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Title: Japanese Plays and Playfellows
Author: Edwards, Osman
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE

  Italic text is denoted by _underscores_.

  Macrons are accurately represented (mainly ō and some ā and ū).

  Some minor changes to the text are noted at the end of the book.



  JAPANESE PLAYS
  AND PLAYFELLOWS

  [Illustration: Benkei at Sea. (Nō).]



  JAPANESE PLAYS
  AND PLAYFELLOWS

  BY
  OSMAN EDWARDS

  WITH TWELVE COLOURED PLATES BY
  JAPANESE ARTISTS


  JOHN LANE
  251 FIFTH AVENUE, NEW YORK
  1901



  TO

  YAKUMO KOIZUMI

  AND

  LAFCADIO HEARN

  POET AND FRIEND
  WITH
  ADMIRING GRATITUDE



PREFACE


_I do not pretend to compete in the crowded field of Japanese
sociology with those who have lived more than six months or less
than six weeks in the country. My own stay was limited to half a
year. I had, of course, studied the language with native teachers
and devoured the records of foreign travellers. I concluded that
theatrical matters had been less fully described than any other: to
them, accordingly, I devoted most attention. But there were other
themes on which I had been insufficiently informed. Impersonal
essays are, therefore, supplemented by personal reminiscences, for
which I claim indulgence. If the first now seem to me too short,
the second may seem to others too long. Yet I have tried only to
select incidents and characteristics which differ strikingly from
Western ways._

_Austere critics will assuredly resent the excess of incense
burned in these pages in honour of the_ musumé. _But, whether she
and they like it or not, she continues to summarise in her dainty
little person much of her country’s magic: its picturesqueness,
its kindness, its politeness. On certain symptoms of anti-foreign
feeling I have dwelt at some length, because the obvious witchery
of Japan so often results in the suppression of unpleasant
testimony by those whose own souvenirs are pleasantness itself.
There is certainly no reason why the Japanese should exhibit
more altruism to other nations than is exhibited in the reverse
case. The apprehensions expressed by such an admirer of the race
as Mr. A. B. Mitford, in a recent letter to the_ Times _as to
the expediency of giving them too free a hand in the solution
of the Chinese problem, however unwelcome to advocates of an
Anglo-Japanese alliance, deserve to be well weighed. Neither
pro-Japanese tourist nor anti-Japanese resident can refuse
admiration to the courage and cleverness of those Happy Islanders,
whose foreign policy is better left to impartial pens for judgment.
A partial spectator, I can only render appreciative thanks for what
I have seen and loved._

_I desire to acknowledge indebtedness to Mr. B. H. Chamberlain and
Mr. G. W. Aston for much information as to lore and literature; to
the anonymous author of a pamphlet entitled “Notes on the History
of the Yoshiwara of Yedo”; to Mr. Fenollosa, Mr. Fukuchi, Mr.
Fukai, Mr. K. Hirata, and Mr. Isoh Yamagata for opportunities and
courtesies; to the editors of the_ Hansei Zasshi, The Sketch, _and_
The Studio _for permission to make use of material contributed to
their columns._

_WESTENDE-LES-BAINS._



CONTENTS


                                                    Page

     I. Behind the Scenes                              3

         (Note to foregoing) Cassandra Justified      32

    II. Religious Plays                               39

   III. Popular Plays                                 61

    IV. Geisha and Cherry-Blossom                    101

     V. Vulgar Songs                                 121

    VI. Taking the Waters                            147

   VII. Playing with Fire                            209

  VIII. Afternoon Calls                              237

    IX. The Scarlet Lady                             275

        Index                                        303



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


  _Benkei at Sea_                   _Frontispiece_

                                                  _Page_

  _Shintō Temple at Miyajima_                         14

  _Shunkwan in Exile_                                 46

  _Kintaro fights the Earth-Spider_                   56

  _Portrait of Mdme. Sada Yacco_                      66

  _Portrait of Mr. Kawakami_                          66

  _Mr. Danjuro as the Lady-in-waiting of Kasuga_      66

  _Mr. Danjuro as Jiraiya_                            66

  _The Heroine of a Problem-play_                     96

  _Jealousy exorcised from Aoi-no-Uye_ (_Nō_)        142

  _Personators of Jizō_ (_Kiōgen_)                   162

  _Dancers at the Feast of Lanterns_                 180

  _Kintaikyō Bridge_                                 198

  _The Lion-Dance on New Year’s Day_                 248

  _A Professional Story-teller_                      260

  _The Taiyu waves her Saké-cup_                     300



BEHIND THE SCENES



BEHIND THE SCENES


A foreign country for most travellers is very like a theatre. They
arrive in holiday mood, resolving to be pleased, since otherwise
their judgment in choosing that country rather than another, their
faculty of appreciating what so many have proclaimed delectable,
might seem at fault. Should their choice have fallen on Japan, be
sure that eulogistic notices from the pens of Sir Edwin Arnold
and M. Pierre Loti have prepared them to enjoy the daintiest of
comediettas. They reach the enchanted shore. They pass swiftly
from one aspect of fairyland to another. Nothing happens to shake
their preconceived conviction that in the Land of the Rising Sun
Nature began and Art completed a yellow paradise. They do not heed
the jeremiads of resident aliens, nor the bitter cry of outcast
professors, who gather thorns where the tourist is dazzled by
cherry-blossom. The picturesque unreality of common things abets
illusion. Surely these dolls’ houses of wood and paper, these
canopies of rosy bloom and curtains of purple wistaria, the
gigantic cryptomeria, the tentacular pines, the azure inland sea
and snow-streaked Fuji itself--surely all these compose a superb
_mise en scène_ for poetic comedy! And when “the crowd” enters,
a smiling crowd of straw-sandalled rickshaw-runners, of kneeling
tea-house girls, and shaven babies, arrayed like bright-winged
butterflies, churlish indeed were the spectator who should refuse
to smile back and cheer with the best. Then consider the privileges
which he may enjoy in that admirably arranged theatre. Were he in
his own country, the footlights divide him for a few hours at most
from actors whose privacy, however coveted, he may seldom hope to
invade. But on Japanese soil he may often obtain, by fee or favour,
like the stage-struck noble of Molière’s and Shakespeare’s time,
familiar acquaintance with performance and performers. The latter
are, on the stage, his puppets; off the stage, his friends. Indeed,
he confounds the two, and ends by treating them with affectionate
condescension. This attitude, which he half-involuntarily assumes
from an ever-present consciousness of superior civilisation (as he
considers it), deceives only himself. The polite but thoughtful
patriot, perceiving that his temples are regarded as bric-à-brac,
his race as a race of ingenious marionettes, protests in vain
against the unwelcome flattery of surprised admirers. “To this
kind of people,” wrote Mr. Fukai, one of the ablest journalists in
Tōkyō, “our country is simply a play-ground for globe-trotters, our
people a band of cheerful, merry playfellows. Painstaking inquiries
are made about Japanese curios and objects of art--sometimes
important, no doubt, but sometimes ridiculously trivial--while the
investigation of such subjects as the ethical life, the social and
political institutions, are far too much neglected. The history of
the nation is ignored, and our recent progress is supposed to be
wholly owing to a miraculous touch of Western civilisation.” But
who is to remedy this unfortunate susceptibility on the part of
foreigners? The foreign _employé_ has his work to do--diplomatic,
professional, or commercial; the native is in no particular hurry
to court the esteem of outsiders, being quite contented with his
own high estimate of himself. Must it always be an officer “on
short leave,” or a journalist in a hurry, who undertakes to record
superficial impressions of a passing spectacle? At least, it is no
use reporting from the stalls what the casual playgoer imagines
he has seen, unless his report be confirmed and controlled by
those who move in the mysterious world “behind the scenes,” where
the drama of popular existence is more adequately observed and
to a great extent directed. Happily, the judicious inquirer has
only to choose between competent guides, whose eyes are no longer
confused by the glimmer of dancing lanterns. Let us pass behind
the scenes, and discover, if we can, what sort of piece is being
rehearsed--what mode of action the performers affect. If we lose
some illusions, we may gain a profitable glimpse of decorously
veiled truths.

The foreign resident is rarely cast for an important part, never
for a permanent one. It is notorious that he lacks æsthetic charm.
His wife and children, his club and counting-house, his racecourse
and cricket-field, are standing tokens of unassimilative exile.
In England he would be a good citizen and an excellent fellow,
sure of his seat on the School Board or County Council, if not in
Parliament, supposing that his ambitions included that of service
to the community. But in Kōbe or Yokohama he lives as isolated
from the fascinating “native-born” as any Jew in a mediæval
ghetto. And he does not feel the spell which takes the bookmaker
captive. It will not do to dismiss him as a Philistine, a coarse
barbarian, whose only aim is to exploit the country for his own
benefit, since, on closer acquaintance, you find him, more often
than not, cultured, kindly, and just. What, then, can be the cause
of his extraordinary antipathy to the land, ideally perfect as it
appears to us, in which his lines are cast? For every blessing you
pronounce he replies with a malediction, and, since his life behind
the scenes is at least nearer actuality than your own, you borrow
his eyes, with which the better to contemplate a Japanese Janus,
Whose smiling visage fills you with delight, though at him is
levelled a forbidding frown.

The root of his discomfort and your enchantment is a profoundly
narrow patriotism. Viewed from without, this brave and alert
nation, courteous to strangers and glad to excite admiration,
retaining so much that is picturesque and unique, yet capable of
appropriating the external panoply of Western civilisation, might
seem more companionable than any other; viewed from within, it is
evidently a close corporation, intolerant of rivalry, diligent to
protect itself, and determined to restrict at all costs “Japan to
the Japanese.” It is futile to blame this trait, which springs
inevitably from the forced seclusion of two centuries, during which
period the barbarian was rigorously excluded until he obtained
readmission at the cannon’s mouth. Nor is such hostile feeling
confined to the ignorant. On the contrary, the farther you go from
the great centres, where the mixture of races might be expected to
produce a better mutual understanding, the more amiable is your
reception. The mercantile classes dread and dislike the invading
trader, while imitating his methods, so far as they can grasp them,
with the intention of ousting him as much as possible from their
markets. Even the intellectual classes, quick to appreciate the
value of Western science, arms, and government, are none the nearer
spiritually through their acquisition. Mr. Lafcadio Hearn, whose
passionate devotion to his adopted country has inspired many pæans
of tender praise, yet writes: “Between the most elevated class of
thoroughly modernised Japanese and the Western thinker anything
akin to intellectual sympathy is non-existent: it is replaced on
the native side by a cold and faultless politeness.” Finally, a
Tōkyō critic, whose language is as vigorous as his disillusion is
genuine, complains thus bitterly in _The Orient_ (April 1899) of
“The Rest of the World”:

“From first to last our foreign records have shown almost
insatiable greed on the part of our treaty-allies. We have, it
is true, asked for no favours; and it is equally certain that we
have not received any. There never has been any real feeling of
fraternal amity between us and our allies; and this not because we
were not willing, indeed eager, to take the initiative, but because
our treaty-allies have held superciliously aloof and grudged us an
entrance into the comity of nations. All things considered, we do
not find the debt of gratitude we owe to foreign lands beyond power
of bearing. Civilisation? We had that before ever Commodore Perry
came to Uraga and Mississippi Bay. Schools? Well, text-books are
to be bought in the open market, and our students have always paid
their way at Western universities. Railways? Yes, but look at the
absurd price we had to pay for the first line between Tōkyō and
Yokohama! And so on with the whole list. We have paid the highest
market price for our experience, with a thumping big commission
for the privilege of buying it even at that rate. Yes, we have
profited, but largely lost our own self-respect in the profiting.”

Innocently unaware of storms in the beautiful Satsuma tea-pot,
the globe-trotter goes his way, playing and paying to the
satisfaction of all. But the business man, whose presence is an
affront and not a compliment, has to bear the brunt of them. The
difficulties which beset his calling are not to be paralleled
elsewhere. There was a time when the native merchant would try
to intimidate his rival into concluding a bargain by employing
_sōshi_, importunate bravoes, to lay siege at all hours to the
private and official door of their victim, until he capitulated
or demanded police protection. But this somewhat _naïf_ procedure
did not command general approval. More easy and more usual is the
device of ordering goods and refusing to take delivery except at
a much reduced rate. The perpetually quoted case of Cornes _v._
Kimura (Yokohama, 1894), which the reader will find described at
length in Mr. Chamberlain’s “Things Japanese” (under the heading
“Trade”), is more eloquent than pages of second-hand rhetoric.
Briefly, the British importer, in spite of a verdict given in
his favour by a Japanese judge, was compelled to retain some of
the ordered goods, at a loss of 2500 _yen_, on pain of being
boycotted by the Yarn Traders’ Guild. If this case stood alone,
one would be loath to revive recollection of it, but there remains
so many a slip between the signing of similar contracts and their
fulfilments, that the warehouses at the treaty-ports are never
without incriminating bales, which lower Japanese credit and
testify to the slow growth of commercial honesty. To eliminate
the foreign importer altogether is, of course, better than to
boycott him, and this, with Government aid, is gradually being
accomplished. First, a law was passed that Government contracts
for plant and material were to be given only to Japanese subjects.
Then, when it was found that a foreign firm would try to evade this
by employing a Japanese man of straw, an enactment was issued for
the re-inspection of all plant on arrival in Japan. Mr. Stafford
Ransome, in an article contributed to _The Engineer_ on the subject
of this official re-inspection, quotes the case of 16,000 tons of
cast-iron pipes supplied by one Belgian and two British firms for
the Tōkyō waterworks. Of the 10,000 tons of Belgian pipes only
2700 were accepted, and of the English 4000 out of 6000 tons. Yet
in his opinion the rejected pipes were perfectly good for the
purpose. That experience will correct short-sighted dishonesty,
that the native merchant will gradually master the principles of
international trade and become as respected as he was in feudal
days despised, nobody doubts; and if for the moment the stranger
within his gates must suffer, the gates are not yet stripped of
all their gold. Already the Chambers of Commerce have realised
that capital is cosmopolitan, and that excess of chauvinism spells
bankruptcy for local enterprise. So long as the laws forbid the
foreigner to own land, to hold shares in native companies or to
assist in their management, he is naturally shy of responding to
invitations to invest. But at first such invitations were not
frequent. Ten years ago the craze for joint-stock companies,
though widespread, was yet hedged in by patriotic precaution.
The promoters had no desire to share with outsiders the golden
fruit which seemed to beckon from speculative boughs. Moreover,
the Government, always paternal from sentiment and tradition,
would often pledge its support in liberal subsidies. The defeat of
China redoubled the victor’s confidence in his capacity to develop
his own possessions with his own resources. But events have not
kept pace with his hopes. The greater portion of the indemnity
was diverted, after all, into British pockets in return for
unproductive ironclads: prices went up, dividends went down; the
shining fruit was turned to ashes through inexpert gardening, for
the art of industrial horticulture is not to be learned in a day,
especially by amateurs, who sometimes drew an erratic line between
private and public consumption of the crop. Whatever the causes,
those very Chambers of Commerce, which had strongly opposed the
introduction of foreign capital, passed in 1898-99 one resolution
after another to the effect that aliens be permitted and solicited
to contribute where the funds of indigenous subscribers required to
be supplemented. It does not, however, seem probable that foreign
investors will be in any hurry to unloose their purse-strings,
unless and until the over-cautious patriot can be persuaded to
modify the laws in such a way as will give his coadjutor the right
to share in the management and responsibility of any scheme towards
the success of which his money may be largely, even preponderantly,
instrumental.

It must not be supposed that apprehension and mistrust are
monopolised by one party to this subterranean war. For five years
it has been impossible to open an English journal published in the
treaty-ports without finding in it some dismal prophecy of the
time (it began on June 18, 1899) when the treaties concluded by
Lord Rosebery’s Government should be put into operation, when the
walls of the ghetto should be razed, when the British lion and the
Japanese lamb must lie down together in unity. The right to travel
in the interior without passports, and to reside in any district
whatsoever without special permission, are the only advantages
conferred by the treaties on resident aliens--advantages which
he would enjoy as a matter of course in any civilised country.
The disadvantages, of which he fears the inconvenience, to use no
stronger term, are numerous. Extra-territoriality being abolished,
he becomes subject to Japanese law, which is incompletely codified
and must be administered by men whose patriotic bias and sense of
justice may be subjected at times to a severe strain. Still, the
right to exercise jurisdiction on all within her borders cannot be
refused, without insult, to a civilised Power. The right to impose
duty on imports (hitherto limited to five per cent.) up to thirty
or forty per cent. is not only undeniable, but absolutely desirable
in the interests of Japanese trade. It is suggested, however, that
such high duties might be levied on objects which are indispensable
to foreigners and of little utility to natives, as to form a lever
for the gradual ejection of aliens. There is no guarantee that
the freedom of the Press and the freedom of public meeting will
be exempt from those restrictions, which are daily and legally
imposed on the Japanese themselves. The coasting trade, the right
of doctors and lawyers to practise without a Japanese diploma,
the conditions of holding and selling leases--on these most vital
points the utmost uncertainty exists. No wonder that Mr. B. H.
Chamberlain asked, “Could any one imagine such terms having ever
been agreed to except as the result of a disastrous war?”

Happily, between the discontented British and the ultra-patriotic
Japanese lies a barrier of prudent statesmanship, which has proved
itself equal to solving harder problems than any with which the
Western world is confronted. No other Eastern nation has known
how to transform its polity in accordance with Occidental ideas
without provoking internal disruption or external conquest. It is
not yet realised that the credit of the achievement is due to a
very small band of men--to the Marquess Ito and his associates on
the one hand and the foreign instructors on the other, whose names
are too soon forgotten, while their works live after them. Though
all their compatriots now reap in advancing prestige and prosperity
the benefits of the work performed by the “Clan Statesmen,” it
must not be forgotten that much of that work was accomplished in
the face of every obstacle which prejudice and short-sightedness
could interpose. Popular dissatisfaction was adroitly diverted by
declaring war on China at the moment when factious opposition was
bringing discredit on the four-years-old parliamentary Government,
and Ministers were strong enough to hold an indignant nation in
hand when the fruits of war were so unscrupulously torn from their
grasp by Muscovite intrigue. Indications are not wanting that
the spirit of tactful sense which has steered Japan through so
many tempests is competent to allay those prognosticated by the
Cassandras of Kōbe and Yokohama. Those journalistic beldames, who
predicted sickness and death for the European inmate of a Japanese
prison unless he should be granted a special diet and a particular
_régime_, have been already conciliated by the construction of an
expensive gaol, which it is hoped they will never be called upon
to occupy. This building, situated at Sugamo, covers an area of
about 28,000 square yards. It is provided with tables and chairs,
and the cells will be lighted with electricity. Thus the grievance
is redressed before it can even occur; murder is averted; _ab uno
disce omnes_.

Before dismissing from consideration the prevalent hostility to
foreign residents, more noticeable in the ports than elsewhere, and
most pronounced in relation to mercantile rivals, a word should
be said as to its effects on mission work. Between 1878 and 1888
Christianity appeared to be carrying all before it. The land was
honeycombed with evangelists of every sect, from the resplendent
deacons of the Orthodox Russian cathedral, which so insolently
dominates the capital from the summit of Suruga-dai, to the
dingy crowd of Methodists, Baptists, Unitarians, Universalists,
and others, none of whom were without a hopeful following of
more or less sincere converts. In fact, so fashionable did the
once-persecuted faith become that Mr. Fukuzawa, “the Jowett of
Japan,” the intellectual father of her most progressive pioneers,
advocated for a time that it should be adopted as the national
religion, by no means on account of its intrinsic merits, but
rather as a certificate of spiritual respectability and a passport
to more intimate relationship with the Powers which call themselves
Christian. This success is easily explained. Not only were many of
the missionaries men of high principle and attractive personality,
but they had the wisdom to minimise doctrinal differences and the
opportunity of conferring no small material benefit on their
disciples by teaching them the English tongue. The commercial
value of an English education stood high, and the army of native
Christians had a better chance than most of obtaining posts in
governmental or other offices. I may mention in passing that the
first professed Christian to hold ministerial rank was the Minister
of Education in the short-lived Okuma-Itagaki Government of 1898.

Of course, I would not insinuate that cases of genuine conversion
were not numerous and productive of moral regeneration, or that the
creed of Christendom has failed to strike root among the simple and
warm-hearted peasantry. But it is certain that among the educated
classes it is now viewed with rationalistic indifference.

Mr. G. W. Aston, towards the close of his “History of Japanese
Literature,” makes a very significant admission:

“The process of absorbing new ideas, which has mainly occupied the
Japanese nation during the last thirty years, is incomplete in
one very important particular. Although much in European thought
which is inseparable from Christianity has been freely adopted by
Japan, the Christian religion itself has made comparatively little
progress. The writings of the Kamakura and two subsequent periods
are penetrated with Buddhism, and those of the Yedo age with moral
and religious ideas derived from China. Christianity has still to
put its stamp on the literature of the Tōkyō period.”

[Illustration: Shintō Temple at Miyajima.]

Whether this apathy towards Christian teaching should be
attributed, as some aver, to an incapacity for abstract
speculation, or, as others assert, to the revolution which
its adoption would entail in the position of women, need not be
discussed at present. Let the following facts speak for themselves.
The latest available statistics show that the number of converts
is decreasing. Even within the ranks of Japanese Christianity is
a strongly marked tendency to replace foreign by native teachers,
and to nationalise that religion by robbing it of many dogmas which
are elsewhere regarded as essential. The case of the Dōshisha,
which has been of late years a burning question among Japanese and
American Christians, is one with which all who take an interest
in mission work should certainly be well acquainted, for it
furnishes a striking illustration of the appropriative and, to our
ideas, somewhat unscrupulous proclivities of Nipponean patriots.
The Dōshisha is a Christian university founded at Kyōto in 1875
under the auspices of the American Board Mission. So liberal were
the contributions of foreign believers to this very flourishing
institution, that at last it came to include, besides a special
theological department, a girls’ school, a science school, a
hospital, and a nurses’ training school. Needless to say, the
Presbyterian donors inserted a clause in the constitution to
the effect that their form of faith should be perpetually and
obligatorily taught. Religious schools, however, cannot claim the
same privileges as civil schools from the Home Department, which,
on the plea of neutrality, only grants to undenominational ones
special concessions with regard to military conscription. Realising
that this disability acted unfavourably on the number of pupils and
retarded the expansion of their work, the governing body of the
Dōshisha proceeded to increase the number of native subscribers,
and with their connivance to dechristianise the college, in
order to escape the disadvantage already mentioned. That is, the
Christian instruction was made optional instead of obligatory, but
the buildings and appliances, bought with American money, were of
course retained. The Board, representing the original subscribers,
protested against what they did not hesitate to characterise as a
flagrant breach of faith: the governing body pleaded expediency,
and were prepared to redefine Christianity in accordance with their
own conceptions of an undeniably vague term. There the matter
rests. It might seem unfair to lay stress on this matter, were it
not that this action of the Dōshisha authorities is typical of the
attitude of native educationalists at the present time to foreign
teaching: it forms, in fact, part of the patriotic movement, which
I desire to indicate without praise or blame, more especially as
that movement is so little known outside Japan. Of course, there
has been for years a very natural and proper tendency to replace
foreign by native officials as soon as the latter seemed capable
of discharging the functions primarily entrusted to the former.
But this is very different from denying to foreigners the right of
founding schools at their own risk--a right which they would enjoy
as a matter of course in any but reactionary States. Such, however,
is the policy urged on the Government by the Higher Educational
Council (composed of professors in the chief schools and colleges),
which on April 17, 1899, passed the following resolution:

“Foreigners who are not conversant with Japanese shall not be
allowed to become teachers in other courses than those of foreign
languages or special courses in special schools and of schools
exclusively intended for foreigners. _Foreigners who are licensed
as teachers in the above-mentioned capacities shall not be allowed
to found schools other than those exclusively intended for
foreigners._”

As the founder of a school should legally be a licensed teacher,
the foregoing clauses practically prohibit foreigners from
establishing schools for Japanese. Besides, there is a clause
prohibiting religious education and ceremonies in privileged
schools. In other words, the nationalists wish education to be not
only in their own hands, but also entirely secular; and those who
desire to introduce from abroad theological tenets may no longer do
so, if the Government should follow this advice, except from the
pulpit or as private individuals. Whether such a restriction be or
be not in violation of existing treaties with foreign Powers, I
cannot say.

Sufficient proof has perhaps been already adduced of anti-foreign
feeling to convince an impartial reader that an Anglo-Saxon exile
has some reason for feeling ill at ease in the tourists’ paradise.
It might be added, however, that even the victim of patriotic
manœuvres is hardly ever exposed to personal malevolence. The
politest nation in the world would certainly not be guilty of any
overt discourtesy. The accident of foreign birth may place you
outside the pale of those secure and intimate relations which you
might form with colleagues in other lands (the divergence of social
and domestic habits by itself almost necessitates this), but, if
the collision of financial interests should result in your ejection
from a post of vantage, you cannot justly blame an individual,
only those centripetal forces that give solidarity and cohesion to
a race which remains, the more it changes, the more indissolubly
the same. And though the patriot might think, he would never say to
your face, “L’étranger, voilà l’ennemi.” On the contrary, if he had
not the racial interest to consider, if he were not born in a maze
of reciprocal duties which to us are inconceivable, so charming is
his natural disposition that I am not at all sure that he would
not, now and then, sacrifice himself to oblige an alien!

I have used the phrase “charming natural disposition” deliberately,
though it may seem incongruous, or even incompatible with dislike
of strangers. What traveller has not felt and described this charm?
Will Adams in the beginning of the seventeenth century found “the
people of this Iland good of nature, curteous aboue measure,” and
Sir Rutherford Alcock in the middle of the nineteenth reports
them “as kindly and well-disposed people as any in the world.”
Has their nature, then, suffered any deterioration? Has contact
with Europeans and Americans brought material gain at the cost of
ethical loss? Many observers, both native and foreign, declare this
to be the case: a little reflection will show that it cannot, for
the present, be otherwise.

“Old Japan,” in the opinion of Mr. Lafcadio Hearn, “was quite as
much in advance of the nineteenth century morally as she was behind
materially. She had made morality instinctive.” This verdict is
not yet of purely historic interest; it may be tested by all who
care to travel beyond the radius of photographs and railways. In
remote districts, where the innkeeper charges a minimum price,
relying for profit on the generosity of his guest, whose present
is acknowledged by the bestowal of a fan or an embroidered towel,
even such fugitive relations rest on a benevolent rather than a
wholly commercial basis. Patriarchal manners--contented submission,
fidelity, courtesy--yield a rich return of domestic happiness. The
struggle for life and for wealth is tempered by self-sacrificing
customs and amenities. If the apprentice be willing to work for
no other wage than his master’s approval and satisfaction through
long probationary years, the master, on his side, will resign his
charge into the hands of a younger generation before decrepitude
has come to rob “honourable retirement” of its grace. If the young
wife devote her summer to unquestioning service of her husband
and his parents, she has her reward when her sons’ wives repay
her with the same filial homage. Similar ties, imposing restraint
on egoism and sanctified by public esteem, have had their full
share in developing those amiable qualities which every observer
has acknowledged. But the break-up of feudal society cannot fail
to react on the manners which reflected feudal discipline. The
Western ideals of liberty, equality, and self-assertion, the decay
of religious belief, the necessity of fighting on even terms in
the great competitive _mêlée_ to the tune of “The devil take the
hindmost, oh!” and, it must be added, the example set by the rest
of the world, which does not practise altruism, whatever its
representatives may preach, all these factors tend to harden and
sharpen the modernised Japanese.

A curious sign of the independent spirit, nourished on new
ideas and strangely at variance with the old, is the organised
indiscipline of schoolboys. During the six months which the writer
spent in the country two flagrant cases occurred of defiance of
authority, by no means unusual, it would appear, in scholastic
experience, if one might judge by the comments of the local Press.
In one case the majority of the scholars absented themselves for
a fortnight as a protest against the alleged incapacity of the
teacher, and maltreated a more docile minority who endeavoured
to resume their lessons. In another the upper forms refused
to recognise the authority of a headmaster appointed by the
Government, on the ground that his talents and attainments fell
below the standard which they deemed desirable in the director
of their studies. In consequence, the unfortunate nominee of the
Minister of Education was completely boycotted; his class-room was
deserted, his suggestions ignored; and, on the occasion of the
annual prize-giving, he was publicly insulted, for, whereas the
whole school rose and remained standing as a mark of respect during
the speeches of distinguished visitors, when their unfortunate
chief began his address they resumed their seats and engaged in
loud conversation, after the manner of our own House of Commons
when the suppression of an unwelcome orator is desired. The most
surprising feature in both these instances was that a section
of the Japanese Press, instead of regarding the incidents as
deplorable, indeed, but as domestic matters, which it concerned
only the governing body to regulate, made them the subject of a
long polemic, sided with or against the malcontents, and, in short,
exalted the revolting schoolboys into fellow-citizens “rightly
struggling to be free.” The college Hampden does not shrink from
his _rôle_, and is prepared in the interests of curiosity and “the
higher education” to cross-examine a newly-appointed professor,
insufficiently protected by a Harvard or Oxford reputation, on his
knowledge of Shakespeare, his theological beliefs, his preference
for “the open door” or the gradual partition of China. If this
precocious independence conflict with our old-fashioned notions
of modesty and reverence on the part of adolescence towards its
seniors, it should make life more amusing for the professor, who,
after all, is better off with inquisitive than with incurious
pupils. I am confirmed in my supposition that the autonomous
schoolboy is not at all abnormal by a schoolmaster of nearly ten
years’ standing, who writes: “In the Occident the master expels
the pupil. In Japan it happens quite as often that the pupil
expels the master. Each public school is an earnest, spirited
little republic.” One thing is certain. The taught are as eager to
absorb knowledge as the teacher to impart it; idleness is rare;
without extraordinary application but little progress can be made.
For it should not be forgotten that four or five years must be
devoted to the sole acquisition of a working stock of Chinese
ideographs, the scholar’s needlessly complicated alphabet, before
he attacks Western science, law, language, or medicine themselves
supplementary to subjects of native growth. Demands so various can
only be met by the most systematic precision, and in effect no
country has more carefully organised popular education. To organise
comes naturally to the Japanese, and this capacity explains the
apparent contradiction of co-existent order and revolt. The revolt
is always corporate, one organisation within another. Whether the
disaffected body consist of waiters, or workmen, or schoolboys, it
has to be treated as a collective unit. The objects pursued--higher
wages, more liberty, more privileges--may bear the impress of
democratic ambition, but the spirit in which they are fought for is
that of feudal obedience to a common call.

It cannot be said that the Japanese Press has degenerated
through contact with foreigners, since it is a plant, imported
from abroad nearly thirty years ago, which has thriven and
multiplied exceedingly on favourable soil. As might have been
expected, no modern novelty is more popular than the newspaper
in a land where gossip and laughter and criticism are as the
breath of life to a sharp-witted, good-tempered race. More than a
thousand newspapers--several illustrated, some wholly or partly
in English--cater at very low prices to the public appetite. It
is natural that the right to speak and print freely should be
liable to abuse when first exercised. Nor could the wary group of
reformers, whose task of nursing democratic institutions among
hereditary partisans of a rigid caste system was no less delicate
than difficult, be blamed for setting legal limits to editorial
indiscretion. In India and in Egypt the British authorities are
often compelled for reasons of State to quench the sacred torch
of incendiary invective. But as public opinion grows better
educated, it is less liable to be led astray by journalistic
tirades. Moreover, the journalist soon acquires a hold, direct or
indirect, on the Legislature, wherever Parliament and Press become
interdependent. The Press laws of Japan have, in consequence, lost
much of their severity, and the “prison-editor” (whose position
corresponds to that of the _Sitz-Redaktör_ in Prussia) finds his
fate of vicarious imprisonment, when the actual editor sins,
grow daily less onerous. It was, indeed, urged as a reproach by
opposition sheets against the Okuma-Itagaki Ministry of 1898
that five or six of the Ministers had been at some time or other
inmates of his Imperial Majesty’s gaols; but the gravity of the
reproach is much diminished by the explanation that in nearly every
case incarceration had been inflicted for unguarded liberty of
expression in the Press or on the platform. Political offences,
all the world over, are merely political offences. For the Irish
Nationalist Kilmainham is more sacred than Westminster. Such
prisoners are no more than naughty children, locked in a dark room
by a paternal Government.

But, in truth, it is not the political columns which have most
influence on the circulation of Tōkyō journals. If the typical
leading article seems to English taste wanting in force and
directness, abounding in vague sonorities, that is a fault
shared by European editors, who are bound to veil an oracle with
traditional obscurity. This trait is, of course, intensified by the
impersonal periphrases of the language. Where the director of the
journal is most to blame is in allowing his organ to become the
medium of worse than American personalities. The newspaper which
enjoys the largest circulation among the middle and lower classes
of the capital devotes much attention to maintaining the prestige
of its _chronique scandaleuse_. The Prime Minister, the foreign
merchant or professor, the Buddhist high-priest, will discover that
his amours, embellished with corroborative detail and treated with
more regard to artistic effect than the facts warrant, command
the most flattering and embarrassing popularity. What would be
thought of a London newspaper which should record so minutely
the movements of a visiting prince as to chronicle the names of
professional beauties visited by him, as well as the price paid
for their transitory favours? The aggrieved hero or villain has no
doubt legal remedy, should he choose to prosecute the offending
reporter; but the remedy would be worse than the disease, since not
only is it dilatory and expensive, but the protracted advertisement
would tend to circulate rather than to kill the slander. Besides,
in the eyes of an indulgent public gallantry, as our French
neighbours call it, excites more amusement then reprobation. At any
rate, libellous paragraphs, with their inevitable accompaniment
of blackmail, are at present sufficiently numerous to detract
from the high reputation deservedly enjoyed by more scrupulous
journals such as the _Nihon_, the _Nichi Nichi_, and the _Jiji
Shimpo_. The _feuilleton_ flourishes. When illustrated by woodcuts,
representing a Japanese woman tied naked to a tree and assaulted
by Russian sailors, it makes good fuel for chauvinistic flame; but
such outrages on taste are rare, and in general the reader prefers
adventurous romance, with a spice of unreality, in the vein of
Jules Verne or the elder Dumas.

Proximity to the continent where manners count for less than
dollars has, in the opinion of many, made the present generation
less polite and more mercenary than its predecessors. One certainly
misses the exquisite courtesy still in vogue in outlying districts,
when one has occasion to remark the rudeness or familiarity of
certain classes in or near Tōkyō. But this declining courtesy,
which cannot be called general, is not to be attributed solely to
ignorant dislike of strangers. As soon as the sensitive native
discovers that ceremonious attention is apt to be mistaken for
obsequiousness, his pride intervenes and his bearing becomes less
affable. The example of ill-mannered tourists has, it is true,
demoralised the service of certain hotels, where the visitor
persists in regarding the attendant _musumé_ as a plaything, but
the incivility of the rickshaw-man when his invariable attempt
to overcharge is frustrated rests on no other basis than the
presumption, not confined to one country, that since the traveller
has arrived to spend money, he should be encouraged to spend it as
freely as possible. Sometimes, too, an amusing reciprocal patronage
is to be observed. If the tourist be inclined to regard the peasant
as a living toy invented for his diversion, the peasant not
infrequently will see in the tourist a helpless, rather childish
creature, pleased by infantile things and unable to speak a word
of Japanese. He therefore pities, protects, and fleeces him. None
but the incapable rich, whom vanity or idleness compels to become
dependent on inferiors, should dream of employing a professional
guide. He probably is less well informed than “Murray”; he seeks
on every pretext to prolong his services; he exacts a commission
on every purchase made, both from his employer and the shopkeeper,
for if the latter refuse he will conduct the customer elsewhere.
Notwithstanding these peculiarities, he is perhaps worth his price
to hurried visitors.

How far materialism has gone in replacing dutiolatry by
worship of the golden calf, to what extent the old high ideals
have ceased to affect the relations of the Japanese to one
another--such a question is difficult, perhaps impossible, to
answer satisfactorily. Mr. B. H. Chamberlain declares roundly that
“patriotism is the only ideal left,” but on such a nice point it is
better to let the native speak for himself.

From _The Orient_, a monthly magazine, Buddhistic in sympathy and
of modern tendency, is quoted the following unequivocal indictment:

“Spiritually there is very undeniable decadence. Open ports, huge
fleets of steamers, thousands of miles of rails, telephone and
telegraph wires, a navy ranking at least seventh in the world’s
list, a consolidated postal system, flourishing banks, and all else
of like nature, are nothing more than signs of material progress.
Like our allies, we have grown worldly wise, and have come to view
the almighty dollar with a feeling akin to veneration. People
point, and with justice, to the tremendous social revolution of
the Restoration days; but where we have got rid of _daimyō_ and
_shōmyō_, of _hatamoto_ and _samurai_, have we not plutocrats and
bureaucrats as potent and unconscionable as the most tyrannical
of the one-time feudal barons? The outcast pariahs--the _eta_--no
longer exist in law or name; but they exist in fact. The operatives
of the Ōsaka mills, the wretched human shambles of the prostitute
quarters, the sick and suffering poor--are these not social pariahs
and even worse? We miss the sternly martial virtue of the days of
yore; the unbending dignity of the true, the real _Yamato-damashii_
(the spirit of Japanese chivalry).... Never were bribery and
corruption more rife: the whole machinery of the State is suffering
from this dry-rot; and even those who are called upon to set the
country an example have their price. Nepotism is taking the place
of clannish interdependence. One’s fortunes are easily made if one
happens to be a ‘forty-second cousin’ of a favourite courtesan, a
popular _geisha_, or a spoiled mistress.”

“Irresponsible rhetoric,” the reader may think, and indulged in
the more freely because the writer chose to employ the English
tongue, which is yet unknown to the majority of his countrymen.
But these considerations do not apply to the official utterances
of an ex-Premier (Count Okuma) and his Minister of Education.
The former, who is not chary of autobiography, in a speech which
created some sensation confessed that as a young man he had been
too dazzled by the splendour of Western civilisation to appreciate
the seamy side of material progress, but recent experience of
popular movements and public affairs had convinced him that the
supreme need of all classes, if their prosperity were to continue,
was a return to the higher morality of the past. Mr. Hayashi,
who may be thought to have interpreted his duty of directing
national education too literally, put the matter in a nutshell.
“Let us suppose,” said he to a popular audience, “that Japan in
the course of a thousand years or so were to become a republic.
If the same Mammon-worship should exist then as exists now, it
is certain that the Vanderbilt or Jay Gould of the day would be
elected President.” Few nations care to be lectured in this way,
even by Ministers of Education. The result was a violent agitation,
fomented in the patriotic Press, which demanded the resignation
of one who could be so disloyal to his sovereign as to hint at a
possible republic ten centuries ahead. The rash moralist found
it expedient to resign. Assuming, however, as one is perhaps
entitled to assume, that the speaker had chiefly in mind the
venality of politicians, I doubt very much either the extent or
the heinousness of the evil denounced. Reduced to detail, the
charges amount to this: that electors and deputies have been known
to sell their votes and to advocate measures from which they have
made preparations to derive financial benefit. Such evils are
inseparable from the infancy of representative government, and
persist in veiled form in its maturity. The Unionist member of
the Salisbury-Chamberlain party who has been called upon to vote
successive bounties or remission of taxes to landed proprietors
and clerical tithe-payers is guilty of somewhat similar acts,
with this trifling difference: that instead of rewarding his
supporters with money from his own purse, he draws upon the State
treasury. It would not be surprising if Japanese politicians were
more openly corrupt than our own, for most of them take American
politics as the nearest and most friendly school of democracy--a
school where self-seeking is avowedly the first duty of a public
man, and where the prizes fall to the cleverest manipulator or
servitor of plutocratic trusts. But, as a matter of fact, neither
Tammany nor Panama is yet transplanted to the banks of Sumidagawa.
The laws aimed at electoral bribery are stringent and frequently
enforced. Accusations of corruption are invariably followed by
official inquiry. It is evident, then, that if the offender be
sometimes clever enough to evade discovery, at least public opinion
is neither cynical nor depraved. A stronger negative argument
is furnished by the fact that the Liberals and Progressives (as
the two anti-ministerial parties were called until the fusion in
1898), who had been excluded until that year from office, though
constituting on more than one occasion a majority in the Lower
House of the Diet, did not accuse the Ministers who launched Japan
on the sea of parliamentary government of either misgovernment
or dishonest finance. Nepotism was the sum and substance of
their complaint. The Chōshi men monopolised the chief posts in
the railway department, the Satsuma men held control of army and
navy: in a word, the ascendency of the pre-revolutionary clans
survived the revolution. But, when their own turn came in the
summer of 1898 to divide the spoils of office, to which they had
been summoned by the astuteness of Marquess Ito, prompt to cover
personal chagrin at his own defeat by advocacy of his opponents’
claims to Imperial recognition, the followers of Counts Okuma and
Itagaki found it impossible to reconcile the claims of contending
office-seekers. Indeed, so bitter did the dissensions become,
that the alliance was dissolved, and the first Ministry based
on a majority in the Lower House disbanded before the Diet met.
Power has since reverted to the same men, whose sagacity has made
Japan triumph alike over armed foes and treaty-allies. Seeing
that no more than eight per cent. of the population have votes,
participation in home politics is confined to a comparatively
small circle; and not to all of them, since most of the merchants
with whom I conversed on the subject were content to leave their
interests in the hands of the authorities, and expressed great
resentment at the action of the _sōshi_ or professional agitators
employed by politicians to cajole or threaten a constituency. It
is inevitable at present that place and power should be the goal
of all parties, and that politics should present the aspect of a
scramble for office. There is no dividing-line between political
parties, as elsewhere. No one desires to return to the feudal
_régime_, or to tamper with the Constitution, or to limit the royal
prerogative. In the face of national danger it is easy for all
parties to unite, since nothing divides them but such questions
as the incidence of taxation and the distribution of posts.
In the course of time, should the last vestige of acquiescent
docility on the part of the toilers be swept away, the industrial
sphinx will pose its question to the Japanese as to all other
modern communities; the rich will be ranged against the poor,
the socialist against the conservative. But, as things are now,
even the loss of diplomatic prestige occasioned by the triumph of
Russia in Manchuria, of which the blame cannot justly be assigned
to isolated Japan, is counterbalanced by the careful development
of military and commercial resources which would seem the crowning
duty of the Emperor’s advisers. The increasing prosperity of the
country is the best answer to malevolent critics, and, if the
charge of spiritual decadence in politics is to be sustained,
weightier evidence must be produced than the writer has been able
to discover.

Well, I have taken a bird’s-eye view of the Japanese as they appear
to the resident alien, because his protesting voice is generally
drowned in the joyful ejaculations of passing travellers. I have
put aside for the moment my own prepossessions, which were only
strengthened by intercourse with natives of every class, in order
that the dark side of the shield might not be veiled. Dishonest
traders aided by tortuous enactments, and mistrustful teachers
suspicious of Western propaganda, insubordinate inferiors and
incompetent officials--all these constitute grave stumbling-blocks
to happiness; But it would not be fair to ignore the facts which
promise a brighter future. There are many firms whose integrity
is unquestioned, many journalists who try to stem the current of
national misunderstanding by sagacious counsel. Experience and
fuller knowledge are sure to prove wholesome correctives. The
anti-foreign bias, though real and formidable, is based on the fear
of half-understood eventualities. Closer intercourse and wider
education will cause wisdom to spread down from the rulers to the
ruled, who are not yet on familiar terms with our conceptions of
trade and government.

It is to be hoped, when the nation feels thoroughly at home
in its new house, equipped from garret to cellar with the
latest improvements and occupied by a tenant-proprietor whom no
conceivable machination of jealous neighbours can dislodge, that
even the foreign lodger will be permitted to exercise his calling
without the slightest hindrance or disability.

So much for the world behind the scenes, of which a glimpse has
been vouchsafed to the reader. It will be seen that those who
sustain _rôles_ in the daintiest of comediettas are also cast for
a problem-play; that they are no more exempt from envy, hatred,
and vanity than other sensitive artists; that their professional
dislike to alien amateurs, who add insult to injury by expecting
the deference due to higher national status while competing for
the pence and plaudits of the same public, is very human and not
without excuse; that, in spite of these infirmities, they may be
industrious bread-winners and excellent performers. After all, the
proper place for sightseers is the front of the house. Let us go
there, and forget the intrigues of the green-room, in which we have
happily no concern. We have come many miles to witness the play;
let us give it undivided attention.



NOTE TO “BEHIND THE SCENES.” CASSANDRA JUSTIFIED?


Though time and space had so muffled the protesting shrieks of
Cassandra that I could no longer hear her whirling prophecies or
follow her sorry fortunes from day to day in the chivalrous Press
of the treaty-ports, I never lost interest or sympathy in her
loudly predicted future. I would picture her borne with streaming
eyes and hair from her extra-territorial temple; I would ask myself
whether she had yet been borne off into bondage unspeakable by
some Japanese Agamemnon. News travels slowly, and I was forced
to content myself with the most meagre reports, when one day
came a letter with the Yokohama postmark, in which the writer
took exception to some statements made by me in a lecture to the
Playgoers’ Club on the subject of Japanese theatres, and improved
the occasion by despatching much irrelevant information on the
subject of Japanese iniquity. I owe a heavy debt of gratitude to
Mr. F. Schroeder, the editor and proprietor of _The Eastern World_,
for those letters and pamphlets. They assure me of the welcome fact
that Cassandra is alive and free, and protesting more loudly than
ever. I gladly give publicity to the incidents and speculations
recorded in them, for, while they seem to justify honest
apprehension on the part of Cassandra’s friends, they also contain
indications that Agamemnon is by no means so subject to Thersites
as the foes of Far Eastern democracy would have us believe.

The question which raises most speculation, on account of the
uncertainty of the law to be applied, is also the most important.
It concerns leasehold. Hitherto foreigners had supposed themselves
to hold land under a perpetual lease on payment of a lump sum to
the vendor and of annual ground-rent to the Government. But, when a
recent application was made to the local court in Yokohama for the
registration of the transfer of property so held from one British
subject to another, the Court replied that it had no power to
register such a transfer, offering instead to describe the property
as a perpetual superficies. The offer was refused and the point
submitted to the British Minister. If it should be decided that
the foreign owner is no more than a superficiary, the ground at a
distance of more than thirty feet below the surface tacitly reverts
to the Government, which of course would have the right to sell it
for mining purposes, for the construction of tunnels or reservoirs
or what not, provided that the surface were neither entered nor
broken. A change so radical in the conditions of holding land,
which the purchaser may thus have acquired under a misapprehension,
is serious enough, but more serious still will be its effect on
future purchasers. By the newly codified law authorisation is
refused to leases of longer than twenty years’ duration. What
foreign firm, desirous of a permanent footing on Japanese soil,
would erect buildings and establish itself on land liable to be
resumed by the owner at the end of so short a period? How easy for
native traders under such circumstances to strangle or arrest the
business of alien competitors! Should a score of years demonstrate
the growth of too successful rivalry, they have merely to bring
such pressure to bear on the lessor as would prevent renewal of the
lease.

The _Tamba Maru_ case, which originated in a somewhat ignoble
squabble between the English third officer and the Japanese
quartermaster of a Nippon Yusen Kwaisha steamer, assumes quite
Homeric proportions in the pages of an _Eastern World_ brochure. It
certainly affords food for reflection on the methods of Oriental
justice when racial prejudice intervenes, but the sequel shows
that in Japan at any rate an appeal lies from prejudiced judges
and partial witnesses to substantial wisdom and common-sense in
high places. The facts are few and stirring. Horace Robert Kent
had reported Umeseko Toyomatsu for smoking while on duty. His
inexperienced eye had mistaken the glow of a jewel in the latter’s
ring for the glint of a cigarette. Fearful of losing his captain’s
good opinion and his place on board, the injured innocent invaded
the mate’s cabin with his cap on and flashed the exculpating jewel
in that officer’s face. Hand-to-hand scuffling ensued, of which
contradictory accounts are naturally given, with the result that
Toyomatsu received a black eye, was put in irons, and released at
once to mollify his comrades, while Mr. Kent was bitten five or
six times in the thigh and hidden by his prudent skipper from the
vengeance of the crew. Each brought a charge of assault against the
other. At the trial the evidence of eye-witnesses seems to have
been entirely eclipsed by the opinions of medical gentlemen, who
deserve the honours of the verdict. Dr. Sagara opined that a black
eye (the organ not even being closed up) would prevent a sailor
from work for more than twenty days, and would take from three to
four weeks to heal completely; Dr. Fujise compared the wounds in
the thigh of the third mate with the shape of the quartermaster’s
teeth, and found that they almost completely coincided, but was
still unable to assert that they were caused by biting. Sentences:
six months’ rigorous imprisonment for the Englishman, five days’
detention for the Japanese. The inequality of the punishments was
quickly remedied. The Tōkyō Court of Appeal quashed the decision of
the original tribunal, and reduced the sentence from six months’
imprisonment to ten days’ detention. I dwell at some length on
this trivial case of common assault for two reasons. First, it is
satisfactory to remark how promptly an excess of partial severity
was corrected; secondly, I feel sure that Mr. Kent is the only
foreigner on whom the evil foretold by Cassandra has fallen within
six months of the coming into operation of the treaties. Otherwise
I should have received other and more indignant pamphlet-homilies
on the baneful fulfilment of prophecy.

Finally, my informant calls attention to recent cases of official
bribery and corruption. He cites the name of Mr. Koyama Konosuke,
M.P., who was charged in Parliament with receiving a bribe of
2000 _yen_ from the Government of the day (1899), and who, so far
from denying it, sued in a court of law for the remainder of the
money due to him. Being called upon by his constituents to resign,
he replied with a threat of exposing implicated colleagues, and
apparently retained his seat. Both Houses of the Legislature would
seem to be tainted by similar practices, for _The Japan Mail_ (of
April 10, 1900) has a paragraph, headed “The Peers Scandal,” to the
following effect:

“It is now alleged that no less than twenty-four members of the
House of Peers are implicated in the bribery scandal connected with
the Religious Bill affair. Some of them are alleged to be desirous
of hushing up the matter, but their fellow-members insist that
something must be done to clear the reputation of the House. It is
impossible to tell how much truth there may be in these rumours.”

