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Title: Out of the East - Reveries and Studies in New Japan
Author: Hearn, Lafcadio
Language: English
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"As far as the east is from the west--"



The Riverside Press, Cambridge







    I. The Dream of a Summer Day
   II. With Kyūshū Students
  III. At Hakata
   IV. Of the Eternal Feminine
    V. Bits of Life and Death
   VI. The Stone Buddha
  VII. Jiujutsu
 VIII. The Bed Bridal
   IX. A Wish fulfilled
    X. In Yokohama
   XI. Yuko: A Reminiscence

"The Dream of a Summer Day" first appeared in the "Japan Daily





The hotel seemed to me a paradise, and the maids thereof celestial
beings. This was because I had just fled away from one of the Open
Ports, where I had ventured to seek comfort in a European hotel,
supplied with all "modern improvements." To find myself at ease once
more in a yukata, seated upon cool, soft matting, waited upon by
sweet-voiced girls, and surrounded by things of beauty, was therefore
like a redemption from all the sorrows of the nineteenth century.
Bamboo-shoots and lotus-bulbs were given me for breakfast, and a fan
from heaven for a keepsake. The design upon that fan represented only
the white rushing burst of one great wave on a beach, and sea-birds
shooting in exultation through the blue overhead. But to behold it
was worth all the trouble of the journey. It was a glory of light, a
thunder of motion, a triumph of sea-wind,--all in one. It made me want
to shout when I looked at it.

Between the cedarn balcony pillars I could see the course of the pretty
gray town following the shore-sweep,--and yellow lazy junks asleep at
anchor,--and the opening of the bay between enormous green cliffs,--and
beyond it the blaze of summer to the horizon. In that horizon there
were mountain shapes faint as old memories. And all things but the gray
town, and the yellow junks, and the green cliffs, were blue.

Then a voice softly toned as a wind-bell began to tinkle words of
courtesy into my reverie, and broke it; and I perceived that the
mistress of the palace had come to thank me for the chadai,[1]
and I prostrated myself before her. She was very young, and more
than pleasant to look upon,--like the moth-maidens, like the
butterfly-women, of Kuni-sada. And I thought at once of death;--for
the beautiful is sometimes a sorrow of anticipation.

She asked whither I honorably intended to go, that she might order a
kuruma for me. And I made answer:--

"To Kumamoto. But the name of your house I much wish to know, that I
may always remember it."

"My guest-rooms," she said, "are augustly insignificant, and my maidens
honorably rude. But the house is called the House of Urashima. And now
I go to order a kuruma."

The music of her voice passed; and I felt enchantment falling all about
me,--like the thrilling of a ghostly web. For the name was the name of
the story of a song that bewitches men.

[1] A little gift of money, always made to a hotel by the guest shortly
after his arrival.


Once you hear the story, you will never be able to forget it. Every
summer when I find myself on the coast,--especially of very soft,
still days,--it haunts me most persistently. There are many native
versions of it which have been the inspiration for countless works
of art. But the most impressive and the most ancient is found in the
"Manyefushifu," a collection of poems dating from the fifth to the
ninth century. From this ancient version the great scholar Aston
translated it into prose, and the great scholar Chamberlain into both
prose and verse. But for English readers I think the most charming form
of it is Chamberlain's version written for children, in the "Japanese
Fairy-Tale Series,"--because of the delicious colored pictures by
native artists. With that little book before me, I shall try to tell
the legend over again in my own words.

Fourteen hundred and sixteen years ago, the fisher-boy Urashima Taro
left the shore of Suminoyé in his boat.

Summer days were then as now,--all drowsy and tender blue, with only
some light, pure white clouds hanging over the mirror of the sea. Then,
too, were the hills the same,--far blue soft shapes melting into the
blue sky. And the winds were lazy.

And presently the boy, also lazy, let his boat drift as he fished. It
was a queer boat, unpainted and rudderless, of a shape you probably
never saw. But still, after fourteen hundred years, there are such
boats to be seen in front of the ancient fishing-hamlets of the coast
of the Sea of Japan.

After long waiting, Urashima caught something, and drew it up to him.
But he found it was only a tortoise.

Now a tortoise is sacred to the Dragon God of the Sea, and the period
of its natural life is a thousand--some say ten thousand--years. So
that to kill it is very wrong. The boy gently unfastened the creature
from his line, and set it free, with a prayer to the gods.

But he caught nothing more. And the day was very warm; and sea and air
and all things were very, very silent. And a great drowsiness grew upon
him,--and he slept in his drifting boat.

Then out of the dreaming of the sea rose up a beautiful girl,--just
as you can see her in the picture to Professor Chamberlain's
"Urashima,"--robed in crimson and blue, with long black hair flowing
down her back even to her feet, after the fashion of a prince's
daughter fourteen hundred years ago.

Gliding over the waters she came, softly as air; and she stood above
the sleeping boy in the boat, and woke him with a light touch, and

"Do not be surprised. My father, the Dragon King of the Sea, sent me to
you, because of your kind heart. For to-day you set free a tortoise.
And now we will go to my father's palace in the island where summer
never dies; and I will be your flower-wife if you wish; and we shall
live there happily forever."

And Urashima wondered more and more as he looked upon her; for she
was more beautiful than any human being, and he could not but love
her. Then he took one oar, and he took another, and they rowed away
together,--just as you may still see, off the far western coast, wife
and husband rowing together, when the fishing-boats flit into the
evening gold.

They rowed away softly and swiftly over the silent blue water down into
the south,--till they came to the island where summer never dies,--and
to the palace of the Dragon King of the Sea.

[Here the text of the little book suddenly shrinks away as you read,
and faint blue ripplings flood the page; and beyond them in a fairy
horizon you can see the long low soft shore of the island, and peaked
roofs rising through evergreen foliage--the roofs of the Sea God's
palace--like the palace of the Mikado Yuriaku, fourteen hundred and
sixteen years ago.]

There strange servitors came to receive them in robes of
ceremony--creatures of the Sea, who paid greeting to Urashima as the
son-in-law of the Dragon King.

So the Sea God's daughter became the bride of Urashima; and it was a
bridal of wondrous splendor; and in the Dragon Palace there was great

And each day for Urashima there were new wonders and new
pleasures:--wonders of the deepest deep brought up by the servants of
the Ocean God;--pleasures of that enchanted land where summer never
dies. And so three years passed.

But in spite of all these things, the fisher-boy felt always a
heaviness at his heart when he thought of his parents waiting alone. So
that at last he prayed his bride to let him go home for a little while
only, just to say one word to his father and mother,--after which he
would hasten hack to her.

At these words she began to weep; and for a long time she continued to
weep silently. Then she said to him: "Since you wish to go, of course
you must go. I fear your going very much; I fear we shall never see
each other again. But I will give you a little box to take with you. It
will help you to come hack to me if you will do what I tell you. Do not
open it. Above all things, do not open it,--no matter what may happen!
Because, if you open it, you will never be able to come hack, and you
will never see me again."

Then she gave him a little lacquered box tied about with a silken cord.
[And that box can be seen unto this day in the temple of Kanagawa, by
the seashore; and the priests there also keep Urashima Tarō's fishing
line, and some strange jewels which he brought back with him from the
realm of the Dragon King.]

But Urashima comforted his bride, and promised her never, never to open
the box--never even to loosen the silken string. Then he passed away
through the summer light over the ever-sleeping sea;--and the shape of
the island where summer never dies faded behind him like a dream;--and
he saw again before him the blue mountains of Japan, sharpening in the
white glow of the northern horizon.

Again at last he glided into his native bay;--again he stood upon its
beach. But as he looked, there came upon him a great bewilderment,--a
weird doubt.

For the place was at once the same, and yet not the same. The cottage
of his fathers had disappeared. There was a village; but the shapes
of the houses were all strange, and the trees were strange, and the
fields, and even the faces of the people. Nearly all remembered
landmarks were gone;--the Shintō temple appeared to have been rebuilt
in a new place; the woods had vanished from the neighboring slopes.
Only the voice of the little stream flowing through the settlement,
and the forms of the mountains, were still the same. All else was
unfamiliar and new. In vain he tried to find the dwelling of his
parents; and the fisherfolk stared wonderingly at him; and he could not
remember having ever seen any of those faces before.

There came along a very old man, leaning on a stick, and Urashima asked
him the way to the house of the Urashima family. But the old man looked
quite astonished, and made him repeat the question many times, and then
cried out:--

"Urashima Tarō! Where do you come from that you do not know the story?
Urashima Tarō! Why, it is more than four hundred years since he was
drowned, and a monument is erected to his memory in the graveyard. The
graves of all his people are in that graveyard,--the old graveyard
which is not now used any more. Urashima Tarō! How can you he so
foolish as to ask where his house is?" And the old man hobbled on,
laughing at the simplicity of his questioner.

But Urashima went to the village graveyard,--the old graveyard that
was not used any more,--and there he found his own tombstone, and
the tombstones of his father and his mother and his kindred, and
the tombstones of many others he had known. So old they were, so
moss-eaten, that it was very hard to read the names upon them.

Then he knew himself the victim of some strange illusion, and he took
his way hack to the beach,--always carrying in his hand the box, the
gift of the Sea God's daughter. But what was this illusion? And what
could be in that box? Or might not that which was in the box be the
cause of the illusion? Doubt mastered faith. Recklessly he broke the
promise made to his beloved;--he loosened the silken cord;--he opened
the box!

Instantly, without any sound, there burst from it a white cold spectral
vapor that rose in air like a summer cloud, and began to drift away
swiftly into the south, over the silent sea. There was nothing else in
the box.

And Urashima then knew that he had destroyed his own happiness,--that
he could never again return to his beloved, the daughter of the Ocean
King. So that he wept and cried out bitterly in his despair.

Yet for a moment only. In another, he himself was changed. An icy chill
shot through all his blood;--his teeth fell out; his face shriveled;
his hair turned white as snow; his limbs withered; his strength ebbed;
he sank down lifeless on the sand, crushed by the weight of four
hundred winters.

Now in the official annals of the Emperors it is written that "in the
twenty-first year of the Mikado Yuriaku, the boy Urashima of Midzunoyé,
in the district of Yosa, in the province of Tango, a descendant of
the divinity Shimanemi, went to Elysium [_Hōraï_] in a fishing-boat."
After this there is no more news of Urashima during the reigns of
thirty-one emperors and empresses--that is, from the fifth until the
ninth century. And then the annals announce that "in the second year
of Tenchiyō, in the reign of the Mikado Go-Junwa, the boy Urashima
returned, and presently departed again, none knew whither."[1]


The fairy mistress came back to tell me that everything was ready,
and tried to lift my valise in her slender hands,--which I prevented
her from doing, because it was heavy. Then she laughed, but would not
suffer that I should carry it myself, and summoned a sea-creature with
Chinese characters upon his back. I made obeisance to her; and she
prayed me to remember the unworthy house despite the rudeness of the
maidens. "And you will pay the kurumaya," she said, "only seventy-five

Then I slipped into the vehicle; and in a few minutes the little gray
town had vanished behind a curve. I was rolling along a white road
overlooking the shore. To the right were pale brown cliffs; to the left
only space and sea.

Mile after mile I rolled along that shore, looking into the infinite
light. All was steeped in blue,--a marvelous blue, like that which
comes and goes in the heart of a great shell. Glowing blue sea met
hollow blue sky in a brightness of electric fusion; and vast blue
apparitions--the mountains of Higo--angled up through the blaze, like
masses of amethyst. What a blue transparency! The universal color
was broken only by the dazzling white of a few high summer clouds,
motionlessly curled above one phantom peak in the offing. They threw
down upon the water snowy tremulous lights. Midges of ships creeping
far away seemed to pull long threads after them,--the only sharp lines
in all that hazy glory. But what divine clouds! White purified spirits
of clouds, resting on their way to the beatitude of Nirvana? Or perhaps
the mists escaped from Urashima's box a thousand years ago?

The gnat of the soul of me flitted out into that dream of blue, 'twixt
sea and sun,--hummed back to the shore of Suminoyé through the luminous
ghosts of fourteen hundred summers. Vaguely I felt beneath me the
drifting of a keel. It was the time of the Mikado Yuriaku. And the
Daughter of the Dragon King said tinklingly,--"Now we will go to my
father's palace where it is always blue." "Why always blue?" I asked.
"Because," she said, "I put all the clouds into the Box." "But I must
go home," I answered resolutely. "Then," she said, "you will pay the
kurumaya only seventy-five sen."

Wherewith I woke into Doyō, or the Period of Greatest Heat, in the
twenty-sixth year of Meiji--and saw proof of the era in a line of
telegraph poles reaching out of sight on the land side of the way. The
kuruma was still fleeing by the shore, before the same blue vision of
sky, peak, and sea; but the white clouds were gone!--and there were
no more cliffs close to the road, but fields of rice and of barley
stretching to far-off hills. The telegraph lines absorbed my attention
for a moment, because on the top wire, and only on the top wire, hosts
of little birds were perched, all with their heads to the road, and
nowise disturbed by our coming. They remained quite still, looking down
upon us as mere passing phenomena. There were hundreds and hundreds
in rank, for miles and miles. And I could not see one having its tail
turned to the road. Why they sat thus, and what they were watching
or waiting for, I could not guess. At intervals I waved my hat and
shouted, to startle the ranks. Whereupon a few would rise up fluttering
and chippering, and drop back again upon the wire in the same position
as before. The vast majority refused to take me seriously.

The sharp rattle of the wheels was drowned by a deep booming; and as
we whirled past a village I caught sight of an immense drum under an
open shed, beaten by naked men.

"O kurumaya!" I shouted--"that--what is it?"

He, without stopping, shouted back:--- "Everywhere now the same thing
is. Much time-in rain has not been: so the gods-to prayers are made,
and drums are beaten." We flashed through other villages; and I saw
and heard more drums of various sizes, and from hamlets invisible,
over miles of parching rice-fields, yet other drums, like echoings,

[1] See _The Classical Poetry of the Japanese_, by Professor
Chamberlain, in Trübner's _Oriental Series_. According to Western
chronology, Urashima went fishing in 477 A.D., and returned in 825.


Then I began to think about Urashima again. I thought of the pictures
and poems and proverbs recording the influence of the legend upon the
imagination of a race. I thought of an Izumo dancing-girl I saw at
a banquet acting the part of Urashima, with a little lacquered box
whence there issued at the tragical minute a mist of Kyōto incense.
I thought about the antiquity of the beautiful dance,--and therefore
about vanished generations of dancing-girls,--and therefore about dust
in the abstract; which, again, led me to think of dust in the concrete,
as bestirred by the sandals of the kurumaya to whom I was to pay only
seventy-five sen. And I wondered how much of it might be old human
dust, and whether in the eternal order of things the motion of hearts
might be of more consequence than the motion of dust. Then my ancestral
morality took alarm; and I tried to persuade myself that a story which
had lived for a thousand years, gaining fresher charm with the passing
of every century, could only have survived by virtue of some truth in
it. But what truth? For the time being I could find no answer to this

The heat had become very great; and I cried,--

"O kurumaya! the throat of Selfishness is dry; water desirable is."

He, still running, answered:--

"The Village of the Long Beach inside of--not far--a great gush-water
is. There pure august water will be given."

I cried again:--

"O kurumaya!--those little birds as-for, why this way always facing?"

He, running still more swiftly, responded:--"All birds wind-to facing

I laughed first at my own simplicity; then at my
forgetfulness,--remembering I had been told the same thing, somewhere
or other, when a boy. Perhaps the mystery of Urashima might also have
been created by forgetfulness.

I thought again about Urashima. I saw the Daughter of the Dragon King
waiting vainly in the palace made beautiful for his welcome,--and the
pitiless return of the Cloud, announcing what had happened,--and the
loving uncouth sea-creatures, in their garments of great ceremony,
trying to comfort her. But in the real story there was nothing of all
this; and the pity of the people seemed to be all for Urashima. And I
began to discourse with myself thus:--

Is it right to pity Urashima at all? Of course he was bewildered by the
gods. But who is not bewildered by the gods? What is Life itself but a
bewilderment? And Urashima in his bewilderment doubted the purpose of
the gods, and opened the box. Then he died without any trouble, and the
people built a shrine to him as Urashima Miō-jin. Why, then, so much

Things are quite differently managed in the West. After disobeying
Western gods, we have still to remain alive and to learn the height and
the breadth and the depth of superlative sorrow. We are not allowed to
die quite comfortably just at the best possible time: much less are we
suffered to become after death small gods in our own right. How can
we pity the folly of Urashima after he had lived so long alone with
visible gods.

Perhaps the fact that we do may answer the riddle. This pity must be
self-pity; wherefore the legend may be the legend of a myriad souls.
The thought of it comes just at a particular time of blue light and
soft wind,--and always like an old reproach. It has too intimate
relation to a season and the feeling of a season not to be also related
to something real in one's life, or in the lives of one's ancestors.
But what was that real something? Who was the Daughter of the Dragon
King? Where was the island of unending summer? And what was the cloud
in the box?

I cannot answer all those questions. I know this only,--which is not at
all new:--

I have memory of a place and a magical time in which the Sun and the
Moon were larger and brighter than now. Whether it was of this life or
of some life before I cannot tell. But I know the sky was very much
more blue, and nearer to the world,--almost as it seems to become above
the masts of a steamer steaming into equatorial summer. The sea was
alive, and used to talk,--and the Wind made me cry out for joy when
it touched me. Once or twice during other years, in divine days lived
among the peaks, I have dreamed just for a moment that the same wind
was blowing,--but it was only a remembrance.

Also in that place the clouds were wonderful, and of colors for which
there are no names at all,--colors that used to make me hungry and
thirsty. I remember, too, that the days were ever so much longer
than these days,--and that every day there were new wonders and new
pleasures for me. And all that country and time were softly ruled by
One who thought only of ways to make me happy. Sometimes I would refuse
to be made happy, and that always caused her pain, although she was
divine;--and I remember that I tried very hard to be sorry. When day
was done, and there fell the great hush of the light before moonrise,
she would tell me stories that made me tingle from head to foot with
pleasure. I have never heard any other stories half so beautiful. And
when the pleasure became too great, she would sing a weird little song
which always brought sleep. At last there came a parting day; and she
wept, and told me of a charm she had given that I must never, never
lose, because it would keep me young, and give me power to return. But
I never returned. And the years went; and one day I knew that I had
lost the charm, and had become ridiculously old.


The Village of the Long Beach is at the foot of a green cliff near the
road, and consists of a dozen thatched cottages clustered about a rocky
pool, shaded by pines. The basin overflows with cold water, supplied
by a stream that leaps straight from the heart of the cliff,--just as
folks imagine that a poem ought to spring straight from the heart of a
poet. It was evidently a favorite halting-place, judging by the number
of kuruma and of people resting. There were benches under the trees;
and, after having allayed thirst, I sat down to smoke and to look at
the women washing clothes and the travelers refreshing themselves at
the pool,--while my kurumaya stripped, and proceeded to dash buckets of
cold water over his body. Then tea was brought me by a young man with
a baby on his back; and I tried to play with the baby, which said "Ah,

Such are the first sounds uttered by a Japanese babe. But they are
purely Oriental; and in Itomaji should be written _Aba_. And, as
an utterance untaught, _Aba_ is interesting. It is in Japanese
child-speech the word for "good-by,"--precisely the last we would
expect an infant to pronounce on entering into this world of illusion.
To whom or to what is the little soul saying good-by?--to friends in
a previous state of existence still freshly remembered?--to comrades
of its shadowy journey from nobody--knows--where? Such theorizing is
tolerably safe, from a pious point of view, since the child can never
decide for us. What its thoughts were at that mysterious moment of
first speech, it will have forgotten long before it has become able to
answer questions.

Unexpectedly, a queer recollection came to me,--resurrected, perhaps,
by the sight of the young man with the baby,--perhaps by the song of
the water in the cliff: the recollection of a story:--

Long, long ago there lived somewhere among the mountains a poor
wood-cutter and his wife. They were very old, and had no children.
Every day the husband went alone to the forest to cut wood, while the
wife sat weaving at home.

One day the old man went farther into the forest than was his custom,
to seek a certain kind of wood; and he suddenly found himself at
the edge of a little spring he had never seen before. The water was
strangely clear and cold, and he was thirsty; for the day was hot,
and he had been working hard. So he doffed his great straw hat, knelt
down, and took a long drink. That water seemed to refresh him in a most
extraordinary way. Then he caught sight of his own face in the spring,
and started back. It was certainly his own face, but not at all as he
was accustomed to see it in the old mirror at home. It was the face of
a very young man! He could not believe his eyes. He put up both hands
to his head, which had been quite bald only a moment before. It was
covered with thick black hair. And his face had become smooth as a
boy's; every wrinkle was gone. At the same moment he discovered himself
full of new strength. He stared in astonishment at the limbs that had
been so long withered by age; they were now shapely and hard with dense
young muscle. Unknowingly he had drunk at the Fountain of Youth; and
that draught had transformed him.

First, he leaped high and shouted for joy; then he ran home faster than
he had ever run before in his life. When he entered his house his wife
was frightened,--because she took him for a stranger; and when he told
her the wonder, she could not at once believe him. But after a long
time he was able to convince her that the young man she now saw before
her was really her husband; and he told her where the spring was, and
asked her to go there with him.

Then she said: "You have become so handsome and so young that you
cannot continue to love an old woman;--so I must drink some of that
water immediately. But it will never do for both of us to be away from
the house at the same time. Do you wait here while I go." And she ran
to the woods all by herself.

She found the spring and knelt down, and began to drink. Oh! how cool
and sweet that water was! She drank and drank and drank, and stopped
for breath only to begin again.

Her husband waited for her impatiently; he expected to see her come
back changed into a pretty slender girl. But she did not come back at
all. He got anxious, shut up the house, and went to look for her.

When he reached the spring, he could not see her. He was just on the
point of returning when he heard a little wail in the high grass near
the spring. He searched there and discovered his wife's clothes and a
baby,--a very small baby, perhaps six months old!

For the old woman had drunk too deeply of the magical water; she had
drunk herself far back beyond the time of youth into the period of
speechless infancy.

He took up the child in his arms. It looked at him in a sad, wondering
way. He carried it home,--murmuring to it,--thinking strange,
melancholy thoughts.

In that hour, after my reverie about Urashima, the moral of this story
seemed less satisfactory than in former time. Because by drinking too
deeply of life we do not become young.

Naked and cool my kurumaya returned, and said that because of the heat
he could not finish the promised run of twenty-five miles, but that he
had found another runner to take me the rest of the way. For so much as
he himself had done, he wanted fifty-five sen.

It was really very hot--more than 100° I afterwards learned; and far
away there throbbed continually, like a pulsation of the beat itself,
the sound of great drums beating for rain. And I thought of the
Daughter of the Dragon King.

"Seventy-five sen, she told me," I observed;--"and that promised to be
done has not been done. Nevertheless, seventy-five sen to you shall be
given,--because I am afraid of the gods."

And behind a yet unwearied runner I fled away into the enormous
blaze--in the direction of the great drums.




The students of the Government College, or Higher Middle School,
can scarcely be called boys; their ages ranging from the average of
eighteen, for the lowest class, to that of twenty-five for the highest.
Perhaps the course is too long. The best pupil can hardly hope to reach
the Imperial University before his twenty-third year, and will require
for his entrance thereinto a mastery of written Chinese as well as a
good practical knowledge of either English and German, or of English
and French.[1] Thus he is obliged to learn three languages besides all
that relates to the elegant literature of his own; and the weight of
his task cannot be understood without knowledge of the fact that his
study of Chinese alone is equal to the labor of acquiring six European

The impression produced upon me by the Kumamoto students was very
different from that received on my first acquaintance with my Izumo
pupils. This was not only because the former had left well behind them
the delightfully amiable period of Japanese boyhood, and had developed
into earnest, taciturn men, but also because they represented to a
marked degree what is called Kyūshū character. Kyūshū still remains,
as of yore, the most conservative part of Japan, and Kumamoto, its
chief city, the centre of conservative feeling. This conservatism is,
however, both rational and practical. Kyūshū was not slow in adopting
railroads, improved methods of agriculture, applications of science
to certain industries; but remains of all districts of the Empire
the least inclined to imitation of Western manners and customs. The
ancient samurai spirit still lives on; and that spirit in Kyūshū was
for centuries one that exacted severe simplicity in habits of life.
Sumptuary laws against extravagance in dress and other forms of luxury
used to be rigidly enforced; and though the laws themselves have been
obsolete for a generation, their influence continues to appear in
the very simple attire and the plain, direct manners of the people.
Kumamoto folk are also said to be characterized by their adherence to
traditions of conduct which have been almost forgotten elsewhere, and
by a certain independent frankness in speech and action, difficult
for any foreigner to define, but immediately apparent to an educated
Japanese. And here, too, under the shadow of Kiyomasa's mighty
fortress,--now occupied by an immense garrison,--national sentiment is
declared to be stronger than in the very capital itself,--the spirit
of loyalty and the love of country. Kumamoto is proud of all these
things, and boasts of her traditions. Indeed, she has nothing else to
boast of. A vast, straggling, dull, unsightly town is Kumamoto: there
are no quaint, pretty streets, no great temples, no wonderful gardens.
Burnt to the ground in the civil war of the tenth Meiji, the place
still gives you the impression of a wilderness of flimsy shelters
erected in haste almost before the soil had ceased to smoke. There are
no remarkable places to visit (not, at least, within city limits),--no
sights,--few amusements. For this very reason the college is thought
to be well located: there are neither temptations nor distractions for
its inmates. But for another reason, also, rich men far away in the
capital try to send their sons to Kumamoto. It is considered desirable
that a young man should be imbued with what is called "the Kyūshū
spirit," and should acquire what might be termed the Kyūshū "tone." The
students of Kumamoto are said to be the most peculiar students in the
Empire by reason of this "tone." I have never been able to learn enough
about it to define it well; but it is evidently a something akin to the
deportment of the old Kyūshū samurai. Certainly the students sent from
Tokyo or Kyoto to Kyūshū have to adapt themselves to a very different
_milieu_. The Kumamoto, and also the Kagoshima youths,--whenever not
obliged to don military uniform for drill-hours and other special
occasions,--still cling to a costume somewhat resembling that of the
ancient bushi, and therefore celebrated in sword-songs---the short robe
and hakama reaching a little below the knee, and sandals. The material
of the dress is cheap, coarse, and sober in color; cleft stockings
(_tabi_) are seldom worn, except in very cold weather, or during
long marches, to keep the sandal-thongs from cutting into the flesh.
Without being rough, the manners are not soft; and the lads seem to
cultivate a certain outward hardness of character. They can preserve
an imperturbable exterior under quite extraordinary circumstances, but
under this self-control there is a fiery consciousness of strength
which will show itself in a menacing form on rare occasions. They
deserve to be termed rugged men, too, in their own Oriental way. Some
I know, who, though born to comparative wealth, find no pleasure so
keen as that of trying how much physical hardship they can endure. The
greater number would certainly give up their lives without hesitation
rather than their high principles. And a rumor of national danger
would instantly transform the whole four hundred into a body of iron
soldiery. But their outward demeanor is usually impassive to a degree
that is difficult even to understand.

For a long time I used to wonder in vain what feelings, sentiments,
ideas might be hidden beneath all that unsmiling placidity. The native
teachers, _de facto_ government officials, did not appear to be on
intimate terms with any of their pupils: there was no trace of that
affectionate familiarity I had seen in Izumo; the relation between
instructors and instructed seemed to begin and end with the bugle-calls
by which classes were assembled and dismissed. In this I afterwards
found myself partly mistaken; still such relations as actually existed
were for the most part formal rather than natural, and quite unlike
those old-fashioned, loving sympathies of which the memory had always
remained with me since my departure from the Province of the Gods.

But later on, at frequent intervals, there came to me suggestions of an
inner life much more attractive than this outward seeming,--hints of
emotional individuality. A few I obtained in casual conversations, but
the most remarkable in written themes. Subjects given for composition
occasionally coaxed out some totally unexpected blossoming of thoughts
and feelings. A very pleasing fact was the total absence of any false
shyness, or indeed shyness of any sort: the young men were not ashamed
to write exactly what they felt or hoped. They would write about their
homes, about their reverential love to their parents, about happy
experiences of their childhood, about their friendships, about their
adventures during the holidays; and this often in a way I thought
beautiful, because of its artless, absolute sincerity. After a number
of such surprises, I learned to regret keenly that I had not from the
outset kept notes upon all the remarkable compositions received. Once
a week I used to read aloud and correct in class a selection from the
best handed in, correcting the remainder at home. The very best I could
not always presume to read aloud and criticise for the general benefit,
because treating of matters too sacred to be methodically commented
upon, as the following examples may show.

I had given as a subject for English composition this question: "What
do men remember longest?" One student answered that we remember our
happiest moments longer than we remember all other experiences, because
it is in the nature of every rational being to try to forget what is
disagreeable or painful as soon as possible. I received many still
more ingenious answers,--some of which gave proof of a really keen
psychological study of the question. But I liked best of all the simple
reply of one who thought that painful events are longest remembered.
He wrote exactly what follows: I found it needless to alter a single

"What do men remember longest? I think men remember longest that which
they hear or see under painful circumstances.

"When I was only four years old, my dear, dear mother died. It was a
winter's day. The wind was blowing hard in the trees, and round the
roof of our house. There were no leaves on the branches of the trees.
Quails were whistling in the distance,--making melancholy sounds. I
recall something I did. As my mother was lying in bed,--a little
before she died,--I gave her a sweet orange. She smiled and took it,
and tasted it. It was the last time she smiled.... From the moment
when she ceased to breathe to this hour more than sixteen years have
elapsed. But to me the time is as a moment. Now also it is winter. The
winds that blew when my mother died blow just as then; the quails utter
the same cries; all things are the same. But my mother has gone away,
and will never come back again."

The following, also, was written in reply to the same question:--

"The greatest sorrow in my life was my father's death. I was seven
years old. I can remember that he had been ill all day, and that my
toys had been put aside, and that I tried to be very quiet. I had
not seen him that morning, and the day seemed very long. At last I
stole into my father's room, and put my lips close to his cheek, and
whispered, '_Father! father!_'--and his cheek was very cold. He did
not speak. My uncle came, and carried me out of the room, but said
nothing. Then I feared my father would die, because his cheek felt cold
just as my little sister's had been when she died. In the evening a
great many neighbors and other people came to the house, and caressed
me, so that I was happy for a time. But they carried my father away
during the night, and I never saw him after."

[1] This essay was written early in 1894. Since then, the study of
French and of German has been made optional instead of obligatory, and
the Higher School course considerably shortened, by a wise decision
of the late Minister of Education, Mr. Inouye. It is to be hoped that
measures will eventually be taken to render possible making the study
of English also optional. Under existing conditions the study is forced
upon hundreds who can never obtain any benefit from it.


From the foregoing one might suppose a simple style characteristic
of English compositions in Japanese higher schools. Yet the reverse
is the fact. There is a general tendency to prefer big words to
little ones, and long complicated sentences to plain short periods.
For this there are some reasons which would need a philological
essay by Professor Chamberlain to explain. But the tendency in
itself--constantly strengthened by the absurd text-books in use--can
be partly understood from the fact that the very simplest forms of
English expression are the most obscure to a Japanese,--because they
are idiomatic. The student finds them riddles, since the root-ideas
behind them are so different from his own that, to explain those ideas,
it is first necessary to know something of Japanese psychology; and in
avoiding simple idioms he follows instinctively the direction of least

I tried to cultivate an opposite tendency by various devices. Sometimes
I would write familiar stories for the class, all in simple sentences,
and in words of one syllable. Sometimes I would suggest themes to
write upon, of which the nature almost compelled simple treatment. Of
course I was not very successful in my purpose, but one theme chosen
in relation to it--"My First Day at School"--evoked a large number of
compositions that interested me in quite another way, as revelations
of sincerity of feeling and of character. I offer a few selections,
slightly abridged and corrected. Their naïveté is not their least
charm,--especially if one reflect they are not the recollections of
boys. The following seemed to me one of the best:--

"I could not go to school until I was eight years old. I had often
begged my father to let me go, for all my playmates were already
at school; but he would not, thinking I was not strong enough. So I
remained at home, and played with my brother.

"My brother accompanied me to school the first day. He spoke to the
teacher, and then left me. The teacher took me into a room, and
commanded me to sit on a bench, then he also left me. I felt sad as I
sat there in silence: there was no brother to play with now,--only many
strange boys. A bell ring twice; and a teacher entered our classroom,
and told us to take out our slates. Then he wrote a Japanese character
on the blackboard, and told us to copy it. That day he taught us how to
write two Japanese words, and told us some story about a good boy. When
I returned home I ran to my mother, and knelt down by her side to tell
her what the teacher had taught me. Oh! how great my pleasure then was!
I cannot even tell how I felt,--much less write it. I can only say that
I then thought the teacher was a more learned man than father, or any
one else whom I knew,--the most awful, and yet the most kindly person
in the world."

The following also shows the teacher in a very pleasing light:--

"My brother and sister took me to school the first day. I thought I
could sit beside them in the school, as I used to do at home; but
the teacher ordered me to go to a classroom which was very far away
from that of my brother and sister. I insisted upon remaining with my
brother and sister; and when the teacher said that could not be, I
cried and made a great noise. Then they allowed my brother to leave
his own class, and accompany me to mine. But after a while I found
playmates in my own class; and then I was not afraid to be without my

This also is quite pretty and true:--

"A teacher--(I think, the head master) called me to him, and told me
that I must become a great scholar. Then he bade some man take me into
a classroom where there were forty or fifty scholars. I felt afraid and
pleased at the same time, at the thought of having so many playfellows.
They looked at me shyly, and I at them. I was at first afraid to speak
to them. Little boys are innocent like that. But after a while, in some
way or other, we began to play together; and they seemed to be pleased
to have me play with them."

The above three compositions were by young men who had their first
schooling under the existing educational system, which prohibits
harshness on the part of masters. But it would seem that the teachers
of the previous era were less tender. Here are three compositions by
older students who appear to have had quite a different experience:--

1. "Before Meiji, there were no such public schools in Japan as there
are now. But in every province there was a sort of student society
composed of the sons of Samurai. Unless a man were a Samurai, his son
could not enter such a society. It was under the control of the Lord
of the province, who appointed a director to rule the students. The
principal study of the Samurai was that of the Chinese language and
literature. Most of the Statesmen of the present government were
once students in such Samurai schools. Common citizens and country,
people had to send their sons and daughters to primary schools called
_Terakoya_, where all the teaching was usually done by one teacher.
It consisted of little more than reading, writing, calculating, and
some moral instruction. We could learn to write an ordinary letter,
or a very easy essay. At eight years old, I was sent to a terakoya,
as I was not the son of a Samurai. At first I did not want to go; and
every morning my grandfather had to strike me with his stick to make
me go. The discipline at that school was very severe. If a boy did
not obey, he was beaten with a bamboo,--being held down to receive
his punishment. After a year, many public schools were opened: and I
entered a public school."

2. "A great gate, a pompous building, a very large dismal room with
benches in rows,--these I remember. The teachers looked very severe;
I did not like their faces. I sat on a bench in the room and felt
hateful. The teachers seemed unkind; none of the boys knew me, or
spoke to me. A teacher stood up by the blackboard, and began to call
the names. He had a whip in his band. He called my name. I could not
answer, and burst out crying. So I was sent borne. That was my first
day at school."

3. "When I was seven years old I was obliged to enter a school in my
native village. My father gave me two or three writing-brushes and some
paper;--I was very glad to get them, and promised to study as earnestly
as I could. But how unpleasant the first day at school was! When I went
to the school, none of the students knew me, and I found myself without
a friend. I entered a classroom. A teacher, with a whip in his hand,
called my name in a _large_ voice. I was very much surprised at it,
and so frightened that I could not help crying. The boys laughed very
loudly at me; but the teacher scolded them, and whipped one of them,
and then said to me, 'Don't be afraid of my voice: what is your name?'
I told him my name, snuffling. I thought then that school was a very
disagreeable place, where we could neither weep nor laugh. I wanted
only to go back home at once; and though I felt it was out of my power
to go, I could scarcely bear to stay until the lessons were over. When
I returned home at last, I told my father what I had felt at school,
and said: 'I do not like to go to school at all.'"

Needless to say the next memory is of Meiji. It gives, as a
composition, evidence of what we should call in the West, character.
The suggestion of self-reliance at six years old is delicious: so is
the recollection of the little sister taking off her white tabi to deck
her child-brother on his first school-day:--

"I was six years old. My mother awoke me early. My sister gave me her
own stockings (_tabi_) to wear,--and I felt very happy. Father ordered
a servant to attend me to the school; but I refused to be accompanied:
I wanted to feel that I could go all by myself. So I went alone; and,
as the school was not far from the house, I soon found myself in front
of the gate. There I stood still a little while, because I knew none
of the children I saw going in. Boys and girls were passing into
the schoolyard, accompanied by servants or relatives; and inside I
saw others playing games which filled me with envy. But all at once
a little boy among the players saw me, and with a laugh came running
to me. Then I was very happy. I walked to and fro with him, hand in
hand. At last a teacher called all of us into a schoolroom, and made a
speech which I could not understand. After that we were free for the
day because it was the first day. I returned home with my friend. My
parents were waiting for me, with fruits and cakes; and my friend and I
ate them together."

Another writes:--

"When I first went to school I was six years old. I remember only that
my grandfather carried my books and slate for me, and that the teacher
and the boys were very, very, very kind and good to me,--so that I
thought school was a paradise in this world, and did not want to return

I think this little bit of natural remorse is also worth the writing

"I was eight years old when I first went to school. I was a bad boy.
I remember on the way home from school I had a quarrel with one of
my playmates,--younger than I. He threw a very little stone at me
which hit me. I took a branch of a tree lying in the road, and struck
him across the face with all my might. Then I ran away, leaving him
crying in the middle of the road. My heart told me what I had done.
After reaching my home, I thought I still heard him crying. My little
playmate is not any more in this world now. Can any one know my

All this capacity of young men to turn back with perfect naturalness
of feeling to scenes of their childhood appears to me essentially
Oriental. In the Occident men seldom begin to recall their childhood
vividly before the approach of the autumn season of life. But childhood
in Japan is certainly happier than in other lands, and therefore
perhaps is regretted earlier in adult life. The following extract from
a student's record of his holiday experience touchingly expresses such

"During the spring vacation, I went home to visit my parents. Just
before the end of the holidays, when it was nearly time for me to
return to the college, I heard that the students of the middle school
of my native town were also going to Kumamoto on an excursion, and I
resolved to go with them.

"They marched in military order with their rifles. I had no rifle, so
I took my place in the rear of the column. We marched all day, keeping
time to military songs which we sung all together.

"In the evening we reached Soyeda. The teachers and students of the
Soyeda school, and the chief men of the village, welcomed us. Then
we were separated into detachments, each of which was quartered in a
different hotel. I entered a hotel, with the last detachment, to rest
for the night.

"But I could not sleep for a long time. Five years before, on a similar
'military excursion,' I had rested in that very hotel, as a student of
the same middle school. I remembered the fatigue and the pleasure;
and I compared my feelings of the moment with the recollection of my
feelings then as a boy. I could not help a weak wish to be young again
like my companions. They were fast asleep, tired with their long march;
and I sat up and looked at their faces. How pretty their faces seemed
in that young sleep!"


The preceding selections give no more indication of the general
character of the students' compositions than might be furnished by any
choice made to illustrate a particular feeling. Examples of ideas and
sentiments from themes of a graver kind would show variety of thought
and not a little originality in method, but would require much space.
A few notes, however, copied out of my class-register, will be found
suggestive, if not exactly curious.

At the summer examinations of 1893 I submitted to the graduating
classes, for a composition theme, the question, "What is eternal in
literature?" I expected original answers, as the subject had never
been discussed by us, and was certainly new to the pupils, so far as
their knowledge of Western thought was concerned. Nearly all the papers
proved interesting. I select twenty replies as examples. Most of them
immediately preceded a long discussion, but a few were embodied in the
text of the essay:--

1. "Truth and Eternity are identical: these make the Full Circle,--in
Chinese, Yen-Man."

2. "All that in human life and conduct which is according to the laws
of the Universe."

3. "The lives of patriots, and the teachings of those who have given
pure maxims to the world."

4. "Filial Piety, and the doctrine of its teachers. Vainly the books
of Confucius were burned during the Shin dynasty; they are translated
to-day into all the languages of the civilized world."

5. "Ethics, and scientific truth."

6. "Both evil and good are eternal, said a Chinese sage. We should read
only that which is good."

7. "The great thoughts and ideas of our ancestors."

8. "For a thousand million centuries truth is truth."

9. "Those ideas of right and wrong upon which all schools of ethics

10. "Books which rightly explain the phenomena of the Universe."

11. "Conscience alone is unchangeable. Wherefore books about ethics
based upon conscience are eternal."

12. "Reasons for noble action: these remain unchanged by time."

13. "Books written upon the best moral means of giving the greatest
possible happiness to the greatest possible number of people,--that is,
to mankind."

14. "The Gokyō (the Five Great Chinese Classics)."

15. "The holy books of China, and of the Buddhists."

16. "All that which teaches the Right and Pure Way of human conduct."

17. "The Story of Kusunoki Masaskigé, who vowed to be reborn seven
times to fight against the enemies of his Sovereign."

18. "Moral sentiment, without which the world would be only an enormous
clod of earth, and all books waste-paper."

19. "The Tao-te-King."

20. Same as 19, but with this comment. "He who reads that which is
eternal, _his soul shall hover eternally in the Universe._"


Some particularly Oriental sentiments were occasionally drawn out
through discussions. The discussions were based upon stories which I
would relate to a class by word of mouth, and invite written or spoken
comment about. The results of such a discussion are hereafter set
forth. At the time it took place, I had already told the students of
the higher classes a considerable number of stories. I had told them
many of the Greek myths; among which that of Œdipus and the Sphinx
seemed especially to please them, because of the hidden moral, and
that of Orpheus, like all our musical legends, to have no interest
for them. I had also told them a variety of our most famous modern
stories. The marvelous tale of "Rappacini's Daughter" proved greatly
to their liking; and the spirit of Hawthorne might have found no
little ghostly pleasure in their interpretation of it. "Monos and
Daimonos" found favor; and Poe's wonderful fragment, "Silence," was
appreciated after a fashion that surprised me. On the other hand,
the story of "Frankenstein" impressed them very little. None took it
seriously. For Western minds the tale must always hold a peculiar
horror, because of the shock it gives to feelings evolved under
the influence of Hebraic ideas concerning the origin of life, the
tremendous character of divine prohibitions, and the awful punishments
destined for those who would tear the veil from Nature's secrets, or
mock, even unconsciously, the work of a jealous Creator. But to the
Oriental mind, unshadowed by such grim faith,--feeling no distance
between gods and men,--conceiving life as a multiform whole ruled by
one uniform law that shapes the consequence of every act into a reward
or a punishment,--the ghastliness of the story makes no appeal. Most of
the written criticisms showed me that it was generally regarded as a
comic or semi-comic parable. After all this, I was rather puzzled one
morning by the request for a "very strong moral story of the Western

I suddenly resolved--though knowing I was about to venture on dangerous
ground--to try the full effect of a certain Arthurian legend which I
felt sure somebody would criticise with a vim. The moral is rather
more than "very strong;" and for that reason I was curious to hear the

So I related to them the story of Sir Bors, which is in the sixteenth
book of Sir Thomas Mallory's "Morte d'Arthur,"--"how Sir Bors met his
brother Sir Lionel taken and beaten with thorns,--and of a maid which
should have been dishonored,--and how Sir Bors left his brother to
rescue the damsel,---and how it was told them that Lionel was dead."
But I did not try to explain to them the knightly idealism imaged in
the beautiful old tale, as I wished to hear them comment, in their own
Oriental way, upon the bare facts of the narrative.

Which they did as follows:--

"The action of Mallory's knight," exclaimed Iwai, "was contrary even
to the principles of Christianity,--if it be true that the Christian
religion declares all men brothers. Such conduct might be right if
there were no society in the world. But while any society exists
which is formed of families, family love must be the strength of that
society; and the action of that knight was against family love, and
therefore against society. The principle he followed was opposed not
only to all society, but was contrary to all religion, and contrary to
the morals of all countries."

"The story is certainly immoral," said Orito. "What it relates is
opposed to all our ideas of love and loyalty, and even seems to us
contrary to nature. Loyalty is not a mere duty. It must be from the
heart, or it is not loyally. It must be an inborn feeling. And it is in
the nature of every Japanese."

"It is a horrible story," said Andō. "Philanthropy itself is only an
expansion of fraternal love. The man who could abandon his own brother
to death merely to save a strange woman was a wicked man. Perhaps he
was influenced by passion."

"No," I said: "you forget I told you that there was no selfishness in
his action,--that it must be interpreted as a heroism."

"I think the explanation of the story must be religious," said
Yasukochi. "It seems strange to us; but that may be because we do
not understand Western ideas very well. Of course to abandon one's
own brother in order to save a strange woman is contrary to all our
knowledge of right. But if that knight was a man of pure heart, he
must have imagined himself obliged to do it because of some promise
or some duty. Even then it must have seemed to him a very painful and
disgraceful thing to do, and he could not have done it without feeling
that he was acting against the teaching of his own heart."

"There you are right," I answered. "But you should also know that the
sentiment obeyed by Sir Bors is one which still influences the conduct
of brave and noble men in the societies of the West,--even of men who
cannot be called religious at all in the common sense of that word."

"Still, we think it a very bad sentiment," said Iwai; "and we would
rather hear another story about another form of society."

Then it occurred to me to tell them the immortal story of Alkestis. I
thought for the moment that the character of Herakles in that divine
drama would have a particular charm for them. But the comments proved I
was mistaken. No one even referred to Herakles. Indeed I ought to have
remembered that our ideals of heroism, strength of purpose, contempt of
death, do not readily appeal to Japanese youth. And this for the reason
that no Japanese gentleman regards such qualities as exceptional.
He considers heroism a matter of course--something belonging to
manhood and inseparable from it. He would say that a woman may be
afraid without shame, but never a man. Then as a mere idealization of
physical force, Herakles could interest Orientals very little: their
own mythology teems with impersonations of strength; and, besides,
dexterity, sleight, quickness, are much more admired by a true Japanese
than strength. No Japanese boy would sincerely wish to be like the
giant Benkei; but Yoshitsune, the slender, supple conqueror and master
of Benkei, remains an ideal of perfect knighthood dear to the hearts of
all Japanese youth.

Kamekawa said:--

"The story of Alkestis, or at least the story of Admetus, is a story
of cowardice, disloyalty, immorality. The conduct of Admetus was
abominable. His wife was indeed noble and virtuous--too good a wife for
so shameless a man. I do not believe that the father of Admetus would
not have been willing to die for his son if his son had been worthy. I
think he would gladly have died for his son had he not been disgusted
by the cowardice of Admetus. And how disloyal the subjects of Admetus
were! The moment they heard of their king's danger they should have
rushed to the palace, and humbly begged that they might be allowed to
die in his stead. However cowardly or cruel he might have been, that
was their duty. They were his subjects. They lived by his favor. Yet
how disloyal they were! A country inhabited by such shameless people
must soon have gone to ruin. Of course, as the story says, 'it is sweet
to live.' Who does not love life? Who does not dislike to die? But no
brave man--no loyal man even--should so much as think about his life
when duty requires him to give it."

"But," said Midzuguchi, who had joined us a little too late to hear
the beginning of the narration, "perhaps Admetus was actuated by
filial piety. Had I been Admetus, and found no one among my subjects
willing to die for me, I should have said to my wife: 'Dear wife, I
cannot leave my father alone now, because he has no other son, and his
grandsons are still too young to be of use to him. Therefore, if you
love me, please die in my place.'"

"You do not understand the story," said Yasukochi. "Filial piety did
not exist in Admetus. He wished that his father should have died for

"Ah!" exclaimed the apologist in real surprise,--"that is not a nice
story, teacher!"

"Admetus," declared Kawabuchi, "was everything which is bad. He was a
hateful coward, because he was afraid to die; he was a tyrant, because
he wanted his subjects to die for him; he was an unfilial son because
he wanted his old father to die in his place; and he was an unkind
husband, because he asked his wife--a weak woman with little children
--to do what _he_ was afraid to do as a man. What could be baser than

"But Alkestis," said Iwai,--"Alkestis was all that is good. For she
gave up her children and everything,--even like the Buddha [_Shaka_]
himself. Yet she was very young. How true and brave! The beauty of
her face might perish like a spring-blossoming, but the beauty of
her act should be remembered for a thousand times a thousand years.
Eternally her soul will hover in the universe. Formless she is now; but
it is the Formless who teach us more kindly than our kindest living
teachers,--the souls of all who have done pure, brave, wise deeds."

"The wife of Admetus," said Kumamoto, inclined to austerity in his
judgments, "was simply obedient. She was not entirely blameless. For,
before her death, it was her highest duty to have severely reproached
her husband for his foolishness. And this she did not do,--not at least
as our teacher tells the story."

"Why Western people should think that story beautiful," said Zaitsu,
"is difficult for us to understand. There is much in it which fills
us with anger. For some of us cannot but think of our parents when
listening to such a story. After the Revolution of Meiji, for a time,
there was much suffering. Often perhaps our parents were hungry; yet
we always had plenty of food. Sometimes they could scarcely get money
to live; yet we were educated. When we think of all it cost them to
educate us, all the trouble it gave them to bring us up, all the love
they gave us, and all the pain we caused them in our foolish childhood,
then we think we can never, never do enough for them. And therefore we
do not like that story of Admetus."

The bugle sounded for recess. I went to the parade-ground to take
a smoke. Presently a few students joined me, with their rifles and
bayonets--for the next hour was to be devoted to military drill. One
said: "Teacher, we should like another subject for composition,--not
_too_ easy."

I suggested: "How would you like this for a subject, 'What is most
difficult to understand?'"

"That," said Kawabuchi, "is not hard to answer,--the correct use of
English prepositions."

"In the study of English by Japanese students,--yes," I answered. "But
I did not mean any special difficulty of that kind. I meant to write
your ideas about what is most difficult for all men to understand."

"The universe?" queried Yasukochi. "That is too large a subject."

"When I was only six years old," said Orito, "I used to wander along
the seashore, on fine days, and wonder at the greatness of the world.
Our home was by the sea. Afterwards I was taught that the problem of
the universe will at last pass away, like smoke."

"I think," said Miyakawa, "that the hardest of all things to understand
is why men live in the world. From the time a child is born, what does
he do? He eats and drinks; he feels happy and sad; he sleeps at night;
he awakes in the morning. He is educated; he grows up; he marries; he
has children; he gets old; his hair turns first gray and then white; he
becomes feebler and feebler,--and he dies.

"What does he do all his life? All his real work in this world is to
eat and to drink, to sleep and to rise up; since, whatever be his
occupation as a citizen, he toils only that he may be able to continue
doing this. But for what purpose does a man really come into the world?
Is it to eat? Is it to drink? Is it to sleep? Every day he does exactly
the same thing, and yet he is not tired! It is strange.

"When rewarded, he is glad; when punished, he is sad. If he becomes
rich, he thinks himself happy. If he becomes poor, he is very unhappy.
Why is he glad or sad according to his condition? Happiness and sadness
are only temporary things. Why does he study hard? No matter how great
a scholar he may become, what is there left of him when he is dead?
Only bones."

Miyakawa was the merriest and wittiest in his class; and the
contrast between his joyous character and his words seemed to me
almost startling. But such swift glooms of thought--especially since
Meiji--not unfrequently make apparition in quite young Oriental minds.
They are fugitive as shadows of summer clouds; they mean less than they
would signify in Western adolescence; and the Japanese lives not by
thought, nor by emotion, but by duty. Still, they are not haunters to

"I think," said I, "a much better subject for you all would be the Sky:
the sensations which the sky creates in us when we look at it on such a
day as this. See how wonderful it is!"

It was blue to the edge of the world, with never a floss of cloud.
There were no vapors in the horizon; and very far peaks, invisible on
most days, now-massed into the glorious light, seemingly diaphanous.

Then Kumashiro, looking up to the mighty arching, uttered with
reverence the ancient Chinese words:--

"_What thought is so high as It is? What mind is so wide?_"

"To-day," I said, "is beautiful as any summer day could be,--only that
the leaves are falling, and the semi are gone."

"Do you like semi, teacher?" asked Mori.

"It gives me great pleasure to hear them," I answered. "We have no such
cicadæ in the West."

"Human life is compared to the life of a semi," said Orito,--"_utsuzemi
no yo_. Brief as the song of the semi all human joy is, and youth. Men
come for a season and go, as do the semi."

"There are no semi now," said Yasukochi; "perhaps the teacher thinks it
is sad."

"I do not think it sad," observed Noguchi. "They hinder us from study.
I hate the sound they make. When we hear that sound in summer, and are
tired, it adds fatigue to fatigue so that we fall asleep. If we try to
read or write, or even think, when we hear that sound we have no more
courage to do anything. Then we wish that all those insects were dead."

"Perhaps you like the dragon-flies," I suggested. "They are flashing
all around us; but they make no sound."

"Every Japanese likes dragon-flies," said Ivumashiro. "Japan, you know,
is called Akitsusu, which means the Country of the Dragon-fly."

We talked about different kinds of dragon-flies; and they told me of
one I had never seen,--the Shōro-tombo, or "Ghost dragon-fly," said
to have some strange relation to the dead. Also they spoke of the
Yamma--a very large kind of dragon-fly, and related that in certain
old songs the samurai were called Yamma, because the long hair of
a young warrior used to be tied up into a knot in the shape of a

A bugle sounded; and the voice of the military officer rang out,--

"_AtsumarÉ!_" (fall in!) But the young men lingered an instant to ask,--

"Well, what shall it be, teacher?--that which is most difficult to

"No," I said, "the Sky."

And all that day the beauty of the Chinese utterance haunted me, filled
me like an exaltation:--

"_What thought is so high as It is? What mind is so wide?_"


There is one instance in which the relation between teachers and
students is not formal at all,--one precious survival of the mutual
love of other days in the old Samurai Schools. By all the aged
Professor of Chinese is reverenced; and his influence over the young
men is very great. With a word he could calm any outburst burst of
anger; with a smile he could quicken any generous impulse. For he
represents to the lads their ideal of all that was brave, true, noble,
in the elder life,--the Soul of Old Japan.

His name, signifying "Moon-of-Autumn," is famous in his own land. A
little book has been published about him, containing his portrait. He
was once a samurai of high rank belonging to the great clan of Aidzu.
He rose early to positions of trust and influence. He has been a leader
of armies, a negotiator between princes, a statesman, a ruler of
provinces--all that any knight could be in the feudal era. But in the
intervals of military or political duty he seems to have always been
a teacher. There are few such teachers. There are few such scholars.
Yet to see him now, you would scarcely believe how much he was once
feared--though loved--by the turbulent swordsmen under his rule.
Perhaps there is no gentleness so full of charm as that of the man of
war noted for sternness in his youth.

When the Feudal System made its last battle for existence, he heard the
summons of his lord, and went into that terrible struggle in which
even the women and little children of Aidzu took part. But courage and
the sword alone could not prevail against the new methods of war;--the
power of Aidzu was broken; and he, as one of the leaders of that power,
was long a political prisoner.

But the victors esteemed him; and the Government he had fought against
in all honor took him into its service to teach the new generations.
From younger teachers these learned Western science and Western
languages. But he still taught that wisdom of the Chinese sages which
is eternal,--and loyalty, and honor, and all that makes the man.

Some of his children passed away from his sight. But he could not feel
alone; for all whom he taught were as sons to him, and so reverenced
him. And he became old, very old, and grew to look like a god,--like a

The Kami-Sama in art bear no likeness to the Buddhas. These more
ancient divinities have no downcast gaze, no meditative impassiveness.
They are lovers of Nature; they haunt her fairest solitudes, and
enter into the life of her trees, and speak in her waters, and hover
in her winds. Once upon the earth they lived as men; and the people of
the land are their posterity. Even as divine ghosts, they remain very
human, and of many dispositions. They are the emotions, they are the
sensations of the living. But as figuring in legend and the art born
of legend, they are mostly very pleasant to know. I speak not of the
cheap art which treats them irreverently in these skeptical days, but
of the older art explaining the sacred texts about them. Of course such
representations vary greatly. But were you to ask what is the ordinary
traditional aspect of a Kami, I should answer: "An ancient smiling man
of wondrously gentle countenance, having a long white beard, and all
robed in white with a white girdle."

Only that the girdle of the aged Professor was of black silk, just such
a vision of Shintō he seemed when he visited me the last time.

He had met me at the college, and had said: "I know there has been a
congratulation at your house; and that I did not call was not because I
am old or because your house is far, but only because I have been long
ill. But you will soon see me."

So one luminous afternoon he came, bringing gifts of
felicitation,--gifts of the antique high courtesy, simple in
themselves, yet worthy a prince: a little plum-tree, every branch and
spray one snowy dazzle of blossoms; a curious and pretty bamboo vessel
full of wine; and two scrolls bearing beautiful poems,--texts precious
in themselves as the work of a rare calligrapher and poet; otherwise
precious to me, because written by his own hand. Everything which
he said to me I do not fully know. I remember words of affectionate
encouragement about my duties,--some wise, keen advice,--a strange
story of his youth. But all was like a pleasant dream; for his mere
presence was a caress, and the fragrance of his flower-gift seemed as a
breathing from the Takama-no-hara. And as a Kami should come and go, so
he smiled and went,--leaving all things hallowed. The little plum-tree
has lost its flowers: another winter must pass before it blooms again.
But something very sweet still seems to haunt the vacant guest-room.
Perhaps only the memory of that divine old man;--perhaps a spirit
ancestral, some Lady of the Past, who followed his steps all viewlessly
to our threshold that day, and lingers with me awhile, just because he
loved me.




Traveling by kuruma one can only see and dream. The jolting makes
reading too painful; the rattle of the wheels and the rush of the
wind render conversation impossible,--even when the road allows of a
fellow-traveler's vehicle running beside your own. After having become
familiar with the characteristics of Japanese scenery, you are not apt
to notice during such travel, except at long intervals, anything novel
enough to make a strong impression. Most often the way winds through
a perpetual sameness of rice-fields, vegetable farms, tiny thatched
hamlets,--and between interminable ranges of green or blue hills.
Sometimes, indeed, there are startling spreads of color, as when you
traverse a plain all burning yellow with the blossoming of the natané,
or a valley all lilac with the flowering of the gengebana; but these
are the passing splendors of very short seasons. As a rule, the vast
green monotony appeals to no faculty: you sink into reverie or nod,
perhaps, with the wind in your face, to be wakened only by some jolt of
extra violence.

Even so, on my autumn way to Hakata, I gaze and dream and nod by
turns. I watch the flashing of the dragon-flies, the infinite network
of rice-field paths spreading out of sight on either hand, the slowly
shifting lines of familiar peaks in the horizon glow, and the changing
shapes of white afloat in the vivid blue above all,--asking myself how
many times again must I view the same Kyūshū landscape, and deploring
the absence of the wonderful.

Suddenly and very softly, the thought steals into my mind that the most
wonderful of possible visions is really all about me in the mere common
green of the world,--in the ceaseless manifestation of Life.

Ever and everywhere, from beginnings invisible, green things are
growing,--out of soft earth, out of hard rock,--forms multitudinous,
dumb soundless races incalculably older than man. Of their visible
history we know much: names we have given them, and classification. The
reason of the forms of their leaves, of the qualities of their fruits,
of the colors of their flowers, we also know; for we have learned not
a little about the course of the eternal laws that give shape to all
terrestrial things. But why they are,--that we do not know. What is the
ghostliness that seeks expression in this universal green,--the mystery
of that which multiplies forever issuing out of that which multiplies
not? Or is the seeming lifeless itself life,--only a life more silent
still, more hidden?

But a stranger and quicker life moves upon the face of the world,
peoples wind and flood. This has the ghostlier power of separating
itself from earth, yet is always at last recalled thereto, and
condemned to feed that which it once fed upon. It feels; it knows;
it crawls, swims, runs, flies, thinks. Countless the shapes of it.
The green slower life seeks being only. But this forever struggles
against non-being. We know the mechanism of its motion, the laws of
its growth: the innermost mazes of its structure have been explored?
the territories of its sensation have been mapped and named. But the
meaning of it, who will tell us? Out of what ultimate came it? Or, more
simply, what is it? Why should it know pain? Why is it evolved by pain?

And this life of pain is our own. Relatively, it sees, it
knows. Absolutely, it is blind, and gropes, like the slow cold
green life which supports it. But does it also support a higher
existence,--nourish some invisible life infinitely more active and more
complex? Is there ghostliness orbed in ghostliness,--life within life
without end? Are there universes interpenetrating universes?

For our era, at least, the boundaries of human knowledge have been
irrevocably fixed; and far beyond those limits only exist the solutions
of such questions. Yet what constitutes those limits of the possible?
Nothing more than human nature itself. Must that nature remain equally
limited in those who shall come after us? Will they never develop
higher senses, vaster faculties, subtler perceptions? What is the
teaching of science?

Perhaps it has been suggested in the profound saying of Clifford,
that we were never made, but have made ourselves. This is, indeed,
the deepest of all teachings of science. And wherefore has man made
himself? To escape suffering and death. Under the pressure of pain
alone was our being shaped; and even so long as pain lives, so long
must continue the ceaseless toil of self-change. Once in the ancient
past, the necessities of life were physical; they are not less moral
than physical now. And of all future necessities, none seems likely to
prove so merciless, so mighty, so tremendous, as that of trying to read
the Universal Riddle.

The world's greatest thinker--he who has told us why the Riddle cannot
be read--has told us also how the longing to solve it must endure, and
grow with the growing of man.[1]

And surely the mere recognition of this necessity contains within it
the germ of a hope. May not the desire to know, as the possibly highest
form of future pain, compel within men the natural evolution of powers
to achieve the now impossible,--of capacities to perceive the now
invisible? We of to-day are that which we are through longing so to
be; and may not the inheritors of our work yet make themselves that
which we now would wish to become?

[1] _First Principles_ (The Reconciliation).


I am in Hakata, the town of the Girdle-Weavers,--which is a very tall
town, with fantastic narrow ways full of amazing color;--and I halt
in the Street-of-Prayer-to-the-Gods because there is an enormous head
of bronze, the head of a Buddha, smiling at me through a gateway. The
gateway is of a temple of the Jōdō sect; and the head is beautiful.

But there is only the head. What supports it above the pavement of the
court is hidden by thousands of metal mirrors heaped up to the chin
of the great dreamy face. A placard beside the gateway explains the
problem. The mirrors are contributions by women to a colossal seated
figure of Buddha--to be thirty-five feet high, including the huge lotus
on which it is to be enthroned. And the whole is to be made of bronze
mirrors. Hundreds have been already used to cast the head; myriads will
be needed to finish the work. Who can venture to assert, in presence
of such an exhibition, that Buddhism is passing away?

Yet I cannot feel delighted at this display, which, although gratifying
the artistic sense with the promise of a noble statue, shocks it still
more by ocular evidence of the immense destruction that the project
involves. For Japanese metal mirrors (now being superseded by atrocious
cheap looking-glasses of Western manufacture) well deserve to be called
things of beauty. Nobody unfamiliar with their gracious shapes can feel
the charm of the Oriental comparison of the moon to a mirror. One side
only is polished. The other is adorned with designs in relief: trees or
flowers, birds or animals or insects, landscapes, legends, symbols of
good fortune, figures of gods. Such are even the commonest mirrors. But
there are many kinds; and some among them very wonderful, which we call
"magic mirrors,"--because when the reflection of one is thrown upon a
screen or wall, you can see, in the disk of light, _luminous images of
the designs upon the back._[1]

Whether there be any magic mirrors in that heap of bronze ex-votos I
cannot tell; but there certainly are many beautiful things. And there
is no little pathos in the spectacle of all that wonderful quaint
work thus cast away, and destined soon to vanish utterly. Probably
within another decade the making of mirrors of silver and mirrors of
bronze will have ceased forever. Seekers for them will then hear, with
something more than regret, the story of the fate of these.

Nor is this the only pathos in the vision of all those domestic
sacrifices thus exposed to rain and sun and trodden dust of streets.
Surely the smiles of bride and babe and mother have been reflected in
not a few: some gentle home life must have been imaged in nearly all.
But a ghostlier value than memory can give also attaches to Japanese
mirrors. An ancient proverb declares, "The Mirror is the Sold of the
Woman,"--and not merely, as might be supposed, in a figurative sense.
For countless legends relate that a mirror feels all the joys or
pains of its mistress, and reveals in its dimness or brightness some
weird sympathy with her every emotion. Wherefore mirrors were of old
employed--and some say are still employed--in those magical rites
believed to influence life and death, and were buried with those to
whom they belonged.

And the spectacle of all those mouldering bronzes thus makes queer
fancies in the mind about wrecks of Souls,--or at least of soul-things.
It is even difficult to assure one's self that, of all the movements
and the faces those mirrors once reflected, absolutely nothing now
haunts them. One cannot help imagining that whatever has been must
continue to be somewhere;--that by approaching the mirrors very
stealthily, and turning a few of them suddenly face up to the light,
one might be able to catch the Past in the very act of shrinking and
shuddering away.

Besides, I must observe that the pathos of this exhibition has
been specially intensified for me by one memory which the sight of
a Japanese mirror always evokes,--the memory of the old Japanese
story _Matsuyama no Kagami_. Though related in the simplest manner
and with the fewest possible words,[2] it might well be compared to
those wonderful little tales by Goethe, of which the meanings expand
according to the experience and capacity of the reader. Mrs. James has
perhaps exhausted the psychological possibilities of the story in one
direction; and whoever can read her little book without emotion should
be driven from the society of mankind. Even to guess the Japanese idea
of the tale, one should be able to _feel_ the intimate sense of the
delicious colored prints accompanying her text,--the interpretation
of the last great artist of the Kano school. (Foreigners, unfamiliar
with Japanese home life, cannot fully perceive the exquisiteness of the
drawings made for the Fairy-Tale Series; but the silk-dyers of Kyōto
and of Ōsaka prize them beyond measure, and reproduce them constantly
upon the costliest textures.) But there are many versions; and, with
the following outline, readers can readily make nineteenth-century
versions for themselves.

[1] See article entitled "On the Magic Mirrors of Japan, by Professors
Ayrton and Perry," in vol. xxvii. of the _Proceedings of the Royal
Society_; also an article treating the same subject by the same authors
in vol. xxii. of _The Philosophical Magazine_.

[2] See, for Japanese text and translation, _A Romanized Japanese
Reader_, by Professor B. H. Chamberlain. The beautiful version for
children, written by Mrs. F. H. James, belongs to the celebrated
Japanese Fairy-Tale Series, published at Tōkyō.


Long ago, at a place called Matsuyama, in the province of Echigo, there
lived a young samurai husband and wife whose names have been quite
forgotten. They had a little daughter.

Once the husband went to Yedo,--probably as a retainer in the train
of the Lord of Echigo. On his return he brought presents from the
capital,--sweet cakes and a doll for the little girl (at least so the
artist tells us), and for his wife a mirror of silvered bronze. To the
young mother that mirror seemed a very wonderful thing; for it was the
first mirror ever brought to Matsuyama. She did not understand the
use of it, and innocently asked whose was the pretty smiling face she
saw inside it. When her husband answered her, laughing, "Why, it is
your own face! How foolish you are!" she was ashamed to ask any more
questions, but hastened to put her present away, still thinking it to
be a very mysterious thing. And she kept it hidden many years,--the
original story does not say why. Perhaps for the simple reason that in
all countries love makes even the most trifling gift too sacred to be

But in the time of her last sickness she gave the mirror to her
daughter, saying, "After I am dead you must look into this mirror every
morning and evening, and you will see me. Do not grieve." Then she died.

And the girl thereafter looked into the mirror every morning and
evening, and did not know that the face in the mirror was her own
shadow,--but thought it to be that of her dead mother, whom she much
resembled. So she would talk to the shadow, having the sensation, or,
as the Japanese original more tenderly says, "_having the heart of
meeting her mother_" day by day; and she prized the mirror above all

At last her father noticed this conduct, and thought it strange, and
asked her the reason of it, whereupon she told him all. "Then," says
the old Japanese narrator, "he thinking it to be a very piteous thing,
his eyes grew dark with tears."


Such is the old story.... But was the artless error indeed so piteous
a thing as it seemed to the parent? Or was his emotion vain as my
own regret for the destiny of all those mirrors with all their

I cannot help fancying that the innocence of the maiden was nearer to
eternal truth than the feeling of the father. For in the cosmic order
of things the present is the shadow of the past, and the future must be
the reflection of the present. One are we all, even as Light is, though
unspeakable the millions of the vibrations whereby it is made. One are
we all,--and yet many, because each is a world of ghosts. Surely that
girl saw and spoke to her mother's very soul, while seeing the fair
shadow of her own young eyes and lips, uttering love!

And, with this thought, the strange display in the old temple
court takes a new meaning,--becomes the symbolism of a sublime
expectation. Each of us is truly a mirror, imaging something of
the universe,--reflecting also the reflection of ourselves in that
universe; and perhaps the destiny of all is to be molten by that
mighty Image-maker, Death, into some great sweet passionless unity. How
the vast work shall be wrought, only those to come after us may know.
We of the present West do not know: we merely dream. But the ancient
East believes. Here is the simple imagery of her faith. All forms
must vanish at last to blend with that Being whose smile is immutable
Rest,--whose knowledge is Infinite Vision.



    For metaphors of man we search the skies,
    And find our allegory in all the air;--
    We gaze on Nature with Narcissus-eyes,
    Enamoured of ourshadow everywhere.


What every intelligent foreigner dwelling in Japan must sooner or later
perceive is, that the more the Japanese learn of our æsthetics and of
our emotional character generally, the less favorably do they seem to
be impressed thereby. The European or American who tries to talk to
them about Western art, or literature, or metaphysics will feel for
their sympathy in vain. He will be listened to politely; but his utmost
eloquence will scarcely elicit more than a few surprising comments,
totally unlike what he hoped and expected to evoke. Many successive
disappointments of this sort impel him to judge his Oriental auditors
very much as he would judge Western auditors behaving in a similar
way. Obvious indifference to what we imagine the highest expression
possible of art and thought, we are led by our own Occidental
experiences to take for proof of mental incapacity. So we find one
class of foreign observers calling the Japanese a race of children;
while another, including a majority of those who have passed many years
in the country, judge the nation essentially materialistic, despite the
evidence of its religions, its literature, and its matchless art. I
cannot persuade myself that either of these judgments is less fatuous
than Goldsmith's observation to Johnson about the Literary Club: "There
can now be nothing new among us; we have traveled over one another's
minds." A cultured Japanese might well answer with Johnson's famous
retort: "Sir, you have not yet traveled over my mind, I promise you!"
And all such sweeping criticisms seem to me due to a very imperfect
recognition of the fact that Japanese thought and sentiment have been
evolved out of ancestral habits, customs, ethics, beliefs, directly
the opposite of our own in some cases, and in all cases strangely
different. Acting on such psychological material, modern scientific
education cannot but accentuate and develop race differences. Only
half-education can tempt the Japanese to servile imitation of Western
ways. The real mental and moral power of the race, its highest
intellect, strongly resists Western influence; and those more competent
than I to pronounce upon such matters assure me that this is especially
observable in the case of superior men who have traveled or been
educated in Europe. Indeed, the results of the new culture have served
more than aught else to show the immense force of healthy conservatism
in that race superficially characterized by Rein as a race of children.
Even very imperfectly understood, the causes of this Japanese attitude
to a certain class of Western ideas might well incite us to reconsider
our own estimate of those ideas, rather than to tax the Oriental
mind with incapacity. Now, of the causes in question, which are
multitudinous, some can only be vaguely guessed at. But there is at
least one--a very important one--which we may safely study, because a
recognition of it is forced upon any one who passes a few years in the
Far East.


"Teacher, please tell us why there is so much about love and marrying
in English novels;--it seems to us very, very strange."

This question was put to me while I was trying to explain to my
literature class--young men from nineteen to twenty-three years of
age--why they had failed to understand certain chapters of a standard
novel, though quite well able to understand the logic of Jevons and
the psychology of James. Under the circumstances, it was not an easy
question to answer; in fact, I could not have replied to it in any
satisfactory way had I not already lived for several years in Japan.
As it was, though I endeavored to be concise as well as lucid, my
explanation occupied something more than two hours.

There are few of our society novels that a Japanese student can
really comprehend; and the reason is, simply, that English society is
something of which he is quite unable to form a correct idea. Indeed,
not only English society, in a special sense, but even Western life,
in a general sense, is a mystery to him. Any social system of which
filial piety is not the moral cement; any social system in which
children leave their parents in order to establish families of their
own; any social system in which it is considered not only natural but
right to love wife and child more than the authors of one's being;
any social system in which marriage can be decided independently of
the will of parents, by the mutual inclination of the young people
themselves; any social system in which the mother-in-law is not
entitled to the obedient service of the daughter-in-law, appears to him
of necessity a state of life scarcely better than that of the birds of
the air and the beasts of the field, or at best a sort of moral chaos.
And all this existence, as reflected in our popular fiction, presents
him with provoking enigmas. Our ideas about love and our solicitude
about marriage furnish some of these enigmas. To the young Japanese,
marriage appears a simple, natural duty, for the due performance of
which his parents will make all necessary arrangements at the proper
time. That foreigners should have so much trouble about getting married
is puzzling enough to him; but that distinguished authors should write
novels and poems about such matters, and that those novels and poems
should be vastly admired, puzzles him infinitely more,--seems to him
"very, very strange."

My young questioner said "strange" for politeness' sake. His real
thought would have been more accurately rendered by the word
"indecent." But when I say that to the Japanese mind our typical novel
appears indecent, highly indecent, the idea thereby suggested to my
English readers will probably be misleading. The Japanese are not
morbidly prudish. Our society novels do not strike them as indecent
because the theme is love. The Japanese have a great deal of literature
about love. No; our novels seem to them indecent for somewhat the same
reason that the Scripture text, "For this cause shall a man leave his
father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife," appears to them
one of the most immoral sentences ever written. In other words, their
criticism requires a sociological explanation. To explain fully why our
novels are, to their thinking, indecent, I should have to describe the
whole structure, customs, and ethics of the Japanese family, totally
different from anything in Western life; and to do this even in a
superficial way would require a volume. I cannot attempt a complete
explanation; I can only cite some facts of a suggestive character.

To begin with, then, I may broadly state that a great deal of our
literature, besides its fiction, is revolting to the Japanese moral
sense, not because it treats of the passion of love per se, but
because it treats of that passion in relation to virtuous maidens, and
therefore in relation to the family circle. Now, as a general rule,
where passionate love is the theme in Japanese literature of the best
class, it is not that sort of love which leads to the establishment
of family relations. It is quite another sort of love,--a sort of
love about which the Oriental is not prudish at all,--the _mayoi_, or
infatuation of passion, inspired by merely physical attraction; and its
heroines are not the daughters of refined families, but mostly hetæræ,
or professional dancing-girls. Neither does this Oriental variety
of literature deal with its subject after the fashion of sensuous
literature in the West,--French literature, for example: it considers
it from a different artistic standpoint, and describes rather a
different order of emotional sensations.

A national literature is of necessity reflective: and we may
presume that what it fails to portray can have little or no outward
manifestation in the national life. Now, the reserve of Japanese
literature regarding that love which is the great theme of our greatest
novelists and poets is exactly paralleled by the reserve of Japanese
society in regard to the same topic. The typical woman often figures
in Japanese romance as a heroine; as a perfect mother; as a pious
daughter, willing to sacrifice all for duty; as a loyal wife, who
follows her husband into battle, fights by his side, saves his life at
the cost of her own; never as a sentimental maiden, dying, or making
others die, for love. Neither do we find her on literary exhibition as
a dangerous beauty, a charmer of men; and in the real life of Japan
she has never appeared in any such rôle. Society, as a mingling of the
sexes, as an existence of which the supremely refined charm is the
charm of woman, has never existed in the East. Even in Japan, society,
in the special sense of the word, remains masculine. Nor is it easy
to believe that the adoption of European fashions and customs within
some restricted circles of the capital indicates the beginning of such
a social change as might eventually remodel the national life according
to Western ideas of society. For such a remodeling would involve the
dissolution of the family, the disintegration of the whole social
fabric, the destruction of the whole ethical system,--the breaking up,
in short, of the national life.

Taking the word "woman" in its most refined meaning, and postulating
a society in which woman seldom appears, a society in which she is
never placed "on display," a society in which wooing is utterly out of
the question, and the faintest compliment to wife or daughter is an
outrageous impertinence, the reader can at once reach some startling
conclusions as to the impression made by our popular fiction upon
members of that society. But, although partly correct, his conclusions
must fall short of the truth in certain directions, unless he also
possess some knowledge of the restraints of that society and of the
ethical notions behind the restraints. For example, a refined Japanese
never speaks to you about his wife (I am stating the general rule),
and very seldom indeed about his children, however proud of them he
may be. Rarely will he be heard to speak about any of the members of
his family, about his domestic life, about any of his private affairs.
But if he should happen to talk about members of his family, the
persons mentioned will almost certainly be his parents. Of them he will
speak with a reverence approaching religious feeling, yet in a manner
quite different from that which would be natural to an Occidental,
and never so as to imply any mental comparison between the merits of
his own parents and those of other men's parents. But he will not
talk about his wife even to the friends who were invited as guests to
his wedding. And I think I may safely say that the poorest and most
ignorant Japanese, however dire his need, would never dream of trying
to obtain aid or to invoke pity by the mention of his wife--perhaps
not even of his wife and children. But he would not hesitate to ask
help for the sake of his parents or his grandparents. Love of wife and
child, the strongest of all sentiments with the Occidental, is judged
by the Oriental to be a selfish affection. He professes to be ruled
by a higher sentiment,--duty: duty, first, to his Emperor; next, to
his parents. And since love can he classed only as an ego-altruistic
feeling, the Japanese thinker is not wrong in his refusal to consider
it the loftiest of motives, however refined or spiritualized it may he.

In the existence of the poorer classes of Japan there are no secrets;
but among the upper classes family life is much less open to
observation than in any country of the West, not excepting Spain. It
is a life of which foreigners see little, and know almost nothing, all
the essays which have been written about Japanese women to the contrary
notwithstanding.[1] Invited to the home of a Japanese friend, you may
or may not see the family. It will depend upon circumstances.

If you see any of them, it will probably be for a moment only, and
in that event you will most likely see the wife. At the entrance
you give your card to the servant, who retires to present it, and
presently returns to usher you into the zashiki, or guest-room, always
the largest and finest apartment in a Japanese dwelling, where your
kneeling-cushion is ready for you, with a smoking-box before it. The
servant brings you tea and cakes. In a little time the host himself
enters, and after the indispensable salutations conversation begins.
Should you be pressed to stay for dinner, and accept the invitation,
it is probable that the wife will do you the honor, as her husband's
friend, to wait upon you during an instant. You may or may not be
formally introduced to her; but a glance at her dress and coiffure
should be sufficient to inform you at once who she is, and you must
greet her with the most profound respect. She will probably impress you
(especially if your visit be to a samurai home) as a delicately refined
and very serious person, by no means a woman of the much-smiling and
much-bowing kind. She will say extremely little, but will salute you,
and will serve you for a moment with a natural grace of which the mere
spectacle is a revelation, and glide away again, to remain invisible
until the instant of your departure, when she will reappear at the
entrance to wish you good-by. During other successive visits you may
have similar charming glimpses of her; perhaps, also, some rarer
glimpses of the aged father and mother; and if a much favored visitor,
the children may at last come to greet you, with wonderful politeness
and sweetness. But the innermost intimate life of that family will
never be revealed to you. All that you see to suggest it will be
refined, courteous, exquisite, but of the relation of those souls to
each other you will know nothing. Behind the beautiful screens which
mask the further interior, all is silent, gentle mystery. There is no
reason, to the Japanese mind, why it should be otherwise. Such family
life is sacred; the home is a sanctuary, of which it were impious to
draw aside the veil. Nor can I think this idea of the sacredness of
home and of the family relation in any wise inferior to our highest
conception of the home and the family in the West.

Should there be grown-up daughters in the family, however, the visitor
is less likely to see the wife. More timid, but equally silent and
reserved, the young girls will make the guest welcome. In obedience to
orders, they may even gratify him by a performance upon some musical
instrument, by exhibiting some of their own needlework or painting, or
by showing to him some precious or curious objects among the family
heirlooms. But all submissive sweetness and courtesy are inseparable
from the high-bred reserve belonging to the finest native culture. And
the guest must not allow himself to be less reserved. Unless possessing
the privilege of great age, which would entitle him to paternal freedom
of speech, he must never venture upon personal compliment, or indulge
in anything resembling light flattery. What would be deemed gallantry
in the West may be gross rudeness in the East. On no account can
the visitor compliment a young girl about her looks, her grace, her
toilette, much less dare address such a compliment to the wife. But,
the reader may object, there are certainly occasions upon which a
compliment of some character cannot be avoided. This is true, and on
such an occasion politeness requires, as a preliminary, the humblest
apology for making the compliment, which will then be accepted with a
phrase more graceful than our "Pray do not mention it;"--that is, the
rudeness of making a compliment at all.

But here we touch the vast subject of Japanese etiquette, about which
I must confess myself still profoundly ignorant. I have ventured thus
much only in order to suggest how lacking: in refinement much of our
Western society fiction must appear to the Oriental mind.

To speak of one's affection for wife or children, to bring into
conversation anything closely related to domestic life, is totally
incompatible with Japanese ideas of good breeding. Our open
acknowledgment, or rather exhibition, of the domestic relation
consequently appears to cultivated Japanese, if not absolutely
barbarous, at least uxorious. And this sentiment may be found to
explain not a little in Japanese life which has given foreigners a
totally incorrect idea about the position of Japanese women. It is not
the custom in Japan for the husband even to walk side by side with
his wife in the street, much less to give her his arm, or to assist
her in ascending or descending a flight of stairs. But this is not
any proof upon his part of want of affection. It is only the result
of a social sentiment totally different from our own; it is simply
obedience to an etiquette founded upon the idea that public displays of
the marital relation are improper. Why improper? Because they seem to
Oriental judgment to indicate a confession of personal, and therefore
selfish sentiment For the Oriental the law of life is duty. Affection
must, in every time and place, be subordinated to duty. Any public
exhibition of personal affection of a certain class is equivalent to
a public confession of moral weakness. Does this mean that to love
one's wife is amoral weakness? No; it is the duty of a man to love his
wife; but it is moral weakness to love her more than his parents, or
to show her, in public, more attention than he shows to his parents.
Nay, it would be a proof of moral weakness to show her even the _same_
degree of attention. During the lifetime of the parents her position
in the household is simply that of an adopted daughter, and the most
affectionate of husbands must not even for a moment allow himself to
forget the etiquette of the family.

Here I must touch upon one feature of Western literature never to be
reconciled with Japanese ideas and customs. Let the reader reflect
for a moment how large a place the subject of kisses and caresses and
embraces occupies in our poetry and in our prose fiction; and then
let him consider the fact that in Japanese literature these have no
existence whatever. For kisses and embraces are simply unknown in Japan
as tokens of affection, if we except the solitary fact that Japanese
mothers, like mothers all over the world, lip and hug their little
ones betimes. After babyhood there is no more hugging or kissing. Such
actions, except in the case of infants, are held to be highly immodest.
Never do girls kiss one another; never do parents kiss or embrace
their children who have become able to walk. And this rule holds good
of all classes of society, from the highest nobility to the humblest
peasantry. Neither have we the least indication throughout Japanese
literature of any time in the history of the race when affection
was more demonstrative than it is to-day. Perhaps the Western reader
will find it hard even to imagine a literature in the whole course of
which no mention is made of kissing, of embracing, even of pressing
a loved hand; for hand-clasping is an action as totally foreign to
Japanese impulse as kissing. Yet on these topics even the naïve songs
of the country folk, even the old ballads of the people about unhappy
lovers, are quite as silent as the exquisite verses of the court
poets. Suppose we take for an example the ancient popular ballad of
Shuntokumaru, which has given origin to various proverbs and household
words familiar throughout western Japan. Here we have the story of two
betrothed lovers, long separated by a cruel misfortune, wandering in
search of each other all over the Empire, and at last suddenly meeting
before Kiomidzu Temple by the favor of the gods. Would not any Aryan
poet describe such a meeting as a rushing of the two into each other's
arms, with kisses and cries of love? But how does the old Japanese
ballad describe it? In brief, the twain only sit down together _and
stroke each other a little._ Now, even this reserved form of caress is
an extremely rare indulgence of emotion. You may see again and again
fathers and sons, husbands and wives, mothers and daughters, meeting
after years of absence, yet you will probably never see the least
approach to a caress between them. They will kneel down and salute
each other, and smile, and perhaps cry a little for joy; but they will
neither rush into each other's arms, nor utter extraordinary phrases of
affection. Indeed, such terms of affection as "my dear," "my darling,"
"my sweet," "my love," "my life," do not exist in Japanese, nor any
terms at all equivalent to our emotional idioms. Japanese affection is
not uttered in words; it scarcely appears even in the tone of voice: it
is chiefly shown in acts of exquisite courtesy and kindness. I might
add that the opposite emotion is under equally perfect control; but to
illustrate this remarkable fact would require a separate essay.

[1] I do not, however, refer to those extraordinary persons who make
their short residence in teahouses and establishments of a much worse
kind, and then go home to write books about the women of Japan.


He who would study impartially the life and thought of the Orient
must also study those of the Occident from the Oriental point of
view. And the results of such a comparative study he will find to
be in no small degree retroactive. According to his character and
his faculty of perception, he will be more or less affected by those
Oriental influences to which he submits himself. The conditions of
Western life will gradually begin to assume for him new, undreamed-of
meanings, and to lose not a few of their old familiar aspects. Much
that he once deemed right and true he may begin to find abnormal and
false. He may begin to doubt whether the moral ideals of the West are
really the highest. He may feel more than inclined to dispute the
estimate placed by Western custom upon Western civilization. Whether
his doubts be final is another matter: they will be at least rational
enough and powerful enough to modify permanently some of his prior
convictions,--among others his conviction of the moral value of the
Western worship of Woman as the Unattainable, the Incomprehensible,
the Divine, the ideal of "_la femme que tu ne connaîtras pas,_"[1]--the
ideal of the Eternal Feminine. For in this ancient East the Eternal
Feminine does not exist at all. And after having become quite
accustomed to live without it, one may naturally conclude that it is
not absolutely essential to intellectual health, and may even dare to
question the necessity for its perpetual existence upon the other side
of the world.

[1] A phrase from Baudelaire.


To say that the Eternal Feminine does not exist in the Far East is to
state but a part of the truth. That it could be introduced thereinto,
in the remotest future, is not possible to imagine. Few, if any, of
our ideas regarding it can even be rendered into the language of the
country: a language in which nouns have no gender, adjectives no
degrees of comparison, and verbs no persons; a language in which,
says Professor Chamberlain, the absence of personification is "a
characteristic so deep-seated and so all-pervading as to interfere even
with the use of neuter nouns in combination with transitive verbs."[1]
"In fact," he adds, "most metaphors and allegories are incapable of so
much as explanation to Far-Eastern minds;" and he makes a striking
citation from Wordsworth in illustration of his statement. Yet even
poets much more lucid than Wordsworth are to the Japanese equally
obscure. I remember the difficulty I once had in explaining to an
advanced class this simple line from a well-known ballad of Tennyson,--

    "She is more beautiful than day."

My students could understand the use of the adjective "beautiful"
to qualify "day," and the use of the same adjective, separately, to
qualify the word "maid." But that there could exist in any mortal mind
the least idea of analogy between the beauty of day and the beauty
of a young woman was quite beyond their understanding. In order to
convey to them the poet's thought, it was necessary to analyze it
psychologically,--to prove a possible nervous analogy between two modes
of pleasurable feeling excited by two different impressions.

Thus, the very nature of the language tells us how ancient and how
deeply rooted in racial character are those tendencies by which we must
endeavor to account--if there be any need of accounting at all--for
the absence in this Far East of a dominant ideal corresponding to
our own. They are causes incomparably older than the existing social
structure, older than the idea of the family, older than ancestor
worship, enormously older than that Confucian code which is the
reflection rather than the explanation of many singular facts in
Oriental life. But since beliefs and practices react upon character,
and character again must react upon practices and beliefs, it has
not been altogether irrational to seek in Confucianism for causes as
well as for explanations. Far more irrational have been the charges
of hasty critics against Shintō and against Buddhism as religious
influences opposed to the natural rights of woman. The ancient faith
of Shintō has been at least as gentle to woman as the ancient faith
of the Hebrews. Its female divinities are not less numerous than its
masculine divinities, nor are they presented to the imagination of
worshipers in a form much less attractive than the dreams of Greek
mythology. Of some, like So-tohori-no-Iratsumé, it is said that the
light of their beautiful bodies passes through their garments; and the
source of all life and light, the eternal Sun, is a goddess, fair
Amaterasu-oho-mi-kami. Virgins serve the ancient gods, and figure in
all the pageants of the faith; and in a thousand shrines throughout
the land the memory of woman as wife and mother is worshiped equally
with the memory of man as hero and father. Neither can the later and
alien faith of Buddhism be justly accused of relegating woman to a
lower place in the spiritual world than monkish Christianity accorded
her in the West. The Buddha, like the Christ, was horn of a virgin;
the most lovable divinities of Buddhism, Jizo excepted, are feminine,
both in Japanese art and in Japanese popular fancy; and in the Buddhist
as in the Roman Catholic hagiography, the lives of holy women hold
honored place. It is true that Buddhism, like early Christianity, used
its utmost eloquence in preaching against the temptation of female
loveliness; and it is true that in the teaching of its founder, as
in the teaching of Paul, social and spiritual supremacy is accorded
to the man. Yet, in our search for texts on this topic, we must not
overlook the host of instances of favor shown by the Buddha to women of
all classes, nor that remarkable legend of a later text, in which a
dogma denying to woman the highest spiritual opportunities is sublimely

In the eleventh chapter of the Sutra of the Lotus of the Good Law, it
is written that mention was made before the Lord Buddha of a young girl
who had in one instant arrived at supreme knowledge; who had in one
moment acquired the merits of a thousand meditations, and the proofs of
the essence of all laws. And the girl came and stood in the presence of
the Lord.

But the Bodhissattva Pragnakuta doubted, saying, "I have seen the Lord
Sakyamuni in the time when he was striving for supreme enlightenment,
and I know that he performed good works innumerable through countless
æons. In all the world there is not one spot so large as a grain of
mustard-seed where he has not surrendered his body for the sake of
living creatures. Only after all this did he arrive at enlightenment.
Who then may believe this girl could in one moment have arrived at
supreme knowledge?"

And the venerable priest Sariputra likewise doubted, saying, "It may
indeed happen, O Sister, that a woman fulfill the six perfect virtues;
but as yet there is no example of her having attained to Buddhaship,
because a woman cannot attain to the rank of a Bodhissattva."

But the maiden called upon the Lord Buddha to be her witness. And
instantly in the sight of the assembly her sex disappeared; and she
manifested herself as a Bodhissattva, filling all directions of space
with the radiance of the thirty-two signs. And the world shook in six
different ways. And the priest Sariputra was silent.[2]

[1] _See Things Japanese_, second edition, pp. 255, 256; article

[2] See the whole wonderful passage in Kern's translation of this
magnificent Sutra, _Sacred Books of the East_, vol. xxi. chap. xi.


But to feel the real nature of what is surely one of the greatest
obstacles to intellectual sympathy between the West and the Far East,
we must fully appreciate the immense effect upon Occidental life of
this ideal which has no existence in the Orient. We must remember what
that ideal has been to Western civilization,--to all its pleasures
and refinements and luxuries; to its sculpture, painting, decoration,
architecture, literature, drama, music; to the development of countless
industries. We must think of its effect upon manners, customs, and
the language of taste, upon conduct and ethics, upon endeavor, upon
philosophy and religion, upon almost every phase of public and private
life,--in short, upon national character. Nor should we forget that
the many influences interfused in the shaping of it--Teutonic, Celtic,
Scandinavian, classic, or mediæval, the Greek apotheosis of human
beauty, the Christian worship of the mother of God, the exaltations
of chivalry, the spirit of the Renascence steeping and coloring all
the preëxisting idealism in a new sensuousness--must have had their
nourishment, if not their birth, in a race feeling ancient as Aryan
speech, and as alien the most eastern East.

Of all these various influences combined to form our ideal, the classic
element remains perceptibly dominant. It is true that the Hellenic
conception of human beauty, so surviving, has been wondrously informed
with a conception of soul beauty never of the antique world nor of
the Renascence. Also it is true that the new philosophy of evolution,
forcing recognition of the incalculable and awful cost of the Present
to the Past, creating a totally new comprehension of duty to the
Future, enormously enhancing our conception of character values, has
aided more than all preceding influences together toward the highest
possible spiritualization of the ideal of woman. Yet, however further
spiritualized it may become through future intellectual expansion,
this ideal must in its very nature remain fundamentally artistic and

We do not see Nature as the Oriental sees it, and as his art proves
that he sees it. We see it less realistically, we know it less
intimately, because, save through the lenses of the specialist, we
contemplate it anthropomorphically. In one direction, indeed, our
æsthetic sense has been cultivated to a degree incomparably finer
than that of the Oriental; but that direction has been passional. We
have learned something of the beauty of Nature through our ancient
worship of the beauty of woman. Even from the beginning it is probable
that the perception of human beauty has been the main source of all
our æsthetic sensibility. Possibly we owe to it likewise our idea of
proportion;[1] our exaggerated appreciation of regularity; our fondness
for parallels, curves, and all geometrical symmetries. And in the long
process of our æsthetic evolution, the ideal of woman has at last
become for us an æsthetic abstraction. Through the illusion of that
abstraction only do we perceive the charms of our world, even as forms
might be perceived through some tropic atmosphere whose vapors are

Nor is this all. Whatsoever has once been likened to woman by art or
thought has been strangely informed and transformed by that momentary
symbolism: wherefore, through all the centuries Western fancy has
been making Nature more and more feminine. Whatsoever delights us
imagination has feminized,--the infinite tenderness of the sky,--the
mobility of waters,--the rose of dawn,--the vast caress of Day,--Night,
and the lights of heaven,--even the undulations of the eternal hills.
And flowers, and the flush of fruit, and all things fragrant, fair,
and gracious; the genial seasons with their voices; the laughter of
streams, and whisper of leaves, and ripplings of song within the
shadows;--all sights, or sounds, or sensations that can touch our love
of loveliness, of delicacy, of sweetness, of gentleness, make for us
vague dreams of woman. Where our fancy lends masculinity to Nature,
it is only in grimness and in force,--as if to enhance by rugged and
mighty contrasts the witchcraft of the Eternal Feminine. Nay, even the
terrible itself, if fraught with terrible beauty,--even Destruction, if
only shaped with the grace of destroyers,--becomes for us feminine. And
not beauty alone, of sight or sound, but well-nigh all that is mystic,
sublime, or holy, now makes appeal to us through some marvelously
woven intricate plexus of passional sensibility. Even the subtlest
forces of our universe speak to us of woman; new sciences have taught
us new names for the thrill her presence wakens in the blood, for
that ghostly shock which is first love, for the eternal riddle of her
fascination. Thus, out of simple human passion, through influences
and transformations innumerable, we have evolved a cosmic emotion, a
feminine pantheism.

[1] On the origin of the idea of bilateral symmetry, see Herbert
Spencer's essay, "The Sources of Architectural Types."


And now may not one venture to ask whether all the consequences of this
passional influence in the æsthetic evolution of our Occident have been
in the main beneficial? Underlying all those visible results of which
we boast as art triumphs, may there not be lurking invisible results,
some future revelation of which will cause more than a little shock to
our self-esteem? Is it not quite possible that our æsthetic faculties
have been developed even abnormally in one direction by the power of a
single emotional idea which has left us nearly, if not totally blind
to many wonderful aspects of Nature? Or rather, must not this be the
inevitable effect of the extreme predominance of one particular emotion
in the evolution of our æsthetic sensibility? And finally, one may
surely be permitted to ask if the predominating influence itself has
been the highest possible, and whether there is not a higher, known
perhaps to the Oriental soul.

I may only suggest these questions, without hoping to answer them
satisfactorily. But the longer I dwell in the East, the more I feel
growing upon me the belief that there are exquisite artistic faculties
and perceptions, developed in the Oriental, of which we can know
scarcely more than we know of those unimaginable colors, invisible to
the human eye, yet proven to exist by the spectroscope. I think that
such a possibility is indicated by certain phases of Japanese art.

Here it becomes as difficult as dangerous to particularize. I dare
hazard only some general observations. I think this marvelous art
asserts that, out of the infinitely varied aspects of Nature, those
which for us hold no suggestion whatever of sex character, those
which cannot be looked at anthropomorphically, those which are
neither masculine nor feminine, but neuter or nameless, are those
most profoundly loved and comprehended by the Japanese. Nay, he sees
in Nature much that for thousands of years has remained invisible to
us; and we are now learning from him aspects of life and beauties
of form to which we were utterly blind before. We have finally
made the startling discovery that his art--notwithstanding all
the dogmatic assertions of Western prejudice to the contrary, and
notwithstanding the strangely weird impression of unreality which
at first it produced--is never a mere creation of fantasy, but a
veritable reflection of what has been and of what is: wherefore we
have recognized that it is nothing less than a higher education in art
simply to look at his studies of bird life, insect life, plant life,
tree life. Compare, for example, our very finest drawings of insects
with Japanese drawings of similar subjects. Compare Giacomelli's
illustrations to Michelet's "L'Insecte" with the commonest Japanese
figures of the same creatures decorating the stamped leather of a cheap
tobacco pouch or the metal work of a cheap pipe. The whole minute
exquisiteness of the European engraving has accomplished only an
indifferent realism, while the Japanese artist, with a few dashes of
his brush, has seized and reproduced, with an incomprehensible power
of interpretation, not only every peculiarity of the creature's shape,
but every special characteristic of its motion. Each figure flung from
the Oriental painter's brush is a lesson, a revelation, to perceptions
unbeclouded by prejudice, an opening of the eyes of those who can see,
though it be only a spider in a wind-shaken web, a dragon-fly riding
a sunbeam, a pair of crabs running through sedge, the trembling of a
fish's fins in a clear current, the lilt of a flying wasp, the pitch of
a flying duck, a mantis in fighting position, or a semi toddling up a
cedar branch to sing. All this art is alive, intensely alive, and our
corresponding art looks absolutely dead beside it.

Take, again, the subject of flowers. An English or German flower
painting, the result of months of trained labor, and valued at several
hundred pounds, would certainly not compare as a nature study, in
the higher sense, with a Japanese flower painting executed in twenty
brush strokes, and worth perhaps five sen. The former would represent
at best but an ineffectual and painful effort to imitate a massing
of colors. The latter would prove a perfect memory of certain flower
shapes instantaneously flung upon paper, without any model to aid,
and showing, not the recollection of any individual blossom, but the
perfect realization of a general law of form expression, perfectly
mastered, with all its moods, tenses, and inflections. The French
alone, among Western art critics, seem fully to understand these
features of Japanese art; and among all Western artists it is the
Parisian alone who approaches the Oriental in his methods. Without
lifting his brush from the paper, the French artist may sometimes,
with a single wavy line, create the almost speaking figure of a
particular type of man or woman. But this high development of faculty
is confined chiefly to humorous sketching; it is still either
masculine or feminine. To understand what I mean by the ability of
the Japanese artist, my reader must imagine just such a power of
almost instantaneous creation as that which characterizes certain
French work, applied to almost every subject except individuality,
to nearly all recognized general types, to all aspects of Japanese
nature, to all forms of native landscape, to clouds and flowing water
and mists, to all the life of woods and fields, to all the moods of
seasons and the tones of horizons and the colors of the morning and
the evening. Certainly, the deeper spirit of this magical art seldom
reveals itself at first sight to unaccustomed eyes, since it appeals
to so little in Western æsthetic experience. But by gentle degrees it
will so enter into an appreciative and unprejudiced mind as to modify
profoundly therein almost every preëxisting sentiment in relation to
the beautiful. All of its meaning will indeed require many years to
master, but something of its reshaping power will be felt in a much
shorter time when the sight of an American illustrated magazine or of
any illustrated European periodical has become almost unbearable.

Psychological differences of far deeper import are suggested by
other facts, capable of exposition in words, but not capable of
interpretation through Western standards of æsthetics or Western
feeling of any sort. For instance, I have been watching two old men
planting young trees in the garden of a neighboring temple. They
sometimes spend nearly an hour in planting a single sapling. Having
fixed it in the ground, they retire to a distance to study the position
of all its lines, and consult together about it. As a consequence, the
sapling is taken up and replanted in a slightly different position.
This is done no less than eight times before the little tree can be
perfectly adjusted into the plan of the garden. Those two old men are
composing a mysterious thought with their little trees, changing them,
transferring them, removing or replacing them, even as a poet changes
and shifts his words, to give to his verse the most delicate or the
most forcible expression possible.

In every large Japanese cottage there are several alcoves, or tokonoma,
one in each of the principal rooms. In these alcoves the art treasures
of the family are exhibited.[1] Within each toko a kakemono is hung;
and upon its slightly elevated floor (usually of polished wood)
are placed flower vases and one or two artistic objects. Flowers
are arranged in the toko vases according to ancient rules which Mr.
Conder's beautiful hook will tell you a great deal about; and the
kakemono and the art objects there displayed are changed at regular
intervals, according to occasion and season. Now, in a certain alcove,
I have at various times seen many different things of beauty: a
Chinese statuette of ivory, an incense vase of bronze,--representing a
cloud-riding pair of dragons,--the wood carving of a Buddhist pilgrim
resting by the wayside and mopping his bald pate, masterpieces of
lacquer ware and lovely Kyōto porcelains, and a large stone placed on
a pedestal of heavy, costly wood, expressly made for it. I do not know
whether you could see any beauty in that stone; it is neither hewn nor
polished, nor does it possess the least imaginable intrinsic value.
It is simply a gray water-worn stone from the bed of a stream. Yet it
cost more than one of those Kyōto vases which sometimes replace it, and
which you would be glad to pay a very high price for.

In the garden of the little house I now occupy in Kumamoto, there are
about fifteen rocks, or large stones, of as many shapes and sizes.
They also have no real intrinsic value, not even as possible building
material. And yet the proprietor of the garden paid for them something
more than seven hundred and fifty Japanese dollars, or considerably
more than the pretty house itself could possibly have cost. And it
would be quite wrong to suppose the cost of the stones due to the
expense of their transportation from the bed of the Shira-kawa. No;
they are worth seven hundred and fifty dollars only because they are
considered beautiful to a certain degree, and because there is a large
local demand for beautiful stones. They are not even of the best class,
or they would have cost a great deal more. Now, until you can perceive
that a big rough stone may have more æsthetic suggestiveness than a
costly steel engraving, that it is a thing of beauty and a joy forever,
you cannot begin to understand how a Japanese sees Nature. "But what,"
you may ask, "can be beautiful in a common stone?" Many things; but I
will mention only one,--irregularity.

In my little Japanese house, the fusuma, or sliding screens of opaque
paper between room and room, have designs at which I am never tired of
looking. The designs vary in different parts of the dwelling; I will
speak only of the fusuma dividing my study from a smaller apartment.
The ground color is a delicate cream-yellow; and the golden pattern
is very simple,--the mystic-jewel symbols of Buddhism scattered over
the surface by pairs. But no two sets of pairs are placed at exactly
the same distance from each other; and the symbols themselves are
curiously diversified, never appearing twice in exactly the same
position or relation. Sometimes one jewel is transparent, and its
fellow opaque; sometimes both are opaque or both diaphanous; sometimes
the transparent one is the larger of the two; sometimes the opaque is
the larger; sometimes both are precisely the same size; sometimes they
overlap, and sometimes do not touch; sometimes the opaque is on the
left, sometimes on the right; sometimes the transparent jewel is above,
sometimes below. Vainly does the eye roam over the whole surface in
search of a repetition, or of anything resembling regularity, either
in distribution, juxtaposition, grouping, dimensions, or contrasts.
And throughout the whole dwelling nothing resembling regularity in
the various decorative designs can be found. The ingenuity by which
it is avoided is amazing,--rises to the dignify of genius. Now, all
this is a common characteristic of Japanese decorative art; and after
having lived a few years under its influences, the sight of a regular
pattern upon a wall, a carpet, a curtain, a ceiling, upon any decorated
surface, pains like a horrible vulgarism. Surely, it is because we have
so long been accustomed to look at Nature anthropomorphically that
we can still endure mechanical ugliness in our own decorative art,
and that we remain insensible to charms of Nature which are clearly
perceived even by the eyes of the Japanese child, wondering over its
mother's shoulder at the green and blue wonder of the world.

"_He_" saith a Buddhist text, "_who discerns that nothingness is
law,--such a one hath wisdom._"

[1] The tokonoma, or toko, is said to have been first introduced into
Japanese architecture about four hundred and fifty years ago, by the
Buddhist priest Eisai, who had studied in China. Perhaps the alcove was
originally devised and used for the exhibition of sacred objects; but
to-day, among the cultivated, it would be deemed in very had taste to
display either images of the gods or sacred paintings in the toko of
a guest-room. The toko is still, however, a sacred place in a certain
sense. No one should ever step upon it, or squat within it, or even
place in it anything not pure, or anything offensive to taste. There
is an elaborate code of etiquette in relation to it. The most honored
among guests is always placed nearest to it; and guests take their
places, according to rank, nearer to or further from it.




_July_ 25. Three extraordinary visits have been made to my house this

The first was that of the professional well-cleaners. For once every
year all wells must be emptied and cleansed, lest the God of Wells,
Suijin-Sama, be wroth. On this occasion I learned some things relating
to Japanese wells and the tutelar deity of them, who has two names,
being also called Mizuha-nome-no-mikoto.

Suijin-Sama protects all wells, keeping their water sweet and cool,
provided that house-owners observe his laws of cleanliness, which are
rigid. To those who break them sickness comes, and death. Rarely the
god manifests himself, taking the form of a serpent. I have never seen
any temple dedicated to him. But once each month a Shinto priest
visits the homes of pious families having wells, and he repeats certain
ancient prayers to the Well-God, and plants nobori, little paper flags,
which are symbols, at the edge of the well. After the well has been
cleaned, also, this is done. Then the first bucket of the new water
must be drawn up by a man; for if a woman first draw water, the well
will always thereafter remain muddy.

The god has little servants to help him in his work. These are the
small fishes the Japanese call funa.[1] One or two funa are kept in
every well, to clear the water of larvae. When a well is cleaned, great
care is taken of the little fish. It was on the occasion of the coming
of the well-cleaners that I first learned of the existence of a pair of
funa in my own well. They were placed in a tub of cool water while the
well was refilling, and thereafter were replunged into their solitude.

The water of my well is clear and ice-cold. But now I can never drink
of it without a thought of those two small white lives circling always
in darkness, and startled through untold years by the descent of
plashing buckets.

The second curious visit was that of the district firemen, in full
costume, with their hand-engines. According to ancient custom, they
make a round of all their district once a year during the dry spell,
and throw water over the hot roofs, and receive some small perquisite
from each wealthy householder. There is a belief that when it has not
rained for a long time roofs may be ignited by the mere heat of the
sun. The firemen played with their hose upon my roofs, trees, and
garden, producing considerable refreshment; and in return I bestowed on
them wherewith to buy saké.

The third visit was that of a deputation of children asking for some
help to celebrate fittingly the festival of Jizō, who has a shrine on
the other side of the street, exactly opposite my house. I was very
glad to contribute to their fund, for I love the gentle god, and I
knew the festival would be delightful. Early next morning, I saw that
the shrine had already been decked with flowers and votive lanterns.
A new bib had been put about Jizō's neck, and a Buddhist repast set
before him. Later on, carpenters constructed a dancing-platform in the
temple court for the children to dance upon; and before sundown the
toy-sellers had erected and stocked a small street of booths inside the
precincts. After dark I went out into a great glory of lantern fires
to see the children dance; and I found, perched before my gate, an
enormous dragon-fly more than three feet long. It was a token of the
children's gratitude for the little help I had given them,--a kazari, a
decoration. I was startled for the moment by the realism of the thing;
but upon close examination I discovered that the body was a pine branch
wrapped with colored paper, the four wings were four fire-shovels,
and the gleaming head was a little teapot. The whole was lighted by a
candle so placed as to make extraordinary shadows, which formed part of
the design. It was a wonderful instance of art sense working without a
speck of artistic material, yet it was all the labor of a poor little
child only eight years old!

[1] A sort of small silver carp.


_July_ 30. The next house to mine, on the south side,--a low, dingy
structure,--is that of a dyer. You can always tell where a Japanese
dyer is by the long pieces of silk or cotton stretched between bamboo
poles before his door to dry in the sun,--broad bands of rich azure, of
purple, of rose, pale blue, pearl gray. Yesterday my neighbor coaxed me
to pay the family a visit; and after having been led through the front
part of their little dwelling, I was surprised to find myself looking
from a rear veranda at a garden worthy of some old Kyōto palace. There
was a dainty landscape in miniature, and a pond of clear water peopled
by goldfish having wonderfully compound tails.

When I had enjoyed this spectacle awhile, the dyer led me to a small
room fitted up as a Buddhist chapel. Though everything had had to
be made on a reduced scale, I did not remember to have seen a more
artistic display in any temple. He told me it had cost him about
fifteen hundred yen. I did not understand how even that sum could have

There were three elaborately carven altars,-a triple blaze of gold
lacquer-work; a number of charming Buddhist images; many exquisite
vessels; an ebony reading-desk; a mokugyō[1]; two fine bells,--in
short, all the paraphernalia of a temple in miniature. My host had
studied at a Buddhist temple in his youth, and knew the sutras, of
which he had all that are used by the Jōdō sect. He told me that he
could celebrate any of the ordinary services. Daily, at a fixed hour,
the whole family assembled in the chapel for prayers; and he generally
read the Kyō for them. But on extraordinary occasions a Buddhist priest
from the neighboring temple would come to officiate.

