Chapter Four. A Pilgrimage to Enoshima



A long, straggling country village, between low wooded hills, with a canal passing through it. Old Japanese cottages, dingy, neutral-tinted, with roofs of thatch, very steeply sloping, above their wooden walls and paper shoji. Green patches on all the roof-slopes, some sort of grass; and on the very summits, on the ridges, luxurious growths of yaneshobu, [1] the roof-plant, bearing pretty purple flowers. In the lukewarm air a mingling of Japanese odours, smells of sake, smells of seaweed soup, smells of daikon, the strong native radish; and dominating all, a sweet, thick, heavy scent of incense, - incense from the shrines of gods.

Akira has hired two jinricksha for our pilgrimage; a speckless azure sky arches the world; and the land lies glorified in a joy of sunshine. And yet a sense of melancholy, of desolation unspeakable, weighs upon me as we roll along the bank of the tiny stream, between the mouldering lines of wretched little homes with grass growing on their roofs. For this mouldering hamlet represents all that remains of the million-peopled streets of Yoritomo's capital, the mighty city of the Shogunate, the ancient seat of feudal power, whither came the envoys of Kublai Khan demanding tribute, to lose their heads for their temerity. And only some of the unnumbered temples of the once magnificent city now remain, saved from the conflagrations of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, doubtless because built in high places, or because isolated from the maze of burning streets by vast courts and groves. Here still dwell the ancient gods in the great silence of their decaying temples, without worshippers, without revenues, surrounded by desolations of rice-fields, where the chanting of frogs replaces the sea-like murmur of the city that was and is not.


The first great temple - En-gaku-ji - invites us to cross the canal by a little bridge facing its outward gate - a roofed gate with fine Chinese lines, but without carving. Passing it, we ascend a long, imposing succession of broad steps, leading up through a magnificent grove to a terrace, where we reach the second gate. This gate is a surprise; a stupendous structure of two stories - with huge sweeping curves of roof and enormous gables - antique, Chinese, magnificent. It is more than four hundred years old, but seems scarcely affected by the wearing of the centuries. The whole of the ponderous and complicated upper structure is sustained upon an open-work of round, plain pillars and cross-beams; the vast eaves are full of bird-nests; and the storm of twittering from the roofs is like a rushing of water. Immense the work is, and imposing in its aspect of settled power; but, in its way, it has great severity: there are no carvings, no gargoyles, no dragons; and yet the maze of projecting timbers below the eaves will both excite and delude expectation, so strangely does it suggest the grotesqueries and fantasticalities of another art. You look everywhere for the heads of lions, elephants, dragons, and see only the four-angled ends of beams, and feel rather astonished than disappointed. The majesty of the edifice could not have been strengthened by any such carving.

After the gate another long series of wide steps, and more trees, millennial, thick-shadowing, and then the terrace of the temple itself, with two beautiful stone lanterns (toro) at its entrance. The architecture of the temple resembles that of the gate, although on a lesser scale. Over the doors is a tablet with Chinese characters, signifying, 'Great, Pure, Clear, Shining Treasure.' But a heavy framework of wooden bars closes the sanctuary, and there is no one to let us in. Peering between the bars I see, in a sort of twilight, first a pavement of squares of marble, then an aisle of massive wooden pillars upholding the dim lofty roof, and at the farther end, between the pillars, Shaka, colossal, black-visaged, gold-robed, enthroned upon a giant lotus fully forty feet in circumference. At his right hand some white mysterious figure stands, holding an incense-box; at his left, another white figure is praying with clasped hands. Both are of superhuman stature. But it is too dark within the edifice to discern who they may be - whether disciples of the Buddha, or divinities, or figures of saints.

Beyond this temple extends an immense grove of trees - ancient cedars and pines - with splendid bamboos thickly planted between them, rising perpendicularly as masts to mix their plumes with the foliage of the giants: the effect is tropical, magnificent. Through this shadowing, a flight of broad stone steps slant up gently to some yet older shrine. And ascending them we reach another portal, smaller than the imposing Chinese structure through which we already passed, but wonderful, weird, full of dragons, dragons of a form which sculptors no longer carve, which they have even forgotten how to make, winged dragons rising from a storm-whirl of waters or thereinto descending. The dragon upon the panel of the left gate has her mouth closed; the jaws of the dragon on the panel of the right gate are open and menacing. Female and male they are, like the lions of Buddha. And the whirls of the eddying water, and the crests of the billowing, stand out from the panel in astonishing boldness of relief, in loops and curlings of grey wood time-seasoned to the hardness of stone.

The little temple beyond contains no celebrated image, but a shari only, or relic of Buddha, brought from India. And I cannot see it, having no time to wait until the absent keeper of the shari can be found.


'Now we shall go to look at the big bell,' says Akira.

We turn to the left as we descend along a path cut between hills faced for the height of seven or eight feet with protection-walls made green by moss; and reach a flight of extraordinarily dilapidated steps, with grass springing between their every joint and break - steps so worn down and displaced by countless feet that they have become ruins, painful and even dangerous to mount. We reach the summit, however, without mishap, and find ourselves before a little temple, on the steps of which an old priest awaits us, with smiling bow of welcome. We return his salutation; but ere entering the temple turn to look at the tsurigane on the right - the famous bell.

Under a lofty open shed, with a tilted Chinese roof, the great bell is hung. I should judge it to be fully nine feet high, and about five feet in diameter, with lips about eight inches thick. The shape of it is not like that of our bells, which broaden toward the lips; this has the same diameter through all its height, and it is covered with Buddhist texts cut into the smooth metal of it. It is rung by means of a heavy swinging beam, suspended from the roof by chains, and moved like a battering-ram. There are loops of palm-fibre rope attached to this beam to pull it by; and when you pull hard enough, so as to give it a good swing, it strikes a moulding like a lotus-flower on the side of the bell. This it must have done many hundred times; for the square, flat end of it, though showing the grain of a very dense wood, has been battered into a convex disk with ragged protruding edges, like the surface of a long-used printer's mallet.

A priest makes a sign to me to ring the bell. I first touch the great lips with my hand very lightly; and a musical murmur comes from them. Then I set the beam swinging strongly; and a sound deep as thunder, rich as the bass of a mighty organ - a sound enormous, extraordinary, yet beautiful - rolls over the hills and away. Then swiftly follows another and lesser and sweeter billowing of tone; then another; then an eddying of waves of echoes. Only once was it struck, the astounding bell; yet it continues to sob and moan for at least ten minutes!

And the age of this bell is six hundred and fifty years. [2]

In the little temple near by, the priest shows us a series of curious paintings, representing the six hundredth anniversary of the casting of the bell. (For this is a sacred bell, and the spirit of a god is believed to dwell within it.) Otherwise the temple has little of interest. There are some kakemono representing Iyeyasu and his retainers; and on either side of the door, separating the inner from the outward sanctuary, there are life-size images of Japanese warriors in antique costume. On the altars of the inner shrine are small images, grouped upon a miniature landscape-work of painted wood - the Jiugo-Doji, or Fifteen Youths - the Sons of the Goddess Benten. There are gohei before the shrine, and a mirror upon it; emblems of Shinto. The sanctuary has changed hands in the great transfer of Buddhist temples to the State religion.

