E. M. SATOW, Esq.,

Japanese Secretary to H. B. M. Legation,

[Extracted from Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan, vol. 3 (1875), Appendix, 1-87.]


By 'pure Shin-tau' is meant the religions belief of the Japanese people previous to the introduction of Buddhism and the Confucian philosophy into Japan, and by its revival the attempt which a modern school of writers has made to eliminate these extraneous influences, and to present Shin-tau in its original form. The very name of Shin-tau is repudiated by this school, on the ground that the word was never applied to the ancient religious belief until the introduction of Buddhism and Confucianism rendered its employment necessary for the sake of distinction, and the argument that, because this belief is called by a Chinese name, it must therefore be of Chinese origin, is of no value whatever.

The statement that the study of the Chinese classics was introduced in the year 285 A.D., though received without mistrust by European writers on the authority of native historians, may certainly be questioned. The earliest extant account of historical events (the Ko-zhi-ki) dates only from the year 711 of our era, while no attempt whatever of the kind is recorded to have been made earlier than the 5th century; and yet the Ni-hon-gi (720 A. D.) affects to give the precise dates, even to the day of the month, of events that are ascribed to the seventh century [2] B.C, or fifteen centuries back. An even stronger ground for disbelieving the accuracy of the early chronology is the extraordinary longevity assigned by it to the early Mikados. Of the fifteen Mikados from Zhin-mu Ten-wau down to Ou-zhin Ten-wau's predecessor, eleven are said to have lived considerably over one hundred years. One of them, Suwi-nin Ten-wau, reached the age of one hundred and forty-one years, and his successor Rei-kau Ten-wau lived to the age of one hundred and forty-three, while to Ou-zhin Ten-wau and his successor Nin- [p.2] toku Teu-wau are given one hundred and eleven and one hundred and twenty-three years respectively. They are, however, surpassed in longevity by the famous Take-nchi no Sukone, who is reported to have died in A.D. 890 at the age of three hundred and fifty-six years. A further reason for doubting the statement is that the Ko-zhi-ki names the "Thousand character Composition" (Sen-zhi mon) as one of the books brought over in A.D. 285, although it is certain that it could not have reached Japan much earlier than the middle of the 5th century.2 All that can safely be said is that Confucianism probably preceded Buddhism.

The first Buddhist images and Sutras were brought to Japan from Korea in the year 552, if we can believe the Ni-hon-gi, but it was long before the religion obtained much hold on the people. In the beginning of the ninth century the priest Kuukai (b. 774, d. 885, better known by his posthumous name of Kou-bofu Dai-shi) compounded out of Buddhism, Confucianism and Shin-tau a system of doctrine called Riyau-bu Shiu-tau. Its most prominent characteristic was the theory that Shin-tau deities were nothing more than transmigrations of Buddhist divinities, and Kuu-kai is accused of perpetrating various forgeries in order to obtain credit for his teaching. The alliance thus effected between the native belief and the foreign religion enabled the latter to obtain the ascendancy to which it was entitled on account of its superior adaptation to man's sense of his own shortcomings and longing for perfection. Buddhism became the religion of the whole nation, from the Mikado [3] down to the lowest of his subjects, and continued to hold that position until the period of the Tokugaha Shiyauguus, when it was supplanted in the intellects of the educated class by the moral philosophy of Choo He. The practise of pure Shin-tau was kept alive for one or two centuries at the Mikado's court, and at a few Shin-tau temples which might be counted on one's fingers, but finally degenerated into a mere thing of forms, the meaning of which was forgotten, while the forms themselves were perverted.

In addition to the Riyau-bu Shin-tau there arose at least three other schools; namely the Yuwi-itsu Shin-tau invented by Yoshido Kanetomi about the end of the 15th century, that of Deguchi Nobuyoshi Kannushi of the Ge-kuu temple in Ise, about 1660, and the Suwi-ga Shin-tau of [p.3] Yamazaki An-sai (b. 1618, d. 1682). The first of these is chiefly founded on the Buddhism of the Shiu-gou-shia, the second explains the phenomena of the divine age by means of the Book of Changes (Yeki or I-king); the third is a combination of the Yoshida Shin-tau and Choo He's philosophy.3

From these few remarks it may be inferred that the successive waves of Buddhist and Chinese doctrine which had passed over Japan during a period of more than a thousand years had considerably transformed the belief of the people, and if the only means of discovering its original nature were an analysis of the teaching of the above-mentioned sects, and the rejection of whatever bore traces of a foreign origin, the task would necessitate a wide knowledge of Buddhism in both India and China, as well as of the Confucian philosophy, and perhaps of Taouism. But fortunately, there exist independently in the Ko-zhi-ki, the Man-yefu-shifu, the Ni-hon-gi, the Ko-go-zhin-wi and the Norito, abundant materials for the student of the divine age, and it was to these books that Mabuchi, Motowori and Hirata devoted their attention. Together with Kada they form the revivalist school of pure Shin-tau. I propose to give some account of their lives and works, and the views held by them as to the essence of Shin-tau.

[4] During the long period amounting to nearly three hundred years which elapsed between the downfall of the Hou-deu family in 1384, and the final establishment of the Tokugaha family as de facto rulers of Japan after the death of Hideyoshi (Taicosama) in the end of the 16th century, Japan had been the scene of constant civil war and rebellions. The Ashikaga family, which established itself at Kiyau-to with a branch in the Kuwan-ton, was utterly unable to control its unruly vassals, and the capital of the Mikado was frequently delivered up to fire and sword. In 1467 and during the six following years, it became the battle-field of the rival retainers of the Ashikaga family, and the greater part of the city was twice burnt to the ground. The loss to Japanese literature by the destruction of books is said to have been immense. Apart from the immediate effects of civil war, learning must necessarily have decayed during a period when the profession of the soldier was the only honourable calling, and every man was obliged [p.4] to be constantly under arms for defence or attack. Nobnnaga, it is true, restored peace at the capital and in the surrounding provinces, but civil wars still went on in the more remote parts of the country and he had to be perpetually in the field against rival chiefs. Hideyoshi, who succeeded him as the chief military leader, did much to facilitate the pacification of the Empire. He broke the power of the Mouri family, conquered the turbulent dui-miyau of Kiu-shiu, annihilated the Wodahara Hou-deu who ruled over the Kwan-tou, and then despatched his warriors to fight and die in Korea.

The fruits of these efforts were reaped by Iheyasu, whose power was virtually rendered absolute by the victory of Sekigahara, and who became Shiyaugun in 1608. During the remainder of his life, with the exception of the two short campaigns against Hideyori's partizans in 1614 and 1615, he lived tranquilly at Sun-pu in Suruga, the modern Shidzu-Woka. His chief pursuit seems to have been the collection of old manuscripts, and it is chiefly owing to his exertions that what remains of the ancient literature has been preserved. The Sun-pu-ki, quoted by [5] Hirata,4 mentioned a large number of works brought to him from various parts of the country, some from Kiyau-to, and others from Kamakura, and a few from the monastery of Minobu San in Kafu-shin. Before his death he gave directions that the library of Japanese and Chinese books which he had formed at Sun-pu should be divided between his eighth son, the prince of Wohari, and his ninth son, the prince of Ki-shiu. The former received the greater part of the Japanese books, the latter the Chinese books. Under the direction of the Prince of Wohari were composed the Zhin-gi-hofu-ten and Ruwi-zhiu Ni-hon-gi. One of Iheyasu's grandsons, the famous second Prince of Mito (1622-1700), known variously as Mito no Kuwau-moii Sama, and Miti no Gi-kou (Mitsukuni was his nanori), also collected a vast library by purchasing old books from Shin-tau and Buddhist temples and from the people. With the aid of a number of scholars, amongst whom tradition says were several learned Chinese who had fled to Japan to escape from the tyranny of the Manchu conquerors, he composed the Dai-Ni-hon-shi, or History of Great Japan, in two hundred and forty books. This book is the standard history of Japan to this day, and all sub- [p.5] sequent writers on the same subject have taken it as their guide. He also compiled a work on the ceremonies of the Imperial Court, consisting of more than five hundred volumes, to which the Mikado condescended to give the title of Rei-gi Ruwi-ten. To defray the cost of producing these two magnificent works the Prince of Mito set aside at least 80,000 koku of rice per annum (some accounts say 50,000, others 70,000 koku).

While the study of ancient history thus received powerful impulse from men of high position, there manifested itself amongst the lower ranks an equal desire to cultivate the native literature. Two of the earliest who turned their attention to this subject were the Buddhist priest Kei-chiyuu and the Shiu-tau priest Kada no Adzuma-maro.

[6] Kei-chiyuu was the son of a samurahi in the service of Awoyama, the dai-miyau of Ama-ga-saki in Setsutsu. He was born in 1640, and early distinguished himself by an excellent memory for poetry, having, as it is said, committed the Hiyaku-nin shiu to memory in the space of ten days, when he was only five years of age. At the age of eleven he became a neophyte at the monastery of Meu-hofu-zhi at Imaato near Ohozaka, much against the inclination of his parents. Two years later he shaved his head and removed to the famous monastery of Kau-ya-sau in Ki-shiu. In 1662 he became an inmate of a monastery near Ikudama at Ohozaka, but finding its proximity to the city disagreeable, he absconded, leaving a verse behind on the wall. From this time he travelled much in the central parts of Japan, studying Buddhism, Sanscrit, Chinese literature and poetry, and Japanese history; but his favourite occupation was the study of Japanese poetry. In 1680 his former teacher, the abbot of Meu-hofu-zhi, died, and left directions that he should be succeeded by Kei-chiyuu, who accepted the charge simply for the sake of his mother, who was living at Imasato. About this time the Prince of Mito above alluded to invited him to Yedo in order to complete a commentary on the Man-yefu-shifu which had been commenced by Shimokahabe Chiyau-riu. Ho declined the invitation, but pleased with the Prince's love for ancient learning, compiled a similar work for him called Man-yefu-dai-shiyau-ki in twenty volumes, with a supplement in two volumes. After the death of his mother he left the monastery, and retired into private life in a small cottage in the neighbourhood of Oho- [p.6] saka, whence the repeated invitations of the Prince of Mito failed to draw him. He died in the year 1701. His published works relating to poetry and general literature number sixteen, and he is said to have left a quantity of unfinished manuscript behind him.5

Besides Kei-chiyuu and Shimokahabe Ghiyau-riu (1622-1684) Hi-rata mentions Nashimoto Mo-suwi6 as one of the [7] first who vindicated the style of the Man-yefn-shifu against that of the modern school. His works are extremely rare. The efforts of these three men were, however, confined to the department of poetry, and the credit of having founded the modern school of pure Shin-tau belongs to Kada.


Kada Adzuma-maro, as he is most commonly styled, was born in 1669 near Kiyau-to, his father being the warden of the temple of Inari between Kiyau-to and Fushimi. From his boyhood up he was fond of study, and devoted himself to antiquarian investigation. He thus acquired an accurate knowledge of the ancient national records, the old laws, of which only fragments have been preserved, the early prose and poetry and the chronicles of the noble families. Though absolutely without any one to point out the way to him in these researches, he was nevertheless enabled to make many valuable discoveries. When considerably over sixty years of age he went to Yedo, where his reputation came to the ears of the government, and he received a commission from it to revise and edit the ancient texts. After residing at Yedo for some years he returned to Kiyau-to, and the governor of Fushimi presented him with a considerable sum of money as a reward for his labours. It is said that the commission came in the first place from the Mikado, who was obliged to communicate with his subjects through the Shiyau-gun, and that the money-reward came from the same source, but there is no documentary evidence of this.

Kada had long cherished a scheme for the establishment of a school for the study of Japanese language and literature, and he sent in a memorial on the subject to the authorities at Kiyau-to, probably to the machi-bu-giyau, or to the Shiyau-gun's Resident (shiyo-shi'dat), But he [p.7] died soon after (in 1786), and the project was never carried out. The Ki-zhin Den indeed says that the necessary sanction had been given, and that Kada had already selected a spot near the burial-place of the Higashi Hon-gnwan-zhi, but Hirata (in the Tamadasoki) thinks that this so-called sanction, [8] if ever given, was not formal and official. Kada's memorial has lately been published in a separate form by Hirata Kanetane and can easily be obtained. It is a most vigorous protest against the utter neglect of Japanese learning for Chinese, which had up to that time been almost universal.

It is usually stated that Kada, shortly before his death, gave orders to his pupils to destroy all his manuscripts, on the ground that they must contain many errors, and he therefore calculated to mislead students, while the good which might be in them could easily be discovered without their aid. Hirata Atsutane repeats this story, but it is stated, on the authority of Atsutane's son Kanetane, that the Kada family still possess several boxes full of unpublished writings of Adsuma-maro. It may be doubted, however, whether they are of much actual value, seeing that their author was the first who attempted to elucidate the meaning of the ancient books, and as Atsutane says, 'we can see from the works which Kada published during his life-time, such as his commentaries on the Man-yefu-shifu and Zhin-dai no Maki, that he had good reason to be dissatisfied with the conclusions which he had reached.'

Kada's views may be briefly stated as follows: "Learning is a matter in which the highest interests of the empire are involved, and no man ought to be vain enough to imagine that he is able by himself to develcpe it thoroughly. Nor should the student blindly adhere to the opinions of his teacher. Any one who desires to study Japanese literature should first acquire a good knowledge of Chinese, and then pass over to the Man-yefu-shifu, from which he may discover the ancient principles of the divine age. If he resolve bravely to love and admire antiquity, there is no reason why he should fail to acquire the ancient style in poetry as well as in other things. In ancient times, as the poet expressed only the genuine sentiments of his heart, his style was naturally straight-forward, but since the practice of writing upon subjects chosen by lot has come into vogue, the language of poetry has become ornate and the ideas [9] forced, thus producing a laboured appearance. The expression of [p.8] fictitious sentiment about the relations of the sexes and miscellaneous subjects, is not genuine poetry.7 Kada, true to his own principles, never wrote a line of amatory poetry. We can readily understand his contempt for the modern versifiers, when we recall the picture of licentiousness which some of the verses in the popular collection called Hiyaku-nin shiu present. What in English has to be disguised under the name of love was too often mere sensual passion indulged in at the expense of the most sacred domestic relations. During the middle ages it seems to have been the practice for persons skilled in the trifling art of making stanzas of thirty-one syllables to assemble at drinking parties, and to draw lots for subjects to write about. The 67th stanza of this collection contains an allusion to this custom.

Atsutane has a note in the Tamadasuki, the object of which is to refute the common notion that Kei-chiyuu, Motowori and Mabuchi ought to be considered the ancestors of the antiquarian school, to the exclusion of Kada. The cause of this notion is that the men who entertain it are merely versifiers and take verse-making to be an essential part of the labours of the antiquarians. Kei-chiyun, who was a Buddhist priest, certainly did some service in editing the Man-yefu-shifa, but to praise Mabuchi and Motowori for their poetry alone is to misapprehend the real character of the work they performed. This consisted in the revival of Shin-tau, and poetry was merely secondary with them. Kada's memorial proves that he was the founder of the school of Pure Shin-tan. Mabuchi was his pupil, and Motowori in his turn the pupil of Mabuchi.

Kada had no children of his own, and adopted his nephew Arimaro (1706-1751). Arimaro came to Yedo, and taught his uncle's views with some success. He was particularly learned in that branch of Japanese archaeology which deals with the ancient system of government under the Mikados, and having attracted the notice of [10] Tayasu Kingo (1715-1771), the first of the name, who took great interest in the subject, he entered the service of that Prince. A dispute subsequently took place, on account of which Arimaro resigned, but he continued to take pupils at his own house. There is a notice of his life and works in the Ki-zhin Den.


When Arimaro quitted the service of Tayasu Kin-go, he recommended a certain Mabuchi in his stead.


Mabuchi was a man of ancient lineage, being descended from Taketsnnnmi no mikoto, the demi-god who took the form of a gigantic crow and acted as guide to Zhin-mu Ten-wau in his invasion of Yamashiro, as related in the Ni-hon-gi.8

About the middle of the 18th century there was a Shin-tau priest of one of the lesser shrines of Kami-gamo near Kiyau-to, whose daughter, one of the Emperor's women, received a gift of 500 koku of land at Wokabe near Hamamatsu in Towotafumi. With these lands she endowed a shrine to the gods of Kamo and made her brother Michi-hisa chief warden of it. The living, if it may be so called, became hereditary in the family of his younger brother and heir, and three generations later the name of the village was adopted as the family surname. In the end of the 17th century the wardenship was held by Wokabe Zhi-rau-za-we-mon, and Mabuchi, who was his nephew, was born at Wokabe in 1697.

His biographer says that at one period he was desirous of entering the Buddhist priesthood, but his parents refused their consent, and he thereupon quitted their roof for that of the chief innkeeper at Hamamatsu, whose daughter he married. Amongst his friends were two Shin-tau priests, Sugiura Shinano no Kami and Mori Min-bu no Seu-fu, both pupils of Kada. Sugiura's wife was a niece of Kada, who on his way to and from Yedo used to stop with his relations, and Mabuchi thus made [11] his acquaintance. It was about this time that he changed his previous name of Masa-fuji for that of Mabuchi, by which he is generally known.9

In 1788, at the age of thirty-six, he went up to Kiyau-to and became one of Kada's pupils, but as Kada died in 1786, he only profited by his teacher's lessons for a comparatively short period. Nevertheless, he made excellent use of his time, as is shown by the fact that he alone of [p.10] all those who studied under Kada, surpassed his master in learning. In 1788 he removed to Yedo, where he passed the remainder of his life. Having established his reputation as a scholar, he entered the service of Tayasu Kin-go in 1746, with whom he remained fourteen years, until old age compelled his retirement. He died in the end of 1769 at the age of 72, and was buried at the Buddhist monastery of Tou-dai-zhi at Shinagaha.

Motowori in his Tamagatsuma,10 under the heading "Agatawi11 no ushi's claim to be considered the founder of ancient learning" says: "The branch of study which consists of investigating the ancient language and modes of thought with a mind perfectly freed from Chinese influences was initiated by Mabuchi. Before his time the usual studies were confined to the Ko-kin-shifu and later collections. The Mau-yefu-shifu was considered obscure and unintelligible. No one was capable of appreciating its merits or of distinguishing between the more ancient and modern poems which it contains, and no one ever attempted to acquire the language of the Mau-yefu-shifu, so as to yield it as his own. The power of acquiring this ancient language so as to employ it with perfect ease, of composing poetry in the style of the Man-yefu-shifu and of writing prose in the ancient manner, which some have attained to in later times, is owing to the teachings of Mabuchi. The Moderns may imagine that they have made this acquisition by their own efforts, but there is no one who does not stand in debt to him. Every one [12] knows now that in order to understand the ancient texts, such as the Ko-zhi-ki and Ni-hon-shiyo-ki,12 it is necessary to avoid being misled by Chinese notions, to study antiquity and to be guided by ancient ideas, but the knowledge of these truths is the very spirit of Mabuchi's teaching of the Man-yefu. The service which he performed in founding a branch of learning which has such high claims to veneration as the study of antiquity, is one of incalculable value to mankind."

Ka-tou Ghikage, who for many years was a pupil of Mabuchi, is the best authority for biographical and literary details. He says: "From a very early age I lived in Mabuchi's service, and I was both [p.11] a constant spectator of his mode of life and an auditor of his words. He was very different in appearance from ordinary men. From his looks he might he taken to he a person of small acuteness and slow in thinking, but sometimes the true heart of a Japanese burst forth in his language, which was then distinguished by the most perfect eloquence. That his hand-writing resembled that of ancient manuscripts, was no doubt the effect of his unwearied and long continued diligence in the study of antiquity. His house and furniture were both formed upon ancient models, and he neither lent ear to nor bestowed attention on anything modern. In this way his mind naturally acquired an old-fashioned mould, and all its productions, whether written or verbal, were pervaded by the same tint.

"In composing poetry he worked most conscientiously. Every stanza was the subject of much consideration and frequent correction. Three separate styles are to be distinguished in his compositions. The first was imitated from Kada no Adzumaaro, and is elegant and feminine in form. The second is entirely his own; polished, musical, and yet manly. In his later years his range of thought was higher, and his language was natural and simple to a degree not to be attained by ordinary persons."13 [18] Mabuchi's chief aim was to carry out the idea originated by Kada, namely to illustrate the prehistoric age. For this purpose he considered that it was necessary to begin by explaining the Man-yefu-shifu. Poetry was with him only the means to an end. At the only interview which ever took place between Mabuchi and Motowori, the latter spoke of his own project of writing a commentary on the Ko-zhi-ki. Mabuchi replied that he also had wished to explain the sacred writings, but in order to do this it was first necessary to get rid of the effects of Chinese philosophy, and discover the genuine beliefs of antiquity. The first step towards their elucidation was to recover the ancient language, which could only be done by studying the Man-yefu-shifu. This preliminary task he had himself accomplished, and he urged Motowori, who was yet young, to apply himself diligently to the study of the Ko-zhi-ki.


It appears that some writers have accused Motowori of inventing these views for Mabuchi, but the writings of the latter are evidence of his having held these opinions. In his Nihi-manabi (quoted in the Tamadasuki) he says: "The Moderns have held the erroneous opinion that the Man-yefu-shifu contains nothing but poetry, which is fit only for women to amuse themselves with, and many shallow fools, who cannot understand the ancient poetry and are ignorant of the ancient books, have made attempts to explain the divine age according to ideas derived from Chinese literature. Thus their utterances are mere sophistry, utterly opposed to the ancient Japanese 'way.'"

