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Tradition says that writing was unknown in old Japan, so that all people, whether high or low, youthful or aged, handed down from hoary antiquity their sacred traditions verbally among themselves, memorizing them from one generation to another. When, however, the art of writing was introduced, the Japanese began to discard the old simple way of transmitting orally their family traditions under the prevailing influence of the new tendency to ostentation and frivolity which caused the people to revolt against the ancient simplicity and despise those who remained faithful to the old mode of oral transmission. Hence change after change occurred in the traditional accounts they handed down during long centuries, and, obviously, no one nowadays is competent to decide the true origin and the exact nature of those cherished venerable traditions. Even though p. 16 there certainly exist some offical histories and private family records which describe ancient things as they actually were, yet Your Imperial Majesty’s humble servant Hironari finds that there still survive some others not mentioned in those written documents, which would probably by degrees sink into oblivion, unless Your Imperial Majesty’s humble servant Hironari make so bold as to endeavour to bring them to light. The gracious message which Your Imperial Majesty was pleased to grant your humble servant has induced him gratefully to avail himself of this opportunity to submit to the Throne all the historical details that have been handed down and preserved in his family,—but which, nevertheless, to his great regret have not yet been published. Therefore now, animated by the spirit of righteous indignation, burning so long within him, he ventures to record his own dear old family tradition:—
According to one tradition, when Heaven and Earth began, the two Gods, Izanagi or the Divine Male and Izanami or the Divine Female, having entered into conjugal relations begat the Great-Eight-Island-Country,1* its mountains and rivers, trees and herbs, the Sun-Goddess2 and the Moon-God,3 and finally the God Susano-O, the Impetuous Male God.4
This God Susano-O, however, wept and wailed so much that he caused people to die untimely deaths and the mountain greens to wither. Therefore his Divine Parents wrathfully decreed: p. 17 “Now that thou art so exeeedingly wicked, thou shalt no longer remain with us, but must descend to the Ne-no-Kuni or Underworld.”
Another legend says that when Heaven and Earth separated the names of the Gods who were born in the midst of Heaven were, (1) Ame-no-Minakanushi-no-Kami5 or the Divine Lord of the Very Centre of Heaven, (2) Takami-Musubi-no-Kami6 or the Divine Male (or Lofty) Producer (otherwise known as Sumeragamutsu-Kamurogi-no-Mikoto7 or the Divine Ancestor),* (3) Kamumi-Musubi-no-Kami or the Divine Female Producer (otherwise called Sumeragamutsu-Kamuromi-no-Mikoto or the Divine Ancestress, whose son, Ame-no-Koyane-no-Mikoto, became the ancestor of the Nakatomi family of Asomi rank8).
Takuhatachichi-Hime-no-Mikoto (Mother of the heavenly ancestor Amatsu-Hiko-no-Mikoto9) was the daughter of Takami-Musubi-no-Kami, and Ame-no-Oshihi-no-Mikoto (Ancestor of the Ōtomo family of Sukune rank10) and Ame-no-Futotama-no-Mikoto (Ancestor of the Imbe family of Sukune rank) were his sons. Among the adherents of Futotama-no-Mikoto are Ame-no-Hiwashi-no-Mikoto (Ancestor of the Imbe family of Awa [阿波] Province), Taokiho-Oi-no-Mikoto11 (Ancestor of the Imbe family of Sanuki Province), Hikosashiri-no-Mikoto (Ancestor of the Imbe family of Ki-I Province), Kushi-Akarutama-no-Mikoto12 (Ancestor of the p. 18 Tamatsukuri family of Izumo Province), and Ame-no-Mahitotsu-no-Mikoto (Ancestor of the Imbe family of the Tsukushi and Ise Provinces). When Susano-O-no-Kami was ascending to Heaven, in order to bid farewell to the Sun-Goddess (Amaterasu-Ō-Mikami), Kushi-Akarutama-no-Mikoto met him on the way and offered him some sacred large curved jewels. Susano-O-no-Kami accepted the gift, and presented the jewels to the Sun-Goddess, and thus established a Covenant between those two deities, and by virtue of those jewels13, the child Akatsu-no-Mikoto,14 one of the Heavenly Ancestors, was born. Amaterasu-Ō-Mikami brought up this child, Akatsu-no-Mikoto, with maternal affection and especial care, frequently carrying it under her protecting arms. So, the beloved child was called “wakigo.” This word denotes a child held under its mother’s arm (the current Japanese term for an infant, “wakago,” is derived from the word “wakigo”).
When Susano-O-no-Kami’s conduct towards Amaterasu-Ō-Mikami became also excessively rude and he often resorted to one or another form of violence, such as breaking down the divisions of the rice-fields; filling up the irrigating channels; opening the flood-gate of the sluices; sowing seed over again; erecting rods in the rice-fields15; flaying live animals backwards, and spreading excrement over the doors16 (When the Sun-Goddess was toiling in her rice-fields, Susano-O-no-Kami would stealthily creep there and erect rods in order to demonstrate p. 19 his right of ownership over the fields; sowing seed again in the fields which had been already sown by Amaterasu-Ō-Mikami, so as to injure her first sown seed, thereby causing the quality of the rice to deteriorate; breaking down the low, narrow dykes, which divide rice fields from each other; filling up the channels of ditches through which the Sun-Goddess made the streams of water flow in order to irrigate the rice plants, mischievously leaving open the flood-gates of the sluices when unnecessary. For example, when Amaterasu-Ō-Mikami was about to celebrate the Nīnae-Matsuri or Autumnal Harvest Festival, Susano-O-no-Kami sacrilegiously polluted her Festival-Hall by spreading excreta upon the doors of her sacred hall, and while the Goddess was occupied in weaving, Susano-O-no-Kami flayed a living colt backwards and flung it into her sacred hall. Thus one readily sees that the origin of both agriculture and the art of weaving dates back to the Divine Age. Susano-O-no-Kami’s misdeeds are styled “heavenly offences” and nowadays we are familiarized with them through the “Ritual of the Great Purification,” which is recited from time to time by Shintō priests of the Nakatomi family).
