free ebooks

A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Twenty six years later the Karano


years later the Karano, as this vessel was called, having become unserviceable, the Emperor ordered a new Karano to be built, so as to perpetuate her name. A curious procedure is then recorded, illustrating the arbitrary methods of government in those days. The timbers of the superannuated ship were used as fuel for roasting salt, five hundred baskets of which were sent throughout the maritime provinces, with orders that by each body of recipients a ship should be constructed. Five hundred Karanos thus came into existence, and there was assembled at Hyogo such a fleet as had never previously been seen in Japanese waters. A number of these new vessels were destroyed almost immediately by a conflagration which broke out in the lodgings of Korean envoys from Sinra (Shiragi), and the envoys being held responsible, their sovereign hastened to send a body of skilled shipmakers by way of atonement, who were thereafter organized into a hereditary guild of marine architects, and we thus learn incidentally that the Koreans had already developed the shipbuilding skill destined to save their country in later ages.


In connexion with the Karano incident, Japanese historians record a tale which materially helps our appreciation of the men of that remote age. A portion of the Karano's timber having emerged unscathed from the salt-pans, its indestructibility seemed curious enough to warrant special

treatment. It was accordingly made into a lute (koto),* and it justified that use by developing "a ringing note that could be heard from afar off." The Emperor composed a song on the subject:

"The ship Karano "Was burned for salt: "Of the remainder "A koto was made. "When it is placed on "One hears the saya-saya "Of the summer trees, "Brushing against, as they stand, "The rocks of the mid-harbour, "The harbour of Yura." [Aston.]

*The Japanese lute, otherwise called the Azuma koto, was an instrument five or six feet long and having six strings. History first alludes to it in the reign of Jingo, and such as it was then, such it has remained until to-day.


Five facts are already deducible from the annals of this epoch: the first, that there was no written law, unless the prohibitions in the Rituals may be so regarded; the second, that there was no form of judicial trial, unless ordeal or torture may be so regarded; the third, that the death penalty might be inflicted on purely ex-parte evidence; the fourth, that a man's whole family had to suffer the penalty of his crimes, and the fifth, that already in those remote times the code of splendid loyalty which has distinguished the Japanese race through all ages had begun to find disciples.

An incident of Ojin's reign illustrates all these things. Takenouchi, the sukune (noble) who had served Ojin's mother so ably, and who had saved Ojin's life in the latter's childhood, was despatched to Tsukushi (Kyushu) on State business. During his absence his younger brother accused him of designs upon the Emperor. At once, without further inquiry, Ojin sent men to kill the illustrious minister. But Maneko, suzerain (atae) of Iki, who bore a strong resemblance to Takenouchi, personified him, and committing suicide, deceived the soldiers who would have taken the sukune's life, so that the latter was enabled to return to Yamato. Arriving at Court, he protested his innocence and the ordeal of boiling water was employed. It took place on the bank of the Shiki River. Takenouchi proving victorious; his brother with all his family were condemned to become tomo-be of the suzerain of Kii.

eBook Search
Social Sharing
Share Button
About us is a collection of free ebooks that can be read online. Ebooks are split into pages for easier reading and better bookmarking.

We have more than 35,000 free books in our collection and are adding new books daily.

We invite you to link to us, so as many people as possible can enjoy this wonderful free website.

© 2010-2013 - All Rights Reserved.

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Contact Us