Mabuchi then proceeds to lay down the course of study which should be followed in order that the 'way' of the gods and ancient emperors may be thoroughly comprehended. The old poetry is to be taken at the commencement, namely the collection entitled the Man-yefa-shifu, and the Nirito, as being the earliest specimens of prose, should come next. Next follow the Ko-zhi-ki, Ni-hon-ki (also called Ni-hon-Shiyo'ki), Shiyoku Ni-hon-gi, and other ancient histories. After this the book which treat of rites and ceremonies, such as the Yen-gi Shiki, the [14] Sei-kiu-seu, the Hoku-gan-sen Gau-ka Shi-dai, etc., must be carefully read in proper order, and the Monogatari,14 or earliest writings in syllabic characters (kana), must be studied for the sake of the traces which they contain of the archaic language.

Mabuchi was a very voluminous writer. A list of his works is given at the end of the notice of his life in the San-zhifu-roku Ka-shifu Riyaku-den. Many of them have been superseded by the writings of subsequent authors, but a considerable number are still worthy of being studied. These are the Man-yefu-kau, or commentary on the Man-yefa-shifu, and its supplement, the Ko-kin-shifu Uchi-giki, commentary on the collection called Ko-kin-shifu, Hiyaku-nin-shiu Ko-setsu and Hi-yaku-nin-shiu nhimanahi, commentaries on the collection of verses called Hiyaku-nin-shiu; Kunau-zhi-kau, a lexilogus of Makura kotoba, Ise-Monogatari Ko-i and Tai-i; and the Gen-zhi Monogatan Shin-shiyaku (new comments on), besides those which are noticed below.


In the Kohu-i-kau we have Mabuchi's views upon the worthlessness of the Chinese philosophy. He asks: "Wherein lies the value of a rule of conduct? In its conducing to the good order of the state." He argues that 'while the Chinese for ages past have had a succession of different dynasties to rule over them, Japan has been faithful to one uninterrupted line of sovereigns. Every Chinese dynasty was founded upon rebellion and parricide. Sometimes a powerful ruler was able to transmit his authority to his son and grandson, but they in their turn were inevitably deposed and murdered, and the country was in a perpetual state of civil war. A philosophy which produced such effects must be founded on a false system.

'When Confucianism was first introduced into Japan, the simple-minded natives, deceived by its plausible appearance, accepted it with eagerness, and allowed it to spread its influence everywhere. The consequence was the civil [15] war which broke out immediately after the death of Ten-ji Ten-wau in 671 between that emperor's brother and son, which only came to an end in 672 by the suicide of the latter. In the 8th century the Chinese costume and etiquette were adopted by the Court. This foreign pomp and splendour covered the rapid depravation of men's hearts, and created a wide gulf between the Mikado and his people. So long as the sovereign maintains a simple style of living, the people are contented with their own hard lot. Their wants are few and they are easily ruled. But if the sovereign has a magnificent palace, gorgeous clothing, and crowds of finely-dressed women to wait on him, the sight of these things must cause in others a desire to possess themselves of the same luxuries; or if they are not strong enough to take them by force, it excites their envy. If the Mikado had continued to live in a house roofed with shingles, and whose walls were of mud, to wear hempen clothes, to carry his sword in a scabbard wound round with the tendrils of some creeping plant, and to go to the chase carrying his bow and arrows, as was the ancient custom, the present state of things would never have come about. But since the introduction of Chinese manners, the sovereign, while occupying a highly dignified place, has been degraded to the intellectual level of a woman. The power fell into the hands of servants, and although they never actually assumed the title, they were sovereigns in fact, while the Mikado became an utter nullity.'


Some one had observed to Mabuchi that it was owing to the Chinese system of morals that the practice of marriage between brothers and sisters was discontinued. He explains in reply that 'according to ancient Japanese custom the children of the same mother were alone regarded as united by the fraternal tie; that it was not considered in any way objectionable for children of the same father by different mothers to intermarry. The Chinese forbid marriages between persons who bear the same surname, and it was the adoption of this ridiculously strict rule that led to the gradual disuse of the ancient practice, which was in itself quite harmless.

'[16] In ancient times when men's dispositions were straightforward, a complicated system of morals was unnecessary. It would naturally happen that bad acts might occasionally be committed, but the straight-forwardness of man's dispositions would prevent the evil from being concealed and growing in extent. So that in those days it was unnecessary to have a doctrine of right and wrong. But the Chinese, being bad at heart, in spite of the teaching which they got, were only good on the outside, and their bad acts became of such magnitude that society was thrown into disorder. The Japanese being straightforward could do without teaching. It is said on the other side that as the Japanese had no names for benevolence, righteousness, propriety, sagacity and truth, they must have been without those principles. To this Mabuchi replies that they exist in every country, in the same way as the four seasons which make their annual rounds. In the spring the weather does not become mild all at once, nor the summer hot. Nature proceeds by gradual steps. According to the Chinese view it is not spring or summer unless it becomes mild or hot all of a sudden. Their principles sound very plausible, but are unpractical.'

Mabuchi rendered a great service to the study of Shin-tau by the pains which he took to illustrate the Norito in a commentary entitled Norito Kau (1768). The Norito consists of a selection of the liturgies used at certain of the more important Shin-tau festivals, and together with those parts of the Jiyaurguwan Oushtki and Yen-gi Shiki which contain directions for the celebration of such festivals, afford the most authentic information as to the native religious ceremonies. Some of them contain passages of remarkable beauty, especially those which are [p.15] considered to be most ancient in their origin, such as the Ohobar, Ai no Kotoba and Toshigohi no Manuri no Kotoba. The festival of the "General Purification" (Ohobarahi) is first mentioned in the Ko-zhi-ki as having been celebrated after the death of Ohiyau-ai Ten-wan (200 A.D. according to the native chronology), but is supposed to have instituted as far [17] back as the time of Izanagi no mikoto. Mabuchi, who may be taken as a pretty safe guide in such matters, attributes the liturgy as it is preserved in the Yen-gi Shiki to the reign of Ten-mu Ten-wau (678-686), by which period the words, in the earliest times composed by the Nakatomi on each occasion, had assumed a definite form consecrated by precedent. The Yen-gi Shiki, however, belongs to the 10th century, and therefore the date at which the Norito are actually known to have been committed to writing is two centuries later than that of the Ko-zhi-ki and Ni-hon-gi. Still more ancient than the Ohobarahi no Kotoba is said to be the Idzumo sum no Miyatsulco Kamu yogoto, which Mabuchi assigns to the reign of Zhiyo-me Ten-wau (629-641), though the origin of the ceremony at which it was used is evidently far back in the prehistoric age. The Toshigohi, Hirose and Tatsuta Norito are later again than the Ohobarahu. By a fortunate coincidence the study of pure Shin-tau cannot be successfully prosecuted at first hand, without a previous acquaintance with ancient forms of the language, and the result has a natural tendency towards a combined devotion to the two subjects, which is explanatory of the wide meaning of the term Koku-gaku, 'national learning,' sometime erroneously used to signify the study of poetry alone.

This notice of Mabuchi's writings is unavoidably deficient, owing to the difficulty of procuring copies of his works in the book-shops. Even the public library, recently removed to Asakusa, does not possess three volumes by this author which relate to the Ko-zhi-ki, and it is much to be regretted that the means should therefore be wanting in order to form an estimate of what he accomplished towards the elucidation of this most important and ancient Shin-tau monument.


The mantle of Mabuchi fell upon the shoulders of Motowori Norinaga. This remarkable scholar and critic was born in 1780 at Matsuzaka in Ise, a town belonging to the Prince of Ei-shiu. At the age of ten years he [p.16] lost his [18] father, and his mother was left in straitened circumstances. Motowori displayed an ardent taste for learning from his earliest childhood, and read every book, Chinese or Japanese, which came in his way. In 1752 he went to Kiyau-to, where he studied Chinese under Hori Kei-zau and medicine under Takegaha Hofu-gan, in accordance with his mother's wish that he should become a doctor. During his stay at the capital of the Mikado he became acquainted with the works of Kei-chiyuu, and read them with avidity. Previous to this his notions of poetry had been the same as those of the later versifiers, but from Kei-chiyuu he learnt the principles of correct style. In 1757 be returned to his birth-place and set up in practice as a children's physician.

Shortly after his return, a person who was passing through from Yedo lent him a copy of Mabuchi's work on the makura kotoba, which had just been published. A first perusal failed either to interest or convince him, but after repeated readings be was compelled to acknowledge the justice of the author's views, and their superiority over those of Kei-chiyuu. It was this book which inspired him with his love for the study of Japanese antiquity. In the year 1761 he had an opportunity of making the acquaintance of Mabuchi, when the conversation before quoted took place, and he continued to correspond with him and to profit by his lessons until the death of the elder scholar.15

The Ko-zhi-ki Den, which is an edition of the Ko-zhi-ki with an elaborate commentary, unquestionably his greatest work, was commenced in 1764, but the first part, which contains the commentary on the first book of the Ko-zhi-ki, was not completed until 1786. It must have at once established his reputation, and one of his biographers states that his fame drew nearly five hundred students from all parts of the country. The second part was finished in 1792. Three years later he was invited to Wakayama by the Prince of Ki-shiu, for whose sake he refused a pension of 800 koku [19] annually, which had been offered to him by another dai-miyau. The concluding part of the commentary was completed in 1796. The printing of the work was begun in 1789 and finished in 1822.


In 1801, at the request of a number of his admirers, he again visited Kiyau-to, where crowds flocked together to hear his lectures. The princes of the blood and many of the Court nobles sought instruction from him in matters relating to the early history of Japan. He died in the autumn of the same year, and was buried in a tomb which he had previously caused to be constructed at the monastery of Meu-raku-zhi near Matsuzaka.

This seems a fitting place in which to give some account of the earliest extant historical records of the Japanese, and of those of which only brief notices have been preserved, taking for our authority the first volume of the Ko-zhi-ki Den.

The Ni-hon-gi states that in the year 408 (4th of Ri-chiyuu Ten-wau) "historiographers were appointed for the first time to all the provinces, to record words and events," from which it may be inferred that such officials had existed at the Court before that date. The latter probably also had records of what was known of the earlier ages, which would account for the existence of numerous independent chronicles, such as are quoted in the Ni-hon-gi, especially in the first two books called the Zhin-dai-no-maki. The Ni-hon-gi also says that in the year 620 (28th of the Empress Suwi-ko Ten-wau) Shiyau-toku Tai-shi and Soga no Umako [began to] compile by their joint efforts "A Record of the Mikado, a Record of the Country, and records of the Omi, Murazhi, Tonio-no-miyatrnko, kuni no miyaunko, of the chiefs of the Mikado's followers, and of the people." This is the first mention of any records of the court. Ten-mu Ten-wau also commanded Prince Kahashima and eleven others in 681 to compile a history of the Mikados and an account of ancient matters. Neither of these collections has been preserved. In the 9th month of the year 711 the Empress Gen-miyau Ten-wau commanded the minister Yasumaro to commit the [20] Ko-zhi-ki to writing, and he presented it in a finished state in the first month of the following year, as is stated in the preface. This is therefore the earliest of the extant records. The Shiyoku-Ni-hon-gi says that the Ni-hon-gi was completed in the year 720, the 6th of the Empress Gon-shiyau Ten-wau, and it so far superseded the Ko-zhi-ki that the latter was almost forgotten. The cause of this was no doubt the general adoption of Chinese ideas, and the consequent preference of a work written in Chinese style to one of [p.18] which the chief object was to preserve the form and spirit of Japanese antiquity. In 714 Kliyohito and Fujimaro were instructed to prepare a national history, but either they never completed the work at all, or it must have been looked on as a failure, for no further mention of it occurs anywhere.

The preface to the Ko-zhi-ki is the only authority for the accepted account of its origin. The Emperor Ten-mu, at what portion of his reign is not mentioned, lamenting that the records possessed by the chief families contained many errors, resolved to take steps to preserve the true traditions from oblivion. He therefore had the records carefully examined, compared and weeded of their faults. There happened to be in his household a person of marvellous memory named Hiyeda no Are, who could repeat without a mistake the contents of any document he had ever seen, and never forgot anything that he heard. Teu-mu Ten-wau took the pains to instruct this person in the genuine traditions and 'old language of former ages,' and to make him repeat them until he had the whole by heart. "Before the undertaking was completed," which probably means before it could be committed to writing, the Emperor died, and for twenty-five years Are's memory was the sole depository of what afterwards received the title of Ko-zhi-ki or Faru-koto-humi, as it is read by Motowori. At the end of this interval the Empress Geu-miyau ordered Yasumaro to write it down [21] from the mouth of Are, which accounts for the completion of the manuscript in so short a time as four months and a half. Are's age at this date is not stated, but as he was twenty-eight years of age some time in the reign of Teu-mu Ten-wau, it could not possibly have been more than sixty-eight, while taking into account the previous order of Teu-mu Ten-wau in 681 for the compilation of a history, and the statement that he was engaged on the composition of the Ko-zhi-ki at the time of his death in 686, it would not be unreasonable to conclude that it belongs to about the last year of his reign, in which case Are was only fifty-three in 711.16

Apart from the fact that all European writers who have dealt with Shin-tau obtained their information from natives who were acquainted [p.19] with its impure forms alone, another source of error has been the too ready recognition of the Ni-hon-gi as the only authority for the native cosmogony like the ancient legends. It is not difficult, however, by the aid of a comparison between the Ni-hon-gi and the Ko-zhi-ki, to show that the former contains numerous traces of direct Chinese influence, and this is also what we should be led to expect from the fact of its having been composed in a language which is intended to represent the Chinese idiom as nearly as possible, while the Ko-zhi-ki is to a very large extent pure Japanese. Motowori has devoted several pages to the discussion of the book in question, and I think that it will be useful to take note of his observations.

The very commencement of the Ni-hon-gi affords an example. Its first words are, "Anciently, before heaven and earth separated and the Negative and Positive Essences were parted, chaos was like a fowl's egg; and subsequently deity came into existence in the midst thereof." It then proceeds to state, "now it is said that in the beginning of heaven and earth, the soil floated about like a fish floating on the surface of water." This latter passage is the real Japanese account of the beginning of the world, and what precedes the words "Now it is said" is an addition taken from Chinese books.

[22] In the next passage the existence of the first three male deities is attributed to the working of the Heavenly Mode by itself, and the production of four pairs of male and female deities to the joint working of the Heavenly and Earthly Modes. The Negative and Positive Essences, and the Heavenly and Earthly Modes were philosophic terms utterly unknown to the ancient Japanese, and are the inventions of ignorant men, who instead of accepting with faith the true traditions which have been handed down from the beginning of time, endeavour to discover explanations for what man with his limited intelligence can never comprehend. The deities referred to as having been produced by the working of the Heavenly and Earthly Modes, came into existence by the spirits of Takami-musubi no kami and Kami-musubi no kami. What the process was is beyond our ken; we have only to accept the fact. To call Izanagi no kami the "Positive Deity," and Izanami no kami "Negative Deity," as the Ni-hon-gi does, is to make use of terms which are entirely foreign to the Japanese language, which [p.20] would have called them the "Male Deity" and "Female Deity." The effect of the Chinese phraseology is to cause men to believe that Izanagi no kami and Izanami no kami are abstract principles, whereas they are living powers. A proof that the terms "Positive Essence" and "Negative Essence" were imported from abroad, if one were needed, lies in the fact that the sun-deity is female and the moon-deity male according to the ancient native traditions, which is in diametrical opposition to the Chinese theory, according to which the sun is Male or Positive and the moon Female or Negative. Most of the speeches in the Ni-hon-gi, attributed to Zhin-mu Ten-wau, Sun-zhin Ten-wau and other ancient Mikados, contain passages which in their meaning and form are wholly Chinese, and cannot therefore be regarded as otherwise than fictitious. The Shiyoku-Ni-hon-gi contains speeches of the Mikados in both Chinese and native style, and if the speeches made in the 8th century contained so few traces of Chinese expression, it is pretty certain that those which were spoken [28] fourteen centuries older must have been purely Japanese. Zhin-ma Ten-wau is represented as making use of such expressions as the following: "It is the part of a good general not to be haughty after conquering in battle," and, "I am the descendant of the sun-deity, and to march in the sun's face to conquer barbarians is contrary to Heaven's way," and, "Relying on the prestige of supreme Heaven, the evil horde has been cut to pieces"; in all of which the true Chinese ring is clearly heard. All reference to Heaven as an intelligent acting power is of Chinese origin, while in Japan heaven is merely the region where the heavenly gods have their abode. In the same way the allusions to eating beef in the Book of Zhin-mu, to divination by means of a tortoise's shell in the Book of Snu-zhin, and to the use of such weapons as battle-axes in the Book of Kei-kau, are borrowed from the Chinese, as is also the title of Kiwan-tai-hou, applied to the consort of Suwi-zei (B.C. 681-549?). Motowori has by no means exhausted his criticisms upon the Ni-hon-gi, but is of opinion that he has said enough to show that it must be read with careful discrimination.

There is another book, of considerable age, which professes to give an original account of the divine age and of the early history down to Suwi-ko Ten-wau (598-628). It is called the Ko-zhi-ki, and its author- [p.21] ship is attributed to Shiyan-tokn Tai-shi and Soga no Umako, and the preface by the latter states that it was completed in 1622; it purports, in fact, to be the non-extant compilation already mentioned. Motowori condemns it as a forgery, compiled at a much later date, chiefly from the Ko-zhi-hi and Ni-hon-gi. It further contains passages from the Ko-go-zhifu-ki, composed in 807, and even mentions Saga Ten-wau, who reigned as late as 810-828. Parts of it, however, seem to be based upon other sources than those above mentioned, and are of considerable value.

Motowori speaks of two editions of the Ko-zhi-ki which were in existence when he commenced his own. One which was printed in the period Kuwan-yei (1624-1644), contains many omissions, erroneous readings, and numerous [24] faults in the kana transcription. The second was published later in the same century by Deguchi Nobuyoshi, who corrected most of the omissions and errors of the older edition, but took upon himself to make some unnecessary alterations in the text, thus diminishing to a considerable extent the value of his work. Besides these two printed editions Motowori obtained after much search an old manuscript copy, unfortunately disfigured by a multitude of mistakes, a copy of a manuscript with insertions by Nobuyoshi, an old copy belonging to a Kiyau-to resident named Murawi, and a copy of an ancient manuscript belonging to the monastery of Shin-puku-zhi at Nagoya in Wohari, all more or less incorrect, but useful for comparison.

The Ko-zhi-ki Den consists of forty-four large volumes of clear print, of which two are devoted to prolegomena, three to indexes arranged chronologically and alphabetically, and one contains a tract on the Cosmogony by Hatori Nakatsune, one of Motowori's pupils.

The earliest work of Motowori upon Shin-tau was the tract entitled Nahobi no Mitama, or the "Spirit of Straightening," which forms part of the first volume of the Ko-zhi-ki Den, and was written in the year 1771, about seven years after the commentary was commenced. It may be summarized ns follows:

'Japan is the country which gave birth to the goddess of the Sun, Amaterasn-oho-mi-kami, which fact proves its superiority over all other countries which also enjoy her favours. The goddess, having endowed her grandson Ninigi no Mikoto with the three sacred treasures, proclaimed [p.22] Uioi Sovereign of Japan for ever and ever. His descendants shall continue to rule it as long as the heavens and earth endure. Being invested with this complete authority, all the gods under heaven and all mankind submitted to him, with the exception of a few wretches who were quickly subdued.

'To the end of time each Mikado is the goddess' son. His mind is in perfect harmony of thought and feeling with hers. He does not seek out new inventions, but rules in accordance with precedents which date from the age of [25] the gods, and if he is ever in doubt, he has resort to divination, which reveals to him the mind of the great goddess. In this way the age of the gods and the present age are not two ages, but one, for not only the Mikado, but his Ministers and people also, act up to the tradition of the divine age. Hence, in ancient times the idea of michi or way (ethics) was never broached. The word was only applied to ordinary thoroughfares, and its application to systems of philosophy, government, morals, religion and so forth, is a foreign notion.

'As foreign countries (China and India, particularly the former) are now the special domain of the sun-goddess, they have no permanent rulers, and evil spirits, having found a field of action, have corrupted mankind. In those countries any bad man who could manage to seize the power became a sovereign. Those who had the upper hand were constantly scheming to maintain their positions, while their inferiors were as constantly on the watch for opportunities to oust them. The most powerful and cunning of these rulers succeeded in taming their subjects, and having secured their position, became an example for others to imitate. In China the name of Sei-zhin (translated "Holy Men" by Meadows) has been given to these men. But it is an error to look upon these so-called Holy Men as in themselves supernatural and good beings, as superior to the rest of the world as are the gods. She principles which they established are called michi (ethics), and may be reduced to two simple rules, namely to take other people's territory, and to keep fast hold of it.

'The Chinese "Holy Men" also invented the "Book of Changes" (Yeki, or I-king), by which they pretended to discover the workings of the universe, a vain attempt, since it is impossible for man with his limited intelligence to find out the principles which govern the acts of [p.23] the gods. In imitation of them the Chinese nation has since given itself up to philosophizing, to which are to he attributed its constant internal dissensions. When things go right of themselves it is best to leave them alone. In ancient times, although there was no prosy system of [26] doctrine in Japan, there were no popular disturbances, and the empire was peacefully ruled. It is because the Japanese were truly moral in their practice that they required no theory of morals, and the fuss made by the Chinese about theoretical morals is owing to their laxity in practice. It is not wonderful that students of Chinese literature should despise their own country for being without a system of morals, but that Japanese who were acquainted with their own ancient literature should have pretended that Japan also had such a system, simply out of a feeling of envy, is ridiculous.

