Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 74.djvu/170

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was a wide rambling bungalow of wood and paper, roofed with tile and surrounded by a garden of trees trimmed with fantastic artificiality, of flowers and wild growth. Here lived the present member of the ancient noble Tanegashima family that previously ruled the island. My brother called on him one day, and was cordially received, and from him we obtained accounts of the first coming of Europeans to Japan and of the introduction of firearms. It was the custom to keep a family record, and the contemporary account of this episode of the history of the island is most interesting. In addition to the account set down at the time in the family records a complete narrative of the events was written by a priest of the island named Monshi about 1606, or sixty-three years after they occurred, when, as he says, there were still living some old men, with hair as white as the Japanese crane, who remembered the arrival of the foreigners. This narrative he called "Teppoki," or "gun-record." In recent years a history of the Tanegashima family has been written in Japanese by Tokihito Nishimura, and these original accounts are included in it. During some long rainy days on the island our friend Kiyoshi Kanai translated the family records and the "Teppoki," and we studied out their meaning and interpreted them in English as well and as closely as we could. They were written in old-fashioned Japanese and many passages are obscure in meaning and difficult to render.

As the "Teppoki" tells the whole story well and as it incorporates the account given in the family records, I shall give our translation of it, leaving out the other, which would be largely duplication.

There is an island called Tane, 44 miles from Gushu.[1] Our ancestors always lived there. People say that the reason why they call it Tane is that, though it is small, it is full of people and they are all well-to-do. As a seed planted grows and brings forth fruit without end, so multiplied and prospered the dwellers on this island.[2] On the 25th day of August, 1544, a large ship was found on the beach of Nishi-no-mura, and they did not know from what country it came. The whole crew numbered more than a hundred, the shape of their bodies was not like ours and they could not talk with us. The people that saw them thought them very curious. Among them there was a Chinese student named Goho; we had no way now of knowing his last name. The head officer of Nishi-no-mura was Oribenosho Tokitsura, and he knew a good deal. He met Goho and with his cane he wrote on the sand as follows:[3] "We do not know whence the crew of the ship comes. How different their figure is!" Then Goho wrote: "They are merchants of the southwest barbarians. Though they know about the principle of emperor and subjects they are ignorant about ceremony. So that when they

  1. The southern province of Kiushiu, now called Osumi.
  2. Tanegashima means literally "Island of seed," from Tane—seed, ga—of, shima—island.
  3. The meaning of the written characters in Chinese and Japanese is much the same whereas the spoken languages are mutually incomprehensible.