Jigoku

Outside of the city there is a still more famous Shintō temple,
Sumiyoshi, dedicated to certain sea-gods who aided the Empress Jingō
to conquer Korea. At Sumiyoshi there are pretty child-priestesses,
and beautiful grounds, and an enormous pond spanned by a bridge so
humped that, to cross it without taking off your shoes, you must cling
to the parapet. At Sakai there is the Buddhist temple of Myōkokuji,
in the garden of which are some very old palm-trees;–one of them,
removed by Nobunaga in the sixteenth century, is said to have cried
out and lamented until it was taken back to the temple. You see the
ground under these palms covered with what looks like a thick, shiny,
disordered mass of fur,–half reddish and half silvery grey. It is not
fur. It is a heaping of millions of needles thrown there by pilgrims
“to feed the palms,” because these trees are said to love iron and to
be strengthened by absorbing its rust.

Speaking of trees, I may mention the Naniwaya “Kasa-matsu,” or
Hat-Pine,–not so much because it is an extraordinary tree as because
it supports a large family who keep a little tea-house on the road
to Sakai. The branches of the tree have been trained out-wards and
downwards over a framework of poles, so that the whole presents the
appearance of an enormous green hat of the shape worn by peasants and
called Kasa. The pine is scarcely six feet high, but covers perhaps
twenty square yards;–its trunk, of course, not being visible at all
from outside the framework supporting the branches. Many people visit
the house to look at the pine and drink a cup of tea; and nearly every
visitor buys some memento of it,–perhaps a woodcut of the tree, or
a printed copy of verses written by some poet in praise of it, or a
girl’s hairpin, the top of which is a perfect little green model ox
the tree,–framework of poles and all,–with one tiny stork perched on
it, The owners of the Naniwaya, as their tea-house is called, are not
only able to make a good living, but to educate their children, by the
exhibition of this tree, and the sale of such mementos.

*

I do not intend to tax my reader’s patience by descriptions of the
other famous temples of Ōsaka,–several of which are enormously old,
and have most curious legends attached to them. But I may venture a
few words about the cemetery of the Temple of One Soul,–or better,
perhaps, the Temple of a Single Mind: Isshinji. The monuments there are
the most extraordinary I ever saw. Near the main gate is the tomb of
a wrestler,–Asahigorō Hachirō. His name is chiseled upon a big disk
of stone, probably weighing a ton; and this disk is supported on the
back of a stone image of a wrestler,–a grotesque figure, with gilded
eyes starting from their sockets, and features apparently distorted
by effort. It is a very queer thing,–half-comical, half-furious of
aspect. Close by is the tomb of one Hirayama Hanibei,–a monument
shaped like a _hyōtan,–_that is to say, like a wine-gourd such as
travelers use for carrying saké. The most usual form of _hyōtan_
resembles that of an hour-glass, except that the lower part is
somewhat larger than the upper; and the vessel can only stand upright
when full or partly full,–so that in a Japanese song the wine-lover is
made to say to his gourd, “_With you I fall._” Apparently the mighty
to drink wine have a district all to themselves in this cemetery; for
there are several other monuments of like form in the same row,–also
one shaped like a very large saké-bottle (_isshōdokkuri_),[5] on which
is inscribed a verse not taken from the sutras. But the oddest monument
of all is a great stone badger, sitting upright, and seeming to strike
its belly with its fore-paws. On the belly is cut a name, Inouyé
Dennosuké, together with the verse:–

Tsuki yo yoshi
Nembutsu tonaite
Hara tsudzumi.

Which means about as follows:–“On fine moonlight-nights, repeating
the Nembutsu, I play the belly-drum.” The flower-vases are in the form
of saké-bottles. Artificial rock-work supports the monument; and here
and there, among the rocks, are smaller figures of badgers, dressed
like Buddhist priests (tanuki-bozu). My readers probably know that
the Japanese tanuki[6] is credited with the power of assuming human
shape, and of making musical sounds like the booming of a hand-drum
by tapping upon its belly. It is said often to disguise itself as
a Buddhist priest for mischievous purposes, and to be very fond of
saké. Of course, such images in a cemetery represent nothing more than
eccentricities, and are judged to be in bad taste. One is reminded
of certain jocose paintings and inscriptions upon Greek and Roman
tombs, expressing in regard to death–or rather in regard to life–a
sentiment, or an affectation of sentiment, repellent to modern feeling.

[Footnote 1: They defend the four quarters of the world. In Japanese
their names are Jikoku, Komoku, Zocho, Bishamon (or Tamon);–in
Sanscrit, Dhritarashtra, Virupaksha, Virudhaka, and Vaisravana,–the
Kuvera of, Brahmanism.]

[Footnote 2: The division of the sect during the seventeenth century
into two branches had a political, not a religious cause; and the
sections remain religiously united. Their abbots are of Imperial
descent, whence their title of Monzeki, or Imperial Offspring.
Travelers may observe that the walls inclosing the temple grounds of
this sect bear the same decorative mouldings as those of the walls of
the Imperial residences.]

[Footnote 3: This has been especially the case since the abrogation of
the civil laws forbidding priests to marry. The wives of the priests
of other sects than the Shinshū are called by a humorous and not very
respectful appellation.]

[Footnote 4: See Professor Chamberlain’s translation of the Kojiki,
section CXXI.]

[Footnote 5: That is, a bottle containing one sho,–about a quart and a
half.]

