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Title: Japanese Girls and Women - Revised and Enlarged Edition
Author: Bacon, Alice Mabel
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Transcriber's Note:

Page numbers from the original book have been added to asterisks that
indicate notes in the Appendix (e.g. [*3]) in order to make it easier to
match them to their corresponding notes. Page 61 has two notes: [*61a]
and [*61b]. Footnotes are in the same format, without the asterisks
(e.g. [1], [2])

Please see the end of this book for more detailed notes on the text.]

By Alice M. Bacon

IN THE LAND OF THE GODS. 12mo, $1.50.

JAPANESE GIRLS AND WOMEN. 16mo, $1.25. In Riverside Library for Young
People. 16mo, 75 cents.

_Holiday Edition._ With 12 full-page Illustrations in color and 43
outline drawings by Japanese artists. Crown 8vo, gilt top, $4.00.

A JAPANESE INTERIOR. 16mo, $1.25. In Riverside School Library. 16mo, 60
cents, _net_.







  The Riverside Press Cambridge

  Copyright, 1891, 1902,

  _All rights reserved._




  This Volume



  CHAPTER                              PAGE

     I. CHILDHOOD                         1

    II. EDUCATION                        37

   III. MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE             57

    IV. WIFE AND MOTHER                  84

     V. OLD AGE                         119

    VI. COURT LIFE                      138


  VIII. SAMURAI WOMEN                   196

    IX. PEASANT WOMEN                   228

     X. LIFE IN THE CITIES              262

    XI. DOMESTIC SERVICE                299

   XII. WITHIN THE HOME                 327


        APPENDIX                        423

        INDEX                           473


In offering a revised edition of a book which has been before the public
for more than ten years, there is little to say that has not been said
in the original Preface. The work as published before, however, was
always, to its author's mind, unfinished, for the reason that a chapter
on household customs, which was necessary for the completion of the
plan, had to be omitted because it could not be written in America.

This defect has now been remedied, and the chapter "Within the Home"
contains the supplementary matter necessary to complete the picture of a
Japanese woman's life. In addition to this a thorough revision has been
made of the whole book, and the subjects discussed in each chapter have
been brought up to date by means of notes in an Appendix. The reader
will find these notes referred to by asterisks in the text.

Finally, a second supplementary chapter has been added, in which an
effort has been made to analyze present conditions. From its nature,
this chapter is only a rapid survey of the progress of ten years. It is
not easy to write with judgment of conditions actually present. A little
perspective is necessary to make sure that one sees things in their
proper proportions. It is therefore with some hesitation that I offer to
the public the result of two years' experience of the present state of
affairs. If subsequent events show that my observation has been
incorrect, I can only say that what I have written has been the
"Thing-as-I-see-It," and does not lay claim to being the

In closing, I would thank once more the friends whose names appear in
the previous Preface, and would add to their number the names of Mr. H.
Sakurai and Mr. and Mrs. Seijiro Saito, who have rendered me valuable
aid in gathering material.

                                          A. M. B.

   _November, 1902_.


It seems necessary for a new author to give some excuse for her boldness
in offering to the public another volume upon a subject already so well
written up as Japan. In a field occupied by Griffis, Morse, Greey,
Lowell, and Rein, what unexplored corner can a woman hope to enter? This
is the question that will be asked, and that accordingly the author must

While Japan as a whole has been closely studied, and while much and
varied information has been gathered about the country and its people,
one half of the population has been left entirely unnoticed, passed over
with brief mention, or altogether misunderstood. It is of this neglected
half that I have written, in the hope that the whole fabric of Japanese
social life will be better comprehended when the women of the country,
and so the homes that they make, are better known and understood.

The reason why Japanese home-life is so little understood by foreigners,
even by those who have lived long in Japan, is that the Japanese, under
an appearance of frankness and candor, hides an impenetrable reserve in
regard to all those personal concerns which he believes are not in the
remotest degree the concerns of his foreign guest. Only life in the home
itself can show what a Japanese home may be; and only by intimate
association--such as no foreign man can ever hope to gain--with the
Japanese ladies themselves can much be learned of the thoughts and daily
lives of the best Japanese women.

I have been peculiarly fortunate in having enjoyed the privilege of long
and intimate friendship with a number of Japanese ladies, who have
spoken with me as freely, and shown the details of their lives to me as
openly, as if bound by closest ties of kindred. Through them, and only
through them, I have been enabled to study life from the point of view
of the refined and intelligent Japanese women, and have found the study
so interesting and instructive that I have felt impelled to offer to
others some part of what I have received through the aid of these
friends. I have, moreover, been encouraged in my work by reading, when
it was already more than half completed, the following words from
Griffis's "Mikado's Empire:"--

"The whole question of the position of Japanese women--in history,
social life, education, employments, authorship, art, marriage,
concubinage, prostitution, benevolent labor, the ideals of literature,
popular superstitions, etc.--discloses such a wide and fascinating field
of inquiry that I wonder no one has as yet entered it."

In closing, I should say that this work is by no means entirely my own.
It is, in the first place, largely the result of the interchange of
thought through many and long conversations with Japanese ladies upon
the topics herein treated. It has also been carefully revised and
criticised; and many valuable additions have been made to it by Miss Umé
Tsuda, teacher of English in the Peeresses' School in Tōkyō, and an old
and intimate friend. Miss Tsuda is at present in this country, on a two
years' leave, for purposes of further study. She has, amid her many
duties as a student at Bryn Mawr College, given much time and thought to
this work; and a large part of whatever value it may possess is due to

I would say, too, that in the verification of dates, names, and
historical incidents, I have relied altogether upon Griffis's "Mikado's
Empire" and Rein's "Japan," knowing that those two authors represent the
best that has been done by foreigners in the field of Japanese history.

This work also owes much, not only to the suggestions and historical
aids contained in the "Mikado's Empire," but to Mr. Griffis himself,
for his careful reading of my manuscript, and for his criticisms and
suggestions. No greater encouragement can be given to an inexperienced
author than the helpful criticism of one who has already distinguished
himself in the same field of labor; and for just such friendly aid my
warmest thanks are due to Mr. Griffis.

                                          A. M. B.

HAMPTON, VA., _February, 1891_.




To the Japanese baby the beginning of life is not very different from
its beginning to babies in the Western world. Its birth, whether it be
girl or boy, is the cause of much rejoicing. As boys alone can carry on
the family name and inherit titles and estates, they are considered of
more importance, but many parents' hearts are made glad by the addition
of a daughter to the family circle.

As soon as the event takes place, a special messenger is dispatched to
notify relatives and intimate friends, while formal letters of
announcement are sent to those less closely related. All persons thus
notified must make an early visit to the newcomer, in order to welcome
it into the world, and must either take with them or send before them
some present. Toys, pieces of cotton, silk, or crêpe for the baby's
dress are regarded as suitable; and everything must be accompanied by
fish or eggs, for good luck. Where eggs are sent, they are neatly
arranged in a covered box, which may contain thirty, forty, or even one
hundred eggs.[1] The baby, especially if it be the first one in a
family, receives many presents in the first few weeks of its life, and
at a certain time proper acknowledgment must be made and return presents
sent. This is done when the baby is about thirty days old.

[1] All presents in Japan must be wrapped in white paper, although,
except for funerals, this paper must have some writing on it, and must
be tied with a peculiar red and white paper string, in which is inserted
the _noshi_, or bit of dried fish, daintily folded in a piece of colored
paper, which is an indispensable accompaniment of every present.

Both baby and mother have a hard time of it for the first few weeks of
its life. The baby is passed from hand to hand, fussed over, and talked
to so much by the visitors that come in, that it must think this world a
trying place. The mother, too, is denied the rest and quiet she needs,
and wears herself out in the excitement of seeing her friends, and the
physical exercise of going through, so far as possible, the ceremonious
bows and salutations that etiquette prescribes.

Before the seventh day the baby receives its name.[2] There is no
especial ceremony connected with this, but the child's birth must be
formally registered, together with its name, at the district office of
registration, and the household keep holiday in honor of the event. A
certain kind of rice, cooked with red beans, a festival dish denoting
good fortune, is usually partaken of by the family on the seventh day.

[2] A child is rarely given the name of a living member of the family,
or of any friend. The father's name, slightly modified, is frequently
given to a son, and those of ancestors long ago dead are sometimes used.
One reason for this is probably the inconvenience of similar names in
the same family, and middle names, as a way of avoiding this difficulty,
are unknown. The father usually names the child, but some friend or
patron of the family may be asked to do it. Names of beautiful objects
in nature, such as Plum, Snow, Sunshine, Lotos, Gold, are commonly used
for girls, while boys of the lower classes often rejoice in such
appellations as Stone, Bear, Tiger, etc. To call a child after a person
would not be considered any especial compliment.[*3]

The next important event in the baby's life is the _miya mairi_, a
ceremony which corresponds roughly with our christening. On the
thirtieth day after birth,[*4] the baby is taken for its first visit to
the temple. For this visit great preparations are made, and the baby is
dressed in finest silk or crêpe, gayly figured,--garments made
especially for the occasion. Upon the dress appears in various places
the crest of the family, as on all ceremonial dresses, whether for young
or old, for every Japanese family has its crest. Thus arrayed, and
accompanied by members of the family, the young baby is carried to one
of the Shinto temples, and there placed under the protection of the
patron deity of the temple. This god, chosen from a great number of
Shinto deities, is supposed to become the special guardian of the child
through life. Offerings are made to the god and to the priest, and a
blessing is obtained; and the baby is thus formally placed under the
care of a special deity. This ceremony over, there is usually an
entertainment of some kind at the home of the parents, especially if the
family be one of high rank. Friends are invited, and if there are any
who have not as yet sent in presents, they may give them at this time.

It is usually on this day that the family send to their friends some
acknowledgment of the presents received. This sometimes consists of the
red bean rice, such as is prepared for the seventh day celebration, and
sometimes of cakes of _mochi_, or rice paste. A letter of thanks usually
accompanies the return present. If rice is sent, it is put in a handsome
lacquered box, the box placed on a lacquered tray, and the whole covered
with a square of crêpe or silk, richly decorated. The box, the tray, and
the cover are of course returned, and, curious to say, the box must be
returned unwashed, as it would be very unlucky to send it back clean. A
piece of Japanese paper must be slipped into the box after its contents
have been removed, and box and tray must be given back, just as they
are, to the messenger. Sometimes a box of eggs, or a peculiar kind of
dried fish, called _katsuobushi_, is sent with this present, when it is
desired to make an especially handsome return. When as many as fifty or
one hundred return presents of this kind are to be sent, it is no slight
tax on the mistress of the house to see that no one is forgotten, and
that all is properly done. As special messengers are sent, a number of
men are sometimes kept busy for two or three days.

After all these festivities, a quiet, undisturbed life begins for the
baby,--a life which is neither unpleasant nor unhealthful. It is not
jolted, rocked, or trotted to sleep; it is allowed to cry if it chooses,
without anybody's supposing that the world will come to an end because
of its crying; and its dress is loose and easily put on, so that very
little time is spent in the tiresome process of dressing and undressing.
Under these conditions the baby thrives and grows strong and fat; learns
to take life with some philosophy, even at a very early age; and is not
subject to fits of hysterical or passionate crying, brought on by much
jolting or trotting, or by the wearisome process of pinning, buttoning,
tying of strings, and thrusting of arms into tight sleeves.

The Japanese baby's dress, though not as pretty as that of our babies,
is in many ways much more sensible. It consists of as many wide-sleeved,
straight, silk, cotton, or flannel garments as the season of the year
may require,--all cut after nearly the same pattern, and that pattern
the same in shape as the grown-up _kimono_. These garments are fitted,
one inside of the other, before they are put on; then they are laid down
on the floor and the baby is laid into them; a soft belt, attached to
the outer garment or dress, is tied around the waist, and the baby is
dressed without a shriek or a wail, as simply and easily as possible.
The baby's dresses, like those of our babies, are made long enough to
cover the little bare feet; and the sleeves cover the hands as well, so
preventing the unmerciful scratching that most babies give to their
faces, as well as keeping the hands warm and dry.

Babies of the lower classes, within a few weeks after birth, are carried
about tied upon the back of some member of the family, frequently an
older sister or brother, who is sometimes not more than five or six
years old. The poorer the family, the earlier is the young baby thus put
on some one's back, and one frequently sees babies not more than a month
old, with bobbing heads and blinking eyes, tied by long bands of cloth
to the backs of older brothers or sisters, and living in the streets in
all weathers. When it is cold, the sister's _haori_, or coat, serves as
an extra covering for the baby as well; and when the sun is hot, the
sister's parasol keeps off its rays from the bobbing bald head.[*8]
Living in public, as the Japanese babies do, they soon acquire an
intelligent, interested look, and seem to enjoy the games of the elder
children, upon whose backs they are carried, as much as the players
themselves. Babies of the middle classes do not live in public in this
way, but ride about upon the backs of their nurses until they are old
enough to toddle by themselves, and they are not so often seen in the
streets; as few but the poorest Japanese, even in the large cities, are
unable to have a pleasant bit of garden in which the children can play
and take the air. The children of the richest families, the nobility,
and the imperial family, are never carried about in this way. The young
child is borne in the arms of an attendant, within doors and without;
but as this requires the care of some one constantly, and prevents the
nurse from doing anything but care for the child, only the richest can
afford this luxury. With the baby tied to her back, a woman is able to
care for a child, and yet go on with her household labors, and baby
watches over mother's or nurse's shoulder, between naps taken at all
hours, the processes of drawing water, washing and cooking rice, and all
the varied work of the house. Imperial babies are held in the arms of
some one night and day, from the moment of birth until they have learned
to walk, a custom which seems to render the lot of the high-born infant
less comfortable in some ways than that of the plebeian child.

The flexibility of the knees, which is required for comfort in the
Japanese method of sitting, is gained in very early youth by the habit
of setting a baby down with its knees bent under it, instead of with its
legs out straight before it, as seems to us the natural way. To the
Japanese, the normal way for a baby to sit is with its knees bent under
it, and so, at a very early age, the muscles and tendons of the knees
are accustomed to what seems to us a most unnatural and uncomfortable

[3] That the position of the Japanese in sitting is really unnatural and
unhygienic, is shown by recent measurements taken by the surgeons of the
Japanese army. These measurements prove that the small stature of the
Japanese is due largely to the shortness of the lower limbs, which are
out of proportion to the rest of the body. The sitting from early
childhood upon the legs bent at the knee, arrests the development of
that part of the body, and produces an actual deformity in the whole
nation. This deformity is less noticeable among the peasants, who stand
and walk so much as to secure proper development of the legs; but among
merchants, literary men, and others of sedentary habits, it is most
plainly to be seen. The introduction of chairs and tables, as a
necessary adjunct of Japanese home life, would doubtless in time alter
the physique of the Japanese as a people.

Among the lower classes, where there are few bathing facilities in the
houses, babies of a few weeks old are often taken to the public bath
house and put into the hot bath. These Japanese baths are usually heated
to a temperature of a hundred to a hundred and twenty Fahrenheit,--a
temperature that most foreigners visiting Japan find almost unbearable.
To a baby's delicate skin, the first bath or two is usually a severe
trial, but it soon becomes accustomed to the high temperature, and takes
its bath, as it does everything else, placidly and in public. Born into
a country where cow's milk is never used, the Japanese baby is wholly
dependent upon its mother for milk,[4] and is not weaned entirely until
it reaches the age of three or four years, and is able to live upon the
ordinary food of the class to which it belongs. There is no intermediate
stage of bread and milk, oatmeal and milk, gruel, or pap of some kind;
for the all-important factor--milk--is absent from the bill of fare, in
a land where there is neither "milk for babes" nor "strong meat for them
that are full of age."

[4] Sometimes, in the old days, rice water was given to babies instead
of milk, but it was nearly impossible to bring up a baby on this alone.
Now both fresh and condensed milk are used, where the mother's milk is
insufficient, but only in those parts of Japan where the foreign
influence is felt.[*11]

In consequence, partly, of the lack of proper nourishment after the
child is too old to live wholly upon its mother's milk, and partly,
perhaps, because of the poor food that the mothers, even of the higher
classes, live upon, many babies in Japan are afflicted with disagreeable
skin troubles, especially of the scalp and face,--troubles which usually
disappear as soon as the child becomes accustomed to the regular food of
the adult. Another consequence, as I imagine, of the lack of proper
food at the teething period, is the early loss of the child's first
teeth, which usually turn black and decay some time before the second
teeth begin to show themselves. With the exception of these two
troubles, Japanese babies seem healthy, hearty, and happy to an
extraordinary degree, and show that most of the conditions of their
lives are wholesome. The constant out-of-door life and the healthful
dress serve to make up in considerable measure for the poor food, and
the Japanese baby, though small after the manner of the race, is usually
plump, and of firm, hard flesh. One striking characteristic of the
Japanese baby is, that at a very early age it learns to cling like a
kitten to the back of whoever carries it, so that it is really difficult
to drop it through carelessness, for the baby looks out for its own
safety like a young monkey. The straps that tie it to the back are
sufficient for safety; but the baby, from the age of one month, is
dependent upon its own exertions to secure a comfortable position, and
it soon learns to ride its bearer with considerable skill, instead of
being merely a bundle tied to the shoulders. Any one who has ever
handled a Japanese baby can testify to the amount of intelligence shown
in this direction at a very early age; and this clinging with arms and
legs is, perhaps, a valuable part of the training which gives to the
whole nation the peculiar quickness of motion and hardness of muscle
that characterize them from childhood. It is the agility and muscular
quality that belong to wild animals, that we see something of in the
Indian, but to a more marked degree in the Japanese, especially of the
lower classes.

The Japanese baby's first lessons in walking are taken under favorable
circumstances. With feet comfortably shod in the soft _tabi_, or
mitten-like sock, babies can tumble about as they like, with no bump nor
bruise, upon the soft matted floors of the dwelling houses. There is no
furniture to fall against, and nothing about the room to render falling
a thing to be feared. After learning the art of walking in the house,
the baby's first attempts out of doors are hampered by the _zori_ or
_géta_,--a light straw sandal or small wooden clog attached to the foot
by a strap passing between the toes. At the very beginning the sandal
or clog is tied to the baby's foot by bits of string fastened around the
ankle, but this provision for security is soon discarded, and the baby
patters along like the grown people, holding on the _géta_ by the strap
passing between the toes. This somewhat cumbersome and inconvenient foot
gear must cause many falls at first, but baby's experience in the art of
balancing upon people's backs now aids in this new art of balancing upon
the little wooden clogs. Babies of two or three trot about quite
comfortably in _géta_ that seem to give most insecure footing, and older
children run, jump, hop on one foot, and play all manner of active games
upon heavy clogs that would wrench our ankles and toes out of all
possibility of usefulness. This foot gear, while producing an awkward,
shuffling gait, has certain advantages over our own, especially for
children whose feet are growing rapidly. The _géta_, even if outgrown,
can never cramp the toes nor compress the ankles. If the foot is too
long for the clog the heel laps over behind, but the toes do not suffer,
and the use of the _géta_ strengthens the ankles by affording no
artificial aid or support, and giving to all the muscles of foot and
leg free play, with the foot in a natural position. The toes of the
Japanese retain their prehensile qualities to a surprising degree, and
are used, not only for grasping the foot gear, but among mechanics
almost like two supplementary hands, to aid in holding the thing worked
upon. Each toe knows its work and does it, and they are not reduced to
the dull uniformity of motion that characterizes the toes of a
leather-shod nation.

The distinction between the dress of the boy and the girl, that one
notices from childhood, begins in babyhood. A very young baby wears red
and yellow, but soon the boy is dressed in sober colors,--blues, grays,
greens, and browns; while the little girl still wears the most gorgeous
of colors and the largest of patterns in her garments, red being the
predominant hue. The sex, even of a young baby, may be distinguished by
the color of its clothing. White, the garb of mourning in Japan, is
never used for children, but the minutest babies are dressed in
bright-colored garments, and of the same materials--wadded cotton, silk,
or crêpe--as those worn by adults of their social grade. As these
dresses are not as easily washed as our own cambric and flannel baby
clothes, there is a loss among the poorer classes in the matter of
cleanliness; and the gorgeous soiled gowns are not as attractive as the
more washable white garments in which our babies are dressed. For model
clothing for a baby, I would suggest a combination of the Japanese style
with the foreign, easily washed materials,--a combination that I have
seen used in their own families by Japanese ladies educated abroad, and
one in which the objections to the Japanese style of dress are entirely

The Japanese baby begins to practice the accomplishment of talking at a
very early age, for its native language is singularly happy in easy
expressions for children; and little babies will be heard chattering
away in soft, easily spoken words long before they are able to venture
alone from their perches on their mothers' or nurses' backs. A few
simple words express much, and cover all wants. _Iya_ expresses
discontent or dislike of any kind, and is also used for "no"; _mam ma_
means food; _bé bé_ is the dress; _ta ta_ is the sock, or house shoe,
etc. We find many of the same sounds as in the baby language of
English, with meanings totally different. The baby is not troubled with
difficult grammatical changes, for the Japanese language has few
inflections; and it is too young to be puzzled with the intricacies of
the various expressions denoting different degrees of politeness, which
are the snare and the despair of the foreigner studying Japanese.

As our little girl emerges from babyhood she finds the life opening
before her a bright and happy one, but one hedged about closely by the
proprieties, and one in which, from babyhood to old age, she must expect
to be always under the control of one of the stronger sex. Her position
will be an honorable and respected one only as she learns in her youth
the lesson of cheerful obedience, of pleasing manners, and of personal
cleanliness and neatness. Her duties must be always either within the
house, or, if she belongs to the peasant class, on the farm. There is no
career or vocation open to her: she must be dependent always upon either
father, husband, or son, and her greatest happiness is to be gained, not
by cultivation of the intellect, but by the early acquisition of the
self-control which is expected of all Japanese women to an even greater
degree than of the men. This self-control must consist, not simply in
the concealment of all the outward signs of any disagreeable
emotion,--whether of grief, anger, or pain,--but in the assumption of a
cheerful smile and agreeable manner under even the most distressing of
circumstances. The duty of self-restraint is taught to the little girls
of the family from the tenderest years; it is their great moral lesson,
and is expatiated upon at all times by their elders. The little girl
must sink herself entirely, must give up always to others, must never
show emotions except such as will be pleasing to those about her: this
is the secret of true politeness, and must be mastered if the woman
wishes to be well thought of and to lead a happy life. The effect of
this teaching is seen in the attractive but dignified manners of the
Japanese women, and even of the very little girls. They are not forward
nor pushing, neither are they awkwardly bashful; there is no
self-consciousness, neither is there any lack of _savoir faire_; a
childlike simplicity is united with a womanly consideration for the
comfort of those around them. A Japanese child seems to be the product
of a more perfect civilization than our own, for it comes into the world
with little of the savagery and barbarian bad manners that distinguish
children in this country, and the first ten or fifteen years of its life
do not seem to be passed in one long struggle to acquire a coating of
good manners that will help to render it less obnoxious in polite
society. How much of the politeness of the Japanese is the result of
training, and how much is inherited from generations of civilized
ancestors, it is difficult to tell; but my impression is, that babies
are born into the world with a good start in the matter of manners, and
that the uniformly gentle and courteous treatment that they receive from
those about them, together with the continual verbal teaching of the
principle of self-restraint and thoughtfulness of others, produce with
very little difficulty the universally attractive manners of the people.
One curious thing in a Japanese household is to see the formalities that
pass between brothers and sisters, and the respect paid to age by every
member of the family. The grandfather and grandmother come first of all
in everything,--no one at table must be helped before them in any case;
after them come the father and mother; and lastly, the children
according to their ages. A younger sister must always wait for the elder
and pay her due respect, even in the matter of walking into the room
before her. The wishes and convenience of the elder, rather than of the
younger, are to be consulted in everything, and this lesson must be
learned early by children. The difference in years may be slight, but
the elder-born has the first right in all cases.

Our little girl's place in the family is a pleasant one: she is the pet
and plaything of father and elder brothers, and she is never saluted by
any one in the family, except her parents, without the title of respect
due to her position. If she is the eldest daughter, to the servants she
is _O Jō Sama_, literally, young lady; to her own brothers and sisters,
_Né San_, elder sister. Should she be one of the younger ones, her given
name, preceded by the honorific _O_ and followed by _San_, meaning Miss,
will be the name by which she will be called by younger brothers and
sisters, and by the servants. As she passes from babyhood to girlhood,
and from girlhood to womanhood, she is the object of much love and care
and solicitude; but she does not grow up irresponsible or untrained to
meet the duties which womanhood will surely bring to her. She must learn
all the duties that fall upon the wife and mother of a Japanese
household, as well as obtain the instruction in books and mathematics
that is coming to be more and more a necessity for the women of Japan.
She must take a certain responsibility in the household; must see that
tea is made for the guests who may be received by her parents,--in all
but the families of highest rank, must serve it herself. Indeed, it is
quite the custom in families of the higher classes, should a guest, whom
it is desired to receive with especial honor, dine at the house, to
serve the meal, not with the family, but separately for the father and
his visitor; and it is the duty of the wife or daughter, oftener the
latter, to wait on them. This is in honor of the guest, not on account
of the lack of servants, for there may be any number of them within
call, or even in the back part of the room, ready to receive from the
hands of the young girl what she has removed. She must, therefore, know
the proper etiquette of the table, how to serve carefully and neatly,
and, above all, have the skill to ply the _saké_ bottle, so that the
house may keep up its reputation for hospitality. Should guests arrive
in the absence of her parents, she must receive and entertain them until
the master or mistress of the house returns. She also feels a certain
care about the behavior of the younger members of the family, especially
in the absence of the parents. In these various ways she is trained for
taking upon herself the cares of a household when the time comes. In all
but the very wealthiest and most aristocratic families, the daughters of
the house do a large part of the simple housework. In a house with no
furniture, no carpets, no bric-à-brac, no mirrors, picture frames or
glasses to be cared for, no stoves or furnaces, no windows to wash, a
large part of the cooking to be done outside, and no latest styles to be
imitated in clothing, the amount of work to be done by women is
considerably diminished, but still there remains enough to take a good
deal of time. Every morning there are the beds to be rolled up and
stored away in the closet, the mosquito nets to be taken down, the rooms
to be swept, dusted, and aired before breakfast. Besides this, there is
the washing and polishing of the _engawa_, or piazza, which runs around
the outside of a Japanese house between the _shoji_, or paper screens
that serve as windows, and the _amado_, or sliding shutters, that are
closed only at night, or during heavy, driving rains. Breakfast is to be
cooked and served, dishes to be washed (in cold water); and then perhaps
there is marketing to be done, either at shops outside or from the
vendors of fish and vegetables who bring their huge baskets of
provisions to the door; but after these duties are performed, it is
possible to sit down quietly to the day's work of sewing, studying, or
whatever else may suit the taste or necessities of the housewife. Of
sewing there is always a good deal to be done, for many Japanese dresses
must be taken to pieces whenever they are washed, and are turned, dyed,
and made over again and again, so long as there is a shred of the
original material left to work upon. There is washing, too, to be done,
although neither with hot water nor soap; and in the place of ironing,
the cotton garments, which are usually washed without ripping, must be
hung up on a bamboo pole passed through the armholes, and pulled smooth
and straight before they dry; and the silk, always ripped into breadths
before washing, must be smoothed while wet upon a board which is set in
the sun until the silk is dry.

Then there are the every day dishes which our Japanese maiden must learn
to prepare. The proper boiling of rice is in itself a study. The
construction of the various soups which form the staple in the Japanese
bill of fare; the preparation of _mochi_, a kind of rice dough, which is
prepared at the New Year, or to send to friends on various festival
occasions: these and many other branches of the culinary art must be
mastered before the young girl is prepared to assume the cares of
married life.

But though the little girl's life is not without its duties and
responsibilities, it is also not at all lacking in simple and innocent
pleasures.[*24] First among the annual festivals, and bringing with it
much mirth and frolic, comes the Feast of the New Year. At this time
father, mother, and all older members of the family lay aside their work
and their dignity, and join in the fun and sports that are
characteristic of this season. Worries and anxieties are set aside with
the close of the year, and the first beams of the New Year's sun bring
in a season of unlimited joy for the children. For about one week the
festival lasts, and the festal spirit remains through the whole month,
prompting to fun and amusements of all kinds. From early morning until
bedtime the children wear their prettiest clothes, in which they play
without rebuke. Guests come and go, bringing congratulations to the
family, and often gifts for all. The children's stock of toys is thus
greatly increased, and the house overflows with the good things of the
season, of which _mochi_, or cake made from rice dough, prepared always
especially for this time, is one of the most important articles.

The children are taken with their parents to make New Year's visits to
their friends and to offer them congratulations, and much they enjoy
this, as, dressed in their best, they ride from house to house in

[5] _Jinrikisha_, or _kuruma_, a small, light carriage, usually with a
broad top, which is drawn by a man. The _jinrikisha_ is the commonest of
all vehicles now in use in Japan. _Jinrikisha_-man and _kurumaya_ are
terms commonly used for the runner who draws the carriage.

And then, during the long, happy evenings, the whole family, including
even the old grandfather and grandmother, join in merry games; the
servants, too, are invited to join the family party, and, without
seeming forward or out of place, enter into the games with zest. One of
the favorite games is "_Hyaku nin isshu_," literally "The poems of a
hundred poets." It consists of two hundred cards, on each of which is
printed either the first or last half of one of the hundred famous
Japanese poems which give the name to the game. The poems are well known
to all Japanese, of whatever sort or condition. All Japanese poems are
short, containing only thirty-one syllables, and have a natural division
into two parts. The one hundred cards containing the latter halves of
the poems are dealt and laid out in rows, face upward, before the
players. One person is appointed reader. To him are given the remaining
hundred cards, and he reads the beginnings of the poems in whatever
order they come from the shuffled pack. Skill in the game consists in
remembering quickly the line following the one read, and rapidly finding
the card on which it is written. Especially does the player watch his
own cards, and if he finds there the end of the poem, the beginning of
which has just been read, he must pick it up before any one sees it and
lay it aside. If some one else spies the card first, he seizes it and
gives to the careless player several cards from his own hand. Whoever
first disposes of all his cards is the winner. The players usually
arrange themselves in two lines down the middle of the room, and the two
sides play against each other, the game not being ended until either one
side or the other has disposed of all its cards. The game requires great
quickness of thought and of motion, and is invaluable in giving to all
young people an education in the classical poetry of their own nation,
as well as being a source of great merriment and jollity among young and

Scattered throughout the year are various flower festivals, when, often
with her whole family, our little girl visits the famous gardens where
the plum, the cherry, the chrysanthemum, the iris, or the azalea attain
their greatest loveliness, and spends the day out of doors in æsthetic
enjoyment of the beauties of nature supplemented by art. And then there
is the feast most loved in the whole year, the Feast of Dolls, when on
the third day of the third month the great fire-proof storehouse gives
forth its treasures of dolls,--in an old family, many of them hundreds
of years old,--and for three days, with all their belongings of tiny
furnishings in silver, lacquer, and porcelain, they reign supreme,
arranged on red-covered shelves in the finest room of the house. Most
prominent among the dolls are the effigies of the Emperor and Empress in
antique court costume, seated in dignified calm, each on a lacquered
dais. Near them are the figures of the five court musicians in their
robes of office, each with his instrument. Beside these dolls, which are
always present and form the central figures at the feast, numerous
others, more plebeian, but more lovable, find places on the lower
shelves, and the array of dolls' furnishings which is brought out on
these occasions is something marvelous. It was my privilege to be
present at the Feast of Dolls in the house of one of the _Tokugawa
daimiōs_, a house in which the old forms and ceremonies were strictly
observed, and over which the wave of foreign innovation had passed so
slightly that even the calendar still remained unchanged, and the feast
took place upon the third day of the third month of the old Japanese
year, instead of on the third day of March, which is the usual time for
it now. At this house, where the dolls had been accumulating for
hundreds of years, five or six broad, red-covered shelves, perhaps
twenty feet long or more, were completely filled with them and with
their belongings. The Emperor and Empress appeared again and again, as
well as the five court musicians, and the tiny furnishings and utensils
were wonderfully costly and beautiful. Before each Emperor and Empress
was set an elegant lacquered table service,--tray, bowls, cups, _saké_
pots, rice buckets, etc., all complete; and in each utensil was placed
the appropriate variety of food. The _saké_ used on this occasion is a
sweet, white liquor, brewed especially for this feast, as different from
the ordinary _saké_ as sweet cider is from the hard cider upon which a
man may drink himself into a state of intoxication.[*30] Besides the
table service, everything that an imperial doll can be expected to need
or desire is placed upon the shelves. Lacquered _norimono_, or
palanquins; lacquered bullock carts, drawn by bow-legged black
bulls,--these were the conveyances of the great in Old Japan, and these,
in minute reproductions, are placed upon the red-covered shelves. Tiny
silver and brass _hibachi_, or fire boxes, are there, with their
accompanying tongs and charcoal baskets,--whole kitchens, with
everything required for cooking the finest of Japanese feasts, as finely
made as if for actual use; all the necessary toilet apparatus,--combs,
mirrors, utensils for blackening the teeth, for shaving the eyebrows,
for reddening the lips and whitening the face,--all these things are
there to delight the souls of all the little girls who may have the
opportunity to behold them. For three days the imperial effigies are
served sumptuously at each meal, and the little girls of the family
take pleasure in serving their imperial majesties; but when the feast
ends, the dolls and their belongings are packed away in their boxes, and
lodged in the fire-proof warehouse for another year.

The Tokugawa collection, of which I have spoken, is remarkably full and
costly, for it has been making for hundreds of years in one of the
younger branches of a family which for two and a half centuries was
possessed of almost imperial power, and lived in more than imperial
luxury; but there are few households so poor that they do not from year
to year accumulate a little store of toys wherewith to celebrate the
feast, and, whether the toys are many or few, the feast is the event of
the year in the lives of the little girls of Japan.[*31]

Beside the regular feasts at stated seasons, our little girl has a great
variety of toys and games, some belonging to particular seasons, some
played at any time during the year. At the New Year the popular
out-of-door games are battledoor and shuttlecock, and ball. There is no
prettier sight, to my mind, than a group of little girls in their
many-colored wide-sleeved dresses playing with battledoor or ball. The
graceful, rhythmic motion of their bodies, the bright upturned eyes, the
laughing faces, are set off to perfection by the coloring of their
flowing drapery; and their agility on their high, lacquered clogs is a
constant source of wonder and admiration to any one who has ever made an
effort to walk upon the clumsy things. There are dolls, too, that are
not relegated to the storehouse when the Feast of Dolls is ended, but
who are the joy and comfort of their little mothers during the whole
year; and at every _kwan-ko-ba_, or bazaar, an endless variety of games,
puzzles, pictures to be cut out and glued together, and amusements of
all kinds, may be purchased at extremely low rates. There is no dearth
of games for our little girl, and many pleasant hours are spent in the
household sitting room with games, or conundrums, or stories, or the
simple girlish chatter that elicits constant laughter from sheer
youthful merriment.

As for fairy tales, so dear to the hearts of children in every country,
the Japanese child has her full share. Often she listens, half asleep,
while cuddling under the warm quilted cover of the _kotatsu_,[6] in the
cold winter evenings, to the drowsy voice of the old grandmother or
nurse, who carries her away on the wings of imagination to the wonderful
palace of the sea gods, or to the haunts of the terrible _oni_, monsters
with red, distorted faces and fearful horns. Momotaro, the Peach Boy,
with his wonderful feats in the conquest of the _oni_, is her hero,
until he is supplanted by the more real ones of Japanese history.

[6] _Kotatsu_, a charcoal fire in a brazier or a small fireplace in the
floor, over which a wooden frame is set and the whole covered by a
quilt. The family sit about it in cold weather with the quilt drawn up
over the feet and knees.

There are occasional all-day visits to the theatre, too, where, seated
on the floor in a box, railed off from those adjoining, our little girl,
in company with her mother and sisters, enjoys, though with paroxysms of
horror and fear, the heroic historical plays which are now almost all
that is left of the heroic old Japan. Here she catches the spirit of
passionate loyalty that belonged to those days, forms her ideals of what
a noble Japanese woman should be willing to do for parents or husband,
and comes away taught, as she could be by no other teaching, what the
spirit was that animated her ancestors,--what spirit must animate her,
should she wish to be a worthy descendant of the women of old.

Among these surroundings, with these duties and amusements, our little
girl grows to womanhood. The unconscious and beautiful spirit of her
childhood is not driven away at the dawn of womanhood by thoughts of
beaux, of coming out in society, of a brief career of flirtation and
conquest, and at the end as fine a marriage, either for love or money,
as her imagination can picture. She takes no thought for these things
herself, and her intercourse with young men, though free and
unconstrained, has about it no grain of flirtation or romantic interest.
When the time comes for her to marry, her father will have her meet some
eligible young man, and both she and the young man will know, when they
are brought together, what is the end in view, and will make up their
minds about the matter. But until that time comes, the modest Japanese
maiden carries on no flirtations, thinks little of men except as higher
beings to be deferred to and waited on, and preserves the childlike
innocence of manner, combined with a serene dignity under all
circumstances, that is so noticeable a trait in the Japanese woman from
childhood to old age.

The Japanese woman is, under this discipline, a finished product at the
age of sixteen or eighteen. She is pure, sweet, and amiable, with great
power of self-control, and a knowledge of what to do upon all occasions.
The higher part of her nature is little developed; no great religious
truths have lifted her soul above the world into a clearer and higher
atmosphere; but as far as she goes, in regard to all the little things
of daily life, she is bright, industrious, sweet-tempered, and
attractive, and prepared to do well her duty, when that duty comes to
her, as wife and mother and mistress of a household. The highest
principle upon which she is taught to act is obedience, even to the
point of violating all her finest feminine instincts, at the command of
father or husband; and acting under that principle, she is capable of an
entire self-abnegation such as few women of any race can achieve.

With the close of her childhood, the happiest period in the life of a
Japanese woman closes. The discipline that she has received so far,
repressive and constant as it has often been, has been from kind and
loving parents. She has freedom, to a certain degree, such as is unknown
to any other country in Asia. In the home she is truly loved, often the
pet and plaything of the household, though not receiving the caresses
and words of endearment that children in America expect as a right, for
love in Japan is undemonstrative.[7] But just at the time when her mind
broadens, and the desire for knowledge and self-improvement develops,
the restraints and checks upon her become more severe. Her sphere seems
to grow narrower, difficulties one by one increase, and the young girl,
who sees life before her as something broad and expansive, who looks to
the future with expectant joy, may become, in a few years, the weary,
disheartened woman.

[7] Kisses are unknown, and regarded by conservative Japanese as an
animal and disgusting way of expressing affection.



So far we have spoken only of the domestic training of a Japanese girl.
That part of her education that she gains through teachers and schools
must be the subject of a separate chapter. Japan differs from most
Oriental countries in the fact that her women are considered worthy of a
certain amount of the culture that comes from the study of books; and
although, until recently, schools for girls were unknown in the empire,
nevertheless every woman, except those of the lower classes, received
instruction in the ordinary written language, while some were well
versed in the Chinese classics and the poetic art. These, with some
musical accomplishment, an acquaintance with etiquette and the arts of
arranging flowers, of making the ceremonial tea, and in many cases not
only of writing a beautiful hand, but of flower-painting as well, in the
old days made up the whole of an ordinary woman's education. Among the
lower classes, especially the merchant class, instruction was sometimes
given in the various pantomimic dances which one sees most frequently
presented by professional dancing girls. The art of dancing is not
usually practiced by women of the higher classes, but among the
daughters of the merchants special dances were learned for exhibition at
home, or even at the _matsuri_ or religious festival, and their
performance was for the amusement of spectators, and not especially for
the pleasure of the dancers themselves. These dances are modest and
graceful, but from the fact that they are always learned for
entertaining an audience, however small and select, and are most
frequently performed by professional dancers of questionable character,
the more refined and higher class Japanese do not care especially to
have their daughters learn them.

In the old days, little girls were not sent to school, but, going to the
house of a private teacher, received the necessary instruction in
reading, and writing. The writing and reading at the beginning, are
taught simultaneously, the teacher writing a letter upon a sheet of
paper and telling the scholar its name, and the scholar writing it over
and over until, by the time she has acquired the necessary skill in
writing it, both name and form are indelibly imprinted upon her memory.
To write, with a brush dipped in India ink, upon soft paper, the hand
entirely without support, is an art that seldom can be acquired by a
grown person, but when learned in childhood it gives great deftness in
whatever other art may be subsequently studied. This is perhaps the
reason why the Japanese value a good handwriting more highly than any
other accomplishment, for it denotes a manual dexterity that is the
secret of success in all the arts, and one who writes the Chinese
characters well and rapidly can quickly learn to do anything else with
the fingers.

The fault that one finds with the Japanese system--a fault that lies
deeper than the mere methods of teaching, and has its root in the
ideographic character of the written language--is that, while it
cultivates the memory and powers of observation to a remarkable extent,
and while it gives great skill in the use of the fingers, it affords
little opportunity for the development of the reasoning powers.[8] The
years of study that are required for mastering the written language, so
as to be able to grasp the thoughts already given to the world, leave
comparatively little time for the conducting of any continuous thought
on one's own account, and so we find in Japanese scholars--whether boys
or girls--quickness of apprehension, retentive memories, industry and
method in their study of their lessons, but not much originality of
thought. This result comes, I believe, from the nature of the written
language and the difficulties that attend the mastery of it; as a
consequence of which, an educated man or woman becomes simply a student
of other men's thoughts and sayings about things instead of being a
student of the things themselves.

[8] The Japanese written language is a strange combination of Chinese
and Japanese, to read which a knowledge of the Chinese characters is
necessary. Chinese literature written in the Chinese ideographs, which
of course give no clue to the sound, are read by Japanese with the
Japanese rendering of the words, and the Japanese order of words in the
sentence. When there have not been exact equivalent Japanese words, a
Chinese term has come into use, so that much corrupt Chinese is now well
engrafted into the Japanese language, both written and spoken. In the
forming of new words and technical terms Chinese words are used, as the
Greek and Latin are here. There is probably no similarity in the origin
of the two languages, but the Japanese borrowed from the Chinese about
the sixth century A. D. their cleverly planned but most complex method
of expressing thought in writing. The introduction of the Chinese
literature has done much for Japan, and to master this language is one
of the essentials in the education of every boy. At least seven or eight
thousand characters must be learned for daily use, and there are several
different styles of writing each of them. For a scholar, twice as many,
or even more, must be mastered in order to read the various works in
that rich literature.

The Japanese language contains a syllabary of forty-eight letters, and
in books and newspapers for the common people is printed, by the side of
the Chinese character, the rendering of it, in the letters of the
_kana_, or Japanese alphabet.[*40]

A Japanese woman is not expected to do much in the study of Chinese. She
will, of course, learn a few of the most common characters, such as are
used in letter-writing, and for the rest she will read by the help of
the _kana_.

Music in Japan is an accomplishment reserved almost entirely for women,
for priests, and for blind men. It seems to me quite fortunate that the
musical art is not more generally practiced, as Japanese music, as a
rule, is far from agreeable to the untrained ear of the outside
barbarian.[*41] The _koto_ is the pleasantest of the Japanese
instruments, but probably on account of its large size, which makes it
inconvenient to keep in a small Japanese house, it is used most among
the higher classes, from the _samurai_[9] upwards. The _koto_ is an
embryo piano, a horizontal sounding-board, some six feet long, upon
which are stretched strings supported by ivory bridges. It is played by
means of ivory finger-tips fitted to the thumb, forefinger, and middle
finger of the right hand, and gives forth agreeable sounds, not unlike
those of the harp. The player sits before the _koto_ on knees and heels,
in the ordinary Japanese attitude, and her motions are very graceful and
pretty as she touches the strings, often supplementing the strains of
the instrument with her voice. The teaching of this instrument and of
the _samisen_, or Japanese guitar, is almost entirely in the hands of
blind men, who in Japan support themselves by the two professions of
music and massage,--all the blind, who cannot learn the former, becoming
adepts in the latter profession.

[9] The _samurai_ in the feudal times were the hereditary retainers of a
_daimiō_, or feudal lord. They formed the military and literary class.
For further information, see chap. viii., on _Samurai Women_.

The arrangement of flowers is taught as a fine art, and much time may
be spent in learning how, by clipping, bending, and fixing in its place
in the vase, each spray and twig may be made to look as if actually
growing, for flower arranging is not merely to show the flower itself,
but includes the proper arrangement of the branches, twigs, and leaves
of plants. The flower plays only a small part, and is not used in
decoration, except on the branch and stem as it is in nature, and the
art consists in the preservation of the natural bend and growth when
fixed in the vase. In every case, each branch has certain curves, which
must be in harmony with the whole. Branches of pine, bamboo, and the
flowering plum are much used.

Teachers spend much time in showing proper and improper combinations of
different flowers, as well as the arrangement of them. Many different
styles have come up, originated by the famous teachers who have founded
various schools of the art,--an art which is unique and exceedingly
popular, requiring artistic talent and a cultivated eye. One often sees,
on going into the guest room of a Japanese house, a vase containing
gracefully arranged flowers set in the _tokonoma_, or raised alcove of
the room, under the solitary _kakémono_[10] that forms the chief
ornament of the apartment. As these two things, the vase of flowers and
the hanging scroll, are the only adornments, it is more necessary that
the flowers should be carefully arranged, than in our crowded rooms,
where a vase of flowers may easily escape the eye, perplexed by the
multitude of objects which surround it.

[10] _Kakémono_, a hanging scroll, upon which a picture is painted, or
some poem or sentiment written.

The ceremonial tea must not be confounded with the ordinary serving of
tea for refreshment. The proper making, and serving, and drinking of the
ceremonial tea is the most formal of social observances, each step in
which is prescribed by a rigid code of etiquette. The tea, instead of
being the whole leaf, such as is used for ordinary occasions, is a fine,
green powder. The infusion is made, not in a small pot, from which it is
poured out into cups, but in a bowl, into which the hot water is poured
from a dipper on to the powdered tea. The mixture is stirred with a
bamboo whisk until it foams, then handed with much ceremony to the
guest, who takes it with equal ceremony and drinks it from the bowl,
emptying the receptacle at three gulps. Should there be a number of
guests, tea is made for each in turn, in the order of their rank, in the
same bowl. For this ceremonial tea, a special set of utensils is used,
all of antique and severely simple style. The charcoal used for heating
the water is of a peculiar variety; and the room in which the tea is
made and served is built for that special purpose, and kept sacred for
that use. This art, which is often part of the education of women of the
higher classes, is taught by regular teachers, often by gentlewomen who
have fallen into distressed circumstances.[*45] I remember with great
vividness a visit paid to an old lady living near a provincial city of
Japan, who had for years supported herself by giving lessons in this
politest of arts. Her little house, of the daintiest and neatest type,
seemed filled to overflowing by three foreigners, whom she received with
the courtliest of welcomes. At the request of my friend, an American
lady engaged in missionary work in that part of the country, she gave us
a lesson in the etiquette of the tea ceremony. Every motion, from the
bringing in and arranging of the utensils to the final rinsing and
wiping of the tea bowl, was according to rules strictly laid down, and
the whole ceremony had more the solemnity of a religious ritual than the
lightness and gayety of a social occasion.

Etiquette of all kinds is not left in Japan to chance, to be learned by
observation and imitation of any model that may present itself, but is
taught regularly by teachers who make a specialty of it. Everything in
the daily life has its rules, and the etiquette teacher has them all at
her fingers' ends. There have been several famous teachers of etiquette,
and they have formed systems which differ in minor points, while
agreeing in the principal rules. The etiquette of bowing, the position
of the body, the arms, and the head while saluting, the methods of
shutting and opening the door, rising and sitting down on the floor, the
manner of serving a meal, or tea, are all, with the minutest details,
taught to the young girls, who, I imagine, find it rather irksome. I
know two young girls of new Japan who find nothing so wearisome as
their etiquette lesson, and would gladly be excused from it. I have
heard them, after their teacher had left, slyly make fun of her stiff
and formal manners. Such people as she will, I fear, soon belong only to
the past, though it still remains to be seen how much of European
manners will be engrafted on the old formalities of Japanese life. It
is, perhaps, because of this regular teaching in the ways of polite
society, that the Japanese girl seems never at a loss, even under
unusual circumstances, but bears herself with self-possession in places
where young girls in America would be embarrassed and awkward.

But the Japanese are rapidly finding out that this busy nineteenth
century gives little time for learning how to shut and open doors in the
politest manner, and indeed such things under the newly established
school system are now relegated entirely to the girls' schools, the boys
having no lessons in etiquette.

The method of teaching flower-painting is so interesting that I must
speak of it before I leave the subject of accomplishments. I have said
that the acquisition of skill in writing the Chinese characters was the
best possible preparation for skill in all other arts. This is
especially true of the art of painting, which is simply the next step,
after writing has been learned. The painting master, when he comes to
the house, brings no design as a model, but sits down on the floor
before the little desk, and on a sheet of paper paints with great
rapidity the design that he wishes the pupil to copy. It may be simply
two or three blades of grass upon which the pupil makes a beginning, but
she is expected to make her picture with exactly the same number of bold
strokes that the master puts into his. Again and again she blunders her
strokes on to a sheet of paper, until at last, when sheet after sheet
has been spoiled, she begins to see some semblance of the master's copy
in her own daub. She perseveres, making copy after copy, until she is
able from memory to put upon the paper at a moment's notice the three
blades of grass to her master's satisfaction. Only then can she go on to
a new copy, and only after many such designs have been committed to
memory, and the free, dashing stroke necessary for Japanese painting has
been acquired, is she allowed to undertake any copying from nature, or
original designing.[*49]

I have dwelt thus far only upon the entirely Japanese education that was
permitted to women under the old régime. That it was an effective and
refining system, all can testify who have made the acquaintance of any
of the charming Japanese ladies whose schooling was finished before
Commodore Perry disturbed the repose of old Japan. As I write, the image
comes before me of a sweet-faced, bright-eyed little gentlewoman with
whom it was my good fortune to become intimately acquainted during my
stay in Tōkyō. A widow, left penniless, with one child to support, she
earned the merest pittance by teaching sewing at one of the government
schools in Tōkyō; but in all the circumstances of her life, narrow and
busy as it needs must be, she proved herself a lady through and through.
Polite, cheerful, an intelligent and cultivated reader, a thrifty
housekeeper, a loving and careful mother, a true and helpful friend, her
memory is associated with many of my pleasantest hours in Japan, and she
is but one of the many who bear witness to the culture that might be
acquired by women in the old days.

But the Japan of old is not the Japan of to-day, and in the school
system now prevalent throughout the empire girls and boys are equally
provided for. First the schools established by the various missionary
societies, and then the government schools, offered to girls a broader
education than the old instruction in Chinese, in etiquette, and in
accomplishments. Now, every morning, the streets of the cities and
villages are alive with boys and girls clattering along, with their
books and lunch boxes in their hands, to the kindergarten, primary,
grammar, high, or normal school. Every rank in life, every grade in
learning, may find its proper place in the new school system, and the
girls eagerly grasp their opportunities, and show themselves apt and
willing students of the new learning offered to them.

By the new system, at its present stage of development, too much is
expected of the Japanese boy or girl. The work required would be a
burden to the quickest mind. The whole of the old education in Japanese
and Chinese literature and composition--an education requiring the best
years of a boy's life--is given, and grafted upon this, our
common-school and high-school studies of mathematics, geography,
history, and natural science. In addition to these, at all higher
schools, one foreign language is required, and often two, English
ranking first in the popular estimation. Many a headache do the poor,
hard-working students have over the puzzling English language, in which
they have to begin at the wrong end of the book and read across the page
from left to right, instead of from top to bottom, and from right to
left, as is natural to them. But in spite of its hard work, the new
school life is cheerful and healthful, and the children enjoy it. It
helps them to be really children, and, while they are young, to be merry
and playful, not dignified and formal little ladies at all times. Upon
the young girls, the influence of the schools is to make them more
independent, self-reliant, and stronger women. In the houses of the
higher classes, even now, much of the old-time system of repression is
still in force. Children are indeed "seen but not heard," and from the
time when they learn to walk they must learn to be polite and
dignified. At school, the more progressive feeling of the times
predominates among the authorities, and the children are encouraged to
unbend and enjoy themselves in games and frolics, as true children
should do. Much is done for the pleasure of the little ones, who often
enjoy school better than home, and declare that they do not like

But the young girl, who has finished this pleasant school life, with all
its advantages, is not as well fitted as under the old system for the
duties and trials of married life, unless under exceptional
circumstances, where the husband chosen has advanced ideas. To those
teaching the young girls of Japan to-day, the problem of how to educate
them aright is a deep one, and with each newly trained girl sent out go
many hopes, mingled with anxieties, in regard to the training she has
had as a preparation for the new life she is about to enter. The few,
the pioneers, will have to suffer for the happiness and good of the
many, for the problem of grafting the new on to the old is indeed a
difficult one, to be solved only after many experiments.

