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The Kojiki, translated by Basil Hall Chamberlain, [1919], at

p. 230 [187]


When this Heavenly Sovereign made Saho-bime his Empress, Her Augustness Saho-bime's elder brother, King Saho-biko, asked his younger sister, saying: "Which is dearer [to thee], thine elder brother or thy

p. 231

husband?" She replied, saying "Mine elder brother is dearer." Then King Saho-biko conspired, saying: "If I be truly the dearer to thee, let me and thee rule the empire," and forthwith he made an eight times tempered stiletto, 1 and handed it to his younger sister, saying: "Slay the Heavenly Sovereign in his sleep with this small knife." So the Heavenly Sovereign, not knowing of this conspiracy, was augustly sleeping, with the Empress’ august knees as his pillow. Then the Empress tried to cut his august throat with the stiletto; but though she lifted it thrice, she could not cut the throat for an irrepressible feeling of sadness, and she wept tears, which fell overflowing 2 onto [the Heavenly Sovereign's] august face. Straightway the Heavenly Sovereign started up, and asked the Empress, saying: "I have had a strange dream: A violent shower came from the direction of Saho and suddenly wetted my face; again a small damask-coloured snake coiled itself round my neck. Of what may such a dream be the omen?" Then the Empress, thinking it improper to dispute, 3 forthwith informed the Heavenly Sovereign, saying: "Mine elder brother King Saho-biko asked me, 4 saying: 'Which is dearer [to thee], thy husband or thine elder brother?' So, as I was embarrassed by [this] direct question, I replied, saying: 'Oh! mine elder brother is the dearer.' Then he charged 5 me, saying: 'I and thou will together rule the [188] Empire; so the Heavenly Sovereign must be slain;'—and so saying, he made an eight times tempered stiletto, and handed it to me. Therefore I wanted to cut thine august throat; but though I thrice lifted [the weapon], a feeling of regret suddenly arose, so that I could not cut thy throat, and the tears that I wept fell and wetted

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thine august face. [The dream] was surely the omen of this." Then the Heavenly Sovereign said: "How nearly have I been destroyed! "and forthwith he raised an army to smite King Saho-biko, whereupon the King made a rice-castle 6 to await the fray. At this time Her Augustness Saho-bime, unable to forget her elder brother, fled out through the back-gate [of the palace], and came into the rice-castle.


231:1 For stiletto see above, Sect. XXXVI, Note 8. The curious word ya-shio-wori ( ) in the text seems to have the sense of "eight times tempered," i.e., tempered over and over again, which Motowori assigns to it. The same expression is used in Sect. XVIII (Note 16) to denote the refining of rice-liquor.

231:2 This word "overflowing" is more appropriately placed in the version of the story given in the "Chronicles," where the author makes her tears first fill her sleeve (a common Japanese figure of speech), and thence "overflow "on to the sleeping Monarch's face.

231:3 I.e., seeing that it would be vain in deny the truth.

231:4 The First Personal Pronoun is written with the self-depreciatory character , "concubine."

231:5 Or "enticed."

232:6 This expression, which is repeated elsewhere, is one which has given rise to a considerable amount of discussion. The "Chronicles" tell us expressly that "rice [stalks] were piled up to make a castle,"—an assertion which, as Motowori remarks, is simply incredible. He therefore adopts Mabuchi's suggestion that a castle like a rice-castle is what is intended,—"rice-castle" being taken "to mean rice-store" or "granary," such granaries having probably been stoutly built in order to protect them from thieves. The historian of the Tang dynasty quoted in the "Exposition of the Foreign Notices of Japan" says that the Japanese had no castles, but only palisades of timber. The latter might well however have been called castles by the Japanese, though they would not have been accounted such by the Chinese, who already built theirs of stone.

Next: Section LXXI.—Emperor Sui-nin (Part III.—Birth of Prince Homu-chi-wake and Death of the Conspirators)