To Japanese

The Smiles of Gods

By Ryunosuke Akutagawa

(Translated by Masatoshi Iguchi)

Illustration from the original edition




One spring evening, Padre Organtino [1] was walking in the garden of the Namban Temple [2], tugging at the cuff of his robe.


In the garden were planted Western plants, such as rose, olive and laurel, among the pines and cypresses. The roses in particular had begun to bloom and, in the evening twilight through the trees, a faintly sweet scent of hung in the air. It added to the stillness of the garden a mysterious charm that was not thought to be common in Japan.


Walking the red sandy path, Organtino was solitarily recollecting old memories. The Head Temple in Roma, the port of Lisboa, the sound of the rabeca[3], the taste of plums [4], the song “Lord, You are the Mirror to my Soul [5]”—while he was in this subconscious state, such memories brought nostalgia to the heart of this red-haired priest [6]. He recited the name of God to wipe away the sadness, but the sadness not only did not vanish but spread a more oppressive atmosphere around his chest.


“This is a beautiful country,” Organtino reflected.


“This is a beautiful country. The climate is fairly gentle. The natives; well, perhaps black folk [7] would be better than these yellow-faced ones? But they are generally of a friendly disposition. Besides, recently the congregation has increased to tens of thousands. Now, even in the middle of the capital, does such a fine temple stand. In that sense, should not living here be pleasant, even if I find it unpleasant? But occasionally I sink into the pit of despair. I feel as though I want to return to the town of Lisboa to be away from this country. Is that just for my melancholic nostalgia? No, I wish I could go anywhere, even if it is not Lisboa. If I could only leave this country to China, to Siam, to India… So, the melancholic nostalgia is not the whole of my depression. I just want to escape from this country one day soon. But… but the scenery of this county is beautiful. The climate is fairly gentle…”


Organtino heaved a lengthy sigh. Then, by chance his eyes caught petals of pale white cherry blossoms which had fallen here and there on the moss grown in the shadow of trees. Cherry blossoms! In astonishment Organtino stared at the open space in the grove. There, in the middle of four or five palm trees, was a weeping cherry tree with drooping branches, the flowers appearing hazy like in a dream.


“My Lord, save me!”


Unconsciously Organtino was about to make the sign of cross toward devils. At that moment, the blossoms of weeping cherry looked so eerie to his eyes. Eerie—not eerie but, for some reason, the blossom rather looked as a very Japanese thing, which unnerved him. But a moment later, upon discovering the fact that they were not at all mysterious but normal flowers, he ashamedly smiled to himself and returned to the path at a limp pace.




Thirty minutes later, Organtino was offering a prayer to Deus in the chancel of the temple in which a lamp hung down from the circular ceiling. The lamp cast a light on a fresco on the wall surrounding the inner shrine, on which São Miguel, battling with the demon of the hell over the body of Moses [8], was depicted. But, somehow, not only the brave archangels but also the raging devil appeared rather elegantly that evening perhaps because of the dim light. Or it might due to the scent of fresh roses and yellow broom blossoms offered in front of the altar. Organtino bowed his head behind the altar and concentrated in prayer.


“Namo Tathagata Deus of Great Compassion and great Mercy! [9] Ever since I departed from Lisboa, I offered my life to Thee. No matter what hardships had befallen me, I moved forward to enlighten the authority of the Cross.” Of course, this was done not by my ability but totally owed to your blessings. But while living in Japan, I have begun to realise how difficult my mission is. In this country some mysterious powers lurk in mountains, in the forest and even in the row of houses in town. Each of these powers hinders my mission. Otherwise, I will not sink to the pits of despair, as it happened recently. I do not know clearly but it is certain that these powers spread throughout this country, like the underground spring water. These powers must be defeated. Namo Tathagata Deus of Great Compassion and Great Mercy! Otherwise, the heathen Japanese may never have a chance to see the glory of Haraiso (Paradise). For many days I have been in anguish about this. May you grant me, a humble servant of thine, courage and patience! ...”


He thought he heard the crow of a fowl but continued his prayer without care about it.


“In order to accomplish my mission, I must struggle with the unknown powers, or probably spirits, which lurk in mountains and rivers. May you grant to me, a humble servant of thine, the same power as you had once to drown Egyptian armies beneath the Red Sea! [10] The strength of the spirits in this county may not be weaker than that of the Egyptian army. Please, grant your power, as the ancient prophet did, for my fight against the spirits ...”


The prayer vanished from Organtino’s lips while he was unconscious. Suddenly a loud crow of a cock was heard from around the altar. With suspicion, Organtino looked around and found a cock perching proudly on the altar with his white tail feathers hanging down, and crowing once more as if the day had broken.


As soon as Organtino leapt up, he spread his arms in his robe wide, in a fluster, to try to expel the fowl, but, after taking a few steps forward, he became petrified, shouting only “My Lord!” The dimly-lit chancel became full of numerous fowls, where they entered from was unknown, flapping in the air, roaming here and there and crowing and cackling. The fowls turned the whole visible area into the sea of the combs of cocks.


“My Lord, save me!”


He tried to cross himself again but somehow his hands did not move an inch, as if they were caught in a vice. Soon, a red light similar to the flames of bonfire began to radiate into the chancel from somewhere unknown. Breathing heavily, Organtino discovered human figures faintly floating about.


