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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

The use of auguries seems to have come at a later date


nails were extracted and his beard was plucked out.

"Unsought in prayer, "The gods will guard "The pure of heart."*

*Kokoro dani Makoto no michi ni Kanai naba Inorazu tote mo Kami ya mamoran.

It is plain, however, that Shinto cannot be included in the category of ethical religions; it belongs essentially to the family of nature religions.


The acts which constituted crimes in ancient Japan were divided into two classes: namely, sins against heaven and sins against the State. At the head of the former list stood injuries to agricultural pursuits, as breaking down the ridges of rice-fields, filling up drains, destroying aqueducts, sowing seeds twice in the same place, putting spits in rice-fields, flaying an animal alive or against the grain, etc. The crimes against the State were cutting and wounding (whether the living or the dead), defilement on account of leprosy or cognate diseases, unnatural offences, evil acts on the part of children towards parents or of parents towards children, etc. Methods of expiating crime were recognized, but, as was the universal custom in remote times, very cruel punishments were employed against evil-doers and enemies. Death was inflicted for comparatively trivial offences, and such tortures were resorted to as cutting the sinews, extracting

the nails and the hair, burying alive, roasting, etc. Branding or tattooing seems to have been occasionally practised, but essentially as a penalty or a mark of ignominy.


As is usually the case in a nation where a nature religion is followed, divination and augury were practised largely in ancient Japan. The earliest method of divination was by roasting the shoulder-blade of a stag and comparing the cracks with a set of diagrams. The Records and the Chronicles alike represent Izanagi and Izanami as resorting to this method of presaging the future, and the practice derives interest from the fact that a precisely similar custom has prevailed in Mongolia from time immemorial. Subsequently this device was abandoned in favour of the Chinese method, heating a tortoise-shell; and ultimately the latter, in turn, gave way to the Eight Trigrams of Fuhi. The use of auguries seems to have come at a later date. They were obtained by playing a stringed instrument called koto, by standing at a cross-street and watching the passers, by manipulating stones, and by counting footsteps.


It has been related that when the "heavenly grandson" undertook his expedition to Japan, the military duties were entrusted to two mikoto* who became the ancestors of the Otomo and the Kume families. There is some confusion about the subsequent differentiation of these families, but it is sufficient to know that, together with the Mononobe family, they, were the hereditary repositories of military authority. They wore armour, carried swords, spears and bows, and not only mounted guard at the palace but also asserted the Imperial authority throughout the provinces. No exact particulars of the organization of these forces are on record, but it would seem that the unit was a battalion divided into twenty-five companies, each company consisting of five sections of five men per section, a company being under the command of an officer whose rank was miyatsuko.

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