[Footnote 6: Although _tanuki_ is commonly translated by “badger,” the
creature so called is not a real badger, but a kind of fruit-fox. It is
also termed the “raccoon-faced dog.” The true badger is, however, also
found in Japan.]

V

I said in a former essay that a Japanese city is little more than a
wilderness of wooden sheds, and Ōsaka is no exception. But interiorly
a very large number of the frail wooden dwellings of any Japanese city
are works of art; and perhaps no city possesses more charming homes
than Ōsaka. Kyoto is, indeed, much richer in gardens,–there being
comparatively little space for gardens in Ōsaka; but I am speaking of
the houses only. Exteriorly a Japanese street may appear little better
than a row of wooden barns or stables, but the interior of any dwelling
in it may be a wonder of beauty. Usually the outside of a Japanese
house is not at all beautiful, though it may have a certain pleasing
oddity of form; and in many cases the walls of the rear or sides are
covered with charred boards, of which the blackened and hardened
surfaces are said to resist heat and damp better than any coating of
paint or stucco could do. Except, perhaps, the outside of a coal-shed,
nothing dingier-looking could be imagined. But the other side of the
black walls may be an aesthetic delight. The comparative cheapness of
the residence does not much affect this possibility;–for the Japanese
excel all nations in obtaining the maximum of beauty with the minimum
of cost; while the most industrially advanced of Western peoples–the
practical Americans–have yet only succeeded in obtaining the minimum
of beauty with the maximum of cost! Much about Japanese interiors can
be learned from Morse’s “Japanese Homes;” but even that admirable
book gives only the black-and-white notion of the subject; and more
than half of the charm of such interiors is the almost inexplicable
caress of color. To illustrate Mr. Morse’s work so as to interpret the
colorific charm would be a dearer and a more difficult feat than the
production of Racinet’s “Costumes Historique.” Even thus the subdued
luminosity, the tone of perfect repose, the revelations of delicacy
and daintiness waiting the eye in every nook of chambers seemingly
contrived to catch and keep the feeling of perpetual summer, would
remain unguessed. Five years ago I wrote that a little acquaintance
with the Japanese art of flower arrangement had made it impossible for
me to endure the sight of that vulgarity, or rather brutality, which in
the West we call a “bouquet.” To-day I must add that familiarity with
Japanese interiors has equally disgusted me with Occidental interiors,
no matter how spacious or comfortable or richly furnished. Returning
now to Western life, I should feel like Thomas-the-Rhymer revisiting a
world of ugliness and sorrow after seven years of fairyland.

It is possible, as has been alleged (though I cannot believe it),
that Western artists have little more to learn from the study of
Japanese pictorial art. But I am quite sure that our house-builders
have universes of facts to learn–especially as regards the treatment
and tinting of surfaces–from the study of Japanese interiors. Whether
the countless styles of these interiors can even be classed appears
to me a doubtful question. I do not think that in a hundred thousand
Japanese houses there are two interiors precisely alike (excluding,
of course, the homes of the poorest classes),–for the designer never
repeats himself when he can help it. The lesson he has to teach is the
lesson of perfect taste combined with inexhaustible variety. Taste!
–what a rare thing it is in our Western world!–and how independent of
material,–how intuitive,–how incommunicable to the vulgar! But taste
is a Japanese birthright. It is everywhere present,–though varying
in quality of development according to conditions and the inheritance
depending upon conditions. The average Occidental recognizes only
the commoner forms of it,–chiefly those made familiar by commercial
export. And, as a general rule, what the West most admires in Japanese
conventional taste is thought rather vulgar in Japan. Not that we are
wrong in admiring whatever is beautiful in itself. Even the designs
printed in tints upon a two-cent towel may be really great pictures:
they are sometimes made by excellent artists. But the aristocratic
severity of the best Japanese taste–the exquisite complexity of
its refinements in the determination of proportion, quality, tone,
restraint–has never yet been dreamed of by the West. Nowhere is this
taste so finely exhibited as in private interiors,–particularly in
regard to color. The rules of color in the composition of a set of
rooms are not less exacting: than the rules of color in the matter of
dress,–though permitting considerable variety. The mere tones of a
private house are enough to indicate its owner’s degree of culture.
There is no painting, no varnishing, no wall-papering,–only staining
and polishing of particular parts, and a sort of paper border about
fifteen inches broad fixed along the bottom of a wall to protect it
during cleaning and dusting operations. The plastering may be made
with sands of different hues, or with fragments of shell and nacre, or
with quartz-crystal, or with mica; the surface may imitate granite,
or may sparkle like copper pyrites, or may look exactly like a rich
mass of bark; but, whatever the material, the tint given must show the
same faultless taste that rules in the tints of silks for robes and
girdles. … As yet, all this interior world of beauty–just because it
is an interior world–is closed to the foreign tourist: he can find at
most only suggestions of it in the rooms of such old-fashioned inns or
tea-houses as he may visit in the course of his travels.

