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

Download this book: [ ASCII ]

Look for this book on Amazon

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

Title: Home Life in Tokyo
Author: Inouye, Jukichi
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Home Life in Tokyo" ***

[Illustration: THE SEVEN HERBS OF AUTUMN. _See Page 302._]
[Transcribers note: See the 4th from last paragraph of chapter 21.]

                         HOME LIFE IN TOKYO

                           JUKICHI INOUYE



                             PRINTED BY


The object of the present work is to give a concise account of the
life we lead at home in Tokyo. I am aware that there are already many
excellent works on Japan which may be read with great profit; but as
their authors are most of them Europeans or Americans, and naturally
look at Japanese life and civilisation from an occidental point of
view, it occurred to me that notwithstanding the superabundance of
books on Japan, a description of Japanese life by a native of the
country might not be without interest. I believe it is the first time
that such a task has been undertaken by a Japanese, for works in
English which I have so far seen written by my countrymen treat of
abstruse subjects and do not deign to touch upon such homely matters
as are here dealt with.

The information I have endeavoured to convey in these pages is open,
I fear, to the charge of scrappiness. It is unavoidable from the very
nature of the work, the purpose of which is to select from the wealth
of material in hand such matters as are likely to interest the general
reader. I make no pretension to completeness or comprehensiveness of

I may also explain that I have confined myself in these pages to the
depiction of life in Tokyo. To attempt to include the various customs
that prevail in other parts of the country would to difficult and
tedious. I felt that it would add materially to clearness and
simplicity if I localised my observations; and it was only natural
that Tokyo the capital should be selected for the purpose.

Finally, I would point out that I have made no distinction in the
grammatical number of the Japanese words used in this book. It may at
times puzzle the reader to find the same words occur, as in Japanese,
in both the singular and the plural; but to the Japanese ear the
addition of the English plural suffix seems to impair the euphony of
Japanese speech.


  Tokyo, Japan,
    September. 1910.



Tokyo the Capital.

  The youngest of the capitals—Yedo—The feudal government—Prosperity
  of Yedo—Its population—The military class—The Restoration—The new
  government—National reorganisation—Centralisation—Local
  government—Tokyo the leader of other cities—Struggle between Old and
  New Japan—The last stronghold of Old Japan.

                                                            —_Page 1._


The Streets of Tokyo.

  The area and population of Tokyo—Impression of greater
  populousness—Street improvements—Narrow streets—Shops and
  sidewalks—Road-making—Dusty roads—Lamps and street

                                                           —_Page 12._


Houses: Exterior.

  Name-plates—Block-buildings—Gates—The exposure of
  houses—Fires—House-breaking—Japanese houses in summer and
  winter—Storms and earthquakes—House-building—The carpenter—The

                                                           —_Page 24._


Houses: Interior.

  The sizes of rooms—The absence of
  furniture—Sliding-doors—Verandahs—Tenement and other small
  houses—Middle-sized dwellings—The porch and anteroom—The
  parlour—Parlour furniture—The sitting-room—Closets and
  cupboards—Bed-rooms—The dining-room—Chests of drawers and
  trunks—The toilet-room—The library—The bath-room—Foot-warmers.

                                                          —_Page 40._



  Rice—_Sake_—Wheat and barley—Soy
  sauce—_Mirin_—Rice-cooking—Soap—Pickled vegetables—Meal
  trays—Chopsticks—Breakfast—Clearing and washing—The kitchen—The
  little hearth—Pots and pans—Other utensils—Boxes and
  casks—Shelves—The sink and water-supply—The midday meal—The evening

                                                           —_Page 56._



  Japanese diet—Vegetables—Sea-weeds and flowers—Fish—Shell-fish—Crabs
  and other molluscs—Fowl—Meat—Prepared food—Peculiarities
  of food—Fruits—The bever—Baked potatoes and
  cracknel—Confectionery—Reasons for its
  abundance—Sponge-cake—Glutinous rice and red bean—Kinds of
  confectionery—Sugar in Japanese confectionery.

                                                           —_Page 71._


Male Dress.

  Japanese and foreign dress—Progress in the latter—Japanese clothes
  indispensable—_Kimono_—Cutting out—Making of an unlined dress—Short
  measure—Extra-sized dresses—_Yukata_—The lined _kimono_—The wadded
  _kimono_—Under-dress—Underwear—_Obi_—_Haori_—The crest—The uncrested
  _haori_—_Hakama_—Socks—How to dress Wearing of socks.

                                                           —_Page 82._


Female Dress.

  Attempts at Europeanisation—Difference between Japanese and foreign
  dresses—Expense and inconvenience of foreign dresses—Japanese
  dresses not to be discarded—How the female dress differs from the
  male—Underwear and over-band—_Haori_—_Hakama_—_Obi_—How to tie
  it—The dress-_obi_—The formal dress—Home-wear—Working clothes—The
  sameness of form—The girl’s dress—Dress and age.

                                                           —_Page 94._



  Queues—Hair-cutting—Moustaches and beards—Shaving—Women’s
  coiffure—Children’s hair—“Inverted maidenhair”—_Shimada_—“Rounded
  chignon”—Other forms—The lightest coiffure—Bars—Combs—Ornaments
  round the chignon—Hair-pins—The hair-dresser—The kind of hair
  esteemed—Lots of complexion—Girls painted—Women’s paint—Blackening
  of teeth—Shaving of eyebrows—Washing the face—Looking-glasses.

                                                          —_Page 107._


Outdoor Gear.

  Boots and shoes _versus_ clogs and sandals—Inconvenience of
  foreign footgear—Shoes and boots at private houses—Clogs and
  sandals able to hold their own—How clogs are made—Plain clogs—Matted
  clogs—Sandals—Straw sandals—Headgear—Woman’s hood—Overcoats and
  overdresses—Common umbrellas—Better descriptions of
  umbrellas—Lanterns—Better kinds of lanterns.

                                                          —_Page 122._


Daily Life.

  Busy life at home—Discomforts of early morning—Ablutions—Off to
  school and office—Smoking—Giving orders—Morning
  work—Washing—Needlework—The work-box—Japanese way of
  sewing—Ironing—Remaking clothes—Home duties—Bath—Evening—Early

                                                          —_Page 136._



  The servant question—Holidays—Hours of rest—Incessant work—Servants
  trusted—Relations with their mistresses—Decrease of mutual
  confidence—Life in the kitchen—Servants’ character—Whence they are
  recruited—Register-offices—The cook—The housemaid—The lady’s
  maid—Other female servants—The jinrikisha-man—The student house-boy.

                                                          —_Page 150._



  Decline of etiquette—Politeness and
  made and received—Rules for behaviour in company—Inconsiderate
  visitors—Woman’s reserve before strangers—Hospitality—Reticence
  on family matters.

                                                          —_Page 164._



  Girls and marriage—Young men—The marriage
  ceremony—Match-making—Betrothal—The bride’s property—Wedding
  decorations—The nuptials—Wedding supper—Congratulations—Post-nuptial
  parties—Japanese style of engagement—The advantages of the
  go-between system—The go-between as the woman’s deputy—The
  go-between as mediator—Marriage a civil contract in Japan—No
  honeymoon—The Japanese attitude towards marriage.

                                                          —_Page 176._


Family Relations.

  The family the unit of society—Adoption—The wife’s family
  relations—The father—Retirement—The retired father—The
  mother-in-law—A strong-willed daughter-in-law—Tender
  relations—Domestic discord—Sisters-in-law—Brothers-in-law—The
  wife usually forewarned—The husband also handicapped—His
  burdens—Old Japan’s ideas of wifely duties—The Japanese wife’s
  qualities—Petticoat government—The wife’s influence.

                                                          —_Page 195._



  Frequency of divorces—The new Civil Code on marriage
  and divorce—Conditions of a valid marriage—Invalid
  marriages—Cohabitation—The wife’s legal position—Her
  separate property—The rights of the head of the family—Care
  of the wife’s property—Forms of divorce—Grounds for divorce—Custody
  of children—No damages against the co-respondent—Breaches of
  promise of marriage—Few mercenary marriages—Widow-hunting also rare.

                                                          —_Page 208._



  Child-life—Love of children—Desire for
  them—Child-birth—After-birth—Early days—The baby’s food—The
  “first-eating”—Superstitions connected with infancy—Carrying of
  babies—Teething—Visits to the local shrine—Toddling—Weaning—The
  kindergarten and primary school—The girls’ high school—The middle
  school—The popularity of middle schools—Hitting—Exercises and

                                                          —_Page 219._



  Unlucky ages—The Japanese cycle—Celebration of ages—Respect for old
  age—Death—Preparations for the funeral—The wake—The coffin and
  bier—The funeral procession—The funeral service—Cremation—Gathering
  the bones—The grave—Prayers for the dead—Return presents—Memorial
  services—The Shinto funeral.

                                                          —_Page 235._



  Composition—The writing-table—Odes—Songs—The _haiku_—Chinese
  poetry—Tea-ceremony—Its complexity—Its utility to women—The flower
  arrangement—The underlying idea—Its extensive application—The
  principle of the arrangement—Manipulation of the stalks—Drawing
  water—Vases—Tray-landscapes—The _koto_—The _samisen_—Its form—Its
  scale—How to play it—The crudity of Japanese music—Its unemotional

                                                          —_Page 252._


Public Amusements.

  Pleasures—_No_-performance—Playgoing—The theatre—Japanese
  dramas—_Gidayu_-plays—Actors—A new school of
  actors—Actresses—Wrestling—Wrestlers—The wrestling booth—The
  wrestler’s apparel—The Ekoin matches—The umpire—The rules
  of the ring—The match-days—The story-tellers’ hall—Entertainment
  at the hall.

                                                          —_Page 269._


Feasts and Festivities.

  Festivities in the old days—The New Year’s Day—The
  New Year’s dreams—January—February—The Feast of Dolls—The
  Equinoctial day—Plum-blossoms—Cherry-blossoms—The flower
  season—Peach-blossoms—Tree-peonies and wistarias—The Feast of
  Flags—The Fête of the Yasukuni Shrine—Other fêtes—The Feasts of
  Tanabata and Lanterns—The river season—Moon-viewing—The Seven Herbs
  of Autumn—October—The Emperor’s Birthday—Chrysanthemums and
  maple-leaves—The end of the year.

                                                           _Page 287._


Sports and Games.

  chess—The moves—Use of prisoners—The game of _go_—Its
  principle—Camps—Counting—“Flowers-cards”—Players—How to
  play—Claims for hands—Claims for combinations made—Reckoning.

                                                           _Page 305._


  The Seven Herbs of Autumn                              Frontispiece.
  A Street in Yedo (From a picture by Settan, 1783–1843)            13
  A Shop in Tokyo                                                   18
  In the Slums                                                      25
  A House and a Gate                                                27
  A Roofed and a Pair Gate                                          29
  Door-fastenings                                                   32
  A House without a Gate                                            36
  A Garden                                                          38
  A Six-matted Room and Verandah                                    41
  The Porch, open and latticed                                      45
  An Eight-matted Parlour                                           47
  A Visitor                                                         49
  A Sitting-room                                                    50
  A Chest of Drawers and a Trunk                                    52
  Foot-warmers                                                      55
  A Shrine of the Rice-god                                          57
  A Meal-tray                                                       60
  How to hold Chopsticks                                            61
  A Meal                                                            63
  The Kitchen                                                       65
  A Skylight and the Kitchen-god                                    67
  A Well                                                            69
  Raw Fish, whole and sliced                                        72
  _Sushi_ and _Soba_                                                77
  A Box of Sponge-cake                                              79
  The _Kimono_, rear and front view                                 86
  The _Obi_, square and plain                                       88
  The _Haori_                                                       89
  The _Hakama_                                                      91
  Socks                                                             92
  The _Obi_ for ordinary wear                                       98
  The Dress-_obi_                                                  100
  A Servant with Tucked Sleeves                                    102
  The Reformed Dress                                               103
  A Young Lady dressed for a Visit                                 105
  Queues                                                           108
  The “203-metre Hill” and “Penthouse”                             109
  Young Girls’ Hair                                                110
  The “Inverted Maidenhair”                                        111
  The _Shimada_ and “Rounded Chignon”                              112
  Bars, Combs, and Bands                                           114
  Ornamental Hair-pins                                             116
  The Hair-dresser                                                 117
  Plain Clogs                                                      124
  Matted Clogs                                                     126
  Matted Sandals                                                   127
  Straw sandals                                                    128
  Old Headgear                                                     129
  A Hood                                                           130
  An Overdress                                                     132
  Lanterns                                                         134
  The Family in Bed                                                137
  A Woman smoking                                                  141
  The Starching-board                                              143
  Needlework                                                       146
  The Servant at the Sliding-door                                  152
  Cooking Rice                                                     158
  The Housemaid at work                                            160
  The House-boy                                                    162
  Bowing                                                           168
  Sitting with Crossed Legs                                        169
  Squatting                                                        170
  Betrothal Presents (From a picture by Sukenobu, 1678–1751)       178
  The Bridal Procession (From a picture by Sukenobu)               180
  The Wedding Party (From a picture by Sukenobu)                   182
  The Exchange of Cups (From a picture by Sukenobu)                184
  The Bride’s Cabinets (From a picture by Sukenobu)                186
  The First Meeting and Wedding at the Present Time                188
  A Daimyo’s Wedding                                               190
  A Lower-class Wedding                                            192
  Husband and Wife                                                 196
  A Domestic Quarrel and Reconciliation                            199
  The First Visit to the Local Shrine (From a picture by Sukenobu) 222
  The “First-eating” (From a picture by Sukenobu)                  224
  Carrying Children                                                227
  Fencing                                                          233
  Offerings before a Coffin                                        238
  Coffins and an Urn                                               241
  A Buddhist Funeral Service                                     242–3
  Service at the Temple                                            245
  At the Crematory                                                 246
  Graves                                                           247
  A Shinto Funeral Procession                                      249
  A Shinto Funeral Service                                         250
  A Writing-table and Book-cases                                   253
  Tea-making                                                       260
  Flower-vases                                                     262
  A Tray-landscape                                                 264
  The _Koto_                                                       265
  The _Samisen_                                                    267
  A _No_-dance                                                     270
  The Entrance of a Theatre                                        272
  The Stage and Entrance-passage                                   273
  The Revolving-stage                                              275
  A Wrestling-match                                                279
  The Champion’s Appearance in the Ring                            281
  The Entrance of a Story-tellers’ Hall                            283
  A Story-teller on the Platform                                   285
  The Treasure-ship                                                289
  The New Year’s Decorations                                       290
  The Feast of Dolls                                               293
  Cherry-flowers at Mukojima                                       295
  The Feast of Flags                                               298
  The Fête of Sanno                                                299
  The Feast of Lanterns                                            301
  Offerings to the Full Moon                                       303
  Cormorant-fishing                                                307
  Angling-stools                                                   308
  _Sugoroku_                                                       309
  _Iroha_ and Ode-Cards                                            311
  Playing Ode-cards                                                312
  The Game of _Ken_                                                315
  Japanese Chess                                                   317
  The Game of _Go_                                                 318
  “Flower-cards”                                                   321



  The youngest of the capitals—Yedo—The feudal government—Prosperity
  of Yedo—Its population—The military class—The Restoration—The new
  government—National reorganisation—Centralisation—Local
  government—Tokyo the leader of other cities—Struggle between Old and
  New Japan—The last stronghold of Old Japan.

Tokyo is the youngest of the great capitals of the world, for it was
only in 1868 that the present Emperor of Japan left the old city
where his ancestors had for centuries lived in seclusion and made the
Shogun’s stronghold his new home and seat of government. It was a
politic move; because though the Shogun had already resigned his
office and surrendered the absolute authority he had exercised in the
government of the country, there were still many among his followers
who were unwilling to give up their hereditary offices. Had the
Emperor then remained in Kyoto and there established his government,
it would have been comparatively easy for these discontented partisans
of the Shogun to foment an insurrection in the largest city of the
Empire, which might assume serious proportions before it could be
quelled, especially in those days when the means of communication and
transportation were yet very primitive. Hence, it was decided to
remove the central government to the possible hot-bed of disaffection
and, by the strong arm of the newly-constituted administration, to nip
in the bud all signs of rebellion. And so the Emperor and his Court
forsook the city which had been the nominal capital for a thousand
years and took up their abode in the great military centre which was
known as Yedo; but when the Emperor arrived at the old castle of
the Shogun, he gave it the name of Tokyo, or the Eastern Capital, to
distinguish it from the late capital, Kyoto, which is on that account
also spoken of by the people as Saikyo, or the Western Capital.

But Yedo itself was not very old. Towards the close of the fifteenth
century, a renowned warrior, Ota Dokan by name, built a little castle
in the village of Yedo. Not long after his death, his family became
extinct and others succeeded to the lordship of the little castle. A
century later, Tokugawa Iyeyasu, one of the most powerful daimyo, or
territorial lords, at the time, became master of the Eight Provinces
east of the Hakone Mountains and was on the point of establishing his
government at Kamakura, the capital of the first line of Shogun, when
he was persuaded by his suzerain, the Taiko Hideyoshi, who is best
known to history for his invasion of Korea, to set up his headquarters
at Dokan’s castle-town which possessed great strategic advantages over
Kamakura. Accordingly, in 1590, Iyeyasu came to the village of Yedo
and saw that the castle could be developed into a formidable fortress.
At once he set to work rebuilding it on a gigantic scale. Bounded on
the north and west by a low line of hills, on the south by the Bay of
Yedo, and on the east by marshes, it was in those days of bows and
arrows and hand-to-hand fights almost impregnable. Behind the hills
lay the wide plain of Musashino, across which no enemy could approach
unobserved, while it was equally difficult to make a sudden attack
upon the castle from the sea or over the marshes. The castle covered
upwards of five hundred acres within its inner walls. The swamp was
reclaimed, and merchants, artisans, priests, and men of other crafts
and professions were induced by liberal offers to settle in the new
city. The reclaimed land soon became the principal merchant quarter.

In 1603, Iyeyasu became Shogun, or military suzerain of the country.
The Shogun was appointed by the Emperor, who delegated to him the
civil and military government of the land. The Emperor made the
appointment nominally of his own will; but in reality he was compelled
to confer the title on the most powerful of his subjects. It was to
Iyeyasu but a confirmation of the influence he already wielded as
the most formidable of all the territorial barons. And thus fortified
by the Imperial nomination, he began at once to take measures for the
general pacification of the country which had for years been plunged
in a terrible civil war. His first step was to consolidate his power;
and it was done with such success that the Shogunate remained in his
family for two hundred and sixty-five years. This predominance of his
family was in a great measure due to his skill in providing against
those evils which had wrecked former lines of Shogun. All these
dynasties had fallen through coalitions of powerful daimyo in
different parts of the country and the consequent inability to cope
with insurrections which broke out simultaneously in various quarters.
To prevent such coalitions Iyeyasu created small fiefs around the
territories of great daimyo and gave them to his own adherents, who
acted as spies upon these daimyo and frustrated any attempts they
might make at conspiracy. The territories along the great highway
between Yedo and Kyoto he also apportioned among his followers, so
that he had always a ready access to the Emperor’s city and could
without difficulty control every movement of the Imperial Court.
Another plan he formed towards the same end, though it was not
actually carried out until the time of his grandson. This was the
compulsory residence of the daimyo in Yedo for a certain term every
other year; the time for reaching and leaving the city was fixed
for each daimyo by the Shogun’s government. Their wives, with rare
exceptions, remained permanently in Yedo and were practically hostages
at the Shogun’s court.

The effect of this last measure was the increased prosperity of Yedo.
All the daimyo were compelled to keep a house in the city. They built
most of their palaces around the castle, and in the same enclosures
were erected numerous houses for their retainers. Many daimyo had one
or more mansions in the suburbs, not a few of which were noted for
their size and their beautiful grounds. The most celebrated of these
mansions is now the Imperial Arsenal, the garden of which is one of
the sights of Tokyo; and another forms a part of the Palace of the
Crown Prince and is also the place where the Imperial chrysanthemum
party is given every autumn. The building of the daimyo’s mansions,
the number of these lords being at the time about two hundred and
fifty, naturally attracted merchants, artisans, and other classes of
people from all parts of the country. And Yedo rose before long to
be the most flourishing city in Japan. It set the example to all the
other cities of the Empire, for the daimyo copied in their own
castle-towns all that they found to their taste during their forced
sojourn in Yedo. This leading position which the Shogun’s city held in
the feudal days has been retained even in an increased measure by the
capital of New Japan.

Some idea of the prosperity of Yedo may be formed from the fabulous
accounts of its wealth current among the country-people, who believed
that in the main streets of the city land was worth its weight in
gold. But a more definite proof is to be found in the computations
which were made from time to time with respect to its population.
Estimates based upon official records in the early years of the
Shogunate are very incomplete. Thus, we are told that there were in
1634, 35,419 citizen householders and twenty-three years later, as
many as 68,051, which would give a citizen population, at the rate of
4.2 persons per household, of 148,719 and 285,814 respectively, an
increase which is obviously too great for so short an interval. The
first trustworthy computation is probably that for the year 1721, when
the citizens and their families were said to aggregate about half a
million and the military class, with their servants, were put at a
little over a quarter of a million. Priests, street-vendors, and
beggars with whom the city swarmed did not most likely fall much below
fifty thousand, so that we may without any great error take the total
population at eight hundred thousand. More than a century later, in
1843, that is, a few years before the outbreak of the dissensions
which finally broke up the feudal government, the total population was
calculated from similar sources at 1,300,000, of which 300,000 or
nearly one quarter, belonged to the military class. Old European
travellers put the population of Yedo at various figures ranging from
a million and a half to three millions, but the above computation is
probably as near the truth as we can hope to get; and in view of the
fact that Yedo was a dozen years later torn by factions and was
practically in a state of civil war, we may safely conclude that its
population never exceeded that calculated for the year 1843.

In the above-mentioned estimate the military population of Yedo is put
at 300,000. It was computed in the following manner:—There were in the
country two hundred and sixty-seven daimyo, every one of whom had two
or more mansions in Yedo. The total number of their retainers and
servants, with their families, in fact, of all who depended for their
subsistence upon these barons, was calculated at over 137,000. The
immediate feudatories of the Shogun who all lived in Yedo, numbered
22,000; and they, with their families and servants, made up 160,000.
From these figures the great influence wielded by the samurai in Yedo
may be readily inferred.

Though Yedo thus prospered and the Shogun’s rule there seemed firmly
established while thousands of samurai were ready to lay down their
lives for his welfare, contentment was far from universal in the
country. Some of the great daimyo whose ancestors had submitted to
Iyeyasu only because of his overwhelming power, would have gladly
raised the standard against his descendants if they had seen any
chance of success; they knew that two centuries and a half of peace
had enervated the Shogun’s court and luxurious habits corrupted his
government and that it would not be a difficult task to crush him if
they could form a coalition against him. But as yet they did not know
whom to trust among their fellow-daimyo, and discontent smouldered
ready to burst out at the first opportunity.

And that opportunity came in good time. The arrival of Commodore
Perry’s squadron and the subsequent conclusion of treaties by the
Shogun with the foreign powers are matters of history. Centuries of
isolation had lured the nation into the belief that it could for ever
remain free from all contact with the outside world; the treaties,
therefore, came upon it as a rude awakening from its long-cherished
dream, and the possible consequences of the opening of the country
to foreign trade and intercourse naturally aroused all its fears. A
strong agitation arose in denunciation of the Shogun’s act to which
the Emperor’s sanction had not yet been given, and when orders came
from Kyoto to abrogate the new treaties, the enemies of the Yedo
government saw their opportunity; they turned to the sovereign
who lived hidden from public gaze in his palace and knew that the
salvation of their country could be brought only by the Emperor coming
to his own again and assuming the direct government of his people.
Leaders among these loyalists were the clans of Satsuma and Choshu,
two of the most powerful in Japan, which were later joined by those of
Hizen and Tosa, and many others. The Shogun did his utmost to suppress
these risings; but being at length convinced, by his utter failure, of
his own powerlessness, he resigned his office in 1867 and restored the
reins of government into the hands of his sovereign.

The Emperor thereupon made Yedo his capital and to it flocked the men
who had helped to overthrow the Shogun’s government. The small bands
of the latter’s adherents who still offered resistance were soon
overcome. The national government was reorganised by men from the
loyal clans. Though the Shogun had been denounced for his friendly
attitude towards foreigners, the new government was even more
cordially disposed towards them. The truth is that though the Shogun’s
enemies were at first all for the expulsion of foreigners out of the
country, wiser heads among them soon came to understand that it would
not be possible to get rid of these unwelcome visitors and return to
the old state of isolation. This conviction was especially brought
home to the great clans of Satsuma and Choshu when Kagoshima, the
chief town of the former, and Shimonoseki, the seaport of the latter,
were bombarded for outrages upon Europeans, one by a British fleet in
1863 and the other by combined squadrons of Great Britain, France,
Holland, and the United States in the following year; and they saw
that the only way for their country to preserve her independence and
secure a footing in the comity of nations was to be as strong as those
powers and advance in that path of civilisation which had given them
such a commanding position in the world. But so long as the Shogunate
stood, they let the anti-foreign agitation take its course; when,
however, it fell and the way was cleared for a reorganised
government, they set to remodelling it on western lines. Then
commenced that process of national renovation which has astonished the

With the fall of the Shogunate and the reorganisation of the national
government the feudal system was doomed; for such a programme as
Japan had already sketched out for herself was incompatible with that
medieval form of government. This fact was soon recognised by the
daimyo of Satsuma and Choshu, who offered in 1868 to surrender their
fiefs; the generous offer was gladly accepted and their example was
followed by all the other daimyo. But for the time the ex-daimyo were
all appointed governors of their respective fiefs so that they might
aid in bringing their former subjects to a full sense of the new
condition of things. Three years later, in 1871, the clans were
abolished and the whole country was divided into prefectures. The
daimyo and their retainers received government bonds in commutation
of the incomes they had thitherto derived from their fiefs. The
substitution of prefectures for clans was made with the object of
breaking up the clan bias which was prejudicial to national unity and
of giving the central government a more complete control over the
provinces by the appointment to prefectural offices of high officials
from Tokyo. For to prevent disaffection or crush open revolt in the
provinces, it was necessary to centralise as much as possible the
government of the country; and with all its precautions, the new
government had to cope with several little uprisings, culminating in
the Satsuma rebellion which spread over a greater part of the island
of Kyushu and taxed its resources to the utmost. But when this was
quelled, the country enjoyed absolute peace; no internal disorder has
since taken place with the sole exception of a small local trouble in

The result of this centralisation was that Tokyo became the centre of
the whole national life. Men seeking office hurried to it; students
entered its schools; the trades and professions seemed to thrive only
in the capital. The measures which the government took at the time
tended still further to make Tokyo attractive. For the Restoration and
the consequent national reorganisation were for the most part the
work of the military class, or rather of the samurai of a few clans
under the guidance of a small group of leaders. The country bowed to
the inevitable; but the people had little or no voice in the matter.
Whatever drastic measures the government might take, the nation
at large could not at a word of command throw off the immemorial
traditions in which it had been brought up; it failed to realise the
drift of the new policy its leaders were entering upon. Consequently,
the first and most important duty of the government was to guide its
people in the path it had taken. New laws were published with minute
instructions; schools of all kinds were established on the western
plan, the higher colleges being located in Tokyo; model government
factories were built in the environs of the city; in short, nothing
that a paternal government could do was omitted to take the people
by the leading-strings. The higher schools were soon filled; their
graduates found ready employment. The country was ruled by a huge army
of officials, who, taking as they did the place of the old samurai
in the popular estimation, commanded respect and deference often
out of proportion to the importance of their posts, which, with
the comparatively high salaries they enjoyed in those days, made
government service the most attractive of all occupations. In fact,
in the early days, Tokyo may be said to have derived its enhanced
prosperity from the superabundance of officials. Then too, men of the
legal, medical, and other professions all opened practice in Tokyo;
only in recent years when every rank has been overcrowded in the city,
have they sought fresh fields in the provinces.

