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

p. 412 [330]


So when the government of the Empire was about to be assumed, 2 the Grandee Shibi, 3 ancestor of the Grandees of Heguri 4 mixed in the Songs, and took the hand of the beautiful person whom His Augustness Woke was about to wed. This maiden was a daughter of one of the Headmen of Uda, 5 and her name was Ofuwo. 6 Then His Augustness Woke likewise mixed in the Song-Hedge. 7 Thereupon the Grandee Shibi sang, saying:

(iv) "The further fin of the roof of the great palace is bent down at the corner." 8

When he had thus sung, and requested the conclusion

p. 413

of the Song, His Augustness Woke sang, saying:

(v) "It is on account of the great carpenter's [331] awkwardness that it is bent down at the corner." 9

Then the Grandee Shibi sang again, saying:

(viii)"The great lord, on account of the magnanimity of his heart, does not enter and stand in the eight-fold hedge of branches of the child of a grandee." 10

Hereupon the Prince sang again, saying:

(i) "Looking on the breakers of the briny current, I see my spouse standing by the fin of the tunny that comes sporting."

Then the Grandee Shibi, getting more and more angry sang, saying:

(ix) "[Though] the eight-fold hedge of branches of the Prince the Great Lord be made fast at eight places, be made fast all round, ’tis a hedge that shall be cut, ’tis a hedge that shall be burnt." 11

Then the Prince again sang, saying:

(ii) "Oh fisherman that spearest the tunny, the great fish! He being [there], thou must be sad at heart, tunny-spearing fisherman!" 12

Having thus sung, the feast was concluded at dawn, [332] and they all retired. Next morning the two Deities, 13 His Augustness Ohoke and His Augustness Woke, took counsel, saying: "All the people of the Court go to Court in the morning, and assemble at Shibi 's gate at noon. So 14 Shibi must surely now be sleeping, and,

p. 414

[paragraph continues] [333] moreover there will be nobody at the gate. So unless it be now, it were hard to plot against him," 15—and forthwith they at once raised an army, and beleaguered the house of the Grandee Shibi, and slew him.

p. 415


412:1 p. 414 The student should compare the version of the story in this Sect. with that give in the "Chronicles of Japan," where it is placed some years later at the commencement of the reign of the Emperor Mu-retsu, and not only do many of the details disagree, but the arrangement and number of the Songs is different. It is impossible to make a consistent whole out of the story as here given; so, while noticing the linguistic peculiarities of each of the Songs in the order in which they appear in the present text, the translator has thought it advisable, following Moribe, to give in Note 12 a consistent scheme of interpretation for the whole. The small Roman numbers placed in brackets at the commencement of each Song indicate its place in the text as restored by Moribe.

412:2 By one or other of the two Princes Ohoke and Woke. "Each," we are afterwards told, "ceded the Empire to the other," and it therefore remained for some time uncertain which was to be the Sovereign.

412:3 Shibi no omi. In some of the Songs that follow there is a play on the identity of this name with that of the tunny-fish (shibi). But whether that be really the derivation it is difficult to ascertain.

412:4 Heguri no omi. Conf. Sect. LXI, Note 45.

412:5 Uda no obito-ra. Uda is the name of a place in Yamato.

412:6 I.e., "big fish." But see the remark on this name in Note 12.

412:7 Uta-gaki. The derivation of this curious expression is disputed; but the meaning seems to be "strophic" or "choric song," or "a place where singing in which more than one takes part is going on."

412:8 In this Song the "further fin" (woto tsu hata-de, explained by the characters or is supposed to signify a pent-roof, or the eaves of the roof, or else an out-house connected by a slanting roof with the main building. The "great palace" is the palace of Prince Woke.

413:9 The "great carpenter" is the carpenter employed to build the roof above-mentioned.

413:10 The "eight-fold hedge of branches" is simply a "hedge," and the "child of a grandee" the Grandee Shibi himself.

413:11 p. 415 The words "made fast" refer to the tying of the fence at certain places to give it strength. If we accepted Moribe's emendation of the final Verb yakemu, "burn," to yaremu, we should have to translate the last clause thus: "’tis a fence that shall be broken."

413:12 "The great fish" (ofuwo yo shi) is the Pillow-Word for shibi, "tunny." The word "he" (which might also be rendered "it,"—the original being (so) must be taken to refer both to the fish itself and to the Grandee Shibi (i.e., the grandee Tunny), who bore its name.—Following Moribe's acceptable restoration of the original story, which is founded on a comparison of the text of these "Records" with that of the "Chronicles of Japan," we find that in the first Song of the series the young Prince half jokingly remarks on the fact of the Grandee Shibi appearing in public with the damsel who was to have been his (the Prince's) bride. Shibi's name, which, as already stated, signifies "tunny," furnishes the occasion for the marine metaphors borrowed from the current and the breakers. Shibi's answer (Song II,—in the "Records" wrongly ascribed to the prince), takes up the same strain, but in a more daunting tone: the prince is likened to a fisherman who would fain make a futile attempt to spear the great tunny, and his (the tunny's, i.e., the Grandee Shibi's) presence must indeed be pain and grief to him. In a third Song. which is given in the "Chronicles," but not in the "Records," the prince retorts that he relies on his good sword to win the girl for him in the end, and in Song IV the Grandee jeers at the dilapidated condition of his palace, and by implication at the sorry state of his fortunes,—a taunt to which the prince replies in Song V by saying that if the palace is dilapidated, and the Empire in disorder, the fault belongs to none other than to the Grandee himself. Songs VI and VII, which are not found in the "Records," only serve to continue the growing war of words, which in Song VII (in the "Records" wrongly attributed to the Grandee) comes to a climax by the prince exclaiming that if he does not force his way into the Grandee's mansion to seize his lady-love, it is only on account of the magnanimity of his disposition. To this the Grandee replies in Song IX (in the "Records" erroneously attributed to the prince) by a sort of tu quoque, vowing that he will cut and burn his way into the prince's palace. This is not the end of the dispute in the pages of the "Chronicles," but it is all that need detain the reader of the "Records." It should, however, be mentioned that in the "Chronicles" the name of the girl is Kage-hime: Ofuwo "Big Fish," which is here given, would seem to be nothing more p. 416 than a nickname, which perhaps arose from the incidents of this metrics war of words.

413:13 The word used in the original is hashira, the Auxiliary Numeral for Deities. It recurs at the commencement of the next Section, where however it is not convenient to translate it.

413:14 The original here has the character , "again'' or "moreover." But this must be, as Motowori points to a copyist's error, Almost immediately below the same character recurs where it is equally out of place. The translator has followed Motowori in rendering it the first time by "so," and the second by "surely."

414:15 I.e., There is no time like the present for plotting against him.

Next: Section CLXVI.—Emperor Sei-nei (Part IV.—Prince Ohoke Cedes the Empire to Prince Woke)