In Ghostly Japan
And it was at the hour of sunset that they came to the foot of the mountain. There was in that place no sign of life,—neither token of water, nor trace of plant, nor shadow of flying bird,— nothing but desolation rising to desolation. And the summit was lost in heaven.
Then the Bodhisattva said to his young companion:—"What you have asked to see will be shown to you. But the place of the Vision is far; and the way is rude. Follow after me, and do not fear: strength will be given you."
Twilight gloomed about them as they climbed. There was no beaten path, nor any mark of former human visitation; and the way was over an endless heaping of tumbled fragments that rolled or turned beneath the foot. Sometimes a mass dislodged would clatter down with hollow echoings;—sometimes the substance trodden would burst like an empty shell....Stars pointed and thrilled; and the darkness deepened.
"Do not fear, my son," said the Bodhisattva, guiding: "danger there is none, though the way be grim."
Under the stars they climbed,—fast, fast,—mounting by help of power superhuman. High zones of mist they passed; and they saw below them, ever widening as they climbed, a soundless flood of cloud, like the tide of a milky sea.
Hour after hour they climbed;—and forms invisible yielded to their tread with dull soft crashings;—and faint cold fires lighted and died at every breaking.
And once the pilgrim-youth laid hand on a something smooth that was not stone,—and lifted it,—and dimly saw the cheekless gibe of death.
"Linger not thus, my son!" urged the voice of the teacher;—"the summit that we must gain is very far away!"
On through the dark they climbed,—and felt continually beneath them the soft strange breakings,—and saw the icy fires worm and die,—till the rim of the night turned grey, and the stars began to fail, and the east began to bloom.
Yet still they climbed,—fast, fast,—mounting by help of power superhuman. About them now was frigidness of death,—and silence tremendous....A gold flame kindled in the east.
Then first to the pilgrim's gaze the steeps revealed their nakedness;—and a trembling seized him,—and a ghastly fear. For there was not any ground,—neither beneath him nor about him nor above him,—but a heaping only, monstrous and measureless, of skulls and fragments of skulls and dust of bone,—with a shimmer of shed teeth strown through the drift of it, like the shimmer of scrags of shell in the wrack of a tide.
"Do not fear, my son!" cried the voice of the Bodhisattva;—"only the strong of heart can win to the place of the Vision!"
Behind them the world had vanished. Nothing remained but the clouds beneath, and the sky above, and the heaping of skulls between,—up-slanting out of sight.
Then the sun climbed with the climbers; and there was no warmth in the light of him, but coldness sharp as a sword. And the horror of stupendous height, and the nightmare of stupendous depth, and the terror of silence, ever grew and grew, and weighed upon the pilgrim, and held his feet,—so that suddenly all power departed from him, and he moaned like a sleeper in dreams.
"Hasten, hasten, my son!" cried the Bodhisattva: "the day is brief, and the summit is very far away."
But the pilgrim shrieked,—"I fear! I fear unspeakably!—and the power has departed from me!"
"The power will return, my son," made answer the Bodhisattva.... "Look now below you and above you and about you, and tell me what you see."
"I cannot," cried the pilgrim, trembling and clinging; "I dare not look beneath! Before me and about me there is nothing but skulls of men."
"And yet, my son," said the Bodhisattva, laughing softly,—"and yet you do not know of what this mountain is made."
The other, shuddering, repeated:—"I fear!—unutterably I fear!...there is nothing but skulls of men!"
"A mountain of skulls it is," responded the Bodhisattva. "But know, my son, that all of them ARE YOUR OWN! Each has at some time been the nest of your dreams and delusions and desires. Not even one of them is the skull of any other being. All,—all without exception,—have been yours, in the billions of your former lives."
Recently, while passing through a little street tenanted chiefly by dealers in old wares, I noticed a furisode, or long-sleeved robe, of the rich purple tint called murasaki, hanging before one of the shops. It was a robe such as might have been worn by a lady of rank in the time of the Tokugawa. I stopped to look at the five crests upon it; and in the same moment there came to my recollection this legend of a similar robe said to have once caused the destruction of Yedo.
Nearly two hundred and fifty years ago, the daughter of a rich merchant of the city of the Shoguns, while attending some temple- festival, perceived in the crowd a young samurai of remarkable beauty, and immediately fell in love with him. Unhappily for her, he disappeared in the press before she could learn through her attendants who he was or whence he had come. But his image remained vivid in her memory,—even to the least detail of his costume. The holiday attire then worn by samurai youths was scarcely less brilliant than that of young girls; and the upper dress of this handsome stranger had seemed wonderfully beautiful to the enamoured maiden. She fancied that by wearing a robe of like quality and color, bearing the same crest, she might be able to attract his notice on some future occasion.
Accordingly she had such a robe made, with very long sleeves, according to the fashion of the period; and she prized it greatly. She wore it whenever she went out; and when at home she would suspend it in her room, and try to imagine the form of her unknown beloved within it. Sometimes she would pass hours before it,—dreaming and weeping by turns. And she would pray to the gods and the Buddhas that she might win the young man's affection,—often repeating the invocation of the Nichiren sect: Namu myo ho renge kyo!
But she never saw the youth again; and she pined with longing for him, and sickened, and died, and was buried. After her burial, the long-sleeved robe that she had so much prized was given to the Buddhist temple of which her family were parishioners. It is an old custom to thus dispose of the garments of the dead.
The priest was able to sell the robe at a good price; for it was a costly silk, and bore no trace of the tears that had fallen upon it. It was bought by a girl of about the same age as the dead lady. She wore it only one day. Then she fell sick, and began to act strangely,—crying out that she was haunted by the vision of a beautiful young man, and that for love of him she was going to die. And within a little while she died; and the long- sleeved robe was a second time presented to the temple.
Again the priest sold it; and again it became the property of a young girl, who wore it only once. Then she also sickened, and talked of a beautiful shadow, and died, and was buried. And the robe was given a third time to the temple; and the priest wondered and doubted.
Nevertheless he ventured to sell the luckless garment once more. Once more it was purchased by a girl and once more worn; and the wearer pined and died. And the robe was given a fourth time to the temple.
Then the priest felt sure that there was some evil influence at work; and he told his acolytes to make a fire in the temple- court, and to burn the robe.
So they made a fire, into which the robe was thrown. But as the silk began to burn, there suddenly appeared upon it dazzling characters of flame,—the characters of the invocation, Namu myo ho renge kyo;—and these, one by one, leaped like great sparks to the temple roof; and the temple took fire.
Embers from the burning temple presently dropped upon neighbouring roofs; and the whole street was soon ablaze. Then a sea-wind, rising, blew destruction into further streets; and the conflagration spread from street to street, and from district into district, till nearly the whole of the city was consumed. And this calamity, which occurred upon the eighteenth day of the first month of the first year of Meireki (1655), is still remembered in Tokyo as the Furisode-Kwaji,—the Great Fire of the Long-sleeved Robe.
According to a story-book called Kibun-Daijin, the name of the girl who caused the robe to be made was O-Same; and she was the daughter of Hikoyemon, a wine-merchant of Hyakusho-machi, in the district of Azabu. Because of her beauty she was also called Azabu-Komachi, or the Komachi of Azabu.(1) The same book says that the temple of the tradition was a Nichiren temple called Hon-myoji, in the district of Hongo; and that the crest upon the robe was a kikyo-flower. But there are many different versions of the story; and I distrust the Kibun-Daijin because it asserts that the beautiful samurai was not really a man, but a transformed dragon, or water-serpent, that used to inhabit the lake at Uyeno,—Shinobazu-no-Ike.
1 After more than a thousand years, the name of Komachi, or Ono-no- Komachi, is still celebrated in Japan. She was the most beautiful woman of her time, and so great a poet that she could move heaven by her verses, and cause rain to fall in time of drought. Many men loved her in vain; and many are said to have died for love of her. But misfortunes visited her when her youth had passed; and, after having been reduced to the uttermost want, she became a beggar, and died at last upon the public highway, near Kyoto. As it was thought shameful to bury her in the foul rags found upon her, some poor person gave a wornout summer-robe (katabira) to wrap her body in; and she was interred near Arashiyama at a spot still pointed out to travellers as the "Place of the Katabira" (Katabira-no-Tsuchi).
I see, rising out of darkness, a lotos in a vase. Most of the vase is invisible, but I know that it is of bronze, and that its glimpsing handles are bodies of dragons. Only the lotos is fully illuminated: three pure white flowers, and five great leaves of gold and green,—gold above, green on the upcurling under-surface,—an artificial lotos. It is bathed by a slanting stream of sunshine,— the darkness beneath and beyond is the dusk of a temple-chamber. I do not see the opening through which the radiance pours, but I am aware that it is a small window shaped in the outline-form of a temple-bell.
The reason that I see the lotos—one memory of my first visit to a Buddhist sanctuary—is that there has come to me an odor of incense. Often when I smell incense, this vision defines; and usually thereafter other sensations of my first day in Japan revive in swift succession with almost painful acuteness.
It is almost ubiquitous,—this perfume of incense. It makes one element of the faint but complex and never-to-be-forgotten odor of the Far East. It haunts the dwelling-house not less than the temple,—the home of the peasant not less than the yashiki of the prince. Shinto shrines, indeed, are free from it;—incense being an abomination to the elder gods. But wherever Buddhism lives there is incense. In every house containing a Buddhist shrine or Buddhist tablets, incense is burned at certain times; and in even the rudest country solitudes you will find incense smouldering before wayside images,—little stone figures of Fudo, Jizo, or Kwannon. Many experiences of travel,—strange impressions of sound as well as of sight,—remain associated in my own memory with that fragrance:—vast silent shadowed avenues leading to weird old shrines;—mossed flights of worn steps ascending to temples that moulder above the clouds;—joyous tumult of festival nights;—sheeted funeral-trains gliding by in glimmer of lanterns; murmur of household prayer in fishermen's huts on far wild coasts;—and visions of desolate little graves marked only by threads of blue smoke ascending,—graves of pet animals or birds remembered by simple hearts in the hour of prayer to Amida, the Lord of Immeasurable Light.
