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Interview 6
Feb 2000, Akiyoshi, Japan

Can you tell me the story of Izanagi and Izanami, from the Kojiki?

The kojiki is just written about 600 years, and then the story is about the start ofJapan as a country. The Kojiki story, especially Izanagi and Izanami is more like Adam and Eve in a western way and the story of Zeus/Jesus, such a story is similar in the way its written.

Izanagi is a man and Izanami is a woman. Adam and Eve they are using the leaf to hide the private parts but Izanagi and Izanami they are completely naked. So the man Izanagi told to Izanami, woman you have somewhere in your body dent, so not flat. And then the woman said to man, Izanagi, you have something sticked out from your body. They said lets put it together. That time, it means sex, but at that time it's said in Japanese 'Magui' (magui is a noun, magua is a verb) but now we are not using that word. (BH - So is that an old word for sex) AL - Yes, coming more like get together. That point she said to him, oh you really look nice guy, your cool or whatever. So after they did this action (magui) she said to him oh you're a really good guy.

This is, which called hoko, more like a sword they used to catch animals or whatever,and they used this one together and that is like a muddy pond or whatever and then they hold this one together and mixed up the mud. Because they thought that actions going to help to make a baby, so that's why they did but after they did once nothing happened so they decided to do this action again (magui). And then next time, he said to her, oh your really nice lady so they did the same action again. So using the hoko together and mixing the mud. (BH - So after they'd done that the first time they did the Magui again) And then Izanagi said to Izanami, oh your really beautiful,or nice lady so they did the same action of using the hoko, and of mixing the mud together. Then after he said to the lady, your a nice lady and same action but that time after they mixed up the mud, from hoko there is a few drops and that drops made Japan island, which is Honshu island, Kyushu Island, shikoku island, hokkaido, that's why the Japan is said the gods island, gods country.

The stories important thing is the first time when woman said to man, you're a nice guy, the words, nothing happened, but second time when the man said to the woman something, something strange happen, something like making the island, Japan island, which means to, this is more like political, governement things, to organise everything in governement and everything the man was more important than the woman's word, which means man's got to be the top to control the country.

So that story started this time and man's top and the man's above the woman until recently. And that point, so man's always in public, but womans got to be behind the curtain or not in public, so that's happen this time and also man's normally looking down at the woman. (BH - That's where it comes from that idea) Yes. Just recently this system has changed but before still man said to woman, oh none of your business, you mustn't say anything, I'm the boss, I'm going to control everything. That's even when he (interviewee) was small, that's still such a situation.

Can you tell me the history and purpose of the Mara Kannon Shrine at Tawarayama?
About 450 years ago, in this area, including the North part of Kyushu and chuguk area, (is YamaguchiPrefecture, Hiroshima, Fukuoka) that area, Mr Oji, sort of like a director of like government politician. Mr Sue, used to be below Mr Oji, Mr Oji's the boss, but Sue wanted to destroy Mr Oji and control that area.

So Oji has got children, family, include children. With family he escaped, he ran away to Nagato. So he himself, Mr Oji, was caught on the way to the shrine, but he has got the son and he wanted to keep son's life, so that's why he had ideas to disguise to the son to woman, the girl and then hidden.

Mr Sue found the son and he caught him, so he chopped his head off. Because the son was disguised as a woman, so he chopped his head but to prove he killed the son he wanted to chop the private parts off as well and then he brought the head and the private part together, back to prove.

So the people living around there, they sympathised with the son and then they decided to somewhere like people can pray for his, whatever for the luck for the future or whatever. So that's why the people there made the, something like a penis by wood or stone, and then put it in a small shrine and then people can go and pray.

(BH - When was it built, the shrine?) About 450 and after he died people built the small, very tiny, small like hut, like a shrine and put some penis in here.

This is happening Edo period and gradually, because people think that place is more like a god place to pray for, and then some people started to go and pray and gradually who has got the problem to be able to have the children it's happened and then they could have the children and then that stories going to spread it out, and more and more people going to come to visit and some people just make the penis by themselves and put it there and then such a thing happened more and more, and then that story comes to now.

