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some of the embers of the fire to the ceiling of the temple, burnt down the whole edifice.
Exorcism of Ghosts and Spirits.— Just as the Japs are troubled with the belief in the existence of ghosts and spooks, they have an elaborate ceremony for exorcising them away. It is known as the Setsuban. On the eve
. of the Setsuban, a little after dusk, the Yaku-otoshi, or the caster-out of devils, perambulates the streets, rattling his shakujo, and uttering his strange professional cry : “Devils out! Good fortune in!” For a modest fee, he performs the ceremony of exorcism in any house to which he may be called. The whole function consists
. in the recital of certain passages of a Buddhist kyo or sutra, and the rattling of the shakujo. Afterwards dried peas (shiro-mame) are scattered about the house in four directions. For some mysterions reason, devils do not like dried peas and fly therefrom. The
The peas thus scattered are afterwards swept up and carefully preserved until the first thunderclap of spring is heard, when it is the custom to cook and eat some of them. After the devils have been properly cast out, a small charm is placed above all the entrances of the dwelling-house to prevent them from returning thereto. This consists of a little stick about the length and thickness of a skewer, a single holly leaf, and the head of a dried iwashi which is a kind of fish resembling a sardine. The stick is stuck through the middle of the holly leaf; the fish's head is fastened into a split made in one end of the stick; and the other end is inserted into some joint of the timber-work immediately above a door.
Japanese Belief in the Transformation of Human Beings into Animals.- The Japanese also believe that human beings can also be transformed into animals. A Hearn's Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan, Vol. II.,
, pp. 498-499.
courtier of the Emperor So is said to have been turned into a serpent. The wife of Yosei is stated to have been transformed into a moth. In the same way, the mother of Ogan is alleged to have been turned into a Yasha or vampire bat
Foundation-Sacrifice among the Japs.-While dis. cussing the spirit-lore of the Japanese, it will not be out of place to describe the custom of Foundation-Sacrifice prevalent among them. When a new bridge is built, an ancient Japanese custom requires that the first persons to pass over it must be the happiest members of the community. It is said that when Horio Yoshiharu, the great general who became daimyo of Izumo in the Keicho era, first undertook to ,
construct a bridge over the mouth of the river, the workmen laboured hard but to no purpose, for the work done by them by daytime was swept away during the night. When the pillars were, however, finished, they began to give way, and were finally swept away by a flood. Thereafter, as often as they were repaired, so often were they destroyed. Then a human being was buried alive in the river-bed below the foundation of the middle pillar; and thereafter the bridge remained firm and stable for three hundred years. It is said that, in dark nights, a spectral fire fitted about that pillar between the hours of two and three.*
Human Sacrifice.—The subject of FoundationSacrifice naturally leads me to that of Human Sacrifice in ancient Japan. Up to the time of the eleventh Emperor Suinin, the living retainers and horses of the members of the Imperial family and of other personages of high rank used to be buried with their owners when the latter died. When the said Emperor's younger brother died in B. C. 2, they buried along with him his
+ Op. cit., Vol, I., pp. 148-149.
living retainers, placing them erect in a circle around him and leaving their heads protruding out of the ground. Hearing their agonizing cries, the Emperor was deeply moved and determined to put a stop to this inhuman
When the Empress herself died four years later, the Emperor held a consultation with his Counsellors for the purpose of devising some plan whereby this cruel custom could be avoided. One of his Counsellors thereupon suggested that, instead of burying the living retainers, clay images of men and women and horses should be set up in a circle around the burialplace. This suggestion pleased the Emperor greatly, who thereupon ordered images to be made at once and buried around the dead Empress. These images, used as a substitute for living retainers, were called Tsuchio Ningio (clay images) and have been found in many parts of the country, especially in the home provinces where the burial of the Imperial families and the aristocracy related thereto used to take place. This practice of burying images appears to have become completely extinct about 700 A. D.*
SECTION II.--ANIMAL-LORE AND TREE-CULT.