The figures became clear. They were a group of primitive men and women who were unfamiliar to him. They all wore a beaded gemstone necklace and were laughing joyfully. The numerous fowls crowding around the chancel crowed more loudly with each other as their figures became distinct. At the same time, the wall of the chancel, the wall which depicted São Miguel, was absorbed into the foggy night atmosphere.


The air of Japanese Bacchanalia [11] hung over the dumbfounded Organtino like a mirage. In the red light of a bonfire, he saw Japanese men and women in ancient costumes sit in a circle and pouring sake into their cups with each other. In the centre he saw a woman of a good physique and dishevelled hair [12] dance vigorously atop a large overturned wood bucket, waving a branch of small bamboo. Behind the bucket stood a man of sturdy build, as big as a mountain, setting up an uprooted sacred evergreen tree, on which gemstones and mirrors hung. Around them were several hundred fowls cheerfully crowing and cackling incessantly, drawing their tail feathers and combs close together. Far behind them, Organtino could not believe his eyes, he saw a large door-like stone slab standing in a majestic manner in the night fog.


The woman on the bucket did not stop her dance. The vine which bound her hair fluttered in the air. The beaded gemstone necklace around her neck resounded like hail. She swung the small bamboo branch in her hand in all directions. And her exposed chest! Her pair of breasts which appeared brightly in the light of the red bonfire did look to Organtino nothing but lust. Offering a prayer to Deus, he tried hard to turn his face aside but, perhaps due to the power of some mysterious curse, he could not easily move.


Then a sudden silence fell over the illusive men and women. The woman on the bucket ceased her mad dance, as if she had recovered her sanity. Even the cocks which were competing for their crows became silent at this moment, their necks still stretched out. Then, in the silence, an eternally beautiful and majestic woman’s voice was heard.


“If I am secluded here, should the world not be covered in darkness? It seems as if the gods are making merry for it.”


Once the voice had vanished into the night sky, the woman on the bucket glanced around and gave a surprisingly graceful response.


“This is because a new god superior to you is there. We are rejoicing for it.”


The new god would mean our Deus. Organtino was encouraged for a while, and watched the change of this strange illusion with half-interested eyes.


The silence was unbroken for a while. When the crowd of cocks crowed all together, the stone slab which looked like a door to the rock cave slowly began to open horizontally from both sides. From the crack created, an unbelievably strong light of many (?) spectrum colours flooding in all directions.


Organtino tried to cry out but his tongue did not move. Organtino tried to run away but his feet did not move either. He felt dizziness caused by the light and heard the strong, delightful voices of men and women echoing towards the sky.


“Ōhirumemuchi (大日孁貴)! [13] Ōhirumemuchi! Ōhirumemuchi!”


“No new gods are there. No new gods are there.”


"Those who oppose thee shalt be destroyed.”


“Look!. The darkness has vanished.”


“The mountains, the forests, the rivers, the towns and the seas. All are yours.”


“There are no new gods. All of us are your servants.”


“Ōhirumemuchi! Ōhirumemuchi! Ōhirumemuchi!”


While such voices arose, Organtino broke into a cold sweat, shouted something with difficulty and collapsed…


As midnight neared, Organtino recovered from the depths of his trance. It was as if the voices of the gods were still echoing in his ears but, when he looked around the chancel, no noise of people was heard and the lamp hanging down from the circular ceiling was casting a dim light on the picture on the wall, just as it was before. With an inward groan, Organtino slowly left the side of the altar. He could not comprehend what the illusion he had seen had meant. It was certain that the one who showed that illusion was not Deus.


“Struggling with this country’s spirits…”


The words slipped out unintentionally from the mouth of Organtino, while he was walking.


“Struggling with this country’s spirits seems to be more difficult than I had thought. Whether I will win or lose—“


Then, at that moment, a whisper arrived in his ears.


“You will lose!”


Unnerved, Organtino looked towards the source of the sound. But as ever, nothing that looked human was seen, but the gloomy rose and yellow broom blossoms.




Next evening, Organtino was again walking in the garden of the Namban Temple. Somehow his blue eyes were tinged with a happy colour. Within that day, three or four Japanese samurai had joined the congregation of believers.


The olive and laurel trees in the garden stood silently in the dusk. The silence was only disturbed by the flapping of pigeons in mid-air which apparently return to the temple’s eaves. The scent of roses, the damp sand, ... Everything looked peaceful like the evening of ancient days when winged angels had seen “the beauty of the human female” and descended to seek their wives. [14]


“Before the authority of the cross, it seems difficult for the power of the heathen Japanese spirits to win a victory, but what was the illusion which I saw last night? — No, it must have been a mere illusion. Was it not of the kind that the devil had shown to São Antonio? [15] A proof was that today we obtained several new believers. Soon, more temples of our Lord will be built everywhere in this country.


Organtino was walking along the red sand path . Then, somebody tapped on his shoulder from behind. He turned around but behind him was just the evening glow reflecting on the green leaves of plane trees lined along the sides of the path.


“My Lord, save me!”,


He mumbled and turned his head forward again. Then, beside him was a dim figure of an old man with a bead necklace, whom he had seen in the illusion last night, was walking slowly, when he emerged there unknown.


“Who are you?”


Organtino stopped there in surprise.


“Whoever I am? —It doesn’t matter. I am one of the spirits of this country.”