He told me a queer story about robbers. Dyers are peculiarly liable
to be visited by robbers; partly by reason of the value of the silks
intrusted to them, and also because the business is known to be
lucrative. One evening the family were robbed. The master was out
of the city; his old mother, his wife, and a female servant were the
only persons in the house at the time. Three men, having their faces
masked and carrying long swords, entered the door. One asked the
servant whether any of the apprentices were still in the building;
and she, hoping to frighten the invaders away, answered that the
young men were all still at work. But the robbers were not disturbed
by this assurance. One posted himself at the entrance, the other two
strode into the sleeping-apartment. The women started up in alarm,
and the wife asked, "Why do you wish to kill us?" He who seemed to be
the leader answered, "We do not wish to kill you; we want money only.
But if we do not get it, then it will be this"--striking his sword
into the matting. The old mother said, "Be so kind as not to frighten
my daughter-in-law, and I will give you whatever money there is in
the house. But you ought to know there cannot be much, as my son has
gone to Kyōto." She handed them the money-drawer and her own purse.
There were, just twenty-seven yen and eighty-four sen. The head robber
counted it, and said, quite gently, "We do not want to frighten you.
We know you are a very devout believer in Buddhism, and we think you
would not tell a lie. Is this all?" "Yes, it is all," she answered.
"I am, as you say, a believer in the teaching of the Buddha, and if
you come to rob me now, I believe it is only because I myself, in some
former life, once robbed you. This is my punishment for that fault,
and so, instead of wishing to deceive you, I feel grateful at this
opportunity to atone for the wrong which I did to you in my previous
state of existence." The robber laughed, and said, "You are a good old
woman, and we believe you. If you were poor, we would not rob you at
all. Now we only want a couple of kimono and this,"--laying his hand on
a very fine silk overdress. The old woman replied, "All my son's kimono
I can give you, but I beg you will not take that, for it does not
belong to my son, and was confided to us only for dyeing. What is ours
I can give, but I cannot give what belongs to another." "That is quite
right," approved the robber, "and we shall not take it."

After receiving a few robes, the robbers said good-night, very
politely, but ordered the women not to look after them. The old servant
was still near the door. As the chief robber passed her, he said, "You
told us a lie,--so take that!"--and struck her senseless. None of the
robbers were ever caught.

[1] A hollow wooden block shaped like a dolphin's head. It is tapped in
accompaniment to the chanting of the Buddhist sutras.


_August_ 29. When a body has been burned, according to the funeral
rites of certain Buddhist sects, search is made among the ashes for a
little bone called the Hotoke-San, or "Lord Buddha," popularly supposed
to be a little bone of the throat. What bone it really is I do not
know, never having had a chance to examine such a relic.

According to the shape of this little bone when found after the
burning, the future condition of the dead may be predicted. Should the
next state to which the soul is destined be one of happiness, the bone
will have the form of a small image of Buddha. But if the next birth
is to be unhappy, then the bone will have either an ugly shape, or no
shape at all.

A little boy, the son of a neighboring tobacconist, died the night
before last, and to-day the corpse was burned. The little hone
left over from the burning was discovered to have the form of three
Buddhas,--San-Tai,--which may have afforded some spiritual consolation
to the bereaved parents.[1]

[1] At the great temple of Tennōji, at Ōsaka, all such bones are
dropped into a vault; and according _to the sound each makes in
falling_, further evidence about the Gōsho is said to be obtained.
After a hundred years from the time of beginning this curious
collection, all these bones are to be ground into a kind of paste, out
of which a colossal statue of Buddha is to be made.


_September_ 13. A letter from Matsue, Izumo, tells me that the old
man who used to supply me with pipestems is dead. (A Japanese pipe,
you must know, consists of three pieces, usually,--a metal bowl large
enough to hold a pea, a metal mouthpiece, and a bamboo stem which is
renewed at regular intervals.) He used to stain his pipestems very
prettily: some looked like porcupine quills, and some like cylinders of
snakeskin. He lived in a queer narrow little street at the verge of the
city. I know the street because in it there is a famous statue of Jizō
called Shiroko-ō,--"White-Child-Jizō,"--which I once went to see. They
whiten its face, like the face of a dancing-girl, for some reason which
I have never been able to find out.

The old man had a daughter, O-Masu, about whom a story is told. O-Masu
is still alive. She has been a happy wife for many years; but she is
dumb. Long ago, an angry mob sacked and destroyed the dwelling and the
storehouses of a rice speculator in the city. His money, including a
quantity of gold coin (_koban_), was scattered through the street.
The rioters--rude, honest peasants--did not want it: they wished to
destroy, not to steal. But O-Masu's father, the same evening, picked up
a koban from the mud, and took it home. Later on a neighbor denounced
him, and secured his arrest. The judge before whom he was summoned
tried to obtain certain evidence by cross-questioning O-Masu, then a
shy girl of fifteen. She felt that if she continued to answer she would
be made, in spite of herself, to give testimony unfavorable to her
father; that she was in the presence of a trained inquisitor, capable,
without effort, of forcing her to acknowledge everything she knew. She
ceased to speak, and a stream of blood gushed from her mouth. She had
silenced herself forever by simply biting off her tongue. Her father
was acquitted. A merchant who admired the act demanded her in marriage,
and supported her father in his old age.


_October_ 10. There is said to be one day--only one--in the life of a
child during which it can remember and speak of its former birth.

On the very day that it becomes exactly two years old, the child is
taken by its mother into the most quiet part of the house, and is
placed in a mi, or rice-winnowing basket. The child sits down in the
mi. Then the mother says, calling the child by name, "_Omae no zensé
wa, nande attakane?--iute, gōran._"[1] Then the child always answers
in one word. For some mysterious reason, no more lengthy reply is
ever given. Often the answer is so enigmatic that some priest or
fortune-teller must be asked to interpret it. For instance, yesterday,
the little son of a copper-smith living near us answered only "Umé"
to the magical question. Now umé might mean a plum-flower, a plum,
or a girl's name,--"Flower-of-the-Plum." Could it mean that the boy
remembered having been a girl? Or that he had been a plum-tree? "Souls
of men do not enter plum-trees," said a neighbor. A fortune-teller this
morning declared, on being questioned about the riddle, that the boy
had probably been a scholar, poet, or statesman, because the plum-tree
is the symbol of Tenjin, patron of scholars, statesmen, and men of

[1] "Thy previous life as for,--what was it? Honorably look [or,
_please_ look] and tell."


_November_ 17. An astonishing book might be written about those things
in Japanese life which no foreigner can understand. Such a book should
include the study of certain rare but terrible results of anger.

As a national rule, the Japanese seldom allow themselves to show anger.
Even among the common classes, any serious menace is apt to take the
form of a smiling assurance that your favor shall be remembered, and
that its recipient is grateful. (Do not suppose, however, that this
is ironical, in our sense of the word: it is only euphemistic,--ugly
things not being called by their real names.) But this smiling
assurance may possibly mean death. When vengeance comes, it comes
unexpectedly. Neither distance nor time, within the empire, can offer
any obstacles to the avenger who can walk fifty miles a day, whose
whole baggage can be tied up in a very small towel, and whose patience
is almost infinite. He may choose a knife, but is much more likely
to use a sword,--a Japanese sword. This, in Japanese hands, is the
deadliest of weapons; and the killing of ten or twelve persons by one
angry man may occupy less than a minute. It does not often happen that
the murderer thinks of trying to escape. Ancient custom requires that,
having taken another life, he should take his own; wherefore to fall
into the hands of the police would be to disgrace his name. He has made
his preparations beforehand, written his letters, arranged for his
funeral, perhaps--as in one appalling instance last year--even chiseled
his own tombstone. Having fully accomplished his revenge, he kills

There has just occurred, not far from the city, at the village called
Sugikamimura, one of those tragedies which are difficult to understand.
The chief actors were, Narumatsu Ichirō, a young shopkeeper; his wife,
O-Noto, twenty years of age, to whom he had been married only a year;
and O-Noto's maternal uncle, one Sugimoto Ivasaku, a man of violent
temper, who had once been in prison. The tragedy was in four acts.

Act I. _Scene: Interior of public bathhouse. Sugimoto Nasaku in the
bath. Enter Narumatsu Ichirō, who strips, gets into the smoking water
without noticing his relative, and cries out,_--

"_Aa!_ as if one should be in Jigoku, so hot this water is!"

(The word "Jigoku" signifies the Buddhist hell; but, in common
parlance, it also signifies a prison,--this time an unfortunate

_Kasaku_ (terribly angry). "A raw baby, you, to seek a hard quarrel!
What do you not like?"

_Ichirō_ (surprised and alarmed, but rallying against the tone of
Kasaku). "Nay! What? That I said need not by you be explained. Though I
said the water was hot, your help to make it hotter was not asked."

_Kasaku_ (now dangerous). "Though for my own fault, not once, but twice
in the hell of prison I had been, what should there be wonderful in it?
Either an idiot child or a low scoundrel you must be!"

(_Each eyes the other for a spring, but each hesitates, although things
no Japanese should suffer himself to say have been said. They are too
evenly matched, the old and the young._)

_Kasaku_ (growing cooler as Ichirō becomes angrier). "A child, a raw
child, to quarrel with _me!_ What should a baby do with a wife? Your
wife is my blood, mine,--the blood of the man from hell! Give her back
to my house."

_Ichirō_ (desperately, now fully assured Kasaku is physically the
better man). "Return my wife? You say to return her? Right quickly
shall she be returned, at once!"

So far everything is clear enough. Then Ichiro hurries home, caresses
his wife, assures her of his love, tells her all, and sends her, not to
Kasaku's house, but to that of her brother. Two days later, a little
after dark, O-Noto is called to the door by her husband, and the two
disappear in the night.

Act II. _Night scene. House of Kasaku closed: light appears through
chinks of sliding shutters. Shadow of a woman approaches. Sound of
knocking. Shutters slide back._

_Wife of Kasaku_ (recognizing O-Noto). "_Aa! aa!_ Joyful it is to see
you! Deign to enter, and some honorable tea to take."

_O-Noto_ (speaking very sweetly). "Thanks indeed. But where is Kasaku

_Wife of Kasaku._ "To the other village he has gone, but must soon
return. Deign to come in and wait for him."

_O-Noto_ (still more sweetly). "Very great thanks. A little, and I
come. But first I must tell my brother."

(_Bows, and slips off into the darkness, and becomes a shadow again,
which joins another shadow. The two shadows remain motionless._)

Act III. _Scene: Bank of a river at night, fringed by pines. Silhouette
of the house of Kasaku far away. O-Noto and Ichiro under the trees,
Ichirō with a lantern. Both have white towels tightly bound round their
heads; their robes are girded well up, and their sleeves caught back
with tasuki cords, to leave the arms free. Each carries a long sword._

It is the hour, as the Japanese most expressively say, "when the sound
of the river is loudest." There is no other sound but a long occasional
humming of wind in the needles of the pines; for it is late autumn, and
the frogs are silent. The two shadows do not speak, and the sound of
the river grows louder.

Suddenly there is the noise of a plash far off,--somebody crossing
the shallow stream; then an echo of wooden sandals,--irregular,
staggering,--the footsteps of a drunkard, coming nearer and nearer. The
drunkard lifts up his voice: it is Kasaku's voice. He sings,--

    "_Suita okata ni suirarete_;

--a song of love and wine.

Immediately the two shadows start toward the singer at a run,--a
noiseless flitting, for their feet are shod with waraji. Kasaku still
sings. Suddenly a loose stone turns under him; he wrenches his ankle,
and utters a growl of anger. Almost in the same instant a lantern is
held close to his face. Perhaps for thirty seconds it remains there. No
one speaks. The yellow light shows three strangely inexpressive masks
rather than visages. Kasaku sobers at once,--recognizing the faces,
remembering the incident of the bathhouse, and seeing the swords. But
he is not afraid, and presently bursts into a mocking laugh.

"Hé! hé! The Ichirō pair! And so you take me, too, for a baby? What are
you doing with such things in your hands? Let me show you how to use

But Ichirō, who has dropped the lantern, suddenly delivers, with the
full swing of both hands, a sword-slash that nearly severs Kasaku's
right arm from the shoulder; and as the victim staggers, the sword of
the woman cleaves through his left shoulder. He falls with one fearful
cry, "_Hitogoroshi!_" which means "murder." But he does not cry again.
For ten whole minutes the swords are busy with him. The lantern, still
glowing, lights the ghastliness. Two belated pedestrians approach,
hear, see, drop their wooden sandals from their feet, and flee back
into the darkness without a word. Ichirō and O-Noto sit down by the
lantern to take breath, for the work was hard.

The son of Kasaku, a boy of fourteen, comes running to find his father.
He has heard the song, then the cry; but he has not yet learned fear.
The two suffer him to approach. As he nears O-Noto, the woman seizes
him, flings him down, twists his slender arms under her knees, and
clutches the sword. But Ichirō, still panting, cries, "No! no! Not the
boy! He did us no wrong!" O-Noto releases him. He is too stupefied to

She slaps his face terribly, crying, "Go!" He runs,--not daring to

Ichirō and O-Noto leave the chopped mass, walk to the house of Kasaku,
and call loudly. There is no reply;--only the pathetic, crouching
silence of women and children waiting death. But they are bidden not to
fear. Then Ichirō cries:--

"Honorable funeral prepare! Kasaku by my hand is now dead!"

"And by mine!" shrills O-Noto.

Then the footsteps recede.

Act IV. _Scene: Interior of Ichirō's house. Three persons kneeling in
the guest-room: Ichirō, his wife, and an aged woman, who is weeping._

Ichirō. "And now, mother, to leave you alone in this world, though
you have no other son, is indeed an evil thing. I can only pray your
forgiveness. But my uncle will always care for you, and to his house
you must go at once, since it is time we two should die. No common,
vulgar death shall we have, but an elegant, splendid death,--_Rippana!_
And you must not see it. Now go."

She passes away, with a wail. The doors are solidly barred behind her.
All is ready.

O-Noto thrusts the point of the sword into her throat. But she still
struggles. With a last kind word Ichiro ends her pain by a stroke that
severs the head.

And then?

Then he takes his writing-box, prepares the inkstone, grinds some ink,
chooses a good brush, and, on carefully selected paper, composes five
poems, of which this is the last:--

    "Meido yori
    Yu dempō ga
    Aru naraba,
    Hay aha an chaku
    Mōshi okuran."[2]

Then he cuts his own throat perfectly well.

Now, it was clearly shown, during the official investigation of these
facts, that Ichirō and his wife had been universally liked, and had
been from their childhood noted for amiability.

The scientific problem of the origin of the Japanese has never yet been
solved. But sometimes it seems to me that those who argue in favor
of a partly Malay origin have some psychological evidence in their
favor. Under the submissive sweetness of the gentlest Japanese woman--a
sweetness of which the Occidental can scarcely form any idea--there
exist possibilities of hardness absolutely inconceivable without ocular
evidence. A thousand times she can forgive, can sacrifice herself in a
thousand ways unutterably touching: but let one particular soul-nerve
be stung, and fire shall forgive sooner than she. Then there may
suddenly appear in that frail-seeming woman an incredible courage,
an appalling, measured, tireless purpose of honest vengeance. Under
all the amazing self-control and patience of the man there exists an
adamantine something very dangerous to reach. Touch it wantonly, and
there can be no pardon. But resentment is seldom likely to be excited
by mere hazard. Motives are keenly judged. An error can be forgiven;
deliberate malice never.

In the house of any rich family the guest is likely to be shown some
of the heirlooms. Among these are almost sure to be certain articles
belonging to those elaborate tea ceremonies peculiar to Japan. A pretty
little box, perhaps, will be set before you. Opening it, you see only
a beautiful silk bag, closed with a silk running-cord decked with tiny
tassels. Very soft and choice the silk is, and elaborately figured.
What marvel can be hidden under such a covering? You open the bag, and
see within another bag, of a different quality of silk, but very fine.
Open that, and lo! a third, which contains a fourth, which contains
a fifth, which contains a sixth, which contains a seventh bag, which
contains the strangest, roughest, hardest vessel of Chinese clay that
you ever beheld. Yet it is not only curious but precious: it may be
more than a thousand years old.

Even thus have centuries of the highest social culture wrapped the
Japanese character about with many priceless soft coverings of
courtesy, of delicacy, of patience, of sweetness, of moral sentiment.
But underneath these charming multiple coverings there remains the
primitive clay, hard as iron;--kneaded perhaps with all the mettle of
the Mongol,--all the dangerous suppleness of the Malay.

[1] The meaning is, "Give to the beloved one a little more [wine]." The
"_Ya-ton-ton_" is only a burden, without exact meaning, like our own
"_With a hey! and a ho!_" etc.

[2] The meaning is about as follows: "If from the Meido it be possible
to send letters or telegrams, I shall write and forward news of our
speedy safe arrival there."


_December_ 28. Beyond the high fence inclosing my garden in the
rear rise the thatched roofs of some very small houses occupied by
families of the poorest class. From one of these little dwellings there
continually issues a sound of groaning,--the deep groaning of a man in
pain. I have heard it for more than a week, both night and day, but
latterly the sounds have been growing longer and louder, as if every
breath were an agony. "Somebody there is very sick," says Manyemon, my
old interpreter, with an expression of extreme sympathy.

The sounds have begun to make me nervous. I reply, rather brutally, "I
think it would be better for all concerned if that somebody were dead."

Manyemon makes three times a quick, sudden gesture with both hands,
as if to throw off the influence of my wicked words, mutters a
little Buddhist prayer, and leaves me with a look of reproach. Then,
conscience-stricken, I send a servant to inquire if the sick person
has a doctor, and whether any aid can be given. Presently the servant
returns with the information that a doctor is regularly attending the
sufferer, and that nothing else can be done.

I notice, however, that, in spite of his cobwebby gestures, Manyemon's
patient nerves have also become affected by those sounds. He has even
confessed that he wants to stay in the little front room, near the
street, so as to be away from them as far as possible. I can neither
write nor read. My study being in the extreme rear, the groaning is
there almost as audible as if the sick man were in the room itself.
There is always in such utterances of suffering a certain ghastly
timbre by which the intensity of the suffering can be estimated; and I
keep asking myself, How can it be possible for the human being making
those sounds by which I am tortured, to endure much longer?

It is a positive relief, later in the morning, to hear the moaning
drowned by the beating of a little Buddhist drum in the sick man's
room, and the chanting of the _Namu myō ho renge kyō_ by a multitude
of voices. Evidently there is a gathering of priests and relatives
in the house. "Somebody is going to die," Manyemon says. And he also
repeats the holy words of praise to the Lotus of the Good Law.

The chanting and the tapping of the drum continue for several hours.
As they cease, the groaning is heard again. Every breath a groan!
Toward evening it grows worse--horrible. Then it suddenly stops. There
is a dead silence of minutes. And then we hear a passionate burst of
weeping,--the weeping of a woman,--and voices calling a name. "Ah!
somebody is dead!" Manyemon says.

We hold council. Manyemon has found out that the people are miserably
poor; and I, because my conscience smites me, propose to send them the
amount of the funeral expenses, a very small sum. Manyemon thinks I
wish to do this out of pure benevolence, and says pretty things. We
send the servant with a kind message, and instructions to learn if
possible the history of the dead man. I cannot help suspecting some
sort of tragedy; and a Japanese tragedy is generally interesting.

_December_ 29. As I had surmised, the story of the dead man was worth
learning. The family consisted of four,--the father and mother, both
very old and feeble, and two sons. It was the eldest son, a man of
thirty-four, who had died. He had been sick for seven years. The
younger brother, a kurumaya, had been the sole support of the whole
family. He had no vehicle of his own, but hired one, paying five sen a
day for the use of it. Though strong and a swift runner, he could earn
little: there is in these days too much competition for the business
to be profitable. It taxed all his powers to support his parents
and his ailing brother; nor could he have done it without unfailing
self-denial. He never indulged himself even to the extent of a cup of
saké; he remained unmarried; he lived only for his filial and fraternal

This was the story of the dead brother: When about twenty years of age,
and following the occupation of a fish-seller, he had fallen in love
with a pretty servant at an inn. The girl returned his affection. They
pledged themselves to each other. But difficulties arose in the way of
their marriage.

The girl was pretty enough to have attracted the attention of a man of
some means, who demanded her hand in the customary way. She disliked
him; but the conditions he was able to offer decided her parents in his
favor. Despairing of union, the two lovers resolved to perform jōshi.
Somewhere or other they met at night, renewed their pledge in wine, and
bade farewell to the world. The young man then killed his sweetheart
with one blow of a sword, and immediately afterward cut his own throat
with the same weapon. But people rushed into the room before he had
expired, took away the sword, sent for the police, and summoned a
military surgeon from the garrison. The would-be suicide was removed to
the hospital, skillfully nursed back to health, and after some months
of convalescence was put on trial for murder.

What sentence was passed I could not fully learn. In those days,
Japanese judges used a good deal of personal discretion when dealing
with emotional crime; and their exercise of pity had not yet been
restricted by codes framed upon Western models. Perhaps in this case
they thought that to have survived a jōshi was in itself a severe
punishment. Public opinion is less merciful, in such instances, than
law. After a term of imprisonment the miserable man was allowed
to return to his family, but was placed under perpetual police
surveillance. The people shrank from him. He made the mistake of living
on. Only his parents and brother remained to him. And soon he became a
victim of unspeakable physical suffering; yet he clung to life.

The old wound in his throat, although treated at the time as skillfully
as circumstances permitted, began to cause terrible pain. After its
apparent healing, some slow cancerous growth commenced to spread
from it, reaching into the breathing-passages above and below where
the sword-blade had passed. The surgeon's knife, the torture of the
cautery, could only delay the end. But the man lingered through seven
years of continually increasing agony. There are dark beliefs about
the results of betraying the dead,--of breaking the mutual promise to
travel together to the Meido. Men said that the hand of the murdered
girl always reopened the wound,--undid by night all that the surgeon
could accomplish by day. For at night the pain invariably increased,
becoming most terrible at the precise hour of the attempted shinjū!

Meanwhile, through abstemiousness and extraordinary self-denial, the
family found means to pay for medicines, for attendance, and for more
nourishing food than they themselves ever indulged in. They prolonged
by all possible means the life that was their shame, their poverty,
their burden. And now that death has taken away that burden, they weep!

Perhaps all of us learn to love that which we train ourselves to make
sacrifices for, whatever pain it may cause. Indeed, the question might
be asked whether we do not love most that which causes us most pain.




On the ridge of the hill behind the Government College,--above a
succession of tiny farm fields ascending the slope by terraces,--there
is an ancient village cemetery. It is no longer used: the people of
Kurogamimura now bury their dead in a more secluded spot; and I think
their fields are beginning already to encroach upon the limits of the
old graveyard.

Having an idle hour to pass between two classes, I resolve to pay the
ridge a visit. Harmless thin black snakes wiggle across the way as I
climb; and immense grasshoppers, exactly the color of parched leaves,
whirr away from my shadow. The little field path vanishes altogether
under coarse grass before reaching the broken steps at the cemetery
gate; and in the cemetery itself there is no path at all--only weeds
and stones. But there is a fine view from the ridge: the vast green
Plain of Higo, and beyond it bright blue hills in a half-ring against
the horizon light, and even beyond them the cone of Aso smoking forever.

Below me, as in a bird's-eye view, appears the college, like a
miniature modern town, with its long ranges of many windowed
buildings, all of the year 1887. They represent the purely utilitarian
architecture of the nineteenth century: they might be situated equally
well in Kent or in Auckland or in New Hampshire without appearing in
the least out of tone with the age. But the terraced fields above and
the figures toiling in them might be of the fifth century. The language
cut upon the haka whereon I lean is transliterated Sanscrit. And there
is a Buddha beside me, sitting upon his lotus of stone just as he sat
in the days of Kato Kiyomasa. His meditative gaze slants down between
his half-closed eyelids upon the Government College and its tumultuous
life; and he smiles the smile of one who has received an injury not to
be resented. This is not the expression wrought by the sculptor: moss
and scurf have distorted it. I also observe that his hands are broken.
I am sorry, and try to scrape the moss away from the little symbolic
protuberance on his forehead, remembering the ancient text of the
"Lotus of the Good Law:"--

"_There issued a ray of light from the circle of hair between the
brows of the Lord. It extended over eighteen hundred thousand Buddha
fields, so that all those Buddha fields appeared wholly illuminated
by its radiance, down to the great hell Aviki, and up to the limit of
existence. And all the beings in each of the Six States of existence
became visible,--all without exception. Even the Lord Buddhas in those
Buddha fields who had reached final Nirvana, all became visible._"


The sun is high behind me; the landscape before me as in an old
Japanese picture-book. In old Japanese color-prints there are, as a
rule, no shadows. And the Plain of Higo, all shadowless, broadens
greenly to the horizon, where the blue spectres of the peaks seem to
float in the enormous glow. But the vast level presents no uniform
hue: it is banded and seamed by all tones of green, intercrossed as if
laid on by long strokes of a brush. In this again the vision resembles
some scene from a Japanese picture-book.

Open such a book for the first time, and you receive a peculiarly
startling impression, a sensation of surprise, which causes you to
think: "How strangely, how curiously, these people feel and see
Nature!" The wonder of it grows upon you, and you ask: "Can it be
possible their senses are so utterly different from ours?" Yes, it is
quite possible; but look a little more. You do so, and there defines
a third and ultimate idea, confirming the previous two. You feel the
picture is more true to Nature than any Western painting of the same
scene would be,--that it produces sensations of Nature no Western
picture could give. And indeed there are contained within it whole
ranges of discoveries for you to make. Before making them, however, you
will ask yourself another riddle, somewhat thus: "All this is magically
vivid; the inexplicable color is Nature's own. _But why does the thing
seem so ghostly?_"

Well, chiefly because of the absence of shadows. What prevents you from
missing them at once is the astounding skill in the recognition and use
of color-values. The scene, however, is not depicted as if illumined
from one side, but as if throughout suffused with light. Now there are
really moments when landscapes do wear this aspect; but our artists
rarely study them.

Be it nevertheless observed that the old Japanese loved shadows made
by the moon, and painted the same, because these were weird and did
not interfere with color. But they had no admiration for shadows that
blacken and break the charm of the world under the sun. When their
noon-day landscapes are flecked by shadows at all,'tis by very thin
ones only,--mere deepenings of tone, like those fugitive half-glooms
which run before a summer cloud. And the inner as well as the outer
world was luminous for them. Psychologically also they saw life without

Then the West burst into their Buddhist peace, and saw their art, and
bought it up till an Imperial law was issued to preserve the best of
what was left. And when there was nothing more to be bought, and it
seemed possible that fresh creation might reduce the market price of
what had been bought already, then the West said: "Oh, come now! you
must n't go on drawing and seeing things that way, you know! It is n't
Art! You, must really learn to see shadows, you know,--and pay me to
teach you."

So Japan paid to learn how to see shadows in Nature, in life, and in
thought. And the West taught her that the sole business of the divine
sun was the making of the cheaper kind of shadows. And the West taught
her that the higher-priced shadows were the sole product of Western
civilization, and bade her admire and adopt. Then Japan wondered at
the shadows of machinery and chimneys and telegraph-poles; and at the
shadows of mines and of factories, and the shadows in the hearts of
those who worked there; and at the shadows of houses twenty stories
high, and of hunger begging under them; and shadows of enormous
charities that multiplied poverty; and shadows of social reforms that
multiplied vice; and shadows of shams and hypocrisies and swallow-tail
coats; and the shadow of a foreign God, said to have created mankind
for the purpose of an _auto-da-fé_. Whereat Japan became rather
serious, and refused to study any more silhouettes. Fortunately for the
world, she returned to her first matchless art; and, fortunately for
herself, returned to her own beautiful faith. But some of the shadows
still clung to her life; and she cannot possibly get rid of them. Never
again can the world seem to her quite so beautiful as it did before.


Just beyond the cemetery, in a tiny patch of hedged-in land, a farmer
and his ox are plowing the black soil with a plow of the Period of the
Gods; and the wife helps the work with a hoe more ancient than even the
Empire of Japan. All the three are toiling with a strange earnestness,
as though goaded without mercy by the knowledge that labor is the price
of life.

That man I have often seen before in the colored prints of another
century. I have seen him in kakemono of much more ancient date. I have
seen him on painted screens of still greater antiquity. Exactly the
same! Other fashions beyond counting have passed: the peasant's straw
hat, straw coat, and sandals of straw remain. He himself is older,
incomparably older, than his attire. The earth he tills has indeed
swallowed him up a thousand times a thousand times; but each time
it has given back to him his life with force renewed. And with this
perpetual renewal he is content: he asks no more. The mountains change
their shapes; the rivers shift their courses; the stars change their
places in the sky: he changes never. Yet, though unchanging, is he a
maker of change. Out of the sum of his toil are wrought the ships of
iron, the roads of steel, the palaces of stone; his are the hands that
pay for the universities and the new learning, for the telegraphs and
the electric lights and the repeating-rifles, for the machinery of
science and the machinery of commerce and the machinery of war. He is
the giver of all; he is given in return--the right to labor forever.
Wherefore he plows the centuries under, to plant new lives of men.
And he will thus toil on till the work of the world shall have been
done,--till the time of the end of man.

And what will be that end? Will it be ill or well? Or must it for all
of us remain a mystery insolvable?

Out of the wisdom of the West is answer given: "Man's evolution is
a progress into perfection and beatitude. The goal of evolution is
Equilibration. Evils will vanish, one by one, till only that which is
good survive. Then shall knowledge obtain its uttermost expansion; then
shall mind put forth its most wondrous blossoms; then shall cease all
struggle and all bitterness of soul, and all the wrongs and all the
follies of life. Men shall become as gods, in all save immortality; and
each existence shall be prolonged through centuries; and all the joys
of life shall be made common in many a paradise terrestrial, fairer
than poet's dream. And there shall be neither riders nor ruled, neither
governments nor laws; for the order of all things shall be resolved by

But thereafter?

"Thereafter? Oh, thereafter by reason of the persistence of Force and
other cosmic laws, dissolution must come: all integration must yield
to disintegration. This is the testimony of science."

Then all that may have been won, must be lost; all that shall have been
wrought, utterly undone. Then all that shall have been overcome, must
overcome; all that may have been suffered for good, must be suffered
again for no purpose interpretable. Even as out of the Unknown was born
the immeasurable pain of the Past, so into the Unknown must expire the
immeasurable pain of the Future. What, therefore, the worth of our
evolution? what, therefore, the meaning of life--of this phantom-flash
between darknesses? Is your evolution only a passing out of absolute
mystery into universal death? In the hour when that man in the hat of
straw shall have crumbled back, for the last mundane time, into the
clay he tills, of what avail shall have been all the labor of a million

"Nay!" answers the West. "There is not any universal death in such a
sense. Death signifies only change. Thereafter will appear another
universal life. All that assures us of dissolution, not less certainly
assures us of renewal. The Cosmos, resolved into a nebula, must
recondense to form another swarm of worlds. And then, perhaps, your
peasant may reappear with his patient ox, to till some soil illumined
by purple or violet suns." Yes, but after that resurrection? "Why, then
another evolution, another equilibration, another dissolution. This is
the teaching of science. This is the infinite law."

But then that resurrected life, can it be ever new? Will it not rather
be infinitely old? For so surely as that which is must eternally be, so
must that which will be have eternally been. As there can be no end,
so there can have been no beginning; and even Time is an illusion,
and there is nothing new beneath a hundred million suns. Death is
not death, not a rest, not an end of pain, but the most appalling of
mockeries. And out of this infinite whirl of pain you can tell us no
way of escape. Have you then made us any wiser than that straw-sandaled
peasant is? He knows all this. He learned, while yet a child, from
the priests who taught him to write in the Buddhist temple school,
something of his own innumerable births, and of the apparition and
disparition of universes, and of the unity of life. That which you have
mathematically discovered was known to the East long before the coming
of the Buddha. How known, who may say? Perhaps there have been memories
that survived the wrecks of universes. But be that as it may, your
annunciation is enormously old: your methods only are new, and serve
merely to confirm ancient theories of the Cosmos, and to recomplicate
the complications of the everlasting Riddle.

Unto which the West makes answer:--"Not so! I have discerned the
rhythm of that eternal action whereby worlds are shapen or dissipated;
I have divined the Laws of Pain evolving all sentient existence, the
Laws of Pain evolving thought; I have discovered and proclaimed the
means by which sorrow may be lessened; I have taught the necessity of
effort, and the highest duty of life. And surely the knowledge of the
duty of life is the knowledge of largest worth to man."

Perhaps. But the knowledge of the necessity and of the duty, as you
have proclaimed them, is a knowledge very, very much older than you.
Probably that peasant knew it fifty thousand years ago, on this planet.
Possibly also upon other long--vanished planets, in cycles forgotten
by the gods. If this be the Omega of Western wisdom, then is he of the
straw sandals our equal in knowledge, even though he be classed by the
Buddha among the ignorant ones only,--they who "people the cemeteries
again and again."

"He cannot know," makes answer Science; "at the very most he only
believes, or thinks that he believes. Not even his wisest priests can
prove. I alone have proven; I alone have given proof absolute. And
I have proved for ethical renovation, though accused of proving for
destruction. I have defined the uttermost impassable limit of human
knowledge; but I have also established for all time the immovable
foundations of that highest doubt which is wholesome, since it is the
substance of hope. I have shown that even the least of human thoughts,
of human acts, may have perpetual record,--making self-registration
through tremulosities invisible that pass to the eternities. And I
have fixed the basis of a new morality upon everlasting truth, even
though I may have left of ancient creeds only their empty shell."

Creeds of the West--yes! But not of the creed of this older East.
Not yet have you even measured it. What matter that this peasant
cannot prove, since thus much of his belief is that which you have
proved for all of us? And he holds still another belief that reaches
beyond yours. He too has been taught that acts and thoughts outlive
the lives of men. But he has been taught more than this. He has been
taught that the thoughts and acts of each being, projected beyond the
individual existence, shape other lives unborn; he has been taught to
control his most secret wishes, because of their immeasurable inherent
potentialities. And he has been taught all this in words as plain
and thoughts as simply woven as the straw of his rain-coat. What if
he cannot prove his premises? you have proved them, for him and for
the world. He has only a theory of the future, indeed; but you have
furnished irrefutable evidence that it is not founded upon dreams. And
since all your past labors have only served to confirm a few of the
beliefs stored up in his simple mind, is it any folly to presume that
your future labors also may serve to prove the truth of other beliefs
of his, which you have not yet taken the trouble to examine?

"For instance, that earthquakes are caused by a big fish?"

Do not sneer! Our Western notions about such things were just as crude
only a few generations back. No! I mean the ancient teaching that acts
and thoughts are not merely the incidents of life, but its creators.
Even as it has been written, "_All that we are is the result of what
we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts; it is made up of our


And there comes to me the memory of a queer story.

The common faith of the common people, that the misfortunes of the
present are results of the follies committed in a former state of
existence, and that the errors of this life will influence the future
birth, is curiously reinforced by various superstitions probably much
older than Buddhism, but not at variance with its faultless doctrine of
conduct. Among these, perhaps the most remarkable is the belief that
even our most secret thoughts of evil may have ghostly consequences
upon _other people's lives._

The house now occupied by one of my friends used to be haunted. You
could never imagine it to have been haunted, because it is unusually
luminous, extremely pretty, and comparatively new. It has no dark nooks
or corners. It is surrounded with a large bright garden,--a Kyūshū
landscape garden without any big trees for ghosts to hide behind. Yet
haunted it was, and in broad day.

First you must learn that in this Orient there are two sorts of
haunters: the Shi-ryō and the Iki-ryō. The Shi-ryō are merely the
ghosts of the dead; and here, as in most lands, they follow their
ancient habit of coming at night only. But the Iki-ryō, which are the
ghosts of the living, may come at all hours; and they are much more to
be feared, because they have power to kill.

Now the house of which I speak was haunted by an Iki-ryō.

The man who built it was an official, wealthy and esteemed. He designed
it as a home for his old age; and when it was finished he filled it
with beautiful things, and hung tinkling wind bells along its eaves.
Artists of skill painted the naked precious wood of its panels with
blossoming sprays of cherry and plum tree, and figures of gold-eyed
falcons poised on crests of pine, and slim fawns feeding under maple
shadows, and wild ducks in snow, and herons flying, and iris flowers
blooming, and long-armed monkeys clutching at the face of the moon in
water: all the symbols of the seasons and of good fortune.

