestral faith. All her modern successes have been
aided by it; and all her modern failures have been marked by needless
breaking with its ethical custom. She could compel her people, by a
simple fiat, to adopt the [455] civilization of the West, with all
its pain and struggle, only because that people had been trained for
ages in submission and loyalty and sacrifice; and the time has not
yet come in which she can afford to cast away the whole of her moral
past. More freedom indeed she requires,--but freedom restrained by
wisdom; freedom to think and act and strive for self as well as for
others,--not freedom to oppress the weak, or to exploit the simple.
And the new cruelties of her industrial life can find no
justification in the traditions of her ancient faith, which exacted
absolute obedience from the dependant, but equally required the duty
of kindness from the master. In so far as she has permitted her
people to depart from the way of kindness, she herself has surely
departed from the Way of the Gods....

And the domestic future appears dark.  Born of that darkness, an evil
dream comes oftentimes to those who love Japan: the fear that all her
efforts are being directed, with desperate heroism, only to prepare
the land for the sojourn of peoples older by centuries in commercial
experience; that her thousands of miles of railroads and telegraphs,
her mines and forges, her arsenals and factories, her docks and
fleets, are being put in order for the use of foreign capital; that
her admirable army and her heroic navy may be doomed to make their
last sacrifices in hopeless contest against some combination of
greedy states. provoked or encouraged to aggression [456] by
circumstances beyond the power of Government to control.... But the
statesmanship that has already guided Japan through many storms
should prove able to cope with this gathering peril.



In the preceding pages I have endeavoured to suggest a general idea
of the social history of Japan, and a general idea of the nature of
those forces which shaped and tempered the character of her people.
Certainly this attempt leaves much to be desired: the time is yet far
away at which a satisfactory work upon the subject can be prepared.
But the fact that Japan can be understood only through the study of
her religious and social evolution has been, I trust, sufficiently
indicated. She affords us the amazing spectacle of an Eastern society
maintaining all the outward forms of Western civilization; using,
with unquestionable efficiency, the applied science of the Occident;
accomplishing, by prodigious effort, the work of centuries within the
time of three decades,--yet sociologically remaining at a stage
corresponding to that which, in ancient Europe, preceded the
Christian era by hundreds of years.

But no suggestion of origins and causes should diminish the pleasure
of contemplating this curious world, psychologically still so far
away from us in the course of human evolution. The wonder and [458]
the beauty of what remains of the Old Japan cannot be lessened by any
knowledge of the conditions that produced them. The old kindliness
and grace of manners need not cease to charm us because we know that
such manners were cultivated, for a thousand years, under the edge of
the sword. The common politeness which appeared, but a few years ago,
to be almost universal, and the rarity of quarrels, should not prove
less agreeable because we have learned that, for generations and
generations, all quarrels among the people were punished with
extraordinary rigour; and that the custom of the vendetta, which
rendered necessary such repression, also made everybody cautious of
word and deed. The popular smile should not seem less winning because
we have been told of a period, in the past of the subject-classes,
when not to smile in the teeth of pain might cost life itself. And
the Japanese woman, as cultivated by the old home-training, is not
less sweet a being because she represents the moral ideal of a
vanishing world, and because we can faintly surmise the cost,--the
incalculable cost in pain,--of producing her.

No: what remains of this elder civilization is full of charm,--charm
unspeakable,--and to witness its gradual destruction must be a grief
for whomsoever has felt that charm. However intolerable may seem, to
the mind of the artist or poet, those countless restrictions which
once ruled all this fairy-world [459] and shaped the soul of it, he
cannot but admire and love their best results: the simplicity of old
custom,--the amiability of manners,--the daintiness of habits,--the
delicate tact displayed in pleasure-giving,--the strange power of
presenting outwardly, under any circumstances, only the best and
brightest aspects of character. What emotional poetry, for even the
least believing, in the ancient home-religion,--in the lamplet
nightly kindled before the names of the dead, the tiny offerings of
food and drink, the welcome-fires lighted to guide the visiting
ghosts, the little ships prepared to bear--them back to their rest!
And this immemorial doctrine of filial piety,--exacting all that is
noble, not less than all that is terrible, in duty, in gratitude, in
self-denial,--what strange appeal does it make to our lingering
religious instincts; and how close to the divine appear to us the
finer natures forged by it! What queer weird attraction in those
parish-temple festivals, with their happy mingling of merriment and
devotion in the presence of the gods! What a universe of romance in
that Buddhist art which has left its impress upon almost every
product of industry, from the toy of a child to the heirloom of a
prince;--which has peopled the solitudes with statues, and chiselled
the wayside rocks with texts of sutras! Who can forget the soft
enchantment of this Buddhist atmosphere?--the deep music of the great
bells?--the [460] green peace of gardens haunted by fearless things,
doves that flutter down at call, fishes rising to be fed? ... Despite
our incapacity to enter into the soul-life of this ancient East,
--despite the certainty that one might as well hope to remount the
River of Time and share the vanished existence of some old Greek
city, as to share the thoughts and the emotions of Old Japan,--we
find ourselves bewitched forever by the vision, like those wanderers
of folk-tale who rashly visited Elf-land.

We know that there is illusion,--not as to the reality of the
visible, but as to its meanings,--very much illusion. Yet why should
this illusion attract us, like some glimpse of Paradise?--why should
we feel obliged to confess the ethical glamour of a civilization as
far away from us in thought as the Egypt of Ramses? Are we really
charmed by the results of a social discipline that refused to
recognize the individual?--enamoured of a cult that exacted the
suppression of personality?

No: the charm is made by the fact that this vision of the past
represents to us much more than past or present,--that it foreshadows
the possibilities of some higher future, in a world of Perfect
sympathy. After many a thousand years there may be developed a
humanity able to achieve, with never a shadow of illusion, those
ethical conditions prefigured by the ideals of Old Japan: instinctive
unselfishness, [461] a common desire to find the joy of life in
making happiness for others, a universal sense of moral beauty. And
whenever men shall have so far gained upon the present as to need no
other code than the teaching of their own hearts, then indeed the
ancient ideal of Shinto will find its supreme realization.

Moreover, it should be remembered that the social state, whose
results thus attract us, really produced much more than a beautiful
mirage. Simple characters of great charm, though necessarily of great
fixity, were developed by it in multitude. Old Japan came nearer to
the achievement of the highest moral ideal than our far more evolved
societies can hope to do for many a hundred years. And but for those
ten centuries of war which followed upon the rise of the military
power, the ethical end to which all social discipline tended might
have been much more closely approached. Yet if the better side of
this human nature had been further developed at the cost of darker
and sterner qualities, the consequence might have proved unfortunate
for the nation. No people so ruled by altruism as to lose its
capacities for aggression and cunning could hold their own, in the
present state of the world, against races hardened by the discipline
of competition as well as by the discipline of war. The future Japan
must rely upon the least [462] amiable qualities of her character for
success in the universal struggle; and she will need to develop them

                             * *

How strongly she has been able to develop them in one direction, the
present war with Russia bears startling witness. But it is certainly
to the long discipline of the past that she owes the moral strength
behind this unexpected display of aggressive power. No superficial
observation could discern the silent energies masked by the
resignation of the people to change,--the unconscious heroism
informing this mass of forty million souls, the compressed force
ready to expand at Imperial bidding either for construction or
destruction. From the leaders of a nation with such a military and
political history, one might expect the manifestation of all those
abilities of supreme importance in diplomacy and war. But such
capacities could prove of little worth were it not for the character
of the masses,--the quality of the material that moves to command
with the power of winds and tides. The veritable strength of Japan
still lies in the moral nature of her common people,--her farmers and
fishers, artizans and labourers,--the patient quiet folk one sees
toiling in the rice-fields, or occupied with the humblest of crafts
and callings in city by-ways. All the unconscious heroism of the race
is in these, and all its splendid courage,--a [463] courage that does
not mean indifference to life, but the desire to sacrifice life at
the bidding of the Imperial Master who raises the rank of the dead.
From the thousands of young men now being summoned to the war, one
hears no expression of hope to return to their homes with glory;--the
common wish uttered is only to win remembrance at the Shokonsha--that
"Spirit-Invoking Temple," where the souls of all who die for Emperor
and fatherland are believed to gather. At no time was the ancient
faith stronger than in this hour of struggle; and Russian power will
have very much more to fear from that faith than from repeating
rifles or Whitehead torpedoes.* Shinto, as a religion of patriotism,
is a force that should suffice, if permitted fair-play, to affect not
only the destinies of the whole Far East, but the future of
civilization. No more irrational assertion was ever made about the
Japanese than the statement of their indifference to religion.
Religion is still, as it has [464] ever been, the very life of the
people,--the motive and the directing power of their every action: a
religion of doing and suffering, a religion without cant and
hypocrisy. And the qualities especially developed by it are just
those qualities which have startled Russia, and may yet cause her
many a painful surprise. She has discovered alarming force where she
imagined childish weakness; she has encountered heroism where she
expected to find timidity and helplessness.**

[*The following reply, made by Admiral Togo Commander-in-Chief of the
Japanese fleet, to an Imperial message of commendation received after
the second attempt to block the entrance to Port Arthur, is
characteristically Shinto:--

"The warm message which Your imperial Majesty condescended to grant
us with regard to the second attempt to seal Port Arthur, has not
only overwhelmed us with gratitude, but may also influence the
patriotic manes of the departed heroes to hover long over the
battle-field and give unseen protection to the Imperial forces."...
[Translated in the JAPAN TIMES of March 31st, 1904.]

