Sacred Texts  Shinto  Index  Previous  Next 
Buy this Book at

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

p. 237 [192]


So the way they led about and amused the august child was by making a two-forked boat 1 out of a two-forked cryptomeria from Ahidzu in Wohari, 2 bringing it up and floating it on the Pool of Ichishi and on the Pool of Karu 3 in Yamato, [thus] leading about and amusing the august child. Nevertheless the august child spoke never a word, though his eight-grasp beard reached to the pit of his stomach. 4 So 5 it was on hearing the cry of a high-flying swan 6 that he made his first utterance. 7 Then [the Heavenly Sovereign] sent Yamanobe-no-Ohotaka 8 (this is a name of a person) to catch the bird. So this person, pursuing the swan, arrived in the Land of Harima from the Land of Ki, and again in his pursuit crossed over to the Land of Inaba, then reaching the Land of Taniba and the Land of Tajima; [thence] pursuing round [193] to the eastward, he reached the Land of Afumi. and thereupon crossed over into the Land of Minu; and, passing along by the Land of Wohari, pursued it into the Land of Shinanu, and at length, reaching in his pursuit the Land of Koshi, spread a net in the Estuary of Wanami, 9 and, having caught the bird, brought it up [to the capital] and presented it [to the Sovereign]. So that estuary is called the Estuary of Wanami. It had been thought that, on seeing the bird again, he would speak; but he did not speak, as had been thought. 10 Hereupon the Heavenly Sovereign, deigning to be grieved, augustly fell asleep, when, in an august dream, he was instructed, saying: "If thou wilt build my temple like unto thine august abode, the august child shall surely speak." When he had been thus instructed, [the Heavenly

p. 238

[paragraph continues] Sovereign] made grand divination to seek what Deity's desire 11 this might be. Then [it was discovered that] the curse was the august doing of the Great Deity of Idzumo. 12 So when about to send the august child to worship [at] that Great Deity's temple, [he made divination to discover 13] by whom it were well to have him attended. Then the lot fell on King Ake-tatsu. 14 So he [194] made King Ake-tatsu swear, 15 saying: "If there is truly to be an answer 16 to our adoration of this Great Deity, may the heron dwelling on the tree by the Pool of Sagisu 17 here fall [through my] oath." When he thus spoke, the heron that had been sworn by fell to the ground dead. Again on his commanding it to come to life] in answer to his] oath, it then came to life again. 18 Moreover he caused to wither by an oath and again brought to life again by an oath a broad-foliaged bear-oak on Cape Amakashi. 19 Then [the Heavenly Sovereign] granted to Prince Ake-tatsu the name of Prince Yamato-oyu-shiki-tomi-tomi-toyo-asakura-ake-tatsu. 20 So when the august child was sent off with the two Princes, Prince Ake-tatsu and Prince Una-kami, 21 as his attendants, it was divined 22 that [if they went out] by the Nara gate, 23 [195] they would meet a lame person and a blind person; 24 [if they went out] by the Ohosaka 25 gate, they would likewise meet a lame person and a blind person, and that only the Ki gate,—a side gate, 26—would be the lucky gate; and when they started off, they established the Homuji clan 27 in every place they arrived at. So when they had reached Idzumo and had finished worshipping the Great Deity, and were returning up [to the capital], they made in the middle of the River Hi 28 a black plaited bridge and respectfully offered a temporary palace [for the august

p. 239

child] to dwell in. 29 Then when the ancestor of the rulers of the Land of Idzumo, whose name was Kihisa-tsu-mi, 30 [196] having made an imitation green-leafed mountain, 31 placed [it] in the lower reach of the river, and was about to present the great august food the august child 32 spoke, saying: "What here resembles a green-leafed mountain in the lower [reach of the] river; looks like a mountain, but is not a mountain. Is it perchance the great court 33 of the deacons 34 who holds in reverence the Great Deity Ugly-Male-of-the-Reed-Plains 35 that dwells in the temple of So at Ihakuma in Idzumo? 36 [Thus] he deigned to ask. Then the Kings, who had been sent in august attendance [on him], hearing with joy and seeing with delight, 37 set the august child to dwell in the palace of Nagaho at Ajimasa, 38 and despatched a courier [to inform the Heavenly Sovereign]. Then the august child wedded [197] Princess Hinaga 39 for one night. So, on looking privately at the beautiful maiden, [he found her] to be a serpent, at the sight of which he fled away alarmed. Then Princess Hinaga was vexed, and, illuminating the sea-plain, 40 pursued after them in a ship; and they, more and more alarmed at the sight, pulled the august vessel across the mountain-folds, 41 and went fleeing up [to the capital]. Thereupon they made a report, saying: "We have come up [to the capital] because thy great and august child has become able to speak through worship-ping the Great Deity." So the Heavenly Sovereign, delighted, forthwith sent King Unakami back to build the Deity's temple. Thereupon the Heavenly Sovereign, on account of this august child, established the Totori Clan, the Torikahi Clan, the Homuji Clan, the Ohoyuwe and the Wakayuwe. 42

p. 240 p. 241 p. 242 p. 243


237:1 p. 240 From a comparison with a passage in the "Chronicles," where the same expression occurs, one is led to suppose that the craft here mentioned was a sort of double boat, in each half of which passengers could sit.