Whereupon Amaterasu-Ō-Mikami was greatly incensed, and entering into the Heavenly Rock-Cave, closed its door and concealed herself therein. Consequently, the eternal night of darkness prevailed, so that no one could distinguish between the day and the night. And all the gods were dismayed and, to their great inconvenience, all business was transacted by artificial light. Then p. 20 Takami-Musubi-no-Kami summoned a council of the Eighty Myriads of Gods on the Dry-Bed-of-the-Eight-Sand-Bank-River in Heaven17, and enquired what measures should be taken in order to rectify matters. In response Omoikane-no-Kami, the God of Profound Knowledge and Foresight, proposed the following scheme to induce Amaterasu-Ō-Mikami to return from her hiding place in the Rock-Cave. Futotama-no-Kami was to be appointed to make “nigite,” i.e., offerings of fine cloth, in aid of the gods of different callings. Ishiko-ritome-no-Kami (from whom the Kagamitsukuri or Mirror-making family is sprung and who is the child of Ame-no-Nukado-no-Mikoto) was to construct a mirror, resembling in form the disc of the sun, i.e., an image of Amaterasu-Ō-Mikami, out of copper brought from the Heavenly Mt. Kagu. Nagashiraha-no-Kami (Ancestor of the Omi family in Ise Province—“shiraha,” the ordinary name of cloth at the present day, originated from the name of this god) was to plant hemp and make “aonigite,” i.e., offerings of fine blue-coloured hempen cloth. Ame-no-Hiwashi-no-Kami and Tsukuimi-no-Kami were bidden to make “shiranigite,” i.e., offerings of fine white cloth woven from the paper mulberry (tradition says that at that time, both hemp and mulberry grew luxuriantly in a night after being planted). Ame-no-Hazuchio-no-Kami (Ancestor of the Shizuri family) was to weave cloth of lovely variegated colours. The Goddess Ame-no-Tanabata-Hime was to weave the fine divine robes. The task allotted to Kushi-Akarutama-no-Kami was to link together five hundred large jewels on an p. 21 august string. Taokiho-Oi-no-Kami and Hikosashiri-no-Kami were to build according to the heavenly standard of measurement (i.e., measures18 of varying size and some measuring tools) a beautiful sacred hall of choicest timber brought from different valleys, and also were to make hats, spears, and shields. Lastly, Ame-no-Mahitotsu-no-Kami was ordered to make various kinds of swords and axes, and to cast tinkling bells of iron.
When all was finished, they were to bring a fine sacred Sakaki tree with five hundred branches from the Heavenly Mt. Kagu, and hang jewels19 on its upper branches, a mirror on its central branches, offerings of fine cloth both blue and white in colour on the lower branches. Then Futotama-no-Mikoto, holding the Sakaki tree in his hands, was earnestly to eulogize Amaterasu-Ō-Mikami, while Ame-no-Koyane-no-Mikoto was to recite a liturgy invoking the Goddess.
Ame-no-Uzume-no-Mikoto (“uzume” siginfies a strong, brave woman, and therefore such a woman is still called “osushi,” which is identical in meaning with “uzume” and differs only in pronunciation) was then to arrange a wreath of spindle-tree and throw a scarf made of club moss around her shoulders, and, holding bamboo grass and leaves from the “oke” tree20 in one hand and a spear adorned with tinkling bells in the other, was to perform skilfully in company with the other gods an inspired religious dance, placing a tub bottom upwards21 (signifying an oath) and kindling sacred bonfires, before the Heavenly Rock-Cave.
Thus doing, as Omoikane-no-Kami had suggested, they first tried to construct a mirror, as an image of the Sun-Goddess; but as the first mirror made by Ishikoritome-no-Kami was slightly defective and therefore unfit for use (this Mirror is the Deity at Hinokuma in Ki-I Province), a second was moulded which was ideally beautiful (this Mirror is the Deity of the Ise Shrine). When all this was completed, Futotama-no-Mikoto prayerfully recired a liturgy full of eulogizing words:—
“The august Mirror in my hands is spotless and indescribably beautiful as though it were Thine own august person. Pray open the Cave-door and behold it.”
Then Futotama-no-Mikoto and Ame-no-Koyane-no-Mikoto conjointly offered prayers to Amaterasu-Ō-Mikami.
Whereupon Amaterasu-Ō-Mikami bethought herself, “How is it that the Gods can enjoy such merry-making even when the world is wrapt in darkness, since I have concealed myself in this Cave?” And so saying, she slightly opened the Cave-door and gazed secretly at the joyous scene without. Then, as pre-arranged, Ame-no-Tachikara-O-no-Kami opened the Rock-Cave door fully and induced the Goddess to remove to the new palace they had constructed for her, and Ame-no-Koyane-no-Mikoto and Futotama-no-Mikoto encircled the new divine dwelling place with an august sun-rope (now called “shirikumenawa”22 or bottom-tied rope to represent the shadow of the sun). Ō-Miya-no-Me-no-Kami23 waited upon Amaterasu-Ō-Mikami (Ō-Miya-no-Me-no-Kami p. 23 is a goddess miraculously born of Futotama-no-Mikoto, and she waits upon Amaterasu-Ō-Mikami, just as a Maid of Honour in the Imperial Court waits upon the Emperor to please His Imperial Majesty by soothing, cheerful and kindly words, and thus, serving as an intermediary between sovereign and subject, she thereby brings both into affectionate and harmonious relationship), and Toyo-Iwamado-no-Mikoto24 together with Kushi-Iwamado-no-Mikoto25 was on guard duty at the gates (these two Gods were born of Futotama-no-Mikoto).
The Sun-Goddess coming forth from the Rock-Cave now illumined the sky and consequently the spectators were enlibled to distinguish one another’s faces once more. Over flowing with joy, they loudly cried:
“Ahare! ahare!” (signifying that the sky is now illuminated)
“Ana omoshiroshi!” (“O how delightful it is again clearly to see one another’s faces!”)
“Ana tanoshi!” (“What joy to dance with outstretched hands!”)
“Ana sayake oke!” (“How refreshing and reviving! just like the rustling sound of breezes softly whispering in bamboo grass, or through the leaves of the trees playing sweet melodies of natural music!”)
Then the two Gods Ame-no-Koyane-no-Mikoto and Futotama-no-Mikoto respectfully besought the Sun-Goddess never more to hide her face.
As a punishment for bringing about this catastrophe the Gods inflicted on Susano-O-no-Kami a heavy expiatory fine—the hair of his head, and his finger and toe nails being also cut off for his offence; and thus satisfied, they banished that evil God Susano-O from Heaven. Susano-O-no-Kami then descended to the banks of the River Hi in Izumo Province, where with his heavenly ten-span sword (the sword, otherwise called Ame-no-Hahakiri, is now preserved at the Isonokami Shrine—the archaic Japanese word for “serpent” is “haha”, so that the Ame-no-Hahakiri Sword signifies the weapon by which the monster serpent was slain), he slew a serpent with an eight-forked head and tail, in whose tail was concealed the divine sword “Ame-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi” or the “Heavenly Sword of Assembled Clouds” (So named, because above the monster serpent there always hung a mass of miraculous clouds. The Imperial Prince Yamatotakeru-no-Mikoto on his expedition in the eastern provinces, thanks to the miraculous virtue of this same divine sword, narrowly escaped falling a victim to the enemy’s treacherous strategy by mowing away the grass of the wilderness of Sagami Province. From that time on, owing to the Prince’s providential escape from danger, the sword “Ame-no-Murakumo” was re-named “Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi,” signifying “Herb-quelling or Grass-mowing Sword”). Susano-O-no-Kami presented the Heavenly Gods with this sword.