Fortunate the owner was; yet he knew one sorrow--he had no heir.
Therefore, with his wife's consent, and according to antique custom, he
took a strange woman into his home that she might give him a child,--a
young woman from the country, to whom large promises were made. When
she had borne him a son, she was sent away; and a nurse was hired for
the boy, that he might not regret his real mother. All this had been
agreed to beforehand; and there were ancient usages to justify it. But
all the promises made to the mother of the boy had not been fulfilled
when she was sent away.

And after a little time the rich man fell sick; and he grew worse
thereafter day by day; and his people said there was an Iki-ryō in
the house. Skilled physicians did all they could for him; but he only
became weaker and weaker; and the physicians at last confessed they had
no more hope. And the wife made offerings at the Ujigami, and prayed
to the Gods; but the Gods gave answer: "He must die unless he obtain
forgiveness from one whom he wronged, and undo the wrong by making just
amend. For there is an Iki-ryō in your house."

Then the sick man remembered, and was conscience-smitten, and sent
out servants to bring the woman back to his home. But she was
gone,--somewhere lost among the forty millions of the Empire. And the
sickness ever grew worse; and search was made in vain; and the weeks
passed. At last there came to the gate a peasant who said that he knew
the place to which the woman had gone, and that he would journey to
find her if supplied with means of travel. But the sick man, hearing,
cried out: "No! she would never forgive me in her heart, because she
could not. It is too late!" And he died.

After which the widow and the relatives and the little boy abandoned
the new house; and strangers entered thereinto.

Curiously enough, the people spoke harshly concerning the mother of the
boy--holding her to blame for the haunting.

I thought it very strange at first, not because I had formed any
positive judgment as to the rights and wrongs of the case. Indeed I
could not form such a judgment; for I could not learn the full details
of the story. I thought the criticism of the people very strange,

Why? Simply because there is nothing voluntary about the sending of an
Iki-ryō. It is not witchcraft at all. The Iki-ryō goes forth without
the knowledge of the person whose emanation it is. (There is a kind of
witchcraft which is believed to send Things,--but not Iki-ryō.) You
will now understand why I thought the condemnation of the young woman
very strange.

But you could scarcely guess the solution of the problem. It is a
religious one, involving conceptions totally unknown to the West. She
from whom the Iki-ryō proceeded was never blamed by the people as
a witch. They never suggested that it might have been created with
her knowledge. They even sympathized with what they deemed to be her
just plaint. They blamed her only for having been too angry,--for
not sufficiently controlling her unspoken resentment,--because she
should have known _that anger, secretly indulged, can have ghostly

I ask nobody to take for granted the possibility of the Iki-ryō, except
as a strong form of conscience. But as an influence upon conduct, the
belief certainly has value. Besides, it is suggestive. Who is really
able to assure us that secret evil desires, pent-up resentments, masked
hates, do not exert any force outside of the will that conceives and
nurses them? May there not be a deeper meaning than Western ethics
recognize in those words of the Buddha,--"_Hatred ceases not by hatred
at any time; hatred ceases by love: this is an old rule_"? It was very
old then, even in his day. In ours it has been said, "Whensoever a
wrong is done you, and you do not resent it, then so much evil dies in
the world." But does it? Are we quite sure that not to resent it is
enough? Can the motive tendency set loose in the mind by the sense of
a wrong be nullified simply by non-action on the part of the wronged?
Can any force die? The forces we know may be transformed only. So much
also may be true of the forces we do not know; and of these are Life,
Sensation, Will,--all that makes up the infinite mystery called "I."


"The duty of Science," answers Science, "is to systematize human
experience, not to theorize about ghosts. And the judgment of the time,
even in Japan, sustains this position taken by Science. What is now
being taught below there,--my doctrines, or the doctrines of the Man in
the Straw Sandals?"

Then the Stone Buddha and I look down upon the college together; and
as we gaze, the smile of the Buddha--perhaps because of a change in
the light--seems to me to have changed its expression, to have become
an ironical smile. Nevertheless he is contemplating the fortress of
a more than formidable enemy. In all that teaching of four hundred
youths by thirty-three teachers, there is no teaching of faith, but
only teaching of fact,--only teaching of the definite results of the
systematization of human experience. And I am absolutely certain that
if I were to question, concerning the things of the Buddha, any of
those thirty-three instructors (saving one dear old man of seventy,
the Professor of Chinese), I should receive no reply. For they belong
unto the new generation, holding that such topics are fit for the
consideration of Men-in-Straw-Rain--coats only, and that in this
twenty-sixth year of Meiji, the scholar should occupy himself only
with the results of the systematization of human experience. Yet the
systematization of human experience in no wise enlightens us as to the
Whence, the Whither, or, worst of all!--the Why.

"_The Laws of Existence which proceed from a cause,--the cause of these
hath the Buddha explained, as also the destruction of the same. Even of
such truths is the great Sramana the teacher._"

And I ask myself, Must the teaching of Science in this land efface at
last the memory of the teaching of the Buddha?

"As for that," makes answer Science, "the test of the right of a
faith to live must be sought in its power to accept and to utilize
my revelations. Science neither affirms what it cannot prove, nor
denies that which it cannot rationally disprove. Theorizing about the
Unknowable, it recognizes and pities as a necessity of the human mind.
You and the Man-in-the-Straw-Rain-coat may harmlessly continue to
theorize for such time as your theories advance in lines parallel with
my facts, but no longer."

And seeking inspiration from the deep irony of Buddha's smile, I
theorize in parallel lines.


The whole tendency of modern knowledge, the whole tendency of
scientific teaching, is toward the ultimate conviction that the
Unknowable, even as the Brahma of ancient Indian thought, is
inaccessible to prayer. Not a few of us can feel that Western Faith
must finally pass away forever, leaving us to our own resources when
our mental manhood shall have been attained, even as the fondest of
mothers must leave her children at last. In that far day her work will
all have been done; she will have fully developed our recognition
of certain eternal spiritual laws; she will have fully ripened our
profounder human sympathies; she will have fully prepared us by her
parables and fairy tales, by her gentler falsehoods, for the terrible
truth of existence;--prepared us for the knowledge that there is no
divine love save the love of man for man; that we have no All-Father,
no Saviour, no angel guardians; that we have no possible refuge but in

Yet even in that strange day we shall only have stumbled to the
threshold of the revelation given by the Buddha so many ages ago:
"Be ye lamps unto yourselves; be ye a refuge unto yourselves. Betake
yourselves to no other refuge. The Buddhas are only teachers. Hold ye
fast to the truth as to a lamp. Hold fast as a refuge to the truth.
Look not for refuge to any beside yourselves."

Does the utterance shock? Yet the prospect of such a void awakening
from our long fair dream of celestial aid and celestial love would
never be the darkest prospect possible for man. There is a darker,
also foreshadowed by Eastern thought. Science may hold in reserve
for us discoveries infinitely more appalling than the realization
of Richter's dream,--the dream of the dead children seeking vainly
their father Jesus. In the negation of the materialist even, there
was a faith of consolation--self-assurance of individual cessation,
of oblivion eternal. But for the existing thinker there is no such
faith. It may remain for us to learn, after having vanquished all
difficulties possible to meet upon this tiny sphere, that there await
us obstacles to overcome beyond it,--obstacles vaster than any system
of worlds,--obstacles weightier than the whole inconceivable Cosmos
with its centuries of millions of systems; that our task is only
beginning; and that there will never be given to us even the ghost of
any help, save the help of unutterable and unthinkable Time. We may
have to learn that the infinite whirl of death and birth, out of which
we cannot escape, is of our own creation, of our own seeking--that the
forces integrating worlds are the errors of the Past;--that the eternal
sorrow is but the eternal hunger of insatiable desire;--and that the
burnt-out suns are rekindled only by the inextinguishable passions of
vanished lives.



Man at his birth is supple and weak; at his death, firm and strong. So
is it with all things.... Firmness and strength are the concomitants of
death; softness and weakness, the concomitants of life. Hence he who
relies on his own strength shall not conquer. Tao-Te-King.


There is one building in the grounds of the Government College quite
different in structure from the other edifices. Except that it is
furnished with horizontally sliding glass windows instead of paper
ones, it might be called a purely Japanese building. It is long, broad,
and of one story; and it contains but a single huge room, of which
the elevated floor is thickly cushioned with one hundred mats. It has
a Japanese name, too,--Zuihōkwan,--signifying "The Hall of Our Holy
Country;" and the Chinese characters which form that name were painted
upon the small tablet above its entrance by the hand of a Prince of
the Imperial blood. Within there is no furniture; nothing but another
tablet and two pictures hanging upon the wall. One of the pictures
represents the famous "White-Tiger Band" of seventeen brave boys who
voluntarily sought death for loyalty's sake in the civil war. The other
is a portrait in oil of the aged and much beloved Professor of Chinese,
Akizuki of Aidzu, a noted warrior in his youth, when it required much
more to make a soldier and a gentleman than it does to-day. And the
tablet bears Chinese characters written by the hand of Count Katsu,
which signify: "Profound knowledge is the best of possessions."

But what is the knowledge taught in this huge unfurnished apartment? It
is something called jiujutsu. And what is jiujutsu?

Here I must premise that I know practically nothing of jiujutsu. One
must begin to study it in early youth, and must continue the study a
very long time in order to learn it even tolerably well. To become an
expert requires seven years of constant practice, even presupposing
natural aptitudes of an uncommon order. I can give no detailed account
of jiujutsu, but merely venture some general remarks about its

Jiujutsu is the old samurai art of fighting without weapons. To the
uninitiated it looks like wrestling. Should you happen to enter the
Zuihōkwan while jiujutsu is being practiced, you would see a crowd
of students watching ten or twelve lithe young comrades, barefooted
and barelimbed, throwing each other about on the matting. The dead
silence might seem to you very strange. No word is spoken, no sign of
approbation or of amusement is given, no face even smiles. Absolute
impassiveness is rigidly exacted by the rules of the school of
jiujutsu. But probably only this impassibility of all, this hush of
numbers, would impress you as remarkable.

A professional wrestler would observe more. He would see that those'
young men are very cautious about putting forth their strength, and
that the grips, holds, and flings are both peculiar and risky. In spite
of the care exercised, he would judge the whole performance to be
dangerous play, and would be tempted, perhaps, to advise the adoption
of Western "scientific" rules.

The real thing, however,--not the play,--is much more dangerous than
a Western wrestler could guess at sight. The teacher there, slender
and light as he seems, could probably disable an ordinary wrestler
in two minutes. Jiujutsu is not an art of display at all: it is not
a training for that sort of skill exhibited to public audiences; it
is an art of self-defense in the most exact sense of the term; it is
an art of war. The master of that art is able, in one moment, to put
an untrained antagonist completely _hors de combat_. By some terrible
legerdemain he suddenly dislocates a shoulder, unhinges a joint, bursts
a tendon, or snaps a bone,--without any apparent effort. He is much
more than an athlete: he is an anatomist. And he knows also touches
that kill--as by lightning. But this fatal knowledge he is under oath
never to communicate except under such conditions as would render its
abuse almost impossible. Tradition exacts that it be given only to men
of perfect self-command and of unimpeachable moral character.

The fact, however, to which I want to call attention is that the master
of jiujutsu never relies upon his own strength. He scarcely uses his
own strength in the greatest emergency. Then what does he use? Simply
the strength of his antagonist. The force of the enemy is the only
means by which that enemy is overcome. The art of jiujutsu teaches you
to rely for victory solely upon the strength of your opponent; and
the greater his strength, the worse for him and the better for you. I
remember that I was not a little astonished when one of the greatest
teachers of jiujutsu[1] told me that he found it extremely difficult to
teach a certain very strong pupil, whom I had innocently imagined to
be the best in the class. On asking why, I was answered: "Because he
relies upon his enormous muscular strength, and uses it." The very name
"jiujutsu" means _to conquer by yielding._

I fear I cannot explain at all; I can only suggest. Every one knows
what a "counter" in boxing means. I cannot use it for an exact simile,
because the boxer who counters opposes his whole force to the impetus
of the other; while a jiujutsu expert does precisely the contrary.
Still there remains this resemblance between a counter in boxing and
a yielding in jiujutsu,--that the suffering is in both cases due to
the uncontrollable forward impetus of the man who receives it. I
may venture then to say, loosely, that in jiujutsu there is a sort
of counter for every twist, wrench, pull, push, or bend: only, the
jiujutsu expert does not oppose such movements at all. No: he yields
to them. But he does much more than yield to them. He aids them with a
wicked sleight that causes the assailant to put out his own shoulder,
to fracture his own arm, or, in a desperate case, even to break his own
neck or back.

[1] Kano Jigoro. Mr. Kano contributed some years ago to the
_Transactions of the Asiatic Society_ a very interesting paper on the
history of Jiujutsu.


With even this vaguest of explanations, you will already have been able
to perceive that the real wonder of jiujutsu is not in the highest
possible skill of its best professor, but in the uniquely Oriental idea
which the whole art expresses. What Western brain could have elaborated
this strange teaching,--never to oppose force to force, but only to
direct and utilize the power of attack; to overthrow the enemy solely
by his own strength,--to vanquish him solely by his own effort? Surely
none! The Occidental mind appears to work in straight lines; the
Oriental, in wonderful curves and circles. Yet how fine a symbolism of
Intelligence as a means to foil brute force! Much more than a science
of defense is this jiujutsu: it is a philosophical system; it is an
economical system; it is an ethical system (indeed, I had forgotten to
say that a very large part of jiujutsu-training is purely moral); and
it is, above all, the expression of a racial genius as yet but faintly
perceived by those Powers who dream of further aggrandizement in the

Twenty-five years ago,--and even more recently,---foreigners might
have predicted, with every appearance of reason, that Japan would
adopt not only the dress, but the manners of the Occident; not only
our means of rapid transit and communication, but also our principles
of architecture; not only our industries and our applied science, but
likewise our metaphysics and our dogmas. Some really believed that
the country would soon be thrown open to foreign settlement; that
Western capital would be tempted by extraordinary privileges to aid in
the development of various resources; and even that the nation would
eventually proclaim, through Imperial Edict, its sudden conversion to
what we call Christianity. But such beliefs were due to an unavoidable
but absolute ignorance of the character of the race,--of its deeper
capacities, of its foresight, of its immemorial spirit of independence.
That Japan might only be practicing jiujutsu, nobody supposed for
a moment: indeed at that time nobody in the West had ever heard of

And, nevertheless, jiujutsu it all was. Japan adopted a military
system founded upon the best experience of France and Germany, with
the result that she can call into the field a disciplined force of
250,000 men, supported by a formidable artillery. She created a strong
navy, comprising some of the finest cruisers in the world;--modeling
her naval system upon the best English and French teaching. She made
herself dockyards under French direction, and built or bought steamers
to carry her products to Korea, China, Manilla, Mexico, India, and
the tropics of the Pacific. She constructed, both for military and
commercial purposes, nearly two thousand miles of railroad. With
American and English help she established the cheapest and perhaps the
most efficient telegraph and postal service in existence. She built
lighthouses to such excellent purpose that her coast is said to be the
best lighted in either hemisphere; and she put into operation a signal
service not inferior to that of the United States. From America she
obtained also a telephone system, and the best methods of electric
lighting. She modeled her public-school system upon a thorough study
of the best results obtained in Germany, France, and America, but
regulated it so as to harmonize perfectly with her own institutions.
She founded a police system upon a French model, but shaped it to
absolute conformity with her own particular social requirements.
At first she imported machinery for her mines, her mills, her
gun-factories, her railways, and hired numbers of foreign experts: she
is now dismissing all her teachers. But what she has done and is doing
would require volumes even to mention. Suffice to say, in conclusion,
that she has selected and adopted the best of everything represented by
our industries, by our applied sciences, by our economical, financial,
and legal experience; availing herself in every case of the highest
results only, and invariably shaping her acquisitions to meet her own

Now in all this she has adopted nothing for a merely imitative reason.
On the contrary, she has approved and taken only what can help her
to increase her strength. She has made herself able to dispense with
nearly all foreign technical instruction; and she has kept firmly in
her own hands, by the shrewdest legislation, all of her own resources.
But she has _not_ adopted Western dress, Western habits of life,
Western architecture, or Western religion; since the introduction
of any of these, especially the last, would have diminished instead
of augmenting her force. Despite her railroad and steamship lines,
her telegraphs and telephones, her postal service and her express
companies, her steel artillery and magazine-rifles, her universities
and technical schools, she remains just as Oriental to-day as she
was a thousand years ago. She has been able to remain herself, and to
profit to the utmost possible limit by the strength of the enemy. She
has been, and still is, defending herself by the most admirable system
of intellectual self-defense ever heard of,--by a marvelous national


Before me lies an album more than thirty years old. It is filled
with photographs taken at the time when Japan was entering upon her
experiments with foreign dress and with foreign institutions. All are
photographs of samurai or daimyô; and many possess historical value as
reflections of the earliest effects of foreign influence upon native

Naturally the military class were the earliest subjects of the
new influence; and they seem to have attempted several curious
compromises between the Western and the Eastern costume. More than
a dozen photographs represent feudal leaders surrounded by their
retainers,--all in a peculiar garb of their own composition. They
have frock coats, waistcoats, and trousers of foreign style and
material; but under the coat the long silk girdle or obi is still worn,
simply for the purpose of holding the swords. (For the samurai were
never in a literal sense _traîneurs de sabre_; and their formidable
but exquisitely finished weapons were never made to be slung at the
side,--besides being in most cases much too long to be carried in the
Western way.) The cloth of the suits is broadcloth; but the samurai
will not surrender his mon, or crest, and tries to adapt it to his
novel attire by all manner of devices. One has faced the lappets of
his coat with white silk; and his family device is either dyed or
embroidered upon the silk six times--three mon to each lappet. All the
men, or nearly all, wear European watches with showy guards; one is
examining his timepiece curiously, probably a very recent acquisition.
All wear Western shoes, too,--shoes with elastic sides. But none seem
to have yet adopted the utterly abominable European hat--destined,
unfortunately, to become popular at a later day. They still retain the
jingasa,--a strong wooden headpiece, heavily lacquered in scarlet
and gold. And the jingasa and the silken girdle remain the only
satisfactory parts of their astounding uniform. The trousers and coats
are ill fitting; the shoes are inflicting slow tortures; there is an
indescribably constrained, slouchy, shabby look common to all thus
attired. They have not only ceased to feel free: they are conscious of
not looking their best. The incongruities are not grotesque enough to
be amusing; they are merely ugly and painful. What foreigner in that
time could have persuaded himself that the Japanese were not about to
lose forever their beautiful taste in dress?

Other photographs show still more curious results of foreign
influences. Here are samurai who refuse to adopt the Western fashions,
but who have compromised with the new mania by having their haori
and hakama made of the heaviest and costliest English broadcloth,--a
material utterly unsuited for such use both because of its weight and
its inelasticity. Already you can see that creases have been formed
which no hot iron can ever smooth away.

It is certainly an æsthetic relief to turn from these portraits to
those of a few conservatives who paid no attention to the mania at
all, and clung to their native warrior garb to the very last. Here are
nagabakama worn by horsemen,--and jin-baori, or war-coats, superbly
embroidered,--and kamishimo,--and shirts of mail,--and full suits of
armor. Here also are various forms of kaburi,--the strange but imposing
head-dresses anciently worn on state occasions by princes and by
samurai of high rank,--curious cobwebby structures, of some light black
material. In all this there is dignity, beauty, or the terrible grace
of war.

But everything is totally eclipsed by the last photograph of the
collection,--a handsome youth with the sinister, splendid gaze of a
falcon,--Matsudaira Buzen-no-Kami, in full magnificence of feudal war
costume. One hand bears the tasseled signal-wand of a leader of armies;
the other rests on the marvelous hilt of his sword. His helmet is a
blazing miracle; the steel upon his breast and shoulders was wrought
by armorers whose names are famed in all the museums of the West. The
cords of his war-coat are golden; and a wondrous garment of heavy
silk--all embroidered with billowings and dragonings of gold--flows
from his mailed waist to his feet, like a robe of fire. And this is no
dream;--this was!--I am gazing at a solar record of one real figure
of mediæval life! How the man flames in his steel and silk and gold,
like some splendid iridescent beetle,--but a War beetle, all horns and
mandibles and menace despite its dazzlings of jewel-color!


From the princely magnificence of feudal costume as worn by
Matsudaira--Buzen-no-Kami to the nondescript garments of the transition
period, how vast a fall! Certainly the native dress and the native
taste in dress might well have seemed doomed to pass away forever.
And when even the Imperial Court had temporarily adopted Parisian
modes, few foreigners could have doubted that the whole nation was
about to change garb. As a fact, there then began in the chief cities
that passing mania for Western fashions which was reflected in the
illustrated journals of Europe, and which created for a while the
impression that picturesque Japan had become transformed into a land
of "loud" tweeds, chimney-pot hats, and swallow-tail coats. But in
the capital itself to-day, among a thousand passers-by, you may see
scarcely one in Western dress, excepting, of course, the uniformed
soldiers, students, and police. The former mania really represented
a national experiment; and the results of that experiment were not
according to Western expectation. Japan has adopted various styles of
Western uniform,[1] with some excellent modifications, for her army,
her navy, and her police, simply because such attire is the best
possible for such callings. Foreign civil costume has been adopted by
the Japanese official world, but only to be worn during office-hours
in buildings of Western construction furnished with modern desks
and chairs.[2] At home even the general, the admiral, the judge,
the police-inspector, resume the national garb. And, finally, both
teachers and students in all but the primary schools are expected to
wear uniform, as the educational training is partly military. This
obligation, once stringent, has, however, been considerably relaxed; in
many schools the uniform being now obligatory only during drill-time
and upon certain ceremonial occasions. In all Kyūshū schools, except
the Normal, the students are free to wear their robes, straw sandals,
and enormous straw hats, when not on parade. But everywhere after
class-hours both teachers and students return at home to their kimono
and their girdles of white crape silk.

In brief, then, Japan has fairly resumed her national dress; and it
is to be hoped that she will never again abandon it. Not only is
it the sole attire perfectly adapted to her domestic habits; it is
also, perhaps, the most dignified, the most comfortable, and the most
healthy in the world. In some respects, indeed, the native fashions
have changed during the era of Meiji much more than in previous eras;
but this was largely due to the abolition of the military caste. As to
forms, the change has been slight; as to color, it has been great. The
fine taste of the race still appears in the beautiful tints and colors
and designs of those silken or cotton textures woven for apparel. But
the tints are paler, the colors are darker, than those worn by the
last generation;--the whole national costume, in all its varieties,
not excepting even the bright attire of children and of young girls,
is much more sober of tone than in feudal days. All the wondrous old
robes of dazzling colors have vanished from public life: you can study
them now only in the theatres, or in those marvelous picture-books
reflecting the fantastic and beautiful visions of the Japanese classic
drama, which preserves the Past.

[1] What seems to be the only serious mistake Japan has made in this
regard is the adoption of leather shoes for her infantry. The fine feet
of young men accustomed to the freedom of sandals, and ignorant of
the existence of what we call corns and bunions, are cruelly tortured
by this unnatural footgear. On long marches they are allowed to wear
sandals, however; and a change in footgear may yet be made. With
sandals, even a Japanese boy can easily walk his thirty miles a day,
almost unfatigued.

[2] A highly educated Japanese actually observed to a friend of mine:
"The truth is that we dislike Western dress. We have been temporarily
adopting it only as certain animals take particular colors in
particular seasons,--_for protective reasons_".


Indeed, to give up the native dress would involve the costly necessity
of changing nearly all the native habits of life. Western costume is
totally unsuited to a Japanese interior; and would render the national
squatting, or kneeling, posture extremely painful or difficult for
the wearer. The adoption of Western dress would thus necessitate the
adoption of Western domestic habits: the introduction into home of
chairs for resting, tables for eating, stoves or fireplaces for warmth
(since the warmth of the native robes alone renders these Western
comforts at present unnecessary), carpets for floors, glass for
windows,--in short, a host of luxuries which the people have always
been well able to do without. There is no furniture (according to the
European sense of the term) in a Japanese home,--no beds, tables, or
chairs. There may be one small book-case, or rather "book-box;" and
there are nearly always a pair of chests of drawers in some recess
hidden by sliding paper screens; but such articles are quite unlike any
Western furniture. As a rule, you will see nothing in a Japanese room
except a small brazier of bronze or porcelain, for smoking purposes; a
kneeling-mat, or cushion, according to season; and in the alcove only,
a picture or a flower vase. For thousands of years Japanese life has
been on the floor. Soft as a hair mattress and always immaculately
clean, the floor is at once the couch, the dining-table, and most often
the writing-table; although there exist tiny pretty writing-tables
about one foot high. And the vast economy of such habits of life
renders it highly improbable they will ever be abandoned, especially
while the pressure of population and the struggle of life continue to
increase. It should also be remembered that there exists no precedent
of a highly civilized people--such as were the Japanese before the
Western aggression upon them--abandoning ancestral habits out of a
mere spirit of imitation. Those who imagine the Japanese to be merely
imitative also imagine them to be savages. As a fact, they are not
imitative at all: they are assimilative and adoptive only, and that to
the degree of genius.

It is probable that careful study of Western experience with
fire-proof building-material will eventually result in some changes in
Japanese municipal architecture. Already, in some quarters of Tōkyō,
there are streets of brick houses. But these brick dwellings are matted
in the ancient manner; and their tenants follow the domestic habits
of their ancestors. The future architecture of brick or stone is not
likely to prove a mere copy of Western construction; it is almost
certain to develop new and purely Oriental features of rare interest.

Those who believe the Japanese dominated by some blind admiration for
everything Occidental might certainly expect at the open ports to find
less of anything purely Japanese (except curios) than in the interior:
less of Japanese architecture; less of national dress, manners, and
customs; less of native religion, and shrines, and temples. But exactly
the reverse is the fact. Foreign buildings there are, but, as a general
rule, in the foreign concessions only, and for the use of foreigners.
The usual exceptions are a fire-proof post-office, a custom-house, and
perhaps a few breweries and cotton-mills. But not only is Japanese
architecture excellently represented at all the foreign ports: it is
better represented there than in almost any city of the interior.
The edifices heighten, broaden, expand; but they remain even more
Oriental than elsewhere. At Kobe, at Nagasaki, at Ōsaka, at Yokohama,
everything that is essentially and solely Japanese (except moral
character) accentuates as if in defiance of foreign influence. Whoever
has looked over Kobe from some lofty roof or balcony will have seen
perhaps the best possible example of what I mean,--the height, the
queerness, the charm of a Japanese port in the nineteenth century,
the blue-gray sea of tile-slopes ridged and banded with white, the
cedar world of gables and galleries and architectural conceits and
whimsicalities indescribable. And nowhere outside of the Sacred City of
Kyōto, can you witness a native religious festival to better advantage
than in the open ports; while the multitude of shrines, of temples, of
torii, of all the sights and symbols of Shintō and of Buddhism, are
scarcely paralleled in any city of the interior except Nikko, and the
ancient capitals of Nara and Saikyō. No! the more one studies the
characteristics of the open ports, the more one feels that the genius
of the race will never voluntarily yield to Western influence, beyond
the rules of jiujutsu.


The expectation that Japan would speedily announce to the world
her adoption of Christianity was not so unreasonable as some other
expectations of former days. Yet it might well seem to have been more
so. There were no precedents upon which to build so large a hope. No
Oriental race has ever yet been converted to Christianity. Even under
British rule, the wonderful labors of the Catholic propaganda in
India have been brought to a standstill. In China, after centuries of
missions, the very name of Christianity is detested,--and not without
cause, since no small number of aggressions upon China have been
made in the name of Western religion. Nearer home, we have made even
less progress in our efforts to convert Oriental races. There is not
the ghost of a hope for the conversion of the Turks, the Arabs, the
Moors, or of any Islamic people; and the memory of the Society for the
Conversion of the Jews only serves to create a smile. But, even leaving
the Oriental races out of the question, we have no conversions whatever
to boast of. Never within modern history has Christendom been able to
force the acceptance of its dogmas upon a people able to maintain any
hope of national existence. The nominal[1] success of missions among
a few savage tribes, or the vanishing Maori races, only proves the
rule; and unless we accept the rather sinister declaration of Napoleon
that missionaries may have great political usefulness, it is not easy
to escape the conclusion that the whole work of the foreign mission
societies has been little more than a vast expenditure of energy, time,
and money, to no real purpose.

In this last decade of the nineteenth century, at all events, the
reason should be obvious. A religion means much more than mere dogma
about the supernatural: it is the synthesis of the whole ethical
experience of a race, the earliest foundation, in many cases, of its
wiser laws, and the record, as well as the result, of its social
evolution. It is thus essentially a part of the race-life, and
cannot possibly be replaced in any natural manner by the ethical and
social experience of a totally alien people,--that is to say, by a
totally alien religion. And no nation in a healthy social state can
voluntarily abandon the faith so profoundly identified with its ethical
life. A nation may reshape its dogmas: it may willingly even accept
another faith; but it will not voluntarily cast away its older belief,
even when the latter has lost all ethical or social usefulness. When
China accepted Buddhism, she gave up neither the moral codes of her
ancient sages, nor her primitive ancestor-worship; when Japan accepted
Buddhism, she did not forsake the Way of the Gods. Parallel examples
are yielded by the history of the religions of antique Europe. Only
religions the most tolerant can be voluntarily accepted by races
totally alien to those that evolved them; and even then only as an
addition to what they already possess, never as a substitute for it.
Wherefore the great success of the ancient Buddhist missions. Buddhism
was an absorbing but never a supplanting power: it incorporated alien
faiths into its colossal system, and gave them new interpretation.
But the religion of Islam and the religion of Christianity--Western
Christianity--have always been religions essentially intolerant,
incorporating nothing and zealous to supplant everything. To introduce
Christianity, especially into an Oriental country, necessitates the
destruction not only of the native faith but of the native social
systems as well. Now the lesson of history is that such wholesale
destruction, can be accomplished only by force, and, in the case of
a highly complex society, only by the most brutal force. And force,
the principal instrument of Christian propagandism in the past, is
still the force behind our missions. Only we have, or affect to have,
substituted money power and menace for the franker edge of the sword;
occasionally fulfilling the menace for commercial reasons in proof
of our Christian professions. We force missionaries upon China, for
example, under treaty clauses extorted by war; and pledge ourselves
to support them with gunboats, and to exact enormous indemnities for
the lives of such as get themselves killed. So China pays blood-money
at regular intervals, and is learning more and more each year to
understand the value of what we call Christianity. And the saying of
Emerson, that by some a truth can never be comprehended until its
light happens to fall upon a fact, has been recently illustrated by
some honest protests against the immorality of missionary aggressions
in China,--protests which would never have been listened to before it
was discovered that the mission troubles were likely to react against
purely commercial interests.

But in spite of the foregoing considerations there was really at one
time fair reason for believing the nominal conversion of Japan quite
possible. Men could not forget that after the Japanese Government had
been forced by political necessity to extirpate the wonderful Jesuit
missions of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the very word
Christian had become a term of hatred and scorn.[2]

But the world had changed since then; Christianity had changed; and
more than thirty different Christian sects were ready to compete for
the honor of converting Japan. Out of so large a variety of dogmas,
representing the principal shades both of orthodoxy and of heterodoxy,
Japan might certainly be able to choose a form of Christianity to her
own taste! And the conditions of the country were more propitious than
ever before for the introduction of some Western religion. The whole
social system had been disorganized to the very core; Buddhism had been
disestablished, and was tottering under the blow; Shintō appeared to be
incapable of resistance; the great military caste had been abolished;
the system of rule had been changed; the provinces had been shaken
by war; the Mikado, veiled for centuries, had shown himself to his
astonished people; the tumultuous flood of new ideas threatened to
sweep away all customs and to wreck all beliefs; and the preaching of
Christianity had been once more tolerated by law. Nor was this all.
In the hour of its prodigious efforts to reconstruct society, the
Government had actually considered the question of Christianity--just
as shrewdly and as impartially as it had studied the foreign
educational, military, and naval systems. A commission was instructed
to report upon the influence of Christianity in checking crime and vice
abroad. The result confirmed the impartial verdict of Kaempffer, in
the seventeenth century, upon the ethics of the Japanese: "They profess
a great respect and veneration for their Gods, and worship them in
various ways. And I think I may affirm that, in the practice of virtue,
in purity of life, and outward devotion, they far outdo the Christians."

In short, it was wisely decided that the foreign religion, besides its
inappropriateness to the conditions of Oriental society, had proved
itself less efficacious as an ethical influence in the West than
Buddhism had done in the East. Certainly, in the great jiujutsu there
could have been little to gain, but much to lose, by a patriarchal
society established on the principle of reciprocal duties, through the
adoption of the teaching that a man shall leave his father and his
mother and shall cleave unto his wife.[3]

The hope of making Japan Christian by Imperial edict has passed; and
with the reorganization of society, the chances of making Christianity,
by any means whatever, the national religion, grow less and less.
Probably missionaries must be tolerated for some time longer, in
spite of their interference in matters altogether outside of their
profession; but they will accomplish no moral good, and in the interim
they will be used by those whom they desire to use. In 1894 there were
in Japan some eight hundred Protestant, ninety-two Roman Catholic,
and three Greek Catholic missionaries; and the total expenditure for
all the foreign missions in Japan must represent not much less than
a million dollars a year,--probably represents more. As a result of
this huge disbursement, the various Protestant sects claim to have
made about 50,000 converts, and the Catholics an equal number; leaving
some thirty-nine million nine hundred thousand unconverted souls.
Conventions, and very malignant ones, forbid all unfavorable criticism
of mission reports; but in spite of them I must express my candid
opinion that even the above figures are not altogether trustworthy.
Concerning the Roman Catholic missions, it is worthy of note that they
profess with far smaller means to have done as much work as their
rivals; and that even their enemies acknowledge a certain solidity in
that work--which begins, rationally enough, with the children. But it
is difficult not to feel skeptical as to mission reports: when one
knows that among the lowest classes of Japanese there are numbers
ready to profess conversion for the sake of obtaining pecuniary
assistance or employment; when one knows that poor boys pretend to
become Christians for the sake of obtaining instruction in some foreign
language; when one hears constantly of young men, who, after professing
Christianity for a time, openly return to their ancient gods; when
one sees--immediately after the distribution by missionaries of
foreign contributions for public relief in time of flood, famine,
or earthquake--sudden announcement of hosts of conversions, one is
obliged to doubt not only the sincerity of the converted, but the
morality of the methods. Nevertheless, the expenditure of one million
dollars a year in Japan for one hundred years might produce very
large results, the nature of which may be readily conceived, though
scarcely admired; and the existing weakness of the native religions,
both in regard to educational and financial means of self-defense,
tempts aggression. Fortunately there now seems to be more than a mere
hope that the Imperial Government will come to the aid of Buddhism
in matters educational. On the other hand, there is at least a faint
possibility that Christendom, at no very distant era, may conclude that
her wealthiest missions are becoming transformed into enormous mutual
benefit societies.

[1] Nominal, because the simple fact is that the real object of
missions is impossible. This whole question has been very strongly
summed up in a few lines by Herbert Spencer:--

"Everywhere, indeed, the special theological bias, accompanying a
special set of doctrines, inevitably prejudges many sociological
questions. One who holds a creed to be absolutely true, and who by
implication holds the multitudinous other creeds to be absolutely false
in so far as they differ from his own, cannot entertain the supposition
that the value of a creed is relative. That each religious system is,
in its general characters, a natural part of the society in which it
is found, is an entirely alien conception, and indeed a repugnant
one. His system of dogmatic theology he thinks good for all places
and all times. He does not doubt that, when planted among a horde of
savages, it will be duly understood by them, duly appreciated by them,
and will work upon them results such as those he experiences from it.
Thus prepossessed, he passes over the proofs that a people is no more
capable of receiving a higher form of religion than it is capable of
receiving a higher form of government; and that inevitably along with
such religion, as with such government, there will go on a degradation
which presently reduces it to one differing but nominally from its
predecessor. In other words, his special theological bias blinds him to
an important class of sociological truths."

[2] The missionary work was begun by St. Francis Xavier, who landed at
Kagoshima in Kyūshū on the 15th of August, 1549. A curious fact is that
the word _Bateren,_ a corruption of the Portuguese or Spanish _padre_,
and so adopted into the language two centuries ago, still lingers
among the common people in some provinces as a synonym for "wicked
magician." Another curious fact worth mentioning is that a particular
kind of bamboo screen--from behind which a person can see all that goes
on outside the house without being himself seen--is still called a
_Kirishitan_ (Christian).

