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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Is said to be an outgrowth of the uta gaki


dug-outs were named maruki-bune, a distinguishing term which proves that some other method of building was also employed.


A palanquin (koshi) used by the Emperor Ojin (A.D. 270-310) was preserved in the Kyoto palace until the year 1219, when a conflagration consumed it. The records give no description of it, but they say that Yuryaku and his Empress returned from a hunting expedition on a cart (kuruma), and tradition relates that a man named Isa, a descendant in the eighth generation of the Emperor Sujin, built a covered cart which was the very one used by Yuryaku. It is, indeed, more than probable that a vehicle which had been in use in China for a long time must have become familiar to the Japanese at an early epoch.


For relief in sickness supplication to the gods and the performance of religious rites were chiefly relied on. But it is alleged* that medicines for internal and external use were in existence and that recourse to thermal springs was commonly practised from remote times.

*By the Nihon Bummei Shiryaku.


While Yuryaku was on the throne, Korea and China sent pictorial experts to Japan. The Korean was named Isuraka, and the Chinese, Shinki. The latter is said to have been a descendant of the

Emperor Wen of the Wei dynasty. His work attracted much attention in the reign of Muretsu, who bestowed on him the uji title of Ooka no Obito. His descendants practised their art with success in Japan, and from the time of the Emperor Tenchi (668-671) they were distinguished as Yamato no eshi (painters of Yamato).


If we credit the annals, the composition of poetry commenced in the earliest ages and was developed independently of foreign influences. From the sovereign down to the lowest subject, everyone composed verses. These were not rhymed; the structure of the Japanese language does not lend itself to rhyme. Their differentiation from prose consisted solely in the numerical regularity of the syllables in consecutive lines; the alternation of phrases of five and seven syllables each. A tanka (short song) consisted of thirty-one syllables arranged thus, 5, 7, 5, 7, and 7; and a naga-uta (long song) consisted of an unlimited number of lines, all fulfilling the same conditions as to number of syllables and alternation of phrases. No parallel to this kind of versification has been found yet in the literature of any other nation. The Chronicles and the Records abound with tanka and naga-uta, many of which have been ascribed by skeptics to an age not very remote from the time when those books were compiled. But the Japanese themselves think differently. They connect the poems directly with the events that inspired them. Further reference to the subject will be made hereafter. Here it will suffice to note that the composing of such verselets was a feature of every age in Japan.


A favourite pastime during the early historic period was known as uta-gaki or uta-kai. In cities, in the country, in fields, and on hills, youths and maidens assembled in springtime or in autumn and enjoyed themselves by singing and dancing. Promises of marriage were exchanged, the man sending some gifts as a token, and the woman, if her father or elder brother approved, despatching her head-ornament (oshiki no tamakatsura) to her lover. On the wedding day it was customary for the bride to present "table-articles" (tsukue-shiro) to the bridegroom in the form of food and drink. There were places specially associated in the public mind with uta-gaki--Tsukuba Mountain in Hitachi, Kijima-yama in Hizen, and Utagaki-yama in Settsu. Sometimes men of noble birth took part in this pastime, but it was usually confined to the lower middle classes. The great festival of bon-odori, which will be spoken of by and by, is said to be an outgrowth of the uta-gaki.

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