*

I wonder how many foreign travelers understand the charm of a Japanese
inn, or even think how much is done to please them, not merely in
the matter of personal attentions, but in making beauty for their
eyes. Multitudes write of their petty vexations,–their personal
acquaintance with fleas, their personal dislikes and discomforts;
but how many write of the charm of that alcove where every day fresh
flowers are placed,–arranged as no European florist could ever learn
to arrange flowers,–and where there is sure to be some object of real
art, whether in bronze, lacquer, or porcelain, together with a picture
suited to the feeling of the time and season? These little aesthetic
gratifications, though never charged for, ought to be kindly remembered
when the gift of “tea-money” is made. I have been in hundreds of
Japanese hotels, and I remember only one in which I could find nothing
curious or pretty,–a ramshackle shelter hastily put up to catch custom
at a newly-opened railway station.

A word about the alcove of my room in Osaka:–The wall was covered
only with a mixture of sand and metallic filings of some sort, but
it looked like a beautiful surface of silver ore. To the pillar was
fastened a bamboo cup containing a pair of exquisite blossoming sprays
of wistaria,–one pink and the other white. The kakemono–made with a
few very bold strokes by a master-brush–pictured two enormous crabs
about to fight after vainly trying to get out of each other’s way;–and
the humor of the thing was enhanced by a few Chinese characters
signifying, _Wōko-sékai,_ or, “Everything goes crookedly in this world.”

VII

My last day in Ōsaka was given to shopping,–chiefly in the districts
of the toy-makers and of the silk merchants. A Japanese acquaintance,
himself a shopkeeper, took me about, and showed me extraordinary things
until my eyes ached. We went to a famous silk-house,–a tumultuous
place, so crowded that we had some trouble to squeeze our way to the
floor-platform, which, in every Japanese shop, serves at once for
chairs and counter. Scores of barefooted light-limbed boys were running
over it, bearing bundles of merchandise to customers;–for in such
shops there is no shelving of stock. The Japanese salesman never leaves
his squatting-place on the mats; but, on learning what you want, he
shouts an order, and boys presently run to you with armfuls of samples.
After you have made your choice, the goods are rolled up again by the
boys, and carried back into the fire-proof storehouses behind the shop.
At the time of our visit, the greater part of the matted floor-space
was one splendid shimmering confusion of tossed silks and velvets of a
hundred colors and a hundred prices. Near the main entrance an elderly
superintendent, plump and jovial of aspect like the God of Wealth,
looked after arriving customers. Two keen-eyed men, standing upon an
elevation in the middle of the shop, and slowly turning round and round
in opposite directions, kept watch for thieves; and other watchers were
posted at the side–doors. (Japanese shop-thieves, by the way, are very
clever; and I am told that nearly every large store loses considerably
by them in the course of the year.) In a side-wing of the building,
under a low skylight, I saw busy ranks of bookkeepers, cashiers, and
correspondents squatting before little desks less than two feet high.
Each of the numerous salesmen was attending to many customers at
once. The rush of business was big; and the rapidity with which the
work was being done testified to the excellence of the organization
established. I asked how many persons the firm employed, and my friend
replied:–

“Probably about two hundred here; there are several branch houses. In
this shop the work is very hard; but the working-hours are shorter than
in most of the silk-houses,–not more than twelve hours a day.”

“What about salaries?” I inquired.

“No salaries.”

“Is all the work of this firm done without pay?”

“Perhaps one or two of the very cleverest salesmen may get
something,–not exactly a salary, but a little special remuneration
every month; and the old superintendent–(he has been forty years in
the house)–gets a salary. The rest get nothing but their food.”

“Good food?”

“No, very cheap, coarse food. After a man has served his time
here,–fourteen or fifteen years,–he may be helped to open a small
store of his own.”

“Are the conditions the same in all the shops of Osaka?”

“Yes,–everywhere the same. But now many of the detchi are graduates
of commercial schools. Those sent to a commercial school begin their
apprenticeship much later; and they are said not to make such good
detchi as those taught from childhood.”

“A Japanese clerk in a foreign store is much better off.”

“We do not think so,” answered my friend very positively. “Some who
speak English well, and have learned the foreign way of doing business,
may get fifty or sixty dollars a month for seven or eight hours’ work
a day. But they are not treated the same way as they are treated in
a Japanese house. Clever men do not like to work under foreigners.
Foreigners used to be very cruel to their Japanese clerks and servants.”

“But not now?” I queried.

“Perhaps not often. They have found that it is dangerous. But they
used to beat and kick them. Japanese think it shameful to even speak
unkindly to detchi or servants. In a house like this there is no
unkindness. The owners and the superintendents never speak roughly. You
see how very hard all these men and boys are working without pay. No
foreigner could get Japanese to work like that, even for big wages. I
have worked in foreign houses, and I know.”

*

It is not exaggeration to say that most of the intelligent service
rendered in Japanese trade and skilled industry is unsalaried. Perhaps
one third of the business work of the country is done without wages;
the relation between master and servant being one of perfect trust on
both sides, and absolute obedience being assured by the simplest of
moral conditions. This fact was the fact most deeply impressed upon me
during my stay in Osaka.

I found myself wondering about it while the evening train to Nara was
bearing me away from the cheery turmoil of the great metropolis. I
continued to think of it while watching the deepening of the dusk over
the leagues of roofs,–over the mustering of factory chimneys forever
sending up their offering of smoke to the shrine of good Nintoku.
Suddenly above the out-twinkling of countless lamps,–above the white
star-points of electric lights,–above the growing dusk itself,–I
saw, rising glorified into the last red splendor of sunset, the
marvelous old pagoda of Tennōji. And I asked myself whether the faith
it symbolized had not helped to create that spirit of patience and love
and trust upon which have been founded all the wealth and energy and
power of the mightiest city of Japan.

