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Tales of Old Japan by Algernon Bertram Freeman-Mitford

Part 3 out of 7

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Kanzaburo, at the command of the Shogun, opened the first theatre in
Yedo in the Nakabashi, or Middle Bridge Street, where it remained
until eight years later, when it was removed to the Ningiyo, or Doll
Street. The company of this theatre was formed by two families named
Miako and Ichimura, who did not long enjoy their monopoly, for in the
year 1644 we find a third family, that of Yamamura, setting up a rival
theatre in the Kobiki, or Sawyer Street.

In the year 1651, the Asiatic prejudice in favour of keeping persons
of one calling in one place exhibited itself by the removal of the
playhouses to their present site, and the street was called the
Saruwaka Street, after Saruwaka Kanzaburo, the founder of the drama in

Theatrical performances go on from six in the morning until six in the
evening. Just as the day is about to dawn in the east, the sound of
the drum is heard, and the dance Sambaso is danced as a prelude, and
after this follow the dances of the famous actors of old; these are
called the extra performances (_waki kiyogen_).

The dance of Nakamura represents the demon Shudendoji, an ogre who was
destroyed by the hero Yorimitsu according to the following legend:--At
the beginning of the eleventh century, when Ichijo the Second was
Emperor, lived the hero Yorimitsu. Now it came to pass that in those
days the people of Kioto were sorely troubled by an evil spirit, which
took up its abode near the Rasho gate. One night, as Yorimitsu was
making merry with his retainers, he said, "Who dares go and defy the
demon of the Rasho gate, and set up a token that he has been there?"
"That dare I," answered Tsuna, who, having donned his coat of mail,
mounted his horse, and rode out through the dark bleak night to the
Rasho gate. Having written his name upon the gate, he was about to
turn homewards when his horse began to shiver with fear, and a huge
hand coming forth from the gate seized the back of the knight's
helmet. Tsuna, nothing daunted, struggled to get free, but in vain, so
drawing his sword he cut off the demon's arm, and the spirit with a
howl fled into the night. But Tsuna carried home the arm in triumph,
and locked it up in a box. One night the demon, having taken the shape
of Tsuna's aunt, came to him and said, "I pray thee show me the arm of
the fiend." Tsuna answered, "I have shown it to no man, and yet to
thee I will show it." So he brought forth the box and opened it, when
suddenly a black cloud shrouded the figure of the supposed aunt, and
the demon, having regained its arm, disappeared. From that time forth
the people were more than ever troubled by the demon, who carried off
to the hills all the fairest virgins of Kioto, whom he ravished and
ate, so that there was scarce a beautiful damsel left in the city.
Then was the Emperor very sorrowful, and he commanded Yorimitsu to
destroy the monster; and the hero, having made ready, went forth with
four trusty knights and another great captain to search among the
hidden places of the mountains. One day as they were journeying far
from the haunts of men, they fell in with an old man, who, having
bidden them to enter his dwelling, treated them kindly, and set before
them wine to drink; and when they went away, and took their leave of
him, he gave them a present of more wine to take away with them. Now
this old man was a mountain god. As they went on their way they met a
beautiful lady, who was washing blood-stained clothes in the waters of
the valley, weeping bitterly the while. When they asked her why she
shed tears, she answered, "Sirs, I am a woman from Kioto, whom the
demon has carried off; he makes me wash his clothes, and when he is
weary of me, he will kill and eat me. I pray your lordships to save
me." Then the six heroes bade the woman lead them to the ogre's cave,
where a hundred devils were mounting guard and waiting upon him. The
woman, having gone in first, told the fiend of their coming; and he,
thinking to slay and eat them, called them to him; so they entered the
cave, which reeked with the smell of the flesh and blood of men, and
they saw Shudendoji, a huge monster with the face of a little child.
The six men offered him the wine which they had received from the
mountain god, and he, laughing in his heart, drank and made merry, so
that little by little the fumes of the wine got into his head, and he
fell asleep. The heroes, themselves feigning sleep, watched for a
moment when the devils were all off their guard to put on their armour
and steal one by one into the demon's chamber. Then Yorimitsu, seeing
that all was still, drew his sword, and cut off Shudendoji's head,
which sprung up and bit at his head; luckily, however, Yorimitsu had
put on two helmets, the one over the other, so he was not hurt. When
all the devils had been slain, the heroes and the woman returned to
Kioto carrying with them the head of Shudendoji, which was laid before
the Emperor; and the fame of their action was spread abroad under

This Shudendoji is the ogre represented in the Nakamura dance. The
Ichimura dance represents the seven gods of wealth; and the Morita
dance represents a large ape, and is emblematical of drinking wine.

As soon as the sun begins to rise in the heaven, sign-boards all
glistening with paintings and gold are displayed, and the playgoers
flock in crowds to the theatre. The farmers and country-folk hurry
over their breakfast, and the women and children, who have got up in
the middle of the night to paint and adorn themselves, come from all
the points of the compass to throng the gallery, which is hung with
curtains as bright as the rainbow in the departing clouds. The place
soon becomes so crowded that the heads of the spectators are like the
scales on a dragon's back. When the play begins, if the subject be
tragic the spectators are so affected that they weep till they have to
wring their sleeves dry. If the piece be comic they laugh till their
chins are out of joint. The tricks and stratagems of the drama baffle
description, and the actors are as graceful as the flight of the
swallow. The triumph of persecuted virtue and the punishment of
wickedness invariably crown the story. When a favourite actor makes
his appearance, his entry is hailed with cheers. Fun and diversion are
the order of the day, and rich and poor alike forget the cares which
they have left behind them at home; and yet it is not all idle
amusement, for there is a moral taught, and a practical sermon
preached in every play.

The subjects of the pieces are chiefly historical, feigned names being
substituted for those of the real heroes. Indeed, it is in the popular
tragedies that we must seek for an account of many of the events of
the last two hundred and fifty years; for only one very bald
history[37] of those times has been published, of which but a limited
number of copies were struck off from copper plates, and its
circulation was strictly forbidden by the Shogun's Government. The
stories are rendered with great minuteness and detail, so much so,
that it sometimes takes a series of representations to act out one
piece in its entirety. The Japanese are far in advance of the Chinese
in their scenery and properties, and their pieces are sometimes
capitally got up: a revolving stage enables them to shift from one
scene to another with great rapidity. First-rate actors receive as
much as a thousand riyos (about L300) as their yearly salary. This,
however, is a high rate of pay, and many a man has to strut before the
public for little more than his daily rice; to a clever young actor it
is almost enough reward to be allowed to enter a company in which
there is a famous star. The salary of the actor, however, may depend
upon the success of the theatre; for dramatic exhibitions are often
undertaken as speculations by wealthy persons, who pay their company
in proportion to their own profit. Besides his regular pay, a popular
Japanese actor has a small mine of wealth in his patrons, who open
their purses freely for the privilege of frequenting the greenroom.,
The women's parts are all taken by men, as they used to be with us in
ancient days. Touching the popularity of plays, it is related that in
the year 1833, when two actors called Bando Shuka and Segawa Roko,
both famous players of women's parts, died at the same time, the
people of Yedo mourned to heaven and to earth; and if a million riyos
could have brought back their lives, the money would have been
forthcoming. Thousands flocked to their funeral, and the richness of
their coffins and of the clothes laid upon them was admired by all.

[Footnote 37: I allude to the _Tai Hei Nem-piyo,_ or Annals of the
Great Peace, a very rare work, only two or three copies of which have
found their way into the libraries of foreigners.]

"When I heard this," says Terakado Seiken, the author of the _Yedo
Hanjoki_, "I lifted my eyes to heaven and heaved a great sigh. When my
friend Saito Shimei, a learned and good man, died, there was barely
enough money to bury him; his needy pupils and friends subscribed to
give him a humble coffin. Alas! alas! here was a teacher who from his
youth up had honoured his parents, and whose heart know no guile: if
his friends were in need, he ministered to their wants; he grudged no
pains to teach his fellow-men; his good-will and charity were beyond
praise; under the blue sky and bright day he never did a shameful
deed. His merits were as those of the sages of old; but because he
lacked the cunning of a fox or badger he received no patronage from
the wealthy, and, remaining poor to the day of his death, never had an
opportunity of making his worth known. Alas! alas!"

The drama is exclusively the amusement of the middle and lower
classes. Etiquette, sternest of tyrants, forbids the Japanese of high
rank to be seen at any public exhibition, wrestling-matches alone
excepted. Actors are, however, occasionally engaged to play in private
for the edification of my lord and his ladies; and there is a kind of
classical opera, called No, which is performed on stages specially
built for the purpose in the palaces of the principal nobles. These
No represent the entertainments by which the Sun Goddess was lured out
of the cave in which she had hidden, a fable said to be based upon an
eclipse. In the reign of the Emperor Yomei (A.D. 586-593), Hada
Kawakatsu, a man born in Japan, but of Chinese extraction, was
commanded by the Emperor to arrange an entertainment for the
propitiation of the gods and the prosperity of the country. Kawakatsu
wrote thirty-three plays, introducing fragments of Japanese poetry
with accompaniments of musical instruments. Two performers, named
Taketa and Hattori, having especially distinguished themselves in
these entertainments, were ordered to prepare other similar plays, and
their productions remain to the present day. The pious intention of
the No being to pray for the prosperity of the country, they are held
in the highest esteem by the nobles of the Court, the Daimios, and the
military class: in old days they alone performed in these plays, but
now ordinary actors take part in them.

The No are played in sets. The first of the set is specially dedicated
to the propitiation of the gods; the second is performed in full
armour, and is designed to terrify evil spirits, and to insure the
punishment of malefactors; the third is of a gentler intention, and
its special object is the representation of all that is beautiful and
fragrant and delightful. The performers wear hideous wigs and masks,
not unlike those of ancient Greece, and gorgeous brocade dresses. The
masks, which belong to what was the private company of the Shogun, are
many centuries old, and have been carefully preserved as heirlooms
from generation to generation; being made of very thin wood lacquered
over, and kept each in a silken bag, they have been uninjured by the
lapse of time.

During the Duke of Edinburgh's stay in Yedo, this company was engaged
to give a performance in the Yashiki of the Prince of Kishiu, which
has the reputation of being the handsomest palace in all Yedo. So far
as I know, such an exhibition had never before been witnessed by
foreigners, and it may be interesting to give an account of it.
Opposite the principal reception-room, where his Royal Highness sat,
and separated from it by a narrow courtyard, was a covered stage,
approached from the greenroom by a long gallery at an angle of
forty-five degrees. Half-a-dozen musicians, clothed in dresses of
ceremony, marched slowly down the gallery, and, having squatted down
on the stage, bowed gravely. The performances then began. There was no
scenery, nor stage appliances; the descriptions of the chorus or of
the actors took their place. The dialogue and choruses are given in a
nasal recitative, accompanied by the mouth-organ, flute, drum, and
other classical instruments, and are utterly unintelligible. The
ancient poetry is full of puns and plays upon words, and it was with
no little difficulty that, with the assistance of a man of letters, I
prepared beforehand the arguments of the different pieces.