Then Susano-O-no-Kami married a daughter of a local god p. 25 who bore him a son named Ōnamuchi-no-Kami (this God is variously known as Ōmononushi-no-Kami, Ōkuninushi-no-Kami, and Ōkunitama-no-Kami, who being now at Ōmiwa in Shiki-no-Kami District, Yamato Province, is also called Ōmiwa-no-Kami26), and then Susano-O-no-Kami passed over to the Ne-no-Kuni or Underworld.
Ōnamuchi-no-Kami, together with Sukunahikona-no-Kami (this God was the son of Takami-Musubi-no-Mikoto, and he went over later to the Tokoyo-no-Kuni27—a far distant land), did his best to carry out his programme of ministering to the welfare of both men and domestic animals: for example, these two Gods instructed living beings how to heal diseases by means of medicine and magical incantations or witchcraft by which all calamities inflicted upon them by birds, beasts, reptiles, and insects could be expelled. All that our ancestors then learned from these two divine healers was so important and efficacious that they and their descendants have ever since enjoyed the gracious protection of these divinities. The heavenly ancestor Akatsu-no-Mikoto took to wife Takuhatachichi-Hime, daughter of Takami-Musubi-no-Kami, who bore him a son. This heavenly son was called Amatsuhiko-no-Mikoto, i.e., the Sovran August Grandson (because he was the grandson of Amaterasu-Ō-Mikami and Takami-Musubi-no-Kami.
It was, then, the intention of Amateresu-Ō-Mikami and Takami-Musubi-no-Mikoto that the August Grandson should be brought up p. 26 in Heaven above and become Lord of the Central Land of Luxuriant Reed Plains below. So the two Heavenly Messenger Gods Futsunushi-no-Kami (the son of Iwatsutsume-no-Kami, and now worshipped at Katori in Shimōsa Proviuce) and Takemi-katsuchi-no-Kami (the son of Mikahayahi-no-Kami, and now worshipped at Kashima in Hitachi Province) descended from the Plain of High Heaven to this land of Japan and completely subdued those who opposed their divine troops.
Ōnamuchi-no-Kami presented his pacifying spear to the Heavenly Messenger-Gods, and withdrew with his son, Kotoshiro-nushi-no-Kami, saying:
“With this spear, I subdued my foes on the earth, so in future it will be most useful for the Heavenly Grandson to preserve the country in pence and order. Now, therefore, we shall humbly withdraw before the Heavenly Grandson.”
Both Ōnamuchi-no-Kami and Kotoshironushi-no-Kami thenceforth disappeared from the face of the earth, leaving the two Heavenly Messenger-Gods to carry on their work of subduing hostile powers, and when it was completed they triumphantly reported the result of their mission to the Heavenly Throne. Then the Divine Ancestress Amaterasu-Ō-Mikami and Takami-Musubi-no-Mikoto issued an Imperial Edict,28 saying:
“The Luxuriant Land of Reed Plains is a country which our descendants are to inherit. Go, therefore, our Imperial Grandson, and rule over it! and may our Imperial lineage continue p. 27 unbroken and proseperous, co-eternal with Heaven and Earth!”
Then, the Heavenly Ancestors presented the Heavenly Grandson with the two Sacred Treasures,29 the Yata-no-Kagami or Eight-hand-span Mirror or Large Mirror and the Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi or Herb-quening Sword, i.e., the Divine Imperial Regalia, together with the jewels and the spear, and said:—
“Our child, whenever you gaze upon this Sacred Mirror, let it be as if you were gazing upon us. So regarding it, you will find it holy, and must therefore reverently worship it, ever keeping it beside your couch and in the privacy of your own room.”30
Moreover, the Heavenly Ancestors caused Ame-no-Koyano-no-Mikoto, Futotama-no-Mikoto and Ame-no-Uzume-no-Mikoto31 to descend from Heaven, in attendance on the Heavenly Grandson, and then issued the following Divine Imperial Edict:
“We,32 on our own part, shall worship in the Sacred Precincts of Divine Trees and Holy Stones on behalf of the Heavenly Grandson, and ye, Ame-no-Koyane-no-Mikoto and Futotama-no-Mikoto, shall go down to the Central Land of Reed Plains with the Divine Trees and reverently pray to the gods for the welfare of the Heavenly Grandson, guarding33 him in your attendance under the same roof against all emergencies, and serving34 him with the rice of the consecrated paddy fields of which we partake in Heaven above (the original rice-seeds brought thence here below), and Futotama-no-Mikoto shall perform his duties on the earth with the gods belonging to different hereditary corporations just as they were wont to p. 28 do in Heaven.”
Thus those Gods35 were transferred from Heaven to the suite of the Heavenly Grandson when he descended to this earth. On the same occasion the Imperial Edict36 addressed to Ōmono-nushi-no-Kami ran as follows:—
“Henceforth thou shalt guard the Heavenly Grandson against danger by the aid of the Eighty Myriads of Gods under your command.”
Then, Ame-no-Oshihi-no-Mikoto, ancestor of the Ōtomo family, accompanied by Ame-no-Kushitsu-Ō-Kume, ancestor of the Kume family—all heavily armed—was ordered to descend from Heaven, at the head of the Imperial Body Guards.
When the Heavenly Grandson was about to descend, the advance guard returned and raised an alarm, saying:
“There is a strange god at the Eight-forked Cross-Ways of Heaven, whose nose measures seven-hand-spans long and whose back some seven feet long, and whose mouth and posteriors brightly shine and whose fiery eyeballs closely resemble a luminous eight-hand-span or large mirror.”
Then the Gods in the Heavenly Grandson’s suite were to be sent to challenge the monstrous stranger upon the road but not one of the Eighty Myriads of Gods was bold enough to do so. Then, by divine command, Ame-no-Uzume-no-Mikoto, the Heavenly Lady of Dauntless Spirit, was sent to confront him, with her waist band lowered below the navel and with her p. 29 breast laid bare, and she laughed at him mockingly. The God of the Cross-Ways37 asked, “What do you mean by that?” Ame-no-Uzume-no-Mikoto responded, “Who are you? and, why do you obstruct the way whilst the Heavenly Grandson descends to the earthly land?” The God of the Cross-Ways replied, “On hearing the news of the Heavenly Grandson’s descent to earth, I came respectfully to meet and guide him. I am the Great God Saruta-Hiko.”38
Ame-no-Uzume-no-Mikoto then enquired, saying: “Will you be his herald, or shall I?” “Will I? of course, I will,” answered Saruta-Hiko. Then Ame-no-Uzume-no-Mikoto asked again, “Where are you going, and, whither do you intend to lead the Heavenly Grandson on?” To this Saruta-Hiko replied, “The Heavenly Grandson is to go to the Wondrous Peak of Takachiho in Hyūga, Tsukushi, and I shall proceed to the River Isuzu at Sanagata in Ise; and as you are the first to make my acquaintance, you will please accompany me thither.” Then Ame-no-Uzume-no-Mikoto returned to the Heavenly Grandson and reported these things. The Heavenly Grandson descended to the Wondrous Mountain Peak from the Plain of High Heaven, as Saruta-Hiko respectfully directed, and Ame-no-Uzume-no-Mikoto accompanied Saruta-Hiko to Ise, as he had invited her (Ame-no-Uzume-no-Mikoto is the ancestress of the Sarume39 family of Kimi rank, the word “Sarume” meaning “she-monkey” and being derived from the name of the God Saruta-Hiko, whom p. 30 Uzume-no-Mikoto first encountered on the descent from Heaven to the earthly land. So this is the reason why both the male and the female of the Sarume family of Kimi rank are alike styled “Sarume-no-Kimi”).