There are many difficulties which lie in the way of the new schools
that must be met, studied, and overcome. One of them is the one already
referred to, the problem of how best to combine the new and the old in
the school curriculum. That the old learning and literature, the old
politeness and sweetness of manner, must not be given up or made little
of, is evident to every right-minded student of the matter. That the
newer and broader culture, with its higher morality, its greater
development of the best powers of the mind, must play a large part in
the Japan of the future, there is not a shadow of doubt, and the women
must not be left behind in the onward movement of the nation. But how to
give to the young minds the best products of the thought of two such
distinct civilizations is a question that is as yet unanswered, and
cannot be satisfactorily settled until the effect of the new education
has begun to show itself in a generation or so of graduates from the new
schools. Another difficulty is in the matter of health. Most of the new
school-houses are fitted with seats and desks, such as are found in
American schools. Many of them are heated by stoves or furnaces. The
scholars in most cases wear the Japanese dress, which in winter is made
warm enough to be worn in rooms having no artificial heat. Put this warm
costume into an artificially heated room and the result is an
over-heating of the body, and a subsequent chill when the pupil goes,
with no extra covering, into the keen out-of-door air. From this cause
alone, arise many colds and lung troubles, which can be prevented when
more experience has shown how the costumes of the East and West can be
combined to suit the new conditions. Another part of the health problem
lies in the fact that in many cases the parents do not understand the
proper care of a growing girl, ambitious to excel in her studies.
Instead of the regular hours, healthful food, and gentle restraint that
a girl needs under those circumstances, our little Japanese maiden is
allowed to sit up to any hour of the night, or arise at any hour in the
morning, to prepare her lessons, is given food of most indigestible
quality at all hours of the day between her regular meals, and is
frequently urged to greater mental exertion than her delicate body can

Another difficulty, in fitting the new school system into the customs
of the people, lies in the early age at which marriages are contracted.
Before the girl has finished her school course, her parents begin to
wonder whether there is not danger of her being left on their hands
altogether, if they do not hand her over to the first eligible young man
who presents himself. Sometimes the girl makes a brave fight, and
remains in school until her course is finished; more often she succumbs
and is married off, bids a weeping farewell to her teachers and
schoolmates, and leaves the school, to become a wife at sixteen, a
mother at eighteen, and an old woman at thirty. In some cases, the
breaking down of a girl's health may be traced to threats on the part of
her parents that, if she does not take a certain rank in her studies,
she will be taken from school and married off.[*55]

These are difficulties that may be overcome when a generation has been
educated who can, as parents, avoid the mistakes that now endanger the
health of a Japanese school-girl. In the mean time, boarding schools,
that can attend to matters of health and hygiene among the girls,
would, if they could be conducted with the proper admixture of Eastern
and Western learning and manners, do a great deal toward educating that
generation. The missionary schools do much in this direction, but the
criticism of the Japanese upon the manners of the girls educated in
missionary schools is universally severe. To a foreigner who has lived
almost entirely among Japanese ladies of pure Japanese education, the
manners of the girls in these schools seem brusque and awkward; and
though they are many of them noble women and doing noble work, there is
room for hope that in the future of Japan the charm of manner which is
the distinguishing feature of the Japanese woman will not be lost by
contact with our Western shortness and roughness. A happy mean
undoubtedly can be reached; and when it is, the women of new Japan will
be able to bear a not unfavorable comparison with the women of the old



When the Japanese maiden arrives at the age of sixteen, or thereabouts,
she is expected as a matter of course to marry. She is usually allowed
her choice in regard to whether she will or will not marry a certain
man, but she is expected to marry some one, and not to take too much
time in making up her mind. The alternative of perpetual spinsterhood is
never considered, either by herself or her parents. Marriage is as much
a matter of course in a woman's life as death, and is no more to be
avoided. This being the case, our young woman has only as much liberty
of choice accorded to her as is likely to provide against a great amount
of unhappiness in her married life. If she positively objects to the man
who is proposed to her, she is seldom forced to marry him, but no more
cordial feeling than simple toleration is expected of her before

The courtship is somewhat after the following manner. A young man, who
finds himself in a position to marry, speaks to some married friend, and
asks him to be on the lookout for a beautiful[11] and accomplished
maiden, who would be willing to become his wife. The friend, acting
rather as advance agent, makes a canvass of all the young maidens of his
acquaintance, inquiring among his friends; and finally decides that
so-and-so (Miss Flower, let us say) will be a very good match for his
friend. Having arrived at this decision, he goes to Miss Flower's
parents and lays the case of his friend before them. Should they approve
of the suitor, a party is arranged at the house of some common friend,
where the young people may have a chance to meet each other and decide
each upon the other's merits. Should the young folks find no fault with
the match, presents are exchanged,[12] a formal betrothal is entered
into, and the marriage is hastened forward. All arrangements between the
contracting parties are made by go-betweens, or seconds, who hold
themselves responsible for the success of the marriage, and must be
concerned in the divorce proceedings, should divorce become desirable or

[11] The Japanese standard of female beauty differs in many respects
from our own, so that it is almost impossible for a foreigner visiting
Japan to comprehend the judgments of the Japanese in regard to the
beauty of their own women, and even more impossible for the untraveled
Japanese to discover the reasons for a foreigner's judgments upon either
Japanese or foreign beauties. To the Japanese, the ideal female face
must be long and narrow; the forehead high and narrow in the middle, but
widening and lowering at the sides, conforming to the outline of the
beloved Fuji, the mountain that Japanese art loves to picture. The hair
should be straight and glossy black, and absolutely smooth. Japanese
ladies who have the misfortune to have any wave or ripple in their hair,
as many of them do, are at as much pains to straighten it in the
dressing as American ladies are to simulate a natural curl, when Nature
has denied them that charm. The eyes should be long and narrow, slanting
upward at the outer corners; and the eyebrows should be delicate lines,
high above the eye itself. The distinctly aquiline nose should be low at
the bridge, the curve outward beginning much lower down than upon the
Caucasian face; and the eye-socket should not be outlined at all, either
by the brow, the cheek, or by the nose. It is this flatness of the face
about the eyes that gives the mildness of expression to all young people
of Mongolian type that is so noticeable a trait always in their
physiognomy. The mouth of an aristocratic Japanese lady must be small,
and the lips full and red; the neck, a conspicuous feature always when
the Japanese dress is worn, should be long and slender, and gracefully
curved. The complexion should be light,--a clear ivory-white, with
little color in the cheeks. The blooming country girl style of beauty is
not admired, and everything, even to color in the cheeks, must be
sacrificed to gain the delicacy that is the _sine qua non_ of the
Japanese beauty. The figure should be slender, the waist long, but not
especially small, and the hips narrow, to secure the best effect with
the Japanese dress. The head and shoulders should be carried slightly
forward, and the body should also be bent forward slightly at the waist,
to secure the most womanly and aristocratic carriage. In walking, the
step should be short and quick, with the toes turned in, and the foot
lifted so slightly that either clog or sandal will scuff with every
step. This is necessary for modesty, with the narrow skirt of the
Japanese dress.

Contrast with this type the fair, curling hair, the round blue eyes, the
rosy cheeks, the erect, slim-waisted, large-hipped figures of many
foreign beauties,--the rapid, long, clean-stepping walk, and the air of
almost masculine strength and independence, which belongs especially to
English and American women,--and one can see how the Japanese find
little that they recognize as beauty among them. Blue eyes, set into
deep sockets, and with the bridge of the nose rising as a barrier
between them, impart a fierce grotesqueness to the face, that the
untraveled Japanese seldom admire. The very babies will scream with
horror at first sight of a blue-eyed, light-haired foreigner, and it is
only after considerable familiarity with such persons that they can be
induced to show anything but the wildest fright in their presence.
Foreigners who have lived a great deal among the Japanese find their
standards unconsciously changing, and see, to their own surprise, that
their countrywomen look ungainly, fierce, aggressive, and awkward among
the small, mild, shrinking, and graceful Japanese ladies.

[12] The present from the groom is usually a piece of handsome silk,
used for the _obi_ or girdle. This takes the place of the conventional
engagement ring of Europe and America.[*60] From the family of the
bride, silk, such as is made up into men's dresses, is sent.

The marriage ceremony, which seems to be neither religious nor legal in
its nature,[*61a] takes place at the house of the groom, to which the
bride is carried, accompanied by her go-betweens, and, if she be of the
higher classes, by her own confidential maid, who will serve her as her
personal attendant in the new life in her husband's house. The trousseau
and household goods, which the bride is expected to bring with her, are
sent before.[*61b] The household goods required by custom as a part of
the outfit of every bride are as follows: A bureau; a low desk or table
for writing; a work-box; two of the lacquer trays or tables on which
meals are served, together with everything required for furnishing them,
even to the chopsticks; and two or more complete sets of handsome bed
furnishings. The trousseau will contain, if the bride be of a well-to-do
family, dresses for all seasons, and handsome sashes without number; for
the unchanging fashions of Japan, together with the durable quality of
the dress material, make it possible for a woman, at the time of her
marriage, to enter her husband's house with a supply of clothing that
may last her through her lifetime. The parents of the bride, in giving
up their daughter, as they do when she marries, show the estimation in
which they have held her by the beauty and completeness of the trousseau
with which they provide her. This is her very own; and in the event of a
divorce, she brings back with her to her father's house the clothing and
household goods that she carried away as a bride.

With the bride and her trousseau are sent a great number of presents
from the family of the bride to the members of the groom's household.
Each member of the family, from the aged grandfather to the youngest
grandchild, receives some remembrance of the occasion; and even the
servants and retainers, down to the _jinrikisha_ men, and the _bettō_ in
the stables, are not forgotten by the bride's relatives. Beside this
present-giving, the friends and relatives of the bride and groom, as in
this country, send gifts to the young couple, often some article for use
in the household, or crêpe or silk for dresses.

In old times, the wedding took place in the afternoon, but it is now
usually celebrated in the evening. The ceremony consists merely in a
formal drinking of the native wine (_saké_) from a two-spouted cup,
which is presented to the mouths of the bride and groom alternately.
This drinking from one cup is a symbol of the equal sharing of the joys
and sorrows of married life. At the ceremony no one is present but the
bride and bridegroom, their go-betweens, and a young girl, whose duty it
is to present the cup to the lips of the contracting parties. When this
is over, the wedding guests, who have been assembled in the next room
during the ceremony, join the wedding party, a grand feast is spread,
and much merriment ensues.[13]

[13] Many women still blacken their teeth after marriage, after the
manner universal in the past; but this custom is, fortunately, rapidly
going out of fashion.

On the third day after the wedding, the newly married couple are
expected to make a visit to the bride's family, and for this great
preparations are made. A large party is usually given by the bride's
parents, either in the afternoon or evening, in honor of this occasion,
to which the friends of the bride's family are invited. The young
couple bring with them presents from the groom's family to the bride's,
in return for the presents sent on the wedding day.[*64]

The festivities often begin early in the afternoon and keep up until
late at night. A fine dinner is served, and music and dancing, by
professional performers, or some other entertainment, serve to make the
time pass pleasantly. The bride appears as hostess with her mother,
entertaining the company, and receiving their congratulations, and must
remain to speed the last departing guest, before leaving the paternal

Within the course of two or three months, the newly married couple are
expected to give an entertainment, or series of entertainments, to their
friends, as an announcement of the marriage. As the wedding ceremony is
private, and no notice is given, nor are cards sent out, this is
sometimes the first intimation that is received of the marriage by many
of the acquaintances, though the news of a wedding usually travels
quickly. The entertainment may be a dinner party, given at home, or at
some tea-house, similar in many ways to the one given at the bride's
home by her parents. Sometimes it is a garden party, and very lately it
has become the fashion for officials and people of high rank to give a
ball in foreign style.

Besides the entertainment, presents of red rice, or _mochi_, are sent as
a token of thanks to all who have remembered the young couple. These are
arranged even more elaborately than the ones sent after the birth of an

The young people are not, as in this country, expected to set up
housekeeping by themselves, and establish a new home. Marriages often
take place early in life, even before the husband has any means of
supporting a family; and as a matter of course, a son with his wife
makes his abode with his parents, and forms simply a new branch of the

The only act required to make the marriage legal is the withdrawal of
the bride's name from the list of her father's family as registered by
the government, and its entry upon the register of her husband's family.
From that time forward she severs all ties with her father's house, save
those of affection, and is more closely related by law and custom to
her husband's relatives than to her own. Even this legal recognition of
her marriage is a comparatively new thing in Japan, as is any limitation
of the right of divorce on the part of the husband, or extension of that
right to the wife.[14]

[14] "As early as 1870 an edict was published by which official notice
and approbation were made necessary preliminaries to every matrimonial
contract. In the following year the class-limitations upon freedom of
marriage were abolished, and two years later the right of suing for a
divorce was conceded to the wife."--Rein's _Japan_, p. 425.

At present in Japan the marriage relation is by no means a permanent
one, as it is virtually dissoluble at the will of either party, and the
condition of public opinion is such among the lower classes that it is
not an unknown occurrence for a man to marry and divorce several wives
in succession; and for a woman, who has been divorced once or twice, to
be willing and able to marry well a second or even a third time. Among
the higher classes, the dread of the scandal and gossip, that must
attach themselves to troubles between man and wife, serves as a
restraint upon too free use of the power of divorce; but still,
divorces among the higher classes are so common now that one meets
numerous respectable and respected persons who have at some time in
their lives gone through such an experience.

One provision of the law, which serves to make most mothers endure any
evil of married life rather than sue for a divorce, is the fact that the
children belong to the father; and no matter how unfit a person he may
be to have the care of them, the disposal of them in case of a divorce
rests absolutely with him. A divorced woman returns childless to her
father's house; and many women, in consequence of this law or custom,
will do their best to keep the family together, working the more
strenuously in this direction, the more brutal and worthless the husband
proves himself to be.

The ancestor worship, as found in Japan, the tracing of relationship in
the male line only, and the generally accepted belief that children
inherit their qualities from their father rather than from the mother,
make them his children and not hers. Thus we often see children of noble
rank on the father's side, but ignoble on the mother's, inherit the
rank of their father, and not permitted even to recognize their mother
as in any way their equal. If she is plebeian, the children are not
regarded as tainted by it.

In the case of divorce, even if the law allowed the mother to keep her
children, it would be almost an impossibility for her to do so. She has
no means of earning her bread and theirs, for few occupations are open
to women, and she is forced to become a dependent on her father, or some
male relative. Whatever they may be willing to do for her, it is quite
likely that they would begrudge aid to the children of another family,
with whom custom hardly recognizes any tie. The children are the
children of the man whose name they bear. If the woman is a favorite
daughter, it may happen that her father will take her and her children
under his roof, and support them all; but this is a rare exception, and
only possible when the husband first gives up all claim to the children.

There comes to my mind now a case illustrating this point, which I think
I may cite without betraying confidence. It is that of a most attractive
young woman who was married to a worthless husband, but lived
faithfully with him for several years, and became the mother of three
children. The husband, who seemed at first merely good-for-nothing,
became worse as the years went by, drank himself out of situation after
situation procured for him by powerful relatives, and at last became so
violent that he even beat his wife and threatened his children, a
proceeding most unusual on the part of a Japanese husband and father.
The poor wife was at last obliged to flee from her husband's house to
her mother's, taking her children with her. She sued for a divorce and
obtained it, and is now married again; her youth, good looks, and high
connections procuring her a very good catch for her second venture in
matrimony; but her children are lost to her, and belong wholly to their
worthless, drunken father.

Of the lack of permanence in the marriage relation among the lower
classes, the domestic changes of one of my servants in Tōkyō afford an
amusing illustration. The man, whom I had hired in the double capacity
of _jinrikisha_ man and _bettō_ or groom, was a strong, faithful,
pleasant-faced fellow, recently come to Tōkyō from the country. I
inquired, when I engaged him, whether he had a wife, as I wanted some
one who could remain in his room in the stable in care of the horse when
he was pulling me about in the _jinrikisha_. He replied that he had a
wife, but she was now at Utsunomiya, the country town from which he had
come, but he would send for her at once, and she would be in Tōkyō in
the course of a week or two. Two or three weeks passed and no wife
appeared, so I inquired of my cook and head servant what had become of
Yasaku's wife. He replied, with a twinkle in his eye, that she had found
work in Utsunomiya and did not wish to come. A week more passed, and
still no wife, and further inquiries elicited from the cook the
information that Yasaku had divorced her for disobedience, and was on
the lookout for a new and more docile helpmate. His first thought was of
the maidservant of the Japanese family who lived in the same house with
me, a broad-faced, red-cheeked country girl, of a very low grade of
intelligence. He gave this up, however, because he thought it would not
be polite to put my friends to inconvenience by taking away their
servant. His next effort was by negotiation through a Tōkyō friend; but
apparently Yasaku's country manners were not to the taste of the Tōkyō
damsels, for he met with no success, and was at last driven to write to
his father in Utsunomiya asking him to select him a wife and bring her
down to Tōkyō.

The selection took a week or two, and at last my maid told me that
Yasaku's wife was coming by the next morning's train. A look into the
_bettō's_ quarters in the stable showed great preparations for the
bride. The mats, new-covered with nice straw matting, were white and
clean; the _shoji_ were mended with new paper; the walls covered with
bright-colored pictures; and various new domestic conveniences had
nearly bankrupted Yasaku, in spite of his large salary of ten dollars a
month. He had ordered a fine feast at a neighboring tea house, had had
cards printed with his own name in English and Japanese, and had
altogether been to such great expense that he had had to put his winter
clothes in pawn to secure the necessary money.

The day chosen for the marriage was rainy, and, though Yasaku spent all
his time in going to trains, no bridal party appeared; and he came home
at night disconsolate, to smoke his good-night pipe over his solitary
_hibachi_. He was, no doubt, angry as well as disconsolate, for he sat
down and penned a severe letter to his father, in which he said that, if
the bride did not appear on the next day counted lucky for a wedding (no
Japanese would be married on an unlucky day), they could send her back
to her father's house, for he would none of her. This letter did its
work, for on the next lucky day, about ten days later, the bride
appeared, and Yasaku was given two days of holiday on the agreement that
he should not be married again while he remained in my service. On the
evening of the second day, the bride came in to pay me her respects,
and, crouching on her hands and knees before me, literally trembled
under the excitement of her first introduction to a foreigner. She was a
girl of rather unattractive exterior, fat and heavy, and rather older
than Yasaku had bargained for, I imagine; at any rate, from the first,
he seemed dissatisfied with his "pig in a poke," and after a couple of
months sent her home to her parents, and was all ready to start out
again in the hope of better luck next time.

Here is another instance, from the woman's side. Upon one occasion, when
I was visiting a Japanese lady of high rank who kept a retinue of
servants, the woman who came in with the tea bowed and smiled upon me as
if greeting me after a long absence. As I was in and out of the house
nearly every day, I was a little surprised at this demonstration, which
was quite different from the formal bow that is given by the servant to
her mistress's guest upon ordinary occasions. When she went out my
friend said, "You see O Kiku has come back." As I did not know that the
woman had been away, the news of her return did not affect me greatly
until I learned the history of her departure. It seemed that about a
month before, she had left her mistress's house to be married; and the
day before my visit she had quietly presented herself, and announced
that she had come back, if they would take her in. My friend had asked
her what had happened,--whether she had found her husband unkind. No,
her husband was very nice, very kind and good, but his mother was simply
unbearable; she made her work so hard that she actually had no time to
rest at all. She had known before her marriage that her proposed
mother-in-law was a hard task-mistress, but her husband had promised
that his mother should live with his older brother, and they should have
their housekeeping quite independent and separate. As the mother was
then living with her older son, it seemed unlikely that she would care
to move, and O Kiku San had married on that supposition. But it seemed
that the wife of the older brother was both lazy and bad-tempered, and
the new wife of the younger brother soon proved herself industrious and
good-natured. As the mother's main thought was to go where she would get
the most comfort and waiting upon, she moved from the elder son's house
to that of her younger son, and began leading her new daughter-in-law
such a life that she soon gave up the effort to live with her husband,
sued for a divorce, obtained it, and was back in her old place, all in a
month's time from the date of her marriage.

But our readers must not suppose, from the various incidents given,
that few happy marriages take place in Japan, or that, in every rank of
life, divorce is of every-day occurrence. On the contrary, there seems
cause for wonder, not that there are so many divorces, but that there
are so many happy marriages, with wives and husbands devoted and
faithful. For a nobleman in the olden times to divorce his wife would
have caused such a scandal and talk that it rarely occurred. If the wife
were disliked, he need have little or nothing to do with her, their
rooms, their meals, and their attendance being entirely separate, but he
rarely took away from her the name of wife, empty as it might be. She
usually would be from some other noble house, and great trouble would
arise between the families if he attempted to divorce her. The _samurai_
also, with the same loyalty which they displayed for their lords, were
loyal to their wives, and many a novel has been written, or play acted,
showing the devotion of husband and wife. The quiet, undemonstrative
love, though very different from the ravings of a lover in the
nineteenth century novel, is perhaps truer to life.

Among the merchants and lower classes there has been, and is, a much
lower standard of morality, but the few years which have passed since
the Revolution of 1868 are not a fair sample of what Japan has been.
Noblemen, _samurai_, and merchants have had much to undergo in the great
changes, and, as is the case in all such transition periods, old customs
and restraints, and old standards of morality, have been broken down and
have not been replaced. There is no doubt that men have run to excesses
of all sorts, and divorces have been much more frequent of late

Our little Japanese maiden knows, when she blackens her teeth, dons her
wedding dress, and starts on her bridal journey to her husband's house,
that upon her good behavior alone depend her chances of a happy life.
She is to be henceforth the property of a man of whom she probably knows
little, and who has the power, at any whim, to send her back to her
father's house in disgrace, deprived of her children, with nothing to
live for or hope for, except that some man will overlook the disgrace of
her divorce, and by marrying her give her the only opportunity that a
Japanese woman can have of a home other than that of a servant or
dependent. That these evils will be remedied in time, there seems little
reason to doubt, but just now the various cooks who are engaged in
brewing the broth of the new civilization are disagreed in regard to the
condiments required for its proper flavoring. The conservatives wish to
flavor strongly with the subjection and dependence of women, believing
that only by that means can feminine virtue be preserved. The younger
men, of foreign education, would drop into the boiling pot the flavor of
culture and broader outlook; for by this means they hope to secure
happier homes for all, and better mothers for their children. The
missionaries and native Christians believe that, when the whole mixture
is well impregnated with practical Christianity, the desired result will
be achieved. All are agreed on this point, that a strong public opinion
is necessary before improved legislation can produce much effect; and
so, for the present, legislation remains in the background, until the
time shall come when it can be used in the right way.

Let us examine the two remedies suggested by the reformers, and see
what effect has been produced by each so far, and what may be expected
of them in the future. Taking education first, what are the effects
produced so far by educating women to a point above the old Japanese
standard? In many happy homes to-day, we find husbands educated abroad,
and knowing something of the home life of foreign lands, who have sought
out wives of broad intellectual culture, and who make them friends and
confidants, not simply housekeepers and head-servants. In such homes the
wife has freedom, not such as is enjoyed by American women, perhaps, but
equal to that of most European women. In such homes love and equality
rule, and the power of the mother-in-law grows weak. To her is paid due
respect, but she seldom has the despotic control which often makes the
beginning of married life hard to the Japanese wife. These homes are
sending out healthy influences that are daily having their effect, and
raising the position of women in Japan.

But for the young girl whose mind has been broadened by the new
education, and who marries, as the majority of Japanese girls must, not
in accordance with her own wishes, but in obedience to the will of her
parents, a hard life is in store. A woman's education, under the old
régime, was one that fitted her well for the position that she was to
occupy. The higher courses of study only serve to make her kick against
the pricks, and render herself miserable where she might before have
been happy. With mind and character developed by education, she may be
obliged to enter the home of her husband's family, to be perhaps one
among many members under the same roof. In the training of her own
children, in the care of her own health and theirs, her wishes and
judgment must often yield to the prejudices of those above her, under
whose authority she is, and it may not be until many years have passed
that she will be in a position to influence in any measure the lives of
those nearest and dearest to her. Then, too, her life must be passed
entirely within the home, with no opportunities to meet or to mingle
with the great world of which she has read and studied. Surely her lot
is harder than that of the woman of the olden time, whose plain duty
always lay in the path of implicit obedience to her superiors, and who
never for one moment considered obedience to the dictates of her own
reason and conscience as an obligation higher than deference to the
wishes of husband and parents. Education, without further amelioration
of their lot as wives and mothers, can but result in making the women
discontented and unhappy,--in many cases injuring their health by worry
over the constant petty disappointments and baffled desires of their

This to superficial observers would seem a step backward rather than
forward, and it is to this cause that the present reaction against
female education may be traced. The first generation or two of educated
women must endure much for the sake of those who come after, and by many
this vicarious suffering is misunderstood, and distaste on the part of
educated girls for marriage, as it now exists in Japan, is regarded as
one of the sure signs that education is a failure. Without some change
in the position of wife and mother, this feeling will grow into absolute
repugnance, if women continue to be educated after the Western fashion.

The second remedy that is suggested is Christianity, a remedy which is
even now at work. Wherever one finds in Japan a Christian home, there
one finds the wife and mother occupying the position that she occupies
all over Christendom. The Christian man, in choosing his wife, feels
that it is not an ordinary contract, which may be dissolved at any time
at the will of the contracting parties, but that it is a union for life.
Consequently, in making his choice he is more careful, takes more time,
and thinks more of the personal qualities of the woman he is about to
marry. Thus the chances are better at the beginning for the
establishment of a happy home, and such homes form centres of influence
throughout the length and breadth of the land to-day. Christianity in
the future will do much to mould public sentiment in the right way, and
can be trusted as a force that is sure to grow in time to be a mighty
power in the councils of the nation.

One more remedy might be suggested, as a preliminary to proper
legislation, or a necessary accompaniment of it, and that is, the
opening of new avenues of employment for women, and especially for
women of the cultivated classes. To-day marriage, no matter how
distasteful, is the only opening for a woman; for she can do nothing for
her own support, and cannot require her father to support her after she
has reached a marriageable age. As new ways of self-support present
themselves, and a woman may look forward to making a single life
tolerable by her own labor, the intelligent girls of the middle class
will no longer accept marriage as inevitable, but will only marry when
the suitor can offer a good home, kindness, affection, and security in
the tenure of these blessings. So far, there is little employment for
women, except as teachers; but even this change in the condition of
things is forming a class, as yet small, but increasing yearly, of women
who enjoy a life of independence, though accompanied by much hard work,
more than the present life of a Japanese married woman. In this class we
find some of the most intelligent and respected of the women of new
Japan; and the growth of this class is one of the surest signs that the
present state of the laws and customs concerning marriage and divorce
is so unsatisfactory to the women that it must eventually be remedied,
if the educated and intelligent of the men care to take for their wives,
and for the mothers of their children, any but the less educated and
less intelligent of the women of their own nation.



The young wife, when she enters her husband's home, is not, as in our
own country, entering upon a new life as mistress of a house, with
absolute control over all of her little domain. Should her husband's
parents be living, she becomes almost as their servant, and even her
husband is unable to defend her from the exactions of her mother-in-law,
should this new relative be inclined to make full use of the power given
her by custom. Happy is the girl whose husband has no parents. Her
comfort in life is materially increased by her husband's loss, for,
instead of having to serve two masters, she will then have to serve only
one, and that one more kind and thoughtful of her strength and comfort
than the mother-in-law.

In Japan the idea of a wife's duty to her husband includes no thought of
companionship on terms of equality. The wife is simply the housekeeper,
the head of the establishment, to be honored by the servants because she
is the one who is nearest to the master, but not for one moment to be
regarded as the master's equal. She governs and directs the household,
if it be a large one, and her position is one of much care and
responsibility; but she is not the intimate friend of her husband, is in
no sense his confidante or adviser, except in trivial affairs of the
household. She appears rarely with him in public, is expected always to
wait upon him and save him steps, and must bear all things from him with
smiling face and agreeable manners, even to the receiving with open arms
into the household some other woman, whom she knows to bear the relation
of concubine to her own husband.

In return for this, she has, if she be of the higher classes, much
respect and honor from those beneath her. She has, in many cases the
real though often inconsiderate affection of her husband. If she be the
mother of children, she is doubly honored, and if she be endowed with a
good temper, good manners, and tact, she can render her position not
only agreeable to herself, but one of great usefulness to those about
her. It lies with her alone to make the home a pleasant one, or to make
it unpleasant. Nothing is expected of the husband in this direction; he
may do as he likes with his own, and no one will blame him; but if his
home is not happy, even through his own folly or bad temper, the blame
will fall upon his wife, who should by management do whatever is
necessary to supply the deficiencies caused by her husband's
shortcomings. In all things the husband goes first, the wife second. If
the husband drops his fan or his handkerchief the wife picks it up. The
husband is served first, the wife afterwards, and so on through the
countless minutiæ of daily life. It is not the idea of the strong man
considering the weak woman, saving her exertion, guarding and deferring
to her; but it is the less important waiting upon the more important,
the servant deferring to her master.

But though the present position of a Japanese wife is that of a
dependent who owes all she has to her protector, and for whom she is
bound to do all she can in return, the dependence is in many cases a
happy one. The wife's position, especially if she be the mother of
children, is often pleasant, and her chief joy and pride lies in the
proper conduct of her house and the training of her children. The
service of her parents-in-law, however, must remain her first duty
during their lifetime. She must make it her care to see that they are
waited upon and served with what they like at meals, that their clothes
are carefully and nicely made, and that countless little attentions are
heaped upon them. As long as her mother-in-law lives, the latter is the
real ruler of the house; and though in many cases the elder lady prefers
freedom from responsibility to the personal superintendence of the
details of housekeeping, she will not hesitate to require of her
daughter-in-law that the house be kept to her satisfaction. If the
maiden's lot is to be the first daughter-in-law in a large family, she
becomes simply the one of the family from whom the most drudgery is
expected, who obtains the fewest favors, and who is expected to have
always the pleasantest of tempers under circumstances not altogether
conducive to repose of spirit. The wife of the oldest son has, however,
the advantage that, when her mother-in-law dies or retires, she becomes
the mistress of the house and the head lady of the family, a position
for which her apprenticeship to the old lady has probably exceptionally
well fitted her.

Next to her parents-in-law, her duty is to her husband. She must herself
render to him the little services that a European expects of his valet.
She must not only take care of his clothing, but must bring it to him
and help him put it on, and must put away with care whatever he has
taken off; and she often takes pride in doing with her own hands many
acts of service which might be left to servants, and which are not
actually demanded of her, unless she has no one under her to do them. In
the poorer families all the washing, sewing, and mending that is
required is always done by the wife; and even the Empress herself is not
exempt from these duties of personal service, but must wait upon her
husband in various ways.

When the earliest beams of the sun shine in at the cracks of the dark
wooden shutters which surround the house at night, the young wife in the
family softly arises, puts out the feeble light of the _andon_,[15]
which has burned all night, and, quietly opening one of the sliding
doors, admits enough light to make her own toilet. She dresses hastily,
only putting a few touches here and there to her elaborate coiffure,
which she has not taken down for her night's rest.[16] Next she goes to
arouse the servants, if they are not already up, and with them prepares
the modest breakfast. When the little lacquer tables, with rice bowls,
plates, and chopsticks are arranged in place, she goes softly to see
whether her parents and husband are awake, and if they have hot water,
charcoal fire, and whatever else they may need for their toilet. Then
with her own hands, or with the help of the servants, she slides back
the wooden shutters, opening the whole house to the fresh morning air
and sunlight. It is she, also, who directs the washing and wiping of the
polished floors, and the folding and putting away of the bedding, so
that all is in readiness before the morning meal.

[15] The _andon_ is the standing lamp, inclosed in a paper case, used as
a night lamp in all Japanese houses. Until the introduction of kerosene
lamps, the _andon_ was the only light used in Japanese houses. The light
is produced by a pith wick floating in a saucer of vegetable oil.

[16] The pillow used by ladies is merely a wooden rest for the head,
that supports the neck, leaving the elaborate head-dress undisturbed.
The hair is dressed by a professional hair-dresser, who comes to the
house once in two or three days. In some parts of Japan, as in Kiōto,
where the hair is even more elaborately dressed than in Tōkyō, it is
much less frequently arranged. The process takes two hours at least.

When breakfast is over, the husband starts for his place of business,
and the little wife is in waiting to send him off with her sweetest
smile and her lowest bow, after having seen that his foot-gear--whether
sandal, clog, or shoe--is at the door ready for him to put on, his
umbrella, book, or bundle at hand, and his _kuruma_ waiting for him.

Certainly a Japanese man is lucky in having all the little things in his
life attended to by his thoughtful wife,--a good, considerate, careful
body-servant, always on hand to bear for him the trifling worries and
cares. There is no wonder that there are no bachelors in Japan. To some
degree, I am sure, the men appreciate these attentions; for they often
become much in love with their sweet, helpful wives, though they do not
share with them the greater things of life, the ambitions and the hopes
of men.

The husband started on his daily rounds, the wife settles down to the
work of the house. Her sphere is within her home, and though, unlike
other Asiatic women, she goes without restraint alone through the
streets, she does not concern herself with the great world, nor is she
occupied with such a round of social duties as fill the lives of society
women in this country. Yet she is not barred out from all intercourse
with the outer world, for there are sometimes great dinner parties,
given perhaps at home, when she must appear as hostess, side by side
with her husband, and share with him the duty of entertaining the
guests. There are, besides, smaller gatherings of friends of her
husband, when she must see that the proper refreshments are served, if
they be only the omnipresent tea and cake. She may, perhaps, join in the
number and listen to the conversation; but if there are no ladies, she
will probably not appear, except to attend to the wants of her guests.
There are also lady visitors--friends and relatives--who come to make
calls, oftentimes from a distance, and nearly always unexpectedly,
whose entertainment devolves on the wife. Owing to the great distances
in many of the cities, and the difficulties that used to attend going
from place to place, it has become a custom not to make frequent visits,
but long ones at long intervals. A guest often stays several hours,
remaining to lunch or dinner, as the case may be, and, should the
distance be great, may spend the night. So rigid are the requirements of
Japanese hospitality that no guest is ever allowed to leave a house
without having been pressed to partake of food, if it be only tea and
cake. Even tradesmen or messengers who come to the house must be offered
tea, and if carpenters, gardeners, or workmen of any kind are employed
about the house, tea must be served in the middle of the afternoon with
a light lunch, and tea sent out to them often during their day's work.
If a guest arrives in _jinrikisha_, not only the guest, but the
_jinrikisha_ men must be supplied with refreshments. All these things
involve much thought and care on the part of the lady of the house.

In the homes of rich and influential men of wide acquaintance, there is
a great deal going on to make a pleasant variety for the ladies of the
household, even although the variety involves extra work and
responsibility. The mistress of such a household sees and hears a great
deal of life; and her position requires no little wisdom and tact, even
where the housewife has the assistance of good servants, capable, as
many are, of sharing not only the work, but the responsibility as well.
Clever wives in such homes see and learn much, in an indirect way, of
the outside world in which the men live; and may become, if they possess
the natural capabilities for the work, wise advisers and sympathizers
with their husbands in many things far beyond their ordinary field of
action. An intelligent woman, with a strong will, has often been, unseen
and unknown, a mighty influence in Japan. That her power for good or
bad, outside of her influence as wife and mother, is a recognized fact,
is seen in the circumstance that in novels and plays women are
frequently brought in as factors in political plots and organized
rebellions, as well as in acts of private revenge.

Still the life of the average woman is a quiet one, with little to
interrupt the monotony of her days with their never-ending round of
duties; and to the most secluded homes only an occasional guest comes to
enliven the dull hours. The principal occupation of the wife, outside of
her housekeeping and the little duties of personal service to husband
and parents, is needle-work. Every Japanese woman (excepting those of
the highest rank) knows how to sew, and makes not only her own garments
and those of her children, but her husband's as well. Sewing is one of
the essentials in the education of a Japanese girl, and from childhood
the cutting and putting together of crêpe, silk, and cotton is a
familiar occupation to her. Though Japanese garments seem very simple,
custom requires that each stitch and seam be placed in just such a way;
and this way is something of a task to learn. To the uninitiated
foreigner, the general effect of the loosely worn _kimono_ is the same,
whether the garment be well or ill made; but the skillful seamstress can
easily discover that this seam is not turned just as it should be, or
that those stitches are too long or too short, or carelessly or unevenly

Fancy work[17] or embroidery is not done in the house, the gorgeous
embroidered Japanese robes being the product of professional workmen.
Instead of the endless fancy work with silks, crewels, or worsteds, over
which so many American ladies spend their leisure hours, many of the
Japanese ladies, even of the highest rank, devote much time to the
cultivation of the silkworm. In country homes, and in the great cities
as well, wherever spacious grounds afford room for the growth of
mulberry trees, silkworms are raised and watched with care; an
employment giving much pleasure to those engaged in it.

[17] The one exception to this statement, so far as I know, is the
species of silk mosaic made by the ladies in the _daimiōs'_ houses. (See
chap. vii.)

It is difficult for any one who has not experimented in this direction
to realize how tender these little spinners are. If a strong breeze blow
upon them, they are likely to suffer for it, and the least change in the
atmosphere must be guarded against. For forty days they must be
carefully watched, and the great, shallow, bamboo basket trays
containing them changed almost daily. New leaves for their food must be
given frequently, and as the least dampness might be fatal, each leaf,
in case of rainy weather, is carefully wiped. Then, too, the different
ages of the worms must be considered in preparing their food; as, for
the young worms, the leaves should be cut up, while for the older ones
it is better to serve them whole. When, finally, the buzzing noise of
the crunching leaves has ceased, and the last worm has put himself to
sleep in his precious white cocoon, the work of the ladies is ended; for
the cocoons are sent to women especially skilled in the work, by them to
be spun off, and the thread afterwards woven into the desired fabric.
When at last the silk, woven and dyed, is returned to the ladies by
whose care the worms were nourished until their work was done, it is
shown with great pride as the product of the year's labor, and if given
as a present will be highly prized by the recipient.

Among the daily tasks of the housewife, one, and by no means the least
of her duties, is to receive, duly acknowledge, and return in suitable
manner, the presents received in the family. Presents are not confined
to special seasons, although upon certain occasions etiquette is rigid
in its requirements in this matter, but they may be given and received
at all times, for the Japanese are preëminently a present-giving nation.
For every present received, sooner or later, a proper return must be
sent, appropriate to the season and to the rank of the receiver, and
neatly arranged in the manner that etiquette prescribes. Presents are
not necessarily elaborate; callers bring fruit of the season, cake, or
any delicacy, and a visit to a sick person must be accompanied by
something appropriate. Children visiting in the family are always given
toys, and for this purpose a stock is kept on hand. The present-giving
culminates at the close of the year, when all friends and acquaintances
exchange gifts of more or less value, according to their feelings and
means. Should there be any one who has been especially kind, and to whom
return should be made, this is the time to do so.

Tradesmen send presents to their patrons, scholars to teachers, patients
to their physicians, and, in short, it is the time when all obligations
and debts are paid off, in one way or another. On the seventh day of
the seventh month, there is another general interchange of presents,
although not so universal as at the New Year. It can easily be imagined
that all this present-giving entails much care, especially in families
of influence; and it must be attended to personally by the wife, who, in
the secret recesses of her storeroom, skillfully manages to rearrange
the gifts received, so that those not needed in the house may be sent,
not back to their givers, but to some place where a present is due. The
passing-on of the presents is an economy not of course acknowledged, but
frequently practiced even in the best families, as it saves much of the
otherwise ruinous expense of this custom.

As time passes by, occasional visits are paid by the young wife to her
own parents or to other relatives. At stated times, too, she, and others
of the family, will visit the tombs of her husband's ancestors, or of
her own parents, if they are no longer living, to make offerings and
prayers at the graves, to place fresh branches of the _sakaki_[18]
before the tombs, and to see that the priests in charge of the cemetery
have attended to all the little things which the Japanese believe to be
required by the spirits of the dead. Even these visits are often looked
forward to as enlivening the monotony of the humdrum home life.
Sometimes all the members of the family go together on a pleasure
excursion, spending the day out of doors, in beautiful gardens, when
some one of the much-loved flowers of the nation is in its glory; and
the little wife may join in this pleasure with the rest, but more often
she is the one who remains at home to keep the house in the absence of
others. The theatre, too, a source of great amusement to Japanese
ladies, is often a pleasure reserved for a time later in life.

[18] _Sakaki_, the _Cleyera Japonica_, a sacred plant emblematic of
purity, and much used at funerals and in the decoration of graves.

The Japanese mother takes great delight and comfort in her children, and
her constant thought and care is the right direction of their habits and
manners. She seems to govern them entirely by gentle admonition, and the
severest chiding that is given them is always in a pleasant voice, and
accompanied by a smiling face. No matter how many servants there may be,
the mother's influence is always direct and personal. No thick walls
and long passageways separate the nursery from the grown people's
apartments, but the thin paper partitions make it possible for the
mother to know always what her children are doing, and whether they are
good and gentle with their nurses, or irritable and passionate. The
children never leave the house, nor return to it, without going to their
mother's room, and there making the little bows and repeating the
customary phrases used upon such occasions. In the same way, when the
mother goes out, all the servants and the children escort her to the
door; and when her attendant shouts "_O kaeri_," which is the signal of
her return, children and servants hasten to the gate to greet her, and
do what they can to help her from her conveyance and make her
home-coming pleasant and restful.

The father has little to do with the training of his children, which is
left almost entirely to the mother, and, except for the interference of
the mother-in-law, she has her own way in their training, until they are
long past childhood. The children are taught to look to the father as
the head, and to respect and obey him as the one to whom all must defer;
but the mother comes next, almost as high in their estimation, and, if
not so much feared and respected, certainly enjoys a larger share of
their love.

The Japanese mother's life is one of perfect devotion to her children;
she is their willing slave. Her days are spent in caring for them, her
evenings in watching over them; and she spares neither time nor trouble
in doing anything for their comfort and pleasure. In sickness,[19] in
health, day and night, the little ones are her one thought; and from the
home of the noble to the humble cot of the peasant, this tender
mother-love may be seen in all its different phases. The Japanese woman
has so few on whom to lavish her affection, so little to live for beside
her children, and no hopes in the future except through them, that it is
no wonder that she devotes her life to their care and service, deeming
the drudgery that custom requires of her for them the easiest of all her
duties. Even with plenty of servants, the mother performs for her
children nearly all the duties often delegated to nurses in this
country. Mother and babe are rarely separated, night or day, during the
first few years of the baby's life, and the mother denies herself any
entertainment or journey from home when the baby cannot accompany her.
To give the husband any share in the baby-work would be an unheard-of
thing, and a disgrace to the wife; for in public and in private the baby
is the mother's sole charge, and the husband is never asked to sit up
all night with a sick baby, or to mind it in any way at all. Nothing in
all one's study of Japanese life seems more beautiful and admirable than
the influence of the mother over her children,--an influence that is
gentle and all-pervading, bringing out all that is sweetest and noblest
in the feminine character, and affording the one almost unlimited
opportunity of a Japanese woman's life. The lot of a childless wife in
Japan is a sad one. Not only is she denied the hopes and the pleasures
of a mother in her children, but she is an object of pity to her
friends, and well does she know that Confucius has laid down the law
that a man is justified in divorcing a childless wife. All feel that
through her, innocent though she is, the line has ceased; that her duty
is unfulfilled; and that, though the name be given to adopted sons,
there is no heir of the blood. A man rarely sends away his wife solely
with this excuse, but children are the strongest of the ties which bind
together husband and wife, and the childless wife is far less sure of
pleasing her husband. In many cases she tries to make good her
deficiencies by her care of adopted children; in them she often finds
the love which fills the void in her heart and home, and she receives
from them in after-life the respect and care which is the crown of old

[19] Since the introduction of the foreign system of medicine and
nursing, the Japanese realize so acutely the lack of conveniences and
appliances for nursing the sick in their own homes, that cases of severe
or even serious illness are usually sent to hospitals, where the
invalids can have the comforts that even the wealthy Japanese homes
cannot furnish.

We have hitherto spoken of married life when the wife is received into
her husband's home. Another interesting side of Japanese marriage is
when a man enters the wife's family, taking her name and becoming
entirely one of her family, as usually the wife becomes of the
husband's. When there are daughters but no sons in a family to inherit
the name, one of three things may happen: a son may be adopted early in
life and grow up as heir; or he may be adopted with the idea of marrying
one of the daughters; or, again, no one may have been formally adopted,
but on the eldest daughter's coming to a marriageable age, her family
and friends seek for her a _yōshi_, that is to say, some man (usually a
younger son) who is willing and able to give up his family name, and, by
marrying the daughter, become a member of her family and heir to the
name. He cuts off all ties from his own family, and becomes a member of
hers, and the young couple are expected to live with her parents. In
this case the tables are turned, and it is he who has to dread the
mother-in-law; it is his turn to have to please his new relatives and to
do all he can to be agreeable. He, too, may be sent away and divorced by
the all-powerful parents, if he does not please; and such divorces are
not uncommon. Of course, in such marriages, the woman has the greater
power, and the man has to remember what he owes her; and though the
woman yields to him obediently in all respects, it is an obedience not
demanded by the husband, as under other circumstances. In such marriages
the children belong to the family whose name they bear, so that in case
of divorce they remain in the wife's family, unless some special
arrangement is made about them.

It may be wondered why young men ever care to enter a family as _yōshi_.
There is only one answer,--it is the attraction of wealth and rank, very
rarely that of the daughter herself. In the houses of rich _daimiōs_
without sons, _yōshi_ are very common, and there are many younger sons
of the nobility, themselves of high birth, but without prospects, who
are glad enough to become great lords. In feudal times, the number of
_samurai_ families was limited. Several sons of one family could not
establish different _samurai_ families, but all but the eldest son, if
they formed separate houses, must enroll themselves among the ranks of
the common people. Hence the younger sons were often adopted into other
_samurai_ families as _yōshi_, where it was desired to secure a
succession to a name that must otherwise die out. Since the Restoration,
and the breaking down of the old class distinctions, young men care
more for independence than for their rank as _samurai_; and it is now
quite difficult to find _yōshi_ to enter _samurai_ families, unless it
be because of the attractiveness and beauty of the young lady herself.
Many a young girl who could easily make a good marriage with some
suitable husband, could she enter his family, is now obliged to take
some inferior man as _yōshi_, because few men in these days are willing
to change their names, give up their independence, and take upon
themselves the support of aged parents-in-law; for this also is expected
of the _yōshi_, unless the family that he enters is a wealthy one.

From this custom of _yōshi_, and its effect upon the wife's position, we
see that, in certain cases, Japanese women are treated as equal with
men. It is not because of their sex that they are looked down upon and
held in subjection, but it is because of their almost universal
dependence of position. The men have the right of inheritance, the
education, habits of self-reliance, and are the bread-winners. Wherever
the tables are turned, and the men are dependents of the women, and
even where the women are independent of the men,--there we find the
relations of men to women vastly changed. The women of Japan must know
how to do some definite work in the world beyond the work of the home,
so that their position will not be one of entire dependence upon father,
husband, or son. If fathers divided their estates between sons and
daughters alike, and women were given, before the law, right to hold
property in their own names, much would be accomplished towards securing
them in their positions as wives and mothers; and divorce, the great
evil of Japanese home life to-day, would become simply a last resort to
preserve the purity of the home, as it is in most civilized countries

The difference between the women of the lower and those of the higher
classes, in the matter of equality with their husbands, is quite
noticeable. The wife of the peasant or merchant is much nearer to her
husband's level than is the wife of the Emperor. Apparently, each step
in the social scale is a little higher for the man than it is for the
woman, and lifts him a little farther above his wife. The peasant and
his wife work side by side in the field, put their shoulders to the same
wheel, eat together in the same room, at the same time, and whichever of
them happens to be the stronger in character governs the house, without
regard to sex. There is no great gulf fixed between them, and there is
frequently a consideration for the wife shown by husbands of the lower
class, that is not unlike what we see in our own country. I remember the
case of a _jinrikisha_ man employed by a friend of mine in Tōkyō, who
was much laughed at by his friends because he actually used to spend
some of his leisure moments in drawing the water required for his
household from a well some distance away, and carrying the heavy buckets
to the house, in order to save the strength of his little, delicate
wife. That cases of such devotion are rare is no doubt true, but that
they occur shows that there is here and there a recognition of the
claims that feminine weakness has upon masculine strength.

A frequent sight in the morning, in Tōkyō, is a cart heavily laden with
wood, charcoal, or some other country produce, creaking slowly along
the streets, propelled by a farmer and his family. Sometimes one will
see an old man, his son, and his son's wife with a baby on her back, all
pushing or pulling with might and main; the woman with tucked-up skirts
and tight-fitting blue trousers, a blue towel enveloping her head,--only
to be distinguished from the men by her smaller size and the baby tied
to her back. But when evening comes, and the load of produce has been
disposed of, the woman and baby are seen seated upon the cart, while the
two men pull it back to their home in some neighboring village. Here,
again, is the recognition of the law that governs the position of woman
in this country,--the theory, not of inferior position, but of inferior
strength; and the sight of the women riding back in the empty carts at
night, drawn by their husbands, is the thing that strikes a student of
Japanese domestic life as nearest to the customs of our own civilization
in regard to the relations of husbands and wives.

Throughout the country districts, where the women have a large share in
the labor that is directly productive of wealth, where they not only
work in the rice fields, pick the tea crops, gather the harvests, and
help draw them to market, but where they have their own productive
industries, such as caring for the silkworms, and spinning, and weaving
both silk and cotton, we find the conventional distance between the
sexes much diminished by the important character of feminine labor; but
in the cities, and among the classes who are largely either indirect
producers or non-producers, the only labor of the women is that personal
service which we account as menial. It is for this reason, perhaps, that
the gap widens as we go upward in society, and between the same social
levels as we go cityward.

The wife of the countryman, though she may work harder and grow old
earlier, is more free and independent than her city sister; and the wife
of the peasant, pushing her produce to market, is in some ways happier
and more considered than the wife of the noble, who must spend her life
among her ladies-in-waiting, in the seclusion of her great house with
its beautiful garden, the plaything of her husband in his leisure hours,
but never his equal, or the sharer of his cares or of his thoughts.

One of the causes which must be mentioned as contributing to the
lowering of the wife's position, among the higher and more wealthy
classes, lies in the system of concubinage which custom allows, and the
law until quite recently has not discouraged. From the Emperor, who was,
by the old Chinese code of morals, allowed twelve supplementary wives,
to the _samurai_, who are permitted two, the men of the higher classes
are allowed to introduce into their families these _mékaké_, who, while
beneath the wife in position, are frequently more beloved by the husband
than the wife herself. It must be said, however, to the credit of many
husbands, that in spite of this privilege, which custom allows, there
are many men of the old school who are faithful to one wife, and never
introduce this discordant element into the household. Even should he
keep _mékaké_, it is often unknown to the wife, and she is placed in a
separate establishment of her own. And in spite of the code of morals
requiring submission in any case on the part of the woman, there are
many wives of the _samurai_ and lower classes who have enough spirit and
wit to prevent their husbands from ever introducing a rival under the
same roof. In this way the practice is made better than the theory.

Not so with the more helpless wife of the nobleman, for wealth and
leisure make temptation greater for the husband. She submits
unquestioningly to the custom requiring that the wife treat these women
with all civility. Their children she may even have to adopt as her own.
The lot of the _mékaké_ herself is rendered the less endurable, from the
American point of view, by the fact that, should the father of her child
decide to make it his heir, the mother is thenceforth no more to it than
any other of the servants of the household. For instance, suppose a
hitherto childless noble is presented with a son by one of his
concubines, and he decides by legal adoption to make that son his heir:
the child at its birth, or as soon afterwards as is practicable, is
taken from its mother and placed in other hands, and the mother never
sees her own child until, on the thirtieth day after its birth, she goes
with the other servants of the household to pay her respects to her
young master. If it were not for the habit of abject obedience to
parents which Japanese custom has exalted into the one feminine virtue,
few women could be found of respectable families who would take a
position so devoid of either honor or satisfaction of any kind as that
of _mékaké_. That these positions are not sought after must be said, to
the honor of Japanese womanhood. A nobleman may obtain _samurai_ women
for his "_O mékaké_" (literally, honorable concubines), but they are
never respected by their own class for taking such positions. In the
same way the _mékaké_ of _samurai_ are usually from the _héimin_. No
woman who has any chance of a better lot will ever take the unenviable
position of _mékaké_.

A law which has recently been promulgated strikes at the root of this
evil, and, if enforced, will in course of time go far toward extirpating
it. Henceforth in Japan, no child of a concubine, or of adoption from
any source, can inherit a noble title. The heir to the throne must
hereafter be the son, not only of the Emperor, but of the Empress, or
the succession passes to some collateral branch of the family. This law
does not apply to Prince Haru, the present heir to the throne, as,
although he is not the son of the Empress, he was legally adopted
before the promulgation of the law; but should he die, it will apply to
all future heirs.

That public opinion is moving in the right direction is shown by the
fact that the young men of the higher classes do not care to marry the
daughters of _mékaké_, be they ever so legally adopted by their own
fathers. When the girls born of such unions become a drug in the
matrimonial market, and the boys are unable to keep up the succession,
the _mékaké_ will go out of fashion, and the real wife will once more
assume her proper importance.[20]

[20] It is worth while to mention in this connection the noteworthy
efforts made by the Woman's Christian Temperance Union of Japan in
calling the attention of the public to this custom, and in arousing
public sentiment in favor of legislation against not only this system,
but against the licensed houses of prostitution. Though there has not
yet been any practical result, much discussion has ensued in the
newspapers and magazines, lectures have been given, and much strong
feeling aroused, which may, before long, produce radical change.

Upon the 11th day of February, 1889, the day on which the Emperor, by
his own act in giving a constitution to the people, limited his own
power for the sake of putting his nation upon a level with the most
civilized nations of the earth, he at the same time, and for the first
time, publicly placed his wife upon his own level. In an imperial
progress made through the streets of Tōkyō, the Emperor and Empress, for
the first time in the history of Japan, rode together in the imperial
coach.[*115] Until then, the Emperor, attended by his chief
gentlemen-in-waiting and his guards, had always headed the procession,
while the Empress must follow at a distance with her own attendants.
That this act on the part of the Emperor signifies the beginning of a
new and better era for the women of Japan, we cannot but hope; for until
the position of the wife and mother in Japan is improved and made
secure, little permanence can be expected in the progress of the nation
toward what is best and highest in the Western civilization. Better
laws, broader education for the women, a change in public opinion on the
subject, caused by the study, by the men educated abroad, of the homes
of Europe and America,--these are the forces which alone can bring the
women of Japan up to that place in the home which their intellectual and
moral qualities fit them to fill. That Japan is infinitely ahead of
other Oriental countries in her practices in this matter is greatly to
her credit; but that she is far behind the civilized nations of Europe
and America, not only in practice but in theory, is a fact that is
incontestable, and a fact that, unless changed, must sooner or later be
a stumbling-block in the path of her progress toward the highest
civilization of which she is capable.[21] The European practice cannot
be grafted upon the Asiatic theory, but the change in the home must be a
radical one, to secure permanent good results. As long as the wife has
no rights which the husband is bound to respect, no great advance can
be made, for human nature is too mean and selfish to give in all cases
to those who are entirely unprotected by law, and entirely unable to
protect themselves, those things which the moral nature declares to be
their due. In the old slave times in the South, many of the negroes were
better fed, better cared for, and happier than they are to-day; but they
were nevertheless at the mercy of men who too often thought only of
themselves, and not of the human bodies and souls over which they had
unlimited power. It was a condition of things that could not be
prevented by educating the masters so as to induce them to be kind to
their slaves; it was a condition that was wrong in theory, and so could
not be righted in practice. In the same way the position of the Japanese
wife is wrong in theory, and can never be righted until legislation has
given to her rights which it still denies. Education will but aggravate
the trouble to a point beyond endurance. The giving to the wife power to
obtain a divorce will not help much, but simply tend to weaken still
further the marriage tie. Nothing can help surely and permanently but
the growth of a sound public opinion, in regard to the position of the
wife, that will, sooner or later, have its effect upon the laws of the
country. Legislation once effected, all the rest will come, and the
wife, secure in her home and her children, will be at the point where
her new education can be of use to her in the administration of her
domestic affairs and the training of her children; and where she will
finally become the friend and companion of her husband, instead of his
mere waitress, seamstress, and housekeeper,--the plaything of his
leisure moments, too often the victim of his caprices.