It was not long, however, before the evils of excessive centralisation
began to make themselves felt; and when the task of national
reorganisation was fairly complete, steps were taken towards
decentralisation. Prefectural assemblies were opened in 1881 as a
preliminary measure to the establishment of the national assembly. In
1888, local self-government was granted to provincial cities, towns,
and villages, and everything was done to promote local prosperity. The
close of the year 1890 saw the opening of the national diet. The war
with China in 1894–5 and that with Russia ten years later brought
on in either case a sudden activity in all departments of commerce and
industry and gave a great impetus to railway enterprise. Many bogus
companies, it is true, were formed at the same time, and their
collapse was a serious set-back to the national economy. But the
undoubted increase of commercial and industrial enterprises has served
to relieve the pressure of population upon Tokyo. Osaka, for instance,
which has for centuries been a great commercial centre, has within the
last few years become as great a centre of industry, with a population
exceeding a million. Kyoto, the old capital, remains somnolent; but
Nagoya and the trade-ports of Kobe and Yokohama are forging ahead.
In short, though Tokyo, as the capital, will probably remain the
largest city in the Empire, it cannot be denied that it is not now so
far in advance of the rest as it was a few years ago. This rise
of great provincial cities is a necessary result of the growth of
manufacturing industries which are bound, if the country is to
prosper, to take the place of agriculture, which is too limited in its
scope in a country of such a moderate extent as Japan. It is indeed
but a repetition of the rise of the great provincial towns like
Birmingham, Sheffield, and Manchester in England in the last century.

Still Tokyo must take the lead in all that pertains to the adoption
of western civilisation. Osaka and other manufacturing cities will
develop the inevitable but unwelcome phases of western industrialism.
Already the labour problem looms before us, and the government must
before long legislate on the question. There are also signs of
socialistic agitation. But these questions do not affect Tokyo so
seriously as other cities, for the factories on its outskirts are
comparatively few and the land is too valuable for residential
purposes to be occupied by manufactories.

Tokyo will remain what it has always been, the home of the best
classes in every department of national life. It will always indicate
the high-water mark of oriental culture and occidental influence.
Here, as nowhere else, will be seen that antagonism of the two, the
pressure of western customs and ways of life following on the heels of
the sciences and practical knowledge we are eagerly imbibing from the
West and the resistance of oriental traditions and usages, which
refuse to admit a tittle more than is absolutely necessary to bring
the country to a material and intellectual equality with the foremost
nations of the world. To those who look below the surface nothing
is more interesting in viewing the progress of Japan than this
combination of radicalism and conservatism. The Japanese, for
all his apparent love of innovation, still retains that stolid
self-satisfaction usually associated with the oriental mind, though it
is no rarer in the West. He has long recognised that his country must
advance along the lines taken at the Restoration, but he would have
the development take place without the sacrifice of the national
characteristics which have marked his countrymen from time immemorial.
The agitation which was set up some twenty years ago for the
preservation of these characteristics by those who feared the mania
for everything European which was then at its height would result
in the obliteration of the qualities which have kept Japan in full
vitality through the centuries, still finds an echo in his heart. The
threatened sudden metamorphosis of those days was but a passing whim;
the change is now slower and more subtle, and it is hard to mark the
exact line at which the encroaching tide of European civilisation
shall be made to stop. But the Japanese feels that the line must be
drawn somewhere. The problem is certainly difficult to solve. It
appears hardly possible to reap the fruits of the material and
intellectual progress of the West and yet to shut out the moral and
religious sources of that progress; but for all that, it would be
premature to pronounce it impossible. For we have already done what
seemed at first beyond the verge of possibility. Who, for instance, of
the thousands who nightly thronged to the Savoy Theatre to laugh over
the famous Gilbert and Sullivan opera, would have thought at the time
that a few years thence their country would form a treaty of alliance
with the land of Koko, Yum-yum, and Nankipoo? They would have flouted
the very idea; but that alliance is generally regarded as a natural
outcome of the recent course of events in the Ear East. Would it be,
we wonder, a much harder task to discriminate the elements of European

There are of course people who find their account in advocating
the rapid adoption of everything European; but their utmost efforts
notwithstanding, there is one citadel which will long resist their
attacks and remain almost as purely Japanese as in the days of their
forefathers. That impregnable citadel is the home; woman is in Japan
as elsewhere the greatest conservative element of national life, and
within her sphere of influence tradition reigns as supreme as ever.
Globe-trotters who advise their friends to visit this country with as
little delay as possible for fear that in a few years Old Japan would
cease to be, do not reckon with our domestic life. Japanese women are
as a class gentle, pliant, and docile; and these qualities stand them
in good stead at home. Whether it be that they manage with all their
demureness to twist their lords round their little fingers or that the
latter are afraid that any change in home life would develop a new
revolting woman who would refuse to be as submissive as they are at
present, the fact remains that with the mass of the nation there has
been little change in the conditions of domestic life. And what these
conditions are and how little the influx of new ideas has affected the
home of Old Japan, it is the object of the following chapters to relate.



  The area and population of Tokyo—Impression of greater
  populousness—Street improvements—Narrow streets—Shops and
  sidewalks—Road-making—Dusty roads—Lamps and street

The area of Tokyo is not so great as is generally supposed. The people
of Yedo used to say that their city was ten miles square; but the
extreme length, from north-east to south-west, of Tokyo which does
not differ materially in its limits from the old city, is no more
than eight miles. The actual area is only 18,482 acres, or nearly
twenty-nine square miles. The population fell with the decline of the
feudal government and was under a million in the early days of the new
regime. The registered population returned to one million in 1884. The
municipal census which was taken for the first time on the first of
October, 1908, gave the settled population as 1,622,856, composed
of 872,550 males and 750,306 females, and the number of families
as 377,493. This took no account of the floating population which
probably exceeds a hundred thousand; there is also a large population,
not less than a quarter of a million, which the rise of rents and the
facilities of electric-tramway communication have sent outside the
administrative limits of the municipality; it forms, properly-speaking,
a part of the population of the city.

Tokyo is therefore a great city; but the stranger who visits its
streets for the first time usually gets an impression of an even
greater populousness. For the streets are always in the evening
teeming with young children; they are not gutter-snipes, but children
of respectable parents, small tradesmen or private persons of slender
means, who let them run about on the public road rather than romp in
their narrow dwellings. But it is not the children alone who
think they have a greater right of way over the roads than the public:
for on summer evenings especially, men and women turn out of doors
and walk about or sit on benches outside their houses. Shops are
completely open and reveal the rooms within, so that whole families
may be seen from the streets; and as most houses are of only one or
two stories, people live for the most part on the ground-floor. Even
in private residences of some pretensions, the thin wooden walls allow
voices to be easily heard on warm days when the rooms are kept open.
So that from the people he sees crowding the houses and the noises he
hears on all sides, the stranger is often deceived into giving the
city credit for a larger population than it actually possesses.

[Illustration: A STREET IN YEDO. (FROM A PICTURE BY SETTAN, 1778–1843).]

The streets themselves are worth notice. If the foreigner who comes to
Japan expects to see in such a great capital the asphalt carriageway
and paved sidewalk of his native country, he will be sadly
disappointed, for Tokyo, with all its multitudinous thoroughfares,
cannot boast even the boulevards and avenues of a European provincial
town. In spite of the efforts of the Tokyo municipality, the streets
are still narrow. Their total length is about six hundred miles, with
a width ranging from one yard to fifty, the average being nine yards.
It was decided twenty years ago to widen some three hundred miles of
these roads, giving the largest a width of forty yards for carriageway
with a footway on either side of six yards, and the smallest a
carriageway of twelve yards and a footway one yard wide. The work
is to be accomplished in ninety years. Improvements to this end are
slowly going on. The fact is that the City Fathers missed a great
opportunity in the early years of the new regime when, upon the
desertion of the residences of the daimyo and other feudatories after
the fall of the Shogunate, land could have been purchased for a song,
for it went begging in the heart of the city at less than thirty yen
an acre. Those who were wise enough to buy it have made big fortunes,
for the same land now sells for a hundred thousand yen or more per
acre. Now, however, the municipality cannot command sufficient funds
to purchase the land needed for improvements along the streets
proposed, but buys it up only when it is absolutely necessary to
relieve the congestion of traffic; and elsewhere it waits
patiently until a fire burns down the streets and clears the
required space for it as, in that case, it will not have to give any
compensation for the removal of the houses.

In the old days, the narrowness of the streets did not interfere with
such traffic as was then carried on. The daimyo and others of high
rank rode in palanquins, and officials went about on horseback; but
the rest of the world walked. The citizens were not allowed to make
use of other legs than their own. Those who had to go about much put
on cheap straw sandals, which were thrown away at the end of their
journey, so that they did not give a thought to the width or the state
of the road as they had in any case to wash their feet afterwards;
while others, of the common people, were, if they met a daimyo’s
procession, thrust to the wall or oftener into the ditch, and they too
cared as little for the width of the thoroughfare. And when a samurai
met another in a narrow lane, it was by no means rare, if their
sword-scabbards touched in passing, for an altercation to arise and
be followed by bloodshed; but as brawls were in their way, they did
not trouble themselves about the widening of the road. Pedestrians,
moreover, could always pick their way in any street, and if they saw
coming towards them a daimyo’s retinue or a company of swash-bucklers,
they usually turned into a side-street. To the happy horsemen and
palanquin-riders the size of a street was a matter of absolute
indifference, for if those on shanks’ mare got in their way, it was
their lookout. But luckily for these walkers there was little else for
them to dodge, for vehicles were comparatively few. The only objects
on wheels were handcarts and waggons drawn by horses or oxen. These
waggons came from the country with bags of rice, fuel, and other
necessaries, and were used, not for their speed which was a snail’s
pace, but for their carrying power.

In these latter days, however, things have materially changed. Men
to-day would be put to the blush by the hale old survivors of those
pedestrian times, for they have gone to the other extreme. The
conveniences of the jinrikisha, or two-wheeled vehicles drawn by men,
and latterly of electric tramways have sapped all energy out of them,
and we hear little nowadays of walking feats. There were in 1900
forty-six thousand jinrikisha in Tokyo; but the electric cars, which
began to run a few years later, are driving them out of the city, for
they are now less than one-half of that number. Still, the pedestrian
has need to keep a good lookout on the road, for where, in the absence
of footways, men, women, children, vehicles, and horses move about in
an inextricable jumble, it is a matter for wonder that accidents are
not more frequent. Besides the jinrikisha and electric cars, there are
thousands of handcarts, some drawn by coolies and carrying objects of
every description from household articles to stones for road-making
and trees for gardens, and others drawn by milkmen with their
milk-cans, by apprentices with their masters’ wares, by pedlars with
various assortments to attract the housewife’s eye, or by farm-boys
with vegetables fresh from the field. There are but a thousand waggons
drawn by horses or oxen in Tokyo; but as there are twice as many more
in the surrounding country, they are very much in evidence in the
city since they make their presence unpleasantly obtrusive in narrow
streets. These waggons, however, move slowly and give one time to get
out of their way. In this respect they are better to meet than the
carriages which drive on indifferent to the width of the road; in
narrow streets the latter are preceded by grooms who hustle all
loiterers out of the way. They are only less eagerly shunned than the
motor-cars and the files of handcarts which move leisurely along with
pink flags marked “ammunition” from the Imperial arsenal.

But the Ishmael of the streets of Tokyo was until lately the bicycle.
A few years ago there were six thousand of these machines in the city;
they were patronised by shop-apprentices who, with large bundles on
their backs, scorched through crowded streets careless of accidents
to themselves or others. These apprentices were therefore in the
policeman’s black books; nor did the jinrikisha-man look upon them
with any favour, for he regarded bicycling as an innovation intended
to defraud him of his fares. But his hostility against the bicycle
melted away when he was confronted by the electric car which has
proved itself the most formidable of his foes. The bicycle, too, has
suffered an eclipse; for apprentices and others of its patrons
find it more expensive to keep it in repair than to travel by the car
at the cost of a penny per trip. The motor-car also made its debut a
few years back and the dust it raises and the smell of petrol it leaves
in its track have brought upon it the anathema of all pedestrians; and
though the police regulations prohibit a motor-car from traversing
streets less than twelve yards wide, it runs merrily through lanes and
small side-streets. It sometimes charges into shops and makes havoc
among their merchandise. The pranks it plays in the hands of unskilful
chauffeurs are not likely to lessen its unpopularity.

What with carriages, jinrikisha, waggons, handcarts, and bicycles
jostling one another and men, women, and children threading their way
through the labyrinth or fleeing before motor or electric cars, the
more frequented streets of Tokyo present a confused mass of traffic;
but in respect of actual numbers they are really less crowded than
western streets of similar importance. The busy appearance is mostly
due to the absence of sidewalks, and the bustle is increased by the
wayfarers having to run to and fro to get out of the way of the
vehicles. In streets provided with sidewalks one would expect less
confusion; but as a matter of fact, people are so used to walking
among vehicles of all sorts that they prefer sauntering on the
carriageway to quietly pacing the sidewalks; and it is no uncommon
experience to meet a company walking abreast in the middle of the road
and dodging carriages while the sidewalks are almost deserted.

[Illustration: A SHOP IN TOKYO.]

Sidewalks are not likely to gain in popularity until improvements are
made in the arrangements of shops. There are no streets in Tokyo which
are known as fashionable afternoon resorts, because the shops are so
constructed that one cannot stop before them without being accosted by
the squatting salesmen. Only in a few main streets are there regular
rows of shops with show-windows against which one could press one’s
nose to look at the wares exhibited or peer beyond at the shop-girls
at the counter; but then business is not done in Japan over the
counter, nor do shop-girls hide their charms behind a window, for the
shops are open to the street and the show-girls, or “signboard-girls”
as we call them, squat at the edge visible to all passers-by and
are as distinctive a feature of the shop as the signboard itself. The
goods are exhibited on the floor in glass cases or in piles, a custom
which is not commendable when pastry or confectionery is on sale, for
standing as it does on the south-eastern end of the great plain of
Musashino, Tokyo is a very windy city, and the thick clouds of fine
dust raised by the wind on fair days cover every article exposed and
penetrate through the joints of glass cases, so that in Tokyo a man
who is fond of confectionery must expect to eat his pound of dirt not
within a lifetime, but often in a few weeks. If one stops for a moment
to look at the wares, he is bidden at once to sit on the floor and
examine other articles which would be brought out for his inspection,
whereupon he has either to accept the invitation or move on. One
seldom cares therefore to loiter in the street. The only shops that
are often crowded by loiterers are the booksellers’ and cheap-picture

But even more unpleasant than the narrowness of the streets is the
state in which many of them are to be found. In a few streets the
roadway has been dug up and pyramidal stones have been laid on the bed
with the points up; they are then covered with earth and broken stone
and finished with a top-dressing of gravel. They are not, however,
rolled as steam-rollers have only lately made their appearance in
Tokyo; sometimes small stone-rollers, about two feet in diameter, are
drawn over the metal by a dozen coolies, but the work is inefficient
as the pressure of such toy rollers is too slight to make any sensible
impression. For the most part, therefore, newly-made roads are left to
be levelled with the beetle-crushers of the long-suffering public.
The municipality finds it the cheapest way. This is bad enough on the
gravelled road, but the tortures it inflicts on men and beasts of
burden, to say nothing of the rapid wear and tear of vehicles, are
indescribable when the thoroughfare is repaired in the orthodox style.
Whenever the road wants mending, cartloads of pebbles are, according
to this method, brought from the beds of the rivers in the
neighbourhood of Tokyo and scattered over the highway. They are laid
evenly, but not levelled or rolled. The public press them down as they
walk with their clogs, sandals, or boots; immediately any part is
embedded in the soil, that path alone is used till it is beaten
flat, so that one often sees a narrow path meandering in a wide
stone-covered road, along which all traffic is carried on and the rest
of the road is practically unused. When this path is beaten in and
becomes hollow, more cartloads of pebbles are thrown upon it and
the public recommence their patient task of road-levelling. But
fortunately for them, they are materially aided in this benevolent
work by the solstitial rains, which when they come down in torrents,
soon bury the stones in the clayey soil, and for the nonce the people
walk over it rejoicing until the municipality sets them a new task; or
the rains have done their work but too well and the poor pedestrians
find themselves wading through quagmire.

Indeed, quagmire is what we find in many streets after rain; for the
supply of rubble is necessarily limited as it comes mostly from the
rivers in and about the city, and consequently a majority of roads are
left uncared for. These, after a heavy rain, are covered with a thick
coating of mud, which when the sun has dried it, leaves behind deep
ruts, making the roads more unpleasant to walk on than when covered
with pebbles. In midsummer when the ridges of these ruts have been
pulverised and blown in all directions so that one appears to be
walking on sand, the roads are watered twice or more every day. The
watering is done on high roads by coolies with small hand-drays out of
which water is sprinkled spasmodically, and as the men stop from time
to time to take breath, there are on many spots pools of water in
which one can soil one’s footgear as effectually as on the rainiest
day. But worse still is the watering done by private persons on the
part of the road facing their dwellings. These merely ladle the water
from their pails and sprinkle it in splashes, leaving in the middle of
the street puddles for children to make mud-cakes in. In short, the
great objection to the way in which the streets are watered in Tokyo
is that it is too much for laying the dust, but not enough for
flushing the roadway.

The pedestrian has therefore to be very careful in selecting the part
of the road to walk on in both wet and fine weather. This is not very
difficult in the daytime; but at night, especially when there is no
moon, the task is hard to accomplish with success; for rarely are
street lamps set up at the public expense, and in most streets the
inhabitants have lamps for their own convenience over their front
doors or gates; but the light of these lamps is very meagre as they
are naturally not intended to guide the stray wayfarer over the road.
But even these are of some service in streets of shops where the front
doors are ranged pretty closely together; in roads, however, where
there are only private houses, the gates being far apart, the lights
are also at some distance from each other and the passenger has mostly
to trust to his luck to keep himself clean. That luck, however,
deserts him at times, for the repairs which the roads seem to undergo
in every part of the city are astonishingly frequent. It is not the
mere mending that is the cause of the trouble, but the constant
pulling up of the roads for laying or repairing gas-pipes,
water-pipes, and what not that so often brings one to an _impasse_.
As, moreover, the authorities work independently of one another, a
road which has been dug up for one purpose and filled in again, may be
pulled up for another. Matters are not likely to improve in the near
future, for before long the telegraph and telephone authorities must
have a hand in digging up the road; at present the wires are overhead,
but the poles are already overweighted and cannot be loaded much more
without serious danger to traffic. Electric-light wires are equally
menacing; and the situation is only aggravated where the electric cars
run through crowded streets of the business quarters.

The wretched state of the roads after rain is undoubtedly due to
imperfect drainage. The cross-section of the roads has little or no
curvature or gradient, and the gutters, where they have been made, do
not drain off and are only receptacles for muddy stagnant water. They
are occasionally cleaned by heaping the mire on the roadside. And
yet, curious to state, in spite of these insanitary methods, the rate
of mortality in Tokyo is not so high as might be expected. It varies
from twenty to twenty-five per thousand on the registered population
and therefore must be less when the floating population is taken into
account. It shows that Tokyo is not an unhealthy city, and when the
municipality has carried out the plan it has made for a drainage
system, the Japanese capital will probably compare favourably with
most other great cities of the world.

There is one peculiarity about the streets of Tokyo which deserves
mention, that is, the way they are named. Of course every thoroughfare
has a name given to it; but it differs from streets in other countries
in that name being the designation, not of the thoroughfare itself,
but of the section or piece of land through which it runs. Thus, two
or more thoroughfares which run through the same section are known by
the same name; in a large section there may be a dozen streets running
in all directions and bearing the same name. When a road runs on
the boundary of two sections, the opposite sides would be known by
different names, and a man walking in the middle of such a road would
be perambulating two streets at one and the same time. Some of the
larger sections, if regularly built, are divided on the main road
into subsections by streets crossing them; but irregular streets are
arbitrarily subdivided so that it is often very hard to find one’s
way through them. As many sections are full of tortuous streets with
turnings and alleys, the numbering of houses in a section is often
complicated, and one seldom knows where the numbers begin or end.
Frequently consecutive numbers are to be found in entirely different
directions and in hunting up a number, one has to traverse the length
and breadth of the section before one comes upon it.

The numbering of houses is further complicated by the fact that the
same number is given often to dozens, and sometimes to hundreds, of
houses. The explanation is that the numbering first took place while
the great daimyo’s mansions were still standing; and when they were
pulled down and cut up into smaller lots, these lots retained the same
numbers. There are in Tokyo at least two of these great estates which
have been divided into nearly a thousand house-lots. It is indeed hard
to see how these houses could be renumbered, because in that case
every division of an estate would necessitate the renumbering of the
whole street, which, in a city like Tokyo where the sizes of houses
are constantly changing, would be simply intolerable. Besides these
divisions of mansions, we must take into account the frequency of
fires. Changes take place not seldom after a fire in the number
of houses in a street, and it would of course be impracticable to
renumber the whole street whenever a portion of it is burnt down.
Sometimes an additional designation, usually a second set of numbers,
is given to a group of houses with the same street-number; but fancy
names, such as are common in the suburbs of London, are hardly ever
given to dwelling-houses. It may therefore be imagined that it is no
light task to look up a friend in an unfamiliar quarter.

The stranger, then, who visits the streets of Tokyo will find much to
arouse his curiosity in the open, windowless shops, the jinrikisha,
the native dresses of men and women, the throngs of hawkers, and the
ceaseless din of traffic; and at the same time, as he comes to Japan
usually in search of the quaint and _bizarre_, he will perhaps be
disappointed when he sees the countless overhead wires, the electric
trams, omnibuses, and bicycles, European clothes of all shades and
descriptions, and other encroachments of western civilisation, which
he had hoped to leave behind him and which somewhat shock his artistic
sense in their new surroundings. But these inæsthetic innovations
he must put up with, for they are typical of the present stage of
Japanese civilisation, and nowhere else are they more marked than in
Tokyo. The herculean task Japan has set herself leaves her little
leisure to consider its artistic effects; she is too much in earnest
to waste a thought on the awkward cut of the habiliments she is
donning; and only when she has so adapted herself as to fit them
exactly, will she turn her attention to their frills and trimmings.



  Name-plates—Block-buildings—Gates—The exposure of
  houses—Fires—House-breaking—Japanese houses in summer and
  winter—Storms and earthquakes—House-building—The carpenter—The

We have already said that the complicated way of numbering streets and
the inclusion of a large group of buildings in one number make it hard
to find any particular house. They necessitate a dreary going to and
fro through a series of thoroughfares, which is very trying to one’s
temper and would in most cases oblige one after a long search to give
it up altogether, were it not for the circumstance that not only
shops and private offices, but also nearly every private house, has
a name-plate nailed over the front door or on the gate-post. If,
therefore, we can, in the course of our wanderings through a street,
alight upon the right number, we can generally find the house,
provided there are not too many with the same number. The name-plate
has usually inscribed on it the number of the house and the name of
its occupant, and his title if he is a peer. Besides the name-plate,
there is on the gate-post the brass-badge of the insurance company if
the house has been insured, to enable the company’s private firemen to
identify the house and give necessary assistance in case of a fire
in the neighbourhood. The gate-post has also the telephone-number
placarded in large figures for the telephone-rate collector’s

Shops and most mercantile offices open directly upon the street; but
with respect to private houses there is no definite rule. Cheap houses
are built in long blocks; of these the worst description is to be
found in back courts; they are of one story, or if of two stories,
the second has a very low ceiling. They are usually in a dilapidated
condition and propped up on all sides; they are in fact our
slums. The smallest of these houses is only twelve feet by nine. A
block may be made up of a dozen such houses, six on either side with a
wall running through the middle from end to end. It is a peculiarity
of our tenement houses which have to be low on account of the
frequency of earthquakes that they are thus divided vertically
into narrow compartments and differ in this respect from the
many-storied houses in the West, which are divided horizontally and
occupied in flats. While the ground-rent is still comparatively low,
this habitation in transverse sections, so to speak, is feasible
for the poor; but even now, as the rent is steadily rising in all
quarters, the tendency is to drive these humble dwellers outside
the city limits. As it is, only in the poorer districts are these
miserable houses to be seen; for in the busier quarters the
ground-rent is already too high for them. But buildings in blocks are
not all of the poorest kind, though it must be admitted that dwelling
in a “long building,” as a block of this description is called,
implies on the face of it life on a humble scale. In the old times
well-to-do retainers, who had large houses of their own in the
country, lived when in Yedo in the “long buildings” surrounding their
lord’s mansion. Small shops are also built in blocks.

[Illustration: IN THE SLUMS.]

Though many private houses in the business quarters have no gates,
those of any pretensions in the residential districts where land is
naturally cheaper, are mostly provided with them. It is not usual for
professionals in humbler walks of life and for artisans to live within
a gate; but officials and others of some social standing prefer to
have one to their houses. Sometimes there is a single gate to a large
compound with a number of small houses in it; in such a case the
gate-post is studded with name-plates. Gates, too, vary in size and
form. The most modest are no more than low wicker-gates which can be
jumped over and offer no bar to intrusion. Others are of the same
make, but stand higher so that the interior can be seen only through
cracks. But the most common consist of two square posts with hinged
doors which meet in the middle and are kept shut by a cross-bar
passing through clamps on them. These gates may be of the cheapest
kind of wood, such as cryptomeria, or may be massive and of hard wood.
Another common kind has a roof over it with a single door which is
hinged on one post and fastened on to the other and provided with a
small sliding-door for daily use. The larger pair gates have also
small side-doors for use at night when they are themselves shut.

[Illustration: A HOUSE AND A GATE.]

After entering by the gate, we come to the porch; the distance
between them varies with the size and exposure of the house. It is not
true, as has been said by some writers on Japan, that in our houses
the parlour and the garden invariably occupy the rear while the
kitchen is in front. Their position depends upon the exposure of the
house. No people short of savages probably lead a more open-air
life than we do in our wooden houses. Our paper sliding-doors, which
are our only protection against wind and cold in winter, admit both
light and air; and we provide personally against the cold by wearing
wadded clothing and huddling over braziers, while in summer all the
sliding-doors are often removed to let the cool breeze blow through
the house. It becomes, then, an important matter in building or
selecting a house to see that its principal rooms are so arranged as
to get the warm rays of the sun in winter and the cool breezes in
summer. As both these are to be obtained from the south, the principal
rooms are made to expose their open side to that direction. In winter
the exposure of these rooms makes a vast difference in the consumption
of charcoal as the sun shining through the open side warms the rooms
more thoroughly than the braziers can do. Next to the south, the east
is the favourite direction, as the east wind coming over the Pacific
Ocean is milder than the north or west. The west wind, crossing as it
does the snowy ridges of Central Japan, is cold in winter while the
piercing rays of the westering sun make the rooms intolerably hot in
summer; and the north wind is cold in winter and in summer breezes
seldom come from that direction. In short, then, the principal rooms
face the south, if possible, or south-east, or sometimes the east. As
the garden is naturally in front of the principal rooms, its position
depends upon theirs, and it is made to lie, if possible, on the south
side of the house. If the gate is on the north side of the premises,
it is close to the house; but if it is on the south side, the garden
intervenes. It should, however, be stated that some people purposely
make their principal room face north; their reason is that if the
garden lay south of the house, the trees and plants in it would
display their north or rear side to those within, and they are
therefore willing to put up with the cold blasts from the north for
the pleasure of looking at the front and sunny side of their plants.

[Illustration: A ROOFED AND A PAIR GATE.]

