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Title: The Empire of the East
Author: Montgomery, H. B. (Helen Barrett), 1861-1934
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Empire of the East" ***

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                    THE
            EMPIRE OF THE EAST

                    BY

             H. B. MONTGOMERY


  "THIS NATION IS THE DELIGHT OF MY SOUL"
                         ST. FRANCIS XAVIER


        WITH NINETEEN ILLUSTRATIONS

               METHUEN & CO.
           36 ESSEX STREET W.C.
                  LONDON



_First Published in 1908._



  [Illustration: A STAR OF THE EAST
      FROM A PRINT BY TOSHIKATA]



PREFACE


On my return from another visit to Japan a few months ago I found
those persons in this country with whom I was brought into close
association extremely curious and strangely ignorant regarding that
ancient Empire. Despite the multitude of books which have of late
years been published about Japan and things Japanese a correct
knowledge of the country and the people is, so far as I can judge,
altogether lacking in England. Indeed the multiplicity of books may
have something to do with that fact, as many of them have been written
by persons whose knowledge, acquired in the course of a flying visit,
was, to say the least, perfunctory, and who had no opportunities for
viewing the life of the people from within and forming a sound
judgment on many matters upon which the writers have dogmatically
pronounced. I, accordingly, came to the conclusion not only that there
was room for one more book on Japan, but that another book was greatly
needed--a book not technical, historical, abstruse or recondite, but a
book describing in simple language Japan as it was, is, and will be.
This is the task I set before myself when I commenced to write this
volume, and the reader must be the judge to what extent I have been
successful in the accomplishment thereof. I have touched but lightly
on the material development of the country of recent years. I know
from experience that though statistics are the fad of a few they are
caviare to the great mass of the public. Nor have I dealt at all with
politics or political parties in new Japan. It is, I think,
unfortunate that the Japanese people, in adopting or adapting English
institutions, should have introduced the political party system so
much in evidence in Great Britain and other European countries.
Whether that system works well in the West, where it has been in
existence for centuries and is not always taken over-seriously by
party politicians themselves, is a question upon which I shall express
no opinion. But I think it is problematical whether such a system is
well adapted for an Oriental people, possessed of and permeated by an
ancient civilisation--a people whose feelings, sentiments, modes of
thought, prejudices and passions are so essentially different from
those of Western nations. Be that as it may, Japanese politics find no
place in this work.

The morality or otherwise of the Japanese is a matter which has been
much discussed and written about. The views of speakers and writers in
regard thereto, so far as I have been able to ascertain them, have
been largely affected by their prejudices or the particular standpoint
from which they have regarded the matter. The result, in my opinion,
has been that an entirely erroneous conception of the whole subject of
Japanese morality has not only been formed but has been set forth in
speech or writing, and a grave injustice has been done to the Japanese
in this matter, to say nothing of the entirely false view of the
whole question which has been promulgated. In this book I have
endeavoured to deal with this thorny subject, so far as it can be
dealt with in a book, free from prejudice or preconceived ideas of any
kind. I have simply confined myself to facts, and have endeavoured to
represent the whole matter as it appears to the Japanese and to
morality according to the Japanese standard.

I have deemed it necessary to deal at some length with the various
phases of Japanese art, which it is no exaggeration to say has
permeated the whole nation so that the Japanese may truthfully be
termed the most artistic people in the world. Of course it is
impossible to deal exhaustively in a work of this kind with Japanese
art. I have, however, endeavoured to describe the principal art
industries of the country and to set forth what I may term the
catholicity of art in Japan. I have also dealt with the question how
far art has been affected by the Europeanising of the nation which has
taken place of recent years, and the effect thereof.

The religion of the Japanese, the Constitution, the home life of the
people, the Army and Navy, the financial position of the country are
all subjects treated as fully as possible, inasmuch as they are
matters essential to be understood in order to realise the Japan of
to-day. The Japan of the future I have attempted to forecast in two
final chapters.

But the Japan of to-day and the Japan of the future can neither be
understood nor realised unless the reader have in his mind some idea
as to the Japan of the past--not the barbaric or uncivilised Japan
brought into contact with civilisation and suddenly discarding its
barbarism, which is, I fear, the conception many persons still have,
but, as I have sought to show, a highly civilised country holding
itself aloof from European influences and excluding, so long as
possible, the European invasion of its shores just because it had
convinced itself by painful experience that European ideas and manners
and methods were undesirable and unsuitable for a great island nation
which possessed and cherished a civilisation of its own, had high
artistic ideas and ideals, had its own code of morals, its own
conception of chivalry, and was, on the whole, undoubtedly happy,
contented, and prosperous. I trust the chapter I have written on this
subject will tend to dispel many erroneous ideas.

The book is the result of my own investigations, and the opinions
expressed therein are entirely my own. I have, however, read nearly
every work on Japan that has appeared in recent years, and when the
views put forward in any of these have not coincided with my own I
have endeavoured, by impartial investigation and inquiry, to arrive at
a correct conclusion in the matter. No doubt some of my views and
opinions will be questioned and criticised, but I claim to have
written this book with a mind free from prejudices of any kind. I have
sought to depict Japan as it really is, not the Japan seen through
glasses of various colours, of which, I think, the public has had
enough.

                                                    H. B. M.



CONTENTS


                                                                  PAGE
         PREFACE                                                     v

  CHAPTER
      I. A GLIMPSE AT THE PAST                                       1

     II. THE COUNTRY: ITS PHYSICAL
           FEATURES--PRODUCTS--FAUNA--FLORA, ETC.                   17

    III. THE JAPANESE RACE AND ITS LANGUAGE                         29

     IV. THE RELIGIONS OF JAPAN, THEIR INFLUENCES
           AND EFFECTS                                              39

      V. THE CONSTITUTION--THE CROWN AND THE HOUSES
           OF PARLIAMENT                                            49

     VI. THE PEOPLE, THEIR LIFE AND HABITS                          63

    VII. TRADE, COMMERCE, AND INDUSTRIES                            80

   VIII. JAPAN'S FINANCIAL BURDENS AND RESOURCES                    90

     IX. EDUCATION                                                 102

      X. THE JAPANESE ARMY AND NAVY                                117

     XI. JAPANESE ART--INTRODUCTORY--LACQUER AND
           PORCELAIN                                               131

    XII. JAPANESE ART--SCULPTURE--METAL WORK--PAINTING             149

   XIII. JAPANESE ARCHITECTURE                                     167

    XIV. POSTAL AND OTHER MEANS OF COMMUNICATION                   176

     XV. LAW AND ORDER                                             185

    XVI. LITERATURE AND THE DRAMA                                  193

   XVII. NEWSPAPERS IN JAPAN                                       202

  XVIII. JAPANESE MORALITY                                         211

    XIX. JAPAN AND CHINA                                           221

     XX. EUROPEANS IN JAPAN                                        231

    XXI. A VISIT TO SOME BUDDHIST TEMPLES                          244

   XXII. THE AINOS                                                 250

  XXIII. JAPAN AS IT IS TO-DAY                                     258

   XXIV. THE FUTURE OF JAPAN--PHYSICAL--MORAL--MENTAL              276

    XXV. THE FUTURE OF JAPAN--NATIONAL--POLITICAL--ITS
           INFLUENCE ON THE WORLD                                  288



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


  A STAR OF THE EAST                                    _Frontispiece_
    From a Print by Toshikata

                                                           FACING PAGE
  THE SWEET SCENT OF THE CHERRY BLOSSOM                             30
    From a Print by Hiroshige

  A CHERRY BLOSSOM PARTY                                            48
    From a Print by Hiroshige

  STREET SCENE ON NEW YEAR'S DAY                                    72
    From a Print by Hiroshige

  RICE PLANTING, PROVINCE OF HOKI                                   89
    From a Print by Hiroshige

  AMATEUR CONCHOLOGISTS                                            110
    From a Print by Hiroshige

  VIEW OF FUSI-YAMA FROM A TEA HOUSE                               138
    From a Print by Hiroshige

  KUTANI EARTHENWARE, DECORATED WITH POLYCHROME            }
  ENAMELS. EARLY EIGHTEENTH CENTURY                        }       146
                                                           }
  INCENSE-BURNER, AWATA FAYENCE. EIGHTEENTH CENTURY        }
    From "The Arts of Japan," by Edward Dillon

  BRONZE INCENSE-BURNER AND SMALL FLOWER-VASE. EIGHTEENTH
  CENTURY                                                          154
    From "The Arts of Japan," by Edward Dillon

  KAKEMONO ON PAPER. ATTRIBUTED TO MATAHEI                 }
                                                           }
  KAKEMONO ON PAPER. ATTRIBUTED TO SHIMMAN, UKIYO          }       160
  SCHOOL. EIGHTEENTH CENTURY                               }
    From "The Arts of Japan," by Edward Dillon

  TEA HOUSE, NEAR TOKIO                                            170
    From a Print by Hiroshige

  ÆRIAL TRANSPORT: BASKET SLUNG ON ROPES, PROVINCE OF HIDA         182
    From a Print by Hiroshige

  A LABOUR OF LOVE                                                 198
    From a Print by Toshikata

  THE ETERNAL FEMININE                                             218
    From a Print by Toshikata

  A MINISTERING ANGEL                                              242
    From a Print by Toshikata

  FIREWORKS IN TOKIO (SUMMER)                                      264
    From a Print by Hiroshige

  A SIGN OF THE TIMES                                              278



THE EMPIRE OF THE EAST



CHAPTER I

A GLIMPSE AT THE PAST


I have seen it stated in a popular handbook that Japan possesses a
written history extending over two thousand five hundred years, while
its sovereigns have formed an unbroken dynasty since 660 B.C., but
that the "authentic history begins about 400 A.D." "Authentic history"
is, I consider, not a very apt phrase in this connection. Most
Japanese history is legendary, and authenticity in history, Japanese
or European, even much later than 400 A.D., is hopeless to look for. I
have no intention of leading my readers into, as I should find a
difficulty in extricating them from, the mazes of Japanese history at
any date. I simply propose to give them a glimpse of Japan as it has
appeared to Europeans since it was first "discovered" by three
storm-tossed Portuguese sailors about the year 1542. I say
"discovered" with full knowledge of the fact that Marco Paolo, as
early as 1275, dictated to a friend when imprisoned at Genoa that
stirring narrative, "Maravigliose Cose," which, by the way, was not
printed for nearly two centuries later. That narrative was read by
and, it is stated, so fired the imagination of Christopher Columbus as
to lead him to set out on that voyage of exploration which ended in
the discovery of America. Marco Paolo's narrative must, however, be
received with caution. I regard it as largely legendary. He never
himself visited Japan, and his glowing description of the "Isles
washed by stormy seas and abounding in gold and pearls" was founded on
what he had been told by the Chinese he had met during his Eastern
travels.

The commencement of European intercourse with Japan may, as I have
said, be taken to be 1542, when three Portuguese adventurers in a
Chinese junk were driven by stress of weather on a part of the
Japanese coast under the authority of the Prince of Bungo. The
Portuguese were kindly received by the natives, and a treaty or
arrangement seems to have been entered into whereby a Portuguese
vessel was to be annually despatched to Japan laden with "woollen
cloths, furs, silks, taffetas," and other articles. Some years later a
Japanese noble, Hansiro by name, murdered another Japanese and fled
the country. He found his way to Goa, where he came under the
influence of some Portuguese priests, and was eventually converted to
Christianity and baptized. He was, if the records of his career are
correct, desirous to bring to his fellow-countrymen not only the
knowledge of the Christian religion but many articles of European
commerce. The great Apostle of the East and disciple of Ignatius
Loyola, St. Francis Xavier, had then recently arrived in Goa, where he
appears to have taken up with ardour the project of converting Japan.
Both enterprises, the material and the spiritual, seem to have been
organised about the same time. A ship was loaded with articles likely
to be in demand in Japan, and Francis Xavier embarked in another
vessel, with the Japanese refugee and a number of Jesuit priests as
missionaries.

The vessels in due course arrived at Bungo, and both priests and
traders were cordially, not to say enthusiastically, received.
Foreigners were evidently not then excluded from Japan, and no
objection whatever was made to the Christian propaganda in any part of
the country. The efforts of the Jesuit missionaries were crowned with
remarkable success. All ranks and classes, from priest to peasant,
embraced the Catholic faith. Churches, schools, convents, and
monasteries sprang up all over the country. The only opposition came
from the Bonzes, or native priests, who felt their influence and power
declining. They appealed to the Emperor to banish the Roman Catholic
priests, but the imperial edict simply was, "Leave the strangers in
peace." For forty years or thereabouts Catholicism not only flourished
but was triumphant. Indeed, a Japanese mission of three princes was
despatched to Pope Gregory XIII. laden with valuable presents. The
arrival of this mission was acclaimed as a veritable triumph
throughout Catholic Europe. By a stroke of irony its advent there was
almost contemporaneous with not only the overthrow but the almost
total extinction of Christianity in Japan. The edict for the
banishment of the missionaries was published in 1587. It was followed
by persecutions, martyrdoms, and the rasing of all the Christian
churches and buildings--the destruction, in a word, of Christianity in
Japan. This was in due course followed by not only the expulsion of
all foreigners from the country--with the exception of the Dutch, who
were allowed to have a factory at Nagasaki--but the enactment of a
law, rigidly observed for two and a half centuries, that no Japanese
should leave his country on any pretence whatever, and no foreigner be
permitted to land therein. Prior to this edict the Japanese had been
enterprising sailors and had extended their voyages to many distant
lands. What, it might be asked, was the reason of or occasion for this
violent change in the attitude of the Japanese to Christianity and the
presence of Europeans in their midst? It is impossible, at this length
of time, to arrive at a correct answer to this question, largely mixed
up as it has been with the _odium theologicum_. We have been told that
the result was greatly or altogether due to the pride, arrogance, and
avarice of the Roman Catholic priests; to the pretensions of the Pope,
which came to be regarded with suspicion by the feudatory princes of
Japan, as also to the cupidity and cunning of the traders. How far any
or all of these alleged causes were responsible for the change in
Japanese opinion I shall not venture to pronounce. Suffice it to
remark that, whatever the cause, there must have been some powerful,
impelling influence at work to induce the nation not only to cast out
the stranger within its gates, but to exclude him for two and a half
centuries, and veto any inhabitant of Japan leaving its shores and
thus being brought into contact with, and stand the chance of being
contaminated by, the foreigner. We may regret the destruction of
Christianity in Japan, but at the same time we may, I think, accept
the fact that the uprising of Japan against the foreigner at the close
of the sixteenth century was simply the result of the gorge which had
arisen in the nation against the foreigner's manners, methods, and
morals, his trampling underfoot of national prejudices and ideas, his
cupidity, his avarice, his cruelty, his attempt to impose on Japanese
civilisation a veneer which it did not desire and deemed it was much
better without. It must be remembered that the missionaries and the
traders had a common nationality, and that the Japan of the sixteenth
century did not find it possible to differentiate between them.

Down to the nineteenth century we have to rely for our knowledge of
Japan and the Japanese on the narratives of the few travellers who
managed to visit that country more or less by stealth, or from the
information derived from Europeans serving in the Dutch factory at
Nagasaki. Every Englishman has heard of Will Adams and his Japanese
wife, but though his career was romantic and interesting it has added
but little to our knowledge of Japan at the time of his visit thereto.
In 1727 Dr. Kaemfer's work on Japan was published. Kaemfer had been
physician to the Dutch factory at Nagasaki, and, accordingly, had some
opportunities of studying Japanese life and character. His book in the
original form is rare, but I am glad to say that a cheap edition, a
reprint of the English edition produced by the Royal Society in 1727,
has recently been published in this country. Kaemfer's work is spoiled
and its utility or reliability largely impaired by the fanciful
theories put forward by the author respecting the origin of the
Japanese. Much of his information is, of course, mere hearsay, and a
great deal of it, by the light of what we now know, is not only
misleading but nonsensical. A considerable amount of space is devoted
by Kaemfer to chimerical animals, and he dilates upon the awful
sanctity that surrounds the person of the Emperor. "There is," he
remarks, "such a Holiness ascribed to all the parts of his Body that
he dares not cut off neither his hair, nor his beard, nor his nails.
However, lest he should grow too dirty, they may clean him in the
night when he is asleep; because they say that what is taken from his
Body at that time had been stolen from him, and that such a theft does
not prejudice his Holiness or Dignity." In a notice of this new
edition of Kaemfer's work I have seen it asserted that the book is the
foundation of nearly all that was known or written of Japan till the
last twenty-five years. How such a statement as this came to be
published I quite fail to comprehend. There was plenty of literature
in reference to Japan far more reliable than Kaemfer's whimsical
"yarns" at a much earlier period than twenty-five years back. Sir
Rutherford Alcock's "The Capital of the Tycoon" was, I think,
published in 1863. Sir Rutherford was the first resident British
Minister in Japan, and his book remains a stirring and, making
allowance for the author's prejudices on various matters, on the whole
a vivid picture of Japan as it was in the early sixties. Alcock's book
was followed by many others, and twenty-five years ago the world was
so far from being dependent on Kaemfer for its knowledge of Japan
that, as I have said, it had even then quite a library of recent and
reliable books in regard to that country.

Following Kaemfer, a little later in the eighteenth century, a Swedish
physician, Thunberg by name, who also had been attached to the Dutch
factory at Nagasaki, wrote a book undoubtedly interesting and of great
value. That country, he remarks, is "in many respects a singular
country, and with regard to customs and institutions totally different
from Europe, or, I had almost said, from any other part of the world.
Of all the nations that inhabit the three largest parts of the globe,
the Japanese deserve to rank the first, and to be compared with the
Europeans; and although in many points they must yield the palm to
the latter, yet in various other respects they may with great justice
be preferred to them. Here, indeed, as well as in other countries, are
found both useful and pernicious establishments, both rational and
absurd institutions; yet still we must admire the steadiness which
constitutes the national character, the immutability which reigns in
the administration of their laws and in the exercise of their public
functions, the unwearied assiduity of this nation to do and to promote
what is useful, and a hundred other things of a similar nature. That
so numerous a people as this should love so ardently and so
universally (without even a single exception to the contrary) their
native country, their Government, and each other--that the whole
country should be, as it were, enclosed, so that no native can get
out, nor foreigner enter in, without permission--that their laws
should have remained unaltered for several thousand years--and that
justice should be administered without partiality or respect of
persons--that the Governments can neither become despotic nor evade
the laws in order to grant pardons or do other acts of mercy--that the
monarch and all his subjects should be clad alike in a particular
national dress--that no fashions should be adopted from abroad, nor
new ones invented at home--that no foreign war should have been waged
for centuries past--that a great variety of religious sects should
live in peace and harmony together--that hunger and want should be
almost unknown, or at least known but seldom,--all this must appear
improbable, and to many as impossible as it is strictly true, and
deserving of the utmost attention." He goes on to say, "If the laws in
this country are rigid, the police are equally vigilant, while
discipline and good order are scrupulously observed. The happy
consequences of this are extremely visible and important, for hardly
any country exhibits fewer instances of vice. And as no respect
whatever is paid to persons, and at the same time the laws preserve
their pristine and original purity, without any alterations,
explanations, and misconstructions, the subjects not only imbibe, as
they grow up, an infallible knowledge of what ought or ought not to be
done, but are likewise enlightened by the example and irreproachable
conduct of their superiors in age.

"Most crimes are punished with death--a sentence which is inflicted
with less regard to the magnitude of the crime than to the audacity of
the attempt to transgress the hallowed laws of the empire, and to
violate justice, which together with religion they consider as the
most sacred things in the whole land. Fines and pecuniary mulcts they
regard as equally repugnant to justice and reason, as the rich are
thereby freed from all punishment--a procedure which to them appears
the height of absurdity.

"In the towns it often happens that the inhabitants of a whole street
are made to suffer for the malpractice of a single individual, the
master of a house for the faults of his domestics, and parents for
those of their children, in proportion to the share they may have had
in the transaction. In Europe, which boasts a purer religion and a
more enlightened philosophy, we very rarely see those punished who
have debauched and seduced others, never see parents and relatives
made to suffer for neglecting the education of their children and
kindred, at the same time that these heathens see the justice and
propriety of such punishment." Dealing with agriculture, the Swedish
physician remarked: "Agriculture is in the highest esteem with the
Japanese, insomuch that (the most barren and untractable mountains
excepted) one sees here the surface of the earth cultivated all over
the country, and most of the mountains and hills up to their very
tops. Neither rewards nor encouragements are necessary in a country
where the tillers of the ground are considered as the most useful
class of citizens and where they do not groan under various
oppressions, which in other countries have hindered, and ever must
hinder, the progress of agriculture. The duties paid by the farmer of
his corn in kind are indeed very heavy, but in other respects he
cultivates his land with greater freedom than the lord of a manor in
Sweden. He is not hindered two days together at a time, in consequence
of furnishing relays of horses, by which he perhaps earns a groat and
often returns with the loss of his horses; he is not dragged from his
field and plough to transport a prisoner or a deserter to the next
castle; nor are his time and property wasted in making roads, building
bridges, almshouses, parsonage-houses, and magazines. He knows nothing
of the impediments and inconveniences which attend the maintenance and
equipments of horses and foot soldiers. And what contributes still
more to his happiness, and leaves sufficient scope for his industry in
cultivating his land is this--that he has only one master, viz., his
feudal lord, without being under the commands of a host of masters, as
with us. No parcelling out of the land forbids him to improve to the
least advantage the portion he possesses, and no right of commonage,
belonging to many, prevents each from deriving profit from his share.
All are bound to cultivate their land, and if a husbandman cannot
annually cultivate a certain portion of his fields he forfeits them,
and another who can is at liberty to cultivate them. Meadows are not
to be met with in the whole country; on the contrary, every spot of
ground is made use of either for corn-fields or else for plantations
of esculent-rooted vegetables: so that the land is neither wasted
upon extensive meadows for the support of cattle and saddle-horses,
nor upon large and unprofitable plantations of tobacco; nor is it sown
with seed for any other still less necessary purpose; which is the
reason that the whole country is very thickly inhabited and populous,
and can without difficulty give maintenance to all its innumerable
inhabitants."

Let us now take a step, a long step, forward in time from the Swedish
physician relating his impressions in the seventeenth century, to an
American in the eighteenth century delivering his opinions on Japan
and the Japanese as viewed from the American standpoint at that
period. "The sitter is the same, and, what is more, he sits on his
heels to-day just as his grandfather did to Thunberg, yet it is hard
to see any points of resemblance--a lesson to all theologians and
politicians who still indulge the dreams that uniformity of opinion on
the plainest matters of fact and observation can ever be attained
among men, however honest and conscientious they may be in their
efforts after unity. The Chinese proverb with more wisdom declares,
'Truth is one, but opinions are many.'

"All officials serve in pairs, as spies upon each other, and this
pervades the entire polity of Japan. It is a government of espionage.
Everybody is watched. No man knows who are the secret spies around
him, even though he may be and is acquainted with those that are
official. The emperors themselves are not exempt; governors, grand
councillors, vassal princes, all are under the eye of an everlasting
unknown police. This wretched system is even extended to the humblest
of the citizens. Every town is divided into collections of five
families, and every member of such a division is personally
responsible for the conduct of the others; everything which occurs,
therefore, out of the ordinary course in any one of these is instantly
reported by the other four to save themselves from censure. The
Ziogoon (Tycoon) has his minions about the Mikado and the Grand
Council have theirs about the Ziogoon. And the cowardice engendered by
such ceaseless distrust necessarily leads to cruelty in penalties.
When an official has offended, or even when in his department there
has been any violation of law, although beyond his power of
prevention, so sure is he of the punishment of death, that he
anticipates it by ripping up his own body rather than be delivered
over to the executioner and entailing disgrace and ruin on all his
family. There cannot under such a system be anything like judicious
legislation founded on enquiry and adapted to the ever-varying
circumstances of life. As Government functionaries they lie and
practise artifice to save themselves from condemnation by the higher
powers: it is their vocation. As private gentlemen they are frank,
truthful, and hospitable."

Taking a further step and coming down to the year 1877, I have before
me, as I write, the private letter of a naval officer of an
impressionable age visiting Japan for the first time and giving his
opinions thereof, at a period when Japan was just beginning to feel
really at work the distinct influences of Western civilisation--the
beginning, in fact, of the extraordinary metamorphosis which has been
witnessed of recent years. He remarks: "Probably to the traveller
seeking the marvellous and desiring the beautiful, there is no more
interesting country to pay a visit to than Japan. In something under a
decade that country astonished, and, at first, rather amused the
civilised world by emerging from the acme of barbarism to the
extremes of civilisation. It was but a very few years ago that a
foreigner could not land in the country unless accompanied by a
Government escort. But now that is all changed. The foreigner is
welcomed, his habits and religion are not alone tolerated but
respected; his dress is copied to an extreme that indeed proves
imitation to be the sincerest flattery, and but for the olive
complexion, flat nose and dark hair, a Japanese gentleman of the
period is very little different from his English contemporary. There
is a tendency I find among a good many persons, whose ideas on the
subject of race and geography are slightly mixed, to confound the
Japanese with the Chinese, and to imagine that the two names indicate
no greater difference than at present exist between an Englishman and
an Irishman. The fact, however, is that a greater difference exists
among these two nationalities than can be either imagined or
described, and, considering their contiguity, it is indeed surprising
that they have scarcely a habit or a pursuit in common. The mind of
the modern Japanese is progressive and acquisitive. The mind of the
Chinaman of the nineteenth century, as far as he allows it to be seen,
is as torpid and retrogressive as his ancestors of the Confucian
period.

"Up to the year 1868 Japan was governed jointly by a Tycoon and a
Mikado together with a council of the Daimios, or great feudal
princes, in whose hands all real power rested. The spiritual sovereign
was the Mikado, nominally the chief ruler, the Tycoon being considered
his first subject. All enactments required his sanction. The office of
the Tycoon was hereditary and he gradually absorbed all the powers of
the State. In 1868 a revolution occurred which culminated in the
overthrow of the spiritual head and the seating of the Tycoon on the
throne as an hereditary prince with the title of Mikado. There is now
no such person as a Tycoon in Japan. The insurrection of 1868 also saw
the downfall of the Daimios or feudal princes of Japan. These princes
had each standing armies of their own, and administered justice in
their own territories. Their retainers were the famous two-sworded men
so long a terror to Europeans, and who strongly objected to any
intercourse with foreigners, probably foreseeing its inevitable
result. In 1868 the whole of these ferocious men were disarmed, and a
standing army modelled on the French fashion established for the
defence of the Empire. The Japanese Navy was organised about the same
time by an English officer, and at first consisted of a few obsolete
American and English men-of-war. That, however, is now a thing of the
past, the Japanese Government having during the past few years spent
many millions in purchasing modern ironclads and other vessels of the
most approved type, and the Japanese Navy bids fair before long to
become a power in the Far East.

"Concerning the oft-debated question of Japanese morality I can say
little. Their ideas on the subject are, to put it mildly, somewhat
lax, and would no doubt shock any one strongly imbued with morality as
it is in vogue (theoretically) in European countries. That there is
not that privacy between the sexes which prevails in other countries
may be indicated by the fact that men and women make their ablutions
together in the public wash-houses. Nevertheless the Japanese have a
code of morality peculiar to themselves, and any infidelity on the
part of a woman to her husband is punished with severity.

"The great drawback to the prosperity of Japan is a matter that
prevails in some more ancient civilised lands, viz., an enormous issue
of paper-money. Young Japan, finding it easy to print notes to pay
its obligations, printed them to the extent of twenty millions
sterling in all sizes from 5 cents to 100 dollars. The consequence is
that this paper-money has depreciated in value to the extent of 15 per
cent. The Government, however, have seen their mistake, and are
gradually calling it in, and have established a very fine mint with a
gold and silver coinage. Insurrections have also been a drag on Japan
in its progress. The Prince of Satsuma, one of the most powerful of
the ancient Daimios, has never acknowledged the present system of
government and has periodically rebelled against it. This year a
serious rebellion broke out at Kagoshima, and was not quelled without
great loss of life and a heavy expenditure. His followers behaved with
great fanaticism, many of them loading themselves with gunpowder
rushing into the midst of the enemy and setting fire to the powder,
killing themselves by so doing, but also, to the admiration of their
less ardent comrades, killing numbers of the enemy.

"Against no ancient custom has the Japanese Government more set its
face than tattooing. Any persons in Japan now either allowing
themselves to be tattooed or performing the operation on any one else
are liable to imprisonment. Blacking the teeth, a custom prevalent
among the women on being married, is rapidly dying out, being
discouraged by the authorities."

The glimpses of Japan shown us by Thunberg and the American I have
quoted prove clearly enough, even were it not amplified by a host of
other testimony I have not space to refer to, that the Japan of the
sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth, and early part of the nineteenth
centuries was a highly civilised country in which law and order
reigned supreme, where respect for authority was marked, the standard
of comfort, if not high, was at any rate sufficient, the domestic
relations and family life were almost ideal, clean living was the
custom, crime was at a minimum, education was universal, amusements
were plentiful, the artistic feeling and instincts were not the cult
of a class but were shared by the common people. This was the nation,
self-contained and self-satisfied, that some persons, like the young
naval officer from whom I have quoted, gravely affirm to have been
steeped in barbarism until it came under Western influences and went
in for frock-coats and silk hats for the men, Paris costumes for the
women, and an Army and Navy on European lines. If these be the factors
which constitute civilisation I admit that Japan has only recently
been civilised. Being of opinion, however, that civilisation does not
consist in costumery, but is a refining and educating influence, I
prefer to regard Japan as a country of more ancient civilisation than
Great Britain, which has of recent years determined to tack on to that
civilisation some Western manners and customs and facilities. Many of
Japan's greatest thinkers, a few Western philosophers who can look
beyond a costume, the telegraph or the telephone, are strongly of
opinion that in the process of modern development Japan has not
improved either morally or materially, and that, regarded through the
dry light of philosophy, her pretensions to be considered a highly
civilised nation were greater half a century back than they are at the
present moment. Upon that matter my readers must form their own
opinion. It is a question, the answer to which largely depends upon
the point of view from which it is regarded and the factors taken into
or left out of account.

In the first year of the Meiji (1868) the Emperor, in an edict, laid
down clearly and concisely the lines on which he and his advisers had
determined that Japan should for the future be governed. "The old
uncivilised way shall be replaced by the eternal principles of the
universe." "The best knowledge shall be sought throughout the world so
as to promote the imperial welfare." "The eternal principles of the
universe" is a resonant phrase needing interpretation. The rulers of
Japan to-day, if they were interrogated on the subject, would probably
reply that the record of Japan for over thirty-eight years past is the
practical interpretation of the Emperor's cryptic utterance. Be that
as it may, the ink was hardly dry on the Imperial edict before Japan
laid herself out with earnestness, not to say enthusiasm, to carry
into effect the principles enunciated in the edict. The whole country
was quickly in a positive ferment of energy. The brightest intellects
among its youth were despatched to foreign lands to acquire knowledge
and wisdom to be applied at home in due course, education was taken in
hand, so also was the reorganisation of the Army and Navy, and
railways, telegraphs, and various other accessories of European
civilisation were introduced into the country. Japan, in a word,
became quickly transformed and, being unable any longer to keep the
foreigner out, she determined to utilise him and in the future fight
him, should fighting be necessary, with his own weapons, intellectual
rather than material, but not omitting the material. Thirty-eight
years and more have elapsed since the issue of the Imperial edict
referred to, and this book is designed to show what results have
flowed therefrom, along what lines the development of Japan has
proceeded, and what are the position and prospects of that country
to-day.



CHAPTER II

THE COUNTRY--ITS PHYSICAL FEATURES--PRODUCTS--FAUNA--FLORA, ETC.


The Empire of Japan (a corruption of Nippon, the native name) is
composed of four large islands--Honshiu, Shikoku, Kiushiu, and Yesso,
besides some thousands of smaller isles. The Kurile Isles, north of
Yesso, and in the neighbourhood of Kamschatka, have been incorporated
in the Empire since 1875, and the Loo-Choo Islands, some 500 miles
south-west of Japan's southern extremity, since 1876. The great island
of Formosa, situated off the coast of China, was ceded to Japan as the
outcome of the Chino-Japanese War in 1895, while as the result of the
recent conflict with Russia, Japan has obtained back the southern half
of the large island of Sakhalin, which formerly entirely belonged to
her, as well as Port Arthur and Dalny on the mainland, not to speak of
the preponderating influence she has obtained in Korea, which is now
practically under the suzerainty of Japan. The population of the
Empire according to the last census was about forty-seven millions,
and, like that of Great Britain, it is annually increasing. The
proximity of Japan to the Asiatic Continent, despite the lessons in
geography which the late war afforded, is not, I think, generally
understood. The nearest point of the Japanese coast is only 100 miles
distant from Korea, while between the two lies the important island of
Tsu-shima, which Japan found so useful as a strategic position during
the war with Russia. The island of Sakhalin, the southern portion of
which, as I have said, has lately passed into the possession of Japan,
is about 20 miles distant from the northern part of Yesso, while at
some places the island is only separated from the Russian mainland by
5 or 6 miles of water. The distance between Hakodate, in Yesso, and
the great Russian port of Vladivostock is somewhere about 200 miles.
This contiguity of Japan to the Asiatic Continent has already had a
marked effect on the politics of the world, and in the future, if I
mistake not, is likely to be a preponderating factor therein. The area
of Japan is about half as large again as that of the United Kingdom.
The southern extremity of the country is in latitude 31° N., the
northern in latitude 45½° N.

The Japanese islands are undoubtedly of volcanic origin, and many of
the volcanoes in the country are still more or less active. The
general conformation of the land leads one to suppose that the islands
are the summits of mountain ranges which some thousands of years back
had their bases submerged by the rising of the sea or else had by
degrees settled down beneath the surface of the ocean. The general
characteristic of the country is mountainous, and only about one-sixth
of the total area is in cultivation. Fuji-yama, the loftiest mountain,
for which the Japanese have a peculiar veneration and which has been
immortalised in the art of the country, has an altitude of 12,730
feet. The next in height, Mount Mitake, ascends some 9,000 feet, and
there are many others of 5,000 feet or more. Japan has from time to
time been ravaged by, and indeed still is subject to, terrible
earthquakes. These dire calamities seem to recur at regular intervals.
The Japanese islands appear to be in the centre of great volcanic
disturbances--a fact which probably accounts for those seismic
outbreaks which periodically devastate considerable tracts of the
country and cause tremendous havoc to life and property. The written
records, extending back some 1,400 or 1,500 years, clearly prove that
earthquakes even more terrible in their effects than any that have
taken place in recent times were of frequent occurrence. It is, of
course, possible that these records may be inaccurate or have been
largely exaggerated, but they at any rate tend to show that those
great cosmic forces which are popularly termed earthquakes have been
constantly at work in Japan ever since any written records have been
preserved and no doubt long anterior to that time.

As the islands are narrow and mountainous there are no great rivers
and none available for important navigation. None of the rivers exceed
200 miles in length. Although Japan is situated much further south
than Great Britain, its northern extremity being in about the same
latitude as Cornwall, its climate is, on the whole, not unlike that of
this country. Of course the climate of such a mountainous country and
one extending over 14 degrees of latitude varies considerably. That of
the island of Yesso, for example, is in winter rigorous to a degree, a
fact in some measure caused by a cold current which flows down its
eastern shores from the Sea of Okohotsk. Professor Rein, who has given
great attention to the matter of the Japanese climate, has remarked in
reference thereto: "The climate of Japan reflects the characteristics
of that of the neighbouring continent, and exhibits like that two
great annual contrasts--a hot, damp summer and a cold relatively dry
winter; these two seasons lie under the sway of the monsoons, but the
neighbouring seas weaken the effects of these winds and mitigate their
extremes in such a manner that neither the summer heat nor the cold of
winter attain the same height in Japan as in China at the same
latitudes. Spring and autumn are extremely agreeable seasons; the
oppressive summer heat does not last long, and in winter the contrast
between the nightly frosts and the midday heat, produced by
considerable insulation but still more by the raw northerly winds,
causes frequent chills, though the prevailing bright sky makes the
season of the year much more endurable than in many other regions
where the winter cold is equal. As a fact the climate of Japan agrees
very well with most Europeans, so that people have already begun to
look upon certain localities as climatic watering-places where the
inhabitant of Hong Kong and Shanghai can find refuge from the
oppressive heat of summer and invigorate his health."

The mean annual temperature of Tokio is about 56°. The lowest
temperature is in January or February, when the thermometer seldom
falls below 25°, the highest in August, when it sometimes rises to 95°
or 100° in the shade, the average being 82°. The Japanese suffer a
good deal from the effects of the wintry weather, bronchial, chest,
and rheumatic affections being prevalent. The dwellings of the people,
somewhat flimsy in construction as they are, are not well adapted to
withstand the effects of a low temperature. On the whole the people
must be pronounced to be extremely healthy--a fact probably due to
their scrupulous cleanliness, to the excellent ventilation of their
houses, and, as regards those living in the towns, to the wide and
well-kept streets where nothing offensive is allowed to remain. The
country has, however, from time to time been subject to epidemics
introduced from without, cholera and the plague having more than once
carried death throughout the length and breadth of the land.

Those circular storms known as cyclones in the Indian Ocean and
typhoons in further Eastern seas have from time to time wrought great
devastation in Japan. Fortunately these revolving storms are of brief
duration, and in the neighbourhood of Japan they do not so frequently
occur as in the China Sea.

Japan is well provided with good harbours, that of Nagasaki in
especial being one of the finest in the world. Sheltered completely by
lofty and beautiful hills, with deep water throughout, it is an ideal
anchorage. Until recently foreign trade was confined to the treaty
ports; but as the country has now been completely thrown open, there
is no doubt that the many fine harbours which Japan possesses, and
which so far have hardly been utilised at all, will in due course
become the centres of great commercial activity. The Inland Sea--the
beautiful Mediterranean of Japan--abounds with excellent anchorages,
most of which have hitherto been only entered by an occasional junk.

Regarding the mineral wealth of the country, it is impossible to speak
with any precision. It was not until after the Revolution of 1868 that
the mining industry assumed importance in Japan. At first the
Government itself owned several mines, but these were not financially
successful, and they were after a time disposed of to private owners.
The old mining regulations have recently been superseded by a new
mining law. In accordance with this the Minister of Agriculture and
Commerce is the official who permits, approves, cancels, or suspends
the right of mining, whether permanently or on trial. I may, however,
at once remark that the Japanese Government has not up to the present
held out much encouragement to the speculative prospector. Gold is
believed to exist in considerable quantities in Yesso, and as a matter
of fact, although the amount mined is still small, it is annually
increasing. Coal is abundant in various parts of the country and the
mines are extensively worked. In 1903 there were over ten million tons
of coal produced, and the quantity is at the present time assuredly
very much greater. The coal is not of such a good quality as either
Welsh or North Country, but there is a large and growing demand for it
in the East, and coal is undoubtedly a highly important part of
Japan's latent wealth. Copper, a metal which is in increasing demand,
exists in Japan in enormous quantities, and she promises at no very
far-distant date to be the chief copper-producing country of the
world. Iron and sulphur are also found, and there are many other
minerals, some of which are more or less worked. The Japanese Mining
Law, it may be interesting to relate, recognises the following
minerals and mineral ores, which may accordingly be taken as existing
in the country: Gold, silver, copper, lead, tin, hematite, antimony,
quicksilver, zinc, iron, manganese and arsenic, plumbago, coal,
kerosene, sulphur, bismuth, phosphorus, peat.

Whatever the mineral wealth of Japan--and the extent and variety
thereof are probably yet not fully realised--there can be no question
as to the value of its arboreal products. The lacquer-tree (_rhus
vernicifera_), which furnishes the well-known Japanese lacquer, the
paper mulberry, the elm, oak, maple, bamboo, camphor, and many other
descriptions of trees, grow in abundance. The forests of Japan cover
nearly 60 per cent. of the land. For some years after the Revolution
there was a reduction in the wooded area, nearly four million acres
having been cleared for occupation. Of late years, however, forestry
has been scientifically taken in hand, and about one and a half
million acres have been replanted in districts which have not been
found suitable for farming. The climate of Japan varies so greatly
that there is a corresponding variety in its trees. About eight
hundred kinds of forest trees are suitable for cultivation in Japan,
varying from the palm and the bamboo to the fir and many other trees
with which we are familiar in this country.

The Japanese are above all things an agricultural people. The tobacco
plant, the tea shrub, potatoes, rice, wheat, barley, millet, cotton,
rape, and many cereals other than those I have mentioned are
extensively cultivated. The great mass of the people of Japan live on
the land, and though I think the tendency, as in Great Britain, is for
the large towns to magnetically draw the dwellers in the country,
nevertheless agriculture is still held in high esteem, and the peasant
is content to dwell on the land and live by it. Rice is the staple
food of the people, and it is grown everywhere; indeed the yearly
harvest of it affects the Japanese economy quite as much as, if not
even more than, the wheat crop does that of Europe. The Japanese
peasant is almost as dependent on rice as the Irish peasant used to be
on potatoes. The water, so necessary for irrigating the land, is
supplied by the streams and rivulets which are plentiful in the
country. The Japanese agriculturist has long been famous for the
admirable manner in which he keeps and tills his farm. The fields are
clean as regards weeds, and order and neatness are perceptible
everywhere. The labour is almost entirely manual, and men, women, and
children all take part in the work.

Fruit is abundant in Japan, but it is for the most part of an
inferior quality. Grapes, apples, pears, plums, peaches, chestnuts,
persimmons, oranges, figs, lemons, citrons, melons, and wild
strawberries are all grown, but except as regards the grapes I cannot
speak in laudatory terms of Japanese fruit. The flowers of many fruit
trees seem more appreciated than the fruit itself.

The floral kingdom is rich, beautiful and varied. Probably in no other
part of the world are flowers so greatly appreciated as in Japan. They
enter largely into various popular festivals. The Japanese, as most
people know, excel in the art of gardening and the dwarfing of trees
and shrubs. The flower vendor is a familiar sight, and there is never
any lack of buyers. The poorest householder will do without anything
almost rather than deprive himself of flowers. These enter largely
into the religious services of the people, and are also extensively
placed on the graves of the departed. Flowers, indeed, play an
important part in the lives of the Japanese. Japan has long been
famous for the great number of its evergreens. A large number of the
plants growing wild are of this class, so that even in winter the land
has not the bare appearance characteristic of European countries at
that time of the year. Coniferous plants are abundant, many of them
being peculiar to Japan.

The coasts abound with fish of an excellent quality, and this, with
rice, forms the staple diet of the people. Tea is, as I have said,
largely cultivated, and indeed may be regarded as the national
beverage. It has been cultivated in the country for over two thousand
years. It is an article of faith in Japan that tea strengthens the
body. It is drunk everywhere and at all times, without either milk or
sugar--the true way, I think, in which to appreciate its flavour. The
tea-house in Japan occupies the same position as the public-house in
this country, but it has many advantages over the latter. In the towns
and some other parts of Japan, saké--a spirit distilled from rice--is
drunk, and when the Japanese has to any extent been Europeanised or
brought into contact with Europeans, he affects a taste for European
varieties of alcohol. On the whole, however, the people are distinctly
a sober race.

The principal towns are Tokio, the capital, with a population of about
one and half millions, Osaka, having a population nearly as great,
Kyoto, the ancient capital, Nagoya, Kobé, Yokohama, and Nagasaki.
Yokohama may be regarded as the European headquarters; indeed it is
largely a European town, while Nagasaki has more than any other been
under European influences, the Dutch having, as I have already stated,
had a factory there, in the suburb of Decima, continuously ever since
the expulsion of foreigners from the country in the sixteenth century.

Railway communication in Japan is a subject upon which much might be
written. For many years there was only one line in the country--that
between Yokohama and Tokio, about 22 miles in length. At the present
time there are some 4,500 miles of railway open, and extensions are
either in progress or in contemplation. Of the lines now being worked,
about one-third are the property of the Government, the rest having
been constructed by private enterprise. This dual system of ownership
has its disadvantages, and it will doubtless not be permitted to last.
Railway construction has already had a considerable effect on the
opening up of the country, and as the construction is extended the
development of Japan will doubtless proceed in an increasing ratio.

The scenery of Japan has provided a theme for so many pens that I do
not feel inclined to do more than refer to it in passing. Much of the
scenery is sublime but, truth to tell, its beauty, or perhaps it would
be more correct to say the effect thereof on the sightseer, has been
somewhat marred of recent years by the influx of those persons
colloquially known as "globe trotters," the railway extensions to
which I have referred, and the erection of large hotels run on
European lines. Nikko, the incomparable, with its glorious scenery and
its still more glorious temples, the meandering Daynogawa, the
beauteous Lake Chiuzenji, on which a quarter of a century or so ago a
European provided with a passport and having his headquarters at a
neighbouring tea-house might gaze at his leisure, and meditate in a
glorious silence broken only by the sound of the ripples of the water
or the cry of the birds from the neighbouring woods, all are now
vulgarised. The personally conducted tourist is there and very much in
evidence. He wanders carelessly, often contemptuously, through the
ancient temples, regarding temples, scenery, river, lakes, merely as
"something to be done." The change was, I suppose, inevitable, but the
change is one that I think is in some respects to be regretted. The
tourist brings money and spends it freely, and the country no doubt
reaps the advantage thereof, but the effect on the Japanese brought
into contact with the European under such conditions is not, in my
opinion, always, or often, beneficial.

I have not much to remark in regard to the fauna of Japan. The
domestic animals are comparatively few. The fact of the inhabitants
not eating animal food has led to their paying little or no attention
to the breeding of those animals which are largely in request in
foreign countries. Horses, however, are fairly plentiful, though
small. Japan, as I have elsewhere remarked, has been handicapped in
the organisation of her cavalry by the lack of a proper supply of
suitable horses, and she has recently despatched a commission to
Europe to effect purchases with a view of putting this matter right,
and improving the breed of horses in the county. Oxen and cows were
till recently entirely, and are still largely, used for purposes of
draught only. Sheep and pigs have been introduced from abroad, but
they have not been generally distributed, and in many parts of Japan
have never been seen.

The wild animals of Japan are neither numerous nor important. The
black bear and the wolf still exist, chiefly in the Northern Island,
but it is certain that at no far-distant date they will, unless
artificially preserved, go the way of all wild animals in civilised
countries. The red-faced monkey is there, the only kind found in
Japan, and snakes exist, but they are for the most part harmless. The
art of the country will have familiarised Europeans with the presence
of the crane and the stork, which play such a prominent part therein.
Indeed the wild birds of the country are more numerous than the
animals. I am not aware whether geological research in Japan has been
sufficiently extensive or systematic to ascertain whether, and if so
what, any species of animals have ever existed there other than those
at present found in the country. It certainly is in some respects
extraordinary that a country so close to the Asiatic Continent and
possessing such a variety of climates should, as regards the animal
kingdom from the standpoint of the zoologist, be put down as
distinctly poor. The fact, or supposed fact, to which I have
previously referred, that the Japanese islands are the summits of
mountain ranges which many thousand years ago had their bases
submerged by the rising of the sea or had gradually settled down
beneath the surface of the ocean, may, of course, account for the
poverty of Japan in regard to the animals therein. I must leave other
pens than mine to descant on that interesting if highly speculative
matter. Be that as it may, if the fauna of Japan is poor, the country
certainly makes up for it by the variety and magnificence of its
flora--a flora which deserves to be studied, and which has done so
much to brighten not only the appearance of the country but the lives
of its inhabitants.



CHAPTER III

THE JAPANESE RACE AND ITS LANGUAGE


There are, I have always thought, two ways in which any race should be
considered if it is desired to form a correct idea in regard to it,
viz., from an ethnological and philological standpoint. No race
deserves to be closer studied in these matters than the Japanese.
Indeed, I am of opinion that it is impossible to arrive at any clear
or correct opinion concerning it without having, however slightly,
investigated its racial descent and the language which, among Eastern
dialects, has so long been as great a puzzle to the philologist as has
Basque among the European languages. Respecting the origin of the
Japanese we know practically nothing--at any rate nothing authentic.
The native legends and histories afford us neither guide nor clue in
the matter. These legends and histories tell us that the Japanese are
descended from the gods, but I am quite certain that the modern
Japanese receives that fact (?) with something more than the
proverbial grain of salt. According to the old legend Ninigi-no-Nikoto
was a god despatched by his grandmother the Sun-goddess to take
possession of Japan, and the land was peopled by him and his
entourage. This god-man, it is stated, lived over 300,000 years; his
son, Hohoderni, attained to twice that period of longevity, while a
grandchild, Ugaya by name, reached the respectable old age of 836,042
years. Ugaya was, it is stated, the father of Jimmu, the first
Emperor. It is not necessary to seriously notice fables or legends or
poetic imagery, or whatever these tales may be deemed to be, although
I may remark that the divine descent of the sovereign of Japan has, so
far as I know, never been formally repudiated, and it is still
explicitly, if not implicitly, held.

Dr. Kaemfer, whose great work I have already referred to, propounded
therein the somewhat fanciful theory that the Japanese are really the
direct descendants of the ancient Babylonians, and that their language
"is one of those which Sacred Writ mentions the all-wise Providence
thought fit to infuse into the minds of the vain builders of the
Babylonian Tower." According to his theory, which to me seems
absolutely ludicrous, the Japanese came through Persia, then along the
shores of the Caspian Sea and by the bank of the Oxus to its source.
From there, he suggests, they crossed China, descended the Amoor,
proceeded southwards to Korea, and found their way across the
intervening sea to the Japanese islands. Another theory, which has
found many supporters, is that the Japanese are descended from the
Ainos, the hairy race still to be found in the island of Yesso. An
advocate of this view seeks to bolster up his faith by the evidences
of an aboriginal race still to be found in the relics of the Stone Age
in Japan. "Flint arrows and spear-heads," he remarks, "hammers,
chisels, scrapers, kitchen refuse, and various other trophies are
frequently excavated, or may be found in the museum or in homes of
private persons. Though covered with the soil for centuries, they seem
as though freshly brought from an Aino hut in Yesso. In scores of
striking instances the very peculiar ideas, customs, and superstitions
of both Japanese and Aino are the same, or but slightly modified."

  [Illustration: THE SWEET SCENT OF THE CHERRY BLOSSOM
      FROM A PRINT BY HIROSHIGE]

This seems to me to be no evidence at all. Flint arrows, spear-heads,
hammers, and so on are to be found in every part of the world. Mankind
all over the globe seems to have evolved its civilisation, or what
passes for it, in very much the same way, viz., by process of
experiment. Another authority has asserted that the short, round
skull, the oblique eyes, the prominent cheek-bones, the dark, black
hair, and the scanty beard all proclaim the Manchus and Koreans as the
nearest congeners of the Japanese. This authority considers it
positive that the latter are a Tungusic race, and that their own
traditions and the whole course of their history are incompatible with
any other conclusion than that Korea is the route by which the
immigrant tribes made their entry into Kiushiu from their original
Manchurian home. While accepting this theory with some reservations, I
may remark that I altogether fail to see what the "whole course" of
Japanese history has to do with the matter. Japanese history, as I
have previously observed, is almost altogether legendary, and proves
nothing except the credulity of those who have accepted it as
statements of fact. Ethnology, I admit, is a most interesting field
for speculation. It is one in which the mind can positively run riot
and the imagination revel. The wildest theories have been put forward
in regard to many of the world's races, and philological arguments of
the thinnest possible kind have been used to bolster them up. For
example, one very able writer on this matter has broached a theory
respecting the origin of the Japanese, and supported it by what seems
to be very plausible evidence. He assumes, on what grounds I know
not, that there was a white race earlier in the field of history than
the Aryans, and that the seat of this white race was in High Africa.
That it was from Africa that migrations were made to North, Central,
and South America, as well as to Egypt, and subsequently to Babylonia
and, apparently, to India. In due course, according to this authority,
Syria and Babylonia were conquered by the Semites, while the Aryans
became masters of Europe, Asia Minor, and India. The suggestion is
that the conquerors of the Japanese islands and the founders of the
Japanese language and mythology were of the Turano-African type. That
these invaders intermarried with a mixed short race, and that the new
dominating Japanese race maintained and propagated their dialect of
the language and their sect of the religion, and displaced the pure
natives. The same authority suggests that when the Pacific route to
America was closed by the weakness of the Turano Africans and the
rising of cannibals and other savages (where did they rise from?) the
Japanese were isolated on the east. On their west the Turano-African
dynasties in China and Korea fell, and were replaced by natives, the
same series of events taking place as in Egypt, Peru, Mexico, &c. The
principal evidence in support of this somewhat startling theory is the
similarity between the words in use in Japanese and in certain African
languages. But if evidence of that nature is to be accepted in proof
of somewhat improbable theories, it will be possible to prove almost
anything in regard to the origin of races. I utterly reject all these
far-fetched theories. Any unprejudiced man looking at the Japanese,
the Chinaman, and the Korean will have no doubt whatever in his own
mind as to their racial affinity. Differences there most certainly
are, just as there are between the Frenchman and the Englishman, or
even the Englishman and the Scotchman, but what I may term the
pronounced characteristics are the same--the colour of the skin, the
oblique eyes, the dark hair, and the contour of the skull. These
people, whatever the present difference in their mental, moral, and
physical characteristics, have quite evidently all come from the same
stock. They are, in a word, Mongolians, and any attempt to prove that
one particular portion of this stock is Turano-African, or something
else equally absurd from an ethnological point of view, seems to me to
be positively childish. There was probably originally a mixture of
races, Malay as well as others, which has had its effect on the
peculiar temperament of the Japanese as he is to-day compared with the
Chinaman.