[21] Many of the thinking men of Japan, though fully recognizing the
injustice of the present position of woman in society, and the necessity
of reform in the marriage and divorce laws, refuse to see the importance
of any movement to change them. Their excuse is, that such power in the
hands of the husband over his wife might be abused, but that in fact it
is not. Wrongs and injustice are rare, they argue, and kind treatment,
affection, and even respect for the wife is the general rule; and that
the keeping of the power in the hands of the husband is better than
giving too much freedom to women who are without education. These men
wish to wait until every woman is educated, before acting in a reform
movement, while many conservatives oppose the new system of education
for girls as making them unwomanly. Between these two parties, the few
who really wish for a change are utterly unable to act.



No Japanese woman is ashamed to show that she is getting along in years,
but all take pains that every detail of the dress and coiffure shall
show the full age of the wearer. The baby girl is dressed in the
brightest of colors and the largest of patterns, and looks like a gay
butterfly or tropical bird. As she grows older, colors become quieter,
figures smaller, stripes narrower, until in old age she becomes a little
gray moth or plain-colored sparrow. By the sophisticated eye, a woman's
age can be told with considerable accuracy by the various little things
about her costume,[22] and no woman cares to appear younger than her
real age, or hesitates to tell with entire frankness the number of years
that have passed over her head.

[22] Children wear their hair on top of their heads while very young,
and the manner of arranging it is one of the distinctive marks of the
age of the child. The _marumagé_, the style of headdress of married
ladies, consisting of a large puff of hair on the top of the head,
diminishes in size with the age of the wearer until, at sixty or
seventy, it is not more than a few inches in width. The number, size,
and variety of ornamental hairpins, and the tortoise-shell comb worn in
front, all vary with the age.

The reason for this lies, at least in part, in the fact that every woman
looks forward to the period of old age as the time when she will attain
freedom from her life-long service to those about her,--will be in the
position of adviser of her sons, and director of her daughters-in-law;
will be a person of much consideration in the family, privileged to
amuse herself in various ways, to speak her own mind on most subjects,
and to be waited upon and cared for by children and grandchildren, in
return for her long years of faithful service in the household. Should
her sight and other bodily powers remain good, she will doubtless
perform many light tasks for the general good, will seldom sit idle by
herself, but will help about the sewing and mending, the marketing,
shopping, housework, and care of the babies, tell stories to her
grandchildren after their lessons are learned, give the benefit of her
years of experience to the young people who are still bearing the heat
and burden of the day, and, by her prayers and visits to the temple at
stated seasons, will secure the favor of the gods for the whole family,
as well as make her own preparations for entry into the great unknown
toward which she is rapidly drifting. Is there wonder that the young
wife, steering her course with difficulty among the many shoals and
whirlpools of early married life, looks forward with anticipation to the
period of comparative rest and security that comes at the end of the
voyage? As she bears all things, endures all things, suffers long, and
is kind, as she serves her mother-in-law, manages her husband's
household, cares for her babies, the thought that cheers and encourages
her in her busy and not too happy life is the thought of the sunny calm
of old age, when she can lay her burdens and cares on younger shoulders,
and bask in the warmth and sunshine which this Indian Summer of her life
will bring to her.

In the code of morals of the Japanese, obedience to father, husband, or
son is exalted into the chief womanly virtue, but the obedience and
respect of children, both male and female, to their parents, also
occupies a prominent position in their ethical system. Hence, in this
latter stage of a woman's career, the obedience expected of her is
often only nominal, and in any case is not so absolute and unquestioning
as that of the early period; and the consideration and respect that a
son is bound to show to his mother necessitates a care of her comfort,
and a consultation of her wishes, that renders her position one of much
greater freedom than can be obtained by any woman earlier in life. She
has, besides, reached an age when she is not expected to remain at home,
and she may go out into the streets, to the theatre, or other shows,
without the least restraint or fear of losing her dignity.

A Japanese woman loses her beauty early. At thirty-five her fresh color
is usually entirely gone, her eyes have begun to sink a little in their
sockets, her youthful roundness and symmetry of figure have given place
to an absolute leanness, her abundant black hair has grown thin, and
much care and anxiety have given her face a pathetic expression of quiet
endurance. One seldom sees a face that indicates a soured temper or a
cross disposition, but the lines that show themselves as the years go by
are lines that indicate suffering and disappointment, patiently and
sweetly borne. The lips never forget to smile; the voice remains always
cheerful and sympathetic, never grows peevish and worried, as is too
often the case with overworked or disappointed women in this country.
But youth with its hopeful outlook, its plans and its ambitions, gives
way to age with its peaceful waiting for the end, with only a brief
struggle for its place; and the woman of thirty-five is just at the
point when she has bid good-by to her youth, and, having little to hope
for in her middle life, is doing her work faithfully, and looking
forward to an old age of privilege and authority, the mistress of her
son's house, and the ruler of the little domain of home.

But I have spoken so far only of those happy women whose sons grow to
maturity, and who manage to evade the dangerous reefs of divorce upon
which so many lives are shipwrecked. What becomes of the hundreds who
have no children to rise up and call them blessed, but who have in old
age to live as dependents upon their brothers or nephews? Even these,
who in this country often lead hard and unrewarded lives of toil among
their happier relatives, find in old age a pleasanter lot than that of
youth. Many such old ladies I have met, whose short hair or shaven heads
proclaim to all who see them that the sorrow of widowhood has taken from
them the joy that falls to other women, but whose cheerful, wrinkled
faces and happy, childlike ways have given one a feeling of pleasure
that the sorrow is past, and peace and rest have come to their declining
years. Fulfilling what little household tasks they can, respected and
self-respecting members of the household, the _O Bă San_, or Aunty, is
not far removed in the honor and affection of the children from the _O
Bā San_, or Grandma, but both alike find a peaceful shelter in the homes
of those nearest and dearest to them.

One of the happiest old ladies I have ever seen was one who had had a
rough and stormy life. The mother of many children, most of whom had
died in infancy, she was at last left childless and a widow. In her
children's death the last tie that bound her to her husband's family was
broken, and, rather than be a burden to them, she made her home for many
years with her own younger brother, taking up again the many cares and
duties of a mother's life in sharing with the mother the bringing up of
a large family of children. One by one, from the oldest to the youngest,
each has learned to love the old aunty, to be lulled asleep on her back,
and to go to her in trouble when mother's hands were too full of work.
Many the caress received, the drives and walks enjoyed in her company,
the toys and candies that came out unexpectedly from the depths of
mysterious drawers, to comfort many an hour of childish grief. That was
years ago, and the old aunty's hard times are nearly over. Hale and
hearty at three-score years and ten, she has seen these children grow up
one by one, until now some have gone to new homes of their own. Her bent
form and wrinkled face are ever welcome to her children,--hers by the
right of years of patient care and toil for them. They now, in their
turn, enjoy giving her pleasure, and return to her all the love she has
lavished upon them. It is a joy to see her childlike pride and
confidence in them all, and to know that they have filled the place left
vacant by the dead with whom had died all her hopes of earthly

The old women of Japan,--how their withered faces, bent frames, and
shrunken, yellow hands abide in one's memory! One seldom sees among them
what we would call beauty, for the almost universal shrinking with age
that takes place among the Japanese covers the face with multitudinous
wrinkles, and produces the effect of a withered russet apple; for the
skin, which in youth is usually brightened by red cheeks and glossy
black hair, in old age, when color leaves cheek and hair, has a
curiously yellow and parchment-like look. But with all their wrinkles
and ugliness, there is a peculiar charm about the old women of Japan.

In Tōkyō, when the grass grows long upon your lawn, and you send to the
gardener to come and cut it, no boy with patent lawn-mower, nor stalwart
countryman with scythe and sickle, answers your summons, but some
morning you awake to find your lawn covered with old women. The
much-washed cotton garments are faded to a light blue, the exact match
of the light blue cotton towels in which their heads are swathed, and on
hands and knees, each armed with an enormous pair of shears, the old
ladies clip and chatter cheerfully all day long, until the lawn is as
smooth as velvet under their careful cutting. An occasional rest under a
tree, for pipes and tea, is the time for much cheerful talk and gossip;
but the work, though done slowly and with due attention to the comfort
of the worker, is well done, and certainly accomplished as rapidly as
any one could expect of laborers who earn only from eight to twelve
cents a day. Another employment for this same class of laborers is the
picking of moss and grass from the crevices of the great walls that
inclose the moats and embankments of the capital. Mounted on little
ladders, they pick and scrape with knives until the wall is clear and
fresh, with no insidious growth to push the great uncemented stones out
of their places.

In contrast with these humble but cheerful toilers may be mentioned
another class of women, often met with in the great cities. Dressed in
rags and with covered heads and faces, they wander about the streets
playing the _samisen_ outside the latticed windows, and singing with
cracked voices some wailing melody. As they go from house to house,
gaining a miserable pittance by their weird music, they seem the
embodiment of all that is hopeless and broken-hearted. What they are or
whence they come, I know not, but they always remind me of the
grasshopper in the fable, who danced and sang through the brief summer,
to come, wailing and wretched, seeking aid from her thriftier neighbor
when at last the winter closed in upon her.

As one rides about the streets, one often sees a little, white-haired
old woman trotting about with a yoke over her shoulders from which are
suspended two swinging baskets, filled with fresh vegetables. The fact
that her hair is still growing to its natural length shows that she is
still a wife and not a widow; her worn and patched blue cotton clothes,
bleached light from much washing, show that extreme poverty is her lot
in life; and as she hobbles along with the gait peculiar to those who
carry a yoke, my thoughts are busy with her home, which, though poor and
small, is doubtless clean and comfortable, but my eye follows her
through the city's crowd, where laborer, soldier, student, and high
official jostle each other by the way. Suddenly I see her pause before
the gateway of a temple. She sets her burden down, and there in the
midst of the bustling throng, with bowed head, folded hands, and moving
lips, she invokes her god, snatching this moment from her busy life to
seek a blessing for herself and her dear ones. The throng moves busily
on, making a little eddy around the burden she has laid down, but paying
no heed to the devout little figure standing there; then in a moment the
prayer is finished; she stoops, picks up her yoke, balances it on her
shoulders, and moves on with the crowd, to do her share while her
strength lasts, and to be cared for tenderly, I doubt not, by children
and children's children when her work is done.

Another picture comes to me, too, a picture of one whose memory is an
inspiring thought to the many who have the honor to call her "mother." A
stately old lady, left a widow many years ago, before the recent changes
had wrought havoc preparatory to further progress, she seemed always to
me the model of a mother of the old school. Herself a woman of thorough
classical education, her example and teaching were to both sons and
daughters a constant inspiration; and in her old age she found herself
the honored head of a family well known in the arts of war and peace, a
goodly company of sons and daughters, every one of them heirs of her
spirit and of her intellect. Though conservative herself, and always
clinging to the old customs, she put no block in the path of her
children's progress, and her fine character, heroic spirit, and stanch
loyalty to what she believed were worth more to her children than
anything else could have been. Tried by war, by siege, by banishment, by
danger and sufferings of all kinds, to her was given at last an old age
of prosperity among children of whom she might well be proud. Keeping
her physical vigor to the end, and dying at last, after an illness of
only two days, her spirit passed out into the great unknown, ready to
meet its dangers as bravely as she had met those of earth, or to enjoy
its rest as sweetly and appreciatively as she had enjoyed that of her
old age in the house of her oldest son.

My acquaintance with her was limited by our lack of common language, but
was a most admiring and appreciative one on my side; and I esteem it one
of the chief honors of my stay in Japan, that upon my last meeting with
her, two weeks before her death, she gave me her wrinkled but still
beautiful and delicately shaped hand at parting,--a deference to foreign
customs that she only paid upon special occasions.

Two weeks later, amid such rain as Japanese skies know all too well how
to let fall, I attended her funeral at the cemetery of Aoyama. The
cemetery chapel was crowded, but a place was reserved for me, on account
of special ties that bound me to the family, just behind the long line
of white-robed mourners. In the Buddhist faith she had lived, and by the
Buddhist ceremonial she was buried,--the chanted ritual, the gorgeously
robed priests, and the heavy smell of incense in the air reminding one
of a Roman Catholic ceremony. The white wooden coffin was placed upon a
bier at the entrance to the chapel, and when the priests had done their
work, and the ecclesiastical ceremony was over, the relatives arose, one
by one, walked over to the coffin, bowed low before it, and placed a
grain of incense upon the little censer that stood on a table before
the bier, then, bowing again, retired to their places. Slowly and
solemnly, from the tall soldier son, his hair already streaked with
gray, to the two-year-old grandchild, all paid this last token of
respect to a noble spirit; and after the relatives the guests, each in
the order of rank or nearness to the deceased, stepped forward and
performed the same ceremony before leaving the room. What the meaning of
the rite was, I did not know, whether a worship of strange gods or no;
but to me, as I performed the act, it only signified the honor in which
I held the memory of a heroic woman who had done well her part in the
world according to the light that God had given her.

Japanese art loves to picture the old woman with her kindly, wrinkled
face, leaving out no wrinkle of them all, but giving with equal
truthfulness the charm of expression that one finds in them. Long life
is desired by all as passionately as by ancient Hebrew poet and
psalmist, and with good reason, for only by long life can a woman attain
the greatest honor and happiness. We often exclaim in impatience at the
thought of the weakness and dependence of old age, and pray that we may
die in the fullness of our powers, before the decay of advancing years
has made us a burden upon our friends. But in Japan, dependence is the
lot of woman, and the dependence of old age is that which is most
respected and considered. An aged parent is never a burden, is treated
by all with the greatest love and tenderness; and if times are hard, and
food and other comforts are scarce, the children, as a matter of course,
deprive themselves and their children to give ungrudgingly to their old
father and mother. Faults there are many in the Japanese social system,
but ingratitude to parents, or disrespect to the aged, must not be named
among them; and Young America may learn a salutary lesson by the study
of the place that old people occupy in the home.

It is not only for the women of Japan, but for the men as well, that old
age is a time of peace and happiness. When a man reaches the age of
fifty or thereabouts, often while apparently in the height of his vigor,
he gives up his work or business and retires, leaving all the property
and income to the care of his eldest son, upon whom he becomes entirely
dependent for his support.[23] This support is never begrudged him, for
the care of parents by their children is as much a matter of course in
Japan as the care of children by those who give them birth. A man thus
rarely makes provision for the future, and looks with scorn on foreign
customs which seem to betoken a fear lest, in old age, ungrateful
children may neglect their parents and cast them aside. The feeling, so
strong in America, that dependence is of itself irksome and a thing to
be dreaded, is altogether strange to the Japanese mind. The married son
does not care to take his wife to a new and independent home of his own,
and to support her and her children by his own labor or on his own
income, but he takes her to his father's house, and thinks it no shame
that his family live upon his parents. But in return, when the parents
wish to retire from active life, the son takes upon himself ungrudgingly
the burden of their support, and the bread of dependence is never
bitter to the parents' lips, for it is given freely. To the time-honored
European belief, that a young man must be independent and enterprising
in early life in order to lay by for old age, the Japanese will answer
that children in Japan are taught to love their parents rather than ease
and luxury, and that care for the future is not the necessity that it is
in Europe and America, where money is above everything else,--even
filial love. This habit of thought may account for the utter want of
provision for the future, and the disregard for things pertaining to the
accumulation of wealth, which often strikes curiously the foreigner in
Japan. A Japanese considers his provision for the future made when he
has brought up and educated for usefulness a large family of children.
He invests his capital in their support and education, secure of
bountiful returns in their gratitude and care for his old age. It is
hard for the men of old Japan to understand the rush and struggle for
riches in America,--a struggle that too often leaves not a pause for
rest or quiet pleasure until sickness or death overtakes the
indefatigable worker. The _go inkyo_[24] of Japan is glad enough to lay
down early in life the cares of the world, to have a few years of calm
and peace, undisturbed by responsibilities or cares for outside matters.
If he be an artist or a poet, he may, uninterrupted, spend his days with
his beloved art. If he is fond of the ceremonial tea, he has whole
afternoons that he may devote to this æsthetic repast; and even if he
has none of these higher tastes, he will always have congenial friends
who are ready to share the _saké_ bottle, to join in a quiet smoke over
the _hibachi_, or to play the deep-engrossing game of _go_, or _shogi_,
the Japanese chess. To the Japanese mind, to be in the company of a few
kindred souls, to spend the long hours of a summer's afternoon at the
ceremonial tea party, sipping tea and conversing in a leisurely manner
on various subjects, is an enjoyment second to none. A cultivated
Japanese of the old times must receive an education fitting him
especially for such pursuits. At these meetings of friends,
artistically or poetically inclined, the time is spent in making poems
and exchanging wittily turned sentiments, to be read, commented on, and
responded to; or in the making of drawings, with a few bold strokes of
the brush, in illustration of some subject given out. Such enjoyments as
these, the Japanese believe, cannot be appreciated or even understood by
the practical, rush-ahead American, the product of the wonderful but
material civilization of the West.

[23] It is this custom of going into early retirement that made it
possible for the nobles in old times to keep the Emperor always a child.
The ruling Emperor would be induced to retire from the throne at the age
of sixteen or twenty; thus making room for some baby, who would be in
his turn the puppet of his ambitious courtiers.

[24] _Go Inkyo Sama_ is the title belonging to a retired old gentleman
or old lady. _Inkyo_ is the name of the house or suite of rooms set
apart for such a person, and the title itself is made up of this word
with the Chinese honorific _go_ and the title _Sama_, the same as _San_,
used in addressing all persons except inferiors.

Thus, amid enjoyments and easy labors suited to their closing years, the
elder couple spend their days with the young people, cared for and
protected by them. Sometimes there will be a separate suite of rooms
provided for them; sometimes a little house away from the noises of the
household, and separated from the main building by a well-kept little
garden. In any case, as long as they live they will spend their days in
quiet and peace; and it is to this haven, the _inkyo_, that all Japanese
look forward, as to the time when they may carry out their own
inclinations and tastes with an income provided for the rest of their



The court of the Emperor was, in the early ages of Japan, the centre of
whatever culture and refinement the country could boast, and the
emperors themselves took an active part in the promotion of
civilization. The earliest history of Japan is so wrapped in the mists
of legend and tradition that only here and there do we get glimpses of
heroic figures,--leaders in those early days. Demigods they seem,
children of Heaven, receiving from Heaven by special revelation the
wisdom or strength by means of which they conquered their enemies, or
gave to their subjects new arts and better laws. The traditional
emperors, the early descendants of the great Jimmu Tenno,[25] seem to
have been merely conquering chieftains, who by virtue of their descent
were regarded as divine, but who lived the simple, hardy life of the
savage king, surrounded by wives and concubines, done homage to by armed
retainers and subject chiefs, but living in rude huts, and moving in and
out among the soldiers, not in the least retired into the mysterious
solitude which in later days enveloped the Son of the Gods. The first
emperors ruled not only by divine right, but by personal force and
valor; and the stories of the valiant deeds of these early rulers kept
strong the faith of the people in the divine qualities of the imperial
house during the hundreds of years when the Emperor was a mere puppet in
the hands of ambitious and powerful nobles.

[25] The Japanese claim for their present Emperor direct descent from
Jimmu Tenno, the Son of the Gods; and it is for this reason that the
Emperor is supposed to be divine, and the representative of the gods on
the earth. The dynasty, for about twenty-five hundred years since Jimmu
Tenno, has never been broken. It must, however, be said in connection
with this statement, that the Japanese family is a much looser
organization than that known to our Western civilization, on account of
the customs of concubinage and adoption, and that descent through family
lines is not necessarily actual descent by blood.

Towards the end of this legendary period, a figure comes into view that
for heroic qualities cannot be excelled in the annals of any
nation,--Jingo Kōgō, the conqueror of Corea, who alone, among the nine
female rulers of Japan, has made an era in the national history. She
seems to have been from the beginning, like Jeanne D'Arc, a hearer of
divine voices; and through her was conveyed to her unbelieving husband a
divine command, to take ship and sail westward to the conquest of an
unknown land. Her husband questioned the authenticity of the message,
took the earthly and practical view that, as there was no land to be
seen in the westward, there could be no land there, and refused to
organize any expedition in fulfillment of the command; but for his
unbelief was sternly told that he should never see the land, but that
his wife should conquer it for the son whom she should bear after the
father's death. This message from the gods was fulfilled. The Emperor
died in battle shortly after, and the Empress, after suppressing the
rebellion in which her husband had been killed, proceeded to organize an
expedition for the conquest of the unknown land beyond the western sea.
By as many signs as those required by Gideon to assure himself of his
divine mission, the Empress tested the call that had come to her, but at
last, satisfied that the voices were from Heaven, she gave her orders
for the collection of troops and the building of a navy. I quote from
Griffis the inspiring words with which she addressed her generals: "The
safety or destruction of our country depends upon this enterprise. I
intrust the details to you. It will be your fault if they are not
carried out. I am a woman and young. I shall disguise myself as a man,
and undertake this gallant expedition, trusting to the gods and to my
troops and captains. We shall acquire a wealthy country. The glory is
yours, if we succeed; if we fail, the guilt and disgrace shall be mine."
What wonder that her captains responded to such an appeal, and that the
work of recruiting and shipbuilding began with a will! It was a long
preparation that was required--sometimes, to the impatient woman, it
seemed unnecessarily slow--but by continual prayer and offerings she
appealed to the gods for aid; and at last all was ready, and the brave
array of ships set sail for the unknown shore, the Empress feeling
within her the new inspiration of hope for her babe as yet unborn.
Heaven smiled upon them from the start. The clearest of skies, the most
favoring of breezes, the smoothest of seas, favored the god-sent
expedition; and tradition says that even the fishes swarmed in shoals
about their keels, and carried them on to their desired haven. The fleet
ran safely across to southern Corea, but instead of finding battles and
struggles awaiting them, the king of the country met them on the beach
to receive and tender allegiance to the invaders, whose unexpected
appearance from the unexplored East had led the natives to believe that
their gods had forsaken them. The expedition returned laden with vast
wealth, not the spoil of battle, but the peaceful tribute of a bloodless
victory; and from that time forward Japan, through Corea, and later by
direct contact with China itself, began to receive and assimilate the
civilization, arts, and religions of China. Thus through a woman Japan
received the start along the line of progress which made her what she is
to-day, for the sequel of Jingo Kōgō's Corean expedition was the
introduction of almost everything which we regard as peculiar to
civilized countries. With characteristic belittling of the woman and
exalting of the man, the whole martial career of the Empress is
ascribed to the influence of her son as yet unborn,--a son who by his
valor and prowess has secured for his deified spirit the position of God
of War in the Japanese pantheon. We should say that pre-natal influences
and heredity produced the heroic son; the Japanese reason from the other
end, and show that all the noble qualities of the mother were produced
by the influence of the unborn babe.

With the introduction of literature, art, and Buddhism, a change took
place in the relations of the court to the people. About the Emperor's
throne there gathered not only soldiers and governors, but the learned,
the accomplished, the witty, the artistic, who found in the Emperor and
the court nobles munificent patrons by whom they were supported, and
before whom they laid whatever pearls they were able to produce. The new
culture sought not the clash of arms and the shout of soldiers, but the
quiet and refinement of palaces and gardens far removed from the noise
and clamor of the world. And while emperors sought to encourage the new
learning and civilization, and to soften the warlike qualities of the
people about them, there was a frontier along which the savages still
made raids into the territory which the Japanese had wrested from them,
and which it required a strong arm and a quick hand to guard for the
defense of the people. But the Emperor gradually gave up the personal
leadership in war, and passed the duty of defending the nation into the
hands of one or another of the great noble families. The nobles were not
by any means slow to see the advantage to be gained for themselves by
the possession of the military power in an age when might made right,
even more than it does to-day, and when force, used judiciously and with
proper deference to the prejudices of the people, could be made to give
to its possessor power even over the Emperor himself. And so gradually,
in the pursuit of the new culture and the new religion, the emperors
withdrew themselves more and more into seclusion, and the court became a
little world in itself,--a centre of culture and refinement into which
few excitements of war or politics ever came. While the great nobles
wrangled for the possession of the power, schemed and fought and turned
the nation upside down; while the heroes of the country rose, lived,
fought, and died,--the Emperor, amid his ladies and his courtiers, his
priests and his literary men, spent his life in a world of his own;
thinking more of this pair of bright eyes, that new and charming poem,
the other witty saying of those about him, than of the kingdom that he
ruled by divine right; and retiring, after ten years or so of puppet
kinghood, from the seclusion of his court to the deeper seclusion of
some Buddhist monastery.

Within the sacred precincts of the court, much time was given to such
games and pastimes as were not too rude or noisy for the refinement that
the new culture brought with it. Polo, football, hunting with falcons,
archery, etc., were exercises not unworthy of even the most refined of
gentlemen, and certain noble families were trained hereditarily in the
execution of certain stately, antique dances, many of them of Chinese or
Corean origin. The ladies, in trailing garments and with flowing hair,
reaching often below the knees, played a not inconspicuous part, not
only because of their beauty and grace, but for their quickness of wit,
their learning in the classics, their skill in repartee, and their
quaint fancies, which they embodied in poetic form.[26]

[26] In ancient times, before the long civil wars of the Middle Ages,
much attention was given by both men and women to poetry, and many of
the classics of Japanese literature are the works of women. Among these
distinguished writers can be mentioned Murasaki Shikibu, Seishō Nagon,
and Iséno Taiyu, all court ladies in the time of the Emperor Ichijō
(about 1000 A. D.). The court at that time was the centre of learning,
and much encouragement was given by the Emperor to literary pursuits,
the cultivation of poetry, and music. The Emperor gathered around him
talented men and women, but the great works that remain are, strange to
say, mostly those of women.

Much attention was given to that harmony of art with nature that the
Japanese taste makes the _sine qua non_ of all true artistic effort. The
gorgeously embroidered gowns must change with the changing season, so
that the cherry succeeds the plum, the wistaria the cherry, and so on
through the whole calendar of flowers, upon the silken robes of the
court, as regularly as in the garden that graces the palace grounds. And
so with the confectionery, which in Japan is made in dainty imitation of
flowers and fruits. The chrysanthemum blooms in sugar no earlier than
on its own stalk; the little golden orange, with its dark green leaves,
is on the confectioner's list in winter, when the real orange is yellow
on its tree. The very decorations of the palace must be changed with the
changing of the months; and _kakémono_ and vase are alternately stored
in the _kura_ and brought out to decorate the room, according as their
designs seem in harmony with the mood of Nature. This effort to
harmonize Nature and Art is seen to-day, not only in the splendid
furnishings of the court, but all through the decorative art of Japan.
In every house the decorations are changed to suit the changing seasons.

Through the years when Japan was adopting the civilization of China, a
danger threatened the nation,--the same danger that threatens it to-day:
it was the danger lest the adoption of so much that was foreign should
result in a servile copying of all that was not Japanese, and lest the
introduction of literature, art, and numerous hitherto unknown luxuries
should take from the people their independence, patriotism, and
manliness. But this result was happily avoided; and at a time when the
language was in danger of being swept almost out of existence by the
introduction of Chinese learning through Chinese letters, the women of
Japan, not only in their homes and conversation, but in the poetry and
lighter literature of the country, preserved a strain of pure and
graceful Japanese, and produced some of the standard works of a
distinctly national literature. Favor at court to-day, as in the olden
times, is the reward, not of mere rank, beauty, and grace of person, but
must be obtained through the same intellectual endowments, polished by
years of education, that made so many women famous in the mediæval
history of Japan. Many court ladies have read much of their national
literature, so that they are able to appreciate the _bonmots_ which
contain allusions in many cases to old poems, or plays on words; and are
able to write and present to others, at fitting times, those graceful
but untranslatable turns of phrase which form the bulk of Japanese
poetry.[27] Even in this busy era of Méiji,[28] the Emperor and his
court keep up the old-time customs, and strive to promote a love of the
beautiful poetry of Japan. At each New Year some subject appropriate to
the time is chosen and publicly announced. Poems may be written upon
this subject by any one in the whole realm, and may be sent to the
palace before a certain date fixed as the time for closing the list of
competitors. All the poems thus sent are examined by competent judges,
who select the best five and send them to the Emperor, an honor more
desired by the writers than the most favorable of reviews or the largest
of emoluments are desired by American poets. Many of the other poems are
published in the newspapers. It is interesting to note that many of the
prominent men and women of the country are known as competitors, and
that many of the court ladies join in the contest.

[27] The court ladies in immediate contact with the Emperor and Empress
are selected from the daughters of the nobles. Only in the present reign
have a few samurai women risen to high positions at court on account of
special talents.

[28] _Méiji_ (Enlightened Rule) is the name of the era that began with
the present Emperor's accession to the throne. The year A. D. 1890 is
the twenty-third year of Méiji, and would be so designated in all
Japanese dates.

There are also, at the palace, frequent meetings of the poets and lovers
of poetry connected with the court. At these meetings poems are
composed for the entertainment of the Emperor and Empress, as well as
for the amusement of the poets themselves.

In the school recently established for the daughters of the nobles,
under the charge of the imperial household, much attention is given to
the work of thoroughly grounding the scholars in the Japanese language
and literature, and also to making them skillful in the art of composing
poetry. At the head of the school, in the highest position held by any
woman in the employ of the government, is a former court lady, who is
second to none in the kingdom, not only in her knowledge of all that
belongs to court etiquette, but in her study of the history and
literature of her own people, and in her skill in the composition of
these dainty poems. A year or two ago, when one of the scholars in the
school died after a brief decline, her schoolmates, teachers, and school
friends wrote poems upon her death, which they sent to the bereaved

It is difficult for any Japanese, much more so for a foreigner, to
penetrate into the seclusion of the palace and see anything of the life
there, except what is shown to the public in the occasional
entertainments given at court, such as formal receptions and dinner
parties. In 1889, the new palace, built on the site of the old Tokugawa
Castle, burnt seventeen years ago, was finally completed; and it was my
privilege to see, before the removal of the court, not only the grand
reception rooms, throne-room, and dining-room, but also the private
apartments of the Emperor and Empress. The palace is built in Japanese
style, surrounded by the old castle moats, but there are many foreign
additions to the palace and grounds. It is heated and lighted in foreign
style, and the larger rooms are all furnished after the magnificent
manner of European palaces; while the lacquer work, carvings, and
gorgeous paneled ceilings remind one of the finest of Japanese temples.
The private apartments of the Emperor and Empress are, on the other
hand, most simple, and in thorough Japanese style; and though the
woodwork and polished floors of the corridors are very beautiful, the
paintings and lacquer work most exquisite, there is little in this
simplicity to denote the abode of royalty. It seems that their
majesties, though outwardly conforming to many European customs, and to
the European manner of dress, prefer to live in Japanese ways, on
matted, not carpeted floors, reposing on them rather than on chairs and

Their apartments are not large; each suite consisting of three rooms
opening out of each other, the Empress's rooms being slightly smaller
than the Emperor's, and those of the young Prince Haru, the heir
apparent, again a little smaller. The young prince has a residence of
his own, and it is only on his visits that he occupies his apartments in
his father's palace. There are also rooms for the Empress dowager to
occupy on her occasional visits. All of these apartments are quite close
together in one part of the palace, and are connected by halls; but the
private rooms of the court ladies are in an entirely separate place,
quite removed, and only connected with the main building by a long,
narrow passageway, running through the garden. There, in the rooms
assigned to them, each one has her own private establishment, where she
stays when she is not on duty in attendance on the Emperor and Empress.
Each lady has her own servants, and sometimes a younger sister or a
dependent may be living there with her, though they are entirely
separate from the court and the life there, and must never be seen in
any of the other parts of the building. In these rooms, which are like
little homes in themselves, cooking and housekeeping are done, entirely
independent of the other parts of the great palace; and the tradesmen
find their way through some back gate to these little establishments,
supplying them with all the necessaries of life, as well as the

A court lady is a personage of distinction, and lives in comparative
ease and luxury, with plenty of servants to do all the necessary work.
Besides her salary, which of course varies with the rank and the duties
performed, but is always liberal enough to cover the necessary expenses
of dress, the court lady receives many presents from the Emperor and
Empress, which make her position one of much luxury.

The etiquette of the imperial household is very complicated and very
strict, though many of the formalities of the olden times have been
given up. The court ladies are models of conservatism. In order to be
trained for the life there and its duties, they usually enter the court
while mere children of ten or eleven, and serve apprenticeship to the
older members. In the rigid seclusion of the palace they are strictly,
almost severely, brought up, and trained in all the details of court
etiquette. Cut off from all outside influences while young, the little
court maidens are taught to go through an endless round of formalities
which they are made to think indispensable. These details of etiquette
extend not only to all that concerns the imperial household, but to
curious customs among themselves, and in regard to their own habits.
Many of these ideas have come down from one generation to another,
within the narrow limits of the court, so that the life there is a
curious world in itself, and very unlike that in ordinary Japanese

But among all the ladies of Japan to-day,--charming, intellectual,
refined, and lovely as many of them are,--there is no one nobler, more
accomplished, more beautiful in life and character, than the Empress
herself. The Emperor of Japan, though he may have many concubines, may
have but one wife, and she must be chosen out of one of the five highest
noble families.[29] Haru Ko, of the noble family of Ichijō, became
Empress in the year 1868, one year after her husband, then a boy of
seventeen, had ascended the throne, and the very year of the overthrow
of the Shōgunate,[30] and the restoration of the Emperor to actual
power and the leading part in the government. Reared amid the deep and
scholarly seclusion of the old court at Kyōto, the young Empress found
herself occupying a position very different from that for which she had
been educated,--a position the duties and responsibilities of which grow
more multifarious as the years go by. Instead of a life of rigid
seclusion, unseeing and unseen, the Empress has had to go forth into the
world, finding there the pleasures as well as the duties of actual
leadership. With the removal of the court to Tōkyō, and the reappearance
of the Emperor, in bodily form, before his people, there came new
opportunities for the Empress, and nobly has she used them. From the
time when, in 1871, she gave audience to the five little girls of the
samurai class who were just setting forth on a journey to America, there
to study and fit themselves to play a part in the Japan of the future,
on through twenty years of change and progress, the Empress Haru Ko has
done all that lay within her power to advance the women of her
country.[*157] Many stories are afloat which show the lovable character
of the woman, and which have given her an abiding place in the
affections of the people.

[29] The Empresses of Japan are not chosen from any branch of the
imperial family, but from among the daughters of the five of the great
_kugé_, or court nobles, who are next in rank to the imperial princes.
The choice usually rests with the Emperor or his advisers, and would be
naturally given to the most worthy, whether in beauty or accomplishments.
No doubt one reason why the Empress is regarded as far below the Emperor
is, that she is not of royal blood, but one of the subjects of the
Empire. In the old times, the daughters of the Emperor could never
marry, as all men were far beneath them in rank. These usually devoted
their lives to religion, and as Shintō priestesses or Buddhist nuns
dwelt in the retirement of temple courts or the seclusion of cloisters.

[30] Tokugawa Shōguns were the military rulers of the Tokugawa family,
who held the power in Japan for a period of two hundred and fifty years.
They are better known to Americans, perhaps, under the title of _Tycoon_
(Great Prince), a name assumed, or rather revived, to impress the
foreigners when Commodore Perry was negotiating in regard to treaties.
The Shōgun held the daimiōs in forced subjection,--a subjection that was
shaken in 1862, and broken at last in the year 1868, when, by the fall
of the Shōgunate, the Emperor was restored to direct power over his

Some years ago, when the castle in Tōkyō was burned, and the Emperor and
Empress were obliged to take refuge in an old daimiō's house, a place
entirely lacking in luxuries and considerably out of repair, some one
expressed to her the grief that all her people felt, that she should
have to put up with so many inconveniences. Her response was a graceful
little poem, in which she said that the narrowness of her abode would
not limit her love for her people, and that for them she would endeavor
to explore wisely the unlimited fields of knowledge.

Upon another occasion, when Prince Iwakura, one of the leaders of Japan
in the early days of the crisis through which the country is still
passing, lay dying at his home, the Empress sent him word that she was
coming to visit him. The prince, afraid that he could not do honor to
such a guest, sent her word back that he was very ill, and unable to
make proper preparation to entertain an Empress. To this the Empress
replied that he need make no preparations for her, for she was coming,
not as an Empress, but as the daughter of Ichijō, his old friend and
colleague, and as such he could receive her. And then, setting aside
imperial state and etiquette, she visited the dying statesman, and
brightened his last hours with the thought of how lovely a woman stood
as an example before the women of his beloved country.

Many of the charities and schools of new Japan are under the Empress's
special patronage; and this does not mean simply that she allows her
name to be used in connection with them, but it means that she thinks of
them, studies them, asks questions about them, and even practices little
economies that she may have the more money to give to them. There is a
charity hospital in Tōkyō, having in connection with it a training
school for nurses, that is one of the special objects of her care. Last
year she gave to it, at the end of the year, the savings from her own
private allowance, and concerning this act an editorial from the "Japan
Mail" speaks as follows:--

"The life of the Empress of Japan is an unvarying routine of faithful
duty-doing and earnest charity. The public, indeed, hears with a certain
listless indifference, engendered by habit, that her Majesty has visited
this school, or gone round the wards at that hospital. Such incidents
all seem to fall naturally into the routine of the imperial day's work.
Yet to the Empress the weariness of long hours spent in classrooms or in
laboratories, or by the beds of the sick, must soon become quite
intolerable did she not contrive, out of the goodness of her heart, to
retain a keen and kindly interest in everything that concerns the
welfare of her subjects. That her Majesty does feel this interest, and
that it grows rather than diminishes as the years go by, every one knows
who has been present on any of the innumerable occasions when the
promoters of some charity or the directors of some educational
institution have presented, with merciless precision, all the petty
details of their projects or organizations for the examination of the
imperial lady. The latest evidence of her Majesty's benevolence is,
however, more than usually striking. Since the founding of the Tōkyō
Charity Hospital, where so many poor women and children are treated, the
Empress has watched the institution closely, has bestowed on it
patronage of the most active and helpful character, and has contributed
handsomely to its funds. Little by little the hospital grew, extending
its sphere of action and enlarging its ministrations, until the need of
more capacious premises--a need familiar to such undertakings--began to
be strongly felt. The Empress, knowing this, cast about for some means
of assisting this project. To practice strict economy in her own
personal expenses, and to devote whatever money might thus be saved from
her yearly income to the aid of the hospital, appears to have suggested
itself to her Majesty as the most feasible method of procedure. The
result is, that a sum of 8,446 yen, 90 sen, and 8 rin has just been
handed over to Dr. Takagi, the chief promoter and mainstay of the
hospital, by Viscount Kagawa, one of her Majesty's chamberlains. There
is something picturesque about these sen and rin. They represent an
account minutely and faithfully kept between her Majesty's unavoidable
expenses and the benevolent impulse that constantly urged her to curtail
them. Such gracious acts of sterling effort command admiration and

Not very long ago, on one of her visits to the hospital, the Empress
visited the children's ward, and took with her toys, which she gave with
her own hand to each child there. When we consider that this hospital is
free to the poorest and lowest person in Tōkyō, and that twenty years
ago the persons of the Emperor and Empress were so sacred in the eyes of
the people that no one but the highest nobles and the near officials of
the court could come into their presence,--that even these high nobles
were received at court by the Emperor at a distance of many feet, and
his face even then could not be seen,--when we think of all this, we can
begin to appreciate what the Empress Haru has done in bridging the
distance between herself and her people so that the poorest child of a
beggar may receive a gift from her hand. In the country places to this
day, there are peasants who yet believe that no one can look on the
sacred face of the Emperor and live.

The school for the daughters of the nobles, to which I have before
referred, is an institution whose welfare the Empress has very closely
at heart, for she sees the need of rightly combining the new and the old
in the education of the young girls who will so soon be filling places
in the court. At the opening of the school the Empress was present, and
herself made a speech to the scholars; and her visits, at intervals of
one or two months, show her continued interest in the work that she has
begun. Upon all state occasions, the scholars, standing with bowed heads
as if in prayer, sing a little song written for them by the Empress
herself; and at the graduating exercises, the speeches and addresses are
listened to by her with the profoundest interest. The best specimens of
poetry, painting, and composition done by the scholars are sent to the
palace for her inspection, and some of these are kept by her in her own
private rooms. When she visits the class-rooms, she does not simply pass
in and pass out again, as if doing a formal duty, but sits for half an
hour or so listening intently, and watching the faces of the scholars
as they recite. In sewing and cooking classes (for the daughters of the
nobles are taught to sew and cook), she sometimes speaks to the
scholars, asking them questions. Upon one occasion she observed a young
princess, a newcomer in the school, working somewhat awkwardly with
needle and thimble. "The first time, Princess, is it not?" said the
Empress, smiling, and the embarrassed Princess was obliged to confess
that this was her first experience with those domestic implements.

Sometimes in her leisure hours--and they are rare in her busy life--the
Empress amuses herself by receiving the little daughters of some
imperial prince or nobleman, or even the children of some of the high
officials. In the kindness of her heart, she takes great pleasure in
seeing and talking to these little ones, some of whom are intensely awed
by being in the presence of the Empress, while others, in their
innocence, ignorant of all etiquette, prattle away unrestrainedly, to
the great entertainment of the court ladies as well as of the Empress
herself. These visits always end with some choice toy or gift, which
the child takes home and keeps among her most valued treasures in
remembrance of her imperial hostess. In this way the Empress relieves
the loneliness of the great palace, where the sound of childish voices
is seldom heard, for the Emperor's children are brought up in separate
establishments, and only pay occasional visits to the palace, until they
have passed early childhood.[31]

[31] The Emperor's children are placed, from birth, in the care of some
noble or high official, who becomes the guardian of the child. Certain
persons are appointed as attendants, and the child with its retinue
lives in the establishment of the guardian, who is supposed to exercise
his judgment and experience in the physical and mental training of the

The present life of the Empress is not very different from that of
European royalty. Her carriage and escort are frequently met with in the
streets of Tōkyō as she goes or returns on one of her numerous visits of
ceremony or beneficence. Policemen keep back the crowds of people who
always gather to see the imperial carriage, and stand respectfully, but
without demonstration, while the horsemen carrying the imperial
insignia, followed closely by the carriages of the Empress and her
attendants, pass by. The official Gazette announces almost daily visits
by the Emperor, Empress, or other members of the imperial family, to
different places of interest,--sometimes to various palaces in different
parts of Tōkyō, at other times to schools, charitable institutions or
exhibitions, as well as occasional visits to the homes of high officials
or nobles, for which great preparations are made by those who have the
honor of entertaining their Majesties.

Among the amusements within the palace grounds, one lately introduced,
and at present in high favor, is that of horseback-riding, an exercise
hitherto unknown to the ladies of Japan. The Empress and her ladies are
said to be very fond of this active exercise,--an amusement forming a
striking contrast to the quiet of former years.

The grounds about the palaces in Tōkyō are most beautifully laid out and
cultivated, but not in that artificial manner, with regular flower beds
and trees at certain equal distances, which is seen so often in the
highly cultivated grounds of the rich in this country. The landscape
gardening of Japan keeps unchanged the wildness and beauty of nature,
and imitates it closely. The famous flowers, however, are, in the
imperial gardens, changed by art and cultivated to their highest
perfection, blooming each season for the enjoyment of the members of the
court. Especially is attention given to the cultivation of the imperial
flower of Japan, the chrysanthemum; and some day in November, when this
flower is in its perfection, the gates of the Akasaka palace are thrown
open to invited guests, who are received in person by the Emperor and
Empress. Here the rarest species of this favorite flower, and the oddest
colors and shapes, the results of much care and cultivation, are
exhibited in spacious beds, shaded by temporary roofs of bamboo twigs
and decorated with the imperial flags. This is the great chrysanthemum
party of the Emperor, and another of similar character is given in the
spring under the flower-laden boughs of the cherry trees.

In these various ways the Empress shows herself to her people,--a
gracious and lovely figure, though distant, as she needs must be, from
common, every-day life. Only by glimpses do the people know her, but
those glimpses reveal enough to excite the warmest admiration, the most
tender love. Childless herself, destined to see a child not her own,
although her husband's, heir to the throne, the Empress devotes her
lonely and not too happy life to the actual, personal study of the wants
of daughters of her people, and side by side with Jingo,[32] the
majestic but shadowy Empress of the past, should be enshrined in the
hearts of the women of Japan the memory of Haru Ko, the leader of her
countrywomen into that freer and happier life that is opening to them.

[32] Jingo Kōgō, like many of the heroic, half mythical figures of other
nations, has suffered somewhat under the assaults of the modern
historical criticism. Many of the best Japanese historians deny that she
conquered Corea; some go so far as to doubt whether she had right to the
title of Empress; all are sure that much of romance has gathered about
the figure of this brave woman; but to the mass of the Japanese to-day,
she is still an actual historic reality, and she represents to them in
feminine form the Spirit of Japan. Whether she conquered Corea or no,
she remains the prominent female figure upon the border line where the
old barbaric life merges into the newer civilization, just as the
present Empress, Haru Ko, stands upon the border line between the
Eastern and the Western modes of thought and life.

Each marks the beginning of a new era,--the first, of the era of
civilization and morality founded upon the teachings of Buddha and
Confucius; the second, of the civilization and morality that have sprung
from the teachings of Christ. Buddhism and Confucianism were elevating
and civilizing, but failed to place the women of Japan upon even as high
a plane as they had occupied in the old barbaric times. To Christianity
they must look for the security and happiness which it has never failed
to give to the wives and mothers of all Christian nations.[*168]



The seclusion of the Emperors and the gathering of the reins of
government into the hands of Shōguns was a gradual process, beginning
not long after the introduction of Chinese civilization, and continuing
to grow until Iyéyasŭ, the founder of the Tokugawa dynasty, through his
code of laws, took from the Emperor the last vestige of real power, and
perfected the feudal system which maintained the sway of his house for
two hundred and fifty years of peace.

[33] _Yashiki_, or spread-out house, was the name given to the palace
and grounds of a daimiō's city residence, and also to the barracks
occupied by his retainers, both in city and country. In the city the
barracks of the samurai were built as a hollow square, in the centre of
which stood the palace and grounds of their lord, and this whole place
was the daimiō's _yashiki_. In the castle towns the daimiō's palace and
gardens stood within the castle inclosure, surrounded by a moat, while
the _yashikis_ of the samurai were placed without the moat. They in turn
were separated from the business part of the village sometimes by a
second or third moat. By life in castle and _yashiki_ we mean the life
of the daimiō, whether in city or country.

The Emperor's court, with its literary and æsthetic quiet, its
simplicity of life and complexity of etiquette, was the centre of the
culture and art of Japan, but never the centre of luxury. After the
growth of the Tokugawa power had secured for that house and its
retainers great hereditary possessions, the Emperor's court was a mere
shadow in the presence of the magnificence in which the Tokugawas and
the daimiōs chose to live. The wealth of the country was in the hands of
those who held the real power, and the Emperor was dependent for his
support upon his great vassal, who held the land, collected the taxes,
made the laws, and gave to his master whatever seemed necessary for his
maintenance in the simple style of the old days, keeping for himself and
for his retainers enough to make Yedo, the Tokugawa capital, the centre
of a luxury far surpassing anything ever seen at the Emperor's own
court. While the _kugé_, the old imperial nobility, formerly the
governors of the provinces under the Emperors, lived in respectable but
often extreme poverty at Kyōto, the landed nobility, or daimiōs,
brought, after many struggles, under the sway of the Tokugawas, built
for themselves palaces and pleasure gardens in the moated city of Yedo.
At Yedo with its castle, its gardens, its _yashikis_, and its
fortifications, was established a new court, more luxurious, but less
artistic and cultivated, than the old court of Kyōto. In the various
provinces, too, at every castle town, a little court arose about the
castle, and the daimiō became not only the feudal chief, but the patron
of literature and art among his people, as the years went by filling his
_kura_ with choice works of art, in lacquer, bronze, silver, and
pottery, to be brought out on special occasions. These nobles, under a
law of Iyémitsŭ, the third of the Tokugawa line, were compelled to spend
half of each year at the city of the Shōguns; and each had his
_yashiki_, or large house and garden, in the city. At this house, his
family must reside permanently, as hostages for the loyalty of their
lord while away. The annual journeys to and from Yedo were events not
only in the lives of the daimiōs and their trains of retainers, but in
the lives of the country people who lived along the roads by which they
must travel. The time and style of each journey for each daimiō were
rigidly prescribed in the laws of Iyémitsŭ, as well as the behavior of
the country people who might meet the procession moving towards Yedo, or
returning therefrom. When some noble, or any member of his family, was
to pass through a certain section of the country, great preparations
were made beforehand. Not only was traffic stopped along the route, but
every door and window had to be closed. By no means was any one to show
himself, or to look in any way upon the passing procession. To do so was
to commit a profane deed, punishable by a fine. Among other things, no
cooking was allowed on that day. All the food must be prepared the day
before, as the air was supposed to become polluted by the smoke from the
fires. Thus through crowded cities, full and busy with life, the daimiō
in his curtained palanquin, with numerous retinue, would pass by; but
wherever he approached, the place would be as deserted and silent as if
plague-stricken. It is hardly necessary to add that these journeys,
attended with so much ceremony and inconvenience to the people, were
not as frequent as the trips now taken, at a moment's notice, from one
city to another, by these very same men.

One story current in Tōkyō shows the narrowing effect of such seclusion.
A noble who had traveled into Yedo, across one of the large bridges
built over the Sumida River, remarked one day to his companions that he
was greatly disappointed on seeing that bridge. "From the pictures," he
said, "which I have seen, the bridge seemed alive with people, the
centre of life and activity, but the artists must exaggerate, for not a
soul was on the bridge when I passed by."

The castle of the Shōgun in Yedo, with its moats and fortifications, and
its fine house and great _kura_, was reproduced on a small scale in the
castles scattered through the country; and as in Yedo the _yashikis_ of
the daimiōs stood next to the inner moat of the castle, that the
retainers might be ready to defend their lord at his earliest call, so
in the provinces the _yashikis_ of the samurai occupied a similar
position about the daimiō's castle.

It is curious to see that, as the Shōgun took away the military and
temporal power of the Emperor, making of him only a figure-head without
real power, so, to a certain degree, the daimiō gave up, little by
little, the personal control of his own province, the power falling into
the hands of ambitious samurai, who became the councilors of their lord.
The samurai were the learned class and the military class; they were and
are the life of Japan; and it is no wonder that the nobles, protected
and shielded from the world, and growing up without much education,
should have changed in the course of centuries from strong, brave
warriors into the delicate, effeminate, luxury-loving nobles of the
present day. Upon the loyalty and wisdom of the samurai, often upon some
one man of undoubted ability, rested the greatness of the province and
the prosperity of the master's house.

The life of the ladies in these daimiōs' houses is still a living memory
to many of the older women of Japan; but it is a memory only, and has
given place to a different state of things. The Emperor occupies the
castle of the Shōgun to-day, and every daimiō's castle throughout the
country is in the hands of the imperial government. The old pleasure
gardens of the nobles are turned into arsenals, schools, public parks,
and other improvements of the new era. But here and there one finds some
conservative family of nobles still keeping up in some measure the
customs of former times; and daimiōs' houses there are still in Tōkyō,
though stripped of power and of retainers, where life goes on in many
ways much as it did in the old days. In such a house as this, one finds
ladies-in-waiting, of the samurai rank, who serve her ladyship--the
daimiō's wife--in all personal service. In the old days, the daughters
of the samurai were eager for the training in etiquette, and in all that
belongs to nice housekeeping, that might be obtained by a few years of
apprenticeship in a daimiō's house, and gladly assumed the most menial
positions for the sake of the education and reputation to be gained by
such training.

The wife and daughters of a daimiō led the quietest of lives, rarely
passing beyond the four great walls that inclose the palace with its
grounds. They saw the changes of the seasons in the flowers that bloomed
in their lovely gardens, when, followed by numerous attendants, they
slowly walked through the bamboo groves or under the bloom-laden boughs
of the plum or cherry trees, forming their views of life, its pleasures,
its responsibilities, and its meaning, within the narrow limits of the
daimiō's _yashiki_.

Their mornings were passed in the adorning of their own persons, and in
the elaborate dressing of their luxuriant hair; the afternoons were
spent in the tea ceremony, in writing poetry, or the execution of a sort
of silk mosaic that is a favorite variety of fancy work still among the
ladies of Japan.

A story is told of one of the Tokugawa princesses that illustrates the
amusements of the Shōgun's daughters, and the pains that were taken to
gratify their wishes, however unreasonable. The cherry-trees of the
castle gardens of Tōkyō are noted for their beauty when in bloom during
the month of April. It is said that once a daughter of the Tokugawa
house expressed a wish to give a garden party amid the blossoming
cherry-trees in the month of December, and nothing would do but that her
wishes must be carried out. Her retainers accordingly summoned to their
aid skillful artificers, who from pink and white tissue paper produced
myriads of cherry blossoms, so natural that they could hardly be
distinguished from the real ones. These they fastened upon the trees in
just such places as the real flowers would have chosen to occupy, and
the happy princess gave her garden party in December under the pink mist
of cherry blooms.

The children of a daimiō's wife occupied her attention but little. They
were placed in the charge of careful attendants, and the mother, though
allowed to see them when she wished, was deprived of the pleasure of
constant intercourse with them, and had none of the mother's cares which
form so large a part of life to an ordinary Japanese woman.

When we know that the average Japanese girl is brought up strictly by
her own mother, and thoroughly drilled in obedience and in all that is
proper as regards etiquette and the duties of woman, we can imagine the
narrowness of the education of the daimiō's poor little daughter,
surrounded, from early childhood, with numerous attendants of the
strictest sort, to teach her all that is proper according to the
highest and severest standards. Sometimes, by the whim or the indulgence
of parents, or through exceptional circumstances in her surroundings, a
samurai's daughter became more independent, more self-reliant, or better
educated, than others of her rank; but such opportunities never came to
the more carefully reared noble's daughter.

From her earliest childhood, she was addressed in the politest and most
formal way, so that she could not help acquiring polite manners and
speech. She was taught etiquette above all things, so that no rude
action or speech would disgrace her rank; and that she should give due
reverence to her superiors, courtesy to equals, and polite condescension
to inferiors. She was taught especially to show kindness to the families
under the rule of her father, and was early told of the noble's duty to
protect and love his retainers, as a father loves and protects his
children. From childhood, presents were made in her name to those around
her, often without her previous knowledge or permission, and from them
she would receive profuse thanks,--lessons in the delights of
beneficence which could not fail to make their impression on the child
princess. Even to inferiors she used the polite language,[34] and never
the rude, brusque speech of men, or the careless phrases and expressions
of the lower classes.

[34] The Japanese language is full of expressions showing different
shades of meaning in the politeness or respect implied. There are words
and expressions which superiors in rank use to inferiors, or _vice
versa_, and others used among equals. Some phrases belong especially to
the language of the high-born, just as there are common expressions of
the people. Some verbs in this extremely complex language must be
altered in their termination according to the degree of honor in which
the subject of the action is held in the speaker's mind.

