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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

The south of Shikoku or the Kii promontory


The

sea monster mentioned in this myth is written with a Chinese ideograph signifying "crocodile," but since the Japanese cannot have had any knowledge of crocodiles, and since the monster is usually represented pictorially as a dragon, there can be little doubt that we are here confronted by the Dragon King of Chinese and Korean folk-lore which had its palace in the depths of the ocean. In fact, the Japanese, in all ages, have spoken of this legendary edifice as Ryu no jo (the Dragon's castle).

The eminent sinologue, Aston, has shrewdly pointed out that the term wani (crocodile) may be a corruption of the Korean word, wang-in (king), which the Japanese pronounced "wani." As for the "curved jewels," which appear on so many occasions, the mineral jade, or jadelike stone, of which many of them were made, has never been met with in Japan and must therefore have come from the continent of Asia. The reed boat in which the leech, first offspring of Izanagi and Izanami, was sent adrift, "recalls the Accadian legend of Sargon and his ark of rushes, the biblical story of Moses as an infant and many more," though it has no known counterpart in Chinese mythology.

It is noticeable that in spite of the honour paid to the stars in the Chinese cosmogony, the only star specially alluded to in Japanese myth is Kagase, who is represented as the last of the rebellious Kami on the occasion of the subjugation of Izumo by order of the

Sun goddess and the Great-Producing Kami. So far as the Records and the Chronicles are concerned, "the only stars mentioned are Venus, the Pleiades, and the Weaver," the last being connected with a Chinese legend, as shown above.

Two other points remain to be noticed. One is that divination by cracks in a deer's roasted shoulder blade, a process referred to more than once in the Records and the Chronicles, was a practice of the Chinese, who seem to have borrowed it from the Mongolians; the other, that the sounding arrow (nari-kabura) was an invention of the Huns, and came to Japan through China. It had holes in the head, and the air passing through these produced a humming sound. As for the Chronicles, they are permeated by Chinese influence throughout. The adoption of the Chinese sexagenary cycle is not unnatural, but again and again speeches made by Chinese sovereigns and sages are put into the mouths of Japanese monarchs as original utterances, so that without the Records for purposes of reference and comparison, even the small measure of solid ground that can be constructed would be cut from under the student's feet.

ENGRAVING: BUNDAI SUZURI BAKO (A WRITING SET)

ENGRAVING: 'NO' MASKS

CHAPTER IV

RATIONALIZATION

GEOGRAPHICAL FEATURES

THE southwestern extremity of the main island of Japan is embraced by two large islands, Kyushu and Shikoku, the former lying on the west of the latter and being, in effect, the southern link of the island chain which constitutes the empire of Japan. Sweeping northward from Formosa and the Philippines is a strong current known as the Kuro-shio (Black Tide), a name derived from the deep indigo colour of the water. This tide, on reaching the vicinity of Kyushu, is deflected to the east, and passing along the southern coast of Kyushu and the Kii promontory, takes its way into the Pacific. Evidently boats carried on the bosom of the Kuro-shio would be likely to make the shore of Japan at one of three points, namely, the south, or southeast, of Kyushu, the south of Shikoku or the Kii promontory.


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