The first play was entitled _Hachiman of the Bow_. Hachiman is the
name under which the Emperor Ojin (A.C. 270-312) was deified as the
God of War. He is specially worshipped on account of his miraculous
birth; his mother, the Empress Jingo, having, by the virtue of a magic
stone which she wore at her girdle, borne him in her womb for three
years, during which she made war upon and conquered the Coreans. The
time of the plot is laid in the reign of the Emperor Uda the Second
(A.D. 1275-1289). In the second month of the year pilgrims are
flocking to the temple of Hachiman at Mount Otoko, between Osaka and
Kioto. All this is explained by the chorus. A worshipper steps forth,
sent by the Emperor, and delivers a congratulatory oration upon the
peace and prosperity of the land. The chorus follows in the same
strain: they sing the praises of Hachiman and of the reigning Emperor.
An old man enters, bearing something which appears to be a bow in a
brocade bag. On being asked who he is, the old man answers that he is
an aged servant of the shrine, and that he wishes to present his
mulberry-wood bow to the Emperor; being too humble to draw near to his
Majesty he has waited for this festival, hoping that an opportunity
might present itself. He explains that with this bow, and with certain
arrows made of the Artemisia, the heavenly gods pacified the world. On
being asked to show his bow, he refuses; it is a mystic protector of
the country, which in old days was overshadowed by the mulberry-tree.
The peace which prevails in the land is likened to a calm at sea. The
Emperor is the ship, and his subjects the water. The old man dwells
upon the ancient worship of Hachiman, and relates how his mother, the
Empress Jingo, sacrificed to the gods before invading Corea, and how
the present prosperity of the country is to be attributed to the
acceptance of those sacrifices. After having revealed himself as the
god Hachiman in disguise, the old man disappears. The worshipper,
awe-struck, declares that he must return to Kioto and tell the Emperor
what he has seen. The chorus announces that sweet music and fragrant
perfumes issue from the mountain, and the piece ends with
felicitations upon the visible favour of the gods, and especially of

The second piece was _Tsunemasa_. Tsunemasa was a hero of the twelfth
century, who died in the civil wars; he was famous for his skill in
playing on the _biwa_, a sort of four-stringed lute.

A priest enters, and announces that his name is Giyokei, and that
before he retired from the world he held high rank at Court. He
relates how Tsunemasa, in his childhood the favourite of the Emperor,
died in the wars by the western seas. During his lifetime the Emperor
gave him a lute, called Sei-zan, "the Azure Mountain"; this lute at
his death was placed in a shrine erected to his honour, and at his
funeral music and plays were performed during seven days within the
palace, by the special grace of the Emperor. The scene is laid at the
shrine. The lonely and awesome appearance of the spot is described.
Although the sky is clear, the wind rustles through the trees like the
sound of falling rain; and although it is now summer-time, the
moonlight on the sand looks like hoar-frost. All nature is sad and
downcast. The ghost appears, and sings that it is the spirit of
Tsunemasa, and has come to thank those who have piously celebrated his
obsequies. No one answers him, and the spirit vanishes, its voice
becoming fainter and fainter, an unreal and illusory vision haunting
the scenes amid which its life was spent. The priest muses on the
portent. Is it a dream or a reality? Marvellous! The ghost, returning,
speaks of former days, when it lived as a child in the palace, and
received the Azure Mountain lute from the Emperor--that lute with the
four strings of which its hand was once so familiar, and the
attraction of which now draws it from the grave. The chorus recites
the virtues of Tsunemasa--his benevolence, justice, humanity,
talents, and truth; his love of poetry and music; the trees, the
flowers, the birds, the breezes, the moon--all had a charm for him.
The ghost begins to play upon the Azure Mountain lute, and the sounds
produced from the magical instrument are so delicate, that all think
it is a shower falling from heaven. The priest declares that it is not
rain, but the sound of the enchanted lute. The sound of the first and
second strings is as the sound of gentle rain, or of the wind stirring
the pine-trees; and the sound of the third and fourth strings is as
the song of birds and pheasants calling to their young. A rhapsody in
praise of music follows. Would that such strains could last for ever!
The ghost bewails its fate that it cannot remain to play on, but must
return whence it came. The priest addresses the ghost, and asks
whether the vision is indeed the spirit of Tsunemasa. Upon this the
ghost calls out in an agony of sorrow and terror at having been seen
by mortal eyes, and bids that the lamps be put out: on its return to
the abode of the dead it will suffer for having shown itself: it
describes the fiery torments which will be its lot. Poor fool! it has
been lured to its destruction, like the insect of summer that flies
into the flame. Summoning the winds to its aid, it puts out the
lights, and disappears.

_The Suit of Feathers_ is the title of a very pretty conceit which
followed. A fisherman enters, and in a long recitative describes the
scenery at the sea-shore of Miwo, in the province of Suruga, at the
foot of Fuji-Yama, the Peerless Mountain. The waves are still, and
there is a great calm; the fishermen are all out plying their trade.
The speaker's name is Hakuriyo, a fisherman living in the pine-grove
of Miwo. The rains are now over, and the sky is serene; the sun rises
bright and red over the pine-trees and rippling sea; while last
night's moon is yet seen faintly in the heaven. Even he, humble fisher
though he be, is softened by the beauty of the nature which surrounds
him. A breeze springs up, the weather will change; clouds and waves
will succeed sunshine and calm; the fishermen must get them home
again. No; it is but the gentle breath of spring, after all; it
scarcely stirs the stout fir-trees, and the waves are hardly heard to
break upon the shore. The men may go forth in safety. The fisherman
then relates how, while he was wondering at the view, flowers began to
rain from the sky, and sweet music filled the air, which was perfumed
by a mystic fragrance. Looking up, he saw hanging on a pine-tree a
fairy's suit of feathers, which he took home, and showed to a friend,
intending to keep it as a relic in his house. A heavenly fairy makes
her appearance, and claims the suit of feathers; but the fisherman
holds to his treasure trove. She urges the impiety of his act--a
mortal has no right to take that which belongs to the fairies. He
declares that he will hand down the feather suit to posterity as one
of the treasures of the country. The fairy bewails her lot; without
her wings how can she return to heaven? She recalls the familiar joys
of heaven, now closed to her; she sees the wild geese and the gulls
flying to the skies, and longs for their power of flight; the tide has
its ebb and its flow, and the sea-breezes blow whither they list: for
her alone there is no power of motion, she must remain on earth. At
last, touched by her plaint, the fisherman consents to return the
feather suit, on condition that the fairy shall dance and play
heavenly music for him. She consents, but must first obtain the
feather suit, without which she cannot dance. The fisherman refuses
to give it up, lest she should fly away to heaven without redeeming
her pledge. The fairy reproaches him for his want of faith: how should
a heavenly being be capable of falsehood? He is ashamed, and gives her
the feather suit, which she dons, and begins to dance, singing of the
delights of heaven, where she is one of the fifteen attendants who
minister to the moon. The fisherman is so transported with joy, that
he fancies himself in heaven, and wishes to detain the fairy to dwell
with him for ever. A song follows in praise of the scenery and of the
Peerless Mountain capped with the snows of spring. When her dance is
concluded, the fairy, wafted away by the sea-breeze, floats past the
pine-grove to Ukishima and Mount Ashidaka, over Mount Fuji, till she
is seen dimly like a cloud in the distant sky, and vanishes into thin

The last of the No was _The Little Smith_, the scene of which is laid
in the reign of the Emperor Ichijo (A.D. 987--1011). A noble of the
court enters, and proclaims himself to be Tachibana Michinari. He has
been commanded by the Emperor, who has seen a dream of good omen on
the previous night, to order a sword of the smith Munechika of Sanjo.
He calls Munechika, who comes out, and, after receiving the order,
expresses the difficulty he is in, having at that time no fitting mate
to help him; he cannot forge a blade alone. The excuse is not
admitted; the smith pleads hard to be saved from the shame of a
failure. Driven to a compliance, there is nothing left for it but to
appeal to the gods for aid. He prays to the patron god of his family,
Inari Sama.[38] A man suddenly appears, and calls the smith; this man
is the god Inari Sama in disguise. The smith asks who is his visitor,
and how does he know him by name. The stranger answers, "Thou hast
been ordered to make a blade for the Emperor." "This is passing
strange," says the smith. "I received the order but a moment since;
how comest thou to know of it?" "Heaven has a voice which is heard upon
the earth. Walls have ears, and stones tell tales.[39] There are no
secrets in the world. The flash of the blade ordered by him who is
above the clouds (the Emperor) is quickly seen. By the grace of the
Emperor the sword shall be quickly made." Here follows the praise of
certain famous blades, and an account of the part they played in
history, with special reference to the sword which forms one of the
regalia. The sword which the Emperor has sent for shall be inferior to
none of these; the smith may set his heart at rest. The smith,
awe-struck, expresses his wonder, and asks again who is addressing
him. He is bidden to go and deck out his anvil, and a supernatural
power will help him. The visitor disappears in a cloud. The smith
prepares his anvil, at the four corners of which he places images of
the gods, while above it he stretches the straw rope and paper
pendants hung up in temples to shut out foul or ill-omened influences.
He prays for strength to make the blade, not for his own glory, but
for the honour of the Emperor. A young man, a fox in disguise,
appears, and helps Munechika to forge the steel. The noise of the
anvil resounds to heaven and over the earth. The chorus announces that
the blade is finished; on one side is the mark of Munechika, on the
other is graven "The Little Fox" in clear characters.

[Footnote 38: The note at the end of the Story of the Grateful Foxes
contains an account of Inari Sama, and explains how the foxes minister
to him.]

[Footnote 39: This is a literal translation of a Japanese proverb.]

The subjects of the No are all taken from old legends of the country;
a shrine at Miwo, by the sea-shore, marks the spot where the suit of
feathers was found, and the miraculously forged sword is supposed to
be in the armoury of the Emperor to this day. The beauty of the
poetry--and it is very beautiful--is marred by the want of scenery and
by the grotesque dresses and make-up. In the _Suit of Feathers_, for
instance, the fairy wears a hideous mask and a wig of scarlet elf
locks: the suit of feathers itself is left entirely to the
imagination; and the heavenly dance is a series of whirls, stamps, and
jumps, accompanied by unearthly yells and shrieks; while the vanishing
into thin air is represented by pirouettes something like the motion
of a dancing dervish. The intoning of the recitative is unnatural and
unintelligible, so much so that not even a highly educated Japanese
could understand what is going on unless he were previously acquainted
with the piece. This, however, is supposing that which is not, for the
No are as familiarly known as the masterpieces of our own dramatists.