(BH - And so maybe the older story is forgotten by the newer story of fertility?) Yes, exactly the sad story, the son's chopped off, that sad story people don't know, forgot about it , but more and more people emphasise the, if you has got the problem to having children, you can go there and have children. That story's going to be more emphasised, so people don't know the original story nowadays.

Do you know of any other Shrine's to the phallus or male?
Skikoku Island, which called Uagima island. There is a shrine. (BH - So is that an island, part of Shikoku?) Yes. So he doesn't remember exactly where abouts but when he looked Internet to search, he saw a couple of places in Japan but he doesn't remember where abouts.(BH - So how did he search, just Mara Kannon, that he searched for?) Maybe if you asked the staff here they're going to find out but it's just the day life culture things then later on the myth of relationships, sex or whatever and then you can see the information more.

Do you know the history and purpose of the Chichi Kannon Shrine in Hofu City?
So he has got 2 children himself, and then the first children and second one aswell, they went to the chichi kannon together to pray.

So there are 2 reasons, and one reason is because his wife hoped to bring up the children breast feeding, so that's why she wanted to pray and also his grandmother used to say because all women can have the breast cancer or some problems with breast so that's why to avoid that cancer or any diseases they decided to go and pray, for that 2 reasons they went the place. (BH - So to pray for breast milk but also to prayfor healthy breasts) Yes. So the history of the shrine he doesn't know.

Do you know of any other shrine'sto the breast or woman?
There is one in Tokuyama city,which is in Yamaguchi Prefecture. I don't know the English word, who has got the problem in the bottom, the disease, sometimes sticking out from the (BH - Oh piles) Piles, yes, if you have that such problem, if you go that shrine in Tokuyama that's you can avoid or something like that.

The 6th of the month is the day the Mr Ijima died. His mother go to pray for Mr Ijima every 6th of every month (BH - Who's Mr Ijima?) So he wasn't interested in Mr Ijima, anything so he doesn't know what is Mr Ijima or what he has done, whatever. (BH - So sorry can you repeat again, so the 6th of the month) Is a like I don't know what year Mr Ijima died but the, in Japan people sometimes pray for the same day every month, for the ancestors. And I think his mother's very sort of religious ways strict, so every 6th of the month she goes to the shrine she goes to pray for, but he doesn't know why or the story of the Mr Ijima

(BH - but maybe he's related to the family?) So his grandmother used to, so his mother wanted to pray for all family's health, that's why she just go to pray for the god. (BH - The guard of the shrine) Yes because people believe there is a god in a shrine, that's why they go to pray, so there are some purpose individually in a shrine, but some how she believes that shrine strongly so she goes there to pray for the health of the family every 6th of the month.

(BH- And for the piles, this is particularly for women?) Just both men and a woman. But he thinks for men and women both, but his mother thought because a lot of women's going to the shrine so maybe especially for women it works.(BH - I think it can happen a lot with child birth, so this could be the reason?) He thinks so. (BH - It makes sense)

The most famous shrine in Japan is Isimo, which is in Shimani Prefecture so next to Yamaguchi Prefecture,and there is a shrine called Isimo, that is most famous shrine, then if you're a couple if you go there to pray, if there are some big difficulties, if the couple go and pray, it happen their wish to get together, wish come true. So alot of people, couples especially, go to pray.

So like as he was talking about, there are lots of gods all over Japan, lots of shrines and lots of gods, but in Shimino Isimo shrine, in October which called in old way, we called 'no god month'. Which means all gods from all overJapan get together in October so that's why you can see the god here but not other places in October. That's why it used to be said 'no god month'. (BH - So it used to be the idea is that all the gods go to here) go to here, so get together, so that's why its most famous shrine.

Do you know if the chichi kannon shrine is very traditional?
From the buildings or the stones around the shrine he thinks thats quite tradional, from old age

Do you know of any fertility rituals in Japan apart from visiting the shrines mentioned above? (traditional or contemporary)
So he thinks if anyone has any trouble having children or whatever we want to depend on the god, so we just go somewhere to pray for god, so nothing else he can remember or think of.