VIII

BUDDHIST ALLUSIONS IN JAPANESE FOLK-SONG

Perhaps only a Japanese representative of the older culture could fully
inform us to what degree the mental soil of the race has been saturated
and fertilized by Buddhist idealism. At all events, no European could
do so; for to understand the whole relation of Far-Eastern religion
to Far-Eastern life would require, not only such scholarship, but
also such experience as no European could gain in a lifetime. Yet
for even the Western stranger there are everywhere signs of what
Buddhism has been to Japan in the past. All the arts and most of the
industries repeat Buddhist legends to the eye trained in symbolism;
and there is scarcely an object of handiwork possessing any beauty or
significance of form–from the plaything of a child to the heirloom
of a prince–which does not in some way proclaim the ancient debt to
Buddhism of the craft that made it. One may discern Buddhist thoughts
in the cheap cotton prints from an Osaka mill not less than in the
figured silks of Kyoto. The reliefs upon an iron kettle, or the
elephant-heads of bronze making the handles of a shopkeeper’s _hibachi_
the patterns of screen-paper, or the commonest ornamental woodwork
of a gateway–the etchings upon a metal pipe, or the enameling upon
a costly vase,–may all relate, with equal eloquence, the traditions
of faith. There are reflections or echoes of Buddhist teaching in the
composition of a garden;–in the countless ideographs of the long
vistas of shop-signs;–in the wonderfully expressive names given to
certain fruits and flowers;–in the appellations of mountains, capes,
waterfalls, villages,–even of modern railway stations. And the new
civilization would not yet seem to have much affected the influence
thus manifested. Trains and steamers now yearly carry to famous shrines
more pilgrims than visited them ever before in a twelvemonth;–the
temple bells still, in despite of clocks and watches, mark the
passing of time for the millions;–the speech of the people is still
poetized with Buddhist utterances;–literature and drama still teem
with Buddhist expressions;–and the most ordinary voices of the
street–songs of children playing, a chorus of laborers at their toil,
even cries of itinerant street-venders–often recall to me some story
of saints and Bodhisattvas, or the text of some sutra.

Such an experience first gave me the idea of making a collection of
songs containing Buddhist expressions or allusions. But in view of
the extent of the subject I could not at once decide where to begin.
A bewildering variety of Japanese songs–a variety of which the mere
nomenclature would occupy pages–offers material of this description.
Among noteworthy kinds may be mentioned the _Utai,_ dramatic songs,
mostly composed by high priests, of which probably no ten lines are
without some allusion to Buddhism;–the _Naga-uta,_ songs often of
extraordinary length;–and the _Jōruri,_ whole romances in verse, with
which professional singers can delight their audiences for five or six
hours at a time. The mere dimension of such compositions necessarily
excluded them from my plan; but there remained a legion of briefer
forms to choose among. I resolved at last to limit my undertaking
mainly to _dodoitsu_,–little songs of twenty-six syllables only,
arranged in four lines (7, 7, 7, 5). They are more regular in
construction than the street-songs treated of in a former paper; but
they are essentially popular, and therefore more widely representative
of Buddhist influences than many superior kinds of composition could
be. Out of a very large number collected for me, I have selected
between forty and fifty as typical of the class.

*

Perhaps those pieces which reflect the ideas of preëxistence and of
future rebirths will prove especially interesting to the Western
reader,–much less because of poetical worth than because of
comparative novelty. We have very little English verse of any class
containing fancies of this kind; but they swarm in Japanese poetry
even as commonplaces and conventionalisms. Such an exquisite thing
as Rossetti’s “Sudden Light,”–bewitching us chiefly through the
penetrative subtlety of a thought anathematized by all our orthodoxies
for eighteen hundred years,–could interest a Japanese only as the
exceptional rendering, by an Occidental, of fancies and feelings
familiar to the most ignorant peasant. Certainly no one will be able to
find in these Japanese verses–or, rather, in my own wretchedly prosy
translations of them–even a hint of anything like the ghostly delicacy
of Rossetti’s imagining:–

I have been here before,–
But when or how I cannot tell:
I know the grass beyond the door,
The sweet, keen smell,
The sighing sound, the lights along the shore.

You have been mine before,–
How long ago I may not know:
But just when at that swallow’s soar
Your neck turned so,
Some veil did fall,–I knew it all of yore.

Yet what a queer _living_ difference between such enigmatically
delicate handling of thoughts classed as forbidden fruit in the Western
Eden of Dreams and the every-day Japanese utterances that spring
directly out of ancient Eastern faith!–

_Love, it is often said, has nothing to do with reason._
_The cause of ours must be some_ En _in a previous birth._[1]

[Footnote 1:

Iro wa shian no
Hoka to-wa iédo,
Koré mo saki-sho no
En de arō.

“En” is a Buddhist word signifying affinity,–relation of cause and
effect from life to life.]

_Even the knot of the rope tying our boats together_
_Knotted was long ago by some love in a former birth._

_If the touching even of sleeves be through En of a former
existence,_
_Very much deeper must be the_ En _that unites us now!_[2]

[Footnote 2:

Sodé suri-ō no mo
Tashō no en yo,
Mashité futari ga
Fukai naka.

Allusion is here made to the old Buddhist proverb: _Sodé no furi-awasé
mo tashō no en,–_”Even the touching of sleeves in passing is caused by
some affinity operating from former lives.”]

