Day 02 in Ise…

The morning started with sudden hail and then some snow. Luckily when it was time for us to move from the Kōgakkan-kaikan 皇学館会館, where we are staying, to campus the weather had cleared up. We had three presentations today, all in Momofune 百船, which is like their study resource center. The first presentation was about Ise Jingū’s history (伊勢神宮の歴史) and was given by Endō-sensei (遠藤慶太), then about Ise Jingū’s festivals (伊勢神宮の祭り) by Matsumoto-sensei (松本丘), then the last one was about general Ise Jingū & shintō (『遷宮浪漫』解説) background by Mayo-sensei (Christopher M. Mayo).  Endō-sensei’s presentation was really honest and objective, I thought. This might sound surprising, but when you study about things like shintō and the type of national-learning that’s done at Kōgakkan, myth and [sometimes ultra-] nationalism can easily take over. I was really relieved to hear Endō-sensei’s academically sound approach to Ise Jingū’s history. Mayo-sensei’s presentation was also really helpful because he gave a lot of recommended-reading to us and showed us where to find some online sources.

Saitō-sensei giving his talk on Day 02.

Saitō-sensei giving his talk on Day 02.

Two presentations that I want to write about are Matsumoto-sensei’s about Ise Jingū festivals and a presentation from Day 01 by Saitō-sensei (斎藤平) about Japanese and Ise Language (日本語と伊勢言葉). Both of these deal heavily with the notion(s) of Time, which as I’ve written about in other posts, I’ve been considering a lot lately in my own literary research. Unfortunately I don’t have time to write about both, so I’ll write about Saitō-sensei’s, since he went first!

What a Difference a Day Makes

Saitō-sensei is a linguist, so his presentation dealt with changes in Japanese language (locally) over time. The example that he showed us was about how words for tomorrow, the next day, the day after that, etc., changed in other parts of the country, but kind of froze in time in Ise. The result is sometimes confusion between Ise people and people from other parts of the country when talking about upcoming events, making plans, etc.

  Today Tomorrow In two days In three days In four days
Standard Japanese kyō










Ise sasatte




As you can see in the chart, shiasatte in Standard Japanese means in three days, but in Ise it means in four days. This may sound like a minor detail, but it’s indicative of how remote the Ise region was, albeit such a long time ago. The “sa” in Ise’s sasatte used to be written with the character for 3 三 and was pronounced sa, hence “in three days,” and was written as 三明後日 However, more populous, metropolitan parts of the country started writing 明々後日, which is pronounced shiasatte, meaning something like “the next-next day,” but Ise never kept up with the trends in language, or else was stubborn. Meanwhile, yanoasatte came into vogue as a way of saying “in four days” but Ise stuck with shiasatte. The shi in shiasatte means 4. So in Ise they would write the kanji for 3 (sa) and 4 (shi) when referring to “in 3 days” and “in 4 days.” My guess is, if people wrote or read these terms in kanji (not hiragana) there would be no confusion—the confusion comes when they are spoken or heard.

Finally, why did Ise not change to match the current language change? Well there could be two main reasons. One is that since they are geographically isolated from places like Kyoto, Osaka, and Edo, they just missed out (just think if Ise was Iowa and Kyoto was New York—New York is where all the trends start, then it takes time for them to catch on in places like Iowa, if they ever catch on at all). The other is that since Ise was thought to be a sacred, historic place they preferred the old ways and purposefully did not adopt the new. This is just a small, small example of how language is connected with perceptions of Time and how language is understood can affect one’s understanding of possible future events.