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Title: Mysterious Japan
Author: Street, Julian
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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    [Illustration: Calligraphy that translates as "Mysterious Japan"]

      *      *      *      *      *      *

                        _Books by Julian Street_





            (_A close-range study of Theodore Roosevelt_)

        PARIS à LA CARTE



            (_For Children_)

        SUNBEAMS, INC.


      *      *      *      *      *      *

    [Illustration: Photo. by Marguerite Leonard
    At the top of the temple steps, above Lake Biwa]




    [Illustration: Publisher's logo]

With Illustrations from Photographs
by the Author and Others

Garden City, N. Y., and Toronto
Doubleday, Page & Company

Copyright, 1921, by
Julian Street
All Rights Reserved, Including That of Translation
into Foreign Languages, Including the Scandinavian

Copyright, 1920, 1921, by McClure's Magazine, Incorporated
All Rights Reserved

Copyright, 1921, by the Century Company, the Outlook Company,
P. F. Collier & Son Company, and the New York Times

Printed at Garden City, N. Y., U. S. A.

First Edition

                           FRANK A. VANDERLIP

                    "_To see once is better than
                      to hear a hundred times_"



                                 PART I

  CHAPTER                                                       PAGE


      II. THE ROAD TO TOKYO  .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .    16

     III. THE CAPITAL AND COSTUMES   .   .   .   .   .   .   .    26

      IV. EARTHQUAKES AND BURGLARS   .   .   .   .   .   .   .    38

       V. INVERSIONS AND THE ORIENTAL MIND   .   .   .   .   .    48

      VI. THE ISLES OF COMPLEXITIES  .   .   .   .   .   .   .    63

                                PART II

     VII. THE GENTLEST OF THE GENTLER SEX    .   .   .   .   .    81

    VIII. MORE ABOUT WOMEN   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .    93

      IX. THE NATIONAL SPORT     .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   103

       X. ON SAKé AND ITS EFFECTS    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   115

      XI. DIET AND DANCING   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   127

     XII. GEISHA PARTIES     .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   137

    XIII. THE NIGHTLESS CITY     .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   154

     XIV. IN A GARDEN    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   163

      XV. AN EXPLOSIVE PHILOSOPHER   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   172

                                PART III

     XVI. GRAND OLD MEN  .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   183



     XIX. ARE THE JAPANESE EFFICIENT?    .   .   .   .   .   .   228

      XX. JAPANESE-AMERICAN RELATIONS    .   .   .   .   .   .   242

     XXI. COURTESY AND DIPLOMACY     .   .   .   .   .   .   .   258

                                PART IV

    XXII. A RURAL RAILROAD   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   273

   XXIII. ADVENTURES IN A BATH AT KAMOGAWA   .   .   .   .   .   284

    XXIV. A NIGHT AT AN INN  .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   295

     XXV. PRETTY GEN TAJIMA  .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   306

    XXVI.   SUPERSTITIONS AND YUKI'S EYES    .   .   .   .   .   315

   XXVII.  "JAPANNED ENGLISH" AND ART    .   .   .   .   .   .   321

  XXVIII.  SAYONARA  .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   335

                         LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

    At the top of the temple steps, above Lake Biwa   _Frontispiece_

                                                         FACING PAGE

    Peasants of the region speak of Fuji as _O Yama_,
    the "Honourable Mountain"    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .     6

    With his drum and his monkey he is Japan's
    nearest equivalent for our old-style organ-grinder   .   .    22

    The Japanese is not a slave to his possessions   .   .   .    38

    Sawing and planing are accomplished with a pulling instead
    of a driving motion      .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .    38

    The bath of the proletariat consists of a large barrel   .    54

    While Yuki's fortune was being told I photographed her   .    70

    You cannot understand Japan without understanding the
    Japanese woman   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .    86

    A laundry on the river's brim    .   .   .   .   .   .   .    94

    Digging clams at low-tide in Tokyo Bay   .   .   .   .   .    94

    Cocoons--Five thousand silk worms make one kimono    .   .   118

    No one without a sweet nature could smile the smile of one
    of these tea-house maids     .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   118

    Family luncheon à la Japonaise   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   134

    Kimi-chiyo was at almost every Japanese-style party
    I attended   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   154

    It takes two hours to do a geisha's hair     .   .   .   .   162

    Mrs. Charles Burnett in a 15th-Century Japanese
    Court costume    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   170

    A teahouse garden, Tokyo     .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   178

    Viscount Shibusawa   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   190

    Viscount Kentaro Kaneko  .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   190

    The film was not large enough to hold the family of this
    youngish fisherman at Nabuto     .   .   .   .   .   .   .   214

    Tai-no-ura   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   230

    The theatre street in Kyoto is one of the most interesting
    highways in the world    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   246

    The gates of the Tanjo-ji temple     .   .   .   .   .   .   246

    Nor could a _grande dame_ in an opera box have exhibited
    more aplomb  .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   262

    Pretty Gen was between the shafts    .   .   .   .   .   .   278

    The middle-aged coolie hurriedly seated him on the bank  .   294

    Asakusa, the great popular temple of Tokyo   .   .   .   .   310

    Saki, the housekeeper, obligingly posed for me   .   .   .   326

                                 PART I

                            MYSTERIOUS JAPAN

    Far lie the Isles of Mystery,
        With never a port between;
    Green on the yellow of Asia's breast,
        Like a necklace of tourmaline.

                               CHAPTER I

    _A Day Goes Overboard--A Sunday Schism--A Desert Island--Water,
    Water Everywhere--Men with Tails--Anecdotes of the Emperor of
    Korea--Korean Reforms--Cured by Brigands--The Man who Went to
    Florida--The Black Current--White Cliffs and Coloured
    Sails--Fuji Ahoy!_

A peculiar ocean, the Pacific. A large and lonely ocean with few ships
and many rutty spots that need mending. Ploughing westward over its
restless surface for a week, you come to the place where East meets West
with a bump that dislocates the calendar. It is as though a date-pad in
your hand were knocked to pieces and the days distributed about the
deck. You pick them up and reassemble them, but one is missing. Poor
little lost day! It became entangled with the 180th meridian and was
dragged overboard never to be seen again.

With us, aboard the admirable _Kashima Maru_, the lost day happened to
be Sunday, which caused a schism on the ship. In the smokeroom, where
poker was a daily pastime, resignation was expressed, the impression
being that with the lost day went the customary Sunday services. But in
reaching this conclusion the smokeroom group had failed to reckon with
the fact that missionaries were aboard. The missionaries held a hasty
conference in the social hall, and ignoring the irreverent pranks of
longitude and time, announced a service for the day that followed
Saturday. Upon this a counter-conference was held around the poker
table, whereat were reached the following conclusions:

That aboard ship the captain's will is, and of a right ought to be,
absolute; that the captain had pronounced the day Monday; that in the
eyes of this law-abiding though poker-playing group, it therefore _was_
Monday; that the proposal to hold church services on Monday constituted
an attempt upon the part of certain passengers to set their will above
that of the captain; that such action was, in the opinion of the
smokeroom group, subversive to the ship's discipline, if indeed it did
not constitute actual mutiny on the high seas; that members of this
group could not, therefore, be party to the action proposed; that, upon
the contrary, they deemed it their clear duty in this crisis to stand
back of the captain; and finally, that in pursuance of this duty they
should and would remain in the smokeroom throughout the entire day,
carrying on their regular Monday game, even though others might see fit
to carry on their regular Sunday game elsewhere in the vessel.

                   *       *       *       *       *

Had this been the Atlantic crossing we should by now have landed on the
other side; yet here we were, pitching upon a cold gray waste a few
miles south of Behring Sea, with Yokohama a full week away.

Yet land--land of a kind--was not so distant as I had imagined. Early
one morning in the middle of the voyage my steward, Sugimoto, came to my
cabin and woke me up to see it. (A splendid fellow, Sugimoto; short and
round of body, with flesh solid and resilient as a hard rubber ball, and
a circular sweet face that Raphael might have painted for a cherub, had
Raphael been Japanese.)

"Good morning, gentleman," said he. "Gentleman look porthole, he see

I arose and looked.

A flounce of foam a mile or two away across the water edged the skirt of
a dark mountain jutting abruptly from the sea. Through a mist, like a
half-raised curtain of gray gauze, I saw a wintry peak from which long
tongues of snow trailed downward, marking seams and gorges. It was, in
short, just such an island as is discovered in the nick of time by a
shipwrecked whaler who, famished and freezing in an open boat, has
drifted for days through the storm-tossed pages of a sea story. He would
land in a sheltered cove and would quickly discover a spring and a cave.
He would devise a skilful means of killing seals, would dress himself in
their skins, and subsist upon their meat--preceded by the customary clam
and fish courses. For three years he would live upon the island,
believing himself alone. Then suddenly would come to him the knowledge
that life in this place was no longer safe. About the entrance to his
cave he would find the tracks of a predatory animal--fresh prints of
French heels in the snow!

Austere though the island looked, my heart warmed at the sight of it;
for there is no land so miserable that it is not to be preferred above
the sea. Moreover I saw in this land a harbinger. The Empire of Japan, I
knew, consisted of several large islands--to the chief one of which we
were bound--and some four thousand smaller ones stretching out in a vast
chain. This island, then, must be the first one of the chain. From now
on we would no doubt be passing islands every little while. The
remainder of the voyage would be like a trip down the St. Lawrence

Soothed and encouraged by this pleasant thought, and wishing always to
remember this outpost of the Island Empire, I asked its name of

"That Araska, gentleman," he answered.

"Are you glad to see Japan again, Sugimoto?"

"That Araska," he repeated.

"Yes. A part of Japan, isn't it?"

Sugimoto shook his head.

"No, gentleman. Araska American land."

"That island belongs to the United States?"

"Yes, gentleman. That Araska."

I had never heard of an island of that name. Surely Sugimoto was
mistaken in thinking it an American possession.

"Could you show it to me on the map?" I asked.

From my dresser he took a folder of the steamship company and opening to
a map of the Pacific, pointed to one of many little dots. "Aleutian
Islands," they were marked. They dangled far, far out from the end of
that peninsula which resembles a long tongue hanging from the mouth of a
dog, the head of which is rudely suggested by the cartographic outlines
of our northernmost territory. We had sailed directly away from our
native land for a week, only to find ourselves, at the end of that time,
still in sight of its outskirts. Like many another of his fellow
countrymen, good Sugimoto had difficulties with his _l_'s and _r_'s. He
had been trying to inform me that the island--the name of which proved
to be Amatisnok--belonged to Alaska.

I began to study the map and look up statistics concerning the Pacific
Ocean. It was a great mistake. It is not pleasant to discover that three
quarters of the world is worse than wasted, being entirely given over to
salt water. Nor is it pleasant to discover, when far out on the Pacific,
that more than a third of the surface of the earth is taken up by this
one ocean. Any thought of getting General Goethals to remedy this matter
by filling up the Pacific is, moreover, hopeless, for all the land in
the world, if spread over the Pacific's surface, would only make an
island surrounded by twenty million square miles of sea.

Feeling depressed over these facts I now began to look for points of
merit; for we are told to try to find the good in everything, and though
I fear I pay but scant attention to this canon when in my normal state
ashore, at sea I become another man.

On land I have a childish feeling that the Creator has not time to pay
attention to me, having so many other people to look after; but a ship
far out at sea is a conspicuous object. I feel that it must catch His
eye. I feel Him looking at me. And though I hope He likes me, I see no
special reason why He should. I am so full of faults, so critical, so
prejudiced. Consider, for instance, the way I used to go on about
President Wilson and Josephus Daniels and W. J. Bryan. I am afraid that
was very wrong in me. Instead of studying their failings I should have
remedied my own. I should have given more to charity. I should have been
more gentle in expressing my opinions. I should have written often to my
sister, who so enjoys getting letters from me. I should have looked for
good in everything.

Immediately I begin to run about the ship looking for it. And lo! I find
it. The ship is comfortable. It seems to be designed to stay on top of
the water. The table is beyond criticism. The passengers are
interesting. The very vastness of this ocean tends to make them so.
Instead of being all of a pattern, as would be one's fellow passengers
on an Atlantic liner, they are a heterogeneous lot, familiar with
strange corners of the globe and full of curious tales and bits of
information. Instead of talking always of hotels in London, Paris,
Venice, Rome and Naples, they speak familiarly of Seoul, Shanghai,
Peking, Hongkong, Saigon and Singapore. And amongst them are a few
having intimate acquaintance with islands and cities so remote that
their names sing in the ears like fantastic songs. Fragrant names. The
Celebes and Samarkand!

There was a little Englishman who hunted butterflies for a museum. He
told me of great spiders as big as your two hands, that build their webs
between the trees in the jungles of Borneo--I think he said Borneo. But
whatever the name of the place, he found there natives having tails from
two to four inches long--I think he said two to four inches. But
whatever the length of the tails, he had photographs to prove that tails
there were. The latest theory of man's evolution, he told me, is not the
theory of Darwin, but holds that there existed long ago an intermediary
creature between man and ape, from which both are derived--the ape
having, I take it, evolved upward into the treetops, while man evolved
downward--down, down, down, until at last came jazz and Lenine and

Another man had lived for years in Korea. In the old days before it was
taken over by Japan, he said, it was a perfect comic-opera country with
the Emperor as chief comedian. He knew and liked the Emperor, and told
me funny stories about him. Once when His Majesty's teeth required
filling the work had to wait until the American dentist in Seoul could
have a set of instruments made of gold, that being the only metal
permitted within the sacred confines of the Imperial mouth.

The concession to build an electric street railway in Seoul was given to
Americans on the understanding that they should import motormen from the
United States and that these should be held in readiness to fly to the
Emperor's aid in case of trouble. A private wire connected the Imperial
bedchamber with that of the manager of the street-car company, so that
the latter might be quickly notified if help was needed. For more than a
year the wire stood unused, but at last late one night the bell rang.
The manager leaped from his bed and rushed to the special telephone. But
it was not a revolution. The Emperor had just heard about a certain
office building in New York and wished to know if it had, in fact, as
many stories as had been reported to him.

In his fear of revolution or invasion the Emperor built a palace
adjoining the American legation. And when, as happened now and then,
there came a _coup d'état_, threatening his personal safety, he would
get a ladder and climb over the wall separating the back yard of the
palace from that of the American minister. This occurring frequently, so
embarrassed the latter, that in order to put an end to His Majesty's
habit of informal calling, he caused the top of the wall to be covered
with inhospitable broken glass.

Up to the time of the annexation of Korea by Japan, my informant said,
the Koreans were entirely without patriotism, but the Japanese so
oppressed them that a strong national feeling was engendered after it
was too late. That the Japanese had been harsh and brutal in Korea, he
said, was indisputable, but this was the work of militarists, and was
contrary to the will of the people of Japan who, when they learned what
had been going on, protested with such violence that newspapers had to
be suppressed in Japanese cities, and there was clubbing of rioters in
the streets by the police. This caused immediate reform in Korea. The
brutal Governor General was recalled and was replaced by Admiral Baron
Saito, a humane and enlightened statesman who has earnestly striven to
improve conditions, with the result that Koreans are to-day being better
educated and better governed than they have been within the memory of
man. Also they are prospering. First steps are now being taken toward
allowing them to participate in their own government, and if conditions
seem to justify the extension of their privileges, it is hoped that they
may ultimately have home rule.

From another passenger I got a story about an American who was captured
by brigands in China. The victim was a civil engineer, very skilful at
laying out railroad lines. The American International Corporation wished
to send him to China to plan a railroad, but he demurred because he was
in bad health. Finally, on being pressed by the company, he consented to
go if his private physician was sent with him. This was agreed to.

In China brigands caught the civil engineer but not the doctor. They
kept him for a long time. He was taken from place to place over the
roughest country, walking all night, sleeping by day in damp caves,
eating coarse and insufficient food. At last he was released. He
returned in rugged health. The life of the brigand was just the thing
that he had needed.

"Out here on the seas, without home newspapers," one thoughtful
traveller remarked to me, "we lose touch with the world and never quite
make up all that we have lost. When we land we hear about some of the
things that have happened, but there are minor events of which we never
hear, or of which the news comes to us long after, as a great surprise.
I recall one example from my own experience.

"In the New England town in which I live there was a banker, a prominent
old citizen with a reputation for being very close, and none too
scrupulous in the means he sometimes took for making money.

"It had for years been his habit to go every winter to Florida, but his
daughter, who kept house for him, liked the northern winter and remained
at home.

"Some years ago, while I was in the Far East, this old man died, but I
was gone for a long time and heard nothing of it. When I got back it was
winter. One day I met the daughter and stopped to speak to her. It was
snowing and a cold wind was whistling down the street. We had been
having trouble with the furnace at our house and my mind was full of
that. So when I met her I said:

"'One good thing--on a day like this you don't have to worry about your
father. Furnaces don't get out of order down there where he is.'

"Now, when I am away, I have the newspapers saved, and on my return I
read them all if it takes me a whole week."

                   *       *       *       *       *

Somewhere in those seas that lie between the islands of Formosa and
Luzon there arises a wide tepid current, known as the Black Current
which, flowing northward, tempers the climate of Hondo, the main island
of Japan. "To this beneficent stream," remarks the guidebook, "the
shores of Nippon owe their luxuriant greenness."

As we crossed the Black Current a certain greenness likewise was
revealed upon my countenance. I did not find the stream beneficent at
all. It was only about two hundred miles wide, however, and by morning
the worst of it was past. I came on deck to find the _Kashima Maru_
riding like a placid bulky water-fowl upon a friendly sunlit sea. And
far away on the horizon lay a streak of mist that was Japan.

In an hour or two the mist attained more substance. It was like a
coloured lantern-slide coming slowly into focus. Someone showed me a
white dot upon the shadow of a hill and said it was a lighthouse, and
some one else discerned a village in a little smudge of buff where land
and water met. Gulls were circling around us--gulls with dark serrated
margins to their wings; smaller than those we had seen on Puget Sound.
Foreign gulls!

Since leaving Victoria we had sighted only one ship, but now an unladen
freighter, pointing high and showing a broad strip of red underbody,
reeled by like a gay drunkard, and was no sooner gone astern than we
picked up on the other bow a wallowing stubby caravel with a high-tilted
poop like that of the _Santa Maria_--a vessel such as I had never
dreamed of seeing asail in sober earnest. And she was hardly gone when
we overhauled a little fleet of fishing boats having the lovely colour
of unpainted wood, and the slender graceful lines of viking ships. All
of them but one carried a square white sail on either mast, but that one
had three masts and three sails, two of which were yellow, while the
third was of a tender faded indigo. It promised things, that boat with
coloured sails!

Distant white cliffs, tall and ghostly like those of Dover, brought
memories of another island kingdom, far away through the cheek of the
world, whose citizens were at this moment sleeping their midnight
sleep--_last night_. Presently the white cliffs vanished, giving place
to a wall of hills with conical tops and bright green sides splattered
with blue-green patches of pine woods. And when I saw the brushwork on
those wrinkled cone-shaped hills, so unlike any other hills that I had
seen, I knew that Hokusai and Hiroshige, far from being merely
decorative artists, had "painted nature as they saw it."

The villages along the shore could now be seen more plainly--rows of
one-story houses taking their colour from the yellow wood of which they
were constructed, and the yellow thatch of their roofs, both tempered by
the elements.

Then, as I was looking at a village on a promontory reaching out to meet
us, some one cried:

"Fuji! Come and look at Fujiyama!" and I ran forward and gazed with
straining eyes across the sea and the hilltops to where, shimmering
white in the far-off sky, there hung--was it indeed the famous
fan-shaped cone, or only a luminous patch of cloud? Or was it anything
at all?

"Where's Fuji?"

"Right there. Don't you see?"

"No. Yes, now I think----"

"It's gone. No! There it is again!"

So must the chorus ever go. For Fuji, most beautiful of mountains, is
also the most elusive. Later, in Tokyo, when some one called me to come
and see it, it disappeared while I was on the way upstairs.

Splendid as Vesuvius appears when she floats in opalescent mist above
the Bay of Naples with her smoke plume lowering above her, she is, by
comparison with Fuji, but a tawny little ruffian. Vesuvius rises four
thousand feet while Fuji stands three times as high. And although the
top of Pike's Peak is higher than the sacred mountain of Japan by some
two thousand feet, the former, starting from a plain one mile above
sea-level, has an immense handicap, whereas the latter starts at
"scratch." Thus it comes about that when you look at Pike's Peak from
the plains what you actually see is a mountain rising nine thousand
feet; whereas when you look at Fuji from the sea the whole of its twelve
thousand and more feet is visible.

Aside from Fuji's size, the things which make it more beautiful than
Vesuvius are the perfection of its contour, the snow upon its cone, and
the atmospheric quality of Japan--that source of so much disappointment
to snapshotting travellers who time their pictures as they would at

A Japanese friend on the ship told me that though Fuji had been
quiescent for considerably longer than a century there was heat enough
in some of its steaming fissures to permit eggs to be boiled. Eighteen
or twenty thousand persons make the climb each year, he said, and some
devout women of seventy years and over struggle slowly up the slope,
taking a week or more to the ascent, which is made by able-bodied men in
half a day or less.

Peasants of the region speak of Fuji not by name but merely as _O Yama_,
"the Honourable Mountain," but my Japanese friend added that though the
honorific _O_, used so much by his countrymen, was translated literally
into English as "honourable," it did not have, in the Japanese ear, any
such elaborate and ponderous value, but was spoken automatically and
often only for the sake of cadence.

    [Illustration: Peasants of the region speak of Fuji not by name
    but merely as _O Yama_, the "Honourable Mountain"]

"We say _O_ without thinking," he explained, "just as you begin with
'dear sir,' in writing to a stranger who is not dear to you at all."

For Fuji, however, I like the full English polysyllabic of respect.
It is indeed an "honourable mountain." The great volcanic cone
hanging, as it sometimes seems, in thin blue air, has an ethereal
look suggesting purity and spirituality, so that it is not
difficult for the beholder from another land to sense its quality
of sacredness, and to perceive its fitness to be the abiding
place of that beautiful goddess whose Japanese name means

"There are two kinds of fools," says a Japanese proverb: "--those who
have never ascended Fuji and those who have ascended twice." To this
category I would add a third kind of fool, the greatest of them all: the
fool who fails to appreciate the spectacle of Fuji. A creature who would
be disappointed in Fuji would be disappointed in any spectacle, however
grand--be it the Grand Cañon, the Grand Canal, or the Grand Central

                               CHAPTER II

    _The Pier at Yokohama--The Flower-People--A Celestial
    Suburb--French Cooking and Frock Coats--From a Car-Window--Elfin
    Gardens--"The Land of Little Children"_

The satisfying thing about Japan is that it always looks exactly like
Japan. It could not possibly be any other place. The gulls are Japanese
gulls, the hills are Japanese hills, Tokyo Bay is a Japanese bay, and if
the steamers anchored off the port of Yokohama are not all of them
Japanese, many of them have, at least, an exotic look, with their
preposterously fat red funnels or their slender blue ones. Even the
little launches from which the port authorities board you as you lie in
the harbour are not quite like the launches seen elsewhere, and though
the great stone pier, to which at last you are warped in, might of
itself fit the picture of a British seaport, the women and children
waiting on the pier, trotting along beside the ship as she moves slowly
to her berth, waving and smiling up at friends on deck, are costumed in
inevitable suggestion of great brilliant flower-gardens agitated by the
wind. Amongst these women and children in their bright draperies, the
dingy European dress of the male is almost lost, so that, for all its
pantaloons and derby hats, Japan is still Japan.

Through this garden of chattering, laughing, fluttering human flowers we
made our way to--score one for New Japan--a limousine, and in this
vehicle were whirled off through the crowd: a jumble of blue-clad
coolies wearing wide mushroom hats and the insignia of their employers
stamped upon their backs, of rickshas, and touring cars, and
motor-trucks, and skirted schoolboys riding bicycles, and curious little
drays with tiny wheels, drawn by shaggy little horses which are always
led, and which, when left to stand, have their front legs roped. Over a
bridge we went, above the peaked rice-straw awnings of countless wooden
cargo boats; then up a narrow road, surfaced with brown sand, between
rows of delightful little wooden houses, terraced one above the other,
with fences of board or bamboo only partly concealing infinitesimal
gardens, and sliding front doors of paper and wood-lattice, some of
which, pushed back, revealed straw-matted floors within, with perhaps
more flower-like women and children looking out at us--the women and the
larger children having babies tied to their backs. By some of the doors
stood pots containing dwarf trees or flowering shrubs, by others were
hung light wooden birdcages from which a snatch of song would come, and
in front of every door was a low flat stone on which stood rows of
little wooden clogs. Dogs of breeds unknown to me sat placidly before
their masters' doors--brown dogs to match the houses, black and white
dogs, none of them very large, all of them plump and benignant in
expression. Not one of them left its place to run and bark at our car.
They were the politest dogs I have ever seen. They simply sat upon their
haunches, smiling. And the women smiled, and the children smiled, and
the cherry blossoms smiled from branches overhead, and the sun smiled
through them, casting over the brown roadway and brown houses and brown
people a lovely splattering of light and shadow.

And what with all these things, and a glimpse of a _torii_ and a shrine,
and the musical sound of scraping wooden clogs upon the pavement and the
faint pervasive fragrance, suggesting blended odours of new pine wood,
incense, and spice--which is to me the smell of Japan; though hostile
critics will be quick to remind me of the odour of paddy fields--what
with all these sights and sounds and smells, so alluring and antipodal,
I began to think we must be motoring through a celestial suburb, toward
the gates of Paradise itself.

But instead of climbing onward up the hill to heaven we swung off
through a garden blooming with azaleas white, purple, pink, and
salmon-colour, and drew up at a pleasant clubhouse. There we had
luncheon; and it is worth remarking that, though prepared by Japanese,
both the menu and the cooking were in faultless French. The Japanese
gentlemen at this club were financiers, officials and prominent business
men of Yokohama. One or two of them wore the graceful and dignified
_hakama_ and _haori_--the silk skirt and coat of formal native
dress--but by far the larger number were habited in European style: some
of the younger men in cutaways, but the majority in frock-coats,
garments still widely favoured in Japan, as are also congress gaiter
shoes--a most convenient style of footwear in a land where shoes are
shed on entering a house.

Luncheon over, we drove to the station of the electric railroad that
parallels the steam railroad from the seaport to the capital--which, by
the way, will itself become a seaport when the proposed channel has been
dredged up Tokyo Bay, now navigable only by small boats.

From the car window we continued our observations as we rushed along.
The gage of the steam railway is narrower than that of railways in
America and Europe; the locomotives resemble European locomotives and
the cars are small and light by comparison with ours. The engine
whistles are shrill, and instead of two men, three are carried in each
cab. This we shall presently discover, is characteristic of Japan. They
employ more people than we do on a given piece of work--a discovery
rather surprising after all that we have heard of Japanese efficiency.
But Japan's reputation for efficiency is after all based largely on her
military exploits. Perhaps her army is efficient. Perhaps her navy is.
Certainly the discipline and service on the _Kashima Maru_ would bear
comparison with those on a first-rate English ship. Yet why three men on
a locomotive? Why several conductors on a street car? Why three servants
in an ordinary middle-class home which in America or Europe would be run
by one or two? Why fifteen servants in a house which we would run with
six or eight? Why so many motor cars with an assistant sitting on the
seat beside the chauffeur? Why so few motors? Why men and women drawing
heavy carts that might so much better be drawn by horses or propelled by
gasolene? Why these ill-paved narrow roads? Why this watering of streets
with dippers or with little hand-carts pulled by men? Why a dozen or
more coolies operating a hand-driven pile-driver, lifting the weight
with ropes, when two men and a little steam would do the work so much
faster and better? Why, for the matter of that, these delightful
rickshas which some jester of an earlier age dubbed "pull-man" cars? Why
this waste of labour everywhere?

Can it be that in this densely populated little country there are more
willing hands than there is work for willing hands to do? Must work be
spread thin in order to provide a task and a living for everyone? But
again, if that was it, would people work as hard as these people seem
to? Would women be at work beside their husbands, digging knee deep in
the mud and water of the rice fields, dragging heavy-laden carts,
handling bulky boats? And would the working hours be so long? Here is
something to be looked into. But not now.

It is a hand-embroidered country, Japan, though the embroidery is done
in fine stitches of an unfamiliar kind. The rural landscape is so formed
and trimmed and cultivated that sometimes it achieves the look of a
lovely little garden, just as the English landscape sometimes has the
look of a great park. Here, much more than in England, every available
inch of land is put to use. Where hillsides are so steep that they would
wash away if not protected, tidy walls of diamond-shaped stone are laid
dry against them; but whenever possible the hillsides are terraced up in
a way to remind one of vineyards along the Rhine and the Moselle, making
a series of shelf-like little fields, each doing its utmost to help
solve the food problem.

It is hard to say whether the towns along this line of railroad are
separated by groups of farms, or whether the groups of farms are
separated by towns, so even is the division. The farms are very small so
that the open country is dotted over with little houses--the same low
dainty houses of wood and paper that delighted us when we first saw
them, and which will always delight us when, from the other side of the
world, we think of them. For there is something in the sight of a neat
little Japanese house with its few feet of garden which appeals
curiously to one's imagination and one's sentiment. It is all so light
and lovely, yet all so carefully contrived, so highly finished. To the
Western eye--at least to mine--it has a quality of fantasy. I feel that
it cannot be quite real, and that the people who live in it cannot be
quite real: that they are part--say a quarter--fairy. And I ask you: who
but people having in their veins at least a little fairy blood would
take the trouble to plant a row of iris along the ridges of their roofs?

The houses, too, are often set in elfin situations. One will stand at
the crest of a little precipice with a minute table-land of garden back
of it; another will nestle, half concealed, in a small sheltered basin
where it seems to have grown from the ground, along with the trees and
shrubbery surrounding it--the flowering hedges and the pines with
branches like extended arms in drooping green kimono sleeves; still
another rises at the border of a pond so small that in a land less
toylike it would hardly be a pond; yet here it is adorned with
grotesquely lovely rocks and overhanging leaves and blooms, and in the
middle of it, like as not, will be an island hardly larger than a
cartwheel, and on that island a stone lantern with a mushroom top, and
reaching to it from the shore a delicate arched bridge of wood beneath
which drowsy carp and goldfish cruise, with trading fins and rolling
ruminative eyes.

Just as one better understands Hokusai and Hiroshige for having seen the
coastal hills, one understands them better for having seen these magic
little houses with their settings resembling so charmingly those
miniature landscapes made with moss, gravel, small rocks, and dwarf
trees, arranged in china basins by a Japanese gardener, who is sometimes
so kind as to let us see his productions in a window on Fifth Avenue.
Often one feels that Japan herself is hardly more than such a garden on
a larger scale. Over and over again one encounters in the larger, the
finish and fantastic beauty of the smaller garden. And when one does
encounter it, one is happy to forget the politics and problems of Japan,
and to think of the whole country as a curiously perfect table
decoration for the parlour of the world.

And the children! Children everywhere! Children of the children Kipling
wrote of thirty years ago, when he called Japan

          "... the land of Little Children, where the
                                    Babies are the Kings."

    [Illustration: With his drum and his monkey he is Japan's
    nearest equivalent for our old-style organ-grinder]

Of course we had heard about the children. Everyone who writes about
Japan, or comes home and talks about Japan, tells you about them. Yet
somehow you must witness the phenomenon before you grasp the fact of
their astonishing profusion. Even the statistics, showing that the
population of Japan increases at the rate of from 400,000 to 700,000
every year, don't begin to make the picture, though they do make
apparent the fact that there are several million children of ten years
or younger--about two thirds of whom go clattering about in wooden
clogs, while the remainder ride on the backs of their parents and
grandparents and brothers and sisters. All in a country smaller than the
State of California.

Children alone, children in groups of three or four, children in dozen
lots. Children in all sizes, colourings, attitudes, and conditions.
Children blocking the roads, playing under the trees or in them, romping
along paths, swarming over little piles of earth like bees on
bell-shaped hives. Children watching the passing cars, children in tiny
skiffs, children wading in ponds. Children glimpsed through the open
wood and paper _shoji_ of their matchbox houses, scampering on clean
matted floors or placidly supping--the larger of them squatting before
trays and operating nimble chopsticks, the smaller nursing at the
mother's breast. (Sometimes those children nursed at the breast are not
so very small--which is the reason why so many Japanese have
over-prominent teeth.) Children brown and naked, ragged children,
children in indigo or in bright flowered kimonos and white aprons.
Demure children, wild rampageous children, children with shaved heads,
children with jet-black manes bobbing about their ears and faces as they
run. Chubby children with merry eyes and cheeks like rosy russet apples.
Children achieving the impossible: delighting the eye despite their
dirty little noses.

Can it be that they pile the children on each others' backs, making two
layers of them, because there isn't room upon the ground for all of them
at once? Babies riding on their mothers' backs travel in comparative
dignity and safety. Under their soft little mushroom hats they sleep
through many things--street-car trips, shopping expeditions and gabbling
parties in the tea-rooms of department stores. But those who ride the
shoulders of their elder brothers lead lives of wild adventure. Their
presence is not allowed to interfere with the progress of young
masculine life. The brother will climb trees, walk on stilts and even
play baseball, seemingly unconscious of the weight and the fragility of
the little charge attached to him by ties of blood and cotton. If the
drowsy baby head drops over, getting in the way, the brother alters its
position with a bump from the back of his own head. When the small rider
slips down too far, whether on the back of child or adult, its bearer
stoops and bucks like a broncho, tossing baby into place again. Through
all of which the infant generally sleeps. Are its dreams disturbed, one
wonders, when big brother slides for second-base? I doubt it. Knowing no
cradle, no easy-riding baby carriage, the Japanese baby is from the
first accustomed to a life of action. It seems to be a fatalist. And
indeed it would appear that some special god protects the baby, for it
always seems to go unscathed.

Sometimes in the streets the children outnumber their elders by two or
three to one. Contemplating them one can easily fall into the way of
looking upon adults as mere adjuncts, existing only to wash the
children, see that they wear aprons, and give them their meals.

                              CHAPTER III

    _Growing Tokyo--Architecture and Statuary--The Westernization of
    Japan--The Story of Costumes--Women's Dress Advantages of
    Standardized Styles--Selection and Rejection_

As you reach the outskirts of Tokyo you think you are coming to another
little town, but the town goes on and on, and finally as the train draws
near the city's heart large buildings, bulking here and there above the
general two-story tile roofline, inform you in some measure of the
importance of the place. In 1917 Tokyo ranked fifth among the cities of
the world, with a population almost equal to Berlin's, and it seems
likely that when reliable statistics for the world become available
again we shall find that the population of Berlin has at most remained
stationary, while that of Tokyo has grown even more rapidly than usual,
owing to exceptional industrial activity and to the influx of Russian
refugees, whose presence in large numbers in Japan has created a housing
problem. Nor shall I be surprised to hear that Tokyo has passed Chicago
in the population race, becoming third city of the world.

The central railroad station exhibits the capital's modern architectural
trend. It is conveniently arranged and impressive in its magnitude as
seen across the open space on which it faces, but there its merit stops.
Like most large foreign-style buildings in Japan, it is architecturally
an ugly thing. Standing at the gate of Japan's chief city, it has about
it nothing Japanese. Its façade is grandiose and meaningless, and as one
turns one's back upon it and sees other large new public structures, one
is saddened by the discovery that the Japanese, skilful at adaptation
though they have often shown themselves, have signally failed to adapt
the requirements, methods, and materials of modern building to their old
national architectural lines. One thing is certain, however: there will
be no new public buildings more unsightly than those already standing.
This style of architecture in Japan has touched bottom.

In twenty years or so I believe the ugliness of these modern piles will
have become apparent to the Japanese. It will dawn upon them that they
need not go to Europe and America for architectural themes, but to the
castle of Nagoya, the watch-towers above the moat of the Imperial
Palace, the palace gates, and the temples and pagodas everywhere.

When this time comes the Japanese will also realize how very bad are
most of the bronze statues of statesmen and military leaders throughout
the world, and how particularly bad are their own adventures in this
field of art.

Until I saw Tokyo I was under the impression that the world's worst
bronzes were to be found in the region of the Mall in Central Park, New
York; but there is in Tokyo a statue of a statesman in a frock coat,
with a silk hat in his hand, which surpasses any other awfulness in
bronze that I have ever seen.

Looking at such things one marvels that they can be created and
tolerated in a land which has produced and still produces so much minute
loveliness in pottery, ivory, and wood. How can these people, who still
know flowing silken draperies, endure to see their heroes cast in Prince
Albert coats and pantaloons? And how can they adopt the European style
of statuary, when in so many places they have but to look at the
roadside to see an ancient monument consisting of a single gigantic
stone with unhewn edges and a flat face embellished only with an
inscription--simple, dignified, impressive.

All nations, however, have their periods of innovation-worship, and if
Japan has sometimes erred in her selections, her excuse is a good one.
She did not take up Western ways because she wanted to. She wished to
remain a hermit nation. She asked of the world nothing more than that it
leave her alone. She even fired on foreign ships to drive them from her
shores--which, far from accomplishing her purpose, only cost her a
bombardment. Then, in 1853, came our Commodore Perry and, as we now
politely phrase it, "knocked at Japan's door." To the Japanese this
"knocking" backed by a fleet of "big black ships," had a loud and
ominous sound. The more astute of their statesmen saw that the summons
was not to be ignored. Japan must become a part of the world, and if she
would save herself from the world's rapacity she must quickly learn to
play the world's game. Fourteen years after Perry's visit the Shogunate,
which for seven centuries had suppressed the Imperial family, and itself
ruled the land, fell, and the late Emperor, now known as Meiji
Tenno--meaning "Emperor of Enlightenment"--came from his former capital
in the lovely old city of Kyoto, the Boston of Japan, and took up the
reins of government in Yedo--later renamed Tokyo, or "Eastern
Capital"--occupying the former Shogun's palace which is the Imperial
residence to-day.

The Meiji Era will doubtless go down as the greatest of all eras in
Japanese history, and as one of the greatest eras in the history of any
nation. To Viscount Kaneko, who is in charge of the work of preparing
the official record of the reign for publication, President Roosevelt
wrote his opinion of what such a book should be.

"No other emperor in history," he declared, "saw his people pass through
as extraordinary a transformation, and the account of the Emperor's part
in this transformation, of his own life, of the public lives of his
great statesmen who were his servants and of the people over whom he
ruled, would be a work that would be a model for all time."

Under the Emperor Meiji, Japan made breathless haste to westernize
herself, for she was determined to save herself from falling under
foreign domination. Small wonder, then, if in her haste she snatched
blindly at any innovation from abroad. Small wonder if she sometimes
snatched the wrong thing. Small wonder if she sometimes does it to this
day. For she is still a nation in a state of flux; you seem to feel her
changing under your very feet.

But because Japan has accepted a thing it does not mean that she has
accepted it for ever. In great affairs and small, her history
illustrates this fact. A case in point is the story of European dress.

More than thirty years ago, when the craze for everything foreign was at
its height, when the whole fabric of social life in the upper world was
in process of radical change, European dress became fashionable not only
for men but for women. When great ladies had worn it for a time their
humbler sisters took it up, and one might have thought that the national
costume, which is so charming, was destined entirely to disappear.

Men attached to government offices, banks, and institutions tending to
the European style in the construction and equipment of their buildings,
had some excuse for the change, since the fine silks of Japan do not
wear so well as tough woollen fabrics, and the loose sleeves tend to
catch on door-knobs and other projections not to be found in the
Japanese style of building.

But in Japan more than in any other country, "woman's place is in the
home," and just as the Japanese costume is not well suited to the
European style of building, so the European costume is not well suited
to the Japanese house and its customs. For in the Japanese house instead
of sitting on a chair one squats upon a cushion, and corsets, stockings
and tight skirts were not designed to squat in. Equally important, clogs
and shoes are left outside the door of the Japanese house in winter and
summer, and as in the winter the house is often very cold, having no
cellar and only small braziers, called _hibachi_, to give warmth, the
covering afforded the feet by the skirts of a Japanese costume is very
comforting. Moreover, the Japanese themselves declare that European
dress is not becoming to their women, being neither suited to their
figures nor to the little pigeon-toed shuffle which is so fetching
beneath the skirts of a kimono.

What was the result of all this?

The men who found foreign dress useful continued to wear it for
business, although those who could afford to do so kept a Japanese
wardrobe as well. But the women, to whom European dress was only an
encumbrance, discarded it completely, so that to-day no sight is rarer
in Japan than that of a Japanese woman dressed in other than the native

If a Japanese lady be cursed with atrocious taste, there is practically
no way to find it out, no matter how much money she may spend on
personal adornment. The worst that she may do is to carry her clothes
less prettily than other women of her class. The lines she cannot
change. The fabrics are prescribed. The colours are restricted in
accordance with her age. Her dress, like almost every other detail of
her daily life, is regulated by a rigid code. If she be middle-aged and
fat she cannot make herself absurd by dressing as a débutante. If she be
thin she cannot wear an evening gown cut down in back to show a spinal
column like a string of wooden beads. Nor can she spend a fortune upon
earrings, bracelets, necklaces. She may have some pretty ornamental
combs for her black lacquer hair, a bar pin for her _obi_, a watch, and
perhaps, if she be very much Americanized, a ring and a mesh bag. A
hairdresser she must have, both to accomplish that amazing and effective
coif she wears, and to tell her all the latest gossip (for in Japan, as
elsewhere, the hairdresser is famed as a medium for the transmission of
spicy items which ought not to be transmitted); but her pocketbook is
free from the assaults of milliners; hats she has none; only a draped
hood when the cold weather comes.

The feminine costume is regulated by three things: first, by the age of
the wearer; second, by the season; third, by the requirements of the
occasion. The brightest colours are worn by children; the best kimonos
of children of prosperous families are of silk in brilliant flowered
patterns. Their pendant sleeves are very long. Young unmarried women
also wear bright colours and sleeves a yard in length. But the young
wife, though not denied the use of colour, uses it more sparingly and in
shades relatively subdued; and the pocket-like pendants of her sleeves
are but half the length of those of her younger unmarried sister. The
older she grows the shorter the sleeve pendants become, and the darker
and plainer grows her dress.

In hot weather a kimono of light silk, often white with a coloured
pattern, is worn by well-dressed women. Beneath this there will be
another light kimono which is considered underwear--though other
underwear is worn beneath it. Japanese underwear is not at all like
ours, but one notices that many gentlemen in the national costume adopt
the Occidental flannel undershirt, wearing it beneath their silks when
the weather is cold--a fact revealed by a glimpse of the useful but
unlovely garment rising up into the V-shaped opening formed by the
collar of the kimono where it folds over at the throat.

As with us, the temperature is not the thing that marks the time for
changing from the attire of one season to that of another. Summer
arrives on June first, whatever the weather may be. On that date the
Tokyo policeman blossoms out in white trousers and a white cap, and on
June fifteenth he confirms the arrival of summer by changing his blue
coat for a white one. So with ladies of fashion. Their summer is from
June first to September thirtieth; their autumn from October first to
November thirtieth; their winter from December first to March
thirty-first; their spring from April first to May thirty-first. In
spring the brightest colours are worn. Those for autumn and winter are
generally more subdued.

Young ladies wear brilliant kimonos for ceremonial dress, but ceremonial
dress for married women consists of three kimonos, the outer one of
black, though those beneath, revealed only where they show a V-shaped
margin at the neck, may be of lighter coloured silk. On the exterior
kimono the family crest--some emblem generally circular in form, such as
a conventionalized flower or leaf design, about an inch in
diameter--appears five times in white: on the breast at either side, on
the back of either sleeve at a point near the elbow, and at the centre
of the back, between the shoulder-blades. Because of these crests the
goods from which the kimono is made have to be dyed to order, the crests
being blocked out in wax on the original white silk so that the dye
fails to penetrate. Even the under-kimonos of fashionable ladies will
have crests made in this way.

With the kimono a Japanese lady always wears a neck-piece called an
_eri_ (pronounced "airy"), a long straight band revealed in a narrow
V-shaped margin inside the neck of the inner kimono. The eri varies in
colour, material, and design according to the wearer's age, the occasion
and the season, and it may be remarked that embroidered or stencilled
eri in bright colourings make attractive souvenirs to be brought home as
gifts to ladies, who can wear them as belts or as bands for summer hats.

If the weather be cold the haori, an interlined silk coat hanging to the
knees or a little below, is worn over the kimono. This is black, with
crests, or of some solid colour, not too gay. A young lady's haori is
sometimes made of flowered silk. Men also wear the haori, but the man's
haori is always black; and while a man will wear a crested haori on the
most formal occasions, a woman _en grande tenue_ will avoid wearing hers
whenever possible for the reason that it conceals all but a tiny portion
of the article of raiment which is her chief pride: namely the sash or

The best obi of a fashionable woman consists of a strip of heavy
brocaded or hand-embroidered silk, folded lengthwise and sewn at the
edges making a stiff double band about thirteen inches wide and three
and one third yards long. This is wrapped twice around the waist and
tied in a large flat knot in back, the mode of tying varying in
accordance with the age of the wearer, and differing somewhat in divers
localities. The average cost of a fine new obi is, I believe, about two
hundred dollars, and I have heard of obi costing as much as a thousand
dollars. Some of the less expensive ones are very pretty also, and many
a poor woman will have as her chief treasure an obi worth forty or fifty
dollars which she will wear only on great occasions, with her best silk

A Tokyo lady notable for the invariable loveliness of her costumes gives
me the following information in response to an inquiry as to the cost of

"As our style never changes," she writes, "we don't have to buy new
dresses every season, as our American sisters do. When a girl marries,
her parents supply her, according to their means, with complete costumes
for all seasons. Sometimes these sets will include several hundred
kimonos, and they may cost anywhere from two thousand to twenty thousand
yen. [A yen is about equal to half a dollar.]

"So if a girl is well fitted out she need not spend a great deal on
dress after her marriage. A couple of hundred yen may represent her
whole year's outlay for dress, though of course if she is rich and cares
a great deal for dress, she may spend several thousand.

"Our fashions vary only in colour and such figures as may be displayed
in the goods. Therefore they are not nearly so 'busy' as your fashions.
And we can always rip a kimono to pieces, dye it, and make it over."

Some other items I get from this lady: When a Japanese girl is married
it is customary for the bride's family to present obi to the ladies of
the groom's family. For a funeral the entire costume including the obi,
is black, save for the white crests. Ladies of the family of the
deceased wear white silk kimonos without crests, and white silk obi. The
Japanese ladies' costume, put on to the best advantage, is not so
comfortable as it looks. It is fitted as tight as possible over the
chest, to give a flat appearance, and is also bound tight at the waist
to hold it in position. The obi, moreover, is very stiff, and to look
well must also be tight.

The more select _geisha_ are said to attain the greatest perfection of
style; which probably means merely that, being professional entertainers
whose sole business it is to please men, they make more of a study of
dress, and spend more time before their mirrors than other women do.

                   *       *       *       *       *

The speed with which women reverted to the lovely kimono after their
brief experiment with foreign fashions, may have been due in part to a
lurking fear in Japanese male minds that along with the costume their
women might adopt pernicious foreign ways, becoming aggressive and
intractable, like American women who, according to the Japanese idea,
are spoiled by their men--precisely as, according to our idea, Japanese
men are spoiled by their women.

But whatever the reasons, the fact remains that the Japanese revealed
good practical judgment. They kept what they needed and discarded the
rest. It is their avowed purpose to follow this rule in all situations
involving the acceptance or rejection of western innovations, their
object being to preserve the national customs wherever these do not
conflict with the requirements of the hideous urge we are pleased to
term "modern progress." This is a good rule to follow, and if we but
knew the story of the period when Chinese civilization was brought to
Japan, nearly fourteen centuries ago, we might perhaps find interesting
parallels between the two eras of change.

                               CHAPTER IV

    _Quakes and the Building Problem--Big Quakes--Democracy in
    Architecture--Narrow Streets and Tiny Shops--The Majestic Little
    Policeman--The Dread of Burglars--What to Do in a Quake--The Man
    Who Went Home--"Fire!"--A Ricksha Ride to the Wrong Address--A
    Front-Porch Bath_

Have I given the impression that Tokyo is a disappointing city to one in
search of things purely Japanese? If so it was because I tarried too
long in the district of railroad stations and big business. Moreover, to
the practical commercial eye, this portion of the city must look
promising indeed, because of the wide streets and the new building going
on. And it is building of a kind to be approved by the man of commerce,
for in her new edifices Tokyo is adopting steel-frame construction.

That she is only now beginning to build in this way is not due to
inertia, but to the fact that earthquakes complicate her building
problem. The tallest of her present office buildings is, I believe, but
seven stories high, and I have heard that twice as much steel was
employed in its construction as would have been employed in a similar
building where earthquakes did not enter into the calculations of the

It would be difficult to overestimate the part that earthquakes play in
establishing the character of Japanese cities. There will never be
skyscrapers in Japan, or apartment buildings with families piled high in
air. The family, not the individual, is the social unit of the land, and
the private house is the symbol of the family. Even in the congested
slums of Japanese cities, or in the quarters given over to the pitiful
outcast class called _eta_, each family has its house, though the house
may consist only of a single room no larger than a woodshed and may
harbour an appalling number of people, as miserable and as crowded as
those of the poorest slums in the United States.