Kwahō[3] _this life must be,–this dwelling with one so tender;_
_–I am reaping now the reward of deeds in a former birth!_

[Footnote 3: The Buddhist word “Kwahō” is commonly used instead of
other synonyms for Karma (such as ingwa, innen, etc.), to signify the
good, rather than the bad results of action in previous lives. But it
is sometimes used in both meanings. Here there seems to be an allusion
to the proverbial expression, _Kwahō no yoi hito_ (lit.: a person of
good Kwahō), meaning a fortunate individual.]

Many songs of this class refer to the customary vow which lovers
make to belong to each other for more lives than one,–a vow perhaps
originally inspired by the Buddhist aphorism,–

_Oya-ko wa, is-sé;_
_Fūfu wa, ni-sé;_
_Shujū wa, san-zé._

“The relation of parent and child is for one life; that of wife and
husband, for two lives; that of master and servant, for three lives.”
Although the tender relation is thus limited to the time of two lives,
the vow–(as Japanese dramas testify, and as the letters of those who
kill themselves for love bear witness)–is often passionately made
for seven. The following selections show a considerable variety of
tone,–ranging from the pathetic to the satirical,–in the treatment of
this topic:

_I have cut my hair for his sake; but the deeper relation between us_
_Cannot be cut in this, nor yet in another life._[4]

[Footnote 4:

Kami wa kitté mo
Ni-sé made kaketa
Fukai enishi wa
Kiru mono ka?

Literally: “Hair have-cut although, two existences until, deep
relation, cut-how-can-it-be?” By the mention of the hair-cutting
we know the speaker is a woman. Her husband, or possibly betrothed
lover, is dead; and, according to the Buddhist custom, she signifies
her desire to remain faithful to his memory by the sacrifice of her
hair. For detailed information on this subject see, in my _Glimpses of
Unfamiliar Japan,_ the chapter, “Of Women’s Hair.”]

_She looks at the portrait of him to whom for two lives she is
promised:_
_Happy remembrances come, and each brings a smile to her
face._[5]

[Footnote 5:

Ni-sé to chigirishi
Shashin we nagamé
Omoi-idashité
Warai-gao.

Lit.: “Two existences that made alliance, photograph look-at, thinking
bring-out smiling face.” The use of the term _shashin,_ photograph,
shows that the poem is not old.]

_If in this present life we never can hope for union,_
_Then we shall first keep house in the Lotos-Palace beyond._[6]

[Footnote 6:

Totémo kono yo dé
Sowaré-nu naraba
Hasu no uténa dé
Ara sėtai.

Lit.: “By-any-means, this-world-in, cannot-live-together if, Lotos-of
Palace-in, new-housekeeping.” It is with this thought that lovers
voluntarily die together; and the song might be called a song of
_jōshi._]

_Have we not spoken the vow that binds for a double existence?_
_If we must separate now, I can only wish to die._

_There!–oh, what shall we do?… Pledged for a double
existence,–_
_And now, as we sit together, the string of the samisen snaps!_[7]

[Footnote 7: Among singing-girls it is believed that the snapping of a
samisen-string under such circumstances as those indicated in the above
song is an omen of coming separation.]

_He woos by teaching the Law of Cause and Effect for three lives,_
_And makes a contract for two–the crafty-smiling priest!_[8]

[Footnote 8: This song is of a priest who breaks the vow of celibacy.]

Every mortal has lived and is destined to live countless lives; yet the
happy moments of any single existence are not therefore less precious
in themselves:–

_Not to have met one night is verily cause for sorrow;_
_Since twice in a single birth the same night never comes._

But even as a summer unusually warm is apt to herald a winter of
exceptional severity, so too much happiness in this life may signify
great suffering in the next:–

_Always I suffer thus!… Methinks, in my last existence._
_Too happy I must have been,–did not suffer enough._

Next in point of exotic interest to the songs expressing belief in
preëxistence and rebirth, I think I should place those treating of the
doctrine of _ingwa,_ or Karma. I offer some free translations from
these, together with one selection from a class of compositions more
elaborate and usually much longer than the _dodoitsu,_ called _hauta._
In the original, at least, my selection from the _hauta–_which
contains a charming simile about the firefly–is by far the prettiest:–

_Weep not!–turn to me!… Nay, all my suspicions vanish!_
_Forgive me those words unkind: some_ ingwa _controlled my tongue!_

Evidently this is the remorseful pleading of a jealous lover. The next
might be the answer of the girl whose tears he had caused to flow:

_I cannot imagine at all by what strange manner of ingwa_
_Came I to fall in love with one so unkind as you!_

Or she might exclaim:–

_Is this the turning of_ En?–_am I caught in the Wheel of
Karma?_
_That, alas! is a wheel not to be moved from the rut!_[9]

[Footnote 9:

Meguru en kaya?
Kuruma no watashi
Hiku ni hikarénu
Kono ingwa.

There is a play on words in the original which I have not attempted
to render. The idea is of an unhappy match–either betrothal or
marriage–from which the woman wishes to withdraw when too late.]

A more remarkable reference to the Wheel of Karma is the following:–

_Father and mother forbade, and so I gave up my lover;_
_–Yet still, with the whirl of the Wheel, the thought of him comes
and goes._[10]

[Footnote 10:

Oya no iken dé
Akirameta no we
Mata mo rin-yé dé
Omoi-dasu.