The classical severity of the No is relieved by the introduction
between the pieces of light farces called Kiyogen. The whole
entertainment having a religious intention, the Kiyogen stand to the
No in the same relation as the small shrines to the main temple; they,
too, are played for the propitiation of the gods, and for the
softening of men's hearts. The farces are acted without wigs or masks;
the dialogue is in the common spoken language, and there being no
musical accompaniment it is quite easy to follow. The plots of the two
farces which were played before the Duke of Edinburgh are as

In the _Ink Smearing_ the hero is a man from a distant part of the
country, who, having a petition to prefer, comes to the capital, where
he is detained for a long while. His suit being at last successful, he
communicates the joyful news to his servant, Tarokaja (the
conventional name of the Leporello of these farces). The two
congratulate one another. To while away his idle hours during his
sojourn at the capital the master has entered into a flirtation with a
certain young lady: master and servant now hold a consultation as to
whether the former should not go and take leave of her. Tarokaja is of
opinion that as she is of a very jealous nature, his master ought to
go. Accordingly the two set out to visit her, the servant leading the
way. Arrived at her house, the gentleman goes straight in without the
knowledge of the lady, who, coming out and meeting Tarokaja, asks
after his master. He replies that his master is inside the house. She
refuses to believe him, and complains that, for some time past, his
visits have been few and far between. Why should he come now? Surely
Tarokaja is hoaxing her. The servant protests that he is telling the
truth, and that his master really has entered the house. She, only
half persuaded, goes in, and finds that my lord is indeed there. She
welcomes him, and in the same breath upbraids him. Some other lady has
surely found favour in his eyes. What fair wind has wafted him back to
her? He replies that business alone has kept him from her; he hopes
that all is well with her. With her, indeed, all is well, and there is
no change; but she fears that his heart is changed. Surely, surely he
has found mountains upon mountains of joy elsewhere, even now,
perhaps, he is only calling on his way homeward from some haunt of
pleasure. What pleasure can there be away from her? answers he.
Indeed, his time has not been his own, else he would have come sooner.
Why, then, did he not send his servant to explain? Tarokaja here puts
in his oar, and protests that, between running on errands and dancing
attendance upon his lord, he has not had a moment to himself. "At any
rate," says the master, "I must ask for your congratulations; for my
suit, which was so important, has prospered." The lady expresses her
happiness, and the gentleman then bids his servant tell her the object
of their visit. Tarokaja objects to this; his lord had better tell his
own story. While the two are disputing as to who shall speak, the
lady's curiosity is aroused. "What terrible tale is this that neither
of you dare tell? Pray let one or other of you speak." At last the
master explains that he has come to take leave of her, as he must
forthwith return to his own province. The girl begins to weep, and the
gentleman following suit, the two shed tears in concert. She uses all
her art to cajole him, and secretly produces from her sleeve a cup of
water, with which she smears her eyes to imitate tears. He, deceived
by the trick, tries to console her, and swears that as soon as he
reaches his own country he will send a messenger to fetch her; but she
pretends to weep all the more, and goes on rubbing her face with
water. Tarokaja, in the meanwhile, detects the trick, and, calling his
master on one side, tells him what she is doing. The gentleman,
however, refuses to believe him, and scolds him right roundly for
telling lies. The lady calls my lord to her, and weeping more bitterly
than ever, tries to coax him to remain. Tarokaja slyly fills another
cup, with ink and water, and substitutes it for the cup of clear
water. She, all unconcerned, goes on smearing her face. At last she
lifts her face, and her lover, seeing it all black and sooty, gives a
start. What can be the matter with the girl's face? Tarokaja, in an
aside, explains what he has done. They determine to put her to shame.
The lover, producing from his bosom a box containing a mirror, gives
it to the girl, who, thinking that it is a parting gift, at first
declines to receive it. It is pressed upon her; she opens the box and
sees the reflection of her dirty face. Master and man burst out
laughing. Furious, she smears Tarokaja's face with the ink; he
protests that he is not the author of the trick, and the girl flies at
her lover and rubs his face too. Both master and servant run off,
pursued by the girl.

The second farce was shorter than the first, and was called _The Theft
of the Sword_. A certain gentleman calls his servant Tarokaja, and
tells him that he is going out for a little diversion. Bidding
Tarokaja follow him, he sets out. On their way they meet another
gentleman, carrying a handsome sword in his hand, and going to worship
at the Kitano shrine at Kioto. Tarokaja points out the beauty of the
sword to his master, and says what a fine thing it would be if they
could manage to obtain possession of it. Tarokaja borrows his master's
sword, and goes up to the stranger, whose attention is taken up by
looking at the wares set out for sale in a shop. Tarokaja lays his
hand on the guard of the stranger's sword; and the latter, drawing it,
turns round, and tries to cut the thief down. Tarokaja takes to his
heels, praying hard that his life may be spared. The stranger takes
away the sword which Tarokaja has borrowed from his master, and goes
on his way to the shrine, carrying the two swords. Tarokaja draws a
long breath of relief when he sees that his life is not forfeited; but
what account is he to give of his master's sword which he has lost.
There is no help for it, he must go back and make a clean breast of
it. His master is very angry; and the two, after consulting together,
await the stranger's return from the shrine. The latter makes his
appearance and announces that he is going home. Tarokaja's master
falls upon the stranger from behind, and pinions him, ordering
Tarokaja to fetch a rope and bind him. The knave brings the cord; but,
while he is getting it ready, the stranger knocks him over with his
sword. His master calls out to him to get up quickly and bind the
gentleman from behind, and not from before. Tarokaja runs behind the
struggling pair, but is so clumsy that he slips the noose over his
master's head by mistake, and drags him down. The stranger, seeing
this, runs away laughing with the two swords. Tarokaja, frightened at
his blunder, runs off too, his master pursuing him off the stage. A
general run off, be it observed, something like the "spill-and-pelt"
scene in an English pantomime, is the legitimate and invariable
termination of the Kiyogen.


The game of football is in great favour at the Japanese Court. The
days on which it takes place are carefully noted in the "Daijokwan
Nishi," or Government Gazette. On the 25th of February, 1869, for
instance, we find two entries: "The Emperor wrote characters of good
omen," and "The game of football was played at the palace." The game
was first introduced from China in the year of the Empress Kokiyoku,
in the middle of the seventh century. The Emperor Mommu, who reigned
at the end of the same century, was the first emperor who took part in
the sport. His Majesty Toba the Second became very expert at it, as
also did the noble Asukai Chiujo, and from that time a sort of
football club was formed at the palace. During the days of the extreme
poverty of the Mikado and his Court, the Asukai family,
notwithstanding their high rank, were wont to eke out their scanty
income by giving lessons in the art of playing football.


The doughty deeds and marvellous experiences of Funakoshi Jiuyemon are
perhaps, like those of Robin Hood and his Merry Men, rather
traditional than historical; but even if all or part of the deeds
which popular belief ascribes to him be false, his story conveys a
true picture of manners and customs. Above all, the manner of the
vengeance which he wreaked upon the wife who had dishonoured him, and
upon her lover, shows the high importance which the Japanese attach to
the sanctity of the marriage tie.

The 50th and 51st chapters of the "Legacy of Iyeyasu," already quoted,
say: "If a married woman of the agricultural, artisan, or commercial
class shall secretly have intercourse with another man, it is not
necessary for the husband to enter a complaint against the persons
thus confusing the great relation of mankind, but he may put them both
to death. Nevertheless, should he slay one of them and spare the
other, his guilt is the same as that of the unrighteous persons.

"In the event, however, of advice being sought, the parties not having
been slain, accede to the wishes of the complainant with, regard to
putting them to death or not.

"Mankind, in whose bodies the male and female elements induce a
natural desire towards the same object, do not look upon such
practices with aversion; and the adjudication of such cases is a
matter of special deliberation and consultation.

"Men and women of the military class are expected to know better than
to occasion disturbance by violating existing regulations; and such an
one breaking the regulations by lewd, trifling, or illicit intercourse
shall at once be punished, without deliberation or consultation. It is
not the same in this case as in that of agriculturists, artisans, and

As a criminal offence, adultery was, according to the ancient laws of
Japan, punished by crucifixion. In more modern times it has been
punished by decapitation and the disgraceful exposure of the head
after death; but if the murder of the injured husband accompany the
crime of adultery, then the guilty parties are crucified to this day.
At the present time the husband is no longer allowed to take the law
into his own hands: he must report the matter to the Government, and
trust to the State to avenge his honour.

Sacred as the marriage tie is so long as it lasts, the law which cuts
it is curiously facile, or rather there is no law: a man may turn his
wife out of doors, as it may suit his fancy. An example of this
practice was shown in the story of "The Forty-seven Ronins." A husband
has but to report the matter to his lord, and the ceremony of divorce
is completed. Thus, in the days of the Shoguns' power, a Hatamoto who
had divorced his wife reported the matter to the Shogun. A Daimio's
retainer reports the matter to his Prince.

The facility of divorce, however, seems to be but rarely taken
advantage of: this is probably owing to the practice of keeping
concubines. It has often been asked, Are the Japanese polygamists? The
answer is, Yes and no. They marry but one wife; but a man may,
according to his station and means, have one or more concubines in
addition. The Emperor has twelve concubines, called Kisaki; and
Iyeyasu, alluding forcibly to excess in this respect as _teterrima
belli causa_, laid down that the princes might have eight, high
officers five, and ordinary Samurai two handmaids. "In the olden
times," he writes, "the downfall of castles and the overthrow of
kingdoms all proceeded from this alone. Why is not the indulgence of
passions guarded against?"

The difference between the position of the wife and that of the
concubine is marked. The legitimate wife is to the handmaid as a lord
is to his vassal. Concubinage being a legitimate institution, the son
of a handmaid is no bastard, nor is he in any way the child of shame;
and yet, as a general rule, the son of the bondwoman is not heir with
the son of the free, for the son of the wife inherits before the son
of a concubine, even where the latter be the elder; and it frequently
happens that a noble, having children by his concubines but none by
his wife, selects a younger brother of his own, or even adopts the son
of some relative, to succeed him in the family honours. The family
line is considered to be thus more purely preserved. The law of
succession is, however, extremely lax. Excellent personal merits will
sometimes secure to the left-handed son the inheritance of his
ancestors; and it often occurs that the son of a concubine, who is
debarred from succeeding to his own father, is adopted as the heir of
a relation or friend of even higher rank. When the wife of a noble has
a daughter but no son, the practice is to adopt a youth of suitable
family and age, who marries the girl and inherits as a son.

The principle of adoption is universal among all classes, from the
Emperor down to his meanest subject; nor is the family line considered
to have been broken because an adopted son has succeeded to the
estates. Indeed, should a noble die without heir male, either begotten
or adopted, his lands are forfeited to the State. It is a matter of
care that the person adopted should be himself sprung from a stock of
rank suited to that of the family into which he is to be received.

Sixteen and upwards being considered the marriageable age for a man,
it is not usual for persons below that age to adopt an heir; yet an
infant at the point of death may adopt a person older than himself,
that the family line may not become extinct.

An account of the marriage ceremony will be found in the Appendix upon
the subject.

In the olden time, in the island of Shikoku[40] there lived one
Funakoshi Jiuyemon, a brave Samurai and accomplished man, who was in
great favour with the prince, his master. One day, at a drinking-bout,
a quarrel sprung up between him and a brother-officer, which resulted
in a duel upon the spot, in which Jiuyemon killed his adversary. When
Jiuyemon awoke to a sense of what he had done, he was struck with
remorse, and he thought to disembowel himself; but, receiving a
private summons from his lord, he went to the castle, and the prince
said to him--

"So it seems that you have been getting drunk and quarrelling, and
that you have killed one of your friends; and now I suppose you will
have determined to perform _hara-kiri_. It is a great pity, and in the
face of the laws I can do nothing for you openly. Still, if you will
escape and fly from this part of the country for a while, in two
years' time the affair will have blown over, and I will allow you to

[Footnote 40: _Shikoku_, one of the southern islands separated from
the chief island of Japan by the beautiful "Inland Sea;" it is called
_Shikoku_, or the "Four Provinces," because it is divided into the
four provinces, _Awa, Sanuki, Iyo,_ and _Tosa_.]

And with these words the prince presented him with a fine sword, made
by Sukesada,[41] and a hundred ounces of silver, and, having bade him
farewell, entered his private apartments; and Jiuyemon, prostrating
himself, wept tears of gratitude; then, taking the sword and the
money, he went home and prepared to fly from the province, and
secretly took leave of his relations, each of whom made him some
parting present. These gifts, together with his own money, and what he
had received from the prince, made up a sum of two hundred and fifty
ounces of silver, with which and his Sukesada sword he escaped under
cover of darkness, and went to a sea-port called Marugame, in the
province of Sanuki, where he proposed to wait for an opportunity of
setting sail for Osaka. As ill luck would have it, the wind being
contrary, he had to remain three days idle; but at last the wind
changed; so he went down to the beach, thinking that he should
certainly find a junk about to sail; and as he was looking about him,
a sailor came up, and said--

"If your honour is minded to take a trip to Osaka, my ship is bound
thither, and I should be glad to take you with me as passenger."

"That's exactly what I wanted. I will gladly take a passage," replied
Jiuyemon, who was delighted at the chance.

