By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Gleanings in Buddha-Fields - Studies of Hand and Soul in the Far East
Author: Hearn, Lafcadio
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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 "Gleanings in Buddha-Fields - Studies of Hand and Soul in the Far East" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

in an extended version,also linking to free sources for
education worldwide ... MOOC's, educational materials,...)









       I. A LIVING GOD
      IV. DUST





Of whatever dimension, the temples or shrines of pure Shintō are all
built in the same archaic style. The typical shrine is a windowless
oblong building of unpainted timber, with a very steep overhanging
roof; the front is the gable end; and the upper part of the perpetually
closed doors is wooden lattice-work,--usually a grating of bars
closely set and crossing each other at right angles. In most cases
the structure is raised slightly above the ground on wooden pillars;
and the queer peaked façade, with its visor-like apertures and the
fantastic projections of beam-work above its gable-angle, might remind
the European traveler of certain old Gothic forms of dormer. There is
no artificial color. The plain wood[1] soon turns, under the action of
rain and sun, to a natural grey, varying according to surface exposure
from the silvery tone of birch bark to the sombre grey of basalt. So
shaped and so tinted, the isolated country _yashiro_ may seem less like
a work of joinery than a feature of the scenery,--a rural form related
to nature as closely as rocks and trees,--a something that came into
existence only as a manifestation of Ohotsuchi-no-Kami, the Earth-god,
the primeval divinity of the land.

Why certain architectural forms produce in the beholder a feeling of
weirdness is a question about which I should like to theorize some
day: at present I shall venture only to say that Shinto shrines evoke
such a feeling. It grows with familiarity instead of weakening; and a
knowledge of popular beliefs is apt to intensify it. We have no English
words by which these queer shapes can be sufficiently described,--much
less any language able to communicate the peculiar impression which
they make. Those Shinto terms which we loosely render by the words
"temple" and "shrine" are really untranslatable;--I mean that the
Japanese ideas attaching to them cannot be conveyed by translation. The
so-called "august house" of the Kami is not so much a temple, in the
classic meaning of the term, as it is a haunted room, a spirit-chamber,
a ghost-house; many of the lesser divinities being veritably
ghosts,--ghosts of great warriors and heroes and rulers and teachers,
who lived and loved and died hundreds or thousands of years ago. I
fancy that to the Western mind the word "ghost-house" will convey,
better than such terms as "shrine" and "temple," some vague notion of
the strange character of the Shinto _miya_ or _yashiro,_--containing
in its perpetual dusk nothing more substantial than symbols or tokens,
the latter probably of paper. Now the emptiness behind the visored
front is more suggestive than anything material could possibly be;
and when you remember that millions of people during thousands of
years have worshipped their great dead before such _yashiro,--_that
a whole race still believes those buildings tenanted by viewless
conscious personalities,--you are apt also to reflect how difficult
it would be to prove the faith absurd. Nay! in spite of Occidental
reluctances,--in spite of whatever you may think it expedient to say
or not to say at a later time about the experience,--you may very
likely find yourself for a moment forced into the attitude of respect
toward possibilities. Mere cold reasoning will not help you far in the
opposite direction. The evidence of the senses counts for little: you
know there are ever so many realities which can neither be seen nor
heard nor felt, but which exist as forces,--tremendous forces. Then
again you cannot mock the conviction of forty millions of people while
that conviction thrills all about you like the air,--while conscious
that it is pressing upon your psychical being just as the atmosphere
presses upon your physical being. As for myself, whenever I am alone in
the presence of a Shinto shrine, I have the sensation of being haunted;
and I cannot help thinking about the possible apperceptions of the
haunter. And this tempts me to fancy how I should feel if I myself were
a god,--dwelling in some old Izumo shrine on the summit of a hill,
guarded by stone lions and shadowed by a holy grove.

Elfishly small my habitation might be, but never too small, because I
should have neither size nor form. I should be only a vibration,--a
motion invisible as of ether or of magnetism; though able sometimes to
shape me a shadow-body, in the likeness of my former visible self, when
I should wish to make apparition.

As air to the bird, as water to the fish, so would all substance be
permeable to the essence of me. I should pass at will through the walls
of my dwelling to swim in the long gold bath of a sunbeam, to thrill in
the heart of a flower, to ride on the neck of a dragon-fly.

Power above life and power over death would be mine,--and the power of
self-extension, and the power of self-multiplication, and the power of
being in all places at one and the same moment. Simultaneously in a
hundred homes I should hear myself worshiped, I should inhale the vapor
of a hundred offerings: each evening, from my place within a hundred
household shrines, I should see the holy lights lighted for me in
lamplets of red clay, in lamplets of brass,--the lights of the Kami,
kindled with purest fire and fed with purest oil.

But in my yashiro upon the hill I should have greatest honor: there
betimes I should gather the multitude of my selves together; there
should I unify my powers to answer supplication.

From the dusk of my ghost-house I should look for the coming of
sandaled feet, and watch brown supple fingers weaving to my bars the
knotted papers which are records of vows, and observe the motion of the
lips of my worshipers making prayer:--

_--"Harai-tamai kiyomé-tamaé!_ ... We have beaten drums, we have
lighted fires; yet the land thirsts and the rice fails. Deign out of
thy divine pity to give us rain, O Daimyōjin!"

_--"Harai-tamai kiyomé-tamaé!_ ... I am dark, too dark, because I have
toiled in the field, because the sun hath looked upon me. Deign thou
augustly to make me white, very white,--white like the women of the
city, O Daimyōjin!"

_--"Harai-tamai kiyomê-tamaé!_... For Tsukamoto Motokichi our son, a
soldier of twenty-nine: that he may conquer and come back quickly to
us,--soon, very soon,--we humbly supplicate, O Daimyōjin!"

Sometimes a girl would whisper all her heart to me: "Maiden of eighteen
years, I am loved by a youth of twenty. He is good; he is true; but
poverty is with us, and the path of our love is dark. Aid us with thy
great divine pity!--help us that we may become united, O Daimyōjin!"
Then to the bars of my shrine she would hang a thick soft tress of
hair,--her own hair, glossy and black as the wing of the crow, and
bound with a cord of mulberry-paper. And in the fragrance of that
offering,--the simple fragrance of her peasant youth,--I, the ghost and
god, should find again the feelings of the years when I was man and

Mothers would bring their children to my threshold, and teach them
to revere me, saying, "Bow down before the great bright God; make
homage to the Daimyōjin." Then I should hear the fresh soft clapping
of little hands, and remember that I, the ghost and god, had been a

Daily I should hear the plash of pure cool water poured out for me, and
the tinkle of thrown coin, and the pattering of dry rice into my wooden
box, like a pattering of rain; and I should be refreshed by the spirit
of the water, and strengthened by the spirit of the rice.

Festivals would be held to honor me. Priests, black-coiffed and
linen-vestured, would bring me offerings of fruits and fish and
seaweed and rice-cakes and rice-wine,--masking their faces with
sheets of white paper, so as not to breathe upon my food. And the
_miko_ their daughters, fair girls in crimson _hakama_ and robes of
snowy white, would come to dance with tinkling of little bells, with
waving of silken fans, that I might be gladdened by the bloom of their
youth, that I might delight in the charm of their grace. And there
would be music of many thousand years ago,--weird music of drums and
flutes,--and songs in a tongue no longer spoken; while the miko, the
darlings of the gods, would poise and pose before me:--... "Whose
virgins are these,--the virgins who stand like flowers before the
Deity? They are the virgins of the august Deity.

"The august music, the dancing of the virgins,--the Deity will be
pleased to hear, the Deity will rejoice to see.

"Before the great bright God the virgins dance,--the virgins all like
flowers newly opened." ...


Votive gifts of many kinds I should be given: painted paper lanterns
bearing my sacred name, and towels of divers colors printed with the
number of the years of the giver, and pictures commemorating the
fulfillment of prayers for the healing of sickness, the saving of
ships, the quenching of fire, the birth of sons.

Also my Karashishi, my guardian lions, would be honored. I should see
my pilgrims tying sandals of straw to their necks and to their paws,
with prayer to the Karashishi-Sama for strength of foot.

I should see fine moss, like emerald fur, growing slowly, slowly, upon
the backs of those lions;--I should see the sprouting of lichens upon
their flanks and upon their shoulders, in specklings of dead-silver, in
patches of dead-gold;--I should watch, through years of generations,
the gradual sideward sinking of their pedestals under-mined by frost
and rain, until at last my lions would lose their balance, and fall,
and break their mossy heads off. After which the people would give me
new lions of another form,--lions of granite or of bronze, with gilded
teeth and gilded eyes, and tails like a torment of fire.

Between the trunks of the cedars and pines, between the jointed
columns of the bamboos, I should observe, season after season, the
changes of the colors of the valley: the falling of the snow of winter
and the falling of the snow of cherry-flowers; the lilac spread of
the _miyakobana;_ the blazing yellow of the _natané;_ the sky--blue
mirrored in flooded levels,--levels dotted with the moon-shaped hats of
the toiling people who would love me; and at last the pure and tender
green of the growing rice.

The muku-birds and the _uguisu_ would fill the shadows of my grove with
ripplings and purlings of melody;--the bell-insects, the crickets,
and the seven marvelous cicadas of summer would make all the wood of
my ghost-house thrill to their musical storms. Betimes I should enter,
like an ecstasy, into the tiny lives of them, to quicken the joy of
their clamor, to magnify the sonority of their song.


But I never can become a god,--for this is the nineteenth century;
and nobody can be really aware of the nature of the sensations of a
god--unless there be gods in the flesh. Are there? Perhaps--in very
remote districts--one or two. There used to be living gods.

Anciently any man who did something extraordinarily great or good or
wise or brave might be declared a god after his death, no matter how
humble his condition in life. Also good people who had suffered great
cruelty and injustice might be apotheosized; and there still survives
the popular inclination to pay posthumous honor and to make prayer
to the spirits of those who die voluntary deaths under particular
circumstances,--to souls of unhappy lovers, for example. (Probably the
old customs which made this tendency had their origin in the wish
to appease the vexed spirit, although to-day the experience of great
suffering seems to be thought of as qualifying its possessor for divine
conditions of being;--and there would be no foolishness whatever in
such a thought.) But there were even more remarkable deifications.
Certain persons, while still alive, were honored by having temples
built for their spirits, and were treated as gods; not, indeed, as
national gods, but as lesser divinities,--tutelar deities, perhaps, or
village-gods. There was, for instance, Hamaguchi Gohei, a farmer of the
district of Arita in the province of Kishu, who was made a god before
he died. And I think he deserved it.

[Footnote 1: Usually _hinoki_ (Chamœcyparis obtusa).]


Before telling the story of Hamaguchi Gohei, I must say a few words
about certain laws--or, more correctly speaking, customs having all
the force of laws--by which many village communities were ruled in
pre-Meiji times. These customs were based upon the social experience of
ages; and though they differed in minor details according to province
or district, their main signification was everywhere about the same.
Some were ethical, some industrial, some religious; and all matters
were regulated by them,--even individual behavior. They preserved
peace, and they compelled mutual help and mutual kindness. Sometimes
there might be serious fighting between different villages,--little
peasant wars about questions of water supply or boundaries; but
quarreling between men of the same community could not be tolerated in
an age of vendetta, and the whole village would resent any needless
disturbance of the internal peace. To some degree this state of things
still exists in the more old-fashioned provinces: the people know
how to live without quarreling, not to say fighting. Any-where, as a
general rule, Japanese fight only to kill; and when a sober man goes so
far as to strike a blow, he virtually rejects communal protection, and
takes his life into his own hands with every probability of losing it.

The private conduct of the other sex was regulated by some remarkable
obligations entirely outside of written codes. A peasant girl, before
marriage, enjoyed far more liberty than was permitted to city girls.
She might be known to have a lover; and unless her parents objected
very strongly, no blame would be given to her: it was regarded as an
holiest union,--honest, at least, as to intention. But having once made
a choice, the girl was held bound by that choice. If it were discovered
that she met another admirer secretly, the people would strip her
naked, allowing her only a _shuro-leaf_ for apron, and drive her in
mockery through every street and alley of the village. During this
public dis-grace of their daughter, the parents of the girl dared not
show their faces abroad; they were expected to share her shame, and
they had to remain in their house, with all the shutters fastened up.
Afterward the girl was sentenced to banishment for five years. But at
the end of that period she was considered to have expiated her fault,
and she could return home with the certainty of being spared further

The obligation of mutual help in time of calamity or danger was
the most imperative of all communal obligations. In case of fire,
especially, everybody was required to give immediate aid to the best
of his or her ability. Even children were not exempted from this duty.
In towns and cities, of course, things were differently ordered; but
in any little country village the universal duty was very plain and
simple, and its neglect would have been considered unpardonable.

A curious fact is that this obligation of mutual help extended to
religious matters: everybody was expected to invoke the help of the
gods for the sick or the unfortunate, whenever asked to do so. For
example, the village might be ordered to make a _sendo-mairi_[1] on
behalf of some one seriously ill. On such occasions the Kumi-chō (each
Kumi-chō was responsible for the conduct of five or more families) would
run from house to house crying, "Such and such a one is very sick:
kindly hasten all to make a sendo-mairi!" Thereupon, however occupied
at the moment, every soul in the settlement was expected to hurry to
the temple,--taking care not to trip or stumble on the way, as a single
misstep during the performance of a sendo-mairi was believed to mean
misfortune for the sick....

[Footnote 1: To perform a _sendo-mairi_ means to make one thousand
visits to a temple, and to repeat one thousand invocations to the
deity. But it is considered necessary only to go from the gate or
the torii of the temple-court to the place of prayer, and hack, one
thousand times, repeating the invocation each time; and the task may
be divided among any number of persons,--ten visits by one hundred
persons, for instance, being quite as efficacious as a thousand visits
by a single person.]


Now concerning Hamaguchi.

From immemorial time the shores of Japan have been swept, at irregular
intervals of centuries, by enormous tidal waves,--tidal waves caused by
earthquakes or by submarine volcanic action. These awful sudden risings
of the sea are called by the Japanese _tsunami._ The last one occurred
on the evening of June 17, 1896, when a wave nearly two hundred miles
long struck the northeastern provinces of Miyagi, Iwaté, and Aomori,
wrecking scores of towns and villages, ruining whole districts, and
destroying nearly thirty thousand human lives. The story of Hamaguchi
Gohei is the story of a like calamity which happened long before the
era of Meiji, on another part of the Japanese coast.

He was an old man at the time of the occurrence that made him famous.
He was the most influential resident of the village to which he
belonged: he had been for many years its _muraosa,_ or headman; and
he was not less liked than respected. The people usually called him
_Ojiisan,_ which means Grandfather; but, being the richest member of
the community, he was sometimes officially referred to as the Chōja. He
used to advise the smaller farmers about their interests, to arbitrate
their disputes, to advance them money at need, and to dispose of their
rice for them on the best terms possible.

Hamaguchi's big thatched farmhouse stood at the verge of a small
plateau overlooking a bay. The plateau, mostly devoted to rice culture,
was hemmed in on three sides by thickly wooded summits. From its outer
verge the land sloped down in a huge green concavity, as if scooped
out, to the edge of the water; and the whole of this slope, some three
quarters of a mile long, was so terraced as to look, when viewed from
the open sea, like an enormous flight of green steps, divided in the
centre by a narrow white zigzag,--a streak of mountain road. Ninety
thatched dwellings and a Shintō temple, composing the village proper,
stood along the curve of the bay; and other houses climbed straggling
up the slope for some distance on either side of the narrow road
leading to the Chōja's home.


One autumn evening Hamaguchi Gohei was looking down from the balcony of
his house at some preparations for a merry-making in the village below.
There had been a very fine rice-crop, and the peasants were going to
celebrate their harvest by a dance in the court of the _ujigami._[1]
The old man could see the festival banners (_nobori_) fluttering
above the roofs of the solitary street, the strings of paper lanterns
festooned between bamboo poles, the decorations of the shrine, and the
brightly colored gathering of the young people. He had nobody with him
that evening but his little grandson, a lad of ten; the rest of the
household having gone early to the village. He would have accompanied
them had he not been feeling less strong than usual.

The day had been oppressive; and in spite of a rising breeze there
was still in the air that sort of heavy heat which, according to the
experience of the Japanese peasant, at certain seasons precedes an
earthquake. And presently an earthquake came. It was not strong enough
to frighten anybody; but Hamaguchi, who had felt hundreds of shocks in
his time, thought it was queer,--a long, slow, spongy motion. Probably
it was but the after-tremor of some immense seismic action very far
away. The house crackled and rocked gently several times; then all
became still again.

As the quaking ceased Hamaguchi's keen old eyes were anxiously turned
toward the village. It often happens that the attention of a person
gazing fixedly at a particular spot or object is suddenly diverted by
the sense of something not knowingly seen at all,--by a mere vague
feeling of the unfamiliar in that dim outer circle of unconscious
perception which lies beyond the field of clear vision. Thus it chanced
that Hamaguchi became aware of something unusual in the offing. He rose
to his feet, and looked at the sea. It had darkened quite suddenly, and
it was acting strangely. It seemed to be moving against the wind. _It
was running away from the land._

Within a very little time the whole village had noticed the phenomenon.
Apparently no one had felt the previous motion of the ground, but
all were evidently astounded by the movement of the water. They were
running to the beach, and even beyond the beach, to watch it. No such
ebb had been witnessed on that coast within the memory of living man.
Things never seen before were making apparition; unfamiliar spaces
of ribbed sand and reaches of weed-hung rock were left bare even as
Hamaguchi gazed. And none of the people below appeared to guess what
that monstrous ebb signified.

Hamaguchi Gohei himself had never seen such a thing before; but he
remembered things told him in his childhood by his father's father, and
he knew all the traditions of the coast. He understood what the sea was
going to do. Perhaps he thought of the time needed to send a message to
the village, or to get the priests of the Buddhist temple on the hill
to, sound their big bell.... But it would take, very much longer to
tell what he might have thought than it took him to think. He simply
called to his grandson:--

"Tada!--quick,--very quick! ... Light me a torch."

_Taimatsu,_ or pine-torches, are kept in many coast dwellings for
use on stormy nights, and also for use at certain Shinto festivals.
The child kindled a torch at once; and the old man hurried with it
to the fields, where hundreds of rice-stacks, representing most of
his invested capital, stood awaiting transportation. Approaching
those nearest the verge of the slope, he began to apply the torch to
them,--hurrying from one to another as quickly as his aged limbs could
carry him. The sun-dried stalks caught like tinder; the strengthening
sea-breeze blew the blaze landward; and presently, rank behind rank,
the stacks burst into flame, sending skyward columns of smoke that
met and mingled into one enormous cloudy whirl. Tada, astonished and
terrified, ran after his grandfather, crying,--

"Ojiisan! why? Ojiisan! why?--why?"

But Hamaguchi did not answer: he had no time to explain; he was
thinking only of the four hundred lives in peril. For a while the
child stared wildly at the blazing rice; then burst into tears, and
ran back to the house, feeling sure that his grandfather had gone
mad. Hamaguchi went on firing stack after stack, till he had reached
the limit of his field; then he threw down his torch, and waited. The
acolyte of the hill-temple, observing the blaze, set the big bell
booming; and the people responded to the double appeal. Hamaguchi
watched them hurrying in from the sands and over the beach and up
from the village, like a swarming of ants, and, to his anxious eyes,
scarcely faster; for the moments seemed terribly long to him. The sun
was going down; the wrinkled bed of the bay, and a vast sallow speckled
expanse beyond it, lay naked to the last orange glow; and still the sea
was fleeing toward the horizon.

Really, however, Hamaguchi did not have very long to wait before the
first party of succor arrived,--a score of agile young peasants, who
wanted to attack the fire at once. But the Chōja, holding out both
arms, stopped them.

"Let it burn, lads!" he commanded, "let it be! I want the whole _mura_
here. There is a great danger,--_taihen da!_"

The whole village was coming; and Hamaguchi counted. All the young men
and boys were soon on the spot, and not a few of the more active women
and girls; then came most of the older folk, and mothers with babies
at their backs, and even children,--for children could help to pass
water; and the elders too feeble to keep up with the first rush could
be seen well on their way up the steep ascent. The growing multitude,
still knowing nothing, looked alternately, in sorrowful wonder, at the
flaming fields and at the impassive face of their Chōja. And the sun
went down.

"Grandfather is mad,--I am afraid of him!" sobbed Tada, in answer to a
number of questions. "He is mad. He set fire to the rice on purpose: I
saw him do it!"

"As for the rice," cried Hamaguchi, "the child tells the truth. I set
fire to the rice. ... Are all the people here?"

The Kumi-chō and the heads of families looked about them, and down the
hill, and made reply: "All are here, or very soon will be.... _We_
cannot understand this thing."

_"Kita!_" shouted the old man at the top of his voice, pointing to the
open. "Say now if I be mad!"

Through the twilight eastward all looked, and saw at the edge of the
dusky horizon a long, lean, dim line like the shadowing of a coast
where no coast ever was,--a line that thickened as they gazed, that
broadened as a coast-line broadens to the eyes of one approaching it,
yet incomparably more quickly. For that long darkness was the returning
sea, towering like a cliff, and coursing more swiftly than the kite

"_Tsunami!_" shrieked the people; and then all shrieks and all sounds
and all power to hear sounds were annihilated by a nameless shock
heavier than any thunder, as the colossal swell smote the shore with
a weight that sent a shudder through the hills, and with a foam-burst
like a blaze of sheet-lightning. Then for an instant nothing was
visible but a storm of spray rushing up the slope like a cloud; and the
people scattered back in panic from the mere menace of it. When they
looked again, they saw a white horror of sea raving over the place of
their homes. It drew back roaring, and tearing out the bowels of the
land as it went. Twice, thrice, five times the sea struck and ebbed,
but each time with lesser surges: then it returned to its ancient bed
and stayed,--still raging, as after a typhoon.

On the plateau for a time there was no word spoken. All stared
speechlessly at the desolation beneath,--the ghastliness of hurled
rock and naked riven cliff, the bewilderment of scooped-up deep-sea
wrack and shingle shot over the empty site of dwelling and temple. The
village was not; the greater part of the fields were not; even the
terraces had ceased to exist; and of all the homes that had been about
the bay there remained nothing recognizable except two straw roofs
tossing madly in the offing. The after-terror of the death escaped and
the stupefaction of the general loss kept all lips dumb, until the
voice of Hamaguchi was heard again, observing gently,--

_"That was why I set fire to the rice."_

He, their Chōja, now stood among them almost as poor as the poorest;
for his wealth was gone--but he had saved four hundred lives by the
sacrifice. Little Tada ran to him, and caught his hand, and asked
forgiveness for having said naughty things. Whereupon the people woke
up to the knowledge of why they were alive, and began to wonder at
the simple, unselfish foresight that had saved them; and the headmen
prostrated themselves in the dust before Hamaguchi Gohei, and the
people after them.

Then the old man wept a little, partly because he was happy, and partly
because he was aged and weak and had been sorely tried.

"My house remains," he said, as soon as he could find words,
automatically caressing Tada's brown cheeks; "and there is room for
many. Also the temple on the hill stands; and there is shelter there
for the others."

Then he led the way to his house; and the people cried and shouted.


The period of distress was long, because in those days there were no
means of quick communication between district and district, and the
help needed had to be sent from far away. But when better times came,
the people did not forget their debt to Hamaguchi Gohei. They could
not make him rich; nor would he have suffered them to do so, even
had it been possible. Moreover, gifts could never have sufficed as an
expression of their reverential feeling towards him; for they believed
that the ghost within him was divine. So they declared him a god, and
thereafter called him Hamaguchi DAIMYŌJIN, thinking they could give him
no greater honor;--and truly no greater honor in any country could be
given to mortal man. And when they rebuilt the village, they built a
temple to the spirit of him, and fixed above the front of it a tablet
bearing his name in Chinese text of gold; and they worshiped him there,
with prayer and with offerings. How he felt about it I cannot say;--I
know only that he continued to live in his old thatched home upon the
hill, with his children and his children's children, just as humanly
and simply as before, while his soul was being worshiped in the shrine
below. A hundred years and more he has been dead; but his temple, they
tell me, still stands, and the people still pray to the ghost of the
good old farmer to help them in time of fear or trouble.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

I asked a Japanese philosopher and friend to explain to me how the
peasants could rationally imagine the spirit of Hamaguchi in one place
while his living body was in another. Also I inquired whether it was
only one of his souls which they had worshiped during his life, and
whether they imagined that particular soul to have detached itself from
the rest to receive homage.

"The peasants," my friend answered, "think of the mind or spirit of a
person as something which, even during life, can be in many places at
the same instant.... Such an idea is, of course, quite different from
Western ideas about the soul."

"Any more rational?" I mischievously asked.

"Well," he responded, with a Buddhist smile, "if we accept the doctrine
of the unity of all mind, the idea of the Japanese peasant would appear
to contain at least some adumbration of truth. I could not say so much
for your Western notions about the soul."

[Footnote 1: Shinto parish temple.]




"These," said Manyemon, putting on the table a roll of wonderfully
written Japanese manuscript, "are Vulgar Songs. If they are to be
spoken of in some honorable book, perhaps it will be good to say that
they are Vulgar, so that Western people may not be deceived."


Next to my house there is a vacant lot, where washermen _(sentukaya)_
work in the ancient manner,--singing as they work, and whipping the wet
garments upon big flat stones. Every morning at daybreak their singing
wakens me; and I like to listen to it, though I cannot often catch the
words. It is full of long, queer, plaintive modulations. Yesterday,
the apprentice--a lad of fifteen--and the master of the washermen were
singing alternately, as if answering each other; the contrast between
the tones of the man, sonorous as if boomed through a conch, and the
clarion alto of the boy, being very pleasant to hear. Whereupon I
called Manyemon and asked him what the singing was about.

"The song of the boy," he said, "is an old song:--

    _Things never changed since the Time of the Gods:_
    _The flowing of water, the Way of Love._

I heard it often when I was myself a boy."

"And the other song?"

"The other song is probably new:--

        _Three years thought of her,_
        _Five years sought for her;_
    _Only for one night held her in my arms._

A very foolish song!"

"I don't know," I said. "There are famous Western romances containing
nothing wiser. And what is the rest of the song?"

"There is no more: that is the whole of the song. If it be honorably
desired, I can write down the songs of the washermen, and the songs
which are sung in this street by the smiths and the carpenters and the
bamboo-weavers and the rice-cleaners. But they are all nearly the same."

Thus came it to pass that Manyemon made for me a collection of Vulgar


By "vulgar" Manyemon meant written in the speech of the common
people. He is himself an adept at classical verse, and despises the
_hayari-uta,_ or ditties of the day; it requires something very
delicate to please him. And what pleases him I am not qualified to
write about; for one must be a very good Japanese scholar to meddle
with the superior varieties of Japanese poetry. If you care to know
how difficult the subject is, just study the chapter on prosody in
Aston's Grammar of the Japanese Written Language, or the introduction
to Professor Chamberlain's Classical Poetry of the Japanese. Her poetry
is the one original art which Japan has certainly not borrowed either
from China or from any other country; and its most refined charm is the
essence, irreproducible, of the very flower of the language itself:
hence the difficulty of representing, even partially, in any Western
tongue, its subtler delicacies of sentiment, allusion, and color. But
to understand the compositions of the people no scholarship is needed:
they are characterized by the greatest possible simplicity, directness,
and sincerity.

The real art of them, in short, is their absolute artlessness. That was
why I wanted them. Springing straight from the heart of the eternal
youth of the race, these little gushes of song, like the untaught
poetry of every people, utter what belongs to all human experience
rather than to the limited life of a class or a time; and even in their
melodies still resound the fresh and powerful pulsings of their primal


Manyemon had written down forty-seven songs; and with his help I
made free renderings of the best. They were very brief, varying from
seventeen to thirty-one syllables in length. Nearly all Japanese
poetical metre consists of simple alternations of lines of five and
seven syllables; the frequent exceptions which popular songs offer to
this rule being merely irregularities such as the singer can smooth
over either by slurring or by prolonging certain vowel sounds. Most of
the songs which Manyemon had collected were of twenty-six syllables
only; being composed of three successive lines of seven syllables each,
followed by one of five, thus:--

    Ka-mi-yo ko-no-ka-ta
    Ka-wa-ra-nu mo-no wa:
    Mi-dzu no na-ga-ré to
        Ko-i no mi-chi.[1]

Among various deviations from this construction I found 7-7-7-7-5, and
5-7-7-7-5, and 7-5-7-5, and 5-7-5; but the classical five-line form
(_tanka,_) represented by 5-7-5-7-7, was entirely absent.

Terms indicating gender were likewise absent; even the expressions
corresponding to "I" and "you" being seldom used, and the words
signifying "beloved" applying equally to either sex. Only by the
conventional value of some comparison, the use of a particular
emotional tone, or the mention of some detail of costume, was the sex
of the speaker suggested, as in this verse:--

    _I am the water-weed drifting,--finding no place of attachment:_
    _Where, I wonder, and when, shall my flower begin to bloom?_

Evidently the speaker is a girl who wishes for a lover: the same simile
uttered by masculine lips would sound in Japanese ears much as would
sound in English ears a man's comparison of himself to a violet or to
a rose. For the like reason, one knows that in the following song the
speaker is not a woman:--

    _Flowers in both my hands,--flowers of plum and cherry:_
    _Which will be, I wonder, the flower to give me fruit?_

Womanly charm is compared to the cherry flower and also to the plum
flower; but the quality symbolized by the plum flower is moral always
rather than physical.[2] The verse represents a man strongly attracted
by two girls: one, perhaps a dancer, very fair to look upon; the other
beautiful in character. Which shall he choose to be his companion for
life? One more example:--

    _Too long, with pen in hand, idling, fearing, and doubting,_
    _I cast my silver pin for the test of the tatamizan._

Here we know from the mention of the hairpin that the speaker is
a woman, and we can also suppose that she is a _geisha;_ the sort
of divination called _tatamizan_ being especially popular with
dancing-girls. The rush covering of floor-mats (_tatami,_) woven over
a frame of thin strings, shows on its upper surface a regular series
of lines about three fourths of an inch apart. The girl throws her
pin upon a mat, and then counts the lines it touches. According to
their number she deems herself lucky or unlucky. Sometimes a little
pipe--geishas' pipes are usually of silver--is used instead of the


The theme of all the songs was love, as indeed it is of the vast
majority of the Japanese _chansons des rues et des bois;_ even songs
about celebrated places usually containing some amatory suggestion.
I noticed that almost every simple phase of the emotion, from its
earliest budding to its uttermost ripening, was represented in the
collection; and I therefore tried to arrange the pieces according
to the natural passional sequence. The result had some dramatic

[Footnote 1: Literally, "_God-Age-since not-changed-things as-for:
water of flowing and love-of way._"]

[Footnote 2: See _Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan,_ ii. 357.]


The songs really form three distinct groups, each corresponding to a
particular period of that emotional experience which is the subject of
all. In the first group of seven the surprise and pain and weakness of
passion find utterance; beginning with a plaintive cry of reproach and
closing with a whisper of trust.


    _You, by all others disliked!--oh, why must my heart thus like you?_


    _This pain which I cannot speak of to any one in the world:_
    _Tell me who has made it,--whose do you think the fault?_


    _Will it be night forever?--I lose my way in this darkness:_
    _Who goes by the path of Love must always go astray!_


    _Even the brightest lamp, even the light electric,_
    _Cannot lighten at all the dusk of the Way of Love._


    _Always the more I love, the more it is hard to say so:_
    _Oh! how happy I were should the loved one say it first!_


    _Such a little word!--only to say, "I love you"!_
    _Why, oh, why do I find it hard to say like this?_[1]

[Footnote 1: Inimitably simple in the original:--

    Horeta wai na to
    Sukoshi no koto ga:
    Nazé ni kono yō ni


_Clicked-to[2] the locks of our hearts; let the keys remain in our

After which mutual confidence the illusion naturally deepens; suffering
yields to a joy that cannot disguise itself, and the keys of the heart
are thrown away: this is the second stage.

[Footnote 2: In the original this is expressed by an onomatope,
_pinto,_ imitating the sound of the fastening of the lock of a _tansu,_
or chest of drawers:--

Pinto kokoro ni
Jōmai oroshi:
Kagi wa tagai no
Muné ni aru.


    _The person who said before, "I hate my life since I saw you,"_
    _Now after union prays to live for a thousand years._


    _You and I together--lilies that grow in a valley:_
    _This is our blossoming-time--but nobody knows the fact._


    _Receiving from his hand the cup of the wine of greeting,_
    _Even before I drink, I feel that my face grows red._


    _I cannot hide in my heart the happy knowledge that fills it;_
    _Asking each not to tell, I spread the news all round._[5]

[Footnote 3: Much simpler in the original:--

Muné ni tsutsumenu
Uréshii koto wa;--
Kuchidomé shinagara


    _All crows alike are black, everywhere under heaven._
    _The person that others like, why should not I like too?_


    _Going to see the beloved, a thousand ri are as one ri;_[4]
    _Returning without having seen, one ri is a thousand ri._

[Footnote 4: One _ri_ is equal to about two and a half English miles.]


    _Going to see the beloved, even the water of rice-fields_[5]
    _Ever becomes, as I drink, nectar of gods[6] to the taste._

[Footnote 5: In the original _dorota;_ literally "mud rice-fields,"--
meaning rice-fields during the time of flushing, before the grain has
fairly grown up. The whole verse reads:--

Horeté kayoyeba
Dorota no midzu mo
Noméba kanro no
      Aji ga suru.