Though the seismograph records an average of about four earthquakes a
day, most of the shocks are too slight to be felt. Tokyo is however,
conscious of about fifty shocks a year. But she has not had a
destructive earthquake since 1894, nor a great disaster since 1855, when
most of the city was shaken down or burned, and 100,000 persons

Minor shocks receive but little attention. In fact by many they are
regarded with favour, on the assumption that they tend to reduce
pressure in the boiler-room, preventing savage visitations. However,
these do occasionally occur and on the seacoast they are sometimes
accompanied by tidal waves which ravage long stretches of shore, wiping
out towns and villages.

Earthquake shocks are sometimes accompanied by terrifying subterranean
sounds. Scientists have their ways of accounting for all these things,
but the man who really knows is the old peasant of the seacoast village.
He can tell you what really causes the earth to tremble. It is the
wrigglings of a pair of giant fish called _Namazu_, whiskered creatures
somewhat resembling catfish, which inhabit the bowels of the earth and
support upon their backs the Islands of Japan.

Even though the quakes are slight, they serve to keep in people's minds
certain unpleasant possibilities; and these possibilities are, as I have
said, acknowledged in the structure of Japanese houses. Two stories is
the maximum height for a residence, and even tea-houses and hotels are
seldom more than three stories high. This, together with the fact that
everyone who can afford it has a garden, causes Japanese cities to
spread enormously.

On the other hand, the Japanese requires fewer rooms than we do; his
home life is simple and he is less a slave to his possessions than any
other civilized human being. The average family can move its household
goods in a hand-cart. Even the houses of the rich are not blatant except
in a few cases in which florid European architecture has been attempted.
The difference between the houses of the rich and of the poor is in
degree, not in kind. As with the Japanese costume, the essential lines
do not vary.

    [Illustration: The Japanese is not a slave to his possessions.
    The average family can move its household goods in a hand-cart]

This democracy in architecture is restful to the eye and to the senses.
It gives the streets of Tokyo--excepting the important thoroughfares--a
sort of small-town look. Nor is a great metropolis suggested by the old
narrow streets, with their bazaar-like open shop fronts, their
banner-like awnings of blue and white, and their colourful displays of
fish, fresh vegetables, fruits, wooden clogs, curios, and many other
objects less definable, the possible uses of which entice the alien
wayfarer to speculation or investigation.

I never got enough of prowling in the narrow streets of Tokyo, staring
into shops (and sometimes, I fear, into houses), watching various
artisans carrying on home industries, wondering what were the legends
displayed in Chinese characters on awnings, banners and lacquered signs;
stumbling now upon an ancient wayside shrine, now upon a shop full of
"two-and-a-half-puff pipes," tobacco pouches for the male and female
users of such pipes, and _netsuke_ (large buttons for attaching
pipe-cases and pouches to the sash) carved in delightfully fantastic
forms; now upon a tea-shop full of tall coloured earthenware urns,
shaped like the amphoræ of ancient Rome and marked with baffling black
ideographs. Now I would discover a tea-house on the brink of a stream,
its balconies abloom with little geisha, its portals protected from
impurity by three small piles of salt; now it would be a geisha quarter
I was in, and I would hear the drum and flute and _samisen_; or again I
would discover a little shop with Japanese prints for sale, and would
enter and drink green tea with the silk-robed proprietor, bagging the
knees of my trousers and cramping my legs by squatting for an hour to
look at his wares.

Heavy wheeled traffic was not contemplated when the narrow streets of
Tokyo were laid out. From the most attenuated of them, automobiles and
carriages are automatically excluded by their size, while from others
they are excluded by the policeman who inhabits the white kiosk on the
corner. The policeman has discretionary power, and if you have good
reason for wishing to drive down a narrow street he will sometimes let
you do so, granting the permission coldly. He is a majestic little
figure. He wears a sword and is treated as a personage.

Naturally, the first consideration in the construction of a Japanese
house is flexibility. In an earthquake a house should sway. Earthquakes
are thus responsible for the general use of wood, which is in turn
responsible for the frequency of fires. And next to earthquakes, fires
are regarded by the Japanese as their greatest menace.

Third on the list of things feared and abhorred comes the burglar. I
doubt that there are more burglars in Japan than elsewhere, or that the
Japanese burglar is more murderous than the average gentleman of his
profession in other lands, but for some reason he is more thought about.
This may be because of the vicious knife he carries, or it may be
because Japanese houses are so easy to get into. In the daytime one
would only have to push a hand through the paper shoji and undo the
catch--which is about as strong as a hairpin. At night one might need a
cigar-box opener. At all events, it is for fear of burglars that the
Japanese householder barricades himself, after dark, behind a layer of
unperforated wooden shutters, which are slid into place in grooves
outside those in which the shoji slide. If the shutters keep out
burglars they also keep out air; and even though you may be willing to
risk the entrance of the former with the latter, the police will not
permit you to leave your shutters open--not if they catch you at it.

I made some inquiries as to the course to be pursued in the event of
burglary, fire, or severe earthquakes.

In earthquakes people act differently. I asked our maid, Yuki, what she
did, and found that, when in a foreign-style house, she would crouch
beside a wardrobe or other heavy piece of furniture which she thought
would protect her if the ceiling should come down.

"But what if the wardrobe should fall over on you?" I asked.

Yuki, however, was not planning for that kind of an earthquake.

In a Japanese house one need not worry about the ceiling, as it is of
wood; and as a matter of fact most of the ceilings in foreign-style
houses are of sheet metal.

It seems to me that the most intelligent thing to do in an earthquake is
to stand in the arch of a doorway; certainly it is a bad plan to try to
run out of the house, as many people, attempting that, have been killed
by falling fragments.

One night I got a letter from a friend at home. "Try to be in a little
earthquake," he wrote. "They build their houses for them, don't they?"

In the middle of that same night a little earthquake came, as though on
invitation. The bed-springs swung; the doors and windows rattled.

At breakfast next morning I asked my hostess, an American lady who has
lived most of her life in Japan, whether she had felt the tremor.

"I always feel them," she said. "They bother me more and more. In the
last few years I have got into the habit of waking up a minute or two
before the shocks begin."

"What do you do then?" I asked.

"I lie still," she said, "until the shaking stops. Then I wake my
husband and scold him."

The husband of this lady told me of a man he knew, an American, who came
out to Japan some years ago on business, intending to stay for a
considerable time. On landing in Yokohama he went directly to the office
of the company with which he was connected, and had hardly stepped in
when the city was violently shaken.

By the time the shocks were over he had changed all his plans.

"Nothing could induce me to stay in a country where this sort of things
goes on," he said. "I shall take the next boat back to San Francisco."

He did--and arrived just in time for the great San Francisco quake.

The course to take in case of fire is the same the world over. Shout
"Fire!" in the language of the country and try to put the fire out.

But if you find a burglar in your room don't shout the Japanese word for
"burglars," even if you know it--which I do not. The thing to shout is
"Fire!"--so I am advised by a Japanese friend, who, I am sure, has my
best interests at heart. For if you shout "Fire!" in the middle of the
night, the neighbours, fearing that the fire will spread to their own
houses, rush to your assistance; whereas if you cry "Burglars!" it
merely gives them gooseflesh as they lie abed.

Many times it happened in Tokyo that when I was bound on a definite
errand somewhere, the chauffeur or the ricksha coolie would land me
miles from my intended destination. There are three reasons why this
happened so often. First, Tokyo is a very difficult place in which to
find one's way about. Second, addresses in Tokyo are not always given by
street number, but by wards and districts, and there are tricks about
some addresses, as, for instance, the fact that 22 Shiba Park isn't on
Shiba Park at all, but is a block or two distant from the park's margin.
And third, though the language in which I told the chauffeur or the
_kurumaya_ where to go, was offered in good faith as Japanese, it was
nine times out of ten not Japanese, but a dead language--a language that
was dead because I myself had murdered it.

In some other city I might have felt annoyance over being delivered at
the wrong address. But in Tokyo I never really cared where I was going,
I found it all so charming.

Once a kurumaya trotted with me for three hours around the city to reach
a place he should have reached in one. I knew I would be hours late for
my appointment. I knew I ought to fret. But did I? No! Because of all
the things that I was seeing.

I saw the bean-curd man jogging along the street with a long rod over
his shoulder, at each end of which was suspended a box of _tofu_, which
he announced at intervals by a blast on a little brass horn: "Ta--ta:
teeya; _tee-e-e_--ta!" I saw a thicket of bamboo. I saw a diminutive
farmhouse, with mud walls and a deep straw thatch, and in the doorway
was a bent old white-haired woman seated at a wooden loom, weaving plaid
silk. And behind the bamboo fence and the flowering hedge, stood a
cherry tree in blossom.

It began to rain. In any other land I might have felt annoyance over so
much rain as we were having. But not so in Japan. Japan could not look
gloomy if it tried. Rain makes the landscape greener and the flowers
fresher. It makes the coolies put on bristling capes of straw which shed
the water as a bird's feathers do, and transform the wearer into a
gigantic yellow porcupine. It makes the people leave off the little
cotton shoes, called _tabi_, and go barefoot in their clogs. It makes
them change their usual clogs for tall ones lifted up on four-inch
stilts; and these as they scrape along the pavement give off a musical
"clotch-clotch," which is sometimes curiously tuned in two keys, one for
either foot. It brings out huge coloured Japanese umbrellas of bamboo
and oiled paper, with black bull's-eyes at their centres, and a halo of
little points around their outside edges. And as you go splashing by
them with your kurumaya ringing his little bell, the women turn their
great umbrellas sidewise, resting the margins of them in the road to
keep their kimonos from being splattered. And even then they do not look
at you severely. They understand that you can't help it. And are you
not, moreover, that lordly creature, Man, whereas they are merely women?

All these things I saw while I was lost, that afternoon. Then, just when
I might have begun to wonder if I was ever going to reach my
destination, what did I see?

Under the eaves of a thatched house beside the way a bronze young mother
and three children, all innocent of clothing and self-consciousness,
preparing to get into a great wooden barrel of a bathtub. You never saw
a sweeter family picture!... Yes, the Japanese are peculiarly a clean
race. It is not merely hearsay. It is a front-porch fact.

    [Illustration: The bath of the proletariat consists of a large
    barrel with a charcoal stove attached. Frequently it stands out
    of doors]

Could any man lose patience with a kurumaya who can get him lost and
make him like it?

                               CHAPTER V

    _Reversed Ideas--Some Advantages of Old Age--Morbidity and
    Suicide--High Necks and Long Skirts--Language--Chinese
    Characters and Kana--Calligraphy as a Fine Art--The Oriental
    Mind--False Hair--The Mystery of the Bamboo Screens--A Note on
    Cats at Cripple Creek--The Occidental Mind_

On the day of my arrival in Japan I started a list of things which
according to our ideas the Japanese do backwards--or which according to
their ideas we do backwards. I suppose that every traveller in Japan has
kept some such record. My list, beginning with the observation that
their books commence at what we call the back, that the lines of type
run down the page instead of across, and that "foot-notes" are printed
at the top of the page, soon grew to considerable proportions. Almost
every day I had been able to add an item or two, and every time I did so
I found myself playing with the fancy that such contrarieties ought in
some way to be associated with the fact that we stand foot-to-foot with
the Japanese upon the globe.

The Japanese method of beckoning would, to us, signify "go away"; boats
are beached stem foremost; horses are backed into their stalls; sawing
and planing are accomplished with a pulling instead of a driving motion;
keys turn in their locks in a reverse direction from that customary with
us. In the Japanese game of _Go_, played on a sort of checkerboard, the
pieces are placed not within the squares but over the points of linear
intersection. During the day Japanese houses, with their sliding walls
of wood and paper, are wide open, but at night they are enclosed with
solid board shutters and people sleep practically without ventilation.
At the door of a theatre or a restaurant the Japanese check their shoes
instead of their hats; their sweets, if they come at all, are served
early in the meal instead of toward the end; men do their _saké_
drinking before rather than after the meal, and instead of icing the
national beverage they heat it in a kettle. Action in the theatre is
modelled not on life but on the movements of dolls in marionette shows,
and in the classic _No_ drama the possibility of showing emotion by
facial expression is eliminated by the use of carved wooden masks.

    [Illustration: Sawing and planing are accomplished with a
    pulling instead of a driving motion]

Instead of slipping her thread through the eye of her needle a Japanese
woman slips the eye of her needle over the point of her thread; she
reckons her child one year old on the day it is born and two years old
on the following New Year's Day. Thus, when an American child born on
December thirty-first is counted one _day_ old, a Japanese child born on
the same day is counted two _years_ old.

Once when I was dining at the house of a Japanese family who had resided
for years in New York, their little daughter came into the room. Hearing
her speaking English, I asked:

"How old are you?"

"Five and six," she answered. Then she added, by way of explanation,
that five was her "American age" and six her "Japanese age."

Old age is accepted gracefully in Japan, and is, moreover, highly
honoured. Often you will find men and women actually looking forward to
their declining years, knowing that they will be kindly and respectfully
treated and that their material needs will be looked after by their
families. Old gentlemen and ladies are pleased at being called
grandfather and grandmother--_o-ji-san_ and _oba san_--by those who know
them well, and elderly unmarried women like similarly to be called _oba
san_--aunt. The same terms are also used in speaking to aged servants
and peasants whom one does not know, but to whom one wishes to show

The duty of the younger to the older members of a family does not stop
with near relatives, but includes remote ones, wherefore poorhouses have
until quite recently been considered unnecessary.

It seems to me that one of the most striking differences between the two
nations is revealed in the attitude of Japanese school and college boys.
Instead of killing themselves at play--at football and in automobile
accidents--as is the way of our student class, Japanese boys not
infrequently undermine their health by overstudy, and now and then one
hears that a student, having failed to pass his examinations, has thrown
himself over the Falls of Kegon at Nikko. Undoubtedly there is a morbid
strain in the Japanese nature. Translations of the works of unwholesome
European authors have a large sale in Japan, and suicides are by no
means confined to the student class. Poisoning, and plunging before an
oncoming locomotive are favourite methods of self-destruction. Once when
I was riding on an express train I felt the emergency brakes go on
suddenly. A moment after we had stopped I saw a woman running rapidly
away on a banked path between two flooded rice-fields with a couple of
trainmen in pursuit. They caught her, but after a few minutes' agitated
talk during which they shook her by the sleeves as though for emphasis,
let her go. We were told that the engineman had seen her sitting on the
track. Two or three days later I read in a newspaper that a woman had
committed suicide beneath a train at about the place where I witnessed
this episode. Her husband, the paper said, had deserted her. I suppose
it was the same woman.

Another curious inversion is to be found in the Japanese point of view
concerning woman's dress--and undress. I have been told that our style
of evening gown, revealing shoulders, arms and ankles (to state the
matter mildly), does not strike the Japanese as modest. Certainly the
mandate of the Japanese Imperial Court is not the same as that of the
French _modiste_ (how curiously and inappropriately the word suggests
our word "moddest"!) for whereas, at the time of writing, the latter
decrees skirts of hardly more than knee length, the former decrees, for
ladies being presented at court, skirts that touch the ground.
Considering the foregoing facts it is, however, somewhat perplexing to
the Occidental mind to find that men and women often dress and undress,
in Japanese inns, with their bedroom shoji wide open, and that
furthermore they meet in the bath without, apparently, the least

Like the English, the Japanese are persistent bathers, but whereas the
English take cold baths the Japanese bathe in water so hot that we could
hardly stand it. And when they have bathed they dry themselves with a
small, damp towel, which they use as a sort of mop.

Also like the English they drive to the left of the road. There is much
to be said for that, but some of their other customs of the road
surprise one. Wherever they have not been "civilized" out of their
native courtesy you will find that one chauffeur dislikes to overtake
and pass another. Surely to an American this is an inversion! When a
procession of automobiles is going along a road and one of them is for
some reason required to stop, the cars which follow do not blow their
horns and dash by in delight and a cloud of dust, but draw up behind the
stationary car; and if it becomes necessary for them to go on, the
chauffeurs who do so apologize for passing. This custom, which is dying
out, comes, I fancy, from that of ricksha-men, who never overtake and
pass each other on the road, but always fall in behind the slowest
runner, getting their pace from him, protecting him against the
complaints which his passenger would make if others were continually
coming up behind and going by.

                   *       *       *       *       *

Of all differences, however, none is more pronounced than that of
language. Instead of a simple alphabet like ours, the fairly educated
Japanese must know two or three thousand Chinese ideographs, and a
highly cultivated person will know several thousand more. To be sure,
there is a simple way of writing by a phonetic system, not unlike
shorthand, which is called _kana_. Every Japanese can read kana, which
is sometimes also mastered by foreigners long resident in Japan. There
are but forty-eight characters in kana, and as the characters have in
themselves no meaning, but signify only a set of sounds, they can be
used to write English names as well as Japanese words. My own name is
written in kana characters having the following sounds:
_Su-t[=o]-rii-t[=o]_--which being spoken in swift succession produce a
sound not unlike "Street."

    [Illustration: su



    a character denoting
    that the preceding
    syllable is


    Dono or Esquire--a
    Chinese character]

The Chinese ideographs used by the Japanese have the same forms as the
characters used in China, but are pronounced in an entirely different
way, so that the Japanese and Chinese can read each other's writing, yet
cannot talk together. Books and newspapers published in Japan are
printed in a mixture of Chinese characters and kana, and there is,
moreover, beside each Chinese character in newspapers a tiny line of
kana giving the sound of the word represented. In this way a reader of
newspapers gets continual instruction in the written language and
finally comes to know the most frequently used words from the
ideographs, without referring to the kana interpretation. Thus there are
actually two ways of reading a Japanese paper. A thoroughly educated man
reads the ideographs, while a poorly educated one reads the kana, which
gives him the sound of a word that he knows by ear, though he does not
know it by sight when it is written in the classic character. These
conditions, of course, eliminate the use of our sort of typewriter,
though there is an extremely complicated and slow Japanese typewriter
which is used chiefly where carbon copies are required. Also, they
render the use of the linotype impracticable, and make hand-typesetting
an extremely complicated trade. The difficulty of learning the Chinese
characters, moreover, makes it necessary for students to remain in
school and college several years longer than is the case with us. There
is a movement on foot to Romanize the Japanese language, just as in this
country there is a movement to adopt the metric system; but practical
though such improvements would be in both cases, the realization of them
is, I fear, far distant, because of the difficulties involved in making
the change. And, indeed, from the standpoint of picturesqueness, I
should be sorry to see the Chinese characters discarded, for they are
fascinating not only in form but by reason of the very fact that we
never, by any chance, know what they mean.

The Japanese write with a brush dipped in water and rubbed on a stick of
India-ink; they seem to push the brush, writing with little jabs,
instead of drawing it after the hand, even though they write down the
column. Calligraphy is with them a fine art; and beautiful brushwork,
such as we look for in a masterly painting, is a mark of cultivation.
Because of their drilling with the brush almost all educated Japanese
can draw pictures. Short poems and aphorisms written in large characters
by famous men are mounted on gold mats and hung like paintings in the
homes of those so fortunate as to possess them. A scription from the
hand of General Count Nogi or Prince Ito would be treasured by a
Japanese as we would treasure one from the hand of Lincoln or
Roosevelt--possibly even more so, for where a letter from one of our
great men has a sentimental and historical value, a piece of writing
from one of their great men has these values plus the merit of being a
work of art. Such bits of writing bring large prices when put up at
auction, and forgeries are not uncommon.

In its structure the Japanese language is the antithesis of ours.
Lafcadio Hearn declares that no adult Occidental can perfectly master
it. "Could you learn all the words in the Japanese dictionary," he
writes, "your acquisition would not help you in the least to make
yourself understood in speaking, unless you learned also to think like a
Japanese--that is to say, to think backward, to think upside down and
inside out, to think in directions totally foreign to Aryan habit."

The simplest English sentence translated word for word into Japanese
would be meaningless, and the simplest Japanese sentence, translated
into English, equally so. To illustrate, I choose at random from my
phrase book: "Please write the address in Japanese." The translation is
given as: _Doka Nihon no moji de tokoro wo kaite kudasai_. But that
sentence translated back into English, word for word, gives this result:
"Of beseeching Japan of words with a place write please." And there is
one word, _wo_, which is untranslatable, being a particle which,
following the word _tokoro_, "a place," indicates it as the object of
the verb.

I shall mention but one more inversion. The Japanese use no profanity.
If they wish to be insulting or abusive they omit the customary
honorifics from their speech, or else go to the opposite extreme,
inserting honorifics in a manner so elaborate as to convey derision.

                   *       *       *       *       *

Numerous and curious though these reversals be, they are but the merest
surface ripples upon the deep, dark, pool of Japanese thought and

At first I did not quite grasp this fact. In my early days in Japan,
when I was asking questions about everything, it sometimes looked to me
as if the average Japanese was constitutionally unable to give a direct
and simple answer to a direct and simple question, and my first
impression was that this was due to some peculiarity of the far-famed
Oriental Mind. But that impression soon changed--so much so that I am
now disposed to doubt that such a thing as the Oriental Mind exists in
Japan, if by that term is meant a mental fabric constitutionally
different from that of Occidental peoples. That is to say, I believe the
average Japanese child starts out in life with about the same
intellectual potentialities as the average American, English, French or
Italian child, and that differences which develop as the child grows
older are not differences in mental texture, but only in the mental
pattern produced by environment. My contention is not that Japanese
brains are never imperfect or peculiar, but that their imperfections and
peculiarities are precisely those found everywhere else in the world.
And the same rule applies, of course, when one compares the great
intellects of Japan with the great intellects of other nations. At
bottom we are much more of a piece with the Japanese than either they or
we generally suppose. The differences between us, aside from those of
colour, size, and physiognomy, are almost entirely the result of our
opposite training and customs and the effect of these upon our
respective modes of thought. Neither nation has a corner on brains nor
on the lack of them.

In a hotel in Kobe a lady of my acquaintance ordered orange juice for
breakfast. The Japanese "boy"--waiters and stewards are all "boys" in
the Far East--presently returned to say that there was no orange juice
to be had that morning. But he added that he could bring oranges if she
so desired.

The Oriental Mind? Not at all. The Orient has no monopoly of stupid
waiters. The same thing might have happened in our own country or
another. And that is the test we should apply to every incident which we
are inclined to attribute to some basic mental difference between the
Orientals and ourselves.

_Granted the same background, could not this thing have happened in an
Occidental country?_

Never, in Japan, was I able to answer that test question with a final,
confident "No."

Sometimes, however, I thought I was going to be able to.

One day on the Ginza, the chief shopping street of Tokyo, I saw a
well-dressed young lady strolling along the walk with her long,
beautiful hair hanging down her back, and false hair dangling from her
hand. She was evidently returning from the hairdresser's where she had
been for a shampoo. The situation, from my point of view, was precisely
as if I had seen a similar spectacle on Fifth Avenue. But when I spoke
about it to Yuki, who besides being our maid was our guide, philosopher,
and friend, she assured me that the young lady was quite within the
bounds of custom.

"We Japanese no think it shame to have false hair," she said.

Once I thought I had the Oriental Mind fairly cornered, and had I not
later chanced to discover my mistake I should probably be thinking so

I was driving in an automobile with a Japanese gentleman, a director in
a large pharmaceutical company. Parenthetically, I may say that he had
been telling me how, when his company bought three hundred thousand
_hectares_ of land in Peru, for the purpose of raising plants from which
some of their products are manufactured, the anti-Japanese press of the
United States took up the story, falsely declaring that here was a great
emigration scheme backed by the Japanese Government. But that is by the

Presently we came to a place where a large building was being erected.
The framework was already standing and was surrounded by screens of
split bamboo which were attached to the scaffolding. Having noticed
other buildings similarly screened, I asked about the matter.

"Ah," said the gentleman, "the screens are to prevent the people on the
streets from seeing what is going on inside."

"But what goes on inside that they ought not to see?" I asked,

My informant gazed at me gravely for a moment through his large round
spectacles. Then he said, as it seemed to me cryptically: "It is not
thought best for the people to see too much."

I pondered this answer for a moment, then noted it down in my little
book, adding the memorandum: "The Oriental Mind!"

Doubtless I should now be making weird deductions from that brown-eyed
gentleman's explanation of the screens, had I not chanced to mention the
matter to another Japanese with whom I was more intimately acquainted.

"But that is not correct," he said, smiling. "The screens are not there
to prevent people from seeing in, but to prevent things from falling on
their heads as they pass by."

The bamboo screens, in other words, served precisely the protective
purpose of the wooden sheds we erect over sidewalks before buildings in
process of construction. The pharmaceutical gentleman did not know what
they were for, just as we do not know the uses of a great many things we
see daily on the streets of cities in which we live; he was anxious to
be helpful to me; he did not wish to fail to answer any question I might
ask him; so he guessed, and guessed wrong. But as any reporter can tell
you, the practice of passing out the results of guessing in the guise of
accurate information is by no means exclusively a Japanese practice.
Reporters sometimes guess at things themselves, but that is not what I
mean. I mean that a conscientious reporter now and then finds himself
deceived by misinformation coming from some source he had supposed

In writing about American towns and cities I have more than once been so
deceived. An old inhabitant of Colorado told me that the altitude of
Cripple Creek was so great that cats could not live there. Later,
however, I learned that cats can perfectly well live in Cripple Creek
despite the altitude. Indeed some cats having but little regard for the
character of their surroundings do live there. It is only the more
critical cats who cannot stand the place.

Every American knows that he could be asked questions about his own
country and its ways which he could not answer accurately offhand, but
in a foreign land he expects every resident of that land to be able to
explain anything and everything. I wonder if the Japanese expect as much
of us when they question us.

"Why do you say 'Dear me!'?" I once heard a Japanese gentleman inquire
of an American lady. And though the lady explained why she said "Dear
me!" I doubt that the Japanese gentleman was able to understand. I know
that I was not.

Another Japanese who had been in New York wished to know why we called a
building in which there were no flowers "Madison Square _Garden_," and
why ladies called a certain garment, once generally worn by them, a
"petti_coat_," although it is distinctly not a coat, but a skirt.

My answers to these questions were, to put it mildly, vague, and I
suppose my questioner said to himself as he listened to me:

"Ah, the Occidental Mind! How curiously it works!"

                               CHAPTER VI

    _Interlocking Ideas--Customs and Symbolism--Simplicity versus
    Complexity--Flower Arrangement--Teaism--The Egg-Shaped God--The
    Feudal Era--Ceremonial Tea--Household Decoration--Keys to
    Japan--The Seven Blind Men_

When I had been several weeks in Japan, striving continually to gain
some comprehension of the people and their ways, I began to feel a
little bit discouraged. Never had I been so fascinated by a foreign
land. Never in so short a time had I seen and heard so much that was new
and strange and charming. Yet never had my observations been so
fragmentary, so puzzling. My notebooks made me think of travelling-bags
packed with unrelated articles of clothing. With the stockings belonging
to one theme I had, as it were, packed the shoes of another. Here was a
full dress coat; here a pair of overalls. Nothing was complete and no
two things seemed to match. I could help to dress an army of ideas, but
I wondered if I could fully clothe one.

I kept asking questions, but frequently the answers led me far afield,
and were incomplete and unsatisfactory.

After a time, however, I began to understand why a Japanese so often
fails to give a simple and direct answer to a simple and direct question
about things Japanese. It is because, in many instances, no such answer
is possible. Nor is this impossibility due to any mental kink in the
Japanese of whom the question is asked. It is due to the fact that the
thing asked about is not a simple, self-contained unit, but is a minute
part of some great mass of thought or custom which must be in a general
way understood before any single detail of it can be understood. It is
as though you were to ask a question about a coloured pebble only to
find yourself thereby involved with cosmos.

Japan is a land of customs. Her customs are based on principles which
are rooted in traditions, which in turn frequently rest upon foundations
of history, religion, superstition, or perhaps a mythology involving all
three. Thus it often seems that every little word and act of a Japanese
can be accounted for in some curious, complex yet essentially logical
manner--that every thought in the Japanese mind has, so to speak, a
genealogy, which, like the genealogy of the Japanese Imperial Family,
reaches back into the mists of antiquity. Symbolism, moreover, plays an
immense part in the daily life of Japan, and this fact enormously
complicates matters for the foreigner who aspires to understand the
country and the people. These are some of the reasons why in an article
recently written for a magazine, I called Japan "The Isles of

Yet when I mentioned the title of that article to an American friend who
has lived for many years in Japan, he wrote me that he considered it a

"I should call Japan 'The Isles of Simplicities,'" he declared, "just
because life there is so different from life in our own artificial
civilization. I am speaking particularly of our false modesty as
compared with the more natural ideas of the Japanese concerning natural
functions and unnatural emotions--or emotions unnaturally excited. If
you will get down to fundamentals I think you will find that we are the
complex people and they the simple people. Can you, for instance,
project yourself into the mind of a Martian visiting this earth for the
first time, taking a trip through the dance-halls, cabarets, and
midnight frolics of New York and Chicago, then going to Japan and seeing
the class of entertainment there provided for natives and foreigners
alike? Let such an unprejudiced outsider watch the street scenes of
Japan, note the frank customs of the people, including those revealed in
the community baths, and I think he would say the Japanese are
essentially simple as compared with us, that they are purer in thought
and action, and (though I know I am inviting contradiction) that they
have on the average a higher sense of real morality."

My friend makes out a good case and I agree with much that he says, but
he is thinking along one line while I am thinking along another. He is
thinking of the outward simplicities of Japanese life, while I am
thinking of its inward complexities, especially with regard to the
relation of one fact to another--I might almost say of every fact to
every other fact.

Let me illustrate:

That grouping of flowers in a bamboo vase, which you find so satisfying,
is not the result of any fancy of the moment, but is the product of an
elaborate art, dating back at least five centuries. Flower Arrangement
is a part of the curriculum of girls' schools and is one of the
accomplishments of every lady. Hundreds of books have been written on
the art and there are thousands of professional teachers of it. It has,
you are informed, a philosophy of its own. Confucianism is invoked. The
Universe is represented by three sprays of different height--an effect
often found also in plantings in Japanese gardens. The tallest spray,
standing in the middle, symbolizes Heaven; the shortest, Earth; the
intermediate, Man. There may be five, seven or nine sprays, but the
principle of Heaven, Earth and Man must be preserved. There must never
be an even number of sprays, and four is a number to be avoided above
all others, since _shi_, the Japanese word for "four", also means

Significance likewise attaches to the species of blooms and branches
used. The plum blossom, which is sent to brides, symbolizes purity, and
also, because it flowers when snow is on the ground, stands for courage
in adversity.

But just when you begin to flatter yourself that you have acquired some
understanding of Flower Arrangement you meet some one who does not
follow the tenets of the particular school of Flower Arrangement you
have heard about--which, let us say, is the popular Ikenobo school--but
believes in the teachings of the Enshiu school, the Koriu school, or the
Nagéire--"thrown in"--school. Or perhaps he favours the kindred art
called Morimono--"things-piled-up"--which deals with compositions of
fruit and vegetables; or the Morihana school, which applies the
"things-piled-up" principle to flowers; or that other kindred art which
teaches the making of "tray landscapes"--pictures drawn on the flat
surface of a tray in pebbles and various kinds of sand.

The essential point in all Flower Arrangement is that there shall be
form and balance, yet that the composition shall not be perfectly
symmetrical, as perfect symmetry is not found in nature. In order to
attain the desired effects the flower-stalks and branches used are
carefully bent and twisted, and this work is done with such delicacy and
dexterity as to conceal the fact that their forms have been altered by
artificial means. I have seen a Flower Master make waterlilies stand
upright on their stalks by forcing water up through the stalks with a
syringe. He then set them on one of those flat metal flower-holders we
have lately been learning to use in this country, so arranging them in a
shallow bowl that there was an open space between the stems, which he
said was "for the fish to swim through"--though the fish was in this
case purely a creature of his imagination.

Many methods of making flowers draw water are also taught. Especially in
the case of chrysanthemums, the ends of the stalks are burned; the end
of a hardwood branch is often crushed so that it admits water more
freely; certain flowers are put in hot water; others are dipped in a
solution of strong tea and pepper.

The origin of Flower Arrangement is traced by Okakura to a time when
ancient Buddhist saints "gathered the flowers strewn by the storm and,
in their infinite solicitude for all living things, placed them in
vessels of water." We are told that Soami, a painter of the Ashikaga
period, was an adept, and that Juko the Tea Master was his pupil. Flower
Arrangement thus became a recognized art in the fifteenth century,
albeit not an independent art, since it was at first a branch of Teaism.

Teaism? They tell you you cannot understand Flower Arrangement unless
you also understand Teaism. What is Teaism?

Here is unfolded to you a further range for study. You knew, of course,
that the first thing which happens when you pay a call in Japan, be it a
business or social call, is the arrival of a cup of clear Japan tea, and
that the second and third things which happen are the arrival of the
second and third cups. You knew that the tea of Japan is green tea, and
that it is taken without cream or sugar from cups having no handles. You
knew, perhaps, that such tea is made with hot--_not_ boiling--water. But
were you aware that tea is in its highest sense not a beverage, but a
creed, a ritual, a philosophy?

The discovery of the brew is said to have been made by the Chinese
Emperor Chinnung, in the year 2737 B.C., but the mythology of Buddhism
traces the creation of the tea-bush itself to the diverting god
Daruma--that amusing egg-shaped fellow often represented in a child's
toy which, when pushed over, persists in rolling back to an upright
position, thereby symbolizing unflagging aspiration. "Down seven
times--up eight times," the Japanese say of Daruma.

Having meditated day and night for weeks, Daruma fell asleep. On
awakening he was so vexed with his drowsy eyelids that he cut them off
and flung them to the ground, where they sprouted into plants from the
leaves of which a sleep-destroying beverage might be made.

The seeds of the tea-plant were brought to Japan from China in the year
805 A.D., but the initiation of the habit of tea-drinking is generally
dated from the time, about four centuries later, when the priest Eisai,
of the Zen sect of Buddhists--a favourite sect among artists and
tea-drinkers to this day--wrote a treatise on "The Salutary Influence of
Tea-Drinking," which he presented, along with a cup of tea, to one of
the early _shoguns_, who was ill. Thus tea was first taken as a medicine
"to regulate the five viscera and expel evil spirits."

Not long after this we find the drinking of tea becoming a pastime of
the nobility, and by degrees we see the development of aesthetic
practices in connection with it. Art objects were displayed when people
met for tea; sumptuous tea-parties were given by _daimyos_, and one
writer tells us that there came a period of decadence in the Feudal Era
when warriors would lay down the sword in favour of the teapot, and die
cup in hand when their castles were taken by their enemies.

                   *       *       *       *       *

Let me digress here to speak briefly of the Feudal Era, the most
interesting era of Japanese history. It lasted from the twelfth to the
middle of the nineteenth century--that is, throughout the period during
which Japan was ruled not by its Emperors, but by several successive
families of shoguns, or as for reasons given later they were sometimes
called, _tycoons_. Though the shoguns usurped Imperial power it is a
noteworthy fact that they did not usurp the throne itself nor attempt to
destroy the Imperial family, but were content to keep the successive
emperors in a state of impotence. Under the shoguns were the daimyos,
powerful feudal lords acting in effect as provincial governors; and each
daimyo had his _samurai_, or fighting men, holding rank in several
grades. There was also a class of samurai known as _ronin_ who
acknowledged no lord as their master, but were independent fighters and
trouble-makers. I give this outline because these various terms confused
me at first. There was but one shogun at a time; the daimyos numbered
between two and three hundred, and it has been estimated that there were
some two million samurai. With a very few exceptions--among them rich
farmers and swordmakers--no one below the rank of samurai could wear a
sword. The sword-wearing class was the ruling class, and ordinary
workers were regarded as of little consequence. A samurai could strike
down with his sword any plebeian who jostled him by accident, or who as
much as looked at him in a manner which he found distasteful.

The rank of samurai corresponded with that of knights in feudal Europe,
and Japanese families who are descended from samurai are proud of the
fact, precisely as some European families, and indeed some American
families, are proud of having sprung from knightly forbears.

                   *       *       *       *       *

But to return to our tea. A Zen priest named Shuko is said to have
originated the idea of associating with the habit of tea-drinking the
cultivation of "the four virtues"--urbanity, purity, courtesy, and
imperturbability--and this conception, originating about the middle of
the fifteenth century, is to this day a tradition of the Tea Ceremony,
or _cha-no-yu_.

The great soldiers Nobunaga and Hideyoshi, chief figures of the latter
half of the sixteenth century, were addicts of the Tea Ceremony. It was
Hideyoshi who caused the Tea Master, Sen-no-Rikyu, to consider the
various schools of Ceremonial Tea which had developed, and codify them.

The keynote of the ceremony prescribed by Sen-no-Rikyu was "simplicity"
of a most elaborate kind. There must be a special teahouse in the
garden--though in recent times a special tearoom in the house is
considered adequate. The teahouse was required to be small. Its exact
dimensions were given, down even to the height of the doorway, which was
so low as to compel guests to enter with bowed heads. The house must be
simple in the extreme, yet built of the choicest woods. The character of
the tea equipment was specified, as was the nature of the decorations.

This was where Flower Arrangement originally came in. A _kakemono_--one
of those Oriental paintings mounted on a vertical panel of silk arranged
to roll up on a cylindrical piece of wood and ivory attached to its
lower margin--must hang in the shallow alcove which is the place of
honour in every Japanese room; and beneath the kakemono must be
displayed an object of art or an arrangement of flowers having a certain
relationship to the painting.

For example, if the painting be that of a lion the suitable flower to be
displayed beneath it is the peony, because the lion is the king of
beasts and the peony the king of flowers. This is merely one simple
instance of an artistic association of ideas, infinite in number and
sometimes complicated in character. Yet these decorative affinities are
understood not only by the highly educated Japanese, but by a large
proportion of the people--for the feeling for art is, I believe,
distributed more widely amongst the people of Japan than amongst those
of any other nation. The Japanese do not jam their homes with furniture
and decorations as we so often do, but exhibit their art treasures a few
at a time, keeping most of them put away. It is said that Japanese rooms
look bare to the average foreigner. To me, however, their rooms do not
look bare, but have an air of exquisite refinement seldom found in an
American or English room.

Some Americans who have learned to appreciate the Japanese idea of
decoration, and who imitate it superficially, nevertheless achieve
assemblages of art objects which, because of the lack of relationship
between them, offend the trained Japanese eye precisely as a discord
offends a trained musical ear. As Chamberlain points out, the Japanese
have few mere "patterns." They don't make "fancy figures" merely for the
sake of covering up a surface. Their decoration means something--as
indeed decoration has in its highest periods in all countries.

There have been many Tea Masters since Sen-no-Rikyu, and the names of
not a few of them are remembered to this day with veneration. The chief
treasure of a friend of mine in Tokyo is a little teahouse, standing in
his garden, which belonged some three hundred years ago to
Kobori-Enshiu, Tea Master to the third Tokugawa shogun. If you would
know how such associations are valued in Japan, go to an auction when
some piece of Ceremonial Tea equipment, once the property of a famous
Tea Master, is coming up for sale.

Ceremonial Tea has practically nothing to do with ordinary tea-drinking.
The very tea used for the purpose is not like other tea. It comes in the
form of fine green powder which is placed in a special sort of bowl in a
special sort of way, whereafter water of exactly the right temperature
and quantity is added, and the mixture is whipped to a creamy froth with
a tiny bamboo brush, manipulated in a special manner. Great stress is
laid upon the frame of mind brought into the tearoom, as well as on the
etiquette and technique governing every detail connected with the making
and drinking of the tea. The bowl is passed and received according to
exact rules, and there is profound bowing back and forth. First it
circulates as a loving-cup amongst the guests; later a special bowl is
served to each in turn. On accepting the bowl the guest revolves it
gently in both hands; then with as much of the calm dignity of a Zen
Buddhist as he is able to exhibit, he raises it and takes a large sip.
Removing the bowl from his lips he pauses meditatively; then repeats the
process. Etiquette demands that when three large sips have been taken
there shall remain in the bowl enough tea to make a small sip. In
disposing of this final draught great gusto must be shown. The head is
thrown back in indication of eagerness to drain the last drop, and the
tea is drawn into the mouth with a sucking sound which advertises the
delight of the drinker.

    [Illustration: Nor is the potency of Ceremonial Tea diminished
    by the fact that it is served by a lovely little Japanese hand]

The second night afterward he may be able to sleep. Ceremonial Tea is
potent. Nor is its potency diminished by the fact that the hand which
makes and serves it is a characteristically exquisite little Japanese
hand, set off by the long soft sleeve of a flowered silk kimono.

                   *       *       *       *       *

Obviously you cannot understand Japan without understanding the Japanese
woman--the nation's crowning glory. But as Lafcadio Hearn tells you, she
is not to be understood without an understanding of the organization of
Japanese society, which in turn, is not to be understood without a
comprehension of Shintoism, the State religion.

Everyone has a prescription for understanding Japan. One friend told me
I could never understand it until I had grasped the attitude of the
people toward the Imperial House. But that is only another way of saying
that Shintoism must be understood. Many, naturally, speak of Buddhism.
Others mention the feudal system, with its clan loyalty, as the
touchstone, and still others assured me that a knowledge of the Tea
Ceremony and the No drama were essential.

"Fujiyama is the key-note of Japan," wrote Kipling. "When you understand
the one you are in position to learn something about the other." Sir
Charles Eliot, long before he became British Ambassador at Tokyo, wrote
that it is hopeless to attempt to understand Japan without first
recognizing "the peculiar spirituality of the Japanese"; but there are
not wanting others to deny the existence of any such spirituality as Sir
Charles describes, and who, instead, harp upon the alleged Prussianism
of Japan as explaining everything.

Doctor Nitobé, the gifted Japanese author, who, like Okakura, writes
delightfully in English, gives us as the key to Japan the doctrine of
_bushido_, or "military knight ways"; but again there are students of
Japan who affirm that the system of practical ethics attributed by the
doctor's patriotic pen to the samurai of old, would astound those
doughty warriors could they hear of it. The book "Bushido," declare
these critics, is less a key to Japan than to Doctor Nitobé.

Is not the interdependence of facts, of which I spoke earlier,
illustrated in the trend of this chapter, all of which, remember, grew
out of a discussion of a bunch of flowers in a bamboo vase? Do you see
why I called Japan "The Isles of Complexities"? And do you see that I
might also call it "The Isles of Contradictions"?

Perhaps you will not be surprised, then, at my confession that after
having spent several weeks in Japan I found myself fascinated but also
puzzled. Why, I asked myself, had I so gaily set forth under an
agreement to write about Japan? Why hadn't I made it a mere pleasure
trip? For it is one thing to see and be satisfied with seeing, and quite
another to attempt interpretation.

It has often been said that if a man stays in Japan six or eight weeks
he can write a book about it; that if he stays a year or two he may
write a single article for a magazine; but that if he stays several
years he will be afraid to write at all.

"To get the Japanese background," one friend told me, "you ought to have
a month or two in Korea, and at least a year in China. Then you should
come back and rent a house and live in Japanese fashion for a while."

"Say about two hundred years?" I suggested.

My friend smiled.

"One hundred and fifty years might do," he said, "if you made every
minute count."

Then, perhaps because he read in my face the signs of my discouragement,
he reminded me of an old fable:

    Seven blind men went to "see" an elephant. One of them, bumping
    into the great beast's side, said, "Here is a creature
    resembling a wall." Another, feeling the trunk, likened the
    elephant to a serpent; another, touching a tusk, announced that
    the animal resembled a spear; and still another, grasping an
    ear, compared the elephant to a large leaf. The one who got hold
    of the tail likened it to a rope, while he who embraced a leg
    thought of a tree, and he who crawled over the back declared
    that an elephant resembled a hill.

There in a paragraph you have Japan and her interpreters.

                                PART II

                              CHAPTER VII

    _The Lyric Impulse--A Man-Made Product--The Remoteness of Woman
    Suffrage--Efforts Toward Progress--Divorce--Marriage and the
    Go-Between--The Rising Generation--Japanese-American

Lafcadio Hearn tells us that training in the Tea Ceremony "is held to be
a training in politeness, in self-control, in delicacy--a discipline in
deportment"; but Jakichi Inouye, a searching and sincere Japanese
writer, goes even further, declaring that "the calm, sedate gracefulness
of the Japanese lady of culture is the result of the study of the Tea

My one quarrel with Mr. Inouye is over that statement. To say that the
study of the Tea Ceremony assists young ladies to attain poise is safe
enough; but to say that the fine bearing of the Japanese lady is _the
result_ of studying the Tea Ceremony seems to me to be going altogether
too far.

The bearing of the Japanese lady is a thing too exquisite to have been
produced by the practice of any artificial social ritual. Such a bearing
is not, in my opinion, to be classed as a mere accomplishment, though it
may have been so a thousand years ago. Rather it is the reflection of an
incomparably lovely spirit, the flower of countless generations of such
spirits, reaching back through ages of tradition, centuries of
self-abnegation. It is the crowning product and proof, not of any Tea
Ceremony, but of the disciplined civilization of Old Japan.

Whenever I find my thoughts reverting to the Japanese woman, I feel
stirring within me a tendency to lyricism. Let Lafcadio Hearn, whose
wife was a Japanese lady, speak for me. "Before this ethical creation,"
he writes, "criticism should hold its breath; for there is here no
single fault save the fault of a moral charm unsuited to any world of
selfishness and struggle.... Perhaps no such type of woman will appear
again in this world for a hundred thousand years: the conditions of
industrial civilization will not admit of her existence."

The fact that the Japanese woman is in no small degree a man-made
product does not fill me with admiration for Japanese men, as would some
insentient product of their art. For whereas the artist has a right to
carve what he will in wood or ivory or lacquer, to mould what he will in
wax or clay or bronze, I doubt his moral right to use the human soul as
a medium for his craftsmanship in making an ornament for his own home,
however exquisite that ornament may be.

I am well aware that in this case the end may be said to justify the
means, but I am enough of an individualist to believe in our American
system, even though I must admit that it has not produced so sweet and
delicate an average of womanhood as has the Japanese system. Women as we
produce them exhibit a much wider range of types than may be found in
Japan, and though a vulgar American woman, be she rich or poor, attains
a degree of vulgarity such as is not even faintly approximated in Japan,
we also know that we produce types of women as fine as the world can
show. And while I cannot speak with absolute certainty of the
intellectual attainments of Japanese women, I am inclined to think that
our more liberal attitude toward the sex, the greater freedom of
companionship between American women and men, and the growth of the
American woman's interest and share in public matters may tend to make
her, at her best, a more completely satisfying comrade--not because her
brains are necessarily better brains than those of the women of Japan,
or of other countries, but because she has been encouraged to exercise
them in a larger way.

From my point of view, however, the basic question here is not the
question of which system produces the highest specimens of womanhood,
but that of the inherent right of the individual to develop, let the
results be what they may.

The Japanese woman is not allowed this freedom, since it is obviously to
the interest of the Japanese man to keep her as she is. Lately there has
been some agitation in Japan for what is called "universal suffrage,"
but it must not be supposed that by that term woman suffrage is meant.
The proposal involves only the extension of the ballot to all males, as
against the present system which requires that a man shall pay taxes
above a certain amount in order to have a vote. Woman suffrage is not
even in sight. When I was in Japan a few progressive women were asking,
not for the vote, but for the abrogation of the rule which denied their
sex the right to attend political meetings. They were successful. The
rule was recently abrogated. A movement had also been started by some
advanced women led by Mrs. Raicho Hiratsuka, for laws compelling men who
wish to marry to obtain medical certificates declaring them mentally
sound and free from diseases of a kind likely to be communicated to a
wife. I heard that seventy out of three hundred girls employed by the
railway administration in Kyoto had organized an association to aid in
the advancement of the measures proposed, vowing never to marry unless
their would-be husbands complied with the requirements for which Mrs.
Raicho Hiratsuka and her associates were endeavouring to obtain legal

Another matter that wants mending is the legal status of married women.
So far as I know there has been made no serious effort to improve the
present situation. Under Japanese law a woman, upon contracting
marriage, is debarred from civil rights, having practically the standing
of a minor. A wife cannot transfer her own real estate, bring an action
at law, or even accept or reject a legacy or a gift, without the consent
of her husband. Laws not dissimilar to these exist, I believe, in some
of the more backward states of our own Union. According to the law of
Japan a widow cannot succeed her husband as head of the family if she
has a child who can take the succession. In matters of inheritance an
elder sister gives place to a younger son, even to an illegitimate son
recognized by the father.

A husband may divorce a wife for adultery, but a wife cannot divorce a
husband for this cause--or rather, she can do so only when he has
offended with a married woman whose husband has therefore brought action
for divorce. Thus it will be seen that a husband may even take a
concubine to live in his home, along with his wife and children, without
giving ground for divorce. Concubinage, I am told, is still to some
extent practised in Japan, though popular opinion is against it. In one
respect, however, the Japanese divorce laws are more enlightened than
our own. A husband and a wife who agree in desiring a divorce may easily
obtain it by stating the fact to the court.

Somehow or other I came to the subject of divorce before that of
marriage. The Orient and the Occident are nowhere farther apart than in
their views and customs as to the mating of men and women. In Japan
marriages for love rarely occur, though it is said that the tendency of
young people to marry to suit themselves is growing. Young Japanese
girls, I am told, often look with envy upon women of other nations,
where marriage for love is the general rule. Probably they suppose that
such matches are invariably happy; that the love is always real love,
and that it endures for ever. No doubt our system, viewed from afar,
looks as rosy to a Japanese girl as their system looks appalling to an
American girl. Yet each has certain merits. The Japanese system does not
suggest romance, it is true; but is romance, after all, the most
essential stone in the foundation for a happy married life? Romantic
notions figure too largely in some of our matches, and too little in
some of theirs. And while the mature judgment of older people is with
them the determining factor in the making of a match, it is too often
with us no factor at all.