But the odor of which I speak is that of cheap incense only,—the incense in general use. There are many other kinds of incense; and the range of quality is amazing. A bundle of common incense- rods—(they are about as thick as an ordinary pencil-lead, and somewhat longer)—can be bought for a few sen; while a bundle of better quality, presenting to inexperienced eyes only some difference in color, may cost several yen, and be cheap at the price. Still costlier sorts of incense,—veritable luxuries,— take the form of lozenges, wafers, pastilles; and a small envelope of such material may be worth four or five pounds- sterling. But the commercial and industrial questions relating to Japanese incense represent the least interesting part of a remarkably curious subject.
Curious indeed, but enormous by reason of it infinity of tradition and detail. I am afraid even to think of the size of the volume that would be needed to cover it.... Such a work would properly begin with some brief account of the earliest knowledge and use of aromatics in Japan. I would next treat of the records and legends of the first introduction of Buddhist incense fron Korea,—when King Shomyo of Kudara, in 551 A. D., sent to the island-empire a collection of sutras, an image of the Buddha, and one complete set of furniture for a temple. Then something would have to be said about those classifications of incense which were made during the tenth century, in the periods of Engi and of Tenryaku,—and about the report of the ancient state-councillor, Kimitaka-Sangi, who visited China in the latter part of the thirteenth century, and transmitted to the Emperor Yomei the wisdom of the Chinese concerning incense. Then mention should be made of the ancient incenses still preserved in various Japanese temples, and of the famous fragments of ranjatai (publicly exhibited at Nara in the tenth year of Meiji) which furnished supplies to the three great captains, Nobunaga, Hideyoshi, and Iyeyasu. After this should fol-low an outline of the history of mixed incenses made in Japan,—with notes on the classifications devised by the luxurious Takauji, and on the nomenclature established later by Ashikaga Yoshimasa, who collected one hundred and thirty varieties of incense, and invented for the more precious of them names recognized even to this day,—such as "Blossom-Showering," "Smoke-of-Fuji," and "Flower-of-the-Pure- Law." Examples ought to be given likewise of traditions attaching to historical incenses preserved in several princely families, together with specimens of those hereditary recipes for incense- making which have been transmitted from generation to generation through hundreds of years, and are still called after their august inventors,—as "the Method of Hina-Dainagon," "the Method of Sento-In," etc. Recipes also should be given of those strange incenses made "to imitate the perfume of the lotos, the smell of the summer breeze, and the odor of the autumn wind." Some legends of the great period of incense-luxury should be cited,—such as the story of Sue Owari-no-Kami, who built for himself a palace of incense-woods, and set fire to it on the night of his revolt, when the smoke of its burning perfumed the land to a distance of twelve miles.... Of course the mere compilation of materials for a history of mixed-incenses would entail the study of a host of documents, treatises, and books,—particularly of such strange works as the Kun-Shu-Rui-Sho, or "Incense-Collector's Classifying-Manual";—containing the teachings of the Ten Schools of the Art of Mixing Incense; directions as to the best seasons for incense-making; and instructions about the "different kinds of fire" to be used for burning incense—(one kind is called "literary fire," and another "military fire"); together with rules for pressing the ashes of a censer into various artistic designs corresponding to season and occasion.... A special chapter should certainly be given to the incense-bags (kusadama) hung up in houses to drive away goblins,—and to the smaller incense-bags formerly carried about the person as a protection against evil spirits. Then a very large part of the work would have to be devoted to the religious uses and legends of incense, —a huge subject in itself. There would also have to be considered the curious history of the old "incense-assemblies," whose elaborate ceremonial could be explained only by help of numerous diagrams. One chapter at least would be required for the subject of the ancient importation of incense-materials from India, China, Annam, Siam, Cambodia, Ceylon, Sumatra, Java, Borneo, and various islands of the Malay archipelago,—places all named in rare books about incense. And a final chapter should treat of the romantic literature of incense,—the poems, stories, and dramas in which incense-rites are mentioned; and especially those love-songs comparing the body to incense, and passion to the eating flame:—
Even as burns the perfume lending thy robe its fragance, Smoulders my life away, consumed by the pain of longing!
....The merest outline of the subject is terrifying! I shall attempt nothing more than a few notes about the religious, the luxurious, and the ghostly uses of incense.
The common incense everywhere burned by poor people before Buddhist icons is called an-soku-ko. This is very cheap. Great quantities of it are burned by pilgrims in the bronze censers set before the entrances of famous temples; and in front of roadside images you may often see bundles of it. These are for the use of pious wayfarers, who pause before every Buddhist image on their path to repeat a brief prayer and, when possible, to set a few rods smouldering at the feet of the statue. But in rich temples, and during great religious ceremonies, much more expensive incense is used. Altogether three classes of perfumes are employed in Buddhist rites: ko, or incense-proper, in many varieties—(the word literally means only "fragrant substance"); —dzuko, an odorous ointment; and makko, a fragrant powder. Ko is burned; dzuko is rubbed upon the hands of the priest as an ointment of purification; and makko is sprinkled about the sanctuary. This makko is said to be identical with the sandalwood-powder so frequently mentioned in Buddhist texts. But it is only the true incense which can be said to bear an important relation to the religious service.
"Incense," declares the Soshi-Ryaku,(1) "is the Messenger of Earnest Desire. When the rich Sudatta wished to invite the Buddha to a repast, he made use of incense. He was wont to ascend to the roof of his house on the eve of the day of the entertainment, and to remain standing there all night, holding a censer of precious incense. And as often as he did thus, the Buddha never failed to come on the following day at the exact time desired."
This text plainly implies that incense, as a burnt-offering, symbolizes the pious desires of the faithful. But it symbolizes other things also; and it has furnished many remarkable similes to Buddhist literature. Some of these, and not the least interesting, occur in prayers, of which the following, from the book called Hoji-san (2) is a striking example:—
—"Let my body remain pure like a censer!—let my thought be ever as a fire of wisdom, purely consuming the incense of sila and of dhyana, (3) that so may I do homage to all the Buddhas in the Ten Directions of the Past, the Present, and the Future!"
Sometimes in Buddhist sermons the destruction of Karma by virtuous effort is likened to the burning of incense by a pure flame,—sometimes, again, the life of man is compared to the smoke of incense. In his "Hundred Writings "(Hyaku-tsu-kiri- kami), the Shinshu priest Myoden says, quoting from the Buddhist work Kujikkajo, or "Ninety Articles ":—
"In the burning of incense we see that so long as any incense remains, so long does the burning continue, and the smoke mount skyward. Now the breath of this body of ours,—this impermanent combination of Earth, Water, Air, and Fire,—is like that smoke. And the changing of the incense into cold ashes when the flame expires is an emblem of the changing of our bodies into ashes when our funeral pyres have burnt themselves out."
He also tells us about that Incense-Paradise of which every believer ought to be reminded by the perfume of earthly incense: —"In the Thirty- Second Vow for the Attainment of the Paradise of Wondrous Incense," he says, "it is written: 'That Paradise is formed of hundreds of thousands of different kinds of incense, and of substances incalculably precious;—the beauty of it incomparably exceeds anything in the heavens or in the sphere of man;—the fragrance of it perfumes all the worlds of the Ten Directions of Space; and all who perceive that odor practise Buddha-deeds.' In ancient times there were men of superior wisdom and virtue who, by reason of their vow, obtained perception of the odor; but we, who are born with inferior wisdom and virtue in these later days, cannot obtain such perception. Nevertheless it will be well for us, when we smell the incense kindled before the image of Amida, to imagine that its odor is the wonderful fragrance of Paradise, and to repeat the Nembutsu in gratitude for the mercy of the Buddha."
1 "Short [or Epitomized] History of Priests." 2 "The Praise of Pious Observances." 3 By sila is meant the observance of the rules of purity in act and thought. Dhyana (called by Japanese Buddhists Zenjo) is one of the higher forms of meditation.
But the use of incense in Japan is not confined to religious rites and ceremonies: indeed the costlier kinds of incense are manufactured chiefly for social entertainments. Incense-burning has been an amusement of the aristocracy ever since the thirteenth century. Probably you have heard of the Japanese tea- ceremonies, and their curious Buddhist history; and I suppose that every foreign collector of Japanese bric-a'-brac knows something about the luxury to which these ceremonies at one period attained,—a luxury well attested by the quality of the beautiful utensils formerly employed in them. But there were, and still are, incense-ceremonies much more elaborate and costly than the tea-ceremonies,—and also much more interesting. Besides music, embroidery, poetical composition and other branches of the old-fashioned female education, the young lady of pre-Meiji days was expected to acquire three especially polite accomplishments, —the art of arranging flowers, (ikebana), the art of ceremonial tea-making (cha-no-yu or cha-no-e),(1) and the etiquette of incense-parties (ko-kwai or ko-e). Incense-parties were invented before the time of the Ashikaga shoguns, and were most in vogue during the peaceful period of the Tokugawa rule. With the fall of the shogunate they went out of fashion; but recently they have been to some extent revived. It is not likely, however, that they will again become really fashionable in the old sense,—partly because they represented rare forms of social refinement that never can be revived, and partly because of their costliness.
In translating ko-kwai as "incense-party," I use the word "party" in the meaning that it takes in such compounds as "card-party," "whist-party," "chess-party";—for a ko-kwai is a meeting held only with the object of playing a game,—a very curious game. There are several kinds of incense-games; but in all of them the contest depends upon the ability to remember and to name different kinds of incense by the perfume alone. That variety of ko-kwai called Jitchu-ko ("ten-burning-incense") is generally conceded to be the most amusing; and I shall try to tell you how it is played.
The numeral "ten," in the Japanese, or rather Chinese name of this diversion, does not refer to ten kinds, but only to ten packages of incense; for Jitchu-ko, besides being the most amusing, is the very simplest of incense-games, and is played with only four kinds of incense. One kind must be supplied by the guests invited to the party; and three are furnished by the person who gives the entertainment. Each of the latter three supplies of incense—usually prepared in packages containing one hundred wafers is divided into four parts; and each part is put into a separate paper numbered or marked so as to indicate the quality. Thus four packages are prepared of the incense classed as No. 1, four of incense No. 2, and four of incense No. 3,—or twelve in all. But the incense given by the guests,—always called "guest-incense"—is not divided: it is only put into a wrapper marked with an abbreviation of the Chinese character signifying "guest." Accordingly we have a total of thirteen packages to start with; but three are to be used in the preliminary sampling, or "experimenting"—as the Japanese term it,—after the following manner.