Of course language cannot be left out of account in the question of
the racial origin of any people, and the Japanese language has, as I
have said, long been a puzzle for the philologist. In the early times
we are told the Japanese had no written language. The language in use
before the opening up of communications with Korea and China stood
alone. Indeed there is only one language outside Japan which has any
affinity therewith, that is the language of the inhabitants of the
Loo-Choo Islands. Philologists have excluded the language from the
Aryan and Semitic tongues, and included it in the Turanian group. It
is said to possess all the characteristics of the Turanian family
being agglutinated, that is to say, maintaining its roots in their
integrity without formative prefixes, poor in conjunctions, and
copious in the use of participles. It is uncertain when alphabetical
characters were introduced into Japan, but it is believed to have
happened when intercourse with Korea was first opened about the
commencement of the Christian Era. The warrior Empress, Jungu-kogo,
is said to have carried away from Korea as many books as possible
after the successful invasion of that country. In the third century
the son of the Emperor Ojin learned to read Chinese works, and
henceforward the Chinese language and literature seem to have been
introduced into Japan. A great impetus was given to the spread of
Chinese literature by the introduction of Buddhism and Buddhist
writings in the sixth century, and the effect thereof is now apparent
in the number of Chinese words in the Japanese language. The question
as to the origin of the earliest written characters employed in Japan
is one that has produced, and probably will continue to produce, much
controversy. These are known as Shinji letters of the God Age, but
they have left no traces in the existing alphabet. There is a
remarkable difference between the written and spoken dialects of
Japan. The grammars of the two are entirely different, and it is
possible to speak the language colloquially and yet not be able to
read a newspaper, book, or letter; while, on the other hand, it is
possible to know the written language thoroughly, and yet be unable to
carry on a conversation with a Japanese. The spoken language, as a
matter of fact, is not difficult except in regard to the complicated
construction of the words. The difficulty is in reference to the
written language. There are really three modes or systems of writing:
the first consists of the use of the Chinese characters, the second
and third of two different alphabets. Although the Japanese have
adopted the Chinese characters and learned to attach to them the same
meaning as obtains in China, the construction of sentences is
sometimes so totally different that it is difficult for a Chinaman to
read a book written by a Japanese in the Chinese characters, while
the Japanese cannot read Chinese books unless he has specially studied
Chinese. It is evident from what I have said that it is difficult to
obtain a complete knowledge of the written language of Japan in its
Chinese form. There is a certain school of thought in Japan which is
enthusiastic for the replacement of the present complicated system by
the introduction of a Roman alphabet, but I feel bound to say that
this school has not made much progress, and it is not likely to be
successful. Although the present system has its disadvantages, it has
its advantages likewise. The written characters are those common to
about 450 millions of the world's people, and I think that the use of
the Chinese characters in Japan will be a factor of considerable
importance in the future history of the world, because I am convinced
that Japan is destined to exercise a preponderating influence in and
over China, and that the exercise of that influence will be greatly
facilitated by the written characters which both nations have in
common.

I may at once candidly confess that I have no theory to broach in
respect of the origin of the Japanese people or the language that they
speak. In such matters theorising appears to me to be a pure waste of
time. One has only to look round the world as it is to-day, or for the
matter of that within the confines of one's own country, to see how
rapidly the people living for long periods in a certain part of the
country develop distinct characteristics not only in physiognomy but
in dialect. It is only the existence of the printing press which has,
so to speak, stereotyped the languages of nations and prevented
variations becoming fixed, variations and dialects which in days prior
to the existence of printing presses were evolved into distinct
languages. Take the British Isles for example, any part of them,
Yorkshire, Scotland, Ireland, London, and note the difference between
the spoken language of certain classes and the language as printed in
newspapers and books. Given a nation isolated, or comparatively
isolated, for many hundreds of years, it is difficult to say to what
extent its language might be evolved or in what degree the few chance
visitors thereto may introduce words which are readily adapted to or
adopted in the language and influence it for all time. Take, for
example, a word which any visitor to China or Japan must have heard
over and over again, viz., "Joss," as applied to God. This is, as most
people know, simply a corruption of the Portuguese name for the deity.
I hope some philologist a few thousand years hence who may trace that
word to its original source will not adduce therefrom that either the
Chinese or the Japanese sprang from a Latin race.

The most ancient Japanese writings date from the eighth century. These
are Japanese written in Chinese characters, but the Chinese written
language as also its literature and the teachings of the great Chinese
philosopher, Confucius, are believed to have been introduced several
hundreds of years previously. This contact with and importation from
China undoubtedly had a marked effect in inducing what I may term
atrophy in the development of the Japanese language as also the growth
of its own literature, that is a literature entirely devoid of Chinese
influences. Indeed it is impossible to speculate on what might have
been the development of Japan and in what direction that development
would have proceeded had she never come under the influence of the
Chinese language, literature, religion, and artistic principles.

I have not the slightest doubt myself, as I have said before, that the
Japanese are of the same stock as the Chinese and Koreans. I have no
theory in regard to the origin of the Ainos, who are most likely the
aboriginal inhabitants. They are quite evidently a distinct race from
the Japanese proper, although of course there has been some
interbreeding between them.

The language of Japan naturally suggests some reference to its
literature, of which there is no lack, either ancient or modern. I
have dealt with this matter in some detail in a subsequent chapter.
The old literature of Japan is but little known to Europeans, and
probably most Europeans would be incapable of appreciating or
understanding it. It abounds in verbal artifices, and the whole habits
of life and modes of thought and conception of things, material and
spiritual, of the Japanese of those days were so totally different to
those of the European as to render it almost unintelligible to the
latter. There are, however, scholars who have waded through this
literature as also through the poetry of Japan and have found great
delight therein. In the process of translating an Oriental language,
full of depths of subtlety of thought and expressing Oriental ideas in
an Oriental manner, much, if not most, of its beauty and charm must be
lost. That is, I think, why the Japanese prose and poetry when
translated into English seem so bald and lifeless. We know by
experience that even a European language loses in the process of
translation which is, except in very rare instances, a purely
mechanical art. How much more so must be the case in regard to an
Oriental language with its depths of hyperbole and replete with
imagery, idealism, and flowery illustrations.

I have referred to the literature of modern Japan, the ephemeral
literature, in a chapter on its newspaper press. The modern
literature, whether ephemeral or otherwise, is distinctly not on
Oriental lines. The influence of the West permeates it. Distinctive
Japanese literature is, I imagine, a thing of the past, and I fear it
will be less and less studied as time goes on. Young Japan is a
"hustler," to use a modern word, and it has no time and mayhap not
much inclination for what it perhaps regards as somewhat effete
matter. It thinks hurriedly and acts rapidly, and it, accordingly,
aspires to express its thoughts and ideas through a medium which shall
do so concisely and effectively.

Whatever the origin of the Japanese race or the Japanese language,
whether the former came from the plains of Babylon, the heights of
Africa, or from some part of the American Continent, or was evolved on
the spot, one thing is certain--that the Japanese race and the
Japanese language have been indelibly stamped on the world's history.
The ethnologist may still puzzle himself as to the origin of these
forty-seven millions of people and feel annoyed because he cannot
classify them to his own satisfaction. The philologist may feel an
equal or even a greater puzzle in reference to their language. These
are merely speculative matters which may interest or amuse the man who
has the time for such pursuits, but they are, after all, of no great
practical importance. The future of a race is of more concern than its
past, and, whatever the origin of a language may have been, if that
language serves in the processes of development to give expression to
noble thoughts, whether in prose or poetry, to voice the wisdom of the
people, to preach the gospel of human brotherhood, it matters little
how it was evolved or whence it came. It is because I believe that the
Japanese race and the Japanese language have a great future before
them in the directions I have indicated that I have dealt but lightly,
I hope none of my readers will think contemptuously, with the theories
that have been put forward in reference to the origin of both.



CHAPTER IV

THE RELIGIONS OF JAPAN, THEIR INFLUENCES AND EFFECTS


Most persons in this country if they were asked what was the religion
of the Japanese people would probably answer Buddhism. As a matter of
fact, though Buddhism was introduced into Japan from Korea as far back
as 552 A.D., it is not and never has been the preponderating religion
in Japan. At the same time I quite admit that it has had a marked
effect on the religious life of the people, and that it again has been
influenced by the ancient Shinto (literally, "The way of the gods")
belief of the Japanese people. This belief, a compound of mythology
and ancestral worship, was about the first century largely encrusted
by Confucian doctrines or maxims, mostly ethical, imported from China.
Of the precise doctrines of Shintoism but little is even now known. It
has apparently no dogmas and no sacred book. I am aware that there are
the ancient Shinto rituals, called Nurito, and that in reference to
them a vast amount of more or less erudite commentary has been
written. The result, however, has not been very enlightening. I think
that Kaemfer succinctly summed up the Shinto faith in reference to the
Japanese people when he remarked, "The more immediate end which they
propose to themselves is a state of happiness in this world." In
other words, if this assertion be correct, Shintoism preaches
utilitarianism. As to the origin of this religion there is very much
the same uncertainty and quite as large an amount of theorising as is
the case in reference to the Japanese race and language. The most
generally received opinion is that Shintoism is closely allied with,
if not an offshoot of, the old religion of the Chinese people prior to
the days of Confucius. Originally Shinto was in all probability a
natural religion, but, like all religious systems, it has developed or
suffered from accretions until the ancient belief is lost in
obscurity. The author of a now somewhat out-of-date book, entitled
"Progress of Japan," asserts that the religion of the Japanese
consists in a "belief that the productive ethereal spirit being
expanded through the whole universe, every part is in some degree
impregnated with it and therefore every part is in some measure the
seat of the Deity; whence local gods and goddesses are everywhere
worshipped and consequently multiplied without end. Like the ancient
Romans and Greeks they acknowledge a supreme being, the first, the
supreme, the intellectual, by which men have been reclaimed from
rudeness and barbarism to elegance and refinement, and been taught
through privileged men and women not only to live with more comfort
but to die with better hope." Such a religion, however it may be
described, seems to me to be in effect Pantheism.

When Buddhism was introduced into Japan the Buddhist priesthood seems
to have made no difficulty about receiving the native gods into their
Pantheon. Gradually the greater number of the Shinto temples were
served by Buddhist priests who introduced into them the elaborate
ornaments and ritual of Buddhism. The result was a kind of hybrid
religion, the line of demarcation between the ancient and the imported
faith not being very clearly defined. Hence perhaps the religious
tolerance of the Japanese for so many centuries, even to Christianity
when first introduced by St. Francis Xavier. About the beginning of
the eighteenth century there was something akin to a religious
reformation in Japan in the direction of the revival of pure
Shintoism. For a century and a half subsequently Shintoism held up its
head, and eventually, as the outcome of the Revolution of 1868, which
marked a turning-point in the history of Japan, Buddhism was
disestablished and disendowed and Shinto was installed as the State
religion. Simultaneously many thousand of Buddhist temples were
stripped of their magnificent and elaborate ornaments and handed over
to Shinto keeping; but the downfall of Buddhism was merely of a
temporary nature. Nevertheless Shinto is, ostensibly at any rate,
still the State religion. Certain temples are maintained from public
funds and certain official religious functions take place in Shinto
edifices.

Buddhism, acclimatised though it has been in Japan for thirteen
centuries, is still a foreign religion, but it has played, and to some
extent still plays, an important part in the life and history of the
nation, and it has, as I have said, materially influenced the ancient
faith of Japan and in turn been influenced by it. I have no intention
of describing, much less tracing, the history of Buddhism, whether in
Japan or elsewhere. It is a subject on which many writers have
descanted and in regard to which much might still be written. There is
no doubt whatever that Buddhism as it exists to-day, whether in
Ceylon, India, China, or Japan, is widely different from the religion
of its founder. Many of its original doctrines were purely symbolical
and poetical. These have been evolved into something they were
certainly never intended to mean. That the principles of the Buddhist
religion are essentially pure and moral no one who has any knowledge
of it can deny. It preaches above all things the suppression of self,
and it inculcates a tenderness and fondness for all forms of life.
According to Griffis, "Its commandments are the dictates of the most
refined morality. Besides the cardinal prohibitions against murder,
stealing, adultery, lying, drunkenness and unchastity, every shade of
vice, hypocrisy, anger, pride, suspicion, greediness, gossiping,
cruelty to animals is guarded against by special precepts. Among the
virtues recommended we find not only reverence of parents, care of
children, submission to authority, gratitude, moderation in times of
prosperity, submission in times of trial, equanimity at all times, but
virtues such as the duty of forgiving insults and not rewarding evil
with evil." This is a pretty exhaustive moral code, and though
Buddhism has often been taunted with the fact that its followers do
not practically carry out its precepts and live up to the level of its
high moral teaching, Buddhism is not, I would suggest, the only
religion against which such taunts can be levelled.

The history of Buddhism ever since its introduction into Japan has
been an eventful one. It has had its ups and its downs. It came into
the country under royal auspices, it has nearly always enjoyed the
royal favour, and I think its existence, during at any rate the first
few centuries it was in the country, has been due to that fact rather
than to any pronounced affection on the part of the mass of the people
for it. One Emperor, Shirakawa by name, is recorded to have erected
more than 50,000 pagodas and statues throughout the country in honour
of Buddha. Many of these works are still, after many centuries, in an
excellent state of preservation, and are of deep interest not only to
the antiquarian but to any student of the religious history of a
nation. The Buddhist priests, like the Jesuits in European countries,
during many centuries captured and controlled education in Japan and
showed themselves thoroughly progressive in their methods and the
knowledge they inculcated. Art and medicine were introduced under
their auspices and, whatever one may think of, or whatever criticism
may be passed on the religion itself, it is impossible, in my opinion,
to deny that Buddhism on the whole has had a vast and, I venture to
think, not an unhealthy influence on every phase of Japanese national
and domestic life. The strength and weakness of Buddhism have
undoubtedly lain in the fact that it possessed and possesses no
dogmatic creed. It concerned itself almost entirely with self-mastery,
self-suppression, the duty of doing good in this world without looking
forward to any reward for the same in the next. It preached
benevolence in the true meaning of that word in every shape and form.
It taught that benevolence was the highest aspiration of a noble
spirit. Benevolence was, indeed, the master virtue, the crown, the
coping stone, of all virtues. As the term is used in Buddhist
teaching, it may be regarded as the synonym of love and a close study
of the teaching of Buddhism on this subject must impress any thinking
man strongly with the idea that it was very much the teaching of
Christ in reference to the love of one's neighbour. Buddhism in Japan
at any rate has not been conservative; it has gone the way of most
religious systems, has been subject to development and has evolved
from time to time different sects, some of which have held and
preached dogmas which would, I think, have astounded, and I feel
certain would have been anathematised by, the founder of Buddhism. The
principal of the sects now existing in Japan are the Tendai, Shingon
Yoko and Ken, all of which, I may observe, are of Chinese origin.
Besides these there are the Shin and the Nichiren evolved in Japan and
dating from the thirteenth century. Respecting the metaphysics of
Buddhism and their effect on the Japanese people I cannot, I think, do
better than quote from that great authority on all things Japanese,
Mr. Basil Hall Chamberlain, whose writings have done so much, not only
to awaken an interest in Japan but to give correct ideas respecting
the life of the people. He remarks, in this connection, "The
complicated metaphysics of Buddhism have awakened no interest in the
Japanese nation. Another fact, curious but true, is that these people
have never been at the trouble to translate the Buddhist canon into
their own language. The priests use a Chinese version, the laity no
version at all nowadays, though to judge from the allusions scattered
up and down Japanese literature they would seem to have been more
given to searching the Scriptures a few hundred years ago. The
Buddhist religion was disestablished and disendowed during the years
1871-4--a step taken in consequence of the temporary ascendency of
Shinto. At the present time a faint struggle is being carried on by
the Buddhist priesthood against rivals in comparison with whom Shinto
is insignificant: we mean the two great streams of European
thought--Christianity and physical science. A few--a very few--men
trained in European methods fight for the Buddhist cause. They do so,
not as orthodox believers in any existing sect, but because they are
convinced that the philosophical contents of Buddhism in general are
supported by the doctrine of evolution, and that this religion needs
therefore only to be regenerated on modern lines in order to find
universal acceptance."

The "Reformation" of 1868 in Japan followed much the same course in
regard to religious matters as the Reformation in England. It laid
vandal hands on Buddhist temples and ornaments of priceless value. The
objective point of this religious Reformation was presumably very much
the same as that which occurred in this country, viz., a reversion to
simplicity in religion. The Shinto Temple which is invariably thatched
is a development of the ancient Japanese hut, whereas the Buddhist
Temple, which is of Indian origin, is tiled, and as regards its
internal fittings and ornamentation is elaborate in comparison with
the plain appearance of the Shinto edifice.

So far as the Japan of to-day is concerned these two religions may be
regarded as moribund, although their temples are still thronged by the
lower classes of the people. They exist because they are there, but
they have no vitality, no message for the people, and it is
questionable whether any of Japan's great thinkers or the educated
classes in the country, whichever religion they may nominally belong
to, have faith or belief in it. A man may have, or for sundry reasons
profess, a creed in Japan as in other countries without believing in
it. Custom and prejudices are as strong there as elsewhere, and it is
often easier to appear to acquiesce in a religion than to openly
reject it.

There are, I know, some optimistic persons who believe, or affect to
believe, that Christianity is in due course destined to replace the
ancient faiths in Japan. They point to what was effected by St.
Francis Xavier in the sixteenth century, and they imagine that the
Japan of the twentieth century is only waiting to finally unshackle
itself from Shintoism and Buddhism before arraying itself in the garb
of Christianity. Well, Christian missions have had a fair field in
Japan for many years past, and though many members of those missions
have been men of great piety, zeal, and learning, they have made
comparatively little headway among and have exercised extremely little
influence on the mass of the Japanese people. Indeed, the fair field
that all Christian missions without distinction have had, in my
opinion, accounts for the small amount of progress they have made.
Because all the leading Christian denominations are there--Roman
Catholicism, Church of England, Greek Church, Congregationalists,
Methodists, Baptists, Salvation Army, Society of Friends, and
others--all preaching and proclaiming their own particular dogmas and
all lumped together by the Japanese under the generic title of
Christians. The Japanese may, I think, be excused if he fails to
differentiate between them. He views and hears their differences in
dogma. He observes that there is no bond of union, and frequently
considerable jealousy among these numerous sects. Each claims to
preach the truth, and the Japanese concludes that as they cannot all
be right they may possibly all be wrong. It is only on this assumption
that it is possible to account for the little headway made by
Christianity in Japan in view of the labour and money devoted by
different religious bodies to its propagation for many years past.
There is, let me add, no marked hostility to Christianity in
Japan--only indifference. The educated Japanese of to-day is, I
believe, for the most part an agnostic, and he views Shintoism,
Buddhism, Christianity alike, except in so far as he regards the first
two as more or less national and the last as an exotic.

At the commencement of the seventeenth century the Japanese
Christians are stated to have amounted in numbers to one million. At
the present time it is doubtful if they total up to one hundred
thousand. And this despite the splendid religious organisations that
exist, the facilities that are given for the propagation of the
Christian faith, and the opportunities which were certainly not in
existence three hundred years ago. Into the causes of this comparative
failure of Christianity in Japan to-day as compared with its
marvellous progress in the sixteenth century, I do not propose to
enter. The enthusiasm of a Francis Xavier is not an everyday event,
and the Japanese of the sixteenth century was, mayhap, more impressed
by the missionaries of those days, arriving in flimsy and diminutive
vessels after undergoing the perils and hardships of long voyages,
having neither purse nor scrip nor wearing apparel except what they
stood up in, than he is by the modern missionary arriving as a
first-class passenger in a magnificent steamer and during his
residence in the country lacking none of the comforts or amenities of
life. Or it may be that the Japanese mind has advanced and developed
during the past three centuries, has now less hankering after
metaphysical subtleties, and fails to comprehend or to sympathise with
abstruse theological dogmas and doctrines. If Christianity appealed to
him as in the days of Francis Xavier as the one faith professed by the
Western world, it would probably impress him to a far greater extent
than it does at present when, as I have before said, he views
Christianity as a disorganised body composed of hundreds of sects each
rejecting, and many of them anathematising, what the others teach. He
considers there is no need for investigation until Christianity has
itself determined what is the precise truth that non-Christian
countries are to be asked to accept.

Regarding the influence of the Buddhist and Shinto religions during
the many centuries they have existed in the country on the lives of
the people, I propose to make a few remarks. Too often one hears or
reads of speakers and writers describing Japan as a country steeped in
paganism and addicted to pagan habits and customs with all (somewhat
indefinite this!) that they involve. To describe Buddhism as paganism
merely shows a lamentable amount of ignorance; nor should I be
inclined to include Shintoism in a term which, whatever its precise
meaning, is invariably intended to be opprobrious! After all, any
religion must be largely judged by its effects on the lives of its
adherents, and judged by that standard I do not think, as regards the
Japanese, either Buddhism or Shintoism ought to be sweepingly
condemned. If many of the customs and practices of both religions seem
silly or absurd; if either or both inculcate or lead to superstition,
it can at least be said of both that they teach a high moral code, and
that the average Japanese in his life, his family relations, his
philosophy, his patriotism, his bodily cleanliness, and in many other
respects, offers an example to other nations which deem themselves
more highly civilised, which possess a purer religion and too often,
with that lack of charity which is frequently the result of an excess
of ignorance, unsparingly condemn the Japanese as "pagans" or
"heathens."

  [Illustration: A CHERRY BLOSSOM PARTY
      FROM A PRINT BY HIROSHIGE]



CHAPTER V

THE CONSTITUTION--THE CROWN AND THE HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT


A Constitution, if we are to accept the dogmatic assertions of those
who have written with a show of learning on the subject, ought to be
evolved rather than established by any parliamentary or despotic act.
The history of the world certainly tends to prove that paper
Constitutions have not been over-successful in the past. There
assuredly has been no lack of them in the last century or so, and
although some, if not all, of them have been practically tried, a very
few have attained any considerable measure of success. The English
Constitution has long been held up to the rest of the world by writers
on Constitutional history as a model of what a Constitution ought to
be, for the somewhat paradoxical reason that it is nowhere clearly, if
indeed at all, defined. It is largely the outcome of custom and usage,
and it is claimed for it that on the whole it has worked better than
any cut-and-dried paper Constitution would have done.

Nevertheless there does not appear to be any good and valid reason why
a Constitution should not be as clearly defined as an Act of
Parliament. Undefined Constitutions have worked well at certain
periods when there was a tacit general consent as to their meaning,
but they have not always been able to withstand the strain of fierce
controversy and the coming into existence of factors which were
undreamt of when these Constitutions were originally evolved, and
definitions or additions or amendments thereto have, accordingly,
become necessary.

The promulgation of a Constitution for Japan in February, 1889, was an
event of great interest to the civilised world. There were, of course,
at the time a large number of persons who prophesied that this
Constitution would go the way of many others that had preceded
it--that it would, in fact, be found unworkable and, being so found,
Constitutional Government in Japan would eventuate, as it had
elsewhere, in the resumption of autocratic rule as the only
alternative to anarchy. It is pleasing to be able to record that these
prophecies have, after nearly eighteen years' experience, not been
fulfilled, and that the Japanese Constitution, well thought out and
devised as it was, seems not only likely to endure but is admirably
adapted to all the circumstances and needs of the country.

In order to fully comprehend the events that gradually led up to the
establishment of Constitutional government in Japan, and the precise
place of the Crown and aristocracy in that government, it is, I think,
essential to make a rapid review of past events in that country.

In ancient times the Mikado was both the civil ruler and the military
leader of his people. Under him there were exercising authority
throughout the land about 150 feudal lords. Feudalism of one kind or
another prevailed in Japan until 1868. Towards the end of the
sixteenth century the feudal principle was apparently on the decline.
In the year 1600, however, Tokagawa Iyoyasu, with an army composed of
the clans of the east and north defeated the combined forces of those
of the west and south at the battle of Sakigahara and proclaimed
himself Shogun. The feudal lords of the various clans throughout the
country then became his vassals and paid homage to him. The Tokagawa
family practically governed the country till the Revolution of 1868,
when the present Emperor took the reins of government into his own
hands and finally abolished feudalism and with it the authority of the
Daimios. Many persons even now believe that the Shogun, or Tycoon as
he was usually called in Europe, was a usurper. As a matter of fact he
received investiture from the Mikado, and his authority was, nominally
at any rate, a derived one. At the same time there is no doubt that
the real power of the State was in his hands while the _de jure_ ruler
lived in the capital in complete seclusion surrounded by all the
appanages and ceremonial of royalty.

Up to the year 1868 Japan was divided into numerous provinces governed
by Daimios, or territorial lords, each of whom maintained large
standing armies. They were all subject to the Shogun, while retaining
the right to rule their particular provinces in ordinary matters. In
1868 the Shogun fell, and there can be little doubt his fall was to
some extent brought about by the concessions which had been made to
foreign Powers in regard to the opening of the country to foreign
trade. In 1868 the Shogun repaired to Kyoto, the first time for 250
years, and paid homage to the Mikado. Feudalism was then, as I have
said, abolished, the Emperor took the reins of authority into his own
hands, formed a central Government at Tokio and reigned supreme as an
absolute monarch.

"The sacred throne was established at the time when the heavens and
earth became separated." This has long been an axiom of Japanese
belief, but it has been somewhat modified of late years, even the
assertion of it by the Sovereign himself. A leading Japanese statesman
who has written an article on the subject of the Emperor and his place
in the Constitution has asserted that he is "Heaven descended, sacred
and divine." I do not think that the modern Japanese entertains this
transcendental opinion nor, indeed, do I find that the Emperor himself
has of late years put forward any such pretensions. For example, in
the Imperial proclamation on the Constitution of the Empire on
February 11, 1889, the Emperor declared that he had "by virtue of the
glories of our ancestors ascended the Throne of a lineal succession
unbroken for _ages eternal_." Whereas in the Imperial Rescript
declaring war against China on August 1, 1894, he contented himself
with asserting that he was "seated on a Throne occupied by the same
dynasty from _time immemorial_." The italics are mine, and the
difference in the pretensions which I desire to emphasise is certainly
remarkable.

When granting a Constitution the Emperor, as has been and probably
will be the custom of all monarchs so acting, declared that the
legislative power belonged to him but that he intended to exercise it
with the consent of the Imperial Diet. The convocation of the Diet
belongs exclusively to the Emperor. It has no power to meet without
his authority, and if it did so meet its acts and its actions would be
null and void. In this respect the Diet is on precisely the same basis
as the English Parliament. According to the Constitution the Emperor,
when the Diet is not sitting, can issue Imperial ordinances which
shall have the effect of law so long as they do not contravene any
existing law. The article authorising these ordinances defines that
they shall only be promulgated in consequence of an urgent necessity
to maintain public safety or to avert public calamities, and all such
ordinances must be laid before the Diet at its next sitting, and in
the event of the same not being approved they become null and void.

To my mind, one of the most interesting portions of the Constitution
is that which lays down succinctly and tersely the rights and duties
of Japanese subjects. In this section there are contained within about
fifty lines the declaration of innumerable rights for which mankind in
various parts of the world during many hundreds of years fought and
bled and endured much suffering. Just let me mention a few of them. No
Japanese subject shall be arrested, detained, tried or punished unless
according to law. Except as provided by law the house of no Japanese
subject shall be entered or searched without his consent. Except in
the cases provided by law, the secrecy of the letters of every
Japanese subject shall remain inviolate. The right of property of
every Japanese subject shall remain inviolate. Japanese subjects shall
enjoy freedom of religious belief. Japanese subjects shall enjoy
liberty of speech, writing, publication, public meetings and
associations. Japanese subjects may present petitions. We have in
these few brief provisoes the sum total of everything that, in effect,
constitutes the liberty of the subject.

The Diet of Japan, like the Parliament of Great Britain, consists of
two Houses--a House of Peers and a House of Representatives. The House
of Peers is composed of (1) the members of the Imperial family, (2)
Princes and Marquises, (3) Counts, Viscounts and Barons who are
elected thereto by the members of their respective orders, (4) persons
who have been specially nominated by the Emperor on account of
meritorious service or by reason of their erudition, (5) persons who
have been elected, one member for each city and prefecture of the
Empire, by and from among the taxpayers of the highest amount of
direct national taxes on land, industry, or trade, and who had
subsequently received the approval of the Emperor. It will be seen
that the members of the Imperial family, the Princes and Marquises,
have an inalienable right to sit in the House of Peers, the latter
rank on attaining the age of 25 years. In regard to Counts, Viscounts,
and Barons there is no such right. Those ranks, like the Peers of
Scotland and Ireland, meet together and select one-fifth of their
number to represent them in the House of Peers for a term of seven
years. Any subject over thirty years of age nominated by the Emperor
for meritorious service or erudition remains a life member. Those
returned by the cities and prefectures remain members for a period of
seven years. It is provided by the Constitution that the number of
members of the House of Peers who are not nobles shall not exceed the
number of the members bearing a title of nobility.

The question of the necessity for the existence of a second chamber
and the composition thereof has been keenly debated in this and other
countries of recent years. It seems to me that in this matter Japan
has hit upon the happy mean. She has combined in her House of Peers
the aristocratic or hereditary element in a modified degree with the
principle of life membership by which she secures the services and
counsel of the great intellects of the land, and such as have done the
State good service in any capacity. At the same time she has not
excluded the representative element from her second chamber--a fact
which must largely obviate any possibility of the House of Peers
becoming a purely class body. A second chamber so constituted must
obviously serve an extremely useful purpose in preserving an
equilibrium between political parties, in preventing the rushing
through and passing into law of hastily considered measures. For the
composition of her second chamber, Japan has taken all human means
possible to obtain whatever is representative of the stability, the
intellect, the enterprise and the patriotism of the country.

The composition of the House of Representatives, which answers to our
House of Commons, is as interesting as that of the Upper Chamber. When
the Constitution was first promulgated the principle of small
electoral districts obtained, one member being elected for each
district. This system was found or believed to be faulty, and hence,
after some years' experience, large electoral districts combined with
a single vote have been instituted. It may be interesting to relate
that both systems, the large and the small districts, were drafted by
an Englishman, Mr. Thomas Hair. Cities whose population exceeds 30,000
are formed into separate electoral districts while a city with less
than 30,000 inhabitants is, with its suburbs, constituted a district.
The number of members allowed to each district depends on the
population. For a population of 130,000 or under one member is
allowed, and for every additional 65,000 persons above the former
number an additional member is allotted. The number of members in the
House of Representatives is 381, or little over half that of which our
House of Commons consists. The population of the two countries is
almost identical, and experience serves to show that the number of
Members of Parliament in Japan is sufficiently numerous for all
practical purposes and that any material addition thereto would be
more likely to impede than to accelerate the wheels of legislative
progress. Neither the Japanese Constitution nor the Electoral Law
makes any provision for the representation of minorities, that aim of
so many well-meaning persons in different countries. In Japan the
majority rules as everywhere, and minorities must submit.

Manhood suffrage is not yet a _fait accompli_ in Japan. Under the
present law to qualify a Japanese subject to exercise the franchise he
must pay 15 yen (about 30s.) or more, indirect taxation. Only a
Japanese subject can vote at elections. No foreigner has any electoral
rights, but if he becomes a naturalised Japanese subject he obtains
all the privileges appertaining to that position.

Each House of Parliament in Japan possesses a president and
vice-president, who are elected by the members. The president of each
House receives an annual allowance of 4,000 yen (about £400) and the
vice-president 2,000 yen (about £200). The payment of Members of
Parliament is in vogue in Japan. The elected and nominated, but not
the hereditary, members of the House of Peers, and each member of the
House of Representatives, receives an annual allowance of 800 yen
(about £80). They are also paid travelling expenses in accordance with
the regulations on the subject. It may be interesting to state that
there is a clause in the Constitution which enacts that the president,
vice-president, and members of the two Houses who are entitled to
annual allowances shall not be permitted to decline the same! It says
much for the estimate of patriotism entertained in Japan when the
Constitution was promulgated that such a clause as this should have
been considered necessary.

Debate in both the Japanese Houses of Parliament is free and the
proceedings public. There will be no occasion for the uprising of a
Wilkes in Japan to obtain permission to publish Parliamentary Debates.
The Constitution, however, contains a proviso for the sitting of
either House with closed doors upon the wish of the president or of
not less than ten members, the same being agreed to by the House, or
upon the demand of the Government with or without the consent of the
House. When in the former event a motion for a secret sitting is made,
strangers have to withdraw from the House and the motion is voted on
without debate. The proceedings of a secret meeting of either Chamber
are not allowed to be published.

The Japanese Constitution, which is certainly a document containing
not only provisions of an epoch-making nature but most elaborate
details in regard to even minor matters, includes in seven or eight
lines one or two excellent rules in regard to what is termed "The
Passing of the Budget." Under these rules, when the Budget is
introduced into the House of Representatives the Committee thereon
must finish the examination of it within fifteen days and report
thereon to the House, while no motion for any amendment in the Budget
can be made the subject of debate unless it is supported by at least
thirty members.

The Constitution of Japan, as I have remarked, contains a vast amount
of detail. The framers of that Constitution seem to have been endowed
with an abnormal amount of prevision. In fact they foresaw the
possibility of occurrences and made provision for those occurrences
that nations which are, or which consider themselves to be, more
highly civilised have not yet taken any adequate steps to deal with.
For example, Article 92 of the Constitution enacts that in neither
House of Parliament shall the use of coarse language or personalities
be allowed, while Article 93 declares that when any member has been
vilified or insulted either in the House or in a meeting of a
Committee he shall appeal to the House and demand that proper measures
shall be taken. There shall, it is decreed, be no retaliation among
members. The Constitution also contains several salutary regulations
in reference to the disciplinary punishment of members.

The establishment of a Parliament in Japan has produced parties and a
party system. I suppose that was inevitable. In every country there
is, and as human nature is constituted there always will be, two
parties representative of two phases of the human mind: the party in a
hurry to effect progress because it deems progress desirable, and the
party that desires to cling as long as possible to the ancient ways
because it knows them and has had experience of them and looks askance
at experiments--experiments for which that somewhat hackneyed phrase a
"leap in the dark" has long done service. I have no intention, as I
said in the Preface, of dealing at all with Japanese politics. There
is no doubt a good deal of heat, and the resultant friction, evoked in
connection with politics in Japan as elsewhere. Perhaps this young
nation--that is, young from a parliamentary point of view--takes
politics too seriously. Time will remedy that defect, if it be a
defect. At the same time, I may express the opinion that, however
severe party strife may be in Japan, and though the knocks given and
received in the course thereof are hard and some of the language not
only vigorous but violent, the members of all parties have at heart
and as their objective point the advancement of Japan and the good of
the country generally.

The Japanese Constitution, though not a very lengthy, is such an
all-embracing document that in a hurried survey of it, it is possible
to overlook many important features. It provides for the establishment
of a Privy Council to deliberate upon important matters of State, but
only when consulted by the Emperor. It enforces the responsibility of
the Ministers of State for all advice given to the Emperor and decrees
that all laws, Imperial ordinances and Imperial rescripts of any kind
relating to affairs of State, must be countersigned by a Minister of
State. The Constitution also defines the position, authority, and
independence of the judges. That Constitution contains a proviso
all-important in reference to the upright administration of the law, a
proviso which it took years of agitation to obtain in this country,
that no judge shall be deprived of his position unless by way of
criminal sentence or disciplinary punishment. All trials and judgments
of the court of law are to be conducted publicly. Provision is made,
when there exists any fear of a trial in open court being prejudicial
to peace and order or to the maintenance of public morality, for the
same to be held in camera. I may add, before I take leave of the
Constitution, with a view of showing how all-embracing as I have said
are the various matters dealt with therein, that it defines and
declares that the style of address for the Emperor and Empress shall
be His, Her, or Your Majesty, while that for the Imperial Princes and
Princesses shall be His, Her, Their, or Your Highness or Highnesses.

In regard to no matter connected with Japan have I found so large an
amount of misconception prevalent as in reference to the position of
the Emperor of that country. The divine descent which is still
sometimes claimed for the sovereigns of Japan and which has never, so
far as I know, been officially repudiated, has caused some persons to
regard the Emperor from a somewhat ludicrous standpoint. In this very
prosaic and materialistic age, when very few persons have profound
beliefs on any subject, the spectacle of one of the sovereigns of the
earth still claiming a divine origin is one that appeals to the
ludicrous susceptibilities of that vague entity "the man in the
street." It is not well, however, that people should criticise
statements in royal proclamations or in royal assertions too
seriously. Even in this country there are documents issued from time
to time bearing the royal sign manual which every one regards as
interesting but meaningless formalities--interesting because they are
a survival of mediæval documents which meant something some hundreds
of years ago and still remain though their meanings have long since
lapsed. And yet there are persons in this country who peruse such
documents and know that they are simply words signifying practically
nothing, who severely criticise the assertion of a long-used title by
the Japanese Emperor upon issuing a royal proclamation. I am not aware
whether his Imperial Majesty or his Ministers of State implicitly
accept his divine descent, but this I do know--that those persons who
regard the present Emperor of Japan as a State puppet, arrogating more
or less divine attributes, are labouring under a profound delusion.
There is no abler man in Japan at the present moment. There is no
abler man among the sovereigns of the world. In fact, I should be
inclined to place the Emperor of Japan at the head of the world's
great statesmen. He is no monarch content to reign but not to govern,
concerned simply about ceremonial and the fripperies and gew-gaws of
royalty. He is a constitutional sovereign certainly. He has always
shown the deepest respect for the Constitution ever since its
promulgation, and never in the slightest degree attempted to infringe
or override any portion of it. At the same time he is an effective
force in the Government of Japan. There is nothing too great or too
little in the Empire or in the relations of the Empire with foreign
Powers for his ken. He, in a word, has the whole reins of government
in his hands, and he exercises over every department and detail of it
a minute and rigid supervision which is, in my opinion, largely
responsible for the efficiency of the internal administration of the
country as also for the place that Japan holds among the Great Powers
of the world.

I cannot leave a consideration of this subject without referring to
the assistance rendered to the Emperor by, as also to the debt Japan
owes to, some six or seven great men in that country whose names I
shall not inscribe here because to do so would be to some extent
invidious, several of whom do not, as a matter of fact, hold any
formal position in the Government of the country. The wisdom of these
men has been a great boon for such a country as Japan, and if she is
not now as sensible of it as she ought to be future ages will, I feel
sure, recognise the debt that Japan owes to them. Some persons with an
intimate knowledge of Japan have told me that it is not, after all, a
constitutional State but in effect, though not in name, an oligarchy.
This word has in the past often had unpleasant associations, and one
does not like to apply it in reference to the Government of a
progressive and enlightened country. Still the word strictly means
government by a small body of men, and if in those men is included
the larger part of the wisdom of the country, and they exercise their
power solely and exclusively for the benefit of the country, I am not
certain that such a form of government is not the best that could be
devised. Of course, humanity being as it is, an oligarchy, has its
dangers and its temptations. I will say, however, of the wise men of
Japan, the men to whom I have been referring and who whether in office
or out of office have exercised, and must continue to exercise, a
marked and predominant influence on the government of the country,
that their patriotism has never been called in question, and no one
has at any time suggested that they were influenced by self-seeking or
other unworthy motives, or had any aspirations save the material and
moral advancement of Japan and her elevation to a prominent position
among the Great Powers of the world.



CHAPTER VI

THE PEOPLE--THEIR LIFE AND HABITS


After all, the life of the people is the most interesting, as I think
it is the most instructive, matter connected with any country. It is
assuredly impossible to form a clear or indeed any correct idea in
regard to a nation unless we know something of the manners and
customs, the daily life, the amusements, the vices of its people.
Unless we can, as it were, take a bird's-eye view of the people at
work and at play, at their daily avocations in their homes, see them
as they come into the world, as they go through life's pilgrimage,
and, finally, as they pay the debt of nature and are carried to their
last resting-place in accordance with the national customs, with the
respect or the indifference the nation shows for its dead.

If one is to arrive at a correct idea regarding the life and habits of
the Japanese people it is, I think, essential to get away from the
ports and large towns where they have been influenced by or brought
much into contact with Europeans, and see them as they really are,
free from conventionalities, artificialities, and the effects of
Western habits and customs which have undoubtedly been pronounced in
those centres where Europeans congregate.

The house in Japan does not play the important part it does in this
country. When a man in England, whatever his station in life may be,
contemplates taking a wife and settling down, as the phrase goes, the
home and the contents thereof become an all-important matter and one
needing much thought and discussion. In Japan there is no such
necessity. A Japanese house is easily run up--and taken down. The
"walls" are constructed of paper and slide in grooves between the
beams of the floor which is raised slightly above the ground. The
partitions between the rooms can easily be taken down and an
additional room as easily run up. The house is, as a rule, only one
storey high. The carpets consist of matting only, and practically no
furniture is necessary. A witty writer on Japan has aptly and wittily
remarked that "an Englishman's house may be his castle, a Japanese's
house is his bedroom and his bedroom is a passage." The occupant of
this house sits on the floor, sleeps on the floor, and has his meals
on the floor. The floor is kept clean by the simple process of the
inhabitants removing their boots, or what do duty for boots, and
leaving them at the entrance, so as to avoid soiling the matting with
which the floor of each room is covered. This is a habit which has
much to commend it, and is, I suggest, worthy of imitation by other
countries. After all, the Japanese mode of life has a great deal to be
said in its favour. It seems strange at first, but after the visitor
to the country has got over his initial fit of surprise at the
difference between the Japanese domestic economy and his own, he will,
if he be a man of unprejudiced mind, admit that it certainly has its
"points."

The bulk of the population is poor, very poor, but that poverty is not
emphasised in their homes to the same extent as in European countries.
The house--a doll's house some irreverent people term it--with paper
partitions doing duty for walls, white matting, a few cooking
utensils costs only a few shillings. It can, as I have said, be taken
down and run up easily, and enlarged almost indefinitely. The
inhabitants sleep on the floor, and the bedding consists not as with
us of mattresses, palliasses, and other more or less insanitary
articles, but of a number, great or small, and elaborate or otherwise,
in accordance with the means of the owner, of what I will term quilts.
The Japanese pillow is a fearful and wonderful article. I can never
imagine how it was evolved and why it has remained so long unimproved.
It is made of wood and there is a receptacle for the head. The
European who uses it finds that it effectually banishes sleep, while
the ordinary Japanese is apparently unable to sleep without it. In
most houses, however poor, a kakemono, or wall picture, is to be seen.
It is usually the only decoration save an occasional vase containing
flowers, and of course flowers themselves, which are in evidence
everywhere. Light is, or used to be, given by a "lamp," a kind of
Chinese lantern on a lacquer stand, the light being given by a rush
candle. I am sorry, however, to say that these in some respects
artistic lanterns are being generally replaced by hideous petroleum or
kerosene lamps, not only ugly but a constant source of danger in these
flimsy houses.

The most important accessory of nearly all Japanese houses is the
bath-room, or wash-house, to use a more appropriate term. The hot bath
is a universal institution in the country, and nearly every Japanese
man and woman, whatever his or her station in life, washes the body
thoroughly in extremely hot water more than once daily. The Japanese,
as regards the washing of their persons, are the cleanest race in the
world, but many hygienic laws are set at defiance possibly because
they are not understood. A gradual improvement is, however, taking
place in these matters, and the cleanliness as regards the body and
their houses, which is such a pleasing feature of the people, will no
doubt extend in other directions also.

Japanese houses are habitable enough in warm weather, but in
winter-time they are, as might be expected, exceedingly cold,
especially as the arrangements for warming them are of an extremely
primitive nature. Those complaints which are induced or produced by
cold are prevalent in the country.

The food of the people is as simple as their houses, and as
inexpensive. A Japanese family it has been calculated can live on
about £10 a year. A little fish, rice, and vegetables, with incessant
tea, is the national dietary. The people living on this meagre fare
are, on the whole, a strong and sturdy race, but it is questionable if
the national physique would not be vastly improved were the national
diet also. I have touched on this matter elsewhere, so I need not
refer to it further here. Tobacco is the constant consoler of the
Japanese in all his troubles. Why he smokes such diminutive pipes I
have never been able to understand. They only hold sufficient tobacco
for a few whiffs, and when staying in a Japanese house the constant
tap, tap, tap of the owner's pipe as he empties the ashes out prior to
refilling it reminds one of the woodpecker.

There are doubtless some persons, especially those persons who
consider that to enjoy life a superabundance or even a plethora of
material comforts are necessary, who, after reading a description of
the home and fare of the Japanese peasant, will assume that his life
is a burden and that he derives no enjoyment whatever from it. Nothing
could be more erroneous. There is probably not a more joyous being on
the face of the globe than the Japanese. His wants are few, and in
that fact probably lies his happiness. He does not find his enjoyment
in material things, but he has his enjoyment all the same, and I think
on the whole that he probably gets more out of life and has more
fitting ideas regarding it than the Englishman who considers an
abundance of beef and beer its objective point.

To me one of the most pleasing features of Japan is the fondness and
tenderness of the Japanese of all ranks and classes for children. The
Japanese infant is the tyrant of Japan, and nothing is good enough for
it. The women, as most people know, carry their babies on their backs
instead of in their arms. A baby is, however, not so for very long in
Japan. Very young Japanese girls may be seen carrying their little
baby brothers and sisters behind their backs, and thus learning their
maternal duties in advance. The position of women in Japan, married
women, is not so satisfactory as it ought to be. The laws in regard to
divorce are, I think, too easy, and a Japanese possesses facilities
for getting rid of his wife which does not tend to the conservation of
home-life. The custom, which was at one time universal, of women
blackening their teeth, has largely diminished, and will no doubt in
due course become obsolete. The idea which underlay it was that the
woman should render herself unattractive to other men. There was no
object in having such an adventitious attraction as pearly teeth for
her husband, who might be presumed to know what her attractions really
were. The Japanese woman in her education has inculcated three
obediences, viz., obedience to parents, obedience to husband, and
after the death of the latter obedience to son. Although the Japanese
girl comes of age at 14 she cannot marry without her father's consent
until she is 25.

The dress of the Japanese people is so well known that it is not
necessary for me to describe it. The kimono is, I think, a graceful
costume, and I am very sorry that so many women in the upper classes
have discarded the national dress for European garments. Japanese
women who wear the national costume do not don gloves. If their hands
are cold they place them in their sleeves, which are long and have
receptacles containing many and various things, including a
pocket-handkerchief, which is usually made of paper, and sometimes a
pot of lip-salve to colour the lips to the orthodox tint. The poorer
classes, of course, do not go in for such frivolities. Talking of
paper handkerchiefs reminds me of the innumerable uses to which paper
is put in Japan; it serves for umbrellas and even for coats, and is
altogether a necessity of existence almost for the great mass of the
people.

I have referred to the lack of what may be deemed material comforts in
Japan, as also to the fact that the Japanese are a joyous race but
that their enjoyment is not of a material nature. They are, in fact,
easily amused, and their enjoyment takes forms which would hardly
appeal to a less emotional people. In the large towns the theatre is a
perennial source of amusement. I have referred to the theatre in the
chapter dealing with the drama, and remarked therein that the excess
of by-play, irrelevant by-play, in a Japanese drama was rather
wearisome to the European spectator. Not so to the Japanese. He
positively revels in it. The theatre is for him something real and
moving. He has, whatever his age, all the zest of a youth for plays
and spectacles. How far the Europeanising of the country, which is
having, and is bound still further to have, an effect on dramatic art,
will affect the amusements of the people and their proneness for the
theatre remains to be seen. There is so far nothing approaching the
English music-hall in Japan. Let me express a hope that there never
will be. It is a long cry from the graceful Geisha to the inanities
and banalities which appear to be the stock-in-trade of music-hall
performances in this country. These appear to meet a home want, but I
sincerely trust they will be reserved for home delectation and not be
inflicted in any guise upon Japan. The matter of music-halls suggests
some reference to the ideas of the Japanese in respect of music. The
educated classes appear to have an appreciation of European music, but
Japanese music requires, I should say, an educational process. Some
superficial European writers declare that the Japanese have not the
least conception of either harmony or melody, and that what passes for
music in the country is simply discord. It might have struck these
writers that criticism of this kind in reference to a most artistic
people could hardly be correct. Any one who has listened to the Geisha
or heard the singing of trained Japanese would certainly not agree in
such statements as I have referred to. Japanese music is like Japanese
art--it has its own characteristics and will, I am sure, repay being
carefully studied.

Festivals and feasts, religious and otherwise, which are many and
varied, afford some relaxation for the people. There are, according to
a list compiled, some 28 religious festivals, 16 national holidays,
and 14 popular feast-days. New Year's Day is termed Shihohai, and on
it the Emperor prays to all his ancestors for a peaceful reign. Two
days subsequently, on Genjisai, he makes offerings to him and all his
Imperial ancestors, while two days later still all Government officers
make official calls. These are legal holidays. The 11th of February
(Kigen Setsu) and the 3rd of April (Jimmu-Tenno-sai) are observed as
the anniversaries respectively of the accession to the throne and the
death of Jimmu-Tenno, the first Emperor. The 17th of October
(Shinsho-sai) is the national harvest festival. On this day the
Emperor offers the first crop of the year to his divine ancestor,
Tenshoko Daijin. It may be interesting to record that the 25th of
December (Christmas Day), is observed as a holiday by the Custom-house
department "for the accommodation of foreign employees."

The popular festivals are equally interesting and curious. The 3rd of
March (Oshinasama), is the girls' or dolls' festival, while the 5th of
May (Osekku), is the boys' festival, or Feast of Flags. A three days'
festival, 13th-15th of July (Bon Matsuri), is the All Souls' Day of
Japan in honour of the sacred dead. The 9th of September (Kikku No
Sekku), is the festival of chrysanthemums, the national flower, and
the 20th of November, appropriately near the Lord Mayor of London's
day, is the festival held by the merchants in honour of Ebisuko, the
God of Wealth. The Feast of Flags--the boys' festival--is one much
esteemed by the Japanese people. On the occasion of it every house the
owner of which has been blessed with sons displays a paper carp
floating from a flagstaff. If a male child has come to the
establishment during the year the carp is extra large. It is
considered a reproach to any married woman not to have this symbol
flying outside the house on the occasion of this feast. Why the carp
has been selected as a symbol is a matter upon which there is much
difference of opinion. The carp, it is said, is emblematic of the
youth who overcomes all the difficulties that lie in his path during
life, but I confess I rather fail to see what connection there is
between this fish and such an energetic youth. On this day the boys
have dolls representative of Japanese heroes and personages of the
past as well as toy swords and toy armour. On the girls' festival--the
Feast of Dolls--there is no outward and visible display. The fact of a
girl having been born in the family is not considered a matter to be
boasted of. On this feast there is a great display indoors of dolls.
As a matter of fact dolls form a very important part of the heirlooms
of every Japanese family of any importance. When a girl is born a pair
of dolls are procured for her. Dolls are much more seriously treated
than they are in European countries, where they are bought with the
full knowledge that they will quickly be destroyed. In Japan the dolls
are packed away for nearly the whole of the year in the go-down, and
are only produced at this particular festival. I may add that not only
the dolls themselves but furniture for them are largely in request in
Japan, and that this dolls' festival is really a very important
function in the national life.