Can you describe any common symbols or objects representing man and woman in Japan?
This is he thinks, more from Kojiki story which is called Amano ewato, which is rocks and inside there is the hole, that's the symbol of the woman, that's quite famous story but he doesn't know in detail more, so he said he can find out the information later more. At the beginning he said just yin and yang and that's more describing man and woman (BH - And which way's which again?) Yin is a man and yang is a woman, and also in Japan there is rocks which called man rocks and woman rocks, and people put the rope around the rocks together and tied it up and also there are some mountain, which goes man mountain, woman mountain, but he doesn't know the where abouts.

So in the Kojiki story at the beginning of the men's symbol is hoko, which is shaped like a man's penis, so that's the men's symbol, and then later the man rock and the woman rocks, but that's more like a couple, get together and tied it up. So this is, this is just his thought so it's not written in the story but this is men's symbol (hoko) but woman's symbol, he thinks that the pond in the mud, that pond he thinks that's a woman symbol. (BH - I thought that too)

I understandred rice was traditionally placed outside the home when a daughter first menstruated. What rituals do you know of (traditional or contemporary) which mark such transitions to adulthood for boys and girls?
He said there are not that story around here but at the North of Japan that area, there's a story about the ritual, about the men, boys, which called Gempuku, and then that time a long time ago the humans life was short sort of 40's they die, so their life was short. That's why people used say the 16 years old, if the boy gets 16 year old, that years that's, roughly about, people called adult and also sexually ready for the adult people thought.

And then the before, when you were a child small, they used to wear just a sort of kimono style but the age of 16 or something like that the boy changed the clothes more like which called Hakama, so just changed the clothes the style, more like people thought adult, sort of formal wear but more like, adults way,called Hakama. So at that age the boys changed the clothes, like that.So that age of 16 people, he was considered adult, so he himself, adult. Nowaday people think 20 years old adult but used to thought 16 years old is enought to be an adult

Is there anyage of consent in Japan?

So if there is no acception by the parents you can't get married until 18, so should be after 18 years old. So should be after 16 but between 16 and 18, 18 years old, if the parents understand and accept they can get married, by law.

(BH - But is there anything written necessarily about particularly sexual intercourse, separate from marriage?) He said, this is Yaamguchi, that areas law, if the person is under 18, for example if he (interviewee) has sex with someone under 18, he's going to be punished by law. Even if the situation, the girls said she wants to have sex with him, so that's her intention, even though, he's going to be the punished. (BH - But is it okay if its like a boy and a girl who are under 18?) So in that case not punished by law.

Do Japanese children receive sex eduation at school?

Does this cover just reproduction or other aspects of sexual activity?
He doesn't know nowadays what's been taught in sex education but he heard more like a girls side because they start to have a period and what's going on in their bodies and then once they start the period their body get ready for having sex and having children and all started to change and then how they can protect their body or how they can avoid any diseases or something like that they're going to be told in detail, that's what he heard about.

He said if you want to know more in detail he has one of the workers for him is a highschool teacher so he can ask him to get more information.

Where and how do they typically receive most of their sex education?
So nowadays they are so many informations all over the place, especially like at the convience store, the bookshop or from the television. You can get it, any information for anyone, there's no limited age or anything so even young people they can just get anything they want. He said maybe 10 years ago it was quite limited more like even you go to the cinema, you can't watch if you're under 18 or 17, it's limited, even magazine the age was limited but nowadays the completely gone such a system, so anyone can see anything.

(BH - So for a cinema that might show like pronographic film is there no age limit?) In a pornographic film or whatever, its said under whatever, its said but people just pretend that they're enough age or adult, makeup or just looks adult so just go so can be much, much younger than the limited age. Especially in Tokyo and a big city its completely, yes (BH- And maybe the people who work there won't asked too many questions, for ID or something?) They don't check any identification or anything.

Are there any myths told to Japanese children about 'where babies come from'?
Which is bamboo story. This is the bamboo and after you cut somewhere like that there is the girl, the daughter, baby is inside of the bamboo tree. This is, comes from yin and yang idea and it's said that the bamboo is the symbol of the man that's why from the bamboo inside there is the girl baby is born.