[Footnote 41: _Sukesada_, a famous family of swordsmiths, belonging to
the Bizen clan. The Bizen men are notoriously good armourers, and
their blades fetch high prices. The sword of Jiuyemon is said to have
been made by one of the Sukesada who lived about 290 years ago.]

"Well, then, we must set sail at once, so please come on board
without delay."

So Jiuyemon went with him and embarked; and as they left the harbour
and struck into the open sea, the moon was just rising above the
eastern hills, illumining the dark night like a noonday sun; and
Jiuyemon, taking his place in the bows of the ship, stood wrapt in
contemplation of the beauty of the scene.


Now it happened that the captain of the ship, whose name was Akagoshi
Kuroyemon, was a fierce pirate who, attracted by Jiuyemon's well-to-do
appearance, had determined to decoy him on board, that he might murder
and rob him; and while Jiuyemon was looking at the moon, the pirate
and his companions were collected in the stern of the ship, taking
counsel together in whispers as to how they might slay him. He, on the
other hand, having for some time past fancied their conduct somewhat
strange, bethought him that it was not prudent to lay aside his sword,
so he went towards the place where he had been sitting, and had left
his weapon lying, to fetch it, when he was stopped by three of the
pirates, who blocked up the gangway, saying--

"Stop, Sir Samurai! Unluckily for you, this ship in which you have
taken a passage belongs to the pirate Akagoshi Kuroyemon. Come, sir!
whatever money you may chance to have about you is our prize."

When Jiuyemon heard this he was greatly startled at first, but soon
recovered himself, and being an expert wrestler, kicked over two of
the pirates, and made for his sword; but in the meanwhile Shichirohei,
the younger brother of the pirate captain, had drawn the sword, and
brought it towards him, saying--

"If you want your sword, here it is!" and with that he cut at him; but
Jiuyemon avoided the blow, and closing with the ruffian, got back his
sword. Ten of the pirates then attacked him with spear and sword; but
he, putting his back against the bows of the ship, showed such good
fight that he killed three of his assailants, and the others stood
off, not daring to approach him. Then the pirate captain, Akagoshi
Kuroyemon, who had been watching the fighting from the stern, seeing
that his men stood no chance against Jiuyemon's dexterity, and that he
was only losing them to no purpose, thought to shoot him with a
matchlock. Even Jiuyemon, brave as he was, lost heart when he saw the
captain's gun pointed at him, and tried to jump into the sea; but one
of the pirates made a dash at him with a boat-hook, and caught him by
the sleeve; then Jiuyemon, in despair, took the fine Sukesada sword
which he had received from his prince, and throwing it at his captor,
pierced him through the breast so that he fell dead, and himself
plunging into the sea swam for his life. The pirate captain shot at
him and missed him, and the rest of the crew made every endeavour to
seize him with their boat-hooks, that they might avenge the death of
their mates; but it was all in vain, and Jiuyemon, having shaken off
his clothes that he might swim the better, made good his escape. So
the pirates threw the bodies of their dead comrades into the sea, and
the captain was partly consoled for their loss by the possession of
the Sukesada sword with which one of them had been transfixed.

As soon as Jiuyemon jumped over the ship's side, being a good swimmer,
he took a long dive, which carried him well out of danger, and struck
out vigorously; and although he was tired and distressed by his
exertions, he braced himself up to greater energy, and faced the waves
boldly. At last, in the far distance, to his great joy, he spied a
light, for which he made, and found that it was a ship carrying
lanterns marked with the badge of the governor of Osaka; so he hailed
her, saying--

"I have fallen into great trouble among pirates: pray rescue me."

"Who and what are you?" shouted an officer, some forty years of age.

"My name is Funakoshi Jiuyemon, and I have unwittingly fallen in with
pirates this night. I have escaped so far: I pray you save me, lest I

"Hold on to this, and come up," replied the other, holding out the
butt end of a spear to him, which he caught hold of and clambered up
the ship's side. When the officer saw before him a handsome gentleman,
naked all but his loincloth, and with his hair all in disorder, he
called to his servants to bring some of his own clothes, and, having
dressed him in them, said--

"What clan do you belong to, sir?"

"Sir, I am a Ronin, and was on my way to Osaka; but the sailors of the
ship on which I had embarked were pirates;" and so he told the whole
story of the fight and of his escape.

"Well done, sir!" replied the other, astonished at his prowess. "My
name is Kajiki Tozayemon, at your service. I am an officer attached to
the governor of Osaka. Pray, have you any friends in that city?"

"No, sir, I have no friends there; but as in two years I shall be able
to return to my own country, and re-enter my lord's service, I thought
during that time to engage in trade and live as a common wardsman."

"Indeed, that's a poor prospect! However, if you will allow me, I will
do all that is in my power to assist you. Pray excuse the liberty I am
taking in making such a proposal."

Jiuyemon warmly thanked Kajiki Tozayemon for his kindness; and so they
reached Osaka without further adventures.

Jiuyemon, who had secreted in his girdle the two hundred and fifty
ounces which he had brought with him from home, bought a small house,
and started in trade as a vendor of perfumes, tooth-powder, combs, and
other toilet articles; and Kajiki Tozayemon, who treated him with
great kindness, and rendered him many services, prompted him, as he
was a single man, to take to himself a wife. Acting upon this advice,
he married a singing-girl, called O Hiyaku.[42]

[Footnote 42: The O before women's names signifies "_Imperial_," and
is simply an honorific.]

Now this O Hiyaku, although at first she seemed very affectionately
disposed towards Jiuyemon, had been, during the time that she was a
singer, a woman of bad and profligate character; and at this time
there was in Osaka a certain wrestler, named Takasegawa Kurobei, a
very handsome man, with whom O Hiyaku fell desperately in love; so
that at last, being by nature a passionate woman, she became
unfaithful to Jiuyemon. The latter, little suspecting that anything
was amiss, was in the habit of spending his evenings at the house of
his patron Kajiki Tozayemon, whose son, a youth of eighteen, named
Tonoshin, conceived a great friendship for Jiuyemon, and used
constantly to invite him to play a game at checkers; and it was on
these occasions that O Hiyaku, profiting by her husband's absence,
used to arrange her meetings with the wrestler Takasegawa.

One evening, when Jiuyemon, as was his wont, had gone out to play at
checkers with Kajiki Tonoshin, O Hiyaku took advantage of the occasion
to go and fetch the wrestler, and invite him to a little feast; and as
they were enjoying themselves over their wine, O Hiyaku said to him--

"Ah! Master Takasegawa, how wonderfully chance favours us! and how
pleasant these stolen interviews are! How much nicer still it would
be if we could only be married. But, as long as Jiuyemon is in the
way, it is impossible; and that is my one cause of distress."

"It's no use being in such a hurry. If you only have patience, we
shall be able to marry, sure enough. What you have got to look out for
now is, that Jiuyemon does not find out what we are about. I suppose
there is no chance of his coming home to-night, is there?"

"Oh dear, no! You need not be afraid. He is gone to Kajiki's house to
play checkers; so he is sure to spend the night there."

And so the guilty couple went on gossiping, with their minds at ease,
until at last they dropped off asleep.

In the meanwhile Jiuyemon, in the middle of his game at checkers, was
seized with a sudden pain in his stomach, and said to Kajiki Tonoshin,
"Young sir, I feel an unaccountable pain in my stomach. I think I had
better go home, before it gets worse."

"That is a bad job. Wait a little, and I will give you some physic;
but, at any rate, you had better spend the night here."

"Many thanks for your kindness," replied Jiuyemon; "but I had rather
go home."

So he took his leave, and went off to his own house, bearing the pain
as best he might. When he arrived in front of his own door, he tried
to open it; but the lock was fastened, and he could not get in, so he
rapped violently at the shutters to try and awaken his wife. When O
Hiyaku heard the noise, she woke with a start, and roused the
wrestler, saying to him in a whisper--

"Get up! get up! Jiuyemon has come back. You must hide as fast as

"Oh dear! oh dear!" said the wrestler, in a great fright; "here's a
pretty mess! Where on earth shall I hide myself?" and he stumbled
about in every direction looking for a hiding-place, but found none.

Jiuyemon, seeing that his wife did not come to open the door, got
impatient at last, and forced it open by unfixing the sliding shutter
and, entering the house, found himself face to face with his wife and
her lover, who were both in such confusion that they did not know what
to do. Jiuyemon, however, took no notice of them, but lit his pipe and
sat smoking and watching them in silence. At last the wrestler,
Takasegawa, broke the silence by saying--

"I thought, sir, that I should be sure to have the pleasure of finding
you at home this evening, so I came out to call upon you. When I got
here, the Lady O Hiyaku was so kind as to offer me some wine; and I
drank a little more than was good for me, so that it got into my head,
and I fell asleep. I must really apologize for having taken such a
liberty in your absence; but, indeed, although appearances are against
us, there has been nothing wrong."

"Certainly," said O Hiyaku, coming to her lover's support, "Master
Takasegawa is not at all to blame. It was I who invited him to drink
wine; so I hope you will excuse him."

Jiuyemon sat pondering the matter over in his mind for a moment, and
then said to the wrestler, "You say that you are innocent; but, of
course, that is a lie. It's no use trying to conceal your fault.
However, next year I shall, in all probability, return to my own
country, and then you may take O Hiyaku and do what you will with her:
far be it from me to care what becomes of a woman with such a stinking

When the wrestler and O Hiyaku heard Jiuyemon say this quite quietly,
they could not speak, but held their peace for very shame.

"Here, you Takasegawa," pursued he; "you may stop here to-night, if
you like it, and go home to-morrow."

"Thank you, sir," replied the wrestler, "I am much obliged to you; but
the fact is, that I have some pressing business in another part of the
town, so, with your permission, I will take my leave;" and so he went
out, covered with confusion.

As for the faithless wife, O Hiyaku, she was in great agitation,
expecting to be severely reprimanded at least; but Jiuyemon took no
notice of her, and showed no anger; only from that day forth, although
she remained in his house as his wife, he separated himself from her

Matters went on in this way for some time, until at last, one fine
day, O Hiyaku, looking out of doors, saw the wrestler Takasegawa
passing in the street, so she called out to him--

"Dear me, Master Takasegawa, can that be you! What a long time it is
since we have met! Pray come in, and have a chat."

"Thank you, I am much obliged to you; but as I do not like the sort of
scene we had the other day, I think I had rather not accept your

"Pray do not talk in such a cowardly manner. Next year, when Jiuyemon
goes back to his own country, he is sure to give me this house, and
then you and I can marry and live as happily as possible."

"I don't like being in too great a hurry to accept fair offers."[43]

[Footnote 43: The original is a proverbial expression like "Timeo
Danaos et dona ferentes."]

"Nonsense! There's no need for showing such delicacy about accepting
what is given you."

And as she spoke, she caught the wrestler by the hand and led him into
the house. After they had talked together for some time, she said:--

"Listen to me, Master Takasegawa. I have been thinking over all this
for some time, and I see no help for it but to kill Jiuyemon and make
an end of him."

"What do you want to do that for?"

"As long as he is alive, we cannot be married. What I propose is that
you should buy some poison, and I will put it secretly into his food.
When he is dead, we can be happy to our hearts' content."

At first Takasegawa was startled and bewildered by the audacity of
their scheme; but forgetting the gratitude which he owed to Jiuyemon
for sparing his life on the previous occasion, he replied:--

"Well, I think it can be managed. I have a friend who is a physician,
so I will get him to compound some poison for me, and will send it to
you. You must look out for a moment when your husband is not on his
guard, and get him to take it."

Having agreed upon this, Takasegawa went away, and, having employed a
physician to make up the poison, sent it to O Hiyaku in a letter,
suggesting that the poison should be mixed up with a sort of macaroni,
of which Jiuyemon was very fond. Having read the letter, she put it
carefully away in a drawer of her cupboard, and waited until Jiuyemon
should express a wish to eat some macaroni.

