by David Murray
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David Murray, Ph.D., LL.D.

Late Advisor to the Japanese Minister of Education

Third Edition


T. Fisher Unwin

Paternoster Square

New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons


Copyright by T. Fisher Unwin, 1894

(For Great Britain)

Copyright by G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1894

(For the United States of America


Preface. Chapter I. The Japanese Archipelago. Chapter II. The Original And Surviving Races. Chapter III. Myths And Legends. Chapter IV. Founding The Empire. Chapter V. Native Culture And Continental Influences. Chapter VI. The Middle Ages Of Japan. Chapter VII. Emperor And Shogun. Chapter VIII. From The Ashikaga Shoguns To The Death Of Nobunaga. Chapter IX. Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Chapter X. The Founding Of The Tokugawa Shogunate. Chapter XI. Christianity In The Seventeenth Century. Chapter XII. Feudalism In Japan. Chapter XIII. Commodore Perry And What Followed. Chapter XIV. Revolutionary Preludes. Chapter XV. The Restored Empire. Appendix I. List Of Emperors. Appendix II. List Of Year Periods. Appendix III. List Of Shoguns. Appendix IV. Laws Of Shotoku Taishi. Footnotes


It is the object of this book to trace the story of Japan from its beginnings to the establishment of constitutional government. Concerned as this story is with the period of vague and legendary antiquity as well as with the disorders of mediaeval time and with centuries of seclusion, it is plain that it is not an easy task to present a trustworthy and connected account of the momentous changes through which the empire has been called to pass. It would be impossible to state in detail the sources from which I have derived the material for this work. I place first and as most important a residence of several years in Japan, during which I became familiar with the character of the Japanese people and with the traditions and events of their history. Most of the works treating of Japan during and prior to the period of her seclusion, as well as the more recent works, I have had occasion to consult. They will be found referred to in the following pages. Beyond all others, however, I desire to acknowledge my obligations to the Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan. A list of the contributors to these transactions would include such names as Satow, Aston, Chamberlain, McClatchie, Gubbins, Geerts, Milne, Whitney, Wigmore and others, whose investigations have made possible a reasonably complete knowledge of Japan. The Transactions of the German Asiatic Society are scarcely less noteworthy than those of her sister society. To these invaluable sources of information are to be added Chamberlain's Things Japanese, Rein's Japan and the Industries of Japan, Griffis' Mikado's Empire, Mounsey's Satsuma Rebellion, Dening's Life of Hideyoshi, the published papers of Professor E. S. Morse, and the two handbooks prepared successively by Mr. Satow and Mr. Chamberlain.

To friends who have taken an interest in this publication I owe many thanks for valuable and timely help: to Dr. J. C. Hepburn, who for so many years was a resident in Yokohama; to Mr. Benjamin Smith Lyman of Philadelphia who still retains his interest in and knowledge of things Japanese; to Mr. Tateno, the Japanese Minister at Washington, and to the departments of the Japanese government which have furnished me material assistance.

In the spelling of Japanese words I have followed, with a few exceptions, the system of the Roman Alphabet Association (Romaji Kai) as given in its published statement. I have also had constantly at hand Hepburn's Dictionary, the Dictionary of Towns and Roads, by Dr. W. N. Whitney, and Murray's Handbook of Japan, by B. H. Chamberlain. In accordance with these authorities, in the pronunciation of Japanese words the consonants are to be taken at their usual English values and the vowels at their values in Italian or German.


Bell At Kyoto


The first knowledge of the Japanese empire was brought to Europe by Marco Polo after his return from his travels in China in A.D. 1295. He had been told in China of "Chipangu,(1) an island towards the east in the high seas, 1500 miles from the continent; and a very great island it is. The people are white, civilized, and well favored. They are idolaters, and are dependent on nobody. And I can tell you the quantity of gold they have is endless; for they find it in their own islands." The name Chipangu is the transliteration of the Chinese name which modern scholars write Chi-pen-kue, by which Japan was then known in China. From it the Japanese derived the name Nippon, and then prefixed the term Dai (great), making it Dai Nippon, the name which is now used by them to designate their empire. Europeans transformed the Chinese name into Japan, or Japon, by which the country is known among them at present.

Marco Polo's mention of this island produced a great impression on the discoverers of the fifteenth century. In Toscanelli's map, used by Columbus as the basis of his voyages, "Cipango" occupies a prominent place to the east of Asia, with no American continent between it and Europe. It was the aim of Columbus, and of many subsequent explorers, to find a route to this reputedly rich island and to the eastern shores of Asia.

The islands composing the empire of Japan are situated in the northwestern part of the Pacific ocean. They are part of the long line of volcanic islands stretching from the peninsula of Kamtschatka on the north to Formosa on the south. The direction in which they lie is northeast and southwest, and in a general way they are parallel to the continent.

The latitude of the most northern point of Yezo is 45 deg. 35', and the latitude of the most southern point of Kyushu is 31 deg.. The longitude of the most eastern point of Yezo is 146 deg. 17', and the longitude of the most western point of Kyushu is 130 deg. 31'. The four principal islands therefore extend through 14 deg. 35' of latitude and 15 deg. 46' of longitude.

The Kurile islands(2) extending from Yezo northeast to the straits separating Kamtschatka from the island of Shumushu belong also to Japan. This last island has a latitude of 51 deg. 5' and a longitude of 157 deg. 10'. In like manner the Ryukyu islands, lying in a southwest direction from Kyushu belong to Japan. The most distant island has a latitude of 24 deg. and a longitude of 123 deg. 45'. The whole Japanese possessions therefore extend through a latitude of 27 deg. 5' and a longitude of 33 deg. 25'.

The empire consists of four large islands and not less than three thousand small ones. Some of these small islands are large enough to constitute distinct provinces, but the greater part are too small to have a separate political existence, and are attached for administrative purposes to the parts of the large islands opposite to which they lie. The principal island is situated between Yezo on the north and Kyushu on the south.

From Omasaki, the northern extremity at the Tsugaru straits, to Tokyo, the capital, the island runs nearly north and south a distance of about 590 miles, and from Tokyo to the Shimonoseki straits the greatest extension of the island is nearly east and west, a distance of about 540 miles. That is, measuring in the direction of the greatest extension, the island is about 1130 miles long. The width of the island is nowhere greater than two hundred miles and for much of its length not more than one hundred miles.

Among the Japanese this island has no separate name.(3) It is often called by them Hondo(4) which may be translated Main island. By this translated name the principal island will be designated in these pages. The term Nippon or more frequently Dai Nippon (Great Nippon) is used by them to designate the entire empire, and it is not to be understood as restricted to the principal island.

The second largest island is Yezo, lying northeast from the Main island and separated from it by the Tsugaru straits. Its longest line is from Cape Shiretoko at its northeast extremity to Cape Shira-kami on Tsugaru straits, about 350 miles; and from its northern point, Cape Soya on the La Perouse straits to Yerimosaki, it measures about 270 miles. The centre of the island is an elevated peak, from which rivers flow in all directions to the ocean. Hakodate the principal port is situated on Tsugaru straits and possesses one of the most commodious harbors of the empire.

The third in size of the great islands of Japan is Kyushu, a name meaning nine provinces, referring to the manner in which it was divided in early times. It lies south from the western extremity of the Main island. Its greatest extension is from north to south, being about 200 miles. Its width from east to west varies from sixty to ninety miles. Its temperature and products partake of a tropical character.

To the east of Kyushu lies Shikoku (meaning four provinces) which is the fourth of the great islands of Japan. It is about one half as large as Kyushu, which in climate and productions it much resembles. It is south of the western extension of the Main island and is nearly parallel to it. Its length is about 170 miles.

In the early history of Japan one of its names among the natives was Oyashima, meaning the Great Eight Islands. The islands included in this name were: the Main island, Kyushu, Shikoku, Awaji, Sado, Tsushima, Oki, and Iki. The large island of Yezo had not then been conquered and added to the empire.

Awaji is situated in the Inland sea between the Main island and Shikoku. It is about fifty miles long and has an area of 218 square miles. Sado is situated in the Japan sea, off the northwest coast of the Main island. It is about forty-eight miles long and has an area of about 335 square miles. Tsushima lies half-way between Japan and Korea, and has a length of about forty-six miles, and an area of about 262 square miles. Oki lies off the coast of Izumo and has an area of about 130 square miles. Finally Iki, the smallest of the original great eight islands, lies west of the northern extremity of Kyushu and has an area of fifty square miles.

The Japanese islands are invested on the east by the Pacific ocean. They are separated from the continent by the Okhotsk sea, the Japan sea, and the Yellow sea. The Kuro Shiwo (black current) flows from the tropical waters in a northeast direction, skirting the islands of Japan on their east coasts, and deflecting its course to the eastward carries its ameliorating influences to the west coast of America. It is divided by the projecting southern extremity of the island of Kyushu, and a perceptible portion of it flows on the west coast of the Japanese islands through the Japan sea and out again into the Pacific ocean through the Tsugaru and the La Perouse straits. The effect of the Kuro Shiwo upon the climate and productions of the lands along which it flows is not greatly different from that of the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic ocean, which in situation, direction, and volume it resembles.

