Изображения страниц
PDF

the early writers on that country. He, however, confined himself to stating that the Japanese worshipped a multiplicity of deities, many of whom were deified heroes and emperors; that they also worshipped demons and evil spirits, and believed in witchcraft and sorcery, but that the prevalent worship was that of Buddha, Saka, or Sakya.

It may be here observed, that from about the period of the Dutch embassies up to the present time the empire of Japan has been hermetically closed against European nations, except from a short annual visit of the Dutch, from Batavia to the port of Nangasaki, for the purposes of commerce ; but even in these exceptions, so jealous have been the Japanese of European intercourse, that the crews of the vessels during their stay in N angasaki were confined within the compass of a small insulated spot, and the sails, guns, and rudder taken possession of by the authorities of the port.

Captain Galownin, of the Russian navy, has, however, been an exception of a different description. That oflicer was taken prisoner under peculiar circumstances, and was conveyed into the interior of the country, where he remained for a considerable time: but he, also, .has confined himself to observing, in a few brief and scattered notes, that the Japanese took him and his companions in captivity without reserve into the temples and places of devotion ; which he has stated bore an extraordinary resemblance to the Catholic churches, being furnished with numerous images, large and small candlesticks holding tapers, &c. &c.

“ They (the Japanese, he adds) are not followers of foreign religions. They, however, give full liberty to a variety of sects, but are quite intolerant to christianity, on account of the troubles it has occasioned among them. The Catholic priests, who formerly lived in Japan, and enjoyed every possible freedom, preached the Christian faith, and converted a great number of the natives: but, at last, the progress of the new religion (to which, it is alleged, may be added proceedings on the part of its preachers not in accordance with its doctrines) led to a civil war, and caused the complete

extirpation of the Christians."

The next account that may be noticed is one entitled to the highest consideration, both from the respectability of its author, and the great estimation of its distinguished narrator, the late Sir T. S. Rafiies. That gentleman, in his discourse to the literary society of Java, has observed, that the Japanese are represented, by Dr. Ainslie, to be “ a nervous vigorous people, whose bodily and mental powers assimilate much nearer to those of Europe than what is attributed to Asiatics in general. Their features are masculine and perfectly European, with the exception of the small lengthened Tartar eye, which almost universally prevails, and is the only feature of resemblance between them and the Chinese. The complexion is perfectly fair, and, indeed, blooming; the women of the higher classes being equally fair with Europeans, and having the bloom of health more generally prevalent among them than is usually found in Europe.

“ For a people who have had very few, if any, external aids, the Japanese cannot but rank high in the scale of civilization. The traits of a vigorous mind are displayed in their proficiency in the sciences, and particularly in metaphysics and judicial astrology. The arts they practise speak for themselves, and are deservedly acknowledged to be in a much higher degree of perfection than among the Chinese, with whom they are by Europeans so frequently confounded; the latter having been stationary at least as long as we have known them, while the slightest impulse seems suflicient to give a determination to the Japanese character, which would progressively improve until it attained the same height of civilization with the European. - Nothing indeed is sooffensiveto the feelings of a Japanese as to be compared, in any one respect, with the Chinese ; and the only occasion on which Dr. Ainslie saw the habitual politeness of a Japanese ever surprised into a burst of passion was, when, upon a similitude of the two nations being unguardedly asserted, the latter laid his hand upon his sword !

“ The people are said to have a strong inclination to foreign intercourse, notwithstanding the political institutions to the contrary ; and perhaps the energy which characterizes the Japanese character cannot be better elucidated than by that extraordinary decision which excluded the world from their shores, and confined within their own limits a people, who had before served as mercenaries throughout all Polynesia, and traded with all nations —themselves adventurous navigators.

“ Unlike the Chinese, the women here are by no means secluded: they associate among themselves like the ladies of Europe. During the residence of Dr. Ainslie, frequent invitations and entertainments were given : on these occasions, and at one in particular, a lady from the coast of Jeddo is represented to have done the honours of the table, with an ease, elegance, and address that would have graced a Parisian. The usual dress of a Japanese woman of middle rank costs perhaps as much as would supply the wardrobe of an European lady for twenty years.

“ The Japanese are open to strangers, and, abating the restrictions of their political institutions, a people who seem inclined to throw themselves into the hands of any nation of superior intelligence. They have at the same time a great contempt and disregard of any thing below their own standard of morals and habits, as instanced in the case of the Chinese.