New Year's festival is the great day of the year in Japan. In this
respect it approximates to our Christmas. Not only the houses but the
streets are decorated, and every town in the land has at this
particular season an unusually festive appearance. At this period
visits are exchanged, and New Year's presents are the correct thing.

On the Bon Matsuri, or All Souls' Day, the Japanese have a custom
somewhat similar to that which obtains in Roman Catholic countries on
the 2nd of November. On the first night of the feast the tombs of the
dead during the past year are adorned with Japanese lanterns. On the
second night the remaining tombs are likewise decorated, while on the
third night it is the custom, although it is now somewhat falling into
desuetude, for the relatives of the dead to launch toy vessels made of
straw laden with fruit and coins as well as a lantern. These toy
ships have toy sails, and the dead are supposed to sail in them to
oblivion until next year's festival. These toy ships, of course, catch
fire from the lanterns. Not so very many years ago the spectacle of
these little vessels catching fire on some large bay was a very pretty
one. I am afraid this feast has a tendency to die out--a fact which is
greatly to be regretted, as there is behind it much that is poetical
and beautiful.

Wrestling, as most people know, is a favourite amusement of the
Japanese, and wrestling matches excite quite as much interest as
boxing used to do in this country. Of late years English people have
taken much interest in Ju Jitsu. The Japanese style of wrestling is
certainly peculiar, and training does not apparently enter so much
into it as is considered essential in reference to displays of
strength or skill in this country. One sometimes sees very expert
Japanese wrestlers who are not only fat but bloated.

The Japanese have long been celebrated archers, and archery, though it
is largely on the wane, is much more in evidence than is the case in
this country. It is an art in which a great many of the people excel,
and archery grounds still exist in many of the towns.

Marriages and christenings have important parts in the social life of
the people. These ceremonies, however, are not quite so obtrusive as
they are in Western lands. As regards christenings, if I may use such
a term in reference to a non-Christian people, the first, or almost
the first, ceremony in reference to the infant in Japan is, or used to
be, the shaving of its head thirty days after birth, after which it
was taken to the temple to make its first offering, a pecuniary one,
to the gods. This shaving of babies is no doubt diminishing, at any
rate in the large towns. Indeed, everything in regard to the
dressing of and dealing with the hair in Japan is, if I may use the
term, in a state of transition.

  [Illustration: STREET SCENE ON NEW YEAR'S DAY
      FROM A PRINT BY HIROSHIGE]

Some writers on Japan have been impressed by the fact that the
Japanese appear to be more concerned about the dead than the living.
Ancestor worship plays an important part in the religious economy of
Japanese life, and, as I have shown, the All Souls' Day in Japan is an
important national festival. But the respect that these people have
for their dead is not shown only on one or two or three days of the
year; it may be deduced from a visit to any of their cemeteries. These
are nearly always picturesquely situated, adorned with beautiful
trees, and exquisitely kept in order. Indeed, the cemeteries are in
striking contrast to those of European countries. The hideous and
inartistic tombstones and monuments, the urns and angels, and the
stereotyped conventionalities of graveyards in this country are all
absent. There is usually only a simple tablet over each grave bearing
the name of the deceased and the date of his death, and occasionally
some simple word or two summing up succinctly those qualities he had,
or was supposed to have, possessed. Near each grave is usually a
flower-vase, and it is nearly always filled with fresh flowers. As I
have remarked, flowers play an important part in the lives of the
Japanese people, and with them no part is more important than the
decoration of the graves of their dead. In England flowers also play
an important part in connection with the dead--on the day of the
funeral. It is then considered the correct thing for every one who
knew the deceased to send a wreath to be placed upon his coffin. These
wreaths, frequently exceedingly numerous, are conveyed to the
cemetery, where they are allowed to rot on top of the grave. To me
there is no more mournful sight than a visit to a great London
cemetery, where one sees these rotting emblems, which quite palpably
meant nothing save the practice of a conventionality. The Japanese,
however poor his worldly circumstances may be, is not content with
flowers, costly flowers on the day of the funeral; he places his vase
alongside the grave of the departed, and by keeping that vase filled
with fresh and beautiful flowers he sets forth as far as he possibly
can his feeling of respect for the dead and the fact that the dead one
still lives in his memory.

One cannot study, however cursorily, the lives of the Japanese people
on the whole without being convinced of the fact that there is among
them not only a total absence of but no desire whatever for luxury.
The whole conception of life among these people seems to me to be a
healthy and a simple one. It is not in any way, or at any rate to any
great extent, a material conception. The ordinary Japanese--the
peasant, for example--does not hanker after a time when he will have
more to eat and more to drink. He finds himself placed in a certain
position in life, and he attempts to get the best out of life that he
can. I do not suggest, of course, that the Japanese peasant has ever
philosophically discussed this matter with himself or perhaps thought
deeply, if at all, about it. I am merely recording what his view of
life is judging by his actions. He, I feel confident, enjoys life. In
some respects his life no doubt is a hard one, but it has its
alleviations, and if I judge him aright the ordinary Japanese does not
let his mind dwell overmuch on his hardships, but is content to get
what pleasure he can out of his surrounding conditions.

One very pleasing characteristic of the Japanese men and women to
which I have already referred is the habit of personal cleanliness.
In every town in the country public baths are numerous, and every
house of any pretensions has a bath-room. The Japanese use extremely
hot water to wash in. The women do not enter the bath immediately upon
undressing, but in the first instance, throwing some pailsful of water
over the body, they sit on the floor and scrub themselves with bran
prior to entering the bath, performing this operation two or three
times. Men do not indulge in a similar practice, and I have never been
able to understand why this different mode of bathing should obtain in
reference to the two sexes. In houses possessing a bath-room the bath
consists merely of a wooden tub with a stove to heat the water. The
bath is used by the whole family in succession--father, mother,
children, servants. Shampooing also forms an important part of the
Japanese system of cleanliness. It is not, as in this country,
confined to the head, but approximates to what we term massage, and
consists in a rubbing of the muscles of the body--a fact which not
only has a beneficial effect physically, but is also efficacious in
the direction of cleanliness.

Nearly every house in Japan possesses a garden, and the garden is a
source of perpetual delight to every Japanese. He is enabled to give
full vent therein to his love of flowers. Some critics have found
fault with Japanese gardens on account of their monotony. Miniature
lakes, grass plots, dwarfed trees, and trees clipped and trained into
representations of objects animate and inanimate are the prevailing
characteristics. A similar remark might, however, be made in regard to
the gardens of, say, London suburban houses, with this exception--that
the Japanese gardens show infinitely more good taste on the part of
the cultivators of them. These little gardens throw a brightness into
the life of the people which it is impossible to estimate.

In the chapter which I have devoted to the religions of the Japanese
people, I have remarked that religion appears to be losing its
influence upon the educated classes of the country, who are quickly
developing into agnostics. No such remark can, however, be made in
reference to the great mass of the Japanese people. For them religion
is an actuality. Take it out of their lives and you will take much
that makes their lives not only enjoyable but endurable. As a writer
on Japan has somewhat irreverently observed, the Japanese "is very
chummy with heaven. He just as readily invokes the aid of his
household gods in the pursuit of his amours as in less illegitimate
aspirations. He regards them as kind friends who will help, rather
than as severe censors who have to be propitiated." The spiritual
aspect of the Deity has not, I think, entered at all into the
conceptions of the ordinary Japanese. His ideas in regard to God or
the gods--his pantheon is a large and a comprehensive one--are
altogether anthropomorphic. Every action of his life, however small,
is in some way or other connected with an unseen world. In this
matter, Buddhism and Shintoism have got rather mixed, and, as I have
elsewhere said, if the founder of Buddhism were reincarnated in Japan
to-day, he would find it difficult to recognise his religion in some
of the developments of Buddhism as it exists in Japan. Nevertheless,
this anthropomorphic idea of God, however it may fit the Japanese for
the next world, undoubtedly comforts him in this. The religious
festivals, which are numerous, are gala days in his life, and the
services of religion bring him undoubtedly much consolation. But he
does not of necessity go to a temple to conduct that uplifting of the
heart which is, after all, the best service of man to the Creator.
Every house has its little shrine, and although some superior persons
may laugh at the act of burning a joss-stick, or some other trivial
act of worship, as merely ignorant superstition, I think the
unprejudiced man would look rather at the motive which inspired the
act. If this poor ignorant native burns his joss-stick, makes his
offering of a cake, lights a lamp in front of an image, or takes part
in any other act which in effect means the lifting up of his soul to
something higher and greater than himself that he can now only see
through a glass darkly, surely he ought not to be condemned. At any
rate I will pass no condemnation on him. Outside the accretions which
have undoubtedly come upon Buddhism and Shintoism in the many
centuries they have existed in Japan, I desire once more to emphasise
the fact, to which I have previously made reference, that both these
religions have had, and I believe still have, a beneficial effect,
from a moral point of view, on the Japanese people. There is nothing
in their ethical code to which the most censorious person can raise
the slightest objection. They have inculcated on the Japanese people
through all the ages, not only the necessity, but the advisability of
doing good. Buddhism, in particular, has preached the doctrine of
doing good, not only to one's fellow-creatures but to the whole of
animate nature. These two religions have, in my opinion, placed the
ethical conceptions of the Japanese people on a high plane.

In my remarks on the people of Japan I do not think I can more
effectually sum up their salient characteristics than has been done by
the writer of a guide to that country. "The courtly demeanour of the
people," he says, "is a matter of remark with all who visit Japan, and
so universal is the studied politeness of all classes that the casual
observer would conclude that it was innate and born of the nature of
the people; and probably the quality has become somewhat of a national
characteristic, having been held in such high esteem, and so
universally taught for so many centuries--at least, it seems to be as
natural for them to be polite and formal as it is for them to breathe.
Their religion teaches the fundamental tenets of true politeness, in
that it inculcates the reverence to parents as one of the highest
virtues. The family circle fosters the germs of the great national
trait of ceremonious politeness. Deference to age is universal with
the young. The respect paid to parents does not cease when the
children are mature men and women. It is considered a privilege as
well as an evidence of filial duty to study the wants and wishes of
the parents, even before the necessities of the progeny of those who
have households of their own."

I do not think that it is necessary for me to add much to these wise
and pregnant remarks. The more one studies the Japanese people, the
more I think one's admiration of them increases. They have, in my
opinion, in many respects arrived, probably as the result of the
accumulated experience of many ages, at a right perception and
conception of the philosophy of life. Judged from the highest, and as
I think only true, standpoint, that is the standpoint of happiness not
in a merely material but in a spiritual form, they have reached a
condition that but few nations have yet attained. They may provoke the
pity of the man who believes in full diet and plenty of it, and who
fails to comprehend how a people living on a meagre fare of fish and
rice can be contented, much less happy, but the Japanese in his
philosophy has realised a fact that happiness is something other than
material, and that a man or woman can be largely independent of the
accidentals of life and can attain a realisation of true happiness by
keeping under the, too often, supremacy of matter over mind in the
average human being.



CHAPTER VII

TRADE--COMMERCE--AND INDUSTRIES


Nothing is perhaps so strongly indicative of the progress that Japan
has made as the record of her trade and commerce. I have no intention
of inflicting on my readers a mass of figures, but I shall have to
give a few in order to convey some idea as to the country's material
development of recent years. Japan, it must be recollected, is in her
youth in respect of everything connected with commerce and industry.
When the country was isolated it exported and imported practically
nothing, and its productions were simply such as were necessary for
the inhabitants, then far less numerous than at present. When the
Revolution took place trade and commerce were still at a very low ebb,
and the Japanese connected with trade was looked upon with more or
less of contempt, the soldier's and the politician's being the only
careers held much in esteem. For innumerable centuries the chief
industry of Japan was agriculture, and even to-day more than half of
the population is engaged thereon. Partly owing to religious
influences, and partly from other causes, the mass of the people have
been, and still are in effect, vegetarians.

The present trade of Japan is in startling contrast with that of her
near neighbour China, which, with an area about twenty-three times
greater, and a population nearly nine times as large, has actually a
smaller volume of exports. All the statistics available in reference
to Japan's trade, commerce, and industries point to the enormous and
annually increasing development of the country. Indeed, the trade has
marvellously increased of recent years. Since 1890 the annual value of
Japan's exports has risen from £5,000,000 to £35,000,000, the imports
from £8,000,000 to £44,000,000. That the imports will continue in
similar progression, or indeed to anything like the same amount, I do
not believe. Japan of recent years has imported machinery, largely
from Europe and America, and used it as patterns to be copied or
improved upon by her own workmen. Out of 25 cotton-mills, for example,
in Osaka, the machinery for one had been imported from the United
States. The rest the Japanese have made themselves from the imported
pattern. There were also in Osaka recently 30 flour-mills ready for
shipment to the wheat regions of Manchuria. One of these mills had
been imported from America, while the remaining 29 have been
constructed in Osaka at a cost for each of not more than one-fifth
that paid for the imported mill.

Shortly after peace had been declared between Russia and Japan, the
Marquis Ito is reported to have said to Mr. McKinley: "You need not be
afraid that we will allow Japanese labourers to come to the United
States. We need them at home. In a couple of months we will bring home
a million men from Manchuria. We are going to teach them all how to
manufacture everything in the world with the best labour-saving
machinery to be found. Instead of sending you cheap labour we will
sell you American goods cheaper than you can manufacture them
yourselves." The Japanese Government seems to some extent to be going
in for a policy of State Socialism. The tobacco trade in the Empire is
now entirely controlled by the Government. The Tobacco Law
extinguished private tobacco dealers and makers, the Government took
over whatever factories it deemed suitable for the purpose, built
others, and now makes a profit of about £3,000,000 sterling annually,
while the tobacco is said to be of a superior quality and the workmen
better paid than was the case under private enterprise. How far Japan
intends to go in the direction of State Socialism I am not in a
position to say. Many modern Japanese statesmen are quite convinced of
the fact that the private exploitation of industry is a great evil and
one that ought to be put a stop to. On the other hand, there are
Japanese statesmen who are firmly convinced that the State control of
industries can only result in the destruction of individual initiative
and genius, with the inevitable result of reducing everybody to a dead
level of incompetence. In this matter Japan will have, as other
nations have had, to work out her own salvation. In the process of
experiment many mistakes will no doubt be made, but Japan starts with
this advantage in respect of State Socialism, precisely as in regard
to her Army and Navy--that her statesmen, her leading public men, her
great thinkers, have no prejudices or preconceived ideas. All they
desire is that the nation as a whole shall boldly advance on that path
of progress by the lines which shall best serve to place the country
in a commanding position among the Great Powers of the world, and at
the same time to promote the happiness, comfort, and prosperity of the
people.

The Japanese are great in imitation, but they are greater perhaps in
their powers of adaptation. They have so far shown a peculiar faculty
for fitting to Japanese requirements and conditions the machinery,
science, industry, &c., necessary to their proper development. Japan
is without doubt now keenly alive, marshalling all her industrial
forces in the direction of seeking to become supreme in the trade and
commerce of the Far East. The aim of Japanese statesmen is to make
their country self-productive and self-sustaining. We may, I think,
accordingly look forward to the time, not very far distant, when Japan
will cease to import machinery and other foreign products for which
there has hitherto been a brisk demand, when she will build her own
warships and merchant steamers, as she now partially does, and
generally be largely independent of those Western Powers of which she
has heretofore been such a good customer.

At the present time the chief manufactures of the country are silk,
cotton, cotton yarn, paper, glass, porcelain, and Japan ware, matches
and bronzes, while shipbuilding has greatly developed of recent years.
The principal imports are raw cotton, metals, wool, drugs, rails and
machinery generally, as well as sugar and, strange to say, rice. Japan
exports silk, cotton, tea, coal, camphor and, let me add, matches and
curios. The trade in the latter has assumed considerable proportions,
and I fear I must add that much of what is exported is made
exclusively for the European market. According to the latest figures,
the country's annual exports amounted to about £35,000,000, and its
imports to about £44,000,000. I venture to prophesy that these figures
will ere long be largely inverted.

Silk is the most important item of Japan's foreign trade. The rearing
of silkworms has been assiduously undertaken from time immemorial, or
"the ages eternal" according to some Japanese historians. Like so many
other arts and industries of the country, silkworms are believed to
have been introduced from China. For some time prior to the opening of
Japan to European trade and influences the silk industry had rather
languished owing to the enforcement of certain sumptuary laws
confining the wearing of silk garments to a select class of the
community, but so soon as Japan discarded her policy of isolation from
the rest of the world the production of and demand for silk rapidly
increased, and the trade in it has now assumed considerable
dimensions. Strange to say, silk is still in Japan what linen was at
one time in the North of Ireland--a by-industry of the farmer, a room
in his house being kept as a rearing chamber for the silkworms, which
are carefully looked after by his family. According to official
returns, there are rather more than two and a half million families so
engaged, and nearly half a million silk manufacturers. The largest
part of the silk exported goes to the United States of America.
Closely allied with the production of silk is the mulberry-tree, the
leaves of which form the staple food of the silkworm. This plant is
cultivated with great care throughout the country, and indeed there
are many mulberry farms entirely devoted to the culture of the tree
and the conservation of its leaves.

Rice, as I have elsewhere stated, forms the principal article of food
of the Japanese people. Japan at present does not produce quite
sufficient rice for the consumption of her population, and a large
quantity has, accordingly, to be imported. The danger of this for an
island country has been quite as often emphasised by Japanese
statesmen as the similar danger in respect of the wheat supply of
Great Britain has been by English economists. Many practical steps
have been taken on the initiative of the Japanese Government in the
direction of improving the cultivation of rice, the irrigation of the
fields, &c. As time goes on no doubt the food of the people will
become more varied. Indeed, there has been a movement in that
direction, especially in the large towns. A nation which largely lives
on one article of diet, the production of which is subject to the
vicissitudes of good and bad harvests, is, it must be admitted, not in
a satisfactory position in reference to the food of its people.

If rice is the national food, tea is emphatically the national
beverage, despite the large consumption of saké and the increasing
consumption of the really excellent beer now brewed in Japan. Like
most other things, the tea-shrub is said to have been imported into
Japan from China. Almost since the opening of the country, the United
States has been Japan's best customer in respect of tea, and she has
from time to time fallen into line with the requirements of the United
States Government in regard to the quality of tea permitted to be
imported into that country. For instance, when, in 1897, the United
States Legislature passed a law forbidding the importation of tea of
inferior quality and providing for the inspection of all imported tea
by a fixed standard sample, the Tea Traders Association of Japan
established tea inspection offices in Yokohama and other ports, and
all the tea exported from the country was and still is passed through
these offices. The tea is rigidly tested, and if it comes up to the
required standard is shipped in bond to the United States. The quality
of the tea is thus amply guaranteed, and it, accordingly, commands a
high price in the American Continent. The value of the tea exported to
the United States amounts to something like £1,200,000, and there are
no signs of any falling off in the demand for it. Canada is also a
good customer of Japan for the same article, but Great Britain and the
other European countries at present take no Japanese tea. I do not
know why this is the case as the tea is really excellent, and it has,
as regards what is exported, the decided advantage of being inspected
by experts and the quality guaranteed. The tea industry is undoubtedly
one of great national importance, the total annual production
amounting to about 65,000,000 pounds, the greater portion of which is,
of course, consumed in the country.

I have already referred to the importance of Japanese arboriculture,
and to the steps taken by the Japanese Government in reference to the
administration of forests and the planting with trees of various parts
of the country not suitable for agriculture. The State at the present
time owns about 54,000,000 acres of forests, which are palpably a very
great national asset. I may mention that the petroleum industry is
growing in Japan. The quantity of petroleum in the country is believed
to be very great, and every year new fields are being developed. The
consumption of oil by the people is considerable, and it is hoped that
ere long Japan will be able to produce all that she requires. The
petroleum is somewhat crude, providing about 50 per cent. of burning
oil.

Tobacco, as I have elsewhere remarked, is now a State monopoly, and
forms a considerable item in the State revenue. The quality has much
improved since the manufacture of it has ceased to be a private
industry. The Japanese are inveterate smokers, and the intervention of
the State in this matter, although it has been criticised by political
economists in the country and out of it, and is undoubtedly open to
criticism from some points of view, has, I think, been justified by
results. The making of sugar from beetroot has been attempted in
Japan, but the results have not been over-successful. The efforts in
this direction are, however, being persisted in, and it is hoped that,
especially in Formosa, the beet--sugar industry may develop in
importance.

The manufacture of paper in Japan has long been an important national
industry. Paper has been and still is used there for many purposes for
which it has never been utilised in European countries. Originally it
was largely made from rice, and the mulberry shrub has also been used
for paper manufacture. The rise and development of a newspaper press
in Japan and the impetus given to printing has, of course, largely
increased the demand for paper. This is being met by the adaptation of
other vegetable products for the purpose of making paper, and it seems
quite certain that Japan will be totally independent of any
importation of foreign paper to meet the great and greatly increasing
demand for that article in the country.

Salt is, I may remark, a Government monopoly in Japan. No one except
the Government, or some person licensed by the Government, is allowed
to import salt from abroad, while no one can manufacture salt without
Government permission. Salt made by salt manufacturers is purchased by
the Government, which sells it at a fixed price. This particular
monopoly has only recently been established, and the reason put
forward for it is a desire to improve and develop the salt industry
and at the same time to add to the national revenue. Whether a
monopoly in what is a necessary of life is economically defensible is
a question, to my mind, hardly open to argument. That the revenue of
the country will benefit by the salt monopoly is unquestionable.

As might have been expected, the opening up of Japan to Western
influences has induced or produced, _inter alia_, some Western forms
of political and social and, indeed, socialistic associations. The
antagonism between capital and labour and the many vexed and intricate
questions involved in the quarrel are already beginning to make
themselves felt in Japan. It was, I suppose, inevitable. Labour is an
important factor in an industrial nation like Japan, and there is
already heard the cry--call it fact or fallacy as you choose--with
which we are now so familiar in this country and on the Continent,
that labour is the source of all wealth. Japan will no doubt, like
other countries, sooner or later have to face a solution of the
problems involved in these recurring disputes and this apparently
deep-rooted antagonism between the possessors of wealth and the
possessors of muscle. Already many associations have been established
whose aim and object is to voice the sentiments of labour and assert
its rights. Indeed, there is a newspaper, the _Labour World_, the
champion of the rights of the Japanese workmen. So far the law in
Japan does not regard with as tolerant an eye as is the case in this
country labour demonstrations and the occasionally reckless oratory of
labour champions. The police regulations forbid the working classes
embarking in collective movements and demonstrating against their
employers in the matter of wages and working hours. A suggestion of a
strike of workmen is officially regarded with an unfriendly eye, and
strikes themselves, picketing, and various other Western methods of
coercing employers to come round to the views of the employed, would
not at present be tolerated in Japan. No doubt these Western devices
will assert themselves in time. The attempt to keep down the effective
outcome of labour organisation in a country with an enormous labour
population is not likely to be successful for long. Socialism is
making great progress in Japan, and the State has, whether consciously
or not, given it a certain amount of countenance by the steps it has
taken in reference to the tobacco and salt industries, &c. The extent
to which newspapers are now read in Japan--a matter I refer to more
fully in another chapter--will undoubtedly tend to mould public
opinion to such a degree that no Government could afford to resist it.

  [Illustration: RICE PLANTING, PROVINCE OF HOKI
      FROM A PRINT BY HIROSHIGE]

The trade, commerce, and industries of Japan appear to me to be, on
the whole, in a healthy and flourishing condition. In them, and of
course in her industrious population, Japan possesses a magnificent
asset. The country is rich in undeveloped resources of various kinds,
the people are patriotic to a degree, and I feel sure that the
additional burdens which the recent war with Russia has for the time
entailed will be cheerfully borne. I am confident, moreover, that
under the wise guidance of the Emperor and her present statesmen Japan
will make successful efforts to liquidate her public debt, to relieve
herself of her foreign liabilities, and generally to proceed
untrammelled and unshackled on that path of progress and material
development that, I believe, lies before her, and which will, I am
sure, at no far-distant date place her securely and permanently in the
position of one of the Great World Powers.



CHAPTER VIII

JAPAN'S FINANCIAL BURDENS AND RESOURCES


There are a good many people, some so-called financial experts among
the number, who are of opinion, and have expressed themselves to that
effect, that the financial position of Japan is an unsound one. They
depict that country as weighed down with a load of debt, mostly
incurred for her warlike operations against Russia, and the revenue as
largely mortgaged for the payment of the interest on that debt. Some
of these experts have told us that the facility with which Japan was
able to raise loans on comparatively moderate terms in the European
money-markets, and the rush that was made by investors to subscribe to
her loans, are matters which must have a baneful effect on the rulers
of Japan. These latter, we are assured, found themselves in the
position not only of being able to raise money easily, but of
positively having to refuse money which was forced upon them by eager
investors when the Japanese loans were put upon the market. The result
was, so it has been said, to encourage extravagance in expenditure and
to lead Japan to suppose that whenever she wanted money for any
purpose she had only to come to Europe and ask for it. The financial
experts who so argue, if such puerile assertions can be dignified by
the name of argument, talk as if Japan were like a child with a new
toy. The Japanese statesmen--in which term I of course include the
Mikado, one of the world's greatest statesmen--are by no means so
simple as some of these financial experts would have us believe.
Indeed, I will go further, and venture to assert that the statesmen
are far more astute than the experts. The former emphatically know
what they are about, financially and otherwise, and they are assuredly
in no need of any Occidental giving them a lead in the matter. If I
desired to adduce any evidence on that head I need only point to the
_Financial and Economical Annual of Japan_, published every year at
the Government printing office in Tokio. This exhaustive work deals
with the different departments of Government. The section I have
before me, which is for the year 1905, treats of the Department of
Finance and it certainly serves, and very effectively serves, to show
that the Japanese are not, as they so often have been depicted,
children in matters of this kind. This Government handbook is not only
exhaustive but illuminative. Published in English, everything of which
it treats is explained in simple and concise language. There is an
entire absence of that official jargon which tends, even if it is not
intended, to render Government publications in this country
unintelligible to the ordinary reader. The plain man who peruses this
Japanese year-book can at least understand it, and he will, among
other things, grasp the fact that the Japanese have got the whole
question of finance in all its ramifications at their fingers' ends.

The total National Debt of Japan in 1905 amounted to 994,437,340 yen,
or, roughly, £100,000,000 sterling--a sum which the publication I have
referred to works out to be at the rate of 19.548 yen, or about 39s.
per head of the population. Of the debt some £43,000,000 was incurred
to defray a part of the cost of the war with Russia. As an indication
of the estimate of the credit of Japan within her own territory as
well as abroad, I may record the fact that the Exchequer Bonds which
were issued in the country in 1904 and 1905 for the purpose of
defraying the extraordinary expenses of the war were largely
over-subscribed, the first issue to the extent of 452 per cent., the
second 322 per cent., the third 246 per cent., and the fourth 490 per
cent.--a record surely! Abroad Japan's loans were no less successful.
The three issues made in Europe during the war were literally rushed
for by the investing public, with the result that whereas in May,
1904, Japan offered for subscription a loan of £10,000,000, the issue
price being £93 10s. and the rate of interest 6 per cent., in March,
1905, despite the fact of two previous loans and the exhaustion of the
country incidental to a long and expensive war, she was able to place
on the market a loan of thirty millions at 4½ per cent. interest, the
issue price being £90.

A National Debt which amounts to less than £2 per head of the
population compares very favourably with that of Great Britain, which
totals up to something like £19 per head, leaving out of account the
immense and yearly growing indebtedness of our great cities and towns.
Furthermore, almost the whole of the National Debt of this country, as
of the European Powers generally, has been incurred not only for
unproductive, but as a matter of fact for destructive purposes. The
vast loans of Europe have been raised for the purpose of waging bloody
wars, some at least of which history has pronounced to have been
gigantic, not to say wicked, blunders. Much of the National Debt of
Japan, on the contrary, has been incurred for useful, productive, and
even remunerative purposes--improving the means of transport,
constructing railways, &c. The various loans outstanding up to the
year 1887, on which Japan was paying very high rates of interest, as
much as 9 per cent. on one foreign loan, were in that year converted
and consolidated by the issue of a loan bearing interest at the rate
of 5 per cent. per annum--a proceeding which materially improved
Japan's financial position and demonstrated that her credit stood
high.

The war with China in 1894-5 necessitated fresh borrowing to the
amount of over £12,000,000. Subsequent loans were issued in order to
extend the railway system of the country and so develop its trade, for
such public works as the establishment of a steel foundry, the
extension of the telephone system, the introduction of the leaf
tobacco monopoly, for the development of Formosa and, another most
important matter, the redemption of paper-money. In the early days of
her expansion Japan suffered greatly from the evils of inconvertible
paper-money and strenuous efforts had for a long time been made by the
Government for the redemption of the paper-money and the improvement
of the general financial condition. In 1890 it was found that the
reserve fund kept in the Treasury for the exchange of paper-money of
1 yen and upwards was insufficient to meet the demand. To meet this
emergency, the maximum amount of convertible bank-notes issued by the
Bank of Japan against securities was increased from 70,000,000 yen
(£7,169,927) to 85,000,000 yen (£8,706,340), of which sum 22,000,000
yen were advanced to the Government without interest. This sum added
to the original reserve fund of 10,000,000 yen (£1,024,275) was
employed for completing the redemption of paper-money of 1 yen and
upward. Subsequent loans for the purposes of the war with Russia I
have already referred to. Besides funded Japan has also, like this
country, had experience of unfunded debt in the shape of Treasury
Bills, temporary loans from the Bank of Japan, &c. Financial
operations of this kind are, however, I imagine, necessary for all
Governments to meet current expenses. To briefly recapitulate Japan's
indebtedness and borrowings generally up to the end of March, 1905,
these amounted to, in all, £140,045,030, of which sum £38,187,369 has
from time to time been paid off, leaving a balance of £101,857,661
owing by the nation.

When we consider that for this large, but not unduly large, sum Japan
has waged two considerable wars, and raised herself to the position of
a great naval and military Power, that she has developed and organised
a magnificent Army, provided herself with a strong, efficient, and
thoroughly up-to-date Navy, has constructed railways and public works,
and generally has placed herself in a capital position to work out her
own destiny free from the fear of foreign interference, I altogether
fail to see how she can be accused of financial extravagance. There is
certainly no extravagance in the administration of her finances.
London might, I suggest, learn much from Tokio in this matter. The
system of financial check and thorough and rapid audit of public
accounts is in Japan as near perfection as anything of the kind can
be. Though the late war did produce, as I suppose all wars do,
peculation, most of it was discovered and the punishment of the
culprits was sharp and decisive. There was no opportunity for
financial scandals in the campaign with Russia such as occurred during
the South African War. Every country, of course, produces rogues, and
war seems, _inter alia_, to breed roguery on a large scale, but in the
Japanese methods of finance the checks are so effective that roguery
in the public services has a bad time of it in war as well as in
peace.

As I have already remarked, I am of opinion the debt of Japan is by no
means excessive, especially in view of the fact that a large part of
it has been devoted to purposes which are profitable. The debt works
out, as I have shown, at something under £2 per head of the
population, and that population is steadily increasing. That Japan is
well able to pay the interest on her debt there can be no question
whatever, and that when the present debt becomes due for redemption
she will be able to raise the necessary funds for that purpose on
terms even more favourable than those at which she has hitherto placed
her loans I am confident. I must emphasise the fact, since so many
persons seem to be oblivious of it, that this is no mushroom South
American Republic borrowing money merely for the purpose of spending
it on very unproductive and occasionally very doubtful objects, but a
Great World Power sensible of its obligations, sensible likewise of
the policy and necessity of maintaining the national credit, and
confident that the national resources and the patriotism of its people
will enable it not only to bear the present financial burdens but even
greater, should these be found necessary for the defence of the
country or for its development.

The ability of a nation as of an individual to discharge its debts
depends of course upon its resources. No man possessing even a
perfunctory knowledge of the resources of Japan would surely venture
to express alarm at the increase in her debt and scepticism as to her
being able to meet the annual interest on that debt as well as the
constantly increasing expenses of administration. The resources of the
country have, in my opinion, as yet scarcely been realised, and
certainly have not been anything like fully developed. And when I use
the word resources I do not employ it as it is so often employed in
respect of minerals, although the mineral wealth of Japan is
considerable. Her resources, as I estimate them, are to be found in
her large and rapidly increasing population--a population perhaps the
most industrious in the world, persevering, enterprising, methodical,
and performing, whatever be its appointed task, that task with all its
might as a labour of love, in fact, not as the irksome toil of the
worker who is a worker simply because he can be nothing else. It is
this great industrial hive which in the near future will supply China
and other Eastern countries with all, or nearly all, those articles
they now obtain elsewhere. What I may term the European industries of
Japan have of recent years been largely developed or evolved. Take,
for example, an item, insignificant in one way--that of matches. In
1904 matches to the value of 9,763,860 yen, or, roughly, one million
sterling, were exported, and, strange to relate, European clothing to
the value of 287,464 yen.

The glib people who talk about Japan biting off more than she can
chew, and with a light heart borrowing money she will find a
difficulty in repaying, have apparently not grasped the fact that
Japan possesses many very eminent financiers who have quite as much,
if not more, claim to be considered financial experts than some of
those gentlemen who pose in that capacity here in England. The
Japanese financiers have, moreover, the advantage of an intimate
knowledge of their own country and its potentialities. The Japanese
Government has always had the benefit of the advice of these
singularly able men, and the result has been that its financial
operations of recent years at any rate have invariably been well
organised and skilfully and economically effected. I cannot speak too
highly of the capacity shown by the Japanese in everything relating to
banking. The Banks--of course I refer to the National Banks and not to
the European Banks having branches in the country--have very quickly
attained a high status in the International Banking world, and are
undoubtedly on a very firm financial basis. And there are many great
houses in Japan which, although not ostensibly bankers, cannot be left
out of consideration in any remarks on this head. They occupy a
position somewhat analogous to that of the Rothschilds in this
country. Let me take for example the house of Mitsui, the name of
which constantly crops up in Japanese finance.

The history of this ancient house has much that is picturesque about
it, reminding one of the old merchant princes of Venice. The family
originally belonged to the Jujiwara clan, and its origin is traced
back to a certain Mitsui who lived as a feudal lord in the fifteenth
century. At the time of the fall of the Ashikaja Shogun he lived in a
state of perpetual war, and the god of war was not propitious to him.
He retired to a neighbouring village and became the overlord of the
district. He was succeeded by his son, who removed to Matsusuzaka,
where he settled down as a private citizen and man of business, and
laid the foundations of the present Mitsui house. In the middle of the
sixteenth century his descendant became a merchant. His son moved to
Kyoto, where he started a large goods store, which is represented in
Tokio to-day by the Mitsui Hofukuten. Subsequently, at the beginning
of the seventeenth century, a member of the same house invented and
introduced the system of retailing for cash, which was an absolute
revolution of business methods at that time in Japan. In addition to
that he organised an excellent system for the remittance of money from
one part of the country to the other, as also a carrier's
business--two very remarkable facts when one remembers in what a
primitive and elementary condition of development the monetary
business of Japan was at that period. In the year 1687 the Mitsuis
were appointed by the Government purveyors and controllers of the
public exchange, and in recognition of the excellent manner in which
the duties were performed, they were given the grant of a large estate
in Yeddo.

In 1723 the head of the family, carrying out the verbal wishes of his
father, assembled his brothers and sisters and then and there drew up
in writing a set of family rules which have ever since been
practically the articles of association of the house of Mitsui. These
rules embodied on business-like lines and in business-like language
the principle that the family and not the individual forms the
ultimate union in Eastern life. It was not one or the other of the six
brothers of which the family consisted when these rules were drawn up
that was to trade, but the whole family as one unit. There was to be
unlimited liability as far as the property of each one was concerned,
and the profits of all were to be divided. This agreement is the
identical one under which the great house of Mitsui is run to-day.
Under it the family prospered exceedingly, so that when Japan decided
to take on some portion of Western civilisation, the Mitsuis acted as
the principal financial agents of the Government, and it was mainly
owing to the enormous financial resources of the house placed by them
at the disposal of the Government that the country was enabled at the
period of the revolution to pass successfully through what might have
been a most disastrous crisis. As some reward for the great services
rendered at the time, the present head of the house was created a
peer. Since the opening of Japan to Western influence the business of
the Mitsuis has enormously increased, and has been extended in various
directions. In 1876 their money exchange business was converted into a
Bank on the joint stock system, but with unlimited liability as far as
the Mitsui family was concerned. In the same year, for the purpose of
engaging in general foreign trade, the Mitsui Bussan Kwiasha was
formed, better known in Europe and America as Mitsui & Co. In 1899 the
family acquired from the Government the concession of the Meike
coal-mines, and there was then formed the Mitsui Kaishan, or Mining
Department, which has the management of this mining concession
together with many others which have since been acquired.

To-day the house of Mitsui consists of eleven families under a system
of joint liability bound together by the old rules drawn up close upon
two centuries back. The wealth of the collective families is
unquestionably great, and the confidence of the people of Japan in
this great financial firm is shown by the immense amount of money it
holds on deposit. In one or other branches of their varied businesses
they give employment to a very large number of persons. They have
initiated an exceedingly interesting system of insurance for their
employees. Each is allowed 10 per cent. interest on his wages up to
three years on condition of its being deposited in the Mitsui Bank,
with the proviso that the sum shall be forfeited in case of the
embezzlement of any of the Company's money. During the late war, as
well as in that with China, the Mitsui house had immense transactions
with the Government in providing war material, steamers for transport,
supplies, &c., and their magnificent organisation enabled them to
carry out their various undertakings without the slightest hitch. I
may also add that the name of Mitsui headed the various charitable
funds which were started in the country in connection with the war. I
am sure that this necessarily imperfect sketch of this famous Japanese
house will convince my readers of the fact that in finance, as in
other respects, Japan has already shown a capacity for holding her own
with Western nations.

I have headed this chapter "Japan's Financial Burdens and Resources,"
but I am not quite sure that the word "burdens" is not a misnomer.
Japan appears to me--and I may claim to have studied the matter with
some little attention--to have no financial burdens, if burdens be
taken to mean something that is inconveniently felt, that is difficult
to carry. There is here no people weighed down under the crushing
incubus of debt. There is a springiness and alertness, a go-ahead
energy about the nation--symptoms not usually connected with the
carrying of burdens. Japan seems to me to be in somewhat the same
position in regard to finance as France was after the close of the war
with Germany when the former nation found itself saddled with a
tremendous debt incurred for war expenditure and the indemnity which
had to be paid to the conquering nation. The fact, however, as we all
know, instead of depressing the French people seems to have put the
whole country on its mettle, with the result that the heavy interest
of the enormous debt was easily met and effective steps taken to
reduce the principal. The borrowings of Japan in Europe in the future
are likely to be small, because she will be able to obtain what she
needs at home, and provided she is not drawn into any war she will
find her expanding revenue sufficient not only for the current
expenses of administration as well as for the interest on her debt,
but over and above all this enabling her year by year to provide a
sinking fund which will in due course materially reduce even if it
does not entirely extinguish the national indebtedness. In my opinion
Japan can look forward to its financial future with equanimity. In
regard to its financial past it has the satisfaction of thinking that
heavy in one sense though its financial obligations be they have not
at any rate been squandered for unworthy purposes.



CHAPTER IX

EDUCATION


In England a vast amount was last year heard respecting education.
Speakers on platforms and writers in newspapers and other periodical
literature day by day and week by week for many months kept pouring
forth words, words, words on this matter. It is not my intention to
refer at all beyond what I have said to the somewhat lively education
controversy in England which even as I write is by no means ended. Any
such reference would be out of place in a book of this kind, and even
were it not I confess I have no inclination whatever to rush into this
particular fray. But it seems to me a curious fact that other
countries, Japan amongst the number, have long since settled, and
apparently settled satisfactorily, a problem which here in England is
still under discussion, acrid discussion, and is yet quite evidently
far from being permanently solved. The provisions and arrangements a
nation has made for the education of its youth are, to my mind, an
excellent test of the precise standard to which its civilisation has
attained; because the future of a nation is with its youth, and that
future must largely depend on the extent to and the manner in which
its youth have been taught not only all those subjects which are
commonly classified as knowledge but their duties and responsibilities
as citizens. Judged by this test, Japan has every right to rank high
among the nations of the world. And it can also be said of her in this
matter that the education of her people is no new thing. It is not one
among the many things she has learned from the West. Education was in
vogue in Japan when that country was isolated from the rest of the
world. Certainly Japan's contact with Europe and America has vastly
improved her educational system, enabling her, as it has done, to
utilise to the full the great advance there has been in scientific
knowledge of every description during the last half-century or so.
But, as far back as the seventh century, if history or tradition be
correct, an educational code was promulgated in Japan. Certainly this
code was limited in its application to certain classes, but education
was gradually extended throughout the country, and even in days
somewhat remote from the present time every member of the Samurai
class was expected to include the three R's, or the Japanese
equivalent of them, in his curriculum. The ordinary Samurai was, in
fact, as regards reading and writing an educated man at a time when
British Generals and even British Sovereigns were somewhat hazy in
regard to their orthography and caligraphy.

Soon after the Revolution of 1868 a Board of Education was instituted
in Japan, and the whole educational system of the country--because one
had existed under the rule of a Tycoon--was taken in hand and
reorganised. Three years later a separate Department of Education was
formed at a time almost synonymous with the setting up of School
Boards in England. As soon as it got itself into working order the
Education Department despatched a number of specially selected
Japanese to various European countries as well as to the United States
of America to inquire into and report upon the system of education in
existence and its suitability for adaptation or adoption in Japan.
When these representatives returned from their mission and sent in
their reports a code was compiled and the Mikado, in promulgating it,
declared the aims of his Government to be that education should be so
diffused throughout the country that eventually there might not be a
village with an ignorant family nor a family with an ignorant member.
It was a noble ideal, and I may remark that, though of course it has
not been realised in all its fulness and probably will not be for very
many years to come, it has been to a larger extent attained than a
somewhat similar ideal which the late Mr. Forster is supposed to have
entertained in reference to the effect of the Education Act which
established a system of compulsory education for England and Wales.

In succeeding years various changes were made in the system of
national education, and in 1883 that which now exists was brought into
force. This is in effect compulsory education. Since education was
first organised on any plan in Japan the number under instruction has
steadily risen, and at present more than 90 per cent. of the children
regularly attend school. In 1873 the number was 1,180,000; it is now
over 5,000,000. There are about 29,000 primary schools, of which about
6,500 are higher primary schools with a million pupils. The total cost
of the primary schools is somewhere about £3,000,000.

The question will no doubt be asked, What kind of education do these
5,000,000 pupils receive, and to what extent is it adapted to make
them good citizens of a great Empire? The subjects taught in the
ordinary primary schools embrace morals, the Japanese language,
arithmetic and gymnastics. One or more subjects, such as drawing,
singing, or manual work may be added, and, in schools for females,
sewing. In the higher primary schools the subjects of instruction
include morals, the Japanese language, arithmetic, Japanese history,
geography, science, drawing, singing, and gymnastics, and, in schools
for females, sewing. Besides these agriculture, commerce, and manual
work, as well as the English language, are optional subjects. The
moral lessons taught in these schools, I may remark, are not based
upon any particular religious doctrines or dogmas, but are entirely
and absolutely secular.

Children have to be 6 years of age before commencing their scholastic
education, and have to remain at school until they have attained 14
years. The parents or guardians of children are compelled to send them
to school to complete, as a minimum of education, the ordinary primary
school course. Education in the higher primary schools is not
compulsory, and it is, accordingly, a pleasing fact that 60 per cent.
of those children who have passed through the ordinary schools
voluntarily go to the higher primary schools.

Every municipal or rural community is compelled to maintain one or
more primary schools sufficient, as regards size and the number of the
staff, to educate all the children in the district. The establishment
of higher primary schools is voluntary, and that so many of them are
in existence is ample proof that the benefit of higher education is
fully appreciated in Japan. Instruction in all the schools is
practically free. No fee may be charged save with the consent of the
local governor, and when one is imposed it must not exceed the
equivalent of 5d. per month in a town school and half that sum in a
rural school.

As regards secondary education, it is compulsory for one school to be
established in each of the forty-seven prefectures into which Japan is
divided. The course of study at the secondary schools extends over
five years, with an optional supplementary course limited to twelve
months. The curriculum of the secondary school embraces morals, the
Japanese and Chinese languages, one foreign language, history and
geography, mathematics, natural history, physics and chemistry, the
elements of law and political economy, drawing, singing, gymnastics,
and drills. The course of study is uniform in all Japanese schools.
Candidates for admission to the secondary schools must be over 12
years of age, and have completed the second year's course of the
higher primary school. There are about three hundred of the secondary
schools in existence--a number, as will be seen, six times as large as
that obliged to be established by law. The pupils number over a
hundred thousand and the cost approximates £500,000.

There are also 170 high schools for girls besides normal schools in
each prefecture designed to train teachers for the primary and
secondary schools. The course of study in these schools is for men
four years, for women three years. The whole of the pupils' expenses,
including the cost of their board and lodging, is paid out of local
funds. There are also higher normal schools designed to train teachers
for the ordinary normal schools. It will thus be seen that there is a
systematic course of education for what I may term the common people
in Japan, extending from the higher normal to the ordinary primary
school.

There are besides in Japan higher schools, the object of which is to
prepare young men for a University education. The expense of these
schools is entirely borne by the State. Japan prides herself, and
justly, in being unique in the possession of such schools. The course
of study in them extends over three years and is split up into three
departments. The pupils select the particular department into which
they desire to enter, and their selection, of course, depends on the
precise course of study they intend to take up on entering the
University. The first department is for those who propose to study law
or literature, the second for those who mean to go in for engineering,
science, or agriculture, and the third for aspirants as medical men.
Candidates for admission to these schools must be over 17 years of age
and have completed the secondary school course.

A reference to these higher schools naturally leads up to the Imperial
University of Tokio, as well as the kindred University at Kyoto. There
are six colleges in the former, viz., law, medicine, engineering,
literature, science, and agriculture, while Kyoto University possesses
four colleges, viz., law, medicine, literature and science, and
engineering. When the Imperial University was established almost all
the Professors therein were Europeans or Americans, but there has been
a material alteration in this respect, and now the foreign Professors
are few. Most of the Japanese instructors have, however, been educated
abroad. The course of study extends over four years in the case of
students of law and medicine, and three years in the case of students
of other subjects. There is not the same freedom in regard to study as
exists at Oxford, Cambridge, and some other more or less leisurely
seats of learning. In the Japanese Universities the students have to
enter upon a regular prescribed course of study with some few optional
subjects. The Universities confer degrees in law, medicine,
engineering, literature, science, and agriculture. The examinations
leading up to and for the degrees are much more severe than those in
any University in this country, with the possible exception of that of
London. It may interest my readers to learn that the largest number of
degrees are taken in law, the smallest in science. We have heard a
great deal of recent years respecting technical education in Great
Britain, which many persons suggest is at a very low ebb. For what is
in one sense a new country, Japan seems to have taken steps to provide
an excellent system of technical education. There are a small number
of State higher technical schools, agricultural, commercial, and
industrious. Technical schools of lower grades are maintained by
prefectures and urban bodies, and they receive grants in aid from
national funds. There are in all about four hundred technical schools
in the country. The few facts respecting education in Japan which I
have put as tersely as possible before my readers, should, I think,
convince them of the fact that in regard to this all-important
question Japan has made and is making vigorous efforts--and efforts
all of which are in the right direction. It must be remembered that in
the education of her youth she has to face difficulties which are
altogether unknown in this as in other European countries. One of
these difficulties is the fact that Japanese literature is more or
less mixed up with Chinese literature, and, accordingly, it is
necessary for the Japanese to learn Chinese as well as Japanese
characters, and also to study the Chinese classics. Another difficulty
is the one I touched on in my remarks on the Japanese language, viz.,
the difference between the written and spoken languages of Japan. In
old times the written and spoken languages were no doubt identical,
but Chinese literature influenced the country to so great an extent
that the written language in time became more and more Chinese, while
the spoken dialect remained Japanese. The consequence is that the
written language is more or less a hotch-potch of Chinese characters
and the Japanese alphabet. Whether it will be possible to overcome
these obvious difficulties remains to be seen. Several remedies have
been proposed but none has so far been adopted. One remedy was the use
of the Japanese alphabet alone for the written language, another the
introduction and adoption of the European alphabet. Manifestly the
difficulty of effecting such a change as the adoption of either of
these plans would involve would be enormous. Still the retention of
the present complicated system is without doubt the great obstacle in
the way of educational progress in Japan, and it speaks eloquently for
the patience and pertinacity of the youth of that country that they
have effected so much in so short a time in view of the difficulties
that have had to be encountered.

The strong points of the youth of Japan in the matter of education
are, in my opinion, their great powers of concentration and their
indomitable application to study and perseverance in whatever they
undertake. Of their powers of absorption of any subject there can be
no question. It has been urged, as against this, that the Japanese
possess the defect not uncommon among people of any race, viz., that
the capacity for rapidly assimilating knowledge is to some extent
counteracted or rendered abortive by an incapacity to practically
apply that knowledge. I may say for myself that though I have often
heard this objection urged I have not seen any indications of this
lack of ability to practically apply knowledge on the part of the
Japanese. I should have thought that the Russo-Japanese war would have
afforded ample demonstration of the ability of the Japanese to put to
good account the knowledge they had acquired and assimilated in their
seminaries.

I certainly think that the system of education, as it exists in Japan
to-day, is one not only admirably adapted for the people of that
country, but one from which some Western nations might learn a few
things. Japan has, in her education system, settled the religious
question simply by ignoring it. Her morality as inculcated in every
school in the country, is a purely secular morality. I know that there
are some persons who will deem secular morality a contradiction in
terms. Indeed there are many eminent Japanese who do not approve of
the present system. Count Okuma, for example, one of the ablest men in
the country, bewails the lack of a moral standard. The upper classes
have, he remarks, Chinese philosophy, the great mass of the people
have nothing. In the Western world, he points out, Christianity
supplies the moral standard, while in Japan some desire to return to
old forms, others prefer Christianity; some lean on Kant, others on
other philosophers. Christianity may supply the moral standard in the
Western world, as Count Okuma asserts, but if he has studied recent
politics in a particular part of the Western world, he must have seen
that Christianity in that part is by no means in accord as to the
teaching of religion in its schools, or what moral code, if any,
should be substituted for dogmatic instruction. Perhaps, after all,
Japan has not decided amiss in for the present at any rate deciding
that secular morality shall be the only ethical instruction given
in her schools. That code which she teaches, so far as I have had an
opportunity of studying it, is one which contains nothing that could
be in the slightest degree objected to by the votaries of any
religious system either in the East or in the West.

  [Illustration: AMATEUR CONCHOLOGISTS
      FROM A PRINT BY HIROSHIGE]

Although it has no direct connection with morality, secular or
otherwise, it may be of interest if I give here a synopsis of the
teaching given in Japanese schools in reference to the behaviour of
the pupils towards foreigners. These rules have been collected by an
English newspaper in Japan, and they certainly serve to show that the
youth of Japan are in this matter receiving instruction which, whether
regarded from an ethical standpoint or merely that of good manners,
cannot be too highly commended.

"Never call after foreigners passing along the streets or roads.

"When foreigners make inquiries, answer them politely. If unable to
make them understand, inform the police of the fact.

"Never accept a present from a foreigner when there is no reason for
his giving it, and never charge him anything above what is proper.

"Do not crowd around a shop when a foreigner is making purchases,
thereby causing him much annoyance. The continuance of this practice
disgraces us as a nation.

"Since all human beings are brothers and sisters, there is no reason
for fearing foreigners. Treat them as equals and act uprightly in all
your dealings with them. Be neither servile nor arrogant.

"Beware of combining against the foreigner and disliking him because
he is a foreigner; men are to be judged by their conduct and not by
their nationality.