We shall suppose the game to be arranged for a party of six,— though there is no rule limiting the number of players. The six take their places in line, or in a half-circle—if the room be small; but they do not sit close together, for reasons which will presently appear. Then the host, or the person appointed to act as incense-burner, prepares a package of the incense classed as No 1, kindles it in a censer, and passes the censer to the guest occupying the first seat, (2) with the announcement—"This is incense No 1" The guest receives the censer according to the graceful etiquette required in the ko-kwai, inhales the perfume, and passes on the vessel to his neighbor, who receives it in like manner and passes it to the third guest, who presents it to the fourth,—and so on. When the censer has gone the round of the party, it is returned to the incense-burner. One package of incense No. 2, and one of No. 3, are similarly prepared, announced, and tested. But with the "guest-incense" no experiment is made. The player should be able to remember the different odors of the incenses tested; and he is expected to identify the guest-incense at the proper time merely by the unfamiliar quality of its fragrance.
The original thirteen packages having thus by "experimenting" been reduced to ten, each player is given one set of ten small tablets—usually of gold-lacquer,—every set being differently ornamented. The backs only of these tablets are decorated; and the decoration is nearly always a floral design of some sort:— thus one set might be decorated with chrysanthemums in gold, another with tufts of iris-plants, another with a spray of plum- blossoms, etc. But the faces of the tablets bear numbers or marks; and each set comprises three tablets numbered "1," three numbered "2," three numbered "3," and one marked with the character signifying "guest." After these tablet-sets have been distributed, a box called the "tablet-box" is placed before the first player; and all is ready for the real game.
The incense-burner retires behind a little screen, shuffles the flat packages like so many cards, takes the uppermost, prepares its contents in the censer, and then, returning to the party, sends the censer upon its round. This time, of course, he does not announce what kind of incense he has used. As the censer passes from hand to hand, each player, after inhaling the fume, puts into the tablet-box one tablet bearing that mark or number which he supposes to be the mark or number of the incense he has smelled. If, for example, he thinks the incense to be "guest- incense," he drops into the box that one of his tablets marked with the ideograph meaning "guest;" or if he believes that he has inhaled the perfume of No. 2, he puts into the box a tablet numbered "2." When the round is over, tablet-box and censer are both returned to the incense-burner. He takes the six tablets out of the box, and wraps them up in the paper which contained the incense guessed about. The tablets themselves keep the personal as well as the general record,—since each player remembers the particular design upon his own set.
The remaining nine packages of incense art consumed and judged in the same way, according to the chance order in which the shuffling has placed them. When all the incense has been used, the tablets are taken out of their wrappings, the record is officially put into writing, and the victor of the day is announced. I here offer the translation of such a record: it will serve to explain, almost at a glance, all the complications of the game.
According to this record the player who used the tablets decorated with the design called "Young Pine," made but two mistakes; while the holder of the "White-Lily" set made only one correct guess. But it is quite a feat to make ten correct judgments in succession. The olfactory nerves are apt to become somewhat numbed long before the game is concluded; and, therefore it is customary during the Ko-kwai to rinse the mouth at intervals with pure vinegar, by which operation the sensitivity is partially restored.
RECORD OF A KO-KWAI.
Order in which the ten packages of incense were used:— 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Names given to the six No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. tablets used, III I GUEST II I III II I III II according to decorative designs on the back: Guesses recorded by nos. on tablet; correct being marked * No. of correct
"Gold Chrysanthemum" 1 3 1 2* Guest 1 2* 2 3* 3 3
"Young Bamboo" 3* 1* 1 2* 1* Guest 3 2 1 3 4
"Red Peony" Guest 1* 2 2* 3 1 3 2 3* 1 3
"White Lily" 1 3 1 3 2 2 1 3 Guest 2* 1
"Young Pine" 3* 1* Guest* 3 1* 2 2* 1* 3* 2* 8 (Winner)
"Cherry-Blossom -in-a-Mist" 1 3 Guest* 2* 1* 3* 1 2 3* 2* 6
NAMES OF INCENSE USED.
I. "Tasogare" ("Who-Is-there?" I. e. "Evening-Dusk"). II. "Baikwa" ("Plum Flower"). III. "Wakakusa" ("Young Grass"). IV. ("Guest Incense") "Yamaji-no-Tsuyu" ("Dew-on-the-Mountain-Path"). To the Japanese original of the foregoing record were appended the names of the players, the date of the entertainment, and the name of the place where the party was held. It is the custom In some families to enter all such records in a book especially made for the purpose, and furnished with an index which enables the Ko-kwai player to refer immediately to any interesting fact belonging to the history of any past game.
The reader will have noticed that the four kinds of incense used were designated by very pretty names. The incense first mentioned, for example, is called by the poets' name for the gloaming,—Tasogare (lit: "Who is there?" or " Who is it?")—a word which in this relation hints of the toilet-perfume that reveals some charming presence to the lover waiting in the dusk. Perhaps some curiosity will be felt regarding the composition of these incenses. I can give the Japanese recipes for two sorts; but I have not been able to identify all of the materials named:—
Recipe for Yamaji-no-Tsuyu.
Ingredients Proportions. about Jinko (aloes-wood) 4 momme (1/2 oz.) Choji (cloves) 4 " " Kunroku (olibanum) 4 " " Hakko (artemisia Schmidtiana) 4 " " Jako (musk) 1 bu (1/8 oz.) Koko(?) 4 momme (1/2 oz.)
To 21 pastilles
Recipe for Baikwa.
Ingredients Proportions. about Jinko (aloes) 20 momme (2 1/2 oz.) Choji (cloves) 12 " (1 1/2 oz.) Koko(?) 8 1/3 " (1 1/40 oz.) Byakudan (sandal-wood) 4 " (1/2 oz.) Kansho (spikenard) 2 bu (1/4 oz.) Kwakko (Bishop's-wort?) 1 bu 2 sbu (3/16 oz.) Kunroku (olibanum) 3 " 3 " (15/22 oz.) Shomokko (?) 2 " (1/4 oz.) Jako (musk) 3 " 2 sbu (7/16 oz.) Ryuno (refined Borneo Camphor) 3 sbu (3/8 oz.)
To 50 pastilles
The incense used at a Ko-kwai ranges in value, according to the style of the entertainment, from $2.50 to $30.00 per envelope of 100 wafers—wafers usually not more than one-fourth of an inch in diameter. Sometimes an incense is used worth even more than $30.00 per envelope: this contains ranjatai, an aromatic of which the perfume is compared to that of "musk mingled with orchid- flowers." But there is some incense,—never sold,—which is much more precious than ranjatai,—incense valued less for its com- position than for its history: I mean the incense brought centuries ago from China or from India by the Buddhist missionaries, and presented to princes or to other persons of high rank. Several ancient Japanese temples also include such foreign incense among their treasures. And very rarely a little of this priceless material is contributed to an incense-party,— much as in Europe, on very extraordinary occasions, some banquet is glorified by the production of a wine several hundred years old.
Like the tea-ceremonies, the Ko-kwai exact observance of a very complex and ancient etiquette. But this subject could interest few readers; and I shall only mention some of the rules regarding preparations and precautions. First of all, it is required that the person invited to an incense-party shall attend the same in as odorless a condition as possible: a lady, for instance, must not use hair-oil, or put on any dress that has been kept in a perfumed chest-of-drawers. Furthermore, the guest should prepare for the contest by taking a prolonged hot bath, and should eat only the lightest and least odorous kind of food before going to the rendezvous. It is forbidden to leave the room during the game, or to open any door or window, or to indulge in needless conversation. Finally I may observe that, while judging the incense, a player is expected to take not less than three inhalations, or more than five.
In this economical era, the Ko-kwai takes of necessity a much humbler form than it assumed in the time of the great daimyo, of the princely abbots, and of the military aristocracy. A full set of the utensils required for the game can now be had for about $50.00; but the materials are of the poorest kind. The old- fashioned sets were fantastically expensive. Some were worth thousands of dollars. The incense-burner's desk,—the writing- box, paper-box, tablet-box, etc.,—the various stands or dai,— were of the costliest gold-lacquer;—the pincers and other instruments were of gold, curiously worked;—and the censer— whether of precious metal, bronze, or porcelain,—was always a chef-d'oeuvre, designed by some artist of renown.
1 Girls are still trained in the art of arranging flowers, and in the etiquette of the dainty, though somewhat tedious, cha-no-yu. Buddhist priests have long enjoyed a reputation as teachers of the latter. When the pupil has reached a certain degree of proficiency, she is given a diploma or certificate. The tea used in these ceremonies is a powdered tea of remarkable fragrance,— the best qualities of which fetch very high prices.
2 The places occupied by guests in a Japanese zashiki, or reception room are numbered from the alcove of the apartment. The place of the most honored is immediately before the alcove: this is the first seat, and the rest are numbered from it, usually to the left.
Although the original signification of incense in Buddhist ceremonies was chiefly symbolical, there is good reason to suppose that various beliefs older than Buddhism,—some, perhaps, peculiar to the race; others probably of Chinese or Korean derivation,—began at an early period to influence the popular use of incense in Japan. Incense is still burned in the presence of a corpse with the idea that its fragrance shields both corpse and newly-parted soul from malevolent demons; and by the peasants it is often burned also to drive away goblins and the evil powers presiding over diseases. But formerly it was used to summon spirits as well as to banish them. Allusions to its employment in various weird rites may be found in some of the old dramas and romances. One particular sort of incense, imported from China, was said to have the power of calling up human spirits. This was the wizard-incense referred to in such ancient love-songs as the following:—
"I have heard of the magical incense that summons the souls of the absent: Would I had some to burn, in the nights when I wait alone!"