Most houses in Japan are made of wood. In Tokyo only a little over
one-eighth of the houses are made of other materials, that is, of
brick, stone, or plaster, so that the capital may be said to be a city
of wooden houses. It is therefore, needless to add, often ravaged
by fire. In old Yedo fires were known as the “Flowers of Yedo,” being
as much among the great sights of the city as the cherry-blossoms on
the south-east bank of the River Sumida, the morning-glories of Iriya,
or the chrysanthemums of Dangozaka, for which Tokyo is still noted.
Under the feudal government occurred several fires which burnt
down tens of thousands of houses, and even under the new regime
disastrous fires are not unknown. On two occasions, in 1879 and
1881, over ten thousand houses were destroyed; but the last great
conflagration took place in 1892 when four thousand buildings were
devoured by the flames. Since then, though fires have been frequent
enough, their ravages have been more limited, thanks to a more
efficient system of fire-brigades and plentiful supply of water.
During the last few years the average number of houses annually
destroyed has been about seven hundred, which cover an area of seven
and a half acres; and as the total area of buildings in Tokyo is
three thousand seven hundred acres, the fires destroy every year one
five-hundredth part of the city. The actual loss of property is not so
great as might at first sight be supposed; for it is a notorious fact
that houses in Tokyo are not so carefully constructed as in Kyoto and
other cities, and the greater risks from fire incurred in the capital
discourage the building of costly houses unless they are to stand on
extensive grounds. Formerly it was calculated that the average life
of a house was about thirty years; but now the lesser frequency of
fires would give them a much longer lease. This is comforting to
house-owners; but it must be confessed that wooden houses more than
thirty years old are not pleasant to live in. The timber, unless
extremely well-seasoned, becomes warped and the pillars of the house
get out of the perpendicular, with the result that the sliding-doors
refuse to close flat upon them but leave a space at the top or bottom
through which the cold wind whistles at will in winter. This is the
case even with carefully-built houses, while in others the defects
are still more glaring. The jerry-builder’s hand is conspicuous in
most houses to let, and the rent is high compared with the cost of
construction. The landlords protest that they have to charge a high
rent as whole blocks may be swept away in one night through malice
or stupidity. And there is something to be said for their argument,
especially as fire insurance is still far from universal, for it
is strange when one comes to think of it that there are not more
destructive fires. It is so easy to burn down a wooden house. A rag
soaked with kerosene is enough to destroy any number of houses
and is the favourite means with incendiaries who hope to steal
household goods which are brought out in confusion into the street
whenever there is a fire in the neighbourhood. Besides, a slight act
of carelessness or neglect may lead to a terrible conflagration; a
candle left too near a paper sliding-door was the origin of the great
fire of 1892 already mentioned. Similarly, a kerosene lamp or a
brazier overturned, a pinch of lighted tobacco or an unextinguished
cigar-end, an over-heated stove or a piece of red-hot charcoal dropped
on the floor, these are among the commonest causes of fires; and even
the cheap Japanese matches, of which as the splints are not dipped in
paraffin, at least half a dozen are needed to light a cigarette in the
open air, are responsible for as many fires every year. Since such
slight accidents may at any time lead to great disasters, the
inhabitants, as they go to bed, are never sure, especially in crowded
quarters, of still having a roof over their heads next morning. They
may be aroused from their slumbers by the dreaded triple peal of the
alarm-bell and find the neighbouring street or next door wrapped in
flames, and just manage to run out of their houses with nothing but
the clothes on their backs. We are, however, so used to the fire-alarm
that if the peals are double to indicate that the fire is in the next
district, we only get out of bed to look at it from idle curiosity and
turn in again unless our house is leeward of the burning district or
we have to run to the assistance of a friend there; and if the bell
gives only single peals, which signify that at least one district
intervenes between the burning street and the fire-lookout, we turn in
our beds and perhaps picture to ourselves the lively time they must be
having in that street. A fire is, on account of its uncertainty and
suddenness, only less feared than an earthquake, and the general
feeling among the citizens is that of insecurity.

There is, however, still another element of insecurity in wooden
houses. House-breaking is by no means difficult in Tokyo. In the
daytime the front entrance is generally closed with sliding-doors
which can, however, be gently opened and entered without attracting
notice unless some one happens to be in an adjoining room. The
kitchen door is usually kept open, and it is quite easy to sneak
into the kitchen and make away with food or utensils. Tradesmen,
rag-merchants, and hawkers come into the kitchen to ask for orders, to
buy waste-paper or broken crockery, or to sell their wares, so that
there is nothing unusual in finding strange men on the premises.
Sometimes these hawkers are really burglars in disguise come to
reconnoitre the house with a view to paying it a nocturnal visit.
At night, of course, the house is shut and the doors are bolted or
fastened with a ring and staple, but very seldom locked or chained.
As the doors are nothing more than wooden frames with horizontal
cross-bars, on which boards less than a quarter of an inch thick are
nailed, it would not be difficult to cut a hole with a chisel large
enough for the hand to reach the bolt or the staple or to clear the
whole space between the cross-bars for the body to pass through. But
quieter methods are generally preferred. Single burglars usually come
in by the skylight, closed at night by a small sliding-door, which
does duty as chimney in the kitchen, or crawl under the floor which
is some two feet from the ground, by tearing away the boarding under
the verandah and come up by carefully removing the loose plank of the
floor, under which fuel is kept in the kitchen. If the burglars are in
a gang, they naturally come in more boldly than these kitchen sneaks.
Once inside, the thief has the run of the house as all the rooms
communicate by sliding-doors and are never locked, and the whole
household is at his mercy. Since, then, houses are so easy of entry,
it might be supposed that burglaries are very frequent in Tokyo; that
such is not the case is probably due to the somewhat primitive methods
pursued by these gentry and to the effective detective system of the
police authorities. The strict police registration of every inhabitant
and the easy access of all the rooms in a house make concealment very
difficult, and the criminal is readily shadowed as he wanders from
place to place throughout the Empire.

[Illustration: DOOR-FASTENINGS.]

To this general insecurity from fire and burglary all wooden houses
are subject; but if we take into consideration the actual number of
homes which fall victims to them, we are compelled to conclude that
though the feeling of insecurity may always be present, the chances of
its being realised are somewhat remote, so that it is not so bad as it
looks in these respects to live in the wooden houses of Tokyo. Fires
are most frequent in winter from braziers being then in use and
kerosene lamps being in requisition for longer hours every evening,
and burglaries, too, increase in the same season from the sufferings
of the poor being intensified. But in the summer heat the Japanese
house is extremely pleasant. The whole house is open and lets the cool
breeze blow from end to end; bamboo screens are hung in front of the
verandah where it is exposed to the burning rays of the sun. On the
second story we sit in thin cotton garments and feel the breeze all
over the body, and look down upon the landscape garden before us
or beyond at the peerless Mount Fuji on the south-west or at Mount
Tsukuba on the northern edge of the Musashino plain. It is especially
enjoyable when fresh from a hot bath, we squat or loll on the mats,
fan in hand, and engage in desultory talk or in a quiet game until the
sun sinks and wine and fish are brought before us. The Japanese house
is an ideal summer villa when we can rest ourselves from the heat and
dust of the busy city. But in the city itself it is far otherwise. The
dust blows in with every gust, and the house, to be properly kept,
must be swept several times a day. The narrowness of the streets and
lowness of the ceilings give the shops in crowded quarters
insufficient light, though more than enough of dusty air. But in
winter we feel the inadequacy of wooden houses; it is next to
impossible to keep out the cold effectually; a room never gets
thoroughly warmed. The wind blows in through the crevices of the
sliding-doors, for the edges on which these doors meet are flat and
never dovetailed. The paper of the doors is porous, and through its
pores the air gets in; there is certainly this to be said for it that
in a Japanese room one need never fear asphyxiation, however much
charcoal may be burning in the braziers. These braziers are for
warming the hands and the face if one crouches over them; but for the
body, we get the warmth from the abundance of wadded clothing. We can
therefore keep fairly warm if we merely sit on the mats; but directly
we move or stand up, the cold attacks us. Most Japanese are, however,
used from childhood to these cold rooms and do not feel the chill.
Many of them think nothing of sitting for hours in a cold draught.

A Japanese wooden house looks pretty when new; but after some years
when the outside is weather-beaten, the pillars begin to warp and the
walls to crumble, its charms, too, are on the wane. A well-built house
may be comfortable for twenty or at most thirty years, after which it
is uninhabitable without considerable repairs. The few private houses
which still remain that were built before the Restoration are at best
rain-proof, and afford little protection against wind. There are
certainly public buildings, such as shrines and temples, which have
survived many centuries and are not unfrequently picturesque as they
peer through their groves; but a close inspection would soon reveal
the repairs they have undergone, pillars repainted, roofs retiled,
gable-ends regilt, and the interior generally renovated. There is
wanting in Japanese dwelling-houses that poetical charm which age
lends to brick and stone buildings in the West with their dark-stained
casements and ivy-mantled walls; and time which mellows and imparts a
deeper hue to stone dry-rots wood and saps it of its strength, and
long before storms make any impression upon brick, the frame-house
falls to the ground. But in Japan it is not merely wind and rain
that houses have to contend against; the earthquake is the foe that
makes them to totter. Every earthquake, by shaking them up, tends to
loosen the joints and disturb the equilibrium of the building; and as
a good many such shocks, about a hundred and fifty, occur in the
course of a year, their combined effect is by no means negligible.
Houses have therefore to be built with the possible effects of
earthquakes in view.

The most obvious of the provisions against earthquake effects is the
small height of the houses. Most dwelling-houses in Tokyo have only
one or two stories; there are far more of the former than of the
latter; and even of the latter kind, the upper story is usually much
smaller than the lower. The floor stands about two feet from the
ground; the ceiling is eight or nine feet in height on the lower floor
and often less than eight feet on the upper. The outer walls sometimes
rest on a low stone course; but the verandah is supported by short
wooden pillars resting on stone slabs. The house, in fact, merely
stands on a few stone slabs and courses and can, as is indeed
sometimes done, be lifted bodily and removed to another site. Over the
verandah, if there is a story above, a small roof projects to prevent
the rain from blowing into, the rooms behind it. The housetop is never
flat, but has a great rough-hewn beam for roof-tree with rafters on
either side, which are covered with lath. Semicircular tiles are
laid over the roof-tree with a thick substratum of mortar, while the
slanting sides are covered with pantiles. The gutter is sometimes made
of copper, but more commonly of bamboo or tinplate. The roof is built
before the walls or the floor. First, the ground is levelled and the
stone foundation made for the pillars. Meanwhile the pillars, joists,
beams, and ties have been made, and are now set up and fitted. As soon
as the frame is built, the roof is put on and covered for the while
with matting so as to enable the workmen to work inside irrespectively
of the weather. The verandahs, floors, ceilings, and grooves for
sliding-doors are made. The carpenter’s work is then done; and the
tiler is called in for the roof-tiles, the plasterer for the walls,
and the joiner for the sliding-doors. The tiles are of a uniform size
and generally of the same shape. The walls are made with a lathing
or frame of slender bamboo, which is covered with clay and over it one
or more coatings of plaster. In some buildings the coatings of the
outer walls are replaced by clapboards, which are painted black if the
wood is of an inferior quality or too weather-beaten. The paper-hanger
is called in to paper the sliding-doors and the mat-maker comes to
cover the floor with mats. The house is then complete.

[Illustration: A HOUSE WITHOUT A GATE.]

In Japan there was neither an architect nor a builder as a distinct
calling. Even now, ordinary dwelling-houses are not built by either of
them; it is the carpenter who has charge of their construction. The
carpenter’s is a dignified craft; he is called in Japanese the “great
artificer,” and stands at the head of all artisans. In the building of
a house, a master carpenter is called in; he prepares the plans,
and if they are approved, he sets to work with his apprentices and
journeymen. The other artisans, the tiler, the plasterer, and the
joiner, work under him. He is not as a rule an educated man and knows
his trade from having worked at it from apprenticeship; and for his
diligence or intelligence he has been set up by his master, or it may
be that he has found a wealthy patron, or more probably, he comes of
a carpenter’s family and has succeeded his father. Making use only
of the knowledge acquired during his term of apprenticeship or
service as journeyman, the master carpenter has little occasion to
display his inventiveness or originality, for he need only follow the
time-honoured conventions which hold sway in his craft as in all other
arts and crafts of the country. Hence, monotony is a distinctive mark
of Japanese domestic architecture; there is a sameness of style in all
our dwelling-houses. The chief and perhaps the only point upon which
the carpenter has to bring his ingenuity to bear is the arrangement of
the rooms. If he has a large site to build on, he will spread out the
building so as to secure as much southerly or south-easterly exposure
as possible without counteracting inconveniences; but if the site is
confined, he has to change his plans accordingly. Much depends upon
the lie of the land. His object is to have no rooms that are useless
or inconvenient. This is not such an easy task as may appear at first
sight in a house in which, with one or two exceptions, the rooms
may be turned into any use; for the very indefiniteness of their
disposal makes the problem more difficult to solve than in the case of
a house in which a definite use is assigned to each room at the time
of erection.

[Illustration: A GARDEN.]

Convention also makes itself felt in the laying out of a Japanese
garden, though a greater latitude is allowed to the gardener’s
ingenuity. Still the principles remain unchanged. In a large garden
we usually find a pond, dry if no water is available, and surrounded
with rocks of various shapes, and a knoll or two behind the pond with
pines, maples, and other trees, and stone lanterns here and there. A
few flowering shrubs are in sight, but these are planted for a
season; thus, peonies, morning-glories, and chrysanthemums are removed
as soon as they fade, while corchoruses and hydrangeas are cut down
leaving only the roots behind. The chief features of the garden are
the evergreens like the pine, trees whose leaves crimson in autumn
like the maple, and above all, the flowering trees like the plum, the
cherry, and the peach. A landscape garden presents, when the trees are
not in blossom, a somewhat severe or solemn aspect; we do not expect
from it the gaiety which beds of flowers impart. Indeed, many European
flowering plants have of late been introduced, such as anemones,
cosmoses, geraniums, nasturtiums, tulips, crocuses, and begonias; but
they still look out of place in a Japanese garden. Roses are sometimes
planted, but they are almost scentless. The humidity of the climate
appears to militate against the perfume of flowers.



  The sizes of rooms—The absence of
  furniture—Sliding-doors—Verandahs—Tenement and other small
  houses—Middle-sized dwellings—The porch and anteroom—The
  parlour—Parlour furniture—The sitting-room—Closets and
  cupboards—Bed-rooms—The dining-room—Chests of drawers and
  trunks—The toilet-room—The library—The bath-room—Foot-warmers.

A Japanese room is measured, not by feet and inches, but by the number
of mats it contains. A mat consists of a straw mattress, about an inch
and a half thick, with a covering of fine matting which is sewn on at
the edges of the mattress either by itself or with a border, usually
dark-blue and an inch wide, of coarse hempen cloth. It is six feet
long by three wide; this measure is not always exact, but may vary by
an inch or more in either direction. When a house is newly built, the
mat-maker comes to make mats to fit the rooms in it. But in spite of
the variation, the size of a room is always given in the number of
mats it holds, so that we never know the exact dimensions of a room.
The smallest room has two mats, that is, is about six feet square; the
next smallest is three-matted, or three yards by two. Four-matted
rooms are sometimes to be found; but such rooms are unshapely, being
four yards long by two wide. A room with four and a half mats is three
yards square and has the half mat, which is a yard square, in the
centre. The next size is six-matted, or four yards by three and is
followed by the eight-matted, or four yards square. The ten-matted
room is five yards by four and the twelve-matted is six yards by four.
It is only in large houses that there are rooms with fifteen or more
mats. In some restaurants and story-tellers’ halls we come upon rooms
with a hundred mats. Some rooms have five or seven mats; but they are
really of six or eight mats with the space of one mat occupied by a
closet or an alcove. It will thus be seen that in most rooms the
length is either equal to the breadth or at most only half as much
again. This tends to make the proportion between the two somewhat


The commonest rooms are those with four and a half, six, or eight
mats, that is to say, rooms which are three or four yards square or
four yards by three. Such rooms would be very small in a house built
in European style; there would hardly be elbow-room and one could not
move an inch without knocking down some piece of furniture. But in a
Japanese room there is but little furniture, and certainly none that
one could bring down by knocking against it with the exception,
perhaps, of the screen. Our rooms look very bare to foreigners and
appear to lack comfort to those who have lived in European apartments;
but from the Japanese’s point of view, rooms furnished in the
approved European style suffer from excess of furniture and partake
too much of the nature of a curiosity shop or a museum. This may be
going too far; but there is undoubtedly something repugnant to the
Japanese canons of taste to find all the art treasures of the house
exhibited from day to day on the walls or in the corners of the rooms
to which guests have access. The absence of movable furniture in a
Japanese room, by allowing more free space, makes it look larger than
a European room of the same size. We squat on the mats, and our line
of vision, being consequently much lower than if we sat in a chair,
gives the room a further appearance of greater size. The illusion is
kept up by the lowness of the ceiling, which though seldom more than
eight or nine feet high, seems to be loftier as we squat under it.

The size of a mat being, as already stated, roughly six feet by three,
the yard has naturally become the unit by which other parts of a room
or a house are measured. Thus, the sliding-doors are usually a yard
wide. As these doors are always in pairs and move in two grooves each
at top and bottom, there are a pair in grooves six feet long and two
pairs in those of twelve feet; but in grooves nine feet in length
there are either a pair or two, commonly the latter, in which case
the sliding-doors are each three-quarters of a yard wide. The
sliding-doors are of two kinds: the _shoji_, or paper sliding-doors,
which are partitions admitting light, and the _fusuma_ (also
called _karakami_), or screen sliding-doors, which merely serve as
partitions. The _shoji_ consists of a wooden frame, an inch or more in
thickness, with thinner cross and vertical pieces forming lattices
about nine inches wide by five high. It is covered on the outside with
thin rice-paper, which admits light but is not transparent. It is of
use when there is light on one side as at the verandah or window or
where a room or a passage would be too dark if _fusuma_ were put up.
The _fusuma_ consists of a wooden frame with a few pieces within,
which is pasted over on both sides with thick paper and covered with
ornamental paper. It is quite opaque. The frame and lattices of the
_shoji_ are of plain white wood; but the frame of the _fusuma_ is
often varnished, though it may also be left plain. The _fusuma_
has a small hollow handle, a few feet from the floor, which is
sometimes highly ornamented.

The verandah is also usually three feet wide. It consists generally
of long narrow planks ranged parallel to the grooves of the
sliding-doors, though it is sometimes made up of wider pieces set at
right angles to them. In the former case the planks, as they age,
shrink and leave cracks between, which admit light when the outer
doors or shutters are closed in the daytime. Bamboos are sometimes
laid between the pieces to cover the shrinkage. The shutters run in
grooves on the outer edge of the verandah. They are also three feet
wide and kept in a receptacle at the end of the groove. The last one
only is usually bolted. There are similar shutters at all the windows,
which are also provided with paper sliding-doors and lattices or bars
as precautions against house-breaking. When a verandah runs along more
than one room, there are pillars on its outer edge just inside the
groove of the shutters and opposite the pillars dividing the rooms.
All sets of sliding-doors need a pillar to close against at either end.

The smallest houses are those in the slums which have only three
yards’ frontage and a depth of four yards. The entrance, the space for
kitchen utensils and the sink, and perhaps a closet or cupboard would
leave room for little more than three mats, on which the whole family
live; but as children spend all their playtime outside and come in
only for meals, it is at night that the house is crowded, and even
then as they sleep higgledy-piggledy, a couple or so of children
do not inconvenience their parents to any appreciable extent. A
two-roomed house is common enough and is not confined to the slums.
A childless old couple, when the wife has to do the household work,
find such a house large enough for them. Artisans also live in them.
Three-roomed houses, too, are very common. Houses built in blocks
are oftenest of this size. They are made up of the porch, the
sitting-room, and the parlour or drawing-room. These three rooms are
the essential portions of a house; and larger houses merely add to
them. A visitor calls at the porch, the paper sliding-door is opened,
he is invited to come in, he leaves his hat and greatcoat in the
porch, and enters the parlour. The master, or in his absence his
wife, entertains him there, while the rest of the family remain in the
sitting-room. In cold weather the sliding-doors between the two rooms
are closed; but in summer they are kept open, or frequently doors with
reed screens within the frames are used. These admit the breeze and
let the people in the other room be seen; but the fiction of their
invisibility is kept up and those in the inner room are not obliged to
greet the visitor.

In a four-roomed house the fourth room may be the servant’s room, if
one is kept, a toilet-room, or a reserve room without any definite
purpose. A five-roomed house may be taken as the smallest in which a
man of the middle class would live. One living in a smaller house may
be reckoned among that class; but five rooms are perhaps the fewest in
which one can live with comfort if there are not too many children or
dependants. A servant would be kept and a room assigned to her, though
it would not be exclusively her own as much household work would be
done there. The fifth room would be the anteroom or a private room
where the family effects, especially the wardrobe, would be kept.
Houses with more rooms are pretty numerous; but probably ten rooms may
be put as the limit for the middle class proper, if they do not indeed
exceed its means. The average size for that class may be given as
seven or eight rooms. In such a house there would be, in addition to
the three rooms first mentioned, the anteroom, the servant’s room,
the room for the wardrobe, and one between the sitting-room and the
kitchen or back-entrance where inferior callers, such as tradesmen,
artisans, servants’ relatives, or former dependants would be received.
The eighth room, if there is one, may be reserved for the father or
mother of the master or his wife, who may be staying with them, the
master’s private room, the children’s study, or the student’s room. As
the rooms, with the exception of the porch, parlour, and perhaps the
servant’s room, are not built with a definite object in view, they can
be used in any way. This is in a sense convenient; but it has also
this disadvantage that the very indefiniteness of their object often
makes them inconvenient for any purpose, for in many houses there are
rooms which cannot be utilised, sometimes owing to their exposure
which makes them too cold or too hot for comfort or too dark to work
in, and sometimes by reason of their position which renders them good
only for passages from one room to another.


Although, as has already been stated, there is no hard and fast
rule for the disposition of the rooms, the commonest is perhaps the
following:—At the front entrance there is the porch; the ground in
front of it may be open with only a roof projecting over it, or it may
be enclosed by latticed doors. In the open porch there is a stone step
where the footgear are taken off before entering, while in the closed
one there is a wooden ledge for stepping from the ground on to the
mats. The porch itself, which would correspond to the hall in a
European-built house, is of two or three mats; here the visitor leaves
his hat, greatcoat, and other articles which he would not take into
the parlour. On one side of the porch may be the student’s room if
there is one at all and on the opposite side the porch opens upon the
anteroom. The size of this room depends upon that of the parlour;
sometimes it is of the same size, but more frequently smaller by two
or more mats. Thus, if the parlour is of ten mats, the anteroom has
eight; and if the former has eight mats as is oftenest the case, there
are six in the other. The anteroom opens upon the same verandah as the
parlour; and the two rooms are separated only by sliding-doors, so
that these doors may, when necessary, be removed and the two rooms
run into one. Such a room, which would have from fourteen to eighteen
mats, would be large enough for most purposes. The anteroom thus opens
upon the porch on one side, upon the verandah on another, and upon
the parlour on the third, and on the fourth it usually communicates
directly or indirectly with the servant’s room. In large houses,
however, there is a separate passage from the kitchen to the porch.
Thus, the room is open on all sides though there may sometimes be a
bit of a wall by the doors from the porch and the kitchen. The room
has little furniture, except, perhaps, one or two framed pictures or
writings over the lintels of the doors; and in rare cases there is an
alcove by the wall. Cushions for callers are usually kept in a
corner of the anteroom.


The parlour, the principal room of the house, is always kept tidy. It
has an alcove, six feet long by three deep, consisting of a dais, a
few inches high, of plain hard wood, which will bear polishing, though
a thin matting is sometimes put over it. Not unfrequently, another
piece of wood, generally square, forms the outer edge so that the
thickness of the floor of the alcove can be concealed. The dais has a
special ceiling of its own, or a bit of a wall, of plaster or wood,
coming down over it a foot or more from the ceiling. On the dais is
set a vase of porcelain or metal, bottle-shaped or flat, in which
branches of a tree or shrubs in flower are put in, and on the wall
is hung a _kakemono_, or scroll of picture or writing. These two
constitute the main ornament of the room. New flowers are put in every
few days and the _kakemono_ is changed from time to time. This is the
peculiarity of the _kakemono_ as a piece of house decoration. We do
not exhibit all our treasures in _kakemono_ at the same time, but
hang them one, two, or three at a time according to the size of the
alcove and the _kakemono_ themselves, so that the visitor calling
at different seasons may delight his eyes with the sight of fresh
pictures or writings each time he calls. The inmates, too, do not grow
weary with gazing at the same pictures day after day, but enjoy the
variety the seasons offer. To the Japanese it is a more artistic and
pleasurable method of displaying his treasures than keeping them all,
as it were, on permanent exhibition. The flowers, too, in the vases
are arranged in an artistic style; their arrangement is an art which
boasts many schools and professors and is considered an indispensable
branch of a girl’s education. They are not thrown haphazard in a
bundle into a vase and expected to give pleasure merely by the
profusion of colours and forms, It may be a single stem or half a
dozen with the flowers ranged in relation to one another after fixed
canons of the art.

There are in the parlour as in the anteroom pictures or writings in
frames over the lintels of the sliding-doors. On a line with the
alcove and usually of the same length is another recess, with a
small closet at the top or bottom where the _kakemono_ and their cases
are generally kept. In this recess there are, also, a pair of shelves
at different heights and coming out from opposite walls, the free
ends of which overlap each other a few inches. On these shelves some
ornaments, usually curios, are placed. When unoccupied, the room is
kept clear of any other object. When a visitor calls, even the cushion
is brought from the anteroom for him to sit on, and then a small cup
of tea set before him and a brazier if it is cold and if warm, a
_tabako-bon_. The cushion is round or square; that for summer is made
of matting, hide, or a thin wadding of cotton in a cover of hempen
cloth, while for winter use the wadding is much thicker and the cover
is silk or cotton. It is about sixteen inches at the side if square.
The brazier is of various shapes and makes. It may be a wooden box
with an earthenware case inside or with a false bottom of copper, or
it may be a glazed earthenware case alone; the wooden box may be plain
with two holes for handles, or it may be elaborately latticed;
and sometimes a brazier is made of the trunk of a tree cut with
the outside rough-hewn or only barked and highly polished. The
_tabako-bon_, or “tobacco-tray,” is a small open square or oblong box
of sandal-wood or other hard wood, which holds a small china or metal
pan, three-quarters full of ashes, with a few tiny pieces of live
charcoal in the middle to light a pipe with, and beside it a small
bamboo tube with a knot at the bottom for receiving tobacco-ashes.

[Illustration: A VISITOR.]

The sitting-room has little furniture. An indispensable article in it
is the brazier, usually oblong, with a set of three small drawers one
under another at the side and two others side by side under the
copper tray filled with ashes, on which charcoal is burnt inside an
iron or clay trivet. On this trivet is set a kettle of iron or copper.
The iron kettle is made of thick cast-iron and kept on the trivet
so as always to have hot water ready for tea-making: and the copper
kettle is used when we wish to boil water quickly. Beside the brazier
is a small shelf or cabinet for tea-things. Behind the brazier is a
cushion where the wife sits; this is her usual post. There is also a
cushion on the other side or the brazier, where the husband or other
members of the house may sit.

[Illustration: A SITTING-ROOM.]

As for the other rooms of the house, there is no fixed article of
furniture as much depends upon the uses to which they are put. The
general absence of furniture in the rooms, however, does not imply
that we are absolutely without necessary articles of daily use. The
principle on which we proceed is to keep in a room only such articles
as are in constant use, the rest being put away as soon as they are
done with and brought out again when they are needed. Hence, one
of the most striking features of a Japanese house is the number of
closets and cupboards in it. Indeed, next to the arrangement of the
rooms, the most important consideration in selecting a house is the
number of closets it contains. These closets are three feet deep and a
yard or two in width. Considering the quantity of household goods that
are put away in these closets, there is no inconvenience we feel so
much as their scarcity.

There are no rooms specially set apart for sleeping. This absence of
bed-rooms enables us to put up with fewer rooms than would be required
in a European house for a family of the same size. There are no
bedsteads. A bed consists of one or two mattresses, and one or two
quilts according to the season, and a pillow. These beds are spread in
any room that is handy and put away in the closets in the morning. The
parents and the children, especially if young, sleep in the same room;
and unless there is an out-of-the-way chamber where they can sleep in
peace, their beds are made in the parlour. For if the beds are made in
that room, the others can be swept and made ready for use while the
family are still in bed. In the sitting-room breakfast can be got
ready, while the anteroom can be used at once if a visitor calls, as
he sometimes does very early in the morning or very late at night
when the children have been put to bed. In a two-storied house an
upstair room is often used as a reserve parlour, so that the anteroom
need not be got ready for receiving callers at unseasonable hours. If
the family is a large one, the rest shake down where they are least in
the way. The rooms to sleep in every night are of course assigned to
permanent members of the household; but country-cousins on a prolonged
visit can be put to bed anywhere without much inconvenience. For the
belated guest the bed is spread in the parlour and its usual occupants
are driven into other rooms.

