Notes for Chapter Six
1 The period in which only deities existed.
2 Hyakusho, a peasant, husbandman. The two Chinese characters forming the word signify respectively, 'a hundred' (hyaku), and 'family name' (sei). One might be tempted to infer that the appellation is almost equivalent to our phrase, 'their name is legion.' And a Japanese friend assures me that the inference would not be far wrong. Anciently the peasants had no family name; each was known by his personal appellation, coupled with the name of his lord as possessor or ruler. Thus a hundred peasants on one estate would all be known by the name of their master.
3 This custom of praying for the souls of animals is by no means general. But I have seen in the western provinces several burials of domestic animals at which such prayers were said. After the earth was filled in, some incense-rods were lighted above the grave in each instance, and the prayers were repeated in a whisper. A friend in the capital sends me the following curious information: 'At the Eko-in temple in Tokyo prayers are offered up every morning for the souls of certain animals whose ihai [mortuary tablets] are preserved in the building. A fee of thirty sen will procure burial in the temple-ground and a short service for any small domestic pet.' Doubtless similar temples exist elsewhere. Certainly no one capable of affection for our dumb friends and servants can mock these gentle customs.
4 Why six Jizo instead of five or three or any other number, the reader may ask. I myself asked the question many times before receiving any satisfactory reply. Perhaps the following legend affords the most satisfactory explanation:
According to the Book Taijo-Hoshi-mingyo-nenbutsu-den, Jizo-Bosatsu was a woman ten thousand ko (kalpas) before this era, and became filled with desire to convert all living beings of the Six Worlds and the Four Births. And by virtue of the Supernatural Powers she multiplied herself and simultaneously appeared in all the Rokussho or Six States of Sentient Existence at once, namely in the Jigoku, Gaki, Chikusho, Shura, Ningen, Tenjo, and converted the dwellers thereof. (A friend insists that in order to have done this Jizo must first have become a man.)
Among the many names of Jizo, such as 'The Never Slumbering,' 'The Dragon-Praiser,' 'The Shining King,' 'Diamond-of-Pity,' I find the significant appellation of 'The Countless Bodied.'
5 Since this sketch was written, I have seen the Bon-odori in many different parts of Japan; but I have never witnessed exactly the same kind of dance. Indeed, I would judge from my experiences in Izumo, in Oki, in Tottori, in Hoki, in Bingo, and elsewhere, that the Bonodori is not danced in the same way in any two provinces. Not only do the motions and gestures vary according to locality, but also the airs of the songs sung - and this even when the words are the same. In some places the measure is slow and solemn; in others it is rapid and merry, and characterised by a queer jerky swing, impossible to describe. But everywhere both the motion and the melody are curious and pleasing enough to fascinate the spectator for hours. Certainly these primitive dances are of far greater interest than the performances of geisha. Although Buddhism may have utilised them and influenced them, they are beyond doubt incomparably older than Buddhism.