[Footnote 6: _Kanro,_ a Buddhist word, properly written with two
Chinese characters signifying "sweet dew." The real meaning is
_amrita,_ the drink of the gods.]


    _You, till a hundred years; I, until nine and ninety;_
    _Together we still shall be in the time when the hair turns white._


    _Seeing the face, at once the folly I wanted to utter_
    _All melts out of my thought, and somehow the tears come first!_[7]

[Footnote 7:

Iitai guchi sayé
Kao miriya kiyété
Tokakii namida ga
      Saki ni deru.

The use of _tokaku_ ("somehow," for "some reason or other") gives a
peculiar pathos to the utterance.]


    _Crying for joy made wet my sleeve that dries too quickly;_
    _'T is not the same with the heart,--that cannot dry so soon!_


    _To Heaven with all my soul I prayed to prevent your going;_
    _Already, to keep you with me, answers the blessed rain._

So passes the period of illusion. The rest is doubt and pain; only the
love remains to challenge even death:--


    _Parted from you, my beloved, I go alone to the pine-field;_
    _There is dew of night on the leaves; there is also dew of tears._


    _Even to see the birds flying freely above me_
    _Only deepens my sorrow,--makes me thoughtful the more._


    _Coming? or coming not? Far down the river gazing,_
    _--Only yomogi shadows[8] astir in the bed of the stream._

[Footnote 8: The plant _yomogi_ (_Artemisia vulgaris_) grows wild in
many of the half-dry beds of the Japanese rivers.]


    _Letters come by the post; photographs give me the shadow!_
    _Only one thing remains which I cannot hope to gain._


    _If I may not see the face, but only look at the letter,_
    _Then it were better far only in dreams to see._


    _Though his body were broken to pieces, though his bones on the
    shore were bleaching,_
    _I would find my way to rejoin him, after gathering up the bones._[9]

[Footnote 9:

Mi wa kuda kuda ni
Honé we isobé ni
Sarasoto mama yo
Hiroi atsumété
      Sôté misho.

The only song of this form in the collection. The use of the verb _soi_
implies union as husband and wife.]


Thus was it that these little songs, composed in different generations
and in different parts of Japan by various persons, seemed to shape
themselves for me into the ghost of a romance,--into the shadow of a
story needing no name of time or place or person, because eternally the
same, in all times and places.


Manyemon asks which of the songs I like best; and I turn over his
manuscript again to see if I can make a choice. Without, in the bright
spring air, the washers are working; and I hear the heavy _pon-pon_
of the beating of wet robes, regular as the beating of a heart.
Suddenly, as I muse, the voice of the boy soars up in one long, clear,
shrill, splendid rocket-tone,--and breaks,--and softly trembles down
in coruscations of fractional notes; singing the song that Manyemon
remembers hearing when he himself was a boy:--

    _Things never changed since the Time of the Gods:_
    _The flowing of water, the Way of Love._

"I think that is the best," I said. "It is the soul of all the rest."

"Hin no nusubito, koi no uta," interpretatively murmurs Manyemon. "Even
as out of poverty comes the thief, so out of love the song!"




It had been intended to celebrate in spring the eleven hundredth
anniversary of the foundation of Kyōto; but the outbreak of pestilence
caused postponement of the festival to the autumn, and the celebration
began on the 15th of the tenth month. Little festival medals of nickel,
made to be pinned to the breast, like military decorations, were for
sale at half a yen each. These medals entitled the wearers to special
cheap fares on all the Japanese railroad and steamship lines, and
to other desirable privileges, such as free entrance to wonderful
palaces, gardens, and temples. On the 23d of October I found myself in
possession of a medal, and journeying to Kyoto by the first morning
train, which was over-crowded with people eager to witness the great
historical processions announced for the 24th and 25th. Many had to
travel standing, but the crowd was good-natured and merry. A number
of my fellow-passengers were Osaka geisha going to the festival. They
diverted themselves by singing songs and by playing ken with some
male acquaintances, and their kittenish pranks and funny cries kept
everybody amused. One had an extraordinary voice, with which she could
twitter like a sparrow.

You can always tell by the voices of women conversing anywhere--in
a hotel, for example--if there happen to be any geisha among them,
because the peculiar timbre given by professional training is
immediately recognizable. The wonderful character of that training,
however, is fairly manifested only when the really professional tones
of the voice are used,--falsetto tones, never touching, but often
curiously sweet. Now, the street singers, the poor blind women who sing
ballads with the natural voice only, use tones that draw tears. The
voice is generally a powerful contralto; _and the deep tones are the
tones that touch._ The falsetto tones of the geisha rise into a treble
above the natural range of the adult voice, and as penetrating as a
bird's. In a banquet-hall full of guests, you can distinctly hear,
above all the sound of drums and samisen and chatter and laughter, the
thin, sweet cry of the geisha playing ken,--

    _"Futatsŭ! futatsŭ! futatsŭ!"_--

while you may be quite unable to hear the shouted response of the man
she plays with,--

    _"Mitsŭ! mitsŭ! mitsŭ!"_


The first surprise with which Kyoto greeted her visitors was the
beauty of her festival decorations. Every street had been prepared for
illumination. Before each house had been planted a new lantern-post of
unpainted wood, from which a lantern bearing some appropriate design
was suspended. There were also national flags and sprigs of pine above
each entrance. But the lanterns made the charm of the display. In each
section of street they were of the same form, and were fixed at exactly
the same height, and were protected from possible bad weather by the
same kind of covering. But in different streets the lanterns were
different. In some of the wide thoroughfares they were very large; and
while in some streets each was sheltered by a little wooden awning, in
others every lantern had a Japanese paper umbrella spread and fastened
above it.

There was no pageant on the morning of my arrival, and I spent a couple
of hours delightfully at the festival exhibition of kakemono in the
imperial summer palace called

Omuro Gosho. Unlike the professional art display which I had seen in
the spring, this represented chiefly the work of students; and

I found it incomparably more original and attractive. Nearly all the
pictures, thousands in number, were for sale, at prices ranging from
three to fifty yen; and it was impossible not to buy to the limit of
one's purse. There were studies of nature evidently made on the spot:
such as a glimpse of hazy autumn rice-fields, with dragonflies darting
over the drooping grain; maples crimsoning above a tremendous gorge;
ranges of peaks steeped in morning mist; and a peasant's cottage
perched on the verge of some dizzy mountain road. Also there were fine
bits of realism, such as a cat seizing a mouse in the act of stealing
the offerings placed in a Buddhist household shrine.

But I have no intention to try the reader's patience with a description
of pictures. I mention my visit to the display only because of
something I saw there more interesting than any picture. Near the
main entrance was a specimen of handwriting, intended to be mounted
as a kakemono later on, and temporarily fixed upon a board about
three feet long by eighteen inches wide,--a Japanese poem. It was a
wonder of calligraphy. Instead of the usual red stamp or seal with
which the Japanese calligrapher marks his masterpieces, I saw the red
imprint of a tiny, tiny hand,--a _living_ hand, which had been smeared
with crimson printing-ink and deftly pressed upon the paper. I could
distinguish those little finger-marks of which Mr. Galton has taught us
the characteristic importance.

That writing had been done in the presence of His Imperial Majesty by
a child of six years,--or of five, according to our Western method of
computing age from the date of birth. The prime minister, Marquis Ito,
saw the miracle, and adopted the little boy, whose present name is
therefore Ito Medzui.

Even Japanese observers could scarcely believe the testimony of their
own eyes. Few adult calligraphers could surpass that writing. Certainly
no Occidental artist, even after years of study, could repeat the feat
performed by the brush of that child before the Emperor. Of course
such a child can be born but once in a thousand years,--to realize,
or almost realize, the ancient Chinese legends of divinely inspired

Still, it was not the beauty of the thing in itself which impressed
me, but the weird, extraordinary, indubitable proof it afforded of an
inherited memory so vivid as to be almost equal to the recollection
of former births. Generations of dead calligraphers revived in
the fingers of that tiny hand. The thing was never the work of an
individual child five years old, but beyond all question the work of
ghosts,--the countless ghosts that make the compound ancestral soul.
It was proof visible and tangible of psychological and physiological
wonders justifying both the Shinto doctrine of ancestor worship and
the Buddhist doctrine of preëxistence.


After looking at all the pictures I visited the great palace garden,
only recently opened to the public. It is called the Garden of the
Cavern of the Genii. (At least "genii" is about the only word one can
use to translate the term "Sennin," for which there is no real English
equivalent; the Sennin, who are supposed to possess immortal life,
and to haunt forests or caverns, being Japanese, or rather Chinese
mythological transformations of the Indian Rishi.) The garden deserves
its name. I felt as if I had indeed entered an enchanted place.

It is a landscape-garden,--a Buddhist creation, belonging to what is
now simply a palace, but was once a monastery, built as a religious
retreat for emperors and princes weary of earthly vanities. The first
impression received after passing the gate is that of a grand old
English park: the colossal trees, the shorn grass, the broad walks,
the fresh sweet scent of verdure, all awaken English memories. But as
you proceed farther these memories are slowly effaced, and the true
Oriental impression defines: you perceive that the forms of those
mighty trees are not European; various and surprising exotic details
reveal themselves; and then you are gazing down upon a sheet of water
containing high rocks and islets connected by bridges of the strangest
shapes. Gradually,--only gradually,--the immense charm, the weird
Buddhist charm of the place, grows and grows upon you; and the sense of
its vast antiquity defines to touch that chord of the aesthetic feeling
which brings the vibration of awe.

Considered as a human work alone, the garden is a marvel: only the
skilled labor of thousands could have joined together the mere bones
of it, the prodigious rocky skeleton of its plan. This once shaped
and earthed and planted, Nature was left alone to finish the wonder.
Working through ten centuries, she has surpassed--nay, unspeakably
magnified--the dream of the artist. Without exact information,
no stranger unfamiliar with the laws and the purpose of Japanese
garden-construction could imagine that all this had a human designer
some thousand years ago: the effect is that of a section of primeval
forest, preserved untouched from the beginning, and walled away from
the rest of the world in the heart of the old capital. The rock-faces,
the great fantastic roots, the shadowed by-paths, the few ancient
graven monoliths, are all cushioned with the moss of ages; and climbing
things have developed stems a foot thick, that hang across spaces like
monstrous serpents. Parts of the garden vividly recall some aspects
of tropical nature in the Antilles;--though one misses the palms, the
bewildering web and woof of lianas, the reptiles, and the sinister
day-silence of a West Indian forest. The joyous storm of bird life
overhead is an astonishment, and proclaims gratefully to the visitor
that the wild creatures of this monastic paradise have never been
harmed or frightened by man. As I arrived at last, with regret, at the
gate of exit, I could not help feeling envious of its keeper: only to
be a servant in such a garden were a privilege well worth praying for.


Feeling hungry, I told my runner to take me to a restaurant, because
the hotel was very far; and the kuruma bore me into an obscure street,
and halted before a rickety-looking house with some misspelled English
painted above the entrance. I remember only the word "forign." After
taking off my shoes I climbed three flights of breakneck stairs, or
rather ladders, to find in the third story a set of rooms furnished
in foreign style. The windows were glass; the linen was satisfactory;
the only things Japanese were the mattings and a welcome smoking-box.
American chromo-lithographs decorated the walls. Nevertheless, I
suspected that few foreigners had ever been in the house: it existed by
sending out Western cooking, in little tin boxes, to native hotels; and
the rooms had doubtless been fitted up for Japanese visitors.

I noticed that the plates, cups, and other utensils bore the monogram
of a long-defunct English hotel which used to exist in one of the open
ports. The dinner was served by nice-looking girls, who had certainly
been trained by somebody accustomed to foreign service; but their
innocent curiosity and extreme shyness convinced me that they had never
waited upon a real foreigner before. Suddenly I observed on a table at
the other end of the room something resembling a music-box, and covered
with a piece of crochet-work! I went to it, and discovered the wreck
of a herophone. There were plenty of perforated musical selections. I
fixed the crank in place, and tried to extort the music of a German
song, entitled "Five Hundred Thousand Devils." The herophone gurgled,
moaned, roared for a moment, sobbed, roared again, and relapsed
into silence. I tried a number of other selections, including "Les
Cloches de Corneville;" but the noises produced were in all cases
about the same. Evidently the thing had been bought, together with
the monogram-bearing delft and britannia ware, at some auction sale
in one of the foreign settlements. There was a queer melancholy in
the experience, difficult to express. One must have lived in Japan to
understand why the thing appeared so exiled, so pathetically out of
place, so utterly misunderstood. Our harmonized Western music means
simply so much noise to the average Japanese ear; and I felt quite sure
that the internal condition of the herophone remained unknown to its
Oriental proprietor.


An equally singular but more pleasant experience awaited me on the
road back to the hotel. I halted at a second-hand furniture shop to
look at some curiosities, and perceived, among a lot of old books,
a big volume bearing in letters of much-tarnished gold the title,
ATLANTIC MONTHLY. Looking closer, I saw "Vol. V. Boston: Ticknor &
Fields. 1860." Volumes of The Atlantic of 1860 are not common anywhere.
I asked the price; and the Japanese shopkeeper said fifty sen,
because it was "a very large book." I was much too pleased to think
of bargaining with him, and secured the prize. I looked through its
stained pages for old friends, and found them,--all anonymous in 1865,
many world-famous in 1895. There were installments of "Elsie Venner,"
under the title of "The Professor's Story;" chapters of "Roba di Roma;"
a poem called "Pythagoras," but since renamed "Metempsychosis," as
lovers of Thomas Bailey Aldrich are doubtless aware; the personal
narrative of a filibuster with Walker in Nicaragua; admirable papers
upon the Maroons of Jamaica and the Maroons of Surinam; and, among
other precious things, an essay on Japan, opening with the significant
sentence, "The arrival in this country of an embassy from Japan, the
first political delegation ever vouchsafed to a foreign nation by that
reticent and jealous people, is now a topic of universal interest." A
little farther on, some popular misapprehensions of the period were
thus corrected: "Although now known to be entirely distinct, the
Chinese and Japanese ... were for a long time looked upon as kindred
races, and esteemed alike.... We find that while, on close examination,
the imagined attractions of China disappear, those of Japan become
more definite." Any Japanese of this self-assertive twenty-eighth
year of Meiji could scarcely find fault with The Atlantic's estimate
of his country thirty-five years ago: "Its commanding position, its
wealth, its commercial resources, and the quick intelligence of its
people,--not at all inferior to that of the people of the West,
although naturally restricted in its development,--give to Japan ... an
importance far above that of any other Eastern country." The only error
of this generous estimate was an error centuries old,--the delusion of
Japan's wealth. What made me feel a little ancient was to recognize
in the quaint spellings Ziogoon, Tycoon, Sintoo, Kiusiu, Fide-yosi,
Nobanunga,--spellings of the old Dutch and old Jesuit writers,--the
modern and familiar Shōgun, Taikun, Shintō, Kyūshū, Hideyoshi, and


I passed the evening wandering through the illuminated streets, and
visited some of the numberless shows. I saw a young man writing
Buddhist texts and drawing horses with his feet; the extraordinary fact
about the work being that the texts were written backwards,--from the
bottom of the column up, just as an ordinary calligrapher would write
them from the top of the column down,--and the pictures of horses were
always commenced with the tail. I saw a kind of amphitheatre, with
an aquarium in lieu of arena, where mermaids swam and sang Japanese
songs. I saw maidens "made by glamour out of flowers" by a Japanese
cultivator of Chrysanthemums. And between whiles I peeped into the
toy-shops, full of novelties, What there especially struck me was the
display of that astounding ingenuity by which Japanese inventors are
able to reach, at a cost too small to name, precisely the same results
as those exhibited in our expensive mechanical toys. A group of cocks
and hens made of paper were set to pecking imaginary grain out of a
basket by the pressure of a bamboo spring,--the whole thing costing
half a cent. An artificial mouse ran about, doubling and scurrying, as
if trying to slip under mats or into chinks: it cost only one cent,
and was made with a bit of colored paper, a spool of baked clay, and a
long thread; you had only to pull the thread, and the mouse began to
run. Butterflies of paper, moved by an equally simple device, began to
fly when thrown into the air. An artificial cuttlefish began to wriggle
all its tentacles when you blew into a little rush tube fixed under its

When I decided to return, the lanterns were out, the shops were
closing; and the streets darkened about me long before I reached the
hotel. After the great glow of the illumination, the witchcrafts of the
shows, the merry tumult, the sea-like sound of wooden sandals, this
sudden coming of blankness and silence made me feel as if the previous
experience had been unreal,--an illusion of light and color and noise
made just to deceive, as in stories of goblin foxes. But the quick
vanishing of all that composes a Japanese festival-night really lends a
keener edge to the pleasure of remembrance: there is no slow fading out
of the phantasmagoria, and its memory is thus kept free from the least
tinge of melancholy.


While I was thinking about the fugitive charm of Japanese amusements,
the question put itself, Are not all pleasures keen in proportion
to their evanescence? Proof of the affirmative would lend strong
support to the Buddhist theory of the nature of pleasure. We know that
mental enjoyments are powerful in proportion to the complexity of
the feelings and ideas composing them; and the most complex feelings
would therefore seem to be of necessity the briefest. At all events,
Japanese popular pleasures have the double peculiarity of being
evanescent and complex, not merely because of their delicacy and their
multiplicity of detail, but because this delicacy and multiplicity are
adventitious, depending upon temporary conditions and combinations.
Among such conditions are the seasons of flowering and of fading, hours
of sunshine or full moon, a change of place, a shifting of light and
shade. Among combinations are the fugitive holiday manifestations of
the race genius: fragilities utilized to create illusion; dreams made
visible; memories revived in symbols, images, ideographs, dashes of
color, fragments of melody; countless minute appeals both to individual
experience and to national sentiment. And the emotional result remains
incommunicable to Western minds, because the myriad little details and
suggestions producing it belong to a world incomprehensible without
years of familiarity,--a world of traditions, beliefs, superstitions,
feelings, ideas, about which foreigners, as a general rule, know
nothing. Even by the few who do know that world, the nameless delicious
sensation, the great vague wave of pleasure excited by the spectacle of
Japanese enjoyment, can only be described as _the feeling of Japan._


A sociological fact of interest is suggested by the amazing cheapness
of these pleasures. The charm of Japanese life presents us with the
extraordinary phenomenon of poverty as an influence in the development
of aesthetic sentiment, or at least as a factor in deciding the
direction and expansion of that development. But for poverty, the race
could not have discovered, ages ago, the secret of making pleasure the
commonest instead of the costliest of experiences,--the divine art of
creating the beautiful out of nothing!

One explanation of this cheapness is the capacity of the people to find
in everything natural--in landscapes, mists, clouds, sunsets,--in the
sight of birds, insects, and flowers--a much keener pleasure than we,
as the vividness of their artistic presentations of visual experience
bears witness. Another explanation is that the national religions and
the old-fashioned education have so developed imaginative power that
it can be stirred into an activity of delight by anything, however
trifling, able to suggest the traditions or the legends of the past.

Perhaps Japanese cheap pleasures might be broadly divided into those
of time and place furnished by nature with the help of man, and those
of time and place invented by man at the suggestion of nature. The
former class can be found in every province, and yearly multiply. Some
locality is chosen on hill or coast, by lake or river: gardens are
made, trees planted, resting-houses built to command the finest points
of view; and the wild site is presently transformed into a place of
pilgrimage for pleasure-seekers. One spot is famed for cherry-trees,
another for maples, another for wistaria; and each of the seasons--even
snowy winter--helps to make the particular beauty of some resort. The
sites of the most celebrated temples, or at least of the greater number
of them, were thus selected,--always where the beauty of nature could
inspire and aid the work of the religious architect, and where it
still has power to make many a one wish that he could become a Buddhist
or Shinto priest. Religion, indeed, is everywhere in Japan associated
with famous scenery: with landscapes, cascades, peaks, rocks, islands;
with the best places from which to view the blossoming of flowers, the
reflection of the autumn moon on water, or the sparkling of fireflies
on summer nights.

Decorations, illuminations, street displays of every sort, but
especially those of holy days, compose a large part of the pleasures
of city life which all can share. The appeals thus made to aesthetic
fancy at festivals represent the labor, perhaps, of tens of thousands
of hands and brains; but each individual contributor to the public
effort works according to his particular thought and taste, even while
obeying old rides, so that the total ultimate result is a wondrous, a
bewildering, an incalculable variety. Anybody can contribute to such
an occasion; and everybody does, for the cheapest material is used.
Paper, straw, or stone makes no real difference; the art sense is
superbly independent of the material. What shapes that material is
perfect comprehension of something natural, something real. Whether a
blossom made of chicken feathers, a clay turtle or duck or sparrow, a
pasteboard cricket or man-tis or frog, the idea is fully conceived and
exactly realized. Spiders of mud seem to be spinning webs; butterflies
of paper delude the eye. No models are needed to work from;--or rather,
the model in every case is only the precise memory of the object or
living fact. I asked at a doll-maker's for twenty tiny paper dolls,
each with a different coiffure,--the whole set to represent the
principal Kyoto styles of dressing women's hair. A girl went to work
with white paper, paint, paste, thin slips of pine; and the dolls
were finished in about the same time that an artist would have taken
to draw a similar number of such figures. The actual time needed was
only enough for the necessary digital movements,--not for correcting,
comparing, improving: the image in the brain realized itself as fast
as the slender hands could Work. Thus most of the wonders of festival
nights are created: toys thrown into existence with a twist of the
fingers, old rags turned into figured draperies with a few motions
of the brush, pictures made with sand. The same power of enchantment
puts human grace under contribution. Children who on other occasions
would attract no attention are converted into fairies by a few deft
touches of paint and powder, and costumes devised for artificial light.
Artistic sense of line and color suffices for any transformation. The
tones of decoration are never of chance, but of knowledge: even the
lantern illuminations prove this fact, certain tints only being used
in combination. But the whole exhibition is as evanescent as it is
wonderful. It vanishes much too quickly to be found fault with. It is a
mirage that leaves you marveling and dreaming for a month after having
seen it.


Perhaps one inexhaustible source of the contentment, the simple
happiness, belonging to Japanese common life is to be found in this
universal cheapness of pleasure. The delight of the eyes is for
everybody. Not the seasons only nor the festivals furnish enjoyment:
almost any quaint street, any truly Japanese interior, can give real
pleasure to the poorest servant who works without wages. The beautiful,
or the suggestion of the beautiful, is free as air. Besides, no man
or woman can be too poor to own something pretty; no child need be
without delightful toys. Conditions in the Occident are otherwise. In
our great cities, beauty is for the rich; bare walls and foul pavements
and smoky skies for our poor, and the tumult of hideous machinery,--a
hell of eternal ugliness and joylessness invented by our civilization
to punish the atrocious crime of being unfortunate, or weak, or stupid,
or overconfident in the morality of one's fellow-man.


When I went out, next morning, to view the great procession, the
streets were packed so full of people that it seemed impossible for
anybody to go anywhere. Nevertheless, all were moving, or rather
circulating; there was a universal gliding and slipping, as of fish in
a shoal. I find no difficulty in getting through the apparently solid
press of heads and shoulders to the house of a friendly merchant,
about half a mile away. How any crowd could be packed so closely, and
yet move so freely, is a riddle to which Japanese character alone can
furnish the key. I was not once rudely jostled. But Japanese crowds are
not all alike: there are some through which an attempt to pass would be
attended with unpleasant consequences. Of course the yielding fluidity
of any concourse is in proportion to its gentleness; but the amount
of that gentleness in Japan varies greatly according to locality. In
the central and eastern provinces the kindliness of a crowd seems
to be proportionate to its inexperience of "the new civilization."
This vast gathering, of probably not less than a million persons, was
astonishingly good-natured and good-humored, because the majority of
those composing it were simple country folk. When the police finally
made a lane for the procession, the multitude at once arranged itself
in the least egotistical manner possible,--little children to the
front, adults to the rear.

Though announced for nine o'clock, the procession did not appear
till nearly eleven; and the long waiting in those densely packed
streets must have been a strain even upon Buddhist patience. I was
kindly given a kneeling-cushion in the front room of the merchant's
house; but although the cushion was of the softest and the courtesy
shown me of the sweetest, I became weary of the immobile posture at
last, and went out into the crowd, where I could vary the experience
of waiting by standing first oh one foot, and then on the other.
Before thus deserting my post, however, I had the privilege of seeing
some very charming Kyōto ladies, including a princess, among the
merchant's guests. Kyōto is famous for the beauty of its women; and
the most charming Japanese woman I ever saw was in that house,--not
the princess, but the shy young bride of the merchant's eldest son.
That the proverb about beauty being only skin-deep "is but a skin-deep
saying" Herbert Spencer has amply proved by the laws of physiology; and
the same laws show that grace has a much more profound significance
than beauty. The charm of the bride was just that rare form of grace
which represents the economy of force in the whole framework of the
physical structure,--- the grace that startles when first seen, and
appears more and more wonderful every time it is again looked at. It
is very seldom indeed that one sees in Japan a pretty woman who would
look equally pretty in another than her own beautiful national attire.
What we usually call grace in Japanese women is daintiness of form
and manner rather than what a Greek would have termed grace. In this
instance, one felt assured that long, light, slender, fine, faultlessly
knit figure would ennoble any costume: there was just that suggestion
of pliant elegance which the sight of a young bamboo gives when the
wind is blowing.


To describe the procession in detail would needlessly tire the reader;
and I shall venture only a few general remarks. The purpose of the
pageant was to represent the various official and military styles of
dress worn during the great periods of the history of Kyōto, from
the time of its foundation in the eighth century to the present era
of Meiji, and also the chief military personages of that history. At
least two thousand persons marched in the procession, figuring daimyō,
kugé, hatamoto, samurai, retainers, carriers, musicians, and dancers.
The dancers were impersonated by geisha; and some were attired so as
to look like butterflies with big gaudy wings. All the armor and the
weapons, the ancient head-dresses and robes, were veritable relics
of the past, lent for the occasion by old families, by professional
curio-dealers, and by private collectors. The great captains--Oda
Nobunaga, Kato Kiyomasa, Iyeyasu, Hideyoshi--were represented
according to tradition; a really monkey-faced man having been found to
play the part of the famous Taikō.

While these visions of dead centuries were passing by, the people
kept perfectly silent,--which fact, strange as the statement may
seem to Western readers, indicated extreme pleasure. It is not really
in accordance with national sentiment to express applause by noisy
demonstration,--by shouting and clapping of hands, for example. Even
the military cheer is an importation; and the tendency to boisterous
demonstrativeness in Tōkyō is probably as factitious as it is modern.
I remember two impressive silences in Kobé during 1895. The first
was on the occasion of an imperial visit. There was a vast crowd; the
foremost ranks knelt down as the Emperor passed; but there was not
even a whisper. The second remarkable silence was on the return of the
victorious troops from China, who marched under the triumphal arches
erected to welcome them without hearing a syllable from the people. I
asked why, and was answered, "We Japanese think we can better express
our feelings by silence." I may here observe, also, that the sinister
silence of the Japanese armies before some of the late engagements
terrified the clamorous Chinese much more than the first opening of
the batteries. Despite exceptions, it may be stated as a general truth
that the deeper the emotion, whether of pleasure or of pain, and the
more solemn or heroic the occasion, in Japan, the more naturally silent
those who feel or act.

Some foreign spectators criticised the display as spiritless,
and commented on the unheroic port of the great captains and the
undisguised fatigue of their followers, oppressed under a scorching
sun by the unaccustomed weight of armor. But to the Japanese all this
only made the pageant seem more real; and I fully agreed with them. As
a matter of fact, the greatest heroes of military history have appeared
at their best in exceptional moments only; the stoutest veterans have
known fatigue; and undoubtedly Nobunaga and Hideyoshi and Kato Kiyomasa
must have more than once looked just as dusty, and ridden or marched
just as wearily, as their representatives in the Kyoto procession. No
merely theatrical idealism clouds, for any educated Japanese, the sense
of the humanity of his country's greatest men: on the contrary, it is
the historical evidence of that ordinary humanity that most endears
them to the common heart, and makes by contrast more admirable and
exemplary all of the inner life which was not ordinary.


After the procession I went to the Dai-Kioku-Den, the magnificent
memorial Shintō temple built by the government, and described in a
former book. On displaying my medal I was allowed to pay reverence to
the spirit of good Kwammu-Tennō, and to drink a little rice wine in his
honor, out of a new wine-cup of pure white clay presented by a lovely
child-miko. After the libation, the little priestess packed the white
cup into a neat wooden box and bade me take it home for a souvenir; one
new cup being presented to every purchaser of a medal.

Such small gifts and memories make up much of the unique pleasure of
Japanese travel. In almost any town or village you, can buy for a
souvenir some pretty or curious thing made only in that one place,
and not to be found elsewhere. Again, in many parts of the interior a
trifling generosity is certain to be acknowledged by a present, which,
however cheap, will seldom fail to prove a surprise and a pleasure. Of
all the things which I picked up here and there, in traveling about the
country, the prettiest and the most beloved are queer little presents
thus obtained.


I wanted, before leaving Kyōto, to visit the tomb of Yuko Hatakeyama.
After having vainly inquired of several persons where she was buried,
it occurred to me to ask a Buddhist priest who had come to the hotel
on some parochial business. He answered at once, "In the cemetery
of Makkeiji." Makkeiji was a temple not mentioned in guide-books,
and situated somewhere at the outskirts of the city. I took a kuruma
forthwith, and found myself at the temple gate after about half an
hour's run.

A priest, to whom I announced the purpose of my visit, conducted me to
the cemetery,--a very large one,--and pointed out the grave. The sun
of a cloudless autumn day flooded everything with light, and tinged
with spectral gold the face of a monument on which I saw, in beautiful
large characters very deeply cut, the girl's name, with the Buddhist
prefix _Retsujo,_ signifying chaste and true,--


The grave was well kept, and the grass had been recently trimmed.
A little wooden awning: erected in front of the stone sheltered
the offerings of flowers and sprays of shikimi, and a cup of fresh
water. I did sincere reverence to the heroic and unselfish spirit,
and pronounced the customary formula. Some other visitors, I noticed,
saluted the spirit after the Shintō manner. The tombstones were so
thickly crowded about the spot that, in order to see the back of the
monument, I found I should have to commit the rudeness of stepping
on the grave. But I felt sure she would forgive me; so, treading
reverently, I passed round, and copied the inscription: "_Yuko, of
Nagasagori, Kamagawamachi ... from day of birth always good....
Meiji, the twenty-fourth year, the fifth month, the twentieth day ...
cause of sorrow the country having ... the Kyōto government-house to
went ... and her own throat cut ... twenty and seven years ... Tani
Tetsuomi made ... Kyōto-folk-by erected this stone_ is." The Buddhist
Kaimyō read, "_Gi-yu-in-ton-shi-chu-myō-kyō_"--apparently signifying,
"Right-meaning and valiant woman, instantly attaining to the admirable
doctrine of loyalty."


In the temple, the priest showed me the relics and mementos of the
tragedy: a small Japanese razor, blood-crusted, with the once white
soft paper thickly wrapped round its handle caked into one hard red
mass; the cheap purse; the girdle and clothing, blood-stiffened
(all except the kimono, washed by order of the police before having
been given to the temple); letters and memoranda; photographs, which
I secured, of Yuko and her tomb; also a photograph of the gathering
in the cemetery, where the funeral rites were performed by Shintō
priests. This fact interested me; for, although condoned by Buddhism,
the suicide could not have been regarded in the same light by the two
faiths. The clothing was coarse and cheap: the girl had pawned her best
effects to cover the expenses of her journey and her burial. I bought
a little book containing the story of her life and death, copies of
her last letters, poems written about her by various persons,--some
of very high rank,--and a clumsy portrait. In the photographs of Yuko
and her relatives there was nothing remarkable: such types you can
meet with every day and anywhere in Japan. The interest of the book
was psychological only, as regarded both the author and the subject.
The printed letters of Yuko revealed that strange state of Japanese
exaltation in which the mind remains capable of giving all possible
attention to the most trivial matters of fact, while the terrible
purpose never slackens. The memoranda gave like witness:--

    _Meiji twenty-fourth year, fifth month, eighteenth day._ 5
    sen to kurumaya from Nihonbashi to Uyeno.

    _Nineteenth day._

    5 sen to kurumaya to Asakusa Umamachi.

    1 sen 5 rin for sharpening something to hair-dresser in

    10 yen received from Sano, the pawnbroker in Baba.

    20 sen for train to Shincho.

    1 yen 2 sen for train from Hama to Shidzuoka.

    _Twentieth day._

    2 yen 9 sen for train from Shidzuoka to Hama.

    6 sen for postage-stamps for two letters.

    14 sen in Kiyomidzu.

    12 sen 5 rin for umbrella given to kurumaya.

But in strange contrast to the methodical faculty thus manifested was
the poetry of a farewell letter, containing such thoughts as these:--

"The eighty-eighth night" [that is, from the festival of the Setsubun]
"having passed like a dream, ice changed itself into clear drops, and
snow gave place to rain. Then cherry-blossoms came to please everybody;
but now, poor things! they begin to fall even before the wind touches
them. Again a little while, and the wind will make them fly through the
bright air in the pure spring weather. Yet it may be that the hearts
of those who love me will not be bright, will feel no pleasant spring.
The season of rains will come next, and there will be no joy in their
hearts.... Oh! what shall I do? There has been no moment in which I
have not thought of you.... But all ice, all snow, becomes at last free
water; the incense buds of the kiku will open even in frost. I pray
you, think later about these things.... Even now, for me, is the time
of frost, the time of kiku buds: if only they can blossom, perhaps
I shall please you much. Placed in this world of sorrow, but not to
stay, is the destiny of all. I beseech you, think me not unfilial; say
to none that you have lost me, that I have passed into the darkness.
Bather wait and hope for the fortunate time that shall come."