"As intercourse with foreigners becomes closer and extends over a
series of years, there is danger that many Japanese may become
enamoured of their ways and customs and forsake the good old customs
of their forefathers. Against this danger you must be on your guard.

"Taking off your hat is the proper way to salute a foreigner. The
bending of the body low is not to be commended.

"When you see a foreigner be sure and cover up naked parts of the
body.

"Hold in high regard the worship of ancestors and treat your relations
with warm cordiality, but do not regard a person as your enemy because
he or she is a Christian.

"In going through the world you will often find a knowledge of a
foreign tongue absolutely essential.

"Beware of selling your souls to foreigners and becoming their slaves.
Sell them no houses or lands.

"Aim at not being beaten in your competition with foreigners. Remember
that loyalty and filial piety are our most precious national treasures
and do nothing to violate them."

It seems to me a pity that education on somewhat similar lines to that
embodied in these interesting rules cannot be imparted to the youth of
this and other European countries. It would certainly tend, I think,
in the direction of good manners which are, I fear, sadly lacking in
many of the pupils who have undergone a course of School Board
instruction in England.

A question that may arise in regard to the details of Japanese
education is how far and in what degree do the pertinacity and zeal of
the youth of Japan for knowledge affect their physique. We know that
_mens sana in corpore sano_ is the ideal at which every one concerned
with the education of young people of both sexes ought to strive.
There is no doubt whatever that too close an attention to study of any
kind, too constant an exercise of the mental faculties, unless it is
accompanied by a corresponding exercise of the body, very often has an
injurious effect upon the human frame. Count Okuma, in referring to
this matter, has pointed out that the great difficulty of the
difference between the written and spoken languages is a very serious
tax upon the pupils in all the schools, necessitating, as it does, the
duplicating of their work. So much time, he considers, has to be spent
by them in study on account of this duplicating that it is quite
impossible for students to have sufficient physical exercise, while if
it were decided to devote more time to exercise, the years allotted to
education would have to be lengthened--a fact which must involve a
serious loss in regard to the work of the nation. I do not take quite
such a pessimistic view of the lack of physical education of the youth
of Japan. In the first place, gymnastics form part, an important part,
of the course of instruction in all schools throughout the country,
and in the next place the young people of Japan, so far as I have been
able to arrive at an opinion in the matter, are almost if not quite as
enthusiastic in regard to various forms of outdoor sport as are those
of this country. The buoyancy and enthusiasm of youth are, indeed,
very much the same all over the world. It is only when youth comes to
what are very often erroneously described as years of discretion that
artificiality begins to assert itself. Base-ball, lawn-tennis,
bicycling, and rowing are all extensively patronised by the young men
of Japan, and cricket has of recent years come considerably into
vogue. The students of the Imperial University have not only shown no
disinclination, but, on the contrary, an avidity to combine athletics
with their studies, and in base-ball especially they have more than
held their own against the foreigner. I confess I have no desire to
see the craze for outdoor sports which is so much in evidence in this
country extending to Japan. Some of the public schools in England are
much more famous for their cricket, football, and other teams than for
the education imparted in them. Many a young man leaves those schools
an excellent cricketer or football player, but, from an educational
point of view, very badly equipped for the battle of life. The happy
mean is surely the best in this as in other matters, and I venture to
think that the youth of Japan in regarding education as the essential
matter and outdoor sport as merely a subsidiary one have shown sound
judgment.

In my remarks on education in Japan I have dealt principally with the
schools for boys. I may, however, remark that in the arrangements she
has made for the education of the other sex she has shown the same
thoroughness. In the primary schools the boys and girls are taken in
without any distinction, though separate classes are usually formed.
There are subsequently higher schools for girls. The percentage of the
female sex attending these schools is less than that of the other.
There are in all about seventy-five of these schools in Japan with
some twenty thousand pupils. The course of instruction in them is
moral precepts, Japanese language, a foreign language, history,
geography, mathematics, science, drawing, training for domestic
affairs, cutting-out and sewing, music and gymnastics. I think in
regard to these schools the Japanese authorities have shown sound
judgment in decreeing that music shall not necessarily form part of
the education of every young girl, but may be omitted for those pupils
for whom the art may be deemed difficult. Were a similar rule to be
adopted in this country quite a number of people would be saved a
large amount of unnecessary torture. There is also a higher normal
school for women at Tokio, as likewise an Academy of Music. The Tokio
Jiogakkwan is an institution established by some foreign
philanthropists for the purpose of educating Japanese girls of a
respectable class in Anglo-Saxon attainments. This institution has
between two and three hundred pupils, but I am not in a position to
state what measure of success, if any, it has achieved, nor indeed do
I know what "Anglo-Saxon attainments" are supposed to be. Many of them
I should have thought were quite unsuitable for the ordinary Japanese
girl, tending, as they must, to destroy her national individuality.
There is also a girls' college in Tokio called the Women's University.
It does not confer degrees, but it gives a very high education, and it
is largely patronised.

I stated at the commencement of this chapter that I was of opinion the
provisions and arrangements a nation had made for the education of its
youth were an excellent test of the standard to which its civilisation
has attained. I hope the slight sketch I have given my readers of the
system of education in existence in Japan will enable them to form an
estimate as to the place Japan should occupy if judged by the standard
referred to. In my opinion, seeing that it is less than forty years
since the country passed through a drastic revolution--a revolution
which destroyed all these social forces which had been in existence
and had exercised a tremendous influence on the life of the people for
many centuries--it is, I think, not only extraordinary but highly
creditable to her rulers that Japan should have in that short interval
organised and perfected such a system of education as exists in the
country to-day. Under that system every boy and girl in the land
receives an admirable course of instruction, and is afforded
facilities for still further extending and enlarging that course, and,
if his or her abilities, ambitions, and opportunities incline them
that way, to proceed steadily onward in the acquisition of knowledge,
until they obtain as a coping stone, that final course, in the capital
either at the Imperial University or the Women's University where the
sum of all the knowledge of the world is at the disposal of those who
have the capacity and the aspiration to acquire it.



CHAPTER X

THE JAPANESE ARMY AND NAVY


A work on Japan which did not include some reference to the Army and
Navy would manifestly be incomplete. It is hardly any exaggeration to
assert that nothing in regard to the metamorphosis of Japan has so
impressed the Western mind as the extraordinary progress of its naval
and military forces. Both in this country and on the Continent it was,
of course, known that Japan had been for years evolving both an Army
and Navy, but I imagine most persons thought that this action on her
part was merely a piece of childish extravagance, and that her land
and sea forces would, if they were ever pitted against Europeans,
prove as impotent as Orientals nearly always have proved. I am quite
aware that naval and military experts of various nationalities who had
studied matters on the spot were of a different opinion. They
witnessed the high state of efficiency of both the Japanese Army and
Navy, the patriotic spirit of the officers and men, their enthusiasm
for their work, and that universal feeling of bravery, if it be
bravery, which consists in an absolute contempt of life. Still I
think, even to the experts, the splendid organisation and overwhelming
superiority of Japan in her encounter with China came as somewhat of
a surprise. The complete victory of the Island Nation in that struggle
was, I know, to a certain extent discounted in some quarters by the
stories that were published as to the wretched condition of both the
Chinese Army and Navy, their utter unfitness and unpreparedness for
war, the incompetence and corruption of the officers, and so on. There
were many otherwise well informed persons who felt confident that
though Japan had experienced little or no difficulty in mastering
China, the case would be different when, if ever, she was involved in
war with a European power. I do not think these doubts were prevalent
or indeed present at all, in the minds of the naval and military
authorities. No responsible statesman or official in Japan desired
war. The Japanese are not in any sense a bellicose people. Still, the
statesmen of the country were fully alive to the fact that it might be
necessary to fight for the national existence. They had had experience
in the past of the ambition of Russia to aggrandise herself at the
expense of Japan. They saw, or thought they saw, that Russia had
designs on Korea, and they were determined to frustrate those designs,
and so perhaps obviate in the best manner possible future attempts on
the independence of Japan itself. And hence it came about that serious
efforts were directed to create an Army and Navy strong and efficient.

The creation, or perhaps it would be more correct to say the
reorganisation, of the Army was entrusted, soon after the Revolution
of 1868, to a few European officers, and it has proceeded throughout
on European lines. The task was not so difficult as might have been
expected. In old Japan the terms "soldier" and "Samurai" were
synonymous, and the security of the territory of each of the great
feudal princes depended on the strength of his army. The Continental
system of conscription was adopted and still obtains. All Japanese
males between the ages of 17 and 40 are liable to military service.
The Service is divided into Active, Landwehr, Depôt, and Landsturn
services. The Active service is divided into service with the colours
and service with the first reserve. The former is obligatory for all
who have reached the full age of 20 years, and such service is for a
period of three years. Service in the first reserve is compulsory for
all who have finished service with the colours, and lasts for a period
of four years and four months. The Landwehr reserve is comprised of
those who have finished the first reserve term, and it continues for a
period of five years. The Depôt service is divided into two sections.
The first, which lasts seven years and four months, is made up of
those who have not been enlisted for Active service, while the second,
extending over one year and four months, consists of those who have
not been enlisted for first Depôt service. The Landsturn is in two
divisions--one for those who have completed the term of Landwehr
service and the first Depôt service, and the second for all who are
not on the other services. This system of conscription, of course,
lends itself to criticism, and it has been criticised by the military
experts of great military nations, but on the whole it has been proved
by the experience of the two wars in which Japan has been involved
during the last twelve years to have worked well, and it probably
answers as well as any system that could be devised, the needs of the
country, and the characteristics of the people thereof. The Japanese
are, as these recent wars amply demonstrated, patriotic to a degree.
They not only have great powers of perseverance, but great capacities
for assimilation and adaptation, and are considered by many military
authorities probably the very best raw material in the world out of
which to make soldiers. Conscription may not be an ideal system for
any country. It is, of course, better from one point of view that the
armed forces of a nation should voluntarily enlist rather than be
pressed men. But conscription in Japan has never been, and is not
likely to be, such a burden as is the case among some European
nations. The Japanese idea of patriotism is something totally
different to that which obtains in the West. The late war afforded
ample evidence of that, were any needed.

The war with Russia has been so recently concluded that it is not
necessary to enter at any length into a consideration of the Japanese
Army. The history of that war gave ocular demonstration to the
European nations, however incredulous they may previously have been on
the subject, that Japan was in fact a great military Power. In the
course of that war she put in the field somewhere about 700,000 men,
conveyed them across the sea to a foreign country, and showed
throughout the struggle a capacity for the most wonderful military
organisation. The smallest details were most carefully attended to;
there was an entire absence of that muddle so much in evidence when
European nations are engaged in hostilities. Respecting the fighting
qualities of the Japanese soldier it is hardly necessary to say
anything. On the field of battle or during the long, arduous and
monotonous work of a siege he has shown himself alike a model soldier.
Perhaps he has shone most in the hour of victory by his moderation.
Every foreign officer who saw the work done by the Japanese Army
throughout the various incidents of the Russian War was lost in
admiration. To me the most pleasing feature of that war was the ease
with which the soldier, on coming back to Japan, returned to the
peaceful pursuits of civil life. The bumptious braggadocio that
European military nations have developed has no counterpart in Japan.
The war was, in the estimation of the people, a sacred duty. The
burdens which it entailed were cheerfully borne. The Japanese soldier
bore his hardships or gave up his life equally cheerfully. At the same
time the conclusion of the war came as a relief, and the mass of the
soldiery gladly went through the Japanese equivalent of turning their
swords into ploughshares. Japan has demonstrated that she is a great
military nation, and the organisation of her Army is one that might
well be studied by the military authorities of other countries.

The weak point of the Japanese Army is its cavalry. Whether cavalry in
the warfare of the future will play the important part that it has
played in that of the past is a matter upon which I do not care to
dogmatically pronounce, especially as military authorities are by no
means in agreement in regard thereto, or indeed as to the precise
functions of cavalry in military warfare. The difficulties of Japan in
regard to organising an efficient cavalry have been largely, if not
altogether, owing to the lack of good horses in the country. The
Japanese horses have not been conspicuous for quality, while the
number available has not been anything like sufficient to enable the
cavalry to be brought up to a proper condition of strength and
efficiency. The Japanese military authorities have long been sensible
of this fact, and the late war amply demonstrated it. With its usual
thoroughness, the Government has, as soon as possible after the close
of the war, taken steps to remedy this weak point in its military
system, and quite recently two delegates of the Ministry of
Agriculture have been despatched to Europe on a horse-purchase
mission. Ten million yen have, I understand, been apportioned for the
purpose of improving the national breed of horses, and the delegates
have been instructed to purchase suitable animals for breeding. The
Japanese Government has almost invariably been successful in anything
it has undertaken, and I venture to predict--it is scarcely a
hazardous prophesy--that the horse supply of the country will ere long
be put on a satisfactory footing and the cavalry be rendered as
efficient as every other branch of the Japanese Army.

There is no fear of a military autocracy in Japan. The recent war
proved not only the bravery of the rank and file of the Army, but the
high military talent of the officers. The art of war had evidently
been studied from every point of view, and was diligently applied. The
Japanese talent, in my opinion, consists not in a mere mechanical
copying, but in a practical adaptation of all that is best in Western
civilisation. The tactics and strategy displayed during the war with
Russia showed originality in conception, brilliancy and daring. If
that war did not discover a Napoleon among the Japanese generals, it
can at least be said that Japan has no need of a Napoleon. As I have
said, there is no fear of the development of a military autocracy in
that country or the uprising of a general with Napoleonic ideas and
ambition. The generals who justly earned distinction during the recent
war are singularly modest men, with no capacity for self-advertising
and no desire whatever for self-aggrandisement. They are not only
content but anxious, now that the war is over, to sink into obscurity.
History will, however, not permit of that. Their achievements in the
recent campaign will long afford subject-matter for study and the
instruction of the military students of the future. In this book I
have as far as possible avoided mentioning names, otherwise I would
gladly inscribe on its pages the names of those many generals who
earned fame in the Russo-Japanese War. I feel perfectly certain that
every endeavour will be made to maintain the Japanese Army in the high
state of efficiency it has reached. At the same time I would emphasise
the fact that that Army is intended solely for defence. Japan has, in
a word, no military ambitions outside her own territory.

And as of the Army, so of the Navy. Perhaps the prowess of Japan's
Fleet impressed the English people even more than the victories of her
soldiers. Because the Navy, as it is to-day, is largely the outcome of
English training and the application of English ideas. In the first
instance Japan borrowed from the British Government the services of
some of its best naval officers to develop the Japanese Navy. A naval
college was established in the capital, modelled on the English system
of training. A dockyard was also constructed at Yokosko under French
guidance. It is, however, a mistake to suppose that Japan had no Navy
or no ambitions in the direction of creating one prior to English
naval officers being lent to the Japanese Government to assist in the
reorganisation of the Navy. The determination to create a fleet on
European lines was entertained by Japanese statesmen as far back as
the 'fifties, when the European Powers and the United States of
America were bringing pressure to bear on Japan with a view of
obtaining trading facilities and the opening up of the country
generally. The Japanese statesmen of those days were wise enough to
see that unless Japan was to be permanently under the tutelage of the
European Powers, it was necessary for her to construct a fleet and
army on European lines. Soon afterwards a naval school, under Dutch
instructors, was established at Nagasaki, and a certain number of
selected officers and men were sent to Europe to undergo a course of
instruction, and several war-vessels were ordered from Holland. In
1854 a two-masted ship was built in Japan from an English model, and
subsequently two others. During the war between Russia and Great
Britain a Russian sloop was wrecked on the Japanese coast, and
permission was obtained for Japanese workmen to be employed in the
repairs of the vessel, with a view of giving them an opportunity of
gaining some practical knowledge of naval architecture. In 1855 the
King of Holland presented a steam corvette to the Tycoon. In this year
the now familiar Japanese ensign--a red ball on a white ground--was
introduced, and has since remained the national flag.

On the arrival of Lord Elgin in Japan on a mission in 1857 a sailing
vessel at Nagasaki was flying the flag of an Admiral of the Japanese
Navy. In the same year a steam yacht was presented to the Tycoon by
the late Queen Victoria, and was formally handed over to the Japanese
Government by Lord Elgin. His secretary relates that the yacht got
under way, commanded by a Japanese captain and manned by Japanese
sailors, while her machinery was worked by Japanese engineers. The
secretary, in his account of the incident, relates that
"notwithstanding the horizontal cylinders and other latest
improvements with which her engines were fitted, the men had learnt
their lesson well, and were confident in their powers, and the yacht
steamed gallantly through and round the Fleet, returning to her
anchorage without a hitch." This authoritative statement ought to
dispose of the absurd story which has long been a chestnut among the
English community in Japan and the English naval officers on the China
station, that when the old Confederate Ram, the _Stonewall Jackson_,
was purchased in America and brought to Yokohama a somewhat ludicrous
incident occurred. According to the story, which, I may observe, is
one of the _ben trovato_ order, when steam was got up in the vessel
for trial purposes it had to steam round and about Yokohama Harbour,
to the great danger of the foreign warships and merchant steamers
there, until the steam was in due course exhausted and the machinery
automatically stopped through the lack of any motive power to drive
it, as the Japanese engineer in charge did not know how to shut off
steam. The _Stonewall Jackson_, I may observe, did not take part in
the now almost forgotten battle of Hakodate, which took place at the
time of the Revolution, and may be regarded as the expiring effort of
old Japan to stay the march of events in that country. In the battle
of Hakodate the rebel fleet was totally destroyed, and the various
clans in the country who possessed war-vessels of one kind or other
presented them to the central Government. These vessels, it must be
confessed, were not of much, if any, utility in the direction of
forming a Navy, and I am not aware how many of them, or indeed whether
any of them, were utilised for the purpose of inaugurating that Navy
which has now become world-famous.

In 1858 the naval school, which, as I have already stated, had been
established at Nagasaki, was transferred to Yeddo, and a few years
later the Japanese Government determined to obtain the assistance of
some English naval officers with a view of giving instruction in the
school. Application was accordingly made to the British Government
through the Minister in Yeddo, and the sanction of the Admiralty
having been obtained, a number of English naval officers were
selected, and despatched to Japan as instructors in the Yeddo Naval
College. Amongst these officers, it may be interesting to state, was
Admiral Sir A. K. Wilson, V.C., G.C.B., the late Commander-in-Chief of
the Channel Fleet. In the year 1873 a number of other naval officers
were sent out from England, the previous staff having been withdrawn
on the outbreak of the Civil War. This staff was in charge of Admiral
Sir A. L. Douglas, till recently Commander-in-Chief at Portsmouth, and
for some years subsequently an English naval officer was at the head
of the instructing staff of the college. Japan was fortunate in one
respect--in the Englishmen she entrusted with the evolution of her
Navy. She was fortunate in attracting the men best fitted for the
work, and also in inspiring them with a high conception of their task.
Some Englishmen are of opinion that Japan has somewhat forgotten her
obligations in this matter. Young Japan, they suggest, desires to
forget the influences to which the country mainly owes its present
magnificent fleet. That fleet is undoubtedly, for the most part, the
outcome of English conceptions and English training. There is one man
whose name, I think, deserves to be recorded in connection therewith.
I refer to the late Lieutenant A. G. S. Hawes, of the Royal Marine
Light Infantry, who left the English Service and worked strenuously,
enthusiastically, and earnestly to build up the _personnel_ of the
Japanese Navy in the early 'seventies. There were others whose efforts
in the same direction assisted in that consummation, but Hawes's
services were unique and splendid. He believed in Japan, and he threw
himself into his work with a zeal and ardour which were beyond praise.
His services were dispensed with, as were those of the other English
officers and men, when it was felt that Japan had learnt sufficient to
work out her own destiny as a naval Power. The labours of these men
may not have been adequately recognised at the time, but their work
remains, and is in evidence to-day. Hawes received a decoration from
the Mikado, and the British Government gave him a consular appointment
in some obscure quarter of the globe, where he died a disappointed
man, fully sensible of the value of the work he had performed and
inspired, a firm believer in the future of Japan as a great naval
Power, but disgusted with the non-recognition of his labours.

The Navy of Japan as it is to-day is a triumph of organisation.
Discussing a short time ago the question with an ex-officer of the
Mercantile Marine who had, by a curious chance, served as a Naval
Reserve officer in both the English and Japanese Navies, he explained
to me the wonderful progress of the latter by pointing out that it had
been, as it were, called instantaneously into existence. The Japanese
Navy, he observed, had no past and no traditions to hamper its
development; its officers and administrators had only one desire--to
get the best of everything in modern naval science from anywhere.
There was no cult of seamanship, no dead wall of prejudice to trammel
modern naval developments. There was no prejudice at the Japanese
Admiralty against anything--save stagnation. Progress was the keynote
and watchword of the Japanese Navy. My friend assured me that it was,
as regards equipment, organisation, and general efficiency, the finest
fighting force the world has ever seen. So far as my own knowledge of
the matter goes, and so far as I am competent to express an opinion
on the subject, I fully endorse these observations. A visit to a
Japanese vessel-of-war, however perfunctory the knowledge of the
visitor may be on matters naval, very soon convinces him of the fact
that the Japanese naval officers and men are filled not only with
ardour but enthusiasm for their profession, that efficiency and
proficiency are the watchwords, and that the desire of every one
connected with the Navy, from the Admiral downwards, is to maintain
the _personnel_ and _materiel_ of the Fleet in the highest possible
condition of efficiency.

If, as some Englishmen imagine is the case, there is a tendency on the
part of young Japan to be oblivious of the fact that the Navy of the
country is greatly indebted for its present state of efficiency to the
zeal and efforts of English naval officers in its early days, there is
no question that the feeling of the officers and men of the Japanese
Navy to their English comrades is of a very hearty nature. The formal
alliance with Great Britain was highly popular in the Japanese Fleet,
and I have never heard any officer connected therewith speak in any
but the highest and most cordial terms of their English _confréres_.

It is not, I think, necessary for me to refer to the deeds of and the
work done by the Japanese Navy in the course of the war with Russia;
very much the same remarks that I have made in regard to the Army
apply here. Nothing was lost sight of or omitted that could in the
slightest degree tend to ensure or secure success. Everything seems to
have been foreseen. Nothing was left to chance. The results were
precisely what might have been expected, and what indeed were
expected, by those who had an intimate knowledge of the manner in
which the Japanese Navy was organised for war. I regard it especially
in alliance with the English Fleet, as one of the greatest safeguards
for the peace of the world. I trust the alliance between this country
and Japan may be of a permanent nature. I may remark in respect of the
Fleet, as I have of the Army, that Japan has no unworthy ambitions.
Her desire is to conserve what she possesses and to render her Island
Empire secure from invasion or molestation.

Closely connected with the development of Japan's Navy is that of her
Mercantile Marine. A few words in regard to it may therefore not be
out of place here. The insular position and the mountainous condition
of the country, as well as its extent of seaboard, early impressed on
the makers of new Japan the necessity for creating not only a great
mercantile fleet but also for developing the shipbuilding industry.
Both these ambitions have been largely realised. At first their
consummation was attended with many difficulties. The Japanese, as I
have already remarked in this book, were many centuries ago
enterprising sailors, but when the country was closed voyages of
discovery or trade automatically came to an end. With the awakening of
Japan a change immediately took place, and steps were taken to create
and develop the Mercantile Marine. A Japanese gentleman, Mr. Iwasaki,
in 1872 started a line of steamers, subsidised by the Government, the
well-known Mitsu Bishi Company. Shortly afterwards another company was
formed to compete against it. This line was also subsidised by the
Government, but as the rivalry did not prove profitable to either the
two lines were amalgamated in 1885 under the title of Nippon Yusen
Kaisha. Since then a number of other shipping companies have been
formed in Japan, and the Nippon Yusen Kaisha has largely extended its
operations, opening up communication with Bombay, England, and the
Continent, Melbourne, &c. In fact, the Japanese flag is now seen in
many parts of the world, while the Japanese Mercantile Marine has
advanced by leaps and bounds, and is still annually increasing. At the
end of 1904 there were about 240 steamers flying the Japanese flag,
with a gross tonnage of over 790,000. Japan now ranks high among the
maritime nations of the world, and her position therein, unless I am
very much mistaken, will still further advance in the years to come.

There are, I know, a great number of worthy people, both in this
country and Japan, who regard the expenditure on an Army and Navy as
entirely unproductive, and look forward to the halcyon days when all
such expenditure shall cease and the taxation now devoted to these
purposes shall be diverted to more worthy objects. I am afraid, as the
world is at present constituted, there is no prospect of such a, in
some respects, desirable consummation being effected. Nowadays the
most effective means a nation can possess in the direction of the
maintenance and enjoyment of peace is to be well prepared for war.
That is a fact of which I am sure the men responsible for the
government of Japan are firmly convinced; and I believe they are
right. I am certain, as I have said before, that the world has nothing
to fear from the armed strength of Japan by land or sea.



CHAPTER XI

JAPANESE ART--INTRODUCTORY--LACQUER WARE, POTTERY AND PORCELAIN


Japanese art is a subject which invites exhaustive treatment. To deal
with it adequately in two or three chapters of a general work on Japan
is obviously impossible. Still it is, I think, possible, within the
limits at my disposal, to give my readers some conception of that art
to which Japan is so greatly indebted for the extraordinary way in
which she has impressed the world. The art of Japan is in a sense
unique, and it may be that to some extent the Japanese atmosphere, so
to speak, is essential in order to fully appreciate it. Mr.
Chamberlain, in his "Things Japanese," has observed that "To show a
really fine piece of lacquer to one of the uncultivated natives of
Europe or America is, as the Japanese proverb says, like giving
guineas to a cat." Much the same remark might, however, be made in
reference to the art products of any country. Be that as it may, the
Japanese people are now largely dependent on the foreigner for art
patronage. It may be that this has resulted in art-artisans abandoning
their old standard and devoting themselves to the manufacture of
whatever pays best, prostituting the spirit of art to the promptings
of gain, and compelling the native to cater for foreign taste rather
than to adhere to Japanese canons of art. I am afraid that the
commercial spirit is fatal to art of any kind. The true artist, like
the poet, in an ideal state of existence would only work under
inspiration, but, unfortunately, the artist, like the poet, is daily
faced by that necessity which knows no law and demands the subsistence
of the body as an essential for work of any kind.

Perhaps some of my readers might desire a definition of art. There
are, I know, people in this world who can never approach the
consideration of or deal with any subject unless the subject itself
and every term in connection therewith is precisely defined. In
reference to Japanese art I am inclined to employ the words of Mr.
Walter Crane in opening, many years ago, the annual exhibition of the
Arts and Crafts Society. He remarked: "The true root and basis of all
art lies in the handicrafts. If there is no room or chance of
recognition for really artistic power and feeling in design and
craftsmanship--if art is not recognised in the humblest object and
material, and felt to be as valuable, in its own way, as the more
highly rewarded pictorial skill--the art cannot be in a sound
condition. And if artists cease to be found among the crafts, there is
great danger that they will vanish from the arts also, and become
manufacturers and salesmen instead."

Japanese art is unquestionably of that kind which requires a certain
educational process. It does not, for instance, at once appeal to that
vague entity the "man in the street." There is a grotesqueness about
some of it, a lack of perspective in much of it, which is caviare to a
large number of persons. This much, however, can be said about
Japanese art--that it is original. It is almost altogether the outcome
of the artistic instincts of the people. Undoubtedly it has been to a
large extent influenced by Buddhism, and, as we have seen, Buddhism is
a foreign religion; but at the same time I think it may fairly be
asserted that, though the Buddhist religion may have influenced and
utilised Japanese art, it has never killed, or indeed affected to any
degree, what I may term the individualistic artistic instincts of the
nation. Japanese art requires to be closely studied. It is something
that grows upon one, and the closer it is studied the greater its
influence. To me one of its most pleasing features is what I have
termed in the Preface its catholicity. It is not, as art is in so many
European countries, the cult of a few, a sort of Eleusynian mystery
into which a select number of persons have been initiated. It has, on
the contrary, permeated, and exercised an influence upon, the whole
nation, and been employed for even the most humble purposes. It is for
this reason that, as I have previously observed, I am of opinion the
Japanese may be considered and described as the most artistic people
in the world.

I have referred to the grotesqueness and lack of perspective
incidental to some descriptions of Japanese art. It certainly neglects
chiaroscuro and linear perspective, and it displays an entire lack of
form knowledge. The human figure and face have apparently never been
studied at all. The colouring is frequently splendid, while the
figures are for the most part anatomically incorrect. One would think
that Japanese artists had never seen their own or any other human
bodies. A rigid adherence to conventionality is, in my opinion, a
defect of all Japanese art. By conventionality I do not, of course,
mean what I may term the individuality of the art itself, but the
fact that Japanese artists have felt themselves largely bound by the
traditions of their art to treat the human and other figures not in
accordance with nature, but altogether in accordance with the
conventions of that art, and to entirely ignore perspective. I am
quite aware that some enthusiastic lovers of things Japanese admire,
or affect to admire, these defects. They have been described as a
protest against the too rigid rules exacted in Western art. I suggest,
however, that art in its highest form should seek to be true to
nature, and in so far as Japanese art fails in this respect it is, I
think, defective. At the same time I cordially admit that its defects
are more than compensated by its splendid workmanship, its gorgeous
colouring, and its striking originality.

It was only about forty or fifty years ago that Japanese art became
known to any extent in Europe. Certainly the Portuguese missionaries
introduced by Francis Xavier and the traders in the Dutch factory at
Nagasaki were in the habit of exporting a few articles to Europe,
chiefly porcelain ware made to order. I fear both missionaries and
merchants regarded Japanese art, as we now know it, as barbaric, and
never in the slightest degree realised either its beauties or its
originality. Neither they nor the many millions of art-lovers in
Europe dreamt that Japan was a country where art was universal, not
esoteric--an art with schools, traditions, masters, and masterpieces.
Probably the Paris Exhibition of 1867, to which the Prince of Satsuma
sent a collection of Japanese artistic treasures, was the occasion
when the true inwardness of Japanese art burst upon the Western world
as a whole. It was a veritable revelation. It at once aroused
enthusiasm and curiosity, and I fear cupidity, among European artists
and art collectors. Europe was awakened to the possibilities of Japan
as an art nation, and Japan, failing to realise or properly appreciate
the artistic accumulated wealth it possessed, commenced to part with
it in a truly reckless manner. The depletion of the art treasures of
the country commenced about this time, and though that depletion has
been largely arrested, it is nevertheless still, to some extent, going
on.

Japanese art, as it has come under the cognisance of a foreigner, may
be considered in connection with four or five purposes to which it has
been employed or adapted. First amongst these I place lacquer, next
pottery and porcelain, then carving in wood and iron, metal-work and
painting. The lacquer industry has been in existence in Japan so long
as we have any authoritative history of the country. If any credence
is to be given to tradition, long before the Christian era there was
an official whose sole duty it was to superintend the production of
lacquer for the Imperial Court, and specimens over a thousand years
old, though rare, still exist. The process of lacquering is a somewhat
intricate one, and varies, of course, in accordance with the time and
labour spent on the article to be lacquered, and the cost of the same.
After the article has been carefully made from specially selected
wood--in the case of the choicest specimens of lacquer work this is
usually a pine-wood of fine grain--it is first coated with a
preparation composed of clay and varnish, which, after being permitted
to dry, is smoothed down with a whetstone. When this operation has
been concluded, the article proposed to be lacquered is covered with
some substance, either silk, cloth, or paper. It is then given from
one to five coats of the foregoing mixture, each coat being permitted
to dry before the next is applied. After this has been effected, the
whetstone is again employed with a view of obtaining a perfectly
smooth surface when the lacquering proper commences. This may be a
perfunctory or it may be a very complicated operation, according to
the value of the article, layer after layer of the varnish--from one
to fifty coats--being laid upon the material at intervals. After the
final coat has been applied, the smoothing process commences. The
whole of these operations are, however, only the preliminaries to the
scheme of decoration, which is often very elaborate. The dusts of
powders used for this purpose are of various kinds and of varying
cost. When the ornamentation which often consists in colouring the
groundwork with particles of gold dust has been completed, sometimes
as many as a dozen coatings of transparent lacquer are imposed upon
the same.

The art of lacquering in Japan dates back at least 1,200 or 1,300
years, and tradition assigns it a period more ancient still. There
are, however, few if any articles of lacquer ware now in the country,
whose origin can be traced back so many years. At any rate, there is
no satisfactory evidence in regard to the antiquity of any specimens
of lacquer ware dating back more than seven or eight centuries. In old
Japan the manufacturer of lacquer work was intimately associated with
the domestic life of the upper classes. Griffis tells us that nearly
every Daimio had his Court lacquerer, and that a set of household
furniture and toilet utensils was part of the dowry of a noble lady.
On the birth of a daughter, he relates, it was common for the lacquer
artist to begin the making of a mirror case, a washing bowl, a
cabinet, a clothes rack, or a chest of drawers, often occupying from
one to five whole years on a single article. An inro, or pill-box,
might require several years for perfection, though small enough to go
into a fob. By the time the young lady was marriageable, her outfit of
lacquer was superb.

The names of many of the great lacquer artists of Japan are still
venerated. The masterpieces of Hoyami Koyetsu who flourished in the
sixteenth century, are still, though rare, procurable. Japan numbers
on her roll of fame twenty-eight great lacquer artists. There have,
of course, been many hundreds, and indeed thousands, in the past
centuries whose work was superb, but the twenty-eight are deemed to
be the immortals of this particular art. One of these great men,
Ogawa Ritsuo, is famous for the number and variety of the
materials--mother-of-pearl, coral, tortoise-shell, &c. &c., he used
in his work. A profuse richness is its chief characteristic. One of
his pupils imitated in his work various materials--pottery and
wood-carving, and bronzes. The last famous artist in lacquer,
Watanobe Tosu, died about thirty years ago. Whether he is destined
to have a successor or successors remains to be seen. These lacquer
artists, as I have indicated, worked not for lucre, but for love.
Attached to some Daimios household, they devoted their lives, their
energies, their imagination, their artistic instincts to the
devising of splendid work and the making of beautiful, ingenious,
absolutely artistic and, at the same time, entirely useful articles.

It is impossible within the space at my disposal to deal in detail
with the large variety of lacquer work produced in Japan with the
various kinds of lacquer, or with what I may term the artistic
idiosyncrasies of Japanese lacquer work. One can now hardly believe
that until the opening up of Japan half a century or so ago, few
specimens of lacquer found their way to Europe, although Japanese
porcelain had been largely imported and was highly prized. Even at
the present time I do not think that the artistic beauties of Japanese
lacquer work have been appreciated in this country to anything like
the extent they deserve to be. I have heard people remark, for
example, that they failed to understand the perpetual reproduction of
the great snow-covered mountain Fusi-Yama in Japanese designs, while
they could see nothing in these storks, bewildering landscapes, and
grotesque figures. Perhaps the best explanation of the constant
appearance of Fusi-Yama in all Japanese work is that which De
Fonblanque gives. He says: "If there is one sentiment universal
amongst all Japanese, it is a deep and earnest reverence for their
sacred mountain. It is their ideal of the beautiful in nature, and
they never tire of admiring, glorifying, and reproducing it. It is
painted, embossed, carved, engraved, modelled in all their wares. The
mass of the people regard it not only as the shrine of their dearest
gods, but the certain panacea for their worst evils, from impending
bankruptcy or cutaneous diseases to unrequited love or ill-luck at
play. It is annually visited by thousands and thousands of pilgrims."
The Japanese artist in constantly reproducing Fusi-Yama has merely
voiced national sentiment and feeling.

  [Illustration: VIEW OF FUSI-YAMA FROM A TEA HOUSE
      FROM A PRINT BY HIROSHIGE]

The substance applied to wood to produce what is called lacquer, is
not what is generally known in England as varnish. It is really the
sap of the _rhus vernicifera_ which contains, among other ingredients,
about 3 per cent. of a gum soluble in water. It has to undergo various
refining processes before being mixed with the colouring matter, while
the greatest care is exercised throughout with a view of obviating the
possibility of dust or any other foreign matter finding its way into
the mixture. The fine polish usually seen on lacquer work is not
actually the result of the composition applied, but is produced by
incessant polishing. The lacquered articles in old Japan were used for
various purposes--mirror cases, fans, letter-carriers, the inro, which
was at one time a necessary part of every Japanese gentleman's attire;
it was secured to the sash, and utilised to hold medicine powders, for
perfumes, as a seal-box, &c., seals being at one time, as indeed they
are to some extent still, in use in place of a signature. But the
amount of ancient lacquer ware now in Japan, or, indeed, of artistic
articles made solely for use and not merely to sell, is, as I have
said, small. European collectors have denuded the country; the
treasures of the Daimios, which were almost recklessly sold when they
were disestablished, and to a large extent disendowed, have been
distributed all over the globe, and a large quantity, perhaps the
largest quantity, of the lacquer work now made in the country is
manufactured solely for the purpose of being sold as curios either at
home or abroad. That this fact has largely lowered the artistic ideals
and debased the artistic taste in Japan appears to be the general
opinion. Much of the present-day work of Japan in lacquer, as in other
articles, is certainly to my mind artistic and beautiful in the
extreme, but obviously, men working almost against time to turn out
"curios," for which there is a persistent demand on the part of
visitors who are not always by temperament or training fitted to
appreciate the artistic or the beautiful, are unlikely to produce such
fine or original work as the artisan of old leisurely employed at his
craft and pluming himself, not on the amount of his earnings or the
extent of his output, but on the quality and artistic merits of his
work.

Next to lacquer in importance amongst the Japanese arts, I think,
comes ceramic ware, which has long had a great vogue in Europe, and
indeed was highly prized here many years before the artistic skill of
the Japanese in lacquer was generally known. That decorative art, as
expressed in the pottery and porcelain of Japan, has been largely
influenced by China and Korea seems to be unquestionable. The Japanese
have nevertheless imparted to it a peculiar charm of their own, the
outcome of originality in ideas, while the art has, through many
centuries, been fortunate enough to have been fostered and encouraged
by the great and powerful of the land. As a people the Japanese are
entirely free from anything that savours of ostentation, and this fact
is emphasised in their art just as it is in their homes. The charm of
the ceramic ware of Japan, in my opinion, consists in the beauty of
its colouring rather than in its figuring. This ceramic ware, as my
readers probably know, differs greatly in appearance, quality, and, I
may add, in price according to the particular part of the country in
which it is produced. It is not necessary to be an art connoisseur to
grasp the fact that, say, the famous Satsuma ware is distinct in
almost every respect from that of Imari, Kaga, Ise, Raku, Kyoto, &c.
All these different wares have charms peculiar to each. It is really
marvellous to think that a country with such a comparatively small
area as Japan should have produced so many different kinds of ceramic
ware, each possessing distinct and pronounced characteristics, and
having indeed little affinity with each other save in regard to the
general excellence of the workmanship and the artistic completeness of
the whole.

As I have said, both Korea and China have had a marked influence on
the manufacture of pottery and porcelain in Japan. Korean potters
appear to have settled there prior to the Christian era, and to have
imparted to the Japanese the first rudiments of knowledge in regard to
working in clay, but the development of the process was greatly due to
Chinese influences. During the thirteenth century, one Toshiro paid a
visit to China, where he exhaustively studied everything relating to
the potter's art. On his return to his own country he introduced great
improvements, both in manufacture and decoration, and made, it is
believed, for the first time, glazed pottery. Soon afterwards
household utensils of lacquer began to go out of use, being replaced
by those made of clay, and a great impetus was accordingly given to
the trade of the potter. Tea, which is believed to have been
introduced into Japan from China in the year 800 does not appear to
have come into general use till the sixteenth century. The "tea
ceremonies" known as the Cha-no-yu came into vogue about the same
time, and undoubtedly had an immense influence on the ceramic art. The
articles used in the "tea ceremonies" included an iron kettle resting
on a stand; a table or stand of mulberry wood 2 feet high; two
tea-jars containing the tea; a vessel containing fresh water; a
tea-bowl. It is not my purpose to describe the many interesting
details of these "tea ceremonies." Suffice it to observe that they
gave a great impetus to the manufacture of costly and elaborate china.
The leaders of society, as we should term them, who took part in these
ceremonies exercised a judicious and enlightened patronage of the
ceramic art. They encouraged rising talent, and welcomed new
developments. There can, I think, be no doubt that Japan, in an
artistic sense, owes much to the frequenters of these "tea
ceremonies." Tea-jars and tea-bowls especially became, under the
patronage and guidance of these men, choice works of art, and were
bestowed by the great and powerful on their friends, by whom they were
greatly cherished and handed down as heirlooms. Some of these
treasures still remain in the country, a large number have been
purchased by art connoisseurs and taken to various parts of the world,
while many, of course, have from various causes perished. Under the
conditions of life which obtained in old Japan the ceramic art reached
a pitch of excellence, not to say glory, which it is never likely to
attain either in Japan or elsewhere. It was emphatically a period of
art for art's sake. The patronage, if I may use a word perhaps not
strictly accurate, of the great artists of those days was exercised in
such a manner as to enable them to employ all their talents, artistic
ideals, and enthusiasm in the direction of producing masterpieces of
their craft.

The secrets of porcelain manufacture are believed to have been brought
to Japan from China about the beginning of the sixteenth century. In
the year 1513, Gorodayu, Shonsui, of Ise, returned from China and
settled in Arita, in the province of Hizen, which at once became and
still remains the headquarters of the famous Imari ware. The porcelain
produced here is chiefly, but not altogether, the blue and white
combination, but Arita also makes porcelain ware decorated in various
colours and exceedingly ornate in appearance. It is, however, stated
that this ornate Imari ware was first made for exportation to China to
supply the Portuguese market at Macao, and that it was afterwards
fostered by the Dutch at Nagasaki, whose exportations of the ware to
Europe were on a considerable scale. This peculiar style of decoration
is believed to have been due to the demands of the Dutch, whose
patrons in Europe would have none other. One remark I may make in this
connection, viz., that those enormous vases and other similar articles
of Japanese ware which have long been so greatly prized in Europe, and
many of which are magnificent specimens of decorative art, are not, in
one sense, characteristically Japanese. The Japanese has always, if I
may so express it, used art as the handmaiden of utilitarianism. Every
article intended for the Japanese home had to be not merely a thing of
beauty but a thing for use. It never entered the minds of the Japanese
to hang beautiful specimens of their porcelain ware on their walls, or
what did duty for walls, to collect dust. They used vases certainly of
a moderate size to hold flowers, tea-pots and tea-cups for the purpose
of making and drinking tea, water-bottles and various other articles
for domestic use; everything in fact was, as I have said, designed not
only from an artistic but a utilitarian standpoint, and hence it is, I
think, that art, as I have already remarked, has permeated the whole
people. Even in the poorest house in Japan it is possible to see, in
the ordinary articles in domestic use, some attempt at art, and, I may
add, some appreciation of it on the part of the users of those
articles. In my opinion when art is not applied to articles of general
utility but is confined to articles not intended for use, art becomes,
as is largely the case in this country, either the cult of a class or
the affectation of a class, and its beauties and inward meaning cease
to have any effect upon, just because they are not understood by, the
great mass of the people.

Satsuma ware is probably the most widely known, and the most esteemed
among foreigners, of Japanese porcelain. Its soft, cream-like colour
is now known in every part of the world, while the delicate colour
decorations imposed upon the cream-like background, certainly give a
most effective appearance. I question however whether, from a purely
artistic standpoint, Satsuma is worthy of being compared with many of
the other porcelains in Japan. Much of it as seen in Europe was
specially made for Europe, and having been so is, I suggest, not in
the true sense artistic. As a matter of fact Satsuma ware was
introduced from Korea, and was made in the first instance solely for
the use of the Prince of Satsuma and his friends. The kilns were
originally built on Korean models, and the potters in Satsuma remained
a class apart, not being allowed to marry with the outside world.

Kaga ware is well known to all art connoisseurs. This porcelain is
rare. The masters of the art of Kaga ware, with its exquisite
colouring and elaborate ornamentation in gold and silver, have left no
successors, while their output was small. The ware is of course still
made, and as the clay of the district is of a dark red colour, the
ware has a uniform tint.

Bizen ware reached the apotheosis of its perfection just before the
Revolution. It is made in the province of Bizen. The better kind is
made of a white or light bluish clay, and well baked in order to
receive the red-brown colour, whereas the commoner kind is of a red
clay.

The various Kyoto wares are remarkable for their quaint forms, and
some of them are highly prized.

It would, of course, be impossible for me to attempt in detail a
description of the other very numerous ceramic wares of Japan.
Undoubtedly, as I have said, Satsuma is the most popular with
Europeans, but it is not, and I do not think it deserves to be, the
most highly prized by art connoisseurs. The ceramic wares of Japan may
be classified under three headings: (1) Pottery, ornamented by
scoring and glazing; (2) A cream-coloured faience with a glaze often
crackled and delicately painted; (3) Hard porcelain. Under the first
of these classifications may be included Bizen, Seto, Raku, and some
other wares. Under the second I place Satsuma and some less important
similar products. Among the porcelains the most famous are those of
Kutania, Hizen, and Kyoto. In regard to decorations, the Japanese have
utilised the seven gods of good fortune, many landscapes, a few of the
domestic animals--the dragon, phoenix, an animal with the body and
hoofs of a deer, the tail of a bull, and with a horn on its forehead,
a monster lion, and the sacred tortoise. Trees, plants, grasses, and
flowers of various kinds, and some of the badges in Japanese heraldry
are also largely made use of. However grotesque some of these objects
may be, or however grotesque the representations of animals and even
landscapes may be, no one who has closely studied it can deny the fact
that the effect of Japanese decorative art as applied to the ceramic
ware of the country is, on the whole, magnificent. The more one
studies it the more impressed one is with its marvellous beauty and
the originality which has been brought to bear upon it. I defy any man
or woman, who possesses the artistic sensibilities, even in a latent
degree, to visit a gallery containing the masterpieces of Japanese
ceramic art, closely study them in all their details, and minutely
examine the attention which the artist has given to even the smallest
of those details without being impressed by its power. It is, I
consider, a liberal education to any person who has the slightest
prepossession for art to wander through such a gallery and admire the
masterpieces of these wonderful art-workers of Japan.

The demand for the various art products of Japan in both Europe and
America has had its perhaps inevitable result in not only the
manufacture of articles simply and solely for the foreign market, but
in the what I may term faking of modern to represent ancient art
productions. "Old" Satsuma, for example, is a case in point. The
genuine old Satsuma ware, by constant use, obtained, like meerschaum,
a delightful tint. Modern Satsuma is comparatively white, and so, in
order to pander to the taste of the European collector of the ancient
article, the modern is stained to the required shade. The article
itself is genuine, and indeed beautiful, but this "faking" of it to
meet European and American tastes is one of the results, I fear, of
Western influences. What the precise effect of European influences may
be on the old porcelain art of Japan it is impossible to say. So far
as I am concerned, I have no hesitation in expressing my own opinion
that it will not be a healthy influence. Art for art's sake is, I
admit, difficult when the plutocrats of the West, with a craze or a
fad for Eastern art, are pouring out their wealth in order to obtain
specimens thereof. Demand usually induces supply, and the Japanese
artisan of to-day would be more than human did he not respond to the
demand of the West for "Old Satsuma" and other specimens of the
artistic treasures in pottery and porcelain of Japan. The spirit of
commercialism is, as I have said before, fatal to art. If the artist
is forced to work quickly and cheaply he quite evidently cannot bring
his individuality into play. He must transform his studio into a
workshop, and ponder only, or chiefly, upon the possibility of his
output. I have been much struck in this connection with the remarks of
a writer in regard to orders for art work sent from New York to Japan.
"I can remember," he said, "one of our great New York dealers
marking on his samples the colours that pleased most of his buyers,
who themselves were to place the goods. All other colours or patterns
were tabooed in his instructions to the makers in Japan. This was the
rude mechanism of the change, the coming down to the worst public
taste, which must be that of the greatest number at any time."

  [Illustration: KUTANI EARTHENWARE, DECORATED WITH POLYCHROME ENAMELS
      EARLY EIGHTEENTH CENTURY]

  [Illustration: INCENSE BURNER
      AWATA FAYENCE. EIGHTEENTH CENTURY]

As regards the modern porcelain of Japan I need say but little.
Originality is apparently dead, and the makers of to-day are content
to copy the past. No doubt the purely mechanical processes of
manufacture have been greatly improved, and much, if not most, of the
modern ceramic ware of Japan is extremely beautiful. At the same time
some of it, especially that which is made solely for the foreign
market, is to my mind neither artistic nor beautiful. It is decorated,
if I may use such a term, in most of the colours of the rainbow, and
rendered more gaudy still by a plethora of very poor gilding.

There is in Japan a certain school of progressive ideas in reference
to the art of the country. This school is of opinion that Japanese art
should not, so to speak, remain stereotyped, but that it should
assimilate and adapt and apply all that is good and beautiful in
Western art. The objects that this school has in view are no doubt
laudable, but I confess I hope with all my heart that those objects
will fail of accomplishment. There has been already far too much
Europeanising of Japanese art, and the result, so far as I have been
able to judge, is not encouraging in respect of any further advance or
development in that direction. Japanese art, and especially the
ceramic art, possesses, as I have before said, an individuality which
can only be spoiled, even if it be not destroyed, by adding on to or
mixing up with it the totally distinct art and art methods of Western
civilisation. Were this done it would become a bastard or a mongrel
art, and, as history affords abundant evidence, would in due course
lapse into a condition of utter decadence.

Quite a volume might be written on the subject of marks on Japanese
pottery and porcelain. These have long interested and frequently
misled the collector. They are of various kinds. Sometimes there is a
mark signifying the reign or part of the reign of an emperor, or the
name of a place at which the article was made, or, more frequently
still, the name of the particular potter whose handicraft it was.
Sometimes Chinese dates are found impressed on the article without any
regard to chronological correctness. Indeed, Chinese dates are to be
found on Japanese porcelain indicating a period long anterior to that
in which the manufacture of porcelain was known in Japan. These
spurious dates have proved pitfalls for collectors. The mark is
sometimes impressed with a seal or painted; occasionally it is merely
scratched. The investigation of these marks is a recondite study
assuredly full of interest, but, as I have said, prolific in pitfalls
for the unwary or the too-credulous.



CHAPTER XII

JAPANESE ART (_continued_)--SCULPTURE--METAL WORK--PAINTING


Probably of all the Japanese arts there is none more interesting or
instructive than that of sculpture in wood and ivory. The sculpture of
Japan undoubtedly had its origin in the service of the Buddhist
religion. That religion, as I have attempted to show, has always
utilised art in the decoration of its temples and shrines as well as
in the perpetuation of the image of Buddha himself. At the beginning
of the seventeenth century an edict was promulgated directing that
every house should contain a representation of Buddha, and, as the
result of this, the sculpture trade received a considerable impetus.
Tobacco was introduced into the country in the same century, and the
smoking thereof soon came greatly into vogue among the Japanese
people. Tobacco necessitated a pouch or bag to contain the same, and
this in turn induced or produced the manufacture of something
wherewith to attach the bag to the girdle. Hence the evolution of the
netsuké, now as famous in Europe as in Japan. The carving of netsukés
developed into a very high art; indeed, there is perhaps no branch of
Japanese art which has aroused more enthusiasm among foreign
collectors and connoisseurs. Quite recently I attended a sale of
netsukés in London at which the bidding was both fast and furious,
while the prices realised were enormous. The netsuké, strictly
speaking, was the toggle attached by a cord to the tobacco pouch,
inro, or pipe of the Japanese man, with the object of preventing the
article slipping through the girdle or sash, but the word has been
more loosely employed by foreigners until, in popular parlance, it has
come to embrace all small carvings. Netsukés were nearly always
representations of the human figure, and various reasons have been
advanced to account for this fact. I need not consider those reasons
in these pages, as they, as well as the arguments by which they are
attempted to be supported, are almost entirely speculative. The
distinguishing characteristic of the true netsuké is two holes
admitting of a string being run through them. These holes were often
concealed behind the limbs of the figure. The material of which
netsukés were made varied, and consisted of ivory, wood horns,
fish-bones, and stones of various kinds. Those made of wood are
undoubtedly the most ancient, ivory being of comparatively recent
importation into Japan. Nevertheless, the netsukés made of ivory now
command the highest price. The names of many of the great
netsuké-makers are still famous, and much of their work is certainly
artistic and beautiful to a degree. I am afraid that in the collecting
of netsukés many European lovers of Japanese art have burnt their
fingers. The genuine old artistic productions are now extremely rare,
but a brisk trade has sprung up in reproductions which are skilfully
coloured to give them the appearance of age. The netsuké, I must
reiterate, was an almost indispensable adjunct to the costume of
every Japanese man, and it was, accordingly, made for use and not for
ornament alone. Of late years wood and ivory sculpture in Japan has
largely degenerated and deteriorated owing to the output of articles
not of utility, but made for the foreign market--"curios," in fact.

