Batanes in 1668

Introductory Note | Celerina M. Navarro

The following is an English translation of the earliest written document about Batanes that has so far been found. It contains the observations and experiences of a group of Japanese fishermen who accidentally landed in Batanes in 1668 due to bad weather. I would like to thank Prof. Yukihiro Yamada for giving me permission to share his English translation of the Japanese document for the benefit of the people of Batanes.


About the Text | Yukihiro Yamada

(December 6, 1668-April 14, 1670) Jirobei and his company, fifteen (15) Japanese crews [Yamada’s note: The term “crew” here includes the pilot, steersman, rowers, merchants and others, that is, all the persons in the ship] of Owari (western part of Aichi Prefecture where better known Nagoya (Japan) is as its capital city at present), drifted southward, landed on Batan Island on December 6, 1668 [8th year of Kanmon Era], and stayed there until April 14, 1670 (for more than one year and four months) [Yamada’s note: The expression “three years” that appears several times in the following means “three calendar years”, and thus part of 1668, full of 1669, and part of 1670 make “three calendar years”].

During their stay, one (Chookichi) got hurt and died, two (Captain or pilot Jirobei and Steersman Jiemon) were taken to the field and killed due to being aged, one (Goroozoo of Handa Village of Owari, Japan) stayed behind for he had married an Ivatan, and 11 persons left Batan on April 14. They headed to Gotoo Islands, near Nagasaki, Japan, and arrived there on June 5, 1670 via China. They were able to come back to Owari on September 19, 1670. See “On the drifting of a ship of Village of Ohno in Owari”, Collections of Historical Materials of the Japanese Common People, 5:551-559 (1968) (Tokyo: San-ichi Shobo). [Yamada’s note: William Dampier came to Batanes 19 years later than Jirobei with his company].

Upon returning to Japan, they were made to give an account of the incident to the Magistrate in Nagasaki, Japan. Then the eleven (11) crews returned to their hometown, Owari, on September 19, 1670, where the descriptions of their drift and life on Batan Island were recorded for the future generations. The narrators were Choozaemon and Shichibei. They reported in detail about the life of the Batan people and enumerated more than one hundred words being used in Batan 339 years ago (as of 2007). This may be the oldest written documents of Batanes in the world. The people and the language of Batanes thus first entered into recorded history when the crew returned safe and told the whole story in Nagasaki and Owari.

The words of Batan which they reported were written in Japanese syllabaries [Romanized here]. The syllabaries include a syllable-final vowel in all words except for (1) the ‘syllabic consonant of one mora’ of the first part of a double consonant and (2) the ‘syllabic n’ in the phonetic syllable-final position of a word. Therefore we should often try reading these Batan words by omitting syllable-final vowels, which helps us to identify or reach the original Batan words. Two identical vowels in the Japanese transliteration represent a long vowel. In those days when the record was written, it was an ordinary practice that the Japanese kana syllabaries did not distinguish [b, d, g, z] from [p, t, k, s], and [h] from [p] or [b], and therefore when we decipher the spellings we should try reading both, for example, ba or pa, bo or po, ga or ka, and the like, and also try reading pa or ba or ha. There are also a lot of cases in which the crews heard the Ivataanen h (corresponding to Itbayaten x) as k instead.

Because of such two or more possible ways of reading syllabaries as mentioned above and because the words in the record being hand-written by brush, they may appear sometimes completely different from the original pronunciation of words in Batan. It is therefore highly probable that there might be discrepancies in readings of the original brush writings among the several editors in the past when printing. I made use of a printed text of the record for the translation and consequently my reading might be far from the words pronounced by the boat people who learned those Batan words. We should read the brush hand-writings of the words in the original records which are beyond my reach at present.

Some Japanese weights and measures in olden times are ri (3.93 km), ken (1.82 m), hiro (1.8 m), shaku (30 cm), kairi (sea mile: 1.85 km); koku (180 liters), hyoo (4 to, 72 liters), to (18 liters), shoo (1.8 liters), goo (0.18 liters), shaku (0.018 liters), kin (600grams – 940 grams depending upon the kind of things to be measured), and monme (3.75 grams). The possible correspondences to the contemporary Ivataanen or Itbayaten words are written in square brackets [ ]. I put mainly Itbayaten corresponding words simply because I know it better than Ivataanen. Itb stands for Itbayaten and Ivt for Ivataanen in the following. The Japanese way of writing syllabaries of the words like assan (one), atuhatu or ahhatu or appatu (four), and annen (six) (which show geminate consonants) may indicate that those Japanese people may have heard the Itbayat words with glottal catches (a’sa, a’pat, and a’nem).