This is one of the story and there is another story, this is a peach story.This is a river and the big peach was floating down, down the river. So the grandmother was washing their clothes at the river and she saw the peach its floating down. And then she took the peach and took it back tohome, so after grandmother and grandfather cut, chopped the peach from the peach the boy, the baby boy came out. So the peach is the symbol of woman that's why from the peach the boy baby came out.

The girl from the bamboo she grown up and after she grown up she goes back to the moon. She was told she's the most beautiful lady in the world that's what's told.In the boy, that's grown up and become really strong and maybe you remembe rwhen you went to the kindergarten and the people throw the beans to the monster, the Japanese monster (BH - The devils?) Yes devils and then its said that there's devils in a devil island and then after he's grown up he went to the island to fight and kill the monster so he was the most, the strongest man in the world, that was told.

He said that such stories, the balance, yin and the yang balance, if there is the symbol of woman there is man aswell and then if the symbol of men, thereis woman, the balance is kept even in long time story. This is a myth we're told and then because the bamboo was shining, that's why the hunter,so the grandfather went to cut the bamboo and he noticed one bamboo is shining, that's why he used the knife and cut it. In that story the grandmother, noticed the peach and took it back and cut it and then also the both story the girl was the most beautiful girl and the boy was the strongest boy so its the balance sort of similar way.

What is the history and purpose of Shunga?

In the Edo period the daughter was not allowed to have sex before she get married, that was taboo, not allowed. So in that time, in Edo period, you're not allowed to have any love affair to have sex with married men or married woman that was completely taboo and if you have done you're going to be, you're going chop the head off, such the punishment, to the death punishment such a thing happen so strict that time.

So that's why the daughters they don't know how to make children, anything and having sex at that time is not fun, people thought more like to have children but the daughters didn't know, that's why when the daughters get married they were given that shunga to learn, as a more like sex education.

So in another way from the man's view they want to enjoy just looking as nowaday pornography, so they get such shunga pictures and then just to looked and enjoy, and to feel sexually enjoyment, they want to have it.

The Ukiyo-e, as it is, is nowadays if you see the actors and actress if you're a big fan of them you want to get their pictures, so that's the same way so the Ukiyo-e picture was printed to just of the actors and actress, (bh - kabuki?) yes, so the people wants to get because they're fan, great fan of them, that's the Ukiyo-e.

(BH - Is the word shunga used only to describe the erotic work in Ukiyo-e or does it also describe earlier work?) This is more same time, and then the pictures it is same way they're made, printed. But Ukiyo-e is more in public people can see, but the shunga is little bit hidden parts, can be more for sex education for the daughter or can be for pornography to be enjoyed by men. (BH - But shunga the word describes only a part of Ukiyo-e?)

What is the attitude to Shunga in Japan now?
So generally the shunga is not be publiced. So in generally nowadays because they can get pornography from the magazine and everything, easily they can get, so that's why they're not interested in shunga pictures, just especially for the collector of like, Ukiyo-e or whatever, they have or the picture was inherited by the ancestors, that family has got. But in generally its not common at all.

(BH - Is there anything prevents, Mayumi had said she thought it was illegal to show in public but I don't know if that's the right word?) Yes, what she was saying is right he said. To be published and outside is banned, sort of, because some pictures are too much and then its against the law, showing everything, so there are some museums to exhibit the shunga pictures but some part are hidden or like that. (BH - So the genital areas would be hidden?) Yes.

(BH - This I've also seen in the Manga pornography, that the genital area is covered) Yes, he said the manga aswell, same way, it's against. He said such a shunga even its banned, up to the person how you understand the law because can be the art, antique art or it can be erotic pornography, so it depends how you get it understand it. So if it's art you can show everything but if it's just pornography you cannot show all of them. (BH - So does this also maybedepend on who's in political power, which material is more art or..?) So he himself he thinks that's art. Because it was more imagination and drawn,so that's why he thinks that's art

(BH - Do you know when this covering began, you know covering the genital area?) He doesn't know. (BH - Pornography,like manga and things how long has that been in the public?) So becoming common but such magazine, after the war, 2nd war. So before that people just read novels, not manga style pictures. When he was a child he wasn't that interested in such a thing so he cannot tell us in detail.