One day, towards the time of the New Year, when O Hiyaku had gone out
to a party with a few of her friends, it happened that Jiuyemon, being
alone in the house, was in want of some little thing, and, failing to
find it anywhere, at last bethought himself to look for it in O
Hiyaku's cupboard; and as he was searching amongst the odds and ends
which it contained, he came upon the fatal letter. When he read the
scheme for putting poison in his macaroni, he was taken aback, and
said to himself, "When I caught those two beasts in their wickedness I
spared them, because their blood would have defiled my sword; and now
they are not even grateful for my mercy. Their crime is beyond all
power of language to express, and I will kill them together."

So he put back the letter in its place, and waited for his wife to
come home. So soon as she made her appearance he said--

"You have come home early, O Hiyaku. I feel very dull and lonely this
evening; let us have a little wine."

And as he spoke without any semblance of anger, it never entered O
Hiyaku's mind that he had seen the letter; so she went about her
household duties with a quiet mind.

The following evening, as Jiuyemon was sitting in his shop casting up
his accounts, with his counting-board[44] in his hand, Takasegawa
passed by, and Jiuyemon called out to him, saying:--

"Well met, Takasegawa! I was just thinking of drinking a cup of wine
to-night; but I have no one to keep me company, and it is dull work
drinking alone. Pray come in, and drink a bout with me."

[Footnote 44: The _abacus_, or counting-board, is the means of
calculation in use throughout the Continent from St. Petersburg to
Peking, in Corea, Japan, and the Liukiu Islands.]

"Thank you, sir, I shall have much pleasure," replied the wrestler,
who little expected what the other was aiming at; and so he went in,
and they began to drink and feast.

"It's very cold to-night," said Jiuyemon, after a while; "suppose we
warm up a little macaroni, and eat it nice and hot. Perhaps, however,
you do not like it?"

"Indeed, I am very fond of it, on the contrary."

"That is well. O Hiyaku, please go and buy a little for us."

"Directly," replied his wife, who hurried off to buy the paste,
delighted at the opportunity for carrying out her murderous design
upon her husband. As soon she had prepared it, she poured it into
bowls and set it before the two men; but into her husband's bowl only
she put poison. Jiuyemon, who well knew what she had done, did not eat
the mess at once, but remained talking about this, that, and the
other; and the wrestler, out of politeness, was obliged to wait also.
All of a sudden, Jiuyemon cried out--

"Dear me! whilst we have been gossiping, the macaroni has been getting
cold. Let us put it all together and warm it up again. As no one has
put his lips to his bowl yet, it will all be clean; so none need be
wasted." And with these words he took the macaroni that was in the
three bowls, and, pouring it altogether into an iron pot, boiled it up
again. This time Jiuyemon served out the food himself, and, setting it
before his wife and the wrestler, said--

"There! make haste and eat it up before it gets cold."

Jiuyemon, of course, did not eat any of the mess; and the would-be
murderers, knowing that sufficient poison had been originally put into
Jiuyemon's bowl to kill them all three, and that now the macaroni,
having been well mixed up, would all be poisoned, were quite taken
aback, and did not know what to do.

"Come! make haste, or it will be quite cold. You said you liked it, so
I sent to buy it on purpose. O Hiyaku! come and make a hearty meal. I
will eat some presently."

At this the pair looked very foolish, and knew not what to answer; at
last the wrestler got up and said--

"I do not feel quite well. I must beg to take my leave; and, if you
will allow me, I will come and accept your hospitality to-morrow

"Dear me! I am sorry to hear you are not well. However, O Hiyaku,
there will be all the more macaroni for you."

As for O Hiyaku, she put a bold face upon the matter, and replied that
she had supped already, and had no appetite for any more.

Then Jiuyemon, looking at them both with a scornful smile, said--

"It seems that you, neither of you, care to eat this macaroni;
however, as you, Takasegawa, are unwell, I will give you some
excellent medicine;" and going to the cupboard, he drew out the
letter, and laid it before the wrestler. When O Hiyaku and the
wrestler saw that their wicked schemes had been brought to light, they
were struck dumb with shame.

Takasegawa, seeing that denial was useless, drew his dirk and cut at
Jiuyemon; but he, being nimble and quick, dived under the wrestler's
arm, and seizing his right hand from behind, tightened his grasp upon
it until it became numbed, and the dirk fell to the ground; for,
powerful man as the wrestler was, he was no match for Jiuyemon, who
held him in so fast a grip that he could not move. Then Jiuyemon took
the dirk which had fallen to the ground, and said:--

"Oh! I thought that you, being a wrestler, would at least be a strong
man, and that there would be some pleasure in fighting you; but I see
that you are but a poor feckless creature, after all. It would have
defiled my sword to have killed such an ungrateful hound with it; but
luckily here is your own dirk, and I will slay you with that."

Takasegawa struggled to escape, but in vain; and O Hiyaku, seizing a
large kitchen knife, attacked Jiuyemon; but he, furious, kicked her in
the loins so violently that she fell powerless, then brandishing the
dirk, he cleft the wrestler from the shoulder down to the nipple of
his breast, and the big man fell in his agony. O Hiyaku, seeing this,
tried to fly; but Jiuyemon, seizing her by the hair of the head,
stabbed her in the bosom, and, placing her by her lover's side, gave
her the death-blow.


On the following day, he sent in a report of what he had done to the
governor of Osaka, and buried the corpses; and from that time forth he
remained a single man, and pursued his trade as a seller of perfumery
and such-like wares; and his leisure hours he continued to spend as
before, at the house of his patron, Kajiki Tozayemon.

One day, when Jiuyemon went to call upon Kajiki Tozayemon, he was told
by the servant-maid, who met him at the door, that her master was out,
but that her young master, Tonoshin, was at home; so, saying that he
would go in and pay his respects to the young gentleman, he entered
the house; and as he suddenly pushed open the sliding-door of the room
in which Tonoshin was sitting, the latter gave a great start, and his
face turned pale and ghastly.

"How now, young sir!" said Jiuyemon, laughing at him, "surely you are
not such a coward as to be afraid because the sliding-doors are
opened? That is not the way in which a brave Samurai should behave."

"Really I am quite ashamed of myself," replied the other, blushing at
the reproof; "but the fact is that I had some reason for being
startled. Listen to me, Sir Jiuyemon, and I will tell you all about
it. To-day, when I went to the academy to study, there were a great
number of my fellow-students gathered together, and one of them said
that a ruinous old shrine, about two miles and a half to the east of
this place, was the nightly resort of all sorts of hobgoblins, who
have been playing pranks and bewitching the people for some time
past; and he proposed that we should all draw lots, and that the one
upon whom the lot fell should go to-night and exorcise those evil
beings; and further that, as a proof of his having gone, he should
write his name upon a pillar in the shrine. All the rest agreed that
this would be very good sport; so I, not liking to appear a coward,
consented to take my chance with the rest; and, as ill luck would
have it, the lot fell upon me. I was thinking over this as you came
in, and so it was that when you suddenly opened the door, I could not
help giving a start."

"If you only think for a moment," said Jiuyemon, "you will see that
there is nothing to fear. How can beasts[45] and hobgoblins exercise
any power over men? However, do not let the matter trouble you. I will
go in your place to-night, and see if I cannot get the better of these
goblins, if any there be, having done which, I will write your name
upon the pillar, so that everybody may think that you have been

[Footnote 45: Foxes, badgers, and cats. See the stories respecting
their tricks.]

"Oh! thank you: that will indeed be a service. You can dress yourself
up in my clothes, and nobody will be the wiser. I shall be truly
grateful to you."

So Jiuyemon having gladly undertaken the job, as soon as the night set
in made his preparations, and went to the place indicated--an
uncanny-looking, tumble-down, lonely old shrine, all overgrown with
moss and rank vegetation. However, Jiuyemon, who was afraid of
nothing, cared little for the appearance of the place, and having made
himself as comfortable as he could in so dreary a spot, sat down on
the floor, lit his pipe, and kept a sharp look-out for the goblins. He
had not been waiting long before he saw a movement among the bushes;
and presently he was surrounded by a host of elfish-looking creatures,
of all shapes and kinds, who came and made hideous faces at him.
Jiuyemon quietly knocked the ashes out of his pipe, and then, jumping
up, kicked over first one and then another of the elves, until several
of them lay sprawling in the grass; and the rest made off, greatly
astonished at this unexpected reception. When Jiuyemon took his
lantern and examined the fallen goblins attentively, he saw that they
were all Tonoshin's fellow-students, who had painted their faces, and
made themselves hideous, to frighten their companion, whom they knew
to be a coward: all they got for their pains, however, was a good
kicking from Jiuyemon, who left them groaning over their sore bones,
and went home chuckling to himself at the result of the adventure.


The fame of this exploit soon became noised about Osaka, so that all
men praised Jiuyemon's courage; and shortly after this he was elected
chief of the Otokodate,[46] or friendly society of the wardsmen, and
busied himself no longer with his trade, but lived on the
contributions of his numerous apprentices.

[Footnote 46: See the Introduction to the Story of Chobei of

Now Kajiki Tonoshin was in love with a singing girl named Kashiku,
upon whom he was in the habit of spending a great deal of money. She,
however, cared nothing for him, for she had a sweetheart named
Hichirobei, whom she used to contrive to meet secretly, although, in
order to support her parents, she was forced to become the mistress of
Tonoshin. One evening, when the latter was on guard at the office of
his chief, the Governor of Osaka, Kashiku sent word privately to
Hichirobei, summoning him to go to her house, as the coast would be

While the two were making merry over a little feast, Tonoshin, who had
persuaded a friend to take his duty for him on the plea of urgent
business, knocked at the door, and Kashiku, in a great fright, hid her
lover in a long clothes-box, and went to let in Tonoshin, who, on
entering the room and seeing the litter of the supper lying about,
looked more closely, and perceived a man's sandals, on which, by the
light of a candle, he saw the figure seven.[47] Tonoshin had heard
some ugly reports of Kashiku's proceedings with this man Hichirobei,
and when he saw this proof before his eyes he grew very angry; but he
suppressed his feelings, and, pointing to the wine-cups and bowls,

"Whom have you been feasting with to-night?"

"Oh!" replied Kashiku, who, notwithstanding her distress, was obliged
to invent an answer, "I felt so dull all alone here, that I asked an
old woman from next door to come in and drink a cup of wine with me,
and have a chat."

[Footnote 47: _Hichi_, the first half of _Hichirobei_, signifies

All this while Tonoshin was looking for the hidden lover; but, as he
could not see him, he made up his mind that Kashiku must have let him
out by the back door; so he secreted one of the sandals in his sleeve
as evidence, and, without seeming to suspect anything, said:--

"Well, I shall be very busy this evening, so I must go home."

"Oh! won't you stay a little while? It is very dull here, when I am
all alone without you. Pray stop and keep me company."

But Tonoshin made no reply, and went home. Then Kashiku saw that one
of the sandals was missing, and felt certain that he must have carried
it off as proof; so she went in great trouble to open the lid of the
box, and let out Hichirobei. When the two lovers talked over the
matter, they agreed that, as they both were really in love, let
Tonoshin kill them if he would, they would gladly die together: they
would enjoy the present; let the future take care of itself.