It is obviously “impossible” for a foreigner to collect such proofs
of corruption as would be good evidence in a court of law, nor, if
possible, would it be worth his while. The cry of _vendu_ is so
freely bandied by a factionist Press, that, remembering the famous
legend of a Dreyfus syndicate, one hesitates to pin faith on vague
paragraphs. Moreover, whatever foundation of fact underlie the
charges, it should be borne in mind that parliamentary government
has only existed for ten years, and it would not be reasonable to
expect in a decade those virtues which were of very slow growth
in our own Mother of Parliaments. Corruption at Pretoria or St.
Petersburg is no bar to “the sympathies of the civilised world”
(outside Anglo-Saxondom), and in any case these evils may safely
be left for correction to those whom they most immediately concern.
The Japanese Press is conscious of them, anxious to deal with them;
the laws are stringent enough, if difficult to enforce. One notes
them as a factor in Japanese politics to be neither exaggerated nor
ignored, and turns to consider less purely domestic matters.

Indirect confirmation of my impression that Christianity was losing
ground in the country is furnished by the elaborate report of the
American Board of Foreign Missions, of which the rose-coloured
conclusions at first sight suggest the contrary. Stress is laid,
for instance, on the fact that a prominent Christian was elected
to the present Diet by a majority of five to one in Buddhist
Kyōto; but there is nothing to show that the election turned on
doctrinal issues. One Japanese Christian was appointed “moral
teacher” in the Sugamo penitentiary, with the result that all the
rest, Buddhists by faith, resigned. Political reasons probably
caused this appointment, for Sugamo is the prison to which all
foreign delinquents will be sent under the new _régime_. The Board
complains of strong opposition to the teaching of the elements of
the Christian religion, not only in public but also in private
schools, centred in the Education Department, and attributes it to
widespread agnosticism, which, so far as it desires to conserve
Buddhist influence, does so for ulterior social and intellectual
ends. But I find the clearest proof of simultaneous success and
failure in the admission that Christianity maintains its hold
by practical philanthropy. Schools for neglected and criminal
children, schemes for relieving discharged prisoners, benevolent
works of all kinds, are promoted and carried out by Christians.
Of goodness of this sort the kind-hearted Japanese are thoroughly
appreciative, but it is the works, not the faith, which they
admire. Holders of all creeds, or of none, must sympathise with
this aspect of missionary effort; but it results, and perhaps
happily, in a closer union of hearts than of minds.

I conclude with a quotation from the _Jiji_, one of the most
influential Tōkyō papers--a quotation which speaks for itself and
accords with the sorrowful vaticinations of Cassandra:

“_Decrease in the Number of Foreign Residents._--Quite contrary to
expectations, there seems to be a gradual reduction in the number
of foreigners residing in Yokohama, where they are more numerous
than in any other part of the country. It is anticipated that the
statistics will perhaps show some reduction for two or three years.
The reason is supposed to be: (1) foreigners prefer Hongkong or
Shanghai to Japan, owing to the difficulty of finding opportunities
for gaining as large profits as formerly; and (2) their
unfamiliarity with the Japanese law, which imposes undue restraint
upon their movements. As a matter of fact, they have been surprised
by the imposition of heavy taxes of various kinds, never dreamt of
previously. Moreover, in consequence of the coming into operation
of the new tariff, they have been deprived of their profits on
certain kinds of goods, such as liquors, cigars, &c. This is shown
by the circumstance that the foreign merchants who have given up or
are going to give up business are mostly dealers in these goods.
In future foreigners who may be induced to come to this part of
the world can only be, in consequence of the operation of the new
treaties, those who have other objects than business and who will
take the place of the present residents, who will certainly leave
in the near future.”



RELIGIOUS PLAYS



RELIGIOUS PLAYS


The traveller who witnesses a “_Nō_ Dance,” hastily improvised
for his amusement at the Maple Club of Tōkyō, or who chances
upon a pantomimic duologue in grotesque costume, rendered on
a rough platform to divert the crowd before a temple at the
_matsuri_--half fair, half festival--can really form no idea of
the exquisite little dramas which for more than five centuries
have been performed privately in the houses of Japanese nobles
and are still enacted at rare intervals to an invited audience.
The common term “_Nō_ Dance” is rather misleading, since it only
suggests the rhythmic posturing of the characters--very graceful,
it is true, and pregnant with meaning for the initiated--but
ignores other factors, such as the words, the story, and the music,
which contribute quite as memorably to the total effect. Operetta
will not do, since the choric strains, which stimulate attention
and intensify emotion with their staccato accompaniment, are
subordinate throughout. If, then, that may be styled a play which
revolves on a single episode and relates to no more than three or
four persons, a very close parallel lies between these and the
religious plays of Europe. In both you find the same reverence for
the past, dictating the devout demeanour of actors and audience;
in both a minute traditional interpretation, governing the diction,
the action, and the dress; in both a perpetual association of the
scenes depicted with sacred legends and the spirit world. But
whereas Christianity yields one and the same drama, once in a
decade, to the peasants of Oberammergau, the Shintōist Pantheon,
sanctifying national history and full of deified heroes, appeals to
both patriotic and religious instincts through the medium of an art
sometimes immature but always refined.

The roots of this musical pantomime reach far back into
mythological times. The figure of the Terrible Female of Heaven,
stamping on an inverted tub to startle the Sun Goddess from her
cave, is generally invoked on the threshold of inquiries into the
origin of _Kagura_, or temple-dancing. Grotesque and venerable,
it is not illuminating. More startling to me is the statement
of a modern authority that “in the eighth century, in the later
period of the Nara dynasty and at the beginning of the Heian
period, combining the Korean and the Chinese music with the
native, a certain perfect form of Japanese music came to exist.”
To comprehend this “perfect music,” as rendered on drum, fife, and
flute, esoteric education is required. But it may be admitted that
certain Wagnerian effects of terror and suspense and tumultuous
agitation are thumped and wailed into the auditor, while his ocular
attention is absorbed by deliberate phantoms. Very deliberate are
the phantom dancers, whether their theme be simple or complex.
On the dancing stages at the Shintō temples of Ise and of Omi,
on the four platforms of the Kasuga Temple at Nara, the subject
was naturally mythological or had relation to the temple’s own
history. Such songs as went with the dance were simple, short, and
primitive. They would be heard at Court ceremonies, too, for the
union of Church and State was close. They were sung by members of
privileged families, who guarded and transmitted from father to son
the professional secrets of their “perfect music.”

However, the beginning of the Ashikaga period in the fourteenth
century saw the corruption and development of a perfect
germ into complex variety. Both sacred and secular rivalry
contributed to this result. The _Biwa-hōshi_, blind priests and
lute-players, who went from castle to castle of the Daimyōs,
singing _Heike-monogatari_, historical romances of warlike
quality in prose and verse, opened new vistas of subject-matter,
while _Shirabyōshi_, the refined and cultivated precursor of the
comparatively modern geisha, extended both the scope and the
significance of posture-dancing. The _Kioku-mai_, or memory-dance,
came into vogue, being characterised by closer co-ordination
of music and movement, while the accompanying song would often
celebrate a romantic episode or a famous landscape. Many of these
songs survive, embedded in the chorus of _Nō_ texts; in fact, they
may be regarded as the nucleus of _Nō_ drama.

The Muromachi Shōgunate witnessed the final transition from dance
to drama, recitative and singing speeches and _dramatis personæ_
being superadded to the chorus. Kiyotsugu (who died in 1406) and
his son Motokiyo (who died in 1455) are generally credited with
this development. They belonged to the Yusaki family--one of the
four families who exercised hereditary management of the Nara
stage. They held a small estate, and succeeded in winning the
Shōgun’s patronage for their _Sarugaku_ or _Nō_, which became
extremely popular at Court. Naturally enough, the choric songs
became panegyrics of the reigning Shōgun, and helped to embellish
his Court pageants.

It is not believed that the actor-manager did more than prepare
and conduct the _Nō_, in which music and dancing were still the
chief features. The author was contented to remain anonymous,
and that for good reasons. Intellectual light shone mostly in
the monasteries during that dark age of feudal fighting. If the
Buddhist monk could make of this aristocratic amusement a vehicle
for Buddhist teaching, individual obscurity was a small price
to pay for corporate influence. Therefore, while it cannot be
stated as a fact that the famous priests Ikkiu and Shiuran wrote
the finest _Nō_ poetry, it is certain that _yurei_ or ghosts
and Buddhist exorcisers became very common characters on the
_Nō_ boards, while the chorus betrayed (as I am told) “many deep
conceptions of mystic religion.” What higher compliment has ever
been paid to art, dramatic or pictorial, than the struggles of
priests and politicians to wield its influence? There is something
pathetic in this aspect of the rivalry for Terpsichore’s hand. At
first she wore the red trousers of a Shintō priestess and was wooed
by the Mikado. Then the Shōgun came, a strong man armed, and with
him she danced into the Buddhist camp.

The sixteenth century gave the final touch to this musical drama,
which approximated more and more to secular plays without ever
entirely losing its official character. The ghosts faded out, the
Buddhist influence grew less marked, for it had to traverse the
tyranny of Nobunaga, who patronised Christianity and destroyed the
monasteries of Hiei-zan. But henceforward, as an aristocratic
institution, the _Nō_ was to retain its popularity, though since
the sixteenth century none have been written. A programme is
still extant on which the two greatest names in Japanese history,
those of Hideyoshi and Iyeyasu, star the list of performers. The
actors were treated as _samurai_, military retainers, though the
performers in popular _shibai_ (theatres) were held in contempt.
In the latest specimens knighthood is the invariable theme, set to
more various music and illustrated by more violent posturing.

Throughout the Tokugawa era (1602-1868) every Daimyō who could
afford it maintained a troupe of _Nō_ players to reproduce for his
edification the thoughts and habits of mediæval art. Old costumes,
old masks, old music were faithfully preserved; no innovation of
text or interpretation was allowed by the hereditary custodians and
directors. And since the shock of the Restoration a reaction has
set in, favouring their revival.

At present there are in Tōkyō six troupes of _Nō_ players, with
a _répertoire_ of from two to three hundred plays. These retain
so firm a hold on cultured conservatives--the younger generation
finds them slow--that Mr. Matsumoto Keichi, one of the leading
publishers, is now issuing a series of one hundred and eighty-three
illustrative colour prints--_Nō no ye_--whose fine drawing and
delicately blent hues are as superior to the flamboyant aniline
horror by which the Nihon-bashi print-seller advertises the newest
blood-and-thunder melodrama as that itself is inferior to the
aristocratically-nurtured _Nō_. Reproduced as faithfully as may
be, the pictures of Mr. Kogyo will, I hope, impress the reader
with the archaic simplicity and beauty of the original design,
provided that he have the gift of sympathetic intuition, so as
to divine what tale of terror, what burden of grief, obscure to
him, is yet manifest enough behind quaint mask and rigid gesture
to the heirs of national hagiology. The solemnity and pathos of
each dramatised incident in the life of hero or saint is emphasised
by the time-honoured locutions of mediæval Japanese, which of
course convey by mere association, as Elizabethan English to us,
the tone and atmosphere of dead centuries. Yet, independently
of the musical old speech, so cumbrous and so courteous, it is
impossible to miss the meaning of these tiny tragedies, enacted
as they are by instinctive masters of gesticular eloquence. The
writer was particularly fortunate in gaining admission to a series
of _Nō_ produced by the Umewaka company or society, which has this
advantage over the other five organisations, diverging on points of
textual accuracy and stage ritual, that it traces unbroken descent
through its chief from the Kanza school of music appertaining to
the Yusaki family of Nara. When Commodore Perry forced open the
door of the East in 1854, hitherto closed for more than two hundred
years to Western barbarians, Mr. Umewaka captained a little band of
_Nō_ players attached to the then all-powerful household of Keiki,
the last of the Tokugawa Shōguns.

Then followed bloody civil war, the bombardment of Kago-shima
and Shimonoseki, and the restoration of the Emperor to supreme
power. The ex-Shōgun immured himself, a private gentleman, in
strict seclusion. His company of players was of course disbanded,
but little by little, from rare representations in the houses of
friends to more frequent revivals, consequent on growing fame,
their erudite and enthusiastic chief was able to found his
present very flourishing society. One gentleman, an ex-Daimyō,
presented the troupe with a large stage of polished pine from his
dismantled castle; a second contributed a priceless store of plays
in manuscript; Mr. Umewaka himself brought the best gift of all,
profound and practical knowledge of the stage technique, which is
curiously elaborate in spite of seeming simplicity, and bristles
with professional secrets. The orchestra consisted on this occasion
of a flute and two _taiko_, drums shaped like a sand-glass and
rapped smartly with the open palm. At irregular intervals, timed no
doubt by the exigencies of the text, the musicians emitted a series
of staccato cries or wailing notes, which seemed to punctuate the
passion of the player and insensibly tightened the tension of the
auditor’s nerves. In two rows of three on the right of the stage
sat the chorus, six most “reverend signiors” in the stiff costume
of Samurai, who intervened now and again with voice and fan, the
manipulation of the latter varying with the quality of the strains
assigned to the singers. In placid moments the fan would sway
gently to and fro, rocked on the waves of quasi-Gregorian chanting,
but, when blows fell or apparitions rose, it was planted, menacing
and erect, like a danger-signal before the choralist’s cushion. The
musicians were seated on low stools at the back of the stage before
a long screen of conventional design, in which green pines trailed
across a gold ground, harmonising admirably with the sober blues
and browns of their _kimono_.

A glance at the programme gave assurance of prolonged and varied
entertainment, since no less than five religious plays and three
_kiōgen_ (lit. mad words), or farcical interludes, were announced
in the following order:

  1. _Shunkwan_, the High-Priest in Exile.
  2. _Koi no Omone_, the Burden of Love.
  3. _Aoi no Uye_, the Sick Wife.
  4. _Funa Benkei_, Benkei at Sea.
  5. _Tsuchigumo_, the Earth-Spider.

                 _Kiōgen._
  1. _Kitsune-Tsuki_, Possession by Foxes.
  2. _Roku Jizō_, the Six Jizō.
  3. _Fukuro Yamabusshi_, the Owl-Priest.

By an hour before noon the audience, seated on cushions in little
pews holding four or six persons, had composed itself to that air
of thoughtful anticipation which I had hitherto associated with
devotees of Ibsen or Wagner. Many peered through gold spectacles at
the copies of the antique text, whose phraseology was not without
difficulties even for the scholars and artists present; the women’s
faces were far graver and more thoughtful than one usually sees
in the land of laughing _musumé_; the prevailing grey and black
worn by women and men suffered sporadic invasions of bright colour
wherever you saw children settling, like human butterflies. For
these, though their ears availed them little, could follow with
wondering eyes the strange succession of gorgeous or terrible
figures--warriors and spectres and court-ladies--evoked for their
delight.

[Illustration: Shunkwan in exile.]

The story of Shunkwan, however, was quite devoid of spectacular
appeal. Exiled in 1177 with other rebellious priests by Kiyomori,
the ruthless Taira chief, to Devil’s Island (Kikai-gashima), he is
discovered celebrating with his companions an oblation to Kumano
Gongen and praying for speedy restitution to his fatherland.
Pitiful indeed is the case of these banished suppliants, who wear
the blue-and-white hempen skirts of fishermen and whose penury
is such that they are obliged to bring the god water instead of
_saké_, sand instead of rice, and hempen fetters instead of white
prayer-cord. Kumano Gongen hears and answers their petition. An
imperial messenger arrives from Kyōto with a letter from the
daughter of Shunkwan, announcing that the Son of Heaven, Lord of
the Land of the Rising Sun, has been graciously pleased to recall
his erring subjects, pardoning their offences and inviting their
prayers for an expected heir to the throne. Beaming with grateful
joy, the old man now scans the imperial mandate more closely,
only to find that his own name is omitted from the list of those
forgiven. Yasugori and Moritsuné will be taken, but he, Shunkwan,
must be left. In vain do his fellow-exiles lament and protest; all
know that the Son of Heaven’s decree must be obeyed to the letter.
Accordingly, the others embark, while their disappointed chief
falls, speechless and hopeless, on the shore. A simple, poignant
story! So touchingly interpreted, that the primitive and even
ludicrous makeshifts of the mounting seemed hardly incongruous! The
mooring and unmooring of the boat, for which the crudest parody in
outline of rope and wood did duty, and the final embarkation (as
represented in the picture) were gravely accomplished in complete
immunity from ill-timed laughter; the messenger’s grotesque
_hakama_, elongated trousers, trailing a good yard behind the feet,
that the wearer might seem to walk on his knees while about his
master’s business, provoked no smile; in fact, any trivial details
and defects were swallowed up in the prodigious earnestness of the
actors. The part of Shunkwan was played by Mr. Umewaka himself with
much pathos, depending entirely on tone, carriage, and gesture,
since all facial expression is barred by the strict convention of
playing the _Nō_ in masks. While the presentation of spectres and
supernatural beings must be facilitated by this custom, since many
of the masks are masterpieces of imaginative skill, yet, where the
interest is purely human, that illusion at which all drama aims is
proportionately diminished.

Now came the children’s turn to laugh at the first of the _kiōgen_,
entitled _Kitsune Tsuki_, “Possession by foxes.” Most of the
comical interludes deal with rustic stupidity or cunning, and all
refer in some way to religious belief or practice. If one may
judge by the ubiquity of his images, the fox is the most sacred
animal in Japan. No shrines are so numerous as those of Inari,
the rice-goddess, and before each stand two white foxes, with
snarling lips and teeth clenched on a mysterious golden object,
which completely baffled the curiosity of M. Loti, though later
writers declare it to be no more than a key, symbolising the
portal of wealth unlocked by divine favour. But Inari herself is
completely eclipsed in popular awe by her attendant foxes. It is
they who, if not propitiated, ruin the rice crop; they who have
the power, like the werewolf, of assuming human shape and of
“possessing” unfortunate beings, whose only chance of delivery lies
in exorcism by a priest. In the case of the _kiōgen_ now presented
this superstition had been turned to comical use. We learned that
Farmer Tanaka had sent two of his men into the fields with rattles
to scare away birds, laying on them many injunctions to beware of
the dæmonic fox, Kitsune, whose exploits had lately made him the
terror of that neighbourhood. The warning is but too effectual.
So full are the watchers’ minds of the dread of fox-possession,
that, when their master appears with a jug of _saké_ in his hand
as a reward and refreshment after labour, they believe him to
be Kitsune, the tempter, and thrash him soundly out of his own
rice-field!

Some have asserted that love, the romantic and chivalrous love of
Western literature, is absent alike from the art and letters of
Japan. Nevertheless, what could be more romantic than the title
and plot of the play, attributed to the Emperor Gohanazono though
signed by Motokiyo--“Koi no Omoni,” “The Burden of Love”? The
lover is Yamashina Shoji, an old man of high birth, but miserably
poor, to whom out of charity has been entrusted the tending of the
Emperor’s chrysanthemums. A court-lady, seen by chance one day as
he raised his head from the flowers, inspires a passion which he
feels to be beyond hope or cure. He confides his unhappiness to
one of the courtiers, who counsels him to carry a burden round
and round the garden many times, until, haply, the lady “seeing,
may relent.” This he does. At first the burden seems light as
air, being buoyantly borne, but gradually it grows heavier and
heavier, until at last he staggers to the ground, crushed to death
by unavailing love. Soon after his ghost appears, a melancholy
spectre with long white hair and gown of silver-grey, with
wattled staff and eyes of hollow gold. At this point all chivalry
certainly vanishes, for the angry apparition stamps and glares,
and, shaking locks and staff, stoutly chides the beauty for her
callous cruelty. The lady does not once intervene, but throughout
the piece sits motionless, a figure rather than a person, her eyes
fixed on the burden itself, as it lies, concrete and symbolic,
wrapped in apple-green brocade, near the front-centre of the
stage. This inclusion of a significant silent object among the
_dramatis personæ_ is curiously effective. The sight of Yamashina
tottering beneath a physical weight would have made clumsy prose of
a beautiful poetic truth. His feelings are better conveyed by the
dirge-like song and lugubrious posturing, which poverty of language
compels one to miscall a “dance.” Full of dignity and fine gesture
is the ghost’s rebuke. Slowly revolving on his heels, or tossing
back his streaming, silvery hair, now dashing his staff upon the
ground, now raising his _kimono_ sleeve slowly to hide his face,
one felt that this weird figure was expressing elemental passion in
a language more elemental than speech. I cannot say as much for the
lady, whose coronet of thin gold with silver crescent in front and
pendent pagoda-bells on either side, surmounting a mask of singular
ugliness, seemed the fantastic headpiece of a crude idol very
foolishly idealised. But it served to illustrate, with an irony
which the imperial author had not intended, the so grievous “burden
of love.”

Kyōto court-life of the twelfth century, painted for posterity in
the famous, interminable pages of “Genji Monogatari,” one of the
oldest achievements of the lady-novelist, has found less tedious
and equally faithful presentment in such dramatic miniatures as
“Aoi no Uye,” Prince Genji’s long-suffering wife. Jealousy is the
keynote of this lyrical play--that insatiable, self-torturing
jealousy which is the hardest of demons to expel. Again I noticed
a piece of curious, silent symbolism. The poor, demoniac wife, who
gives her name to the play, does not appear, either as person or
figure: in her stead a long strip of folded brocade, suggesting
a bed of sickness, lies immediately behind the footlights. Thus,
though sub-conscious of her entity, the spectator is compelled to
focus all attention on the apparition, which takes double form.
First comes the spirit of the Princess Rokujo, who takes vengeance
on her false lover (Genji is the Don Juan of Japan) by haunting
the helpless Aoi in the shape of a pale wailing woman. A _miko_,
or Shintō priestess, is summoned to exorcise the intruder. In vain
she rubs her green rosary, muttering fervid prayers: the spirit
wails more loudly, more intolerably, and only yields at last to
the fiercer spells and rougher wrestling of soul with soul on the
part of a mountain-priest. But his victory is short-lived, for a
terrible phantom, the Devil of Jealousy, wearing the famous Hanja
mask, replaces Rokujo. Inch by inch the priest falls back, as the
grinning demon with gilt horns and pointed ears slowly unveiled
from a shroudlike hood glides forward to smite him with menacing
crutch. To and fro the battle rages beside the prostrate Aoi no
Uye; neither holy man nor devil will give way; the screaming and
shrill fifing of the musicians rise to frenzied pitch; adjuration
succeeds adjuration, until the evil spirit is finally driven away.
Nothing can exceed the realism of this scene, so masterfully played
that the hardiest agnostic must be indeed fancy-proof if he cannot
feel something of the awe inspired into believers by this terrific
duel. Moreover, this is exactly the sort of incident which exhibits
to the full extent of their potency the peculiar characteristics of
_Nō_ drama. What human face, however disguised and distorted, could
rival the malignant horror of a Japanese mask? What mincing and
gibing Mephistopheles could compare for a moment with the devilish
ingenuity and suspense of this posture-pantomime, with its endless
feints and threats and sallies and retreats? And how the anguish of
battle is enhanced by the “barbaric yawp” and sharp, intermittent
drum-taps, which excite without distracting the spell-bound
audience! So abrupt and discreet is the interjected cry of the
immobile musicians that one might easily take it for the defiant or
hortative outburst of an invisible spirit attracted to the ghostly
combat. Indeed, all that is wild and primitive in these _enfants
sauvages_ of Melpomene is chastened into harmony by the innate
sobriety of Japanese art. The creative instinct works within small
limits by small means, but with these means it contrives to project
on its tiny stage a vital suggestion of the largest issues. The
gods become marionettes for an hour, without wholly losing their
godhead.

Good-humoured drollery, of which the gods come in for a fair
share, is no more alien to the Japanese than it was to the Greek
temperament. And if one had to guess which divinity or divinities
are regarded with more affection than awe by such light-hearted
worshippers, one would certainly name the Rokujizō, or six Jizō.
While Buddha and Kwannon, Tenjin and Inari, dwell in small or
stately temples, augustly apart, the six Jizō sit sociably in a
row by the road-side or on the outskirts of a shrine, protected
(if protected at all) from the weather by a plain wooden shed. For
they belong to the class of open-air minor deities familiarly known
as “wet gods.” Yet they play a large part in the emotional life of
the people. Patrons of travellers, women, and children, they bear
the semblance of a shaven priest with benevolent countenance, whose
neck is generally encircled with a child’s bib of coloured wool,
while his hand holds an emblematic jewel, a lotus, a pilgrim’s
staff, an incense-box, a rosary, or sometimes an infant. In most
villages and near many schools will you find the six Jizō, for
the country people, loving their children, cherish the children’s
patron-saint with particular attachment. The amusing _kiōgen_ named
“Rokujizō” seemed to please the younger members of our audience
infinitely more than the romantic and spectral dramas which
preceded it. A pious farmer, anxious to attest his gratitude for a
good harvest, resolves to put up six Jizō effigies in his fields,
and, seeking a sculptor to carry out his design, falls in with a
knavish fellow who boasts that he can carve statues more quickly
than any one else in the world, and promises that the six shall be
finished by the following day. The bargain is concluded. Then the
pseudo-sculptor persuades three confederates to personate Jizō,
entrusting them with the jewel, the staff, and the other symbols.
As soon as they are well posed as living statuary, he brings the
farmer to admire them, and, pretending that the other three are at
the opposite end of the field, sends the extemporised gods by a
short cut to anticipate the buyer’s arrival. He, however, though
duly impressed, desires to see the first three again, and then
again the second three, until the impersonators, tired with running
backwards and forwards, forget what pose and what emblem to assume,
entirely destroying all illusion by their ridiculous perplexity.
The farmer discovers the trick, and administers a sound drubbing to
the fraudulent artist, while the Jizō make their escape. The humour
of this naturally depends on the “business” of the performers,
since no pretence is made to literary merit in the dialogue, which
is couched in colloquial Japanese of the same period as the lyrical
dramas themselves--that is, from the fourteenth to the sixteenth
century.

The most important, if not the most interesting, item in the
programme was a little historic play in two scenes, entitled “Funa
Benkei,” or “Benkei at Sea.” No figure in Japanese annals is so
popular as Benkei, the devil youth (_Oniwaka_), credited with
eight feet of stature, unless it be Yoshitsune, the valiant boy,
who vanquished the giant in single combat on Gojō Bridge in Kyōto,
and thus acquired a loyal and invincible henchman. The numberless
adventures in which Benkei by strength or cunning ensures the
success of Yoshitsune have been utilised again and again by
painters and playwrights. Unfortunately, the fruits of victory are
always snatched from Yoshitsune’s grasp by the jealous despotism
of his elder brother, Yoritomo, the terrible chief of the Minamoto
faction. When the play opens he is discovered with a handful of
faithful followers at Omono-no-ura, whither he has fled to escape
the machinations of his brother; but further progress is delayed by
the arrival of Shizuka, a beautiful geisha, who entreats permission
to bid him farewell. Benkei refuses to allow this, and asserts
that his master wishes her to return at once to Kamakura, the
capital, without an audience. But the girl will not believe that
her lover has sent so harsh a message, and insists on dancing once
more before him. Shizuka’s dance is very elaborate and beautiful,
though a little tedious for the European, who has not been trained
to appreciate the symbolic import of woven measure and waving
arm. At the outset a tall golden head-dress, in shape like an
elongated Phrygian cap, is carefully placed on her head. In this
she revolves and slowly, slowly expresses by that choregraphic
language--which the profane would take years to acquire--all her
passion and despair at losing her lover and lord. Yoshitsune,
deeply moved, gives her a _saké_ cup, as a sign that she may
carouse with him for the last time; but Benkei, sternly insensible
to dalliance, bids her withdraw and gives orders to set sail.

Once more the performers take their places in a primitive piece of
framework representing a boat, while the resources of orchestra and
helmsman are taxed to their utmost in the endeavour to simulate a
storm. The fife screams, the drums thunder, the steersman stamps
his foot, and suddenly out of the furious tempest rise grim
spectres with black, fleecy hair, gilt horns, and blood-stained
halberds. These are the ghosts of the Taira clan, slaughtered
by the Minamoto in a great sea-fight at Dan-no-ura, two years
before--a battle which might be termed the Bosworth Field of the
great civil war which devastated Japan in the latter half of the
twelfth century. Yoshitsune with youthful heat (he is always a boy
in the _Nō_ dramas) lunges at the phantoms and shouts his war-cry,
but Benkei (who adds the functions of a priest to his other
accomplishments) strikes down his sword, and, producing a rosary,
hurls a volley of exorcising prayers at the discomfited ghosts. As
always, the play ends in David’s deliverance from danger by the
resourcefulness of Goliath.

“Tsuchigumo,” the Earth-Spider, the last piece performed, is
founded on a curious legend, whose chief merit may be that it
affords excuse for a fantastic stage-picture. It seems that a band
of robbers, who lived in caves and were known by the nickname
of earth-spiders, were routed from their lairs and exterminated
by Kintaro, servant of Yoremitsu, whose valour was much enhanced
in popular estimation by the flattering rumour that the defeated
pests were not men at all, but a race of enormous demon-insects.
Accordingly, the climax of “Tsuchigumo” is a stirring encounter
between Imperial Guards, armed with swords and spears, and masked
monsters, who entangle their weapons and baffle their aim in a
cloud of long gauzy filaments, resembling the threads of a spider’s
web. The piece is pure pantomime, owing even less than usual to
music, incident, or poetic style. “The Owl-Priest,” the last of the
_kiōgen_, calls for no description.

[Illustration: Kintaro fights the Earth-spider.]

Such are the religious plays in their last phase of development,
the fruit of a religious revival on the part of archæologists and
patriots. They are a curious instance of wisely arrested growth.
Had they never passed the border-line of archaic dancing, their
interpreters would be a dwindling band of Shintō priestesses
to gaping peasants. Had they followed in the track of popular
drama, they might have been expanded to those loosely-knit and
blood-curdling tableaux which delight the shopkeeper. But, being
compressed within severe limits and addressed to none but educated
audiences, they present in exquisite epitome the literature, the
history, the musical and choregraphic art of mediæval Japan.
The foreigner derives from them an impression of the beliefs and
customs, the manners of speech and dress, the heroism and the
dignity, of feudal times. But to a native they convey far more than
this. “The _Nō_ poetry,” writes an enthusiast, “is like a great
store of the treasures of Eastern culture. It is full of allusions
to the classical stories of ‘Manyōshū’ and ‘Kokinshu,’ Chinese
poetry and Buddhist scriptures. Its chief characteristic is
colour. The words are gorgeous, splendid, and even magnificent,
as are the costumes.” But of their literary value, and how far
that value is enhanced or impaired by flying puns and prismatic
pillow-words, I cannot judge. The Buddhist authorship is very
obvious in the case of “Aoi no Uye,” for it will be noticed that,
where the _miko_, or Shintō priestess, failed to exorcise the Demon
of Jealousy, the priest of Buddha succeeded. But perhaps, in art of
this kind, so innocent of construction, so dependent on allusion,
it matters very little that the author should efface himself behind
the ideals advocated in his work. The _Nō_ are frankly didactic.
Piety, reverence, martial virtues are openly inculcated, though
never in such a way as to shock artistic sensibilities. Beauty and
taste go far to disguise all structural deficiencies.

But let us not apply to these the standard by which we judge mature
drama, demanding situation, character, plot, movement. Rather
compare them with the miracle-plays and mysteries of the Chester
or Coventry collection, which hover between scriptural tableaux
and Gothic farce of a peculiarly gross kind. There is no beauty
in those rhymed versions of “The Descent into Hell,” “Adam and
Eve,” or “The Temptation in the Wilderness.” The authors had such
small sense of decency and congruity, that after a serious attempt
to handle a solemn vision in “Pilate’s Wife’s Dream,” you are
confronted with this stage-direction: (“_Here shall the Devil go to
Pilate’s wife and draw the curtain, as she lieth in bed, but she,
soon after that he is come in, shall make a rueful noise, running
on the scaffold with her skirt and her kirtle in her hand, and she
shall come before Pilate like a mad woman._”) Imagine the wildest
of _kiōgen_ incidents invading a _Nō_! How shocked a Japanese
audience would have been! If the _Nō_ seem occasionally _naïf_ and
puerile, the gross _enfantillage_ of European miracle-plays none
but readers of them can believe. And, when we reach the tedious
“Moralities,” which coincided in this country with the advent of
the Protestant Tudors, and were therefore written a century later
than the best of the _Nō_, the palm of sacred drama for beauty,
interest, and pathos must still be awarded to the disciples of
Buddha. Could anything less human or less dramatic be imagined
than a cast of personified abstractions, bearing such names as
Good Counsel, Knowledge, Abominable Living, and God’s Merciful
Promises? We must console ourselves with the reflection that, when
once the stage had freed itself from ecclesiastical fetters, the
popular drama in England shot far ahead of popular drama in Japan.
No student of dramatic art could think for a moment of bracketing
Chikamatsu with Shakespeare.



POPULAR PLAYS



POPULAR PLAYS


I

Between the sacred opera of Tōkyō and the comic opera of London
the difference is so stupendous, that one shudders to reflect on
the unfortunate fact that English playgoers, until quite lately,
derived most of their ideas about Japan from “The Mikado” of Mr.
W. S. Gilbert and “The Geisha” of Mr. Owen Hall. In 1885 so little
was known about Japanese customs and characteristics, that the Bab
Balladist ran no risk of insulting the intelligence of his auditors
when he introduced his puppets with the words:

      “We are gentlemen of Japan,
      Our attitude’s queer and quaint;
      You’re wrong, if you think it ain’t.”

There was no one to tell him that his “gentlemen of Japan” were
not Japanese at all, but Chinamen without pigtails. The very
names--Pish-Tush, Nanki-Poo, Pitti-Sing--were redolent of China,
while Pooh-Bah, with his insatiable appetite for bribes, was
a typical mandarin. However, the author had picked up a real
war-song, tune and all (“Miyasama, miyasama”), and the Three Little
Maids from School giggled very prettily in their novel costumes.
Subsequent information throws a curious light on the misleading
characteristics of the Gilbert and Sullivan opera, enabling me
to acquit the producers of ignorance, but not of mystification.
I learn that the Japanese representative accredited to the Court
of St. James’s very naturally objected to the slight implied in
attaching the name of his imperial master to a frivolous and
ridiculous extravaganza. One would have thought that the most
obvious obligations of courtesy dictated a change of title and of
rank in the leading character. Instead, pains were taken to make
the action and demeanour of the performers so exaggerated that no
Japanese would recognise in them his fellow-countrymen, while the
British public, not being in the secret, was encouraged to suppose
the local colour as correct as was compatible with the exigencies
of such a piece.

Eleven years later came “The Geisha.” By this time Mr. Arthur Diosy
had founded the Japan Society, and gladly brought special knowledge
to the help of the management. The result was a very charming
and realistic picture, so far as externals were concerned. The
rickshaw-man and dapper policeman, the wistaria and chrysanthemum,
the frolicsome tea-house girls, might have been imported from
Yokohama. This author, too, had picked up a real native song (“Jon
kina, jon kina”), of which the associations were fortunately not
explained to the audience. But the plot of “The Geisha” was as
farcically untrue to life as that of “The Mikado.” And this time
some one was found to say so. An indignant Tōkyō journalist, who
happened to see the opera, thus commented on its import:

“The idea of Japan prevalent in foreign countries is thus
reflected:

      “Happy Japan,
        Garden of glitter!
      Flower and fan,
        Flutter and flitter;
      Lord of Bamboo,
        (Juvenile whacker!)
      Porcelain too,
        Tea-tray and lacquer!”

“Light-hearted friends of Japan find in these lines the most happy
features of the country, and overlook the gross injustice done in
the play to the Japanese nation. A Japanese chief of police is made
to proclaim publicly that superior authority exists in order to
satisfy the personal desires of its holder. Human souls are sold by
public auction, and a person may be found guilty, according to law,
after trial or before! I would not complain of these imputations,
or rather results of ignorance, creeping into a comic piece if it
were not patronised by those who think themselves good friends of
Japan, and if it were not illustrative of the way in which they
look at our country.”

At last, in September 1899, a serious romantic play, purporting
to represent Japanese life, was produced under the title of “The
Moonlight Blossom.” It was even more faithfully staged than the
comic operas. We now saw for the first time a Shintō priest,
a blind shampooer, and a temple with wooden _torii_ and stone
lanterns. The plot was compounded of Adelphi elements, familiar
enough, in spite of their flavouring from Liberty’s. You had the
good and bad brothers, the misunderstood heroine, the intriguing
widow, forged documents, secret meetings, attempted murder. You had
even the “comic relief” and cockney humour of a duel on stilts. But
Adelphi incidents would not have mattered so much (the Tōkyō drama
is mostly melodrama) if the author had avoided Adelphi psychology.
No Japanese woman indulges in the independence or the invective
of Naniwa. “What stupid owls men are!” might pass for a maidenly
jest in this country; never in that. If Arumo were truly a Nagasaki
priest, he would never condescend to solicit the advice and
affection of the other sex. The fatal substitution of Occidental
for Oriental particulars in “the way of a man with a maid” vitiated
Mr. Fernald’s claim to interpret Japanese romance. His men and
women lacked the dignity and severity of Eastern etiquette.

In adapting “Madame Butterfly,” a popular American story, for the
Anglo-Saxon stage, Mr. David Belasco was on far safer ground. Since
M. Pierre Loti set the fashion, many romancers have exploited the
pathos of temporary marriage between the faithless Westerner and
the trustful Oriental girl, but hitherto, in spite of the obvious
opportunities for scenic effect, the theme had not been handled by
a serious dramatist. Now, Mr. Belasco relies greatly, as all who
saw his version of “Zaza” will remember, on the electrician and the
limelight man. To them belongs the credit of the most exquisite and
typical episode in “Madame Butterfly.” As poor little O Chō San
sat patiently at her window, with her baby asleep beside her and
her face turned towards the harbour where lay the newly arrived
ship of her fickle lieutenant, for full twenty minutes there was
silence behind the footlights, while through the paper panes of
the _shōji_ could be seen the transition of dusk to darkness,
of darkness to twilight, of dawn to day. All the poetry of the
play was in those twenty minutes, and a great deal of its truth.
Devotion and dumb endurance are more characteristic, I think, of
such a woman than the melodramatic suicide which touched so many of
her audience to tears. If a competent musician had co-operated with
the stage-manager to give us a play without words in the manner of
“L’Enfant Prodigue,” I should have been better pleased, for the
strange “broken American” jargon and the silly monotonous song
which Miss Evelyn Millard had to say and sing, though legitimate
enough, were tiresomely out of harmony with the grace and beauty
of her movements, her looks, her costume. An extraordinary lapse
of taste was that which permitted the dying heroine to wave the
star-spangled banner in her child’s face. But most of all I doubt
the verisimilitude of the alleged motive for self-destruction.
Sometimes Madame Chrysanthème counts her money and feels rather
relieved when her foreign lover sails away; sometimes she regrets
him with genuine sorrow, and might conceivably put an end to her
life if confronted with the alternative of an odious match. But
what she would not do is what Madame Butterfly does--namely,
consider that she had suffered a dishonour expiable only by
death. The Western sentiment of honour is out of place in such
a connection, for she had been party with open eyes to a legal,
extra-marital contract, sanctioned by usage and arranged by her
relations. The infidelity of her partner might wound her heart; it
could not strike her conscience.

After many more or less accurate adumbrations of Japanese life on
the boards of London theatres, at last, in the spring of 1900, came
“The celebrated Japanese Court Company from Tōkyō,” of which the
leading stars, Mr. Otojiro Kawakami and Madame Sada Yacco, were
freely described as the Henry Irving and Ellen Terry of the Far
East. Most of the critics, expecting too much and understanding
too little, went empty away, or if they derived any pleasure from
the entertainment, derived it from purely æsthetic and undramatic
qualities. For a week the stars shone on empty benches; but then
the fashionable and artistic public, which has a habit of ignoring
the professional critic, became aware of the fact that a miniature
comedy and tragedy of rare delicacy and charm, as _naïf_ as they
were beautiful, could be seen, and seen only for a few afternoons,
in the prosaic neighbourhood of Notting Hill. Success was assured,
and we are promised a return visit in the autumn. But the critics
were partly justified in their cold reception of alien art. They
had come for drama and been put off with pantomime. “If this be
Japanese drama,” they said, “a little of it goes a long way. We
have had enough.” Had they been given drama as it is played in
Tōkyō, with long, irrelevant scenes and a plot requiring four hours
to unravel, how much more discontented they would have been!

[Illustration:

MADAME SADA YACCO (_p. 67_)

MR. OBOJIRO KAWAKAMI (_p. 67_)]

[Illustration:

MR. DANJURO AS “LADY OF KASUGA” (_p. 87_)

MR. DANJURO AS “JIRAIYA” (_p. 262_)

FAMOUS JAPANESE PLAYERS]

It is a pity that the advertising note was pitched too high. Good
wine needed less bush. There is no “Japanese Court Company,” but
his Majesty the Emperor was once present at a performance by Mr.
Kawakami during a garden-party in the grounds of the Marquis
Kuroda. Mr. Kawakami is certainly not the “Henry Irving of Japan,”
for that title, whatever be its precise meaning, belongs rather
to Ichikawa Danjuro, associated for more than half a century with
the impersonation of historical and mythical heroes. But he holds
a high and honourable position among actors of the _sōshi_ school,
as they are called--a school which bears some resemblance to
the Théâtre Libre or the Théâtre de l’Œuvre. The _sōshi_ were
students, desirous of reforming and modernising the conservative
traditions of their stage, and Mr. Kawakami’s contributions to the
movement consisted of two plays: a realistic piece, founded on the
war with China, which brought him great profit and renown, and an
adaptation of “Round the World in Eighty Days.” As an actor he is
certainly free from the painful mannerisms of the older generation:
his elocution is more even, his action more quiet and sudden, his
facial expression less exaggerated. As for Sada Yacco, who braved
the public opinion of her countrywomen by being the first of her
sex to act in company with masculine comrades, her presence would
be an acquisition to any stage. Until three years ago she was a
geisha, and thus combines with much physical attraction of voice
and face the secret of supremely graceful movement. Her dances were
revelations of the witchery of Salome’s art. Her histrionic powers
are not less remarkable.

The pieces selected for representation were of course wholly
Japanese in subject and sentiment, but, being greatly modified
to suit the supposed infirmities of foreign playgoers, they
scarcely gave a correct impression of the average Japanese play.
To begin with, that the sound of a strange language might not grow
wearisome, the dialogue was ruthlessly cut and curtailed; next,
as much dancing as possible was introduced, so that the _damari_,
or pantomimic scene, which in Tōkyō is more or less of the
nature of “comic relief,” sandwiched between exciting incidents,
almost became the staple of the play. Finally, the co-incidental
music, which strikes so oddly on European ears, was kept within
wise limits. But, so far from blaming Mr. Kawakami for these
alterations, it is evident that he erred on the right side, and
that we should thank him for lopping away several excrescences
which disfigure the drama of his native land.

“Zingoro, an Earnest Statue Carver,” narrates the pretty legend
of Pygmalion and Galatea, with the addition of a jealous wife.
Galatea is a famous geisha, of whom Zingoro carves a statue and
falls in love with his own handiwork. The transformation from
wood to womanhood is familiar; one has seen it in “Niobe,” in “La
Poupée,” in “Pygmalion and Galatea,” but here it is accomplished
by a fanciful piece of satire. “Mirror is the spirit of woman,”
says the proverb, and the sculptor has merely to slip a _kagami_
into the bosom of his feminine figure, whom vanity at once stirs
to life. Zingoro’s delighted astonishment and the doll’s awakening
consciousness are vividly portrayed, culminating in a mimetic
dance, in which Galatea copies all her maker’s movements. But the
climax is reached when the jealous wife enters, and, seeking to
reach her rival, is arrested by the simultaneous animation of the
God of Thunder, the Carpenter, the Spearman, and the Dwarf, who had
up to that moment remained so motionless that most of the audience
believed them to be lay-figures. I fancy none but Oriental actors
could have achieved this _coup de théâtre_, involving the strain of
prolonged muscular tension in attitudes of fantastic violence.

Muscular feats were also prominent, too prominent, in “Kojima
Takanori” or “The Loyalist.” This historical drama, which should
have occupied three hours, and was compressed into half-an-hour, is
founded on a famous instance of feudal loyalty. In the beginning of
the thirteenth century Yoshitoki, the chief of the Hôjô family,
acquired supreme power under the title of Shikken (minister of
the Shōgun or commander-in-chief), and banished three emperors
to the little island of Oki. One of these, the Emperor Godaigo,
was passing through Inosha on his way to exile, when Takanori,
a faithful knight, learned of his arrival, and, having adopted
the disguise of a straw rain-coat and hat, taken by force from
two peasants, hid himself in the royal garden. There, since even
his prodigious valour was unequal to the task of rescuing his
sovereign from Yoshitoki’s guards, he resolved at least to furnish
consolation by an act of graceful chivalry. Planing the bark of a
cherry-tree with his sword, he painted on it with his writing-brush
the well-known words of an ancient poem, signifying “While I live,
you reign.” The soldiers of the Shikken discovered and attacked
him, but suffered an inglorious repulse. Then, as a supreme reward,
the bamboo blind of the adjoining villa being lifted for a moment,
the Mikado smiled gratefully on his brave adherent, who, touched to
the heart, succumbed to happy tears.

This poetic and passionate loyalty, so strangely transported to
Notting Hill, was admirably embodied by Mr. Kawakami. Alternately
fierce and pensive, agile and immobile, he played the part of
Takanori with such force and feeling, that _yamato-damashii_, the
fervent temper of Japanese chivalry, lived and moved before us,
a visibly realised ideal. I fear, however, that for most of us
the serious side of the play was marred by terrific, perpetual
fighting. It cannot be doubted that, in days when bows and arrows,
swords and spears, were the only weapons, men were capable of
extraordinary, acrobatic, hand-to-hand encounters. An American
critic, who studied this feature of the acting from the point of
view of a professional pugilist, was astounded by the number of
throws, lifts, and twists employed, in addition to those tricks
peculiar to _jūjutsu_, which other races have yet to learn. But the
clash of sparkling swords and the thud of falling bodies were so
incessant, that one was apt to lose sight of the ferocious realism,
and notice only the comic surprises of this partly historical,
partly conventional _mêlée_. To one irreverent lady it suggested
the idea of furious grasshoppers battling on the slopes of Fuji.

The last play, written by Mr. Kawakami himself about ten years
ago--“The Geisha and the Knight”--is dramatically the best as well
as the most picturesque. It furnishes Madame Sada Yacco with a
part which affords full scope for her talents. It proves her not
only an ethereal dancer, but a tragic actress of real power. When
the curtain rises we are in the Yoshiwara of Yedo (euphemistically
termed the geisha-quarter), with its line of cherry-trees in full
blossom between the fifty tea-houses, with the bustling crowd of
domestics, minstrels, dancing-girls, and _samurai_, conventionally
disguised, as a knight was bound to be, by _amigasa_, or large
braided hats. Katsuragi, the famous courtesan, attended by her
little bevy of servants, passes in gorgeous apparel on those high,
black-lacquered _sabots_ which only the _taiyu_ might wear. Soon a
quarrel bursts out between her rival suitors, and Banza, determined
to provoke a duel, inflicts on Nagoya the disgraceful insult of
_sayâte_, a blow on the sword from a sword’s hilt. But scarcely has
the fight begun when the girl throws herself between and compels
her lover to desist.

The second act passes in a Buddhist temple, where Nagoya, flying
with his _fiancée_, Orikime, from the jealous and abandoned beauty,
has taken refuge. But Katsuragi, well knowing that no woman may
enter there alone, yet tries to cajole the genial priests by the
pretence of dancing in honour of Buddha. Permission is given. First
she treads a solemn temple-dance, a _no-mai_, wearing the golden
mitre of a mediæval geisha; then, as the jocular monks relent
and even mimic her, she performs dance after dance. A child, she
trips through the ball-dance (_maru-odori_), chasing and tossing
an imaginary ball with nimble gaiety; a woman, she personates the
cherry-blossom, and, crowned with a floral emblem, while red flames
of flowers unroll from her hands, she stoops and sways like a bough
in May; a priestess of Inari, the rice-goddess, with upturned hands
and conical drum she depicts the terror of the goblin-fox in a _pas
de fascination_ woven of strange swift rushes and sudden turns.
But all her wiles are useless. The monks roughly repulse her when
she attempts to enter the temple itself. But Katsuragi is not to
be baulked. Suddenly she flies through the gate and as suddenly
reappears, driving before her the hapless Orikime, whom she batters
down with the huge striker of the temple-bell. At this moment,
with bare arms and dishevelled hair, she thrills and dominates
the audience: the fairy has become a fury; the comedy is at once
attuned by this tragic figure to ghastly seriousness. A priest aims
a blow at her, but Nagoya arrives in time to ward it off, and,
panting, frenzied by conflicting passions, she sinks dying in her
lover’s arms.

A fourth play was subsequently added, which I had not the good
fortune to see; but from the foregoing descriptions it will be
evident that Mr. Kawakami brought us, if not entire plays, at any
rate authentic glimpses of the unfamiliar world in which Japanese
playgoers delight. It is an ingenious, palpitating world, richly
stored with action and sentiment and lit with many cross-lights of
allusive fancy. There is so much _naïf_ and childish joy in it, so
many pretty and grotesque details, that one easily is diverted by
these from the consideration of its deeper aspects. Both are better
comprehended by a retrospective glance at theatrical history.