'When Chinese literature was imported into Japan, the people adopted many Chinese ideas, laws, customs and practices, which they so mixed up with their own that it became necessary to adopt a special name for the ancient native customs, which were in consequence called Kami no michi or Shin-tau, the word michi being applied in the same sense as the Chinese tau (tao), and Kami because of their divine origin. These native customs only survived in the ceremonies with which the native gods are worshipped.

'Every event in the universe is the act of the gods. They direct the changes of the seasons, the wind and the rain, the good and bad fortune of states and individual men. Some of the gods are good, others bad, and their acts partake of their own natures. Buddhists attribute events to "retribution" (in-guwa), while the Chinese ascribe them to the "decree of heaven" (tsu-mei or tien-ming). This latter is a phrase invented by the so-called "Holy Men" to justify murdering sovereigns and seizing their dominions. As neither heaven nor earth have minds, they cannot issue decrees. If heaven really could issue decrees it would certainly protect the good rulers and take care to prevent bad men from seizing the power, and in general, while the good would prosper, the bad would suffer misfortune. But in reality we find many instances of the reverse.

'Whenever anything goes wrong in the world it is to be attributed to the action of the evil gods called Magatsubi no kami (gods of crooked- [p.24] ness) whose power is so great [27] that the sun-goddess and the creator-god are sometimes unable to restrain them; much less are human beings able to resist their influence. The prosperity of the wicked and the misfortunes of the good, which seem opposed to ordinary justice, are their doing. The Chinese, not possessing the traditions of the divine age, were ignorant of this truth, and were driven to invent the theory of "Heaven's decrees."

'The eternal endurance of the dynasty of the Mikados is a complete proof that the 'way' called Kami no michi or Shin-tau infinitely surpasses the systems of all other countries.

'The "Holy Men" of China were merely successful rebels. The Mikado is the sovereign appointed by the pair of deities, Izanagi and Izanami, who created this country. The Sun-goddess never said, 'Disobey the Mikado if he be bad,' and therefore, whether he be good or bad, no one attempts to deprive him of his authority. He is the immovable ruler who must endure to the end of time, as long as the sun and moon continue to shine. In ancient language the Mikado was called a god, and that is his real character. Duty therefore consists in obeying him implicitly, without questioning his acts. During the middle ages such men as Hou-deu Yoshitoki, Hou-deu Yasutoki, Ashikaga Taka-uji and others violated this duty (michi), and took up arms against him. Their disobedience to the Mikado is attributable to the influence of Chinese learning.

'This "way" was established by Izanagi and Izanami, and delivered by them to the Sun-goddess, who handed it down, and this is why it is called the "way of the gods." The nature of this "way" is to be learnt by studying the Ko-zhi-ki and ancient writings, but mankind have been turned aside from it by the Spirits of Crookedness to Buddhism and Chinese philosophy.

'The various doctrines taught under the name of shin-tau are without authority.

'Human beings having been produced by the spirit of the two Creative Deities, are naturally endowed with the [28] knowledge of what they ought to do and what they ought to refrain from. It is unnecessary for them to trouble their heads with systems of morality. If a system of morals were necessary, men would be in- [p.25] ferior to animals, all of whom are endowed with the knowledge of what they ought to do, only in an inferior degree to men. If what the Chinese call Benevolence (Zhin), Righteousness (Gi), Propriety (Rei), Retiringness (Zkijau), Filial Piety (Kau), Brotherly Love (Te), Fidelity (Chiyuu) and Truth (Shin) really constituted the duty of man, they would be so recognized and practised without any teaching, but as they were invented by the so-called "Holy Men" as instruments for ruling a viciously-inclined population, it became necessary to insist on more than the actual duty of man. Consequently, although plenty of men profess these doctrines, the number of those who practise them is very small. Violations of this teaching were attributed to human lusts. As human lusts are a part of man's nature, they must be a part of the harmony of the universe, and cannot be wrong according to the Chinese theory. It was the vicious nature of the Chinese that necessitated such strict rules, as for instance that persons descended from a common ancestor, no matter how distantly related, should not intermarry. These rules not being founded on the harmony of the universe, were not in accordance with human feelings, and were therefore seldom obeyed.

'In ancient times Japanese refrained only from intermarriage among children of the same mother,17 but the distance between noble and mean was duly preserved. Thus the country was spontaneously well-governed, in accordance with the "way" established by the gods.

'Just as the Mikado worshipped the gods of heaven and earth, so his people prayed to the good gods in order to obtain blessings, and performed rites in honour of the bad gods, in order to avert their displeasure. If they [29] committed crimes or defiled themselves, they employed the usual methods of purification taught them by their own hearts. As there are bad as well as good gods, it is necessary to propitiate them with offerings of agreeable food, playing the harp, blowing the flute, singing and dancing and whatever else is likely to put them in a good humour.

'It has been asked whether the kami no michi is not the same as the [p.26] Taoism of Laotzu. Laotzu hated the vain conceits of the Chinese scholars, and honoured natorakiess, from which a resemblance may be argued; but as he was born in a dirty country not under the special protection of the Sun-goddess, he had only heard the theories of the succession of so-called Holy Men, and what he believed to be naturalness was simply what they called natural. He did not know that the gods are the authors of every human action, and this ignorance constituted a cause of radical difference.

'To have acquired the knowledge that there is no michi (ethics) to be learnt and practised is really to have learnt to practise the 'way' of the gods.'

This attack on the current Chinese philosophy was resented by a scholar named Ichikaha Tatsumaro, who in a pamphlet entitled Maga-no-hire begins by saying: "A certain man having abandoned himself to the study of the Ko-zhi-ki, Ni-hon-gi, Man-yefu-shifu and other books of the kind, until he had thoroughly masticated the old fables about which later ages can know nothing, and acquired an extensive acquaintance with them, the modern verse-makers have sounded his praises as a great teacher. It seems however that he had fancied the "naturalness" expounded by Laotzu to be a good thing, and he has violently abused the Holy Men. I have now undertaken to refute him."

Ichikaha starts by laying down the principle that 'unwritten traditions can never be accepted with implicit belief on account of the difficulties which stand in the way of their being handed down correctly, and the most incredible stories are those which have the best chance of being preserved. [30] Now, even allowing that the Chinese system of writing was introduced in the reign of Ou-zhin Ten-wau, the documents which Hiyeda no Are committed to memory must have been produced after that time, and for the period of about a thousand years which is calculated to have elapsed between Zhin-mu and Ou-zhin and the immense period called the "age of the gods" which preceded Zhin-mn's reign, no written records can have existed at all, since there was no native system of writing in use in ancient times.18 The stories told us about the earlier ages must have been invented by the Mikados. The [p.27] name of Amaterasa is probably a posthumous title conferred at a later period. If the sun-goddess is the real sun in heaven, it must have been quite dark before she was born; and yet it is stated that before she was born there were trees and plants, clothing, weapons, boats and buildings. If all these things existed before her birth, it seems probable that both sun and moon likewise preceded that event. It is curious that the stars are not mentioned in the Zhin-dai-no-maki, To say that the sun was born in Japan is a fiction which was probably invented by the earlier Mikados in order to support the assertion that a country is the root and all other countries only branches. The gods in heaven make no difference between different races of mankind, who are formed into separate nations by the seas and mountain ranges which divide them off from each other, and the sun shines equally over all.

'During the thousand years or so which are said to have elapsed between the reigns of Zhin-mu and Ou-zhin there were no written characters, and no cyclical signs by which time could be measured and its lapse recorded. Men knew that it was spring by the blossoming of the flowers, and that autumn had arrived by the leaves falling from the trees. The statement that a thousand years did actually elapse cannot be accepted with confidence.

'The Japanese word kami was simply a title of honour, but in consequence of its having been used to translate [31] the Chinese character shin (shen), a meaning has come to be attached to it which it did not originally possess. The ancestors of the Mikados were not gods but men, and were no doubt worthy to be reverenced for their virtues, but their acts were not miraculous or supernatural. If the ancestors of living men were not human beings, they are more likely to have been birds or beasts than gods.'

This is but a short summary of fifty-four pages of close print, a great part of which is occupied with the defence of the "Holy Men" and the Chinese philosophy. Some of the arguments remind us somewhat of the early deistical writers of Europe who maintained that religion was invented by priests with interested motives. It is not improbable that the author was indebted in some measure to the Ko-shi-tmu of Ara-wi Haku-seki, a rationalistic work composed about the year 1716.

Motowori replied to Ichikaha in a book called Kuzuhana, written [p.28] in 1780. In reply to the accusation of being an admirer of Laotsu, he says that it by no means follows that because that philosopher attacked the "Holy Men," all others who attacked them must be his followers. It is quite possible to have a bad opinion of both Taoism and Confucianism. To maintain the contrary is to resemble certain people who seeing a party of gamblers arrive first at the scene of a fire, and work hard to put it out, believed some honest villagers who came late, and aided in the good work, to be gamblers also. The teaching of the "Holy Men" is like a fire burning a house, Laotzu is the gambler who first tried to extinguish it, and Motowori's own work the Nahobi no Mitama is the honest villager.

With regard to the first argument put forth by Ichikaha, he argues that 'before the invention of writing the want of it could not have been felt in the same way as it would, if we were not deprived of a medium of recording facts on which for ages past we have been accustomed to depend almost entirely. It is an acknowledged fact, however, that we still find ourselves obliged to have recourse to oral language in matters of delicacy or detail which [32] cannot be conveniently committed to writing, and it is probable that the ancient traditions, which were preserved by exercise of memory, have for this very reason come down to us in greater detail than if they had been recorded in documents. Besides, men must have had much stronger memories in the days before they acquired the habit of trusting to written characters for bets which they wished to remember, as is shown to the present day in the case of the illiterate, who have to depend on memory alone.

'The facts that the sacred mirror bestowed by Amaterasu upon Ninigi no Mikoto is still preserved at the Nai-kuu temple in Ise; that the sword "Grass-cutter" is to this day at the temple of Atsuta in Wohari; that remains which date from the divine age are even now to be found in various provinces; that the sepulchres of the Mikados from Zhin-mu downwards exist in parts of the Ki-nai; that numerous relics of the divine age remain in the possession of the Court, and that the Nakatomi, Imibe and Okotomo families have transmitted the functions which they exercised in the age of the gods in unbroken succession to their descendants of later times, vindicate beyond the possibility of a doubt the truth of the old traditions.


'In reply to the argument that if Amaterasa and the moon be identical, there must have been perpetual night before she was born, which is inconsistent with the fact of trees and plants being in existence before her birth; and that therefore the son must have been previously hanging in the sky, he reiterates the statement that the goddess and the son are one and the same. For although she will continue to shine, as long as heaven and earth endure, she was born in Japan, and her descendants to this day rule over the empire. The difficulty of reconciling the statements that the world was plunged into darkness when she retired into the cavern, and that darkness did not exist before she was born is one that would strike even a child's intelligence. The critic need not make so much fuss about this point, as if it were entirely a new discovery of his own. The very inconsistency is [88] the proof of the authenticity of the record, for who would have gone out of his way to invent a story apparently so ridiculous and incredible. The acts of the gods are not to be explained by ordinary principles. Man's intelligence is limited, and there are many things which transcend it.

'If we reflect that Izanagi had to kindle a light when he visited the nether world, because of the darkness which reigned there, while the opposite was the case in the upperworld, although the sun-goddess had not yet come into being, it will be clear that there was some cause, which we cannot explain, for the darkness of the nether world, and for light existing on the earth. Some principle was evidently at work with which we are unacquainted. After the birth of the sun-goddess, no light could be obtained except from her brightness,19 as she had been appointed to illuminate the space between heaven and earth, which accounts for night covering the earth when she went into the cave.

'Many other miracles occurred in the age of the gods, the truth of which was not disputed until men were taught by Chinese philosophy to analyse the acts of the gods by the aid of their own feeble intelligence. The reason assigned for disbelieving in miracles is that they cannot be [p.30] explained, but in fact although the age of the gods has passed away, wondrous miracles surround us on all sides. For instance, is the earth suspended in space or does it rest upon something else? If it be said that the earth rests upon something else, then what is it that supports that something else? According to one Chinese theory the earth is a globe, suspended in space with the heavens revolving round it. But even if we suppose the heavens to be full of air, no ordinary principles will account for the land and sea being suspended in space without moving. The explanation offered is as miraculous as the supposition [34] previously made. It seems plausible enough to say that the heavens are merely air, and are without any definite form. If this be true there is nothing but air outside the earth, and this air must be either infinite or finite in extent. If it is infinite in extent, we cannot fix on any point as its centre, so that it is impossible to understand why the earth should be at rest; for if it be not in the centre it cannot be at rest. If it be finite, what causes the air to condense in one particular spot, and what position shall we assign to it? In any case, all these things are miraculous and strange. How absurd to take these miracles for granted, and at the same time to disbelieve in the wonders of the divine age. Think again of the human body. Seeing with the eyes, hearing with the ears, speaking with the mouth, walking on the feet and performing all manner of acts with the hands are strange things; so also the flight of birds and insects through the air, the blossoming of plants and trees, the ripening of their seeds and fruits are strange; and the strangest of all is the transformation of the fox and tanuki into human form. If rats, weasels and certain birds can see in the dark, why should the gods not have been endowed with a similar faculty?

In reply to an observation of Ichikaha's that "to obey and revere a sovereign, no matter whether he be good or bad, is the part of women," after an argument intended to prove that it is not safe to allow subjects to criticise the acts of their prince, Motowori says: "Thus, even if the prince be bad, to venerate, respect and obey him in all things, though it may seem like a woman's duty, is the right way of action, which does not allow of the obligations of a subject towards his prince ever being violated."

'All the moral ideas which man requires are implanted in his bosom [p.31] by the gods, and are of the same nature as the instincts which impel him to eat when he is hungry and to drink when he is thirsty. But the morals inculcated by the Chinese philosophers are inventions, and contain, something more in addition to natural morality.

'[35] The facts that many of the gods are invisible now, and have never been visible, furnish no argument against their existence. Existences can be made known to us by other senses than those of sight, such as odours and sound; while the wind,20 which is neither seen, heard nor smelt, is recognized by the impression which it makes on our bodies. The gods of the divine age are indeed no longer visible, but in that age they were visible. The sun-goddess must be excepted, for she is visible to all men even now. And as for the gods whose existence was never perceived by the eyes of men, they are known by their special modes of action upon men. All our knowledge comes to us in fact by our senses. We thus know that fire is hot and water cold, but of the nature of heat and cold we can discover nothing.

'There is a tradition in China that the left and right eyes of Puanku became the sun and moon, which is, however, usually discredited because the natives of that country, being admirers of false knowledge, assign the origin of these two luminaries to the Positive and Negative Essences. The real truth is that the sun and moon were produced when Izanagi no kami washed his eyes after returning from his search after Izanami no kami in the nether world. The tradition has evidently travelled to China, and assumed the perverted form in which we find it there, during the lapse of ages.'

Motowori disclaims any intention of endeavouring to resuscitate pure Shin-tau so far as to make it the rule of life in the present day. His only object is to present the age of the gods in its real form. All that comes to pass in the world, whether good or bad in its nature, is the act of the gods, and men have generally little influence over the course of events. To insist on practising the ancient "way of the gods," in opposition to the customs of the present age, would be rebellion against that "way," and equivalent to trying to excel it. If men in their daily practice obey the laws made from time to time by the authorities, and act [p.32] in accordance with general custom, [36] they are practising Shin-tau. It was with this reservation that he vindicated the ancient practice of intermarriage among children of the same father by different mothers, and not in order to recommend its revival.

The Ken-kiyau-zhin, or "The madman thrust into an iron collar," is likewise a controversial work in reply to the Shiyou-hou-hatsu, which was apparently an attack upon the ancient records. The latter is a rare book, and we have not been able to procure a copy, but to judge from the short quotations contained in the Ken-kiyau-zhin the points in dispute have no direct bearing upon the essential principles of Shin-tau.

From the central truth that the Mikado is the direct descendant of the gods, the tenet that Japan ranks far above all other countries is a natural consequence. No other nation is entitled to equality with her, and all are bound to do homage to the Japanese Sovereign and pay tribute to him. These truths are enlarged upon in great detail by Motowori in a work entitled Giyo-zhiyuu Gai-gen, "Indignant words about killing the Barbarians," written in 1778. It takes the form of a review of the relations between Japan and other countries from the earliest period down to the time of Iheyasu, as recorded in the histories of both countries, but does not touch upon the subject of the intercourse with Christian states in the 16th and 17th centuries, probably because Christianity was a forbidden question.

'That on the earliest occasion when the Mikado exchanged letters and envoys with the Chinese Sovereign, the first step should have been taken by the former is a source of deep annoyance to Motowori. This deplorable event occurred in the year 707 under the Empress Buwi-ko, when an envoy was sent to China to fetch a Buddhist sutra which Shiyau-toku Tai-shi remembered to have possessed during a previous state of existence, when he was studying the sacred mysteries in that country. It is true that the Chinese histories contain notices of tribute bearers from Japan much earlier than this date, but these envoys, whatever may have been their character, [37] certainly were not commissioned by the sovereign. As for their paying tribute, the statement is due to the inordinate vanity of the Chinese, who fancy themselves superior to all surrounding nations, whereas they are no better than barbarians themselves, and are bound to acknowledge the supremacy of Japan. The [p.33] Ni-hon-gi speaks also of the despatch of Japanese to China in 464 and 468, but Motowori thinks that they were not accredited to any Chinese sovereign. One of the Chinese histories has an account of the mission sent by Sawi-ko, and gives what purports to be a letter from that Empress, in which appears the famous phrase, "The Ten-shi (son of Heaven) of the place where the sun rises sends a letter to the Ten-shi of the place where the sun sets."' If the Empress Sawi-ko really sent such a letter, she treated the Chinese sovereign with far too much civility, and if she had addressed him with some such phrase as, "The Heavenly Emperor notifies (chiyoku) to the king of Go (Wu)," he ought to have been filled with gratitude, instead of which he is represented by the Chinese historiographer as having been offended at being treated as the equal. But the truth is that Suwi ko Ten-wau wanted to get something from him, and therefore condescended to flatter his vanity.' The Ni-hon-gi relates that this Empress showered civilities upon the envoy who brought the Chinese Emperor's answer, but Motowori does not care to dwell on this fact.

Uninterrupted intercourse seems to have continued between the two Courts for about two centuries, and then to have ceased during a period of about thirty years. 'It was unworthy of Japan to enter into relations with a base barbarian state, whatever might be the benefits which she expected to obtain. It resulted in too many cases in the shipwreck of the vessels and the profitless deaths of the envoys by drowning. Had the Chinese ruler paid due reverence to the Mikado as a being infinitely superior to himself, the objection would have been less.' After the end of the tenth century the Mikados appear to have ceased sending envoys to China, and Motowori remarks that "so long as Japan wanted anything from China, she [38] overlooked the insolent pretensions of the Chinese sovereigns, but now being no longer in a position to gain by the interchange of courtesies, she rejected all further overtures of friendship."

The failure of the expeditions sent against Japan by Kublai Kban and the Tai-kafu's conquest of Korea of course afford much matter for reflections of a gratifying nature, which are only clouded by the disgraceful conduct of the Sbiyap-gud Asbikaga Yoshi-mitsu, who in writing to the Ming sovereign addresses him as Your Majesty (ha'ka), [p.34] and in one of his letters uses the title "King" (koku-wau) in speaking of himself, of the Shiyaa-gon Yoshihisa, in sending envoys to ask for money (such sums as 60,000 and 100,000 strings of cash21 at a time), and by the unfortunately obsequious language used by the Tai-kalu and some of his generals in writing to the Chinese officials about the negotiations for peace. 'But the responsibility in these last cases lay with the priests, who being the only men in those days with the slightest tincture of learning, had charge of the correspondence.'

The most remarkable point about this long tirade against China is that Japan was indebted to her for all the arts and sciences that make life better than nonentity, for a complete system of government and laws, and even for the very art of writing which enabled the writer to record his arrogant and spiteful feelings.

Of Motowori's other works relating to Shin-tau the most important are his commentaries on the Oho-barahi no kotoba (1795) and the Idzumo Kununo-miyatsuko Kamuyogoto (1798), the Zhin-dai Udzu tw Yama-kage, which is a development of his criticisms on the first two books of the Ni-hon-gi called the Zhin-dai no maki, and the Zhin-dai Shiyau-go (1789). This last is a compilation from those parts of the Ko-zhi-ki and Ni-hon-gi which describe the age of the gods and certain other ancient books, written in the mixture of Chinese characters and Hiragana called Kana-mazhiri, with a few explanatory notes. [39] It is intended to give a clearer account of the ancient traditions than either of the original works on which it is based, by eliminating the Chinese order of characters, and substituting purely Japanese sentences. To these may be added the Teh-so to-zhiyau Ben-hen (1767), a reply to two writers, one of whom had tried to prove that the capital of Amaterasu was at Nakatsu in Bu-zeu, the other that it was in the province of Yamato, and the Ise Ni-guu Sakitake no Ben, the object of which is to refute the heretical notion that Amaterasu is not the sun, and to show that the deity of the Ge-kuu, who is identified by some writers with Ame-no-mi-naka-nushi, by others with Kuni-no-toko-tachi, is in reality Uke-mochi no kami, the goddess of food.