In the following descriptions made by the drifters upon returning to Japan, the reader may find some discriminative or insulting expressions from the viewpoint of present-day sense of value. It may be imagined that at the very beginning of their landing on Batan Island they experienced an antagonistic confrontation with the people of Batan on the beach and they were much astounded at and afraid of the people and both sides might not have been able to establish mutual trust. It may also be noted that Japan in those days secluded herself from outside world and the ordinary Japanese had not seen any foreign people at all, which made them self-centered and difficult to see peoples as existence equal to themselves. This unhappy confrontation may have caused less communication between the islanders and the crew and a fewer number of words they learned from the people.


English Translation of the Text | Yukihiro Yamada

The merchant boat owned by Magozaemon Gonda of Kinomoto-machi (town), Ohno-mura (village), Chita-gun (county), Owari (Aichi Prefecture at present) embarked for Yedo or Edo (Tokyo at present) with lumber loaded and fifteen (15) crews in September, 1668 [8th Year of Kanmon Era]. On their return, they loaded about three koku (about 540 liters) of rice, 3,000 garden plants, 27 hyoo (1,950 liters) of soybeans, and other things and they sailed out of Edo at the end of October. They arrived at Shimoda, Izu, and left there on November 4. The strong wind of the evening on the following day took them offshore. They tried in vain to drop anchor for it was too deep. They were taken 5 or 6 ri (19 or 23 kilometers) eastward.

Realizing the serious situation, the 15 crews cut they hair and prayed to the Sea God’s Palace, but the wind took them farther. On the morning of 8th, they cut down the sail, but the boat ran faster than a sail boat eastward. On the 15th, the wind direction changed and they steered again. It seemed the boat was heading westward. No drinking water in the boat was left by this time and they talked with one another and they prayed to Ryuuzenji Temple (or Ryoozenji Temple) and Jinmokuji Temple, both in Owari, for rain, and waited for rain to be stored in a barge. The captain, Jirobei, scooped out sea water into a pot and boiled it with a lid so that the steam would not go out, and they obtained about 2 shoo (3.6 liters) of pure water. In the meantime, they were able to have rain owing to their prayers. They were able to get much water. Firewood was enough for they had cut masts and there were many other things to be used as firewood in the boat. Firewood was enough for fifty to a hundred days.

They discussed and agreed to save rice: to consume 2 shoo (3.6 liters) a day for 15 crews. Each of them ate 1 goo 4 shaku (0.25 liters) of rice a day. They got physically weak. Their rice savings were almost out of stock. They talked over the situation. There were soybean leaves and tea leaves in the boat which were supposed to be bought by Yohachiroo Chiga (in Owari). They cooked soup and rice porridge, a mixture of a little rice and tea leaves. On the 15th, the north wind blew, and it seemed the boat drifted all the time westward until 25th (for about 11 days). Then three islands came in sight, one in the west, one in the south, and one in the east. They drew a fortune slip to decide which island they should choose to land. Its revelation was that they should choose the island in the east. They landed on the island at about 2 o’clock in the afternoon on December 6, 1668 after the drift of more than 30 days. During all these days we were taken in all directions, east, west, south, and north. [Yamada’s note: Hereafter the first person pronouns like “we” often appear in the documents]. We got on a barge and watched the island. Many people whom we had never seen appeared. Their hair was cropped, eyes were as round as those of birds, they did not wear clothes, and we thought that they were unusual people in this world. Their complexion was dark and they appeared dreadful and we were in mortal fear. Following the fortune slip, we first asked them what this island was called. But they did not understand us, we did not know what to do, and we went back to our mother boat by a small boat. From the boat we made a gesture of asking the whereabout of a port and they pointed southward by gesture too, and so we went there, it was a small island, and we laid down four anchors. At night, people of the island rowed boats to our boat and secretly cut off one of the anchor cables. We too put a guard against them. At midnight, they made a bonfire (torch) and at about 4 o’clock in the morning, hundreds of people came out and they robbed things in our boat and laid them down into their small boats. We tried to prevent it, but we were weak for we had not eaten enough and they broke barges and they encircled us on the beach and they were about to kill us. So we fought with whatever tools available at hand. When it appeared that this was our end, we all 15 prayed to the Grand Shrine of Ise and we took a large rock on the shore which needs about 10 persons to raise up. To our surprise, it was as light as 5 shoo (9 liters) and we were able to raise it up easily (thanks to the Shrine) and we showed our intention to throw it to them, and so they seemed afraid of it for a while. We were on the river side from the night of the 7th till the morning of the 8th. Many people gathered there and ripped off our gold and silver coins, clothes, under-sashes, allotted those items to each, and took each of us to their respective homes. This island (or place) is called the Great Makata Island [Shima] [Yamada’s note: The Japanese term used here is shima which means “island” or “place”. Makata here is probably present-day Mahataw on the Batan Island]. If we said “No”, they would hit us together. Their height seemed to be about 7 shaku (2 meters). They have a great deal of strength and one who appeared to be able to carry 2 to (36 liters) of rice was like a dairiki (man of great strength) in Japan. When we landed, they dared not fight against us vainly fearing the God’s power for we showed them our strength by lifting and moving a big rock on the beach. And we 15 persons were finally settled safe there to meet with the situation under the power of the Batan people. For three years [See the note above], we lived under adverse circumstances crying bitterly consuming all tears. Even in such a country of deplorable people as this, they have love and sympathy, a sense of upper and lower value, the right and wrong distinction as we have. There was one among us 15, who stayed behind in Batan due to love. It is shameful and sad to mention it.