It is rather interesting to observe that national drama began
its career in England and Japan at about the same time. In 1575
Okuni, the pretty priestess who ran away from the Kizuki temple
in Izumo with Nagoya Sanzaburō, and made her peace with the god
Ōnamuji by devoting part of the receipts to repairing his shrine,
gave her first theatrical performance at Kyōto. In 1576 “the Earl
of Leicester’s servants” erected the first public theatre in
Blackfriars. The times were dramatic, and the excitement of foreign
adventure quickened the impulse of the masses towards a more
turbulent form of art than religious plays. The Spanish Armada was
defeated in 1588, and in 1592 Hideyoshi’s armada set sail for the
conquest of Corea. The dramatists were men of similar stamp. Just
as Greene and Marlowe were reckless rebels against tradition and
convention, so Chikamatsu was a _rōnin_, or disgraced _samurai_,
too headstrong to endure feudal discipline. Small wonder,
then, that their plays were full of “coarse horrors and vulgar
blood-shedding.” Independence of Christian “Mysteries” and Buddhist
_Nō_ was a marked characteristic of the secular humanistic drama,
but whereas England had not long to wait for a Shakespeare, the
fifty odd five-act pieces of Chikamatsu were written between 1690
and 1724.

Moreover, they were written for marionettes. This fact explains
many surviving customs, which hamper theatrical representation to
the present day. Although the thread of poetical narrative, on
which spectacular episodes were strung, is much attenuated, the
chorus, charged with reciting it to musical accompaniment, is not
yet banished from a cage or stage-box behind the footlights to
the right of the audience. Many actors retain the stiff, jerky
motions of the wire-pulled dolls which they were formerly taught
to imitate, and whereas the words through artificial declamation
are often difficult to follow, more persistent appeal is made to
the eye than the ear by pose and gesture. Why the dramatist should
have preferred wooden to human puppets is hard to say, unless it be
that they were capable of more amazing contortions, for acrobatic
activity plays a large part in legitimate drama, which would seem
incomplete without _damari_, or pantomimic scenes.

Chikamatsu was followed by Takeda Izumo, who reduced the function
of the chorus, and thus lessened the opportunity for literary
display. In both writers you find sensational plots, surcharged
with incident and developed in daring disregard of probability.
While the marionettes’ theatre at Ōsaka was thus served, the men’s
theatre at Yedo was provided with pieces of a similar character
with regard to substance, though the style was colloquial and the
dialogue largely invented by the actors. Since the eighteenth
century it may be said without injustice that the _kabuki-shibai_
(popular theatre) has remained stationary. Certain improvements
in histrionic and scenic matters have been introduced, but no
development in construction and character-drawing, as we understand
those terms, no change in the peculiar ethical and feudal teachings
of the Yedo period, has supervened. Enter a Tōkyō theatre to-day,
and you will find yourself in old Japan, among resplendent
monsters, whose actions violate our moral sense, yet exhibit a high
and stern morality by no means out-moded through the advent of
modern ideas.

Beauty and duty are the hall-marks that stamp as authentic the
plays which delight and instruct the Japanese. A race of artists,
they expect and obtain such stage-pictures as no other stage
affords. To watch act after act of their spectacular tragedies is
like looking through a portfolio of their best colour-prints. One
revels in the rich series of glowing hues, flowing lines, majestic
contours. And, whereas in a play by Shakespeare or Molière,
however sumptuously mounted, the European actor often spoils the
picture by inability to wear the garb and adopt the gait of more
ceremonious ages, becoming a vociferous fashion-plate, a strenuous
caricature, the Oriental actor never does so. He has not been
forced to acquire, having never lost, the dignified movements
proper to more deliberate dress. His pictorial charm is enhanced
by his faculty of sublime repose. Fidgety “supers” are unknown.
Moreover, visible beauty, of which the credit may be shared between
costumier and stage-manager, is supplemented by the invisible
beauty of ideas. The author can give free rein to fancy. Dragons
and demons, ogres and magicians, will not be wasted on prosaic
pittites, who starve their imagination by feeding it once a year on
vulgarised pantomime, because to them music-hall ditties are more
congenial than a midsummer-night’s dream. His audience would just
as soon hear a fairy-story as a love-story. When “The Tongue-cut
Sparrow” or “The Fisher-Boy of Urashima” is presented, the adults
are quite as appreciative as the children. Perhaps this imaginative
audience is too complaisant. It ignores the cloaked attendants,
who creep about the stage to remove “properties” or in other ways
assist the actors, because it knows that their black garments
denote invisibility and is much too polite to perceive them. The
same readiness to meet illusion half-way is shown by the retention
of the _hana-michi_ or flower-walks, two inclined platforms which
slope from the stage to the back of the auditorium, trisecting the
pit and enabling the actors to make their entry or exit through the
midst of the spectators. On the other hand, they facilitate the
execution of processional and recessional effects.

After all, the aim of Eastern art is not illusion, but edification.
However clear the call of beauty, duty’s voice is louder
still--duty, not as we Westerns conceive it, a half-hearted
compromise between our own interests and those of others, but
complete moral and mental suicide. No lesson was more impressively
preached to the people by the dramatists in hundreds of historical
plays than the duty of obedience at any price. Iyeyasu had
established a _pax japonica_, a golden age, in which there was no
war, but a rigid system of caste upon caste: obedience was the
cement which held the whole together. The cultivated _samurai_
were not allowed to enter the theatre, but the masses were melted
to tears and heated to transports of patriotic subservience by the
representation of heroic self-sacrifice. As a political instrument
the Greek Church is not more useful to the Czar for indoctrinating
docile peasants than the Yedo drama was of service to the Shōgun.

One of the most admired examples of unscrupulous virtue is
Nakamitsu, applauded in 1898 as in 1598, for the same hero holds
the stage for centuries. This is the story of Nakamitsu. His feudal
lord, Manju, had confided a reprobate son, named Bijomaru, to his
care, in the hope that a _samurai’s_ control would prove more
efficacious than a priest’s; but, as Bijomaru continued to “indulge
in all sorts of wild sports, sometimes going so far as to kill
innocent common people,” Nakamitsu was ordered to put him to death.
Instead of doing so, he beheaded his own son, Kojumaru, and took
the head to his master, who, believing in his fidelity, refused
to inspect it. Years afterwards, when Bijomaru has become an
irreproachable priest, he is restored to his father, who forgives
Nakamitsu for disobeying him and rewards his self-sacrifice with
the gift of an adopted son and an extensive tract of land. Now,
the moral of this story to us appears atrocious, that a father may
murder his son to oblige his general, but a little reflection will
show that the Jewish legend of the interrupted sacrifice of Isaac
by Abraham, though similar, is less heroic. For Nakamitsu’s act
was voluntary, and his son, eager to be sacrificed on the altar
of duty, welcomed death, while Manju had not demanded such cruel
fidelity.

A typical instance of the teaching and technique of popular plays
is furnished by “Ichi-no-tani Futaba-gunki” (“The Tale of the
Sapling of Ichi-no-tani”), produced with exceptional splendour and
a first-rate cast--both Danjuro and Kikugoro, leading Japanese
actors, were included--at the chief Tōkyō theatre in the autumn
of 1898. The incident, more or less historical, on which it is
founded, is simple enough. During the great civil war between
the Taira and Minamoto clans in the twelfth century, a Minamoto
general, Kumagaya, is said to have been so touched by the likeness
to his own son of a youthful adversary, named Atsumori, that he
spared his life and connived at his escape from the battle of
Ichi-no-tani, a famous valley near Kōbe. This theme had to be
embroidered with improbable episodes and extravagant actions to
satisfy public taste. Accordingly, Kumagaya saves Atsumori’s
life in a supremely sensational manner. In obedience to secret
orders from his feudal lord, Yoshitsune, he induces his son Kojiro
to enter Atsumori’s castle by cutting down a score of guards
single-handed, to change clothes with Atsumori, to personate
Atsumori so as to deceive both friend and foe, and finally to be
killed by his own father in single combat, that the world may be
absolutely convinced of Atsumori’s death. While the plot requires
that most of the characters in the piece should be mystified, it
is important that the audience should not be mystified, and this
twofold object is secured by the ingenious co-operation of stage
and cage. While father and son, mounted on terrific black and white
chargers, interchange threats and insults so as to blind their
fellow-actors, the chorus expresses their real feelings of anguish
and affection in such pathetic strains that the audience cannot
fail to grasp the situation. But concealment of the truth from the
other characters leads to more entanglements. Atsumori’s mother,
the Lady Wistaria, believing her son to be dead, pays a visit to
the murderer’s wife, and discovering in her a feudal dependent,
insinuates that her obvious duty is to assist in her husband’s
assassination when he shall return. When Kumagaya comes home, his
position, between the woman who thinks he has killed her son and
the woman whose son he has really killed, is made more embarrassing
by the fact that Kajiwara, an enemy who suspects the truth, is
listening at the door. His fluent and inconsistent explanations
would be superfluous if he might show the dead man’s head, which
he carries with him in a box; but that must, of course, only be
revealed at the last moment to Yoshitsune as a proof of his loyal
obedience, when he will be praised for his loyal devotion and
retire to a Buddhist monastery, muttering “Life is a hollow dream.”
The piece is a great deal more complicated than might be supposed
from the foregoing analysis. Subsidiary peasants, beggars, and
woodcutters turn out at opportune moments to be Taira or Minamoto
warriors and court-ladies in disguise. The first three acts are
occupied with a kind of prologue, which has only two points of
contact with the main Atsumori _motif_: first, the characters,
though entirely different, belong to the same historic period; and,
secondly, their business is also to glorify parental murder.

Casuists have urged that to sacrifice another’s life, even though
that other be one’s own child, is less heroic than to sacrifice
oneself. But that, too, is common in the _jidaimono_, or historical
plays, which far outnumber the rest in popularity. Not to speak of
the forty-seven _rōnin_, whose simultaneous suicide is the subject
of more than fifty dramas, and whose venerated tombs at Sengakuji
are yet covered with poems and visiting-cards every New Year’s
Day, I suppose one drama in ten contains a case of _hara-kiri_, or
“happy dispatch.” The actor writes a letter, generally in blood,
to explain why his honour requires self-slaughter, and then with
great deliberation draws a knife across his stomach, until his
admirably twitching limbs are covered with gore. At this point the
squeamish foreigner is apt to leave the theatre, but the Japanese
babies do not blench at blood, and are taught by such sights from
their earliest years that superb indifference to death, that
supreme attachment to honour, which no other nation displays to the
same degree. _Hara-kiri_ cannot be approved by utilitarians, but
it implies a higher pitch of heroism than you find in a British
melodrama, where the hero and villain are probably engaged in
selfish rivalry for the hand of the same young woman, and merely
differ in the choice of means to gratify the same desire. I find
an exquisite instance of Japanese subtlety in the mingled ferocity
and devotion of their popular plays, which please at once the
devil and the angel cohabiting the human heart. If the devil gloat
over blood-shedding, the angel exults in death for an ideal. The
devil holds the knife and the angel rams it in. Nor must you
suppose that the playgoers who revel in such incidents regard them
as part and parcel of an effete morality. Every few years the
partisans of Western ethics are startled by similar tragedies.
The assassins or would-be assassins of Viscount Mori in 1887, of
Count Okuma in 1889, of the Czarevitch in 1891, of Li Hung Chang
in 1895, were prepared to pay with their own lives for what they
deemed dishonourable concessions to foreigners. The young girl,
Yuko Hatakeyama, who cut her throat in expiation of the outrage
offered to the Czarevitch; the young wife of Lieutenant Asada, who,
learning of his death on the battlefield, slew herself before his
portrait, that she might follow him; the forty soldiers, who took
their own lives because the Government gave up Liaotung at the
bidding of Russia, France, and Germany--all these were as widely
praised and honoured by their fellow-countrymen as Kumagaya or
Nakamitsu.

Next in popularity to the historical are the social plays
(_sewamono_), of which the main topic is love. This love,
however, has nothing in common with the well-regulated affections
which dominate our middle-class comedy from “Our Boys” to
“Sweet Lavender,” and culminate in the addition of two or three
conventional couples to suburban villadom. Domestic happiness
having been arranged for most young folk by their elders,
neither courtship nor marriage (if the former could be said to
exist) presented material for dramatic treatment. The heroine is
either a geisha or a courtesan, exposed by her profession to the
worst caprice of passion and of fortune. In neither case is she
necessarily repulsive or even reprehensible. On the contrary,
she is often held up to sympathy as a model of filial devotion,
having sold her virtue for a certain period to save her parents
from beggary. Public opinion is still so much more Confucian than
Christian among Japanese peasants, that not only does a father
incur no odium for selling his daughter, but she would be regarded
in many districts as wickedly unfilial if she objected to be sold.
It is true that by decrees added to Japanese law in 1875 and 1896
such sale is forbidden: girls are no longer bought; they are hired.
But during the Yedo period, whose morals are mostly reflected in
such pieces, the famous _oiran sama_ or lady-courtesan was a very
dazzling figure, while the humble _jōro_ was at least regarded
with pity. If we put aside for the moment Western feeling on this
subject, it is clear that no romance could be more deeply pathetic
than that of a duteous heart fluttering behind the gilded bars
of self-imposed shame and responding to the generous affection
of a liberating lover. The _entourage_ of spies and gaolers
made escape no easy thing: thus plenty of dangerous adventure
would diversify the plot. The nimble-witted theatre-goer loves
intrigue, and follows hero and heroine through an imbroglio of
ruses and disguises and machinations which it would be tedious to
describe. Again let me pay tribute to the ingenuity of the didactic
dramatist, who illustrates a lesson in filial unselfishness with
pictures of attractive wickedness. Few scenes could surpass in
beauty the luxurious lupanar, with its troop of richly robed
Delilahs. Drury Lane has produced nothing more spectacular or more
sensational than the meretricious, murderous dramas of this class.

Less numerous, but of great interest to the student, are
_Oikemono_, or plays “connected with the private troubles of some
illustrious family.” These would obviously strengthen feudal
ties, and some have considerable merit. The first piece I saw in
a Japanese theatre was founded on the legend (told at length in
Mr. Mitford’s “Tales of Old Japan”) of the Nabeshima cat. One of
the lords of Nabeshima had the misfortune to marry a species of
vampire-cat, or rather his wife was possessed by one. While the
daimyō and his friends keep watch, the wife retires to bed, and
soon the shadow of a cat’s head is silhouetted on the paper lantern
near her couch. Caterwauling is heard: the watchers, armed with
swords, rush in and stab the cat-wife, whose death ends the play.
Life in the court of a feudal lord during the Tokugawa shogunate is
most vividly portrayed in “Kagamiyama-kokyo-no-nishiki,” which may
be regarded as the Japanese counterpart of Scribe’s “Bataille de
Femmes,” except that the ruling passion is not love, but loyalty.
It deals with a feud between two court ladies. Iwafugi, old and
ugly, is jealous of the favour extended to Onoye by the daimyō’s
daughter, who has entrusted to her care a consecrated statue of
Buddha and a box of precious perfume. Having caused these to be
stolen and concealed with a straw-sandal of her own, Iwafugi
accuses her young rival of trying to fasten the theft upon her,
strikes her in the face with the sandal, and leaves the mortified
Onoye no remedy for insult but suicide. But Ohatsu, a devoted maid
of the latter, avenges her mistress by stabbing Iwafugi to death,
and is rewarded with promotion to high rank. Thus the supreme
merit of loyalty at any cost is once more vindicated. This piece
is interesting, because it furnishes the veteran actor, Danjuro,
with a striking female part--that of Iwafugi--and proves that the
subjection of women in domestic matters by no means robbed them
of spirit and individuality. The rash inference that Confucian
domesticity must reduce women to the level of a slave or a doll
is disproved by the heroic figures which are so frequent in
historical, social, and court-family drama.

Such, then, is the popular play, dear to both actors and public,
who value Western imports of a material kind, but prefer their
own moral and social ideals to those of foreigners. Railways and
ironclads may be readily adopted, but not the New Testament or the
New Woman. Yet, setting such vexed questions aside, and taking
the neutral ground of art, it is clear that the pieces which I
have described are inferior even to the archaic _Nō_. Let them be
as imaginative, as patriotic, as lofty as you like, they remain
stirring spectacles, without cohesion, depth, or unity. They are
fascinating pictures of a deeply loved and daily vanishing past,
but drama of a high sort they are not. Is there no movement,
it will be asked, among the more educated classes to raise the
standard of art, to create a drama which shall appeal less to the
eye and more to the intelligence?

Yes; there are two forces at work which deserve credit for their
energy in what is almost an impossible task until the conditions of
theatrical representation shall be radically altered. How is the
action to be compressed within reasonable limits when the audience
demand a whole day’s entertainment? How is closer realism to be
achieved by the actor when the never silent orchestra compels him
to pitch his voice in a falsetto key? How are women’s parts to
be adequately rendered so long as men monopolise the stage? How
are women to take their places when the size of the theatre and
the length of the performance put a prohibitive strain on their
physical powers? And how is the author to complete a masterpiece
when manager, actor, and musician claim the right to interpolate
scenes, business, and melody for the irrelevant amusement of the
uncritical? These questions must be answered before reform can make
headway. In the meantime, a glance at what reformers have tried to
accomplish is only due to their laudable endeavour.

Rather more than ten years ago, when enthusiasm for Western things
was at its height, a species of independent theatre, calling itself
the Sōshi-Shibai, was started with a loud flourish of trumpets in
Tōkyō. The promoters were _sōshi_ (ex-students), who, as actors or
authors, or both, proclaimed their intention of revolutionising
the stage and informing it with nineteenth-century culture. They
began, as such societies generally begin, with translations, and
by dramatising the romances of the elder Dumas succeeded for a
time in attracting. “The Three Musketeers” and “Monte Cristo”
were spectacular enough to please. But when it came to producing
original work, their will was found to exceed their capacity.
Without enough money or experience to make a sustained effort,
they kindled a flame which soon flickered out. Mr. Kawakami, as I
have already stated, won a great success by dramatising the more
striking incidents of the war with China. He visited Port Arthur
and supplied himself with photographs of many varieties, so that,
at any rate, his play was realistically mounted. How far its
structure was in advance of less up-to-date pieces I cannot say. If
it at all resembled his adaptation of “Round the World in Eighty
Days,” I fear it was no more than a series of tableaux. But no
production on strictly European lines could command an intelligent,
much less a sympathetic, reception from playgoers unacquainted with
European life. In the summer of 1898 Mr. Osada, whose models are
Parisian, presented his compatriots with a version of “Le monde
où l’on s’ennuie.” It will be remembered that the climax of that
amusing comedy is reached when a young diplomat is discovered
kissing his wife in a dark conservatory by the scandalised
guests, at a French château. Now, the Tōkyō tradesman has never
kissed anybody, and would not incommode his wife with sentimental
attention. He was merely mystified by this queer illustration of
barbarian habit, and returned with relief to the contemplation of
his politely blood-stained ancestors.

The most promising path of improvement would seem to be that
pursued by Mr. Tsuboüchi and Mr. Fukuchi, who continue to write
plays on episodes in their own history, but strive to avoid the
extravagance and unreality of their predecessors. Mr. Tsuboüchi,
who was well known as a critic and novelist before he turned
playwright, invented the term _mugen-gekki_ or “dream-play” in
ridicule of such wildly improbable incidents as disfigure “The Tale
of the Sapling of Ichi-no-tani.” I have not seen his own drama, the
“Maki no Kati” (1897), which deals with the turbulent thirteenth
century, but Mr. Aston discerns in it “careful workmanship and
gratifying freedom from extravagance,” in spite of “several murders
and two _hara-kiri_ by women.” Of Mr. Fukuchi’s work I can write
with some confidence, having been privileged on many occasions
to discuss it with him. He is recognised as the leading Japanese
playwright, and has produced about thirty plays during the last
ten years. He has been engaged for some time on translations of
“Hamlet” and “Othello,” but has no idea of staging them, for
reasons which will be presently explained. Though anxious to
modernise the drama by introducing less bloodshed and more careful
study of character, he finds modern Japan unsuited to dramatic
treatment. The typical advocate of progress, who dresses and
talks like a foreigner, takes little interest in his own arts and
antiquities, being absorbed in politics or money-making. He has
neither the picturesque nor heroic qualities which a dramatist
postulates, and is therefore rejected by Mr. Fukuchi in his search
for material. A serious obstacle to reform lies in the ignorance
of actors and the indifference of the upper classes. While the
former too often lack the erudition to appreciate and interpret
a scholarly reproduction of antique habit and speech, the latter
are only beginning to discard their aristocratic prejudice against
the theatre, compelling the author to write down to the level of
his middle and lower class audience. But better education and
more democratic ideals are beginning to tell. The reception of
“Kasuga-no-Tsubone” (“The Lady-in-Waiting of Kasuga”)--one of Mr.
Fukuchi’s finest plays--marked a most creditable advance in public
judgment.

Here was a piece entirely devoid of sensational incident, depending
on neither love nor death nor abnormal sacrifice for its appeal,
but narrating the discharge of public duty by a high-spirited
woman in the face of ceaseless intrigue and danger. It brings
out the noblest side of Japanese statesmanship, the far-seeing
wisdom and patience of the ruler, together with the perseverance
and devotion of the ruled. The political and personal strands of
interest are so cleverly combined, that for once the grey fabric
of governmental policy is sufficiently embroidered with a pattern
in gold of intersecting character: the scarlet thread is scarcely
missed. Briefly this is the tale. Iyeyasu, having completed his
work of equipping Japan with a durable constitution, retired to
Suruga, and, leaving the shōgunate in Hidetada’s hands, continued
to take private measures for the future welfare of the State. One
of these was the education of his grandson, Taketiyo (better known
as Iyemitsu), whom he wished to be trained in the severest school
of military discipline. For this purpose he chose the Lady of
Kasuga, whose husband, Inaba Sado-no-Kami, was a _rōnin_, having
been dispossessed of title and estates by Hideyoshi. The task was
beset with difficulty. First the wife of Hidetada, and then that
Shōgun himself, lost no occasion of thwarting her efforts and
of putting forward Kunityo, a younger prince, whose gentler and
more refined manner gained him many partisans at Court. In despair
of winning her cause, the Lady of Kasuga fled to Suruga in the
garb of a pilgrim and begged Iyeyasu to decide between the rival
candidates. The old man thereupon returned to Yedo and subjected
the brothers to searching tests of both intellectual and physical
capacity. In all these the more Spartan pupil of the _samurai’s_
wife proved victorious. Up to this point the plot does not differ
very materially from ordinary histories of disputed succession,
but the last act is peculiarly illustrative of woman’s status
during the Tokugawa _régime_. Asked to choose her own reward for
service so admirably rendered, the preceptress of Iyemitsu solicits
the restoration to her husband of his rank and estates; but he,
regarding such a proposal as wounding to his honour, proceeds to
divorce her. Iyeyasu then offers to make the wife a daimyō, but she
refuses, on the ground that to accept would be to still further
dishonour her husband. In the end Inaba is reinstated for having
exhibited a proper spirit of pride and independence, while the Lady
of Kasuga resumes her place at his side.

On the lines of this play, in which conflict of scheming interests
is substituted for hand-to-hand fighting, while a clearly developed
story replaces the old _olla podrida_ of loosely connected scenes,
there is great hope of raising popular drama from a somewhat crude
condition to the level of serious art. It has never aimed at merely
amusing the populace; it has always professed to instruct them.
In the hands of Mr. Fukuchi and men of his stamp its patriotic
bias need not be weakened, while its artistic worth will be much
increased. But it is by no means likely that European drama will
affect its substance, however largely it may influence the form. On
this point Mr. Fukuchi is as emphatic as Mr. Danjuro. Shakespeare
is impossible. His teaching would be at least as pernicious in its
effect on feminine morals and the structure of society as that of
Ibsen is considered by conservative moralists in this country. We
have seen that the restriction of woman’s sphere to loving and
serving does not necessarily rob her of courage or resolution. Many
foreigners resident in Japan have not hesitated to declare their
conviction that the “childish, confiding, sweet Japanese girl” is
superior to the “calculating, penetrating, diamond-hard American
woman,” the consequence and nemesis of masculine idolatry. A little
reflection will show how shocking the heroines of Shakespeare must
seem to admirers of the former type. You have Rosalind, swaggering
shamelessly in male attire; Beatrice, cutting such coarse quips as
Benedick himself would scarcely venture upon to-day in a London
club; Portia, masquerading in cap and gown, and exposing her lover
to dishonour by snatching his betrothal-ring; Juliet and Jessica,
selfishly disregardful of their parents’ wishes; and Katherine the
shrew, whose violent vulgarity fortunately could not be translated
into so polite a language as Japanese. As for “The Merry Wives of
Windsor,” should the Sōshi-Shibai ever dare to present it, I feel
sure that the Tōkyō counterpart of Mr. Clement Scott would denounce
their action in such terms as these:

“This disgusting representation of the most loathsome of all
Shakespeare’s plays was unutterably offensive. So foul a concoction
ought never to have been allowed to disgrace the boards of a
Japanese theatre. The lewd maunderings of Sir John Falstaff, the
licentious jesting of Mistress Ford, Mistress Page, and Mistress
Quickly must excite reprobation in all but those lovers of
prurience and dabblers in impropriety who are eager to gratify
their illicit tastes under the pretence of art. Ninety-seven per
cent. of the people who laughed to see the fat knight smothered in
a basket of dirty linen are nasty-minded people. Outside a silly
clique there is not the slightest interest in the Elizabethan
humbug or all his works.”


II

Many foreigners, unable to catch the meaning of what is to them
a rather tedious dumb-show, pay short and perfunctory visits to
the theatre. But this is not wise, for, even should the play
lie outside their comprehension, the native playgoers are both
affable to accost and interesting to study. They are seated in
lidless boxes lined with matting, in parties of four and five,
on the ground, on slightly elevated seats at the side, or in a
long gallery surrounding the house. A box in the first position
will cost about eight shillings, in the second about nine, in the
last eleven. The higher you climb the more you pay, except in
the _Oikomi_ (“driven-in-place”), where the “gods” are crowded
together in a grated pen, from which little can be seen or heard;
but then the price is no more than sixpence, or a penny an act if
they cannot afford to witness the whole performance. This will
consist of two long plays lasting about four hours each, with an
intermediary tableau, which is generally the most beautifully
mounted of all. During the day every one eats and drinks and
smokes. The women take tea, the men _saké_, while the babies loudly
and numerously imbibe milk. Between the acts, when the handsome
curtains (often gifts from admiring associations to a popular
artist) descend, the audience strolls about the _undoba_, a large
enclosure surrounding the theatre, in which the stall-keepers
sell refreshments, photographs, toys, and all kinds of ornamental
knick-knacks. You escape the headache engendered by the gas and
close atmosphere of a Western play-house, for the sliding shutters
that form the outer walls of the upper storey can be opened at
will to admit currents of cool air. The best day to go is Monday,
for that is the pay-day of the geisha, whom you will see in
almost as many costumes as the actor, since she loves to return
to an adjacent tea-house at frequent intervals for the purpose of
renewing her charms of apparel and complexion.

Tea-houses surround a theatre as jackals a lion; their co-operation
is indispensable to the success of an indoor picnic. Besides, it is
not considered genteel to apply for seats at the door. Your only
chance of a good place is to secure the kind offices of a tea-house
proprietor, who will provide attendance and refreshments, besides
taking charge of your watch, purse, and any other article of
value. The Tōkyō pickpocket is very adroit, and a constant patron
of dramatic art. Formerly the entertainment began at dawn, but
the Government, which exercises paternal supervision over popular
amusements, has now limited its length to eight or nine hours, so
that, if you arrive at half-past ten, you may be sure of seeing the
programme played out until seven or eight in the evening. Having
left your shoes at the tea-house in exchange for a wooden check and
sandals, you will be conducted to a box and presented by a polite
attendant with cushion, programme, tobacco-box, tea, and sweet
cakes, with luncheon to follow. Now, at last, you are at liberty to
observe the antics of the actors.

As you cannot understand what they say, you notice more
particularly how they say it. At first their elocution will seem
both painful and artificial: the tones are too shrill or too gruff,
equally removed from the diapason of natural speech. But that
is because the traditional _samisen_, a three-stringed guitar,
follows the performer like a curse from start to finish. Unless he
pitched his voice above or below its notes, he could not be heard.
Even so, the author complains that his words receive inadequate
attention from either player or playgoer, for the former relies
chiefly on pose and facial expression to score his points, while
the latter obediently admires the methods of acting to which he has
always been accustomed. It cannot be denied that these methods are
effective. I have seen the feminine part of the audience infected
with such violent emotion by the agonised play of mobile features
as to rush for relief to the “Tear-Room,” where they can cry to
heart’s content without inconveniencing more stoical neighbours.

Though the actor’s tone is disagreeably unnatural, his articulation
is both clean-cut and sonorous. The syllables crack on the ear
like pistol-shots, sharply distinct. I imagine that he is seldom
inaudible. It is a great pity that convention, if not law, still
forbids the appearance of men and women on the same stage, since
the mimicry of one sex by the other, triumphantly deceptive in
other particulars, breaks down at the point of vocal imitation. The
eye is tricked, but not the ear. Yet peculiar attention is given
to the training and discipline of _onnagata_, or impersonators
of female parts. Formerly they were not only given the outward
semblance of women by every contrivance which the costumier and
coiffeur could supply, but were required to spend their lives from
childhood in feminine costume and society, that their masculine
proclivities might be as far as possible obliterated. Even now
their names stand first on the programme, their dressing-rooms
are locked on the inside, their influence is paramount in the
Actors’ Guild. The supremacy of Mr. Danjuro is due in no small
degree to his ability to play both male and female characters with
equal _éclat_. Notwithstanding every precaution and privilege,
the actor cannot acquire the intonation of an actress. His reedy
falsetto is a poor parody of the musical tones in which Japanese
women converse, and the loss to a public which has never been
caressed by Sara Bernhardt’s golden voice or thrilled by Mrs.
Patrick Campbell’s may be sympathetically imagined. But, though
Tōkyō has no actresses, the Women’s Theatre in Kyōto, in which are
no actors, might seem a partial set-off to this deficiency. In
fact, however, though the women are extremely clever in simulating
the gait and gestures of men--if I had not been taken behind the
scenes, I should have believed myself in the wrong theatre--they
are hopelessly handicapped by physical weakness. The stage is so
enormous, and the performance so long, that an artist may reckon
on walking ten miles in the course of the day, while the voice is
severely taxed by the prolonged stridency of declamation.

While the stage-woman, adroitly personated, is often tolerable,
the stage-child is an intolerable infliction. Convention has
decreed that it shall shriek all its lines on one high monotonous
note, and shriek it does. There is no attempt at variety of tone
or naturalness of expression. When a steam-launch emits similar
sounds, we condone in a machine what we resent in a human being.
It is simply an ear-splitting automaton. One turns with relief
to watch the children in the audience, who are evidently the
spoiled darlings of their relations. But, indeed, the child seems
never snubbed or thwarted in Japan. At the termination of every
act, while the curtains fall or are drawn together, there is a
scurry of tiny feet up and down the parallel _hana-michi_ (the
flower-walks which divide the auditorium), and, if some audacious
little intruders rush upon the stage itself, they are greeted with
indulgent laughter.

Perhaps the chief obstacle to illusion, and the one most easily
remedied as regards scenic accessories, is the enormous area of
the stage. It is far too large to be enclosed between “wings”
and “flies,” while the custom of exit and entry along the
flower-walks transgresses our cardinal principle of separating
those who act from those who look on. As a rule, the supposed
locality of the piece, be it palace or temple or battle-field, is
a wood-and-cardboard island in a sea of bare boards, of which the
circumference nearly corresponds with that of a revolving section
of the stage, twenty or thirty feet in diameter, which turns on
lignum-vitæ wheels. While one scene is being enacted, a second is
being prepared behind, and at a given signal the _eccyclema_ is
whirled round, carrying away one set of actors and bringing on
their successors. Do not suppose, however, that realistic effects
are outside the range of the Meiji-za or Kabuki-za management. I
remember a melodrama, written by a lieutenant in the Japanese navy,
in which the hero, though encumbered by a heavy piece of ordnance
hoisted on his shoulders, cut down eight assailants in turn in
spite of a terrific storm, which drenched the company with real
rain and blew down real trees, planted that afternoon!

The actor is a more important personage than the author in most
people’s eyes. Until this relation shall be reversed, the Thespian
cart is not likely to leave the rut in which it moves. Meanwhile,
a glance at their respective positions may fitly conclude this
essay. Before Meiji, the present era of enlightenment, the
mummer was treated as a rogue and vagabond. He was regarded with
contempt as a _koyamono_, or “occupant of a hut,” and placed on
a par with mendicants. In public places he was obliged to wear a
_mebakari-zukin_ or hood, which covered head and face all but the
eyes, and was only allowed to frequent particular restaurants.
Unless he belonged to one of the half-dozen theatrical families
who ruled the stage with oligarchic exclusiveness, monopolising
the secrets of the profession, the power to admit novices, and the
right to play particular parts, his progress was slow. Beginning
with the horse’s leg (_uma no ashi_), a limb of the pantomimic
charger, which was indispensable to historic drama, he was obliged
to buy or insinuate his way by adoption to more important parts
before he could earn either fame or fortune. Nowadays all that is
changed. Free competition rules. The public is his only patron.
Without training or payment of fees to the Ichikawa, the Onoye,
or the Nakamura, a successful _débutant_ can march by his own
merits into wealth and popularity. As he treads the flower-walks,
fans, purses, embroidered pouches will be showered at his feet;
to his dressing-room will come love-letters innumerable, for the
Japanese “matinée girl” is very susceptible; in public he will
be pointed out, the idol of the masses; his crest will be on the
tortoise-shell or ivory pin, which adorns the high coiffure of
the stage-struck _musumé_; finally, should he ever reach the head
of his profession, he may hope to make as much as £5000 in four
weeks, far surpassing the modest income of a prime minister or an
archbishop.

[Illustration: The Heroine of a Problem-play.]

But the author, instead of ruling the kingdom which he creates, is
in most cases no more than a theatrical _employé_. In fact, the
term “create” can only be used with much qualification, for the
genesis of a play is curiously and multifariously planned. First,
the manager sends for the author, and indicates the subject and
period which he desires to form the bases of a drama; the author
prepares and submits two or three drafts, from which the best is
selected; then the cast is appointed, and the chief actors are
consulted about their parts, which of course are modified to suit
their suggestions; then the composer is called in, and, if the
musical setting should lead to new alterations in the libretto,
the author has no choice but to submit. When plays have to be
constructed in this way, you cannot expect them to have any more
artistic value than a London pantomime or “musical comedy.” Nor
has the author the satisfaction of salving the wounds to “artistic
conscience” with consolatory gold. On the first run of a piece
(the season is never longer than four or five weeks at a time) he
may receive £20; a revival may bring him in £10 more, a provincial
tour yet another £10. On the whole, he will be lucky to make £50,
while the leading actor makes £5000. But then the audiences do not
pay their money for the opportunity of solving historical problems
or appreciating intellectual artistry: their object is simply
to feast eyes and ears on a sensational pageant, in which to
them the actor is king. They do not bestow a thought on the power
behind the throne, chained there by ignorance and convention. Plays
are sometimes published, but their sale is insignificant. The
aristocracy, both of birth and intellect, hold too much aloof from
a plebeian amusement, which under higher conditions might become a
fruitful and immortal art. When I think of Mr. Fukuchi, fettered
by public taste, that stupidest of Jupiters, to the Caucasus of
picturesque melodrama, while vulturine actors peck at his brains,
I wish that a chorus of Oceanides, winged ideas and ideals from
Paris, from London, and Christiania--could cross the seas to Tōkyō
and liberate Prometheus.



GEISHA AND CHERRY-BLOSSOM



GEISHA AND CHERRY-BLOSSOM


Nothing is more difficult to eradicate than a British misconception
of foreign defects. French lubricity, German clumsiness, Russian
cruelty, are quite as much articles of faith on this side of
the Channel as Albion’s perfidy on the other. Similarly, it is
useless to controvert the popular opinion that the geisha is
generally pretty and always improper. Her detractors have seen an
English opera bearing her name and traducing her character: it
is enough; they know. Nevertheless, this opinion is founded on
imperfect knowledge, and requires much modification before it can
be received as even partially true. Etymologically, a _gei-sha_ is
an accomplished person; socially, she is an entertainer, who has
been trained from the age of seven or eight to dance or sing for
the amusement of guests at a dinner-party. Probably her parents
have leased her for a certain number of years to a teacher, who
undertakes to board and train her, to procure engagements and
to chaperon her, to pay a fixed sum to her family as well as a
tax to the Government, in return for all of which a sufficient
recompense is assured by the fees which a talented artist is able
to earn. Less frequently she lives at home and obtains engagements
through an agent, who receives only a percentage of her gains. The
training is continuous and severe. To a foreigner the dancing will
appear graceful but monotonous; it has none of the free, vigorous
motion which we associate with the term: on the other hand, for
the connoisseur each gesture is significant, each pose symbolic.
To appreciate many of the “dances,” requiring hours of patient
rehearsal, it would be necessary to catch continual allusion to
poems, legends, and flowers, with which the treasure-house of
Japanese memory is stored. Those who would deny the applicability
of the term “music” to “the strummings and squealings of
Orientals,” would yet admit that both the _koto_ and _samisen_
(the stringed instruments most in vogue) are not to be mastered
without constant practice, and the irregular rhythm of the songs,
with their abrupt intervals and capricious repetitions, cannot be
easy to render until the voice has attained extreme flexibility.
On the mysteries of Japanese music, however, seeing that the
best authorities are at variance, only an expert dare pronounce
judgment. To return to the question of the social status of the
geisha, I should say that it corresponds more exactly with that
of a Parisian actress than of an Athenian _hetaira_. Convention
having banished the actress from the Japanese stage, the geisha
takes her place as the natural recipient of masculine homage. She
is much courted, and sometimes makes a brilliant match. There are
a large number who make the profession an excuse for attracting
rich admirers, just as the name of “actress” in more Puritan climes
will cover a multitude of sins. But a professional courtesan
she is not: her favours are not always for sale to the highest
bidder. When her short reign is over at the age of twenty-five,
she generally imparts to a younger generation the secrets of
professional success. Among these the art of conversation is
not the least important. To parry indiscreet advances and to
bandy compliments enter as much into her _rôle_ as the playing
of “Kitsune ken” or “fox-forfeit,” in which no little agility is
needed to represent at the right moment the fox, the man, and the
gun on facile fingers. Childish of course the geisha is, like most
of her younger countrywomen; sometimes dangerous and fickle, as her
popular nickname of “Nekko,” the cat, testifies; but virtuous as
well, in many cases, where she has enough independence and strength
of character to resist the flattering importunity of fame’s
innumerable suitors.

If one of these aspire to win her affection, or merely to make
her acquaintance, he has many advantages over the callow youths
who wait, like lackeys, at the stage-door of a Western theatre.
He is spared the preliminary purgatory of appealing letters, of
supplicatory presents, which may easily fail to secure the desired
access. He is not forced to share with a crowd of jealous or
indifferent strangers the bitter joy of her nightly apotheosis,
when her smiles and wiles must be lavished in promiscuous appeal.
He has merely to dine at the tea-house with which she, or her
employer, has made a mutually advantageous contract: there, on
sufficient notice, she will arrive with her duenna, ready to
perform, if need be, for his delight alone, while the semi-privacy
of the entertainment affords him every opportunity of pressing his
suit. As a rule, however, the geisha performs in parties of two,
or three, or more, according to the number of guests. Often the
convivial character of the occasion tends to lower the standard
of art involved; indeed, such feasts are apt to degenerate into
orgies. To realise the æsthetic possibilities of an art which is
only at its lowest bacchanalian, we must quit the tea-house, that
temple of the senses, and seek the sacred city of Kyōto, where
palace and monastery raise, like antique junks, their majestic or
quaintly carven heads above white waves of cherry-blossom....

It is April. While English weather is struggling in spasmodic
furies of wind and rain to escape the clutch of winter, here the
enfranchised spring creeps, fairy-like, from plain to height
on rosy sandals. First Tōkyō, whose hundred miles of unpaved
thoroughfare fatigue the foot and offend the eye with naked
dreariness, is clothed with draperies of fleecy pink. The spacious
parks of Ueno and Shiba are thronged with gazing multitudes, who
ride or saunter all day long through flower-encumbered avenues. At
night the river-reaches of Mukōjima are packed with pleasure-boats,
whose lanterns gleam like fire-flies beneath the pale mass of
overhanging bloom. Yamaguchi San, who by trade is a rice merchant
but by nature a poet, has written in the intervals of business,
which is not brisk at this time of year, a little sheaf of poems,
each consisting of three lines, which run perpendicularly down
strips of iridescent rice-paper. So far as their purport can be
construed into grosser forms of verse, I take it to be as follows:


      “Put on your brightest _kimono_,
      O Haru San, and let us go!

      “Bring ivory chop-sticks, lacquer-cup,
      And rice and wine, that we may sup.

      “On honourable trees is set
      A rosy-petalled coronet.

      “The shine of day, the sheen of night,
      Are drowned in cherry-blossom-light.

      “We have no need of sun or star
      To revel at Mukōjima.”

But Mukōjima is no more to be compared with Yoshino than
Rosherville with Stonehenge. The trees which line the broad
Sumidagawa are beautiful but modern; their festal boughs are
familiarised and a little vulgarised by the loud merry-making of
cockney crowds; all this shouting and laughing recall a barbarian’s
bank-holiday. Far westward, on the ridges of Yoshino, where
no modern city disturbs the silence of the imperial _tumuli_,
encircled by a low granite fence and enclosing dusty gold relics of
dead kings, grow the Thousand Cherry-Trees of immemorial renown.
Motoöri sang of them; Hiroshigi painted them; Jimmu. Tenno, the
first of the Mikados, in his mausoleum fifteen miles away, is
hardly more venerable than they. Every year pilgrims pass through
the bronze gateway of the Zo-o-do Temple and climb the mountain
side to rest beneath the canopy of tender, billowy blossom, which
broods like an ever-renascent cloud of beauty above the Yamato
plain, endeared by thirteen centuries of history and romance. Many
pleasure-seekers mix with the white-robed pilgrims, who belong
for the most part to distant villages and look on religion as
an excellent excuse for change of interest and change of scene.
Heedless of theology and harassed by no conviction of original
sin, they return, like happy children from a picnic, with eyes
brightened by the sea of colour and spirits clarified by pure
mountain air. Soon the green hills are carpeted with flakes of
soft flowerage; the brief splendour of the Thousand Trees is
over; the scattered hamlets and holy mounds resume their ordinary
quietude.

At Kyōto the cult of the national flower culminates in an annual
celebration, the Miyako-odori, a spectacular ballet with choric
interludes. For many years the same poet, an old resident, has been
assigned the task of composing appropriate lyrics, in which the
glories of some historic or legendary hero blend with the praises
of the blushing _sakura_. Musicians, painters, dancers, are engaged
to elaborate with auxiliary sound, design, and movement the series
of dream-pictures which his fancy has evoked. But words and notes
are really subsidiary to the dancing: the tale of the poet is
chiefly told by the winding feet and waving arms, the ever-changing
pose and mimicry, of the most highly trained geisha in Japan.
These number as many as seventy, of whom eighteen combine the
functions of choir and orchestra, now chanting, now accompanying
on drum and mandoline the statuesque or processional development
of the choregraphic theme. The Hanami-Kōji, specially set apart
for such representations, is not easy to find. Though within the
precincts of the theatrical quarter, it stands a little apart from
the other houses, such as the Gion-za Theatre, and is far less
capacious; in fact, it bears about the same proportion to its huge,
banner-flaunting brethren as the smaller Queen’s Hall to Drury
Lane. The structure, too, is entirely different from theirs. Three
sides of the building are reserved for the performers. Instead of
the parallel _hana-michi_, trisecting the audience and sloping
from stage to entrance, two dancing platforms skirt the “pit” on
left and right and join the extremities of the scene: on them
sit the singing-girls, concealed at first by cotton curtains. No
room remains for the public but the floor between the platforms
and a gallery, which faces the drop-scene of the stage proper. As
the performance only lasts an hour, it is repeated four or five
times in the afternoon and evening of twenty days, and the price
of admission to the best (gallery) seats is fifty _sen_, about
one shilling, for economy and simplicity are conspicuous in this
essentially popular entertainment.

The dance is preceded by a ceremonious reception of great interest
to the foreign visitor. He is conducted to an ante-room and
requested to participate in _O Cha-no-yu_, an august tea-making.
The preparation of this aristocratic refreshment must be conducted
in accordance with inviolable rules, invented or rather modified
by the great Taikō himself, who, not content with military glory,
desired to regulate the boudoir as imperiously as the State, in
this resembling Queen Anne, who “would sometimes counsel take and
sometimes tea.” The twelve utensils employed must be separately
cleansed and waved in air by the demure but smart damsel who
presides with becoming dignity and science, every gesture, every
operation of her deft hands being prescribed by rigid etiquette.
After twenty minutes of silent incantation, as it seems, the dainty
sorceress has brewed her potion. Then a careful sub-sorceress, who
has attentively waited on the principal witch, prostrates herself
at the feet of each of the guests, touches the floor with her
forehead, and, as she presents a cup of thick, green _bouillon_,
murmurs, “Oh, gracious stranger, deign to taste this honourable
tea!” Long as the tea ceremonies appear to the uninitiated,
they are considerably shortened and imperfectly observed by the
tea-drinkers, who, it is feared, break a thousand and one rules in
uncouth efforts to copy the better educated Japanese.

As seen from the strangers’ gallery (for the majority of humble
coolies and small shopkeepers have been waiting in patient line
until the august tea has been absorbed by their betters, and now
sit, packed in tiny compartments, on the floor of the pit) this
liliputian theatre has much in common with the galanty-show which
first kindled a passion for the stage in distant childhood. The
drop-scenes are scarcely more than nine feet high, and of such
thin material that through their pale pattern of willow and pine
the shining of candles is discerned. It would not surprise me if
they grew gradually whiter and brighter, serving at last as the
medium for a droll shadow-pantomime of fantastic silhouettes. But
even the children would not have come to see that, since their eyes
have often followed at home the ingenious shadow-play of parental
hands behind the paper-panelled _shōji_. Rarer and more exotic
must be the show to please this easily amused but quickly sated
audience. Suddenly the curtains on either side lift, disclosing
to the left nine geisha, holding _taiko_ or _tzuzumi_, circular
drums and drums conical, beaten with batons or smacked with open
palm; to the right, nine more, with _koto_ and _samisen_, plucking
the strings with curved finger or ivory plectrum: all are much
powdered and painted, but soberly attired in black and gold. The
prelude lacks melody, lacks harmony, as we understand them, but the
sharp, staccato cries, emphasised by drum-taps, the antiphonal,
diminishing shrieks, which seem to punctuate a nasal, wailing
recitative, insensibly induce a nervous tension of disquieting
suspense. The time is most exact: the drums rattle, the zithers
clang, in perfect unison. Then along the narrow platforms in front
of the musicians issue simultaneously from beneath the gallery two
slender files of geisha, whose pink and blue _kimono_ suggest the
hues of cherry-blossom and the else cloudless sky. Like running
ribbons, they wind towards the stage, festooning at last into a
momentary bow before the famous gate, called O Kuru-ma-yose, of
which the curiously carven peonies and phœnixes are admirably
reproduced, evoking instant recognition. While the dancers
disappear through that pictured portal and the curtain falls on the
first figure of the dance, let me briefly indicate the subject and
intention of this year’s fantasy.

Its hero is Hideyoshi, often entitled Taikō (the retired regent),
next to Iyeyasu perhaps the most notable name in all Japanese
history--so proverbially notable that Cromwell and Napoleon are
not more vividly impressed on the memory of their countrymen.
His dramatic rise from rung to rung of the feudal ladder, from
peasant’s hut to a regent’s palace, which none but a noble
had occupied before him; the contrast of his mean appearance,
which caused him to be dubbed “The Monkey,” with his grandiose
achievements, which included the commercial supremacy of Ōsaka and
the subjugation of Corea; his dreams of world-empire; the patronage
of art, which led him to summon a congress of tea-drinkers and to
take an active part in the presentation of _Nō_ plays; the adroit
concentration of power in his own person, despite the jealousy of
patricians and the victories of contemporary generals; these and
many other circumstances of his career loom large in patriotic
tradition. He was eclipsed by Iyeyasu in statesmanship, for the
latter founded a constitution and established a dynasty, which
lasted two hundred years, and might have lasted longer but for
foreign intervention; yet Hideyoshi’s is the more picturesque,
the more striking personality. Perhaps it would not be straining
an historical parallel to allege that the great soldier of Kyōto
prepared the way for the great legislator of Yedo as effectively
as Julius Cæsar prepared the way for Augustus. Be this so or not,
it is plain that the beginning of the seventeenth century after
Christ in Japan and the end of the last century before Christ in
Italy coincided with similar transitions from militant anarchy to
peaceful despotism. The golden age of the Tokugawa may be cited as
an argument for imperial rule with the _pax Romana_ of the Cæsars.
It might be supposed that the names of Iyeyasu and Hideyoshi have
no more virtue as a rallying-cry for their descendants than the
watchwords of Roundhead and Cavalier have for us. But such is not
the case. Subtly reincarnate in the cities which they glorified in
life, their spirits still give battle after death in the bloodless
field of civic rivalry. Tōkyō is still Yedo, the Petersburg of
the empire, created by a despot’s will and the centre of law, of
authority, of administration; but it is to Kyōto, as to Moscow,
the holy city, that lovers of art and of religion are inevitably
attracted. Hers are still the finer temples, the lovelier fabrics,
the nobler legacies of Old Japan. One thing, however, she has not,
which the capital has--a fitting monument of her greatest citizen.
Whereas the mausoleum of Iyeyasu at Nikkō is such a masterpiece of
commemorative gratitude, expressed in the language of plastic and
decorative art, that “whoever has not seen Nikkō [so runs the saw]
has no right to use the word _kekkō_ (splendid),” the conqueror
of Corea, the arbiter of august tea-making, lacks the tribute of
a monumental tomb. This stain on the scutcheon of Kyōto is to be
speedily wiped out. Now that the Emperor has transferred his court
to the eastern capital and made the Tokugawa citadel his own, the
western merchants are eager to redress the balance by building
on the heights of Maruyama for the glory of Hideyoshi and the
bewilderment of tourists such a triumph of memorial architecture
that Iyeyasu shall at last he outshone and the connotation of
_kekkō_ be fraught with ampler meaning. The plans are drawn,
the work begun, patriots and pilgrims have subscribed thousands
of _yen_, the best modern artists in wood and bronze have been
charged with the heavy privilege of surpassing their illustrious
predecessors. Whether they succeed or not, the Hideyoshi monument
was a subject so rich in suggestion, so popular in itself, so
complex in its appeal, that the poet of the Miyako-odori could
not wish for a better or more burning theme. And that is why the
pink-and-blue geisha made their first exit through O Kuruma-yose,
which Hidari Jingoro, the immortal left-handed carpenter, adorned
with marvellous birds and flowers when commissioned to carve a
royal gateway for his master’s, the Taikō’s, palace at Fushimi.