“ The mistaken idea of the illiberality of the Japanese in religious matters, seems to have been fully proved. On visiting the great temple on the hills of N angasaki, the English commissioner was received with marked regard and respect by the venerable patriarch of the northern provinces, eighty years of age, who entertained him most sumptuously. On shewing him round the courts of the temple, one of the English ofiicers present heedlessly exclaimed in surprise, Jasus Christus! The patriarch turning half round, with a placid smile, bowed significantly expressive of ‘ We know you are Jasus Christus! well, don’t obtrude him upon us in our temples, and we remain friends ;’ and so, with a hearty shake of the hands, these two opposites parted.”

We now come to a later writer, whose work, from the high character of its author, is also entitled to the first consideration and respect. M. Klaproth is well known as a Chinese scholar, and professes to have drawn his information respecting Japan from Japanese books at his command; the best authority we can possess, in the absence of actual observation. We may, however, hope to derive, ere long, a still better knowledge of this extra

ordinary people, from the pen of Dr. Siebold; who, like Captain Galownin, was for some time a prisoner among them.

In the mean time we can only depend on the information which we now have. M. Klaproth states—

“ There are three principle religions in Japan : that denominated Sinto, or Sinsion, is the most ancient, and the primitive faith of the empire. It is founded on the worship of spirits, or divinities presiding over all things visible and invisible, and who are called Sin, or Kami. The Dairi, whose family is regarded as descended from the divinities that anciently reigned in the empire, was originally the head of this religion, which holds in higher reverence than any other divine being the goddess Ten-sio-dae-sin (great spirit of celestial light), from whom the family of the Dairis is derived, and whose chief temple, called Nae-koo (interior temple), or Dae-sinkoo, is situated near Oozi, in the district of Watarabeh, province of lzeh. It was founded by the eleventh Dairi. It is a very plain edifice, surrounded by seven other temples dedicated to various deities and genii. In its vicinity are twenty-four other altars, or chapels, where sacrifices are offered to different tutelary spirits. The Ghekoo (exterior temple), or Ghe-daisin-koo, is in the same district, at Takawara, on Mount N uki-noku Yama. Here is invoked the god Toyo-ke-o-dae-sin, who is regarded as the creator of heaven and earth, and who is at the same time the tutelary divinity of the Dairi ; wherefore, this is the temple in which the reigning Dairi offers sacrifice and performs his devotions.

“ The date of the Ghekoo, like that of the other temple, is B. C. 4; it is encircled with four other temples, amongst which are those of the earth, the wind, and the moon. Sixteen altars and chapels belonging to different deities- are near it, and eight others further off. Generally speaking, the whole province of Izeh is filled with temples and places of sacrifices, and it is regarded as a holy place. The brother of the goddess Ten-siodae-sin was Fatsman, commonly called Oosa Fatsman, from his chief temple being at Oosa, in the province of Bunzen: its date is A. D. 570. Fatsman is the Japanese god of war, and the deity who takes most interest in the fate of the empire: hence the emperors often send embassies to con

sult him in important matters. The Japanese regard Ten-sio-dae-sin as the founder of their empire, and she is on that account the object of their most profound veneration; in fact, the pure Sinto worship recognizes no being superior to her. The D'airis who descend from this goddess, bear, for that reason, the epithet of Ten-si, or “ son of heaven.” The stock of this celestial family is imperishable, for the people believe that when a D'airi has no child, heaven procures him one. At the present day, when an emperor of Japan has no heir, he finds one beneath a tree, near his palace : this is a child secretly selected by himself from an illustrious family, and placed there. The souls of the D'airis, as well as those of other men, are considered immortal; for the Sintos acknowledge a state of existence after death. All souls are judged by heavenly judges; those of virtuous men are admitted into paradise Taka-ama-kawara, or exalted platform of heaven, where they become Kamis, or beneficent genii : whilst those of the wicked depart for the hell Ne-no-kooni, or kingdom of roots. In honour of the Kamis, meas or wooden temples are raised to them: . in the midst of them is placed the symbol of the divinity, which consists of strips of paper‘ attached to sticks of the wood of the finoki (thurya J aponica); these symbols, termed gofei, are found in all Japanese houses, where they are kept in little meas.

“ Every day, or at certain periods, prayers and sacrifices are offered to the founder of the empire, to good emperors, and to other persons who have deserved well of their country, and whose souls have become Kamis. Festivals are also celebrated in their name, termed Matsuri. No person, however, can address himself directly to Ten-sio-dae-sin : he must transmit his prayers to her through the medium of the Sin-go-zins, or tutelary and

guardian deities. “ The sacrifices offered to the Kamis and tutelary divinities, chiefly at

the beginning and end of the month, consist of various articles of food, such as rice, cakes, fish, deer, &c. In ancient times human sacrifices were offered to the tutelary deities ; for instance, to Kosu-rio, or the dragon with nine heads, of Mount To-kakoosi, in the province of Sinano, and other

" These strips of paper accord with Finlayson's account of the Cochin Chinese.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »