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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Pigeon boat hato fune or to the material employed


Sun goddess, Amaterasu, and the goddess of Food (Ukemochi no Kami) are the two deities now worshipped at the great shrine of Ise.

In the matter of farming implements, however, neither archaeology nor history indicates anything more than iron spades, wooden hoes shod with bronze or iron, hand-ploughs, and axes. As to manufacturing industries, there were spinners and weavers of cotton and silk, makers of kitchen utensils, polishers of gems, workers in gold, silver, copper, and iron, forgers of arms and armour, potters of ornamental vessels, and dressers of leather. In later eras the persons skilled in these various enterprises formed themselves into guilds (be), each of which carried on its own industry from generation to generation.

The fact that there must have been an exchange of goods between these various groups is almost the only indication furnished by the annals as to trade or commerce. In the name of a daughter of Susa (Princess Kamu-o-ichi) we find a suggestion that markets (ichi) existed, and according to the Wei Records (A.D. 211-265) there were, at that time, "in each province of Japan markets where the people exchanged their superfluous produce for articles of which they were in need." But Japanese history is silent on this subject.

About the be, however, a great deal is heard. It may be described as a corporated association having for purpose the securing of efficiency

by specialization. Its members seem to have been at the outset men who independently pursued some branch of industry. These being ultimately formed into a guild, carried on the same pursuit from generation to generation under a chief officially appointed. "Potters, makers of stone coffins, of shields, of arrows, of swords, of mirrors, saddlers, painters, weavers, seamstresses, local recorders, scribes, farmers, fleshers, horse-keepers, bird-feeders, the mibu who provided wet-nurses for Imperial princes, palace attendants, and reciters (katari) were organized into be under special chiefs who were probably responsible for their efficient services. It would appear, however, that 'chief of be' was sometimes a title bestowed for exceptional service and that it was occasionally posthumous."*


Be were also organized for the purpose of commemorating a name quite irrespective of industrial pursuits. "The religious be were for general or special purposes. For instance, there was a be of sun-worshippers, while the Imibe, a body of abstainers, were obliged to avoid ritual contamination or impurity. They carried out a technique of spiritual aseptics, both in their persons and through the utensils which they employed, much as a modern surgeon guards against infection of his patient. Thus they were prepared to perform sacred functions."*



No information is obtainable as to the nature of the boats used in very early times, but it may reasonably be inferred that the Yamato and other immigrant races possessed craft of some capacity. Several names of boats are incidentally mentioned. They evidently refer to the speed of the craft--as bird-boat (tori-fune), pigeon-boat (hato-fune)--or to the material employed, as "rock-camphor boat" (iwa-kusu-bune). "The presence of neolithic remains on the islands around Japan proves that the boats of the primitive

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