Marriages in Japan are generally brought about by older married couples
who act as go-betweens. There is a popular saying that everyone should
act as a go-between at least three times. The go-between, knowing a
young man and a young woman whom he regards as suitable to each other,
proposes the match confidentially to the parents of both. If preliminary
reports are mutually satisfactory to the two families, a meeting of the
young couple and their parents and relatives is arranged on neutral
ground. Any intimation of the real purpose of this meeting is tactfully
avoided at the time, though the purpose of it is, of course, fully
understood by all concerned. Under this arrangement either family may,
without giving offence, drop the matter after the first meeting, but if
the results of the preliminary inspection are satisfactory to both
sides, the parents meet again and definitely arrange the match, which is
made binding by an exchange of presents.

    [Illustration: You cannot understand Japan without understanding
    the Japanese woman, who is the nation's crowning glory]

Chamberlain says that while, in theory, the betrothal may not be
concluded if either young person objects, in practice the two are in the
hands of their parents, and that "the girl, in particular, is nobody in
the matter."

This generalization was doubtless accurate a few years ago, and may be
accurate to-day in remote parts of Japan where Western ideas have not
crept in, but among the educated classes in large cities a distinct
change has come over the rising generation. There is as great a gap
between the older and the younger generations in Japan as in the United
States, and as with us, the older people over there complain that youth
is getting altogether out of hand, while youth complains that its
aspirations are not understood by parents and grandparents. This does
not mean that Japanese young men and young women run practically wild,
as so many of our young people now are doing, but merely that the slight
personal freedom they are demanding represents in Japan as great a
novelty as is exhibited in the United States by the change from moderate
parental control to no control at all.

Yet the cults and traditions of Old Japan are vastly powerful, and
though they may yield a little here and there, they will not soon be
broken down. This fact is made apparent in the quick reversion to type
of Japanese men and women who have lived for years in the United States,
and who, when in the United States, seem to have become quite like
Americans. Meet them in Japan and you see that their Occidentalism was
only skin-deep. While among us they gracefully adapted themselves to our
ways, and doubtless enjoyed them, but always in the back of their minds
was the knowledge that they were Japanese and that they would ultimately
return to Japan, there to become a part of the finely adjusted mechanism
of Japanese homogeneity. I know many such men and women and find them
very interesting. They have passed through an extraordinary mental and
spiritual experience, generally without being confused by it. Instead of
mixing their Japanese and American selves, they acquire a perfect
duality. They can sit on either side of the fence, as it were, and look
over calmly and interpretatively at the other side.

I discussed this subject with one young matron who spent the first
twenty years of her life in the United States, and who, when she moved
to Japan, spoke her native tongue with an American accent.

"My brothers and sisters and I went to American boarding schools," she
said. "We dressed like Americans, had American boy and girl friends,
went to house-parties, and grew up outwardly, just as they were growing
up. But always we were taught by our parents to understand that this was
not to go on for ever.

"When I came to Japan and married I saw that the best thing to do was to
show people that I was as Japanese as any of them. If I had kept up my
foreign ways it would have been resented. So I became completely
Japanese, and for a number of years did not even meet Americans who came
here. Then when I had made clear my attitude and felt I was established,
I began to see Americans again and entertain them."

In another case a young Japanese in an American university used to tell
his college friends that when he went back to Japan he would show his
emancipation from old Japanese tradition by marrying as he pleased. Soon
after reaching home, however, he was married by his parents to a bride
he hardly knew. He speaks fluent English, I am told, and has an American
side which he can show at will, but the inner man is essentially as
Japanese as though he had never been away. And rightly so, of course.
The Japanese who throws himself as an impediment against the movement of
the great machine of national conventions is not likely to break so much
as a single tooth in the smallest of its wheels, but will surely break

But to return to the subject of marriages:

Having arranged the match, the go-between naturally takes pride in its
success. He befriends the young couple; if they are unhappy he mediates
between them, endeavouring to settle their difficulties; and if their
unhappiness continues, and divorce is spoken of, it becomes his duty to
exhaust every resource to prevent their acting rashly.

Before arranging the match, however, the go-between takes precautions to
provide against such dangers as may be foreseen. He must, for example,
make discreet investigations as to the health of both families for
several generations back, to insure against hereditary taints, among
which the most dreaded is leprosy.

The Japan Year Book, in most cases a useful reference work, is curiously
silent on the subject of leprosy, though several pages are devoted to
tuberculosis and other diseases. It was reported recently that a million
Japanese have tuberculosis, but leprosy, though less contagious and
consequently much less frequent, is more feared. An authority has told
me that there are probably two million lepers in the world and that the
only countries free from the disease are England and Scotland, from
which it has been eradicated by segregation. It is estimated that New
York City has one hundred lepers, and that there are cases of it in
most, if not all states in the Union. Yet according to the government
report only three states--California, Louisiana, and Massachusetts--make
provision for the segregation and care of sufferers from this most
terrible of diseases. Some people give the number of lepers in Japan as
under twenty thousand. The Home Office sets the figure at sixty-four
thousand. Specialists, however, say that even the latter figure is far
too low, and that the actual number is nearer one hundred thousand.

The first leprosarium in Japan was started twenty-eight years ago by
Roman Catholic missionaries. A few years later a second leper hospital
was founded by Miss H. Riddell, an Englishwoman who has been probably
the greatest single influence in bettering conditions for the Japanese
lepers. Miss Riddell's leprosarium at Kumamoto, south Japan, was, I
believe, used by the Japanese Government as a model for the State
leprosariums of which there are now five. Other such institutions are
operated by missionaries and private individuals, but the work must be
greatly extended if it is hoped to check the spread of the disease, to
say nothing of stamping it out.

A Japanese friend of mine who has frequently acted as go-between in
arranging matches for employees of a large company of which he is an
official, tells me that girls in families tainted with leprosy are often
exceptionally beautiful, and that they frequently have very white skins.
In certain parts of Japan where leprosy is common there are, he tells
me, rich families having beautiful daughters for whom it is impossible
to find husbands in the neighbourhood because of rumours that the dread
disease is in their blood. Such families occasionally move to the great
cities where they seek to find husbands for their daughters through
matrimonial agents or by personal advertisements in newspapers. The
custom of advertising for a husband or a wife has of late years grown
considerably, and as has happened in this country, rascalities are
sometimes discovered behind such advertisements, wherefore the police
keep an eye on matrimonial agencies.

One reason why accurate statistics on leprosy are hard to get, not only
in Japan, but in all countries, is that families in which a case occurs
will often go to great lengths to conceal it. In Japan this is
particularly true because there a leper cannot marry, and leprosy is
cause for divorce not only in the case of the individual actually
afflicted, but in that of the victim's blood relations including those
as far removed as second cousins.

No wonder the go-between feels a sense of responsibility!

                              CHAPTER VIII

    _Wedding Gifts--A Wife's Duties--Adopted Son-Husbands--Women in
    Business and Professional Life--Actresses--The "New
    Woman"--Kissing as a Business Custom--Film Censorship_--"Oi,
    Kora!"--_Women of Old Japan--The Change is Coming_

Though the Japanese system of arranged marriages is sometimes likened to
the French system, the two are quite different. In France the great
point is the bride's dowry, but the Japanese bride is not necessarily
expected to bring a dowry of money. Her wedding present from her parents
consists as a rule of furniture and clothing which they give according
to their purse.

The ceremonies connected with a Japanese wedding are extremely
interesting, but are too elaborate to be gone into here. There is no
wedding trip. The bride moves at once to the home of her husband's
parents, unless she has married a younger son sufficiently prosperous
and enterprising to set up a home of his own. The rule is that the
eldest son continues to live under the parental roof after his marriage.
Along with her name and residence the bride transfers her allegiance
absolutely to the husband's family. Particular stress is laid upon her
duty to her husband's mother.

This fact is recognized in a textbook issued by the Imperial Department
of Education for use in the higher girls' schools, which says:

    Absence of harmony is often witnessed between a husband's mother
    and her daughter-in-law, and this is often traceable to the
    latter's disobedience and undutifulness. The mother-in-law may
    be too conservative to get on smoothly with the young
    daughter-in-law trained in new ideas, but dutifulness, patience,
    and sincerity on the latter's part will bring on peace and
    harmony.... If, on the contrary, the daughter-in-law, while
    tolerant of her own weaknesses, is critical toward her husband's
    mother and complains of her heartlessness, she will only betray
    her own unworthiness. These points should always be kept in mind
    by young girls.

Young Japanese heiresses are doubly fortunate since their affluence
provides, among other comforts, a means of escaping the dreaded
mother-in-law. Instead of moving to her husband's home, an heiress will
often bring her husband to the shelter of her own paternal roof, where
by adoption he becomes a son of her family, taking the family name. One
hears that the bed of roses sought by some of these _muko-yoshi_, or
adopted son-husbands, does not prove always to be free from thorns, and
there is a Japanese proverb which advises: "If you have left so much as
a pound of bad rice, don't become a muko-yoshi." The muko-yoshi is not,
however, always married to an heiress. Poor families having daughters,
but no sons, will often take in a muko-yoshi to perpetuate the family
line under the ancestral roof.

    [Illustration: A laundry on the river's brim]

When all is said, there is no question that the condition of Japanese
women is slowly improving, although the woman movement there is still in
the academic stage. Little by little the example of women in America and
England is making itself felt, and the educational opportunities open to
women are gradually increasing. The average college for women is not, to
be sure, comparable with the ordinary college for men, but there is said
to be one university of really high standing which is open to women, and
a number of other co-educational institutions are listed as fairly good.
Waseda College is now opening its doors for the first time to women as
well as men, and though women cannot graduate from Tokyo Imperial
University, I am informed that they are permitted to attend lectures

Women are going more and more into business and professional life. Great
numbers of them are now employed in the government postal and railway
offices, in the offices of prefectures and municipalities, and, of
course, in the telephone service, as well as by private companies of all
kinds. Employers report steady improvement in the standard of
intelligence and capability among their woman employees. Women, they
say, do their work well and are usually content with small salaries. In
seeking positions they generally declare that they wish to occupy
themselves profitably between the time of leaving high school and that
of marrying.

Eliminating, for the time being, the geisha, who because of her curious
occupation will be separately discussed, and who does not in any case
fit into a discussion of woman's progress, since she is in some measure
a barrier to it, we find that the medical profession is probably the
most profitable field for woman workers. There are some seven or eight
hundred woman doctors in Japan, of whom almost half are graduates of the
Tokyo School for Women, founded by a woman physician, Dr. Y. Yoshioka.

Trained nursing is also a popular occupation, and many girls have lately
been leaving office and telephone work to take it up, chiefly for the
reason that trained nurses receive from $1 to $1.25 per day, which is
considered good pay.

Until ten or a dozen years ago there were no actresses in Japan, female
rôles invariably having been played by men, but the octogenarian Baron
Shibusawa (lately created Viscount), who has done so much toward
liberalizing the thought of Japan in many lines, founded a school for
actresses, with the result that there is now a place for them, and that
a few have come to be well known, although none is as yet so popular as
are the best-known actors. Actors hold in Japan a social position
similar to that held by Occidental players a century or more ago. They
are distinctly a lower caste, and while they are admired for their art,
and are adored by young girls as matinée idols are with us, they are
considered as belonging to a social stratum in which geisha and
wrestlers figure.

There are now perhaps a dozen or more women working as reporters and
special writers on the various Tokyo newspapers. Miss Osawa, who started
work on the _Jiji Shimpo_ twenty-one years ago, is, I believe, the dean
of Japanese woman journalists.

There are more than twenty well-known monthly magazines for women, many
of them edited by women and largely contributed to by woman writers.
Authorship is a traditional occupation for women in Japan, women's names
being among the greatest in the nation's ancient literature--in which
connection it is interesting to note the fact that some of the old-time
authoresses were courtesans.

One hears a good deal of talk of the "new woman" in Japan, and perhaps
the surest indication that she is coming into being is the fact that
supposedly humorous postcards are sold on the Tokyo streets, in which
the new woman is shown in various dictatorial attitudes before a
cringing husband. Once, at a dinner I attended in Osaka, a woman who
runs a business training school for girls, arose and made a short
speech. I noticed that while she spoke not a few of the men smiled
pityingly. From this item American women old enough to recall the early
days of the woman movement in this country will have no difficulty in
estimating the distance that the Japanese woman has yet to go.

Japanese ladies who have the time and the inclination for charitable
activity accomplish a great deal. The W. C. T. U. is active in Japan,
Mrs. Yajima, its president, a lady who, in 1920, at the age of
eighty-eight, went to England for the International W. C. T. U.
Convention, being perhaps the leader among progressive women of the
land. The Red Cross has a large membership, and the Y. W. C. A., like
the Y. M. C. A., has a firmly fixed and useful place, carrying on a wide
variety of activities. Among these are classes to teach young girls the
ways of the business world which is so rapidly opening to them. As an
indication of the need for such instruction, a lady who works in the Y.
W. C. A. in Tokyo told me of a case in which a Japanese girl who came
for instruction reported that she was in the habit of kissing her
foreign employer good morning and good night, in the belief--a belief we
must suppose to have been inculcated by him--that such was the general
business custom.

It is often said that the Japanese never kiss. Bowing is the national
form of salutation, though those accustomed to meet foreigners shake
hands with them. The fact as to kissing is that one never sees it, even
between mother and child, and that this is interpreted as signifying
that kissing is unknown. That is not the case. I own an old print by
Utamaro which shows a man and a woman kissing with the greatest zeal.
The Japanese simply do not kiss indiscriminately or in public places.

The feeling against demonstrations of affection in public is so strong
that when American motion pictures were first taken to Japan, audiences
would hoot at those tender passages so much enjoyed by some persons in
this country. For several years past, however, all such representations
have been cut from American films intended for exhibition over there.
This work is done by an American who lives in Japan, and who has made up
what is probably one of the strangest films in the world by assembling
all the cuts into one awful reel of lust and osculation, in which figure
most of the widely known American movie stars. This film he sometimes
runs off privately for his friends, and it is said to leave those who
witness it in a frame of mind to vote kissing a capital offence.

In a rather pitiful list of ten requests made by a Japanese wife to her
husband, and exhibited as a poster at the Girls' Industrial School of
Tokyo, was the appeal: "Please stop saying '_Oi, kora_,' when you call

_Oi_, the expression used by most Japanese husbands when they call their
wives, is about equivalent to our "Hallo!" or "Hey!" Sometimes a husband
will call his wife by name, but one more often hears "_Oi_," or "_Oi,
oi_," even among persons of position. _Oi_ is more familiar than rude. A
man would say it to his close friend. But a woman would never say it to
her husband. _Kora_ is really objectionable, being an exclamation
addressed only to inferiors. Naturally, then, wives do not like it,
whether they make bold to declare the fact or not. For a wife may not
even call her husband by his first name, but must address him as
_anata_, which is a respectful form for "you."

It has been declared that the peasant woman who works beside her husband
in the fields or fishing villages, or who helps him push a cart, or
navigate a boat on the rivers and canals, is the happiest woman in
Japan, being a real companion to him. However, that may be, there is
much room for improvement in the attitude of the average middle-class
Japanese toward his wife. He gets into automobiles and railroad trains
ahead of her and has the air of ignoring her in public.

It should be said, though, that the attitude of such husbands does not
necessarily mean that they do not care for their wives. Rather it means
that they are old-fashioned--that the ancient notion of woman's
position, based on the teachings of Buddhism and Confucianism, has clung
to them. But most of all, I think, it reveals their fear of being
thought ridiculous. For if a man showed his wife what we should call
ordinary civility, the old-school Japanese thought him henpecked.

Strangely enough the position occupied by women in the days of Japan's
early antiquity was much higher than it has since become. In olden times
women took part in war, had a voice in politics, and in other ways held
their own with men. In the eighth century successive Empresses occupied
the Imperial throne, and the influence of certain able women was
strongly felt at court; two centuries later we find a great era of
literary women many of whose names are famous to this day.

But soon after the introduction of Buddhism and Confucianism all this
was changed. The Buddhist doctrine called women creatures of sin,
treacherous and cruel; and says Confucius: "When a boy is born let him
play with jewels; when a girl is born let her play with tiles." So it
came about that woman's position declined until it was possible for a
famous moralist to write a treatise on the Duty of Woman, containing
such maxims as these:

    A woman should look upon her husband as if he were Heaven
    itself, and never weary of thinking how she may yield to him,
    and thus escape celestial castigation. Let her never dream of
    jealousy. If her husband be dissolute she must expostulate with
    him but never either nurse or vent her anger. Should her husband
    become angry she should obey him with fear and trembling and not
    set herself up against him in anger and frowardness.

An endless quantity of such quotations may be taken from the writings of
moral teachers, and in them is indicated the debt of the women of Japan
to Chinese doctrines. In view of which it seems strange indeed to visit
a Buddhist temple and there be shown coils of thick black rope which was
used in the erection of the building, and which was made entirely from
the hair of devout women who sacrificed their prized tresses for this
purpose, being too poor to give aught else.

Thus, while the Occident was teaching men to be chivalrous toward women,
the Orient was teaching women to be, as one might put it, chivalrous
toward men. But in both cases the modern tendency is toward change. The
growth of woman's economic independence in this country, making her
man's competitor, tends to make man less polite in his general casual
contacts with her. Having elected to be his equal she must take her
chances with him in the subway rush and in the scramble for street-car

Fifty years hence, Japan will perhaps have reached this pass, but the
present rudeness of men to women is not that of equals to equals, but of
superiors to inferiors; that is the thing that must be changed.

And it will be changed. Slowly, very slowly, the attitude of the
Japanese man toward the Japanese woman is improving. I found that
evening classes were being held at the Y. W. C. A. in Tokyo for the
purpose of teaching young husbands and wives how to enjoy social life
together, and there is no doubt that in fashionable society the better
type of modern young husband treats his wife with much more
consideration and courtesy, and makes much more a companion of her, than
was customary or even possible under the old régime. Twenty-five years
ago it was well enough for a man to walk on the street with a geisha,
but the man who walked in public with his wife was jeered at, and might
even find himself a target for missiles. Though that is no longer the
case, the tradition that man should assume a superior air still to some
extent survives among the masses, so that for a husband to treat his
wife with perfect courtesy before strangers requires, singular though it
may seem, real moral courage.

                               CHAPTER IX

    _Baseball in Japan--The National Sport--Wrestling and
    Shintoism--Fans--Wrestlers' Earnings--The National Game
    Building--Formalities Before the Matches--The
    Super-Champions--Peculiarities of Japanese Wrestling--Days Off_

Though the grip of the American national game upon Japan is sufficiently
strong to have brought a Japanese university team to this country and to
have taken one or two American university teams to Japan for return
games, there is as yet no professional baseball in Nippon, and the kind
of wrestling known as _sumo_ still maintains its ancient prestige as the
national sport.

Having been in Tokyo at the time of an election and again during the
annual spring wrestling season, I could not but be struck by the fact
that the street crowds watching the bulletin boards for the results of
the physical contests were larger and more enthusiastic than the crowds
which assembled to learn the results of the political struggle.

The average Japanese knows, I believe, about as much and about as little
of domestic politics as the average American. He has a loose idea of the
structure of the government and of political machinery; he follows
political leaders rather than causes, and like us he is prone to read
rich meanings into the glib banalities of politicians.

Wrestling he understands much better. He knows all its fine points. His
enthusiasms on this subject are informed enthusiasms, and unlike the
baseball fan, he inherits them from a long line of ancestors--for
compared with wrestling, baseball is a brand-new sport. When the Greeks
and Romans wrestled, the Japanese were wrestling, too. In the ninth
century the Japanese throne was wrestled for. A Mikado died and left two
sons, and these, instead of going to war against each other, left their
claims to be settled by a wrestling match.

The sport is, furthermore, associated, in a manner more or less
diaphanous, with Shintoism. Certain Shinto traditions are connected with
it, and the matches used to be held in the grounds of Shinto temples--as
indeed amateur matches often are today in country districts.

For many years past it has been customary to hold wrestling meets in
Tokyo twice yearly, in January and May. Prior to the construction of the
Kokugikwan, or National Game Building, the large steel and concrete
structure in which the meets are now held, they occurred in the grounds
of the Eko-in temple. January is a cold month in Tokyo and even May is
often chilly, wherefore, the audience was none too comfortable at these
open-air matches. Moreover, Japan is a rainy land; the old open-air
matches had frequently to be declared off because of bad weather;
sometimes it took twenty days to run off a ten-day meet. But the
Kokugikwan has put an end to these difficulties. The modern Japanese
wrestling fan keeps warm and dry, with the result that the sport now has
more devotees than ever.

During the wrestling season Tokyo is profoundly excited. Men of large
affairs have a way of disappearing mysteriously from their offices.
Officials of banks and large corporations are vaguely reported to be
"out of town for a few days." Prince Tokugawa, President of the House of
Peers, suddenly becomes a difficult gentleman to find--unless,
perchance, you happen to know where to look for him. So, too, with many
a man of smaller consequence. If he can afford it--often whether he can
afford it or not--he drops his work and vanishes. But he does not always
vanish; for if his enthusiasm for wrestling verges on dementia he may
adorn himself in an eccentric manner and make himself conspicuous in the
auditorium by his antics and his cries. Thus certain wrestling fans of
Tokyo have come to be considered privileged characters--as, for
instance, the one who always appears at the great matches in a coat of
scarlet silk, which his father wore before him, and whose habit it is to
prance down the aisle before the wrestlers as they march in solemn
procession to the ring.

When I inquired about tickets for one of the days of the great meet I
was strongly reminded of our World Series baseball games. It seemed that
tickets were not to be had. Eventually, however, I managed to secure
them in the way such things are secured the world over--by means of
"pull." I found a friend who had a sporting friend who knew a wrestler
who could get seats.

The attitude of the sporting Japanese gentleman toward wrestlers
resembles that of the sporting American or Englishman toward pugilists
and jockeys. It is _chic_ to know them, but not as equals. One is very
genial with them and at the same time a little patronizing, whereas they
are expected to assume a slightly deferential manner. Perhaps the
attitude of the Japanese sporting gentleman toward his favourite
wrestlers is rather more like that of the Spanish sporting gentleman
toward bullfighters, for in both countries it is customary for the
wealthy patron to give expensive presents to the hero. But whereas in
Spain handsome jewelry is sometimes thrown to the bull-fighters in the
ring, it is the custom in Japan for the fan to throw his hat, coat,
pocketbook, cigarette case, or whatnot to the popular idol, who later
sends the trophy back to the owner, receiving in exchange a valuable
gift--frequently a gift of money.

Hence, though the actual pay of wrestlers is small, perquisites make the
profession profitable to those fairly successful in it, and poor
parents, having a son of unusually large proportions, are likely to look
with resignation upon the Japanese theory that great size is generally
accompanied by stupidity, and to rejoice in the dimensions of their
offspring because of a fond hope that he may become a champion wrestler
and grow rich.

My friend the Japanese sporting gentleman (who, by the way, was a
graduate of the University of Michigan) did more than obtain tickets for
me. He called with his automobile and took me to the amphitheatre.

"Our mode of wrestling is not at all like yours," he said, "and I want
to explain it to you."

It was about eleven in the morning when, after traversing several
streets strung with rows of Japanese lanterns, and filled with hurrying
throngs, we reached the great circular concrete building into which an
eager crowd was pouring through many portals--an audience which, though
made up for the most part of men, contained not a few women and some
children. Many, though by no means all of the women were geisha, for
wrestlers have about the same rank as geisha in the social scale, and
they are often the heroes as well as the intimates of the fair

As we approached the amphitheatre the thought came to me that there is a
curious sameness in the atmosphere surrounding great sporting events the
world over, however little the various sports themselves may resemble
one another. To approach this great building in Tokyo during wrestling
week is quite like approaching the Plaza de Toros in Madrid, or the
building in which _jai alai_ is played in Havana, or the Polo Grounds in
New York, or the Yale Bowl, or the Harvard Stadium.

The Kokugikwan is a circular building roofed with glass and seating
fourteen or fifteen thousand persons. At the centre is a mound of earth
with a flat top on which the ring is marked with a border of woven
straw. Over the ring is a kiosk supported by four heavy posts which are
respectively red, green, black, and white in colour, and are considered
to symbolize the four corners of the earth. The kiosk has a roof
somewhat resembling that of a temple and is embellished with curtains of
purple-and-white silk which hang down a few feet below the eaves.

The main floor of the amphitheatre is banked up toward the back. The
seats at the ringside are reserved for the participant wrestlers; behind
these are some tiers of chairs which are presumably occupied by the most
frantic fans, and behind the chairs comes a great area of boxes, each
seating from four to six persons. These boxes, like those of a typical
Japanese theatre, do not contain chairs, but are floored with thick
straw mats on which are cushions for the occupants to squat on. The only
division between the boxes is a railing about a foot high. Above the
main floor are two galleries running all the way around the building.
The Imperial box is in the first gallery. People in the galleries sit in
chairs, in front of which are narrow shelf-like tables from which
luncheon may be eaten--for wrestling matches, like the old-style
theatrical performances, last practically all day.

During the first part of the morning, bouts between numerous minor
wrestlers are run off, but at about eleven the building fills up, for
everyone wishes to see the two groups of champions march in. One group
represents East Japan, the other West Japan; each group contains about
twenty men, and their seats are at the eastern and western sides of the
ring, respectively. This representation of East and West is not literal,
but is the traditional division. A man from an Eastern province may be
champion of the West, and vice versa.

Gross-looking creatures, naked to the waist, they enter in single file,
each wearing a long velvet apron, elaborately embroidered and tasselled.
These aprons, which are given to them by their patrons, are removed
before the contests, a loin-cloth and short skirt of fringe being worn
beneath them.

Marching into the ring the champions form a circle and go through a
series of set exercises, clapping their hands in unison, raising their
legs high and stamping their feet violently upon the ground to exhibit
their muscular flexibility. After these exercises they march out again.

Next enter the supreme champions of the Eastern group and of the Western
group--the two great wrestlers of Japan--popular idols who, by reason of
having remained undefeated throughout three or more successive wrestling
meets, are entitled to wear not only the elaborate velvet apron, but a
very thick white rope wound several times about their waists and knotted
in a certain way.

Each of these super-champions is attended on his march to the ring by
two other wrestlers. The one who precedes him is known as the _tsuyu
harai_, or dew-brusher. In theory, he clears the way, brushing dew from
imaginary grass before the feet of the mighty one. The attendant who
brings up the rear is the _tachi mochi_, or sword-bearer; for according
to old Japanese custom no wrestler except a super-champion was allowed
to wear a sword, and though the sword is now only a symbol, the custom
still survives, and the sword of the super-champion must be carried in
behind him.

To one accustomed to the sort of wrestling practised in the Western
world, many of these champions do not look like athletes, since they
are, as a rule, so fat that their paunches bulge like balconies over the
tops of their aprons and loin cloths, and their arms and thighs tremble
like jelly when they walk. Under the Japanese method of wrestling,
however, each match is quickly settled, wherefore endurance is not so
important as great weight and power in the first moment of attack. It is
for this reason that fat wrestlers are usually the most successful. Some
of them have weighed as much as three hundred and fifty pounds. But now
and then there comes along a super-champion like Tachiyama, who is not
very fat, and who conquers by strength, speed, and reach rather than by
mere weight.

When the super-champions have exhibited themselves, the two groups of
lesser champions return and occupy their seats around the ring. The four
referees--retired wrestlers--take seats on cushions, one at each corner
of the kiosk, and the umpire, wearing beautiful flowing silks and a
strange little pointed hat like that of a Buddhist priest, enters the
ring and, holding up the lacquered wooden fan, which is his badge of
office, announces in impressive tones the names of the two men who are
about to meet.

The adversaries then enter the ring and go through the same old series
of stampings and flexings. Each takes a handful of salt from a box at
his side of the ring, puts a little in his mouth and throws the rest
upon the ground before him. This is supposed to have a purifying effect,
not in the antiseptic sense, but in some occult way. Salt is often used
thus in Japan.

Having completed these preliminaries the two men take their positions
facing each other, braced upon all fours. But this apparent readiness by
no means indicates that the contest is commencing. Instead of
immediately attacking, they will often remain thus poised for minutes,
sharply watching each other. Then one of them will get up and take a
drink, or will go for some more salt and throw it in the ring. Also one
or the other will often make a false start, attacking when his adversary
is not ready to accept combat; whereafter the two resume their crouching
attitudes, toes braced, hands on the ground. This sort of thing may
continue for ten or twenty minutes, to the accompaniment of howls from
the fans, who shout the names of their favourites and bellow Japanese
equivalents for such Americanisms as "Go to it!" and "Atta Boy!"

But whereas the period of preparation may often be measured in fractions
of an hour, the actual struggle usually consumes but a few seconds. The
men spring at each other like a pair of savage fighting dogs and the
contest is settled before you know it. There is none of that straining
to get a certain hold, or to break one, which is so characteristic of
our style of wrestling, and you never see the contestants writhing in
deadly embrace upon the floor. The vanquished need not necessarily be
thrown at all, though often he is. If any portion of his body, other
than the soles of his feet, touches the ground, or if (whether he be
thrown or not) any portion of his body touches the ground outside the
ring, that means defeat. In case both men fall, or are forced from the
ring together, the one who first makes contact with the ground, or first
leaves the ring, is vanquished.

Often a man is beaten by being bent over until he is forced to support
himself on one hand, and there have been cases in which decisions were
rendered merely because one man's head was bent down until his top-knot
touched the floor. A wrestler will sometimes win in one hard push,
backing his opponent out of the ring; but in this there is always the
danger that the one being pushed will at the last moment step aside,
causing the adversary's own momentum to carry him beyond the boundary,
thus applying an underlying principle of _jiu-jutsu_,--or _jiudo_, as it
is called in its improved form--in which a man's own strength is used to
defeat him. Frequently, however, there will be a spectacular throw; and
sometimes, when this occurs, the ringside seats, so coveted at wrestling
and boxing matches in this country, are not highly desirable. I have
seen huge wrestlers hurled through the air to land sprawling on their
comrades in their seats.

When a close decision has to be made the umpire confers with the
referees, and at such times the audience and the two opposing groups of
wrestlers are vociferous in support of the contestant they favour.

To the credit of the Japanese be it said, however, that they do not
yell: "Kill the umpire!" when displeased by a decision rendered in
connection with their national sport; that they do not throw bottles at
the umpire, and that it never becomes necessary to give police
protection to an umpire whose judgment has not accorded with that of the
crowd. The Japanese, you see, have not adopted every detail of Western

I must have seen twenty-five or thirty bouts that day. But though I was
interested I cannot pretend to find in Japanese wrestling the qualities
of a really great sport. Skill their wrestlers have, but there is no
call for stamina. Their style of wrestling seems to me to let off where
ours begins.

Japanese life runs at lower pressure than our life. There is not the
nervous rush about it. Matters move at a more comfortable pace, and
people seem to have more patience. An American crowd would become
restless over the interminable preliminaries of each Japanese wrestling
bout, and would find the bout itself unsatisfactory because of its
brevity and the lack of sustained effort. The Japanese, on the other
hand, seem always to be willing to wait for something to happen. One
notices this in innumerable ways. Motion pictures made in Japan are
likely to be, from our point of view, intolerably slow in their action.
So also with the all-day plays of the typical Japanese theatre.

The Japanese business man's custom of taking a day off whenever it
happens to suit him is doubtless due in part to the fact that until
recently Sunday in Japan was just like any other day. There was no
regular day of rest. One day a month was usually appointed as a holiday
for commercial and industrial workers; later it became two days a month;
and at last there developed a custom of making those days the first and
third Sundays of the month. For though Sunday has, of course, no
religious significance in the eyes of the large body of Japanese, it
seemed the most practical day to select for a holiday if only because it
was a day on which the offices of American and European residents were

                               CHAPTER X

    _The Courageous Congressmen--Geisha and Nesan--The Maple
    Club--The Gentleness of Servants--Removable Walls--Dancing
    Girls--A Lesson in the Use of Chopsticks--"Truthful Girl"--A
    Toast in Saké--Drunkenness--My Friend the Amiable Inebriate--The
    Great Rice-Ball Mystery_

It amused me to hear, a little while ago, that a party of our
Congressmen, on a junket in Japan, had been implored by certain pious
Americans over there, to avoid such sinful things as teahouses and
geisha. No doubt the poor devils of Congressmen had fancied they would
be able to lead their own lives five thousand miles from home and
constituents. And evidently they proposed to do it, for they replied
with uncongressmanlike boldness that teahouses and geisha were among the
things they most desired to see. That pleased me not only because it
showed that a Congressman can be spunky--even though he has to go to
another hemisphere to do it--but because it showed a normal human
interest in what is assuredly a very curious phase of life.

I, too, was interested in tea houses and geisha, and I made it a point
to find out as much about them as I could.

The first geisha I saw were in attendance at a luncheon for some forty
persons--about half of them Americans--given by a Tokyo gentleman for
the purpose of showing us what a purely Japanese luncheon was like. It
was held at the Maple Club, a large, rambling Japanese-style building
standing in charming gardens in the midst of one of the Tokyo parks--a
Far Eastern equivalent of such Parisian restaurants as the Café
d'Armenonville or the Pré Catelan.

As we alighted from our rickshas a flock of smiling serving maids
appeared in the doorway to greet us, indicating to us that we were to
sit on the high door-step and have our shoes removed by the blue-clad
coolies who were in attendance--each with the insignia of the Maple Club
in a large design upon the back of his coat. (If you wish the coolie who
draws your ricksha or does other work for you to wear your crest you
supply his costume and pay him a few cents extra per day.)

When our shoes had been checked and our feet encased in soft woollen
slippers like bed-bootees, we were bowed into the building and escorted
through a series of rooms with soft straw-matted floors and walls of
wood and paper. Emerging upon an outer gallery of highly polished wood,
we followed it, looking out over the lovely garden as we moved along,
and finally reached a flight of stairs, also of wood having a satiny
polish, which led to the banquet hall. Our escorts on this journey were
several little Japanese maids in pretty kimonos, who, though they spoke
no English, talked to us in soft international smiles. No one without a
sweet nature could smile the smile of one of these Japanese serving
maids. They are called _nesan_, meaning literally "elder sister." This
familiar appellation is generally used in speaking to a maidservant
whose name one does not know, and in the term is revealed a hint of the
beautiful relationship which exists in Japan between master and servant,
whether in a private house or a Japanese inn. In the great cities this
old relationship is to some extent breaking down as Japan becomes
Westernized, but in Japanese hotels and country inns, and in prosperous
homes one sees it still. Service is rendered with a grace and
friendliness which make it very charming. Even about the menservants in
the houses of the rich there is nothing of the flunkey spirit. The
Japanese manservant generally wears silken robes which give him a fine
dignity and make it difficult, sometimes, to differentiate him from
members of the family. He is extremely polite, but not rigid. You feel
that he is a self-respecting _man_. As for maidservants, they are like
so many pet butterflies. One of Japan's strongest claims to democracy,
it seems to me, is founded on the attitude existing between master and

    [Illustration: No one without a sweet nature could smile the
    smile of one of these tea-house maids. They are called
    _nesan_--"elder sister"]

Those who have visited Japan, yet who do not agree with me as to the
exquisite courtesy of the Japanese servant, will be those whose stopping
places have been European-style hotels in the large cities. In such
hotels the service is often poor and one occasionally encounters a
servant who is surly and ill-mannered. I encountered one such in
Kobe--said to be the rudest city in Japan. But by the time I ran across
him I had seen enough of the real Japan to know what such rudeness
signified. It showed merely that in this individual case native courtesy
had been worn away by contact with innumerable ill-bred foreigners.

But to return to our luncheon.

As a concession to American custom our host greeted us with a handshake,
and his Japanese guests walked in and shook hands instead of dropping to
their knees on entering and bowing to the floor according to the old
national custom.

The room, which was large, well illustrated the elasticity of the
Japanese style of building. Five or six private dining rooms usually
occupied this section of the house, but for the requirements of the
present occasion the walls forming these rooms had been removed making
the entire area into one spacious chamber. It is a simple matter to
remove such walls, since they consist only of a series of screens of
wood and paper which slide in grooves and can easily be lifted out and
put away in closets. And let me add that, though the climate of Japan is
very damp, the Japanese use such thoroughly seasoned wood, and work in
wood so admirably, that I never once found a sliding screen that stuck
in its grooves.

    [Illustration: Cocoons--Five thousand silk worms eat 125 lbs. of
    mulberry leaves and yield eight skeins of silk, which make one

For the meal we knelt upon silk cushions laid two or three feet apart
around three walls of the room. As the weather was chilly there stood
beside each of us a brazier, or hibachi, consisting of a pot of live
charcoal standing in a wooden box. The Japanese love of finish in all
things is shown in the careful way they have of banking the ashes in a
hibachi, and making neat patterns over the top of them.

In front of each of us was placed a little table of red lacquer about a
foot high, with an edge like that of a tray, and on this table were
sundry covered bowls of lacquer and of china, and little dishes
containing sour pickles and a pungent, watery brown sauce. In front of
every one or two guests knelt a nesan, presiding over a covered
lacquered tub, containing boiled rice, which is eaten with almost
everything, and even mixed with green tea and drunk with it out of the

Also, in attendance upon each guest, there was a geisha. Some of the
geisha were women perhaps twenty years old, wearing handsome dark
kimonos which they generally carried with a great deal of style, but
others were little _maiko_, dancing girls, in brilliant-coloured kimonos
with the yard-long sleeves of youth. The youngest of these was perhaps
twelve years of age, while the oldest may have been sixteen.

As I afterward learned, there is a vast difference between various
grades of geisha. Those present at this luncheon were among the most
popular in Tokyo. They were truly charming creatures, sweet-faced,
soft-eyed and gentle, with beautiful manners and much more poise than is
shown by the average Japanese lady. For Japanese ladies are not, as a
rule, accustomed to our sort of mixed social life, in which husbands and
wives take part together, whereas geisha are in the business of
entertaining men and presumably understand men as women seldom do.

Since few geisha speak English, and very few Americans speak Japanese,
we travellers from abroad are rather outsiders with the geisha, and our
appreciation of them must be largely ocular. But a geisha can come as
near to carrying on a wordless conversation as any woman can. Mine
smiled at me, filled my shallow little cup with warm saké from time to
time, and showed me how to use my chop-sticks. I found the lesson most
agreeable, and was presently rewarded by being told, through the
Japanese friend at my side, that for a beginner I was doing very well.

If you want to know what it is like to eat with chop-sticks try sitting
on the floor and eating from a bowl, placed in front of you, with a pair
of pencils or thick knitting needles. It is a dangerous business, and
the risk is rendered greater by the fact that the Japanese do not wear
napkins in their laps, and that to soil the spotless matting is about
the greatest sin the barbarian outlander can commit. The Japanese napkin
is a small soft towel which is brought to one warm and damp, in a little
basket. It is used on the face and hands as a wash-cloth and is then

    [Illustration: Family luncheon à la Japonaise. The serving maid
    is kneeling in the corner at the back. If you would essay eating
    with chopsticks, try it with a pair of heavy knitting needles]

Presently my geisha called one of her sisters in the craft to witness my
progress with the chop-sticks. The new arrival was named
Jitsuko--otherwise "truthful girl"--and she seemed to be quite the most
fashionable of them all. Her kimono, with its dyed-out decorations and
its five ceremonial crests, was very handsome and was worn with great
_chic_, her obi was a gorgeous thing richly patterned in gold brocade,
and I noticed that she wore upon it a pin containing a very fine large
diamond--a most unusual sort of trinket in Japan. Also she wore a ring
containing a large diamond. Nor was this foreign note purely
superficial. For, to my delight, Jitsuko spoke to me in English. She was
one of Tokyo's two English-speaking geisha, and as I later learned, had
the honour of being nominated as the geisha to entertain the Duke of
Connaught at dinners he attended at the time of his visit to the
Japanese capital.

Jitsuko and the other geisha talked together about me. Then Jitsuko paid
me the compliment of saying that they agreed in thinking that I looked a
little bit like a Japanese. I thanked her, and returned the compliment
in kind, saying that I thought they also looked like Japanese, and very
pretty ones, whereat they both giggled.

By this time we had established an _entente_ so cordial that it seemed
fitting that we should drink to each other. Aided by the gentleman at my
side and by Jitsuko, I learned the proper formalities of this ceremony.
First I rinsed my saké cup in a lacquer bowl provided for the purpose,
then passed it to Jitsuko. The preliminary rinsing indicated that she
was now to fill the cup and drink. Had I passed it to her without
rinsing, it would have meant that she was to refill it for me--for a
geisha never "plies" one with saké but waits for the cup to be passed.
When she had sipped the saké she in turn rinsed the cup, refilled it,
and handed it to me to drink. Thus the friendly rite was completed.

I had heard that saké was extremely intoxicating, but that is not so. It
is rice wine, almost white in colour, and is served sometimes at normal
temperature and sometimes slightly warm. It is rather more like a pale
light sherry than any other Occidental beverage, but it lacks the full
flavour of sherry, having a mild and not unpleasant flavour all its own.
On the whole I rather liked saké, and I found myself able to detect the
difference between ordinary saké and saké that was particularly good.
While on this subject I may add that liquor of all sorts flows freely in
Japan. Saké is the one alcoholic beverage generally served with meals in
the Japanese style, but at the European-style luncheons and dinners I
attended two or three kinds of wine were usually served, and there were
cocktails before and sometimes liqueurs afterward. The Japanese have
also taken up whisky-drinking to some extent. They import Scotch whisky
and also make a bad imitation Scotch whisky of their own. But saké still
reigns supreme as the national alcoholic drink, and when you see a
Japanese intoxicated you may be pretty sure that saké--a lot of
saké--did it.

In my evening strolls, particularly in the gay, crowded district of
Asakusa Park in Tokyo--a Japanese Coney Island, full of theatres,
motion-picture houses, animal shows, conjuring exhibitions, teahouses,
bazaars and the like, surrounding a great Buddhist temple--I saw many
intoxicated men, but I never came upon one who was ugly or troublesome.
Whether because of some quality in the Japanese nature, or in the saké,
this drink seems only to make gay, talkative and sometimes boisterous
those who have taken too much of it. I should not be surprised if the
Japanese need alcoholic stimulants rather more than other races need
them. For one thing the climate of Japan, except in the mountains, is
enervating; and for another, the Japanese nature is generally repressed,
and saké tends to liberate it.

I noticed this at another entertainment in Tokyo--a dinner of newspaper
editors. Being the only foreigner there, and being enormously interested
in the problems connected with relations between the United States and
Japan, I launched forth, telling them my views in the hope of learning
theirs. But although I sensed that they did not agree with all I said,
their responses exhibited only the sort of polite tolerance that a
courteous host will show a somewhat obstreperous guest. For some time I
felt that I had acted like a bad boy at a party. But after the geisha
had filled our cups with saké more than once, I got what I was looking
for--an argument. It was a polite argument, but we had become friendly
enough to speak frankly. _In saké veritas._

This was a case of just enough saké, but so far as I was able to
observe, even too much saké produces no very objectionable results. I
shall never forget the young man, brightly illuminated with this
beverage, who came up to me one evening on the street, in a small town.
He was full of a desire to practise English on me and to help me. He
didn't care what he helped me to do. He would help me to buy whatever I
wanted to buy, go wherever I wanted to go, or stay wherever I wanted to

I explained to him that I was only strolling about while waiting for a
train and that it was now time for me to return to the station.

"Wait!" he cried. "I like you. I am drawn to you. I have been in
America. I can talk to you. We are friends. Wait!" He looked about him
hurriedly, then darted into a near-by shop.

In a moment he emerged and came running toward me bearing in his
extended hand a curious-looking object, resembling, as nearly as I could
see in the dim light, a somewhat soiled popcorn ball. This he pressed
into my hand with a generous eagerness which could not fail to convey to
me the fact his heart went with the gift.

"It is a present. It is for you. You will remember me. Another kind
might be better, but you are in a hurry."

My fingers grasped something heavy but yielding and glutinous. As I
thanked my new-found friend I examined it. It was a ball of rice
somewhat larger than a baseball. Scattered through it were brown objects
the precise nature of which I was unable to determine. I might very
accurately have told the donor that I was "stuck on" his present, since
the mass in my hand was held in form not merely by the cohesiveness of
the rice, but also by some substance of the nature of molasses.

We parted. I moved toward the railroad station where my family and
friends were waiting with Yuki, our invaluable maid. As I walked along I
studied the object. Obviously it was intended to be eaten. Yet there
were other purposes to which it might be put. It was a thing that a Sinn
Feiner would like to have in his hand as the British Premier passed by
in a silk hat. Charley Chaplin would have known what to do with it. It
was heavier than a custard pie and fully as dramatic.

My first impulse was to drop it as soon as I could do so unobserved; but
the thought occurred to me that it was probably a Japanese delicacy, and
that Yuki might like it; wherefor I carried it to the station.

When I offered it to Yuki she looked surprised. Her refusal was
courteous but determined.

"Where Mr. Street get that?" she demanded.

"A man gave it to me. Here, you take it."

Yuki giggled and stepped back.

"But what the man give it to Mr. Street for?"

"A present. What's the matter with it? Isn't it good to eat?"

"Yes--good to eat."

"Why don't you take it, then?"

Giggling, she shook her head.

"But Yuki--I don't understand. What's the joke?"

Shaking with merriment she whispered to my wife. It developed that the
saké-inspired Japanese had presented me with a tidbit specially prepared
for prospective mothers.

All things considered it seemed advisable to get rid of it at once. I
threw it on the railroad track.

                               CHAPTER XI

    _A Japanese Meal--Other Meals--Smoking and the Duty on
    Cigars--Japanese Music--Geisha Dancing--What Is a Geisha?--Their
    Refinement--Autumn Leaves--Filial Piety and Certain Horrors

As the luncheon at the Maple Club was my first meal in the Japanese
style I had not realized the volume of such a repast. I ate too much of
the first few courses, and as a result found myself unable to partake of
the last two thirds of the feast. The amount of food was simply
stupendous. I might have realized this in advance, and governed myself
accordingly, had I looked at the menu. But I failed to do so until
driven to it by my surprise as course after course was served. This was
the bill of fare:

                              FIRST TABLE

                      _Hors d'oeuvres--Vegetables_
              _Soup--terrapin with quail eggs and onions_
                  _Baked fish with sea-hedgehog paste_
              _Raw fish with horseradish and eutrema root_
                    _Fried prawns and deep-sea eels_
         _Duck, fish-cake and vegetables in egg soup, steamed_
                       _Roast duck with relishes_

When this much had been served the nesans took up the little tables from
in front of us and went trooping out of the room. As I had already eaten
what amounted to about three normal dinners, I concluded that the meal
was over, but not so. In they came again bearing other little lacquered
tables of the same pattern as the first, but slightly smaller;
whereupon, as it seemed to me, an entire second luncheon was served. The
menu was as follows:

                              SECOND TABLE

                      _Hors d'oeuvres--Vegetables_
                            _Fish consommé_
                             _Grilled eels_
                          _Pickled vegetables_

I am told that indigestion is a prevalent ailment of the Japanese, and
as regards prosperous persons who do no hard physical work I can readily
believe it. The toiling coolie is the only man in Japan who might
reasonably be expected to digest an elaborate Japanese meal, and he, of
course, never gets one, but subsists almost entirely upon a diet of rice
and fish.

Though some Japanese dishes are found palatable by Americans there are
many things we miss in the Japanese cuisine. It lacks variety.
Breakfast, luncheon, and dinner are composed of about the same dishes.
The divers well-cooked vegetables which form such an important part of
our diet are entirely absent from theirs, nor do they have stewed
fruits, salads, sweets, or the numerous meats to which we are

Of their best-known table delicacies it may be said that grilled eels
with rice are very good; that the pink fish, the flesh of which is eaten
raw, is pleasing to the eye and by no means unpalatable when dipped in
the accompanying _shoyu_, a brown sauce not unlike Worcestershire, made
from soy beans; that though they have no cream soups, some of their
soups are pleasant to the taste, albeit they have the peculiarity of
being either thin and watery on the one hand, or of the consistency of
custard on the other; that bamboo shoots are rather tough, lily roots
sweet and succulent, and quail eggs delicious. The Japanese, by the way,
domesticate the quail for its eggs, regard the cow not as a milch animal
but as a beast of burden, and cultivate the cherry tree not for its
fruit but for its flower.

The diet of ancient Japan was even less varied than that of to-day, for
more than a thousand years ago the Japanese became vegetarians, and for
some centuries thereafter adhered scrupulously to the Buddhistic
injunction against killing living creatures. For several hundred years
they even abjured fish, but by degrees they have fallen away from the
strict observance of the vegetarian doctrine, until to-day a Japanese
who is at all sophisticated will thoroughly enjoy a dinner in the
European style, beef and all. Indeed many of those who have travelled
abroad and acquired a taste for foreign cookery make it a point to have
at least one of their daily meals prepared in the foreign fashion.