In nearly every celebrated temple little Japanese prints are sold, containing the history of the shrine, and its miraculous legends. I find several such things on sale at the door of the temple, and in one of them, ornamented with a curious engraving of the bell, I discover, with Akira's aid, the following traditions:-


In the twelfth year of Bummei, this bell rang itself. And one who laughed on being told of the miracle, met with misfortune; and another, who believed, thereafter prospered, and obtained all his desires.

Now, in that time there died in the village of Tamanawa a sick man whose name was Ono-no-Kimi; and Ono-no-Kimi descended to the region of the dead, and went before the Judgment-Seat of Emma-O. And Emma, Judge of Souls, said to him, 'You come too soon! The measure of life allotted you in the Shaba-world has not yet been exhausted. Go back at once.' But Ono-no-Kimi pleaded, saying, 'How may I go back, not knowing my way through the darkness?' And Emma answered him, 'You can find your way back by listening to the sound of the bell of En-gaku-ji, which is heard in the Nan-en-budi world, going south.' And Ono-no-Kimi went south, and heard the bell, and found his way through the darknesses, and revived in the Shaba-world.

Also in those days there appeared in many provinces a Buddhist priest of giant stature, whom none remembered to have seen before, and whose name no man knew, travelling through the land, and everywhere exhorting the people to pray before the bell of En-gaku-ji. And it was at last discovered that the giant pilgrim was the holy bell itself, transformed by supernatural power into the form of a priest. And after these things had happened, many prayed before the bell, and obtained their wishes.


'Oh! there is something still to see,' my guide exclaims as we reach the great Chinese gate again; and he leads the way across the grounds by another path to a little hill, previously hidden from view by trees. The face of the hill, a mass of soft stone perhaps one hundred feet high, is hollowed out into chambers, full of images. These look like burial- caves; and the images seem funereal monuments. There are two stories of chambers - three above, two below; and the former are connected with the latter by a narrow interior stairway cut through the living rock. And all around the dripping walls of these chambers on pedestals are grey slabs, shaped exactly like the haka in Buddhist cemeteries, and chiselled with figures of divinities in high relief. All have glory- disks: some are nave and sincere like the work of our own mediaeval image-makers. Several are not unfamiliar. I have seen before, in the cemetery of Kuboyama, this kneeling woman with countless shadowy hands; and this figure tiara-coiffed, slumbering with one knee raised, and cheek pillowed upon the left hand - the placid and pathetic symbol of the perpetual rest. Others, like Madonnas, hold lotus-flowers, and their feet rest upon the coils of a serpent. I cannot see them all, for the rock roof of one chamber has fallen in; and a sunbeam entering the ruin reveals a host of inaccessible sculptures half buried in rubbish.

But no! - this grotto-work is not for the dead; and these are not haka, as I imagined, but only images of the Goddess of Mercy. These chambers are chapels; and these sculptures are the En-gaku-ji-no-hyaku-Kwannon, 'the Hundred Kwannons of En-gaku-ji.' And I see in the upper chamber above the stairs a granite tablet in a rock-niche, chiselled with an inscription in Sanscrit transliterated into Chinese characters, 'Adoration to the great merciful Kwan-ze-on, who looketh down above the sound of prayer.' [3]


Entering the grounds of the next temple, the Temple of Ken-cho-ji, through the 'Gate of the Forest of Contemplative Words,' and the 'Gate of the Great Mountain of Wealth,' one might almost fancy one's self reentering, by some queer mistake, the grounds of En-gaku-ji. For the third gate before us, and the imposing temple beyond it, constructed upon the same models as those of the structures previously visited, were also the work of the same architect. Passing this third gate - colossal, severe, superb - we come to a fountain of bronze before the temple doors, an immense and beautiful lotus-leaf of metal, forming a broad shallow basin kept full to the brim by a jet in its midst.

This temple also is paved with black and white square slabs, and we can enter it with our shoes. Outside it is plain and solemn as that of En- gaku-ji; but the interior offers a more extraordinary spectacle of faded splendour. In lieu of the black Shaka throned against a background of flamelets, is a colossal Jizo-Sama, with a nimbus of fire - a single gilded circle large as a wagon-wheel, breaking into fire-tongues at three points. He is seated upon an enormous lotus of tarnished gold - over the lofty edge of which the skirt of his robe trails down. Behind him, standing on ascending tiers of golden steps, are glimmering hosts of miniature figures of him, reflections, multiplications of him, ranged there by ranks of hundreds - the Thousand Jizo. From the ceiling above him droop the dingy splendours of a sort of dais-work, a streaming circle of pendants like a fringe, shimmering faintly through the webbed dust of centuries. And the ceiling itself must once have been a marvel; all beamed in caissons, each caisson containing, upon a gold ground, the painted figure of a flying bird. Formerly the eight great pillars supporting the roof were also covered with gilding; but only a few traces of it linger still upon their worm-pierced surfaces, and about the bases of their capitals. And there are wonderful friezes above the doors, from which all colour has long since faded away, marvellous grey old carvings in relief; floating figures of tennin, or heavenly spirits playing upon flutes and biwa.

There is a chamber separated by a heavy wooden screen from the aisle on the right; and the priest in charge of the building slides the screen aside, and bids us enter. In this chamber is a drum elevated upon a brazen stand, - the hugest I ever saw, fully eighteen feet in circumference. Beside it hangs a big bell, covered with Buddhist texts. I am sorry to learn that it is prohibited to sound the great drum. There is nothing else to see except some dingy paper lanterns figured with the svastika - the sacred Buddhist symbol called by the Japanese manji.


Akira tells me that in the book called Jizo-kyo-Kosui, this legend is related of the great statue of Jizo in this same ancient temple of Ken- cho-ji.

Formerly there lived at Kamakura the wife of a Ronin [4] named Soga Sadayoshi. She lived by feeding silkworms and gathering the silk. She used often to visit the temple of Kencho-ji; and one very cold day that she went there, she thought that the image of Jizo looked like one suffering from cold; and she resolved to make a cap to keep the god's head warm - such a cap as the people of the country wear in cold weather. And she went home and made the cap and covered the god's head with it, saying, 'Would I were rich enough to give thee a warm covering for all thine august body; but, alas! I am poor, and even this which I offer thee is unworthy of thy divine acceptance.'

Now this woman very suddenly died in the fiftieth year of her age, in the twelfth month of the fifth year of the period called Chisho. But her body remained warm for three days, so that her relatives would not suffer her to be taken to the burning-ground. And on the evening of the third day she came to life again.