There is no special dining-room. The family take their meals in the
sitting-room. If there is a visitor, a dinner-tray is set before him
as well as before the host in the parlour; thus, there is no need
to have a room set apart for dining. A Japanese at home, then, may
remain all day in one room; he can sleep, take his meals, receive his
friends, or study without once standing up, for the room changes its
character with the articles that are brought into it.


Articles of clothing are put into chests of drawers or wicker-trunks.
Chests of drawers are commonly made in halves with two drawers each,
put one upon the other and fastened by iron clamps. This is to
facilitate their removal, a provision which is of importance where
fires are frequent. The wicker-trunk has a lid which is as deep as the
trunk itself and encloses it, and thus any amount of clothing may be
put into it up to the joint depth of the two. The trunks are hidden
away in the closets; but the chests of drawers, if they cannot be put
into a closet without inconvenience as they are over three feet wide,
are set in a corner or against a wall. Indeed, they are purposely put
sometimes where they can be seen and become part of the furniture of
the room. In large houses where there are godowns, or fireproof
plaster storehouses, the chests are put in them, and only such as
contain articles of daily wear for the season are kept in the house

If the house is large enough, a special room is set apart for toilet;
but even then, as the toilet-case and its appurtenances can be readily
moved to any other room, the toilet-room is more useful for keeping
the necessary articles than for the toilet itself. And from the way in
which Japanese dresses are worn, that is, as nothing is put on over
the head like a jersey or the feet foremost like the European nether
garments, a Japanese woman can change her clothes without exposing her
body, and it is possible for her to dress or undress in any part of
the house. When she is going out with her children, she often manages
to turn the house inside out by calling upon its inmates to help her
and the children to dress. Tables or desks are set for children in a
spare room or in a corner of one that is occupied; but there is no
nursery, and the children pervade the whole house. They play wherever
they please, and peace prevails only when they are out or asleep.

Nor is there a special room for books, for the library does not find
a place as an important feature in a Japanese house. We Japanese are
not a nation of readers. A man of ordinary education has studied the
Chinese classics and read the legendary histories and quasi-romances
of his country recounting the exploits of the favourite national
heroes; he also reads the papers and some of the current
literature; but his knowledge of books cannot be said to be wide or
sympathetic. What books he has, if they are in the usual Japanese
style of binding, are piled up in small wooden cases with lids in
front. If he has a godown, he keeps the more valuable of his books in
it and only brings out such as he may require at the moment; but there
are not many, besides those with whom literature is a hereditary
calling, with so many books as to need storing in godowns. Far more
Japanese take to the composition of Chinese poems or Japanese odes as
a refined pastime, while a still larger number lose their heads over
games of _go_ and chess. For these they use their private rooms more
frequently than for reading and study.

Public baths are, on account of their great convenience, largely
patronised in Tokyo; but in many private houses bath-rooms are also
built. A bath-room of the ordinary size is three yards by two. The
bath of the commonest kind is made of wooden staves bound together
with metal hoops. It is oval in shape and inside the bath near the
edge a thin iron cylinder with a grating at its lower end passes
through its bottom. Into this cylinder live charcoal is put in to heat
the water of the bath; and a small plank partitions the cylinder to
protect the bather from being burnt by contact with it. Oblong baths
are now made with thick wooden sides and a furnace at one end which is
fed with coke or faggot. The ground of the bath-room is paved with
stone or beaten down with concrete; and on it stands a movable
flooring, a foot or more high, of narrow planks with open spaces
between to allow the water to run down. The bath holds one person or
at most two spare persons, and the water in it is deep enough to cover
the crouching body. The bather always washes himself on the flooring
and gets into the bath only to warm himself.

[Illustration: FOOT-WARMERS.]

Sometimes a small square hearth is cut in the sitting-room or some
other convenient room; and in cold season a wooden frame supported by
four pillars is put over the hearth and covered with a large quilt.
Live charcoal is put into the hearth and the family sit around it with
their knees under the quilt or lie down with their feet stretched out
to the hearth. At other seasons the wooden frame is removed and a
small mat of the same size as the hearth is put over it. As the hearth
cannot be moved about, most people prefer a portable foot-warmer,
which is usually a square wooden box with openings at the top and
sides; one of the sides slides open and through it an earthen pan of
live charcoal is placed inside. A quilt is laid over it as in the
case of the hearth. Another, made specially for putting in bed, is of
earthenware with a rounded top, which takes some time to heat. As the
ordinary cut charcoal is consumed too quickly, balls of charcoal dust
are used in these foot-warmers.



  Rice—_Sake_—Wheat and barley—Soy
  sauce—_Mirin_—Rice-cooking—Soap—Pickled vegetables—Meal
  trays—Chopsticks—Breakfast—Clearing and washing—The kitchen—The
  little hearth—Pots and pans—Other utensils—Boxes and
  casks—Shelves—The sink and water-supply—The midday meal—The evening

Rice is the staple food of the Japanese; and no other food-stuff
stands so high in popular esteem, or has a tutelary deity of its
own. This rice-god has more shrines than any other deity, for he is
worshipped everywhere, in town and village, and often a small shrine,
no bigger than a hut, peeps amid a lonely cluster of trees surrounded
on all sides by rice-paddies, its latticed door covered from top to
bottom with the _ex-votos_ of the simple peasant folk. Under the
feudal government the incomes of the territorial lords and their
retainers were assessed, not in money, but in the quantity of rice
that was annually brought into their granaries; and rice naturally
became the standard for the valuation of all other commodities.
The rice so garnered was subsequently converted into currency by
exchange-brokers. Under the new regime, however, rice no longer holds
the same pre-eminent position, but it still rules to a great extent
the market for other goods. The fluctuations of its prices on the rice
exchanges are eagerly watched by the whole nation; and references to
the weather, especially in summer, invariably end in speculations as
to its effect on the rice-crop, and the people put up unmurmuringly
with the heavy solstitial rains because most rice-fields are paddies
to which a plentiful supply of water is essential. Japan, in fact, is
still an agricultural country, and the progress she has of late made
in her manufacturing industry is not yet great enough to shake off the
domination of agriculture, for no industrial problem agitates the
nation so much as the annual question whether the country can
produce its normal harvest of rice, which amounts to about two hundred
and twenty million bushels.

[Illustration: A SHRINE OF THE RICE-GOD.]

Rice, however, certainly deserves the solicitude the whole nation
feels for it; for it is not only the principal food-stuff, but it
is also the grain from which the national drink is made. _Sake_ is
produced by the fermentation of rice, and contains about fourteen
per cent of alcohol. Though foreign wines are now imported into the
country and beer is also brewed in large quantities, _sake_ is still
the principal alcoholic beverage in Japan; almost all other drinks
which were in use in the old times were either varieties of _sake_ or
contained it as their chief ingredient.

Among other cereals that are largely used are barley and wheat. The
former is now much in request for brewing beer; and as it is more
digestible than rice, a mixture of the two is eaten by many
families in Tokyo. Wheat is mostly used as flour; it enters into many
dishes as well as cakes. It is a popular favourite when it is made
into macaroni, though in this respect it is eclipsed by buckwheat.

But in point of utility the soy bean comes next to rice, for our soy
sauce which enters into almost all dishes is made from the bean,
wheat, and salt. So extensively is this sauce employed that table
salt is comparatively little needed. The bean is also the principal
ingredient in _miso_, which is a mixture of the soy bean, steamed
and pounded, with rice-yeast and salt. This _miso_ is largely used
in making soup; and soups into which it does not enter are usually
flavoured by boiling shavings of sun-dried bonito and straining them

_Mirin_ is a sweet variety of spirit, made by straining a mixture of
_sake_, steamed rice, and a spirit distilled from _sake_ lees. It
is largely used in boiling fish and other food. Vinegar is made in
various ways from rice, barley, potato, or _sake_ lees.

The cooking of rice is a delicate process. It is first well washed
overnight by rinsing it again and again until the water is quite
clear, and emptied into a basket to strain. In the morning it is put
into a deep iron pot which rests on a round earthen hearth or range
by a flange around it; then, water is poured in, the actual amount
requiring nice adjustment so as not to make the rice too soft or too
hard, and next a thick wooden lid is put on. A few faggots are lit
under the pot; but as soon as the rice begins to spurt, the fire is
withdrawn, and the pot is allowed to cool slowly and equably; it is
next lifted off the hearth and set on a straw-stand. When the rice
has stood long enough to be of the same temperature and consistency
throughout, the lid is removed and the rice transferred into a
cylindrical wooden tub. Well-boiled rice is soft, but its grains have
a lustre and are distinct from one another so that any single grain
can be picked up with chopsticks. Excessive heat would have burnt the
parts nearest the sides of the pot, while sudden heat would have
produced rice of unequal consistency.

After the rice-pot is removed, another pot is put over the hearth for
making _miso_-soup; if the kitchen range is double-hearthed,
the remainder of the faggots lit for the rice is transferred to
the neighbouring hearth over which the soup-pot is hung before the
rice-pot is removed from the other. _Miso_-soup contains strips of
garden radish, edible seaweed (_alopteryx pinnatifida_), bean-curd,
egg-plant, or other vegetables according to the season. These two, the
rice and the soup, are all the cookery required in the morning. There
must of course be hot water for tea.

An invariable accompaniment at Japanese meals is the pickled
vegetables. The commonest of these is the garden radish which has been
pickled in a paste of powdered rice-bran and salt until it assumes a
rich golden hue. Greens are also treated in the same way until their
colour is dulled. But garden radishes, greens, small turnips, and
egg-plants are also sprinkled over with salt and pressed for a few
days. A few slices of these vegetables, after being thoroughly washed
to get rid of the bran or salt, are always served at a meal. Most
foreigners consider their smell nauseous; but to a Japanese a meal,
however rich or dainty, would appear incomplete without these
vegetables, pickled or salted. _Kōkō_ or _kōnomono_, which is the
common name for them, means “fragrant article,” and it is believed
by many foreigners that the name was given them on the _lucus a non
lucendo_ principle; but the Japanese has no such aversion to their
smell. The repugnance of strangers to these pickles is similar to the
attitude of most Japanese towards cheese, the taste for which would
require as much cultivation as that for _kōkō_ on the part of one to
whom both articles are foreign.

The breakfast is, then, very simple. Sometimes the family take their
meals together at a large low table which is set before them at each
repast; but often a small tray, about a foot square and standing six
inches or more high, is placed before each member. In the left corner
of the tray near the person before whom it is set, is a small china
bowl of rice, while on the right is a wooden bowl of _miso_-soup, A
tiny plate of pickled vegetables occupies the middle or the farther
left corner, while any extra plate would fill the remaining corner.
This plate also holds something very simple, such as plums preserved
in red perilla leaves, boiled kidney bean, pickled scallions, minute
fish or shrimps boiled down dry in soy sauce, a pat of baked
_miso_, or shavings of dried bonito boiled in a mixture of soy and

[Illustration: A MEAL-TRAY.]

The chopsticks are laid between the rim of the tray and the bowls of
rice and soup. They vary in length, those for women being shorter than
those for men but longer than children’s; their length may, however,
be put at between eight and ten inches. Some are square in section,
while others are round; but most of them taper towards the tip which
is either rounded or pointed. The commonest kind is of cryptomeria
wood, others are of lacquered wood or of bone, and the best are of
ivory. Many of them are also tipped with German silver. Chopsticks may
appear at first hard to manage; but their manipulation is not really
difficult when one comes to see the way in which they should be
handled. They are held near the upper or thicker end in the right
hand. One chopstick is laid between the thumb and the forefinger and
on the first joint of the ring finger which is slightly bent, and
held in position by the basal phalanx of the thumb; this chopstick is
almost stationary. The other is laid near the third joint of the
forefinger and between the tips of that and the middle finger which
are kept together, and is held down by the tip of the thumb; it is,
in short, held somewhat like a pen, only the pressure of the thumb
is much lighter, for if it were heavy, the force put into it as the
chopstick is moved would relax the pressure on the other stick and
cause it to drop. The tip of the thumb serves, therefore, only as a
loose fulcrum for moving the stick with tips of the fore and middle
fingers, while the upper half resting on the last joint of the
forefinger is allowed free play. The most difficult part is the use of
the thumb; beginners press the stationary chopstick too hard and make
the tip of the thumb so stiff that the other chopstick cannot be
freely moved. It is quite easy, when one gets used to the thing, even
to move the stationary chopstick a little at the same time as the
other. The tips of the chopsticks must always meet. In the hand of
a skilled user a needle may be picked up with them; but it is quite
enough for ordinary purposes if we can pick a fish or take up a grain
of boiled rice.


When the breakfast trays are brought, cups of tea are poured. The tea
drunk at meals is common tea, which as it consists of old leaves, may
be taken in any quantity without affecting the nerves. A handful of
the leaves is thrown into an earthen tea-pot and hot water poured into
it; and the pot is set over a fire to keep it hot. The infusion is
of a reddish-yellow hue and is almost tasteless. The cups used are
generally cylindrical, like mugs without the handles, and are assigned
one to each member of the family. The china rice-bowls are also
permanently given to the members. When the tea has been sipped, the
bowl of rice is taken up and brought near the mouth, and a small
quantity is separated with the chopsticks and eaten. In eating rice,
the chopsticks scoop it up and bring it to the mouth as it would take
too much time to pick it up grain by grain. Alternately with rice, the
soup is sipped, and the condiments are also picked a little at a time
with the chopsticks. Two or more helpings of rice are taken; as it is
considered unlucky to eat only one bowlful, at least two are eaten
even though the second may be a small dose consumed for form’s sake.
One or two helpings of the soup are also taken; but it is not
good form to ask for a second helping of the vegetables and other
condiments on the tray. Rice is brought in the cylindrical tub into
the room and served out there; but the soup is kept over a fire in the
kitchen and the wooden bowls are taken there for the second helping.
The last bowl of rice is often eaten with tea poured into it, and the
bowl is brought to the mouth and the rice pushed into it with the
chopsticks. It is, we may mention in passing, only the rice-bowl,
besides those containing soup, tea, and other liquid or semi-liquid
food which cannot be picked up with chopsticks, that is brought to the
mouth; all other dishes are kept on the tray and the food is taken up
with the chopsticks. Finally, the rice-bowl is filled with tea only to
wash down any grains of rice that may be left in it.

[Illustration: A MEAL.]

This finishes the breakfast. It does not take more than ten or fifteen
minutes; indeed, people pride themselves upon their quickness at
meals, especially at breakfast, as it implies that they have no time
to dawdle over their food, which is taken solely to ward off hunger
and maintain their health and strength. But it must be admitted
that indigestion not unfrequently follows these hurried meals, to
which children are early taught to habituate themselves by parental
instruction and by a proverb which puts quickness at meals as an
accomplishment on a level with swiftness of foot. When the breakfast
is over, the trays, plates, and other utensils are taken back into the
kitchen, washed, and put away until they are needed for the next meal.
The wooden tub of rice is put into a straw casing in winter to prevent
its getting cold and hard and on a stand in a cool, breezy place in
summer to keep it from sweating.

Let us next turn to the kitchen and see how it is arranged. The
kitchen varies very much in size; but the commonest range from six to
sixteen square yards, that is, it would, if it were matted, hold from
three to eight mats. But the floor is usually entirely boarded, though
in a large kitchen a mat or two are laid for the servants to sit on.
There is a space of ground at the entrance for leaving clogs in, and
another on which the sink is set. The most prominent feature of the
kitchen is the hearth for cooking rice. It is made of a shallow wooden
box, on which a square plaster casing is built with a round hole at
the top and an aperture at a side. On the hole the rice-pot is put;
and the side-opening is used for feeding the hearth with small faggots
which are kept in a cavity under the wooden box. The hearth is as
often as not double, and over the other hole the soup-pot is set. The
plaster between the two holes is often replaced by a copper boiler for
boiling water with the heat of the faggots under the two pots. Over
the hearth is a skylight in the roof, for the part of the house where
the kitchen is situated is always one-storied; and a sliding shutter
is moved up and down along the incline of the roof and fastened by a
cord. The skylight is useful on a fine calm day as an outlet for the
smoke of the hearth; but when a wind blows against the roof or the
rain comes pouring in, it has to be closed at the time when it is most
needed, for if the skylight is closed, the windows are also shut,
with the result that the smoke spreads over the whole house. In some
houses, therefore, chimney-flues have taken the place of
skylights, which are, moreover, as has already been observed, among
the burglar’s favourite means of ingress.

[Illustration: THE KITCHEN.]

For ordinary cooking purposes a small hearth of plaster, stone, or
iron is used. It is round or square, and larger at top than at bottom.
The top is open with an earthen grating at a few inches’ depth from
the edge, and an ash-box underneath, which has an outlet at the side
for raking out the ashes and fanning the fire. But little charcoal is
needed as the space between the grating and the bottom of the pot is
very limited. Near the larger hearth is a black earthen pot with a
lid, into which half-burnt charcoal is put and extinguished with
water; and when they are dry, these half-burnt pieces are used for
lighting fresh charcoal with as they catch fire much more readily. For
stirring and clearing the hearth, we use a shovel with a long wooden
handle and a pair of long iron rods which are held like chopsticks to
pick up pieces of charcoal or cinders. The tongs which are used for
braziers are much shorter and made of iron, copper, or brass; they
are also used like chopsticks and are indeed called in Japanese
“fire-chopsticks.” A hollow bamboo tube with a knot at one end which
has a little hole in the centre takes the place of bellows.

Besides the iron pots for making soup and other food on a large scale,
which are set on the great hearth, we have small pots and pans for the
little hearth. The pots have semicircular handles of metal, the ends
of which are hooked into holes on opposite sides of the pots, while
the pans have wooden handles fitting into sheaths at the side. They
all have wooden lids. Fish and other food are roasted on an iron
netting, about a foot square, which is put over the little hearth.
When a fish is roasted, the fat melts and drops into the fire, raising
large volumes of oily smoke and emitting a smell which fills the whole
house. One can always tell, when a mackerel pike, for instance, is
being roasted, long before one enters the house.


For transferring rice into a tub or a bowl a wooden spatula is used,
while soup and other food which cannot be picked up with chopsticks
are put with a wooden spoon into bowls or on plates. For gravy a small
earthen spoon is used. Kitchen knives are of three kinds: the
square for common use, the triangular for dressing fish, and the long
narrow-edged one for cutting thin slices of fish. The dresser is a
thick, two-legged board, at which one has to kneel or squat. There
are also bamboo baskets for carrying vegetables and other food which
require to be washed; but those things which are eaten without
first washing and must therefore be kept free from dust are brought
home in a round wooden box with a lid and a handle. For pounding soft
objects there is an earthen mortar shaped like an inverted cone, with
rough ribbed sides, against which the objects are rubbed with a wooden

Uncooked rice is kept in a large box in a corner of the kitchen and is
measured out whenever needed with a square wooden measure. Charcoal is
brought in straw bags and emptied into a box under the floor of the
kitchen or kept in an outhouse, and is in either case brought out for
use in a bamboo or cane basket lined with paper. Soy is usually sold
in wooden kegs as it does not change with time; but the poor buy it
in half-pint bottles. _Sake_, on the other hand, is apt to grow sour,
especially in hot season, and is bought in long-necked bottles holding
a few pints; but if there are heavy drinkers in the family or many
guests to entertain, casks are laid in. Pickled vegetables are made in
old _sake_-casks which are put in a corner of the kitchen, often on
the ground.

Around the kitchen are shelves, open or with doors, on which the
services and utensils are kept. The sets for use when there are guests
are carefully wrapped in paper or cotton and stored in special boxes
in the kitchen or some other room. There is no pantry; but as every
preparation is served separately in a bowl or on a plate, the quantity
of crockery in a Japanese kitchen is very great. There is a shelf high
upon the wall near the large hearth, dedicated to the kitchen deity,
to whom offerings of rice and flowers are daily brought.

The sink, which is of wood, usually lies level with the kitchen floor,
and one either squats on the floor or stands on the ground before it.
Here all kitchen utensils and services are washed, everything in fact,
except the kettles of copper, bronze, or iron, which are never washed
but grow mellow by being patted with pieces of cloth steeped in hot
water. Beside the sink are an earthen jar to hold water for washing
and a wooden pail for drinking water, but there is really no
difference in the quality of the liquid in the two receptacles as it
has in either case been drawn from the well. The wells are either
private or public; in the latter case, they are used by the whole
neighbourhood, a small tax being levied for their maintenance, and are
the favourite resorts for the exchange of scandals. As these wells
have all wooden sides and a square wooden flooring where washing is
done, they present a far from cleanly appearance, and the water is as
often as not contaminated, especially in the crowded quarters of the
city. The Tokyo municipality undertook some years ago to supply pure
water, and as water-pipes have been laid throughout the city, the
wells are rapidly disappearing in Tokyo.

[Illustration: A WELL.]

As we have described the general appearance of the kitchen, we will
now return to the sitting-room. The breakfast things have been
removed; but preparations have before long to be made for the midday
meal. If the master of the house is not at home, or indeed even if he
is, unless he has a visitor, the meal is very simple. It may consist
of some vegetable soup, boiled vegetables, such as carrots, burdocks,
turnips, or pumpkins, or dried or cured fish, like salmon,
sardines, herrings, or mackerel, or perhaps fresh fish boiled, basted,
or roasted. There may be the same condiments as at breakfast.

The evening meal is the principal repast of the day. It may not differ
materially from the midday meal, though fresh fish is more frequently
served then than at noon. The fish may be boiled in a mixture of
_mirin_ and soy, be put into a soup made with an infusion of dried
bonito shavings, be roasted on the iron netting with a sprinkling of
salt or repeated coatings of soy, or be taken raw in thin slices.
This raw fish is a peculiarly Japanese dish. A side of a fish, after
removing the bones, is cut into thin slices and served with grated
garden radish and eutrema, the latter in its hot taste being
something between ginger and mustard, and also with a boiled yellow
chrysanthemum. The fish is soaked in a little plat of soy in which the
radish and eutrema have been mixed. The raw fish, especially if it is
the sea-bream, is a delicacy which is highly appreciated in Japan,
though many Europeans who relish raw oysters recoil from the very idea
of eating any fish uncooked.

People who take _sake_ have it usually with their evening meal, though
some, of course, drink it at every repast and between meals as well.
It is, however, the custom to take it in the evening when the day’s
work is done. It is brought in a little china bottle which has been
put into a boiling kettle and warmed. It is taken hot, and its effects
are naturally more rapid than when it is taken cold, and pass off as
rapidly. It is poured into a tiny cup; and as one sips it cup after
cup, it warms one up quickly, but when its effects pass off, it is apt
to give one a chill; hence, a man who goes to sleep immediately after
drinking _sake_, needs more bedding than usual to avoid a cold on
awaking. Another peculiarity in _sake_-drinking is that we take it
with fish or other dishes at the beginning of a meal, and when we have
done with it, we take rice. This drinking on a empty stomach helps to
make it effective; and the Japanese way of drinking produces a quick
but brief state of exhilaration.



  Japanese diet—Vegetables—Sea-weeds and flowers—Fish—Shell-fish—Crabs
  and other molluscs—Fowl—Meat—Prepared food—Peculiarities
  of food—Fruits—The bever—Baked potatoes and
  cracknel—Confectionery—Reasons for its
  abundance—Sponge-cake—Glutinous rice and red bean—Kinds of
  confectionery—Sugar in Japanese confectionery.

It will be seen from the foregoing chapter that the Japanese diet
consists almost entirely of fish and vegetables. It is true that we
also eat domestic and other fowls, and in Tokyo and other large towns
a quantity of beef and pork, and horseflesh as well, is consumed; but
their consumption is insignificant compared with the part fish and
vegetables play in the Japanese culinary art.

We have a great variety of vegetables. The commonest and most useful
of them is the garden radish, which is pickled or salted, boiled
almost dry with _mirin_, sugar, and bonito shavings, put into soup, or
grated to flavour raw or fried fish. Carrots and turnips, the burdock
and the arrowhead are also boiled and served by themselves or together
on a plate. We boil or put into soup the potato, the yam, and the
taro, of which we have several varieties. Cucumbers are either pickled
or served raw with pepper and vinegar. The egg-plant and the melon are
also pickled or put into soup. We pickle or boil the onion, scallion,
spinach, and lettuce. The kidney, horse, and other beans are in great
favour and dressed in various ways. Mushrooms and several other fungi
growing on trees or on rocks are served with fish or vegetables. The
bulb of the tiger-lily and the rhizome of the lotus are boiled; the
former is very soft, but the latter is hard and indigestible. The
bamboo-shoots, when very young, become soft on boiling and are much
in demand in April; but they grow fast and soon become too hard. Rice
boiled with bits of bamboo-shoot is a favourite food in that
month. The water-shield is held by some people to be a delicacy,
while others esteem as highly the common bracken, snake-gourd, and

Sea-weeds are also in great demand. Of these the principal are the
_konbu_ (_laminaria japonica_), which is largely exported into China,
and the laver, which is obtained in thin sheets and taken with
soy alone or with rice rolled in it. The cherry-flowers and the
chrysanthemums are also articles of food; the former are salted, put
into hot water, and served in place of tea, while the latter, always
the yellow variety, are either fried with a coating of _kuzu_
(_pueraria Thunbergiana_) or boiled in brine and pressed.

Japan is especially rich in fish, as is to be expected from her
extensive coast-line and great length from north to south. There
are said to be about six hundred varieties of fish in the waters
surrounding the country. Of these the one which is held in highest
esteem is the _tai_, a species of the sea-bream (_pagrus cardinalis_).
It is served in various ways; indeed, so numerous are these ways that
there is extant an old Japanese book entitled “The Hundred Excellent
Methods of dressing the _Tai_.” It may be boiled, roasted, basted,
salted, or taken raw. Most other fish may be similarly treated,
though they may not be considered so delicate. For being taken raw in
thin slices, the fishes esteemed next to the _tai_ are the plaice,
gilthead, tunny, and bonito. Others are mostly preferred boiled. Among
the commonest of these fishes are the gurnard, Prussian carp, common
carp, wels, flying-fish, mackerel, frigate mackerel, horse-mackerel,
mackerel pike, trout, rock-trout, white-bait, sand-fish, goby,
sting-ray, sword-fish, sardine, salmon, sole, hair-tail, goose-fish,
cod, half-beak, yellow-tail, grey mullet, shark, and sea-eel. The
salmon comes to Tokyo salted, while the herring is sun-dried. The
sardine and mackerel pike are usually roasted. The eel is treated only
in one way; it is split from gill to tail, the back-bone is extracted,
and the head cut off; the two sides are laid out flat and bamboo
skewers are passed through them, and they are roasted over a fire,
being from time to time dipped in a gravy of _mirin_ and soy. Tokyo is
especially noted for eels served in this way. The loach is also split
and the bones are extracted; it is served in a pan over a hot-water
bath, with eggs and chips of burdock.


There are also many kinds of shell-fish in Japan. Of the univalves
the principal are the sea-ear and top-shell, while among the bivalves
are the oyster, clam, sea-mussel, razor-shell, cockle, swan-mussel,
otter-shell, and rapana. They are mostly boiled; the clam and
sea-mussel, and others with comparatively thin shells are served in
a bowl of slightly-flavoured hot water, which can hardly be called
soup. The oyster is always shelled and served by itself or with eggs.

Crabs, squills, lobsters, shrimps, and prawns are abundant. The
cuttle-fish and octopus are very common articles of food, and the
pond-snail is appreciated by some people. Sun-dried cuttle-fish are
also very common; they are flat and hard, and are cut into slices
which are roasted and dipped in soy.