Griffis explains the larger success of the Jesuit missions of the
sixteenth century partly by the resemblance between the outer forms of
Roman Catholicism and the outer forms of Buddhism. This shrewd judgment
has been confirmed by the researches of Ernest Satow (see _Transactions
of the Asiatic Society of Japan_, vol. ii. part 2), who has published
facsimiles of some documents proving that the grant to the foreign
missionaries by the Lord of Yamaguchi was made that they might "_preach
the law of Buddha,_"--the new religion being at first taken for a
higher form of Buddhism. But those who have read the old Jesuit letters
from Japan, or even the more familiar compilation of Charlevoix,
must recognize that the success of the missions could not be thus
entirely explained. It presents us with psychological phenomena of a
very remarkable order,--phenomena perhaps never again to be repeated
in the history of religion, and analogous to those strange forms of
emotionalism classed by Hecker as contagious (see his _Epidemics of
the Middle Ages_). The old Jesuits understood the deeper emotional
character of the Japanese infinitely better than any modern missionary
society: they studied with marvelous keenness all the springs of the
race-life, and knew how to operate them. Where they failed, our modern
Evangelical propagandists need not hope to succeed. Still, even in
the most flourishing period of the Jesuit missions, only six hundred
thousand converts were claimed.

[3] A recent French critic declared that the comparatively small number
of public charities and benevolent institutions in Japan proved the
race deficient in humanity! Now the truth is that in Old Japan the
principle of mutual benevolence rendered such institutions unnecessary.
And another truth is that the vast number of such institutions in the
West testifies much more strongly to the inhumanity than to the charity
of our own civilization.


The idea that Japan would throw open her interior to foreign industrial
enterprise, soon after the beginning of Meiji, proved as fallacious
as the dream of her sudden conversion to Christianity. The country
remained, and still remains, practically closed against foreign
settlement. The Government itself had never seemed inclined to pursue
a conservative policy, and had made various attempts to bring about
such a revision of treaties as would have made Japan a new field for
large investments of Western capital Events, however, proved that the
national course was not to be controlled by statecraft only, but was to
be directed by something much less liable to error,--the Race-Instinct.

The world's greatest philosopher, writing in 1867, uttered this
judgment: "Of the way in which disintegrations are liable to be set up
in a society that has evolved to the limit of its type, and reached
a state of moving equilibrium, a good illustration is furnished
by Japan. The finished fabric into which its people had organized
themselves maintained an almost constant state so long as it was
preserved from fresh external forces. But as soon as it received
an impact from European civilization,--partly by armed aggression,
partly by commercial impulse, partly by the influence of ideas,--this
fabric began to fall to pieces. There is now in progress a political
dissolution. Probably a political reorganization will follow; but,
be this as it may, the change thus far produced by outer action is
a change towards dissolution,--a change from integrated motions to
disintegrated motions."[1]

The political reorganization suggested by Mr. Spencer not only
followed rapidly, but seemed more than likely to prove all that could
be desired, providing the new formative process were not seriously
and suddenly interfered with. Whether it would be interfered with by
treaty revision, however, appeared a very doubtful question. While
some Japanese politicians worked earnestly for the removal of every
obstacle to foreign settlement in the interior, others felt that such
settlement would mean a fresh introduction into the yet unstable social
organism of disturbing elements sure to produce new disintegrations.
The argument of the former was that by the advocated revision of
existing treaties the revenue of the Empire could be much increased,
and that the probable number of foreign settlers would be quite small.
But conservative thinkers considered that the real danger of opening
the country to foreigners was not the danger of the influx of numbers;
and on this point the Race-Instinct agreed with them. It comprehended
the peril only in a vague way, but in a way that touched the truth.

One side of that truth ought to be familiar to Americans,--the
Occidental side. The Occidental has discovered that, under any
conditions of fair play, he cannot compete with the Oriental in the
struggle for life: he has fully confessed the fact, both in Australia
and in the United States, by the passage of laws to protect himself
against Asiatic emigration. For outrages upon Chinese or Japanese
immigrants he has nevertheless offered a host of absurd "moral
reasons." The only true reason can be formulated in six words: _The
Oriental can underlive the Occidental._ Now in Japan the other face
of the question was formulated thus: _The Occidental can overlive
the Oriental[2] under certain favorable conditions_. One condition
would be a temperate climate; the other, and the more important,
that, in addition to full rights of competition, the Occidental
should have power for aggression. Whether he _would_ use such power
was not a common-sense question: the real question was, _could_ he
use it? And this answered in the affirmative, all discussion as to
the nature of his possible future policy of aggrandizement--whether
industrial, financial, political, or all three in one--were pure waste
of time. It was enough to know that he might eventually find ways
and means to master, if not to supplant, the native race; crushing
opposition, paralyzing competition by enormous combinations of capital,
monopolizing resources, and raising the standard of living above the
native capacity. Elsewhere various weaker races had vanished or were
vanishing under Anglo-Saxon domination. And in a country so poor as
Japan, who could give assurance that the mere admission of foreign
capital did not constitute a national danger? Doubtless Japan would
never have to fear conquest by any single Western power: she could
hold her own, on her own soil, against any one foreign nation. Neither
would she have to face the danger of invasion by a combination of
military powers: the mutual jealousies of the Occident would render
impossible any attack for the mere purpose of territorial acquisition.
But she might reasonably fear that, by prematurely opening her
interior to foreign settlement, she would condemn herself to the fate
of Hawaii,--that her land would pass into alien ownership, that her
politics would be regulated by foreign influence, that her independence
would become merely nominal, that her ancient empire would eventually
become transformed into a sort of cosmopolitan industrial republic.

Such were the ideas fiercely discussed by opposite parties until
the eve of the war with China. Meanwhile the Government had been
engaged upon difficult negotiations. To open the country in the face
of the anti-foreign reaction seemed in the highest degree dangerous;
yet to have the treaties revised without opening the country seemed
impossible. It was evident that the steady pressure of the Western
powers upon Japan was to be maintained unless their hostile combination
could be broken either by diplomacy or by force. The new treaty
with England, devised by the shrewdness of Aoki, met the dilemma.
By this treaty the country is to be opened; but British subjects
cannot own land. They can even hold land only on leases terminating,
according to Japanese law, _ipso facto_ with the death of the lessor.
No coasting-trade is permitted them--not even to some of the old
treaty ports; and all other trade is to be heavily taxed. The foreign
concessions are to revert to Japan; British settlers pass under
Japanese jurisdiction; England, in fact, loses everything, and Japan
gains all by this treaty.

The first publication of the articles stupefied the English merchants,
who declared themselves betrayed by the mother-country,--legally tied
hand and foot and delivered into Oriental bondage. Some declared
their resolve to leave the country before the treaty should be put in
force. Certainly Japan may congratulate herself upon her diplomacy.
The country is, indeed, to be opened; but the conditions have been
made such as not only to deter foreign capital seeking investment, but
as even to drive existing capital away. Should similar conditions be
obtained from other powers, Japan will have much more than regained all
that she lost by former treaties contrived to her disadvantage. The
Aoki document surely represents the highest possible feat of jiujutsu
in diplomacy.

But no one can well predict what may occur before this or any other
new treaty be put into operation. It is still uncertain whether Japan
will ultimately win all her ends by jiujutsu, although never in history
did any race display such courage and such genius in facing colossal
odds. Within the memory of men not yet old, Japan has developed her
military power to a par with that of more than one country of Europe;
industrially she is fast becoming a competitor of Europe in the markets
of the East; educationally she has placed herself also in the front
rank of progress, having established a system of schools less costly
but scarcely less efficient than those of any Western country. And she
has done this in spite of being steadily robbed each year by unjust
treaties, in spite of enormous losses by floods and earthquakes,
in spite of political troubles at home, in spite of the efforts of
foreign proselytizers to sap the national spirit, and in spite of the
extraordinary poverty of her people.

[1] _First Principles_, 2d Ed., § 178.

[2] That is, of course, the Japanese. I do not believe that under
any circumstances the Occidentals could overlive the Chinese,--no
matter what might be the numerical disproportion. Even the Japanese
acknowledge their incapacity to compete with the Chinese; and one of
the best arguments against the unreserved opening of the country is the
danger of Chinese immigration.


Should Japan fail in her glorious purpose, her misfortune will
certainly not be owing to any lack of national spirit. That quality she
possesses in a degree without existing modern parallel,--in a degree
that so trite a word as "patriotism" is utterly powerless to represent.
However psychologists may theorize on the absence or the limitations of
personal individuality among the Japanese, there can be no question at
all that, as a nation, Japan possesses an individuality much stronger
than our own. Indeed we may doubt whether Western civilization has not
cultivated the qualities of the individual even to the destruction of
national feeling.

On the topic of duty the entire people has but one mind. Any schoolboy
will say to you, if questioned about this subject: "The duty of every
Japanese to our Emperor is to help to make our country strong and
wealthy, and to help to defend and preserve our national independence."
All know the danger. All are morally and physically trained to meet
it. Every public school gives its students a preparatory course of
military discipline; every town has its _bataillons scolaires_. Even
the children too young to be regularly drilled are daily taught to
sing in chorus the ancient songs of loyalty and the modern songs of
war. And new patriot songs are composed at regular intervals, and
introduced by Government approval into the schools and the camps. It
is quite an experience to hear four hundred students chanting one of
these at the school in which I teach. The young men are all in uniform
on such occasions, and marshaled in military rank. The commanding
officer gives the order to "mark time," and all the feet begin to beat
the ground together, with a sound as of a drum-roll. Then the leader
sings a verse, and the students repeat it with surprising spirit,
throwing a peculiar emphasis always _on the last syllable_ of each
line, so that the vocal effect is like a crash of musketry. It is a
very Oriental, but also a very impressive manner of chanting: you can
hear the fierce heart of Old Japan beating through every Word. But
still more impressive is the same kind of singing by the soldiery.
And at this very moment, while writing these lines, I hear from the
ancient castle of Kumamoto, like a pealing of thunder, the evening song
of its garrison of eight thousand men, mingled with the long, sweet,
melancholy calling of a hundred bugles.[1]

The Government never relaxes its efforts to keep aglow the old sense of
loyalty and love of country. New festivals have lately been established
to this noble end; and the old ones are celebrated with increasing
fervor each succeeding year. Always on the Emperor's birthday, His
Imperial Majesty's photograph is solemnly saluted in all the public
schools and public offices of the Empire, with appropriate songs
and ceremonies.[2] Occasionally some students, under missionary
instigation, refuse this simple tribute of loyalty and gratitude,
on the extraordinary ground that they are "Christians," and thus
get themselves ostracized by their comrades--sometimes to such an
extent that they find it unpleasant to remain in the school. Then
the missionaries write home to sectarian papers some story about the
persecution of Christians in Japan, "_for refusing to worship an Idol
of the Emperor_"![3] Such incidents are, of course, infrequent, and
serve only to indicate those methods by which the foreign evangelizers
manage to defeat the real purpose of their mission.

Probably their fanatical attacks, not only upon the native spirit,
the native religion, and the native code of ethics, but even
upon the native dress and customs, may partly account for some
recent extraordinary displays of national feeling by the Japanese
Christians themselves. Some have openly expressed their desire to
dispense altogether with the presence of foreign proselytizers,
and to create a new and peculiar Christianity, to be essentially
Japanese and essentially national in spirit. Others have gone much
further,--demanding that all mission schools, churches, and other
property, now held (to satisfy or evade law) in Japanese names, shall
be made over in fact as well as name to Japanese Christians, as a
proof of the purity of the motives professed. And in sundry cases
it has already been found necessary to surrender mission schools
altogether to native direction.

I spoke in a former paper of the splendid enthusiasm with which the
entire nation had seconded the educational efforts and purposes of the
Government.[4] Not less zeal and self-denial have been shown in aid
of the national measures of self-defense. The Emperor himself having
set the example, by devoting a large part of his private income to the
purchase of ships-of-war, no murmur was excited by the edict requiring
one tenth of all government salaries for the same purpose. Every
military or naval officer, every professor or teacher, and nearly every
employee of the Civil Service[5] thus contributes monthly to the naval
defense. Minister, peer, or member of Parliament, is no more exempt
than the humblest post-office clerk. Besides these contributions by
edict, to continue for six years, generous donations are voluntarily
made by rich land-owners, merchants, and hankers throughout the Empire.
For, in order to save herself, Japan must become strong quickly: the
outer pressure upon her is much too serious to admit of delay. Her
efforts are almost incredible, and their success is not improbable. But
the odds against her are vast; and she may--stumble. Will she stumble?
It is very hard to predict. But a future misfortune could scarcely
be the result of any weakening of the national spirit. It would be
far more likely to occur as a result of political mistakes,--of rash

[1] This was written in 1893.

[2] The ceremony of saluting His Majesty's picture is only a repetition
of the ceremony required on presentation at court. A bow; three steps
forward; a deeper how; three more steps forward, and a very low how. On
retiring from the Imperial presence, the visitor walks backward, bowing
again three times as before.

[3] This is an authentic text.

[4] See _Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan_.

[5] Letter-carriers and ordinary policemen are exempted. But the salary
of a policeman is only about six yen a month; that of a letter-carrier
much less.


It still remains to ask what is the likely fate of the old morality
in the midst of all this absorption, assimilation, and reaction. And
I think an answer is partly suggested in the following conversation
which I had recently with a student of the University. It is written
from memory, and is therefore not exactly verbatim, but has interest
as representing the thought of the new generation---witnesses of the
vanishing of the gods:--

"Sir, what was your opinion when you first came to this country, about
the Japanese? Please to be quite frank with me."

"The young Japanese of to-day?"


"Then you mean those who still follow the ancient customs, and maintain
the ancient forms of courtesy,--the delightful old men, like your
former Chinese teacher, who still represent the old samurai spirit?"

"Yes. Mr. A---- is an ideal samurai. I mean such as he."

"I thought them all that is good and noble. They seemed to me just like
their own gods."

"And do you still think so well of them?"

"Yes. And the more I see the Japanese of the new generation, the more I
admire the men of the old."

"We also admire them. But, as a foreigner, you must also have observed
their defects."

"What defects?"

"Defects in practical knowledge of the Western kind."

"But to judge the men of one civilization by the standard requirements
of another, which is totally different in organization, would be
unjust. It seems to me that the more perfectly a man represents his
own civilization, the more we must esteem him as a citizen, and as a
gentleman. And judged by their own standards, which were morally very
high, the old Japanese appear to me almost perfect men."

"In what respect?"

"In kindness, in courtesy, in heroism, in self-control, in power of
self-sacrifice, in filial piety, in simple faith, and in the capacity
to be contented with a little."

"But would such qualities be sufficient to assure practical success in
the struggle of Western life?"

"Not exactly; but some of them would assist."

"The qualities really necessary for practical success in Western life
are just those qualities wanting to the old Japanese--are they not?"

"I think so."

"And our old society cultivated those qualities of unselfishness,
and courtesy, and benevolence which you admire, at the sacrifice of
the individual. But Western society cultivates the individual by
unrestricted competition,--competition in the power of thinking and

"I think that is true."

"But in order that Japan be able to keep her place among nations, she
must adopt the industrial and commercial methods of the West. Her
future depends upon her industrial development; but there can be no
development if we continue to follow our ancient morals and manners."


"Not to be able to compete with the West means ruin; but to compete
with the West we must follow the methods of the West; and these are
quite contrary to the old morality."


"I do not think it can be doubted. To do any kind of business upon a
very large scale, men must not be checked by the idea that no advantage
should be sought which could injure the business of others. And on
the other hand, wherever there is no restraint on competition, men who
hesitate to compete because of mere kindliness of heart, must fail.
The law of the struggle is that the strong and active shall win, the
weak and the foolish and the indifferent lose. But our old morality
condemned such competition."

"That is true."

"Then, Sir, no matter how good the old morality, we cannot make any
great industrial progress, nor even preserve our national independence,
by following it. We must forsake our past. We must substitute law for

"But it is not a good substitute."

"It has been a good substitute in the West, if we can judge by the
material greatness and power of England. We must learn in Japan to be
moral by reason, instead of being moral by emotion. A knowledge of the
moral reason of law is itself a moral knowledge."

"For you, and those who study cosmic law, perhaps. But what of the
common people?"

"They will try to follow the old religion; they will continue to trust
in their gods. But life will, perhaps, become more difficult for them.
They were happy in the ancient days."

       *       *       *       *       *

The foregoing essay was written two years ago. Later political events
and the signing of new treaties obliged me to remodel it last year;
and now, while the proofs are passing through my hands, the events of
the war with China compel some further remarks. What none could have
predicted in 1893 the whole world recognizes in 1895 with astonishment
and with admiration. Japan has won in her jiujutsu. Her autonomy is
practically restored, her place among civilized nations seems to be
assured: she has passed forever out of Western tutelage. What neither
her arts nor her virtues could ever have gained for her, she has
obtained by the very first display of her new scientific powers of
aggression and destruction.

Not a little has been hastily said about long secret preparation
for the war made by Japan, and about the flimsiness of her pretexts
for entering upon it. I believe that the purposes of her military
preparations were never other than those indicated in the preceding
chapter. It was to recover her independence that Japan steadily
cultivated her military strength for twenty-five years. But
successive pulses of popular reaction against foreign influence
during that period--each stronger than the preceding--warned the
Government of the nation's growing consciousness of power and of its
ever-increasing irritation against the treaties. The reaction of
1893-94 took so menacing a form through the House of Representatives
that the dissolution of the Diet became an immediate necessity. But
even repeated parliamentary dissolutions could only have postponed
the issue. It has since been averted partly by the new treaties,
and partly by the sudden loosening of the Empire's military force
against China. Should it not be obvious that only the merciless
industrial and political pressure exercised by a combined Occident
against Japan really compelled this war,--as a manifestation of force
in the direction of least resistance? Happily that manifestation
has been effectual. Japan has proved herself able to hold her own
against the world. She has no wish to break her industrial relations
with the Occident unless further imposed upon; but with the military
revival of her Empire it is almost certain that the day of Occidental
influence upon her--whether direct or indirect--is definitely over.
Further anti-foreign reaction may be expected in the natural order of
things,--not necessarily either violent or unreasonable, but embodying
the fullest reassertion of national individuality. Some change even in
the form of government is not impossible, considering the questionable
results of experimentation with Constitutional Government made by a
people accustomed for untold centuries to autocratic rule. But the
fallacy of Sir Harry Parkes's prediction that Japan would become "a
South American republic" warns against ventures to anticipate the
future of this wonderful and enigmatic race.

It is true that the war is not yet over;--but the ultimate triumph of
Japan seems beyond doubt,--even allowing for the formidable chances of
a revolution in China. The world is already asking with some anxiety
what will come next? Perhaps the compulsion of the most peaceable and
most conservative of all nations, under both Japanese and Occidental
pressure, to really master our arts of war in self-defense. After that
perhaps a great military awakening of China, who would be quite likely,
under the same circumstances as made New Japan, to turn her arms _South
and West_. For possible ultimate consequences, consult Dr. Pearson's
recent book, _National Character_.

It is to be remembered that the art of jiujutsu was invented in China.
And the West has yet to reckon with China,--China, the ancient teacher
of Japan,--China, over whose changeless millions successive storms
of conquest have passed only as a wind over reeds. Under compulsion,
indeed, she may be forced, like Japan, to defend her integrity by
jiujutsu. But the end of that prodigious jiujutsu might have results
the most serious for the entire world. It might be reserved for China
to avenge all those aggressions, extortions, exterminations, of which
the colonizing West has been guilty in dealing with feebler races.

Already thinkers, summarizing the experience of the two great
colonizing nations,--thinkers not to be ignored, both French and
English,--have predicted that the earth will never be fully dominated
by the races of the West, and that the future belongs to the Orient.
Such, too, are the convictions of many who have learned by long sojourn
in the East to see beneath the surface of that strange humanity so
utterly removed from us in thought,--to comprehend the depth and force
of its tides of life,--to understand its immeasurable capacities of
assimilation,--to discern its powers of self-adaptation to almost
any environment between the arctic and antarctic circles. And in the
judgment of such observers nothing less than the extermination of a
race comprising more than one third of the world's population could now
assure us even of the future of our own civilization.

Perhaps, as has been recently averred by Dr. Pearson, the long history
of Western expansion and aggression is even now approaching its close.
Perhaps our civilization has girdled the earth only to force the study
of our arts of destruction and our arts of industrial competition upon
races much more inclined to use them against us than for us. Even to do
this we had to place most of the world under tribute,--so colossal were
the powers needed. Perhaps we could not have attempted less, because
the tremendous social machinery we have created, threatens, like the
Demon of the old legend, to devour us in the same hour that we can find
no more tasks for it.

A wondrous creation, indeed, this civilization of ours,--ever growing
higher out of an abyss of ever-deepening pain; but it seems also to
many not less monstrous than wonderful. That it may crumble suddenly in
a social earthquake has long been the evil dream of those who dwell in
its summits. That as a social structure it cannot endure, by reason of
its moral foundation, is the teaching of Oriental wisdom.

Certainly the results of its labors cannot pass away till man shall
have fully played out the drama of his existence upon this planet.
It has resurrected the past;--it has revived the languages of the
dead;--it has wrested countless priceless secrets from Nature;--it has
analyzed suns and vanquished space and time;--it has compelled the
invisible to become visible;--it has torn away all veils save the veil
of the Infinite;--it has founded ten thousand systems of knowledge;--it
has expanded the modern brain beyond the cubic capacity of the mediæval
skull;--it has evolved the most noble, even if it has also evolved
the most detestable, forms of individuality;--it has developed the
most exquisite sympathies and the loftiest emotions known to man, even
though it has developed likewise forms of selfishness and of suffering
impossible in other eras. Intellectually it has grown beyond the
altitude of the stars. That it must, in any event, bear to the future
a relation incomparably vaster than that of Greek civilization to the
past, is impossible to disbelieve.

But more and more each year it exemplifies the law that the greater
the complexity of an organism, the greater also its susceptibility to
fatal hurt Always, as its energies increase, is there evolved within
it a deeper, a keener, a more exquisitely ramified sensibility to
every shock or wound,--to every exterior force of change. Already the
mere results of a drought or a famine in the remotest parts of the
earth, the destruction of the smallest centre of supply, the exhaustion
of a mine, the least temporary stoppage of any commercial vein or
artery, the slightest pressure upon any industrial nerve, may produce
disintegrations that carry shocks of pain into every portion of the
enormous structure. And the wondrous capacity of that structure to
oppose exterior forces by corresponding changes within itself would
appear to be now endangered by internal changes of a totally different
character. Certainly our civilization is developing the individual more
and more. But is it not now developing him much as artificial heat
and colored light and chemical nutrition might develop a plant under
glass? Is it not rapidly evolving millions into purely special fitness
for conditions impossible to maintain,--of luxury without limit for
the few, of merciless servitude to steel and steam for the many? To
such doubts the reply has been given that social transformations will
supply the means of providing against perils, and of recuperating all
losses. That, for a time at least, social reforms will work miracles
is much more than a hope. But the ultimate problem of our future seems
to be one that no conceivable social change can happily solve,--not
even supposing possible the establishment of an absolutely perfect
communism,--because the fate of the higher races seems to depend upon
their true value in the future economy of Nature. To the query, "Are
we not the Superior Race?"--we may emphatically answer "Yes;" but this
affirmative will not satisfactorily answer a still more important
question, "Are we the fittest to survive?"

Wherein consists the fitness for survival? In the capacity of
self-adaptation to any and every environment;--in the instantaneous
ability to face the unforeseen;--in the inherent power to meet and to
master all opposing natural influences. And surely not in the mere
capacity to adapt ourselves to factitious environments of our own
invention, or to abnormal influences of our own manufacture,--but only
in the simple power to live. Now in this simple power of living, our
so-called higher races are immensely inferior to the races of the Far
East. Though the physical energies and the intellectual resources of
the Occidental exceed those of the Oriental, they can be maintained
only at an expense totally incommensurate with the racial advantage.
For the Oriental has proved his ability to study and to master the
results of our science upon a diet of rice, and on as simple a diet can
learn to manufacture and to utilize our most complicated inventions.
But the Occidental cannot even live except at a cost sufficient for
the maintenance of twenty Oriental lives. In our very superiority lies
the secret of our fatal weakness. Our physical machinery requires a
fuel too costly to pay for the running of it in a perfectly conceivable
future period of race-competition and pressure of population.

Before, and very probably since, the apparition of Man, various
races of huge and wonderful creatures, now extinct, lived on this
planet. They were not all exterminated by the attacks of natural
enemies: many seem to have perished simply by reason of the enormous
costliness of their structures at a time when the earth was forced to
become less prodigal of her gifts. Even so it may be that the Western
Races will perish--because of the cost of their existence. Having
accomplished their uttermost, they may vanish from the face of the
world,--supplanted by peoples better fitted for survival.

Just as we have exterminated feebler races by merely _overliving_
them,--by monopolizing and absorbing, almost without conscious
effort, everything necessary to their happiness,--so may we
ourselves be exterminated at last by races capable of underliving
us, of monopolizing all our necessities; races more patient, more
self-denying, more fertile, and much less expensive for Nature to
support. These would doubtless inherit our wisdom, adopt our more
useful inventions, continue the best of our industries,--perhaps
even perpetuate what is most worthy to endure in our sciences and
our arts. But they would scarcely regret our disappearance any more
than we ourselves regret the extinction of the dinotherium or the



Falling in love at first sight is less common in Japan than in the
West; partly because of the peculiar constitution of Eastern society,
and partly because much sorrow is prevented by early marriages which
parents arrange. Love suicides, on the other hand, are not infrequent;
but they have the particularity of being nearly always double.
Moreover, they must be considered, in the majority of instances, the
results of improper relationships. Still, there are honest and brave
exceptions; and these occur usually in country districts. The love
in such a tragedy may have evolved suddenly out of the most innocent
and natural boy-and-girl friendship, and may have a history dating
back to the childhood of the victims. But even then there remains a
very curious difference between a Western double suicide for love
and a Japanese jōshi. The Oriental suicide is not the result of a
blind, quick frenzy of pain. It is not only cool and methodical: it is
sacramental. It involves a marriage of which the certificate is death.
The twain pledge themselves to each other in the presence of the gods,
write their farewell letters, and die. No pledge can be more profoundly
sacred than this. And therefore, if it should happen that, by sudden
outside interference and by medical skill, one of the pair is snatched
from death, that one is bound by the most solemn obligation of love and
honor to cast away life at the first possible opportunity. Of course,
if both are saved, all may go well. But it were better to commit any
crime of violence punishable with half a hundred years of state prison
than to become known as a man who, after pledging his faith to die with
a girl, had left her to travel to the Meido alone. The woman who should
fail in her vow might be partially forgiven; but the man who survived a
jōshi through interference, and allowed himself to live on because his
purpose was once frustrated, would be regarded all his mortal days as a
perjurer, a murderer, a bestial coward, a disgrace to human nature. I
knew of one such case--but I would now rather try to tell the story of
an humble love affair which happened at a village in one of the eastern


The village stands on the bank of a broad but very shallow river, the
stony bed of which is completely covered with water only during the
rainy season. The river traverses an immense level of rice-fields,
open to the horizon north and south, but on the west walled in by a
range of blue peaks, and on the east by a chain of low wooded hills.
The village itself is separated from these hills only by half a
mile of rice-fields; and its principal cemetery, the adjunct of a
Buddhist temple dedicated to Kwannon-of-the-Eleven-Faces, is situated
upon a neighboring summit. As a distributing centre, the village
is not unimportant. Besides several hundred thatched dwellings of
the ordinary rustic style, it contains one whole street of thriving
two-story shops and inns with handsome tiled roofs. It possesses also
a very picturesque ujigami, or Shintō parish temple, dedicated to
the Sun-Goddess, and a pretty shrine, in a grove of mulberry-trees,
dedicated to the Deity of Silkworms.

There was born in this village, in the seventh year of Meiji, in the
house of one Uchida, a dyer, a boy called Tarō. His birthday happened
to be an aku-nichi, or unlucky day,--the seventh of the eighth month,
by the ancient Calendar of Moons. Therefore his parents, being
old-fashioned folk, feared and sorrowed. But sympathizing neighbors
tried to persuade them that everything was as it should be, because
the calendar had been changed by the Emperor's order, and according
to the new calendar the day was a kitsu-nichi, or lucky day. These
representations somewhat lessened the anxiety of the parents; but when
they took the child to the ujigami, they made the gods a gift of a very
large paper lantern, and besought earnestly that all harm should be
kept away from their boy. The kannushi, or priest, repeated the archaic
formulas required, and waved the sacred gohei above the little shaven
head, and prepared a small amulet to be suspended about the infant's
neck; after which the parents visited the temple of Kwannon on the
hill, and there also made offerings, and prayed to all the Buddhas to
protect their first-born.


When Tarō was six years old, his parents decided to send him to the new
elementary school which had been built at a short distance from the
village. Tarō's grandfather bought him some writing-brushes, paper, a
book, and a slate, and early one morning led him by the hand to the
school. Tarō felt very happy, because the slate and the other things
delighted him like so many new toys, and because everybody had told him
that the school was a pleasant place, where he would have plenty of
time to play. Moreover, his mother had promised to give him many cakes
when he should come home.

As soon as they reached the school,--a big two-story building with
glass windows,--a servant showed them into a large bare apartment, where
a serious-looking man was seated at a desk. Tarō's grandfather bowed
low to the serious-looking man, and addressed him as Sensei, and humbly
requested him to teach the little fellow kindly. The Sensei rose up,
and bowed in return, and spoke courteously to the old man. He also put
his hand on Tarō's head, and said nice things. But Taro became all at
once afraid. When his grandfather had bid him good-by, he grew still
more afraid, and would have liked to run away home; but the master took
him into a large, high, white room, full of girls and boys sitting on
benches, and showed him a bench, and told him to sit down. All the boys
and girls turned their heads to look at Tarō, and whispered to each
other, and laughed. Tarō thought they were laughing at him, and began
to feel very miserable. A big bell rang; and the master, who had taken
his place on a high platform at the other end of the room, ordered
silence in a tremendous way that terrified Tarō. All became quiet, and
the master began to speak. Tarō thought he spoke most dreadfully. He
did not say that school was a pleasant place: he told the pupils very
plainly that it was not a place for play, but for hard work. He told
them that study was painful, but that they must study in spite of the
pain and the difficulty. He told them about the rules which they must
obey, and about the punishments for disobedience or carelessness.
When they all became frightened and still, he changed his voice
altogether, and began to talk to them like a kind father,--promising
to love them just like his own little ones. Then he told them how the
school had been built by the august command of His Imperial Majesty,
that the boys and girls of the country might become wise men and good
women, and how dearly they should love their noble Emperor, and be
happy even to give their lives for his sake. Also he told them how they
should love their parents, and how hard their parents had to work for
the means of sending them to school, and how wicked and ungrateful it
would be to idle during study-hours. Then he began to call them each by
name, asking questions about what he had said.

Tarō had heard only a part of the master's discourse. His small mind
was almost entirely occupied by the fact that all the boys and girls
had looked at him and laughed when he had first entered the room. And
the mystery of it all was so painful to him that he could think of
little else, and was therefore quite unprepared when the master called
his name.

"Uchida Tarō, what do you like best in the world?"

Tarō started, stood up, and answered frankly,--


All the boys and girls again looked at him and laughed; and the master
asked reproachfully, "Uchida Tarō, do you like cake more than you like
your parents? Uchida Tarō, do you like cake better than your duty to
His Majesty our Emperor?"

Then Tarō knew that he had made some great mistake; and his face became
very hot, and all the children laughed, and he began to cry. This only
made them laugh still more; and they kept on laughing until the master
again enforced silence, and put a similar question to the next pupil.
Tarō kept his sleeve to his eyes, and sobbed.

The bell rang. The master told the children they would receive their
first writing-lesson during the next class-hour from another teacher,
but that they could first go out and play for a while. He then left the
room; and the boys and girls all ran out into the school-yard to play,
taking no notice whatever of Tarō. The child felt more astonished at
being thus ignored than he had felt before on finding himself an object
of general attention. Nobody except the master had yet spoken one word
to him; and now even the master seemed to have forgotten his existence.
He sat down again on his little bench, and cried and cried; trying all
the while not to make a noise, for fear the children would come back to
laugh at him.

Suddenly a hand was laid upon his shoulder: a sweet voice was speaking
to him; and turning his head, he found himself looking into the most
caressing pair of eyes he had ever seen,--the eyes of a little girl
about a year older than he.

"What is it?" she asked him tenderly.

Tarō sobbed and snuffled helplessly for a moment, before he could
answer: "I am very unhappy here. I want to go home."

"Why?" questioned the girl, slipping an arm about his neck.

"They all hate me; they will not speak to me or play with _me_."

"Oh no!" said the girl. "Nobody dislikes you at all. It is only because
you are a stranger. When I first went to school, last year, it was
just the same with me. You must not fret."

"But all the others are playing; and I must sit in here," protested

"Oh no, you must not. You must come and play with me. I will be your
playfellow. Come!"

Taro at once began to cry out loud. Self-pity and gratitude and the
delight of newfound sympathy filled his little heart so full that he
really could not help it. It was so nice to be petted for crying.

But the girl only laughed, and led him out of the room quickly, because
the little mother soul in her divined the whole situation. "Of course
you may cry, if you wish," she said; "but you must play, too!" And oh,
what a delightful play they played together!

But when school was over, and Tarō's grandfather came to take him home,
Tarō began to cry again, because it was necessary that he should bid
his little playmate good-by.

The grandfather laughed, and exclaimed, "Why, it is little
Yoshi,--Miyahara O-Yoshi! Yoshi can come along with us, and stop at
the house a while. It is on her way home."

At Tarō's house the playmates ate the promised cake together; and
O-Yoshi mischievously asked, mimicking the master's severity, "Uchida
Tarō, do you like cake better than me?"


O-Yoshi's father owned some neighboring rice-lands, and also kept a
shop in the village. Her mother, a samurai, adopted into the Miyahara
family at the time of the breaking up of the military caste, had
borne several children, of whom O-Yoshi, the last, was the only
survivor. While still a baby, O-Yoshi lost her mother. Miyahara was
past middle age; but he took another wife, the daughter of one of his
own farmers,--a young girl named Ito O-Tama. Though swarthy as new
copper, O-Tama was a remarkably handsome peasant girl, tall, strong,
and active; but the choice caused surprise, because O-Tama could
neither read nor write. The surprise changed to amusement when it was
discovered that almost from the time of entering the house she had
assumed and maintained absolute control. But the neighbors stopped
laughing at Miyahara's docility when they learned more about O-Tama.
She knew her husband's interests better than he, took charge of
everything, and managed his affairs with such tact that in less than
two years she had doubled his income. Evidently, Miyahara had got a
wife who was going to make him rich. As a step-mother she bore herself
rather kindly, even after the birth of her first boy. O-Yoshi was well
cared for, and regularly sent to school.

While the children were still going to school, a long-expected and
wonderful event took place. Strange tall men with red hair and
beards--foreigners from the West--came down into the valley with a
great multitude of Japanese laborers, and constructed a railroad.
It was carried along the base of the low hill range, beyond the
rice-fields and mulberry groves in the rear of the village; and almost
at the angle where it crossed the old road leading to the temple of
Kwannon, a small station-house was built; and the name of the village
was painted in Chinese characters upon a white signboard erected on a
platform. Later, a line of telegraph-poles was planted, parallel with
the railroad. And still later, trains came, and shrieked, and stopped,
and passed,--nearly shaking the Buddhas in the old cemetery off their
lotus-flowers of stone.

The children wondered at the strange, level, ash-strewn way, with its
double lines of iron shining away north and south into mystery; and
they were awe-struck by the trains that came roaring and screaming and
smoking, like storm-breathing dragons, making the ground quake as they
passed by. But this awe was succeeded by curious interest,--an interest
intensified by the explanations of one of their school-teachers, who
showed them, by drawings on the blackboard, how a locomotive engine was
made; and who taught them, also, the still more marvelous operation of
the telegraph, and told them how the new western capital and the sacred
city of Kyoto were to be united by rail and wire, so that the journey
between them might be accomplished in less than two days, and messages
sent from the one to the other in a few seconds.

Taro and O-Yoshi became very dear friends. They studied together,
played together, and visited each other's homes. But at the age of
eleven O-Yoshi was taken from school to assist her step-mother in the
household; and thereafter Tarō saw her but seldom. He finished his own
studies at fourteen, and began to learn his father's trade. Sorrows
came. After having given him a little brother, his mother died; and
in the same year, the kind old grandfather who had first taken him to
school followed her; and after these things the world seemed to him
much less bright than before. Nothing further changed his life till he
reached his seventeenth year. Occasionally he would visit the home of
the Miyahara, to talk with O-Yoshi. She had grown up into a slender,
pretty woman; but for him she was still only the merry playfellow of
happier days.