The following morning Kashiku sent a messenger to Tonoshin to implore
his pardon; and he, being infatuated by the girl's charms, forgave
her, and sent a present of thirty ounces of silver to her lover,
Hichirobei, on the condition that he was never to see her again; but,
in spite of this, Kashiku and Hichirobei still continued their secret

It happened that Hichirobei, who was a gambler by profession, had an
elder brother called Chobei, who kept a wine-shop in the Ajikawa
Street, at Osaka; so Tonoshin thought that he could not do better than
depute Jiuyemon to go and seek out this man Chobei, and urge him to
persuade his younger brother to give up his relations with Kashiku;
acting upon this resolution, he went to call upon Jiuyemon, and said
to him--

"Sir Jiuyemon, I have a favour to ask of you in connection with that
girl Kashiku, whom you know all about. You are aware that I paid
thirty ounces of silver to her lover Hichirobei to induce him to give
up going to her house; but, in spite of this, I cannot help suspecting
that they still meet one another. It seems that this Hichirobei has an
elder brother--one Chobei; now, if you would go to this man and tell
him to reprove his brother for his conduct, you would be doing me a
great service. You have so often stood my friend, that I venture to
pray you to oblige me in this matter, although I feel that I am
putting you to great inconvenience."

Jiuyemon, out of gratitude for the kindness which he had received at
the hands of Kajiki Tozayemon, was always willing to serve Tonoshin;
so he went at once to find out Chobei, and said to him--

"My name, sir, is Jiuyemon, at your service; and I have come to beg
your assistance in a matter of some delicacy."

"What can I do to oblige you, sir?" replied Chobei, who felt bound to
be more than usually civil, as his visitor was the chief of the

"It is a small matter, sir," said Jiuyemon. "Your younger brother
Hichirobei is intimate with a woman named Kashiku, whom he meets in
secret. Now, this Kashiku is the mistress of the son of a gentleman to
whom I am under great obligation: he bought her of her parents for a
large sum of money, and, besides this, he paid your brother thirty
ounces of silver some time since, on condition of his separating
himself from the girl; in spite of this, it appears that your brother
continues to see her, and I have come to beg that you will remonstrate
with your brother on his conduct, and make him give her up."

"That I certainly will. Pray do not be uneasy; I will soon find means
to put a stop to my brother's bad behaviour."

And so they went on talking of one thing and another, until Jiuyemon,
whose eyes had been wandering about the room, spied out a very long
dirk lying on a cupboard, and all at once it occurred to him that this
was the very sword which had been a parting gift to him from his lord:
the hilt, the mountings, and the tip of the scabbard were all the
same, only the blade had been shortened and made into a long dirk.
Then he looked more attentively at Chobei's features, and saw that he
was no other than Akagoshi Kuroyemon, the pirate chief. Two years had
passed by, but he could not forget that face.

Jiuyemon would have liked to have arrested him at once; but thinking
that it would be a pity to give so vile a robber a chance of escape,
he constrained himself, and, taking his leave, went straightway and
reported the matter to the Governor of Osaka. When the officers of
justice heard of the prey that awaited them, they made their
preparations forthwith. Three men of the secret police went to
Chobei's wine-shop, and, having called for wine, pretended to get up a
drunken brawl; and as Chobei went up to them and tried to pacify them,
one of the policemen seized hold of him, and another tried to pinion
him. It at once flashed across Chobei's mind that his old misdeeds had
come to light at last, so with a desperate effort he shook off the two
policemen and knocked them down, and, rushing into the inner room,
seized the famous Sukesada sword and sprang upstairs. The three
policemen, never thinking that he could escape, mounted the stairs
close after him; but Chobei with a terrible cut cleft the front man's
head in sunder, and the other two fell back appalled at their
comrade's fate. Then Chobei climbed on to the roof, and, looking out,
perceived that the house was surrounded on all sides by armed men.
Seeing this, he made up his mind that his last moment was come, but,
at any rate, he determined to sell his life dearly, and to die
fighting; so he stood up bravely, when one of the officers, coming up
from the roof of a neighbouring house, attacked him with a spear; and
at the same time several other soldiers clambered up. Chobei, seeing
that he was overmatched, jumped down, and before the soldiers below
had recovered from their surprise he had dashed through their ranks,
laying about him right and left, and cutting down three men. At top
speed he fled, with his pursuers close behind him; and, seeing the
broad river ahead of him, jumped into a small boat that lay moored
there, of which the boatmen, frightened at the sight of his bloody
sword, left him in undisputed possession. Chobei pushed off, and
sculled vigorously into the middle of the river; and the
officers--there being no other boat near--were for a moment baffled.
One of them, however, rushing down the river bank, hid himself on a
bridge, armed with. a spear, and lay in wait for Chobei to pass in his
boat; but when the little boat came up, he missed his aim, and only
scratched Chobei's elbow; and he, seizing the spear, dragged down his
adversary into the river, and killed him as he was struggling in the
water; then, sculling for his life, he gradually drew near to the sea.
The other officers in the mean time had secured ten boats, and, having
come up with Chobei, surrounded him; but he, having formerly been a
pirate, was far better skilled in the management of a boat than his
pursuers, and had no great difficulty in eluding them; so at last he
pushed out to sea, to the great annoyance of the officers, who
followed him closely.

Then Jiuyemon, who had come up, said to one of the officers on the

"Have you caught him yet?"

"No; the fellow is so brave and so cunning that our men can do nothing
with him."

"He's a determined ruffian, certainly. However, as the fellow has got
my sword, I mean to get it back by fair means or foul: will you allow
me to undertake the job of seizing him?"

"Well, you may try; and you will have officers to assist you, if you
are in peril."

Jiuyemon, having received this permission, stripped off his clothes
and jumped into the sea, carrying with him a policeman's mace, to the
great astonishment of all the bystanders. When he got near Chobei's
boat, he dived and came up alongside, without the pirate perceiving
him until he had clambered into the boat. Chobei had the good Sukesada
sword, and Jiuyemon was armed with nothing but a mace; but Chobei, on
the other hand, was exhausted with his previous exertions, and was
taken by surprise at a moment when he was thinking of nothing but how
he should scull away from the pursuing boats; so it was not long
before Jiuyemon mastered and secured him.

For this feat, besides recovering his Sukesada sword, Jiuyemon
received many rewards and great praise from the Governor of Osaka. But
the pirate Chobei was cast into prison.

Hichirobei, when he heard of his brother's capture, was away from
home; but seeing that he too would be sought for, he determined to
escape to Yedo at once, and travelled along the Tokaido, the great
highroad, as far as Kuana. But the secret police had got wind of his
movements, and one of them was at his heels disguised as a beggar, and
waiting for an opportunity to seize him.

Hichirobei in the meanwhile was congratulating himself on his escape;
and, little suspecting that he would be in danger so far away from
Osaka, he went to a house of pleasure, intending to divert himself at
his ease. The policeman, seeing this, went to the master of the house
and said--

"The guest who has just come in is a notorious thief, and I am on his
track, waiting to arrest him. Do you watch for the moment when he
falls asleep, and let me know. Should he escape, the blame will fall
upon you."

The master of the house, who was greatly taken aback, consented of
course; so he told the woman of the house to hide Hichirobei's dirk,
and as soon as the latter, wearied with his journey, had fallen
asleep, he reported it to the policeman, who went upstairs, and having
bound Hichirobei as he lay wrapped up in his quilt, led him back to
Osaka to be imprisoned with his brother.

When Kashiku became aware of her lover's arrest, she felt certain that
it was the handiwork of Jiuyemon; so she determined to kill him, were
it only that she might die with Hichirobei. So hiding a kitchen knife
in the bosom of her dress, she went at midnight to Jiuyemon's house,
and looked all round to see if there were no hole or cranny by which
she might slip in unobserved; but every door was carefully closed, so
she was obliged to knock at the door and feign an excuse.

"Let me in! let me in! I am a servant-maid in the house of Kajiki
Tozayemon, and am charged with a letter on most pressing business to
Sir Jiuyemon."

Hearing this, one of Jiuyemon's servants, thinking her tale was true,
rose and opened the door; and Kashiku, stabbing him in the face, ran
past him into the house. Inside she met another apprentice, who had
got up, aroused by the noise; him too she stabbed in the belly, but as
he fell he cried out to Jiuyemon, saying:--

"Father, father![48] take care! Some murderous villain has broken into
the house."

[Footnote 48: The apprentice addresses his patron as "father."]

[Illustration: "GOKUMON."]

And Kashiku, desperate, stopped his further utterance by cutting his
throat. Jiuyemon, hearing his apprentice cry out, jumped up, and,
lighting his night-lamp, looked about him in the half-gloom, and saw
Kashiku with the bloody knife, hunting for him that she might kill
him. Springing upon her before she saw him, he clutched her right
hand, and, having secured her, bound her with cords so that she could
not move. As soon as he had recovered from his surprise, he looked
about him, and searched the house, when, to his horror, he found one
of his apprentices dead, and the other lying bleeding from a frightful
gash across the face. With the first dawn of day, he reported the
affair to the proper authorities, and gave Kashiku in custody. So,
after due examination, the two pirate brothers and the girl Kashiku
were executed, and their heads were exposed together.[49]

[Footnote 49: The exposure of the head, called _Gokumon_, is a
disgraceful addition to the punishment of beheading. A document,
placed on the execution-ground, sets forth the crime which has called
forth the punishment.]

Now the fame of all the valiant deeds of Jiuyemon having reached his
own country, his lord ordered that he should be pardoned for his
former offence, and return to his allegiance; so, after thanking
Kajiki Tozayemon for the manifold favours which he had received at his
hands, he went home, and became a Samurai as before.

* * * * *

The fat wrestlers of Japan, whose heavy paunches and unwieldy, puffy
limbs, however much they may be admired by their own country people,
form a striking contrast to our Western notions of training, have
attracted some attention from travellers; and those who are interested
in athletic sports may care to learn something about them.

The first historical record of wrestling occurs in the sixth year of
the Emperor Suinin (24 B.C.), when one Taima no Kehaya, a noble of
great stature and strength, boasting that there was not his match
under heaven, begged the Emperor that his strength might be put to the
test. The Emperor accordingly caused the challenge to be proclaimed;
and one Nomi no Shikune answered it, and having wrestled with Kehaya,
kicked him in the ribs and broke his bones, so that he died. After
this Shikune was promoted to high office, and became further famous in
Japanese history as having substituted earthen images for the living
men who, before his time, used to be buried with the coffin of the

In the year A.D. 858 the throne of Japan was wrestled for. The Emperor
Buntoku had two sons, called Koreshito and Koretaka, both of whom
aspired to the throne. Their claims were decided in a wrestling match,
in which one Yoshiro was the champion of Koreshito, and Natora the
champion of Koretaka. Natora having been defeated, Koreshito ascended
his father's throne under the style of Seiwa.

In the eighth century, when Nara was the capital of Japan, the Emperor
Shomu instituted wrestling as part of the ceremonies of the autumn
festival of the Five Grains, or Harvest Home; and as the year proved a
fruitful one, the custom was continued as auspicious. The strong men
of the various provinces were collected, and one Kiyobayashi was
proclaimed the champion of Japan. Many a brave and stout man tried a
throw with him, but none could master him. Rules of the ring were now
drawn up; and in order to prevent disputes, Kiyobayashi was appointed
by the Emperor to be the judge of wrestling-matches, and was
presented, as a badge of his office, with a fan, upon which were
inscribed the words the "Prince of Lions."

The wrestlers were divided into wrestlers of the eastern and of the
western provinces, Omi being taken as the centre province. The eastern
wrestlers wore in their hair the badge of the hollyhock; the western
wrestlers took for their sign the gourd-flower. Hence the passage
leading up to the wrestling-stage was called the "Flower Path."
Forty-eight various falls were fixed upon as fair--twelve throws,
twelve lifts, twelve twists, and twelve throws over the back. All
other throws not included in these were foul, and it was the duty of
the umpire to see that no unlawful tricks were resorted to. It was
decided that the covered stage should be composed of sixteen
rice-bales, in the shape of one huge bale, supported by four pillars
at the four points of the compass, each pillar being painted a
different colour, thus, together with certain paper pendants, making
up five colours, to symbolize the Five Grains.