Thus, from generation to generation, we see that all the gods were in the Heavenly Grandson’s service and each with his own hereditary calling, as the Heavenly Imperial Edict had dictated. The Heavenly Ancestor Hikaha-no-Mikoto married Toyotama-Hime, the Sea-God’s daughter, and she bore him Hikanagisa-na-Mikoto.40) When this son was expected a new hut was built on the seashore for his birth. Ame-no-Oshihito-no-Mikoto, ancestor of the Kani-Mori family of Muraji rank, waited upon the divine son, clearing away the “kani,” i.e., crabs, with a broom, and laying mats around for his mother’s comfort. From this incident originated the hereditary title of Kani-Mori (now called “Kamu-Mori,” which is a modification of the words “Kani-Mori,” i.e., one who brushes away the kani or crabs).
When the Emperor Jimmu41 conquered the eastern provinces,42 Hi-no-Omi-no-Mikoto, ancestor of the Ōtomo family, commanded the Imperial forces, and rendered the most distinguished services to His Majesty, subduing all the hostile powers, and Nigihayahi-no-Mikoto, ancestor of the Mononobe family, surrendered respectfully with his numerous soldiers, killing one43 who obstinately resisted the Imperial army to the last. Therefore Nigihayahi-no-Mikoto was deservedly rewarded for his loyal submission p. 31 to the Emperor, and Shiinetsu-Hiko, ancestor of the Ōyamato family, rendered distinguished services to the Imperial fleet on the sea,44 thus fulfilling the duties allotted to him on Mt. Kagu. Lastly, Yatagarasu, ancestor of the hereditary lords of Kamo-no-Agata, came flying in the form of a crow, and this very fact being regarded as in itself an auspicious omen, he served as an encouraging guide to the Imperial army in the rugged Uda mountains.45
After a hard fight the Imperial army succeeded in vanquishing all the diabolic foes, and peace and order reigned throughout the whole Empire, and in consequence thereof Kashihara in Yamato became the capital of Japan, and the Imperial Court was established there.
The descendants of both Taokiho-Oi-no-Mikoto and Hikosa-shiri-no-Mikoto, under the guidance of Ame-no-Tomi-no-Mikoto (a descendant of Futotama-no-Mikoto), obtained the needful timber from the mountains, to build the “Mi-Araka”46 (August or Divine Abode), felling the trees with consecrated axes and mattocks. Their success in so building it is often phrased: “Making stout the pillars of the august abode upon the nethermost rock-bottom and raising the cross-beams of the roof to the Plain of High Heaven for the august residence of the Sovereign Grandson.”47 Even at the present day we have amongst us the two branches of the Imbe family, who are descended from those who procured the timber required for the erection of the Imperial p. 32 Palace, and from those who served as carpenter on that occasion. They are now respectively dwelling at the Miki48 and Araka villages, in Nakusa-Kōri, Ki-I Province. And this proves how important a part the Imbe family played in the erection of the Imperial Palace there at that early date. By Imperial command Ame-no-Tomi-no-Mikoto, together with all the branches of the Imbe family, made several sacred treasures, such as mirrors, jewels, spears, shields, cloth made from the paper-mulberry and hemp, etc.
The descendants of Kushi-Akarutama-no-Mikoto made “miho-gitama” or august, auspicious, sacred jewels (in archaic Japanese, “mi” means “august” or “sacred,” and “hogi” or “hogu” literally means “to congratulate,” hence “mihogi-tama” means “august, auspicious, sacred jewels”) and their descendants still reside in Izumo Province, and some jewels appear among their annual tribute to the Imperial Court. The descendants of Ame-no-Hiwashi-no-Mikoto employed themselves in cultivating hemp and paper-mulberry trees and in weaving coarse cloth out of these materials. In obedience to the Emperor’s command, Ame-no-Tomi-no-Mikoto, taking with him the descendants of Hiwashi-no-Mikoto, migrated to Awa [阿波] Province in search of fertile soil suitable for the cultivation of the above plants. The descendants of this family are still dwelling in that district and at the celebration of the Great Harvest Festival after the enthronement of a new Emperor, they pay tribute of p. 33 the bark of the paper-mulberry, hempen fibre, coarse cloth made from them, and several other things to the Imperial House. The survival of the name O-e—literally, hemp planting—in that locality of Awa [阿波] Province proves that there was formerly a district where such useful plants as paper-mulberry trees, the hemp plants, etc., were highly cultivated.
Ame-no-Tomi-no-Mikoto next proceeded to the eastern districts of Japan with some members of the above-mentioned Imbe family of Awa [阿波] to search for another fertile land wherein to cultivate similar plants. Hence that land, when found, being very suitable for growing hemp, paper-mulberry trees, etc., was called Fusa-no-Kuni (in archaic Japanese “asa” or “hemp” is called “fusa,” and we still have the “Upper and Lower Districts of Fusa”).
The land where the “yū,” paper-mulberry trees, grew abundantly, was called Yūki-Kōri.