The education of the daimiō's daughter was conducted entirely at
home.[35] Instead of going out to masters for instruction, she was
taught by some one in the household,--one of her father's retainers, or
perhaps a member of her own private retinue. Teachers for certain
branches came from outside, and these were not expected to give the
lesson within a certain time and hurry away, but they would remain,
conversing, sipping tea, and partaking of sweetmeats, until their noble
pupil was ready to receive them. Hospitality required that the teacher
be offered a meal after the lesson, and this meal etiquette would not
permit him to refuse, so that both teacher and pupil must spend much
time waiting for each other and for the lesson.

[35] The establishment of the peeress' school, mentioned in the last
chapter, is a great innovation upon the old-time ways of many of the
aristocratic families.

Pursued in this leisurely way, the education of the noble's daughter
could not advance very rapidly, and it usually ended with an extremely
early marriage; and the girl wife would sometimes play with her doll in
the new home until the living baby took its place to the young mother.

The samurai women, who in one position or another were close attendants
on these noble ladies, performing for them every act of service, were
often women of more than average intelligence and education. From
childhood to old age, the noble ladies were never without one or more of
these maids of honor, close at hand to help or advise. Some entered the
service in the lower positions for only a short period, leaving sooner
or later to be married; for continued service in a daimiō's household
meant a single life. Many of them remained in the palace all their days,
leading lives of devotion to their mistress; the comfort and ease of
which hardly compensated for the endless formalities and the monotonous

Even the less responsible and more menial positions were not looked down
upon, and the higher offices in the household were exceedingly
honorable. When, once in a long while, a day's leave of absence was
granted to one of these gentlewomen, and, loaded with presents sent by
the daimiō's lady, she went on her visit to her home, she was received
as a greatly honored member of her own family. The respect which was
paid to her knowledge of etiquette and dress was never lessened because
of the menial services she might have performed for those of noble

The lady who was the head attendant, and those in the higher positions,
had a great deal of power and influence in matters that concerned their
mistress and the household; just as the male retainers decided for the
prince, and in their own way, many of the affairs of the province. The
few conservative old ladies, the last relics of the numerous retainers
that once filled the castle, who still remain faithful in attendance in
the homes now deprived of the grandeur of the olden times, look with
horror upon the innovations of the present day, and sigh for the glory
of old Japan. It is only upon compulsion that they give up many of the
now useless formalities, and resign themselves to seeing their once so
honored lords jostle elbow to elbow with the common citizen.

I shall never forget the horror of one old lady, attendant on a noble's
daughter of high rank, just entering the peeress' school, when it was
told her that each student must carry in her own bundle of books and
arrange them herself, and that the attendants were not allowed in the
classroom. The poor old lady was doubtless indignant at the thought that
her noble-born mistress should have to perform even so slight a task as
the arranging of her own desk unaided.[*182]

In the daimiōs' houses there was little of the culture or wit that
graced the more aristocratic seclusion of Kyōto, and none of the duties
and responsibilities that belonged to the samurai women, so that the
life of the daimiō's lady was perhaps more purposeless, and less
stimulating to the noble qualities, than the lives of any other of the
women of Japan. Surrounded by endless restrictions of etiquette, lacking
both the stimulus that comes from physical toil and that to be derived
from intellectual exertion, the ladies of this class of the nobility
simply vegetated. There is little wonder that the nobles degenerated
both mentally and physically during the years when the Tokugawas held
sway; for there was absolutely nothing in the lives of the women to fit
them to be the wives and mothers of strong men. Delicate, dainty,
refined, dexterous in all manner of little things but helpless to act
for themselves,--ladies to the inmost core of their beings, with
instincts of honor and of _noblesse oblige_ appearing in them from
earliest childhood,--the years of seclusion, of deference from hundreds
of retainers, of constant instruction in the duties as well as the
dignities of their position, have produced an abiding effect upon the
minds of the women of this aristocracy, and to-day even the youngest and
smallest of them have the virtues as well as the failings produced by
nearly three centuries of training. They are lacking in force, in
ambition, in clearness of thought, among a nation abounding in those
qualities; but the national characteristics of dignity, charming
manners, a quick sense of honor, and indomitable pride of race and
nation, combined with a personal modesty almost deprecating in its
humility,--these are found among the daughters of the nobles developed
to their highest extent. With the qualities of gentleness and delicacy
possessed by these ladies, which make them shrink from rough contact
with the outer world, there are mingled the stronger qualities of moral
and physical courage. A daimiō's wife, as befitted the wife of a warrior
and the daughter of long generations of brave men, never shrank from
facing danger and death when necessary; and considered the taking of her
own life an honorable and easy escape from being captured by her enemy.

Two or three little ripples from the past broke into my life in Tōkyō,
giving a little insight into those old feudal times, and the customs
that were common then, but that are now gone forever. A story was told
me in Japan by a lady who had herself, as a child, witnessed the events
narrated. It illustrates the responsibility felt by the retainers for
their lord and his house. A daimiō fell into disgrace with the Shōgun,
and was banished to his own capital,--a castle town several days'
journey from Yedo,--as a punishment for some offense. The castle gates
were closed, and no communication with the outer world allowed. During
this period of disgrace, it happened that the noble fell ill, and died
quite suddenly before his punishment was ended. His death under such
circumstances was the most terrible thing that could befall either
himself or his family, as his funeral must be without the ordinary
tokens of respect; and his tombstone, instead of bearing tribute to his
virtues, and the favor in which he had been held by his lord, must be
simply the monument of his disgrace. This being the case, the retainers
felt that these evils must be averted at any cost. Knowing that the
Shōgun's anger was probably not so great as to make him wish to bring
eternal disgrace to their dead lord, they at once decided to send a
messenger to the Shōgun, begging for pardon on the plea of desperate
illness, and asking the restoration of his favor before the approach of
death. The death was not announced, but the floor of the room in which
the man had died was lifted up, and the body let down to the ground
beneath; and through all the town it was announced that the daimiō was
hopelessly ill. Forty days passed before the Shōgun sent to the
retainers the token that the disgrace was removed, and during all those
forty days, in castle and barrack and village, the fiction of the
daimiō's illness was kept up. As soon as the messengers returned, the
body was drawn up again through the floor and placed on the bed; and all
the retainers, from the least unto the greatest, were summoned into the
room to congratulate their master upon his restoration to favor. One by
one they entered the darkened room, prostrated themselves before the
corpse, and uttered the formal words of congratulation. Then when all,
even to the little girl who, grown to womanhood, told me the story, had
been through the horrible ceremony, it was announced that the master was
dead,--that he had died immediately after the return of the messenger
with the good tidings of pardon. All obstacles being thus removed, the
funeral was celebrated with due pomp and circumstance; and the tombstone
of the daimiō to-day gives no hint of the disgrace from which he so
narrowly escaped.

Another instance very similar, throwing some light on the custom of
adoption or _yōshi_, referred to in a previous chapter, was the case of
a nobleman who died without children, and without an heir appointed to
inherit his title. It would never have done, in sending in the official
notice of death, to be unable to name the legal head of the house and
the successor to the title. There was also no male relative to perform
the office of chief mourner at the funeral; and so the death of the
nobleman was kept secret, and his house showed no signs of mourning
during a long period, until a son satisfactory to all the members of the
household had been adopted. When the legal notice of the adoption had
been sent in, and the son received into the family as heir, then, and
only then, was the death of the lord announced, the period of mourning
begun, and the funeral ceremony performed.

Upon one occasion I was visiting a Japanese lady, who knew the interest
that I took in seeing and procuring the old-fashioned embroidered
_kimonos_, which are now entirely out of style in Japan, and which can
only be obtained at second-hand clothing stores, or at private sale. My
friend said that she had just been shown an assortment of old garments
which were offered at private sale by the heirs of a lady, recently
deceased, who had once been a maid of honor in a daimiō's house. The
clothes were still in the house, and were brought in, in a great basket,
for my inspection. Very beautiful garments they were, of silk, crêpe,
and linen, embroidered elaborately, and in extremely good order. Many of
them seemed not to have been worn at all, but had been kept folded away
for years, and only brought out when a fitting occasion came round at
the proper season of the year. As we turned over the beautiful fabrics,
a black broadcloth garment at the bottom of the basket aroused my
curiosity, and I pulled it out and held it up for closer inspection. A
curious garment it was, bound with white, and with a great white crest
_appliqué_ on the middle of the back. Curious white stripes gave the
coat a military look, and it seemed appropriate rather to the wardrobe
of some two-sworded warrior than to that of a gentlewoman of the old
type. To the question, How did such a coat come to be in such a place?
the older lady of the company--one to whom the old days were still the
natural order and the new customs an exotic growth--explained that the
garment rightfully belonged in the wardrobe of any lady-in-waiting in a
daimiō's house, for it was made to wear in case of fire or attack when
the men were away, and the women were expected to guard the premises.
Further search among the relics of the past brought to light the rest of
the costume: silk _hakama_, or full kilted trousers; a stiff, manlike
black silk cap bound with a white band; and a spear cover of broadcloth,
with a great white crest upon it, like the one on the broadcloth coat.
These made up the uniform which must be donned in time of need by the
ladies of the palace or the castle, for the defense of their lord's
property. They had been folded away for twenty years among the
embroidered robes, to come to light at last for the purpose of showing
to a foreigner a phase of the old life that was so much a matter of
course to the older Japanese that it never occurred to them even to
mention it to a stranger. The elder lady of the house was wonderfully
amused at my interest in these mute memorials of the past, and could
never comprehend why I was willing to expend the sum of one dollar for
the sake of gaining possession of a set of garments for which I could
have no possible use. The uniform had probably never been worn in actual
warfare, but its owner had been trained in the use of the long-handled
spear, the cover of which she had kept stored away all these years; and
had regarded herself as liable to be called into action at any time as
one of the home guard, when the male retainers of her lord were in the

There are in the shops of Tōkyō to-day hundreds of colored prints
illustrating the splendor of the Shōgunate; for the fine clothes, the
pageants, the show and display that ended with the fall of the house of
Tokugawa, are still dear to the popular mind. In these one sees
reproduced, in more than their original brilliancy of coloring, the
daimiōs, with their trains of uniformed retainers, proceeding in stately
pageant to the palace of the Shōgun; the games, the dances, the reviews
held before the Shōgun himself; the princess, with her train of ladies
and attendants, visiting the cherry blossoms at Uyéno, or crossing some
swift but shallow river on her journey to Yedo. There one sees the fleet
of red-lacquered pleasure barges in which the Shōgun with his court
sailed up the river to Mukōjima, in the spring, to view the cherry-trees
which bloom along the banks for miles. One sees, too, the interiors of
the daimiōs' houses, the intimate domestic scenes into which no outsider
could ever penetrate. One picture shows the excitements consequent upon
the advent of an heir to a noble house,--the happy mother on her couch,
surrounded by brightly dressed ladies-in-waiting; the baby in the room
adjoining; another group of brilliant beings preparing his bath; while
down the long piazza, which opens upon the little courtyard in the
centre of the house, one sees still other groups of servants, bringing
the gifts with which the great mansion is flooded at such a time. Still
further away, across the courtyard, are the doctors, holding learned
consultation around a little table, and mixing medicines to secure the
health and strength of both mother and baby.

The fall of the Shōgunate, and the abolition of castle and _yashiki_,
have made a radical change in the fashions of dress in Japan. One sees
no longer the beautiful embroidered robes, except upon the stage, for
the abolition of the great leisure class has put the flowered _kimono_
out of fashion. There are no courts, small and great, scattered all
through the country, where the ladies must be dressed in changing styles
for the changing seasons, and where the embroideries that imitate most
closely the natural flowers are sure of a market. When one asks, as
every foreigner is likely to ask, the Japanese ladies of one's
acquaintance, "Why have you given up the beautiful embroideries and
gorgeous colors that you used to wear?" the answer always is, "There are
no daimiōs' houses now." And this is regarded as a sufficient
explanation of the change.[*192]

I have in my possession to-day two dainty bits of the silk mosaic work
before mentioned, the work of the sixteen-year-old wife of one of the
proudest and most conservative of the present generation of nobles. A
dainty little creature she was, with a face upon which her two years of
wifehood and one year of motherhood had left no trace of care. Living
amid her host of ladies and women servants, most of them older and wiser
than herself; having no care and no amusements save the easy task of
keeping herself pretty and well-dressed, and the amusement of watching
her baby grow, and hearing the chance rumors that might come to her from
the great new world into which her husband daily went, but with which
she herself never mingled,--her days were one pleasant, monotonous
round, unawakening alike either to soul or intellect. Into this life of
remoteness from all that belongs to the new era, imagine the excitement
produced by the advent of a foreign lady, with an educated dog, whose
wonderful intelligence had been already related to her by one of her own
ladies-in-waiting. I shall always believe that my invitation into that
exclusive house was due largely to the reports of my dog, carried to its
proprietors by one of the lady servitors who had seen him perform upon
one occasion. Certain it is that the first words of the little lady of
the house to me were a question about the dog; and her last act of
politeness to our party was a warm embrace of the handsome collie, who
had given unimpeachable evidence that he understood a great deal of
English,--a tongue which the daimiō himself was painfully learning. The
dainty child-wife with both arms buried in the heavy ruff of the
astonished dog is a picture that comes to me often, and that brings up
most pathetically the monotony of an existence into which so small a
thing can bring so much. The lifelike black and white silk puppy, the
creeping baby doll from Kyōto, the silk mosaic box and chopstick
case,--the work of my lady's delicate fingers,--are most agreeable
reminders of the kindness and sweetness of the little wife, whose
sixteen summers have been spent among the surroundings of thirty years
ago, and who lives, like the enchanted princess of the fairy tales,
wrapped about by a spell which separates her from the bustling world of
to-day. The product of the past,--the daughter of the last of the
Shōguns,--she dwells in her enchanted house, among the relics of a past
which is still the present to her and to her household. So lovely, so
æsthetic, so dainty and charming seems the world into which one enters
there, that one would not care to break the spell that holds it as it
is, and let the girl-wife, with her gentlewomen and her kneeling
servants, hurry forward into the busy, perplexing life of to-day. May
time deal gently with her and hers, nor rudely break the enchantment
that surrounds her!



Samurai was the name given to the military class among the Japanese,--a
class intermediate between the Emperor and his nobles and the great mass
of the common people who were engaged in agriculture, mechanical arts,
or trade. Upon the samurai rested the defense of the country from
enemies at home or abroad, as well as the preservation of literature and
learning, and the conduct of all official business. At the time of the
fall of feudalism, there were, among the thirty-four millions of
Japanese, about two million samurai; and in this class, in the broadest
sense of the word, must be included the daimiōs, as well as their
two-sworded retainers. But as the greater among the samurai were
distinguished by special class names, the word as commonly used, and as
used throughout this work, applies to the military class, who served
the Shōgun and the daimiōs, and who were supported by yearly allowances
from the treasuries of their lords. These form a distinct class,
actuated by motives quite different from those of the lower classes, and
filling a great place in the history of the country. As the nobility,
through long inheritance of power and wealth, became weak in body and
mind, the samurai grew to be, more and more, not only the sword, but the
brain of Japan; and to-day the great work of bringing the country out of
the middle ages into the nineteenth century is being performed by the
samurai more than by any other class.

What, it may be asked, are the traits of the samurai which distinguish
them, and make them such honored types of the perfect Japanese
gentleman, so that to live and die worthy the name of samurai was the
highest ambition of the soldier? The samurai's duty may be expressed in
one word, loyalty,--loyalty to his lord and master, and loyalty to his
country,--loyalty so true and deep that for it all human ties, hopes,
and affections, wife, children, and home, must be sacrificed if
necessary. Those who have read the tale of "The Loyal Rōnins"[36]--a
story which has been so well told by Mitford, Dickins, and Greey that
many readers must be already familiar with it--will remember that the
head councilor and retainer, Oishi, in his deep desire for revenge for
his lord's unjust death, divorces his wife and sends off his children,
that they may not distract his thoughts from his plans; and performs his
famous act of revenge without once seeing his wife, only letting her
know at his death his faithfulness to her and the true cause of his
seeming cruelty. And the wife, far from feeling wronged by such an act,
only glories in the loyalty of her husband, who threw aside everything
to fulfill his one great duty, even though she herself was his unhappy

[36] _Rōnin_ was the term applied to a samurai who had lost his master,
and owed no feudal allegiance to any daimiō. The exact meaning of the
word is _wave-man_, signifying one who wanders to and fro without
purpose, like a wave driven by the wind.

The true samurai is always brave, never fearing death or suffering in
any form. Life and death are alike to him, if no disgrace is attached to
his name.

An incident comes into my mind which may serve as an example of the
samurai spirit,--a spirit which has filled the history of Japan with
heroic deeds. It is the story of a long siege, at the end of which the
little garrison in the besieged castle was reduced to the last stages of
endurance, though hourly expecting reinforcement. In this state of
affairs, the great question is, whether to wait for the expected aid, or
to surrender immediately, and the answer to the question can only be
obtained through a knowledge of the enemy's strength. At this juncture,
one of the samurai volunteers to steal into the camp of the besiegers,
inspect their forces, and report their strength before the final
decision is made. He disguises himself, and through various chances is
able to penetrate, unsuspected, into the midst of the enemy's camp. He
discovers that the besiegers are so weak that they cannot maintain the
siege much longer, but while returning to the castle he is recognized
and taken by the enemy. His captors give him one chance for escape from
the horrible death of crucifixion. He is to go to the edge of the moat,
and, standing on an elevated place, shout out to the soldiers that they
must surrender, for the forces are too strong for them. He seemingly
consents to this, and, led down to the water's edge, he sees across the
moat his wife and child, who greet him with demonstrations of joy. To
her he waves his hand; then, bravely and loudly, so that it may be heard
by friend and foe, he shouts out the true tidings, "Wait for
reinforcement at any cost, for the besiegers are weak and will soon have
to give up." At these words his enraged enemies seize him and put him to
a death of horrible torture, but he smiles in their faces as he tells
them the sweetness of such a sacrifice for his master. Japanese history
abounds with heroic deeds of blood displaying the indomitable courage of
the samurai. In the reading of them, we are often reminded of the
Spartan spirit of warfare, and samurai women are in some ways very like
those Spartan mothers who would rather die than see their sons branded
as cowards.

The implicit obedience which samurai gave their lords, when conflicting
with feelings of loyalty to their country, often produced two opposing
forces which had to be overcome. When the daimiō gave orders that the
keener-sighted retainer felt would not be for the good of the house, he
had either to disobey his lord, or act against his feeling of loyalty.
Divided between the two duties, the samurai would usually do as he
thought right for his country or his lord, disobeying his master's
orders; write a confession of his real motives; and save his name from
disgrace by committing suicide. By this act he would atone for his
disobedience, and his loyalty would never be questioned.

The now abolished custom of _hara-kiri_, or the voluntary taking of
one's life to avoid disgrace, and blot out entirely or partially the
stain on an honorable name, is a curious custom which has come down from
old times. The ancient heroes stabbed themselves as calmly as they did
their enemies, and women as well as men knew how to use the short
sword[37] worn always at the side of the samurai, his last and easy
escape from shame.

[37] The samurai always wore two swords, a long one for fighting only,
and a short one for defense when possible, but, as a last resort, for
_hara-kiri_. The sword is the emblem of the samurai spirit, and as such
is respected and honored. A samurai took pride in keeping his swords as
sharp and shining as was possible. He was never seen without the two
swords, but the longer one he removed and left at the front door when he
entered the house of a friend. To use a sword badly, to harm or injure
it, or to step over it, was considered an insult to the owner.

The young men of this class, as well as their masters, the daimiōs, were
early instructed in the method of this self-stabbing, so that it might
be cleanly and easily done, for a bloody and unseemly death would not
redound to the honor of the suicide. The fatal cut was not instantaneous
in its effect, and there was always opportunity for that display of
courage--that show of disregard for death or pain--which was expected of
the brave man.

The _hara-kiri_ was of course a last resort, but it was an honorable
death. The vulgar criminal must be put to death by the hands of others,
but the nobler samurai, who never cares to survive disgrace, was
condemned to _hara-kiri_ if found guilty of actions worthy of death. Not
to be allowed to do this, but to be executed in the common way, was a
double disgrace to a samurai. Even to this day, when crimes such as the
assassination of a minister of state are committed, in the mistaken
belief that the act is for the good of the country, the idea on the part
of the assassin is never to escape detection. He calmly gives himself
up to justice or takes his own life,[38] stating his motive for the
deed; and, believing himself justified in the act, is willing that his
life should be the cost.

[38] Kurushima, who attempted to take the life of Okuma, the late
Minister of Foreign Affairs, as recently as 1889, committed suicide
immediately after throwing the dynamite bomb which caused the minister
the loss of his leg. This was the more remarkable in that, at the time
of his death, the assassin supposed that his victim had escaped all

The old samurai was proud of his rank, his honorable vocation, his
responsibility; proud of his ignorance of trade and barter and of his
disregard for the sordid cares of the world, regarding as far beneath
him all occupations but those of arms. Wealth, as artisan or farmer,
rarely tempted him to sink into the lower ranks; and his support from
the daimiō, often a mere pittance, insured to him more respect and
greater privileges than wealth as a héimin. To this day even, this
feeling exists. Preference for rank or position, rather than for mere
salary, remains strongly among the present generation, so that official
positions are more sought after than the more lucrative occupations of
trade. Japan is flooded with small officials, and yet the samurai now
is obliged to lay down his sword and devote his time to the once
despised trades, and to learn how important are the arts of peace
compared with those of war.

The dislike of anything suggestive of trade or barter--of services and
actions springing, not from duty and from the heart, but from the desire
of gain--has strongly tinted many little customs of the day, often
misunderstood and misconstrued by foreigners. In old Japan, experience
and knowledge could not be bought and sold. Physicians did not charge
for their services, but on the contrary would decline to name or even
receive a compensation from those in their own clan. Patients, on their
side, were too proud to accept services free, and would send to the
physicians, not as pay exactly, but more as a gift or a token of
gratitude, a sum of money which varied according to the means of the
giver, as well as to the amount of service received. Daimiōs did not
send to ask a teacher how much an hour his time was worth, and then
arrange the lessons accordingly; the teacher was not insulted by being
expected to barter his knowledge for so much filthy lucre, but was
merely asked whether his time and convenience would allow of his taking
extra teaching. The request was made, not as a matter of give and take,
but a favor to be granted. Due compensation, however, would never fail
to be made,--of this the teacher could be sure,--but no agreement was
ever considered necessary.

With this feeling yet remaining in Japan,--this dislike of contracts,
and exact charges for professional services,--we can imagine the inward
disgust of the samurai at the business-like habits of the foreigners
with whom he has to deal. On the other hand, his feelings are not
appreciated by the foreigner, and his actions clash with the European
and American ideas of independence and self-respect. In Japan a present
of money is more honorable than pay, whereas in America pay is much more
honorable than a present.

The samurai of to-day is rapidly imbibing new ideas, and is learning to
see the world from a Western point of view; but his thoughts and actions
are still moulded on the ideas of old Japan, and it will be a long time
before the loyal, faithful, but proud spirit of the samurai will die
out. The pride of clan is now changed to pride of race; loyalty to
feudal chief has become loyalty to the Emperor as sovereign; and the old
traits of character exist under the European costumes of to-day, as
under the flowing robes of the two-sworded retainer.

It is this same spirit of loyalty that has made it hard for Christianity
to get a foothold in Japan. The Emperor was the representative of the
gods of Japan. To embrace a new religion seemed a desertion of him, and
the following of the strange gods of the foreigner. The work of the
Catholic missionaries which ended so disastrously in 1637 has left the
impression that a Christian is bound to offer allegiance to the Pope in
much the same way as the Emperor now receives it from his people; and
the bitterness of such a thought has made many refuse to hear what
Christianity really is. Such words as "King" and "Lord" they have
understood as referring to temporal things, and it has taken years to
undo this prejudice; a feeling in no way surprising when we consider
how the Jesuit missionaries once interfered with political movements in

So bitter was this feeling, when Japan was first opened, that a native
Christian was at once branded as a traitor to his country, and very
severe was the persecution against all Christians. Missionaries at one
time dared not acknowledge themselves as such, and lived in danger of
their lives; and the Japanese Christian who remained faithful did so
knowing that he was despised and hated. I know of one mother who,
finding command and entreaty alike unavailing to move her son, a convert
to the new religion, threatened to commit suicide, feeling that the
disgrace which had fallen on the family could only be wiped out with her
death. Happily, all this is of the past, and to-day the samurai has
found that he can reconcile the new religion with his loyalty to Japan,
and that in receiving the one he is not led to betray the other.

The women of the samurai have shared with the men the responsibilities
of their rank, and the pride that comes from hereditary positions of
responsibility. A woman's first duty in all ranks of society is
obedience; but sacrifice of self, in however horrible a way, was a duty
most cheerfully and willingly performed, when by such sacrifice father,
husband, or son might be the better able to fulfill his duty towards his
feudal superior. The women in the daimiōs' castles who were taught
fencing, drilled and uniformed, and relied upon to defend the castle in
case of need, were women of this class,--women whose husbands and
fathers were soldiers, and in whose veins ran the blood of generations
of fighting ancestors. Gentle, feminine, delicate as they were, there
was a possibility of martial prowess about them when the need for it
came; and the long education in obedience and loyalty did not fail to
produce the desired results. Death, and ignominy worse than death, could
be met bravely, but disgrace involving loss of honor to husband or
feudal lord was the one thing that must be avoided at all hazards. It
was my good fortune, many years ago, to make the acquaintance of a
little Japanese girl who had lived in the midst of the siege of
Wakamatsu, the city in which the Shōgun's forces made their last stand
for their lord and the system that he represented. As the Emperor's
forces marched upon the castle town, moat after moat was taken,[*209]
until at last men, women, and children took refuge within the citadel
itself to defend it until the last gasp. The bombs of the besiegers fell
crashing into the castle precincts, killing the women as they worked at
whatever they could do in aid of the defenders; and even the little
girls ran back and forth, amid the rain of bullets and balls, carrying
cartridges, which the women were making within the castle, to the men
who were defending the walls. "Weren't you afraid?" we asked the
delicate child, when she told us of her own share in the defense. "No,"
was the answer. A small but dangerous sword, of the finest Japanese
steel, was shown us as the sword that she wore in her belt during all
those days of war and tumult. "Why did you wear the sword?" we asked.
"So that I would have it if I was taken prisoner." "What would you have
done with it?" was the next question, for we could not believe that a
child of eight would undertake to defend herself against armed soldiers
with that little sword. "I would have killed myself," was the answer,
with a flash of the eye that showed her quite capable of committing the
act in case of need.

In the olden times, when the spirit of warfare was strong and justice
but scantily administered, revenge for personal insult, or for the death
of father or lord, fell upon the children, or the retainers. Sometimes
the bloody deed has fallen to the lot of a woman, to some weak and
feeble girl, who, in many a tale, has braved all the difficulties that
beset a woman's path, devoted her life to an act of vengeance, and, with
the courage of a man, has often successfully consummated her revenge.

One of the tales of old Japan, and a favorite subject of theatrical
representation, is the death and revenge of a lady in a daimiō's palace.
Onoyé, a daughter of the people, child of a merchant, has by chance
risen to the position of lady-in-waiting to a daimiō's wife,--a thing so
uncommon that it has roused the jealousy of the other ladies, who are of
the samurai class. Iwafuji, one of the highest and proudest ladies at
the court, takes pains on every occasion to insult and torment the poor,
unoffending Onoyé, whom she cannot bear to have as an associate. She
constantly reminds her of her inferior birth, and at last challenges her
to a trial in fencing, in which accomplishment Onoyé is not proficient,
having lacked the proper training in her early life. At last the hatred
and anger of Iwafuji culminate in a frenzy of rage; she forgets herself,
and strikes the meek and gentle Onoyé with her sandal,--the worst insult
that could be offered to any one.

Onoyé, overcome by this deep disgrace offered her in public, returns
from the main palace to her own apartments, and ponders long and deeply,
in the bitterness of her soul, how to wipe out the disgrace of an insult
by such an enemy.

Her own faithful maid, seeing her disordered hair and anxious looks,
perceives some secret trouble, which her mistress will not disclose, and
tries, while performing her acts of service, to dispel the gloom by
telling gayly all the gossip of the day. This maid, O Haru, is a type of
the clever faithful servant. She is really of higher birth than her
mistress, for, though she has been obliged to go out to service, she was
born of a samurai family. Onoyé, while listening to the talk of her
servant, has made up her mind that only one thing can blot out her
disgrace, and that is to commit suicide. She hastily pens a farewell to
her family, for the deed must not be delayed, and sends with the letter
the token of her disgrace,--Iwafuji's sandal, which she has kept. O Haru
is sent on this errand, and, unconscious of the ill-news she is bearing,
she starts out. On the way, the ominous croak of the ravens, who are
making a dismal noise,--a presage of ill-luck,--frightens the observant
O Haru. A little further on, the strap of her clog breaks,--a still more
alarming sign. Thoroughly frightened, O Haru turns back, and reaches her
mistress' room in time to find that the fatal deed is done, and her
mistress is dying. O Haru is heart-broken, learns the whole truth, and
vows vengeance on the enemy of her loved mistress.

O Haru, unlike Onoyé, is thoroughly trained in fencing. An occasion
arises when she returns to Iwafuji in public the malicious blow, and
with the same sandal, which she has kept as a sign of her revenge. She
then challenges Iwafuji, in behalf of the dead, to a trial in fencing.
The haughty Iwafuji is forced to accept, and is thoroughly defeated and
shamed before the spectators. The whole truth is now made known, and the
daimiō, who admires and appreciates the spirit of O Haru, sends for her,
and raises her from her low position to fill the post of her dead

These stories show the spirit of the samurai women; they can suffer
death bravely, even joyfully, at their own hands or the hands of husband
or father, to avoid or wipe out any disgrace which they regard as a loss
of honor; but they will as bravely and patiently subject themselves to a
life of shame and ignominy, worse than death, for the sake of gaining
for husband or father the means of carrying out a feudal obligation.
There is a pathetic scene, in one of the most famous of the Japanese
historical dramas, in which one seems to get the moral perspective of
the ideal Japanese woman, as one cannot get it in any other way. The
play is founded on the story of "The Loyal Rōnins," referred to in the
beginning of this chapter. The loyal rōnins are plotting to avenge the
death of their master upon the daimiō whose cupidity and injustice have
brought it about. As there is danger of disloyalty even in their own
ranks, Oishi, the leader of the dead daimiō's retainers, displays great
caution in the selection of his fellow-conspirators, and practices every
artifice to secure absolute secrecy for his plans. One young man, who
was in disgrace with his lord at the time of his death, applies to be
admitted within the circle of conspirators; but as it is suspected that
he may not be true to the cause, a payment in money is exacted from him
as a pledge of his honorable intentions. It is thus made his first duty
to redeem his honor from all suspicion by the payment of the money, in
order that he may perform his feudal obligation of avenging the death of
his lord. But the young man is poor; he has married a poor girl, and has
agreed to support not only his wife, but her old parents as well, and
the payment is impossible for him. In this emergency, his wife, at the
suggestion of her parents, proposes, as the only way, to sell herself,
for a term of two years, to the proprietor of a house of pleasure, that
she may by this vile servitude enable her husband to escape the
dishonor that must come to him if he fails to fulfill his feudal duty.
Negotiations are entered into, the contract is made, and an advance
payment is given which will furnish money enough for the pledge required
by the conspirators. All this is done without the knowledge of the
husband, lest his love for his wife and his grief for the sacrifice
prevent him from accepting the only means left to prove his loyalty. The
noble wife even plans to leave her home while he is away on a hunting
expedition, and so spare him the pain of parting. His emotion upon
learning of this venture in business is not of wrath at the disgrace
that has overtaken his family, but simply of grief that his wife and her
parents must make so great a sacrifice to save his honor. It is a
terrible affliction, but it is not a disgrace in any way parallel to the
disgrace of disloyalty to his lord. And the heroic wife, when the men
come to carry her away, is upheld through all the trying farewells by
the consciousness that she is making as noble a sacrifice of herself as
did the wife of Yamato Daké when she leaped into the sea to avert the
wrath of the sea-god from her husband. The Japanese, both men and
women, knowing this story and many others similar in character, can see,
as we cannot from our point of view, that, even if the body be defiled,
there is no defilement of the soul, for the woman is fulfilling her
highest duty in sacrificing all, even her dearest possession, for the
honor of her husband. It is a climax of self-abnegation that brings
nothing but honor to the soul of her who reaches it. Japanese women who
read this story feel profound pity for the poor wife, and a horror of a
sacrifice that binds her to a life which outwardly, to the Japanese mind
even, is the lowest depth a woman ever reaches. But they do not despise
her for the act; nor would they refuse to receive her even were she to
appear in living form to-day in any Japanese home, where, thanks to
happier fortunes, such sacrifices are not demanded. Just at this point
is the difference of moral perspective that foreigners visiting Japan
find so hard to understand, and that leads many, who have lived in the
country the longest, to believe that there is no modesty and purity
among Japanese women. It is this that makes it possible for the vilest
of stories, and those that have the least foundation in fact, to find
easy belief among foreigners, even if they be told about the purest,
most high-minded, and most honorable of Japanese women. Our maidens, as
they grow to womanhood, are taught that anything is better than personal
dishonor, and their maidenly instincts side with the teaching. With us,
a virtuous woman does not mean a brave, a heroic, an unselfish, or
self-sacrificing woman, but means simply one who keeps herself from
personal dishonor. Chastity is the supreme virtue for a woman; all other
virtues are secondary compared with it. This is our point of view, and
the whole perspective is arranged with that virtue in the foreground.
Dismiss this for a moment, and consider the moral training of the
Japanese maiden. From earliest youth until she reaches maturity, she is
constantly taught that obedience and loyalty are the supreme virtues,
which must be preserved even at the sacrifice of all other and lesser
virtues. She is told that for the good of father or husband she must be
willing to meet any danger, endure any dishonor, perpetrate any crime,
give up any treasure. She must consider that nothing belonging solely
to herself is of any importance compared with the good of her master,
her family, or her country. Place this thought of obedience and loyalty,
to the point of absolute self-abnegation, in the foreground, and your
perspective is altered, the other virtues occupying places of varying
importance. Because a Japanese woman will sometimes sacrifice her
personal virtue for the sake of father or husband, does it follow that
all Japanese women are unchaste and impure? In many cases this sacrifice
is the noblest that she believes possible, and she goes to it, as she
would go to death in any dreadful form, for those whom she loves, and to
whom she owes the duty of obedience. The Japanese maiden grows to
womanhood no less pure and modest than our own girls, but our girls are
never called upon to sacrifice their modesty for the sake of those whom
they love best; nor is it expected of any woman in this country that she
exist solely for the good of some one else, in whatever way he chooses
to use her, during all the years of her life. Let us take this
difference into our thought in forming our judgment, and let us rather
seek the causes that underlie the actions than pass judgment upon the
actions themselves. From a close study of the characters of many
Japanese women and girls, I am quite convinced that few women in any
country do their duty, as they see it, more nobly, more single-mindedly,
and more satisfactorily to those about them, than the women of Japan.

Many argue that the purity of Japanese women, as compared with the men,
the ready obedience which they yield, their sweet characters and
unselfish devotion as wives and mothers, are merely the results of the
restraint under which they live, and that they are too weak to be
allowed to enjoy freedom of thought and action. Whether this be true or
no is a point which we leave for others to take up, as time shall have
provided new data for reasoning on the subject.

To me, the sense of duty seems to be strongly developed in the Japanese
women, especially in those of the samurai class. Conscience seems as
active, though often in a different manner, as the old-fashioned New
England conscience, transmitted through the bluest of Puritan blood. And
when a duty has once been recognized as such, no timidity, or
mortification, or fear of ridicule will prevent the performance of it. A
case comes to my mind now of a young girl of sixteen, who made public
confession before her schoolmates of shortcomings of which none of them
knew, for the sake of easing her troubled conscience and warning her
schoolmates against similar errors. The circumstances were as follows:
The young girl had recently lost her grandmother, a most loving and
affectionate old lady, who had taken the place of a mother to the child
from her earliest infancy. In a somewhat unhappy home, the love of the
old grandmother was the one bright spot; and when she was taken away,
the poor, lonely child's memory recalled all of her own shortcomings to
this beloved friend; and, too late to make amendment to the old lady
herself, she dwelt on her own undutifulness, and decided that she must
by some means do penance, or make atonement for her fault. She might, if
she made a confession before her schoolmates, warn them against similar
mistakes; and accordingly she prepared, for the literary society in
which the girls took what part they chose, a long confession, written
in poetical style, and read it before her schoolmates and teachers. It
was a terrible ordeal, as one could see by the blushing face and
breaking voice, often choked with sobs; and when at the conclusion she
urged her friends to behave in such a way to their dear ones that they
need never suffer what she had had to endure since her grandmother's
death, there was not a dry eye in the room, and many of the girls were
sobbing aloud. It was a curious expiation and a touching one, but one
not in the least exceptional or uncharacteristic of the spirit of duty
that actuates the best women of the samurai class.

Here is another instance which illustrates this sense of duty, and
desire of atoning for past mistakes or sins. At the time of the
overthrow of the feudal system, the samurai, bred to loyalty to their
own feudal superiors as their highest duty, found themselves ranged on
different sides in the struggle, according to the positions in which
their lords placed themselves. At the end of the struggle, those who had
followed their daimiōs to the field, in defense of the Shōgunate, found
that they had been fighting against the Emperor, the Son of Heaven
himself, who had at last emerged from the seclusion of centuries to
govern his own empire. Thus the supporters of the Shōgunate, while
absolutely loyal to their daimiōs, had been disloyal to the higher power
of the Emperor; and had put themselves in the position of traitors to
their country. There was a conflict of principles there somewhat similar
to that which took place in our Civil War, when, in the South, he who
was true to his State became a traitor to his country, and he who was
true to his country became a traitor to his State. Two ladies of the
finest samurai type had, with absolute loyalty to a lost cause, aided by
every means in their power in the defense of the city of Wakamatsu
against the victorious forces of the Emperor. They had held on to the
bitter end, and had been banished, with others of their family and clan,
to a remote province, for some years after the end of the war. In 1877,
eleven years after the close of the War of the Restoration, a rebellion
broke out in the south which required a considerable expenditure of
blood and money for its suppression. When the new war began, these two
ladies presented a petition to the government, in which they begged
that they might be allowed to make amends for their former position of
opposition to the Emperor, by going with the army to the field as
hospital nurses. At that time, no lady in Japan had ever gone to the
front to nurse the wounded soldiers; but to those two brave women was
granted the privilege of making atonement for past disloyalty, by the
exercise of the skill and nerve that they had gained in their experience
of war against the Emperor, in the nursing of soldiers wounded in his

In the old days, the women of the samurai class fulfilled most nobly the
duties that fell to their lot. As wives and mothers in time of peace,
they performed their work faithfully in the quiet of their homes; and,
their time filled with household cares, they busied themselves with the
smaller duties of life. As the wives and mothers of soldiers, they
cultivated the heroic spirit befitting their position, fearing no danger
save such as involved disgrace. As the home-guard in time of need, they
stood ready to defend their master's possessions with their own lives;
as gentlewomen and ladies-in-waiting at the court of the daimiō or the
Shōgun, they cultivated the arts and accomplishments required for their
position, and veiled the martial spirit that dwelt within them under an
exterior as feminine, as gracious, as cultivated and charming, as that
of any ladies of Europe or America. To-day in the new Japan, where the
samurai have no longer their yearly allowance from their lords and their
feudal duties, but, scattered through the whole nation, are engaged in
all the arts and trades, and are infusing the old spirit into the new
life, what are the women doing? As the government of the land to-day
lies in the hands of the samurai men under the Emperor, so the progress
of the women, the new ideas of work for women, are in the hands of the
samurai women, led by the Empress. Wherever there is progress among the
women, wherever they are looking about for new opportunities, entering
new occupations, elevating the home, opening hospitals, industrial
schools, asylums, there you will find the leading spirits always of the
samurai class. In the recent changes, some of this class have risen
above their former state and joined the ranks of the nobility; and
there the presence of the samurai spirit infuses new life into the
aristocracy. So, too, the changes that have raised some have lowered
others, and the samurai is now to be found in the formerly despised
occupations of trade and industry, among the merchants, the farmers, the
fishermen, the artisans, and the domestic servants. But wherever his lot
is cast, the old training, the old ideals, the old pride of family,
still keep him separate from his present rank, and, instead of pulling
him down to the level of those about him, tend to raise that level by
the example of honor and intelligence that he sets. The changed fortunes
were not met without a murmur. Most of the outrages, the reactionary
movements, the riots and inflammatory speeches and writings, that
characterized the long period of disquiet following the Restoration,
came from men of this class, who saw their support taken from them,
leaving them unable to dig and ashamed to beg. But the greater part of
them went sturdily to work, in government positions if they could get
them, in the army, on the police force, on the farm, in the shop, at
trades, at service,--even to the humble work of wheeling a
_jinrikisha_, if other honest occupation could not be found; and the
women shared patiently and bravely the changed fortunes of the men,
doing whatever they could toward bettering them. The samurai women
to-day are eagerly working into the positions of teachers, interpreters,
trained nurses, and whatever other places there are which may be
honorably occupied by women. The girls' schools, both government and
private, find many of their pupils among the samurai class; and their
deference and obedience to their teachers and superiors, their ambition
and keen sense of honor in the school-room, show the influence of the
samurai feeling over new Japan. To the samurai women belongs the
task--and they have already begun to perform it--of establishing upon a
broader and surer foundation the position of women in their own country.
They, as the most intelligent, will be the first to perceive the remedy
for present evils, and will, if I mistake not, move heaven and earth, at
some time in the near future, to have that remedy applied to their own
case. Most of them read the literature of the day, some of them in at
least one language beside their own; a few have had the benefit of
travel abroad, and have seen what the home and the family are in
Christian lands. There is as much of the unconquerable spirit of the
samurai to-day in the women as in the men; and it will not be very long
before that spirit will begin to show itself in working for the
establishment of their homes and families upon some stronger basis than
the will of the husband and father.



The great héimin class includes not only the peasants of Japan, but also
the artisans and merchants; artisans ranking below farmers, and
merchants below artisans, in the social structure. It includes the whole
of the common people, except such as were in former times altogether
below the level of respectability, the _éta_ and _hinin_,[39]--outcasts
who lived by begging, slaughtering animals, caring for dead bodies,
tanning skins, and other employments which rendered them unclean
according to the old notions. From very early times the agricultural
class has been sharply divided from the samurai or military. Here and
there one from the peasantry mounts by force of his personal qualities
into the higher ranks, for there is no caste system that prevents the
passing from one class into another,--only a class prejudice that serves
very nearly the same purpose, in keeping samurai and héimin in their
places, that the race prejudice in this country serves in confining the
negroes, North and South, to certain positions and occupations. The
first division of the military from the peasantry occurred in the eighth
century, and since then the peculiar circumstances of each class have
tended to produce quite different characteristics in persons originally
of the same stock. To the soldier class have fallen learning, skill in
arms and horsemanship, opportunities to rise to places of honor and
power, lives free from sordid care in regard to the daily rice, and in
which noble ideas of duty and loyalty can spring up and bear fruit in
heroic deeds. To the peasant, tilling his little rice-field year after
year, have come the heavy burdens of taxation; the grinding toil for a
mere pittance of food for himself and his family; the patient bearing of
all things imposed by his superiors, with little hope of gain for
himself, whatever change the fortunes of war may bring to those above
him in the social scale. Is there wonder that, as the years have gone
by, his wits have grown heavy under his daily drudgery; that he knows
little and understands less of the changes that are taking place in his
native land; that he is easily moved by only one thing, and that the
failure of his crops, or the shortening of his returns from his land by
heavier taxation? This is true of the héimin as a class: they are
conservative, fearing that change will but tend to make harder a lot
that is none too easy; and though peaceable and gentle usually, they may
be moved to blind acts of riot and bloodshed by any political change
that seems likely to produce heavier taxation, or even by a failure of
their crops, when they see themselves and their families starving while
the military and official classes have enough and to spare. But though,
as a class, the farmers are ignorant and heavy, they are seldom entirely
illiterate; and everywhere, throughout the country, one finds men
belonging to this class who are well educated and have risen to
positions of much responsibility and power, and are able to hold their
own, and think for themselves and for their brethren. From an article in
the "Tōkyō Mail," entitled "A Memorialist of the Latter Days of the
Tokugawa Government," I quote passages which show the thoughts of one of
the héimin upon the condition of his own class about the year 1850. It
is from a petition sent to the Shōgun by the head-man of the village of

[39] The laws against the _éta_ and _hinin_, making of them a distinct,
unclean class, and forbidding their intermarriage with any of the higher
classes, have recently been abolished. There is now no rank distinction
of any practical value, except that between noble and common people.
Héimin and samurai are now indiscriminately mingled.

The first point in the petition is, that there is a growing tendency to
luxury among the military and official classes. "It is useless to issue
orders commanding peasants and others to be frugal and industrious, when
those in power, whose duty it is to show a good example to the people,
are themselves steeped in luxury and idleness." He ventures to reproach
the Shōguns themselves by pointing to the extravagance with which they
have decorated the mausoleums at Nikkō and elsewhere. "Is this," he
asks, "in keeping with the intentions of the glorious founder of your
dynasty? Look at the shrines in Isé and elsewhere, and at the sepulchres
of the Emperors of successive ages. Is gold or silver used in decorating
them?" He then turns to the vassals of the Shōgun, and charges them
with being tyrannical, rapacious, and low-minded. "Samurai," he
continues,--"samurai are finely attired, but how contemptible they look
in the eyes of those peasants who know how to be contented with what
they have!"

Further on in the same memorial, he points out what he regards as a
grave mistake in the policy of the Shōgun. A decree had just been issued
prohibiting the peasantry from exercising themselves with sword-play,
and from wearing swords. Of this he says: "Perhaps this decree may have
been issued on the supposition that Japan is naturally impregnable and
defended on all sides. But when she receives insult from a foreign
country, it may become necessary to call on the militia. And who knows
that men of extraordinary military genius, like Toyotomi,[40] will not
again appear among the lower classes?"

[40] Toyotomi Hidéyoshi, a peasant boy, rose from the position of a
groom to be the actual ruler of Japan during the Middle Ages. He it was
who in 1587 issued a decree of banishment against the Christian
missionaries in Japan. He is called Faxiba in the writings of these
missionaries, and in Japan he is frequently spoken of as Taiko Sama, a
title, not a name; but a title that, used alone, refers always to him.
For further account of his life, see Griffis, _Mikado's Empire_, book
i., chap. xxiv.

He ends his memorial with this warning: "Should the Shōgun's court, and
the military class in general, persist in the present oppressive way of
government, Heaven will visit this land with still greater calamities.
If this circumstance is not clearly kept in view, the consequence may be
civil disturbance. I, therefore, beseech that the instructions of the
glorious founder of the dynasty be acted upon; that simplicity and
frugality be made the guiding principle of administration; and that a
general amnesty be proclaimed, thereby complying with the will of Heaven
and placating the people. Should these humble suggestions of mine be
acted upon, prospective calamities will fly before the light of virtue.
Whether the country is to be safe or not depends upon whether the
administration is carried on with mercy or not. What I pray for is, that
the country may enjoy peace and tranquillity, that the harvest may be
plentiful, and that the people may be happy and prosperous."

One is able to see, by this rather remarkable document, that the
peasants of Japan, though frequently almost crushed by the heavy burdens
of taxation, do not, even in the most grinding poverty, lose entirely
that independence of thought and of action which is characteristic of
their nation. They do not consider themselves as a servile class, nor
their military rulers as beyond criticism or reproach, but are ready to
speak boldly for their rights whenever an opportunity occurs. There is a
pathetic story, told in Mitford's "Tales of Old Japan," of a peasant,
the head-man of his village, who goes to Yedo to present to the Shōgun a
complaint, on behalf of his fellow-villagers, of the extortions and
exactions of his daimiō. He is unable to get any one to present his
memorial to the Shōgun, so at last he stops the great lord's palanquin
in the street,--an act in itself punishable with death,--and thrusts the
paper forcibly into his hand. The petition is read, and his
fellow-villagers saved from further oppression, but the head-man, for
his daring, is condemned by his own daimiō to suffer death by
crucifixion,--a fate which he meets with the same heroism with which he
dared everything to save his fellows from suffering.

The peasant, though ignorant and oppressed, has not lost his manhood;
has not become a slave or a serf, but clings to his rights, so far as
he knows what they are; and is ready to hold his own against all comers,
when the question in debate is one that appeals to his mind. The rulers
of Japan have always the peasantry to reckon with when their ruling
becomes unjust or oppressive. They cannot be cowed, though they may be
misled for a time, and they form a conservative element that serves to
hold in check too hasty rulers who would introduce new measures too
quickly, and would be likely to find the new wine bursting the old
bottles, as well as to prevent any rash extravagance in the way of
personal expenditure on the part of government officials. The influence
of this great class will be more and more felt as the new parliamentary
institutions gain in power, and a more close connection is established
between the throne and public opinion.

In considering this great héimin class, it is well to remember that the
artisans, who form so large a part of it, are also the artists who have
made the reputation of Japan, in Europe and America, as one of the
countries where art and the love of beauty in form and color are still
instinct with life. The Japanese artisan works with patient toil, and
with the skill and originality of the artist, to produce something that
shall be individual and his own; not simply to make, after a pattern,
some utensil or ornament for which he cares nothing, so long as a
purchaser can be found for it, or an employer can be induced to pay him
money for making it. It seems as easy for the Japanese to make things
pretty and in good taste, even when they are cheap and only used by the
poorer people, as it is for American mills and workers to turn out
endless varieties of attempts at decoration,--all so hideous that a poor
person must be content, either to be surrounded by the worst possible
taste, or to purchase only such furnishings and utensils as are entirely
without decoration of any kind. "Cheap" and "nasty" have come to be
almost synonymous words with us, for the reason that taste in decoration
is so rare that it commands a monopoly price, and can only be procured
by the wealthy. In Japan this is not the case, for the cheapest of
things may be found in graceful and artistic designs,--indeed can
hardly be found in any designs that are not graceful and artistic; and
the poorest and commonest of the people may have about them the little
things that go to cultivate the æsthetic part of human nature. It was
not the costly art of Japan that interested me the most, although that
is, of course, the most wonderful proof of the capacity and patience of
individuals among this héimin class: but it was the common, cheap,
every-day art that meets one at every turn; the love for the beautiful,
in both nature and art, that belongs to the common coolie as well as to
the nobleman. The cheap prints, the blue and white towels, the common
teacups and pots, the great iron kettles in use over the fire in the
farmhouse kitchen,--all these are things as pretty and tasteful in their
way as the rich crêpes, the silver incense burners, the delicate
porcelain, and the elegant lacquer that fill the storehouse of the
daimiō; and they show, much more conclusively than these costlier
things, the universal sense of beauty among the people.

The artisan works at his home, helped less often by hired laborers than
by his own children, who learn the trade of their father; and his
house, though small, is clean and tasteful, with its soft mats, its
dainty tea service, its little hanging scroll upon the walls, and its
vase of gracefully arranged flowers in the corner; for flowers, even in
winter and in the great city of Tōkyō, are so cheap that they are never
beyond the reach of the poorest. In homes that seem to the foreign mind
utterly lacking in the comforts and even the necessities of life, one
finds the few furnishings and utensils beautiful in shape and
decoration; and the money that in this country must be spent in beds,
tables, and chairs can be used for the purchase of _kakémonos_, flowers,
and vases, and for various gratifications of the æsthetic taste. Hence
it is that the Japanese laborer, who lives on a daily wage which would
reduce an American or European to the verge of starvation, finds both
time and money for the cultivation of that sense of beauty which is too
often crushed completely out of the lower classes by the burdens of this
nineteenth century civilization which they bear upon their shoulders. To
the Japanese, the "life is more than meat," it is beauty as well; and
this love of beauty has upon him a civilizing and refining effect, and
makes him in many ways the superior of the American day-laborer.[*239]

The peasants and farmers of Japan, thrifty and hard-working as they are,
are not by any means a prosperous class. As one passes into the country
districts from the large cities, there seems to be a conspicuous dearth
of neat, pleasant homes,--a lack of the comforts and necessities of life
such as are enjoyed by city people. The rich farmers are scarce, and the
laborers in the rice-fields hardly earn, from days of hardest toil with
the rudest implements, the little that will provide for their families.
In the face of heavy taxes, the incessant toil, the frequent floods of
late years, and the threatening famine, one would expect the poor
peasants to be a most discouraged and unhappy class. That all this toil
and anxiety does wear on them is no doubt true, but the laborers are
always ready to bear submissively whatever comes, and are always hopeful
and prepared to enjoy life again in happier times. The charms of the
city tempt them sometimes to exchange their daily labor for the
excitement of life as _jinrikisha_ men; but in any case they will be
perfectly independent, and ask no man for their daily rations.

Although there is much poverty, there are few or no beggars in Japan,
for both strong and weak find each some occupation that brings the
little pittance required to keep soul and body together, and gives to
all enough to make them light-hearted, cheerful, and even happy. From
the rich farmer, whose many acres yield enough to provide for a home of
luxury quite as fine as the city homes, to the poor little vender of
sticks of candy, around whose store the children flock like bees with
their rin and sen, all seem independent, contented, and satisfied with
their lot in life.

The religious beliefs of old Japan are stronger to-day among the country
people than among the dwellers in cities. And they are still willing to
give of their substance for the aid of the dying faiths to which they
cling, and to undertake toilsome pilgrimages to obtain some longed-for
blessing from the gods whom they serve. A great Buddhist temple is being
built in Kyōtō to-day, from the lofty ceiling of which hangs a striking
proof of the devotion of some of the peasant women to the Buddhist
faith. The whole temple, with its immense curved roof, its vast
proportions, and its marvelous wood carvings, has been built by
offerings of labor, money, and materials made by the faithful. The great
timbers were given and brought to the spot by the countrymen; and the
women, wishing to have some part in the sacred work, cut off their
abundant hair, a beauty perhaps more prized by the Japanese women than
by those of other countries, and from the material thus obtained they
twisted immense cables, to be used in drawing the timbers from the
mountains to the site of the temple. The great black cables hang in the
unfinished temple to-day, a sign of the devotion of the women who spared
not their chief ornament in the service of the gods in whom they still
believe. And a close scrutiny of these touching offerings shows that the
glossy black locks of the young women are mingled with the white hairs
of those who, by this sacrifice, hope to make sure of a quick and easy
departure from a life already near its close.