The body of water known among foreigners as the Inland sea, but which the Japanese call Seto-no-Uchi-Umi (the sea within the straits), is a picturesque sheet of water situated between the Linschoten straits on the east and the Shimonoseki straits on the west. The latter is seven miles long and at its narrowest part not more than two thousand feet wide. It separates Kyushu on the south from the Main island on the north. The Inland sea is occupied by an almost countless number of islands, which bear evidence of volcanic origin, and are covered with luxuriant vegetation. The lines of steamers from Shanghai and Nagasaki to the various ports on the Main island, and numberless smaller craft in every direction, run through the Inland sea.

The principal islands of Japan are interspersed with mountains, hills and valleys. Yezo the most northern of these islands is traversed by two ranges of mountains; the one being the extension of the island of Saghalien, the other the extension of the Kurile islands. These two ranges cross each other at the centre of the island, and here the greatest elevation is to be found. The shape given to the island by these intersecting ranges is that of a four-pointed star. The rivers in nearly all cases flow from the centre outward to the sea. There are few large rivers. The most important is the Ishikari which empties into Ishikari bay. The valley of this river is the most rich and fertile part of the island.

The mountain ranges on the Main island extend usually in the greatest direction of the island. In the northern and central portions the ranges chiefly run north and south. In the western extension of this island the mountain ranges run in nearly an east and west direction. The ordinary height attained by these ranges is not great, but there are many volcanic peaks which rise out of the surrounding mass to a great elevation. The highest mountain in Japan is Fuji-san (sometimes called Fuji-yama). It is almost conical in shape; although one side has been deformed by a volcanic eruption which occurred in 1707. It stands not far from the coast, and is directly in view from the steamers entering the bay of Tokyo on their way to Yokohama. It is about sixty miles from Tokyo in a direct line, and there are many places in the city from which it can be seen. Its top is covered with snow during ten months of the year, which the heat of August and September melts away. The height of Fuji-san according to the measurement of English naval officers is 12,365 feet.(5)

Next to Fuji-san the mountains most worthy of notice are Gas-san in Uzen, Mitake in Shinano, the Nikko mountains in Shimotsuke, Haku-san in Kaga, Kirishima-yama in Hyuga, and Asama-yama in Shinano. Asama-yama is about 8,000 feet high, and is an active volcano.

From time immemorial the Japanese islands have been affected with earthquakes. Occasionally they have been severe and destructive, but usually slight and ineffective. It is said that not less than five hundred shocks(6) occur in Japan each year. The last severe earthquake was in the autumn of 1891, when the central part of the Main island, especially in the neighborhood of Gifu, was destructively disturbed. During the long history of the empire many notable cases(7) have occurred. Mr. Hattori-Ichijo in a paper read before the Asiatic Society of Japan, March, 1878, has compiled a list of destructive earthquakes, and has deduced from it some important generalizations.

Closely associated with earthquakes in Japan as elsewhere are the phenomena of volcanoes. The whole archipelago bears evidence of volcanic formation. The long line of islands stretching from Kamtschatka to Borneo is plainly the product of continued volcanic action. Dr. Rein(8) enumerates eighteen active volcanoes now in existence within the empire. Fuji-san in all its beauty was no doubt thrown up as a volcano. The last time it was in action was in 1707, when in connection with a series of severe earthquake shocks, an eruption took place on the south side of the mountain, and its symmetrical form was destroyed by the production of the new crater, Hoye-san.

Among the mountainous districts many small lakes are found, a few of which are large enough to be navigated. In Yezo there are six considerable lakes. In the Main island the largest lake is Biwa, in the beautiful mountain region north of Kyoto. It received its name from its fancied resemblance to the shape of a musical instrument called a biwa. There is a legend that this lake came into existence in a single night, when the volcanic mountain Fuji-san 300 miles distant was raised to its present height. It is about fifty miles long and about twenty miles broad at its greatest width. It is said to be not less than 330 feet at its greatest depth. It is navigated by steamboats and smaller craft. It is situated about 350 feet above the ocean. Lake Suwa in Shinano is 2,635 feet above the ocean. Lake Chuzenji in the Nikko mountains is 4,400 feet; and Hakone lake near Yokohama is 2,400 feet.

Owing to the narrowness of the Main island, there are no rivers of a large size. Most of them take their rise in the mountainous regions of the middle of the islands, and by a more or less circuitous route find their way to the ocean. The Tone-gawa (gawa means river) is the longest and broadest of the rivers of Japan. It rises in Kotsuke and flows in an eastern direction, receiving many tributaries, attains a breadth of more than a mile, and with a current much narrowed, empties into the Pacific ocean at Choshi point. It is about 170 miles long and is navigated by boats for a great distance. The Shinano-gawa, which may be named as second in size, rises in the province of Shinano, flows in a northern direction, and empties into the Japan sea at Ni-igata. The Kiso-gawa also rises in the high lands of Shinano, and, flowing southward, empties into Owari bay. The Fuji-kawa(9) takes its rise in the northern part of the province of Kai, and in its course skirting the base of Fuji-san on the west, empties into Suruga bay. It is chiefly notable for being one of the swiftest streams in Japan and liable to sudden and great floods.

To these rivers may be added the Yodo-gawa, which is the outlet of Lake Biwa, in the province of Omi, and which flows through Kyoto, and empties into the Inland sea at Osaka. This river is navigable for flat-bottomed steamboats as far as Kyoto. In the islands of Kyushu and Shikoku there are no large rivers; but there are many streams which give to these islands their richness and fertility.

The climate of Japan, as might be expected from its great stretch from north to south, and the varied circumstances of ocean currents, winds, and mountains, is very different in the different parts. The latitude of Tokyo is 35 deg., which is not very different from that of Cyprus in the Mediterranean, or the city of Raleigh in North Carolina. Besides the latitude of the islands of Japan, the most noticeable cause of their climatic condition is the Kuro Shiwo (black current). This current flows from the tropical regions near the Philippine islands, impinges on the southern islands, and is divided by them into two unequal parts. The greater part skirts the Japanese islands on their east coast, imparting to them that warm and moist atmosphere, which is one source of the fertility of their soil and beauty of their vegetation. To this important cause must be added another, which is closely related to it in its effects. The Japanese islands are in the region of the north-east monsoon,(10) which affects in a marked degree the climate of all parts over which the winds extend. The same monsoon blows over the eastern countries of the continent, but the insular character of Japan and the proximity of the warm current on both sides of the islands give to the winds which prevail a character which they do not possess on the continent. During the greater part of September the northern wind blows, which brings a colder temperature, condensing the moisture contained in the atmosphere. This month is therefore generally a rainy month. Gradually the atmosphere becomes more dry, and the beautiful autumn and early winter follow in course.

The winter is very different in the different parts. On the east coast the temperature is very moderate. Even as far north as Tokyo the snow rarely falls to a depth of more than a few inches, and then rapidly melts away. Ice seldom forms to a thickness, even on protected waters, to permit skating. In all this region, however, snow covers the high mountains.

On the west coast of the Main island the conditions are very different. The winds of the continent take up the moisture of the Japan sea, and carry it to the west coast, and then, coming in contact with high ranges of mountains which run down the middle of the island, impart their moisture in the form of rain in summer, and snow in winter. These circumstances produce extraordinary falls of snow on the west coast. This is particularly true of the provinces of Kaga, Noto, Etchu, Echigo, and even farther north, especially in the mountainous regions. In the northern part of these districts the snow is often as much as twenty feet deep during the winter months. The inhabitants are obliged to live in the second stories of their houses and often find it necessary to make steps from their houses out to the top of the snow. One effect of these deep snows is to cover up with a safe protection the shrubs and tender plants which would otherwise be exposed to the chilling winds of winter. By this means the tea-shrub and the camellia, which could not withstand the open winter winds, are protected so as to grow luxuriantly.

The southern islands are materially warmer than the Main island. The tropical current together with the warm sunshine due to their low latitude, immerses them in a moist and warm atmosphere. Their productions are of a sub-tropical character. Cotton, rice, tobacco, sugar, sweet potatoes, oranges, yams, and other plants of a warm latitude, flourish in Kyushu and Shikoku. The high mountains and the well watered valleys, the abundance of forest trees, and wild and luxuriant vegetation,(11) give to these islands an aspect of perennial verdure.

The productions of the Main island are, as might be expected, far more various. In the southern part, especially that part bordering on the Inland sea, the productions are to a large extent similar to those in the southern islands. Rice and cotton are raised in great abundance. Tea flourishes particularly in the provinces near Kyoto and also in the rich valleys of the east coast. Silk-raising is a principal occupation. Nearly one half in value of all the exports from Japan is raw and manufactured silk, and a large part of the remainder is tea. The principal food raised in nearly all the islands is rice. The streams of water which abound everywhere make the irrigation which rice cultivation requires easy and effective. Besides the rice which is raised in paddy land there is also a variety called upland rice. This grows without irrigation but is inferior to the principal variety in productiveness. In the early rituals of the Shinto temples prayers were always offered for the five cereals. These were understood to be rice, millet, barley, beans, and sorghum. All these have been cultivated from early times, and can be successfully raised in almost all parts of the islands. Rice cannot, however, be raised north of the Main island. Millet, barley, and beans are cultivated everywhere, and are the principal articles of food among the country population. Buckwheat is also cultivated in all northern parts. It is believed to have been introduced from Manchuria where it is found growing wild.