--Such thoughts and hopes about the brave dead might have been
uttered by a Greek warrior before the battle of Salamis. The faith
and courage which helped the Greeks to repel the Persian invasion
were of precisely the same quality as that religious heroism which
now helps the Japanese to challenge the power of Russia.]

[**The case of the Japanese officers and men on the transport Kinshu
Maru, sank by the Russian warships on the 26th of last April, should
have given the enemy matter for reflection. Although allowed an
hour's time for consideration, the soldiers refused to surrender, and
opened fire with their rifles on the battleships. Then, before the
Kinshu Maru was blown in two by a torpedo, a number of the Japanese
officers and men performed harakiri.... This strong display of the
fierce old feudal spirit suggests how dearly a Russian success would
be bought.]

                             * *

For countless reasons this terrible war (of which no man can yet see
the end) is unspeakably to be regretted; and of these reasons not the
least are industrial. War must temporarily check all tendencies
towards the development of that healthy individualism without which
no modern nation can become prosperous and wealthy. Enterprise is
numbed, markets paralyzed, manufactures stopped. Yet, in the
extraordinary case of this extraordinary people, it is possible that
the social effects of the contest will prove to some degree
beneficial. Prior to hostilities, there had been a visible tendency
to [465] the premature dissolution of institutions founded upon
centuries of experience,--a serious likelihood of moral
disintegration. That great changes must hereafter be made,--that the
future well-being of the country requires them,--would seem to admit
of no argument. But it is necessary that such changes be effected by
degrees,--not with such inopportune haste as to imperil the moral
constitution of the nation. A war for independence,--a war that
obliges the race to stake its all upon the issue,--must bring about a
tightening of the old social bonds, a strong quickening of the
ancient sentiments of loyalty and duty, a reinforcement of
conservatism. This will signify retrogression in some directions; but
it will also mean invigoration in others. Before the Russian menace,
the Soul of Yamato revives again. Out of the contest Japan will come,
if successful, morally stronger than before; and a new sense of
self-confidence, a new spirit of independence, might then reveal
itself in the national attitude toward foreign policy and foreign

--There would be, of course, the danger of overconfidence.  A people
able to defeat Russian power on land and sea might be tempted to
believe themselves equally able to cope with foreign capital upon
their own territory; and every means would certainly be tried of
persuading or bullying the government [466] into some fatal
compromise on the question of the right of foreigners to hold land.
Efforts in this direction have been carried on persistently and
systematically for years; and these efforts seem to have received
some support from a class of Japanese politicians, apparently
incapable of understanding what enormous tyranny a single privileged
syndicate of foreign capital would be capable of exercising in such a
country. It appears to me that any person comprehending, even in the
vaguest way, the nature of money-power and the average conditions of
life throughout Japan, must recognize the certainty that foreign
capital, with right of land-tenure, would find means to control
legislation, to control government, and to bring about a state of
affairs that would result in the practical domination of the empire
by alien interests. I cannot resist the conviction that when Japan
yields to foreign industry the right to purchase land, she is lost
beyond hope. The self-confidence that might tempt to such yielding,
in view of immediate advantages, would be fatal. Japan has
incomparably more to fear from English or American capital than from
Russian battleships and bayonets. Behind her military capacity is the
disciplined experience of a thousand years; behind her industrial and
commercial power, the experience of half-a-century. But she has been
fully warned; and if she chooses hereafter to invite her own ruin, it
will not have [467] been for lack of counsel,--since she had the
wisest man in the world to advise her.* [*Herbert Spencer.]

To the reader of these pages, at least, the strength and the weakness
of the new social organization--its great capacities for offensive or
defensive action in military directions, and its comparative
feebleness in other directions--should now be evident. All things
considered, the marvel is that Japan should have been so well able to
hold her own; and it was assuredly no common wisdom that guided her
first unsteady efforts in new and perilous ways. Certainly her power
to accomplish what she has accomplished was derived from her old
religious and social training: she was able to keep strong because,
under the new forms of rule and the new conditions of social
activity, she could still maintain a great deal of the ancient
discipline. But even thus it was only by the firmest and shrewdest
policy that she could avert disaster,--could prevent the disruption
of her whole social structure under the weight of alien pressure. It
was imperative that vast changes should be made, but equally
imperative that they should not be of a character to endanger the
foundations; and it was above all things necessary, while preparing
for immediate necessities, to provide against future perils. Never
before, perhaps, in the history of human civilization, did any rulers
find themselves [468] obliged to cope with problems so tremendous, so
complicated, and so inexorable. And of these problems the most
inexorable remains to be solved. It is furnished by the fact that
although all the successes of Japan have been so far due to unselfish
collective action, sustained by the old Shinto ideals of duty and
obedience, her industrial future must depend upon egoistic individual
action of a totally opposite kind! * * *

What then will become of the ancient morality?--the ancient cult?

--In this moment the conditions are abnormal.  But it seems certain
that there will be, under normal conditions, a further gradual
loosening of the old family-bonds; and this would bring about a
further disintegration. By the testimony of the Japanese themselves,
such disintegration was spreading rapidly among the upper and middle
classes of the great cities, prior to the present war. Among the
people of the agricultural districts, and even in the country towns,
the old ethical order of things has yet been little affected. And
there are other influences than legislative change or social
necessity which are working for disintegration. Old beliefs have been
rudely shaken by the introduction of larger knowledge: a new
generation is being taught, in twenty-seven thousand primary schools,
the rudiments of science and the modern conception of the universe.
The [460] Buddhist cosmology, with its fantastic pictures of Mount
Meru, has become a nursery-tale; the old Chinese nature-philosophy
finds believers only among the little educated, or the survivors of
the feudal era; and the youngest schoolboy has learned that the
constellations are neither gods nor Buddhas, but far-off groups of
suns. No longer can popular fancy picture the Milky Way as the River
of Heaven; the legend of the Weaving-Maiden, and her waiting lover,
and the Bridge of Birds, is now told only to children; and the young
fisherman, though steering, like his fathers, by the light of stars,
no longer discerns in the northern sky the form of Mioken Bosatsu.

Yet it were easy to misinterpret the weakening of a certain class of
old beliefs, or the visible tendency to social change. Under any
circumstances a religion decays slowly; and the most conservative
forms of religion are the last to yield to disintegration. It were a
grave mistake to suppose that the ancestor-cult has yet been
appreciably affected by exterior influences of any kind, or to
imagine that it continues to exist merely by force of hallowed
custom, and not because the majority still believe. No religion--and
least of all the religion of the dead--could thus suddenly lose its
hold upon the affections of the race that evolved it. Even in other
directions the new scepticism is superficial: it has not spread
downwards into the core of things. There is indeed [470] a growing
class of young men with whom scepticism of a certain sort is the
fashion, and scorn of the past an affectation,--but even among these
no word of disrespect concerning the religion of the home is ever
heard. Protests against the old obligations of filial piety,
complaints of the growing weight of the family yoke, are sometimes
uttered; but the domestic cult is never spoken of lightly. As for the
communal and other public forms of Shinto, the vigour of the old
religion is sufficiently indicated by the continually increasing
number of temples. In 1897 there were 191,962 Shinto temples; in 1901
there were 195,256.

It seems probable that such changes as must occur in the near future
will be social rather than religious; and there is little reason to
believe that these changes--however they may tend to weaken filial
piety in sundry directions--will seriously affect the ancestor-cult
itself. The weight of the family-bond, aggravated by the increasing
difficulty and cost of life, may be more and more lightened for the
individual; but no legislation can abolish the sentiment of duty to
the dead. When that sentiment utterly fails, the heart of a nation
will have ceased to beat. Belief in the old gods, as gods, may slowly
pass; but Shinto may live on as the Religion of the Fatherland, a
religion of heroes and patriots; and the likelihood of such future
modification is indicated by the memorial character of many new

[471]--It has been much asserted of late years (chiefly because of
the profound impression made by Mr. Percival Lowell's Soul of the Far
East) that Japan is desperately in need of a Gospel of Individualism;
and many pious persons assume that the conversion of the country to
Christianity would suffice to produce the Individualism. This
assumption has nothing to rest on except the old superstition that
national customs and habits and modes of feeling, slowly shaped in
the course of thousands of years, can be suddenly transformed by a
mere act of faith. Those further dissolutions of the old order which
would render possible, under normal conditions, a higher social
energy, can be safely brought about through industrialism
only,--through the working of necessities that enforce competitive
enterprise and commercial expansion. A long peace will be required
for such healthy transformation; and it is not impossible that an
independent and progressive Japan would then consider questions of
religious change from the standpoint of political expediency.
Observation and study abroad may have unduly impressed Japanese
statesmen with the half-truth so forcibly uttered by Michelet,--that
"money has a religion,"--that "capital is Protestant,"--that the
power and wealth and intellectual energy of the world belong to the
races who cast off the yoke of Rome, and freed themselves from the
creed of the Middle [472] Ages.* A Japanese statesman is said to have
lately declared that his countrymen were "rapidly drifting towards
Christianity"! Newspaper reports of eminent utterances are not often
trustworthy; but the report in this case is probably accurate, and
the utterance intended to suggest possibilities. Since the
declaration of the Anglo-Japanese alliance, there has been a
remarkable softening in the attitude of safe conservatism which the
government formerly maintained toward Western religion.... But as for
the question whether the Japanese nation will ever adopt an alien
creed under official encouragement, I think that the sociological
answer is evident. Any understanding of the fundamental structure of
society should make equally obvious the imprudence of attempting
hasty transformations, and the impossibility of effecting them. For
the present, at least, the religious question in Japan is a question
of social integrity; and any efforts to precipitate the natural
course of change can result only in provoking reaction and disorder.
I believe that the time is far away at which Japan can venture to
abandon the policy of [473] caution that has served her so well. I
believe that the day on which she adopts a Western creed, her
immemorial dynasty is doomed; and I cannot help fearing that whenever
she yields to foreign capital the right to hold so much as one rood
of her soil, she signs away her birthright beyond hope of recovery.

