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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

As do also the Ainu now living in Saghalien


the men who constructed and used these pit-dwellings were not prehistoric savages but modern Japanese soldiers. Further very conclusive testimony has been collected by the Rev. John Batchelor, who has devoted profound study to the Ainu. He found that the inhabitants of Shikotan, who had long been supposed to be a remnant of pre-Ainu immigrants, were brought thither from an island called Shimushir in the Kurile group in 1885 by order of the Japanese Government; that they declared themselves to be descended from men of Saghalien; that they spoke nothing but the Ainu language, and that they inhabited pits in winter, as do also the Ainu now living in Saghalien. If any further proof were needed, it might be drawn from the fact that no excavation has brought to light any relics whatever of a race preceding and distinct from the Yemishi (Ainu), all the pits and graves hitherto searched having yielded Yamato or Yemishi skulls. Neither has there been found any trace of pigmies.

An Ainu myth is responsible for the belief in the existence of such beings: "In very ancient times, a race of people who dwelt in pits lived among us. They were so very tiny that ten of them could easily take shelter beneath one burdock leaf. When they went to catch herrings they used to make boats by sewing the leaves together, and always fished with a hook. If a single herring was caught, it took all the strength of the men of five boats, or ten sometimes, to hold it and drag

it ashore, while whole crowds were required to kill it with their clubs and spears. Yet, strange to say, these divine little men used even to kill great whales. Surely these pit-dwellers were gods."*

*"The Ainu and their Folk-lore," by Batchelor.

Evidently if such legends are to be credited, the existence of fairies must no longer be denied in Europe. Side by side with the total absence of all tangible relics may be set the fact that, whereas numerous place-names in the main island of Japan have been identified as Ainu words, none has been traced to any alien tongue such as might be associated with earlier inhabitants. Thus, the theory of a special race of immigrants anterior to the Yemishi has to be abandoned so far as the evidence of pit-dwelling is concerned. The fact is that the use of partially underground residences cannot be regarded as specially characteristic of any race or as differentiating one section of the people of Japan from another. To this day the poorer classes in Korea depend for shelter upon pits covered with thatch or strong oil-paper. They call these dwellings um or um-mak, a term corresponding to the Japanese muro. Pit-dwellers are mentioned in old Chinese literature, and the references to the muro in the Records and Chronicles show that the muro of those days had a character similar to that of the modern Korean um-mak [Aston]. We read of a muro being dug; of steps down to it; and we read of a muro big enough to hold 160 persons at one time. The muro was not always simply a hole roofed over: it sometimes contained a house having a wooden frame lashed together with vine-tendrils, the walls lined with sedges and reeds and plastered with a mixture of grass and clay. The roof was thatched with reeds; there was a door opening inwards, and a raised platform served for sleeping purposes. A dwelling closely resembling this description was actually unearthed near Akita in O-U, in 1807. Muro were used in ancient times by the highest as Well as the poorest classes. Susanoo is said by the Izumo Fudoki to have made for himself a muro; Jimmu's sort is represented as sleeping in a great muro, and the Emperor Keiko, when (A.D.82) prosecuting his campaign in Kyushu, is said to have constructed a muro for a temporary palace. "In fact, pit-dwelling in northern climates affords no indication of race."

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