The Reki-teu Seu-shi kai, in six volumes, published two years after his death, is of great value to the student of ancient Japanese history. [p.35] t contains an amended text of all the mukoto-nori, or Imperial messages, which are recorded in the Shiyoku-Ni-hon-gi during the period which elapsed from the abdication of Ji-don Ten-wan in 696, down to 791, the 10th year of Kawan-ma Ten-wau. These messages were delivered on various occasions, such as the recognition of the heir-apparent, the abdication of the Sovereign, the creation of an Empress, the punishment of criminals of rank, the outbreak of rebellions, the granting of lands to distinguished subjects, and several were pronounced in connection with the execution of a new kind of dance by the Princess who afterwards became Kau-ken Ten-wau. Another was composed for a thanksgiving service for the discovery of gold in Japan, celebrated in 749 at the temple of Tou-dai-zhi in Nara, when the Empress Kau-ken was present with her whole court, and worshipped the great image commonly called Dai-butsu. The style is in many cases pure Japanese, and these messages, together with the norito preserved in the Yen-gi Shiki, form the only native prose compositions which are of older date than the 9th century.

Like the other members of this Pure Shin-tau School, Motowori devoted a great deal of attention to the study of the [40] ancient language, and composed numerous works of great value in this department of learning. Mr. Aston has given the titles of several of these in the list appended to his Grammar of the Written Language, to which may be added the Ko-kin-shifu Towokagami, a commentary on the collection of poetry entitled Ko-kin-shifu, notes on the Gen-zhi Monogatari under the title of G.M. Tana no Wogushi, the Chi-mei Zhi-on Ten-you-rei, on the etymology of local names, the Man-yefu Tama no Wo-goto and Man-yefu-shifu hai-kun, and the Uhi-yama-bumi, a general introduction to Japanese studies. The Tama-kushige is a highly interesting work on the philosophy of government written in 1687, in which the abuses that were even then beginning to sap the foundations of the feudal system are laid bare with an unsparing hand. A summary of its contents might be of value to those who are interested in modern Japanese politics, but would be foreign to the scope of this paper.

Motowori's style, less ornate than that of Mabuchi, is clear and correct, though sometimes wanting in terseness, and his controversial writings give evidence of his logical powers in dealing with his own [p.36] premiums. He may be said almost to have created the modern literary Japanese language, and the influence of his example is seen even in the lighter literature of the present day. The violence of his prejudices in favour of everything native and antique is probably due to a reaction against the dominion of Chinese ideas and forms of expression, which at the time he thought and wrote bade fair to extinguish every trace of Japanese nationality. No author can be studied to such advantage by those who wish to acquire a mastery of written Japanese.


Hirata Atsutane, the fourth in chronological order of those scholars whom I have named as the founders of this school, was born in 1776 at the town of Kubota in Deha, the capital of that remote district in the north of Japan commonly called Akita. His father was Ohowada Seibei, a samurai of the Satake family, who traced back his descent to the sun-goddess through Kuwan-mu Ten-wau, [41] the fiftieth Mikado from Zhin-mu, and enjoyed a hereditary pension of a hundred koku of rice. Atsutane was the fourth son of a family of eight children. 'At the age of eight he entered the school of a professor of Chinese named Nakayama Sei-ga, and three years later commenced the study of medicine under his uncle Ohowada Biu-gen. Up to his twentieth year he chiefly devoted himself to Chinese studies, and practised fencing under various teachers, but he longed to distinguish himself in some way more worthy of his abilities, and in the beginning of 1795 he suddenly quitted his father's house, leaving a letter behind him bidding farewell to his relations. He had chosen the 8th of the month for his departure, apparently on account of the popular belief that a person who leaves home on that day never returns. With a riyau in his purse he started for Yedo, where, after his arrival, avoiding the society of his fellow-clansmen and friends, he sought on all sides for a virtuous and learned teacher. Sometimes he obtained employment as an under-teacher, and in his worst extremity was reduced to seeking a livelihood by manual labour. In this manner be passed four or five years, suffering great hardship and privation. In 1800, at the age of twenty-five, he became the adopted heir of Hirata Figibei, a retainer of [p.37] the daimiyau of Matsnyama in Bi-chiynn, and took up his residence to the yashiki of Honda Shia-ri on Kagnra-zaka in Yedo.

It was in the following year that Atsntane first became acquainted with the writings of Motowori, and was seized with an enthusiastic love for the study of Japanese antiquity. In the seventh month he formally enrolled himself among Motowori's pupils, about two months before the death of the elder scholar. His first essay in the new branch of learning to which he had devoted himself was an attack upon the writings of Da-zai Shiyun-tai (b. 1680, d. 1747), in a book entitled Ka-bau-shiyo, which he wrote in 1808, and in the following year he began to take pupils. It was in 1804 that he drew up a table of Chinese characters relating to the practise of the five virtues. These he enumerates as Severence, Righteousness, Benevolence, [42] Wisdom and Valour, and nineteen characters are included under each heading. It is a more curious than valuable production.

The Ki-zhin Shin-ron, completed first in 1805 and revised for publication in 1820, is intended to prove that the ordinary Chinese philosophers have misunderstood the teachings of Confucius with regard to supernatural beings, and to show by quotations from the Confucian Analects and other writings that he believed in their actual existence. Hirata in this work refutes the opinions of Chinese and Japanese scholars with regard to the non-existence of gods, and demonstrates the correctness of the opposite view. We have not time to analyze the work more minutely, and have had recourse to the bibliographical list of Hirata's writings printed at the end of the Niu-gaku Mon-dafu for this brief notice of it.

In 1807 he resumed practice as a physician, and the study of medicine. During this year he commenced the compilation of the Chisbima Shira-nami, or White Waves of the Kurile Islands, which contains an account of the incursions of the Russians under Davidoff and Chwostoff against the Japanese possessions in Sagahen and Itorup in the previous year. It was intended also to be a manual of the way to 'restrain barbarians' and of maritime defence. It is to be regretted that this interesting work still remains unprinted.

The year 1811 was an extremely fruitful one. Early in the spring he began to revise the lectures on Shin-tau, Chinese philosophy and [p.38] Buddhism which daring the two previous years he had delivered to his pupils, and produced in succession the Ko-dau Tai-i, Summary of the Ancient Way; Zoku-Shin-tau Tai-i, Summary of the Vulgar Shin-tau; Kan-gaku Tai-i, Summary of Chinese Learning, the same as that which was afterwards published under the title of Sai-zhiyaJcu Gai-ron; the Bushu-dau Tai-i, Summary of Buddhism, subsequently renamed Go-dan Ben; I-dau Tai-i, Summary of the Medical Art, printed under the title of Shidzu no Ihaya; the Ka-dau Tai-i, Summary of the Art of Poetry, and the Tama-datuki, which he [43] rewrote from beginning to end some years later. Of the works in this list the first, second and last are alone of interest to the student of Shin-tau, but as the Zoku Shin-tau Tai-i is a hostile criticism of the sects comprehended by the author under the name of vulgar Shin-tau I shall not ask my readers to go through a summary of its contents. It will be more useful to consider it on some future occasion in connection with the works of the writers against whom it is directed.

The Summary of the Ancient Way treats of the following subjects: firstly, the reason why the subject-matter of his teaching is called the Ancient Learning (Ko-gaku); secondly, the origin of this study, with a brief account of those who founded it and spread it abroad in the world; thirdly, the foundations upon which it is based; fourthly, the age of the gods; fifthly, the reasons why the gods are entitled to the gratitude of mankind; sixthly, why Japan is "the country of the gods"; seventhly, how it is certain beyond a doubt that every Japanese is a descendant of the gods; eighthly, the uninterrupted continuance of the imperial line from the beginning of the world, together with proofs of the superiority of Japan over all other countries in the world, both materially and morally; ninthly, the truth that the Japanese, being natives of 'the country of the gods,' are born with a naturally perfect and true disposition, which from the most ancient times has been called Yamato-damashihi or Yamato-gokoro,22 and tenthly, how the traditions of the Age of the Gods, and of their actions, appear to the ordinary man to be mysterious and difficult of belief; and the refutation of this error;—in the course of which exposition the real 'way' will be disclosed.


Japanese learning may be divided into several branches, firstly, the Way of the Gods; secondly, poetry; thirdly, law; fourthly, romances; fifthly, history; and sixthly, archaeology. Under these there are subdivisions, such as the various schools of what is commonly called Shin-tau, [44] and two or three schools of poetry. Chinese learning also has many subdivisions, and in Buddhism there are the doctrines of the numerous sects, besides the Learning of the Heart,23 which is an offshoot of Buddhism. Then we have astronomy and physical geography, the learning of the Hollanders, and medicine, which is divided into three schools, the ancient, the modern and the Dutch. But Japanese learning is the chief of all these. A man passes for a good Chinese scholar if he has learnt to read the Four Books and the Five Classics, or, according to another enumeration, the Thirteen Classics, has run hastily through half a dozen other works, and can compose Chinese prose and what they have a trick of calling poetry. There is nothing very difficult in all this. The Buddhist priests have a much larger task. Their canon (which Hirata here says he has read) consists of some five thousand volumes, seven or eight horse-loads, a tenth part of which is far more than the sinologue has to study; and to make the work harder the priests have to study Chinese as well as their own religious books, or else they could not read the latter. And owing to the strange manner in which Buddhist and Chinese notions have been mixed up with Japanese learning (Shin-tau), the student of the latter must possess all the knowledge of the sinologue and the priest that he may be able to separate the wheat from the chaff, and he must know all the possible arguments which his opponents may have at their command in order to refute them. Besides, if a Japanese studies foreign learning he will be able to select whatever good things there are in it, and turn them to the service of his country. From this point of view Chinese, Indian and even Dutch studies may be looked upon as Japanese learning,

'In the first place it is necessary to state that the reason why this teaching is called the "study of the ancient way" is because it aims at explaining the facts which begin with the origin of heaven and earth, [p.40] by means pf the ancient ways, thinking and the ancient tongue, [45] such as they were before the introduction of the Chinese and Buddhist "ways," and at demonstrating that in those facts is embodied the whole of the true "way."'

Having disposed of his first heading in this manner, Hirata proceeds to deal with the second, namely the founders of the school to which he himself belongs. A summary of what he has said about them in the second and ninth volumes of his Tama-dasuki, has already been given in the former part of this paper.

The foundations upon which the Ancient Learning is based are the writings in which the Imperial Court has recorded the facts of antiquity. Most people are wont to suppose that the only way to attain to a knowledge of right conduct is to read books full of precepts, but they labour under a mistake. Precept is far inferior to example, for it only arises in the absence of example, while it is unnecessary when example exists. As Laotzu says, "When the Great Way decayed, Humanity and Righteousness arose."25 In order to spur on a warrior to valiant deeds, rather than show him a book which says, "When you go to battle strive to be first, do not lag behind others," show him a book in which are written the facts about ancient heroes who led the way, fought bravely and achieved renown. The facts will sink deeply into his heart, and he will say to himself, "When the occasion arises, I will distinguish myself like such an one of antiquity," but the mere exhortation will scarcely stir his emotions. The story of Ohoishi Kuranosuke and the forty-seven faithful retainers, who underwent a thousand hardships and perils in order to slay Kira Eaudzuke no suke, the enemy of their lord Asano Takumi no kami, will do far more to keep alive the flame of loyalty than any simple precepts about the duty of avenging a master. The ethical writings of the T'ang dynasty are fall of the most admirable teachings of [46] this kind, but when we find that the authors were themselves guilty of murdering their sovereigns and of treason, their words lose all their effect.


As has already been said, the real principles of conduct are not to be taught by precept, and we mast go to the books to find the facts from which the real ancient way is to be learnt. The most important of these is the Ko-zhi-ki. Most Japanese, including those who profess to be students of the way of the gods, hold the Ni-hon-shiyo-ki in great honour. Its first two books are printed separately under the title of Zhin-dai-no-maki, and the common teachers of Shin-tau have written various so-called commentaries thereon. They even assert that these books are the only authorities about the beginning of the world and the age of the gods. Motowori in the first volume of the Ko-zhi-ki then pointed out the erroneousness of this opinion. Part of the cosmogony given in the Zhiu-dai-no-maki can be actually traced to ancient Chinese writing, from which it has been taken almost word for word. But on the other hand the Ni-hon-shiyo-ki, or, as it should properly be called, the Ni-hon-gi, has great merits of its own, which ought not to be passed over. In addition to the main text of the first two books, it quotes a number of other parallel passages from documents then extant, which often throw much light on the received traditions of the divine age, and it gives much fuller details of the history of the Mikados from Zhin-mu Ten-wau downwards than the Ko-zhi-ki does. When the ornamental Chinese phraseology has been eliminated there remains a great treasure of truth, and the Ni-hon-gi therefore does really deserve the first place among the sacred books.

It is most lamentable that so much ignorance should prevail as to the evidences of the two fundamental doctrines, that Japan is the country of the Gods and her inhabitants the descendants of the Gods. Between the Japanese people and the Chinese, Hindoos, Russians, Dutch, Siamese, Cambodians and other nations of the world there is a difference of kind, rather than of degree. It was not out of vain-glory that the inhabitants of this country called it the land of the gods (Shin-koku, [47] kami no kuni). The gods who created all countries belonged without exception to the Divine Age, and were all born in Japan, so that Japan is their native country, and all the world acknowledges the appropriateness of the title. The Koreans were the first to become acquainted with this truth, and from them it was gradually diffused through the globe, and accepted by every one.


Before the origin of things there was Infinite space (oho-sora); neither heaven nor earth, nor the son, nor moon, nor anything else existed. In Infinite space were Ame-no-mi-naka-nnshi no kami,26 and next Taka-mi-musa-hi no kami and Kama-mi-mnsa-bi no kami, by whose miraculous power a thing whose shape cannot be described in words came into existence in the midst of space. This thing floated (or, was suspended) in space like a cloud, without any support. From it came forth something sprouting like a horn, or like the young sprout of the rush called kaya; but as to its nature there is no tradition. It may however be conjectured that it was pure, translucent and bright, for it afterwards became the sun, and from the time when Ama-terasu-oho-mi kami became its ruler, the brightness of her august body has shone through it. As this thing grew upwards it widened out infinitely, just as a cloud rising from the top of a mountain looks like a rush sprouting, but afterwards becomes immensely extended. This is what in the Divine Age was called Ama-Uu-kuni (the kingdom of heaven), Taka-ma-no'hara (the high plain of heaven), and sometimes simply Ame (heaven). In a similar manner there grew downwards a something, which afterwards separated and became the moon. During the double process fourteen other gods came into being, of whom the last were Izanagi no kami and Izanami no kami. They are the parents of the deities of the sun and moon and the progenitors of all the other gods.

[48] As to the signification of the word kami;27 it is applied in the first place to all the kami of heaven and earth who are mentioned in the ancient records, as well as to their spirits which reside in the temples where they are worshipped. Further, not only human beings, but also birds, beasts, plants and trees, seas and mountains, and all other things whatsoever which possess powers of an extraordinary and eminent character, or deserve to be revered and dreaded, are called kami. Eminent [p.43] does not mean solely worthy of honour, good or distinguished by great deeds, but is applied also to the kami who are to be dreaded on account of their evil character or miraculous nature. Amongst human beings who are at the same time kami are to be classed the successive Mikados, who in the Man-yefu-shifu and other ancient poetry are called towo-im-kami (distant gods) on account of their being far removed from ordinary men, as well as many other men, some who are revered as kami by the whole Empire, and those whose sphere is limited to a single province, department, village or family. The kami of the Divine Age were mostly human beings, who yet resembled kami, and that is why we give that name to the period in which they existed. Beside human beings, the thunder is called the 'sounding god' (naru-kami). The dragon, goblins (ten-gu) and the fox are also kami, for they are likewise eminently miraculous and dreadful creatures. In the Ni-hon-gi and in the Man-yefu-shifu the tiger and the wolf28 are spoken of as kami, Izanagi gave the name of Oho-kamu-dzu-mi no mikoto to the fruit of the peach tree, and the jewels which he wore on his neck were called Mi-kura tama no mikoto. In the Zhin-dai-no-maki and the Oho-harahi no kotoba, rocks, stumps of trees, leaves of plants and so forth are said to have spoken in the Divine age; these also were kami. There are many cases of the term being applied to seas and mountains. It was not a spirit that was meant, but the term was used directly of the particular sea or mountain; [49] of the sea on account of its depth and the difficulty of crossing it, of the mountain on account of its loftiness.29

Izanagi and Izanami, after descending by command of the Heavenly Gods upon Onogoro-zhima, begot the eight islands of Japan, namely, [p.44] what are now called Ahaji, Shi-koka, Oki, Kia-shia, Iki, Tsushima, Sado and the main island. They begot a number of gods, and their posterity gradually increased. Amongst the descendants of their child Susanowo no kami was Oho-na-mnji no kami, a god of surpassing powers. For a long time he was subjected to great annoyance at the hands of his numerous brothers, but having taken a journey to the nether world (the moon) to consult his ancestor, he was enabled, by following the advice he then received, to overcome his rebellions brethren, and establish himself as the ruler of this country. One of his many names is Oho-kuni-nushi no kami, which means the 'great lord of the country.' The seat of his government was in the province of Idzumo. He had many children, the eldest of whom was Koto-shiro-nushi no kami, one of the eight gods worshipped in the Zhiu-gi-kuwan; second was Aji-snki-taka-hiko-ne no kami, the god of Kami-gamo near Kiyau-to,' and another was Take-mi-na-gata no mikoto, the god of Kami no Suwa in Shinano. Oho-na-muji is a corruption of Oho-na-mochi, the Great Possessor of Names, a title given to him because of the numerous names which he possessed. In conjunction with Sukuna-bikona no kami, the eldest son of the two creators, he completed the work begun by Izanagi and Izanami, and civilized the country. To these two gods are ascribed the discovery of medicine and the invention of divination.

Amaterasu oho-mi-kami, having been appointed Queen [50] of the sun by Izanagi, shares the government of the world with the two creators. She in turn desired to make a son of her own ruler over the terrestrial world. This was Oshi-ho-mimi no mikoto, a god who was produced from the goddess' necklace; he was married to Tama-yori-hime no mikoto, a grand-daughter of the two creators. The offspring of this pair was Ninigi no mikoto, who was therefore the grandson of Amaterasu, and the title Sume-mi-ma no mikoto (Sublime Grandchild) applied to him expresses this relationship. Ninigi no mikoto replaced his father as sovereign-designate of the world, but as Oho-na-muji who was in actual possession could hardly be expected to surrender peacefully, a council was held of all the gods. By the advice of the most sagacious of the gods, one of the other children of Amaterasu, named Ame-no-hohi no mikoto, was sent on an embassy to the world, to persuade Oho-na-muji to give up his rights. The envoy remained away [p.45] three years, and as no result had yet been obtained, a second envoy was despatched, who was to induce Oho-na-muji to submit by a display of military force. The second envoy, however, fell in love with Shita-teru-hime, a daughter of Oho-na-muji, and failed to perform his errand. He even slew a messenger who was sent to stimulate him to accomplish his mission. Upon this an expedition was started under two warlike gods named Take-mika-dzuchi and Futsu-nushi, who in joint action with Ame-no-hohi no mikoto succeeded at last in obtaining from Oho-na-mnji a renunciation of his sovereignty over Japan in favour of the Sublime Grandchild. The only conditions which he exacted were that he should have a temple built for his residence where proper services might be performed in his honour, and that the Unseen (kakuri-goto) should be placed under his charge. This arrangement was ratified by Amaterasu and the two creators. The temple of Oho-yashiro in Idzumo, which exists to this day, was built for Oho-na-muji, and Ameno-hohi, from whom sprang the family of the Idzumo-no-kuni no miyatsuko, at first hereditary governors of the province, and afterwards priests of the temple, became his servant.

[51] It now became possible for Ninigi-no-mikoto to descend and take possession of his realm. Before starting from the sun he received from the goddess, his grandmother, the three divine insignia, called kmanagi-no-tsurugi (a sword, which is enshrined at Atsuta in Wohari), the Yasahani-no-maga-tama (a stone) and the mirror which is worshipped at the Nai-kuu in Ise as the representative of the goddess of the sun. Accompanied by a number of inferior gods, he descended on the Ama no uki-hashi, or floating bridge of heaven, to Taka-chi-ho no mine, now called Kirishima yama, which lies on the boundary between Hiuga and Ohosumi in Kiu-shiu. On this occasion grains of rice were thrown broadcast in the air to dispel the darkness which covered the sky, and it is said that rice grows wild on Kirishihia yama to this day.

The Ama no uki-hashi was a thing by which communication took place between heaven and earth in those days. It floated in the air, and was also called Ama no iha-fune, literally, the heavenly rock-boat. It was on this that Izanagi aud Izauami took their stand when they stirred about with the sacred spear to find land. There are still remains of the hashi-date, lofty mounds by which the uka-hashi was reached, in the [p.46] provinces of Harima and Tan-go. After the descent of the Sublime Grandchild, the son and the earth, which had already receded from each other to a considerable distance, gradually became farther separated, and communication by the floating bridge ceased. The hashi-date fell down, and have since lain on their longest side: that near Miyadza in Tan-go measures twenty-two thousand two hundred and ninety feet in length.

The sun having thus ascended, became fixed in the centre of space, where it constantly revolves on its axis from left to right. The earth is far removed from it in space, and moves round it from right to left, one revolution being called a year. At the same time the earth revolving on itself, produces the phenomena of day and night. The moon which split off from the earth about the same period revolves round the earth in a little over twenty nine days and a half, waxing and [52] waning as it goes. The process by which the sun, earth and moon were thus produced resembles the separation of the umbilical cord and the placenta at the birth of a child, or the detachment of a ripened seed from the capsule. It is not merely a fortuitous resemblance, but the processes are identical in all three cases.