The district occupied by some branches of the Imbe family is now known as Awa-Kōri (i.e., the present Awa49 [安房] Province). Here Ame-no-Tomi-no-Mikoto erected a Shintō shrine to his ancestral God, Futotama-no-Mikoto. It is called the “Awa Shrine,” and consequently we find a branch of the Imbe family among the people attached to it. Those who being descended from Taokiho-Oi-no-Mikoto were in charge of making spear-rods, when they settled in Sanuki Province, used to present tribute to the Imperial Court in the form of eight hundred p. 34 spear-rods in addition to the ordinary tributary goods. All these historical facts prove that my contentions are indisputable. Then, in strict obedience to the ordinance of the two ancestral Heavenly Gods,50 a holy site with sacred trees and stones was erected in the Imperial Court and in consequence the following divinities were worshipped there, viz.,—Takami-Musubi51 or the Divine Male Producer, Kamumi-Musubi52 or the Divine Female Producer, Tamatsume-Musubi53 or the Soul-detaining Producer, Iku-Musubi54 or the Vivifying Producer, Taru-Musubi55 or the Producer of Perfect Bodily Health and Strength, Ō-Miya-no-Me-no-Kami,56 Kotoshironushi-no-Kami,57 Miketsu-Kami58 (homage is now paid to these Eight Gods by the Court Priestesses59 of Shintō), Kushi-Iwamado-no-Kami,60 Toyo-Iwamado-no-Kami (homage is now tendered to these Gods by the Shintō Priestess of the August Gates), the Gods of Ikushima61 (the Guardian-Spirits of the Great-Eight-Island-Country,62 whose worship is in charge of the Shintō priests of Ikushima), and the Gods of Ikasuri63 (the Guardian-Spirits of the Imperial Court Grounds whose worship is entrusted to the Shintō Priestesses of Ikasuri). Hi-no-Omi-no-Mikoto, Chief of the Kume family, served as a guardian at the Imperial Gates, while Nigihayahi-no-Mikoto, with some of the Mononobe family who were attached to the Court under him, prepared a number of spears and shields as protective weapons for the Emperor. When they had assured themselves that all was right, Ame-no-Tomi-no-Mikoto, assisted by the p. 35 members of the Imbe family, raised up the Sacred Mirror and Sacred Sword,64 the Divine Imperial Regalia, and with deep reverence placed them in the Chief Imperial Hall, hanging the jewels, and laying out the offerings in due order, before reciting a liturgy, called “Ōtonohogai,”65 i.e., the Ritual for Bringing Good Fortune or invoking Blessing to the Great Palace (mentioned in the book annexed hereto66), then the religious service for the Guardian Gods of the Imperial Gates was solemnized (the Ritual being that named in the above book67).
At the close of these functions, the members of the Mononobe family displayed the spears and shields to the general public, whilst those of the Kume family serving under the Ōtomo family exhibited the weapons. The men who represented these two families opened the gates wide to allow those who desired to tender homage to the Central Court, and permit them to witness the august scene, so that they might realize the imposing majesty of the Imperial Throne.
In those olden days, when the gods and the sovereigns were not widely differentiated, they were wont to share the same couch, under the same roof, so that the distinction between the two kinds of property, divine and sovereign, not being yet observed, the storehouse attached to the Palace called “Imikura,” i.e., Sacred Treasury, was in the hereditary charge of the Imbe family.
Ame-no-Tomi-no-Mikoto was commanded to make the great p. 36 offerings to the gods together with the members of the different families under his rule, and after that Ame-no-Taneko-no-Mikoto (the grandson of Ame-no-Koyane-no-Mikoto) took a priestly office in order to expiate the Heavenly68 and Earthly69 Offences (I have already explained what the Heavenly Offences are, and as regards the details of the Earthly Offences committed by people here on earth, see the “Ritual of the Great Purification,”70 customarily recited by the Nakatomi family), and then in the Sacred Enclosure newly erected in the Tomi Mountains, Ame-no-Tomi-no-Mikoto laid out various offerings in the newly-built Sanctuary and recited a liturgy in honour of the Heavenly Gods, and in deep gratitude offered to the Gods of Heaven and Earth, on the Emperor’s behalf, thanks for the divine favours bestowed on His Majesty. This office for the divine worship at the Imperial Court was held by the Nakatomi and Imbe families, whilst the sacred symbolic dance or pantomime was the hereditary duty of the Sarume71 family of Kimi rank, and the other families had each an hereditary right of service to the Imperial Court.
Whilst reigning at the Mizukaki Palace in Shiki72, the Emperor (Sujin) began to feel uneasy at dwelling on the same couch and under the same roof beside the Mirror sacred to Amaterasu-Ō-Mikami and the divine Herb-quelling Sword, and being greatly overwhelmed by their awe-inspiring divine influence, His Majesty ordered his daughter Toyosuki-Iri-Hime-no-Mikoto to remove these Sacred Objects to Kasanui73 village in Yamato p. 37 Province, and there established a new holy site, or enclosure, planting sacred trees and setting up sacred stones, in order to enshrine these Divine Emblems, and he appointed the Imperial Princess Toyosuki-Iri-Hime-no-Mikoto to be the Guardian Priestess thereof, and His Majesty directed the descendants of Ishikori-tome-no-Mikoto and Ame-no-Mahitotsu-no-Kami to make a Mirror and a Sword under the guidance of the Imbe family, like unto the originals. The new Mirror and Sword are the identical sacred emblems which the Imbe family offer to the Emperor at his enthronement ceremony as the Divine Imperial Heirlooms which protect the legitimate sovereign against powers of evil. On the evening when the solemn religious ceremonies were conducted at the removal of the Divine Imperial Emblems, all the courtiers were present and entertained through the whole night at a consecrated repast, singing:
(This song is still sung in modified version as follows:—
In the 6th year of his reign, the same Emperor having worshipped the Eighty Myriads of Gods, the shrines in honour of the Gods of Heaven and Earth were erected, and land and houses alloted for the Divine service.76 It was in the reign of this Emperor that regular taxes were for the first time imposed upon men and women. Men were to pay them by presenting the produce of the hunting of wild animals in the mountains and fields, whilst women were to pay by means of their home handicraft. Established once for all as a State Institution, this ordinance has never been abrogated, and we Japanese still bring to the shrines the skins of bears and deer, stags’ horns, and cloth as offerings, when worshipping the gods.
In the days of the Emperor (Suinin) reigning at the Tamaki Palace in Makimuku77 His Majesty appointed Yamato-Hime-no-Mikoto (who was his second daughter by his consort Saho-Hime78) to be the Imperial Guardian Priestess sacred to Amaterasu-Ō-Mikami, and in obedience to a divine revelation she erected a shrine to that Goddess beside the River Isuzu in Ise Province, and an Abstinence Palace79 was attached thereto in which consecrated abode the Imperial priestess as consecrated Abbess dwelt. As these matters were previously ordained by Amaterasu-Ō-Mikami and Chimata-no-Kami in Heaven, they were now actually carried out on earth. Chimata-no-Kami had already settled in Ise long before this Emperor dedicated the Shrine of Isuzu to Amaterasu-Ō-Mikami.
It was in the same Emperor’s reign that bows, arrows and swords were first offered as votive gifts to the Gods, and land and houses again appointed to the divine service.
It was also in that reign that Ame-no-Hihoko,80 a prince of Shiragi [Silla], arrived in Japan, and the Grand Shrine sacred to that Korean Prince is the Shrine in Izuehi-Kōri, Tajima Province.