All along the Tōkaidō, the great road from Tōkyō to Kyōto, in the
neighborhood of some holy place, or in the district around the great
and sacred Fuji, the mountain so much beloved and honored in Japanese
art, will be seen bands of pilgrims slowly walking along the road, their
worn and soiled white garments telling of many days' weary march. Their
large hats shield them from the sun and the rain, and the pieces of
matting slung over their backs serve them for beds to sleep on, when
they take shelter for the night in rude huts. The way up the great
mountain of Fuji is lined with these pilgrims; for to attain its summit,
and worship there the rising sun, is believed to be the means of
obtaining some special blessing. Among these religious devotees, in
costumes not unlike those of the men, under the same large hat and
coarse matting, old women often are seen, their aged faces belying their
apparent vigor of body, as they walk along through miles and miles of
country, jingling their bells and holding their rosaries until they
reach the shrine, where they may ask some special blessing for their
homes, or fulfill some vow already made.[*242]

Journeying through rural Japan, one is impressed by the important part
played by women in the various bread-winning industries. In the village
homes, under the heavily thatched roofs, the constant struggle against
poverty and famine will not permit the women to hold back, but they
enter bravely into all the work of the men. In the rice-field the woman
works side by side with the man, standing all day up to her knees in
mud, her dress tucked up and her lower limbs encased in tight-fitting,
blue cotton trousers, planting, transplanting, weeding, and turning over
the evil-smelling mire, only to be distinguished from her husband by her
broader belt tied in a bow behind. In mountain regions we meet the women
climbing the steep mountain roads, pruning-hook in hand, after wood for
winter fires; or descending, towards night, carrying a load that a
donkey need not be ashamed of, packed on a frame attached to the
shoulders, or poised lightly upon a straw mat upon the head. There is
one village near Kyōto, Yasé by name, at the base of Hiyéi Zan, the
historic Buddhist stronghold, where the women attain a stature and
muscular development quite unique among the pigmy population of the
island empire. Strong, jolly, red-cheeked women they are, showing no
evidence of the shrinking away with the advance of old age that is
characteristic of most of their countrywomen. With their tucked-up
_kimonos_ and blue cotton trousers, they stride up and down the
mountain, carrying the heaviest and most unwieldy of burdens as lightly
and easily as the ordinary woman carries her baby. My first acquaintance
with them was during a camping expedition upon the sacred mountain. I
myself was carried up the ascent by two small, nearly naked, finely
tattooed and moxa-scarred men; but my baggage, consisting of two closely
packed hampers as large as ordinary steamer trunks, was lifted lightly
to the heads of these feminine porters, and, poised on little straw
pads, carried easily up the narrow trail, made doubly difficult by
low-hanging branches, to the camp, a distance of three or four miles.
From among these women of Yasé, on account of their remarkable physical
development, have been chosen frequently the nurses for the imperial
infants; an honor which the Yasé villagers duly appreciate, and which
makes them bear themselves proudly among their less favored neighbors.

In other parts of the country, in the neighborhood of Nikkō, for
instance, the care of the horses, mild little pack-mares that do much of
the burden-bearing in those mountains, is mainly in the hands of the
women. At Nikkō, when we would hire ponies for a two days' expedition to
Yumoto, a little, elderly woman was the person with whom our bargains
were made; and a close bargainer she proved to be, taking every
advantage that lay in her power. When the caravan was ready to start, we
found that, though each saddle-horse had a male groom in attendance, the
pack-ponies on which our baggage was carried were led by pretty little
country girls of twelve or fourteen, their bright black eyes and red
cheeks contrasting pleasantly with the blue handkerchiefs that adorned
their heads; their slender limbs encased in blue cotton, and only their
red sashes giving any hint of the fact that they belonged to the weaker
sex. As we journeyed up the rough mountain roads, the little girls kept
along easily with the rest of the party; leading their meek,
shock-headed beasts up the slippery log steps, and passing an occasional
greeting with some returning pack-train, in which the soft black eyes
and bits of red about the costume of the little grooms showed that they,
too, were mountain maidens, returning fresh and happy after a two days'
tramp through the rocky passes.

In the districts where the silkworm is raised, and the silk spun and
woven, the women play a most important part in this productive industry.
The care of the worms and of the cocoons falls entirely upon the women,
as well as the spinning of the silk and the weaving of the cloth. It is
almost safe to say that this largest and most productive industry of
Japan is in the hands of the women; and it is to their care and skill
that the silk product of the islands is due. In the silk districts one
finds the woman on terms of equality with the man, for she is an
important factor in the wealth-producing power of the family, and is
thus able to make herself felt as she cannot when her work is inferior
to that of the men. As a farmer, as a groom, or as a porter, a woman is
and must remain an inferior, but in the care of the silkworms, and all
the tasks that belong to silk culture, she is the equal of the stronger

Then, again, in the tea districts, the tea plantations are filled with
young girls and old women, their long sleeves held back by a band over
the shoulder, and a blue towel gracefully fastened over their heads to
keep off the sun and the dust. They pick busily away at the green,
tender leaves, which will soon be heated and rolled by strong men over
the charcoal fire. The occupation is an easy one, only requiring care in
the selection of leaves to be picked, and can be performed by young
girls and old women, who gather the glossy leaves in their big baskets,
while chatting to each other over the gossip and news of the day.

In the hotels, both in the country and the city, women play an important
part. The attendants are usually sweet-faced, prettily dressed girls,
and frequently the proprietor of the hotel is a woman. My first
experience of a Japanese hotel was at Nara, anciently the capital of
Japan, and now a place of resort because of its fine old temples, its
Dai Butsu, and its beautiful deer park. The day's ride in _jinrikisha_
from Ōsaka had brought our party in very tired, only to find that the
hotel to which we had telegraphed for rooms was already filled to
overflowing by a daimiō and his suite. Not a room could be obtained, and
we were at last obliged to walk some distance, for we had dismissed our
tired _jinrikisha_ men, to a hotel in the village, of which we knew
nothing. What with fatigue and disappointment, we were not prepared to
view the unknown hotel in a very rosy light; and when our guide pointed
to a small gate leading into a minute, damp courtyard, we were quite
convinced that the hardships of travel in Japan were now about to begin;
but disappointment gave way to hope, when we were met at the door by a
buxom landlady, whose smile was in itself a refreshment. Although we had
little in the way of language in common, she made us feel at home at
once, took us to her best room, sent her blooming and prettily dressed
daughters to bring us tea and whatever other refreshments the mysterious
appetite of a foreigner might require, and altogether behaved toward us
in such motherly fashion that fatigue and gloom departed forthwith,
leaving us refreshed and cheerful. Soon we began to feel rested, and our
kind friend, seeing this, took us upon a tour around the house, in
which room after room, spotless, empty, with shining woodwork and
softest of mats, showed the good housekeeping of our hostess. A little
garden in the centre of the house, with dwarf trees, moss-covered
stones, and running water, gave it an air of coolness on the hot July
day that was almost deceptive; and the spotless wash-room, with its
great stone sink, its polished brass basins, its stone well-curb, half
in and half out of the house, was cool and clean and refreshing merely
to look at. A two days' stay in this hotel showed that the landlady was
the master of the house. Her husband was about the house constantly, as
were one or two other men, but they all worked under the direction of
the energetic head of affairs. She it was who managed everything, from
the cooking of the meals in the kitchen to the filling and heating of
the great bath-tub into which the guests were invited to enter every
afternoon, one after the other, in the order of their rank. On the
second night of my stay, at a late hour, when I supposed that the whole
house had retired to rest, I crept softly out of my room to try to
soothe the plaintive wails of my dog, who was complaining bitterly that
he was made to sleep in the wood-cellar instead of in his mistress's
room, as his habit had always been. As I stole quietly along, fearing
lest I should arouse the sleeping house, I heard the inquiring voice of
my landlady sound from the bath-room, the door of which stood wide open.
Afraid that she would think me in mischief if I did not show myself, I
went to the door, to find her, after her family was safely stowed away
for the night, taking her ease in the great tub of hot water, and so
preparing herself for a sound, if short, night's sleep. She accepted my
murmured _Inu_ (dog) as an excuse, and graciously dismissed me with a
smile, and I returned to my room feeling safe under the vigilant care
that seemed to guard the house by night as well as by day. I have seen
many Japanese hotels and many careful landladies since, but no one among
them all has made such an impression as my pleasant hostess at Nara.

Not only hotels, but little tea-houses all through Japan, form openings
for the business abilities of women, both in country and city. Wherever
you go, no matter how remote the district or how rough the road, at
every halting point you find a tea-house. Sometimes it is quite an
extensive restaurant, with several rooms for the entertainment of
guests, and a regular kitchen where fairly elaborate cooking can be
done; sometimes it is only a rough shelter, at one end of which water is
kept boiling over a charcoal brazier, while at the other end a couple of
seats, covered with mats or a scarlet blanket or two, serve as
resting-places for the patrons of the establishment. But whatever the
place is, there will be one woman or more in attendance; and if you sit
down upon the mats, you will be served at once with tea, and later,
should you require more, with whatever the establishment can afford,--it
may be only a slice of watermelon, or a hard pear; it may be eels on
rice, vermicelli, egg soup, or a regular dinner, should the tea-house be
one of the larger and more elaborately appointed ones. When the feast is
over, the refreshments you have especially ordered are paid for in the
regular way; but for the tea and sweetmeats offered, for which no
especial charge is made, you are expected to leave a small sum as a
present. In the less aristocratic resting-places, a few cents for each
person is sufficient to leave on the waiter with the empty cups of tea,
for which loud and grateful thanks will be shouted out to the retiring

In the regular inn, the _chadai_[41] amounts to several dollars, for a
party remaining any time, and it is supposed to pay for all the extra
services and attention bestowed on guests by the polite host and hostess
and the servants in attendance. The _chadai_, done up neatly in paper,
with the words _On chadai_ written on it, is given with as much
formality as any present in Japan. The guest claps his hands to summon
the maid. When it is heard, for the thin paper walls of a Japanese house
let through every noise, voices from all sides will shout out _Hē´-hē´_,
or _Hai_, which means that you have been heard, and understood.
Presently a maid will softly open your door, and with head low down will
ask what you wish. You tell her to summon the landlord. In a few
moments he appears, and you push the _chadai_ to him, making some
conventional self-depreciating speech, as, "You have done a great deal
for our comfort, and we wish to give you this _chadai_, though it is
only a trifle." The landlord, with every expression of surprise, will
bow down to the ground with thanks, raising the small package to his
head in token of acceptance and gratitude, and will murmur in low tones
how little he has done for the comfort of his guests; and then, the
self-depreciation and formal words of thanks on his side being ended, he
will finally go down stairs to see how much he has gotten. But, whether
more or less than he had expected, nothing but extreme gratitude and
politeness appears on his face as he presents a fan, confectionery, or
some trifle, as a return for the _chadai_, and speeds the parting guests
with his lowest bow and kindliest smile, after having seen to every want
that could be attended to.

[41] _Chadai_ is, literally, "money for tea," and is equivalent to our
tips to the waiters and porters at hotels. The _chadai_ varies with the
wealth and rank of the guests, the duration of the stay, and the
attention which has been bestowed. _On_ is the honorific placed before
the word in writing.

Once, at Nikkō, I started with a friend for a morning walk to a place
described in the guide-book. The day was hot and the guide-book hazy,
and we lost the road to the place for which we had set out, but found
ourselves at last in a beautiful garden, with a pretty lake in its
centre, a little red-lacquered shrine reflected in the lake, and a
tea-house hospitably open at one side. The teakettle was boiling over
the little charcoal fire; melons, eggs, and various unknown comestibles
were on the little counter; but no voice bade us welcome as we
approached, and when we sat down on the edge of the piazza, we could see
no one within the house. We waited, however, for the day was hot, and
time is not worth much in rural Japan. Pretty soon a small, wizened
figure made its appearance in the distance, hurrying and talking
excitedly as it came near enough to see two foreign ladies seated upon
the piazza. Many bows and profuse apologies were made by the little old
woman, who seemed to be the solitary occupant of the pretty garden, and
who had for the moment deserted her post to do the day's marketing in
the neighboring village. The apologies having been smilingly received,
the old lady set herself to the task of making her guests comfortable.
First she brought two tumblers of water, cold as ice, from the spring
that gushed out of a great rock in the middle of the little lake. Then
she retired behind a screen and changed her dress, returning speedily to
bring us tea. Then she retreated to her diminutive kitchen, and
presently came back smiling, bearing eight large raw potatoes on a tray.
These she presented to us with a deep bow, apparently satisfied that she
had at last brought us something we would be sure to like. We left the
potatoes behind us when we went away, and undoubtedly the old lady is
wondering still over the mysterious ways of the foreigners, as we are
over those of the Japanese tea-house keepers.

One summer, when I was spending a week at a Japanese hotel at quite a
fashionable seaside resort, I became interested in a little old woman
who visited the hotel daily, carrying, suspended by a yoke from her
shoulders, two baskets of fruit, which she sold to the guests of the
hotel. As I was on the ground floor, and my room was, in the daytime,
absolutely without walls on two sides, she was my frequent visitor, and,
for the sake of her pleasant ways and cheerful smiles, I bought enough
hard pears of her to have given the colic to an elephant. One day,
after her visit to me, as I was sitting upon the matted and roofed
square that served me for a room, my eye wandered idly toward the
bathing beach, and, under the slight shelter where the bathers were in
the habit of depositing their sandals and towels, I spied the well-known
yoke and fruit baskets, as well as a small heap of blue cotton garments
that I knew to be the clothing of the little fruit-vender. She had
evidently taken a moment when trade was slack to enjoy a dip in the
soft, blue, summer sea. Hardly had I made up my mind as to the meaning
of the fruit baskets and the clothing, when our little friend herself
emerged from the sea and, sitting down on a bench, proceeded to rub
herself off with the small but artistically decorated blue towel that
every peasant in Japan has always with him, however lacking he may be in
all other appurtenances of the toilet. As she sat there, placidly
rubbing away, a friend of the opposite sex made his appearance on the
scene. I watched to see what she would do, for the Japanese code of
etiquette is quite different from ours in such a predicament. She
continued her employment until he was quite close, showing no unseemly
haste, but continuing her polishing off in the same leisurely manner in
which she had begun it; then at the proper moment she rose from her
seat, bowed profoundly, and smilingly exchanged the greetings proper for
the occasion, both parties apparently unconscious of any lack in the
toilet of the lady. The male friend then passed on about his business;
the little woman completed her toilet without further interruptions,
shouldered her yoke, and jogged cheerfully on to her home in the little
village, a couple of miles away.

As one travels through rural Japan in summer and sees the half-naked
men, women, and children that pour out from every village on one's route
and surround the _kuruma_ at every stopping place, one sometimes wonders
whether there is in the country any real civilization, whether these
half-naked people are not more savage than civilized; but when one finds
everywhere good hotels, scrupulous cleanliness in all the appointments
of toilet and table, polite and careful service, honest and willing
performance of labor bargained for, together with the gentlest and
pleasantest of manners, even on the part of the gaping crowd that shut
out light and air from the traveling foreigner who rests for a moment at
the village inn, one is forced to reconsider a judgment formed only upon
one peculiarity of the national life, and to conclude that there is
certainly a high type of civilization in Japan, though differing in many
important particulars from our own. A careful study of the Japanese
ideas of decency, and frequent conversation with refined and intelligent
Japanese ladies upon this subject, has led me to the following
conclusion. According to the Japanese standard, any exposure of the
person that is merely incidental to health, cleanliness, or convenience
in doing necessary work, is perfectly modest and allowable; but an
exposure, no matter how slight, that is simply for show, is in the
highest degree indelicate. In illustration of the first part of this
conclusion, I would refer to the open bath-houses, the naked laborers,
the exposure of the lower limbs in wet weather by the turning up of the
_kimono_, the entirely nude condition of the country children in summer,
and the very slight clothing that even adults regard as necessary about
the house or in the country during the hot season. In illustration of
the last part, I would mention the horror with which many Japanese
ladies regard that style of foreign dress which, while covering the
figure completely, reveals every detail of the form above the waist,
and, as we say, shows off to advantage a pretty figure. To the Japanese
mind it is immodest to want to show off a pretty figure. As for the
ball-room costumes, where neck and arms are freely exposed to the gaze
of multitudes, the Japanese woman, who would with entire composure take
her bath in the presence of others, would be in an agony of shame at the
thought of appearing in public in a costume so indecent as that worn by
many respectable American and European women. Our judgment would indeed
be a hasty one, should we conclude that the sense of decency is wanting
in the Japanese as a race, or that the women are at all lacking in the
womanly instinct of modesty. When the point of view from which they
regard these matters is once obtained, the apparent inconsistencies and
incongruities are fully explained, and we can do justice to our
Japanese sister in a matter in regard to which she is too often cruelly

There seems no doubt at all that among the peasantry of Japan one finds
the women who have the most freedom and independence. Among this class,
all through the country, the women, though hard-worked and possessing
few comforts, lead lives of intelligent, independent labor, and have in
the family positions as respected and honored as those held by women in
America. Their lives are fuller and happier than those of the women of
the higher classes, for they are themselves bread-winners, contributing
an important part of the family revenue, and they are obeyed and
respected accordingly. The Japanese lady, at her marriage, lays aside
her independent existence to become the subordinate and servant of her
husband and parents-in-law, and her face, as the years go by, shows how
much she has given up, how completely she has sacrificed herself to
those about her. The Japanese peasant woman, when she marries, works
side by side with her husband, finds life full of interest outside of
the simple household work, and, as the years go by, her face shows more
individuality, more pleasure in life, less suffering and disappointment,
than that of her wealthier and less hard-working sister.



The great cities of Japan afford remarkable opportunities for seeing the
life of the common people, for the little houses and shops, with their
open fronts, reveal the _penetralia_ in a way not known in our more
secluded homes. The employment of the merchant being formerly the lowest
of respectable callings, one does not find even yet in Japan many great
stores or a very high standard of business morality, for the business of
the country was left in the hands of those who were too stupid or too
unambitious to raise themselves above that social class. Hence English
and American merchants, who only see Japan from the business side,
continually speak of the Japanese as dishonest, tricky, and altogether
unreliable, and greatly prefer to deal with the Chinese, who have much
of the business virtue that is characteristic of the English as a
nation. Only within a few years have the samurai, or indeed any one who
was capable of figuring in any higher occupation in life, been willing
to adopt the calling of the merchant; but many of the abler Japanese of
to-day have begun to see that trade is one of the most important factors
of a nation's well-being, and that the business of buying and selling,
if wisely and honestly done, is an employment that nobody need be
ashamed to enter. There are in Japan a few great merchants whose word
may be trusted, and whose obligations will be fulfilled with absolute
honesty; but a large part of the buying and selling is still in the
hands of mercantile freebooters, who will take an advantage wherever it
is possible to get one, in whose morality honesty has no place, and who
have not yet discovered the efficacy of that virtue simply as a matter
of policy. Their trade, conducted in a small way upon small means, is
more of the nature of a game, in which one person is the winner and the
other the loser, than a fair exchange, in which both parties obtain what
they want. It is the mediæval, not the modern idea of business, that is
still held among Japanese merchants. With them, trade is a warfare
between buyer and seller, in which every man must take all possible
advantage for himself, and it is the lookout of the other party if he is

In Tōkyō, the greatest and most modernized of the cities of the empire,
the shops are not the large city stores that one sees in European and
American cities, but little open-fronted rooms, on the edge of which one
sits to make one's purchases, while the proprietor smiles and bows and
dickers; setting his price by the style of his customer's dress, or her
apparent ignorance of the value of the desired article. Some few large
dry-goods stores there are, where prices are set and dickering is
unnecessary;[*264] and in the _kwankoba_, or bazaars, one may buy almost
anything needed by Japanese of all classes, from house furnishings to
foreign hats, at prices plainly marked upon them, and from which there
is no variation. But one's impression of the state of trade in Japan is,
that it is still in a very primitive and undeveloped condition, and is
surprisingly behind the other parts of Japanese civilization.

The shopping of the ladies of the large _yashikis_ and of wealthy
families is done mostly in the home; for all the stores are willing at
any time, on receiving an order, to send up a clerk with a bale of
crêpes, silks, and cottons tied to his back, and frequently towering
high above his head as he walks, making him look like the proverbial ant
with a grain of wheat. He sets his great bundle carefully down on the
floor, opens the enormous _furushiki_, or bundle handkerchief, in which
it is enveloped, and takes out roll after roll of silk or chintz, neatly
done up in paper or yellow cotton. With infinite patience, he waits
while the merits of each piece are examined and discussed, and if none
of his stock proves satisfactory, he is willing to come again with a new
set of wares, knowing that in the end purchases will be made sufficient
to cover all his trouble.

The less aristocratic people are content to go to the stores themselves;
and the business streets of a Japanese city, such as the Ginza in Tōkyō,
are full of women, young and old, as well as merry children, who enjoy
the life and bustle of the stores. Like all things else in Japan,
shopping takes plenty of time. At Mitsui's, the largest silk store in
Tōkyō, one will see crowds of clerks sitting upon the matted floors,
each with his _soroban_, or adding machine, by his side; and innumerable
small boys, who rush to and fro, carrying armfuls of fabrics to the
different clerks, or picking up the same fabrics after the customer who
has called for them has departed. The store appears, to the foreign eye,
to be simply a roofed and matted platform upon which both clerks and
customers sit. This platform is screened from the street by dark blue
cotton curtains or awnings hung from the low projecting eaves of the
heavy roof. As the customers take their seats, either on the edge of the
platform, or, if they have come on an extended shopping bout, upon the
straw mat of the platform itself, a small boy appears with tea for the
party; an obsequious clerk greets them with the customary salutations of
welcome, pushes the charcoal brazier toward them, that they may smoke,
or warm their hands, before proceeding to business, and then waits
expectantly for the name of the goods that his customers desire to see.
When this is given, the work begins; the little boys are summoned, and
are soon sent off to the great fire-proof warehouse, which stands with
heavy doors thrown open, on the other side of the platform, away from
the street. Through the doorway one can see endless piles of costly
stuffs stored safely away, and from these piles the boys select the
required fabric, loading themselves down with them so that they can
barely stagger under the weights that they carry. As the right goods are
not always brought the first time, and as, moreover, there is an endless
variety in the colors and patterns in even one kind of silk, there is
always plenty of time for watching the busy scene,--for sipping tea, or
smoking a few whiffs from the tiny pipes that so many Japanese, both men
and women, carry always with them. When the purchase is at last made,
there is still some time to be spent by the customer in waiting until
the clerk has made an abstruse calculation upon his _soroban_, the
transaction has been entered in the books of the firm, and a long bill
has been written and stamped, and handed to her with the bundle. During
her stay in the store, the foreign customer, making her first visit to
the place, is frequently startled by loud shouts from the whole staff
of clerks and small boys,--outcries so sudden, so simultaneous, and so
stentorian, that she cannot rid herself of the idea that something
terrible is happening every time that they occur. She soon learns,
however, that these manifestations of energy are but the way in which
the Japanese merchant speeds the departing purchaser, and that the
apparently inarticulate shouts are but the formal phrase, "Thanks for
your continued favors," which is repeated in a loud tone by every
employee in the store whenever a customer departs. When she herself is
at last ready to leave, a chorus of yells arises, this time for her
benefit; and as she skips into the _jinrikisha_ and is whirled away, she
hears continued the busy hum of voices, the clattering of _sorobans_,
the thumping of the bare feet of the heavily laden boys, and the loud
shouts of thanks with which departing guests are honored.

There is less pomp and circumstance about the smaller stores, for all
the goods are within easy reach, and the shops for household utensils
and chinaware seem to have nearly the whole stock in trade piled up in
front, or even in the street itself. Many such little places are the
homes of the people who keep them. And at the back are rooms, which
serve for dwelling rooms, opening upon well-kept gardens. The whole work
of the store is often attended to by the proprietor, assisted by his
wife and family, and perhaps one or two apprentices. Each of the
workers, in turn, takes an occasional holiday, for there is no day in
the Japanese calendar when the shops are all closed; and even New Year's
Day, the great festival of the year, finds most of the stores open. Yet
the dwellers in these little homes, living almost in the street, and in
the midst of the bustle and crowd and dust of Tōkyō, have still time to
enjoy their holidays and their little gardens, and have more pleasure
and less hard work than those under similar circumstances in our own

The stranger visiting any of the great Japanese cities is surprised by
the lack of large stores and manufactories, and often wonders where the
beautiful lacquer work and porcelains are made, and where the gay silks
and crêpes are woven. There are no large establishments where such
things are turned out by wholesale. The delicate vases, the bronzes,
and the silks are often made in humblest homes, the work of one or two
laborers with rudest tools. There are no great manufactories to be seen,
and the bane of so many cities, the polluting factory smoke, never rises
over the cities of Japan. The hard, confining factory life, with its
never-ceasing roar of machinery, bewildering the minds and intellects of
the men who come under its deadening influences, until they become
scarcely more than machines themselves, is a thing as yet almost unknown
in Japan. The life of the _jinrikisha_ man even, hard and comfortless as
it may seem to run all day like a horse through the crowded city
streets, is one that keeps him in the fresh air, under the open sky, and
quickens his powers both of body and mind. To the poor in Japanese
cities is never denied the fresh air and sunshine, green trees and
grass; and the beautiful parks and gardens are found everywhere, for the
enjoyment of even the meanest and lowest.

On certain days in the month, in different sections of the city, are
held night festivals near temples, and many shopkeepers take the
opportunity to erect temporary booths, in which they so arrange their
wares as to tempt the passers-by as they go to and fro. Very often there
is a magnificent display of young trees, potted plants, and flowers,
brought in from the country and ranged on both sides of the street. Here
the gardeners make lively sales, as the displays are often fine in
themselves, and show to a special advantage in the flaring torchlight.
The eager venders, who do all they can to call the attention of the
crowd to their wares, make many good bargains. The purchase requires
skill on both sides, for flower men are proverbial in their high
charges, asking often five and ten times the real value of a plant, but
coming down in price almost immediately on remonstrance. You ask the
price of a dwarf wistaria growing in a pot. The man answers at once,
"Two dollars." "Two dollars!" you answer in surprise, "it is not worth
more than thirty or forty cents." "Seventy-five, then," he will respond;
and thus the buyer and seller approach nearer in price, until the
bargain is struck somewhere near the first price offered. Price another
plant and there would be the same process to go over again; but as the
evening passes, prices go lower and lower, for the distances that the
plants have been brought are great, and the labor of loading up and
carrying back the heavy pots is a weary one, and when the last customer
has departed the merchants must work late into the night to get their
wares safely home again.

But beside the flower shows, there are long rows of booths, which, with
the many visitors who throng the streets, make a gay and lively scene.
So dense is the crowd that it is with difficulty one can push through on
foot or in _jinrikisha_. The darkness is illuminated by torches, whose
weird flames flare and smoke in the wind, and shine down upon the little
sheds which line both sides of the road, and contain so tempting a
display of cheap toys and trinkets that not only the children, but their
elders, are attracted by them. Some of the booths are devoted to dolls;
others to toys of various kinds; still others to birds in cages,
goldfish in globes, queer chirping insects in wicker baskets, pretty
ornaments for the hair, fans, candies, and cakes of all sorts, roasted
beans and peanuts, and other things too numerous to mention. The long
line of stalls ends with booths, or tents, in which shows of dancing,
jugglery, educated animals, and monstrosities, natural or artificial,
may be seen for the moderate admission fee of two sen. Each of these
shows is well advertised by the beating of drums, by the shouting of
doorkeepers, by wonderful pictures on the outside to entice the
passer-by, or even by an occasional brief lifting of the curtains which
veil the scene from the crowd without, just long enough to afford a
tantalizing glimpse of the wonders within. Great is the fascination to
the children in all these things, and the little feet are never weary
until the last booth is passed, and the quiet of neighboring streets,
lighted only by wandering lanterns, strikes the home-returning party by
its contrast with the light and noise of the festival. The supposed
object of the expedition, the visit to the temple, has occupied but a
small share of time and attention, and the little hands are filled with
the amusing toys and trifles bought, and the little minds with the merry
sights seen. Nor are those who remain at home forgotten, but the
pleasure-seekers who visit the fair carry away with them little gifts
for each member of the family, and the _O miagé_, or present given on
the return, is a regular institution of Japanese home life.[42]

[42] _O miagé_ must be given, not only on the return from an evening of
pleasure, but also on the return from a journey or pleasure trip of any
kind. As a rule, the longer the absence, the finer and more costly must
be the presents given on returning.

By ten o'clock, when the crowds have dispersed and the purchasers have
all gone home and gone to bed, the busy booth-keepers take down their
stalls, pack up their wares, and disappear, leaving no trace of the
night's gayeties to greet the morning sun.

Beside these evening shows, which occur monthly or oftener, there are
also great festivals of the various gods, some celebrated annually,
others at intervals of some years. These _matsuri_ last for several
days, and during that time the quarter of the city in which they occur
seems entirely given over to festivity. The streets are gayly decorated
with flags, and bright lanterns--all alike in design and color--are hung
in rows from the low eaves of the houses. Young bamboo-trees set along
the street, and decorated with bits of bright-colored tissue paper, are
a frequent and effective accompaniment of these festivals, and here and
there throughout the district are set up high stands, on the tops of
which musicians with squeaky flutes, and drums of varying calibre, keep
up a din more festive than harmonious. It takes a day or two for the
rejoicings to get fully under way, but by the second or third day the
fun is at its height, and the streets are thronged with merrymakers. A
great deal of labor and strength, as well as ingenuity, is spent in the
construction of enormous floats, or _dashi_, lofty platforms of two
stories, either set on wheels and drawn by black bullocks or crowds of
shouting men, or carried by poles on men's shoulders. Upon the first
floor of these great floats is usually a company of dancers, or mummers,
who dance, attitudinize, or make faces for the amusement of the crowds
that gather along their route; while up above, an effigy of some hero in
Japanese history, or the figure of some animal or monster, looks down
unmoved upon the absurdities below. Each _dashi_ is attended, not only
by the men who draw it, but by companies of others in some uniform
costume; and sometimes graceful professional dancing-girls are hired to
march in the _matsuri_ procession, or to dance upon the lofty _dashi_.
At the time of the festivities which accompanied the promulgation of the
Constitution, three days of jollification were held in Tōkyō, days of
such universal fun and frolic that it will be known among the common
people, to all succeeding generations, as the "Emperor's big _matsuri_."
Every quarter of the city vied with every other in the production of
gorgeous _dashi_, and the streets were gay with every conceivable
variety of decoration, from the little red-and-white paper lanterns,
that even the poorest hung before their houses, to the great evergreen
arches, set with electric lights, with which the great business streets
were spanned thickly from end to end. An evening walk through one of
these thoroughfares was a sight to be remembered for a lifetime. The
magnificent _dashi_ represented all manner of quaint conceits. A great
bivalve drawn by yelling crowds--which halted occasionally--opened and
displayed between its shells a group of beautifully dressed girls, who
danced one of the pantomimic dances of the country, accompanied by the
twanging melodies of the _samisen_. Then slowly the great shell closed,
once more the shouting crowds seized hold of the straining ropes, and
the great bivalve with its fair freight was drawn slowly along through
the gayly illuminated streets. Jimmu Tenno and other heroes of Japanese
legend or history, each upon its lofty platform, a white elephant, and
countless other subjects were represented in the festival cars sent
forth by all the districts of the city to celebrate the great event.

Upon such festival occasions the shopkeeper does not put up his shutters
and leave his place of business, but the open shop-fronts add much to
the gay appearance of the street. There are no signs of business about,
but the floor of the shop is covered with bright-red blankets;
magnificent gilded screens form an imposing background to the little
room; and seated on the floor are the shopkeeper, his family, and
guests, eating, drinking tea, and smoking, as cosily as if all the world
and his wife were not gazing upon the gay and homelike interior.
Sometimes companies of dancers, or other entertainments furnished by the
wealthier shopkeepers, will attract gaping crowds, who watch and block
the street until the advance guard of some approaching _dashi_ scatters
them for a moment.

In Japan, as in other parts of the world, the country people are rather
looked down upon by the dwellers in the city for their slowness of
intellect, dowdiness of dress, and boorishness of manners; while the
country people make fun of the fads and fashions of the city, and
rejoice that they are not themselves the slaves of novelty, and
especially of the foreign innovations that play so prominent a part in
Japanese city life to-day. "The frog in the well knows not the great
ocean," is the snub with which the Japanese cockney sets down Farmer
Rice-Field's expressions of opinion; while the conservative countryman
laughs at the foreign affectations of the Tōkyō man, and returns to his
village with tales of the cookery of the capital: so extravagant is it
that sugar is used in everything; it is even rumored that the Tōkyōites
put sugar in their tea.

But while the country laughs and wonders at the city, nevertheless, in
Japan as elsewhere, there is a constant crowding of the young life of
the country into the livelier and more entertaining city. Tōkyō
especially is the goal of every young countryman's ambition, and thither
he goes to seek his fortune, finding, alas! too often, only the hard lot
of the _jinrikisha_ man, instead of the wealth and power that his
country dreams had shown him.

The lower class women of the cities are in many respects like their
sisters of the rural districts, except that they have less freedom than
the country women in what the economists call "direct production." The
wells and water tanks that stand at convenient distances along the
streets of Tōkyō are frequently surrounded by crowds of women, drawing
water, washing rice, and chattering merrily over their occupations. They
meet and exchange ideas freely with each other and with the men, but
they have not the diversity of labor that country life affords,
confining themselves more closely to indoor and domestic work, and
leaving the bread-winning more entirely to the men.

There are, however, occupations in the city for women, by which they may
support themselves or their families. A good hair-dresser may make a
handsome living; indeed, she does so well that it is proverbial among
the Japanese that a hair-dresser's husband has nothing to do. Though
professional tailors are mostly men, many women earn a small pittance in
taking in sewing and in giving sewing lessons; and as instructors in the
ceremonial tea, etiquette, music, painting, and flower arrangement, many
women of the old school are able to earn an independence, though none of
these occupations are confined to the women alone.

The business of hotel-keeping we have referred to in a previous chapter,
and it is a well-known fact that unless a hotel-keeper has a capable
wife, his business will not succeed. At present, all over Tōkyō, small
restaurants, where food is served in the foreign style, are springing
up, and these are usually conducted by a man and his wife who have at
some time served as cook and waitress in a foreign family, and who
conduct the business cöoperatively and on terms of good-fellowship and
equality. In these little eating-houses, where a well-cooked foreign
dinner of from three to six courses is served for the moderate sum of
thirty or forty cents, the man usually does the cooking, the woman the
serving and handling of the money, until the time arrives when the
profits of the business are sufficient to justify the hiring of more
help. When this time comes, the labor is redistributed, the woman
frequently taking upon herself the reception of the guests and the
keeping of the accounts, while the hired help waits on the tables.

One important calling, in the eyes of many persons, especially those of
the lower classes, is that of fortune-telling; and these guides in all
matters of life, both great and small, are to be found in every section
of the city. They are consulted on every important step by believing
ones of all classes. An impending marriage, an illness, the loss of any
valuable article, a journey about to be taken,--these are all subjects
for the fortune-teller. He tells the right day of marriage, and says
whether the fates of the two parties will combine well; gives clues to
the causes of sudden illness, and information as to what has become of
lost articles, and whether they will be recovered or not. Warned thus by
the fortune-teller against evils that may happen, many ingenious
expedients are resorted to, to avoid the ill foretold.

A man and his family were about to move from their residence to another
part of the city. They sent to know if the fates were propitious to the
change for all the family. The day and year of birth of each was told,
and then the fortune-teller hunted up the various signs, and sent word
that the direction of the new home was excellent for the good luck of
the family as a whole, and the move a good one for each member of it
except one of the sons; the next year the same move would be bad for the
father. As the family could not wait two years before moving, it was
decided that the change of residence should be made at once, but that
the son should live with his uncle until the next year. The uncle's home
was, however, inconveniently remote, and so the young man stayed as a
visitor at his father's house for the remaining months of the year,
after which he became once more a member of the household. Thus the
inconvenience and the evil were both avoided.[*282]

Another story comes to my mind now of a dear old lady, the Go Inkyo Sama
of a house of high rank, who late in life came to Tōkyō to live with
her brother and his young and somewhat foreignized wife. The brother
himself, while not a Christian, had little belief in the old
superstitions of his people; his wife was a professing Christian. Soon
after the old lady's arrival in Tōkyō, her sister-in-law fell ill, and
before she had recovered her strength the children, one after another,
came down with various diseases, which, though in no case fatal, kept
the family in a state of anxiety for more than a year. The old lady was
quite sure that there was some witchcraft or art-magic at work among her
dear ones, and, after consulting the servants (for she knew that she
could expect no sympathy in her plans from either her brother or his
wife), she betook herself to a fortune-teller to discover through his
means the causes of the illness in the family. The fortune-teller
revealed to her the fact that two occult forces were at work bringing
evil upon the house. One was the evil spirit of a spring or well that
had been choked with stones, or otherwise obstructed in its flow, and
that chose this way of bringing its afflictions to the attention of
mortals. The other was the spirit of a horse that had once belonged in
the family, and that after death revenged itself upon its former masters
for the hard service wherewith it had been made to serve. The only way
in which these two powers could be appeased would be by finding the
well, and removing the obstructions that choked it, and by erecting an
image of the horse and offering to it cakes and other meat-offerings.
The fortune-teller hinted, moreover, that for a consideration he might
be able to afford material aid in the search for the well.

At this information Go Inkyo Sama was much perturbed, for further aid
for her afflicted family seemed to require the use of money, and of that
commodity she had very little, being mainly dependent upon her brother
for support. She returned to her home and consulted the servants upon
the matter; but though they quite agreed with her that something should
be done, they had little capital to invest in the enterprises suggested
by the fortune-teller. At last, the old lady went to her brother, but he
only laughed at her well-meant attempts to help his family, and refused
to give her money for such a purpose. She retired discouraged, but,
urged by the servants, she decided to make a last appeal, this time to
her sister-in-law, who must surely be moved by the evil that was
threatening herself and her children. Taking some of the head servants
with her, she went to her sister and presented the case. This was her
last resort, and she clung to her forlorn hope longer than many would
have done, the servants adding their arguments to her impassioned
appeals, only to find out after all that the steadfast sister could not
be moved, and that she would not propitiate the horse's spirit, or allow
money to be used for such a purpose. She gave it up then, and sat down
to await the fate of her doomed house, doubtless wondering much and
sighing often over the foolish skepticism of her near relatives, and
wishing that the rationalistic tendencies of the time would take a less
dangerous form than the neglecting of the plainest precautions for life
and health. The fate has not yet come, and now at last Go Inkyo Sama
seems to have resigned herself to the belief that it has been averted
from the heads of the dear ones by a power unknown to the

Beside these callings, there are other employments which are not
regarded as wholly respectable by either Japanese or foreigners. The
_géisha ya_, or establishments where dancing-girls are trained, and let
out by the day or evening to tea-houses or private parties, are usually
managed by women. At these establishments little girls are taken,
sometimes by contract with their parents, sometimes adopted by the
proprietors of the house, and from very early youth are trained not only
in the art of dancing, but are taught singing and _samisen_-playing, all
the etiquette of serving and entertaining guests, and whatever else goes
to make a girl charming to the opposite sex. When thoroughly taught,
they form a valuable investment, and well repay the labor spent upon
them, for a popular géisha commands a good price everywhere, and has her
time overcrowded with engagements. A Japanese entertainment is hardly
regarded as complete without géishas in attendance, and their dancing,
music, and graceful service at supper form a charming addition to an
evening of enjoyment at a tea-house. It is these géishas, too, who at
_matsuri_ are hired to march in quaint uniforms in the procession, or,
borne aloft on great _dashi_, dance for the benefit of the admiring

The Japanese dances are charmingly graceful and modest; the swaying of
the body and limbs, the artistic management of the flowing draperies,
the variety of themes and costumes of the different dances, all go to
make an entertainment by géishas one of the pleasantest of Japanese
enjoyments. Sometimes, in scarlet and yellow robes, the dainty maidens
imitate, with their supple bodies, the dance of the maple leaves as they
are driven hither and thither in the autumn wind; sometimes, with
tucked-up _kimonos_ and jaunty red petticoats, they play the part of
little country girls carrying their eggs to market in the neighboring
village. Again, clad in armor, they simulate the warlike gestures and
martial stamp of some of the old-time heroes; or, with whitened faces
and hoary locks, they perform with rake and broom the dance of the good
old man and old woman who play so prominent a part in Japanese pictures.
And then, when the dance is over, and all are bewitched with their grace
and beauty, they descend to the supper-room and ply their temporary
employers with the _saké_ bottle, laughing and jesting the while, until
there is little wonder if the young men at the entertainment drink more
than is good for them, and leave the tea-house at last thoroughly tipsy,
and enslaved by the bright eyes and merry wits of some of the Hebes who
have beguiled them through the evening.

The géishas unfortunately, though fair, are frail. In their system of
education, manners stand higher than morals, and many a géisha gladly
leaves the dancing in the tea-houses to become the concubine of some
wealthy Japanese or foreigner, thinking none the worse of herself for
such a business arrangement, and going cheerfully back to her regular
work, should her contract be unexpectedly ended. The géisha is not
necessarily bad, but there is in her life much temptation to evil, and
little stimulus to do right, so that, where one lives blameless, many go
wrong, and drop below the margin of respectability altogether. Yet so
fascinating, bright, and lively are these géishas that many of them have
been taken by men of good position as wives, and are now the heads of
the most respectable homes. Without true education or morals, but
trained thoroughly in all the arts and accomplishments that
please,--witty, quick at repartee, pretty, and always well dressed,--the
géisha has proved a formidable rival for the demure, quiet maiden of
good family, who can only give her husband an unsullied name, silent
obedience, and faithful service all her life. The freedom of the present
age, as shown in the chapter on "Marriage and Divorce," and as seen in
the choice of such wives, has presented this great problem to the
thinking women of Japan. If the wives of the leaders in Japan are to
come from among such a class of women, something must be done, and done
quickly, for the sake of the future of Japan; either to raise the
standards of the men in regard to women, or to change the old system of
education for girls. A liberal education, and more freedom in early life
for women, has been suggested, and is now being tried, but the problem
of the géisha and her fascination is a deep one in Japan.

Below the géisha in respectability stands the jōrō, or licensed
prostitute. Every city in Japan has its disreputable quarter, where the
various _jōrōya_, or licensed houses of prostitution, are situated. The
supervision that the government exercises over these places is extremely
rigid; the effort is made, by licensing and regulating them, to minimize
the evils that must flow from them. The proprietors of the _jōrōya_ do
everything in their power to make their houses, grounds, and employees
attractive, and, to the unsuspecting foreigner, this portion of the city
seems often the pleasantest and most respectable. A jōrō need never be
taken for a respectable woman, for her dress is distinctive, and a stay
of a short time in Japan is long enough to teach even the most obtuse
that the _obi_, or sash, tied in front instead of behind, is one of the
badges of shame. But though the occupation of the jōrō is altogether
disreputable,--though the prostitute quarter is the spot to which the
police turn for information in regard to criminals and law-breakers, a
sort of a trap into which, sooner or later, the offender against the law
is sure to fall,--Japanese public opinion, though recognizing the evil
as a great one, does not look upon the professional prostitute with the
loathing which she inspires in Christian countries. The reason for this
lies, not solely in the lower moral standards although it is true that
sins of this character are regarded much more leniently in Japan than in
England or America. The reason lies very largely in the fact that these
women are seldom free agents. Many of them are virtually slaves, sold in
childhood to the keepers of the houses in which they work, and trained,
amid the surroundings of the _jōrōya_, for the life which is the only
life they have ever known. A few may have sacrificed themselves freely
but reluctantly for those whom they love, and by their revolting slavery
may be earning the means to keep their dear ones from starvation or
disgrace. Many are the Japanese romances that are woven about the
virtuous jōrō, who is eventually rewarded by finding, even in the
_jōrōya_, a lover who is willing to raise her again to a life of
respectability, and make her a happy wife and the mother of children.
Such stories must necessarily lower the standard of morals in regard to
chastity, but in a country in which innocent romance has little room for
development, the imagination must find its materials where it can.
These _jōrōya_ give employment to thousands of women throughout the
country, but in few cases do the women seek that employment, and more
openings in respectable directions, together with a change in public
opinion securing to every woman the right to her own person, would tend
to diminish the number of victims that these institutions yearly draw
into their devouring current.

Innocent and reputable amusements are many and varied in the cities. We
have already mentioned incidentally the theatre as one of the favorite
diversions of the people; and though it has never been regarded as a
very refined amusement, it has done and is doing much for the education
of the lower classes in the history and spirit of former times. Regular
plays were never performed in the presence of the Emperor and his court,
or the Shōgun and his nobles, but the _No_ dance was the only dramatic
amusement of the nobility. This _No_ is an ancient Japanese theatrical
performance, more, perhaps, like the Greek drama than anything in our
modern life. All the movements of the actors are measured and
conventionalized, speech is a poetical recitative, the costumes are
stiff and antique, masks are much used, and a chorus seated upon the
stage chants audible comments upon the various situations. This alone,
the most ancient and classical of Japanese theatrical performances, is
considered worthy of the attention of the Emperor and the nobility, and
takes the place with them of the more vulgar and realistic plays which
delight common people.

The regular theatre preserves in many ways the life and costumes of old
Japan, and the details of dress and scenery are most carefully studied.
The actors are usually men, though there are "women theatres" in which
all the parts are performed by women. In no case are the rôles taken by
both sexes upon one stage. As the performances last all day, from ten or
eleven in the forenoon until eight or nine in the evening, going to the
theatre means much more than a few hours of entertainment after the
day's work is over. A lunch and dinner, with innumerable light edibles
between, go to make up the usual bill of fare for a day at the play, and
tea-houses in the neighborhood of the theatre provide the necessary
meals, a room to take them in, a resting-place between the acts, and
whatever tea, cakes, and other refreshments may be ordered. These latter
eatables are served by the attendants of the tea-house in the theatre
boxes while the play is in progress, and the playgoers eat and smoke all
day long through roaring farce or goriest tragedy.

Similar to the theatre in many ways are the public halls, where
professional story-tellers, the _hanashika_, night after night, relate
long stories to crowded audiences, as powerfully and vividly as the best
trained elocutionist. Each gesture, and each modulation of the voice, is
studied as carefully as are those of the actors. Many charming tales are
told of old Japan, and even Western stories have found their way to
these assemblies. A long story is often continued from night to night
until finished. Unfortunately, the class of people who patronize these
places is low, and the moral tone of some of the stories is pitched
accordingly; but the best of the story-tellers--those who have talent
and reputation--are often invited to come to entertainments given at
private houses, to amuse a large company by their eloquence or mimicry.

This is a very favorite entertainment, and the _hanashika_ has so
perfected the art of imitation that he can change in a moment from the
tones of a child to those of an old woman. Solemn and sad subjects are
touched upon, as well as merry and bright things, and he never fails to
make his audience weep or laugh, according to his theme, and well merits
the applause he always receives at the end.

The _hanami_, or picnic to famous places to view certain flowers as they
bloom in their season, though not belonging strictly to city life, forms
one of the greatest of the pleasures of city people. The river Sumida,
on which Tōkyō is situated, has lining its eastern shore for some miles
the famous cherry-trees of Japan, with their large, double pink
blossoms, and when, in April and May, these flowers are in their
perfection, great crowds of sightseers flock to Mukōjima to enjoy the
blossoms under the trees. The river is crowded with picnic parties in
boats. Every tea-house along the banks is full of guests, and the little
stalls and resting-places on the way find a quick sale for fruit,
confectionery, and light lunches. _Saké_ is often too freely imbibed by
the merrymakers, whose flushed faces show, when returning homeward, how
their day was spent. There is much quiet enjoyment, too, of the lovely
blossoms, the broad, calm river, and the gayly dressed crowds. Hundreds
and thousands of visitors crowd to the suburban places about Tōkyō,--to
Uyéno Park for its cherry and peach blossoms, Kaméido for the plum and
wistaria, Oji for its famous maple-trees, and many others, each noted
for some special beauty. Dango Zaka has its own peculiar attraction, the
famous chrysanthemum dolls. These ingenious figures are arranged so as
to form tableaux,--scenes from history or fiction well known to all the
people. They are of life size, and the faces, hands, and feet are made
of some composition, and closely resemble life in every detail. But the
curious thing in these tableaux is that the scenery, whether it be the
representation of a waterfall, rocks, or bushes, the animals, and the
dresses of the figures are made entirely of chrysanthemum twigs, leaves,
and flowers, not cut and woven in, as at the first glance they seem to
be,--so closely are the leaves and flowers bound together to make the
flat surface of different objects,--but alive and growing on the plants.
It is impossible to tell where the roots and stems are hidden, for
nothing is visible but (for example) the white spray and greenish
shadows of a waterfall, or the parti-colored figures in a young girl's
dress. But, should it be the visitor's good fortune to watch the
repairing of one of these lifelike images, he will find that the entire
body is a frame woven of split bamboo, within which the plants are
placed, their roots packed in damp earth and bound about with straw,
while their leaves and flowers are pulled through the basket frame and
woven into whatsoever pattern the artistic eye and skillful fingers of
the gardener may select. A roof of matting shields each group from the
sun by day, and a slight sprinkling every night serves to keep the
plants fresh for nearly a month, and the flowers continue their blooming
during that time, as calmly as if in perfectly natural positions. Each
of the gardeners of the neighborhood has his own little show, containing
several tableaux, the entrance to which is guarded by an officious
gate-keeper, who shouts out the merits of his particular groups of
figures, and forces his show-bills upon the passer-by, in the hope of
securing the two sen admission fee which is required for each exhibit.

And so, amid the shopping, the festivals, the amusements of the great
cities, the women find their lives varied in many ways. Their holidays
from home duties are spent amid these enjoyments; and if they have not
the out-of-door employments, the long walks up the mountains, the days
spent in tea-picking, in harvesting, in all the varied work that comes
to the country woman, the dwellers in the city have no lack of sights
and sounds to amuse and interest them, and would not often care to
exchange their lot for the freer and hardier life of the rustic.



To the foreigner, upon his arrival in Japan, the status of household
servants is at first a source of much perplexity. There is a freedom in
their relations with the families that they serve, that in this country
would be regarded as impudence, and an independence of action that, in
many cases, seems to take the form of direct disobedience to orders.
From the steward of your household, who keeps your accounts, makes your
purchases, and manages your affairs, to your _jinrikisha_ man or groom,
every servant in your establishment does what is right in his own eyes,
and after the manner that he thinks best. Mere blind obedience to orders
is not regarded as a virtue in a Japanese servant; he must do his own
thinking, and, if he cannot grasp the reason for your order, that order
will not be carried out. Housekeeping in Japan is frequently the despair
of the thrifty American housewife, who has been accustomed in her own
country to be the head of every detail of household work, leaving to her
servants only the mechanical labor of the hands. She begins by showing
her Oriental help the work to be done, and just the way in which she is
accustomed to having it done at home, and the chances are about one in a
hundred that her servant will carry out her instructions. In the
ninety-nine other cases, he will accomplish the desired result, but by
means totally different from those to which the American housekeeper is
accustomed. If the housewife is one of the worrying kind, who cares as
much about the way in which the thing is done as about the accomplished
result, the chances are that she will wear herself out in a fruitless
endeavor to make her servants do things in her own way, and will, when
she returns to America, assure you that Japanese servants are the most
idle, stupid, and altogether worthless lot that it was ever her bad
fortune to have to do with. But on the other hand, if the lady of the
house is one who is willing to give general orders, and then sit down
and wait until the work is done before criticising it, she will find
that by some means or other the work will be accomplished and her desire
will be carried out, provided only that her servants see a reason for
getting the thing done. And as she finds that her domestics will take
responsibility upon themselves, and will work, not only with their
hands, but with the will and intellect in her service, she soon yields
to their protecting and thoughtful care for herself and her interests,
and, when she returns to America, is loud in her praises of the
competence and devotion of her Japanese servants. Even in the treaty
ports, where contact with foreigners has given to the Japanese
attendants the silent and repressed air that we regard as the standard
manner for a servant, they have not resigned their right of private
judgment, but, if faithful and honest, seek the best good of their
employer, even if his best good involves disobedience of his orders.
This characteristic of the Japanese servant is aggravated when he is in
the employment of foreigners, for the simple reason that he is apt to
regard the foreigner as a species of imbecile, who must be cared for
tenderly because he is quite incompetent to care for himself, but whose
fancies must not be too much regarded. Of the relations of foreign
employers and Japanese servants much might be said, but our business is
with the position of the servants in a Japanese household.

Under the old feudal system, the servants of every family were its
hereditary retainers, and from generation to generation desired no
higher lot than personal service in the family to which they belonged.
The principle of loyalty to the family interests was the leading
principle in the lives of the servants, just as loyalty to the daimiō
was the highest duty of the samurai. Long and intimate knowledge of the
family history and traits of character rendered it possible for the
retainer to work intelligently for his master, and do independently for
him many things without orders. The servant in many cases knew his
master and his master's interests as well as the master himself, or even
better, and must act by the light of his own knowledge in cases where
his master was ignorant or misinformed. One can easily see how ties of
good-fellowship and sympathy would arise between masters and servants,
how a community of interest would exist, so that the good of the master
and his family would be the condition for the good of the servant and
his family. In America, where the relation between servant and employer
is usually a simple business arrangement, each giving certain specified
considerations and nothing more, the relation of servant to master is
shorn of all sentiment and affection; the servant's interests are quite
apart from those of his employer, and his main object is to get the
specified work done and obtain more time for himself, and sooner or
later to leave the despised occupation of domestic service for some
higher and more independent calling. In Japan, where faithful service of
a master was regarded as a calling worthy of absorbing any one's highest
abilities through a lifetime, the position of a servant was not menial
or degrading, but might be higher than that of the farmer, merchant, or
artisan. Whether the position was a high or a low one depended, not so
much on the work done, as the person for whom it was done, and the
servant of a daimiō or high rank samurai was worthy of more honor, and
might be of far better birth, than the independent merchant or artisan.
As the former feudal system is yet within the memory of many of the
present generation, and its feelings still alive in Japan, much of the
old sentiment remains, even with the merely hired domestics in a
household of the present day. The servant, by his own master, is
addressed by name, with no title of respect, is treated as an inferior,
and spoken to in the language used toward inferiors; but to all others
he is a person to be treated with respect,--to be bowed to profoundly,
addressed by the title San, and spoken to in the politest of language.
You make a call upon a Japanese household, and the servant who admits
you will expect to exchange the formal salutations with you. When you
are ushered into the reception-room, should the lady of the house be
absent, the head servants will not only serve you with tea and
refreshments and offer you hospitalities in their mistress's name, but
may, if no one else be there, sit with you in the parlor, entertaining
you with conversation until the return of the hostess. The servants of
the household are by no means ignored socially, as they are with us, but
are always recognized and saluted by visitors as they pass into and out
of the room, and are free to join in the conversation of their betters,
should they see any place where it is possible that they may shed light
on the subject discussed. But though given this liberty of speech,
treated with much consideration, and having sometimes much
responsibility, servants do not forget their places in the household,
and do not seem to be bold or out of place. Indeed, the manners of some
of them would seem, to any one but a Japanese, to denote a lack of
proper self-respect,--an excess of humility, or an affectation of it.