The editor of the pamphlet betrayed rather too much of the Oriental
manner of judging woman, even while showering generous praise upon
one typical woman. In a letter to the authorities Yuko had spoken of a
family claim, and this was criticised as a feminine weakness. She had,
indeed, achieved the extinction of personal selfishness, but she had
been "very foolish" to speak about her family. In some other ways the
book was disappointing. Under the raw, strong light of its commonplace
revelations, my little sketch, "Yuko," written in 1894, seemed for the
moment much too romantic. And yet the real poetry of the event remained
unlessened,--the pure ideal that impelled a girl to take her own life
merely to give proof of the love and loyalty of a nation. No small,
mean, dry facts could ever belittle that large fact.

The sacrifice had stirred the feelings of the nation much more than it
had touched my own. Thousands of photographs of Yuko and thousands of
copies of the little book about her were sold. Multitudes visited her
tomb and made offerings there, and gazed with tender reverence at the
relics in Makkeiji; and all this, I thought, for the best of reasons.
If commonplace facts are repellent to what we are pleased, in the
West, to call "refined feeling," it is proof that the refinement is
factitious and the feeling shallow. To the Japanese, who recognize that
the truth of beauty belongs to the inner being, commonplace details
are precious: they help to accentuate and verify the conception of a
heroism. Those poor blood-stained trifles--the coarse honest robes
and girdle, the little cheap purse, the memoranda of a visit to the
pawnbroker, the glimpses of plain, humble, every-day humanity shown
by the letters and the photographs and the infinitesimal precision of
police records--all serve, like so much ocular evidence, to perfect
the generous comprehension of the feeling that made the fact. Had Yuko
been the most beautiful person in Japan, and her people of the highest
rank, the meaning of her sacrifice would have been far less intimately
felt. In actual life, as a general rule, it is the common, not the
uncommon person who does noble things; and the people, seeing best, by
the aid of ordinary facts, what is heroic in one of their own class,
feel themselves honored. Many of us in the West will have to learn our
ethics over again from the common people. Our cultivated classes have
lived so long in an atmosphere of false idealism, mere conventional
humbug, that the real, warm, honest human emotions seem to them vulgar;
and the natural and inevitable punishment is inability to see, to hear,
to feel, and to think. There is more truth in the little verse poor
Yuko wrote on the back of her mirror than in most of our conventional

"_By one keeping the heart free from stain, virtue and right and wrong
are seen clearly as forms in a mirror._"


I returned by another way, through a quarter which I had never seen
before,--all temples. A district of great spaces,--vast and beautiful
and hushed as by enchantment. No dwellings or shops. Pale yellow walls
only, sloping back from the roadway on both sides, like fortress
walls, but coped with a coping or rootlet of blue tiles; and above
these yellow sloping walls (pierced with elfish gates at long, long
intervals), great soft hilly masses of foliage--cedar and pine and
bamboo--with superbly curved roofs sweeping up through them. Each
vista of those silent streets of temples, bathed in the gold of the
autumn afternoon, gave me just such a thrill of pleasure as one feels
on finding in some poem the perfect utterance of a thought one has
tried for years in vain to express.

Yet what was the charm made with? The wonderful walls were but
painted mud; the gates and the temples only frames of wood supporting
tiles; the shrubbery, the stonework, the lotus-ponds, mere
landscape-gardening. Nothing solid, nothing enduring; but a combination
so beautiful of lines and colors and shadows that no speech could
paint it. Nay! even were those earthen walls turned into lemon-colored
marble, and their tiling into amethyst; even were the material of the
temples transformed into substance precious as that of the palace
described in the Sutra of the Great King of Glory,--still the aesthetic
suggestion, the dreamy repose, the mellow loveliness and softness of
the scene, could not be in the least enhanced. Perhaps it is just
because the material of such creation is so frail that its art is
so marvelous. The most wonderful architecture, the most entrancing
landscapes, are formed with substance the most imponderable,--the
substance of clouds.

But those who think of beauty only in connection with costliness,
with stability, with "firm reality," should never look for it in
this land,--well called the Land of Sunrise, for sunrise is the hour
of illusions. Nothing is more lovely than a Japanese village among
the hills or by the coast when seen just after sunrise,--through the
slowly lifting blue mists of a spring or autumn morning. But for the
matter-of-fact observer, the enchantment passes with the vapors: in the
raw, clear light he can find no palaces of amethyst, no sails of gold,
but only flimsy sheds of wood and thatch and the unpainted queerness of
wooden junks.

So perhaps it is with all that makes life beautiful in any land. To
view men or nature with delight, we must see them through illusions,
subjective or objective. How they appear to us depends upon the ethical
conditions within us. Nevertheless, the real and the unreal are
equally illusive in themselves. The vulgar and the rare, the seemingly
transient and the seemingly enduring, are all alike mere ghostliness.
Happiest he who, from birth to death, sees ever through some beautiful
haze of the soul,--best of all, that haze of love which, like the
radiance of this Orient day, turns common things to gold.



    "Let the Bodhisattva look upon all things as having the
    nature of space,--as permanently equal to space; without
    essence, without substantiality."--SADDHARMA-PUNDARÎKA.

I have wandered to the verge of the town; and the street I followed
has roughened into a country road, and begins to curve away through
rice-fields toward a hamlet at the foot of the hills. Between town
and rice-fields a vague unoccupied stretch of land makes a favorite
playground for children. There are trees, and spaces of grass to roll
on, and many butterflies, and plenty of little stones. I stop to look
at the children.

By the roadside some are amusing themselves with wet clay, making tiny
models of mountains and rivers and rice-fields; tiny mud villages,
also,--imitations of peasants' huts,--and little mud temples, and mud
gardens with ponds and humped bridges and imitations of stone-lanterns
(_tōrō_); likewise miniature cemeteries, with bits of broken stone for
monuments. And they play at funerals,--burying corpses of butterflies
and _semi_ (cicadæ), and pretending to repeat Buddhist sutras over the
grave. To-morrow they will not dare to do this; for to-morrow will be
the first day of the festival of the Dead. During that festival it is
strictly forbidden to molest insects, especially semi, some of which
have on their heads little red characters said to be names of Souls.

Children in all countries play at death. Before the sense of personal
identity comes, death cannot be seriously considered; and childhood
thinks in this regard more correctly, perhaps, than self-conscious
maturity. Of course, if these little ones were told, some bright
morning, that a playfellow had gone away forever,--gone away to be
reborn elsewhere,--there would be a very real though vague sense
of loss, and much wiping of eyes with many-colored sleeves; but
presently the loss would be forgotten and the playing resumed. The
idea of ceasing to exist could not possibly enter a child-mind: the
butterflies and birds, the flowers, the foliage, the sweet summer
itself, only play at dying;--they seem to go, but they all come back
again after the snow is gone. The real sorrow and fear of death arise
in us only through slow accumulation of experience with doubt and pain;
and these little boys and girls, being Japanese and Buddhists, will
never, in any event, feel about death just as you or I do. They will
find reason to fear it for somebody else's sake, but not for their own,
because they will learn that they have died millions of times already,
and have forgotten the trouble of it, much as one for-gets the pain of
successive toothaches. In the strangely penetrant light of their creed,
teaching the ghostliness of all substance, granite or gossamer,--just as
those lately found X-rays make visible the ghostliness of flesh,--this
their present world, with its bigger mountains and rivers and
rice-fields, will not appear to them much more real than the mud
landscapes which they made in childhood. And much more real it probably
is not.

At which thought I am conscious of a sudden soft shock, a familiar
shock, and know myself seized by the idea of Substance as Non-Reality.


This sense of the voidness of things comes only when the temperature
of the air is so equably related to the temperature of life that I can
forget having a body. Cold compels painful notions of solidity; cold
sharpens the delusion of personality; cold quickens egotism; cold numbs
thought, and shrivels up the little wings of dreams.

To-day is one of those warm, hushed days when it is possible to think
of things as they are,--when ocean, peak, and plain seem no more real
than the arching of blue emptiness above them. All is mirage,--my
physical self, and the sunlit road, and the slow rippling of the
grain under a sleepy wind, and the thatched roofs beyond the haze
of the ricefields, and the blue crumpling of the naked hills behind
everything. I have the double sensation of being myself a ghost and of
being haunted,--haunted by the prodigious luminous Spectre of the World.


There are men and women working in those fields. Colored moving
shadows they are; and the earth under them--out of which they rose, and
back to which they will go--is equally shadow. Only the Forces behind
the shadow, that make and unmake, are real,--therefore viewless.

Somewhat as Night devours all lesser shadow will this phantasmal
earth swallow us at last, and itself thereafter vanish away. But the
little shadows and the Shadow-Eater must as certainly reappear,--must
rematerialize somewhere and somehow. This ground beneath me is old as
the Milky Way. Call it what you please,--clay, soil, dust: its names
are but symbols of human sensations having nothing in common with
it. Really it is nameless and unnamable, being a mass of energies,
tendencies, infinite possibilities; for it was made by the beating of
that shoreless Sea of Birth and Death whose surges billow unseen out
of eternal Night to burst in foam of stars. Lifeless it is not: it
feeds upon life, and visible life grows out of it. Dust it is of Karma,
waiting to enter into novel combinations,---dust of elder Being in that
state between birth and birth which the Buddhist calls _Chū-U._ It is
made of forces, and of nothing else; and those forces are not of this
planet only, but of vanished spheres innumerable.


Is there aught visible, tangible, measurable, that has never been
mixed with sentiency?--atom that has never vibrated to pleasure
or to pain?--air that has never been cry or speech?--drop that
has never been a tear? Assuredly this dust has felt. It has been
everything we know; also much that we cannot know. It has been nebula
and star, planet and moon, times unspeakable. Deity also it has
been,--the Sun-God of worlds that circled and worshiped in other
æons. "_Remember, Man, thou art but dust!_"--a saying profound
only as materialism, which stops short at surfaces. For what is
dust? "Remember, Dust, thou hast been Sun, and Sun thou shalt become
again!... Thou hast been Light, Life, Love;--and into all these, by
ceaseless cosmic magic, thou shalt many times be turned again!"


For this Cosmic Apparition is more than evolution alternating
with dissolution: it is infinite metempsychosis; it is perpetual
palingenesis. Those old predictions of a bodily resurrection were not
falsehoods; they were rather foreshadowings of a truth vaster than all
myths and deeper than all religions.

Suns yield up their ghosts of flame; but out of their graves new suns
rush into being. Corpses of worlds pass all to some solar funeral pyre;
but out of their own ashes they are born again. This earth must die:
her seas shall be Saharas. But those seas once existed in the sun;
and their dead tides, revived by fire, will pour their thunder upon
the coasts of another world. Transmigration--transmutation: these
are not fables! What is impossible? Not the dreams of alchemists and
poets;--dross may indeed be changed to gold, the jewel to the living
eye, the flower into flesh. What is impossible? If seas can pass
from world to sun, from sun to world again, what of the dust of dead
selves,--dust of memory and thought? Resurrection there is,--but a
resurrection more stupendous than any dreamed of by Western creeds.
Dead emotions will revive as surely as dead suns and moons. Only, so
far as we can just now discern, there will be no return of identical
individualities. The reapparition will always be a recombination of the
preexisting, a readjustment of affinities, a reintegration of being
informed with the experience of anterior being. The Cosmos is a Karma.


Merely by reason of illusion and folly do we shrink from the notion
of self-instability. For what is our individuality? Most certainly
it is not individuality at all: it is multiplicity incalculable.
What is the human body? A form built up out of billions of living
entities, an impermanent agglomeration of individuals called cells.
And the human soul? A composite of quintillions of souls. We are, each
and all, infinite compounds of fragments of anterior lives. And the
universal process that continually dissolves and continually constructs
personality has always been going on, and is even at this moment going
on, in every one of us. What being ever had a totally new feeling,
an absolutely new idea? All our emotions and thoughts and wishes,
however changing and growing through the varying seasons of life, are
only compositions and recompositions of the sensations and ideas and
desires of other folk, mostly of dead people,--millions of billions of
dead people. Cells and souls are themselves recombinations, present
aggregations of past knittings of forces,--forces about which nothing
is known save that they belong to the Shadow-Makers of universes.

Whether you (by _you_ I mean any other agglomeration of souls)
really wish for immortality as an agglomeration, I cannot tell. But
I confess that "my mind to me a kingdom is"--not! Rather it is a
fantastical republic, daily troubled by more revolutions than ever
occurred in South America; and the nominal government, supposed to be
rational, declares that an eternity of such anarchy is not desirable.
I have souls wanting to soar in air, and souls wanting to swim in
water (sea-water, I think), and souls wanting to live in woods or on
mountain tops. I have souls longing for the tumult of great cities,
and souls longing to dwell in tropical solitude;--souls, also, in
various stages of naked savagery--souls demanding nomad freedom
without tribute;--souls conservative, delicate, loyal to empire and to
feudal tradition, and souls that are Nihilists, deserving Siberia;
--sleepless souls, hating inaction, and hermit souls, dwelling in
such meditative isolation that only at intervals of years can I feel
them moving about;--souls that have faith in fetiches;--polytheistic
souls;--souls proclaiming Islam;--and souls mediæval, loving cloister
shadow and incense and glimmer of tapers and the awful altitude of
Gothic glooms. Cooperation among all these is not to be thought of:
always there is trouble,--revolt, confusion, civil war. The majority
detest this state of things: multitudes would gladly emigrate. And the
wiser minority feel that they need never hope for better conditions
until after the total demolition of the existing social structure.


_I_ an individual,--an individual soul! Nay, I am a population,--a
population unthinkable for multitude, even by groups of a thousand
millions! Generations of generations I am, æons of æons! Countless
times the concourse now making me has been scattered, and mixed with
other scatterings. Of what concern, then, the next disintegration?
Perhaps, after trillions of ages of burning in different dynasties of
suns, the very best of me may come together again.


If one could only imagine some explanation of the Why! The questions of
the Whence and the Whither are much less troublesome, since the Present
assures us, even though vaguely, of Future and Past. But the Why!


The cooing voice of a little girl dissolves my reverie. She is trying
to teach a child brother how to make the Chinese character for Man,--I
mean Man with a big M. First she draws in the dust a stroke sloping
downwards from right to left, so:--


then she draws another curving downwards from left to right, thus:--


joining the two so as to form the perfect _ji_, or character, _hito,_
meaning a person of either sex, or mankind:--


Then she tries to impress the idea of this shape on the baby memory
by help of a practical illustration,--probably learned at school. She
breaks a slip of wood in two pieces, and manages to balance the pieces
against each other at about the same angle as that made by the two
strokes of the character. "Now see," she says: "each stands only by
help of the other. One by itself cannot stand. Therefore the _ji_ is
like mankind. Without help one person cannot live in this world; but
by getting help and giving help everybody can live. If nobody helped
anybody, all people would fall down and die."

This explanation is not philologically exact; the two strokes
evolutionally standing for a pair of legs,--all that survives in
the modern ideograph of the whole man figured in the primitive
picture-writing. But the pretty moral fancy is much more important
than the scientific fact. It is also one charming example of that
old-fashioned method of teaching which invested every form and every
incident with ethical signification. Besides, as a mere item of moral
information, it contains the essence of all earthly religion, and the
best part of all earthly philosophy. A world-priestess she is, this
dear little maid, with her dove's voice and her innocent gospel of one
letter! Verily in that gospel lies the only possible present answer
to ultimate problems. Were its whole meaning universally felt,--were
its whole suggestion of the spiritual and material law of love and
help universally obeyed,--forthwith, according to the Idealists, this
seemingly solid visible world would vanish away like smoke! For it has
been written that in whatsoever time all human minds accord in thought
and will with the mind of the Teacher, _there shall not remain even one
particle of dust that does not enter into Buddhahood._




A very interesting essay upon the Japanese art collections in the
National Library was read by Mr. Edward Strange at a meeting of
the Japan Society held last year in London. Mr. Strange proved his
appreciation of Japanese art by an exposition of its principles,--the
subordination of detail to the expression of a sensation or idea, the
subordination of the particular to the general. He spoke especially
of the decorative element in Japanese art, and of the Ukiyo-yé school
of color-printing. He remarked that even the heraldry of Japan, as
illustrated in little books costing only a few pence each, contained
"an education in the planning of conventional ornament." He referred to
the immense industrial value of Japanese stencil designs. He tried to
explain the nature of the advantage likely to be gained in the art of
book illustration from the careful study of Japanese methods; and he
indicated the influence of those methods in the work of such artists
as Aubrey Beardsley, Edgar Wilson, Steinlen Ibels, Whistler, Grasset,
Cheret, and Lautrec. Finally, he pointed out the harmony between
certain Japanese principles and the doctrines of one of the modern
Western schools of Impressionism.

Such an address could hardly fail to provoke adverse criticism in
England, because it suggested a variety of new ideas. English opinion
does not prohibit the importation of ideas: the public will even
complain if fresh ideas be not regularly set before it. But its
requirement of them is aggressive: it wants to have an intellectual
battle over them. To persuade its unquestioning acceptance of new
beliefs or thoughts,--to coax it to jump to a conclusion,--were about
as easy as to make the mountains skip like rams. Though willing to be
convinced, providing the idea does not appear "morally dangerous," it
must first be assured of the absolute correctness of every step in
the mental process by which the novel conclusion has been reached.
That Mr. Strange's just but almost enthusiastic admiration of Japanese
art could pass without challenge was not possible; yet one would
scarcely have anticipated a challenge from the ranks of the Japan
Society itself. The report, however, shows that Mr. Strange's views
were received even by that society in the characteristic English way.
The idea that English artists could learn anything important from
the study of Japanese methods was practically pooh-poohed; and the
criticisms made by various members indicated that the philosophic part
of the paper had been either misunderstood or unnoticed. One gentleman
innocently complained that he could not imagine "why Japanese art
should be utterly wanting in facial expression." Another declared that
there could never have been any lady like the ladies of the Japanese
prints; and he described the faces therein portrayed as "absolutely

Then came the most surprising incident of the evening,--the
corroboration of these adverse criticisms by his excellency the
Japanese Minister, with the apologetic remark that the prints referred
to "were only regarded as common things in Japan." Common things!
Common, perhaps, in the judgment of other generations; aesthetic
luxuries to-day. The artists named were Hokusai, Toyokuni, Hiroshigé,
Kuniyoshi, Kunisada! But his excellency seemed to think the subject
trifling; for he took occasion to call away the attention of the
meeting, irrelevantly as patriotically, to the triumphs of the war.
In this he reflected faithfully the Japanese _Zeitgeist,_ which can
scarcely now endure the foreign praise of Japanese art. Unfortunately,
those dominated by the just and natural martial pride of the hour
do not reflect that while the development and maintenance of great
armaments--unless effected with the greatest economical caution--might
lead in short order to national bankruptcy, the future industrial
prosperity of the country is likely to depend in no small degree upon
the conservation and cultivation of the national art sense. Nay,
those very means by which Japan won her late victories were largely
purchased by the commercial results of that very art sense to which
his excellency seemed to attach no importance. Japan must continue to
depend upon her aesthetic faculty, even in so commonplace a field of
industry as the manufacture of mattings; for in mere cheap production
she will never be able to undersell China.


Although the criticisms provoked by Mr. Strange's essay were unjust
to Japanese art, they were natural, and indicated nothing worse
than ignorance of that art and miscomprehension of its purpose. It
is not an art of which the meaning can be read at a glance: years
of study are necessary for a right comprehension of it. I cannot
pretend that I have mastered the knowledge of its moods and tenses,
but I can say truthfully that the faces in the old picture-books and
in the cheap prints of to-day, especially those of the illustrated
Japanese newspapers, do not seem to me in the least unreal, much less
"absolutely insane." There was a time when they did appear to me
fantastic. Now I find them always interesting, occasionally beautiful.
If I am told that no other European would say so, then I must declare
all other Europeans wrong. I feel sure that, if these faces seem to
most Occidentals either absurd or soulless, it is only because most
Occidentals do not understand them; and even if his excellency the
Japanese Minister to England be willing to accept the statement that no
Japanese women ever resembled the women of the Japanese picture-books
and cheap prints, I must still refuse to do so.[1] Those pictures, I
contend, are true, and reflect intelligence, grace, and beauty. I see
the women of the Japanese picture--books in every Japanese street. I
have beheld in actual life almost every normal type of face to be found
in a Japanese picture-book: the child and the girl, the bride and the
mother, the matron and the grandparent; poor and rich; charming or
commonplace or vulgar. If I am told that trained art critics who have
lived in Japan laugh at this assertion, I reply that they cannot have
lived in Japan long enough, or felt her life intimately enough, or
studied her art impartially enough, to qualify themselves to understand
even the commonest Japanese drawing.

Before I came to Japan I used to be puzzled by the absence of facial
expression in certain Japanese pictures. I confess that the faces,
although not even then devoid of a certain weird charm, seemed to me
impossible. Afterwards, during the first two years of Far-Eastern
experience,--that period in which the stranger is apt to imagine
that he is learning all about a people whom no Occidental can ever
really understand,--I could recognize the grace and truth of certain
forms, and feel something of the intense charm of color in Japanese
prints; but I had no perception of the deeper meaning of that art.
Even the full significance of its color I did not know: much that was
simply true I then thought outlandish. While conscious of the charm
of many things, the reason of the charm I could not guess. I imagined
the apparent conventionalism of the faces to indicate the arrested
development of an otherwise marvelous art faculty. It never occurred to
me that they might be conventional only in the sense of symbols which,
once interpreted, would reveal more than ordinary Western drawing can
express. But this was because I still remained under old barbaric
influences,--influences that blinded me to the meaning of Japanese
drawing. And now, having at last learned a little, it is the Western
art of illustration that appears to me conventional, undeveloped,
semi-barbarous. The pictorial attractions of English weeklies and of
American magazines now impress me as flat, coarse, and clumsy. My
opinion on the subject, however, is limited to the ordinary class of
Western illustration as compared with the ordinary class of Japanese

Perhaps somebody will say that, even granting my assertion, the meaning
of any true art should need no interpretation, and that the inferior
character of Japanese work is proved by the admission that its meaning
is not universally recognizable. Whoever makes such a criticism must
imagine Western art to be everywhere equally intelligible. Some of
it--the very best--probably is; and some of Japanese art also is.
But I can assure the reader that the ordinary art of Western book
illustration or magazine engraving is just as incomprehensible to
Japanese as Japanese drawings are to Europeans who have never seen
Japan. For a Japanese to understand our common engravings, he must have
lived abroad. For an Occidental to perceive the truth, or the beauty,
or the humor of Japanese drawings, he must know the life which those
drawings reflect.

One of the critics at the meeting of the Japan Society found fault with
the absence of facial expression in Japanese drawing as conventional.
He compared Japanese art on this ground with the art of the old
Egyptians, and held both inferior because restricted by convention. Yet
surely the age which makes _Laocoön_ a classic ought to recognize that
Greek art itself was not free from conventions. It was an art which
we can scarcely hope ever to equal; but it was more conventional than
any existing form of art. And since it proved that even the divine
could find development within the limits of artistic convention, the
charge of formality is not a charge worth making against Japanese
art. Somebody may respond that Greek conventions were conventions
of beauty, while those of Japanese drawing have neither beauty nor
meaning. But such a statement is possible only because Japanese art
has not yet found its Winckelmann nor its Lessing, whereas Greek art,
by the labor of generations of modern critics and teachers, has been
made somewhat more comprehensible to us than it could have been to our
barbarian forefathers. The Greek conventional face cannot be found in
real life, no living head presenting so large a facial angle; but the
Japanese conventional face can be seen everywhere, when once the real
value of its symbol in art is properly understood. The face of Greek
art represents an impossible perfection, a superhuman evolution. The
seemingly inexpressive face drawn by the Japanese artists represents
the living, the actual, the every-day. The former is a dream; the
latter is a common fact.

[Footnote 1: That Japanese art is capable of great things in ideal
facial expression is sufficiently proved by its Buddhist images. In
ordinary prints the intentional conventionalism of the faces is hardly
noticeable when the drawing is upon a small scale; and the suggestion
of beauty is more readily perceived in such cases. But when the
drawing has a certain dimension,--when the face-oval, for instance,
has a diameter of more than an inch,--the same treatment may seem
inexplicable to eyes accustomed to elaborated detail.]


A partial explanation of the apparent physiognomical conventionalism in
Japanese drawing is just that law of the subordination of individualism
to type, of personality to humanity, of detail to feeling, which the
miscomprehended lecturer, Mr. Edward Strange, vainly tried to teach the
Japan Society something about. The Japanese artist depicts an insect,
for example, as no European artist can do: he makes it live; he shows
its peculiar motion, its character, everything by which it is at once
distinguished as a type,--and all this with a few brush-strokes. But he
does not attempt to represent every vein upon each of its wings, every
separate joint of its antennae [1] he depicts it as it is really seen
at a glance, not as studied in detail. We never see all the details of
the body of a grasshopper, a butterfly, or a bee, in the moment that
we perceive it perching somewhere; we observe only enough to enable
us to decide what kind of a creature it is. We see the typical, never
the individual peculiarities. Therefore the Japanese artist paints
the type alone. To reproduce every detail would be to subordinate the
type character to the individual peculiarity. A very minute detail is
rarely brought out except when the instant recognition of the type
is aided by the recognition of the detail; as, for example, when a
ray of light happens to fall upon the joint of a cricket's leg, or to
reverberate from the mail of a dragonfly in a double-colored metallic
flash. So likewise in painting a flower, the artist does not depict a
particular, but a typical flower: he shows the morphological law of
the species, or, to speak symbolically, nature's thought behind the
form. The results of this method may astonish even scientific men.
Alfred Russel Wallace speaks of a collection of Japanese sketches of
plants as "the most masterly things" that he ever saw. "Every stem,
twig, and leaf," he declares, "is _produced by single touches of the
brush;_ the character and perspective of very complicated plants being
admirably given, and the articulations of stem and leaves shown in
a most scientific manner." (The italics are my own.) Observe that
while the work is simplicity itself "produced by single touches of
the brush," it is nevertheless, in the opinion of one of the greatest
living naturalists, "most scientific." And why? Because it shows the
type character and the law of the type. So again, in portraying rocks
and cliffs, hills and plains, the Japanese artist gives us the general
character, not the wearisome detail of masses; and yet the detail is
admirably suggested by this perfect study of the larger law. Or look at
his color studies of sunsets and sunrises: he never tries to present
every minute fact within range of vision, but offers us only those
great luminous tones and chromatic blendings which, after a thousand
petty details have been forgotten, still linger in the memory, and
there recreate the _feeling_ of what has been seen.

Now this general law of the art applies to Japanese representations
of the human figure, and also (though here other laws too come into
play) of the human face. The general types are given, and often with
a force that the cleverest French sketcher could scarcely emulate;
the personal trait, the individual peculiarity, is not given. Even
when, in the humor of caricature or in dramatic representation, facial
expression is strongly marked, it is rendered by typical, not by
individual characteristics, just as it was rendered upon the antique
stage by the conventional masks of Greek actors.

[Footnote 1: Unless he carves it. In that case, his insect--cut in bone
or horn or ivory, and appropriately colored--can sometimes scarcely
be distinguished from a real insect, except by its weight, when held
in the hand. Such absolute realism, however, is only curious, not


A few general remarks about the treatment of faces in ordinary Japanese
drawing may help to the understanding of what that treatment teaches.

Youth is indicated by the absence of all but essential touches, and
by the clean, smooth curves of the face and neck. Excepting the
touches which suggest eyes, nose, and mouth, there are no lines. The
curves speak sufficiently of fullness, smoothness, ripeness. For
story-illustration it is not necessary to elaborate feature, as the age
or condition is indicated by the style of the coiffure and the fashion
of the dress. In female figures, the absence of eyebrows indicates the
wife or widow; a straggling tress signifies grief; troubled thought is
shown by an unmistakable pose or gesture. Hair, costume, and attitude
are indeed enough to explain almost everything. But the Japanese artist
knows how, by means of extremely delicate variations in the direction
and position of the half dozen touches indicating feature, to give some
hint of character, whether sympathetic or unsympathetic; and this hint
is seldom lost upon a Japanese eye.[1] Again, an almost imperceptible
hardening or softening of these touches has moral significance. Still,
this is never individual: it is only the hint of a physiognomical law.
In the case of immature youth (boy and girl faces), there is merely a
general indication of softness and gentleness,--the abstract rather
than the concrete charm of childhood.

In the portrayal of maturer types the lines are more numerous and
more accentuated, illustrating the fact that character necessarily
becomes more marked in middle age, as the facial muscles begin to show.
But there is only the suggestion of this change, not any study of

In the representation of old age, the Japanese artist gives us all the
wrinkles, the hollows, the shrinking of tissues, the "crow's-feet,"
the gray hairs, the change in the line of the face following upon loss
of teeth. His old men and women show character. They delight us by a
certain worn sweetness of expression, a look of benevolent resignation;
or they repel us by an aspect of hardened cunning, avarice, or
envy. There are many types of old age; but they are types of human
conditions, not of personality. The picture is not drawn from a model;
it is not the reflection of an individual existence: its value is made
by the recognition which it exhibits of a general physiognomical or
biological law.

Here it is worth while to notice that the reserves of Japanese art in
the matter of facial expression accord with the ethics of Oriental
society. For ages the rule of conduct has been to mask all personal
feeling as far as possible,--to hide pain and passion under an exterior
semblance of smiling amiability or of impassive resignation. One key to
the enigmas of Japanese art is Buddhism.

[Footnote 1: In modern Japanese newspaper illustrations (I refer
particularly to the admirable woodcuts illustrating the _feuilletons_
of the Ōsaka _Asahi Shimbun_) these indications are quite visible even
to a practiced foreign eye. The artist of the _Asahi Shimbun_ is a

I am here reminded of a curious fact which I do not remember having
seen mention of in any book about Japan. The newly arrived Westerner
often complains of his inability to distinguish one Japanese from
another, and attributes this difficulty to the absence of strongly
marked physiognomy in the race. He does not imagine that our more
sharply accentuated Occidental physiognomy produces the very same
effect upon the Japanese. Many and many a one has said to me, "For a
long time I found it very hard to tell one foreigner from another: they
all seemed to me alike."]


I have said that when I now look at a foreign illustrated newspaper or
magazine I can find little pleasure in the engravings. Most often they
repel me. The drawing seems to me coarse and hard, and the realism of
the conception petty. Such work leaves nothing to the imagination, and
usually betrays the effort which it cost. A common Japanese drawing
leaves much to the imagination,--nay, irresistibly stimulates it,--and
never betrays effort. Everything in a common European engraving is
detailed and individualized. Everything in a Japanese drawing is
impersonal and suggestive. The former reveals no law: it is a study of
particularities. The latter invariably teaches something of law, and
suppresses particularities except in their relation to law.

One may often hear Japanese say that Western art is too realistic;
and the judgment contains truth. But the realism in it which offends
Japanese taste, especially in the matter of facial expression, is not
found fault with merely because of minuteness of detail. Detail in
itself is not condemned by any art; and the highest art is that in
which detail is most exquisitely elaborated. The art which saw the
divine, which rose above nature's best, which discovered supramundane
ideals for animal and even floral shapes, was characterized by the
sharpest possible perfection of detail. And in the higher Japanese
art, as in the Greek, the use of detail aids rather than opposes the
aspirational aim. What most displeases in the realism of our modern
illustration is not multiplicity of detail, but, as we shall presently
see, _signification_ of detail.

The queerest fact about the suppression of physiognomical detail in
Japanese art is that this suppression is most evident just where we
should least expect to find it, namely, in those creations called
"This-miserable-world pictures" (Ukiyo-yé), or, to use a corresponding
Western term, "Pictures of this Vale of Tears." For although the
artists of this school have really given us pictures of a very
beautiful and happy world, they professed to reflect truth. One form
of truth they certainly presented, but after a manner at variance with
our common notions of realism. The Ukiyo-yé artist drew actualities,
but not repellent or meaningless actualities; proving his rank even
more by his refusal than by his choice of subjects. He looked for
dominant laws of contrast and color, for the general character of
nature's combinations, for the order of the beautiful as it was and
is. Otherwise his art was in no sense aspirational; it was the art of
the larger comprehension of things as they are. Thus he was rightly a
realist, notwithstanding that his realism appears only in the study
of constants, generalities, types. And as expressing the synthesis of
common fact, the systematization of natural law, this Japanese art
is by its method scientific in the true sense. The higher art, the
aspirational art (whether Japanese or old Greek), is, on the contrary,
essentially religious by its method.

Where the scientific and the aspirational extremes of art touch, one
may expect to find some universal aesthetic truth recognized by both.
They agree in their impersonality: they refuse to individualize. And
the lesson of the very highest art that ever existed suggests the true
reason for this common refusal.

What does the charm of an antique head express, whether in marble, gem,
or mural painting,--for instance, that marvelous head of Leucothea
which prefaces the work of Winckelmann? Needless to seek the reply from
works of mere art critics. Science alone can furnish it. You will find
it in Herbert Spencer's essay on Personal Beauty. The beauty of such a
head signifies a superhumanly perfect development and balance of the
intellectual faculties. All those variations of feature constituting
what we call "expression," represent departures from a perfect type
just in proportion as they represent what is termed "character;"--and
they are, or ought to be, more or less disagreeable or painful
because "the aspects which please us are the outward correlatives of
inward perfections, and the aspects which displease us are the outward
correlatives of inward imperfections." Mr. Spencer goes on to say that
although there are often grand natures behind plain faces, and although
fine countenances frequently hide small souls, "these anomalies do not
destroy the general truth of the law any more than the perturbations of
planets destroy the general ellipticity of their orbits."