Then she related that on the day of her death she had gone before the judgment-seat of Emma, king and judge of the dead. And Emma, seeing her, became wroth, and said to her: 'You have been a wicked woman, and have scorned the teaching of the Buddha. All your life you have passed in destroying the lives of silkworms by putting them into heated water. Now you shall go to the Kwakkto-Jigoku, and there burn until your sins shall be expiated.' Forthwith she was seized and dragged by demons to a great pot filled with molten metal, and thrown into the pot, and she cried out horribly. And suddenly Jizo-Sama descended into the molten metal beside her, and the metal became like a flowing of oil and ceased to burn; and Jizo put his arms about her and lifted her out. And he went with her before King Emma, and asked that she should be pardoned for his sake, forasmuch as she had become related to him by one act of goodness. So she found pardon, and returned to the Shaba-world.

'Akira,' I ask, 'it cannot then be lawful, according to Buddhism, for any one to wear silk?'

'Assuredly not,' replies Akira; 'and by the law of Buddha priests are expressly forbidden to wear silk. Nevertheless.' he adds with that quiet smile of his, in which I am beginning to discern suggestions of sarcasm, 'nearly all the priests wear silk.'


Akira also tells me this:

It is related in the seventh volume of the book Kamakurashi that there was formerly at Kamakura a temple called Emmei-ji, in which there was enshrined a famous statue of Jizo, called Hadaka-Jizo, or Naked Jizo. The statue was indeed naked, but clothes were put upon it; and it stood upright with its feet upon a chessboard. Now, when pilgrims came to the temple and paid a certain fee, the priest of the temple would remove the clothes of the statue; and then all could see that, though the face was the face of Jizo, the body was the body of a woman.

Now this was the origin of the famous image of Hadaka-Jizo standing upon the chessboard. On one occasion the great prince Taira-no-Tokyori was playing chess with his wife in the presence of many guests. And he made her agree, after they had played several games, that whosoever should lose the next game would have to stand naked on the chessboard. And in the next game they played his wife lost. And she prayed to Jizo to save her from the shame of appearing naked. And Jizo came in answer to her prayer and stood upon the chessboard, and disrobed himself, and changed his body suddenly into the body of a woman.


As we travel on, the road curves and narrows between higher elevations, and becomes more sombre. 'Oi! mat!' my Buddhist guide calls softly to the runners; and our two vehicles halt in a band of sunshine, descending, through an opening in the foliage of immense trees, over a flight of ancient mossy steps. 'Here,' says my friend, 'is the temple of the King of Death; it is called Emma-Do; and it is a temple of the Zen sect - Zen-Oji. And it is more than seven hundred years old, and there is a famous statue in it.'

We ascend to a small, narrow court in which the edifice stands. At the head of the steps, to the right, is a stone tablet, very old, with characters cut at least an inch deep into the granite of it, Chinese characters signifying, 'This is the Temple of Emma, King.'

The temple resembles outwardly and inwardly the others we have visited, and, like those of Shaka and of the colossal Jizo of Kamakura, has a paved floor, so that we are not obliged to remove our shoes on entering. Everything is worn, dim, vaguely grey; there is a pungent scent of mouldiness; the paint has long ago peeled away from the naked wood of the pillars. Throned to right and left against the high walls tower nine grim figures - five on one side, four on the other - wearing strange crowns with trumpet-shapen ornaments; figures hoary with centuries, and so like to the icon of Emma, which I saw at Kuboyama, that I ask, 'Are all these Emma?' 'Oh, no!' my guide answers; 'these are his attendants only - the Jiu-O, the Ten Kings.' 'But there are only nine?' I query. 'Nine, and Emma completes the number. You have not yet seen Emma.'

Where is he? I see at the farther end of the chamber an altar elevated upon a platform approached by wooden steps; but there is no image, only the usual altar furniture of gilded bronze and lacquer-ware. Behind the altar I see only a curtain about six feet square - a curtain once dark red, now almost without any definite hue - probably veiling some alcove. A temple guardian approaches, and invites us to ascend the platform. I remove my shoes before mounting upon the matted surface, and follow the guardian behind the altar, in front of the curtain. He makes me a sign to look, and lifts the veil with a long rod. And suddenly, out of the blackness of some mysterious profundity masked by that sombre curtain, there glowers upon me an apparition at the sight of which I involuntarily start back - a monstrosity exceeding all anticipation - a Face. [5]

A Face tremendous, menacing, frightful, dull red, as with the redness of heated iron cooling into grey. The first shock of the vision is no doubt partly due to the somewhat theatrical manner in which the work is suddenly revealed out of darkness by the lifting of the curtain. But as the surprise passes I begin to recognise the immense energy of the conception - to look for the secret of the grim artist. The wonder of the I creation is not in the tiger frown, nor in the violence of the terrific mouth, nor in the fury and ghastly colour of the head as a whole: it is in the eyes - eyes of nightmare.


Now this weird old temple has its legend.

Seven hundred years ago, 'tis said, there died the great image-maker, the great busshi; Unke-Sosei. And Unke-Sosei signifies 'Unke who returned from the dead.' For when he came before Emma, the Judge of Souls, Emma said to him: 'Living, thou madest no image of me. Go back unto earth and make one, now that thou hast looked upon me.' And Unke found himself suddenly restored to the world of men; and they that had known him before, astonished to see him alive again, called him Unke- Sosei. And Unke-Sosei, bearing with him always the memory of the countenance of Emma, wrought this image of him, which still inspires fear in all who behold it; and he made also the images of the grim Jiu- O, the Ten Kings obeying Emma, which sit throned about the temple.

I want to buy a picture of Emma, and make my wish known to the temple guardian. Oh, yes, I may buy a picture of Emma, but I must first see the Oni. I follow the guardian Out of the temple, down the mossy steps, and across the village highway into a little Japanese cottage, where I take my seat upon the floor. The guardian disappears behind a screen, and presently returns dragging with him the Oni - the image of a demon, naked, blood-red, indescribably ugly. The Oni is about three feet high. He stands in an attitude of menace, brandishing a club. He has a head shaped something like the head of a bulldog, with brazen eyes; and his feet are like the feet of a lion. Very gravely the guardian turns the grotesquery round and round, that I may admire its every aspect; while a nave crowd collects before the open door to look at the stranger and the demon.

Then the guardian finds me a rude woodcut of Emma, with a sacred inscription printed upon it; and as soon as I have paid for it, he proceeds to stamp the paper, with the seal of the temple. The seal he keeps in a wonderful lacquered box, covered with many wrappings of soft leather. These having been removed, I inspect the seal - an oblong, vermilion-red polished stone, with the design cut in intaglio upon it. He moistens the surface with red ink, presses it upon the corner of the paper bearing the grim picture, and the authenticity of my strange purchase is established for ever.


You do not see the Dai-Butsu as you enter the grounds of his long-vanished temple, and proceed along a paved path across stretches of lawn; great trees hide him. But very suddenly, at a turn, he comes into full view and you start! No matter how many photographs of the colossus you may have already seen, this first vision of the reality is an astonishment. Then you imagine that you are already too near, though the image is at least a hundred yards away. As for me, I retire at once thirty or forty yards back, to get a better view. And the jinricksha man runs after me, laughing and gesticulating, thinking that I imagine the image alive and am afraid of it.