Government officials or wealthy cosmopolitans who entertain on a large
scale usually do so in the European manner. A banquet at the Imperial
Hotel in Tokyo is much like a banquet in New York, and one at the
Bankers' Club is even more so, except that the meal itself is likely to
be better than at our banquets. To dine with a large gathering at the
Peers' Club is like dining at some great club or official residence in
Paris; while as for the cocktail hour at the Tokyo Club, I cannot
imagine anything in the world more completely and delightfully

An important part of the equipment for a meal in the pure Japanese style
is a smoker's outfit, consisting of a tray on which stands a small urn
of live charcoal, and a bamboo vase with a little water in it--the
former for lighting the tobacco, the latter a receptacle for ashes. The
native smoke is a tiny pipe, called a two-and-a-half-puff pipe, with a
bowl as small as a child's thimble. Finely shredded Japanese tobacco is
smoked in this pipe, which is used by men and women alike, and the
constant refilling and relighting of it seem to figure as a part of the
pleasure of smoking. The Japanese smoke cigarettes also, and cigars, but
the tobacco industry of Japan, like that of France, is a government
monopoly, with the result that, as in France, good cigarettes and cigars
are difficult to obtain.

A visit to a government tobacco factory left me with the impression
that, from the point of view of management, mechanical equipment, and
perhaps also labour conditions, the plant would compare not unfavourably
with some large tobacco manufactories in our own Southern States; but as
to the product of this factory, the best of which I sampled, I can
pretend to no enthusiasm. Japanese tobacco goes well enough in the
little native pipes, but it does not make good cigarettes or cigars, and
even the cigarettes made of blended tobaccos, or from pure Virginia or
Egyptian leaves, would hardly satisfy a critical taste. Cigars made in
Japan are uniformly poor, like the government-made cigars of France, but
whereas in France it is possible to buy a good imported Havana, I found
none for sale in Japan. One reason for this is that the duty on cigars
is 355 per cent., so that only a millionaire can afford good Havanas.

                   *       *       *       *       *

Whether because the enormous luncheon at the Maple Club left me in a
stupor, or because my mind could not adjust itself quickly to
appreciation of an unfamiliar and extremely curious art, I did not find
myself enchanted by the shrill falsetto singing of the geisha musicians,
or the strange sounds they evoked from the samisen, fife and drums, as
they accompanied the dancers.

The native Japanese music, with its crude five-tone scale, is
demonstrably inferior to that of Western peoples. To the foreign ear it
is unmelodious, even barbarous, and yet I must say for it that the more
I heard it the more I felt in it a kind of weird appeal--an appeal not
to the ear but to the imagination. Even now, when I am far away from
Japan, a note or two struck on a guitar, a mandolin, or a ukulele, in
imitation of the samisen, conjures up vivid pictures in my mind. I see a
narrow geisha street, with a musician seated in an upper window, or I
get a vision of a geisha dancer arrayed in brilliant silks, posturing,
fan in hand, against a background of gold screens, in the exquisitely
chaste simplicity of a Japanese teahouse room. The sound that evokes the
picture is not harmonious, but the picture itself is harmonious beyond

One thing that sometimes makes the stranger in Japan slow to appreciate
the dancing of geisha, is the very fact that it is called dancing; for
the term suggests to us a picture of Pavlowa poised like a swiftly
flying bird, or Genée looking like a bisque doll and spinning on one
toe. Dancing, to us, means, first of all, rhythm. We look for rhythm in
a geisha dance, and failing to find it--at least in the sense in which
we understand the meaning of the word--we are baffled. It is only one
more case of preconception as a barrier to just appreciation.

Many travellers, and at least one author who has written a book on
Japan, have made the mistake of confusing geisha with prostitutes. This
is a gigantic error. The error is kept alive by ricksha coolies who,
understanding that it is a common mistake of foreigners, often use the
term "geisha house" as meaning an establishment of altogether different
character. A geisha house is in fact simply a house in which geisha live
under the charge of the master or mistress to whom they are bound by
contract or indenture. Geisha are booked through exchanges and meet
their patrons at restaurants or teahouses. When not on duty they are
private citizens, and it would be considered the height of vulgarity for
a man to call upon a geisha at the geisha house, however innocent the
purpose of his call.

A further reason for the erroneous idea of what a geisha is, lies in the
fact that Western civilization has no equivalent class. Geisha
correspond more nearly to cabaret entertainers than to any other class
we have, yet even here there is no real parallel. It is not customary in
Japan--except in foreign-style hotels--to dine in public. If a man be
alone in a hotel he dines by himself in his room, save that the little
nesans who serve him will try to make themselves agreeable and that the
proprietor may do the same. Or if a man gives a luncheon or a dinner
party at a restaurant he will have a private room. Therefore, under the
Japanese system, there is never a general assemblage of persons,
strangers to one another, who may be entertained as a body while they
are dining. Thus the geisha is a private entertainer, and in order that
the most desirable geisha may be secured it is customary to make
arrangements for a luncheon or dinner several days in advance. This is
usually done through the proprietor of the restaurant, who is told the
names of the geisha the host desires to summon, and who notifies them
through the local geisha exchange.

Men who frequently lunch and dine out naturally become acquainted with
many geisha, and have their preferences; and if a host knows that one of
his guests particularly likes a certain geisha he will generally try to
arrange to have her at his party.

There are three classes of geisha. Those of the best class frequently
have good incomes. They are often given large presents by their wealthy
patrons, and many of them are the mistresses of men of means, who
sometimes take them off on week-end outings and spend a great deal of
money on them.

However this may be, a geisha of the first class is a creature of
exquisite refinement of manner, and there is about her not the faintest
suggestion of coarseness. She will be friendly, even pleasantly
familiar, but never, in public, is she guilty of the slightest
impropriety. I have been to many gay parties in Japan, but I have never
seen a geisha or her patron behave in a way that would shock the most
fastidious American lady. Naturally the situation is somewhat different
among low-class Japanese and the geisha they patronize. There are vulgar
geisha to entertain vulgar men. But even a low-class geisha, if sent for
in an emergency to entertain a man of taste, will often be sufficiently
clever to adjust herself to the situation.

During the meal the geisha will sit before or beside the gentleman she
is designated to entertain, chatting with him, amusing him and serving
him with saké. Afterward she will join the other geisha in giving an
entertainment, the part she takes in this depending upon her special
talent, which may be for singing, playing, or dancing. Pretty young
geisha are most often dancers, while those who are older are generally
musicians. Also there are some geisha who are merely bright and pleasing
and who succeed without other accomplishments. The host, making up a
party, selects his geisha with these various requirements in mind, so
that his whole company of geisha will be well balanced.

Foreigners are generally most taken with the little dancing girls, or
maiko, who are mere children, and who with their sweet, bright, happy
little faces, and their bewitchingly brilliant flowered-silk costumes,
are altogether fascinating. Once at a party in a great house in Tokyo I
saw a score of these little creatures scampering down a broad flight of
stairs, making a picture that was like nothing so much as a mass of
autumn leaves blown by a high wind.

These children are in effect apprentices who are being schooled in the
geisha's arts. Often they are in this occupation because their parents
have sold them into it as a means of raising money. With the older
geisha it is frequently the same. The Japanese teaching of filial piety
makes it incumbent upon a daughter to become a geisha, or even a
prostitute, to relieve the financial distress of her parents. In either
case she goes under contract for a term of years--usually three.

A girl who is refined, pretty, and talented can raise a sum in the
neighbourhood of a thousand dollars by becoming a geisha, but if she is
not sufficiently talented or attractive to be a geisha, her next
resource is the "nightless city." The opening to women of professional
and commercial opportunities should tend to improve this situation.

I am told that geisha and the little dancing girls are generally kindly
treated by the geisha-masters, and the gaiety they exhibit leads me to
conclude that this is true. The little dancers, in particular, want but
slight encouragement to become as playful as kittens.

                              CHAPTER XII

    _I Entertain at a Teahouse--Folk Dances--The Sense of Form--The
    Organization of Society--Jitsuko Helps me Give a Party--Pretty
    Kokinoyou--Geisha Games--Rivalries of Geisha--The Cherry Dance
    at Kyoto--Theatre Settings--Unmercenary Geisha--Teahouse
    Romances--Restaurants, Cheap and Costly--Reflections on Reform_

            "'Tis pleasing to be schooled in a strange tongue
            By foreign lips and eyes...."


The way to see geisha and maiko to the best advantage is at small
parties where the guests are well acquainted and formality can be to
some extent cast off. I was much pleased when I learned enough of the
ways of teahouses and geisha to be able to give such a party.

My first essay as host at a Japanese dinner was not, however, entirely
independent, since I had the help of a Japanese friend. It occurred at
the charming Maruya teahouse, in the ancient town of Nara.

    [Illustration: The theatre street in Kyoto is one of the most
    interesting highways in the world]

It was at the Maruya that I first began to feel some real understanding
and appreciation of geisha dancing, and I think the thing that assisted
me most was the fact that the little maiko executed several Japanese
folk dances, the action of which, unlike that of most geisha dances, was
to a large extent self-explanatory. One of these dances represented
clam-digging. In it the dancers held small trays which in pantomime they
used as shovels, going through the motion of digging the clams out of
the sand and throwing them into a basket. The dance was accompanied by a
song, as was also another folk dance in which two of the maiko enacted
the rôles of lovers who were obliged to part because the mother of the
girl was forcing her to marry a rich man. I was interested to notice in
this dance that the gesture to indicate weeping--the holding of one hand
in front of the eyes at a distance of two or three inches from them--is
not taken from life, but is copied from the gesture of dolls in the
marionette theatre. That is the gesture for a man. When a woman weeps
she holds her sleeve-tab before her eyes, for it is a tradition that
women dry their tears with their sleeves. When in Japanese poetry moist
sleeves are spoken of, the figure of speech signifies that a woman has
been weeping.

    [Illustration: Digging clams at low-tide in Tokyo Bay]

The girls who executed the last-mentioned folk dance were respectively
thirteen and fifteen years old, and they were evidently much amused by
the passionate utterances they were obliged to deliver. The one who
played the part of the youth--a fetching little creature with a roguish
face--was unable at times to restrain her mirth as she recited the
tragic and romantic lines, and her rendition of them was punctuated by
little explosions of giggling, which though they cannot be said to have
heightened the dramatic effect of the sad story, her audience found most
contagious. Then with a great effort she would pull herself together and
try to live down the mirthful outburst, lowering her voice, to imitate
that of a man, and assuming a tragic demeanor which, in a creature so
sweet and childish, habited in silken robes that made her like a
butterfly, was even more amusing.

People who follow the arts, or have a feeling for them, seldom fail to
appreciate geisha dancing after they have seen enough of it to get an
understanding of what it is. This, I think, is because they generally
have a sense of form, and as geisha dancing is a sort of animated
_tableau vivant_, a sense of form is the one thing most essential to an
appreciation of it.

Indeed I will go further and proclaim my belief that, to a visitor who
would really understand Japan, a sense of form is a vital necessity.

Japan is all form. In Japanese art even colour takes second place. Nor
does the Japanese feeling for form by any means stop where art ends. It
permeates the entire fabric of Japanese life. The formal courtesy of old
French society was as nothing to the formal courtesy of the Japanese.
The whole life of the average Japanese is so regulated by form that his
existence seems to progress according to a sort of geometrical pattern.
The very nation itself is organized in such a way as to suggest a
compact artistic composition. Not only every class, but every family and
individual has an exact place in the structure. A friend of mine who
knows Japan as but few foreigners do, goes so far as to say that the
shades of difference between individuals are so finely drawn that no two
persons in Japan are of exactly the same social rank, and that the
precise position of every man in the country can be established
according to the codes of Japanese formalism. Though this may be an
exaggeration it expresses what I believe to be essentially a truth. I
visualize the social and political structure of Japan as a great pyramid
in which the blocks are families. At the bottom are the submerged
classes--among them, down in the mud of the foundation, the _eta_ or
pariah class. Then come layers of families representing the voteless
masses, among which the merchant class was in feudal times considered
the lowest. Next come the little taxpayers who vote, and these pile up
and up to the place where the more exalted classes are superimposed upon
them--for in Japan it may be said that there is practically no middle
class. I am told that there are now about a million families who are
descended from samurai. This is where the aristocracy begins. So the
pyramid ascends. Layers of lower officials; layers of higher officials,
layers of ex-officials, high and low; layers of those having decorations
from the Government; layers of army and navy families, and so on to
where, very near the summit, are placed the _Genro_, or elder statesmen.
Above them is a massive block representing the Imperial Family, and at
the very peak, is the Emperor, Head of all Heads of Families.

My party in Nara having given me confidence, I gave a luncheon at the
delightful Kanetanaka teahouse which overlooks a canal in the Kyobashi
district of Tokyo.

I cannot claim much credit for the fact that this party was a success,
since Jitsuko, the English speaking geisha I met at my first Japanese
luncheon, was there to help me. Jitsuko's English, I must own, was not
perfect. Nor would I have had it so, for I enjoyed teaching her, and
learning from her.

"Naughty boy!" was one expression that I taught her, and I showed her
how to accompany the phrase with an admonitory shake of the finger, with
results which altogether charmed the American gentlemen at my luncheon.

One of these gentlemen, a new arrival in Japan and consequently entirely
unfamiliar with Japanese fare, asked Jitsuko about a certain dish that
was set before him.

"What is this?" he demanded, looking at it doubtfully.

"That fried ears," said Jitsuko.

"Fried ears!" he cried. "Not really?"


But it was not fried ears. Jitsuko had the usual trouble with her _l_'s
and _r_'s. She had meant to say "fried eels."

Besides Jitsuko I had at my luncheon six of the lovely little maiko. One
of them, an intelligent child called Shinobu--"tiptoes"--was picking up
a little English. She sent for ink and a brush and wrote out for me the
names of her companions. Later I had the names translated, getting the
meaning of them in English--for geisha generally take fanciful names.
They were: Kokinoyou--"little alligator"[1]; Akika--"scent of autumn";
Komon--"little gate"; Shintama--"new ball"; and Kimi-chiyo, whose name
was not translated for me, but who was the prettiest little dancing girl
I saw in all Japan.

    [1] "What a queer name!" a Japanese friend writes me. And he
        adds: "Your translation cannot be right. A little alligator
        might be taken for a mascot in America, but it could never
        be the name of a dainty little geisha."

Though the Japanese idea of female loveliness does not generally accord
with ours, I think Kimi-chiyo was an exception and was as lovely in
native eyes as in those of an American, for she seemed very popular, and
was at almost every Japanese-style party I attended in Tokyo. Moreover,
though she could not have been older than sixteen, she carried herself
with the placid confidence of an established belle. I have met many a
lady twice or three times her age who had not her aplomb.

    [Illustration: The little dancing girl at the right, Kimi-chiyo,
    was at almost every Japanese-style party I attended in Tokyo.
    She carried herself with the placid confidence of an established

After luncheon the maiko danced for us while Jitsuko and another geisha
played. Then, as my guest of honour had not yet acquired a taste for
geisha dancing, the programme was changed and Jitsuko set the little
maiko to playing games. First they showed us how to play their great
game of _ken_, but though we learned it we could not compete with them
in playing it. They were too quick for us. We pitched quoits with
them--and were beaten. We played bottle-and-cup--and were beaten. And
finally they introduced us to a Japanese version of "Going to
Jerusalem," which they play with cushions instead of chairs, with the
samisen for music. Of course they beat us at that. Who can sink down
upon a cushion with the agility of a little Japanese girl? All in all,
the Americans were beaten at every point--and thoroughly enjoyed the

I could tell a story about the president of one of the greatest
corporations in America. He was at my luncheon. He is a very dignified
and formidable man, and is considered able. But he can't play ken worth
a cent. Kimi-chiyo herself said so. She told Jitsuko and Jitsuko told

"In America he is a great man," I said.

"He is very slow at ken," Kimi-chiyo insisted, unimpressed.

"In business he is not slow," I told her.

"Perhaps. But any one who is really clever will be quick at ken."

I decided to avoid the game of ken in future. It shows one up.

                   *       *       *       *       *

Between the geisha of the various great cities there exists a gentle
rivalry. Kyoto, for example, concedes a certain vivacity to the geisha
of the five or six leading districts of Tokyo, but it insists that the
Kyoto geisha have unrivalled complexions, and that the famous Gion
geisha of Kyoto are more perfect in their grace and charm than any
others in Japan. This they account for by the fact that the Gion geisha
have a long and distinguished history, and that there is a geisha school
in Kyoto, whereas the Tokyo geisha have no school but are trained by
older geisha under the supervision of the master of the individual
geisha-house to which they are attached. Similarly the Tokyo geisha
consider those of Kyoto rather "slow," and regard the Yokohama geisha as
distinctly inferior. Once I asked a Tokyo geisha to give a dance of
which I had heard, but she replied with something like a shrug that the
dance in question was given by the Yokohama geisha, wherefore, she and
her associates did not perform it.

So far as I know there is not to be seen in Tokyo or Yokohama any large
geisha show, resembling a theatrical entertainment, such as one may see
in Kyoto in cherry-blossom season, or at the Embujo Theatre in Osaka
every May. These exhibitions are delightful things to see, the Cherry
Dance of Kyoto, in particular, being famous throughout Japan. The
buildings in which they are held are impressive. The one in Kyoto was
built especially for the Cherry Dance, and the interior of it, while in
a general way like a large theatre, is modelled after the style of an
old Japanese palace. The geisha dancers and musicians are splendidly
trained and the costumes are magnificent.

Rapid changes of scene are made in these theatres by means unfamiliar to
American theatre-goers. As in our playhouses, flies and drops are
sometimes hoisted upward when a scene is being changed, but quite as
frequently they sink down through slots in the stage floor. Also, in the
dimness of a "dark change" one sees whole settings going through
extraordinary contortions, folding up in ways unknown in our theatres,
or turning inside-out, or upside-down. One feels that their stage is
generally equipped with less perfect mechanical and lighting devices
than ours, but that a great deal of ingenuity is shown in the actual
building of scenery. One of the most astonishing things I ever saw in
any theatre was the sudden disappearance of a back-drop at the Embujo in
Osaka. The bottom of this drop began all at once to contract; then the
whole funnel-shaped mass shot down through a small aperture in the
floor, like a silk handkerchief passing swiftly through a ring.

The most perfect illusion of depth and distance I ever saw on a stage
was in one scene of the Kyoto Cherry Dance. From the front of the house
the scene appeared to go back and back incredibly. Nor could I make out
where the back-drop met the stage, so skilfully was the painted picture
blended with the built-up scenery. When the performance was over I
inspected this setting and found that the scenic artist had achieved his
result by a most elaborately complete contraction of the lines of
perspective, not only in the painted scenery but in objects on the
stage. A row of tables running from the footlights to the rear of the
stage had been built in diminishing scale, and rows of Japanese
lanterns, apparently exactly alike, became in reality smaller and
smaller as they reached back from the proscenium, so that the whole
perspective was exaggerated. The stage of this theatre was not in fact
so deep as that of the New York Hippodrome or the Century Theatre.

At the geisha dance in Osaka I asked what pay the hundred or more geisha
musicians and dancers received, and was told that they are not paid at
all. There are two reasons for this. First, it is regarded as the duty
of all geisha to celebrate the spring with music and dancing; and
second, they consider it an honour to be selected for these festivals,
since only the most skilful members of their sisterhood are chosen.

Geisha, you see, are not entirely mercenary. When two or three of them
go off for a little outing together, or when they shop, they spend money
freely; and there are stories of geisha who pay their own fees in order
to meet their impecunious lovers at teahouses.

In Japanese romances the geisha is a favourite figure. A popular theme
for stories concerning her is that of her love affair with a student
whose family disown him because of his infatuation. The geisha
sweetheart then supports him while he completes his education. He
graduates brilliantly, securing an important appointment under the
government, and rewards the girl's devotion by making her his bride. Or
if the story be tragic--and the Japanese have a strong taste for
tragedy--the student's family is endeavouring to force him into a
brilliant match, wherefore the self-sacrificing geisha, whom he really
loves, takes her own life, so that she may not stand in the way of his

There was a time a generation or two ago when Japanese aristocrats
occasionally took geisha for their wives, much as young English noblemen
used to marry chorus girls. But those things have changed in Japan and
it is a long time since a man of position has made such a match. The
plain truth is that, however justly or unjustly, the geisha class is not
respected. They are victims of the curious law which operates the world
over to make us always a little bit contemptuous of those whose
occupation it is to amuse us. Moreover, geisha are not as a rule highly
educated, and it is said that this fact makes it difficult for them to
adjust themselves to an elevated place in the social scale.

Thus it comes about that, when geisha marry, their husbands are as a
rule business men or merchants on a modest scale.

Yuki our treasured maid, had a friend who became a geisha, but who
retired from the profession through the matrimonial portal.

"She smart girl," said Yuki. "She too head to be geisha."

"Why did she become one, then?" I asked.

"Her family have great trouble. Her father need fifteen hundred yen
right off. Must have. So she be geisha. But after while she meet rich
man in teahouse, and he pay for her, so she don't have to be geisha any
more, and they get married."

Some excellent people I met in Japan--Americans imbued with the spirit
of reform--objected strongly to the geisha system, contending that it is
a barrier to happy domesticity. They felt that so long as there are
geisha in Japan the average Japanese husband will have them at his
parties, and will continue his present practice of leaving his wife at
home when he goes out for a good time. I suppose this is true.
Undoubtedly, to the Japanese wife, the geisha is the "other woman." And
as is so often the case with the "other woman," in whatever land you
find her, the geisha has certain strategic advantages over the wife.
Like good wives everywhere, the Japanese wife is concerned with humdrum
things--the children, housekeeping, the family finances--the things
which often irritate and bore a husband if harped upon. But the
circumstances in which a husband meets a geisha are genial and gay. Her
business is to make him forget his cares and enjoy himself.

The expense of the geisha system is also urged against it. To dine at a
first-class teahouse, with geisha, costs as much as, or more than, to
dine elaborately at the most expensive New York hotels. It is well for
strangers in Japan to understand this, since they often jump to the
conclusion that the Japanese teahouse, which looks so simple--so
delightfully simple!--by comparison with the gold and marble grandeur of
a great American hotel dining room, must necessarily be cheaper. I
remember a case in which some Americans, newly arrived in Tokyo, were
entertained in the native manner by a Japanese gentleman, and felt that
they were returning the courtesy in royal style when they invited him to
dine with them at their hotel. Yet in point of fact their hotel
dinner-party cost less than half as much per plate as his Japanese
dinner had cost. While one does not value courtesy by what it costs, it
is important not to undervalue it on any basis whatsoever.

There is, of course, a great variation in the cost of meals in teahouses
and restaurants, and the fact that those which are inexpensive look
exactly like those which are expensive helps to confuse the stranger. A
great deal may be saved if one does without geisha. Also there are very
agreeable restaurants in which the guest may cook his own food in a pan
over a brazier which is brought into the dining room.

This chafing-dish style of cooking is said to have been introduced by a
missionary who became tired of Japanese food and formed the habit of
preparing his own meals as he travelled about. Now, however, it has come
to be considered typically Japanese.

There are two names for cooking in this simple fashion. The word
_torinabe_ is derived from _tori_, a bird, and _nabe_, a pot or kettle;
and _gyunabe_ from a combination of the word for a pot with _gyu_, which
means a cow, or beef. The Suyehiro restaurants, having three branches in
Tokyo, are famous for _torinabe_, as well as for an affectation of
elegant simplicity and crudity in chinaware. A good place for the
_gyunabe_ is the Mikawaya restaurant in the Yotsuya section, not far
from the palace of the Crown Prince.

    [Illustration: A bill from the Kanetanaka teahouse, with items
    of ¥ 26.30 for food, saké, etc., and ¥ 27.80 for "six
    saké-servers (geisha) tips to geisha and their attendants."]

To be more specific about prices, I gave an excellent luncheon of this
kind for four, at one of the Suyehiro restaurants, at a cost of about
four dollars and a half, whereas a luncheon for the same number of
persons, with geisha, at a fashionable teahouse, which looked just about
like the other restaurant, cost thirty dollars, and a dinner for eight
with geisha, came to fifty-three. All tips are however included on the
teahouse bill. One does not pay at the time, but receives the bill
later, regular patrons of a teahouse usually settling their accounts

Adversaries of the geisha system informed me with the air of imparting
scandal, that one sixth of all the money spent in Japan goes to geisha
and things connected with geisha, presumably meaning restaurants,
teahouses, saké and the like.

"A reformer," says Don Marquis, the Sage of Nassau Street, "is a dog in
the manger who won't sin himself and won't let any one else sin
comfortably." That is a terrible thing to say. I wouldn't say such a
thing. It is always better in such cases to quote some one else. But I
will say this much: If I were a reformer I should begin work at
home--not in Japan. I should join the great movement, already so well
started, for making the United States the purest and dullest country in
the world. I should work with those who are attempting to accomplish
this result entirely by legislation. But instead of trying, as they are
now trying, to bring about the desired end by means of quantities of
little pious laws covering quantities of little impious subjects, I
should work for a blanket law covering everything--one great, sweeping
law requiring all American citizens to be absolutely pure and good, not
only in action but in thought. I assume that, if such a law were passed,
everybody would abide by it, but in order to make it easier for them to
do so I should abolish restaurants, theatres, motion pictures, dancing,
baseball, talking-machines, art, literature, tobacco, candy, and
soda-water. I should put dictographs in every home and have the police
listen in on all conversations. Light-heartedness I should make a
misdemeanor, and frivolity a crime.

Then, when our whole country had reached a state of perfection that was
absolutely morbid, I should consider my work here done, and should move
to Japan. But I should not stop being a reformer. Assuredly no! I should
start at once to improve things over there. Take for instance this
report that one sixth of all the money spent goes to geisha and such
things. I should try first of all to remedy that situation. One sixth of
the national expenditure represents a vast amount of money. Think of its
being spent on good times! Such a lot of money! Still it isn't quite
enough. A quarter or a third would be better than a sixth. It would make
things perfect. Not being a Japanese wife, I should advocate that.

I see but one serious objection to this plan. Should Japan become any
more attractive than it now is, the Japanese might feel forced to pass
exclusion laws. If they were to do so I hope they would not discriminate
against people of any one race. I hope they would bar out everybody--not
Americans alone. Because if they were to bar us out and at the same time
allow the riffraff of Europe to come in, that might hurt our feelings.
It isn't so hard to hurt our feelings, either. We are a proud and
sensitive race, you know. Yes, indeed! It is largely because we are so
proud and sensitive that we treat the Japanese with such scant courtesy.
That's the way pride and sensitiveness sometimes work. Of course the
Japanese are proud and sensitive, too. But we can't be bothered about
that. We haven't the time. We are too busy being proud and sensitive

                              CHAPTER XIII

    _Commercialized Vice--The Yoshiwara--An Establishment
    Therein--Famous Old Geisha--A "Male Geisha"--The Stately
    Shogi--They Show Us Courtesy--The Merits of the Shogi--Kyoto's
    Shimabara--The Shogi in Romance--The Tale of the Fair Yoshino_

Some Americans are horrified because commercialized vice is officially
recognized in Japan. The thought is unpleasant. But I am by no means
sure that, since this form of vice does exist everywhere in the world,
the policy of recognizing and regulating it is not the best policy.

The Japanese work, apparently, upon the theory that, as this evil cannot
be stamped out of existence, the next best thing is to stamp it as far
as possible out of the public consciousness. This is done by segregating
the women called _shogi_ in certain specified districts, and keeping
them off the city streets.

Whatever may be urged for or against this system it enables me to say of
Japan what I am not able to say of my own country or any other country I
have visited: namely, that in Japan I never saw a street-walker.

The Tokyo district called the Yoshiwara is entered by a wide road
spanned by an arch. Within, the streets look much like other Japanese
streets, save that they are brightly lighted and that some of the
buildings are large and rather ornate. First we went to a teahouse of
the Yoshiwara, and I was readily able to perceive that the geisha in
this teahouse were of a lower grade than those I had hitherto seen.
Their faces were less intelligent, and they lacked the perfect grace and
charm of their more successful sisters.

From the sounds about us it was apparent that a Yoshiwara teahouse is a
place for drinking and more or less wild merrymaking.

Proceeding down the street from this teahouse we passed through orderly
crowds and presently came to the district's most elaborate
establishment. It was a large three-story building of white glazed
brick, with an inner courtyard containing a pretty garden. To enter this
place was like entering a very fine Japanese hotel.

In the corridor hung a row of lacquered sticks each bearing a number in
the Chinese character. There were, I think, about thirty of these
sticks, and each represented a shogi. The number-one shogi was the most
sought-after; number two ranked next, and so on. We were shown by the
proprietress and some maids to a large matted room on the second floor,
where saké, cakes and fruit were served to us. Then there appeared three
geisha of a most unusual kind. They were women fifty-five or sixty years
of age, rather large, with faces genial, amusing, and respectable. These
I was told were geisha with a great local reputation for boisterous wit.
My Japanese friends were thereafter kept in a continual state of mirth,
and though I could not understand what the old geisha were saying, their
droll manner was so infectious that I, too, was amused. Presently they
were joined by a man with the face of a comedian. He was described to me
as a "male geisha." That is, he was an entertainer. He sang, told comic
stories and showed real ability as a mimic.

This entertainment lasted for the better part of an hour. Then the
mistress of the house came in with the air of one having something
important to reveal. At a word from her the entertainers drew back and
seated themselves on cushions at one side of the room. There was an
impressive silence. Slowly, a sliding screen door of black lacquer and
gold paper slipped back, moved by an unseen hand. We watched the open

Presently appeared the figure of a woman. She did not look in our
direction, but moved out into the room as if it had been a stage and she
an actress. Her step was slow and stately, and she was arrayed in a
brilliant robe of red satin, heavily quilted, and embroidered with large
elaborate designs. This was the number-one shogi. Her costume and
bearing were magnificent, but her face was expressionless and not at all

When she was well within the room the number-two shogi, dressed in the
same style, moved in behind her, and followed with the same stately
tread. In procession they walked across the room, turned slowly, trailed
the hems of their wadded kimonos back across the matting, and made an
exit by the door at which they had entered. Then the door slipped shut.

The chatter began once more, but after a few minutes we were again
silenced. For the second time the door opened and the two women
appeared. They were now arrayed in purple kimonos, quilted and
embroidered like the first. Again they made a dignified progress across
the room and back; again they disappeared.

That was the end of the inspection. By now we should, in theory, have
been entranced with one or the other of the shogi we had seen. It was
time to go. But as the Japanese gentleman whom I had asked to bring me
to this place was a man of consequence, an especial courtesy was shown
us ere we departed. In ordinary circumstances we should not have seen
the two women again, but now they unbent so far as to come in and kneel
upon the floor beside us--for we had checked our shoes at the entrance,
and were seated Japanese-fashion upon silk cushions.

My Japanese friends attempted to chat with the shogi, but evidently the
latter did not shine in the arts of conversation. The talk was grave and
unmistakably perfunctory, and after a little while the two arose, bowed
profoundly, with a sort of grandeur, and trailed their wondrous robes
out of the room. It was like seeing in the life a pair of courtesans
from a colour-print by Utamaro. As they went I wondered whether, in the
beginning, they had striven to be geisha instead of shogi, but had been
forced to the Yoshiwara by reason of their lack of talent for music and

Before we left I was shown some of the other rooms of this huge house,
including those of several of the women. The woodwork was like light
brown satin and the matting glistened almost as though it were
lacquered. There were some kakemono and fine painted screens with
old-gold backgrounds, and in the women's rooms were cabinets and
dressing-stands lacquered red and gold. The dressing-stands were of a
height to suit one squatting on the floor. It was as though the top
section of one of our dressing tables were set upon the floor--a mirror
with small drawers at either side.

The mistress and her maids accompanied us to the street door when we
departed. They made profound obeisances, and the mistress declared her
appreciation of the great honour we had paid her by visiting her
establishment. My Japanese friends replied in kind. The whole affair was
conducted with a fine sense of ceremony.

As for the three elderly geisha, they took another way of complimenting
us. Instead of making ceremonious speeches they continued to be gay and
amusing, but they did something which, when geisha do it, is considered
a mark of high respect. They left the place with us, accompanying us as
far as the gate of the Yoshiwara. One of them, a jolly old creature,
with a fine, strong humorous face, linked arms with me as we walked
along, and conversed with me in English. Perhaps the word "conversed"
implies too much. Her entire English vocabulary consisted of the words:
"All right," but she repeated the expression frequently and with
changing intonations which gave a sort of variety.

It was a strange evening, and the strangest part of it was the absence
of vulgarity. I had seen nothing that the most fastidious woman could
not have seen.

As to what treatment is accorded the shogi themselves I cannot say.
Certainly they did not have the air of being happy. Almost all of them
are there because of poverty, and it is said that all live in the hope
that some man will become fond of them and buy them out of the life of
the _joroya_. This I believe occasionally happens. It should be added
that, under the Japanese law, contracts by which women sell themselves,
or are sold by others into this life, are not valid. It may further be
added that all authorities on Japan seem to be in accord with
Chamberlain who says that "the fallen women of Japan are, as a class,
much less vicious than their representatives in Western lands, being
neither drunken nor foul-mouthed." They also have a high reputation for

The name Yoshiwara is not a generic term, though strangers sometimes use
it as if it were, speaking of "a Yoshiwara." Similar districts in other
cities are known by other names--as, for example, the historic
Shimabara, in Kyoto, which dates back about four centuries.

Like the Yoshiwara, the Shimabara has been moved from time to time, with
a view to keeping it away from the heart of the city. History records
that Hideyoshi caused the district to be uprooted and transplanted, and
Ieyasu, the first Tokugawa shogun, did the same, on the ground that it
was too near the palace and the business centre.

I find some odd items in a book giving the history of the Shimabara. It
is said that in the old days only ronin--samurai acknowledging no
overlord--were given charters to operate resorts in the Shimabara, and
that court gentlemen visiting this quarter were required to wear white
garments. There is also the story of a city official who used to meet
now and then upon the streets of Kyoto a beautiful woman riding in a
palanquin. It was his custom to salute her respectfully, for he thought
her a court lady. But one day, upon inquiry, he learned that she was a
courtesan, whereupon he became indignant, and caused the Shimabara
quarter to be again removed, placing it still farther away from the
city's heart.

There is some evidence that in feudal Japan the most admired courtesans
were persons of more consequence than those of to-day. In olden times,
for example, the Shimabara women were considered to rank above geisha,
whereas now the situation is decidedly the reverse.

The stories of certain famous women of the ancient Shimabara are still
remembered, and are favourites with writers of romances. One quaint tale
tells of a beautiful girl named Tokuko, the daughter of a ronin. When
her father and her mother died, leaving her penniless, she went into the
Shimabara. Here, because of her grace, she became known as _Uki-fune_
"floating ship." But she wrote a poem about the cherry blossoms at Mt.
Yoshino, in Yamato Province, a place which for more than ten centuries
has been noted for these blooms, and her poem was so much admired that
she herself came to be called Yoshino.

A rich man's son fell in love with this girl and married her, but when
his father learned what had been her occupation he disowned the youth.
The young couple were however courageous. In a tiny cottage they lived a
happy and romantic life.

One day it happened that the father, caught in a heavy rainstorm, asked
shelter in a little house at the roadside. Here he found a beautiful
young woman playing exquisitely upon the harp-like musical instrument
called the _koto_. She welcomed him charmingly, made him comfortable,
served him tea. When the storm had passed the old man thanked her for
her hospitality and departed. But he had been so struck with her beauty
and grace that he made inquiries about her.

"Ah," exclaimed the one of whom he asked, "she is none other than
Yoshino, wife of your disinherited son!"

Upon hearing this the father relented. He sent for the young couple,
took them to live in his own mansion, and directed the daughter-in-law
to resume her original name, Tokuko--which means "virtue."

However, I have noticed that in Japan and all other lands, romantic
stories making heroines of courtesans have to be dated pretty far back.
The living courtesan is but rarely regarded as a romantic figure. She is
like a piece of common glass.

But a piece of common glass, buried long enough in certain kinds of
soil, acquires iridescence. This iridescence is not actually in the
glass, but exists in a patine which gradually adheres to it. Under a
little handling it will flake off.

I suspect that it is much the same with famous courtesans the world
over. When, after having been buried for a hundred years or so, they
are, so to speak, dug up by novelists and playwrights, there adheres to
them a beautiful iridescent patine.

It is best, perhaps, to refrain from scratching the patine lest we find
out what is really underneath.

    [Illustration: It takes two hours to do a geisha's hair, but the
    coiffure, once accomplished, lasts several days]

                              CHAPTER XIV

    _Japan and Italy--The Sense of Beauty--Poetry--Japanese Poems by
    an American Woman--A Poem on a Kimono--Garden Ornaments--Garden
    Parties and Gifts--The Four Periods of Landscape Gardening--The
    Volcanic Principle in Gardens_

It is interesting to observe that the two races in which highly
specialized artistic feeling is almost universal have, despite their
antipodal positions on the globe, many common problems and one common
blessing. Both Japan and Italy are poor and overpopulated, both are
handicapped by a shortage of arable land and natural resources, both
lack an adequate supply of food and raw materials for manufacturing,
both are mountainous, both are afflicted by earthquakes; but both are
endowed with the peculiar, passionate beauty of landscape which is
nature's compensation to volcanic countries--a beauty suggesting that of
some vivid and ungoverned woman, brilliant, erratic, fascinating,

Where Nature shows herself a great temperamental artist, her children
are likely to be artists, too. As almost all Italians have a highly
developed sense of melody, so almost all Japanese possess in a
remarkable degree the artist's sense of form.

One day in Tokio I fell to discussing these matters with a venerable art
collector, wearing silks and sandals.

"What," he asked me, "are the most striking examples of artistic feeling
that you have noticed in Japan?"

I told him of two things that I had seen, each in itself unimportant.
One was a well-wheel. The well was in a yard beside a lovely little
farmhouse, one story high, with walls of clay and timber, and with a
thick thatched roof, upon the ridge of which a row of purple iris grew.
There was a dainty bamboo fence around the farmyard, with flowering
shrubs behind it, and a cherry tree in blossom. The well-house was
thatched, and the pulley-wheel beneath the thatch seemed to focus the
entire composition. With us such a wheel would have been a thing of
rough cast-iron, merely something for a rope to run over; but this wheel
had been fondly imagined before it was created. Its spokes were not
straight and ugly, but branched near the rim, curving gracefully into it
in such a way as to form the outlines of a cherry-blossom. It was a work
of art.

My other item was a little copper kettle. I saw it in a penitentiary. It
belonged to a prisoner, and every prisoner in that portion of the
institution had one like it. The striking thing about it was that it was
an extremely graceful little kettle, embellished in relief with a
beautiful design. It, too, was a work of art, and there was to me
something pathetic in the evidence it gave that even in this grim place
the claims of beauty were not entirely ignored.

These trifling observations seemed to please my friend, the art

"But," said he, "I think our national love of the beautiful is perhaps
most strongly exhibited in our feeling for outdoor beauty--our
pilgrimages to spots famous for their scenery, our delight in the
cherry-blossom season, the wistaria season, the chrysanthemum season,
and by no means least in our gardens."

Undoubtedly he was right. The feeling for nature among his countrymen is
general, mystical, poetic. Almost all Japanese write poetry. The poems
of many emperors, empresses, and statesmen are widely known; and among
the most celebrated Japanese poems those to Nature in her various
aspects are by far the most numerous.

                   *       *       *       *       *

Let me here digress briefly to mention the interesting custom of _O Uta
Hajime_, or Opening of Imperial Poems, a court function dating from the
ninth century.

Each December the Imperial Household announces subjects for poems which
may be submitted anonymously to the Imperial Bureau of Poems, in
connection with the celebration of the New Year. The poems are examined
by the bureau's experts, who select the best, to be read to the Imperial

The choice for the year 1921 was made from seventeen thousand poems sent
from all parts of the Empire, and when announcement was made of the
names of those whose poems were read at the Court, it was discovered
that, among them was an American lady, Frances Hawkes Burnett, wife of
Col. Charles Burnett, military attaché of the American Embassy at Tokyo.
Mrs. Burnett thus attains the unique distinction of being the only
foreign woman ever to have won Imperial approval with a poem in the
Japanese language.

    [Illustration: Mrs. Charles Burnett in a 15th-Century Japanese
    Court costume. Mrs. Burnett's poems written in Japanese have
    received Imperial recognition]

It is interesting, in this connection, to remark that the lady is a
grand-niece of the late Dr. Francis Lister Hawkes, of New York, who
accompanied Commodore Perry to Japan, and was Perry's collaborator in
the writing of the official record of the voyage, published under the
title, "The Narrative of the Expedition of an American Squadron."

                   *       *       *       *       *

But to return to my friend the art collector.

"Speaking of poetry and the love of Nature," said he, "have you noticed
the kimono of our host's daughter?"

(We were strolling in a lovely private garden as we talked.)

I had noticed it. It was a beautiful costume of soft black silk, the
hem, in front, adorned with a design of cherry-blossoms and an
inscription in the always decorative Chinese character.

"Do you know what the inscription is?" he asked.

I did not.

"It is a poem of her own," he explained; and presently, when in our
stroll we caught up with the young lady, he made me a literal
translation, which might be done over into English verse as follows:

    Farewell, O Capital! I grieve
    Thy lovely cherry-blooms to leave.
    But now to Kioto must I fare
    To view the cherry-blossoms there.

We fell to talking of Japanese gardens.

"You must see some of our fine gardens," he said, "before you leave

I mentioned some I had already seen--the gardens of the Crown Prince,
the Prime Minister, Marquis Okuma, Viscount Shibusawa, Baron Furukawa,
and others.

"But do you understand our theory of the garden?"

I told him what little I then knew: that flowers are not essential to a
garden in Japan; that, where used, they are generally set apart in beds,
and removed when they have ceased to bloom; that because of the skill of
the Japanese in transplanting large trees a garden of ancient appearance
may be made in few years; that boundaries are artfully planted out, so
that some houses, standing on a few acres of ground in great cities,
appear to be surrounded by forests; that small garden lakes are
sometimes so arranged as to suggest that they are only arms of large
bodies of water concealed from view by wooded headlands; and that
optical illusions are often employed to make gardens seem much larger
than they are, this being accomplished by a cunning scaling down in the
size of the more remote hillocks, trees, and shrubs, increasing the

Also, I had seen examples of the _kare sensui_ school of landscape
gardening--waterless lakes and streams, their beds delineated in sand,
gravel, and selected pebbles, and their banks set off by great
water-worn stones brought from elsewhere, and by trees and shrubs
carefully trained to droop toward the imaginary water--water the more
completely suggested by stepping-stones and arched bridges reaching out
to little islands, with stone lanterns standing among dwarf pines.

I knew, too, of the fondness of the Japanese for minor buildings in
their gardens. Thus in the garden of Viscount Shibusawa, there is an
ancient Korean teahouse of very striking architecture; in that of Dr.
Takuma Dan, General Manager of the vast Mitsui interests, a farmhouse
several centuries old; in that of Baron Okura, a famous museum of
Chinese and Japanese antiquities and art works; and in the gardens of
Baron Furukawa and Baron Sumitomo, smaller private museums. Tucked away
in the corner of one garden near Kobe I had even seen a little factory
in which the finest wireless cloisonné was being made, the owner of that
garden having a deep interest in this art and using the productions of
his artist-workmen to give as presents to his friends. And of course in
many gardens I had seen houses built especially for the _cha-no-yu_, or
Tea Ceremony.

Moreover, I had been to garden parties at some of which luncheons were
served under marquees of bamboo and striped canvas, while at others were
offered entertainments consisting of geisha-dancing and juggling. At
such parties souvenirs are always given--fans and kakemono painted by
artists on the premises, or bits of pottery which, after being painted,
are glazed and fired, and still warm from the kiln, presented to the

"Yes, yes," said my venerable friend, "you have seen a good deal; but as
to the history and theory of our gardens, what do you know?"

"Very little," I admitted, and asked him to enlighten me.

                   *       *       *       *       *

Japanese landscape gardening began twelve hundred years ago, when the
Emperor Shomu, in residence at Nara, sent for a Chinese monk who was
famed for his artistry and ordered him to beautify the ancient capital.
This the monk accomplished chiefly by cutting out avenues among the
lofty trees which to this day make Nara not only a place of supreme
loveliness, but one rich in the aroma of antiquity. Thus came the first
period of landscape gardening in Nippon, the Tempyo period.

Five and a half centuries ago the second period began when, in the
terrain surrounding the Kinkakuji Temple at Kyoto, gardens containing
lakes, rocks, and gold-pavilioned islands were constructed in
resemblance to the natural scenery near the mouth of the Yangtse River
in China.

The third period is best represented by the gardens of the arsenal in
Tokyo. These were made three hundred years ago by a Chinese master named
Shunsui, who was brought to Japan for the purpose by the Lord of Mito,
brother of the shogun who at that time ruled Japan. In order to get
water for this park a canal thirty miles long was constructed, and this
same canal later supplied water to the city of Yedo, as Tokyo was then

The current period is the fourth, and it is the aim of the present-day
masters to combine in their work all the fine points of the preceding
periods. This development is largely due to the ease of modern
transportation, which has enabled the landscape gardeners of our time to
travel widely and become familiar with the best work of their
distinguished predecessors and the finest natural scenery. For instance,
the Shiobara region, in northern Japan, a district famous for its lovely
little corners, has been the inspiration for many modern gardens.

                   *       *       *       *       *

"And now," said my learned friend as we paused in a little shelter of
bamboo and thatch, overlooking the corner of a lake bordered with
curiously formed rocks and flowering shrubs, "I will tell you the great
secret of this art; for of course you understand that with us landscape
gardening is definitely placed as one of the fine arts." He paused for a
moment, then continued: "The one sound principle for making a garden
wherever water is used is what may be called the volcanic principle.
That is to say, the artist in landscape gardening should go for his
themes to places of volcanic origin; for in such places the greatest
natural beauty is found.

"And why? First of all, you have hills of interesting contours, made by
eruptions. Then you have mountain lakes which form in the beds of
extinct volcanoes. Our famous Lake Chuzenji, above Nikko, for example.
From these lakes the water overflows, making splendid falls, like those
of Kegon, which empty out of Lake Chuzenji. Below the falls you have a
torrent rushing down a rocky valley, like the River Daiya, which flows
from the Kegon Falls past Nikko, where it is spanned by the famous
red-lacquered bridge. There is the basis for your entire garden

"But you must also remember that volcanic outpourings make rich soil.
This soil, thrown into the air by volcanic explosions, settles in the
crevices of rocks. Pines take root in it. But in some places the pocket
of soil is small; wherefore the roots of the pine cannot spread, and the
tree becomes a dwarf, gnarled and picturesque. Again, on the hillsides
the rich soil makes great trees grow, with rich shrubbery and verdure
beneath them. The torrent completes the landscape effect by sculpturing
the rocks into fascinating forms. In that combination you have every
element required. Reproduce it in miniature, and your garden is made."

                               CHAPTER XV

    _I Acquire Vanity--I Meet a Wise Man--The Distaste for
    Boasting--Imperial Traditions--The First Ambassadors and
    Consequent Embarrassments--Trappings of Rank--I Display My
    Knowledge--And Come a Cropper--The Beauties of Calm_

The garden theory of my friend the art collector, so Japanese in its
completeness, charmed and satisfied me.

"Now," I thought to myself, "I _know_."

Thenceforward I looked at gardens not with the unenlightened enthusiasm
of the casual amateur, but with a critic's eye. Here and there I would
make a mental reservation, saying to myself that the man who made this
garden had missed something in one respect or another; that the one
great principle, the volcanic principle, had not been fully carried out.

So time went on until presently I found myself in Kyoto, the cultivated
city of Japan, seated at a table (upon which were glasses and a bottle)
beside one of the most interesting Japanese I had met, a man of ripe age
and experience and of a philosophical turn of mind. He loved the
history, the legends and the psychology of his native land, and enjoyed
sifting them through the interpretative screen of his own intelligence.

I listened to him with eager interest.

"To boast," said he, "is, according to our point of view, one of the
cardinal sins. We so detest boasting that we go to the other extreme,
depreciating anything or anybody connected with ourselves. Thus, when
some one says to me, 'Your brother has amassed a fortune; he must be a
man of great ability,' I will reply: 'He is not so very able. Perhaps he
is only lucky.' As a matter of fact, it happens that my brother is a man
of exceptional ability. But I must not say so; it is not good form for
me to praise his qualities.

"In speaking of our wives and children we do the same. We say, 'my poor
wife,' or, 'my insignificant wife,' although she may fulfil our ideal of
everything a woman should be.

"Also the reverse of this proposition is true. We sometimes signify our
disapproval or dislike of some one by speaking of him in terms of too
high praise.

"Among ourselves we fully understand these things. It is merely a code
we follow. But I fear that this practice sometimes causes foreigners to
misunderstand us. Being themselves accustomed to speak literally, they
are inclined to take us so. Also, they are not likely to realize that we
are most critical of those for whom we have profound regard. Why should
we waste our time or our critical consideration upon persons who mean
nothing to us or whom we dislike?

"Yet, after all," he continued, with a little twinkle in his eye, "human
nature is much the same the world over. There was an American here in
Kyoto once who used to forbid his wife and sister to smoke cigarettes,
but I observed that he was quick to pass his cigarette-case to other

He drifted on to a further discussion of differences between the point
of view of Japan and that of the Occident.

"For twenty-five centuries," said he, "our emperors never lived behind a
fortification. There was no need of it. The present imperial palace at
Tokyo is, to be sure, protected by a moat and great stone walls, but
that was originally built for shoguns, and was taken over by the
Imperial House only at the time of the Restoration.

