Page images

in the street, except blow his nose. It is not good manners to be seen blowing your nose in Japan, but you mav belch in any company ; it is bad manners not to belch if you are dining with a Japanese ; it looks as if the dinner was not good enough to make you overeat yourself. When the Japanese is having a night out, he gets drunk before dinner and not after. Tooth-picks are only used with a hand covering the mouth, and they should, by rights, be inscribed with a pren Meals are served à la Russe. The Japanese have not only a language of flowers, but a language of hair and fans. Improper proposals are made with the fan ; and a woman's hair tells a man of the world whether she is an unmarried woman, or a wife, or a widow. In the case of the last, it even tells you whether she is willing to marry again. Large ears are a mark of beauty in Japan ; and fat people are much admired. The Japanese even write their letters in the street. They write with a paintbrush on a roll of wrapping paper which is about 40 feet long. When they have written all they want-the wrong way--from right to left, they tear it off, fold it up, and push it into an envelope about 6 inches long and 2 inches wide; the address is written up and down, beginning with the name of the country--the last thing on the envelope is the person's name.

Middlesex, Southgate, Osidge, Lipton Thomas Sir.”* Women, after getting married, stain their teeth black and shave or pluck out their eyebrows.f The Japs do all their flirting with their parents. They have no proper

I words for yes and no ; and some of the funniest Japanese comes of there being no equivalents for the said words.

* Sladen's Queer Things about Japan, pp. 51-2, + Op. cit., p. 418. I Op. cit., p. 13. $ Op. rit., pp. 74-5 ; p. 135.

Silence means dissent in Japan.* .

They have a different bow and a different salutation for a man who is below you, or your equal, and several different kinds for the people who are above you. They have even a different language for each, and can be dreadfully insulting to people of no consideration by applying to them the set of numerals which are properly reserved for animals-- which is the Japanese way of calling a man a a beast. † The Japanese carries his frankness even into mourning, for he puts on mourning for so long and abstains from sexual relations for a third of the period. This is mortification of the flesh in the real sense of the term. SECTION VI.-- JAPANESE DIVINATION AND CHARMS.

Japanese Methods of Divination -- Mention is frequently made in the oldest Japanese documents of divination, or the process for ascertaining the wish of the gods. The oldest method mentioned is by using the shoulder-blade of a deer. Flesh was entirely scraped off from it which was then placed over a fire made from cherry wood. The divine will was ascertained from the cracks which were caused by the fire in the wood. A later mode was that wherein the shell of a tortoise was used in the same way as the shoulder-blade of the deer.

Charms.-- The Japs have various kinds of charms for the protection of their houses from fires and thieves. Mr. Lafcadio Hearn says :-“ Upon almost every door there is one ofuda especially likely to attract the attention of a stranger, because, at the foot of the column of ideographs composing its text, there are two small

Op. cit., p. 57.
Op. cit., p. 68 ; pp. 200-1.
1 Op. cit., p. 229.
$ Murray's Japan, pp. 84.5.

figures of foxes, a black and a white fox, facing each other in a sitting posture, each with a little bunch of rice-straw in its mouth, instead of the more usual emblematic key. These ofudas are from the great Inari temple of Oshiroyama, within the castle grounds, and are charms against fire.” *

The Japanese thief has recourse to a charm in order to enable him to carry out his nefarious designs with impunity. When he is about to commit a burglary in a certain house, he effects his entrance into it, then performs a nameless operation in a certain part of the yard, and covers the spot with a tarai (a kind of tub), turned upside down. He believes that, by doing so, a magical sleep will overpower all the inmates of the house, and that he will thus be able to help himself to whatever he pleases and carry it away, without being heard or seen by anybody.

But every Japanese housewife knows the countercharms. Before turning in for the night, she lays a hõcho or kitchen-knife upon the kitchen-floor and covers it with a kanadarai or brazen wash-basin, on the upturned bottom whereof is placed a single straw sandal, of the noiseless sort called zöri, also turned upside down. All this is done by her in the belief that it will nullify the burglar's spell, but also render it impossible for him, even should he succeed in effecting an entrance into the house without being seen or heard, to carry anything away. She also sees that the tarai is brought inside the house before the amados are closed for the night

If, notwithstanding these charms or through the omission thereof, the house is broken into by a thief while the family is asleep, search is made early in the morning for the burglar's footprints; and, as soon as the same

* Hearn's Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan, Vol. I., pp. 151-152,

are found, a moxa is set burning upon each footprint under the impression that the light-fingered gentleman's feet will be made so sore thereby that he would not be able to run far and that the police would easily capture him. * This last charm is another instance of the Jap's belief in the efficacy of sympathetic magic.

A Rain-compelling Charm.-- Japanese farmers make offerings of tiny miniature well-buckets, with rope and pole complete, very excellently made out of bamboo, to the Shinto shrine at Amamura, in order that their Rain-God might be so far appeased as to send down rain i


In this section, I wish to discuss a few of the typical folktales and legends of Japan and their analogues in the folklore of other countries.

Japanese Version of the Greek Legend about Perseus and Andromeda.-There is a folktale current among the Japanese, which bears a close resemblance to the Greek legend abowi Perseus and Andromeda. Hojo Takatoki, who ruled over Japan about the year 1320, banished a samurai named Oribe Shima to one of the islands of the Oki group for some offence committed by the latter. Oribe had a beautiful young daughter named O Tokoyo San. Left at her old home and rendered very miserable by separation from her dearly loved father, she resolved to go to him or die in the attempt. As a child, she had learnt to dive with the women whose daily duty it was to collect awabi and pearl oyster-shells, and therefore knew no fear. The fishermen, to whom she appealed for help, refused to row her across the sea to the Obi Island; but she was

Op. cit., Vol. II., pp. 603-604. + Op. cit., Vol. II., p. 613.


not deterred by their refusal. One day, finding a light boat, she got into it and, by her unaided, exertions, sculled herself across the sea and, at last, reached the rocky shore of the Obi Island. She wandered from one place to another but was unable to find her father's whereabouts. One night, as she was sleeping near a shrine, she heard the bitter sobbing of a beautiful

young girl. On awaking, she saw her standing by the side of a man who seemed to be the shrine-keeper and mumbling a prayer. When the prayer was finished, the priest led the girl to the edge of the rocks and was about to push her over into the sea, when Tokoyo seized the girl's arm just in time to save her. Looking surprised at her intervention, but in no way angered, the priest explained as follows :

We are cursed with an evil god in this island, who is called Yofuné-Nushi and lives at the bottom of the sea,

He demands, once a year, a young girl as a sacrificial offering. If we neglect to comply with his demand, he becomes angry and causes great storms which drown many of our fisher folks. By sacrificing one young girl annually, much is saved ; and we have been offering this sacrifice since the last seven years. The girl, whom you see with me, is intended for this sacrificial offering." Completely moved to sorrow by hearing this story,

, Tokoyo resolved to offer herself as a sacrifice to YofunéNushi as a substitute for the poor weeping girl, telling the latter to go home. Thereafter, she donned the latter's white robe and prayed to the figure of Buddha in the shrine for strength and courage to slay the evil god. Placing a small dagger between her teeth, she dived into the seething sea and disappeared. Swimming downwards through the clear water lit up by the

« PreviousContinue »