Each of us 15 had a master (landlord), and was made to climb mountains, get firewood, weed in the farms, and plant root crops. At a port we were made to work for about 10 days. There is nothing but root crops and they do not grow any kind of grain or cereals (gokoku in Japanese means 5 kinds of grain), and this is not the place where human beings can live. They did not understand whatever we said. They do not have the writing symbols (characters) and therefore the habit of reading is not practiced. So this situation was a great source of our distress. One or two of us talked to each other secretly and we were looking for a better place. Then we found a village of 700 or 800 houses at about 2 ri (8 km) from this place. In the village we were able to communicate with each other by gestures. They said there was a boat which might accommodate about 100 koku (18,000 liters) of rice and that they promised us that we could use the boat returning to Japan. We decided to transfer to this place. All of us fled by night to the place and agreed to labor under the people there.

One day, a boat which seemed to accommodate about 100 koku (18,000 liters of rice) came offshore. As we had been ready to leave the island for Japan, we thought they might let us leave for Japan and rejoiced over this. When we asked them whether or not we could go back to Japan, they bitterly told us that the boat would not go to such a place yet and that they would not let us get on board the boat. We therefore protested that this was a breach of contract made earlier and expressed our grudge. They seemed to express their refusal. We were very unhappy. When we asked again about the boat when about 30 days passed, they did not respond to us at all and we were obliged to be toiled by the people of the island.

In the meantime, we realized that we did not see Captain Jirobei since March, 1668. When we asked the landlord about him, he said Jirobei was lost when he went to the field. He was not telling the truth. Steersman Jiemon was also not seen since April. Wondering why, we wheedled the truth out of children. They said that they were killed for they could no longer work enough. This is the practice in the island and even their own parents when they get old are taken to mountains and thrown into valleys or ravines.

We were telling them a false statement that in Japan we have much gold and silver. Like Japanese children, the people of Batan did not think it was false because they had seen much iron and copper in our drifted boat. Gold and silver were highly valued in Batan. The two wives next to the first wife of the chieftain hang a coin with a thin string through its hole from the neck. They did not hang them daily but wear when they have some rituals and festivals. When we told our landlords a lie that if they let us go to Japan we would like to bring here in return much gold, silver, copper, and iron which we would present to them, the islanders asked what we would do to a boat. We said if they could furnish us with hatchets, we could build a boat ourselves. Here they did not have iron, etc. nor adze, and we suggested that they should allow us to go to the place we first landed and get a hatchet and used carpenter’s nails and then we might build a boat. We told them a lie that in Japan there are many kinds of metal like iron and rare things and we would like to bring them and present them as a token of their kindness of saving us. Then they asked why we would dare come back here when we finally reach Japan. Then we said that here they had much rosewood and ebony which were as valuable as gold and silver in Japan and we would like to do business with them and come here often for that purpose. They easily believed it. Then they suggested strongly by offering an adze that we should build a boat with the adze in this place. We were offered logs from forests as many as we needed and their help for making a boat. We started to make it in October, 1669. One day we went to the mountain [field], gathered firewood, did farming, and on another day we worked in making a boat and thus the boat was finished in March [in 1670]. We built the boat of wood called toppo [Yamada’s note: atipoxo a sp. of tree in Itbayaten]. We prepared three wooden handles for one hatchet; the long handle for use in the forest and the shorter one for chipping wood. The boat was about 8 hiro (14.5 meters) long. Since there was no iron nor other metal, mulberry wood was made into cramps. Dowels were made by chipping mulberry and by beating into a navel shape. We went into the forest and found a tree which would be fit for sculls. When the boat was halfway finished, Chookichi of Ohno Village was hit by a tree and his ribs broke. People nursed him for more than 30 days but he died in the strong pain because there was no medicine to apply. When he was about to die, he asked the landlord to come around and said that the boat would soon be built, that he was about to die due to his own carelessness, that we 13 persons had been thinking of presenting gold, silver, iron, and other rare things from Japan as a token of our gratitude for every kindness given us here, and that he had asked the 12 persons after his death to bring those articles from Japan and present many of them to our landlord. With this farewell of his, he finally passed away. The islanders thought it true and the landlord and all others shed tears. Chookichi stated good things in his will, and after this they became a little kinder to us.