There is an interesting mention of this incense in the Chinese book, Shang-hai-king. It was called Fwan-hwan-hiang (by Japanese pronunciation, Hangon-ko), or "Spirit-Recalling-Incense;" and it was made in Tso-Chau, or the District of the Ancestors, situated by the Eastern Sea. To summon the ghost of any dead person—or even that of a living person, according to some authorities,—it was only necessary to kindle some of the incense, and to pronounce certain words, while keeping the mind fixed upon the memory of that person. Then, in the smoke of the incense, the remembered face and form would appear.
In many old Japanese and Chinese books mention is made of a famous story about this incense,—a story of the Chinese Emperor Wu, of the Han dynasty. When the Emperor had lost his beautiful favorite, the Lady Li, he sorrowed so much that fears were entertained for his reason. But all efforts made to divert his mind from the thought of her proved unavailing. One day he ordered some Spirit-Recalling-Incense to be procured, that he might summon her from the dead. His counsellors prayed him to forego his purpose, declaring that the vision could only intensify his grief. But he gave no heed to their advice, and himself performed the rite,—kindling the incense, and keeping his mind fixed upon the memory of the Lady Li. Presently, within the thick blue smoke arising from the incense, the outline, of a feminine form became visible. It defined, took tints of life, slowly became luminous, and the Emperor recognized the form of his beloved At first the apparition was faint; but it soon became distinct as a living person, and seemed with each moment to grow more beautiful. The Emperor whispered to the vision, but received no answer. He called aloud, and the presence made no sign. Then unable to control himself, he approached the censer. But the instant that he touched the smoke, the phantom trembled and vanished.
Japanese artists are still occasionally inspired by the legends of the Hangon-ho. Only last year, in Tokyo, at an exhibition of new kakemono, I saw a picture of a young wife kneeling before an alcove wherein the smoke of the magical incense was shaping the shadow of the absent husband.(1)
Although the power of making visible the forms of the dead has been claimed for one sort of incense only, the burning of any kind of incense is supposed to summon viewless spirits in multitude. These come to devour the smoke. They are called Jiki- ko-ki, or "incense-eating goblins;" and they belong to the fourteenth of the thirty-six classes of Gaki (pretas) recognized by Japanese Buddhism. They are the ghosts of men who anciently, for the sake of gain, made or sold bad incense; and by the evil karma of that action they now find themselves in the state of hunger-suffering spirits, and compelled to seek their only food in the smoke of incense.
1 Among the curious Tokyo inventions of 1898 was a new variety of cigarettes called Hangon-so, or "Herb of Hangon,"—a name suggesting that their smoke operated like the spirit-summoning incense. As a matter of fact, the chemical action of the tobacco- smoke would define, upon a paper fitted into the mouth-piece of each cigarette, the photographic image of a dancing-girl.
A Story of Divination
I once knew a fortune-teller who really believed in the science that he professed. He had learned, as a student of the old Chinese philosophy, to believe in divination long before he thought of practising it. During his youth he had been in the service of a wealthy daimyo, but subsequently, like thousands of other samurai, found himself reduced to desperate straits by the social and political changes of Meiji. It was then that he became a fortune-teller,—an itinerant uranaiya,—travelling on foot from town to town, and returning to his home rarely more than once a year with the proceeds of his journey. As a fortune-teller he was tolerably successful,—chiefly, I think, because of his perfect sincerity, and because of a peculiar gentle manner that invited confidence. His system was the old scholarly one: he used the book known to English readers as the Yi-King,—also a set of ebony blocks which could be so arranged as to form any of the Chinese hexagrams;—and he always began his divination with an earnest prayer to the gods.
The system itself he held to be infallible in the hands of a master. He confessed that he had made some erroneous predictions; but he said that these mistakes had been entirely due to his own miscomprehension of certain texts or diagrams. To do him justice I must mention that in my own case—(he told my fortune four times),—his predictions were fulfilled in such wise that I became afraid of them. You may disbelieve in fortune-telling,— intellectually scorn it; but something of inherited superstitious tendency lurks within most of us; and a few strange experiences can so appeal to that inheritance as to induce the most unreasoning hope or fear of the good or bad luck promised you by some diviner. Really to see our future would be a misery. Imagine the result of knowing that there must happen to you, within the next two months, some terrible misfortune which you cannot possibly provide against!
He was already an old man when I first saw him in Izumo,— certainly more than sixty years of age, but looking very much younger. Afterwards I met him in Osaka, in Kyoto, and in Kobe. More than once I tried to persuade him to pass the colder months of the winter-season under my roof,—for he possessed an extraordinary knowledge of traditions, and could have been of inestimable service to me in a literary way. But partly because the habit of wandering had become with him a second nature, and partly because of a love of independence as savage as a gipsy's, I was never able to keep him with me for more than two days at a time.
Every year he used to come to Tokyo,—usually in the latter part of autumn. Then, for several weeks, he would flit about the city, from district to district, and vanish again. But during these fugitive trips he never failed to visit me; bringing welcome news of Izumo people and places,—bringing also some queer little present, generally of a religious kind, from some famous place of pilgrimage. On these occasions I could get a few hours' chat with him. Sometimes the talk was of strange things seen or heard during his recent journey; sometimes it turned upon old legends or beliefs; sometimes it was about fortune-telling. The last time we met he told me of an exact Chinese science of divination which he regretted never having been able to learn.
"Any one learned in that science," he said, "would be able, for example, not only to tell you the exact time at which any post or beam of this house will yield to decay, but even to tell you the direction of the breaking, and all its results. I can best explain what I mean by relating a story.
"The story is about the famous Chinese fortune-teller whom we call in Japan Shoko Setsu, and it is written in the book Baikwa- Shin-Eki, which is a book of divination. While still a very young man, Shoko Setsu obtained a high position by reason of his learning and virtue; but he resigned it and went into solitude that he might give his whole time to study. For years thereafter he lived alone in a hut among the mountains; studying without a fire in winter, and without a fan in summer; writing his thoughts upon the wall of his room—for lack of paper;—and using only a tile for his pillow.
"One day, in the period of greatest summer heat, he found himself overcome by drowsiness; and he lay down to rest, with his tile under his head. Scarcely had he fallen asleep when a rat ran across his face and woke him with a start. Feeling angry, he seized his tile and flung it at the rat; but the rat escaped unhurt, and the tile was broken. Shoko Setsu looked sorrowfully at the fragments of his pillow, and reproached himself for his hastiness. Then suddenly he perceived, upon the freshly exposed clay of the broken tile, some Chinese characters—between the upper and lower surfaces. Thinking this very strange, he picked up the pieces, and carefully examined them. He found that along the line of fracture seventeen characters had been written within the clay before the tile had been baked; and the characters read thus: 'In the Year of the Hare, in the fourth month, on the seventeenth day, at the Hour of the Serpent, this tile, after serving as a pillow, will be thrown at a rat and broken.' Now the prediction had really been fulfilled at the Hour of the Serpent on the seventeenth day of the fourth month of the Year of the Hare. Greatly astonished, Shoko Setsu once again looked at the fragments, and discovered the seal and the name of the maker. At once he left his hut, and, taking with him the pieces of the tile, hurried to the neighboring town in search of the tilemaker. He found the tilemaker in the course of the day, showed him the broken tile, and asked him about its history.
"After having carefully examined the shards, the tilemaker said: —'This tile was made in my house; but the characters in the clay were written by an old man—a fortune-teller,—who asked permission to write upon the tile before it was baked.' 'Do you know where he lives?' asked Shoko Setsu. 'He used to live,' the tilemaker answered, 'not very far from here; and I can show you the way to the house. But I do not know his name.'
"Having been guided to the house, Shoko Setsu presented himself at the entrance, and asked for permission to speak to the old man. A serving-student courteously invited him to enter, and ushered him into an apartment where several young men were at study. As Shoko Setsu took his seat, all the youths saluted him. Then the one who had first addressed him bowed and said: 'We are grieved to inform you that our master died a few days ago. But we have been waiting for you, because he predicted that you would come to-day to this house, at this very hour. Your name is Shoko Setsu. And our master told us to give you a book which he believed would be of service to you. Here is the book;—please to accept it.'
"Shoko Setsu was not less delighted than surprised; for the book was a manuscript of the rarest and most precious kind,— containing all the secrets of the science of divination. After having thanked the young men, and properly expressed his regret for the death of their teacher, he went back to his hut, and there immediately proceeded to test the worth of the book by consulting its pages in regard to his own fortune. The book suggested to him that on the south side of his dwelling, at a particular spot near one corner of the hut, great luck awaited him. He dug at the place indicated, and found a jar containing gold enough to make him a very wealthy man."
My old acquaintance left this world as lonesomely as he had lived in it. Last winter, while crossing a mountain-range, he was overtaken by a snowstorm, and lost his way. Many days later he was found standing erect at the foot of a pine, with his little pack strapped to his shoulders: a statue of ice—arms folded and eyes closed as in meditation. Probably, while waiting for the storm to pass, he had yielded to the drowsiness of cold, and the drift had risen over him as he slept. Hearing of this strange death I remembered the old Japanese saying,—Uranaiya minouye shiradzu: "The fortune-teller knows not his own fate."
I was puzzled by the phrase, "silkworm-moth eyebrow," in an old Japanese, or rather Chinese proverb:—The silkworm-moth eyebrow of a woman is the axe that cuts down the wisdom of man. So I went to my friend Niimi, who keeps silkworms, to ask for an explanation.
"Is it possible," he exclaimed, "that you never saw a silkworm- moth? The silkworm-moth has very beautiful eyebrows."
"Eyebrows?" I queried, in astonishment. "Well, call them what you like," returned Niimi;—"the poets call them eyebrows.... Wait a moment, and I will show you."
He left the guest-room, and presently returned with a white paper-fan, on which a silkworm-moth was sleepily reposing.
"We always reserve a few for breeding," he said;—"this one is just out of the cocoon. It cannot fly, of course: none of them can fly.... Now look at the eyebrows."
I looked, and saw that the antennae, very short and feathery, were so arched back over the two jewel-specks of eyes in the velvety head, as to give the appearance of a really handsome pair of eye- brows.