No one who has visited Japan can have failed of being impressed by
those gigantic statues of Buddha which have been erected in different
parts of the country. The largest and best known is the Dai Butsu, at
Kamakura, a few miles from Yokohama. The height of this great statue
is nearly 50 feet, in circumference it is 97 feet. The length of the
face is 8 feet 5 inches, the width of mouth 3 feet 2 inches, and it
has been asserted--though I do not guarantee the accuracy of the
calculation--that there are 830 curls upon the head, each curl 9
inches long. The statue is composed of layers of bronze brazed
together. It is hollow, and persons can ascend by a ladder into the
interior. The Dai Butsu at Nara is taller than the one at Kamakura. It
is dissimilar to most of the others in the country in having a black
face of a somewhat African type. This image is stated to have been
erected in the year 750 A.D., and the head has, I believe, been
replaced several times. In the Kamakura Dai Butsu both hands rest upon
the knees, while in the one at Nara the right arm is extended upward
with the palm of the hand placed to the front. The statue at Nara is
made of bronze which is stated to be composed of gold 500, mercury
1,950, tin 16,827, and copper 986,080 lbs., the total weight of the
statue being about 480 tons. Nearly all the Dai Butsus in the country
are of ancient workmanship. There is a modern one constructed of wood
erected in the year 1800 at Kyoto, 60 feet high. As a work of art it
has, however, no pretensions, which rest entirely upon its size.

Criticisms in regard to the artistic merits of these immense images
have been numerous and by no means unanimous. To my mind they are
superb specimens of the work of the old metallurgists of Japan, and
they are, moreover, deeply interesting as indicative of the ideas of
their designers in regard to the expression of placid repose of
Nirvana. Mr. Basil Chamberlain has appositely remarked in reference to
the great statue at Kamakura: "No other gives such an impression of
majesty or so truly symbolises the central idea of Buddhism, the
intellectual calm which comes of perfected knowledge and the
subjugation of all passion." And Lafcadio Hearn, that learned
authority on everything Japanese, who has brought into all his
writings a poetical feeling which breathes the very spirit of old
Japan, has observed in regard to the same statue: "The gentleness, the
dreamy passionlessness of those features--the immense repose of the
whole figure--are full of beauty and charm. And, contrary to all
expectations, the nearer you approach the giant Buddha the greater the
charm becomes. You look up into the solemnly beautiful face--into the
half-closed eyes, that seem to watch you through their eyelids of
bronze as gently as those of a child; and you feel that the image
typifies all that is tender and solemn in the soul of the East. Yet
you feel also that only Japanese thought could have created it. Its
beauty, its dignity, its perfect repose, reflect the higher life of
the race that imagined it, and, though inspired doubtless by some
Indian model, as the treatment of his hair and various symbolic marks
reveal, the art is Japanese.

"So mighty and beautiful is the work that you will for some time fail
to notice the magnificent lotus plants of bronze, fully 15 feet high,
planted before the figure on another side of the great tripod in which
incense rods are burning."

Kaemfer, writing in the seventeenth century, remarked of the Japanese:
"As to all sorts of handicraft, they are wanting neither proper
materials nor industry and application, and so far is it that they
should have any occasion to send for masters abroad, that they rather
exceed all other nations in ingenuity and neatness of workmanship,
particularly in brass, gold, silver, and copper." In metal work the
Japanese have certainly cultivated art to a high degree. Much of that
metal work was, of course, employed in connection with articles which
modern conditions of life in Japan have rendered absolutely or almost
entirely obsolete. The bronze workers of Japan were and indeed are
still famous. Their work as displayed in braziers, incense-holders,
flower-vases, lanterns, and various other articles evinces great
skill, while the effects often produced by the artists in the inlaying
and overlaying of metals with a view of producing a variegated picture
has long been the wonder and admiration of the Western world. It is
almost safe to assert that the finest specimens of work of this kind
can never be reproduced. In casting, too, there was no lack of skill
in old Japan. The big bell at Kyoto, which is 14 feet high by over 9
feet in diameter, is a sufficient object-lesson as to the proficiency
attained in casting in bygone days. Much of the bronze work of Japan,
especially in birds and insects, is to me incomparable. The modern
bronze work of the country, though certainly beautiful, does not in
any respect or any degree approach that of the masters of two or three
hundred years ago. In the manipulation of metals and amalgams these
men have reached a higher standard of perfection than had previously
or has since been attained. The bronze work of Japan is not, in my
opinion, as generally appreciated as it deserves to be. There is, I
think, nothing of the same kind in the world to be compared with it
when it was at its best. Like much of the other art of Japan modern
conditions are, as I have said, not conducive either to its progress
or development. Still, there is no lack of skill in this particular
branch of art in Japan at the present time, and I have seen some very
admirable, not to say magnificent, specimens of modern bronze work.

  [Illustration: BRONZE INCENSE-BURNER AND SMALL FLOWER-VASE
      EIGHTEENTH CENTURY]

Armour is now nearly as effete in Japan as in this country, and yet in
the decoration of armour the Japanese artist in metal was in the past
not only skilful but beautiful. Fine specimens of armour are now
extremely rare. That particular kind of work has, of course, gone
never to return. Next in importance to armour came the sword. Some of
us can remember when the two-sworded men of Japan were still
actualities, not, as they have now become, historical entities, the
terror of the foreign community there. The sword was an important and,
indeed, an essential weapon in the conditions of society that obtained
in old Japan, not only for self-defence but for offensive purposes,
either in respect of family feuds or individual quarrels, which were
almost invariably settled by the arbitrament of the sword. That weapon
was also used for those suicides known as hara-kiri, the outcome of
wounded honour or self-respect, which were such prominent features in
the Japanese life of the past. Some Western writers have attempted to
poke a mild kind of fun at this proneness of the Japanese for the
"happy despatch" on what seemed to the writers very flimsy or trivial
grounds. To me, on the contrary, the practice of hara-kiri,
indefensible as it may be in some respects, indicates the existence of
a high code of honour, the slightest infringement of which rendered
life intolerable. The sword then had innumerable functions, and, like
almost every article of utility in Japan, it became the subject of
elaborate ornamentation. The blade itself was brought to a high state
of perfection, and as regards the tempering of the steel has been the
admiration of cutlers in every part of the globe. Indeed the
sword-makers of Japan are famous from the tenth century downwards.
Many of the sword-blades had mottoes inscribed on them, and most had
designs ornate and often elaborate. The accessories of the blade and
the ornamentation thereof lent full scope for that artistic adornment
which has for ages past, as I have more than once remarked, been
characteristic of almost every article used in Japan. The wearing of
the sword was confined to persons of a certain rank, and different
classes wore different kinds of swords. About the sixteenth century
the custom of wearing two swords, one large, the other about the size
of a dirk, came into fashion. The two-handed sword was essentially a
war sword. The colour of the scabbard was almost invariably black with
a tinge of red or green, and it was in most instances beautifully
lacquered. The possessor of a sword gave full vent to his tastes in
regard to the size and decoration of his weapon. According to Griffis:
"Daimios often spent extravagant sums upon a single sword and small
fortunes upon a collection. A Samurai, however poor, would have a
blade of sure temper and rich mountings, deeming it honourable to
suffer for food that he might have a worthy emblem of his rank." On
January 1, 1877, the wearing of swords was abolished by an Imperial
decree, and foreigners visiting or resident in Japan in that and the
following years were able to pick up magnificent swords for a few
dollars each.

I have not space to describe in detail the many accessories which went
to form the complete sword for the strong man armed in old Japan, or
the elaborate and artistic ornamentation of every detail. In many of
the small pieces of metal work which adorned the swords gold, silver,
platina, copper, iron, steel, zinc, besides numerous alloys were used.
The abolition of sword-wearing gave a death-blow to the industry in
connection with the making of swords except in so far as it has been
continued for the purpose of turning them out for the European market.
But during the many centuries the art of metal work, as exemplified in
sword manufacture and the ornamentation of the sword and the various
accessories of it, existed in Japan it reached a magnificent height of
perfection. Dealing only with one period of it a French writer has
remarked: "What a galaxy of masters illuminated the close of the
eighteenth century! What a multitude of names and works would have to
be cited in any attempt to write a monograph upon sword furniture! The
humblest artisan, in this universal outburst of art, is superior in
his mastery of metal to any one we could name in Europe. How many
artists worthy of a place in the rank are only known to us by a single
piece, but which is quite sufficient to evidence their power! From
1790 to 1840 art was at fever heat, the creative faculty produced
marvels."

Besides the making and ornamentation of swords the metal workers in
Japan attained great skill in the design and finish of many other
articles which were in constant use by the people--pipes, cases to
hold the Indian ink which formed the writing material, the clasps and
buttons of tobacco pouches, besides vases, &c. In reference to the
making of alloys these metal workers showed considerable ingenuity,
the alloys used, amalgams of gold, silver, copper, and other metals in
deft proportions, resulting in magnificent effects as regards
ornamentation and permanency. Japan has undoubtedly been greatly aided
in the height to which the art of the country of various kinds has
attained by the plentifulness of minerals therein. Gold, silver,
copper, iron, lead, tin, and many other minerals exist. Strange to
say, gold at one time was considered no more valuable than silver--a
fact which may account for the lavish manner in which it was used for
decorative purposes in art of all descriptions.

I fear that an inevitable result of Western influences and the great,
indeed drastic, changes which have been effected thereby in the ideas,
manners, and customs of the Japanese people has been the decay, if not
the destruction, of the art connected with metal work. Sword
manufacture and everything relating thereto is, of course, gone; other
metal industries are following suit. The result, as I have said, was
inevitable, but it is none the less deplorable. Although it requires
an expert to deal with and describe in all its infinite detail the
metal work of Japan, it does not need an expert's knowledge to
profoundly admire it and be lost in admiration at the skill displayed
and the pains taken in respect of every part of it. The workers in
this, as indeed in all the other art industries of Japan in the past,
were quite evidently not men in a hurry or much exercised concerning
their output, and scamping their work in order to establish a record.
Their hearts must have been in everything they undertook, and their
sole aim, whatever they did, to put into their work all their skill
and knowledge and love of the beautiful. They, in fact, worked not for
pelf but for sheer love of art, and so long as the work of these
artists of various kinds endures the world will assuredly never cease
to admire it.

Painting has, in Japan, long been greatly cultivated, and in some
respects highly developed. There are various recognised schools of
painting, but I shall not weary my readers with any attempt,
necessarily imperfect as it would be, to describe them in detail.
China and the Buddhist religion have profoundly influenced painting as
the other arts of Japan. Indeed, the early painters of Japan devoted
themselves almost entirely to religious subjects. Most of their work
was executed on the walls, ceilings, and sliding screens of the
Buddhist temples, but some of it still exists in kakemonos, or wall
pictures, and makimonos, or scroll pictures. In the ninth century
painting, as well as the arts of architecture and carving, flourished
exceedingly. Kyoto appears to have been the great artistic centre. The
construction of temples throughout the country proceeded apace, and it
is related that no less than 13,000 images were carved and painted
during the reign of one emperor. Kyoto was, in fact, the centre of
religious art. We are told that the entire city was in a constant
artistic ferment, that whole streets were converted into studios and
workshops, and that the population of idols and images was as numerous
as the human habitation. Nearly all the temples then constructed and
adorned have vanished, but that at Shiba still remains to convey to us
some idea of the artistic glories of this period of intense religious
belief, which gave expression to its fervour and its faith in
architecture, carving, and painting. About the thirteenth century
flower and still-life painting came into vogue. Almost simultaneously
religious fervour, as expressed in art, began to grow cold. The artist
became the hanger-on of the Daimio, who was too often employed in
burning temples and destroying their artistic treasures. The painter
then painted as his fancy led him, and if he treated of religious
subjects did not invariably do so in a reverential spirit. From time
to time new schools of painting arose, culminating, in the eighteenth
century, in the Shijo school, which made a feature of painting
animals, birds, fishes, flowers, &c., from nature, instead of adhering
to the conventional style which had previously prevailed. The
colouring of some of the work of this school is superb and is greatly
in request among art collectors.

Of late years painting in Japan seems, to some extent, to have come
under Western influences. There is, indeed, a progressive party in
painting which not only does not resist these Western influences but
actually advocates the utilisation of Western materials and methods in
painting and the discarding of all that had made Japanese painting
essentially what it is. I confess to a hope that this progressive
school will not make quite so much progress as its disciples desire.
To introduce European pigments, canvas, brushes, &c., and discard the
materials formerly in use, to get rid of the Japanese method of
treating subjects, whether landscapes, country scenes, the life of the
people, representations of animals, and so on, and replace that method
by imitations of European schools of painting, must simply involve the
destruction of all that is essentially and characteristically Japanese
and the replacing of it by something that is not Japanese or indeed
Oriental. The essence of art is originality. I admit that art may come
under foreign influences and be improved, just as it may be degraded,
by them. If the influences of foreign art are to be advantageous that
art must, I suggest, be in some measure akin to the style of the art
which is affected by it. For example, the influence in the past of
China or Korea upon an analogous style of art in Japan. But for
Japanese painters to remodel their peculiar style upon that of Europe
must prove as fatal to Japanese painting as an art as any similar
endeavour of European painters to remodel their style upon that of
Japan would be fatal to the distinctive art of Europe. I make this
statement with full knowledge of the fact that some art critics in
this country declare that Mr. Whistler and other artists have been
largely affected or influenced in their style by a study of Japanese
art in painting and its methods.

I have referred to kakemonos, those wall pictures which are such a
pleasing feature of the simple decoration of Japanese houses. Many of
these are superb specimens of art, and the same remark may be made in
reference to the makimonos, or scroll pictures. It may be that not
every Western eye can appreciate these Japanese paintings fully at a
first glance, but they certainly grow upon one, and I hope the time is
far distant when kakemonos will be replaced in Japanese homes by those
mural decorations, if I may so term them, to be seen in so many
English houses, which are a positive eyesore to any person with even
the faintest conception of art. The work of the old painters of Japan,
as it appears on kakemonos and makimonos, is now rare. Much of it, as
is the case with the other art treasures of the country, has gone
abroad. I am, however, of opinion that painting has not deteriorated
to anything like the same extent as some of the other Japanese arts.
The subjects depicted by the artists have during the centuries from
time to time changed, but the technique has altered but little. It
does not, I know, appeal to everybody, but it is the kind of art, I
reiterate, that grows upon one. No person who has interested himself
in painting in modern Japan, especially on kakemonos, can, I think,
have failed to be impressed by the exquisite and beautiful work which
the Japanese artists in colour to-day produce.

  [Illustration: KAKEMONO ON PAPER
      ATTRIBUTED TO MATAHEI]

  [Illustration: KAKEMONO ON PAPER
      ATTRIBUTED TO SHIMMAN, UKIYO SCHOOL. EIGHTEENTH CENTURY]

Silk and satin embroidery as an industry and an art at one time
attained considerable importance in Japan, but of recent years has
greatly declined. The craze among the upper classes for European
dress has, of course, seriously affected the demand for elaborately
embroidered silk and satin garments, and is bound to affect it to an
even greater extent in the future as the custom of wearing European
garb spreads among the people. No one with any artistic
sensibilities can help regretting the fact that Japan is gradually
but surely discarding the distinctive costume of her people. That
costume was in every respect appropriate to their physique and
facial characteristics. The same certainly cannot be said of
European attire. However, it is now, I suppose, hopeless to arrest
the movement in this direction, and in a comparatively few years, no
doubt, the ancient and historic dress of the Japanese people will be
as obsolete as the silks, satins, ruffles, &c., of our forefathers.

And what remark shall I make of Japanese curios, the trade in which
has assumed such very large dimensions? Have they no claim, some of my
readers may ask, to be included in a chapter on art? There is no doubt
that many purchasers of them would be shocked were they to be told
that there was nothing artistic in many, if not most, of these
articles, that they were made simply and solely for the European
market, and that the manufacture of curios for this purpose was now
just as much a trade as is the making of screws in Birmingham. I am
quite prepared to admit that some of the articles included in the
generic term "curios," which can now be purchased in every large town
in Great Britain, are pretty and effective, but as regards many of
them there is certainly nothing artistic or indeed particularly or
peculiarly Japanese. This making of curios for the foreign market has,
as I have said, assumed considerable dimensions in Japan of recent
years, and in connection therewith the Japanese has certainly
assimilated many Western ideas in reference to pushing his wares. As
an example in point of this I will quote here an anecdote told me by a
friend who had a considerable knowledge of Japan in the 'seventies.
During one of his journeyings inland, when staying at a Japanese
tea-house, he was initiated into the use of Japanese tooth-powder,
which is in pretty general use among the lower classes. On leaving
Japan he purchased and brought to England a considerable quantity of
this tooth-powder, and on settling down in London he discovered a
Japanese shop where it was on sale. For some seventeen or eighteen
years he purchased the tooth-powder at the shop, sold in the little
boxes in which it was vended in Japan, not only using it himself but
introducing it to a large number of his acquaintances. One day last
year, on going into the shop referred to to make a further purchase,
he was informed that they were run out of tooth-powder and did not
quite know if they would have any more. My friend returned a month or
two later to the same shop on the same errand bent, and asked if they
had received a fresh supply. He was told that a further supply had
come to hand of very much the same description, but at double the
price. He purchased a box, the outside of which bore the following
inscription in English: "Japanese Sanitary Dentifrice; Superior
Quality. Apply the powder to the teeth by means of a brush, using
moderate friction over the whole surface." On opening the box my
friend found the powder was perfumed--perfumed for the European
market! Now tooth-powder is, of course, not a curio, nor is the
expression "moderate friction over the whole surface," I may remark,
characteristically Japanese. The little anecdote is, I think, typical
of the change that has come over and is still actively in progress in
Japan--a change which, however inevitable, and beneficial though in
many respects I believe it to be, is most assuredly not beneficial to
the interests of art of any kind.

The fact of the matter is that the hurry-scurry of modern civilisation
is not conducive to artistic work of any description. The man in a
hurry is unlikely to accomplish anything of permanent value. Working
against time is utterly subversive of the realisation of artistic
ideals. The past, whether in the West or the East, when railways,
telegraphs, telephones, newspapers, and all the adjuncts of modern
progress were unknown, was the period when men did good and enduring
work. They could then concentrate their minds upon their art free from
those hundred-and-one discomposing and disconcerting influences which
are the concomitants of modern civilisation. The true artist thinks
only of his art; for him it is not merely a predominant, but his sole
interest. He brings to it all his mind, his ideas and ideals, his
energy, enthusiasm, pertinacity; in it is concentrated all his
ambition. Extraneous matters can only distract his mind from his art,
and accordingly are to be abjured. I fear this exclusiveness, this
aloofness, is rare nowadays in the West; it is perhaps less rare in
the East, but it is becoming rarer there as Western influences,
Western ideas, and Western modes of life and method of regarding life
make progress. The poet, the painter, the sculptor, the novelist, the
dramatist, if their work is to be other than ephemeral, need an
atmosphere of repose and quietude wherein the mind can work and
fashion those ideas which are to be given material expression free
from all distracting and disturbing influences. Where can the aspiring
artist, under modern conditions of life, find such a haven of rest?
And even if he find it I fear he too often has no desire to cast
anchor there. The distractions of life are frequently alluring, and
the embryonic artists of to-day assure us that they must, in modern
jargon, keep "in touch" with modern thought with a view of, in modern
slang, being "up-to-date." Ideas such as these--and they seem to me to
be not only largely prevalent but almost universal--are in my opinion
fatal, not only to the development but to the very existence of art.
We see in this country the effect upon every department thereof.
Poetry, painting, sculpture, literature, the drama, are by almost
general consent in a state of utter decadence. The great poet or
painter, the great artist in words, on canvas, in marble, or in
wood--where is he? Are there any signs or portents of his advent?
None. Modern conditions of life have killed the artist, and replaced
him by artistic mediocrities or mechanicians who labour not for love
but for lucre, and are more concerned about the amount of their output
than the quality thereof. And as of England and Europe so I fear is
it, and will it be to a greater extent, in the near future in Japan.
The artist in lacquer, porcelain, metal, painting, embroidery, cannot
exist under the conditions of modern progress. He may still produce
good and beautiful work, but it will be no longer artistic in the
higher sense of that word, just because those ideas and ideals which
make the artist and connote art cannot exist in their fulness and
purity amidst the hurry and bustle and turmoil and desire for wealth
which are the essential characteristics of the civilisation of Europe
and America to-day--a civilisation which Japan has imported, and to a
large degree assimilated, and which she must accept with its defects
as well as its advantages. We may, and must, regret the effect of this
civilisation upon the art of old Japan, but there is no good shutting
one's eyes to obvious facts or affecting to believe that in due course
we shall witness a renaissance in Japan, a new birth of all that is
great and grand and magnificent in her past history.

There has for some years been a movement to prevent, as far as
possible, the passing out of Japan of its art treasures. The
Government has diligently catalogued all that remain in the temples
and public buildings to obviate their being sold, and museums have
been built for the purpose of collecting and exhibiting all that is
best and representative of Japanese art There has also been a movement
among the noblemen and the upper classes in the direction of forming
private collections. It was time that steps such as these should be
taken. It is a thousand pities they were not taken earlier. The drain
of Japan's art treasures went on unchecked year after year, and it is
probable that the private and public collections of Europe and America
contain more Japanese art treasures than are now to be found in Japan
itself. I am aware that in these collections are also to be found no
little of the spurious, and many articles with no claim to be
considered artistic in any sense of the word, but at the same time
there is no doubt that, as I have said, for years, there was a
constant export of artistic wealth from Japan. The Revolution of 1868,
with its consequent cataclysms, caused the treasures of many of the
great families to come on the market, with the result that they were
bought up at prices often greatly below their intrinsic value and
shipped from the country. They are of course gone for ever, and the
only thing that now remains to Japan is to prevent as far as possible
any of the treasures which she possesses meeting with a similar fate.
I know perfectly well that art, like music, knows nothing of
nationality, and that there is no reason why the resident of London or
New York should not enjoy the beauties of Japanese art, and feast his
eyes on the work of some great Japanese artist of three or four
hundred years back just as much as the citizen of Tokio. This is in
one sense true, but at the same time one cannot help sympathising with
the patriotic desire of a people to retain in their midst specimens of
the artistic conceptions and the artistic work of those famous men who
are now ashes, but whose work remains as a symbol and an incentive to
their countrymen to maintain a high standard, and to practise art
simply and solely for the love of it.



CHAPTER XIII

JAPANESE ARCHITECTURE


There are, perhaps, some superior persons who may consider that
Japanese architecture has no claim to be regarded as art. These
persons have no conception of art in architecture unless it be Doric,
Gothic, Byzantine, Early English, or something of the kind, and unless
it be expressed in bricks and mortar. Now Japanese architecture is
only wood, but though only wood, as regards its majestic beauty,
seemliness, and adaptability to the purposes for which it is intended,
it stands unique. Moreover, it is the only timber architecture in the
world that has attained in any degree artistic importance. Almost
every building in Japan is, or, to speak more accurately, was,
constructed of wood--a fact possibly due to the interminable
earthquakes to which the country was long, and is still occasionally,
subjected. In Japanese architecture no brick or stone is used unless
it be for foundations; nevertheless, this restriction to wood material
has not prevented the Japanese architects of the past raising
stupendous structures which in beauty of adornment and durability have
long been the admiration of the Western world. The Temple of Nara, for
example, was constructed three hundred years before the foundations of
Westminster Abbey were laid. As Dr. Dresser has pertinently remarked
in this connection: "What buildings can we show in England which have
existed since the eighth century and are yet almost as perfect as when
first built? and yet our buildings rest on a solid foundation, and not
on earth which is constantly rocked by natural convulsions." The porch
of the temple of Todaji is erected upon pillars 100 feet high by 12
feet in circumference, and yet this porch is merely the entrance to
another porch equally large, which again is itself the approach to the
temple containing an image of Buddha 53 feet high with a halo 83 feet
in diameter. The sanctuary of the ancient temple at Nara, already
referred to, has columns quite 100 feet high consisting of a single
stem. These ancient fanes are not bald architectural ruins. Their
decoration, as ancient as the building itself, is quite as permanent.
They are ablaze in every part with majestic decorations in gold and
all the colours of the rainbow, as gorgeous and impressive now as they
were when first applied by the hands of the decorators more than a
thousand years ago. As a recent writer on this subject has appositely
remarked: "It is in detail the Japanese architect most excels, for if
he conceives like a giant he invariably finishes like a jeweller.
Every detail to the very nails, which are not dull surfaces but
rendered exquisite ornaments, is a work of art. Everywhere we
encounter friezes and carvings in relief, representing in quaint
colour harmonies flowers and birds, or heavenly spirits playing upon
flutes and stringed instruments."

It must often strike the thinking man as a curious fact that these old
religious edifices, whether in Europe or the Far East, seem to have a
permanence about them such as is not characteristic of modern
buildings of the same kind. The reason, I think, must have been that
the men who were employed in the designing and construction of these
ancient buildings, whether in the East or West, were not mere
mercenaries employed for a particular purpose, but men full of faith
in their religion, a building in whose honour and for whose services
they were employed to erect, and who threw into their work their whole
souls, so to speak--gave, in fact, the best of what they had, and
employed all their zeal, energy, and enthusiasm with a view of
perpetuating, whether in stone, brick, or wood, the faith they so
firmly held and so dearly loved.

Some of the problems that the Japanese builders of the past had to
face in the erection of a few of the great temples which still adorn
the country have proved insoluble to many European engineers and
architects. The erection and support of the magnificent pagoda at
Nikko is an example in point. Dr. Dresser has referred to this and
pointed out what he deemed a great waste of material in connection
therewith. He failed to understand for what reason an enormous log of
wood ascended in the centre of a structure from its base to the
apex--a log of wood about 2 feet in diameter--while near the lower end
one equally large was bolted to each of the four sides of the central
mass. When Dr. Dresser expressed surprise on the subject he was told
that the walls must be strong enough to support the central block; and
on his pointing out that the central block was not supported by the
sides, he was taken up to the top of the building and the fact
demonstrated to him that the huge central mass was suspended like the
clapper of a bell. On descending again, while lying on the ground, he
saw that there was quite an inch of space between the soil and the
great pendulum--a safeguard against damage by earthquake. For many
hundreds of years the centre of gravity of this building has, by its
swinging, been kept within the base, and the fact shows, were evidence
needed, that the Japanese architects who designed this great Nikko
Pagoda and similar structures were men of scientific capacities who
had thought out every problem connected with the safety and permanence
of the building they were employed to design.

The domestic dwellings of the great mass of the Japanese people are of
the simplest possible type. They are no doubt evolved from the hut of
the Ainos, probably the aborigines of the islands, still to be found
in the island of Yesso. There are no walls as we understand the term,
the sides being composed, in winter, of amado, or sliding screens made
of wood, and in summer of shoji, or oil-paper slides. This enables, in
hot weather, the whole of the side of the house to be moved, and the
air to be given free ingress and egress. Nor are these habitations
divided off into permanent rooms, as in this and other European
countries. Paper screens which slide into grooves divide the space
according to requirements. The wood-work of these dwellings, which are
largely composed of camphor-wood, is both within and without left
unpainted, and they generally present a neat and alluring appearance.
When one compares the dwelling-places of the poorest inhabitants of
Japan with the hovels in this country, and more especially in Ireland,
occupied by the peasants, one is really lost in wonder at the
ignorance of those persons who call Japan, and no doubt still believe
it to have been, an uncivilised country until it was brought
intimately into association with Occidental nations.

  [Illustration: TEA HOUSE, NEAR TOKIO
      FROM A PRINT BY HIROSHIGE]

As we ascend in the social scale in Japan we find, of course, a
difference in architecture. The principle remains very much the same,
but, as might be expected, the buildings are more elaborate and
there is a wealth of ornamentation which is absent from those of the
lower classes. I am inclined to think that what I may call
ecclesiastical art has largely influenced the decoration of the houses
of the nobles and upper classes in Japan. Many of the old feudal
castles, which were gems of Japanese architecture, no longer exist,
but some of those which still remain are exceedingly beautiful
specimens of wooden architecture. The castle of Nagoya, built in the
early part of the seventeenth century, is supposed to be the finest
specimen of the kind in Japan.

But the Japanese never seems to have been overmuch concerned
respecting his dwelling. To comprehend the beauty of Japanese
architecture, to see it in its purity and to realise all the grandeur
that can be crowded into it, it is necessary to study it in the
religious edifices of the country. Plainness is the characteristic of
the Shinto temple; built as a rule of pine, it has a thatched roof.
The fact of its being an edifice of the Shinto religion is
self-evident from the torii which stand before every Shinto temple.
There are no idols or exterior ornamentation of any kind. The walls
are left untouched by either the painter or the lacquerer. In the
Buddhist temples, on the contrary, the Japanese artist has had
afforded him full scope for the exercise of his ornamental ingenuity.
Numerous courtyards have to be traversed before reaching the temple
itself. These courtyards contain many small buildings, bronze or stone
lanterns, belfries, pavilions, pagodas, &c., &c., all elaborately
decorated. Amongst the supplementary buildings connected with, but
occasionally independent of, Buddhist temples, none is more
interesting than the pagoda so intimately associated with Buddhism in
every part of the Far East and so typically Oriental in its
architecture. What may have been the precise origin of these five- or
seven-storied erections, for what purpose they were intended, or what
symbolism, if any, they were the expression of, is now largely a
matter of conjecture. No one who has visited the East can at any rate
have failed to be impressed by them. In Japan where, save the lower
storey, the whole is lacquered red, they are a striking feature of the
country. The lower storey, by the way, is decorated with numerous
painted carvings. Topping the whole building is the twisted spire of
bronze.

Like most other things in Japan, the origin and development of the
architecture of the country is lost in the twilight of obscurity.
Korea appears to have influenced Japanese architecture, just as it has
Japanese art of various kinds. It is an extraordinary fact that this
portion of Asia contiguous to the Japanese islands, which has for so
many hundreds of years past exercised such a subtle influence on the
art and industries of Japan, should at the commencement of the
twentieth century have passed under the suzerainty of that country.
When one fully comprehends the connection in various ways of Korea
with Japan in all the past centuries, one begins to understand the
sentimental feeling which has influenced the whole nation in regard to
the possibility of Korea passing under the domination of any other
Power. At the beginning of the third century Korea was invaded by
Japan and, although the country was then conquered, it, as has not
infrequently under similar circumstances happened in history,
exercised a potent effect on both the art and architecture of Japan.
Korean architecture, of course, was not original; it was based on that
of China, which in its turn came from Burmah, and that again probably
from India. In the course of the seventh century, however, the
imported architecture more or less assumed the general style which has
since remained distinctly Japanese and although it undoubtedly
embodies everything that was best in the architecture of the countries
from which it derived its essential features, appears to me to have an
originality of its own. No man who has not visited the great temples
at Shiba and Nikko can understand to what heights of sublimity wooden
architecture can rise, what a gorgeous _tout ensemble_ can be
accomplished by harmonious colour schemes deftly blended by artists
who had made a study of colour and all the details connected
therewith, and knew how to render a picturesque effect which should be
imposing without being either gaudy or glaring.

I am afraid that the results of Western civilisation have been, and
will continue to be, fatal to Japanese architects. Judging by the
buildings which have been erected in the country since Western
influences have reigned supreme Japanese architecture is not only dead
but buried. These edifices--hotels, Government buildings, railway
stations and so on, are an attempt to combine Western and Japanese
styles. The result is an incongruity, to express it mildly, sufficient
to cause the artistic mind to shudder. The men who built the temples
at Shiba, at Nikko, and in various other parts of the country, and the
pagodas which dot the land, are dead, and have left no successors.
There is nothing, in my opinion, that is more likely to be influenced,
and more injuriously influenced, by Western ideas than the
architecture of Japan. There is a tendency in the country to erect
European buildings, and I suppose it is one that it is impossible to
complain of. The Japanese houses, although they have advantages in the
summer-time, are undoubtedly not well fitted to withstand the rigours
of winter; and I have no doubt that, from the standpoint of material
comfort, a replacement of them by buildings erected on European lines
might be an advantage. But from the artistic point of view such a
change is one impossible to contemplate without a feeling of regret.

There is, of course, no human possibility of temples such as those at
Shiba and Nikko ever again being erected in Japan. As I have
previously remarked, buildings such as these are something more than
mere material constructions; they are the embodiment in material form
of a living faith which the designers and builders attempted to set
forth in their work. An age of disbelief, of indifference, of
agnosticism, is not conducive to the construction of such edifices. We
need not go to Japan for evidence of that obvious fact. The hideous
monstrosities in the shape of cathedrals, churches, and chapels that
have been built in this country during the past century or two are
abundant proof, were any needed, that the faith and piety whose
outward and visible manifestation is to be seen in Westminster Abbey,
Canterbury Cathedral, York Minster, and various other noble
architectural fanes is no longer with us; it has gone, and,
apparently, inspiration with it. We can now only construct walls, and
put roofs on them--admirable edifices, no doubt, to keep out the rain,
but signifying nothing from an artistic or idealistic point of view.
And so it is in regard to Japan. Architecture there, considered as an
art, is dead. It may be imitated or reproduced, but the reproduction
will impose on no person of artistic sensibilities or knowledge, any
more than a Sheraton reproduction hailing from the Tottenham Court
Road would impose on a connoisseur as the genuine work of that great
artist in furniture.

The art of Japan has, especially since the opening up of the country,
been closely studied and investigated, and many learned tomes have
been written concerning it. I do not, however, think that the art of
the country as expressed in its architecture has received anything
like the attention it deserves. This may possibly arise from the fact,
to which I have already referred, that many people have what I may
term a restricted definition or conception of art. Others there are,
again, who consider wooden architecture to be almost a contradiction
in terms. Words or definitions in a matter of this kind seem to me to
be childish. The lover of the beautiful, the admirer of the historic,
the investigator of the ebb and flow of religious systems and of the
sentiments and spirit that have influenced and moulded them at
different periods of their existence, can in the ancient wooden
temples of Japan find abundant material for enjoyment, instruction,
reflection. I have no hesitation in including these buildings in that
surely expansive and comprehensive term, Art.



CHAPTER XIV

POSTAL AND OTHER MEANS OF COMMUNICATION


The advancement of a nation, may, I think, be accurately gauged by the
facilities it possesses or has developed for the communication of its
inhabitants, either by personal intercourse or those other means which
science has of late years discovered or evolved for the transmission
of thought, whether on business or otherwise--the letter post, the
telegraph, and the telephone. I accordingly purpose briefly describing
the extent to which, in these respects, Japan has assimilated and
utilised Western ideas.

I have already touched on the matter of railway communication, so I
will not again refer to it in any detail. I may, however, remark that
although railways in Japan have done much to open up the country and
provide for more frequent and rapid intercourse between man and man,
they still lack much in the matter of European ideas of comfort. There
are three classes of carriages, and the fares of each are extremely
low. The gauge is narrow; the carriages are open, as in America, with
one long seat running down each side and a shorter one at the end. In
the first-class carriages tea is provided, a kettle and tea-pot
wherein to make the beverage being placed on the floor between the
seats for the use of passengers. No doubt ere long the Japanese will
be more impressed than they appear to be at present as to the
necessity for express trains, high speeds, Pullman and restaurant
cars, as well as for other now indispensable characteristics of
English and American railways. The initial railway line in Japan was
that between Yokohama and the capital. It was popular and well
patronised from the first, in contradistinction to the record of
railways in China, where the initial line--that between Shanghai and
Wusung--had to be bought up and pulled up by the Chinese authorities,
in view of the number of Chinamen who persisted in committing suicide
by placing themselves in front of the train as a protest--and a most
effective protest, it must be admitted--against the introduction into
their country of this contrivance of the "foreign devils." The
contrast in the manner in which the introduction of railways was
received in China and Japan respectively is, I think, characteristic
of the difference in the disposition and mental attitude of the people
of the two countries.

A postal service modelled on that of Europe was inaugurated in Japan
in 1871 by the introduction of a Government letter post between Tokio,
Kyoto, Osaka, and Yokohama. Arrangements had, of course, long
previously existed for the transmission of official correspondence
throughout the country, but private letters were conveyed by private
carriers. The following year the official postal service was extended
to the whole of Japan, but not till twelve months later were private
carriers abolished and the post-office, with all its various
ramifications, constituted a State monopoly. Postcards, embossed
envelopes, newspaper wrappers, and all the paraphernalia--so far as
they had then been developed--of European post-offices were adopted
by the Japanese postal authorities, and caught on with the people with
surprising rapidity. In 1875 mail steamers were established between
Japan and the Chinese ports, and the next year Japan, which at that
time had, as I have elsewhere mentioned, to view post-offices
established in the treaty ports, herself planted Japanese post-offices
in both China and Korea. The Postal Union was joined in 1877, and from
that time the Japanese post-office has developed, _pari passu_ with
the post-offices of European countries until at the present time it is
in some respects ahead of them in the matter of enterprise and the
facilities it affords. The Inland Parcel Post was established in 1892,
and it has had a marked effect in the opening up of the country and
the familiarising of the people with many commodities, principally
European, of which they had previously no knowledge. At the present
time there are considerably over 6,000 post-offices. About a thousand
millions of letters and postcards--a favourite means of
communication--are handled yearly. The number of parcels at present
sent through the post amounts to about eleven millions annually.

Every description of post-office business as known in Europe is not
only transacted in Japan, but, so far as results go to show, each new
phase seems to fill a distinct want on the part of the people. Take
the matter of postal orders for example, the introduction of which in
this country was so vigorously opposed by the banking community, but a
facility which has proved of incalculable utility and convenience to
the mass of the public. Postal orders, when introduced into Japan,
quickly came into favour. In the first year only a certain number of
offices were authorised to issue and to pay these orders. This number
has now been largely increased, and many millions of postal orders are
at present annually sold in Japan. The International Postal Order
Service has also assumed considerable dimensions, and has largely
aided, I think, in the industrial and commercial development of the
country.

Post Office Savings Banks were established in Japan as far back as
1875. The object, as in this country, was to encourage thrift among
the mass of the people. The maximum deposit in one year of any
depositor is limited to 500 yen (about £50). The Post Office Savings
Bank has been largely utilised, and both the number of depositors and
the sums deposited continue to grow on a scale which shows that the
utility and benefit of this institution are greatly appreciated by the
Japanese people. At first the Savings Bank was worked at a loss; it
took time to develop, while in its infancy banking methods were
probably not as well understood by the Japanese authorities as they
now are. At the present time the Post Office Savings Bank in Japan is
so worked that it not only pays all its expenses but returns a profit
to the national exchequer. In this respect it very favourably compares
with the Post Office Savings Bank as administered in this country,
which is not only worked at a loss, but, owing to various causes, has
entailed a liability, nominal though it be, on the British taxpayer.

Telegraphs were first introduced into Japan in 1869, and, as was the
custom at that time in almost all countries, the telegraph followed
the railway. The first line was between the capital and Yokohama. As
time progressed some steps were taken in the direction of developing
the system, but it was not until 1878 that the telegraph service in
Japan was placed on a proper footing. In 1879 the International
Telegraph Union was entered. At the present time Japan is covered by a
network of telegraph wires, and every important island is in
communication with the capital. Telegrams may be sent either in the
Japanese or European languages. Like every other means of
communication, the telegraph has been rapidly adopted by the Japanese
people, and it now forms such a part of the national life that it is
almost impossible to imagine the country without a telegraph system.
There are about 2,600 telegraph offices in Japan, and over twenty
million messages are annually despatched therefrom. I think it will be
admitted that--especially in view of the difficulties occasioned by
the necessity of the operators in the telegraph offices being
conversant to some extent with the characteristics of two absolutely
different descriptions of languages--the progress made by Japan, and
the development and extension of the telegraph service of the country,
have been really remarkable.

When the question of introducing telephones into Japan came up for
consideration it was treated somewhat more practically than was the
case with reference to a similar matter in this country. There was
there as here a difference of opinion as to whether telephonic
communication should be left to private enterprise or be constituted a
Government monopoly. After somewhat prolonged investigation it was
decided that the telephone service should be set up and worked by the
Government, and in the year 1890 the first telephone, that between
Tokio and Yokohama, was opened. At first, strange to say, this new
device of Western civilisation appears somewhat to have hung fire, and
no general demand sprung up for the fitting of the telephone to
private houses. It required, as indeed was the case in this country,
some education of the people in regard to the paramount advantages of
always having this means of communication at hand. The process of
education in this respect was not prolonged. Before the telephone had
been many years in the country the demand for its installation in
houses and offices became so great that the Government had to obtain a
special grant of money in order to carry out the necessary work.
According to the latest returns there are somewhere about 350
telephone offices open to the public, while the approximate number of
messages transmitted is about 150,000,000. The time is not far distant
when, as I think will also be the case in this country, the telephone
will be deemed to be an indispensable adjunct of almost every house in
the towns of Japan.

In connection with the means of communication one or two remarks in
reference to tramways may not be out of place. These are entirely, or
almost entirely, electric, and have certainly, if we are to judge by
the patronage accorded to them, been very favourably received by the
Japanese people. According to the latest returns I have available
there were twenty-two tramway companies in Japan, which between them,
in the year 1904, carried the very respectable total of over
73,000,000 passengers. All of these lines save one are electric. The
first electric tramway, that in Kyoto, was opened in 1895, so that the
development of the country in this direction has proceeded rapidly.
The Tokio Electric Tramway Company pays a dividend of 11 per cent.,
and although this is a record which some of the other lines have not
yet attained, and may not possibly attain, nevertheless these matters
must not be altogether looked at from the point of view of dividends.
The shareholder very probably regards them from that standpoint, but I
suggest that the facilities given to a town may be as great or even
greater by a tramway paying 2, or 3, or 5 per cent. as by one paying
double that figure. Indeed, large dividends are often earned by
cutting down expenditure or abstaining from expenditure designed to
increase the facilities of passengers. There is every prospect of
electric tramways being extended to every town of any importance in
Japan, and I am confident they will greatly aid in the industrial
development of the land.

  [Illustration: ÆRIAL TRANSPORT; BASKET SLUNG ON ROPES, PROVINCE
    OF HIDA
      FROM A PRINT BY HIROSHIGE]

I cannot leave a consideration of the means of communication in Japan
without making some reference to that somewhat peculiar vehicle which
is by so many persons deemed to be essentially characteristic of the
country, although, as a matter of fact, I believe it is of
comparatively recent introduction, having been introduced either by a
European or an American; I refer, of course, to the jinricksha. Before
Japan became to so great an extent the objective point of the
globe-trotter, and Europe, through the medium of numerous books, was
rendered conversant with everything relating to the country, nothing
more struck the imagination of the new arrival in Japan than the sight
of this extraordinary vehicle--a kind of armchair on wheels with two
shafts, pulled by a man scantily clad and with extremely muscular
legs. Whoever was the individual responsible for the invention of the
jinricksha, he certainly conferred a great boon on all foreigners
resident in Japan before railways and tramways and other means of
communication became as prevalent as they now are. The long distances
traversed by the man between the shafts of a jinricksha and the speed
he attained and maintained were almost a marvel to the foreign
visitor. It was possible to get about the country in one of these
vehicles quite as fast as any horse-drawn vehicle could convey one,
and quite as comfortably. I have heard it stated that the men who pull
these vehicles unduly develop their legs at the expense of other
portions of their body, and that the speed at which they run and which
they certainly keep up for extraordinarily long periods has extremely
injurious effects on their constitution, so that they are, as a rule,
not long-lived. I am not aware, nor have I been able to ascertain,
whether such statements are mere theories or have any foundation in
fact. This much I will say, that the Japanese jinricksha-runners are
an extraordinary class in reference to the speed which they attain
dragging a goodly weight for a very long distance. It does not seem
likely that the jinricksha, acclimatised as it has been in Japan, will
be ousted by other modern contrivances for getting about the country.
It is still very much in evidence, and it is universally admitted by
those who have had experience of it to be a most comfortable means of
locomotion. Why it has never come into favour, at least to any extent,
elsewhere than in Japan I have never been able to understand.
Certainly jinrickshas can be hired at Shanghai, and they are to be
seen at one or two other places in the Far East, but it may be
regarded as a distinctly Japanese vehicle, although, as I have said,
there is nothing Japanese about it excepting its adaptation in the
country.

I remarked at the commencement of this chapter that we may properly
gauge the progress of a nation by the facilities it possesses or has
developed for inter-communication personally and otherwise. I hope the
few remarks I have made on this head may enable my readers to form
some idea as to the position of Japan in this matter. I have not
wearied them with statistics, but I have, I think, said enough to show
that in everything relating to communication, whether it be the
locomotion of the individual or the facilities given to him to
communicate his wishes, desires, aspirations, sentiments, Japan is now
well in line with all the other great civilised Powers, and has reason
to be proud of the progress she has made and the manner in which she
has adapted to the requirements of her people the ideas and inventions
she has obtained from Europe and America.



CHAPTER XV

LAW AND ORDER


In every nation which aspires to be regarded as civilised the
supremacy of the law and the maintenance of order are matters of
supreme importance. The most perfect code of law ever devised is quite
evidently of no importance unless adequate means exist for enforcing
its provisions, and although justice may be lauded as a most admirable
object of attainment, yet, unless the courts of the country are
independent, hold the scales evenly and use the sword with
impartiality, justice will remain merely a sentiment, and there will
be no practical exemplification of it. I have considered in this book
as tersely as possible most of the factors of civilisation in Japan.
Let me briefly deal with this matter of law and order.

When the Revolution was effected in 1868 the whole legal procedure of
the country was thrown more or less into a condition of
disorganisation. Prior to 1868, as my readers will have seen, feudal
principles prevailed in Japan. The feudal lords, or Daimios,
administered justice, or what passed for it, within their own
territories, and they were answerable to the central authority. In
theory the feudal lords were commissioners of the ruling sovereign
from whom they derived their authority; in practice they were very
largely a law unto themselves, and their subjects had little or no
practical chance of redress in the event of their suffering any
injustice. It is very difficult to ascertain whether there was in
reality a legal code of any kind in existence and under the ken of
these feudal lords. The legal system then in vogue appears to have
been based for the most part on custom and usage. A writer on the
subject has remarked that the few written laws were of a thoroughly
practical character. Unfortunately I have not had an opportunity of
acquainting myself with the nature of these laws. They were probably,
like everything else in the country, imported from China, and indeed
the Chinese legal system has been supreme in Japan until recently, and
even now I am not quite certain that much of its influence does not
remain. I have read that the fundamental principle underlying the
written laws referred to was that: "The people should obey the law,
but should not know the law." The code was accordingly a secret one. I
have not space, nor indeed have I any inclination, to deal with what
is, after all, an academical question as to the law prevalent in Japan
prior to the Revolution. It was probably for the most part, just as in
other countries when feudalism existed, a kind of rough-and-ready
justice, which perhaps served its purpose well at the time, and
depended more as regards the matter of justice upon the administrator
of it than upon the code itself. Though the Revolution took place in
1868, it was not until 1871 that the Daimios were deprived of all
their administrative authority. The whole of the country was then
divided into districts under the control of the central Government,
and all relics of feudalism and class privileges, which had been
numerous, were ruthlessly swept away. In due course a civil code,
commercial code, code of civil procedure, and code of criminal
procedure were issued. One or two of these codes were found not to
work well in practice, and they have been submitted to and revised by
committees specially appointed for that purpose.

As I stated in the chapter on the Constitution the independence of the
judges is recognised and provided for. The legal system of Japan at
the present time is eclectic. As I have said, the Chinese system of
legal procedure long obtained, and its influences may perhaps to some
extent still remain. Nevertheless Japan has gone to various countries
and selected what she deemed good in each for her present legal
system. The jurisprudence of both France and England have been largely
drawn on. In reference to the civil law custom is, as might have been
expected in view of the circumstances of the country, still strongly
relied on. There has often been a difficulty in ascertaining custom
owing to the changed and changing conditions of the nation, and in
reference thereto very much the same procedure has followed as in this
country where the question of custom is so frequently pleaded in the
courts of law. Some of the German system of jurisprudence has also
been included in the Japanese legal system. As I have elsewhere
observed, the suggestion to abolish extra-territoriality, and with it
the foreign courts in Japan, met with a considerable amount of
opposition from the foreign community there who believed that they
would not be able to obtain justice in the Japanese courts. These
fears have been shown to be groundless, and it is now generally
recognised that the foreigner in Japan need have no fear of going into
a Japanese court where he is, whether it be a civil or criminal
matter, certain to obtain a perfectly fair trial.

Closely connected with law is the matter of police. In Japan the
police of the country are entirely under the control of the State,
just as are the constabulary in Ireland. The police are under the
orders of the Minister of the Interior, who has a special office for
dealing with the matter. The cost of the force is, however, paid by
each prefecture, the State granting a small subsidy. According to the
latest statistics, the police force of Japan amounted to something
under 35,000 officers and men. When we consider that this body of men
is responsible for the enforcement of the law and the preservation of
order among some 47,000,000 people, it will, I think, be admitted that
the number is not excessive. The social condition of the Japanese
police, if I may use such a term, is higher than that of the police in
this and other countries. In Japan the police force had its genesis
after the abolition of feudalism, and, as a matter of fact, a large
proportion of the first members thereof belonged to the Samurai class.
The social position and intellectual attainment of these young men
gave what I may term a standing to the police force in Japan which it
has not yet lost. Of course, nothing like the same class of men is now
attracted to it, the salaries are comparatively small and the work is
not over-congenial for people whose ideas are such as those of the
Japanese.

I may mention, as an interesting feature in this connection, that the
Government have established a police and prison college in Tokio,
where both police and prison officials are effectively trained for the
discharge of their duties. This college was established when
extra-territoriality was abolished, with the view of ensuring a higher
training in view of the additional responsibilities that would devolve
upon the police and prison officials.

From police I naturally come to some consideration of prisons. There
are a large number of people in this country who have the idea in
their mind that prisons are a weak point in all foreign countries, and
that it is only in England that these regrettable institutions are
properly managed. In fact the idea now seems to be prevalent here that
we have gone too far in the direction of making prisons comfortable,
and that excellent alliteration "Coddled Criminals" has more than once
done duty in print in this connection. I consider that the present
prison system in Japan is regulated and administered on sounder
principles than those that obtain in this country. There are in all
about 140 prisons in Japan. All the old prisons in the country were
constructed of wood and arranged on the associate system. A separate
cell system is, however, specially provided for foreign criminals, who
are given clothes, bedding, and other articles to which they are used.
The Government, a few years ago, commenced the construction of a
number of new prisons, for the most part built of brick, in which a
mixed system of separation and association, according to the offences
of the prisoners, will be employed. The windows of these prisons were
directed to be made especially large, so that the prisoners might have
plenty of light and air. This is a matter in which some foreign
Governments, that of this country included, might well take a lesson
from Japan.

It is pleasing to be able to state that since 1899 the inmates of the
prisons have been decreasing in number. There is nothing quite
analogous to the ticket-of-leave system in this country. Parole is
suggested by a prison governor to the Minister of Justice in reference
to any prisoner whom he may deem worthy of the privilege, provided
that prisoner has completed three-fourths of the sentence imposed
upon him and has shown a disposition to live more worthily. I do not
quite know how this latter fact is made plain in gaol, but at any rate
the prison governor has to be convinced of it. A prisoner thus
released remains under police supervision during the remainder of his
sentence.

In Japan the death penalty is not confined to murder. It may be
inflicted for robbery with violence, homicide, wounds inflicted by
children upon their fathers, mothers, and grand-parents, as well as
for arson. This sounds a somewhat drastic blood code, but when I state
that the average number of persons executed in Japan does not exceed
thirty a year, it will be seen that either the crimes mentioned are
infrequent or that the punishment of death is only inflicted in
extreme cases.