The Buddhist word _Rin-yé,_ or _Rinten,_ has the meaning of “turning
the Wheel,”–another expression for passing from birth to birth. The
Wheel here is the great Circle of Illusion,–the whirl of Karma.]

This is a _hauta_:–

_Numberless insects there are that call from dawn to evening,_
_Crying, “I love! I love!”–but the Firefly’s silent passion,_
_Making its body burn, is deeper than all their longing._
_Even such is my love … yet I cannot think through what_ ingwa
_I opened my heart–alas!–to a being not sincere!_[11]

[Footnote 11:

Kaäi, kaäi to
Naku mushi yori mo
Nakanu hotaru ga
Mi we kogasu.
Nanno ingwa dé
Jitsu naki hito ni
Shin we akashité,–
Aa kuyashi!

Lit.: “‘I-love-I-love’-saying-cry-insects than, better
never-cry-firefly, body scorch! What Karma because-of,
sincerity-not-is-man to, inmost-mind opened?–ah! regret!” … It was
formerly believed that the firefly’s light really burned its own body.]

If the foregoing seem productions possible only to our psychological
antipodes, it is quite otherwise with a group of folk-songs reflecting
the doctrine of Impermanency. Concerning the instability of all
material things, and the hollowness of all earthly pleasures, Christian
and Buddhist thought are very much in accord. The great difference
between them appears only when we compare their teaching as to things
ghostly,–and especially as to the nature of the Ego. But the Oriental
doctrine that the Ego itself is an impermanent compound, and that the
Self is not the true Consciousness, rarely finds expression in these
popular songs. For the common people the Self exists: it is a real
(though multiple) personality that passes from birth to birth. Only the
educated Buddhist comprehends the deeper teaching that what we imagine
to be Self is wholly illusion,–a darkening veil woven by Karma; and
that there is no Self but the Infinite Self, the eternal Absolute.
In the following _dodoitsu_ will be found mostly thoughts or emotions
according with universal experience:–

_Gathering clouds to the moon;–storm and rain to the flowers:_
_Somehow this world of woe never is just as we like._[12]

[Footnote 12:

Tsuki ni murakumo,
Hana ni wa arashi:
Tokaku uki-yo wa
Mama naranu.

This song especially refers to unhappy love, and contains the
substance of two Buddhist proverbs: _Tsuki ni murakumo, hana ni kazé_
(cloud-masses to the moon; wind to flowers); and _Mama ni naranu wa
uki-yo no narai_ (to be disappointed is the rule in this miserable
world). “Uki-yo” (this fleeting or unhappy world) is one of the
commonest Buddhist terms in use.]

_Almost as soon as they bloom, the scented flowers of the plum-tree_
_By the wind of this world of change are scattered and blown away._

_Thinking to-morrow remains, thou heart’s frail flower-of-cherry?_
_How knowest whether this night the tempest will not come?_[13]

[Footnote 13:

Asu ari to
Omō kokoro no
Ada-zakura:
Yo wa ni arashi no
Fukanu monokawa?

Lit.: “To-morrow-is that think heart-of perishable-cherry flower:
this-night-in-storm blow-not, is-it-certain?”]

_Shadow and shape alike melt and flow back to nothing:_
_He who knows this truth is the Daruma of snow._[14]

[Footnote 14:

Kagé mo katachi mo
Kiyuréba moto no
Midzu to satoru zo
Yuki-Daruma.

Lit.: “Shadow and shape also, if-melt-away, original-water
is,–that-understands Snow-Daruma.” Daruma (Dharma), the twenty-eighth
patriarch of the Zen sect, is said to have lost his legs through
remaining long in the posture of meditation; and many legless
toy-figures, which are so balanced that they will always assume an
upright position however often placed upside-down, are called by his
name. The snow-men made by Japanese children have the same traditional
form.–The Japanese friend who helped me to translate these verses,
tells me that a ghostly meaning attaches to the word “Kagé” [shadow] in
the above;–this would give a much more profound signification to the
whole verse.]

_As the moon of the fifteenth night, the heart till the age fifteen:_
_Then the brightness wanes, and the darkness comes with love._[15]

[Footnote 15: According to the old calendar, there was always a full
moon on the fifteenth of the month. The Buddhist allusion in the verse
is to _mayoi,_ the illusion of passion, which is compared to a darkness
concealing the Right Way.]

_All things change, we are told, in this world of change and sorrow;_
_But love’s way never changes of promising never to change._[16]

[Footnote 16:

Kawaru uki-yo ni
Kawaranu mono wa
Kawarumai to no
Koi no michi.

Lit.: “Change changeable-world-in, does-not-change that-which,
‘We-will-never-change’-saying of Love-of Way.”]

_Cruel the beautiful flash,–utterly heartless that lightning!_ _Before
one can look even twice it vanishes wholly away!_[17]

[Footnote 17:

Honni tsurénai
Ano inadzuma wa
Futa mé minu uchi
Kiyété yuku.

The Buddhist saying, _Inadzuma no hikari, ishi no hi_ (lightning-flash
and flint-spark),–symbolizing the temporary nature of all
pleasures,–is here playfully referred to. The song complains of a too
brief meeting with sweet-heart or lover.]