One soft spring day, Tarō found himself feeling very lonesome, and the
thought came to him that it would be pleasant to see O-Yoshi. Probably
there existed in his memory some constant relation between the sense of
lonesomeness in general and the experience of his first schoolday in
particular. At all events, something within him--perhaps that a dead
mother's love had made, or perhaps something belonging to other dead
people--wanted a little tenderness, and he felt sure of receiving the
tenderness from O-Yoshi. So he took his way to the little shop. As he
approached it, he heard her laugh, and it sounded wonderfully sweet.
Then he saw her serving an old peasant, who seemed to be quite pleased,
and was chatting garrulously. Tarō had to wait, and felt vexed that he
could not at once get O-Yoshi's talk all for himself; but it made him
a little happier even to be near her. He looked and looked at her, and
suddenly began to wonder why he had never before thought how pretty she
was. Yes, she was really pretty,--more pretty than any other girl in
the village. He kept on looking and wondering, and always she seemed
to be growing prettier. It was very strange; he could not understand
it. But O-Yoshi, for the first time, seemed to feel shy under that
earnest gaze, and blushed to her little ears. Then Tarō felt quite sure
that she was more beautiful than anybody else in the whole world, and
sweeter, and better, and that he wanted to tell her so; and all at
once he found himself angry with the old peasant for talking so much
to O-Yoshi, just as if she were a common person. In a few minutes the
universe had been quite changed for Taro, and he did not know it. He
only knew that since he last saw her O-Yoshi had become divine; and as
soon as the chance came, he told her all his foolish heart, and she
told him hers. And they wondered because their thoughts were so much
the same; and that was the beginning of great trouble.


The old peasant whom Tarō had once seen talking to O-Yoshi had not
visited the shop merely as a customer. In addition to his real calling
he was a professional nakōdo, or match-maker, and was at that very
time acting in the service of a wealthy rice dealer named Okazaki
Yaïchirō. Okazaki had seen O-Yoshi, had taken a fancy to her, and had
commissioned the nakōdo to find out everything possible about her, and
about the circumstances of her family.

Very much detested by the peasants, and even by his more immediate
neighbors in the village, was Okazaki Yaïchirō. He was an elderly man,
gross, hard-featured, with a loud, insolent manner. He was said to be
malignant. He was known to have speculated successfully in rice during
a period of famine, which the peasant considers a crime, and never
forgives. He was not a native of the ken, nor in any way related to its
people, but had come to the village eighteen years before, with his
wife and one child, from some western district. His wife had been dead
two years, and his only son, whom he was said to have treated cruelly,
had suddenly left him, and gone away, nobody knew whither. Other
unpleasant stories were told about him. One was that, in his native
western province, a furious mob had sacked his house and his godowns,
and obliged him to fly for his life. Another was that, on his wedding
night, he had been compelled to give a banquet to the god Jizō.

It is still customary in some provinces, on the occasion of the
marriage of a very unpopular farmer, to make the bridegroom feast
Jizō. A band of sturdy young men force their way into the house,
carrying with them a stone image of the divinity, borrowed from the
highway or from some neighboring cemetery. A large crowd follows them.
They deposit the image in the guest-room, and they demand that ample
offerings of food and of saké be made to it at once. This means, of
course, a big feast for themselves, and it is more than dangerous to
refuse. All the uninvited guests must be served till they can neither
eat nor drink any more. The obligation to give such a feast is not only
a public rebuke: it is also a lasting public disgrace.

In his old age, Okazaki wished to treat himself to the luxury of
a young and pretty wife; but in spite of his wealth he found this
wish less easy to gratify than he had expected. Various families had
checkmated his proposals at once by stipulating impossible conditions.
The Headman of the village had answered, less politely, that he would
sooner give his daughter to an oni (demon). And the rice dealer would
probably have found himself obliged to seek for a wife in some other
district, if he had not happened, after these failures, to notice
O-Yoshi. The girl much more than pleased him; and he thought he might
be able to obtain her by making certain offers to her people, whom he
supposed to be poor. Accordingly, he tried, through the nakōdo, to open
negotiations with the Miyahara family.

O-Yoshi's peasant step-mother, though entirely uneducated, was
very much the reverse of a simple woman. She had never loved her
step-daughter, but was much too intelligent to be cruel to her without
reason. Moreover, O-Yoshi was far from being in her way. O-Yoshi was
a faithful worker, obedient, sweet-tempered, and very useful in the
house. But the same cool shrewdness that discerned O-Yoshi's merits
also estimated the girl's value in the marriage market. Okazaki never
suspected that he was going to deal with his natural superior in
cunning. O-Tama knew a great deal of his history. She knew the extent
of his wealth. She was aware of his unsuccessful attempts to obtain a
wife from various families, both within and without the village. She
suspected that O-Yoshi's beauty might have aroused a real passion,
and she knew that an old man's passion might be taken advantage of in
a large number of cases. O-Yoshi was not wonderfully beautiful, but
she was a really pretty and graceful girl, with very winning ways; and
to get another like her, Okazaki would have to travel far. Should he
refuse to pay well for the privilege of obtaining such a wife, O-Tama
knew of younger men who would not hesitate to be generous. He might
have O-Yoshi, but never upon easy terms. After the repulse of his first
advances, his conduct would betray him. Should he prove to be really
enamored, he could be forced to do more than any other resident of
the district could possibly afford. It was therefore highly important
to discover the real strength of his inclination, and to keep the
whole matter, in the mean time, from the knowledge of O-Yoshi. As the
reputation of the nakōdo depended on professional silence, there was no
likelihood of his betraying the secret.

The policy of the Miyahara family was settled in a consultation between
O-Yoshi's father and her step-mother. Old Miyahara would have scarcely
presumed, in any event, to oppose his wife's plans; but she took the
precaution of persuading him, first of all, that such a marriage ought
to be in many ways to his daughter's interest. She discussed with him
the possible financial advantages of the union. She represented that
there were, indeed, unpleasant risks, but that these could be provided
against by making Okazaki agree to certain preliminary settlements.
Then she taught her husband his rôle. Pending negotiations, the visits
of Tarō were to be encouraged. The liking of the pair for each other
was a mere cobweb of sentiment that could be brushed out of existence
at the required moment; and meantime it was to be made use of. That
Okazaki should hear of a likely young rival might hasten desirable

It was for these reasons that, when Tarō's father first proposed
for O-Yoshi in his son's name, the suit was neither accepted nor
discouraged. The only immediate objection offered was that O-Yoshi was
one year older than Taro, and that such a marriage would be contrary to
custom,--which was quite true. Still, the objection was a weak one, and
had been selected because of its apparent unimportance.

Okazaki's first overtures were at the same time received in suck a
manner as to convey the impression that their sincerity was suspected.
The Miyahara refused to understand the nakōdo at all. They remained
astonishingly obtuse even to the plainest assurances, until Okazaki
found it politic to shape what he thought a tempting offer. Old
Miyahara then declared that he would leave the matter in his wife's
hands, and abide by her decision.

O-Tama decided by instantly rejecting the proposal, with every
appearance of scornful astonishment. She said unpleasant things. There
was once a man who wanted to get a beautiful wife very cheap. At last
he found a beautiful woman who said she ate only two grains of rice
every day. So he married her; and every day she put into her mouth only
two grains of rice; and he was happy. But one night, on returning from
a journey, he watched her secretly through a hole in the roof, and saw
her eating monstrously,--devouring mountains of rice and fish, and
putting all the food into a hole in the top of her head under her hair.
Then he knew that he had married the Yama-Omba.

O-Tama waited a month for the results of her rebuff,--waited very
confidently, knowing how the imagined value of something wished for
can be increased by the increase of the difficulty of getting it. And,
as she expected, the nakōdo at last reappeared. This time Okazaki
approached the matter less condescendingly than before; adding to his
first offer, and even volunteering seductive promises. Then she knew
she was going to have him in her power. Her plan of campaign was not
complicated, but it was founded upon a deep instinctive knowledge of
the uglier side of human nature; and she felt sure of success. Promises
were for fools; legal contracts involving conditions were traps for the
simple. Okazaki should yield up no small portion of his property before
obtaining O-Yoshi.


Taro's father earnestly desired his son's marriage with O-Yoshi,
and had tried to bring it about in the usual way. He was surprised
at not being able to get any definite answer from the Miyahara. He
was a plain, simple man; but he had the intuition of sympathetic
natures, and the unusually gracious manner of O-Tama, whom he had
always disliked, made him suspect that he had nothing to hope. He
thought it best to tell his suspicions to Tarō, with the result that
the lad fretted himself into a fever. But O-Yoshi's step-mother had no
intention of reducing Taro to despair at so early a stage of her plot.
She sent kindly worded messages to the house during his illness, and a
letter from O-Yoshi, which had the desired effect of reviving all his
hopes. After his sickness, he was graciously received by the Miyahara,
and allowed to talk to O-Yoshi in the shop. Nothing, however, was said
about his father's visit.

The lovers had also frequent chances to meet at the ujigami court,
whither O-Yoshi often went with her step-mother's last baby. Even among
the crowd of nurse-girls, children, and young mothers, they could
exchange a few words without fear of gossip. Their hopes received no
further serious check for a month, when O-Taina pleasantly proposed to
Tarō's father an impossible pecuniary arrangement. She had lifted a
corner of her mask, because Okazaki was struggling wildly in the net
she had spread for him, and by the violence of the struggles she knew
the end was not far off. O-Yoshi was still ignorant of what was going
on; but she had reason to fear that she would never be given to Tarō.
She was becoming thinner and paler.

Tarō one morning took his child-brother with him to the temple court,
in the hope of an opportunity to chat with O-Yoshi. They met; and he
told her that he was feeling afraid. He had found that the little
wooden amulet which his mother had put about his neck when he was a
child had been broken within the silken cover.

"That is not bad luck," said O-Yoshi. "It is only a sign that the
august gods have been guarding you. There has been sickness in the
village; and you caught the fever, but you got well. The holy charm
shielded you: that is why it was broken. Tell the kannushi to-day: he
will give you another."

Because they were very unhappy, and had never done harm to anybody,
they began to reason about the justice of the universe.

Tarō said: "Perhaps in the former life we hated each other. Perhaps
I was unkind to you, or you to me. And this is our punishment. The
priests say so."

O-Yoshi made answer with something of her old playfulness: "I was a man
then, and you were a woman. I loved you very, very much; but you were
very unkind to me. I remember it all quite well."

"You are not a Bosatsu," returned Taro, smiling despite his sorrow; "so
you cannot remember anything. It is only in the first of the ten states
of Bosatsu that we begin to remember."

"How do you know I am not a Bosatsu?"

"You are a woman. A woman cannot be a Bosatsu."

"But is not Kwan-ze-on Bosatsu a woman?"

"Well, that is true. But a Bosatsu cannot love anything except the kyō."

"Did not Shaka have a wife and a son? Did he not love them?"

"Yes; but you know he had to leave them."

"That was very bad, even if Shaka did it. But I don't believe all those
stories. And would you leave me, if you could get me?"

So they theorized and argued, and even laughed betimes: it was so
pleasant to be together. But suddenly the girl became serious again,
and said:--

"Listen! Last night I saw a dream. I saw a strange river, and the sea.
I was standing, I thought, beside the river, very near to where it
flowed into the sea. And I was afraid, very much afraid, and did not
know why. Then I looked, and saw there was no water in the river, no
water in the sea, but only the bones of the Buddhas. But they were all
moving, just like water.

"Then again I thought I was at home, and that you had given me a
beautiful gift-silk for a kimono, and that the kimono had been made.
And I put it on. And then I wondered, because at first it had seemed of
many colors, but now it was all white; and I had foolishly folded it
upon me as the robes of the dead are folded, to the left. Then I went
to the homes of all my kinsfolk to say good-by; and I told them I was
going to the Meido. And they all asked me why; and I could not answer."

"That is good," responded Tarō; "it is very lucky to dream of the
dead. Perhaps it is a sign we shall soon be husband and wife." This
time the girl did not reply; neither did she smile.

Tarō was silent a minute; then he added: "If you think it was not a
good dream, Yoshi, whisper it all to the nanten plant in the garden:
then it will not come true."

But on the evening of the same day Taro's father was notified that
Miyahara O-Yoshi was to become the wife of Okazaki Yaïchirō.


O-Tama was really a very clever woman. She had never made any serious
mistakes. She was one of those excellently organized beings who
succeed in life by the perfect ease with which they exploit inferior
natures. The full experience of her peasant ancestry in patience, in
cunning, in crafty perception, in rapid foresight, in hard economy,
was concentrated into a perfect machinery within her unlettered brain.
That machinery worked faultlessly in the environment which had called
it into existence, and upon the particular human material with which it
was adapted to deal,--the nature of the peasant. But there was another
nature which O-Tama understood less well, because there was nothing in
her ancestral experience to elucidate it. She was a strong disbeliever
in all the old ideas about character distinctions between samurai and
heimin. She considered there had never been any differences between
the military and the agricultural classes, except such differences
of rank as laws and customs had established; and these had been bad.
Laws and customs, she thought, had resulted in making all people
of the former samurai class more or less helpless and foolish; and
secretly she despised all shizoku. By their incapacity for hard work
and their absolute ignorance of business methods, she had seen them
reduced from wealth to misery. She had seen the pension bonds given
them by the new government pass from their hands into the clutches of
cunning speculators of the most vulgar class. She despised weakness;
she despised incapacity; and she deemed the commonest vegetable
seller a much superior being to the ex-Karō obliged in his old age to
beg assistance from those who had formerly cast off their footgear
and bowed their heads to the mud whenever he passed by. She did not
consider it an advantage for O-Yoshi to have had a samurai mother: she
attributed the girl's delicacy to that cause, and thought her descent
a misfortune. She had clearly read in O-Yoshi's character all that
could be read by one not of a superior caste; among other facts, that
nothing would be gained by needless harshness to the child, and the
implied quality was not one that she disliked. But there were other
qualities in O-Yoshi that she had never clearly perceived,--a profound
though well-controlled sensitiveness to moral wrong, an unconquerable
self-respect, and a latent reserve of will power that could triumph
over any physical pain. And thus it happened that the behavior of
O-Yoshi, when told she would have to become the wife of Okazaki, duped
her step-mother, who was prepared to encounter a revolt. She was

At first the girl turned white as death. But in another moment she
blushed, smiled, bowed down, and agreeably astonished the Miyahara
by announcing, in the formal language of filial piety, her readiness
to obey the will of her parents in all things. There was no further
appearance even of secret dissatisfaction in her manner; and O-Tama was
so pleased that she took her into confidence, and told her something of
the comedy of the negotiations, and the full extent of the sacrifices
which Okazaki had been compelled to make. Furthermore, in addition to
such trite consolations as are always offered to a young girl betrothed
without her own consent to an old man, O-Tama gave her some really
priceless advice how to manage Okazaki. Tarō's name was not even once
mentioned. For the advice O-Yoshi dutifully thanked her step-mother,
with graceful prostrations. It was certainly admirable advice. Almost
any intelligent peasant girl, fully instructed by such a teacher as
O-Tama, might have been able to support existence with Okazaki. But
O-Yoshi was only half a peasant girl. Her first sudden pallor and her
subsequent crimson flush, after the announcement of the fate reserved
for her, were caused by two emotional sensations of which O-Tama was
far from suspecting the nature. Both represented much more complex
and rapid thinking than O-Tama had ever done in all her calculating

The first was a shock of horror accompanying the full recognition
of the absolute moral insensibility of her step-mother, the utter
hopelessness of any protest, the virtual sale of her person to that
hideous old man for the sole motive of unnecessary gain, the cruelty
and the shame of the transaction. But almost as quickly there rushed
to her consciousness an equally complete sense of the need of courage
and strength to face the worst, and of subtlety to cope with strong
cunning. It was then she smiled. And as she smiled, her young will
became steel, of the sort that severs iron without turning edge. She
knew at once exactly what to do,--her samurai blood told her that; and
she plotted only to gain the time and the chance. And she felt already
so sure of triumph that she had to make a strong effort not to laugh
aloud. The light in her eyes completely deceived O-Tama, who detected
only a manifestation of satisfied feeling, and imagined the feeling due
to a sudden perception of advantages to be gained by a rich marriage.

It was the fifteenth day of the ninth month; and the wedding was to be
celebrated upon the sixth of the tenth month. But three days later,
O-Tama, rising at dawn, found that her step-daughter had disappeared
during the night. Tarō Uchida had not been seen by his father since the
afternoon of the previous day. But letters from both were received a
few hours afterwards.


The early morning train from Kyōto was in; the little station was full
of hurry and noise,--clattering of geta, humming of converse, and
fragmentary cries of village boys selling cakes and luncheons: "_Kwashi
yoros--!_" "_Sushi yoros--!_" "_Bentō yoros--!_" Five minutes, and the
geta clatter, and the banging of carriage doors, and the shrilling of
the boys stopped, as a whistle blew and the train jolted and moved.
It rumbled out, puffed away slowly northward, and the little station
emptied itself. The policeman on duty at the wicket banged it to, and
began to walk up and down the sanded platform, surveying the silent

Autumn had come,--the Period of Great Light. The sun glow had suddenly
become whiter, and shadows sharper, and all outlines clear as edges
of splintered glass. The mosses, long parched out of visibility by
the summer heat, had revived in wonderful patches and bands of bright
soft green over all shaded bare spaces of the black volcanic soil;
from every group of pine-trees vibrated the shrill wheeze of the
tsuku-tsuku-bōshi; and above all the little ditches and canals was a
silent flickering of tiny lightnings,--zigzag soundless flashings of
emerald and rose and azure-of-steel,--the shooting of dragon-flies.

Now, it may have been due to the extraordinary clearness of the morning
air that the policeman was able to perceive, far up the track, looking
north, something which caused him to start, to shade his eyes with his
hand, and then to look at the clock. But, as a rule, the black eye of
a Japanese policeman, like the eye of a poised kite, seldom fails to
perceive the least unusual happening within the whole limit of its
vision. I remember that once, in far-away Oki, wishing, without being
myself observed, to watch a mask-dance in the street before my inn,
I poked a small hole through a paper window of the second story, and
peered at the performance. Down the street stalked a policeman, in
snowy uniform and havelock; for it was midsummer. He did not appear
even to see the dancers or the crowd through which he walked without so
much as turning his head to either side. Then he suddenly halted, and
fixed his gaze exactly on the hole in my shōji; for at that hole he had
seen an eye which he had instantly decided, by reason of its shape, to
be a foreign eye. Then he entered the inn, and asked questions about my
passport, which had already been examined.

What the policeman at the village station observed, and afterwards
reported, was that, more than half a mile north of the station, two
persons had reached the railroad track by crossing the rice-fields,
apparently after leaving a farmhouse considerably to the northwest of
the village. One of them, a woman, he judged by the color of her robe
and girdle to be very young. The early express train from Tōkyō was
then due in a few minutes, and its advancing smoke could be perceived
from the station platform. The two persons began to run quickly along
the track upon which the train was coming. They ran on out of sight
round a curve.

Those two persons were Tarō and O-Yoshi. They ran quickly, partly to
escape the observation of that very policeman, and partly so as to meet
the Tōkyō express as far from the station as possible. After passing
the curve, however, they stopped running, and walked, for they could
see the smoke coming. As soon as they could see the train itself, they
stepped off the track, so as not to alarm the engineer, and waited,
hand in hand. Another minute, and the low roar rushed to their ears,
and they knew it was time. They stepped back to the track again,
turned, wound their arms about each other, and lay down cheek to cheek,
very softly and quickly, straight across the inside rail, already
ringing like an anvil to the vibration of the hurrying pressure.

The boy smiled. The girl, tightening her arms about his neck, spoke in
his ear:--

"For the time of two lives, and of three, I am your wife; you are my
husband, Tarō Sama."

Tarō said nothing, because almost at the same instant, notwithstanding
frantic attempts to halt a fast train without airbrakes in a distance
of little more than a hundred yards, the wheels passed through
both,--cutting evenly, like enormous shears.


The village people now put bamboo cups full of flowers upon the single
gravestone of the united pair, and burn incense-sticks, and repeat
prayers. This is not orthodox at all, because Buddhism forbids jōshi,
and the cemetery is a Buddhist one; but there is religion in it,--a
religion worthy of profound respect.

You ask why and how the people pray to those dead. Well, all do not
pray to them, but lovers do, especially unhappy ones. Other folk only
decorate the tomb and repeat pious texts. But lovers pray there for
supernatural sympathy and help. I was myself obliged to ask why, and I
was answered simply, "_Because those dead suffered so much._"

So that the idea which prompts such prayers would seem to be at once
more ancient and more modern than Buddhism,--the Idea of the eternal
Religion of Suffering.



Then, when thou leavest the body, and comest into the free ether, thou
shalt be a God undying, everlasting;--neither shall death have any more
dominion over thee.--The Golden Verses.


The streets were full of white uniforms, and the calling of bugles,
and the rumbling of artillery. The armies of Japan, for the third
time in history, had subdued Korea; and the Imperial declaration of
war against China had been published by the city journals, printed on
crimson paper. All the military powers of the Empire were in motion.
The first line of reserves had been summoned, and troops were pouring
into Kumamoto. Thousands were billeted upon the citizens; for barracks
and inns and temples could not shelter the passing host. And still
there was no room, though special trains were carrying regiments north,
as fast as possible, to the transports waiting at Shimonoseki.

Nevertheless, considering the immensity of the movement, the city was
astonishingly quiet. The troops were silent and gentle as Japanese boys
in school hours; there was no swaggering, no reckless gayety. Buddhist
priests were addressing squadrons in the courts of the temples; and a
great ceremony had already been performed in the parade-ground by the
Abbot of the Shin-shū sect, who had come from Kyōto for the occasion.
Thousands had been placed by him under the protection of Amida; the
laying of a naked razor-blade on each young head, symbolizing voluntary
renunciation of life's vanities, was the soldier's consecration.
Everywhere, at the shrines of the older faith, prayers were being
offered up by priests and people to the shades of heroes who fought
and died for their Emperor in ancient days, and to the gods of armies.
At the Shintō temple of Fujisaki sacred charms were being distributed
to the men. But the most imposing rites were those at Honmyōji, the
far-famed monastery of the Nichiren sect, where for three hundred years
have reposed the ashes of Kato Kiyomasa, conqueror of Korea, enemy
of the Jesuits, protector of the Buddhists;--Honmyōji, where the
pilgrim chant of the sacred invocation, Namu-myō-hō-renge-kyō, sounds
like the roar of surf;--Honmyōji, where you may buy wonderful little
mamori in the shape of tiny Buddhist shrines, each holding a minuscule
image of the deified warrior. In the great central temple, and in all
the lesser temples that line the long approach, special services were
sung, and special prayers were addressed to the spirit of the hero for
ghostly aid. The armor, and helmet, and sword of Kiyomasa, preserved in
the main shrine for three centuries, were no longer to be seen. Some
declared that they had been sent to Korea, to stimulate the heroism
of the army. But others told a story of echoing hoofs in the temple
court by night, and the passing of a mighty Shadow, risen from the dust
of his sleep, to lead the armies of the Son of Heaven once more to
conquest. Doubtless even among the soldiers, brave, simple lads from
the country, many believed,--just as the men of Athens believed in the
presence of Theseus at Marathon. All the more, perhaps, because to no
small number of the new recruits Kumamoto itself appeared a place of
marvels hallowed by traditions of the great captain, and its castle
a world's wonder, built by Kiyomasa after the plan of a stronghold
stormed in Chösen.

Amid all these preparations, the people remained singularly quiet.
From mere outward signs no stranger could have divined the general
feeling.[1] The public calm was characteristically Japanese; the race,
like the individual, becoming to all appearance the more self-contained
the more profoundly its emotions are called into play. The Emperor had
sent presents to his troops in Korea, and words of paternal affection;
and citizens, following the august example, were shipping away by every
steamer supplies of rice-wine, provisions, fruits, dainties, tobacco,
and gifts of all kinds. Those who could afford nothing costlier were
sending straw sandals. The entire nation was subscribing to the war
fund; and Kumamoto, though by no means wealthy, was doing all that both
poor and rich could help her do to prove her loyalty. The check of the
merchant mingled obscurely with the paper dollar of the artisan, the
laborer's dime, the coppers of the kurumaya, in the great fraternity
of unbidden self-denial. Even children gave; and their pathetic
little contributions were not refused, lest the universal impulse of
patriotism should be in any manner discouraged. But there were special
subscriptions also being collected in every street for the support
of the families of the troops of the reserves,--married men, engaged
mostly in humble callings, who had been obliged of a sudden to leave
their wives and little ones without the means to live. That means the
citizens voluntarily and solemnly pledged themselves to supply. One
could not doubt that the soldiers, with all this unselfish love behind
them, would perform even more than simple duty demanded.

And they did.

[1] This was written in Kumamoto during the fall of 1894. The
enthusiasm of the nation was concentrated and silent; but under that
exterior calm smouldered all the fierceness of the old feudal days.
The Government was obliged to decline the freely proffered services
of myriads of volunteers,--- chiefly swordsmen. Had a call for such
volunteers been made I am sure 100,000 men would have answered it
within a week. But the war spirit manifested itself in other ways
not less painful than extraordinary. Many killed themselves on being
refused the chance of military service; and I may cite at random a
few strange facts from the local press. The gendarme at Söul, ordered
to escort Minister Otori back to Japan, killed himself for chagrin at
not having been allowed to proceed instead to the field of battle.
An officer named Ishiyama, prevented by illness from joining his
regiment on the day of its departure for Korea, rose from his sick-bed,
and, after saluting a portrait of the Emperor, killed himself with
his sword. A soldier named Ikeda, at Ōsaka, having been told that
because of some breach of discipline he might not be permitted to go
to the front, shot himself. Captain Kani, of the "Mixed Brigade," was
prostrated by sickness during the attack made by his regiment on a fort
near Chinchow, and carried insensible to the hospital. Recovering a
week later, he went (November 28) to the spot where he had fallen, and
killed himself,--leaving this letter, translated by the _Japan Daily
Mail_: "It was here that illness compelled me to halt and to let my
men storm the fort without me. Never can I wipe out such a disgrace in
life. To clear my honor I die thus,--leaving this letter to speak for

A lieutenant in Tōkyō, finding none to take care of his little
motherless girl after his departure, killed her, and joined his
regiment before the facts were known. He afterwards sought death on the
field and found it, that he might join his child on her journey to the
Meido. This reminds one of the terrible spirit of feudal times. The
samurai, before going into a hopeless contest, sometimes killed his
wife and children the better to forget those three things no warrior
should remember on the battle-field,--namely, home, the dear ones, and
his own body. After that act of ferocious heroism the samurai was ready
for the shini-mono-gurui,--the hour of the "death-fury,"--giving and
taking no quarter.


Manyemon said there was a soldier at the entrance who wanted to see me.

"Oh, Manyemon, I hope they are not going to billet soldiers upon
us!--the house is too small! Please ask him what he wishes."

"I did," answered Manyemon; "he says he knows you."

I went to the door and looked at a fine young fellow in uniform, who
smiled and took off his cap as I came forward. I could not recognize
him. The smile was familiar, notwithstanding. Where could I have seen
it before?

"Teacher, have you really forgotten me?"

For another moment I stared at him, wondering: then he laughed gently,
and uttered his name,--

"Kosuga Asakichi."

How my heart leaped to him as I held out both hands! "Come in, come in!"
I cried.

"But how big and handsome you have grown! No wonder I did not know you."

He blushed like a girl, as he slipped off his shoes and unbuckled his
sword. I remembered that he used to blush the same way in class, both
when he made a mistake, and when he was praised. Evidently his heart
was still as fresh as then, when he was a shy boy of sixteen in the
school at Matsue. He had got permission to come to bid me good-by: the
regiment was to leave in the morning for Korea.

We dined together, and talked of old times,--of Izumo, of Kitzuki, of
many pleasant things. I tried in vain at first to make him drink a
little wine; not knowing that he had promised his mother never to drink
wine while he was in the army. Then I substituted coffee for the wine,
and coaxed him to tell me all about himself. He had returned to his
native place, after graduating, to help his people, wealthy farmers;
and he had found that his agricultural studies at school were of great
service to him. A year later, all the youths of the village who had
reached the age of nineteen, himself among the number, were summoned
to the Buddhist temple for examination as to bodily and educational
fitness for military service. He had passed as ichiban (first-class)
by the verdicts of the examining surgeon and of the recruiting-major
(_shōsa_), and had been drawn at the ensuing conscription. After
thirteen months' service he had been promoted to the rank of sergeant.
He liked the array. At first he had been stationed at Nagoya, then at
Tōkyō; but finding that his regiment was not to be sent to Korea, he
had petitioned with success for transfer to the Kumamoto division. "And
now I am so glad," he exclaimed, his face radiant with a soldier's
joy: "we go to-morrow!" Then he blushed again, as if ashamed of having
uttered his frank delight. I thought of Carlyle's deep saying, that
never pleasures, but only suffering and death are the lures that draw
true hearts. I thought also--what I could not say to any Japanese--that
the joy in the lad's eyes was like nothing I had ever seen before,
except the caress in the eyes of a lover on the morning of his bridal.

"Do you remember," I asked, "when you declared in the schoolroom that
you wished to die for His Majesty the Emperor?"

"Yes," he answered, laughing. "And the chance has come,--not for me
only, but for several of my class."

"Where are they?" I asked. "With you?"

"No; they were all in the Hiroshima division, and they are already
in Korea. Imaoka (you remember him, teacher: he was very tall), and
Nagasaki, and Ishihara,--they were all in the fight at Söng-Hwan. And
our drill-master, the lieutenant,--you remember him?"

"Lieutenant Fujii, yes. He had retired from the army."

"But he belonged to the reserves. He has also gone to Korea. He has had
another son born since you left Izumo."

"He had two little girls and one boy," I said, "when I was in Matsue."

"Yes: now he has two boys."

"Then his family must feel very anxious about him?"

"_He_ is not anxious," replied the lad. "To die in battle is very
honorable; and the Government will care for the families of those who
are killed. So our officers have no fear. Only--it is very sad to die
if one has no son."

"I cannot see why."

"Is it not so in the West?"

"On the contrary, we think it is very sad for the man to die who has

"But why?"

"Every good father must be anxious about the future of his children.
If he be taken suddenly away from them, they may have to suffer many

"It is not so in the families of our officers. The relations care well
for the child, and the Government gives a pension. So the father need
not be afraid. But to die is sorrowful for one who has no child."

"Do you mean sorrowful for the wife and the rest of the family?"

"No; I mean for the man himself, the husband."

"And how? Of what use can a son be to a dead man?"

"The son inherits. The son maintains the family name. The son makes the

"The offerings to the dead?"

"Yes. Do you now understand?"

"I understand the fact, not the feeling. Do military men still hold
these beliefs?"

"Certainly. Are there no such beliefs in the West?"

"Not now. The ancient Greeks and Romans had such beliefs. They thought
that the ancestral spirits dwelt in the home, received the offerings,
watched over the family. Why they thought so, we partly know; but
we cannot know exactly how they felt, because we cannot understand
feelings which we have never experienced, or which we have not
inherited. For the same reason, I cannot know the real feeling of a
Japanese in relation to the dead."

"Then you think that death is the end of everything?"

"That is not the explanation of my difficulty. Some feelings are
inherited,--perhaps also some ideas. Your feelings and your thoughts
about the dead, and the duty of the living to the dead, are totally
different from those of an Occidental. To us the idea of death is that
of a total separation, not only from the living, but from the world.
Does not Buddhism also tell of a long dark journey that the dead must

"The journey to the Meido,--yes. All must make that journey. But we
do not think of death as a total separation. We think of the dead as
still with us. We speak to them each day."

"I know that. What I do not know are the ideas behind the facts. If the
dead go to the Meido, why should offerings be made to ancestors in the
household shrines, and prayers be said to them as if they were really
present? Do not the common people thus confuse Buddhist teachings and
Shintō belief?"

"Perhaps many do. But even by those who are Buddhists only, the
offerings and the prayers to the dead are made in different places
at the same time,--in the parish temples, and also before the family

"But how can souls be thought of as being in the Meido, and also in
various other places at the same time? Even if the people believe the
soul to be multiple, that would not explain away the contradiction. For
the dead, according to Buddhist teaching, are judged."

"We think of the soul both as one and as many. We think of it as of one
person, but not as of a substance. We think of it as something that may
be in many places at once, like a moving of air."

"Or of electricity?" I suggested.


Evidently, to my young friend's mind the ideas of the Meido and of
the home-worship of the dead had never seemed irreconcilable; and
perhaps to any student of Buddhist philosophy the two faiths would not
appear to involve any serious contradictions. The Sutra of the Lotus
of the Good Law teaches that the Buddha state "is endless and without
limit,--immense as the element of ether." Of a Buddha who had long
entered into Nirvana it declares, "Even after his complete extinction,
he wanders through this whole world in all ten points of space." And
the same Sutra, after recounting the simultaneous apparition of all
the Buddhas who had ever been, makes the teacher proclaim, "_All these
you see are my proper bodies, by kotis of thousands, like the sands of
the Ganges: they have appeared that the law may be fulfilled._" But it
seemed to me obvious that, in the artless imagination of the common
people, no real accord could ever have been established between the
primitive conceptions of Shintō and the much more definite Buddhist
doctrine of a judgment of souls.

"Can you really think of death," I asked, "as life, as light?"

"Oh yes," was the smiling answer. "We think that after death we shall
still be with our families. We shall see our parents, our friends. We
shall remain in this world,--the light as now."

(There suddenly recurred to me, with new meaning, some words of a
student's composition regarding the future of a just man: _His soul
shall hover eternally in the universe._)

"And therefore," continued Asakichi, "one who has a son can die with a
cheerful mind."

"Because the son will make those offerings of food and drink without
which the spirit would suffer?" I queried.

"It is not only that. There are duties much more important than the
making of offerings. It is because every man needs some one to love him
after he is dead. Now you will understand."

"Only your words," I replied, "only the facts of the belief. The
feeling I do not understand. I cannot think that the love of the
living could make me happy after death. I cannot even imagine myself
conscious of any love after death. And you, you are going far away to
battle,--do you think it unfortunate that you have no son?"

"I? Oh no! I myself _am_ a son,--a younger son. My parents are still
alive and strong, and my brother is caring for them. If I am killed,
there will be many at home to love me,--brothers, sisters, and little
ones. It is different with us soldiers: we are nearly all very young."

"For how many years," I asked, "are the offerings made to the dead?"

"For one hundred years."

"Only for a hundred years?"

"Yes. Even in the Buddhist temples the prayers and the offerings are
made only for a hundred years."

"Then do the dead cease to care for remembrance in a hundred years? Or
do they fade out at last? Is there a dying of souls?"

"No, but after one hundred years they are no longer with us. Some say
they are born again; others say they become kami, and do reverence to
them as kami, and on certain days make offerings to them in the toko."

(Such were, I knew, the commonly accepted explanations, but I had heard
of beliefs strangely at variance with these. There are traditions that,
in families of exceeding virtue, the souls of ancestors took material
form, and remained sometimes visible through hundreds of years. A
sengaji pilgrim[1] of old days has left an account of two whom he said
he had seen in some remote part of the interior. They were small, dim
shapes, "dark like old bronze." They could not speak, but made little
moaning sounds, and they did not eat, but only inhaled the warm vapor
of the food daily set before them. Every year, their descendants said,
they became smaller and vaguer.)

"Do you think it is very strange that we should love the dead?"
Asakichi asked.

"No," I replied, "I think it is beautiful. But to me, as a Western
stranger, the custom seems not of to-day, but of a more ancient world.
The thoughts of the old Greeks about the dead must have been much like
those of the modern Japanese. The feelings of an Athenian soldier in
the age of Pericles were perhaps the same as yours in this era of
Meiji. And you have read at school how the Greeks sacrificed to the
dead, and how they paid honor to the spirits of brave men and patriots?"

"Yes. Some of their customs were very like our own. Those of us who
fall in battle against China will also be honored. They will be revered
as kami. Even our Emperor will honor them."

"But," I said, "to die so far away from the graves of one's fathers, in
a foreign land, would seem, even to Western people, a very sad thing."

"Oh no. There will be monuments set up to honor our dead in their own
native villages and towns, and the bodies of our soldiers will be
burned, and the ashes sent home to Japan. At least that will be done
whenever possible. It might be difficult after a great battle."

(A sudden memory of Homer surged back to me, with, a vision of that
antique plain where "the pyres of the dead burnt continually in

"And the spirits of the soldiers slain in this war," I asked,--"will
they not always be prayed to help the country in time of national

"Oh yes, always. We shall be loved and worshiped by all the people."