The next scene represented Hideyoshi’s garden. It is no ordinary
garden, whatever foreigners may think, who merely see in it an
appropriate background for the swaying flower-like bodies of the
dancing-girls. It is a masterpiece of the celebrated æsthete,
Kobori Enshu, and the artful disposition of lake and lantern,
pebble and pine, may symbolise, for all I know, a divine truth
or philosophic precept. My neighbour (a Buddhist neophyte,
whose enthusiasm is tempered by erudition) points out to me the
Moon-Washing Fountain, the Stone of Ecstatic Contemplation, and
the Bridge of the Pillar of the Immortals, but it seems that the
exigencies of scenic space have so fatally curtailed the Mound
facing the Moon that the exact meaning of the parabolic design is
made obscure, if not heretical. It is not in my power to reassure
him, so I welcome with relief the reappearance of the dancers, who,
bearing flowers in one hand and a fan in the other, step gaily out
of the garden and, posing, perching, pirouetting, flutter with
deliberate grace through a maze of correlated motions. I do not
dare to ask if their gestures point a moral: it is wiser to assume
with Keats that “beauty is truth, truth beauty,” and to follow with
undistracted eye the solemn prettiness of these human dragon-flies.
For their gauzy _kimono_ sleeves and red-pepper-coloured _obi_
recall the wings and hue of a giant dragon-fly, which dominates
in its pride of national emblem the principal bridge over the
Kamogawa. And, whether they poise flower on fan or fan on flower,
or revolve with open fan extended behind their triple-tressed
coiffure, they dart here and settle there with almost the
unconscious, automatic smoothness of bird or insect. Proximity
destroys this illusion. Watched from the subjacent vantage of the
floor, the features of these tiny _coryphées_ are seen to wear that
fixity of resolute attention which few children when engrossed in
a performance are able to repress. The art of concealing art is
hard to learn. Their elder sisters smile continually behind _taiko_
and _samisen_, but the gravity of the childish troupe is more in
keeping with the poet’s retrospective vision.

I hope the stage-carpenter atoned for his unorthodox abbreviation
of Enshu’s lesson in landscape by the exquisite view of the
monastery of Uji Bridge. Nestling in the lap of pine-forested
hills, this ancient temple of Byōdō-in has been for at least six
hundred years the protective centre of vast tea-plantations where
is grown the finest tea for native taste, called Gyokuro, or
Jewelled Dew. But Uji Bridge is famous also for its fire-flies,
which on warm nights flash like living jewels beside the stream,
to the joy of countless sightseers, eager to catch and cage them.
Throughout the ensuing dance many eyes were diverted from the
geisha to the sparkling play of emerald motes across the mimic
Ujigawa. This time the girls wore kerchiefs such as peasant women
wear when, with heads thus guarded and skirts rolled upward to the
knee, they toil among the tea-plants. Then, unfolding and waving
the kerchiefs, while a soloist intoned a rhapsody in honour of
“the Great Councillor, whose memory lives for ever in the fragrant
sweetness of the Jewelled Dew,” they moved in pairs along the
platform, alternately kneeling and rising, with arms extended or
intertwined, their gradual retrocession signifying, as I learn, the
reluctant withdrawal of summer.

Autumn succeeds. Momiji-Yama, or Maple Mountain, deeply mantled
in myriads of reddening leaves, gives the cue to the now
melancholy, almost stationary languor of gliding figures: no longer
dragon-flies or humming-birds, they drift slowly, one by one, into
the crimson gorge, and are lost among the maple-leaves. At this
point the floral march of the seasons is abruptly broken, as if to
forbid too hasty interpretation, by the fall of tricolour curtains,
richly embroidered in scarlet, blue, and gold with Hideyoshi’s
crest, the large fan-like leaf of the _Pawlonia Imperialis_.

The five-storeyed pagoda of Omuro Gosho, outlined in snow against
the wintry landscape, signalises an ascent from temporal to eternal
beauty. To this monastic palace ex-mikados came after abdication;
it had no abbots but those of imperial blood. And the next scene,
presenting the Daibutsu, or great Buddha of Hideyoshi, is elegantly
illustrative of the Buddhist teaching of permanence in transition.
The first wooden image, 160 feet high, erected by the Taiko in
1588, was destroyed by earthquake in 1596. After his death his
widow constructed a second in bronze, which was almost completed
save for the casting of the head when fire devoured it in 1603.
Lastly, his son, Hideyori, persuaded by perfidious Ieyaysu to
waste his substance in rearing a yet more colossal figure, was
forbidden to consecrate it by a message from the Shōgun, who chose
to discover in the Chinese inscription on the bell (“On the east I
welcome the bright moon, on the west I bid farewell to the setting
sun”) a prophecy of his own waning and Hideyoshi’s waxing radiance.
A second earthquake in 1662, corrosive lightnings in 1775 and 1798,
consumed successive Buddhas in the same shrine, but the present
god, whose gilded head and shoulders alone are visible, scaling
fifty-eight feet from ground to ceiling, has defied the strokes
of fate for ninety-nine years, and recalls to pious beholders
the original builder’s piety, triumphant at last through the
irresistible resurrection of deity.

Resurrection--the recurrence of spring and the renovation of
fame--crowns the final movement of this transcendental ballet.
The Hideyoshi monument, as it partly is and wholly shall be,
rises tier above tier on heaven-scaling stairs, approached by
temples and groves which will one day vie in splendour with the
carven gateways, the gigantic cryptomerias of Nikkō. In a joyous
finale the dancers pose, wreathed about the central summit of the
monument, while cascades of red and green fire play on them from
the wings; then, strewing the steps with cherry-blossom and waving
provocative clusters in the faces of the spectators as they pass,
the double stream of geisha flows back with graceful whirls and
eddies between banks of deafening minstrelsy; the curtains rustle
down, the fires flicker out; the Miyako-odori is no more.

As I ponder on this fascinating little spectacle, planned by
artists and presented by fairies, the memory returns of a ballet,
incalculably more magnificent, which the rich municipality of
Moscow organised in honour of Nicholas II., Emperor of all the
Russias, on the occasion of his coronation. I remember that
thousands of roubles were expended; that the decorations and
costumes blazed with ostentation; that armies of half-dressed
women performed acrobatic feats in searching electric light. If
any flowers of imagination had bloomed in the contriver’s mind,
they had been pitilessly crushed by costumiers, scene-painters, and
ballet-masters. The result was a meretricious chaos of meaningless
display. Hidden from the eyes of Moscow merchants and revealed to
the patient artisans of Kyōto is that spirit of beauty, which,
out of cotton and paper and Bengal lights can fashion a poem, so
lovely that its simple schemes of form and colour haunt the memory
like music, so profound that the deepest instincts of the beholder
may be stirred by communion with the faith in which his fathers
laboured and died.

It may well have been, however, that the shaven stripling beside me
who so kindly unravelled threads of occasional doctrine from the
glistening web of Terpsichore was almost alone in his desire to be
edified. As he formally took his leave, most of the pittites rushed
with laughter up the hill to the Chionin Temple, before which
stands a marvellous and patriarchal cherry-tree. Lamps were hung in
its far-reaching boughs, and all night long the light-hearted Kyōto
citizens chattered and sang beneath its multitudinous blossom.

The connection between Buddhism and geishadom was recalled to me
in a much less poetic setting by a peculiar play, which for seven
nights filled the commodious theatre of Tsuruga, a delightful port
overlooking the finest harbour on the Sea of Japan. The piece was
called “Shimazomasa,” and the audience was moved to extraordinary
demonstrations of delight by a very long soliloquy delivered for
at least ten minutes by a Buddhist priest, who, seated on a mat in
the centre of the stage and tapping his knees with a fan, excited
my liveliest curiosity as to the purport of his tirade. Could
it be a parody on pulpit eloquence? Would these pious townsmen,
whose bay was lined with temples, tolerate such mockery of sacred
things? The curtain fell and drew up again: the actor was forced
to repeat his glib soliloquy. Then, to my extreme bewilderment,
the priest was no more seen, and a tortuous but intelligible
melodrama ensued, revealing the thefts and treacheries of a geisha,
who came in the last act to a miserable end. The next night I
returned, and being in time for the first act, which I had missed
on the previous occasion, discovered that the plausible preacher
was the geisha disguised. She had escaped from prison, and was
recounting to herself the advantages which she expected to reap
from the garb of a friar. “Young girls will come to me, craving
amulets and charms for their lovers. Thus I shall know the names of
honourable young men, who will not be slow to make my acquaintance.
And, when we have sipped tea and talked of many pleasant things
together, at the right time I shall whisper that it is no priest
who is honoured by their august friendship, but Shimazomasa, the
geisha. Moreover, I am sure to succeed, for a preacher ought to
be a good-looking man. It is then easier for the hearers to keep
their eyes fixed on his face; otherwise their eyes wander and
they forget to listen.” It has been pointed out to me since that
passages in this delectable sermon were taken bodily from the
“Makura Zoshi” (“Pillow Sketches”), the work of a lady-novelist
of the eleventh century. But plagiarism is no sin in the eyes of
a Japanese dramatist, and the great merit was to have hit on an
original situation. The manager of the theatre was so conscious of
this, that, when a second play, entitled “Pistorigoto” (“Robbery
under Arms”), failed to draw as well as its predecessor, he boldly
transferred the incident without rhyme or reason to the plot, which
was neither improved nor worsened by the addition. I was grateful,
too, to the author of “Shimazomasa” for a touch of fancy, which
redeemed the realism of his sensational story. During a love scene
between three suitors and the heroine, who had regained for a time
prestige and prosperity, a symbolic geisha, bearing no relation to
the personages of the piece, chanted in an upper barred chamber,
adjoining the outer wall of the tea-house in which the action was
proceeding, snatches of erotic song, praising the joys of love but
foretelling the heavy Nemesis which, sooner or later, overtakes
light women. In a play of Æschylus this would have been Erinyes
on the Atridean roof, terrible and invisible, presaging doom. But
I fear that he who wrote “Shimazomasa” had no deeper design than
the interpolation of a taking song, since popular drama is as
untroubled as the popular mind by haunting shadows of death and
destiny.



VULGAR SONGS



VULGAR SONGS

  “As for the common people, they have songs of their own, which
  conform as far as possible to classical models, but are much
  mixed with colloquialisms, and are accordingly despised by all
  well-bred persons. The ditties sung by singing-girls to the
  twanging of the guitar belong to this class.”--B. H. CHAMBERLAIN.


Poetry is the most meretricious of arts. Among its adherents are
more unconscious snobs than in any of the classes distinguished
and damned by Thackeray. This is because extrinsic ornament, the
use of words to dazzle or conceal, like jewels or cosmetics, has
more effect on most readers than intrinsic beauty, be it depth of
feeling or exactitude of thought. Poets are to be excused, and
often applauded, for pandering to our eyes and ears instead of
ministering to our souls. It is better to admire a mean thought
or paltry emotion, draped in exquisite folds of melody and
colour, than to deplore a fine theme, marred by vile and clumsy
treatment, just as a plain woman, dressed to satisfy the most
critical arbiter of elegance, is more pleasing to contemplate than
a bank-holiday belle, however comely, in discordant frock and
feathers. Now, a beautiful woman beautifully robed is as rare as a
poem of which the sense is æsthetically equal to the form; hence,
words being cheaper than ideas and pretty things more plentiful
than pretty features, we delight in second-rate women and in
second-rate poetry, for want of first-rate, until, the taste being
corrupted, we are inclined to endorse Théophile Gautier’s canon,
_La perfection de la forme c’est la vertu_. The farther we follow
this misleading maxim, the farther we leave behind us that most
vital poetry, life itself. Often this fact is not perceived, for
secondary art has generated secondary emotion: we derive pleasure
from allusion rather than illusion, from sleight of wit rather
than strength of spirit. Tennyson tells an Arthurian story, or
wishes to, and his listeners are so charmed by the irrelevant
embroidery of sound and simile that they do not perceive that
what they obediently consider a _naïf_ barbarian, the hero, is
really a Broad Church country-parson in fancy dress. Mr. Swinburne
writes an Athenian play, or intends to, and his readers are so
ravished by the splendour of intrusive rhetoric that they are in no
mood to distinguish between archaic piety and nineteenth-century
free-thought. Thus the modern crowns his Muse with paper roses,
cleverly manufactured, while the true flower blushes undisturbed or
fades in humbler keeping.

Fortunately it happens from time to time that the caprice of
fashion lights upon a real rose, which is at once admired not only
by the connoisseurs, but by the uncultivated crowd, which has never
been taught to appreciate paper roses. Only it is to be observed
that the former class retain their reputation by denying the name
of rose to the new flower: it is a cowslip, a daisy--nothing
more. Having ceased to be meretricious, the kind of verse I mean
has ceased to be poetry, in the opinion of these judges; on the
contrary, they insist that, in their eyes, by discarding the
frippery of language, which they rate so highly, the author of it
is no poet, but a vulgar writer. And so, in the highest sense of
the word, he is. He has touched the heart of the vulgar; he has
found a common factor, which will “go” successfully “into” any
assemblage of figures. Take, for instance, three capital instances
of vulgar songs, which, as it seems to me, comply with the
conditions demanded of poetry, that it shall communicate at once
a vivid picture and a direct emotion. When Mr. Albert Chevalier
sings--

      “We’ve been together naow for forty year,
        And it don’t seem a dy too much;
      There ain’t a lydy livin’ in the land
        As I’d swop for my dear old Dutch,”

the pathos of life-long love is conveyed quite as poignantly, if
not so verbosely, as by Goethe in “Hermann and Dorothea.” It is not
literature, but it is poetry. When Mlle. Yvette Guilbert sings--

      “J’ termine ma lettre en t’embrassant,
        Adieu, mon homme,
      Quoique tu ne soy pas caressant
        J’ t’adore comme
      J’adorais l’ Bon Dieu comm’ Papa,
        Quand j’étais p’tite,
      Et que j’allais communier à
        Ste. Marguerite,”

the pathos of recollected innocence in a prostitute of Montmartre
is more intense, because less diffusely obtained, than by Victor
Hugo in the case of Fantine. The chanson of Aristide Bruant
is not literature, but it is poetry. The highest instance of
non-literary poetry is afforded by “The Barrack-room Ballads.” It
is impossible to deny that the best of them are as vivid and as
poignant as any poems ever written. Yet they deliberately distress
conventional ears by their substitution of power for beauty as
governing principle. But even they retain too much literary skill
to illustrate my theory. How surprised were many Londoners when
Alphonse Daudet was touched by the rollicking doggerel of “Her
golden hair was hanging down her back!” To them there was nothing
pathetic in the refrain--

      “Oh, Flo! What a change, you know!
        When she left the village she was shy;
      But alas! and alack! She’s come back
        With a naughty little twinkle in her eye.”

But the distinguished novelist, with his fine sense of the
thinly-veiled tragedies of life, was touched. The young gentleman
from college, the labourer’s daughter; the visit to London,
the descent of the girl from stupid simplicity to knowing
naughtiness--the whole sordid, pitiable tale lay for him in a
badly-written ditty, cynically set to a dancing tune. It takes a
foreigner, whose ears have been sealed by fate to the siren-voices
of an alien literature, to make such discoveries as this, to
discern poetry where literature is woefully wanting. Therefore I am
not in the least disconcerted to learn that the Japanese “common
people have songs of their own ... despised by all well-bred
persons,” but which illustrate for me this familiar phenomenon
of non-literary poetry. As a foreigner, I am better fitted to
appreciate them. When O Wakachio San sings--

      “Andon kakitate
      Negao mozoki
      Yoso no onna no
      Horeru-hazu,”

it may be that she tortures a refined ear by “colloquialisms,”
but to me her words disclose this graphic thumb-nail sketch of
a jealous wife, leaping in one miserable moment from surmise to
certainty:

      I, with trimmed lantern,
      Scan thy face, sleeping:
      By a strange woman
              Thou art beloved.

If the singing-girl’s vulgar song can stir at times as keen a throb
of sympathy as the ditties which celebrate a “coster’s courtship”
or a gigolette’s captivity, yet this effect and colloquial phrasing
are the only points of resemblance. The points of difference are
so numerous that, before quoting other specimens from a geisha’s
_répertoire_, something should be said of the characteristics
peculiar to this and all Japanese verse.

The most obvious trait of recognised and unrecognised poems is
their brevity. The great majority of them consist of three, four,
or five lines, in which the number of syllables is either five or
seven. Even the so-called Naga-uta (long songs), which enjoyed a
short period of popular favour, seldom ran to more than a few dozen
lines. Oldest and most classical of metres is the Tanka, a stanza
of thirty-one syllables, and a Tanka competition is held every
New Year, for which a theme is chosen by the Emperor. In January
1896 thousands of amateur poets composed “Congratulations Compared
to a Mountain”; in the following year they sang of “Pine-trees
Reflected in Water.” The Royal Family itself takes part, and the
whole nation thus inaugurates the year with libations of lyrical
enthusiasm. Motoöri’s famous comparison of Japanese patriotism to
cherry-blossom radiant on the hills at sunrise is a good example of
the Tanka:

      “Shikishima no
      Yamato-gokoro wo
      Hito towaba,
      Asahi ni niou
      Yama zakura bana.”

This may be rendered--

      Heart of our Island,
      Heart of Yamato,
      If one should ask you
              What it may be;
      Fragrance is wafted
      Through morning sunlight
      Over the mountain,
              Cherry-trees bloom.

But the Hokku or Haikai, which dates from the fifteenth century,
imprisons the soul of wit in a cell of even briefer dimensions. It
gives the Tanka fourteen syllables start, and covers the course in
three strides of five, seven, and five. The pace is so swift that
it almost always requires an exegetic field-glass (a microscope and
a race of animalcula were perhaps a fitter comparison) to estimate
the astonishing triumphs of this wee Pegasus. One of the winners
established this remarkable record:

      “Asagao ni
        Tsurube torarete,
      Morai mizu.”

The naked eye perceives in this, indistinctly--

      By convolvulus
        Well bucket taken:
      Gift-water.

Mr. B. H. Chamberlain’s powerful glasses reveal the merit and the
secret of this achievement so clearly that I borrow them for the
readers use. “The poetess Chiyo,” it appears, “having gone to
her well one morning to draw water, found that some tendrils of
convolvulus had twined themselves round the rope. As a poetess
and a woman of taste, she could not bring herself to disturb the
dainty blossoms. So, leaving her own well to the convolvuli, she
went out and begged water of a neighbour.” Both Tanka and Haikai
may enter for the prizes of polite literature, but the Dodoitsu,
being reserved for vulgar songs, is “despised by all well-bred
persons.” As reasonably might the plebeian “moke” of ’Enery ’Awkins
aspire to run at Ascot or Goodwood, as the Dodoitsu be classed
with Haikai and Tanka! Culture ignores it; society excludes it
from the list of intellectual amusements. Yet its inferiority is
sometimes more apparent than real. The metre is a happy medium
between the two aristocratic favourites, since it consists of four
lines, containing twenty-six syllables in all; three lines of seven
syllables are clenched by a finale of five. It very often enshrines
a sweet fancy, a delicate image, a chiselled exclamation of grief,
or faith, or roguery. The nearest analogue to all three would be
the epigram, were it not that the Oriental poet frequently aims at
nothing more than a pictorial flash; a landscape seen by lightning,
a life divined by instinct; a momentary miniature, not a condensed
conclusion. I can think of but one English poem which partially
follows the same method, Robert Browning’s “Apparitions”:

      “Such a starved bank of moss
        Till, that May-morn,
      Blue ran the flash across:
        Violets were born!

      “World--how it walled about
        Life with disgrace
      Till God’s own smile came out:
        That was thy face!”

Yet, bright and clean-cut though it be, this gem is clouded by
metaphors which would puzzle the Japanese intellect. It would
fail to grasp the meaning of “a starved bank”; it would miss the
identity of “God’s smile” with a human face. Personification and
metaphor lie outside its limits: even the simile is rare. In the
forty or fifty Dodoitsu which I have collected and translated no
simile is employed, unless both branches are plainly indicated.
They abound in fancy; they lack imagination. They derive their
very force from this limpet-like allegiance to fact, their
suggestiveness from the assurance that the quick-witted but
unimaginative reader will associate one fact with others of the
same order and not be misled by the vagaries of Western vision. To
the Western mind, on the other hand, this association, wanting in
his experience, will sometimes need explanation; at other times
the meaning is crystal-clear. There are shades of significance,
touches of tenderness, which escape translation because dependent
on grammatical peculiarities which no European tongues possess.
The personal pronoun, generally unexpressed, by its absence
generalises and so humanises the passion of a lover’s cry; a
reticence is gained which accords well with the shrinking delicacy
of a sensitive heart. When expressed, the word for “I” will connote
submission, the word for “thou” lordship or lovership, by a double
sense, impossible to convey. Thus, the very structure of Japanese
verse, even in the case of vulgar songs, forbids that literary
luxuriance which makes modern English poetry “meretricious” because
tricked out with superfluous gewgaws. You cannot daub such a tiny
profile with Tennysonian enamel or Swinburnian rouge. On the other
hand, it were absurd to pretend that the Tanka, much less the
Dodoitsu, is often of superlative value. For one which embeds in
amber a scene or sentiment of exceptional worth, a thousand will
deserve as much immortality as an ingenious riddle or far-fetched
pun. Yet, it being conceded that their literary pretensions amount
to nil, a foreign student will find in the hundreds of Dodoitsu,
published anonymously in paper-covered volumes, which cost about
three farthings, an inexhaustible fund of plebeian sentimentality
and humour.

Apology should perhaps be offered for the very imperfect mould in
which I have attempted to recast the Dodoitsu. If the reader will
repeat to himself, dwelling equally on each syllable, the following
poem, he will remark three things: first, the absence of rhyme;
secondly, the liquid lapse of melodious words; thirdly, the sudden
jerk with which it terminates:

      “Nushi to neru toki
      Makura ga iranu
      Tagaï-chigaï no
                O te makura.”

I have adopted a metre which avoids rhyme and ends abruptly, but
runs more swiftly than the original. I have prefixed a title. Thus
the preceding poem becomes--


PILLOW SONG.

      Sleeping beside thee,
      No need of pillow;
      Thine arm and mine arm,
              Pillows are they.

This being alternative to the method sometimes adopted of literal
unrhythmical translation, I hope occasional licence will be
condoned. This is what I might have written:

      Lord-and-master (or Thee)-with-sleep-when,
      Pillow-indeed-no-go-;
      Mutual-different-of
      Honourable-Arm-Pillow.

To be quite literal is to be crudely unintelligible; the absence
of all gender, number, and person makes certain interpolations
inevitable. At the same time, the translator must take for his
unvarying motto _Sancta simplicitas_.

Love, of course, inspires innumerable quatrains, which fly from
mouth to mouth, from geisha to gejo, like butterflies from one
blossom to another. Sometimes it is the man who speaks, as in the
following:


SNOW SONG.

      Careless of snow-drifts,
      Nightly I seek thee;
      Deeper the love lies,
              Heaped in my heart.

More often the woman, who does not allow her sense of humour to be
atrophied by passion. But perhaps the humour is quite unconscious
in this description of


LOVERS MEETING.

      So much to talk of!
      Yet for joy weeping,
      Words, when we meet, fall
              Head over heels.

Bodily beauty is, of course, particularly fascinating to a race
which cannot be pronounced less susceptible to its charm than
those European peoples--Greek, Italian, French--whose feeling
for line and colour is reckoned a superiority in them to their
Northern neighbours. Yet the panegyric of his mistress’s hair or
eyes or bosom is entirely banished from even vulgar songs. Innate
refinement rather than cold indifference is probably the cause. The
tree of the spirit is preferred to the fruit and flowerage of the
flesh. Yet one seems to detect a flavour of apology in this:


CONFESSION.

      Stylish appearance
      Does not bewitch me;
      Fruits pass, and flowers:
              I love the tree.

The Japanese word _ki_ signifies both “tree” and “spirit.” Quite
commonplace, I own, is the consolation afforded by some lines
engraven on a toothpick, but how many almond-eyed maidens visiting
the tea-house which thus combined mental with carnal refreshment
have tittered to read them!


CONSOLATION.

      In mine ears linger
      Words said at parting;
      Sleeping alone, I
              Hope for a dream.

Rather quaint is the following lament over conjugal
incompatibility. But the wife knows that she must submit, on
pain of divorce; and the word _kigane_, which I have rendered
“trouble,” is used of little inevitable domestic worries. The terms
“fire-nature” and “water-nature” are taken from Chinese philosophy.


INCOMPATIBILITY.

      Thou, cold as water,
      I, hot as fire;
      Till we to earth turn,
              Trouble is mine.

Mathematicians who revel in romance of the fourth dimension will
note with pleasure this little sum in amorous arithmetic:


ADDITION.

      Longing to meet thee,
      Longing to see thee,
      Six and four inches,
              Passion’s a-foot!

The exact translation being--

      Longing to meet, six inches,
      Longing to see, four inches,
      These, indeed, being added together,
              Make a _shaku_.

The word _shaku_ has two meanings: (1) a linear foot; (2) a woman’s
hysterical desire. Ten inches go to a Japanese foot.

The separation of lovers is a fruitful topic. I select three poems
which treat of it in divergent but equally piquant manners. The
first might be called--


AMANTIUM IRÆ.

      Would that my heart were
      Cut out and shown thee!
      Quarrelling leaves me
                Deeper in love.

The second contains a hint of that fondness for trees and flowers
which permeates all classes:


AMONG THE PINES.

      If, from thee sundered,
      I roam the pine-wood,
      Can it be dew falls?
              Can it be tears?

The third frames a pretty fancy:


REFLECTION.

      Far from each other,
      Yearning for union;
      Good, were our faces
              Glassed in the moon!

Then it should be remarked that the wife figures as frequently as
the sweetheart in this lyrical woodland, vocal with twittering
sentiment. The European has been so long accustomed to regard
romance as the province of young men and maidens, led through three
volumes or five acts to the altar, that married life is either
prosaic or only to be made interesting by a breach of the Seventh
Commandment. More than ever does he presume that this convention
must apply to domestic life in the East, for he has always been
informed that there a girl must stifle the instincts of her heart
and pass submissively from her father’s to her mother-in-law’s
yoke. As the French saw puts it, _Fille on nous supprime, femme on
nous opprime_. But this reasoning fails to take into account two
modifying considerations. Custom is so tempered by practice that
an affectionate parent (his name is legion) would not risk his
daughter’s happiness by marrying her to an odious or notoriously
evil person. Japanolaters will assert that no Japanese person
can be odious unless corrupted by Western influence. But this is
nonsense. What most makes for happy marriages is the strong sense
of duty and the loving disposition of a Japanese girl. Neither
husband nor wife regards the sexual instinct, however veiled, as
the corner-stone of partnership for life. Obedience to parental
wisdom is the first stage, mutual politeness the second, devotion
to children, begotten or adopted, the third. From these unselfish
elements a high average of felicity is attained, possibly even
higher than elsewhere. However that may be, the wife’s fidelity,
jealousy, affection recur as motives of popular poesy. That
essentially feminine quality which every bachelor has observed in
some otherwise perfect wife “wedded to a churl,” and of which I can
find no better definition than the following verse affords, would
seem common to both hemispheres:


RAISON DE FEMME.

      Dearer than kindness
      Of those I love not
      Is thine unkindness,
              Loved one, to me.

This degrading and doglike devotion explains the joy in service
which robs it of all sting. Take this revolting picture, which I
christen


CONTENTED.

      Gladly on love’s road
      Pulling the rickshaw,
      Undrawn, I draw it
              On to the end.

The husband (selfish brute!) is of course seated in the rickshaw,
and it is worth notice that “love’s road” is the first metaphor we
have encountered. Against the jealous wife, bending, lantern in
hand, over her faithless lord, may be set this quiet tribute of
grateful security:


MY HUSBAND.

      Thou art as yonder
      Delicate hill-pine,
      Through years a thousand
              Ever the same.

It would not occur to a Tōkyō editor to invite his readers in
the silly season to answer the question, “Have women a sense of
humour?” But, if it did, such quatrains as follow might convince
him that they have:


WARNING.

      I am my master’s
      Single-flowered cherry;
      Folk seeking blossom
              Bend no boughs here.


WAITING.

      All night I waited,
      Yet my lord came not;
      None but the moon came
              Under my net.

The _kaya_ (mosquito-net) is not a mere curtain, but a green gauze
room within a room, suspended from the corners of the ceiling.

Humour has indeed discharged thousands of these pretty pellets,
which lend themselves admirably to satire, drollery, and play
on words. Yet these are precisely the most difficult to render.
A jest, of which the point depends on punning ambiguity, should
never cross the frontier. When a foreigner has been made to see
the quaint conjunction of incongruous ideas, he will yet miss the
surprise attending identity of sound, which strikes with comic
duplicity a native ear. Moreover, the Japanese looks for verbal
legerdemain in his most serious literature with an appreciation
that seems puerile to us, who relegate puns and riddles to
half-educated minds. There is an equally large field of fun which
can only be indicated, since British prudery plants it round with
fig-trees. The Japanese, like the French, see no harm in tipping
Apollo’s arrows with malicious mirth to assail humanity in the arms
of Venus, where it cuts a vulnerable and often ridiculous figure.
The Anglo-Saxon professes to exclude comedy from the bedroom. He
gains in dignity; he loses in gaiety. If this same comedy, banished
to the smoking-room, descend to too gross levels, he has only to
cross the Channel and will find at the Palais Royal or elsewhere
such traps for laughter as Shakespeare and Aristophanes did not
disdain to set. He supposes that the interests of morality require
many drags on the wheels of humour. He is generally sincere: the
restraint is not imposed by “hypocrisy,” as foreigners believe and
assert. But neither is the opposite assumption justified, that
races which permit themselves more joyous licence are less virtuous
than our own. On the contrary, they find in laughter a safety-valve
sanctioned by custom. And it seems to me that Madame and Okamisan,
who are free to giggle behind their fans at audacious pleasantry,
are placed by destiny in a more fortunate attitude than the British
matron, who is reduced to indignation or discomfort. Critics of
Japanese poems, novels, and plays usually dismiss this element of
mirth with the adjective “pornographic,” but the epithet (if it
presuppose an ignobly prostituted pen) entirely misses the mark.
The passages so labelled do not allure readers with the promise
of forbidden fruit: they merely denote a wider range of innoxious
merriment, indulged in by a nation whose sense of humour is as yet
unfettered by our local and artificial sense of propriety. The
_naïveté_ of such songs is proved by the fact that they hardly ever
sound a cynical note. The tone of the only one which I shall quote
is exceptional:


LOTHARIO.

      Steered with deft rudder,
      Fooled with soft speeches,
      To my verandah
              I hale her up.

But this song may have the opposite meaning of a woman alluring a
man with soft speeches. As there are no pronouns and no genders in
the vernacular, the sense is entirely ambiguous, and the Japanese
whom I have consulted do not agree. So I append the original:

      “Shita go kaji toru
      Ano kuchiguruma
      Noshite nikai
              Hiki-ageru.”

A fragrant anthology might be compiled of Dodoitsu written in
praise of flowers. There is certainly no other country where
flowers are so universally loved. The humblest cottager will place
in the _tokonoma_ (an alcove with slightly raised daïs) of his
living room an iris, a spray of plum-blossom, or a liliputian
tree. The noble will devote years of patient cultivation to the
production of a chrysanthemum more variegated in colour and shape
than those of his neighbour. Wistaria, lotus, convolvulus, and
azalea vie with the cherry-blossom in attracting sightseers, who
come in crowds to feast their eyes on garden or pond. The arts
of flower-arrangement and landscape-gardening may be looked upon
as branches of science and philosophy; at least, they command
as much veneration. Inevitably, then, is the minstrel’s lyre
enwreathed with innumerable garlands. Yet, possibly because of the
“pathetic fallacy,” which so constantly pervades similar parterres
of English poesy that its absence makes the Japanese flower-plot
seem scentless, the fancies which find expression in this class
of subject appear particularly trivial. Sometimes a personal
preference is stated, as in


WHITE PEONY.

      Full of set flowers,
      Full is my chamber;
      Thou art most stately,
              White peony.

Sometimes the cut blossom is commiserated, as in


ADRIFT.

      Ah! how my petals
      Float in the flower-vase;
      Helpless and rootless;
            Sad is my lot.

Sometimes the operation of a natural law, to which plants as well
as other forms of life are subject, points a moral:


DEATH, THE LEVELLER.

      Peonies, roses,
      Faded, are equal;
      Only while life blooms
              Differ the flowers.

But human egoism, which only sees in nature a background to its
own existence, has not stained with drops of romantic blood these
pale flowerets. No Japanese poet would conceive such a stanza as
that in “Maud”--

      “There has fallen a splendid tear
      From the passion-flower at the gate;
      The larkspur listens ‘I hear,’ ‘I hear’;
      And the lily whispers, ‘I wait.’”

He knows that the Great Mother has other cares more absorbing
than the love-sick suspense of a whining suitor, that the myriad
marriages of bird and beast and blossom are perhaps as much or
as little to her as the predilections of Maud. He would enjoy
Professor Huxley’s rap at the singers who “mistake their sensual
caterwauling for the music of the spheres,” and his pedestrian
fancy would shudder at the unchartered imagination of Tennyson.

Buddhist doctrines have so profoundly influenced thought and
feeling, that thousands of little songs rise daily like prayers
of intercession or gratitude to the Lord Buddha. But these would
demand a volume of explanation, which I am not competent to write.
I select one playful and one serious poem, having reference to
religious ideas. The first might be called


EXTRAVAGANCE.

      Joy drew the rickshaw,
      Heaven takes vengeance,
      Empty the larder,
              Rickshaw of fire.

This may be expanded into: “We drove about in a rickshaw, enjoying
ourselves; we spent all our money; we are punished by Heaven,
for we suffer remorse, like the sinners, who are pulled in fiery
rickshaws by avenging devils in hell.” Such engaging pictures of
a future state are often exhibited at temple _fêtes_, and serve to
stimulate liberality on the part of worshippers. Quite philosophic
is the pessimism of


OCCASION.

      For the moon, cloud-wrack;
      For the flower, tempest;
      For the truth, _this_ world;
              Wanting the hour.

I translate _ukiyo_ by “_this_ world”: the more scrupulous
dictionary renders it by “this fleeting or miserable world, so full
of vicissitudes and unsettled.” For the “vale of tears” is not a
Christian concept only: Mrs. Gummidge was also a Buddhist without
knowing it. It is curious that this theological term, with its
disparaging connotation, was affixed to the modern popular school
of painters, among whom Hokusai is the best known, because they
descended from lofty, conventional subjects to the life of workaday
folk. The central thought of the poem, however, narrowed to a
romantic application, recalls a line by Browning:

      “Never the time and place, and the loved one altogether.”

Writers of Dodoitsu have this advantage over versifiers who employ
more classical metres, that they are not forced by convention to
repeat stereotyped fancies, but are at liberty to invent new ones.
The balloon, the camera, the locomotive, may take the place of
dragon, stork, and phœnix. This pouring of foreign wine into native
bottles produces a quaint blend. A girl thus reproaches her lover
with


INCONSTANCY.

      My heart to body
      Fuel to engine;
      Thy heart an air-ship
              Loose in the sky.

Here the similes are plain and forcible. The next poem is less
lucid:


DESPAIR.

      Borne in no road-car,
      Endless the railway,
      How shall poor I reach
              Station at last?

Literally: “Riding in no vehicle (which is used for a short
journey), the train whithersoever going (for an indefinite
distance), by doing what shall this body of mine, Terminus?” That
is: My love is not a short-lived fancy, but a lifelong passion,
until I reach the terminus of death. Graceful, indeed, but scarcely
gracious is a lady’s reply to an admirer who had sent her his
photograph:


THE HIGHER PHOTOGRAPHY.

      Only your likeness!
      Faithful? I know not.
      Could I but take one,
              Too, of your heart!

The double meaning of a “faithful” likeness and a “faithful” lover
can, for once, be preserved in English. A pun on the word _tokeru_,
which means “to melt” and “to be undone,” is allied with a dainty
antithesis in


DISSOLUTION.

      White snow of Fuji
      Loosened at sunrise;
      Maiden’s _shimada_
              Loosened for sleep.

The _shimada_ is perhaps the most elaborate, and certainly the
most elegant, way of dressing the hair. It is generally adopted by
geisha and young married women, dividing favour with the _chōchō_
or butterfly coiffure. Respect for age is counselled in a rather
pathetic protest by an old woman, who recalls her faded beauty
in a conventional image. Nightingales and plum-trees are always
associated in Japanese minds.


ONCE.

      Mock not the puckered
      Bloom of a dried plum;
      Once on its fresh spray
              Nightingales wept.

The _umeboshi_, a plum pickled in salt and _shiso_ and afterwards
dried, is as happily descriptive of the wizened monkey face of a
Japanese crone as the peach of an Anglo-Saxon lassie’s complexion.
It will be seen that serio-comic touches of self-depreciation, like
the old lady’s frank comparison of faded bloom to dried fruit,
do not jar on the Japanese. Sincerity--genuine feeling and just
appreciation--is at the root of their poetic impulse. Why should a
disappointed girl shrink from whispering her secret to the reeds of
anonymous minstrelsy?


REJECTION.

      As vine weds ivy,
      So would I clasp him;
      If the man will not,
              What can be done?

[Illustration: Jealousy exorcised from Aoi-no-Uye. (Nō).]

From the foregoing thirty Dodoitsu the reader can form a not
inadequate opinion of “ditties sung by singing-girls to the
twanging of the guitar.” That accidental glamour, which
constitutes style and makes of one word a queen, of another a
beggar-maid, through vicissitudes of usage, does not emanate from
one of them. They are marred for a native ear by domestic and
colloquial idiom, “soiled by all ignoble use”; they treat too often
of sexual sentiment, which our literary verse parades to satiety,
and which theirs rather shrouds in dignified silence. No doubt you
will find among Tanka and Haikai more ingenuity of thought, more
dexterity of pen. But, putting that aside, the Dodoitsu has more
interest for a humanist, since its range of feeling is wider. Just
as the street-scenes of Hokusai and the love-scenes of Utamaro
afford more humane pleasure than the purely artistic studies of
their academic precursors, so we are less allured by “A Fan in
my Lady’s Chamber,” by “A Distant View of a Fishing Boat,” by
“Hoar-frost on the Bamboos,” than by the artless outcries of else
inarticulate nature. The blue-stocking at court, who finds it so
easy to turn a polished compliment, is more remote from our hearts
than her humble sister, doing rough work in the rice-field. The
sorrows of wife and maid, the joy of flowers and laughter--these
inspire in us deeper sympathy than the experimental literature
of dilettante dames. There is often a crude spontaneity in the
non-literary poem which is more pleasing than a recondite conceit.
But, however crude the expression may be, it yet owes something to
form. The poet is obliged to satisfy the easy metrical conditions
which regulate the structure of a Dodoitsu, thus ensuring a neat
circlet for a single gem, whether it be paste or diamond. How
clumsy a Japanese song can become, when the Muse has forgotten her
corset, may be seen by the following effusion:

      “Mukōjima,
      Cherry-blossom,
      Sliced dumpling,
      Boiled eggs,
      Girl, come here!
      Drinking, sleeping,
      Heigh-ho! Tra-la-la!”

This is neither poetry nor literature. It reminds one of the
primitive war-song, which Mr. Aston quotes in his “History of
Japanese Literature” as being sung by the Imperial Guards:

      “Ho! now is the time;
      Ho! now is the time;
      Ha! Ha! Psha!
      Even now
      My boys!
      Even now
      My boys!”

In conclusion, let me say that an exhaustive study of Dodoitsu
would assuredly yield richer results than the writer has been able
to obtain by the casual gleaning of such songs as fell in his way
from the lips of geisha or student.



TAKING THE WATERS



TAKING THE WATERS


I

In a large enclosure behind one of the smaller Shiba temples on
a burning 1st of July sat a perspiring crowd of men and boys,
whose attitude of joyful and critical attention strangely revived
memories of a great match at Lord’s or the Oval. Yet the trial of
strength which was provoking similar enthusiasm presented a very
different spectacle. Instead of the green pitch, a sanded ring
formed the arena; instead of twenty-two lithe cricketers, clad
in white flannels and protected by glove and pad from dangerous
balls, a band of twenty-two wrestlers, enormous and bloated, with
no clothing but a garish loin-cloth and no protection but their own
skill, awaited the umpire’s word to begin. He, too, bore little
likeness to the straw-hatted oracle in a milkman’s coat, whose
vigilant silence is unbroken but for occasional appeals from bowler
or batsman. His _kimono_ was of grey silk, his sash embroidered
with gold, his short cape of black silk with brightly coloured
clasp; and, as he gave the signal with his fan, or directed the
combatants with excited insistence, hopping and crying on the
flanks of the panting giants, he resembled some gorgeous gadfly
goading two buffaloes to the fray. Nothing could be less Japanese
than the build and bulk of the wrestlers. They seemed men of
another race, Maoris or Patagonians, with their huge naked limbs
and long hair, drawn forward in a queue to the middle of the head
or falling loose on the shoulders. Before entering the ring each
would carefully adjust his apron and bind his hair as coquettishly
as possible, for, hideous though they appear to us, these monsters
of fat and muscle are the darlings of every schoolboy, enjoying a
popularity as fervent as that of “W. G.” or Prince “Ranji.” Their
names, their records, their chances of success are on every tongue.

The bouts are more interesting to watch than any I had seen
elsewhere, for attack and defence were more various. The conqueror
might win by other methods than by bringing his opponent to the
ground: if he could hurl or hustle him outside the ring, victory
was his. The rules are said to authorise forty-eight falls--twelve
throws, twelve lifts, twelve twists, and twelve throws over the
back. To avoid being pinned down or pitched out, the smaller men
must exercise extraordinary agility, and loud was the shouting when
Goliath fell victim to a scientific ruse. It happened sometimes
that the men lost their tempers; spitting, slapping, taunting
would precede more legitimate sport: then indeed it was good to
hear the bystanders’ Homeric laughter, which soon recalled the
heroes to their higher selves. I will confess that these indecorous
interludes were partly due to a mischievous American, who primed
his favourites with praise and whisky. As the afternoon wore on,
the heat became intolerable, but, fired with professional ambition,
Dares succeeded Entellus, while cheap coloured portraits of the
competitors found ready sale and the overcrowded enclosure reeked
of sweat and sand. At length the final bout was announced. Each
side chose a champion, whose laurels were difficult to gain,
for three rivals must be worsted in continuous struggle by the
prize-winner. Before the end was reached my patience had been
exhausted. On a degenerate descendant of the fighting Anglo-Saxon
breed this barbarous exhibition of brute locked with brute began
to pall. Besides, the tropical atmosphere, which from that day
forward made dress a weariness and sleep impossible, pleaded more
eloquently than any argument how wise it were to seek less fiery
pleasures. I resolved to leave Tōkyō the following day and take the
waters of some mountain-spa, remote from wrestlers and mosquitoes.

At an altitude of nearly three thousand feet on the north-eastern
slope of Mount Haruna, an extinct volcano, stands the picturesque
village of Ikao. Half the houses are hotels and most have
balconies, which command a view of the Tonegawa Valley and sublime
Akagi San. The main street climbs from terrace to terrace, a
natural staircase, between châlets equipped with bamboo pipes,
through which the hot yellow water pours incessantly. Proximity to
the capital makes this health resort very popular, yet access is
not altogether easy. After five hours’ train to Mayebashi, another
five hours are required of rather rough rickshaw travelling: at one
point the Tonegawa must be crossed by means of a rope ferry; at
others the traveller must dismount, so steep is the road. Yet he
will be well rewarded at his journey’s end by a panorama of rare
extent and beauty. Behind him, and eighteen hundred feet above,
soars Soma-yama, from which the summit of Fuji is just visible;
opposite stretch the Mikuni and Nikkō ranges; at his feet are
wooded valleys and foaming torrents. The Kindayu Hotel, under most
courteous and capable management, combines two great advantages.
It supplies the foreigner with such food and general comfort as
his habits generally render indispensable; at the same time, it
accommodates so many Japanese of all classes, that exceptional
opportunities are afforded of becoming more intimately acquainted
with the latter than would be possible in their own homes, where
various duties and claims absorb their time. Here they seek only
health and pleasure: no obstacle but the easily surmounted barrier
of language hinders mutually delightful intercourse. At least, the
writer formed more friendships and obtained more glimpses of native
life during a month at Ikao than at any other period of his stay in
the country.

Bathing is, of course, the centre round which existence revolves.
Half-a-dozen small baths, fitted with hot and cold water, that
the temperature may be modified to suit each bather, enable the
stranger to bathe in the solitude he prefers. But more than two
dozen others, in which from three to thirteen people can bathe
together, are more characteristic of the place. The largest
has a hot douche, and the temperature is often as high as 115°
Fahrenheit. Here the native guests return two or three times a day
to soak and to gossip. In this _al fresco_ salon laughter reigns
and conversation flows as freely as the water. Surprised indeed
would the bathers be to learn that a costume is deemed essential by
more prurient races, whose artificial manners divorce simplicity
from decency. Yet Western prudery is beginning to corrupt the upper
classes, who tend to convert these social gatherings into family
parties, without going so far as to adopt a bathing-dress. The
water is rather turbid and yellow. It contains iron and sulphate of
soda. Most of the patients suffer from rheumatism or barrenness,
and look on a course of treatment as a sovereign remedy. Some also
drink of the mineral spring which lies at the end of the Yusawa
ravine, where seats and swings line a well-shaded avenue. Probably
they derive more benefit from the pleasant promenade than the
unpleasant beverage.

The first friend I made was a silk merchant and a poet. I shall
call him Yamada San. I had gone one day a few hundred yards down
the precipitous path leading to Shibukawa, when my attention was
arrested by a very pretty tableau. To the left of the road lay
a lute-shaped pond, traversed by little bridges and dotted with
islands on which stone lanterns and wooden shrines proclaimed the
owner’s piety. The deeper end of the lakelet was overshadowed by
a balcony, on which sat two serious young men with rod and line,
while a daintily-dressed girl reclining beside them was preparing
bait--that is, crumbling a soft bread-cake with delicate fingers.
The fish seemed wary, and I remarked one astute leviathan among
gold-fish that succeeded in snatching the bait and swimming away
with an impudent cock of the tail that would have exasperated
a less patient angler. Remarking my interest, the fishermen
politely invited me to join them; and then I discovered two
curious features of this gentle angling--its cheapness and its
humanity. The proprietor was willing to provide all accessories and
implements for three-farthings, on one condition: any fish which
had the imprudence to be hooked must be tenderly replaced in the
water. Thus he reconciled Buddhistic kindness to animals with
encouragement of sport, and the fish obtained a maximum of food
with a minimum of risk. It seemed that Yamada San was also staying
at Kindayu’s. We therefore returned together, while O Mitsu, his
charming child-wife, walked submissively behind. Woven silk filled
his business hours, but woven sentiments his leisure. Before
the hotel was reached he confided to me the poem which had just
germinated in his mind that afternoon. He had really been fishing
for fancies.

      “Yioyeyama
      Kasanaru kumono
      Ōkunaron
      Honokani moreru
      Saoshika no koye.”

      Range above range, piled up to the clouds, what numberless
            mountains!
      Faintly between escapes from afar the voice of the roebuck.

As he understood a little English, I conferred on him this brace of
hexameters. He was naturally astonished by such long lines, but, as
his Tanka contained thirty-one syllables and my translation only
thirty, we had both expressed the same ideas in about the same
space. Exchange of verses was followed by exchange of presents. In
the evening I received a large cake with Yamada San’s compliments.
Then came my first unconscious lapse from etiquette. In the hope of
pleasing both husband and wife, I presented O Mitsu with a quaintly
carven _kanzashi_, an ornamental hair-pin; but, though she did not
seem displeased, the poet thanked me with a cold, disapproving air.
At a later stage he explained how improper it was considered to
pay the least attention to a married woman. I apologised, and he
went on to explain that love-marriages were becoming the rule and
not the exception, and that among his friends few matches were now
arranged without consulting the wishes of the two most concerned.
However, O Mitsu was permitted to play to me on her _koto_, and to
condone my indiscretion with the parting gift of a much-cherished
fan, on which was inscribed a famous poem by Tsuma to the following
effect:

      Though I may sing of the beautiful garments of beautiful women,
      Dearer to me are the pines of Japan and the cherries in blossom.

By this engaging couple I was initiated into a novel game, played
with flower cards, _Hana-Karuta_. The pack consists of forty-eight
pieces, each three inches by two, and of twelve suits, Moon, Rain,
Iris, Clover, Cherry-blossom, Maple-leaf, Wistaria, Chrysanthemum,
Pine, Peony, Plum, and _Paulownia Imperialis_. The four cards of
each suit are worth 1, 5, 10, and 20 points respectively. The
player may only draw a card from the pool if he have one of the
same suit in his hand. Failing this, he must enrich the pool by one
of his cards when his turn comes to draw. Each pair, when made, is
laid on the table, and when the pack is exhausted the player who
has scored most points is declared winner. This very simple game
had much vogue in Ikao, but when the party included no ladies the
more difficult _Go-Ban_ was more popular. Like all his countrymen,
Yamada San was a rapid draughtsman, and would often, when
appealed to for information on historical or religious matters,
illustrate his meaning by clever sketches. Of these I retain
two excellent specimens: a drawing of Yoshitsune in elaborate
armour and a long-nosed _tengu_, or mountain-goblin, which has
many characteristics in common with the Scandinavian _trold_.
Unfortunately, our acquaintance was limited to three days, for at
the end of that time business recalled the poet to Ashikaga, but
he exacted a promise that I would pay a visit to that interesting
town, given up to cotton and Confucius.

