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   Chapter 7 FUNA-YūRé

The Romance of the Milky Way, and Other Studies & Stories By Lafcadio Hearn Characters: 3393

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02

The spirits of the drowned are said to follow after ships, calling for a bucket or a water-dipper (hishaku). To refuse the bucket or the dipper is dangerous; but the bottom of the utensil should be knocked out before the request is complied with, and the spectres must not be allowed to see this operation performed. If an undamaged bucket or dipper be thrown to the ghosts, it will be used to fill and to sink the ship. These phantoms are commonly called Funa-Yūré? ("Ship-Ghosts").

The spirits of those warriors of the Hé?ké clan who perished in the great sea-fight at Dan-no-ura, in the year 1185, are famous among Funa-Yūré?. Ta?ra no Tomomori, one of the chiefs of the clan, is celebrated in this weird r?le: old pictures represent him, followed by the ghosts of his warriors, running over the waves to attack passing ships. Once he menaced a vessel in which Benké?, the celebrated retainer of Yoshitsuné, was voyaging; and Benké? was able to save the ship only by means of his Buddhist rosary, which frightened the spectres away....

Tomomori is frequently pictured as walking upon the sea, carrying a ship's anchor on his back. He and his fellow-ghosts are said to have been in the habit of uprooting and making off with the anchors of vessels imprudently moored in their particular domain,-the neighborhood of Shimonoséki.

Erimoto yé

Mizu kakéraruru

Kokochi seri,

"Hishaku kasé" chō

Funé no kowané ni.

[As if the nape of our necks had been sprinkled with cold water,-so we felt while listening to the voice of the ship-ghost, saying:-"Lend me a dipper!"39]

Yūrei ni

Kasu-hishaku yori


Onoré ga koshi mo

Nukéru senchō.

[The loins of the

captain himself were knocked out very much more quickly than the bottom of the dipper that was to be given to the ghost.40]

Benké? no

Zuzu no kuriki ni

Tomomori no

Sugata mo ukamu-

Funé no yūré?.

[By the virtue of Benké?'s rosary, even the ship-following ghost-even the apparition of Tomomori-is saved.]

Yūré? wa

Ki naru Izumi no

Hito nagara,

A?-umibara ni

Nadoté itsuran?

[Since any ghost must be an inhabitant of the Yellow Springs, how should a ghost appear on the Blue Sea-Plain?41]

Sono sugata,

Ikari wo ōté,


Funé no hésaki ya

Tomomori no ré?!

[That Shape, carrying the anchor on its back, and following after the ship-now at the bow and now at the stern-ah, the ghost of Tomomori.42]

Tsumi fukaki

Umi ni shidzumishi,

Yūré? no

"Ukaman" toté ya!

Funé ni sugaréru.

[Crying, "Now perchance I shall be saved!" The ghost that sank into the deep Sea of Sin clings to the passing ship!43]

Ukaman to

Funé we shita?ru

Yuré? wa,

Shidzumishi híto no

Omo? naruran.

[The ghosts following after our ship in their efforts to rise again (or, "to be saved") might perhaps be the (last vengeful) thoughts of drowned men.44]


Sugata wa sugoki

Yuré? no,

Kaji we jama suru

Funé no Tomomori.

[With vengeful aspect, the grisly ghost of Tomomori (rises) at the stern of the ship to hinder the play of her rudder.45]


Uwo no éjiki to

Nari ni ken;-

Funa-yūré? mo

Nama-kusaki kazé.

[Having perished in the sea, (those Hé?ké) would probably have become food for fishes. (Anyhow, whenever) the ship-following ghosts (appear), the wind has a smell of raw fish!46]

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