"Our old Japanese idea is that the Emperor is the father of his people.
There is a certain reverence, yet a certain democracy, too, in our
feeling on this subject. We who have the old ideas regret that the
Emperor now appears in a military or naval uniform. It is too much like
the European way, too much like abandoning the feeling that he is the
head of the family. For a uniform seems to make him only a part of the
army or the navy.

"But we had to modify our customs to suit those of other nations.
Ambassadors began to come from foreign lands. The Emperor did not wish
to see them, but was obliged to do so because they represented great
powers to whom we could not say no.

"At first, when the Emperor received ambassadors, he wore his ancient
imperial robes and was seated upon cushions, Japanese fashion. But the
ambassadors were arrayed in brilliant uniforms covered with decorations,
and in accordance with their home customs they _stood_ in the imperial
presence. They would stand before a European king or an American
president. Therefore it seemed to them respectful to stand before our

"But, according to our customs, that is the worst thing that can happen.
We must always be lower than the Emperor; we must not even look from a
second-story window when he drives by. The Emperor's audience-room was
so constructed that he sat in an elevated place at the head of a flight
of steps. But even so, one never entered his presence standing fully
erect. The idea of deference was visibly indicated by a stooping
position, and as one ascended the steps toward the Imperial Person, one
bent over more and more, until, on reaching the plane on which the
Emperor was seated, one knelt, with bowed head, so as still to be below

"A foreigner, on the other hand, wishing to show proper respect to an
exalted personage, would make a bow from the waist and then assume a
stiffly erect attitude, almost like a soldier standing at attention. Can
you imagine an Occidental admiral or general, with his tight uniform,
heavy braid, and sword, approaching any one upon his hands and knees? It
would be foreign to his nature and training, not to say ruinous to his

    [2] An extremely interesting account of the first audience
        given by the Emperor to a foreign ambassador is contained in
        "Memories," by the late Lord Redesdale, who was present.
        Lord Redesdale was then Mr. Mitford, and was engaged in
        preparing a volume which later became widely known under the
        title "Tales of Old Japan."

"Moreover, the important foreigners who came to Japan at the beginning
of the period of transition were gorgeous with gold lace and jewelled
decorations. Up to that time we had no decorations and no modern
uniforms and trappings of rank. Even our Emperor, in his magnificent
robes, was not adorned with gold braid, and no jewels flashed from his

"Naturally, then, we had to change. We created new orders of nobility;
decorations were devised, uniforms were designed, all according to the
European plan. In the old days we had shogun, daimyo, and samurai. Now
we have princes of the blood, princes not of the blood, marquises,
counts, viscounts, and barons. We have decorations to shine with foreign
decorations. We have field-marshals and admirals to meet the foreign
field-marshals and admirals."

He sighed, and looked through the open window to the garden shimmering
in moonlight.

"Sometimes," he said, reflectively, "it seems to me that the only place
where the spirit of Old Japan can feel at home is when it wanders
through our ancient gardens. They are unchanged."

He paused, still gazing through the open window, then went on:

"That is another thing I must talk to you about. We Japanese have a
profound feeling about gardens. The structure of a garden is a matter of
the first importance. You must see some of our gardens."

"I have done so already," I replied. "I have taken pains to visit many
of them, and I----"

"But," he interrupted, "I am not speaking entirely of vision in the
sense of sight. One must have understanding of these things. I am
talking of the basic principles upon which every garden should be made."

"That is just what I am talking about," I returned, enthusiastically.
"It happens that I have made quite a study of your theory of gardens."

    [Illustration: A tea-house garden, Tokyo.--"The artist in
    landscape gardening should go for his themes to places of
    volcanic origin."]

I must own that I did not speak without a certain complacency. I had the
comfortable feeling that always comes to one who hears a subject
broached and feels himself well equipped to discuss it.

"That is very gratifying," said the philosopher, politely.

It was indeed very gratifying. My memory was good. I casually mentioned
the four periods of Japanese landscape gardening, making easy references
to the Emperor Shomu, the scenery near the mouth of the Yangtse River,
and the Chinese master Shunsui. Then I began to file my bill of

"Of course," I said, "the one great secret of the art is to apply the
volcanic principle. One should go for themes to places of volcanic
origin--places like Lake Chuzenji and Nikko, places where lakes, formed
in the beds of extinct volcanoes, overflow, making beautiful waterfalls
and torrents which rush through rocky valleys. There, of course, is the
basis for your entire garden composition."

He sat staring at me. His eyes shone. Evidently I was making a deep
impression on him.

"Of course," I resumed, "volcanic explosions throw rich soil into----"

"Stop!" he cried, half rising from his chair. "Who gave you those
theories? Where did you learn all this?"

"In Tokyo," I answered proudly, "I happened to meet----"

"Never mind whom you met," he broke in, his voice trembling with
intensity. "These things you have been saying are terrible--terrible!
Such ideas are ruining art and beauty in Japan. A garden of that kind is
an abomination."

I sat stunned while he stood over me.

"The thing above all others to keep away from," he continued,
vehemently, "is anything volcanic. That should be apparent to any
one--any one! The very cause of volcanic structure is violence. It is
the embodiment of turmoil, unrest." He made a wild gesture with his
arms. "A volcano blows up, it explodes--_bang!_ It throws everything
about helter-skelter. It is horrible. That is a garden for a madhouse or
the palace of a _narikin_--a new millionaire."

"But don't you think----"

"If one thing is more essential than another in a garden," he went on,
ignoring my effort to interrupt, "it is peace, tranquillity, an
atmosphere conducive to meditation. Fancy a cultivated gentleman, a
philosopher, trying to meditate among volcanoes, waterfalls, and roaring
torrents! A garden should have no waterfalls. Water, if it is there at
all, should flow as placidly as philosophic thought. There should be no
fish darting about, no noisy splashing fountains, no gaudy peonies, or
other striking and distracting things. The purpose of a garden should
not be display. Its proper purpose is not to excite the beholder, but to
fill him with a rich contentment. A garden should be a bathing-place for
the soul. And one no more wishes to plunge the soul than the body into a
roaring torrent. No; there is in life already too much stress and
turmoil. The soul cries out for repose. One must lave it in a crystal
pool, healing and refreshing."

He paused, short of breath.

"But don't you think----"

"Say no more! It is late. I must go home."

I walked with him to the garden gate. A new moon hanging in a sky of
blue and silver was reflected in a still pool, its margins soft with the
dark, cloud-like forms of shrubbery. Near the gate some calla lilies
stood like graceful, silent ghosts. The night air was fragrant with the
scent of rich, damp soil and growing things.

"But don't you think," I pleaded as I opened the gate to let him pass,
"that there is, after all, something poetic in the volcanic conception
of a garden?"

"No, no," he cried. "Poetic? No. Good night. Good night. I do not
understand this new Japan. There is no repose any more. It is all
volcanoes, all exploding. It is the beauties of calm that we are losing.
Calm! Yes, that is it, calm! calm! calm!"

His agitated voice, shouting, "Calm! calm! calm!" came back to me as
like a typhoon he whirled off into the darkness, leaving me in the sweet
quiet of the garden--to meditate.

                                PART III

                              CHAPTER XVI

    _The "Connecticut Yankee" in Old Japan--Commodore Perry--The
    Elder Statesmen--Marquis Okuma--Self-made Men--Viscount
    Shibusawa--The Power of the Daimyo--Samurai Privileges,
    Including That of Suicide--Education in Old Japan--Jigoro Kano
    and Jiudo--The Farewell Letter of a Patriot--Kodokwan and
    Butokukai--The Old Military Virtues--General Nogi--His Death
    With Countess Nogi_

Despite the convulsions, overturnings, and transitions through which so
many nations have lately been passing, Japan still holds the world's
record for swift and stupendous change. The thing that happened to Japan
staggers the imagination. History affords no parallel. The nearest
parallel is to be found in the fiction of a great imaginative writer. An
American or a European going to Japan at approximately the time of the
Imperial Restoration of 1868, found himself, in effect, dropped back
through the centuries after the manner of Mark Twain's "Connecticut
Yankee"; and the Japanese who lived through the transition which then
began, met an experience like that pictured in Mark Twain's fantasy as
having befallen the people of King Arthur's Court when modern knowledge
was suddenly visited upon them.

The true story of Japan, however, surpasses in its wonder the invention
of Mark Twain; for whereas the facts of history compelled the author of
"A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" to let ancient Britain
backslide into her semi-barbarism after the disappearance of the
Connecticut Yankee, Japan not only changed completely but held her gains
and continued to progress.

The beginning of the period of transition is customarily dated from the
year 1853, when Commodore Perry first arrived, or from 1854, when he
negotiated his treaty; but though that treaty did open the door through
which the spirit of change was soon to enter, the actual modernizing of
the nation did not start until 1868, when Yoshinobu Tokugawa, fifteenth
of his line, and last shogun to govern Japan, relinquished his power to
the Emperor.

Men able to remember the events of the Restoration are about as rare in
Japan as are those who, in this country, remember the impeachment of
Andrew Johnson, which occurred in the same year; and men who played
important parts in the Restoration are of course rarer still--as rare,
say, as Americans who played important parts in the Civil War. As for
Japanese who can recall Perry's visit, they would correspond in years to
those who, with us, can recollect the beginning of the struggle for Free
Soil in Kansas. In neither land, alas, is there more than a handful of
such old folk left.

It so happens, however, that in Japan several very remarkable men have
survived to great age.

The three most powerful figures in politics at the time of my visit were
the octogenarian noblemen known as the Genro, or Elder Statesmen: Field
Marshal Prince Yamagata, Marquis Matsukata, and Marquis Okuma. Prince
Yamagata, as a soldier, took an active part in the civil warfare
attending the Restoration. Both he and Marquis Okuma were born in
1838--that is to say seven years before Texas was admitted to the Union
as the twenty-eighth state. Marquis Matsukata was born in 1840.

Of these venerable statesmen, Prince Yamagata and Marquis Matsukata
figured, I found, as great unseen influences; but Marquis Okuma, while
perhaps not actually more active than his colleagues of the Genro,
appeared frequently before the public, and was more of a popular idol,
being often referred to as Japan's "Grand Old Man." In politics he had
long been known as a great fighter and an artful tactician; also he was
sympathetically regarded by reason of his having been, many years ago,
the victim of a bomb outrage in which he lost a leg.

I knew of his having been thus crippled, but through some trick of
memory failed to recall the fact when, one day, I found myself a member
of a small party of Americans received by the Marquis at his house. We
were with him for something more than an hour; perhaps two hours. During
that time he stood and made an address, moved about the room, and even
stepped out to the garden, yet I was not once reminded of his physical
handicap. I have never seen a person so seriously maimed who, in his
movements, revealed it so little. And that at eighty-three years of age!

I should have guessed him twenty years younger. Lean, tall, wiry, alert,
with close-cropped white hair and snapping black eyes, he appeared to be
at the very apex of his powers.

That he was versatile I knew. All three of the Genro have at various
times been Prime Minister, and have held other high offices under the
Government, but Marquis Okuma's positions have been extremely varied,
calling for the display of a wide range of knowledge and of talents. I
was told that he had organized the Nationalist Party, published a
magazine, edited a number of important literary and historical works,
founded and presided over Waseda University, and had long been famed as
a horticulturist.

It was a curious thing to hear him speak in a language I could not
understand, yet to feel so strongly his gift for swaying men with

The experience reminded me of that of a newspaper man I know, who
accompanied William Jennings Bryan on one of his political speech-making
tours long ago.

"I was a dyed-in-the-wool Republican," he told me, in recounting the
experience, "and did not believe in Bryan or his measures, yet I
continually found myself carried away by his oratory. While he was
speaking he made me believe in things I _didn't_ believe in. I would
want to applaud and cheer him like the rest of the audience.

"Afterwards I would go back to the train and sober up. I wanted to kick
myself for letting him twist me around his finger like that. But the
next time I heard him the same thing would happen. It wasn't what he
said; it was his voice and phrasing and his magnetism."

I have no doubt that a Japanese unacquainted with English would sense
Bryan's elocutionary power precisely as I did that of Marquis Okuma;
indeed I am not sure that a foreigner, unfamiliar with the language of
the orator, is not in a sense the auditor who can best measure his

Marquis Okuma's features indicated extraordinary pugnacity, yet I should
say that his pugnacity was under perfect control. He could exhibit both
passion and icy coolness, and I believe he could turn on either at will,
as one turns on hot or cold water. If he was William Jennings Bryan he
was also Henry Cabot Lodge.

                   *       *       *       *       *

It is worth remarking that these Elder Statesmen are without exception
self-made men. None of them was born with a title; all were members of
modest samurai families; all rose through ability.

In this respect, as in many others, comparisons between the governmental
system of Imperial Japan and that of Imperial Germany that was, do not
hold. Japan is not governed by a hereditary ruling class. The government
service is open to all men, under a system of competitive examinations,
and promotion does not go by family or favour, but is in almost all
cases a recognition of ability exhibited in minor offices. Young men in
the consular service are in line for ambassadorships and may reasonably
hope, if they exhibit great talents, ultimately to reach the highest

It would seem, moreover, that in Japan as in some other lands,
aristocratic and wealthy families do not, as a rule, produce the
strongest men. Thus I was informed that, of the entire cabinet of Prime
Minister Hara, but one member was a man of noble family, that one having
been Count Oki, Minister of Justice. And even Count Oki was only of the
second generation of nobility.

In the business world the same rule applies. The titled business men of
Japan have risen, practically without exception, from humble beginnings.
I was told that one of them, whom I met, had begun life as a pedlar, and
was proud of it. Looking up another business genius in the national
"Who's Who," I find the following statement, which may be assumed to
have been furnished by the gentleman to whom it refers:

    Arrived in Tokyo in '71, with empty purse; proceeded to
    Yokohama, supporting himself by hawking cheap viands.

If the honorary title, "Grand Old Man of Japan," had not already been
conferred, and I had been invited to make nominations, I should have
gone outside the realm of politics and cast my vote for Viscount Eiichi

Had the Viscount been, at the time of the Restoration, a member of one
of the great clans responsible for the return of the reins of government
to Imperial hands, his career might have resembled more closely the
careers of the three old nobles of the Genro. But whereas Prince
Yamagata, Marquis Matsukata, and Marquis Okuma were respectively men of
Choshu, Satsuma, and Saga--clans that cast their lot with the coalition
that returned the Emperor to power--Viscount Shibusawa was on the other
side, having been a retainer of the last shogun.

The spoils went, naturally enough, to the victors. Strong men belonging
to the clans which had supported the Imperial House became the strong
men of the centralized government. Even to-day, when clans, as such, no
longer exist, the old clan sentiment survives, with the result that men
of Satsuma and Choshu origin are most influential in politics. The
militaristic tendency sometimes noticed in the action of the Japanese
Government is said to be largely due to this fact, for the clan of
Satsuma was in the old days notorious for its warlike inclinations, and
there is evidence to show that those inclinations have, to some extent
survived. Naval officers are to-day drawn largely from old Satsuma
families, while Choshu furnishes many officers to the army.

At twenty-seven years of age, Viscount Shibusawa had by his ability
become vice-minister of the Shogun's treasury. Naturally, then, after
the fall of the shogunate, he went in for finance. He founded the First
Bank of Japan--literally the first modern bank started there--and,
prospering greatly became a man of large affairs. Repeatedly he was
offered the portfolio of Finance under the Government, but always
refused it. A few years ago he retired from active business, and as has
already been mentioned, gave his time thereafter to all manner of good

When I met him he was nearing his eighty-second birthday. He distinctly
remembered Perry's arrival in Japan and the events that followed. I
wished to get the story of a representative man who had seen these
things, and therefore asked him to grant me an interview. This he was so
kind as to do, allowing me the better part of two days--for interviewing
through an interpreter, even though he be the best of interpreters, is
slow work.

We talked in a pretty brick bungalow in the Viscount's garden. Outside
the door was an English rose-garden, with bushes trained to the shape of

Prior to that time I had always seen the Viscount wearing a frock coat
or a dress suit, but here at home, on a day free from formalities, he
was clad in the silken robes that Japanese gentlemen put on for
comfort--though they might well put them on for elegance, too.

Short, stocky, energetic, with a strong neck and large round
head, the face seamed with deep wrinkles, he was one of the most
extraordinary-looking men I had ever met. He radiated force, courage,
honesty. I knew a Sioux chief, long ago, who had a face like that, even
to the colour, and to the deep wrinkles of humour about the mouth and
eyes. Nor, in either case, did the promise of those wrinkles fail.

When, having likened Viscount Shibusawa to an Indian chief, I also liken
him to a barrel-bodied, square-jawed, weather-beaten old British squire
of the perfect John Bull type, I may overtax the reader's imagination;
yet there was in him as much of the one as of the other.

He was born in the country, coming of a good but not aristocratic
family. The Japan of his youth and early manhood was divided into some
two hundred and fifty or three hundred feudal districts, each ruled by a
daimyo, or chieftain, having his castles, his court, his concubines, his
retainers--among the latter soldiers in armour, equipped with swords,
spears or bows and arrows, and wearing hideous masks calculated to
terrify the foe.

These chiefs had absolute power over the people and lands in their
domains. They could make laws, issue paper money, levy taxes, impose
labour and punishment on the people, or arbitrarily take from them
property or life itself.

It was a land without railroads, without steam power, without
window-glass; a land in which nobles journeyed by the highroads in
magnificent processions, surrounded by their soldiers, mounted and
afoot, their lacquered palanquins, their coolie bearers; a land in
which, when great lords passed, humble citizens fell to their knees and
touched their foreheads to the ground; a land of duels, feuds,
vendettas, clan wars; a land in which the samurai, or gentry, alone were
allowed to wear swords, and in which one of the privileges most highly
prized by the samurai was that of dying by his own hand, if condemned to
death, instead of by the hand of the executioner. Involved with the
privilege of _hara-kiri_, or _seppuku_, was a property right. The
property of a man beheaded by the executioner was confiscated, whereas
one committing hara-kiri could leave his estate to his family.

The education of young men varied in those times according to rank.
Youths of the aristocracy were instructed in the Chinese classics, which
in Japan take the place of Latin and Greek with us. Medicine and
astronomy were also taught. The sons of lesser samurai received a
training calculated to fit them for practical affairs. All those
entitled to wear swords studied swordsmanship, and the process by which
they learned it was sometimes severe, for it was the custom of masters
to attack the pupil suddenly from behind, or even when he was asleep at
night, on the theory that he should be ready at all times to defend
himself. A samurai found killed with his sword completely sheathed was
disgraced. At least two inches of the blade must show in proof that the
dead man had attempted a defence. Jiu-jutsu was also taught to many
samurai youths, and in this, as in swordsmanship, it was the practice of
instructors to make surprise attacks upon their pupils.

Viscount Shibusawa's recollections of old days, as he recounted them to
me, will make a separate chapter, but before that chapter is begun, let
me mention several points of samurai tradition--among them jiu-jutsu,
and the more advanced art or science of jiudo, developed by my friend
Mr. Jigoro Kano.

As after the Restoration the craze for all things American and European
spread through Japan, the old arts of jiu-jutsu, which for more than
three centuries had been practised by samurai, fell into disuse. Before
that time there had been many different schools of jiu-jutsu, teaching a
variety of systems, but as the old masters of the art became
superannuated no followers were arising to take their places.

In 1878, when Mr. Kano took up the study of jiu-jutsu, he saw that,
through lack of interest, many of the fine points of the art were likely
to be lost. In order to preserve as much of it as he could, he went to
great pains to make himself proficient, not merely in one system of
jiu-jutsu, but in several systems as taught by the several great masters
then alive.

His first interest in jiu-jutsu arose through the fact that he had been
a weak child and wished to make himself a strong man. I was reminded of
Theodore Roosevelt's sickly childhood when Mr. Kano told me that; and it
is interesting to recall that it was President Roosevelt who first
caused jiu-jutsu to be widely talked of in the United States, and that
he studied it, while in the White House, under one of Mr. Kano's pupils.
Also I was interested to hear from Mr. Kano that, as a young man, he
gave an exhibition of jiu-jutsu before General Grant, at Viscount
Shibusawa's house in Tokyo.

Far from being a professional athlete, Mr. Kano is a gentleman of
samurai family, a graduate of the Literary College of the Imperial
University, a linguist, a traveller, an educator of high reputation, the
holder of several decorations. Among other offices he has been head
master of the Peers' School in Tokyo.

As the reader is doubtless aware, the theory of jiu-jutsu was to defeat
the adversary, not by pitting force against force, but by yielding
before the opponent's onslaughts in such a way as to turn his strength
against him.

Jiudo, which means "the way or doctrine of yielding," is a combination,
created by Mr. Kano, of all systems of jiu-jutsu interwoven with a plan
of mental, moral, and physical training, calculated to elevate the art
above any mere consideration of combat alone--although that side is by
no means neglected.

Innumerable stories, exciting or amusing, might be told of the heroic
adventures of celebrated jiudoists, but I know of nothing which sheds
more light upon Mr. Kano's teachings, in their moral aspect, than does a
letter written to him by Commander Yuasa of the Japanese Navy, a former
pupil of the Kodokwan, the school of jiudo established by Mr. Kano in
Tokyo. The letter was written by Commander Yuasa when he was about to
take the steamer _Sagami Maru_ and sink her at the harbour entrance in
the third blockading expedition at Port Arthur. The following are
extracts from it:

    We shall do all that human power can, and leave the rest to
    Heaven. Thus we can calmly ride to certain death. I am happy to
    say that among the members of this forlorn hope are three of
    your former pupils: Commander Hirose, Lieutenant Commander
    Honda, and myself. May this fact redound to the credit of the

    Though I greatly regret that while living I could not do justice
    to the kindness you have shown me, still please accept as an
    expression of my gratitude the fact that I lay down my life for
    the sake of our country, as you have so kindly taught us, in
    time of peace, to be ready to do.

The writer of this letter was lost, as was also Commander Hirose, one of
the brother officers he mentions. The other, Lieutenant Commander Honda,
was wounded by a shell, but was rescued and lived to tell the tale.

Foreigners visiting Japan and wishing to see jiudo demonstrated, are
welcome at the Kodokwan, where, if notice is given, an interpreter is
provided. There are now some twenty thousand practitioners of jiudo who
look to the Kodokwan as headquarters and to Mr. Kano as their master.

Another place where jiudo may be witnessed is at the
Butokukai--Association for the Inculcation of the Military Virtues--in
Kyoto. The latter is a private organization, like an athletic club, with
a fine temple-like building, and many branch establishments throughout
the country. It has some two hundred thousand members, of which several
thousands are active.

The primary idea of this organization is to keep alive certain old
Japanese military arts, such as jiudo, archery, fencing, the use of
lances and spears, and the employment of the curious lance-like
_naginata_, which, with its curved blade and long handle, was used only
by women.

Contests between men armed with dummy swords and women using wooden
naginata are sometimes to be witnessed at the Butokukai, and are
extremely interesting as recalling the days when the women of Old Japan
fought beside their men, using the naginata as an offensive weapon, and
a short dagger, worn in the fold of the obi, as a defensive weapon
corresponding to the shorter of the two swords that men used to wear.

Samurai women were taught to defend themselves with the dagger, and to
use it for suicide if in fear of defeat and dishonour. Families in which
the samurai tradition is sedulously maintained still make it a custom to
present their daughters, at the time of marriage, with daggers of this
type, though such weapons are now recognized merely as emblems of a
spirit to be preserved.

                   *       *       *       *       *

The great modern samurai hero of Japan was General Count Nogi, the hero
of Port Arthur, in memory of whom a shrine was recently dedicated in

This shrine stands in the grounds behind the simple house in Tokyo where
Count and Countess Nogi lived, and where they died together by their own
hands. Nogi is canonized in Japan, and his house is held a sacred place,
and is visited by thousands of persons each year.

The theory upon which self-destruction is practised according to the old
samurai tradition, and is widely approved in certain circumstances, is
one of the things that baffles the Occidental mind.

I therefore asked Viscount Kentaro Kaneko, who knew General Nogi, to
tell me the story of his death, and to explain to me how he came to
commit seppuku.

    [Illustration: Viscount Kentaro Kaneko (Harvard '78), Privy
    Councilor to the Emperor, President of the America-Japan Society
    of Tokyo, and friend of President Roosevelt]

"When Nogi was given command at Port Arthur," said the Viscount, "his
two sons were officers under him. He told his wife to prepare three
coffins, and to hold no funeral services until all three were ready to
be buried together.

"In the assault on Port Arthur some thirty thousand Japanese soldiers
gave up their lives. This sacrifice of life was at first much criticized
in Japan, but public sentiment changed in face of the fact that the
General lost both his sons. He returned to Japan a victor, it is true,
but a most unhappy man. Always in his mind were thoughts of the families
of the thirty thousand brave young men it had been necessary to
sacrifice. He did not want to be acclaimed in the streets, but to be let
alone. He went about in an old uniform and tried to be as inconspicuous
as possible.

"One day at an audience with the Emperor Meiji, Nogi said to him as he
was leaving, something to the effect that he should never see him again.

"The Emperor, gathering that Nogi was contemplating seppuku, called him

"'Nogi,' he said, 'I still have need of you. I want your life.'

"So the General did not carry out his plan at that time, but lived on,
as the Emperor had ordered him to do, becoming president of the school
at which the sons of nobles are educated.

"All through the years, however, he was haunted by the memory of the
thirty thousand soldiers he had been compelled to send to their death.

"When the Emperor Meiji died, Nogi was one of the guard of honour, made
up of peers, who in rotation watched at the Imperial bier for forty days
and forty nights.

"Then came the state funeral. On the day of the funeral Nogi wrote a
poem which declared in effect, 'I shall follow in the footsteps of Your
Majesty.' This poem he showed to Prince Yamagata, who took it to mean
merely that Nogi would be in the procession following the Imperial
remains to the grave.

"But when the guns announced the departure of the funeral cortège from
the palace, Nogi was not there. Like the samurai of old, he desired to
follow his dead master into the beyond. At the sound of the guns he took
his short sword and committed seppuku, while in the next room Countess
Nogi, his devoted wife, dressed all in white, cut the arteries of her
neck. Thus the two died together, for the sake of the Emperor and the
thirty thousand soldiers who had sacrificed their lives."

                   *       *       *       *       *

At no point is the outlook of the Oriental more completely at odds with
that of the Occidental, than in the view it takes of suicide.

Whereas with us suicide is condemned as cowardly, being resorted to as a
means of escape from the hardships of life, there will oftentimes be
something highly heroic in a Japanese suicide. Unhappiness, it is true,
does drive some Japanese to self-destruction, but in many other cases
the suicide represents something more in the nature of a self-inflicted
punishment for failure of some kind. Thus it is with the schoolboys who
sometimes kill themselves because they have failed in their
examinations. Likewise, while in Japan I heard of two railroad gatemen
who had, by failing to close their gate when a train was coming, been
responsible for the death of a man travelling in a ricksha. A few days
after this accident both these gatemen suicided by throwing themselves
beneath a train. For their neglect they paid voluntarily with their

"And," said the Viscount, "we had in the old days another sort of
suicide, examples of which sometimes occur even to this day. When a man
believed profoundly in something, and was unable to attract attention to
the thing in which he believed, he would sometimes commit seppuku as a
means of drawing notice to it. He would leave a paper setting forth his
beliefs, and people would give it attention, feeling that if a man was
willing to die in order to emphasize a point, his message was worth

The Viscount paused. Then rather reflectively he added: "It is as though
he were to underscore his protest--in red."

                              CHAPTER XVII

    _The Old-time Anti-Foreign Sentiment--Prince Yoshinobu
    Tokugawa--Emperor and Shogun--Prince Yoshinobu becomes
    Shogun--His Highness, Akitaké, Goes to France--Humorous
    Episodes--The Defeat of Prince Yoshinobu's Army--Various
    Explanations--The Restoration of the Emperor--Prince Yoshinobu's
    Retirement--The Viscount's Theory--Prince Keikyu Tokugawa--A
    Roosevelt Anecdote--Swords and Watchchain_

"I was a boy of fourteen," said Viscount Shibusawa "when your Commodore
Perry came to Japan. At that time, and for a considerable period
afterwards, I was 'anti-foreigner'--that is, I was opposed to the
abandonment of our old Japanese isolation, and to the opening of
relations with foreign powers.

"The majority of thoughtful men felt as I did. Our trouble with the
Jesuits, in the latter part of the sixteenth and early part of the
seventeenth century came about through a fear which grew up amongst us
that the Jesuits were trying to get political control of Japan. This
fear brought about their expulsion from the country, as well as some
persecution of themselves and their converts, and it was then that our
policy of isolation began. More lately we had seen the Opium War in
China, and that had added to our conviction that foreign powers were
merely seeking territory, and that they were utterly unscrupulous.

"When I reached the age of twenty-five, I became a retainer of Yoshinobu
Tokugawa, a powerful prince, kinsman of Iyemochi Tokugawa, who was then
Shogun. Not being of noble family, I did not belong to Prince
Yoshinobu's intimate circle, but was a member of what might be termed
the middle group at his court.

"He was then acting as intermediary between the Shogun and the Imperial
Court at Kyoto--for though the Shogun ruled the land, as shoguns had for
centuries, there was maintained a fiction that he did so by imperial

"When Iyemochi died, the powerful daimyos nominated my lord, Prince
Yoshinobu, to succeed him. I was opposed to his accepting the office,
for the country was then in a very unsettled condition, and I felt sure
that the next shogun, whoever he might be, would have serious
difficulties to encounter; especially with the important question of
foreign relations to the fore, and with such powerful lords as those of
Satsuma, Choshu, Tosa, and Hizan becoming increasingly hostile to the
shogunate and increasingly favourable to the Imperial House.

"The fact that Prince Yoshinobu had acted as intermediary between his
kinsman, the fourteenth Shogun, and the Imperial Court at Kyoto, made it
a delicate matter for him later to accept the shogunate. Moreover,
though he belonged to the Tokugawa family, his branch of the family, the
Mito branch, had continually insisted upon Imperial supremacy in Japan.
However, circumstances compelled him to accept the office. I was greatly
disappointed when he did so.

"This occurred two years after I became his retainer. I was now
vice-minister of his treasury, with the additional duties of keeping
track of all modern innovations and supervising the new-style military
drill, with rifles, which we were then taking up.

"Shortly after becoming Shogun, Yoshinobu decided to send his brother,
Akitaké, to France to be educated, and he appointed me a member of the
entourage that was to accompany the young man. I was then twenty-seven
years old.

"We sailed in January 1867--a party of twenty-five, among whom were a
doctor, an officer who went to study artillery, and various others
besides Akitaké's seven personal attendants.

"For international purposes the Shogun was now called Tycoon, for the
word 'shogun,' meaning 'generalissimo,' carried with it no connotation
of rulership; whereas 'tycoon' means 'great prince'--and of course it
seemed proper enough for a great prince to treat with foreign powers. As
brother of the Tycoon, Akitaké received, in Europe, the title

"Matters looked very ominous for the shogunate at the time we left
Japan, but I felt that the best thing for me to do was to go abroad and
learn all I could, with a view to being better able to serve my country
when I should return.

"The members of our party wore the Japanese costume, including topknots
and two swords. I, however, devised a special elegance for myself. I
heard that the governor of Saigon, where our ship was to stop, intended
to welcome our party officially, so I had a dress coat made." The
Viscount shook with laughter as he recalled the episode. "It wasn't a
dress suit--just the coat. And when we got to Saigon I wore that coat
over my Japanese silks, in the daytime.

"Our lack of experience with European ways caused many amusing things to
happen. For instance, when we were in the train crossing the Isthmus of
Suez--there was no canal then--one member of the party, unaccustomed to
window-glass, threw an orange-peel, expecting it to go out of the
window. The peel hit the glass and bounced back falling into the lap of
an official who had come to escort us across the isthmus. We were much

"Later, in Paris, another absurd thing occurred. You must understand
that in Japan it is customary for guests, leaving a house where they
have been entertained, to wrap up cakes and such things and take them
home. One member of our party, who had never seen ice-cream before,
attempted this, wrapping the ice-cream in paper and tucking it in the
front of his kimono. Needless to say, the ice-cream was no longer
ice-cream when he got back to the hotel, and he himself was not very

"The Paris Exposition of 1867 was in progress when we arrived. When it
was over we travelled through Switzerland, Holland, Belgium, Italy, and
England. Originally it was planned that after our official tour we
should settle down to study, and I was eager for this time to come.
However, it was not long before we received news that the shogunate had

"The news was puzzling. I could not gather what was happening in Japan.
First I heard that Yoshinobu, as shogun, had publicly returned full
authority of the Emperor, but later came word of the battle of
Toba-Fushimi, in which troops of the Imperial Party defeated troops of
the Shogun. This made it appear that Yoshinobu had played false, first
publicly relinquishing the shogun's power and then fighting to maintain
it. These seemingly conflicting acts puzzled me, for I knew that
Yoshinobu was a man of the highest honour.

"Presently came a messenger from Japan saying that Akitaké had become
head of the Mito branch of the Tokugawa family, which made it necessary
for us to abandon our plans and return. We sailed from England in
December 1867, reaching Japan in November 1868, eleven months later.

"I was dumbfounded by the changes I found. Though I knew that the Shogun
Government had fallen I had not visualized what that would mean. My
lord, Yoshinobu, was held prisoner in a house in Suruga. Learning that
he was allowed to see his intimate friends and retainers, I journeyed to
Suruga, where I had audience with him several times. I found him
reticent, and was able to get from him little information as to the
mysterious course he had pursued.

"After having been held prisoner for a year he was released, but he
continued for thirty years to reside in the neighbourhood of Suruga,
leading a secluded life. Not until thirty-one years after his
resignation of the shogunate did he come to Tokyo. Four years later the
Emperor created him a prince of the new régime. This showed pretty
clearly that the Emperor had not mistrusted him.

"For twenty years after my return to Japan I was unable to get at the
bottom of this matter. I tried to get some explanation from Yoshinobu
himself, but he evaded my inquiries. Meanwhile the question was
constantly discussed in Japan. Those hostile to Yoshinobu contended that
he had not acted with sincerity, having been led by the burdens
connected with the opening of foreign relations, to lay down the
shogunate, and having later changed his mind and fought to retain it. On
the face of it, this seemed true. Yoshinobu was called a coward and a
traitor, and was severely criticized for having escaped after the battle
of Toba-Fushimi.

"On the other hand, those who supported Yoshinobu asserted that he had
acted logically and wisely: that he had seen that his government was
going to fall, and had been entirely honest in surrendering the
shogunate prior to the battle. These adherents insisted that he had not
wanted a battle, but had set out for Kyoto to see the Emperor with a
view to arranging details, especially with regard to the future welfare
of his retainers. "But when a great lord, travelled, in those times, he
travelled with an army, and Yoshinobu's defenders maintained that this
was what had brought on the battle--that when the men of Choshu and
Satsuma learned that Yoshinobu was moving toward Kyoto with his
soldiers, they came out and attacked him, believing, or pretending to
believe, that he was on a hostile errand.

"At this time the Emperor was but seventeen years of age, and the
Government was in the hands of elder statesmen of the Imperial Party.
The Emperor himself probably had no idea on what errand Yoshinobu was
approaching Kyoto; and whether the elder statesmen knew or not, they
belonged to clans hostile to the shogunate, and preferred to fight.

"Many years passed before the truth began to become clear. At last, when
the old wounds were pretty well healed, I undertook the compilation of a
history of Yoshinobu's life and times. Finally I asked him point-blank
about the events connected with his resignation and the subsequent
battle. He told me that he had indeed started to Kyoto on a peaceful
errand, but that when the forces sent out by the great clansmen
appeared, he could not control his own men. He had neither sought nor
desired battle. Feeling that his highest duty was to the Emperor, he
withdrew from the battle, taking no part in it, and returned whence he
had come, going into retirement. He knew, of course, that the battle
would put him in a false light, and he decided that the wisest and most
honourable course for him to pursue was to show, by his life in
retirement, his absolute submission to the Emperor.

"In order fully to appreciate why Yoshinobu was so ready to lay down his
power, the old Japanese doctrine of loyalty to the throne must be fully
grasped. This loyalty amounts to a religion, and permeates the whole
life of Japan. That is why the shoguns who for so many centuries ruled
Japan, never attempted to usurp imperial rank, but were satisfied, while
usurping the power, to preserve the form of governing always as

"It is my personal belief that when Yoshinobu Tokugawa accepted the
shogunate despite the opposition of his trusted retainers, he did so
with the full intention of restoring to the Imperial House its rightful
power. I used to ask him about this, and while he never admitted it, he
never denied it. That was characteristic of him. He was the most modest
and self-effacing of men--the last man who would have claimed for
himself the credit for performing a self-sacrificing and heroic act of
patriotism. For him the performance of the act was sufficient."

                   *       *       *       *       *

Throughout my talk with Viscount Shibusawa I felt in him the passionate
loyalty of the retainer to his lord. Where I had wished for
reminiscences of a more personal nature, the Viscount, I could see,
thought of himself first of all in his relation to the family of Prince
Yoshinobu, the last shogun, whose retainer he was. He was not interested
in telling me of his own career, but he was profoundly interested in
seeing that I, being a writer, should understand the relationship of
Prince Yoshinobu to the Imperial Restoration. His attitude reminded me
of that of a noble old Southern gentleman, now dead and gone, who had
been the adjutant of Robert E. Lee, and who loved Lee and loved to talk
about him. When I talked with him it was the same. I had great
difficulty in getting him to tell me about his own experiences.

The loyalty of the retainer to the family of his lord is also to be seen
in the relationship between the Viscount and young Prince Keikyu
Tokugawa, son of Yoshinobu. After the death of the father the Viscount
continued to act as advisor to the son. He became his chief counsellor,
and when, a few years since, he resigned from the board of directors of
the First Bank of Japan--the bank which he founded five years after the
Restoration--it was young Prince Tokugawa who succeeded to his empty

The Prince, who is a member of the House of Peers, is known in the
United States, having come here during the war as representative of the
Japanese Red Cross.

                   *       *       *       *       *

Viscount Shibusawa is also a figure not unfamiliar to Americans, having
visited this country several times. I am indebted to him for an anecdote
illustrative of the prodigious memory of President Roosevelt.

"Eighteen years ago," he said, "when Mr. Roosevelt was president, I
called upon him at the White House. We had a pleasant talk. He
complimented the behaviour of the Japanese troops in the Boxer trouble,
saying that they were not only brave but orderly and well disciplined.
Then he spoke with admiration of the art of Japan.

"I said to him, 'Mr. President, I am only a banker, and I regret to say
that in my country banking is not yet so highly developed as is art.'

"'Perhaps it will be,' he replied, 'by the time we meet again.'

"Thirteen years later, when I called upon him at his home at Oyster Bay,
he took up the conversation where we had left off.

"'The last time I saw you,' he said, 'I did not ask you about banking in
Japan. Now I want you to tell me all about it.'"

                   *       *       *       *       *

As I was leaving the bungalow in the garden late in the afternoon of the
second day spent in interviewing the Viscount, the thought came to me
that probably I should never again talk with a man who had lived through
such transitions. I wanted a souvenir, and I wished it to be something
emblematic of the changes witnessed by those shrewd, humorous old eyes.

Therefore, not without some hesitation, I asked the Viscount if he would
be so kind as to put on his two samurai swords and let me take his

He dispatched a servant who presently returned from the house bearing
the weapons. The Viscount tucked them through his sash, and I snapped
the shutter, hoping fervently that the late afternoon light would prove
to have been adequate.

    [Illustration: Viscount Shibusawa, one of the Grand Old Men of
    Japan, consented to pose for me, wearing his samurai swords]

As the reader may see for himself, the picture turned out well. Indeed
it turned out better than I myself had anticipated, for besides the
swords and silken robes of Old Japan, there may be seen in it a very
modern note.

It was the Viscount's grandson who, when I showed him the photograph,
called attention to that.

"Yes," he said, with a smile, "you have there the swords of Old Japan.
But the watch-chain--that is an anachronism."

                             CHAPTER XVIII

    _Viscount Kaneko's Home--Some Souvenirs--A Rooseveltian
    Memory--Doctor Bigelow's Prophecy--A First Meeting with
    Roosevelt--The Russo-Japanese War--Luncheons at the White
    House--Roosevelt's Interest in the Samurai Tradition--Sagamore
    Hill--Mrs. Roosevelt and Quentin--A Simple Home--The President
    Brings Blankets--A Bear Hunt--The Peace of Portsmouth and a
    Bearskin for the Emperor--A Letter of Roosevelt's on Relations
    with Japan--A Letter from Mid-Africa--"American Samurai"_

Never while in Japan did I feel quite so close to home as on the several
occasions when I sat in the study of Viscount Kentaro Kaneko, in Tokyo,
listening to his reminiscences and looking at his souvenirs of Theodore

No Japanese has been more widely known in the United States, or more
familiar with our ways, than Viscount Kaneko (Harvard '78), Privy
Councilor to the Emperor, chairman of the commission which is engaged in
preparing the history of the reign of the late Emperor Meiji, and
president of the America-Japan Society of Tokyo.

I found him living in a good-sized but not ostentatious house, purely
Japanese in architecture. But it was not purely Japanese in its
equipment. Like the houses of other Tokyo gentlemen accustomed to see
much of foreigners, it had carpet over the hall matting, rendering the
removal of shoes unnecessary, and certain of its rooms were furnished in
the Occidental style.

Such rooms, in Japan, usually are stiff reception-rooms which look as if
they were used only when visitors from abroad put in an appearance; but
Viscount Kaneko's study held a homelike feeling which made me think the
room was frequented by the master of the house when no guests were

On the walls were framed photographs of notables, European and American,
with the Roosevelt family very much to the fore, and I noticed beneath
the photograph of President Roosevelt a cordial inscription in the
familiar handwriting, so honest and boyish--writing as unlike that of
any other great man as Roosevelt himself was unlike any other great man.

When I had crossed and read the inscription, Viscount Kaneko called my
attention to the frame.

"That frame," he said, "is made from a piece of Oregon pine which was
brought among other presents to the Shogun by Commodore Perry. The
Emperor presented me with a piece of the wood, and I had made from it
that frame and a writing box on which the scene of Perry's arrival is
depicted in gold lacquer."

There was also a photograph of Mrs. Roosevelt with two of her sons, and
one of Quentin Roosevelt as a child, astride a pony, with an inscription
to the Viscount's son Takemaro, dated August seventh, 1905. In the
corner of the frame was inserted a photograph which the Viscount had
caused to be taken of Quentin's grave in France.

Viscount Kaneko was a student at Harvard when Roosevelt entered the
university, but they were two years apart and did not know each other
there. Their first meeting occurred in Washington in 1889, when
Roosevelt was Civil Service Commissioner and Viscount Kaneko was
returning to Japan after having visited the principal countries of
Europe for the purpose of studying parliamentary forms. The first
Japanese Parliament met in the year following, 1890, when Japan adopted
a Constitution.

In looking back upon my interviews with the Viscount I find myself
marvelling to-day, as I did then, at the detailed accuracy of his
memory. He recounted events of fifteen and more years before with a
vividness and an attention to trifles that was extraordinary. It was as
if he had refreshed his memory by reading from a diary.

"I had two letters of introduction to Roosevelt," he told me, "when I
went to Washington in 1889. One had been given to me by James Bryce,
later Viscount Bryce, who was then in Gladstone's Cabinet. The other I
received from my friend Dr. William Sturges Bigelow.

"When Doctor Bigelow gave me the letter, he said: 'This will introduce
you to a man who will some day be President of the United States.' I
always remembered that and watched Roosevelt's career with the more
interest for that reason.

"On reaching Washington I called on Roosevelt at a private boarding
house where he was living, and he returned my call next day. Naturally I
perceived at once that he was a man of extraordinarily vigorous mind. I
enjoyed him greatly, and was pleased and interested, after my return to
Japan, to see him steadily ascending. He became Assistant Secretary of
the Navy, Colonel of the Rough Riders, Governor of New York. 'Now,' I
said to myself on reading that he had been elected Governor, 'he is on
the way to fulfilling Doctor Bigelow's prophecy.' Then he became
Vice-President, and I thought: 'That is too bad. They have shelved him.
He won't be President after all.' But McKinley was assassinated and
Roosevelt came to the White House.

"Early in 1904, at the time of our war with Russia, I was sent to the
United States on an unofficial embassy. I went first to New York, where
I remained for a week; then to Washington. There I called on my old
friend Mr. Justice Holmes of the Supreme Court--'Brother Kaneko' he used
to call me--requesting him to take me to the White House to meet the
President, who I thought would not remember me. But Justice Holmes had
disagreed with Roosevelt over the Northern Securities case, and did not
feel that he was persona grata at the White House just then. Therefore I
arranged through our Minister, Mr. Takahira, for a meeting.

"One morning in May, 1904, the Minister took me to call upon the
President. Our appointment was for half past ten. We were not kept
waiting long. I will never forget the picture of Roosevelt as he quickly
thrust open the door and rushed into the room. The Minister had no
chance to present me. 'I am delighted to see you again Baron!' the
President exclaimed in that wonderfully hearty way of his. And as we
shook hands he threw his arm over my shoulder, demanding: 'Why did you
stay for a week in New York? Why didn't you come and see me right away?'

"During our talk, which lasted an hour, he let me see that he was
absolutely neutral in his official attitude toward our war with Russia,
but nevertheless made me feel that he had much personal sympathy for
Japan. He declared frankly that popular sentiment in the United States
was favourable to Japan, and added that the Russian Government had
complained that American army and navy officers were openly
pro-Japanese. This had made it necessary for him to issue a proclamation
of neutrality. But though, as President, he was particular to be
scrupulously just to both sides, I was in no doubt as to the
friendliness of his private sentiments.

"He advised me not to stay in Washington, but to make my headquarters in
New York, coming over to Washington to see him when it was necessary.
This I did, and as time went on, and we became closer friends, he often
did me the honour of inviting me to luncheon _en famille_ at the White

"At one of these luncheons I told him of Doctor Bigelow's prophecy, and
of how I had watched him mounting step by step to its fulfilment. That
seemed to please him.

"'Edith,' he called across the table to Mrs. Roosevelt, 'do you hear
that? Here is a man who has kept a friendly eye on me from away off in

"Once at one of these intimate White House luncheons he remarked that as
President it was necessary to preserve a certain style. 'Coming to see
us here,' he said, 'you don't get an accurate idea of what our family
life really is. You must come and pay us a visit at Oyster Bay this
summer when we get home. Then you will know more about us.'

"He did not forget the invitation, but early in July 1905, repeated it
by telegraph. I went to Oyster Bay and stayed over night. It was in many
ways a memorable experience.

"He was always greatly interested in our samurai tradition and in the
doctrine we call bushido. I remember his asking me how much money was
required for the keeping up of a samurai's position. I explained that
there were different classes of samurai--that the shoguns had themselves
been samurai, with others of various grades below them.

"'Middle-class samurai,' I said, 'do not need a great deal of money.
They require only enough for dress to be worn on social occasions, for
the education of their families, and the maintenance of their political
position, whatever it may be. They need no money for pleasures or

"'Just the same,' the President replied, 'a man doesn't want to fall
behind his ancestors, materially or otherwise. Take my own case: I want
to keep my place as my forbears kept theirs. I desire neither more nor
less than what my father had. I want my children to be able to grow up
in this old home at Oyster Bay just as the children of my generation
did.' Then he began to ask me more about the details of samurai life.

"'What about doctor's bills?' he asked. 'You didn't mention that item in
estimating the expense of living.'

"I told him of a curious custom we used to have. In each samurai class
there were families of doctors who were endowed by the Government, the
profession being passed down from father to son. These doctors took care
of samurai families of the rank corresponding to their own, and charged
nothing for so doing. Twice a year, in January and July, when it is
customary to give presents, presents were given to the doctors. They
also took care of the poor as a matter of charity.

"That interested him, too. He was always intensely interested in the
samurai, because our samurai virtues were virtues of a kind he
particularly admired--courage, stoicism, love of duty and of country.

"We sat on the wide verandah, overlooking the lawn sloping down toward
Long Island Sound. Mrs. Roosevelt sat with us, knitting. It was July,
but she was knitting mittens. Presently a maid came and spoke to her,
and she left us.

"When she came back she said to me, 'Baron, I want to ask a favour of
you. Quentin has been crying. He took great pains to clean his pony
to-day, to show it to you, and we promised that he should be allowed to
do so. He has been riding around the lawn hoping you would notice him.'

"Of course I sent for Quentin, and he appeared proudly upon his pony. I
asked him to ride around the lawn, which he did.

"'You ride splendidly!' I said, when he drew up again before the porch.

"'Do you think so?' he asked, evidently much pleased.

"'Indeed I do!' I said, and asked him to go around the lawn again.

"When he came back I told him about my son, who was just his age. 'I
shall have him learn to ride,' I said, 'and when he can ride as well as
you can I shall have his picture taken on a pony and send it to you.'

"That," continued the Viscount, "is how we happen to have this picture
of Quentin on his pony. He sent it to my son, and my son sent him a
picture. I always like to think of the good-will there was between those
two boys--an American boy and a Japanese boy who had never seen each

"That night we sat talking in the drawing room which is to the left of
the hall as you go into the house. Mrs. Roosevelt was still knitting
mittens for the children. It was all wonderfully simple and homelike. I
could hardly believe that I was in the home of the head of a great
nation. At that time the house was lighted with kerosene lamps, yet in
Japan I had been using electric light for fifteen years.