We did not understand why Goroozoo of Handa Village would not join in the talk on our plan. [His assertion is this]. Even a boat which was made sturdy in Japan by a skilled and experienced boat carpenter using various tools, prepared wood, carpenter’s nails, cramps, red copper for tightening, camphor wood, is likely to be shipwrecked with an unfavorable wind when commuting to Edo (Tokyo at present) which is about 100 kairi (about 185 km) and many people die in the sea. How could we safely reach Japan from a foreign country far over the sea by this kind of small boat we were making here using wooden nails for double-pointed nails with no cramps at all? The boat would be in the ocean nothing less than a mere boat made of tree leaves tied with ropes. After all, Goroozoo did not understand our plan [of coming back to Japan by this boat]. We, 11 persons, tried to persuade him in vain to join us, and from this time on he did not show up to build the boat any more. What we said to Goroozoo was that we all should go back to Japan in union because we had been living together in union over difficulties on the seas as when we were about to be eaten by sharks. We tried hard in persuading in many ways, but he would not agree with us. He did not mind whether we could return to Japan or might sink deep in the sea. Anyhow he did not agree with us and he said he would like to stay behind and keep himself alive in this brutish country even for a short while. We took pity on him and we huddled together (agreed) that we would grab him and take him to the boat when we should embark for Japan. However, Goroozoo had hid himself and nobody knew his whereabouts.

Since we did not have any remedy for him, we were apprehensive that he might reveal our plan to some of the islanders and we thought our departure should be made as quickly as possible. Goroozoo got married to a woman, and ate meat of dog, horse, cow, and other animals and therefore he got dirty because of his violating the taboo [Yamada’s note: In Japan in those days, eating meat of beast was put under religious taboo]. We had been on a vegetarian diet for three years [See the note above], been purifying ourselves by ablution or lustration (pouring water on body), and offering prayers to the gods and the Buddha, simply because we really wanted to go back to Japan. We thought that Goroozoo had qualms. Then the boat building was finished and at the beginning of March, 1670, we 11 got together, started praying devoutly to Atago Shrine [in Japan], and drew a sacred lot which might tell us the direction to Japan whether it is in the north or east. The oracle was that Japan was in the north. When we asked the god about the best time to leave here [Batan], whether it was the middle of April or the end of April, the divine message told that it should be the end of April. So we began to prepare things for the departure.

Things we gathered for departure were in the following: root crops for 30 days, 8 tubs of water, 10 pans made of clay similar to Japanese earthen pan hooroku [Yamada’s note: It may be vanga earthen pot], 10 kin of tobacco (6 kg to 9.4 kg), one hatchet and two chisels which were made of [our] used iron nails, two small knives which people of Batan made, two sacks of something like cattail [Yamada’s note: This may be varok in both Itbayaten and Ivataanen] with which to stuff the holes at the bottom of the boat when bilge water comes in the boat. These were the souvenirs to us and in return they requested us to bring back here much gold and silver. One boat of 2 shaku (60 cm) long with which children play [Yamada’s note: probably it is a toy ataataya], two shuttles of weaving looms which differ from those of Japan, ten tobacco cases, about 45 coconuts and other crops produced in the mountains [fields] and some fruits were also things they gave us. These items were loaded into the boat.