In explaining to my scholars, who were reading "Little Lord Fauntleroy"
in English, a passage where a footman is spoken of as having nearly
disgraced himself by laughing at some quaint saying of the young lord,
my little peeresses were amazed beyond measure to learn that in Europe
and America a servant is expected never to show any interest in, or
knowledge of, the conversation of his betters, never to speak unless
addressed, and never to smile under any circumstances. Doubtless, in
their shrewd little brains, they formed their opinion of a civilization
imposing such barbarous restraints upon one class of persons.

The women servants in a family are in position more like the
self-respecting, old-fashioned New England "help" than they are like the
modern "girl." They do not work all day while the mistress sits in the
parlor doing nothing, and then, when their day's work is done, go out,
anxious to forget, in the society of their friends, the drudgery which
only the necessity for self-support and the high wages to be earned
render tolerable. As has been explained in a previous chapter, the
mistress of the house--be she princess or peasant--is herself the head
servant, and only gives up to her helpers the part of the labor which
she has not the time or strength to perform. Certain menial duties
toward her husband and children, every Japanese wife and mother must do
herself, and would scorn to delegate to any other woman except in case
of absolute necessity. Thus there is not that gap between mistress and
maid that exists in our days among the women of this country. The
servants work with their mistress, helping her in every possible way,
and are treated as responsible members of the household, if not of the
family itself.

At evening, when the wooden shutters are slid into their places around
the porch and the lamps are lighted, the family gather together in the
sitting-room around the _hibachi_ to talk, free from interruption, for
no visitor comes at such an hour to disturb the family circle. The
mother will have her sewing or work, the children will study their
lessons, and the others will talk or amuse themselves in various ways.
Then, perhaps, the maidservants, having finished their tasks about the
house, will join the circle,--always at a respectful distance,--will do
their sewing and listen to the talk, and often join in the conversation,
but in the most humble manner. Perhaps, at times, some one more
ambitious than the others will bring in a book, and ask the meaning of a
word or a phrase she has met in studying, and little helps of this kind
are given most willingly.

We have seen that the ladies-in-waiting in the houses of the nobles are
daughters of samurai, who gladly serve in these positions for the sake
of the honor of such service, and the training they receive in noble
houses. In a somewhat similar way, places in the homes of those of
distinction or skill in any art or profession are held in great demand
among the Japanese; and a prominent poet, scholar, physician, or
professional man of any kind is often asked by anxious parents to take
their sons under his own roof, so that they may be under his influence,
and receive the benefits of stay in such an honorable house. The parents
who thus send their children may not be of low rank at all, but are
usually not sufficiently well-to-do to spend much money in the education
of their children. The position that such boys occupy in the household
is a curious one. They are called _Sho-séi_, meaning students, and
students they usually are, spending all their leisure moments and their
evenings in study. They are never treated as inferiors, except in age
and experience; they may or may not eat with the family, and are always
addressed with respect. On the other hand, they always feel themselves
to be dependents, and must be willing without wages to work in any
capacity about the house, for the sake of picking up what crumbs of
knowledge may fall to them from their master's table. Service is not
absolutely demanded of them, but they are expected to do what will pay
for their board, and do not regard menial work as below them, performing
cheerfully all that the master may require of them.

In this way, a man of moderate means can help along many poor young men
in whom he may feel interested, and in return be saved expense about his
household work; and the students, while always considerately treated,
are able without great expense to study,--often even to prepare for
college, or get a start in one of the professions, for they have many
leisure moments to devote to their books. Many prominent men of the
present day have been students of this class, and are now in their turn
helping the younger generation.

The boys that one sees in shops, or, with workmen of all kinds, helping
in many little ways, are not hirelings, but apprentices, who hope some
day to hold just as good positions as their masters, and expect to know
as much, if not a great deal more. At the shop or in the home, they not
only help in the trades or occupations they are learning, but are
willing to do any kind of menial work for their master or his family in
return for what they receive from him; for they do not pay for their
board nor for what they are taught. Even when the age of education is
already past, grown men and women are willing to leave quite independent
positions to shine with reflected glory as servants of persons of high
rank or distinction. "The servant is not greater than his master" in
Japan; but if the master is great, the servant is considerably greater
than the man without a master.

In a country like Japan, where one finds but few wealthy people, there
may be cause for wonder at the large households, where there are so many
servants. There will be often as many as ten or more servants in a home
where, in other ways, luxury and wealth are not displayed. In the _oku_,
or the part of the house where the lady of the house stays, are found
her own maid, and women who help in the work about the house, sew in
their leisure moments, and are the higher servants of the family; there
are also the children's attendants, often one for each child, as well as
the waiting women for the Go Inkyo Sama. In the kitchen are the cooks
and their assistants, the lower servants, and usually one or more
_jinrikisha_ men, who belong to the house, and, if this be the home of
an official who keeps horses, a _bettō_ for each animal. There are also
gardeners, errand-boys, and gate-keepers to guard the large _yashikis_.
Such a retinue would seem a great deal to maintain; but servants' wages
are so low, and the cost of living is so small, that in this matter
Japanese can afford to be luxurious. Three or four dollars will cover
the cost of food for a month for one person, and women servants expect
only a few dollars in wages for that time. The men receive much higher
pay, but at the most it is less than what a good cook receives in many
homes here. The wages do not include occasional presents, especially
those given semi-annually,--a small sum of money, or dress material of
some kind,--which servants expect, and which, of course, are no small
item in the family expense.

Homes which maintain a great deal of style need many servants, for they
expect to work less than the American servant, and are less able to
hurry and rush through their work; and they do not desire, if they
could, to take life so hard, even to earn greater pay. The family, too,
in many cases are used to having plenty of hands to do the work; the
ladies are much less independent, and life has more formalities and red
tape in Japan than in America. A great deal of the shopping is done by
servants, who are sent out on errands and often do important business.
Maids accompany their mistresses to make visits; servants go with
parties to the theatre, to picnics, or on journeys, and these
expeditions are as heartily enjoyed by them as by their masters. It is
expected, especially of ladies and persons of high rank, that the
details of the journey, the bargaining with coolies, the hiring of
vehicles, and paying of bills, be left in charge of some manservant, who
is entirely responsible, and who makes all the bargains, arranges the
journey for his employer, and takes charge of everything,--even to the
amount of fees given along the way.

Perhaps the highest positions of service now--positions honorable
anywhere in Japan--are held by those who remain of the old retainers of
daimiōs, and who regulate the households of the nobles. Such men must
have good education, and good judgment; for much is left in their
hands, and they are usually gentlemen, who would be known as such
anywhere. They are the stewards of the household, the secretaries of
their masters; keep all accounts, for which they are responsible, and
attend to the minor affairs of etiquette,--the latter no trifling duty
in a noble's home. It is they who accompany the nobles on their
journeys,--regulate, advise, and attend to the little affairs of life,
of which the master may be ignorant and cares not to learn. They are the
last of the crowds of feudal retainers, who once filled castle and
_yashiki_, and are now scattered throughout the length and breadth of
the kingdom.

The higher servants in the household must be always more or less trained
in etiquette, and are expected to look neat and tidy; to serve guests
with tea and refreshments, without any orders to that effect; and to use
their judgment in little household affairs, and thus help the lady of
the house. They are usually clever with their fingers, and can sew
neatly. When their mistress goes out they assist her to dress, and only
a few words from her will be necessary for them to have everything in
readiness, from her sash and dress to all the little belongings of a
lady's costume. Many a bright, quick servant is found who will
understand and guess her mistress's wants without being told each
detail, and these not only serve with their hands, but think for their

Much less is expected of the lower servants, who belong to the kitchen,
and have less to do with the family in general, and little or no
personal contact with their masters. They perform their round of duties
with little responsibility, and are regarded as much lower in the social
scale of servants, of which we have seen there are many degrees.

The little _gozen-taki_, or rice-cook, who works all day in the kitchen,
may be a fat, red-cheeked, frowsy-haired country girl,--patient,
hard-working, and humble-minded,--willing to pother about all day with
her kettles and pans, and sit up half the night over her own sewing, or
the study of the often unfamiliar art of reading and writing; but
entirely unacquainted with the details of etiquette, a knowledge of
which is a necessity to the higher servants,--sometimes even thrown
into an agony of diffidence should it become necessary to appear before
master or mistress.

Some of the customs of the household, in regard to servants, are quite
striking to a foreigner. When the master of the house starts out each
morning, besides the wife and children who see him off, all the servants
who are not especially occupied--a goodly number, sometimes--come to the
front door and bow down to bid him good-by. On his return, also, when
the noise of the _kuruma_ is heard, and the shout of the men, who call
out "_O kaeri!_" when near the house, the servants go out to greet him,
and bowing low speak the customary words of salutation. To a greater or
less degree, the same is done to every member of the family, the younger
members, however, receiving a smaller share of the attention than their

When, as very often happens, a guest staying for any length of time in a
family, or a frequent visitor, gives a servant a present of money or any
trifle, the servant, after thanking the donor, takes the white paper
bundle to the mistress of the house, and shows it to her, expressing his
gratitude to her for the gift, and also asking her to thank the giver.
This, of course, is always done, for a gift to a servant is as much of a
favor to the mistress as a present to a child is to its mother.

When a servant wishes to leave a family, she rarely goes to her mistress
and states that she is dissatisfied with her position, and that some
better chance has been offered her. Such a natural excuse never occurs
to the Japanese servant, unless he be a _jinrikisha_ man or _bettō_, who
may not know how to do better; for it is a very rude way of leaving
service. The high-minded maid will proceed very differently.

A few days' leave of absence to visit home will be asked and usually
granted, for Japanese servants never have any settled time to take
holiday. At the end of the given time the mistress will begin to wonder
what has become of the girl, who has failed to return; and the lady will
make up her mind she will not let her go again so readily. Just when she
has a sharp reproof ready, a messenger or letter will arrive, with some
good excuse, couched in most polite and humble terms. Sometimes it will
be that she has found herself too weak for service, or that work at
home, or the illness of some member of the family, detains her, so that
she is not able to come back at present. The excuse is understood and
accepted as final, and another servant is sought for and obtained. After
several weeks have passed, very likely after entering a new place, the
old servant will turn up some day, express her thanks for all past
kindnesses and regrets at not returning in time, will take her pay and
her bundles, and disappear forever.

Even when servants come on trial for a few days, they often go away
nominally to fetch their belongings, or make arrangements to return, but
the lady of the house does not know whether the woman is satisfied or
not. If she is not, her refusal is always brought by a third person. If
the mistress, on her side, does not wish to hire the girl, she will not
tell her so to her face, but will send word at this time to prevent her
coming. Such is the etiquette in these matters of mistress and

Only by a multiplicity of details is it possible to give much idea of
the position of servants in a Japanese house, and even then the result
arrived at is that the positions of what we would call domestic
servants vary so greatly in honor and responsibility that it is almost
impossible to draw any general conclusions upon this subject. We have
seen that there is no distinct servile class in Japan, and that a
person's social status is not altered by the fact that he serves in a
menial capacity, provided that service be of one above him in rank and
not below him. This is largely the result of the grading of society upon
other lines than those on which our social distinctions are founded, and
partly the result of the fact that women, of whatever class, are
servants so far as persons of the opposite sex in their own class are
concerned. The women of Japan to-day form the great servile class, and,
as they are also the wives and mothers of those whom they serve, they
are treated, of course, with a certain consideration and respect never
given to a mere servant; and through them, all domestic service is

There are two employments which I have mentioned among those of domestic
servants because they would be so classed by us, but which in Japan rank
among the trades. The _jinrikisha_ man and the groom belong, as a rule,
to a certain class at the bottom of the social ladder, and no samurai
would think of entering either of these occupations, except under stress
of severest poverty. The _bettōs_, or grooms, are a hereditary class and
a regular guild, and have a reputation, among both Japanese and
foreigners, as a betting, gambling, cheating, good-for-nothing lot. An
honest _bettō_ is a rare phenomenon. The _jinrikisha_ men are, many of
them, sons of peasants, who come to the cities for the sake of earning
more money, or leading a livelier life than can be found in the little
thatched cottage among the rice-fields. Few of them are married, or have
homes of their own. Many of them drink and gamble, and sow their wild
oats in all possible ways; but they are a well-meaning, fairly honest,
happy-go-lucky set, who lead hard lives of exhausting labor, and endure
long hours of exposure to heat and cold, rain, snow, and blinding
sunshine, not only with little complaint or grumbling, but with absolute
cheerfulness and hilarity. A strong, fast _jinrikisha_ man takes great
pride in his strength and speed. It is a point of honor with him to pull
his passenger up the steepest and most slippery of hills, and never to
heed him if he expresses a desire to walk in order to save his man. I
have had my _kurumaya_ stoutly refuse, again and again, my offers to
walk up a steep hill, even when the snow was so soft and slippery under
his bare feet that he fell three times in making the ascent. "_Dai
jobu_" (safe) would be his smiling response to all my protestations;
and, once in a _jinrikisha_, the passenger is entirely at the mercy of
his man in all matters of getting into and out of the vehicle. But
though the _jinrikisha_ man is, for the time being, the autocrat and
controlling power over his passenger, and though he will not obey the
behests of his employer, except so far as they seem reasonable and in
accordance with the best interests of all concerned, he constitutes
himself the protector and assistant, the adviser and counselor, of him
whom he serves, and gives his best thought and intelligence, as well as
his speed and strength, to the service in which he is engaged. If he
thinks it safe, he will tear like an unbroken colt through the business
portions of the city, knocking bundles out of the hands of foot
passengers, or even hitting the wayfarers themselves in a fierce dash
through their midst, laughing gayly at their protests, and at threats of
wrath to come from his helpless passenger; but should hint of insult or
injury against _kuruma_, passenger, or passenger's dog fall upon his
ears, he will drop the _jinrikisha_ shafts, and administer condign
punishment to the offender, unchecked by thoughts of the ever-present
police, or by any terrors that his employer may hold over his head. In
no other country in the world, perhaps, can a lady place more entire
confidence in the honor and loyalty of her servant than she can in Japan
in her _kurumaya_, whether he be her private servant, or one from a
respectable stand. He may not do what she bids him, but that is quite a
secondary matter. He will study her interests; will remember her likes
and dislikes; will take a mental inventory of the various accessories or
bundles that she carries with her, and will never permit her to lose or
forget one of them; will run his legs off in her service, and defend her
and her property valiantly in case of need. Of course, as in all classes
there are different grades, so there are _jinrikisha_ men who seem to
have sunk so low in their calling that they have lost all feeling of
loyalty to their employer, and only care selfishly for the pittance they
gain. Such men are often found in the treaty ports, eagerly seeking for
the rich foreigner, from whom they can get an extra fee, and whom they
regard as outside of their code of morals, and hence as their natural
prey. Travelers, and even residents of Japan, have often complained of
such treatment; and it is only after long stay in Japan, among the
Japanese themselves, that one can tell what a _jinrikisha_ man is
capable of.[*322]

If you employ one _kurumaya_ for any length of time, you come to have a
real affection for him on account of his loyal, faithful, cheerful
service, such as we seldom find in this country except when inspired by
personal feeling. When you have ridden miles and miles, by night and by
day, through rain and sleet and hottest sunshine, behind a man who has
used every power of body and mind in your service, you cannot but have a
strong feeling of affection toward him, and of pride in him as well. It
is something the feeling that one has for a good saddle-horse, but more
developed. You rejoice, not only in his strength and speed, put forth so
willingly in your service; in his picturesque, dark blue costume with
your monogram embroidered on the back; in his handsomely turned ankles;
in his black, wavy hair; in his delicate hands and trim waist,--though
these are often a source of pride to you,--but his skill in divining
your wants; his use of his tongue in your service; his helping out of
your faltering Japanese with explanations which, if not elegant, have
the merit of being easily understood; his combats with extortionate
shopkeepers in your behalf; his interest in all your doings and
concerns,--remain as a pleasant memory, upon your return to a land where
no man would so far forget his manhood as to give himself so completely
and without reserve to the service of any master save Mammon.

As old Japan, with its quaintness, its mediæval flavor, its feudalism,
its loyalty, its sense of honor, and its transcendental contempt for
money and luxury, recedes into the past, and as the memories of my life
there grow dim, two figures stand out more and more boldly from the
fading background,--both, the figures of faithful servants. One, Yasaku,
the _kurumaya_, a very Hercules, who could keep close to a pair of coach
horses through miles of city streets, and who never suffered mortal
_jinrikisha_ man to pass him. My champion in all times of danger and
alarm, but a very autocrat in all minor matters,--his cheery face, his
broad shoulders with their blue draperies, his jolly, boyish voice, and
his dainty, delicate hands come before me as I write, and I wonder to
what fortunate person he is now giving the intelligent service that he
once gave so whole-heartedly to me. The other, O Kaio, my maid, her
plain little face, with its upturned eyes, growing, as the days went by,
absolutely beautiful in the light of pure goodness that beamed from it.
A Japanese Christian, with all the Christian virtues well developed, she
became to me not only a good servant, doing her work with conscientious
fidelity, but a sympathetic friend, to whom I turned for help in time of
need; and whom I left, when I returned to America, with a sincere sorrow
in my heart at parting with one who had grown to fill so large a place
in my thoughts. Her little, half-shy, half-motherly ways toward her big
foreign mistress had a charm all their own. Her pride and delight over
my progress in the language; her patient efforts to make me understand
new words, or to understand my uncouth foreign idioms; her joy, when at
last I reached the point where a story told by her lips could be
comprehended and enjoyed,--gave a continual encouragement in a task too
often completely disheartening.

During the last summer of my stay in Japan, cutting loose from all
foreigners and foreign associations, I traveled alone with her through
the heart of the country, stopping only at Japanese hotels, and carrying
with me no supplies to eke out the simple Japanese fare. Through floods
and typhoons we journeyed. Long days of scorching heat or driving rain
in no way abated her cheerfulness, or lessened her desire to do all that
she could for my aid and comfort. Not one sad look nor impatient word
showed a flaw in her perfect temper; and if she privately made up her
mind that I was crazy, she never by word or look gave a hint of her
thought. _Jinrikisha_ men grumbled and gave out; hotel-keepers resented
the presence of my dog, or presented extortionate bills; but O Kaio's
good temper and tact never failed her. Difficulties were smoothed away;
bills were compromised and reduced; the dog slept securely by my side on
a red blanket in the best rooms of the best hotels; and O Kaio smiled,
told her quaint stories, amused me and ministered to me, as if I were
her one object in life, though husband and children were far away in
distant Tōkyō, and her mother's heart yearned for her little ones.



Into the life of a Japanese home enter many customs and observances that
have not been dwelt upon in the preceding pages, but without some
understanding of which our knowledge of the life of Japanese women is by
no means complete. In Japan the woman's place is so entirely in the home
that all the ceremonies and superstitions that gather about the conduct
of every-day affairs are more to her than they are to the freer and
broader-minded man. The household worship, the yearly round of
festivals, each with its special food to be prepared, the observances
connected with birth and marriage and death; what is to be done in time
of illness, of earthquake, of fire, or of the frequent flittings that
render life in Japan one succession of packings and unpackings,--all
these are matters of high importance to the wife and mother, and their
proper observance is left largely in her hands.

Every well-ordered Japanese home of the old-fashioned kind has its
little shrine, which is the centre of the religious life of the house.
If the household is of the Shintō faith, this shrine is called the
_kami-dana_, or god shelf, and contains the symbols of the gods, _gohei_
in vases, receptacles for food and drink, and a primitive lamp,--only a
saucer of oil in which a bit of pith serves for a wick. Daily offerings
must be made before this shrine, and reverence paid by the clapping of
hands; while on feast days special offerings and invocations are
required. In Buddhist families, the _Butsudan_, or Buddha shelf, takes
the place of the _kami-dana_, and the worship is slightly more
complicated. Greater variety of food is offered, and the simple clapping
of the hands and bowing of the head that is the form of prayer in the
Shintō religion is replaced by the burning of incense and by actual
verbal invocation of Buddha. These religious ceremonies must be
attended to by the mother or wife. She it is who sets the rice and wine
before the ancestral tablets, who lights the little lamp each night, and
who sees that at each feast day and anniversary season the proper food
is prepared and set out for the household gods.

Upon the wife, and her attention to minute and apparently trifling
details, depends much of the well-being of the family. Each child, as it
grows toward maturity, gathers from various sources a collection of
amulets, which, while worn always when the child is in full dress, are
frequently too precious for ordinary play times and the risks and perils
of every-day life. These must be kept carefully by the mother as a
safeguard against the many evils that beset child-life. I have spoken of
the amulets given at the times of the _miya mairi_,--both the first,
when the name is given to the baby, and the subsequent visits made to
the temple by the children as they pass certain stated points in their
progress toward maturity. These amulets are simply written papers or
slips of wood with the seal of the temple from which they are issued
stamped upon them. Visits to noted temples by relatives and friends
often result in additions to the child's collection. One kind of charm
is good to keep the eyes strong; another will help its possessor to that
much-prized accomplishment, a good handwriting; another acts as an
assurance against accident and saves the child from harm in case of a
fall. All these are put together by the careful mother and preserved as
jealously as Queen Althea kept the charred stick that governed the
destiny of her son. As the children arrive at years of discretion, these
treasures pass out of the mother's faithful keeping into the hands of
their actual owners, and they are usually kept stored away in some
little-used drawer or cabinet until death removes the necessity for any
further safeguards over life. Perhaps of all the curious things that go
to make up these intimate personal belongings of a Japanese man or
woman, there is none more curious than the small white parcel containing
a portion of the umbilical cord,--saved at birth and preserved until
death that it may be buried with its possessor and furnish him the means
of a new birth. These little paper packages, each marked with the name
of the child to whom it belongs, are kept by the mother.

Upon the mother of the family rests very largely the determining of
lucky and unlucky days for the beginning or transaction of different
kinds of business. A fortune-teller is consulted for important things,
such as removals or marriages, but in every-day life one cannot be
running to a fortune-teller about everything; and yet there is bad luck
lurking in the background that may baffle all our plans if we do not
observe the proper times and seasons for our undertakings. Just as the
Japanese calendar divides time into cycles of twelve years, each year
named for a different animal, so also the days and hours are divided
into twelves and bear the names of the same twelve animals,--the Chinese
signs of the zodiac. These animals are as follows: the rat, the bull,
the tiger, the hare, the dragon, the snake, the horse, the goat, the
monkey, the cock, the dog, and the boar. Each animal brings its own
kind of good or bad luck into the hour, day, or year over which it
presides, and only a skillful balancer of pros and cons can read aright
the combinations, and understand what the luck of any particular hour in
any particular day of any particular year will be. For instance, the
rat, which is the companion of Daikoku, the money god, is a lucky animal
so far as money is concerned. A person born in the year of the rat will
never need money, and will be economical, possibly miserly; and in one
born on the day of the rat in the year of the rat these chances and
qualities will be doubled. But the luck of the rat may be very seriously
interfered with by the bad luck of the monkey or of the proverbially
unlucky dog, when their days and hours occur in the rat year. On the
other hand, their bad luck may be counteracted by the good luck of the
tiger or hare, for as a rule three animals of different portent are
presiding over human prospects every hour. This makes prophecy a
ticklish business, requiring a wise head, but it also leaves much room
for the subsequent explanation of failures by the superior and unusual
influence of one or another of the animals, as the case may require.
Momentous questions of this kind have frequently to be settled by the
Japanese wife and mother, and she gains dignity and value in her home
and neighborhood according to her skill in interpreting the portents of
the day and hour.

For the greater events of family life the home prophecies are felt to be
too uncertain, and the services of the fortune-teller must be called in.
No well-managed family would think of building a new house without
finding in what direction to face the front door. In an American city
this necessity would cause considerable inconvenience, as the position
of the front door is usually determined by the relation of the
building-lot to the street; but in a Japanese city, where, in all but
the business quarters, every house is concealed by a high board fence,
and where the gate that admits one within the fence is the only sign by
which any one in the street can judge of the worldly condition of the
dwellers within, the houses are faced about any and every way, and the
position of each is determined by the good luck that it will bring its
owner. After this matter has been settled and the house is fairly begun,
there are occasional crises in its construction upon which much depends.
Of these the most important is the day when the roof is raised. The roof
timbers, which are unsquared logs, often rather crooked, after being
carefully fitted and framed in some convenient vacant lot, are brought
on carts to the site of the new building, and when all is ready, the
head carpenter sends word to the house-owner that he is about to set the
roof in place. The house-owner then decides whether the day set by the
builder is a lucky one for himself and his family. If it is not, a delay
in the building is always preferable to any danger of incurring the
displeasure of the luck gods. This crisis safely passed, and the last of
the roof beams secured in its place, the men take a holiday, and are
feasted on _saké_ and spaghetti by the house-owner. A present of money
to each workman is also in order, and will conduce to the rapid and
faithful execution of the job in hand. When, at last, the house is
finished, and carpenters and plasterers are ready to leave it, the local
firemen, who have assisted all along in the building as unskilled
laborers, often ascend to the roof, and from the ridge-pole cast down
cakes, for which the children of the neighborhood scramble joyfully.

When the builders have left, and the house is ready for occupation, even
to the soft, thick mats on the floor and the white paper windows, the
family will move in on the first day thereafter that is both lucky and
pleasant. So far as possible, everything in the old house will be packed
and ready the day before, and very early in the morning the relatives
and friends of the mover will begin to rally around him. All come who
can, and those who cannot come send servants or provisions. Every
tradesman or _kurumaya_ who has had or who hopes to have the patronage
of the moving household sends a representative to help along the work,
so that there is always a sufficient force to carry the household
belongings into the new home and settle them in place before the day is
over. All these visiting helpers must be fed and provided with tea and
cakes at proper intervals, and the presents of cooked food that pour in
at such times are highly acceptable and of great practical usefulness.
When the long day is ended and the visitors return one by one to their
homes, it is the mistress of the house who must see that every servant
and representative of a business firm receives, neatly done up in white
paper, a present of money properly proportioned to his services, and the
style and circumstances of the family he has been aiding. And when all
are gone, the shutters closed, and the family left alone in their new
home, the little wife must make a list of all who have helped in any way
during the day, and to all, within a short time, make some
acknowledgment of their kindness by either a call or a present. It is
upon the wife, too, that the duty falls of sending to each of the near
neighbors _soba_, a kind of macaroni, as an announcement of the family's
arrival. The number of neighbors to whom this gift is sent is
determined differently according to circumstances. If the house is one
of several in a compound, _soba_ will be sent to all within the gate;
but if the compound is very large, so that the sending to all would be
too great an expense, the five nearest houses will be selected to
receive the gift, or all who draw water from the same well. A very late
fashion in Tōkyō, but one that is gaining ground because of its
convenience, is to send, not the macaroni itself, but an order on the
nearest restaurant at which that delicacy is sold.

As I have already said, much of a woman's time and thought must be given
to the proper distribution of presents among friends and dependents. The
subject of what to give, when to give, to whom to give, and how to do up
the gift acceptably, is one the thorough understanding of which requires
the study of years. No foreigner can hope to do more than dabble in the
shallows of it. Presents seem to be used more for the purpose of keeping
those persons whose services you may need, or whose enmity you dread,
under a sense of obligation, than they are as expressions of sentiment.
Every housekeeper, for instance, must need the occasional services of a
carpenter or a gardener, and in a large city like Tōkyō the chances are
that she will some day need, and need very badly, the services of a
fireman. A wise woman--one who is not penny wise and pound foolish--will
by timely presents keep herself constantly in the minds of such persons,
so that when she sends for them, they may feel under sufficient
obligation to her to come at once. So will her house be quickly put in
repair after earthquake or other accident; her garden show for only the
briefest interval the ravages of the typhoon which has gullied out her
lawn and leveled her choicest trees; and when some night "the flower of
Yedo" blooms suddenly by her side, she will have the speedy assistance
of the firemen, who will seal her storehouse securely with clay, wet her
roof and walls thoroughly with water, and light at her gates the great
alarm lanterns to tell her friends that her house is in danger and
summon them to her assistance. No friend can disregard such a signal,
but all will rally round her once more to help in this less orderly and
cheerful moving,--will pack and cord and carry out her goods, and if at
last the fire consumes her dwelling, will gather her household and
belongings into their hospitable homes. But the foolish woman, who
neglects or forgets her dependents when she does not need them, finds
some day that her roof is leaking, but all the carpenters are too busy
to mend it, her garden is destroyed because the gardener had an
important engagement elsewhere just when she needed him, and her
property is burned up or ruined by water and smoke because the firemen
attended to her house last when the fire swept over her compound.

When death enters a house in Japan, there are no undertakers to relieve
the family of the painful duty of caring for the dead body and placing
it in the coffin. There are coffin-makers and funeral managers who
supply the great white bier and lanterns and the bunches of paper
flowers that adorn every funeral procession, but within the house the
preparations are all made by the family and friends, and the heaviest
and most painful part of the work falls, as usual, on the women of the
family. As soon as the breath finally leaves the body, it is wrapped in
a quilt, laid with its head to the north, and an inverted screen placed
around it. On one corner of the screen is hung a sword or knife to keep
off any evil spirit that may wander into the room in the shape of a cat
and disturb the dead.

Etiquette requires that relatives and intimate friends of the family
call immediately on learning of the death. To receive these calls the
mourners, in full ceremonial dress, must sit in the death chamber and
remove for each guest the covering from the face of the dead. The
visitors then offer the ceremonial bows to the corpse, as if it were
alive. During this time, too, presents to the spirit of the dead are
pouring in. The proper offerings are flowers, cake, vegetables, candles,
incense, or small gifts of money for the purchase of incense. If the
deceased is a person of rank or distinction, the house is flooded with
cumbersome and useless offerings. This custom has become so great an
addition to the trials necessarily incident to a bereavement that one
occasionally sees in the newspaper announcements of deaths a request
that no offerings to the dead be sent.

On the day after the death, often in the evening, the body must be
placed in the cask-shaped coffin that until recently was the style
commonly in use in Japan. Now, among the wealthier classes, the long
coffin has superseded the small square or round one, but the smaller
expense connected with burial in the old way makes the survival of the
old type a necessity for the majority of Japanese. At an appointed time
all the relatives assemble in the death chamber, and preparations are
made for the bathing of the corpse. Two of the _tatami_, or floor mats,
are turned over, and upon them are placed a new tub, a new pail, and a
new dipper. These utensils must have no metal of any kind about them. In
the washing of the body none but members of the family must assist, and
respect for the dead absolutely requires that all the relatives of the
deceased who are below him in rank must have a hand in these final
ablutions. In Japan, the mourning for the dead is the duty of inferiors,
never of superiors. There is no official, ceremonial mourning of parents
for their children, nor does custom require them to perform any of the
last rites, or attend the funeral. Upon the younger brothers and sisters
falls the duty of attending to all the last sad ministrations. If the
wife dies, her husband does not mourn for her, though her children do;
but if the husband dies, the wife must mourn the rest of her life,
cutting off her hair and placing it in the coffin as a sign of her
perpetual faithfulness.

When the body has been washed, it is dressed in white, in silk _habutai_
whenever the family can afford it. The dress, which must be appropriate
to the season, in the making of which all the women of the family must
assist, is the plain, straight kimono, but must be folded from right to
left, instead of from left to right as in life. The body, to be placed
in the coffin, must be folded into a sitting posture, the chin resting
upon the knees,--the position of the mummies found in many aboriginal
American tombs. This difficult, to us apparently impossible feat, safely
accomplished, there are placed in the coffin a number of small things
that the dead takes with him to the next world. Some of these have been
already mentioned, the others are little keepsakes, or perhaps tokens of
the tastes and employments of the dead,--dice, cards, _saké_ bottles,
the image of a horse, toy weapons,--anything, provided only that it be
not of metal, may be used for this purpose. The single exception to this
rule about metal is that small copper coins may be put in, to fee the
old hag who guards the bank of the river of death. Last of all, the
vacant spaces in the coffin are filled in with bags of tea. Then the
coffin is closed and nailed up, wrapped with a white silk cloth fastened
with a white silk or cotton cord, and placed on a high stand, and food
and incense are placed before it.

So long as the coffin is in the house, it must be watched over
continually. To aid in this protracted vigil, which must be kept up day
and night until the burial, the relatives, friends, and retainers of the
dead assemble at the house in large numbers. In the case of a person of
wealth and influence, there will often be a hundred or more of these
watchers, who must be fed and cared for; and who take turns in watching,
eating, and sleeping. It is their duty to see that the incense burning
before the coffin is never allowed to go out, while the food for the
dead is renewed at regular intervals by the mourners themselves.

This somewhat detailed description of the duties to be performed by the
members of a bereaved family in the house of mourning is sufficient to
show that the presence of death in the home is made as terrible as
possible by the painful ceremonies, the continual bustle and excitement,
and the strain upon the resources and executive ability of the
housekeeper and her assistants. There are few enlightened Japanese who
will defend the present system of cruelty to the afflicted, or who do
not long for some change, but so great is the force of conservatism in
this regard, so haunting the fear that any change may indicate a lack
of respect for the dead, that reform advances slowly.

Individual instances occur in which some of the worst features of these
customs are modified. A case in point is that of the late Mr. Fukuzawa,
a man whose life was devoted to the advancement of his countrymen in
modern ways, and who in his death continued his teaching. In his will he
provided that his body was to be buried, without washing, in the
clothing in which he died. This provision would seem in most countries
to be mere eccentricity, but when one has seen or heard of the gruesome
ceremony that follows immediately after death, and the burden of which
falls, not on the old and hardened, but on the young and tender,
suffering, in many cases, under the weight of a first and crushing
affliction, one can see that only through such means as this can the
burden ever be lifted from the shoulders of those who mourn. There are
young and enlightened mothers in Japan to-day who have felt, in minds
awakened to thought and action, the horrors of the system, and who will
not allow their children to suffer for them what they have suffered in
paying respect to their dead parents. Through this growing feeling and
the unselfishness of maternal affection may come in time the release
from these mournful ceremonies.

While the body remains in the house, a priest comes from time to time to
offer prayers, longer or shorter according to the wealth of the family
employing him; and when the funeral cortège sets out on its way to the
cemetery, the priests in their professional robes form an imposing part
of the spectacle. The day of the burial is selected with due respect to
the calendar, for, though there may be little good luck about a funeral,
there is a chance of extremely bad luck growing out of it unless every
precaution is taken. Just before the procession starts, a religious
ceremony is held at the house, which is attended by the friends of the
deceased, and which is substantially the same as that performed at the
cemetery. On the day of the burial, great bunches of natural flowers are
sent to the dead, each bunch so large as to require the services of one
man to carry it. Sometimes with the gift a man is sent to take part in
the procession, but if the giver feels too poor to hire a man, this
burden, too, falls upon the bereaved household, for etiquette requires
that all flowers sent be borne to the grave by uniformed coolies, who
march in the funeral train. Another favorite present at this time, among
Buddhists, is a cage of living birds, to be borne to the grave and
released thereon. This act of mercy is counted to the deceased for
righteousness, and is believed to aid in rendering his next incarnation
a happy one.

A funeral procession is an imposing spectacle, and, to the uninstructed
foreigner, a cheerful one; for there is nothing sad or sombre in the
white, or bright-colored, robes of the priests, the white,
tinsel-decorated bier, the red and white flags borne aloft, the enormous
bunches of gay-colored flowers;--the very mourners in white silk, and
with faces apparently unmoved by grief, bring no thought of the object
of the procession to the Western mind. It seems more like a bridal than
a burial. But if you follow the cortège to the cemetery and there
listen to the wailing of the wind instruments, and the droning of the
priests as they perform the last rites, and watch the silent company
that one by one go forward to bow before the coffin and place upon it a
branch of _sakaki_ or burn a bit of incense, the trappings of woe in
Japan will impress themselves strongly upon your mind, and the gayly
appareled funeral processions will seem to you ever afterward as
mournful and hopeless a spectacle as you can find in any country.

The house of death remains a place of mourning for forty-nine days after
the funeral. During this period the spirit of the deceased is supposed
to be still inhabiting the house, and a tablet or shrine is set up in
the death chamber before which food and flowers are renewed daily.
Visitors are expected to make obeisance to the dead. At the end of this
time, some acknowledgment must be sent to every friend who has sent
anything to the house at the funeral. For a time after death has come
into the family the relatives of the dead are regarded as ceremonially
unclean. The period of defilement varies with the nearness of
relationship. In the old days, no one thus defiled was allowed to go
about his regular business or to mingle with other men; but busy modern
Japan does not find it convenient to pause long in its work, so that
government officials and school-children are now sent written papers
excusing them for coming back to their tasks even while ceremonially
unclean. Thus the old custom is passing away. In the first year after
death, certain days are observed with special honors before the memorial
tablet, and later, certain anniversaries of the death must be kept,
until, at last, at the end of fifty or one hundred years, the
personality of the spirit seems to become merged with that of the other
ancestral spirits, and no offerings are made to it except at the general
feasts of the dead.

With the coming in of the last month of the year begin the preparations
for the great New Year's festival, and the housekeeper finds herself
occupied through every moment of the brief days. A woman who is at the
head of a large household has upon her hands in the month of December
spring house-cleaning and preparations for Christmas, New Year's,
Thanksgiving, and Easter, all at once. The work of getting the family
wardrobe ready for the festival must begin very early in the month, for
every man, woman, and child in the household must be provided with new
clothes, and the thrifty housewife sends no sewing out. In the old days,
it was ordained that the eighth day of the twelfth month should be a
needle festival,--a day on which all women rest from their sewing and
amuse themselves by indulging their own fancies instead of their
husbands', as is their duty on other days. This day was supposed to mark
the dividing line between the old year's and the new year's sewing, but,
as a matter of fact, the forehanded woman will finish up the old and
begin the new even earlier in the month, so as to have this part of her
work well out of the way before the house-cleaning, which should be
begun not later than the fifteenth.

This house-cleaning, even with the small amount of furniture found in a
Japanese house, is an elaborate affair. Every box and closet and
rubbish-hole in the house is turned out and put in order, the _tatami_
are taken up and brushed and beaten, the woodwork from ceiling to floor
is carefully washed, the plaster and paper walls flicked with the paper
flapper that takes the place in Japan of our feather duster. All the
quilts and clothing must be sunned and aired, the kakémonos and curios
belonging to the family unpacked, carefully dusted, and put back into
their wrappings and boxes, and the house and garden put into perfect
repair. This work, if thoroughly done, takes about a week. When all is
finished, even to the final purification by beating everything in the
house with a fresh bamboo, games and festivities and _soba_ are in
order. In the old daimiō houses, where great numbers of men and women
were employed, and where the women's quarters were in a distinct part of
the house, it was considered a great joke to catch a man on the women's
side any time between the close of the cleaning and the beginning of the
new year. The intruder was promptly seized and shouldered by the women,
who carried him about the house in triumph, finally returning him to his
own quarters. If, by any chance, they could catch the chief steward,
they sang as they carried him about:--

    "This is the great pillar of the house!
     May he be happy till the stone foundations rot!"

The week following the house-cleaning is devoted to the preparation of
food for the festival. Of this, the most characteristic is _mochi_, a
sort of dumpling made of rice steamed and pounded, the preparation of
which is so difficult and protracted a process that it is not lightly
undertaken. It is so distinctively the festival food of Japan that if
you find _mochi_ in a friend's house at any time except the new year,
you immediately ask what has happened, and are pretty sure to be told
that it is a present received in celebration of a birth or a marriage,
or some other domestic festival. It is, to Japanese children, what
turkey and cranberry sauce are to American children, not only a delight
to the palate, but a dish the very smell of which brings back the most
cheerful occasions in the year.

When the _mochi_ is made and set away to await the festal day, the
matter of decoration must be attended to. At every gate is erected some
token of the season, if it be only a bit of pine stuck into the ground,
or a wisp of straw rope decorated with white paper _gohei_. The great
black gates that indicate the homes of the wealthier classes are almost
concealed by structures of pine and bamboo, on which oranges, lobsters,
straw rope, straw fringe, white paper, and images of the good luck gods
are used as decorations. All these things are either efficacious in
keeping off evil spirits, or are symbols of good luck. Within the house,
in the _tokonoma_, or place of honor, in the best room, great cakes of
_mochi_, two, three, five, or seven in number, are set one upon another
in a dish covered with fern leaves, and the structure surrounded by

Before the new year comes in the capable housewife will have sent out
presents to every one who has during the year been of service to her
husband, her children, or herself in any way. Her own servants will be
remembered with gifts of clothing, something will be sent to the
servants of friends at whose houses any of the family have visited
often, and every dependent, poor relation, employee, and employee's
child must be given a present, large or small, according to the amount
of obligation felt by the giver. To persons of greater wealth and
importance, to whom the family are grateful for past favors or from whom
they are hoping for something in the future, gifts, often quite out of
proportion to the resources of the givers, are sent,--a method of
investing capital that is a little risky, though it sometimes yields
prompt and bountiful returns. On the other hand, all the merchants and
marketmen who supply the house send presents to the mistress and
frequently to the head servants as well, and _furushiki_ (bundle
handkerchiefs), cooking utensils, packages of sugar, boxes of eggs,
dried fish, etc., flow in at the kitchen; while crêpe, silk, cotton
cloth, money, toys, curios, and other valuables flow out of the parlor.
All this present-giving is a severe tax upon the strength and resources
of the housekeeper, and adds heavily to the burden that the last month
of the year imposes upon her.

By the twenty-fifth or twenty-sixth of the month the trades-people begin
to send in their bills, for every man expects to square up all his
accounts by the last night of the old year, and early payments are
expected and made, so that all may begin the new year out of debt. So
universal is this custom that the man who finds at the eleventh hour
that he cannot clear off all his debts is likely to offer his property
at a heavy sacrifice in order to secure the necessary cash. For any one
with ready money extraordinary bargains are to be met with in Japanese
shops during the last week of the year. In case this resource fails,
suicide is still a short and honorable way out of a world that has
become too difficult to live in.

The Japanese housewife must feel, when December has been successfully
passed, like the Yankee who had noticed that if he lived through the
month of March he generally lived through the rest of the year. The
observances of January, for which December has been one long
preparation, begin with the rising of the New Year's sun, and continue
in one form or another for about two weeks. Almost every day has its
special food and its special festival duty. For the first three days the
very best clothes in the wardrobe are worn by everybody, then till the
seventh the second best, and from the seventh to the end of the month
new clothes, though not the very best, must be worn. Within the first
seven days every man in Japan is expected to call on all his friends and
acquaintances, but the women, probably out of consideration for the many
duties that the festival season puts upon them, are given until March to
finish up their New Year's calls.

The streets of the cities, and even of the small villages, are full of
life and interest for a week or two. _Kurumayas_ in their new winter
liveries trundle around fathers and mothers and happy children. All
manner of mummers, musicians, and dancers go from house to house in
search of custom. The _manzai_, who, with dances and songs and strange
grimaces, undertake to drive out from your house for the new year all
the devils who may have been residing there hitherto, are a special
feature of this season. In every garden and in the public streets little
girls, their faces freshly covered with white paint, their shining black
hair newly dressed, their wing-sleeved kimonos gorgeous with many
colors, play battledore and shuttlecock, toss small bags half filled
with rice, or pat balls wound with shining silk to the accompaniment of
a weird little chant. For the boys there are kites of many shapes and
colors, or tops that they spin under every one's feet, well knowing that
no one in Japan is too busy to turn aside for a child's pleasure. The
very horses--small, shock-headed, evil-tempered beasts, who drag
tremendous loads with many snorts and snaps at their masters--are decked
out with gay streamers that reach nearly to the ground, at the ends of
which are tinkling bells. The festival season closes on the fifteenth
and sixteenth with a visit to the temple of Yemma, the god of hell, and
with a holiday for all the apprentices.

Next to the New Year's holiday, perhaps the most important festival of
the Japanese year is _O Bon_, the Feast of the Dead. This is, in its
present form, a Buddhist institution, but in spirit it fitted so exactly
into the ancient Japanese ideas of the tastes and habits of departed
spirits that it merely supplanted the old Shintō feasts of the dead, and
it is a little difficult to-day to determine whether its observance is
more Buddhist or Shintō in its character. To find the O Bon ceremonies
in their most perfect form, it is necessary now to go into the more
remote country villages, for though, even in Tōkyō, this feast is still
one of the most important in the whole year, it seems to be more
distinctly itself in a small village, where all the old forms are still
kept up.

In Tōkyō, the three days' festival is kept by the new calendar, and
occurs on the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth of July. At O Bon, as
at New Year's time, it is customary to square off all obligations by a
general giving of presents. This, while not quite as important a matter
as at the beginning of the year, is still a severe tax upon the time,
purse, and memory of the wife and mother in any large family. At this
time, too, as at New Year's, _mochi_ or some other festival dish must be
provided, but at this point the resemblance between the two occasions
ceases. In accordance with its character as a feast of departed spirits,
the observance of O Bon is distinctively religious. On the twelfth, the
family go to the graveyard and clean and put in order the graves and
tombstones, so that the returning spirits may find all properly cared
for. Fresh water and flowers are placed before each stone, and sometimes
rice and fresh vegetables. At home, the ancestral tablets in the
_Butsudan_ form the centre of the ceremonies. Before the shrine are
placed, on the thirteenth, offerings of food of any kind that can be
made without fish or meat. Great balls of _mochi_, _saké_, flowers, and
choice new varieties of vegetables are appropriate offerings. All are
tastefully arranged, the lamps are carefully lighted every night, and
special services are held before the shrine. For the three days of the
feast, the souls of the dead are believed to be visiting their old
haunts, and to need light and food and all the conveniences that their
descendants can spare them. Each house is decorated with lanterns, that
the spirits may be able to find their way. It is from this custom that
the feast is often called by foreigners the Feast of Lanterns.

As I have already said, in Tōkyō and other modernized places, this feast
is not seen at its best. Only the soft glow of the lanterns swinging
from every house, and the decorations in the graveyards and at the
household shrines, indicate to the traveler that anything unusual is
going on. But in the country regions it is quite another matter, and the
welcoming, entertainment, and proper dismissal of the visiting spirits
form the entire business of the community for three days. Usually the
middle of August is the time for the country celebration. On the
twelfth, bands of children carrying red lanterns march singing through
the village on their way to the graveyard, where the annual cleaning is
taking place. That night bonfires in the cemetery and before the houses
light the pathway of the wanderers. Then for three nights all the young
people of the village gather in the temple court in grotesque disguises
and with towels over their faces, and dance all night long in the
moonlight, to primitive music produced by a drum and the monotonous
chant of the dancers themselves. These three dance-nights are the great
occasion of the year to the young peasants, for this is the only time
when persons of both sexes meet together in a social way, and it is long
looked forward to and enjoyed intensely. Of late years, the government,
fearing the abuses that grow out of this exceptional social event, has
endeavored to suppress the dancing, but it continues in full vigor
throughout most of rural Japan, though conducted with more decorum than
formerly on account of the standing dread of police interference. The
object of the dance is to amuse the spirits of the ancestors, who must
be imagined as hovering in the background, viewing with approval the
antics of their descendants.

Other amusements are going on in the village on the O Bon evenings. At
a summer resort every hotel-keeper will have a professional
story-teller, a company of musicians, or some other entertainment to
which the guests of the hotel are invited, and at which as many of the
villagers as can crowd to the open house fronts stare until the dance
drum in the temple court draws their feet in that direction. And then,
on the last night of the feast, bonfires are once more kindled at every
house, so that the spirits may find their way safely back to the land
whence they came, and not stay to haunt their descendants at improper

No account of life in a Japanese home would be complete without a little
space devoted to the special delights of the small boy. Although this
book deals mainly with feminine concerns, the small boy in Japan, as in
America, is the life and fun of the home, and one cannot fail to notice
his times of surpassing enjoyment. He rules the house and his mother and
his grandmother and his sisters, at all times, and his activity and
enterprise secure for him a good share in any fun that is going on; but
there are certain seasons that appeal to the boyish heart with a special
message and of which he is the central figure.

As the Feast of Dolls is to the girls, so is the Feast of Flags to the
boys,--their own special day, set apart for them out of the whole year.
It comes on the fifth day of the fifth month (now May fifth), and for
long before its arrival the shops are gay with all manner of tempting
toys, while in every yard rises a great bamboo pole, from which, when
the time comes, will float an enormous carp, its body inflated by the
strong spring wind, its great mouth wide open, and its eyes glaring
hideously, as it fights its way against the air currents. Sometimes
there will be half a dozen such poles in one yard,--signs either that
the household is blessed with many boys, or that the way to its heart is
through gifts of toys to its son and heir. When the great day at last
arrives, the feast within the home is conducted in much the same way as
the Feast of Dolls. There are the same red-covered shelves, the same
offerings of food and drink; but instead of the placid images of the
Emperor and Empress and the five court musicians, the household
furnishings and toilet articles, there are effigies of the heroes of
history and folklore: Jingo, the warrior Empress; Takenouchi, her
white-haired prime minister, holding in his arms her son, the infant
war-god; Benkei, the giant retainer of Yoshitsune; Yoshitsune himself,
the marvelous fencer and general; Kintaro, the fat, hairy, red boy, who
was born and grew up in the mountains, and even in his babyhood fought
with bears; Shoki Sama, the strong man who could conquer _oni_;--these
are some of the characters to be found on the shelves at the boys'
feast. Behind each figure stands a flag with the crest of the hero that
it represents, and before them are set all manner of weapons in
miniature. The food offered is _mochi_ wrapped in oak leaves, because
the oak is among trees what the carp is among fishes, the emblem of
strength and endurance. The flower of this day is the iris or flag,
because of its sword-shaped leaves,--hence the name, _Shobu Matsuri_,
feast of iris or flag.

Another feast, which, while not founded for the boys, seems to have
been adopted by them as a great occasion, is what is known as Buddha's
birthday, celebrated on April eighth. On this day in every Buddhist
temple a temporary platform is erected, the roof of which is covered
with flowers. Upon this platform, in a great tub filled with licorice
tea, is set a small image of the infant Buddha. Hither flock the small
boys with bamboo dippers, and spend the day ladling up the tea and
pouring it over the image, and then ladling it out into small bamboo
buckets. This licorice tea, through contact with the image, acquires
miraculous healing properties, and the devout, after making offerings of
money twisted up in white paper, carry away the little buckets. The tea
is good for the eyes and the throat, and if some of it be used in mixing
ink, and then, with the ink thus mixed, a charm be written and placed
about the house, it will keep away all vermin. It is not easy to see
exactly what the fascination of this feast is to the boys, but I am told
that many of them like it even better than their own specially
appointed day.

But of all the delights that come into the year, there is nothing to
compare for joyous excitement with the great _matsuri_ of the parish
temple. For at least a week beforehand there are enough interesting
things going on in every house and shop along the street to keep every
small boy in the parish agog from morning till night. Here are lanterns
being made with the _mon_ of the gods on one side and the rising sun of
the Japanese flag on the other. There a dancing platform is being
erected, and at every stage of its development it is swarming with
active youngsters, who shin up its poles, turn somersaults on the
platform, and sit in rows on its edge, with bare legs swinging high over
the heads of the passers-by; and when it is done, and the drums
installed, they take turns all day and far into the night in keeping
them going. Then, too, there are the _dashi_, or floats, on one of which
each street in the parish spends its money and its ingenuity. How the
boys haunt the shops in which they are being made! How they watch the
wondrous changes of paper into flowers, and of bamboo and cotton cloth
into sea waves, or castle walls, or monsters of earth or sea or air! How
they chatter and wriggle and push and squirm for front places, when at
last the great cars are built up in the open street, the marvelous
edifices erected upon them, and at the top of all the heroic figures of
well-known mythological or historical characters rise majestic in
flowing robes! Then, when the black bullocks, resplendent in collars and
halters of red rope, are yoked to the triumphal car, and the structure
moves slowly down the shouting street, how the boys crawl into every
joint and cranny of the _dashi_, how they hang from every beam, how they
yell from before and behind in sheer abandon of joy! And at last, when
the procession forms, and with fantastically garbed men marching in
front and wild-eyed singers yelling just behind them, with dancing-girls
on moving platforms and jugglers and tumblers on the _dashi_ themselves,
the twenty or more festal cars move, with frequent stops, down to the
temple, to escort the sacred symbols on their annual pilgrimage through
the parish, who so noisy or so ubiquitous as these same bullet-headed,
blue-gowned boys? They bob up at every turn, ooze out at every pore of
the procession, and enjoy, as only boys can enjoy, the noise and
confusion, the barbaric splendor, the dancing and tumbling, the mumming
and drumming, the excruciating howls of the singers, the jingling of the
marshals' iron-ringed staves, the clapping of the great wooden clappers
that time the movement and the stops of the pageant.

Better than all, perhaps, is the evening, when the streets, lighted by
many lanterns, are filled with throngs of holiday-makers,--now stopping
to stare in at some shop where the devout worshiper has established a
beautiful shrine, has set out _mochi_ and other offerings before some
image, or has arranged a landscape garden in a box, or constructed a
_matsuri_ procession just entering the court of a miniature temple; now
haggling with the ever-present booth-keepers for lanterns or cakes or
hairpins to take back to the friends left at home. Suddenly there is a
joyous, rhythmic shout of many excited boyish voices, there is a
gleaming of square red lanterns, a whirl and a rush through the crowd.
Now is the time to get out of the way, for the boys move quickly and are
too excited to turn aside for anything. On they come at a sharp trot,
each little round head bound about with a fillet of blue and white
toweling, each lithe, active body more or less covered by a blue and
white gown, all shouting in unison and bearing on their shoulders a
miniature _dashi_, made most often of a _saké_ tub mounted on a frame,
and decorated with lanterns and white paper. They charge through the
crowd, which makes way quickly at their approach, until the pace, the
weight of their burden, and the frantic shouting exhaust their breath.
Then they plunge down a side street, rest for a few moments, gather
themselves together, and charge once more into the crowd. There must be
some pretty tired little boys in the parish when the fun is all over,
for these performances are kept up far into the night; but for absolute
and perfect enjoyment there is nothing I have yet seen that seems to me
to compare with the enjoyment that a Japanese boy gets out of a
_matsuri_. It is worth being tired for!