Japanese Belief in Mythical Animals. The Japanese believe in the existence of some mythical animals, which are, according to Gordon Smith, halfman and half-turtle and called Kappa. i But Lafcadio Hearn says that the Kappa or the Ape of Waters is not a sea-goblin but a river-goblin which haunts the sea in the neighbourhood of river-mouths, and is always on the look out for drawing down unwary swimmers, killing them and devouring their entrails only. The corpses of
* Vide Murray's Japan, pp. 64-66. † Smith's Ancient Tales and Folklore of Japan, p. 256 ; p. 270.
those, who have been seized and eaten by the Kappa, may be cast on the shore after many days and, unless long battered against the rocks by the surf or nibbled by fishes, will show no external wound, but would be light and hollow--empty like a long-dried gourd.
Japanese Beliefs about Cats.-Cats with long tails are believed by the Japanese to be goblins in feline shape. Hence their tails are cut off during kittenhood in order to check their tendency to become goblins. Tails or no tails, cats are supposed to be magicians and credited with the possession of the power to make corpses dance. Japanese seamen are afraid of the O-bake, the honorable ghosts of the persons who are drowned in the
Cats are therefore kept on every Japanese ship, as they are supposed to keep the 0-bake away. And of all cats, a Mike-neko, or a cat of three colours, is most valued by the Japanese sailors. Cats are believed to be ungrateful. “Feed a dog for three days,” says a Japanese proverb, “and he will remember your kindness for three years ; feed a cat for three years and she will forget your kindness in three days." Cats are supposed to be laboring under a curse, for the cat and the venomous serpent did not weep at the death of Buddha and shall, therefore, never enter into the blissful regions of the Gokuraku. †
Japanese Folklore about Tortoises, -The tortoise or turtle plays an important part in the folklore and art of Japan. The land tortoise is believed to be the servant of the Buddhist divinity Kompira ; and the sea-turtle the servant of the Dragon King who lives beneath the sea. If a pious fisherman finds a tortoise, he writes, upon its back, characters signifying “ Servant of the Deity Kompira," and then gives it a drink of saké and sets it
Hearn's Glimpies of Unfamiliar Japan, Vol. II., pp. 505-506. + learn's Glimpses of Unfamiliar (apan, Vol. II, pp. 368.369; 508-509.
free. All tortoises are believed to live for a thousand years, wherefore one of the frequently recurring symbols of longevity in Japanese art is a tortoise. The sea-turtle figures in the beautiful old folk tale of Urashima or the Japanese Rip Van Winkle, which has been mentioned
In the same way, the figure of the lobster is also used in Japanese art as a symbol of ripe old age, because, as the lobster's body is bent double, so the body of the man, who is blessed with extreme longevity, becomes also bent.
Cock-lore of the Japs.--The great Deity of Mionoseki, who is the patron of mariners and rules over storms
, and tempests, hates cocks, hens and eggs.
No boat or junk or steamer can be hired to carry to Mionoseki so much as the feather of a chicken, much less an egg. It is even said that, if you have eaten eggs in the morning, you must not visit Mionoseki until the following day. Any vessel, which has on board a cock or a hen or an egg or even a semblance thereof, will encounter tempestuous weather during its voyage. The Great Deity's abhorrence of the cock is accounted for by a legend, related in the Kojiki, which is to the effect that His Deityship used to go to Cape Miho (Mionoseki) to pursue birds and catch fish and, for other reasons also, used to absent himself from home at night ; but he had to return home before dawn. In those days, the cock was the Great Deity's confidential servant whose duty it was to crow lustily in order to inform him of the time for returning. But on one occasion, Chanticleer failed to perform his duty; and the Deity, returning to his boat, found his oars lost and, consequently, had to paddle with his hands which were badly bitten by fishes. +
• Op. cit. Vol. II., p. 367.