Both Greek and Japanese art recognized the physiognomical truth which
Mr. Spencer put into the simple formula, "_Expression is feature in the
making_" The highest art, Greek art, rising above the real to reach the
divine, gives us the dream of feature perfected. Japanese realism, so
much larger than our own as to be still misunderstood, gives us only
"feature in the making," or rather, the general law of feature in the


Thus we reach the common truth recognized equally by Greek art and
by Japanese art, namely, the non-moral significance of individual
expression. And our admiration of the art reflecting personality is, of
course, non-moral, since the delineation of individual imperfection is
not, in the ethical sense, a subject for admiration.

Although the facial aspects which really attract us may be considered
the outward correlatives of inward perfections, or of approaches to
perfections, we generally confess an interest in physiognomy which
by no means speaks to us of inward _moral_ perfections, but rather
suggests perfections of the reverse order. This fact is manifested even
in daily life. When we exclaim, "What force!" on seeing a head with
prominent bushy brows, incisive nose, deep-set eyes, and a massive
jaw, we are indeed expressing our recognition of force, but only of
the sort of force underlying instincts of aggression and brutality.
When we commend the character of certain strong aquiline faces,
certain so-called Roman profiles, we are really com-mending the traits
that mark a race of prey. It is true that we do not admire faces in
which only brutal, or cruel, or cunning traits exist; but it is true
also that we admire the indications of obstinacy, aggressiveness,
and harshness when united with certain indications of intelligence.
It may even be said that we associate the idea of manhood with the
idea of aggressive power more than with the idea of any other power.
Whether this power be physical or intellectual, we estimate it in our
popular preferences, at least, above the really superior powers of the
mind, and call intelligent cunning by the euphemism of "shrewdness."
Probably the manifestation in some modern human being of the Greek
ideal of masculine beauty would interest the average observer less
than a face presenting an abnormal development of traits the reverse
of noble,--since the intellectual significance of perfect beauty could
be realized only by persons capable of appreciating the miracle of a
perfect balance of the highest possible human faculties. In modern art
we look for the feminine beauty which appeals to the feeling of sex,
or for that child-beauty which appeals to the instincts of parenthood;
and we should characterize real beauty in the portrayal of manhood not
only as unnatural, but as effeminate. War and love are still the two
dominant tones in that reflection of modern life which our serious
art gives. But it will be noticed that when the artist would exhibit
the ideal of beauty or of virtue, he is still obliged to borrow from
antique knowledge. As a borrower, he is never quite successful, since
he belongs to a humanity in many respects much below the ancient Greek
level. A German philosopher has well said, "The resuscitated Greeks
would, with perfect truth, declare our works of art in all departments
to be thoroughly barbarous." How could they be otherwise in an age
which openly admires intelligence less because of its power to create
and preserve than because of its power to crush and destroy?

Why this admiration of capacities which we should certainly not like
to have exercised against ourselves? Largely, no doubt, because we
admire what we wish to possess, and we understand the immense value of
aggressive power, intellectual especially, in the great competitive
struggle of modern civilization.

As reflecting both the trivial actualities and the personal
emotionalism of Western life, our art would be found ethically not
only below Greek art, but even below Japanese. Greek art expressed the
aspiration of a race toward the divinely beautiful and the divinely
wise. Japanese art reflects the simple joy of existence, the perception
of natural law in form and color, the perception of natural law in
change, and the sense of life made harmonious by social order and by
self-suppression, Modern Western art reflects the thirst of pleasure,
the idea of life as a battle for the right to enjoy, and the unamiable
qualities which are indispensable to success in the competitive


It has been said that the history of Western civilization is written in
Western physiognomy. It is at least interesting to study Western facial
expression through Oriental eyes. I have frequently amused myself by
showing European or American illustrations to Japanese children, and
hearing their artless comments upon the faces therein depicted. A
complete record of these comments might prove to have value as well as
interest; but for present purposes I shall offer only the results of
two experiments.

The first was with a little boy, nine years old, before whom, one
evening, I placed several numbers of an illustrated magazine. After
turning over a few of the pages, he exclaimed, "Why do foreign artists
like to draw horrible things?"

"What horrible things?" I inquired.

"These," he said, pointing to a group of figures representing voters at
the polls.

"Why, those are not horrible," I answered. "We think those drawings
very good."

"But the faces! There cannot really be such faces in the world."

"We think those are ordinary men. Really horrible faces we very seldom

He stared in surprise, evidently suspecting that I was not in earnest.


To a little girl of eleven I showed some engravings representing famous
European beauties.

"They do not look bad," was her comment. "But they seem so much like
men, and their eyes are so big!... Their mouths are pretty."

The mouth signifies a great deal in Japanese physiognomy, and the
child was in this regard appreciative. I then showed her some drawings
from life, in a New York periodical. She asked, "Is it true that there
are people like those pictures?"

"Plenty," I said. "Those are good, common faces,--mostly country folk,

"Farmers! They are like _Oni_ [demons] from the _jigoku_ [Buddhist

"No," I answered, "there is nothing very bad in those faces. We have
faces in the West very much worse."

"Only to see them," she exclaimed, "I should die! I do not like this

I set before her a Japanese picture-book,--a book of views of the
Tokaido. She clapped her hands joyfully, and pushed my half-inspected
foreign magazine out of the way.



Manyemon had coaxed the child indoors, and made her eat. She appeared
to be about eleven years old, intelligent, and pathetically docile. Her
name was Iné, which means "springing rice;" and her frail slimness made
the name seem appropriate.

When she began, under Manyemon's gentle persuasion, to tell her story,
I anticipated something queer from the accompanying change in her
voice. She spoke in a high thin sweet tone, perfectly even,--a tone
changeless and unemotional as the chanting of the little kettle over
its charcoal bed. Not unfrequently in Japan one may hear a girl or a
woman utter something touching or cruel or terrible in just such a
steady, level, penetrating tone, but never anything indifferent. It
always means that feeling is being kept under control.

"There were six of us at home," said Iné, "mother and father and
father's mother, who was very old, and my brother and myself, and
a little sister. Father was a _hyōguya,_ a paper-hanger: he papered
sliding-screens and also mounted kakemono. Mother was a hair-dresser.
My brother was apprenticed to a seal-cutter.

"Father and mother did well: mother made even more money than father.
We had good clothes and good food; and we never had any real sorrow
until father fell sick.

"It was the middle of the hot season. Father had always been healthy:
we did not think that his sickness was dangerous, and he did not think
so himself. But the very next day he died. We were very much surprised.
Mother tried to hide her heart, and to wait upon her customers as
before. But she was not very strong, and the pain of father's death
came too quickly. Eight days after father's funeral mother also died.
It was so sudden that everybody wondered. Then the neighbors told us
that we must make a _ningyō-no-haka_ at once,--or else there would be
another death in our house. My brother said they were right; but he put
off doing what they told him. Perhaps he did not have mercy enough, I
do not know; but the haka was not made." ...


"What is a _ningyō-no-haka_?" I interrupted.

"I think," Manyemon made answer, "that you have seen many
_ningyō-no-haka_ without knowing what they were;--they look just
like graves of children. It is believed that when two of a family
die in the same year, a third also must soon die. There is a saying,
_Always three graves._ So when two out of one family have been buried
in the same year, a third grave is made next to the graves of those
two, and in it is put a coffin containing only a little figure of
straw,--_wara-ningyō_; and over that grave a small tombstone is set up,
bearing a kaimyō.[1] The priests of the temple to which the graveyard
belongs write the kaimyō for these little gravestones. By making a
_ningyō-no-haka_ it is thought that a death may be prevented.... We
listen for the rest, Iné."

The child resumed:--

"There were still four of us,--grandmother, brother, myself, and my
little sister. My brother was nineteen years old. He had finished his
apprenticeship just before father died: we thought that was like the
pity of the gods for us. He had become the head of the house. He was
very skillful in his business, and had many friends: therefore he could
maintain us. He made thirteen yen the first month;--that is very good
for a seal-cutter. One evening he came home sick: he said that his head
hurt him. Mother had then been dead forty-seven days. That evening he
could not eat. Next morning he was not able to get up;--he had a very
hot fever: we nursed him as well as we could, and sat up at night to
watch by him; but he did not get better. On the morning of the third
day of his sickness we became frightened--because he began to talk to
mother. It was the forty-ninth day after mother's death,--the day the
Soul leaves the house;--and brother spoke as if mother was calling
him:--'Yes, mother, yes!--in a little while I shall come!' Then he told
us that mother was pulling him by the sleeve. He would point with his
hand and call to us:-'There she is!--there!--do you not see her? 'We
would tell him that we could not see anything. Then he would say, 'Ah!
you did not look quick enough: she is hiding now;--she has gone down
under the floor-mats.' All the morning he talked like that. At last
grandmother stood up, and stamped her foot on the floor, and reproached
mother,--speaking very loud. 'Taka!' she said, 'Taka, what you do is
very wrong. When you were alive we all loved you. None of us ever spoke
unkind words to you. Why do you now want to take the boy? You know
that he is the only pillar of our house. You know that if you take him
there will not be any one to care for the ancestors. You know that if
you take him, you will destroy the family name! O Taka, it is cruel!
it is shameful! it is wicked!' Grandmother was so angry that all her
body trembled. Then she sat down and cried; and I and my little sister
cried. But our brother said that mother was still pulling him by the
sleeve. When the sun went down, he died.

"Grandmother wept, and stroked us, and sang a little song that she
made herself. I can remember it still:--

    _Oy a no nai ko to_
    _Hamabé no chidori:_
    _Higuré-higuré ni_
          _Sodé shiboru._[2]

"So the third grave was made,--but it was not a _ningyō-no-haka_;--and
that was the end of our house. We lived with kindred until winter,
when grandmother died. She died in the night,--when, nobody knew: in
the morning she seemed to be sleeping, but she was dead. Then I and my
little sister were separated. My sister was adopted by a _tatamiya,_ a
mat-maker,--one of father's friends. She is kindly treated: she even
goes to school!"

"_Aa fushigi na koto da!--aa komatta ne?"_ murmured Manyemon. Then
there was a moment or two of sympathetic silence. Iné prostrated
herself in thanks, and rose to depart. As she slipped her feet under
the thongs of her sandals, I moved toward the spot where she had been
sitting, to ask the old man a question. She perceived my intention, and
immediately made an indescribable sign to Manyemon, who responded by
checking me just as I was going to sit down beside him.

"She wishes," he said, "that the master will honorably strike the
matting first."

"But why?" I asked in surprise,---noticing only that under my unshod
feet, the spot where the child had been kneeling felt comfortably warm.

Manyemon answered:--

"She believes that to sit down upon the place made warm by the body of
another is to take into one's own life all the sorrow of that other
person,--unless the place be stricken first."

Whereat I sat down without performing the rite; and we both laughed.

"Iné," said Manyemon, "the master takes your sorrows upon him. He
wants "--(I cannot venture to render Manyemon's honorifics)--"to
understand the pain of other people. You need not tear for him, Iné."

[Footnote 1: The posthumous Buddhist name of the person buried is
chiseled upon the tomb or _haka._]

[Footnote 2: "Children without parents, like the seagulls of the
coast. Evening after evening the sleeves are wrung." The word
_chidori--_indiscriminately applied to many kinds of birds,--is here
used for seagull. The cries of the seagull are thought to express
melancholy and desolation: hence the comparison. The long sleeve of the
Japanese robe is used to wipe the eyes as well as to hide the face in
moments of grief. To "wring the sleeve"--that is, to wring the moisture
from a tear-drenched sleeve--is a frequent expression in Japanese



      _Takaki ya ni_
    _Noborité miréba_
      _Kemuri tat su;--_
    _Tami no kamado wa_
    _Nigiwai ni kéri._

(When I ascend a high place and look about me, lo! the smoke is rising:
the cooking ranges of the people are busy.)

_Song of the Emperor_ NINTOKU.


Nearly three hundred years ago, Captain John Saris, visiting Japan in
the service of the "Eight Honourable Companye, ye. marchants of London
trading into ye. East Indyes," wrote concerning the great city of Ōsaka
(as the name is now transliterated): "We found Osaca to be a very great
towne, as great as London within the walls, with many faire timber
bridges of a great height, seruing to passe over a riuer there as wide
as the Thames at London. Some faire houses we found there, but not
many. It is one of the chiefe sea-ports of all Iapan; hauing a castle
in it, maruellous large and strong" ... What Captain Saris said of the
Osaka of the seventeenth century is almost equally true of the Ōsaka
of to-day. It is still a very great city and one of the chief seaports
of all Japan; it contains, according to the Occidental idea, "some
faire houses;" it has many "faire timber bridges" (as well as bridges
of steel and stone)--"seruing to passe ouer a river as wide as the
Thames at London,"--the Yodogawa; and the castle "marvellous large and
strong," built by Hideyoshi after the plan of a Chinese fortress of the
Han dynasty, still remains something for military engineers to wonder
at, in spite of the disappearance of the many-storied towers, and the
destruction (in 1868) of the magnificent palace.

Ōsaka is more than two thousand five hundred years old, and therefore
one of the most ancient cities of Japan,--though its present name,
a contraction of _Oye no Saka,_ meaning the High Land of the Great
River, is believed to date back only to the fifteenth century, before
which time it was called Naniwa. Centuries before Europe knew of the
existence of Japan, Osaka was the great financial and commercial centre
of the empire; and it is that still. Through all the feudal era, the
merchants of Osaka were the bankers and creditors of the Japanese
princes: they exchanged the revenues of rice for silver and gold;--they
kept in their miles of fireproof warehouses the national stores of
cereals, of cotton, and of silk;--and they furnished to great captains
the sinews of war. Hideyoshi made Osaka his military capital;--Iyeyasu,
jealous and keen, feared the great city, and deemed it necessary to
impoverish its capitalists because of their financial power.

The Ōsaka of 1896, covering a vast area has a population of about
670,000. As to extent and population, it is now only the second city
of the empire; but it remains, as Count Okuma remarked in a recent
speech, financially, industrially, and commercially superior to Tōkyō.
Sakai, and Hyōgo, and Kobé are really but its outer ports; and the
last-named is visibly outgrowing Yokohama. It is confidently predicted,
both by foreigners and by Japanese, that Kobé will become the chief
port of foreign trade, because Osaka is able to attract to herself the
best business talent of the country. At present the foreign import
and export trade of Ōsaka represents about $120,000,000 a year; and
its inland and coasting trade are immense. Almost everything which
everybody wants is made in Ōsaka; and there are few comfortable
Japanese homes in any part of the empire to the furnishing of which
Ōsaka industry has not contributed something. This was probably the
case long before Tokyo existed. There survives an ancient song of which
the burden runs,--"_Every day to Ōsaka come a thousand ships."_ Junks
only, in the time when the song was written; steamers also to-day,
and deep-sea travelers of all rigs. Along the wharves you can ride
for miles by a seemingly endless array of masts and funnels,--though
the great Trans-Pacific liners and European mail-steamers draw too
much water to enter the harbor, and receive their Ōsaka freight at
Kobé. But the energetic city, which has its own steamship companies,
now proposes to improve its port, at a cost of 116,000,000. An Ōsaka
with a population of two millions, and a foreign trade of at least
$300,000,000 a year, is not a dream impossible to realize in the next
half century. I need scarcely say that Ōsaka is the centre of the
great trade-guilds,[1] and the headquarters of those cotton-spinning
companies whose mills, kept running with a single shift twenty-three
hours out of the twenty-four, turn out double the quantity of yarn per
spindle that English mills turn out, and from thirty to forty per cent,
more than the mills of Bombay.

Every great city in the world is believed to give a special character
to its inhabitants; and in Japan the man of Ōsaka is said to be
recognizable almost at sight. I think it can be said that the character
of the man of the capital is less marked than that of the man of
Ōsaka,--as in America the man of Chicago is more quickly recognized
than the New Yorker or Bostonian. He has a certain quickness of
perception, ready energy, and general air of being "well up to date,"
or even a little in advance of it, which represent the result of
industrial and commercial intercompetition. At all events, the Ōsaka
merchant or manufacturer has a much longer inheritance of business
experience than his rival of the political capital. Perhaps this may
partly account for the acknowledged superiority of Ōsaka commercial
travelers; a modernized class, offering some remarkable types. While
journeying by rail or steamer you may happen to make the casual
acquaintance of a gentleman whose nationality you cannot safely decide
even after some conversation. He is dressed with the most correct taste
in the latest and best mode; he can talk to you equally well in French,
German, or English; he is perfectly courteous, but able to adapt
himself to the most diverse characters; he knows Europe; and he can
give you extraordinary information about parts of the Far East which
you have visited, and also about other parts of which you do not even
know the names. As for Japan, he is familiar with the special products
of every district, their comparative merits, their history. His face
is pleasing,--nose straight or slightly aquiline,--mouth veiled by
a heavy black moustache: the eye-lids alone give you some right to
suppose that you are conversing with an Oriental. Such is one type of
the Ōsaka commercial traveler of 1896,--a being as far superior to
the average Japanese petty official as a prince to a lackey. Should
you meet the same man in his own city, you would probably find him in
Japanese costume,--dressed as only a man of fine taste can learn how to
dress, and looking rather like a Spaniard or Italian in disguise than a

[Footnote 1: There are upwards of four hundred commercial companies in


From the reputation of Ōsaka as a centre of production and
distribution, one would imagine it the most modernized, the least
characteristically Japanese, of all Japanese cities. But Ōsaka is the
reverse. Fewer Western costumes are to be seen in Ōsaka than in any
other large city of Japan. No crowds are more attractively robed, and
no streets more picturesque, than those of the great mart.

Ōsaka is supposed to set many fashions; and the present ones show an
agreeable tendency to variety, of tint. When I first came to Japan
the dominant colors of male costume were dark,--especially dark blue;
any crowd of men usually presenting a mass of this shade. To-day the
tones are lighter; and greys--warm greys, steel greys, bluish greys,
purplish greys--seem to predominate. But there are also many pleasing
variations,--bronze-colors, gold-browns, "tea-colors," for example.
Women's costumes are of course more varied; but the character of the
fashions for adults of either sex indicates no tendency to abandon the
rules of severe good taste;--gay colors appearing only in the attire
of children and of dancing-girls,--to whom are granted the privileges
of perpetual youth. I may observe that the latest fashion in the silk
upper-dress, or _haori,_ of geisha, is a burning sky--blue,--a tropical
color that makes the profession of the wearer distinguishable miles
away. The higher-class geisha, however, affect sobriety in dress. I
must also speak of the long overcoats or overcloaks worn out-of-doors
in cold weather by both sexes. That of the men looks like an adaptation
and modification of our "ulster," and has a little cape attached to it:
the material is wool, and the color usually light brown or grey. That
of the ladies, which has no cape, is usually of black broadcloth, with
much silk binding, and a collar cut low in front. It is buttoned from
throat to feet, and looks decidedly genteel, though left very wide and
loose at the back to accommodate the bow of the great heavy silk girdle


Architecturally not less than fashionably, Ōsaka remains almost as
Japanese as anybody could wish. Although some wide thoroughfares exist,
most of the streets are very narrow,--even more narrow than those of
Kyōto. There are streets of three-story houses and streets of two-story
houses; but there are square miles of houses one story high. The great
mass of the city is an agglomeration of low wooden buildings with
tiled roofs. Nevertheless the streets are more interesting, brighter,
quainter in their signs and sign-painting, than the streets of Tōkyō;
and the city as a whole is more picturesque than Tōkyō because of its
waterways. It has not inaptly been termed the Venice of Japan; for it
is traversed in all directions by canals, besides being separated into
several large portions by the branchings of the Yodogawa. The streets
facing the river are, however, much less interesting than the narrow

Anything more curious in the shape of a street vista than the view
looking down one of these waterways can scarcely be found in Japan.
Still as a mirror surface, the canal flows between high stone
embankments supporting the houses,--houses of two or three stories, all
sparred out from the stonework so that their façades bodily overhang
the water. They are huddled together in a way suggesting pressure from
behind; and this appearance of squeezing and crowding is strengthened
by the absence of regularity in design,--no house being exactly like
another, but all having an indefinable Far-Eastern queerness,--a sort
of racial character,--that gives the sensation of the very-far-away in
place and time. They push out funny little galleries with balustrades;
barred, projecting, glassless windows with elfish balconies under
them, and rootlets over them like eyebrows; tiers of tiled and tilted
awnings; and great eaves which, in certain hours, throw shadows down
to the foundation. As most of the timber-work is dark,--either with
age or staining,--the shadows look deeper than they really are. Within
them you catch glimpses of balcony pillars, bamboo ladders from gallery
to gallery, polished angles of joinery,--all kinds of jutting things.
At intervals you can see mattings hanging out, and curtains of split
bamboo, and cotton hangings with big white ideographs upon them; and
all this is faithfully repeated upside down in the water. The colors
ought to delight an artist,--umbers and chocolates and chestnut-browns
of old polished timber; warm yellows of mattings and bamboo screens;
creamy tones of stuccoed surfaces; cool greys of tiling.... The last
such vista I saw was bewitched by a spring haze. It was early morning.
Two hundred yards from the bridge on which I stood, the house fronts
began to turn blue; farther on, they were transparently vapory; and
yet farther, they seemed to melt away suddenly into the light,--a
procession of dreams. I watched the progress of a boat propelled by
a peasant in straw hat and straw coat,--like the peasants of the
old picture-books. Boat and man turned bright blue and then grey,
and then, before my eyes,----glided into Nirvana. The notion of
immateriality so created by that luminous haze was supported by the
absence of sound; for these canal-streets are as silent as the streets
of shops are noisy.


No other city in Japan has so many bridges as Ōsaka: wards are named
after them, and distances marked by them,--reckoning always from
Koraibashi, the Bridge of the Koreans, as a centre. Ōsaka people find
their way to any place most readily by remembering the name of the
bridge nearest to it. But as there are one hundred and eighty-nine
principal bridges, this method of reckoning can be of little service
to a stranger. If a business man, he can find whatever he wants
without learning the names of the bridges. Ōsaka is the best-ordered
city, commercially, in the empire, and one of the best-ordered in the
world. It has always been a city of guilds; and the various trades
and industries are congregated still, according to ancient custom, in
special districts or particular streets. Thus all the money-changers
are in Kitahama,--the Lombard Street of Japan; the dry-goods trade
monopolizes Honmachi; the timber merchants are all in Nagabori
and Nishi-Yokobori; the toy-makers are in Minami Kiuhojimachi and
Kita Midōmae; the dealers in metal wares have Andojibashidōri to
themselves; the druggists are in Doshiōmachi, and the cabinet-makers
in Hachimansuji. So with many other trades; and so with the places of
amusement. The theatres are in the Dōtombori; the jugglers, singers,
dancers, acrobats, and fortune-tellers in the Sennichimae, close by.

The central part of Ōsaka contains many very large
buildings,--including theatres, refreshment-houses, and hotels having
a reputation throughout the country. The number of edifices in Western
style is nevertheless remarkably small. There are indeed between
eight and nine hundred factory chimneys; but the factories, with few
exceptions, are not constructed on Western plans. The really "foreign"
buildings include a hotel, a prefectual hall with a mansard roof, a
city hall with a classical porch of granite pillars, a good modern
post-office, a mint, an arsenal, and sundry mills and breweries.
But these are so scattered and situated that they really make no
particular impression at variance with the Far-Eastern character
of the city. However, there is one purely foreign corner,--the old
Concession, dating back to a time before Kobé existed. Its streets
were well laid out, and its buildings solidly constructed; but for
various reasons it has been abandoned to the missionaries,--only one
of the old firms, with perhaps an agency or two, remaining open. This
deserted settlement is an oasis of silence in the great commercial
wilderness.[1] No at-tempts have been made by the native merchants to
imitate its styles of building: indeed, no Japanese city shows less
favor than Ōsaka to Occidental architecture. This is not through want
of appreciation, but because of economical experience. Ōsaka will
build in Western style--with stone, brick, and iron--only when and
where the advantage of so doing is indubitable. There will be no
speculation in such constructions, as there has been at Tōkyō: Ōsaka
"goes slow" and invests upon certainties. When there is a certainty,
her merchants can make remarkable offers,--like that to the government
two years ago of $56,000,000 for the purchase and reconstruction of a
railway. Of all the houses in Osaka, the office of the "Asahi Shimbun"
most surprised me. The "Asahi Shimbun" is the greatest of Japanese
newspapers,--perhaps the greatest journal published in any Oriental
language. It is an illustrated daily, conducted very much like a Paris
newspaper,--publishing a _feuilleton,_ translations from foreign
fiction, and columns of light, witty chatter about current events. It
pays big sums to popular writers, and spends largely for correspondence
and telegraphic news. Its illustrations--now made by a woman--offer as
full a reflection of all phases of Japanese life, old or new, as Punch
gives of English life. It uses perfecting presses, charters special
trains, and has a circulation reaching into most parts of the empire.
So I certainly expected to find the "Asahi Shimbun" office one of
the handsomest buildings in Ōsaka. But it proved to be an old-time
Samurai-yashiki,--about the most quiet and modest-looking place in the
whole district where it was situated.

I must confess that all this sober and sensible conservatism delighted
me. The competitive power of Japan must long depend upon her power to
maintain the old simplicity of life.

[Footnote 1: The foreign legations left Ōsaka to take shelter at
Kobé in 1868, during the civil war; for they could not be very well
protected by their men-of-war in Ōsaka. Kobé once settled, the
advantages offered by its deep harbor settled the fate of the Ōsaka


Ōsaka is the great commercial school of the empire. From all parts of
Japan lads are sent there to learn particular branches of industry
or trade. There are hosts of applications for any vacancy; and the
business men are said to be very cautious in choosing their _detchi,_
or apprentice-clerks. Careful inquiries are made as to the personal
character and family history of applicants. No money is paid by the
parents or relatives of the apprentices. The term of service varies
according to the nature of the trade or industry; but it is generally
quite as long as the term of apprenticeship in Europe; and in some
branches of business it may be from twelve to fourteen years. Such,
I am told, is the time of service usually exacted in the dry goods
business; and the detchi in a dry goods house may have to work fifteen
hours a day, with not more than one holiday a month. During the whole
of his apprenticeship he receives no wages whatever,--nothing but
his board, lodging, and absolutely necessary clothing. His master is
supposed to furnish him with two robes a year, and to keep him in
sandals, or geta. Perhaps on some great holiday he may be presented
with a small gift of pocket money;--but this is not in the bond. When
his term of service ends, however, his master either gives him capital
enough to begin trade for himself on a small scale, or finds some
other way of assisting him substantially,--by credit, for instance.
Many detchi marry their employers' daughters, in which event the young
couple are almost sure of getting a good start in life.

The discipline of these long apprenticeships may be considered a severe
test of character. Though a detchi is never addressed harshly, he has
to bear what no European clerk would bear. He has no leisure,--no time
of his own except the time necessary for sleep; he must work quietly
but steadily from dawn till late in the evening; he must content
himself with the simplest diet, must keep himself neat, and must never
show ill-temper. Wild oats he is not supposed to have, and no chance is
given him to sow them. Some detchi never even leave their shop, night
or day, for months at a time,--sleeping on the same mats where they
sit in business hours. The trained salesmen in the great silk stores
are especially confined within doors,--and their unhealthy pallor is
proverbial. Year after year they squat in the same place, for twelve or
fifteen hours every day; and you wonder why their legs do not fall off,
like those of Daruma.[1]

Occasionally there are moral break-downs. Perhaps a detchi
misappropriates some of the shop money, and spends the same in riotous
living. Perhaps he does even worse. But, whatever the matter may be,
he seldom thinks of running away. If he takes a spree, he hides himself
after it for a day or two;--then returns of his own accord to confess,
and ask pardon. He will be forgiven for two, three, perhaps even four
escapades,--provided that he shows no signs of a really evil heart,
-and be lectured about his weakness in its relation to his prospects,
to the feelings of his family, to the honor of his ancestors, and to
business requirements in general. The difficulties of his position are
kindly considered, and he is never discharged for a small misdemeanor.
A dismissal would probably ruin him for life; and every care is taken
to open his eyes to certain dangers. Ōsaka is really the most unsafe
place in Japan to play the fool in;--its dangerous and vicious classes
are more to be feared than those of the capital; and the daily news of
the great city furnishes the apprentice with terrible examples of men
reduced to poverty or driven to self-destruction through neglect of
those very rules of conduct which it is part of his duty to learn.

In cases where detchi are taken into service at a very early age, and
brought up in the shop almost like adopted sons, a very strong bond
of affection between master and apprentice is sometimes established.
Instances of extraordinary devotion to masters, or members of masters'
households, are often reported. Sometimes the bankrupt merchant is
reëstablished in business by his former clerk. Sometimes, again, the
affection of a detchi may exhibit itself in strange extremes. Last
year there was a curious case. The only son of a merchant--a lad of
twelve--died of cholera during the epidemic. A detchi of fourteen, who
had been much attached to the dead boy, committed suicide shortly after
the funeral by throwing himself down in front of a train. He left a
letter, of which the following is a tolerably close translation,--the
selfish pronouns being absent in the original:

_"Very long time in, august help received;--honorable mercy even, not
in words to be declared. Now going to die, unfaithful in excess;--yet
another state in, making rebirth, honorable mercy will repay. Spirit
anxious only in the matter of little sister O-Noto;--with humble
salutation, that she be honorably seen to, supplicate._

_"To the August Lord Master,_



[Footnote 1: In Japanese popular legend, Daruma (Bodhidharma), the
great Buddhist patriarch and missionary, is said to have lost his legs
during a meditation which lasted uninterruptedly for nine years. A
common child's toy is a comical figure of Daruma, without legs, and so
weighted within that, no matter how thrown down, it will always assume
an upright position.]


It is not true that Old Japan is rapidly disappearing. It cannot
disappear within at least another hundred years; perhaps it will never
entirely disappear. Many curious and beautiful things have vanished;
but Old Japan survives in art, in faith, in customs and habits, in
the hearts and the homes of the people: it may be found everywhere
by those who know how to look for it,--and nowhere more easily than
in this great city of ship-building, watch-making, beer-brewing, and
cotton-spinning. I confess that I went to Ōsaka chiefly to see the
temples, especially the famous Tennōji.

Tennōji, or, more correctly, Shitennōji, the Temple of the Four Deva
Kings,[1] is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Japan. It was
founded early in the seventh century by Umayado-no-Oji, now called
Shōtoku Taishi, son of the Emperor Yōmei, and prince regent under the
Empress Suiko (572-621 A. D.). He has been well called the Constantine
of Japanese Buddhism; for he decided the future of Buddhism in the
Empire, first by a great battle in the reign of his father, Yomei
Tennō, and afterwards by legal enactments and by the patronage of
Buddhist learning. The previous Emperor, Bitatsu Tennō, had permitted
the preaching of Buddhism by Korean priests, and had built two temples.
But under the reign of Yomei, one Mononobé no Moriya, a powerful
noble, and a bitter opponent of the foreign religion, rebelled against
such tolerance, burned the temples, banished the priests, and offered
battle to the imperial forces. These, tradition says, were being driven
back when the Emperor's son--then only sixteen years old--vowed if
victorious to build a temple to the Four Deva Kings. Instantly at his
side in the fight there towered a colossal figure from before whose
face the powers of Moriya broke and fled away. The rout of the enemies
of Buddhism was complete and terrible; and the young prince, thereafter
called Shōtoku Taishi, kept his vow. The temple of Tennōji was built,
and the wealth of the rebel Moriya applied to its maintenance. In that
part of it called the Kondō, or Hall of Gold, Shōtoku Taishi enshrined
the first Buddhist image ever brought to Japan,--a figure of Nyo-i-rin
Kwannon, or Kwannon of the Circle of Wishes,--and the statue is still
shown to the public on certain festival days. The tremendous apparition
in the battle is said to have been one of the Four Kings,--Bishamon
(Vaisravana), worshiped to this day as a giver of victory.

The sensation received on passing out of the bright, narrow,
busy streets of shops into the mouldering courts of Tennōji is
indescribable. Even for a Japanese I imagine it must be like a
sensation of the supernatural,--a return in memory to the life of
twelve hundred years ago, to the time of the earliest Buddhist mission
work in Japan. Symbols of the faith, that elsewhere had become for
me conventionally familiar, here seemed but half familiar, exotic,
prototypal; and things never before seen gave me the startling
notion of a time and place out of existing life. As a matter of fact,
very little remains of the original structure of the temple; parts
have been burned, parts renovated. But the impression is still very
peculiar, because the rebuilders and the renovators always followed
the original plans, made by some great Korean or Chinese architect.
Any attempt to write of the antique aspect, the queer melancholy
beauty of the place, would be hopeless. To know what Tennōji is, one
must see the weirdness of its decay,--the beautiful neutral tones of
old timbers, the fading spectral greys and yellows of wall-surfaces,
the eccentricities of disjointing, the extraordinary carvings under
eaves,--carvings of waves and clouds and dragons and demons, once
splendid with lacquer and gold, now time-whitened to the tint of smoke,
and looking as if about to curl away like smoke and vanish. The most
remarkable of these carvings belong to a fantastic five-storied pagoda,
now ruinous: nearly all the brazen wind-bells suspended to the angles
of its tiers of roofs have fallen. Pagoda and temple proper occupy a
quadrangular court surrounded by an open cloister. Beyond are other
courts, a Buddhist school, and an immense pond peopled by tortoises and
crossed by a massive stone bridge. There are statues and stone lamps
and lions and an enormous temple-drum;--there are booths for the sale
of toys and oddities;--there are resting-places where tea is served,
and cake-stands where you can buy cakes for the tortoises or for a pet
deer, which approaches the visitor, bowing its sleek head to beg. There
is a two-storied gateway guarded by huge images of the Ni-Ō,--Ni-Ō
with arms and legs muscled like the limbs of kings in the Assyrian
sculptures, and bodies speckled all over with little balls of white
paper spat upon them by the faithful. There is another gateway whose
chambers are empty;--perhaps they once contained images of the Four
Deva Kings. There are ever so many curious things; but I shall only
venture to describe two or three of my queerest experiences.

