Tales of Old Japan eBook

Algernon Freeman-Mitford, 1st Baron Redesdale
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 481 pages of information about Tales of Old Japan.

Chokichi consenting to this, the pair left the house together.

Now Sazen, who as a Ronin wore a long dirk in his girdle, kept looking out for a moment when Chokichi should be off his guard, in order to kill him; but Chokichi kept his eyes open, and did not give Sazen a chance.  At last Chokichi, as ill-luck would have it, stumbled against a stone and fell; and Sazen, profiting by the chance, drew his dirk and stabbed him in the side; and as Chokichi, taken by surprise, tried to get up, he cut him severely over the head, until at last he fell dead.  Sazen then looking around him, and seeing, to his great delight, that there was no one near, returned home.  The following day, Chokichi’s body was found by the police; and when they examined it, they found nothing upon it save a paper, which they read, and which proved to be the very letter which Sazen had sent to Kihachi, and which Chokichi had picked up.  The matter was immediately reported to the governor, and, Sazen having been summoned, an investigation was held.  Sazen, cunning and bold murderer as he was, lost his self-possession when he saw what a fool he had been not to get back from Chokichi the letter which he had written, and, when he was put to a rigid examination under torture, confessed that he had hidden O Koyo at Genzaburo’s instigation, and then killed Chokichi, who had found out the secret.  Upon this the governor, after consulting about Genzaburo’s case, decided that, as he had disgraced his position as a Hatamoto by contracting an alliance with the daughter of an Eta, his property should be confiscated, his family blotted out, and himself banished.  As for Kihachi, the Eta chief, and his daughter O Koyo, they were handed over for punishment to the chief of the Etas, and by him they too were banished; while Sazen, against whom the murder of Chokichi had been fully proved, was executed according to law.


At Asakusa, in Yedo, there lives a man called Danzayemon, the chief of the Etas.  This man traces his pedigree back to Minamoto no Yoritomo, who founded the Shogunate in the year A.D. 1192.  The whole of the Etas in Japan are under his jurisdiction; his subordinates are called Koyagashira, or “chiefs of the huts”; and he and they constitute the government of the Etas.  In the “Legacy of Iyeyasu,” already quoted, the 36th Law provides as follows:—­“All wandering mendicants, such as male sorcerers, female diviners, hermits, blind people, beggars, and tanners (Etas), have had from of old their respective rulers.  Be not disinclined, however, to punish any such who give rise to disputes, or who overstep the boundaries of their own classes and are disobedient to existing laws.”

The occupation of the Etas is to kill and flay horses, oxen, and other beasts, to stretch drums and make shoes; and if they are very poor, they wander from house to house, working as cobblers, mending old shoes and leather, and so earn a scanty livelihood.  Besides this, their daughters and young married women gain a trifle as wandering minstrels, called Torioi, playing on the shamisen, a sort of banjo, and singing ballads.  They never marry out of their own fraternity, but remain apart, a despised and shunned race.

Project Gutenberg
Tales of Old Japan from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook