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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

The most noted were those of Dogo

*These were called usu. They were, in fact, hairpins, generally shaped like a flower.


It has already been recorded that, in the middle of the sixth century, musicians were sent from the Kudara Court to the Yamato, and since these are said to have taken the place of others then sojourning in Japan, the fact is established that such a visit was not then without precedent. Music, indeed, may be said to have benefitted largely by the advent of Buddhism, for the services of the latter required a special kind of music. The first foreign teacher of the art was a Korean, Mimashi, who went to Japan in A.D. 612, after having studied both music and dancing for some years in China. A dwelling was assigned to him at Sakurai (in Yamato) and he trained pupils. At the instance of Prince Shotoku and for the better performance of Buddhist services, various privileges were granted to the professors of the art. They were exempted from the discharge of official duties and their occupation became hereditary. Several ancient Japanese books contain reference to music and dancing, and in one work* illustrations are given of the wooden masks worn by dancers and the instruments used by musicians of the Wu (Chinese) school. These masks were introduced by Mimashi and are still preserved in the temple Horyu-ji.

*The Horyu-ji Shizai-cho, composed in A.D. 747.

In the matter of pastimes, a favourite practice, first mentioned in the reign of the Empress Suiko, was a species of picnic called "medicine hunting" (kusuri-kari). It took place on the fifth day of the fifth month. The Empress, her ladies, and the high functionaries, all donned gala costumes and went to hunt stags, for the purpose of procuring the young antlers, and to search for "deer-fungus" (shika-take), the horns and the vegetables being supposed to have medical properties. All the amusements mentioned in previous sections continued to be followed in this era, and football is spoken of as having inaugurated the afterwards epoch-making friendship between Prince Naka and Kamatari. It was not played in the Occidental manner, however. The game consisted in kicking a ball from player to player without letting it fall. This was apparently a Chinese innovation. Here, also, mention may be made of thermal springs. Their sanitary properties were recognized, and visits were paid to them by invalids. The most noted were those of Dogo, in Iyo, and Arima, in Settsu. The Emperor Jomei spent several months at each of these, and Prince Shotoku caused to be erected at Dogo a stone monument bearing an inscription to attest the curative virtues of the water.


That Buddhism obtained a firm footing among the upper classes during the first century after its introduction must be attributed in no small measure to the fact that the throne was twice occupied by Empresses in that interval. The highly decorative aspects of the creed appealing to the emotional side of woman's nature, these Imperial ladies encouraged Buddhist propagandism with earnest munificence. But the mass of the people remained, for the most part, outside the pale. They continued to believe in the Kami and to worship them. Thus, when a terribly destructive earthquake* occured in 599, it was to the Kami of earthquakes that prayers were offered at his seven shrines in the seven home provinces (Kinai), and not to the Merciful Buddha, though the saving grace of the latter had then been preached for nearly a cycle. The first appeal to the foreign deity in connexion with natural calamity was in the opening year (642) of the Empress Kogyoku's reign when, in the presence of a devastating drought, sacrifices of horses and cattle to the Shinto Kami, changes of the market-places,** and prayers to the river gods having all failed to bring relief, an imposing Buddhist service was held in the south court of the Great Temple. "The images of Buddha, of the bosatsu, and of the Four Heavenly Kings were magnificently adorned; a multitude of priests read the Mahayana Sutra, and the o-omi, Soga no Emishi, held a censer, burned incense, and prayed." But there was no success; and not until the Empress herself had made a progress to the source of a river and worshipped towards the four quarters, did abundant rain fall.

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