[*No inferences can be safely drawn from the apparent attitude of the
government towards religious bodies in Japan. Of late years the
seeming policy has been to encourage the less tolerant forms of
Western religion. In curious contrast to this attitude is the
non-toleration of Freemasonry. Strictly speaking, Freemasonry is not
allowed in Japan--although, since the abolition of exterritoriality,
the foreign lodges at the open ports have been permitted (or rather,
suffered) to exist upon certain conditions. A Japanese in Europe or
America is free to become a Mason; but he cannot become a Mason in
Japan, where the proceedings of all societies must remain open to
official surveillance.]

                            *   *

With a few general remarks upon the religion of the Far East, in its
relation to Occidental aggressions, this attempt at interpretation
may fitly conclude.

--All the societies of the Far East are founded, like that of Japan,
upon ancestor-worship. This ancient religion, in various forms,
represents their moral experience; and it offers everywhere to the
introduction of Christianity, as now intolerantly preached, obstacles
of the most serious kind. Attacks upon it must seem, to those whose
lives are directed by it, the greatest of outrages and the most
unpardonable of crimes. A religion for which every member of a
community believes it his duty to die at call, is a religion for
which he will fight. His patience with attacks upon it will depend
upon the degree of his intelligence and the nature of his training.
All the races of the Far East have not the intelligence of the
Japanese, nor have they been equally well trained, under ages of
military discipline, to adapt their conduct to circumstances. For
[474] the Chinese peasant, in especial, attacks upon his religion are
intolerable. His cult remains the most precious of his possessions,
and his supreme guide in all matters of social right and wrong. The
East has been tolerant of all creeds which do not assault the
foundations of its societies; and if Western missions had been wise
enough to leave those foundations alone,--to deal with the
ancestor-cult as Buddhism did, and to show the same spirit of
tolerance in other directions,--the introduction of Christianity upon
a very extensive scale should have proved a matter of no difficulty.
That the result would have been a Christianity differing considerably
from Western Christianity is obvious,--the structure of Far-Eastern
society not admitting of sudden transformations;--but the essentials
of doctrine might have been widely propagated, without exciting
social antagonism, much less race-hatred. To-day it is probably
impossible to undo what the sterile labour of intolerance has already
done. The hatred of Western religion in China and adjacent countries
is undoubtedly due to the needless and implacable attacks which have
been made upon the ancestor-cult. To demand of a Chinese or an
Annamese that he cast away or destroy his ancestral tablets is not
less irrational and inhuman than it would be to demand of an
Englishman or a Frenchman that he destroy his mother's tombstone in
proof of his devotion to Christianity. [475] Nay, it is much more
inhuman,--for the European attaches to the funeral monument no such
idea of sacredness as that which attaches, in Eastern belief, to the
simple tablet inscribed with the name of the dead parent. From old
time these attacks upon the domestic faith of docile and peaceful
communities have provoked massacres; and, if persisted in, they will
continue to provoke massacres while the people have strength left to
strike. How foreign religious aggression is answered by native
religious aggression; and how Christian military power avenges the
foreign victims with tenfold slaughter and strong robbery, need not
here be recorded. It has not been in these years only that
ancestor-worshipping peoples have been slaughtered, impoverished, or
subjugated in revenge for the uprisings that missionary intolerance
provokes. But while Western trade and commerce directly gain by these
revenges, Western public opinion will suffer no discussion of the
right of provocation or the justice of retaliation. The less tolerant
religious bodies call it a wickedness even to raise the question of
moral right; and against the impartial observer, who dares to lift
his voice in protest, fanaticism turns as ferociously as if he were
proved an enemy of the human race.

From the sociological point of view the whole missionary system,
irrespective of sect and creed, represents the skirmishing-force of
Western civilization in its general attack upon all civilizations of
the [476] ancient type,--the first line in the forward movement of
the strongest and most highly evolved societies upon the weaker and
less evolved. The conscious work of these fighters is that of
preachers and teachers; their unconscious work is that of sappers and
destroyers. The subjugation of weak races has been aided by their
work to a degree little imagined; and by no other conceivable means
could it have been accomplished so quickly and so surely. For
destruction they labour unknowingly, like a force of nature. Yet
Christianity does not appreciably expand. They perish; and they
really lay down their lives, with more than the courage of soldiers,
not, as they hope, to assist the spread of that doctrine which the
East must still of necessity refuse, but to help industrial
enterprise and Occidental aggrandizement. The real and avowed object
of missions is defeated by persistent indifference to sociological
truths; and the martyrdoms and sacrifices are utilized by Christian
nations for ends essentially opposed to the spirit of Christianity.

Needless to say that the aggressions of race upon race are fully in
accord with the universal law of struggle,--that perpetual struggle
in which only the more capable survive. Inferior races must become
subservient to higher races, or disappear before them; and ancient
types of civilization, too rigid for progress, must yield to the
pressure of more efficient and [477] more complex civilizations. The
law is pitiless and plain: its operations may be mercifully modified,
but never prevented, by humane consideration.

Yet for no generous thinker can the ethical questions involved be
thus easily settled. We are not justified in holding that the
inevitable is morally ordained,--much less that, because the higher
races happen to be on the winning side in the world-struggle, might
can ever constitute right. Human progress has been achieved by
denying the law of the stronger,--by battling against those impulses
to crush the weak, to prey upon the helpless, which rule in the world
of the brute, and are no less in accord with the natural order than
are the courses of the stars. All virtues and restraints making
civilization possible have been developed in the teeth of natural
law. Those races which lead are the races who first learned that the
highest power is acquired by the exercise of forbearance, and that
liberty is best maintained by the protection of the weak, and by the
strong repression of injustice. Unless we be ready to deny the whole
of the moral experience thus gained,--unless we are willing to assert
that the religion in which it has been expressed is only the creed of
a particular civilization, and not a religion of humanity,--it were
difficult to imagine any ethical justification for the aggressions
made upon alien peoples in the name of Christianity and
enlightenment. Certainly the results in China of such aggression
[478] have not been Christianity nor enlightenment, but revolts,
massacres, detestable cruelties,--the destruction of cities, the
devastation of provinces, the loss of tens of thousands of lives, the
extortion of hundreds of millions of money. If all this be right,
then might is might indeed; and our professed religion of humanity
and justice is proved to be as exclusive as any primitive cult, and
intended to regulate conduct only as between members of the same

But to the evolutionist, at least, the matter appears in a very
different light. The plain teaching of sociology is that the higher
races cannot with impunity cast aside their moral experience in
dealing with feebler races, and that Western civilization will have
to pay, sooner or later, the full penalty of its deeds of oppression.
Nations that, while refusing to endure religious intolerance at home,
steadily maintain religious intolerance abroad, must eventually lose
those rights of intellectual freedom which cost so many centuries of
atrocious struggle to win. Perhaps the period of the penalty is not
very far away. With the return of all Europe to militant conditions,
there has set in a vast ecclesiastical revival of which the menace to
human liberty is unmistakable; the spirit of the Middle Ages
threatens to prevail again; and anti-semitism has actually become a
factor in the politics of three Continental powers....

[479]--It has been well said that no man can estimate the force of a
religious conviction until he has tried to oppose it. Probably no man
can imagine the wicked side of convention upon the subject of
missions until the masked batteries of its malevolence have been
trained against him. Yet the question of mission-policy cannot be
answered either by secret slander or by public abuse of the person
raising it. To-day it has become a question that concerns the peace
of the world, the future of commerce, and the interests of
civilization. The integrity of China depends upon it; and the present
war is not foreign to it. Perhaps this book, in spite of many
shortcomings, will not fail to convince some thoughtful persons that
the constitution of Far-Eastern society presents insuperable
obstacles to the propaganda of Western religion, as hitherto
conducted; that these obstacles now demand, more than at any previous
epoch, the most careful and humane consideration; and that the
further needless maintenance of an uncompromising attitude towards
them can result in nothing but evil. Whatever the religion of
ancestors may have been thousands of years ago, to-day throughout the
Far East it is the religion of family affection and duty; and by
inhumanly ignoring this fact, Western zealots can scarcely fail to
provoke a few more "Boxer" uprisings. The real power to force upon
the world a peril from China (now that the chance seems lost for
Russia) should [480] not be suffered to rest with those who demand
religious tolerance for the purpose of preaching intolerance. Never
will the East turn Christian while dogmatism requires the convert to
deny his ancient obligation to the family, the community, and the
government,--and further insists that he prove his zeal for an alien
creed by destroying the tablets of his ancestors, and outraging the
memory of those who gave him life.




