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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

And the ocean Kami instructed Hohodemi


*This

expression has reference to the fact that offerings at religious ceremonials were always heaped on low tables for laying before the shrine.

**The expression "heavenly sovereign" is here applied for the first time to the Emperors of Japan.

***The term "earthly" was applied to Kami born on earth, "heavenly" Kami being those born in heaven.

THE CASTLE OF THE SEA DRAGON

At this stage the annals digress to relate an episode which has only collateral interest Hosuseri and Hohodemi made fishing and hunting, respectively, their avocations. But Hohodemi conceived a fancy to exchange pursuits, and importuned Hosuseri to agree. When, however, the former tried his luck at angling, he not only failed to catch anything but also lost the hook which his brother had lent him. This became the cause of a quarrel. Hosuseri taunted Hohodemi on the foolishness of the original exchange and demanded the restoration of his hook, nor would he be placated though Hohodemi forged his sabre into five hundred hooks and then into a thousand. Wandering disconsolate,* by the seashore, Hohodemi met the Kami of salt, who, advising him to consult the daughter of the ocean Kami,** sent him to sea in a "stout little boat."

*"Weeping and lamenting" are the words in the Records.

**One of the Kami begotten by Izanagi

and Izanami.

After drifting for a time, he found himself at a palace beside which grew a many-branched cassia tree overhanging a well. He climbed into the tree and waited. Presently the handmaidens of Princess Rich Gem, daughter of the ocean Kami, came to draw water, and seeing a shadow in the well, they detected Hohodemi in the cassia tree. At his request they gave him water in a jewelled vessel, but instead of drinking, he dropped into the vessel a gem from his own necklace, and the handmaidens, unable to detach the gem, carried the vessel to their mistress. Then the princess went to look and, seeing a beautiful youth in the cassia tree, "exchanged glances" with him. The ocean Kami quickly recognized Hohodemi; led him in; seated him on a pile of many layers of sealskins* overlaid by many layers of silk rugs; made a banquet for him, and gave him for wife Princess Rich Gem.

*Chamberlain translates this "sea-asses' skins," and conjectures that sea-lions or seals may be meant.

Three years passed tranquilly without the bridegroom offering any explanation of his presence. At the end of that time, thoughts of the past visited him and he "sighed." Princess Rich Gem took note of this despondency and reported it to her father, who now, for the first time, inquired the cause of Hohodemi's coming. Thereafter all the fishes of the sea, great and small, were summoned, and being questioned about the lost hook, declared that the tai* had recently complained of something sticking in its throat and preventing it from eating. So the lost hook was recovered, and the ocean Kami instructed Hohodemi, when returning it to his brother, to warn the latter that it was a useless hook which would not serve its purpose, but would rather lead its possessor to ruin. He further instructed him to follow a method of rice culture the converse of that adopted by his brother, since he, the ocean Kami, would rule the waters so as to favour Hohodemi's labours, and he gave him two jewels having the property of making the tide ebb and flow, respectively. These jewels were to be used against Hosuseri, if necessary.


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