_His very sweetness itself makes my existence a burden!_
_Truly this world of change is a world of constant woe!_[18]

[Footnote 18: Words of a loving but jealous woman, thus interpreted
by my Japanese friend: “The more kind he is, the more his kindness
overwhelms me with anxiety lest he be equally tender to other girls who
may also fall in love with him.”]

_Neither for youth nor age is fixed the life of the body;_
_–Bidding me wait for a time is the word that forever divides._[19]

[Footnote 19:

Rō-shō fujō no
Mi dé ari nagara,
Jisetsu maté to wa
Kiré-kotoba.

Lit.: “Old-young not-fixed-of body being, time-wait to-say,
cutting-word.” Ro-shō fujō is a Buddhist phrase. The meaning of the
song is: “Since all things in this world are uncertain, asking me to
wait for our marriage-day means that you do not really love me;–for
either of us might die before the time you speak of.”]

_Only too well I know that to meet will cause more weeping;_[20]
_Yet never to meet at all were sorrow too great to bear._

[Footnote 20: Allusion is made to the Buddhist text, _Shōja hitsu
metsu, esha jōri_ (“Whosoever is born must die, and all who meet
must as surely part”), and to the religious phrase, _Ai betsu ri ku_
(“Sorrow of parting and pain of separation”).]

_Too joyful in union to think, we forget that the smiles of the
evening_
_Sometimes themselves become the sources of morning-tears._

Yet, notwithstanding the doctrine of impermanency, we are told in
another _dodoitsu_ that–

_He who was never bewitched by the charming smile of a woman,_
_A wooden Buddha is he–a Buddha of bronze or stone!_[21]

[Footnote 21: Much more amusing in the original:–

Adana é-gao ni
Mayowanu mono wa
Ki-Butsu,–kana-Butsu,–
Ishi-botoké
“Charming-smile-by bewildered-not, he-as-for, wood-Buddha,
metal-Buddha, stone-Buddha!” The term “Ishi-botoké”
especially refers to the stone images of the Buddha
placed in cemeteries.–This song is sung in every part of
Japan; I have heard it many times in different places.]

And why a Buddha of wood, or bronze, or stone? Because the living
Buddha was not so insensible, as we are assured, with jocose
irreverence, in the following:–

_”Forsake this fitful world”!_–

{_Lord Buddha’s_}
_that was_ _or_ _teaching!_
{_upside-down_ }

_And Ragora,[22] son of his loins?–was he forgotten indeed?_

There is an untranslatable pun in the original, which, if written in
Romaji, would run thus:–

Uki-yo we sutéyo t’a
{Shaka Sama}
Sorya yo
{saka-sama }
Ragora to iū ko we
Wasurété ka?

_Shakamuni_ is the Japanese rendering of “Sakyamuni;” “Shaka Sama” is
therefore “Lord Sakya,” or “Lord Buddha.” But _saka-sama_ is a Japanese
word meaning “topsy-turvy,” “upside down;” and the difference between
the pronunciation of Shaka Sama and _saka-sama_ is slight enough to
have suggested the pun. Love in suspense is not usually inclined to
reverence.

[Footnote 22: Râhula.]

_Even while praying together in front of the tablets ancestral,_
_Lovers find chance to murmur prayers never meant for the dead!_[23]

And as for interrupters:–

_Hateful the wind or rain that ruins the bloom of flowers:_
_Even more hateful far who obstructs the way of love._

Yet the help of the Gods is earnestly besought:–

_I make my_ hyaku-dō, _traveling Love’s dark pathway._
_Ever praying to meet the owner of my heart._[24]

[Footnote 23:

Ekō suru toté
Hotoké no maé yé
Futari mukaité,
Konabé daté.

Lit.: “Repeat prayers saying, dead-of-presence-in twain
facing,–small-pan cooking!” _Hotoké_ means a dead person as well
as a Buddha. (See my _Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan:_ “The Household
Shrine”)-_Konabé-daté_ is an idiomatic expression signifying a
lovers’ tête-à-tête. It is derived from the phrase, _Chin-chin kamo
nabé_(“cooking a wild duck in a pan”),–the idea suggested being that
of the pleasure experienced by an amorous couple in eating out of the
same dish. _Chin-chin,_ an onomatope, expresses the sound of the gravy
boiling.]

[Footnote 24: To perform the rite called “o-hyaku-dō” means to make one
hundred visits to a temple, saying a prayer each time. The expression
“dark way of Love” _(koi no yami_ or _yamiji)_ is a Buddhist phrase;
love, being due to _mayoi,_ or illusion, is a state of spiritual
darkness. The term “owner of my heart” is an attempted rendering of
the Japanese word _nushi,_ signifying “master,” “owner,”–often, also,
“landlord,”–and, in love-matters, the lord or master of the affection
inspired.]

The interest attaching to the following typical group of love-songs
will be found to depend chiefly upon the Buddhist allusions:–

_In the bed of the River of Souls, or in waiting alone at evening,_
_The pain differs nothing at all: to a mountain the pebble grows._[25]

_Who furthest after illusion wanders on Love’s dark pathway_
_Is ever the clearest-seeing,[26] not the simple or dull._

[Footnote 25:

Sai-no-kawara to
Nushi matsu yoi wa
Koishi, koishi ga
Yama to naru.

