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The mythological
accounts of meetings of the Kami for purposes of consultation suggest
a kind of commonwealth, and recall "the village assemblies of
primitive times in many parts of the world, where the cleverness of
one and the general willingness to follow his suggestions fill the
place of the more definite organization of later times."* But though
that may be true of the Yamato race in the region of its origin, the
conditions found by it in Japan were not consistent with such a
system, for Chinese history shows that at about the beginning of the
Christian era the Island Empire was in a very uncentralized state and
that the sway of the Yamato was still far from receiving general
recognition. A great Japanese scholar** has contended that the
centralization which prevailed in later ages was wholly an imitation
of Chinese bureaucracy, and that organized feudalism was the original
form of government in Japan. The annals appear to support that view
to a limited extent, but the subject will presently be discussed at
greater length.

*B. H. Chamberlain.

**Hirata Atsutane.

RAIMENT

In the use of clothing and the specialization of garments the early
Japanese had reached a high level. We read in the ancient legends of
upper garments, skirts, trousers, anklets, and head-ornaments of
stones considered precious.* The principal material of wearing
apparel was cloth woven from threads of hemp and mulberry bark.
According to the annals, the arts of spinning, weaving, and dyeing
were known and practised from the earliest age. The Sun goddess
herself is depicted as seated in the hall of the sacred loom, reeling
silk from cocoons held in her mouth, and at the ceremony of enticing
her from her retirement, the weaving of blue-and-white stuffs
constituted an important adjunct. Terms are used (akarurtae and
teru-tae) which show that colour and lustre were esteemed as much as
quality. Ara-tae and nigi-tae were the names used to designate coarse
and fine cloth respectively; striped stuff was called shidori, and
the name of a princess, Taku-hata-chiji, goes to show that corrugated
cloth was woven from the bark of the taku. Silken fabrics were
manufactured, but the device of boiling the cocoons had not yet been
invented. They were held in the mouth for spinning purposes, and the
threads thus obtained being coarse and uneven, the loom could not
produce good results. Silk stuffs therefore did not find much favour:
they were employed chiefly for making cushions, cloth woven from
cotton, hemp, or mulberry bark being preferred for raiment. Pure
white was the favourite colour; red, blue, and black being placed in
a lower rank in that order. It has been conjectured that furs and
skins were worn, but there is no explicit mention of anything of the
kind. It would seem that their use was limited to making rugs and
covering utensils.** Sewing is not explicitly referred to, but the
needle is; and in spite of an assertion to the contrary made by the
Chinese author of the Shan-hai-ching (written in the fourth century
A.D.) there is no valid reason to doubt that the process of sewing
was familiar.

*B. H. Chamberlain.

**In China the case was different. There, garments made of skins or
covered with feathers were worn in remote antiquity before the art of
weaving had become known. The Records recount that in the age of the
Kami "there came" (to Japan) "riding on the crest of the waves, a
kami dressed in skins of geese," and this passage has been quoted as
showing that skins were used for garments in Japan. But it is pointed
out by Japanese commentators that this Kami Sukuna-bikona is
explicitly stated to have come from a foreign country, and that if
the passage warrants any inference, it is that the visitor's place of
departure had been China.

As to the form of the garments worn, the principal were the hakama
and the koromo. The hakama was a species of divided skirt, used by
men and women alike. It has preserved its shape from age to age, and
is to-day worn by school-girls throughout Japan. The koromo was a
tunic having tight sleeves reaching nearly to the knees. It was
folded across the breast from right to left and secured by a belt of
cloth or silk tied round the loins. Veils also were used by both
sexes, one kind (the katsugi) having been voluminous enough to cover
the whole body. "Combs are mentioned, and it is evident that much
attention was devoted to the dressing of the hair."* Men divided
theirs in the middle and bound it up in two bunches, one over each
ear. Youths tied theirs into a top-knot; girls wore their locks
hanging down the back but bound together at the neck, and married
ladies "dressed theirs after a fashion which apparently combined the
last two methods." Decoration of the head was carried far on
ceremonial occasions, gems, veils, and even coronets being used for
the purpose. "There is no mention in any of the old books of cutting
the hair or beard except in token of disgrace; neither do we gather
that the sexes, but for this matter of head-dress, were distinguished
by a diversity of apparel or ornamentation."*

*B. H. Chamberlain.