As it was Japan which lay directly opposite to the sun when it had sprouted upwards and separated from the earth, it is quite clear that Japan lies on the summit of the globe. It is equally evident that all other countries were formed at a much later period by the spontaneous consolidation of the foam of the sea and the collection of mud in various localities, when Izanagi and Izanami brought forth the eight islands of Japan, and separated the land from the water. Foreign countries were of course produced by the power of the creator gods, but they were not begotten by Izanagi and Izanami, nor did they give birth to the goddess of the sun, which is the cause of their inferiority. The traditions about the origin of the world which are preserved in foreign countries are naturally incorrect, just as the accounts of an event which has happened at the capital become distorted when they travel to a province, and it finally comes to be believed that the province was the actual scene of the event. The fact is patent that the Mikado is the true Son of Heaven, who is entitled to reign over the four seas and the ten thousand countries.


People who have been misled by their foreign studies are wont to say that Japan, is a little country, as if extent of territory were any criterion of the importance or rank of a state; and they also point to her tardy civilisation. But every one knows that great minds develope late; for example Ota Nobonaga, who was commonly called Baka dona (Lord Idiot) until he was past the age of twenty, and the same was the case with the famous Oho-ishi Kura-no-suke, whose fame will endure to the end of time. Animals and birds know how to pick up and eat grain and insects as soon as they are born, and some have offspring when they are only two or three months old. If man were [53] to be judged by such a standard, what a helpless, good-for-nothing creature he would be. But his slow development is a proof of his superiority, and the same holds good with regard to the development of nations.

A common but extremely erroneous phrase which has obtained currency, is the "Seven Generations of Celestial Gods and the Five Generations of Terrestrial Gods." In the first place neither the Ko-zhi-ki nor the Ni-hon-gi, although they speak of the succession of gods beginning with Kuni-no-toko-dachi and ending with Izanagi and Izanami as seven generations of the Divine Age, call them Celestial Gods; the reason being that all these gods came into existence on the earth. The Ko-zhi-ki gives the name of Celestial Gods to Ame-no-mi-naka-nushi, the two creator gods, Umashi-ashi-kabi-hiko-ji and Ame-no-toko-dachi. The term Terrestrial Gods was given to the gods of this country after the time of Ninigi no mikoto, to distinguish them from the Celestial Gods. It is a huge error to call the succession of gods beginning with Amateraeu and ending with the father of Zhin-mu Ten-wau the Five generations of Terrestrial Gods, for in the first place Amaterasu, though born on the earth, was made ruler over the sun, and is therefore distinctly a Celestial God; and secondly Oshi-ho-mimi and Ninigi were both born in heaven; neither was the title Terrestrial Gods ever applied to their descendants. The inventor of the phrase was Imibe no Masanori, the author of the Zhin-dai no Maki no Ku-ketsu, who wrote about the middle of the fourteen century. There exists no hard and fast line between the age of the gods and the present age, and there is no justification whatever for drawing one, as the Ni-hon-gi does, between U-kaya-fuki-ahesa and Zhiu-mu Ten-wau.


The descendants of the gods who accompanied Ninigi no mikoto, as well as the offspring of the successive Mikados, who entered the ranks of the subjects of the Mikados with the surnames of Tahira, Minamoto, and so forth, have gradually increased and multiplied. Although numbers of Japanese cannot state with any certainty from what gods they are descended, all of them have tribal [54] names (kabane) which were originally bestowed by the Mikados, and those who make it their province to study genealogies can tell from a man's ordinary surname who his remotest ancestor must have been.

From the fact of the divine descent of the Japanese people proceeds their immeasurable superiority to the natives of other countries in courage and intelligence.

It is not necessary to quote the opinions of foreigners in order to prove that the heavens are immovable and that the earth revolves, for these facts are clear enough from ancient traditions, but as the westerners have elaborated astronomy and physical geography to a very high degree of minuteness, their account of the matter is more easily comprehended. It will be unnecessary to follow Hirata in the exposition which he here gives of the formation of the earth and its division into five continents, since he is candid enough to acknowledge the source from which it is taken. It is only fair to say that he praises the Dutch very warmly for their achievements in natural science, and accords to them a much higher place among philosophers than to the Chinese, whom he regards as empty visionaries. He also mentions Kaempfer, and gives a summary of his "History of Japan." There exists a book called I-zhin-kiyou-fu Den, or the Way to Terrify Barbarians, which takes for its text that part of the "History of Japan" in which Kaempfer gives his reasons for approving of the policy of excluding foreigners. It is difficult not to suppose that Kaempfer's account of the dangers which have to be encountered in navigating the Japanese seas, and his statement that Nagasaki was the only port into which a good-sized vessel could enter, were prompted by a desire to serve Dutch interests. The story of the seizure by Japanese of the Dutch governor Nuits on the island of Formosa is quoted with much satisfaction by Hirata, as an illustration of the superior valour of his country-men.


In the 12th month of the same year, which would about correspond to January 1812, he started off secretly to Fu-chiyuu (now called Shidzu-woka) in Soruga, where he [55] quartered himself in the house of a friend, and began the composition of the Ko-shi Sei-bun, or 'Complete Text of the Ancient Record.' After offering up a prayer29 to all the gods for their aid he set to work on the 5th, and finished his labours at the end of the month. As a proof of his remarkable memory, it is said that he composed the three volumes of the Text and several volumes of the prolegomena, entitled Ko-shi-chiyou, without making a single reference to the works from which his materials were drawn. The Ko-shi Sei-bun was apparently intended to have been brought far down into what is usually called the historical period, but the part which relates to the Divine Age is all that has at present appeared. It is a compilation founded on the texts of the Ko-zhi-ki, Ni-hon-gi, Ko-go-zhifu-wi, Fu-do- ki, Ku-zhi-ki, Norito and several other of the ancient books, with some slight conjectural additions of his own, and is written in the style of the Ko-zhi-ki. Many native scholars are of opinion that he has gone too far in altering the ancient texts, and prefer the originals, inconsistent and contradictory as they sometimes are, but this is a matter on which I have not had time to form an opinion. Those who care to investigate the subject will find in the last six volumes of the Ko-shi-chiyou30 the grounds on which he adopted the text of each of the hundred and sixty-five sections into which the Ko-shi Sei-bun is divided. In the course of the same year he began to work at the commentary, entitled Ko-shi Ben. It was to have extended to about one hundred volumes, but only twenty-eight have as yet been printed; they cover the first one hundred and forty-three sections. The Kai-dai-ki, or introduction to the Koshi-chiyou, in five volumes, was begun in 1819 and printed shortly afterwards. Besides discussions on the authority and relative value of all the ancient records, it contains a great deal of information relative to the introduction of Buddhism, and the gradual [56] substitution of [p.50] Chinese political institutions for those of native growth. Amongst other matters of interest to the historical student, it is proved that the hou-ken, or feudal system, the destruction of which only a few years back was hailed as a 'return to the ancient regime,' was the original form of government in Japan, and that a central power, ruling by means of a council of state, ministries and local prefects, was an innovation derived from China.

Hirata's next work of importance was the Tama no Mi-hashira, completed early in the year 1818. It is of similar character to the San-dai-hau, already named as forming a supplemental volume to the Ko-zhi-ki Den. The peculiar feature of the Sau-dai-kau is that it for the first time identifies the sun with Ame, usually interpreted 'heaven,' and yomi no kuni, the region of darkness, which Motowori had explained as the abode of departed spirits, with the moon. According to this new view, Amaterasu oho-mi-kami, instead of being the ruler of heaven, is the ruler of the sun, and Tsuku-yomi do mikoto is the ruler of the moon and not the moon itself. In the Ko-zhi-ki Den Motowori had defined Ame as a region above the sky, in which the celestial gods have their abode, and Takama-no-hara as merely another name for it. In several places in the same work he speaks of the sun as being identical with Amaterasu oho-mi-kami, and his comments on the passage of the text in which the origination of this goddess and Tsuku-yomi no mikoto from the eyes of Izanagi is related, are "the sun and moon originated from this washing" (i.e., of the god's eyes), and "the sun and moon did not exist before this." He makes the same statement in the Nahobi no Mitama and in the Ten-so To-zhiyau Ben-hen, and although the passage in the Sakitake no Ben, "Amaterasu oho-mi-kami ima mo yo wo Urashi-tamafu ama-tsu-hi no kami ni mashimasu nari" might at first sight appear to imply that the goddess is the deity of the sun, this view is negatived by a sentence which follows on the very next page to the effect that "this great deity actually is the sun in heaven, which even now illuminates the world before our eyes, a [57] fact which is extremely clear from the divine writings." It is true that the expression ni mashimasu used in this place may mean either 'exists in' or 'is,' but the use of sunahachi (actually) favours the latter rendering, which is also supported by the other passages in Moto- [p.51] wori's writings in which we have alluded. The San-dai-kau was written in 1791, ten years before Motowori's death, by his favourite pupil Hatori Kakatsune, certainly with Motowori's knowledge, for at the end of it is a laudatory notice by the master. It is possible therefore that Motowori changed his opinion on this important point towards the end of his life, but was not willing to give more than an indirect sanction to the theory, and this supposition has given rise to the belief that the San-dai-kau, although published under the name of another, was in reality his own work. It is somewhat strange that, seeing that the San-dai-kau forms a supplement to vol. XVII. of the Ko-zhi-ki Den, he should repeat on p. 85 of the following volume the statement that Amaterasu is the sun. Hirata has interwoven into the text of the Tama no Mi-hashira a great part of the Sau-dai-kau, as he acknowledges in his preface, but in the body of his work he frequently quotes Hatori almost verbatim, without any special indication that he is using the words of another. A careful comparison is therefore necessary in order to distinguish between the theories which are the particular property of each writer. The following extract from Hatori's preface exhibits the vein of prejudice which was common to both.

"The accounts given in other countries, whether by Buddhism or Chinese philosophy, of the form of the heavens and earth and the manner in which they came into existence, are all of them inventions of men, who exercised all their ingenuity over the problem, and inferred that such things must actually be the case. As for the Indian account, it is only nonsense fit to deceive women and children, and I do not think it worthy of refutation. The Chinese theories, on the other hand, are based upon profound philosophical speculations, [58] and sound extremely plausible, but what they call the absolute and infinite, the positive and negative essences, the eight diagrams and the five elements are not real existences, but are fictitious names invented by the philosophers and freely applied in every direction. They say that the whole universe was produced by agencies, and that nothing exists which is independent of them. But all these statements are nonsense.

"The principles which animate the universe are beyond the power of analysis, nor can they be fathomed by the human intelligence, and all statements founded upon pretended explanations of them are to be [p.52] rejected. All that man can think out and know is limited by the powers of sight, feeling and calculation, and what goes beyond these powers cannot be known by any amount of thinking.

"How is it then possible for men who were born hundreds and thousands of myriads of years after the origin of the universe, to know how it originated and the successive steps by which it assumed its present form? Our country, owing to the facts that it was begotten by the two gods Izanagi and Izanami, was the birth-place of Amaterasu oho-mi-kami, and is ruled by her Sublime Descendants for ever and ever, as long as the universe shall endure, is infinitely superior to other countries, whose chief and head it is; its people are honest and upright of heart, and are not given to useless theorizing and falsehoods like other nations, and thus it possesses correct and true information with regard to the origin of the universe. This information has descended to us unaltered from the age of the gods, and unmixed, even in the slightest degree, with unsupported notions of individuals. This indeed is the genuine and true tradition. The Chinese accounts sound as if based on profound principles, and one fancies that they must be right, while the Japanese accounts sound shallow and utterly unfounded in reason. But the former are lies, while the latter are the truth, so that as time goes on, and thought attains greater accuracy, the erroneous nature of these falsehoods becomes ever more apparent, while the true tradition remains intact. My [59] reason for this observation is that in modern times men from countries lying far off in the west have voyaged all round the seas as their inclinations prompted them, and have ascertained the actual shape of the earth. They have discovered that the earth is round, and that the sun and moon revolve round it in a vertical direction, and it may thus be conjectured how full of errors are all the ancient Chinese accounts, and how impossible it is to believe anything that professes to be determined a priori. But when we come to compare our ancient traditions, as to the origination of a thing in the midst of space and its subsequent development, with what has been ascertained to be the actual shape of the earth, we find that there is not the slightest error, and this result confirms the truth of our ancient traditions. But although accurate discoveries made by the men of the far west as to the actual shape of [p.53] the earth and its position in space infinitely surpass the theories of the Chinese, still that is only a matter of calculation, and there are many other things actually known to exist which cannot he solved by that means; and still less is it possible ^to solve the question of how the earth, sun and moon came to assume their form. Probably those countries possess theories of their own, but whatever they may be, they can but be guesses after the event, and probably resemble the Indian and Chinese theories."

The plan adopted by both writers is to give a series of diagrams representing the gradual formation of the sun, earth and moon, together with the evidence by which each diagram is supported, followed by a commentary. Hatori quotes from the Ko-zhi-ki and Ni-hon-gi, while Hirata relies for his proofs on the text of the Ko-shi, which he had just completed. A minute examination of this work would probably show that it contains deviations from the ancient authorities, prompted by a desire to harmonize revelation and science. It appears that he had acquired a slight degree of knowledge of astronomy, either from some of his countrymen who were acquainted with the Dutch language, or from translations of Dutch books. He had thus [60] learnt and admitted as a fact, that the earth moves round the sun, and was therefore considerably ahead of Hatori, who preferred to believe what he saw with his eyes, and only cursorily mentions the theory of the earth's movement as a matter of indifference to his views of the cosmogony. Hirata of course assumed the truth of all ancient Japanese traditions, but saw that they were sometimes inconsistent with each other and with actual fact, and he hoped by reconciling these contradictions to prove that Shin-tau contains all the knowledge necessary to man. He is therefore not to be implicitly depended on for a correct view of the ancient belief about the origin of things.

Diagram 1 in both books is a large circle containing three black spots in its upper part. This is intended to represent the existence of Ame-no-mi-naka-nushi, Taka-mi-mnu-bi and Kamu-mi-musu-bi in space, before the sun, earth and moon were formed. The circle means nothing; it is merely introduced to give the reader a definite idea of what is meant by space, but as it is dispensed with in the third and succeeding Diagrams, when the reader is requested to look on the blank part of [p.54] the page as representing space, it seems hardly necessary even here. Hatori quotes the Ko-zhi-ki, which says that these three gods came into existence in Takama no hara in the beginning of heaven and earth (ame truchi), while Hirata quotes his own Ko-shi to the effect that they 'came into being in Heaven's Sky' (Ama-tsu mi sora). At a later period, in publishing his commentary entitled Ko-shi Den, he reverted to the old reading Takama no hara. A great deal of ingenuity has been expended by the expounders of Pure Shin-tau to prove that Takama no hara does not mean 'the plain of high heaven,' as its evident etymology would suggest. Motowori is perhaps not unreasonable in explaining it to mean a region above the sky. Hatori says that "Takama no hara did not exist at this period which was antecedent to all material existence, but the region wherein these three gods originated afterwards became Takama no hara." The theory that this name signifies 'space' is [61] derived from one of the parallel passages in the Ni-hon-gi, where the Chinese characters kiyo-chiywi (emptiness) occur instead of Takama-no hara ni. But this would scarcely be sufficient to prove that the ancient Japanese possessed the highly abstract idea of 'space,' and it is more natural to suppose that they meant the blue sky which they saw over their heads. Hirata has a fanciful theory about Ame-no-mi-naka-nushi and the other two gods inhabiting the Pole star, which is not usually accepted by other teachers of Shin-tau. In the Ko-shi Den, on the authority of a parallel passage in the Ni-hon-gi, he substitutes the word "existed" (nuuhiki) for "originated" (narimaseru), and draws thence the inference that these gods never had a beginning, but the passage from which the word moiu is taken refers not to Ame-no-mi-naka-nushi and the other two gods, but to Umashi-ashi-kabi-hiko-ji and deities of later origin. The difficulty of supposing that Ame could ever have meant the sun, lies in the fact that it certainly signifies the sky or heaven, in which sense it is employed in forming the name of the primeval god, as Hirata himself states. Hirata says that the upper part of heaven is the pole star, which must therefore have been the location of the three gods. Heaven is limited on the outside, as is proved by the statement that Susanowo no mikoto made the circuit of its boundary. Kami, translated by 'god,' is the same as kabi, compounded of the demonstrative root ka and bi, a word applied to whatever is miraculous and supernatural, [p.55] which is seen in musu-hi, termination of the names of the creator and creatrix."31 In the Tama no Mi-hashira he derives kami from habimoye32 'sprouting, growing,' but later he became convinced that this etymology was erroneous. Kamurogi and Kamuromi, which are titles of the creator and creatrix, he derives from the continuative form of the root Kami, to a particle, and gi and mi which are used in forming the names of male and female deities. Motowori has suggested that gi is a contraction of wo-gimi, male [62] prince, and mi of me-gimi, female prince, hut nothing can he safely asserted on this point. With respect to the statement that these three gods 'concealed their bodies,' Motowori's suggestion that it signifies their incorporeality is not to be admitted, for Taka-mi-musu-hi no kami is represented as saying that Sukuna-hikona no kami "passed between his fingers," and if he had a hand, he must have had a body, so that the tradition must he accepted in all its literal meaning.

Diagram 2 in both works represents space bounded by a circle, with three black spots as in diagram 1, and underneath them a smaller circle inscribed 'ichi-nwtm' or Thing. Hatori supports this by the following quotations from the Ni-hou-gi: "In the beginning of heaven and earth, there was a Thing in the great sky, whose shape cannot be described." "Before heaven and earth had originated a thing originated in the midst, like as it were a floating cloud on the sea, without any point of attachment." "In the beginning of heaven and earth, a thing like the sprout of a rush originated in the great sky"; again "a thing like floating fat originated in the great sky." Hirata quotes from his own compilation a similar passage, without any reference to the rush-sprout. Hatori ascribes the origin of this Thing to the creator and creatrix, who gradually formed the sun, earth and moon out of it, and brought various gods into existence at different stages. The first of these creative acts being performed by the two deities named is known from a revelation made by the god of the moon, who in the year 487 entered into the body of a man, and declared to one Abe no Omi Koto-shiro that "his ancestor Takami-musu-bi no kami created heaven and [p.56] earth. People and lands must consequently be presented to him." And in the same year the son goddess made a similar revelation to the same Abe no Omi, in which she declared that Takami-musn-bi no kami was her progenitor. The comparison of the Thing to floating fat and floating cloud simply refers to its indefinite position, and involves no statement as to [68] its composition, which was probably a mixture of the natures of the sun, earth and moon.

In diagram 8 the Thing is presented in the form of a dumb-bell, with the smaller end upper-most. In Hatori's diagram there is a small projection depending from the bottom of the Thing, probably intended to indicate the budding-out of the moon. The ancient books quoted here say that 'from the thing which floated in space something sprouted up like the shoot of a rush, in which there originated two gods named Umashi-ashi-kabi-hiko-ji no kami and Ame-no-toko-tachi no kami, both of whom, like the previous three, were single gods, and hid their bodies.'

From the name of the second god who is here mentioned it is inferred that thing which sprouted up afterwards became Ame, or the sun, according to Hatori and Hirata, and according to Motowori, heaven. This is nowhere explicitly stated, either in the Ko-zhi-ki or in the Ni-hon-gi, but is inferred from the name of the second god, toko being the same as toko, bottom, and tachi, to stand. Hatori supposes the nature of ame to have been of the essence of fire, but Hirata repudiates this as a Chinese notion, and conjectures that it was clear and bright, like crystal. The name of the first god is derived from umashi, pleasant, ashi-kabi, rush-sprout, hilo, an honorific term applied to males, and ji, another honorific, seen in the word woji, old man. He is identified by Hirata with Suku-na-bikona, a diminutive god who afterwards aided Ohokuni-nushi to civilize the country. The five deities who have now been named are entitled the Amatsu-kami, or 'Celestial gods.'

Diagram 4 in the Tamano Mi-hashira represents three globes of gradually diminishing sizes, connected by short necks, the largest being uppermost, and labelled Ante. The five celestial gods are represented therein by the same number of black spots. How the three earliest of them found their way into this particular portion of space is not explained, and their being here somewhat favours the original explanation that Ame [p.57] is heaven. It was [64] probably in order to get out of this difficulty that Hirata suggested in the Ko-shi Den, that they are located in the pole-star. The central globe, which is of medium size, is marked 'earth,' and contains five small circles arranged in pairs. Underneath is the third globe, marked Yomi, and containing two black spots to represent a pair of invisible deities; Yomi is shaded with black, to express the fact that it is in darkness, owing to the interception of the sun's light by the earth. In the Sau-dai-kau the diagram is similar, but the globes are not perfectly round, and the two black spots placed by Hirata in Yomi, are placed above the five pairs of circles in the earth.

Hatori acknowledges that neither the Ko-zhi-ki nor the Ni-hon-gi contain any tradition as to the formation of Yomi, but that probably something grew downwards from the underside of the Thing, which developed into Yomi, just as from its upper surface something had sprouted up which became Ame.