The domestic animals of Japan are by no means so abundant as in the corresponding parts of the continent. The horse has existed here from antiquity but was only used for riding or as a pack-horse, but never until recently was used for driving. The cow, owing perhaps to the restrictive influence of the Buddhist doctrines, was never used for food. Even milk, butter, and cheese, which from time immemorial formed such important articles of food throughout Europe and among the nomadic peoples of Asia, were never used. Sheep are almost unknown even to this day, and where they have been introduced it is only in very recent times and by foreign enterprise. Goats are sometimes but not commonly found. On the island of Oshima,(12) off the province of Izu, they had multiplied to so great an extent and were so destructive to vegetation that about 1850 the inhabitants combined to extirpate them. Swine are found in the Ryukyu islands, where they had been brought from China and they are found only incidentally in other places when introduced by foreigners. Dogs and cats and barnyard fowl are found in all the islands.

Wild animals are only moderately abundant, as is natural in a country so thickly inhabited. The black bear is found frequently in the well-wooded mountains of Yezo and the northern part of the Main island. The great bear, called also by the Japanese the red bear, and which is the same as the grizzly bear of North America, is also common in the Kurile islands and in Yezo. The wolf is sometimes found and the fox is common. The superstitions concerning the fox are as remarkable as those in the north of Europe, and have doubtless prevented its destruction. Deer are found in abundance in almost all parts of the islands. They are, however, most common in Yezo where immense herds feed upon the plentiful herbage.

The waters around Japan abound in fish. The coast is indented by bays and inlets which give opportunity for fishing. The warm currents flowing past the islands bring a great variety of fish which otherwise would not reach these islands. By far the most common article of food, other than vegetable, is the fish of various kinds and the shell-fish which are caught on the coasts and carried inland to almost all parts.

The division of the empire into provinces (kuni) was an important step in practical administration, and it is often referred to in these pages. This division was first made by the Emperor Seimu A.D. 131-190, when thirty-two provinces were constituted. The northern boundary of the empire was indicated by a line across the Main island from Sendai bay to a place on the west coast nearly corresponding to the present situation of Ni-igata. North of this line was the acknowledged territory of the Ainos, and even south of it were many tracts which were the disputed border.

The Empress Jingo, after her return from the expedition against Korea in A.D. 303, introduced the Korean system of division, by constituting the home provinces and circuits. After some changes and subdivisions in subsequent times the apportionment was settled as follows: Gokinai or the five home provinces, viz. Yamashiro, Yamato, Kawachi, Izumi, and Settsu; Tokaido, or eastern sea circuit, 15 provinces; Tozando, or eastern mountain circuit, eight provinces; Sanindo, or mountain back circuit, eight provinces; Sanyodo, or mountain front circuit, eight provinces; and Saikaido, or western sea circuit, nine provinces; in all sixty-eight provinces. After the close of the war of restoration in 1868, the large territories in the north of the Main island represented by the provinces of Mutsu and Dewa, which had been conquered from the Ainos, were subdivided into seven provinces, thus making seventy-three. Still later the island of Yezo, with which were associated the Kurile islands, was created a circuit under the name of Hok-kaido, or north sea circuit, having eleven provinces. The number of existing provinces therefore is eighty-four. In recent times these eighty-four provinces have for administrative purposes been consolidated into three imperial cities (fu), forty-two prefectures (ken), and one territory (cho). The imperial cities (fu) are Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto; the one territory (cho) comprises the island of Yezo and the adjacent small islands including the Kuriles; and the prefectures (ken) have been formed from the provinces by combining and consolidating them in accordance with their convenience and proximity.

There are only a few large cities in Japan, but very many of a small size.(13) Tokyo,(14) the capital, contains 1,155,200 inhabitants. Osaka, the second largest city contains 473,541; Kyoto, the old capital, 289,588; Nagoya, 170,433; Kobe, 136,968; and Yokohama, 127,987. These are all the cities containing as many as 100,000 inhabitants. Besides these there are four cities which have between 100,000 and 60,000; twelve which have between 60,000 and 40,000, and twelve which have between 40,000 and 30,000. The number of smaller towns is very great. The division of the country into daimiates, and the maintenance of a daimyo town in each led to the establishment of many cities and large villages.

The population of the empire of Japan is to a large extent massed in cities and villages. Even in the country, among the farmers, the people are gathered in settlements with wide spaces of cultivated and uncultivated land between. This is due in a great measure to the character of the crops and to the primitive nature of the cultivation. Rice, which is the most common crop, requires irrigation for its successful tillage. This limits the area occupied to the valleys and to those hillsides where the streams can be diverted to the rice fields. The area of land under actual cultivation is about 12,000,000 acres. It has been estimated that the average amount of land under cultivation is only three quarters of an acre for each of those engaged in farming. This amount seems to us very little and can only be explained by the character of the cultivation. The land almost always is made to bear two crops each year. As soon as one crop is cleared away, and often even before that, another is planted.

According to the census(15) of 1890 the population of the Japanese empire is as follows:

Kwazoku (nobles) 3,768 Shizoku (samurai) 2,008,641 Heimin (common people) 38,441,052 Total 40,453,461

The areas of the several large islands and their dependencies together with their population are given below:

Sq. m. Population. Main island and dependencies 87,485 31,052,068 Shikoku and dependencies 7,031 2,879,260 Kyushu and dependencies 16,841 6,228,419 Yezo and dependencies 36,299 293,714 Totals 147,656 40,453,461

Shintoists: Preacher

Shintoists: Dancer

Shintoists: Assistant

Shintoists: The Mirror Dance


In the present population of Japan there are two distinct races, the Ainos and the Japanese. Of the former there is only a small number now remaining in the island of Yezo. There was also a remnant in the island of Saghalien, but in 1875, when a treaty was made with Russia ceding the Japanese claim to the southern half of Saghalien in exchange for the Kurile islands, permission was granted for all Japanese subjects who wished, to remove to the Japanese island of Yezo. Accordingly among other Japanese subjects seven hundred and fifty Ainos removed to the valley of the Ishikari, where they have continued to reside.

Aino Family

The Ainos are probably the original race, who in early times inhabited the Main island down to the Hakone pass and possibly farther to the south. From Japanese history we learn that the military forces of the empire were constantly employed to suppress the disturbances caused by the barbarous people of the north. The necessity of this forcible repression, which frequently recurred, was a chief reason for the formation of a military class in the early history of Japan. One of the duties imposed on Yamato-dake by his imperial father (A.D. 71-130) was to chastise and subdue the Yemishi. This is the name by which the barbarous peoples of the north and east were known among the Japanese. According to Chamberlain(16) in his translation of Kojiki, the Chinese characters with which the Yemishi is written mean Prawn Barbarians, in allusion to the long beards which make their faces resemble a prawn's head. The hairy people now known as Ainos are almost certainly referred to. The origin of the term Aino is unknown. By the Japanese it is believed to be derived from inu, meaning a dog, and to have been bestowed on them in contempt. The name is not used by the Ainos themselves. In common with the inhabitants of the Kurile islands and the Japanese portion of Saghalien they call themselves Yezo.

The present characteristics of the Ainos have led many to doubt whether they are really the descendants of the hardy barbarians who so long withstood the military power of the Japanese. But the effect of centuries of repression and conquest must be taken into account. The Ainos have become the peaceable and inoffensive people which we now find them, by many generations of cruel and imperious restraint. That they should have become in this sequence of events a quiet and submissive people is not wonderful. The number of Ainos in the island of Yezo is given in 1880, which is the last census made of them, as 16,637(17); and this number is believed to be gradually decreasing. Travellers who have visited them unite in testifying to their great amiability and docility. Physically they are a sturdy and well developed race. The characteristic which has been noticed in them more than any other is the abundant growth of hair. The men have a heavy and bushy head of hair and a full beard which is allowed to grow down to their chests. Other parts of the body are also covered with a growth which far surpasses that of the ordinary races. In the matter of food, clothing, houses and implements, they remain in the most primitive condition. In personal habits they are far less cleanly than their Japanese neighbors. Travellers(18) who have remained with them for many weeks assert that in all that time they never saw them wash either their persons or their clothes.

They practise few arts. The making of pottery even in its rudest forms is unknown. All vessels in use are obtained by barter from the Japanese. Occasionally an old-fashioned Japanese matchlock gun is found among them, but mainly their hunting is carried on with bows and arrows. Their fishing is conducted with the rude apparatus which their ancestors used. They have no written language, and even the pictorial writing, which has often been found among rude people, seems to be utterly unknown among them. Their religious ideas(19) are of the most vague and incoherent description. The objects of worship are chiefly inanimate objects such as rivers, rocks and mountains. They seem to have a certain fear of the spirit land. They do not readily talk about their deceased ancestors. Their places of burial are concealed, and foreigners rarely obtain access to them.