As if to console me on the evening of this departure, the kindly
Kindayu family invited all their guests to a performance given by
three local geisha in the principal room of the hotel. The chief
musician was a masculine-looking woman of fifty, who thrummed a
_kokyu_, or three-stringed fiddle, and broke in on the recitative
of her young companions at unexpected moments with peculiar growls
and sharp cries as of an animal in agony. When the narrative of
the soloist took a tragic turn, these inhuman noises were so
distressing that, without following the story, I experienced acute
pain, while my neighbours of the more sympathetic sex were actually
in tears. Had my musical education been more advanced, I should
have realised that these were no singers of light Dodoitsu, but
exponents of a far loftier type of entertainment, the _Gedayu_
or musical drama. It originated in the middle of the seventeenth
century, and is sometimes called _Jōruri_ after a heroine of that
name, whose tragic love for Yoshitsune is a favourite theme of
composers. In fact, the geisha on this occasion were usurping the
_rôle_ of _Jōruri-katari_ or dramatic reciters, whose chanted
recitative formed the nucleus, first, of the marionette theatre,
and, later, of the popular theatre, when dialogue and scenic art
were superadded. In the absence of either human or wooden dolls,
a most lugubrious effect was produced. At last, to my relief, a
male performer, a _pince-sans-rire_, whose dry humour and staccato
diction stamped him of the tribe of Grossmith, transformed the
audience from weeping Niobes to effigies of mirth. In vain the
polite little ladies tried to smother their smiles behind their
raised _kimono_ sleeves: as the song proceeded they were vanquished
by fits of laughter, and shook helplessly on their cushions.
I possessed but one cue to this infectious merriment in the
constantly recurring word _emma_, which on the lips of Mr. Dan Leno
would have assuredly referred to his wife or his mother-in-law,
those patient butts of music-hall humour, but which would only
mean for Japanese ears the Buddhist Rhadamanthus, who pronounces
sentence on all who enter hell. Considerably mystified, I turned to
Tanaka Okusama, another visitor from Ashikaga, and inquired if “the
honourable singer were really singing about hell-things.” He was.
The song was an amusing but irreverent pastiche of social satire.
It described the arrival in Hades of the bad judge, the cheating
merchant, the false singing-girl; their confession and appropriate
punishment. Again I missed the marionettes, for their presence
would have recalled an exactly similar treatment of the same theme
in a Montmartre puppet-show. And I remembered how the Parisian
populace joined delightedly in the cry of “A la chaudière!” as
the mimic devil chased lawyer and cocotte into a Punch-and-Judy
Inferno. It was the mystery play of the Middle Ages, surviving
as a crude comedy for the ignorant poor--a rough travesty of the
theology in which their more instructed superiors still affect to
believe.

In the course of the next fortnight I became well acquainted
with Tanaka Okusama, and through her with many others. She was
a most intelligent, capable woman, who conducted one business
while her husband had charge of another, grain and rice being
the commodities in which they dealt. She considered herself
middle-aged at the age of thirty-two, wore therefore most sombre
colours, and was the mother of six boys, two of whom joined her
at Ikao. Her explanation of the _emma_ song was followed by an
avowal of religious disbelief. She was neither a Buddhist nor a
Shintōist, but believed that the priests taught old wives’ fables,
and for her own part concentrated her mind on her business and
her family. A free-thinking Japanese woman was a novel phenomenon
to me then, though I have since met several. The fragments of
Western history which she had acquired were also interesting
items in her conversation. Plied with questions about English
sights and customs, I was also asked to give an opinion on Cæsar,
Napoleon, and Epaminondas. What I recalled of the last hero was so
shadowy that I felt inclined to parody the Oxford undergraduate’s
evasive reply: “About Epaminondas little is known, but it may
safely be assumed that, as he lived, so he died.” However,
Tanaka Okusama knew more than that about him, for she had just
been reading “Keikoku Bidan,” a popular novel by Yano Fumiō, who
is supposed to have selected Theban politics for his subject,
that he might administer useful lessons to his compatriots. I
suspected that novel-reading was the source of most of the lady’s
knowledge. Indeed, she disclaimed all pretension to the title of
blue-stocking.

Continual tea-parties in my room or hers, though very educational,
were marred for one of us by two circumstances--the familiarity
of servants and the uncertainty of time. Democratic in sympathy,
preferring the expansiveness of the simple to the discreet
inanity of the genteel, I was yet a little surprised to remark
the ultra-friendly relations between servant and guest. A “boy”
would enter with profound obeisance, deliver a message or an
article demanded, and, being invited to join the party, would play
cards, ask and be asked very personal questions, make himself
thoroughly at home, and depart when duty called, bowing low. At
first it is difficult not to associate these prostrations with
subservience, but they really imply nothing but good manners. When
the guest left the hotel, he would hand the “boy” a tip, wrapped
in paper, as etiquette requires, for that delicacy which impels us
to concede intimacy and refuse money, or to refuse intimacy and
concede money to social inferiors, because the conjunction of the
two offends our sense of the deference due to class-distinctions,
would appear strange to the far more rigidly classified Japanese.
In fact, more real democracy--if by that be meant frank and
unembarrassed intercourse between high and low--is possible under
a caste system than any other. Every one “knows his place,” and
has no inducement to affect a higher rank than he really possesses
by an assumption of haughty manners. The innate courtesy of most
Japanese servants renders friendship with them more delightful than
might be supposed, but occasionally one comes across a conceited,
half-educated fellow in European dress, who passes from familiarity
to impertinence. However, I was soon taught a more difficult lesson
than that of forgetting class prejudice. Perhaps the hardest
of all truths engrained in Oriental theory and conduct is the
unimportance of time. We, who live by machinery which measures for
most men the hours of work, the hours of play, until life becomes
a time-table and the heart a chronometer, are absolutely incapable
of indifference to Time’s tyranny. When I proffered or accepted
an invitation, nothing amused these hospitable lotus-eaters so
much as my natural bias towards punctuality. What did it matter?
The morning, if I liked, or the afternoon, or the evening: time
was made for man, not man for time. Accordingly, if I paid a
promised call and became the involuntary witness of a toilette,
a meal, or a siesta, I had merely to withdraw and call again. If
my guests did not arrive at the prescribed hour, they would come
some hours later, or even sooner, or not at all. At first I was
so put out by these vagaries and so fearful of intruding, that it
took message after message to draw me from my own society or that
of a book. But gradually I realised that in this happy country
offence was not readily given or taken; that time was a negligible
convention; that to follow the impulse of the moment was wiser than
to ape the precision of a clock. I have heard the British trader
exclaim in Japan, “They can never become a great nation; they are
so unbusinesslike!” and I sympathised with his horror of Eastern
nonchalance, but I doubt his conclusion. Merchants in Russia are
just as dilatory. Yet either country can count on promptitude
in military or political exigency. What commerce loses in time
it gains to some extent through restrictions imposed on foreign
rivalry. In any case, as they emerge from feudal to industrial
conditions those indolent races will be forced by the law of
self-defence to quicken the pace. As for me, I resolved to ignore
my watch and rely on Zaburo Tanaka.

Zaburo was a bright-eyed schoolboy of ten. Close-shaven and
bare-footed, he raced from wing to wing of the hotel in a single
cotton garment with cheerful impetuosity. At breakfast I would hear
him on a balcony fifty yards away reading aloud in that monotonous
sing-song which his countrymen adopt, even in trains, without
evoking a protest from fellow-travellers. At first I imagined him
to be reciting prayers, but this supposition was erroneous. Two
or three times a day his knock would rattle on my sliding-door
and a loud summons would entreat Edoardo San to keep him company.
When his mother was occupied with private cares, he would obtain
leave to visit with me the Benten-daki, and as we watched the
tumbling terror of that lovely waterfall, sparkling against
green boughs, I was the recipient of many schoolboy confidences.
His great ambition was to fight for the Mikado; his accounts of
school life were tinged with military ardour. The elder boys had
guns and knapsacks of fur; in the summer boys and masters camped
out together; his intimate friend, Rokutaro, had lost an elder
brother in the war with China, and the others were quite envious of
that funereal privilege. He remembered one verse of a song which
his school-fellows were fond of singing, as they marched to the
drill-ground. The air was spirited, but the words were more _naïf_
than ingenious, if the following stanza be typical of the rest:

[Illustration: JAPANESE WAR-SONG]

[Music:

  _Ana u-reshi_          _yo-ro-ko-bashi_     _ta-ta-kai ka-chi   no_

  Oh, how full of bliss, how delightful ’tis, When you fight, to win
                                              the day!

  _Momo chi-ji no_       _Ad-a wa mina_       _A-to naka nari     nu_

  Hundreds went before, Thousands are no more, All our foes have
                                               passed away.
]

Though precociously intelligent, Zaburo was not too old to play
with toys, and the gift of a pop-gun cemented our too brief
alliance.

In the middle of July falls the Buddhist festival of Bon, better
known as the Feast of Lanterns, when the souls of the dead revisit
the living. The decay of religion has unfortunately robbed this
touching celebration of its more striking features. Formerly on
the eve of the _fête_ the graves were hung with lanterns, that the
spirits might be lighted on the way to their old homes. On the
day itself the villagers fasted, but left before the household
shrine flowers and water and a little food, while they went out
towards evening and danced in a large circle, singing quaint songs
and clapping their hands to the strains of drum and flute. Then,
when the time was come for the spirits to return, on river and
stream were launched a fleet of tiny boats of straw, each with its
paper lantern, in which the invisible visitors were wafted back
to shadow-land. These things are done no more, or only in remote
rural districts. Danger to shipping caused the floating of little
fire-ships to be prohibited in the ports, while at Tōkyō the
ceremony of “opening the river” covers the Sumidagawa with gay
pleasure-boats, and in the secular crackle of fireworks the sacred
associations of the day are forgotten. In the villages the peasants
have not abandoned the dance, which town-folk delegate to geisha,
but its date varies from district to district, and I did not
witness one until a month later at Akakura. Yet Ikao has contrived
to preserve the more pious aspect of All Souls’ Day by two simple
services of devotion in graveyard and temple.

By the merest accident I caught sight of a group of women passing
through a dark grove of cryptomeria, whose lofty aisles are sown
with innumerable tombs. I had often been there, allured by the
tranquil images of Buddha, whose face and posture seemed eloquent
of everlasting repose. To-day their silent watch was broken by the
passage of many rustling skirts and gentle laughter, for even in
such places the childish _musumé_ does not deem it sinful to smile.
I struck across the wood and recognised the sister of my landlord,
Kindayu San, accompanied by three or four serving-women. One
carried a kettle of boiling water, another some sticks of incense,
and a third some flowers. Permission being accorded to join them,
I went along with them to more than thirty graves. On each a
little water was poured, a little incense burned, and the prayer,
“Namu Amida Butsu,” uttered. The humblest of the dead was equally
honoured with the nearest kinsman, and, after relations by marriage
or adoption had been visited, the last to receive salutation was a
_banto_, or temporary bookkeeper, who had died four years before
after eight years’ service. “Will not the honourable stranger also
make a prayer?” was asked, and I complied, repeating “Namu Amida
Butsu,” “I adore thee, O Eternal Buddha,” in the hope that their
god would understand that his claim to adoration by barbarian lips
lay in the kind memorial offices which his faith inspired. Many
of the graves lay so far apart that we had crossed two valleys
and found ourselves some miles from home at the luncheon-hour of
noon. So we entered the nearest tea-house and were served with tea
and sweet cakes. As the proprietor had a small stock of sacred
images for sale, I bought for a souvenir of the day two clay foxes
with tails gilded at the tip, the snarling door-keepers of the
rice-goddess; but Inari must have rejected in anger my mock homage,
for three weeks later in a carefully packed _yanagori_ I grieved to
find chaotic “fragments of no more a” fox.

[Illustration: Personators of Jizō (Kiōgen).]

That afternoon I remarked an unusual stir and clatter of small
feet below my balcony. Crowds of children, on foot or slung behind
the patient backs of mother or elder sister, were making their
way to the large school-house, which stood a few yards beyond and
below the southern entrance of the hotel. It being holiday time,
I had never seen any of the scholars, and the sole occupant of
the spacious play-ground was a weather-beaten stone effigy of
Jizō in a red cotton night-cap and yellow bib. This wet saint
(_nure-botoke_), as the Japanese laughingly call such unhoused
divinities, had always excited my sympathy, for there he stood
without his five companions’ society, exposed to rain and wind,
disregarded even by the very infants whose patron saint he is
considered to be. At any rate, I could see no pious heap of pebbles
laid on his knees, though the neglectful little ones would be glad
enough, on reaching the dry bed of the River of Souls, to seek
refuge in his large _kimono_ sleeves, when mischievous demons
should demolish the pebble-heaps which it would be their duty
to pile up there as the penalty of childish faults. But perhaps
they were too busy playing to remember him during the holidays,
or perhaps they had unbelieving teachers who connived at their
neglect. I indulged a faint hope that public expiation was to be
made, and that the toddling crowd would lay some tribute on his
faithful lap. But its destination was a temple situated below
the school-house, and as it swept merrily by grotesque, deserted
Jizō I fancied that the stone features grew more rigid and grey
beneath the cotton night-cap, his consolatory proof of at least one
worshipper.

Having set a few stones on his pedestal, I followed the rest to
a small temple, which was surrounded by women and children. On
a raised platform, which formed the temple-floor, about a dozen
priests, resplendently robed, were moving in rotatory procession
and chanting passages of the Buddhist canon. The babies were gazing
open-eyed on the bright embroideries of instruments and vestments,
while as many people as could be accommodated were allowed to
occupy mats at one extremity of the platform. Among them a place
was obligingly made for me, and soon after I had taken my seat the
priests also sat down to listen to a discourse from a young and
eloquent preacher. I had been in many temples, and watched the
crowds making prostration, buying holy knick-knacks, and flinging
copper coins into the broad-barred money-boxes, but this was the
first sermon I had the good fortune to hear. Continually reverting
to the theme, “Mina sekai no hito kiodai”--all beings in the
universe are brothers--the orator spoke long and earnestly of the
unseen ties which bind the living and the dead, of the infinite
chords and scales of existence, of the love and goodwill which no
creature was too humble to show or too lofty to accept. Sometimes
an old man groaned, and sometimes an urchin was removed screaming,
but most of the listeners remained passive and stolid till the
end. Then babies were hoisted, farewell bows were exchanged, and
the congregation melted away. If you ask me why so many children
were present, I can only suppose that they were attracted by the
excitement of novelty. There was none of the bustle and glare
which make a _matsuri_, the ordinary temple _fête_, one glorious
saturnalia of piety and merriment, when theatres and booths,
covered with wonderful paper toys and every known variety of
sweetmeat, block the approaches to the sacred building. In this the
Buddhists greatly outshine their more austere Shintōist rivals.
Probably nine-tenths of the peasants are in agreement with an old
man with whom I conversed after an impressive service at Hommonji,
the chief temple of the Nichiren sect. As we descended the
temple-steps I asked him why he preferred Buddhism to other forms
of faith. “Because,” he answered, “it is more amusing.”

I was awakened the next morning by a peculiar rocking sensation,
as if my bed were a cradle swung to and fro by invisible hands.
Then I saw the _obbasan_, an old woman who waited on the European
guests, rush, frightened and half-dressed, along the verandah. It
dawned on me that this must be a long-hoped-for earthquake, and as
the vibrations ceased after some seconds, which naturally seemed
of unusual length, I was slightly disappointed. Residents say
that the fear of earthquake, unlike the fear of other dangers,
is increased rather than lessened by experience. Certainly the
Japanese themselves, in spite of their fatalism, realise to the
full the terrible penalty of inhabiting a land of volcanoes. That
day little else was talked of. Two little girls, who had been
adopted by Kindayu San after losing their parents in the great
shock, followed by a tidal wave, some years before, became objects
of particular attention. Now, Ikao is perched on the flank of a
volcano, and the site of an extinct crater is occupied by the
beautiful Haruna Lake, which I had not yet visited, so gladly I
accepted the proposal of Nitobe San to walk there. I had made his
acquaintance a few days previously on the archery-ground, adjoining
the hotel, where he displayed remarkable skill in handling the
unwieldy bow which is still a popular and effective weapon in the
hands of Japanese archers. Indeed, he was only surpassed by a
_samurai_ of about fifty, who hit the bull’s-eye four times out
of five. Yet his appearance was far more studious than athletic,
for Nitobe San attended the medical school at the University of
Tōkyō, and when he pored over German text-books through gold-rimmed
spectacles had already the reassuring gravity of a family doctor.

Our way lay first along the Yusawa ravine, but, instead of
continuing to the source of the mineral spring, we ascended a steep
and tortuous path to the right, which at every turn disclosed new
aspects of the woods and valleys beneath. Often we would stop to
gather tiger-lilies or yellow roses, that shone like golden stars
in a sky of emerald foliage, for, except where the carefully kept
track wound in and out, the mountain side was swathed in evergreen.
Issuing at length from the trees, we reached a grassy plateau, on
which is the grazing ground of the milch-cows that supply Ikao.
To the left is a curious conical hill, known as the Haruna Fuji;
and other masses of irregular rock are partially covered with
lichen, so as to produce the effect of ruined castles half hidden
by clambering ivy. Indeed, my first impression was that these were
relics of feudal fortresses, until closer inspection revealed the
freakish cleverness of Nature. Two miles of level walking brought
us to the lake, which is simply a large tarn surrounded by small
bosom-shaped hillocks at such regular intervals as to repeat the
irresistible suggestion of human ingenuity. It might have been a
giant’s silver shield embossed upon the border with knobs of jade.

Gladly we rested at the tea-house on the margin, for hot sun and
loud cicada had been fatiguing eye and ear. After lunch I took
a bathe from the only boat to be obtained, though its crazy,
water-logged condition left much to be desired. However, the
boatman did his best to remedy the deficiencies of his craft,
and, as I undressed, hung each garment in succession round
his neck, to prevent their being soiled and immersed, as they
otherwise certainly would have been. Much refreshed, I persuaded
my companion to extend our walk to the ancient Shintō temple of
Haruna, not more than a mile and a half away. We climbed to the
top of Tenjin-toge, at which pass the road becomes too narrow and
precipitous for rickshaws, as it plunges suddenly into a curiously
imagined glen. Never had I seen such bizarre configuration, such
eccentric juxtaposition of tree and stone. Pines darted like
dragons from the cliff; rocks started like mammoths from a thicket,
or lowered savagely across the torrent, which raced or trickled
below. It seemed as though the spirits of water and wood and fire
had suddenly been petrified at the supreme moment of a great
triangular battle, and waited, weapon in hand, to spring once more
each at his adversary’s throat. Evidently the old temple, dedicated
to Ho-musubi, the god of fire, and Haniyasu-hime, the goddess
of earth, was the citadel, defended and attacked by these weird
combatants. Towering cryptomeria stood on guard around it, and
huge rocks, tip-toe on tenuous bases, attended the word of command
to crush the curving rafters. It needed but one signal from the
imprisoned fire-god, one movement of the volcanic earth-goddess,
to fill that fantastic glen with the clamour and _débris_ of
primæval war. Elsewhere we might have admired the carven serpents,
that writhed so realistically about the side-beams of the porch.
At Nikkō or the Nishi Hongwanji temple in Kyōto they might have
impressed us as masterpieces of creative carpentry, but at Haruna
the comparison was too trying. It was hopeless to compete with
God’s more monstrous curios.

Here at last was a Shintō stronghold which did not seem abandoned
and desolate, but bore traces of frequent worshippers. Above the
sacred cisterns waved blue towels, suspended after purification; at
the feet of a Shintōised Jizō rose a mound of propitiatory stones;
on the _kagura-dō_, or dancing platform, an old woman, the priest’s
wife, began her symbolic dance. As she slowly revolved, shaking her
bunch of bells or waving her fan, she chanted words so venerable
that all clue to their meaning had been lost. Yet, in her faded
garb and shrunken person she personified more fitly the solemn
contortions of a dying faith than the smart young priestesses
of Nara in their red silk trousers and snowy mantles of flowered
gauze. When those tripped forward, with thickly-powdered faces and
chaplets of artificial wistaria, their garish aspect transformed
the temple to a tea-house, but in this sombre fastness at the heart
of Haruna we seemed to behold a very sibyl of aboriginal Japan. The
assistant priest was affable but ignorant. A copy of the “Kojiki,”
earliest of known records of the Way of the Gods, was kept there,
he affirmed, but he had never opened it and might not show it to
strangers. In winter it was terribly cold, and snow-storms would
sometimes cut them off from all communication with the outer world.
When floods made the torrent impassable the senior _kannushi’s_
children were obliged to do their lessons at home. But summer
brought troops of pilgrims to the valley, and their offerings
sufficed to keep the little band of guardians at their posts. “Are
you never afraid,” I asked, “of the earth opening and the rocks
falling? Only this morning we felt a slight shock of earthquake at
Ikao.” The young priest smiled gravely. “No,” he answered. “For
more than five hundred years the _kami_ have protected their holy
place. Why should we be afraid?”

We made a small donation, and received in exchange a printed
promise of Ho-musubi’s and Haniyasu-hime’s blessing, to which
our names were appended. Then, turning our backs on that grim
sanctuary, we climbed slowly back to the Tenjin Pass. As we
retraversed the plateau of Little Fuji, Nitobe San described the
student’s life at Tōkyō. Between 1890 and 1898 their numbers had
increased from thirteen to nearly nineteen hundred, so that a
second university was shortly to be inaugurated at Kyōto. But of
course the Red Gate (as the Tōkyō University is familiarly called)
would remain the classic portal of modern learning. The college
of medicine, in which his own studies were pursued, is entirely
under German influence: none but German and Japanese professors
give instruction. In the other faculties of law, engineering,
literature, science, and agriculture, English teachers predominate.
Most of the students work desperately hard, but enjoy great
liberty. The majority are poor, and some have very rough manners.
The Emperor was informed on one occasion by his Chief of Police,
who had been summoned to receive orders to repress anti-foreign
demonstrations, that “the offenders were invariably either
rickshaw-men or students.” Their life is far more gregarious than
that of Oxford or Heidelberg or the Sorbonne. In the small block of
residential buildings within the university grounds six or eight
young men read, eat, and sleep in one room. These are a privileged
minority of scholarship-winners, and are subjected to rather
irksome restrictions in the matter of visitors and late hours. But
the larger number live in lodging-houses, where practically no
more control is exercised than over any other class of citizens.
Competition is so severe that posts cannot be found for any but a
small fraction of the budding doctors, lawyers, and journalists
who hope to make a living in those professions. In consequence
the disappointed graduates turn _sōshi_ and live by their wits as
spies, agitators, actors, authors, or even as itinerant musicians.
Naturally, extreme views are adopted and discussed with the fervour
of youth. The wildest socialism, the narrowest nationalism, find
apostles. Though full of enthusiasm for most Western innovations,
Nitobe San was strongly opposed to the substitution of Roman
characters for Chinese ideographs. In vain I pointed out to him how
the latter blocked the pupil’s advance and impeded international
intercourse. He feared that such a step would not only tend to
destroy communion with the past, but would also diminish the
probability of that alliance between China and Japan which was
cherished as the only means of checking Russian aggression. I
formed the conclusion from this and other conversations that the
salient qualities of a Japanese student are independence and
passionate curiosity. It did not surprise me to learn afterwards
from an English professor that his classes had summaries of his
lectures printed at their own expense to facilitate the acquisition
of new ideas in a foreign tongue.

While we had been talking of his vices and his virtues, the
gregarious student had invaded Kindayu’s. On returning to the
hotel we encountered a band of eight or nine stalwart young men
wearing blue cotton _hakama_ (trousers so ample as to resemble
a divided skirt) and armed with small hammers. They had come to
geologise, disappeared on long expeditions during the day, and only
returned at a late hour. As they shared a room and were by no means
uproarious at night, the other guests were scarcely conscious of
their presence. I think, however, that two pretty schoolmistresses,
the wives of officers in the army, who had carefully abstained from
making the acquaintance of any other visitors, welcomed the arrival
of these ardent scientists. Their rooms adjoined, and sitting on
the threshold, that no beholder might misinterpret their platonic
comradeship, they indulged in intellectual flirtation--a joy too
subtle for the understanding of their unsophisticated sisters.

Ikao was in truth a microcosm of Japanese society. Representatives
of nearly every class came and bathed and went their way refreshed
in spirit, if not cured in body, by the restful babbling water. One
day an ex-daimyō, who had held high office in a recent Cabinet,
arrived with a small retinue of relations and dependants. Quiet
and dignified, he was only to be distinguished by a greater
sobriety of manner from less aristocratic neighbours. Occasionally
odd instances of polygamous experiment attracted general remark.
A Tōkyō merchant came accompanied by an elderly wife, a blind
baby, and two mistresses who had formerly been geisha. The three
women were on excellent terms, and disputed only the privilege
of spoiling the thrice-mothered child. Every evening for them
was a “musical evening,” as the man had a good voice and the
geisha were expert _samisen_ players. Nitobe San described the
_ménage_ as “a little barbarous.” But, whether his opinion was
shared by many or few, it made no difference in the reception of
the new-comers, who were treated with the same frank courtesy as
less numerously married folk. Indeed, frankness and propriety
were marked characteristics of this hydropathic paradise. If the
bathers imitated Adam and Eve in simplicity of _tenue_, their
behaviour, too, like that of our first parents before the Fall, was
faultless. Conversation was entirely unembarrassed and perfectly
decorous. The very publicity of this hotel life was a guarantee
of morality. And, in fact, one could see that beneath extreme
freedom of intercourse careful etiquette was observed. Neither
young girl nor married woman ever went out alone: the tea-party
never became a _tête-à-tête_. The _shōji_ of the apartments were
generally half open; the amusements were such as to assemble and
introduce the visitors to one another. Dancing and flirting, as
practised in English watering-place or French casino, were unknown.
If the men desired other female society than that of their own
class, they could seek the _geisha-ya_ or _jōro-ya_. If many of the
diversions were childish, those of Brighton or Trouville cannot
rank as intellectual exercises. It was a lazy, healthy, happy sort
of paradise, and I did not live in it long enough to discover the
serpent.


II

On the seventh day of the seventh moon I bade farewell to Ikao,
and, loaded with little presents, descended slowly to Takasaki.
Regret at leaving that delightful haven was soon lost in
conjecturing the solution of an astronomic mystery. Village after
village flaunted a galaxy of paper stars, which flecked the green
background of interminable trees with dancing flakes of red,
white, and blue. At every door stood a bamboo-stem crowned with
a cluster of five-rayed stars, each ray being made of paper of a
different colour. From this astral chaplet long streamers floated
in the breeze, like the _gohei_, or cut paper inscribed with
prayers, before a Shintō shrine. At Takasaki station I met Nitobe
San’s sister-in-law, O Sen San, who was returning to her husband’s
house at Tōkyō, while the student himself had gone to the more
efficacious hot springs of Kusatsu. Being fellow-travellers as far
as Akabane Junction, I begged her to reveal _en route_ the meaning
of those starry signals which continued to flutter gaily in every
district we passed, as though our train were freighted with royal
passengers. Then I learned that all pious folk were celebrating
that day the festival of Tanabata. The white streamers corresponded
in number with the children in each household, and on every one
was written a poem desiring happiness, especially good fortune in
love, for the child whose name was appended. More than this she did
not know, but a handsome young priest, who had remarked my zeal for
knowledge, kindly volunteered the following legend:


THE HERDSMAN AND THE WEAVER.

“Long ago, as Chinese sages tell us, there dwelt in Heaven a
herdsman and a weaver on opposite sides of the celestial river. All
day the herdsman tended his cattle, and was far too busily occupied
to think of taking a wife. All day the weaver sat at her loom,
making clothes for the Emperor, and this labour took up so much
of her thoughts that she even neglected to adorn her person. Then
the Emperor, remarking her diligence and pitying her loneliness,
sent for the herdsman and said: ‘Inasmuch as ye are both so devoted
to my service, I will that ye shall henceforth be devoted to one
another. I give thee this woman in marriage.’ So the girl crossed
the river, and no married couple ever lived more happily together.
But after a time the Emperor perceived that the marriage, though
it might be a good thing for them, was an evil thing for him,
since the weaver began to neglect her work, and his clothes, which
had formerly won the admiration of his courtiers, showed signs of
hasty and careless weaving. At this the Emperor grew very angry,
and sent for the weaver and said: ‘Inasmuch as this marriage has
been a joyful thing for thee and for thy husband, but a woeful
thing for the Emperor of Heaven, I bid thee recross the river and
return to thine old home. Once a year, on the seventh day of the
seventh month, the herdsman may pay thee a visit, but on every
other day in the year let him see to his herding and thou to thy
weaving.’ So the girl returned to her old home, and the river
flowed once more between herdsman and weaver; but every year, when
the feast of Tanabata comes round, husband and wife are happy
together. Therefore, all who desire their children to be fortunate
in their love ask fortunate stars to shine upon them. Now, the
Emperor of heaven is God; the celestial river is the Milky Way; the
herdsman is a star in Aquila, and the weaver is no other than Vega,
brightest and luckiest of stars.”

I thanked the priest for his pretty legend, and cautiously
approached the subject of religion, asking if he had studied
Christianity, and to what cause he attributed its slow progress
among his compatriots. He answered that two facts, in his
opinion, contributed greatly to its want of success. The first
was its extraordinary similarity to Buddhism. The ideas of a
saviour of mankind resigning kingly power to become a wandering
beggar; of virginal motherhood; of trinitarian godhead; of the
beauty of holiness and charity, love to men and kindness to
animals; of heaven and hell, as the populace conceived them,
though in reality but intermediary stages to the ultimate
Nirvana;--these, and the miracles attributed to the _rakan_,
or disciples of Buddha, which bore such remarkable resemblance
to the wonders attributed to Christian saints, prayers for the
dead, and monastic institutions;--indeed, almost every salient
doctrine of Christianity, as taught by priests of the Roman
See, could be found with more or less modification in one or
other of the numerous Buddhist sects. Why should a believer,
then, apostatise from the faith of his forefathers to adopt a
foreign creed so similar to, and yet so remote from, his own? I
found that his conceptions of Christianity were derived from a
Romish priest, whom he had known in the island of Yezo. There
was also a patriotic reason which struck me as rather unusual.
The loyal Japanese believed that their Emperor was descended
from the gods, and in the “Kojiki,” which is regarded with the
same reverence by them as the Bible by Europeans, many actions
implying divine power are said to have been performed by such
beings as the Heavenly-August-Sky-Luxuriant-Dragonfly-Youth, by the
Great-Refulgent-Mountain-Dwelling Grandee, and by other _kami_, or
superior ones (“them that are above us,” Mrs. Dolly Winthrop would
have said), to whom it was impossible to refuse the rank of deity.
But the missionary said, “Thou shalt have none other gods but Me,”
which commandment imposed on the convert the necessity of becoming
disloyal as well as an apostate. Yet, so tolerant were Buddhist
and Shintō believers, that they did not subject a pervert to any
sort of persecution. They practised and allowed entire freedom of
belief. I replied that, granting his premisses, his conclusions
were irresistible, and we parted excellent friends.

At Akabane Junction I took leave of O Sen San, and met by
appointment Mr. Richard Bates, whose acquaintance I had made
about three months before in a curio dealer’s Shop at Kyōto. As
we had agreed to take the waters of Akakura and Dōgō together, I
must apologise to him and to the reader for interpolating a brief
description of this invaluable companion. His accomplishments
were so numerous that I shrink from detailing them, but they were
all of such a nature as to enhance the pleasure of travelling.
He was a good cook, a good nurse, a good photographer; he had
the infallible _flair_ of a curio hunter, and while less wily
collectors were hesitating and beating about the bush, he would
mark his prey--perhaps an old lacquer bowl, perhaps a bronze
incense-burner--pounce on it, appreciate it, depreciate it, and
by sheer force of will-power whisk it away to his lair before
the dealer had made up his mind on the subject of price. He had
two deficiencies, which were also virtues on occasion: he easily
lost command of Japanese idiom and British phlegm. As he chose
to consider me a fair linguist, it fell to my lot to translate
arguments and accusations which were violently impossible to
reproduce. However, I did my best, and was rewarded by many scenes
of rare comedy. I often thought he would have done better to
rely on himself, since discussion gave the seller time to invent
incredible merits for his wares: at such times one glance or
gesture of contemptuous disbelief inspired more respect for the
buyer than languid protest, and that fiery fashion of raiding
a china shop, of assessing the stock with the rapidity of a
freebooter, and helping himself to anything that took his fancy,
was so appalling to the deliberate, ceremonious vendor, that I
believe goods were frequently yielded up in terror and a vague hope
of appeasement. Not that Mr. Bates invariably got the better of the
bargain. It is my belief that many geese sully with unsuspected
falsity the whiteness of his swans. But for him every purchase was
a swan, and, if you hinted otherwise, the crime of a Frenchman who
should express an unpatriotic belief in Captain Dreyfus’ innocence
were light in comparison. I seldom committed that imprudence,
but indulged a secret hope that one robbery balanced another, and
that in the end the spoils of war were equally divided. Commercial
habit does breed an instinct of distrust, which many tourists would
find discomforting; but this instinct was so agreeably modified in
my fellow-countryman by generosity and justice, that on the whole
we made as many friends as enemies. If a landlord tried to cheat
us, we told him so with reprehensible directness; if he treated
us well, we gave him a handsome present, and were as pleased as
Diogenes would have been had he pursued his famous quest by the
light of a Japanese lantern.

Men, honest or dishonest, interested us but little that day, so
absorbingly magnificent was the scenery. At Akakura we should be in
sight of the Sea of Japan, while Tōkyō faces the Pacific, so that
our route ran north-west at an angle of about forty-five degrees,
very nearly from coast to coast of the main island. The train would
have to climb to a height of 3080 feet, crossing by means of the
Usui Pass the volcanic backbone of mountains which culminates in
Asama-yama (8280 feet), the largest active volcano in the country.
As we steamed slowly up the steep gradient to the grassy levels of
New and Old Karuizawa, a series of twenty-six tunnels, bored at
such short distances from each other as to resemble the disjointed
sockets of a gigantic telescope, provided intermittent glimpses of
jagged cliffs and terrific gorges. Far below lay green valleys and
plains, threaded by silver rivulets and dotted with infinitesimal
châlets; beside us, densely-wooded slopes; to left and right, on
the horizon, Myyōgi San and the Kōtsuke peaks rose frowning to
the sky. Many passengers descended at Karuizawa, for it stands
on a lofty moor, where cows and wild flowers flourish to the joy
of European children. Here the wise missionary builds his villa
and transports his family in the hot months. Donkeys and bicycles,
bestridden by sturdy, blue-eyed youngsters, excite wonder in the
meek pedestrian native, while papa, untrammelled by clerical
attire, manfully mounts his five thousand feet and gazes into the
red sulphureous crater. Has not a local parodist thus celebrated
the annual exodus?

      “When summer strikes Tsukiji
        With rays, which frame in gold
      That glory of Meiji,
        Our evangelic fold,
      To colder heights and calmer
        Each missionary flies;
      He loves Asama-yama,
        For nearer Heaven it lies.”

Alas! the pagan mountain-god, who when he speaks will fulminate in
fire and ashes, has been dumb for more than a hundred years. He
allows the preachers of an alien creed to fill their lungs with his
life-giving air; he knows that their ingratitude will take the form
of denying his divinity. “And yet God has not said a word.”

From Karuizawa, without breaking the journey at Ueda or Nagano,
we advanced more quickly to lower ground, until the rapid
torrent of Sekigawa, which divides the provinces of Shinshu and
Echigo, arrested our attention and signified the nearness of
our destination. Leaving the railway at the little station of
Taguchi, we ascended in rickshaws the zigzag path which conducts
the pious to the sacred summit of Myōkō-zan. This mountain, on
which snowy patches still defied the August sun, is only one
hundred feet lower than Asama-yama, if the alleged height, 8180
feet, may be considered accurate. On the north-eastern slope of
this easily-climbed volcano lies the hamlet of Akakura, from which
rich plains stretch smoothly to the sea. On clear days the island
of Sado is dimly visible. Hither come the farmers and traders
of the western villages and towns, bringing sometimes their own
provisions and demanding only sleeping accommodation. The chief
hotel, one-sixth of the size of Kindayu’s, possessed a bath of
its own, in which a dozen persons could bathe, but in all the
others the guests paid a small fee to use the public baths, which
dignified the single street with all the glory of carven cornice
and stained glass. No other Europeans invaded this unfashionable
spa, whose boiling springs, pellucid and blue, are credited by the
peasantry with marvellous curative virtue. Foreign food is not to
be procured, but we supplemented the rice and millet with tinned
meat and stewed fruit. Thus fortified, we found no great difficulty
in renouncing the more highly civilised distractions of Ikao.

[Illustration: Dancers at Feast of Lanterns.]

Geisha, dramatic reciters, jugglers, and itinerant musicians never
reach such solitary heights. But, happily for us, the _Bon-Odori_,
those antique dances, which should have been danced on All Souls’
Day by the modernised Ikao folk, began in this neighbourhood two
nights after our arrival. The landlord requested a contribution
of forty _sen_ (about fourpence), which we readily doubled, for
the benefit of the performers. Then ensued a long wait, for, if
Japanese city-people are dilatory, no adjective exists which could
do justice to the country-people’s contempt for celerity. Always
accurate, Murray very properly translates _tadaima_ (immediately)
by “anytime between now and Christmas.” First one lantern entered
the courtyard; after half-an-hour, another; one by one the young
men and maidens assembled; forty minutes more elapsed before the
musicians could be induced to appear: at last a flute-player and a
drummer squatted on a mat in the centre, while the dancers circled
slowly about them. Youths and girls wore a blue kerchief tied round
the temples: they revolved, as in a game of “Follow my leader,”
without ever touching hands; two steps forward, a half-turn, two
steps back, and at irregular intervals a clapping of hands. Such
was the simple measure. But the waving of arms and the graceful
free gestures of these rustic _coryphées_ were only less effective
than the strange chanting, which rose or sank in volume as the
number of participants increased or fell away. And what do you
suppose they sang? Something in the following vein, one might
imagine:

      “While we loudly dance and sing,
        Spirits of our dead return,
        Guided, where the lanterns burn;
        In the houses they will find
        Rice and water left behind;
        Then sail in boats of straw away,
        Until next _Bon-Odori_ day.
      Peasants, come and join the ring!”

Lines like these might emanate from an Arcadian singer of Fleet
Street, but the daughters of Akakura must have lost all sense of
the solemn festival they were affecting to celebrate. What they
sang was this:

      “My lad is handsome,
      My lad is comely;
      He has no money;
              Sad is my heart.”

And again:

      “Only to meet thee
      Troubled my heart is;
      When the dance ends, I
              Ask to be thine.”

For custom in those parts has gradually established the right
of Love to oust Death from his old prerogative. Dancing enables
the lovers to find each other more easily than at other times.
Courtship is the recognised sequel of the August revels so eagerly
anticipated, so long remembered. The love-sick maiden is the
first to avow her passion, as little girls choose their partners
at a London party. Perhaps the gentle neglected ghosts bear no
resentment, but are consoled by the hope that one day it will be
their turn to live again as happily as these their descendants.

Acquaintances were not as easily made in Akakura as in Ikao. The
Kogakurō, as our hotel was called, contained but few other guests,
and we occupied the two bedrooms which formed a sort of annexe,
apart from the rest of the building. In the public baths at certain
hours one was sure of meeting from twenty to thirty bathers of all
ages and either sex, but they were extremely timid, kept silence
when we entered, and did not respond to friendly overtures, so that
we ceased to intrude upon their privacy. One old man, however, was
very fond of calling and cross-examining the strangers. He had been
a _samurai_, and at the age of seventy-six retained full vigour of
mind and body. I should have given him ten years less. The landlord
expressed his opinion that this visitor was a Government spy, and
cautioned us against talking too freely. But, as it happened, the
caution was superfluous, for the dignified old fellow spoke in such
queer dialect that I could understand very few of his remarks, and
conversation soon lapsed into an interchange of bows and smiles.
Only one other circumstance occurred in the Kogakurō during the
fortnight we spent there, to excite interest. One morning we found
the cheery little landlord very depressed because a fraudulent
guest had decamped during the night without paying his bill. Of
course, he had only to shoot aside the wooden shutters, and the
further feat of “shooting the moon” presented no difficulty.

In this dearth of human subjects to study we acquired a habit of
making daily expeditions to neighbouring localities, and were often
repaid by beautiful sights. Within two hours’ walking distance lies
the lake of Nogiri, which is larger than Lake Haruna, but not so
prettily environed. On a densely wooded islet stands a temple of
Benten, “the goddess of luck, eloquence, and fertility,” to which
we were ferried across by an obliging schoolboy. Before it stand
two immense cedars, of which one boasts a girth of twenty-seven
feet. A long flight of steps leads from the shore of the island to
the shrine, and, viewed from the summit of the steps, the belt of
mountains which rim the horizon amply rewards the climber. Except
for this view, however, Nogiri is in itself an ordinary unromantic
piece of water.

Far more exceptional is the important town of Takata, several
hundred feet below the level of Taguchi, from which the railway
descends a steep valley between mountain walls precipitously
grand. Thousands of feet above snow is surmised, waterfalls are
conjectured, but between them and the crawling train push masses
of impenetrable forest. Passing Arai, with its petroleum springs,
we reach flatter ground and enter Takata, once the castle town of
the Sakakibara family, which shared with three others the privilege
of providing a regent during the minority of a Tokugawa Shōgun.
Traces of its old magnificence and of the Tokugawa patronage exist
in a whole suburb of Buddhist temples, adorned in many cases with
the Shōgun’s crest. They are large, richly ornamented with good
carving, and approached by avenues of cryptomeria. Since the
Restoration and the Shintōist reaction the fame of the Takata
temples has decreased, but their splendour is only to be eclipsed
in that part of the country by the celebrated Zenkōji at Nagano. At
the back of one row of these temples runs a stream, spanned by as
many little bridges. I never expected to see the college “backs” of
Cambridge so admirably parodied.

The railway line is here the dividing-line between sacred and
profane. To the left of it the Buddhist monks traffic in holy
wares; to the right cotton and cotton-cloth and a species of
muslin peculiar to the place compose the stock-in-trade of half
the shopkeepers. The latter reside in homogeneous batches, as in
feudal times: all the mercers in one part, all the curio-dealers
in another, and so on. But the most curious feature in the town
is the wooden projecting roof conterminous with the street on
either side, which enables the pedestrian to perambulate the main
thoroughfare under shelter of an arcade. These are not found in the
eastern or central provinces, and have been adopted on account of
heavy snow-drifts, which in winter render the roads impassable. We
had cause to be grateful for this Echigo custom, as it enabled us
to explore the town without being drenched by a heavy, inopportune
shower.

Our longest excursion was to Naoetsu, a rising sea-port at the
mouth of the Sekigawa and the present terminus of the Tōkyō and
Karuizawa line. Though it has long been a port of call for steamers
which ply on the western coast, it presented the appearance of
a new, unfinished town. Two months before a disastrous fire had
consumed three-fourths of the houses, which were rising phœnix-like
from the charred relics of their own _débris_. But fires are so
common in these flimsy, inflammable habitations that one ends by
regarding them as inevitable, as instruments of the universal law
of reincarnation, which applies equally to men and to the works
of men’s hands. Every twenty years the two great temples of Ise
are demolished and reconstructed as antique ordinance requires.
Humbler buildings cannot expect to escape the fiat of periodic
resurrection. There is, however, little of interest at Naoetsu,
unless it be the hardy fisher-folk and field-labourers. We drove
to a fine temple of Kwannon and some tea-houses surrounded by
tasteful gardens overlooking the sea. But we had seen their
analogues before: never had we seen in Japan, except in the case
of the wrestlers, such sturdy human frames as these men and women
of Echigo display. Husband and wife, naked to the waist, strain
beneath a common yoke and draw ponderous carts to market. Their
bronzed busts and blue cotton _hakama_ make grateful patches of
colour between the hot sky and dusty road. My photographic friend
could not resist the chance of “taking” an Amazonian mother
disdainfully recumbent on bent elbow and suckling her child. As
she lay supine and heavy-featured, she resembled a Beaudelairian
giantess in

      “The deep division of prodigious breasts
      The solemn slope of mighty limbs asleep.”

Could she really be of the same race as the fragile, geisha-fairies
of the Myako-odori? Her photograph had better claim perhaps to the
title of _miyage_ than the crystal and jade _kakemono_ weights,
which we bought from a specious hawker on the cliffs. He who would
conform to Japanese etiquette, with its charming code of trifling
generosities, is sorely perturbed by this problem of _miyage_.
The dictionary defines it clearly enough: “_A present made by
one returning home from a journey, or by one coming from another
place--generally of some rare or curious production of another
place._” Now, I was perpetually “coming from another place,” and
the search before I left it for “some rare or curious production,”
which would serve as a present for Ashikaga or Tōkyō friends,
baffled at times even my insatiable curiosity. The hawker’s
streaked pebbles were pretty enough as pledges of transitory
kindness, but the souvenirs most vividly stamped on the tablets of
remembrance by the glaring sunlight of Naoetsu in August show a
vision of brown sea-goddesses against a turquoise sea.


III

The last lotus had shed its stately coronal of broad petals before
our short stay at Akakura came to an end: business detained us in
the capital throughout the September rains; when we determined
to take the waters of Dōgō October was well advanced, and the
hills were already flushed with reddening maple-leaves. As we
sat on “the bridge that is joined to heaven” and gazed into the
maple-lined ravine, which is crossed and crowned by the monastery
of Tōfukuji, we seemed to be watching the slow sepulture of that
lingering summer beneath a pall of fiery foliage. Yet we knew that,
though there on the hills around Kyōto autumn was mistress of the
woods, there still reigned on the sheltered shores of the Inland
Sea a summer of St. Martin, the diaphanous ghost of summer, mild
and tender in heat and hue. There and then our trip was planned.
We would skirt its northern coast from Kōbe to Hiroshima, spend
a day in the holy island of Miyajima, and thence take boat to
Mitsugahama, the nearest port to the Dōgō baths, whence a second
boat would take us back to Kōbe. Thus the circuit of the eastern
waters of the sea between Shikoku and the Main Island might be
accomplished in a leisurely ten days. For the moment, however, we
might as well fall in with the spirit of soft melancholy which
all persons of sensibility were bound to assume in the presence of
maple-leaves, unless centuries of minor poetry should be coarsely
disregarded. What season could be fitter for making pilgrimage
to Sen-yūji, the burial-place of the Emperors? It is true that a
sinister sentence in the guide-book said, “As neither the tombs
nor the various treasures of the temple are shown, there is little
object in visiting it.” But for all we knew, the warning might be
piously designed to save a sacred privacy from the more vulgar
type of tourist, whose eyes are blind to immaterial things. At any
rate, that was the time, if ever, to test the meaning of Murray’s
discreet dissuasion.

It certainly required no slight effort of imaginative sympathy to
appraise at its historic worth a most paltry wooden bridge, devoid
of grace or ornament, which seemed a rustic plank in comparison
with the Shōgun’s red-lacquer _Mi Hashi_ at Nikkō, so finely poised
and firmly flung across the foaming Daiyagawa. But that was worthy
of the military usurpers, who took the substance of sovereignty
and left its shadow to their nominal sovereigns, while this is
only _Yume no Uki-hashi_, the Floating Bridge of Dreams, aptly
symbolic of the recluse _rois fainéants_, absorbed in sentiment and
moonshine. Here, we are told, as the midnight mourners bore along
their dead emperor to sleep with his fathers, they would throw down
a little fruit, some libatory cakes, into the whispering rivulet.
Then steep and dark before them rose the narrow road, which
terminates in a large hollow hewn out of the hillside to be the
cradle of the sceptred heirs of the sun-goddess. Like the palaces
in which they lived, their houses of death are clean and august.
The shrines are of plain white wood, of the sort else used only
in Shintō temples; the paths, scrupulously kept, are strewn with
small white pebbles and wind spirally up mound after mound into the
shadow of thick pines. Six centuries of royalty are buried in that
white city with no other token of their rank than strict seclusion
and austere simplicity. Each group of tombs is enclosed by a high
wall, and on every gate is the sixteen-petalled chrysanthemum.
There is no glitter of marble or gold, as in so many burial-grounds
of monarchy, no fulsome eulogy on staring tablet, but, shrouded in
the same mysterious obscurity as had enveloped for the nation their
half-monastic lives, the Tenshi, sons of heaven, seem fittingly
interred in that precise maze of ordered tranquillity half-way
between the sky and their dearly-loved Kyōto.

