Notes for Chapter Two

1 This was written early in 1892

2 Quoted from Mr. Satow's masterly essay, 'The Revival of Pure Shinto,' published in the Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan. By 'gods' are not necessarily meant beneficent Kami. Shinto has no devils; but it has its 'bad gods' as well as good deities.

3 Satow, 'The Revival of Pure Shinto.'

4 Ibid.

5 In the sense of Moral Path, - i.e. an ethical system.

6 Satow, 'The Revival of Pure Shinto.' The whole force of Motowori's words will not be fully understood unless the reader knows that the term 'Shinto' is of comparatively modern origin in Japan, - having been borrowed from the Chinese to distinguish the ancient faith from Buddhism; and that the old name for the primitive religion is Kami-no-michi, 'the Way of the Gods.'

7 Satow, 'The Revival of Pure Shinto.'

8 From Kami, 'the [Powers] Above,' or the Gods, and tana, 'a shelf.' The initial 't' of the latter word changes into 'd' in the compound, - just as that of tokkuri, 'a jar' or 'bottle,' becomes dokkuri in the cornpound o-mi kidokkuri.

9 The mirror, as an emblem of female divinities, is kept in the secret innermost shrine of various Shinto temples. But the mirror of metal commonly placed before the public gaze in a Shinto shrine is not really of Shinto origin, but was introduced into Japan as a Buddhist symbol of the Shingon sect. As the mirror is the symbol in Shinto of female divinities, the sword is the emblem of male deities. The real symbols of the god or goddess are not, however, exposed to human gaze under any circumstances.

10 Anciently the two great Shinto festivals on which the miya were thus carried in procession were the Yoshigami-no-matsuri, or festival of the God of the New Year, and the anniversary of Jimmu Tenno to the throne. The second of these is still observed. The celebration of the Emperor's birthday is the only other occasion when the miya are paraded. On both days the streets are beautifully decorated with lanterns and shimenawa, the fringed ropes of rice straw which are the emblems of Shinto. Nobody now knows exactly what the words chanted on these days (chosaya! chosaya!) mean. One theory is that they are a corruption of Sagicho, the name of a great samurai military festival, which was celebrated nearly at the same time as the Yashigami-no-matsuri, - both holidays now being obsolete.

11 Thuya obtusa.

12 Such at least is the mourning period under such circumstances in certain samurai families. Others say twenty days is sufficient. The Buddhist code of mourning is extremely varied and complicated, and would require much space to dilate upon.

13 In spite of the supposed rigidity of the Nichiren sect in such matters, most followers of its doctrine in Izumo are equally fervent Shintoists. I have not been able to observe whether the same is true of Izumo Shin-shu families as a rule; but I know that some Shin-shu believers in Matsue worship at Shinto shrines. Adoring only that form of Buddha called Amida, the Shin sect might be termed a Buddhist 'Unitarianism.' It seems never to have been able to secure a strong footing in Izumo on account of its doctrinal hostility to Shinto. Elsewhere throughout Japan it is the most vigorous and prosperous of all Buddhist sects.

14 Mr. Morse, in his Japanese Homes, published on hearsay a very strange error when he stated: 'The Buddhist household shrines rest on the floor - at least so I was informed.' They never rest on the floor under any circumstances. In the better class of houses special architectural arrangements are made for the butsudan; an alcove, recess, or other contrivance, often so arranged as to be concealed from view by a sliding panel or a little door In smaller dwellings it may be put on a shelf, for want of a better place, and in the homes of the poor, on the top of the tansu, or clothes-chest. It is never placed so high as the kamidana, but seldom at a less height than three feet above the floor. In Mr. Morse's own illustration of a Buddhist household shrine (p. 226) it does not rest on the floor at all, but on the upper shelf of a cupboard, which must not be confounded with the butsudan - a very small one. The sketch in question seems to have been made during the Festival of the Dead, for the offerings in the picture are those of the Bommatauri. At that time the household butsudan is always exposed to view, and often moved from its usual place in order to obtain room for the offerings to be set before it. To place any holy object on the floor is considered by the Japanese very disrespectful. As for Shinto objects, to place even a mamori on the floor is deemed a sin.

15 Two ihai are always made for each Buddhist dead. One usually larger than that placed in the family shrine, is kept in the temple of which the deceased was a parishioner, together with a cup in which tea or water is daily poured out as an offering. In almost any large temple, thousands of such ihai may be seen, arranged in rows, tier above tier - each with its cup before it - for even the souls of the dead are supposed to drink tea. Sometimes, I fear, the offering is forgotten, for I have seen rows of cups containing only dust, the fault, perhaps, of some lazy acolyte.

16 This is a fine example of a samurai kaimyo The kaimyo of kwazoku or samurai are different from those of humbler dead; and a Japanese, by a single glance at an ihai, can tell at once to what class of society the deceased belonged, by the Buddhist words used.

17 'Presenting the honourable tea to the august Buddhas' - for by Buddhist faith it is hoped, if not believed, that the dead become Buddhas and escape the sorrows of further transmigration. Thus the expression 'is dead' is often rendered in Japanese by the phrase 'is become a Buddha.'

18 The idea underlying this offering of food and drink to the dead or to the gods, is not so irrational as unthinking Critics have declared it to be. The dead are not supposed to consume any of the visible substance of the food set before them, for they are thought to be in an ethereal state requiring only the most vapoury kind of nutrition. The idea is that they absorb only the invisible essence of the food. And as fruits and other such offerings lose something of their flavour after having been exposed to the air for several hours, this slight change would have been taken in other days as evidence that the spirits had feasted upon them. Scientific education necessarily dissipates these consoling illusions, and with them a host of tender and beautiful fancies as to the relation between the living and the dead.

19 I find that the number of clappings differs in different provinces somewhat. In Kyushu the clapping is very long, especially before the prayer to the Rising Sun.

20 Another name for Kyoto, the Sacred City of Japanese Buddhism.