During the Emperor (Keikō)’s reign at the Hishiro Palace in Makimuku,81 he ordered the Imperial Prince Yamatotakeru to subdue the eastern barbarians. That dauntless prince, making a detour, first proceeded to Ise to worship at the Shrine of the Sun-Goddess, and there the Guardian Priestess Yamato-Hime-no-Mikoto bestowed on him the Kusanagi Sword or Divine Herb-quelling Sword and thus admonished him: “Be prudent and careful of yourself, and be never remiss in your duties.”
Prince Yamatotakeru, returning in triumph from his eastern expedition, spent over a month in Owari Province with Miyasu-Hime as his consort. Then, leaving the Divine Sword82 in her charge, he went alone on foot up Mt. Ibuki and there poisoned by the noxious vapour, died. From that time forward the Kusanagi Sword was enshrined at Atsuta in Owari. And to my regret the Atsuta Shrine has not enjoyed any of the epecial privileges due to its divine honour83.
In the days of the Empress (Jingō) who was reigning at the Wakasakura84 Palace in Iware, the Gods of Suminoe85 revealed themselves. An expedition was sent to Shiragi [Silla], and p. 40 Shiragi was subdued. Consequently the Three Kara—nearly all Korea—were put under Japan’s suzerainty, and especially the King of Kudara [Pèkché] sincerely welcomed the Japanese authority in the Korean peninsula and thenceforward he ever remained loyal to Japan.
During the reign of the Emperor (Ōjin) at the Toyoakira Palace in Karushima,86 the King87 of Kudara [Pèkché] sent as tribute to the Imperial Court a learned man named Wani [Wang-In], who founded the Fumi family of Obito rank dwelling in Kōchi. Yutsuki,88 ancestor of the Hata family of Kimi rank, was also naturalized in Japan, with a number of people under him who were living in his one hundred and twenty estates in Korea. Achi-no-Omi, ancestor of the Aya family of Atae rank, arrived in Japan and offered allegiance to the Emperor, bringing with him to the Empire the numerous inhabitants of his seventeen estates in Korea. The Hata89 [Shin or Chin] and Aya [Kan or Han] immigrants, and those from Kudara, became naturalized in this country. Each of these groups of people was numbered by tens of thousands, nevertheless, it is most deeply to be regretted that their services to Japan have, so far, not been publicly recognized; and, still further, that the homage due to the divine spirits of their respective ancestors is not yet paid with due religious ceremonies under the auspices of the Imperial Government, although their respective shrines were privately erected for worship by their own descendants.
In the reign of the Emperor (Richū) who dwelt at the Nochi-no-Iware-Wakasakura90 Palace in Iware, an Imperial Household Treasury beside the Sacred Treasury91 which had hitherto been used for both Deity and Sovereign was erected to lodge, the Imperial Household property, because ever since the Empress Jingō’s conquest, Korea had continued to pay tribute to Japan, and, consequently in the course of years our national wealth had greatly increased. Achi-no-Omi92 and the learned sage Wani of Kudara [Pèkché] were therefore appointed recording officers in charge of the Treasury accounts, and then for the first time the institution of an hereditary corporation attached to the Treasuries was established.
In the days of the Emperor (Yūryaku) who reigned at the Asakura Palace in Hatsuse,93 the members of the Hata family became dependent on other families unrelated to their original house. The Emperor, however, graciously favouring the Hata chieftain, Sake-no-Kimi, who served at the Imperial Court, was pleased to collect all the scattered members of that family and place them under the control of Sake-no-Kimi, who with one hundred and eighty excellent corporations of his work people, presented taxes to the Imperial Court of fine silks, with which he filled the palace courtyard. Therefore, he was styled “Uzumasa”94 (This word “Uzumasa” signifies “to increase and pile up.” These fine silks when worn are very pleasing to the skin, and so the family name Hata or Hada meaning “skin” originated. With these p. 42 same silks they covered the hilt of the sacred sword when worshipping at the Shintō shrine, and that ancient custom still remains unchanged95. Thus we see how the silk weaving industry was originated by the Hata family in Japan). As years rolled on, the quantity of the tributary goods paid into the Imperial Court from the different provinces increased exceedingly, so that a Great Treasure-House had to be constructed for their reception and Soga-no-Machi-no-Sukune was appointed Superintendent of the Three Treasuries (namely, the Imikura or Sacred Treasury, the Uchikura or Treasury of the Imperial Household, and the Ōkura or Great Treasury96), whilst the Hata family were entrusted with depositing, putting in and taking out the tributary goods, and the two Fumi families on the East and West of the Capital97 were appointed officers in charge of the account books for the tribute preserved in the Three Treasuries. Hence the two family names “Uchikura” and “Ōkura” were conferred on the Aya98 [Kan] family, and this is the reason why the descendants of the Hata [Shin] and Aya [Kan] families belong to the Kura-Be or Hereditary Corporation attached to the Treasuries and are still entrusted with the superintendence thereof.
When the Empress (Suiko) reigned at the Oharida Palace,99 the descendants of Futotama fell into insignificance, but, thanks to the Imperial grace, they were still permitted to retain the office of a Court Shintō Priest, although greatly reduced p. 43 or impoverished and far inferior in rank to that of their ancestors.
In the 4th year of Byakuhō100 when the Emperor (Kōtoku) reigned at the Toyosaki101 Palace at Nagara102 in Naniwa,103 Sakashi104 a member of the Imbe family, holding Obito rank, whose cap grade was the Lesser Shōke105 or Smaller Flower, was appointed Chief of the Shintō Priests at court (the present Jingihaku106 or Sacerdotal Chief of Shintō), and the census registration of Imperial Princes and Princesses, court ceremonies, marriage of Government officals of the upper classes, divination for Emperors and the Imperial Government were all entrusted to Sakashi. Thus the Divination Ceremony107 for the Emperor held at the Imperial Court twice a year—in summer and in winter—under the guidance of the Imbe family dates back only to this period, but, nevertheless, the descendants of Sakashi lost their power and were by degrees ousted from, or relieved of, this important sacred mission, and the present insignificant offical position of the Imbe family among Court officals is the result.
During the reign of the Emperor (Temmu) who ruled at the Kiyomihara Palace108, the hereditary titles of all the families were revised and re-arranged in eight classes. To my great regret, however, the titles were bestowed in recognition of the services then performed to the Government, without taking into account any of the past duties rendered to the Heavenly Grandson by the forefathers of the respective families when he descended to p. 44 earth from Heaven. The second class title “Asomi” together with a larger sword was conferred on the Nakatomi family; and the third class title “Sukune” together with a smaller sword was bestowed on the Imbe family. The fourth class title “Imiki” was awarded to the three familles, Hata, Aya, and Fumi of Kudara (The title Imiki being probably derived from the expression “Imikura,” or “Sacred Treasury,” when it was placed in the joint charge of Imbe and Imiki. Hence, at the Great Purification Ceremony, the two Fumi families of the East and West or the Yamato and Kōchi Provinces are accustomed—“by use and wont"—to present a sword to the Emperor).