Then Niimi took me to see his worms.
In Niimi's neighborhood, where there are plenty of mulberrytrees, many families keep silkworms;—the tending and feeding being mostly done by women and children. The worms are kept in large oblong trays, elevated upon light wooden stands about three feet high. It is curious to see hundreds of caterpillars feeding all together in one tray, and to hear the soft papery noise which they make while gnawing their mulberry-leaves. As they approach maturity, the creatures need almost constant attention. At brief intervals some expert visits each tray to inspect progress, picks up the plumpest feeders, and decides, by gently rolling them between forefinger and thumb, which are ready to spin. These are dropped into covered boxes, where they soon swathe themselves out of sight in white floss. A few only of the best are suffered to emerge from their silky sleep,—the selected breeders. They have beautiful wings, but cannot use them. They have mouths, but do not eat. They only pair, lay eggs, and die. For thousands of years their race has been so well-cared for, that it can no longer take any care of itself.
It was the evolutional lesson of this latter fact that chiefly occupied me while Niimi and his younger brother (who feeds the worms) were kindly explaining the methods of the industry. They told me curious things about different breeds, and also about a wild variety of silkworm that cannot be domesticated:—it spins splendid silk before turning into a vigorous moth which can use its wings to some purpose. But I fear that I did not act like a person who felt interested in the subject; for, even while I tried to listen, I began to muse.
First of all, I found myself thinking about a delightful revery by M. Anatole France, in which he says that if he had been the Demiurge, he would have put youth at the end of life instead of at the beginning, and would have otherwise so ordered matters that every human being should have three stages of development, somewhat corresponding to those of the lepidoptera. Then it occurred to me that this fantasy was in substance scarcely more than the delicate modification of a most ancient doctrine, common to nearly all the higher forms of religion.
Western faiths especially teach that our life on earth is a larval state of greedy helplessness, and that death is a pupa- sleep out of which we should soar into everlasting light. They tell us that during its sentient existence, the outer body should be thought of only as a kind of caterpillar, and thereafter as a chrysalis;—and they aver that we lose or gain, according to our behavior as larvae, the power to develop wings under the mortal wrapping. Also they tell us not to trouble ourselves about the fact that we see no Psyche-imago detach itself from the broken cocoon: this lack of visual evidence signifies nothing, because we have only the purblind vision of grubs. Our eyes are but half- evolved. Do not whole scales of colors invisibly exist above and below the limits of our retinal sensibility? Even so the butterfly-man exists,—although, as a matter of course, we cannot see him.
But what would become of this human imago in a state of perfect bliss? From the evolutional point of view the question has interest; and its obvious answer was suggested to me by the history of those silkworms,—which have been domesticated for only a few thousand years. Consider the result of our celestial domestication for—let us say—several millions of years: I mean the final consequence, to the wishers, of being able to gratify every wish at will.
Those silkworms have all that they wish for,—even considerably more. Their wants, though very simple, are fundamentally identical with the necessities of mankind,—food, shelter, warmth, safety, and comfort. Our endless social struggle is mainly for these things. Our dream of heaven is the dream of obtaining them free of cost in pain; and the condition of those silkworms is the realization, in a small way, of our imagined Paradise. (I am not considering the fact that a vast majority of the worms are predestined to torment and the second death; for my theme is of heaven, not of lost souls. I am speaking of the elect—those worms preordained to salvation and rebirth.) Probably they can feel only very weak sensations: they are certainly incapable of prayer. But if they were able to pray, they could not ask for anything more than they already receive from the youth who feeds and tends them. He is their providence, —a god of whose existence they can be aware in only the vaguest possible way, but just such a god as they require. And we should foolishly deem ourselves fortunate to be equally well cared-for in proportion to our more complex wants. Do not our common forms of prayer prove our desire for like attention? Is not the assertion of our "need of divine love" an involuntary confession that we wish to be treated like silkworms,—to live without pain by the help of gods? Yet if the gods were to treat us as we want, we should presently afford fresh evidence,—in the way of what is called "the evidence from degeneration,"—that the great evolutional law is far above the gods.
An early stage of that degeneration would be represented by total incapacity to help ourselves;—then we should begin to lose the use of our higher sense-organs;—later on, the brain would shrink to a vanishing pin-point of matter;—still later we should dwindle into mere amorphous sacs, mere blind stomachs. Such would be the physical consequence of that kind of divine love which we so lazily wish for. The longing for perpetual bliss in perpetual peace might well seem a malevolent inspiration from the Lords of Death and Darkness. All life that feels and thinks has been, and can continue to be, only as the product of struggle and pain,— only as the outcome of endless battle with the Powers of the Universe. And cosmic law is uncompromising. Whatever organ ceases to know pain,—whatever faculty ceases to be used under the stimulus of pain,—must also cease to exist. Let pain and its effort be suspended, and life must shrink back, first into protoplasmic shapelessness, thereafter into dust.
Buddhism—which, in its own grand way, is a doctrine of evolution—rationally proclaims its heaven but a higher stage of development through pain, and teaches that even in paradise the cessation of effort produces degradation. With equal reasonableness it declares that the capacity for pain in the superhuman world increases always in proportion to the capacity for pleasure. (There is little fault to be found with this teaching from a scientific standpoint,—since we know that higher evolution must involve an increase of sensitivity to pain.) In the Heavens of Desire, says the Shobo-nen-jo-kyo, the pain of death is so great that all the agonies of all the hells united could equal but one-sixteenth part of such pain.(1)
The foregoing comparison is unnecessarily strong; but the Buddhist teaching about heaven is in substance eminently logical. The suppression of pain—mental or physical,—in any conceivable state of sentient existence, would necessarily involve the suppression also of pleasure;—and certainly all progress, whether moral or material, depends upon the power to meet and to master pain. In a silkworm-paradise such as our mundane instincts lead us to desire, the seraph freed from the necessity of toil, and able to satisfy his every want at will, would lose his wings at last, and sink back to the condition of a grub....
(1) This statement refers only to the Heavens of Sensuous Pleasure,—not to the Paradise of Amida, nor to those heavens into which one enters by the Apparitional Birth. But even in the highest and most immaterial zones of being,—in the Heavens of Formlessness,—the cessation of effort and of the pain of effort, involves the penalty of rebirth in a lower state of existence.
I told the substance of my revery to Niimi. He used to be a great reader of Buddhist books.
"Well," he said, "I was reminded of a queer Buddhist story by the proverb that you asked me to explain,—The silkworm-moth eyebrow of a woman is the axe that cuts down the wisdom of man. According to our doctrine, the saying would be as true of life in heaven as of life upon earth.... This is the story:—"When Shaka (1) dwelt in this world, one of his disciples, called Nanda, was bewitched by the beauty of a woman; and Shaka desired to save him from the results of this illusion. So he took Nanda to a wild place in the mountains where there were apes, and showed him a very ugly female ape, and asked him: 'Which is the more beautiful, Nanda, —the woman that you love, or this female ape?' 'Oh, Master!' exclaimed Nanda, 'how can a lovely woman be compared with an ugly ape?' 'Perhaps you will presently find reason to make the comparison yourself,' answered the Buddha;—and instantly by supernatural power he ascended with Nanda to the San-Jusan-Ten, which is the Second of the Six Heavens of Desire. There, within a palace of jewels, Nanda saw a multitude of heavenly maidens celebrating some festival with music and dance; and the beauty of the least among them incomparably exceeded that of the fairest woman of earth. 'O Master,' cried Nanda, 'what wonderful festival is this?' 'Ask some of those people,' responded Shaka. So Nanda questioned one of the celestial maidens; and she said to him:— 'This festival is to celebrate the good tidings that have been brought to us. There is now in the human world, among the disciples of Shaka, a most excellent youth called Nanda, who is soon to be reborn into this heaven, and to become our bridegroom, because of his holy life. We wait for him with rejoicing.' This reply filled the heart of Nanda with delight. Then the Buddha asked him: 'Is there any one among these maidens, Nanda, equal in beauty to the woman with whom you have been in love?' 'Nay, Master!' answered Nanda; 'even as that woman surpassed in beauty the female ape that we saw on the mountain, so is she herself surpassed by even the least among these.'
"Then the Buddha immediately descended with Nanda to the depths of the hells, and took him into a torture-chamber where myriads of men and women were being boiled alive in great caldrons, and otherwise horribly tormented by devils. Then Nanda found himself standing before a huge vessel which was filled with molten metal;—and he feared and wondered because this vessel had as yet no occupant. An idle devil sat beside it, yawning. 'Master,' Nanda inquired of the Buddha, 'for whom has this vessel been prepared?' 'Ask the devil,' answered Shaka. Nanda did so; and the devil said to him: 'There is a man called Nanda,—now one of Shaka's disciples,—about to be reborn into one of the heavens, on account of his former good actions. But after having there indulged himself, he is to be reborn in this hell; and his place will be in that pot. I am waiting for him.'" (2)
(2) I give the story substantially as it was told to me; but I have not been able to compare it with any published text. My friend says that he has seen two Chinese versions,—one in the Hongyo-kyo (?), the other in the Zoichi-agon-kyo (Ekottaragamas). In Mr. Henry Clarke Warren's Buddhism in Translations (the most interesting and valuable single volume of its kind that I have ever seen), there is a Pali version of the legend, which differs considerably from the above.—This Nanda, according to Mr. Warren's work, was a prince, and the younger half-brother of Sakyamuni.
A Passional Karma
One of the never-failing attractions of the Tokyo stage is the performance, by the famous Kikugoro and his company, of the Botan-Doro, or "Peony-Lantern." This weird play, of which the scenes are laid in the middle of the last century, is the dramatization of a romance by the novelist Encho, written in colloquial Japanese, and purely Japanese in local color, though inspired by a Chinese tale. I went to see the play; and Kikugoro made me familiar with a new variety of the pleasure of fear. "Why not give English readers the ghostly part of the story?"— asked a friend who guides me betimes through the mazes of Eastern philosophy. "It would serve to explain some popular ideas of the supernatural which Western people know very little about. And I could help you with the translation."