In their rude superstitions the bear seems to have a singular part. Whether their traditions concerning this animal had their origin in some earlier fear of the bear as a ferocious neighbor it is impossible to determine. In every community the men capture each spring a young cub which they bring home. They entrust it to a woman who feeds it on the milk from her breast. When it is too old to be further nursed in this way, it is confined in a bear cage provided for the purpose. Then in the autumn of the following year the grand bear festival is held. At an appointed signal the door of the cage is opened and the bear, which has been infuriated by hunger and teasing attacks, rushes out. The assembled hunters rush upon him with bows and arrows, clubs and knives, and after an exciting struggle despatch him. The carcass is cut in pieces and distributed among the families of the community, who feast upon it with great delight. Mingled with this rough and exciting scene is much sake drinking. This is one accomplishment which they have learned from the Japanese. The men are all confirmed sake drinkers, and both men and women persistent smokers. Of the meaning and object of this bear feast the Ainos themselves are ignorant. It goes back to a period beyond their present traditions. Whether it has in it an element of bear worship it is impossible to learn.

The remains of the Stone age which are found in the northern part of the Main island are usually attributed to the Ainos. These remains have been collected and studied both by native scholars and by foreigners. Among the most important of them have been the articles found in shell heaps uncovered in different parts of the empire. The first(20) to which foreign attention was drawn was that at Omori, near Tokyo. Since then many others have been opened and many valuable finds have been reported. The shell heaps have evidently been used like kitchen-middens in Europe and elsewhere, as places for dumping the refuse of shell-fish used for food. These became places for the throwing of useless and broken articles used in the household, and thus have been the means of preserving many of the implements used in prehistoric times. The most significant discovery made in these shell heaps was that at Omori, of the bones of human beings artificially broken in such a way as to indicate that cannibalism had been prevalent at the time. Whether this can be assumed as sufficient proof of so grave a charge has been disputed. It is claimed(21) that in at least seven similar shell heaps no human bones and no evidences of cannibalism were found. If however the case is considered as sufficiently proved, it is clear from this as well as from many other circumstances that the Ainos of that early day were by no means the mild and gentle race which we now find them. It is interesting to note that Marco Polo(22) mentions cannibalism as one of the customs which were believed to exist in Japan in his day.

Besides the Ainos there is evidence of the existence of another savage tribe, which at an early date seems to have been found in many parts of the Main island, and at a later date in the island of Yezo and the Kurile islands on the north. They are the so-called pit-dwellers. In the very earliest writings of the Japanese we find references to them. They dug pits in the earth and built over them a roof, and used these pits or cellars as rooms in which to sleep. The Japanese conquerors in the central parts of the Main island had many conflicts with these pit-dwellers. And in the north and east they as well as the Ainos were encountered by the military forces of the empire. They were probably driven north by the more powerful Ainos and have almost disappeared. Abundant evidence(23) however is found in the island of Yezo of their previous existence. The Ainos in their traditions call them Koro-pok-guru,(24) or hole-men. Among the Japanese they are spoken of as Ko-bito, or dwarfs. There are said to be still in Yezo the remains of villages where these men lived in earlier times. In the Kurile islands, in the peninsula of Kamtschatka, and in the southern part of Saghalien remnants of this primitive people are met with.

Turning now to the Japanese race which extends from the Kurile islands on the north to the Ryukyu islands on the south, we see at once that it is a mixed race containing widely different elements. Even after the many centuries during which the amalgamation has been going on, we recognize still the varying types to which the individuals tend. In the south more than in the north, and more among the ruling classes than in the laboring classes there are specimens of a delicate, refined appearance, face oval, eyes oblique, nose slightly Roman, and frame delicate but well proportioned. Then there is another type which has been recognized by all observers. It is found more in the north than the south and is much more common among the laboring population than among the higher classes. The face is broad and the cheek bones prominent. The nose is flat and the eyes are horizontal. The frame is robust and muscular, but not so well proportioned and regular as in the former type. These two types with many intervening links are found everywhere. The characteristics are perhaps more marked among the women than the men. Especially among the aristocracy the women have been less affected by weather and exposure and physical exertion than the men. In the regions about Kyoto and in the western portions of the Main island the prevalence of what may be called the aristocratic type is most marked. Even in the time of the Dutch trade with Japan, Kaempfer(25) refers to the women of Saga, on the south coast of the Inland sea, as "handsomer than in any other Asiatic country." The northern regions, including the old provinces of Mutsu and Dewa, show a much larger element of the more robust type. The men are more muscular and of a darker complexion. Their faces are broader and flatter and their hair and beard more abundant. They show probably the influence of the admixture with the Aino race, which within historic times inhabited these provinces.

Dr. Baelz, a German scholar who has spent many years in Japan, has devoted much study to the races of Japan, and has made elaborate measurements both of living specimens and skeletons. His conclusions may be safely followed, as having been reached by adequate study and by personal investigation.(26) Mainly following him therefore we give briefly the results of the best thought in regard to the ethnography of the races now inhabiting the Japanese islands.

The Ainos of the present day are the descendants of the original occupants of northern and central portions of the Main island. Their share in the ancestry of the present Japanese people is not great, but still sensible, and has contributed to the personal peculiarities which are found in the inhabitants of these regions. They probably came originally from the continent by way of the Kurile islands, or by the island of Saghalien. They belong to the northern group of the Mongolians who inhabit the regions about Kamtschatka and adjacent parts of Siberia. They have left marks of their occupancy on the Main island as far south as the Hakone pass, in the shell heaps, flint arrow-heads, and remains of primitive pottery which are still found. These marks indicate a low degree of civilization, and the persistence with which they withstood the Japanese conquerors, and the harshness and contempt with which they were always treated, have prevented them from mingling to any great extent with their conquerors or accepting their culture.

The twofold character of the Japanese race as it is seen at present can best be explained by two extensive migrations from the continent. The first of these migrations probably took place from Korea, whence they landed on the Main island in the province of Izumo. This will account for the mythological legends which in the early Japanese accounts cluster to so great an extent around Izumo. It will also explain why it was that when Jimmu Tenno came on his expedition from the island of Kyushu, he found on the Main island inhabitants who in all essential particulars resembled his own forces, and with whom he formed alliances. This first migration seems to have belonged to a rougher and more barbarous tribe of the Mongolian race, and has given rise to the more robust and muscular element now found among the people.

The second migration may have come across by the same route and landed on the island of Kyushu. They may have marched across the island or skirted around its southern cape and spread themselves out in the province of Hyuga, where in the Japanese accounts we first find them. This migration probably occurred long after the first, and came evidently from a more cultured tribe of the great Mongolian race. That they came from the same race is evident from their understanding the same language, and having habits and methods of government which were not a surprise to the new-comers, and in which they readily co-operated. On the contrary, the ruder tribes at the north of the Main island were spoken of as Yemishi,—that is, barbarians, and recognized from the first as different and inferior.

While the natural and easiest route to Japan would be by way of the peninsula of Korea, and by the narrow straits about 125 miles in width,—divided into two shorter parts by the island Tsushima lying about half-way between,—it is possible that this second migration may have taken place through Formosa and the Ryukyu islands. This would perhaps account better for the Malay element which is claimed by many to be found in the population of the southern islands. This is attempted to be accounted for by the drifting of Malay castaways along the equatorial current upon the Ryukyu islands, whence they spread to the southern islands of Japan. But the existence of this Malay element is denied by many observers who have visited the Ryukyu islands and aver that among the islanders there is no evidence of the existence at any time of a Malay immigration, that the language is only slightly different from the Japanese, and in personal appearance they are as like to the Koreans and Chinese as the Japanese themselves.

Some of the most important measurements which Dr. Baelz has made of the Japanese races are here given, converted into English measures for more ready comprehension.

The average height of the males among the Japanese, as obtained by the measurements of skeletons verified by measurements of living specimens, is 5.02 feet, ranging from 4.76 feet to 5.44 feet. The average height of the females measured was 4.66 feet, ranging from 4.46 feet to 4.92 feet. Referring to the skulls measured by him he says that relatively they are large, as is always the case among people of small size.

The measurements of the Ainos by Dr. Scheube as given by Dr. Rein(27) are: average height of males 4.9 feet to 5.2 feet, and of females 4.8 feet to 5.0 feet, which do not differ very greatly from the measurements of the Japanese as given by Dr. Baelz.


The art of writing and printing was not introduced into Japan until A.D. 284, when it was brought from China. Up to that time therefore no written accounts existed or could exist of the early history of the country. Oral tradition was the only agency by which a knowledge of the events of that epoch could be preserved and transmitted. That such a method of preserving history(28) is uncertain and questionable no one can doubt. We may expect to find therefore in the accounts which have come down to us of those centuries which transpired before written records were introduced, much that is contradictory and unintelligible, and much out of which the truth can be gleaned only by the most painstaking research.