First of all, I found the confirmation of a certain suspicion that had
come to me as I entered the temple precincts,--the suspicion that the
forms of worship were peculiar as the buildings. I can give no reason
for this feeling; I can only say that, immediately after passing the
outer gate, I had a premonition of being about to see the extraordinary
in religion as well as in architecture. And I presently saw it in the
bell-tower,--a two-story Chinese-looking structure, where there is
a bell called the Indō-no-Kane, or Guiding-Bell, because its sounds
guide the ghosts of children through the dark. The lower chamber of
the bell-tower is fitted up as a chapel. At the first glance I noticed
only that a Buddhist service was going on; I saw tapers burning, the
golden glimmer of a shrine, incense smoking, a priest at prayer,
women and children kneeling. But as I stopped for a moment before the
entrance to observe the image in the shrine, I suddenly became aware
of the unfamiliar, the astonishing. On shelves and stands at either
side of the shrine, and above it and below it and beyond it, were
ranged hundreds of children's ihai, or mortuary tablets, and with
them thousands of toys; little dogs and horses and cows, and warriors
and drums and trumpets, and pasteboard armor and wooden swords, and
dolls and kites and masks and monkeys, and models of boats, and baby
tea-sets and baby-furniture, and whirligigs and comical images of the
Gods of Good Fortune,--toys modern and toys of fashion forgotten,--toys
accumulated through centuries,--toys of whole generations of dead
children. From the ceiling, and close to the entrance, hung down a
great heavy bell-rope, nearly four inches in diameter and of many
colors,--the rope of the Indō-Kané. _And that rope was made of the bibs
of dead children,--_yellow, blue, scarlet, purple bibs, and bibs of
all intermediate shades. The ceiling itself was invisible,--hidden from
view by hundreds of tiny dresses suspended,--dresses of dead children.
Little boys and girls, kneeling or playing on the matting beside the
priest, had brought toys with them, to be deposited in the chapel,
before the tablet of some lost brother or sister. Every moment some
bereaved father or mother would come to the door, pull the bell-rope,
throw some copper money on the matting, and make a prayer. Each time
the bell sounds, some little ghost is believed to hear,--perhaps even
to find its way back for one more look at loved toys and faces. The
plaintive murmur of _Namu Amida Butsu;_ the clanging of the bell; the
deep humming of the priest's voice, reciting the Sutras; the tinkle
of falling coin; the sweet, heavy smell of incense; the passionless
golden beauty of the Buddha in his shrine; the colorific radiance of
the toys; the shadowing of the baby-dresses; the variegated wonder of
that bell-rope of bibs; the happy laughter of the little folk at play
on the floor,--all made for me an experience of weird pathos never to
be forgotten.


Not far from the bell-tower is another curious building, which shelters
a sacred spring. In the middle of the floor is an opening, perhaps ten
feet long by eight wide, surrounded by a railing. Looking down over
the railing, you see, in the dimness below, a large stone basin, into
which water is pouring from the mouth of a great stone tortoise, black
with age, and only half visible,--its hinder part reaching back into
the darkness under the floor. This water is called the Spring of the
Tortoise,--Kamé-i-Sui. The basin into which it flows is more than half
full of white paper,--countless slips of white paper, each bearing in
Chinese text the kaimyō, or Buddhist posthumous name of a dead person.
In a matted recess of the building sits a priest who for a small fee
writes the kaimyō. The purchaser--relative or friend of the dead--puts
one end of the written slip into the mouth of a bamboo cup, or rather
bamboo joint, fixed at right angles to the end of a long pole. By aid
of this pole he lowers the paper, with the written side up, to the
mouth of the tortoise, and holds it under the gush of water,--repeating
a Buddhist invocation the while,--till it is washed out into the basin.
When I visited the spring there was a dense crowd; and several kaimyō
were being held under the mouth of the tortoise;--numbers of pious
folk meantime waiting, with papers in their hands, for a chance to use
the poles. The murmuring of _Namu Amida Butsu_ was itself like the
sound of rushing water. I was told that the basin becomes filled with
kaimyō every few days;--then it is emptied, and the papers burned. If
this be true, it is a remarkable proof of the force of Buddhist faith
in this busy commercial city; for many thousands of such slips of
paper would be needed to fill the basin. It is said that the water
bears the names of the dead and the prayers of the living to Shōtoku
Taishi, who uses his powers of intercession with Amida on behalf of the

In the chapel called the Taishi-Dō there are statues of Shōtoku Taishi
and his attend-ants. The figure of the prince, seated upon a chair
of honor, is life-size and colored; he is attired in the fashion of
twelve hundred years ago, wearing a picturesque cap, and Chinese or
Korean shoes with points turned up. One may see the same costume in the
designs upon very old porcelains or very old screens. But the face,
in spite of its drooping Chinese moustaches, is a typical Japanese
face,--dignified, kindly, passionless. I turned from the faces of the
statues to the faces of the people about me to see the same types,--to
meet the same quiet, half-curious, inscrutable gaze.


In powerful contrast to the ancient structures of Tennōji are the vast
Nishi and Higashi Hongwanji, almost exact counterparts of the Nishi
and Higashi Hongwanji of Tokyo. Nearly every great city of Japan has
a pair of such Hongwanji (Temples of the True Vow)--one belonging to
the Western (Nishi), the other to the Eastern (Higashi) branch of
this great Shin sect, founded in the thirteenth century.[2] Varying
in dimension according to the wealth and religious importance of the
locality, but usually built upon the same general plan, they may be
said to represent the most modern and the most purely Japanese form of
Buddhist architecture,--immense, dignified, magnificent.

But they likewise represent the almost protestant severity of the
rite in regard to symbols, icons, and external forms. Their plain
and ponderous gates are never guarded by the giant Ni-Ō;--there is
no swarming of dragons and demons under their enormous eaves;--no
golden hosts of Buddhas or Bodhisattvas rise, rank on rank, by tiers of
aureoles, through the twilight of their sanctuaries;--no curious or
touching witnesses of grateful faith are ever suspended from their high
ceilings, or hung before their altars, or fastened to the gratings of
their doorways;--they contain no ex-votos, no paper knots recording
prayer, no symbolic image but one,--and that usually small,--the figure
of Amida. Probably the reader knows that the Hongwanji sect represents
a movement in Buddhism not altogether unlike that which Unitarianism
represents in Liberal Christianity. In its rejection of celibacy and of
all ascetic practices; its prohibition of charms, divinations, votive
offerings, and even of all prayer excepting prayer for salvation; its
insistence upon industrious effort as the duty of life; its maintenance
of the sanctity of marriage as a religious bond; its doctrine of one
eternal Buddha as Father and Saviour; its promise of Paradise after
death as the immediate reward of a good life; and, above all, in its
educational zeal,--the religion of the "Sect of the Pure Land" may
be justly said to have much in common with the progressive forms of
Western Christianity, and it has certainly won the respect of the
few men of culture who find their way into the missionary legion.
Judged by its wealth, its respectability, and its antagonism to the
grosser forms of Buddhist superstition, it might be supposed the least
emotional of all forms of Buddhism. But in some respects it is probably
the most emotional. No other Buddhist sect can make such appeals to
the faith and love of the common people as those which brought into
being the amazing Eastern Hongwanji temple of Kyoto. Yet while able
to reach the simplest minds by special methods of doctrinal teaching,
the Hongwanji cult can make equally strong appeal to the intellectual
classes by reason of its scholarship. Not a few of its priests are
graduates of the leading universities of the West; and some have won
European reputations in various departments of Buddhist learning.
Whether the older Buddhist sects are likely to dwindle away before the
constantly increasing power of the Shinshū is at least an interesting
question. Certainly the latter has everything in its favor,--imperial
recognition, wealth, culture, and solidity of organization. On the
other hand, one is tempted to doubt the efficacy of such advantages
in a warfare against habits of thought and feeling older by many
centuries than Shinshū. Perhaps the Occident furnishes a precedent on
which to base predictions. Remembering how strong Roman Catholicism
remains to-day, how little it has changed since the days of Luther, how
impotent our progressive creeds to satisfy the old spiritual hunger
for some visible object of worship,--something to touch, or put close
to the heart,--it becomes difficult to believe that the iconolatry
of the more ancient Buddhist sects will not continue for hundreds of
years to keep a large place in popular affection. Again, it is worthy
of remark that one curious obstacle to the expansion of the Shinshū
is to be found in a very deeply rooted race feeling on the subject of
self-sacrifice. Although much corruption undoubtedly exists in the
older sects,--although numbers of their priests do not even pretend
to observe the vows regarding diet and celibacy,[3]--the ancient
ideals are by no means dead; and the majority of Japanese Buddhists
still disapprove of the relatively pleasurable lives of the Shinshū
priesthood. In some of the remoter provinces, where Shinshū is viewed
with especial disfavor, one may often hear children singing a naughty
song (_Shinshū bozu e mon da!),_ which might thus be freely rendered:--.

    Shinshū priest to be,
    --What a nice thing!
    Wife has, child has,
    Good fish eats.

It reminded me of those popular criticisms of Buddhist conduct uttered
in the time of the Buddha himself, and so often recorded in the Vinaya
texts,--almost like a refrain:--

"_Then the people were annoyed; and they murmured and complained,
saying: 'These act like men who are still enjoying the pleasures of
this world!' And they told the thing to the Blessed One._"

Besides Tennōji, Osaka has many famous temples, both Buddhist and
Shinto, with very ancient histories. Of such is Kōzu-no-yashiro, where
the people pray to the spirit of Nintoku,--most beloved in memory
of all Japanese emperors. He had a palace on the same hill where his
shrine now stands; and this site--whence a fine view of the city can be
obtained--is the scene of a pleasing legend preserved in the Kojiki:--

    "Thereupon the Heavenly Sovereign, ascending a lofty
    mountain and looking on the land all round, spoke,
    saying:--'In the whole land there rises no smoke; the
    land is all poverty-stricken. So I remit all the people's
    taxes and forced labor from now till three years hence.'
    Thereupon the great palace became dilapidated, and the
    rain leaked in everywhere; but no repairs were made. The
    rain that leaked in was caught in troughs, and the inmates
    removed to places where there was no leakage. When later
    the Heavenly Sovereign looked upon the land, the smoke was
    abundant in the land. So, finding the people rich, he now
    exacted taxes and forced labor. Therefore the peasantry
    prospered, and did not suffer from the forced labor. So, in
    praise of that august reign, it was called the Reign of the

That was fifteen hundred years ago. Now, could the good Emperor see,
from his shrine of Kōzu,--as thousands must believe he does,--the smoke
of modern Osaka, he might well think, "My people are becoming too rich."

Outside of the city there is a still more famous Shintō temple,
Sumiyoshi, dedicated to certain sea-gods who aided the Empress Jingō
to conquer Korea. At Sumiyoshi there are pretty child-priestesses,
and beautiful grounds, and an enormous pond spanned by a bridge so
humped that, to cross it without taking off your shoes, you must cling
to the parapet. At Sakai there is the Buddhist temple of Myōkokuji,
in the garden of which are some very old palm-trees;--one of them,
removed by Nobunaga in the sixteenth century, is said to have cried
out and lamented until it was taken back to the temple. You see the
ground under these palms covered with what looks like a thick, shiny,
disordered mass of fur,--half reddish and half silvery grey. It is not
fur. It is a heaping of millions of needles thrown there by pilgrims
"to feed the palms," because these trees are said to love iron and to
be strengthened by absorbing its rust.

Speaking of trees, I may mention the Naniwaya "Kasa-matsu," or
Hat-Pine,--not so much because it is an extraordinary tree as because
it supports a large family who keep a little tea-house on the road
to Sakai. The branches of the tree have been trained out-wards and
downwards over a framework of poles, so that the whole presents the
appearance of an enormous green hat of the shape worn by peasants and
called Kasa. The pine is scarcely six feet high, but covers perhaps
twenty square yards;--its trunk, of course, not being visible at all
from outside the framework supporting the branches. Many people visit
the house to look at the pine and drink a cup of tea; and nearly every
visitor buys some memento of it,--perhaps a woodcut of the tree, or
a printed copy of verses written by some poet in praise of it, or a
girl's hairpin, the top of which is a perfect little green model ox
the tree,--framework of poles and all,--with one tiny stork perched on
it, The owners of the Naniwaya, as their tea-house is called, are not
only able to make a good living, but to educate their children, by the
exhibition of this tree, and the sale of such mementos.


I do not intend to tax my reader's patience by descriptions of the
other famous temples of Ōsaka,--several of which are enormously old,
and have most curious legends attached to them. But I may venture a
few words about the cemetery of the Temple of One Soul,--or better,
perhaps, the Temple of a Single Mind: Isshinji. The monuments there are
the most extraordinary I ever saw. Near the main gate is the tomb of
a wrestler,--Asahigorō Hachirō. His name is chiseled upon a big disk
of stone, probably weighing a ton; and this disk is supported on the
back of a stone image of a wrestler,--a grotesque figure, with gilded
eyes starting from their sockets, and features apparently distorted
by effort. It is a very queer thing,--half-comical, half-furious of
aspect. Close by is the tomb of one Hirayama Hanibei,--a monument
shaped like a _hyōtan,--_that is to say, like a wine-gourd such as
travelers use for carrying saké. The most usual form of _hyōtan_
resembles that of an hour-glass, except that the lower part is
somewhat larger than the upper; and the vessel can only stand upright
when full or partly full,--so that in a Japanese song the wine-lover is
made to say to his gourd, "_With you I fall._" Apparently the mighty
to drink wine have a district all to themselves in this cemetery; for
there are several other monuments of like form in the same row,--also
one shaped like a very large saké-bottle (_isshōdokkuri_),[5] on which
is inscribed a verse not taken from the sutras. But the oddest monument
of all is a great stone badger, sitting upright, and seeming to strike
its belly with its fore-paws. On the belly is cut a name, Inouyé
Dennosuké, together with the verse:--

    Tsuki yo yoshi
    Nembutsu tonaite
    Hara tsudzumi.

Which means about as follows:--"On fine moonlight-nights, repeating
the Nembutsu, I play the belly-drum." The flower-vases are in the form
of saké-bottles. Artificial rock-work supports the monument; and here
and there, among the rocks, are smaller figures of badgers, dressed
like Buddhist priests (tanuki-bozu). My readers probably know that
the Japanese tanuki[6] is credited with the power of assuming human
shape, and of making musical sounds like the booming of a hand-drum
by tapping upon its belly. It is said often to disguise itself as
a Buddhist priest for mischievous purposes, and to be very fond of
saké. Of course, such images in a cemetery represent nothing more than
eccentricities, and are judged to be in bad taste. One is reminded
of certain jocose paintings and inscriptions upon Greek and Roman
tombs, expressing in regard to death--or rather in regard to life--a
sentiment, or an affectation of sentiment, repellent to modern feeling.

[Footnote 1: They defend the four quarters of the world. In Japanese
their names are Jikoku, Komoku, Zocho, Bishamon (or Tamon);--in
Sanscrit, Dhritarashtra, Virupaksha, Virudhaka, and Vaisravana,--the
Kuvera of, Brahmanism.]

[Footnote 2: The division of the sect during the seventeenth century
into two branches had a political, not a religious cause; and the
sections remain religiously united. Their abbots are of Imperial
descent, whence their title of Monzeki, or Imperial Offspring.
Travelers may observe that the walls inclosing the temple grounds of
this sect bear the same decorative mouldings as those of the walls of
the Imperial residences.]

[Footnote 3: This has been especially the case since the abrogation of
the civil laws forbidding priests to marry. The wives of the priests
of other sects than the Shinshū are called by a humorous and not very
respectful appellation.]

[Footnote 4: See Professor Chamberlain's translation of the Kojiki,
section CXXI.]

[Footnote 5: That is, a bottle containing one sho,--about a quart and a

[Footnote 6: Although _tanuki_ is commonly translated by "badger," the
creature so called is not a real badger, but a kind of fruit-fox. It is
also termed the "raccoon-faced dog." The true badger is, however, also
found in Japan.]


I said in a former essay that a Japanese city is little more than a
wilderness of wooden sheds, and Ōsaka is no exception. But interiorly
a very large number of the frail wooden dwellings of any Japanese city
are works of art; and perhaps no city possesses more charming homes
than Ōsaka. Kyoto is, indeed, much richer in gardens,--there being
comparatively little space for gardens in Ōsaka; but I am speaking of
the houses only. Exteriorly a Japanese street may appear little better
than a row of wooden barns or stables, but the interior of any dwelling
in it may be a wonder of beauty. Usually the outside of a Japanese
house is not at all beautiful, though it may have a certain pleasing
oddity of form; and in many cases the walls of the rear or sides are
covered with charred boards, of which the blackened and hardened
surfaces are said to resist heat and damp better than any coating of
paint or stucco could do. Except, perhaps, the outside of a coal-shed,
nothing dingier-looking could be imagined. But the other side of the
black walls may be an aesthetic delight. The comparative cheapness of
the residence does not much affect this possibility;--for the Japanese
excel all nations in obtaining the maximum of beauty with the minimum
of cost; while the most industrially advanced of Western peoples--the
practical Americans--have yet only succeeded in obtaining the minimum
of beauty with the maximum of cost! Much about Japanese interiors can
be learned from Morse's "Japanese Homes;" but even that admirable
book gives only the black-and-white notion of the subject; and more
than half of the charm of such interiors is the almost inexplicable
caress of color. To illustrate Mr. Morse's work so as to interpret the
colorific charm would be a dearer and a more difficult feat than the
production of Racinet's "Costumes Historique." Even thus the subdued
luminosity, the tone of perfect repose, the revelations of delicacy
and daintiness waiting the eye in every nook of chambers seemingly
contrived to catch and keep the feeling of perpetual summer, would
remain unguessed. Five years ago I wrote that a little acquaintance
with the Japanese art of flower arrangement had made it impossible for
me to endure the sight of that vulgarity, or rather brutality, which in
the West we call a "bouquet." To-day I must add that familiarity with
Japanese interiors has equally disgusted me with Occidental interiors,
no matter how spacious or comfortable or richly furnished. Returning
now to Western life, I should feel like Thomas-the-Rhymer revisiting a
world of ugliness and sorrow after seven years of fairyland.

It is possible, as has been alleged (though I cannot believe it),
that Western artists have little more to learn from the study of
Japanese pictorial art. But I am quite sure that our house-builders
have universes of facts to learn--especially as regards the treatment
and tinting of surfaces--from the study of Japanese interiors. Whether
the countless styles of these interiors can even be classed appears
to me a doubtful question. I do not think that in a hundred thousand
Japanese houses there are two interiors precisely alike (excluding,
of course, the homes of the poorest classes),--for the designer never
repeats himself when he can help it. The lesson he has to teach is the
lesson of perfect taste combined with inexhaustible variety. Taste!
--what a rare thing it is in our Western world!--and how independent of
material,--how intuitive,--how incommunicable to the vulgar! But taste
is a Japanese birthright. It is everywhere present,--though varying
in quality of development according to conditions and the inheritance
depending upon conditions. The average Occidental recognizes only
the commoner forms of it,--chiefly those made familiar by commercial
export. And, as a general rule, what the West most admires in Japanese
conventional taste is thought rather vulgar in Japan. Not that we are
wrong in admiring whatever is beautiful in itself. Even the designs
printed in tints upon a two-cent towel may be really great pictures:
they are sometimes made by excellent artists. But the aristocratic
severity of the best Japanese taste--the exquisite complexity of
its refinements in the determination of proportion, quality, tone,
restraint--has never yet been dreamed of by the West. Nowhere is this
taste so finely exhibited as in private interiors,--particularly in
regard to color. The rules of color in the composition of a set of
rooms are not less exacting: than the rules of color in the matter of
dress,--though permitting considerable variety. The mere tones of a
private house are enough to indicate its owner's degree of culture.
There is no painting, no varnishing, no wall-papering,--only staining
and polishing of particular parts, and a sort of paper border about
fifteen inches broad fixed along the bottom of a wall to protect it
during cleaning and dusting operations. The plastering may be made
with sands of different hues, or with fragments of shell and nacre, or
with quartz-crystal, or with mica; the surface may imitate granite,
or may sparkle like copper pyrites, or may look exactly like a rich
mass of bark; but, whatever the material, the tint given must show the
same faultless taste that rules in the tints of silks for robes and
girdles. ... As yet, all this interior world of beauty--just because it
is an interior world--is closed to the foreign tourist: he can find at
most only suggestions of it in the rooms of such old-fashioned inns or
tea-houses as he may visit in the course of his travels.


I wonder how many foreign travelers understand the charm of a Japanese
inn, or even think how much is done to please them, not merely in
the matter of personal attentions, but in making beauty for their
eyes. Multitudes write of their petty vexations,--their personal
acquaintance with fleas, their personal dislikes and discomforts;
but how many write of the charm of that alcove where every day fresh
flowers are placed,--arranged as no European florist could ever learn
to arrange flowers,--and where there is sure to be some object of real
art, whether in bronze, lacquer, or porcelain, together with a picture
suited to the feeling of the time and season? These little aesthetic
gratifications, though never charged for, ought to be kindly remembered
when the gift of "tea-money" is made. I have been in hundreds of
Japanese hotels, and I remember only one in which I could find nothing
curious or pretty,--a ramshackle shelter hastily put up to catch custom
at a newly-opened railway station.

A word about the alcove of my room in Osaka:--The wall was covered
only with a mixture of sand and metallic filings of some sort, but
it looked like a beautiful surface of silver ore. To the pillar was
fastened a bamboo cup containing a pair of exquisite blossoming sprays
of wistaria,--one pink and the other white. The kakemono--made with a
few very bold strokes by a master-brush--pictured two enormous crabs
about to fight after vainly trying to get out of each other's way;--and
the humor of the thing was enhanced by a few Chinese characters
signifying, _Wōko-sékai,_ or, "Everything goes crookedly in this world."


My last day in Ōsaka was given to shopping,--chiefly in the districts
of the toy-makers and of the silk merchants. A Japanese acquaintance,
himself a shopkeeper, took me about, and showed me extraordinary things
until my eyes ached. We went to a famous silk-house,--a tumultuous
place, so crowded that we had some trouble to squeeze our way to the
floor-platform, which, in every Japanese shop, serves at once for
chairs and counter. Scores of barefooted light-limbed boys were running
over it, bearing bundles of merchandise to customers;--for in such
shops there is no shelving of stock. The Japanese salesman never leaves
his squatting-place on the mats; but, on learning what you want, he
shouts an order, and boys presently run to you with armfuls of samples.
After you have made your choice, the goods are rolled up again by the
boys, and carried back into the fire-proof storehouses behind the shop.
At the time of our visit, the greater part of the matted floor-space
was one splendid shimmering confusion of tossed silks and velvets of a
hundred colors and a hundred prices. Near the main entrance an elderly
superintendent, plump and jovial of aspect like the God of Wealth,
looked after arriving customers. Two keen-eyed men, standing upon an
elevation in the middle of the shop, and slowly turning round and round
in opposite directions, kept watch for thieves; and other watchers were
posted at the side--doors. (Japanese shop-thieves, by the way, are very
clever; and I am told that nearly every large store loses considerably
by them in the course of the year.) In a side-wing of the building,
under a low skylight, I saw busy ranks of bookkeepers, cashiers, and
correspondents squatting before little desks less than two feet high.
Each of the numerous salesmen was attending to many customers at
once. The rush of business was big; and the rapidity with which the
work was being done testified to the excellence of the organization
established. I asked how many persons the firm employed, and my friend

"Probably about two hundred here; there are several branch houses. In
this shop the work is very hard; but the working-hours are shorter than
in most of the silk-houses,--not more than twelve hours a day."

"What about salaries?" I inquired.

"No salaries."

"Is all the work of this firm done without pay?"

"Perhaps one or two of the very cleverest salesmen may get
something,--not exactly a salary, but a little special remuneration
every month; and the old superintendent--(he has been forty years in
the house)--gets a salary. The rest get nothing but their food."

"Good food?"

"No, very cheap, coarse food. After a man has served his time
here,--fourteen or fifteen years,--he may be helped to open a small
store of his own."

"Are the conditions the same in all the shops of Osaka?"

"Yes,--everywhere the same. But now many of the detchi are graduates
of commercial schools. Those sent to a commercial school begin their
apprenticeship much later; and they are said not to make such good
detchi as those taught from childhood."

"A Japanese clerk in a foreign store is much better off."

"We do not think so," answered my friend very positively. "Some who
speak English well, and have learned the foreign way of doing business,
may get fifty or sixty dollars a month for seven or eight hours' work
a day. But they are not treated the same way as they are treated in
a Japanese house. Clever men do not like to work under foreigners.
Foreigners used to be very cruel to their Japanese clerks and servants."

"But not now?" I queried.

"Perhaps not often. They have found that it is dangerous. But they
used to beat and kick them. Japanese think it shameful to even speak
unkindly to detchi or servants. In a house like this there is no
unkindness. The owners and the superintendents never speak roughly. You
see how very hard all these men and boys are working without pay. No
foreigner could get Japanese to work like that, even for big wages. I
have worked in foreign houses, and I know."


It is not exaggeration to say that most of the intelligent service
rendered in Japanese trade and skilled industry is unsalaried. Perhaps
one third of the business work of the country is done without wages;
the relation between master and servant being one of perfect trust on
both sides, and absolute obedience being assured by the simplest of
moral conditions. This fact was the fact most deeply impressed upon me
during my stay in Osaka.

I found myself wondering about it while the evening train to Nara was
bearing me away from the cheery turmoil of the great metropolis. I
continued to think of it while watching the deepening of the dusk over
the leagues of roofs,--over the mustering of factory chimneys forever
sending up their offering of smoke to the shrine of good Nintoku.
Suddenly above the out-twinkling of countless lamps,--above the white
star-points of electric lights,--above the growing dusk itself,--I
saw, rising glorified into the last red splendor of sunset, the
marvelous old pagoda of Tennōji. And I asked myself whether the faith
it symbolized had not helped to create that spirit of patience and love
and trust upon which have been founded all the wealth and energy and
power of the mightiest city of Japan.



Perhaps only a Japanese representative of the older culture could fully
inform us to what degree the mental soil of the race has been saturated
and fertilized by Buddhist idealism. At all events, no European could
do so; for to understand the whole relation of Far-Eastern religion
to Far-Eastern life would require, not only such scholarship, but
also such experience as no European could gain in a lifetime. Yet
for even the Western stranger there are everywhere signs of what
Buddhism has been to Japan in the past. All the arts and most of the
industries repeat Buddhist legends to the eye trained in symbolism;
and there is scarcely an object of handiwork possessing any beauty or
significance of form--from the plaything of a child to the heirloom
of a prince--which does not in some way proclaim the ancient debt to
Buddhism of the craft that made it. One may discern Buddhist thoughts
in the cheap cotton prints from an Osaka mill not less than in the
figured silks of Kyoto. The reliefs upon an iron kettle, or the
elephant-heads of bronze making the handles of a shopkeeper's _hibachi_
the patterns of screen-paper, or the commonest ornamental woodwork
of a gateway--the etchings upon a metal pipe, or the enameling upon
a costly vase,--may all relate, with equal eloquence, the traditions
of faith. There are reflections or echoes of Buddhist teaching in the
composition of a garden;--in the countless ideographs of the long
vistas of shop-signs;--in the wonderfully expressive names given to
certain fruits and flowers;--in the appellations of mountains, capes,
waterfalls, villages,--even of modern railway stations. And the new
civilization would not yet seem to have much affected the influence
thus manifested. Trains and steamers now yearly carry to famous shrines
more pilgrims than visited them ever before in a twelvemonth;--the
temple bells still, in despite of clocks and watches, mark the
passing of time for the millions;--the speech of the people is still
poetized with Buddhist utterances;--literature and drama still teem
with Buddhist expressions;--and the most ordinary voices of the
street--songs of children playing, a chorus of laborers at their toil,
even cries of itinerant street-venders--often recall to me some story
of saints and Bodhisattvas, or the text of some sutra.

Such an experience first gave me the idea of making a collection of
songs containing Buddhist expressions or allusions. But in view of
the extent of the subject I could not at once decide where to begin.
A bewildering variety of Japanese songs--a variety of which the mere
nomenclature would occupy pages--offers material of this description.
Among noteworthy kinds may be mentioned the _Utai,_ dramatic songs,
mostly composed by high priests, of which probably no ten lines are
without some allusion to Buddhism;--the _Naga-uta,_ songs often of
extraordinary length;--and the _Jōruri,_ whole romances in verse, with
which professional singers can delight their audiences for five or six
hours at a time. The mere dimension of such compositions necessarily
excluded them from my plan; but there remained a legion of briefer
forms to choose among. I resolved at last to limit my undertaking
mainly to _dodoitsu_,--little songs of twenty-six syllables only,
arranged in four lines (7, 7, 7, 5). They are more regular in
construction than the street-songs treated of in a former paper; but
they are essentially popular, and therefore more widely representative
of Buddhist influences than many superior kinds of composition could
be. Out of a very large number collected for me, I have selected
between forty and fifty as typical of the class.


Perhaps those pieces which reflect the ideas of preëxistence and of
future rebirths will prove especially interesting to the Western
reader,--much less because of poetical worth than because of
comparative novelty. We have very little English verse of any class
containing fancies of this kind; but they swarm in Japanese poetry
even as commonplaces and conventionalisms. Such an exquisite thing
as Rossetti's "Sudden Light,"--bewitching us chiefly through the
penetrative subtlety of a thought anathematized by all our orthodoxies
for eighteen hundred years,--could interest a Japanese only as the
exceptional rendering, by an Occidental, of fancies and feelings
familiar to the most ignorant peasant. Certainly no one will be able to
find in these Japanese verses--or, rather, in my own wretchedly prosy
translations of them--even a hint of anything like the ghostly delicacy
of Rossetti's imagining:--

        I have been here before,--
          But when or how I cannot tell:
        I know the grass beyond the door,
          The sweet, keen smell,
    The sighing sound, the lights along the shore.

        You have been mine before,--
          How long ago I may not know:
        But just when at that swallow's soar
          Your neck turned so,
    Some veil did fall,--I knew it all of yore.

Yet what a queer _living_ difference between such enigmatically
delicate handling of thoughts classed as forbidden fruit in the Western
Eden of Dreams and the every-day Japanese utterances that spring
directly out of ancient Eastern faith!--

    _Love, it is often said, has nothing to do with reason._
    _The cause of ours must be some_ En _in a previous birth._[1]

[Footnote 1:

    Iro wa shian no
    Hoka to-wa iédo,
    Koré mo saki-sho no
          En de arō.

"En" is a Buddhist word signifying affinity,--relation of cause and
effect from life to life.]

    _Even the knot of the rope tying our boats together_
    _Knotted was long ago by some love in a former birth._

    _If the touching even of sleeves be through En of a former
    _Very much deeper must be the_ En _that unites us now!_[2]

[Footnote 2:

    Sodé suri-ō no mo
    Tashō no en yo,
    Mashité futari ga
          Fukai naka.

Allusion is here made to the old Buddhist proverb: _Sodé no furi-awasé
mo tashō no en,--_"Even the touching of sleeves in passing is caused by
some affinity operating from former lives."]

    Kwahō[3] _this life must be,--this dwelling with one so tender;_
    _--I am reaping now the reward of deeds in a former birth!_

[Footnote 3: The Buddhist word "Kwahō" is commonly used instead of
other synonyms for Karma (such as ingwa, innen, etc.), to signify the
good, rather than the bad results of action in previous lives. But it
is sometimes used in both meanings. Here there seems to be an allusion
to the proverbial expression, _Kwahō no yoi hito_ (lit.: a person of
good Kwahō), meaning a fortunate individual.]

Many songs of this class refer to the customary vow which lovers
make to belong to each other for more lives than one,--a vow perhaps
originally inspired by the Buddhist aphorism,--

    _Oya-ko wa, is-sé;_
    _Fūfu wa, ni-sé;_
    _Shujū wa, san-zé._

"The relation of parent and child is for one life; that of wife and
husband, for two lives; that of master and servant, for three lives."
Although the tender relation is thus limited to the time of two lives,
the vow--(as Japanese dramas testify, and as the letters of those who
kill themselves for love bear witness)--is often passionately made
for seven. The following selections show a considerable variety of
tone,--ranging from the pathetic to the satirical,--in the treatment of
this topic:

    _I have cut my hair for his sake; but the deeper relation between us_
    _Cannot be cut in this, nor yet in another life._[4]

[Footnote 4:

    Kami wa kitté mo
    Ni-sé made kaketa
    Fukai enishi wa
        Kiru mono ka?

Literally: "Hair have-cut although, two existences until, deep
relation, cut-how-can-it-be?" By the mention of the hair-cutting
we know the speaker is a woman. Her husband, or possibly betrothed
lover, is dead; and, according to the Buddhist custom, she signifies
her desire to remain faithful to his memory by the sacrifice of her
hair. For detailed information on this subject see, in my _Glimpses of
Unfamiliar Japan,_ the chapter, "Of Women's Hair."]