Of fowls the variety is somewhat limited. We have of course the
domestic fowl. The most esteemed of all fowls is the crane, after
which come Bewick’s swan, the heron, wild goose, wild duck, common
duck, pheasant, quail, pigeon, woodcock, and water-rail, while
among the smaller birds are the sparrow, lark, and siskin. As we do
not use a knife and fork at table, all fowls have to be cut up before
they are served. A favourite way is to serve them in small slices in
soup; but they may also be brought in with vegetables on a plate. The
commonest method with the domestic fowl and duck is to boil them in
small slices in a shallow pan with bits of onion in a gravy of soy,
_mirin_, and sugar. The pan has a small hollow at a side, into which
the gravy runs so as not to saturate the meat too much. The small
birds are served whole, and when chopsticks fail, the hands and teeth
are brought into requisition.

It is only of recent years that we have begun to eat beef and pork;
but we have in Tokyo a large number of shops where they are sold.
There are two kinds of such shops; one is the regular butcher’s, while
the other is a sort of restaurant where beef is served in the same
manner as the domestic fowl and duck above mentioned. Here _sake_ and
rice are also obtainable. There are many restaurants in European
style; but the cuisine in most of them is non-descript and the dishes
are confined to the simplest kind. The absence of mutton, moreover,
sadly limits, the range of plats.

Though cooking is mostly done at home, no small quantity of prepared
food is bought for the meals. The most important of such food is the
bean-curd. For this the soy bean is soaked in water, ground, steamed,
and strained; and the liquid is allowed to coagulate by the addition
of brine and then pressed in a square box with a cotton-cloth bottom
until the water has been drawn off, leaving behind a soft white curd.
This curd is cut into small slices and put into soup in the morning;
it is sometimes thrown into hot water, and as soon as it is warmed,
dipped into a mixture of soy and _mirin_ and eaten. It is also fried.
Indeed, the bean-curd shares with the _tai_ the distinction of having
a special treatise dealing with a hundred ways of dressing it. Another
favourite breakfast food is the steamed peas, which are eaten with
mustard. Plums which have softened and reddened by being preserved in
perilla leaves are often, after extracting the stones, boiled with
sugar until they become gelatinous. Boiled beans, the egg-plant
preserved in mustard, and ginger in perilla leaves are common
breakfast condiments. Fish and vegetables coated with flour and fried
in rape-oil are favourite articles of diet. Commonest among fried
vegetables are sweet potatoes, leek, and lotus rhizomes, while
lobsters similarly served are highly esteemed. Another favourite is
the flesh of sturgeon minced very fine, seasoned with _sake_ and salt,
and baked. It is made into a roll with a hole through the centre or is
semi-cylindrical with a flat side.

It will thus be seen how completely our diet differs from the
European; and it is no matter for wonder that the other conditions of
life should be as dissimilar. Many Europeans in Japan find our meals
unsatisfying; but at the same time there are not a few Japanese who
do not feel that they have had a full meal unless they finish up a
European dinner with rice and-pickled vegetables. There is certainly
far greater sustaining power in European food, and our medical
authorities urge a more extensive use of animal food besides fish.
Rice and vegetables, it is true, fill the stomach; indeed, one may
even feel surfeited, and yet in a short time the strain disappears and
hunger returns. For this reason coolies and others engaged in severe
physical labour take four or more meals a day. Pickled vegetables are
indigestible; but as they are indispensable at every meal, the natural
result is that dyspepsia is one of the commonest ailments that a
Japanese is subject to. It should, however, be added that it is not
pickled vegetables alone that are responsible for this prevalence of
dyspepsia; for the Japanese, and more especially the citizens of
Tokyo, probably take more food between meals than any other people,
and that too at irregular intervals.

As there is no dessert at a Japanese meal, fruits are commonly eaten
at odd hours, especially by children. In the early months of the year
we have the apple and the orange. The former is mostly cultivated in
Yezo, the most northerly of the larger islands, while the latter comes
mainly from the southern section of the main island. Oranges are
all mandarins with or almost without pips; of these there are many
varieties, and some of them are very sweet. The shaddock is also very
common. There are different kinds of citrons; but they are seldom
eaten by themselves, being like the lemon mostly used to flavour
dishes. Strawberries there are in plenty; but they are mostly watery
and lack sweetness owing to the great humidity of the Japanese
climate, which spoils both fruit and flower, depriving one of taste
and the other of fragrance. Cherries have recently been introduced and
cultivated in many localities; for the Japanese cherry-tree is grown
solely for its beautiful flowers and its fruit is too small to be
eaten. The Japanese plum-tree is also reared for its flowers, but
produces fruit in large quantity; it is hard, and is eaten raw with
a little salt to counteract indigestion, pickled in vinegar, or
preserved in perilla leaves. The Japanese apricot is inferior to the
English apricot and nectarine; and so is the peach which is pointed at
the top and hard-druped. Figs are always eaten raw. The loquat tastes
fairly good, but its large stones leave but little to eat; and the
pomegranate is open to a similar objection that it is too full of
seed for enjoyment. The Japanese pear is different to the European
species; it has not the peculiar shape of the latter, but looks like
a large pippin in shape and colour, only that it is speckled all over
with minute greenish-white spots; it is juicy but comparatively
hard. Acorns of different kinds of oak are parched and shelled. Our
chestnuts do not differ from the European. They are roasted or boiled
unshelled; but when they are shelled and boiled soft, they form part
of an important dish at Japanese dinners. Grapes, too, are plentiful;
they are fair, though of course inferior to European hot-house grapes.
Bananas we get from the Bonin Islands and pine-apples from Formosa.
But the best of all Japanese fruits is the persimmon; it is a
peculiarly Japanese fruit. There are many varieties, some of which are
delicious. Some of the larger sort are thrown into empty _sake_-casks
and left to mellow, while others are peeled, dried, and preserved in

As the second meal of the day is taken at noon and the last at
sundown, it is not unusual, especially in summer, to have something at
three or four o’clock. When there are artisans or labourers at work in
the house, they are always given tea with some food about that hour;
and if there is a visitor, a lady or a friend of the family, its
women folk generally manage to have this bever. It may be no more than
confectionery; but the most common food taken on such an occasion is
_sushi_, which is a lump of rice which has been pressed with the hand
into a roundish form with a slight mixture of vinegar and covered on
the top with a slice of fish or lobster, or a strip of fried egg, or
rolled in a piece of laver. As the lumps are small, being seldom more
than two or three inches long, several of them are set before each
person. The favourite fish for the purpose is the tunny, though others
are also largely used. Another common dish for the bever is the soba,
which is a sort of macaroni made of buckwheat; in its simplest form
it is brought on a small bamboo screen laid on a wooden stand; it is
dipped, before eating, in an infusion of bonito shavings flavoured
with a little soy and _mirin_, to which small bits of onion and
Cayenne pepper have been added. The macaroni is also boiled with fried
lobsters, fowl, or eggs and served in bowls. Wheaten macaroni is also
dressed in the same manner; it is much thicker than that of buckwheat.

[Illustration: _SUSHI_ AND _SOBA_.]

But it is in winter evenings that there is a great deal of eating
to while away the dreary hours after the early supper. Children,
students, and others to whom inexpensiveness is a consideration, take
to sweet potatoes which are boiled in slices or baked whole or in
pieces. Another article, equally in favour for its cheapness, is a
kind of cracknel made by baking and dipping small disks of rice or
wheaten flour in soy. Parched peas rolled in salt or sugar and roasted
acorns and chestnuts are also much in demand.

The variety of confectionery is very great. This is due to two causes.
First, it is the custom to take a present with us when we go to visit
a friend whom we have not seen for some time or to pay our respects to
a superior. It may be some fruit in season, or a box of eggs, a brace
of wild ducks or geese, or a case of beer, handkerchiefs, or, indeed,
any article conceivable; but the commonest is confectionery. If one
goes to ask a favour or express thanks for a service rendered, or to
keep oneself in the other’s good books if he is a superior, where, in
short, some personal advantage is sought immediately or prospectively
or has been gained, one naturally makes presents of some value; but if
it is only to pay the compliments of the season and merely to remind
the other of one’s existence, articles of slighter value, such as
confectionery, are given. In the latter case the recipient makes to
the other a similar present when he returns the call. This exchange
of presents takes place among friends, especially at the end of the
year. So general is the custom that on a man with a wide circle of
acquaintances these gifts about the New Year’s tide entail serious
expenses. He may of course send to a friend a present he has received
from another; but he has to be very circumspect how he disposes of
such presents, for it sometimes happens that this repeated passing on
of a gift from one person to another ends in its reverting to the
original donor in a condition by no means improved by its frequent
journeys. Similar presents are made in midsummer, though the custom is
not so general as at the other season.

The second reason for the variety of confectionery lies in the custom
of setting some cake before a visitor. When any one calls and is shown
in, tea is brought before him together with a plate of confections.
The tea is of course drunk, but the cake is more frequently left
untouched; it ought in that case to be wrapped in paper and given to
the visitor to take home, but the rule is not always observed and
the cake is often left to do duty before successive callers until it
becomes too stale for presentation. In a family with children, they
generally manage to make away with it as soon as the visitor is gone.
When, however, a doctor is called in, the cake is always wrapped in
paper and given to him; and the doctor takes it as a matter of course.

These two customs, then, naturally create a large demand for
confectionery of all kinds. The most common cake for making a present
of is a sort of sponge-cake. It is not of Japanese origin, but appears
to have been introduced by the Spaniards in the early days of foreign
intercourse more than three centuries ago. It is put in a cardboard
or wooden box; and, in view of the custom above referred to of passing
a present on from one to another until it grows stale, the best
confectioners in Tokyo now put on the box the date of its sale so that
their reputation may not suffer through the deterioration of their
confection by its repeated travels. The precaution, however, is hardly
necessary as the custom is too widely known for any one who receives
musty sweetmeats to accuse their maker of dishonesty.

[Illustration: A BOX OF SPONGE-CAKE.]

The bulk of confectionery is made of rice, red beans, millet, or
sugar. Glutinous rice is steamed, pounded in a wooden mortar into a
pasty consistency, and left to cool. This is made into little cakes,
which are boiled and eaten with greens in soup at the beginning of the
year and are at other times baked and dipped in soy and sugar. But for
making confectionery, the pounded rice is not allowed to cool as it
is, while hot, soft enough to take any shape. It usually forms the
outer cover of dumplings filled with a sugary mixture. The red bean is
boiled, pounded, and strained through a coarse cotton bag to get rid
of the skin, though the latter is sometimes retained, in which case
the straining is unnecessary, and finally mixed with sugar. This red
bean jam is the most important ingredient of Japanese sweetmeats as
there is in our confectionery no other equivalent of the fruit jam.
Sometimes, however, other beans are substituted for it, especially
when a white jam is needed. The red-bean jam is also used in making
red soup into which small rice dumplings are thrown; this soup is much
in demand, especially in winter, to while away the tedium of long
evenings. The red bean is also boiled with rice to give it a colour;
the red-bean rice is eaten in old-fashioned families three times a
month, on the first, fifteenth, and twenty-eighth. A kind of white
candy is made from a mixture of glutinous rice and rice-yeast.
Agar-agar, or the Bengal isinglass, which is obtained from a seaweed,
is used for making jellies. Starch extracted from the root of the
_kuzu_ (_pueraria Thunbergiana_) is also much employed in confectionery.

Numerous as are the confections made, the more common among them are
the following, which may of course be varied by the addition of other
ingredients. A kind of Turkish delight is made from a mixture of
glutinous rice, syrup, and white candy, boiled and brought into
proper consistency by throwing in a little _kuzu_ starch. By steaming
a mixture of red beans, sugar, wheat, and _kuzu_, we get a
sweet dark-red cake, which is almost as popular as the sponge-cake.
A mixture of glutinous rice steeped in water and rice-yeast left
overnight in a hot-water bath is, after being strained and steamed
with a small quantity of wheat, made into little balls around a lump
of red-bean jam. This is also a very common confection. Caramels are
made with long beans or peanuts inside. By boiling a mixture of
agar-agar and sugar for some time over a slow fire, we get a soft,
translucent jelly which is put into a mould and afterwards cut up.

There are many others of a similar composition, often coloured,
flavoured, or peculiarly shaped; but their principal ingredients are
the articles already mentioned. Japanese confectionery is noticeable
for the large quantity of saccharine matter it contains, which
varies, except in rare cases, from one to three fourths of the whole
composition. It is not, therefore, to be wondered at that indigestion
is a frequent result of a too free indulgence in Japanese confections.



  Japanese and foreign dress—Progress in the latter—Japanese clothes
  indispensable—_Kimono_—Cutting out—Making of an unlined dress—Short
  measure—Extra-sized dresses—_Yukata_—The lined _kimono_—The wadded
  _kimono_—Under-dress—Underwear—_Obi_—_Haori_—The crest—The uncrested
  _haori_—_Hakama_—Socks—How to dress Wearing of socks.

A stranger in the streets of Tokyo cannot but be struck by the number
of Japanese, especially men and boys, who are dressed in European
clothes. The western costume, if less picturesque, is certainly more
handy than the Japanese; it allows a greater freedom to the limbs,
whereas in the latter the long sleeves are apt to be caught by knobs
and corners and the skirt is always in the way when we wish to run or
walk fast. For this reason the European male dress is largely worn in
schools, government offices, and private places of business, which
are built in a style more or less foreign and furnished with chairs,
benches, and tables; for squatting is uncomfortable with foreign
clothes and, whatever the dress may be, is a more complicated way of
resting ourselves than sitting in a chair, besides requiring a greater
effort when we wish to rise. But there are further reasons for
the favour which European clothes enjoy in Japan. They last much
longer than Japanese, for silks wear out pretty quickly if they are
constantly in use and are, moreover, torn more readily. If they are
soiled, they have to be taken to pieces, washed, perhaps redyed, and
remade. Besides, a Japanese outfit of fair quality is more costly than
a European suit. And as the custom stands in Japan, we have to provide
ourselves with several Japanese suits; whereas so many changes are not
needed of European clothes, in respect of which the Japanese people,
as a whole, have not yet learned to discriminate so rigidly as when
their national costume is concerned. A man may, in fact, wear the same
frock-coat all the year round and make it last long by taking as
great care of it as he does of his Japanese clothes. All things
considered, then, European clothes are both more handy and economical,
and on that account preferred to Japanese on business and ceremonial

In the early days of the new regime when European clothes were
comparatively rare and not unfrequently worn rather as a sign of
their wearers’ progressive spirit than for their convenience, it was
considered sufficient if they were simply European, no account being
taken of their cut or style. A man in a tweed cutaway or serge lounge
suit found ready access to an evening party or a semi-official
gathering. But as time went on, the frock-coat became the usual dress
on such occasions; still, silk hats were not yet generally worn, and
bowlers remained the common wear. The evening dress was the official
suit and was worn at one time even in the morning, if there was an
official ceremony at such early hours. It is only within the last
decade that silk hats have come into vogue; and they are now worn with
the frock-coat or evening dress at all parties and social gatherings.
But as they are still only worn at social functions, they last a long
time, and at garden parties silk hats of all ages and styles may be

The rapid encroachment of European clothes into Japanese society is
undeniable; and if we may judge from the steady increase of tailoring
establishments in Tokyo and elsewhere, they seem destined to command
a still greater popularity. But there appears to be little ground for
the prediction often made by European writers that the national dress
is doomed. For so long as Japanese houses remain radically unchanged
and we are forced to squat on the mat, Japanese clothes cannot be
dispensed with. European clothes are not comfortable to squat in; as
the body cannot be kept quite straight, the collar presses on the
throat, the waistcoat gets creasy, the trousers soon become baggy
about the knees, and the socks are but a poor protection against the
cold since they cannot be hidden as under the skirt of the Japanese
dress. In a room warmed only by a small brazier, we feel the winter
chill more severely in European clothes than in Japanese. In summer
no one who has once worn the Japanese _yukata_ would willingly
take it off, for it is the slightest possible consistent with decency
as it is nothing more than a single unlined dress. It is the coolest
imaginable. Other Japanese summer clothes are only less cool than the
_yukata_. Hence, a Japanese of the upper or middle class has usually
to provide himself with both European and Japanese suits, that is, if
he wears European clothes at all, and is put to double expenses in
the matter of clothing. And to be completely equipped in both requires
no light purse.

The ordinary Japanese dress is shaped like a gown with hanging
sleeves. As the exact shape of the _kimono_, as it is called, appears
unknown to those who have never seen it, we will here explain how a
_kimono_ is made.

The _kimono_ is made out of a piece of silk, cotton, or hemp cloth,
usually eleven inches wide and about thirty-five feet long. Cloths are
always made of nearly the same measure or of double the length just
mentioned, that is, if they are for making _kimono_. The length and
width may vary slightly, cotton cloths being for instance smaller than
silk. The cloth is cut out into two pieces each for the body, the
sleeves, and the gores, and one for the band and sometimes another for
the upper band, or into seven or eight pieces in all. The body pieces
are each ten feet long and the sleeve pieces three feet and a half,
so that the two pairs take up twenty-seven feet; they are of the same
width as the original piece. The remainder is cut into two strips,
usually six and five inches wide, of which the former is cut in two
lengths of four feet three inches each, if possible, for the gores and
the latter into a strip, five feet eight inches long, for the main
band, the remainder being used, if needed, for the upper band.

We now pass on to the making of the male unlined _kimono_, as
naturally it is of the simplest form. In the first place, the length
of a _kimono_ varies with the size of the wearer; it is not only
his height, but his condition as well, that has to be taken into
consideration, for broad shoulders, a thick chest, and rounded hips
require more cloth, longitudinally and laterally, than a body of the
same height but with less flesh. The usual length is about four feet
six inches for the average Japanese whose height is five feet
three or four inches. The two body pieces are first placed side by
side and sewn together half the length, the edge sewn in being about
half an inch; and then at the end of the seam the pieces are cut two
inches and a half and folded down at that width all along to the free
ends, so that when they are spread out, there is a channel five inches
wide along half their length. They are then folded in two so that the
free halves are exactly over the sewn halves. The outer edges are then
sewn from the end up to a point a foot and five inches below the fold.
The sewn halves form the hind part and the free halves the front of
the _kimono_. Next, the pieces for the gores are sewn on from the end
along the free edges of the body pieces. The skirt is stitched, and
the _kimono_, which is now an inch or so less than five feet, is
tucked in to the required length at the hips where the tucking would
be concealed under the _obi_, or sash. The edge of each gore is
stitched to a certain height which depends upon the length of the
_kimono_, and from this point to the top of its juncture with the body
piece the gore is turned, and the triangle thus formed is folded again
and again so as to be enclosed in the band which is next sewn on over
the folded edges of the gores and round the breast and neck of the
body pieces. The band itself is made by folding the band piece
lengthwise into two and turning in the edges. The upper band which
serves as an anti-macassar is then sewn over the main band around the
neck. The sleeves have in the meantime been sewn into oblong pieces a
foot and seven or eight inches long by ten inches wide. The outer edge
has been sewn together for nine and a quarter inches from the bottom,
the remainder being hemmed round to allow the hand to pass through;
and the inner edge, of which two and a half inches have been stitched
at the lower extremity, is now sewn on to the body piece.

The dress is now complete. Sometimes when the cloth is slightly short
of measure, it cannot be made in the way just described. The body
pieces are taken at lengths which admit of but little tucking at the
hips; and the gores are cut slantwise, leaving no triangular pieces
to be folded in. But in that case, when the dress is remade, the
same parts of the gores will be exposed, whereas if the gores are
oblong, they can be reversed so as to expose the parts which were
formerly folded in and are therefore practically new.


These dresses can be taken to pieces and remade so long as the cloth
is not worn out; and as they can be made to fit most persons by
judicious tucking in or letting out, they are often washed and remade
for others than the original wearer. As the maximum length of the body
pieces is about ten feet, a cloth of the usual length would be too
short for those who measure more than four feet ten or eleven inches
from the nape of the neck to the ankles. A spare person, five feet
eight inches in height, might just manage to make himself a dress out
of a cloth of the usual length; but a man of a greater stature or of
the same height with more flesh would have to get a cloth specially
woven for him or buy a double length. Moreover, if a cloth is too
short for the height, it would also be in all probability too narrow
for the sleeves, which would then require a strip to be sewn on to
cover the arms.

The unlined dress of coarse bleached cotton, known as _yukata_ or
bath-dress, is the simplest and most comfortable for summer wear. It
is worn immediately next to the skin without underwear of any
kind, and is washed whole every few days in midsummer. It is commonly
white or blue with stripes, spots, or other simple designs. If the
dress is of silk, hemp, or of a better kind of cotton, an underwear of
bleached cotton is put on. This resembles the _kimono_ in form, only
that it is much shorter, coming down only to the thighs, and has open
sleeves and no gores. The unlined _kimono_ is worn when one goes out
in summer; the _yukata_ is mostly for home wear or put on for a walk
in the evening. The unlined clothes are worn through midsummer from
the middle of June until the latter half of September.

The lined _kimono_ differs from the unlined in having a lining, which
is usually of dark-blue silk or cotton. The lining is first made
separately from the covering, and its pieces, which are similar to
those of the other with a slight shrinkage in the measurement to allow
for its being the inner side, are stitched together, except at the
edges of the sleeves, skirt, gores, and the inner border of the body
pieces, which are sewn on to the corresponding parts of the outer
cloth. The band of the latter covers both cloths; and at the opening
of the sleeves a stiff piece of cloth trims the edges as that part
is apt to be rapidly worn out from the movement of the wrist. The
underwear is the same as in the case of the unlined _kimono_. The
lined _kimono_ is worn for a shorter time than the unlined, in fact,
for about a month at the transition from the unlined _kimono_ to the
wadded and _vice-versa_. The lined _kimono_ was not recognised by
the old-time etiquette which did not sanction any intermediate dress
between the unlined and the wadded; but of its comfort as a
_demi-saison_ costume there can be no question.

The wadded _kimono_ is the most important of all as it is worn for a
longer period than the others. It is simply the lined _kimono_ wadded,
and is made similarly to it. When the two halves, the outer and the
inner, have been stitched separately, they are first joined together
at the skirt, turned inside out, and spread on the floor. The wadding
is then put on the outer half, the lining is brought over and sewn on,
and finally the whole dress is turned back the right side out. The
lining is made narrower than the covering as it remains inside, but
is slightly longer to allow for the bulge of the wadding. The
wadding may be of floss-silk as when it is desired to keep the dress
thin and light; or it may be of ginned cotton with a thin coating of
floss-silk; the floss-silk is needed because if the wadding were
only of cotton, it would fall in the course of time and gather at
the skirt, whereas the floss-silk adheres to the cloth with such
pertinacity that part of it oozes out through the texture of the
cloth and forms little white lumps on the outside.

The wadded clothes are worn double in midwinter. The under-dress is of
slightly smaller dimensions than the upper. It is usual to make its
body of a less stiff material than the other, for if it were as stiff
or thick, it would be uncomfortable to wear. Hence, the gores, the
skirt, the band, and the wrist-ends of the sleeves, that is, the
visible portions, are made of stiff stuff; but the rest is of softer
silk or cotton.

Under the lower _kimono_ is worn a doublet, thickly wadded and coming
down to the knees. It is made of inferior silk and has a black silk
band. Under this is the same underwear as in the case of the lined
_kimono_. The doublet has sleeves like the _kimono_. The merino
undershirt is now frequently worn instead of the Japanese underwear;
it is certainly warmer than the other which lets the wind and cold
enter through its open breast and sleeves, but it cannot be said to
add to the picturesqueness of the national costume. Merino drawers
are also worn; they are useful as the skirt is often on a windy day
blown aside and exposes the legs to the cold.

[Illustration: THE _OBI_, SQUARE AND PLAIN.]

The _obi_, or sash, is about four inches wide and varies in length
from twelve feet and a half to fourteen. It is usually of the same
material on both sides and can be worn either side out. It is stitched
along one edge and stiffened with a padding. This is the regular sash,
commonly called the square _obi_; but when we are at home, go out for
a walk, or visit an intimate friend, we prefer another kind of sash,
which is a piece of white crêpe, about ten feet long and varying in
width from a foot and a quarter to two feet, and stitched at the ends
to prevent their fraying. It is much more comfortable than the other.

The _haori_, or outer coat, is worn over the _kimono_. It comes down
only to the knees or a little lower. It has no gores in front like the
_kimono_. The neck-band runs down to the skirt. The _haori_ is open in
front and the band falls straight from the shoulders on both sides, so
that there is no need for gores in front which are required only for
folding over; but there is a narrow gore on either side coming down
from the lower extremity of the sleeve to the skirt. The sleeves of
the _haori_ are just large enough to enclose those of the _kimono_. At
the skirt the body pieces are turned in and form the lining of the
lower part of the _haori_; and so the full length of a cloth, that is,
about thirty-five feet, is taken in the same way as in the making of
the _kimono_. The upper part of the _haori_ and the sleeves are lined
with another material; that for the upper part is often of bright
colours or embroidered; it is, in fact, the only portion of the male
dress where the usual rule of sober colours is not strictly adhered
to, and people who aspire to be chic sometimes use for the lining a
more expensive material than the outer cloth. Unlined _haori_ which
are made of silk gauze or similar thin stuff for summer wear, are
woven shorter than the others to dispense with the skirt-lining. The
_haori_ for winter wear is sometimes wadded with a thin layer of
floss-silk. About fifteen inches down the neck, a small loop of the
same material as the _haori_ is stitched on to the band on either
side, and to this a silk cord is fastened and tied in the middle to
keep the _haori_ from slipping off. Sometimes the cords are made in a
knot or a bow and fastened to the loops by hooks at the ends.

[Illustration: THE _HAORI_.]

The _haori_ worn on a visit or on formal occasions is usually black
and adorned with the family crest. The crest is found on three or five
parts of the _haori_, one in the middle of the back over the seam,
and one each on the back of the sleeve, and if there are five crests
altogether, one each on the breast of the body piece between the band
and the sleeve. The crest is of various forms and is about an inch
from end to end. It is invariably white; the white cloth is specially
dyed for the purpose so that the crest is the only portion left
undyed; but sometimes ready-dyed cloths with white disks for the
crests are bought, when the crests have to be drawn on them, or if
they have no such disks, the crests are sewn on.

_Haori_ for common wear have no crests and are plain, twilled, or
striped and of sombre hues, though not necessarily black. Those for
home wear are often much longer than ordinary _haori_ and are thickly
wadded with cotton. They are also without crests.

The _hakama_ is a sort of loose trousers. Either leg is made by
joining along the nape five pieces of cloth about a yard long, four of
which are of the full width of the cloth and the fifth of half that
width. The skirt is sewn by turning in the edge three times to stiffen
it. The two legs are joined in such a manner that the half-width
pieces form the inner side and the lowest point of the fork is about
twenty-two inches from the skirt. In front a longitudinal plait is
made an inch or so to the left so that its edge is in the middle;
two more plaits are made to the left and two to the right, and a third
on the latter leg under the middle fold. A similar but deeper plait is
made behind on either leg, that on the right having its edge in the
middle. These plaits are not stitched, but merely hot-pressed so that
they can be opened at will; and as they are much deeper at the skirt
than at the top, they give free play to the legs when walking and make
the _hakama_ appear to fit more closely than it would without them.
The upper half of the _hakama_ is open at either side, the fork at
which is of about the same depth as that in the middle. The top of the
front half which is about a foot wide, is sewn on to the middle of a
band which is folded and turned in to the width of half an inch and is
about eleven feet long, thus leaving a free end five feet long on
either side of the front half. The back, the top of which is narrower
than that in front, is surmounted with a piece of thin board on which
the cloth is pasted with starch mucilage. This board has also a narrow
band, two feet long, on each side. The _hakama_ is lined or unlined,
but never wadded.

[Illustration: THE _HAKAMA_.]

Socks are made with a thick cotton sole and a cover of common cotton
or calico, black or white, which comes up only to the ankle-bone. They
are split between the big toe and the next for holding the thong of
the clogs. They are kept from coming off by two or three small metal
clasps catching a cord behind the heel.

[Illustration: SOCKS.]