There is no space in this work for a more detailed picture of life in a
Japanese home. Enough has been said in this chapter to show that it is
made up of many little things,--of cares and sorrows and
pleasures,--just as is life in any American home, and it is the little
things we care about that make the oneness of the family, and the
nation, and the oneness, too, of humanity, if we can only understand one



The woman question in Japan is at the present moment a matter of much
consideration. There seems to be an uneasy feeling in the minds of even
the more conservative men that some change in the status of woman is
inevitable, if the nation wishes to keep the pace it has set for itself.
The Japanese women of the past and of the present are exactly suited to
the position accorded them in society, and any attempt to alter them
without changing their status only results in making square pegs for
round holes. If the pegs hereafter are to be cut square, the holes must
be enlarged and squared to fit them. The Japanese woman stands in no
need of alteration unless her place in life is somehow enlarged, nor, on
the other hand, can she fill a larger place without additional
training. The men of New Japan, to whom the opinions and customs of the
Western world are becoming daily more familiar, while they shrink
aghast, in many cases, at the thought that their women may ever become
like the forward, self-assertive, half-masculine women of the West, show
a growing tendency to dissatisfaction with the smallness and narrowness
of the lives of their wives and daughters,--a growing belief that better
educated women would make better homes, and that the ideal home of
Europe and America is the product of a more advanced civilization than
that of Japan. Reluctantly in many cases, but still almost universally,
it is admitted that in the interest of the homes and for the sake of
future generations, something must be done to carry the women forward
into a position more in harmony with what the nation is reaching for in
other directions. This desire shows itself in individual efforts to
improve by more advanced education daughters of exceptional promise, and
in general efforts for the improvement of the condition of women.
Well-to-do fathers are willing to spend more money on the education of
their daughters, to send them abroad, if possible, to complete their
studies, or to postpone the time of marriage so that plans for higher
education may be carried through. Where, ten years ago, the number of
women who had been abroad for study might be counted on the fingers of
one hand, there are now three or four times that number in Tōkyō alone.
Another sign of the times is the fact that husbands going abroad on
business or for pleasure are more inclined to take their wives with
them, even if it be only for a few months. There are now to be found, in
all the larger cities, women who have spent a longer or shorter time in
some foreign country, whose minds have been opened and whose horizons
have been enlarged by contact with new ideas. All this cannot fail to
have its effect, sooner or later, upon the country at large.

The efforts for the improvement of women in general may be grouped into
four classes: by legislation, by education, through the press, and by
means of societies for mutual improvement.

Of the recent legislation concerning marriage and divorce and its
effect on the family, I have spoken in a preceding chapter. The latest
statistics show that, while before the new laws were enacted divorces
were one to every three marriages, they have now been reduced to one in
five. It must be said, however, that the law is still somewhat in
advance of public opinion. While the chance of permanence in marriage is
better now than it was before the new code came into force, custom is
still stronger than the law, and marriage is too often a temporary
arrangement. In many cases the wife knows little or nothing of her new
rights, and even when she does know, she has seldom the self-assertion
to make a stand for them, but meekly submits to the dictates of those
whom she is bound by custom, if not by law, to respect and obey without
question. But the fact that the laws have actually been improved means,
in a country like Japan, in which the government is the moulder of
public opinion, that the custom will some day conform to the law.

In the matter of property owning, women, under the new code, are fairly
independent. As I have already stated, every woman in Japan is expected
to become a wife, and as a matter of fact, the number of unmarried women
is so small that it is hardly necessary to mention them. Wives, under
Japanese law, are divided into two classes: the wife who enters her
husband's family, and the wife whose husband becomes a member of her
family. In the latter case the wife is the head of the family, is
responsible for the debts of the family, and has the right to use and
profit by the husband's property. In the former case (and as I have
already stated, the great majority of wives enter their husband's
families), the husband is responsible, and has, consequently, the right
to use and profit by his wife's property. In all cases, unless the
husband is physically or mentally unfit, he has the management of his
wife's wealth. In case of the husband's disability the woman takes care
of her own. A wife may, by application to a court, cause the husband to
furnish security for the property that she has intrusted to him; and she
may, with her husband's consent, engage in independent business. The
property that she thus acquires is her own and not the husband's. Any
property in the family, the ownership of which is not perfectly
established, belongs to the head of the family, whether male or female.
We thus see that the law of Japan fully recognizes the right of married
women to hold property, although only in exceptional cases are they
allowed the management of their own holdings. The law also regards the
wife, in household matters, as her husband's agent.

In actual practice, it is not uncommon for the wife to manage the entire
income of the family, receiving it from her husband and acting as his
treasurer. The wife's own earnings are seldom given to the husband, and
her position is one of entire independence in the disposal of whatever
she adds to the family revenue. But should the wife bring into the
family at marriage property which passes into the husband's management,
the chances are that, unless a divorce should occur, she will never lay
any claim to the principal, or think of it again as her own. While her
husband cannot actually dispose of it without her consent, she is pretty
certain to give her consent should he ask it, and he may do very nearly
anything that he chooses with it. We thus see that the tendency is to
give the management of the income, as a part of the management of the
household, to the woman, and leave the disposal of the principal, as a
part of the outside business, to the care of the man. This system of
domestic finance seems not unlike the common practice in thrifty and
well-managed homes in America, and shows that a spirit of mutual
confidence between husband and wife belongs to Japan as to Western
nations. As the result of my own observation in a number of homes, I
should say that the judgment of the wife in money matters is quite as
much trusted in Japan as in America, and that, in this one respect at
least, her place in the home is as responsible a one as that of the
Western housekeeper. One instance may be cited of a woman whose business
ability is so well known as to have a national reputation. By birth a
member of a family which is remarkable for its success in all financial
undertakings, she has inherited a large share of the family
characteristic, and is credited with the personal management of a large
bank, as well as other successful business undertakings. Her husband's
name and not her own appears on the prospectuses and in the newspapers,
but unless report is very far astray, she is the business man of the
family, and her sound sense and good judgment have built up the fortune
which is their common possession.

In the educational system of Japan, schools for girls are provided by
the government, but no provision for studies more advanced than those of
the middle schools for boys is included in the scheme, with the single
exception of the Higher Normal School in Tōkyō, in which a limited
number of young women are trained to take positions as teachers in the
ordinary normal schools for girls. To quote from the Annual Report of
the Minister of Education for the year 1898, the latest to which I have
access, "Higher female schools are institutions designed to give
instruction in such higher subjects of general education as are
necessary for females." This shows with considerable completeness the
idea that dominates all government and much private effort for the
education of women in Japan. The schools are to teach simply such
subjects as are necessary for females; anything more would be
superfluous, possibly dangerous. The thought of women as individuals,
with minds and souls to be trained and developed to their highest
possibilities, is still somewhat foreign to the mind of the average
Japanese man. In its stead is the idea that females must be instructed
in such subjects as are necessary for a proper understanding of their
duties as wives and mothers. But if Japan to-day is where England and
America were in the first half of the nineteenth century, the country is
certainly moving forward, as the statistics in regard to education for
the three successive years 1896, 1897, and 1898 show. Great efforts are
being made to increase the attendance of girls at the common schools,
and with gratifying results.[43]

[43] The following in the report for 1898 may be of interest:--

Percentage of pupils of school age receiving instruction:--

  Year.          Girls.   Boys.
  1896           47.54    79.00
  1897           50.86    80.67
  1898           53.73    82.42

The total number of girls of school age not receiving instruction is
1,552,601; of boys, 662,985; while the total number of girls of school
age is 3,642,263, and of boys, 4,067,161.

As we advance into the higher schools, the discrepancy in numbers
between the two sexes grows greater. In the kindergartens the attendance
of girls is nearly equal to that of boys; in the elementary schools
there are three boys to two girls; in the higher elementary schools,
seven boys to two girls. The boys' middle schools, which are equivalent
in grade to the girls' high schools, have fourteen boys taking their
courses to every two girls in the high schools. In the apprentice and
technical schools, there are fifteen men to every two women. Even the
normal schools, which in our own country are almost given over to women,
in Japan have six male students to every female. The "special schools,"
mainly professional, have, to 11,069 men, 73 women, all enrolled in
private schools, and presumably taking medical courses. Beyond this
point women have no opportunities offered to them. In the higher
schools, equivalent to the college and graduate courses given by
universities in America, 7,224 young men are given opportunities that
women must go abroad to obtain.

These figures are, as I have said, for the year 1898. The year 1901 sees
two hopeful movements well begun. One of these is the opening of an
institution bearing the title of "Female University," endowed and
supported by Japanese, through the strenuous efforts of Mr. Jinzo
Naruse, a prominent Christian who has spent some time in America. At its
opening, five hundred girls were glad to enter, but of these very few
are ready for college work. Mr. Naruse, however, believes that in time
he will be able to enlarge his college department and diminish the
preparatory, which is now almost the whole of the school. He has the
support and encouragement of many wealthy and influential Japanese,
among them Count Okuma, the well-known progressive statesman. On the day
of the opening of the school, Count Okuma, in a speech from the
platform, said that the nation would be twice as strong if its women
were well educated. This he called "setting up a double standard." He
pointed out that Turkey, Egypt, Persia, and China were countries which
had tried to get along with a "single standard," and which had fallen
conspicuously behind. He called attention to the fact that Japan's
primitive religion had for its central figure the Goddess of Light, but
that, unfortunately for the well-being of the state, woman had been
gradually dethroned and thrust down into a low place. After speaking of
the debt that Japan owed to China for the civilization and the ethical
system that had stood her so long in good stead, the veteran statesman
went on to say that society in Japan was disfigured by abuses which were
beyond any simple remedy. The only effective medicine was to be found in
a radical reform of the ideals of family life, and this could only be
effected by an improvement in the status of woman,--an improvement which
such institutions as the one that day opened would greatly aid in
bringing about.

These words from one of the most honored leaders of Japanese thought
voice the feeling that is prevalent throughout Japan in this
thirty-fourth year of Méiji. That it is actually moving both government
and people is shown by the words of Mr. Kikuchi, Minister of Education,
to the Council of Provincial Governors held in Tōkyō in June, 1901. In
speaking of the progress of education throughout the country, he stated
his intention to push forward the work of secondary education for girls,
saying that a prefecture which refused to make provision for such
education by 1903 might be compelled to do so by the government.

The other hopeful educational effort to which I have alluded is a school
started on a small scale, but with a high standard, by a Japanese woman
whose name is almost as well known in America as in Japan, as an
educator of great ability and earnestness of purpose. After many years
of work as a teacher in the Peeresses' School, a place of great honor
from the Japanese standpoint, she has resigned her position to carry out
a long-cherished plan. With the pecuniary aid of friends in America, she
has founded a school for the preparation of young women who have
finished the courses heretofore open to them, and who wish to become
teachers of English in the Government schools. The examinations for such
positions have always been open to women, but, because of the difficulty
in securing proper preparation, there are few who pass them. Since its
opening in September, 1900, the school has been crowded with promising
pupils, and the small accommodations with which it began, although
already once enlarged, are stretched to the uttermost. The girls come
from the government high schools and from the mission schools, and the
course offered to them of three years of study in English literature,
composition, translation, and methods of teaching has proved a strong
attraction. In recognition, perhaps, of this effort on behalf of her
countrywomen, certainly, of her position at the head of her profession,
this same woman has this year been appointed on the examining committee
for the government English examinations, an honor never before given to
one of her sex,--in itself a sign of the change in thought that the last
few years have wrought.

There can be no doubt that the education of women is moving forward,
pushed by the leading men of the country and aided by the earnest work
of the women themselves. It is still far behind the education offered to
men, and the ideal of most of its promoters is limited to the purely
utilitarian; but as long as it moves forward and not backward, and as
long as the years of work show an increased number of women fitted to
meet the changing conditions of the time, we do well to approve rather
than criticise, remembering that the problem is an exceedingly intricate
one, and one of which even the best-instructed foreigner can see only a
small part of the difficulty.

The year 1901 sees the printing-press almost as much of a power in
Japan as in the Western world, and it is interesting to notice that
among the innumerable newspapers and magazines now published in the
country there are some twenty or more devoted exclusively to the
interests of women. To be sure, these women's magazines do not undertake
to furnish the loftiest intellectual pabulum, the best of them covering,
perhaps, the same range of subjects that is included in "Woman's
Journals" in the United States. They devote themselves largely to
lectures on morals and manners, and instruction as to how best to
perform the duties of the home. These magazines are for the most part
written and edited by men, many of them very young men, and serve to
show rather what men desire that women should think and do, than to give
any insight into the minds of the women themselves. With a combined
circulation of perhaps 40,000, they enter many homes, and do something,
at least, toward the general enlightening and quickening of the feminine
mind that is so noticeable in the Japan of to-day. In regard to the
general reading of Japanese women who have had the new education, my
own observation leads me to believe that they keep themselves well
informed of what is going on in their own country, and of the outside
world so far as it affects their own country; but that their interest in
the world at large is less than that of American women, and only in
exceptional cases do they care much for the sayings or doings of
foreigners. In this respect they differ widely from the men, whose minds
are reaching continually for new things to graft upon the old

In the whole list of publications on the woman question, nothing has
ever come out in Japan that compares for outspokenness and radical
sentiments with a book published within a year or two by Mr. Fukuzawa,
the most influential teacher that Japan has seen in this era of
enlightenment. It is in two parts, the first an attack, conducted with
much skill and humor, upon Kaibara's "Great Learning of Woman," a book
which for nearly four hundred years has been supposed to contain all
that a woman should know. The last part of Mr. Fukuzawa's work is a
constructive essay upon the "New Great Learning of Woman." So
revolutionary are the sentiments expressed in the book that many
Japanese men hesitate about allowing their wives and daughters to read
it, and in at least one modern Christian school it has been ruled out
from the school library as too advanced for the reading of the girls. A
brief survey of the sentiments and ideas thus boldly set forth will show
how far is the attitude of the Japanese from that of the American public
on the woman question. We find in Mr. Fukuzawa's book the lofty ideal
that belongs to the most advanced modern thought, but its promulgation
as a practical working ideal in Japan was of the nature of a
thunderclap. Among less tolerant races, men have been lynched, or burned
at the stake, for slighter departures from the average code of thought
and morals.

Mr. Fukuzawa starts out with the proposition that women are quite equal
to men, and should hold equal position and influence. Although he allows
that woman's work in the world is quite distinct from that of man, he
holds that it is as important, and that she should have the same
property-holding privileges and rights. The greatest stress is laid on
the point that the same moral obligation for purity of life rests on the
husband as on the wife. He goes into the details of the unhappiness
resulting from concubinage, putting the duty of the husband in this
respect as equal to that of the wife to preserve her chastity, and as
this is, next to obedience, the virtue of virtues for a Japanese wife,
his argument is as strong as it could well be made. He insists that
women should demand as a right from their husbands and families the same
privileges and opportunities that men have in society.

Such sentiments are a matter of course in America, and they have been
held by a few advanced thinkers in Japan, but no one hitherto has dared
in so vigorous and positive a way, and with arguments that come so near
home, to try to break the chain of custom that holds women down as
inferior beings. Kaibara says that if a woman finds her husband doing
wrong, she should gently plead with him, choosing a time when he is
most inclined to listen. If he refuses, she should not insist on his
hearing her, but wait until he is willing to listen, and though she may
try two or three times, she should never anger or irritate him. Fukuzawa
says that if this applies to the woman, it should also to the man,--that
is to say, if a man finds his wife unfaithful, he is to wait for an
opportunity when she is in good humor before he remonstrates with her.
Fukuzawa also throws new light on the duty of husbands and fathers to
their wives and children in another respect. He says that no man should
let the sole responsibility for the happiness of the home fall upon his
wife; that a man is responsible for the peace of the home as well as the
woman. This view of the matter is entirely new in Japan, as the
responsibility for an unhappy home is laid as a matter of course upon
the wife. The duty of a wife to her parents-in-law is also treated after
the same revolutionary manner. Is it to be wondered at that many men
fear the influence of such a book upon their gentle, submissive wives?
In this connection it is interesting, however, to note that at a recent
Shintō wedding, after the religious ceremony, which in itself marks a
great step forward in the Japanese ideal of marriage, the priest who
united the couple presented to the bride a copy each of the Kaibara and
Fukuzawa books, perhaps with a view to letting her take her choice
between the old style and the new, perhaps that she might instruct her
husband out of the Fukuzawa book while she put in practice herself the
time-honored precepts of Kaibara.

       *       *       *       *       *

One feature of the times in Tōkyō, that is perhaps worthy of passing
notice, is the tendency of women to form themselves into societies and
clubs for the attainment of some common object. Of these women's clubs,
the greater proportion are perhaps educational, the members meeting once
a month or once a fortnight to listen to a lecture upon some subject
that helps to keep them up with the times. There is also a patriotic
society, that concerns itself with raising money for sending supplies to
soldiers in the field, or for widows and orphans of soldiers, or to
help along some other patriotic enterprise. There are societies, too,
for general benevolence, or to help in carrying on the work of some one
institution. A glance at the membership lists of these associations
shows that the motive power is, in almost all cases, the same group of
earnest, educated women, who are, in this way and in countless others,
doing their utmost to broaden the horizons of their countrywomen, and
lead them out into a larger life. This is probably true in the other
cities in which a movement of women into clubs and societies is

It is when the active women of the new way of thinking, whose lives and
thoughts are devoted to work and endeavor rather than to the passive
submission and self-abnegation of the old days, find themselves suddenly
placed among the surroundings of thirty years ago, that the change of
conditions becomes most evident. I cannot think of a better way to
illustrate this than to tell the story of one of my Japanese friends and
her visit to her husband's relatives in a distant provincial city. The
lady who told me the story is a stirring, capable young matron,
educated after the modern ways, who has spent most of her happy married
life of some fifteen or sixteen years entirely in Tōkyō, except for a
visit of a year to America. She bears a closer resemblance to many
kind-hearted, strong, energetic young American women than to the
old-time Japanese lady portrayed in these pages. She rises every morning
at five, attends to every detail of her housekeeping, watches carefully
and with educated common sense over her family of young children,
believes in good food, fresh air, and exercise, for boys and girls
alike, and is a helpful friend and good neighbor, filling to the full
the position of work and influence in which she is placed. Her husband
is a successful business man, whom frequent journeys across the Pacific
have made thoroughly cosmopolitan, and their children are accustomed to
a freedom from conventional restraints and a healthful diet and regimen
such as old Japan never knew.

Last year the plan of spending the summer with the husband's relatives,
which had been long projected, was actually carried out, and the whole
family migrated to the provincial city from which the husband had
sprung. The aged mother, a gentlewoman of the old type, was delighted to
meet and entertain her daughter-in-law and grandchildren, and did her
best, with all old-fashioned courtesy, to make the visit a pleasant one.
The house was clean and spacious, the mats soft and white, the bows of
the lowest, the voices and speech the politest that Japan could furnish,
but the healthy, restless children found the conventional restraints
irksome, and the old-fashioned diet of rice and pickles, with hardly a
variation from morning till night and from week to week, was quite
different from the bountiful table to which they had been accustomed.
The younger woman could not criticise her mother-in-law's arrangements,
neither could she bear to see her children growing thin and pale before
her eyes. She consulted her husband, who, in accordance with the antique
ideas of propriety, was served his meals at a different time and in a
different room from his wife and family. To his food his mother had
always added various delicacies which her old-time Spartan spirit would
not allow her to set before her daughter-in-law and grandchildren. It
would have been quite contrary to her ideas of rank and etiquette for
her to make any modification of her ordinary fare for them. As the son
was already supplying the funds for carrying on his mother's
establishment, it occurred to him that he might increase her allowance
on the plea that her summer expenses must be heavy with so large an
addition to her household. But the old lady was sure that nothing more
was necessary, and would not think of burdening her son with any larger
expenses, and could not be induced to accept the offered increase.

Another effort was made to get along upon the meagre fare, but the
youngest boy fell ill and had to be taken to a hospital, and the mother
decided that something must be done if all the family did not wish to
follow him. The happy thought occurred to her of buying something that
would be an addition to their scanty menu, and giving it as a present
to her mother-in-law. Now a present in Japan can never be refused, so it
seemed to the younger woman that she must have found a way of escape
from her difficulties. Of course, the present was accepted with many
thanks and expressions of unworthiness, and when the meal-hour arrived,
each member of the family found an infinitesimal quantity of the
delicacy in a small plate at his side. But as soon as the meal was over,
the dear old lady, who had by strict economy managed to leave the
greater part of the gift untouched, sent out to all the neighbors
presents from what had been intended to feed the hungry children at
home. The experiment was tried again and again, but always with the same
result. No present could be kept for family use alone. Of everything but
the barest necessaries, the greater part must be sent out in gifts to

At last the husband and wife put their heads together to decide on some
course of action that, without hurting the feelings of the older lady,
would secure sufficient nourishment for the children, and forthwith
began a series of all-day picnics to the noted places in the
vicinity,--picnics that included always a good meal at some well-kept
restaurant before the return to the old-fashioned fare of the
grandmother's house. In this way the summer was passed without further
illness, though the poor mother on her return to Tōkyō spent several
weeks in bed,--what with starvation and worry and the effort to bear
heroically, and with a smiling face, the hard life and scanty fare that
were the life and fare of most of Japan only a few years ago.

In the changes that the past few years have wrought, perhaps nothing is
more striking than the new openings for work that Japan now offers to
women. The growth of the public school system has made a demand for
women as teachers that is steadily increasing. Although in the normal
schools the proportion of women to men is still only one to six, and
while teaching, even in the primary schools, is not yet mainly in
feminine hands as it is with us, there is still a good showing of women
employed as teachers. From the figures of the school report of 1898, we
find over 10,000 women as teachers and assistants in the public and
private schools. The profession of nursing, too, which ten years ago was
just opening, has already drawn many women into its ranks. In the Red
Cross hospitals alone there are this year nearly a thousand nurses
taking the course, and a thousand graduates scattered throughout the
country hold themselves ready to answer the call of the society in the
time of need, in the mean time practicing their profession wherever they
may chance to be. The quality of the Red Cross graduates has been tested
now in two wars, and they show the soldierly virtues of their nation, as
well as the more womanly qualities of tenderness and gentleness; and a
self-respect that has kept them pure and free from stain in the midst of
severe temptation. It is impossible for me to gather statistics of the
work done by other institutions for the training of nurses, but the
figures given above may, I think, be doubled with absolute safety in
making an estimate of the total number of nurses trained and in training
throughout the empire.

The growth of commerce and industry has greatly increased the demand
for feminine labor outside the home. In the old days the two most
important industries of the country, tea and silk, were mainly carried
on by women in their homes, but the use of modern machinery is rapidly
taking the weaving industries out of the homes and making factory hands
of the women and children.[44]

[44] In the Japan _Mail_ of July 8, 1901, the following statistics of
women employees in factories in Japan were given:--

  Manufacture.      No. of Women.   No. to 100 Men.
  Raw Silk            107,348            93
  Cotton Spinning      53,053            79
  Matches              11,385            69
  Cotton Fabrics       10,656            86
  Tobacco               7,874            72
  Matting               1,641            59

One of the most noticeable effects of this new demand for female labor
is the extreme scarcity of servants. Although wages are nearly double
what they were ten years ago, it is extremely difficult for Japanese
housekeepers now to find servants to replace the old ones as they drop
out of the ranks, and the women who apply for positions are apt to be
far inferior to those who came to the same families to do the same work
ten years ago.

In other ways, too, women are learning to fill new places in the world.
The telephone, which now connects towns and cities and villages in
Japan, employs girls in large numbers. In the printing-offices we find
women at work, not as compositors, but as compositors' assistants,
darting from case to case about the room and selecting for the
compositor the ideographs that he needs in his work. Inasmuch as a small
printing-office cannot get along with less than four thousand
characters, and as larger ones may have several times that number, the
need of quick-witted and quick-footed assistants to each compositor may
be easily recognized. As the schools turn out each year more girls
fitted by education to do this kind of work, and as the number of
newspapers and other printed matter is continually on the increase, the
demand for and supply of this special variety of labor are likely to
increase proportionately for some time to come.

A few women are now making their way as reporters on the daily papers,
a few more are engaged in literary work. One of the best of modern
Japanese novelists was a woman, but she died several years ago at so
early an age that her work was a promise rather than a fulfillment.
Artists, too, there are, who are making names for themselves, as well as
a living, in a country where art is so common that success in that line
means hard work and special talent. A few young women support themselves
by stenography, a few more as clerks and secretaries in business
offices. Until a writing-machine has been invented that will write four
thousand characters, there will not be much demand for typewriter girls
in Japan outside of the treaty ports, where a few are now employed. The
Japanese government has found, as Uncle Sam discovered some time ago,
that for the counting of paper money women's fingers are more deft than
those of men, and it consequently gives employment to a few women in
that work. One railroad has recently begun to employ women as
ticket-sellers, and three medical schools have already graduated some
women physicians, though it is still doubtful whether there is any
great opening for them in the country. These are some of the ways in
which women now find themselves able to gain a little more independence
of life. The whole matter is so new that no statistics are available
that will show the exact extent of the demand for labor in these
directions, but from my own observation I am inclined to think that
there is little change in the employments of women except in the
neighborhood of the larger cities, and that the new occupations as yet
have a very slight effect upon the conditions in this country at large.

It is not possible to understand the actual progress made in Japan in
improving the condition of women, without some consideration of the
effect that Christian thought and Christian lives have had on the
thought and lives of the modern Japanese. If Japanese women are ever to
be raised to the measure of opportunity accorded to women in Christian
countries, it can only be through the growth of Christianity in their
own country, and for that reason a study of that growth is pertinent to
a study of their condition.

The past ten years in Japan have been discouraging to the missionaries
in many ways, and it is not unusual to hear from the less hopeful of
them the statement that their work has been at a standstill, or even
going backward, during that time. The statistics of missionary effort
show a steady, though slight, increase in the number of professing
Christians, but if the sum total of the results of missionary effort
were the number of converts made, it might, perhaps, be doubtful whether
the money spent on missions in Japan might not be better turned to other
purposes. There are now in Japan, of Christians of all sects,
Protestant, and Roman and Greek Catholic, 121,000, or about one half of
one per cent. of the total population of the country; but the influence
of these Christians as leaders of thought is out of all proportion to
their number. Christian men are found in the Diet, in the army and navy,
in the universities and colleges, and in the newspaper offices, in a
proportion far beyond their ratio to the total population, exerting
their influence in many ways for the uplifting of the nation to loftier
moral ideals. The proportion of Christian men and women in the
government schools with which I have been connected is rather
surprising. In the Higher Normal School, training young women to go out
into the whole country as teachers, the proportion of professing
Christians upon the teaching staff is striking; and in the Peeresses'
School, which is as conservative and anti-foreign as any educational
institution in Japan, there are five professing Christians among the
thirty-five teachers. While, on the one hand, the Japanese Christians
are not all models of all the virtues, while there is with many of them
a tendency to modify their Christianity so as to accommodate a
considerable amount of worldly wisdom, it is true, on the other hand,
that the most active workers in the cause of philanthropy are men who
have accepted the Christian faith, and who are striving in all
earnestness to model their lives after the life of Jesus of Nazareth.
The Christian Church in Japan to-day has its heroes and its
back-sliders, and has between these two extremes a rank and file of
every-day, commonplace men and women, who amidst frequent failures and
in the midst of many temptations are making the name of Christian stand
for a certain kind of life and a certain standard of virtue quite above
and beyond the lives and standards of their countrymen. It is largely
because of them that a Christian public opinion is growing up among
non-Christian Japanese. Men to-day who have no special leanings toward
Christianity shake their heads over vices and sins which a few years ago
were not even thought of as wrong. There is a great deal of talk about
the growth of moral depravity in the country, but as a matter of fact,
the standards of virtue have never been so high since Japan was opened
as they are to-day: it is only that Christian thought has held up a
mirror to an un-Christian society, in which it views all too clearly its
own defects. There is, to my mind, no more hopeful sign of the times
than the growing discouragement over the present condition of morals.
When there is added to this a steadily increasing respect for the
honesty and strength of character of Christian men and women, it must
mean that a great and lasting impression has been made. To-day banks,
business offices, and other places requiring trustworthy clerks and
employees, prefer, other things being equal, Christian young men, for it
is generally known that they are more worthy of confidence than the
majority of applicants for such places.

One instance of this increased moral sensitiveness may be cited in the
recent successful efforts to limit the power of the brothel-keepers over
their victims and virtual slaves, the _jōrō_ or licensed prostitutes. As
I have stated in a previous chapter, the women who carry on this
business in Japan are, many of them, unwilling victims of a system which
allows parents to sell their children to a life of shame; and they enter
upon that life so young that they can hardly be regarded as morally
responsible for their condition. Even after the actual sale of girls was
forbidden by an imperial ordinance in 1872, the purchase price was
called a loan to the parents of the girl, and subsequent loans for
clothing entered upon the books of the establishment kept the
unfortunates so continually in debt to their masters that they could
never escape from the bondage in which they were held except through
death, or by purchase by some infatuated admirer. Public opinion, while
it indulged in some sentimental pity for the hard lot of the _jōrō_, did
little or nothing to aid any one who desired to help them, regarding the
profession as a necessary one, and caring not at all for the injustice
to which the girls were subjected. Ten or twelve years ago, a movement
started by some prominent Japanese Christians against the _jōroya_ fell
flat for want of a public opinion behind it. Speeches on the subject
were hissed down by audiences of young men, and nothing could be done to
help even the most innocent and unhappy of the girls to a better life.
In the new code, perhaps as an effect of this movement, a new law
provided that the _jōrō_ might leave her calling by giving notice to the
police. A police regulation, however, forbade any girl to cease her
employment, or to leave the house in which she was kept, unless her
official notice of cessation was countersigned by the keeper of the
_jōroya_, so that by her own effort she could not free herself.

In the year 1900, one of these girls in a provincial city appealed to an
American missionary for help in getting her liberty. Through his aid,
and that of his Japanese helpers, her case came before the court, which
decided that the contract under which she was held was opposed to the
public welfare and good morals, and that the keeper must affix his seal
to her notice without regard to her debt. Although the local police
refused to act in the matter, and although the missionary and his
helpers were subjected to personal violence by the employees of the
_jōroya_, an appeal to the authorities at Tōkyō resulted in an
enforcement of the court's decision, and the girl was freed.

At this juncture the Salvation Army, which has a valiant contingent in
Tōkyō, and which was actually spoiling for a good fight with the world,
the flesh, and the Devil, in any form, took up the cause of the
oppressed _jōrō_. A special edition of the "War Cry" containing appeals
to the girls to leave their lives of shame, and offering aid to any one
who might apply to the Army, was published and hawked through the
Yoshiwara. When the keepers and their employees found out what the
strangely costumed news-venders were about, they charged down upon them,
and after a street fight, drove them out of the quarter. Thus the war
began, but the Tōkyō police took up the matter, the Tōkyō press joined
hands with the Salvationists, and in the end the whole country was
stirred to aid in the attack. In return, the brothel-keepers and their
employees, feeling that the profits of their business were at stake,
made it extremely warm for any Salvationists or newspaper reporters who
dared set foot in the disreputable quarters, and in their zeal sometimes
made mistakes and drove out their would-be patrons. The office of one
newspaper was wrecked by sympathetic roughs, and it took a squad of
fifty or sixty police to escort Army officers when they had occasion to
visit any of the houses to secure the release of a girl. No lives were
lost, though some hard knocks were received, and the work was kept up
with unabated noise on both sides, until every girl held in unwilling
bondage knew how she might escape and to whom she could go for aid.

During the month of September, 1900, as a direct result of the attacks
of and upon the Army, the number of visitors to these houses in Tōkyō
was decreased by about 2,000 a night. On October 2, a government
ordinance was issued that at one stroke removed all obstacles in the way
of a girl's securing her freedom at any moment when she wanted to leave
the business. The new regulations made the descent to Avernus as
difficult as possible, and the return to the upper world a mere step. In
Tōkyō alone, in the first four months after the promulgation of this
order, 1,100 out of the 6,335 girls who were licensed as prostitutes
left the houses in which they were employed, most of them returning to
their homes and families, and as many as applied being cared for in the
Rescue Home of the Salvation Army. The places thus vacated are not easy
to fill, because the keepers will not advance money to the parents of a
girl, now that they can no longer hold her as security for the debt. In
consequence, too, of the revelations of the evils of the system, the
business has fallen off alarmingly. Thus many of the houses have been
obliged to close, owing to lack of custom and to inability to pay the
heavy taxes.

We have here the story of a successful attack on a system which has
existed in Japan for three hundred years, by a Christian agency acting
with the support of so strong a public opinion that police and
government have felt bound to obey its behests. There has been no more
striking example of the effect of Christian thought upon public
sentiment in any country than this crusade against the brothels in
Japan. When we remember that ten years ago it was not possible for a
speaker to attack the institution before an audience of students without
being silenced by hisses, it is interesting to note that this year, the
students of that same school greeted with applause and respectful
attention an address on this very subject.

It seems to me rather striking that in the year 1900 fifty thousand
copies of the Bible were sold in Japan--more than of any other book.
Although the present translation is regarded as far from perfect, and
much of it is unintelligible to the average Japanese without
instruction, whether directly or indirectly, by mission workers, it is
still sought after and read for the sake of its literature, and because
of the reputation that has been gained for it throughout the country.
There are few missionaries of any experience in Japan who cannot tell
stories of men coming to them from country villages, who, through the
reading of a copy of the Bible in some way fallen into their hands, have
been brought by the beauty and nobility of the parts that they could
understand to seek additional explanation from some teacher or preacher.
One case that is amusing, but at the same time striking, I have heard
vouched for from a number of sources:--

Two thieves, one night, broke into the dormitory of a girls' school in
search of booty, and by chance awakened two of the girls. As they sat
up in their beds, wondering what was best to do under the circumstances,
one zealous damsel reached for the Bible in which she had been reading
before she went to sleep, and handed it to one of the thieves, saying,
"If you read this book, you will not want to steal any more." The other
girl followed her companion's example and gave her Bible to the other
thief. That was all, so far as the girls knew, and it was some years
before the sequel came to light.

There is one place in Japan to which released convicts who are trying to
get back to respectability again drift from all parts of the empire. It
is a prisoners' home in Tōkyō, where one man, aided by his capable and
devoted wife, receives into his own family and gives aid and succor to
hundreds of society's outcasts. To this place came one day an ex-convict
who told a remarkable story of his conversion, and of his desire to lead
a new life. He had received a Bible from a little girl one night in a
house that he was robbing, but was too full of professional engagements
at the time to follow her advice and read it. Later, however, as he was
resting from his labors in the enforced seclusion of a prison, he began
to read, and spelled out enough to make up his mind that he did not want
to steal any more. Accordingly, as soon as his term was ended, he made
his way to the prisoners' refuge, and by the aid of its founder and
head, and his good wife, settled down to steady habits of industry.
Later, when the prison look had worn off from his face and the prison
gait from his walk, he returned to his family and friends, where he is
now a respectable member of the society upon which he formerly preyed.

There are other stories showing as deep impressions made on men of
culture and respectability, not so striking and amusing as this one, but
meaning as much, or even more, for the future of Japan. Such things are
hardly possible in Christian countries to-day, for there is little or no
novelty in the message that the old book brings to us; but to the
Japanese mind the thoughts are absolutely new in many ways, and the
reading alone will often change the whole life, because it lifts up the
nature to a higher set of ideals.

As a direct effect of Christian thought upon the thought of the
Japanese nation, it is interesting to notice the change in meaning of
one word. In the teachings of Confucius the highest virtue is
benevolence, rendered into Japanese by the word _jin_; in the teachings
of Buddhism the highest virtue is mercy, or _jishi_. When the Christian
missionaries first came to Japan, there was no term in the language that
covered the thought of love as it is taught by Christ. For lack of
anything better, the word _ai_, which indicated the love of a superior
for an inferior, was made to do duty for the greater thought; and now
the old word _ai_, throughout the length and breadth of Japan, is
accepted and understood in its new meaning, a continual witness to the
effect of Christianity upon the national mind. Is this a little thing in
the education of a race that has shown in the past so great a capacity
for living up to its ideals?

One more direct effect of Christian teaching upon Japanese society is
the great quickening of philanthropic and benevolent effort. Scattered
throughout the country are benevolent or educational societies,
orphanages, hospitals, free kindergartens, reform schools, and other
evidences of a desire on the part of the more fortunate to help the
unfortunate by some means or other; and if you study into the history of
any of these efforts, you will usually find that some Japanese
Christian, or some man who has come home impressed with the
philanthropies of Christian countries, has started the scheme, and has
created a society, and a public opinion behind the society, which
carries on the work. Even in the government institutions there is no
difficulty in tracing the influence of Christians and Christianity. The
Red Cross Society, with its seven thousand members, and its hospitals in
every prefecture of the empire, bears the sign of Christendom upon all
its property and employees. It seems to me quite safe to say that but
for the Christian influences of the past forty years, there would be
very little altruistic work done in Japan to-day; but by means of the
Christians and their teachings, the latest and best thought of the world
is working its way out in practical service for humanity in Japan, and
this service is ascribed by enlightened Buddhist and Shintō believers
alike to the spirit of Christianity, which will not let the fortunate
rest while their less fortunate brothers are in want or sin.

No one who studies the religious question in Japan at all can fail to
notice the extraordinary revivifying of Buddhism for what it feels to be
a life and death struggle with an alien faith. The disestablishment of
the Buddhist church by the government at the time of the restoration
must be credited with its share of the awakening process; for the
priests, finding their own support and that of the temples dependent
upon the voluntary contributions of worshipers, were forced to bestir
themselves as they had not done since the old missionary days, when they
were working for a foothold in the country. But without the competition
of Christianity, it is extremely doubtful whether their efforts would
have been turned so largely along educational and philanthropic lines,
whether the standard of intelligence among the priesthood would have
been so quickly raised, whether they would have sent young men abroad to
study Sanskrit and history with a view to a better understanding of
their own scriptures, or whether they would not rather have relied on
less radical methods of quickening the religious life within their body.
Certain it is that Buddhism, which upon its introduction into Japan
actually lowered the status of women, is now making a bid for public
favor by holding meetings and founding societies especially for women,
and is doing its best to increase their self-respect and the respect in
which they are held by society.

An interesting story which throws some light upon the new influence that
is at work among the Buddhists came to me not long ago through a
Japanese friend. There were two brothers living in a poor little village
on the northern coast of Japan, who were joint heirs to a small piece of
property. As the land was not enough for the support of two families,
the elder brother, a gentle, thoughtful youth, gave up all title to his
share of the inheritance and entered a Buddhist monastery. In the quiet
of this retreat, amid the beautiful surroundings, the daily services,
the chanting of priests, and the mellow booming of the great monastery
bell, his thoughts went out to the poor and the sinful among his own
people. He began to feel that a life which seeks merely spiritual uplift
for itself is not the highest life, and that only as spiritual gain is
shared with others is it real and lasting. Forthwith he began a life of
helpfulness to the poor about him,--of teaching and preaching and good
deeds that won him many humble friends. Within the monastery, however,
his work was not approved. His ideas and actions were not in harmony
with the teachings of the sect. He was first disciplined and then
expelled, and found his way back at last, penniless, to his native

Now, in northern Japan the winters are long and hard, and the most
industrious of farmers and fisher-folk can wring only a bare subsistence
from the conditions of their toil. It is from these villages, perhaps,
more than from any other sources, that the girls are obtained to supply
the _jōroya_ of the great cities. At any rate, in this particular
village, the only hope that any girl possessed of escaping from the hard
home toil was by the sale of her person, and the thought of seeing the
great cities, of wearing beautiful dresses, of being admired and petted,
and perhaps at last of marrying some rich lover and becoming a great
lady, was a tempting bait to these poor peasant girls. To this young
man, whose soul had been awakened to a new sensitiveness during his
absence, the full horror of the conditions that could so warp and dwarf
the souls of women appealed as it had never done before. He must do
something to help them, but what to do his previous experience did not
help him to know. He sought for aid and sympathy in his native place,
among his friends and co-religionists; but the state of affairs was too
old and too familiar to excite interest, and at last he worked his way
to the capital, feeling that somewhere in that great city he would find
light on the question that perplexed him. It was a mere question of ways
and means--how to begin a work which he felt driven from within to do.
In Tōkyō, as he inquired among his friends, he was told that Christians
knew all about the kind of work that he wished to begin, that he must go
to them and study their methods, if he would help the people of his
native village. So the devout young Buddhist, who had found in his own
faith the divine impulse, turned to the study of what Christians had
done and were doing for the unfortunate. The story is not finished yet.
We cannot tell whether in the end it will result in another addition to
the ranks of the Japanese Christians, or whether it will aid in the
quickening that has come to Buddhism, but, whatever way it ends, it
shows in a concrete example what Christianity is now doing for Japan,
and especially for the women of the country.


_The following Notes refer to passages marked by asterisks in the
foregoing pages._

_Page 3._

The father, or the head of the family, usually names the children, but
some friend or patron may be asked to do it. As, until recently, the
name given a child in infancy was not the one that he was expected to
bear through life, the choice of a name was not a matter of as much
importance as it is with us. In some families the boys are called by
names indicating their position in the family, the words _Taro_, "Big
one," _Jiro_, "Second one," _Saburo_, "Third one," _Shiro_, "Fourth
one," _Goro_, "Fifth one," etc., being used alone, or placed after
adjectives indicating some quality that it is hoped the child may
possess. Such combinations are, _Eitaro_, "Glorious big one," _Seijiro_,
"Pure second one," _Tomisaburo_, "Rich third one," and so on.

_Page 4._

To speak with greater exactness, the _miya mairi_ of a boy is on the
thirty-first day of his life,--of a girl, on the thirty-third.

_Page 8._

Tōkyō just now shows a tendency to change this national custom. Gayly
painted wicker baby carriages with cotton awnings are seen in large
quantities in the shops, and one meets mothers and little sisters of the
lower classes, propelling the baby in a little four-wheeled wagon
instead of wearing it on the back, as formerly. These carriages are, of
course, the exception, and may prove to be but a passing Tōkyō fashion,
but they seem to me to mark another step in the modernizing of Japan,
and may prove of value in the physical development of the common people.

_Page 11._

In the Tōkyō of 1891 butchers and milkmen were very little in evidence,
as the demand for their wares came mainly from the few foreigners and
foreign restaurants in the city. In 1901 a walk of half a mile or so in
the neighborhood of Kojimachi, one of the principal business streets in
a purely Japanese section of the city, shows five meat shops; and
milkmen, in westernized shirts and knickerbockers, with golf-stockings
and straw sandals, draw their gay-colored carts everywhere through the
city, and call at a large proportion of the houses. Condensed milk,
too, is to be found on the shelves of every provision store, together
with canned and dried meats, and the restaurants where foreign food is
served are distributed throughout the entire city, and do a thriving
business on Japanese patronage. The less extravagant country people
declare that Tōkyō is "eating itself up," but so far no terrible
increase of indebtedness seems to follow the change in the standard of
living. It is interesting to note that the scalp troubles referred to on
page 11 seem to have greatly lessened in the last ten years, whether
because of the change in the food or for other reasons, I cannot

_Page 24._

Twice, after the _miya mairi_ of her babyhood, does our little maid
repair to the temple to seek the blessing of her patron god upon a step
forward in her short life: once, when at the age of three, the hair on
her small head, which until then has been shaved in fancy patterns, is
allowed to begin its growth toward the coiffure of womanhood; and once,
when she has attained her seventh year, and exchanges the soft, narrow
sash of infancy for the stiff, wide _obi_ which is the pride of every
well-dressed Japanese woman. Her little brother, too, though now no
longer destined to wear the hammer-shaped queue of the old-time Japanese
warrior, and whose fuzzy black head is now usually left unshaven in his
babyhood, still goes to the temple at the age of three to give thanks,
and when he comes to be five years old, the little boy again goes up to
the temple, this time wearing for the first time the manly _hakama_, or
kilt-pleated trousers, and makes offerings to the god who has protected
him thus far.

The day set for these ceremonies is the 15th of November, and there is
no prettier sight in all Japan than a popular temple on that day. All
the streets that converge on the shrine are crowded with gayly dressed
children hurrying along to make their offerings, accompanied by parents
brimming with pride and pleasure.

    "Small feet are pattering, wooden shoes clattering,
     Little hands clapping, and little tongues chattering:"

three-year-old tots of both sexes trudging sturdily along on their
clogs: square little red-cheeked boys, their black eyes shining with
pride in their rustling new silk _hakama_, feeling that they are big
boys and no longer to be confused with the babies that they were
yesterday: here, too, are the graceful seven-year-old maidens, their
many-colored garments and their gorgeous new _obi_ setting off to
advantage their shining black hair and sparkling eyes. The children are
so many, so happy, and so impressed with the fun that it is to be older
than they were, that the grown folks who accompany them seem like
shadows; the only real thing is the children.

Within the temple precincts all the candy-sellers and toy-merchants who
can find standing-room for a stall are doing a brisk trade. Flags are
flying, drums are beating, a _kagura_ dance is going on in the pavilion,
about which stands a crowd of youngsters twittering like sparrows, and
the steps that lead to the temple itself are as thronged as Jacob's
ladder with little ones ascending and descending. Within the shrine the
white-robed priests are hard at work from morning to night. A little
company forms in the vestibule, goes to the priest in the first room,
where they bow and make their offerings, and wait until there is space
for them in the inner sanctuary. From within comes the sound of a
droning chant, which ends at last, and then a party that has finished
its worship issues forth, and those who have been waiting without go in;
and when the few minutes of worship are over, and the amulet that
rewards the due observance of the day has been received, there are the
dances to be seen, and the _o miyagé_ to be purchased, and at last the
happy party returns, feeling that one more milestone on the journey of
life has been passed propitiously.

_Page 30._

The _shirōzaké_ (white _saké_) used for this occasion is a curious
drink, thick and white, made from pounded rice, and brewed especially
for this feast. Some antiquarians believe that it is simply the earliest
form of _saké_, the national beverage, which has been preserved in this
ancient observance as the fly is preserved in amber.

_Page 31._

The keeping of a feast on the third day of the third month is a custom
that has come down from very ancient times. At first the day was set
apart for the purification of the people, and a part of the ceremony was
the rubbing of the body with bits of white paper, roughly cut into the
semblance of a white-robed priest. These paper dolls were believed to
take away the sins of the year. When they had been used for
purification, they were inscribed with the sex and birth-year of the
user and thrown into the river. The third month was also, in early
times, the season for cock-fighting among the men, and for doll-playing
among the women. The special name by which the dolls of the Doll Feast
are called is _O Hina Sama_. Now _hina_ in modern Japanese means a
chicken or other young bird, and is never used to mean anything else
except the dolls; thus the dolls are shown to be associated with the
ancient cock-fighting, an amusement which has now almost gone out,
except in the province of Tosa on the island of Shikoku.

The oldest dolls did not represent the Emperor and Empress, but simply a
man and a woman, and were modeled closely after the old white paper
dolls of the religious ceremony. When the Tokugawa Shōguns had firmly
established their splendid court at Yedo, a decree was issued
designating the five feast days upon which the daimiōs were to present
themselves at the Shōgun's palace and offer their congratulations. One
of the days thus appointed was the third day of the third month. It is
believed that the giving of the chief place at the feast to effigies of
the Emperor and Empress was a part of the policy of the Shōgunate,--a
policy which aimed to keep alive the spirit of loyalty to the throne,
while at the same time the occupant of the throne remained a puppet in
the hands of his vice-gerent.

Each girl born into a family has a pair of _O Hina Sama_ placed for her
upon the red-covered shelf, on the first Feast of Dolls that comes after
her birth. When, as a bride, she goes to her husband's house, she
carries the dolls with her, and the first feast after her marriage she
observes with special ceremonies. Until she has a daughter old enough
to carry out the observance, she must keep up the ceremony. The feast,
as it exists to-day, is said by the Japanese to serve three purposes: it
makes the children of both sexes loyal to the imperial family, it
interests the girls in housekeeping, and it trains them in ceremonial

_Page 40._

Because of the complexity of the Chinese language and the time needed
for its mastery, there has been a movement to lessen the study of pure
Chinese in the government schools, or abolish it altogether, and with
this to simplify the use of the ideographs in the Sinico-Japanese. The
educational department is requiring that text-books be limited in their
use of ideographs; that those used be written in only one way and that
the simplest, and that the _kana_ (the Japanese syllabary) be
substituted wherever possible. Several plans for reform in this matter
are being agitated, one of which is to limit the use of ideographs to
nouns and verbs only.

_Page 41._

No one who has been in Japan can have failed to notice the peculiarly
strident quality of the Japanese voice in singing, a quality that is
gained by professional singers through much labor and actual physical
suffering. That this is not a natural characteristic of the Japanese
voice is shown by the fact that in speaking, the voices, both of
children and adults, are low and sweet. It seems to me to be brought
about by the pursuit of a wrong musical ideal, or at least, of a musical
ideal quite distinct from that of the Western world. In Japan one seldom
finds singing birds kept in cages, but instead crickets, grasshoppers,
katydids, and other noisy members of the insect family may be seen
exposed for sale in the daintiest of cages any summer night in the Tōkyō
streets. These insects delight the ears of the Japanese with their
melody, and it seems to me that the voices of singers throughout the
empire are modeled after the shrill, rattling chirp of the insect,
rather than after the fuller notes of the bird's song.

The introduction of European music by the schools and churches has
already begun to show in the songs of the children in the streets, and
where ten years ago one might live in Tōkyō for a year, and never hear a
note of music except the semi-musical cries of the workmen, when they
are pulling or striking in concert, now there are few days when some
strain of song from some passing school-child does not come in at the
window of one's house in any quarter of the city. The progress made in
catching foreign ideas of time and tune is quite surprising, but the
singing will never be acceptable to the foreign ear until the voice is
modulated according to the foreign standards.

_Page 45._

It is said by Japanese versed in the most refined ways that a woman who
has learned the tea ceremony thoroughly is easily known by her superior
bearing and manner on all occasions.

_Page 49._

Whatever plant she begins with is taken up in a series of
studies,--leaves, flowers, roots, and stalks being shown in every
possible position and combination,--until not only the stroke is
mastered, but the plant is thoroughly known. In the book that lies
before me as I write, a book used as a copy-book by a young lady
beginning the practice of the art, the teacher has devoted six large
pages to studies of one small and simple flower and the pupil has
covered hundreds of sheets of paper with efforts to imitate the designs.
She has now finished that part of the course, and can, at a moment's
notice, reproduce with just the right strokes any of the designs or any
part of the plant. The next step forward will be a similar series of

_Page 52._

In the government schools for girls, much attention is paid just now to
physical culture. The gymnastic exercises rank with the Chinese and
English and mathematics as important parts of the course, and the girls
are encouraged to spend their recesses out-of-doors, engaging in all
kinds of athletic sports. Races, ball games, tugs-of-war, marches, and
quadrilles are entered into with zest and enjoyment, and the girls in
their dark red _hakama_ are as well able to move quickly and freely as
girls of the same age in America. If it were not for the queer
pigeon-toed gait, acquired by years of walking in narrow _kimono_ and on
high clogs, the Japanese girls would be fully abreast of the American in
all these sports. So strongly has the idea of the necessity for physical
strength seized upon the nation, that a girl of delicate physique has
less chance of marriage than one who is robust and strong.

_Page 55._

It is in the mistakes and failures made in adapting the education given
in the schools to the exact conditions that present themselves in the
constantly changing Japan of to-day, that the opponents of all
alteration in the education of women find their strongest arguments. The
conservatives point with scorn to this girl whose new ideas have led
her into folly or trouble, or to that one whose health has been broken
down by the adverse conditions surrounding her student life, and say,
"This will be the case with all our women if we continue this insane
practice of educating them along new lines." Advance in female
education, as in all other lines of progress in Japan, is a series of
violent actions and reactions. In 1889, partly through ill-advised
conduct on the part of supporters of the cause, one of the most serious
reverses that has come in the progress of Western education for women
began to show itself. The reaction was helped along by a paper read
before some of the most influential men of Japan, and subsequently
reported and discussed in the newspapers, by a German professor in the
medical department of the imperial University in Tōkyō. The paper was a
serious warning to the men of the country that no women could be good
wives, mothers, and housekeepers and at the same time have undergone a
thorough literary education. The arguments were reinforced by statistics
showing that American college women either did not marry, or that if
they married they had very few children. All Japan took fright at this
alarming showing, and for several years the education of girls in
anything more than the primary studies was not encouraged by the
government. The lowest depth of this reaction was reached during or soon
after the Japan-China war, when the growth of national vanity resulted
in a temporary disdain for all foreign ideas. The tide has turned again
now, girls' schools that have been closed for years are being reopened,
young men who are thinking of marrying are looking for educated wives,
and among the women themselves there is a strong desire for
self-improvement. Under this impulse a new generation of educated women
will be added to those already exerting an influence in the country, and
it is to be hoped that the forward movement will be more difficult to
set back when the next reactionary wave strikes the Japanese coast.

_Page 60._

The _obi_ is supposed to express by its length the hope that the
marriage may be an enduring one. Among the more modernized Japanese a
ring is now often given in place of, or, in the wealthier classes, in
addition to the _obi_.

_Page 61, line 6._

It is interesting, however, as a sign of the times, to notice that for
the wedding of the Crown Prince, in May, 1900, the Shinto high priest,
who is master of ceremonies at the Imperial Court, instituted a solemn
religious ceremony within the sanctuary of the palace. Following the
example set in so high a quarter, a number of couples, during the winter
of 1900-1901, have repaired to Shinto temples in various parts of the
empire, to secure the sanction of the ancient national faith upon their
union. But still, for the great majority of the Japanese, the wedding
ceremony is what it has always been.

_Page 61, line 15._

Although new methods of transportation have come into use now in most of
the Japanese cities, and wheeled carts drawn by men or horses are used
for carrying all other kinds of luggage, the wedding outfit, wrapped in
great cloths on which the crest of the bride's family is conspicuous, is
borne on men's shoulders to the bridegroom's home, the length of the
baggage train and the number and size of the burdens showing the wealth
and importance of the bride's family. The bride who goes to her
husband's house well provided by her own family, will carry, not only a
full wardrobe and the house-furnishings already mentioned, but will be
supplied, so far as foresight can manage it, with all the little things
that she can need for months in advance. Paper, pens, ink, postage
stamps, needles, thread, and sewing materials of all kinds, a store of
dress materials and other things to be given as presents to any and all
who may do her favors, and pocket money with which she may make good any
deficiencies, or meet any unforeseen emergency. When she goes from her
father's house, she should be so thoroughly fitted out that she will not
have to ask her husband for the smallest thing for a number of months.
The parents of the bride, in giving up their daughter, as they do when
she marries, show the estimation in which they have held her by the
beauty and completeness of the trousseau with which they provide her.
The expense of this wedding outfit is often very great, persons even in
the most moderate circumstances spending as much as one thousand yen
upon the necessary purchases, and among the wealthy, four thousand to
five thousand yen is not extravagant. As material wealth increases in
Japan, there is a marked tendency to increase the style and cost of the
trousseau, and the marriage of a daughter has come to be, in many cases,
a severe strain on the family finances. But this outfit is of the nature
of a dowry, for it is her very own; and in the event of a divorce, she
brings back with her to her father's house the clothing and household
goods that she carried away as a bride.

_Page 64._

For this visit the bride wears for the first time a dress made for her
by her husband's family and bearing its crest, as a sign that she is
now a member of that family and only a guest in her father's house.