The old man replied kindly with a smile on his face.


“Let’s walk together. I have come to talk with you for a short while.”


Organtino crossed himself but the old man showed no sign of fear.


“I am not a devil. Look at these gemstones and this sword. If they had been scalded by the flames of the hell, they must not appear as pure as they are. Now, stop reciting your spells”


Organtino reluctantly folded his arms in discontent and set off with the old man.


“You have come here to spread the teachings of the Lord.”


The old man began to talk quietly


“There may be nothing wrong with that but I am afraid your Deus will eventually lose in this country.”


“Our Deus is the Lord of almighty. Why, he will —”


Organtino started to say, but then changed his tone to speak politely as he usually did to the local believers.


“There is no one who can beat our Lord!”


“And yet there is. Now listen to me. Your Deus is not the only one who has come far away to this country. Koushi (孔子), Maushi (孟子), Raushi (老子), Saushi (莊子) [16],—and many philosophers came from China to this country. It was shortly after the birth of this country. Besides their teachings, the Chinese philosophers brought various things, such as silk of Wu () and gems from Qin (). They also brought miraculous characters for writing which were more valuable than those treasures. But, was China able to conquer us with them? Have a look at the characters, for instance! Their characters were conquered by us, instead of conquering us. Among natives whom I am acquainted with, was a poet named Kakinomoto no Hitomaro (柿本人麻呂) [17]. Please read the poem of Tanabata [18] composed by this man. You cannot find Kengiu (牽牛) and Shokujo (織女) [19] in it. The lovers written in the poem are no other than Hikohoshi (彦星) and Tanabatatsume (棚機津女). What echoed to their pillows was the sound of the Heavenly River with pure water, similar to the rivers in this country. It was not the sound of the Silver River (銀河) [20] which was similar to the Yangtze River or the Yellow River.


I must tell you about the characters themselves, rather than about the poem. Hitomaro used Chinese characters to write down the poem. He used them as mere phonetic symbols, with no regard to their ideographic meaning. Although the character “shiu, ” for boat was imported, a boat is called “fune” in this country, even after then. Otherwise, our language would have been changed to the Chinese language. It was, of course, not Hitomaro himself but the power of our gods who protected the heart of Hitomaro. Chinese philosophers also introduced calligraphy into this country. Kukai (空海), Daufuu (道風), Sari (佐理), Kauzei (公成) [21] ... I frequently visited them in secret. They all used Chinese strokes for their models. But a new beauty was created from the tips of their writing brushes. Their strokes turned in a while to the new Japanese strokes which were different from strokes of Ougishi (王羲之) and Choshireu (褚遂良) [22]. We did not just win over characters. Our breath, like the sea breeze, softened the teachings of the old Confucians. Ask the natives of this country! They believe a ship which carries Maushi’s books will capsize because those books tends to invite our anger, The god of Shinato (科戸) [23] does not do such a bad thing. In such a belief, you may vaguely notice the power which dwells in this country. Don’t you think so?”


Organtino stupefiedly stared at the old man. For him who was not familiar with the history of this country, half of the old man’s eloquent talk was not understandable.


“After the Chinese philosophers came Siddhartha, a prince of India.”


As he continued his talk, the old man plucked a rose flower from the side of the path and joyfully smelled the scent. At the stem where the flower was taken off, the same flower remained as it was. Although the colour and shape of the flower in the old man’s hand appeared to be the same, it looked misty as if it were in the fog.


“The fate of Buddha was the same. You may be bored with these individual stories but what I wish you take heed of is the Teaching of Honji Suijaku (本地垂迹) [24]. The teaching led the natives of this country to imagine as if Ōhirumemuchi and Mahavairocana were the same entity. Is this for the victory of Ōhirumemuchi? Or is this for the victory of Mahavairocana? Assume that there are many individuals among the native of this country who do not know Ōhirumemuchi but do know Mahavairocana. In the figure of Mahavairocana they see in their dreams, they will see the image of Ōhirumemuchi rather than that of the Indian Buddha. I have had walked together with Shinran and Nichiren [25] under the shade of the flowers of sal trees. The Buddha they worshipped and adored [26] was not the black figure surrounded by a halo, but (the figure of) a brother of Prince Jaugu (上宮太子) [27] who was amiable and dignified. I will stop these long stories, as I promised. What I wish to tell you is that your Deus cannot win against anybody in this country.”


“Well, you may say so,” Organtino interrupted, “but today two or three samurai have come to be converted to our religion.”


“Many men will be converted but, as a matter of fact, the majority of natives in this country had been converted to the teachings of Siddhartha. Our power is not the power to destroy but to modify.”


The old man tossed away the rose. As soon as the flower left his hand, it vanished into the evening twilight.


“The power to modify? That is not something special in your country. In any country,—for instance, Greece with many gods, and the demon which dwells in that country, ...“


“The Great Pan is dead [28]. No, Pan may revive one day. Yet we are still alive as we are.”


Organtino curiously glanced at the old man’s face.


“You know of Pan?”


“Yes, I read about the Pan in a horizontally-written book which is said to have been brought back from Europe by the sons of lords of Western Japan [29]. —As to what I was saying, even if the power to modify were not limited for this country, you ought to be cautious. I wish to say you must be careful. Our gods are old divinities, like the Greek gods, who saw the dawn of the world.”