    _She looks at the portrait of him to whom for two lives she is
    _Happy remembrances come, and each brings a smile to her

[Footnote 5:

    Ni-sé to chigirishi
    Shashin we nagamé

Lit.: "Two existences that made alliance, photograph look-at, thinking
bring-out smiling face." The use of the term _shashin,_ photograph,
shows that the poem is not old.]

    _If in this present life we never can hope for union,_
    _Then we shall first keep house in the Lotos-Palace beyond._[6]

[Footnote 6:

    Totémo kono yo dé
    Sowaré-nu naraba
    Hasu no uténa dé
          Ara sėtai.

Lit.: "By-any-means, this-world-in, cannot-live-together if, Lotos-of
Palace-in, new-housekeeping." It is with this thought that lovers
voluntarily die together; and the song might be called a song of

    _Have we not spoken the vow that binds for a double existence?_
    _If we must separate now, I can only wish to die._

    _There!--oh, what shall we do?... Pledged for a double
    _And now, as we sit together, the string of the samisen snaps!_[7]

[Footnote 7: Among singing-girls it is believed that the snapping of a
samisen-string under such circumstances as those indicated in the above
song is an omen of coming separation.]

    _He woos by teaching the Law of Cause and Effect for three lives,_
    _And makes a contract for two--the crafty-smiling priest!_[8]

[Footnote 8: This song is of a priest who breaks the vow of celibacy.]

Every mortal has lived and is destined to live countless lives; yet the
happy moments of any single existence are not therefore less precious
in themselves:--

    _Not to have met one night is verily cause for sorrow;_
    _Since twice in a single birth the same night never comes._

But even as a summer unusually warm is apt to herald a winter of
exceptional severity, so too much happiness in this life may signify
great suffering in the next:--

    _Always I suffer thus!... Methinks, in my last existence._
    _Too happy I must have been,--did not suffer enough._

Next in point of exotic interest to the songs expressing belief in
preëxistence and rebirth, I think I should place those treating of the
doctrine of _ingwa,_ or Karma. I offer some free translations from
these, together with one selection from a class of compositions more
elaborate and usually much longer than the _dodoitsu,_ called _hauta._
In the original, at least, my selection from the _hauta--_which
contains a charming simile about the firefly--is by far the prettiest:--

    _Weep not!--turn to me!... Nay, all my suspicions vanish!_
    _Forgive me those words unkind: some_ ingwa _controlled my tongue!_

Evidently this is the remorseful pleading of a jealous lover. The next
might be the answer of the girl whose tears he had caused to flow:

    _I cannot imagine at all by what strange manner of ingwa_
    _Came I to fall in love with one so unkind as you!_

Or she might exclaim:--

_Is this the turning of_ En?--_am I caught in the Wheel of
_That, alas! is a wheel not to be moved from the rut!_[9]

[Footnote 9:

    Meguru en kaya?
    Kuruma no watashi
    Hiku ni hikarénu
          Kono ingwa.

There is a play on words in the original which I have not attempted
to render. The idea is of an unhappy match--either betrothal or
marriage--from which the woman wishes to withdraw when too late.]

A more remarkable reference to the Wheel of Karma is the following:--

    _Father and mother forbade, and so I gave up my lover;_
    _--Yet still, with the whirl of the Wheel, the thought of him comes
    and goes._[10]

[Footnote 10:

    Oya no iken dé
    Akirameta no we
    Mata mo rin-yé dé

The Buddhist word _Rin-yé,_ or _Rinten,_ has the meaning of "turning
the Wheel,"--another expression for passing from birth to birth. The
Wheel here is the great Circle of Illusion,--the whirl of Karma.]

This is a _hauta_:--

    _Numberless insects there are that call from dawn to evening,_
    _Crying, "I love! I love!"--but the Firefly's silent passion,_
    _Making its body burn, is deeper than all their longing._
    _Even such is my love ... yet I cannot think through what_ ingwa
    _I opened my heart--alas!--to a being not sincere!_[11]

[Footnote 11:

    Kaäi, kaäi to
    Naku mushi yori mo
    Nakanu hotaru ga
    Mi we kogasu.
    Nanno ingwa dé
    Jitsu naki hito ni
    Shin we akashité,--
          Aa kuyashi!

Lit.: "'I-love-I-love'-saying-cry-insects than, better
never-cry-firefly, body scorch! What Karma because-of,
sincerity-not-is-man to, inmost-mind opened?--ah! regret!" ... It was
formerly believed that the firefly's light really burned its own body.]

If the foregoing seem productions possible only to our psychological
antipodes, it is quite otherwise with a group of folk-songs reflecting
the doctrine of Impermanency. Concerning the instability of all
material things, and the hollowness of all earthly pleasures, Christian
and Buddhist thought are very much in accord. The great difference
between them appears only when we compare their teaching as to things
ghostly,--and especially as to the nature of the Ego. But the Oriental
doctrine that the Ego itself is an impermanent compound, and that the
Self is not the true Consciousness, rarely finds expression in these
popular songs. For the common people the Self exists: it is a real
(though multiple) personality that passes from birth to birth. Only the
educated Buddhist comprehends the deeper teaching that what we imagine
to be Self is wholly illusion,--a darkening veil woven by Karma; and
that there is no Self but the Infinite Self, the eternal Absolute.
In the following _dodoitsu_ will be found mostly thoughts or emotions
according with universal experience:--

_Gathering clouds to the moon;--storm and rain to the flowers:_
_Somehow this world of woe never is just as we like._[12]

[Footnote 12:

    Tsuki ni murakumo,
    Hana ni wa arashi:
    Tokaku uki-yo wa
          Mama naranu.

This song especially refers to unhappy love, and contains the
substance of two Buddhist proverbs: _Tsuki ni murakumo, hana ni kazé_
(cloud-masses to the moon; wind to flowers); and _Mama ni naranu wa
uki-yo no narai_ (to be disappointed is the rule in this miserable
world). "Uki-yo" (this fleeting or unhappy world) is one of the
commonest Buddhist terms in use.]

    _Almost as soon as they bloom, the scented flowers of the plum-tree_
    _By the wind of this world of change are scattered and blown away._

_Thinking to-morrow remains, thou heart's frail flower-of-cherry?_
_How knowest whether this night the tempest will not come?_[13]

[Footnote 13:

        Asu ari to
    Omō kokoro no
    Yo wa ni arashi no
    Fukanu monokawa?

Lit.: "To-morrow-is that think heart-of perishable-cherry flower:
this-night-in-storm blow-not, is-it-certain?"]

    _Shadow and shape alike melt and flow back to nothing:_
    _He who knows this truth is the Daruma of snow._[14]

[Footnote 14:

    Kagé mo katachi mo
    Kiyuréba moto no
    Midzu to satoru zo

Lit.: "Shadow and shape also, if-melt-away, original-water
is,--that-understands Snow-Daruma." Daruma (Dharma), the twenty-eighth
patriarch of the Zen sect, is said to have lost his legs through
remaining long in the posture of meditation; and many legless
toy-figures, which are so balanced that they will always assume an
upright position however often placed upside-down, are called by his
name. The snow-men made by Japanese children have the same traditional
form.--The Japanese friend who helped me to translate these verses,
tells me that a ghostly meaning attaches to the word "Kagé" [shadow] in
the above;--this would give a much more profound signification to the
whole verse.]

    _As the moon of the fifteenth night, the heart till the age fifteen:_
    _Then the brightness wanes, and the darkness comes with love._[15]

[Footnote 15: According to the old calendar, there was always a full
moon on the fifteenth of the month. The Buddhist allusion in the verse
is to _mayoi,_ the illusion of passion, which is compared to a darkness
concealing the Right Way.]

    _All things change, we are told, in this world of change and sorrow;_
    _But love's way never changes of promising never to change._[16]

[Footnote 16:

    Kawaru uki-yo ni
    Kawaranu mono wa
    Kawarumai to no
          Koi no michi.

Lit.: "Change changeable-world-in, does-not-change that-which,
'We-will-never-change'-saying of Love-of Way."]

_Cruel the beautiful flash,--utterly heartless that lightning!_ _Before
one can look even twice it vanishes wholly away!_[17]

[Footnote 17:

    Honni tsurénai
    Ano inadzuma wa
    Futa mé minu uchi
    Kiyété yuku.

The Buddhist saying, _Inadzuma no hikari, ishi no hi_ (lightning-flash
and flint-spark),--symbolizing the temporary nature of all
pleasures,--is here playfully referred to. The song complains of a too
brief meeting with sweet-heart or lover.]

    _His very sweetness itself makes my existence a burden!_
    _Truly this world of change is a world of constant woe!_[18]

[Footnote 18: Words of a loving but jealous woman, thus interpreted
by my Japanese friend: "The more kind he is, the more his kindness
overwhelms me with anxiety lest he be equally tender to other girls who
may also fall in love with him."]

    _Neither for youth nor age is fixed the life of the body;_
    _--Bidding me wait for a time is the word that forever divides._[19]

[Footnote 19:

    Rō-shō fujō no
    Mi dé ari nagara,
    Jisetsu maté to wa

Lit.: "Old-young not-fixed-of body being, time-wait to-say,
cutting-word." Ro-shō fujō is a Buddhist phrase. The meaning of the
song is: "Since all things in this world are uncertain, asking me to
wait for our marriage-day means that you do not really love me;--for
either of us might die before the time you speak of."]

    _Only too well I know that to meet will cause more weeping;_[20]
    _Yet never to meet at all were sorrow too great to bear._

[Footnote 20: Allusion is made to the Buddhist text, _Shōja hitsu
metsu, esha jōri_ ("Whosoever is born must die, and all who meet
must as surely part"), and to the religious phrase, _Ai betsu ri ku_
("Sorrow of parting and pain of separation").]

    _Too joyful in union to think, we forget that the smiles of the
    _Sometimes themselves become the sources of morning-tears._

Yet, notwithstanding the doctrine of impermanency, we are told in
another _dodoitsu_ that--

    _He who was never bewitched by the charming smile of a woman,_
    _A wooden Buddha is he--a Buddha of bronze or stone!_[21]

[Footnote 21: Much more amusing in the original:--

    Adana é-gao ni
    Mayowanu mono wa
"Charming-smile-by bewildered-not, he-as-for, wood-Buddha,
metal-Buddha, stone-Buddha!" The term "Ishi-botoké"
especially refers to the stone images of the Buddha
placed in cemeteries.--This song is sung in every part of
Japan; I have heard it many times in different places.]

And why a Buddha of wood, or bronze, or stone? Because the living
Buddha was not so insensible, as we are assured, with jocose
irreverence, in the following:--

    _"Forsake this fitful world"!_--

                     {_Lord Buddha's_}
    _that was_     _or_          _teaching!_
                     {_upside-down_  }

    _And Ragora,[22] son of his loins?--was he forgotten indeed?_

There is an untranslatable pun in the original, which, if written in
Romaji, would run thus:--

    Uki-yo we sutéyo t'a
           {Shaka Sama}
    Sorya               yo
           {saka-sama }
    Ragora to iū ko we
           Wasurété ka?

_Shakamuni_ is the Japanese rendering of "Sakyamuni;" "Shaka Sama" is
therefore "Lord Sakya," or "Lord Buddha." But _saka-sama_ is a Japanese
word meaning "topsy-turvy," "upside down;" and the difference between
the pronunciation of Shaka Sama and _saka-sama_ is slight enough to
have suggested the pun. Love in suspense is not usually inclined to

[Footnote 22: Râhula.]

    _Even while praying together in front of the tablets ancestral,_
    _Lovers find chance to murmur prayers never meant for the dead!_[23]

And as for interrupters:--

    _Hateful the wind or rain that ruins the bloom of flowers:_
    _Even more hateful far who obstructs the way of love._

Yet the help of the Gods is earnestly besought:--

    _I make my_ hyaku-dō, _traveling Love's dark pathway._
    _Ever praying to meet the owner of my heart._[24]

[Footnote 23:

    Ekō suru toté
    Hotoké no maé yé
    Futari mukaité,
          Konabé daté.

Lit.: "Repeat prayers saying, dead-of-presence-in twain
facing,--small-pan cooking!" _Hotoké_ means a dead person as well
as a Buddha. (See my _Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan:_ "The Household
Shrine")-_Konabé-daté_ is an idiomatic expression signifying a
lovers' tête-à-tête. It is derived from the phrase, _Chin-chin kamo
nabé_("cooking a wild duck in a pan"),--the idea suggested being that
of the pleasure experienced by an amorous couple in eating out of the
same dish. _Chin-chin,_ an onomatope, expresses the sound of the gravy

[Footnote 24: To perform the rite called "o-hyaku-dō" means to make one
hundred visits to a temple, saying a prayer each time. The expression
"dark way of Love" _(koi no yami_ or _yamiji)_ is a Buddhist phrase;
love, being due to _mayoi,_ or illusion, is a state of spiritual
darkness. The term "owner of my heart" is an attempted rendering of
the Japanese word _nushi,_ signifying "master," "owner,"--often, also,
"landlord,"--and, in love-matters, the lord or master of the affection

The interest attaching to the following typical group of love-songs
will be found to depend chiefly upon the Buddhist allusions:--

    _In the bed of the River of Souls, or in waiting alone at evening,_
    _The pain differs nothing at all: to a mountain the pebble grows._[25]

    _Who furthest after illusion wanders on Love's dark pathway_
    _Is ever the clearest-seeing,[26] not the simple or dull._

[Footnote 25:

     Sai-no-kawara to
    Nushi matsu yoi wa
    Koishi, koishi ga
        Yama to naru.

A more literal translation would be: "In the Sai-no-Kawara ('Dry bed
of the River of Souls') and in the evening when waiting for the loved
one, '_Koishi, Koishi_' becomes a mountain." There is a delicate pun
here,--a play on the word _Koishi,_ which, as pronounced, though not
as written, may mean either "a small stone," or "longing to see." In
the bed of the phantom river, Sai-no-Kawa, the ghosts of children are
obliged to pile up little stones, the weight of which increases so as
to tax their strength to the utmost. There is a reference here also
to a verse in the Buddhist _wasan_ of Jizō, describing the crying of
the children for their parents: _"Chichi koishi! haha koishi!_" (See
_Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan,_ vol. i. pp. 59-61.)]

[Footnote 26: Clearest-sighted,--that is, in worldly matters.]

    _Coldly seen from without our love looks utter folly:_
    _Who never has felt_ mayoi _never could understand!_

    _Countless the men must be who dwell in three thousand worlds;_
    _Yet among them all is none worthy to change for mine._[27]

    _However fickle I seem, my heart is never unfaithful:_
    _Out of the slime itself, spotless the lotos grows._[28]

    _So that we stay together, even the Hell of the Blood Lake--_
    _Even the Mountain of Swords--will signify nothing at all?_[29]

[Footnote 27:

    San-zen sékai ni
    Otoko wa arédo,
    Nushi ni mi-kayeru
    Hito wa nai.

"San-zen sékai," the three thousand worlds, is a common
Buddhist expression. Literally translated, the above song runs:
"Three-thousand-worlds-in men are, but lover-to-exchange person is

[Footnote 28: The familiar Buddhist simile is used more significantly
here than the Western reader might suppose from the above rendering.
These are supposed to be the words either of a professional
singing-girl or of a _jorō_. Her calling is derisively termed a
_doro-midzu kagyō_ ("foul-water occupation"); and her citation of
the famous Buddhist comparison in self-defense is particularly, and
pathetically, happy.]

[Footnote 29:

    Chi-no-Iké-Jigoku mo,
    Tsurugi-no-Yama mo,
    Futari-dzuré nara
    Itoi 'a sénu.

The Hell of the Blood-Lake is a hell for women; and the Mountain of
Swords is usually depicted in Buddhist prints as a place of infernal
punishment for men in especial.]

    _Not yet indeed is my body garbed in the ink-black habit;_
    _--But as for this heart bereaved, already it is a nun._[30]

    _My hair, indeed, is uncut; but my heart has become a religious;_
    _A nun it shall always be till the hour I meet him again._

But even the priest or nun is not always exempt from the power of

    _I am wearing the sable garb,--and yet, through illusion of longing,_
    _Ever I lose my way,--knowing not whither or where!_

So far, my examples have been principally chosen from the more serious
class of _dodoitsu._ But in _dodoitsu_ of a lighter class the Buddhist
allusions are perhaps even more frequent. The following group of five
will serve for specimens of hundreds:--

[Footnote 30: In the original much more pretty and much more simple:--

    Sumi no koromo ni
    Mi wa yatsusanedo,
    Kokoro hitotsu wa

"Ink-black-_koromo_ [priest's or nun's outer robe] in, body not clad,
but heart-one nun." _Hitotsu,_ "one," also means "solitary," "forlorn,"
"bereaved." _Ama hōshi,_ lit.: "nun-priest."]

    _Never can be recalled the word too quickly spoken:_
    _Therefore with Emma's face the lover receives the prayer._[31]

    _Thrice did I hear that prayer with Buddha's face; but hereafter_
    _My face shall be Emma's face because of too many prayers._

    _Now they are merry together; but under their boat is_ Jigoku.[32]
    _Blow quickly, thou river-wind,--blow a typhoon for my sake!_

    _Vainly, to make him stay, I said that the crows were night crows;_[33]--
    _The bell of the dawn peals doom,--the bell that cannot lie._

[Footnote 31: The implication is that he has hastily promised more
than he wishes to perform. Emma, or Yemma (Sansc. Yama), is the Lord
of Hell and Judge of Souls; and, as depicted in Buddhist sculpture
and painting, is more than fearful to look upon. There is an evident
reference in this song to the Buddhist proverb: _Karu-toki no
Jizō-gao; nasu-toki no Emma-gao_ ("Borrowing-time, the face of Jizō;
repaying-time, the face of Emma").]

[Footnote 32: "Jigoku" is the Buddhist name for various hells (Sansc.
_narakas)._ The allusion here is to the proverb, _Funa-ita ichi-mai
shita wa Jigoku:_ "Under [_the thickness of] a_ single boat-plank is
hell,"--referring to the perils of the sea. This song is a satire on
jealousy; and the boat spoken of is probably a roofed pleasure-boat,
such as excursions are made into the sound of music.]

[Footnote 33: _Tsuki-yo-garasu,_ lit.: "moon-night crows." Crows
usually announce the dawn by their cawing; but sometimes on moonlight
nights they caw at all hours from sunset to sunrise. The bell referred
to is the bell of some Buddhist temple: the _aké-no-kane,_ or
"dawn-bell," being, in all parts of Japan, sounded from every Buddhist
_tera._ There is a pun in the original;--the expression _tsukenai,_
"cannot _tell_ (a lie)," might also be interpreted phonetically as
"cannot _strike_ [a bell]."]

    _This my desire: To kill the crows of three thousand worlds,_
    _And then to repose in peace with the owner of my heart!_[34]

[Footnote 34:

    San-zen sékai no
    Karasu we koroshi
    Nushi to soi-né ga
          Shité mitai

I have cited this last only as a curiosity. For it has a strange
history, and is not what it seems,--although the apparent motive was
certainly suggested by some song like the one immediately preceding
it. It is a song of loyalty, and was composed by Kido of Chō-shū,
one of the leaders in that great movement which brought about the
downfall of the Shōgunate, the restoration of the Imperial power, the
reconstruction of Japanese society, and the introduction and adoption
of Western civilization. Kido, Saigō, and Ōkubo are rightly termed the
three heroes of the restoration. While preparing his plans at Kyōto, in
company with his friend Saigō, Kido composed and sang this song as an
intimation of his real sentiments. By the phrase, "ravens of the three
thousand worlds," he designated the Tokugawa partisans; by the word
_nushi_ (lord, or heart's-master) he signified the Emperor; and by the
term _soiné_ (reposing together) he referred to the hoped-for condition
of direct responsibility to the Throne, without further intervention
of Shōgun and daimyō. It was not the first example in Japanese history
of the use of popular song as a medium for the utterance of opinions
which, expressed in plainer language, would have invited assassination.


While I was writing the preceding note upon Kido's song, the Buddhist
phrase, _San-zen sékai_ (twice occurring, as the reader will have
observed, in the present collection), suggested a few reflections with
which this paper may fitly conclude. I remember that when I first
attempted, years ago, to learn the outlines of Buddhist philosophy, one
fact which particularly impressed me was the vastness of the Buddhist
concept of the universe. Buddhism, as I read it, had not offered
itself to humanity as a saving creed for one inhabited world, but
as the religion of "innumerable hundreds of thousands of myriads of
_kôtis_[35] of worlds." And the modern scientific revelation of stellar
evolution and dissolution then seemed to me, and still seems, like a
prodigious confirmation of certain Buddhist theories of cosmical law.

The man of science to-day cannot ignore the enormous suggestions of
the new story that the heavens are telling. He finds himself compelled
to regard the development of what we call mind as a general phase or
incident in the ripening of planetary life throughout the universe.
He is obliged to consider the relation of our own petty sphere to the
great swarming of suns and systems as no more than the relation of a
single noctiluca to the phosphorescence of a sea. By its creed the
Oriental intellect has been better prepared than the Occidental to
accept this tremendous revelation, not as a wisdom that increaseth
sorrow, but as a wisdom to quicken faith. And I cannot but think that
out of the certain future union of Western knowledge with Eastern
thought there must eventually proceed a Neo-Buddhism inheriting all
the strength of Science, yet spiritually able to recompense the seeker
after truth with the recompense foretold in the twelfth chapter of
the Sutra of the Diamond-Cutter. Taking the text as it stands,--in
despite of commentators,--what more could be unselfishly desired from
any spiritual teaching than the reward promised in that verse,--"_They
shall be endowed with the Highest Wonder"?_

[Footnote 35: 1 kôti = 10,000,000.]





    "It is not possible, O Subhûti, that this treatise of the
    Law should be heard by beings of little faith,--by those
    who believe in Self, in beings, in living beings, and in
    persons."--_The Diamond-Cutter._

There still widely prevails in Europe and America the idea that Nirvana
signifies, to Buddhist minds, neither more nor less than absolute
nothingness,--complete annihilation. This idea is erroneous. But it
is erroneous only because it contains half of a truth. This half of a
truth has no value or interest, or even intelligibility, unless joined
with the other half. And of the other half no suspicion yet exists in
the average Western mind.

Nirvana, indeed, signifies an extinction. But if by this extinction of
individual being we understand soul-death, our conception of Nirvana
is wrong. Or if we take Nirvana to mean such reabsorption of the finite
into the infinite as that predicted by Indian pantheism, again our idea
is foreign to Buddhism.

Nevertheless, if we declare that Nirvana means the extinction of
individual sensation, emotion, thought,--the final disintegration of
conscious personality,--the annihilation of everything that can be
included under the term "I,"--then we rightly express one side of the
Buddhist teaching.


The apparent contradiction of the foregoing statements is due only to
our Occidental notion of Self. Self to us signifies feelings, ideas,
memory, volition; and it can scarcely occur to any person not familiar
with German idealism even to imagine that consciousness might not
be Self. The Buddhist, on the contrary, declares all that we call
Self to be false. He defines the Ego as a mere temporary aggregate
of sensations, impulses, ideas, created by the physical and mental
experiences of the race,--all related to the perishable body, and
all doomed to dissolve with it. What to Western reasoning seems the
most indubitable of realities, Buddhist reasoning pronounces the
greatest of all illusions, and even the source of all sorrow and sin.
"_The mind, the thoughts, and all the senses are subject to the law
of life and death. With knowledge of Self and the laws of birth and
death, there is no grasping, and no sense-perception. Knowing one's
self and knowing how the senses act, there is no room for the idea of
or the ground for framing it The thought of 'Self' gives rise to all
sorrows,--binding the world as with fetters; but having found there is
no 'I' that can be bound, then all these bonds are severed._"[1]

The above text suggests very plainly that the consciousness is not the
Real Self, and that the mind dies with the body. Any reader unfamiliar
with Buddhist thought may well ask, "What, then, is the meaning of the
doctrine of Karma, the doctrine of moral progression, the doctrine
of the consequence of acts?" Indeed, to try to study, only with the
ontological ideas of the West, even such translations of the Buddhist
Sutras as those given in the "Sacred Books of the East," is to be at
every page confronted by seemingly hopeless riddles and contradictions.
We find a doctrine of rebirth; but the existence of a soul is denied.
We are told that the misfortunes of this life are punishments of faults
committed in a previous life; yet personal transmigration does not take
place. We find the statement that beings are reindividualized; yet both
individuality and personality are called illusions. I doubt whether
anybody not acquainted with the deeper forms of Buddhist belief could
possibly understand the following extracts which I have made from the
first volume of "The Questions of King Milinda:"--


The King said: "Nagasena, is there any one who after death is
not reindividualized?" Nagasena answered: "A sinful being is
reindividualized; a sinless one is not." (p. 50.)

"Is there, Nagasena, such a thing as the soul?" "There is no such thing
as soul." (pp. 86-89.) [The same statement is repeated in a later
chapter (p. 111), with a qualification: "_In the highest sense,_ O
King, there is no such thing."]

"Is there any being, Nagasena, who transmigrates from this body to
another?" "No: there is not." (p. 112.)

"Where there is no transmigration, Nagasena, can there be rebirth?"
"Yes: there can."

"Does he, Nagasena, who is about to be reborn, know that he will be
reborn?" "Yes: he knows it, O King." (p. 113.)

Naturally the Western reader may ask,--"How can there be
reindividualization without a soul? How can there be rebirth without
transmigration? How can there be personal foreknowledge of rebirth
without personality?" But the answers to such questions will not be
found in the work cited.

It would be wrong to suppose that the citations given offer any
exceptional difficulty. As to the doctrine of the annihilation of
Self, the testimony of nearly all those Buddhist texts now accessible
to English readers is overwhelming. Perhaps the Sutra of the Great
Decease furnishes the most remarkable evidence contained in the
"Sacred Books of the East." In its account of the Eight Stages of
Deliverance leading to Nirvana, it explicitly describes what we should
be justified in calling, from our Western point of view, the process
of absolute annihilation. We are told that in the first of these
eight stages the Buddhist seeker after truth still retains the ideas
of form--subjective and objective. In the second stage he loses the
subjective idea of form, and views forms as external phenomena only.
In the third stage the sense of the approaching perception of larger
truth comes to him. In the fourth stage he passes beyond all ideas
of form, ideas of resistance, and ideas of distinction; and there
remains to him only the idea of infinite space. In the fifth stage the
idea of infinite space vanishes, and the thought comes: _It is all
infinite reason._ [Here is the uttermost limit, many might suppose, of
pantheistic idealism; but it is only the half way resting-place on the
path which the Buddhist thinker must pursue.] In the sixth stage the
thought comes, _"Nothing at all exists."_ In the seventh stage the idea
of nothingness itself vanishes. In the eighth stage all sensations and
ideas cease to exist. And _after_ this comes Nirvana.

The same sutra, in recounting the death of the Buddha, represents
him as rapidly passing through the first, second, third, and fourth
stages of meditation to enter into "that state of mind to which the
Infinity of Space alone is present,"--and thence into "that state
of mind to which the Infinity of Thought alone is present,"--and
thence into "that state of mind to which nothing at all is specially
present,"--and thence into "that state of mind between consciousness
and unconsciousness,"--and thence into "that state of mind in which
the consciousness both of sensations and of ideas has wholly passed

For the reader who has made any serious attempt to obtain a general
idea of Buddhism, such citations are scarcely necessary; since
the fundamental doctrine of the concatenation of cause and effect
contains the same denial of the reality of Self and suggests the same
enigmas. Illusion produces action or Karma; Karma, self-consciousness;
self-consciousness, individuality; individuality, the senses; the
senses, contact; contact, feeling; feeling, desire; desire, union;
union, conception; conception, birth; birth, sorrow and decrepitude
and death. Doubtless the reader knows the doctrine of the destruction
of the twelve Nidanas; and it is needless here to repeat it at length.
But he may be reminded of the teaching that by the cessation of contact
feeling is destroyed; by that of feeling, individuality; and by that
of individuality, _self-consciousness._


Evidently, without a preliminary solution of the riddles offered by
such texts, any effort to learn the meaning of Nirvana is hopeless.
Before being able to comprehend the true meaning of those sutras now
made familiar to English readers by translation, it is necessary to
understand that the common Occidental ideas of God and Soul, of matter,
of spirit, have no existence in Buddhist philosophy; their places being
occupied by concepts having no real counterparts in Western religious
thought. Above all, it is necessary that the reader should expel from
his mind the theological idea of Soul. The texts already quoted should
have made it clear that in Buddhist philosophy there is no personal
transmigration, and no individual permanent Soul.

[Footnote 1: _Fo-Sho-Hing-Tsan-King._]


"O Bhagavat, the idea of a self is no idea; and the idea of a being, or
a living person, or a person, is no idea. And why? Because the blessed
Buddhas are freed from all ideas."--_The Diamond-Cutter._

And now let us try to understand what it is that dies, and what
it is that is reborn,--what it is that commits faults and what
it is that suffers penalties,--what passes from states of woe to
states of bliss,--what enters into Nirvana after the destruction of
self-consciousness,--what survives "extinction" and has power to return
out of Nirvana,--what experiences the Four Infinite Feelings after all
finite feeling has been annihilated.

It is not the sentient and conscious Self that enters Nirvana. The Ego
is only a temporary aggregate of countless illusions, a phantom-shell,
a bubble sure to break. It is a creation of Karma,--or rather, as a
Buddhist friend insists, it _is_ Karma. To comprehend the statement
fully, the reader should know that, in this Oriental philosophy, acts
and thoughts are forces integrating themselves into material and mental
phenomena,--into what we call objective and subjective appearances.
The very earth we tread upon,--the mountains and forests, the rivers
and seas, the world and its moon, the visible universe in short,--_is
the integration of acts and thoughts,_ is Karma, or, at least, Being
conditioned by Karma.[1]

[Footnote 1: "The aggregate actions of all sentient beings give birth
to the varieties of mountains, rivers, countries, etc. ... Their eyes,
nostrils, ears, tongues, bodies,--as well as their gardens, woods,
farms, residences, servants, and maids,--men imagine to be their
own possessions; but they are, in truth, only results produced by
innumerable actions."

--KURODA, _Outlines of the Mahâyana._

"Grass, trees, earth,--all these shall become Buddha."


"Even swords and things of metal are manifestations of spirit: within
them exist all virtues (or '_power_') in their fullest development and

"When called sentient or non-sentient, matter is Law-Body (or
'_spiritual body_')."--CHISHŌ-HISHŌ.

"The Apparent Doctrine treats of the four great elements _[earth, fire,
water, air]_ as non-sentient. But in the Hidden Doctrine these are said
to be the Sammya-Shin (_Samya-Kaya_), or Body-Accordant of the Nyōrai

"When every phase of our mind shall be in accord with the mind of
Buddha, ... then there will not be even one particle of dust that does
not enter into Buddhahood."--ENGAKU-SHŌ.]

The Karma-Ego we call Self is mind and is body;--both perpetually
decay; both are perpetually renewed. From the unknown beginning, this
double--phenomenon, objective and subjective, has been alternately
dissolved and integrated: each integration is a birth; each dissolution
a death. There is no other birth or death but the birth and death of
Karma in some form or condition. But at each rebirth the reintegration
is never the reintegration of the identical phenomenon, but of another
to which it gives rise,--as growth begets growth, as motion produces
motion. So that the phantom-self changes not only as to form and
condition, but as to actual personality with every reëmbodiment. There
is one Reality; but there is no permanent individual, no constant
personality: there is only phantom-self, and phantom succeeds to
phantom, as undulation to undulation, over the ghostly Sea of Birth and
Death. And even as the storming of a sea is a motion of undulation,
not of translation,--even as it is the form of the wave only, not the
wave itself, that travels,--so in the passing of lives there is only
the rising and the vanishing of forms,--forms mental, forms material.
The fathomless Reality does not pass. "All forms," it is written in the
_Kongō-hannya-haramitsu-Kyō,_[2] "are unreal: he who rises above all
forms is the Buddha." But what can remain to rise above all forms after
the total disintegration of body and the final dissolution of mind?

[Footnote 2: Vagra-pragnâ-pâramita-Sutra.]

Unconsciously dwelling behind the false consciousness of imperfect
man,--beyond sensation, perception, thought,--wrapped in the envelope
of what we call soul (which in truth is only a thickly woven veil of
illusion), is the eternal and divine, the Absolute Reality: not a soul,
not a personality, but the All-Self without selfishness,--the _Muga
no Taiga,--_the Buddha enwombed in Karma. Within every phantom-self
dwells this divine: yet the innumerable are but one. Within every
creature incarnate sleeps the Infinite Intelligence unevolved, hidden,
unfelt, unknown,--yet destined from all the eternities to waken at
last, to rend away the ghostly web of sensuous mind, to break forever
its chrysalis of flesh, and pass to the supreme conquest of Space and
Time. Wherefore it is written in the _Kegon-Kyō_ (Avatamsaka-Sutra):
"Child of Buddha, there is not even one living being that has not the
wisdom of the Tathâgata. It is only because of their vain thoughts and
affections that all beings are not conscious of this.... I will teach
them the holy Way;--I will make them forsake their foolish thoughts,
and cause them to see that the vast and deep intelligence which dwells
within them is not different from the wisdom of the very Buddha."


Here we may pause to consider the correspondence between these
fundamental Buddhist theories and the concepts of Western science.
It will be evident that the Buddhist denial of the reality of the
apparitional world is not a denial of the reality of phenomena as
phenomena, nor a denial of the forces producing phenomena objectively
or subjectively. For the negation of Karma as Karma would involve the
negation of the entire Buddhist system. The true declaration is, that
what we perceive is never reality in itself, and that even the Ego that
perceives is an unstable plexus of aggregates of feelings which are
themselves unstable and in the nature of illusions. This position is
scientifically strong,--perhaps impregnable. Of substance in itself
we certainly know nothing: we are conscious of the universe as a vast
play of forces only; and, even while we discern the general relative
meaning of laws expressed in the action of those forces, all that
which is Non-Ego is revealed to us merely through the vibrations of
a nervous structure never exactly the same in any two human beings.
Yet through such varying and imperfect perception we are sufficiently
assured of the impermanency of all forms,--of all aggregates objective
or subjective.

