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In a later, but
not definitely ascertained era, it became customary for a husband to
take his wife to his own home, and thereafter the veto upon such
unions soon became imperative, so that a Prince Imperial in the fifth
century who cohabited with his sister forfeited the succession and
had to commit suicide, his conduct being described in the Chronicles
as "a barbarous outrage."

In all eras sisters might marry the same man, and polygamy was
common. A Chinese book, compiled in the early years of the Christian
epoch, speaks of women being so numerous in Japan that nobles had
four or five wives and commoners two or three. Of course, the reason
assigned for this custom is incorrect: not plenitude of females but
desire of abundant progeny was primarily the cause. It is notable
that although the line between nobles and commoners was strictly
drawn and rigidly observed, it did not extend to marriage in one
sense: a nobleman could always take a wife or a concubine from the
family of an inferior. In fact, orders were commonly issued to this
or that province to furnish so many ladies-in-waiting (uneme)--a term
having deeper significance than it suggests--and several instances
are recorded of sovereigns summoning to court girls famed for beauty.
That no distinction was made between wives and concubines has been
alleged, but is not confirmed by the annals. Differentiation by rank
appears to have been always practised, and the offspring was
certainly thus distinguished.

BIRTH AND EDUCATION

A child in ancient Japan was born under considerable difficulties:
its mother had to segregate herself in a parturition hut (ubuya),
whence even light was excluded and where she was cut off from all
attendance. This strange custom was an outcome of the Shinto canon of
purity. Soon after birth, a child received from its mother a name
generally containing some appropriate personal reference. In the
most ancient times each person (so far as we can judge) bore one
name, or rather one string of words compounded together into a sort
of personal designation. But already at the dawn of the historical
epoch we are met by the mention of surnames and of "gentile names
bestowed by the sovereign as a recompense for some noteworthy deed."*
These names constantly occur. The principal of them are suzerain
(atae), departmental suzerain (agata-no-atae), departmental lord
(agata-no-nushi), Court noble (ason), territorial lord (inaki), lord
(iratsuko), lady (iratsume), duke (kimi), ruler (miyatsuko), chief
(muraji), grandee (omi), noble (sukune), and lord (wake). In the case
of the Emperors there are also canonical names, which were applied at
a comparatively late date in imitation of Chinese usages, and which
may be said to have completely replaced the names borne during life.
Thus, the Emperor known to posterity as Jimmu was called Iware in
life, the Emperor named Homuda while he sat on the throne is now
designated Ojin, and the Emperor who ruled as Osazaki is remembered
as Nintoku. In the Imperial family, and doubtless in the households
of the nobility, wet-nurses were employed, if necessary, as also were
bathing-women, washing-women, and rice-chewers.**

*B.H. Chamberlain.

**"Rice, which is mainly carbohydrate, is transformed into grape-sugar
by the action of the saliva. This practice is still common in China
and used to be so in Japan where it is now rarely met with. It was
employed only until dentition was complete." (Munro.)

"To what we should call education, whether mental or physical, there
is absolutely no reference made in the histories. All that can be
inferred is that, when old enough to do so; the boys began to follow
one of the callings of hunter or fisherman, while the girls stayed at
home weaving the garments of the family. There was a great deal of
fighting, generally of a treacherous kind, in the intervals of which
the warriors occupied themselves in cultivating patches of ground."*

*B.H. Chamberlain.

BURIAL OF THE DEAD

Burial rites were important ceremonials. The house hitherto tenanted
by the deceased was abandoned--a custom exemplified in the removal of
the capital to a new site at the commencement of each reign--and the
body was transferred to a specially erected mourning-hut draped
inside with fine, white cloth. The relatives and friends then
assembled, and for several days performed a ceremony which resembled
an Irish wake, food and sake being offered to the spirit of the dead,
prayers put up, and the intervals devoted to weird singing and solemn
dancing. Wooden coffins appear to have been used until the beginning
of the Christian era, when stone is said to have come into vogue.

At the obsequies of nobles there was considerable organization. Men
(mike-hito) were duly told off to take charge of the offerings of
food and liquor; others (kisari-mochi) were appointed to carry the
viands; others (hahaki-mochi) carried brooms to sweep the cemetery;
there were females (usu-me) who pounded rice, and females (naki-me)
who sung dirges interspersed with eulogies of the deceased. The
Records mention that at the burial of Prince Waka a number of birds
were used instead of these female threnodists. It appears, further,
that those following a funeral walked round the coffin waving
blue-and-red banners, carrying lighted torches, and playing music.

In the sepulchres the arms, utensils, and ornaments used daily by the
deceased were interred, and it was customary to bury alive around the
tombs of Imperial personages and great nobles a number of the
deceased's principal retainers. The latter inhuman habit was
nominally abandoned at the close of the last century before Christ,
images of baked clay being substituted for human sacrifices, but the
spirit which informed the habit survived, and even down to modern
times there were instances of men and women committing suicide for
the purpose of rejoining the deceased beyond the grave. As to the
nature of the tombs raised over the dead, the main facts have been
stated in Chapter VI.

TEETH BLACKENING AND FACE PAINTING

The habit of blackening the teeth has long prevailed among married
women in Japan, but the Yamato tombs have thus far furnished only one
example of the practice, and no mention occurs in the ancient annals.
Face painting, however, would seem to have been indulged in by both
sexes. Several of the pottery images (haniwa) taken from the tombs
indicate that red pigment was freely and invariably used for that
purpose. It was applied in broad streaks or large patches, the former
encircling the face or forming bands across it; the latter, covering
the eyes or triangulating the cheeks. It is probable that this
bizarre decoration was used only on ceremonial occasions and that it
appears in a greatly accentuated form on the haniwa.

AMUSEMENTS

As to amusements in prehistoric times little information is
furnished. Hunting the boar and the stag was the principal pastime,
and hawking is described as having been practised in the fourth
century of the Christian era. Music and dancing seem to have been in
vogue from time immemorial, but there is nothing to tell what kind of
musical instruments were in the hands of the early Yamato. The koto,
a kind of horizontal lute, and the flute are spoken of in the
Chronicles, but the date of their introduction is not indicated.
Wrestling, cockfighting (with metal spurs), picnics, a kind of
drafts, gambling with dice, and football are all referred to, and
were probably indulged in from a very early date.

SLAVERY

The institution of slavery existed among the Yamato. It will be
presently spoken of.

POSITION OF WOMEN

There is evidence to show that in the prehistoric age a high position
was accorded to women and that their rights received large
recognition. The facts that the first place in the Japanese pantheon
was assigned to a goddess; that the throne was frequently occupied by
Empresses; that females were chiefs of tribes and led armies on
campaign; that jealous wives turned their backs upon faithless
husbands; that mothers chose names for their children and often had
complete charge of their upbringing--all these things go to show that
the self-effacing rank taken by Japanese women in later ages was a
radical departure from the original canon of society. It is not to be
inferred, however, that fidelity to the nuptial tie imposed any check
on extra-marital relations in the case of men: it had no such effect.

ENGRAVING: "IKEBANA" FLOWER ARRANGEMENT

ENGRAVING: ENTRANCE TO THE TOMB OF THE EMPEROR JIMMU IN UNEBI-YAMA



CHAPTER IX

THE PREHISTORIC SOVEREIGNS

JIMMU

IT is held by eminent Japanese historians that the Emperor Jimmu,
when he set out for Yamato, did not contemplate an armed campaign but
merely intended to change his capital from the extreme south to the
centre of the country. This theory is based on the words of the
address he made to his elder brothers and his sons when inviting them
to accompany him on the expedition "Why should we not proceed to
Yamato and make it the capital?"--and on the fact that, on arriving
in the Kibi district, namely, the region now divided into the three
provinces of Bizen, Bitchu, and Bingo, he made a stay of three years
for the purpose of amassing an army and provisioning it, the
perception that he would have to fight having been realized for the
first time. Subsequently he encountered strongest resistance at the
hands of Prince Nagasune, whose title of Hiko (Child of the Sun)
showed that he belonged to the Yamato race, and who exercised
military control under the authority of Nigihayahi, elder brother of
Jimmu's father. This Nigihayahi had been despatched from the
continental realm of the Yamato--wherever that may have been--at a
date prior to the despatch of his younger brother, Ninigi, for the
purpose of subjugating the "land of fair rice-ears and fertile reed
plains," but of the incidents of his expedition history takes no
notice: it merely shows him as ruling in Yamato at the time of
Jimmu's arrival there, and describes how Nigihayahi, having been
convinced by a comparison of weapons of war that Jimmu was of his own
lineage, surrendered the authority to him and caused, Prince Nagasune
to be put to death.

From a chronological point of view it is difficult to imagine the
co-existence of Jimmu and his great-granduncle, but the story may
perhaps be accepted in so far as it confirms the tradition that, in
prosecuting his Yamato campaign, Jimmu received the submission of
several chieftains (Kami) belonging to the same race as himself.
Reference to these facts is essential to an understanding of the
class distinctions found in the Japanese social system.



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