Hirata, however, finding in one of the parallel passages quoted in the Ni-hon-gi, the sentence "Next there was a Thing like floating fat, which came into existence in the sky, from which a god originated named Kuni-no-toko-tachi no kami," converts this into "Next, [from the root of the Thing which was drifting about like a floating cloud], a Thing came into existence. The name of the god who originated from this thing was Kuni-no-soko-tachi no kami." It may be observed that the original text does not connect the second Thing with the first, from which the Ame is supposed to have been formed, and in the Ko-shi Sei-bun he afterwards omitted the sentence enclosed between brackets. To this he added part of a passage from the Ko-zhi-ki, which speaks of Toyo-kumu-nu no kami. These two gods were single gods, and were invisible, for which reason they are represented in the diagram by black spots. They were succeeded by five pairs of deities, Uhi-jini and Suhi-jini, Tsunu-guhi and Iku-guhi, Oho-to-no-ji and Oho-to-no-be, Omo-daru and Aya-kashiko-ne, Izanagi and Izanami. The word imo, which means either sister or wife, is [65] prefixed to the name of the second of each of these pairs, and each pair counts as one generation, making, with the two single gods previously named, the seven Generations of the Divine period (kami-yo nana-yo). The title kami is given to each, but I have omitted it to [p.58] save space, as I shall continue to do henceforth in the case of all other gods. Uhiji signifies 'first mud,' Suhi-jini 'sand and mud.' The names of the next pair are said to he derived from tsumu, a germ in which the hands and feet, head and tail are yet undistinguishable, guhi, the same as kamu, to integrate, and iku, which signifies the commencement of life, and is the same as ikiru, to breathe. The names of the next pair are interpreted to mean 'man and woman of the great place,' pointing to the fact that solid land was formed. Omo-daj-u is 'complete perfection,' and Aya-kashiko-ne is 'awful one,' aya being an ejaculation of awe (from which come ayashi, strange, and ayaushi, perilous), and kashiko, an adjectival root meaning awful. The name of the female is said to express the sentiment which filled her when she looked at the male. Iza in the names of the last part is supposed to be the radical of izanafu, to invite, and to allude to their invitation to each other to join in begetting the earth; yi and mi are the same as in Kamurogi and Kamuromi, the titles already mentioned as being given to the creator and creatrix. It appears from these etymologies that a gradual progress in development is here indicated, and Hirata suggests that the first four pairs are not distinct deities, but merely names descriptive of the various stages through which Izanagi and Izanami passed before arriving at the perfection of existence. As it seems certain that they were never worshipped in any known period of history, this theory is accepted by many modern writers on Shin-tau.

The globe called Yomi is identified by both Hatori and Hirata with Yomo-tsu-kuni or Yomi no kuni, the region whither Izanami betakes herself after the birth of Homusubi, the god of fire. Other names for it are Ne no [66] kuni, literally the 'root-region,' because of its being at the root of the earth, Soko no kuni, or the 'bottom region,' Shita-tsu-kuni, or the 'under region,' and Ne-no-katasu-kuni from katasumi, one corner, used in the sense of lowermost or most distant. Yomi is explained to mean darkness. The reasons for identifying Yomi no kuni with the moon are several. In the first place the element Yomi in the name Tsuku-yomi no mikoto is evidently the same as Yomi, 'the kingdom of darkness,' whither Susanowo no mikoto finally proceeded. Secondly, although in the Ko-zhi-ki the rule of the sea is given to the latter god, one of the parallel passages of the Ni-hon- [p.59] gi speaks of Tsnku-yomi no mikoto as being appointed ruler over the multitudinous salt-waters. The murder of the goddess of food is attributed to the former by the Ko-zhi-ki, to the latter by the Ni-hon-gi.33 The fact that the tides of the sea actually follow the moon's movements is another reason for assuming these two gods to have been one. As 'the whole region pervaded by the light of the sun was called hiru, or day, the expression yoru no wosu kuni, 'the realm of night,' over which the Ko-zhi-ki says Tsuku-yomi was appointed to rule, would be extremely appropriate to tomi, from which the sun's light would be intercepted by the earth.34 Hirata farther points out that the notion of yomi being the abode of the dead is comparatively modern, and that the few gods who are spoken of in the ancient records as having gone thither, were still in the body when they did so.

Diagram 5 exhibits a marked difference between the two writers in their theories as to the subsequent development of the system of the three bodies. In Hatori's diagrams the sun continues to be attached to the earth until after the descent of Ninigi no mikoto, while Hirata places the separation at some time antecedent to the descent of Izanagi and Izanami. This divergence is owing to the different explanations given by them of the ama no uki-hashi (literally, heaven's floating bridge) which Hatori represents [67] as an axis connecting the sun with the earth, which is ever growing longer and consequently thinner, while Hirata interprets it to mean some kind of huge boat, in which the gods went backwards and forwards between the two bodies.35 He argues that the phrase "this floating region" used of the earth by the celestial gods in commanding Izanagi and Izanami to form and harden it, can only be interpreted on this theory, for if the separation had not taken place the term "floating" could not have been applied to the earth alone. He consequently represents the sun detached, and to the right of the earth above it. The spear (nuhoko) which was given to this pair for the purpose of forming the earth is supposed by him to have been of iron in the form of the lingam, and nu, which is interpreted to signify tama, [p.60] a ball, has a profound signification if this view be adopted.36 The passage quoted here by Hirata from the Ko-shi says that "The two gods, setting forth on the ama-no-uki-hashi, pushed down the spear and stirred the plain of the green sea37 When they drew it up after stirring it round and round, the drops which fell from its end, spontaneously consolidated and became an island. This was Ono-goro-zhima.38 This name was given to it on account of its 'spontaneous consolidation,' and to distinguish it from the other islands of Japan, which were begotten by Izanagi and Izanami in the ordinary manner. They descended on to this island, and planting the nuboko in the ground point downwards, built a palace round it, taking it for the central pillar which was to support their roof. The point of the spear became the axis of the earth. Ono-goro-zhima is identified by the author of the Zhi-dai Ku-ketu with a small island at the north-west corner of Ahaji in the eastern part of the inland sea, called Ye-shima.39 Close by is another island called Seki-rei-shima (Wagtail island), and [68] there are many other traces of the ancient tradition in the neighbourhood. The motion imparted to the fluid mass of the earth by the stirring with the nuboko was the origin of its daily revolutions." Ono-goro-zhima was thus originally at the north pole, but subsequently removed to its present position. In what manner this happened we are not told. Nevertheless, Japan continues to be on the summit of the terrestrial globe. It appears that some one having objected that, if Japan were on the top of the world and opposite to the sun, the sun would be in the zenith at the equinoxes, Hatori was puzzled and referred the point to Motowori, who replied that as the sun and moon move round from East to West, and not from North to South, it is evident that the globe, in spite of its being round, may be said to have sides, that is, top, bottom, right, left, back and front. Just as the [p.61] face of a man is not on the top of his head, but on the front, so Japan, being in the middle of the top has the sun and moon on its south, which is therefore the front; the north is consequently behind, the east is the left side and the west the right side. From which it is perfectly clear that Japan is on the summit of the terrestrial globe. The objector replied that all countries which have the sun on their south would have an equal right to claim the same position. The answer to this is that the position of Japan is not determined by the fact of the sun and moon being in front of her, but the manner in which they appear to her is owing to her position at the top of the earth. Hirata strengthens the argument by pointing out that Japan altogether escaped the deluge which took place in China in the reign of Yaou, and also the Noachian flood which drowned occidental countries, solely through her elevated situation. China suffered less than the west, and Korea less again, on account of their proximity to Japan.

The only mention made of the stars in the ancient [69] writings is in the Ni-hon-gi, where the star-god Kagase-wo-no-mimi40 is spoken of as being at first unwilling to submit to the fore-runners of Ninigi no mikoto, but nothing is said of the manner in which the stars came into existence. According to a theory proposed by one Satou Nobu-fuchi, which is quoted by Hirata with approval, when the two gods lowered the spear and stirred round the chaotic mass out of which the earth was to be formed, the muck which was unfit to enter into the composition of the earth was removed by the action of the spear-point, and scattered lump-wise in all directions throughout space, taking up positions more or less remote. The five planets, the twenty-eight constellations and the host of common stars being thus formed, revolve round the sun together with the earth.41 Hirata has another view of his own, which is, that as the Thing which formed in space and afterwards developed into the sun and the earth, is said to have resembled a hen's egg in shape, when the Thing separated, its shell must have burst, and the fragments flying off on all sides would begin to revolve round the sun, attracted by the powerful rotatory motion of that body." It is custom- [p.62] ary to suppose that the stars have no practical purpose; but it is evident that they are intended to guide the course of those barbarian mariners, who, if they knew their duty, would bring ships laden with tribute to the Emperor of Japan.

Diagram 6 in the Zama no, Mi-hashira represents the son as in the last, with the five black spots which stand for Celestial gods, and the earth is now marked off into Japan, foreign countries variously situated below it, and the sea. The passage from the Ko-shi on which this diagram is based narrates what may be euphemistically termed the courtship of Izanagi and Izanami,42 which resulted in a [70] child of so poor a consistency, that he was unable to stand on his legs when he had reached the age of three years. They put him into a boat woven of rushes, which were the only available materials then existing, and abandoned him to his fate on the wide ocean. Another child which they begot, named Aha no shima, was also a failure, and they were driven to ask the advice of the Celestial Gods. The Celestial Gods had recourse to divination, which is explained to be a means of obtaining knowledge or information from divine beings without their being aware of it. It seems strange that the three gods who hold the highest rank among their race should not have been able to give a direct answer without applying to some one else, but Hirata explains this apparent anomaly [p.63] by the analogy of a prince who charges each of his servants with some branch of affairs, and in answer to a request for information on any point refers the inquirer to the servant who knows all about it. The answer to Izanagi and his consort was that they should try over again, and as they carefully avoided the error which they had committed on the previous occasion, they were very successful. The first of the series of children which they now begot was Oho-yamato Akitsushima, the main island of Japan, and it was born with a caul, which is the present island of Ahaji. Both of the names Yamato and Akitsu-shima originally belonged to the present province of Yamato, the former dating from a late period of the so-called Divine Age, the latter from the reign of Zhinmu Ten-wau.43 They were afterwards extended to the whole [71] of the main island, but are no longer so employed. Next were born the islands of Iyo,44 which had one body and four faces, Tsukushi,45 with one body and five faces, Iki, Tsushima, the triplets of Oki, and Sado. According to a variation of the legend Oki and Sado were twins. Ahaji is added to the others to make up the number of eight, whence the name of Oho-ya-shima-hmi, the Country of Eight Islands, applied to the whole empire of Japan. No mention is made of what are now called Kara-futo, or Saghalien and Yezo, which were probably discovered at a much later date than the 8th century, when the Ko-zhi-ki and Ni-hon-gi were committed to writing. The legend also speaks of the birth of other islands, one of which was Eibi no Ko-zhima, now divided into Bi-zeil, Bin-go, Bi-chiyuu and Mimasaka, Adzuki-shima in the inland sea, now called Seudzu-shima, Hime-shima off Hi-zen, Chika-shima, supposed to be the Go-tau islands, and the Futago-shima, which cannot be identified. The remaining small islands were formed by condensation of the foam of the sea. After the country had been thus produced, the two gods begot all the gods (ya-ho yorodzu no kami) and [p.64] bestowed on them all things; and next, seeing that the land was covered with mist, Izanagi produced the two gods of wind, male and female, from his breath.

Hatori has a long note showing that the islands of Japan were begotten in exactly the same manner as human beings and everything else that has life, whether animal or vegetable, and being quite small at their birth, gradually increased in size by the accretion of matter. The result of the birth of Japan was that the sea and land were gradually parted, and the way thus prepared for the formation of foreign countries by the spontaneous condensation of the foam of the sea. Hirata finds this truth concealed in the statement about "the remaining [72] small islands," a not unique example of interpreting ancient records so as to fit in with the progress of modern discovery.

The god of fire was the last child in whose conception the two gods shared. He is called Ho-musubi and also Kagutsuchi, and Hirata thinks he ought to be identified with the element itself. The goddess suffered great pain in bringing him into the world, and from the matter which she vomited forth in her agony originated the god and goddess of metal (Kane), Hirata derives the word kana-yama (a metalliferous mine), which forms part of the names of these two deities, from a contraction of kare-nayamashi, to cause to wither and feel pain. In consequence of Izanagi breaking her injunction not to look upon her face during the period of her retirement, Izanami departed towards the nether region, but bethinking herself that the god of fire, if left uncontrolled in his actions, would bring ruin on the upper world, she returned for a short time and produced from her faces the gods of clay and from her water the god of fresh water, whom she commissioned to pacify the god of fire whenever he was inclined to be turbulent. Clay and fresh water were produced at the same moment as the gods which rule them. From the statement that Izanami forbade the god to look at her during seven days and nights, Hirata argues that day and night already existed, which supports his view that the sun was already separated from the earth. As the earth revolved, it was day when it was opposite to the sun, and night when it was turned away from the sun. He neglects, however, to explain how the earth, to the bottom of which the moon was still attached, could do this, and the expression 'opposite to the sun' is extremely obscure. It [p.65] is at least evident that according to this theory of Japan being on the top of the earth, the 'kingdom of darkness' must have been illuminated whenever Japan was in the dark.

After the departure of his companion, Izanagi took vengeance for her loss upon Kagatsnchi, whom he clove into three pieces with his sword. From these pieces [78] originated the god of thunder (Ikadzuchi), of mountains (Oho-yamatsumi), and of rain (Takawo-kami). The blood which fell from the edge of his weapon flew up to the sun, and was converted into unnumbered rocks in the dry bed of the Ama-no-yasu-no-gaha, and the blood which fell from the guard and point, as well as that which remained on his hand, spirted on to the rocks thus formed. Blood and fire being the same thing, the sun thus became a receptacle of heat.

The next event was the visit of Izanagi to Yomi, with the object of finding Izauami and inducing her to return to the upper world. No precise information exists with reference to the road by which he travelled, but it is supposed to have been a hole through the centre of the earth, the outlet of which is at Ifuya-zaka (pronounced Yuya-zaka) in Idzumo. "When Izanami no mikoto came forth from her palace door to meet him, he addressed her, saying, 'My dear sister, come back again, for the country which you and I made is not yet finished.' She replied, 'Lamentable indeed that you came not earlier. I have eaten of the cooking of Yomi, Nevertheless, as my brother has graciously come hither, I would desire to return. To-morrow I will discuss it fully with the god of Yomi, Do not look for me, my brother.' Saying this she returned within the palace. A long time elapsed, and he felt impatient; so breaking off the end-tooth of the many-toothed comb which he wore in the left bunch of his hair, and lighting it, he entered in to look. He found her over-run with maggots and in a state of semi-putrefaction." The legend goes on to relate Izanagi's struggle to escape, during which he created various gods, one of whom, called Kunado no kami, was produced from his staff. Another was Chi-gaheshi no kami, the rock with which he closed up the road. Izanami's reason for not returning was that she had eaten food cooked with unclean fire, and was defiled thereby. The god of fire hates impurity, and she was afraid of his wrath. It is well-known that it is impossible to succeed with a casting if the metal has been melted with fire which is not perfectly pure. [74]


As soon as Izanagi returned to earth he hastened to wash himself in the sea, at a locality which cannot be precisely determined, but it appears to have been in either Hinga or Chiku-zen. The legend says: "The names of the gods whom he produced by blowing when he plunged into the middle shoal and washed, were Yoso-Mnga-tsu-hi no kami and Oho-Muga-tsu-hi no kami. These two gods originated from the pollution which affected him when he went to that region of perpetual foulness." The names of the gods whom he produced by blowing in order to correct the evil [to be done by the two last] were Kamu-Nabobi no kami and Oho-Naho-bi no kami. "The name of the god who originated subsequently when he washed his left eye was Ama-terasu oho-mi-kami, also called Ama-terasu-oho-hiru-me no mikoto, and the name of the god who originated when he washed his right eye was Tsuku-yomi no mikoto, also called Take-haya-Susa-no-wo no mikoto. Then Izanagi no kami rejoiced greatly, and said, "I have begotten Child upon Child, and at the end of my begetting, I have begotten me two rare Children." Now the brightness of the Person of Ama-terasu oho-mi-kami was beautiful, and shone through heaven and earth. Izanagi no kami spake, and said, "Though my children are many, none of them is like this miraculous Child. She is not to be kept in this region." Then taking the necklace of precious stones from his neck, and rattling it, he gave it to Ama-terasu oho-mi-kami, and spake, commanding her in these words, "Rule thou over Takama no hara." As the distance between the sun and earth was not great at this period, he sent her up by the Ame-no-mi-hashira, "Next he spake unto Take-haya-susa-no-wo no mikoto, and commanded him, saying, "Rule thou over Awo-una-bara, and the multitudinous salt water."

The statement that Take-haya-Susa-no-wo is another name of Tsuku-yomi is not to be found in any of the ancient texts, and is an emendation of Hirata's founded upon the grounds already noticed for supposing the two gods to be in reality one. The Ame no mi-hashira was [75] supposed by Mabuchi to be one of the gods of wind, but Hirata explains it to be one of the hashi-date of which mention has already been made. In the Ko-shi Den he makes Yaso-maga-tsu-hi and Kamu-naho-bi to be simply alternative names of Oho-maga-tsu-hi and Oho-naho-bi. The birth of the first was intended as a mark that Izanagi had purified his [p.67] body from the pollution which he had brought back with him from Yomi, and he sprang from Izanagi's strong resolve to get rid of those pollutions. Hence this god utterly detests defilement of whatever kind, and becomes violent in his conduct whenever any unclean thing is done. His name is derived from the calamities (maga) which he causes. Motowori's view that this god was actually produced from the filth of Yomi, and is therefore an evil god, is wrong. Apart from the wrath which he manifests on certain occasions, he is disposed to do good, as is evidenced by his having planted the whole of Japan with trees, the seeds of which be brought down from heaven. Naho-bi no kami was similarly produced by the earnest desire of Izanagi to remedy the evils which might be produced by the zeal of Maga-tsu-hi no kami. Both gods and human beings have in them the spirit of these two gods, wherefore they are angry with whatever is foul and wicked, and are tempted to act violently. It is Naho-bi no kami's spirit which moderates their wrath and disposes them to mercy. Hirata endeavours to prove that aico-una-bara means the whole earth, and that the phrase "multitudinous salt-water" is only added for the sake of emphasis. He derives umi (of which una is only another form) from umu, to beget, to bear, and interprets una-bara to mean the 'just born plain.' Auu is green, applied either in the sense of young, or because the earth seemed to be of a green colour when viewed by the celestial gods from above. It will be remembered that Izanagi and Izanami dipped the spear into axco-una-bara, and separated the dry land from the sea, so that if Hirata's etymology were correct, the name would be no longer applicable when Tsuku-yomi was invested with his kingdom. The safest opinion is that [76] aico-una-bara means simply the 'blue waste of sea,' and that the ancient inhabitants of Japan, amongst whom these different legends sprang up, never thought of trying to make them consistent with each other. Hirata's theory seems to have been invented to prove that Susa-no-wo was first made ruler over the earth, but preferred to go to his mother in the moon, thus leaving the earth vacant for Ninigi no mikoto, who, being in a certain sense the joint offspring of Susa-no-wo and the sun-goddess, united in his person all the rights of Izanagi and Izanami. The rest of the Tama no Mi-hashira is occupied by the legends relating to Oho-kuni-nushi's first occupation of Japan and the descent of Ninigi no mikoto which have already been [p.68] briefly summarized in a former part of this paper. The separation of the moon from the earth, which is figured by him in his tenth and last diagram, is supposed to have taken place after the visit of Oho-knni-nushi to the lower world. Hatori agrees with him on this point, but supposes Oho-kani-nushi to have gone to the moon after his surrender of the Empire to Ninigi no mikoto, whereas Hirata maintains that he rules over the Hidden World, which is on the earth.