The test of reality is persistence; and the Buddhist, finding in the
visible universe only a perpetual flux of phenomena, declares the
material aggregate unreal because non-persistent,--unreal, at least,
as a bubble, a cloud, or a mirage. Again, relation is the universal
form of thought; but since relation is impermanent, how can thought be
persistent?... Judged from these points of view, Buddhist doctrine is
not Anti-Realism, but a veritable Transfigured Realism, finding just
expression in the exact words of Herbert Spencer:--"Every feeling and
thought being but transitory;--an entire life made up of such feelings
and thoughts being also but transitory;--nay, the objects amid which
life is passed, though less transitory, being severally in the course
of losing their individualities, whether quickly or slowly,--_we learn
that the one thing permanent is the Unknowable Reality hidden under all
these changing shapes._"

Likewise, the teaching of Buddhism, that what we call Self is an
impermanent aggregate,--a sensuous illusion,--will prove, if patiently
analyzed, scarcely possible for any serious thinker to deny. Mind,
as known to the scientific psychologist, is composed of feelings and
the relations between feelings; and feelings are composed of units
of simple sensation which are physiologically coincident with minute
nervous shocks. All the sense-organs are fundamentally alike, being
evolutional modifications of the same morphological elements;--and
all the senses are modifications of touch. Or, to use the simplest
possible language, the organs of sense--sight, smell, taste, even
hearing--have been alike developed from the skin! Even the human brain
itself, by the modern testimony of histology and embryology, "is, at
its first beginning, merely an infolding of the epidermic layer;" and
thought, physiologically and evolutionally, is thus a modification of
touch. Certain vibrations, acting through the visual apparatus, cause
within the brain those motions which are followed by the sensations
of light and color;--other vibrations, acting upon the auditory
mechanism, give rise to the sensation of sound;--other vibrations,
setting up changes in specialized tissue, produce sensations of taste,
smell, touch. All our knowledge is derived and developed, directly or
indirectly, from physical sensation,--from touch. Of course this is
no ultimate explanation, because nobody can tell us _what feels the
touch._ "Everything physical," well said Schopenhauer, "is at the same
time meta-physical." But science fully justifies the Buddhist position
that what we call Self is a bundle of sensations, emotions, sentiments,
ideas, memories, all relating to the _physical_ experiences of the
race and the individual, and that our wish for immortality is a wish
for the eternity of this merely sensuous and selfish consciousness.
And science even supports the Buddhist denial of the permanence of
the sensuous Ego. "Psychology," says Wundt, "proves that not only our
sense-perceptions, but the memorial images that renew them, depend
for their origin upon the functionings of the organs of sense and
movement.... A continuance of this sensuous consciousness must appear
to her irreconcilable with the facts of her experience. And surely we
may well doubt whether such continuance is an ethical requisite: more,
whether the fulfillment of the wish for it, if possible, were not an
intolerable destiny."


    "O Subhûti, if I had had an idea of a being, of a living
    being, or of a person, I should also have had an idea of
    malevolence.... A gift should not be given by any one who
    believes in form, sound, smell, taste, or anything that can
    be touched."--_The Diamond-Cutter._

The doctrine of the impermanency of the conscious Ego is not only the
most remarkable in Buddhist philosophy: it is also, morally, one
of the most important. Perhaps the ethical value of this teaching
has never yet been fairly estimated by any Western thinker. How much
of human unhappiness has been caused, directly and indirectly, by
opposite beliefs,--by the delusion of stability,--by the delusion
that distinctions of character, condition, class, creed, are settled
by immutable law,--and the delusion of a changeless, immortal,
sentient soul, destined, by divine caprice, to eternities of bliss or
eternities of fire! Doubtless the ideas of a deity moved by everlasting
hate,--of soul as a permanent, changeless entity destined to changeless
states,--of sin as unatonable and of penalty as never-ending,--were not
without value in former savage stages of social development. But in the
course of our future evolution they must be utterly got rid of; and it
may be hoped that the contact of Western with Oriental thought will
have for one happy result the acceleration of their decay. While even
the feelings which they have developed linger with us, there can be no
true spirit of tolerance, no sense of human brotherhood, no wakening of
universal love.

Buddhism, on the other hand, recognizing no permanency, no finite
stabilities, no distinctions of character or class or race, except as
passing phenomena,--nay, no difference even between gods and men,--has
been essentially the religion of tolerance. Demon and angel are but
varying manifestations of the same Karma;--hell and heaven mere
temporary halting-places upon the journey to eternal peace. For all
beings there is but one law,--immutable and divine: the law by which
the lowest _must_ rise to the place of the highest,--the law by which
the worst _must_ become the best,--the law by which the vilest _must_
become a Buddha. In such a system there is no room for prejudice and
for hatred. Ignorance alone is the source of wrong and pain; and all
ignorance must finally be dissipated in infinite light _through the
decomposition of Self._


Certainly while we still try to cling to the old theories of permanent
personality, and of a single incarnation only for each individual,
we can find no moral meaning in the universe as it exists. Modern
knowledge can discover no justice in the cosmic process;--the very
most it can offer us by way of ethical encouragement is that the
unknowable forces are not forces of pure malevolence. "Neither moral
nor immoral," to quote Huxley, "but simply unmoral." Evolutional
science cannot be made to accord with the notion of indissoluble
personality; and if we accept its teaching of mental growth and
inheritance, we must also accept its teaching of individual dissolution
and of the cosmos as inexplicable. It assures us, indeed, that the
higher faculties of man have been developed through struggle and
pain, and will long continue to be so developed: but it also assures
us that evolution is inevitably followed by dissolution,--that
the highest point of development is the point likewise from which
retrogression begins. And if we are each and all mere perishable forms
of being,--doomed to pass away like plants and trees,--what consolation
can we find in the assurance that we are suffering for the benefit of
the future? How can it concern us whether humanity become more or less
happy in another myriad ages, if there remains nothing for us but to
live and die in comparative misery? Or, to repeat the irony of Huxley,
"what compensation does the Eohippus get for his sorrows in the fact
that, some millions of years afterwards, one of his descendants wins
the Derby?"

But the cosmic process may assume quite another aspect if we can
persuade ourselves, like the Buddhist, that all being is Unity,
--that personality is but a delusion hiding reality,--that all
distinctions of "I" and "thou" are ghostly films spun out of perishable
sensation,--that even Time and Place as revealed to our petty senses
are phantasms,--that the past and the present and the future are
veritably One. Suppose the winner of the Derby quite well able to
remember having been the Eohippus? Suppose the being, once man, able to
look back through all veils of death and birth, through all evolutions
of evolution, even to the moment of the first faint growth of sentiency
out of non-sentiency;--able to remember, like the Buddha of the
Jatakas, all the experiences of his myriad incarnations, and to relate
them like fairy-tales for the sake of another Ananda?

We have seen, that it is not the Self but the Non-Self--the one
reality underlying all phenomena.--which passes from form, to form.
The striving for Nirvana is a struggle perpetual between false and
true, light and darkness, the sensual and the supersensual; and the
ultimate victory can be gained only by the total decomposition of the
mental and the physical individuality. Not one conquest of self can
suffice: millions of selves must be overcome. For the false Ego is
a compound of countless ages,--possesses a vitality enduring beyond
universes. At each breaking and shedding of the chrysalis a new
chrysalis appears,--more tenous, perhaps, more diaphanous, but woven of
like sensuous material,--a mental and physical texture spun by Karma
from the inherited illusions, passions, desires, pains and pleasures,
of innumerable lives. But what is it that feels?--the phantom or the

All phenomena of _Self_-consciousness belong to the false self,--but
only as a physiologist might say that sensation is a product of the
sensiferous apparatus, which would not explain sensation. No more in
Buddhism than in physiological psychology is there any real teaching
of _two_ feeling entities. In Buddhism the only entity is the Absolute;
and to that entity the false self stands in the relation of a medium
through which right perception is deflected and distorted,--in which
and because of which sentiency and impulse become possible. The
unconditioned Absolute is above all relations: it has nothing of what
we call pain or pleasure; it knows no difference of "I" and "thou,"--no
distinction of place or time. But while conditioned by the illusion of
personality, it is aware of pain or pleasure, as a dreamer perceives
unrealities without being conscious of their unreality. Pleasures
and pains and all the feelings relating to self-consciousness are
hallucinations. The false self exists only as a state of sleep exists;
and sentiency and desire, and all the sorrows and passions of being,
exist only as illusions of that sleep.

But here we reach a point at which science and Buddhism diverge.
Modern psychology recognizes no feelings not evolutionally developed
through the experiences of the race and the individual; but Buddhism
asserts the existence of feelings which are immortal and divine. It
declares that in this Karma-state the greater part of our sensations,
perceptions, ideas, thoughts, are related only to the phantom
self;--that our mental life is little more than a flow of feelings
and desires belonging to selfishness;--that our loves and hates, and
hopes and fears, and pleasures and pains, are illusions;[1]--but it
also declares there are higher feelings, more or less latent within us,
according to our degree of knowledge, which have nothing to do with the
false self, and which are eternal.

Though science pronounces the ultimate nature of pleasures and pains
to be inscrutable, it partly confirms the Buddhist teaching of their
impermanent character. Both appear to belong rather to secondary than
to primary elements of feeling, and both to be evolutions,--forms
of sensation developed, through billions of life-experiences, out of
primal conditions in which there can have been neither real pleasure
nor real pain, but only the vaguest dull sentiency. The higher the
evolution the more pain, and the larger the volume of all sensation.
After the state of equilibration has been reached, the volume of
feeling will begin to diminish. The finer pleasures and the keener
pains must first become extinct; then by gradual stages the less
complex feelings, according to their complexity; till at last, in all
the refrigerating planet, there will survive not even the simplest
sensation possible to the lowest form of life.

But, according to the Buddhist, the highest moral feelings survive
races and suns and universes. The purely unselfish feelings, impossible
to grosser natures, belong to the Absolute. In generous natures the
divine becomes sentient,--quickens within the shell of illusion, as
a child quickens in the womb (whence illusion itself is called The
Womb of the Tathâgata). In yet higher natures the feelings which are
not of self find room for powerful manifestation,--shine through
the phantom-Ego as light through a vase. Such are purely unselfish
love, larger than individual being,--supreme compassion,--perfect
benevolence: they are not of man, but of the Buddha within the man. And
as these expand, all the feelings of self begin to thin and weaken.
The condition of the phantom-Ego simultaneously purifies: all those
opacities which darkened the reality of Mind within the mirage of mind
begin to illumine; and the sense of the infinite, like a thrilling
of light, passes through the dream of personality into the awakening

But in the case of the average seeker after truth, this refinement
and ultimate decomposition of self can be effected only with lentor
inexpressible. The phantom-individuality, though enduring only for
the space of a single lifetime, shapes out of the sum of its innate
qualities, and out of the sum of its own particular acts and thoughts,
the new combination which succeeds it,--a fresh individuality,
another prison of illusion for the Self-without-selfishness.[3] As
name and form, the false self dissolves; but its impulses live on and
recombine; and the final destruction of those impulses--the total
extinction of their ghostly vitality,--may require a protraction of
effort through billions of centuries. Perpetually from the ashes
of burnt-out passions subtler passions are born,--perpetually from
the graves of illusions new illusions arise. The most powerful of
human passions is the last to yield: it persists far into superhuman
conditions. Even when its grosser forms have passed away, its
tendencies still lurk in those feelings originally derived from
it or interwoven with it,--the sensation of beauty, for example,
and the delight of the mind in graceful things. On earth these are
classed among the higher feelings. But in a supramundane state their
indulgence is fraught with peril: a touch or a look may cause the
broken fetters of sensual bondage to reform. Beyond all worlds of
sex there are strange zones in which thoughts and memories become
tangible and visible objective facts,--in which emotional fancies are
materialized,--in which the least unworthy wish may prove creative.
It may be said, in Western religious phraseology, that throughout
the greater part of this vast pilgrimage, and in all the zones of
desire, the temptations increase according to the spiritual strength
of resistance. With every successive ascent there is a further
expansion of the possibilities of enjoyment, an augmentation of power,
a heightening of sensation. Immense the reward of self-conquest; but
whosoever strives for that reward strives after emptiness. One must not
desire heaven as a state of pleasure; it has been written, _Erroneous
thoughts as to the joys of heaven are still entwined by the fast cords
of lust._ One must not wish to become a god or an angel. "Whatsoever
brother, O Bhikkus,"--the Teacher said,--"may have adopted the
religious life thinking, to himself, '_By this morality I shall become
an angel;'_ his mind does not incline to zeal, perseverance, exertion."
Perhaps the most vivid exposition of the duty of the winner of
happiness is that given in the Sutra of the Great King of Glory. This
great king, coming into possession of all imaginable wealth and power,
abstains from enjoyments, despises splendors, refuses the caresses of
a Queen dowered with "the beauty of the gods," and bids her demand
of him, out of her own lips, that he forsake her. She, with dutiful
sweetness, but not without natural tears, obeys him; and he passes
at once out of existence. Every such refusal of the prizes gained by
virtue helps to cause a still more fortunate birth in a still loftier
state of being. But no state should be desired; and it is only after
the wish for Nirvana itself has ceased that Nirvana can be attained.


And now we may venture for a little while into the most fantastic
region of Buddhist ontology,--since, without some definite notion of
the course of psychical evolution therein described, the suggestive
worth of the system cannot be fairly judged. Certainly I am asking the
reader to consider a theory about what is beyond the uttermost limit
of possible human knowledge. But as much of the Buddhist doctrine
as can be studied and tested within the limit of human knowledge is
found to accord with scientific opinion better than does any other
religious hypothesis; and some of the Buddhist teachings prove to be
incomprehensible anticipations of modern scientific disco very,--can
it, therefore, seem unreasonable to claim that even the pure fancies of
a faith so much older than our own, and so much more capable of being
reconciled with the widest expansions of nineteenth-century thought,
deserve at least respectful consideration?

[Footnote 1: "Pleasures and pains have their origin from touch: where
there is no touch, they do not arise."--_Atthakavagga,_ 11.]

[Footnote 2: "To reach the state of the perfect and everlasting
happiness is the highest Nirvana; for then all mental phenomena--such
as desires, etc.--are annihilated. And as such mental phenomena are
annihilated, there appears the true nature of true mind with all its
innumerable functions and miraculous actions."--KURODA, _Outlines of
the Mahâyana._]

[Footnote 3: It is on the subject of this propagation and perpetuation
of characters that the doctrine of Karma is in partial agreement with
the modern scientific teaching-of the hereditary transmission of


"Non-existence is only the entrance to the Great Vehicle."

"And in which way is it, Siha, that one speaking truly could say of me:
'The Samana Gotama maintains annihilation;--he teaches the doctrine of
annihilation'? I proclaim, Siha, the annihilation of lust, of ill-will,
of delusion; I proclaim the annihilation of the manifold conditions (of
heart) which are evil and not good."--_Mahavagga,_ vi. 31. 7.

_"Nin mité, hō tokê_" (see first the person, then preach the law) is a
Japanese proverb signifying that Buddhism should be taught according to
the capacity of the pupil. And the great systems of Buddhist doctrine
are actually divided into progressive stages (five usually), to be
studied in succession, or otherwise, according to the intellectual
ability of the learner. Also there are many varieties of special
doctrine held by the different sects and sub-sects,--so that, to make
any satisfactory outline of Buddhist ontology, it is necessary to shape
a synthesis of the more important and non-conflicting among these many
tenets. I need scarcely say that popular Buddhism does not include
concepts such as we have been examining. The people hold to the simpler
creed of a veritable transmigration of simpler The people understand
Karma only as the law that makes the punishment or reward of faults
committed in previous lives. The people do not trouble themselves about
_Nehan_ or Nirvana;[1] but they think much about heaven (_Gokuraku,_)
which the members of many sects believe can be attained immediately
after this life by the spirits of the good. The followers of the
greatest and richest of the modern sects--the _Shinshū--_hold that,
by the invocation of Amida, a righteous person can pass at once
after death to the great Paradise of the West,--the Paradise of the
Lotos-Flower-Birth. I am taking no account of popular beliefs in this
little study, nor of doctrines peculiar to any one sect only.

But there are many differences in the higher teaching as to the
attainment of Nirvana. Some authorities hold that the supreme happiness
can be won, or at least seen, even on this earth; while others declare
that the present world is too corrupt to allow of a perfect life, and
that only by winning, through good deeds, the privilege of rebirth into
a better world, can men hope for opportunity to practice that holiness
which leads to the highest bliss. The latter opinion, which posits the
superior conditions of being in other worlds, better expresses the
general thought of contemporary Buddhism in Japan.


The conditions of human and of animal being belong to what are termed
the Worlds of Desire (_Yoku-Kai_),--which are four in number. Below
these are the states of torment or hells (_Jigoku,_) about which many
curious things are written; but neither the Yoku-Kai nor the Jigoku
need be considered in relation to the purpose of this little essay.
We have only to do with the course of spiritual progress from the
world of men up to Nirvana,--assuming, with modern Buddhism, that the
pilgrimage through death and birth must continue, for the majority of
mankind at least, even after the attainment of the highest conditions
possible upon this globe. The way rises from terrestrial conditions
to other and superior worlds,--passing first through the Six Heavens
of Desire (_Yoku-Ten_);--thence through the Seventeen Heavens of Form
(_Shiki-Kai_);--and lastly through the Four Heavens of Formlessness
(_Mushiki-Kai_), beyond which lies Nirvana.

The requirements of physical life--the need of food, rest, and sexual
relations--continue to be felt in the Heavens of Desire,--which
would seem to be higher physical worlds rather than what we commonly
understand by the expression "heavens." Indeed, the conditions in some
of them are such as might be supposed to exist in planets more favored
than our own,--in larger spheres warmed by a more genial sun. And some
Buddhist texts actually place them in remote constellations,--declaring
that the Path leads from star to star, from galaxy to galaxy, from
universe to universe, up to the Limit of Existence.[2] In the first
of the heavens of this zone, called the Heaven of the Four Kings
(_Shi-Tennō-Ten_), life lasts five times longer than life on this
earth according to number of years, and each year there is equal
to fifty terrestrial years. But its inhabitants eat and drink, and
marry and give in marriage, much after the fashion of mankind. In the
succeeding heaven (_Sanjiu-san-Ten,_) the duration of life is doubled,
while all other conditions are correspondingly improved; and the
grosser forms of passion disappear. The union of the sexes persists,
but in a manner curiously similar to that which a certain Father of
the Christian Church wished might become possible,--a simple embrace
producing a new being. In the third heaven (called _Emma-Ten_), where
longevity is again doubled, the slightest touch may create life. In
the fourth, or Heaven of Contentment (_Tochita-Ten,_) longevity is
further increased. In the fifth, or Heaven of the Transmutation of
Pleasure (_Keraku-Ten,_) strange new powers are gained. Subjective
pleasures become changed at will into objective pleasures;--thoughts
as well as wishes become creative forces;--and even the act of seeing
may cause conception and birth. In the sixth heaven (_Také-jizai-Ten,_)
the powers obtained in the fifth heaven are further developed; and the
subjective pleasures trans-muted into objective can be presented to
others, or shared with others,--like material gifts. But the look of an
instant,--one glance of the eye,--may generate a new Karma.

The Yoku-Kai are all heavens of sensuous life,--heavens such as might
answer to the dreams of artists and lovers and poets. But those who
are able to traverse them without falling--(and a fall, be it observed,
is not difficult)--pass into the Supersensual Zone, first entering the
Heavens of Luminous Observation of Existence and of Calm Meditation
upon Existence (_Ujin-ushi-shōryo,_ or _Kak-kwan_). These are in number
three,--each higher than the preceding,--and are named The Heaven
of Sanctity, The Heaven of Higher Sanctity, and The Heaven of Great
Sanctity. After these come the heavens called the Heavens of Luminous
Observation of Non-Existence and of Calm Meditation upon Non-Existence
(_Mūjin-mushi-shōryo_). These also are three; and the names of them in
their order signify, Lesser Light, Light Unfathomable, and Light Making
Sound, or, Light-Sonorous. Here there is attained the highest degree
of supersensuous joy possible to temporary conditions. Above are the
states named _Riki-shōryo,_ or the Heavens of the Meditation of the
Abandonment of Joy. The names of these states in their ascending order
are, Lesser Purity, Purity Unfathomable, and Purity Supreme. In them
neither joy nor pain, nor forceful feeling of any sort exist: there is
a mild negative pleasure only,--the pleasure of heavenly Equanimity.[3]
Higher than these heavens are the eight spheres of Calm Meditation upon
the Abandonment of all Joy and Pleasure (_Riki-raku-shōryo._) They are
called The Cloudless, Holiness-Manifest, Vast Results, Empty of Name,
Void of Heat, Fair-Appearing, Vision-Perfecting, and The Limit of Form.
Herein pleasure and pain, and name and form, pass utterly away. But
there remain ideas and thoughts.

He who can pass through these supersensual realms enters at once
into the _Mushiki-Kai,--_the spheres of Formlessness. These
are four. In the first state of the Mushiki-Kai, all sense of
individuality is lost: even the thought of name and form becomes
extinct, and there survives only the idea of Infinite Space, or
Emptiness. In the second state of the Mushiki-Kai, this idea of
space vanishes; and its place is filled by the Idea of Infinite
Reason. But this idea of reason is anthropomorphic: it is an
illusion; and it fades out in the third state of the Mushiki-Kai,
which is called the "State-of-Nothing-to-take-hold-of," or
_Mū-sho-ū-shō-jō._ Here is only the Idea of Infinite Nothingness.
But even this condition has been reached by the aid of the action
of the personal mind. This action ceases: then the fourth state of
the Mushiki-Kai is reached,--the _Hisō-hihisō-shō_, or the state of
"neither-namelessness-nor-not-namelessness." Something of personal
mentality continues to float vaguely here,--the very uttermost
expiring vibration of Karma,--the last vanishing haze of being. It
melts;--and the immeasurable revelation comes. The dreaming Buddha,
freed from the last ghostly bond of Self, rises at once into the
"infinite bliss" of Nirvana.[4]


But every being does not pass through all the states above enumerated:
the power to rise swiftly or slowly depends upon the acquisition of
merit as well as upon the character of the Karma to be overcome. Some
beings pass to Nirvana immediately after the present life; some after
a single new birth; some after two or three births; while many rise
directly from this world into one of the Supersensuous Heavens. All
such are called _Chō,--_the Leapers,--of whom the highest class reach
Nirvana at once after their death as men or women. There are two great
divisions of Chō,--the _Fu-Kwan,_ or Never-Returning-Ones,[5] and the
_Kwan,_ Returning Ones, or _revenants._ Sometimes the return may be in
the nature of a prolonged retrogression; and, according to a Buddhist
legend of the origin of the world, the first men were beings who had
fallen from the _Kwō-on-Ten,_ or Heaven of Sonorous Light. A remarkable
fact about the whole theory of progression is that the progression
is not conceived of (except in very rare cases) as an advance in
straight lines, but as an advance by undulations,--a psychical rhythm
of motion. This is exemplified by the curious Buddhist classification
of the different short courses by which the Kwan or _revenants_ may
hope to reach Nirvana. These short courses are divided into Even and
Uneven;--the former includes an equal number of heavenly and of earthly
rebirths; while in the latter class the heavenly and the earthly
intermediate rebirths are not equal in number. There are four kinds
of these intermediate stages. A Japanese friend has drawn for me the
accompanying diagrams, which explain the subject clearly.

Fantastic this may be called; but it harmonizes with the truth that all
progress is necessarily rhythmical.









Though all beings do not pass through every stage of the great
journey, all beings who attain to the highest enlightenment, by
any course whatever, acquire certain faculties not belonging to
particular conditions of birth, but only to particular conditions of
psychical development. These are, the _Roku-Jindzū_ (Abhidjnâ),
or Six Supernatural Powers:[6] (1) _Shin-Kyō-Tsu,_ the power of
passing any-whither through any obstacles,--through solid walls,
for example;--(2) _Tengen-Tsū,_ the power of infinite vision;--(3)
_Tenni-Tsū,_ the power of infinite hearing;--(4) _Tashin-Tsū,_ the
power of knowing the thoughts of all other beings;--(5) _Shuku-jū-Tsū,_
the power of remembering former births;--(6) _Rojin--Tsū,_ infinite
wisdom with the power of entering at will into Nirvana. The Roku-jindzū
first begin to develop in the state of _Shōmon_ (Sravaka), and expand
in the higher conditions of _Engaku_ (Pratyeka-Buddha) and of Bosatsu
(Bodhisattva or Mahâsattva). The powers of the Shōmon may be exerted
over two thousand worlds; those of the Engaku or Bosatsu, over three
thousand;--but the powers of Buddhahood extend over the total cosmos.
In the first state of holiness, for example, comes the memory of a
certain number of former births, together with the capacity to foresee
a corresponding number of future births;--in the next higher state the
number of births remembered increases;--and in the state of Bosatsu
all former births are visible to memory. But the Buddha sees not only
all of his own former births, but likewise all births that ever have
been or can be,--and all the thoughts and acts, past, present, or
future, of all past, present, or future beings.... Now these dreams
of supernatural power merit attention because of the ethical teaching
in regard to them,--the same which is woven through every Buddhist
hypothesis, rational or unthinkable,--the teaching of self-abnegation.
The Supernatural Powers must never be used for personal pleasure, but
only for the highest beneficence,--the propagation of doctrine, the
saving of men. Any exercise of them for lesser ends might result in
their loss,--would certainly signify retrogression in the path.[7]
To show them for the purpose of exciting admiration or wonder were
to juggle wickedly with what is divine; and the Teacher himself is
recorded to have once severely rebuked a needless display of them by a

This giving up not only of one life, but of countless lives,--not only
of one world, but of innumerable worlds,--not only of natural but also
of supernatural pleasures,--not only of selfhood but of godhood,--is
certainly not for the miserable privilege of ceasing to be, but for
a privilege infinitely outweighing all that even paradise can give.
Nirvana is no cessation, but an emancipation. It means only the passing
of conditioned being into unconditioned being,--the fading of all
mental and physical phantoms into the light of Formless Omnipotence and
Omniscience. But the Buddhist hypothesis holds some suggestion of the
persistence of that which has once been able to remember all births
and states of limited being,--the persistence of the identity of the
Buddhas even in Nirvana notwithstanding the teaching that all Buddhas
are one. How reconcile this doctrine of monism with the assurance of
various texts that the being who enters Nirvana can, when so desirous,
reassume an earthly personality? There are some very remarkable texts
on this subject in the Sutra of the Lotos of the Good Law: those for
instance in which the Tathâgata Prabhûtarâtna is pictured as sitting
_"perfectly extinct upon his throne"_ and speaking before a vast
assembly to which he has been introduced as "the great Seer who,
_although perfectly extinct for many kôtis of æons,_ now comes to hear
the Law." These texts themselves offer us the riddle of multiplicity
in unity; for the Tathâgata Prabhûtarâtna and the myriads of other
extinct Buddhas who appear simultaneously, are said to have been all
incarnations of but a single Buddha.

A reconciliation is offered by the hypothesis of what might be
called a _pluristic monism,_--a sole reality composed of groups of
consciousness, at once independent and yet interdependent,--or, to
speak of pure mind in terms of matter, _an atomic spiritual ultimate._
This hypothesis, though not doctrinably enunciated in Buddhist texts,
is distinctly implied both by text and commentary. The Absolute of
Buddhism is one as ether is one. Ether is conceivable only as a
composition of units.[9] The Absolute is conceivable only (according to
any attempt at a synthesis of the Japanese doctrines) as composed of
Buddhas. But here the student finds himself voyaging farther, perhaps,
beyond the bar of the thinkable than Western philosophers have ever
ventured. All are One;--each by union becomes equal with All! We are
not only bidden to imagine the ultimate reality as composed of units of
conscious being,--but to believe each unit permanently equal to every
other _and infinite in potentiality_.[10] The central reality of every
living creature is a pure Buddha: the visible form and thinking self,
which encell it, being but Karma. With some degree of truth it might be
said that Buddhism substitutes for our theory of a universe of physical
atoms the hypothesis of a universe of psychical units. Not that it
necessarily denies our theory of physical atoms, but that it assumes a
position which might be thus expressed in words: "What you call atoms
are really combinations, unstable aggregates, essentially impermanent,
and therefore essentially unreal. Atoms are but Karma." And this
position is suggestive. We know nothing whatever of the ultimate nature
of substance and motion: but we have scientific evidence that the known
has been evolved from the unknown; that the atoms of our elements _are_
combinations; and that what we call matter and force are but different
manifestations of a single and infinite Unknown Reality.

There are wonderful Buddhist pictures which at first sight appear to
have been made, like other Japanese pictures, with bold free sweeps of
a skilled brush, but which, when closely examined, prove to have been
executed in a much more marvelous manner. The figures, the features,
the robes, the aureoles,--also the scenery, the colors, the effects of
mist or cloud,--all, even to the tiniest detail of tone or line, have
been produced by groupings of microscopic Chinese characters,--tinted
according to position, and more or less thickly massed according to
need of light or shade. In brief, these pictures are composed entirely
out of texts of Sutras: they are mosaics of minute ideographs,--each
ideograph a combination of strokes, and the symbol at once of a sound
and of an idea.

Is our universe so composed?--an endless phantasmagory made only by
combinations of combinations of combinations of combinations of units
finding quality and form through unimaginable affinities;--now thickly
massed in solid glooms; now palpitating in tremulosities of light
and color; always and everywhere grouped by some stupendous art into
one vast mosaic of polarities;--yet each unit in itself a complexity
inconceivable, and each in itself also a symbol only, a character, a
single ideograph of the undecipherable text of the Infinite Riddle?...
Ask the chemists and the mathematicians.

[Footnote 1: Scarcely a day passes that I do not hear such words
uttered as ingwa, gokuraku, gōshō,--or other words referring to Karma,
heaven, future life, past life, etc. But I have never heard a man or
woman of the people use the word "Nehan;" and whenever I have ventured
to question such about Nirvana, I found that its philosophical meaning
was unknown. On the other hand, the Japanese scholar speaks of Nehan
as the reality,--of heaven, either as a temporary condition or as a

[Footnote 2: This astronomical localization of higher conditions
of being, or of other "Buddha-fields," may provoke a smile; but it
suggests undeniable possibilities. There is no absurdity in supposing
that potentialities of life and growth and development really pass,
with nebular diffusion and concentration, from expired systems to
new systems. Indeed, not to suppose this, in our present state of
knowledge, is scarcely possible for the rational mind.]

[Footnote 3: One is reminded by this conception of Mr. Spencer's
beautiful definition of Equanimity:--"Equanimity may be compared to
white light, which, though composed of numerous colors, is colorless;
while pleasurable and painful moods of mind may be compared to the
modifications of light that result from increasing the proportions of
some rays, and decreasing the proportions of others."--_Principles of

[Footnote 4: The expression "infinite bliss" as synonymous with Nirvana
is taken from the _Questions of King Milinda._]

[Footnote 5: In the Sutra of the Great Decease we find the instance
of a woman reaching this condition:--"The Sister Nanda, O Ananda, by
the destruction of the five bonds that bind people to this world, has
become an inhabitant of the highest heaven,--there to pass entirely
away,--thence never to return."]

[Footnote 6: Different Buddhist systems give different enumerations
of these mysterious powers whereof the Chinese names literally
signify:--(1) Calm--Meditation-outward-pouring-no-obstacle-wisdom
(2) Heaven-Eye-no-obstacle-wisdom; (3) Heaven
Ear-no-obstacle-wisdom;--(4) Other-minds-no-obstacle-wisdom;--(5)

[Footnote 7: Beings who have reached the state of Engaku or of Sosatsu
are not supposed capable of retrogression, or of any serious error; but
it is otherwise in lower spiritual states.]

[Footnote 8: See a curious legend in the Vinaya texts,--_Kullavagga,_
V. 8, 2.]

[Footnote 9: This position, it will be observed, is very dissimilar
from that of Hartmann, who holds that "all plurality of individuation
belongs to the sphere of phenomenality." (vol. ii. page 233 of
English translation.) One is rather reminded of the thought of Galton
that human beings "may contribute more or less unconsciously to the
manifestation of a far higher life than our own,--somewhat as the
individual cells of one of the more complex animals contribute to
the manifestation of its higher order of personality." (_Hereditary
Genius,_ p. 361.) Another thought of Galton's, expressed on the same
page of the work just quoted from, is still more strongly suggestive
of the Buddhist concept:--"We must not permit ourselves to consider
each human or other personality as something supernaturally added
to the stock of nature, but rather as a segregation of what already
existed, under a new shape, and as a regular consequence of previous
conditions.... Neither must we be misled by the word 'individuality.'
... We may look upon each individual as something not wholly detached
from its parent-source,--as a wave that has been lifted and shaped by
normal conditions in an unknown and illimitable ocean."