But, even were that shape alive, none could be afraid of it. The gentleness, the dreamy passionlessness of those features, - the immense repose of the whole figure - are full of beauty and charm. And, contrary to all expectation, the nearer you approach the giant Buddha, the greater this charm becomes You look up into the solemnly beautiful face - into the half-closed eyes that seem to watch you through their eyelids of bronze as gently as those of a child; and you feel that the image typifies all that is tender and calm in the Soul of the East. Yet you feel also that only Japanese thought could have created it. Its beauty, its dignity, its perfect repose, reflect the higher life of the race that imagined it; and, though doubtless inspired by some Indian model, as the treatment of the hair and various symbolic marks reveal, the art is Japanese.

So mighty and beautiful the work is, that you will not for some time notice the magnificent lotus-plants of bronze, fully fifteen feet high, planted before the figure, on either side of the great tripod in which incense-rods are burning.

Through an orifice in the right side of the enormous lotus-blossom on which the Buddha is seated, you can enter into the statue. The interior contains a little shrine of Kwannon, and a statue of the priest Yuten, and a stone tablet bearing in Chinese characters the sacred formula, Namu Amida Butsu.

A ladder enables the pilgrim to ascend into the interior of the colossus as high as the shoulders, in which are two little windows commanding a wide prospect of the grounds; while a priest, who acts as guide, states the age of the statue to be six hundred and thirty years, and asks for some small contribution to aid in the erection of a new temple to shelter it from the weather.

For this Buddha once had a temple. A tidal wave following an earthquake swept walls and roof away, but left the mighty Amida unmoved, still meditating upon his lotus.


And we arrive before the far-famed Kamakura temple of Kwannon - Kwannon, who yielded up her right to the Eternal Peace that she might save the souls of men, and renounced Nirvana to suffer with humanity for other myriad million ages - Kwannon, the Goddess of Pity and of Mercy.

I climb three flights of steps leading to the temple, and a young girl, seated at the threshold, rises to greet us. Then she disappears within the temple to summon the guardian priest, a venerable man, white-robed, who makes me a sign to enter.

The temple is large as any that I have yet seen, and, like the others, grey with the wearing of six hundred years. From the roof there hang down votive offerings, inscriptions, and lanterns in multitude, painted with various pleasing colours. Almost opposite to the entrance is a singular statue, a seated figure, of human dimensions and most human aspect, looking upon us with small weird eyes set in a wondrously wrinkled face. This face was originally painted flesh-tint, and the robes of the image pale blue; but now the whole is uniformly grey with age and dust, and its colourlessness harmonises so well with the senility of the figure that one is almost ready to believe one's self gazing at a living mendicant pilgrim. It is Benzuru, the same personage whose famous image at Asakusa has been made featureless by the wearing touch of countless pilgrim-fingers. To left and right of the entrance are the Ni-O, enormously muscled, furious of aspect; their crimson bodies are speckled with a white scum of paper pellets spat at them by worshippers. Above .the altar is a small but very pleasing image of Kwannon, with her entire figure relieved against an oblong halo of gold, imitating the flickering of flame.

But this is not the image for which the temple is famed; there is another to be seen upon certain conditions. The old priest presents me with a petition, written in excellent and eloquent English, praying visitors to contribute something to the maintenance of the temple and its pontiff, and appealing to those of another faith to remember that 'any belief which can make men kindly and good is worthy of respect.' I contribute my mite, and I ask to see the great Kwannon.

Then the old priest lights a lantern, and leads the way, through a low doorway on the left of the altar, into the interior of the temple, into some very lofty darkness. I follow him cautiously awhile, discerning nothing whatever but the flicker of the lantern; then we halt before something which gleams. A moment, and my eyes, becoming more accustomed to the darkness, begin to distinguish outlines; the gleaming object defines itself gradually as a Foot, an immense golden Foot, and I perceive the hem of a golden robe undulating over the instep. Now the other foot appears; the figure is certainly standing. I can perceive that we are in a narrow but also very lofty chamber, and that out of some mysterious blackness overhead ropes are dangling down into the circle of lantern-light illuminating the golden feet. The priest lights two more lanterns, and suspends them upon hooks attached to a pair of pendent ropes about a yard apart; then he pulls up both together slowly. More of the golden robe is revealed as the lanterns ascend, swinging on their way; then the outlines of two mighty knees; then the curving of columnar thighs under chiselled drapery, and, as with the still waving ascent of the lanterns the golden Vision towers ever higher through the gloom, expectation intensifies. There is no sound but the sound of the invisible pulleys overhead, which squeak like bats. Now above the golden girdle, the suggestion of a bosom. Then the glowing of a golden hand uplifted in benediction. Then another golden hand holding a lotus. And at last a Face, golden, smiling with eternal youth and infinite tenderness, the face of Kwannon.

So revealed out of the consecrated darkness, this ideal of divine feminity - creation of a forgotten art and time - is more than impressive. I can scarcely call the emotion which it produces admiration; it is rather reverence. But the lanterns, which paused awhile at the level of the beautiful face, now ascend still higher, with a fresh squeaking of pulleys. And lo! the tiara of the divinity appears with strangest symbolism. It is a pyramid of heads, of faces-charming faces of maidens, miniature faces of Kwannon herself.

For this is the Kwannon of the Eleven Faces - Jiu-ichimen-Kwannon.


Most sacred this statue is held; and this is its legend.

In the reign of Emperor Gensei, there lived in the province of Yamato a Buddhist priest, Tokudo Shonin, who had been in a previous birth Hold Bosatsu, but had been reborn among common men to save their souls. Now at that time, in a valley in Yamato, Tokudo Shonin, walking by night, saw a wonderful radiance; and going toward it found that it came from the trunk of a great fallen tree, a kusunoki, or camphor-tree. A delicious perfume came from the tree, and the shining of it was like the shining of the moon. And by these signs Tokudo Shonin knew that the wood was holy; and he bethought him that he should have the statue of Kwannon carved from it. And he recited a sutra, and repeated the Nenbutsu, praying for inspiration; and even while he prayed there came and stood before him an aged man and an aged woman; and these said to him, 'We know that your desire is to have the image of Kwannon-Sama carved from this tree with the help of Heaven; continue therefore, to pray, and we shall carve the statue.'

And Tokudo Shonin did as they bade him; and he saw them easily split the vast trunk into two equal parts, and begin to carve each of the parts into an image. And he saw them so labour for three days; and on the third day the work was done - and he saw the two marvellous statues of Kwannon made perfect before him. And he said to the strangers: 'Tell me, I pray you, by what names you are known.' Then the old man answered: 'I am Kasuga Myojin.' And the woman answered: 'I am called Ten-sho-ko-dai- jin; I am the Goddess of the Sun.' And as they spoke both became transfigured and ascended to heaven and vanished from the sight of Tokudo Shonin. [6]

And the Emperor, hearing of these happenings, sent his representative to Yamato to make offerings, and to have a temple built. Also the great priest, Gyogi-Bosatsu, came and consecrated the images, and dedicated the temple which by order of the Emperor was built. And one of the statues he placed in the temple, enshrining it, and commanding it: 'Stay thou here always to save all living creatures!' But the other statue he cast into the sea, saying to it: 'Go thou whithersoever it is best, to save all the living.'

