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For context: I received this 手拭 (I think that's what it's called) a few years ago when I took a high school trip to Japan. I didn't think to ask what it meant at the time but now I am more interested in Classical Japanese and would like to know more.

I've been able to piece together what the three main kanji on the cloth mean: 畏業施 essentially meaning "Karma" or "Reverence to Karma" in Chinese or 古文. However, I cannot figure out what the smaller kanji on the left mean. The cursive script they're written in makes it hard for me to search them online or in a 字典. In particular the 2nd and 5th kanji in the left-most column. I'm not sure if this is the best place to ask this since it's at the very least 古文 and very possibly full Chinese, but I don't know where else I could ask.

TL;DR: Does anyone recognize what the small Kanji on the left are, I can't read them in the cursive writing but I'd like to understand it better


1 Answer 1


I think the words on the left side are 水間寺主 東光坊春聽 ("the head of Mizuma-dera temple, Toukou-bou-shuncho"). Mizuma-dera's official website says 今春聴東光 had been the head of Mizuma-dera from Showa 36 to Showa 48 (from A.D. 1961 to A.D. 1973). I guess 東光坊春聽 and 今春聴東光 are the same man, 今東光, but I could find no evidence.

And also, as Chocolate says, the middle kanji in the three main kanjis is possibly 無, and these kanjis are to be read from right to left (the Japanese language was written from right to left in the old days). Then these kanjis are 施無畏{せむい}. It's a little hard for me to exactly explain what this word means due to my ignorance of Buddhism and my English skill, but it seems that 施無畏 means "Not to harm the other person and not to cause fear."


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