The reader should remember that the Buddhist hypothesis does not imply
either individuality or personality in Nirvana, but simple entity,--not
a spiritual _body,_ in our meaning of the term, but only a divine
consciousness. "Heart," in the sense of divine mind, is a term used
in some Japanese texts to describe such entity. In the _Dai-Nichi Kyō_
Sō (Commentary on the Dai-Nichi Sutra), for example, is the statement
"When all seeds of Karma-life are entirely burnt out and annihilated,
then the _vacuum-pure_ Bodhi-heart is reached." (I may observe that
Buddhist metaphysicians use the term "vacuum-bodies" to describe one
of the high conditions of entity.) The following, from the fifty-first
volume of the work called _Daizō-hō-sū_ will also be found interesting
"By experience the Tathâgata possesses all forms,--forms for multitude
numberless as the dust-grains of the universe.... The Tathâgata gets
himself born in such places as he desires, or in accord with the desire
of others, and there saves [lit., 'carries over'--that is, over the Sea
of Birth and Death] all sentient beings. Wheresoever his will finds an
abiding-point, there is he embodied: this is called Will-Birth Body....
The Buddha makes Law his body, and remains pure as empty space: this is
called Law-Body."]

[Footnote 10: Half of this Buddhist thought is really embodied in
Tennyson's line,--"Boundless inward, in the atom; boundless outward, in
the Whole."]


    ... "All beings that have life shall lay
    Aside their complex form,--that aggregation
    Of mental and material qualities
    That gives them, or in heaven or on earth,
    Their fleeting individuality."
    _The Book of the Great Decease_.

In every teleological system there are conceptions which cannot bear
the test of modern psychological analysis, and in the foregoing
unfilled outline of a great religious hypothesis there will doubtless
be recognized some "ghosts of beliefs haunting those mazes of verbal
propositions in which metaphysicians habitually lose themselves."
But truths will be perceived also,--grand recognitions of the law of
ethical evolution, of the price of progress, and of our relation to the
changeless Reality abiding beyond all change.

The Buddhist estimate of the enormity of that opposition to moral
progress which humanity must overcome is fully sustained by our
scientific knowledge of the past and perception of the future.
Mental and moral advance has thus far been effected only through
constant struggle against inheritances older than reason or moral
feeling,--against the instincts and the appetites of primitive brute
life. And the Buddhist teaching, that the average man can hope to
leave his worse nature behind him only after the lapse of millions of
future lives, is much more of a truth than of a theory. Only through
millions of births have we been able to reach even this our present
imperfect state; and the dark bequests of our darkest past are still
strong enough betimes to prevail over reason and ethical feeling. Every
future forward pace upon the moral path will have to be taken against
the massed effort of millions of ghostly wills. For those past selves
which priest and poet have told us to use as steps to higher things are
not dead, nor even likely to die for a thousand generations to come:
they are too much alive;--they have still power to clutch the climbing
feet,--sometimes even to fling back the climber into the primeval slime.

Again, in its legend of the Heavens of Desire,--progress through which
depends upon the ability of triumphant virtue to refuse what it has
won,--Buddhism gives us a wonder-story full of evolutional truth.
The difficulties of moral self-elevation do not disappear with the
amelioration of material social conditions;--in our own day they rather
increase. As life becomes more complex, more multiform, so likewise
do the obstacles to ethical advance,--so likewise do the results of
thoughts and acts. The expansion of intellectual power, the refinement
of sensibility, the enlargement of the sympathies, the intensive
quickening of the sense of beauty,--all multiply ethical dangers just
as certainly as they multiply ethical opportunities. The highest
material results of civilization, and the increase of possibilities of
pleasure, exact an exercise of self-mastery and a power of, ethical
balance, needless and impossible in older and lower states of existence.

The Buddhist doctrine of impermanency is the doctrine also of
modern science: either might be uttered in the words of the other.
"Natural knowledge," wrote Huxley in one of his latest and finest
essays, "tends more and more to the conclusion that 'all the choir
of heaven and furniture of the earth' are the transitory forms of
parcels of cosmic substance wending along the road of evolution from
nebulous potentiality,--through endless growths of sun and planet
and satellite,--through all varieties of matter,--through infinite
diversities of life and thought,--possibly through modes of being of
which we neither have a conception nor are competent to form any,--back
to the indefinable latency from which they arose. Thus the most obvious
attribute of the Cosmos is its impermanency."[1]

And, finally, it may be said that Buddhism not only presents remarkable
accordance with nineteenth century thought in regard to the instability
of all integrations, the ethical signification of heredity, the lesson
of mental evolution, the duty of moral progress, but it also agrees
with science in repudiating equally our doctrines of materialism and
of spiritualism, our theory of a Creator and of special creation,
and our belief in the immortality of the soul. Yet, in spite of this
repudiation of the very foundations of Occidental religion, it has been
able to give us the revelation of larger religious possibilities,--the
suggestions of a universal scientific creed nobler than any which
has ever existed. Precisely in that period of our own intellectual
evolution when faith in a personal God is passing away,--when the
belief in an individual soul is becoming impossible,--when the most
religious minds shrink from everything that we have been calling
religion,--when the universal doubt is an ever-growing weight upon
ethical aspiration,--light is offered from the East. There we find
ourselves in presence of an older and a vaster faith,--holding no gross
anthropomorphic conceptions of the immeasurable Reality, and denying
the existence of soul, but nevertheless inculcating a system of morals
superior to any other, and maintaining a hope which no possible future
form of positive knowledge can destroy. Reinforced by the teaching
of science, the teaching of this more ancient faith is that for
thousands of years we have been thinking inside-out and upside-down.
The only reality is One;--all that we have taken for Substance is only
Shadow;--the physical is the unreal;--_and the outer-man is the ghost_.

[Footnote 1: _Evolution and Ethics_.]




The following is not a story,--at least it is not one of _my_ stories.
It is only the translation of an old Japanese document--or rather
series of documents--very much signed and sealed, and dating back to
the early part of the present century. Various authors appear to have
made use of these documents: especially the compiler of the curious
collection of Buddhist stories entitled _Bukkyō-hyakkwa-zenshō_, to
whom they furnished the material of the twenty-sixth narrative in that
work. The present translation, however, was made from a manuscript copy
discovered in a private library in Tōkyō. I am responsible for nothing
beyond a few notes appended to the text.

Although the beginning will probably prove dry reading, I presume to
advise the perusal of the whole translation from first to last, because
it suggests many things besides the possibility of remembering former
births. It will be found to reflect something of the feudal Japan
passed away, and something of the old-time faith,--not the higher
Buddhism, but what is incomparably more difficult for any Occidental
to obtain a glimpse of: the common ideas of the people concerning
preëxistence and rebirth. And in view of this fact, the exactness
of the official investigations, and the credibility of the evidence
accepted, necessarily become questions of minor importance.



_The case of Katsugorō, nine years old, second son of Genzō, a farmer
on my estate, dwelling in the Village called Nakano-mura in the
District called Tamagōri in the Province of Musashi._

Some time during the autumn of last year, the above-mentioned
Katsugorō, the son of Genzō, told to his elder sister the story of his
previous existence and of his rebirth. But as it seemed to be only the
fancy of a child, she gave little heed to it. Afterwards, however, when
Katsugorō had told her the same story over and over again, she began to
think that it was a strange thing, and she told her parents about it.

During the twelfth month of the past year, Genzō himself questioned
Katsugorō about the matter, whereupon Katsugorō declared,--

That he had been in his former existence the son of a certain Kyūbei,
a farmer of Hodokubo-mura, which is a village within the jurisdiction
of the Lord Komiya, in the district called Tamagōri, in the province of

That he, Katsugorō, the son of Kyūbei, had died of smallpox at the age
of six years,--and

That he had been reborn thereafter into the family of the Genzō

Though this seemed unbelievable, the boy repeated all the circumstances
of his story with so much exactness and apparent certainty, that the
Headman and the elders of the village made a formal investigation
of the case. As the news of this event soon spread, it was heard
by the family of a certain Hanshirō, living in the village called
Hodokubo-mura; and Hanshirō then came to the house of the Genzō
aforesaid, a farmer belonging to my estate, and found that everything
was true which the boy had said about the personal appearance and the
facial characteristics of his former parents, and about the aspect of
the house which had been his home in his previous birth. Katsugorō was
then taken to the house of Hanshirō in Hodokubo-mura; and the people
there said that he looked very much like their Tōzō, who had died a
number of years before, at the age of six. Since then the two families
have been visiting each other at intervals. The people of other
neighboring villages seem to have heard of the matter; and now persons
come daily from various places to see Katsugorō.


A deposition regarding the above facts having been made before me by
persons dwelling on my estate, I summoned the man Genzō to my house,
and there examined him. His answers to my questions did not contradict
the statements before-mentioned made by other parties.

Occasionally in the world some rumor of such a matter as this spreads
among the people. Indeed, it is hard to believe such things. But I beg
to make report of the present case, hoping the same will reach your
august ear,--so that I may not be charged with negligence.


_The Fourth Month and the Sixth Year of Bunsei_ [1823].


I have been favored with the accompanying copy of the report of Tamon
Dempachirō by Shiga Hyoëmon Sama, who brought it to me; and I take
great pleasure in sending it to you. I think that it might be well for
you to preserve it, together with the writing from Kwan-zan Sama, which
you kindly showed me the other day.

[Signed] KAZUNAWO.

_The twenty-first day of the Sixth Month_. [No other date.]


I herewith enclose and send you the account of the rebirth of
Katsugorō. I have written it in the popular style, thinking that it
might have a good effect in helping to silence those who do not believe
in the doctrines of the Buddha. As a literary work it is, of course, a
wretched thing. I send it to you supposing that it could only amuse you
from that point of view. But as for the relation itself, it is without
mistake; for I myself heard it from the grandmother of Katsugorō. When
you have read it, please return it to me.

[Signed] KWANZAN.

Twentieth day. [No date.]



4.--(Introductory Note by the Priest Teikin.)

This is the account of a true fact; for it has been written by
Matsudaira Kwanzan Sama, who himself went [to Nakano-mura] on the
twenty-second day of the third month of this year for the special
purpose of inquiring about the matter.

After having obtained a glimpse of Katsugoro, he questioned the boy's
grandmother as to every particular; and he wrote down her answers
exactly as they were given.

Afterwards, the said Kwanzan Sama condescended to honor this temple
with a visit on the fourteenth day of this fourth month, and with his
own august lips told me about his visit to the family of the aforesaid
Katsugorō. Furthermore, he vouchsafed me the favor of permitting me to
read the before-mentioned writing, on the twentieth day of this same
month. And, availing myself of the privilege, I immediately made a copy
of the writing.

[Signed]      TEIKIN SŌ

                                                    Facsimile of the
                                                    priest's kakihan,
                                                    or private
                                                    made with the

_The twenty-first day of the Fourth Month of the Sixth Year of Bunsei_



[_Family of Genzō_.]

KATSUGORŌ.--Born the 10th day of the 10th month of the twelfth year
of Bunkwa [1815]. Nine years old this sixth year of Bunsei [1823].[1]
Second son of Genzō, a farmer living in Tanitsuiri in Nakano-mura,
district of Tamagōri, province of Musashi.--Estate of Tamon
Dempachirō, whose yashiki is in the street called Shichikenchō, Nedzu,
Yedo.--Jurisdiction of Yusuki.

GENZŌ.--Father of Katsugorō. Family name, Koyada. Forty-nine years old
this sixth year of Bunsei. Being poor, he occupies himself with the
making of baskets, which he sells in Yedo. The name of the inn at which
he lodges while in Yedo is Sagamiya, kept by one Kihei, in Bakuro-chō.

SEI.--Wife of Genzō and mother of Katsugoro. Thirty-nine years old this
sixth year of Bunsei. Daughter of Murata Kichitarō, samurai,--once an
archer in the service of the Lord of Owari. When Sei was twelve years
old she was a maid-servant, it is said, in the house of Honda Dainoshin
Dono. When she was thirteen years old, her father, Kichitarō was
dismissed forever for a certain cause from the service of the Lord of
Owari, and he became a rōnin.[2] He died at the age of seventy-five, on
the twenty-fifth day of the fourth month of the fourth year of Bunkwa
[1807]. His grave is in the cemetery of the temple called Eirin-ji, of
the Zen sect, in the village of Shimo-Yusuki.

TSUYA.--Grandmother of Katsugoro. Seventy-two years old this sixth year
of Bunsei. When young she served as maid in the household of Matsudaira
Oki-no-Kami Dono [Daimyō].

FUSA.--Elder sister of Katsugoro. Fifteen years old this year.

OTOJIRŌ.--Elder brother of Katsugoro. Fourteen years old this year.

TSUNÉ.--Younger sister of Katsugoro. Four years old this year.

[_Family of Hanshirō_.]

TŌZŌ.--Died at the age of six in Hodo-kubo-mura, in the district
called Tamagori in the province of Musashi. Estate of Nakané Uyemon,
whose yashiki is in the street Ata-rashi-bashi-dōri, Shitaya, Yedo.
Jurisdiction of Komiya.--[Tōzō] was born in the second year of
Bunkwa [1805], and died at about the fourth hour of the day [10
_o'clock in the morning_] on the fourth clay of the second month of
the seventh year of Bunkwa [1810]. The sickness of which he died
was smallpox. Buried in the graveyard on the hill above the village
before-mentioned,--Hodokubo-mura.--Parochial temple: Iwōji in
Misawa-mura. Sect: Zen-shū. Last year the fifth year of Bunkwa [1822],
the _jiū-san kwaiki_[3] was said for Tōzō.

HANSHIRŌ.--Stepfather of Tōzō. Family name: Suzaki. Fifty years old
this sixth year of Bunsei.

SHIDZU.--Mother of Tōzō. Forty-nine years old this sixth year of Bunsei.

KYŪBEI (afterwards TOGŌRŌ).--Real father of Tōzō. Original name,
Kyūbei, afterwards changed to Togōrō. Died at the age of forty-eight,
in the sixth year of Bunkwa [1809], when Tözö was five years old. To
replace him, Hanshirō became an _iri-muko_.[4]

CHILDREN: TWO BOYS AND TWO GIRLS.--These are Hanshirō's children by the
mother of Tōzō.


Some time in the eleventh month of the past year, when Katsugorō was
playing in the rice-field with his elder sister, Fusa, he asked her,--
"Elder Sister, where did you come from before you were born into our

Fusa answered him:--

"How can I know what happened to me before I was born?"

Katsugoro looked surprised and exclaimed:

"Then you cannot remember anything that happened before you were born?"

"Do _you_ remember?" asked Fusa.

"Indeed I do," replied Katsugorō. "I used to be the son of Kyūbei San
of Hodo-kubo, and my name was then Tōzō--do you not know all that?"

"Ah!" said Fusa, "I shall tell father and mother about it."

But Katsugorō at once began to cry, and said:--

"Please do not tell!--it would not be good to tell father and mother."

Fusa made answer, after a little while:--

"Well, this time I shall not tell. But the next time that you do
anything naughty, then I will tell."

After that day whenever a dispute arose between the two, the sister
would threaten the brother, saying, "Very well, then--I shall tell
that thing to father and mother." At these words the boy would always
yield to his sister. This happened many times; and the parents one day
overheard Fusa making her threat. Thinking Katsugorō must have been
doing something wrong, they desired to know what the matter was, and
Fusa, being questioned, told them the truth. Then Genzō and his wife,
and Tsuya, the grandmother of Katsugorō, thought it a very strange
thing. They called Katsugorō, therefore; and tried, first by coaxing,
and then by threatening, to make him tell what he had meant by those

After hesitation, Katsugorō said:--"I will tell you everything. I used
to be the son of Kyūbei San of Hodokubo, and the name of my mother
then was O-Shidzu San. When I was five years old, Kyūbei San died; and
there came in his place a man called Hanshirō San, who loved me very
much. But in the following year, when I was six years old, I died of
smallpox. In the third year after that I entered mother's honorable
womb, and was born again."

The parents and the grandmother of the boy wondered greatly at hearing
this; and they decided to make all possible inquiry as to the man
called Hanshirō of Hodokubo. But as they all had to work very hard
every day to earn a living, and so could spare but little time for any
other matter, they could not at once carry out their intention.

Now Sei, the mother of Katsugorō, had nightly to suckle her little
daughter Tsuné, who was four years old;[5]--and Katsugorō therefore
slept with his grandmother, Tsuya. Sometimes he used to talk to her
in bed; and one night when he was in a very confiding mood, she
persuaded him to tell her what happened at the time when he had
died. Then he said:--"Until I was four years old I used to remember
everything; but since then I have become more and more forgetful; and
now I forget many, many things. But I still remember that I died of
smallpox; I remember that I was put into a jar;[6] I remember that I
was buried on a hill. There was a hole made in the ground; and the
people let the jar drop into that hole. It fell pon!--I remember that
sound well. Then somehow I returned to the house, and I stopped on
my own pillow there.[7] In a short time some old man,--looking like
a grandfather--came and took me away. I do not know who or what he
was. As I walked I went through empty air as if flying. I remember it
was neither night nor day as we went: it was always like sunset-time.
I did not feel either warm or cold or hungry. We went very far, I
think; but still I could hear always, faintly, the voices of people
talking at home; and the sound of the Nembutsu[8] being said for me.
I remember also that when the people at home set offerings of hot
_botamochi_[9] before the household shrinen [_butsudan_], I inhaled
the vapor of the offerings.... Grandmother, never forget to offer warm
food to the honorable dead [_Hotoké Sama_], and do not forget to give
to priests--I am sure it is very good to do these things.[10] ... After
that, I only remember that the old man led me by some roundabout way
to this place--I remember we passed the road beyond the village. Then
we came here, and he pointed to this house, and said to me:--'Now you
must be reborn,--for it is three years since you died. You are to be
reborn in that house. The person who will become your grandmother is
very kind; so it will be well for you to be conceived and born there.'
After saying this, the old man went away. I remained a little time
under the kaki-tree before the entrance of this house. Then I was
going to enter when I heard talking inside: some one said that because
father was now earning so little, mother would have to go to service in
Yedo. I thought, "I will not go into that house;" and I stopped three
days in the garden. On the third clay it was decided that, after all,
mother would not have to go to Yedo. The same night I passed into the
house through a knot-hole in the sliding-shutters;--and after that I
stayed for three days beside the _kamado_.[11] Then I entered mother's
honorable womb.[12] ... I remember that I was born without any pain at
all.--Grandmother, you may tell this to father and mother, but please
never tell it to anybody else."


The grandmother told Genzō and his wife what Katsugorō had related to
her; and after that the boy was not afraid to speak freely with his
parents on the subject of his former existence, and would often say
to them: "I want to go to Hodokubo. Please let me make a visit to the
tomb of Kyūbei San." Genzō thought that Katsugorō, being a strange
child, would probably die before long, and that it might therefore be
better to make inquiry at once as to whether there really was a man
in Hodokubo called Hanshirō. But he did not wish to make the inquiry
himself, because for a man to do so [_under such circumstances?_] would
seem inconsiderate or forward. Therefore, instead of going himself to
Hodokubo, he asked his mother Tsuya, on the twentieth day of the first
month of this year, to take her grandson there.

Tsuya went with Katsugorō to Hodokubo; and when they entered the
village she pointed to the nearer dwellings, and asked the boy,"
Which house is it?--is it this house or that one?" "No," answered
Katsugorō,--"it is further on--much further,"--and he hurried before
her. Reaching a certain dwelling at last, he cried, "This is the
house!"--and ran in, without waiting for his grandmother. Tsuya
followed him in, and asked the people there what was the name of the
owner of the house. "Hanshirō," one of them answered. She asked the
name of Hanshirō's wife. "Shidzu," was the reply. Then she asked
whether there had ever been a son called Tōzō born in that house.
"Yes," was the answer; "but that boy died thirteen years ago, when he
was six years old."

Then for the first time Tsuya was convinced that Katsugorō had spoken
the truth; and she could not help shedding tears. She related to
the people of the house all that Katsugorō had told her about his
remembrance of his former birth. Then Hanshirō and his wife wondered
greatly. They caressed Katsugorō and wept; and they remarked that he
was much handsomer now than he had been as Tözö before dying at the
age of six. In the mean time, Katsugorō was looking all about; and
seeing the roof of a tobacco shop opposite to the house of Hanshirō,
he pointed to it, and said:--"That used not to be there." And he also
said,--"The tree yonder used not to be there." All this was true. So
from the minds of Hanshirō and his wife every doubt departed [_ga wo

On the same day Tsuya and Katsugorō returned to Tanitsuiri,
Nakano-mura. Afterwards Genzō sent his son several times to Hanshirō's
house, and allowed him to visit the tomb of Kyūbei his real father in
his previous existence.

Sometimes Katsugorō says:--"I am a _Nono-Sama_:[13] therefore please
be kind to me." Sometimes he also says to his grandmother:--"I think
I shall die when I am sixteen; but, as Ontaké Sama[14] has taught us,
dying is not a matter to be afraid of." When his parents ask him,
"Would you not like to become a priest?" he answers, "I would rather
not be a priest."

The village people do not call him Katsugoro any more; they have
nicknamed him "Hodokubo-Kozō" (the Acolyte of Hodokubo).[15] When any
one visits the house to see him, he becomes shy at once, and runs to
hide himself in the inner apartments. So it is not possible to have any
direct conversation with him. I have written down this account exactly
as his grandmother gave it to me.

I asked whether Genzō, his wife, or Tsuya, could any of them remember
having done any virtuous deeds. Genzō and his wife said that they
had never done anything especially virtuous; but that Tsuya, the
grandmother, had always been in the habit of repeating the _Nembutsu_
every morning and evening, and that she never failed to give two
_mon_[16] to any priest or pilgrim who came to the door. But excepting
these small matters, she never had done anything which could be called
a particularly virtuous act.

(--This is the End of the Relation of the Rebirth of Katsugorō.)

7.--(Note by the Translator.) The foregoing is taken from a manuscript
entitled _Chin Setsu Shū Ki_; or, "Manuscript-Collection of Uncommon
Stories,"--made between the fourth month of the sixth year of Bunsei
and the tenth month of the sixth year of Tempo [1823-1835]. At the
end of the manuscript is written,--"From the years of Bunsei to the
years of Tempo.--Minamisempa, Owner: Kurumachō, Shiba, Yedo" Under
this, again, is the following note:--"Bought from Yamatoya Sakujirō
Nishinohubo: twenty-first day [?], Second Year of Meiji [1869]."
From which it would appear that the manuscript had been written by
Minamisempa, who collected stories told to him, or copied them from
manuscripts obtained by him, during the thirteen years from 1823 to
1835, inclusive.


Perhaps somebody will now be unreasonable enough to ask whether I
believe this story,--as if my belief or disbelief had anything to
do with the matter! The question of the possibility of remembering
former births seems to me to depend upon the question what it is that
remembers. If it is the Infinite All-Self in each one of us, then I can
believe the whole of the Jatakas without any trouble. As to the False
Self, the mere woof and warp of sensation and desire, then I can best
express my idea by relating a dream which I once dreamed. Whether it
was a dream of the night or a dream of the day need not concern any
one, since it was only a dream.

[Footnote 1: The Western reader is requested to bear in mind that the
year in which a Japanese child is born is counted always as one year in
the reckoning of age.]

[Footnote 2: Lit.: "A wave-man,"--a wandering samurai without a lord.
The rōnin were generally a desperate and very dangerous class; but
there were some fine characters among them.]

[Footnote 3: The Buddhist services for the dead are celebrated at
regular intervals, increasing successively in length, until the time
of one hundred years after death. The _jiū-san kwaiki_ is the service
for the thirteenth year after death. By "thirteenth" in the context the
reader must understand that the year in which the death took place is
counted for one year.]

[Footnote 4: The second husband, by adoption, of a daughter who lives
with her own parents.]

[Footnote 5: Children in Japan, among the poorer classes, are not
weaned until an age much later than what is considered the proper age
for weaning children in Western countries. But "four years old" in this
text may mean considerably less, than three by Western reckoning.]

[Footnote 6: From very ancient time in Japan it has been the custom
to bury the dead in large jars,--usually of red earthenware,--called
_Kamé_. Such jars are still used, although a large proportion of the
dead are buried in wooden coffins of a form unknown in the Occident.]

[Footnote 7: The idea expressed is not that of lying down with the
pillow under the head, but of hovering about the pillow, or resting
upon it as an insect might do. The bodiless spirit is usually said to
rest upon the roof of the home. The apparition of the aged man referred
to in the next sentence seems a thought of Shinto rather than of

[Footnote 8: The repetition of the Buddhist invocation _Namu Amida
Butsu_! is thus named. The _nembutsu_ is repeated by many Buddhist
sects besides the sect of Amida proper,--the Shinshū.]

[Footnote 9: Botamochi, a kind of sugared rice-cake.]

[Footnote 10: Such advice is a commonplace in Japanese Buddhist
literature. By Hotokė Sama here the boy means, not the Buddhas proper,
but the spirits of the dead, hopefully termed Buddhas by those who
loved them,--much as in the West we sometimes speak of our dead as

[Footnote 11: The cooking-place in a Japanese kitchen. Sometimes the
word is translated "kitchen-range," but the _kamado_ is something very
different from a Western kitchen-range.]

[Footnote 12: Here I think it better to omit a couple of sentences
in the original rather too plain for Western taste, yet not without
interest. The meaning of the omitted passages is only that even in the
womb the child acted with consideration, and according to the rules of
filial piety.]

[Footnote 13: _Nono-San_ (or _Sama_) is the child-word for the
Spirits of the dead, for the Buddhas, and for the Shintō Gods,--Kami.
_Nono-San wo ogamu_,--"to pray to the Nono-San," is the child-phrase
for praying to the gods. The spirits of the ancestors become
Nono-San,--_Kami_,--according to Shintō thought.]

[Footnote 14: The reference here to Ontaké Sama has a particular
interest, but will need some considerable explanation.

Ontaké, or Mitaké, is the name of a celebrated holy peak in the
province of Shinano--a great resort for pilgrims. During the
Tokugawa Shōgunate, a priest called Isshin, of the Risshū Buddhists,
made a pilgrimage to that mountain. Returning to his native place
(Sakamoto-chō, Shitaya, Yedo), he began to preach certain new
doctrines, and to make for himself a reputation as a miracle-worker,
by virtue of powers said to have been gained during his pilgrimage to
Ontaké. The Shōgunate considered him a dangerous person, and banished
him to the island of Hachijō, where he remained for some years.
Afterwards he was allowed to return to Yedo, and there to preach his
new faith,--to which he gave the name of Azuma-Kyō. It was Buddhist
teaching in a Shintō disguise,--the deities especially adored by its
followers being Okuni-nushi and Sukuna-hi-kona as Buddhist avatars. In
the prayer of the sect called Kaibyaku-Norito it is said:--"The divine
nature is immovable (fudō); yet it moves. It is formless, yet manifests
itself in forms. This is the Incomprehensible Divine Body. In Heaven
and Earth it is called Kami; in all things it is called Spirit; in Man
it is called Mind.... From this only reality came the heavens, the four
oceans, the great whole of the three thousand universes;--from the One
Mind emanate three thousands of great thousands of forms." ...

In the eleventh year of Bunkwa (1814) a man called Shi moyama Osuké,
originally an oil-merchant in Heiyemon-chō, Asakusa, Yedo, organized,
on the basis of Isshin's teaching, a religious association named
Tomoyé-Ko. It flourished until the overthrow of the Shōgunate, when
a law was issued forbidding the teaching of mixed doctrines, and the
blending of Shintō with Buddhist religion. Shimo-yama Osuké then
applied for permission to establish a new Shinto sect, under the name
of Mitaké-Kyō,--popularly called Ontaké-Kyō; and the permission was
given in the sixth year of Meiji (1873). Osuké then remodeled the
Buddhist sutra Fudō Kyō into a Shinto prayer-book, under the title,
Shintō-Fudō-Norito. The sect still flourishes; and one of its chief
temples is situated about a mile from my present residence in Tōkyō.

"Ontaké San" (or "Sama") is a popular name given to the deities adored
by this sect. It really means the Deity dwelling on the peak Mitaké,
or Ontaké. But the name is also sometimes applied to the high-priest
of the sect, who is supposed to be oracularly inspired by the deity
of Ontaké, and to make revelations of truth through the power of the
divinity. In the mouth of the boy Katsugoro "Ontaké Sama" means the
high-priest of that time (1823), almost certainly Osuké himself,--then
chief of the Tomoyé-Kyō.]

[Footnote 15: Kozō is the name given to a Buddhist acolyte, or a youth
studying for the priesthood. But it is also given to errand-boys and
little boy-servants sometimes,--perhaps because in former days the
heads of little boys were shaved. I think that the meaning in this text
is "acolyte."]

[Footnote 16: In that time the name of the smallest of coins = 1/10 of
1 cent. It was about the same as that now called rin, a copper with a
square hole in the middle and bearing Chinese characters.]



Neither personal pain nor personal pleasure can be really expressed
in words. It is never possible to communicate them in their original
form. It is only possible, by vivid portrayal of the circumstances
or conditions causing them, to awaken in sympathetic minds some
kindred qualities of feeling. But if the circumstances causing the
pain or the pleasure be totally foreign to common human experience,
then no representation of them can make fully known the sensations
which they evoked. Hopeless, therefore, any attempt to tell the real
pain of seeing my former births. I can say only that no combination
of suffering possible to _individual_ being could be likened to such
pain,--the pain of countless lives interwoven. It seemed as if every
nerve of me had been prolonged into some monstrous web of sentiency
spun back through a million years,--and as if the whole of that
measureless woof and warp, over all its shivering threads, were pouring
into my consciousness, out of the abysmal past, some ghastliness
without name,--some horror too vast for human brain to hold. For, as
I looked backward, I became double, quadruple, octuple;--I multiplied
by arithmetical progression;--I became hundreds and thousands,--and
feared with the terror of thousands,--and despaired with the anguish
of thousands,--and shuddered with the agony of thousands; yet knew
the pleasure of none. All joys, all delights appeared but mists or
mockeries: only the pain and the fear were real,--and always, always
growing. Then in the moment when sentiency itself seemed bursting into
dissolution, one divine touch ended the frightful vision, and brought
again to me the simple consciousness of the single present. Oh! how
unspeakably delicious that sudden shrinking back out of multiplicity
into unity!--that immense, immeasurable collapse of Self into the blind
oblivious numbness of individuality!


"To others also," said the voice of the divine one who had thus
saved me,--"to others in the like state it has been permitted to see
something of their preëxistence. But no one of them ever could endure
to look far. Power to see all former births belongs only to those
eternally released from the bonds of Self. Such exist outside of
illusion,--outside of form and name; and pain cannot come nigh them.

"But to you, remaining in illusion, not even the Buddha could give
power to look back more than a little way.

"Still you are bewitched by the follies of art and of poetry and of
music,--the delusions of color and form,--the delusions of sensuous
speech, the delusions of sensuous sound.

"Still that apparition called Nature--which is but another name for
emptiness and shadow--deceives and charms you, and fills you with
dreams of longing for the things of sense.

"But he who truly wishes to know, must not love this phantom
Nature,--must not find delight in the radiance of a clear sky,--nor in
the sight of the sea,--nor in the sound of the flowing of rivers,--nor
in the forms of peaks and woods and valleys,--nor in the colors of them.

"He who truly wishes to know must not find delight in contemplating
the works and the deeds of men, nor in hearing their converse, nor in
observing the puppet-play of their passions and of their emotions.
All this is but a weaving of smoke,--a shimmering of vapors,--an
impermanency,--a phantasmagory.

"For the pleasures that men term lofty or noble or sublime are
but larger sensualisms, subtler falsities: venomous fair-seeming
flowerings of selfishness,--all rooted in the elder slime of appetites
and desires. To joy in the radiance of a cloudless day,--to see the
mountains shift their tintings to the wheeling of the sun,--to watch
the passing of waves, the fading of sunsets,--to find charm in the
blossoming of plants or trees: all this is of the senses. Not less
truly of the senses is the pleasure of observing actions called great
or beautiful or heroic,--since it is one with the pleasure of imagining
those things for which men miserably strive in this miserable world:
brief love and fame and honor,--all of which are empty as passing foam.

"Sky, sun, and sea;--the peaks, the woods, the plains;--all splendors
and forms and colors,--are spectres. The feelings and the thoughts and
the acts of men,--whether deemed high or low, noble or ignoble,--all
things imagined or done for any save the eternal purpose, are but
dreams born of dreams and begetting hollowness. To the clear of
sight, all feelings of self,--all love and hate, joy and pain, hope
and regret, are alike shadows;--youth and age, beauty and horror,
sweetness and foulness, are not different;--death and life are one and
the same; and Space and Time exist but as the stage and the order of
the perpetual Shadow-play.

"All that exists in Time must perish. To the Awakened there is no Time
or Space or Change,--no night or day,--no heat or cold,--no moon or
season,--no present, past, or future. Form and the names of form are
alike nothingness:--Knowledge only is real; and unto whomsoever gains
it, the universe becomes a ghost. But it is written:--'_He who hath
overcome Time in the past and the future must be of exceedingly pure

"Such understanding is not yours. Still to your eyes the shadow seems
the substance,--and darkness, light,--and voidness, beauty. And
therefore to see your former births could give you only pain."


I asked:--

"Had I found strength to look back to the beginning,--back to the verge
of Time,--could I have read the Secret of the universe?"

"Nay," was answer made. "Only by Infinite Vision can the Secret be
read. Could you have looked back incomparably further than your power
permitted, then the Past would have become for you the Future. And
could you have endured even yet more, the Future would have orbed back
for you into the Present."

"Yet why?" I murmured, marveling.... "What is the Circle?"

"Circle there is none," was the response;--"Circle there is none but
the great phantom-whirl of birth and death to which, by their own
thoughts and deeds, the ignorant remain condemned. But this has being
only in Time; and Time itself is illusion."

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Gleanings in Buddha-Fields - Studies of Hand and Soul in the Far East" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.