Now the statue floated to Kamakura. And there arriving by night it shed a great radiance all about it as if there were sunshine upon the sea; and the fishermen of Kamakura were awakened by the great light; and they went out in boats, and found the statue floating and brought it to shore. And the Emperor ordered that a temple should be built for it, the temple called Shin-haseidera, on the mountain called Kaiko-San, at Kamakura.


As we leave the temple of Kwannon behind us, there are no more dwellings visible along the road; the green slopes to left and right become steeper, and the shadows of the great trees deepen over us. But still, at intervals, some flight of venerable mossy steps, a carven Buddhist gateway, or a lofty torii, signals the presence of sanctuaries we have no time to visit: countless crumbling shrines are all around us, dumb witnesses to the antique splendour and vastness of the dead capital; and everywhere, mingled with perfume of blossoms, hovers the sweet, resinous smell of Japanese incense. Be-times we pass a scattered multitude of sculptured stones, like segments of four-sided pillars - old haka, the forgotten tombs of a long-abandoned cemetery; or the solitary image of some Buddhist deity - a dreaming Amida or faintly smiling Kwannon. All are ancient, time-discoloured, mutilated; a few have been weather-worn into unrecognisability. I halt a moment to contemplate something pathetic, a group of six images of the charming divinity who cares for the ghosts of little children - the Roku-Jizo. Oh, how chipped and scurfed and mossed they are! Five stand buried almost up to their shoulders in a heaping of little stones, testifying to the prayers of generations; and votive yodarekake, infant bibs of divers colours, have been put about the necks of these for the love of children lost. But one of the gentle god's images lies shattered and overthrown in its own scattered pebble-pile-broken perhaps by some passing wagon.


The road slopes before us as we go, sinks down between cliffs steep as the walls of a ca+-on, and curves. Suddenly we emerge from the cliffs, and reach the sea. It is blue like the unclouded sky - a soft dreamy blue.

And our path turns sharply to the right, and winds along cliff-summits overlooking a broad beach of dun-coloured sand; and the sea wind blows deliciously with a sweet saline scent, urging the lungs to fill themselves to the very utmost; and far away before me, I perceive a beautiful high green mass, an island foliage-covered, rising out of the water about a quarter of a mile from the mainland - Enoshima, the holy island, sacred to the goddess of the sea, the goddess of beauty. I can already distinguish a tiny town, grey-sprinkling its steep slope. Evidently it can be reached to-day on foot, for the tide is out, and has left bare a long broad reach of sand, extending to it, from the opposite village which we are approaching, like a causeway.

At Katase, the little settlement facing the island, we must leave our jinricksha and walk; the dunes between the village and the beach are too deep to pull the vehicle over. Scores of other jinricksha are waiting here in the little narrow street for pilgrims who have preceded me. But to-day, I am told, I am the only European who visits the shrine of Benten.

Our two men lead the way over the dunes, and we soon descend upon damp firm sand.

As we near the island the architectural details of the little town define delightfully through the faint sea-haze - curved bluish sweeps of fantastic roofs, angles of airy balconies, high-peaked curious gables, all above a fluttering of queerly shaped banners covered with mysterious lettering. We pass the sand-flats; and the ever-open Portal of the Sea- city, the City of the Dragon-goddess, is before us, a beautiful torii. All of bronze it is, with shimenawa of bronze above it, and a brazen tablet inscribed with characters declaring: 'This is the Palace of the Goddess of Enoshima.' About the bases of the ponderous pillars are strange designs in relievo, eddyings of waves with tortoises struggling in the flow. This is really the gate of the city, facing the shrine of Benten by the land approach; but it is only the third torii of the imposing series through Katase: we did not see the others, having come by way of the coast.

And lo! we are in Enoshima. High before us slopes the single street, a street of broad steps, a street shadowy, full of multi-coloured flags and dank blue drapery dashed with white fantasticalities, which are words, fluttered by the sea wind. It is lined with taverns and miniature shops. At every one I must pause to look; and to dare to look at anything in Japan is to want to buy it. So I buy, and buy, and buy!

For verily 'tis the City of Mother-of-Pearl, this Enoshima. In every shop, behind the' lettered draperies there are miracles of shell-work for sale at absurdly small prices. The glazed cases laid flat upon the matted platforms, the shelved cabinets set against the walls, are all opalescent with nacreous things - extraordinary surprises, incredible ingenuities; strings of mother-of-pearl fish, strings of mother-of-pearl birds, all shimmering with rainbow colours. There are little kittens of mother-of-pearl, and little foxes of mother-of-pearl, and little puppies of mother-of-pearl, and girls' hair-combs, and cigarette-holders, and pipes too beautiful to use. There are little tortoises, not larger than a shilling, made of shells, that, when you touch them, however lightly, begin to move head, legs, and tail, all at the same time, alternately withdrawing or protruding their limbs so much like real tortoises as to give one a shock of surprise. There are storks and birds, and beetles and butterflies, and crabs and lobsters, made so cunningly of shells, that only touch convinces you they are not alive. There are bees of shell, poised on flowers of the same material - poised on wire in such a way that they seem to buzz if moved only with the tip of a feather. There is shell-work jewellery indescribable, things that Japanese girls love, enchantments in mother-of-pearl, hair-pins carven in a hundred forms, brooches, necklaces. And there are photographs of Enoshima.


This curious street ends at another torii, a wooden torii, with a steeper flight of stone steps ascending to it. At the foot of the steps are votive stone lamps and a little well, and a stone tank at which all pilgrims wash their hands and rinse their mouths before approaching the temples of the gods. And hanging beside the tank are bright blue towels, with large white Chinese characters upon them. I ask Akira what these characters signify:

'Ho-Keng is the sound of the characters in the Chinese; but in Japanese the same characters are pronounced Kenjitatetmatsuru, and signify that those towels are mostly humbly offered to Benten. They are what you call votive offerings. And there are many kinds of votive offerings made to famous shrines. Some people give towels, some give pictures, some give vases; some offer lanterns of paper, or bronze, or stone. It is common to promise such offerings when making petitions to the gods; and it is usual to promise a torii. The torii may be small or great according to the wealth of him who gives it; the very rich pilgrim may offer to the gods a torii of metal, such as that below, which is the Gate of Enoshima.'

'Akira, do the Japanese always keep their vows to the gods?'

Akira smiles a sweet smile, and answers: 'There was a man who promised to build a torii of good metal if his prayers were granted. And he obtained all that he desired. And then he built a torii with three exceedingly small needles.'


