Music Of The Waters - online book

Sailors' Chanties, Songs Of The Sea, Boatmen's, Fishermen's,
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284                Music of the Waters.
Leader.—" Matsumai, sama, demo,
Nindzu—niya Kanawanu yoitana. Chorus.—Ariya, ariya, yoitoko, yoitokona, riya, riya, riya. Leader.—Medeta, medetano, yo-a-yei. Chorus.—Yatukosei, yomyama! Leader.—Medeta, medetano, wakamatu. Chorus.—Ariya, ariya, riya, riya, riya."
The same notes serve throughout the song, which is a recital and sort of chant of praise of the chieftain Mat­sumai.
Then there is a short song for when they are scrubbing or, as we say, holystoning the decks. It is sung in chorus, and has, at least to us, no meaning. It seems to help them, however, in their work, and, as far as I have been able to learn, is the only one they use for this purpose.
Another song that Japanese sailors sing, and one that I believe is quite peculiar to themselves, is the song sung during a calm at sea, when work is for the time being sus­pended. A favourite one is about Nagareyama, a place celebrated, in Japan, for its wine, and the song is descrip­tive of the sailors taking this wine away to distant countries and exchanging it for the gold and treasures thereof. It appears that they have a curious custom of placing near the masts, when a ship is launched, some maidenhair-fern and rice. The maidenhair is looked upon as something almost sacred in Japan ; and rice, as is well known, is to the Japanese what fish is to the Esquimaux, or oatmeal to the Scotchman—therefore, I suppose, they are chosen as omens of good luck, to be, as they call them, " the gods of the ship." This custom is also alluded to in the song

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