The oldest book of Japanese history which has come down to us is called _Kojiki_,(29) or _Records of Ancient _ Matters_. This work was undertaken by the direction of the Emperor Temmu (A.D. 673-686), who became impressed with the necessity of collecting the ancient traditions which were still extant, and preserving them in a permanent record. Before the work was ended the emperor died, and for twenty-five years the collected traditions were preserved in the memory of Hiyeda-no-are. At the end of that time the Empress Gemmyo superintended its completion, and it was finally presented to the Court in A.D. 711. By a comparison of this work with _Nihongi_, or _Chronicles of Japan_, which was completed A.D. 720, only nine years after the other, we are convinced that the era of Chinese classicism had not yet fallen upon the country. The style of the older book is a purer Japanese, and imparts to us the traditions of Japanese history uncolored by Chinese philosophical ideas and classic pedantry which shortly after overwhelmed Japanese literature. But in many particulars these two works, almost equally ancient, supplement and explain each other. The events given in the two are in most respects the same, the principal difference being that the _Chronicles_ is much more tinctured with Chinese philosophy, and the myths concerning the creation especially show the influence of that dual system which had been introduced to give a philosophical aspect to the Japanese cosmogony.

The Kojiki(30) has been translated into English, to which have been added a valuable introduction and notes. The Nihongi (Chronicles of Japan) has never been translated entire into English, but has been used by scholars in connection with the Kojiki. Among the Japanese it has always been more highly esteemed than the Kojiki, perhaps because of its more learned and classical style.

Besides these two historical works the student of early times finds his chief assistance in the Shinto rituals(31) contained in a work called Yengishiki (Code of Ceremonial Law). They have been in part translated by Mr. Satow, who for many years was the learned Japanese secretary of the British legation, and who read two papers on them before the Asiatic Society of Japan, and afterward prepared an article on the same subject for the Westminster Review.(32)

It will be apparent from these circumstances that the knowledge of the earlier events, indeed of all preceding the ninth century, must be derived from tradition and cannot claim the same certainty as when based on contemporaneous documents. Not only the whole of the so-called divine age, but the reigns of the emperors from Jimmu to Richu, must be reckoned as belonging to the traditional period of Japanese history, and must be sifted and weighed by the processes of reason.

Relying on the narratives of the Kojiki and the Nihongi, Japanese scholars have constructed a table of the emperors which has been accepted by the great mass of the readers, both foreign and native. It will be found in the Appendix.(33) It must be remembered that the names of these early emperors, their ages at the time of accession and at the time of death, and the length of reign, must have all been handed down by tradition during almost a thousand years. That errors and uncertainties should have crept in seems inevitable. Either the names and order of the successive emperors, or the length of time during which they reigned would be liable to be misstated. If we examine the list of emperors(34) we find that the ages at death of the first seventeen, beginning with Jimmu and ending with Nintoku, sum up 1853 years, with an average of 109 years(35) for each. The age of Jimmu is given as 127 years; of Koan 137 years, of Korei 128 years, of Keiko 143 years, of Nintoku, the last, 110 years, etc. Then suddenly the ages of the emperors from Richu onward drop to 67, 60, 80, 56, etc., so that the ages of the seventeen emperors, beginning with Richu, have an average of only 61-1/2 years. This reasonable average extends down through the long series to the present time. It is plain that up to this time there must have existed a different system of reckoning the ages than that which pertained afterwards. Either the original epoch of the Emperor Jimmu has been rendered more remote and the lives of the emperors have been prolonged to fill up the space, or, if we assume the epoch of Jimmu to be correct, we must suppose that a number of the emperors have been dropped from the count.

The sudden depression in the ages occurs about the time of the introduction of writing from China, which occurred in A.D. 284. Wani, who came from Korea to Japan bringing continental culture with him, was appointed tutor to the heir-apparent who became the Emperor Nintoku. During his and subsequent reigns a knowledge of Chinese writing gradually spread, so that the annals of the Imperial court were kept in regular and stated order. This will account without difficulty for the sudden change and for the irregularity of the early chronology.

Notwithstanding the almost absolute certainty of error which exists in the received Japanese chronology, it is by far more convenient to accept it in the form it is presented to us, and use it as if it were true. The early history must be treated as traditional and only the later period from the beginning of the fourth century can be accepted as in any sense historical. Yet the events of the earlier period which have been preserved for us by oral tradition are capable with due care and inspection of furnishing important lessons and disclosing many facts in regard to the lives and characteristics of the primitive Japanese.

In writing the history of Rome, Dr. Thomas Arnold(36) said that the only way to treat its early history was to give the early legends in as nearly the form in which they had been handed down as possible; that in this way the spirit of the people would be preserved and the residuum of truth in them would become the heritage of the present generation. We have tried to treat the myths and legends of Japanese history in this manner, and have given the principal stories as they are preserved among the Japanese.

The Origin of the Celestial Deities.

The scene opens in the plain of high heaven. When heaven and earth began there were three deities(37) in existence, that is:

Master-of-the-August-Centre-of-Heaven, High-August-Producing-Wondrous-Deity, Divine-Producing-Wondrous-Deity.

These three came into existence without creation and afterwards died.

Then two other deities were born from a thing that sprouted up like unto a reed shoot when the earth, young and like unto floating oil, drifted about medusa-like, viz.:

Pleasant-Reed-Shoot-Prince-Elder-Deity, Heavenly-Externally-Standing-Deity.

These two deities likewise came into existence without creation and afterward died.

The five deities above named are called the Heavenly Deities.

Next were born,

Earthly-Eternally-Standing-Deity, Luxuriant-Integrating-Master-Deity.

These two deities likewise came into existence without creation and afterwards died.

Next were born,

Mud-Earth-Lord and Mud-Earth-Lady, Germ-Integrating-Deity and Life-Integrating-Deity, Elder-of-the-Great-Place and Elder-Lady-of-the-Great-Place, Perfect-Exterior and Oh-Awful-Lady, The-Male-who-invites and The-Female-who-invites; or Izanagi and Izanami.

The two deities named above together with these five pairs are called the seven divine generations.

The Creation of the Japanese Islands.

Then the heavenly deities gave commandment to Izanagi and Izanami to make, consolidate, and give birth to this drifting land. For their divine mission they received a heavenly jewelled spear. With this, standing on the floating bridge of heaven, they reached down and stirred the brine and then drew up the spear. The brine that dripped from the end of the spear was piled up and became the island of Onogoro(38) or Self-Coagulated Island. Then the pair descended upon this island and erected thereon a palace eight fathoms long. Here they lived and begat successive islands. The first was the island of Hirugo, which, as it was a miscarriage, they put in a boat of bulrushes and let it float away. The second was the island of Awa, which also is not reckoned among their offspring. The next was the island of Awaji,(39) and the next the land of Iyo by which is understood the present island of Shikoku.

So in succession they produced the islands of Mitsugo, near the island of Oki, the island of Tsukushi, which is now called Kyushu, the island of Iki, the island of Tsu, and the island of Sado, and lastly the Great-Yamato-the-Luxuriant-Island-of-the-Dragon-Fly, which is supposed to mean the principal island, named in these pages the Main island. Afterward they produced Kojima in Kibi, Oshima, the island of Adzuki, the island of Hime, the island of Chika, and the islands of Futago.

Thus were finished the labors of this industrious pair in producing the islands of Japan. Then they turned to the duty of begetting additional deities, and thirty-five are named as their descendants. But as their names do not appear in the record of subsequent events, we omit them here. Finally the Deity of Fire was born, and the mother in giving birth to this child died and departed into hades. Izanagi was overwhelmed with grief at his wife's death. The tears which he shed turned into the Crying-Weeping-Female-Deity. In his madness he drew the ten-grasp(40) sabre with which he was augustly girded, and cut off the head of the Deity of Fire. Three deities were born from the blood that stuck to the blade; three were born from the blood that besprinkled the sword guard; two were born from the blood which oozed out through his fingers as they grasped the hilt; and eight were born from the head and trunk of the slaughtered deity.

Descent into Hades.

Then Izanagi resolved to follow his spouse into the land of hades. At the gate of the palace of hades she came out to meet him. After an interview with him she went back to seek the advice of the deities of hades. To her impatient husband she seemed to tarry too long. So he broke off the end-tooth of the comb stuck in his hair, and kindling it as a torch he went in. He was appalled by the dreadful pollution of the place, and by the loathsome condition of his spouse. He fled from the scene followed by the furious guards. By guile and by force, however, he escaped and came again to the upper regions.

Purification of Izanagi.

Then Izanagi, in order to purify himself from the pollution of hades, came to a small stream on the island of Tsukushi. So he threw down the august staff which he carried and it became a deity. He took off his girdle and it became a deity. He threw down his skirt and it became a deity. And he took off his upper garment and it became a deity. And from his trousers which he threw down there was born a deity. Three deities were born from the bracelet which he took from his left arm, and three from the bracelet which he took from his right arm. Thus twelve deities were born from the things which he took off.

Then he found that the waters in the upper reach were too rapid, and the waters in the lower reach were too sluggish. So he plunged into the waters of the middle reach. And as he washed, there were born successive deities, whose names it is not needful to mention. But when he washed his left august eye there was born from it the Heaven-Shining-Great-August-Deity,(41) or as she is often called the Sun Goddess.

When he washed his right august eye there was born His-Augustness-Moon-Night-Possessor. Then when he washed his august nose there was born His-Brave-Swift-Impetuous-Male-Augustness. Thus fourteen deities were born from his bathing. All these deities, as well as those before produced, seem to have come into being in full maturity, and did not need years of growth to develop their final powers.