“But our Deus will win.” Organtino stubbornly repeated again. But the old man continued slowly as if he had not heard it.


“Just four or five days ago I met a sailor from Greece [30] who had landed at a coast in Kyushu. He was not a god but no other than a man. Sitting with the sailor on a rock in a moonlight night, I heard various tales from him. They included the tale of a one-eyed god who captured him [31], the tale of a goddess who turned men into pigs [32], the tale of a mermaid with beautiful voice [33], and so on. Do you know the name of this man? Ever since he met me, he became a native of this country, calling himself Yuriwaka (百合若) [34]. So, you also must be careful. You cannot say your Deus will always win. The teachings of your Lord will not always win, no matter how widely they may spread.


The old man’s voice gradually became low.


“It may happen that your Deus changes himself to be a native of this country. (The philosophers of) China and India have changed. (The Lord of) Europe must also change. Gods lurk in our trees, in our shallow streams, in our breezes which flow over roses, and in the evening light reflecting on this temple’s wall. Anywhere and anytime. Be careful! Be careful! ...”


As soon as his voice faded, the figure of the old man vanished in the twilight. Simultaneously, the bells of Ave Maria started to echo from the tower of the temple over the frown-faced Organtino.




In the same evening, Organtino was reading De Imitatione Christi [35] under the candle. It was in a small room in the living quarter of the temple, on the wall of which was a poorly coloured fresco depicting The Last Supper [36]. Since it was on the opposite side of the wall with a high window, at which the desk was placed, the light from the single candle-stand shone there only dimly. With only the soughing of trees in the outside and the sound of Organtino’s page turning, the quietness surrounding him was oppressive.


The spring night gradually wore on. Sitting at the desk, Organtino felt the figure of the old man whom he had seen some while ago revived from the depth of his memory, but the eyes of this red-haired priest continued to follow the small letters. “As long as you are busy, no evil shall befall you. Pray to be busy!” Somehow, he could not but mumbled the adage of São Jeronimo [37].


Soon, weariness came to him. After the hours of reading, he began to indulge in idle reverie, resting his cheeks in his hands.


“Are the spirits in this county not at all different from the Great Pan? Are they not different from the Half-man and Half-horse God [38], written in the biography of São Antonio? The old man I met today did not obey not only the Lord but also the Deus. ... That is impossible. Anyhow I will brief the Head Temple in Goa on the illusion I saw last night. Among my colleagues who stationed in the East, perhaps I am the only one who witnessed that strange thing. ... Aren’t the cocks crowing once again?”


Trembling, Organtino snuffed the candle out. As the light became lighter, the faces of Jesus and his disciples became vivid.


“I need not be afraid of the evils, lest I should be watching this fresco. The face of Jesus who sit in front of the window, the fig tree in the outside, — oh, wasn’t it the fig tree?”


Organtino again shut his mouth as he was confused. In the wall picture, a rectangular window is depicted behind Jesus, as he realised, — but this evening, the outside of the window is seen the blossoms of cerasus tree illuminated in the twilight? Not only that. The expression of Jesus’s face looked somehow changed, surrounded by a halo. After hesitating for a short while, he picked up the candle from the top of his desk and approached the wall. He carefully observed the ugly coloured picture.


“It’s strange. This Peter’s face looks like the old man’s face whom I met. How the spirit of this country could have changed the appearance of Lord Jesus as it is, — ?


The next change was sudden. As soon as he approached closer to his face, Pedro turned his wrinkled face to this direction. Unconsciously Organtino drew a few steps backward. At once, cold sweat spilled on his back. Nobody but the smiling Pedro on the wall moved their eyelashes.


Encouraged by this, Organtino approached the wall once again, raising the candle, and solemnly spoke to Ped

“By the name of Lord Deus, the Lord of the Heaven and Earth, I ask you. Whoever are you?”


Then, Jesus with a halo suddenly uttered an answer which was similar to that found in a Buddhist sutra.


“He is my shadow, I am the light.”


Organtino suspected if his own words were not blasphemy. Immediately, the smiling Pedro spoke to Jesus from the side.


Pedro asked, “My Lord, how dost you show thou-self to us, and not to the world?”


Jesus answered, “If people love me, I shalt keep my words. I shalt come and make my abode with them. I say unto you, child, I was with you for a while. You must ask me. I shalt not let you be orphaned. I shalt come unto you again.”


Pedro asked, “My Lord, where dost you go?”


Jesus answered, “Thou cannot follow me to the place where I go. Thou dost not be afraid, as thou shalt be together at the place where I am. Thou dost not see me. But, if I am alive, thou shalt also alive.”


The twelve disciples said, “My Lord, Ōhirumemuchi! We will be together with you, ...”


Before the words end, the candle left Organtino’s hand and dropped, drawing a fire-tail. At that very moment, he saw in the darkness the Jesus’s face change to that of a beautiful woman, hearing such cries as “Oh Hosanna! [39] Oh Hosanna! Those who come to the very high place, by the name of Ōhirumemuchi, are happy. Oh Hosanna! ...”




Padre Organtino of the Namban Temple—no, it was not necessarily Organtino. Tugging at the cuff of his robe, the long-nosed red-haired man quietly left the garden, where laurel trees and roses grew in the evening twilight, and returned into the pair of folding screens of three hundred years old in which the scene of The Arrival of Namban Ship was depicted [40].