Ascending the steps, we reach a terrace, overlooking all the city roofs. There are Buddhist lions of stone and stone lanterns, mossed and chipped, on either side the torii; and the background of the terrace is the sacred hill, covered with foliage. To the left is a balustrade of stone, old and green, surrounding a shallow pool covered with scum of water-weed. And on the farther bank above it, out of the bushes, protrudes a strangely shaped stone slab, poised on edge, and covered with Chinese characters. It is a sacred stone, and is believed to have the form of a great frog, gama; wherefore it is called Gama-ishi, the Frog-stone. Here and there along the edge of the terrace are other graven monuments, one of which is the offering of certain pilgrims who visited the shrine of the sea-goddess one hundred times. On the right other flights of steps lead to loftier terraces; and an old man, who sits at the foot of them, making bird-cages of bamboo, offers himself as guide.

We follow him to the next terrace, where there is a school for the children of Enoshima, and another sacred stone, huge and shapeless: Fuku-ishi, the Stone of Good Fortune. In old times pilgrims who rubbed their hands upon it believed they would thereby gain riches; and the stone is polished and worn by the touch of innumerable palms.

More steps and more green-mossed lions and lanterns, and another terrace with a little temple in its midst, the first shrine of Benten. Before it a few stunted palm-trees are growing. There is nothing in the shrine of interest, only Shinto emblems. But there is another well beside it with other votive towels, and there is another mysterious monument, a stone shrine brought from China six hundred years ago. Perhaps it contained some far-famed statue before this place of pilgrimage was given over to the priests of Shinto. There is nothing in it now; the monolith slab forming the back of it has been fractured by the falling of rocks from the cliff above; and the inscription cut therein has been almost effaced by some kind of scum. Akira reads 'Dai-Nippongoku-Enoshima-no-reiseki- ken . . .'; the rest is undecipherable. He says there is a statue in the neighbouring temple, but it is exhibited only once a year, on the fifteenth day of the seventh month.

Leaving the court by a rising path to the left, we proceed along the verge of a cliff overlooking the sea. Perched upon this verge are pretty tea-houses, all widely open to the sea wind, so that, looking through them, over their matted floors and lacquered balconies one sees the ocean as in a picture-frame, and the pale clear horizon specked with snowy sails, and a faint blue-peaked shape also, like a phantom island, the far vapoury silhouette of Oshima. Then we find another torii, and other steps leading to a terrace almost black with shade of enormous evergreen trees, and surrounded on the sea side by another stone balustrade, velveted with moss. On the right more steps, another torii, another terrace; and more mossed green lions and stone lamps; and a monument inscribed with the record of the change whereby Enoshima passed away from Buddhism to become Shino. Beyond, in the centre of another plateau, the second shrine of Benten.

But there is no Benten! Benten has been hidden away by Shinto hands. The second shrine is void as the first. Nevertheless, in a building to the left of the temple, strange relics are exhibited. Feudal armour; suits of plate and chain-mail; helmets with visors which are demoniac masks of iron; helmets crested with dragons of gold; two-handed swords worthy of giants; and enormous arrows, more than five feet long, with shafts nearly an inch in diameter. One has a crescent head about nine inches from horn to horn, the interior edge of the crescent being sharp as a knife. Such a missile would take off a man's head; and I can scarcely believe Akira's assurance that such ponderous arrows were shot from a bow by hand only. There is a specimen of the writing of Nichiren, the great Buddhist priest - gold characters on a blue ground; and there is, in a lacquered shrine, a gilded dragon said to have been made by that still greater priest and writer and master-wizard, Kobodaishi.

A path shaded by overarching trees leads from this plateau to the third shrine. We pass a torii and beyond it come to a stone monument covered with figures of monkeys chiselled in relief. What the signification of this monument is, even our guide cannot explain. Then another torii. It is of wood; but I am told it replaces one of metal, stolen in the night by thieves. Wonderful thieves! that torii must have weighed at least a ton! More stone lanterns; then an immense count, on the very summit of the mountain, and there, in its midst, the third and chief temple of Benten. And before the temple is a Lange vacant space surrounded by a fence in such manner as to render the shrine totally inaccessible. Vanity and vexation of spirit!

There is, however, a little haiden, or place of prayer, with nothing in it but a money-box and a bell, before the fence, and facing the temple steps. Here the pilgrims make their offerings and pray. Only a small raised platform covered with a Chinese roof supported upon four plain posts, the back of the structure being closed by a lattice about breast high. From this praying-station we can look into the temple of Beaten, and see that Benten is not there.

But I perceive that the ceiling is arranged in caissons; and in a central caisson I discover a very curious painting-a foreshortened Tortoise, gazing down at me. And while I am looking at it I hear Akira and the guide laughing; and the latter exclaims, 'Benten-Sama!'

A beautiful little damask snake is undulating up the lattice-work, poking its head through betimes to look at us. It does not seem in the least afraid, nor has it much reason to be, seeing that its kind are deemed the servants and confidants of Benten. Sometimes the great goddess herself assumes the serpent form; perhaps she has come to see us.

Near by is a singular stone, set on a pedestal in the court. It has the form of the body of a tortoise, and markings like those of the creature's shell; and it is held a sacred thing, and is called the Tortoise-stone. But I fear exceedingly that in all this place we shall find nothing save stones and serpents!


Now we are going to visit the Dragon cavern, not so called, Akira says, because the Dragon of Benten ever dwelt therein, but because the shape of the cavern is the shape of a dragon. The path descends toward the opposite side of the island, and suddenly breaks into a flight of steps cut out of the pale hard rock - exceedingly steep, and worn, and slippery, and perilous - overlooking the sea. A vision of low pale rocks, and surf bursting among them, and a toro or votive stone lamp in the centre of them - all seen as in a bird's-eye view, over the verge of an awful precipice. I see also deep, round holes in one of the rocks. There used to be a tea-house below; and the wooden pillars supporting it were fitted into those holes. I descend with caution; the Japanese seldom slip in their straw sandals, but I can only proceed with the aid of the guide. At almost every step I slip. Surely these steps could never have been thus worn away by the straw sandals of pilgrims who came to see only stones and serpents!

At last we reach a plank gallery carried along the face of the cliff above the rocks and pools, and following it round a projection of the cliff enter the sacred cave. The light dims as we advance; and the sea-waves, running after us into the gloom, make a stupefying roar, multiplied by the extraordinary echo. Looking back, I see the mouth of the cavern like a prodigious sharply angled rent in blackness, showing a fragment of azure sky.