It was in the Taihō109 Era that Japan first possessed offical records110 of the Shintō Gods. Even then, however, a complete list of the names of Shintō Gods and Shrines was lacking and the national Shintō rites were not well established. When the Government Authorities began to compile a book on the Shintō Shrines officially registered during the Tempyō111 Era, the Nakatomi family,112 being then most influential at court in religious affairs, took arbitrary measures, strictly superintended the compilation, and consequently, the shrines, no matter how insignificant, were all recorded in the registry, if they had any connection with the Nakatomi, whilst, on the contrary, even the greater, more renowned shrines, if not related to that house, were omitted from all mention therein. Thus, the Nakatomi family, being then all-powerful, made an unwarranted use of its p. 45 authority in Shintō matters to the detriment of the other families. The Nakatomi alone enjoyed the large income derived from the public tributes paid by the people attached to each shrine. All the names of the divine attendants113 who escorted the Heavenly Grandson to earth or those who accompanied the first human Emperor114 on his eastern expedition mentioned in our old historical books115 are familiar to us, and some of them served by guarding His Majesty against his foes in obedience to the command of the celestial deities,116 whilst the rest rendered distinguished services to the Emperor in aiding him to carry out his plans for establishing Imperial rule and thus assure the prosperity of the Empire. Therefore, each one of them should have been justly and impartially rewarded with posthumous divine honours in recognition of those past meritarious services, yet, to my profound regret, just as in the case of Kaisui117 [Chieh-Tui], the opposite has occurred, for in these days they do not all receive the same divine honour of homage from the Imperial Government. Permit me, gracious Sovereign, to mention those things which the Authorities concerned have unfairly omitted.
First of all, the God of the Atsuta Shrine whose divine emblem is the Kusanagi Sword, unlike the Gods in some other shrines, has never yet enjoyed the annual offical Government homage notwithstanding the fact that the Sword, the Divine Heirloom of the Mikados from generation to generation, has been enshrined at Atsuta in Owari Province, ever since Prince Yamato-takeru p. 46 returned in triumph from his eastern campaign against the Emishi or Ainu, and also that its supernatural virtue was reported as having once defeated the sacrilegious attempt of a foreign intruder,118 who secretly entered the shrine in order to steal the Sword and make off with it across to his own land of Korea.
Second, it is of prime importance for public morality that every one should ceremoniously revere his own forefathers, therefore each august Emperor,119 when he ascends the Throne, as a rightful successor of the Great Ancestral Goddess, pays homage to all the gods, both heavenly and earthly. Now since Amaterasu-Ō-Mikami is the Greatest Ancestral Goddess, no Shintō god can claim equality, just as a son is ever inferior to his father, or a vassal to his lord. The Government Authorities of the Shintō Bureau nowadays, however, when annually distributing offerings to the gods of the Shintō shrines, scattered all over the land, do not take special care to honour the Great Deity of the Ise Shrine by presenting the sacrificial offerings from the Government first to Her who is the highest among the gods and goddesses worshipped throughout the whole country. Is this not a matter for deep regret?
Third, of old, Amaterasu-Ō-Mikami, symbolized by the Sacred Mirror, remained in the same house with the Emperor,120 so both the Deity and the Emperor were waited upon exactly in the same manner by the attendants from the beginning in Heaven, there being no discrimination between the Deity and the p. 47 Sovereign at all. Imbe and Nakatomi conjointly prayed the Sun-Goddess graciously to re-appear from the Heavenly Rock-Cave,121 and it was the ancestress122 of the Sarume family who succeeded in propitiating the incensed Goddess. The Govemment, therefore, should appoint the descendants of the three families conjointly, to the office of Shintō service, yet nevertheless, the Nakatomi family alone nowadays enjoy the exclusive privilege of holding the priestly office of the Ise Shrine, the two other families being utterly ignored.
Fourth, ever since the Divine Age it had been the sacred prerogative of the Imbe family to be entrusted with the offical work of constructing Shintō shrines: thus the official head of the Imbe family, with his kinsfolk of the Miki and Araka Districts,123 began the work by cutting down forest trees with consecrated axes, turning the sod with consecrated mattocks, and finished the entire structure with the aid of craftsmen. When completed, the shrines and their gates were consecrated by the Imbe family with the prescribed ceremonial rites of Shintō,124 and thus became actually fit for divine abodes. In violation of these dear old Shintō customs and usages, the services of the Imbe family are today wholly dispensed with, whether for re-building the Ise Shrine or erecting the sacrcd tabernacles125 or pavilions for the Great Harvest Festival126 at the enthronement of a new Emperor. Is this not a gross injustice to the time-honoured privilege of the Imbe family?
Fifth, the Ōtonohogai or Shintō Ceremony for Blessing the Great Palace and the Religious Service for the Guardian Gods of the Imperial Gates were both originally entrusted to Futotama-no-Mikoto,127 so it is beyond dispute that the Imbe family alone should enjoy the time-honoured hierarchic privilege in both cases of Shintō worship, while, as the Nakatomi and the Imbe, who are the officially commissioned priests of the Shintō Bureau, used to attend to the Shintō rites and ceremonies conjointly, an officer of the Imperial Household Department was accustomed to report himself in the following words: “Both Nakatomi and Imbe are present at the August Gates in order that they may solemnize the Shintō Ceremony for Blessing the Great Palace.” In the Hōki128 Era, however, it was Nakatomi-no-Asomi-Tsune of the Lower Grade of the Junior Fifth Court Rank129 and the Third Rank of the Imperial Household Department that arbitrarily changed the words in the report to the Emperor, saying: “Nakatomi with Imbe130 under him is now at the August Gates.” In this way the Imbe, once placed in a position inferior to that of the Nakatomi, have, owing to the procrastination and negligence of the officals of the Imperial Household Department, never been restored to their former rightful place all this time. This is a thing that I feel keenly regrettable.
Sixth, beginning with the Divine Age, the Nakatomi and the Imbe131 families took equal charge of the Shintō State Affairs, p. 49 and yet, later on, the authority of one was increased at the expense of the other. For example, at the beginning of the Enryaku Era,132 when the Imperial Princess Asahara133 was appointed Guardian Priestess of the Sun-Goddess at Ise, so low a rank as the Eighth Court Rank134 was given afresh to the Imbe family, and they remain in that rank until now, though like the Nakatomi they had previously held the Seventh Court Rank—in this case by the Nakatomi and Imbe families we mean the members of both families as Shintō priests attached to the Bureau for the Imperial Guardian Priestess. This is, indeed, a matter of deep regret.
