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.
is a proper place for the various articles of furniture.  The kaioke[118] is placed on the raised floor; but if there be no raised floor, it is placed in a closet with the door open, so that it may be conspicuously seen.  The books are arranged on a book-shelf or on a cabinet; if there be neither shelf nor cabinet, they are placed on the raised floor.  The bride’s clothes are set out on a clothes-rack; in families of high rank, seven robes are hung up on the rack; five of these are taken away and replaced by others, and again three are taken away and replaced by others; and there are either two or three clothes-racks:  the towel-rack is set up in a place of more honour than the clothes-racks.  If there is no dressing-room, the bride’s bedclothes and dressing furniture are placed in the sleeping-room.  No screens are put up on the bridal night, but a fitting place is chosen for them on the following day.  All these ceremonies must be in proportion to the means of the family.

[Footnote 117:  The partitions of a Japanese suite of apartments being merely composed of paper sliding-screens, any number of rooms, according to the size of the house, can be thrown into one at a moment’s notice.]

[Footnote 118:  A kaioke is a kind of lacquer basin for washing the hands and face.]


The author of the “Sho-rei Hikki” makes no allusion to the custom of shaving the eyebrows and blackening the teeth of married women, in token of fidelity to their lords.  In the upper classes, young ladies usually blacken their teeth before leaving their father’s house to enter that of their husbands, and complete the ceremony by shaving their eyebrows immediately after the wedding, or, at any rate, not later than upon the occasion of their first pregnancy.

The origin of the fashion is lost in antiquity.  As a proof that it existed before the eleventh century, A.D., a curious book called “Teijo Zakki,” or the Miscellaneous Writings of Teijo, cites the diary of Murasaki Shikibu, the daughter of one Tamesoki, a retainer of the house of Echizen, a lady of the court and famous poetess, the authoress of a book called “Genji-mono-gatari,” and other works.  In her diary it is written that on the last night of the fifth year of the period Kanko (A.D. 1008), in order that she might appear to advantage on New Year’s Day, she retired to the privacy of her own apartment, and repaired the deficiencies of her personal appearance by re-blackening her teeth, and otherwise adorning herself.  Allusion is also made to the custom in the “Yeiga-mono-gatari,” an ancient book by the same authoress.

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Tales of Old Japan from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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