Izanagi was greatly delighted with the beauty and brilliancy of these last three children. He took from his neck his august necklace and gave it to the Sun Goddess, saying, Rule thou in the plains of high heaven. Then he gave command to the Moon-Night-Possessor, Rule thou the dominion of the night.

And to His-Impetuous-Male-Augustness he commanded, Rule thou the plain of the sea. But His-Impetuous-Male-Augustness did not assume command of his domain, but cried and wept till his beard reached the pit of his stomach. Then Izanagi said to him, How is it that thou dost not take possession of thy domain, but dost wail and weep? He replied, I weep because I wish to go to my mother in hades. Then Izanagi said, If that be so thou shalt not dwell in this land. So he expelled him with a divine expulsion (whatever that may mean).

Visit of His-Impetuous-Male-Augustness to the Heavenly Plains.

Then His-Impetuous-Male-Augustness said, I will first take leave of my sister who rules in the plains of heaven. When the Sun Goddess saw her brother coming she put jewels in her hair and on her arms, slung two quivers of arrows on her back, put an elbow pad upon her left arm, and, brandishing her bow, she went out to meet him. She demanded of him why he ascended hither. Then he replied that he had no malicious intentions; that his august father had expelled him with a divine expulsion, and that he had come to take leave of her before departing to the land of hades.

Thereupon she proposed to him a test of his sincerity. They stood on opposite sides of the tranquil river of heaven. She begged him to reach her his mighty sabre. She broke it into three pieces and crunched the pieces in her mouth, and blew the fragments away. Her breath and the fragments which she blew away were turned into three female deities. Then His-Impetuous-Male-Augustness took the jewels which she wore in her hair, and the jewels which she wore in her head-dress, and the jewels she wore on her left arm, and the jewels she wore on her right arm, and crunched them and blew them out, and they were turned into five male deities. Then the Sun Goddess declared that the three female deities which were produced from her brother's sword belonged to him, and the five male deities which were produced from her own jewels belonged to her. But His-Impetuous-Male-Augustness was angry at this decision, and broke down the fences of her rice fields, and filled up the water sluices, and defiled her garden. And as she sat with her maidens in the weaving hall, he broke a hole in the roof and dropped upon them a piebald horse which he had flayed with a backward flaying.(42)

Retirement of the Sun Goddess.

Then the Sun Goddess closed the door of the cave in which the weaving hall was, and the whole plain of heaven and the Central-Land-of-Reed-Plains were darkened, and night prevailed, and portents of woe were seen on every hand. Myriads of deities assembled in the bed of the tranquil river of heaven and besought the deity Thought-Includer, child of the High-August-Producing-Wondrous-Deity, the second of the original trio of deities, to propose a plan for inducing the Sun Goddess to reappear. They gathered the cocks of the barn-door fowl and made them crow; they wrought a metal mirror; they constructed a string of beautiful jewels; they performed divination with the shoulder-blade of a stag; they took a plant of Sakaki and hung on its branches the strings of jewels, the mirror, and offerings of peace. Then they caused the rituals to be recited, and a dance to be danced, and all the assembled deities laughed aloud. The Sun Goddess heard these sounds of merriment and was amazed. She softly opened the door and looked out, and asked the meaning of all this tumult. They told her it was because they had found another goddess more illustrious than she. At the same time they held before her luminous face the mirror which they had made. Astonished, she stepped out, and they shut and fastened the door behind her. And the plain of heaven and the Central-Land-of-Reed-Plains became light again.

Then the assembled deities took council together, and caused His-Impetuous-Male-Augustness to be punished and expelled with a divine expulsion.

His-Impetuous-Male-Augustness in Izumo.

So His-Impetuous-Male-Augustness came to the river Hi in Izumo. And he found there an old man and an old woman and a young girl, and they were weeping. And he asked them why they wept. And the old man answered. I once had eight daughters; but every year an eight-forked serpent comes and devours one of them; and now it is the time for it to come again. Then the deity said, Wilt thou give me thy daughter if I save her from the serpent? And he eagerly promised her. Then the deity said, Do you brew eight tubs of strong sake, and set each on a platform within an enclosure. So they brewed and set the sake according to his bidding. Then the eight-forked serpent came and putting a head in each tub drank up all the sake, and being intoxicated therewith went to sleep. The deity then with his sabre hacked the serpent in pieces, and the blood flowed out and reddened the river. But when he came to the middle tail his sabre was broken, and when he searched he found that within the tail was a great sword which he took out. And this is the herb-quelling-great-sword.

Then His-Impetuous-Male-Augustness built for himself a palace and dwelt there with his wife, and made the old man the master of his palace.

Here follows a line of legends relating to the deities of the land of Izumo, which do not concern particularly our story, except that they show that Izumo was closely connected with the early migrations from the continent. It must be remembered that Izumo lies almost directly opposite to Korea, and that this would be a natural point to which the nomadic tribes of Asia would turn in seeking for new fields in which to settle.

Plans for Pacifying the Land.

Then the heavenly deities consulted together how they might pacify the lands of Japan. They sent down one of their number to report on its condition. But he went no farther than the floating bridge of heaven, and seeing the violence which prevailed he returned. Then they sent another; but he made friends with the insurgent deities and brought back no report. Again they sent an envoy, who married the daughter of the insurgent deity, and for eight years sent back no report. After this they sent a pheasant down to inquire why a report was not sent. This bird perched on a cassia tree at the palace gate of the delinquent envoy, and he hearing its mournful croaking shot it with an arrow, which flew up through the ether and landed in the plains of heaven. The arrow was shot down again and killed the envoy. Finally two other envoys were sent down, who landed in Izumo, and after some parley with the refractory deities of the land received their adhesion and settled and pacified the land. Then they returned to the heavenly plains and reported that peace was established.

Descent of the August Grandchild.

The Central-Land-of-Reed-Plains(43) being now reported as peaceful, the heavenly deities sent His-Augustness-Heaven-Plenty-Earth-Plenty-Heaven's-Sun-Height-Prince-Rice-Ear-Ruddy-Plenty,(44) who was a grandson of Her-Augustness-the-Sun-Goddess, to dwell in and rule over it. There were joined to him in this mission(45) the Deity-Prince-of-Saruta as his vanguard and five chiefs of companies. They gave him also the string of jewels and the mirror with which the Sun Goddess had been allured from the cave, and also the herb-quelling-great-sword which His-Augustness-the-Impetuous-Male-Deity had taken from the tail of the serpent. And they charged him saying, Regard this mirror precisely as if it were our august spirit, and reverence it as if reverencing us.

Then His-Augustness-Heaven's-Prince-Rice-Ear-Ruddy-Plenty, taking leave of the plains of heaven, and pushing asunder the heavenly spreading clouds, descended upon the peak of Takachiho(46) in Tsukushi, a mountain which is still pointed out in the present island of Kyushu. And noting that the place was an exceedingly good country, he built for himself a palace and dwelt there. And he married a wife who was the daughter of a deity of the place, who bore him three sons whom he named Prince Fire-Shine, Prince Fire-Climax, and Prince Fire-Subside.

Princes Fire-Shine and Fire-Subside.

Now Prince Fire-Shine was a notable fisherman and Prince Fire-Subside was a hunter. And Prince Fire-Subside said unto his elder brother, Let us exchange our occupations and try our luck. And after some hesitation on the part of the elder brother the exchange was made. But Prince Fire-Subside was not successful and lost the fish-hook in the sea. Then Prince Fire-Shine proposed to his younger brother to exchange back the implements which they had used. But the younger brother said he had had no luck and had lost the hook in the sea. But Prince Fire-Shine was angry and demanded his hook. Then Prince Fire-Subside broke his sword into many fragments and made them into fish-hooks, which he gave to his brother in place of the one he had lost. But he would not receive them. Then he made a thousand fish-hooks and offered these. But he said, I want my original hook.

And as Prince Fire-Subside was weeping by the sea shore the Deity Salt-Possessor came to him and asked him why he wept. He replied, I have exchanged a fish-hook with my elder brother, and have lost it, and he will not be satisfied with any compensation I can make, but demands the original hook. Then the Deity Salt-Possessor built a boat and set him in it, and said to him, Sail on in this boat along this way, and you will come to a palace built of fishes' scales. It is the palace of the Deity Ocean-Possessor. There will be a cassia tree by the well near the palace. Go and sit in the top of that tree, and the daughter of the Ocean-Possessor will come to thee and tell thee what to do.

So he sailed away in the boat and came to the palace of the Ocean-Possessor, and he climbed the cassia tree and sat there. And the maidens of the daughter of the Sea Deity came out to draw water, and saw the beautiful young man sitting in the tree. Then he asked them for some water. And they drew water and gave it to him in a jewelled cup. Without drinking from it he took the jewel from his neck and put it in his mouth and spat it into the vessel, and it clung to the vessel. So the maidens took the vessel and the jewel clinging to it into the palace to their mistress. And they told her that a beautiful young man was sitting in the cassia tree by the well.

The Sea Deity then went out himself and recognized the young man as Prince Fire-Subside. He brought him into the palace, spread rugs for him to sit on, and made a banquet for him. He gave him his daughter in marriage, and he abode there three years.

At last one morning his daughter reported to the Sea Deity that Prince Fire-Subside, although he had passed three years without a sigh, yet last night he had heaved one deep sigh. The Sea Deity asked him why he sighed. Then Prince Fire-Subside told him about his difficulty with his brother, and how he would accept no compensation for his lost fish-hook, but demanded the return of the original. Thereupon the Sea Deity summoned together all the fishes of the sea and asked them if any one of them had swallowed this hook. And all the fishes said that the tai had complained of something sticking in its throat, and doubtless that was the lost hook. The throat of the tai therefore being examined, the hook was found and given to Prince Fire-Subside.

Then the Sea Deity dismissed him to his own country, and gave him two jewels, a flow-tide jewel and an ebb-tide jewel. And he set him on the head of an immense crocodile and bade the crocodile convey him carefully and come back and make a report. And Prince Fire-Subside gave the recovered hook to his brother. But a spirit of animosity still dwelt in his heart, and he tried to kill his brother. Then Prince Fire-Subside threw out the flow-tide jewel, and the tide came in upon the Prince Fire-Shine and was about to drown him. And he cried out to his brother and expressed his repentance. Then Prince Fire-Subside threw out the ebb-tide jewel and the tide flowed back and left him safe.

Then Prince Fire-Shine bowed his head before his younger brother, and said, Henceforth I will be thy guard by day and night, and will faithfully serve thee.

And His-Augustness-Prince-Fire-Subside succeeded his father and dwelt in the palace of Takachiho five hundred and eighty years. The place of his tomb is still shown on Mount Takachiho in the province of Hyuga of the island of Kyushu. And he left as his successor his son, whom the daughter of the Sea Deity had borne him. And this son was the father of His-Augustness-Divine-Yamato-Iware-Prince, who is known to posterity by his canonical name of Jimmu, the first emperor of Japan.


We have now come to the time when the movements which resulted in the establishment of the empire of Japan took place. The events are still overlaid with myth and legend, which could only have been transmitted by oral tradition. But they have to do with characters and places which are tied to the present by stronger cords than those of the divine age. What the events really were which are involved in the myths of the preceding chapter it is impossible to predicate. That the celestial invasion of the island of Kyushu means the coming thither of a chief and his followers from the continent by way of Korea seems most reasonable. The inter-mixture of Izumo with these legends may mean that another migration of a kindred race took place to that part of the Main island. The easy access to both Izumo and Kyushu from Korea makes these migrations the natural explanation of the landing of the Japanese upon these fertile and tempting islands.

Without settling the difficult ethnographical questions which are involved in this problem, we propose to follow the Kyushu invaders into the Main island. We will note the slow and laborious steps by which they proceeded to establish a government, which through many changes and emergencies continues to this day.

The Prince, whom we will continue to call Jimmu,(47) had an elder brother, Prince Itsu-se, who seems, however, to have been less active and energetic than the younger. At least, even from the first it is Prince Jimmu who is represented as taking the initiative in the movements which were now begun. The two brothers consulted together and resolved to conduct an expedition towards the east. It will be remembered that their grandfather had established his palace on Mount Takachiho, which is one of the two highest peaks in Kyushu, situated in the province of Hyuga, nearly in the middle of the southern extension of the island of Kyushu. It was from this place that the two brothers started on their expedition. It was no doubt such an expedition as the Norse Vikings of a later day often led into the islands of their neighbors. They had with them a force composed of the descendants of the invaders who had come with their grandfather from the continent. They marched first through the country called Toyo, which was a luxuriant and fertile region on the northeast part of the island. Thence they marched to the palace of Wokada, situated in a district of the island of Tsukushi, lying on the northwest coast facing Tsushima and the peninsula of Korea, and bordering on the straits of the Inland sea. Here they remained a year and probably built the boats by which they crossed the Inland sea.

From Tsukushi they crossed to the province of Aki in the Main island on the coast of the Inland sea, where it is said they remained seven years. The progress seems like that of the hordes of the Goths in the early ages of European history. It was not merely a military expedition, but a migration of a tribe with all its belongings, women and children, old men and old women, and household and agricultural effects. The military band under Prince Jimmu and his brother formed the vanguard and protection of the tribe. During their seven years' sojourn in Aki they were compelled to resort to agriculture as well as fishing for their support.

Then they skirted along the north coast of the Inland sea to Takashima in the province of Kibi. Thence they crept with their awkward boats eastward among the luxuriant islands. They met a native of the coast out in his boat fishing and engaged his services as a guide. He conducted them to Naniwa, which now bears the name of Osaka, where they encountered the swift tides and rough sea which navigators still meet in this place. Finally they landed at a point which we cannot recognize, but which must have been in the neighborhood of Osaka at the mouth of the Yodo river.

Here their conflicts with the natives began. The whole region seems to have been occupied by tribes not unlike their own, who had probably come thither from the settlements in Izumo. The first to dispute their progress was Prince Nagasune (Long Legs), of Tomi, who raised an army and resisted the landing of the invaders. It was in the battle that ensued at this place that Prince Itsu-se, the elder brother, received a wound in his hand from an arrow shot by Prince Nagasune. The reason given reveals a curious superstition which seems to have prevailed from this early time. The Japanese prince on receiving the wound exclaims, "It is not right for me, an august child of the Sun Goddess, to fight facing the sun. It is for this reason that I am stricken by the wretched villain's hurtful hand." Prince Itsu-se, after a few days, died from the effects of the wound. He is buried on mount Kama in the province of Kii.

It is needless to recount all the legends which cluster around this invasion of the central provinces of Japan; about the wild boar which came out of the mountains near Kumano, before which Prince Jimmu and all his warriors fell down in a faint; about the miraculous sword which was sent down from the heavenly plains to aid him in subduing the Central-Land-of-Reed-Plains; about a crow eight feet long which was sent to guide him in his expedition, and about the deities with tails who in several places were encountered. To our conception they seem meaningless, and do not in any measure contribute to the progress of the story. They bear evidence of a later invention, and do not belong legitimately to the narrative.

At Uda, on the east coast of the Yamato peninsula, there lived two brothers named Ukashi. The elder brother undertook to deceive Prince Jimmu, and set a trap in which to capture and slay him. But the younger brother revealed the plot, whereupon the followers of Prince Jimmu compelled the traitor to retreat into his own trap, where they killed him. The younger brother was honored and rewarded by Jimmu, and appears afterward among the hereditary princes of the country.

Again, as he was making his progress through the country Prince Jimmu came upon a company of the savages known as pit-dwellers,(48) whom the Kojiki calls earth-spiders, and describes them as having tails. There appear to have existed at this period remnants of these tribes as far south as the 35th parallel. At a later period they were driven out by the Ainos, and nothing but some of their relics now exists, even in Yezo. The peculiarity by which they were known was, that they lived in a sort of pit dug out of the earth in the sides of the mountains, over which they built a roof of limbs and grass. In the present case there were eighty of the warriors of this tribe. Prince Jimmu made a banquet for them in one of their pits and assigned an equal number of his own men to act as attendants. Each of these attendants was girded with a sword. Then from a post outside he sang a song,(49) and at a given signal in this song the eighty attendants fell upon the eighty earth-spiders and slew them all.

Thus having subdued all opposing forces and brought the country into subjection, Prince Jimmu established himself in a palace built for him at Kashiwara in the province of Yamato. This is usually regarded by Japanese historians as the beginning of the empire, and the present era(50) is reckoned from this establishment of a capital in Yamato. From the record of the length of the reigns of the several emperors contained in the Kojiki, and the Nihongi, and later books, the date of the accession of the Emperor Jimmu is fixed at 660 B.C. We have given elsewhere(51) our reason for believing the record of the early reigns of doubtful authenticity. Nevertheless, as it is impossible to propose a definite change, it is better to use the accepted scheme with its admitted defects.

The Emperor Jimmu after his accession continued to reign seventy-five years and, according to the Kojiki, died at the age of one hundred and thirty-seven. The Nihongi, however, gives his age at death as one hundred and twenty-seven, and this has been adopted by the government in its published chronology.(52) His burial place is said to be on the northern side of mount Unebi in the province of Yamato. It is just to assign to the Emperor Jimmu the exalted place which the Japanese claim for him in their history. That he was a prince of high enterprise is evident from his adventurous expedition from the home of his family into the barbarous and unknown regions of the Main island. He accomplished its conquest with less slaughter and cruelty than the customs of the times seemed to justify. He made it his policy to effect terms with the native princes and seek their co-operation in his government. He extended his sway so that it covered Anato, now known as Nagato, and Izumo on the west, and reached probably to Owari on the east. All this time he had held a firm hand on the island from which he had come, so that few if any outbreaks occurred among its restless Turanian or native inhabitants.