Some five years ago I was told by an American professor, then
residing in Tokyo, that after Herbert Spencer's death there would be
published a letter of advice, which the philosopher had addressed to
a Japanese statesman, concerning the policy by which the Empire might
be able to preserve its independence. I was not able to obtain any
further information; but I felt tolerably sure, remembering the
statement regarding Japanese social disintegration in "First
Principles" (section 178), that the advice would prove to have been
of the most conservative kind. As a matter of fact it was even more
conservative than I had imagined.

Herbert Spencer died on the morning of December 8th, 1903 (while this
book was in course of preparation); and the letter, addressed to
Baron Kaneko Kentaro, under circumstances with which the public have
already been made familiar, was published in the London Times of
January 18th, 1904.

                                     FAIRFIELD, PEWSEY, WILTS,
                                           Aug.  26, 1892.

MY DEAR SIR,--Your proposal to send translations of my two
letters* to Count Ito, the newly-appointed Prime Minister,
is quite satisfactory.  I very willingly give my assent.

[*These letters have not as yet been made public.]

Respecting the further questions you ask, let me, in the first
place, answer generally that the Japanese policy should, I think,
be that of keeping Americans and Europeans as much as possible at
arm's length.  In presence of the more powerful races your
position is one of chronic danger, and you should take every
precaution to give as little foothold as possible to foreigners.

[482] It seems to me that the only forms of intercourse which you may
with advantage permit are those which are indispensable for the
exchange of commodities--importation and exportation of physical and
mental products. No further privileges should be allowed to people of
other races, and especially to people of the more powerful races,
than is absolutely needful for the achievement of these ends.
Apparently you are proposing by revision of the treaty with the
Powers of Europe and America "to open the whole Empire to foreigners
and foreign capital." I regret this as a fatal policy. If you wish to
see what is likely to happen, study the history of India. Once let
one of the more powerful races gain a point d'appui and there will
inevitably in course of time grow up an aggressive policy which will
lead to collisions with the Japanese; these collisions will be
represented as attacks by the Japanese which must be avenged, as the
case may be; a portion of territory will be seized and required to be
made over as a foreign settlement; and from this there will grow
eventually subjugation of the entire Japanese Empire. I believe that
you will have great difficulty in avoiding this fate in any case, but
you will make the process easy if you allow of any privileges to
foreigners beyond those which I have indicated.

In pursuance of the advice thus generally indicated, I should say, in
answer to your first question, that there should be, not only a
prohibition of foreign persons to hold property in land, but also a
refusal to give them leases, and a permission only to reside as
annual tenants.

To the second question I should say decidedly prohibit to foreigners
the working of the mines owned or worked by Government. Here there
would be obviously liable to arise grounds of difference between the
Europeans or Americans who worked them and the Government, and these
grounds of quarrel would be followed by invocations to the English or
American Governments or other Powers to send forces to insist on
whatever the European workers claimed, for always the habit here and
elsewhere among the civilized peoples is to believe what their agents
or sellers abroad represent to them.

In the third place, in pursuance of the policy I have indicated, you
ought also to keep the coasting trade in your own hands and forbid
foreigners to engage in it. This coasting trade is clearly not
included in the requirement I have indicated as the sole one to be
recognized--a requirement to facilitate exportation and importation
[483] of commodities. The distribution of commodities brought to
Japan from other places may be properly left to the Japanese
themselves, and should be denied to foreigners, for the reason that
again the various transactions involved would become so many doors
open to quarrels and resulting aggressions.

To your remaining question respecting the intermarriage of foreigners
and Japanese, which you say is "now very much agitated among our
scholars and politicians" and which you say is "one of the most
difficult problems," my reply is that, as rationally answered, there
is no difficulty at all. It should be positively forbidden. It is not
at root a question of social philosophy. It is at root a question of
biology. There is abundant proof, alike furnished by the
intermarriages of human races and by the interbreeding of animals,
that when the varieties mingled diverge beyond a certain slight
degree the result is inevitably a bad one in the long run. I have
myself been in the habit of looking at the evidence bearing on this
matter for many years past, and my conviction is based on numerous
facts derived from numerous sources. This conviction I have within
the last half-hour verified, for I happen to be staying in the
country with a gentleman who is well known and has had much
experience respecting the interbreeding of cattle; and he has just,
on inquiry, fully confirmed my belief that when, say of the different
varieties of sheep, there is an interbreeding of those which are
widely unlike, the result, especially in the second generation, is a
bad one--there arise an incalculable mixture of traits, and what may
be called a chaotic constitution. And the same thing happens among
human beings--the Eurasians in India, the half-breeds in America,
show this. The physiological basis of this experience appears to be
that any one variety of creature in course of many generations
acquires a certain constitutional adaptation to its particular form
of life, and every other variety similarly acquires its own special
adaptation. The consequence is that, if you mix the constitution of
two widely divergent varieties which have severally become adapted to
widely divergent modes of life, you get a constitution which is
adapted to the mode of life of neither--a constitution which will not
work properly, because it is not fitted for any set of conditions
whatever. By all means, therefore, peremptorily interdict marriages
of Japanese with foreigners.

I have for the reasons indicated entirely approved of the regulations
which have been established in America for restraining the Chinese
immigration, and had I the power I would restrict them [484] to the
smallest possible amount, my reasons for this decision being that one
of two things must happen. If the Chinese are allowed to settle
extensively in America, they must either, if they remain unmixed,
form a subject race standing in the position, if not of slaves, yet
of a class approaching to slaves; or if they mix they must form a bad
hybrid. In either case, supposing the immigration to be large,
immense social mischief must arise, and eventually social
disorganization. The same thing will happen if there should be any
considerable mixture of European or American races with the Japanese.

You see, therefore, that my advice is strongly conservative in all
directions, and I end by saying as I began--keep other races at arm's
length as much as possible.

I give this advice in confidence.  I wish that it should not
transpire publicly, at any rate during my life, for I do not
desire to rouse the animosity of my fellow-countrymen.

        I am sincerely yours,              HERBERT SPENCER.

P.S.--Of course, when I say I wish this advice to be in confidence,
I do not interdict the communication of it to Count Ito, but rather
wish that he should have the opportunity of taking it into

How fairly Herbert Spencer understood the prejudices of his
countrymen has been shown by the comments of the Times upon this
letter,--comments chiefly characterized by that unreasoning quality
of abuse with which the English conventional mind commonly resents
the pain of a new idea opposed to immediate interests. Yet some
knowledge of the real facts in the case should serve to convince even
the Times that if Japan is able in this moment to fight for the cause
of civilization in general, and for English interests in particular,
it is precisely because the Japanese statesmen of a wiser generation
maintained a sound conservative policy upon the very lines indicated
in that letter--so unjustly called a proof of "colossal egotism."

Whether the advice itself directly served at any time to influence
government policy, I do not know. But that it fully accorded with the
national instinct of self-preservation, is shown by the history [485]
of that fierce opposition which the advocates of the abolition of
extra-territoriality had to encounter, and by the nature of the
precautionary legislation enacted in regard to those very matters
dwelt upon in Herbert Spencer's letter, Though extra-territoriality
has been (unavoidably, perhaps) abolished, foreign capital has not
been left free to exploit the resources of the country; and
foreigners are not allowed to own land. Though marriages between
Japanese and foreigners have never been forbidden,* they have never
been encouraged, and can take place only under special legal
restrictions. If foreigners could have acquired, through marriage,
the right to hold Japanese real estate, a considerable amount of such
estate would soon have passed into alien hands. But the law has
wisely provided that the Japanese woman marrying a foreigner thereby
becomes a foreigner, and that the children by such a marriage remain
foreigners. On the other hand, any foreigner adopted by marriage into
a Japanese family becomes a Japanese; and the children in such event
remain Japanese. But they also remain under certain disabilities:
they are precluded from holding high offices of state; and they
cannot even become officers of the army or navy except by special
permission. (This permission appears to have been accorded in one or
two cases.) Finally, it is to be observed that Japan has kept her
coasting-trade in her own hands.

[*The number of families in Tokyo representing such unions is said to
be over one hundred.]

On the whole, then, it may be said that Japanese policy followed, to
a considerable extent, the course suggested in Herbert Spencer's
letter of advice; and it is much to be regretted, in my humble
opinion, that the advice could not have been followed more closely.
Could the philosopher have lived to hear of the recent Japanese
victories,--the defeat of a powerful Russian fleet without the loss
of a single Japanese vessel, and the rout of thirty thousand Russian
troops on the Yalu,--I do not think that he would have changed his
counsel by a hair's-breadth. Perhaps he would have commended, [486]
so far as his humanitarian conscience permitted, the thoroughness of
the Japanese study of the new science of war: he might have praised
the high courage displayed, and the triumph of the ancient
discipline;--his sympathies would have been on the side of the
country compelled to choose between the necessities of inviting a
protectorate or fighting Russia. But had he been questioned again as
to the policy of the future, in case of victory, he would probably
have reminded the questioner that military efficiency is a very
different thing from industrial power, and have vigorously repeated
his warning. Understanding the structure and the history of Japanese
society, he could clearly perceive the dangers of foreign contact,
and the directions from which attempts to take advantage of the
industrial weakness of the country were likely to be made.... In
another generation Japan will be able, without peril, to abandon much
of her conservatism; but, for the time being, her conservatism is her



In the preparation of this essay, I have been much indebted to
the "Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan", and
especially to the following contributions:--

                 (ON THE SUBJECT OF SHINTO)

"The Revival of Pure Shinto," by Sir Ernest Satow,--Appendix to
Vol. III.