I gladly accepted the suggestion; and we composed the following summary of the more extraordinary portion of Encho's romance. Here and there we found it necessary to condense the original narrative; and we tried to keep close to the text only in the conversational passages,—some of which happen to possess a particular quality of psychological interest.
—This is the story of the Ghosts in the Romance of the Peony- Lantern:—
There once lived in the district of Ushigome, in Yedo, a hatamoto (1) called Iijima Heizayemon, whose only daughter, Tsuyu, was beautiful as her name, which signifies "Morning Dew." Iijima took a second wife when his daughter was about sixteen; and, finding that O-Tsuyu could not be happy with her mother-in-law, he had a pretty villa built for the girl at Yanagijima, as a separate residence, and gave her an excellent maidservant, called O-Yone, to wait upon her.
O-Tsuyu lived happily enough in her new home until one day when the family physician, Yamamoto Shijo, paid her a visit in company with a young samurai named Hagiwara Shinzaburo, who resided in the Nedzu quarter. Shinzaburo was an unusually handsome lad, and very gentle; and the two young people fell in love with each other at sight. Even before the brief visit was over, they contrived,—unheard by the old doctor,—to pledge themselves to each other for life. And, at parting, O-Tsuyu whispered to the youth,—"Remember! If you do not come to see me again, I shall certainly die!"
Shinzaburo never forgot those words; and he was only too eager to see more of O-Tsuyu. But etiquette forbade him to make the visit alone: he was obliged to wait for some other chance to accompany the doctor, who had promised to take him to the villa a second time. Unfortunately the old man did not keep this promise. He had perceived the sudden affection of O-Tsuyu; and he feared that her father would hold him responsible for any serious results. Iijima Heizayemon had a reputation for cutting off heads. And the more Shijo thought about the possible consequences of his introduction of Shinzaburo at the Iijima villa, the more he became afraid. Therefore he purposely abstained from calling upon his young friend.
Months passed; and O-Tsuyu, little imagining the true cause of Shinzaburo's neglect, believed that her love had been scorned. Then she pined away, and died. Soon afterwards, the faithful servant O-Yone also died, through grief at the loss of her mistress; and the two were buried side by side in the cemetery of Shin-Banzui-In,—a temple which still stands in the neighborhood of Dango-Zaka, where the famous chrysanthemum-shows are yearly held.
(1) The hatamoto were samurai forming the special military force of the Shogun. The name literally signifies "Banner-Supporters." These were the highest class of samurai,—not only as the immediate vassals of the Shogun, but as a military aristocracy.
Shinzaburo knew nothing of what had happened; but his disappointment and his anxiety had resulted in a prolonged illness. He was slowly recovering, but still very weak, when he unexpectedly received another visit from Yamamoto Shijo. The old man made a number of plausible excuses for his apparent neglect. Shinzaburo said to him:—"I have been sick ever since the beginning of spring;—even now I cannot eat anything.... Was it not rather unkind of you never to call? I thought that we were to make another visit together to the house of the Lady Iijima; and I wanted to take to her some little present as a return for our kind reception. Of course I could not go by myself."
Shijo gravely responded,—"I am very sorry to tell you that the young lady is dead!"
"Dead!" repeated Shinzaburo, turning white,—"did you say that she is dead?"
The doctor remained silent for a moment, as if collecting himself: then he resumed, in the quick light tone of a man resolved not to take trouble seriously:—
"My great mistake was in having introduced you to her; for it seems that she fell in love with you at once. I am afraid that you must have said something to encourage this affection—when you were in that little room together. At all events, I saw how she felt towards you; and then I became uneasy,—fearing that her father might come to hear of the matter, and lay the whole blame upon me. So—to be quite frank with you,—I decided that it would be better not to call upon you; and I purposely stayed away for a long time. But, only a few days ago, happening to visit Iijima's house, I heard, to my great surprise, that his daughter had died, and that her servant O-Yone had also died. Then, remembering all that had taken place, I knew that the young lady must have died of love for you.... [Laughing] Ah, you are really a sinful fellow! Yes, you are! [Laughing] Isn't it a sin to have been born so handsome that the girls die for love of you? (1) [Seriously] Well, we must leave the dead to the dead. It is no use to talk further about the matter;—all that you now can do for her is to repeat the Nembutsu (2).... Good-bye."
And the old man retired hastily,—anxious to avoid further converse about the painful event for which he felt himself to have been unwittingly responsible.
(1) Perhaps this conversation may seem strange to the Western reader; but it is true to life. The whole of the scene is characteristically Japanese. (2) The invocation Namu Amida Butsu! ("Hail to the Buddha Amitabha!"),—repeated, as a prayer, for the sake of the dead.
Shinzaburo long remained stupefied with grief by the news of O- Tsuyu's death. But as soon as he found himself again able to think clearly, he inscribed the dead girl's name upon a mortuary tablet, and placed the tablet in the Buddhist shrine of his house, and set offerings before it, and recited prayers. Every day thereafter he presented offerings, and repeated the Nembutsu; and the memory of O-Tsuyu was never absent from his thought.
Nothing occurred to change the monotony of his solitude before the time of the Bon,—the great Festival of the Dead,—which begins upon the thirteenth day of the seventh month. Then he decorated his house, and prepared everything for the festival;— hanging out the lanterns that guide the returning spirits, and setting the food of ghosts on the shoryodana, or Shelf of Souls. And on the first evening of the Ban, after sun-down, he kindled a small lamp before the tablet of O-Tsuyu, and lighted the lanterns.
The night was clear, with a great moon,—and windless, and very warm. Shinzaburo sought the coolness of his veranda. Clad only in a light summer-robe, he sat there thinking, dreaming, sorrowing; —sometimes fanning himself; sometimes making a little smoke to drive the mosquitoes away. Everything was quiet. It was a lonesome neighborhood, and there were few passers-by. He could hear only the soft rushing of a neighboring stream, and the shrilling of night-insects.
But all at once this stillness was broken by a sound of women's geta (1) approaching—kara-kon, kara-kon;—and the sound drew nearer and nearer, quickly, till it reached the live-hedge surrounding the garden. Then Shinzaburoe, feeling curious, stood on tiptoe, so as to look Over the hedge; and he saw two women passing. One, who was carrying a beautiful lantern decorated with peony-flowers,(2) appeared to be a servant;—the other was a slender girl of about seventeen, wearing a long-sleeved robe embroidered with designs of autumn-blossoms. Almost at the same instant both women turned their faces toward Shinzaburo;—and to his utter astonishment, he recognized O-Tsuyu and her servant O- Yone.
They stopped immediately; and the girl cried out,—"Oh, how strange!... Hagiwara Sama!"
Shinzaburo simultaneously called to the maid:—"O-Yone! Ah, you are O-Yone!—I remember you very well."
"Hagiwara Sama!" exclaimed O-Yone in a tone of supreme amazement. "Never could I have believed it possible!... Sir, we were told that you had died."
"How extraordinary!" cried Shinzaburo. "Why, I was told that both of you were dead!"
"Ah, what a hateful story!" returned O-Yone. "Why repeat such unlucky words?... Who told you?"
"Please to come in," said Shinzaburo;—"here we can talk better. The garden-gate is open."
So they entered, and exchanged greeting; and when Shinzaburo had made them comfortable, he said:—
"I trust that you will pardon my discourtesy in not having called upon you for so long a time. But Shijo, the doctor, about a month ago, told me that you had both died."
"So it was he who told you?" exclaimed O-Yone. "It was very wicked of him to say such a thing. Well, it was also Shijo who told us that you were dead. I think that he wanted to deceive you,—which was not a difficult thing to do, because you are so confiding and trustful. Possibly my mistress betrayed her liking for you in some words which found their way to her father's ears; and, in that case, O-Kuni—the new wife—might have planned to make the doctor tell you that we were dead, so as to bring about a separation. Anyhow, when my mistress heard that you had died, she wanted to cut off her hair immediately, and to become a nun. But I was able to prevent her from cutting off her hair; and I persuaded her at last to become a nun only in her heart. Afterwards her father wished her to marry a certain young man; and she refused. Then there was a great deal of trouble,—chiefly caused by O-Kuni;—and we went away from the villa, and found a very small house in Yanaka-no-Sasaki. There we are now just barely able to live, by doing a little private work.... My mistress has been constantly repeating the Nembutsu for your sake. To-day, being the first day of the Bon, we went to visit the temples; and we were on our way home—thus late—when this strange meeting happened."
"Oh, how extraordinary!" cried Shinzaburo. "Can it be true?-or is it only a dream? Here I, too, have been constantly reciting the Nembutsu before a tablet with her name upon it! Look!" And he showed them O-Tsuyu's tablet in its place upon the Shelf of Souls.
"We are more than grateful for your kind remembrance," returned O-Yone, smiling.... "Now as for my mistress,"—she continued, turning towards O-Tsuyu, who had all the while remained demure and silent, half-hiding her face with her sleeve,—"as for my mistress, she actually says that she would not mind being disowned by her father for the time of seven existences,(3) or even being killed by him, for your sake! Come! will you not allow her to stay here to-night?"
Shinzaburo turned pale for joy. He answered in a voice trembling with emotion:—"Please remain; but do not speak loud—because there is a troublesome fellow living close by,—a ninsomi (4) called Hakuodo Yusai, who tells peoples fortunes by looking at their faces. He is inclined to be curious; and it is better that he should not know."
The two women remained that night in the house of the young samurai, and returned to their own home a little before daybreak. And after that night they came every nighht for seven nights,— whether the weather were foul or fair,—always at the same hour. And Shinzaburo became more and more attached to the girl; and the twain were fettered, each to each, by that bond of illusion which is stronger than bands of iron.
1 Komageta in the original. The geta is a wooden sandal, or clog, of which there are many varieties,—some decidedly elegant. The komageta, or "pony-geta" is so-called because of the sonorous hoof-like echo which it makes on hard ground.