"At about ten o'clock Mrs. Roosevelt said good night to us and retired.
Before she went upstairs she moved about, fastening windows and putting
out lamps in parts of the house in which they would not be needed any
more. Then she brought candles and matches so that we should have them
when we were ready to go to bed.

"After an hour's talk about the war, which was still raging, the
President rose and lit the candles. Then he put out the remaining lamps,
and conducted me upstairs to my room. It was a cool night. He felt of
the coverings on my bed, and decided that I might need another blanket.
'I'll get you one,' he said, leaving the room. And in a minute or two he
reappeared with a blanket over his shoulder.

"'Come,' he said, as he put it on the bed, 'and I'll show you the
bathroom.' I went with him. 'Here's soap,' said he, 'and here are clean
towels.' Then he took me back to my room and wished me a good night.

"As for me, I was fascinated, almost dazed. I kept saying to myself,
'This man who has lighted me upstairs with a candle, and carried me a
blanket, and shown me where to find soap and towels, is the President of
the United States! The President of the United States has done all these
things for me. It is the greatest honour a man could have.'

"Earlier in the same year, before the President moved from the White
House to Oyster Bay, he went bear hunting. That was just before Admiral
Togo's victory over the Russian fleet, in the Sea of Japan.

"Before leaving, the President sent for me and told me, in the presence
of Mr. Taft, who was Secretary of War, that if anything of importance
should come up during his absence, I was to see Mr. Taft about it, and
that in the event of its being anything absolutely vital, Mr. Taft would
know how to reach him.

"Mr. Taft showed me a photograph hanging on the wall of the President's
office, showing the wild country to which the President was going on his
hunting trip.

"I remarked playfully to him that I thought it advisable, at that time,
that the President refrain from killing bears, whatever other animals he
might see fit to slay.

"Roosevelt, sitting at his desk, overheard me.

"'What's that you are saying?' he asked.

"I repeated what I had said to Mr. Taft.

"'Why do you think I should not kill bears?' demanded the President.

"'Well, Mr. President,' I replied, 'you know that the various nations
have their special symbols in the animal kingdom. America has the eagle,
Britain the lion, France the cock, and Russia, well----'

"He got up, laughing and came over to me.

"'Nevertheless,' he said, 'I shall go right ahead and kill bears!'

"Before he left on that hunting trip I went to see him and asked as a
special favour that he give me the skin of one of the bears he should

"He refused, saying that if he were to start presenting trophies to his
friends they would all be after him.

"At that I said to him, 'If I were asking this for myself, Mr.
President, I would not pursue the matter further, but I am not asking it
for myself. I want that bear skin for our Emperor.'

"'Very well, then,' he said. 'You shall have it.'

"He went off on his hunting trip, and came back. Then followed the
negotiations for a cessation of hostilities between Japan and Russia,
and the Portsmouth Peace Conference, through which Roosevelt brought
about the end of the war.

"In August of the same year, 1905, I received this letter from him."

The Viscount handed me the letter to read. It was as follows:

                                       Oyster Bay, N, Y,.
                                                August 30, 1905.



    I cannot too highly state my appreciation of the wisdom and
    magnanimity of Japan, which make a fit crown to the prowess of
    her soldiers. Will you tell the Emperor that I shall take the
    liberty of sending him by you a bear skin? I want you soon to
    come out here and take lunch.

                                        Sincerely yours,
                                            THEODORE ROOSEVELT.

"Later," the Viscount went on, "I was asked by the President to come to
Oyster Bay and select one of the skins. I however did not wish to make
the selection, so the President did that, picking out the largest skin
of all and giving it to me for the Emperor Meiji.

"His Majesty was greatly pleased with the skin, not only because it was
a trophy from the President himself, but because of the emblematic
nature of the gift. That bearskin was in his library at the Imperial
Palace in Tokyo as long as he lived."

                   *       *       *       *       *

One of the most important Roosevelt letters shown me by Viscount Kaneko
was on the subject of Japanese-American relations. As this letter is not
included in the two-volume collection of Roosevelt correspondence
compiled in such masterly fashion by Joseph Bucklin Bishop, Roosevelt's
literary executor, I have asked the permission of Mrs. Roosevelt and of
Mr. Bishop to quote it here.

It was as follows:

                            THE WHITE HOUSE


                                                   May 23, 1907.



    I much appreciate your thought of Archie. The little fellow was
    very sick but is now all right. His mother and I have just had
    him on a short trip in the country.

    I was delighted to meet General Kuroki and Admiral Ijuin with
    their staffs. General Kuroki is, of course, one of the most
    illustrious men living. Through his interpreter, a very able
    young staff officer, I spoke to him a little about our troubles
    on the Pacific Slope.

    Nothing during my Presidency has given me more concern than
    these troubles. History often teaches by example, and I think we
    can best understand just what the situation is, and how it ought
    to be met, by taking into account the change in general
    international relations during the last two or three centuries.

    During this period all the civilized nations have made great
    progress. During the first part of it Japan did not appear in
    the general progress, but for the last half century she has gone
    ahead so much faster than any other nation that I think we can
    fairly say that, taking the last three centuries together, her
    advance has been on the whole greater than that of any other
    nation. But all have advanced, and especially in the way in
    which the people of each treat people of other nationalities.
    Two centuries ago there was the greatest suspicion and
    malevolence exhibited by all the people, high and low, of each
    European country, for all the people, high and low, of every
    other European country, with but few exceptions. The cultivated
    people of the different countries, however, had already begun to
    treat with one another on good terms. But when, for instance,
    the Huguenots were exiled from France, and great numbers of
    Huguenot workmen went to England, their presence excited the
    most violent hostility, manifesting itself even in mob violence,
    among the English workmen. The men were closely allied by race
    and religion, they had practically the same type of ancestral
    culture, and yet they were unable to get on together. Two
    centuries have passed, the world has moved forward, and now
    there could be no repetition of such hostilities. In the same
    way a marvellous progress has been made in the relations of
    Japan with the Occidental nations. Fifty years ago you and I and
    those like us could not have travelled in one another's
    countries. We should have had very unpleasant and possibly very
    dangerous experiences. But the same progress that has been going
    on as between nations in Europe and their descendants in America
    and Australia, has also been going on as between Japan and the
    Occidental nations. In these times, then, gentlemen, all
    educated people, members of professions and the like, get on so
    well together that they not only travel each in the other's
    country, but associate on the most intimate terms. Among the
    friends whom I especially value I include a number of Japanese
    gentlemen. But the half century has been too short a time for
    the advance to include the labouring classes of the two
    countries, as between themselves.

    Exactly as the educated classes in Europe, among the several
    nations, grew to be able to associate together generations
    before it was possible for such association to take place among
    the men who had no such advantages of education, so it is
    evident we must not press too fast in bringing the labouring
    classes of Japan and America together. Already in these fifty
    years we have completely attained the goal as between the
    educated and the intellectual classes of the two countries. We
    must be content to wait another generation before we shall have
    made progress enough to permit the same close intimacy between
    the classes who have had less opportunity for cultivation, and
    whose lives are less easy, so that each has to feel, in earning
    its daily bread, the pressure of the competition of the other. I
    have become convinced that to try to move too far forward all at
    once is to incur jeopardy of trouble. This is just as true of
    one nation as of the other. If scores of thousands of American
    miners went to Saghalin, or of American mechanics to Japan or
    Formosa, trouble would almost certainly ensue. Just in the same
    way scores of thousands of Japanese labourers, whether
    agricultural or industrial, are certain, chiefly because of the
    pressure caused thereby, to be a sources of trouble if they
    should come here or to Australia. I mention Australia because it
    is a part of the British Empire, because the Australians have
    discriminated against continental immigration in favour of
    immigration from the British Isles, and have in effect
    discriminated to a certain degree in favour of immigration from
    England and Scotland as against immigration from Ireland.

    My dear Baron, the business of statesmen is to try constantly to
    keep international relations better, to do away with causes of
    friction, and secure as nearly ideal justice as actual
    conditions will permit. I think that with this object in view
    and facing conditions not as I would like them to be, but as
    they are, the best thing to do is to prevent the labouring
    classes of either country from going in any numbers to the
    other. In a generation I believe all need of such prevention
    will have passed away; and at any rate this leaves free the
    opportunity for all those fit to profit by intercourse, to go
    each to the other's country. I have just appointed a commission
    on general immigration which will very possibly urge restrictive
    measures as regards European immigration, and which I am in
    hopes will be able to bring about a method by which the result
    we have in view will be obtained with the minimum friction.

    With warm regards to the Baroness, believe me,

                                    Sincerely yours,
                                            THEODORE ROOSEVELT.

    Baron Kentaro Kaneko,

                Tokyo, Japan.

The foregoing letter may well be studied at this time when, through lack
of the kind of statesmanship shown by Roosevelt, the Californian
situation has become worse instead of better.

Another letter shown me by Viscount Kaneko was written in pencil on a
large sheet of yellow paper torn from a pad. It came from the African
jungle, and ran as follows:

                                               Sept. 10th, 1909.


    I have no facilities for writing here; but I must just send you
    a line of thanks for your welcome note. I have had a most
    interesting trip; my son Kermit has done particularly well. He
    has the spirit of a samurai! I greatly hope to visit Japan; but
    when it may be possible I can not say.

    With warm regards to the Viscountess,[3] believe me,

                                      Sincerely yours,
                                             THEODORE ROOSEVELT.

    [3] Despite the fact that Roosevelt knew that Kaneko had been
        made a Viscount he addressed him in this letter by his old

The last letter of the series was written on the stationery of the
Kansas City _Star_, of which Roosevelt was an associate editor with an
office in New York. The letter read:

                                        New York, Aug. 21, 1918.


    I thank you for your letter; and Mrs. Roosevelt was as much
    touched by it as I was. Remember to give your son a letter to us
    when he comes here to go to Harvard. One of our newspapers, the
    Chicago _Tribune_, when the news was brought that Quentin was
    dead and two of his brothers wounded, spoke of my four sons as
    "American samurai." I was proud of the reference! As you say,
    all of us who are born are doomed to die. No man is fit to live
    who is afraid to die for a great cause. My sorrow for Quentin is
    outweighed by my pride in him.

                                Faithfully your friend,
                                             THEODORE ROOSEVELT.

The foregoing, written less than five months before Colonel Roosevelt's
death, was the last letter of the series shown me by Viscount Kaneko.

Reading it I was reminded of what Colonel Roosevelt said to me as he lay
on his bed in the hospital the last time I saw him.

Speaking of his four sons in the war he said:

"We have been an exceptionally united family. Come what may, we have
many absolutely satisfying years together to look back upon."

                              CHAPTER XIX

        _Placidity and_ Sodans--_Talk and Tea--American Business
        Methods_ versus _Japanese--The American Housekeeper in
        Nippon--Japan's Problem-- Population and Food--The
        Industrialism--Examples of Inefficiency--"Public
        Futilities"--Comedies of the Telephone--The Cables_

Elsewhere I have said that the Japanese are generally hard workers;
wherefore it may seem paradoxical to add that they are also leisurely
workers. But the paradox is not so great as it would seem. The hours of
work are longer in Japan than in most other countries, but work is not
so vigorously pressed.

Without being in the least lazy, the Japanese take their time to
everything. With masters and servants, employers and workmen, it is much
the same. They appear placid. They hold _sodans_, conferring and
arranging matters with terrible precision. If you attempt to use the
telephone you are prepared for a long struggle and a long wait. The
clerks in the cable office act as if the cable had just been laid--as if
your cablegram were the first one they had ever been called upon to
send, and they didn't quite know how to handle it, or how much to
charge. Often they are unable to make change. Sometimes even the railway
ticket agents have no change. Business conferences are conducted over
successive cups of pale green tea, and I am told that it is customary to
begin them with talk on any topic other than the main one. In the
lexicon of Japanese trade and commerce there is no such word as

The hustling American business man who tries to rush things through
often arouses the Japanese business man's suspicion. What is he after?
Why is he in such a hurry? There must be something behind it all. It is
necessary to be particularly careful in dealing with such a man.
Negotiations drag and drag until the American, if he be of nervous
disposition, is driven nearly wild. And sometimes this results in his
making a bad bargain merely for the sake of getting through.

"I'm sorry I ever came to the Far East!" he will declare bitterly. "I
feel that I am getting nothing accomplished over here--nothing!" Then he
will tell you what is the trouble with the Japanese:

"They are used to playing only with white chips!"

The American housekeeper in Japan, if she knows what nerves are, may
have similar difficulties. Her Japanese servants will conduct her ménage
well enough if she lets them do it in their Japanese way, but if she
attempts to run her home as she would run it in the United States, she
is lost. It can't be done. I know of an American woman who could not get
a cook because her efforts to Americanize her household had given her a
bad reputation with the Cook's Guild. Another could get no sewing done,
for a like reason. For all the servants and working people have their
guilds, and news travels. Thus many an American housekeeper in Japan has
became a nervous wreck.

Yet on the other hand, numbers of American business men and their wives
enjoy Japanese life, and only come home when it is necessary to give
their children an American education. The men are successful and their
homes are comfortable and well run. But always you will find that they
are people of calm disposition: people having sufficient balance to
adjust themselves to the customs of the country.

The essential point seems to be that the Japanese view life in longer
perspective than we do. Where we see ourselves as individuals having
certain things to accomplish in a rather short life, they see themselves
as mere links in an endless family chain. We are conscious of our
parents and our children but they are conscious of ancestors, reaching
back to the mists of antiquity, and of a posterity destined to people
the nebulous vaults of the far-distant future.

But while, from a philosophical standpoint, this way of looking at life
may be quite as good as ours, or even better, still I believe it tends
to handicap the Japanese in meeting the urgent material problems by
which they are confronted. And though these problems are not so terrible
as those of war-racked Europe, they are, if measured by any other
standard, terrible enough.

Japan's fundamental problem--the one out of which grow all other
Japanese problems in which the world is interested--is, as I have said
before, that of great density of population coupled with an inadequate
supply of food and raw materials. Fifty years ago the population of
Japan proper was less than 33,000,000. To-day it is more than
57,000,000. There has been an increase in five decades of more than 75
per cent., but there has been no corresponding increase in the country's
arable land.

    [Illustration: The film was not large enough to hold the family
    of this youngish fisherman at Nabuto. Nine children! Fifty years
    ago Japan had a population of 33,000,000. To-day it is nearing

In Japan itself there have been various theories as to how this problem
should be met. The militarists, who are still very powerful, have in the
past undoubtedly favoured what we have come lately to call the Prussian
system, the grabbing system: the system which has been followed in the
Far East not by Japan alone but by England, Russia, France, and
Germany--and by the United States (if in a form somewhat more moderate)
in the Hawaiian Islands, and the Philippines.

"If the others do it," the Japanese militarists have argued, "why
shouldn't we? Why shouldn't we, who need additional territory so much
more than they do, grab on the continent of Asia for land to which our
surplus population may be sent, and from which we may get food and raw

To which the other nations answer: "Unfortunately for you, you came
along too late. The good old grabbing days are gone. The world is
radiant with a new international morality, and woe be unto those who
offend against it! Germany tried it--see what happened to her!"

Japan did see what happened to Germany and the lesson was not wasted on
her. Nor was the least striking part of the lesson contained in
America's exhibition of military might. And truth to tell, Japan needed
such a lesson; for her victories over China and Russia had put her
militarists in the ascendant, and had made them, and perhaps the bulk of
their countrymen also, over-confident, with the result that Japan
occasionally rattled the sabre in the Far East somewhat as Germany was
wont to do in Europe.

But although it cannot be denied that the Japanese militarists exhibited
undue aggressiveness in China and Siberia during the late war, and
although their actions since have not been altogether satisfactory to
the rest of the world, there is good reason to suppose that their
old-time dream of vast territorial aggrandizement has diminished, even
though it may not have entirely faded from the minds of some of them.

This new tendency toward moderation is due to the war's lesson and to
the marked growth of liberal and anti-militarist sentiment among the
Japanese people. The militarists, though they still control the
Government, are less aggressive than they used to be, both because the
Japanese public protests when too much aggressiveness is shown, and
because the more intelligent members of the militaristic group now
realize that if Japan were to bring on a great war she would inevitably
be ruined. So, while the power and aggressiveness of this dangerous
element slowly wane, the liberal element, led by some of the sanest and
ablest men in Japan, steadily gains strength.

The outcome of this struggle between the advocates of force and those of
fair dealing will, in my judgment, be determined largely by the course
pursued by other nations. If, as we all hope, a new order of things is
to grow out of the late war, then within a few years I believe we shall
see the liberal group running Japan. But if, on the contrary, the world
backslides, and the old selfish system is resumed, then the Japanese
militarists will say to the people: "Well, you see that we were right
after all!"

But however these matters may turn out, I do not believe that Japan will
ever fully settle her surplus population problem by means of emigration,
whether to annexed territory, or to other countries. The Japanese do not
like to leave home. There are only about 300,000 Japanese in China, for
example, and they have not colonized to nearly the extent they might
have in Siberia. If they do leave home they seek mild climates, but they
are now barred from colonizing in the United States, Canada, and
Australia and even when they settle in Mexico or South America one sees
protests in our press. Yet if Japan's population is to remain static
hundreds of thousands of her people must leave the islands every year.
All considered, it seems more than improbable that they will ever
emigrate in such a wholesale way.

By what means, then, is the problem to be solved?

Apparently the leaders of the small group that governs Japan came, some
years ago, to the conclusion that the best means for solving their
difficulties lay in turning Japan into an industrial country. They
determined to manufacture goods, export them, and with the proceeds pay
for imports of raw materials and food--in short, to adopt the plan which
England began to follow nearly a century ago, and which Belgium has also
followed. England's situation was in many respects like that of Japan,
for there were certain essential raw materials which she did not have
either at home or in her possessions; and like Japan she is unable to
feed herself. With Belgium the situation was even worse than with
England. Yet through industrializing themselves both countries have
prospered greatly. Is it not then logical to suppose that by following a
similar course Japan will likewise prosper? Recent statistics seem,
moreover, to indicate that with industrialization the birth-rate tends
to decline.

In attempting a great industrial programme Japan has two advantages: she
has abundant cheap labour and a short haul to the great markets of Asia.
Geographically we are her nearest competitor for Asiatic trade, yet we
have at the very least, four thousand miles farther to carry our goods.
Obviously this is an immense disadvantage to us, and we are further
handicapped by the high cost of our labour.

Having us at so great a disadvantage in the matter of commerce with
Asia, it would seem that Japan should have little difficulty in securing
for herself the lion's share of the Asiatic trade.

But it must not be supposed that Japan has as yet become sufficiently
industrialized to solve her problem. She must become a much greater
manufacturing and exporting nation than she now is. And in order to
accomplish that she must greatly improve in one particular: she must
master much more thoroughly than she has so far mastered them, the
horrid arts of "efficiency."

I do not mean to imply that the Japanese are never efficient, but only
that they are not always so efficient as they ought to be, and as they
must become. I am aware, now, that I expected too much of them in this
particular. Reports of their astonishing military efficiency at the time
of their war with Russia, caused me to think of them almost as supermen.
And they are not that. Nor is any other race.

It may be true that in military matters they are highly efficient.
Probably they are. My own observation as a traveller on their ships
convinces me that they are efficient on the sea, and this opinion is
supported by what American naval officers have told me of their navy and
their naval men. I visited a huge cotton mill near Tokyo which was
clearly a first-class institution of the kind; also I was much struck,
in going through a penitentiary, by the evidences of their understanding
of modern and enlightened practice in the conduct of penal
establishments; and I might go on with a list of other institutions
which impressed me favourably.

But that is not the side I wish here to bring out. On the contrary, I
wish to call attention to the fact that the high degree of efficiency
shown by the Japanese in certain instances serves but to emphasize their
widespread inefficiency in others.

In an earlier chapter I spoke of the fact that in Japan one sees three
men instead of two in the cab of a locomotive, that hand-carts are used
for watering city streets, and that more servants are required there
than here in a house of given size. These are but minor items in the
wholesale waste of labour. It is as if Japan said to herself: "I have
all these people to look after and I must put as many of them as
possible on every job." And that, in my judgment, is not the way Japan
should look at it. Instead of putting on every job more people than are
actually needed, she should endeavour to develop her industries to such
a point that there will be a full, honest day's work for everyone. For,
of course, her labour wastage keeps up her manufacturing and operating

An example of the way time is wasted may be seen wherever railroad gangs
are at work. They swing their picks to the accompaniment of a song, and
the rhythm is taken from the slowest man. Wastage is also exhibited in
the way a house is built. They build the framework of the roof upon the
ground. Then they take it apart. Then they go up and put it together all
over again, in place. A whole house is constructed in this way. The
parts are not fashioned on the premises as the building goes up, but are
made elsewhere and brought to the actual scene of building to be fitted
together. The tiles are fastened to the roof with mud, but instead of
carrying this mud up in bulk they toss it up from hand to hand, six men
forming a chain for the purpose.

Or again, to cite a very simple example of domestic inefficiency,
consider their method of washing a kimono. Instead of laundering the
garment all at once, they rip it apart, wash the pieces separately, dry
them on a board, and sew them together again.

In factory management also one sometimes finds the most surprising
inefficiency. I know of a great manufacturing plant in Japan which, if
you were to go through it, you would call thoroughly modern. The
buildings are modern, the machinery is modern. But there is one thing
missing, and it is a vital thing. The plant stands a good half mile from
the railway line; coal and raw materials are transported from car to
factory in carts, or in baskets carried on the backs of coolies, and the
finished product is removed in like manner.

Though the cost of labour in Japan was trebled after the war, wages are
still low as compared with other countries. But this fact, which should
be taken advantage of in the struggle for world trade, is too often used
only as an excuse for such waste of labour as I have pointed out. And it
is because of this and similar inefficiencies that the Japanese now find
themselves unable to compete in costs, in certain lines, with other
nations, even though the labour of those other nations is much better

Among the things most criticized by visitors are the bad roads, both in
the country and in the cities; the hotels, which except in a few places
are poor (I am speaking only of the foreign-style hotels); and the
miserable conditions of what the _Japan Advertiser_ humorously refers to
as "public futilities."

Tokyo, with a transportation problem which ought easily to be solved,
has utterly inadequate street-car service. The rush hour there is only
saved from being as terrible as the rush hour in New York by the lack of
subterranean features.

But it is in all matters having to do with communications that Japanese
inefficiency is most strikingly brought to the notice of strangers. The
postal service is poor, the cable service is expensive and absurdly slow
(when I was in Japan it took about ten days to cable to America and get
an answer back), and the telephone service is unbelievably awful. All
these, like the railroads, are owned and operated by the Government.

I began to suspect their telephones when I saw the old full-bosomed wall
instruments they use, with bell-cranks to be rung; but little did I then
guess the full measure of their telephonic backwardness.

It is like opera bouffe. Though the demand for new telephones far
exceeds the supply, the Government makes no appreciable effort to remedy
the situation. Every year an absurdly small number of lines is added to
the existing system. These are assigned by lot among those who have
applied for them. Thus, if a man be lucky in the draw, he may get a
telephone within two or three years. But I know one gentleman in Tokyo
who was not lucky in the draw. At the ripe age of sixty-seven he applied
to the Government for an additional office telephone. The instrument was
installed shortly after he had celebrated his eightieth birthday. Long
may he live to use it!

If one be in a hurry to have a telephone put in, one does not apply to
the authorities, but attacks the problem in a manner more direct--either
through a telephone broker or through advertising. Thus one can get in
contact with a person wishing to sell an installation and a number. The
number must, however, be in the exchange serving the district in which
the telephone is to be placed.

Though this is a very expensive method, it is the one usually employed
in Tokyo and other large cities. A telephone for the business district
of the capital may cost as much as twelve hundred dollars, but in a
residential district it will be considerably cheaper--five hundred
dollars or less.

A curious detail of this business is that low numbers bring the highest
price in the open market. This, I was informed, is because green
operators, in process of being broken-in, sit at that end of the central
switchboard at which the high numbers invariably occur, thus
guaranteeing the owners of high numbers a grade of service calculated to
drive them to the madhouse.

It must not be imagined that the Japanese are content with their
telephone service. They are not. For some time prior to my arrival in
Japan the press had been demanding a reform, and at last it was
announced that action was about to be taken to improve matters.

But all that happened was this: Instead of increasing the service, the
government functionaries started a campaign to discourage the use of
telephones. Up to that time, unlimited service had been given. Now,
however, a flat charge of two sen (about one cent) per call was
announced, the theory being that many persons would think twice before
spending two sen on an idle telephonic conversation.

After watching the new plan in operation for a few days the telephone
authorities jubilantly announced that it was a great success--the number
of calls had appreciably diminished. Apparently it never occurred to
them that the result of such a policy, carried to its logical
conclusion, would be to eliminate the telephone entirely.

With the Japanese cables the trouble has been largely due to congestion.
The use of two important lines was cut off by the war, and as service on
these lines has not up to the time of writing been resumed, owing to the
disorganization of Russia and Germany, a heavy strain has been placed
upon the transpacific cables. I am assured, however, that conditions
would not be so bad as they are if the Japanese were entirely efficient
in their handling of cable business, and my own experiences with cable
messages, while there, would seem to indicate that this is true.

Moreover, at the time when cable congestion was at its worst, the
Japanese refused to operate their transpacific wireless for more than
seven hours a day; and even then they would take business only for San
Francisco and vicinity, for the reason, it was explained, that they did
not wish to be bothered with the details of figuring the rates to
various parts of the United States. Lately they have increased their
service to cover the states of California, Oregon and Washington; but
that, at the time of writing, is as far as they have consented to extend

                               CHAPTER XX

    _The Average American and International Affairs--The Vagueness
    of the Orient--A Definition by Former Ambassador Morris--"They
    say"--The "Yellow Peril"--International Insults--Physiognomy--
    What the Japanese Should Learn About Us--Our Race Problems--
    Racial Integrity--Assimilation--Californian Methods--The Two
    Sound Arguments Against Oriental Immigration_

    If public opinion is fed with distorted facts, unworthy
    suspicions, or alarming rumours; if every careless utterance by
    thoughtless and insignificant men is to be given prominence in
    print; if every casual difference of view is to be magnified
    into a crisis, sober judgment and deliberate action become
    impossible.--JOHN W. DAVIS, _former Ambassador to the Court of
    St. James's_.

Concerned with making a living, the Average American has as a rule
neither the time nor the inclination to study international affairs. He
expects his government to see to such things for him. He has no interest
in what his government is doing with regard to other nations unless his
personal feelings are in some way involved. Thus if he be a
German-American he may take cognizance of our relations with Germany; or
if he be a Russian-American he may desire that we recognize the
so-called government of Lenine and Trotzky; or again, if he be an
Irish-American he may wish the President of the United States to go
personally to London and knock the British premier's hat off. But if he
be simply an average unhyphenated American the chances are that he is
disgusted with the clatter of the hyphenates and bored with the whole
business of foreign relations and race problems. His main interest in
governmental affairs at the present time has nothing to do with foreign
relations but comes much closer to home. He is tired of paying heavy
taxes, tired of paying exorbitantly for the necessities of life. He
wants his government to remedy those two things. Then, because he is
sick of hyphenated citizens and internal race problems, he wants
immigration stopped.

The Orient is all vague to him. If he does not live on the Pacific Coast
or in some large city where Japanese have settled, he may never have
laid eyes upon a Japanese. Or if he has seen Japanese over here he may
have seen them in the farming districts of the Pacific slope. Whether he
has seen them or not, he has gathered some impression of them through
newspaper accounts of the trouble there has been about them in
California. He understands that their customs, religion, and food are
unlike his--which may be taken as implying a certain lack of merit in
them. He understands that Japanese women and children work in the
fields. His own women and children do not work in the fields, but wear
silk stockings, chew gum, and go to the movies--all of which, of course,
counts against the Japanese, since to work in the fields is in these
times almost un-American. And of course it is still more un-American to
do what the Japanese labourers did in California until the patriotic
Californians stopped them; namely to save money and buy farms.

Then there is this business about "picture-brides"--my Average American
may have heard vaguely about that, though probably he does not know that
the Japanese Government, in deference to our wishes, no longer allows
picture-brides to come here. He would not think of such a thing as
picking out a wife by photograph. None of his friends would do it,

It may be well here to state the actual nature of the issue in
California. This can be done briefly in no better way than by quoting an
editorial published not long since in the New York _World_, a newspaper
remarkable for the intelligence with which it has generally treated the
Japanese question.

The _World_'s editorial was published apropos an address made by Mr.
Roland S. Morris, who served under the Wilson Administration as
ambassador to Tokyo, and whose admirable work in Tokyo might have borne
good fruit but for our unfortunate habit of relieving ambassadors,
however able, when the political party to which they belong goes out of

Said the _World_:

    In his address at the University Club on the Japanese issue in
    California, Roland S. Morris, American Ambassador to Tokyo,
    refrained from discussing the merits of the case and merely
    defined the question in accordance with the facts. It is only in
    the light of the facts that a sound decision can be reached
    where argument and judgment run along the line of fixed

    As Mr. Morris explained, Japan does not question the right of
    the United States, subject to its treaty obligations, to
    legislate on the admission of foreigners. While under the treaty
    of 1911 Japanese were granted full rights of residence and
    admission, the Tokyo Government accepted the condition that it
    would continue limiting emigration from Japan to the United
    States in compliance with the "Gentleman's Agreement" of

    [4] The "limiting" here referred to includes the stoppage of
        labour emigration, not by us, but by the Japanese
        Government, which took this amiable and dignified means of
        avoiding a direct issue of the subject of racial equality.

    The Japanese Government and people are not seeking the removal
    of restrictions on immigration. The Japanese are not eligible to
    American citizenship, but they have enjoyed in this country the
    same personal and property rights as other aliens. It is here
    that the friction has been created by the action of California.

    In 1913 California deprived those aliens who were ineligible to
    citizenship of certain property rights. In 1920, in Mr. Morris's
    words, "this legislation was amplified by an initiative and
    referendum act." What he does not state is that this measure was
    intended to discriminate against the Japanese in buying and
    leasing land.

    Hence the protests of the Government at Tokyo. The Japanese
    object to what they regard as the injustice of being set apart
    as a separate class, suffering political disabilities and
    deprived of rights other aliens enjoy.

    Mr. Morris leaves the issue open when he says: "The Japanese
    protest presents to all our people this very definite question:
    In the larger view of our relations with the Orient, is it wise
    thus to classify aliens on the basis of their eligibility to

    In pursuance of its local ends, California has adopted a
    provocative position and played into the hands of Japanese
    jingoes and militarists.

Lamentably, these simple facts have been cast adrift upon a stormy sea
of Californian prejudice. That sea, I fear, so fills the eye of the
Average American that oftentimes he fails entirely to descry the
shipwrecked waifs of Truth out there upon their little raft. Were he to
attempt to state his views upon the California question he would in all
probability quote as the source of his information that favourite
authority, "They say."

"They say Japanese immigrants are flooding into California and buying up
the farming land; they say the Japanese have large families; they say
they don't make desirable neighbours; they say that if things keep on
this way they will ultimately control the state. Certainly we don't want
any part of our country dominated by foreigners." The less familiar he
is with certain Californian traits the more he is likely to conclude: "I
guess it must be true or the Californians wouldn't be making such a row
about it."

His tendency to reason thus may be enhanced by the recollection of a
phrase he has heard: the "Yellow Peril"--one of the most poisonous
phrases ever coined. He does not know that the term was Made in Germany
for the very purpose of exciting international suspicion and ill-will.
He may not be alive to our real Yellow Peril--that of the yellow
press--but may, upon the contrary, actually acquire his views on
international affairs from such inflammatory sheets as those published
by William Randolph Hearst, himself a son of California and a leader in
the anti-Japanese chorus.

My Average American knows little of Californian politics, and nothing of
politics in Japan. He does not realize that Californian politicians are
largely responsible for the stirring up of anti-Japanese sentiment,
precisely as earlier politicians of the state were responsible for
anti-Chinese sentiment, and that in both cases vote-getting was a chief
motive. It is sometimes very convenient for a demagogue to have a
voteless alien race at hand to bully.

My Average American is probably unaware that more than two hundred
thousand Californian voters cast their ballots against the
discriminatory laws passed in November, 1920, even though the press of
California was generally closed to spokesmen representing sentiment
opposed to undue harshness toward the Japanese. Still less is he likely
to be aware that politicians in Japan know all the tricks familiar to
their Californian counterparts; that they, too, know how to gather votes
by stirring up race feeling. So, when he sees in his newspaper-headlines
that a Japanese whose name he has never before heard, but who, the paper
says, is high in politics, has been talking of war with the United
States, he begins to wonder whether those people over there are not,
perhaps, looking for trouble. And when he reads of Japan's great naval
building programme the notion becomes a little more concrete in his

Of course he does not understand that, meanwhile, in Japan there has
been going on a process precisely similar: that hostile and insulting
things said by American politicians are cabled to Japan and published
there, where they carry undue weight; and that while we are reading of
Japan's naval programme and wondering what it signifies, Japan is
reading of ours, and likewise wondering.

That any one could suspect the United States of aggressive purpose is
inconceivable to my Average American. Though the United States has
lately shown that she can fight, she has also shown she is loath to do
it. The Average American has no feeling of hostility toward Japan, and
the idea of war with Japan seems to him absurd to the point of being
fantastic. There is, as he conceives it, but one way in which such a war
could be started, and that is by Japanese aggression.

Assure him that the exact reverse of this view represents Japanese
sentiment and you will stupefy him. "You must be wrong about that," he
will tell you. "The Japanese must know that we hate war and that we have
no more desire to fight them than to select our wives out of a
photograph album." And he may add something about Japanese

That is another point:

When my Average American meets a stranger of his own race, or of almost
any European nationality, he can form, from the stranger's physiognomy,
some estimate of his character. It is a type of face he understands. But
the Oriented physiognomy baffles him. He cannot read it. To him it is as
a book in an unknown tongue--a very symbol for mystery.

That it may be equally difficult for the Japanese to judge of us would
not occur to him. Our faces are--well, they are regular _faces_; there
is nothing queer about them. _We_ aren't queer in any way. It is other
people who are queer.

                   *       *       *       *       *

If certain simple facts about Japan were understood in the United
States, and certain simple facts about the United States were understood
in Japan, it might not follow that the two nations would thereafter
cordially approve of all each other's policies and acts, but it ought
certainly to follow that they could view such policies and acts with
eyes more tolerant.

You and I, for instance, might not approve the aggressive methods of
some canvasser we had encountered, but if we knew that his wife and
family were crowded into a single room wondering where to-morrow's
breakfast would come from, we could forgive the man a good deal.
Similarly, if he were to see you or me bulldozing a helpless guest in
our own house, his disapproval of our action might be mitigated if he
understood that the entire neighbourhood had fallen into the habit of
using our house as a common camping ground for undesirable members of
their families, and that we had been goaded by these unwelcome visitors
into a state of desperation.

What are the essential things for the Japanese to learn about us?

They must get a better understanding of our various race problems. They
must realize that, important as the problem involving their settlers on
the Pacific Coast appears to them, it is to us a minor problem--being
one of the least of a number of race-problems with which we are

They must know that our population is derived from all the countries of
Europe. And they must be made aware that though we have in the past
viewed this situation with fatuous complacency, we no longer do so. Our
old beautiful theory that the United States was properly a refuge for
the oppressed of all other lands has lost a wheel and gone into the
ditch. Some of us have even begun to suspect that the oppressed of other
lands were in certain instances oppressed for what may have been good
and sufficient cause. We have found that some of these individuals, on
arriving in the United States, become so exhilarated by our free air
that from oppressed they turn into oppressors who would fain take our
government out of our hands and run it in the interest of the Kaiser,
the Soviets, or of Mr. De Valera's interesting Republic.

With these and other hyphenated racial problems we are continually
contending. We no sooner meet one than another arises. Now we must needs
create an Alien Property Custodian to take a hand. Now we deport a band
of the more violent Bolsheviks. Now we summon glaziers to put new
windows in the Union Club in New York, where the British flag (flying in
commemoration of the landing of the Pilgrim Fathers, three hundred years
ago) was hailed with bricks by members of a congregation emerging from
St. Patrick's Cathedral, across the way.

We used to speak with loving confidence of something called the "Melting
Pot," which was supposed to make newly arrived immigrants into good
American citizens. Sometimes it did so, but we have lately learned that
its by-product consisted too often of bricks and bombs.

We do not boast about the Melting Pot any more. Having overloaded it and
found it could not do the work we put upon it, we want time in which to
catch up with back orders, as it were. Meanwhile no new ones must be

But while the problems growing out of European immigration have of
recent years troubled us most, they do not constitute our greatest race
problem. Always in the background of our consciousness, like a volcano
quiescent but very much alive, looms our gigantic negro problem--the
problem which for the sins of our slave-importing and slave-holding
forefathers we inherit, and from which, according to our characteristic
way of "meeting" great quiescent problems, we are always endeavouring to
hide. For it is not our way to advance upon a bull and take him by the
horns. If a bull seeks to be taken by the horns he must do the
advancing. We Americans all know this about ourselves, but it is our way
to excuse the failing by boasting of the tussle we will give the bull if
he ever gets us in a corner.

There is no need here even to outline the tragedies of the negro
problem, but there is one aspect of the matter which should be spoken
of. Experience has shown that whereas immigrants from Europe can
ultimately be absorbed into what we may term the American race, the
negro, wearing the badge of his race in the pigment of his skin, is not
to be absorbed. Even the octoroon is clearly distinguishable from the
white. The negro race must, so far as the future can be read, remain a
race apart.

The case of the Indian affords another example of the failure of two
races, separated by colour and other physical markings, to fuse. In the
early days of this country's settlement, when the Indians strongly
predominated, they did not absorb the then few whites. When the time
came that there was an equal number of Indians and whites, still they
did not fuse. And now, when but a handful remains of the once mighty
Indian nations, that remnant still retains its racial integrity.

Here, however, is involved no question of racial inferiority. Whites and
Indians have to some small extent intermarried, and when both parties
represent the best of their respective races, not only is there no sense
of degradation to either, but the white descendants of such alliances
are often proud of their Indian blood.

In this whole matter of the fusibility of races there is, then, no basic
principle of inferiority or superiority. Such questions are here as
extraneous as in the case of oil and water, which though they will not
mix are not therefore designated as a superior and an inferior fluid.

The fact is that some inner consciousness tells us that the
characteristic physical markings of the chief races of the world were
not given them for nothing; that Nature intended the broad lines of race
to be maintained; and we are told that crosses which disregard these
natural race divisions are usually penalized by deterioration.

To find in this truth the faintest implication of insult would be
absurd. It would be as ridiculous to resent the statement that "like
seeks like," as to resent the statement that "honesty is the best

No people insists more firmly than the Japanese upon racial integrity.
The most fanatical English horseman could hardly be more finicky about
the maintenance of pure thoroughbred stock. Marriages between native
Japanese and foreigners are not encouraged and seldom occur. Among the
upper classes they almost never occur. A citizen of Japan cannot enter
into a legal marriage with a Korean or a Formosan, although Korea and
Formosa are Japanese colonies. (I am informed that steps were taken in
1918 to make such marriages legal, but up to the time of writing this
has not been accomplished.)

The law regulating the acts of the Japanese Imperial Family does not
permit the marriage of members of that family with persons other than
those of Japanese Imperial or noble stock. This law had to be amended in
order to make possible the marriage, several years ago, of a Japanese
Imperial princess, the daughter of Prince Nashimoto, with the heir to
the Korean Royal Family--which family, by the way, now ranks as a sort
of Japanese nobility. The marriage, it may be added, was unpopular with
the Japanese masses, because of their strong feeling that Japanese
blood, and especially Japanese Imperial blood, should not be diluted.
Had the prince been a European it is not improbable that a louder
protest would have been heard, for the Japanese does not, as a rule,
look with favour upon Eurasians. There are exceptions, but in the main
the man or woman of mixed Oriental and Occidental blood lives socially
upon an international boundary line, on neither side of which is
exuberant cordiality displayed.

The intelligent and patriotic sentiment of the United States is at
present overwhelmingly in favour of the stoppage of all immigration; and
even if there comes a time when it is felt that the floodgates may again
be opened, they will not, if wisdom prevails, be opened wide, but will
admit only such aliens as are susceptible to assimilation.

What does assimilation mean?

It means that the immigrant shall lose his racial identity in ours. It
means that he shall be susceptible to absorption into the body of our
race through marriage, or at the very least that his children shall be
susceptible to such absorption. And this in turn means, among other
things, that he shall have no ineradicable physical characteristics
which strongly differentiate him from our national physical type.

This is one chief reason why, in my opinion, Orientals should never
settle in the United States. Broadly speaking, they are no more suited
to become citizens of the United States than are we to become citizens
of Japan or China.

Another chief reason why Japanese labour immigration is not acceptable
to us is that the Japanese can live on less than we can. They are
willing to work longer hours for less pay. Also they are thrifty. These
are virtues; but the fact that they are virtues does not make Japanese
competition the more welcome to white labour.

This point also should readily be appreciated by the people of Japan,
who find it generally necessary to exclude Chinese labour on precisely
the same ground--that is, because a Chinaman can live on less than a
Japanese, and can consequently work for lower wages.

Had California, in her desire to prevent the further acquirement of land
by Japanese settlers, rested her case on these two clean-cut issues:
namely, unassimilability and economic necessity; had she refrained from
vituperation, taking up the matter purely on its merits; had she
recognized her duty as a state to the Nation and coöperated with the
Washington Government, instead of ignoring the international bearing of
the question and embarrassing the Government by radical and independent
state action; and had she, above all, shown any disposition to deal as
justly with the Japanese as the circumstances would permit; then,
without a doubt, the entire Nation would have been behind California.
And what is perhaps as important, the whole matter could then have been
presented to Japan in a reasonable and temperate manner, without
offence, yet with arguments the force of which Japan could hardly

But it is not apparently in the nature of the average Californian to go
at things in a moderate way. Moderation is not one of his traits. His
father, or grandfather, was a sturdy pioneer whose habit it was to
express resentment with a bowie-knife and answer antagonism with a Colt
.45. In the descendant these family traits are modified but not
extinguished. If he does not approve of the manner in which an amiable
alien wears his eyebrows he is likely to call him something--without a

Antagonism? Why should he mind antagonism? He likes it. He feels the
need of it. He must have something to combat--something to neutralize
the everlasting sunshine and the cloying sweetness of the orange-blossom
and the rose.

And alas, there is Senator Hiram Johnson, of whom the New York _Times_
recently remarked that, "he would lose his proprietary political issue
if the differences with Japan were peacefully composed. And we know,"
the _Times_ continued, "that it is better to meet a bear robbed of her
whelps than a politician deprived of his issue." And again, alas, there
is ex-Senator Phelan--though the ex-, which has recently been added to
his title, may tend, to some extent, to moderate his effectiveness as a
baiter of the Japanese. And thrice alas, there is Mr. V. S. McClatchy,
the Sacramento apiarist, whose "Bee" is trained to sting the Japanese
wherever it will hurt most.

                   *       *       *       *       *

That the difficulties between the two countries must be harmonized, all
thoughtful citizens of both will agree. For myself, I do not see how
this can be fully accomplished without some modification of the present
discriminatory alien land law of California--a law which, aimed at one
alien group alone, is not in consonance with the American sense of

The Japanese labourers who are already legally here--many of them
originally brought here, by the way, at the instance of Californian
employers--should be treated with absolute fairness. They should not be
deprived of the just rewards of their industry and thrift. Their racial
virtues should be appreciated and might well be emulated.

It should be clear, however, that for our good and the good of the
Japanese, no further immigrants of their labouring class should ever
enter the United States. And it should be equally clear that in such a
statement there is no cause for offence.

The United States does not invariably act wisely. Neither does Japan.
But the American heart is in the right place, and so is the Japanese

Let us try, then, on both sides, to look at these problems with honest
and disinterested eyes. Let us try to get each other's point of view.
Let us even go so far as to make due allowance for the frailty of human
nature, as exhibited on both sides of the Pacific.

But let us have no thought of straining good will by attempting to
become on any larger scale inmates of the same house, dwellers under the
same national roof.

                              CHAPTER XXI

_Some Reflections on New York Hospitality--And on the Hospitality of
Japan--Letters of Introduction--Bowing--How Japanese Politeness is
Sometimes Misunderstood--Entertaining Foreigners--Showing the Country at
its Best--What is the Mysterious "Truth" About Japan?--Japanese _versus_
Chinese--Leadership in the Far East--Will Japan Become a Moral
Leader?--A "First-Class Power"--The New "Long Pants"--How to Treat
Japan--The Wisdom of Roosevelt and Root._

A vigorous and sustained display of hospitality must always be
astonishing to one who calls New York his home; for New York is without
doubt the most inhospitable city in the world. In the jaded hotel-clerk,
the bored box-office man, and the fish-eyed head waiter, the spirit of
its welcome is personified.

There is no dissimulation. The stranger is as welcome in New York as he
feels. If there be a hotel room, a theatre seat, or a restaurant table
disengaged, he may have it, at a price. If all are occupied he may, so
far as New York cares, step outside and, with due regard to the season
and the traffic regulations, die of sunstroke or perish in a
snowdrift--whereupon his case comes automatically under the supervision
of the Street-Cleaning Department--and whatever else that Department may
leave lying around the New York streets, it does not leave them littered
with defunct strangers. Space in our city is too valuable.

The visitor arriving in New York with a letter of introduction to some
gentleman who is important, or who believes he is, may expect a few
minutes' talk with the gentleman in his office, and may regard it as a
delicate attention if his host refrains from fidgeting.

Should the stranger have some information which the New Yorker desires
to possess, he may find himself invited out to lunch. They will lunch at
a club in the top of a down-town skyscraper. Or if the letter of
introduction has a social flavour, the outlander will presently receive
by mail, at his hotel, a guest's card to a club up-town.

Let him make bold to visit this club and he will find there no one to
speak to save a rigid doorman and some waiters. The doorman will tell
him coldly where to check his hat and coat. He will see a few members in
the club, but will not know them, nor will they desire to know him. All
New Yorkers know more people than they want to, anyway. The stranger
with a guest's card to a New York club is as comfortable there as a cat
in a cathedral.

In the West it is different.

And again it is different in Japan.

Those who go well introduced to Japan meet there an experience such as
is hardly to be encountered in any other land. Japanese courtesy and
hospitality are fairly stupefying to the average Anglo-Saxon. The
Occidental mind is staggered by the mere externals.

You see two Japanese meet--two gentlemen, two ladies, or a lady and a
gentleman. They face each other at fairly close range. Then, as though
at some signal unperceived by the foreigner, they bow deeply from the
waist, their heads passing with so small a space between that one half
expects them to bump. Three times in succession they bow in this way,
simultaneously, their hands slipping up and down their thighs, in front,
like pistons attached to the walking-beam of a side-wheeler.

In conjunction with this profound and protracted bowing, especially when
the bowers are Japanese of the old school, or are unaccustomed to
associate with foreigners, the bystander will oftentimes hear a sibilant
sound made by the drawing in of air through the lips. According to the
Japanese idea, such sounds denote appreciation as of some delicious
spiritual flavour. This ancient form of politeness is, however, being
discarded by sophisticated young Japan for the reason that foreigners
find it peculiar; and the practice of audibly sucking in food as an
expression of gustatory ecstasy is also going out of fashion for the
same reason. The old ways are, nevertheless, held to by many an
aristocrat of middle age, or older.

The American, accustomed to regard hissing as a sign of disapproval, and
noisy eating as ill-bred, is naturally startled on first encountering
these manifestations. Japanese bowing, when directed at him, he finds
disconcerting. He may wish to be as polite as the politest, but he has
in his repertory nothing adequate to offer in return for such an

In this country we have never taken to bowing as practised in some other
lands. Our men look askance at Latin males when they lift their hats to
one another in salutation, and it may be observed that some of us tend
to slight the lifting of the hat a little bit even when saluting ladies,
clutching furtively at the brim and perhaps loosening the hat upon the
head, then hastily jamming it back in place.

The fact is that very few American men have polished manners. We rebel
at anything resembling courtliness. It makes us feel "silly." The
dancing school bow we were compelled to practise in the days of our
otherwise happy youth was a nightmare to us, and now in our maturity we
have a sense of doing something utterly inane when, at a formal dinner
party, it devolves upon us to present an arm to a lady, as if to assure
her of protection through the perils of the voyage from drawing room to
table. We much prefer to amble helter-skelter to the dining room.

In these matters, then, as in so many others, we find ourselves at the
opposite pole from the Japanese; and though Americans of the class
willing to appreciate merits of kinds they themselves do not possess
feel nothing but admiration for Japanese courtesy in its perfection, it
sometimes happens, lamentably enough, that others, less intelligent,
going to the Orient, utterly misread the meaning of Japanese politeness,
mistaking it for servility, which it most emphatically is not. Far from
being servile it is a proud politeness--a politeness grounded upon
custom, sensitiveness of nature, delicacy of feeling, which cause the
possessor to expect in others a like sensitiveness and delicacy and to
make him wish to outdo them in tact and consideration.

Nor does the failure of certain Americans to appreciate Japanese
courtesy and hospitality for what it is, stop here. Our yellow press and
organized Japanese-haters, aware that the higher hospitality of Japan
has oftentimes an official or semi-official character, are not satisfied
to seek a simple explanation for the fact, but prefer to discern in it
something artful and sinister.