Love Hotels

Do you know the purpose and history of love hotels?
About 75 years ago, so the original idea of the love hotel, is about 75 years ago, and at that time it's, which called tsurekomeiado, which is more like a ryokan, Japanese hotel style.

So the western style love hotel, when that started about 1960, something that time he thinks. So there are 2 kinds of love hotel, which is used to say car hotel because you go by car in the mountain, so somewhere not, yes motor hotel or car hotel. And another way is in a big city people just go on foot to the hotel, which is coming more tsurekomeiado, like a ryokan style become hotel. So because ryokan style they just go in, on foot they walk in, and then nowaday changing to the western style hotel but they just walk in.

(BH - So you mean western style as in more with not tatami rooms, a wooden house etc?) So that's not Japanese style, completely western style, there is a bed on the floor and then the bath aswell, bathroom is more western style, not Japanese style.

(BH - Can he explain somthing about the purpose of these?) To enjoy the sex (BH - From 1925 this is the same history?) So same purpose since its started as tsurekomeiado.(BH - Do you know why these started, was it maybe over crowding or something?) So this is just his thought, like the original idea of the tsurekomeiado, tsurekom word is the man's going to take the woman in and the meiado isa hut, the house. That's the original meaning of the word. And now because in Japan people don't kiss in public or even hug in public, they don't want to show such action to the people, that's why such action was used to be hidden and then such a place in a house or sort of rest room especially who has got geisha, which is a companion in a party. These sort of dinning place to ace to eat and then next door, there's husima, which is the Japanese door, next door the futon, the bed was lying the floor and then after they get drunk they can go to the next room to have sex. But because they're not used to hug or kiss in public, such action used to be hidden so if they want to do having sex or whatever they go such a place, that become more common and common, that he thinks.

So in Japan the basic idea is again yin and yang and then if its day, talking about day, the daytime and the night. So the daytime, people cannot show everything, express everything but night which means more hidden, and then people express their feelings by attitude and everything the action. And also talking about womans, like a kimono the idea, because in Japan the womans not express everything, so its more hidden and that action is people said's beauty. Japanese woman's attitude not showing everything, express eveything. And talking about kimono, kimono doesn't show the body line, its completely straight away but that's people say beauty of Japanese woman. But like a western clothes you can see the body line easily but that's a different idea. So talking about Japanese woman's beauty is more like a hidden part they see.

Oh and also he said that nowaday young people start to kiss or hold hands or hug in public, used to be they couldn't do anything, especially before the 2nd war. In the text books of the school it said, if you become 7 years old, you cannot sit next to a boy and a girl, boys boys area and girls should be separated. So such area is being in the same situation for the girls with boys, not allowed, so that's in the text book its said, so such a different attitude people used to do

(BH - So is there a time when there was the big change?) After the 2nd war, getting changed and changed. Even the lady has got beautiful body line they don't show it,that was the beauty of the, that's the basic idea of the Japanese people. (BH - I can imagine aswell with that sort of hidden look, that it would be very erotic with small pieces of skin showing?) The shape of the kimono, of course as you said such a small part of the skin can be erotic but also in kimono there's just armpit, there's the space, hole and then that was used for 2 reasons, one is when they tied the, tied it up, the obi, they need, because you need to put the hands and then make it up tightly (BH- So this gave the space to move the arms?) Yes and also because when it's tight you need to pull that bit and that bit so you need the space, also for men, this is erotic, the men want to put their hands to touch the breasts,that's why there's space aswell.

What characteristics make a Japanese woman beautiful?

So he said chiraism, I didn't know the word that's more like a combination of Japanese and Engish, and then that is more like, chira is like showing little bit, little bit, because in talking about kimono you don't show everything, so just hide yes, but if you hide everything you get a little bit and little bit and that's more like attracts men's interest.

And then the kimono, so while they're walking its, because they use the foot, so going fluttering like this, fluttering open and then that action is chira chira, that's why chiraism.

And then inside of the kimono the used to wear red underwear, one reason is because the woman has the period so just not showing if its red, you don't need to show, and also the red colour showing the passion, so that's more attract men aswell, so that's why they wear red and wear inside.

So just a little bit, little bit showing called chiraism. So like talking about even fashion collection nowaday some woman's skirt is more like a kimono style going like this, and then while they're walking just showing inside their legs or whatever, he thinks the original idea is coming from kimono. That's he thinks.

