There are only three documents extant in the Woshite corpus, even though many others are mentioned in the ones that we have. The three documents are the Mikasafumi, the Hotsuma Tsutae, and the Futomani. They are written in verse of five and seven syllables. Even today, Japanese poems, called waka, have five and seven syllables. In Woshite World, we study the Woshite written language and equip ourselves to read and understand the messages contained in these ancient documents. This is an introduction to the three documents. As you read this article, you will begin to become familiar with the Woshite World. There is much to learn, and it will be tough-going at first. But fascinating as well! Your understanding will grow as you keep studying with us.
A note about the Wosite society. In Wosite times, wise and compassionate persons rose to leadership positions. They took on the responsibility to oversee the welfare of the people of the land. At the top was the Amakami, and he was assisted by his Tomi. Today, we may think they were rulers governing people, but it was not quite like that. They kept the best interests of the people in mind as they dealt with issues from time to time. They approached situations from the view of the Amenaru-miti teachings. In a particularly difficult situation they consulted the Hutomani for inspiration and guidance. Therefore, for the most part, their society lived in peace and sufficiency for a long period of time.
Sounds of Wosite. Woshite in the old days was pronounced Wosite. You will learn how to pronounce Wosite syllables and words in later lessons. You will note some differences with contemporary Japanese, namely the syllables: hu, ti, tu, si in Wosite versus fu, chi, tsu, shi in contemporary Japanese. We are writing Wosite words for English readers using Roman letters that are close to the way the Wosite language was spoken. In Wosite times, the H syllables were pronounced like fa, fi, fu, fe, fo. However, the F sound spoken by Japanese is very gentle and very similar to an H sound. This is unlike the Western F sound which is very fricative. Therefore, we will use the letter H. Later the sounds of language changed so that the syllable hu became sounded more like fu, as it is written now. So these days most people say and write Futomani. Here on these pages we will write it Hutomani. And instead of Mikasafumi we write Mikasahumi. Let us start using the Wosite spellings of words. At first, you may have encountered some Wosite words before in their modern soundings and will find the traditional way a bit strange.
Hotuma Tutaye (Hotsuma Tsutae)
The Hotuma Tutaye, at age around 2,000 years, is the youngest of the three documents and is, fortunately, complete. Of course, what we have are copies of copies. Tutaye is a term meaning a document that imparts knowledge and wisdom for later generations. All forty chapters, called aya, have been found and can be read today. The Hotuma Tutaye is an epic history of the land of Hotuma, the events and developments as well as the people who were prime movers. It shows that they tried to live in harmony with Universe, and most of the time succeeded in doing so. It conveys the lessons learned so that future generations can benefit.
The original 28 ayas of Hotuma Tutaye were composed by Kushimikatama, the Oomononushi who wrote it for Ihawarehiko (now called Jinmu Tenno). Oo-Tataneko of the same blood relationship added to it 12 more ayas in the times of Woshirowake (Keikou Tenno), approximately 800 years later. Oo-tataneko was Turugi-tomi and a descendant of Sosano-o, and this lineage called the Oo-mononusi held the position of Turugi-tomi from genertion to generation. His duty was to maintain peace and order in the land according to the principles of Amenaru-miti. (The title of Turugi-tomi is also called Migi-no-tomi which translates fo Minister of the Right. However, at that time, the position was different from what Migi-no-tomi came to mean later.)
The Hutomani was compiled by Amateru Amakami. In order to have the best document for use by the leaders of society, Amateru compiled 128 waka verses. He was in his last years of life. The Kagami-tomi Amano-koyane assisted. The Wosite original calls this document Moto ra tutaye no humi. A humi, like a tutaye, is a written document to convey wisdom of the elders to succeeding generations. The term Moto ra tutaye no humi refers to how the solution to a problem is found. It is based on applying the principles of creation of Ame-tuti Universe. The words, Hutomani and Motoake, also refer to the creation process. The teachings were vital to understanding the process of creation, and thus to deriving a solution. The creation of Universe is taught through the Motoake chart shown here, and details are given in Post 6.1 and other posts. Please search on Category Motoake.
Motoake chart depicts the forty-eight creation Kami as the ideograms of phonemes. What is the relationship of the Motoake Kami to waka? Waka poetry is made of the combination of sounds of two kinds of Kami and their effects. Waka has a connection with the energies of Universe and the solution of a problem. When a problem arose, one of these waka poems would be selected to assist in the solution. Regretfully, we do not know the selection rules.
Mikasahumi is an older Wosite narrative of which only around 14% has been discovered so far. The fragment that we have consists of approximately 10,000 Wosite characters. The contents include history similar to that of the later Hotuma Tutaye. They also describe important events more precisely than does the Hotuma Tutaye. The theme of Mikasahumi is how to keep Amenaru-miti, the Way of Cosmos, alive for daily life. It carefully analyzes the changes that take place seasonally. It formed the basis for festivals and other events that observe the seasonal changes and express thanks for their blessings.
This seasonality has been transmitted even to today’s matsuri/festivals of gratitude: New Year’s eve and New Year’s day, Nanakusa (rice porridge with seven herbs), Setsubun (the traditional end of the winter festival), the Hina-matsuri doll festival in the third month, the Aoi-matsuri in the fifth month, the Tanabata-matsuri star festival in the seventh month. This is also continued in the observances of Jichin-sai (ceremony of calming the ground prior to building construction) and of Shichi-go-san (for children 7-5-3 years of age), and others. The origins and the ideas of all these traditional festivals are written in the ancient Mikasahumi.
There’s even more. Mikasahumi describes how the size of Universe is determined by a certain measurement technique. More familiarly, there is a measure to use for everyday purposes.
We learn from Mikasahumi that those who took on the responsibility for the welfare of people operated in accordance to the Laws of Ama, the Universe. (It would not be fitting to call them rulers or governors.) These ideas from Universe form the basis of the academic study of Japanese tetsugaku (philosophy).
Mikasahumi was written by Oo-Kasima who held the position of Kagami-tomi. It is said that the first half of Mikasafumi was written by the first Kagami-tomi Amano-koyane. Amano-koyane was a great-great-grandson of Toyoke-sama. Kagami-tomi was a top leadership position according to Wosite tradition. After Amano-koyane, the position was inherited for many generations by members in the lineage of Toyoke-sama. Kagami-tomi’s duty was to keep alive the transmission of the Kagami tradition: the discernment of good and bad in pursuit of Amenaru-miti, the right Way, in running society for the sake of the people. The word, Kagami, comes from ka (good) ga (not good) mi (to see). Kagami-tomi held the important responsibility of upholding the principles of Kagami. (In those days, Kagami-tomi was also called Hidari-tomi, which can be literally translated as Minister of the Left. The title, Minister of the Left, has continued but has come to carry a different meaning for his role.)
Wosite writing is found extant only in the three documents described above. Two primary characteristics of Wosite literature are: (1) Writing and reading proceed from top to bottom, and from right to left. This is similar to traditional Japanese writing. (2) Documents were written in columns of 5 and 7 ideograms each. When read aloud, these lines amount to verses with rhythms of 5 and 7 syllables.
You will see selections from the Wosite literature in following lessons.