2 The sort of lantern here referred to is no longer made; and its shape can best be understood by a glance at the picture accompanying this story. It was totally unlike the modern domestic band-lantern, painted with the owner's crest; but it was not altogether unlike some forms of lanterns still manufactured for the Festival of the Dead, and called Bon-doro. The flowers ornamenting it were not painted: they were artificial flowers of crepe-silk, and were attached to the top of the lantern.
3 "For the time of seven existences,"—that is to say, for the time of seven successive lives. In Japanese drama and romance it is not uncommon to represent a father as disowning his child "for the time of seven lives." Such a disowning is called shichi-sho made no mando, a disinheritance for seven lives,—signifying that in six future lives after the present the erring son or daughter will continue to feel the parental displeasure.
4 The profession is not yet extinct. The ninsomi uses a kind of magnifying glass (or magnifying-mirror sometimes), called tengankyo or ninsomegane.
Now there was a man called Tomozo, who lived in a small cottage adjoining Shinzaburo's residence, Tomozo and his wife O-Mine were both employed by Shinzaburo as servants. Both seemed to be devoted to their young master; and by his help they were able to live in comparative comfort.
One night, at a very late hour, Tomozo heard the voice of a woman in his master's apartment; and this made him uneasy. He feared that Shinzaburo, being very gentle and affectionate, might be made the dupe of some cunning wanton,—in which event the domestics would be the first to suffer. He therefore resolved to watch; and on the following night he stole on tiptoe to Shinzaburo's dwelling, and looked through a chink in one of the sliding shutters. By the glow of a night-lantern within the sleeping-room, he was able to perceive that his master and a strange woman were talking together under the mosquito-net. At first he could not see the woman distinctly. Her back was turned to him;—he only observed that she was very slim, and that she appeared to be very young,—judging from the fashion of her dress and hair.(1) Putting his ear to the chink, he could hear the conversation plainly. The woman said:—
"And if I should be disowned by my father, would you then let me come and live with you?"
"Most assuredly I would—nay, I should be glad of the chance. But there is no reason to fear that you will ever be disowned by your father; for you are his only daughter, and he loves you very much. What I do fear is that some day we shall be cruelly separated."
She responded softly:—
"Never, never could I even think of accepting any other man for my husband. Even if our secret were to become known, and my father were to kill me for what I have done, still—after death itself—I could never cease to think of you. And I am now quite sure that you yourself would not be able to live very long without me."... Then clinging closely to him, with her lips at his neck, she caressed him; and he returned her caresses.
Tomozo wondered as he listened,—because the language of the woman was not the language of a common woman, but the language of a lady of rank.(2) Then he determined at all hazards to get one glimpse of her face; and he crept round the house, backwards and forwards, peering through every crack and chink. And at last he was able to see;—but therewith an icy trembling seized him; and the hair of his head stood up.
For the face was the face of a woman long dead,—and the fingers caressing were fingers of naked bone,—and of the body below the waist there was not anything: it melted off into thinnest trailing shadow. Where the eyes of the lover deluded saw youth and grace and beauty, there appeared to the eyes of the watcher horror only, and the emptiness of death. Simultaneously another woman's figure, and a weirder, rose up from within the chamber, and swiftly made toward the watcher, as if discerning his presence. Then, in uttermost terror, he fled to the dwelling of Hakuodo Yusai, and, knocking frantically at the doors, succeeded in arousing him.
1 The color and form of the dress, and the style of wearing the hair, are by Japanese custom regulated accord-big to the age of the woman.
2 The forms of speech used by the samurai, and other superior classes, differed considerably from those of the popular idiom; but these differences could not be effectively rendered into English.
Hakuodo Yusai, the ninsomi, was a very old man; but in his time he had travelled much, and he had heard and seen so many things that he could not be easily surprised. Yet the story of the terrified Tomozo both alarmed and amazed him. He had read in ancient Chinese books of love between the living and the dead; but he had never believed it possible. Now, however, he felt convinced that the statement of Tomozo was not a falsehood, and that something very strange was really going on in the house of Hagiwara. Should the truth prove to be what Tomozo imagined, then the young samurai was a doomed man.
"If the woman be a ghost,"—said Yusai to the frightened servant, "—if the woman be a ghost, your master must die very soon,— unless something extraordinary can be done to save him. And if the woman be a ghost, the signs of death will appear upon his face. For the spirit of the living is yoki, and pure;—the spirit of the dead is inki, and unclean: the one is Positive, the other Negative. He whose bride is a ghost cannot live. Even though in his blood there existed the force of a life of one hundred years, that force must quickly perish.... Still, I shall do all that I can to save Hagiwara Sama. And in the meantime, Tomozo, say nothing to any other person,—not even to your wife,—about this matter. At sunrise I shall call upon your master."
When questioned next morning by Yusai, Shinzaburo at first attempted to deny that any women had been visiting the house; but finding this artless policy of no avail, and perceiving that the old man's purpose was altogether unselfish, he was finally persuaded to acknowledge what had really occurred, and to give his reasons for wishing to keep the matter a secret. As for the lady Iijima, he intended, he said, to make her his wife as soon as possible.
"Oh, madness!" cried Yusai,—losing all patience in the intensity of his alarm. "Know, sir, that the people who have been coming here, night after night, are dead! Some frightful delusion is upon you!... Why, the simple fact that you long supposed O-Tsuyu to be dead, and repeated the Nembutsu for her, and made offerings before her tablet, is itself the proof!... The lips of the dead have touched you!—the hands of the dead have caressed you!... Even at this moment I see in your face the signs of death—and you will not believe!... Listen to me now, sir,—I beg of you,— if you wish to save yourself: otherwise you have less than twenty days to live. They told you—those people—that they were residing in the district of Shitaya, in Yanaka-no-Sasaki. Did you ever visit them at that place? No!—of course you did not! Then go to-day,—as soon as you can,—to Yanaka-no-Sasaki, and try to find their home!..."
And having uttered this counsel with the most vehement earnestness, Hakuodo Yusai abruptly took his departure.
Shinzaburo, startled though not convinced, resolved after a moment's reflection to follow the advice of the ninsomi, and to go to Shitaya. It was yet early in the morning when he reached the quarter of Yanaka-no-Sasaki, and began his search for the dwelling of O-Tsuyu. He went through every street and side- street, read all the names inscribed at the various entrances, and made inquiries whenever an opportunity presented itself. But he could not find anything resembling the little house mentioned by O-Yone; and none of the people whom he questioned knew of any house in the quarter inhabited by two single women. Feeling at last certain that further research would be useless, he turned homeward by the shortest way, which happened to lead through the grounds of the temple Shin-Banzui-In.
Suddenly his attention was attracted by two new tombs, placed side by side, at the rear of the temple. One was a common tomb, such as might have been erected for a person of humble rank: the other was a large and handsome monument; and hanging before it was a beautiful peony-lantern, which had probably been left there at the time of the Festival of the Dead. Shinzaburo remembered that the peony-lantern carried by O-Yone was exactly similar; and the coincidence impressed him as strange. He looked again at the tombs; but the tombs explained nothing. Neither bore any personal name,—only the Buddhist kaimyo, or posthumous appellation. Then he determined to seek information at the temple. An acolyte stated, in reply to his questions, that the large tomb had been recently erected for the daughter of Iijima Heizayemon, the hatamoto of Ushigome; and that the small tomb next to it was that of her servant O-Yone, who had died of grief soon after the young lady's funeral.
Immediately to Shinzaburoe's memory there recurred, with another and sinister meaning, the words of O-Yone:—"We went away, and found a very small house in Yanaka-no-Sasaki. There we are now just barely able to live—by doing a little private work...." Here was indeed the very small house,—and in Yanaka-no-Sasaki. But the little private work...?
Terror-stricken, the samurai hastened with all speed to the house of Yusai, and begged for his counsel and assistance. But Yusai declared himself unable to be of any aid in such a case. All that he could do was to send Shinzaburo to the high-priest Ryoseki, of Shin-Banzui-In, with a letter praying for immediate religious help.
The high-priest Ryoseki was a learned and a holy man. By spiritual vision he was able to know the secret of any sorrow, and the nature of the karma that had caused it. He heard unmoved the story of Shinzaburo, and said to him:—
"A very great danger now threatens you, because of an error committed in one of your former states of existence. The karma that binds you to the dead is very strong; but if I tried to explain its character, you would not be able to understand. I shall therefore tell you only this,—that the dead person has no desire to injure you out of hate, feels no enmity towards you: she is influenced, on the contrary, by the most passionate affection for you. Probably the girl has been in love with you from a time long preceding your present life,—from a time of not less than three or four past existences; and it would seem that, although necessarily changing her form and condition at each succeeding birth, she has not been able to cease from following after you. Therefore it will not be an easy thing to escape from her influence.... But now I am going to lend you this powerful mamoni.(1) It is a pure gold image of that Buddha called the Sea- Sounding Tathagata—Kai-On-Nyorai,—because his preaching of the Law sounds through the world like the sound of the sea. And this little image is especially a shiryo-yoke,(2)—which protects the living from the dead. This you must wear, in its covering, next to your body,—under the girdle.... Besides, I shall presently perform in the temple, a segaki-service(3) for the repose of the troubled spirit.... And here is a holy sutra, called Ubo-Darani- Kyo, or "Treasure-Raining Sutra"(4) you must be careful to recite it every night in your house—without fail.... Furthermore I shall give you this package of o-fuda(5);—you must paste one of them over every opening of your house,—no matter how small. If you do this, the power of the holy texts will prevent the dead from entering. But—whatever may happen—do not fail to recite the sutra."
Shinzaburo humbly thanked the high-priest; and then, taking with him the image, the sutra, and the bundle of sacred texts, he made all haste to reach his home before the hour of sunset.
1 The Japanese word mamori has significations at least as numerous as those attaching to our own term "amulet." It would be impossible, in a mere footnote, even to suggest the variety of Japanese religious objects to which the name is given. In this instance, the mamori is a very small image, probably enclosed in a miniature shrine of lacquer-work or metal, over which a silk cover is drawn. Such little images were often worn by samurai on the person. I was recently shown a miniature figure of Kwannon, in an iron case, which had been carried by an officer through the Satsuma war. He observed, with good reason, that it had probably saved his life; for it had stopped a bullet of which the dent was plainly visible.