On April 15, we went to sea from Batan. Even in this brutish country, the scene of parting one another was the same as in China and India (as we heard of). There were love and affection. The wrench of parting was heartfelt and dreadful at the same time. We stayed in Batan from December 6, 1668 to April 14, 1670, total of 3 years [See the note above] and on the 15th of April we left Batan heading to uncertain directions. We simply depended upon a fortune slip and upon the wind direction. On the 24th of the same month, we arrived at Morokoshi-yama in Nanking [Yamada’s note: It is probably an island in the south sea, for “Nanking” was once used to indicate something which came from the place which covers wide in the southern seas].

[Yamada’s note: I omit descriptions on Nanking, China, in the record because they are irrelevant here. They stayed from April 24 to May 23 (or ?21) in China and left Hotoozan in China on May 21 (or ?23) [they were not sure about this date themselves], and they arrived at Gotoo Island of Japan on June 5].

It goes without saying that we were thankful to the Great God upon arriving there [Gotoo Island], and we could not find any words to express our gratitude. We have experienced various wonders since we left Batan. This is one of them, i.e. we suddenly noticed an island afloat ahead of our boat and plovers were flying over it. When we looked at it again, it was gone and it might be a day dream, which made us feel at a loss. Another one was that a white heron was leading us flying on ahead. Anyhow we took it as God’s guidance and we went as the bird flew. It must be the grace of God. We were thankful and our hair stood on end at the very thought of it. When we lacked water, rain fell in time and we had enough water and we were also given food. We arrived thus in a dream at Gotoo Island.

The people who looked like magistrates of Gotoo came along by a small boat and asked what country we were from. We said we were Japanese. The official said that this was Gotoo, and asked us what province [in Japan] we were from. We said we were originally from Oono (or Ohno) Village of Owari (Province). We drifted due to the unfavorable wind in 1668. We told them in detail what had happened to us as mentioned above. Then the magistrates ordered us to come along to the port of Gotoo. This news was reported to the capital town and we were brought there. We made an oral statement (affidavit) in detail and they wrote down names of the items which we had in the boat. They guarded us and we were taken to a place 14 or 15 ri (55 or 59 km) down from the town. We were given the following: one hyoo of rice which contains 3 to and 1 shoo (56 liters), 2 shoo (3.6 liters) of salt, 1 shoo (1.8 liters) of soybean paste, 5 bundles of firewood, and 20 salted fish.

In Gotoo, we led our interned life for about 20 days. Then we were sent to Nagasaki under convoy of three boats. There were three magistrates and they held two of us each as hostages in the boats and we arrived at Nagasaki on July 24. Nagasaki magistrates inspected the items in the boat and we were immediately imprisoned and they ordered to put us into prison. After one or two days, one at a time we were taken out from the prison for investigation and we explained everything. While we were in prison, our narratives were sent to Edo [Tokyo at present]. We were in prison until September 1 when, at about 10 o’clock in the morning, we were released from prison, and the boat we made in Batan, various tools, and things given us in Nanking were all sold. The magistrate office of Nagasaki gave us each cotton clothes and money for our trip, furnished us with one magistrate and two attendants, one coolie to each of us 11 and we were sent back finally to the capital town of Owari on September 19 and were handed to Chiga Shima, Esq. and the Magistrate. We were asked to give an account of what had happened to us. The trip money remained at hand were divided by the magistrate’s consideration to each of us 11 which was 950 mon each [Yamada’s note: Mon is a monetary unit of that time]. The county magistrate brought us to our relatives and to the headmen of home villages. The following is what we told to the authorities. [Yamada’s note: in the following, “Itb” refers to Itbayaten and “Ivt” to Ivataanen].