I could not bring myself to pass Ōsaka on the way to Kōbe without
visiting the temple of Tennōji, where Mr. Lafcadio Hearn gathered
some of his happiest “Gleanings in Buddhist Fields.” Though the
children’s chapel has been so touchingly described by him that
any other writer may well shrink from following in his footsteps,
a rapid impression of a fugitive glimpse will be pardoned and
more than justified if it should induce the reader to re-read his
more elaborate account. An enormous temple, Tennōji lies on the
very outskirts of the town, and, after traversing innumerable
canals, one is still a little puzzled to locate the _indo-no-kane_
among wide courts grouped about the central colonnade. After some
searching we discerned a man and woman kneeling on the threshold
of a shrine, in which a wrinkled priest in shabby brown vestments
was reciting a prayer. Drawing nearer, we noticed that the man
was weeping and the woman held in her hands a baby’s _kimono_
of brightly coloured material, which soon after she handed to
the priest with a few copper coins. He took the garment, folded
it carefully, and placed it on a shelf. Then, raising our eyes
from the personages in this pathetic scene, we observed for the
first time the chapel itself. The altar bore no image of Buddha
flanked by gilt lotus or vases of natural flowers, but from cloth
to ceiling it was covered with a bewildering pyramid of dead
toys. Almond-eyed mannikins and stiff-jointed maidens, dolls of
all classes, richly or penuriously dressed, seemed to stretch
imploring arms and to fix hallucinating eyes on the beholder;
drums and trumpets, paper ships and indiarubber balls, masks and
picture-books and rattles--all the motley companions of vanished
children were huddled together like contorted imps in a chaotic
pantomime. Massed and motionless in the twilight of their recess,
they had the air of dead things--the shells and figments of
faithful toys, whose spirits had followed the babies’ souls to
paradise, that the little hands which had clasped them night
and day in “this miserable, fleeting world” might not be quite
comfortless in their strange new nursery. The lesson would not be
lost on heartbroken mothers who parted here from their own most
cherished hopes more fragile than these brittle playthings. The
roof was hung, the side shelves were piled, with tiny dresses,
pendent or folded; and, most curious of all, the bell-rope, that
summoned Shotoku Taishi, the saintly prince, to conduct the dead
infants to God was strung with overlapping woollen bibs--yellow
and red and green--the clumsy counterparts, these, of aureoles.
But while we had been enthralled by this canonisation of dolldom
the priest had been writing, and now handed to the mother a slip
of paper attached to a thin wand of bamboo. Bowing low, she took
the paper, pressed it to her forehead, and crossed the enclosure to
the stone chamber known as the Tortoise Tower, for there those who
look down over the circular balustrade into a central cavity will
perceive clear water running from the mouth of a stone tortoise.
Into that sacred stream which flows from earth to heaven the paper
drops, being inscribed with the new name which is bestowed on
every believer after death; and the poor woman goes away not a
little comforted, for now at least her child is sure of an orthodox
introduction to paradise. Thus neither babe nor emperor is exempt
from etiquette, whether life or death be the master of ceremonies.
Inequalities persist in the very funeral rites, though in their
hearts the celebrants must feel that the geisha’s flower-song is of
universal application:

      “Peonies, roses,
      Faded, are equal;
      Only while life blooms
              Differ the flowers.”

The beauties of the Inland Sea have been so often and so
graphically described, that detailed praise is superfluous. Every
one has heard of the thousands of islets, on which are perched
villages, villas, and pines innumerable; of the hillsides,
geometrically subdivided into rice-fields; of the junks with
pleated and divided sails, which dart like white birds through the
exquisite blue plain; of the strange mirage, which throws upon
the sky at certain hours, when the heaven above and the waters
beneath melt into a vast silver-grey mirror, the shapes of phantom
archipelagoes suspended in mid-air. To those who have seen it and
are familiar with the fans, the _netsukes_, and the tea-cups,
which reproduce favourite designs of pictorial art, only one
adjective, vague yet precise, will occur: this pocket-Mediterranean
is essentially Japanese. It is an ornamental piece of prettiness,
designed by the Celestial Painter in one of his most Japanese
moods, for in it you will find the cardinal characteristic of the
national taste, its subordination of the sublime to the dainty,
of big effect to graceful detail, its inevitable preference for
miniature and vignette. One critic has said that such art “is small
in great things, great in small things”; another, that the Japanese
“admire scenes, but not scenery.” Both these dicta could be applied
to the Inland Sea, were it not that Europeans admire it more than
the natives, but the charm which it exerts is undeniably akin to
the spell of those workers in silk or clay or ivory who achieve a
maximum of beauty in a minimum of space. The Norwegian fiords, the
Italian lakes, the Ægean and Adriatic Seas, all present at some
point or other some grandiose aspect, but the channels which lie
between Shikoku, Kyūshu, and the Main Island never threaten or
impose; they are simply a soft fluid setting for precious stones of
varying size and colour.

Most famous of these insular jewels is Miyajima. As no boats were
running thither from Kōbe, we travelled by the San-yo railway as
far as Onomichi, skirting the coast so closely that we hardly once
lost sight of the sea. Though sorely tempted to break the journey
for the purpose of visiting the great feudal castles of Himeji
and Okayama, we pressed on until the bay of Fukuyama, glittering
like molten fire in a superb sunset, was hailed with rapture
and relief, for the train journey had been hot and long, and we
welcomed the prospect of repose. One of those delicious, indolent
evenings, when the traveller reclines on piled cushions, drinking
tea or _saké_, until he be roused from waking dreams by the low
laughter of attendant _musumé_, demanding permission to strew the
beds and light the lanterns, would have formed an excellent climax
to that fatiguing day. But I never dared anticipate repose in the
company of Mr. Bates, who was apt to burst into sudden flame on
the slightest provocation. And during that week provocation lurked
in two hotels out of three. The guide-book describes Onomichi as
“a bustling, prosperous place”: it may be “prosperous”; it is
undeniably “bustling.” We were barely out of the train and had
just set foot in the straggling main street, when two hotel touts
seized us by the arm, jovially aired some broken English, and
deposited us with our bags on the steps of a large hotel. “Ask the
price!” shouted Mr. Bates, “ask the price! I have never yet entered
an hotel without knowing what I have to pay. Ask the price!” I
complied, but the landlord with soft, evasive phrases, wafted us
to an upper floor, while my companion smouldered. Suddenly a chair
and table appeared. “Take them away!” he shouted, “take them away!
I know the trick. They will make us pay double, and I refuse to
be swindled.” This time we insisted on knowing the charges, and
the proprietor, as we expected, demanded three times as much as we
had now become accustomed to pay. We protested. He assured us that
“honourable guests from Yokohama and Kōbe” never paid less, but we
replied that Kōbe and Yokohama were nothing to us, who always paid
Japanese prices for Japanese accommodation. Finding him impervious
to reason, we shouldered our bags and marched out of the house.
Then he consented to receive his due, and reinstalled us on our own
terms. But the hotel girls were cross and discourteous, the native
visitors noisy, the food bad and badly served. As a last attempt to
get the better of us, the landlord affirmed that now there was no
chance of a boat being despatched to Miyajima before the following
afternoon, and that the information we had gathered from a casual
shopkeeper the night before, that one would sail at eight o’clock
in the morning, was erroneous. But Mr. Bates had been compelled
twice before to spend an extra day in one of these seaside hotels,
on the plea that the boat had gone, or would only go, apparently,
at the landlord’s bidding. Smiling, therefore, but without
hesitation, we made our own way to the wharf at seven o’clock and
took our own tickets, that there might be no collusion between
the hotel-boy and the official who booked passengers. At eight
o’clock we steamed away from Onomichi. Through clustered islands
our tiny steamer threaded in and out, until Kure appeared, an
important arsenal at the foot of the Aki Hills. Here we discharged
some hundreds of copper slabs, and while that slow operation was
in progress were amused by the animation which prevailed on the
men-of-war and on the numerous sampans plying between them and the
shore. About four miles away on the island of Etajima stands the
Imperial Naval College. When this and other points of interest had
been indicated to us by polite fellow-passengers, our attention
was riveted on the labourers, who jerked the slabs from hand to
hand and piled them on the floor of a barge in symmetrical heaps.
The “chantey” which they sang to lighten the labour was simple
and monotonous, consisting of two words, which sounded absurdly
like “Hong Kong” and “Shanghai” repeated _ad infinitum_. At last
we continued our voyage, but were again subjected to a long delay
at Hiroshima, where we landed and beguiled the tedium of waiting
by chaffering with bum-boat women for sweets and chestnuts. The
town stands far back from the water, and a causeway three miles in
length runs out into the spacious harbour, formed by the delta of
the Otagawa. As this is the most busy commercial centre west of
Kōbe, there was plenty of movement: rows of boats were loading and
unloading, rickshaws driving up perpetually from the town, while
shrill-voiced youngsters did a brisk trade in fruit and vegetables.
At the risk of being left behind, my indefatigable companion made
a dash for the distant shops, and returned triumphant, hugging in
one arm two loaves of bread and in the other a dilapidated Buddha,
whose grimy gilt was irresistible to the collector. His disgust
when I guessed the exact price he had paid (about five _yen_, or
ten shillings), and refused to believe that it could be worth a
penny more to any one, was too deep for words.

Darkness had fallen when Miyajima was reached, and as we were rowed
ashore the outlines of temple and grove were shrouded in gloom.
Only the _colossal torii_ loomed black against the shimmering
water, while all that lay behind was covered by the shadow of
climbing forests. We took supper at an hotel near the entrance
to the temple-grounds, and were then conducted by two of the
landlord’s daughters on a tour of inspection through the main
street. We discovered a curio-shop, of which the proprietress set
such extravagant value on her wares that Mr. Bates at once was
lured into hot discussion. Night interposed, and at an early hour,
before I was well awake, I heard the resumption of battle below
my balcony. The proprietress with gentle laughter and firm accent
extolled her treasures; the would-be purchaser, in nervous tones
which tingled with cupidity and despair, attempted in vain to
cheapen them. His patience was rapidly giving way, and very soon
he cried out for his interpreter to descend and assault the enemy.
But this time I deliberately closed ears and eyes, feigning sleep.
I had not come to that holy island to fight for curios, and though
I had attained the knack of giving the lie courteous to crafty
dealers, I shrank from translating rough language to a woman.
Fidelity was routed by chivalry. They finished the struggle without
my intervention, and victory remained with the lady.

When I descended, the defeated combatant was seeking consolation
in photography. And seldom had his camera been confronted with
more beautiful pictures. The winding valleys and soaring rocks
converge at an elevation of more than a thousand feet on a little
shrine, in which has been burning a sacred fire for more than a
thousand years. From the opposite shore, as one traces the salient
features of this evergreen island, all the details--streamlet and
temple-roof, cliff and maple and pine--merge in a majestic harmony
of serried line and luxuriant colour. But on the island itself one
is drawn, as by a magnet, to the great temple of Itsukushima Hime,
which, being partly built over the water on piles, seems at high
tide, like the Breton vision of Is, to rise from the depths of
the sea. At all times the _torii_, or wooden archway, which stands
before this Shintō temple is partially submerged, and Hiroshigi in
his fifty-four _meisho_, or views of Japan, gives such prominence
to it, that the long galleries and avenue of stone lanterns,
as well as the central hall, from which the colonnades diverge
like wooden arms, bent to embrace the incoming tide, are barely
suggested. Daimyō, Shōgun, and Emperor have vied with one another
in decorating this temple, and the successive chapels are hung
with paintings by famous artists from the sixteenth century to the
present time. Many quaint customs, formerly regarded as conducive
to the purity of a holy place, are still observed. Neither death
nor birth is allowed to sully its eternal immunity from change.
When either is anticipated, the patient is ferried across to
the mainland. Dogs are forbidden, but deer roam the streets and
feed fearlessly from the hands of tourist or pilgrim. All day
the temple-courts are thronged with worshippers, and sometimes
at night, when a pious noble or rich American affords himself
the sight, the lit lanterns of stone or bronze, which line the
approaches to the temple, define the interlacing courts and bridges
in traceries of fire. But this illumination we had not the good
fortune to see.

Another temple on a neighbouring hill, though less beautiful,
is equally unique. It consists of a vast platform, from which
spring twenty-four massive columns to support the roof, whose only
ornamentation on the interior, if ornamentation it can be called,
is a frieze of wooden spoons, some small, others enormous: they are
nailed there, or on the columns, as the donor’s caprice dictates,
and confer comparative immortality at trifling cost, for each is
inscribed with an autograph. Thus the ingenious Japanese have
found a way of diverting and profiting by that first infirmity of
ignoble minds, which robs St. Paul’s of dignity and desecrates
Westminster Abbey with such legends as “Peter Jones from Hampstead”
and “Eliza Smith of Bethnal Green.” Much impressed by this strange
custom, each of us bought a spoon and, veiling our vulgarity in
Latin, suspended this device from the right-hand pillar of the
porch:

      Venit, Vidit, Oravit,
          O. E.   R. B.

For two months I had been haunted by visions of the
bridge-Kintaikyō, as it seems to have haunted the
landscape-painters of Japan. I remembered it as one of the most
remarkable in Hokusai’s series of “A Hundred Bridges”; I had
another marvellous drawing of the five arches overwhelmed by a
snow-storm and apparently detached from both land and water, for
Hiroshigi understands the isolation of his subject from irrelevant
detail as few others, slaves of perspective, would dare imagine.
If uneducated eyes took the picture to represent a peal of blue
bells, sprinkled with cotton-wool and straddling through space, so
much the worse for uneducated eyes. But at any rate, being so near,
I resolved to dispel vision by looking on reality, and spent half
a day in visiting Iwakuni. We were obliged to leave our rickshaws
at the foot of Katō Kiyomasa’s towering temple that overlooks the
almost waterless bed of the Nishikigawa, for none but a pedestrian
could climb the huge arcs, thirty feet long, which spring in
five bounds from shore to shore, like the curves of a switchback
railway. Then the faithful camera was brought into play, and a bevy
of perplexed ducks were hustled into the foreground, with the
inevitable result of attracting several loiterers to share with
them the glory of being photographed. These had to be politely
expelled, and in the end several excellent views were taken. But
not one of them conveys the fantastic liberty of that flying bridge
so realistically as the snowscape of Hiroshigi.

[Illustration: Kintaikyō Bridge.]

Lulled by the honest countenance of our courteous landlady into
misplaced confidence, we were astonished by her presenting on our
departure a bill more exorbitant than that of the hotel-keeper of
Onomichi. We expostulated, and repeated the terms named by her
clerk the night before. At once the amount was cut down to half and
the lesser sum accepted with no gratitude or resentment. Mr. Bates
is furious, and delivers a lecture on probity; but I cannot bring
myself to regard these bland banditti, who extort without violence
and restore the booty without a murmur, as on a par with the
cheating innkeepers of other lands. Their motive is probably either
religious or patriotic, perhaps both. Some one must have told them
that foreigners are only permitted by autochthonous gods to visit
Japan on condition of enriching its inhabitants. By overcharging
the tourist, then, they are pleasing their gods and serving their
country. Their compatriots are protected by legal prices, publicly
posted in every inn, but they know that the barbarian cannot read
official notices, and quixotic indeed would it be to enlighten him.
To me such _naïf_ graceful swindling (when exposed and thwarted) is
more delightful than churlish, prosaic probity.

Returning to Hiroshima, we thence took steamer to Mitsugahama,
one of the chief ports in the island of Shikoku, whose mineral
baths were the goal of our voyage. Had time allowed, we would
gladly have visited all the four provinces of this magnificent
island--provinces which in earlier times were known as “Lovely
Princess,” “Prince Good Boiled Rice,” “The Princess of Great Food,”
and “The Brave Good Youth.” But we had only leisure to do homage
to Iyo-Ehime, the Lovely Princess, who amply justified her title
by the loveliness of her domain. Between her territory and that
of Tosa or Take-yori-wake, the Brave Good Youth, whose sons are
to-day the staunchest advocates of progress, runs a mountain ridge,
varying in height from three to four thousand feet, so richly
covered with forests that not only are the pines, maples, and
alders as plentiful as elsewhere, but with these is intermingled
an endless host of beeches, oaks, and horse-chestnuts. Except in
the neighbourhood of Akakura, we had not seen a finer stretch of
mountain-scenery.

But we never came close to these wooded heights, for Dōgō is only
a short distance from the seashore, and is reached in half-an-hour
by what I can only describe as a toy train. We crept into a
first-class carriage, and just managed to avoid bumping our heads
against the low-pitched roof. The fare was on the same scale as
the compartments, for the cost of the ticket was three _sen_
(farthings). The rickshaw-men were polite and reasonable, the
landlord of the Iwai-ya both affable and honest; in a word, we had
left the track of long-suffering and all-corrupting tourists, and
had reached one of those districts, so pleasant to discover, where
manners are as yet unspoiled by money. Delighted with our lot, we
settled down to three days of paradise regained.

Our first care was to discover the bath-house. In front of the
hotel rose a mansion of pine, surrounded by iron railings of
curious pattern, a line of storks in zigzag flight, and surmounted
by a stork of gold with outstretched wings. The Governor’s house,
we thought, or perhaps a court of justice, resplendent with carven
symbol to impress the natives with reverence for the new _régime_.
But no: this was the principal bath-house. As we passed from storey
to storey and remarked the beauty of rafter and balustrade, my
companion, who speaks with knowledge, declared that he had never
seen such superb carpentry. In many of the chambers were flowers
and _kakemono_ by modern painters; in short, we had found a more
lordly palace of bathing than even Ikao could boast. The baths were
of granite and the dressing-rooms hung with silken curtains. As we
had paid the highest tariff, ten _sen_ (about twopence-halfpenny),
before entering the bath, we were served by daintily-robed
waitresses with cherry-blossom-and-water, a rather saline
concoction prepared from the national flower. When we issued from
the hot salt waters the same attendants brought tea and cigarettes.
Enchanted with our first experience of Dōgō fashions, we returned
to the hotel and demanded of the landlord what other sights the
town possessed.

The public garden, the wood-carvers’ shops, the big temple of
Ōkuni-nushi and Sukuna-bikona, which crowns a hill on the outskirts
of the town, were duly visited, and pronounced inferior to those
we had seen elsewhere. But O Yoshi San informed us at dinner that
every stranger who came to Dōgō was considered unlucky if he
departed without seeing and hearing two beautiful sisters, geisha
of shining notoriety. We sent a summons at once, and by good
luck it happened that one hour of their deeply engaged evening
was at our disposal. Our room was brightened up with flowers
and sweetmeats, _saké_ and cigarettes were lavishly provided,
cushions set and lanterns lit. The geisha were announced by their
professional names--White Jewel and Young Butterfly--made smiling
obeisance to the “honourable strangers,” and took their seats in
the centre of the room, while their duenna, the Katti Lanner of
Shikoku, whose pupils had spread the fame of their teacher all
over Japan, remained respectfully in the doorway. The age of Young
Butterfly cannot have exceeded thirteen years. She wore a white
silk _kimono_, heavily embroidered with gold, and gold dragons on
a green sash chased one another round her slender waist. In her
coiffure was an ivory pin, terminating in a miniature birdcage,
from which a red tassel fluttered defiantly. Her pantomimic dances
(in which she required occasional prompting) represented the wooing
of a coy damsel and the capture of a standard in the Chinese war;
her childish emphasis of amorous and martial gesture was extremely
piquant. White Jewel was, however, not only a clever artist but a
most intelligent woman. About ten years older than her sister, she
was dressed far more simply. Her _kimono_ was of black _crépon_,
her sash of iris-coloured brocade, and her hair had no ornament
but a purple iris. She sang, like all her tribe, with nasal
intonation and harsh lower notes, but her smile when she talked
was as bright as her wits, quick to grasp my questions and explain
the meaning of her songs. Indeed, I owe to White Jewel some of the
prettiest instances of popular _dodoitsu_ collected in a previous
chapter. She was very pleased with her calling, which she had found
lucrative, and was not offended by the assertion that most people
considered geisha to be like cats, sly and treacherous; otherwise,
how was it they had acquired the nickname of “Nekko” or “Pussie”?
She replied by singing a quatrain which conveys in the original two
meanings for every line:

      ’Ware of the Pussie!
      Pussie, seen smoothing
      Coat of striped velvet,
              Trimming her claws.

      ’Ware of the geisha!
      Geisha, seen folding
      Soft-striped _yukata_,
              Binding her shoes.

At this point Mr. Bates manifested a desire to bask in the rays of
White Jewel, and completely ousted me from favour by a fraudulent
piece of palmistry. As he traced the lines in her sensitive hand he
discovered pledges of prodigious prosperity--rich lovers, increased
fame, long life, and ultimate marriage to a deputy-judge! The only
prediction which missed the mark was a prophecy of twin daughters,
who should rival and perpetuate the glory of White Jewel and Young
Butterfly. The Japanese consider it rather gross and catlike to
have more than one child at a time. White Jewel made a grimace of
playful disgust and offered to sing another song, which would be
the last, as other houses had engaged her to appear at ten o’clock
and at eleven. It was exactly half-past ten; if she went now, her
punctuality would be unimpugned. So she took leave of us with a
chansonette as dainty as her own personality.


LIGHT LOVE.

      If love be thoughtless,
      Then is love shallow;
      Though love be shallow,
              Do not forget.

We devoted the second day of our visit to Matsuyama, the capital of
the province of “Lovely Princess,” not more than four miles from
Dōgō. There is little to be seen there, however, except the castle,
one of the largest in Japan, and some excellent curio-shops, in
which the zeal of my companion was rewarded by some precious
finds. Leaving him to indulge his master-passion, which I found
less amusing than the pursuit of living curios, I laid siege to
the castle. At the bureau where tickets are to be obtained many
officials referred me to one another, and requested me to wait
until certain formalities were complied with. After two hours’
stolid patience the fortress capitulated, and I was assigned to the
care of a gallant sergeant, who spoke a little English and proved a
most competent guide. From the summit of the tower a fine panorama
was visible: below us the fertile Matsuyama plain stretched away
to the shore of the Inland Sea, and on the opposite side the
horizon was shut in by forest and mountain. To tell the truth, my
conductor’s account of the castle’s history, as illustrated by its
structure and some surviving weapons of war, interested me much
less than his own exploits. For had he not with his own hand slain
five Chinese braves in the battle of Port Arthur? My compliments
on his heroism must have touched his heart, for, turning suddenly,
he grasped my hand and cried: “I like you. You shall be my friend.
I will dine with you.” This abrupt proposition at once solved for
me the embarrassing question of remuneration. I could not press
surreptitious silver into the palm of this obliging lover of
England and slayer of Chinamen, but a friendly dinner would put us
on terms of franker intimacy. So we descended the winding path from
the ramparts, crossed the moat, and marched home to the Iwai-ya.
We drank cherry-blossom and _saké_; we bathed, and dined off the
best fare which our host could provide; we discussed the character
of native and foreigner, arriving at the conclusion that, while
the best type of Japanese inhabited Shikoku, the wiliest and worst
of foes were Russian. We had not time to go deeply into ethnology,
for at half-past eight my guest buckled on his sword and with many
protestations of affectionate regard returned to barracks.

No shadow of trickery marred our joyous reminiscences of Dōgō. When
we left the landlord presented a bill so ridiculously low, that we
bestowed on him as much again in tea-money. Not to be outdone, he
loaded our departing rickshaws with four bottles of beer. And the
photographer, whose camera was worth a fortune to him as a means of
gratifying all sorts and conditions of men, took an excellent group
of that smiling host and his cheery household.

The voyage to Kōbe was no less agreeable. We had for
fellow-passenger a distinguished middle-aged officer, who
had fought on the losing sides in the revolution and the
Satsuma-rebellion headed by Saigō Takamori, whose grave we had seen
at Miyajima. Experience had long since convinced him of the folly
of anti-progressive movements, and he realised as clearly as the
most democratic reformer that national security was best served by
adopting Western ideas. We had no idea of his rank until a small
boat put off at Tadotsu, in which were three officers of inferior
grade, who had come to escort him ashore. From his seat in the
boat he waved his hand genially to us, while the men pulled in to
harbour, but the three officers remained standing, as unmoved by
the shock of the waves as by the rattle of Chinese artillery.

Kōbe received us, weary and late, with hospitable arms. In that
prosperous port, so rapidly distancing Yokohama in commercial
importance, an English colony is solidly entrenched with pews
and cricket-bats and pianos. I went to the club, and was at once
in England. _The Saturday Review_ was reviewing and _The World_
revolving on the same lines as when I was last in Fleet Street. Mr.
Bernard Shaw was still unmasking demerits in Shakespeare, while
Mr. William Archer was inventing merits for American comic opera.
In a moment of nostalgia I sauntered into a well-filled church,
whose congregation were listening with rapture to a beautiful
rendering of Gounod’s “There is a Green Hill”: finally, I learned
at a friend’s table that a cricket-match between the ladies and
gentlemen of Kōbe was the burning topic of the week. Between Mr.
Bernard Shaw and Buddha (vegetarians both), between Gounod and
geisha, between batting and bathing, lay the gulf which separates
the hard-hitting West from the lotus-loving East. I could not
bridge the gulf without a violent effort. In fact, I felt a little
ashamed on mixing with my fellow-countrymen, so pious and strenuous
and practical. While they had been working and playing as only
Britons can, I had utterly forgotten that any country except Japan
could enthral and stimulate. I had been taking the waters--of
Lethe.



PLAYING WITH FIRE



PLAYING WITH FIRE


I

This is the love-story of René Beauregard and O Maru San. It does
not illustrate the cynical conceit of a French dandy, æsthetically
explaining and profaning love to amuse an indelicate public,
nor does it demonstrate the folly of mixed marriages, in which
nuptial ceremonies, high-flown speeches, adultery, and suicide
are hypocritically served up to suit the British palate. It is
the straightforward story of an ordinary attachment in the Far
East between two rather bad and rather good friends of mine, whose
notions of “good” and “bad” as translated into deeds were lax, but,
in their eyes and in that region, not absolutely damnable.

M. René Beauregard had been in Tōkyō about a fortnight, when I
found him one evening at a print-seller’s shop in the Ginza,
surrounded by an inquisitive crowd of admirers and much embarrassed
by inability to declare his meaning in Japanese. He was accompanied
by an hotel-boy, who, knowing no French words but _Oui_,
_monsieur_, and _Bon jour_, recognised me with relief and solicited
assistance. I was able to extricate him from the curiosity of the
bystanders and the plurality of prices to our mutual satisfaction,
for we returned together to the Métropole, the richer by some
rare prints and the promise of congenial companionship. Literary
reminiscence furnished many bonds of common interest. We had
witnessed, it seemed, simultaneously several incidents which marked
the waning of old and the rising of new constellations in the
firmament of French art. The _première_ of Rodenbach’s “Le Voile”
and Rostand’s “Les Romanesques,” the funeral of Paul Verlaine,
the students’ repudiation of Brunetière and acclamation of Zola
at the Sorbonne, the banquets to Puvis de Chavannes and Emile
Verhaeren, had strangely enough united us in the same company
without opportunity of introduction. But community of tastes counts
for less in friendship than charm of character. What particularly
pleased me in M. Beauregard was a modesty, not too common among
his compatriots, and a chivalry towards women which the Quartier
Latin had failed to destroy. I had known so many _petits féroces_
(as Daudet called them), vaunting their talents and their _bonnes
fortunes_, for whom a mistress ranked somewhere between an
advertisement and an absinthe. He was not an _arriviste_, then; but
neither was he a worker. Too self-critical to write badly, too lazy
to write well, he ended by not writing at all, and, as his means
permitted him to play the _rôle_ of spectator, he followed various
movements in art and letters with amiable, intelligent passivity.
He had come to Japan with the object of studying on the spot the
Kōrin and Shijō schools of painting, but found his progress much
hindered by ignorance of the language, which he had not seriously
tried to learn. As we were both anxious to see the _Matushima_,
or Pine Islands, perhaps the most lovely of the _Sankei_, or
Three Views, which the Japanese celebrate above all others, it was
resolved to travel there together in search of grammar and scenery.

About the grammar he was rather fastidious. A personage of high
rank, whom he had met at an Imperial garden-party, had said
jokingly: “Why not follow the example of M. Pierre Loti and find
a second ‘Madame Chrysanthème’? We call such persons in our idiom
‘pillow-dictionaries,’ and they are the most instructive manuals
in the world.” The young Parisian was, of course, neither shocked
nor offended by the suggestion. Not only had he no moral scruples
himself about forming temporary ties such as nine Frenchmen out
of ten contract before marriage, but he had come to a country,
or so he had been told, where such ties were neither illegal nor
dishonourable, but openly recognised, and where a mistress did
not forfeit her chance of ultimate marriage when the relationship
should be dissolved. But the idea of buying a mate as one buys a
horse or a picture was repugnant to him, and he preferred to wait
a while, in the hope that Fortune would provide an occasion of
affection preceding purchase rather than of a purchase which might
or might not precede affection. The geisha of the capital did not
attract him: they were too openly venal or brightly conspicuous for
his quiet taste, which desired gentle companionship without such
publicity as the appropriation of a Tōkyō geisha would involve. So,
for the moment, scenery took precedence of grammar.

The journey to Sendai on the Northern Railway is generally
tedious, but was made more so by delays and uncertainties of
transit owing to extensive inundations of the Tonegawa. Many
passengers contemplated the advisability of quitting the train and
proceeding by relays of boat and rickshaw. Happily this troublesome
alternative was avoided, and we contrived to reach the dull but
important capital of the Rikuzen province shortly before midnight.
The next morning we travelled by a branch line to Shiogama, the
little port on the bay of Sendai from which passage is taken to
the hamlet of Matsushima or the more distant Ishinomaki. We chose
the latter route, since it traverses the entire archipelago and
gives a more complete idea of the number and disposition of the
Pine Islands. Legend counts them to be precisely eight hundred and
eighty-eight, and, if one disappear, eaten by the sea, another
pushes up its head, conveniently severed by a sword of water from
some broken peninsula. As the rocks never increase nor diminish
in number, so the thousand pine-trees, which start from crag or
shelf in every conceivable posture, are never more nor less than
one thousand. From this banquet of volcanic tufa the ravenous
Pacific had crunched odd morsels, leaving for future meals bizarre
and bitten fragments, as capricious in shape as its own appetite.
Unfinished bastions, wild arches, irregularly tunnelled rocks, cone
and staircase and plateau, lie densely or sparsely scattered over
an expanse of forty miles, like a herd of amorphous sea-monsters,
badly made and willingly abandoned to the solvent action of time
and tide. But then, as if to apologise for the Originator’s
clumsiness and to prove that his failure may have been expressly
intended to ensure their success, on the backs and in the crevices
of the else uncouth stone creatures wave the thousand arms of pine,
softening rough contours with their clinging green, protesting and
protecting with graceful curve, or beckoning with siren gesture to
passing mariners. Every island has its name, rooted in historic or
legendary allusion. To the Japanese one has suggested “Buddha’s
entry into Nirvana,” another “The island of question and reply,”
while a third group is symbolic of “The twelve Imperial consorts.”
But our Western eyes could well dispense with that strange bias of
Eastern fancy which prefers to associate form with meaning: for
us it was enough to glide slowly through the haunted waters, to
watch the blue waves foaming at the island’s edge or leaping in the
sunlight to meet the pine’s tentacular caress.

From the last of the islands to the mouth of the Kitakami River,
on which Ishinomaki stands, is a rough stretch of sea exposed
to the full force of the Pacific rollers. Our tiny steamer was
buffeted by wind and rain, and my companion suffered such agonies
of sea-sickness that it took him two days to recover health and
spirits. By good luck we found in the Asano-ya one of those cosy
and coquettish hostelries which only Japan can boast, where the eye
is as constantly charmed by good taste as the body is comforted
by good cheer. The sliding doors which divided our apartment from
others had panels of white paper, flecked with clouds of gold-dust
and framed in black lacquer. In the _tokonoma_ or alcove stood a
pink-flowered shrub and a peacock of bronze beneath a beautiful
painting by Kano Tan-yu. In vain we offered to buy this _kakemono_
from the landlord, or the screen, which displayed fighting dragons
on one side and a noble tiger on the other. They were heirlooms,
which his children must inherit. Nearly everything was pretty in
the Asano-ya, except O Maru San. She was the landlord’s niece,
an orphan Cinderella, condemned by destiny to wait on her uncle’s
guests. While her better-looking sisters had found husbands, she
trotted contentedly about her work, laughing a great deal and
singing snatches of song. She was about four feet ten inches in
height; her face was too large and too round, though this fault was
somewhat redeemed by fine teeth and soft eyes. She tried to atone
for plainness of feature by elaborate coiffure and punctilious
toilette; but, do what she would, she could not escape from the
category of ordinary squat village girls, who remain at home while
their prettier neighbours fill the tea-houses and geisha-houses of
Tōkyō. Her parents must have had excellent judgment, for instead
of calling her Lily or Chrysanthemum or some other flower-name
whose irony must have pursued her to the grave, they hit upon O
Maru (Miss Round), an unromantic but felicitous description of her
person and character. She had no angularities, moral or physical,
but was just an elastic, docile ball of Japanese womanhood, both
useful and playful; one of those domestic conveniences which
Confucian moralists regard as admirably adapted to promote the
peace and happiness of man.

From the moment of René Beauregard’s entrance until his departure
from Ishinomaki, O Maru devoted herself to his service. While
his illness lasted she sat beside him, bathing his forehead and
anticipating his desires. When he grew well enough to take part
in the expeditions which I proposed to neighbouring temples or
islands, she was waiting with his shoes and hat on the threshold,
bowing low as he went out; and, when he returned for the evening
bath, she attended him with towel and soap, as assiduously and with
as little false shame as Nausicaa attended Odysseus. Observing
that he seemed anxious to learn the language, which she was quite
incompetent to teach, she managed, with much laughter and many
misunderstandings, to increase his vocabulary. She was particularly
proud of having interpreted two inscriptions which hung framed in
the vestibule of the hotel. One, equivalent to “Welcome the coming,
speed the parting guest,” was thus worded:

      “Asa okuri yu mukai.”

More literally it reads, “At morning, honourably send on his
way; at hot-water time, honourably receive.” The other was more
difficult to render. We disputed two versions, of which I commended
the first to M. Beauregard’s notice, while preferring the second in
our common interest. Like many maxims, it was plausibly vague:

      “Omoi yokoshima nashi.”

Could it mean “Love without naughtiness”? Or had it the particular
application of “Hospitality without fraud”? I hoped the latter.

We remained for seven days at Ishinomaki, charmed with the busy
life of the place, which owes its prosperity to slate-quarries
and salmon-fisheries, with the boats for ever passing up and down
the Kitakami, with Kinkwa-zan, “the golden-flower mountain,”
that sacred island on which in ancient times no women might set
foot, though the deer roam freely round the pilgrim’s circuit
or ascend to the shrine of Watazumi-no-Mikoto, the Shintō god
of the sea. During this week two circumstances revealed to my
French friend the fact that O Maru was actuated by quite as much
tenderness as dutifulness in her solicitude for his welfare. One
day a Norwegian captain, coasting from Sendai to the northern
island of Yezo, put into harbour for a day, and proposed to the
landlord that the girl should take passage with him for a couple
of months in return for fifty _yen_ (about £5), but she displayed
strong repugnance to this not ungenerous proposition. On another
occasion O Maru, having innocently introduced a handsome brunette,
her bosom friend, to Monsieur René, who did not disguise his
pleasure at the presentation, was discovered by him at the foot
of his bed convulsed by tearful jealousy. At first she would only
give negative replies to his questions. “Nakimasen” (“I’m not
crying”), and “Shirimasen” (“I don’t know why I’m crying”), she
said. But at last she gave the reason. “Because you are now tired
of O Maru, and will honourably take notice of O Kiku.” I must
suppose that he found a way of reassuring her, as the next day
they were warmer friends than ever; and it became plain to me that
a dictionary, plainly bound but a devoted pocket-companion, had
been providentially deposited for M. Beauregard at the Asano-ya,
Ishinomaki. Indeed, the book was more anxious to be bought than the
buyer to acquire it, for as soon as the date of our return to Tōkyō
was given out O Maru begged her foreign lover to take her with him,
and extracted a promise that, if her family made no objection, as
soon as he had made suitable arrangements he would send for her to
continue the studies which had begun so pleasantly on the banks of
the Kitakamigawa.


II

It is one thing in Japan to make a bargain; it is another and far
more difficult thing to secure its fulfilment. Though by no means
infatuated with O Maru, Beauregard had been touched by her devotion
and amused by her simplicity. What seemed to him certain was that
he had merely to send word to Ishinomaki, and the faithful girl
would fly to his side. But this showed his utter ignorance of
Japanese character and methods of procedure. Before the two were
reunited, an interchange of six letters and thirteen telegrams,
spread over six weeks, taught him some useful lessons touching the
unimportance of time and the futility of haste.

About ten days after our return to the capital, he wrote a long
letter to the Asano-ya, in which he offered to take O Maru with
him for two or three months if her uncle made no objection, and
enclosed several _yen_ for travelling expenses. Four days passed
and brought no reply. Then he wired: “Have you received money?
When are you coming?” and was somewhat pacified by the answer:
“Money received; will come soon.” His knowledge of the language
was not then fixed, or he would have found little consolation in
the treacherous words, _sono uchi_, soon. Another two days and
the uncle sent a very polite letter to the following effect. They
had all been much honoured by the honourable stranger’s presence
in their humble home, and thanked him for his great kindness to
O Maru. She would very much like to travel with so distinguished
and noble-hearted a person, nor had he, the uncle, any objection
to her doing so. But he would like to call august attention to the
fact that he had an adopted son who wished to learn French and
would make an excellent guide, if permitted to join the party. He
hoped the proposal would commend itself to so kind a friend of the
family as Borega Sama had shown himself to be. Instead of pleasing
“Borega Sama,” this offer to include an “adopted son” in the
compact distinctly frightened him. He knew cases of Europeans who
had been led by liking for a native girl to burden themselves with
her incalculable relations, but he did not consider that a trip of
two months should be encumbered by any such superfluous attendants.
So he wrote a courteous refusal. By this time the vagueness of
_sono uchi_ preyed on his intelligence, and, when its elasticity
stretched to eight days, he wired once more: “What do you mean by
_sono uchi_? When will you come?” And the answer appeased him:
“Will come before the end of the month.” But the end of the month
brought a second most affable letter from the host of the Asano-ya,
in which he expressed his intense anxiety to oblige the honourable
stranger in every possible way, but it so happened that just at
that time O Maru could not be spared, as his humble house was full
of reverend pilgrims on their way to Kinkwa-zan, the golden-flower
mountain, and these monopolised her services. He therefore would
send back the money which Borega Sama had so kindly placed at
her disposal, unless he would wait a few weeks longer, when she
could join him, as the time of pilgrimage would be over. We both
regarded this letter as a polite intimation that the incident was
closed. Either O Maru had misled her friend when she assured him
that her uncle wished her to take the opportunity of travelling
with a “noble-hearted person,” or the old man had formed other
plans for his niece’s future which did not concern us. In either
case Borega Sama resolved to finish the matter. He wrote briefly
but plainly, being a little sore at so much tergiversation, that he
had no wish to inconvenience any of his kind friends at Ishinomaki,
whom he should always remember with grateful pleasure, and, if he
ever returned to Sendai, would revisit them. Then he turned his
attention to prints and curios.

Many circumstances render the collector’s life particularly
exciting at the present time. Good finds become scarcer every
year; the chief dealers in Tōkyō and Kyōto send their agents not
only all over Japan, but also to Europe in the hope of redeeming
lost treasures. Sometimes an old family or impoverished temple is
compelled by misfortune to part with the works of old masters;
sometimes the new masters of the art of forgery palm off surprising
imitations which deceive even the elect. The jealousy of rival
collectors, the artifices of rival dealers, the uncertainty of
losing by one purchase what you gain through another--all these
aspects of the game render it quite as amusing as other forms of
speculation. To Beauregard the beauty of his favourite designs
naturally outweighed their commercial value, but it was impossible
to escape the fury of competition which disturbed the _attaché_ in
his bureau and the professor in his study. Every morning Minami
San or Ohara San appeared with a stock of tempting pictures, and as
they perfectly understood the art of playing off one buyer against
another, you often paid too high a price or delayed decision until
a bolder and perhaps more foolish gudgeon took the bait. Minami
San was a thin, melancholy man, with carefully plaistered hair
and irreproachable attire. He had the air of letting things go at
an appalling sacrifice, so that at times you almost hesitated to
haggle with him. He seemed too gentle for his trade. But Ohara San
roused defiance and inspired respect. He was an obese, jolly man
of shrewd capacity. As he sat on your floor drinking tea or taking
snuff, his patience and persistence were admirable. He interspersed
the bargaining with merry anecdotes and jovial information, as
though he rather sought your company than your cash, but nothing
escaped his twinkling eye, and, when a hasty covetous glance of the
would-be purchaser revealed a preference, the wily merchant refused
all abatement of price. He was of coarser grain than Minami,
who, when Beauregard left the country, presented him with a very
good Kunisada, as a polite acknowledgment of his many purchases.
But Ohara lent him for a few days an extremely rare series of
pornographic designs by Utamaro, and reclaimed them on the morning
of his departure.

One morning Ohara was unrolling a very spirited _makimono_,
copied from Keion’s “Flight of the Court,” and giving a vivid
representation of military pageant in the fourteenth century.
As the original is, of course, not to be bought, we were on the
point of arranging terms, when the hotel-boy entered and handed a
telegram to Beauregard: “I have run away. What shall I do? Reply
Saito Hotel, Shiogama. Maru.” His first impulse was to reply “Come
at once,” for the unexplained opposition had increased his desire
to make a settlement, but, on second thoughts, the consideration
for women, which I had already remarked as a kindly trait in his
character, prompted this unkind response: “Go home; do not come to
Tōkyō; will write.” The letter took the sting from the telegram,
for he explained how foolish it would be to leave home without
her family’s consent, as it might well happen in such a case that
when he returned to France Maru’s uncle might refuse to take her
back. He repeated that, unless she could be spared (and of course
he would recompense the hotel-keeper for loss of service), their
proposed trip must be abandoned. So, the futile colloquy along the
wires began again. Two days after: “All right at home. Am coming
soon (_sono uchi_). Reply.” But this time the student of Japanese
was not to be put off with _sono uchi_. He replied: “Come by first
train to-morrow, or not at all. Am leaving Tōkyō.” As a matter of
fact, he was going to Kose, while I was due at Ikao, and we should
travel together as far as Karuizawa. Late the following evening,
after spending the whole day in the theatre, he was handed a
telegram by the hotel manager, who had not thought it his duty to
send direct to the Kabuki-za, in which were these words: “I have
missed the train. Box at station. Reply. Maru.” Then the Frenchman
lost his temper. He was quite incapable of playing the Oriental
game of patience, and preferred to throw up the cards. This reply,
brutal in its brevity, was flashed to poor Maru: “Too late. Do not
come.”

I had been at Ikao a fortnight, and absorbed by new acquaintances,
was beginning to forget the very existence of O Maru San, when a
long letter from Kose conveyed the surprising intelligence that
she had at last joined Beauregard in that pretty little mountain
village. Soon after arriving he had been caught in a violent storm
on the slopes of Asama-yama, and had contracted severe rheumatism.
Unable to walk much and feeling rather lonely, he wrote finally
to Ishinomaki, stating that, if she cared to travel so far and
become his companion for the remaining month and a half of his
stay, he would make all ready for her reception. But, he added,
her decision must be prompt and definite. A third and last letter
reached him from the Asano-ya. “My niece,” wrote the old man,
“would like nothing better than to accept your kind proposal.
But in the town of Ishinomaki an alliance between an honourable
stranger and a humble Japanese girl is looked upon with disfavour.
How is it in Kose?” A final telegram--“No difficulties here. If
you come, what train?”--evoked the answer: “Start by eight o’clock
train to-night.” And to his great astonishment she kept her word.
One afternoon he saw a horse, bearing two bundles tied to a high
saddle, of the protective sort which is used for children in
England when they ride donkeys, ascending the glen from Yunosawa.
Rain had made the path impossible for rickshaws. One bundle was O
Maru, the other her luggage. She had never been on a horse before,
and had never taken such a long journey alone by train, but, after
two days’ travelling in the hottest part of August, there she
was, smiling and looking very happy at the sight of Borega Sama.
Little by little he discovered the reasons of so many delays and
prevarications. The landlord, who had at first advised her coming,
had been dissuaded by some acquaintances of the Norwegian skipper,
who urged that, if she waited for the latter’s return, it would be
more to her advantage, since he might take her for several voyages
and make a longer contract with the family than the French tourist
cared to entertain. Then she had “run away,” but only to her aunt,
who was an ex-geisha and gave dancing lessons at Shiogama. At last,
as no more news was heard of the Scandinavian suitor, she received
permission to follow her own inclination; and, though the journey
had presented many terrors, she came, armed with an _o mamori_
(amulet) of Watazumi-no-Mikoto, and, thanks to the care of that
potent deity, attained the goal of her long-thwarted desire.


III

Kose is an ideal lovers’ nest, hidden in the heart of thick
forests, where steep hills dip to a stream, now visible, now
invisible, but always to be tracked by its trickling or tumbling
song. Shady rambles and cool retreats invite whispering confidence,
but, to gain a view of the rolling country, which culminates in
volcanic peaks eight thousand feet high, hard climbing or riding
is inevitable. O Maru was much too timid and delicate to accompany
Beauregard on these tiring expeditions, and replied one day to a
question as to how she liked Kose, “Taihen yoroshi: ke’ domo miru
koto arimasen.” (It was very nice, but there was nothing to see
there.) Then he discovered that what she most wanted to see, more
even than the sights of Tōkyō or Kyōto, was the famous temple of
Zenkōji at Nagano. It was believed by the members of the Buddhist
sect to which her family belonged that the souls of the dead were
first given rendezvous at Zenkōji, immediately after death, before
departing on their long journey to other worlds. Her great wish,
therefore, was to make offerings of rice and incense to Amida on
the spot where her father and mother had passed away, that they
might know how lovingly she cherished their memory. Two days later
her wish was accomplished. As they climbed the broad avenue,
lined with little booths, at which were sold rosaries, candles,
breviaries, incense, toys, and sweetmeats, Beauregard realised for
the first time what vast influence is still wielded in Japan by
the Buddhist faith. Hundreds of pilgrims, in curiously-patterned
white dresses and palmer hats, moved with chatter and laughter
towards the chief gateway. On the left of the entrance stands a
nunnery, ruled by an abbess of high rank, and those who cross a
graceful bridge to enter it find themselves between two large
ponds of pink-flowered and white-flowered lotos, about the roots
of which crawl sacred tortoises. Where the shops end an avenue of
gods extends up to the main temple. Not only Monju and Shi Tenno
and images of the chief _rakan_ or disciples of Buddha alternate
with lanterns of bronze or stone, but the six Jizō, elsewhere
so humbly carved in common wood, sit proudly prominent in white
marble. O Maru had bought a packet of rice, some sticks of incense,
and a little rosary, whose beads were daintily strung on purple
cord. Beauregard took off his shoes and followed her into the main
temple. In that enormous building, two hundred feet in depth by
one hundred in width, the huge outlines of gilded gods glimmered
darkly, while rustling priests moved to and fro on mysterious
errands. From the multitudinous rafters, whose number, 69,384, is
said to correspond with the number of Chinese characters in the
Buddhist scriptures, pigeons flew continually, and the flutter
of their wings, together with the jingle of copper _rin_ tossed
lightly into the money-box, accompanied, without distracting,
the low mutter of perpetual prayer. When O Maru approached one
of the priests with her filial offerings, the old man looked
rather inquisitively at the handsome foreigner, but said nothing,
and, signing a certificate of piety, on which her name and
the death-names of her parents were inscribed, gave it to her
together with a circular pink sweetmeat, on which was stamped a
sacred wheel, typical of the law. Then, twining the mauve rosary
about her chubby hands, she murmured three times “Namu Amida
Butsu”--(“I adore thee, O eternal Buddha”), and, as she left the
altar-rails, threw five _rin_ into the treasury. Her devotions
were accomplished, and, much lightened in heart, she rejoined
Beauregard, who was inspecting the precincts of the temple. Chief
of the treasures is a sacred golden group, representing Amida and
his two followers, Kwannon and Daiseishi, which is supposed to have
been made by Shaka Muni himself from gold found in Mount Shumi, the
centre of the universe. Legend relates that the foes of the true
faith had done their worst to destroy this image: all attempts to
abolish it by fire and water and the sword had failed: since the
fourteenth century it has rested inviolate in a shrine, shrouded
by a curtain of rich brocade. So carefully is it now guarded, that
the pious are only allowed, on payment of a small fee, to behold
the outermost of seven boxes in which it is enclosed. Far more
accessible is Binzuru, a hideous brick-red deity, whose image
stands outside the chancel, to which position he is expelled for
having “remarked upon the beauty of a female” in violation of the
vows of chastity incumbent on Buddha’s disciples. Binzuru is amply
avenged for this harsh expulsion. Wherever his ugly visage is seen,
you will find him caressed and surrounded by women and girls, who
firmly believe that they have only to touch his body and then rub
their own in the same part, to banish every pain, great or small,
to which the human frame is subject. As they wandered from one god
to another, Beauregard questioned O Maru about her faith, which
he found to be simple and firm. Once she had seen with O Kiku a
picture of hell at a temple festival, in which fiery demons were
inflicting such tortures on unbelievers that, though their own
belief was orthodox, she and her friend had cried themselves to
sleep. It occurred to the Frenchman to ask whether she had no fear
of being punished for living with him as his wife, but she replied
that she had never heard that that was sinful, unless she had been
promised to some one else. He asked her what was the use of giving
rice to the souls of the dead, and whether she thought they would
eat it; but she explained that, whereas living people eat rice,
the _hotoke_, or spirits, only eat the soul of the rice, which is
there, although we cannot see it. She believed in prayer, fasting,
and amulets, but thought it wasteful to spend more than five _rin_
(about one halfpenny) a month on the gods, since they required no
clothing and very little food.

From Nagano the pair travelled to Kyōto, where they remained
until the end of their six weeks’ honeymoon. There I saw a great
deal of Beauregard, who was equally enamoured of Japanese art and
his Japanese wife. His days would be spent in visits to those
temples where good specimens of the Shijō and Kōrin schools
were jealously kept, but as he had letters of introduction from
an eminent professor and painter to the authorities, he had
exceptional opportunities of pursuing his passionate study of the
Kyōto Renaissance painters. All the treasures of Daitokuji and
Chionin, of Kinkakuji and Ginkakuji, were shown to him. Sometimes
he would spend many hours among the early sculptures of Nara, or
avail himself of an invitation to scan the private collection of a
rich shipowner at Ōsaka. His contempt for Hokusai and Hiroshigi was
unbounded; words could not express his dislike for what he called
“the shallow, meretricious judgment of de Goncourt.” I await with
considerable interest the _brochure_ which he intends to publish by
means of the _Mercure de France_ for the edification and confusion
of French connoisseurs. But O Maru interested me more than Okyō’s
fish and Sōsen’s monkeys. I would often spend the evening with
them, and, as we conversed hotly in our barbarian tongues, she
would sit contentedly sewing and humming to herself, delighted
to make tea or furnish information about her fatherland. Her own
curiosity was seldom excited, but now and then she betrayed depths
of astounding ignorance. One night Beauregard had been reading me a
chapter from Anatole France’s delightful “Le Livre de mon Ami,” in
which that writer thus describes a characteristic reminiscence of
childhood:

“J’étais bien payé de ma peine dès que j’entrais dans la chambre de
ces dames; car il y avait là mille choses qui me plongeaient dans
l’extase. Mais rien n’égalait les deux magots de porcelaine qui
se tenaient assis sur la cheminée, de chaque côté de la pendule.
D’eux-mêmes, ils hochaient la tête et tiraient la langue. J’appris
qu’ils venaient de Chine et je me promis d’y aller. La difficulté
était de m’y faire conduire par ma bonne. J’avais acquis la
certitude que la Chine était derrière l’Arc-de-Triomphe, mais je ne
trouvais jamais moyen de pousser jusque-là.”