[Illustration: CHAMPION WRESTLER.]

The civil wars by which the country was disturbed for a while put a
stop to the practice of wrestling; but when peace was restored it was
proposed to re-establish the athletic games, and the umpire
Kiyobayashi, the "Prince of Lions," was sought for; but he had died or
disappeared, and could not be found, and there was no umpire
forthcoming. The various provinces were searched for a man who might
fill his place, and one Yoshida Iyetsugu, a Ronin of the province of
Echizen, being reported to be well versed in the noble science, was
sent for to the capital, and proved to be a pupil of Kiyobayashi. The
Emperor, having approved him, ordered that the fan of the "Prince of
Lions" should be made over to him, and gave him the title of Bungo no
Kami, and commanded that his name in the ring should be Oi-Kaze, the
"Driving Wind." Further, as a sign that there should not be two
styles of wrestling, a second fan was given to him bearing the
inscription, "A single flavour is a beautiful custom." The right of
acting as umpire in wrestling-matches was vested in his family, that
the "Driving Wind" might for future generations preside over athletic
sports. In ancient days, the prizes for the three champion wrestlers
were a bow, a bowstring, and an arrow: these are still brought into
the ring, and, at the end of the bout, the successful competitors go
through a variety of antics with them.

To the champion wrestlers--to two or three men only in a
generation--the family of the "Driving Wind" awards the privilege of
wearing a rope-girdle. In the time of the Shogunate these champions
used to wrestle before the Shogun.

At the beginning of the 17th century (A.D. 1606) wrestling-matches, as
forming a regular part of a religious ceremony, were discontinued.
They are still held, however, at the shrines of Kamo, at Kioto, and of
Kasuga, in Yamato. They are also held at Kamakura every year, and at
the shrines of the patron saints of the various provinces, in
imitation of the ancient customs.

In the year 1623 one Akashi Shiganosuke obtained leave from the
Government to hold public wrestling-matches in the streets of Yedo.
In the year 1644 was held the first wrestling-match for the purpose
of raising a collection for building a temple. This was done by
the priests of Kofukuji, in Yamashiro. In the year 1660 the same
expedient was resorted to in Yedo, and the custom of getting up
wrestling-matches for the benefit of temple funds holds good to this

The following graphic description of a Japanese wrestling-match is
translated from the "Yedo Hanjoki":--

"From daybreak till eight in the morning a drum is beaten to announce
that there will be wrestling. The spectators rise early for the sight.
The adversaries having been settled, the wrestlers enter the ring from
the east and from the west. Tall stalwart men are they, with sinews
and bones of iron. Like the Gods Nio,[50] they stand with their arms
akimbo, and, facing one another, they crouch in their strength. The
umpire watches until the two men draw their breath at the same time,
and with his fan gives the signal. They jump up and close with one
another, like tigers springing on their prey, or dragons playing with
a ball. Each is bent on throwing the other by twisting or by lifting
him. It is no mere trial of brute strength; it is a tussle of skill
against skill. Each of the forty-eight throws is tried in turn. From
left to right, and from right to left, the umpire hovers about,
watching for the victory to declare itself. Some of the spectators
back the east, others back the west. The patrons of the ring are so
excited that they feel the strength tingling within them; they clench
their fists, and watch their men, without so much as blinking their
eyes. At last one man, east or west, gains the advantage, and the
umpire lifts his fan in token of victory. The plaudits of the
bystanders shake the neighbourhood, and they throw their clothes or
valuables into the ring, to be redeemed afterwards in money; nay, in
his excitement, a man will even tear off his neighbour's jacket and
throw it in."

[Footnote 50: The Japanese Gog and Magog.]

[Illustration: A WRESTLING MATCH.]

Before beginning their tussle, the wrestlers work up their strength by
stamping their feet and slapping their huge thighs. This custom is
derived from the following tale of the heroic or mythological age:--

After the seven ages of the heavenly gods came the reign of Tensho
Daijin, the Sun Goddess, and first Empress of Japan. Her younger
brother, Sosanoeo no Mikoto, was a mighty and a brave hero, but
turbulent, and delighted in hunting the deer and the boar. After
killing these beasts, he would throw their dead bodies into the sacred
hall of his sister, and otherwise defile her dwelling. When he had
done this several times, his sister was angry, and hid in the cave
called the Rock Gate of Heaven; and when her face was not seen, there
was no difference between the night and the day. The heroes who served
her, mourning over this, went to seek her; but she placed a huge stone
in front of the cave, and would not come forth. The heroes, seeing
this, consulted together, and danced and played antics before the cave
to lure her out. Tempted by curiosity to see the sight, she opened the
gate a little and peeped out. Then the hero Tajikarao, or "Great
Strength," clapping his hands and stamping his feet, with a great
effort grasped and threw down the stone door, and the heroes fetched
back the Sun Goddess.[51] As Tajikarao is the patron god of Strength,
wrestlers, on entering the ring, still commemorate his deed by
clapping their hands and stamping their feet as a preparation for
putting forth their strength.

[Footnote 51: The author of the history called "Kokushi Riyaku"
explains this fable as being an account of the first eclipse.]

The great Daimios are in the habit of attaching wrestlers to their
persons, and assigning to them a yearly portion of rice. It is usual
for these athletes to take part in funeral or wedding processions, and
to escort the princes on journeys. The rich wardsmen or merchants give
money to their favourite wrestlers, and invite them to their houses to
drink wine and feast. Though low, vulgar fellows, they are allowed
something of the same familiarity which is accorded to prize-fighters,
jockeys, and the like, by their patrons in our own country.

The Japanese wrestlers appear to have no regular system of training;
they harden their naturally powerful limbs by much beating, and by
butting at wooden posts with their shoulders. Their diet is stronger
than that of the ordinary Japanese, who rarely touch meat.


It will be long before those who were present at the newly opened port
of Kobe on the 4th of February, 1868, will forget that day. The civil
war was raging, and the foreign Legations, warned by the flames of
burning villages, no less than by the flight of the Shogun and his
ministers, had left Osaka, to take shelter at Kobe, where they were
not, as at the former place, separated from their ships by more than
twenty miles of road, occupied by armed troops in a high state of
excitement, with the alternative of crossing in tempestuous weather a
dangerous bar, which had already taken much valuable life. It was a
fine winter's day, and the place was full of bustle, and of the going
and coming of men busy with the care of housing themselves and their
goods and chattels. All of a sudden, a procession of armed men,
belonging to the Bizen clan, was seen to leave the town, and to
advance along the high road leading to Osaka; and without apparent
reason--it was said afterwards that two Frenchmen had crossed the line
of march--there was a halt, a stir, and a word of command given. Then
the little clouds of white smoke puffed up, and the sharp "ping" of
the rifle bullets came whizzing over the open space, destined for a
foreign settlement, as fast as the repeating breech-loaders could be
discharged. Happily, the practice was very bad; for had the men of
Bizen been good shots, almost all the principal foreign officials in
the country, besides many merchants and private gentlemen, must have
been killed: as it was, only two or three men were wounded. If they
were bad marksmen, however, they were mighty runners; for they soon
found that they had attacked a hornets' nest. In an incredibly short
space of time, the guards of the different Legations and the sailors
and marines from the ships of war were in hot chase after the enemy,
who were scampering away over the hills as fast as their legs could
carry them, leaving their baggage ingloriously scattered over the
road, as many a cheap lacquered hat and flimsy paper cartridge-box,
preserved by our Blue Jackets as trophies, will testify. So good was
the stampede, that the enemy's loss amounted only to one aged coolie,
who, being too decrepit to run, was taken prisoner, after having had
seventeen revolver shots fired at him without effect; and the only
injury that our men inflicted was upon a solitary old woman, who was
accidently shot through the leg.

If it had not been for the serious nature of the offence given, which
was an attack upon the flags of all the treaty Powers, and for the
terrible retribution which was of necessity exacted, the whole affair
would have been recollected chiefly for the ludicrous events which it
gave rise to. The mounted escort of the British Legation executed a
brilliant charge of cavalry down an empty road; a very pretty line of
skirmishers along the fields fired away a great deal of ammunition
with no result; earthworks were raised, and Kobe was held in military
occupation for three days, during which there were alarms, cutting-out
expeditions with armed boats, steamers seized, and all kinds of
martial effervescence. In fact, it was like fox-hunting: it had "all
the excitement of war, with only ten per cent. of the danger."

The first thought of the kind-hearted doctor of the British Legation
was for the poor old woman who had been wounded, and was bemoaning
herself piteously. When she was carried in, a great difficulty arose,
which, I need hardly say, was overcome; for the poor old creature
belonged to the Etas, the Pariah race, whose presence pollutes the
house even of the poorest and humblest Japanese; and the native
servants strongly objected to her being treated as a human being,
saying that the Legation would be for ever defiled if she were
admitted within its sacred precincts. No account of Japanese society
would be complete without a notice of the Etas; and the following
story shows well, I think, the position which they hold.

Their occupation is to slay beasts, work leather, attend upon
criminals, and do other degrading work. Several accounts are given of
their origin; the most probable of which is, that when Buddhism, the
tenets of which forbid the taking of life, was introduced, those who
lived by the infliction of death became accursed in the land, their
trade being made hereditary, as was the office of executioner in some
European countries. Another story is, that they are the descendants of
the Tartar invaders left behind by Kublai Khan. Some further facts
connected with the Etas are given in a note at the end of the tale.

* * * * *

Once upon a time, some two hundred years ago, there lived at a place
called Honjo, in Yedo, a Hatamoto named Takoji Genzaburo; his age was
about twenty-four or twenty-five, and he was of extraordinary personal
beauty. His official duties made it incumbent on him to go to the
Castle by way of the Adzuma Bridge, and here it was that a strange
adventure befel him. There was a certain Eta, who used to earn his
living by going out every day to the Adzuma Bridge, and mending the
sandals of the passers-by. Whenever Genzaburo crossed the bridge, the
Eta used always to bow to him. This struck him as rather strange; but
one day when Genzaburo was out alone, without any retainers following
him, and was passing the Adzuma Bridge, the thong of his sandal
suddenly broke: this annoyed him very much; however, he recollected
the Eta cobbler who always used to bow to him so regularly, so he went
to the place where he usually sat, and ordered him to mend his sandal,
saying to him: "Tell me why it is that every time that I pass by
this bridge, you salute me so respectfully."


When the Eta heard this, he was put out of countenance, and for a
while he remained silent; but at last taking courage, he said to
Genzaburo, "Sir, having been honoured with your commands, I am quite
put to shame. I was originally a gardener, and used to go to your
honour's house and lend a hand in trimming up the garden. In those
days your honour was very young, and I myself little better than a
child; and so I used to play with your honour, and received many
kindnesses at your hands. My name, sir, is Chokichi. Since those days
I have fallen by degrees info dissolute habits, and little by little
have sunk to be the vile thing that you now see me."