"The Shinto Temples of Ise," by Satow,--Vol. II.

"Ancient Japanese Rituals," by Satow,--Vols. VII and IX.

"Japanese Funeral Rites," by A. H. Lay,--Vol. XIX.


"Notes on Land Tenure and Local Institutions in Old Japan," by
Dr. D. B. Simmons.  Edited by Professor J. H. Wigmore,--Vol. XIX.

"Materials for the Study of Private Law in Old Japan," by
Professor J. H. Wigmore,--Vol. XX, Supplements 1, 2, 3, 5.


"The Church at Yamaguchi from 1550 to 1586," by Satow,--Vol. VII.

"Review of the Introduction of Christianity into China and
Japan," by J. H. Gubbins,--Vol. VI.

"Historical Notes on Nagasaki," by W. A. Wooley,--Vol. IX.

"The Arima Rebellion," by Dr. Geertz,--Vol. IX.


"Early Japanese History," by W. G. Aston,--Vol. XVI.

"The Feudal System of Japan under the Tokugawa Shoguns," by J. H.
Gubbins,--Vol. XV.

--The extracts quoted from "The Legacy of Iyeyasu" have been
taken from the translation made by J. F. Lowder.

--I regret not having been able, in preparing this essay, to
avail myself of the very remarkable "History of Japan during the
Century of Early Foreign Intercourse (1542-1651),"--by James
Murdoch and Isoh Yamagata,--which was published at Kobe last
winter.  This important work contains much documentary material
never before printed, and throws new light upon the religious
history of the period.  The authors are inclined to believe that,
allowing for numerous apostasies, the total number of Christians
in Japan at no time much exceeded 300,000; and the reasons given
for this opinion, if not conclusive, are at least very strong.
Perhaps the most interesting chapters are those dealing with the
Machiavellian policy of Hideyoshi in his attitude to the foreign
religion and its preachers, but there are few dull pages in the
book.  Help to a correct understanding of the history of the time
is furnished by an excellent set of maps, showing the
distribution of the great fiefs and the political partition of
the country before and after the establishment of the Tokugawa
Shogunate.  Not the least merit of the work is its absolute
freedom from religious bias of any sort.


Ability, slight opportunity for, to rise, 410-411.

Adams, Will, 254, 313; interviewed by Iyeyasu, 314-316, favoured
    by the Emperor, 316-317; quoted concerning Hideyori's intrigues
    and fate.  322-323.

Adoption, custom of, in patriarchal family, 59, 64-65; marriage
    signified merely, 64; modern practices regarding, 386.

Adultery, enactments of Iyeyasu regarding, 345-346.

Affection, limitations placed on, 69 ff.

Age of the Gods, period called the, 259.

Agnosticism, Buddhism is not.  213, 220.

Agriculture, gods of, 126, 153-154; no degradation attached to
    pursuit of, 245.

Akindo, the commercial class, 246-247.  See Commerce.

Alcestis, the Japanese woman might be compared to, 366.

Ancestors, imperial, worship of the, 108-123, 279-280.

Ancestor-worship, introduction to religion of, 21-32; the real
    religion of Japan, 21; summary of the three forms of, 21-22;
    the family-cult of, 21-22, 25-26; characteristics of earliest,
    24 ff.; stability of, in Japan for two thousand years, 32;
    summary of beliefs surviving from, 31; three stages of, 33-34;
    evolution of permanent form from funeral-rites, 34-51:
    characteristics of religion of, to-day, 51-53; bearing of, on
    family-organization of, 55 ff. ; marriage under the religion
    of, 107 ff. ; four classes of, to-day, 123-124; accommodation
    of Buddhism to, 183-184; toleration of ancient European, by
    Roman Catholicism, 191; Buddhist theory of rebirths reconciled
    to, 195 n.; Confucian system founded on, 177-178, 292; needless
    attacks on, account for smallness of result, of modern missions,
    339, 473-475; protection of, by modern laws, 385-388; obstacles
    presented to Christianity by, 473-475.

"Ancient Japanese Rituals", 43 n. See Satow.

Animals, absence of cruelty to, 12-13; kindness to, taught by
    Buddhism, 196-197.

Animism, development of, 131-132.

Antigone, comparison of the Japanese woman to, 366.

Apes, images of Koshin's symbolic, 200.

Apprentices, obligation of, to avenge masters, 293; past and
    present position of, 406.

Architecture, displayed in Buddhist temples, 199-200.

Arima, lord of Shimabara, 324, 325.

Army, birth of modern, 376: pay of officers in, 412.

Art, knowledge of Japanese religion necessary to understanding
    of, 2-3; introduction by Buddhism, 197-198, 204, 459; forms of,
    in Buddhist temples, 198-199; expulsion of Jesuits, a fortunate
    thing for, 341-342; causes which tended to production of a
    multitude of objects of, 356; effect of modern industrial
    conditions on, 451.

Artizans, gods of, 124-125; clans of, 235; position of, under
    quasi-feudal system, 245-246; organizations of, see Guilds.

Arts, developed in Japan under Buddhist teaching, 188; progress
    of the, under Iyeyasu, 279.

Asada, Lieutenant, suicide of widow of, 289.

Asceticism, Shinto, 149-150.

Ashikaga shogunate, 271-273.  Sec undo Iyeyasu.

Aston, W.G., translation of the Nihongi by, cited, 38, 39, 112 n.,
    151 n., 164 n., 232 n., 234 n.; "Early Japanese History"
    by, cited, 259 n.

Bambetsu, "Foreign Branch", the mass of people, 235-236.

Banishment, punishment by, 96-99.

Banner-supporters (hatamoto), 243.

Bateren, Roman Catholic priests, 311 n.

Bato-Kwannon, images of, 200.

Behaviour, sumptuary regulations as to, 173-174; proclamation of
    Shotoku Taishi regarding, 359-360.

Births, regulations as to presents on occasions of, 165;
    registration of, by Buddhist priests, 203-204.

Black, an Englishman, as a Japanese story-teller, 10-11.

Bon-odori, dances of the festival of the dead, 202.

Boundaries, gods of, 130.

Bow, etiquette of the, 174.

Boys, conduct of, regulated by the community, 89-90; proverb
    regarding mischievousness of, 421.

Buddhism, Japanese name for (Butsudo), 21; mortuary tablets of,
    42-43, 201; the dead according to, and Shinto, 47-48; entry of,
    into Japan, 183-184; disestablishment of (1871), 107-109; charm
    of, to Western thinkers, 209-210; summary of teachings of,
    under Emperor Temmu, 239; obstacles to establishment of
    religious hierarchy by, 251; military development of, 269-270;
    violent end to militant, 275-276; jesuitism mistaken for a new
    kind of, 332-334; no essential of Shinto weakened by, 379-380.

Buke, the military class, 241.

Butsudan, household-shrine, 42.

Butsudo, "The Way of the Buddha", 21.

Capital, danger to Japan from foreign, 465-466, 473.

Carpenters, religious rites preformed by, 125; organizations of,

Castes, division of society into, 236.

Cauldron and saucepan, god of the, 129.

Celibacy, forbidden by early religion, 58; condemned by code of
    Iyeyasu, 349.

Charms, to protect houses, 147 n.

Chastisement, punishment by, 95-96, 421.

Chiara, Giuseppe, 327 n.

Chieftainship, hereditary, 235.

China, date of introduction of spirit-tablet from, 24; religion
    of filial piety in, 49-50; belief as to the Demon-Gate imported
    from, 130; penal codes imported from, 176; arts and learning
    of, taught by Buddhism, 201; civilization of, brought to Japan
    by Buddhism, 203; harakiri, perhaps introduced from, 286;
    Jesuit policy in, 331; cause for hatred of Western religion in,
    474; integrity of, depends on mission-policy, 479-480.

Chori, pariahs, 247-250.

Chosku, clan of, 367, 368, 372, 374.

"Chronicles of Nihon", see Nihongi.

Christianity, assumption that individualism would be produced by,
    471; obstacles to, presented by religion of ancestor-worship,
    479-481.  See Jesuits and Missions.

Chi-U, the condition of, 191 n.

Circle of Perpetual Hunger for wicked ghosts, 191.

Clan, cult of the, 81-83.

Clans, number of, in ancient Japan, 83; three great classes of,
    235-236; early society an aggregation of, 236-237, 252-253;
    wars between the military, for supremacy, 267 ff.; misery one
    result of break-up of, 447-449.

Cleanliness exacted by Shinto, 145-146.

Coffins, size regulated by law, 179.

Colour-prints, production of, 357.

Commerce, contempt for, 246; Portuguese, a help to Jesuit
    missionary work, 334-335; rise to power, 446; dangers resulting
    from the rise of, 447-452.

Communism not a modern growth, 255.

Competition, undesirability of, 414-416; Government aid to
    national industrial, 451-452.

Concubines, under patriarchal system, 58, 68-69, 74; remarks of
    Iyeyasu regarding, 68, 348.