In the year 1818 Hirata wrote the Nifu-gaku Mon-dafu, a short work on the elements of the ancient way, intended for beginners. It is an excellent introduction to his other works on Shin-tau, and may be recommended to those who do not care to gain more than a general view of his opinions. At the end of the volume is an useful bibliographical list of all his acknowledged works, compiled by some of his disciples. Two years later he completed the Ama-tm Nonto Kau, a commentary on a norito which is not contained in the Yen-gi Shiki, but which, if genuine, supplies a lacuna in the Oho-harahi no kotoba, and serves to clear up a point therein which had considerably puzzled all preceding commentators. During this period he was busily working at the Ko-Shi Den, which he did not live to complete. Besides this, he completed a new edition of Hatori's San-dai-kan, an account of a curious stone found by him in Kadzusa, which he christened Ama-no-Iha-buye, [77] and the Ko-shi-chiyau Kai-dai-ki; began a new edition of the Zhin-mei Shiki, or list of Shin-tau temples and gods given in the Yen-gi Shiki, drafted the Morokoshi Tai-ko Den, a work on the ancient traditions of China, of which only the text and about one-fourth of the commentary have yet appeared, began the Judo Zau-shi, which is said to have been intended for a complete treatise on Buddhism, and printed a short life of Sugahara Michizaue under the title of Ten-wan-gu Oo'den-ki. In the year 1819 he completed the draft of his work on the Zhin-dai no Mozhi, or so-called native Japanese alphabet of the pre-historic age. This consists of two volumes entitled Zhin-zhi Hi-fumi Den, and one entitled Oi-zhi Hen. The first contain some thirteen or fourteen tables of square and cursive characters; the latter is a collection of a number of specimens of widely different appearance, all of which are asserted to be native Japanese characters, but concerning whose genuineness Huata does not venture to pronounce an opinion. [p.69] The first thing that will strike any one who examines the square characters given in volume I. is their unmistakable identity with the Korean alphabet, the sole difference being that the Korean letters are combined so as to form the forty-seven syllables used in spelling Japanese words. The cursive forms, however, bear scarcely the remotest resemblance to the square, and it is difficult to suppose that they have a common origin. Having devoted several pages of Volume I. of the Kai-dai-ki to the discussion of the evidence for the existence of an indigenous method of writing in pre-historic times, and having decided the question in the affirmative, Hirata does not think it worth while to entertain the suspicion that these so-called Zhin-dai no Mo-zhi have been copied from the Korean alphabet, but on the contrary maintains that the Koreans made their alphabet out of the Zhin-dai no Mo-zhi, and arbitrarily invented a number of additional signs to meet their own wants. He supposes that the Zhin-dai no Utozhi must have been carried to Korea after its conquest by Zhin-gou-kuwau-gou (200 A.D.), and have been preserved there in some [78] mysterious manner, until in the beginning of the 15th century they were utilized to form an alphabet, for which the Sanskrit alphabet was taken as a model. From a Korean work written in the Chinese language, quoted by Itou Nagatane in the San-kan Ki-riaku, the Korean alphabet appears to have been invented by a King of Korea who began to reign 1419. But if a Japanese alphabet ever existed, it had been entirely forgotten by the Japanese centuries before this date, and it is difficult to suppose that it should have been preserved by the Koreans in such a manner that they were still able, after so long an interval, to assign what Hirata acknowledges to be very nearly the correct pronunciation to each letter. An alternative supposition of course, is that those of the so-called Zhin-dai no Mozhi, which are identical with combinations of the Korean letters, were copied from that alphabet in comparatively modern times, and if we could obtain a sight of the original manuscripts said to be preserved at various Shin-tau temples in Japan, of which Hirata himself only had seen copies, it is probable that such conclusions might be drawn as to the age of the material on which trey are written, as would serve to determine their value as authentic documents. Apart from these considerations it would hardly seem probable, arguing a priori, [p.70] that the Zhin-dai no Mo-zhi, which must have been alphabetic, should only be preserved in a syllabic form, as is the case with the specimens we speak of, or that the Japanese, if they had ever possessed such a treasure as an alphabet capable of expressing all the sounds of their language, should have abandoned it for the cumbrous method of ideographic writing which they afterwards learnt from the Chinese. The question is of some importance; for if it were decided in favour of Hirata's views, we should be compelled to allow a greater degree of credibility to the earlier historical records of Japan than there seems at present reason to attribute to them.

Hitherto the teaching of Hirata had not appeared to differ much in principle from that of his predecessors, whose object was to preserve from oblivion the ancient [79] monuments of Japanese literature and history, and to disprove the accusation that before the introduction of Chinese philosophy the Japanese were a nation of savages without any rule of conduct. But we shall see that the real goal to which his efforts were directed was the establishment of a religion on a Shin-tau basis, before which both Buddhism and Confucianism should disappear. It is this endeavour which has caused him to be regarded in a certain sense as the founder of a new school, although on a close examination of his system it would no doubt be found that he was actually indebted to the Chinese philosophy for the moral code which he attempted to derive from Shin-tau, and that the latter possesses only those characteristics of a religion which belong to theological dogma.

The Tama-dasuki has already been mentioned as one of the works which Hirata wrote in the year 1811. It appears to have been originally composed in a very colloquial style; but in 1824 he completely rewrote the first nine volumes, and gave to them a shape more worthy of the subject. It is a commentary on certain prayers which he had drawn up for the use of his pupils, and contains, half buried in a mass of irrelevant matter, his views of Shin-tau as a religion, and the biographies of Kada, Mabuchi and Motowori, which have been utilized in the foregoing part of this paper. The first five volumes were printed in 1829, the next four some time after his death, and the tenth, which contains his teaching as to the worship of ancestors and his life by his adopted son Kanetane, was published in 1874.


As Hirata observes, the celebration of rites in honour of the gods was considered in ancient times to be the chief function of the Mikados. When Ninigi no mikoto descended from heaven, his divine progenitors taught him how he was to rule the country, and their teaching consisted in this: 'Everything in the world depends on the spirit of the gods of heaven and earth, and therefore the worship of the gods is a matter of primary importance. The gods who do harm are to be appeased, so that they may not punish those who have offended them, [80] and all the gods are to be worshipped, so that they may be induced to increase their favours. To compel obedience from human beings and to love them, was all the sovereign had to do, and there was no necessity for teaching them vain doctrines such as are preached in other countries. Hence the art of Government is called Matsun-goto, which literally means "worshipping." Accordingly the early sovereigns worshipped the gods in person, and prayed that their people might enjoy a sufficiency of food, clothing and shelter from the elements, and twice a year, in the 6th and 12th months, they celebrated the festival of the General Purification,46 by which the whole nation was purged of calamities, offences and pollutions.

'Although in later ages many foreign customs were adopted, we find that the religious rites of Shin-tau always occupied the first place in the books wherein are recorded the rules and ceremonies of the court. For instance, the first book of the ten which are called Riyau no Gi-ge,47 is occupied with the rules of the Department of Religion (Zhin-gi Riyau), Of the fifty volumes of the Yen-gi Shiki48 the first ten are devoted to Sbin-tau matters. The norito (liturgies) contained in the 8th volume are not the private prayers of the Mikado, but are those used at the festivals which he celebrated on behalf of the whole people. The 9th and [p.72] 10th volumes contain the names of 8182 gods in 2861 temples at which the Court worshipped (either personally or by special envoys). In the Shiyoku-gen-seu (1481) of Takabatake Chikafusa the constitution of the Department of Religion is described even before that of the Council of State. In the reign of Kau-toku (645-664), in answer to an inquiry as to how the people were to be ruled, all the ministers of the [81] Mikado replied to him, "First serve the gods, and afterwards deliberate on matters of Government." But the successors of this Mikado neglected the worship of the gods for that of Buddha, and the consequence was the decline of their authority. An effort to reform the practice of the Court was made by the emperor Zhiyuu-toku (b. 1197, d. 1242), who in his Kin-pi Mi-seu says: "The rule of the Forbidden Precinct is that the worship of the gods come first, and other matters afterwards. At morning and evening the wise resolve to do honour to the gods is carried out with diligence. Even in the slightest matters the Zhih-gun,49 (of Ise) and the Nai-shi'dokow are not to be placed after the emperor. According as the things arrive at maturity, they shall be offered up first (to the gods); but things presented by Buddhist monks and nuns, and from all persons who are under an interdict, these shall not be presented." As it is the duty of subjects to imitate the practice of the incarnate god (ara-hito-gam) who is their sovereign, the necessity of worshipping his ancestors and the gods from whom they spring is to be enjoined upon all every man.

As the number of the gods who possess different functions is so great, it will be convenient to worship by name only the most important, and to include the rest in a general petition. Those whose daily affairs are so multitudinous that they have not time to go through the whole of the following morning prayers, may content themselves with adoring the [p.73] residence of the Emperor,50 the domestic kami-dana, the spirits of their ancestors, [82] their local patron god, and the deity of their particular calling in life.

'In praying to the gods the blessings which each has it in his power to bestow are to be mentioned in a few words, and they are not to be annoyed with greedy petitions; for the Mikado in his palace offers up petitions daily on behalf of his people, which are far more effectual than those of his subjects.

'Rising early in the morning, wash your face and hands, rinse out the mouth and cleanse the body. Then turn towards the province of Yamato, strike the palms of the hands together twice, and worship,51 bowing the head to the ground. The proper posture is that of kneeling on the heels, which is ordinarily assumed in saluting a superior.'


"From a distance I reverently worship with awe before Ame no Mi-hashira and Kuni no Mi-hashira, also called Shinntsu-hiko no kami and Shiuatsu hime no kami, to whom is consecrated the Palace built with stout pillars at Tatsuta no Tachinu in the department of Heguri in the province of Yamato.

"I say with awe, deign to bless me by correcting the unwitting faults which, seen and heard by you, I have committed, by blowing off and dealing away the calamities which evil gods might inflict, by causing me to live long like the hard and lasting rock, and by repeating to the gods of heavenly origin and to the gods of earthly origin the petitions which I present every day, along with your breath, that they may hear with the sharp-earedness of the forth-galloping colt."


The two deities who are here addressed are the god and goddess of wind. Their first names mean Pillar of Heaven and Pillar of Earth, and are given because the wind pervades the space between Heaven and Earth, and supports the former as a pillar supports the roof of a [88] house. Shina in the alternate names means 'long breath.'52 Evil acts and words are of two kinds, those of which we are ourselves conscious, and those of which we are not conscious. Every one is certain to commit accidental offences, however careful he may be, and hence the practice of our ancient tongue was to say "deign to correct those failings of which I may have been guilty." But it is better to assume that we have committed such unconscious offences. If we pray that such as we have committed may be collected, the gods are willing to pardon them. By "evil gods" are meant bad deities and demons who work harm to society and to individuals. They originated from the impurities contracted by Izanagi during his visit to the nether world, and cast off by him during the process of purification. They subsequently increased in number, especially after the introduction of Buddhism. The two deities of wind can of course blow away anything it pleases them to get rid of, and among other things the calamities which evil gods endeavour to inflict. As man is dependent on them for the breath which enables him to live, it is right to pray to them to give long life. This is also the reason why they are besought to carry our prayers to the gods of heavenly origin and to the gods of earthly origin. As an illustration of the efficacy of prayer, Hirata gives a long account of a boy who was carried off in the year 1806 by goblins, and afterwards restored to his father, who had earnestly besought the intercession of Shinatsu-hiko and Shinatsu-hime with the other gods.

The next prayer is addressed to Amaterasu and the other gods who dwell in the sun, and consists simply in calling on them by name. The common belief of the lower classes appears to be that the sun is actually a god, and they may often be seen to worship on rising in the morning, by turning towards it, placing their hands together, and reciting prayers. The third [84] prayer is addressed to Izanami and the [p.75] other gods who dwell in the moon. Hirata says that although the Man-yefu'shi contains verses about the moon, it was generally considered unlucky to admire it, the reason of which is explained by a verse in the Ise Monogatari to be that "man grows old by accumulating moons"; but on the 15th day of the 8th month it is customary to make offerings to the moon, because of her great brilliancy at that season of the year. This however may be a practice derived from the Chinese.

The fourth prayer is addressed to the gods of Ise, namely Amaterasu and Toyo-nke-bime no kami, with "a certain number of subordinate deities in adjacent shrines.53 Toyo-uke-bime was the daughter of Waka-musubi, who was the joint offspring of the god of Fire and the goddess of Soil. She has at least eight other names, all of which express the fact of her being the goddess of food, both vegetable, fish and flesh. Here we meet with a curious Shin-tau doctrine, according to which a divine being throws off portions of itself by a process of fissure, thus producing what are called waki-mi-tama, Parted-Spirits, with separate functions. Two of the parted spirits of Toyo-uko-bimo thus formed are Kukunochi no kami, the producer of all trees, and Kayanu-hime no kami, the parent of all grasses. As rice and other seeds, cattle and the silkworm were produced from the dead body of Toyo-uke-bime, it is to this goddess and to the action of her 'Parted Spirits' above mentioned that mankind owes the blessings of food, clothing and lodgment. It was an ancient custom therefore to worship this goddess on moving into a new house, built of the wood and thatched with the grass of which she was the first cause. In one of the norito entitled Okotono hogahi, a service of this kind performed twice annually at the Mikado's court, this goddess is besought to protect his Palace from harm.

She is also worshipped under the name of Uka-no-mi-tama [85] no Mikoto, along with two other gods, at the great temple Inari between Kiyauto and Fushimi. Temples consecrated to "Inari sama" are common all over Japan, and it is usually supposed that Inari is the name of a god; the mistake arises from the common Japanese practice of calling persons, and gods also, by the name of the place where they [p.76] reside. Another erroneous belief is that Inari sama is a fox, and many temples originally dedicated to foxes are consequently mis-called temples of Inari. One origin assigned for the error is the use of a Chinese character which means 'fox' in writing down phonetically Miketsn kami, which is an alternative name of Toyo-uke-bime. The truth is that the fox is the messenger of this goddess, and images of the animal are placed in front of her temples, which may have aided in confirming the error.

The worshipper is next directed to turn in the direction of the province of Hitachi, and bowing down as before, to repeat the following prayer:—

"From a distance I reverently worship with awe before Take-mika-dzuchi no kami, Futsu-nushi no kami and Fauado no kami, to whom are consecrated the Palace of Kngashima54 in the department of Kagushima in the province of Hilachi, the palace of Kadori in the department of Kadori in the province of Shimo-tau-fasa, and the temple of Ikisu in the province of Hitachi, which are reverently styled the three temples of Adznma."

Take-mika-dzuchi and Futsu-nushi have already been mentioned as the two gods who descended from heaven to conquer the country for Niuigi no mikoto, and Funado no kami acted as their guide. After persuading Oho-kuui-nushi to surrender the sovereignty of Japan, they slew or expelled all the evil gods 'who glittered like fire-flies or were disorderly as May-flies, banished to foreign countries all the demons who made rocks, stumps of trees, leaves of plants and the foam of the green waters to speak, and then ascended to heaven from the [86] province of Hitachi on a white cloud. The evil gods originated from the pollution contracted by Izanagi during his visit to the nether world, and having greatly increased in numbers, began to behave in a disorderly manner when Snsanowo no mikoto showed them a bad example. Take-mika-dzuchi and Fustu-unshi drove them into Hitachi, whence they expelled them from Japanese soil. The two gods left their Parted-Spirits here, in the temples which were built in their honour.'


Hirata says that these two gods are an example of Duality in Unity, of which many other similar cases exist. The gods of Wind and Metal are in pairs, male and female, but each pair is counted as a single deity; while Obo-wnta-tsumi no kami, the god of the sea, is a Trinity in Unity. He remarks that these truths 'have a profound and mysterious signification,' but omits to give any explanation of the mystery, probably because no explanation is possible.

The sixth prayer is addressed to Obo-kuni-nusbi, 'who rules the Unseen, and to his consort Suseri-bime, to whom is dedicated the ancient temple of Obo-yasbiro in Idzumo. By the term "Unseen" (kakuri-goto) are meant peace or disturbance in the empire, its prosperity and adversity, the life and death, good and bad fortune of human beings, in fine, every supernatural event which cannot be ascribed to a definite author. The most fearful crimes which a man commits go unpunished by society so long as they are undiscovered, but they draw down on him the hatred of the invisible gods. The attainment of happiness by performing good acts is regulated by the same law. Even if the gods do not punish secret sins by the usual penalties of the law, such as strangulation, decapitation and transfixion on the cross, they inflict diseases, misfortunes, short life and extermination of the race. Sometimes they even cause a clue to be given by which secret crime is made known to the authorities who have power to punish. The gods bestow happiness and blessings on those who practise good, as effectually as if they [87] were to manifest themselves to our sight and give treasures, and even if the good do not obtain material rewards, they enjoy exemption from disease, good luck and long life; and prosperity is granted to their descendants. Never mind the praise or blame of fellow-men, but act so that you need not be ashamed before the gods of the Unseen. If you desire to practise true virtue, learn to stand in awe of the Unseen, and that will prevent you from doing wrong. Make a vow to the god who rules over the Unseen, and cultivate the conscience (ma-go-koro) implanted in you, and then you will never wander from the way. You cannot hope to live more than a hundred years under the most favourable circumstances, but as you will go to the Unseen Realm of Obo-kuni-nushi after death, and be subject to his rule, learn betimes to bow down before him.' In the Tama no Mihashura Hirata says that the spirits of [p.78] the dead continue to exist in the unseen world, which is everywhere about us, and that they all become gods, of varying character and degrees of influence. Some reside in temples built in their honour, others hover near their tombs, and they continue to render services to their prince, parents, wife and children as when in the body. Besides praying to the primary spirit Oho-kuui-nushi, Hirata enjoins on his followers the necessity of addressing themselves also to his "Rough Spirit," worshipped in Yamato under the name of Oho-kuui-mitama, his "Gentle Spirit," the god of the famous temple of Miwa in the same province, and his son Kotoshiro-nushi, the god of truth. The dogma here implied must not be confounded with that before alluded to in speaking of "Piuted-Spirits." "Rough Spirit" (ara mi tama) denotes a god in his character as a punisher of the wicked, while as a "Gentle Spirit" (nigi mi tama) he pardons the penitent.' There is a third character called said mi tama in which a god confers blessings. Human beings are also said to possess the rough spirit and the gentle spirit, which are explained to be the powerful excitement of the soul separating from the body, and acting independently. Thus the feeling of hatred is capable [88] of avenging injuries, a notable case of which is the death of unfaithful lovers caused by the indignation of the women whom they have wronged and deserted. Frequently the indignation puts on the form of the injured person, and appears to the doer of the wrong, without the knowledge of the injured person. A well-authenticated case of a Gentle Spirit appearing to its correlative Rough Spirit is mentioned in the Ni-hon-ki, where it is stated that when Oho-kuni-nushi was walking on the sea-shore, and lamenting that the departure of Sukuna-bikona had left him without a coadjutor in the task of civilizing the country, a god came towards him from the sea, and proffered his help. Oho-kuni-nushi did not recognize his other half, and asked his name, on which he received the answer, "I am thy saki tama."

The ninth prayer is addressed to Iha-naga-hime, the goddess of long life. The legend says that Ninigi no mikoto, while making an excursion in the neighbourhood of his palace, fell in with a beautiful young girl. On his inquiring her name, she said that it was Kono-hana-Sakn-ya-hime, daughter of Oho-yauia-tsu-mi, the god of mountains, and that she had an elder sister named Iha-naga-hime. The young god-prince [p.79] fell in love with her and demanded her in marriage from her father. Oho-yama-tsu-mi thereupon despatched the two sisters to him, but as the elder sister was very ugly, Ninigi no mikoto was frightened and sent her back. Upon this the father said, "My reason for offering both my daughters, was that if you had taken Iha-naga-hime into your service, the lives of the descendants of the heavenly gods would have been eternal, and if you had made nee of Ko-no-hana-Saku-ya-hime, they would have been as beautiful as the flowers of the cherry-tree. But now that you have rejected the one and kept the other, they will be as frail as the blossoms, and the anger of Iha-naga-hime will shorten human life." This story presents all the characteristics of the myth. The name of the ugly daughter is a compound of iha, "rock," and maga, "long," and is symbolical of longevity; while the name of the [89] other is explained to mean 'the blossoming of the flowers of trees,' and signifies perishable beauty. The ancient text from which the legend is quoted says "this was the cause of the short lives of the men of the present day," and Hirata takes advantage of the occasion to remark that while it is very natural for a man "to prefer a beautiful wife, as the object of marriage is to beget children, he is far wiser who chooses his wife on account of her virtues." He says that although the son of Ninigi no mikoto lived 580 years at his Palace of Takachiho, that was a short life compared with the lives of those who had lived before him, and the lives of some of the early emperors from Jimmu, which extended over more than a century, were of course still shorter. In fact from the time of Ninigi no mikoto the years of the Mikado and his people continued to grow always fewer, for although it might be supposed that the consequences of Ninigi no niikoto's act would only affect his own immediate descendants, the Mikado's subjects were naturally bound not to live longer than their sovereign. He concludes by the safe opinion that those who wish to live long should constantly take care of their health, and at the same time pray to this goddess for her blessing.

Another of the prayers is to be addressed to the ichi no niiya, or chief temple of the province in which the worshipper lives. It is not known with exactness at what period certain temples came to have this designation, but at all events it is not to be found in any document [p.80] older than the 12th century. Nevertheless, Hirata is of opinion that the practice of speaking such a distinction cannot be wrong, since it has existed for so long a period that it must be supposed to have the sanction of the gods. Besides the ichi no niiya, there exist in certain provinces temples called Kuni-tama no yashiro, which Motowori thinks are probably dedicated to persons who first settled there and cultivated the land, and also a third class called Sou-shiya. The origin of the latter term, which means general temple, is supposed to be that some of the ancient governors (kohi-ahi), whose duty it was on arriving in [90] their provinces, to make a tour for the purpose of worshipping at all the Shin-tau temples within their jurisdiction, compounded by worshipping only at the ichi no miya, if there happened to be one at the provincial capital, or built a new temple to which they gave the name of 'general temple.' Another suggestion is that it was at the ichi-no-miya that the governor began his round of worshipping, and that the name is derived from this circumstance. Kunetane, the editor of the Tawa-dasuki, quotes a passage from the Ten-ya Gun-sai, which shows that the new governor had to perform these religious rites before entering upon his administrative duties.

Amongst the ancient Shin-tau practices which have descended to the present day is that of presenting new-born infants to the local deity, in order to place them under his protection. This god is commonly called the uji-gami (family god), and the inhabitants of the district over which he is supposed to extend his favours stand to him in the relation of uji-ko, or children of the family. In Satsuma, Akita, and in some other provinces it is also the custom before starting on a journey to proceed to the temple of this god, and to beseech his protection until the person shall return home again. The priest gives him a paper charm to protect him from harm on the road, and he procures also a little sand from the site of the temple, to be mixed in small quantities with water, and drunk whenever he feels uncomfortable during the journey. Whatever remains of this sand has to be returned to the temple when the traveller reaches home again, and he has of course to give thanks for the protection which he has enjoyed.