He said "we" quite naturally, like one already destined. After a little
pause he resinned:--

"The last year that I was at school we had a military excursion. We
marched to a shrine in the district of In, where the spirits of heroes
are worshiped. It is a beautiful and lonesome place, among hills; and
the temple is shadowed by very high trees. It is always dim and cool
and silent there. We drew up before the shrine in military order;
nobody spoke. Then the bugle sounded through the holy grove, like a
call to battle; and we all presented arms; and the tears came to my
eyes,--I do not know why. I looked at my comrades, and I saw they
felt as I did. Perhaps, because you are a foreigner, you will not
understand. But there is a little poem, that every Japanese knows,
which expresses the feeling very well. It was written long ago by the
great priest Saigyo Hōshi, who had been a warrior before becoming a
priest, and whose real name was Sato Norikyo:--

    "'_Nani go to no_
    _Owashimasu ka wa_
    _Shirane domo_
    _Arigata sa ni zo_
    _Namida kobururu._'"[2]

It was not the first time that I had heard such a confession. Many of
my students had not hesitated to speak of sentiments evoked by the
sacred traditions and the dim solemnity of the ancient shrines. Really
the experience of Asakichi was no more individual than might be a
single ripple in a fathomless sea. He had only uttered the ancestral
feeling of a race,--the vague but immeasurable emotion of Shintō.

We talked on till the soft summer darkness fell. Stars and the
electric lights of the citadel twinkled out together; bugles sang;
and from Kiyomasa's fortress rolled into the night a sound deep as a
thunder-peal, the chant of ten thousand men:--

    Nishi mo higashi mo
      Mina teki zo,
    Minami mo kita mo
      Mina teki zo:
    Yose-kura teki wa
      Shiranuhi no
    Tsukushi no hate no
      Satsuma gata.[3]

"You have learned that song, have you not?" I asked.

"Oh yes," said Asakichi. "Every soldier knows it."

It was the Kumamoto Rōjō, the Song of the Siege. We listened, and could
even catch some words in that mighty volume of sound:--

    Tenchi mo kuzuru
      Bakari nari,
    Tenchi wa kuzure
      Yama kawa wa
    Saicuru tameshi no
      Araba tote,
    Ugokanu mono wa
      Kimi ga mi yo.[4]

For a little while Asakichi sat listening, swaying his shoulders in
time to the strong rhythm of the chant; then, as one suddenly waking,
he laughed, and said:--

"Teacher, I must go! I do not know how to thank you enough, nor to tell
you how happy this day has been for me. But first,"--taking from his
breast a little envelope,--"please accept this. You asked me for a
photograph long ago: I brought it for a souvenir."

He rose, and buckled on his sword. I pressed his hand at the entrance.

"And what may I send you from Korea, teacher?" he asked.

"Only a letter," I said,--"after the next great victory."

"Surely, if I can hold a pen," he responded.

Then straightening up till he looked like a statue of bronze, he gave
me the formal military salute, and strode away in the dark.

I returned to the desolate guest-room and dreamed. I heard the thunder
of the soldiers' song. I listened to the roar of the trains, bearing
away so many young hearts, so much priceless loyalty, so much splendid
faith and love and valor, to the fever of Chinese rice-fields, to
gathering cyclones of death.

[1] A sengaji pilgrim is one who makes the pilgrimage to the thousand
famous temples of the Nichiren sect; a journey requiring many years to

[2] "What thing (cause) there may he, I cannot tell. But [whenever I
come in presence of the shrine] grateful tears overflow."

[3] This would be a free translation in nearly the same measure:--

    Oh! the land to south and north
      All is full of foes!
    Westward, eastward, looking forth,
      All is full of foes!
    None can well the number tell
      Of the hosts that pour
    From the strand of Satsuma,
      From Tsukushi's shore.


    What if Earth should sundered he?
      What if Heaven fall?
    What if mountain mix with sea?
      Brave hearts each and all,
    Know one thing shall still endure,
      Ruin cannot whelm,
    Everlasting, holy, pure,--
      This Imperial Realm.


The evening of the same day that we saw the name "Kosuga Asakichi" in
the long list published by the local newspaper, Manyemon decorated
and illuminated the alcove of the guest-room as for a sacred festival;
filling the vases with flowers, lighting several small lamps, and
kindling incense-rods in a little cup of bronze. When all was finished,
he called me. Approaching the recess, I saw the lad's photograph
within, set upright on a tiny dai; and before it was spread a miniature
feast of rice and fruits and cakes,--the old man's offering.

"Perhaps," ventured Manyemon, "it would please his spirit if the master
should be honorably willing to talk to him. He would understand the
master's English."

I did talk to him; and the portrait seemed to smile through the wreaths
of the incense. But that which I said was for him only, and the Gods.



A good sight indeed has met us to-day,--a good daybreak,--a beautiful
rising;--for we have seen the Perfectly Enlightened, who has crossed
the stream.--HEMAVATASUTTA.


The Jizō-Dō was not easy to find, being hidden away in a court behind
a street of small shops; and the entrance to the court itself--a very
narrow opening between two houses--being veiled at every puff of wind
by the fluttering sign-drapery of a dealer in second-hand clothing.

Because of the heat, the shōji of the little temple had been removed,
leaving the sanctuary open to view on three sides. I saw the usual
Buddhist furniture--service-bell, reading-desk, and scarlet lacquered
mokugyō, disposed upon the yellow matting. The altar supported a stone
Jizō, wearing a bib for the sake of child ghosts; and above the statue,
upon a long shelf, were smaller ages gilded and painted,--another
Jizō, aureoled from head to feet, a radiant Amida, a sweet-faced
Kwannon, and a grewsome figure of the Judge of Souls. Still higher
were suspended a confused multitude of votive offerings, including
two framed prints taken from American illustrated papers: a view of
the Philadelphia Exhibition, and a portrait of Adelaide Neilson in
the character of Juliet. In lieu of the usual flower vases before the
horizon there were jars of glass bearing the inscription,--"_Reine
Claude au jus; conservation garantie. Toussaint Cosnard: Bordeaux._"
And the box filled with incense-rods bore the legend: "_Rich in
flavor--Pinhead Cigarettes._" To the innocent folk who gave them,
and who could never hope in this world to make costlier gifts,
these _ex-voto_ seemed beautiful because strange; and in spite of
incongruities it seemed to me that the little temple did really look

A screen, with weird figures of Arhats creating dragons, masked the
further chamber; and the song of an unseen uguisu sweetened the hush
of the place. A red cat came from behind the screen to look at us,
and retired again, as if to convey a message. Presently appeared an
aged nun, who welcomed us and bade us enter; her smoothly shaven head
shining like a moon at every reverence. We doffed our footgear, and
followed her behind the screen, into a little room that opened upon a
garden; and we saw the old priest seated upon a cushion, and writing at
a very low table. He laid aside his brush to greet us; and we also took
our places on cushions before him. Very pleasant his face was to look
upon: all wrinkles written there by the ebb of life spake of that which
was good.

The nun brought us tea, and sweetmeats stamped with the Wheel of the
Law; the red cat curled itself up beside me; and the priest talked to
us. His voice was deep and gentle; there were bronze tones in it, like
the rich murmurings which follow each peal of a temple bell. We coaxed
him to tell us about himself. He was eighty-eight years of age, and his
eyes and ears were still as those of a young man; but he could not walk
because of chronic rheumatism. For twenty years he had been occupied in
writing a religious history of Japan, to be completed in three hundred
volumes; and he had already completed two hundred and thirty. The rest
he hoped to write during the coming year. I saw on a small book-shelf
behind him the imposing array of neatly bound MSS.

"But the plan upon which he works," said my student interpreter,
"is quite wrong. His history will never be published; it is full of
impossible stories--miracles and fairy-tales."

(I thought I should like to read the stories.)

"For one who has reached such an age," I said, "you seem very strong."

"The signs are that' I shall live some years longer," replied the old
man, "though I wish to live only long enough to finish my history.
Then, as I am helpless and cannot move about, I want to die so as to
get a new body. I suppose I must have committed some fault in a former
life, to be crippled as I am. But I am glad to feel that I am nearing
the Shore."

"He means the shore of the Sea of Death and Birth," says my
interpreter. "The ship whereby we cross, you know, is the Ship of the
Good Law; and the farthest shore is Nehan,--Nirvana."

"Are all our bodily weaknesses and misfortunes," I asked, "the results
of errors committed in other births?"

"That which we are," the old man answered, "is the consequence of
that which we have been. We say in Japan the consequence of mangō and
ingō,--the two classes of actions."

"Evil and good?" I queried.

"Greater and lesser. There are no perfect actions. Every act contains
both merit and demerit, just as even the best painting has defects and
excellences. But when the sum of good in any action exceeds the sum of
evil, just as in a good painting the merits outweigh the faults, then
the result is progress. And gradually by such progress will all evil be

"But how," I asked, "can the result of actions affect the physical
conditions? The child follows the way of his fathers, inherits their
strength or their weakness; yet not from them does he receive his

"The chain of causes and effects is not easy to explain in a few words.
To understand all you should study the Dai-jō or Greater Vehicle; also
the Shō-jō, or Lesser Vehicle. There you will learn that the world
itself exists only because of acts. Even as one learning to write,
at first writes only with great difficulty, but afterward, becoming
skillful, writes without knowledge of any effort, so the tendency of
acts continually repeated is to form habit. And such tendencies persist
far beyond this life."

"Can any man obtain the power to remember his former births?"

"That is very rare," the old man answered, shaking his head. "To have
such memory one should first become a Bosatsu [Bodhissattva]."

"Is it not possible to become a Bosatsu?"

"Not in this age. This is the Period of Corruption. First there was
the Period of True Doctrine, when life was long; and after it came the
Period of Images, during which men departed from the highest truth;
and now the world is degenerate. It is not now possible by good deeds
to become a Buddha, because the world is too corrupt and life is
too short. But devout persons may attain the Gokuraku [Paradise] by
virtue of merit, and by constantly repeating the Nembutsu; and in the
Gokuraku, they may be able to practice the true doctrine. For the days
are longer there, and life also is very long."

"I have read in our translations of the Sutras," I said, "that by
virtue of good deeds men may be reborn in happier and yet happier
conditions successively, each time obtaining more perfect faculties,
each time surrounded by higher joys. Riches are spoken of, and strength
and beauty, and graceful women, and all that people desire in this
temporary world. Wherefore I cannot help thinking that the way of
progress must continually grow more difficult the further one proceeds.
For if these texts be true, the more one succeeds in detaching one's
self from the things of the senses, the more powerful become the
temptations to return to them. So that the reward of virtue would seem
itself to be made an obstacle in the path."

"Not so!" replied the old man. "They, who by self-mastery reach such
conditions of temporary happiness, have gained spiritual force also,
and some knowledge of truth. Their strength to conquer themselves
increases more and more with every triumph, until they reach at
last that world of Apparitional Birth, in which the lower forms of
temptation have no existence."

The red cat stirred uneasily at a sound of geta, then went to the
entrance, followed by the nun. There were some visitors waiting; and
the priest begged us to excuse him a little while, that he might attend
to their spiritual wants. We made place quickly for them, and they came
in,--poor pleasant folk, who saluted us kindly: a mother bereaved,
desiring to have prayers said for the happiness of her little dead boy;
a young wife to obtain the pity of the Buddha for her ailing husband; a
father and daughter to seek divine help for somebody that had gone very
far away. The priest spoke caressingly to all, giving to the mother
some little prints of Jizō, giving a paper of blest rice to the wife,
and on behalf of the father and daughter, preparing some holy texts.
Involuntarily there came to me the idea of all the countless innocent
prayers thus being daily made in countless temples; the idea of all
the fears and hopes and heartaches of simple love; the idea of all
the humble sorrows unheard by any save the gods. The student began to
examine the old man's books, and I began to think of the unthinkable.

Life--life as unity, uncreated, without beginning,--of which we know
the luminous shadows only;--life forever striving against death, and
always conquered yet always surviving--what is it?--why is it? A myriad
times the universe is dissipated,--a myriad times again evolved; and
the same life vanishes with every vanishing, only to reappear in
another cycling. The Cosmos becomes a nebula, the nebula a Cosmos:
eternally the swarms of suns and worlds are born; eternally they die.
But after each tremendous integration the flaming spheres cool down and
ripen into life; and the life ripens into Thought. The ghost in each
one of us must have passed through the burning of a million suns,--must
survive the awful vanishing of countless future universes. May not
Memory somehow and somewhere also survive? Are we sure that in ways
and forms unknowable it does not? as infinite vision,--remembrance of
the Future in the Past? Perhaps in the Night-without-end, as in deeps
of Nirvana, dreams of all that has ever been, of all that can ever be,
are being perpetually dreamed.

The parishioners uttered their thanks, made their little offerings to
Jizō, and retired, saluting us as they went. We resumed our former
places beside the little writing-table, and the old man said:--

"It is the priest, perhaps, who among all men best knows what sorrow is
in the world. I have heard that in the countries of the West there is
also much suffering, although the Western nations are so rich."

"Yes," I made answer; "and I think that in Western countries there
is more unhappiness than in Japan. For the rich there are larger
pleasures, but for the poor greater pains. Our life is much more
difficult to live; and, perhaps for that reason, our thoughts are more
troubled by the mystery of the world."

The priest seemed interested, but said nothing. With the interpreter's
help, I continued:--

"There are three great questions by which the minds of many men in the
Western countries are perpetually tormented. These questions we call
'the Whence, the Whither, and the Why,' meaning, Whence Life? Whither
does it go? Why does it exist and suffer? Our highest Western Science
declares them riddles impossible to solve, yet confesses at the same
time that the heart of man can find no peace till they are solved.
All religions have attempted explanations; and all their explanations
are different. I have searched Buddhist books for answers to these
questions, and I found answers which seemed to me better than any
others. Still, they did not satisfy me, being incomplete. From your own
lips I hope to obtain some answers to the first and the third questions
at least. I do not ask for proof or for arguments of any kind: I ask
only to know doctrine. Was the beginning of all things in universal

To this question I really expected no definite answer, having, in the
Sutra called Sabbâsava, read about "those things which ought not to
be considered," and about the Six Absurd Notions, and the words of the
rebuke to such as debate within themselves: "_This is a being: whence
did it come? whither will it go?_" But the answer came, measured and
musical, like a chant:--

"All things considered as individual have come into being, through
forms innumerable of development and reproduction, out of the universal
Mind. Potentially within that mind they had existed from eternity.
But between that we call Mind and that we call Substance there is no
difference of essence. What we name Substance is only the sum of our
own sensations and perceptions; and these themselves are but phenomena
of Mind. Of Substance-in-itself we have not any knowledge. We know
nothing beyond the phases of our mind, and these phases are wrought in
it by outer influence or power, to which we give the name Substance.
But Substance and Mind in themselves are only two phases of one
infinite Entity."

"There are Western teachers also," I said, "who teach a like doctrine;
and the most profound researches of our modern science seem to
demonstrate that what we term Matter has no absolute existence. But
concerning that infinite Entity of which you speak, is there any
Buddhist teaching as to when and how It first produced those two forms
which in name we still distinguish as Mind and Substance?"

"Buddhism," the old priest answered, "does not teach, as other
religions do, that things have been produced by creation. The one and
only Reality is the universal Mind, called in Japanese Shinnyo,[1]--the
Reality-in-its-very-self, infinite and eternal. Now this infinite
Mind within Itself beheld Its own sentiency. And, even as one who in
hallucination assumes apparitions to be actualities, so the universal
Entity took for external existences that which It beheld only within
Itself. We call this illusion Mu-myo,[2] signifying 'without radiance,'
or 'void of illumination.'"

"The word has been translated by some Western scholars," I observed,
"as Ignorance.'"

"So I have been told. But the idea conveyed by the word we use is not
the idea expressed by the term 'ignorance.' It is rather the idea of
enlightenment misdirected, or of illusion."

"And what has been taught," I asked, concerning the time of that

"The time of the primal illusion is said to be Mu-shi, 'beyond
beginning,' in the incalculable past. From Shinnyo emanated the first
distinction of the Self and the Not-Self, whence have arisen all
individual existences, whether of Spirit or of Substance, and all those
passions and desires, likewise, which influence the conditions of being
through countless births. Thus the universe is the emanation of the
infinite Entity; yet it cannot be said that we are the creations of
that Entity. The original Self of each of us is the universal Mind; and
within each of us the universal Self exists, together with the effects
of the primal illusion. And this state of the original Self enwrapped
in the results of illusion, we call Nyōrai-zō,[3] or the Womb of the
Buddha. The end for which we should all strive is simply our return to
the infinite Original Self, which is the essence of Buddha."

"There is another subject of doubt," I said, "about which I much
desire to know the teaching of Buddhism. Our Western science declares
that the visible universe has been evolved and dissolved successively
innumerable times during the infinite past, and must also vanish and
reappear through countless cycles in the infinite future. In our
translations of the ancient Indian philosophy, and of the sacred texts
of the Buddhists, the same thing is declared. But is it not also
taught that there shall come at last for all things a time of ultimate
vanishing and of perpetual rest?"

He answered: "The Shō-jō indeed teaches that the universe has appeared
and disappeared over and over again, times beyond reckoning in the
past, and that it must continue to be alternately dissolved and
reformed through unimaginable eternities to come. But we are also
taught that all things shall enter finally and forever, into the state
of Nehan."[4]

An irreverent yet irrepressible fancy suddenly arose within me. I could
not help thinking of Absolute Rest as expressed by the scientific
formula of two hundred and seventy-four degrees (centigrade) below
zero, or 461°.2 Fahrenheit. But I only said:--

"For the Western mind it is difficult to think of absolute rest as a
condition of bliss. Does the Buddhist idea of Nehan include the idea of
infinite stillness, of universal immobility?"

"No," replied the priest. "Nehan is the condition of Absolute
Self-sufficiency, the state of all-knowing, all-perceiving. We do
not suppose it a state of total inaction, but the supreme condition
of freedom from all restraint. It is true that we cannot imagine a
bodiless condition of perception or knowledge; because all our ideas
and sensations belong to the condition of the body. But we believe that
Nehan is the state of infinite vision and infinite wisdom and infinite
spiritual peace."

The red cat leaped upon the priest's knees, and there curled itself
into a posture of lazy comfort. The old man caressed it; and my
companion observed, with a little laugh:--

"See how fat it is! Perhaps it may have performed some good deeds in a
previous life."

"Do the conditions of animals," I asked, "also depend upon merit and
demerit in previous existences?"

The priest answered me seriously:--

"All conditions of being depend upon conditions preëxisting, and Life
is One. To be born into the world of men is fortunate; there we have
some enlightenment, and chances of gaining merit. But the state of
an animal is a state of obscurity of mind, deserving our pity and
benevolence. No animal can be considered truly fortunate; yet even in
the life of animals there are countless differences of condition."

A little silence followed,--softly broken by the purring of the cat. I
looked at the picture of Adelaide Neilson, just visible above the top
of the screen; and I thought of Juliet, and wondered what the priest
would say about Shakespeare's wondrous story of passion and sorrow,
were I able to relate it worthily in Japanese. Then suddenly, like an
answer to that wonder, came a memory of the two hundred and fifteenth
verse of the Dhammapada: "_From love comes grief; from grief comes
fear: one who is free from love knows neither grief nor fear._"

"Does Buddhism," I asked, "teach that all sexual love ought to be
suppressed? Is such love of necessity a hindrance to enlightenment?
I know that Buddhist priests, excepting those of the Shin-shū, are
forbidden to marry; but I do not know what is the teaching concerning
celibacy and marriage among the laity."

"Marriage may be either a hindrance or a help on the Path," the old
man said, "according to conditions. All depends upon conditions. If
the love of wife and child should cause a man to become too much
attached to the temporary advantages of this unhappy world, then such
love would be a hindrance. But, on the contrary, if the love of wife
and child should enable a man to live more purely and more unselfishly
than he could do in a state of celibacy, then marriage would be a very
great help to him in the Perfect Way. Many are the dangers of marriage
for the wise; but for those of little understanding the dangers of
celibacy are greater. And even the illusion of passion may sometimes
lead noble natures to the higher knowledge. There is a story of this.
Dai-Mokukenren,[5] whom the people call Mokuren, was a disciple of
Shaka.[6] He was a very comely man; and a girl became enamored of him.
As he belonged already to the Order, she despaired of being ever able
to have him for her husband; and she grieved in secret. But at last she
found courage to go to the Lord Buddha, and to speak all her heart to
him. Even while she was speaking, he cast a deep sleep upon her; and
she dreamed she was the happy wife of Mokuren. Years of contentment
seemed to pass in her dream; and after them years of joy and sorrow
mingled; and suddenly her husband was taken away from her by death.
Then she knew such sorrow that she wondered how she could live; and
she awoke in that pain, and saw the Buddha smile. And he said to her:
'Little Sister, thou hast seen. Choose now as thou wilt,--either to
be the bride of Mokuren, or to seek the higher Way upon which he
has entered.' Then she cut off her hair, and became a nun, and in
after-time attained to the condition of one never to be reborn."

For a moment it seemed to me that the story did not show how love's
illusion could lead to self-conquest; that the girl's conversion
was only the direct result of painful knowledge forced upon her,
not a consequence of her love. But presently I reflected that the
vision accorded her could have produced no high result in a selfish
or unworthy soul. I thought of disadvantages unspeakable which the
possession of foreknowledge might involve in the present order of life;
and felt it was a blessed thing for most of us that the future shaped
itself behind a veil. Then I dreamed that the power to lift that veil
might be evolved or won, just so soon as such a faculty should be of
real benefit to men, but not before; and I asked:--

"Can the power to see the Future be obtained through enlightenment?"

The priest answered:--

"Yes. When we reach that state of enlightenment in which we obtain
the Roku-Jindzū, or Six Mysterious Faculties, then we can see the
Future as well as the Past. Such power comes at the same time as the
power of remembering former births. But to attain to that condition of
knowledge, in the present age of the world, is very difficult."

My companion made me a stealthy sign that it was time to say good-by.
We had stayed rather long--even by the measure of Japanese etiquette,
which is generous to a fault in these matters. I thanked the master of
the temple for his kindness in replying to my fantastic questions, and
ventured to add:--

"There are a hundred other things about which I should like to ask you,
but to-day I have taken too much of your time. May I come again?"

"It will make me very happy," he said. "Be pleased to come again as
soon as you desire. I hope you will not fail to ask about all things
which are still obscure to you. It is by earnest inquiry that truth may
be known and illusions dispelled. Nay, come often--that I may speak to
you of the Shō-jō. And these I pray you to accept."

He gave me two little packages. One contained white sand--sand from
the holy temple of Zenkōji, whither all good souls make pilgrimage
after death. The other contained a very small white stone, said to be a
shari, or relic of the body of a Buddha.

I hoped to visit the kind old man many times again. But a school
contract took me out of the city and over the mountains; and I saw him
no more.

[1] Sanscrit: _Bhûta-Tathatâ._

[2] Sanscrit: _Avidya._

[3] Sanscrit: Tathâgata-gharba. The term "Tathâgata" (Japanese Nyōrai)
is the highest title of a Buddha. It signifies "One whose coming is
like the coming of his predecessors."

[4] Nirvana.

[5] Sanscrit: _Mahâmaudgalyâyana._

[6] The Japanese rendering of Sakyamuni.


Five years, all spent far away from treaty ports, slowly flitted by
before I saw the Jizō-Dō again. Many changes had taken place both
without and within me during that time. The beautiful illusion of
Japan, the almost weird charm that comes with one's first entrance into
her magical atmosphere, had, indeed, stayed with me very long, but had
totally faded out at last. I had learned to see the Far East without
its glamour. And I had mourned not a little for the sensations of the

But one day they all came back to me--just for a moment. I was in
Yokohama, gazing once more from the Bluff at the divine spectre
of Fuji haunting the April morning. In that enormous spring blaze
of blue light, the feeling of my first Japanese day returned, the
feeling of my first delighted wonder in the radiance of an unknown
fairy-world full of beautiful riddles,--an Elf-land having a special
sun and a tinted atmosphere of its own. Again I knew myself steeped
in a dream of luminous peace; again all visible things assumed for
me a delicious immateriality. Again the Orient heaven--flecked only
with thinnest white ghosts of cloud, all shadowless as Souls entering
into Nirvana--became for me the very sky of Buddha; and the colors of
the morning seemed deepening into those of the traditional hour of
His birth, when trees long dead burst into blossom, and winds were
perfumed, and all creatures living found themselves possessed of loving
hearts. The air seemed pregnant with even such a vague sweetness, as if
the Teacher were about to come again; and all faces passing seemed to
smile with premonition of the celestial advent.

Then the ghostliness went away, and things looked earthly; and I
thought of all the illusions I had known, and of the illusions of the
world as Life, and of the universe itself as illusion. Whereupon the
name Mu-myo returned to memory; and I was moved immediately to seek the
ancient thinker of the Jizō-Dō.

The quarter had been much changed: old houses had vanished, and new
ones dovetailed wondrously together. I discovered the court at last
nevertheless, and saw the little temple just as I had remembered it.
Before the entrance women were standing; and a young priest I had
never seen before was playing with a baby; and the small brown hands
of the infant were stroking his shaven face. It was a kindly face, and
intelligent, with very long eyes.

"Five years ago," I said to him, in clumsy Japanese, "I visited this
temple. In that time there was an aged bonsan here."

The young bonsan gave the baby into the arms of one who seemed to be
its mother, and responded:--

"Yes. He died--that old priest; and I am now in his place. Honorably
please to enter."

I entered. The little sanctuary no longer looked interesting: all
its innocent prettiness was gone. Jizō still smiled over his bib;
but the other divinities had disappeared, and likewise many votive
offerings--including the picture of Adelaide Neilson. The priest tried
to make me comfortable in the chamber where the old man used to write,
and set a smoking-box before me. I looked for the books in the corner;
they also had vanished. Everything seemed to have been changed.

I asked:--

"When did he die?"

"Only last winter," replied the incumbent, "in the Period of Greatest
Cold. As he could not move his feet, he suffered much from the cold.
This is his ihai."

He went to an alcove containing shelves incumbered with a bewilderment
of objects indescribable,--old wrecks, perhaps, of sacred things,--and
opened the doors of a very small butsudan, placed between glass jars
full of flowers. Inside I saw the mortuary tablet,--fresh black
lacquer and gold. He lighted a lamplet before it, set a rod of incense
smouldering, and said:--

"Pardon my rude absence a little while; for there are parishioners

So left alone, I looked at the ihai and watched the steady flame of
the tiny lamp and the blue, slow, upcurlings of incense,--wondering if
the spirit of the old priest was there. After a moment I felt as if
he really were, and spoke to him without words. Then I noticed that
the flower vases on either side of the butsudan still bore the name of
Toussaint Cosnard of Bordeaux, and that the incense-box maintained its
familiar legend of richly flavored cigarettes. Looking about the room
I also perceived the red cat, fast asleep in a sunny corner. I went to
it, and stroked it; but it knew me not, and scarcely opened its drowsy
eyes. It was sleeker than ever, and seemed happy. Near the entrance I
heard a plaintive murmuring; then the voice of the priest, reiterating
sympathetically some half-comprehended answer to his queries: "_A woman
of nineteen, yes. And a man of twenty-seven,--is it?_" Then I rose to

"Pardon," said the priest, looking up from his writing, while the poor
women saluted me, "yet one little moment more!"

"Nay," I answered; "I would not interrupt you. I came only to see the
old man, and I have seen his ihai. This, my little offering, was for
him. Please to accept it for yourself."

"Will you not wait a moment, that I may know your name?"

"Perhaps I shall come again," I said evasively. "Is the old nun also

"Oh no! she is still taking care of the temple. She has gone out, but
will presently return. Will you not wait? Do you wish nothing?"

"Only a prayer," I answered. "My name makes no difference. A man of
forty-four. Pray that he may obtain whatever is best for him."

The priest wrote something down. Certainly that which I had bidden him
pray for was not the wish of my "heart of hearts." But I knew the Lord
Buddha would never hearken to any foolish prayer for the return of lost



MEIJI, xxiv, 5. MAY, 1891

Who shall find a valiant woman?--far and from the uttermost coasts is
the price of her.--_Vulgate._

"_Tenshi-Sama go-shimpai._" The Son of Heaven augustly sorrows.

Strange stillness in the city, a solemnity as of public mourning. Even
itinerant venders utter their street cries in a lower tone than is
their wont. The theatres, usually thronged from early morning until
late into the night, are all closed. Closed also every pleasure-resort,
every show--even the flower-displays. Closed likewise all the
banquet-halls. Not even the tinkle of a samisen can be heard in the
silent quarters of the geisha. There are no revelers in the great inns;
the guests talk in subdued voices. Even the faces one sees upon the
street have ceased to wear the habitual smile; and placards announce
the indefinite postponement of banquets and entertainments.

Such public depression might follow the news of some great calamity or
national peril,--a terrible earthquake, the destruction of the capital,
a declaration of war. Yet there has been actually nothing of all
this,--only the announcement that the Emperor sorrows; and in all the
thousand cities of the land, the signs and tokens of public mourning
are the same, expressing the deep sympathy of the nation with its

And following at once upon this immense sympathy comes the universal
spontaneous desire to repair the wrong, to make all possible
compensation for the injury done. This manifests itself in countless
ways mostly straight from the heart, and touching in their simplicity.
From almost everywhere and everybody, letters and telegrams of
condolence, and curious gifts, are forwarded to the Imperial guest.
Rich and poor strip themselves of their most valued heirlooms, their
most precious household treasures, to offer them to the wounded Prince.
Innumerable messages also are being prepared to send to the Czar,--and
all this by private individuals, spontaneously. A nice old merchant
calls upon me to request that I should compose for him a telegram in
French, expressing the profound grief of all the citizens for the
attack upon the Czarevitch,--a telegram to the Emperor of all the
Russias. I do the best I can for him, but protest my total inexperience
in the wording of telegrams to high and mighty personages. "Oh! that
will not matter," he makes answer; "we shall send it to the Japanese
Minister at St. Petersburg: he will correct any mistakes as to form." I
ask him if he is aware of the cost of such a message. He has correctly
estimated it as something over one hundred yen, a very large sum for a
small Matsue merchant to disburse.

Some grim old samurai show their feelings about the occurrence in a
less gentle manner. The high official intrusted with the safety of
the Czarevitch at Otsu receives, by express, a fine sword and a stem
letter bidding him prove his manhood and his regret like a sa murai, by
performing harakiri immediately.

For this people, like its own Shintō gods, has various souls: it
has its Nigi-mi-tama and its Ara-mi-tama, its Gentle and its Rough
Spirit. The Gentle Spirit seeks only to make reparation; but the Rough
Spirit demands expiation. And now through the darkening atmosphere of
the popular life, everywhere is felt the strange thrilling of these
opposing impulses, as of two electricities.

Far away in Kanagawa, in the dwelling of a wealthy family, there is a
young girl, a serving-maid, named Yuko, a samurai name of other days,
signifying "valiant."

Forty millions are sorrowing, but she more than all the rest. How
and why no Western mind could fully know. Her being is ruled by
emotions and by impulses of which we can guess the nature only in
the vaguest possible way. Something of the soul of a good Japanese
girl we can know. Love is there--potentially, very deep and still.
Innocence also, insusceptible of taint--that whose Buddhist symbol is
the lotus-flower. Sensitiveness likewise, delicate as the earliest
snow of plum-blossoms. Fine scorn of death is there--her samurai
inheritance--hidden under a gentleness soft as music. Religion is
there, very real and very simple,--a faith of the heart, holding the
Buddhas and the Gods for friends, and unafraid to ask them for anything
of which Japanese courtesy allows the asking. But these, and many other
feelings, are supremely dominated by one emotion impossible to express
in any Western tongue--something for which the word "loyalty" were an
utterly dead rendering, something akin rather to that which we call
mystical exaltation: a sense of uttermost reverence and devotion to
the Tenshi-Sama. Now this is much more than any individual feeling.
It is the moral power and will undying of a ghostly multitude whose
procession stretches back out of her life into the absolute night of
forgotten time. She herself is but a spirit-chamber, haunted by a past
utterly unlike our own,--a past in which, through centuries uncounted,
all lived and felt and thought as one, in ways which never were as our

"_Tenshi-Sama go-shimpai._" A burning shock of desire to give was
the instant response of the girl's heart--desire over powering, yet
hopeless, since she owned nothing, unless the veriest trifle saved from
her wages. But the longing remains, leaves her no rest. In the night
she thinks; asks herself questions which the dead answer for her. "What
can I give that the sorrow of the August may cease?" "Thyself," respond
voices without sound. "But can I?" she queries wonderingly. "Thou hast
no living parent," they reply; "neither does it belong to thee to make
the offerings. Be thou our sacrifice. To give life for the August One
is the highest duty, the highest joy." "And in what place?" she asks.
"Saikyō," answer the silent voices; "in the gateway of those who by
ancient custom should have died."

Dawn breaks; and Yuko rises to make obeisance to the sun. She fulfills
her first morning duties; she requests and obtains leave of absence.
Then she puts on her prettiest robe, her brightest girdle, her whitest
tabi, that she may look worthy to give her life for the Tenshi-Sama.
And in another hour she is journeying to Kyōto. From the train window
she watches the gliding of the landscapes. Very sweet the day is;--all
distances, blue-toned with drowsy vapors of spring, are good to look
upon. She sees the loveliness of the land as her fathers saw it, but as
no Western eyes can see it, save in the weird, queer charm of the old
Japanese picture-books. She feels the delight of life, but dreams not
at all of the possible future preciousness of that life for herself.
No sorrow follows the thought that after her passing the world will
remain as beautiful as before. No Buddhist melancholy weighs upon
her: she trusts herself utterly to the ancient gods. They smile upon
her from the dusk of their holy groves, from their immemorial shrines
upon the backward fleeing hills. And one, perhaps, is with her: he who
makes the grave seem fairer than the palace to those who fear not; he
whom the people call Shinigami, the lord of death-desire. For her the
future holds no blackness. Always she will see the rising of the holy
Sun above the peaks, the smile of the Lady-Moon upon the waters, the
eternal magic of the Seasons. She will haunt the places of beauty,
beyond the folding of the mists, in the sleep of the cedar-shadows,
through circling of innumerable years. She will know a subtler life, in
the faint winds that stir the snow of the flowers of the cherry, in the
laughter of playing waters, in every happy whisper of the vast green
silences. But first she will greet her kindred, somewhere in shadowy
halls awaiting her coming to say to her: "_Thou hast done well,--like a
daughter of samurai. Enter, child! because of thee to-night we sup with
the Gods!_"

It is daylight when the girl reaches Kyōto. She finds a lodging, and
seeks the house of a skillful female hairdresser.

"Please to make it very sharp," says Yuko, giving the kamiyui a very
small razor (article indispensable of a lady's toilet); "and I shall
wait here till it is ready." She unfolds a freshly bought newspaper
and looks for the latest news from the capital; while the shop-folk
gaze curiously, wondering at the serious pretty manner which forbids
familiarity. Her face is placid like a child's; but old ghosts stir
restlessly in her heart, as she reads again of the Imperial sorrow. "I
also wish it were the hour," is her answering thought. "But we must
wait." At last she receives the tiny blade in faultless order, pays the
trifle ashed, and returns to her inn.

There she writes two letters: a farewell to her brother, an
irreproachable appeal to the high officials of the City of Emperors,
praying that the Tenshi-Sama may be petitioned to cease from sorrowing,
seeing that a young life, even though unworthy, has been given in
voluntary expiation of the wrong.

When she goes out again it is that hour of heaviest darkness which
precedes the dawn; and there is a silence as of cemeteries. Few and
faint are the lamps; strangely loud the sound of her little geta. Only
the stars look upon her.

Soon the deep gate of the Government edifice is before her. Into the
hollow shadow she slips, whispers a prayer, and kneels. Then, according
to ancient rule, she takes off her long under-girdle of strong soft
silk, and with it binds her robes tightly about her, making the knot
just above her knees. For no matter what might happen in the instant
of blind agony, the daughter of a samurai must be found in death with
limbs decently composed. And then, with steady precision, she makes in
her throat a gash, out of which the blood leaps in a pulsing jet. A
samurai girl does not blunder in these matters: she knows the place of
the arteries and the veins.

At sunrise the police find her, quite cold, and the two letters, and a
poor little purse containing five yen and a few sen (enough, she had
hoped, for her burial); and they take her and all her small belongings

Then by lightning the story is told at once to a hundred cities.

The great newspapers of the capital receive it; and cynical journalists
imagine vain things, and try to discover common motives for that
sacrifice: a secret shame, a family sorrow, some disappointed love. But
no; in all her simple life there had been nothing hidden, nothing weak,
nothing unworthy; the bud of the lotus unfolded were less virgin. So
the cynics write about her only noble things, befitting the daughter of
a samurai.

The Son of Heaven hears, and knows how his people love him, and
augustly ceases to mourn.

The Ministers hear, and whisper to one another, within the shadow of
the Throne: "All else will change; but the heart of the nation will not

Nevertheless, for high reasons of State, the State pretends not to know.

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