Now the Japanese suit is complete. In summer we wear the _yukata_, or
the coarse unlined cotton _kimono_, at home, or an unlined dress of
cotton or other material with underwear when we go out. We always put
on our clothes by folding the left over the right. The clothes are
folded one by one, that is, the underwear is first folded left over
right, over it the doublet, and lastly the _kimono_ which, if double,
are folded in pairs. The principle in putting them on is that their
bands shall alternate right and left and the folds form gradations
widening with the outer garments, so that from the bands one can tell
the quantity of clothing a man has put on. We wind the _obi_ over the
_kimono_. If it is the unlined crêpe, we merely wind it round and
either tuck in the ends under the folds or tie them behind; but if it
is the square _obi_, we leave behind one end about ten inches long and
winding the _obi_ twice round, fold the other end, the tip of
which is tucked under the fold, at such a length that a foot or so of
the doubled end is left over. The two ends are tied together in a
double knot with the two extremities slanting upward one on each side
of the knot. The knot is tied behind over the spine, the _obi_ being
wound just above the hips. Over the _kimono_ we wear the _haori_. The
_haori_ is neither a greatcoat nor a coat properly so called; for we
wear it on all occasions and indoors, and yet we may on informal
occasions take it off without breach of good manners. Indeed, a man
who walks abroad without a _haori_ would be in an entirely different
position to one who goes about in shirt sleeves. The crested _haori_,
which is invariably worn on formal occasions, is a ready means of
identification; and accordingly, when we are unwilling to attract
attention or to risk recognition, the uncrested is commonly put
on. The _hakama_ is worn when we have to be properly dressed, on
occasions, that is to say, when one would wear a frock-coat or an
evening dress; at schools and in government offices the _hakama_
is indispensable when Japanese clothes are worn. In putting on a
_hakama_, the front band is first brought flush with the upper edge of
the _obi_ and the ends are each passed once and half round the body
and tied behind under the knot of the _obi_; and then the board at the
back is perched over the same knot to prevent its slipping down, and
the ends of its bands are tied in front.

The socks are worn with all clothes except the _yukata_; but many
people go about barefooted, save in winter. The white is the colour
worn on formal occasions; but the black is popular as it wears better
than the other and does not betray the dirt when it is soiled. Only
young children wear socks of other colours, such as red and yellow.



  Attempts at Europeanisation—Difference between Japanese and foreign
  dresses—Expense and inconvenience of foreign dresses—Japanese
  dresses not to be discarded—How the female dress differs from the
  male—Underwear and over-band—_Haori_—_Hakama_—_Obi_—How to tie
  it—The dress-_obi_—The formal dress—Home-wear—Working clothes—The
  sameness of form—The girl’s dress—Dress and age.

The late Prince Ito’s first administration which lasted from 1886 to
1889, was a period of great pro-European activity when heroic attempts
were made to Europeanise the entire social organisation. The most
conspicuous of these attempts were the strenuous efforts made to
remodel the social life of the nation; and with that object in view,
various social customs of the West were introduced. Balls and soirées
were given in official circles and among peers and men of wealth. One
of the direct consequences of this innovation was the eager adoption
of the foreign costume by ladies of rank and position, whose example
was soon followed by their humbler sisters. Women in European dresses
were common objects in streets and at public gatherings. And it looked
for a time as if the national costume were doomed.

But it was not long before a reaction set in. A cry arose in various
quarters for the preservation of national characteristics; and though
there was a section of these reactionaries who would resist the
introduction of western innovations in all departments of life, the
general sense of the nation was to yield only so far as a change was
necessitated by the incompatibility of the old customs with the new
conditions imposed by the adoption of western civilisation. And among
the first to feel the effect of this reaction was the western style of
female dress; and our women fell back upon their national costume. It
was as well that the reversion to the old style took place before the
reforming spirit had gone too far, for, to tell the truth, the
Japanese woman seldom appears to advantage in a European dress. If she
looks graceful in her _kimono_, she cannot be equally prepossessing in
a bodice and a skirt; and those who are charming in a western costume
are the reverse in their native dress. The conditions which are needed
to give charm to the wearer of the _kimono_ are totally different to
the conditions which one associates with elegance in European dress.
The former require rounded or sloping shoulders, for square ones
would put the sides of the dress out of shape and interfere with the
graceful disposition of the sleeves. The body should be bent forward,
for if it were held straight or bent back, the dress at the breast
and the knot of the _obi_ would suffer; and for the same reason full
breasts are out of favour. The close-fitting skirt of the _kimono_
prevents the feet from being set far apart, and the wearer cannot take
long strides. Her feet are turned slightly inward and makes her wobble
a little as she walks. Such a gait would be very ungainly when a woman
puts on a European dress. It may be possible for her when she dons
European garments to assume another gait than that she is used to in
Japanese; but it is naturally very hard to throw off on occasion a
habit acquired from childhood.

But what really led to the discarding of the European dress was not so
much the uncomely form it presented as the expense and inconvenience
it entailed upon its wearer. It necessitates the possession of jewelry
which is useless in a Japanese dress; necklaces and bracelets are not
put on with the latter. The foreign dress is, moreover, extremely
inconvenient in a Japanese house. A man can squat in European clothes
without much difficulty if his trousers are baggy enough to allow the
knees to be doubled; and if they are creased, they may be set right
again with a little ironing. He can therefore visit his friends in
European clothes. With a woman the case is different. She cannot squat
in a European dress. Her corset would inflict on her excruciating
tortures as it gets out of shape when the body is bent forward in
squatting; she certainly could not bow her head to the mat in the
usual Japanese fashion. What trimmings she might have on her skirt
would be irretrievably spoilt; and if she once squatted, she
could not get up without assistance or going on all fours. In short,
the European dress cannot come into vogue until Japanese houses are
remodelled and furnished with chairs instead of mats and cushions.
Moreover, the expense of having a fair wardrobe of both European and
Japanese dresses deters many women from taking to the former since
the latter are absolutely indispensable.

Lovers of the picturesque may then rest assured that there is no
immediate prospect of the disappearance of the graceful _kimono_.
Largely as are the western clothes worn by Japanese men and boys,
there is not much danger of their totally supplanting the national
costume while the internal arrangement of the Japanese house remains
unchanged; and that transformation is, as we have already stated, to
be looked for in a very dim future. Still less probability is there
of a similar change in the costume of our women as it is even more
intimately connected than men’s clothes with domestic life. It is
indeed as well that it should be so, for much as we desire to make use
of the fruits of western civilisation, we would emphatically draw the
line when it comes to the appearance our wives and daughters shall
present at home. We may therefore leave out of consideration the
western costume as worn by Japanese women.

The Japanese female dress does not differ essentially from the male;
the distinction lies in its proportions and colours. There is
therefore no need to describe it in detail; it will suffice if we give
the points of difference. Thus, the body pieces are a little narrower
to fit the slighter forms of women; but they are longer, the length
being from four feet nine inches to five feet. The tuck at the hip is
not sewn in as in a man’s dress, but the body is left loose so that
the dress may be worn with a train or tucked at the hip with a sash.
The tuck is usually about eight inches. The neck-band is also much
wider than men’s, being four inches and a half, and longer by an inch
or more. The sleeves too are longer by two inches or more; but the
opening at the wrist is smaller. The sleeves are open for about a foot
from the lower extremity so as to allow the wide _obi_ to be worn
without inconvenience, and sewn on to the body pieces for about
ten inches from the top. The front and back edges of the body piece
are hemmed for four inches before they are sewn together and leave an
aperture of that length under the joints of the sleeve. This opening
is made in all female dresses and exposes the sides of the body to the
air; but it is hidden from view by the sleeve and the _obi_, and is
visible only when the sleeve is held up; the object of this aperture
is to give free play to the breast part of the dress. In all female
dresses the sleeves are left open and hemmed from their joints with
the body pieces to the lower end. The skirt of the wadded _kimono_ is
more heavily wadded than men’s and is rounded to show more of the
lining and the bulge of the wadding.

Under the _kimono_ a woman wears much the same clothing as a man;
but unlike him, she wears two loin-cloths. The lower one, which
is the loin-cloth proper, is a piece of bleached cotton wound round
the hips and coming down to the knees. It is called in Japanese the
“bath-cloth,” as it was formerly, and still is in some parts of the
country, worn when a woman takes a bath. The upper loin-cloth, called
the “hip-wrap,” is more ornamental; it is tied round the hips like
the bath-cloth, but comes down to the feet. It is usually made of
_mousseline de laine_ or crêpe, and is red for girls, of a gay colour
with fanciful patterns for young women, and white for matrons. This
hip-wrap is replaced in winter by what we call a “long chemise,” which
is practically a _kimono_ made without the tuck and of the exact
height of the wearer. Over the neck-band is sewn an ornamental band
called “half-band,” which is usually of crêpe, though some other light
silk may be used, red for young girls and of various colours, white,
black, violet, blue, or grey for grown-up persons. Flowers, birds, or
landscapes are embroidered on it with gold or silver threads or with
silk. This ornamental half-band is worn on the chemise or other
underwear next to the _kimono_. The _kimono_, the upper one if two are
worn, which is for home wear, is usually covered over the neck-band
with an over-band of satin.

Women wear, like men, _haori_ of various descriptions, the crested
_haori_ of black crêpe, the uncrested made of silk, striped, spotted,
or of other pattern, and the long _haori_, which though often
less wadded than men’s, reaches like theirs below the knees. A woman’s
_haori_ differs from a man’s, like the _kimono_, in having sleeves
open on the inner side and a loop-hole under the arm.

The _hakama_ is worn by school-girls and their teachers, and by some
of the court ladies. The girl’s _hakama_ differs from man’s in not
being divided. It is simply round like the European skirt; but it has
plaits which are not, however, so deep or so marked as men’s. It is
open, like theirs, at the sides near the _obi_ and tied in the same

The Japanese woman’s pride, however, is the _obi_. It is often the
most costly of all her apparel. It is about thirteen feet long and
thirteen and a half inches wide. The _obi_ for ordinary wear is made
by sewing together back to back two pieces of cloth, of which the face
is commonly of stiff stuff like satin and the lining of crêpe, or
other soft silk or cotton. But the _obi_ worn on formal occasions
consists of a single piece of double width, which is folded in two
lengthwise and seamed; it is made of taffety, satin, damask, or gold
or other brocade. The Chinese satin has at one end the name of its
loom in red thread; and imitation satins and sateens have similar
names at the same end; and this end is always exposed to view when
the _obi_ is worn. When sewn, the woman’s _obi_ is padded like men’s.


The tying of the _obi_, especially of the dress-_obi_, is by no means
a simple process. In the first place a woman puts on her dress in the
same way as a man, that is, she folds the front edges left over right,
and not right over left as in a European dress. When she has thus
folded her underwear, which she sometime ties round with a cloth cord
to keep it in place, she takes her _kimono_, single or double as the
case may be, and catching the two edges near the ends of the band,
holds them out behind her and raises them tightly until the skirt is
just at her ankles, that is, at the height at which she wishes it to
be, and then folding the edges stiffly one over the other, she ties
the dress at the hip with a cloth cord to prevent its slipping. Then
she arranges the upper half of the dress, putting the band in order
and pulling the loose part down so that the breast is pressed almost
flat, and ties the tuck just over the hips with a second cord. The
tuck is thus tied above and below; for this two different cords are
used in formal dresses, but for ordinary wear a single long narrow
sash of crêpe may be used for both purposes, the sash passing over
the tuck at the side. Next, the _obi_, if it is for ordinary wear, is
folded in two along its length and wound twice round the waist, thus
concealing the cord on the tuck and leaving at the back a foot or so
of one end, while the other end is three feet or more in length. The
former is folded lengthwise with the lining inside. The two ends are
tied in such a way that the doubled end comes out at the side slanting
downwards under the knot. The second end is, while being tied, folded
once with the lining outside and is pulled vertically so that the
folded part is held straight up; and it is drawn out until the length
above the knot is about the same as that remaining behind and then
dropped over the knot; and so, when it hangs down, its end or the fold
is higher than the end of the _obi_ just by the width of the knot,
that is, by a few inches. The end under the knot displays the face
and the fold itself the lining. Some people keep the knot from coming
loose by tying a cord over it round the _obi_, while others merely
tighten it when it slackens.

The _obi_ for ceremonial occasions is tied in the same way, only
that as it is of the same material on both sides, there is no
distinction of face and lining. When it is tied, a narrow sash with
a piece of board or stiff cardboard in the middle is put under the
vertical fold and raised above the level of the _obi_, and the ends
of the sash are tied in front and the knot is tucked under the _obi_.
This sash is a kind of bustle to keep the fold from falling. Next, the
fold is refolded inward, while the doubled end, instead of hanging out
as in the ordinary _obi_, is bent back and pushed under the fold. A
silk cord is then passed between the two faces of the fold along the
middle of the _obi_ and tightly fastened in front over the _obi_ by
means of a hook or buckle. This cord is intended to prevent the
doubled end and the fold, after the refold, from falling off. The hook
or buckle is usually in the form of a flower or some other simple
design in gold. Thus, it will be seen that in wearing the ceremonial
_obi_, a woman is tied twice each over and under it.


As the _obi_ is the most conspicuous part of a woman’s dress, the
_haori_, which would conceal it except in front, is not worn on
formal occasions. It is only worn at home or on an informal visit;
and in the absence of a _haori_ to display her crest on, the
woman has it dyed on her _kimono_, the number being three or five as
on the man’s _haori_. The formal dress is a suit of three _kimono_,
of which the second and lowest have white neck-bands. The skirt is
wadded much thicker than usual. Sometimes when it is too warm to wear
three _kimono_, the middle one is dispensed with and an extra band is
put on the lower _kimono_ and a false skirt sewn on to it to make it
look as if there were an intermediate _kimono_. The formal colour of
the uppermost _kimono_ is black, with five white crests; but except
on special occasions less sombre colours may be worn, of which the
favourite are blue, grey, and violet, all light-tinted. Underneath the
_kimono_ is the long chemise which is the only article of clothing
that is allowed to be bright-coloured. It is often expensive; and just
as men line their _haori_ with costly stuff which may or may not be
seen in company, so women expend as much money upon their chemises,
the skirt of which may be partly exposed to view as they walk. It is
commonly of figured crêpe, _habutaye_, or crêpe de Chine. Under the
chemise is the ordinary cotton underwear.

When she goes out on an informal visit, the Japanese woman usually
puts on a crested _haori_; but if it is only for a walk, the _haori_
may be plain. The _kimono_ may on such occasions be of any pattern,
only that when she makes a call, the band must be of the same cloth as
the _kimono_. At home a woman usually has on a black satin band as it
can be readily renewed, for owing to the liberal use of pomade on her
hair, the band is the part of her dress that is soonest soiled, and
hence the advantage of a band that can be easily changed. The part
of her dress which is, next to the band, most liable to be soiled is
the lap; for as we squat with our knees bent in front of us, we are
apt to lay in our laps whatever may be in our hands, and most women
therefore, except in families of higher position, wear aprons at home.
Those of the middle class take off their aprons when they go out;
but the wives and daughters of tradesmen and artisans wear them even
outdoors. Still, as it is not considered good form to have them on
when one receives calls, they should take them off before they go into
the parlour to welcome their visitors; as a matter of fact, however,
this is done only when the visitor is one of superior position
who must be treated with great respect. The apron covers the front
part of the _kimono_ below the _obi_, under which it is tied by a
cord attached to it. It is also worn by tradesmen and others whose
business it is to handle wares of any kind.


The ordinary _kimono_ is inconvenient for active work. Those whose
work requires a free movement of the limbs, commonly discard the long
sleeves and the skirt. Coolies and artisans wear tight-sleeved coats
and tight-fitting drawers of cotton. Women, too, who labour
outdoors have on similar clothes sometimes; but more frequently they
wear tight-sleeved _kimono_, the skirts of which are tucked up to the
knees to facilitate their walking. Women, however, who live indoors
but have to move about at their household work, do not care to put on
tight-sleeved _kimono_, and they tie up their sleeves with a cloth
cord when they are actively employed. They are often to be seen
dusting and sweeping the rooms with their sleeves tied up and a
towel on their heads. The _kimono_ appears indeed to be capable of
little improvement. The only concession that has been made to the
requirements of the latter-day school-girl is the contraction of the
sleeves. The “reformed dress,” as it is called, has large open sleeves
which can be tightened by means of a string. It is found very handy
and is worn by many school-girls. Reformed or unreformed, there is
this to be said for the Japanese woman’s dress that it does not suffer
in the matter of pockets or what serve as such from comparison with

[Illustration: THE REFORMED DRESS.]

There is then very little difference in the dress of a Japanese woman
indoors and out, except in the case of the formal dress. Even there
the form is the same. This uniformity of cut strikes one everywhere
in Japan; the dresses are all cast in the same mould. There may be
variations in the length of the sleeves or in the colour and texture
of the apparel; but even fickle fashion leaves the shape of the dress
unchanged; it only varies the stuff and the pattern.

Children’s clothes differ slightly from their elders’. Up to about ten
they often wear at home the tight-sleeved _kimono_. Boys, indeed, may
continue to put them on far into the teens; but girls are soon dressed
in _kimono_ of fancifully-figured crêpe or _mousseline de laine_, the
gayest of which are specially made for their wear. Their outdoor
_kimono_ have sleeves almost touching the ground, and their formal
dress is black with light patterns on the lower part of the sleeves
and round the skirt. Their _obi_ is folded almost perpendicularly
behind, the folded end coming close up to the shoulders; and over it
is tied a plain sash, usually of yellow or red crêpe, the knot being
tied at the side with the ends hanging down.


The girl, on reaching her sixteenth or seventeenth year, ceases to
be a child and becomes a _shinzo_, or maiden; she no longer puts
on gaily-coloured _kimono_, though she still retains the hip-wrap,
underwear sleeves, and band of crimson. At twenty-four, at which she
becomes a _toshima_, when she is supposed to be married, the colour of
her dress becomes more sober; the hip-wrap is white, the sleeves of
her underwear, though sometimes still red for a little while longer,
are oftener of a less conspicuous tint, and the band of blue, purple,
black, or other dark hues. For the first few years she may, in her
desire to conceal her age, affect the _shinzo’s_ costume; but when
she reaches thirty, she is an unmistakable _toshima_. This stage
terminates at forty, when she comes to be spoken of as approaching old
age. She is dressed soberly as if to avoid notice. Forty is pretty
early for a woman to be classified as old; but in former days old age
began at fifty when a man was considered unfit for business and made
over his name and property to his heir. We mature early and decline at
the same rate. Indeed, man, says a Japanese proverb, lives but for
fifty years and rarely does his span extend to seventy years. Our
expectation of life is, then, two decades less than the Psalmist’s.
Impressed by its brevity, the Japanese woman knows that she ceases to
please after two score and unmurmuringly gives up hope. She does not
allow herself to be deceived when silver locks begin to appear among
the raven; and by her dress and coiffure she frankly confesses the
stage she has reached in the journey of life.



  Queues—Hair-cutting—Moustaches and beards—Shaving—Women’s
  coiffure—Children’s hair—“Inverted maidenhair”—_Shimada_—“Rounded
  chignon”—Other forms—The lightest coiffure—Bars—Combs—Ornaments
  round the chignon—Hair-pins—The hair-dresser—The kind of hair
  esteemed—Lots of complexion—Girls painted—Women’s paint—Blackening
  of teeth—Shaving of eyebrows—Washing the face—Looking-glasses.

Among the earliest innovations after the Restoration to which the
Japanese people took kindly was the clipping of their queues. In the
old days men had little queues on the top of their heads. For this
purpose they shaved the crown and gathering the hair around, tied it
at the top with a piece of paper string; then, they bent the queue and
bringing it down forward over the forehead, fastened it with the ends
of the same string so that the queue was tied tightly to the first
knot. The end of the queue was cut straight. Fashion often changed in
the making of the queue, though its general form remained unaltered.
The bend, for instance, between the two knots might vary in size and
shape, and the queue itself in length and thickness, its girth being
regulated by the extent of the tonsure at the crown. Or the hair might
be full or tight at the sides and the back. The front was usually
shaved. In short, there was a wide scope for taste in the dressing of
the queue.

These queues were untied and remade every second or third day, and
the head was shaved at the same time. Hair-dressing was therefore
a troublesome business, especially as one had generally to get
assistance for it. Consequently, when the cropping of the hair came
into vogue, people eagerly adopted it as it saved them time and
expense. At first they cut the hair long, letting it half hide the
ears and come down to the neck behind; but it became shorter by
degrees until now the fashion is to crop it to about a quarter
of an inch, presenting a head which is appropriately known as

[Illustration: QUEUES.]

Although pictures of old Japanese warriors represent them with
moustaches, the custom seems to have been under the Tokugawa rule to
be clean shaven about the mouth; only aged men indulged in beards,
while whiskers grown by themselves were almost unknown. After the
Restoration government officials began to grow moustaches, and for a
long time the favourite way of mimicking an official was to twirl an
imaginary moustache. But professional men of all sorts now let them
grow, so that they have ceased to be characteristic of officials.
Tradesmen, artisans, and coolies, however, are still clean shaven, or
at most have bristles of a few days’ growth.

Japanese barbers shave not only the lips, cheeks, and chin, and the
borders of the hair, but they also pass their razors over
the whole face, not sparing the forehead, the eyelids between the
eyelashes and the eyebrows, the cheek-bones, the nose, and the
ear-lobes, and unless their victim objects, they will insert a small
narrow razor into his nostrils and ears and twirl it rapidly round
with great dexterity. The shaving of the nostrils is easier in a
Japanese than it would be in a European on account of their greater
width, and another advantage arising from the shortness of the nose
is that the Japanese barber does not offer an indignity to his client
by tweaking his nose when he shaves his upper lip.

[Illustration: THE “203-METRE HILL” AND “PENTHOUSE.”]

Troublesome as was the man’s queue in the old days, it was a trifle
compared with the woman’s coiffure. In the early days of the present
regime when men began to cut their hair, many women followed suit
and cropped theirs as short. The government, however, interfered and
prohibited the cutting of the hair by women other than widows and
grandames with whom it was a time-honoured custom. In 1887 when the
pro-European craze was at its height, many women tied their hair in
European style; but it was subsequently abandoned by those who found
that by tying the hair in this manner, they spoilt it for the
Japanese coiffure; for having been accustomed to oil it well for their
native style, they discovered that the hair, when bound without any
pomade, became very brittle and snapped short. Still, the European
style is now largely adopted because it does not require expert
assistance and the services of the professional hair-dresser can be
dispensed with. Various styles are in vogue. Soon after the fall
of Port Arthur in 1905, a high knot came into fashion under the
formidable title of “203-metre hill knot,” in celebration of the
capture of that famous hill which was practically the key to the great
fortress. The favourite at present with our women is a low pompadour
known as the “penthouse style.” But though the European way of
dressing the hair has become very popular, it is not likely so long as
the _kimono_ remains unchanged that the Japanese coiffure, awkward as
it is compared with the European, will be entirely superseded by the

Newly-born infants are shaven; but as they grow up, a little circle
at the crown is left untouched. At first the circle is small, but it
grows larger with years; and at six or seven, boys let all their hair
grow and crop them when too long, just like their elders. Girls,
before they leave this “poppy-head” stage as it is called, have little
queues on the crown, tied less closely than men’s in the old days.
Next, at ten or more, they have their hair done in a more complicated
manner; sometimes the tresses are tied together at the crown and made
into bows, and sometimes the hair is gathered at the top and
parted into two tresses, right and left, which are made into vertical
loops, joined together at the side, the joint being covered with a
piece of ornamental paper. It has of late become an almost universal
custom with school-girls to tie their hair with a ribbon and let it
down loose or plaited on their backs.

[Illustration: YOUNG GIRLS’ HAIR.]

From fifteen to well over forty, the favourite style is that known as
“inverted maidenhair.” The hair is in this coiffure first combed into
one bundle, except a triangular tuft over the forehead. It is tied at
the root and divided into two equal tresses, right and left, which are
then looped, the end of either tress being combed into the root of the
other; and the two loops are turned down and brought behind the crown,
and kept in place by being tied together to the first knot. The hair
at the sides and the back is swollen out by a dexterous jerk of a comb
or hairpin from underneath when it is first gathered. That at the
sides is further combed with a rough comb, while the hair at the back
is held in place by a spring hairpin. This is the lightest coiffure as
false hair is not generally required; but it is not the formal way of
dressing the hair.


For young women the formal coiffure is the _shimada_, so called from
the name of the town on the high road between Tokyo and Kyoto, where
it first came into fashion. In this the hair is gathered and tied
tightly at or near the crown together with a large tuft of false hair.
The tip is folded in forward; the hair is then folded twice in the
same direction as the tip so that the edge of the fold is half an inch
or less behind the knot; and the whole is turned over the knot in such
a way that the edge of the second fold is forward of the crown. Then,
by a string passing over the knot the fold is tied down. The chignon
is formed by spreading out the hair; sometimes a piece of paper, of
the size of the chignon, is well pomaded and put under the surface
of the chignon to help it to keep in place. The size of the chignon
varies with the wearer’s taste; but, generally speaking, a young
woman’s is larger than her elder sister’s. Its position too varies,
as it depends upon that of the first knot, whether over or behind the
crown. In the formal coiffure of a young lady of social standing it is
close to the crown; but girls in a lower station of life or anxious to
be thought _chic_ prefer the chignon to be more to the back of the head.


The _marumage_, or “rounded chignon,” of married women is formed by
tying the hair at the crown as in the _shimada_, and then making a
loop at the end. This is wrapped round with a piece of ornamental
cloth, usually of silk and dyed, and then folded forward; a small bar
is passed through the two sides of the loop and the main tuft; and
the latter is folded forward twice and the bar is brought down near
the crown. The hair behind is spread out into a chignon. Unlike the
_shimada_, this chignon is mostly back of the knot; it is held down by
a string tied to the knot and the loop. False hair is used, but to a
less extent than in the _shimada_; and a little paper pillow wadded
with cotton is put under the chignon to hold it in place. A small part
of the loop appears on each side of the chignon around the bar and
displays the piece of ornamental cloth. The size of the chignon varies
with the age of its wearer, the largest being adopted by young women
and the smallest by old matrons.

There are said to be more than a hundred different ways, new and
old, of dressing the hair; and even at the present time there are
a score of them in vogue. But as most of them are combinations or
modifications of the three coiffures above mentioned, we need not
describe them. In all three the forelock is taken in a triangular tuft
and tied with a piece of string, and held down with a comb just in
front of the knot on the crown.

Both the _shimada_ and the _marumage_ are heavy as they require false
hair. The hair needs also to be well oiled. The hair is done once in
three or four days, but is seldom washed, not more than once a month.
The head is consequently heated and a headache is often the result.
Lighter than either of these is the “inverted maidenhair,” which needs
no false hair unless the natural hair is too thin. It is preferred
when one is at home, and especially when a long spell of either of the
other forms of coiffure has ended in a headache. It is also in favour
sometimes for the reason that it does not, like the others, require
hair ornaments. A Japanese woman has no need of jewelry as it is not
the custom to wear brooches, ear-rings, necklaces, or bracelets; and
the only articles of gold or silver are, if we except the watch and
chain and the finger-rings, which are all of recent introduction, her
pipe, the clasp of the _obi_-fastener, ornamental hair-pins, and
sometimes other articles for the hair.

[Illustration: BARS, COMBS, AND BANDS.]

The married woman’s coiffure requires a bar through the chignon. This
bar varies in length with the width of the chignon, beyond which it
appears from a quarter to half an inch. The regulation bar is square
or oblong in section with flat or slightly rounded ends. It
should be made of transparent, light-yellow tortoise-shell; but dark
tortoise-shell or lacquered wood with gold figures is also worn. There
are artists of high repute who make a speciality of the designing and
lacquering of these bars. Inferior kinds are made of black lacquered
wood or celluloid. Sometimes floral or other designs in gold or silver
are attached to the ends of bars intended for young women.

The comb, on formal occasions, should be of the same material as the
bar. Such combs are usually of light-yellow tortoise-shell; they are
worn in front of the chignon and hold down the tip of the hair over
the forehead. They have curved backs and straight ends, and are
thicker than those used in hair-dressing, which are of boxwood. Other
ornamental combs are of various shapes; they may be curved toward the
tips, or may be longer and narrower or more rounded and wider than
the tortoise-shells. They are made, like the bars, of lacquered wood,
common tortoise-shell, or celluloid. The commonest kinds are of
boxwood. The combs used for combing the side-hair are wider at one end
than at the other, while those for gathering in stray locks are only
about an inch wide, close-toothed, and with a long, pointed handle,
and for removing scurf fine-toothed double combs are used.

In the case of the _marumage_ and sometimes of the _shimada_, the knot
of the root is hidden from sight by tying around it a thin strip of
metal, or a string of paste or coral beads. In the _shimada_ a narrow
strip of white paper is also sometimes worn. The piece of cloth wound
round the loop of the _marumage_ is usually of plain common silk
crimpled or netted, and often mottled. That worn by young girls in
coiffure that requires such pieces is plain red; but their elders
prefer quieter tints.

The greatest variety is, however, to be seen in ornamental hair-pins.
These hair-pins have mostly two legs, though very simple ones are
one-legged. They are made of horn, ivory, wood, metal, or celluloid,
and have above the fork, if two-legged, some ornament, a bead, or a
design in metal, horn, ivory, bone, or other material. These designs,
if of the better quality, consist of figures in gold on lacquer
background or on ivory, or chasings of gold or silver. The
hair-pins worn on formal occasions by young girls are surmounted with
a large flower in metal, from which hangs a red silk tassel. Grown-up
women set most value on silver or gold pins with a coral bead,
about half an inch in diameter. The coral most esteemed is pink or
flesh-coloured, though one of a darker hue is preferred by some
people. In the commoner kinds the legs are of German silver as
wood or horn is liable to snap. There is no rule as to the length of
these hair-pins. They are stuck in under the chignon, or a little in
front or behind, but never in the chignon itself.


Hair-dressing is no light task; and though a woman may be able
to do her own hair, she almost invariably gets it done by somebody
else as a great deal has to be done at the back of the head.
The professional female hair-dresser is therefore an established
institution; she visits most houses at regular intervals. She has
usually an assistant, or rather an apprentice, who loosens and combs
the hair and prepares it for her to dress. A successful hair-dresser
probably makes more money than any other professional of her sex. The
geisha’s receipts may be larger, but her expenses are correspondingly
great so that her net profit is comparatively small, whereas the
hair-dresser needs neither capital nor stock, beyond a few combs, and
even these are often unnecessary as she uses those of her client.
Besides her regular charges, which are not heavy, she receives many
presents from those who are anxious for her to come at regular
intervals or out of turn, as when they are going out to a party, a
theatre, or some other place of public resort. She is also a great
gossip, a disseminator of scandals, and in this respect she has the
advantage over the barber who has himself no mean reputation in that
direction in Japan as everywhere else; for whereas the barber has to
retail his discourse more or less in public before the other clients
who are awaiting their turn, the woman purveys her news in the privacy
of the lady’s toilet-room. And as the discussion of her neighbour’s
private affairs and the tearing of her character is no less a
favourite occupation with the Japanese woman than with her European
sister, it is not always for the sole purpose of having her hair done
that she eagerly waits for the hair-dresser’s visit.

[Illustration: THE HAIR-DRESSER.]

Our hair is always black until it begins to turn gray; and women
esteem glossy-black, straight hair. Curly hair is held in such horror
that it is said to spoil any face however comely in other respects.
And the hair-dresser’s apprentice, when she comes to undo her client’s
hair for re-dressing, first loosens it and combs it to free it of
tangles, and then with a cloth dipped in boiling water, straightens
it until all traces of former bends and twists have disappeared, and
applies to it a pomade to keep it from curling or getting out of
shape. Next to the glossy appearance of the hair, its borders receive
careful attention. There should be no clusters of short hairs about
the borders, which should show a clear demarcation between the
hair and the skin. Hairy borders are regarded to be as great
blemishes as clumsy hands and feet. The short hair over the forehead
is, however, tolerated as hardly any one is free from it; but at the
same time the border over the forehead should rise from either temple
in a slight curve until it is right over the forehead when it should
meet the other in a faint downward curve. From a fanciful resemblance
of such a border to the outline of Mount Fuji, the forehead is then
known as the “Fuji forehead,” and highly admired as an important
feature of personal beauty.

The Japanese woman does not allow any hair or even down to grow on her
face, and from time to time shaves the whole face like the other sex.
We are not a hairy race, and our women have on the whole very smooth
faces. We hardly ever see them with moustaches or stumps of hairs
on their faces. It is not improbable that this shaving of the face
contributes to the early loss of complexion among the Japanese women;
but the arch-enemy of the clear complexion is certainly the paint, for
painting is an almost universal custom in Japan.

Young girls are painted quite white and present a somewhat ghastly
appearance, for the paint is a thick paste of white powder, coarser
than _poudre de riz_, and is daubed over the face with the hands. The
neck and the upper part of the breast are also painted; but the paint,
it must be admitted, is too conspicuous to be mistaken for the natural
colour of the skin, and the Japanese girl knows it. If the hair hung
over her neck and face in fringes or ringlets, we might suspect her of
attempting to pass the paint for her own skin; but the hair is combed
up into a knot at the crown and the borders of the hair are strongly
marked on the forehead and the neck. As, however, the hair is usually
thick over the forehead, the contrast there between the paint and the
natural skin may not be striking; but at the back it is impossible to
conceal the difference, and as if to make a virtue of necessity, the
paint is daubed at the borders in a very angular zigzag, which
emphasises the difference between it and the brown skin.

The paint is laid on less thickly as the girl grows up; and though
many women, especially those from the country, make a liberal use of
it, the custom in Tokyo is to apply a dilute solution lightly so
that one can hardly tell at a distance whether the face is painted or
not. The neck, however, is more thickly painted. Vermilion is applied
to the lips in degrees varying with the age.

The blackening of the teeth is fast going out of fashion; nowadays in
Tokyo, only middle-aged women and their seniors take to it, though
young married women among the lower classes are sometimes to be seen
with blackened teeth. In ancient times men of rank and position
blackened their teeth; it was a sign of good birth, and the expression
“white teeth” was synonymous with plebeianism. This custom was
subsequently confined to court nobles, and was later still adopted by
married women. The idea seems to be that as black is the only colour
that remains unchanged, the teeth were blackened in token of their
owner’s constancy and fidelity.

The eyebrows are shaven in infants and little children, especially
girls, with the object of making them grow thick. Women touch them up
with Indian ink or burnt-cork powder. They used to shave them off upon
marriage at the same time as the first blackening of the teeth; but
this custom is, like the other, dying out. Many women, however, shave
off their eyebrows when they reach the age of forty or thereabouts, as
they prefer to have none at all to having them thin and irregular.

Before they commence their toilet, women take a bath or wash their
faces, necks, and shoulders over a tub unless it is early morning in
cold weather. Soap is a foreign innovation; and the same purpose was
served by the use of fine bran powder obtained by sifting rice after
its final cleaning in a mortar. A handful of this powder is put into a
little cloth bag, which is then wetted and rubbed against the skin;
and the turbid water which exudes through the texture of the bag is
very efficacious in cleaning the skin. It is now used together with
soap. Young women sometimes put other substances with the bran into
the bag, such as pulverised egg-shells which are said to remove stains
from the skin and the powered bark of a species of magnolia.

Our women, squatting as they do at their toilet, do not need a
dressing-table, instead of which they set before them a small wooden
box with three or four drawers and surmounted with a square
looking-glass hinged on two supports which stand on the box. In the
old days when glass was unknown or at least very rare, a metal disk
highly polished on one face and with a handle was set on a stand.
Now, however, sheet-glass mirrors are very common, though those of
plate-glass are less used owing to their higher prices as they have,
unlike the sheet-glass, to be imported from abroad.



  Boots and shoes _versus_ clogs and sandals—Inconvenience of
  foreign footgear—Shoes and boots at private houses—Clogs and
  sandals able to hold their own—How clogs are made—Plain clogs—Matted
  clogs—Sandals—Straw sandals—Headgear—Woman’s hood—Overcoats and
  overdresses—Common umbrellas—Better descriptions of
  umbrellas—Lanterns—Better kinds of lanterns.

European clothes are, as we have seen, replacing the Japanese male
dress in schools, public offices, and other quarters, and are checked
in their advance only by the unaltered state of Japanese homes. In the
matter of footgear the case is almost similar, only that boots and
shoes have superseded clogs and sandals to a far greater extent than
coats and trousers have the _kimono_. For people in foreign clothes
almost invariably wear foreign footgear; it is only in wet weather
that one sees sometimes a Japanese in European clothes walking through
the mud in clogs instead of boots; and a great many in native clothes
wear boots and shoes. There are plenty of people who go in _hakama_ to
schools and public and private offices; but where these buildings are
in foreign style as most of them are, people are not allowed to enter
with their clogs, and the only alternative is that they must wear
sandals or boots. But as the sandals cover the feet with dust in dry
weather and with mud in wet, many persons prefer to walk in clogs and
change them for sandals at the school or office; but as this means
that they must leave at the entrance their sandals at night and their
clogs in the daytime, they run the risk of losing them. Hence, there
is a steady increase in the number of those who wear boots or shoes,
which if one gets used to them, are easier to walk in than clogs or

Boots and shoes go very well with the _hakama_, which, being loose and
wide, does not rub against them; but they are not so convenient when
we are in _kimono_ only. The leather, by rubbing against the
_kimono_, wears it, especially if silk-lined, much more quickly than
do clogs; for in a Japanese dress it is not the thongs of the clogs
so much as the socks that rub against the lining of the _kimono_. And
these socks naturally wear it out more slowly if they are of calico,
and not of cotton.

In going into a Japanese house, one has to take off the clogs,
sandals, boots, or shoes; and consequently it is more convenient to go
in either of the former two as they can be slipped off without the
least trouble. And also, as the socks are visible in wearing clogs, we
seldom go out in shabby ones; but when we put on boots or shoes, we
not unfrequently forget there is a hole in the sole of a sock, or it
may be that we put up with worn-out socks believing there would be
no need to take off our boots until we come home, and then, being
suddenly called by business to a private house, we repair thither and
on pulling off our boots, see with dismay the toes peeping out of the
socks. Another disadvantage of boots when we visit a private house is
that felt in winter, which has already been referred to in a former
chapter; that is, though there are braziers for the hands, no
provisions are made for the feet which are soon benumbed through
the socks, which however thick they may be, are not so warm as the
Japanese socks, especially when the latter are under cover of the
_haori_. Still, boots and shoes are often unavoidable when we pay a
chance visit; but then the boots should be elastic-webbed, for if we
call with laced boots on, the servant who answers the door has to wait
patiently in the draught until we take them off. The situation is
aggravated when the visitor leaves; for then the host and his servant,
and if he is a friend of the family, the wife and the children, will
come to the porch to see him off and remain there until he leaves the
house. If the caller has any tact, he will merely tuck in the laces
and walk out with his boots flopping and tie them when he is out of
the premises. Many visitors, however, think nothing of keeping the
whole family shivering in the cold while they leisurely lace their
boots, for probably they too are put to the same ordeal when they have
visitors in laced boots. For their greater handiness in this respect
shoes were at first almost exclusively worn; but now boots are
supplanting them to a large extent on account of their superior ease
in walking.

As these disadvantages, then, attach to boots and shoes when we wear a
_kimono_ or visit a Japanese house, clogs and sandals are able to hold
their own against the invasion of foreign footgear, and are likely to
continue in favour so long as we are obliged to go indoors barefooted
or in socks only, which means, while the interior of Japanese houses
is unchanged and people squat on mats instead of sitting in chairs. As
it will be a long time before the interior can be Europeanised, the
clogs and sandals will for many a year to come remain the national
footgear of the Japanese. Our description of the Japanese dress would
therefore be incomplete without a reference to the clogs and sandals.

To begin with the clogs, they are either plain or matted. A plain clog
consists essentially of a piece of wood, oblong or with rounded ends,
just large enough to cover the sole of the foot, and supported by two
flat, oblong pieces of wood, running from side to side and one behind
the other. The sole-piece has three holes, one on each side just
in front of the hind support and one in the middle in front of
the forward support. A thick thong of hemp is passed through the
side-holes from above and the ends are tied together under the
sole-piece; the part on the upper face of the sole-piece, which is
covered with cloth or leather, is just long enough to be stretched out
to the third hole; a similarly-covered thong is passed through a hole
pierced in the top of the first thong and its ends are pushed through
the hole in the sole-piece and tied in a knot on the nether side. The
second thong thus holds down the first, which is separated from the
sole-piece by a distance just enough to pass the toes between them. In
wearing a clog the toes are slipped in under the side-thong and the
top-thong is held tightly between the big and the second toe. The
side-thong presses on the joints of the toes and prevents the clog
from slipping off. If the top-thong is gripped tightly, the toes will
naturally be bent and press down the fore-end of the clog and, the
top-thong acting as a fulcrum, the hind-end will press against the
heel. Thus, there will be little difficulty in walking in clogs. But
if the grip be relaxed, the hind-end will drop and, in walking, be
dragged on the ground; and as it will hurt the toes to be always in
tight grip, the clogs are very often merely hanging on to the toes and
are consequently dragged along. It is this dropping and dragging of
the hind-end which makes the clogs clatter so noisily on the stone
pavement and wooden flooring.

[Illustration: PLAIN CLOGS.]

Plain clogs vary in height; they are cut out of a single piece of wood
or else have the sole-piece made separately from the supports. Those
for rainy weather are five or six inches high; the supports are made
separately and fit into grooves on the nether side of the sole-piece,
and the thongs are covered with leather. There is a toe-cap to serve
as mud-guard, made of thick waterproof paper or leather and held down
by two pieces of twine from its ends, which are tied behind the hind
support. There is a similar kind, much shorter and without a toe-cap,
which is put on in fine weather. But the favourite form with men at
present is cut out of a single piece of wood; the thongs are covered
with cloth or leather, preferably the latter. The rain clogs for women
have their edges and nether sides often varnished black.

Matted clogs are mostly of a single piece; the two ends are rounded;
the under-side of the toe-end slants downward so that the part
touching the ground is a thin, angular edge, while the hind support
is comparatively thick. The hole for the top-thong is enlarged on the
nether side so that the knot of the thong can be enclosed in it and
a metal cover tacked on it to keep the knot clean. This is a wise
precaution, because the top-thong is the weakest part of the clog; if
one stumbles, for instance, the thong is strained and often snaps, and
it has to be renewed. The matting which is woven fine with rushes, is
tacked on the sole-piece. In the clogs for women the hind support is
large, being of the same form as the hind-end of the sole-piece and
leaving just space enough for tying the thong ends. In those for young
girls the supports touch each other with a cavity within for tying the
thong ends; these clogs are painted black, brown, or red; and those
for very little girls have often tiny bells in the cavity, which
tinkle as their wearer toddles along. There is another variety for
women, in which the hind support is mortised as in the rain clogs. The
thongs are covered with leather or dark-coloured silk or hemp cloth
for men, while the coverings for women are mostly of silk, cotton, or
hemp cloth, the commonest being heavy woven silk, plush, velvet, and
velveteen, and those for girls are usually of red or purple
velvet or plush. Clogs, especially of the better kind, and thongs are
sold separately, and they are fitted while the customer waits. The
best clogs are made of paulownia wood and those of inferior quality
are of cryptomeria and other common wood, while the supports, if made
separately, are of oak for better qualities and beech for inferior

[Illustration: MATTED CLOGS.]

Sandals are made of matting or straw. Matted sandals are the lightest
and easiest to wear of all footgear; but they are apt to cover the
feet with dust in dry weather and to become sodden and muddy in wet
weather or after rain. They are comfortable only on dry hard ground.
Common sandals are lined on the sole with strands of hemp. Another
variety has a thick wooden sole in lateral sections so as to allow the
matting to bend freely. But the sandals of the best quality, which are
at present very popular and known as “snow-sandals,” though
they are unfit for walking in the snow, have soles of untanned hide
with a flat piece of iron at the heels to prevent their slipping;
but the feet, especially if socked, slip on the smooth matting unless
the thong is held very tightly, which defect renders these sandals
unsuitable for fast walking. Still another kind, also very popular, is
lined with caoutchouc.

[Illustration: MATTED SANDALS.]

Straw sandals, on the other hand, are fitted for running or long
walks. The thongs, which are of straw, are tied over the toes and
around the foot just over the ankle. Though these thongs are apt at
first to cut the feet if unsocked, they are easy and comfortable when
one gets used to them. They are worn by coolies and others whose
business it is to be constantly on their feet. Unfortunately, they
soon become sodden in rain or over a muddy road; but as they are very
cheap, they are frequently changed in a long journey. Cast-off
straw sandals are among the commonest sights on the road on a rainy

[Illustration: STRAW SANDALS.]

Next to the covering for the feet, the most important article of
outdoor wear is the headgear. In the old times a majority of the
people went bareheaded; and even now hats are often worn for
appearance rather than from necessity. Except in very cold weather,
there is little difference in the temperature within doors and
without, and one does not feel it necessary to wear a hat in the
open air. There are still people who go about bareheaded except in
midsummer and midwinter. With European clothes we naturally wear
hats, but with Japanese clothes there is no such invariable custom.
However, the habit grown with foreign clothes has passed on to the
national dress, and now bowlers, wideawakes, chimney pots, Panamas,
straw hats, and caps are in their season to be seen everywhere. The
hats used in the old days served as sunshades no less than as mere
head-coverings. Of these the black-varnished, wooden hat, shaped like
a flattened cone, which was worn by the military class, has entirely
disappeared. Street-vendors and pedlars still wear in the summer heat
large, flattish, round hats of bamboo-sheaths, which are light but
very fragile, while mushroom-like hats of spliced bamboo covered with
white or black cloth are extensively worn by coolies. A rush-hat deep
enough to cover the whole face but with a peep-hole for the eyes,
which was formerly worn by samurai out of employment to avoid
recognition, is now worn for the same reason by fortune-tellers at the
roadside and by prisoners under trial on their way to the law-court.
Convicted prisoners, however, wear the mushroom-hat.

[Illustration: OLD HEADGEAR.]

Women wear nothing on their heads except in midwinter for fear of
deranging their elaborate coiffure. The large chignon is as great a
protection against heat, cold, and wind as any European bonnet. In
winter, however, women wear a hood of _mousseline de laine_ or crêpe
lined with common silk. It is oblong in shape, being five feet
long by about two wide; it is folded in two and at one side, about a
foot from the fold, the edges are sewn together for an inch. The loop
thus formed is the face-opening. The hood is put carefully over the
head so that the face is visible at the opening, and a loop of string
on either side of the fold is passed over the ear to keep the hood in
place; and the ends of the hood are brought forward, folded loosely
over the nose, mouth, and throat, and tied together behind on the
neck. The hood which lies lightly on the head can be taken off without
deranging the hair to any extent. Women are expected to take off the
hood when they meet an acquaintance in the street, though they omit to
do so if he is an intimate friend. The hood keeps the head, neck, and
shoulders very warm.

[Illustration: A HOOD.]

At one time shawls were much in vogue and worn together with the hood;
but they have of late fallen out of favour. Their place is taken by
“azuma-coats,” which are overdresses worn over the _kimono_. They
resemble the latter in form, except that they are looser and have much
wider bands which come down to the skirt and dispense with gores
altogether. In the latest forms the sleeves are very large; the front
is double-breasted with the throat open; and the overlapping parts
button at the breast by means of a loop and knot and are tied at the
hip with a string. They are made of silk. They are vulgarly known as
“rag-concealers,” as many women put them on when they go out to hide
the shabby dresses underneath. Men’s favourite overcoat for the
_kimono_ is a kind of Inverness cape, with a long skirt to cover the
_kimono_ and large arm-holes for the sleeves. These are also made of
wool. Among the lower classes there are still men in Tokyo who wear,
as do peasants in the country, a straw rain-coat which covers the
body and the sleeves, but leaves the legs bare; they are unpleasant
neighbours in an electric car on a rainy day. The majority, however,
especially coolies, messengers, and postmen, put on a coat shaped like
the _haori_ and made of waterproof oil-paper or rubber-cloth.

There is a great variety in umbrellas. The Japanese umbrella, as
may be seen from the innumerable samples to be found the world over,
has bamboo ribs and stem and is covered with oil-paper and
surmounted with a thick paper cap into which the ribs run. It is
a heavy clumsy article; and it cannot be used like the European
umbrella, in place of a walking-stick in fine weather, as we should be
afraid of knocking the cap off if either end touched the ground. It
has to be carried with the handle downward after a rain to let the
water drip off. Its only advantages are its cheapness and its size as
it is large enough to shelter the whole body from rain. The common
kind, such as is used by servants going out on an errand and by the
poorer classes, is of plain oiled paper marked with the name, usually
the first syllable, of its owner, and his trade sign if he is an
artisan or tradesman, and sometimes his address as well. It can be
readily identified; and one cannot therefore put up, as if it were
one’s own, in broad daylight an umbrella with one’s neighbour’s name
and address plainly written on it. Besides, as these umbrellas are
very cheap, it would be hardly worth while making off with them.

[Illustration: AN OVERDRESS.]

Umbrellas of the better sort have black caps with concentric rings in
black and red on the covering, though light-yellow rings are also
to be found among them. They are known as “serpents’ eyes” from a
fanciful resemblance thereto of these rings. They are, however, being
superseded by foreign umbrellas with iron ribs and cloth covers which
are more convenient to carry. Gigantic umbrellas are sometimes set up
for shading street-stalls. Sunshades resemble the “serpents’ eyes” in
form, except that the paper is not oiled and the centres and rings are
blue or white; but they too are going out of use. The sunshades which
find such a large sale abroad with gay pictures and flowers painted on
them, are used in Japan by children only, especially by little girls.

The streets of Tokyo are ill-lighted. Street-lamps set up by the
municipality are comparatively few; and what light there is in most
streets comes from the lamps hung over the gates and front doors of
private houses; and where these houses are far apart, one has to walk
in absolute darkness. Hence, at night many people carry lanterns to
light them over ruts, mire, and diggings. The general make of the
Japanese lantern is too well known everywhere to need special mention.
They are all collapsible. The simplest and cheapest form used
by wayfarers is the telescopic lantern, which is often given at
tea-houses and restaurants to their customers when they wish to walk
home. It is cylindrical when open, and the diameter of the body being
less than that of the top and bottom which are made of a thin piece of
wood, the body is concealed between them when closed and the lantern
can be readily carried in the pocket. It is held by a string attached
to the top. The lantern used by coolies and errand-boys is similarly
shaped, but of stronger material, and has a bow, the ends of which are
fixed to the top and bottom to keep the lantern stretched. The top is
not open as in the other, but has a hinged lid which when closed,
keeps out the wind. The lantern commonly carried in the streets is
spherical and has a bamboo handle attached to the top by a piece of
wire. The lanterns which are so extensively exported abroad are
similarly shaped; but the red or red and white kinds are in Japan hung
only at festivals or suspended in festoons over shop fronts at opening
sales and on other special occasions. The lanterns used by tradesmen
and artisans, are commonly marked with their trade or firm names in
large black characters on the body, while those of private families
are adorned with their crests.

[Illustration: LANTERNS.]

There are also round and bulging kinds, sometimes quite spherical and
sometimes more elongated, stretched out by a bow and having a hook
attached to the top, so that they can be carried about or hung on
to bars. They have also lids like the coolies’ lanterns. They are
especially used at fires; indeed, they form a distinctive feature in
the confusion and disorder which invariably prevail on such occasions.
There is another kind, known as the horseman’s lantern, which is
spherical, with a roof over the top which is open; the handle is of
lacquered wood, within which is a piece of whalebone with its end
attached to the lantern, and by means of this whalebone the handle can
be lengthened at will. This lantern is also used by foot-passengers
among the better classes. All lanterns have a round nail sticking up
from the centre of the bottom, on which the candle is fixed; for the
Japanese candle which is made of vegetable wax, has a hollow paper
wick. These candles have, when they are set in a candlestick, to be
snuffed from time to time; but the swing of the lantern facilitates
the combustion of the wick, and the candles rarely need snuffing when
they are being carried in the street.



  Busy life at home—Discomforts of early morning—Ablutions—Off to
  school and office—Smoking—Giving orders—Morning
  work—Washing—Needlework—The work-box—Japanese way of
  sewing—Ironing—Remaking clothes—Home duties—Bath—Evening—Early

Many foreigners think that Japanese women must lead a pretty dull
life as they can have little to do in a house bare of furniture. But
whether their lives be dull or not compared with the lives of women in
other countries, they certainly are not idle. They do not, it is true,
go out much; it is a red-letter day with them when they visit a public
place in the flower-season or betake themselves to the theatre. But
at home they are kept all day to their work. The very scarcity of
furniture in a Japanese room implies constant sweeping and tidying;
and what with the care of children, making and unmaking of clothes,
and superintending of the kitchen, the Japanese housewife has by no
means an easy time of it.

But to begin with the early morning. In Japanese houses there are, as
has been already stated, no rooms exclusively set apart for sleeping.
The beds can be laid anywhere on the mats. The bed consists of one or
two thickly-wadded mattresses of cotton or silk, usually three feet
wide by about six feet long, that is, nearly the size of a mat. These
are laid on the mats and over them a large, thickly-wadded cover of
the shape of a winter _kimono_ with open sleeves and a quilt, also
heavily wadded, of about the same length as the bed but wider. They
are both of silk or cotton, figured or striped, with linings of a
dark-blue colour. They both have a black velvet band where the
sleeper’s face touches them. The two are used in winter; but in spring
and autumn only one, usually the _kimono_-like cover, is thrown
over the sleeper. In midsummer, even that is too hot, and is replaced
by an ordinary lined _kimono_ or a thinly-wadded quilt. The pillow
for men is a long round bolster filled with bran; but women, whose
coiffure would be deranged by such a pillow, lay their heads on a
small bran bolster, two inches or so in diameter, which is wrapped
in paper and tied on the top of a wooden support. It is very
uncomfortable at first, though most women are used to it. As the
bolster soon gets hard, the skin about the ear often becomes red and
rough if one sleeps all night on the same side. Though the beds may be
spread anywhere, their places are always fixed for the members of the
family. The master and mistress sleep in the parlour or some other
large room with the youngest children, the mother with the baby in her
bed and the father sometimes with the next youngest in his. The rest
of the children sleep either in the same room or in another and with
some other member of the family, unless they are quite grown up. The
sitting-room is usually left unoccupied. The servants sleep in a room
next to the kitchen and the house-boy in the porch. It is important to
group the sleepers as much as possible; for in summer when mosquitoes
are out, nets are hung over the beds by strings attached to the four
corners of the room, and to economise these nets the beds are brought
together wherever practicable.

[Illustration: THE FAMILY IN BED.]

The servants get up at five o’clock or later every morning according
to season. They first open the shutters of the kitchen; the cook sets
at once to boil rice and then to make the morning soup. The housemaid
opens the shutters of all the other rooms, sometimes even of those in
which people are still sleeping. Where there is a verandah, the maid
reaches it by a vacant room; but if all the rooms are occupied, she
does not hesitate to pass by the beds. In winter the opening of the
sliding-doors at the same time as the shutters would be enough to give
a cold to any one unused to our way of life. He would sneeze and dive
into bed; and when he goes dozing again, the servant begins to sweep
the unoccupied rooms and dust the sliding-doors and shelves in them.
The noise would startle him as the partitions between the rooms are
thin; and the servant, usually a country-girl who has hitherto been
wading in rice-paddies and carrying loads of grain and faggot,
walks about on the mats as heavily as if she were on hard ground, and
the shock of her stamping he would keenly feel through the bed. It is
therefore but a dog-sleep that he would get after the shutters are
opened. This is pretty hard as in all probability he was awakened at
dead of night by the rats careering on the ceiling, which, being open
between the outwalls of the house, is their happy hunting-ground. In
fact, the Japanese house, with its thin walls and sliding-doors, is
extremely noisy, sounds from outside being heard as clearly as if they
came from another part of the house. Happily for us, however, having
been habituated to them from childhood, we are able to close our ears
to such customary noises.