One interesting feature of the Japanese prison system is the granting
of medals to criminals who have shown an amendment of their lives by
good conduct and diligence at their work. The privileges enjoyed by
persons possessing these medals are so interesting that I will
transcribe them here:--

1. All medallists are supplied with superior kinds of garments and
other articles.

2. Each medallist is allowed to send out two letters per month.

3. Medallists enjoy the privilege of bathing prior to other prisoners,
hot water being used in accordance with the general custom of the
Japanese people.

4. The supply of accessories is increased in quantity every week for
medallists, according to the number of medals granted, to the extent
of an increased expense of two sen or less for one meal per person.
This increase is granted once a week to the possessor of two medals,
and three times a week for each possessor of three medals.

5. The allotment of earnings is made in the following proportion, the
remainder being applied to prison expenses:--

Three-tenths to each felon to whom one medal has been granted.

Four-tenths to each misdemeanant to whom one medal has been awarded.

Four-tenths to each felon having been granted two medals.

Five-tenths to each felon possessing three medals.

Six-tenths to each misdemeanant granted three medals.

There is no need for me to deal with the question of punishment of
criminals in Japanese prisons. I may, however, remark that in respect
of foreign criminals every effort is made to treat them in accordance
with their conditions of national life in regard to bathing, food, &c.
In reference to the question of prison labour, which has become
somewhat of a vexed economic problem in this country, the Japanese
authorities do not appear to experience much difficulty. The object of
the prison system of labour is to give the prisoners a careful
training, and to encourage diligence, so that on their return to the
world they may not experience difficulty in obtaining employment. The
labour is of two kinds--Government, and for private individuals. In
the latter case the necessary labour is obtained from the prisons
direct, the employers supplying the material. I think this part of the
system is perhaps open to question, as it has been found in other
countries productive of grave abuses.

The discharged prisoner in Japan, as in other countries, finds a
difficulty in obtaining employment, and several societies similar to
those in existence here have been established with a view of assisting
discharged prisoners. I have not sufficient information to enable me
to say what measure of success these societies have achieved. In a
country like Japan, which is endeavouring to perfect all her
institutions, I hope that the discharged prisoner problem will be
solved otherwise than by philanthropic societies. The criminal who has
completed his sentence ought to be deemed to have purged his offence,
and has a right to return to the community and obtain work until, if
ever, he again misconducts himself.

I hope my few remarks on the subject of the means taken in Japan to
maintain law and order will tend to convince my readers that in every
detail of her administration Japan has shown a capacity for adapting
what is good in foreign nations and moulding it for her own purposes.
The foreign community in Japan has long since got over its state of
panic in regard to the danger of suing and being sued in Japanese
courts, and the possibility of being an inmate of a Japanese gaol. The
years that have elapsed since the treaties were revised have
demonstrated clearly that, if anything, extra consideration is shown
to the foreigner in all the details of the administration of the law
in Japan. I remarked at the beginning of this chapter that the
supremacy of the law and the maintenance of order are matters of
supreme importance in every civilised country. Japan has recognised
this fact, and she has acted upon the recognition thereof with most
admirable results.



CHAPTER XVI

LITERATURE AND THE DRAMA


The literature of Japan is a somewhat recondite subject, while the
Japanese drama is at present, like many other things in the country,
to a great extent in a state of transition. Still, some remarks on
these two matters are, I consider, absolutely essential in order that
my readers may form some idea of two important phases of Japanese
life. The literature of Japan is indeed largely mixed up with the
national life through many centuries--a reflection, in fact, of it.
The late Sir Edwin Arnold, whose great authority on everything
connected with Japan is generally admitted, has observed in reference
to the literature of that country: "The time will come when Japan,
safe, famous, and glad with the promise of peaceful years to follow
and to reward this present period of life and death conflict, will
engage once again the attraction of the Western nations on the side of
her artistic and intellectual gifts. Already in this part of the globe
persons of culture have become well aware how high and subtle is her
artistic genius; and by and by it will be discovered that there are
real treasures to be found in her literature. Moreover, England,
beyond any other European country, is likely to be attracted to this
branch, at present naturally neglected, of what may be called the
spiritual side of Japanese life."

The drawback to the fulfilment of the somewhat optimistic forecast of
Sir Edwin Arnold is the great difficulty experienced by the Western
nations in acquiring a sufficient knowledge of the language in which
the treasures of Japanese literature are embedded if not entombed. No
man can ever grasp the beauties of a literature, and especially an
Oriental literature, through the medium of a translation, however well
done. A translation is like a diamond with the brilliancy removed, if
we can imagine such a thing. It may be faultlessly correct in its
rendering, and yet absolutely misleading in its interpretation of the
original.

Japanese literature embraces poetry, history, fiction, books of
ceremony and travel, as well as many works of an ethical nature.
Poetry is supposed to have reached its most brilliant period in Japan
a long way back--long even before Geoffrey Chaucer took up his pen to
write those immortal lines which I fear but comparatively few
Englishmen now read. In reference to this poetry of twelve hundred
years ago, Mr. Aston--perhaps the greatest authority on the
subject--remarks: "While the eighth century has left us little or no
prose literature of importance, it was emphatically the golden age of
poetry. Japan has now outgrown the artless effusions described in the
preceding chapter, and during this period produced a body of verse of
an excellence which has never since been surpassed. The reader who
expects to find this poetry of a nation just emerging from the
barbaric stage of culture characterised by rude, untutored vigour,
will be surprised to learn that, on the contrary, it is distinguished
by polish rather than power. It is delicate in sentiment and refined
in language, and displays exquisite skill of phrase with a careful
adherence to certain canons of composition of its own."

I confess my knowledge of the language is insufficient to enable me to
read Japan's literary treasures in the original, and as I have
remarked, no man through the medium of a translation can adequately
form a correct opinion respecting any description of foreign
literature. I fear, however, that modern Japan is as little concerned
with its eighth-century poetry as the modern Englishman is with that
of Chaucer, not to speak of those great poets, most of whom are now
forgotten, who lived long before Chaucer and whose verses were not
only read but sung throughout the length and breadth of the land.

In a much later period of the history of the country, literature was
undoubtedly greatly in vogue. There was evolved what I may term a
distinct literary class, the language and literature of China were
diligently studied, and very much of the literature of this time is
written in Chinese. That language, indeed, seems to have been at one
period regarded in Japan very much as Latin was, and in some quarters
is even still, regarded in Europe as the appropriate medium for
expressing the most sublime thoughts of the brightest intellects. The
fiction of this period, usually termed the Heian--and there is plenty
of it still in existence--was for the most part written by women, so
that it will be seen the female novelist is not, as some persons
appear to imagine, a comparatively modern development. After the
twelfth century--and most of the literature I have referred to is
anterior to that--petty wars between the feudal princes appear to have
been incessant, and the whole country was for a great number of years
more concerned with fighting than with literature. History or
historical romance seems to have been the favourite literary
exercitation during this period. A good deal of the literature thereof
is still, I understand, read in Japan, especially by its youth, for
whom the stirring episodes embodied in the history and historical
romances of these bellicose times seem to have an especial
fascination.

The Tokugawa period, covering the 270 years during which the
Government of the Tycoon was installed in Yeddo, was one during which
literature made great progress in Japan. Those years were a time of
profound peace; the country was cut off from the rest of the world,
thrown in upon itself, and accordingly had ample leisure, and possibly
much inclination, to develop its artistic side, especially in
literature. The study of books was prevalent everywhere, and quite a
band of teachers arose in the land whose mission it was to expound its
ancient literature, and exhume for public edification and delectation
many of the buried literary treasures of the past. These teachers were
not content with mere oral description; they wrote what would now be
termed treatises or commentaries, many of which show great depth of
learning, by way of expounding and explaining the classics of Japan
with a view of bringing them within the ken of the great mass of the
people. This period (the Tokugawa) also had its works of fiction; it
produced many dramas and, I believe, some, if not much, poetry. The
romances of this time are, I am told, written principally for or down
to the level of the common people. The classics of Japan were, and
probably still are, like the classics of Greece and Rome in respect of
the mass of the people of this country, not understood, and most
likely were they, would not be appreciated. And hence in the Tokugawa
period what I may term the popular writer was evolved, and he turned
out, under a _nom-de-plume_ for the most part, books for the lower
orders. These works are now regarded as somewhat vulgar, but they are
in many respects a mirror of the age in which they were written, and
it is doubtful if they are much coarser in style than some of the
novels published in England in the eighteenth century. Vulgarity, it
must be remembered, is largely a matter of opinion, and because either
the Japanese of to-day or the foreigner who has perused, perhaps in a
translation, this fiction of a couple of centuries back, dubs it
according to the opinion of to-day vulgar, it by no means follows that
it was so considered in Japan two hundred years back.

Since the Revolution of 1868 it is doubtful if Japan has produced any
distinctive literature. The whole country and all the national modes
of thought have been in a state of transition, a condition of
unrest--circumstances not conducive to the production of classical
literature; moreover, literary ideas and conceptions have changed and
are still changing--changing rapidly. The development of a powerful
newspaper press must have a marked and far-reaching effect on Japanese
literature. So also must the study of Western literature by the
educated classes--a study which is both extensive and increasing.
Japanese literature is now undoubtedly in the melting-pot, so to
speak, and what will be the precise result it is impossible to
determine. It must be confessed that the modern Japanese who has been
educated according to Western methods, and is adequately acquainted
with the languages and literature of Europe, is infrequently an
admirer of the peculiar literature of his own country. Possibly it
suffers by comparison. Japan has produced no Dante, or Shakespeare, or
Milton. The moods of her people, and probably the limitations and
peculiarities of the language, have prevented the possibility of the
appearance of such divine geniuses. There is, its critics declare, an
absence of sustained power and sublimity in Japanese literature
generally, while the didactic and philosophical, if not altogether
lacking, is extremely rare therein. But it seems to me the height of
absurdity to compare the literature of a country like Japan with the
literature of some other land where everything is, and always has
been, essentially different. To properly comprehend, and probably to
be able to appreciate Japanese literature, it would be necessary to
get, so to speak, into the atmosphere in which it was produced. To
judge it by twentieth-century standards and canons of criticism and
from European standpoints is not only unfair but must create a totally
false impression.

  [Illustration: A LABOUR OF LOVE
      FROM A PRINT BY TOSHIKATA]

In every country which has attained any degree of civilisation, and
even in some countries whose civilisation is still imperfect, the
drama has played an important part, and Japan has been no exception to
the rule. Its dramatic literature is, I believe, of considerable
extent, and to understand, much less appreciate it properly would
require very profound study. Many of the more or less ancient dramas
are works not only containing the dialogue of the play but much
descriptive matter. They were, as a matter of fact, written for
theatres in which there were to be not actors but marionettes, singers
being engaged to sing the lines out of sight while the puppets
depicted the characters. Some of these dramas have, since they were
written, been adapted for the ordinary stage and the characters
portrayed by Japan's most famous actors. The theatre was long looked
down upon and it is only of comparatively recent years that it has
been looking up. A large number of persons in this country still
appear to be under the impression that there are no actresses on the
Japanese stage. This is, of course, a mistake, caused no doubt by the
fact that in Japanese theatres the female characters in a play are so
often impersonated by men. Some two or three centuries back actors and
actresses used, as in Europe, to play in the same piece, but this was
for some reason or other interdicted, and ever since there have been
companies composed of men and women respectively. In the male
companies some of the female parts naturally fell to men and in the
female companies the male parts were of necessity depicted by women.
Of recent years the tendency is to revert to the ancient practice and
to come into line with the custom of European countries in this
matter, and ere long, no doubt in Japanese theatres the female
characters will be taken by women and the male characters by men.

The theatre has always been a popular institution in Japan, and the
pieces usually played have very much the same _motif_ as the dramas
formerly so popular in this country--the discomfiture of the villain
and the triumph of virtue. The Japanese theatre does not appeal to the
ordinary European visitor, or indeed to many Europeans living in the
country. In the first place, the performance is too long for the
European taste, and in the next, most Japanese plays are of one kind,
and concerned with one period--the feudal. There is, moreover, a
plethora of by-play--sword exercise and acrobatic performances--which
have nothing whatever to do with the plot of the piece. In fact,
irrelevancy appears to the European the chief characteristic of what
he sees on the stage of a Japanese theatre. Nor does the play, as is
usual in serious dramas in this country, revolve round one character,
the hero or heroine. Indeed it is not always easy to earmark, so to
speak, the leading character, and it is occasionally doubtful in many
Japanese plays whether there is any hero or heroine. But the same
remark may be made here as in reference to the literature of the
country. It is probably essential to get into the Japanese atmosphere
in order to properly appreciate a Japanese play. The drama in Japan at
any rate serves, and so far as I have had an opportunity of forming an
opinion in the matter, serves well, its purpose to interest and amuse
the frequenters of the theatres, besides which the lessons it
inculcates are for the most part of a moral nature.

The high art of the Japanese theatre is represented by the "Nô," which
I suppose fills much the same position as does the Italian opera in
this country. The "Nô" is, I believe, very ancient. The written text
is sung; there is a principal and a secondary character and a chorus.
The dialogue is as ancient, some critics say as archaic, as the time
in which the play was written, and I understand it requires being
educated up to it in order to fully appreciate the "Nô." The ordinary
Japanese would probably just as much fail to comprehend or like it as
would the Englishman from Mile End, were he taken to Covent Garden,
and invited to go into raptures over one of Mozart's or Meyerbeer's
masterpieces. A performance of the "Nô" would probably interest those
who find excitement in a representation of "Oedipus Tyrannus," or some
Greek play. Still, the "Nô" is appreciated by a large number of the
intellectual classes in Japan, who find an interest in the
representation of this Japanese opera, as I suppose it may be termed.

As I have already said, very much the same remarks made in reference
to the literature of Japan apply to its drama. That country is still
in the transition stage, and both its drama and its literature will
undoubtedly be profoundly modified in future years. Western literature
and Western dramatic art have already exercised considerable
influence, and there are movements on foot whose object is to replace
the old ideas and methods, especially in the matter of the
representation of dramatic works by those which obtain in Europe and
America. Whether these movements will be successful or not remains to
be seen. There is certainly a large body of public opinion not only
opposed but antagonistic to them. In spite of the rapid development of
Japan in recent years, there is a very strong conservative party in
the country--a party which, though it recognises or acquiesces in the
desirability of change in many directions, is not prepared to throw
overboard everything because it is old. I sincerely hope that the
distinctive literature and dramatic art of the country will not be
allowed to die out. Japan cannot afford to forget the past with its
influences on the national life and character, influences at work for
many ages which have assuredly had a material effect in elevating her
to the position she at present occupies.



CHAPTER XVII

NEWSPAPERS IN JAPAN


Japan having taken on most of the characteristics and some of the
idiosyncracies of Western civilisation, has naturally developed a
newspaper press of its own. Of course newspapers in Japan are no new
thing. Mr. Kumoto, editor of the _Japan Times_, claims for Japanese
journalism an origin as far back as the early part of the seventeenth
century. "Long before," he remarks, "our doors of seclusion were
forced open by the impatient nations of the West, our ancestors had
found a device by which they kept themselves in touch with current
events and news. The news-sheets of those days were roughly got up,
being printed from wooden blocks hastily purchased for each issue.
They were meagre in news, uncouth in form, and quite irregular in
appearance, there being no fixed date for publication. Neither were
they issued by any particular and fixed publisher. Anybody could issue
them, and at any time they pleased. These sheets were called Yomuri,
which, being translated, means 'sold by hawking.'" These ancient
newspapers had, however, palpably nothing in common with modern
journalism, and anything in the shape of criticism or comment, or any
attempt to guide or mould public opinion was, of course, not to be
found therein. He would have been a bold man at the beginning of the
seventeenth century, or indeed very much later, who would have
ventured to print and publish anything tending to influence public
opinion, or having the appearance of being a criticism on those in
authority.

We may take it that for all practical purposes the rise of the native
newspaper press of Japan did not take place till some time after the
Revolution of 1868. If its rise has been recent its progress has
certainly been rapid. There can be no question that both the rise and
development of the vernacular press has been largely influenced by
English journalism. There have always, since the opening of the
country, been English newspapers in Japan, and very admirable
newspapers too. One or more Englishmen have started papers printed in
Japanese, and although these ventures were not commercially
successful, they, at any rate, showed the way for Japanese journalism.
Mr. Kumoto in his very interesting remarks published in Stead's "Japan
and the Japanese," gives an amusing illustration of the somewhat
amateur business lines on which the native Japanese newspapers were at
first produced. He quotes the following notice which appeared in one
of them: "The editors note with satisfaction the growing prosperity of
their venture, and notify their subscribers that in view of the
increased labour and trouble entailed on them by their increasing
circulation, the gracious subscribers will kindly spare them the
trouble by sending for their copies instead of having them delivered
to them as before." There has certainly been a remarkable development
in the Japanese newspaper press since this somewhat jejune
announcement was published. Tokio at the present time possesses about
forty daily newspapers, and there is hardly a town in the country of
any importance that has not one or two papers of its own. There are
now more than a thousand magazines and newspapers of various kinds
published in the country--a number which yearly increases, and is
certain to increase in the near future to a very much greater extent.

But besides newspapers, Japan possesses news agencies on somewhat
similar lines to those that exist in this country, whose function it
is to supply the press with the latest news on every matter of public
and, I am afraid, sometimes of merely private importance. Whether
these news agencies perform useful functions either in this country or
in Japan, is a matter upon which I shall express no opinion. News
acquired in a hurry in competition with other agencies which exist for
a similar purpose, and purveyed to journals printed in a hurry and
read in a hurry, does not often allow of discrimination being
exercised in regard to its circulation. The sensational element in the
native press in Japan is quite as much in evidence as in that of this
country. In regard to this kind of literary fare, the appetite
increases with feeding, if I may vary an old French proverb, and the
sensational journals of the Japanese capital are increasing in demand
from every part of the country.

As to the part which the press of Japan exercises in moulding public
opinion, I confess I have not formed any clear idea; indeed, it is one
upon which it is difficult to come to any conclusion. How far the
press there moulds, and how far it follows public opinion is somewhat
problematical. Be that as it may, many of the native papers are
vigorously and effectively written, and indeed many eminent men in
Japan have been either directly or indirectly connected with the
press. The newspapers of Japan differ in this respect from those of
this country--that there is a press law there, and newspapers are in
theory, at any rate, somewhat more hampered in their criticisms and
the publication of news than is the case here. This press law seems to
have irritated the English more than the vernacular press of Japan,
especially during the late war. Under the provisions of the law, a
warning is always given to an offending newspaper before any official
action is taken. The English journals in Japan have, perhaps not
unnaturally, not so far been able to divest themselves of the idea
that they have still extra-territorial rights, and are consequently
justified in publishing any criticisms or news irrespective of the
provisions of the press law.

Newspapers in Japan do not of course attain such large circulations as
some of those in England. I do not think there is any paper in the
country with a circulation exceeding 100,000, and there are only one
or two which reach anything like that figure. Advertising in Japan in
papers has not attained the same importance as in this country. Of
course all the journals, whether daily or weekly, have a large number
of advertisements, but the non-advertisement portion of the paper
forms a greater portion of the whole than is the case here. It may
interest some of my readers to know that poetry which has long been
tabooed by the press of this country is still a feature in that of
Japan, and that the novel "to be continued in our next," is also
served up for the delectation of Japanese readers.

A free press in a free country is no doubt an admirable institution,
but it has its disadvantages. I need not enumerate them, as my readers
probably know them as well as I do myself. Indeed, both in England
and America of late years we have had plenty of object-lessons, were
any needed, in regard to these disadvantages. "The yellow press" is a
phrase which has now come into general use to denote the certain kind
of journalism which lives and thrives by pandering to the desire that
so many persons in this world have for morbid sensationalism and the
publication of nauseating and shocking details. People who have
appetites of this kind are in need of having them perennially
gratified, and accordingly it naturally comes about that the
conductors of journals such as I have referred to, if they cannot
provide a sufficient quantity of sensationalism true or partly true,
have either to invent it or exaggerate some perhaps innocent or
innocuous incident. I am sorry to say that yellow journalism is not
only not unknown in Japan, but is apparently in a very flourishing
condition there. I regret the fact all the more because the people of
Japan are not yet sufficiently educated or enlightened to receive what
they read in the newspaper in a sceptical spirit. That educational and
enlightening process is only effected by a long course of newspaper
reading. Even in this country we can remember the time when any
statement was implicitly believed because it was "in the papers." Now
some other and better evidence of the truth of any report is needed
than the publication thereof in a newspaper. Young Japan will no doubt
ere long assimilate this fact, and when it does the yellow press of
Japan will probably find its _clientéle_ a diminishing quantity. I
hope my readers will not deduce from these remarks that I entertain,
on the whole, a poor opinion of the native press of Japan. Considering
the difficulties it has had to contend with, I consider that the
progress it has made during the comparatively few years it has been
in existence is as wonderful as anything in the country. And I am
furthermore of opinion that the influence it exercises is, on the
whole, a healthy one. It has done a great work in the education of the
mass of the Japanese people in the direction of taking a broader view
of life and teaching them that there is a world outside their own
particular locality and beyond their own country. And while referring
to the newspaper press I may also give a meed of praise to the large
number of journals and magazines of a literary, scientific, and
religious nature. The effect of these ably conducted periodicals as an
educational influence must be immense. The number of them is gradually
growing, and the support rendered to them serves to show, were any
proof needed, how profoundly interested the Japan of to-day is in all
those questions, whether political, scientific, religious, or
literary, which are not the possession of or the subject of discussion
among any particular nation but are exercising the minds and
consciences of the civilised world.

One pleasing feature of the native press of Japan I cannot help
referring to, and that is the friendly sentiments which it almost
invariably expresses in regard to Great Britain. As I have before
remarked, it was this country which in some degree influenced at first
the Japanese press. I am pleased that of late at any rate, since the
somewhat heated agitation in reference to the revision of the treaties
has come to an end, its tone has been almost universally friendly to
this country, and its approval of the alliance between Japan and Great
Britain was not only unanimous but enthusiastic.

The English newspapers in Japan are still, as they have always been,
ably conducted journals. Captain Brinkley, the editor of one of them,
is a great authority on everything connected with Japan, and the paper
he edits is worthy of all that is best in English journalism. At the
same time it is hardly necessary to remark that the English press in
Japan exercises little or no influence outside the immediate circle it
represents. It very naturally looks at everything, or almost
everything, not from the point of view of the Japanese but from that
of the foreigner in Japan. It may be truthfully averred of the foreign
press that, considered as a whole, it has never done anything or
attempted to do anything to break down the barriers caused by racial
differences. The European press in Japan has in tone always been
distinctly anti-Japanese, and the sentiments which it has expressed
and the vigorous, not to say violent, language in which those
sentiments have been expressed has undoubtedly in the past occasioned
much bitterness of feeling among the Japanese people or that portion
of it which either read or heard of those sentiments. The
characteristics or idiosyncracies of the people of Japan were either
exaggerated or misrepresented, and there were not unnaturally
reprisals quite as vigorous in the native newspapers. During the war
with China, for example, the attitude of the European press was
exasperating to a degree--that is, exasperating to the Japanese
people. There were journals which avowedly took the part of China and
expressed a desire for China's success. The victories of Japan in the
course of the war were sneered at and at first belittled.
Subsequently, when the success of Japan was self-evident, it was
suggested by some of these newspapers that she was suffering from
swelled head and was in need of being put in her place and kept there.
And, accordingly, when certain of the European Powers stepped in and
deprived Japan of the fruits of her victories, the action of those
Powers was applauded, and the undoubted sympathy of the English people
in England with Japan in the matter was derided by English editors in
Japan as mere maudlin sentimentality. Language of this kind occasioned
deep resentment among the people of the country. The foreign press is
now, I am glad to say, saner, inasmuch as it to some extent recognises
facts and the trend of events, but I fear it even still is for the
most part representative of a community which regards the Japanese
from the standpoint that most Europeans in the Far East regard the
Eastern races with whom they are brought in contact. The position of
the English papers in Japan has, I should say, been considerably
affected of recent years by the development of the vernacular press.
Twenty-five years or so ago they were practically the only organs that
voiced public opinion of any kind in the country. Now they only voice
the opinion of a section of the foreign community. A reference to a
quarter of a century ago brings up memories of a gentleman connected
to some extent with the newspaper press in Japan of those days. I
refer to the late Mr. Wergman, who owned and edited and filled--I am
not quite certain he did not print--that somewhat extraordinary
journal, the Yokohama _Punch_. It appeared at uncertain intervals, and
it dealt both in print and illustration with various members of the
foreign community in Yokohama and its neighbourhood with a vigour and
freedom, not to say licence, which would now hardly be tolerated. Its
proprietor is long since dead, and so I believe is the journal which
he owned and whose fitful appearances used to create such a mild
excitement among the foreign community in Yokohama.

The functions of the press as a mirror of the times, as a censor of
men and things, and as a guide and a leader of public opinion are of
considerable importance. As I have before remarked the press of Japan
is at present if not in its infancy at any rate in its youth. It is
accordingly ebullient, energetic, optimistic. Time will no doubt
correct many of its failings. Be that as it may, I certainly am of
opinion that, considering everything, it has attained a wonderful
degree of development, that it has reached a position of great
importance in the country as an educational and enlightening
influence, and that all who wish well to Japan may look upon its
future with hope. It will no doubt play an important part as the years
roll by in the development of the country and in the holding up before
the people of worthy ideals in reference to economic conditions,
material progress, and the conservation of the prestige and security
of the Japanese Empire.



CHAPTER XVIII

JAPANESE MORALITY


In the Preface I remarked that Japanese morality was a thorny subject.
I use the word morality in its now generally accepted rather than in
its absolutely correct meaning. Morality, strictly speaking, is the
practice of moral duties apart from religion or doctrine; it treats of
actions as being right or wrong--is, in brief, ethics. The old
"morality" play, for example, was not, as some people seem to suppose,
especially concerned with the relations of the sexes; it was a drama
in which allegorical representations of all the virtues and vices were
introduced as _dramatis personæ_. However, words, like everything else
in this world, change their meaning, and, though the dictionary
interpretation of morality is, as I have stated it, colloquially at
any rate, the word has now come for the most part to signify sexual
conduct, and it is in that sense, as I have said, I use it.

The subject of the morality of the Japanese is one that has been much
discussed for many years past, and accordingly is one in regard to
which it may be urged that there is little or nothing more to be said.
I am not of that opinion. In the first place, much of the discussion
has been simply the mere assertions of men, or sometimes of women,
who either did not have the opportunity, or else had not the
inclination, to investigate matters for themselves, and were therefore
largely dependent on the hearsay evidence of not always unprejudiced
persons. Or they sometimes jumped to very pronounced and erroneous
conclusions from extremely imperfect observation or information. Let
me take as an example in point, a lady, now dead, who wrote many
charming books of travel--the late Mrs. Bishop, better known as Miss
Bird. In her journeyings through the country Miss Bird relates in
"Unbeaten Tracks in Japan," that she passed through a wide street in
which the houses were large and handsome and open in front. Their
highly polished floors and passages, she remarks, looked like still
water, the kakemonos, or wall pictures, on their side-walls were
extremely beautiful, and their mats were very fine and white. There
were large gardens at the back with fountains and flowers, and
streams, crossed by light stone bridges, sometimes flowed through the
houses. The lady, who was on the look-out for a resting-place, not
unnaturally expressed a desire to put up at one of these delightful
sylvan retreats, but her native attendant informed her that was
impossible, as they were kashitsukeyas, or tea-houses of a
disreputable character. Miss Bird, on the strength of this
information, thought it incumbent upon herself to pronounce the
somewhat sweeping judgment that "there is much even on the surface to
indicate vices which degrade and enslave the manhood of Japan." Such a
statement is, of course, the merest clap-trap, but even were it true,
it might be permissible to remark that if vice exists it is surely
better for it to be on than beneath the surface. Such vice as does
exist in Japan is, in my opinion, distinctly on the surface, and I
have no hesitation in describing the morals of the Japanese people to
be, on the whole, greatly superior to those of Western nations.

There can, I think, be no question that a large number of European
people have formed their estimate of Japanese women either from a
visit to a comic opera such as "The Geisha," or from a perusal of a
book like Pierre Loti's fascinating work, "Madame Chrysanthéme." This
is in effect the story of a _liaison_ between a man and a Japanese
girl of the lower classes, with, of course, a large amount of local
colouring, and rendered generally charming by the writer's brilliant
literary style. Unfortunately, that large number of Europeans who have
never visited Japan have taken the French academician's study of a
girl of a certain class as a life picture of the typical Japanese
woman who is, accordingly, deemed to be more or less, to use an
accepted euphemism, a person of easy virtue. Nothing could, of course,
be more erroneous, no conclusion further from the truth. The remarks
of Mr. Arthur Diosy in his book, "The New Far East," on this head are
so much to the point in reference to the utter misconception of even
many visitors to Japan in the matter of the chastity of the average
Japanese women that I venture to transcribe them: "Has it not been
repeated to him (the globe-trotter) that these people have no
conception of virtue or of modesty? So he frequently treats the maids
at the inn, the charming human humming-birds who wait upon him at the
tea-house, and the Geisha summoned to entertain him, with a cavalier
familiarity that would infallibly lead to his summary expulsion from
any well-regulated hotel or public-house, or other places of public
entertainment at home, did he dare to show such want of respect to a
chambermaid or to one of the haughty fair ones serving at a bar. He
means no harm in nine cases out of ten; he has been told that
Japanese girls don't mind what you say to them, and as to the
tea-house girls, well, they are no better than they should be ... but
they are good little women, as capable of guarding their virtue as any
in the world, and it saddens one to think how often they endure, from
a feeling of consideration for the foreigner who does not know any
better, they pityingly think, cavalier treatment they would not submit
to from a Japanese."

Having said so much I feel I am free to admit that a somewhat
different standard of morality does obtain in Japan to that which
exists, or is supposed to exist, among Occidental nations. After all,
morality is to some extent a matter of convention, and a people must,
I suggest, be judged rather by the way in which it lives up to its
standard than by the standard itself, which among some Western nations
is not always strictly observed. The whole subject of morality between
the sexes is one upon which a portly volume might be written. The
sexual relations have been affected by many circumstances, some of
them entirely conventional and having little or nothing to do with
morality as such, while poetry and romance and sentiment have been
allowed to complicate, and still render difficult a dispassionate
consideration of the whole matter. Macaulay in one of his essays has
observed that "the moral principle of a woman is frequently more
impaired by a single lapse from virtue than that of a man by twenty
years of intrigue." He explains this seeming paradox by asserting that
"a vice sanctioned by the general opinion is merely a vice, while a
vice condemned by the general opinion produces a pernicious effect on
the whole character." "One," says Macaulay, "is a local malady, the
other is a constitutional taint." I have quoted the famous historian
in this connection because his observations are, I think, illustrative
of my contention, viz., that morality is largely a matter of
convention, sanctioned or condemned by what Macaulay terms "the
general opinion."

I frankly admit that prostitution has never been regarded in Japan as
it is, or is affected to be, in this and other European countries. In
ancient days the public women of the capital and the large towns were
as famous as in Athens of old, and were regarded as amongst the best
educated and best mannered of their sex. The Japanese have ever looked
upon prostitution as what is termed a necessary evil, and they have
always sought to regulate and supervise it with a view of obviating
those evils, terrible in their consequences, which are frequently the
result of permitting it to go unchecked. And accordingly the Yoshiwara
has long been a recognised institution in every considerable town in
the country, the Yoshiwara being that particular portion of the town
in which prostitutes are alone permitted to reside. There is, so far
as I know, no prostitution outside the Yoshiwara, and the inmates
thereof are subject to a rigorous supervision and inspection, medical
and otherwise, which has produced excellent results. The inmates of
the Yoshiwara are not recruited as are the similar class in the West.
Here the "unfortunate" usually plies her trade as a _dernier ressort_.
In a moment of temptation she has "gone wrong," as the phrase goes,
the fact becomes public, she is too often cold-shouldered and hustled
even by her immediate relations, and her downward progress is swift
and certain. Nor is there for her, except in rare cases, any chance of
rehabilitation. She is too hopeless to exclaim "Resurgam!" and if in
an optimistic frame of mind she did so purpose she would find the
consummation difficult if not impossible. She is, in a word, on the
way to irretrievable ruin and a shameful end, and she knows it.

Such is, as I have said, not the case in Japan. The lot of the
prostitute there has never been regarded with the loathing which it
excites in this country. Houses of ill-fame were, and are still,
recruited not from those whose previous lapse from virtue has rendered
no other mode of livelihood possible than that from immorality, but by
those whom stern necessity has driven to the step as a means either of
supporting themselves or of assisting parents or their near relatives.
Such a sacrifice--a terrible sacrifice, I admit--has in Japan never
been regarded with horror, but as in a sense laudable. The finger of
scorn must not be pointed at a woman who has voluntarily sacrificed
what women hold most dear, not from lust or from the desire of leading
a gay life or pampering or adorning the body, but perhaps to save
father or kin from ruin or starvation. The Yoshiwara has, of course,
other recruits, but in the main its inmates are not the victims of
lust but of self-sacrifice. There is too often a whole tragedy in the
story of a Japanese girl of this kind, and it is deplorable when the
self-righteous European comes along and points the finger of scorn at
her. I am aware that though not despised, as in this country, the lot
of the inmate of the Yoshiwara is often, if not always, a horrible
one. She is, as a rule, sold, or sells herself, for a lump sum of
money to which amount is added the cost of her outfit, usually as much
as the price paid to the woman or her relatives. Until this amount was
worked off--and the accounts were, of course, not over accurately
kept--the woman was to all intents the chattel of her master. This
has, undoubtedly, for many centuries been the custom of the country. I
am glad, however, to be able to state that quite recently the highest
court in Japan has decided that, whatever custom may have decreed, the
law gives, and will give, no sanction to any such custom. A girl
confined in the Yoshiwara was forcibly taken away therefrom. The owner
of the house in which she resided, as her debt had not been
liquidated, considered he had a lien upon her, and he invoked the aid
of the law to assist him to assert what he considered to be his rights
and retake possession of the girl. The case was strenuously fought and
taken to several courts, with the result I have stated. This decision
will probably have far-reaching effects and declaring, as it does,
that the inmates of the Yoshiwara are not slaves or chattels, it is to
be cordially welcomed.

The assertion of Miss Bird, already referred to, that the manhood of
Japan is enslaved and degraded by vice is one which I have no
hesitation in describing as gross exaggeration. Vice, of course, there
is in Japan, vice of various kinds and degrees, but the ordinary
Japanese man is not, in my opinion, nearly so immoral as the average
European. The chastity of the Japanese woman I place still higher. The
fact, already stated, that the inmates of the Yoshiwara are not
generally recruited from those who have lapsed from virtue might be
urged in proof of this. Nor is the fact that prostitution is not in
Japan regarded with the same loathing as in this country, in my
opinion, to be taken as any evidence of an immoral tone. The ideas
that obtain on the matter, in Japan at any rate, hold out the
possibility of moral redemption for the inmates of the Yoshiwara, and
as a matter of fact many women in Japan who, through the force of
compulsion, have entered this place, frequently marry, and marry well,
and subsequently live absolutely chaste lives. The standard of
morality among the married women of Japan is, I may remark, high, and
is rarely lowered.

I hope I shall not shock my readers if I remark that I consider the
stringent regulations that exist in Japan as to the supervision of the
Yoshiwara in many respects admirable. It will probably surprise many
persons to learn that the high state of organisation in regard to
everything connected with the superintendence of these places, as also
the development of lock hospitals, is largely due to the zeal and
exertions of the late Dr. G. Birnie Hill, of the Royal Navy, who was
for many years lent by the Admiralty to the Japanese Government for
that purpose. Under his auspices a stringent system of medical
supervision was organised, which has been attended with excellent
results in the direction of stamping out and obviating diseases which,
I may observe, are of foreign importation. I know that the existence
of any system of medical inspection will, in the estimate of a large
number of estimable men and women in this country, be regarded as
proof positive of the immorality of the Japanese. "We mustn't
recognise vice," is their contention. I am of opinion, on the
contrary, that we should either recognise vice and restrict, restrain,
and regulate it, or else make vice illegal, as the Puritans did, and
fine or imprison both men and women addicted to it. I could understand
either of these two courses, but I must confess that I altogether fail
to fathom the state of mind of those persons who adopt neither
opinion, but either assert or infer that in the name of religion,
morality, modesty, and many other commendable things, we should permit
our streets and thoroughfares to be infested by women plying their
immoral trade with all the resultant consequences.

  [Illustration: THE ETERNAL FEMININE
      FROM A PRINT BY TOSHIKATA]

As I stated at the commencement of this chapter, a nation should be
judged not only by its standard of morality but by the degree in which
it lives up to or falls short of that standard. Judged by this, surely
the fairest, the only fair, rule, Japan has every reason to be
considered a moral country. Those shocking crimes which appear to be
the outcome of either the aberration or the inversion of the sexual
instincts are almost unknown there. Nor do I consider that the public
estimate of prostitution on the whole makes for immorality. If an evil
exist, and prostitution is undoubtedly an evil, it is surely better to
regulate it than to affect to be oblivious of it. The Japanese
attitude towards prostitution at any rate leaves a door open for the
woman who has, from whatever the reason, lapsed from the paths of
virtue to return thereto. This appears to my mind to be a more
satisfactory state of things than the continual harrying and worrying
of prostitutes in the name of indignant virtue and the driving of them
on the streets. The aspect of the great thoroughfares of London,
especially by night, does not give the Oriental visitor thereto a high
idea of English morality. It is, nevertheless, an extraordinary fact
that the Englishman or the Englishwoman who has mayhap lived in London
most of his or her life, when he or she visits Japan in the course of,
perhaps, "a round the world trip" in ninety days, and learns that
there is in each Japanese town a Yoshiwara, the inmates of which are
subject to supervision and regulation, lifts up his or her hands in
holy horror, returns home with a virtuous indignation, and has no
hesitation in henceforth declaring, whether in speech or writing, that
the Japanese are a grossly immoral people.

The average Japanese is, very rightly in my opinion, indignant at the
constant assertions of writers, well or ill-informed, that his country
is essentially immoral. He is not only indignant but astounded. He
has, if he has been to this country, seen here much that has not
tended to impress him with the belief that the English people are
themselves in a position to dogmatise on this vexed question of
morality. He is, if he has visited the great cities and towns of Great
Britain, by no means convinced that the action of Japan in
establishing a Yoshiwara whose inmates are under proper supervision,
medical and otherwise, is not better from every point of view, that of
morality included, than turning loose women into the streets to accost
every passer-by and place temptations in the way of youth. On the
other hand, the Japanese who has not left his own country, but is of
an observant nature and of a logical disposition, fails to comprehend
why the European in Europe should dogmatise upon and affect to be
disgusted with what he terms the immorality of the Japanese. The
Japanese who has lived all his life in his own country has had ample
opportunities for studying the Europeans resident there, and I fear he
has not always been impressed by their high moral tone or their
ultra-moral conduct. I might say much more upon that head, but I shall
refrain.

I conclude this chapter by reiterating the expression of my belief
that the Japanese are, when rightly considered, a moral people. They
have their own code of morals, and they act up to it. There are few
nations of whom as much could be said.



CHAPTER XIX

JAPAN AND CHINA


The results of the war between Russia and Japan seem to have caused a
large number of persons to work themselves into a state of incipient
panic regarding what has been graphically, if not quite correctly,
termed "the yellow peril." Japan, a nation of some 47,000,000 people,
had thrown down the gauntlet and totally defeated, both by land and
sea, one of the great military Powers of the world. Japan had done all
this as a result of some quarter of a century spent in modelling and
training her Army and Navy on European lines, and adopting European
arms of destruction. Of course, so argued the panic-mongers, China
must be impressed by such an object-lesson--China, which has for so
many years past been, and is still being, squeezed by the European
Powers. The result of Japan's triumph would inevitably be, so we were
asked to believe, that China would invite the former to organise the
Chinese Army and Navy on Japanese lines. As the outcome thereof, a
nation, not of forty, but of four hundred millions, would be trained
to arms, and, if the Chinese raw material proved as good as the
Japanese, a nation so powerful, if it proceeded West on conquest bent,
would carry everything before it, and, unlike the last Eastern
invaders of Europe, the Turks, would be unlikely to be stopped on its
onward course at Vienna. The German Emperor was amongst those who have
voiced the cry of "the yellow peril." He does not, however, appear to
have cast himself for the part of John Sobieski, with Berlin instead
of Vienna as the decisive battle-ground. The persons who have so
argued and have attempted to raise this silly cry of "the yellow
peril," with a view of alarming Europe were, I think, merely the
victims of an exuberant imagination. Their facts have no existence
save in the realms of fancy, and as they reasoned from faulty premises
on imperfect or erroneous information, their conclusions were, as
might have been expected, not only inaccurate, but absurdly ludicrous.
There is no "yellow peril," no prospect whatever of it, either present
or remote.

The attitude of China, that vast though heterogeneous nation, is,
since the close of the Russo-Japanese War, I admit, one of the most
intense interest. Some persons may consider that in a book about Japan
any other than a passing reference to China is out of place, and that,
moreover, for me to deal with the attitude of China is to wander into
political regions--a peripatetic proceeding I deprecated in the
Preface. I am of opinion, however, that it is impossible to thoroughly
understand Japan and to appreciate the attitude of that country to the
Western Powers without some remarks respecting the present and
prospective relations of China and Japan. I also think that some
consideration of this bogey of "the yellow peril" is not only out of
place but indispensable in order to form a correct idea of the precise
effect of recent events in the Far East and the possible outcome of
them.

To any person who has closely studied Far Eastern problems the
attitude of China since the close of the war between Japan and Russia
is in no way surprising; the forces that have long been steadily at
work in that ancient Empire are now only attaining any degree of
development. There is nothing, in my opinion, in the history of the
world more dramatic than the way in which China has waited. That
country is now, I believe, about to show that the waiting policy has
been a sound one, and I am confident it will eventually prove
triumphant. In 1900 I expressed in print the opinion that not a single
acre of Japanese soil would ever be permitted to be annexed by a
foreign country; I spoke of the policy of China for the Chinese, and
remarked that that principle and policy had been repeated throughout
the length and breadth of that vast Empire, and had been absorbed, as
it were, into the very marrow of its people. It is in many respects
interesting and curious, indeed almost comical, the manner in which
that lesson has been driven home upon the Chinese. Russia has always
been to them a powerful, persistent, and aggressive neighbour, a more
formidable aggressor, indeed, because perhaps nearer, than any of the
other Powers of Europe, whom I am sorry to say China has always looked
upon very much as the substantial householder regards the burglar. Now
that Japan has tried conclusions with Russia and has soundly thrashed
the latter, great, slumbering China, proud, conservative, but
supremely conscious of its latent resources, has been waking up. The
Chinese, as a matter of fact, have very little veneration, respect, or
esteem, for their Japanese neighbours. The former plume themselves on
being the aristocrats of the East, and they reason, with some show of
plausibility, that if the upstart Japanese have been able to so
thoroughly rout the Russian forces the potential possibilities of
China on the warpath are enormous. Every thoughtful student of the
East has looked forward to what I may term the Japanisation of China
as one of the inevitable results of the recent conflict in the Far
East. To a certain extent the Japanisation of China has commenced, but
at the same time one cannot be oblivious of the fact that the Chinese,
with their traditions and sense of self-importance, have not the
slightest intention of slavishly following in the lead of those
islanders whom they have always contemned, but mean to strike out a
line for themselves. If what we believe to be civilisation is to be
developed in China, it will be developed by the Chinese themselves. If
they are going to possess railways, telegraphs, telephones, and all
the machinery of that material advancement which we call progress, and
sometimes civilisation, the Chinese themselves will be the importers
and adapters and, in due course, the manufacturers thereof.

Now that the great fight in the Far East is over, it certainly looks
as if the Chinese at last realised the fact that development is an
inevitable necessity. The master-spirits in the country have assuredly
come to the conclusion, possibly with regret, that China can no longer
remain in that delightful state of isolation which permitted every man
in the Empire to spend the arc of his life, from his cradle to his
grave, in a state of restful security. China is, in spite of herself,
and certainly against the inclinations of the mass of the populace,
being swept into the maelstrom of struggle now that the people, or
rather their leaders, realise the position. Their attitude seems to me
to be magnificent. If railways have to be made they will be made by
the Chinese; the concessions already granted must--this is the
universal feeling--be bought back, even at a profit, from those who
have acquired them, by the Chinese themselves. Not one new concession
must, on any pretence whatever, ever again be granted to a foreigner.
And if this Western civilisation is to be forced upon the Chinese,
they intend to take it with all its attendant precautions. They are
naturally a peaceful and unaggressive people, but they have grasped
the fact that, as a strong man armed is in the best position to
safeguard his house, however peaceful his individual proclivities may
be, so too, if a nation is to defend its territory and its territorial
wealth against spoliation, it must be armed for that purpose.

For many years past Great Britain and France and other countries have
been sending missionaries to China to expound to the Chinese people
those sublime doctrines enunciated in the Sermon on the Mount. The
Chinese have diagnosed, from the acts of the European Powers generally
as well as from the actions of individual Europeans resident in China,
the precise value to be attached to Christianity. For purely defensive
purposes China will have almost immediately an Army which has been
effectively described by the _Times_ correspondent as being able to
relieve the European Powers of any anxiety respecting the integrity of
the Chinese Empire. People who have not visited the Far East, and who
entirely derive their opinions and information in regard thereto from
the newspapers, cannot possibly realise what effect the policy of the
European Powers has had upon nations like China and Japan. A
professedly Christian country like Great Britain going to war to force
the sale of opium on a people who did not want to be debauched; a
power like Germany annexing Kiaochao as a golgotha for two murdered
priests--proceedings such as these, and there have been many such
during the last forty or fifty years, have been taken seriously to
heart by the Far Eastern races, whether in China or Japan. All the
time the Occidental Powers, with a total lack of any sense of humour,
have persisted in sending missionaries to these people to inculcate
doctrines which are the very antitheses of the practices of European
nations to these people whom it is sought to convert. It would be, in
my opinion, nothing more than the outcome of eternal justice if this
great big, old, sleepy China, which has been for so many years pricked
and prodded and despoiled, were at length to take up arms for a great
revenge. But China, if my prevision be correct, is going to do nothing
of the kind. What she does mean to do is simply to keep China for the
Chinese. She is not, as so many persons imagined and still imagine
would be the case, going to be led as a powerful ox with a Japanese
driver. Chinese students are in hundreds in Japan, learning from that
country all that the Japanese have acquired from Europe. Young, alert,
capable men I found them without exception, sucking the brains of all
that is best in Japan precisely as the Japanese have sucked the brains
of all that is best in Europe for their own objects and to their own
advantage. The immediate danger in China seems, so far as I can judge,
to be that the anti-foreign feeling, which is undoubtedly intense
especially in the south of the Empire, may come to a head any day and
prematurely explode. The nincompoops and quidnuncs and newspaper men
ravenous for copy who prate about a "yellow peril" may, in this latter
fact, find some slight excuse for their blatant lucubrations. There is
no real "yellow peril." Poor old China, which has been so long
slumbering, is just rousing herself and making arrangements for
defence against the "white peril," materialistic civilisation, and
misrepresented Christianity.

The only "yellow peril" that I have been able to diagnose is the peril
to the trade of Europe and the United States of America with China--a
peril that appears to me to be imminent. That Japan intends to capture
a large, indeed the largest, proportion of that trade I am firmly
convinced. That she will succeed in effecting her object I have not
the slightest doubt. At the present moment only about 5 per cent. of
the imports into China are from Japan, the remainder being either from
India, Europe, or America. Situated in close contiguity to China,
having assimilated everything of importance not only in regard to the
employment but the manufacture of machinery from Europe and the United
States, possessing an industrious and intelligent population, Japan is
quite obviously in a magnificent position to supply China, and supply
her on much better terms, with the greater number of those commodities
which China now has to import either from Europe or America. Japan, as
I have said, intends to lay herself out to capture the major portion
of this trade; she is quite justified in doing so, and there is every
reason to suppose that she will attain her object.

That the Chinese students who have come to Japan and are flocking
there month by month in increasing numbers, with a thirst for
knowledge and a desire to assimilate all those Western influences and
ideas and aids that have placed Japan in her present prominent
position among the nations, when they, in due course, return to their
own country, will of a certainty exercise a considerable influence
therein, there can be no doubt. I also feel sure that Japan will
render considerable assistance to China in regard to the remodelling
and reorganisation of the Chinese Army and Navy. It is as certain as
anything in this uncertain world that before very many years have
elapsed the naval and military forces of China will undergo as great a
transformation as those of Japan have undergone. I believe, and I may
say that this belief is shared by a number of naval and military men
who have had practical opportunities for forming an opinion in the
matter, that the raw material existing in China for the making of an
effective and efficient Army and Navy is as good as that in Japan. We
know that the late General Gordon, who had excellent opportunities for
arriving at a sound conclusion in the matter, expressed himself in
glowing terms in regard to the capabilities of the Chinaman as a
soldier were he properly trained, organised, and officered. But that
China, any more than Japan, entertains ambitious military projects I
utterly disbelieve. The only aspiration of China as regards Europe
is--to be let alone. She fears, as she has every reason to fear,
European aggression. She has had ample experience in the past that the
flimsiest pretexts have been utilised for the purpose of filching her
territory and exacting from her pecuniary fines under the name of
indemnities. We know by a recent incident that the indemnity exacted
from China by this country in respect of the Boxer rebellion was not
really required for the ostensible purposes for which it was imposed.
A large proportion of it lay at the Bank of England unappropriated,
and eventually was attached by a rapacious Chancellor of the Exchequer
for the purpose of alleviating the burdens of the British taxpayer.
China is determined to have no more incidents such as this in the
future, and the Russo-Japanese War has given her occasion for serious
thought in the matter as well as pointed an obvious moral. As a result
of her cogitations, she has concluded that the most effective means
she can take in the direction of preserving the inviolability of her
territory and preventing the exaction of periodical monetary tributes
on the part of foreign Powers, is to establish a strong and efficient
Army and Navy. As a matter of fact, I consider that in so determining
China is acting not only in her own interests, but in the interests of
the Great Powers of Europe.

Not very many years ago that excellent sailor, Lord Charles Beresford,
wrote a book entitled, somewhat too previously, "The Break-up of
China." In selecting a title for his work Lord Charles without doubt
voiced the opinion prevalent, not only in this country but in Europe,
at the time he wrote it. The statesmen of nearly all the foreign
Powers then seemed to have arrived at the conclusion that the scramble
for China was imminent and, utilising their experience from what took
place when the scramble for Africa was effected twenty years ago, they
began apportioning in advance the territory that ought to fall to
their lot. In this matter, however, they were wofully mistaken; the
diplomatic physicians of the world may have diagnosed the symptoms
quite accurately, but the patient surprised them all in regard to the
course of the disease and her recuperative powers. There will be no
"break-up" of China, and consequently we are not likely to witness any
scramble for China. There has undoubtedly been an awakening of China,
an awakening to her danger, to a sense of the extent to which her
interests were imperilled. She wants, as I have said, to be severely
left alone, and she is determined as far as possible to effect that
consummation. The men of light and leading in China know perfectly
well that they cannot now, even if they would, shut their country
against European trade, European residents, European visitors. They
are prepared to accept all these, but they will not have European
interference. China is determined to work out her own destiny or
salvation, call it which you will, and Japan is both willing and
anxious to give her all possible assistance in that direction. The
"yellow peril" bogey is, in my opinion, the silliest and most absurd
cry that has ever been put forward by responsible persons.