A more literal translation would be: “In the Sai-no-Kawara (‘Dry bed
of the River of Souls’) and in the evening when waiting for the loved
one, ‘_Koishi, Koishi_’ becomes a mountain.” There is a delicate pun
here,–a play on the word _Koishi,_ which, as pronounced, though not
as written, may mean either “a small stone,” or “longing to see.” In
the bed of the phantom river, Sai-no-Kawa, the ghosts of children are
obliged to pile up little stones, the weight of which increases so as
to tax their strength to the utmost. There is a reference here also
to a verse in the Buddhist _wasan_ of Jizō, describing the crying of
the children for their parents: _”Chichi koishi! haha koishi!_” (See
_Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan,_ vol. i. pp. 59-61.)]

[Footnote 26: Clearest-sighted,–that is, in worldly matters.]

_Coldly seen from without our love looks utter folly:_
_Who never has felt_ mayoi _never could understand!_

_Countless the men must be who dwell in three thousand worlds;_
_Yet among them all is none worthy to change for mine._[27]

_However fickle I seem, my heart is never unfaithful:_
_Out of the slime itself, spotless the lotos grows._[28]

_So that we stay together, even the Hell of the Blood Lake–_
_Even the Mountain of Swords–will signify nothing at all?_[29]

[Footnote 27:

San-zen sékai ni
Otoko wa arédo,
Nushi ni mi-kayeru
Hito wa nai.

“San-zen sékai,” the three thousand worlds, is a common
Buddhist expression. Literally translated, the above song runs:
“Three-thousand-worlds-in men are, but lover-to-exchange person is
not.”]

[Footnote 28: The familiar Buddhist simile is used more significantly
here than the Western reader might suppose from the above rendering.
These are supposed to be the words either of a professional
singing-girl or of a _jorō_. Her calling is derisively termed a
_doro-midzu kagyō_ (“foul-water occupation”); and her citation of
the famous Buddhist comparison in self-defense is particularly, and
pathetically, happy.]

[Footnote 29:

Chi-no-Iké-Jigoku mo,
Tsurugi-no-Yama mo,
Futari-dzuré nara
Itoi ‘a sénu.

The Hell of the Blood-Lake is a hell for women; and the Mountain of
Swords is usually depicted in Buddhist prints as a place of infernal
punishment for men in especial.]

_Not yet indeed is my body garbed in the ink-black habit;_
_–But as for this heart bereaved, already it is a nun._[30]

_My hair, indeed, is uncut; but my heart has become a religious;_
_A nun it shall always be till the hour I meet him again._

But even the priest or nun is not always exempt from the power of
_mayoi_:–

_I am wearing the sable garb,–and yet, through illusion of longing,_
_Ever I lose my way,–knowing not whither or where!_

So far, my examples have been principally chosen from the more serious
class of _dodoitsu._ But in _dodoitsu_ of a lighter class the Buddhist
allusions are perhaps even more frequent. The following group of five
will serve for specimens of hundreds:–

[Footnote 30: In the original much more pretty and much more simple:–

Sumi no koromo ni
Mi wa yatsusanedo,
Kokoro hitotsu wa
Ama-hōshi.

“Ink-black-_koromo_ [priest’s or nun’s outer robe] in, body not clad,
but heart-one nun.” _Hitotsu,_ “one,” also means “solitary,” “forlorn,”
“bereaved.” _Ama hōshi,_ lit.: “nun-priest.”]

_Never can be recalled the word too quickly spoken:_
_Therefore with Emma’s face the lover receives the prayer._[31]

_Thrice did I hear that prayer with Buddha’s face; but hereafter_
_My face shall be Emma’s face because of too many prayers._

_Now they are merry together; but under their boat is_ Jigoku.[32]
_Blow quickly, thou river-wind,–blow a typhoon for my sake!_

_Vainly, to make him stay, I said that the crows were night crows;_[33]–
_The bell of the dawn peals doom,–the bell that cannot lie._

[Footnote 31: The implication is that he has hastily promised more
than he wishes to perform. Emma, or Yemma (Sansc. Yama), is the Lord
of Hell and Judge of Souls; and, as depicted in Buddhist sculpture
and painting, is more than fearful to look upon. There is an evident
reference in this song to the Buddhist proverb: _Karu-toki no
Jizō-gao; nasu-toki no Emma-gao_ (“Borrowing-time, the face of Jizō;
repaying-time, the face of Emma”).]

[Footnote 32: “Jigoku” is the Buddhist name for various hells (Sansc.
_narakas)._ The allusion here is to the proverb, _Funa-ita ichi-mai
shita wa Jigoku:_ “Under [_the thickness of] a_ single boat-plank is
hell,”–referring to the perils of the sea. This song is a satire on
jealousy; and the boat spoken of is probably a roofed pleasure-boat,
such as excursions are made into the sound of music.]

[Footnote 33: _Tsuki-yo-garasu,_ lit.: “moon-night crows.” Crows
usually announce the dawn by their cawing; but sometimes on moonlight
nights they caw at all hours from sunset to sunrise. The bell referred
to is the bell of some Buddhist temple: the _aké-no-kane,_ or
“dawn-bell,” being, in all parts of Japan, sounded from every Buddhist
_tera._ There is a pun in the original;–the expression _tsukenai,_
“cannot _tell_ (a lie),” might also be interpreted phonetically as
“cannot _strike_ [a bell].”]


_This my desire: To kill the crows of three thousand worlds,_
_And then to repose in peace with the owner of my heart!_[34]

[Footnote 34:

San-zen sékai no
Karasu we koroshi
Nushi to soi-né ga
Shité mitai
]

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