We reach a shrine with no deity in it, pay a fee; and lamps being lighted and given to each of us, we proceed to explore a series of underground passages. So black they are that even with the light of three lamps, I can at first see nothing. In a while, however, I can distinguish stone figures in relief - chiselled on slabs like those I saw in the Buddhist graveyard. These are placed at regular intervals along the rock walls. The guide approaches his light to the face of each one, and utters a name, 'Daikoku-Sama,' 'Fudo-Sama,' 'Kwannon-Sama.' Sometimes in lieu of a statue there is an empty shrine only, with a money-box before it; and these void shrines have names of Shinto gods, 'Daijingu,' 'Hachiman,' 'Inari-Sama.' All the statues are black, or seem black in the yellow lamplight, and sparkle as if frosted. I feel as if I were in some mortuary pit, some subterranean burial-place of dead gods. Interminable the corridor appears; yet there is at last an end - an end with a shrine in it - where the rocky ceiling descends so low that to reach the shrine one must go down on hands and knees. And there is nothing in the shrine. This is the Tail of the Dragon.

We do not return to the light at once, but enter into other lateral black corridors - the Wings of the Dragon. More sable effigies of dispossessed gods; more empty shrines; more stone faces covered with saltpetre; and more money-boxes, possible only to reach by stooping, where more offerings should be made. And there is no Benten, either of wood or stone.

I am glad to return to the light. Here our guide strips naked, and suddenly leaps head foremost into a black deep swirling current between rocks. Five minutes later he reappears, and clambering out lays at my feet a living, squirming sea-snail and an enormous shrimp. Then he resumes his robe, and we re-ascend the mountain.


'And this,' the reader may say, - 'this is all that you went forth to see: a torii, some shells, a small damask snake, some stones?'

It is true. And nevertheless I know that I am bewitched. There is a charm indefinable about the place - that sort of charm which comes with a little ghostly 'thrill never to be forgotten.

Not of strange sights alone is this charm made, but of numberless subtle sensations and ideas interwoven and inter-blended: the sweet sharp scents of grove and sea; the blood-brightening, vivifying touch of the free wind; the dumb appeal of ancient mystic mossy things; vague reverence evoked by knowledge of treading soil called holy for a thousand years; and a sense of sympathy, as a human duty, compelled by the vision of steps of rock worn down into shapelessness by the pilgrim feet of vanished generations.

And other memories ineffaceable: the first sight of the sea-girt City of Pearl through a fairy veil of haze; the windy approach to the lovely island over the velvety soundless brown stretch of sand; the weird majesty of the giant gate of bronze; the queer, high-sloping, fantastic, quaintly gabled street, flinging down sharp shadows of aerial balconies; the flutter of coloured draperies in the sea wind, and of flags with their riddles of lettering; the pearly glimmering of the astonishing shops.

And impressions of the enormous day - the day of the Land of the Gods - a loftier day than ever our summers know; and the glory of the view from those green sacred silent heights between sea and sun; and the remembrance of the sky, a sky spiritual as holiness, a sky with clouds ghost-pure and white as the light itself - seeming, indeed, not clouds but dreams, or souls of Bodhisattvas about to melt for ever into some blue Nirvana.

And the romance of Benten, too, - the Deity of Beauty, the Divinity of Love, the Goddess of Eloquence. Rightly is she likewise named Goddess of the Sea. For is not the Sea most ancient and most excellent of Speakers - the eternal Poet, chanter of that mystic hymn whose rhythm shakes the world, whose mighty syllables no man may learn?


We return by another route.

For a while the way winds through a long narrow winding valley between wooded hills: the whole extent of bottom-land is occupied by rice-farms; the air has a humid coolness, and one hears only the chanting of frogs, like a clattering of countless castanets, as the jinricksha jolts over the rugged elevated paths separating the flooded rice-fields.

As we skirt the foot of a wooded hill upon the right, my Japanese comrade signals to our runners to halt, and himself dismounting, points to the blue peaked roof of a little temple high-perched on the green slope. 'Is it really worth while to climb up there in the sun?' I ask. 'Oh, yes!' he answers: 'it is the temple of Kishibojin - Kishibojin, the Mother of Demons!'

We ascend a flight of broad stone steps, meet the Buddhist guardian lions at the summit, and enter the little court in which the temple stands. An elderly woman, with a child clinging to her robe, comes from the adjoining building to open the screens for us; and taking off our footgear we enter the temple. Without, the edifice looked old and dingy; but within all is neat and pretty. The June sun, pouring through the open shoji, illuminates an artistic confusion of brasses gracefully shaped and multi-coloured things - images, lanterns, paintings, gilded inscriptions, pendent scrolls. There are three altars.

Above the central altar Amida Buddha sits enthroned on his mystic golden lotus in the attitude of the Teacher. On the altar to the right gleams a shrine of five miniature golden steps, where little images stand in rows, tier above tier, some seated, some erect, male and female, attired like goddesses or like daimyo: the Sanjiubanjin, or Thirty Guardians. Below, on the faade of the altar, is the figure of a hero slaying a monster. On the altar to the left is the shrine of the Mother-of-Demons.

Her story is a legend of horror. For some sin committed in a previous birth, she was born a demon, devouring her own children. But being saved by the teaching of Buddha, she became a divine being, especially loving and protecting infants; and Japanese mothers pray to her for their little ones, and wives pray to her for beautiful boys.

The face of Kishibojin [7] is the face of a comely woman. But her eyes are weird. In her right hand she bears a lotus-blossom; with her left she supports in a fold of her robe, against her half-veiled breast, a naked baby. At the foot of her shrine stands Jizo-Sama, leaning upon his shakujo. But the altar and its images do not form the startling feature of the temple-interior. What impresses the visitor in a totally novel way are the votive offerings. High before the shrine, suspended from strings stretched taut between tall poles of bamboo, are scores, no, hundreds, of pretty, tiny dresses - Japanese baby-dresses of many colours. Most are made of poor material, for these are the thank-offerings of very poor simple women, poor country mothers, whose prayers to Kishibojin for the blessing of children have been heard.

And the sight of all those little dresses, each telling so naively its story of joy and pain - those tiny kimono shaped and sewn by docile patient fingers of humble mothers-touches irresistibly, like some unexpected revelation of the universal mother-love. And the tenderness of all the simple hearts that have testified thus to faith and thankfulness seems to thrill all about me softly, like a caress of summer wind.

Outside the world appears to have suddenly grown beautiful; the light is sweeter; it seems to me there is a new charm even in the azure of the eternal day.


Then, having traversed the valley, we reach a main road so level and so magnificently shaded by huge old trees that I could believe myself in an English lane - a lane in Kent or Surrey, perhaps - but for some exotic detail breaking the illusion at intervals; a torii, towering before temple-steps descending to the highway, or a signboard lettered with Chinese characters, or the wayside shrine of some unknown god.

All at once I observe by the roadside some unfamiliar sculptures in relief - a row of chiselled slabs protected by a little bamboo shed; and I dismount to look at them, supposing them to be funereal monuments. They are so old that the lines of their sculpturing are half obliterated; their feet are covered with moss, and their visages are half effaced. But I can discern that these are not haka, but six images of one divinity; and my guide knows him - Koshin, the God of Roads. So chipped and covered with scurf he is, that the upper portion of his form has become indefinably vague; his attributes have been worn away. But below his feet, on several slabs, chiselled cunningly, I can still distinguish the figures of the Three Apes, his messengers. And some pious soul has left before one image a humble votive offering - the picture of a black cock and a white hen, painted upon a wooden shingle. It must have been left here very long ago; the wood has become almost black, and the painting has been damaged by weather and by the droppings of birds. There are no stones piled at the feet of these images, as before the images of Jizo; they seem like things forgotten, crusted over by the neglect of generations - archaic gods who have lost their worshippers.