With unconscious appropriateness she suddenly asked, “Shina no
kuni, Furansu no kuni, onaji koto des ka?” (Are France and China
the same country?) Nothing could persuade her that thunder was
not a phenomenon peculiar to Japan, for she had always associated
it with the wrath of a Japanese deity. Any breach of etiquette
shocked her sense of propriety, and she spent many unhappy moments
because of René’s remissness in two particulars. He always accepted
hospitality when offered by a Japanese friend, instead of refusing
at least twice for politeness’ sake: he often forgot to beat
down the price of something which took his fancy, depriving both
seller and buyer of the joy of bargaining. These faults lowered
him in the otherwise indulgent eyes of his little consort. Her
delicacy in the matter of presents was very marked. Though her
lover was anxious that she should buy a souvenir at every place
they visited together, he could never induce her to choose any but
an inexpensive trinket. To remedy this he occasionally relied on
his own judgment, but the result was unfortunate. I remember that
we returned from Ōsaka with the prettiest roll of _kimono_ silk
to be found in the bazaar, but when this was given to O Maru she
rejected it, explaining that such bright colours could only be worn
by a girl of fifteen or eighteen. Her own age was twenty-two. On
another occasion he chose a sober, stuff of silver-grey, but this,
it appeared, was only suitable to a woman of forty. After that he
gave up using his judgment, and begged her to spend what money she
wanted in her own way.

Her own way was extravagant, as we discovered afterwards: it
was only his money that she was chary of spending. For, when
he presented her with sixty _yen_ on the eve of departure, to
his surprise she clung to him and cried out excitedly, “Watakusi
hachiju yen hoshii!” (I want eighty _yen_!) As she had never seemed
mercenary, and had at first stipulated for fifty, he could not
account for this eager demand, which was of course immediately
accorded. But the next day O Maru appeared in a very beautiful
cloak, lined with white satin, on which were hand-painted designs
by a well-known painter of Kyōto. She had spent nearly the whole
of her present, fifty-five _yen_ (about £5 10_s._), on that royal
garment, which would certainly be the most handsome of its kind
in Ishinomaki. Her parting presents to René were some prettily
embroidered handkerchiefs of silk and an original poem, which
had more “actuality” than literary merit. In fact, it was a very
artless _cri de cœur_, and ran thus:

      “Sad is my love for
      Beaurega Sama:
      He goes, but I go
              Never, to France.”

I accompanied them to Kōbe, where the _Belgic_ was waiting to take
passengers to San Francisco, and charged myself with the duty
of sending O Maru home to her family. She came with us on the
liner, and was overawed by the huge steamer, with its crowd of
loud-voiced, whisky-drinking barbarians. Once she crept closer to
René, and asked him if he would return as soon as his mother died.
Filial affection, she knew, had the first claim. Then she gave
him a small wooden wedge, on which was the name of her sea-god,
Watazumi-no-Mikoto, with injunctions to press it to his bosom
every day at the hour of noon. At last the bell sounded to clear
the decks. O Maru took off her wooden _geta_ and climbed down into
the tug. Up to that moment she had borne herself bravely, but when
she saw the lessening figure of her lover recede for ever into the
waste of waters, she sank down in a storm of passionate sobs at my
feet.


IV

Six months later I was passing down the Rue Royale, when I saw René
Beauregard at a little table outside Maxime’s with two companions,
who were engaged in a fierce dispute about the never-ending
Affaire, while his whole attention was absorbed by a letter, which
I knew from the texture of the paper to be Japanese. Greeting him
with effusion--for we had not met since the _Belgic_ sailed from
Kōbe--I asked whether he had any news of O Maru since his return
to Paris. For answer he handed me the letter, which, with some
trouble, I deciphered. It was to the following effect:

  “To Borega Sama, 120, Avenue de Clichy, Paris.

  “From the time of your coming to Nippon to the time of your going
  back to your own country, as you have been so very kind to me, I
  humbly render thanks. To learn by your letter that you had safely
  crossed so many countries and great seas was indeed good news.
  I had fasted for twenty-three days and offered daily prayers to
  Watazumi-no-Mikoto that you might not fall into danger before
  reaching the house of your honourable mother. I am living with my
  aunt at Shiogama, and shall wait seven years in the hope that you
  will come back. I pray for you every day, and shall never forget
  the happy times we spent together in Kose and Kyōto. However long
  I write, there is no end to it, so I shall look for a further
  occasion to tell you my love. In respectful obedience,

        “O MARU.”

The letter contained an enclosure, which it required the
intervention of a Japanese friend to interpret. Whether the girl
had herself written the six poems which follow, or, as it seems to
me more probable, had adapted them with slight alterations from a
popular song-book, I cannot say. They form both epilogue and moral
to this typical tale.


      1.

      “Could I but meet you!
      Could I but see you!
      Waves roll between us;
              Wishing is vain.

      2.

      “Thinking about you,
      Watching your likeness;
      Yet the watched likeness
              Says not a word.

      3.

      “You, my French master,
      Living in Paris,--
      I am Awazu’s
              Single lone pine.

      4.

      “In mine ears waking,
      In mine ears dreaming,
      Ever one sound is,
              That of thy voice.

      5.

      “Heard though the voice be,
      Unseen thy body;
      So, on the mountains,
              Nightingales sing.

      6.

      “Now--though we once slept
      Pillow by pillow--
      ‘Where and how are you?’
              Asking, I weep.”



AFTERNOON CALLS



AFTERNOON CALLS


I

Théophile Gautier, describing his travels in Russia, declares
that, whereas Moscow and St. Petersburg fell short of the romantic
dream-pictures which he had conceived of them by reason of their
fame, the reverse was the case with Nijni-Novgorod, of which
the name alone allured his ear with chiming syllables. Having
reached the town with no other premonitory bias than the spell
exercised by its magical appellation, he was ravished by the
picturesque admixture of races from every corner of the empire.
This paradoxical conflict between history and geography makes many
victims. I too had been haunted by the prestige of a great name
in Japanese annals--the name of Ashikaga. As I studied period
after period of the turbulent evolution from feudal rivalry to
military usurpation, from military usurpation to constitutional
monarchy, it seemed more and more evident that the Ashikaga
Shōguns, during two-and-a-half centuries of power, had been greater
friends of art and learning than any rulers before or since. At
Kyōto I had seen the golden pavilion of Yoshemitsu (whom Professor
Fenollosa compares with Cosmo de Medici) adorned with mural
paintings and screens by the artists whom he had imbued with the
spirit of dreamy seclusion of the Hangkow idyllists. Under his
patronage Chinese learning took root in Ashikaga University; the
religious plays, or _Nō_, acquired in the hands of Kiyotsugu their
claims to rank as aristocratic opera; the war of chrysanthemums,
between rival dynasties in Yamato and Kyōto, was composed by an
astute compromise. In short, culture was not purchased at the
cost of firm government. Nearly a century later came Yoshimasa,
whose silver pavilion, where he held æsthetic revels with his
favourites, the Abbots Soāmi and Shuko, was as pale a copy of
his great predecessor’s taste as his capacity to govern was
inferior. Effeminacy followed in the train of refinement. The
Ashikaga _régime_ left a legacy of civil war and ruined peasantry
for stronger rulers to replace by hardier methods, but it also
bequeathed the memory of a new learning and a new art. To Ashikaga,
then, urged by misleading memories and the promise I had given
to visit Ikao comrades, I gladly repaired when September rains
depressed the face of Tōkyō.

Yamada San, rightly thinking that living friends were of more
interest than dead lions, took me straight from the station to
his father’s house, and postponed all sightseeing until the
morrow. Here I first realised the patriarchal atmosphere of an
old-fashioned home. Father and mother were gravely courteous, and
took pains to show me polite attention, but the son scarcely spoke
in their presence; and pretty O Mitsu, who looked extremely pale,
became mute as ivory. The entry of two cousins, who spoke a little
English, introduced some animation; and after the consumption of
tea and oranges O Mitsu was asked to sing me an old song, playful,
if possible, because the foreigner would find it more easy to
understand. Crouching over a long-stringed _koto_, she sang (the
weather was very hot) this popular mosquito song:

      “All you wives, lying
      Outside the curtain,
      Many mosquitoes
              Often have stung,
      Till the Bell Seven
      Clanged from the temple:
      Such things a good wife
              Heeds not at all.”

It was explained that a wife would be showing disrespect to her
husband by taking rest under the mosquito-net in his absence. If,
therefore, he happened to stop out all night, she must still wait
for him, outside the net, until the bell for matins sounded the
retreat of her winged persecutors. “The Bell Seven” is named in
accordance with old reckoning: the time represented is really four
in the morning, when the Japanese day begins. That was the last I
saw of O Mitsu, for etiquette forbade her taking supper at my hotel
in company with her husband and father-in-law.

We spent the evening with the Tanaka family. There, too, I observed
the reticence imposed on women in their own homes. Tanaka Okusama,
who at Ikao had discoursed so brightly on every possible subject
from ethics to Epaminondas, crept quietly from one to another
of her guests, offering tea and cakes, but never joining in the
conversation. Her husband, who had a most genial, refined face,
made an excellent host: the four boys sat silently in a corner.
Many questions were put about European houses and habits, for the
Ashikaga of to-day, being a great centre of the trade in cotton
goods made from foreign yarn, is accustomed to the sight of foreign
commercial travellers.

The antiquities of the place were disappointing. The Academy of
Chinese Learning, founded, if tradition may be believed, in 852,
after attaining its zenith of prosperity under Yoshemitsu, has
since gradually declined. The great library of Chinese works is
broken up; only a few books remain. Of Confucian relics there
rests only an impressive bronze tablet, with full-length figure of
the sage, from which “rubbings” are sold to the pious. A sinister
black impression of the gaunt, long-nailed philosopher, whose
teaching still broods like a shadow over the majority of Japanese
households, recalls to me, in the shape of a colossal _kakemono_,
that dusty, dilapidated school, whose students are deserting it
for Western lore. The vast temple, however, standing in a grove
of cryptomeria, is still thronged by worshippers, and forms a
worthy link with the historic glories of Ashikaga. In a side-chapel
stand wooden effigies of all the Shōguns, wearing the tall black
court-cap and the moustache with small pointed beard, fashionable
from the fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries. It is related that
three similar figures, preserved in the Tōjiin Temple at Kyōto,
were subjected to the indignity of decapitation in 1863, when the
Restoration party wished to insult the memory of the Shōgunate, but
did not dare to outrage the still powerful Tokugawa. The heads were
pilloried in the dry bed of the Kamogawa, where it was customary
to expose the heads of criminals. But Kyōto was at once the scene
of their rise and their decline. In Ashikaga itself their memory
lives as changeless and as free from insult as the tutelary
mountain rampart of Akagisan.

There being no hotel near Yamada’s dwelling, he secured me a room
in a geisha-house, with the result that late revelry made sleep
impossible. But a bathe next morning in the rushing Tonegawa, with
the exciting diversion of shooting some rapids in a crazy punt,
invigorated me and amused a crowd of urchins, who shouted from
the bank, “We want to see the naked foreigner!” By the end of
the second day I felt at home with the older generation of both
families, and was shown over warehouse, mill, and granary. Having
not omitted to present _miage_ on arrival, I departed in a shower
of good wishes and small souvenirs. Yamada senior, who had never
before (so his son declared) been willing to make the acquaintance
of a foreigner, insisted on my accepting a roll of _habutai_ (white
silk, resembling taffeta), while Tanaka Okusama met me at the
station with a parting gift of pickles and poetry. She had made the
one, her husband the other. In fact, he had added this _haikai_ to
his published works:

      “You, like a bird, pass,
      Joyous, untrammelled;
      Sad our farewell, when
              Kiri-trees fall.”


II

The holy province of Izumo should be visited in October. Then the
Shintō gods and goddesses, deserting every other part of Japan,
assemble at the great shrine of Kizuki under the presidency of
Ōnamuji. But every year Ōnamuji must have sadder news to tell
his dwindling fellow-deities. At one time his own temples on
Mount Daisen were as many as two hundred and fifty; these have
crumbled to a few mossy ruins. The goddess _Inada-hime_, whose
lover intoxicated with _saké_ the eight-headed serpent and cut the
monster in pieces, that she might become his spouse, is invoked
by fewer youths and maidens desiring happy marriages. On all
hands the Shintō Pantheon is being undermined by two strangely
allied foes--by atheism and Christianity. Though full of sympathy
for the august descendants of Izanagi and Izanami, the creator
and creatress of the Japanese universe, I could not refuse the
hospitality of a Japanese Christian, whose unremitting kindness
will always be associated for me with the romantic beauty of Matsuë.

From my hotel, which stood on the edge of the blue Shinjiko lagoon,
I was watching the little steamers puff angrily to and fro, the
endless procession of passengers across the long curving bridge,
and one or two old fishermen wading in the shallows, when a message
arrived inviting me to take tea with Assistant-Judge Nomura at his
house on Castle-hill. Happening to arrive before the other guests,
I was first shown a curious collection of prints, illustrating the
costumes and customs of ancient Korea, and a series of pictures
of all the ironclads belonging to the Japanese navy. This mixture
of old and new was very characteristic of Mr. Nomura, who admired
with enthusiasm Western dress, furniture, and religion, but
reverenced at the same time his own national traditions. Naturally
his knowledge of the two was one-sided, and he was happily
unconscious that his fine collection of Inari and Satsuma ware
was simply insulted by the base intrusion of a sixpenny London
saucer. Four inhabitants of Matsuë--two young lawyers, a musician,
and an old painter--were announced, and the host at once took a
more ceremonious tone. We all entered the tiny tea-room, nine feet
square, containing four and a half mats, and were occupied for more
than half an hour with _cha-no-yu_, the august tea-making, which
seemed to me unnecessarily long, perhaps because it was conducted
by a wizard in a grey coat and blue tie. I preferred the dainty
witches of the Miyako-odori. Besides the formal ablution and
handling of accessory instruments, at stated intervals a bell was
rung, the room was swept, we walked from the house to the garden
and back from the garden to the house with a scrupulosity that
would have satisfied Hideyoshi himself. At last the august tea,
thick and green and hot, was presented to each visitor, who drank
with slow but noisy demonstrations of lip-homage, to testify polite
satisfaction.

Then we adjourned to the sitting-room, where the musician brought
out two antique Chinese objects, one bearing resemblance to a flute
and the other to a violin with shaggy, semicircular bow. On these
he produced, not without effort, very weird sounds, which I was
obliged to eulogise as being entirely novel and remarkable, for I
could not compare them with any melodies familiar to European ears.
I believe the others shared my relief when a painting competition
was suggested, for they could all handle a brush as easily as I a
pen, and the eye is less fastidious than the ear. The first bout
was in three colours, sepia, Indian black, and red, though the last
was sparingly used. The designs were rapidly and lightly touched
in--a hawk pouncing on a goose; a carp swimming against the stream;
a frog climbing up a reed; and a terrified child, with shaven pate,
running away from a temple-dancer, masked by a lion’s head. Next
a batch of fans was distributed to the competitors, who speedily
adorned them with fanciful arabesques, in which curled clouds
played hide-and-seek with Fuji, or moonlit pines peeped out from
drifted snow. We drew lots for these souvenirs of playful skill,
and to me fell the picture of the child flying from the lion-mask.
But at this point Mr. Nomura’s own children, two charming little
girls, brought us in presents of flowers and cakes wrapped in
silver paper. The rickshaws were at the door; _sayonara_ rang
cordially in our ears; one of the pleasantest calls I ever made
came to an end.

Curiosity prompted me to attend the service held by native
Christians in an abandoned Shintō temple perverted to evangelical
use. Most of the congregation belonged to the more credulous sex.
Mothers, carrying their babies on their backs, sat in rows on
mats, while one or two chairs were placed for foreign visitors. All
joined heartily in the hymns and listened attentively to the simple
prayers. Sometimes a _shōji_, or sliding shutter, was gently pushed
aside, and an inquisitive face peered in on the worshippers. The
missionary, a man of athletic frame, with the cold, fixed eyes of a
fanatic, preached with fervour on the subject of original sin. He
held the doctrine that perfection was to be realised on earth, and
believed that he had personally attained it. From all accounts he
was a hard-working idealist, who spared no pains to make converts,
but his ascetic views must seem violently out of harmony with the
Shintōist easy-going faith, which has for moral code the single
maxim, “Follow your impulses and obey the Emperor.” Although not
subjected to persecution, a native Christian hardly ever remains
in his birthplace. The Matsuë converts whom we met had come from
Hiroshima, Ōsaka, and other spots. Some estimate of the progress
of Western religion among Matsuë merchants may be based on the
proportion of believers in the middle school, to which all the boys
of the better classes are sent. Out of about five hundred boys and
sixty masters, two boys and one master profess Christianity.

Etiquette is luckily assimilated to foreign custom among
Japanese Christians. When Judge Nomura returned my call, he was
accompanied by his wife and little girls, who were delighted with
some dolls and picture-books which I had purchased for them in
London. At first O Ai San and O Dai San, diminutive damsels aged
four and five respectively, sat solemnly in a corner burning
fireworks--_hana-bi_, as they are called--with tied tongues and
eyes fixed on the spluttering flowers of flame. But gradually
they thawed, and losing all their shyness, played battledore and
shuttlecock, blindman’s buff, and other games. When the babies had
gone home with their nurse, the judge and his wife remained to
dinner, and a lay preacher, who spoke English perfectly, proved an
invaluable medium of conversation. As my guests expressed a desire
to conclude the evening with hymns, we sang a great many, from
which they derived spiritual pleasure, while my knowledge of their
language was much enlarged. The lay-preacher had always two or
three hymn-books in his pocket, English and Japanese versions being
printed on opposite pages. Suddenly this pious exercise was rudely
interrupted. A tipsy geisha, holding a _saké_-cup in her hand,
staggered into the room and addressed some bacchanalian words to
the lay preacher, who chanced to be near the door. She had escaped
from a rather noisy wedding-party, which was feasting and clapping
hands in the room below, while the bridal couple had retired and
the _shimadai_, an emblematic group of pine and bamboo, crane and
tortoise, remained for a symbolic centre of festal joy. We took
this intrusion for a hint to separate, and it certainly jarred on a
devotional mood. To my friends this apparition must have suggested
the “scarlet woman,” whose cup is full of abominations, but I could
not regard it in any other light than the opportune assertion of
_la joie de vivre_, protesting against the gloomy gospel of Puritan
restraint.


III

And yet the joy of living, dissociated from any principle but that
of self-indulgence, is apt to produce strange types of Anglo-Saxon
degeneracy. Dr. Silenus, whose hospitality and frankness are a
byword in Azabu, would seem to have fallen victim to that fatal
fascination which Mr. Kipling ascribes to the lands “East of
Suez, where the best is like the worst; Where there ain’t no ten
commandments, an’ a man can raise a thirst.” Thirst was never
absent, and the decalogue rigidly banished from the epicurean
establishment, which I take leave to describe as a warning and a
comfort to the “unco’ guid.”

Sunday afternoon was regularly set apart for pagan revels, to
which the whole neighbourhood was admitted, for the large-hearted
Doctor loved to see his house full of friends and acquaintances.
When you had skirted the moat which encircles the imperial palace,
and climbed the steep _daimachi_, you hailed with relief a row of
houses, mostly inhabited by Europeans and surrounded by similar
high fencing. But, the gate once passed, all similarity between
Liberty Hall and its respectable neighbours ceased. In no other
courtyard would you be greeted by the sight of a hawk, an owl, a
goat, and several monkeys dwelling together in unity. Lucullus,
the goat, was an epicurean like his master, but less eclectic,
for his diet included wood and iron and stones, nails and lighted
cigars and boxes of matches. Indeed, he might still be living, a
triumph of desire over digestion, had he not one day tried a dose
of refined camphor, which brought death and a costly Shintō funeral.

Having penetrated the bodyguard of animals, you would enter a large
room, adorned with fine bronzes and screens, which you had not
leisure to examine, for so many unusual sights claimed attention.
At the back would be masked dancers or musicians, rather cramped
for space by reason of the motley, semicircular crowd of men,
women, and children, who filled the foreground as far as a row of
chairs set in the verandah for barbarian friends. Dominating all
sat the master of the revels, his huge torso bare to the waist and
profusely tattooed with elegant designs. As he passed the whisky
to the “parasites” (for so he was accustomed to call the band of
adherents who made his house their own), the genial, rotund Doctor
looked the very incarnation of Ebisu or Silenus.

[Illustration: Lion-Dance on New Year’s Day.]

The first dancer on the afternoon of my arrival was Kabukei-jishi,
the boy in a lion’s mask, whose figure is so familiar in Japanese
streets on New Year’s Day. Kabukei, a native of Echigo, is said
to have originated and given his name to this realistic dance.
Though the children must have seen it often before, some of them
laughed and others cried with terror, as the clever mimic crawled
up to them roaring, or scratching himself, or shaking his ears.
Then followed a comic scene between two peasants and a Daimyō, who
was obliged to defend himself with sword and fan against the heavy
hoes of his disrespectful henchmen. A medical comedy, probably
inspired to some extent by Dr. Silenus, had for _motif_ a quarrel
between a physician and a farmer, whose wife was expecting to give
birth to a child but had no wish to complicate an old-fashioned
process by new-fangled medicine. The outspoken dialogue did not
shock the unsophisticated audience, for whom Nature is not swathed
in conventional veils of reticence, but the actors observed the
_ne coram publico_ maxim to this extent, that the birth took place
in the wings, to be followed by a rather thrilling infanticide.
Bloodshed is always pleasing to the playgoers of Tōkyō. The last
piece to be performed was a duologue between Kitsune, the fox-god,
and a greedy rustic. Kitsune carried a bag of rice, and offered a
mouthful in reward for every athletic or acrobatic feat which the
other should succeed in imitating. When the gilt-snouted fox had
set the example of leaping or balancing with adroit agility, the
sly lout would make a clumsy pretence of doing the same, and always
managed to obtain the rice by chicanery. At last the god discovered
that he was being tricked, and killed the peasant with a blow from
his rake. Nothing seemed to amuse the Azabu children so much as the
antics of these two.

On another occasion Dr. Silenus invited a large party to witness
a still more interesting exhibition in his garden. If I have used
the word “degeneracy” to express his repudiation of certain moral
ideas to which the Anglo-Saxon race pays the compliment of formal
adherence, it should yet be added that his “self-indulgence”
included the laborious pleasure of teaching himself the art
of sword-making. Under Japanese tuition he had attained great
proficiency, and if his blades did not rank with those of Masamune
and Muramasa, at least they excited the admiration and envy of
experts. Between him, therefore, and those martial patriots of
his adopted country who in their hearts regret the swashbuckling
days of old, before barristers and deputies were minted from
a foreign model, latent sympathy could not but exist. Now the
_sōshi_, to whom allusion has already been made, and whose nominal
profession might range from that of vagabond actor to that of
political agent or bravo, have this in common--they love a life
of roving independence, while owning loose allegiance to some
momentary chief. As constitutional methods take deeper root among
their compatriots, it becomes more difficult for them to practise
an avowed calling which shall serve as a centre of organisation.
In the summer of 1898 one of them hit on the brilliant idea of
founding an Association for the Revival of the Noble Art of
Self-defence; that is, the euphemism was closely akin to the
title by which lovers of boxing in England and America glorify
their taste, while the object was to promote skill in the use of
lethal weapons. The Doctor, whom I regard as a thorough _rōnin_,
or unattached “wave-man,” refusing to bow the knee to social or
ethical Baals, became at once a subscribing member. He used to
declare that this adhesion procured him privileged places at
almost every public function which he attended, so potent is the
freemasonry of his brothers-in-arms. At least I can certify that it
procured for us a spectacle of unique and amazing skill.

The first combat was between a swordsman and a spearsman, in which
I fully expected that the lighter arm must easily prevail over
the cumbrous and more lengthy one. But I had reckoned without the
swivel, which made the lance in dexterous keeping a formidable
instrument. When the swordsman, abandoning the defensive, tried
to strike down his opponent’s spear and deal a close thrust,
the latter with the rapidity of lightning drew in his weapon,
and shooting it out again before the other could recover his
ground, drove the point home. In four bouts out of five the spear
proved mightier than the sword. Then it was pitted against a more
archaic compound of pickaxe and boomerang. To a small-headed axe
was attached an iron ball by a long cord, with which the holder
tried to entangle his adversary’s lance. He slung the ball with
his right, and if successful drew a dagger with his left hand to
plant the conquering blow. That many of the fencers could use
either hand with equal effect was proved by the next series of
encounters between two-sworded and one-sworded men. These had been
very carefully matched, and the superior skill of the man who was
armed with but a single sword in three cases out of seven decided
the result. Like a wise _entrepreneur_, the Chief of the Sōshi had
reserved his most sensational contest for the end. Female warriors
are no novelty in Japan. The Emperor, even up to the time of his
restoration to actual sovereignty in 1868, counted among his
troops a corps of Amazons, whose training was as severe and whose
prowess as remarkable as those of the _Samurai_ themselves. When a
stalwart woman came forward armed with a halberd and wearing the
same wide _hakama_ as her opponent, whose arm was a sword, she
astonished us all by the vigour and dexterity of her onslaught. The
war-cries which she uttered were very terrifying, and I am inclined
to attribute her victory rather to them than to any hypocritical
chivalry on the part of her adversary. I wondered if this muscular
virago obeyed the Confucian ordinance, “A woman should look on her
husband as if he were heaven itself, and never weary of thinking
how she may yield to her husband, and thus escape celestial
castigation.”


IV

I was seated in the office of that flourishing Tōkyō newspaper,
_Yorodsu Chōhō_--waiting for my friend the sub-editor, whose name,
Kishimoto Bunkyo, will one day be famous, when my tedium was
enlivened by an apparition. In spite of the care taken to entertain
foreigners in the waiting-room of that popular journal, I had
been bored. The square of Brussels carpet, the presence of table
and chairs, the permission to keep one’s shoes on, the literary
delights afforded by Macaulay’s “Essays,” Washington Irving’s
“Sketchbook,” and Mr. Stead’s “If Christ came to Chicago”--all
these things failed to dispel that _ennui_, born of perpetual
waiting, which only Oriental patience can endure. Suddenly entered
this welcome apparition, feminine, furious. “Is there any one here
who speaks English?” it asked impetuously. The old door-keeper,
catching at the sound “English,” muttered the word “Kishimoto,”
and climbed the stairs in quest of my friend. The apparition and
myself were thus left alone, and eyed each other furtively, with
embarrassment. At any other time I should have been delighted
to make the acquaintance of this pretty, smart American, but an
instinct warned me that her business was private and delicate. I
pretended to be absorbed by the dreary violence of Mr. Stead.
Kishimoto descended, alert and smiling. The apparition, thrusting
a lady’s visiting-card before his eyes, did not smile, but said
rapidly:

“That’s who I am. About that paragraph in yesterday’s paper; who
wrote it?”

“It was our reporter, madam. He is not at the office to-day, but if
you wish to make an appointment----”

“Can he speak English?”

“No, madam, but I shall be pleased to put my services at your
disposal, if I can be of any use. Personally my responsibility is
limited to the English column, whereas----”

“I know, I know. Well, just tell your reporter that my husband’s
real mad about this, and he don’t intend to let it drop. Likely as
not, he’ll be round here with a horse-whip, if your editor don’t
make some kind of apology or explanation. Good-day to you.”

The apparition disappeared as suddenly as it had arrived. I looked
reproachfully at Kishimoto. “Personal paragraphs?” I asked. “Are
you trying to attack Americans with their own weapons? And why
don’t you leave ladies alone?” He explained that Mrs. Kurumaya,
the pride of Idaho, was married to a Japanese professor, and had
recently come to Tōkyō with her husband. As there happened to be a
German from Idaho in the same hotel, the materials of a _ménage à
trois_ were too tempting to be neglected by a sharp penny-a-liner.
Hence the paragraph, the scandal, and the apparition. “And what
next?” I asked. “The editor will censure his informant, insert an
apology, and banish the matter from his readers’ memories by fresh
paragraphs of a similar character.”

Ten minutes after we had forgotten Mrs. Kurumaya and her
grievances, for Kishimoto had invited me to visit his quarter
of Hongō, and on the way thither we engaged in a vain effort to
find the grave of the painter Hokusai. Yet the indications given
by Professor Revon in his careful monograph seemed exact. We
discovered the little monastery of Sekioji (divine promises) near
Asakusa, and, having traversed the short avenue of cherry-trees
which leads to the temple door, began our search among the black,
lichen-stained tombs. In the third row we should have found a stone
bearing on one side the words--

      “Hokusai, of Shimōsa Province,
      Famous Genius, Sincere Man,
              Died May 10, 1849.”

and on the other a poem, which the old man of eighty composed on
his death-bed, one summer evening half a century before--

      “Lightly a man’s soul,
      Lightly a fire-fly,
      Passes in summer
              Over the plains.”

But though a young priest came to our assistance, the neglected row
of undecipherable inscriptions guarded their secret, and we were
obliged to give up the search.

Kishimoto could not understand the foreigner’s admiration for
Hokusai, and regarded it with the same tolerant contempt as most
Germans exhibited thirty years ago towards admirers of Wagner.
“There is nothing noble,” he cried, “in his pictures, nothing
sublime. He simply reproduced the vulgar street scenes in which he
lived. Even his drawings of Fuji, the holy mountain, are defiled by
grinning carpenters and ostlers.” He promised to show me specimens
of what his countrymen considered far higher art when we should
reach his father’s house, and in effect, when we were seated in a
pretty tea-room, overlooking a large garden, he unrolled for me
some fine _kakemono_ by Sesshu, Yeitoku, and Kiyonaga, which his
family cherished with intense veneration. But nothing could arouse
in me the enthusiasm which he evidently felt for three or four
pieces of Chinese calligraphy. There was, of course, no colour
in such masterpieces, no historic or anecdotic interest, for he
assured me that the words themselves had no particular depth or
beauty. Their sole charm consisted in the divine sureness of touch,
which had traced the intricate flying characters through a maze of
stroke and curve, and it seemed to my untrained intelligence that
to appreciate them properly one must be a brush rather than a man.

From _kakemono_ we turned to masks, of which he had a splendid
collection. Students of Japanese demonology could have told me many
weird stories of the cruel, leering monsters, whose faces reflected
so vividly the devilish imagination of their makers. But Kishimoto
only knew one story, and that rather a pretty one, concerning
Kijin, whose rank in the diabolic hierarchy I have not been able to
ascertain. He had it from a Buddhist nun, his aunt, and it bears
every mark of having been invented _pour les jeunes filles_.


THE STORY OF KIJIN AND O KAMMA SAN.

“When her mother died O Kamma was so overcome with grief that she
lost for a time all interest in living. Every day she laid flowers
on the grave and every night she cried herself to sleep. But, when
a month had passed, her father, who was of a gay disposition,
loving music and _saké_, scolded the girl severely, saying, that
since it was the will of Heaven that his _sezénnin_, or faithful
housewife, had left the world of tears, it was undutiful to make
the survivors miserable by perpetual Ah-ing, and impious as well.
So O Kamma kept a bright face while she went about her household
duties, and contrived every evening to slip up the hill to the
temple of Kiyomizu-dera, where she prayed to the Most Compassionate
One, the goddess Kwannon, whose countenance was gentle as her
mother’s had been. But when this habit had brought her into a peace
of mind which was not remote from happiness, her father took a wife
from among the geisha of Shimabara, whose jealousy and cruelty
soon made her stepdaughter’s life unbearable. She discovered that
the girl’s chief pleasure was her nightly visit to Kiyomizu, and,
as she did not dare to forbid her openly to go to the temple,
she would set her long tasks, saying, ‘You must not leave the
house until you have mended all the _shōji_,’ or ‘First finish
embroidering this _kimono_.’ But O Kamma worked twice as hard as
before, and never once missed her evening prayer to the goddess.
Then the wicked stepmother tried to frighten her out of going. One
night she hid herself behind a pillar of the temple, and when the
girl entered darted upon her wearing the fearful mask of Kijin,
whose teeth glittered fiercely in the twilight. But O Kamma said,
‘Bite me if you will, O Kijin Sama; I shall still say my prayers.’
And then the tables were turned. For a scream of terror came from
the geisha’s lips, and when Kamma rose from her knees she saw
that the devil’s mask was so tightly fixed that it could not be
removed from her stepmother’s features. The latter, in an agony
of fright, cried out to the girl to pray for the help of the Most
Compassionate One. So Kamma interceded with Kwannon, and the demon
let go of the wicked woman’s face; but from that time she lost all
beauty and lightness of heart, nor did she interfere any more with
the filial piety of O Kamma San.”

Having shown me his private treasures, Kishimoto very kindly
proposed taking me to some exhibitions, which would at least be
strange, if not beautiful. We drove first to the Chrysanthemum Show
at Dango-zaka, where my friend pointed out to me more kinds of
blossom than I can remember; but some, by reason of their fanciful
names, it would be impossible to forget. There were “White Dragon”
and “Sleepy Head,” a heavy disc with towzled petals; “Fisher’s
Lantern,” of which the dark lustre showed like velvet beside the
blushing pink-and-white complexion of “Robe of Feathers”; “Starlit
Night,” resembling frost-flowers; and, most marvellous of all, a
galaxy of various sorts and colours, radiating by the grafter’s
patient skill from a single stem. Fearful of outraging his refined
taste by such vulgar curiosity, I persuaded the sub-editor to wait
for me in the tea-house which faces the river, while I followed
some gaping women and children into twopenny shows which delight
and instruct the simple. There, trained over trellis-work or
encasing figures of wood and wax, the docile chrysanthemum evokes
familiar scenes from legend or play. Chrysanthemum warriors pursue
chrysanthemum maidens; chrysanthemum Danjuro dances the cryptic
measure of Jiraiya before a chrysanthemum frog; chrysanthemum
elephants, castles, warships, monkeys, and demons compose a
fantastic universe in which the flowers seem turned to magic
serpents, which simulate and strangle all other creatures.

“What do you think of them?” asked Kishimoto, when I rejoined him.
“Have you ever seen such monstrosities before?” “No,” I answered;
“they suggest to me a collaboration between Madame Tussaud and
the author of the ‘Arabian Nights.’” “Well,” he said, “since you
mention the ‘Arabian Nights,’ how would you like to hear one of our
professional story-tellers? Shall we dine at Asakusa and go to a
_yosé_ afterwards?” “You anticipate my heart’s desire, and lay up
for yourself undying gratitude. Let us go to a _yosé_.”

At the Isemon Restaurant delicious shrimp-cutlets and delightful
geisha made of dinner a rather protracted ceremony. When we
arrived at Tsurusé, near the Nihon-Bashi, only a few seats at
the back of the room were unoccupied. We had paid 30 _sen_
(about sevenpence-halfpenny) at the door, and the _nakauri_, a
daintily-dressed waiting-maid, charged only twopence for tea,
cushion, and tobacco-box. On the curtained platform at the opposite
end of the hall a _zenza_, or _débutant_, was relating a comic
anecdote, which greatly amused his auditors. Like so much Tōkyō
humour, the laughter was calculated to flatter the townsman’s
shrewdness at the countryman’s expense. A farmer, whose son
had gone to make a living in the capital, received a telegram
asking for a pair of new shoes, stout and solid, such as only the
provinces can produce. Proud of his telegram, the first which
had been received in those parts, and believing the mischievous
information of a neighbour who saw his way to an excellent joke,
the father had the shoes made and hung them on the telegraph-wires,
never doubting that they would at once be transported to Tōkyō.
Soon after the crafty neighbour took down the shoes and substituted
an old pair of his own. When the farmer happened to pass by in
the evening, he was astounded by the excellence and promptness of
telegraphic communication. “Look, my friends,” said he; “in half a
day I can send my son a pair of new shoes and receive his old ones
in return.”

[Illustration: A Professional Story-teller.]

The _zenza_ was followed by a _tezuma_, or conjurer, whose tricks,
though exceedingly deft and graceful, were such as I had seen
before. Then came a mimic, whose impersonations of popular actors
provoked much applause. At last, after a musical performance which
served as interlude, the famous _raconteur_, Sukeroku, continued
his elaborate historical romance, dealing with a Japanese Perkin
Warbeck, whose pretensions to the Shōgunate had caused much
dissension among the adherents of the Tokugawa dynasty. Evidently
the frequenters of the _yosé_, like the bulk of playgoers, prefer
mediæval to modern topics. As the venerable author tapped with
his fan on a little wooden slab to emphasise his points, and
passed with rich elocution from incident to incident, the audience
followed with rapt attention. Abruptly, as it seemed, he arrested
his narrative, and the formula “To be continued in our next”
was legible in the half-expectant, half-disappointed looks of
his hearers. Before leaving I gathered a few particulars about
the profession of a _hanashika_ or story-teller. An established
artist, or _shinuchi_, will receive 100 _yen_ (about £10) a month
(during half of which period one tale will continue from night
to night), or perhaps 60 per cent. of the takings. He may receive
this sum from three or four _yosé_, since the _hanashika_ form a
corporation and have branch-houses in all the chief towns. Many of
the more famous, like Hakuen and Encho, publish their stories after
they have been delivered orally. I was not able to hear the English
story-teller, Mr. Black, whose knowledge of Western literature and
Japanese speech enables him to draw on a larger _répertoire_ than
his colleagues. Foreigners who desire to accustom their ears to the
sound of the language will find the _yosé_ infinitely more useful
than the theatre, for the style is less literary and the diction
less artificial.


V

I was dazzled by Jiraiya. He bewildered my senses with sleight of
hand and foot; he soothed my conscience with bold sophistries.
For two _rin_ I would have caught up an uncouth pike, assumed
outrageous armour, and followed that robber-chief unhesitatingly
to glory or to death. Vaguely I could remember being stirred in
boyhood by the prowess of Robin Hood, by the fortunes of Aladdin,
but here was a magnificent being who rivalled and surpassed both
heroes in his own person. Like the outlaw of Sherwood Forest, he
defied the powerful and helped the humble; judges and soldiers
trembled at his name, which was breathed with blessings by the poor
but grateful receivers of stolen goods. When the Government at last
put forth its strength to crush him (and here his superiority was
incontestable), instead of calling on his men in green to empty
their trusty quivers, he had merely to summon his attendant sprite,
a green frog, which could be trusted to spout fire until the last
representative of futile authority should be utterly consumed. I
had seen him dancing on the back of an awful dragon, which the
frog vanquished before the beast had time to swing its tail; I had
seen him dancing defiantly on a mountain covered with snow, while
his whirling spear threatened a score of enemies dancing round the
base: suddenly the mountain changed to a fire-spitting frog, and
the enemies danced no more. Perhaps it was this decorative fashion
of dancing in battle which reconciled me to the wholesale slaughter
of so many brave men. At the moment I merely felt that they were
hostile to Jiraiya and well deserved their doom. Similarly, it
seemed no more than the deserts of my loyal enthusiasm when a
courteous attendant, bowing to the ground, brought a message to my
box to the effect that Jiraiya would be pleased to see me in his
dressing-room when the curtain fell.

I followed the attendant down winding passages, and was shown into
a small wooden compartment, which contained grease-paint, brushes,
dresses, and in the corner a dignified old man, with eyes as sharp
as Ibsen’s and the gravity of an archbishop. In his expression was
no hint of robbery, dancing, or witchcraft. I looked round for
the green frog, but the only other occupants of the room were two
young ladies in sky-blue _kimono_, whom I afterwards discovered to
be the actor’s daughters. They never miss one of their father’s
performances. Presenting the letter which Mr. Fukuchi had kindly
indited, I begged permission to interview Jiraiya at length on
several phases of his complex personality. Ichikawa Danjuro (how
well the stately syllables suited his demeanour) replied that he
would be pleased to receive me any afternoon in the following
week at his own house, where he would be resting between two
engagements. But I knew that a magician (and, above all, a Japanese
magician) held time to be of no more consequence than life or
death, so I specifically demanded Wednesday as my share of his
timeless immortality. The request was granted: the applicant
retired.

I have known actors so devoted to their art that they treat every
incident, however trivial, as a matter of theatrical importance,
and impose on every acquaintance the _rôle_ of a spectator. They
grasp your hand with that fervour which warms the heart of the
gallery, and take leave of a lady with glances such as melt the
stalls. This exaggerated consciousness of his calling is utterly
absent from Mr. Danjuro, who, off the boards, becomes less of an
actor and more of an archbishop in proportion as he realises every
year the growing prestige and veneration attached by the bulk of
his compatriots to the chief of the Japanese stage. To them he is
a great deal more than the successful acquirer of fame and money:
he is the inheritor and transmitter of a great tradition, a living
link with that pictorial old Japan which, beaten back by modern
innovation outside the theatre, holds its own gallantly in the
unstormed fortress of national drama. His habitation is in complete
accord with the honourable position held by its proprietor. Good
taste and simplicity conceal all traces of the wealth which is
his. Opposite the reception-room is a small lake, decorated with
trees and huge ornamental stones such as the Japanese æsthete
loves, since they recall, as far as may be, the freaks which
Nature loves to play with forest and mountain. The rooms are of
white wood, beautifully planed, and the only objects which suggest
the theatre are _fuda_, or long laths, hung with wreaths and
bands of silk, on which are inscribed tributes of admiration from
tea-houses, geisha-houses, and guilds of various kinds. When the
master entered, wearing a quiet-coloured _kimono_ of grey cotton,
he greeted his visitors (my friend Kishimoto had volunteered his
services as interpreter) with grave cordiality, and, having ordered
a servant to bring in coffee and cakes, proceeded to answer my
questions with imperturbable kindness.

“My family,” he said, “have been actors for nine generations.
My earliest recollection of the stage dates from 1840, when I
was carried on in my father’s arms, an infant of three, for
introduction to the public. As you may know, the fashion of
adoption plays a considerable part in all our confraternities.
Great names are never allowed to die out. Thus, at the age of
eighteen, I took the name of Gonjuro, being adopted by the manager
of the old Tōkyō theatre, and it was not until my father’s death
in 1874 that I became Danjuro the Seventh, so styled. Danjuro the
First made his _début_ in the year 1673.”

“And which is your favourite part, Mr. Danjuro?”

“I prefer historical plays, which revive old ideals and present
noble figures for the emulation of posterity. In my opinion
the best plays are those which stimulate patriotism. Perhaps
‘Kajincho,’ in which Benkei, disguised as a priest, enables
Yoshitsune to cross the bridge and become master of Kyōto, is the
_rôle_ I like best.”

I had long since made the acquaintance of Benkei, the Devil Youth,
and the feats both of mind and body which he achieved for the sake
of his youthful victor, ever since the latter had defeated him
in single combat on Gojō bridge, were familiar to me both from
coloured prints and the representation of “Funa Benkei,” by members
of a _Nō_ troupe. It was evident that the star actor had a weakness
for “sympathetic” parts, and no doubt his mien and manner were
admirably adapted to the impersonation of majestic priests.

“Have many of your actors the intellectual power to conceive and
render historical heroes?”

“No; I fear it must be admitted that the great fault of too many
actors is illiteracy. But in my young days we were scarcely to
blame for this. The Government actually forbade us to receive any
other than a theatrical education, which, as then understood,
sufficiently taxed our time and strength. We were obliged to learn
and reproduce exactly the traditional tones, gestures, and actions
associated with any particular part.”

“What is your opinion of foreign methods of acting?”

“I have only seen a few amateurs at the Legations, and cannot form
an opinion. But when Mr. Fukuchi and Mr. Osada wrote a little
piece in one act, half in French and half in Japanese, in which
I had the honour of appearing with Madame Théo, I found it most
difficult to sustain my part, since the lady’s words and by-play
were alike mysterious.” A grim smile accompanied this souvenir of
that comedietta, “The Green-eyed Monster.”

“I suppose you have improved in many ways on the old-fashioned
style of acting?”

This widely cast question invited such a shoal of answers that the
conscientious examinee paused to consider.

“I will try to mention a few of the changes which I have done
my best to bring about. The first thing I aimed at was greater
freedom of interpretation. Tradition weighed like a millstone
on the actor’s neck. Instead of painfully and slavishly copying
a predecessor, I set the example, as soon as I felt influential
enough, of forming and putting into action my own conception of a
character. But it was a hard task. Then I tried to introduce more
natural diction. Ranting and hollow declamation were the rule. Even
now one is compelled to pitch the voice very high on account of the
music, which some actors find an aid to delivery.”

“But isn’t that most fatiguing for the voice?”

“Not in well-built theatres, like the Kabuki-za, where the vaulted
roof leaves nothing acoustically to be desired.”

“And your famous facial expression?”

“Ah! that, I think, was a real reform. The old actors’ faces were
barred with red and blue stripes to make them look ferocious, and,
though they may have terrified the audience, they could not impress
it in any other way, for variety of expression was impossible. Now,
without discarding paint altogether, we aim at conveying all the
emotions by play of feature, leaving sometimes to the musicians the
task of rendering them into words.”

In this respect I was able to confirm the actor’s words by
personal observation. Nothing had struck me as more peculiarly
characteristic of a Japanese audience than its delight in
histrionic grimace. The loudest applause, the frenetic shouts of
“Hi-ya! Hi-ya!” had been evoked in my hearing, not by repartee or
tirade, but always by convulsive contortions of visage in moments
of supreme misery or rage. The word _grimace_ connotes, I am
afraid, that contempt, allied with coarseness of sensibility, which
the stoical Anglo-Saxon is apt to entertain towards more gesticular
and sensitive races. But some of Sara Bernhardt’s death-scenes
would be appreciated at their full value by the acute, minute
observers of Tōkyō, just as all Paris was thrilled and captivated
by Sada Yacco’s realistic dying.

“Is the social status of the actor higher than it used to be, Mr.
Danjuro?”

“I think it is. Speaking for myself, many of our nobles and one of
our princes have done me the honour of inviting me to their houses,
but such invitations are by no means common. The illiteracy of
actors, to which I alluded just now, is a barrier to their social
advancement.”

“If I may broach a delicate question, will you tell me if the
paragraphs circulated in the Japanese Press are correct? They state
that your season of four weeks last April in Ōsaka brought you in a
sum of 50,000 _yen_ (nearly £5000), and that out of this amount you
gave away in presents something like 20,000 _yen_ (£2000).”

The old man smiled, less grimly. “It is quite true,” he said. “But
the presents are imposed by etiquette, and such customs are more or
less reciprocal. The total receipts of the theatre, as certified by
the Government auditor, after the tax had been deducted, amounted
to 130,000 _yen_ (£13,000).”

“How is it you have avoided the master-passion of our London actors
to become an actor-manager?”

“I think a manager must be sorely tempted to put money first and
art second. I often advise authors to make certain alterations in
the plays for which I am engaged, but the responsibility of entire
management would distract me from the purely artistic aspect of
representation.”

A mischievous recollection of Delobelle’s “Je n’ai pas le droit
de renoncer à mon art” occurred to me, and I cynically wondered
whether management might not diminish (it could hardly increase)
the lion’s share of the receipts.

“Will you ask Mr. Danjuro,” I said, “if he will like to put any
questions to me about European actors and acting? I shall be most
delighted to give him information on the subject.”

The answer was a blank negative. For the patriotic actor no stage
existed but his own. He had never been abroad; his interest in
foreign things was limited to the flattering curiosity of foreign
admirers.

The interview had already lasted an hour, for the translation
of question and answer from concise English into more elaborate
Japanese, and _vice versâ_, was a rather slow process. I therefore
begged the invaluable Kishimoto to say that I could not think of
trespassing any longer on Mr. Danjuro’s leisure, and would spare
him one or two other interrogations which had suggested themselves.
Thanking him in my best Japanese, I was rising to go, but our
unwearied host would not hear of it, and insisted on my continuing
to the bitter end.

“Well, since you are so kind, I should much like to hear your
opinion of the _sōshi shibai_.”

Knowing that the _sōshi_-theatre must appear to a conservative
actor as red a rag as the Independent Theatre to Mr. Clement Scott
or the Théâtre de l’Œuvre to the late M. Sarcey, I awaited the
reply with interest. But the gallant attempt to destroy feudal
spectacular drama with ammunition drawn from French and English
arsenals had failed so miserably, that the patriot could afford to
be generous. His eyes twinkled as he answered: “Certainly some of
the _sōshi_ had great talent, but it was all of the theoretic kind.
They had splendid theories about reforming the stage and bringing
it into harmony with progress, with the spirit of the age, and
other fine things. But, when they had to translate their theories
into practice, the result fell very far short of their aims.
Their writers were amateurs, their actors were amateurs; they knew
nothing of stage-craft. The public, excited by the promises, were
willing enough to give them a trial, but, as they did not know how
to interest the public----”

“Then you gave them no assistance, Mr. Danjuro?”

“None at all.”

“Are you blessed with a censor of plays?”

“There is a censorship, but it falls under the head of ordinary
police duties, and is not specially limited to the theatre.
Political and licentious passages are carefully excised before
performance, and I doubt if the authority of the censor has been
exercised in the Meiji era (since the Restoration).”

“How is it that foreign plays fail to interest your playgoers?”

It is my honest belief that Kishimoto, from a mistaken idea of
sparing my feelings, abridged considerably the answer to this
question. Both he and Mr. Danjuro chuckled a great deal, and seemed
to be exchanging sympathetic affirmations. Then came the crushing
rejoinder: “Because in all your plays the attitude of men to women
seems to us not only irrational but ridiculous.”

