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.

A common tray is produced, on which is placed an earthenware wine-cup.  The sponsor drinks thrice, and hands the cup to the young man, who, having also drunk thrice, gives back the cup to the sponsor, who again drinks thrice, and then proceeds to tie up the young man’s hair.

There are three ways of tying the hair, and there is also a particular fashion of letting the forelock grow long; and when this is the case, the forelock is only clipped. (This is especially the fashion among the nobles of the Mikado’s court.) This applies only to persons who wear the court cap, and not to gentlemen of lower grade.  Still, these latter persons, if they wish to go through the ceremony in its entirety, may do so without impropriety.  Gentlemen of the Samurai or military class cut off the whole of the forelock.  The sponsor either ties up the hair of the young man, or else, placing the forelock on a willow board, cuts it off with a knife, or else, amongst persons of very high rank, he only pretends to do so, and goes into another room whilst the real cutting is going on, and then returns to the same room.  The sponsor then, without letting the young man see what he is doing, places the lock which has been cut into the pocket of his left sleeve, and, leaving the room, gives it to the young man’s guardians, who wrap it in paper and offer it up at the shrine of the family gods.  But this is wrong.  The locks should be well wrapped up in paper and kept in the house until the man’s death, to serve as a reminder of the favours which a man receives from his father and mother in his childhood; when he dies, it should be placed in his coffin and buried with him.  The wine-drinking and presents are as before.

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In the “Sho-rei Hikki,” the book from which the above is translated, there is no notice of the ceremony of naming the child:  the following is a translation from a Japanese MS.:—­

“On the seventh day after its birth, the child receives its name; the ceremony is called the congratulations of the seventh night.  On this day some one of the relations of the family, who holds an exalted position, either from his rank or virtues, selects a name for the child, which name he keeps until the time of the cutting of the forelock, when he takes the name which he is to bear as a man.  This second name is called Yeboshina,[122] the cap-name, which is compounded of syllables taken from an old name of the family and from the name of the sponsor.  If the sponsor afterwards change his name, his name-child must also change his name.  For instance, Minamoto no Yoshitsune, the famous warrior, as a child was called Ushiwakamaru; when he grew up to be a man, he was called Kuro; and his real name was Yoshitsune.”

[Footnote 122:  From Yeboshi, a court cap, and Na, a name.]



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Tales of Old Japan from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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