But my guide tells me, 'The Temple of Koshin is near, in the village of Fujisawa.' Assuredly I must visit it.


The temple of Koshin is situated in the middle of the village, in a court opening upon the main street. A very old wooden temple it is, unpainted, dilapidated, grey with the greyness of all forgotten and weather-beaten things. It is some time before the guardian of the temple can be found, to open the doors. For this temple has doors in lieu of shoji - old doors that moan sleepily at being turned upon their hinges. And it is not necessary to remove one's shoes; the floor is matless, covered with dust, and squeaks under the unaccustomed weight of entering feet. All within is crumbling, mouldering, worn; the shrine has no image, only Shinto emblems, some poor paper lanterns whose once bright colours have vanished under a coating of dust, some vague inscriptions. I see the circular frame of a metal mirror; but the mirror itself is gone. Whither? The guardian says: 'No priest lives now in this temple; and thieves might come in the night to steal the mirror; so we have hidden it away.' I ask about the image of Koshin. He answers it is exposed but once in every sixty-one years: so I cannot see it; but there are other statues of the god in the temple court.

I go to look at them: a row of images, much like those upon the public highway, but better preserved. One figure of Koshin, however, is different from the others I have seen - apparently made after some Hindoo model, judging by the Indian coiffure, mitre-shaped and lofty. The god has three eyes; one in the centre of his forehead, opening perpendicularly instead of horizontally. He has six arms. With one hand he supports a monkey; with another he grasps a serpent; and the other hands hold out symbolic things - a wheel, a sword, a rosary, a sceptre. And serpents are coiled about his wrists and about his ankles; and under his feet is a monstrous head, the head of a demon, Amanjako, sometimes called Utatesa ('Sadness'). Upon the pedestal below the Three Apes are carven; and the face of an ape appears also upon the front of the god's tiara.

I see also tablets of stone, graven only with the god's name, - votive offerings. And near by, in a tiny wooden shrine, is the figure of the Earth-god, Ken-ro-ji-jin, grey, primeval, vaguely wrought, holding in one hand a spear, in the other a vessel containing something indistinguishable.


Perhaps to uninitiated eyes these many-headed, many-handed gods at first may seem - as they seem always in the sight of Christian bigotry - only monstrous. But when the knowledge of their meaning comes to one who feels the divine in all religions, then they will be found to make appeal to the higher aestheticism, to the sense of moral beauty, with a force never to be divined by minds knowing nothing of the Orient and its thought. To me the image of Kwannon of the Thousand Hands is not less admirable than any other representation of human loveliness idealised bearing her name - the Peerless, the Majestic, the Peace-Giving, or even White Sui-Getsu, who sails the moonlit waters in her rosy boat made of a single lotus-petal; and in the triple-headed Shaka I discern and revere the mighty power of that Truth, whereby, as by a conjunction of suns, the Three Worlds have been illuminated.

But vain to seek to memorise the names and attributes of all the gods; they seem, self-multiplying, to mock the seeker; Kwannon the Merciful is revealed as the Hundred Kwannon; the Six Jizo become the Thousand. And as they multiply before research, they vary and change: less multiform, less complex, less elusive the moving of waters than the visions of this Oriental faith. Into it, as into a fathomless sea, mythology after mythology from India and China and the farther East has sunk and been absorbed; and the stranger, peering into its deeps, finds himself, as in the tale of Undine, contemplating a flood in whose every surge rises and vanishes a Face - weird or beautiful or terrible - a most ancient shoreless sea of forms incomprehensibly interchanging and intermingling, but symbolising the protean magic of that infinite Unknown that shapes and re-shapes for ever all cosmic being.


I wonder if I can buy a picture of Koshin. In most Japanese temples little pictures of the tutelar deity are sold to pilgrims, cheap prints on thin paper. But the temple guardian here tells me, with a gesture of despair, that there are no pictures of Koshin for sale; there is only an old kakemono on which the god is represented. If I would like to see it he will go home and get it for me. I beg him to do me the favour; and he hurries into the street.

While awaiting his return, I continue to examine the queer old statues, with a feeling of mingled melancholy and pleasure. To have studied and loved an ancient faith only through the labours of palaeographers and archaeologists, and as a something astronomically remote from one's own existence, and then suddenly in after years to find the same faith a part of one's human environment, - to feel that its mythology, though senescent, is alive all around you - is almost to realise the dream of the Romantics, to have the sensation of returning through twenty centuries into the life of a happier world. For these quaint Gods of Roads and Gods. of Earth are really living still, though so worn and mossed and feebly worshipped. In this brief moment, at least, I am really in the Elder World - perhaps just at that epoch of it when the primal faith is growing a little old-fashioned, crumbling slowly before the corrosive influence of a new philosophy; and I know myself a pagan still, loving these simple old gods, these gods of a people's childhood.

And they need some human love, these naive, innocent, ugly gods. The beautiful divinities will live for ever by that sweetness of womanhood idealised in the Buddhist art of them: eternal are Kwannon and Benten; they need no help of man; they will compel reverence when the great temples shall all have become voiceless and priestless as this shrine of Koshin is. But these kind, queer, artless, mouldering gods, who have given ease to so many troubled minds, who have gladdened so many simple hearts, who have heard so many innocent prayers - how gladly would I prolong their beneficent lives in spite of the so-called 'laws of progress' and the irrefutable philosophy of evolution!

The guardian returns, bringing with him a kakemono, very small, very dusty, and so yellow-stained by time that it might be a thousand years old. But I am disappointed as I unroll it; there is only a very common print of the god within - all outline. And while I am looking at it, I become for the first time conscious that a crowd has gathered about me, - tanned kindly-faced labourers from the fields, and mothers with their babies on their backs, and school children, and jinricksha men, all wondering that a stranger should be thus interested in their gods. And although the pressure about me is very, very gentle, like a pressure of tepid water for gentleness, I feel a little embarrassed. I give back the old kakemono to the guardian, make my offering to the god, and take my leave of Koshin and his good servant.

All the kind oblique eyes follow me as I go. And something like a feeling of remorse seizes me at thus abruptly abandoning the void, dusty, crumbling temple, with its mirrorless altar and its colourless lanterns, and the decaying sculptures of its neglected court, and its kindly guardian whom I see still watching my retreating steps, with the yellow kakemono in his hand. The whistle of a locomotive warns me that I shall just have time to catch the train. For Western civilisation has invaded all this primitive peace, with its webs of steel, with its ways of iron. This is not of thy roads, O Koshin! - the old gods are dying along its ash-strewn verge!