2 From shiryo, a ghost, and yokeru, to exclude. The Japanese have, two kinds of ghosts proper in their folk-lore: the spirits of the dead, shiryo; and the spirits of the living, ikiryo. A house or a person may be haunted by an ikiryo as well as by a shiryo.
3 A special service,—accompanying offerings of food, etc., to those dead having no living relatives or friends to care for them,—is thus termed. In this case, however, the service would be of a particular and exceptional kind.
4 The name would be more correctly written Ubo-Darani-Kyo. It is the Japanese pronunciation of the title of a very short sutra translated out of Sanscrit into Chinese by the Indian priest Amoghavajra, probably during the eighth century. The Chinese text contains transliterations of some mysterious Sanscrit words,— apparently talismanic words,—like those to be seen in Kern's translation of the Saddharma-Pundarika, ch. xxvi.
5 O-fuda is the general name given to religious texts used as charms or talismans. They are sometimes stamped or burned upon wood, but more commonly written or printed upon narrow strips of paper. O-fuda are pasted above house-entrances, on the walls of rooms, upon tablets placed in household shrines, etc., etc. Some kinds are worn about the person;—others are made into pellets, and swallowed as spiritual medicine. The text of the larger o- fuda is often accompanied by curious pictures or symbolic illustrations.
With Yusai's advice and help, Shinzaburo was able before dark to fix the holy texts over all the apertures of his dwelling. Then the ninsomi returned to his own house,—leaving the youth alone. Night came, warm and clear. Shinzaburo made fast the doors, bound the precious amulet about his waist, entered his mosquito-net, and by the glow of a night-lantern began to recite the Ubo- Darani-Kyo. For a long time he chanted the words, comprehending little of their meaning;—then he tried to obtain some rest. But his mind was still too much disturbed by the strange events of the day. Midnight passed; and no sleep came to him. At last he heard the boom of the great temple-bell of Dentsu-In announcing the eighth hour.(1)
It ceased; and Shinzaburo suddenly heard the sound of geta approaching from the old direction,—but this time more slowly: karan-koron, karan-koron! At once a cold sweat broke over his forehead. Opening the sutra hastily, with trembling hand, he began again to recite it aloud. The steps came nearer and nearer,—reached the live hedge,—stopped! Then, strange to say, Shinzaburo felt unable to remain under his mosquito-net: something stronger even than his fear impelled him to look; and, instead of continuing to recite the Ubo-Darani-Kyo, he foolishly approached the shutters, and through a chink peered out into the night. Before the house he saw O-Tsuyu standing, and O-Yone with the peony-lantern; and both of them were gazing at the Buddhist texts pasted above the entrance. Never before—not even in what time she lived—had O-Tsuyu appeared so beautiful; and Shinzaburo felt his heart drawn towards her with a power almost resistless. But the terror of death and the terror of the unknown restrained; and there went on within him such a struggle between his love and his fear that he became as one suffering in the body the pains of the Sho-netsu hell.(2)
Presently he heard the voice of the maid-servant, saying:—
"My dear mistress, there is no way to enter. The heart of Hagiwara Sama must have changed. For the promise that he made last night has been broken; and the doors have been made fast to keep us out.... We cannot go in to-night.... It will be wiser for you to make up your mind not to think any more about him, because his feeling towards you has certainly changed. It is evident that he does not want to see you. So it will be better not to give yourself any more trouble for the sake of a man whose heart is so unkind."
But the girl answered, weeping:—
"Oh, to think that this could happen after the pledges which we made to each other!... Often I was told that the heart of a man changes as quickly as the sky of autumn;—yet surely the heart of Hagiwara Sama cannot be so cruel that he should really intend to exclude me in this way!... Dear Yone, please find some means of taking me to him.... Unless you do, I will never, never go home again."
Thus she continued to plead, veiling her face with her long sleeves,—and very beautiful she looked, and very touching; but the fear of death was strong upon her lover.
O-Yone at last made answer,—"My dear young lady, why will you trouble your mind about a man who seems to be so cruel?... Well, let us see if there be no way to enter at the back of the house: come with me!"
And taking O-Tsuyu by the hand, she led her away toward the rear of the dwelling; and there the two disappeared as suddenly as the light disappears when the flame of a lamp is blown out.
1 According to the old Japanese way of counting time, this yatsudoki or eighth hour was the same as our two o'clock in the morning. Each Japanese hour was equal to two European hours, so that there were only six hours instead of our twelve; and these six hours were counted backwards in the order,—9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4. Thus the ninth hour corresponded to our midday, or midnight; half-past nine to our one o'clock; eight to our two o'clock. Two o'clock in the morning, also called "the Hour of the Ox," was the Japanese hour of ghosts and goblins.
2 En-netsu or Sho-netsu (Sanscrit "Tapana") is the sixth of the Eight Hot Hells of Japanese Buddhism. One day of life in this hell is equal in duration to thousands (some say millions) of human years.
Night after night the shadows came at the Hour of the Ox; and nightly Shinzaburo heard the weeping of O-Tsuyu. Yet he believed himself saved,—little imagining that his doom had already been decided by the character of his dependents.
Tomozo had promised Yusai never to speak to any other person—not even to O-Mine—of the strange events that were taking place. But Tomozo was not long suffered by the haunters to rest in peace. Night after night O-Yone entered into his dwelling, and roused him from his sleep, and asked him to remove the o-fuda placed over one very small window at the back of his master's house. And Tomozo, out of fear, as often promised her to take away the o- fuda before the next sundown; but never by day could he make up his mind to remove it,—believing that evil was intended to Shinzaburo. At last, in a night of storm, O-Yone startled him from slumber with a cry of reproach, and stooped above his pillow, and said to him: "Have a care how you trifle with us! If, by to-morrow night, you do not take away that text, you shall learn how I can hate!" And she made her face so frightful as she spoke that Tomozo nearly died of terror.
O-Mine, the wife of Tomozo, had never till then known of these visits: even to her husband they had seemed like bad dreams. But on this particular night it chanced that, waking suddenly, she heard the voice of a woman talking to Tomozo. Almost in the same moment the talk-ing ceased; and when O-Mine looked about her, she saw, by the light of the night-lamp, only her husband,— shuddering and white with fear. The stranger was gone; the doors were fast: it seemed impossible that anybody could have entered. Nevertheless the jealousy of the wife had been aroused; and she began to chide and to question Tomozo in such a manner that he thought himself obliged to betray the secret, and to explain the terrible dilemma in which he had been placed.
Then the passion of O-Mine yielded to wonder and alarm; but she was a subtle woman, and she devised immediately a plan to save her husband by the sacrifice of her master. And she gave Tomozo a cunning counsel,—telling him to make conditions with the dead.
They came again on the following night at the Hour of the Ox; and O-Mine hid herself on hearing the sound of their coming,—karan- koron, karan-koron! But Tomozo went out to meet them in the dark, and even found courage to say to them what his wife had told him to say:—
"It is true that I deserve your blame;—but I had no wish to cause you anger. The reason that the o-fuda has not been taken away is that my wife and I are able to live only by the help of Hagiwara Sama, and that we cannot expose him to any danger without bringing misfortune upon ourselves. But if we could obtain the sum of a hundred ryo in gold, we should be able to please you, because we should then need no help from anybody. Therefore if you will give us a hundred ryo, I can take the o- fuda away without being afraid of losing our only means of support."
When he had uttered these words, O-Yone and O-Tsuyu looked at each other in silence for a moment. Then O-Yone said:—
"Mistress, I told you that it was not right to trouble this man, —as we have no just cause of ill will against him. But it is certainly useless to fret yourself about Hagiwara Sama, because his heart has changed towards you. Now once again, my dear young lady, let me beg you not to think any more about him!"
But O-Tsuyu, weeping, made answer:—
"Dear Yone, whatever may happen, I cannot possibly keep myself from thinking about him! You know that you can get a hundred ryo to have the o-fuda taken off.... Only once more, I pray, dear Yone!—only once more bring me face to face with Hagiwara Sama, —I beseech you!" And hiding her face with her sleeve, she thus continued to plead.
"Oh! why will you ask me to do these things?" responded O-Yone. "You know very well that I have no money. But since you will persist in this whim of yours, in spite of all that I can say, I suppose that I must try to find the money somehow, and to bring it here to-morrow night...." Then, turning to the faithless Tomozo, she said:—"Tomozo, I must tell you that Hagiwara Sama now wears upon his body a mamoni called by the name of Kai-On- Nyorai, and that so long as he wears it we cannot approach him. So you will have to get that mamori away from him, by some means or other, as well as to remove the o-fuda."
Tomozo feebly made answer:—
"That also I can do, if you will promise to bring me the hundred ryo."
"Well, mistress," said O-Yone, "you will wait,—will you not,— until to-morrow night?"
"Oh, dear Yone!" sobbed the other,—"have we to go back to-night again without seeing Hagiwara Sama? Ah! it is cruel!"
And the shadow of the mistress, weeping, was led away by the shadow of the maid.
Another day went, and another night came, and the dead came with it. But this time no lamentation was heard without the house of Hagiwara; for the faithless servant found his reward at the Hour of the Ox, and removed the o-fuda. Moreover he had been able, while his master was at the bath, to steal from its case the golden mamori, and to substitute for it an image of copper; and he had buried the Kai-On-Nyorai in a desolate field. So the visitants found nothing to oppose their entering. Veiling their faces with their sleeves they rose and passed, like a streaming of vapor, into the little window from over which the holy text had been torn away. But what happened thereafter within the house Tomozo never knew.
The sun was high before he ventured again to approach his master's dwelling, and to knock upon the sliding-doors. For the first time in years he obtained no response; and the silence made him afraid. Repeatedly he called, and received no answer. Then, aided by O-Mine, he succeeded in effecting an entrance and making his way alone to the sleeping-room, where he called again in vain. He rolled back the rumbling shutters to admit the light; but still within the house there was no stir. At last he dared to lift a corner of the mosquito-net. But no sooner had he looked beneath than he fled from the house, with a cry of horror.