Good-bye, Padre Organtino! Now you are walking together with your colleagues along the seashore of Japan, looking at a Namban ship with your flag hoisted, in the background of which was painted haze with gold paint. Whether Deus will win or Ōhirumemuchi will win may not be easily judged even today. This is the case which our achievement will answer to in the future. I hope you will quietly see us from the seashore of the past. Even if you were in a deep sleep together with the kapitan (captain) who was walking a dog and the black boy who was holding up an umbrella, the sounds of cannon on our black ship which will appear on the horizon will break your dream. Until then, ...


Good-by, Padre Organtino! Sayonara, Bateren Urugan [41] of the Namban Temple!



(The original version published in January 1922)

(Translated by Masatoshi Iguchi, edited by Prof. Malcolm Mackley, in October 2020)




[1] Gnecchi-Sold Organtino (1530 – 1609) was one of the Jesuit missionaries who came to Japan during the Portuguese Era. Born in Cast di Brescia in northern Italy, he became a priest at the age of 22. After serving in Goa for some years, he was sent to Kyoto via Malacca in 1570. He learnt Japanese, adapted to Japanese customs, eating rice, instead of bread, and wearing Japanese clothes. He also studied Buddhist teachings, especially the Lotus Sutra. He was friendly to the Japanese and was called "Urugan Kishi Bantenren(うるがん岸伴天連)". When his predecessor, Luis Frois, left Kyoto in 1577, he was assigned the master of the regional propagation district. The number of followers in Kyoto area increased from 1,500 to 15,000 in three years. His work style was the exact opposite of that of Francisco Cabral, the head of the propagation of whole Japan, who valued the traditional work style. Organtino won the trust of Nobunaga Oda and built a new Nanbanji Temple (formally the Assumption Church of the Virgin) in Kyoto and a seminary under Adzuchi Castle. After Toyotomi Hideyoshi seized power and issued a decree to expel foreign missionaries, Organtino's activities became difficult. In 1605 moved to Nagasaki and in 1609 died at the age of 76 for illness, without being martyred like many Jesuit members.

[2] Namban Temple (南蛮寺). “Namban” literally means “The Southern Barbarians”, denoting Portuguese. A number of Namban temples were constructed all around Japan after 1551 with the introduction of the Catholicism but all of them were destroyed with the enforcement of “Anti-Christianity Acts”, the final one in 1639. “The Namban Temple” in this novel was a particular one in Kyoto.

[3] Rebeca (羅面琴). A three-string instrument introduced from Portugal in the 16th Century. Horse tails were used for the bow.

[4] Plums (巴旦杏, はたんきやう) 。

[5] The source of the quotation is not sure but a verse which may be related to the song has been found in the Google Books, viz. C. F. Morse, “A Grammar of the Bulgarian Languages: With Exercises and English and Bulgarian Vocabularies”, D. Zankoff, 1859, p.110.

“The song of the nightingale is pleasant, Honour is the reward of virtue, The eyes are the mirror of the soul, The branches of the trees bend under the burden of fruits, ...”

[6] In the original text, Shamon (沙門) = skt. Sramaṇa. Akutagawa used this special term for Jain and Buddhist monk(s).

[7] From the early 15th century, Portugal explored to the sea under Prince Henrique, the Navigator, and established trade centres (or colonies) in Guinea, Congo, Angola on the west coast of Africa, and Mozambique on the east coast, to reach Asia. “Black folk” probably denoted the inhabitants of these areas.

[8] Jude 1-9, “Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.” (KJV)

[9] The author assumed that the Catholic father, having lived long time in Japan and been familiar with the local religions, would have called Deus with the honorific title of Tathagata (如來) for a priest who have delved into the secrets of Buddhism, adding a common ornamental phrase for Bodhisattva, “of great compassion and great mercy (大慈大悲)”.

[10] Exodus 15: 3-5, “3The Lord is a man of war: the Lord is his name.4Pharaoh's chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea: his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red sea. 5The depths have covered them: they sank into the bottom as a stone. (KJV)

[11] Refers to the orgiastic rites of Bacchus, the Roman god of nature, fertility, and wine. Inherited from Greek god, Dionysus. (Cambridge Dictionary). The episode in this and following paragraphs is based on the legend about the beginning of Japan, “Legend of Ama-no-Iwato”, literally the legend of the stone door of the cave.

[12] The name of the dancer was “Amenouzume-no-mikoto (天鈿女命). The man of sturdy build, in the next sentence was Amenotajikarao-no-kami (天手力雄神). He closed the stone door after the goddess of the sum appeared.

[13] Oohirumemuchi (大日孁貴) “The goddess of the sun” in Nihon-Shoki (日本書紀), a chronicle of ancient Japan, compiled in 720 AD. In another chronicle of ancient Japan, Kojiki (古事記), compiled in 712, she appears as Amaterasu-Oomikami (天照大御神).