The Emperor Jimmu was succeeded by his third son, known by his canonical name as the Emperor Suizei. The reigning emperor, it seems, exercised the right to select the son who should succeed him. This was not always the oldest son, but from the time he was chosen he was known as taishi, which is nearly equivalent to the English term crown prince. The Emperor Suizei, it is said, occupied a palace at Takaoka, in Kazuraki, in the province of Yamato. This palace was not far from that occupied by his father, yet it was not the same. And in the reigns of the successive sovereigns down to A.D. 709, when the capital was for a time established at Nara, we observe it as a most singular circumstance that each new emperor resided in a new palace. In the first place, the palace spoken of in these early times was probably a very simple structure. Mr. Satow, in his paper(53) on the temples at Ise, gives an account of the form and construction of the prehistoric Japanese house. The Shinto temple in its pure form is probably a survival of the original palace. Before the introduction of edge-tools of iron and boring implements or nails, the building must have been constructed in a very primitive fashion. It will be understood that stone or brick were never used. Wood was the only material for the frame. The roof was thatched with rushes or rice straw. The pure Shinto temples of modern times are built with the utmost simplicity and plainness. Although the occasion for adhering to primitive methods has long since passed away, yet the buildings are conformed to the styles of structure necessary before the introduction of modern tools and appliances. To build a new palace therefore for a new emperor involved by no means such an outlay of time and work as might be imagined.

It is not improbable that when a young man was chosen crown prince he had an establishment of his own assigned to him, and this became his palace which he occupied when he became emperor. When a man died, and especially when an emperor died, it was an ancient custom to abandon his abode. It became unclean by the presence in it of a dead body, and therefore was no longer used.

Shinto Temple

Nothing is narrated of the immediate successors of the Emperor Jimmu of importance to this story. The accounts contained in either of the oldest histories relate merely to the genealogies of the several sovereigns.

The Emperor Suizei was, as we have seen, the third son of Jimmu and reigned thirty-two years, dying at the age of eighty-four.(54)

The third emperor was Annei, the only son of the Emperor Suizei. He reigned thirty-seven years and died at the age of fifty-seven.

The fourth emperor was Itoku, the oldest son of the Emperor Annei. He reigned thirty-three years and died at the age of seventy-seven.

The fifth emperor was Kosho, the oldest son of the Emperor Itoku. He reigned eighty-two years and died at the age of one hundred and fourteen years.

The sixth emperor was Koan, the oldest son of the Emperor Kosho. He reigned one hundred and one years and died at the age of one hundred and thirty-seven.

The seventh emperor was Korei, the second son of the Emperor Koan. He reigned seventy-five years and died at the age of one hundred and twenty-eight.

The eighth emperor was Kogen, the oldest son of the Emperor Korei. He reigned fifty-six years and died at the age of one hundred and sixteen.

The ninth emperor was Kaikwa, a younger son of the Emperor Kogen. He reigned fifty-nine years and died at the age of one hundred and eleven.

The tenth emperor was Sujin, a younger son of the Emperor Kaikwa. He reigned sixty-seven years and died at the age of one hundred and nineteen. It is narrated that during his reign a pestilence broke out which was so severe that the country was almost depopulated. The emperor was greatly disturbed by this calamity, and there appeared to him in the night a divine vision. The Great Deity, the Great Master of Things, appeared and revealed to him, that if he would cause him to be appropriately worshipped the pestilence would cease. The worship was accordingly ordained and executed, and the pestilence forthwith abated.

In this reign expeditions were also sent into the northwestern and northeastern districts of the Main island to repress the disturbances which had arisen. The reports from these expeditions were in each case favorable, and the whole empire was in a condition of quiet and prosperity, such as had not before existed. Taxes were for the first time levied on the proceeds of the chase and on the handiwork of the women. Reservoirs for the collection of water, used in the irrigation of the rice crops, were constructed in the imperial provinces, and encouragement was everywhere given to the growing industries of the country.

The Emperor Sujin was succeeded by his younger son who is known as the eleventh emperor under the name of Suinin. He is said to have reigned ninety-nine years, and to have died at the age of one hundred and forty-one.

A conspiracy came near ending the life of this emperor. A brother of the empress was ambitious to attain supreme authority. He approached his sister with the subtle question, Which is dearer to thee, thine elder brother or thy husband? She replied, My elder brother is dearer. Then he said, If I be truly the dearer to thee, let me and thee rule the empire. And he gave her a finely tempered dagger and said to her, Slay the emperor with this in his sleep. So the emperor, unconscious of danger, was sleeping one day with his head on the lap of the empress. And she, thinking the time had come, was about to strike him with the dagger. But her courage failed her, and tears fell from her eyes on the face of the sleeping emperor. He started up, awakened by the falling tears, and said to her, I have had a strange dream. A violent shower came up from the direction of Saho and suddenly wet my face. And a small damask-colored snake coiled itself around my neck. What can such a dream betoken? Then the empress, conscience-stricken, confessed the conspiracy with her brother.

The emperor, knowing that no time was to be lost, immediately collected a force of troops and marched against his brother-in-law. He had entrenched himself behind palisades of timber and awaited the emperor's attack. The empress, hesitating between her brother and her husband, had made her escape to her brother's palace. At this terrible juncture she was delivered of a child. She brought the child to the palisades in sight of the emperor, and cried out to him to take it under his care. He was deeply moved by her appeal to him and forthwith planned to rescue both the child and its mother. He chose from among his warriors a band of the bravest and most cunning, and commanded them, saying, When ye go to take the child, be sure that ye seize also the mother.

But she, fearing that the soldiers would try to snatch her when they came for the child, shaved off her hair and covered her head with the loose hair as if it were still adhering. And she made the jewel-strings around her neck and arms rotten, and she rendered her garments, by which they might catch hold of her, tender by soaking them in sake. When the soldiers came to her she gave them the child and fled. Then they seized her by the hair and it came away in their hands; and they clutched at the jewel-strings and they broke; and then they grasped her garments, but they had been rendered tender and gave way in their hands. So she escaped from them and fled. Then they went back to the emperor and reported that they had been unable to capture the mother, but they had brought the babe. The emperor was angry at what the soldiers told him. He was angry at the jewellers who had made the rotten jewel-strings and deprived them of their lands. He called to the empress through the burning palisades around the palace—for the soldiers had set fire to the palace—saying, A child's name must be given by its mother; what shall be the name of this child? And she answered, Let it be called Prince Homu-chiwake. And again he called: How shall he be reared? She replied, Take for him a foster-mother and bathing woman who shall care for him. Then he asked again, saying: Who shall loosen the small, fresh pendant which you have tied upon him? And she gave directions concerning this also. Then the emperor paused no longer, but slew the rebellious prince in his burning palace, and the empress perished with her wicked brother.

Following this is a long legend concerning this child which was dumb from its birth, and how he was sent to worship at the temple of the deities of Izumo, and how he miraculously attained the power of speech and was brought back to his father.

It was during the reign of this emperor also that Tajima-mori was sent to China to fetch specimens of the orange-tree for introduction into Japan. He returned with them, but when he reached the capital the emperor was dead. The messenger was shocked and brought the specimens of the orange-tree to the burial place of the emperor, where he died from grief.

Up to this time it seems to have been the cruel custom to bury with the deceased members of the imperial family, and perhaps with others of high rank, the living retainers and horses who had been in their service. It is said that when the emperor's younger brother died (B.C. 2) they buried along with him his living retainers, placing them upright in a circle around him and leaving their heads uncovered. Night and day were heard the agonizing cries of these thus left to die of starvation. The emperor was greatly moved and resolved that this terrible custom should be abolished. Four years later the empress herself died, and the emperor called together his counsellors to propose some plan by which this practice of living sacrifices could be avoided. Thereupon one of his counsellors, Nomi-no-Sukune, advanced and begged the emperor to listen to a scheme which he had to present. He suggested that, instead of burying the living retainers with their master or mistress, clay images of men and women and horses be set up in a circle around the burial place. The plan pleased the emperor vastly, and images were at once made and buried around the dead empress. As a mark of his high appreciation Nomi-no-Sukune was appointed chief of the clay-workers guild.

It appears probable that this cruel usage of burying living retainers with their dead master was not entirely ended by this substitution of clay images. As late as A.D. 646 the emperor found it necessary to prescribe regulations for funerals and to forbid the burial of living retainers. Mr. Satow(55) has given a most interesting account of this edict which pertains not only to the practice of burial of retainers, but also to the size of vaults and mounds and the number of laborers who might be employed in preparing the structure.

The images used as a substitute for living retainers were called Tsuchio Ningio (clay images). They have been found in many parts of the country, especially in the home provinces where the burial of the imperial families and the connected nobility took place. This burying of images seems to have died out about A.D. 700. Its discontinuance probably was owing to the growing prevalence of Buddhism which discountenanced a custom founded on a religion anterior to it.

Buried Images

The Emperor Suinin was succeeded by his younger son Keiko who became the twelfth emperor. He reigned fifty-nine years, and died at the age of one hundred and forty-three. His son, Prince O-usu, who afterward was known as Yamato-dake, is represented as pursuing a most daring and romantic career. The myths concerning him are among the most picturesque in Japanese history.

The first adventure narrated of him was regarding his elder brother. His father asked him, Why does not thy elder brother make his appearance at the imperial banquets? Do thou see after this and teach him his duty.

A few days after his father said again to him, Why dost not thy brother attend to his duty? Hast thou not warned him as I bade thee?

The young prince replied that he had taken that trouble. Then his father said, How didst thou take the trouble to warn him? And the prince coolly told him that he had slain him and thrown his carcass away.

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