FOOD AND DRINK

Rice was the great staple of diet in ancient, as it is in modern,
times. The importance attaching to it is shown by the fact that the
Sun goddess herself is represented as engaging in its cultivation and
that injuring a rice-field was among the greatest offences. Barley,
millet, wheat, and beans are mentioned, but the evidence that they
were grown largely in remote antiquity is not conclusive. The flesh
of animals and birds was eaten, venison and wild boar being
particularly esteemed. Indeed, so extensively was the hunting of deer
practised that bows and arrows were often called kago-yumi and
kago-ya (kago signifies "deer"). Fish, however, constituted a much
more important staple of diet than flesh, and fishing in the
abundantly stocked seas that surround the Japanese islands was
largely engaged in. Horses and cattle were not killed for food. It is
recorded in the Kogo-shui that the butchering of oxen to furnish meat
for workers in a rice-field roused the resentment of a Kami called
Mitoshi. There does not appear to have been any religious or
superstitious scruple connected with this abstention: the animals
were spared simply because of their usefulness. Vegetables occupied a
large space in the list of articles of food. There were the radish,
the cabbage, the lotus, the melon, and the wild garlic, as well as as
several kinds of seaweed. Salt was used for seasoning, the process of
its manufacture having been familiar from the earliest times. Only
one kind of intoxicating liquor was ever known in Japan until the
opening of intercourse with the Occident. It was a kind of beer
brewed* from rice and called sake. The process is said to have been
taught by Sukuna, who, as shown above, came to Japan from a foreign
country--probably China--when the Kami, Okuni-nushi, was establishing
order in the Japanese islands.

*The term for "brew" being kamu or kamosu, the former of which is
homonymous with the equivalent for "to chew," some commentators have
supposed that sake was manufactured in early times by grinding rice
with the teeth. This is at once disproved by the term for "yeast,"
namely, kabi-tachi (fermenting).

COOKING AND TABLE EQUIPAGE

From time immemorial there were among the officials at the Imperial
Court men called kashiwa-de, or oak-leaf hands. They had charge of
the food and drink, and their appellation was derived from the fact
that rice and other edibles were usually served on oak leaves.
Earthenware utensils were used, but their surface, not being glazed,
was not allowed to come into direct contact with the viands placed on
them. In this practice another example is seen of the love of
cleanliness that has always characterized and distinguished the
Japanese nation. Edibles having been thus served, the vessels
containing them were ranged on a table, one for each person, and
chop-sticks were used. Everything was cooked, with the exception of
certain vegetables and a few varieties of fish. Friction of wood upon
wood provided fire, a fact attested by the name of the tree chiefly
used for the purpose, hi-no-ki, or fire-tree. To this day the same
method of obtaining a spark is practised at the principal religious
ceremonials. Striking metal upon stone was another device for the
same purpose, and there is no record in Japan, as there is in China,
of any age when food was not cooked. Various vessels of unglazed
pottery are mentioned in the Records, as bowls, plates, jars,
and wine-holders, the last being often made of metal. These
were all included in the term suemono, which may be translated
"table-utensils."

ARMS, ARMOUR, AND GEMS

It has already been stated that archaeological research shows the
Yamato race to have been in possession of iron swords and spears, as
well as metal armour and shields, from a very early period, probably
the date of these colonists' first coming to Japan. They also used
saddles, stirrups, bridles, and bits for horses, so that a Yamato
warrior in full mail and with complete equipment was perhaps as
formidable a fighting man as any contemporary nation could produce.
Bows and arrows were also in use. The latter, tipped with iron or
stone and feathered, were carried in a quiver. The swords employed by
men were originally double-edged. Their names* show that they were
used alike for cutting and thrusting, and that they varied in length
from ten "hands" to five. There was also a small single-edged sword**
carried by women and fastened inside the robe. The value attached to
the sword is attested by numerous appellations given to blades of
special quality. In later times the two-edged sword virtually fell
out of use, being replaced by the single-edged.

*Tsurugi (to pierce) and tachi (to cut).

**This was originally called himo-kala-ha, which literally means
"cord single edge." subsequently kala-ha became katana, by which term
all Japanese swords are now known.

Sometimes a spear was decorated with gems. It is curious that gems
should have been profusely used for personal adornment in ancient
times by people who subsequently eschewed the custom well-nigh
altogether, as the Japanese did.



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