_Page 76._

Since the adoption of the new code, the conditions of marriage and of
divorce have been altered for the better. At present no divorce is
possible except through the courts or through mutual consent; the simple
change of registration by one party or the other does not constitute a
legal divorce. Even a divorce by mutual consent cannot be arranged
without the consent of the parents or head of the family of a married
person who is under twenty-five years of age. The grounds upon which
judicial divorce may be granted seem very trivial measured by European
standards, but, on the other hand, they are a distinct gain over the
former practice. The wife is no longer dependent for her position simply
upon the whim of her husband, but, unless he can secure her consent to
the separation, he must formulate charges of immorality or conviction of
crime, or of cruel treatment or grave insult on the part of the wife or
of her relatives, or of desertion, or of disappearance for a period of
three years or more. Only when some such charge has been made and proved
before a court can a husband send away his wife. In the case of a
separation by mutual consent, though the law still gives the care of the
children to the father in case no previous agreement has been made, if a
woman sees her way clear to supporting them, she may stipulate for the
custody of one or more of them as a condition of her consent to the
divorce. In a judicial divorce, the judge may, in the interests of the
children, take them away from their father and assign them to the care
of some other person.

In these changes we can see a distinct advance toward permanence of the
family tie; and we can see, too, that the wife has gained a new power to
hold her own against injustice and wrong. That when the people have
become used to these changes, other and more binding laws will be
enacted, we can feel pretty sure, for the drift of enlightened public
opinion seems to be in favor of securing better and more firmly
established homes just as fast as "the hardness of their hearts" will

_Page 84._

It is difficult for us in America, who live under customs and laws in
which the individual is the social unit and the family a union of
individuals, to understand a system of society in which the individual
is little or nothing and the family the social unit recognized both by
law and custom. In Japan, a man is simply a member of some family, and
his daily affairs, his marrying and giving in marriage, are more or less
under the control of the head of his family, or of the family council.
Only in case he is the head of the family is he able to marry without
securing some one's consent, and then his responsibilities in regard to
the headship may in themselves hamper him. If this is the case with the
more independent man, it may be imagined how completely the woman is
submerged under family influence. She may, under exceptional
circumstances, become the head of a family, but this is usually only a
temporary expedient, and even then she must subordinate herself more
completely to the family and its interests than when she occupies a
lowlier place.

The headship of an unmarried woman lasts only until a husband has been
selected for her, and the headship of a widow lasts during her
guardianship of the rightful heir to the position. By Japanese law a
widow is always the guardian of her minor children.

The only way in which individuality before the law can be obtained by
man or woman in Japan is through cutting the tie that binds to the
family, and starting out in life afresh as the head of a new family.
This new family must always be _héimin_, or plebeian, no matter how high
in rank may have been the family from which the founder has gone out,
but there is a continually increasing number of young men and women who
prefer the freedom that comes from the headship of a small and new
family, even if of low rank, to the state of tutelage or of hampering
responsibility which must accompany connection with a larger and older
social group. It seems likely that through this means an evolution from
the family to the individual system will be effected, as the nation
grows more and more modernized in its way of looking at things.

For the Japanese woman, as I have already said, marriage is in most
cases the entrance into a new family. She is cut off from the old ways
and interests, in which she has until now had her part, and she has
begun life anew as the latest addition to and therefore the lowest and
most ignorant member of another social group. It is her duty simply to
learn the ways and obey the will of those above her, and it is the duty
of those above her, and especially of her husband's mother, to fit her
by training and discipline for her new surroundings. The physical
strength of the young wife, her sweetness of temper, her manners, her
morals, her way of looking at life, are all put to the test by this
sharp-eyed guardian of the family interests, and woe to the younger
woman if she fail to come up to the standard set. She may be a good
woman and a faithful wife, but if, under the training given her, she
does not adapt herself readily to the traditions and customs of the
family she enters, it is more than likely, even under the new laws, that
she may be sent back to her father's house as _persona non grata_, and
even her husband's love cannot save her. It is because of this
predominance of the family over the individual that the young wife, when
she enters her husband's home, is not, as in our own country, entering
upon a new life as mistress of a house, with absolute control over all
of her little domain.

_Page 115._

At the time of the celebration of his silver wedding, in 1895, the
Emperor came into the Audience Room with the Empress on his arm, an
example which was followed by the Imperial Princes.

With the engagement and marriage of the Crown Prince, in May, 1900, an
entirely new precedent was established in the relations of the Imperial
couple. The Western idea of marriage between equals has never existed in
the Japanese mind in its thought of the union between their Emperor and
Empress. The Empress, though of noble family, was chosen from among the
subjects of the Emperor, and the marriage was of the nature of an
appointment by the Emperor to the position of Imperial Consort, just as
any other appointment might have been made of a subject to fill an
important position in the government. In the marriage of the Crown
Prince a very different course was pursued. While no departure was made
from the old precedents in the selection of a Princess from one of the
five families that trace their descent from Jimmu Tenno, the whole
manner of obtaining the bride was different from anything that Japan had
before known. The Prince asked the father of the young lady to give her
to him just as a common man might have done, and everything in the
preliminary arrangements was carried out with the idea that by the
marriage she was to be raised to his rank and position. Reference has
already been made to the religious ceremony that was devised for the
occasion, an act that in itself altered the meaning of marriage for the
whole nation.

Since the wedding, rumors have floated to the world outside of the
palace gates, of the kindness and consideration with which the young
wife is treated by her husband. To the scandal of some of the more
old-fashioned of the Prince's attendants, the heir to the throne insists
on observing toward his wife, in private as well as in public, all the
minutiæ of Western etiquette. She enters the carriage ahead of him when
they drive together, they habitually take their meals together, and he
finds in her a cheerful companion and friend, and not simply a devoted
and humble servant. In this way, by the highest example that can be set
to them, the Japanese people are learning a new lesson.

All these things have a deep significance in showing that the sacredness
of the marriage tie is gradually being recognized.

_Page 137._

Something, indeed, may be said on the other side in regard to this
system, which I seem to have painted as ideal. If in America we find the
burden of expensive grown-up sons and daughters sometimes too heavy upon
parents whose powers are on the wane, we must remember that in Japan a
young man is often seriously handicapped at the beginning of his active
life by the early retirement of his father from self-supporting labor,
and that the young wife entering the home of her parents-in-law often
finds a happy married life rendered impossible by the fact that she must
please an elderly couple thoroughly fixed in their ways,--the rulers of
the household and with little to do but rule. With this custom, as with
all human customs, everything in the long run depends upon how it is
used, and without deep affection between parents and children there
seems to be as much danger from the serious handicapping of the rising
generation by selfish and inconsiderate parents in Japan, as there is in
America of the wearing out of the older people's lives and strength in
the service of ungrateful and lazy children.

_Page 152._

The bed on which the Empress sleeps is made of heavy _futons_, or
quilts, of white _habutai_ wadded with silk wadding. The bedclothing
consists of as many similar _futons_ as the state of the weather may
require. Every month new _futons_ are provided for Her Majesty, and the
discarded ones are given to one of her attendants. The happy recipient
is thus provided with wadding enough for all her winter dresses for the
rest of her life, as well as with a good supply of dress material.

_Page 157._

Only those who have seen the inner life of the court can realize the
difficulties which have attended every step of the Empress Haru's way,
for the court has been the scene of great struggles between the
conservative and radical elements. Mean and petty jealousies have moved
those surrounding the throne. The slightest word or token from the
Empress would be used as a weapon for private ends. To move among these
varied and discordant factions, and to move for progress, without
causing undue friction, has been a task more difficult than the conquest
of armies, and to do so successfully has required almost infinite
patience, sympathy, and love.

_Page 168._

And now, after thirty-three years of the enlightened rule of the present
Emperor, and of the beneficent life and example of the Empress Haru, is
there any assurance that the progress made during their occupation of
the throne will be continued in the lives of Japan's future rulers?

Prince Haru, or Yoshihito, is now a man twenty-two years of age, with
character sufficiently developed to be used as the basis for a guess at
what his qualities as a sovereign may prove to be. "As far as the East
is from the West" have his life and education been from the life and
education of his illustrious father. Instead of the curtained seclusion,
the quiet and calm of the old palace in the old capital, the present
Crown Prince has known from babyhood the sights and sounds of the
stirring city of Tōkyō. He has driven in an open carriage or walked
through its streets; he has been to school with boys of his own age,
taking the school work and the drill and the games with the other boys,
learning to know men and things and himself too, in a way in which none
of his ancestors, since the days when they were simply savage chiefs,
have had opportunity of knowing. As he grew toward manhood, his delicate
health required that he leave the school and pursue his studies as his
strength permitted, under masters; but he has retained his love for all
athletic exercises, for dogs and horses and guns and bicycles, and he is
as expert in outdoor sports as any youth of Western training. His mind
is quick and eager, interested especially in foreign ways and thoughts,
and seeking most of all to understand how other people think and feel
and live. Though he has been emancipated to a wonderful degree from the
state and ceremony that surrounded his ancestors, he is nevertheless
impatient of what remains, and would gladly dispense with many forms
that his conservative guardians regard as necessary; and these same
guardians at times find their young eaglet difficult to manage. He has
views and ideas of his own, and acts occasionally upon his own
initiative in a way that fairly scandalizes his advisers. He wishes to
visit his future subjects upon something like equal terms. The rôle of
Son of Heaven seems to him less interesting at times than some smaller
and more human part. When he walks, he wants to lead his own dog, not
have him led by some one else; to stop in the street and watch the
common people at their work; to drop in on his friends in a neighborly
way and see how they live when they are not expecting a visit from
royalty. Provided he does not go too fast or too far, when his turn
comes to ascend the throne, he cannot but make a better emperor for the
intimate personal knowledge that he is seeking and gaining of the lives
and feelings of his people.

The Crown Princess Sada, who has now been for one year in the line of
succession to the present beloved Empress, shows in her training and
character the influence of the new impulse that is driving Japan
forward. The circumstances that led to her selection as the bride of the
Prince are in themselves curious enough to be worth recording. The Kujo
family is one of the five families from which alone can the wife of the
Crown Prince be chosen, and the present Prince Kujo is blessed with many
daughters. Of these, the oldest is about the age of Prince Haru, and at
one time it was hoped that she might be selected as his consort, but at
last that hope was given up, and she was married to another prince. The
second daughter was as bright and charming as the first, but she was
just enough younger than the Prince to make her marriage with him so
dangerous a matter according to all the rules that govern good and bad
luck in Japan, that no hope was entertained for her, and she was
married, when her time came, with no reference to the greatest match
that any Japanese princess can make. The third daughter was six years
younger than the Prince, so much younger that it was thought that he
would be married long before she grew up, so no special care or
attention was given to her. In her babyhood, like most Japanese babies
of high rank, she was sent out into the country to be nursed. Her foster
parents were plain farmer folk, who loved her and cared for her as their
own child. She played bareheaded and barefooted in the sun and wind,
tumbled about, jolly and happy, with the village children, and lived and
grew like a kitten or a puppy rather than like a future empress until
she was old enough for the kindergarten. Then she came back to Tōkyō, to
her father's house, and from there she attended the Peeresses' School,
going backward and forward every day with her bundle of books, and
taking her share of the work and play with the other children. In her
school-days she was noticeable for her great physical activity and her
hearty enjoyment of the outdoor sports which form so important a part of
the training in Japanese schools for girls at present; and for her
strength of will and character among a class of students upon whom
self-repression amounting almost to self-abnegation has been inculcated
from earliest childhood.

When this little princess reached the age of fifteen, the Crown Prince's
marriage, which had been somewhat deferred on account of his ill-health,
was pressed forward, and to the extreme surprise of her own family, and
of many others as well, the Princess Sada was chosen, largely on account
of her great physical vigor. Then began a great change in her life. From
being one of the lowest and least considered in her family, she was
suddenly raised high above all the rest, even her father addressing her
as a superior. The merry, romping school-girl was transformed in a few
days into the great lady, too grand to associate on equal terms with any
but the imperial family. Small cause was there for wonder if she shrank
from the change and begged that the honor might be bestowed on some one
else. The old free life was gone forever, and she dreaded the heavy
responsibility that was to fall upon her slender shoulders.

The choice was made in August, 1899, and from the moment that the
engagement was entered into, the Princess Sada became an honored guest
in her father's house. She could no longer play with her brothers and
sisters, or take a meal with any member of her own family. A new and
handsome suite of rooms was built for her, her old wardrobe was
discarded and an entirely new one provided for her, all her table
service was new and distinct from that of the rest of the family, and
she was addressed by all as if she were already Empress. Her studies
were not given up, but masters were chosen for her who came to her and
instructed her, with due deference to her high station, in the subjects
that she had been studying at school. So passed the nine months of her
engagement, and on May 8, 1900, she became one of the principals in a
state wedding such as Japan had never before seen. Through all the show
and ceremony she acquitted herself decorously and bravely, and since her
marriage no word save of approval of the young wife has come out from
the palace gates. Her little sisters-in-law, the four small daughters of
the Emperor, enjoy nothing so much as to go and spend the day with her,
for she is so amusing, and her life has been such a busy and happy one,
that she comes like a breath of fresh air into the seclusion of the
Court. Her young husband, too, finds in her congenial society, and his
frail health seems to be daily strengthening with the brightness that
has come into his home.

Great was the joy in the empire when, on April 29, 1901, this happy
union was rendered still happier by the birth of a strong little prince
to carry on the ancient line. By an auspicious coincidence, his birth
came just at the time of the annual boys' feast, or Feast of Flags, and
his naming day was appointed for May 5, the great day of the feast, when
all Japan is decorated with giant carp swinging from tall poles outside
of every house, and swimming vigorously at the ends of their tethers in
the strong spring wind. The carp is to the Japanese mind the emblem of
courage and perseverance, for he swims up the strongest current, leaping
the waterfalls that oppose his progress. The baby was named by his
grandfather, and will have the personal name of Hirohito, and the title
Prince Michi. With this new little prince there are no polite fictions
to maintain, nor conventional relationships to be established. He is the
son of his father's lawful wife, as well as of his father. There is to
be no breaking off of natural ties, and his own mother will nurse and
care for him, a fortune that never falls to the lot of the imperial son
of a _mékaké_. If he lives, he will be a standing argument in favor of
monogamy, even in noble families, and his birth bodes well for family
life throughout the country.

_Page 182._

A pretty, but most shocking sight, if seen through the eyes of some of
these old-fashioned attendants, is the semi-annual _undo kai_, or
exercise day of the Peeresses' School. The large playground is, for
this occasion, surrounded by seats divided off to accommodate invited
guests of various ranks, who spend the day watching the entertainment.
In the most honorable place, surrounded by her ladies-in-waiting, sits
the Empress herself, for the education of the daughters of the nobles is
a matter of the liveliest interest to her; and the parents and friends
and teachers of the girls fill up all available seats after the school
itself has been accommodated.

The programme is usually a long one, occupying the greater part of the
morning and afternoon, with an interval for lunch. Most of the ordinary
English field games--tennis, basket-ball, etc.--are played with skill
and vigor, and in addition to these there are races of various kinds,
devised to show, not simply fleetness of foot, but quickness of hand and
wit as well. These races vary from year to year, as the ingenuity of the
directors of the sports may be able to devise new forms of exercise. One
extremely pretty contest is as follows: On the playground between the
starting-point and the goal are set at equal distances four upright
sticks for each runner. Four branches of cherry blossoms and four
bright-colored ribbons for each contestant are laid on the ground at the
starting-point. At the signal, each girl picks up a cherry branch and a
ribbon, and runs to one of the upright sticks, tying the flowers firmly
thereto; then she runs back for a second branch, and so on until all
four have been fastened in place. The race is won by the child who first
reaches the goal leaving behind her four blooming trees where before
there were bare poles. This seems to be the æsthetic Japanese equivalent
for our prosaic potato race. Another contest is after this manner: Along
the course of each runner are laid at certain intervals bright-colored
balls,--a different color for each contestant. The object of the race
is, within a certain time, to pick up all the balls and throw them into
the nearly closed mouth of a great net at the far end of the grounds.
The contest is not decided until the balls have been counted, when the
girl who has succeeded in getting the greatest number of balls of her
color into the net is declared the winner. Another and extremely pretty
race, calling for great steadiness of hand and body, is the running from
one end of the ground to the other with a ball balanced on a battledore.
The Japanese battledore is made of light but hard wood, and is long and
narrow in shape. If one had not seen it done, it would be well-nigh
impossible to believe that any child could carry a ball upon it for more
than a few slow steps: but these children run at a smart trot, keeping
the ball immovable upon its small and smooth surface.

Beside the games and races, there are calisthenic exhibitions, in which
great precision of motion and flexibility of body are manifested. One of
the most graceful and attractive of these is the fan drill shown on this
occasion, when some twenty or thirty girls, with their bright-colored
dresses, long, waving sleeves, and red _hakama_, posture in perfect
rhythm, with fans opened or closed, waving above the head, held before
the face, changed from position to position, with the performers'
changes of attitude, each new figure seemingly more graceful than the

In these and many other ways the nobility of new Japan are being fitted
for the new part that they have to play in the world. No wonder that the
education now given, awakening the mind, toughening the body, arousing
ambition and individuality, is regarded by many of the ultra-conservatives
as a dangerous innovation, and one likely to bring the nobility down to
the level of the common people. Whether this new education is better or
worse than the old, we can hardly tell as yet, but there are no signs of
the immediate breakdown of the old spirit of the nobility, and the
better health and stronger characters of the young women who have
received the modern training promise much for the next generation.

_Page 192._

While this was entirely true in 1890, it is interesting to observe that
after ten years of commercial and industrial progress there are signs
that the embroidered kimono is coming back into fashion. With the growth
of large fortunes and of luxury that has marked the past decade, has
come the custom of providing wedding garments as magnificently
embroidered as were the robes of the daimiōs' ladies, and even the
_montsuki_ or ceremonial dress, which was severely plain in 1890, now
has little delicate embroidery about the bottom. It will not be
surprising if some day, when the present growing commercial and
industrial enterprise has reaped a more abundant harvest, Japan blooms
forth again in the beautiful garments that went out of fashion when the
great political upheaval cut off the revenues of the old nobility.

_Page 209._

At each encroachment of the enemy those of the population who could not
find refuge at once within the inner defenses were driven to choose
between surrender and self-inflicted death. The unconquerable samurai
spirit flamed out in the choice of hundreds of women and children as
well as men, and whole families were wiped out of existence at once,
the little ones, who were too young to understand the proper method of
_hara-kiri_, kneeling calmly with bowed heads for the death-stroke from
father or brother which should free them from the disgrace of defeat.

_Page 223._

That the spirit of the samurai women is still a living force in Japan,
no one can doubt who listens to the stories of what the women did and
bore in the Japan-China war of 1895. The old self-sacrifice and devotion
showed itself throughout the country in deeds of real, if sometimes
mistaken, heroism. Husbands, sons, and brothers were sent out to danger
and death with smiles and cheerful words, by women dependent upon them
for everything in a way that can hardly be understood by Americans. Even
tears of grief for the dear ones offered in the country's cause were
suppressed as disloyal, and women learned with unmoved countenances of
the death of those they loved best, and found the courage to express, in
the first shock of bereavement, their sense of the honor conferred on
the family by the death of one of its members in the cause of his

A few incidents quoted from an article by Miss Umé Tsuda that appeared
in the New York "Independent" in 1895 will give my readers an idea of
the forms that this devotion assumed:--

"One instance comes into my mind of an old lady who sent out cheerfully
and with a smiling face her young and only son, the sole stay of her old
age. Left a widow while young, she had lived a life of much sorrow and
trouble, and had with almost superhuman efforts managed to give her son
an education that would start him in life. It was only a few years ago
that the son had begun to help in the family support, and to be able to
repay to the mother her tender care of him. Her pride in her son and his
young wife was a pleasure to see, and the little home they had together
seemed a safe haven for the coming years of old age. Now, in a moment
all this was changed,--the son must start off for the wars. Yet not for
one instant was a cloud seen on the mother's face, as, smilingly and
cheerfully, she assisted in the preparations for his departure. Not in
public or in secret did one sigh or regret escape her; not even to the
son did a word of anxiety pass her lips. Her face, beaming with joy,
looked with pride on the manly strength of the young soldier as he
started to fight for his country and win honor for himself,--honor which
would surely come to him whether he lived or died.

"Another woman who is well on in years, and whose eldest son is a naval
officer, furnishes an interesting example of mother love. Though never
showing her anxiety on his account, or grief at his danger, she has
taken upon herself, in spite of her old age and by no means vigorous
health, to go on foot every morning to one of the temples and worship
there before daylight, in order to propitiate the gods, that they may
protect her son. She arises at four o'clock in the morning on the
coldest of cold days, washes and purifies herself with ice-cold water,
and then starts out before daylight for her three-mile walk to the
temple. Thus through wind and storm and cold have the faith and love of
this old woman upheld her, and one is happy to add that so far her
prayers have been heard and no harm has come to the one she has called
on her gods to protect.

"A touching story is told of the aged mother of Sakamoto, commander of
the warship Akagi, who was killed in the thickest of the fight during
the great naval battle of the Yellow Sea. Commander Sakamoto left an
aged mother, a wife, and three children. As soon as his death was
officially ascertained, a messenger was dispatched from the naval
department to convey the sad tidings to his family. The communication
was made duly to his wife, and before the messenger had left the house
it reached the ears of the old mother, who, tottering into the room
where the officer was, saluted and greeted him duly, and then, with dry
eyes and a clear voice, said, 'So it seems by your tidings that my son
has been of some service this time.'

"One reads pathetic stories in the newspapers daily in connection with
the war. Not long ago a sad account was given of a young woman, just
past her twentieth year, and only recently married to an army officer.
She had belonged by birth to a military family, and, as befitted the
wife and daughter of a soldier, she resolved, on hearing of the death of
her husband, that she would not survive him, but would follow him to the
great unknown. Sending away her servant on some excuse, she remained
alone in her home, which she put into perfect order. Then she arranged
all her papers, wrote a number of letters, and made her last
preparations for death. She dressed herself in full ceremonial dress as
she had been dressed for her bridal, and seated herself before a large
portrait of her husband. Then, with a short dirk, such as is owned by
every samurai woman, she stabbed herself. In her last letters she gives
as the reason for her death that, having no ties in the world, she would
not survive her husband, but wished to remain faithful to him in death
as she had been in life.

"Many such stories might be cited, but enough has been given to show the
spirit that exists in Japan. With such women and such teachings in
their homes, can it be wondered at that Japan is a brave nation, and
that her soldiers are winning battles? Certainly some of the honor and
credit must be given to these wives and mothers scattered throughout
Japan, who are surely, in some cases, the inspirers of that courage and
spirit which is just now surprising the world."

_Page 239._

Much surprise is evinced by foreigners visiting Japan at the lack of
taste shown by the Japanese in the imitation of foreign styles. And yet,
for these same foreigners, who condemn so patronizingly the Japanese
lack of taste in foreign things, the Japanese manufacture pottery, fans,
scrolls, screens, etc., that are most excruciating to their sense of
beauty, and export them to markets in which they find a ready sale,
their manufacturers wondering, the while, why foreigners want such ugly
things. The fact is that neither civilization has as yet come into any
understanding of the other's æsthetic side, and the sense of beauty of
the one is a sealed book to the other. The Japanese nation, in its
efforts to adopt foreign ways, has been, up to the present time, blindly
imitating, with little or no comprehension of underlying principles. As
a result there is an absolute crudeness in foreign things as attempted
in Japan that grates on the nerves of travelers fresh from the best to
be found in Europe or America.

There are signs, however, that the stage of imitation is past and that
adaptation has begun. Here and there in Tōkyō may be seen buildings in
which the solidity of foreign architecture has been grafted upon the
Japanese type. Ten years ago, Japanese men who adopted foreign dress
went about in misfitting garments, soiled linen, untidy shoes, and hats
that had been discarded by the civilization for which they were made
many seasons before they reached Japan. They wore Turkish towels about
their necks and red blankets over their shoulders at the desire of
unscrupulous importers, who persuaded them that towels for neck-cloths
and blankets for overcoats were the latest styles of London and Paris.
To-day one sees no such eccentricities of costume in the purely Japanese
city of Tōkyō. Men who wear foreign dress wear it made correctly in
every particular by Japanese tailors, shoemakers, and hatters. The
standard has been attained, for men at least, and in foreign dress as
well as in Japanese, the natural good taste of the people has begun to
assert itself. So it will be in time with other new things adopted. As
no single element of the Chinese civilization secured a permanent
footing in Japan except such as could be adapted, not only to the
national life, but to the national taste as well, so it will be with
European things. All things that are adopted will be adapted, and
whatever is adapted is likely in time to be improved and made more
beautiful by the national instinct for beauty. During the transition,
enormities are omitted and monstrosities are constructed, but when the
standard is at last attained, we may expect that the genius of the race
will triumph over the difficulties that it is now encountering.
Individual Japanese who have lived long in Europe or America show the
same nice discrimination in regard to foreign things that they do in
their Japanese surroundings, and are rarely at fault in their taste.
What is true of the individual now will be true of the nation when
European standards have become common property.

_Page 242._

In the remote mountain regions, where the majesty and uncertainty of the
great natural forces impress themselves constantly upon the minds of the
peasantry, one finds a simple nature worship, and a desire to propitiate
all the unseen powers, that is not so evident in the daily life of the
dwellers in more populous and progressive parts of the country. As the
mountains close in about the road that runs up from the plains below, a
great stone, on which is deeply carved "To the God of the Mountains,"
calls the attention of the traveler to the fact that the supernatural is
a recognized power among the mountaineers. In such regions one finds
the stated offerings at the shrines which stand near the wayside kept
constantly renewed. Nearly every house is protected by some slip of
paper pasted above the door, a charm obtained by toilsome pilgrimage to
some noted temple. Behind or near the village temple one may see rude
wigwams of straw, each sheltering a _gohei_,[45]--witnesses to the vows
of devotees who hope, sooner or later, to erect small wooden shrines and
so win favor from the unknown rulers of human destinies. In places where
pack-horses form a large part of the wealth of the people, stones to the
horses' spirits are erected, and the halters of all the horses that die
are left upon these stones. Prayers, too, are offered to the guardian
spirits of the living horses, before stones on which are carved
sometimes the image of a horse bearing a _gohei_ on his back, sometimes
a rough figure of the horse-headed Kwannon. To such stones or shrines
are brought horses suffering from sickness of any kind, and the hand is
rubbed first on the stone and then on the part of the animal supposed to
be affected. In one district, when a horse epidemic broke out, its rapid
spread was attributed by the authorities to this custom, and all persons
were warned of the danger, with what effect in breaking up the ancient
habit the newspaper reports failed to say. It is in such regions as this
that the _oni_ and the _tengu_[46] still live in the every-day thought
of the people; it is here, too, that the old custom of offering flowers
and fruit to the spirits of the dead at the midsummer festival is most
conscientiously kept up. All possible spirits are included in these
offerings, so that even by the roadside one finds bunches of flowers set
up in the clefts of the rock, to the spirits of travelers who have died
on the way.

[45] _Gohei_, a piece of white paper, cut and folded in a peculiar
manner, one of the sacred symbols of the Shintō faith.

[46] _Tengu_, a winged, long-nosed or beak-mouthed monster, supposed to
inhabit the mountain regions of Japan. It was from a _tengu_ that
Yoshitsune, one of the greatest of Japanese heroes, learned to fence,
and so became a swordsman of almost miraculous expertness. _Oni_, a
demon or goblin.

In one little mountain resort, far from the railroad but in touch with
the outside world through the hundreds of visitors that seek its hot
baths during the summer, it was my good fortune to spend a few weeks
recently. Our walks were rather limited in variety, as the village lay
in an almost inaccessible mountain valley through which a carefully
engineered road ran along the edge of the river gorge. About half a mile
out of the village, close to the road and overhanging the waters of the
river at a spot where the rocks were so worn and carved by the rushing
torrent as to have gained the appropriate title of the "Screen Rocks,"
was a little shop and a tea-house. It was a pleasant resting-place after
a warm and dusty walk, and almost daily we would halt there for a cup of
tea and a slice of _yokan_, or bean marmalade, before returning to our
rooms in the hotel. The managers of the place were an old man and his
wife, who divided their labor between the shop and the tea-house. The
old man was an artist in roots. His life was devoted to searching out
grotesquely shaped roots on the forest-covered hills, and whittling,
turning, and trimming them into the semblance of animal or human forms.
_Tengu_ and goblins, long-legged birds and short-legged beasts, all
manner of weird products of his imagination and his handiwork, peopled
the interior of the little shop, and he was always ready to welcome us
and show us his latest work, with the pride of an artist in his

His wife, a cheery old woman, attended to the tea-house, and as soon as
we had seated ourselves, bustled about to bring us cool water from the
spring that bubbled out of the rocks across the road, and to set before
us the tiny cups of straw-colored tea and the delicious slices of
_yokan_ which we soon learned was the specialty of the place. She was
glad to have a little gossip as we sipped and nibbled, telling us many
interesting bits of folklore about the immediate locality. It was from
her that we learned that the pinnacle of rock that dominated the village
was built by _tengu_ long ago, though now they were all gone from the
woods, for she had looked for them often at night when she went out to
shut the house, but she had never seen one,--and even the monkeys were
becoming scarce. She it was, too, who sent us to look for the mysterious
draught of cold air that crossed the road near the base of the great
rock, colder on hot days than on cool ones, and at all times
astonishing,--the "Tengu's Wind Hole." We learned through her about the
snakes to be found in the woods, and of the wonderful tonic virtues of
the _mamushi_ (the one poisonous snake of Japan), if caught and bottled
with a sufficient quantity of _saké_. The _saké_ may be renewed again
and again, and the longer the snake has been bottled the more medicinal
does it become, so that one _mamushi_ may, if used perseveringly,
medicate several casks of _saké_. We had opportunity later to verify her
statements, for we found at a small grocery store, where we stopped to
add a few delicacies to our somewhat scanty bill of fare, two snakes,
neatly coiled in quart bottles and pickled in _saké_, one of which could
be obtained for the sum of seventy-five sen, though the other, who in
his rage at being bottled had buried his fangs in his own body,
commanded a higher price because of his courage. We did not feel in
need of a tonic that day, so left the _mamushi_ on the grocery shelves,
but it is probable that their disintegrating remains are being
industriously quaffed to-day by some elderly Japanese whose failing
strength demands an unfailing remedy.

When our little friend had learned of our interest in snakes, she was on
the lookout for snake stories of all kinds. One day she stopped us as we
came by rather later than usual, hurrying home before a threatening
shower, to tell us that we ought to have come a little sooner, for the
great black snake who was the messenger of the god that lived on the
mountain had just been by, and we might have been interested to see him.
She had seen him before, herself, so he was no novelty to her, but she
was sure that the matter would interest us. Poor little old lady, with
her kindly face and pleasant ways, and her friendly cracked voice. Her
firm belief in all the uncanny and supernatural things that wiser people
have outgrown brought us face to face with the childhood of our race,
and drew us into sympathy with a phase of culture in which all nature is
wrapped in inscrutable mystery.

_Page 264._

Each year that passes sees a few more stores adopting the habit of fixed
prices, not to be altered by haggling.

_Page 282._

On another occasion the good offices of the fortune-teller were sought
concerning a marriage, and the powerful arranger of human destinies
discovered that though everything else was favorable, the bride
contracted for was to come from a quarter quite opposed to the luck of
the bridegroom. This was no laughing matter, as the bride was of a noble
family and the breaking of the engagement would be attended with much
talk and trouble on both sides; but, on the other hand, the family of
the bridegroom dared not face the danger so mysteriously prophesied by
the fortune-teller. In this predicament, there was nothing to do but to
pull the wool over the eyes of the gods as best they might. For this
purpose the bride with all her belongings was sent the day before the
wedding from her father's house to that of an uncle living in another
part of the city, and on the morning of the wedding-day she came to her
husband from a quarter quite favorable to his fortunes. It seems quite
probable that the gods were taken in by this somewhat transparent
subterfuge, for no serious evil has befallen the young couple in three
years of married life.

_Page 317._

To the American mind this method of terminating relations is always
irritating and frequently embarrassing, but in Japan any discomfort is
to be endured rather than the slightest suspicion of bad manners. If the
foreign visitor is trying to learn to be a good Japanese, she must
submit patiently when the servant solemnly engaged fails to appear at
the appointed hour, sending a letter instead to say that she is ill; or
when the woman upon whom she is depending to travel with her the next
day to the country receives a telegram calling her to the bedside of a
mythical son, and departs, bag and baggage, at a moment's notice,
leaving her quondam mistress to shift for herself as best she may.

_Page 318._

Among the many changes that have come over Japan in the transition from
feudalism to the conditions of modern life, there is none that Japanese
ladies regard with greater regret than the change in the servant
question. As the years go by and new employments open to women, it
becomes increasingly difficult to engage and keep servants of the
old-time, faithful, intelligent sort. Notwithstanding increased pay, and
the still existing conditions of considerate treatment, comfortable
homes, and light work, it is hard to fill places vacated, even in noble
households: and there is almost as much shaking of heads and despondent
talk over the servant question in Japan to-day as there is in America.

_Page 322._

It is interesting to note that it is to the quickness and courage of a
jinrikisha man who interposed between him and his would-be assassin that
the present Czar of Russia owes his escape from death at Otsu, near
Kyōtō, in 1891.


My task is ended. One half of Japan, with its virtues and its frailties,
its privileges and its wrongs, has been brought, so far as my pen can
bring it, within the knowledge of the American public. If, through this
work, one person setting forth for the Land of the Rising Sun goes
better prepared to comprehend the thoughts, the needs, and the virtues
of the noble, gentle, self-sacrificing women who make up one half the
population of the Island Empire, my labor will not have been in vain.


Adoption, 103, 112, 187.

Agility of Japanese, 13.

Ai, love, 415.

Amado, sliding wooden shutters used to inclose a Japanese house at
night, 23.

Amulets, 329.

Andon, a standing lamp inclosed in a paper case, 89.

Ané San, or Né San, elder sister (_San_ the honorific), a title used by
the younger children in a family in speaking to their eldest sister, 20.

Aoyama, 131.

Apprentices, 309, 310.

Art in common things, 237-239, 462, 463.

Artisans, 235-239, 270.

Babies, 1-17;
  bathing, 10;
  conditions of life, 6, 7;
  dress, 6, 15;
  food, 10, 11;
  imperial babies, 8, 9;
  learning to talk, 16;
  learning to walk, 13, 14;
  of lower classes, 7;
  of middle classes, 8;
  of nobility, 8;
  skin troubles, 11;
  teething, 12;
  tied to the back, 7, 8, 12.

Baby carriages, 424.

Baths, public, 10.

Beauty, Japanese standard of, 58; early loss of, 122.

Bé bé, a child's word for dress, 16.

Bed, the Empress's, 446.

Betrothal, 60.

Bettō, a groom or footman who cares for the horse in the stable and runs
ahead of it on the road, 62, 71, 311, 316, 319.

Bible, circulation of, in Japan, 412-414.

Birth, 1.

Boys, amusements of, 362-370.

Breakfast, 89.

Brothels. _See_ Jōroya.

Buddha's birthday, 365.

Buddhism, 168, 240;
  affected by Christianity, 417-421;
  introduction of, 143-145.

Buddhist funerals, 131, 132, 347.

Buddhist nuns, 155.

Buddhist priest, story of a, 418-421.

Building, 333-335.

Butsudan, the household shrine
used by Buddhists, 323.

Castles, 151, 157, 169, 171, 173, 174, 185, 186, 192.

Chadai, literally "tea money," the fee given at an inn, 251-253.

Cherry blossoms, 28, 146, 166, 176, 177, 191, 295, 296.

Childhood. _See_ Girlhood.

Children, intellectual characteristics of Japanese, 41;
  Japanese compared with American, 19.

Chinese characters, 40.

Chinese civilization introduced, 142.

Chinese code of morals, 103, 111.

Christian ideas, progress of, 402-421.

Christianity, 77, 81, 168, 206, 207.

Christians, Japanese, 404.

Chrysanthemum, 166, 296-298.

Civilization, new, 77.

Clubs, women's, 391.

Concubinage, 85, 111.

Confectionery, 146.

Confucius, 103, 168.

Constitution, promulgation of the, 114, 276.

Corea, conquest of, 139-143.

Country and city, 278, 279.

Court, after conquest of Corea, 143-146;
  amusements of, 145;
  costumes, 146;
  in early times, 138, 139;
  ladies, 145, 148, 152-154;
  life, 138-168;
  of daimiō, 171;
  of Shōgun, 170, 171;
  removal to Tōkyō, 156.

Courtship, 58.

Crown Prince's wedding, the, 434, 442-445, 449-453.

Crucifixion, 199, 234.

Daikoku, the money god, 332.

Dai jobu, "Safe," "All right," 320.

Daimiō, a member of the landed nobility under the feudal system, 169-195;
  his castles, 169;
  his courts, 17;
  his daughters, 175, 177, 180, 182-184, 191, 192-195;
  his journeys to Yedo, 171-173;
  his retainers, 169, 171, 173, 175, 177-179, 181, 183, 185, 186;
  his wife, 175, 177, 182, 192-195;
  seclusion of, 172-174.

Dancing, 38, 287, 288.

Dancing girls. _See_ Géisha.

Dango Zaka, 296.

Dashi, a float used in festival processions, 275-278, 366-369.

Days, lucky and unlucky, 331.

Decency, Japanese standard of, 255-260.

Deformity, caused by position in sitting, 9.

Diet, changes in, 424.

Divorce, among lower classes, 66, 69, 73;
  among higher classes, 66, 68;
  effect of recent legislation on, 374, 439;
  new laws, 438, 439;
  right to children in case of, 67, 105, 439.

Dolls, Feast of, 28-31, 428-430;
  origin of, 428;
  present meaning of, 430.

Dress, baby, 6, 15;
  court, 145, 146;
  in daimiōs' houses, 187, 192;
  military, of samurai women, 188;
  of lower classes, 126-128;
  of pilgrims, 243;
  present tendencies, 457;
  showing age of wearer, 119.

Education, higher, a doubtful help, 79;
  effect on home life, 77;
  producing repugnance to marriage, 80.

Education of daimiō's daughter, 177-180.

Education of girls, 37-56;
  action and reaction in, 433, 434;
  difficulties in new system, 52-56;
  fault in Japanese system, 39;
  in old times, 37.

Embroidered robes, 95, 146, 188, 192, 456.

Emperor, 111, 114, 134, 151-153, 155-157, 161, 164-166, 292.

Emperors, after introduction of Chinese civilization, 143-145;
  children of, 164;
  daughters of, 155;
  early retirement of, 134;
  in early times, 138;
  seclusion of, 143-145, 155, 156, 161, 169.

Empress, 88, 115, 140, 150-168.

Empress, Dowager, 152.

Engawa, the piazza that runs around a Japanese house, 23.

Etiquette, court, 153;
  in daimiōs' houses, 177-179;
  in the home, 19, 20;
  instruction in, 46, 47;
  of leaving service, 316, 317;
  towards servants, 304, 305.

Factory workers, women, 399 _note_.

Fairy tales, 32.

Family, organization of, 139, 439-442.

Fancy work, 95.

Father's relation to children, 100.

Feast of Flags, 363, 364;
  of Lanterns, 358-362;
  of the Dead, 358-362;
  of Dolls, 28-31, 428-430.

Festivals, of flowers, 27, 99, 295-297;
  of the New Year, 25, 349-358;
  temple, 270-278, 364-370.

Feudal system, 169.

Feudal times, pictures of, 190-192;
  stories of, 184-187.

Firemen, 335, 338, 339.

Flirtation, unknown to Japanese girls, 34.

Flower arrangement, 42.

Flower painting, 47, 432.

Flower shows, 270-272.

Fortune-telling, 281-285, 331-333, 470.

Fuji, 58, 242.

Fukuzawa, his book on the woman question, 387-391;
  his will, 345.

Funeral customs, 131, 132, 339-349.

Furushiki, a square of cloth used for wrapping up a bundle, 354.

Games, battledore and shuttlecock, 31, 32;
  at court, 145;
  go, 136;
  hyaku nin isshu, 26, 27;
  shogi, 136.

Géisha, a professional dancing and singing girl, 286-289.

Géisha ya, an establishment where géishas may be hired, 286.

Géta, a wooden clog, 13, 14.

Ginza, 265.

Girlhood, 17-34.

Gohei, a piece of white paper folded and cut in a peculiar manner, one
of the sacred symbols of the Shintō faith, 464.

Hakama, the kilt-pleated trousers that formed a part of the dress of
every Japanese gentleman, also the skirt worn by school-girls over the
kimono, 433, 456.

Haori, a coat of cotton, silk, or crêpe, worn over the kimono, 8.

Hara-kiri, suicide by stabbing in the abdomen, 201, 202.

Haru, Prince, 113, 152, 442-444, 446-452.

Haru, Empress, 155-168.

Héimin, the class of farmers, artisans, and merchants, 203, 228, 229;
  class characteristics of, 229-240, 464-468.

Hibachi, a brazier for burning charcoal, 30, 72, 136, 307.

Hidéyoshi. _See_ Toyotomi.

Hinin, a class of paupers, 228.

Hiyéi Zan, 243.

Holidays, 269.

Hotel-keepers, 280, 281.

Hotels, 247-250.

Household duties, training for, 21.

Household worship, 328.

Hyaku nin isshu, "Poems of a Hundred Poets," the name of a game, 26.

Inkyo, a place of retirement, the home of a person who has retired from
active life, 136.

Instruction, in etiquette, 46;
  in flower arranging, 42;
  in music, 41, 431;
  in painting, 47, 432;
  in reading and writing, 38;
  in tea ceremony, 44.

Inu, a dog, 250.

Isé, 231.

Iwafuji, 210-213.

Iwakura, Prince, 157.

Iya, a child's word, denoting dislike or negation, 16.

Iyémitsŭ, 171, 172.

Iyéyasŭ, 169.

Japan-China war, 458-462.

Japanese language, 16, 40, 179.

Japanese literature, 147-150.

Jimmu Tenno, 138.

Jin, benevolence, 415.

Jingo Kōgō, 139-143, 147.

Jinrikisha, a light carriage drawn by one or more men, and which will
hold one or two persons, 26, 70, 92, 268, 272, 320, 321.

Jinrikisha man, 26, 62, 69, 92, 108, 270, 279, 299, 316, 319-324, 473.

Jishi, mercy, 415.

Jōrō, a prostitute, 289-292, 406-411.

Jōroya, a house of prostitution, 290-292, 406-411.

Kaibara's "Great Learning of Women," 387, 389, 391.

Kakémono, a hanging scroll, 44, 147, 238.

Kaméido, 296.

Kami-dana, "god-shelf," the household shrine used by Shintō worshippers,

Kana, Japanese phonetic characters, 40 _note_, 430.

Katsuobushi, a kind of dried fish, 5.

Kimono, a long gown with wide sleeves and open in front, worn by
Japanese of all classes, 7, 94, 188, 192, 287.

Kisses, 36.

Knees, flexibility of, 9.

Kotatsu, a charcoal fire in a brazier or small fireplace in the floor,
over which a wooden frame is set, and the whole covered by a quilt, 33.

Koto, a musical instrument, 42.

Kugé, the court nobility, 155, 170.

Kura, a fire-proof storehouse, 147, 171, 173.

Kuruma, a wheeled vehicle of any kind, used as synonymous with

Kurumaya, one who pulls a kuruma. _See_ Jinrikisha man.

Kurushima, 203.

Kyōtō, 156, 171, 240, 241.

Ladies, court, 145, 148, 152-154;
  of daimiōs' families, 175-180, 182-184.

Loyalty, 33, 75, 197, 206-208, 217, 302-304.

Mam ma, a baby's word for rice or food, 16.

Mamushi, a poisonous snake, 467, 468.

Manners of children, 18.

Manzai, exorcists who drive devils out of the houses at New Year's time,

Marriage, 57-83;
  ceremony, 61, 63, 435, 436;
  feast, 63;
  festivities after, 63, 64, 437;
  guests, 63;
  presents, 62, 435;
  registration, 65;
  to yōshi, 104;
  trousseau, 61, 436.

Marumagé, a style of arranging the hair of married ladies, 119.

Matsuri, a festival, usually in honor of some god, 274-278, 366-370.

Matsuri, Shobu, feast of flags, 363, 364.

Méiji (Enlightened Rule), the name of the era that began with the
accession of the present Emperor in 1868, 149.

Mékaké, a concubine, 111-114.

Men, old, dependence of, 133;
  amusements of, 136.

Merchants, 262-269, 469.

Military service of women, 188-190, 208, 223.

Missionary schools, 56.

Miya mairi, the presentation of the child at the temple when it is a
month old. The term is also used to describe the visits to the temple at
the ages of three, five, and seven, 3-6, 425-427.

Mochi, a kind of rice dumpling, 4, 24, 25, 65, 352, 353.

Momotaro, 33.

Mon, a family crest, 366.

Montsuki, a kimono bearing the crest of the wearer, 457.

Morality, standards of, 76.

Mother, her relation to her children, 99-102.

Mother-in-law, 84, 87;
  O Kiku's, 74.

Moving, 335-337.

Mukōjima, 191, 295.

Music, 41, 42, 430-432.

Names, 3, 423.

Nara, 247.

Né San. _See_ Ané San.

New Year, preparation for, 349-356;
  festival of, 25-27, 356-358.

Nikkō, 231, 245.

No, a pantomimic dance, 292, 293.

Norimono, a palanquin, 30.

Noshi, a bit of dried fish, usually folded in colored paper, given with
a present for good luck, 2.

Nurses, trained, 398.

Nursing the sick, 101.

O, an honorific used before many nouns, and before most names of women,

O Bā San, grandmother, 124.

O Bă San, aunt, 124.

Obi, a girdle or sash, 60, 435.

O Bon, the feast of the dead, 358-362.

Occupations, of the blind, 42;
  of the court, 143-150;
  of the daimiōs' ladies, 175-180;
  of the Empress, 156-160;
  of old people, 120-122, 124-128, 136;
  of samurai women, 223, 224;
  of servants, 299, 304, 306, 308-315, 318;
  of women, 85-103, 108-110, 242-256, 279-292, 306, 307, 310-318,
  of young girls, 21-34, 38-47.

O Haru, 211-213.

Oishi, 198, 214.

Oji, 296.

O Jō Sama, young lady, 20.

O kaeri, "Honorable return," a greeting shouted by the attendant upon
the master's or mistress's return to the house, 100, 315.

O Kaio, 324-326.

O Kiku's marriage and divorce, 73, 74.

Okuma, Count, 203;
  his speech on education, 382.

Old age, privileges of, 120, 122, 123;
  provision for, 134.

Old men, 133, 136.

O miyagé, a present given on returning from a journey or pleasure
excursion, 274.

Oni, a devil or goblin, 33, 466.

Onoyé, 210, 213.

Palace, new, 151-153.

Parents, duties to, 134;
  respect for, 133;
  disadvantages in Japanese system, 445.

Parents-in-law, 84, 87.

Peasant women, 108, 240-261.

Peasantry, 228-240.

Philanthropic efforts, 415-417, 418-421.

Physical culture in schools, 433, 453-456.

Physicians' fees, 204.

Pilgrims, 241, 242.

Pillow, 89.

Pleasure excursions, 99.

"Poems of a hundred poets," 26.

Poetry, 26, 148-150.

Presents, 96;
  after a wedding, 65;
  at betrothal, 60, 435;
  at miya mairi, 4;
  at New Year's, 353-355;
  at O Bon, 358;
  at weddings, 62;
  how wrapped, 2;
  in honor of a birth, 1;
  of eggs, 2, 5;
  of money, 204, 205;
  on returning from a journey, 274;
  to servants, 311, 315.

Prisoners' Home in Tōkyō, 413.

Prostitutes. _See_ Jōrō.

Prostitution, houses of. _See_ Jōroya.

Purity of Japanese women, 216-219.

Reading of women, 385-387.

Red Cross Society, 398, 416.

Religion of peasantry, 464-466.

Retirement from business, 133.

Retirement of Emperors, 134.

Revenge, 198, 210-214.

Revolution of 1868, 76, 221.

Rice, red bean, 3, 5, 65.

Rin, one tenth of a sen, or about one half mill, 240.

Rōnin, a samurai who had lost his master and owed no allegiance to any
daimiō, 198, 213.

Sada, Princess, 449-453.

Sakaki, the Cleyera Japonica, 98.

Saké, wine made from rice, 22, 63, 136, 296;
  white, 29.

Salvation Army's attack on jōroya, 408-411.

Sama, or San, an honorific placed after names, equivalent to Mr., Mrs.,
or Miss, 20, 73, 124, 136, 232, 283, 284, 304.

Samisen, a musical instrument, 42, 127, 277, 286.

Samurai, the military class, 42, 75, 76, 105, 169, 174, 175, 180,
196-227, 232, 263, 302, 303, 307, 319;
  character of, 197-207.

Samurai girls in school, 226.

Samurai women, character of, 207-223, 458-460;
  present work, 223-327.

Satsuma rebellion, 222.

School system, 50, 378-381;
  object of, 379;
  statistics of, 380.

School, Girls', for Higher English, 383-385;
  Mr. Naruse's Female University, 381-383.

Schools, missionary, 56.

Self-possession of Japanese girls, 47.

Self-sacrifice, 214-219.

Sen, one hundredth part of a yen, value about five mills, 240, 273, 298.

Servants, characteristics of, 209-302;
  duties of, 302-315;
  in employ of foreigners, 299-302;
  number employed, 310, 311;
  position of, 302-310;
  wages, 311.

Sewing, 23, 94.

Shirōzaké, a sweet white saké used at the feast of dolls, 427.

Shogi, Japanese chess, 136.

Shōgun, or Tycoon, the Viceroy or so-called temporal ruler of Japan
under the feudal system, 155, 169, 171, 173, 176, 185, 186, 191, 194,
197, 208, 224, 231-234, 292;
  daughter of, 176, 194.

Shōgunate, 155, 190, 192, 221, 222.

Shoji, sliding windows covered with white paper, 23, 71.

Shopping, 264-268.

Sho-séi, a student, 308.

Silk mosaic, 95, 192.

Silkworms, 95, 246.

Soba, a kind of macaroni made of buckwheat, 336.

Soroban, an abacus, 266-268.

Sumida River, 173, 295.

Tabi, a mitten-like sock, 13.

Ta ta, a baby's word for sock or tabi, 16.

Taiko Sama. _See_ Toyotomi.

Tea, 91, 92;
  ceremonial, 44, 136, 176, 432.

Tea-gardens, 247.

Tea-houses, 250-255.

Teachers, pay of, 204;
  women as, 398.

Teaching. _See_ Instruction.

Teeth, blackened after marriage, 63.

Temple, 4, 120, 129, 240.

Tengu, a monster in Japanese folklore, 466, 468.

Theatre, 33, 99, 292-294.

Titles used in families, 20.

Toes, prehensile, 15.

Toilet apparatus, 30.

Tōkaidō, 241.

Tokonoma, the raised alcove in a Japanese room, 44.

Tokugawa, 29, 151, 155, 231.

Tōkyō, 49, 69-71, 108, 115.

Tōkyō Mail, 231.

Tombs, 98.

Toyotomi Hidéyoshi, 232.

Training-schools for nurses, 158, 398.

Trousseau, 61, 436.

Tsuda, Miss Umé, viii, 458.

Utsunomiya, 70, 71.

Uyéno Park, 296.

Virtue, Japanese and Western ideas of, 215-219.

Visits, after marriage, 63;
  in honor of a birth, 1, 2;
  New Year's, 25;
  to a house of mourning, 340;
  to parents, 98;
  to tombs, 98, 359.

Voice in singing, 430-432.

Wakamatsu, 208, 222, 457.

Wedding. _See_ Marriage.

Widows, childless, 123.

Wife, childless, 102;
  duties of, 85-99;
  in great houses, 92;
  relation to husband, 84;
  relation to parents-in-law, 84;
  social relations, 91.

Woman question, new feeling about, 371-373.

Women, general reading of, 386;
  in the city, 279-298;
  new openings for, 397-402;
  occupations of, 85-103, 108-110, 242-256, 279-292, 306, 307, 310-318,
  position of, 17-22, 35, 36, 57, 65-68, 76-88, 90, 91, 93, 99-118,
  120-124, 132, 133, 139, 143, 145, 146, 148, 168, 189, 190, 208,
  216-219, 223-227, 242-247, 260, 261, 279, 292, 298, 306, 318, 371-378,
  property rights of, 374-378;
  publications for, 385-391;
  purity of, 216-219;
  the new woman in old surroundings, 392-397.

Women, old, appearance of, 119;
  examples of, 124, 126-129, 467-469;
  in Japanese pictures, 132.

Written language, proposed reforms in, 430.

Yamato Daké, 215.

Yasaku, 324;
  marriage and divorce of, 69-73.

Yasé, 243, 244.

Yashiki, a daimiō's mansion and grounds, 169, 171, 173, 311, 313.

Yedo. _See_ Tōkyō.

Yōshi, an adopted son, 104.

Yoshiwara, a district in Tōkyō given over to disreputable houses, 409.

Zodiac, Chinese signs of the, 331.

Zori, a straw sandal, 13.

[Transcriber's Note:

Except where index entries and the body of the text did not match,
irregularities in hyphenation (e.g. kwankoba and kwan-ko-ba), italics,
and spellings (e.g. vendors and venders) have not been changed. Except
where noted below, inconsistent accents (e.g. jōroya vs. jōrōya) have
been retained.

The following corrections and changes were made:

p. 120: marumage to marumagé (The _marumagé_, the style of headdress of
married ladies)

p. 175: daimios' to daimiōs' (and daimiōs' houses)

p. 351: kakemonos to kakémonos (the kakémonos and curios)

p. 383: Meiji to Méiji (thirty-fourth year of Méiji)

p. 427: miyage to miyagé (the _o miyagé_ to be purchased)

p. 428: shirozaké to shirōzaké (The _shirōzaké_ (white _saké_))

p. 429: accents added to Shōguns, Shōgun's, and Shōgunate

p. 437: oufit to outfit (But this outfit)

p. 440: heimin to héimin (_héimin_, or plebeian)

p. 473: Bé-bé to Bé bé (Index entry)

p. 475: Index entry for "Girlhood, 17-34." added (Index entry
"Childhood. _See_ Girlhood." originally pointed to non-existent entry)

p. 475: Iyemitsŭ to Iyémitsŭ (Index entry)

p. 475: Iyeyasŭ to Iyéyasŭ (Index entry)

p. 476: fireproof to fire-proof (Index: Kura, a fire-proof storehouse)

p. 476: Jo to Jō (Index: O Jō Sama, young lady)

p. 477: Onouyé to Onoyé (Index entry)

p. 478: folk-lore to folklore (Index: Tengu, a monster in Japanese

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