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

p. 284 [229]


This Empress, Her Augustness Princess Okinaga-tarashi, was at that time, 1 divinely possessed. So when the Heavenly Sovereign, dwelling at the palace of Kashihi in Tsukushi, was about to smite the Land of Kumaso, 2 the Heavenly Sovereign played on his august lute, and the Prime Minster the Noble Take-uchi, being in the pure court, 3 requested the divine orders. Hereupon the Empress, divinely possessed, charged him with this instruction and counsel: "There is a land to the Westward,

p. 285

and in that land is abundance of various treasures dazzling to the eye, from gold and silver downwards. 4 I will now bestow this land upon thee." Then the Heavenly Sovereign replied, saying: "If one ascend to a high place and look Westward, no country is to be seen. There is only the great sea;" and saying, 5 "They are lying Deities," 6 he pushed away his august lute, did not play on it, and sat silent. Then the Deities were very angry, and said: "Altogether as for this empire, it is not a land over which thou oughtest to rule. Do thou go to the one road!" 7 Hereupon the Prince Minister the Noble Take-uchi said; "[I am filled with] awe, my Heavenly Sovereign! 8 Continue playing thy great [230] august lute." Then he slowly drew his august lute to him, and languidly played on it. So almost immediately the sound of the august lute became inaudible. On their forthwith lifting a light and looking, [the Heavenly Sovereign] was dead.


284:1 At what time, we are not told.

284:2 See Sect. V, Note 17.

284:3 This is Motowori's interpretation of the obscure original word sa-niha, which is written phonetically. He supposes it to have been so called as being a place used for enquiring the will of the gods, and therefore kept clean and held in reverence. "Place" would perhaps represent the Japanese word niha as well as "court," though "court" has been its usual acceptation in later times.

285:4 Literally, "making gold and silver the origin."

285:5 Motowori tells us to understand "saying "in the sense of "thinking."

285:6 As already frequently remarked, the Japanese mind does not occupy itself much with the distinction (to us all-important) of Singular and Plural. The reason why the translator renders the word kami by the Plural "Deities" throughout this passage is because we learn later on that four divine personages were intended by the author.

285:7 p. 286 With the commentators we must accept this as an alternative name of Hades, without being able satisfactorily to explain it. The expression "eighty road-windings" (yaso kumado) in Sect. XXXII (Note 27) may be compared with this one.

285:8 I.e., "I tremble Sire, for the consequences of thine impiety."

Next: Section XCVII.—Emperor Chiū-ai (Part III. Preparations for the Conquest of Korea)