[14] Genesis 6: 1And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, 2That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. (KJV)

[15] “São Antonio” herewith denotes Saint Anthony the Great (251-356 AD), among others. He was also called Anthony of the Desert, Anthony the Abbot, Anthony the Anchorite, etc. He was born and raised in Egypt during the persecution of Christians by Romans before the approval of Christianity by the Constantine the Great (313 AD). In his fifties he opened a monastery with his disciples but after a while retired as a hermit in the desert. He left the world at the age of 105. The episode he visited Saint Paul (Saint Paul of Thebes, ca. 26/27-341 AD) is found in the “The Life of St Paul, the first hermit”. The story is briefly as follows.* ) Having lived in the desert for a long time and reaching the age of 90, Antonio thought he was a perfect hermit. But one night he received a revelation that there was a more perfect monk, called Paul, in Thebes. Next morning, Anthony resolved to head for Thebes and wandered through the hot desert. A half-man, half-horse creature (Centaur) appeared and pointed the direction. After that, Antonio encountered a half-man, half-sheep creature (Satyr) and received the fruits of date palm. Next, Antonio encountered a wolf and was guided to the cave of Saint Paul. Paul was 113 years old. Paul initially refused to meet Antonio but at last opened the door with a smile. They hugged each other, thanked to the God and sat down together. A raven came to deliver a loaf of bread. Paul said it was a gift from the Lord that he had been receiving every day for 60 years, usually a half but today a whole loaf because Antonio was there. Paul told Antonio that his last time had come and implored to fetch the cloak, which Athanasius, the Bishop of Alexandria, had given to Antonio, from the monastery. When he returned with the cloak, Paul was in the prayer position but lifeless. Antony wrapped the corpse of Paul in the cloak and buried it in a grave which was dug by two lions. Antonio took the Paul’s robe, which was woven with palm leaves, to the monastery and showed it to his disciples, and wore it ever on the days of Easter and Pentecost.

*)Summarised from Benedict Baker, De Vitis Patrum, Book Ia, by Jerome, presbyter, and various others,, Mrs. Constance, The Vitae Patrum in Old and Middle English Literature, Rosenthal, 1936, etc. The author is supposed to have also read La Tentation de saint Antoine (The Temptation of St. Anthony), by Gustave Flaubert, 1874.

[16] The names of the four philosophers in Chinese, were: Kongzi or Confucius (孔子), Mengzi or Mencious (孟子), Laozi (老子) and Huangzi (莊子).

[17] Kakinomoto no Hitomaro (柿本人麻呂), ca. 660-724AD. A famous poet honoured as the Sage Poet, along with Yamabe no Akahito (山部赤人). He left 75 short-poems (短歌) and 19 long-poems (長歌) in Manyo-shu (萬葉集).

[18] Tanabata=Star festival. The poem said, “The sounds of rudder are heard from the Heavenly River, Hikohoshi and Tanabatatsume seem to meet tonight.”

[19] In Chinese, the couple’s names were Qianniu (牽牛) and Zhinu (織女). In the constellation, they were named Altair and Vega, respectively.

[20] =Milky Way.

[21] Kukai (空海) 774-835 AD. Also called Koubo-Taishi (弘法大師). The founder of the Buddhist sect, Tendai-shu; Daufuu (道風 or 小野道風 Ono-no-Daufuu), 894-967 AD. A noble; Sari (佐理 or 藤原佐理 Fujiwara no Sukemasa), 994-998 AD. A courtier; Kauzei (公成 or 藤原公成 Fujiwara-no-Kiminari), 999-1042. A courtier. All of them are known as master calligraphers.

[22] In Chinese, Wang Xizhi (王羲之) and Chu Suiliang (褚遂良)

[23] The god of Shinato (科戸) is a god of wind.

[24] Honji-suijaku (本地垂迹). The Theory of Syncretic Manifestation; lit. The theory of original reality and manifested traces. Cf. Kosuke Nishitani, Understanding Japaneseness: A Fresh Look at Nipponjinron through “Maternal-filial Affection”, Rowman & Littlefield, 2016.

[25] Shinran (親鸞), 1173-1263 AD and Nichiren (日蓮), 1222 1282 AD were the founders of the Buddhist sects, Jodo-shinshu and Nichiren-shu, respectively.

[26] Worshipped and adored (隨喜渇仰).

[27] Jaugu-taishi (上宮太子), Alternative name of Price Shotoku (聖徳太子) 574-622 AD, written, e.g., in the plaque of pagoda of Houryuji-temple (ca. 607), Nara, Japan.

[28] Pan, in Greek mythology, is a more or less bestial deity of fertility. Since old time the word was used to express “ruin”. Plutarchus wrote that during the reign of Tiberius the crew of a ship sailing near Greece heard a voice calling out “The Great Pan is dead.” Christians took this episode to be simultaneous with the death of Christ. (Abstracted from: Etymology of “Panic”.

[29] Four young members of Japanese Christians despatched from 1582-1590 on behalf of three Christian lords in Kyūshū: Lord Sōrin Ōtomo (1530–1587) of Bungo, Lord Sumitada Ōmura (1533–1587) of Hizen and Lord Harunobu Arima of Hizen-Hinoe (1567–1612), accompanied by Jesuit Alessandro Valignano. The names of the members were: Mancio Itō (Chief ambassador), Miguel Chijiwa, Julião Nakaura and Martino Hara. They brought back with them a typographical printing machine, religious items and books. The mission was called “Tenshō Embassy to Europe.” (Abstracted from Wikipedia, etc.)