It is perfectly true that the stranger going to Japan with good letters
of introduction meets a group composed almost entirely of government
officials, big business men, and their families. It is also true that he
is likely to meet a selected group of such men. The reason for this is
simple. While English is the second language taught in Japanese schools,
and while many Japanese can speak some broken English, there are still
relatively few men, and still fewer women, who have been educated abroad
and are sufficiently familiar with foreign languages, customs, and ideas
to feel easy when entertaining foreigners. This class is, moreover,
still further limited by the financial burden of extensive entertaining.

Thus it happens that there exists in Japan a social group which may be
likened to a loosely organized entertainment committee, with the result
that most Americans who are entertained in that country meet, broadly
speaking, the same set of people.

The Japanese are entirely frank in their desire to interest the world in
Japan. The Government maintains a bureau for the purpose of encouraging
tourists to visit the country and making travel easy for them. The great
Japanese steamship companies, the Toyo Kisen Kaisha and Nippon Yusen
Kaisha, are energetic in seeking passenger business. Journalists,
authors, men of affairs and others likely to have influence at home, are
especially encouraged to visit Japan. The feeling of the Japanese is
that there exists in the United States a prejudice against them, and
that the best way to overcome this is to show Japan to Americans and let
them form their own conclusions. They are proud of their country and
they believe that those who become acquainted with it will think well of

Some Americans charge them with endeavouring to show things at their
best, as if to do that were a sly sin.

The attitude of the Japanese in this matter may be likened to that of a
man who owns a home in some not very accessible region, the advantages
of which are doubted by his friends. Being proud of his place the owner
is hospitable. He urges those he knows to come and see it.

When his guests arrive he does not begin by taking them to look at the
sick cow, or the corner behind the barn where refuse is dumped, but
marches them to the west verandah--the verandah with the wonderful view.

To the average person such a procedure would seem entirely normal. Yet
there are critics of Japan who do not see it in that light. Their
attitude might be likened to that of someone who, when taken to the
verandah to see the view, declares that the view is being shown not on
its own merits, but because the host has cut the butler's throat and
does not wish his guests to notice the body lying under the parlour

Let an American of any influence go to Japan, be cordially received
there, form his impressions, and return with a good word to say for the
islands and the people, and the professional Japanese-haters have their
answer ready. The man has been victimized by "propaganda." He has been
flattered by social attentions, fuddled with food and drink, reduced to
a state of idiocy, and in that state "personally conducted" through
Japan in a manner so crafty as to prevent his stumbling upon the

The precise nature of this "Truth" is never revealed. It is merely
indicated as some vague awfulness behind a curtain carefully kept drawn.

Having so often heard these rumours I went to Japan in a suspicious
frame of mind. Arriving there, I made it my business to dive behind
whatever looked like a veil of mystery. As the reader who has followed
me thus far will be aware, I found a number of mysteries--the
fascinating mysteries of an old and peculiar civilization, out of which
an interesting modernism had rapidly grown.

I was considerably entertained in Japan; my sightseeing was oftentimes
facilitated by Japanese friends; but the significant fact is that no one
ever tried to prevent my seeing anything I wished to. And I wished to
see everything, good and bad. I visited the lowest slums, a
penitentiary, a poorhouse, a hospital, and some factories. I asked
questions. Sometimes they were embarrassing questions--about militarism
in Japan, about Shantung, about Korea and Formosa, about Manchuria and
Siberia. And though I do not expect any Japanese-hater to believe me, I
wish to declare here, in justice to the Japanese, that they gave me the
information I asked, even though to do so sometimes pained them.

I saw and learned things creditable to Japan and things discreditable,
just as in other lands one sees and learns things in both categories. I
found the Japanese neither angels nor devils. They are human beings like
the rest of us, having their virtues and their defects.

I came away liking and respecting them as a people. This fact I proclaim
with the full knowledge that those who do not like them will accept it,
not as a sign of any merit in the Japanese, but as proof of my
incompetence, or worse.

"But you have not been to China," some of my friends say. "You would
like the Chinese better than the Japanese."

That may be true or it may not. I am inclined to believe that there is,
on the surface, more natural sympathy and understanding between
Americans and Chinamen than between Americans and Japanese. The Chinaman
is more easily comprehensible to us. Also he is meek. We can talk down
to him. He will do as we tell him to. He is not a contender--as the
Japanese very definitely is--and is therefore easier to get along with.
As an individual he has many qualities to recommend him, though neither
patriotism nor cleanliness seems to be among them.

If I ever go to China I shall hope and expect not to fall into the
mental grooves which lead travellers in the Orient generally to feel
that if they like a Chinaman they cannot like a Japanese, and vice
versa. I hereby reserve the right to like both.

China appears to be an amiable, flaccid, sleepy giant who has long
allowed himself to be bullied, victimized, and robbed. Japan, on the
other hand, is a small, well-knit, pugnacious individual, well able to
look after himself, and profoundly engaged in doing so. Naturally the
two do not get on well together, and equally naturally the impotent
giant comes off the worse. One is, to that extent, sorry for him, but
one can hardly respect him as one would were he to rise up and assert
himself. One may, on the other hand, wish the little Japanese less
obstreperous, but one is bound to respect him for his prowess.
Physically and materially he has earned for himself the undisputed
leadership of the Far East. There remains, however, the question whether
he is spiritually great enough to become, as well, a moral leader. In
that question is bound up the future of the Orient. Some signs are
hopeful, some are not. The answer is locked in the vaults of time to

It is not surprising that the Japanese are proud of the leadership they
have already attained. Being relatively new members of the hair-pulling,
hobnailed family we call the Family of Nations, and having rapidly
become important members, they are inclined to harp more than necessary
upon this importance, so novel and so gratifying to them. They like to
talk about it. They delight in proclaiming themselves a "first-class
power." They rejoice exceedingly in their alliance with Great Britain,
not because the alliance itself has any very real importance (in view of
the attitude of Australia and Canada toward Japan, and of Britain's
regard for American sentiment, it cannot have), but because of the
flattering association. Japan likes to be seen walking with the big
fellows. In this she reminds one somewhat of a youth in all the pride
and self-consciousness of his first pair of "long pants."

Now there is this to be remembered about a youth in his first "long
pants": he requires careful handling. If you treat him like a child,
either patronizing or ignoring him, you will offend him mortally, and
not impossibly drive him to some furious action in assertion of his
manhood. But if, on the other hand, you are misled by his appearance of
maturity, and expect of him all that you would expect of a thoroughly
ripened man, then you are very likely to find yourself disappointed.

There is but one course to be pursued with a youth in this intermediate
stage. He must be managed with tact, firmness, and patience. In dealing
with the young, many adults fail to understand this, and in dealing with
a nation in a corresponding state of evolution, other nations are as a
rule even stupider than adult individuals.

Britain, wisest of all the world in international affairs, has not made
this mistake in her relations with Japan. The alliance is one proof of
it. The visit of the Crown Prince of Japan to England in the spring of
1921, is another. Nor was the tact of Britain in this situation ever
better displayed than in King George's speech, when, toasting the
Imperial guest, he said:

"Because he is our friend we are not afraid for him to see our troubles.
We know his sympathy is with us and that he will understand."

Would that the United States might draw the simple lesson from these two
short sentences spoken by England's king. Would that we might learn to
take that amiable tone. Would that Americans might understand how
instantly the Japanese--yes, and all other nations--respond to such

The problem of maintaining friendly relations with this neighbour on the
other side of the Pacific is not, in truth, nearly so difficult as many
of our other problems. It has been rendered difficult chiefly by our own
incredible bungling.

Among men a bungler is oftentimes feared and disliked exactly as if he
were malevolent, and among nations the situation is the same. No nation,
however strong, can afford to give offence unnecessarily to other great
powers; and the United States can least of all afford to irritate
needlessly those powers with which her front yard and her back yard are
shared: namely, Britain and Japan. Yet we are constantly annoying these
two nations without accomplishing any counterbalancing good purpose.

Britain, feeling, as we do, the tie of consanguinity, and having,
moreover, a shrewd eye to her own interest, forgives us, or at least
appears to. But in the case of Japan we are dealing with a very
different situation. There is no blood relationship to ease the strain;
nor is there always in Tokyo the calm, phlegmatic, self-interested
statesmanship of London. Tokyo is sometimes temperamental.

If we continue to bungle we shall ultimately gain the lasting ill-will
of Japan, and if we do that we shall almost certainly find ourselves
looking out of our back window not merely at a frowning Nippon, but at a
coalition between Japan, Russia, and Germany--a coalition into which we
ourselves, by our attitude, shall have driven Japan.

It is for us to decide whether we wish to encourage such an alliance.

With Mr. Hughes in the State Department we have, it appears, good reason
to be hopeful, but Mr. Hughes has not as yet had time to accomplish much
of an improvement in American-Japanese relations. If he does so he will
be the first American statesman to have made headway in the matter since
Roosevelt was in the White House and Elihu Root in the State Department;
for not since their time has there been evident in our dealings with
Japan a definite and understanding policy. The failure of our diplomacy
is all too plainly reflected in the steady diminution of the good
feeling which then existed.

Though he never visited Japan, Roosevelt, with his amazing understanding
of people, managed to sense the Japanese perfectly. He knew their
virtues and their failings. He realized precisely the state they had
attained in their evolution from mediævalism to modernity. He knew their
samurai loyalty and pride, their sensitiveness, their love of courtesy.

"Speak softly and carry a big stick," he used to say. In those words is
summed up a large part of his foreign policy. He knew when to send a
bearskin to the Emperor, and when to send a fleet.

Even when he sent that fleet of sixteen battleships, the visit paid was
one of courtesy. And courtesy, as I have tried to show, is never, never
lost upon Japan.

                                PART IV

                              CHAPTER XXII

    _The Missing Lunch--The Japanese Chauffeur--The Little
    Train--Japanese Railroads--The Railway Lunch--The Railway
    Teapot--Reflections on Some American Ways--Are the Japanese
    Honest?--A Story of Viscount Shibusawa--Travelling Customs--An
    Eavesdropping Episode_

Neither the box of lunch nor the automobile to take us to the station
was ready, though both had been ordered the previous night. We waited
until twenty minutes before train time; then made a dash for the station
in a taxi which happened along providentially--something taxis seldom do
in Tokyo.

The drive took us several miles across the city. Through a picturesque
and incoherent jumble of street traffic, over canals, past the huge
concrete amphitheatre in which wrestling bouts are held, across a steel
bridge spanning the Sumida River, through a maze of muddy streets lined
with open-fronted shops partially protected from the hot sun by curtains
of indigo cotton bearing advertisements in large white Chinese
characters, we flew precariously, facing collisions half a dozen times
yet magically escaping them as one always does behind a Japanese
chauffeur. It is said that the Japanese chauffeur is not, as a rule, a
good mechanic. As to that I cannot say, but I assure you he can drive.
At an incredible speed he will whirl you through the dense slow-moving
crowds of a street festival or around the hairpin curves of a muddy
mountain pass with one wheel following the slippery margin of a
precipice, but he will never hurt so much as a hair of your head,
unless, perchance, it hurts your hair to stand on end.

The Ryogoku Station, where we found our friends awaiting us, is a modest
frame structure, terminus of an unimportant railway line serving the
farming and fishing villages of the Boso Peninsula--which depends from
the mainland in such a way as to form the barrier between Tokyo Bay and
the Pacific.

The train seemed to have been awaiting us. It started as soon as we had
boarded it, and was presently rocking along through open country at
twenty-five or thirty miles an hour. There was something of solemn
playfulness about that little train. The cars were no heavier than
street cars and the locomotive would have made hard work of drawing a
pair of Pullmans, yet in its present rôle it gave a pompous performance,
hissing, whistling, and snorting as importantly as if it had been the
engine of a great express. The little guards, too, joined gravely in the
game, calling out the names of country stations as majestically as if
each were a metropolis. And the very landscape took its place in the
whimsy, for our toy train ran over it as over a flat rug patterned with
little green rice fields.

The Japanese Government, which so woefully mishandles its telephones and
cables, does better with its railroads. They are fairly well run. Trains
are almost invariably on time, and the cars are not uncomfortable,
although the narrower gauge of the Japanese roads makes them necessarily
smaller than our cars.

The ordinary Japanese sleeping-car is divided into halves. One half is
like an American Pullman sleeper, very much scaled down in size, while
the other half resembles a European _wagon-lit_ in miniature, with a
narrow aisle at one side and compartments in which the berths are
arranged transversely to the train.

As in Europe, there are three classes of day coaches. Except where
trains are overcrowded, as they often are, one may travel quite as
comfortably second-class as first. Coaches of all three classes are like
street cars with long seats running from end to end at either side.
Usually the car is divided in the middle by a partition, the theory
being that one end is for smokers; but in practice the Japanese, who are
inveterate users of tobacco, seem to smoke when and where they please
while travelling.

Express trains carry dining cars which are like small reproductions of
ours. Some of these diners serve Japanese-style meals, some European,
and some both.

Much thought has evidently been given to making travel easy for
English-speaking people. Each car of every train carries a sign giving,
in English, the train's destination; time-tables printed in English are
easily obtained, railroad tickets are printed in both languages, and the
name of each town is trebly set forth on railroad station signs, being
displayed in English, in Chinese characters, and in kana.

As in the United States, station porters wear red caps but they have the
European trick of passing baggage in and out of the car windows, so that
the doorways are not blocked with it when passengers wish to get on and
off. Also at stations of any consequence there are boys wearing green
caps, who peddle newspapers, tea, and lunches.

The Japanese railway lunch is an institution as highly organized as the
English railway lunch. On the platforms of all large stations you can
purchase almost any sort of lunch you desire, neatly wrapped in paper
napkins and packed in an immaculate wooden box. On each box the date is
stamped, so that the traveller may be sure that everything is fresh. You
may get a box containing liberal portions of roast chicken and Kamakura
ham, with salad and hard-boiled eggs and a dainty bamboo knife and fork;
or if you wish a light repast, a box of assorted sandwiches, thin and
moist as sandwiches should always be but so seldom are. Or, again, you
may get a variety of Japanese dishes, similarly packed.

On this trip I selected a box of that delicacy known as _tai-meshi_, and
was not sorry that my order for lunch had been overlooked at the hotel.
Tai-meshi consists of a palatable combination of rice and shredded
sea-bream cooked in a sauce containing saké which obliterates the fishy
taste of the sea-bream. The box cost me the equivalent of seventeen
cents, chop-sticks included. From the green-cap boy who sold it to me I
also purchased, for five cents, an earthenware pot containing tea, and a
small cup, and when I had drunk the tea I learned that I could have the
pot refilled with hot water at practically any station, for a couple of
cents more.

Just as your English traveller leaves the railway lunch basket in the
train when he is done with it, your Japanese traveller leaves the teapot
and cup. Drinking the philosopher's beverage I found myself wondering
whether such a system would be successful in the United States. I
concluded that it would not. Some of the lunch-baskets and teapots would
get back to their rightful owners, but many would disappear. There is a
certain type of American, and he is numerous, who has a constitutional
aversion to conforming to a nice, orderly custom of this kind. He has
too much--let us call it initiative--for that. If he thought the
lunch-basket and teapot worth taking home he would take them home; nor
would he be deterred by the mere fact that they were not his, having
only been rented to him. His subconscious sense of the importance of his
own "personality" would lift him over any little obstacle of that kind.
Without thinking matters out he would feel that because he had used them
they were his. What he had used no one else should use--even though its
usefulness to him was past. Wherefore, if he thought the basket and the
teapot not worth taking, he would stamp his "personality" upon them. He
might take the basket apart to see how it was made, or he might draw out
his penknife and cut holes in it. Then he would consider what to do with
the teapot. Finding that it fitted nicely in the palm of his hand, and
sensing by touch its brittleness, he would want to use it as a missile.
If he prided himself on the accuracy of his pitching he would throw it
at a telegraph pole, but if he felt quite certain that he could not hit
a pole he would wait for a large rock pile or a factory wall, and would
hurl it against that with all his might, to make the largest possible

                   *       *       *       *       *

People often ask me whether the Japanese are honest. Doubt on this
subject is, I believe, largely due to the old story that Chinese tellers
are employed in Japanese banks--all Chinamen being trustworthy and all
Japanese the reverse. I know of no better example of the vitality of a
lie than is afforded by the survival of this one. It is a triple lie.
Japanese banks do not have Chinese tellers. The Japanese as a race are
no more dishonest than other people. The leading bankers of Japan, many
of whom I have met, are men of the highest character and the greatest
enlightenment, and would be so recognized in any land. Nor is this
merely my opinion. It is the opinion I have heard expressed by several
of the greatest bankers and manufacturers in the United States--men who
have done business with Japanese bankers and who know them thoroughly.

It is true that trademarks and patented articles manufactured in other
countries have been stolen by some Japanese manufacturers and merchants,
and that this abominable practice is to some extent kept up even to-day.
But conditions in this respect are improving as business morality grows.
Nor should it be forgotten that the present standard of international
commercial ethics, which so strongly reprehends such thefts, is
comparatively a new thing throughout the entire world. It must, however,
be admitted that Japan is not, in this particular, fully abreast of the
other great nations.

As for the average of probity among the people at large I can say
this--that if I were obliged to risk leaving a valuable possession in a
public place, on the chance of its being found by an honest person and
returned to me, I should prefer to take the risk in Japan, than in most
other countries. Certainly, I should prefer to take it there than in the
United States--unless I could specify certain rural sections of the
United States, where I should feel that my chances were better than in
the neighbourhood of New York.

The Japanese are respecters of property, private and public. One may
visit the historic buildings of Japan without seeing a single evidence
of vandalism. I was immensely struck by this. It was so unlike home!
More than once, over there, I thought of a visit I paid, some years ago,
to Monticello, the beautiful old mansion built near Charlottesville,
Virginia, by Thomas Jefferson, and of what the caretaker told me. All
visitors, he said, had to be watched. Otherwise vines would be torn from
the walls of the house, bricks chipped, and marble statuary broken. They
had even found it necessary to build an iron fence around Jefferson's
grave to protect the monument from American patriots who would like to
take home little pieces of it.

The custom of visiting historic places and the graves of historic
figures is much more common in Japan than in America. Many of Japan's
most famous monuments are entirely unprotected, but instead of knocking
them to pieces to get souvenirs the pilgrim will burn a little incense
before them, and perhaps leave his visiting card on the spirit of the
departed. Or he may write a poem.

Dr. John H. Finley has told me a story which well illustrates the
delicate and reverential attitude of the Japanese in such matters.

When Baron--now Viscount--Shibusawa came to the United States several
years ago, a banquet was given in his honour in New York by the Japan
Society, of which Doctor Finley was then president.

At the banquet Doctor Finley remarked to the guest of honour that he
heard he had sent an emissary with a wreath to be laid upon the grave of
Townsend Harris, first American Minister to Japan, who is buried in

"No," said Baron Shibusawa, "that is not exactly what occurred. I did
not send the wreath. I took it myself and laid it on the grave. And I
wrote two poems in memory of Townsend Harris and hung them in the
branches of a Japanese maple tree overhanging his resting-place."

                   *       *       *       *       *

But let us get back to our little railroad train.

The men among our Japanese fellow travellers were sitting on the seats
with their feet on the floor, as we do, but the women and children had
slipped off their clogs and were squatting in the seats with their backs
to the aisle, looking out of the windows or dozing with their heads
resting upon their hands, or against the window-frame. One elderly lady
was lying at full length on the seat, asleep, with her bare feet resting
on the cushions.

The Japanese are much less fearful than we of the interest of fellow
passengers, and indeed, so far as concerns strangers of their own race,
they are justified in this, for Japanese travellers pay little or no
attention to one another. In foreigners they are more interested. A
Japanese who can speak English will frequently start a conversation with
the traveller from abroad, and will almost invariably endeavour to be
helpful. Rustics stare at the stranger with a sort of dumb interest,
just as American rustics might stare at a Japanese; and young Japanese
louts sometimes snicker when they see a foreigner, and comment upon him,
just as young American louts might do on seeing a Japanese passing
by--especially if he was wearing his national costume.

"Pipe the Jap," a New York street-corner loafer might exclaim; while
similarly an ill-bred youth of Tokyo, Kobe or Yokohama might remark:
"_Keto_," which means "hairy foreigner." The term _keto_ is not intended
to be complimentary, yet no more real harm is meant by its user them
would be meant by an American smart-aleck who should speak of "chinks,"
"kykes" or "micks." Such terms merely exemplify the instinctive
hostility of small-minded men the world over, for all who are not
exactly like themselves.

Some Japanese country folk who sat opposite us on our journey to the
Boso Peninsula were clearly much interested in us--particularly in the
ladies of our party, and as so few foreigners understand the Japanese
language, they felt safe in talking us over amongst themselves.

"What a strange little thing to wear on one's head!" said the husband,
to the wife referring to a neat little turban worn by one of our ladies.

"Yes," said the wife, "and I don't see how she can walk in those shoes
with their tall, thin little heels. Aren't they funny!"

These remarks and others revealing their interested speculations as to
which women of our party were married to which men, were translated to
us by the friend who had organized the excursion. Being a good deal of a
wag, he let them talk about us until the subject seemed to be exhausted.
Then he addressed a casual question, in Japanese, to the husband across
the way. I have seldom seen a man look more disconcerted than that one
did just then. He answered the question, but that was the last word we
heard him speak. Though an hour passed before he and his wife got off
the train, and though they had until then talked volubly together, the
complete silence which came over them was not broken by so much as a
monosyllable until they reached the station platform. There, however, we
saw that they had begun to talk again, and with gestures showing not a
little agitation. I had a feeling that each was blaming the other for
the whole affair. Relations between husband and wife are, in some
respects at least, a good deal more alike in all countries than is
commonly supposed.

                             CHAPTER XXIII

    _Katsuura and the Basha--A Noble Coast--Scenes on a Country
    Road--The Fishers--A Temple and Tame Fish--We Arrive at an
    Inn--I See a Bath--I Take One--Bathing Customs--The Attentive
    Nesan--In the Tub_

A journey of about three and a half hours brought us to the seacoast
town of Katsuura, the terminus of the little railway line. The industry
of Katsuura is fishing, and there is a kind of dried fish put up there
which has quite a reputation. Almost every town in Japan has some
specialty of its own, whether an edible or something else--something for
the traveller to purchase and take home as a souvenir. Many of the best
Japanese colour-prints were originally made for this purpose--souvenirs
of cities and towns, celebrated inns, famous actors, and notorious

Leaving the train we got into a _basha_--a primitive one-horse bus with
tiny wheels--and took a highway leading south along the shore. The day
was brilliant and our road, skirting the edge of the lofty coastal hills
half way between their green serried peaks and the yellow beach on which
the surf played below, was white and dusty in the hot sun. On level
stretches and down-grades we rode in the basha, but we always got out
and walked up hills to spare the venerable horse. Nor will travellers
who have ever followed such a system be surprised that, of the twenty
miles we covered on our way to Kamogawa, fully fifteen seemed to be
up-hill miles.

This shore continually reminded me of other shores--Brittany, in the
region of Dinard and Cancale, and the cliffs between Sorrento and
Amalfi. But here the contours were more tender. Many a beach I saw, with
tiny houses strewn along the margin of the sand, fishing boats drawn up
in rows, and swarthy men and women bustling about among the nets and
baskets, which made me think of the Marina at Capri. Even the air was
that of Capri in the springtime. But here there was no song.

    [Illustration: Tai-no-ura--Tiny houses strewn about the margin
    of the sand, fishing boats drawn up in rows, and swarthy men and
    women bustling about among the nets and baskets]

A succession of lofty promontories jutting aggressively toward the sea
gave interest to the road. Sometimes they turned its course, forcing it
to swing out around them; in other cases tunnels penetrated the barrier
hills, and we would find ourselves trudging along beside the basha,
through damp echoing darkness, with our eyes fixed on a distant point of
light, marking the exit, ahead.

It was a much-travelled road. We were continually meeting other bashas
creaking slowly through the white dust, or drawn up before inns and
teahouses where passengers were pausing for refreshment. During the
entire afternoon we met not a single automobile, and when, after an hour
or two, a Japanese lady, beautifully dressed and sheltered from the sun
by a large parasol, flashed past in a shining ricksha propelled by two
coolies, she made a picture strangely sophisticated, elegantly exotic,
against the background of that dusty country highway so full of humble

All the women of this region were hard at work. Some were labouring
beside their husbands in the mud and water of the paddy fields, others
were occupied upon the beach, piling up kelp and carrying it back to
huge wooden tubs in which it was being boiled to get the juice from
which iodine is extracted, still others were transporting baskets of
fresh shiny fish from the newly landed boats to the village markets, or
were drawing heavy carts laden with fish-baskets from one village to
another. For this coast is the greatest fishing district of all Japan.

On the streets of every village we saw fish being handled--large,
brilliant fish laid out in rows on straw mats, preparatory to shipment,
huge tubs of smaller fish, and great baskets of silver sardines. Nor was
our awareness of piscatorial activities due only to the organs of sight.
Now and then a gust of information reached the olfactory organs
disclosing with a frankness that was unmistakable, the proximity of a
pile of rotted herring, which is used to fertilize the fields.

Winding down a hill through a grove of ancient trees, with the sea
glistening between the trunks on one side of the way, we came upon a
weathered temple, and, rounding it from the rear, found a tiny village
clustered at its base, in as sweet a little cove as one could wish to
see--low, brown houses nestling among rocks and gnarled pines, a
crescent of yellow beach with fishing boats drawn up beyond the reach of
the tide, and children playing among them looking like nude bronzes come
to life.

This place, known as Tai-no-ura--Sea-bream Coast--small and remote as it
is, has a fame which extends throughout Japan. For it was the abiding
place of the thirteenth-century fisherman-priest Nichiren, who, though
he antedated Martin Luther by about two and a half centuries, is
sometimes called the Martin Luther of Japanese Buddhism. The Nichiren
sect is to this day powerful, having more than five thousand temples and
a million and a half adherents. Its scriptures are known as the
_Hokkekyo_, and I find a certain quaint interest in the fact that,
because this word suggests the call of the Japanese nightingale, the
feathered songster is known by a name which means "scripture-reading

The old weathered temple, which we visited, is known as the _Tanjo-ji_,
or Nativity Temple, and is said to have been established in 1286, but to
me the most appealing thing about this district is the respect which to
this day is accorded Nichiren's prohibition against the catching of fish
along this sacred shore. The fishermen of Tai-no-ura go far out before
casting their nets, and this has been the case for so long that the fish
have come to understand that they are safe inshore, and will rise to the
surface if one knocks upon the gunwale of a boat.

    [Illustration: The gates of the Tanjo-ji temple, dedicated to
    Nichiren, "the Martin Luther of Japan"]

I should have liked to linger at this place, but the afternoon was
waning and we had still half a dozen miles or more to go.

Sunset was suspended like a rosy fluid in the air when our basha drove
down the main street of Kamogawa and stopped before the door of the inn.

To an American, accustomed to the casual reception accorded hotel guests
in his native land, the experience of arriving at a well-conducted
Japanese inn is almost sensational. The wheels of our vehicle had hardly
ceased to turn when a flock of servitors came running out to welcome and
to aid us. A pair of coolies whisked our bags into the portico, and as
we followed we were escorted by the gray-haired proprietress and a bevy
of nesans, all of them beaming at us and bowing profoundly from the

While I sat on the doorstep removing my shoes, two coolies came from the
rear of the building bearing between them a pole from which two huge
buckets of hot water were suspended. Pushing back a sliding paper door
they entered an adjoining room. A moment later I heard a great
splashing, as of water being poured, and looking after them saw that
they were emptying their buckets into a large stationary tub built of
wood. Nor was I the only witness to the preparation of the bath. Two
Japanese women and three children stood by, waiting to use it. And they
were all ready to get in.

There was something superbly matter-of-fact about this whole performance
which gave me a sudden flash of understanding. All the explaining in the
world could not have told me so much about the Japanese point of view on
matters of this kind as came through witnessing this picture.

Adam and Eve were not progenitors of these people nor was the apple a
fruit indigenous to Japan.

The other members of our party were preparing to bathe in the sea before
dinner, but I desired a hot bath and had asked for it as soon as I
arrived. While in my room preparing I found myself wondering whether I
was about to have an experience in mixed bathing, and if so how well my
philosophy would stand the strain.

But the peculiar notions of foreigners concerning privacy in the bath
were, it appeared, not unknown to the proprietress of the inn. When I
descended the stairs arrayed in the short cotton kimono provided by the
establishment, I was not shown to the large bathroom near the entrance,
but was taken in tow by a little nesan, who indicated to me that I was
to put on wooden clogs--a row of which stood by the door--and follow her
across the street to the annex.

The bath was ready. Entering the room with me the nesan slipped the door
shut and in a businesslike manner which could be interpreted in but one
way, began looping back her sleeve-ends with cord.

"She intends to scrub you!" shrieked all that was conventional within
me. "Put her out!"

"But don't you like to be scrubbed?" demanded the inner philosopher.

"Her being a woman makes me self-conscious," I replied to my other self.

"It shouldn't. Your being a man doesn't make her self-conscious. What
was it we were saying a little while ago about false modesty?"

"As nearly as I can remember," replied Convention, evasively, "we agreed
that Americans are full of false modesty."

Whereupon I turned to the little nesan and with a gesture in the
direction of the door exclaimed, "Scat!"

Understanding the meaning of the motion if not the word, she obediently
scatted, closing the door behind her. She did not go far, however.
Through the paper I could hear her whispering with another nesan in the
corridor. I went to the door with the purpose of fastening it, but there
was no catch with which to do so. This left me with a certain feeling of
insecurity as I bathed.

A well-ordered Japanese bathroom, such as this one was, has a false
floor of wood with drains beneath it, so that one may splatter about
with the utmost abandon. One does one's actual washing outside the tub,
rinsing off with warm water dipped in a pail from a covered tank at one
end of the tub. Not until the cleansing process has been completed does
one enter the water to soak and get warm. Bathtubs in hotels and
prosperous homes are large, and the size of them makes the preparation
of a bath a laborious business; for running hot water is a luxury as yet
practically unknown in Japan, the water for a bath being heated either
in the kitchen, or by means of a little charcoal stove attached to the
outside of the tub. To heat the bath by the latter system, which is the
one generally used, takes an hour or two; wherefore it is obviously
impracticable to prepare a separate bath for each member of the
household. In a private house one tub of water generally does for all.

Foreigners newly arrived in Japan are unpleasantly impressed by this
system of bathing, and in a Japanese inn they generally make a great
point of having first chance at the bath.

Though I do not expect to convince the reader that what I say is so, I
must bear testimony to the truth that it is the idea rather than the
fact of the Japanese bath which is at first unpleasant. You must
understand that the Japanese are physically the cleanest race of people
in the world; that, as I have already said, they bathe fully before
entering the tub; that the tubbing is less a part of the cleansing
process than a means for getting warm; and finally that the water in a
tub which has been used by several persons looks as fresh as when first

I once asked a cosmopolitan Japanese whether he did not prefer our
system of bathing. He replied that he did not. "I don't think your way
is quite so clean as ours," he explained. "Not unless you take two
baths, one after the other, as I always do when I am in Europe or
America. I wash in the first bath. Then I draw a fresh tub to rinse off

Just as this gentleman prefers his native style of bathing I prefer
mine; yet I should not object to succeeding him in the bath. Nor am I
alone in liking the deep spaciousness of the large-size Japanese
bathtub. An American gentleman who was in Japan when I was is having a
Japanese bathroom built into his house near New York.

With the bath of the proletariat the system is the same, but the tub is
smaller and less convenient. It consists of what is practically nothing
more nor less than a large barrel with a small charcoal stove attached
to one side. Often it stands out-of-doors.

                   *       *       *       *       *

On emerging from the hot water I found myself without a towel. I went to
the door, opened it sufficiently to put my head out through the aperture
and summoned the nesan who stood near by.

"Towel," I said.

She smiled and shook her head, uncomprehending.

I opened the door a little wider, thrust out one arm and made rubbing
motions on it.

"_Hai!_" she exclaimed, brightly, and went scampering off.

As it was chilly in the room I returned to the hot tub to wait. There I
remained for some minutes. Then it occurred to me that, understanding my
desire for privacy in the bath, the nesan might be waiting outside with
my towel, so I got out again with the intention of looking into the

Just as I emerged, however, the door opened and in she came.

"Scat!" I cried. Whereupon she handed me two towels and fled.

It was well that she did bring two, for the native towel consists of a
strip of thin cotton cloth hardly larger than a table napkin. The
Japanese do not pretend to dry themselves thoroughly with these towels,
but, as I have elsewhere mentioned, wring them out in hot water and use
them as a mop, after which they go out and let the air finish the work.

I dried myself as best I could, slipped into the cotton kimono, and
returned to the main building of the inn.

In the corridor I encountered my friend the linguist.

"I want to take a photograph of that bathtub," I told him.

"It won't explain itself in a photograph," he returned, "unless there's
somebody in it."

I knew what he meant. An American or European, accustomed to the style
of bathtub that stands upon the floor, would naturally assume from a
picture of this one that it was similarly set. But that was not so. It
extended perhaps two feet below the level of the floor; there was a step
half-way down the inside to aid one in getting in or out; it was so deep
that a short person standing in it would be immersed almost to the

"You get in it, then, will you?"

"You ought to have a Japanese."

"But that's out of the question."

"No, it isn't."

Nor was it. By the time I got my kodak and put in a roll of film he had
a subject for me.

It was the little nesan to whom I had said "scat!" Nor could a _grande
dame_ in an opera box have exhibited more aplomb than she did when I
photographed her.

    [Illustration: Nor could a _grande dame_ in an opera box have
    exhibited more aplomb than she did when I photographed her]

                              CHAPTER XXIV

    _A Walk in a Kimono--Dinner at the Inn--Sweet Servitors--An
    Evening's Enchantment--The Disadvantages of Ramma--My Neighbours
    Retire--A Japanese Bed--Breakfast--"Bear's Milk"--The Village of
    Nabuto--An Island and a Cave--The Abelone Divers--A Sail with

"Let's take a walk before dinner," said the linguist when our
photographic enterprise had been accomplished.

"All right. I'll go and dress."

"Come as you are."

"After a hot bath I might take cold in this thin kimono."

"No. That's a curious thing about hot baths in Japan. The reaction from
them is much like that we get at home from cold ones."

"But, dressed this way, won't we look queer?" I surveyed the lower hem
of my kimono which hung only a little below my knees.

"It's the costume of the country."

"But it's awfully short on us. It seems to me we ought to put on
underwear at least."

"Nonsense. A man doesn't know what comfort is until he has strolled out
in a kimono after a bath."

Our costumes were identical. We looked equally absurd. I consented.

My one difficulty on that stroll was with my clogs. I could not walk as
fast as my companion, nor did I dare to lift my feet from the ground
lest the clogs should fall off. And yet I can see that if one is brought
up on clogs there is much to be said in their favour. They are durable
and cheap. They neither suffocate nor cramp the foot.

Once I spoke to a Japanese friend of the merits of the clog, but though
he admitted that his clog-wearing countrymen had no trouble with their
feet, he thought clogs, on the whole, a bad thing. "The movement for
good roads in Japan," he said, "started when people began to wear shoes.
Those who wear clogs do not object to bad pavements, and we shall never
get good ones until clogs are discarded by the majority."

We had not walked a block before I perceived that my companion had not
overstated the case for the kimono as a costume for a stroll on a balmy
evening. It does not bind one anywhere, but leaves one's arms and legs
delightfully free. Moreover the air penetrates to the body, and the
feeling of it after a very hot bath is as refreshing as an alcohol rub.

The streets were full of people many of them fishermen dressed much as
we were. But though reason told me that in our kimonos we were less
conspicuous than we should have been in our customary attire, I could
not rid myself of the feeling that we were masqueraders, and that if
people were to recognize us through the darkness for foreigners, we
should have a crowd following us. Wherefore, though our promenade proved
absolutely uneventful, I was upon the whole relieved when, after having
gone the length of the main street and back, we re-entered the hotel.

Our dinner that night was purely Japanese; the nesans brought the usual
little foot-high lacquer tables laden with covered bowls of porcelain
and lacquer; we sat upon silken cushions on the matting in the
linguist's room and struggled bravely with our chop-sticks.

The room was on the second floor. Through the open shoji we could look
across a tiny garden into other rooms, open like ours to the soft
evening air, and we could see the nesans gliding back and forth between
these rooms and the kitchen, moving along the polished wooden floor of
the gallery with their characteristic pigeon-toed shuffle.

In an American hotel our little party would have been served by one
waiter; here we were attended by three nesans, one of whom squatted on
the matting beside the rice bucket, ready to help us when we held out
our bowls for more (for we had rice with our soup, our fish, and our
tea), while the other two brought things from the kitchen, below stairs.
And no matter how many times they had been in the room before, they
always dropped to their knees, on entering, and bent their foreheads
nearly to the floor in respectful salutation, ere they served the new

This courtesy, so natural to them, made me feel very, very far from
home, for in it seemed to be crystallized the romantic charm of the
antipodes. The whole environment, moreover, enhanced my feeling. The
exquisite simplicity of our room, and of the other rooms across the
garden; the soft lights shining through the rice paper of shoji here and
there; the silhouettes, so Japanese, which passed across them; the
shimmering of the dark green leaves of small trees whose upper branches
reached a little bit above the floor level; the tinkling note of a
samisen played in some remote part of the building; the almond eyes and
massed ebony hair of our gentle little servitors, their butterfly
costumes, the strange, soft rattle of their language, the curious
unfamiliar flavours of the viands; all these combined to make me feel as
one transported into an enchantment, vivid and fantastic as a painting
by Rackham or Dulac.

And yet, fascinated as I was with all this magic loveliness, I felt a
gentle melancholy. For the shoji at the rear of the room were pushed
back like the others, and from the beach on which they opened there came
to me through the darkness an insistent note of definite and almost
terrible reality: the murmur of that ocean, black, restless, turbulent,
ominous, unimaginably vast, by which I was cut off from home.

                   *       *       *       *       *

My own room was next to that of the linguist, but the room beyond mine
was occupied by a Japanese couple. The rooms were divided by walls
consisting of opaque paper screens, sliding in grooves, and even these
frail partitions were incomplete, for, as in all Japanese houses, there
were _ramma_, or grills, over the tops of the screens. The purpose of
these ramma is to give ventilation at night, when the building is
solidly encased in wooden shutters; but though it is true that they do
permit some air to circulate, it is equally true that they permit the
circulation of sound and light. Herein lies the foreigner's chief
objection to the Japanese style of house--it is utterly without privacy.

I endeavoured to be quiet as I made ready for bed, and I am sure my
Japanese neighbours likewise tried, but their whisperings and the little
rustling sounds they made as they moved about, enhanced rather than
diminished my consciousness of their proximity.

After I had put out my light my room continued for some time to be
illuminated by the glow which came through the ramma on both sides.
Presently the linguist's light went out, but that from the room of my
other neighbours persisted, keeping me awake. This was the first time
that I acutely missed chairs as an adjunct to Japanese life; if I had a
chair I could hang a kimono over it to make a screen for my eyes. At
last, however, I heard a little click, which was immediately followed by
darkness. Then a sound of soft steps. Then a comfortable sigh. Then

It was my first night in a Japanese bed. The bed consisted of two thin
floss-silk mattresses, laid one above the other on the matting, and
partly covered with what seemed to be a towel. It was all very clean.
The pillow was a cylinder of cotton about six inches in diameter,
stuffed with some substance as heavy and as crackling as pine needles,
but odourless. I think the stuffing was of rice-husks. My nightgown was
a cotton kimono like the one in which I had gone walking, and my
coverlet was the usual bed-covering of Japan--a quilted satin robe, very
long, with armholes and spacious sleeves: a cross between a comforter
and a kimono. I did not use the sleeves, but pulled it over as one would
if sleeping under an overcoat.

In all but one respect it was a comfortable bed. The thing that troubled
me was the hard round pillow. I moved it about; I tried to flatten it; I
tried my hand under it, and over it, between it and my face.

"I shall never be able to sleep on such a pillow!" I thought, irritably.
And the next thing I knew it was morning and time to get up.

This inn, being exceptionally well appointed, provided separate
wash-rooms for men and women. We trooped down and bathed. Then we
breakfasted. The breakfast was much like the dinner of the night
before--rice, soup, fish, and tea.

"If any one feels the need of coffee," said the linguist, "we may be
able to get it, but the chances are it won't be very good. I've got a
can of condensed milk here, too." He held up the can. I noticed that it
was called "Bear Brand" Milk, and that the label bore the picture of a

"Don't they have fresh milk at these inns?" someone asked.

"A few of them have it now," he replied, "but it is only in the last few
years that the people of this locality have learned to use milk at all."

This reminded him of a story which he told us.

On one of his walking trips he had stopped at an inn which boasted of
having been patronized by an Imperial Prince. The friend who accompanied
the linguist on that trip wanted coffee for breakfast, and the innkeeper
managed to supply it. The linguist had a can of "Bear Brand" Milk in his
haversack, but he did not wish to open it if milk could be produced at
the inn.

"Can you get me some milk?" he asked the nesan.

"What kind of milk?" she inquired.

Perceiving that she knew nothing of our custom of using milk in tea and
coffee, he amused himself by replying:

"Whale's milk."

The nesan went downstairs and presently returned to say that there was
no whale's milk to be had.

"This inn has been patronized by an Imperial Prince," exclaimed the
linguist, affecting astonishment, "yet you have no whale's milk?"

The nesan admitted that such was the case.

"Then," said he, "bring me elephant's milk. I'll try to make it do."

Again she departed.

"The proprietor is very sorry," she reported when she came back, "but he
has just run out of elephant's milk."

"Let me see the proprietor."

When the latter appeared he was most apologetic. There had been an
unprecedented demand for elephant's milk in the last few days, he
explained, and his supply had been exhausted. He expected to have some
more shortly, but the express was slow.

"Very well," said the linguist, "I suppose I'll have to get along as
best I can on bear's milk." Whereupon he opened the "Bear Brand" can and
poured some of its contents into his coffee, while the hotel proprietor
and the nesan looked on with bulging eyes.

"You ought to be ashamed of yourself," I told him when he had finished
the story.

"The joke rebounded on me," he said. "After that I became a personage in
the inn, and I had to tip correspondingly when I left--for according to
the old custom of the country the size of the tip in a hotel is not in
proportion to the service received, but in proportion to the rank of the
tipper. And besides, the proprietor was very curious to know how they
milked the bears. I had a devil of a time explaining that."

                   *       *       *       *       *

After breakfast we set out on foot for the village of Nabuto, several
miles farther along the shore. The road, winding around the rampart
hills, was as beautiful as that we had travelled the day before, and as
full of interesting figures and intimate glimpses of the life of these
amiable industrious fisher-folk.

Nabuto proved to be a tiny settlement at the tip of a rocky promontory,
sheltered from direct assaults of the sea by a small, pinnacled island
known as Niemon Island because it belongs, and has for eight centuries
belonged, to a family of that name, residing there.

An old sea-wife, looking like a figure from one of Winslow Homer's
paintings, summoned the ferryman with a blast upon a conch shell, and a
few minutes later we stepped from his skiff to a natural platform of
granite at the island's edge. As we landed we were assimilated by a
guide who began by indicating certain circular holes in the granite
which, he declared, had been made by the hoofs of Yoritomo's horse. For
legend has it that, when pursued, this mediæval military hero used
Niemon Island as a hiding place. Nor are the horse's hoof-prints the
only evidence supporting this tale. One may see the cave in which the
great Yoritomo concealed himself.

Thither, by a rough, ascending path, the guide led us. It was a small,
damp cave. If Yoritomo lived there long he must have feared his enemies
more than he feared rheumatism. Within was a small shrine dedicated to
the ancient warrior, and hanging near it was a cord by which a bell
could be rung to notify the spirit of the departed that callers had
arrived. The guide signified to us that Yoritomo's spirit would be
profoundly gratified if we put a few coppers into the box in front of
his shrine. Having contributed we were allowed to ring the bell.

The ledge outside commanded a view of leagues and leagues of amethyst
sea into which jutted a succession of green bastioned promontories.
Below us, at the base of the cliff, where the long swells were crashing
in rhythmic succession, several small skiffs were tossing dangerously
near the margin of the foam. These, said the guide, were the boats of
abalone fishers--for the Niemon family, besides receiving tourists, and
selling them trinkets, picture postcards, and flasks of Osaka whiskey,
is in the business of canning abalone meat. I have attempted to eat
abalone. Considering that it is a mollusc leading an absolutely
sedentary life, it has astounding muscular development. A man who can
masticate it ought to be able also to masticate the can in which it

Each skiff contained two men; an oarsman and a diver. The former would
nurse his light craft close to where the seas were breaking on the
island's rocky wall, while the latter, standing and swaying with the
rise and fall of the boat, peered eagerly into the blue depths. Then,
suddenly, with the swiftness of a thrown knife, the brown body would cut
the water and disappear. One waited. One waited long enough to become a
little anxious. But when it seemed that human lungs could not have held
a breath for such a length of time, a head of wet black hair would pop
out of the water and the glistening body of the diver would slip over
the gunwale with the sinuous ease of a swimming seal. A moment later he
would be standing again in the bow of the boat, a figure beautifully
poised, gazing with the rapt eyes of a seer into the swaying, streaky
mysteries of the under-water world.

Out here the fresh sea breeze wove like a cool woof across the warp of
rays from a hot noonday sun. Ashore there was no breeze. I was beginning
to dread the baking dusty miles of highway leading back to Kamogawa.
Then someone suggested that we sail there, and the linguist sent the
guide to see about a boat.

The vessel he secured was a two-masted fishing boat with a brave viking
prow and long sleek lines. It was a piratical-looking craft and the
appearance of the crew was even more so. They were like the Malay
pirates in boys' books of adventure: almost naked, and tanned and
weathered to a dark copper colour. Two of them wore short white shirts,
open in front and terminating at the waist, but the others were innocent
of such sophisticated haberdashery, the entire costume of each
consisting of a pair of towels--one at the loins, the other wound around
the head.

All too soon they landed us upon the beach at the back of the hotel.

"Now," said the linguist, as we waded up through the deep sand, "we'll
pack our bags, get lunch, and be off."

And precisely that we did.

The whole staff of the inn assembled to see us depart. The proprietress
gave us little presents. There was much bowing. Then the basha creaked

                              CHAPTER XXV

    _I Take Gen's Photograph--The Pay of Fisher-Folk--Where All the
    World Works--We Help Gen Pull Her Cart--And Surprise Some
    Wayfarers--The Road Grows Long--Fairy Débutantes_

In an exceptionally picturesque fishing village a few miles on, I paused
to take some photographs. On a platform outside an old house overhanging
the gray sea-wall at the margin of the beach, three women were unloading
baskets of fish from a heavy handcart. One of them was fully sixty years
of age, another I judged to be thirty, but the third was a girl not over
twenty, a sturdy brown lass with eyes like those of a wild deer, and a
ready smile which showed a set of glorious white teeth. She was as
pretty a peasant girl as I had seen in Japan, wherefore through my
bi-lingual friend, I asked permission to take her picture.

From the amount of talking my friend did, and the laughter with which,
on both sides, it was accompanied, I judged that the request, as it
reached her, was festooned with gallantries. At all events she readily
consented to be photographed--as a pretty girl generally will--and when
the shutter had snapped she asked that I send her a print. This I agreed
to do if she would write her name and address in my notebook. She did so
in kana, which, being translated by my invaluable companion, revealed
her name as Gen Tajima.

    [Illustration: Pretty Gen was between the shafts, the other girl
    was pulling at a rope, and the grandmother was at the rear,

Asked if all three of them were of the same family, the women replied
that they were merely neighbours. They resided in the village of
Amatsu-machi, several miles farther along the road that we were
travelling, and it was their daily business to draw the cart from
Amatsu-machi to this place, laden with baskets of fish to be salted and
shipped. Their pay for this labour amounted to the equivalent of
twenty-five cents a day in our money.

"I suppose you are all of you married?" asked my friend.

The old woman replied that she was; the other two laughed and declared
that they were not. But they soon betrayed each other. "Don't you
believe what _she_ says!" they warned us gaily. "She _is_ married. _I'm_
the one who is looking for a match." Then, having had their little joke,
each owned to a husband and children. Their husbands were fishermen, and
earned, they said, two yen a day--about a dollar.

"You work hard?" asked my friend.

"Of course."

"Why 'of course'?"

"Everybody down here works hard."

"Even those who don't have to?"

"Yes. Even people with a lot of money work hard. Here any one who did
not work would be laughed at."

They were typical Japanese women of the fisher class, happy, innocent,
industrious. They interested me profoundly. But there was a long trip
ahead of us and it was necessary to push on. We bade them farewell, got
into the basha, and drove away.

But we had not seen the last of them. When we had driven a quarter of a
mile or so, they came running up behind us with their cart. Pretty Gen
was between the shafts, the other girl was pulling at a rope tied to one
side, and the grandmother was at the rear, pushing. They ran
pigeon-toed, like Indians, and what with the commotion caused by their
rope sandals and the wheels, left a cloud of dust behind them.

Full of merriment they closed in upon us. One of them called to us in

"What did she say?" I asked.

My friend translated:

"She says that because we are strangers they will escort us."

"Come on," I said, jumping out of the basha. "Let's help them pull the

He joined me at once. We took up our places, naturally, at either side
of Gen.