237:2 Nothing is known of any place called Ahidzu in the province of Wohari.

237:3 Karu has been mentioned in Sect. LVII, Note 1. The Pool of Ihare.

237:4 Lit., "in front of his heart." This phrase descriptive of a long beard has already occurred at the commencement of Sect. XII.

237:5 Motowori reasonably supposes the character in this sentence to be a copyist's error for the emphatic , and the translation has been made accordingly.

237:6 The original has the character , which is now applied to a small species of swan (Cignus minor, Pallas; Cygnus Bewickii, Yarrell). But it is uncertain what bird is intended by the author.

237:7 A more or less inarticulate utterance is probably meant; but the expression in the original is obscure.

237:8 Motowori supposes the Note in the original to refer only to the word Ohotaka, while he takes Yamamobe to be the name of a place (already mentioned in Sect. LXVIII, Note 1). The surname of Ohotaka, signifying "great hawk," was, according to the same commentator, giver to the worthy here mentioned in consequence of the incident related in the text. As the bird was not a hawk, this does not seem very convincing, and Motowori's apparent idea that the man was likened to a hawk because he pursued the other bird as a hawk would do, is extremely far-fetched. It is moreover doubtful whether the name should not be read Oho-washi (this is Mabuchi's reading), "great." The "Chronicles "give an altogether different name, viz., Ame-no-yukata-tana.

237:9 No such place is now known. The name may be interpreted to mean "snare-net "in allusion to this story, as stated in the next sentence of the text.

237:10 The various texts and printed editions all differ slightly in their reading of this passage, and from some it might be gathered that the prince did indeed speak as it had been thought that he would do, u t could not speak freely. The translation follows Motowori's emended text.

238:11 Literally, "heart."

238:12 I.e., Oho-kuni-nushi (the Master of the Great Land), the aboriginal monarch of Idzumo, the descendant of the Sun Goddess, whose p. 241 abdication of the .sovereignty of Japan in favour of the descendant of the Sun Goddess forms the subject-matter of Sect. XXXII. The word tatari, here written with the Chinese character and rendered "curse," signifies properly the vengeance of a spirit, i.e., either of a deity or of the ghost of a dead man. The word translated "doing "is literally "heart."

238:13 That some such words must be supplied is evident, and the translator has followed Mabuchi and Motowori in supplying them.

238:14 Lit., "King Ake-tatsu at the divination."

238:15 Remember that the original word ukehi combines the meanings of our words "wager," "oath," "pledge," "curse," etc.,—being in fact a general name for all words to which any mysterious importance attaches.

238:16 Lit., a "sign," a "proof."

238:17 Sagisu no ike, a pool in Yamato. Sagi-su, signifies "heron's nest."

238:18 The reading of the characters (rendered "then") in this passage has been a crux to all the editors. Fortunately they make no difference to the sense.

238:19 Amakashi no saki, Perhaps "Amakashi Point "would be a better rendering if, as Motowori supposes, an inland place in the province of Yamato is meant. It might be the point or extremity of a hill or bluff. Ame-kashi signifies literally "sweet oak." The "broad-foliaged bear-oak" mentioned immediately above is supposed by Motowori to be the usual evergreen oak, and not any special kind. The epithet "broad-foliaged" is not, as he remarks, specially appropriate, and he moreover supposes the word kuma, "bear," to be a corruption of kumi or kumori, words which would refer to the thick luxuriance of the foliage. The dictionaries do not help us much to a decision on the point.

238:20 The component parts of this tremendous name, which is happily abbreviated to Ake-tatsu in the subsequent portions of the text, are somewhat obscure, especially the word oyu, whose reading rests only on a conjecture of Motowori's, who emends the evidently erroneous character to (oyu,) "old." Toyo, "luxuriant," is an Honorific, ake and tatsu signify respectively "dawn" and "rise," while the rest seem to be names of places of which this Prince may be supposed to have been the possessor.

238:21 Or, the Prince of Unakami, as Unakami is the name of a place Kadzusa.

238:22 I.e., shown by divination.