Confucianism, influence of, in Japan, 187-188, 292 ff.

Conscience, doctrine of, admitted by Buddhism, 196.

Coulanges, Fustel de, 52, 264, 449; quoted, 27, 67.

Courtesy, legal regulation of, 173-176.

Craft-gods, 124, 153-154.

Crafts, effect of Buddhism on, 188; guilds connected with, 246,
    252, 402-405.

Crucifixion of Christians at Nagasaki, 307.

Cruelty to animals, apparent absence of, 12-13; punishment of,
    after death, 197.

Daimyo, lords of provinces, 242; conversion of, to Jesuitism,
    304; Jesuits work with aid of, 304, 306,308, 339; protection of
    peasantry against, 396.

Dai-Nihon-Shi, compilation of, 370.

Dances, sacred, 142-143; of the festival of the dead, 202.

Dancing, Japanese, 202 n. 2.

Dan-no-ura, sea-fight of, 267.

Daughter, gradation of terms signifying, 171.

Daughters, sale of, 72, 75 n.

Daughters-in-law, custom as to, 64-65.

Dead, early conceptions of fate of, 25-28; rites in honour of,
    34-46; poems in praise of, 35; Buddhist doctrine of, 47;
    effects of Buddhism on worship of, 191-192.

Death, penalty of, inflicted for slight offences, 178-179;
matters relating to, regulated by law, 179.

Debtors, reduction of, to slavery, 234.

Deities, punishments by tutelar, 102-105; lesser Shinto, 108.
    See Gods and Ujigami.

Demeanour, regulation of, 173-176; cultivation of, as an art,

Demon-Gate, the, 130.

Dependants, under the patriarchal system, 76-78, 231-234;
    conservative attitude of, 400; position of employes in
    commercial houses, 406; position of maid-servants, 407-409.

Deportment, code of, 173.

Discipline, strength of, in Old Japan, 159-182.

Divination, systems of, 150-152; not used in warfare, 152.

Divorce, in ancient family system, 58, 69-70, 73, 75; the new
    laws about, 386.

Dominicans in Japan, 307; reckless zeal of, 338.

Drama, introduction by Buddhism, 204; the age of popular, 357;
incidents of real tragedy reproduced in, 290-291.

Dress, restrictions as to, 166-168.

Dutch, assistance of, in putting down Shimabara Revolt, 326-327;
    effect on status of, of Shimabara Revolt, 329-330.

Ear-Monument, the, 277.

Education, effect of Buddhism on, 202-203; introduction of modern
    system of, 376; of the State, 419-441; the sustaining of, by
    personal sacrifices, 435-436; of students abroad, 439-441.

Emma (Yama), judge of the dead, 199.

Emperor, application of term, to early rulers, incorrect, 237.

Enactments of the Kumi, 91-94.

Eta, people, the, 98, 247-250.

Etiquette, cultivation of, in Tokugawa period, 359-361.

Evolution, Buddhism a theory of, 210.

Execution, account of an early, 177-178.

Exports, rise in value of, 451.

Expression, etiquette of, 173.

Factory-life, horrors of modern, 452.

Families of the nobility, number of, 241.

Family, definition of Japanese term, 22; basis of the ancient,
    55-57; obligation to perpetuate the, 58-59; constitution of the
    patriarchal, 60-79.

Farmers, the rank of, 244-245; secured against undue oppression,
    396-397.  See Agriculture.

Father, gradation of terms signifying,  171.

Feast-days, Shinto, 103, 137:

Fencing, Japanese, an example of antipodal action, 7-8.

Festival of the dead, dances of the, 202.

Festival-processions, Shinto, 103.

Festivals of the Ujigami, 84, 137, 140-142; laws as to presents
    at boys', 165: Shin-Sho-Sai, 245; temple, 84, 459.

Feudalism, Japanese so-called, 230-238, 253.

Flower-arrangement, art of, 358-359.

Flower-daughter, the, 64.

Food, the use by ghosts of, 29-30; offerings of, to the dead, 29-30,
    45; offerings to the gods, 53 n., 138, 140, 141; for the dead
    might not be eaten by children, 51 n.: laws as to, at weddings
    and funerals, 165; offerings of, to Pretas, 191; decree
    forbidding use of flesh for, 196; Buddhist offerings of, 201;
recent increase in price of, 412 n.

"Forty-seven Ronin", story of the, 295-296: tombs of the, 297 n.

Four Deva Kings, the, 260; temple of, 200.

Franciscans in Japan, 307 ff.

Freedmen, class of, 233, 234-235.

Freemasonry in Japan, 472 n.

Fujiwara clan, rise of the, 260-261; duration of rule of, 260,
    266, 281; final degeneration of, 266-267.

Funeral-rites, ancient, 34-46.

Funerals, laws as to food at, 165; laws governing.  179.

Gardening, first development of, under Buddhism, 188; modern, 404.

Gardens, holiness of, 154.

Ghost-house, 36, 56; transformation of, into Shinto temples, 62.

Ghosts, ancestor-worship coeval with belief in, 24; identified in
    early beliefs with gods, 25, 46-48, 55.

Ghost-ships, Buddhist, 202.

Girl-priestesses in Shinto temples, 142-143.

Girls in service, position of, 407-409.

Go, definition of, 64 n.

Goblins, admitted to exist by Buddhism, 190-191.

Go-Daigo, Mikado, revolt of, against Hojo, 270; later
    vicissitudes of, 270-271.

Gods, no early difference between ghosts and, 25, 55; development
    of distinction, between greater and lesser, 25-26; early
    conceptions of, compared with Greek and Roman, 27-28: the dead
    and, 46-48; the minor, 108; all Japanese considered as, in one
    sense, 118: of crookedness, 118-119; of crafts and callings,
    118-119; number of Shinto, worshipped, 127-128; of the house,
    130-131; the great number of, 133-134; of industry, 153-154;
    identity of Shinto and Buddhist evil, 190-191.

God-shelves, 124; daily prayers before, 134-136; religious charms
    on, 147 n.

Go-Kameyama, Emperor, 272.

Go-Komatsu, Emperor, 272.

Goshi yeomanry, 243.

Go-Toba, Emperor, works at sword.  making, 245.

Go-Tsuchi-mikado, Emperor, 273.

Government, identity of, with religion, 90-91.

Graves, legal dimensions of, 179; white lanterns at, 202.

Greeks, parallels drawn between Japanese and, 15-16, 27-28, 34,
    36, 57, 59, 65, 67, 70, 78, 89, 99, 148, 169, 202 n., 229, 264,
    443-444, 446.

Guilds, 246, 252; religious organization of, 124-125; modern
workings of, 402-403.

Hachiman, the war god, 83; acknowledgment of, in Buddhism, 190.

Hades, development of belief in, 25.

Hair, class indicated by method of wearing, 233.

Harakiri, custom of, 285-286; instance of, in Russian war, 464.

Harmony, Japanese sense of, in tints and colors.  8.

Heavenly sovereigns, worship of the, 108-109; maintained through
    years of revolt, 279-280.

Heimin, "common folk", 247.

Hell, according to Buddhism, 195.

Hidetada, son of Iyeyasu, 321-322.

Hideyoshi, career of, 276-277; attitude of, toward Jesuits,

Hinin, a wandering pariah, 98; "not-human-beings", 250.

Hirata, great Shinto commentator, 27, 369; quoted, 47, 49, 56,
    111, 116, 117, 119, 120-121, 122, 134-135, 145, 161; banishment
    and death of, 372.

History, scientific knowledge of Japanese, impossible, 1;
legendary, 259-260; beginning of authentic, 260.

Hitagaki, the "human hedge", 34.

Hitogata, "mankind-shapes", 147-148.

Hitotsubashi, Shogun, 374.

Hiyei-san, monastery buildings burnt at, 275.

Hizen, clan of, 372.

Hojo, supremacy of the, 268; defeat of and extinction, 270.

Home, gods of the, 129-130.

Honesty, Japanese, 13.

Hongwanji, Shin sect of, 275.

Horyfuji, the temple called, 200.

House, building of, a religious act, 125, 130-131; gods of the, 129.

Houses, size of, prescribed by law, 164, 165, 166; of prostitution,
 enactment of Iyeyasu regarding, 347; operation of labour-unions
when building, 403-404.

Husband, seven terms for, 171.

Husbands, position of adopted, 64-65.

Huxley, T. H., quoted concerning industrial reform, 452-453.

"I", gradations of the pronoun.  171.

Ibuku Mogusa, extract from, 305.

Ihai, "soul-commemoration", Buddhist mortuary tablets, 42, 201.

Images, Buddhist, 459; setting up of, 200-201.

Imperial ancestors, worship of the, 108-109; duration of,

Individual, obligations of the, under patriarchal system, 88-99;
    relation of, to the Ujigami, 120-121; freedom of, did not
    exist, 158, 253-254; modern recognition of, 376; now free in
    theory, in practice like his forefathers, 384-387, 391-392;
    Government official authority over the, 409-416.

Individualism, assumption that Christianity would produce, 471.

Industry, developed in Japan under Buddhist teachings, 188;
    development of, under Iyeyasu, 279.

Industry, gods of, 124-125, 153-154.

Irregularity, the aesthetie value of, 8.

Ise, shrines of, 122.123-124; every Japanese expected to visit,
    123-124; worship at shrines of, 138-139.

