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book Rongo (Lun-yu) of Confucius, which he presented to the Dairi, and taught one of his sons to read and write. It would thence appear, that the Chinese colonists, who had in early times settled in Japan, had not made the use of writing generally known there, which they perhaps kept to themselves as an advantageous secret. Whatever be the fact, the merit of Soonin appeared so eminent to the Japanese, that they paid him divine honours: his principal temple is in the province of Idzunu.
"The Japanese," says Galownin, "reckon their time by lunar months, with an intercalary month to supply the difference betwen the lunar and solar reckoning. They occupy an entire month in celebrating the new year; during the first half of which all business is suspended, and nothing but feasting and rejoicing thought of. Their day is divided into twelve hours, reckoning six from sunrise to sunset, and an equal number from sunset to sunrise; consequently the hours are not always equal. When the day is longer than the night, the day hours are the longest; and when the night is longer than the day, the night hours are the longest. To measure time they employ a small beam of wood, the upper part of which is covered with glue and whitewashed; a narrow groove is made in the glue and filled with vegetable powder, which burns very slowly. On each side of this groove, at certain distances, there are holes formed for the purpose of nails being put into them: by these holes the length of the day and night hours is determined for the space of six months from the spring to the winter equinox; during the other six months the rule is inverted, the day becoming night-hours. The Japanese ascertain the length of a day-hour, and mark it off with nails; they then fill the groove with powder, set light to it at noon, and thus measure their time. The beam is kept in a box, which is laid in a dry place; but the changes of weather have, notwithstanding, a great influence on this kind of timekeeper.
"The Japanese day begins at midnight, at which time the clock strikes nine, after having given three strokes, as it were to denote the being about to strike. These three strokes precede every hour. One hour after midnight the clock strikes eight, the next hour seven; at sunrise six, then five, and four, and at noon again nine. One hour after mid-day seven, at sunset six, then five, and finally four. At midnight the new day commences. The hours are struck in the following manner: first one stroke; in a minute and a half a second stroke, and immediately a third. These three warning strokes announce that the hour is about to be struck. In the space of a minute and a half after, the striking of the hour begins. The strokes succeed each other at intervals of fifteen seconds, except the two last, which follow more rapidly, as if to notify that the hour is struck."
From these descriptions, which may be considered accurate, of the religion of this little-known empire and its inhabitants, I turn to others, which may be deemed apocryphal, or at least, from a want of the narrator's possessing a necessary acquaintance with the language (as also occurred among the early writers on the Hindus), loaded, in their details, with errors, especially in the names of persons and places. My object in thus recurring to my notice of the Dutch embassies is for the purpose of annexing a few of the representations of the personages described as belonging to the Japanese Pantheon, some of which are evidently of Brahminical origin. How far these accounts and plates are entitled to confidence, I shall leave entirely to the discrimination of the reader.
The plates in question will be found in the narrative of the Embassies of the Dutch to the Emperor of Japan, between the years 1600 and 1650. One of them exactly corresponds with the Kurm avatara of Vishnu, except that the articles produced at the churning of the ocean are excluded. This plate, which is described as being of the Creator, I have not given, as the reader has only to refer to plate 6, illustrative of that avatar.
Fig. 1, plate 37, is the form of the goddess Daiboth. This statue represents a gigantic figure (whose hand is larger than the size of an ordinary man), sitting in a halo of dazzling beams, among which are an infinite number of small images of various shapes. The temples dedicated to this image are spacious and magnificent.
Fig. 2 in the same plate represents the principal idol in the temple of a thousand gods, near Meaco, of very great antiquity, having been erected by one of the earliest emperors of Japan, and much enlarged and beautified by some of the later sovereigns. The idol, like that of Daiboth, is of an
enormous size, sitting on a magnificent throne, from the canopy of which are suspended several caps. His head is closely shaven: on each side of him, in his temple, stand five hundred gods, each having thirty arms, and holding in each hand two arrows. Their heads are adorned with golden crowns; and the statues, chains, bells, &c. &c., are described as being of massive gold.
Fig. 3 represents the golden Amida. The temples of this idol are stated to be incomparably costly and magnificent. The altar of the figures here shewn is described as being of silver, on which is the idol mounted on a horse with seven heads (the Hindu Surya), each head signifying a hundred thousand years. The head of the idol is that of a dog with long ears. In his mouth he holds a golden hoop, which he supports with his hands. The skirts of his dress are richly embossed. This god is held in high veneration, and is said to be worshipped under various forms.
Fig. 4 is the representation of the god Xaka or Saka. He is described as sitting cross-legged, richly apparelled, and usually surrounded by his forty children; in which manner he appears in the picture. In this work the figure of Xaka is only shewn. Before he was born his mother dreamed that she saw a white elephant come out of her mouth, and enter her left side, which is said to have been the origin of the worship of that animal. Many of the sacred volumes of Japan were written by Xaka, who, that there might be no dispute hereafter concerning their contents, sealed them and indorsed them with this inscription: "Thus I, Xaca, have written the truth."
Fig. 5 represents a bonzi performing a marriage ceremony before the idol of the bride. The temple stands on a hill, one side of which is ascended by the bride, the other by the bridegroom. On arriving at the top the bridegroom takes the bride by the hand, and leads her into the open temple, the roof of which is surmounted by a spire of seven golden balls. Within it, on a magnificent altar, is the idol of the bride with a dog's head; his arms spread out, holding in each hand the end of a copper chain, which passes under his chin. By the head, it is supposed the Japanese intend to represent the faithfulness and constancy that belongs to a married life ; and