238:23 p. 242 Nara in Yamato, which is here mentioned for the first time, was the capital, of Japan from A.D. 710 to 784, and has always been famous in Japanese history and literature. The name is derived by the author of the "Chronicles "from the verb narasu, "to cause to resound," the hosts of the Emperor Su-jin having, it is said, caused the earth to resound with their trampling when they went out to do battle with Haniyasu. A more probable derivation is from nara, the name of a kind of deciduous oak, the Quercus glandulifera. The word rendered "gate" should possibly be taken simply in the sense of "exit "or "approach.'

238:24 Or, "lame people and blind people," a peculiarly unlucky omen for travellers, to whom, as Motowori remarks, sound feet and good eye-sight are indispensable to carry them on their way.

238:25 See Sect. LXIV, Note 25.

238:26 In the text the word "gate "is here, by a copyist's error written "moon." When the author says that the Ki gate, i.e., gate or exit leading to the province of Ki, as a "side-gate," he means that it was; not the one by which travellers would naturally have left the town:—the province of Ki, indeed, is to the South of Yamato where the capital was, whereas the province of Idzumo, whither they were bound, was to the north-west. This road into Ki over Matsuchi-yama is one famous in the classical poetry of Japan.

238:27 Homuji-be. The meaning of the clause is that they granted the surname of Homuji to persons in every important locality through which they passed on their journey.

238:28 See Sect. XVIII, Note 2.

239:29 The signification of this passage is: "They built as a temporary abode for the prince a house in the River Hi (whether with its foundations actually in the water or on an island is left undetermined), connecting it with the main land by a bridge made of branches of trees twisted together and with their bark left on them" (this is here the import of the word "black"). Such bridges have been met with by the translator in the remote northern province of Deha, where the country people call them shiba-bashi (or, rather, in their patois suba-bashi, i.e., "twig-bridge"). The traveller is so likely to fall through interstices into the stream below, that it is not to be wondered at that they should now be confined to the rudest localities.

239:30 Motowori supposes Kihisa to be the name of a place, and tsu-mi to stand as usual for tsu mochi, "possessor," according to which view the name would mean "lord" or "possessor of Kihisa.

239:31 p. 243 No book of reference with which the translator is acquainted throws any light on this curious expression, and there is no parallel passage in the "Chronicles" to look for help.

239:32 Viz., to the Prince ("the august child"). The preparations which Kihisa-tsu-mi is here said to have made are supposed by Motowori to have been prompted by a desire to add beauty to the feast. But the whole passage is very obscure.

239:33 Viz., the court in front of, or the approach to, the shrine, which would naturally be planted with the sacred tree, the saka-ki (Cleyera japonica), and thus justly the prince's comparison to it of the artificial grove at which he was looking.

239:34 I.e., the priest attached to the worship of, etc. For "deacon" see Note 33 to Sect. LXII.

239:35 Ashihara-shiko-wo, one of the many names of the Deity Oho-kuni-nushi ("Master of the Great Land," see Sect. XX, Note 19). the Deity whom the Prince and his followers had just been worshipping.

239:36 These names cannot now be identified, and are of uncertain etymology. Ikakuma seems, however, to mean "curve in the rock." One would have expected in this place, instead of these unknown names, to find a reference to the main temple of the Deity, which was styled Kidzuki no oho-yashiro, i.e., "the great shrine of Kidzuki."

239:37 Some such words as "the changed and more intelligent appearance of the Prince, and his attainment of the power of speech "must be mentally supplied in order to bring out the sense which the author intends to convey.

239:38 These names cannot be identified. Nagaho signifies "long-rice-ear," while ajimasa in modern usage is the name of a palm (the Levistona Sinensis); but Motowori supposes that it formerly designated the palmetto or some cognate tree.

239:39 Hi-naga-hime. The signification of the name is obscure, but it would seem most natural to suppose it connected with the River Hi which figures in the Idzumo cycle of legends. A proposal of Motowori's to read Koye-naga instead of the traditional Hi-naga seems scarcely to be meant in earnest. If accepted, it would give us the meaning of "fat and long princess," with reference to the story of her being a serpent.

239:40 It will be remembered that the Province of Idzumo is a maritime one, and that the fugitives might be supposed to reach the sea-shore in their flight. It is true that this is exactly the reverse of the direction which they would be obliged to take in travelling up to the capital, which was in Yamato.

239:41 I.e., p. 244 the depressions or valleys separating one mountain from another.

239:42 In the original Totori-be, Torikahi-be, Homuji-be, Oho-yuwe and Waka-yuwe. All these "gentile names" have a meaning connecting them either really or apparently with the story above related,—to-tori signifying "bird-catcher" and tohi-kahi "bird-feeder," while the name of the Homuji Clan is of course derived from that of the Prince (Homuchi or Homuji), and Oho-yuwe and Waka-yuwe signify respectively "elder bather "and "younger bather."

Next: Section LXXIII. Emperor Sui-nin (Part. V.—His Later Wives.)