Ishijima, suicide of wife of, 290.

Isolation, causes for policy of, 329.

Ito, Marquis, policy of, 390.

Iyemochi, Shogun, 374.

Iyeyasu, Tokugawa, apotheosis of, 127; enactment of, concerning
    rudeness, 175; powers of daimyo restricted by, 242; Will Adams
    created a samurai by, 254; sketch of career of, 277-278; decree
    of, concerning suicide, 285; decree concerning code of
    vengeance, 293; persecution of Christians by, 307, 308, 320-321;
    interviews with Will Adams, 314-315; castle of Osaka
    stormed and burnt by, 322; Legacy of, 68, 319, 345-351, 360.

Izanagi, the legend concerning, 40, 112-117.

Izumo, farming forbidden to samurai in, 244-245.

Izumo temple, the, 122; worship at, 138, 139, 142-143.

Jesuitism, effect of, on Japan, 328: causes of early success of,
    330-337; policy of, in China, 331, 337; inability of, to adapt
    itself to Japanese social conditions, 341.

Jesuits, arrival of, in Japan, 304; favoured by Nobunaga, 304-305;
    persecutions of, 304-305, 307-308; partial expulsion of, 321;
    revolt of peasantry managed by, 324-325; final crushing of, 327.

Jigai, method of suicide for women, 287.

Jimmu, Emperor, 259; offerings at tomb of, 37.

Jingo, Emperor, legend of Korean conquest by, 259.

Jinrikisha-men, code of, 401-402.

Jito, Empress, edict of, concerning slavery, 234 n.

Jizo, playmate of infant ghosts, 199; first production of icons
    of, 200.

Joyousness of existence, Japanese, 12-13.

Junshi, voluntary self-sacrifice, 39-40; decree of Iyeyasu puts
    stop to, 285-286.

Kami, "gods", 27; significance of, 46-47; devotion to, the first
    of duties according to Iyeyasu, 350.

Kannushi, office of, 138-140.

Karma, metaphysics of, 220, 221, 222, 224.

Kasuga, the deity of, 83.

Kataki-uchi, custom of, 294-295.

Kiyomasa, Kato, apotheosis of, 127.

Kobetsu, imperial families, 235.

Kobodaishi, 185.

Ko-ji-ki, "Record of Ancient Matters", 110-111, 126, 131;
    extracts from, 112-114.

Korea, Buddhism brought into Japan from (552 A.D.), 184;
    Hideyoshi's war against, 277.

Koshin, protector of highways, 200.

Kotoku, Emperor, 39, 265; edict of, concerning slaves, 232 n.

Ko-uji, "lesser families", 60, 230.

Kublai Khan, invasion by, 269.

Kuge, noble families, 241.

Kukai, founder of Shingon sect, 185.

Kumi-enactment's of, 91-92.

Kumi-system, the, 91-94, 168-169.

Kwambaku, "regent", office of the, established, 262.

Kwannon, Goddess of Mercy, 199.

"La Cite Antique", de Coulanges', cited, 27, 34, 67, 443, 449.

Landscape-gardeners, union of the, 404-405.

Language, impossibility of mastering, by adult Occidental, 9;
    conventional organization of, 170-172; rules governing use of,

Law, method and manner of administration, 351-353.

Laws, sumptuary, 164-180.

Laws of Iyeyasu, the, 278.

Laws of Shotoku Taishi, 344-345.

Legacy of Iyeyasu, 68, 319, 345-351, 360.

Libraries under the Tokugawa regime, 357, 370.

Literature, qualifications essential for an understanding of
    Japanese, 2-3; introduction of Chinese, 187-188; introduction
    or development by Buddhism, 204; under the patronage of
    Iyeyasu, 279; development of, in Tokugawa period, 357; the
    party of, 370-372, 375-376.

Mabuchi, Shinto commentator, 159-160, 260, 369.

Maid-servants, position of, 407-409.

Manners, laws as to, 173-176.

Marriage, obligatory in ancient Japan, 58; in patriarchal family,
    58-60, 64-67; signified adoption only, 64; a chief duty of
    filial piety, 65; ceremony of, 65-67; of servants, 77-78;
    modern innovations in, 385-386; service by girls merely a
    preparation for, 407-408.

Masashige, Kusunoki, 50.

Massacre of Shimabara, 325-327.

Massacres, of priests by Nobunaga, 251; caused by Christian
    attacks on domestic faiths, 475, 479.

Matsuri-goto, "matters of worship", 32.

Matsuri, temple-festivals, 84.

Meat, forbidden for food, 196-197; forbidden as offerings by
    Buddhism, 201.

Merchants, place of, in social ranking, 246; modern rise of, to
    power, 446.

Metempsychosis, no doctrine of, in Shinto, 55 ff., 189-190.

Mikado, God of the Living, 122-125; usurpation of powers of, 260-266.

Miko, girl-priestesses, 142-143.

Mimidzuka, "Ear-monument", 277.

Minamoto, regency of the, 267-268.

Mionoseki, Eta settlement at, 249.

Miracle-plays performed by Jesuits, 334.

Missions, Christian, causes of small results of modern, 339, 473-476;
   consideration of work of foreign 476-478; importance of policy of,
   in Far East, 479-480.  See Jesuits.

Mitama-San-no-tana, "shelf of the august spirits", 42.

Mitama-shiro, "spirit-substitutes", 42.

Mitamaya, "august-spirit-dwelling." 42.

Mitsukuni, Prince of Mito, 370.

Miya, "august house", 36, 42.

Money, first appearance of, 447.

Monism, higher Buddhism a species of, 210, 220-222.

Mother, nine terms signifying, 171.

Motowori, Shinto commentator, 368.

Mourning-houses, 36; Shinto temple, evolve from, 41-42.

Mythology, of the reigning house, 119; summary of the Japanese,

Nakatomi, noble family of, 241.

Nature, controlled by ghosts of ancestors, according to Shinto,
    106; Buddhist interpretation of, 192-194.

Nihongi, "Chronicles of Nihon", 110, 111, 115-116, 126; cited,
    38-39, 112 n., 164 n., 196 n., 232 n., 234 n., 360 n.

Nirvana, not preached to common Japanese people, 189, 194-195.

Nobility, origin of the, 241-242.  See Daimyo.

Nobunaga, Oda, massacres of priests by, 251; career of, 274-276;
    Jesuits favored by, 304-305.

Obedience, rules of, 48-49, 63, 157, (see Filial Piety); modern
    reversion to law of, 63, 377-378; of individual to the
    community, 89-99.

Offerings, to the dead, 37; meat forbidden as, 201.

Officers, army pay of, 412.

O-harai, ceremony of purification, 144-147.

Oho-kuni-nushi-no-Kami, 120, 122; Rough and Gentle Spirits of, 126.

Ojin, Emperor, 83; Korean immigration in reign of, 260.

Osaka, Temple of the Four Deva Kings at, 200; military headquarters
    of the Shin sect at, 275; Iyeyasu storms castle of, 322.

Ostracism, the punishment by, 95-96; student, 423-424.

O-uji, "great families", 60-62, 252.

Outcasts, the class of, 98, 247, 250.

"Outlines of the Mahayana Philosophy", Kuroda's, 214-215, 222.

Painting, effect of Buddhism on, 188; examples of, in temples,

Panama railroad, debt of, to religion of filial piety, 50.

Papacy, interference of, in Jesuit missionary system, 337-338.

Parents, rights of, in patriarchal system, 70-72.

Pariahs, class of, 98, 247-250.

Parliament, convocation of, first, 377

Peasants, revolt of, 324-325; security of, against oppression,
    395-396; in the quasi-feudal system, 244-245.  See Farmers.

Perry, Commodore, advent of, 374.

Poems in praise of the dead, 35.

Poetry, contests in, during Tokugawa period, 358.

Politeness as an art, 359-361.

Politics, modern Japanese, 389.

Pollution, death regarded as, 40-41.

Polygyny, in ancient society, 67-69.

Population, alien elements in, 16-17.

Porcelains, Japanese, 9, 356-357.

Poverty, resulting from modern industrial revolution, 446-451.

Prayer, prescribed by Hirata.  134; daily, 134-137.

Presents, sumptuary laws concerning, 165, 168.

Pretas, wicked ghosts, 191.

Priests, Shinto, office and powers of, 86-87, 101-105, 139-140;
    Buddhist, as teachers, 203-204; ranked with the samurai, 247;
    massacres of, in the sixteenth century, 251; Buddhist, as
    warriors, 269, 275-276.  See Jesuits.

Privacy, lack of, in Japan ancient and modern, 100.

Professions, under divine patronage, 153-154.

Pronouns, rules as to use of, 171.

Property, laws of succession to, in Old Japan, 72-73.

Psychology, difference between Eastern and Western, 9.

Punishment of school-children, 421-422.

Punishment, severity of, under ancient system, 94-95, 176-177; by
    communities, 94-99; by tutelar deities, 102-105; laws as to,

Purification, ceremonies of, 144-115; by ascetic practices, 148-150.

Rebirth, doctrine of, inconsistent with early Japanese beliefs, 55;
 the Buddhist idea of, and ancestor-worship, 193 n.

Reform, agitation for industrial.  452-454.

Regency, growth of the, 262-264; usurpation of power by the, 264-267.