Seventh, it was one of the sacred duties of both the Nakatomi and the Imbe, to distribute sacrificial offerings to the gods and goddesses throughout the land, but now only the Nakatomi, to the exclusion of the Imbe family, by Government permission, enjoys the monopoly of hierarchic authority given to the Dazaifu or Civil and War Administration Office135 in Kyūshū. To my great regret, this is contrary to the way among us of old.
Eighth, it is deeply to be regretted that, to the exclusion of the Imbe family, the Nakatomi family alone enjoys the privilege of being entrusted with the hierarchic functions of the Greater Shrines throughout Japan.
Ninth, the time-honoured “Mitamashizume-no-Matsuri,” or “Chinkonsai,” the “Spirit-quieting Ceremony for the Emperor’s Sake”136 dates from the inspired Ame-no-Uzume-no-Mikoto, so it p. 50 is the hereditary right of her descendants alone to hold the office of a diviner or mediator standing between Deity and Sovereign, but now, the same right is frequently given to members of other families. Is this not a matter for serious regret?
Tenth, in preparing the great offerings for the divine service the chieftain of the Imbe family should be entrusted as formerly with the charge of making them up, and lead all the other families to whom their hereditary callings respectively belonged. Hence, among those serving in the Shintō Bureau there should be officals related to such families, as the Nakatomi, the Imbe, the Sarume, the Kagamitsukuri, the Tamatsukuri, the Tatenui, the Kanhatori, the Shizuri, the Omi, etc., and yet, in the present state of things, we do not find any in the same Bureau, except the Nakatomi, the Imbe, and some few others. Those families unrelated to the Nakatomi and the Imbe are not admitted into the service of the Shintō Bureau, and all their descendants, not excepting even those of divine origin,137 have been reduced to poor and miserable circumstances, and are greatly decreasing in number. Is this not a cause for deep regret?
Eleventh, and lastly, in the 9th year of Shōhō,138 the Hidari-no-Ōtomohi-no-Tsukasa, or Left Scribe, issued a verbal order, in the Emperor’s name, saying, “From now on the members of the Nakatomi family alone, and not those of other families, should be appointed Imperial Envoys to convey the sacred offerings to p. 51 the Ise Shrine.” It is true that this Imperial Ordinance has never come into practice,139 yet it did appear once in a government document, and has not yet been rescinded. This is indeed most regrettable.
On one occasion in the Divine Age, when cultivating rice in a paddy field, Ōtokonushi-no-Kami140 served his men with beef, while the son of the Rice-God Mitoshi-no-Kami,141 when visiting that field, spat in disgust upon the dainty offered to him, and returning home, reported the matter to his father. Then Mitoshi-no-Kami in wrath sent a number of noxious insects, or locusts, to Ōtokonushi-no-Kami’s paddy field to kill the young rice-plants and in consequence the leafless rice-plants appeared like “shino” or short bamboo grass. When Ōtokonushi-no-Kami tried to ascertain the true cause of the incomprehensible disaster, he bade a “katakannagi” or “kata-augur”142 (by means of a Japanese meadow bunting) and a “hiji-kannagi” or “hiji-diviner” (by means of rice grains or a domestic cooking furnace ring now popular among us) ascertain the divine will. The interpretation was as follows: “Mitoshi-no-Kami has sent a curse, which makes the young rice plants die, so that you should not fail to appease the offended God with offerings of a white wild boar,143 a white horse, and white domestic fowls.” The conditions revealed in the divination being obeyed, the God was appeased. Mitoshi-no-Kami disclosed the secret thus: “It is I that brought the curse. Make a reel of hempenstalks, and therewith p. 52 clear the rice-plants, by expelling the locusts with the hemp leaves. Drive them out of the paddy field with Heavenly figwort,144 and sweep them thoroughly away with fan-shaped leopard flowers.145 If, nevertheless, they will not retreat, place some beef at the mouth of the ditch in the field together with a phallic symbol (as a spell to appease the divine wrath), and put corn-beads,146 toothache trees,147 walnut-leaves,148 and salt beside the dykes.” These divine orders were obeyed, and so the young rice-plants which, because of the divine wrath, were dying, revived and throve, and that autumn the people’s hearts were gladdened by an abundant rice-crop. The custom having been started, Mitoshi-no-Kami is still worshipped in the present Shintō Bureau with offerings of a white wild boar, a white horse, and white domestic fowls.
Nowadays people discredit the above traditions handed down from the Divine Age, which remind us of the Chinese legend of Pan-Ku,149 just as a summer insect150 does not credit the existence of winter ice, and yet things divine or miraculous, however incredible they may appear, are often revealed for the benefit of a nation even in the present age of unbelief—a proof of their actual existence. And in the ages prior to our own the Japanese civilization not being in an advanced condition, State ceremonies were not then perfected, and the national institutions were irregular and unsatisfactory. Now that Your Imperial Majesty has inaugurated over our Eight-Islands151 the present glorious rule p. 53 which embodies the ideal of the ancient Chinese Emperor Gyō [Yao]152 and this New Era has brought peace such as that which prevailed all over the Four Seas153 under the venerable Chinese Emperor Shun [Shun]; and now that Your Imperial Majesty is endeavouring to bring the people back from the present deteriorated manners and customs to the purity of the good old past, and reform the imperfect system of Government, which has survived, by establishing Government institutions, such as the circumstances now require, and thereby preserve and propagate the essence of the fine customs of the past among your subjects in the hope of perfecting the observance of the ancient laws and State ceremonies by restoring the dear old customs and usages that have now lapsed almost into oblivion, I, Your Imperial Majesty’s humble servant, sincerely pray that Your Imperial Majesty will be pleased to promulgate the ceremonial rules and regulations for worshipping the Shintō gods, utilizing this opportunity, wherever the State institutions are to be re-established, otherwise I dread that our posterity will have cause to complain of us just as we now do of our own forefathers. I, Your Majesty’s humble servant Hironari, instinctively loyal to the Imperial Court and deeply revering my cherished old traditions, being now over eighty years of age and having idled my time away to such an advanced age,—if I should ever die suddenly without publishing all the traditions preserved in my family in response to a gracious Imperial special message, my poor soul would be restless in its tomb. p. 54 Sometimes even the idle tales and poor ideas circulating amongst uneducated persons are worth while noting, therefore, Your Imperial Majesty having deigned to enquire about my family traditions, I, Your Imperial Majesty’s humble servant, taking advantage of this happiest opportunity, am overjoyed by the thought that the occasion will enable me to submit all my family traditional documents to the Imperial Throne, and I trust most sincerely that this appeal will be honoured by Your Majesty’s gracious inspection.
On the 13th day of the 2nd Month in the 2nd Year of Daidō.154
* The numbers refer to the notes of Part III.
* The portions in brackets are added to the text of the original in the form of a commentary.