CHAPTER XX

EUROPEANS IN JAPAN


Like everything else in Japan, the status and position of the
foreigner have been materially changed, in fact revolutionised, of
recent years. When the country was, in the first instance, opened
after its long period of isolation from the rest of the world,
treaties were signed with Great Britain, the United States, France,
and nearly all the other European Powers, whereby Japan agreed to open
seven ports, subsequently known as "treaty ports," to foreign trade in
which ports foreigners were to be permitted to reside and to carry on
their business. Foreigners were at the same time--not by the wish of
the Japanese Government, but as the outcome of the pressure put upon
Japan by the various Powers--granted extra-territorial rights, that is
to say they were exempt from the jurisdiction of the Japanese courts
of law. This being the case foreign courts were constituted in Japan
with jurisdiction over the subjects of the nation which set up the
court. In these courts foreigners sued and were sued, and crimes
committed by and against foreigners were tried. As regards Great
Britain a Supreme Court for China and Japan was constituted whose
headquarters were at Shanghai. There were Consular Courts and a very
involved kind of legal procedure generally established, mostly by
Order in Council, which I need not consider in detail as it is now
effete. There was, moreover, as regards Great Britain at any rate, a
Bar practising in these courts, one member of which, Mr. F. V.
Dickins, is justly remembered not for his forensic but for his
literary efforts in the direction of depicting the inner life of the
Japanese people. Into these foreign courts all the jargon, the quips
and quibbles of English law were imported. These courts were, not
unnaturally, an eyesore to the Japanese people. I may observe in
passing that these extra-territorial courts still exist in China, and
though the Supreme Court of China and Japan has been shorn of that
part of its title which refers to Japan it remains, and is likely for
some time longer to remain, the supreme legal tribunal of the English
residents in the Chinese Empire. But besides extra-territorial courts
there were extra-territorial post-offices. The English, the American,
and, I think, the French Governments had post-offices in Japan which
transacted postal duties of all kinds just as if they had been in
London, New York, and Paris instead of in a foreign country. There may
have been some excuse for this in the early days; but these foreign
post-offices remained until quite recently, depriving Japan of a
portion of her revenue at a time when she had developed a magnificent
postal service of her own. Over and above foreign courts and
post-offices there were actually foreign municipal bodies. A certain
amount of ground at the treaty ports was constituted a foreign
settlement wherein the foreigners resided. Within these settlements a
municipal council was formed, which regulated everything therein. In
these settlements the Japanese Government had no more power or
authority than they had in Battersea. These settlements were in
effect foreign territory on the Japanese soil, to use what seems to be
a paradox.

In exchange for the privilege of extra-territoriality granted to
foreign residents in Japan, they were placed under restrictions. These
included not being able to travel in the country outside a radius of 25
miles from the treaty ports unless provided with passports, which, I
may remark, there was never any difficulty in obtaining, and not being
permitted to live beyond the same radius. Foreigners engaged in trade
in Japan had a great advantage in regard to a very low scale of customs
duties, not more than 5 per cent. _ad valorem_, but they were strictly
prohibited from owning land. This system of extra-territoriality was
extremely unpopular with the whole of the Japanese people, and a
constant movement was in force in the country for the abrogation of
what the Japanese considered an invidious distinction and in the
direction of making every person who voluntarily took up residence in
Japan answerable to the law of the land and under the jurisdiction of
the Japanese courts. The revenue of the country was also, of course,
injuriously effected by the post-office privileges already referred to
as well as by the differential treatment of foreigners in regard to
import duties. As was to be expected, any proposal for the abolition of
extra-territorial rights and the revision of the regulations in regard
to import duties met with a strenuous opposition from the foreign
residents in Japan. On the other hand, it must be confessed that the
Japanese people opposed any compromise in the direction of granting
foreigners facilities in return for the privileges that were asked to
be waived. The proposal to allow foreigners to own land was vigorously
inveighed against. So was a suggestion to establish mixed courts--the
kind of compromise, by the way, which would probably have equally
irritated foreigners and natives. It is, I think, satisfactory to be
able to relate that in the end and after many years of agitation it was
the British Government which took the initiative in the matter, and
some ten or twelve years ago concluded a treaty with Japan wherein the
privileges of English courts, European municipalities, and differential
import duties were abandoned, while in return proprietary rights,
except in regard to land, were granted to foreigners.

There are, mayhap, some persons at the present day who are not aware
of the fact that for a good many years after Japan was to a limited
extent opened to foreigners several of the Powers retained an armed
force in that country for the protection of foreign residents. Great
Britain, for instance, had a large number of marines at Yokohama. The
presence of these troops was extremely unpalatable to the Japanese
authorities, but of course pleasing to the foreign residents, who
opposed their withdrawal just as they opposed the abrogation of
extra-territoriality. I am afraid the reason for the removal of this
armed force as far as Great Britain was concerned was economic rather
than founded on any particular principle. Be that as it may, in 1873
Japan was successful in assuring the British Government that she was
able and prepared to protect all foreigners residing in the country,
and in that year the last foreign soldier was withdrawn from Japanese
territory.

Those who remember the agitation--and a very fierce and noisy and
provocative agitation it was--in opposition to the revision of Japan's
treaties with the foreign Powers with a view of getting rid of
extra-territoriality will have a lively recollection of the
pessimistic forebodings of the speakers and writers in reference to
the future of the foreign community in that country were the exclusive
privileges they then enjoyed taken away from them. The gentlemen who
uttered these sentiments were no doubt sincerely convinced of their
truth, but I am glad to be able to relate that time has shown them to
have been false prophets. There may be, and no doubt are, foreigners
in Japan who bemoan the good old days, but I am confident that the
great mass of the foreign community now recognises the fact that the
revision of the treaties and the withdrawal of extra-territorial
privileges were inevitable and that no evil results have ensued in
consequence. The Japanese courts of law have neither terrorised nor
oppressed foreigners. They have, on the contrary, sought to hold the
scales of justice evenly, and I believe that these courts now enjoy,
as I am sure they deserve, the fullest confidence in their integrity
and justice of every foreigner residing in the country.

I have noticed a tendency on the part of writers on Japan to refer to
the foreign community in that Empire as if it were a community bound
together by some particular principle and working in unison for some
definite object. Of course such a view is nonsensical. The foreign
community in Japan, in which for the purpose of my remarks I do not
include the Chinese, is one composed of a large number of
nationalities which have very little in common, and amongst whom a
good deal of rivalry prevails. It may have been that when the question
of revising the treaties was being keenly agitated, self-interest, or
what was deemed to be self-interest, occasioned a sort of fictitious
unity among foreigners, but at the present time, so far as my
observation has gone, there is very little real unity among the
foreigners in Japan. The English, of course, predominate in numbers,
and they have also the major portion of the trade in their hands.
Whether such a condition of things will much longer obtain is a moot
question. I am of opinion, as I have elsewhere indicated, that the
trade of Japan will very largely pass into the hands of the Japanese
themselves, and that the foreign element in Japan is accordingly not
only unlikely to increase in number but is almost certain to diminish.

In the early days when Japan was first opened to the Western world and
English traders went there to push their commodities, we heard a good
deal about the peculiar ethics of Japanese commercial morality. The
European merchant either was, or affected to be, shocked at the loose
commercial code of honour of those with whom he was brought into
contact in Japan, and he expressed himself accordingly. However much
or little ground there may have been for these accusations many years
ago I am not in a position to judge. In forming any opinion in this
matter, if that opinion is to be correct, it is, I think, essential to
remember the conditions of society in Japan when it was first opened
to European trade. In old Japan there were four recognised classes of
society--the Samurai, the farmers, the artisans, and the merchants.
The last two were somewhat looked down upon by the others. It is,
accordingly, hardly to be wondered at that the condition of industry
and commerce was the least satisfactory feature in the initial stages
of national development. Despised alike by the gentry and the
peasantry, the traders were in a somewhat sorry plight when Japan was
thrown open. The low social status of the trading class in Japan was
due to the feudal ideas which prevailed for so many centuries. The
people were impressed with the productive power of the soil, and
jumped at the conclusion that the merchant class must necessarily be
immoral, since it purchased the produce of the soil at a low price and
sold it at a profit. Very similar ideas have prevailed in countries
other than Japan. It is not so very many years ago that in England a
man of good family, much less a member of the aristocracy, going into
trade was looked upon with no very favourable eyes. We know that the
ideas that not so very many years ago obtained in this country in
reference to this matter have entirely altered. Trade is now
considered to furnish most excellent scope and opportunities for the
energy and capital of all classes of the community. And the same ideas
have been working in Japan. The merchant there is no longer a member
of a despised class. The scions of the most ancient families in Japan,
as in England, have embarked in trade and brought to their business
those high ideals which they have derived from their ancestors. The
criticisms of commercial morality in Japan which were so prevalent not
very many years ago are now entirely obsolete. I fear, however, that
the effect of them still to some extent remains, and that there are a
large number of people in this country who even now believe that the
Japanese, from a commercial point of view, are what is termed
"tricky." I hope my remarks on this head may serve to disabuse the
minds of some of those persons who still entertain these extremely
erroneous ideas.

I do not think that there is a very large amount of social intercourse
between the Europeans in Japan and the Japanese themselves. The
European in the East, or at any rate the Englishman in the East, so
far as I have been able to judge, always appears to me to assume an
air--it may be an unconscious air--of superiority to the inhabitants
of the country in which he resides. That this is frequently extremely
galling to them there can be no question. Any one who has conversed
with the intelligent native of India must be aware of that fact.
Whether the greatness of the Anglo-Saxon race be in some degree or in
a large measure due to the belief that the Anglo-Saxon has in himself
is a question I need not consider. But I think there can be no doubt
of the fact that this sense of superiority, however much or little
justification there may be for it, is a characteristic not likely to
be appreciated by foreigners, and especially Orientals, and I think I
am justified in remarking that the Japanese do not at all appreciate
it.

The European may impress the Oriental in one of several ways; he has
for the most part done so by his great military or naval prowess. That
is the way in which Great Britain has impressed the natives of India.
The English are in that country as a conquering race. They have
practically never been defeated, and the respect which they have
obtained is the respect that the weak have for the strong. In Japan
such a state of things is no longer possible. The results of the
Russian War have rendered it impossible for all time. An Oriental
nation has met a European Power on the field and on the high seas, and
soundly thrashed it. There is, however, another way in which the
European might impress the Oriental. The former professes to have a
purer religion and a higher code of morals. He has sought to impose
his religion upon every race with which he has been brought into
contact, and if he has not sought to impose his moral system, he has,
at any rate, severely criticised that of the people with whom he has
been brought into contact, and compared it with his own to their
disadvantage. In Japan, where there is a large foreign community, the
thinking, logical Japanese has had abundant opportunities for studying
not only the principles of Western religions and Western morality, but
also the practice of them by Western residents in his own land.

The result has been to give him much food for reflection. He reads the
criticisms of Europe upon the Yoshiwara and the Japanese attitude
generally towards prostitution, while he has ample evidence of the
fact that many of the patrons of the Yoshiwara are to be found among
the European community in Japan. And so of religion. The various
Christian denominations of the Western world aspire to convert Japan,
and send missionaries there for that purpose. The Japanese gives them
a fair field, and he has shown no aversion to investigate their
dogmas. At the same time he sees that a large proportion, I might
perhaps say the majority, of the European residents in Japan do not
trouble to attend the Christian places of worship, while many of them
make no disguise of their contempt for Christianity in general and the
missionaries in particular. What conclusion, may I ask, can the
logical, reasoning Japanese come to in these matters?

There can be no doubt whatever that the foreign residents in Japan
have accomplished a great work in regard to the development of the
country. The settlements established by them at the various treaty
ports and the administration of those settlements as municipalities
reflected great credit upon all those concerned, and was a splendid
object-lesson for the Japanese people. Great Britain, too, may, I
think, be congratulated on the men she has selected to represent her
at the Japanese Court. There is no man to whom both Great Britain and
Japan are more indebted than the late Sir Harry Parkes. I cannot
remember during how many years he was the British Minister at Tokio,
but during the whole of his term of office he used his best endeavours
in the direction of showing Japan the way she ought to go in the path
of progress, and in rendering her all the assistance possible in that
direction by procuring for her the very best assistance of every
description. I strongly advise every person interested in Japan and
its development to peruse the Life of Sir Harry Parkes, by Mr. F. V.
Dickins and Mr. Stanley L. Poole. One interesting feature in Sir Harry
Parkes's career I may record here, as I have had it on the authority
of a gentleman conversant with the facts. Sir Harry was always a
_persona gratissima_ with the Japanese Government, and about the year
1877 he and the late Admiral Sir A. P. Ryder, then Commander-in-Chief
on the China station, had a conversation respecting, in view of the
aggressive policy of Russia in the Far East, obtaining a British
coaling station much further north than Hong Kong. Admiral Ryder
mentioned as an appropriate place the island of Tsu-shima, so famous
in the recent war with Russia. Sir Harry Parkes promised to use his
good offices with the Japanese Government to obtain permission to
occupy this island with a view of its ultimate cession to Great
Britain. The permission was duly obtained, and Admiral Ryder thereupon
cabled home to the Admiralty for the necessary permission to take over
the island. His request was promptly vetoed, and Great Britain,
accordingly, lost for ever the opportunity of obtaining an admirable
coaling station and a splendid strategical position in the Far East.
It is quite certain that Japan does not now regret the refusal of
Great Britain to accept her too generous offer.

Europeans have been in Japan, and very much in evidence, during the
past half-century or so, but I do not think that the residents in the
country have exercised much influence upon Japan. During that period
there have been enormous changes; the whole life of the nation has, in
fact, been revolutionised. But these changes have not been wrought, or
indeed greatly affected, by the European residents in the country. The
changes have emanated from Europe and America--not that portion of
Europe and America which went to Japan for its own objects. I make, of
course, a particular exception in regard to those naval and military
and scientific men to whose exertions Japan owes so much of her
advancement. But I do say of the ordinary trader or merchant that he
has come to Japan, and left it without producing much effect, if any,
on the development of the nation, or leaving behind him any influences
of a useful nature.

The European in Japan necessarily suggests some allusion to that large
and annually increasing number of persons who visit the country. Their
residence in Japan is usually of very limited duration, but, however
short it may be, it is apparently quite long enough to enable them to
form pronounced views upon many and varied matters connected with the
country and the people. I have no hesitation in asserting that the
erroneous opinions so prevalent in Europe in regard to Japan and the
Japanese people are largely the outcome of the far too numerous books
that have been written and published in reference to that country of
recent years. "Ten Days in Japan" may be an alluring title for a book
of travel, but quite evidently ten days are not sufficient to form an
opinion and promulgate it upon every phase of Japanese life, nor for
the solution of many vexed problems. And yet, so far as my perusal of
these books has gone, the shorter the period a man or woman has spent
in Japan the more pronounced his or her views in regard to the
country. The matter is hardly worth referring to were it not that
these opinions, hastily arrived at and apparently as hurriedly rushed
into print, have been accepted by some people as incontrovertible
facts. Another class of work that I think a reader should be warned
against is the book of the man who has lived in Japan for a time and
seen life only from a certain standpoint. The book of a bishop or a
missionary may be and often is of undoubted value in reference to his
work and matters connected with his work, but when the writer gets
outside this particular province and deals with subjects his knowledge
of which must be at the best second-hand he is almost certain to
perpetrate some flagrant mistakes, and occasionally indite the most
egregious nonsense. I shall not particularly apply these remarks, but
I think it necessary to utter this word of warning as the literary
effusions of some very estimable men and women in regard to Japan have
given occasion for many false misconceptions being entertained in
regard to that country.

  [Illustration: A MINISTERING ANGEL
      FROM A PRINT BY TOSHIKATA]

The cry of "Japan for the Japanese" has undoubtedly been heard in that
land, and during the agitation over the revision of the treaties the
foreign community appeared to be under the impression that the policy
emphasised in that cry was the one which Japan desired to attain. For
myself I do not believe it. I am positive that Japan to-day has no
desire to exclude foreigners, or to revert into her old position of
isolation. I believe, on the contrary, that she desires to welcome
foreigners and to give them every facility within proper limits for
pursuing their enterprises. At the same time she has no desire for the
foreign adventurer, prospector, or embryo company promoter. She
does not wish, in fact, that Japan shall be exploited either in
respect of minerals or any other purpose with the object of directly
or indirectly pouring wealth into London or any other city. The
enterprising gentlemen from England and other countries who have
sought to obtain concessions of various kinds in Japan have failed in
their object. Their efforts would probably only have brought discredit
on the country, and could hardly by any possibility have aided in its
material advancement. There is only one word of advice that I should
feel inclined to proffer the European in Japan, and that is to refrain
less from exercising his caustic wit at the expense of the Japanese
people. A nation which has passed through such drastic changes as have
characterised Japan in the last two or three decades can no doubt
furnish abundant opportunities for the jibes of the flippant, and the
humour of those who consider they are endowed with a pretty wit. But
the exercise of sardonic humour and an excessive sarcasm tends to
promote ill-feeling and serves no useful purpose. The right spirit, in
my opinion, for any man to regard Japan is as a nation struggling to
obtain and assimilate all that is best in the world and aspiring to be
in fact an eclectic power. It can at least be said of Japan that it is
the only nation in the world's history which has entertained such
aspirations and has sought to give effect to them.



CHAPTER XXI

A VISIT TO SOME BUDDHIST TEMPLES


I was lying awake in my room in the Myako Hotel, the window looking
out across the town below towards the eastern hills and framed with
clusters of red maple. It was the clear stillness of a frosty morning
before dawn, not motion enough in the autumn air to stir a ripe red
maple leaf, and as I lay in bed suddenly the air itself seemed to
heave a sigh of music mellow, soft, and yet full, gradual in its
coming as in its going, all-pervading, strange and wonderful.
Stillness again, and then it came again, or rather not so much came as
was there, and then was not there; for it seemed to come from no
whither, and to leave not even the footprint of an echo in the air
behind. There was sanctity in the very sound itself. Its music was
like vocal incense arising before the "awful rose of dawn," beyond
those purple eastern hills. How unlike, I thought, the jar and
clangour of our church bells in London on a Sunday morning rattling
like a fire alarm, whose only possible religious suggestion is to
tumble out of bed to escape the flames of hell. The musical summons of
this bell was sufficient, however, to induce me to go out for a stroll
through the temples in the morning twilight.

All on the crest of the hill behind the hotel is a row of temples
crowning the height. One mounts a flight of steps and then comes on
avenues with rows of ancient trees on either side that make the
avenues look like great aisles of which the immense trees are the
columns supporting the deep, blue roof. Nothing is more striking about
these temples than the delightful harmony between their natural
surroundings and the buildings themselves. They blend so perfectly
that one loses sight of the meeting between nature and art. From the
steps onward all seems a harmonious part of the sanctified whole.
Trees, creepers, and natural flowers peep in and almost entwine
themselves with the marvellously painted or carved foliage of the
temple itself. The rich lichens and mosses of the tree-trunks vie in
depth and beauty of colour with the inlaid traceries of the columns.

Early as the hour was I was not alone in the first temple I came to.
With tinkling steps of wooden shoes a little woman pattered up the
stone stairs to one of the shrines, pulled the heavy cord of the small
bell above her head to awaken the attention of the Deity, and then
with joined hands encircled with beads and with bowed head whispered
her morning prayer. I just caught in soft, supplicatory accents the
opening words, "Namu Amida Butsu"--"Hear me, compassionate Lord
Buddha"--words that soon become familiar as one visits these temples;
the great refrain of these people's prayers when they pray before the
image of "Him, honoured, wisest, best, most pitiful, whose lips
comfort the world." And then, having finished her prayers, the little
woman pattered back to her home in the town below, while others come
and make their devotions likewise, all leaving the temple as if that
placid, inscrutable image had whispered in the ear of each some word
of comfort.

In the courtyard beyond the great Temple of Kiomidyu I came upon a
wonderful bell. There was room for over a dozen men to stand inside
the great bronze shell. It was hung just above the ground between
plain timber uprights, and the mellow softness of tone was accounted
for by the way in which it was struck. Instead of metal striking
against metal a great tree-trunk is suspended horizontally outside;
this is swung backwards and forwards and then allowed to strike
against the metal. Even when standing close to it there is nothing one
would call noise, but a great, full, rich sound fills the air in a
manner impossible to describe. I passed on to the latticed shrine
dedicated to Kamnoshut No Kami, the goddess of lovers. As I waited
there three little Japanese girls came up the steps. Each had a small
piece of paper in her hand, and winding them up they deftly placed the
papers in the lattice with the thumb and little finger of their hands.
On these were written their petitions. One of them held a bunch of
brilliant maple leaves in her hand, and judging from their
faces--plain little faces all of them--it was easy to understand they
wanted divine assistance in their love affairs. It was difficult to
understand the goddess retaining any reputation for compassion if
their prayers were not answered. After they had gone next came a
dainty little geisha, a pretty girl, whose lover must have been a sad
worry to her, judging by the look on her anxious little face, as she
placed her petition between the bars.

All through these temples it was obvious that the agnosticism, or
indifference, or attitude of "politeness towards possibilities," which
has apparently taken possession of the upper classes in Japan,
possibly as the result of contact with the West, is in no way
prevalent among the masses. In all the country parts that I visited
and in the large temples in the great cities there was everywhere
evidence of faith as sincere and devout as can be found in the
churches of the most Christian country in Europe. Unlike China, there
was nowhere any sign of the temples falling into decay. Every temple
in China looks like a neglected mausoleum decaying over the corpse of
a dead religion, and the priests look like sextons of a neglected
graveyard. But here in Kyoto two of the largest temples were
undergoing elaborate repairs, and in Tokio an immense new temple is
being erected in the heart of the city. In Kyoto at the Temple of
Nishi Hong Wangi I was present at a great seven days' religious
festival. From nine o'clock in the morning until six o'clock in the
evening the temple was perpetually thronged with people. I visited it
in the afternoon. In one large room a priest was preaching. His
congregation was largely composed of country people from all the
districts round, who had journeyed in with their wives and families.
There had been an abundant harvest, it was over and stored, and the
people had come to give thanks. A great part of the congregation were
blue-clad peasants with white handkerchiefs around their heads. Many
of them had brought their children with them.

The priest preached sitting down, in a quiet conversational tone. From
what a Japanese friend was kind enough to translate for me, there was
nothing esoteric in the Buddhism he was teaching. It was simply plain
lessons to the people, how to make good their simple lives
interspersed with stories and anecdotes that occasionally amused his
congregation. Following the crowd that kept streaming out from his
hall towards the larger temple, I passed under a plain portico of huge
wooden columns, severe and simple on the outside, but gorgeous with
rich carvings of gold lacquer panels and hangings of richly wrought
embroideries within. The entire floor of the great building was
crowded, and the overflow of the congregation knelt upon the flags
outside the door. With difficulty I picked my way inside. Two rows of
priests in brilliantly coloured vestments were arranged on either side
of the central figure of Buddha. Between them was the chief priest.
Behind the altar screen was an invisible choir. In alternating numbers
the solemn, supplicating chant was led by either row of priests. In a
way it reminded one of the Gregorian chant one often hears in Catholic
churches, but in this Buddhist chanting there was that curious
Oriental strain of semi-tones that gave a strange and peculiar plaint
to the chorus.

Faint blue columns of incense were streaming slowly from bronze
censors towards the carved roof, and diffusing a delightful aromatic
odour throughout the building. The congregation was composed of all
sorts and conditions of the population, although the majority were
peasants; there were a number of Japanese ladies who came accompanied
by their maids, and here and there the brighter costume of a Geisha
was to be seen among the crowd.

The series of services lasted for seven days. This was the fifth.
Beginning at six o'clock in the morning, it went on till six o'clock
in the evening. It was just at its conclusion while I was there.
Mingling with the chorus from the priests and the choir ran a low
murmur from the crowd. The old country men and women said their
prayers aloud, and the refrain of "Namu Amida Butsu" seemed
perpetually in one's ears. As the conclusion of the service
approached, the voices of the choir, the priests, and the congregation
increased in strength and volume, and ceased suddenly in a final
chord of supplication. For a few moments there was stillness over the
bowed heads of the congregation, and then the priests rose and the
crowd began to stream down the great flight of steps. In the streets
outside were rows of booths, where printed prayers and brightly
embroidered triangular cloths, beads and images were being sold as
mementoes of these services. The whole congregation, even old men and
women, as they toddled down the steps at the base of which they put on
their shoes, reminded one forcibly of a lot of children coming out
from school. Laughing, chattering, and joking, there was a look of
satisfaction and contentment on all their faces, returning homewards,
as if they felt that in reply to their prayer, "Namu Amida Butsu," the
compassionate Lord Buddha, had listened to their prayer, and whispered
in answer to the heart of each, "Comfort ye, my people."



CHAPTER XXII

THE AINOS


A book on Japan would be incomplete without some reference to the
Ainos, that mysterious race found, and found only, in the northern
island of Yesso. The Ainos have long been the puzzle of the
ethnologist. Where the Ainos came from or to what other race they are
akin are problems that have given occasion for much learned
dissertation, but are still as far off solution as ever. Mr. Basil
Chamberlain, all of whose writings upon Japan are replete with
erudition and information, has observed that the Aino race deserves to
be studied because "its domain once extended over the entire Japanese
Archipelago," and also "because it is, so to speak, almost at its last
gasp." Unfortunately the evidence for the latter fact is more
conclusive than for the former. The Ainos are, it seems, to be no
exception to that mysterious law of the survival of the fittest, which
decrees that an inferior race shall go down before the superior, and
in due course become merely a name. I have called this a mysterious
law because such disappearance is not necessarily the result of
conquest or of ruthless destruction. When the inferior race is brought
into contact with the superior it seems, by some mysterious process,
to be infected with the elements of decay, to be impregnated with the
germs of annihilation. And, accordingly, it comes about, in accordance
with the dictates of the law I have referred to, that although a
society has been founded in Japan very much on the lines of our
Aborigines Protection Society, an Aino Preservation Society, the Ainos
seem doomed to extinction at no far-distant date.

Whether or not the Ainos once inhabited the whole of the Japanese
islands and trekked north to get away from their conquerors, there can
be no doubt of the fact that they are in almost every respect the very
antithesis of the Japanese. The latter are a smooth-skinned race, the
Ainos an extremely hairy one. The Japanese are essentially a clean, a
scrupulously clean people, the Ainos just as essentially dirty. The
long beards and general facial appearance of the latter are altogether
in startling contrast to the physiognomy of the average Japanese.

When ethnology fails to place a race, philology often steps in with
more or less of success. The Aino language has been profoundly studied
by many eminent philologists, but I do not think the results have
tended to throw much, if any, light on the mystery as to the origin
and racial affinities of the Ainos. In general structure the language
is not unlike that of the Japanese, but this might be expected as the
result of centuries of intercourse between the two people.

The Ainos live almost solely by fishing and hunting. The Japanese
laws, which have year by year been made more stringent, have somewhat
interfered with the sporting proclivities of the people. Nets and fish
traps are now forbidden, and fishing for the most part is effected by
means of a spear or harpoon, either from the shore or from the
somewhat primitive canoes used by the people. Poisoned arrows were
once largely used for the purpose of capturing game, but they are now
forbidden by law. Originally the _modus operandi_ in hunting was to
set a trap with one of these arrows placed in it, and drive the game
on to the same. The head of the arrow was only loosely fastened, and
broke, leaving the poison inside even if the animal managed to pull
out the shaft. The bear is found in Yesso, and that animal has entered
very largely into every phase of Aino life, somewhat circumscribed
though this is. That animal was, or used to be, the objective point of
Aino festivals, and seems, to some extent at any rate, to have had a
part in their crude religious ideas. Bears, are, however, becoming
rare in Yesso, and the Japanese Government, which is paternal even in
regard to the fauna of the islands, has from time to time interfered
with many venerable Aino customs.

The religion of this interesting race is almost as mysterious as
everything else appertaining to it. The Ainos have no idols and no
temples, and their religious rites are of a decidedly simple nature.
They, however, seem to believe in an infinity of spirits inhabiting
various and varied things, and their pantheon is seemingly a crowded
one. I have said seemingly, because the beliefs of a people such as
this are difficult to get at, and even when one has got at them almost
impossible to comprehend. One writer has termed the religion of the
Ainos, "a very primitive nature-worship," and their gods "invisible,
formless conceptions." Such definitions do not convey much
information. Nature-worship is a vague description and "invisible,
formless conceptions" of the deity or deities are not confined to the
Ainos. Possibly, like all peoples but little advanced or developed
mentally, their religious conceptions are of the vaguest and have
assumed no definite shape. A fear of the unknown, a blind groping in
the dark are, mayhap, all that the Aino possesses in reference to the
spiritual world.

Although the religion of the Aino when living is somewhat
incomprehensible his religious ceremonies in reference to the dead are
of a somewhat elaborate nature. After life has become extinct the
first proceeding is to light an enormous fire in the house. The corpse
is then dressed in its best clothes and laid beside the fire, where
are also placed dishes, a drinking-cup, and the implements of the
chase. In the case of a woman, instead of these, her beads and other
ornaments are laid alongside of her; for both sexes a pipe and a
tobacco-box, so greatly used during life, are considered essentials
when dead. Cakes made of rice or millet and a cup of saké, are also
put upon the floor. A kind of wake or funeral feast follows, at which
the mourners throw some saké on the corpse as a libation to its
departed spirit, break off pieces of the cake and bury it in the
ashes. The body is covered with a mat slung upon a pole and carried to
the grave, followed by the mourners, each of whom places something in
the grave, which, it is believed, will be carried to the next world
with the spirit of the deceased person. At the conclusion of the
ceremony the mourners wash their hands in water which has been brought
for the purpose. This is then thrown on the grave and the vessel which
conveyed it is broken in pieces and also thrown on the grave. The
widow of the deceased shaves her head, while the man cuts his beard
and hair, as outward symbols of grief. Many of these ceremonies, it
will be seen, are such as are more or less common to all primitive
races. There is, indeed, a marked resemblance between the habit of the
Ainos in burying articles with the deceased for his use in the next
world and that of the North American Indians. But I am not inclined to
deduce any theory in reference to the origin of the Ainos from the
existence of these customs. Mankind, in every part of the world, seems
to have evolved his religious beliefs in very much the same way. His
conception of the hereafter appears to have proceeded on precisely
similar lines. The higher his scale in civilisation the more spiritual
and the less material his conception of the future. The lower his
scale precisely the reverse is the fact. The savage, which of course
the Aino really is, cannot imagine a future state where there is no
eating and drinking and hunting, and he, accordingly, thinks it
incumbent on him, in order to show his respect for the dead, to
provide the corpse with those articles which he deems essential in
that unknown world where, according to his conception, eating and
drinking and hunting will be as prevalent as in this.

The Ainos have a great respect for the graves of their dead, and
Japanese legislation has taken the necessary steps to prevent any
tampering therewith. Some years ago a few scientists from Europe went
on an expedition from Hakodate with a view of obtaining information
respecting the manners and customs of the Ainos. In the course of this
expedition some graves were broken into and skulls and limbs extracted
therefrom for the purpose of being taken to Europe for scientific
research. This proceeding occasioned an angry outburst on the part of
this usually placid people, and the Japanese authorities gave the
necessary instructions to prevent the possibility of such an
occurrence in future. I suppose the scientists, in the ardour of their
enthusiasm, are hardly to be blamed. Science too frequently overlooks
sentiment, which is, after all, one of the most potent forces in the
world.

The dwellings of the Japanese are supposed to have been evolved from
those of the Ainos. Both build their houses roof first, making the
framework and placing the supports with shorter pieces for rafters,
all being tied together with a rope made of some kind of fibre. Poles,
5 or 6 feet high at regular intervals are then placed in the ground,
each pole having a fork at the top and short horizontal pieces from
one to the other, the roof frame is then erected on and secured to the
poles and subsequently thatched with straw. The floor is of earth,
with the fireplace in the centre. As in Japanese houses, mats are used
for sitting and sleeping purposes. The utensils of the Ainos are much
more primitive than those in use by the Japanese people, and generally
it may be remarked of the Ainos that their wants are few and that the
people are content to live their own life in their own way and only
desire to be severely left alone.

The dress is very similar to that of the Japanese peasant. The men,
however, wear at certain seasons thick rain-coats made of salmon skin,
as also leggings made of a fibre peculiar to themselves, and high
boots constructed of straw. I am sorry to have to relate that the
Ainos have a fondness for saké, and there is a good deal of
intoxication among them. The climate of the island of Yesso, as I have
already remarked, is extremely severe in the winter-time, and there
can be little doubt that many of the Ainos suffer extreme privations.
There have been a few cases of intermarriage between the two races,
but unions of this nature are not looked on with any favour by either.

Attempts have been made by some of the missionaries in Japan to
convert the Ainos to Christianity, but I fear the attempts made in
this direction have been attended with a very scant measure of
success. A people such as this possesses minds of childlike
simplicity, and to endeavour to get it to comprehend the abstruse
doctrines and dogmas of Christianity is an almost hopeless task. The
climate of Yesso is such as to render it possible for missionary
efforts to take place only at certain seasons of the year, and I do
not think there has been, so far as my information goes, any
systematic propaganda of Christianity among this interesting race.

It is certainly a somewhat extraordinary fact that while the other
islands of Japan have been rapidly assimilating and are being steadily
influenced by the civilisation of Europe and America, the northern
island appears to be, except possibly at Hakodate, in a state of
complete isolation from all these influences and effects. Whether the
Ainos have any conception of the influences at work in and the
progress being made by the Empire of which they are subjects, I do not
know, but to me it is both interesting and curious to regard this
ancient and decaying race, either indifferent to or ignorant of all
the bustle and hurry and worry of modern civilisation so close to them
and yet so far removed from their childlike minds and ideas.

The question may be asked, How comes it that a highly civilised people
such as the Japanese have been for many hundreds of years, have
exercised practically no influence upon this subject race inhabiting a
portion of their territory? A nation such as Japan, with a literature
and an art of its own, with two highly developed religious systems,
and with many of those other characteristics which are included in the
term civilisation? How is it that neither art nor literature nor
religion, nor any other characteristic of civilisation has, in the
slightest degree, influenced this aboriginal race? Indeed, if the
theories of ethnologists in regard to the Ainos be correct, and we are
to judge by the ancient remains that have been found throughout Japan,
the Ainos, when they were in undisputed possession of the Japanese
Archipelago, were in a much more advanced condition of civilisation
than they are to-day. The questions that I have put afford food for
reflection, but they are difficult, if not impossible, to answer. I am
certain, however, that the Japanese Government desires to, if
possible, preserve the Aino race from extinction, and that it aspires
to give this ancient people all the advantages of education and
civilisation generally. Unfortunately the Ainos themselves are the
obstacle to the carrying into effect of this project. They desire to
live their own life in their own way. They have not only no wish to
be, but they resent any effort to make them, either educated or
civilised. They are what some people would term children of nature,
out of place decidedly in a modern go-ahead eclectic Power like Japan,
but an interesting survival of the past, and likewise an interesting
reminder that the highly civilised races of to-day have, in their
time, been evolved from very similar children of nature.



CHAPTER XXIII

JAPAN AS IT IS TO-DAY


"In the Japan of to-day the world has before it a unique example of an
Eastern people displaying the power to assimilate and to adopt the
civilisation of the West, while preserving its own national dignity
unimpaired," aptly remarks a modern writer. It is, indeed, in its
powers of assimilation and adaptation that Japan, I think, stands
unique among not only the nations of the world at the present time,
but amongst the nations of whom we have any historical record. In one
of his books on Japan--books which I may, in passing, remark give a
more vivid insight into the life of the Japanese people than the works
of any other writer--Mr. Lafcadio Hearn remarks that the so-called
adoption of Western civilisation within a term of comparatively few
years cannot mean the addition to the Japanese brain of any organs or
powers previously absent from her, nor any sudden change in the mental
or moral character of the race. Changes of that kind cannot be made in
a generation. The Europeanising of Japan, Mr. Hearn in fact suggests,
means nothing more than the rearrangement of a part of the
pre-existing machinery of thought, while the mental readjustments
effected by taking on Western civilisation, or what passes for it,
have given good results only along directions in which the Japanese
people have always shown special capacity. There has, in a word, he
asserts, been no transformation--nothing more than the turning of old
abilities into new and larger channels. Indeed the tendency of the
people of Japan, when dispassionately investigated, will be seen to
have been always moving in the same direction. A slight retrospect
will, I think, clearly prove the truth of this assertion.

It is now about fifty years since Japan was first awakened, perhaps
rudely awakened, from her slumber of two and a half centuries. When
the European Powers and the United States of America knocked, perhaps
somewhat rudely, at her door, it turned slowly on its hinges and
creaked owing to the rust of many long years. How came it that a
country which had imported its art, literature, religion, and
civilisation, a country which until 1868 had a mediæval feudalism for
its social basis, a country which until then was notorious for the
practice of hara-kiri and the fierceness of its two-sworded Samurai
should so suddenly take on Western attributes and become a seat of
liberty and the exponent of Western civilisation in the Far East? All
this is to some persons a rather perplexing problem. But the reasons
are not, I think, far to seek. If we go back many centuries we shall
find that Japan, though always tenacious of her national
characteristics, never evinced any indisposition to mingle with or
adopt what was good in other races. The national character for many
hundreds of years has always displayed what I may term the germs of
liberalism, and has not been influenced by narrow and petty national
ideals concerning the customs, religion, art, or literature of other
countries. As against this statement may be urged the action of Japan
in expelling the Portuguese missionaries, destroying thoroughly
Christianity, both buildings and converts, and effectually and
effectively shutting the country against all intercourse with Europe
and America for over two centuries. The answer of the Japanese of
to-day to this question is simple enough. They point out that,
although the object of St. Francis Xavier and his missionaries was
essentially spiritual, viz., to convert Japan to Christianity, that of
many of the foreigners who accompanied or succeeded him was not in any
sense spiritual, but on the contrary was grossly and wickedly
material. Accordingly Japan, having rightly or wrongly concluded that
not only her civilisation but her national life, her independent
existence, were menaced by the presence and the increasing number of
these foreigners, she decided, on the principle that desperate
diseases require desperate remedies, to expel them and to effectually
seal her country against any possibility of future foreign invasions.
I am not, I may remark, defending her action in the matter; I am only
putting forward the views of Japanese men of light and leading of
to-day in regard thereto.

When, many centuries ago, the Koreans brought to Japan the religion,
laws, literature, and art of China, these were adopted and
assimilated. Both Buddhism and Confucianism existed side by side in
the country with the old Shinto religion. And, accordingly, during the
many centuries which have elapsed since the religion of China and the
ethical doctrines of her great teacher were introduced into Japan,
there has never been a violent conflict between them and the ancient
religion of the country. Had the Portuguese invaders confined
themselves to a religious propaganda only, the Christian converts they
made would not have been interfered with and the Christian religion,
strong and vigorous, would have existed uninterruptedly in Japan until
to-day side by side with Buddhism and Shintoism. When St. Francis
Xavier came to Japan Buddhism was the prevailing religion, and it
undoubtedly had, as it still has, a great hold upon the people. But
the preaching of the intrepid Jesuit and the missionaries he brought
with him had an enormous success. The Christian religion was embraced
by representatives of every class. In the year 1550 St. Francis,
writing to Goa, placed on record for all time his opinion of the
Japanese. "The nation," writes he, "with which we have to deal here
surpasses in goodness any of the nations ever discovered. They are of
a kindly disposition, wonderfully desirous of honour, which is placed
above everything else. They listen with great avidity to discourse
about God and divine things. In the native place of Paul they received
us very kindly, the Governor, the chief citizens, and indeed the whole
populace. Give thanks to God therefore that a very wide and promising
field is open to you for your well-roused piety to spend its energies
in." It certainly was a remarkable fact that a nation which had for so
many centuries been under the influences of Buddhism should have
welcomed these Portuguese missionaries. But it must be remembered that
Japan had not that prejudice against foreigners which is very often
the outcome of foreign conquest and foreign oppression. No foreign
Power had ever conquered or indeed set its foot in the land. Both
China and Korea had made various attempts on the independence of
Japan, but unsuccessfully. Japan had never had to endure any
humiliation at the hands of foreign invaders, consequently her
nationalism had no narrow, selfish meaning, and accordingly she saw no
reason for putting any obstacle in the way of St. Francis Xavier and
his followers until she concluded, however much or little reason there
may have been for her conclusions, that the incoming of these
foreigners in some measure menaced her national existence. Before she
arrived at that conclusion she was apparently prepared to welcome all
that was good in the ethical teaching of the Portuguese missionaries,
and, if a section of her population desired to embrace a religion to
whose ethical teaching she had no objection; there was no reason, in
her opinion, why that religion should not exist side by side with
those more ancient religions which had lived amicably together during
many centuries.

For nearly two hundred and fifty years Japan resolved to remain in a
state of isolation. Then, as I have said, European Powers and the
great Republic of the West came knocking and knocking loudly at her
doors, and as a result thereof her thinking men came to realise that
in a state of isolation a continued civilised existence is impossible.
Accordingly Japan, tentatively at first, opened certain portions of
her country to European intercourse, and as an inevitable consequence
thereof found it necessary to adopt European ideas--and European
armaments. The country had kept out the aggressor for some two
thousand years or thereabouts, and Japan clearly saw that if the
aggressor was to be kept out in the future, the near future, she would
probably have to fight to maintain her national existence. The war
with China was the outcome of the feeling that Korea under the
suzerainty of China was a constant menace to not only the prosperity
but the existence of the Empire. The same feeling undoubtedly led to
the war with Russia, as Japan considered, and rightly in my opinion,
that the possession of Korea by Russia meant the loss of national
independence. That war was not as so many wars have been, the result
of a racial hatred, the outcome of a spirit of revenge, or waged for
aggressive designs. It was forced upon Japan, and was in every sense
purely defensive. Japan waged it confident in her own strength from
the fact that in the two thousand years of her history she had, in all
the conflicts in which she had engaged, kept in view the one
ideal--the conservation of the national existence, an ideal which she
has consistently realised.

The position of Japan at the present moment is not only extremely
interesting but extraordinary in a degree. She is the cynosure for the
eyes of the civilised world, and for some years she has been subjected
at the hands of experts and amateurs of all descriptions to the most
minute investigation. Every phase of her national life has been
rigidly scrutinised and exhaustively written about. The national
character and characteristics have undergone the most intricate
psychological examination, and if the world does not now know the real
Japan it is certainly not from lack of material, literary material,
whereon to form a judgment. Indeed the attention Japan has received
has been sufficient to turn the head of any people. I am not sure that
this large output of literature on matters Japanese has effected very
much in the direction of enabling a sound judgment to be formed
regarding the country and the people. Many writers who have
dissertated upon Japan during the past couple of decades seem to have
imagined that they had discovered it, and their impressions have been
penned from that standpoint.

There used some years ago to be an advertisement of a "Popular
Educator" in which a youth with a curly head of hair and a face of
delightful innocence was depicted. Underneath the portrait the inquiry
was printed, "What will he become?" And there was then given an
illustrated alternative as to the appearance of this innocent youth at
different ages in his career according to the path he trod in life.
One alternative eventuated in the final evolution of an ancient and,
from his appearance, very palpable villain, the other of a
benevolent-looking old gentleman who quite evidently only lived to do
good. It seems to me that a large number of persons in various parts
of the world are to-day, as they have been for some time past, asking
the question in reference to Japan, "What will she become?" It is
without doubt a highly interesting inquiry, but the answer to it, so
far as my knowledge goes, is not like the advertisement I have
referred to, one of two courses--the one leading to perdition, the
other to prosperity. On the contrary, the answers seem to be as
numerous and varied as the answerers, and most of the answers would
appear to have been arrived at simply and merely by the false premises
and very often the entirely erroneous "facts" of the inquirers.

A favourite and fallacious method of dealing with Japan is that of
regarding it as an Oriental nation, essentially Oriental with a thin
veneer of Occidentalism. People who so reason, or occasionally do not
reason at all but confine themselves to mere assertions, suggest that
the difference between the Oriental and the Occidental is such that
not a few years of perfunctory contact but centuries of time are
necessary to bring about a real transmogrification. Persons who so
think point not only to the difference in everything material in
respect of East and West, but to a radical difference in psychology,
an entire distinction in the mental outlook of each. They accordingly
conclude that the differences so evident on all sides are not mere
accidentals but fundamental, ineradicable. Scratch the Japanese,
they in effect say, and beneath his veneer of civilisation you will
find the barbarian, barbarism and Orientalism being with these persons
synonymous terms. And if any incredulity in the matter be expressed
they will triumphantly point to the recurrence of hara-kiri among the
soldiers and sailors in the late war. A well-known writer on racial
psychology has expressed himself dogmatically on this very point. I
will quote two or three of his pronouncements in the matter.

  [Illustration: FIREWORKS IN TOKIO (SUMMER)
      FROM A PRINT BY HIROSHIGE]

"Each race possesses a constitution as unvarying as its anatomical
constitution. There seems to be no doubt that the former corresponds
to a certain special structure of the brain.

"A negro or a Japanese may easily take a university degree or become a
lawyer; the sort of varnish he thus acquires is, however, quite
superficial, and has no influence on his mental constitution.... What
no education can give him because they are created by heredity alone,
are the forms of thought, the logic, and, above all, the character of
the Western man.

"Cross-breeding constitutes the only infallible means at our disposal
of transforming in a fundamental manner the character of a people,
heredity being the only force powerful enough to contend with
heredity. Cross-breeding allows of the creation of a new race,
possessing new physical and psychological characteristics."

Now, whether these views be correct in the main or partially correct
as regards other races, I have no hesitation in describing them as
inaccurate to a degree in reference to the Japanese. Not peculiar
brain formation, but social evolution, environment, education are
responsible for the traits which distinguish the Japanese from other
Eastern nations. To assert, as do some psychological experts, that
the mental constitution of races is as distinct and unchangeable as
their physiological or anatomical characteristics is, to my mind, a
fact not borne out by the history of the world. Physiological or
anatomical distinctions are apparent, and can be classified; mental
idiosyncrasies do not lend themselves to cataloguing. It is, I know,
possible to draw up at any particular period a list of what I may term
the idiosyncrasies of any race at that period. A writer in a London
newspaper some little time back attempted to do so in reference to
Oriental races generally. He enumerated the degraded position of
women, the licentiousness of the men, the recognition and prevalence
of prostitution, the non-desire of the youth for play, contempt for
Western civilisation, and general hatred of foreigners. Admitting
these charges to be correct, the characteristics detailed are, I may
point out, merely ephemeral incidents. A contempt for Western
civilisation and hatred of the foreigner, for example, which was
certainly at one time pronounced in Japan, are rapidly passing away.
The position of women in that country has also greatly improved, just
as it has improved in Europe, while as regards prostitution and
licentiousness Europe has, in my opinion, no need to throw stones.

There are undoubtedly a large number of persons who are convinced, or
have been convinced, by the arguments of others, that the progress of
Japan is a mere mushroom growth which cannot last. A few years ago one
of the leading English papers in Japan attempted, to some extent, to
voice this opinion in an article striking the note of warning for the
benefit of the West against putting too much faith in those writers
who had intimately studied Japan from within, and whose works were in
general appreciation not only for their literary style, but for the
vivid insight they gave into everything respecting the country. Quoth
the journal in question:--

"In the case of such writers as Sir Edwin Arnold and Mr. Lafcadio
Hearn, it is quite apparent that the logical faculty is in abeyance.
Imagination reigns supreme. As poetic flights or outbursts the works
of these authors on Japan are delightful reading. But no one who has
studied the Japanese in a deeper manner, by more intimate daily
intercourse with all classes of the people than either of these
writers pretends to have had, can possibly regard a large part of
their description as anything more than pleasing fancy. Both have
given rein to the poetic fancy, and thus have, from a purely literary
point of view, scored a success granted to few.... But as exponents of
Japanese life and thought they are unreliable.... They have given form
and beauty to much that never existed, except in vague outline or in
undeveloped germs in the Japanese mind. In doing this they have
unavoidably been guilty of misrepresentation.... The Japanese nation
of Arnold and Hearn is not the nation we have known for a quarter of a
century, but a purely ideal one manufactured out of the author's
brains. It is high time that this was pointed out. For while such
works please a certain section of the English public, they do a great
deal of harm among a section of the Japanese public, as could be
easily shown in detail did space allow."

I quite admit the fact that many Japanese themselves are quite
convinced that there is a great gulf fixed between the ideas and the
philosophy of Europe and those of the East, their own country
included. In a book dealing particularly with the art of Japan,
written in English by a Japanese, he attempts to emphasise this
matter. He remarks: "Asia is one. The Himalayas divide only to
accentuate two mighty civilisations--the Chinese, with its communism
of Confucius, and the Indian, with its individualism of the Vedas. But
not even the snowy barriers can interrupt for one moment that broad
expanse of love for the Ultimate and Universal which is the
common-thought inheritance of every Asiatic race, enabling them to
produce all the great religions of the world, and distinguishing them
from those maritime people of the Mediterranean and the Baltic who
loved to dwell on the particular, and to search out the means not the
end of life." Indeed, the writer of this book appears to be in a
condition of transcendentalism in reference to the East. In another
portion of it he waxes eloquent in regard to what he terms the glory
of Asia, in language which I will briefly quote. He remarks:--

"But the glory of Asia is something more positive than these. It lies
in that vibration of peace that beats in every heart; that harmony
which brings together emperor and peasant; that sublime intuition of
oneness which commands all sympathy, all courtesy, to be its fruits,
making Takakura, Emperor of Japan, remove his sleeping robes on a
winter night because the frost lay cold on the hearths of his poor; or
Taiso of Tang forego food because his people were feeling the pinch of
famine; ... it lies in that worship of feeling which casts around
poverty the halo of greatness, impresses his stern simplicity of
apparel on the Indian prince, and sets up in China a throne whose
imperial occupant--alone amongst the great secular rulers of the
world--never wears a sword."

It were unkind to criticise eloquence of this description too
seriously. The fact, if it be a fact, that the Emperor of China never
wears a sword is in one sense interesting but it proves nothing. It is
well to get down from eloquence of this kind to concrete facts, to
come back to the point whence we started, viz., What will Japan
become? What is her present condition? Any one who compares the Japan
of to-day with the Japan of, say, thirty or forty years ago will, I
think, impatiently sweep aside some of the absurd theories to which I
have referred, psychological and otherwise. The unprejudiced man,
letting his mind indulge in retrospect, and comparing that
retrospective view with the present actuality, will, I believe, have
no difficulty in determining that though Japan is and must remain an
Oriental nation, what she has acquired of recent years is neither
veneer or varnish, but has been assimilated into the very system of
the people. Very probably Japan will never become thoroughly
Occidentalised. There are many of us who hope she never may. I
believe, however, that in adopting many Occidental customs and habits
she will adapt and modify them to her own needs, and in due course
evolve a race neither distinctly Occidental nor Oriental while
retaining many of her past customs and her ancient characteristics.
She will, in a word, be as far as possible an eclectic nation, and it
is, so far as I know, the first time in the history of the world that
an attempt has been made to develop such.

There are, I know, many people in Europe as well as in Japan who feel
and express some apprehension in regard to what they term young Japan.
This term, like many other terms, has never been accurately defined,
but I take it to mean that portion of the country consisting of the
young or younger men who have been educated according to Western
ideas, have acquired Western modes of thought, and have developed--I
do not use the word in an opprobrious sense--a bumptiousness. It is
assumed, on what grounds I know not, that this section--it must after
all be a small section--of the population of the country has
aspirations to make things "hum," if I may use an expressive bit of
American slang. Young Japan, we are led to believe, is intensely
ambitious and extremely cocksure. It cannot and will not go slow; on
the contrary, it is in a fearful hurry, and is in reference to every
matter political, commercial, religious, a hustler. It has no doubts
upon any subject, and no difficulty in regard to making up its mind on
any matter. This is what we hear and read. How much of it all is true
I know not. I am very largely of opinion that this representation of
young Japan is altogether a caricature. Youth we know in every clime
is impulsive and impetuous. There is no need to go to Japan to
convince ourselves of that fact. But youth, if it have these defects,
also possesses enthusiasm, and I should be inclined to describe that
as one of the most pleasing characteristics of the youth of Japan.
After all, time will cure Young Japan of some of its defects. Young
Japan will grow old, and if it loses its enthusiasm it will gain
experience. I not only have no fear of these vivacious young men who
love their country and are proud of it. I regard them not as a danger,
but as a pleasing feature in the progress of Japan, and a potent
factor in its future prosperity.

