Smithsonian Institution War Background Studies No. 7





1. The name Japan is a modification of the Chinese reading of the characters [Chinese characters], Jihpen. The Japanese pronounce these characters Nihon or Nippon.

2. The old Japanese records (Kojiki and Nihongi) describe in realistic detail this first union of Izanagi and Izanami.

3. It is interesting to note the magical potency of the peach which is in Japan a symbol of the vulva, fertility and, by inference, strength. Students of folklore will recognize in the above passage of variant of the magic flight.

4. Translated into English by B.H. Chamberlain and W.G. Aston respectively. (See bibliography.)

5. The ceremonial exchange od drinks between bride and groom bears a strong resemblance to wedding practices in parts of Malaysia, e.g. the northern Philippines.

6. One more evidence of early cultural ties between Japan and Malaysia.

7. The Kwanyin of China.

8. The do in some parts of Japan is said by some Japanese ethnologists to have once served as a men's house similar to men's houses in northern Malaysia.

9. The term itself came into existence only after the introduction of Buddhism when a need was felt for some way to refer to the native Japanese sacred beliefs and practices.

10. For the story of the 47 ronin see Mitford's Tales of Old Japan. Briefly, the story is of a feudal lord, Asano, who in being instructed in etiquette for an audience with the Shogun was deliberately mistaught by one Lord Kira. As a result, Asano had to commit ceremonial suicide (seppuku) in order to save his honor. Just before doing so he told his followers of Kira's treachery. The followers, now ronin or masterless samurai because of their lord's death, resolved to take vengeance on Lord Kira. However, he was well protected and on guard against Asano's men. The leader of the ronin, according to a plan arranged with th rest, allowed himself to be seen in the company of prostitutes and drunkards, while the others all found various jobs. Then, years later, when Lord Kira was convinced the danger of retribution was past, the ronin stormed his house and killed him, after which they all committed suicide. These men are great heroes in Japan because of their demonstration of loyalty. The story also reveals some interesting methods of warfare honored in Japanese culture.

11. Japanese census figures for 1940.

12. Far East Yearbook, 1941 (figures as of 1938).

13. Far East Yearbook, 1941 (figures as of 1937). The U.S. Census of 1940 gives 126,947 in mainland United States and 157,905 in Hawaii.

14. For a good modern bibliography non all aspects of Japan see A Selected List of Books and Articles on Japan in English, French and German, compiled by Hugh Borton, Serge Elisseeff, and Edwin Reischauer, published by the American Council of Learned Societies, Washington, D.C., 1940.

Transcribed and formatted by Patrick Clancey, HyperWar Foundation