Registrars, Buddhist priests become public, 203-204.

Relationship, gradation of nouns indicating, 171.

Religion, summary of three forms of Shinto, 21-22; of final piety,
    48-51, 57, 65, 188, 459; the basis of organization of patriarchal
    family, 57, 64; marriage a rite of, 65-67: identity of government
    with, 100, 101; metaphysics of Buddhist, 207-228; origin in, of
    customs of the vendetta, 295; tolerance of, by  Iyeyasu (except
    Roman Catholicism), 349-350; the life of the Japanese people,
    463-464; obstacles to propagation of the Western, in the Far East,
    479.  See Ancestor-worship and Missions.

Responsibility from above downward, 395-400.

"Review of the Introduction of Christianty into China and Japan",
    quoted from, 305.

Revolution, modern industrial, 445-449; dangers of a social,

Rice-pot, goddess of the, 130.

"Riddle of the Universe", Haeckel's cited, 221.

Roads, under the protection of Buddhist deities, 130.

Romans, ancient, parallels between Japanese and, 27, 29, 34, 57,
    65, 67, 70, 78, 99, 148, 169, 229, 234, 264, 443, 444, 446.

Rudeness, Japanese definition of, 175.

Russia, the war with, 462-463.

Ryobu-Shinto, establishment of; 185-186.

Sacrifices, history of all religious, traceable to offerings to
    ghosts, 30; ancient funeral, 37-38; origin of human, 284; of
    one's family, 290-291.  See Junshi.

Samurai, class of the, 243, 251; obligation of, to perform
    harakiri, 287; suppression of, 376.

Saris, Captain, account by, of an execution, 177-178; quoted, 318.

Satow, Sir Earnest, quoted, 43 n., 49, 68, 126 n., 141, 142,
    160-161, 312 n., 333.

Satsuma, clan of the, 367, 372.

Scarecrows, god of, 130, 135, 153.

Scholarship, advance of, in Tokugawa period, 369-370.

School, training of children in, 421-425.

Schools, connected with Buddhist temples, 203; Government, 424-425.

Sculpture, developed in Japan under Buddhist teachings, 188;
    displayed in roadside images, 200, 459.

Sekigahara, battle of, 278.

Self-control, legal enforcement of, 173-174.

Seppuku, Chinese term for harakiri, 287.

Servants, in Old Japan, 76-78; conservative attitude of, 400;
    position of maid, 407-408.  See Apprentices and Dependants.

"Shadow-Shogun", the, 268; deposition of, 267.

Shelf of the august spirits, 42.

Shimabara Revolt, the, 324-325.

Shimonoseki, Bombardment of, 374.

Shin, sect of, defeated by Nobunaga, 275-276.

Shinbetsu, "divine branch" of families, 235.

Shin-Shir-Sai, the Ninth Festival, 245.

Shinto, signification, 21; forms of worship, 21-22; the morals
    of, 100-101; relation to Japanese mythology to, summarized,
    115-134; origin of gods of the house in, 129-130; greater gods
    of, acknowledged by Buddhism, 190; restoration of, 374; no
    essential of Buddhism weakened by, 379-380.  See Ancestor-worship.

Shogun, authority of the, 241, 251-252: significance of term, 267;
    extension of power of the, 267-268.

Shogunate, beginning of the history of, 267; abolition of the, 374.

Shorei-Hikki, "Record of Ceremonies", 66.

Shoryobune, "ghost-ships;" 202.

Shrines, worship at, 121, 123, 138-139.

Sickness, charms against, 147-148.

Sisters of Charity, comparison of Japanese women to, 366.

Smile, rules and regulations about the, 173-174.

Socialism, not a modern growth, 255.

Societies, secret, 472 n.

Society, organization of Old Japanese, 229-258.

Sociology, difficulties in studying Japanese, 1-2.

Soga brothers, the, apotheosis of, 127.

Sohodo-no-kami, god of scarecrows.  130, 135, 153.

Son, eleven graded terms signifying, 171.

Sons-in-law, significant motto concerning, 64; customs as to,

Speech, non-existence of freedom of, 170; regulations of forms
    of, 171-173.

Spirits, Rough and Gentle, 126.

Story-teller, an Englishman who is a professional Japanese,

Strangulation, suicide by, 286.

Student-revolts, significance and results of, 398-399.

Students, private means furnished for education of, 435-436;
    education of abroad, 437-438.  See Education.

Subsidies, Government, to industries, 451.

Succession laws, in Old Japan, 72-73.

Sugiwara-no-Michizane, spirit of, 127.

Suicide, by the sword, 39-40; customs as to, 286-290; modern
    instances of female, 289; instances of, in Russian war, 464 n.
    See Harakiri and Junshi.

Sulko, Empress, 260, 261.

Suinin, Emperor, abolishes the "human hedge", 38.

Sun, daily greeting to the, 135-136.

Sun-goddess, worship of, 109-110, 116-117; acknowledged by
    Buddhism, 190; offerings of first fruits to, by Emperor, 245 n.

Surgeons, efficiency of Japanese, 441.

Sword-making, most sacred of crafts, 125, 154, 245-246.

Swords, wearing of, prohibited, 376.

Tables, mortuary, 42-43; Buddhist mortuary (ihai), 201.

Taira, rise and fall of the, 266-267.

Taishi, Shotoku, proclamation of, regarding politeness, 359-360.

Takatoki, sacrifical suicide by the sword originated by, 39.

Takayama, a Japanese Jesuit, 321.

Take-no-uji-no-Sukune, apotheosis of, 127.

"Tales of Old Japan", Mitford's, 247, 295.

Tattooing of slaves, 232.

Tea-ceremony, in Tokugawa period, 358-359.

Teachers, Buddhist priests as, 202-203; duties to, same as to
    fathers, 294; salaries of, 412; relation of, to pupils, 422;
    transformation stages in attitude of, pupils toward, 431-433.

Temmu, Emperor, decree of, forbidding use of meat, 196;
    reorganization of castes by, 236; reign of, 237.

Temple of the Four Deva Kings at Osaka, 200.

Temples, Shinto, evolved from mourning-houses, 41; Shinto parish
    dedicated to Uji-gods (Ujigami), 82-84; Shinto, of the first
    grade, 121; Shinto, classification of, 123; forms of art in
    Buddhist, 198-199; notable examples of, 200; schools connected
    with, 203; Buddhist, burned by Jesuits, 306, 308; Shinto, in
    Formosa, 388; number of Shinto, at present, 470; memorial
    character of new, 470.

Terakoya, drama of, 291.

Thieves sentenced to slavery, 234.

Togo, Vice-Admiral, reply of, to Imperial message, 463.

Tokugawa, shogunate of,  Japanese civilization reaches limit of
    development under, 343.  See Iyeyasu.

Tokyo, widespread poverty in, resulting from industrial
revolution, 446.

Tools, surprising shapes of, 7; sacredness of, 153.

Toshogu, Iyeyasu worshipped under name of, 127.

Trade, mean rank of those engaged in, 246.  See Commerce.

Tragedy, Japanese, founded on fact, 290-291.

Ujigami, original relation of community to, 81-82; as clan-deities,
    82-84; offences against, 88; relation of the individual to,
    120-121; cults of, maintained, and not supplanted, by
    Buddhism, 379.

Uneme-no-kami, Takenaka, 324.

University, students at the, 425-426.

Utensils, domestic, sacredness of, 153; art displayed in, 357.

Uyernon no Hyoge, decree concerning junshi disobeyed by, 285.

Variety to be found in Japanese form of civilization, 256-257.

Vendetta, religious origin for customs of, 295.

Vengeance, the duty of, 292-293; Iyeyasu's decree concerning code
    of, 293.

Verb, etiquette governing uses of the, 171-172.

Vice, Iyeyasu on suppression of, 346-347.

Village-laws, peasants' 395-396.

Wages of maid-servants, 408.

"Wanderings of Cain", Coleridge's, 122.

War, ten centuries of, following rise of military power, 259-267;
   against Korea, 277; with peasantry, 324-325; with Russia, 462-463.

Warfare, divination in, 152.

Way of the Buddha, the (Butsudo), 21.

Way of the Gods, the (Shinto), 21, 41.

Weddings, customs as to, 65-67; laws as to food at, 73; presents
 at, 165-166.

Whipping, infrequency of now, as punishment, 421.  See Punishments.

Wife, gradation of terms signifying, 171.

Wine, Buddhist forbids offerings of, 201.

Woman, tribute paid to the Japanese, 361-362.

Women, mourning rites intrusted to, 43; position of, in old
    Japanese family, 73-74; as priestesses, 143; forms of speech
    for use of, 172; methods of suicide for, 287; modern instances
    of suicide by, 289, 290; duty of vengeance performed by, 293.

Worship, three forms of Shinto, 21-22 (See Ancestor-worship); of
    Imperial ancestors, 108-109; of Sun-goddess, 109-110; at
    shrines, 119; phallic, 132.

Yama, judge of the dead, 198-199.

Yamaguchi, land granted to Jesuits at.  332-333.

Yamato-damashi, "The Soul of Yamato", 159.

Yedo, obligatory residence of daimyo in, 278; Iyeyasu, the
founder of, 279.

Yeizan, Buddhist high priest, 351.

Yuriaku, Emperor, deaths inflicted by, for rudeness, 176.

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