I changed the subject. “Which classes go most to the theatre?”

“The middle and lower classes. Since the Emperor witnessed a
performance in Count Inonyé’s house in 1886 it has become more
fashionable for men of rank to go occasionally, but it cannot be
said that the aristocracy, as a class, patronise the stage.”

“Can Mr. Danjuro tell me if the _mawari-butai_, or revolving stage,
resembling what the Greeks used to call _eccyclema_, is native or
imported? Some Japanese have told me that it was probably adopted
from a foreign source.” Mr. Danjuro held the opposite opinion.

“And how far is your stage controlled by guilds?”

“The old system has entirely broken down. Formerly some six or
seven families had complete control of the theatre. A novice could
only enter the profession through adoption by one or other of
these. He received an elaborate education; he adopted the name
and a modified form of the crest of his patron. The right to play
certain parts was vested in certain actors, who transmitted the
privilege. But now all that is changed. Any one can go on the stage
and play any part he likes. There is no restriction and no training
either.”

“And is the special tax on actors now abolished, giving place to an
income-tax?”

“No; that is an error. We still pay a heavy tax, irrespective of
income.”

“One more question. Have you any association corresponding to that
which in England is known by the name of the Actors’ Benevolent
Fund?”

“Yes; we have a large guild, which undertakes to help members
overtaken by misfortune and to expel others whose actions bring
discredit on the stage. For we love our art, and are rewarded by
its growing popularity with all classes of the community.”

On this patriotic note I thought it well to close. I urged
Kishimoto to exhaust his stock of honorifics in a suitable vote
of thanks, and, as I took leave of the patient, archiepiscopal
veteran, I wondered how a mosquito feels when it has been stinging
with impertinent curiosity, hour after hour, some grave, immemorial
image of Buddha.



THE SCARLET LADY



THE SCARLET LADY


I

      --“La dame en noir des carrefours
      Qu’attendre après de si longs jours?

             *       *       *       *       *

      --Je suis la mordeuse, entre mes bras,
        De toute force exaspérée
      Vers les toujours mêmes hélas;
        Ou dévorante--ou dévorée.

      Mes dents, comme des pierres d’or,
        Mettent en moi leur étincelle:
      Je suis belle comme la mort
        Et suis publique aussi comme elle.

      Aux douloureux traceurs d’éclairs
        Et de désirs sur mes murailles,
      J’offre le catafalque de mes chairs
        Et les cierges des funérailles.

      Je leur donne tout mon remords
        Pour les soûler au seuil du porche
      Et le blasphème de mon corps
        Brandi vers Dieu comme une torche.

             *       *       *       *       *

      --La dame en noir des carrefours
      Qu’attendre après de si longs jours
              Qu’attendre?

      --J’attends cet homme au couteau rouge.”

              EMILE VERHAEREN.

In Europe she wears black. That colour is better suited to the
ignoble tragedy of which she is both heroine and victim. At night
you may see her hovering furtively about the edge of a square,
where shadows hang darkest, or plucking at passers-by with words
of vulgar endearment. All she has to offer is momentary pasture
for the teeth of desire, since love and confidence, the lanterns
of happy wedlock, shed no light on her outcast bed. Society damns,
but cannot destroy, her. Shame and solitude are the wages which
corrode her soul even more rapidly than her body, though that has
become in Christian eyes, as the poet so finely says, “a blasphemy,
brandished like a torch before God”; but man, denying her the
status of any but an unconvicted criminal, forces her to drop lower
and lower through remorse and infamy to the hospital-pallet or the
assassin’s knife.

How different is her fortune in Japan! There she wears scarlet,
garish and bright as the five years’ revelry to which, as they
might sell a platter or a cup, her parents have sold her; but she
is not doomed to the black degradation which robs her Western
sister of self-respect. Though the loss of freedom be irksome and
submission to buyers disagreeable, yet she is a member of “the
oldest profession in the world,” in a country where it is not
without honour. She is surrounded by companions, well fed and well
housed, protected from robbery or murder by the Government and the
goddess Inari; above all, she does not live ashamed and boycotted,
but plays her part in an active round of duties and ceremonies.
If remembered precepts of religious teaching ever visit her,
they come, not to threaten, but to console. So far from slipping
hell-wards, she is earning the approbation which Heaven accords
to filial self-sacrifice. Happy she is not, though she may one day
become so, for, when her contract shall have expired, marriage will
be no impossibility. But she is much less unhappy than if she wore
black.

It might be thought that the operation of natural laws, regulating
supply and demand, would sufficiently account for her existence.
But those who prefer fancy to fact are given the choice between
two legends. According to one, the Emperor Komatsu Tenno sent
forth his eight daughters to be women of pleasure and set the
fashion in seven provinces; from them the courtesans of Settsu,
Hiogo, and Eguchi were said to be descended. Though one may doubt
the authenticity of this imperial origin, the incongruity between
rank and the exercise of the scarlet profession did not affect the
Eastern mind, as it does our minds, with a sense of repulsion. On
the contrary, it is no uncommon thing in the old romances to find a
heroine of noble birth resorting, reluctantly indeed, but without
any feeling of irremediable guilt, to the sale of her charms,
until she should find a chance of regaining liberty and her lover.
In fact, one of the classes into which courtesans were divided,
that of _tsubone-jōro_, was so called from the word _tsubone_,
signifying the ladies’ apartments in a Daimyō’s house, because the
daughter of Ichinomiya, a Daimyō, being driven by stress of weather
to Hiroshima and by want of money to sell her favours, became
prototype and founder of aristocratic demireps. The country-folk,
respecting her station, would not reckon her among common _jōro_,
but prefixed the substantive _tsubone_ rather than blur their nice
appreciation of class distinction. The second legend sounds less
apocryphal. After the great sea-fight of Dan-no-ura in 1185, the
widows and daughters of the defeated Taira clan “were forced for
daily bread to sell their bodies in the streets of Shimonoseki.”
But at least four centuries before that date the Hetaira had begun
to set her mark on history and literature.

The poetry of the Nara period, which reflects the elegant
court-culture of the eighth century and is represented by Manyōshiu
(“The Collection of One Thousand Leaves”), was largely written by
women, and contains at least one song by a “jūgyōjōfu,” or “woman
who goes about for pleasure.” The _kugutsu_, who were summoned
by innkeepers for the convenience of guests and were of much
lower status, composed many famous little songs, whose memory has
survived that of their authors. But the first light-o’-love whose
orb burns brightly on the stormy darkness of the twelfth century,
when Taira and Minamoto deluged the rice-fields with blood, was
Tora Gozen. The most beautiful courtesan in Oiso, she became the
mistress of the elder Soga, who slew his father’s murderer in the
hunting camp of the Shōgun Yoritomo at the foot of Fuji. Their tale
is told in an historical novel, “Soga Monogatari,” and the tourist
who descends from the sulphur-springs of Ashinoyu to Lake Hakone
will still pass on his way three monuments of stone, the smallest
being commemorative of Tora. More striking still is the tribute
paid to Takao, another type of immortal frailty, who refused with
scorn the Lord of Sendai’s offer to become his property. Endowed
with every accomplishment, she enjoyed a higher social position
than the geisha of those days, and regaining her freedom, was
faithful (so far as professional exigencies would allow) to a
lover of humble rank. Not only has her native hamlet of Shiogama
erected a memorial-stone to honour her dishonour, but the priests
of the little Myō-onji temple jealously guard a faded fragment of
her wardrobe. There was never great hostility in Japan between the
goddess of love and more ascetic deities. In more than one locality
you will find a row of temples fronted by a row of pleasure-houses,
that the pilgrims may impartially indulge body and soul.

When the Ashikaga Shōguns made Kyōto a centre of nobler art and
more delicate refinement, the Scarlet Lady lost ground. The curse
of Confucius, stigmatising her sex, had crossed the Yellow Sea.
Painters preferred the beauty of snow and tree and bird to her
fatal beauty; poets, imbued with Buddhism, wrote passion-plays on
other passions than hers. Neither in the serious _Nō_ nor comical
_Kiōgen_ does she cut any figure at all. It would almost seem
that for two centuries men found ceremonial tea-drinking and the
excitements of civil war more congenial than her society.

At last the queen came by her own. When the feudal nobles went
down before Iyeyasu and took his iron yoke upon their necks,
the military despot was seen to be a popular liberator. Art and
literature ceased to be the precious playthings of an æsthetic
aristocracy. Novelists, playwrights, painters rose from the masses
and worked for the masses. Rejecting in scorn the moony fetters
of Chinese convention, they painted in broad colours and aimed at
broad effects. Yedo, the new capital, without culture and without
traditions, became their home and their hunting-ground. Of these
turbulent subjects Venus Pandemos was naturally queen, and since
her accession in the seventeenth century to the present day many
measures of restraint, more or less fruitless, have been adopted
by scandalised authority to curb her sovereignty.

As for the novelists, three great names in Japanese fiction may
be cited at once. Saikaku, who died at Osaka in 1693, wrote an
enormous number of amusing stories and sketches of contemporary
life. The rollicking life of the gay lupanars was his favourite
theme. Mr. Aston assures us that “the very titles are too gross
for quotation.” Even his contemporaries were shocked, and a
virulent criticism, entitled “Saikaku in Hell,” brought about
the suppression of his works by the Government. A new edition
has lately been permitted to appear. In the next century his
example was followed and bettered by Jishō, whose name signifies
“Spontaneous Laughter.” He was a Kyōto publisher, and his place
of business, the Hachimoniji-ya, or Figure Eight House, was as
popular in its day with lovers of sex-novels as the Bodley Head
itself. He had a collaborator, called Kesiki; and whether he
supplied the humour and Kesiki the psychology I cannot say, but
their joint productions aimed at something higher than Rabelaisian
mirth. They aspired to the laurels of Theophrastus, delineating
“Types of Elderly Men,” “Types of Merchants’ Assistants,” “Types
of Girlhood,” and the like. But whatever the type selected, the
reader was sure to pass most of his time with it in fast society.
Well, Spontaneous Laughter died, but his firm continued to publish
_sharebon_, or witty books, until the end of the eighteenth
century, when once more the authorities swooped down and made an
end. The fame of both these novelists is eclipsed by that of Kiōden
(1761-1861), the father of the romantic novel. His predecessors had
made men titter, but he bade them shudder or weep, at the harlot’s
fate. He proved the sincerity of his sympathy with women of that
class by marrying two of them in succession. They are said to have
been excellent wives. At the age of thirty he was “condemned to
fifty days’ handcuffs (in his own house),” for circulating what he
called an “Edifying Story-book.” His subsequent stories were mostly
founded on less dangerous themes.

If any should suppose that the writers of stories and plays on this
subject had no other purpose than to supply unwholesome food for
unclean appetites, he would be egregiously mistaken. The author of
a witty book might indeed be liable to this imputation, though the
_naïf_ attitude of his fellow-countrymen to physical facts which
it is our habit to ignore robs the pat epithet “pornographic” of
much opprobrium. Still there were limits of propriety, which, in
his zeal to amuse, he frequently left behind. But the dramatist
had every justification for dramatising the Unfortunate Lady, who
appealed most strongly to his imagination and his heart. To begin
with, his audience loved a spectacle, and what spectacular setting
could dazzle them more than the spacious Kuruwa with its balconied
palaces, divided by cherry-trees and hung with showy lanterns?
What other section of society could provide such a feast of colour
for beauty-loving eyes as these priestesses of pleasure, when they
moved in procession through thronging suitors in their gorgeous
sweeping robes, or sat superbly immobile, like painted idols, their
high _coiffures_ haloed with radiating pins of pearl and silver and
tortoise-shell? And beneath all that picturesque elegance throbbed
a tragic, adventurous existence. Other women passed silently from
father to husband, from mother to mother-in-law, their lives
arranged for them on lines of tranquil duty. But the Unfortunate
Lady, transferred in girlhood, a chattel or a heroine, from village
poverty to urban splendour, becoming half a queen and half a slave,
was both free and not free to follow the voice of passion, which
her secluded sisters had often never heard. They slept peacefully,
with nothing to greatly hope or fear from the hand of destiny, but
to her at any moment might come a Perseus, cleaving the dragon’s
mail with golden sword and delivering Andromeda from deadly
servitude. Out of the hundreds of plays devoted to Andromeda, I
will recall one, which has sunk most deeply into popular favour,
and which I saw enacted before a weeping audience at the Kabuki-za
theatre.

His name was not Perseus, but Gompachi, and he is supposed to have
lived no more than two hundred and fifty years ago--the hero of
this typical romance. He had the misfortune at the age of sixteen
to kill one of his relations in a quarrel about a dog, and was
obliged to flee for refuge to the capital. On his way to Yedo he
was roused at midnight from his bed at a wayside inn by a beautiful
girl, who warned him that a band of robbers, having stolen her
from her parents, intended to slay him and steal his sword before
daybreak. This was not Andromeda, but Komurasaki. As in duty bound,
the gallant _samurai_ cut down the whole band and restored their
captive to her father, a wealthy merchant, who, for his part, asked
nothing better than to marry his daughter to so dashing a youth.
But this would have been against all precedent. For Andromeda
to rescue Perseus and bestow on him the hand of a prospective
heiress would have been to reverse the _rôles_ in a most unbecoming
manner. Gompachi, therefore, setting ambition before love, pursued
his way to Yedo. There he fell into dissolute habits, and, some
years after, hearing much talk of a new beauty in Yoshiwara,
discovered her to be no other than Komurasaki. Her family had
fallen into dire poverty, and, to alleviate their sufferings, she
had become an inmate of the huge metropolitan pleasure-house. This
time Andromeda was in her proper place, the helpless victim of a
ruthless monster, but to strike off her manacles a golden sword
was needed, and this Perseus found it difficult to obtain. He
took to robbery, which again involved murder, for his own fortune
was far too meagre to allow of frequent meetings, far less of
redeeming his sweetheart. At last he was caught and beheaded as
a common malefactor, before he could compass his mission, and
Komurasaki, accomplishing her own salvation, stabbed herself to
death upon his tomb. If you should visit Meguro, about four miles
west of Tōkyō, when the peonies are in bloom, you will have no
trouble in ascertaining the position of their grave. It is called
_Hiyoku-zuka_ after the Hiyoku, “a fabulous double bird, which is
an emblem of constancy in love.”

Tragedies of this romantic character were very frequent in the Yedo
period, though they generally ended in _shinju_, the simultaneous
suicide of girl and guest, who thus hoped to enter on new life
together. In fact, so frequent were they in the Genroku and Shōtoku
eras (1688-1715), that the authorities tried to rob this death
of attraction by cruel indignities to the dead. The bodies were
exposed to view for three days on Nihon-bashi, hands and feet being
tied together. Then the _Eta_, social pariahs, wrapped them in
straw matting and cast them into a pit. It was thought that after
such a dog’s burial their ghosts would not return to haunt the
living, but it was customary to make their story into a song, which
would become a nine days’ pathos in Asakusa.

Not pathos but majesty is the dominating note of the Ukiyoye
painters’ homage to their Madonna. Easy to recognise by her
distinctive garb--the tall _coiffure_, transfixed with branching
pins, the reversed sash with satchel-like bow in front, the
high clogs of black lacquer--she is by far the most familiar
figure to Western eyes through the medium of plebeian art. Cheap
colour-prints, disseminated her image from Boston to Paris;
enthusiasts gave eager eye to her hieratic grace. Utamaro, who
openly lived in Yoshiwara, which he served with purse and brush,
was the first to win French homage through De Goncourt’s advocacy
for his stately mistresses of preternatural height. Daintier
and more human, but not less divine, the monochromatic ladies
of Moronobu, the green-and-rose ladies of Kiyonobu, the sirens
beloved of Kiyonaga, of Toyokuni, of Kunisada, followed one another
round the world, encircling it with a Circean spell. Banish their
portraits from the collector’s gallery, and you leave it bare of
three or four of the greatest names on the roll of Tōkyō artists.
On the other hand, you will more easily defend the Japanolater’s
thesis, that part of the superiority of Japanese over Occidental
art lies in its contempt for the “eternal feminine.”

It was Iyeyasu, the great organiser, who made it part of the
State’s business to centralise and control sporadic vice in the
capital. Before his time the “social evil,” as it is called, was
free to spread its virus where it might, to the hurt of private
and public weal. But one day, as the conqueror was returning from
the battle of Sekigahara and taking his lease in the tea-house of
Shoji Jinyemon, at Shinagawa, the proprietor, whose efforts to
please were seconded by eight red-aproned waitresses of unusual
beauty, so impressed the Shōgun with his talent for that kind of
management, that he was appointed _nanushi_, or director-in-chief,
of the Moto-Yoshiwara, founded in response to many petitions in
1618. Into this quarter, which either took its name from Yoshiwara,
a town on the Tokaido famed for the prettiness of its daughters,
or from its literal import, the “place of reeds,” being situated
in a marsh on the outskirts of Yedo, all the courtesans who had
infested various portions of the city were gathered, licensed,
and supervised. It at once became a little city in itself, wisely
and usefully administered, and, being burnt down fifty years
later, was replaced by the new or Shin-Yoshiwara, which remains
in most essentials to this day a copy of its predecessor. It was
divided into eight wards, each of which had responsible recorders,
whose duty was to keep order, to guard against fires, and report
suspicious characters to the police. Policemen stood at the gates,
and every guest was required to enter his name in a register,
though he might disguise it by changing the characters, if it were
phonetically correct. At one time Christians and gamblers were
forbidden to enter, while the _samurai_, or military retainer,
whose Roman discipline excluded visits to Capua, was provided
by the Amigasa tea-houses with a large braid hat to conceal his
features. Espionage, as always under the Tokugawa _régime_, was a
pronounced feature of this autonomous system, which was, and still
is, of immense service in the detection of crime, since ill-gotten
gains were generally disbursed in that locality, affording clues
to the identity of their possessor.

The organisation of each house, or _kashi-zashiki_, was elaborate
and peculiar. The master, or _teishu_, though compelled to live on
the premises, was seldom visible. His was the unseen hand which
directed and received. He engaged at least three _wakaimono_
(young fellows), supplied to him by a detective agency, of whom
the _banto_, or clerk, made purchases and kept accounts; the
_mise-ban_, or lady’s attendant, walked behind her with open
umbrella to avert sun or rain, when she passed in procession
through the main street, Naka-no-cho; the _nikai-ma-washi_, or
upper-storey man, looked to the lamps, the bedding, and other
details of domestic comfort. Beside these were messengers,
gardeners, bath-men, cooks, and night-watchman, who hailed the
advent of each nocturnal hour with noisy wooden clappers. The
staff of female assistants varied with the status of the house.
If the girls belonged to the highest class, called _taiyu_ or
_oiran_, to each was allotted two child attendants, _kamuro_,
whose dress must be of white bleached linen, decorated with a
pine-tree pattern and crossed on the left shoulder by a black cape
bearing in gold letters their mistress’s name. When these little
girls reached the age of fourteen, if their parents so wished it,
they became _furisode shinzo_, or _shinzo_ with flowing sleeves,
and, without altogether ceasing to be attendants, began to learn
the arts of singing, and arranging flowers and making tea. Yet a
third class of servants bore the name of _banshin_. These were
generally discharged _jōro_, who wore striped crape with a sash of
black satin, and had the right to refuse admission to any whose
respectability appeared doubtful. But the most powerful and most
unpopular person in the whole establishment was named _Yarité_, or
Spear-Hand. She was responsible for the behaviour of all under her
charge, and might administer corporal punishment. If a girl were
summoned before the local justice, it was she who escorted her and
answered the questions of the judge. Her room faced the top of
the staircase, and none could pass to the inner chambers without
propitiating the dragon on the threshold.

But to pass from the inner chambers to the world without the
Yoshiwara was rarely permitted to such closely guarded prisoners.
The prison might be known as the “House of the Myriad Flowers,” or
the “House of the Eight Banners,” or the “House of the Ten Thousand
Plums,” but it was none the less a prison. Not one of its inmates,
neither “Evening Mist,” nor “Filmy Cloud,” nor the “Face of
Evening,” could glide imperceptibly from its vigilant constraint.
If her parents were dangerously ill and lived not too far away,
a girl was sometimes allowed to visit them, being given a label,
which she must return at sunset. If she were ill herself, she might
consult a doctor outside the quarter; and all had the privilege of
going in a party to Mukōjima in the season of cherry-blossom. But
no other _exeat_ was accorded. A runaway was invariably caught, and
the expenses of capture were deducted from her subsequent earnings.
At the age of twenty-five she was sure of regaining her liberty.

It must not be supposed that the five years’ durance were years
of unrelieved servitude. As month followed month, the monotony
was broken by a round of kindly festivals. On New Year’s Day the
whole household was assembled by Spear-Hand to pay conventional
compliments to the master and mistress, who requited this courtesy
with handsome presents. Every _jōro_ received two dresses of silk
crape; every _shinzo_ two of pongee; every child attendant a dress
of white linen with pine-tree pattern. Branches of pine and bamboo
were suspended from the entrance, and above the lintels of the
door-posts flamed a scarlet lobster. On each associated tea-house
were bestowed _saké_ cups of _kiri_ wood, stamped with the donor’s
crest. At least three grand processions were held to celebrate
the planting of the flowers. In April, when cherry-blossom
was set before the tea-houses and along the main-street of
Naka-no-cho, the balconies were crowded with spectators, the
doorways hung with cherry-coloured curtains, as the stately line of
magnificently-attired beauties with their attendant children and
umbrella-bearers moved slowly on its way to the temple of Inari.
In June, when iris was planted, the heavily-wadded dresses were
laid aside, and lightly robed, like winged zephyrs, as though to
personify their names, “White Cloud,” and “A Thousand Springs,” and
“The Smell of the Plum Blossom” would pass with all their fanciful
_cortège_ through the sun-lit Place of Reeds.

      “It ver et Venus, et veris prænuntius ante
      Pennatus graditur Zephyrus, vestigia propter
      Flora quibus mater præspargens ante viaï
      Cuncta coloribus egregiis et odoribus opplet.”

October brought chrysanthemum and signalised the close of summer.
The imperial blossom soaked in _saké_ was eaten on the ninth day;
the big _hibachi_ were lit; the human butterflies took a last
flutter through the streets, their frail wings sheathed in velvet
and brocade against the winter.

Other festivals, more intimate than these, assuaged the rigour of
imprisonment. Though Inari had four temples in which to welcome
her votaries, other divinities, too, offered distraction and
consolation. When the evil spirits had been exorcised on the
fourteenth day of the first month, the field was clear to garner
divine favour. Ebisu, the jovial, pot-bellied god of good luck,
claimed his meed of fish and _saké_; the sacred monkey-dance
preceded the _fête_ of Inari; Tanabata, the star of happy
marriage, was warmly greeted with poems and fans and paper stars,
which budded on bamboo branches fastened to the door; the feast
of lanterns lasted a month, flooding the dark with radiance,
but on the evening sacred to the memory of ancestors no guests
were admitted, and the girls were free to hold communion with
those parental dead whose exigence pressed so hardly on their
flower-sweet heyday of life. Then O Tsuki San, the Lady Moon, must
be “looked at” on three successive nights, while persimmon, rice
dumplings, boiled beans, and chestnuts were set outside the house
on tiny tripods, to catch her auspicious rays. On the occasion of
the annual fire-incantation oranges were scattered about the garden
and scrambled for by children, and three weeks before the year
ended came the great cleaning, the preparation of rice-cakes and
countless emblems for New Year’s Day.

The observance of _oyaku_, when one of the little girls in waiting
became a Shinzo with flowing sleeves, involved much expense for the
_anejōro_ to whose service she had been attached. First _ohaguro_,
to blacken her teeth, was collected from seven friends; presents
were made of buckwheat and red beans and rice to the tea-houses
which they had visited together; a row of cooking vessels, filled
with steaming food, was covered with lengths of silk crape and
damask outside the house, while indoors a table was set out with
fans, tobacco-pouches, and embroidered towels for the geisha and
servants. For three days the newly promoted damsel would promenade
the Naka-no-cho, wearing on the first day a long red cloak, on
the second a purple cloak, on the third one of pale blue. The
coiffure also varied from day to day, and the total expense of this
ceremonious coming of age varied from twenty to forty pounds.

Occasionally it would happen that a guest fell in love with a girl
and wished to marry her. Such a consummation was the object of
many vows to Inari and the subject of many poems addressed to the
Star of the Weaver at the festival of Tanabata. If he could raise
the sum of 600 _ryo_ (about £60), the rest was easy. Debts had to
be paid, innumerable gifts conferred on patrons, companions, and
attendants, of whom farewell was taken at a great feast on the
day of departure. It requires much suffering and evil influence
to uproot from the heart of any Japanese woman the flowers of
gratitude and affection. If tradition may be credited, more than
one suitor who anticipated Aubrey Tanqueray’s experiment was
rewarded for his courage with a happier fate. When the heavy
black gate clanged behind her, happy indeed was the Scarlet Lady
to put off her state-robes and become the obscure angel of a
long-prayed-for benefactor. Sometimes she turned out badly. In that
case the husband had the right to send her back, wearing a gown of
penitential grey, to finish out her term in Yoshiwara.


II

How much colour had been washed out of the foregoing picture by
Western disapproval, filtering through merchants and missionaries,
I was curious to learn. To their credit or discredit be it said,
none of my Tōkyō friends cared to visit the Shin-Yoshiwara in
the company of an alien. They were not exactly hindered by moral
scruples, but rather by a disinclination to disclose the seamy
side of their fellow-countrymen to censorious eyes. They professed
ignorance and changed the subject to railways or ironclads.
However, one evening I met by chance the secretary of a famous
lawyer-politician, who was taking a country cousin to see the
sights of the capital; and, as he obligingly invited me to join the
party, we made our way together through the maze of variety-shows
and toy-shops which surround the Temple of Kwannon at Asakusa,
until we reached the high embankment of Nihon-tsutsumi.

As we stood on the great dyke in a whirr of hurrying rickshaws,
the country on the outer side stretched away into darkness, like
the waste tracks which border the northern exterior boulevards of
Paris. But at our feet, brilliant with light and clamorous with
_samisens_, lay a clustering mass of lofty buildings, their roofs
adorned with wooden seven-pronged rakes, which I had seen so often
in old prints and knew to be emblems of good luck, purchased in
November by pious traders from the priests of the Temple of the
Eagle.

We walked down the slope of Emonzaka (the hill of the collar),
which perhaps took its name from the habit of the Tōkyō blood
to adjust the _kimono_ collar in careful folds at the moment of
entry, and traversed Gojikken-machi, the street of fifty tea-houses
leading to the ponderous gate, where two dapper policemen, neatly
gloved and sworded, kept watch and ward. Now we are between
handsome edifices, four storeys high, adorned with balconies
and electric light, in the broad central Naka-no-cho, which
three narrow turnings intersect on either side, containing shops
of less imposing dimensions. The upper storeys tell no tales,
though their paper-panelled shutters give twinkling and tinkling
signs of revelry. On the ground-floor is an unbroken series of
shop-windows, not fronted with plate-glass as in Piccadilly nor
open to the street as in the Ginza, but palisaded with wooden bars
from three to seven inches wide. And behind the bars, on silk or
velvet cushions against a gaudy background of draped mirrors and
ornamental woodwork, sit the wares--a row of powdered, painted,
exquisitely upholstered victims. Most of them look happy enough,
as they chatter or smoke or run laughing to the barrier to greet
a passing acquaintance, but I know what heroic endurance is
masked by a Japanese smile, and the sight of caged women turns me
sick. Then I reflect that Western sentiment, however justified by
inherited ethics, is scarcely the best auxiliary of fair judgment,
so, striving to convert my conscience to a camera, I follow my
companions through the strange avenue of animated dolls. If they
were really dolls of cunning fabrication, how much more readily
could one inspect and appraise them! It seems that the most costly
are reserved for their own compatriots. An English painter was,
indeed, permitted to begin the portrait of one of these, but, when
he came back to finish his work, admittance was refused. It was
easy to believe that the inmates of the best houses were socially
superior to the rest, for those whom I saw had gentle, refined
faces, and did not raise their eyes from book or embroidery.

The least expensive dolls’ houses--they were of four grades--were
decorated in execrable taste, and the Circes who cried or beckoned
from their red-and-gilt dens had harsh voices and were of ungainly
build. But between these extremes were some groups of prettily
dressed exhibits, whose rich yet sober colouring harmonised
admirably with the vision of whatever artist had been invited to
decorate their show-room. There was the House of the Well of the
Long Blooming Flowers, which should have been isolated for sheer
loveliness from its flaunting neighbours. Behind the motionless
houri, whose bright black tresses and mauve _kimono_ were starred
with white flowers, ran a riot of branch and blossom on wall and
screen. Had Mohammed been Japanese, here was a tableau to win
believers with the lure of a sensual paradise, but for the fact
that, having realised so material a heaven on earth, the most
inquisitive nation in the world would have demanded less familiar
felicity. Beautiful, too, was the House of the Three Sea-shores,
whose triple tide of waveless blue seemed silently advancing
to reclaim the mermaid-daughters of Benten, who waited in such
pathetic patience on the beach for a new Urashima. My fancy
was most taken by the House of the Dragon Cape, for the ancient
ferocity of the saurian symbol, wrought in dusky bronze, not
only fascinated with its boldness of coil and curve, but hovered
with appropriate cruelty over the meek prisoners, coquettishly
disguised. By the time we arrived at the lair of the Dragon I
was thoroughly tired. We had been tramping and gazing for more
than an hour at nearly two thousand replicas of the same figure,
watching its movements and conjecturing its feelings. The cages
were beginning to empty, as the more attractive centre-pieces found
purchasers. I detected a certain impatience in my companions’
bearing, and I was on the point of taking leave of them when the
secretary suggested that, if I would like to enter the Dragon-house
and take notes of the interior, he would explain my mission to the
proprietor.

It was needful to release three damsels from the public gaze if
we would enter, and this we cheerfully did, bidding Young Bamboo,
Golden Harp, and River of Song escape to their chambers. Then,
leaving our shoes in charge of bowing attendants, we climbed to
the first floor and began the evening with a mild tea-party. The
Shinzo, in black dresses, brought in lacquer trays, on which were
scarlet bowls containing eggs, fish, soup, and other delicacies.
_Saké_ flowed more copiously than tea. I was sorry to hear that
the old-time processions were falling into disuse, and, though
not yet abandoned entirely, were losing their antique splendour.
The _taiyu_, too, was a thing of the past. The aureole of combs,
the manifold robe over robe, the child attendants, had all gone.
Varying now only in costume and accomplishment, all the women alike
were cage-dwellers, whereas in former days the superior classes of
them were spared that indignity. So far from evading questions, the
presiding representative of Spear-hand, an elderly woman with a not
unkindly face, seemed amused by my interest and answered readily.
I began to think we had made a mistake. This decorous tea-party,
removed from the glare and hustle of the street, bore small
resemblance to an orgy. But now and then wild incidents surged up
in the low ripple of current gossip. Six months before a fire had
broken out in Ageyamachi, consuming half an alley of too contiguous
wooden dwellings and costing twenty lives. Recently a brawl between
Russian sailors and Tōkyō students had fluttered all the dovecots
of Sami Cho, but had been speedily quenched by the fearless dapper
police.

A sound of thrumming from the floor above hinted that the next item
on the programme would be musical. We mounted and found ourselves
in presence of two geisha, Miss Wistaria and Miss Dolly, who had
been summoned by my cicerone while I was interrogating the Shinzo.
The status and performance of these geisha differ considerably
from those of their more respectable sisters, and Europeans, by
confusing the two, have no doubt helped to affix a stigma to the
whole class. Miss Dolly was no more than a child, and Miss Wistaria
looked about sixteen. Both songs and dances, without being vulgar,
were decidedly lax; and, as the songs were topical, I followed them
less easily than the dance, which might have been named after a
primitive Japanese goddess, “The Female who Invites.” Yet I must
confess that the indelicacy was not blatant, but redeemed by a coy
conscientiousness as of one who, half laughing, half shrinking,
complies with an inevitable command. After some forty minutes of
minstrelsy (my companions joining in the songs), the entertainment
concluded with a polite request to the “honourable stranger” to
return, and, handing us their cards--dainty cardlets, one inch
square, inscribed with tiny hieroglyphics--the performers returned
to the tea-house whence they had been hired.

At this moment Young Bamboo, Golden Harp, and River of Song, whom I
had completely forgotten, reappeared on the scene. They had changed
their scarlet robes for looser ones of white satin, and awaited
our pleasure. I explained to River of Song, whose intelligent
expression had influenced my choice, that if she would tell me her
story and describe her impressions of Yoshiwara life, her duties
would be at an end and her fee doubled. Entering readily into the
_rôle_ of Scheherazadé, she began by declaring that, though eagerly
awaiting the day of liberation, which was yet two years off, she
was not so unhappy as many of her companions. At first, when the
bell rang before the shrine at evening for a signal to enter the
cage (_mise_, “the shop,” she called it), the ordeal was both
long and painful. But time had assuaged this feeling, and she had
made many friends. Moreover, the Spear-hand of Dragon Cape had
taken a fancy to her and made her life easier. Then she recalled
her childhood. Her real name was Miss Mushroom (Matsutaké), and
her father had been a fisherman of Shinagawa. Ever since she
could remember, it had been her habit to patter bare-footed along
the beach and gather shellfish at low tide. But bad times drove
her parents into Tōkyō, where an uncle had a small shop in the
main street of Asakusa. On him they built their hopes, but his
business failed, her mother died, and at last the father, hoping
to make a fresh start by capitalising his daughter, sold her to
the house of the Dragon Cape. At this point I asked if I could see
the _nenki-shomon_, or certificate of sale, which would probably
be in the possession of Spear-hand. The River of Song hesitated,
not liking to ask, but I volunteered to accompany her, and we
finished the story in the actual sanctum of Spear-hand, whom I had
propitiated with coins and cigarettes.

The document (except in the matter of names) was thus worded:

  _Name of Girl_--Ito Matsutaké.

  _Age_--Eighteen years.

  _Dwelling-place_--Asakusa, Daimachi 18.

  _Father’s name_--Ito Nobuta.

  You, Minami Kakichi, proprietor of the House of the Dragon Cape,
  agree to take into your employ for five years the above named at
  a price of:--

  300 _yen_ (about £30).

  30 _yen_ (about £3) you retain as _mizukin_ (allowance for dress).

  270 _yen_ (about £27), the balance, I have received.

  I guarantee that the girl will not cause you trouble while in
  your employ.

  She is of the Monto sect, her temple being the Higashi Hongwanji
  in Asakusa.

  _Parent’s name_--Ito Nobuta.

  _Witness’s name_--Kimoto Nagao.

  _Landlord’s name_--Yamada Isoh.

  _Proprietor’s name_--Minami Kakichi.

  _Name of Kashi-zashiki_--House of the Dragon Cape.

It seemed to me that this certificate was story enough, with its
batch of red seals denoting the triple sanction of father, master,
and gods. Yet was it not better so? Hard as her fate might be,
these were regular sponsors of a legal profession. She was not
living in lonely defiance of public opinion and private remorse.
She would still be gentle, submissive, modest, until the lapse of
time should restore her liberty, unless the rascaldom that would
beset her pathway for five long years should coarsen and undo her
natural goodness. The Japanese used to boast that they were born
good; that only the Chinese, and such barbarians, require a code of
prohibitive clauses defining and forbidding sin. It is a charming
theory, and many foreigners have subscribed to it. It is certain
that if you deduct from Yoshiwara the heinousness which Western
moralists impute, a tangle of pros and cons would confuse the
Japanese conservative who knows anything of Western wickedness.
But, as I wavered to the sentimental side of Oriental legality,
seduced by the condoning circumstances of politeness and security,
I suddenly remembered that this city of pleasure was founded upon
a marsh, for all night long the frogs, like thousands of sinister
voices, sustained their croaking chorus, as if in ironic commentary
on the

                  “riddle that one shrinks
      To challenge from the scornful Sphinx.”


III

Whenever Tōkyō crushed a hope or destroyed an illusion, I
generally sought and sometimes found balm in Kyōto. There at
least historic beauty is not marred and violated at every turn by
modern innovation. The vulgar reality of the Shin-Yoshiwara had
effectually dissipated my preconception of it, romantically based
on book and picture. But, five months after the Asakusa frogs had
mocked at my disillusion, I was urged by a Japanese artist to
accompany him to Shimabara, about five miles out of Kyōto on the
way to Lake Biwa, where, he said, some few vestiges were yet to
be seen of the _oiran’s_ fading supremacy. Accordingly, having
telephoned from the city to the village (impossible to avoid
modernity!), which is happily omitted from the discreet pages
of Murray, we drove out on a cold October evening to the once
fashionable Tsumi-ya, a tea-house which figures in more than one
notorious novel. As we sat shivering on the mats of the large
fan-room, dimly lit by a single lamp, it was hard to realise what
famous revels had contributed to its renown. Yet the relics were
many and convincing. On the ceiling were painted the eight hundred
and eighty-eight fans by Tosa, each inscribed with the autograph of
a distinguished visitor, a poet or a daimyō, generally both. Hard
by was the pine-room, whose faintly pictured canopy of serpentine
boughs was the work of Kōrin. And, when the servants entered to
lay the preliminary meal, they wore the same red aprons and red
sleeve-cords as in the days when Iyeyasu was borne in his litter to
the gardens of Shoji Jinyemon.

It would seem that the routine of ambrosial nights does not greatly
vary in the land of perpetual etiquette. Having sipped rather than
supped, the dishes being light and fluid, we summoned the usual
geisha, but among them, as the artist had forewarned me, was one of
unusual distinction. O Wakatai San (her name was equivalent to “The
Honourable Young Person”) had long been the torture and despair
of susceptible visitors. Her father was a _samurai_, strict and
proud, who had trained her in a school of arbitrary virtue. Suitors
had been one and all rejected; even Lord W., offering bribes of
incredible amount, had gone empty away. She was losing her youth,
having reached the age of twenty-three, but her regular features
and sunny smile helped one to forget the rather raucous tones of
her voice. She had seen enough of the Shimabara life to pity its
victims, and sang us some rather sad ditties on the subject, of
which I transcribe two. The first refers to the prisoner’s longing
for liberty.


A WISH.

      Could I but live like
      Butterflies flitting,
      Settling together,
                Free, on the moor!

[Illustration: The _Taiyu_ waves her _saké_-cup.]

The other is a little difficult to render, since each line has
a double meaning: the point turns on the punning elasticity
of _mi_, a word signifying seed, self, and body. The flower to
which allusion is made, a yellow rose that blooms in mountainous
districts, is always known as the wanton’s flower.


THE WANTON’S FLOWER.

      The hill-girl’s body
      Is sold for silver:
      Poor, seedless hill-rose,
            A prison-flower!

Whatever novelists and dramatists may have written in glorification
of the Scarlet Lady, the popular feeling, as voiced in vulgar
songs, is pure compassion.

It was signified that on payment of a small sum we might now behold
a resurrected _taiyu_, wearing the robes and insignia of her
order. Assent being given, three blows were struck on a huge gong
at the gate to summon the siren, who had never been subjected to
the ignominious exposure of a cage, but came in state to meet her
suitors at the Tsumi-ya. Alas! the state had been sadly curtailed!
We saw no attendant henchmen, no ministering children, but three
rosy-cheeked peasant-girls rather suddenly irradiated the gloom
of that historic chamber, bearing without dignity the weight of a
bygone royalty. The costumes were, in truth, splendid enough, and
the crowns of heavy hairpins quite impressive. On the trailing robe
of the first was represented a cloud cleft by lightning above a
golden dragon; on that of the second, a rock with peonies; on that
of the third, a tiger chasing a butterfly. All three designs were
lavishly embroidered with gold. Sweeping her cumbrous skirt aside
with one hand, the _taiyu_ held in the other a wide _saké_-cup,
which she slowly waved in air, repeating an old Japanese formula,
which neither the artist nor the red-aproned _nakauri_ could
interpret. For nearly five hundred years the room of fans had seen
the _taiyu_ wave her _saké_-cup, had heard her use those words,
but we could not evoke from its shadowy depths the ghost of an
explanation. We must take the spectacle for what it was, the pale
survival and ineffectual remnant of dying custom. Somehow, the
awkward mummery of the girls and the bleak discomfort of the old
tea-house seemed strangely appropriate. It was as though we were
fitly rewarded for copying Dr. Faustus’ impious trick of calling
up fair phantoms from the past, not realising that communion is
impossible between living and dead....

The Scarlet Lady has not yet lost her hold on new Japan. The
“unruly wills and affections of sinful men” are too strong for
that. But she has lost her glamour. Poets do not sing of her,
painters withhold their homage, though she is represented by a
barrister in the Lower House of the Diet. For now she has become a
thing more sacrosanct than any vestal virgin--a vested interest.
She is exploited by numerous joint-stock companies, in which
shares are held by quite important people. Their aggregate capital
is enormous, their ability to block all reform, which might tend
to reduce profits, correspondingly great. The law is at once her
protector and her gaoler. If invoked to check cruelty, it must also
enforce the observance of contracts. All one can hope is that, so
long as custom shall recognise and government control her, at least
her outlook may not darken from red to black.



INDEX


I

PLAYS

  Aoi No Uye, 46, 50, 57

  Bataille de Dames, 82

  L’Enfant Prodigue, 65

  The Fisher-boy of Urashima, 75

  Fukuro Yamabusshi, 46, 56

  Funa Benkei, 46, 54

  The Geisha, 61

  The Geisha and the Knight, 70

  Gompachi and Komurasaki, 282

  The Green-eyed Monster, 266

  Hamlet, 85

  Ichi-no-tani Futaba-gunki, 76

  Jiraiya, 264

  Kagamiyama-Kokyo-no-nishiki, 81

  Kajima Takanori (The Loyalist), 68

  Kajincho, 265

  Kasuga no Tsubone, 86

  Kitsune-Tsuki, 46, 48

  Koi no Omoni, 46, 49

  Madame Butterfly, 64

  Maki no Kata, 85

  The Merry Wives of Windsor, 188

  The Mikado, 61

  Miracle Plays, 57

  Le Monde où l’on s’ennuie, 84

  Monte Cristo, 84

  The Moonlight Blossom, 63

  The Nabeshima Cat, 81

  Nakamitsu, 76

  Niobe, 68

  Othello, 85

  Our Boys, 80

  Pistorigoto, 117

  La Poupée, 68

  Roku Jizō, 46, 52

  Round the World in Eighty Days, 67, 84

  Shimazomasa, 116

  Shunkwan, 46

  Sweet Lavender, 80

  The Tongue-cut Sparrow, 75

  Les Trois Mousquetaires, 84

  Tsuchigumo, 46, 55

  Zaza, 64

  Zingoro, an Earnest Statue Carver, 68


II

PERSONS

  Adams (Will), 18

  Alcock (Sir Rutherford), 18

  Archer (William), 206

  Asada (Lieutenant), 79

  Aston (W. G.), 14, 85, 144


  Belasco (David), 64

  Benkei, 54, 265

  Bernhardt (Madame Sara), 93

  Binzura, 226

  Browning (Robert), 127, 140

  Bruant (Aristide), 123

  Buddha and Buddhism, 23, 25, 35, 42, 52, 57, 71, 78, 82, 112, 114,
        116, 139, 155, 160, 175, 184, 190, 195, 225


  Campbell (Mrs. Patrick), 93

  Chamberlain (B. H.), 8, 12, 25, 121, 127

  Chevalier (Albert), 123

  Chikamatsu, 58, 72

  Confucius, 80, 154, 240, 279


  Danjuro (Ichikawa), 66, 73, 82, 93

  Diosy (Arthur), 62


  Fenollosa (Ernest), 237

  Fernald (A.), 64

  France (Anatole), 228

  Fukai (T.), 4

  Fukuchi (Mr.), 85, 97, 263

  Fukuzawa (Y.), 13


  Gautier (Théophile), 122, 237

  Gilbert (W. S.), 61

  Godaijo (Emperor), 69

  Greene (Robert), 72

  Guilbert (Mademoiselle Yvette), 123


  Hall (Owen), 61

  Hayashi (Mr.), 27

  Hearn (Lafcadio), 7, 18, 189

  Hidari Jingoro, 68, 111

  Hideyoshi (Taikō), 43, 72, 86, 109, 243

  Hiroshigi, 105, 228

  Hokusai, 140, 143, 198, 228, 255


  Ibsen (Henrik), 46, 88

  Ikkiu, 42

  Inari (goddess), 48, 52, 71, 162, 276, 288

  Inonyé (Count), 270

  Ito (Marquis), 12, 29

  Iyeyasu, 43, 75, 86, 110, 279, 284, 300


  Jishō, 280

  Jizō, 52, 162, 167


  Kawakami (Otojiro), 65, 84

  Keiki (Tokugawa), 44

  Keion, 220

  Kent (Horace Robert), 33

  Kesiki, 280

  Kintaro, 56

  Kidōen, 280

  Kitsune, 46, 48, 249

  Kiyomori, 46

  Kiyotsugu, 41

  Kogyo (Mr.), 43

  Komatsu Tenno (Emperor), 277

  Konosuke Koyama, M.P., 34

  Kōrin, 210, 300

  Kuroda (Marquis), 66

  Kwannon (goddess), 52, 185, 257


  Loti (Pierre), 3, 48, 64, 211


  Marlowe (Christopher), 72

  Millard (Miss Evelyn), 65

  Mitford (A. B.), ii, 81

  Matsumoto Keichi, 43

  Mori (Viscount), 79

  Motokiyo, 41, 49

  Motoöri, 105, 126


  Nagoya Sanza, 72


  Okuma (Count), 27, 29, 79

  Okuni, 72

  Osada (Mr.), 84, 266

  Ota Nobunaga, 42


  Ransome (Stafford), 9


  Saikaku, 280

  Schroeder (F.), 32

  Scott (Clement), 88, 269

  Shakespeare, 4, 58, 73, 74, 88

  Shaw (George Bernard), 206

  Shiuran, 42

  Shizuka, 54

  Shoji Jinzemon, 285

  Shotoku Taishi, 190

  Soga, 278

  Swinburne (A. C.), 122, 129


  Takao, 278

  Takeda Izumo, 73

  Tanabata (The Weaver), 173, 290

  Tennyson (Lord), 122, 129, 139

  Tora Gozen, 278

  Tosa, 299

  Toyomatsu (Umeseko), 33

  Tsuboüchi (Yūzō), 85


  Ukiyoye (Painters), 140, 284

  Umewaka (Mr.), 44

  Utamaro, 143, 284


  Verhaeren (Emile), 210, 275


  Watazumi-no-Mikoto, 223


  Yacco (Madame Sada), 65, 267

  Yano (Fumiō), 156

  Yoritomo, 54, 278

  Yoshitsune, 54, 154

  Yuko Hatakeyama, 79


III

PLACES

  Akakura, 180

  Asama-yama, 179, 222

  Ashikaga, 238


  Blackfriars, 72


  Chester, 57


  Dango-zaka, 258

  Dan-no-ura, 55, 277

  Dōgō, 200

  Dōshisha, 15


  Fuji-yama, 3, 70, 141


  Gōjō Bridge (Kyōto), 54, 265


  Haruna, 165

  Hiei-zan, 42

  Hiroshima, 195, 245, 277

  Hommonji, 164


  Ikao, 149

  In and Sea, 191

  Ishinomaki, 213

  Izumo, 72, 242


  Kamakura, 54

  Karuizawa, 179

  Kikai-gashima, 46

  Kinkwa-zan, 215

  Kintaikyō (Bridge), 200

  Kiyomizu, 257

  Kōbe, 5, 12, 77, 206

  Kose, 222

  Kure, 194

  Kyōtō, 35, 47, 50, 72, 93, 104, 106, 237, 279


  Liaotung (Peninsula), 80


  Matsuë, 243

  Matsushima, 212

  Matsuyama, 204

  Meguro, 283

  Mi Hashi (Nikkō), 188

  Miyajima, 195

  Moscow, 110, 115, 237

  Mukōjima, 104, 287


  Naoetsu, 185

  Nara, 40, 168, 278

  Nogiri (Lake), 183

  Notting Hill, 66


  Omuro Gosho, 114

  Onomichi, 193

  Ōsaka, 26, 73, 109, 189, 245, 268


  Sendai, 211, 278

  Sengakuji, 78

  Sen-yūji, 188

  Shiba, 104, 147

  Shimabara, 299

  Shimonoseki, 44, 278

  Shinagawa, 285

  Shiogama, 278

  Sugamo, 13, 35

  Suruga-dai, 13


  Takata, 183

  Tōkyō, 67, 76, 83, 93, 168

  Tsuruga, 116


  Uji Bridge, 113


  Yokohama, 8, 12, 32, 35

  Yoshino, 105

  Yoshiwara, 70, 283, 291

  Yume no Uki-hashi, 188


  Zenkōi (Nagano), 224



  TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE

  Obvious typographical errors and punctuation errors have been
  corrected after careful comparison with other occurrences within
  the text and consultation of external sources.

  Except for those changes noted below, all misspellings in the text,
  and inconsistent or archaic usage, have been retained. For example,
  lay preacher, lay-preacher; lifelong, life-long; plaistered; lotos;
  anecdotic; engraven; whirr; lakelet; lupinar; choregraphic.

  Pg 18: ‘not a all sure’ replaced by ‘not at all sure’.
  Pg 23: ‘seem to English’ replaced by ‘seems to English’.
  Pg 48: ‘like the weir-wolf’ replaced by ‘like the werewolf’.
  Pg 51: ‘Princess Rokijo, who’ replaced by ‘Princess Rokujo, who’.
  Pg 225: ‘upto the main’ replaced by ‘up to the main’.
  Pg 265: ‘patriotism. Perhap’ replaced by ‘patriotism. Perhaps’.

  Index:
  Hiroshige replaced by Hiroshigi.
  Inouye replaced by Inonyé.
  Kagamigama- replaced by Kagamiyama-.
  Kiyomidzu replaced by Kiyomizu.
  O Kuni replaced by Okuni.
  Schröder replaced by Schroeder.
  Shotuku replaced by Shotoku.
  Takaba replaced by Takata.
  Wazumi- replaced by Watazumi-.





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