What characteristics make a Japanese man handsome?
So talking about men maybe who has got the strength to protect woman. (BH - Also do you think modern day that's relaiable and good job, that sort of quaities?) So he said he's never been in a woman's situation so he doesn't understandwhat is handsome, but he thinks in Japan people say man is strong, woman is weak that's the original idea, so the man who has got the ability and the strength physically, spiritually and mentally, both they say like handsome or good man.

How old are you?
49 and 1 month

So he said nowadays, because we have lots of information from all over the world, Japanese attitudes, even just the relationships between men and women has changed a lot and then this time he talked about more traditional or before but nowaday just different, more open.

Kojiki is historically the first, oldest story, which was written down, the story was told since long long time ago. But similar time was called Nihonshoki, you can get Nihonshoki in English he thinks.

Did you see his fingers, that the way to have sex. Do you know bonsai, that tree is normally can be used for something good or when you want to celebrate or whatever, that tree is used for good luck.

Also, the one of the positions of the sex, because from the pine tree, the leaf, the shape is like this,sort of like very thin stick, very very thin and so because its 2 stickstogether and so if you use 2 pairs and make it together, in this sex position that can be described for the position of the sex, that's the legs. That's the name of the matsuba kuzushi, matsu is this tree, ba is the leaf and kuzushi is to break, to destroy, because if you pull it together like this it's going to be torn off or broken. It's matsubakuzushi style.

That's the hokakaibune style, hokakai is the sail, and bune is a boat, and the boat here the man lying down, that style and the woman sitting on him, so that's the style called hokakai bune style. And then kobumaki style is, so when the woman's bending over and then when she pulls her kimono up towards the waist and the back style which is similar to kobumaki,which is kobu is the seaweed and maki is roll it up, so inside the food and then rolled by kobu and then when you chopped the kobumaki, so that's the pictures similar to the woman's bottoms picture, that's why its called kobumaki style.

So that's the way they used to describe, metaphorical way. The sort of tissue paper to be used for after sex especially, if the woman a virgin the first sex, after first sex the blood coming out and then the bloodspread out sort of like a cherry blossom flowers, so that's why the papers to be used after the sex called Sakura Gami, Cherry Blossom Paper. (BH - And is it a different sort of paper to normal tissue paper?)

So that's a different papers, which is washi, Japanese paper, more like you used for caligraphy,called washi. (BH - Is it also a modern thing this idea of the cherry blossom paper?) The name of sakura gami is not used nowadays but can be that the persons 70 or 80 years old they may understand if they hear but nowadays people don't know. (BH - But can you still buy the paper?) So yes you can, but the paper is just Japanese style paper, which is used for caligraphy or whatever, so that paper you can use, but if the paper used after having sex, that paper can be said sakura gami.

The paper used in the toilet, which he called otoshi gami, so after used it you're going to drop it down, otoshi is to drop so that's why the paper called otoshigami so depends on how you use, so the purpose, so the name of the paperchanged, nowaday we call toilet paper.

So used to be we avoid to describe things directly, all different way, metaphorically we describe things in many ways. Nowadays very very direct, very straight we start to describe. (BH - Did this change after the WWII?) Yes indeed, because after the 2nd war a lot of information from all over the world started to come so that's why.

Do you call in English fellatio? Nowadays even Japanese people say fellatio, but used to be described uguisa, is one of the kind of the bird, which tweets beautifully,and then the birds going down the valley and coming up the mountain, so the birds action called to describe fellacio, so used to be said like that. So beautifully way, so not direct. Japanese nightingale, greenish brown, that colour greenish brown. Is going down the valley and going up such an action describes fellatio.

So people, just in Japan, people forget about how to say things in such a way, people just say everything directly. (BH- Although its indirect, it's very specific) (BH - I imagine there will be people in Japan now studying the language and how its developing, so this is not lost completely) So maybe only if you study specific such an area at the University or whatever, you can come across such a word but except for that, nowadays people just don't see or don't study such old words, old expression.


BH = Beverley Hood (Interviewer), AL = Akemi Lucas (Translator)