She was full of questions. Where were we from? How long did it take to
come all the way from America? What was America like? Didn't the
American people like the Japanese people? Her brother was a sailor. He
had made a voyage to America and said it was a very fine place, and that
everyone was rich. It wasn't like that in Japan. Here almost everyone
was poor. It was hard to earn enough to live on, now that food cost so

Finding that there were now too many willing hands at the cart, we
discharged the grandmother and the other woman, placing them in our
seats in the basha.

"It is a pity you can't ride, too," my friend said to Gen, "but it is
better for you to stay here and see that we don't steal the cart."

To which the old woman leaning out of the back seat of the basha
remarked that she thought us much more likely to steal the cart if Gen
went with it.

This caused much hilarity. Gen, I think, was a little embarrassed, but
she enjoyed it all the same.

"As things are," she said, smiling and looking at the road, "I am well
satisfied to walk."

The chatter was so lively that I had a good deal of difficulty in
finding out all that was being said; it was no small task for my
companion to keep up his end of the conversation against all three of
them, and at the same time translate for me. I began to find myself left

Moreover, I had not anticipated that we should attract so much
attention. The mere fact that we were aliens made us conspicuous in this
part of the country, and the sight of two foreign men helping a peasant
girl pull a cart, while the girl's usual companions rode ahead in the
comparative magnificence of a basha, caused people in the villages
through which we passed not only to stare in amazement, but to call
their friends to come and witness the unheard-of spectacle.

I remember an old woman bent under a great load of straw which she was
carrying on her back, who, when she glanced up and saw us, looked as if
she were going to fall over, and I shall never forget the quizzical,
puzzled, fixed gaze of a middle-aged coolie, with a load of wood on his
back and a little pipe in his mouth, who, on sight of us, hurriedly
seated himself on the bank at the roadside to pass us in review. He was
a fine type. I dropped my hold upon the shaft, unslung my kodak, and
embalmed his features on a film.

    [Illustration: The middle-aged coolie hurriedly seated himself
    on the bank to pass us in review]

"Come on back here!" called my companion. "Gen and I need you with our

Gen and I!... _Our_ cart, indeed! Who first thought of helping Gen with
her cart, I should like to know!

Without enthusiasm I returned and took hold of the shaft again. The cart
was getting heavier. He and Gen weren't pulling as they should. They
were too busy talking--that was the trouble with them!

"Say, how far is it to this town where these people live?" I demanded of

"I guess it's not very much farther," my friend interrupted his
conversation with Gen to reply.

"I should hope not! We've pulled this infernal cart about five miles

"If you don't like it," he answered, "why don't you get back in the

"How am I going to do that, when that old woman is in my place?"

"Tell her you want to ride. Tell her to come back here and get on the
job again."

I looked up at her. It was quite out of the question to do such a thing.
Much as I should have enjoyed my seat in the basha, she was enjoying it
more. She and the younger woman were having a magnificent time,
chattering, giggling, hailing every acquaintance they passed. And when
other peasants who knew them gazed, astonished, they would burst into
roars of mirth. All of which gave our progress more than ever the aspect
of a circus parade in which, it began to seem to me, I figured as the

Left to my own thoughts I endeavoured to meet the situation
philosophically. If I had been foolish to get myself into this
cart-pulling adventure my folly was of a kind common to my sex. Other
men without number had made even greater fools of themselves. And,
whereas in a little while this incident would be ended, some men got
into scrapes that lasted all their lives. It was pleasant to reflect on

I began to see an allegory in the episode. In miniature it was like the
story of a hasty marriage.... A man travelling the road of life in the
comfortable basha of bachelorhood sees a pretty girl. Bright eyes, white
teeth shown in a smile, and out he jumps.

"Let me help you pull the cart!" he cries, without giving a thought to
the future. So he takes hold, and as likely as not she eases off and
lets him do most of the pulling.

He wants companionship, but when he begins to look for it, what does he
discover? He discovers that she doesn't know a word of his language, nor
he a word of hers. He has sold his birthright for a mess of pulchritude.

The road is long, the hills steep, the cart heavy. Presently appears
another man and offers to help--some smart-aleck who _can_ talk her kind
of talk. And, of course, this linguistic ass begins prattling a lot of
nonsense to her and turns her head. The more she listens to him the more
inflated he becomes. That's what happens to some men if a pretty girl
shows them a little attention! Does he stop for a minute to consider
that his advantage is purely one of language? Not at all! The idiot
thinks himself fascinating.

So much for that.

But now imagine another picture. Take those two men out of a situation
in which one has manifestly an unfair advantage, and place them on an
equal footing in a totally different environment. Take them, let us say,
to an American city, place them in a ballroom, bring in a lot of
beautiful débutantes--hundreds of them, all in pretty little evening
gowns and satin slippers--start up the band. _Then_ see what happens!

One of these men is a bookworm. He knows a lot about languages. He can
speak Japanese. (You see I am being perfectly fair to him.) But the
other, though he cannot speak Japanese, is--you understand this is
purely an imaginary case--a handsome, dashing, debonair fellow. While
one has been learning Japanese the other has learned a few effective
steps. In the intricate mazes of the dance he seems to float godlike
through the air.

All right! Now I ask you, which one of these two men is going to be a
success with all those débutantes? Is Japanese going to advance a man
very far with an American débutante? In all fairness I say No! A
débutante is too clever--too clever with her feet--to be misled by mere
linguistic talent. True worth is the thing that counts with her. She
looks for solid merit in a man. In other words: _What kind of a dancer
is he?_

Is not the conclusion obvious? In the environment I have pictured one of
those two men will be left practically alone, while the other will find
himself constantly surrounded by a bevy of dainty, beautiful----

"This is Amatsu-machi," I heard my companion say.

With a start I came back to Japan.

"They're leaving us at the crossroads," said he.

The basha drew up. The two women got out. They thanked us prettily. Then
amid many "_Sayonaras_" we drove off, while they stood and watched us,
smiling and waving until we passed from their sight around a bend in the

"They have lovely natures, these Japanese women," the linguist presently

"If you'll look over a lot of American débutantes," I replied, "you'll
find that they are just about as----"

"You don't understand," he interrupted. "I'm not talking about mere
prettiness--though you'd hardly say that girl Gen wasn't pretty. I'm
talking about spiritual quality. Couldn't you tell, just by looking at
her, that she was sweet right straight through?"

"I guess she's all right," I answered in an off-hand tone.

That did not half satisfy him. But though he kept at me for a long time,
trying to make me say something more enthusiastic, I would not be
coerced. He was too much puffed up as it was.

I had another reason, too, for withholding from that pretty peasant girl
the fullest praise. I must be faithful to the débutantes who, from far
away, had come floating like a swarm of fairies to console me as I
tugged Gen Tajima's lumbering cart along a dusty road upon the seacoast
of Japan.

                              CHAPTER XXVI

    _The Handkerchief as a Travelling Bag--Bags and
    Bottles--Computing Time--The Mystic Animals of the
    Zodiac--Superstitions Regarding Them--Temple Fortune-Telling--An
    Ekisha--The Ema--Yuki Tells of a Wonderful Cure_

The national travelling bag of the Japanese is a large, strong
handkerchief of silk or cotton, in which the articles carried on a
journey are tied up. The elasticity of this container, which is called a
_furoshiki_, is its great advantage. It is as large or as small as its
contents require, and when it is empty you do not have to lug it about
by hand, like an empty suitcase, but merely put it in your pocket.

The trouble with our style of suitcases and bags is that they are heavy,
bulky, and not adaptable. On one occasion they are overcrowded, on
another we carry them half empty. My own bags remind me of the way I
used to feel about wine bottles in the cheery days when one could afford
to regard such things with a somewhat critical eye. I always felt that
wine bottles were either too large or too small. Pints held a little too
much for one, yet not enough for two; and quarts held rather more than
was required by three, yet left four dissatisfied. Let us, however, drop
this subject. _De mortuis_....

I was often struck with the fact that though the Japanese woman seems to
be more heavily dressed than the foreign woman, and though her coiffure
is generally more elaborate, she carries so much less baggage when she
travels. In our Yuki's furoshiki there was always room for my cigars,
cigarettes, books, and kodak films. Her own things seemed to take no
space at all.

There are several reasons for this. A Japanese woman carries no
hair-brush and wears her comb in her hair. Nor do the Japanese generally
take nightclothes with them on a journey, for a clean cotton kimono, in
which to sleep, is supplied by all Japanese hotels. More than once, when
I saw Yuki starting off with us for a two- or three-days' trip with
baggage consisting of a furoshiki tied to about the size of two ordinary
novels, I thought of Johnnie Poe's famous "fifty-three pieces of
baggage--a deck of cards and a tooth-brush."

A favourite theme for the decoration of the furoshiki embodies the signs
of the Chinese zodiac, consisting of twelve animals. The Chinese
calendar was adopted centuries ago by the Japanese, and they still take
account of it, though they now generally use our Gregorian calendar for
computing time. But even so, their era is not the Christian Era, but
dates from the beginning of the reign of Jimmu Tenno the Divine, whom
the Japanese count as the first of their Imperial line, and who is said
to have ascended the throne, 660 B.C. Thus our current year, 1921, is
the year 2581 in Japan. Time is also measured arbitrarily by the reigns
of emperors, the present year being Taisho 10, or the tenth year of the
reign of the present Emperor.

The Chinese zodiac, however, figures largely in Japanese superstition.
As there are twelve animals, the years are counted off in cycles of
twelve; and the same animals are also associated with days and hours, in
cycles of twelve. The attributes of the astrological animal governing
the year of one's birth are supposed to attach to one.

"My mother is a cow," a Japanese lady explained to me. "My husband is a
snake and I am a rabbit."

The lore of these animals is complicated. I have only a smattering of
it, but what I know will suffice to show the general tendency of such

It is considered good fortune to be born in the year of the horse
because the horse is strong and energetic. 1920 was the year of the
monkey. It is unlucky to marry in monkey year because the word _saru_,
which means "monkey," also means "to go back," the suggestion being that
the bride will go back to her former home, or in other words be
divorced. A woman born in the year of the rabbit will be prolific. (The
lady who said, "I'm a rabbit," though very young, was the mother of

Similarly the animals, in their cycle, bring good luck or ill luck in
connection with events occurring on certain days. It is unlucky to take
to one's bed with a sickness on the day of the cow, because the cow is
slow to get up. It is lucky to begin a journey on the day of the tiger,
because the tiger, though he travels a thousand miles, always returns to
the point from which he started; but for the same reason it is unlucky
for a girl to marry on this day, because she, like the tiger, may return
to the place from which she started: her father's house. And the day of
the tiger is a bad one for funerals, because the tiger drags its prey
with it, suggesting that another funeral will soon follow. The
significance attaching to each animal according to the Japanese idea is
not always apparent, without explanation, to the stranger. For instance,
though I know it is considered lucky for a bride to cut her kimonos on
the day of the rooster, I do not know why. Nor do I know why it is
considered particularly lucky to have, in one family, three persons born
under the same sign.

Superstition of all kinds plays a large part in the daily life of the
Japanese masses, and persons of intelligence often patronize fortune
tellers, among whom are the Buddhist priests in certain temples.

    [Illustration: At Asakusa, the great popular temple of Tokyo,
    the fortune-telling business is so brisk that two or three
    priests are busy at it all the time]

At Asakusa, the great popular temple of Tokyo, the fortune-telling
business is so brisk that two or three priests are busy at it all the
time. The system is simple. The diviner shakes a lot of numbered sticks
in a box, draws one out, and takes a paper from a little drawer which
bears a number corresponding with that on the stick. Your fortune is
written on the paper, in multigraph. I paid two cents for mine, and when
it was translated to me I felt that I had paid too much.

Yuki, when she saw that I was disposed to take the matter lightly,
seemed a little disappointed, and when later several of us decided to
give the necromancers one more fling, she herself escorted us to the
establishment called Hokokudo, at number 3 Chome, the Ginza, where
father, son, and grandson successively have told fortunes for the past
hundred and twenty years. Here we paid one yen each for our fortunes,
but though the _ekisha_ took more time to the job, examining our hands
and faces, rattling his divining rods and making patterns with his
Chinese wooden blocks, he didn't do much better than the priest had done
for two cents. Yuki was impressed when he predicted a sea voyage for me,
but the prophecy did not seem to me to constitute a remarkable example
of divination.

The visit to the ekisha was however, an experience. The little house was
picturesque, and it was interesting to see the stream of Japanese coming
in, one after another, intent on learning what the future held in store
for them. Also, while Yuki's fortune was being told I got a good
photograph of the ekisha examining her hand through his magnifying

    [Illustration: While Yuki's fortune was being told I
    photographed her]

Another superstition is exampled in the _ema_, votive offerings in the
form of little paintings on wood, which are put up at Shinto shrines by
those in need of help of one kind or another. For almost any sort of
affliction an ema of suitable design may be found, though the meaning of
the grotesque design is seldom apparent to the foreigner.

While in Japan I collected a number of these curious little objects and
investigated their significance. Among them was one which Yuki
recognized as an appeal for relief from eye trouble.

"That very good ema," she told me. "I use one like that once when I have
sore eyes."

"Did it cure you, Yuki?"

"Yes--in two weeks. I put it up at shrine and I promise the god I no
drink tea for two weeks. In two weeks my eyes all right again."

"And you are sure the ema did it?"

"Yes, sir, I sure."

"You didn't do anything else for your eyes?"

"No, it just like I say. I put up ema for god and not drink tea. Then I
wait two weeks."

"Did your eyes hurt you during the two weeks?"

"Oh, yes. They hurt so much I have to wash them two three times a day
with boric acid, while I wait for ema to make cure. But when end of two
weeks comes they not sore any more. That ema work very good."

                             CHAPTER XXVII

    _Our Difficulties with the Language--The Questionable Humour of
    Broken Speech--"Do You Striking This Man for That?"--"Companies,
    Scholars, and Other Households"--Curious Correspondence--Japanese
    Puns--Strange Laughter--The Grotesque in Art--Japanese
    Colour-Prints--Famous Print Collections--Monet's Discovery of Prints
    at Zaandam--Japanese Prints and French Impressionism_

The complete dissimilarity between the Japanese language and our own,
referred to in an earlier chapter, of course adds greatly to the
difficulty of communication in all its various forms.

In Tokyo and other cities I attended many luncheons and dinners
organized for the purpose of discussing relations between the United
States and Japan, and promoting a friendly understanding between the two
nations, but though Japanese statesmen and men of affairs spoke at these
gatherings in fluent and even polished English, I never met with one
American who was equipped to return the compliment in kind. The
Americans, even those who had lived for years in Japan, always spoke in
English, whereafter a Japanese interpreter who had taken notes on the
speech would arise and render a translation.

The linguistic chasm dividing the two peoples is not, however, entirely
a black abyss. If one wall is dark, the other catches the sun.
Practically all Japanese students now study English in their schools,
our language being considered next in importance to their own. And
though, as I have said, many of them have perfectly mastered English
despite the enormous difficulties it presents to them, there are many
others whose English is imperfect, and whose "Japanned English," as some
one has called it, achieves effects the unconscious grotesqueness of
which startles and fascinates Americans and Englishmen.

To be honest, I have been in some doubt as to whether I should touch
upon this theme or not; for it has always seemed to me that humour based
upon the efforts of an individual to express himself in a language not
his own was meretricious humour, inasmuch as it makes fun of an attempt
to do a creditable thing. It is a kind of humour which is enjoyed in
some measure by the French and the British but which is relished
infinitely more by us than by any other people in the world, as witness
entertainments in our theatres, and stories in our magazines, depending
for comedy upon dialect: German, French, Italian, Irish, Jewish,
Cockney, Negro, or even the several purely American dialects
characteristic of various parts of the country.

This dubious taste of ours doubtless springs, to some extent at least,
from the polyglot nature of our population; but whatever its origin it
is a bad thing for us in one important respect. We find the English
dialect of foreigners so funny that we ourselves fear to attempt foreign
tongues, lest we make ourselves ridiculous. Wherefore we are the poorest
linguists in the world.

Even after the foregoing apology--for that, frankly, is what it is--I
should still hesitate to present examples of "Japanned English" had I
not discovered that Professor Basil Hall Chamberlain, perhaps the
greatest of modern authorities on Japan, a man whose writings reveal an
impeccable nicety of taste, had already done so in his most valuable
book, "Things Japanese."

One of the examples given by Professor Chamberlain is quoted from a work
entitled: "The Practical Use of Conversation for Police Authorities,"
which assumes to teach the Japanese policeman how to converse in
English. The following is an imaginary conversation intended to guide
the officer in parley with a British bluejacket:

    What countryman are you?

    I am a sailor belonged to the Golden Eagle, the English

    Why do you strike this jinricksha-man?

    He told me impolitely.

    What does he told you impolitely?

    He insulted me saying loudly, "the Sailor the Sailor" when
    I am passing here.

    Do you striking this man for that?


    But do not strike him for it is forbidden.

    I strike him no more.

One curious aspect of the matter is that so much
of this weird English creeps into print, appearing
in guidebooks, advertisements, and on the labels of
goods of various kinds manufactured in Japan.

Thus in the barber shop of the ship, going over,
I found a bottle containing a toilet preparation
called "Fulay," the label of which bore the following

    "Fulay" is manufactures under chemical method and long years
    experience with pure and refined materials. It is, therefore,
    only the article in the circle as ladies and gents daily toilet.

And on a jar of paste I found this label, which will be better
understood if the tendency of the Japanese to confuse the letters _l_
and _r_ is kept in mind:

    This paste is of a pureness cleanliness and of a strong
    cohesion, so that it does not putrefy even when the paste grass
    is left open. Though written down on paper or the like
    immediately after pasting, the character is never spread. This
    paste has an especial fragrance therefore all of pasted things
    after using this are always kept from the frys and all sorts of
    bacteria, and prevents the infectious diseases. This paste is an
    indispensable one for the banks, companies, scholars and other
    households. Please notice for "Kuchi's Yamato-Nori" as there are
    similar things.

The circular of one firm, advertising "a large assortment of ladies'
blushes," might have been misinterpreted as having some scandalous
suggestion, had it not gone on to discuss the ivory backs and high-grade
bristles with which the "blushes" were equipped.

Another circular was that of a butcher who catered to foreigners in
Tokyo. After stating that his meats were sold at "a fixed plice" this
worthy merchant mentioned the various kinds of beef he could supply.
There were, "rosu beef, rampu beef, pig beef, soup beef, and beard
beef"--which being interpreted signified roast beef, rump beef, pork,
soup meat and poultry--the word "beard" being intended for "bird."

In the admirable hotel at Nara I saw the following notice posted in a


    Parents are requested kindly to send their children to the Hotel
    Garden for when weather is fine. When it is bad weather I will
    offer the children the small dining-room, except meal hours, as
    playing room for them, therefore please don't let them run round
    upstairs and downstairs at all. Please kindly have the children
    after dinner in a manner quiet and repose.

                                            MANAGER, Nara Hotel.

From a friend, an official of a large company, I got a number of letters
revealing the peculiarities of "English as she is wrote"--at least as
she is sometimes wrote--in Japan. All these letters are authentic,
having come to him in connection with his business.

The first one, written by a clerk to the office manager, refers to an
admirable Japanese custom which in itself is worthy of brief mention.

Throughout Japan there is housecleaning twice a year under police
supervision. Certain districts have certain days on which the cleaning
must be done. The shoji are removed, the furniture is carried out, and
the mats are taken up and beaten. The streets are full of activity and
dust when this is going on, and there is a pile of rubbish in front of
every residence. Meanwhile police officers pass up and down, wearing
gauze masks over their noses and mouths to protect them from the dust,
and at the end they inspect each house to see that the work has been
properly done, after which they affix an official stamp over the door.

Wherefore wrote the clerk to the office manager:

    MR. S----:

    Excuse my absent of this morning. All of my neighbourhood have
    got instruction to clean out nest.


A more serious dilemma is revealed in the following:

    To General Manager.


    My wife gave birth this noon and as it happened nearly a month
    ahead than I expected, I much rather find myself in painful
    situation, having not yet prepared for this sudden ocurrence.

    Up to this day, unfortunate enough, I am destined most
    unfavourably for the monetary circumstance, and consequently
    have no saving against worldly concerns, I am forced to ask you
    for a loan of ¥ 25.00 to get rid of the burden befallen on me by
    the birth.

    I know it is the meanest of all to ask one's help for monetary
    affair but as I am being unable to find any better way than to
    solicit you, I have at last come to a conclusion to trouble you
    but against my will. I deem it much more shamefull to advertise
    my poor condition around my relatives or acquaintances no matter
    wheater it will be fruitfull or fruitless.

                                            Yours obediently,

The subjoined was received from one of the company's agents in another


    We have the honour to thank you for your having bestowed us a
    Remington typewriter which has just arrived via railway express.
    We will treat her very kindly and she will give us her best
    service in return. Thus we can work to our mutual satisfaction
    and benefit.

    Thanking you for your kindness we beg to remain,

                                            Yours very truly,
                                                    O---- I----.

The porter in a Japanese office not infrequently sleeps on the premises.
But he must have the necessary equipment, as the following letter from
an agent to a principal reveals:


    In accordance to your esteemed conversation of other day for
    lodging the servant at this office, we consider we must provide
    to him the bed or sleeping tools. Please inform us that you
    could approve the expense to purchase this tool.

    Awaiting your esteemed reply we are, dear sir,

                                            Yours faithfully,
                                                    T---- A----.

The next letter is from a man who wished to establish business relations
with my friend's company:


    I am a trader at Kokura city in Kyushu, always treating the
    various machines or steels and the architectural using goods.

    I have known of your great names at Tokyo. Therefore I want to
    open the connection with each other so affectionately.
    Accordingly I beg to see your company's inside scene so clearly,
    please send me the catalogue and plice-list of good samples of
    your company.

    I am a baby on our commercial society, because you will lead me
    to the machinery society I think.

    I trusted,

                         Yours affectionately,
                                                    I am,
                                                    K---- M----.

One thing which sometimes makes these letters startling is the fact that
they are couched in English which is perfectly correct save in one or
two particulars. Thus the errors or strange usages pop out at one
unexpectedly, adding an element of surprise, as in the case of a man who
wrote to my friend applying for work:


    I beg leave to inquire whether you can make use of my services
    as a salesman and correspondent in your firm. I have had
    considerable experiences as a apparatus, and can furnish
    references and insurance against risk.

    Awaiting your reply, I am

                                        Yours respectfully,
                                                    K---- S----.

I have often been asked whether the Japanese possess the gift of humour.

They do--though humour does not occupy a place so important in their
daily life as it does in ours.

A light touch in conversation is uncommon with them, and those who have
it do not generally exhibit it except to their intimates. Yet they are
great punsters, and some of their puns are very clever. A case in point
is the slang term _narikin_ which they have recently adopted to describe
the flashy new-rich type which has come into being since the war.

To understand the derivation of this word, and its witty connotation,
you must know that in their game of chess, called _shogi_, a humble pawn
advanced to the adversary's third row is, by a process resembling
queening, converted into a powerful, free-moving piece called _kin_. The
word _nari_ means "to become"; hence _nari-kin_ means literally "to
become _kin_"--which gives us, when applied to a flamboyant profiteer, a
droll picture of a poor little pawn suddenly exalted to power and
magnificence. The pun, which adds greatly to the value of this term,
comes with the word _kin_. _Kin_ is not only a chessman; it also means
"gold." Which naturally contributes further piquancy in the application
to a _nouveau riche_.

Moreover, through a play on the word narikin there has been evolved a
second slang term: _narihin_--_hin_ meaning "poor"--"to become poor."
And alas, this term as well as the other is useful in Japan to-day. War
speculation has made some fortunes, but it has wiped out others.

My friend O----, a truly lovable fellow, once spent the better part of
an afternoon explaining a lot of Japanese puns to me, and I was hardly
more pleased by the jests themselves than by my friend's infectious
little chuckles over them. At parting we made an engagement for the
evening, but about dinner time O---- returned to say that he could not
spend the evening with me.

"I have just heard that my best friend died last night," he said, "It is
very unexpected. I must go to his house." So speaking he emitted what
appeared to me to be precisely the same little chuckle he had uttered
over the puns.

The suppression of one's feeling is a primary canon of Japanese
etiquette. To show unhappiness is to make others unhappy; wherefore,
when one suffers, it is good form to laugh or smile. The foreigner who
comprehends this doctrine must, if he be a man of any delicacy of
feeling, respect it. But if he does not grasp the underlying principle
he is likely to misjudge the Japanese and consider their laughter, in
some circumstances, hard-hearted, apologetic, or inane.

                   *       *       *       *       *

The supreme proof of Japanese humour is to be found in the grotesqueries
and whimsicalities of Japanese Art. You see it revealed everywhere--in
the shape of a gnarled, stunted pine, carefully trained to a pleasing
deformity; in the images of cats left in various parts of Japan by
Hidari Jingoro, the great left-handed wood-carver of the sixteenth
century; in the famous trio of monkeys adorning the stable of the Ieyasu
Shrine at Nikko--those which neither hear, see, nor speak evil; in a
thousand earthenware figures of ragged, pot-bellied Hotei, one of the
Seven Gods of Luck, sitting, gross and contented in a small boat,
waiting for some one to bring his abdominal belt; in the countless
representations of the Buddhist god Daruma, that delightful egg-shaped
comedian who will run out his tongue and his eyes for you, or, if not
that, will refuse to stay down when you roll him over; in figurines
without number, of ivory or wood; in sword-guards embellished with
fantastic conceits; in those carved ivory buttons called _netsuké_,
treasured by collectors; and perhaps most often in Japanese

The hundred years between 1730 and 1830 was the golden age of
wood-engraving in Japan.

During the lifetime of this art it was regarded as distinctly plebeian.
Many of the fine prints were made to be used as advertisements or
souvenirs. Some, it is true, were issued in limited editions, and these
cost more than the commoner ones, but generally they were sold for a few

Unfortunately, before the art-lovers of Japan perceived that the finest
of these prints were masterpieces representing wood-engraving at its
highest perfection, the best prints had got out of Japan and gone to
Paris, London, Boston, New York, Chicago, and other foreign cities,
whence the Japanese have lately been buying them back at enormous

From a friend of mine in Tokyo, himself the owner of a very valuable
collection, I learned that the collection of 7,500 prints assembled by
M. Vever, of Paris, has long been considered by connoisseurs the finest
in the world. This collection was recently purchased intact by Mr.
Kojiro Matsukata, of Kobe, president of the Kawasaki shipbuilding firm.
It is said that Mr. Matsukata paid half a million dollars for it. My
Tokyo friend tells me that the collection belonging to Messrs. William
S., and John T. Spalding, of Boston, is probably next in importance to
the Matsukata collection, and that it is difficult to say whether the
Boston Museum collection or the British Museum collection takes third
place. For primitive prints, the Clarence Buckingham collection, housed
in the Chicago Art Institute, is also very important.

How does it happen that it was in Europe that Japanese prints first came
to be highly appreciated as works of art?

Octave Mirbeau, in his delightful book of automobiling adventures, "La
628-E8" (which, I believe, has never been brought out in English) tells
the story.

The great impressionist, Claude Monet, went to Holland to paint. Some
groceries sent home to him from a little shop were wrapped in a Japanese
print--the first one Monet had ever seen.

"You can imagine," writes Mirbeau, "his emotion before that marvellous
art.... His astonishment and joy were such that he could not speak, but
could only give vent to cries of delight.

"And it was in Zaandam that this miracle came to pass--Zaandam with its
canals, its boats at the quay unloading cargoes of Norwegian wood, its
huddled flotillas of barks, its little streets of water, its tiny red
cabins, its green houses--Zaandam, the most Japanese spot in all the
Dutch landscape....

"Monet ran to the shop whence came his package--a vague little grocery
shop where the fat fingers of a fat man were tying up (without being
paralyzed by the deed!) two cents' worth of pepper and ten cents' worth
of coffee, in paper bearing these glorious images brought from the Far
East along with groceries in the bottom of a ship's hold.

"Although he was not rich at that time, Monet was resolved to buy all of
these masterpieces that the grocery contained. He saw a pile of them on
the counter. His heart bounded. The grocer was waiting upon an old lady.
He was about to wrap something up. Monet saw him reach for one of the

'No, no!' he cried. 'I want to buy that! I want to buy all those--all

"The grocer was a good man. He believed that he was dealing with some
one who was a little touched. Anyway the coloured papers had cost him
nothing. They were thrown in with the goods. Like some one who gives a
toy to a crying child to appease it, he gave the pile of prints to
Monet, smilingly and a bit mockingly.

"'Take them, take them,' he said. 'You can have them. They aren't worth
anything. They aren't solid enough. I prefer regular wrapping-paper.'"

So the grocer enveloped the old lady's cheese in a piece of yellow
paper, and Monet went home and spent the rest of the day in adoration of
his new-found treasures. The names of the great Japanese wood-engravers
were of course unknown in Europe then, but Monet learned later that some
of these prints were by Hokusai, Utamaro, and Korin.

"This," continues Mirbeau, "was the beginning of a celebrated
collection, but much more important, it was the beginning of such an
evolution in French painting that the anecdote has, besides its own
savour, a veritable historic value. For it is a story which cannot be
overlooked by those who seriously study the important movement in art
which is called Impressionism."

                             CHAPTER XXVIII

        _Living in a Japanese House--The Priceless Yuki--The Servants in
        the House--The Red Carpet--Our Trunks Depart--Tokyo's Night-time
        Sounds--Tipping and Noshi--The Etiquette of Farewells--Sayonara_

My last days in Japan were my best days, for I spent them in a Japanese
home, standing amid its own lovely gardens in Mita, a residential
district some twenty minutes by motor from the central part of Tokyo.

Through the open shoji of my bedroom I could look out in the mornings to
where, beyond the velvet lawns, the flowers and the treetops, the
inverted fan of Fuji's cone was often to be seen floating white and
spectral in the sky, seventy miles away.

After my bath in a majestic family tub I would breakfast in my room,
wearing a kimono, recently acquired, and feeling very Japanese.

While I was dressing, Yuki sometimes entered, but I had by this time
become accustomed to her matutinal invasions and no longer found them
embarrassing. She was so entirely practical, so useful. She knew where
everything was. She would go to a curious little cupboard, which was
built into the wall and had sliding doors of lacquer and silk, and get
me a shirt, or would retrieve from their place of concealment a missing
pair of trousers, and bring them to me neatly folded in one of those
flat, shallow baskets which, with the Japanese, seem to take the place
of bureau drawers.

Thus, besides being my daughter's duenna and my wife's maid, she was in
effect, my valet. Nor did her usefulness by any means end there. She was
our interpreter, dragoman, purchasing-agent; she was our steward, major
domo, seneschal; nay, she was our Prime Minister.

The house had a large staff, and all the servants made us feel that they
were _our_ servants, and that they were glad to have us there. With the
exception of a butler, an English-speaking Japanese temporarily added to
the establishment on our account, all wore the native dress; and there
were among them two men so fine of feature, so dignified of bearing, so
elegant in their silks, that we took them, at first, for members of the
family. One of them was a white-bearded old gentleman who would have
made a desirable grandfather for anybody. If he had duties other than to
decorate the hall with his presence I never discovered what they were.
The other, a young man, was clerk of the household, and enjoyed the
distinction of being Saki's husband.

    [Illustration: Saki, the housekeeper of some Japanese friends we
    visited, obligingly posed for me. The mattress is stuffed with
    floss silk, the pillow is hard and round, and the covering is a
    sort of quilted kimono]

Saki was the housekeeper, young and pretty. She and her husband lived in
a cottage near by, and their home was extensively equipped with musical
instruments, Saki being proficient on the samisen and koto, and also on
an American melodeon which was one of her chief treasures. She was all
smiles and sweetness--a most obliging person. Indeed it was she who
pretended to be asleep in a Japanese bed, in order that I might make the
photograph which is one of the illustrations in this book.

Four or five coolies, excellent fellows, wearing blue cotton coats with
the insignia of our host's family upon the backs of them, worked about
the house and grounds; and several little maids were continually
trotting through the corridors; with that pigeon-toed shuffle in which
one comes, when one is used to it, actually to see a curious prettiness.

Sometimes we felt that the servants were showing us too much
consideration. We dined out a great deal and were often late in getting
home ("Home" was the term we found ourselves using there), yet however
advanced the hour, the chauffeur would sound his horn on entering the
gate, whereupon lights would flash on beneath the porte-cochère, the
shoji at the entrance of the house would slide open, and three or four
domestics would come out, dragging a wide strip of red velvet carpet,
over which we would walk magnificently up the two steps leading to the
hall. But though I urged them to omit this regal detail, because two or
three men had to sit up to handle the heavy carpet, and also because the
production of it made me feel like a bogus prince, I could never induce
them to do so. Always, regardless of the hour, a little group of
servants appeared at the door when we came home.

                   *       *       *       *       *

Even on the night when, under the ministrations of the all-wise and
all-powerful head porter of the Imperial Hotel, our trunks were spirited
away, to be taken to Yokohama and placed aboard the _Tenyo Maru_, even
then we found it difficult to realize that our last night in Japan had

The realization did not strike me with full force until I went to bed.

I was not sleepy. I lay there, thinking. And the background of my
thoughts was woven out of sounds wafted through the open shoji on the
summer wind: the nocturnal sounds of the Tokyo streets.

I recalled how, on my first night in Tokyo, I had listened to these
sounds and wondered what they signified.

Now they explained themselves to me, as to a Japanese.

A distant jingling, like that of sleigh-bells, informed me that a
newsboy was running with late papers. A plaintive musical phrase
suggestive of Debussy, bursting out suddenly and stopping with startling
abruptness, told me that the Chinese macaroni man was abroad with his
lantern-trimmed cart and his little brass horn. At last I heard a
xylophone-like note, resembling somewhat the sound of a New York
policeman's club tapping the sidewalk. It was repeated several times;
then there would come a silence; then the sound again, a little nearer.
It was the night watchman on his rounds, guarding the neighbourhood not
against thieves, but against fire, "the Flower of Tokyo." In my mind's
eye I could see him hurrying along, knocking his two sticks together now
and then, to spread the news that all was well.

Then it was that I reflected: "To-morrow night I shall not hear these
sounds. In their place I shall hear the creaking of the ship, the roar
of the wind, the hiss of the sea. Possibly I shall never again hear the
music of the Tokyo streets."

My heart was sad as I went to sleep.

                   *       *       *       *       *

Fortunately for our peace of mind, we had learned through the experience
of American friends, visitors in another Japanese home, how _not_ to tip
these well-bred domestics--or rather, how not to try to tip them. On
leaving the house in which they had been guests, these friends had
offered money to the servants, only to have it politely but positively

Yuki cleared the matter up for us.

"They should put _noshi_ with money," she explained in response to our
questions. "That make it all right to take. It mean a present."

Without having previously known noshi by name, we knew immediately what
she meant, for we had received during our stay in Japan enough presents
to fill a large trunk, and each had been accompanied by a little piece
of coloured paper folded in a certain way, signifying a gift.

In the old days these coloured papers always contained small pieces of
dried _awabi_--abelone--but with the years the dried awabi began to be
omitted, and the little folded papers by themselves came to be
considered adequate.

Fortified with this knowledge I went, on the day before our departure,
to the Ginza, where I bought envelopes on which the noshi design was
printed. Money placed in these envelopes was graciously accepted by all
the servants. Tips they would not have received. But these were not
tips. They were gifts from friend to friend, at parting.

                   *       *       *       *       *

The code of Japanese courtesy is very exact and very exacting in the
matter of farewells to the departing guest. Callers are invariably
escorted to the door by the host, such members of his family as have
been present, and a servant or two, all of whom stand in the portal
bowing as the visitor drives away.

A house-guest is dispatched with even greater ceremony. The entire
personnel of the establishment will gather at with profound bows and
cries of "Sayonara!" the door to speed him on his way Members of the
family, often the entire family, accompany him to the station, where
appear other friends who have carefully inquired in advance as to the
time of departure. The traveller is escorted to his car, and his friends
remain upon the platform until the train leaves, when the bowing and
"Sayonaras" are repeated.

Tokyo people often go to Yokohama with friends who are sailing from
Japan, accompanying them to the ship, and remaining on the dock until
the vessel moves into the bay. How Tokyo men-of-affairs can manage to go
upon these time-consuming seeing-off parties is one of the great
mysteries of Mysterious Japan, for such an excursion takes up the
greater part of a day.

To the American, accustomed in his friendships to take so much for
granted, a Japanese farewell affords a new sensation, and one which can
hardly fail to touch the heart.

Departing passengers are given coils of paper ribbon confetti, to throw
to their friends ashore, so that each may hold an end until the wall of
steel parts from the wall of stone, and the paper strand strains and
breaks. There is something poignant and poetic in that breaking,
symbolizing the vastness of the world, the littleness of men and ships,
the fragility of human contacts.

The last face I recognized, back there across the water, in Japan, was
Yuki's. She was standing on the dock with the end of a broken paper
ribbon in her hand. The other end trailed down into the water. She was
weeping bitterly.

Wishing to be sure that my wife and daughter had not failed to discover
her in the crowd, I turned to them. But I did not have to point her out.
Their faces told me that they saw her. They too were weeping.

So it is with women. They weep. As for a man, he merely waves his hat. I
waved mine.


I turned away. There were things I had to see to in my cabin. Besides,
the wind on deck was freshening. It hurt my eyes.

                                THE END



  Abalone, diving for, 304

  Actresses, increase of, 96

  Architecture, democracy in, 40

  Architecture and sculpture, horrors in, 27

  Art, grotesqueries and whimsicalities, 330

  Athletic sports, popularity of, 103

  Back-end-formost methods and customs, 48

  Bathing customs, 52, 65, 289

  Beauty, artistic conceptions, 163

  Beds, how arranged, 299

  Bill of fare, luncheon, 127

  Boasting, a cardinal sin, 173

  Brides, outfitted for life, 36

  Burglars, feared next to fire and earthquake, 42;
    what to do when visited by, 45

  Bushido, doctrine of, 76

  Business methods, placidity in, 228

  Butokukai--Association for Inculcation of Military Virtues, 195

  Calendar, Chinese, adopted by Japanese, 316

  California, Japanese issue in, 244

  Calligraphy, a fine art, 55

  Chafing-dish, cooking in, 149

  Cherry Dance of Kyoto, 144

  Children, in profusion, 23

  China, American engineer among brigands in, 10;
    compared with Japan, 266

  Chinnung, Emperor, discoverer of tea, 69

  Chop-sticks, lesson in use of, 120

  Class, the distinctions of, 140

  Colonization, efforts in, 233

  Concubinage, still practised, 85

  Cooking, chafing-dish, 149

  Costume, regulated by calendar, 33

  Courtesans, segregated, 154

  Courtesy, the code of, in making farewells, 340

  Crest, family, as used on kimono, 34

  Customs changed to fit Western ideas, 174

  Dancing girls, or maiko, 119, 135, 137, 141

  Daruma, mythological creator of tea, 69

  Divorce customs, 85

  Dress of women, uniformity of, 31;
    cost of, 35

  Earthquakes, influence of, in building construction, 38, 42;
    frequency and extent, 39;
    best course to pursue during, 43

  Efficiency and non-efficiency of the people, 235

  Elder Statesmen, the, 185

  Eliot, Sir Charles, on understanding Japan, 75

  Ema, efficacy of an, 320

  English as she is wrote, 323

  Eri, neck piece worn with kimono, 34

  European dress not popular with women, 31, 37

  Fashions, little variation in, 36

  Feudal Era, the, 70

  Films, kissing scenes cut, 98

  Finley, Dr. John H., on reverential attitude of the Japanese, 280

  Flower Arrangement, the study of, 66;
    origin of, 68;
    in connection with display of paintings, 72

  Folk dances by maiko, 137

  Foods and delicacies, 129

  Foreign customs adopted, 174

  Fortune tellers, well patronized, 318

  Fujiyama, as seen from the sea, 13;
    the "Honourable Mountain," 14

  Gardens, history and theory, 167, 177

  Gardens, diminutive, 21

  Geisha, the best dressers, 37;
    at a luncheon, 116;
    various grades in, 119;
    no rhythm in their dancing, 132;
    what they really are, 132;
    in Japanese romances, 146;
    cost of entertainment, 151

  Geisha, male, or comedian, 156

  Great Britain's attitude toward Japan, 268.

  Haori, how worn, 35

  Hara-Kiri, privileges associated with, 192

  Hearn, Lafcadio, on the Japanese language, 56;
    on Japanese women, 75, 82;
    on the Tea Ceremony, 81;

  Hiratsuka, Mrs. Raicho, efforts to improve marriage laws, 84

  Honesty, Japanese and Chinese, 278

  Hospitality, New York and Japan compared, 258

  House cleaning, under police supervision, 325

  Humour, extent of native, 328

  Imperial Bureau of Poems, duties of, 165

  Inouye, Jakichi, attributes bearing of Japanese ladies to study of
  Tea Ceremony, 81

  International Affairs ignored by Americans, 242

  Intoxication, prevalence of, 123

  Italy, compared to Japan, 163

  Japanese-American relations, letter from President Roosevelt to Baron
  Kaneko, 223

  Jesuits, expulsion of, 201

  Jiu-jutsu, in wrestling, 112;
    taught to samurai, 192;
    renascence of, 193

  Jiudo, development of, 193

  Johnson, Senator Hiram, agitator on Japanese question, 256

  Kakemono, method of hanging the, 72

  Kamogawa, visit to, 288

  Kaneko, Viscount Kentaro, preparing history of Meiji Era 29;
    interviews with, 212;
    visits at Roosevelt's home, 213;
    Roosevelt's letters to, 222, 223, 226, 227

  Kano, Jigoro, revives art of jiu-jutsu, 193

  _Kashima Maru_, voyage on, 1

  Katsuura, visit to, 284

  Kimono, use of, 34

  Kipling, Rudyard, on understanding Japan, 75

  Kissing, attitude toward, 98

  Kodokwan, school of jiu-jutsu, 194

  Kokugikwan, the national game building, 104, 107

  Korea, conditions under Japanese control, 9

  Korean Emperor, anecdotes on, 8

  Kyoto, Cherry Dance at, 144

  Labor, abundance of, 19;
    waste of, 236

  Landscape gardening, history of, 169

  Language, peculiarities of the, 53;
    difficulties with, 321

  Leprosy, extent of, 90

  Lunch, the railway, 276

  Maple Club, luncheon at, 116

  Marquis, Don, on reformers, 151

  Marriage customs, 85, 93

  Meiji Tenno, "Emperor of Enlightenment," 29

  "Melting Pot," overloading of the, 251

  Militarism, slowly waning, 232

  Mirbeau, Octave, on discovery of Japanese prints by Claude Monet, 332

  Morris, Roland S., address on Japanese issue in California, 244

  Mothers-in-law, dutifulness toward, 93

  Mourning, costume for, 36

  Muko-yoshi, adopted son-husbands, 94

  Music, unmelodious to foreign ear, 131

  Nabuto, visit to, 302

  Naginata, the woman's weapon 196

  Namazu, "cause" of earthquakes, 40

  Nara, luncheon party in, 137, 141

  Nesan, serving maids, 117

  Nitobe, Doctor, on bushido, 76

  _No_ drama, masks used in 49;
    knowledge of, necessary in study of the people, 75

  Nogi, Count, story of his death, 197

  Nurses' occupation popular, 96

  Obi, chief treasure of woman's costume, 35;
    how worn, 36

  Okuma, Marquis, Japan's "Grand Old Man," 185

  Old age, deference to, 50

  Oriental Mind, the, 57

  Partitions, removable, 118

  Period of transition, beginning of, 184

  Perry, Commodore, "knocking at Japan's door," 28;
    opens door to progress, 184

  Physicians, women as, 96

  Picture brides, no longer allowed to come to America, 244

  Pipes, diminutive, 130

  Placidity in business and home life, 228

  Poems, annually submitted to the Imperial Bureau, 165

  Politeness, Japanese ideas of 260

  Politics, lack of interest in, 103

  Population, excess in 231, 233;
    must be balanced by industrial expansion, 234

  Prints, Japanese, important collections of, 331;
    discovery of in Europe by Claude Monet, 332

  Privacy, lack of in Japanese homes, 298

  Public utilities, inefficiency in, 238

  Race, unassimilability of, 253

  Race problems of America, 249

  Railroads, under government management, 274

  Restaurant, cost of food and entertainment, 151

  Riddell, Miss H., work with lepers, 90

  Roosevelt, Quentin, Baron Kaneko's regard for, 213, 219, 227

  Roosevelt, Theodore, on reign of Emperor Meiji, 29;
    interest in jiu-jutsu, 193;
    visit of Viscount Shibusawa to, 210;
    Viscount Kaneko's regard for, 213;
    letter to Baron Kaneko on our Japanese question, 223;
    wise attitude toward Japan, 270

  Sake, how served, 121

  Samurai, strength of the, 70;
    customs and privileges, 192

  Sculpture and architecture.

  Self-made men, 187.

  Segregation of vice, 154

  Servants, courtesy of and to, 117, 336

  Shibusawa, Viscount Eiichi founder of school for actresses, 96;
    interview with, 188, 201;
    anecdote of President Roosevelt, 210;
    visit to grave of Townsend Harris, 280

  Shimabara, courtesan district, Kyoto, 160

  Suicide, prevalence of 51;
    the Oriental view of, 199

  Sunday, as a holiday, 114

  Superstition, prevalence of, 318

  Tails, wild men with, 7

  Tai-no-ura, and the Nativity Temple, 287

  Tea, significance of, 68;
    origin, 69

  Tea Ceremony, or cha-no-yu, 71, 74, 81.

  Tea Masters, veneration of the, 73

  Teahouse, entertainment expensive, 143, 151

  Teaism, as a study, 68

  Telephone service, inefficiency of, 238

  Tipping, proper procedure in, 339

  Tobacco industry, a monopoly, 130

  Tokugawa, Prince, interest in wrestling, 105

  Tokyo, growth, 26;
    architecture and sculpture, 27;
    adopting steel for building construction, 38

  Tourists welcomed to Japan, 263

  Tray landscapes, art of making, 67

  Tuberculosis, extent of, 90

  Vandalism at historic places, 280

  Vice, commercialized, 154

  Waseda University, now open to women, 95;
    founded by Marquis Okuma, 186

  W. C. T. U., activities, 97

  Women, costume of, 32;
    sedate gracefulness of, 81;
    suffrage, 83
    legal status, 84;
    condition slowly improving, 95;
    in business and professions, 95;
    the "new woman," 97;
    husbands' attitude toward wives, 100;
    position higher in early times, 100

  Wood engraving, era of, 331

  _World_, New York, editorial on Japanese issue in California, 244

  Wrestling, the national sport, 103

  Yajima, Mrs., leader in W. C. T. U., 97

  "Yellow Peril," the true, 246

  Yokohama, the landing, 16

  Yoritomo, legend of, 303

  Yoshinobu, becomes shogun, 202;
    held prisoner after conflict with Emperor, 205;
    battle neither sought nor desired, 207

  Yoshioka, Dr. G. founder of Tokyo School for Women, 96

  Yoshiwara, courtesan district, Tokyo, 154

  Yuasa, Commander, heroism at Port Arthur, 195

  Zodiac, belief in the signs of the, 317


                         THE COUNTRY LIFE PRESS
                           GARDEN CITY, N. Y.

      *      *      *      *      *      *

Transcriber's note:

Throughout the dialogues, there were words used to mimic accents of the
speakers. Those words were retained as-is.

The illustrations have been moved so that they do not break up
paragraphs and so that they are next to the text they illustrate.

Some of the original illustrations were pairs of illustrations related
to different topics. Those pairs were separated and moved to text they
illustrate. The list of illustrations refer to the original locations of
those illustrations. In the paired illustrations, references to
"(above)" and "(below)" have been removed.

Errors in punctuations and inconsistent hyphenation were not corrected
unless otherwise noted.

On page 29, "to day" was replaced with "today".

On page 86, "mutally" was replaced with "mutually".

On page 87, "bethrothal" was replaced with "betrothal".

On page 113 a comma at an end of a sentence was replaced by a period.

On page 138, "pantomine" was replaced with "pantomime".

On page 149, "chafing-fish" was replaced with "chafing-dish".

On page 160, "Tokugowa" was replaced with "Tokugawa".

On page 163 a comma was added after the word "fascinating".

On page 168, "sensui" was replaced with "sansui".

On page 172, "Distate" was replaced with "Distaste".

On page 176, "daimio" was replaced with "daimyo]".

On page 185, "Marquise" was replaced with "Marquis".

On page 202, "Hizan" was replaced with "Hizen".

On page 203 a period was added after "Highness".

On page 219 a comma at an end of a sentence was replaced by a period.

On page 230 a period was added after "60,000,000".

On page 254, "overwhemingly" was replaced with "overwhelmingly".

On page 264, "supicious" was replaced with "suspicious".

On page 273, "the Little Train" was replaced with "The Little Train".

On page 275, "pratice" was replaced with "practice".

On page 284, "orginally" was replaced with "originally".

On page 285, "af" was replaced with "of".

On page 292, "summond" was replaced with "summoned".

On page 306, "event" was replaced with "events".

On page 318, "Superstitition" was replaced with "Superstition".

On page 323 a comma was added after "Basil Hall Chamberlain".

On page 327 a space was added between "O----" and "I".

On page 328 a space was added between "K----" and "S".

On page 340, "despatched" was replaced with "dispatched".

In the index, "peculiarties" was replaced with "peculiarities".

Notice: There are no cites for the item Sculpture and architecture, and
in the index some items are closed with periods, but most are not.

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