The local deity ought correctly to be called Ubu-suna no kami, the god of the native earth (or sand), and this term is found in ancient [p.81] writings. Uji-gami should only be applied to the common ancestor of a number of persons who bear the same family name, or if not to an ancestor, to some one who has merited equivalent honours by acquiring a title to their gratitude. The word uji being originally the same as uchi, 'within,' uji-gami must mean [91] the deity who is most closely connected by ties of worship with the persons comprehended 'within' a family or a community. The Zhin-mei Shiki contains the name of some uji-gami who were simply ancestral gods; but on the other hand the Fujiwara family, which was descended from Ame-no-koya-ne no mikoto, worshipped Take-mika-dzuchi and Futsu-nushi as their uji-gami. The importance attached in ancient time to the worship of the uji-gami is shown by grants of rice and immunities with respect to passports being given by the Mikado to nobles, in order that they might perform these duties. A regulation of the year 895, after stating that the uji-gami are mostly located in the Five Home Provinces,55 says that any one who asks for leave in the second, fourth and eleventh months for the purpose of worshipping his ancestors, is to obtain it at once. It would appear from this order that the term had not at that time lost its original meaning. Hirata thinks that the confusion arose from the fact that the uji-gami, or ancestral gods, of the hereditary local chiefs called Kuni-no-miya-isu-ho were at the same time the patron gods of the locality. Their subjects would naturally use both terms as synonymous, and as the one fell out of use, the other would come to be employed for the local god, whether he were an ancestor or not.

It is suggested by the author of the Matsu no Ochi-ha that what is now called the Uji-gami of a village was originally the collective name under which the inhabitants worshipped their respective ancestors in a single temple, and that this family-god eventually came to be looked on as the patron-god of the locality. Or perhaps, when there was already a temple to the local god, they worshipped their ancestors in the same building for convenience sake, and thus the two were in the end confounded in one. Hirata does not approve this conjecture, but it certainly seems as probable as his own view, which indeed it appears to supplement. A third supposition is that uji-gami is a corruption of [p.82] uchi no kami, the god of a family or [92] community, and that ubu-suna no kami is an alternative name for the uji-gami taken in the latter sense; so that the supposed confusion would be no confusion at all.

Hirata quotes another author, who remarks that the character of the patron-god affects the people, the animals, and the plants of the locality, which fact accounts for the local differences found to exist between individuals of one species taken from various parts of the country. All the uji-gami are under the orders of Oho-kuni-nushi, and acting as his agents, they rule the fortunes of human beings before their birth, during their life-time, and after their death. Consequently when a person removes his residence, his original uji-gami has to make arrangements with the uji-yami of the place whither he transfers his abode. On such occasions it is proper to take leave of the old god, and to pay a visit to the temple of the new god as soon as possible after coming within his jurisdiction. The apparent reasons which a man imagines have induced him to change his abode may be many, but the real reasons cannot be other than that, either he has offended his uji-gami, and is therefore expelled, or that the uji-gami of another place has negotiated his transfer. As the uji-gami has such influence over the welfare of his protégés, it is of the highest importance to stand well with him, and to enforce this argument Hirata narrates several stories of persons who were punished for neglecting their uji-gami.

Next to the uji-gami comes the kami-dana or shrine in which are worshipped the Penates. Every Japanese, with the exception of the more bigoted members of the Buddhist sects called Nichi-ren-shiu and Itsu-kau-shiu, possesses such a shrine in his house. It contains various tablets covered with paper called o-harahi and o-fuda, on which are printed the titles of the gods of Ise and other gods in whom the householder places his trust. Before these tablets are offered up on certain occasions, as the New Year, and the 2nd, 15th and 28th days of the month, sake (called for this purpose mi ki), rice, and the leafy twigs of the sakald (Cleyera japonica). The practice of different families [98] with respect to offerings is not perfectly uniform, either as to the articles offered, or the days on which this is done, but no one omits the sake. Every evening, too, a lighted wick floating in a saucer of oil is placed in the kami-dana.


Hirata would add to the o-harahi of the two gods of Ise and the fuda of the other gods worshipped in this way an image of Sohodo no kami, the scare-crow. Concerning this god he says: 'Sohodo no kami, also called Kuye-biko, is the scare-crow placed in the fields to frighten away birds and animals, and though it is a very ugly and miserable creature, the divine books say of it "this is a god which knows everything in the empire, although his legs are unable to walk." As the spirits of all the gods have recourse to it, and perform wonders, it is a very dreadful deity, and therefore an image of it should be placed before the door of the shrine for the spirits of the gods who are bidden thither to rest upon.' The ancient legend says that, as Oho-kuni-nushi was walking along the shore, he saw a tiny god coming towards him on the crests of the waves, in a boat made of the milkweed shell, and dressed in the skin of a wren. When asked his name, he was silent, and none of the gods who were in Oho-kuui-nushi's following could tell. Then the taniyuku56 spoke, and said, "Kuye-biko will know." So they called Kuye-biko, who replied, on being asked, "This is Sukuna-bikona, the child of the Musubi no kami."

The following prayer is to be addressed to the hami-dana:—

"Reverently adoring the great god of the two palaces of Ise in the first place, the eight hundred myriads of celestial gods, the eight hundred myriads of terrestrial gods, all the fifteen hundred myriads57 of gods to whom are consecrated the great and small temples in all provinces, all islands and all places of the Great Land of Eight Islands, the fifteen hundreds of [94] myriads of gods whom they cause to serve them, and the gods of branch-palaces and branch-temples, and Sohodo no kami, whom I have invited to the shrine set up on this divine shelf, and to whom I offer praises day by day, I pray with awe that they will deign to correct the unwitting faults which, heard and seen by them, I have committed, and blessing and favouring me according to the Powers which they severally wield, cause me to follow the divine example, and to perform good-works in the Way."

Hirata recounts several miracles worked by o-harahi of the Nai- [p.84] kun, which I am unfortunately obliged to omit for want of space, and gives a long explanation of the reason why Aroaterasa, who detested Buddhism, allowed it to spread throughout the country. His arguments resemble in logical form very closely those by which the origin of evil is accounted for by theologians.

The fifteenth of the prayers is to he offered to what are called the harahi'do no kami, gods whose office it is to free the suppliant from evils, sins and pollutions of all kinds. Then follow prayers to the gods who keep off pestilence, to Ame-no-koya-ne no mikoto, who is regarded as the god of wisdom, to Ame-no-uzume no mikoto, the goddess of happiness, Toyo-uke-hime in her capacity as the protector of the abodes of men, the gods of the harvest, of the gate and the front court, of the kitchen fire-place (commonly called Kuwau-zhin-sama), of the well, of the privy, and of learning. Amongst the gods of learning he places Kada, Mabuchi and Motowori.

Last of all comes a prayer to the shrine, commonly called butsu-dan, in which are deposited the monumental tablets of ancestors and deceased members of the family, who are supposed to become hotohe or perfect Buddhas immediately after their death. Usually the butsu-dan contains an image of the chief Buddhist god of the sect to which the family belongs placed in the centre, the monumental tablets being on either side. Fresh flowers are offered up as often they are needed, and the first portion of the rice boiled for the daily food of the household, besides a [95] first portion of any fruit or cooked food which the deceased are known to be fond of. Part of these practices, which are corruptions introduced into the native ancestor-worship by the Buddhist priests, should in Hirata's opinion be abandoned, and the name of the wooden cupboard in which the tablets are kept should be changed from butsu-dan (Buddhist altar) to tama-ya (spirit house). Water and sprigs of the Cleyera should be offered up every day, and there is no objection to using flowers as a decoration, but incense (joss-stick) is an abomination. Amongst other observances which are in vogue, that of visiting the tomb of a parent or other member of the family on that day in each month which corresponds to the day of his death should be kept up, for this is not a Buddhist custom, and although the home of the spirits of the dead is in the tama-ya, they are present wherever they are wor- [p.85] shipped, being gods and therefore ubiquitous. The festival in honour of departed spirits, which is celebrated on the 14th and 15th days of the 7th month, called Bon58 being of Buddhist origin, ought to be abolished, and the ancient rule of holding the festival in the 2nd, 4th and 11th months be reverted to.

The origin of the worship of ancestors, says Hirata, dates from the descent of Ninigi ho Mikoto, who was instructed by the creator and creatrix that the worship of the celestial and terrestrial gods was the most important part of Government. They taught Ama-no-koya-ne and Ama-no-futo-dama how to perform the rites, and attached them to his person. Zhin-mu Ten-wau, after his victories, worshipped his ancestral gods on a mountain. It is equally the duty of a subject to be diligent in worshipping his ancestors, whose minister he should consider himself to be. The custom of adoption arose from the natural desire of having some one to perform sacrifices, and this desire ought not to be rendered of no avail by neglect. Devotion to the memory of ancestors is the mainspring of [96] all virtues. No one who discharges his duty to them will ever be disrespectful to the gods, or to his living parents. Such a man will also be faithful to his prince, loyal to his friends, and kind and gentle with his wife and children. For the essence of this devotion is m truth filial piety. These truths are confirmed also by the books of the Chinese, who say that "the loyal subject issues from the gate of the pious son," and again, "filial piety is the basis of all actions."

Hirata began to attract the notice of influential personages in 1822, when he was requested by the Abbot of Uheno, who was a Prince of the Blood, to present him with copies of his chief works on Shin-tau. In the following year he quitted the service of the daimiyau Itakura, and made a journey to Kiyauto, where he obtained introductions to nobles of the Court, who brought his writings to the notice of the retired Mikado Kuwau-kaku. On returning to Yedo, he devoted himself again to his studies, and during the next fifteen years produced a considerable number of works on Shin-tau and various other subjects. In 1838 he printed a book called the Dai-Fu-saii-koku Kau, which [p.86] drew forth warm praises from the Mikado and the Kawan-haku,59 and gave great offence to the Shiynugun's government, who ordered it to he suppressed, on the ground, it is said, that it contained detailed information about Japan, and might perhaps get into the hands of foreigners. In 1888 he entered the service of the daimiyau of Akita. From the time when he quitted the Itakura family in 1828 he had received many favours from the princes of Mito, Tayasu and Wohari, the latter of whom granted him an allowance of rice.

In 1840 he had a dispute with the government almanac makers about one of his works named Ten-ten Mu-kiu Heki upon the native chronology, and his opponents had sufficient influence to get him banished to Akita, with an order to publish nothing more. He left Yedo ten days after the issue of the decree, and died at Kubota in 1848, being over sixty-seven years of age.

[97] His son Kanetane, in the biographical notice which forms part of the last volume of the Tama-dasuldy says that the number of pupils who entered his school was altogether one hundred and fifty-three. His acknowledged works amount to over one hundred, besides those which he never published. A list of the most important is to be found at the end of the Nifu-gaku Mon-dafu, and the biographical notice just referred to contains the dates at which each of them was begun and completed.

Hirata's works are composed in two styles, the one almost entirely colloquial, the other formed on the model of the ancient prose writers, and crowded with obsolete words which add considerably to the difficulties of the student. His graver writings fall far short of those of Motowori in point of clearness for this reason. His scholarship appears to have been very extensive, and without a wide acquaintance with ancient Chinese literature and Buddhism it would be impossible to follow him into the remote regions whither his researches sometimes carry him. He speaks so frequently of analogies between the native traditions, and those of the Buddhists and ancient Chinese, which he interprets by the theory that the latter borrowed from the Japanese, that it is a matter of regret not to be able to test his statements; since [p.87] if the supposed analogies really exist, they would be of considerable use in tracing the relationship of the Japanese to the races of the Asiatic Continent.

The object of this paper being merely to give some account of the views entertained by a school of modern writers on Shin-tau, no attempt has been made to determine which of their opinions are in accordance, and which at variance, with the real nature of this religion. It is, however, manifest that such of their conclusions as are founded on the alleged infallibility of the ancient records or on any premises which involve the miraculous or supernatural must for those very reasons be discredited; and the real nature and origin of Shin-tau must be decided by the usual canons of historical criticism. The most effectual means of conducting the investigation would be a comparison of [98] the legends in the Ko-zhi-ki and the Ni-hon-gi, and the rites and ceremonies concerning which the Norito and other parts of the Yen-gi Shiki, afford so much information, with what is known of other ancient religions. A correct interpretation of the extant texts is the first requisite, and in arriving at this the philological labours of Mabuchi, Motowori and Hirata, imperfect as their results must naturally be, will be of immense assistance. At the same time, in order to estimate the exact value of these results, the safest method would be to follow the order proposed by Motowori for studying the old literature, and to begin by a careful analysis of the language of the Gen-zhi and other Monogatari, which form the key to the Man-yefu-shifu; for without an accurate knowledge of the latter, the proper reading of the Chinese characters in which the Ko-zhi-ki, Ni-hon-gi and Norito have been written down cannot be known with any degree of certainty. By carrying out this programme, and following in the footsteps of the native scholars, it would be alone possible to check their work and at the same to arrive at correct conclusions, for it is very clear that the last word has yet to be said on the subject of Shin-tau.



1 Revised by the author, 1882. [Numbers in red represent the original pagination.]

2 Ko-zhi-ki Den, vol. xxxiil., f. 27.

3 Zoku-Shm-taQ Tai-i, vol. iv., f. 5.

4 Tamadasuki, vol. 11., f. 68.

5 Ki-shin Den, San-zhifu-roku Ka-shufu Riyaku-den.

6 Tamadasushi, vol. ix., f. 2.

7 Preface of Nobuyoshi to the collection of Kada's verses entitled Shiyunyefa-shifu, quoted in the Tamadasaki, vol. ix., p. 6.

8 Vide Klaproth's introduction to the "Annales des Dairi," which contains a fairly good translation of vol. iii. of the Ni-hon-gi.

9 Previous to this he had either received or chosen five other names in turn at different periods of his life.

10 Vol. i., f. 8v.

11 Name adopted by Mabuchi for his place of abode.

12 Another name for the Ni-hon-gi.

13 From the preface to a collection of Mabuchi's prose and poetical works, entitled Agatawi Kamo no Ka-shifu, quoted by Hirata.

14 A list of the chief Monogatari is given in the third volume of the bibliographical work called Gun-shiyo ichi-ran. The Heike-monogatari does not really belong to this class, as has been erroneously supposed by some students.

15 Tamagatsuma, vol. ii., p. 35, et infra.

16 Hirata in his Ko-shi Chiyoa, vol. i., gives reasons for supposing that Are was a woman, and that the compilation of a history attributed to the year 681 and the project of the Ko-zhi-ki were identical.

17 This was allowed among the Jews and by Solon (v. Lubbock's Origin of Civilization, p. 124). It was probably the result of polygamy. Although a distinction is made between the wife and concubines at the present day, that is probably of Chinese origin, for in more ancient times they were classed together as 'women.'

18 Hirata Atsutane has made an attempt to prove the genuine character of the zhin-dai no mo-zhi, which will be noticed farther on.

19 The parallel between the creation of light and the vegetable world before the sun, as given in the I. Chapter of Genesis and the Japanese account is very curious; it might be useful to those who think that the Japanese are the descendants of the last tribes.

20 He probably means 'air.'

21 The string of cash was probably worth about a dollar.

22 Yamato, one of the old names of Japan; tamashihi, spirit; kokoro, heart.

23 This is the form of doctrine taught in the Kiu-wou Dau-ira, ShiH-gaku Miehi no Hanashit Te-zhima Dau-wa and similar works.

24 Tao-te-king, chap, xviii. Julien translates: Quand la grande voie eat d'peri, on vit paraltre rhunanit, et la justice. That is, according to the commentator whom he follows, When the way decayed, the absence of affection and the existence of disobedience brought humanity and justice into prominence.

25 The Lord of the Middle of Heaven. Taka and kamu are explained as honorifics; mi has the same force. Musu means to beget; this word enters into composition with ko and me to produce musuko and mutume, son and daughter. Bi is the same as hi, an archaic word applied to whatever is wonderful, miraculous and ineffably worthy of honour, and to the sun par excellence.

26 This passage is copied by Hirata almost word for word from vol. iii. of the Ko-zhi-ki Den, without any acknowledgment.

27 Oho-kami, literally, great god.

28 Kami, god, is evidently the same word as kami applied to a superior, as to a master by his servant or to the sovereign by his subjects, to the chief officer of a sub-department of the administration, and in ancient times to the governor of a province. Its primary meaning is 'that which is above,' and hence 'chief.' So that Izanagi no Obo kami would mean Great Chief Izanagi. Mikoto, which is a title applied to gods, and forms part of the word Sumera-mikoto, the ancient name of the sovereigns of Japan, is composed of the honorific mi and koto, word, and hence, thing. It might be rendered augustness, and Izanagi no mikoto would mean His Augustness Izanagi.

29 This prayer is given at the end of the supplement to vol. i. of the Ko-Shi-ehiyou.

30 The Ko-shi-chiyoa was originally entitled Ko-shi Waku-mon, and the Ko-shi sei-bun simply Ko-shi. It is necessary to be aware of this, because he sometimes quotes these works by their earlier titles.

31 Ko-shi Den, vol. i. f. 7v.

32 Or 'the gun,' if we accept the theory that ame signifies the sun.

33 Ko-zhi-ki Den, vol. ix. f. 9.

34 San-dai-kau, ff. 15 and 16.

35 Tama no Mi-luuhira, vol. ii, f. 26.

36  Ko-Shi Den, vol. ii, f. 23, note.

37 This is a literal rendering of awo-una-hara, Hirata, however, assumes the term to mean the appearance of the semi-fluid earth as it was seen from heaven, and rejects the common explanation.

38 Ko-shi Den, vol. ii, f. 46.

39 It is hardly necessary to note that this is not warranted by anything in the ancient records, as the earth was always supposed to be stationary until the Japanese learnt the opposite from Europeans.

40 Also called Amatsa-mika-boshi and Ama-no-kagase-wo.

41 Idem, f. 38.

42 The following is an almost literal translation. Tano Izanagi qaaesivit ab Izanami, "corpus tnam quo in modo factum est?" et ilia, "Corpus meurn crescens crevit, sed locus est qui continuus non crevit." "Corpus meum," inqoit Izanagi, "crescens crevit, sed locus est qui superfluus crevit. Nunc mihi propositum est, si tibi, videtur, mei corporis cum qui superfluus crevit locum, corporis tui in eum locum inserere qui non continuus crevit, et terram generare." Izanami respondit, "Oommodum erit." Tunc. Izanagi, "Ego et tu, quin oiroumeuntes coelestem banc oolnmnam, thalamo jucunde coimus." Hac pactione facta, "Tu sinistra," inquit Izanagi, "ego autem dextra, circnmeuntes occurremus." Hac pactione facta, ubi circumeuntes faciem faoei opposnerunt, Izanami primum "adolescens venuste," deinde Izanagi, "virgo venusta." Postquam hso locuti sunt, Izanagi, nullo modo gaudens, dixit sorori, "Me decebat primum loqui, quia vir sum; non est foeminie primum verba facere." Sed ubi incipientes (so. opus procreationis) oolerunt in thalamo, artem ignorabant. Tunc advolavit motacilla, qui caput caudamque movebat. Dii hoc imitantes, coitionis viam cognoverunt, et fllium hirndini similem pepererunt.

43 The Chinese posthumous names of the early Mikado are supposed to have been determined in the reign of Enwan-mn (782-806). The earliest case of one being applied was in 758, when the posthumous title of Shiyan-mu was given to the reigning Mikado's predecessor. See Ko-zhi-ki Den, vol. xviii, f. 3.

44 That is Shi-koku with its four provinces.

45 Tsuknshi is the ancient name of Kiu-shiu, which was originally divided into five provinces, Tsukushi, Toyo, Hi, Himuka and Kumaso.

46 The oho-barahi was one of the most characteristic of all Shin-tau festivals. The liturgy used in celebrating it has been made the subject of numerous commentaries besides those of Mabuchi and Motowori. It is still observed in the present day.

47 The text, called Riyau, dates from the year 718, and the commentary Oi-ge from 833. Hirata is incorrect in saying that the Zhin-gi-Riyau comes first; it is in reality preceded by five other sections, forming Book I.

48 The preface of the Yen-gi Shiki is dated 927.

49 The Zhin-guu are the two temples where Amaterasu, the Mikadoes ancestress and the goddess of food Uke-mochi no kami are worshipped. In the Nai-shi-Dokoro, a building within the palace, were kept the copies of the sacred mirror of Ise and the sword of Atsuta, which have been already mentioned as being among the divine treasures received by Ninigi when he descended from heaven.

50 Adoration of the Mikado's residence is not mentioned in the Tama-dasukit but is enjoined by the last edition (published in 1873) of the Mu-tefu-zhni-pai Shiki (form of morning prayer). As no form of words is given, it is impossible to say what the character of this prayer should be. The same book contains three other prayers not given in the Tiima-dasuki, namely to the three primeval gods, to Ninigi no mikoto, and to Zhiu-mu Ten-wau, while it omits the prayer to Adzuma-terasa oho-kami (Tou-seu-gua or Iheyasu commonly called Gon-gen Sama).

51 The word rendered here 'worship' is irojamu, which Hirata derives from wori-kagnmu, a compound verb signifying 'to bend.' If this etymology is correct, 'bow down' would be a closer rendering.

52 Tsu is the generic particle, and hiko and hune might be translated lord and lady. Hinu is still used in the latter sense.

53 A detailed account of the legends relating to these goddesses has already been given in a paper on "The Shrines of Ise" published in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Japan, vol. II.

54 Kagu-shima and Shimo-tsu-fusa are the archaic spelling of Ko-hima and Shimofusa. The first-named two temples have been described by Mr. C. W. Lawrence in a paper published in the Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan for 1874.

55 Ki-nai, that is Tamashiro, Yamato, Idssumi, Set-tea and Kahaohi.

56 Either the toad or the bull-frog.

57 These numbers are merely figurative expressions.

58 See Eitel's Handbook of Chinese Buddhism; Art. Ulamba.

59 The Mikado's prime minister, then merely a nominal office.