[30] This sailor must be Odysseus, the hero of the Homer’s epic, Odyssey. Many of the readers of this article must know better about the Odyssey, and many summaries are found elsewhere, but the translator wishes to present another summary, summarised by himself from various sources, in the following.

&&&The Trojan War ended up with the victory of Achaean side with the installation of Trojan-horse invented by Odysseus, the King of Ithaka, but it took ten years for Odysseus to return his home, Ithaka, for a series of unexpected troubles.

&&&(1) Odysseus and his men sailed off Troy in a fleet of twelve ships.

&&&(2) The ships were sent north by the wind to the land of Cisones (at the northern side of Dardanelles Strait). Odysseus and his men sacked the town and took their wives for pleasure. Against Odysseus’s order to leave there soon, some of their men continued to snatch their animals and wine and sat on the beach to eat. Then Cisones attached them to kill them, before the ships left the place in a wild wind.

&&&(3) The ships were washed ashore on the coast of the island of Lotus-eaters (off the present-day Libya). A few of his men who ate the lotus flower were induced to forget their homes and families and remained in the island.

&&&(4) The fleet came to the land of the giant one-eyed Cyclopses (in Sicily), where a few of Odysseus’s men were eaten by the monsters in their cave. Odysseus blinded a Cyclops, named Polyphemos, but said the injurer was unknown. Odysseus and the rest of his men hid under the bellies of the giants’ sheep and escaped from the land in the next morning. Poseidon, the god of the sea, the father of Polyphemos, became enraged.

&&&(5) The fleet of Odysseus was led into wrong direction by Poseidon and arrived at the island of Aiolos (Aeolia), the god of winds. He kindly gave them bags of winds. The ships started to sail off the island with the eastbound wind (towards Ithaka) but fell into turbulence, as Odysseus’s men had mistakenly opened bags of other winds.

&&&(6) The ships were driven to the island of Laistrygones (Santo Stefano is an island) and entered their harbour. Odysseus was not informed that the tribes were giant-like powerful cannibals, When Odysseus’s men met the king’s daughter around the water spring and visited the palace, one of them was killed an eaten. At the harbour, Odysseus’s ships were attacked by rocks thrown by the king’s men. Eleven ships out of twelve were destroyed and sunk together with their men and only the ship, which Odysseus was on aboard, anchored away from the quay, could escape to the sea.

&&&(7) The Odysseus’s ship arrived at the island of sorceress Circe (Aiaia in Corsica?). She changed many of Odysseus‘s men into pigs. She tried to cast spell also on Odysseus but he was safe as he have had taken an anti-magic herb. The men who had been changed into pigs were later returned to human. He and his men stayed there together with Circe and her women for one year.

&&&(8) Given advice from Circe for their subsequent voyage, Odysseus directed his ship to the Land of the Death (on the French coast?) to receive prophecies from a blind prophet Teiresias and to meet the spirits of some dead people. The dead he met included Achilleus, Agamemnon, Odysseus’s mother, Antikleia, et al.

&&&(9) When they passed by the sea area of Sirens (around Sirenum Scopuli near the south of Capri), the mermaids with beautiful voices who try to lure sailors to their deaths. Odysseus ordered his men to plug their ears and tie him to the mast so that he would not be tempted to jump into the sea. The word, “Siren” for warning horn, was derived from the name of this tribe.

&&&(10) Next, Odysseus and his men met two horrible female monsters, named Skylla and Charybdis, at aside of narrow channel (The Strait of Messina). They lost two men, eaten by Skylla, but the ship barely escaped from Charybdis who caused a giant vortex.

&&&(11) After that, they landed on the island of Helios (off west coast of Asia Minor), the sun god, where his cattle were kept. One of the Odysseus’s men, who ate the cattle for hunger, neglecting the warning of Circe and Teiresias, was killed. When they sailed off, the angered god destroyed the ship of Odysseus and all men but Odysseus were drawn to die into the sea.

&&&(12) After drifted ten days, Odysseus alone was washed ashore on the Kalypso's island (Malta) and detained by the goddess who immediately fell in love with him for seven years. Then, she released him, urged by Athene, a goddess of Olympus.

&&&(13) Odysseus was again made drifting on the sea by Poseidon but rescued by Princess Nausicaa of Scheria (in Corfu Island in the Ionian Sea) and escorted to her parents, King Alcinous and Queen Arete. They wished Odysseus to become the husband of their daughter, but eventually sent him back to his home.

&&&(14) When Odysseus returned home, Goddess Athene disguised him as an old beggar. She also retrieved Telemachos, the son of Odysseus, from Sparta where he had travelled in search for his father and remained.

&&&(15) During his absence, Odysseus’s territory was devastated by some of his retainers who aspired to marry his wife, Penelope. While Odysseus was studying the situation, Penelope declared she would she would marry the winner of a contest of physical prowess. After the suitors failed, Odysseus took up his old bow and shot an arrow, which passes through the holes of twelve axes. He dropped his disguise, named himself, and, together with Telemachos and several royal servants, killed all the suitors. Odysseus was reunited with his wife, Penelope. Thus, the Odysseus’s revenge was achieved.

[31] Cyclopses: One-eyed monsters in the Homer’s Odyssey. See, Note 30.

[32] Circe: A sorceress in the Homer’s Odyssey. See, Note 30.

[33] Sirens: Mermaids in the Homer’s Odyssey. See, Note 30.

