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The Kojiki, translated by Basil Hall Chamberlain, [1919], at

p. 91


This Deity-of-Eight-Thousand-Spears, 1 when he went forth 2 to woo the Princess of Nuna-kaha, 3 in the land of Koshi, on arriving at the house of the Princess of Nuna kaha sang, saying:

"[I] His Augustness the Deity-of-Eight-Thousand-Spears, [76] having been unable to find a spouse in the Land of the Eight islands, and having heard that in the far off Land of Koshi there is a wise maiden, having heard that there is a beauteous maiden, I am standing [here] to truly woo her, I am going backwards and forwards to woo her. Without having yet untied even the cord of my sword, without having yet untied even my veil, I push back the plank-door shut by the maiden; while I am standing [here], I pull it forward. While I am standing [here], the nuye sings upon the green mountain, and [the voice of] the true bird of the moor, the pheasant, resounds; the bird of the yard, the cock, crows. Oh! the pity that [the] birds should sing! Oh! these birds! Would that I could beat them till they were sick! Oh! swiftly-flying heaven-racing messenger, the tradition of the thing, too, this!" 4

Then the Princess of Nuna-kaha, without yet opening [77] the door, sang from the inside saying:—

p. 92

"Thine Augustness the Deity-Of-Eight-Thousand-Spears! Being a maiden like a drooping plant, my heart is just a bird on a sand-bank by the shore; it will now indeed be a dotterel. Afterwards it will be a gentle bird; so as for thy life, do not deign to die. Oh! swiftly-flying heaven-racing messenger! the tradition of the thing, too, this!" 5

[78] [Second Song of the Princess6]

When the sun shall hide behind the green mountains, in the night [black as] the true jewels of the moor will I come forth. Coming radiant with smiles like the morning sun, [thine] arms white as rope of paper-mulberry-bark shall softly pat [my] breast soft as the melting snow; and patting [each other] interlaced, stretching out and pillowing [ourselves] on [each other's] jewel-arms,— true jewel-arms,—and with outstretched legs, will we sleep. So speak not too lovingly, Thine Augustness the Deity-of-Eight-Thousand-Spears! The tradition of the thing, too, this!" 7

Quamobrem eâ nocte non coierunt, sed sequentis diei nocte auguste coierunt.

p. 93 p. 94


91:1 p. 92 In this Section, the Deity Master-of-the-Great-Land is spoken of under this alias. See Sect. XX, Note 20).

91:2 The characters here, in accordance with the reading of the commentators, rendered by the words "went forth," as Honorific, being only properly applied to the progresses of a sovereign.

91:3 Kuna-kawa-hime. Nana-kaha or Nu-na-kaha ("lagoon-river"), is supposed to be the name of a place in the province of Echigo.

91:4 p. 93 The drift of this poem needs but little elucidation:—After giving his reasons for coming to woo the Princess of Nuna-kaha, the god declares that he is in such haste to penetrate to her chamber, that he does not even stay to ungird his sword or take off his veil, but tries to push or pull open the door at once. During these vain endeavours, the mountain. side begins to re-echo with the cries of the birds announcing the dawn, when lovers must slink away. Would that he could kill these unwelcome harbingers of day, and bring back the darkness!—The Land of the Eight Islands (i.e. Japan proper, beyond whose boundaries lay the barbarous northern country of Koshi) is in the original Ya-shima-huni (Conf. Sect. V, Note 27).—The nuye is a bird which must be fabulous if most of the accounts given of it are accepted. The "Commentary on the Lyric Dramas" tells us (with variations) that "it has the head of a monkey, the body of a racoon-faced dog, the tail of a serpent, and the hands (sic) and feet of a tiger," adding, as the reader will make no difficulty in allowing, that "it is a strange and peculiar creature." The Wa-Kun Shiwori says that "it is a bird much larger than a pigeon, and having a loud and mournful cry." It is likewise said to come out at night-time and retire during the day, for which reason doubtless Mabuchi likens it to the owl. A very ancient and curious Chinese book entitled the "Mountain and Sea Classic" ( ) the modern editions of which contain extremely droll illustrations of fabulous creatures, tells us of a bird called the "white nuye" ( ) which is "like a pheasant, with markings on its head, white wings, and yellow feet, and whose flesh is a certain cure for the hiccough." The character and , with which, as well as with the word nuye is variously written, seem to be unauthorized—The line here (following Motowori and Moribe's view) rendered "Would that I could beat them till they were sick!" will also bear the interpretation formerly proposed by Keichiyu, "Would that I could beat them till they left off!"—The last five lines, here rendered "Oh! swiftly flying heaven-racing messenger," etc., are extremely obscure. It is possible that ishi tafu ya (rendered "Oh! swiftly flying," in deference to Motowori's and Moribe's view) may be but a meaningless refrain. "Heaven racing messenger" is tolerably certain. Of the rest it is not easy to make sense. Motowori proposes to credit the five lines in question with the following general meaning: "May this song, like a messenger, "run down to future ages, preserving for them the tradition of this event!" Moribe, in his Critique of Motowori's Commentary, supposes the lines in question to be an addition made by the official singers, who in later p. 94 times sang these songs as an accompaniment to dances. Whatever their origin and proper signification, it is plain that they had come to be used as a refrain, from which the first two lines were sometimes omitted, as we see in some of the songs further on.

92:5 The drift of the poem is this: "Being a tender maiden, my heart flutters like the birds on the sandy islets by the beach, and I cannot yet be thine. Yet do not die of despair; for I will soon comply with thy desires."—The word nuye-kusa (here rendered "drooping plant," in accordance with the views of the commentators) is a Pillow-Word of somewhat obscure derivation.—The word chidori (rendered "dotterel" throughout this translation) denotes in its modern acceptation, according to Messrs. Blakiston and Pryer, "any kind of sandpiper, plover or dotterel." Its proper and original signification is, however, greatly debated by the commentators, and some think that it is not the specific name of any kind of bird, but stands simply by apocope for tachi-dori, "rising bird," thus designating any kind of small bird that rises and flies along near the beach.—The word na-dori (here, in accordance with Moribe's view, rendered "gentle bird") is taken by Motowori to mean simply "gentle," "compliant." But both the construction and the context seem to impose on us the interpretation here given. Keichiyu, in his "Kōgan-Shō," interprets the whole passage differently; but in order to do so he, without sufficient authority, changes the readings of the text into wa tori, "my bird," and na tori "thy bird."—The refrain is the same as in the previous song.

92:6 There is no break in the text; but the commentators rightly consider the following to be a separate poem.

92:7 The import of this very plain-spoken poem needs no elucidation.—Nubatama (here rendered "true jewels of the moor") is the Pillow-Word for things black or related to darkness. The "true jewels of the moor" are supposed to be the jet-black berries of the hiafugi (pron. hiōgi, Ixia chinensis). The whole etymology is, however, not absolutely certain.—Of which of the two lovers the words "coming radiant" with "smiles" are spoken, is not clear; but they probably refer to the male deity, as do the white arms, strange though such an expression may appear as applied to a man. The goddess represents herself and her lover as using each other's arms for pillows. The word "jewel-arms" means simply "beautiful arms."

Next: Section XXV.—The Cup Pledge