When Genzaburo heard this he was very much surprised, and,
recollecting his old friendship for his playmate, was filled with
pity, and said, "Surely, surely, you have fallen very low. Now all you
have to do is to presevere and use your utmost endeavours to find a
means of escape from the class into which you have fallen, and become
a wardsman again. Take this sum: small as it is, let it be a
foundation for more to you." And with these words he took ten riyos
out of his pouch and handed them to Chokichi, who at first refused to
accept the present, but, when it was pressed upon him, received it
with thanks. Genzaburo was leaving him to go home, when two wandering
singing-girls came up and spoke to Chokichi; so Genzaburo looked to
see what the two women were like. One was a woman of some twenty years
of age, and the other was a peerlessly beautiful girl of sixteen; she
was neither too fat nor too thin, neither too tall nor too short; her
face was oval, like a melon-seed, and her complexion fair and white;
her eyes were narrow and bright, her teeth small and even; her nose
was aquiline, and her mouth delicately formed, with lovely red lips;
her eyebrows were long and fine; she had a profusion of long black
hair; she spoke modestly, with a soft sweet voice; and when she
smiled, two lovely dimples appeared in her cheeks; in all her
movements she was gentle and refined. Genzaburo fell in love with her
at first sight; and she, seeing what a handsome man he was, equally
fell in love with him; so that the woman that was with her, perceiving
that they were struck with one another, led her away as fast as

Genzaburo remained as one stupefied, and, turning to Chokichi, said,
"Are you acquainted with those two women who came up just now?"

"Sir," replied Chokichi, "those are two women of our people. The elder
woman is called O Kuma, and the girl, who is only sixteen years old,
is named O Koyo. She is the daughter of one Kihachi, a chief of the
Etas. She is a very gentle girl, besides being so exceedingly pretty;
and all our people are loud in her praise."

When he heard this, Genzaburo remained lost in thought for a while,
and then said to Chokichi, "I want you to do something for me. Are
you prepared to serve me in whatever respect I may require you?"

Chokichi answered that he was prepared to do anything in his power to
oblige his honour. Upon this Genzaburo smiled and said, "Well, then, I
am willing to employ you in a certain matter; but as there are a great
number of passers-by here, I will go and wait for you in a tea-house
at Hanakawado; and when you have finished your business here, you can
join me, and I will speak to you." With these words Genzaburo left
him, and went off to the tea-house.

When Chokichi had finished his work, he changed his clothes, and,
hurrying to the tea-house, inquired for Genzaburo, who was waiting for
him upstairs. Chokichi went up to him, and began to thank him for the
money which he had bestowed upon him. Genzaburo smiled, and handed him
a wine-cup, inviting him to drink, and said--

"I will tell you the service upon which I wish to employ you. I have
set my heart upon that girl O Koyo, whom I met to-day upon the Adzuma
Bridge, and you must arrange a meeting between us."

When Chokichi heard these words, he was amazed and frightened, and for
a while he made no answer. At last he said---

"Sir, there is nothing that I would not do for you after the favours
that I have received from you. If this girl were the daughter of any
ordinary man, I would move heaven and earth to comply with your
wishes; but for your honour, a handsome and noble Hatamoto, to take
for his concubine the daughter of an Eta is a great mistake. By giving
a little money you can get the handsomest woman in the town. Pray,
sir, abandon the idea."

Upon this Genzaburo was offended, and said--

"This is no matter for you to give advice in. I have told you to get
me the girl, and you must obey."

Chokichi, seeing that all that he could say would be of no avail,
thought over in his mind how to bring about a meeting between
Genzaburo and O Koyo, and replied--

"Sir, I am afraid when I think of the liberty that I have taken. I
will go to Kihachi's house, and will use my best endeavours with him
that I may bring the girl to you. But for to-day, it is getting late,
and night is coming on; so I will go and speak to her father

Genzaburo was delighted to find Chokichi willing to serve him.

"Well," said he, "the day after to-morrow I will await you at the
tea-house at Oji, and you can bring O Koyo there. Take this present,
small as it is, and do your best for me."

With this he pulled out three riyos from his pocket and handed them to
Chokichi. who declined the money with thanks, saying that he had
already received too much, and could accept no more; but Genzaburo
pressed him, adding, that if the wish of his heart were accomplished
he would do still more for him. So Chokichi, in great glee at the good
luck which had befallen him, began to revolve all sorts of schemes in
his mind; and the two parted.

But O Koyo, who had fallen in love at first sight with Genzaburo on
the Adzuma Bridge, went home and could think of nothing but him. Sad
and melancholy she sat, and her friend O Kuma tried to comfort her in
various ways; but O Koyo yearned, with all her heart, for Genzaburo;
and the more she thought over the matter, the better she perceived
that she, as the daughter of an Eta, was no match for a noble
Hatamoto. And yet, in spite of this, she pined for him, and bewailed
her own vile condition.

Now it happened that her friend O Kuma was in love with Chokichi, and
only cared for thinking and speaking of him; one day, when Chokichi
went to pay a visit at the house of Kihachi the Eta chief, O Kuma,
seeing him come, was highly delighted, and received him very politely;
and Chokichi, interrupting her, said--

"O Kuma, I want you to answer me a question: where has O Koyo gone to
amuse herself to-day?"

"Oh, you know the gentleman who was talking with you the other day, at
the Adzuma Bridge? Well, O Koyo has fallen desperately in love with
him, and she says that she is too low-spirited and out of sorts to get
up yet."

Chokichi was greatly pleased to hear this, and said to O Kuma--

"How delightful! Why, O Koyo has fallen in love with the very
gentleman who is burning with passion for her, and who has employed me
to help him in the matter. However, as he is a noble Hatamoto, and his
whole family would be ruined if the affair became known to the world,
we must endeavour to keep it as secret as possible."

"Dear me!" replied O Kuma; "when O Koyo hears this, how happy she will
be, to be sure! I must go and tell her at once."

"Stop!" said Chokichi, detaining her; "if her father, Master Kihachi,
is willing, we will tell O Koyo directly. You had better wait here a
little until I have consulted him;" and with this he went into an
inner chamber to see Kihachi; and, after talking over the news of the
day, told him how Genzaburo had fallen passionately in love with O
Koyo, and had employed him as a go-between. Then he described how he
had received kindness at the hands of Genzaburo when he was in better
circumstances, dwelt on the wonderful personal beauty of his lordship,
and upon the lucky chance by which he and O Koyo had come to meet each

When Kihachi heard this story, he was greatly flattered, and said--

"I am sure I am very much obliged to you. For one of our daughters,
whom even the common people despise and shun as a pollution, to be
chosen as the concubine of a noble Hatamoto--what could be a greater
matter for congratulation!"

So he prepared a feast for Chokichi, and went off at once to tell O
Koyo the news. As for the maiden, who had fallen over head and ears in
love, there was no difficulty in obtaining her consent to all that was
asked of her.

Accordingly Chokichi, having arranged to bring the lovers together on
the following day at Oji, was preparing to go and report the glad
tidings to Genzaburo; but O Koyo, who knew that her friend O Kuma was
in love with Chokichi, and thought that if she could throw them into
one another's arms, they, on their side, would tell no tales about
herself and Genzaburo, worked to such good purpose that she gained her
point. At last Chokichi, tearing himself from the embraces of O Kuma,
returned to Genzaburo, and told him how he had laid his plans so as,
without fail, to bring O Koyo to him, the following day, at Oji, and
Genzaburo, beside himself with impatience, waited for the morrow.

The next day Genzaburo, having made his preparations, and taking
Chokichi with him, went to the tea-house at Oji, and sat drinking
wine, waiting for his sweetheart to come.

As for O Koyo, who was half in ecstasies, and half shy at the idea of
meeting on this day the man of her heart's desire, she put on her
holiday clothes, and went with O Kuma to Oji; and as they went out
together, her natural beauty being enhanced by her smart dress, all
the people turned round to look at her, and praise her pretty face.
And so after a while, they arrived at Oji, and went into the tea-house
that had been agreed upon; and Chokichi, going out to meet them,

"Dear me, Miss O Koyo, his lordship has been all impatience waiting
for you: pray make haste and come in."

But, in spite of what he said, O Koyo, on account of her virgin
modesty, would not go in. O Kuma, however, who was not quite so
particular, cried out--

"Why, what is the meaning of this? As you've come here, O Koyo, it's a
little late for you to be making a fuss about being shy. Don't be a
little fool, but come in with me at once." And with these words she
caught fast hold of O Koyo's hand, and, pulling her by force into the
room, made her sit down by Genzaburo.

When Genzaburo saw how modest she was, he reassured her, saying--

"Come, what is there to be so shy about? Come a little nearer to me,

"Thank you, sir. How could I, who am such a vile thing, pollute your
nobility by sitting by your side?" And, as she spoke, the blushes
mantled over her face; and the more Genzaburo looked at her, the more
beautiful she appeared in his eyes, and the more deeply he became
enamoured of her charms. In the meanwhile he called for wine and fish,
and all four together made a feast of it. When Chokichi and O Kuma
saw how the land lay, they retired discreetly into another chamber,
and Genzaburo and O Koyo were left alone together, looking at one

"Come," said Genzaburo, smiling, "hadn't you better sit a little
closer to me?"

"Thank you, sir; really I'm afraid."

But Genzaburo, laughing at her for her idle fears, said--

"Don't behave as if you hated me."

"Oh, dear! I'm sure I don't hate you, sir. That would be very rude;
and, indeed, it's not the case. I loved you when I first saw you at
the Adzuma Bridge, and longed for you with all my heart; but I knew
what a despised race I belonged to, and that I was no fitting match
for you, and so I tried to be resigned. But I am very young and
inexperienced, and so I could not help thinking of you, and you alone;
and then Chokichi came, and when I heard what you had said about me, I
thought, in the joy of my heart, that it must be a dream of

And as she spoke these words, blushing timidly, Genzaburo was dazzled
with her beauty, and said---

"Well, you're a clever child. I'm sure, now, you must have some
handsome young lover of your own, and that is why you don't care to
come and drink wine and sit by me. Am I not right, eh?"

"Ah, sir, a nobleman like you is sure to have a beautiful wife at
home; and then you are so handsome that, of course, all the pretty
young ladies are in love with you."

"Nonsense! Why, how clever you are at flattering and paying
compliments! A pretty little creature like you was just made to turn
all the men's heads--a little witch."

"Ah! those are hard things to say of a poor girl! Who could think of
falling in love with such a wretch as I am? Now, pray tell me all
about your own sweetheart: I do so long to hear about her."

"Silly child! I'm not the sort of man to put thoughts into the heads
of fair ladies. However, it is quite true that there is some one whom
I want to marry."

At this O Koyo began to feel jealous.

"Ah!" said she, "how happy that some one must be! Do, pray, tell me
the whole story." And a feeling of jealous spite came over her, and
made her quite unhappy.

Genzaburo laughed as he answered--

"Well, that some one is yourself, and nobody else. There!" and as he
spoke, he gently tapped the dimple on her cheek with his finger; and O
Koyo's heart beat so, for very joy, that, for a little while, she
remained speechless. At last she turned her face towards Genzaburo,
and said--

"Alas! your lordship is only trifling with me, when you know that what
you have just been pleased to propose is the darling wish of my heart.
Would that I could only go into your house as a maid-servant, in any
capacity, however mean, that I might daily feast my eyes on your
handsome face!"

"Ah! I see that you think yourself very clever at hoaxing men, and so
you must needs tease me a little;" and, as he spoke, he took her hand,
and drew her close up to him, and she, blushing again, cried--

"Oh! pray wait a moment, while I shut the sliding-doors."

"Listen to me, O Koyo! I am not going to forget the promise which I
made you just now; nor need you be afraid of my harming you; but take
care that you do not deceive me."

"Indeed, sir, the fear is rather that you should set your heart on
others; but, although I am no fashionable lady, take pity on me, and
love me well and long."

"Of course! I shall never care for another woman but you."

"Pray, pray, never forget those words that you have just spoken."

"And now," replied Genzaburo, "the night is advancing, and, for
to-day, we must part; but we will arrange matters, so as to meet again
in this tea-house. But, as people would make remarks if we left the
tea-house together, I will go out first."

And so, much against their will, they tore themselves from one
another, Genzaburo returning to his house, and O Koyo going home, her
heart filled with joy at having found the man for whom she had pined;

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