[34] As to Yuriwaka Daijin (百合若大臣, lit. General Yuriwaka), various version of folklore exist in Kyushu and elsewhere in Japan. The story of a version from Oita is briefly as follows:*) “A minister and the governor of Chikushi, Yuriwaka (百合若) was appointed the general/admiral to counterattack the Kublai Khan’s marines when they came to invade Hakata, in Chikushi (1277?). Armed with an iron bow of 8 feet and 6 inches and 363 arrows in accordance with an oracle, he made an expedition to chase after the Mongolian’s vessels which were retreating, damaged by a typhoon, and successfully won the victory, killing the enemy’s four admirals. But, on his way back, when his fleet stopped to rest at the Isle of Genkai, he was betrayed by his subordinate, Beppu brothers (別府兄弟), and marooned there. The brothers who raised a false report that their boss was killed during the battle not only usurped the position of Yuriwaka but approached the latter’s wife. An eagle of Yuriwaka, named Midorimaru (緑丸), freed by his wife flew to the sea and brought back her husband’s short message written by his blood on a piece of leaf. When she wished to know the details and asked the eagle to send a set of writing brush and inkstone, the fowl fell on the way down to the sea and died, because the burden was too heavy. As Yuriwaka’s wife prayed at Usa Shrine, a fisherman from the Bay of Iki discovered Yuriwaka at the island and sent him back to Hakata. Beppu brothers were unable to recognise Yuriwaka, because he was in a disguise, and employed him. Yuriwaka heard his chief-retainer’s daughter was sacrificed for his wife whom the Beppu brothers could not make their own. In an occasion of archery contest held at Usa Shrine, Yuriwaka named himself. He shot the traitors to die. Thus, Yoriwaka and his wife were reunited.

*)Summarised from Archive of historical documents in Oita: War records 2/2 (大分県郷土史料集成: 戦記篇. 下巻),1938, and other documents.

(Note of Note) The theory, proposed by Prof. Shoyo Tsubouchi in 1906, that "TheYuriwaka Legends was an adaptation of the epic, ‘Odyssey’, by the ancient Greek poet, Homer, which would have been brought to Japan in a certain earlier time”*2) raised pros and cons in academia. Akutagawa was not an academic but he is supposed to have aimed at expressing his affirmative position in this novel. The main issue of the oppositions was that the Kouwakamai (a stage dance) on Yuriwaka was first performed at the Ouchi Residence in Kyoto on February 10, 1551: Assume that Odyssey was brought to Yamaguchi in the Ouchi’s territory during Francisco Xavier's visit in early November 1550, then the three-month time must have been too short for preparing the play script. The details can be referred in the lecture note of James T. Araki. Araki himself concluded it was possible, considering also the case that an existing script was modified.*4) Donald Keene raised the possibility that Ulysses was brought across the Asian Continent to China in an early stage, and transferred to Japan.*5) Regarding the Yuriwaka legend in Oita, it might have been possible that the Odyssey and other literary works, as well as various sacred books, were brought there by the Portuguese in the early second-half of the 16th century, independently from the case of Kouwakamai, because Sorin Otomo (1530-1587), who had established a power over the northern part of Kyushu, had met the Jesuit Francis Xavier in 1551 and allowed the propagation of the Christian faith in his territory (The translator’s personal opinion).

*2) Shoyo Tsubouchi (坪内逍遥), “The Origin of the Yuriwaka Legend (百合若傳說の本源)”, Jan. 1906, in: Yuzo Tsubouchi (坪内雄藏). Bungei Sadan (文藝瑣談),Shunyo-do Publishing (春陽堂) 1907.

*3) Araki James T, “Invited Talk (招待発表) 2: The origin of the story of Yurikusa-waka (百合草若の物語の由来)”, Proc. Int'l Conf. on Japanese Literature (国際日本文学研究集会会議録) (6), 1983-03-01, p.203-216.

*4) James T. Araki, “Yuriwaka and Ulysses. The Homeric Epics at the Court of Ōuchi Yoshitaka”, Monumenta Nipponica, Spring, Vol. 33, No. 1, Sophia Univ. (1978), pp. 1-36

*5) ドナルド キーン(著),『日本文学の歴史 (6) 古代・中世篇』,中央公論社 1995/ Donald Keene (Au), Seeds in the Heart: Japanese Literature from Earliest Times to the Late Sixteenth Century (History of Japanese Literature), Columbia Univ. Press 1999.

[35] First written by Thomas a Kempis in Latin ca. 1418–1427. Cf: B.J.H. Biggs (Ed), The

[36] Needless to say, the Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper”, paintedin1490s at Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan.

[37] São Jerônimo=Saint Jerome (English), also known as Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus, was an early Christian age monk. The phrase, “no evil shall befall you” is found in Psalm 91:10: “No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling.” (NKJV), the translator has not been able to determine the source book which the author had quoted.

[38] Half-man and Half-horse God=“Centaur.” See, Note 15.

[39] "Hosanna" was the shout of praise or adoration made in recognition of the Messiahship of Jesus on his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, "Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!" It is used in the same way in Christian praise.

[40] In history, Organtino stayed in Japan and ended his life in Nagasaki at the age of 76. See, Note 1.

[41] Corrupt words in Japan. Padre→Bateren (伴天連), Organtino→Urugan (宇留合無).