The writers and critics to whom I have referred in this chapter seem
to be oblivious of the fact that progress is the law of nature. It has
nothing to do with either climate or race. I admit that it may be
affected by environment or other causes of a temporary nature. The
Occidental visiting the East sees things that are strange to him--a
people, the colour of whose skin and the contour of whose features are
different to his own; costume, style of architecture, and many other
matters entirely dissimilar to what he has viewed in his own country.
He accordingly jumps to the absolutely erroneous conclusion that these
people are uncivilised, and that their lack of civilisation is due to
some mental warp or some defect in either the structure or the size of
their brain. Of course such a conception is entirely erroneous, and
yet it is marvellous to what an extent it prevails. These people are
for all practical purposes the same as himself, except that they have
been affected by various matters and circumstances that I have called
ephemeral. What a nation, like an individual, needs is the formation
of a distinct character. Now, the character of a nation depends, in my
opinion, on the high or low estimate it has formed as to the meaning
and purpose of life, and also the extent to which it adheres to the
unwritten moral law, which is, after all, something superior to,
because higher than, mere legal enactments. I confess that as I wander
about this marvellous country of Japan, as I mingle with its common
people and see them in various phases of their lives I say to myself,
as St. Francis Xavier said of them more than three hundred years ago,
"This nation is the delight of my soul." The critic, the hypercritic,
is everywhere. He suspects everybody and everything. He can find
occult motives and psychological reasons for everything. I confess I
am a trifle tired of the critic, especially the psychological critic,
in reference to Japan. I view the people there as they are to-day, and
I have satisfied myself that we can see at work in Japan the formation
of a nation with a character. I care not to investigate the mental
processes at work, or the difference between the brain of the
Japanese and the brain of the European. I do see this, however, that
the leaders of the people, the educated and cultured classes of the
land, are intent on cutting out of the national character anything
which is indefensible, or has been found unserviceable, and equally
intent on adopting and adapting from any and every nation such
qualities as it is considered would the better enable Japan to advance
on the paths of progress and freedom, illuminating her way as a nation
and as a people by a shining illustration of all that is best in the
world, having sloughed off voluntarily and readily every
characteristic, however ancient, which reason and justice and
experience had shown to be unworthy of a power aspiring to stand out
prominently before the world.

In Sir Rutherford Alcock's work on Japan, "The Capital of the Tycoon,"
published some forty-four years ago, a work which, as I have elsewhere
said, is of undoubted value though somewhat marred by the prejudices
of the author, he attempted a forecast of the future of the country,
but, like so many prophets, his vaticinations have proved highly
inaccurate. "Japan," he remarked, "is on the great highway of nations,
the coveted of Russia, the most absorbing, if not the most aggressive
of all the Powers; and a perpetual temptation alike to merchant and to
missionary, who, each in different directions, finding the feudalism
and spirit of isolation barriers to their path, will not cease to
batter them in breach, or undermine them to their downfall. Such seems
to be the probable fate of Japan, and its consummation is little more
than a question of time. When all is accomplished, whether the
civilising process will make them as a people wiser, better, or
happier, is a problem of more doubtful solution. One thing is quite
certain, that the obstructive principle which tends to the rejection
of all Western innovations and proselytism as abominations, is much
too active and vigorous in the Japanese mind to leave a hope that
there will not be violent and obstinate resistance; and this
inevitably leading to corresponding violence in the assault, there
must be a period of convulsion and disorder before the change can be
effected, and new foundations laid for another social edifice."
Whether the civilising process will make the Japanese people wiser,
better, or happier is the problem the answer to which can only be
given in the future. Obviously we are not in a position to completely
answer this question to-day. Indeed, before answering it at any time
it might be advisable to invite the definition of wisdom and
happiness. There were wisdom and happiness long prior to the time when
the merchant and the missionary to whom Sir Rutherford Alcock refers
battered and undermined Japan's feudalism and spirit of isolation.
But, _mirable dictu_, Japan, instead of developing that obstructive
principle which Sir Rutherford considered was so active and vigorous
in the Japanese mind has, on the contrary, developed a spirit of
adaptation and assimilation of Western innovations, and in so doing
has in all probability saved herself from the cupidity not only of
Russia, but of other Western Powers. Sir Rutherford Alcock was not a
psychologist, but quite evidently he too misread the Japanese mind and
its workings.

Truth to tell, Japan as it is to-day gives the lie to nearly all the
prophets, and demonstrates that the psychologist is merely a
charlatan. Her development, her evolution has proceeded along no
particular lines. The fearful and awful rocks in the way, mediævalism
and feudalism, were got rid of almost with a stroke of the pen, and
everybody in Japan, from the Emperor to the peasant, has adapted
himself to the changed order of things. It is the most wonderful
transformation scene in the history of the world, and it is still in
progress. What the end of it all will be I have, bearing the dangers
of prophecy well in mind, attempted to show in a final chapter. But I
may remark that nothing in regard to the forces at work in Japan of
recent years, and the outcome of the same so far gives me at any rate
more unmixed pleasure than the way in which the theorists have been
confounded, those men who cut and carve and label human beings,
whether individually or in the aggregate, as if they were mere blocks
of wood. The Oriental mind, we have been told, cannot do this;
Oriental prejudices and idiosyncrasies and modes of thought and
hereditary influences will not admit of that; the traditions of the
Far East, that mysterious thing, will prevent the other--we have been
told all this, I repeat, and told it _ad nauseam_. Japan as it is
to-day refutes these prophecies, these dogmatic pronouncements,
psychical and ethnological. The Japanese race, when regarded from what
I deem to be the only correct standpoint for forming a sound judgment
as to the position it holds among the races of the world, namely, in
respect of the size and convolution of the brain, occupies in my
opinion a high, a very high place. All other factors, often given such
undue prominence in forming an estimate as to the character of any
people I regard as mere accidentals. The story of Japan during the
last thirty or forty years affords ample proof of what I have said;
the position of the country to-day offers visible demonstration of it.
Japan has reached and will keep the position of a great Power, and the
Japanese that of a great people, just because of the preponderating
mental abilities of the population of the country, its capacity for
assimilation, its desire for knowledge, its pertinacity,
strenuousness, and aspirations to possess and acquire by the process
of selection the very best the world can give it.



CHAPTER XXIV

THE FUTURE OF JAPAN--PHYSICAL--MORAL--MENTAL


I know by experience, even if the history of the world had not
furnished many examples to prove it, that prophecy is risky. It is a
fascinating pastime inasmuch as it affords the imaginative faculties
full scope, but at the same time it is a mistake to let the
imagination run riot. I have no intention, in considering the future
of Japan, of depicting an Arcadia or a Utopia the outcome of one's
desire rather than of the knowledge that one possesses of the
possibilities of the country and the belief that in due course those
possibilities will become actualities. Of course I admit that I may be
mistaken in my estimate of the future, but I think an estimate of the
future can only be based on a knowledge of the present, and it is upon
that knowledge that I mean to attempt some forecast of what I believe
to be the destiny of Japan.

"The Future of Japan" is a theme that has exercised the pens of many
writers, who have given to the world many and most divergent views in
regard thereto--the result, I think, of regarding the subject from a
narrow or single point of view, instead of looking at it broadly,
boldly, and dispassionately. In respect of a population of between
forty and fifty millions in rapid process of transformation and
taking on perhaps rather hurriedly, and, it may be, some superfluous
or unnecessary attributes of Western civilisation, it is not only
possible but easy to light on many ludicrous incidents and draw
absolutely false conclusions from them. One visitor to Japan, for
example, who wrote a series of essays on that country, since produced
in book form, the laudable object of which was to present to the
British public the real Japan with a view of counteracting the effects
of those "superficial narratives to be found by the dozen in
circulating libraries of the personal views and experiences of almost
every literary wayfarer who has crossed the Pacific," has followed
this bad plan in his remarks on "The Future of Japan." Imitation for
imitation's sake is, or was, in his opinion, a growing evil in Japan.
A certain gentleman, he relates, a wealthy merchant of Osaka, desired
to celebrate the two hundredth anniversary of a copper mine coming
into the possession of his family. The plan he finally decided to
adopt was to present each of his three hundred employees with a
swallow-tail coat. Another Japanese gentleman, who had fallen in with
the habit of the New Year's Day call imitated from the Americans,
improved upon it by leaving on his doorstep a large box with a lid and
this notice above it: "To Visitors. I am out, but I wish you a Happy
New Year all the same. N.B.--Please drop your New Year's Presents into
the box." Over a well-known tobacconist's shop the writer of the book
in question observed the following notice: "When we first opened our
tobacco store at Tokio our establishment was patronised by Miss
Nakakoshi, a celebrated beauty of Inamato-ro, Shin-yoshiwara, and she
would only smoke tobacco purchased at our store. Through her patronage
our tobacco became widely known, so we call it by the name of Ima
Nakakoshi. And we beg to assure the public that it is as fragrant and
sweet as the young lady herself. Try it and you will find our words
prove true." Finally, over a pastry-cook's shop in Tokio he read and
made a note of the following: "Cakes and Infections."

Now what do these several trivial, indeed contemptible, anecdotes
prove? What arguments in regard to a nation of forty-seven millions of
people can be bolstered up by instancing the imperfect acquaintance of
a Japanese pastry-cook with the English language? The writer does not
in so many words delineate the future of Japan as it appears to him,
but he suggests it, and his Japan of the future is quite evidently to
be nothing more or less than a kind of international dustheap whereon
Europe and America have dumped all that is bad and rotten and
deplorable in their modern social and political life. Here is the
inferential forecast of the gentleman in question: "When Japan rings
with the rattle of machinery; when the railway has become a feature of
her scenery; when the boiler-chimney has defaced her choicest spots,
as the paper-makers have already obliterated the delights of Oji; when
the traditions of yashiki and shizoku alike are all finally engulfed
in the barrack-room; when her art reckons its output by the thousand
dozen; when the power in the land is shared between the politician and
the plutocrat; when the peasant has been exchanged for the 'factory
hand,' the kimono for the slop-suit, the tea-house for the music-hall,
the geisha for the lion comique, and the daimio for the
beer-peer--will Japan then have made a wise bargain, and will she,
looking backward, date a happier era from the day we forced our
acquaintance upon her at the cannon's mouth?"

  [Illustration: A SIGN OF THE TIMES]

Criticism of this kind, if it may be dignified by that term, no doubt
affords opportunity for what is considered smart writing, and enables
the persons indulging in it to air their witticisms and show their
sense of the humorous, but it not only serves no useful purpose, but,
on the contrary, is pernicious in its effects, inasmuch as it
occasions, not unnaturally, a feeling of soreness on the part of
those, whether individuals or a nation, who are made the subject of
it. Japan has too often been the butt of the humourist. I have no
desire to deprecate humour, which no doubt gives a savour to life, but
that humour which is only exercised at the expense of others, in my
opinion, needs reprobation. As I have said, Japan among nations has
been subjected to too much of it, and it is to be hoped that in future
writers about the country will endeavour to avoid making their little
jokes, or serving up afresh the antiquated chestnuts of the foreign
community.

The future of Japan may, I think, be considered under some half-dozen
headings: The physical improvement of the Japanese race; Its moral
advancement; Its intellectual advancement; Japan's national future;
Her political future; and finally, The influence of the Japanese
Empire on other Far Eastern races and on the world generally.

As regards the physical improvement of the race, I admit this is a
somewhat difficult subject in regard to which to make any forecast.
The stature of the Japanese is undoubtedly small, and the chest
measurement small likewise. At the same time, any one moving about
Japan must have noticed the fact that there are quite a large number
of very tall men and women in the country, and that a goodly
proportion of the inhabitants compare favourably in their physical
attributes with European people. As I have observed elsewhere in this
book, the dietary of the Japanese race has for many centuries back
been almost entirely a vegetarian one. I know very well that
vegetarianism has its advocates, and some of the arguments put forward
in support of it are plausible if not convincing. At the same time, I
think, it cannot be denied that those races which have been in the
habit of eating meat for many centuries have, as regards physique,
demonstrated that whether man was or was not intended to be a
carnivorous animal, his development into a carnivorous animal has at
any rate succeeded in enhancing and developing his physical powers. Of
late years there has been possibly as the result of intercourse with
Europeans, a large increase in the number of the inhabitants of Japan
who eat meat. This tendency on the part of the population is growing,
and I believe in the course of comparatively few years there will be a
radical change in the dietary of the people. This change, if it be
effected, must, I would suggest, have a material influence on their
physique. We all know that food is essential for the building up of
the human frame and its maintenance, and I think there are few people
who would question the fact that the condition of the human frame,
whether in individuals or the aggregates of individuals that we term
nations, must be largely affected by the food partaken of. I,
accordingly, look forward, not immediately of course, to a material
change in the general physique of the Japanese people. I am not, as I
know some persons are, of opinion that that change is likely to be
brought about by intermarriage or unions of a temporary nature between
Japanese and Europeans. There have been a few marriages, and there
have no doubt been a good many unions, but the effect on the national
breed has been small, and though it may be to some extent greater in
the future, I do not look in this direction for any alteration in the
physical characteristics of the Japanese people. That alteration will,
in my opinion, be brought about by a change in the food of the people.

As regards the moral advancement of the Japanese race I shall say
little, for the somewhat paradoxical reason that it is a matter on
which so much might be said. Indeed, this is a subject on which a
definition of the term moral might be advisable before entering into
any prolonged consideration of it. I shall not attempt that
definition, simply because I feel convinced that to do so would be to
provoke controversy. As I have said in this book, moral, morality, and
immorality are all terms that have to some extent lost their original
meaning. I may say briefly in this connection that I use the term
moral advancement simply and solely in respect of the practice of the
duties of life from a high ethical point of view. That is, I know, a
somewhat vague definition, but I think it will serve its purpose. Ever
since Japan has been thrown open to foreigners we have heard a good
deal about morality and immorality, both in the strict and the
perverted sense of those words. The European who came there, male and
female, was, or affected to be, shocked at the relations between the
sexes he found prevailing. He saw prostitution recognised and
regulated. He heard of, and in the old days possibly saw, something of
phallic worship. He witnessed or heard of men and women making their
ablutions together in public wash-houses, and he--sometimes it was a
she--affected to be horrified at such a proceeding. Better, much
better, it was inferred, the custom of the lower classes in England,
never to wash at all, than this horrible outrage on public decency.
And then the merchant or the trader who came to Japan, he also prated
about commercial immorality, and the prevalence of untruthfulness
among the Japanese with whom he did business. And in other directions
too there were criticisms passed upon Japanese manners and customs,
and many of these were condemned and denounced as immoral or wicked
very often for no better reason than that they differed from those
that obtained in Europe. However much or little ground there may have
been for these charges against the Japanese people, I am not now
concerned to discuss. One thing I will remark--that the Japanese
possess two religions which, whatever their effects and no matter to
what extent superstition may have been engrafted on them, have always
held up a high moral standard. And if one dips even cursorily into the
writings of the ethical teachers of Japan in the past, we invariably
find the inculcation of an exalted standard of morals. Indeed, the
practice of the Japanese people at the present time, as in all times
in regard to the relations between parents and children, of wife to
husband, of the people to the State, have been beyond criticism. In
these matters Western nations have much to learn from them. Since the
opening of the country to Europe, the Japanese Government has shown
itself alive to European criticism on many points. It has effectually
stamped out phallic worship; it has, in deference to European
susceptibilities, abolished mixed bathing in the public wash-houses;
and in various other ways it has striven in the direction of raising
the standard of moral conduct throughout the country. That it has not
attempted to put down prostitution, but, on the contrary, has
recognised and regulated it, has been made a charge against it. The
Japanese Government has most likely come to the conclusion that
prostitution cannot be put down, and such being the case it has
decided that, with a view of obviating those evils which are the
outcome of it, the only alternative is to regulate it. I admit that in
an ideal state of existence prostitution would not exist, but no
country in the world has yet reached or approximated that ideal state.
The evil of prostitution is just as flagrant in Europe as in the East,
but Japan so far alone among the Great Powers of the world has seen
fit to tackle this difficult and delicate matter, and to some extent
regulate it. That her rulers look forward to the time when the
Yoshiwara shall have ceased to exist I firmly believe, and I am
convinced that they mean to do everything possible towards that
consummation. But the rulers of Japan are not mere sentimentalists;
they have to recognise facts, and recognising facts they have done
what seems best to them under the circumstances.

As regards commercial morality, I believe even the European merchants
and traders in the country admit that there has of late years been a
marked improvement. In old Japan commercialism was looked down upon.
Making a profit out of buying and selling was regarded as degrading;
those who indulged in such practices were despised, and not
unnaturally the trader, finding himself a member of a contemned class,
lived down to the low level on which he had been placed. In old Japan
traders, in the presence of the Samurai, were, when addressing him,
required to touch the ground with their foreheads; when talking to him
they had to keep their hands on the ground. Such a state of things, of
course, has long been effete, but the influences thereof remained for
a considerable time after the acts had ceased. There has now been
effected a revulsion of feeling in such matters. Commerce is honoured,
trade is esteemed, and the Japan of to-day is convinced of the fact
that on her commerce, trade, and industries the future of the country
largely depends. Men of the highest rank, men of the greatest culture,
men of the deepest probity are now embarked in trade and commerce in
Japan; the whole moral atmosphere connected with trade has changed,
and there are at the present time no more honourable men in the whole
commercial world than those of Japan. In this matter there has
undoubtedly been an enormous advance in ideas and ideals. This
advance, I believe, is destined to extend in other directions--indeed,
in every direction. The Japan of to-day has, I think, so far as I have
been able to gauge it, a feeling--a deep feeling, which perhaps I can
best describe as _noblesse oblige_. It is sensible of the position the
country has attained; it is full of hope and enthusiasm for the future
thereof; it believes implicitly that it is incumbent on it not only to
attain but to maintain a high moral standard in every direction. It
has been urged as against the Japan of to-day by a writer on the
subject that Spencer and Mill and Huxley have been widely read by the
educated classes, and that Western thought and practice as to the
structure of society and the freedom of the individual have been
emphasised throughout the country. I confess to feeling no alarm in
regard to the moral future of Japan because it has perused the works
of the three philosophers named. It gives me no trepidation to read
that Mill's work on "Representative Government" has been translated
into a volume of five hundred pages in Japanese and reached its third
edition. I am, on the contrary, pleased to learn that Japan of to-day
is concerned about culture, desirous of reading the works of those
great philosophers whose names are among the immortal. There are no
principles enunciated in any of the books of Spencer, Mill, or Huxley
that, so far as I know, can undermine the moral character of the
Japanese. On the contrary, I believe that a perusal of the writings of
those great men will tend to assist the Japanese into a clearer
understanding of moral principles, and in a desire to apply them to
the duties of life. I look forward with great hope and a pronounced
confidence to the moral future of Japan. Everything that I have seen
in the country, everything that I have been able to learn respecting
the people thereof--the ideas prevailing, the teaching given in its
schools and universities, the whole trend of thought in the land, the
literature read and produced, the aspirations, in fact, of the
Japanese people to-day--lead me to think and to believe most firmly
that in the Japan of the future we shall witness a nation on a higher
moral plane than any of those with which the history of the world
acquaints us.

Closely connected with the moral advancement of Japan is its
intellectual advancement. I have referred to the statement made by a
writer that the Japan of to-day is addicted to reading the works of
certain English philosophers, and that one of these books translated
into Japanese had run through several editions. This fact is typical
of the intellectual ferment, the thirst for knowledge of all kinds
that exists in the country to-day. That craving is not for
philosophical works alone; it extends to and embraces every form of
literature of an instructive or enlightening character. It is in
evidence in the higher schools and the universities of the country; it
is to be witnessed in the many periodicals which exist for the
promotion of culture and the spread of knowledge. This intellectual
ferment, as I have, I think, appropriately termed it, is extending
rapidly, and is, I believe, destined to assume much greater
proportions. The literature of the world is at the present time
literally being devoured by Young Japan. I do not regard this literary
voracity as the mere outcome of curiosity, or as in any way
symptomatic of mere mental unrest. Young Japan appears, like Lord
Bacon, to take all knowledge for its field of study, and in accord
with the philosophical principles of that great man, the principles of
utility and progress, to be concerned with everything that can
alleviate the sufferings and promote the comforts of mankind. Of
course, at the present time this condition of craving for knowledge is
confined, from the point of view of numbers, to a small portion of the
people. But the intellectuals of every country are in a minority--in
some countries in a miserable minority--and the influence they
exercise is never proportionate to their numbers. At the same time the
intellectuals of Japan are, in view of the fact that the country has
for some short time been open to Western influences, an amazingly
large proportion of the population. I am of opinion that this
intellectual movement in Japan is destined to widen considerably, and
that its influence on the people will be immense. During the whole
history of the world the potency of mind over matter has been the
greatest wonder. In these present days this potency is even more
pronounced, and mere brute force is nowadays only made effective when
it is influenced and regulated and organised by mind. I regard the
intellectual development of Japan as one of the most pleasing features
that have accrued from its contact with Western civilisation. I do not
mean to suggest that there was an intellectual atrophy in the country
prior to those influences making themselves felt, but there was an
isolation which is never good for intellectual development. The
broader the sympathies of nations, as of individuals, the wider their
outlook, the better for their mental progress. When Japan was in a
condition of isolation the literature available for her people was
limited both in style and quantity. Her people now have at their
disposal the intellect of the whole civilised world, the great
thoughts of the great men of all ages. And it is pleasing to be able
to relate that no more appreciative readers of the world's classics
are to be found than the young intellectuals of Japan to-day. I have
said that I regard this intellectual enthusiasm as one of the most
pleasing features of modern Japan. That it is destined to have great
results I am firmly convinced. I believe, and I am not naturally an
optimist, that in the Japan of the future, the not far-distant future,
the world is destined to see a nation not only morally but mentally
great, a nation which will develop in conjunction those high moral
qualities which will give it what I may term a pronounced, a
well-defined character, and an intellectual greatness superior to that
of ancient Greece and Rome, because restrained and illumined by the
predominance and potency of moral characteristics which those great
nations did not possess.



CHAPTER XXV

THE FUTURE OF JAPAN--NATIONAL--POLITICAL--ITS INFLUENCE ON THE WORLD


I have now come to my final chapter, in which I propose to offer some
remarks embodying my opinion as to the future of Japan from a national
and political standpoint, as also her influence upon the world
generally. The theme is a great one, and would require a volume for
its proper treatment. Obviously, therefore, it cannot be dealt with
other than cursorily in the few pages I am about to devote to it.

Readers of this book will, I think, have had borne in upon them the
fact that I am not only an ardent admirer of, but a believer in Japan
and the Japanese. I utterly scout the idea put forward by some writers
that what they have taken on of Western civilisation is either a veneer
or a varnish, or that the advancement of the nation resembles the
growth of the mushroom and is no more stable. I regard the Japanese as
a serious people and the nation as having a serious purpose. If I did
not there would be no need for me to dilate upon its future, for the
simple reason that its future would be incomprehensible, and
accordingly be absolutely impossible to forecast. As it is, it appears
to me that the future of Japan is as plain as the proverbial
pike-staff. I say this with a full knowledge of the dangers attendant
on prophecy and the risk to the reputation of the vaticinator should
events prove that he was mistaken in his prevision or erroneous in his
conclusions.

I have traced in these pages what I may term the national development
of Japan; how, after two and a half centuries of isolation, it,
recognising the force of circumstances, determined to impose upon its
own ancient civilisation all that was best in that of the West, and,
having so determined, took practical and effective steps to that end.
What is to be the result of it all, the result, that is to say, not
upon a few thousands, or hundreds of thousands, of Japanese, but upon
the nation as a whole? Will these accretions on the old civilisation
of the land mould and influence and alter the people generally, or
will the effect be circumscribed and merely develop a class standing
out apart from the great body of the people and affecting a
superiority because of its Western culture? In my opinion the result
will be not partial, but universal, though not immediate. There are,
of course, large portions of Japan, many millions of its population,
upon whom the opening up of the country has, as yet had little, if
any, effect. Many of the Japanese people have hardly ever seen a
foreigner, or, if they have, have viewed him with no little curiosity.
They certainly have not realised, and possibly have not suspected, the
effect which foreign influences are likely to have upon this Land of
the Rising Sun. But influences, we know, may be effective without
being felt, and I am convinced, from what I have seen and heard and
the investigations I have been enabled to make, that the Japan of
to-day is not only in transition--in rapid transition--but that its
evolution is sure and certain, and that the result thereof will be the
ultimate development of a nation which will assuredly impress the
world and will very probably have a much more potent effect upon it
than mere numbers would account for. It is the building up of a nation
such as this that I confidently look forward to in the future. We of
this generation may not, probably will not, live to see it--we
certainly shall not in its ultimate development--but we can already
see at work the forces which are to produce it, and the eye of faith,
of a reasonable faith, built not on mere surmise or ardent hopes, but
upon the expectation of a reasonable issue to the factors at work
producing it, assures us that the Japan of the future will, as I have
said, be a nation whose light will shine, and shine brilliantly,
before the whole world.

And as regards the political future of this wonderful country, I feel
I can speak with equal confidence. What a marvellous change has come
over this land, or our conception of this land, since the first
British Minister resident there penned his impressions on approaching
it. "A cluster of isles," he remarked, "appeared on the farthest verge
of the horizon, apparently inhabited by a race at once grotesque and
savage--not much given to hospitality, and rather addicted to
martyrising strangers of whose creed they disapproved. Thus much stood
out tolerably distinctly, but little else that was tangible. Severance
from all social ties, isolation from one's kind, and a pariah
existence, far away from all centres of civilisation--far beyond the
utmost reach of railroad or telegraph--came much more vividly before
me; and in Rembrandt masses of shade, with but one small ray of light,
just enough to give force and depth to the whole--a sense of duty, a
duty that _must_ be done, whether pleasant or otherwise, and about
which there was no choice. What a world of anxiety and doubt the
consciousness of this saves us!" This exordium reads more like the
utterance of a man being led out to execution than a Minister going to
a country possessing an ancient civilisation--a civilisation which had
had its effect on every phase of the national life. What would not
many of us now give to have been in the place of Sir Rutherford
Alcock, visiting this land shortly after it had been opened after 250
years of isolation! How we should revel in its artistic treasures,
which had not then been dispersed all over the world; and what
pleasure we should have taken in seeing feudalism otherwise than in
the pages of history! And yet Sir Rutherford Alcock was only
expressing the opinions of his time. He could see nothing in Japan but
a grotesque and uncivilised people whom the Western nations had to
deal with in a peremptory manner. What a change there has been in the
intervening forty-four years! Japan now stands out prominently among
the nations, her political future appears to be secure, and it is none
the less secure because of the difficulties she has encountered and
overcome in attaining her present position. I emphasise all the more
readily her present and future political position since, as I have
previously observed in this book, I believe that that position will be
one exercised for the good of the world. I look upon Japan as a great
civilising factor in the future of the human race because, strong
though she is and stronger though she will become, I am positive that
her strength will never be put forward for any selfish aims or from
any improper motives. It is for this reason that I welcome the
alliance with Great Britain. I hope that alliance will not be limited
to any term of years, but will be extended indefinitely, because in it
I see a prospect and an assurance for the peace of the world.

Inseparable from any allusion to the political future of Japan is
some consideration of the influence that she is likely to exercise
upon the world generally. Any person taking up an atlas and looking at
the position occupied by Japan must, if he is of a thoughtful
disposition, be impressed by it. Take the question of the Pacific--one
which, in view of the change in the policy of the United States of
recent years, must assume considerable importance in the future. There
are various factors which must be taken into account here. The
construction of the Panama Canal is one, the completion of the
Siberian Railway another, the development of Canada and the completion
of the railway lines that now penetrate nearly every part of that vast
dominion is a third. Japan is now, in fact, the very centre of three
great markets--those of Europe, Asia, and America. In the struggle for
the mastery of the Pacific, which appears certain to come, and will
probably come sooner than many people suppose, Japan is certain to
take a momentous part. Not only in respect of her own islands, but in
reference to the great island of Formosa, ceded to her by China as the
outcome of the war with that Power, Japan occupies a unique and a most
important position in the Pacific. As regards the mastery of the
Pacific, in reference to which so much has been written and so much
speculation, a large amount of it unprofitable, has been indulged, I
shall say but little. On the shores of the Pacific Russia still
remains a power, which, though defeated by Japan, is still one of
considerable importance. On the other side of the ocean there is the
United States, which, as some persons think, has given hostages to
fortune by annexing the Philippine Islands. England, moreover, claims
consideration in respect not only of her possessions in the Straits
Settlements, Hong Kong, &c., but by reason of her great Navy and, I
may add, her alliance with Japan. Then, too, there are China, and, if
of less importance, France and Germany. Of all these Japan, in my
opinion, occupies the commanding position. She not only occupies the
commanding position, but she is, I think, from various causes, bound
to play a great part in the future mastery of the Pacific.

It is apparent that in the attainment and assertion of that mastery
naval power must have a great and predominant part, and it is to the
development of her naval power that Japan is devoting all her
energies. Like Great Britain, from whom she has learned many lessons
in this respect, she sees that an island empire can only maintain its
position by possessing an overpowering naval force. As I have said
before, I am fully convinced of the fact that in the development of
her Navy, as of her Army, Japan has no aggressive designs. Her
aspiration is the security and prevention from invasion of her island
and the preservation of her national independence. At the same time,
situated as she is in the great Pacific Ocean, she has palpably, from
her position, rights and responsibilities and duties outside the
immediate confines of her Empire. That, I think, will be admitted by
any one. The phrase, "spheres of influence" has become somewhat
hackneyed of recent years, and it has occasionally been used to give
colour to aggressive designs. There may, too, be people who would say
that spheres of influence is not a term that can properly be applied
to a great water-way such as the Pacific. I am not, however, on the
present occasion arguing with pedants. What I desire is to broadly
emphasise the fact that in the future of the Pacific--those
innumerable isles dotted here and there over its surface, Japan is a
factor that cannot be left out of account. Year by year her position
there is increasing in importance. Steamers ply to her ports weekly
from Vancouver and San Francisco. The Japanese population are
emigrating to the Pacific shores of America, the trade and commerce of
Japan with the American Continent are growing and broadening.
Everything in fact tends to show that within a comparatively short
space of time Japan will have asserted her position, not only as a
Great World Power, but as a great commercial nation in the Pacific.
What is to be the outcome of it all? is the question that will
naturally arise to the mind. I think that one outcome of it will be,
as I have shown, the capture by Japan of the Chinese trade, if not in
its entirety, at any rate in a very large degree. Another outcome
will, I believe, be the enormous development of Japanese trade with
both the United States and Canada. Some people may remark that these
are not essentially political matters, and that I am somewhat
wandering from my point in treating of them in connection with the
influence of Japan upon the world generally. I do not think so. A
nation may assert its influence and emphasise its importance to just
as great an extent by its trade as by the double-dealings of diplomacy
or by other equally questionable methods. Of one thing I am convinced,
and that is that the influence of Japan upon the rest of the world
will be a singularly healthy one. That country has fortunately struck
out for itself, in diplomacy as in other matters, a new line. It has
not behind it any traditions, nor before it prejudices wherewith to
impede its progress. The diplomacy of Japan will, accordingly, be
conducted in a straightforward manner, and its record so far in this
respect has, I think, provided a splendid object-lesson for the rest
of the world. The influence of Japan upon the other nations will I
hope, as I believe, continue to be of a healthy nature. If that
country sets forth prominently the fact that while aspiring to be
great, it possesses none of those attributes that we have previously
associated with great nations, the attributes of greed, covetousness,
aggressiveness, and overbearing--an arrogant attitude in regard to
weaker Powers, it will have performed a notable service in the history
of the world. For myself I have no doubt whatever that Japan will
teach this lesson, and in teaching it will have justified the great
place that she has attained among the nations of the earth.

I have now concluded the task that I set before myself. My readers
must be judges as to the measure of success, if any, I have attained
in it. To attempt a survey of the past, present, and future of a great
and ancient nation within the limited space at my disposal has been by
no means easy. Every subject I have had under consideration has
invited discursiveness, and tempted me to linger and dilate upon it,
and it alone. The fascination of Japan must be upon every one, or
almost every one, who writes about it, and that fascination is, I may
observe, like the art of the country, catholic. Whether we deeply and
exhaustively investigate one subject and one subject only, or take a
hurried glance at every or almost every subject, we feel a glamour in
respect of this wonderful country and its equally wonderful people.
While I have endeavoured to prevent this fascination, this glamour,
affecting my judgment, I am not ashamed to plead guilty to, but am, in
fact, rather proud of it. Indeed, I shall feel gratified if a perusal
of this book induces a few persons here and there to study still more
deeply the history, the religion, the art of Japan, and the whole
trend of events in that country during the past forty years. Every
phase of the national life lends itself to investigation, and will, I
feel sure, reward the investigator. He will, unless he be a person of
a singularly unemotional disposition, utterly lacking in all those
finer feelings which especially distinguish man from the brutes,
hardly fail of being, before he has proceeded far in his
investigations, quickly under the alluring influences of this Far
Eastern land, entering heartily, zealously, and enthusiastically into
its national life and the developments thereof in all their various
ramifications.

The fascination that Japan has exercised upon writers such as Arnold
and Hearn is what it does, though no doubt in a smaller degree, upon
less gifted men. It is given to few to drink in and absorb the subtle
charm of the country so thoroughly and express it so graphically and
delicately, with such beauty and power and withal so much truth as
have those brilliant men. I regard this great and growing fascination
of Occidentals for this fair Eastern land and its inhabitants as a
long step in the direction of the realisation of the brotherhood of
man; that ideal state of things which we hope for so expectantly,
longingly, perhaps too often sceptically; that happy time when
national prejudices, jealousies, and animosities will have faded into
oblivion, when nations by the simple process of studying one another,
as Japan has been studied of recent years, will get to understand one
another, when the literature and art of nations will be no longer
merely national, but world possessions, when wars shall have ceased
and the policy of aggression have come to be regarded as an evil
thing, when, in a word, the brotherhood of man shall be no longer an
idle dream, a mere speculative aspiration which no practical person
ever expected to see realised, but an actuality within measurable
distance of being accomplished. All these things may as yet be dreams,
but let us dream them. The more they are dreamed, the more likely is
the prospect of their realisation. One thing at least fills me with
ardent hope, and that is the Japan, as I see it to-day, compared with
the Japan of forty years ago. If such an upheaval is possible for one
nation, who shall put any bounds to the potentialities of the world?
So let us dream our dreams, and in our waking moments cast afar our
eyes upon the land of the Rising, aye, now the Risen Sun, take heart
and dream again in quiet confidence that some day, in some future
reincarnation, mayhap, we shall witness the realisation of our hopes,
and see that after all our dreams were merely an intelligent
anticipation of the glad time coming.



INDEX


    A

    Acrobatic performances, 199

    Actresses, 199

    Adams, Will, 5

    Advancement, Intellectual, 279, 285
      Physical, 279
      Moral, 279, 281

    Advertising in newspapers, 205

    Agriculture, Thunberg's account of, 8
      System of, 23

    Ainos, the, 37, 170, 250

    Aino Preservation Society, 251

    Alcock, Sir Rutherford, 6, 272, 273, 291

    Alloys, making of, 157

    America, United States of, 293

    Amusements of Japanese, 68

    Ancestor worship, 73

    Arboriculture, 86

    Archery, 72

    Architecture, 167
      Art in, 167, 175
      Modern, 173
      Korean, 172

    Arita, 142

    Army, Japanese, 117

    Armour, 154

    Arnold, Sir Edwin, 193, 194, 267, 296

    Art, Japanese, 131, 149

    Art in Architecture, 175

    Art Treasures, 165

    Artistic ideals, 163

    Artists, Japanese, 133
      Lacquer 137

    Asiatic Continent, proximity to, 17

    Aston, Mr., 194

    Athletics, 113


    B

    Banks, Japanese, 97
      European, 97

    Baths, 65, 75

    Bathing, mixed, abolished, 282

    Bear, black, 27

    Bedding, 65

    Bells, 153

    Beresford, Lord Charles, 229

    Bills, Treasury, 94

    Bird, Miss, 212, 217

    Birds, 27

    Bizen ware, 144, 145

    Bon Matsuri, 71

    "Break-up of China," 229

    Brinkley, Captain, 207

    Bronze work, 153

    Bungo, Prince of, 2

    Buddha, statues of, 151

    Buddhism, 39, 40, 41
      Influences of, 48, 77

    Buddhist religion, commandments of, 42


    C

    "Capital of the Tycoon," 6, 272, 273

    Canada, 292

    Castles, feudal, 171

    Cavalry, 171
      Lack of horses, 26

    Cemeteries, 73

    Ceramic ware, 140
      Decoration of, 145

    Cereals, 23

    Ceremonies, tea, 141

    Chamberlain, Basil Hall, 44, 131, 152, 250

    Chastity of women, 217

    Children, 67
      Attendance at school, 104

    China, 221
      War with, 93, 208
      Japanisation of, 224
      Awakening of, 229

    China ware, _see_ Porcelain and Pottery

    Chinese indemnity, 228
      legal system, 186

    Chiuzenji, Lake, 26

    Christenings, 72

    Christian Missions, 46, 47, 239, 256

    Christianity, conversion of Japanese to, 3, 261

    Cleanliness of people, 75

    Climate, 19

    Clothing of Japanese, 68

    Coal, 22

    College, Police, and Prison, 188

    Commerce, 80

    Commercial morality, 236

    Community, foreign, 235, 239

    Confucianism, 39

    Conscription, system of, 119

    Constitution of Japan, 49, 58, 59

    Copper, 157

    Copper ware, 153

    Costume, Japanese, 161

    Cotton, 23

    Court, Supreme, of China and Japan, 231

    Courts, Consular, 231

    Courts, Japanese, 234, 235

    Crane, Walter, 132

    Curios, 161

    Curriculum, school, 105


    D

    Dai Butsus, 151

    Daimios, 51, 139, 155, 158, 185

    Dalny, 17

    Daynogawa, River, 26

    Death penalty, 190

    Debates, parliamentary, 57

    Debt, National, 91, 95

    Decoration of ceramic ware, 145

    De Fonblanque, 138

    Descent of Japanese Sovereigns, 52

    Development of Japan, 289

    Dickins, F. V., 232, 240

    Diet, Imperial Japanese, 52, 53

    Diosy, Mr. Arthur, 213

    Diplomacy, methods of, 294

    Diseases, 20, 66

    Douglas, Admiral Sir A. L., 126

    Drama, the Japanese, 193, 198

    Dress of the Japanese, 68

    Dresser, Dr., 168, 169

    Dutch, their settlement at Decima, 3, 25, 134, 142

    Duties, Customs, 233


    E

    Earthenware, _see_ Pottery and Porcelain

    Earthquakes, 19

    Education, 102

    Education, Board of, 103

    Electors, Japanese, qualifications of, 55

    Electoral districts, 55

    Elgin, Lord, 124

    Embroidery, silk and satin, 161

    Emperor, 51, 52
      Position of, 60

    English officers, 125

    Espionage, elaborate system of, 10

    Europeans in Japan, 230

    Europeanising of Japan, 230

    Evergreens, Japanese, 24

    Exports and Imports, 81, 83

    Expulsion of foreigners from Japan, 3


    F

    Fascination of Japan, 295, 296

    Fauna of Japan, 27

    Feast of Dolls, 71
      of Flags, 70

    Festivals and feasts, 69

    Feudal system in Japan, 50

    _Financial and Economical Annual_, 91

    Fish, 24

    Flora of Japan, 24

    Flowers, 73

    Food, 66

    Foreigners in Japan, 231

    Foreign community, 235, 239

    Foreign market, manufacture of articles for, 146

    Foreign troops in Japan, 234

    Forests, 22, 86

    Formosa, 17, 292

    France, 293

    Fruit, Japanese, 23

    Fuji-yama, 18, 138

    Furniture, household, 65

    Future of Japan, 274
      Political, 279, 288, 290
      National, 288


    G

    Gardens, Japanese, 75

    Geisha, the, 213

    Generals, Japanese, 122

    Germany, 225, 293

    German Emperor, 222

    Girls, schools for, 106, 114

    Gold, 157

    Gordon, General, 228

    Government, constitution of, 52

    Great Britain, 207, 293

    Gregory XIII., mission from Japan to, 3

    Griffis, 155

    Grotesque in Japanese art, 135, 145


    H

    Hair, Mr. Thomas, 55

    Hakodate, 18, 254, 256
      Battle of, 125

    Hara-kiri, 154, 265

    Harbours, 21

    Harvest festival, 70

    Hawes, Lieut. A. G. S., R.M.L.I., 126

    Health of the people, 20

    Hearn, Lafcadio, 152, 258, 267, 296

    Heian period, 195

    Hill, Dr. G. Birnie, R.N., 128

    History, Japanese, 1

    Hizen ware, 145

    Holidays in Japan, 69

    Hong-Kong, 292

    Honshiu, 17

    Horses, 26, 121

    Houses, Japanese, 64, 170


    I

    Images, carving of, 158

    Imari ware, 140, 142

    Industries, 80

    Influence of Japan, 279, 288

    Inland Sea, 21

    Intellectual advancement, 279, 285

    Iron, 157

    Irrigation, 23

    Ise ware, 140

    Ito, Marquis, 81

    Ivory, carvings in, 149

    Iwasaki, Mr., 129


    J

    Japan, Constitution of, 49, 58, 59
      Development of, 289
      English newspapers in, 207
      Europeans in, 230
      Europeanising of, 230
      Expulsion of foreigners from, 3
      Fascination of, 295, 296
      Fauna of, 27
      Feudal system in, 50
      Flora of, 24
      for the Japanese, 242
      Foreigners in, 231
      Foreign troops in, 234
      Future of, 274, 279, 288, 290
      Holidays in, 69
      Missionaries in, 46, 47, 239, 256
      Naval Officer's description of, 11
      Occidentilation of, 269
      Portuguese visits to, 2
      Present position of, 263
      Press, "Yellow," in, 206
      Religions of, 39
      Tourists in, 26, 241
      Trade of China, capture by, 227, 294
      Transition of, 274
      Vice in, 212, 217
      Young, 270, 287

    _Japan Times_, the, 202

    Japanese, amusements of, 68
      Army, 117
      art, 131, 149
      artists, 133
      banks, 97
      Conversion of, to Christianity, 3, 261
      Clothing of, 68
      Constitution of, 49, 58, 59
      costume, 161
      courts, 234, 235
      Descent of Sovereigns, 52
      Diet, Imperial, 52, 53
      drama, 193, 198
      Dress of, 68
      electors, qualifications of, 55
      evergreens, 24
      fruit, 23
      gardens, 75
      Generals, 122
      grotesque in art, 135, 145
      history, 1
      houses, 64, 170
      language, 33, 34, 109
      legal system, 187
      literature, 37, 193
      morality, 13, 211
        commercial, 236, 283
      Navy, 117, 123
      oligarchy, 61
      paper, 87
      Parliament, 56
      people, 63
      pictures, 158
      pillow, 65
      plays, 199
      Psychology of, 264
      race, 29, 30
      schools, 104
      subjects, 53

    Jinrickshas, 182


    K

    Kaemfer, 5, 30, 39, 153

    Kaga ware, 140, 144

    Kakemonos, 65, 160

    Ken sect, 44

    Kiushiu, 17

    Kobé, 25

    Korea, 172, 262

    Korean architecture, 172
      potters, 141

    Kumoto, Mr., 202, 203

    Kurile Isles, 17

    Kutania ware, 145

    Kyoto, 25, 158, 181

    Kyoto ware, 140, 144, 145


    L

    Labour question, 88
      organisations, 88

    _Labour World_ newspaper, 88

    Lacquer, 135
      artists, 137

    Language, Japanese, characteristics of, 33
      Origin of, 34
      Educational difficulties, 109

    Law and order, 185

    Legal system, Japanese, 187

    Letters, number posted, 178

    Literature, Japanese, 37, 193

    Loans, 90, 92

    Loo-Choo Islands, 17

    Loti, Pierre, 213

    Luxury, absence of, 74


    M

    Macao, 142

    Machinery, manufacture of, 81

    "Madame Chrysanthéme," 213

    Magazines, 207

    Makimonos, 160

    Manufactures, 83

    Marco Paolo, 1

    Marks on pottery and porcelain, 148

    Marriages, 72

    Matches, 96

    Mercantile Marine, 129

    Metals, 21, 157

    Metal work, 153
      workers, 156
      industries, decline in, 157

    Metallurgists, 152

    Mikado, 50, 51; also _see_ Emperor

    Mineral wealth, 21, 157

    Minister, British, at Japanese Court, 239

    Missionaries in Japan, 46, 47, 239, 256
      in China, 225

    Mitake, Mount, 18

    Mitsui, house of, 97

    Mitsui Bussan Kwiasha, 99

    Mitsu Bishi Company, 129

    Monkey, red-faced, 27

    Morality, Japanese, 13, 211
      Commercial, 236, 283

    Moral advancement, 279, 281

    Moral code, educational, 110

    Mountains, 18

    Municipalities, European, 232

    Music, 69


    N

    Nagasaki, 21, 25

    Nagoya, 25
      Castle at, 171

    Nara, Temple of, 167

    Navy, Japanese, 117, 123

    Naval officer's description of Japan, 11

    Netsukés, 149, 150

    "New Far East," 213

    New Year's Day, 69

    Newspapers, 89, 200
      Circulation of, 205
      English, in Japan, 207

    News agencies, 204

    Nikko, 26
      Pagoda at, 169
      Temples at, 173, 174

    Nippon, 17

    Nippon Yusen Kaisha, 129

    "Nô," the, 200

    Notes, bank, 93


    O

    Oligarchy, Japanese, 61

    Oxen, 27


    P

    Pacific, mastery of, 292

    Pagodas, 171

    Painting, 158
      Schools of, 159
      Western influences on, 159

    Panama Canal, 292

    Paper, Japanese, 87

    Paper money, 13

    Parkes, Sir Harry, 240
      Life of, 240

    Parliament, Japanese, 56

    Parties and party system, 58

    Passports, 233

    Peers, House of, 53

    People, Japanese, life and habits, 63

    Petroleum, 86

    Phallic worship, 281

    Philippine Islands, 292

    Philologists and Japanese language, 33

    Philosophers, English, widely read, 284, 285

    Philosophy of life, 78

    Physical advancement, 279

    Physical features of country, 17

    Physique, 112

    Pictures, Japanese, 158

    Pigs, 27

    Pillow, Japanese, 65

    Plays, Japanese, 199

    Poetry, 194
      in newspapers, 205

    Police, 188

    Political future, 279

    Population, 17

    Porcelain, 140, 142, 145
      Modern, 147
      Marks on, 148

    Port Arthur, 17

    Portuguese visits to Japan, 2

    Postal service, 177
      orders, 178

    Post-office business, 178
      Savings Bank, 179

    Post-offices, foreign, 232

    Potters, Korean, 141

    Pottery, 140
      Marks on, 148

    Press, "Yellow," in Japan, 206
      Functions of, 210
      Newspaper, 202

    Prisons, 189

    Prison system, 190

    Privy Council, 59

    Prostitution, 215, 283

    _Punch_, Yokohama, 209

    Punishments, 190

    Psychology of Japanese, 264


    R

    Race, Japanese, its origin, 29
      Theories regarding, 30

    Railways, 25, 176

    Raku ware, 140, 145

    Rein, Professor, 19

    Religions of Japan, 39
      influence on people, 76

    Representatives, House of, 53, 55

    Resources of country, 90

    Revenue, 101

    Revolution of 1868, 21, 165, 186, 197, 203

    _Rhus Vernicifera_, 22, 138

    Rice, 23, 84

    Rivers, 19

    Royal Family, style and address of, defined, 59

    Russia, 292

    Russia, war with, 120, 127, 221

    Ryder, Admiral Sir A. P., 240


    S

    Saké, 25

    St. Francis Xavier, 2, 41, 45, 47, 134, 260, 261, 271

    Sakhalin, 17, 18

    Salt, 87

    Samurai, 155, 236, 283

    San Francisco, 294

    Satin embroidery, 161

    Satsuma, Prince of, 134
      ware, 140, 143, 144, 145

    Savings Banks, Post-office, 179

    Scabbards, sword, 155

    Scenery, 25

    Schools, Japanese, 104
      for girls, 106, 114
      Higher, 107
      Technical, 108
      of painting, 159
      of progressive art, 147

    Sculpture, 149

    Seto ware, 145

    Shampooing, 75

    Sheep, 27

    Shiba, temples at, 158, 173, 174

    Shikoku, 17

    Shingon Yoko sect, 44

    Shinto temples, 45

    Shintoism, 39, 40, 41
      Influences of, 48, 77

    Shirakawa, Emperor, 42

    Shogun, 51

    Shrines, 77

    Siberian railway, 292

    Silk, 83
      embroidery, 161
      -worms, 84

    Silver, 157

    Smoking, 66

    Snakes, 27

    Social intercourse, 237

    Socialism, 89
      State, 82

    Spheres of influence, 293

    _Stonewall Jackson_, 125

    Straits Settlements, 292

    Sugar, 87

    Subjects, Japanese, rights and duties of defined, 53

    Swords, 154
      Abolition of wearing of, 155
      Accessories, 156

    Sword-makers, 155


    T

    Tea, 24, 95
      ceremonies, 141
      houses, 24
      industry, 86

    Tea Traders' Association, 85

    Telegrams, 180

    Telegraphs, 179

    Telephones, 180

    Temperature of Japan, 20

    Temples, Buddhist, 171, 173, 174
      Shinto, 171
      Some Buddhist, a visit to, 244
      Construction of, 158

    Tendai sect, 44

    Territoriality, extra, 232, 235

    Theatre, 68, 199

    "Things Japanese," 131

    Thunberg, 6

    Tin, 157

    Tobacco, 66, 82, 86, 149

    Tokio, 20, 25, 181

    Tokugawa period, 191

    Tooth-powder, 162

    Tourists in Japan, 26, 241

    Trade, 80
      Chinese, capture by Japan, 227, 294

    Traders, 236, 237

    Tramways, 181

    Transition of Japan, 274

    Treasures, art, 165, 168

    Trees, 22

    Tsu-shima, 18, 240

    Turanian race, 33

    Tycoon, 11, 12, 13, 51

    Typhoons, 21


    U

    Utilitarianism in art, 143

    "Unbeaten Tracks in Japan," 212

    United States of America, 293
      export of tea to, 85

    University, Imperial, 107

    Universities, 107, 116


    V

    Vancouver, 294

    Vice in Japan, 212, 217

    Vladivostock, 18

    Volcanoes, 18


    W

    War with China, 93, 208
      Russia, 120, 127, 221

    Ware, ceramic, 140

    Wergman Mr., 209

    Whistler, Mr., 160

    White peril, 227

    Wild animals, 27

    Wild birds, 27

    Wilson, Admiral Sir A. K., 126

    Wolf, 27

    Women, position of, 67

    Wrestling, 72


    X

    Xavier, St. Francis, 2, 41, 45, 47, 134, 260, 261, 271


    Y

    "Yellow peril," the, 222, 226

    Yesso, 17, 250

    Yokohama, 25, 234

    Yokosko, dockyard at, 123

    Yomuri, 202

    Yoshiwara, 215, 216, 218, 220, 239

    Young Japan, 270, 287


  The Gresham Press,
  UNWIN BROTHERS, LIMITED.
  WOKING AND LONDON.



Transcriber's Note

Minor punctuation errors have been repaired. Hyphenation and use of
accents has been made consistent. Archaic spelling has been preserved
as printed. Index items have been made consistent with the main text.

The following amendments have been made:

    Page 17--Kiusiu amended to Kiushiu--"... Honshiu,
    Shikoku, Kiushiu, and Yesso, besides some thousands of
    smaller isles."

    Page 22--aboreal amended to arboreal--"... there can be
    no question as to the value of its arboreal products."

    Page 48--opprobious amended to opprobrious--"...
    whatever its precise meaning, is invariably intended to
    be opprobrious!"

    Page 202--Zumoto amended to Kumoto--"Mr. Kumoto, editor
    of the _Japan Times_, ..."

    Page 245--whisperered amended to whispered--"... and
    with bowed head whispered her morning prayer."

Illustrations have been moved where necessary so that they are not in
the middle of a paragraph. The frontispiece illustration has been
moved to follow the title page.





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