  1. The place where we were in Batan was presumably 5 ri (c.20 km) wide. There were big trees in the mountains and the soil was black. The name of the highest mountain is shihakunankesu or shibakunankesu [Yamada’s note: ?sivaknangkes]
  2. They practice slash-and-burn agriculture, and grow only root crops. There is no staple grains but they plant corn which is called namban in Japan. They plant tobacco. There are pigs, cows, dogs, rats, snakes, small birds, loaches, and others. They eat lice [Yamada’s note: This is what their accounts show and the term is not “rice”]. Men eat dogs while they do not give them to women. It is difficult to distinguish one year from one month, and we might regard 3 as one month. There are no distinguishable seasons. There is no Bon Festival [Yamada’s note: It is similar to All Souls’ Day in Japan] nor New Year’s Day, and it is warm all through the year. When we feel cold, it is likely to be March [in Japan]. There is no Buddha nor God and the anniversary of their own parents’ death is not observed. There is no funeral held but they bury the dead in the field. When they are invited to someone else’s place, they just sit and wait outside and keep sitting on a rock for it is not their custom to enter others’ house. Women wear a ring through a hole of earlobes and hang a necklace at festivals made of coral beads or amber. The house is 2 ken (c.3.6 m) by 9 shaku (2.7 m) wide, made of lumber bound by bark of tree, and roofs thatched with cogon grass. Eaves are about 3 shaku (0.9 m) high, and inside the house, boards smoothly chipped were laid. We lay down (on the floor) as we were, for we had no night clothes. We built our house in the Japanese style for it was difficult for us to do comings in and goings out of the Batan style house. In the Batan language, we call a house wakahi [vahay; Itb vaxay] and a door annehi or annebi [Itb a’neb to close], and a cooking pot wakahoraroku [waka may be vanga; horaroku may be Japanese hooroku meaning ‘earthen pan’].
  3. A battle was fought from April 2 to May 10 between the people of two places, Great Makata [Mahataw] and Sekina [Ivana] and there were 309 killed and 900 wounded in the Makata party, and 91 killed and 407 wounded in the Sekina party. They were able to resort to many war strategies and tactics in the battle.
  4. [Yamada’s note: Names of places or islands] Great Makata [Ivt mahataw, Itb mahataw or maxahaw], Sekina [Ivana], Hukin, Koin, Kure, Tokosu [tohos; Itb toxos], Torano [Itb doranom], Kirisan, Kokorosan [Itb xovos], Tanetayan [Itb panatayan planted yam, a place-name in Itbayat], Uchi(jima), Tokuchiku, Hookosayan [Itb voxos], Kaseki, Saitaya, Ikakayai [Itb ihaahay], Mahemamasa [?maymamasa], Kakusai, Mori, Sokusoku [Itb soxo], Harushihi [Itb varisivis lover grass, a place-name in Itbayat], Metsusokusaku or Messokusaku [Itb masoksok to poke at, Itb michosokoso fretful on the floor, a place-name in Itbayat], Sanaru [Itb somnarok a place-name in the south of Itbayat], Kaikuri, Harukashiya, Kishimono, Rechitachin [Itb kariwachiw a place-name in Itbayat], Kanakuri, Makatamii, Uhetayan, Total 31 places [Yamada’s note: 30].
  5. Batan feast: A feast in which pigs and sheep [Yamada’s note: It is probably goats] were killed, and the hide was stripped off and divided for worshipping.
  6. Words: Tekahan (Japan) [Itb Kahaponan] [Yamada’s note: Tekahan may be borrowed from adjacent languages such as Ilokano], tesosoko (cloud), saraoki (wind) [Itb sarawsaw], noran (water) [Itb ranom], saikaramoku (tree) [Itb kayoh, micharamoh to scratch], tsutsunahe (stone), chitori (money) [Ilokano balitok gold], murikatana (firewood), marume (dirty) [Itb marokmex or maxaneb (chilly, cold) or Tagalog marumi], nakehasu (knife) [Itb ngarex], kutsuran (bamboo) [Itb kawayan], koro (hot, warm) [Itb koxat], kamata (master) [Itb si ama ta our boss], kakoro (servant), ina (boat) [Itb ina mother], taiho (person) [Itb tawo], itsukomu or ikkomu (one generation), maruna (guest) [Itb mawara coming], soshikakohu (grandparents) [Ivt kakovot spouse], marunak (children) [Itb mangaanak], karihoosan (sibling) [Itb kariposan relatives], katsuhon or kahhon or kappon (man and wife) [Ivt kakovot, Itb katoxong neighbor], machan (uncle) [Itb maran], anmei (male), warikosu (female) [Itb mavakes, wari cho a mavakes my younger sister], ama (parent) [Itb ama father, Itb iñapwan parents], makarui (son) [Itb maxakay male], mako (head) [Ivt oho; Itb oxo], momotari (nose) [Itb mohdan], mata (eye) [Itb mata], hato (tooth) [Itb vato stone, Itb ñipen tooth], tachikai (ear) [Itb taliña], mein (mustache, whisker) [Itb moyiñ], tachai (foot, leg) [Itb tachay arm, Itb ayi foot], rinman (finger) [Itb lima], toriki (hand) [Ivt tanoro, Itb torox to hand], hotto (penis) [Itb voto], hokahi (sun) [Itb voxan moon], arase (moon) [Itb araw sun], chimotsu (rain) [Ivt chimoy; Itb timoy], tokosu (India) [Ivt tohos; Itb toxos] [Yamada’s note: It may mean for the Buddhists “higher place” where Buddha was born].
  7. To practice fortunetelling, they place the liver of chicken on the palm of hand, beat it, see how the blood runs, and know what might happen in future.
  8. There are about 500 houses in Makako [?Mahataw]. They call battles chikuchiku. There are about 800 houses in Yuki, whose people fought scrambling against those of Shinko.
  9. The armor in Batan is made of hide of cow and its helmet (skull) is made of wood. Saha (Sawa or Sapa?) is about 50 ri (196 km) offshore from Batan, and there are cows and horses and staple grains. In Iran [Yamada’s note: It is probably Taiwan which was called Teiwan] which is about 60 ri (226 km) offshore, there are bows, guns, gold and silver, coral beads, amber, and others there. People of Batan went to Iran and exchanged chickens and pigs for iron, coral beads, and other tools. When we were heading toward Nanking, we did not see any mountains for three days, and on the fourth day we saw a mountain, and on the fifth day we saw a big mountain clearly. In the place called Kayana which is about 20 ri (79 km) from Batan and in the place called Suruya, there were no cows nor horses and we did not see any persons. They probably hid themselves.
  10. Numerals of Batan: atsusan or assan, roowa, atsumo, atsuhatsu or ahhatsu or appatsu, rinman, annen, bitto or pitto, natsuma, seian, and houkan or hookan (from one to ten) [Itb a’sa, rwa or roha or doha, atlo, a’pat, lima, a’nem, pito, waxo, siyam, and poxo], and a song sung on the way to the field: chauremuarariuyamakariyayayotsukomose or chooremuararyuuyamakariyayayokko- mose.
  11. Names of the men who drifted and their home villages [Yamada’s note: one person is missing in the list, and “Ohno” may be spelled “Oono” too]:

Boatsman (leader) – Jirobei, who was born in Onoura and died in Batan; Nishinokuchi Village – Choozaemon; Ookusa Village – Sanzoo; Mori Village – Rokuzoo; Kusaki Village – Genbei; Nishinokuchi Village – Shichibei; Ookusa Village – Rokuemon; Kusaki Village – Jiemon who was killed in Batan; Mori Village – Denzaemon; Oono Village (=Ohno) – Chookichi who died due to his carelessness; Oono Village (=Ohno) – Heizoo; Oono Village (=Ohno) Sankuroo; Oono Village (=Ohno) – Choozaburoo; Handa Village – Goroozoo who married a woman of Batan and stayed behind.

The oral statement above is what we have reported to various authorities. We embarked for Edo in September, 1668, and returned to Owari on September 19, 1670. Some of the wives of men listed above had got remarried, some were regularly practicing memorial services for their husbands, and there were some who depended upon fortunetelling by sorceresses, mountain priests, or mediums in their weeping life. The fortunetellers had said that their husbands shamefully sank in the sea, were devoured by sharks, ruined for life, and were suffering torments. Or when some members of the family got sick, it was told by such medicine men or exorcists that it was simply due to the vengeful ghost or grudge of the dead crews of the boat, and they were made to pray with tributes to such exorcists. Under such situation, there came an unexpected official notice sent out on the 19th which told of the return of the crews. Knowing that they all would go to welcome them, there were some who wept with joy and some who were at a loss. Those exorcists and mountain priests were humiliated. They, the returnees, told at their home the experiences of the 3 years [See the note above] to ease themselves. Choozaemon and Shichibei of Nishinokuchi Village were made to relate in detail all the painful experiences to be written in record for the furture generations to come. It is hoped that this would be consolation forever. This is really the saving grace of God Amaterasu.

This is the end of the story on the drifting of a ship of Ohno Village in Owari (Nagoya of Aichi Prefecture).


Yukihiro Yamada is Professor Emeritus of Linguistics at Himeji Dokkyo University, Japan. He specializes in the study of the so-called Bashiic languages, particularly Itbayaten in Batanes. His latest book is “Swidden Agriculture in Itbayat of the Philippines – In memory of Harold C. Conklin”(Himeji, 2016).