The family rise an hour or so after the servants. In that time the
breakfast is got ready, and the sitting-room has been swept and
put tidy; and that is all we want for the while. We go out upon a
verandah, generally one close to the sitting-room, or into the
bath-room if there is one, where the servant has already laid on the
sink a brass basin for washing our faces and a bowl also of brass
for cleaning our teeth. Though the common bristle tooth-brush is
now largely used, the old form made of a little bit of willow-wood,
pointed at one end and frayed into a tuft at the other, is still found
handy. As it is very cheap, it is thrown away after a few mornings,
and is especially convenient when we have a visitor who stays only for
a day or two. The family wash one after another, the servant bringing
a fresh supply of cold or hot water each time. As we are exposed to
the cold in winter, we do not bare our necks and shoulders or wash our
hair, but dip our faces only; however, as we take baths daily or every
other day, this does not matter much.

Now breakfast is ready. Before, however, the family sit down to it,
the first offerings of the morning’s rice and tea are set before the
family shrine, in which are recorded on tablets or in a book the names
of the ancestors and other deceased members of the family. If the
children go to school early, they sometimes have breakfast before the
rest of the family; but as the father, if a government official
or a man of business, has also to leave home, the whole family
generally take their morning meal together. Breakfast over, the
children are packed off to school, and their father, after looking
through the papers, also makes for his place of business. When he gets
up, he always wears Japanese clothes; and when leaving for his office,
he puts on a _hakama_ if he goes in the same clothes; but if he
prefers European clothes, he has to dress over again. Before he leaves
home, he is given a cup of tea, as it is said to protect him from
accidents abroad. His wife and servants see him to the front door and
speed him.

The wife who has been getting the children ready for school and
helping her husband to dress, has now a little respite, during which
she may glance through the papers and take a few whiffs of tobacco.
Smoking is a general custom among Japanese women; but tobacco is
smoked in homœopathic doses in tiny bowls. The Japanese pipe consists
of a bowl, about a quarter of an inch in diameter and depth, bent into
a tube, and a mouthpiece, both of metal, which are connected by a
bamboo stem. The metal is brass for common pipes, while better sorts
are of nickel, silver, or gold. The bamboo stem is five or six inches
between the metal ends for pipes which are taken abroad, and not
unfrequently a foot or more for those used at home. Among the lower
classes the wife uses the long-stemmed pipe to emphasise her speech
by beating the mat with it when she gives a piece of her mind to her
truant husband; and a blow with it is pretty painful, as many an idle
apprentice knows to his cost. A small pinch of tobacco is put into
the bowl, and two or three whiffs are all that can be got from it. A
Japanese does not merely smoke, that is, get the smoke into his mouth
only, but actually swallows it and then slowly emits it from his mouth
or nostrils. Women generally emit it from their mouths only. The
tobacco smoked is dried leaves cut into fine slices. The filling and
emptying of the bowl takes about as much time as the smoking of it,
so that one cannot smoke while doing something else; but it is an
excellent time-killer, as day-labourers will testify.

[Illustration: A WOMAN SMOKING.]

The wife, however, has not much time to herself; for before she has
taken many whiffs, the tradesmen’s boys will be making their daily
calls. Those whose bills are settled at the end of the month are
usually the dealers in rice, _sake_, and faggot and charcoal, the
fishmonger, and the greengrocer. The rice-dealer does not call every
day; he brings a bag of rice when required and knows pretty well when
it will be exhausted. The _sake_-dealer comes every day; he sells,
besides _sake_, soy, _mirin_, and _miso_; and in many cases he deals
in faggot and charcoal as well. The fishmonger and the greengrocer
call every morning; the former will cook to order simple dishes
of fish. Besides these regular tradesmen, there are street-vendors who
bring bean-curd, boiled or steamed beans, and other food which will
not keep long. We have no grocers properly-speaking in Japan; the
nearest approach to them is the dealer in “dried vegetables.” Tea and
sugar have, like rice, special dealers.

When these tradesmen have been disposed of, it is time to commence the
serious work of the day. The cook washes the breakfast things and
sweeps and scours the kitchen floor. The housemaid takes up one by one
the quilts and mattresses of the beds, folds them in three, and puts
them away in closets; she then dusts the paper sliding-doors, shelves,
and other woodwork, sweeps the mats and verandahs, and scrubs the
woodwork with a hard-wrung cloth. Many foreigners think it strange
that we should dust before sweeping; but we dust the woodwork so as to
make the dust fall on the mats or be blown out, as we always open the
verandah sliding-doors when we dust and then sweep the mats to get rid
of the dust. And finally when some of the dust has fallen again on the
woodwork, we remove it with a damp cloth. When, therefore, we have
finished cleaning a room, all the woodwork looks bright and speckless.
The verandah is scrubbed first with a wet cloth and afterwards with an
almost dry one to make it shine. In the sitting-room the wiping and
polishing of the brazier is a long job, for the housewives of Tokyo
pride themselves upon the appearance of their braziers. The wife
superintends the cleaning of the rooms and also at times lends a hand.

When the rooms have been swept, next comes the washing. There is
always plenty of washing to do, especially in summer. If, moreover,
there are young children in the family, the clothes they are
constantly soiling have to be taken to pieces, washed, and remade.
If the clothes are lined, wadded, or of the better quality of the
unlined, they are taken to pieces and washed, and the pieces are then
spread out on a smooth plank specially made for the purpose and laid
out to dry in the sun. They are next starched, and when they are dry,
they still adhere to the plank and so keep free from creases and
shrinkages. The wadding is never washed. The underwear is also
washed; but unless it is of silk, it is not spread out. In summer the
unlined clothes, called _yukata_ or bath-dress, are washed every
three or four days; and as every member of the family has two or more
changes, there is always something to wash. The clothes and
underwear which need not be spread out, are hung up on long poles
which pass through the sleeves and are hoisted up on the pegs of two
high upright posts. When dry, these clothes are spread out on a
matting and starched and folded for use. Silks which require special
skill in washing or have stains to be removed are sent to the dyer.

[Illustration: THE STARCHING-BOARD.]

Meanwhile, the mistress of the house may begin her needlework.
Needlework is the first qualification of the Japanese housewife. As
all clothing for both sexes is made by hand, the wife who is a good
needlewoman effects a great saving to her family. Clothes for daily
wear are remade every year, sometimes oftener; those belonging to one
person may be taken to pieces and remade for another member of the
family; and old clothes which show signs of wear are redyed, turned
inside out, or resewn to hide the torn seams. The underwear is also
subjected to similar transformations. Sometimes a cloth may be remade
from the unlined to the lined or wadded, or _vice-versa_. It is no
light task to make shifts to enable the whole family to present a
decent appearance, so that even in an ordinary-sized household there
is no end of needlework to be done, and unless she is very active or
well-assisted, the housewife finds it pretty hard to keep abreast
of the seasons with a stock of neat, newly-made clothing. Even in a
family where she has no need to sew herself, she must have a fair
knowledge of needlework so as to be able to cut the cloth before
giving it to the needlewoman in her employ or sending it out to a
seamstress; for unless she can by her knowledge check the amount of
cloth used, she may be robbed with impunity of odd bits and ends.

The Japanese needlewoman’s work-box is commonly a square or oblong
case with two drawers, one above the other, of nearly the same breadth
as the case itself and another pair of half the breadth side by side
on the top. Into these drawers are thrown threads wound round square,
flat pieces of wood or cardboard, odd bits of rag, scissors shaped
like shears, and a bone cloth-marker. On one side of the case is an
upright post with a flat hole for inserting a bamboo foot-measure, and
on the top of it is a little box for the needle-cushion. To the post
is attached a small loop of string, to which the cloth to be
sewn is hitched with a needle, as pins are, or rather were until
recently, unknown. Sometimes the needle-cushion is on an upright of
its own, apart from the work-box, and has a long base which is pressed
under the knee while the cloth is fastened to the loop. The thimble is
not of metal, but of leather or thick paper and is nothing more than a
ring put over the first joint of the middle finger.

In sewing, the needle-cushion upright is put to the right of the
worker, and an end of the cloth is hitched to the loop. The threaded
needle is held and the tip only is moved up and down while the cloth
itself is gathered in small folds on the needle; and when there are
enough folds on it, the needle is pushed forward with the thimble and
the folds are pulled over the thread and straightened out. The needle
is then drawn out until it is stopped by the knot of the thread at the
first stitch. The same process is repeated. The cloth is re-hitched to
the post from time to time as the stitching goes on. This manner of
sewing is often mentioned as a peculiarity of Japanese needlework; but
the Japanese woman is so used to it that she can sew very rapidly in
this way. It cannot be resorted to when the stitches have to be very
close or the cloth is too thick or stiff to be doubled into little
creases, in which case the needle has to be passed through at every
stitch. The Japanese needle is of a very primitive kind; it is made
of iron or badly-tempered steel, for it is very brittle; and it rusts
rapidly while the eye is square and apt to cut the thread. The danger
of the Japanese way of sewing with beginners is that when they bring
back the needle after passing it through, they not unfrequently
scratch their right cheeks with it if the thread is long.

[Illustration: NEEDLEWORK.]

After a cloth has been sewn, it is ironed. The iron is a deep metal
pan with a flat, smooth bottom and a long handle. Into it red-hot
charcoal is put and the pan is heated enough to blacken any paper that
it is laid on for a minute or less. It is then moved rapidly over the
cloth to be smoothed; sometimes when there is some danger of the cloth
being burnt, a piece of paper is put over it before ironing. For
ironing edges and corners, a small thick trowel with a long handle is
used. The end is put into a brazier under the charcoal, and when
it is hot, it is wiped and pressed over the part to be smoothed. The
degree of heat is judged by holding it close to the cheek; and the
beginner often burns her cheek by bringing it too close.

The housewife, therefore, who is an adept in needlework, has plenty of
work before her. The clothes and underwear for herself and her husband
and children require making and unmaking. Those for holiday wear
do not need remaking every season; but everyday clothes have to be
taken to pieces, washed, and remade, For the children she would want
two or three suits for each season, as the Japanese children have,
notwithstanding their proverbial gentleness and tractability, as great
a capacity for soiling and tearing their clothes as the little folks
of any other country; besides, Japanese clothes are more readily
soiled than European. The wife has also the bed-clothes to make.
These, when they are soiled, are taken to pieces, washed, and remade
with fresh layers of cotton wadding. Cushions for squatting upon are
also remade when they are soiled, which may be once in one or two
years. In the matter of sewing, then, woman’s work is never done in
Japan any more than elsewhere.

Of course a lady who employs servants does not undertake all the
sewing herself. She sets the servants between hours to work on
clothing and bedding that do not require skill or delicate handling;
but she has to assist in putting in the wadding and probably gives
the finishing touches to the clothes. In the same way she superintends
the kitchen and may at times help in cooking. And with one thing or
another she is fairly well occupied all day. A wife, especially a
young one, has not unfrequently a middle-aged woman who has come with
her as a sort of duenna from her father’s family or has otherwise
become a permanent member of her husband’s household; such a woman
would take a great deal of work off her hands and superintend
the other servants. But even when they have not a housekeeper of
that description at home, many ladies manage to amuse themselves
by paying and receiving visits, going to theatres, or occupying
themselves in some favourite accomplishments, such as tea-ceremony,
flower arrangement, or playing on the _koto_ or _samisen_. But a
mother with little children cannot as a rule gad about or be absorbed
in her own amusements like one who is childless or whose children
are all grown up. The Japanese mother does not, if she can help it,
delegate her maternal duties to a nurse, and an infant in arms she
seldom cares to give in charge entirely to a servant. She would of
course have more time to herself if her mother or mother-in-law is
living with her.

Towards the evening, the husband comes home and the children are back
from school. It is the custom to take a bath every day in summer and
perhaps once in two or three days in winter. If there is a bath-room
in the house, the inmates take a bath one after another, the master
of the house leading. If there is not a bath-room in it, then they go
to the public bath-house; the wife and the children who are with her
would take the bath in the daytime before the others have come home.
In the public bath-house there are baths for the two sexes divided by
a wooden partition, at the end of which the bathkeeper or his wife
sits on a high platform so that both sections can be watched at the
same time. There is in each section a single large bath, eight feet or
more long by about four feet wide. Into this all the bathers dip up to
their necks. In front of the bath is a large slanting floor, on which
they sit and wash themselves. Under the partition between the male and
female baths is a square wooden tank each for hot and cold water. The
water is ladled in little wooden pails. When we undress, we first wash
ourselves on the inclined floor and then get into the bath; and when
we have warmed ourselves, we come out and wash more carefully with
soap and, in the case of women, with rice-bran powder as well. When
we have done washing, we get into the bath again, and finally, before
we wipe ourselves on coming out of the bath, we pour again upon our
bodies the hot water from the tank. We are then supposed to be always
clean when we get into the bath; and as we do not wash in the bath
itself, its water should always remain clear. But as a matter of fact,
the water grows turbid as the day wears; happily, the lights are
dim when the bath-house closes an hour or so before midnight. In the
daytime it is pretty clean; and bathing in the forenoon is very
pleasant as only a few bathers have been before us, except in the
lower town where it is the custom for workmen to take an early morning

When we have had a bath, we sit down to supper. The master perhaps
drinks _sake_ with it, in which case it will take some time as we
always finish drinking before we attack the rice. Women seldom drink.
The children sup at the same time. After playing for a while, the
youngest are put to bed. The mother gets into the bed without
undressing with the infant and gives it milk until it falls asleep,
whereupon she gets out. Other young children are put to sleep by other
members of the family. Their elder brothers and sisters prepare the
next day’s lessons and go to bed about nine o’clock. When the children
are thus put to bed, the mother is free for the rest of the evening.
But it often happens that she is herself sent dozing while she is
trying to make the infant sleep.

As we keep on the whole early hours, the streets are almost deserted
at ten or eleven o’clock except on special nights, and most shops are
closed by that time. Only in tea-houses are noises to be heard until
twelve o’clock when all musical instruments must be put away. In
midsummer, however, houses are often kept open till midnight on
account of the heat, especially in the lower town where the crowded
buildings get very little of a breeze.



  The servant question—Holidays—Hours of rest—Incessant work—Servants
  trusted—Relations with their mistresses—Decrease of mutual
  confidence—Life in the kitchen—Servants’ character—Whence they are
  recruited—Register-offices—The cook—The housemaid—The lady’s
  maid—Other female servants—The jinrikisha-man—The student house-boy.

The servant question is as great a domestic problem with us as it
is in other parts of the world. We too complain of our servants’
insubordination, idleness, wilfulness, talkativeness, and general
contrariness. Old folk are constantly drumming into our ears that
servants are not what they used to be in the good old days and that
they have ceased to have their masters’ interests at heart and are
ready to leave their present situation whenever better terms are
elsewhere obtainable. That the character of servants has deteriorated
admits of no doubt; but the fault lies as much with their masters and
mistresses as with themselves. However, such as they are, they still
retain many good qualities; and on the whole we are better off in this
respect than our fellow-sufferers in the West.

Our servants are usually willing workers; they do not ask, nor would
they indeed dream of asking, for free Sundays. They toil from day to
day, week in week out, month after month, without a murmur at being
put to incessant work. Like the clerks and apprentices in mercantile
houses, they have by immemorial custom two holidays a year, on the
sixteenth of January and July; but as in busy families they cannot all
be spared at the same time, they are often given some other days in
turn. Those who have homes in town pass the day with their families;
but others from the country, that is, a majority of domestic servants,
spend their holiday wandering aimlessly about the streets and
parks in gaping wonder at the sights of the city.

The servants are, moreover, expected to work without intermission from
morning till night. In some families a fixed time is given them daily
for rest; but in most houses no such hour is set apart and they snatch
what rest they can in the intervals of their work. They get up early
in the morning, about five or half-past; but as those from the country
are used to early rising, it is no hardship to them. It is the late
hours that they succumb to. Where the master has a large social
connection, is given to entertaining friends, or is found of cards,
chequers, or other games, the house is often kept open till midnight
or later. In such cases, however, the cook and others who have to rise
early to prepare the breakfast, are allowed to go to bed at ten or
thereabouts; but the servant who waits on the guests and brings them
tea or wine has to sit up till they leave. It would also be a breach
of hospitality for the family to go to bed and leave the host alone to
entertain his guests; and so, with the exception of the children, the
rest of the family wait patiently till the last guest departs. Indeed,
the drowsy servants often resort, as a charm for expediting the
lingering guest’s departure, to burning a pinch of moxa on his clogs
or setting up a broomstick on its handle.

As the servants have no regular hours of work and rest, they have
often to take their meals at odd hours. Punctuality is not a Japanese
virtue, and the members of the family are not always regular in their
meals. The hours are governed by the movements of the master of the
house, and they are fairly regular if he is a government official, a
professional man, or an employee of a private firm or company, who has
to be at his office at fixed hours; but if the master’s habits are
irregular from necessity or inclination, the family meals suffer
accordingly. The servants are also expected to be ready at every beck
and call, for a great deal of trivial task is imposed upon them. They
are, for instance, often called from the kitchen to the parlour or
sitting-room and then sent to fetch an article from an adjoining room.
But as most houses in Japan are only of one or two stories and the
living-room is always on the ground-floor, it is no difficult
matter to clap our hands, which is the usual way of summoning a
servant, or to holloa to her, for the sound has merely to penetrate
one or two sliding-doors or probably none at all in summer. Thus, from
the very ease with which a servant may be summoned, she is made to do
a great deal which could be readily done without her help.


The servant is trusted to a great degree. The lack of privacy which is
one of the principal characteristics of a Japanese home places every
room at the mercy of its inmates; and when the house is left for
the day, as sometimes happens, in the servant’s charge, a dishonest
domestic could easily purloin articles which would not be missed
at the time. That such petty thefts are comparatively rare, must be
put to the servant’s credit. On the other hand, she becomes a member
of the family whose service she enters, to a greater extent than would
be the case in other lands. The very lack of privacy makes her a party
as it were to the private affairs of the family. She is set to work
unmaking dresses or sewing them under her mistress’s eye and is often
taught needlework, especially on long winter evenings, when mistress
and servant talk together with less reserve than at other times, and
a close sympathy arises between them, which may last through their
lives. And many servants retain their love and respect for their
mistress after they leave her service and call on her regularly every
year with their husbands or children when they are married.

In the old days it was considered to betoken a lack of fidelity for a
servant to change her situation; and many girls remained in the same
family until they were grown-up women. In such cases the master would
find for them suitable husbands or, if they were married through
others’ good offices, give them the means to set up for themselves.
The servants, too, looked upon it as a great honour to be so assisted
by their master as it was a conclusive proof of their faithful
service. This close mutual understanding is now less common, because
there has been, so their employers complain, a serious falling off
in the quality of the servants; but their masters, or rather their
mistresses, are also to blame in the matter, for their attitude
towards their subordinates has also changed. They no longer look upon
them as permanent members of their household, and consequently
take them less into confidence than formerly; which, however, is
unavoidable since the good behaviour of the servants is not now
guaranteed so securely as it used to be. In the old times servants
were almost as much under their master’s authority as a vassal under
his liege’s. To disobey a mistress’s order or to contradict her was
considered an act of disloyalty, and the servant was kept in a state
of complete subjection. On the other hand, a conscientious mistress
had also on her part a sense of duty towards her servant, and looked
after her and cared for her as for her own family.

Nowadays, however, this bond between mistress and maid has been
loosened except in rare cases, at least in Tokyo. If the mistress has
no definite knowledge of the servant’s antecedents, the latter has as
vague an idea of the real standing of the family. Formerly, reputable
families remained permanently settled in the same locality for
generations, so that their social position was well known in the
neighbourhood; while as for the samurai who came up to town with their
lord, the name of the daimyo whom they followed was a sufficient
guarantee of their respectability though they themselves might not be
personally known. Hence, the servants could without difficulty obtain
any information they desired respecting the family whose service they
proposed to enter, and they had only themselves to blame if they were
not, upon being installed therein, satisfied with its ways. But there
is now in every grade of society such a large proportion of families
from the country that the servant is often unable to find out their
standing, past or present. She may not suffer from arrearage of her
wages, though such a thing is by no means rare; but she does not feel
quite so much at home as she would if she entered a family whose
history is known to her. There is then mutual reserve, not to say
distrust, when neither the employer nor the employee knows anything
of the other’s antecedents. The servant may be dismissed one fine
morning at a moment’s notice, or she may obtain leave to visit a sick
relative, to whose bedside she would pretend to have been urgently
summoned, and a few days later send to her employer’s for her
belongings. It is not necessary to give warning; a few days’ notice
may be thought due to the other party, though of course, in the
case of old and tried servants, a greater consideration is mutually
accorded, the domestic usually consenting to remain until a suitable
successor has been found. The servant’s tenure of service is, then,
generally precarious, and at the same time her mistress is never sure
of having permanently secured a good servant. Indeed, if the servant
is honest and diligent, it is seldom the fault of her employer if she
leaves her service; for the mistress cannot do without a servant and
if she has got hold of a good domestic, she is not likely to let her
go willingly. The servant, on the other hand, may be quitting
service to live at home, to be married, or to look for a better
situation. She has more motives for parting company than her mistress.

The truth is that young women have discovered that there is a great
demand for their services elsewhere, as at cotton mills, tobacco and
other factories, and for house-industries; and there is in consequence
a dearth of servants, let alone good ones. Still, many prefer domestic
service, because they have not to work with mechanical regularity as
at factories, and they are on that account content with lower wages.
For hard as she is worked and though she is without a young man to
console her on Sunday for the week’s drudgery, her life is not
altogether an unhappy one. There is at least variety in it. The
tradesmen’s boys come to the kitchen for orders and most people of the
artisan and trading classes go in and out by the kitchen. They have
therefore plenty of chance company, The tradesmen’s boys take it easy
and linger in kitchens which find favour with them. When visitors come
and are entertained in the parlour, their jinrikisha-men are given a
meal in the kitchen. Still another chance of gossip is afforded where
a common well is used by two or more families. Here they congregate
and discuss the affairs of their respective households, tearing to
pieces the character of one mistress and extolling another to the
skies. The “well-side council,” as it is called, is the great market
for scandals of all sorts, though it would not be fair to attribute
its notoriety entirely to the servants’ love of gossip, for the worst
scandal-mongers in such cases are the wives of poorer tradesmen and
artisans who bring their washings to the common well.

But the servants are on the whole good-natured, thoughtless, and
careless of the morrow. They are satisfied if they are well fed; they
are merry and grow fat. It is comparatively rare to find a black sheep
among them. Such a woman usually commits petty thefts; she dares not
steal anything of value, for if she takes it to the pawnbroker, she is
sure to be discovered as he is completely under the surveillance of
the police who can look over the pawn-accounts and seize any article
that they may suspect to have been purloined. The woman may take
the stolen article to an accomplice; but sooner or later, it finds its
way to the pawnbroker’s, or if it is an article of clothing, to the
second-hand clothes-dealer’s, who is similarly under police control,
and so the crime is discovered. She steals most commonly stray coins,
or handfuls of rice or other food which can be pilfered without
much risk of detection. A woman whose mother or husband is in needy
circumstances and comes often to call her out on mysterious business
is most likely to be guilty of such dishonest practices.

Servants are recruited from various quarters. They may be daughters of
poor artisans or tradesmen in Tokyo, of peasants in the country, or of
fishermen on the coasts. They naturally come, many of them, to ease
the straitened means of their families and to save up enough to buy
clothes to take with them when they marry. Others come from the
country to see the town and learn its manners, which they do
effectually, though perhaps not exactly according to their original
intention. Such girls are of the better class of peasants; for the
majority of peasants are kept pretty busy with the cultivation of
their rice-paddies, and in spring-time whole families are engaged
knee-deep in mud in planting rice, while they are equally busy at
harvest-time, so that a girl at home does enough work to pay for her
maintenance. It is therefore more often the girl’s ambition to see
Tokyo and save up something than family necessity that prompts the
country lass to seek service. Girls living in Tokyo are in a different
position. Here girls in a large family can do little to earn their
keep by helping their mother, unless they are engaged in some
house-industry which calls for the whole energy of the family. If they
have a small shop or an eating-house, one or at most two may be useful
at home; while among artisans and labourers an extra girl means only
one mouth more to feed, and accordingly she is sent out to service.
But even in Tokyo it is not always poverty that supplies the vast army
of domestic servants. It may be irksomeness on the girl’s part of
parental authority which is not unfrequently exercised with severity,
or fear on the parents’ part that the child would be spoilt under
their roof and rendered unfit to bear the trials and hardships
which must press on the poor man’s wife with a troop of children at
her heels. In the latter case she is sent out among strangers to be
buffeted and knocked into shape. Sometimes, again, the girl prefers
absolute strangers’ society to the sway and, too often, ill-treatment
of a stepfather or stepmother; or, being an orphan, she is unwilling
to be a burden to a near relative who would as a matter of duty offer
to take her in. Again, a young woman who has lost her husband by death
or divorce would seek service from a desire in the former case to
remain faithful to his memory, which would otherwise be difficult
if she has no means of support, and in the latter from disgust of
conjugal life or to look for another opportunity of trying her luck in
matrimony. Or, she may still be married but has, through inability to
make both ends meet, to break up her household and wait in domestic
service while her husband knocks about, until fortune smiles upon
them when they will keep house again. Finally, even fairly well-to-do
tradesmen send their daughters sometimes to a family, noble, wealthy,
or noted for its strict management, to learn in service deportment and
etiquette. Thus, the domestic servant enters service from diverse

A servant is sometimes engaged on the recommendation of an
acquaintance, which is a good plan if she proves satisfactory. But
if she does not, her employer is placed in an awkward position; he
hesitates to dismiss her as he would have to account for her discharge
to that acquaintance, to whom he is naturally unwilling to speak ill
of her, especially if he is related to the girl or intimate with her
family. Indeed, friendships have been brought to an abrupt termination
by the misconduct of a girl so engaged. Most people, therefore, prefer
to engage the servant through a register-office, for there are many
such offices in Tokyo as they do not require any capital to start.
Word is sent to the register-office, and the woman, for it is
generally a woman who runs it, brings a girl who is likely to suit the
service required. The girl stays one night; and if neither she nor the
mistress takes to the other, the woman brings another in her place,
and yet another, until a suitable person is found, Then the woman
draws up the contract of service, usually for six months, fixing
the girl’s wages. For this she receives a small fee from both parties.
If, at the end of six months, the girl elects to stay on, the
woman receives her fees again for the renewal of the contract; but
apparently, for some of these register-offices a sixmonth is too long
a time to wait, for they often make tempting offers to the servant and
try to persuade her to throw up her situation. And if she follows the
advice by making to her mistress some plausible excuse for the breach
of contract, she is introduced into another family, but finds her
position in no way improved and herself poorer by the commission she
has again paid the woman. The register-office is naturally responsible
for the servant’s conduct; but if she is found dishonest and
discharged, the office, on being taken to task for bringing such
a woman, wriggles out of its responsibility by an eloquent flow of
virtuous indignation and profuse apologies to the family, and if
called upon to indemnify any loss or damage, asks for time to make
necessary inquiries and prolongs the delay until the matter is
forgotten or at least given up as hopeless.

[Illustration: COOKING RICE.]

Though the number of servants naturally varies with the size, wealth,
and social standing of their employer’s household, there are usually
three in a well-to-do middle-class family. Of these the most important
is the cook. In wealthy families there are _cuisiniers_ for the
preparation of the dishes, in which case the cook proper confines
herself to boiling rice and keeping the kitchen tidy; indeed, the
boiling of rice is in any case the cook’s principal function, as is
implied by her Japanese designation, which means “rice-boiler”; but
in middle-class families she undertakes general cookery as well. If,
moreover, she is the only servant in the house, she sweeps the
rooms, scrubs the verandahs, lays and puts away the beds, sets the
meal-trays, washes the clothes, and does many other things which are
of daily necessity in a Japanese household. Her mistress, however,
naturally helps the maid-of-all-work. But if there is an upper
servant, the cook boils rice and prepares meals, scrubs the wooden
flooring of the kitchen, washes the meal-trays, bowls, and crockery,
and helps in washing clothes. The tea-pots and tea-cups, being in
constant requisition, have to be often washed in the course of
the day. The cook gets up early as the rice has to be boiled for
breakfast, and if late hours are kept in the family, she is sent to
bed before the others; but as soon as the day’s work is over, she is
generally found nodding over the brazier or snoring aloud stretched
out on the mats. As the cook’s duties are of the simplest kind, girls
fresh from the country become “rice-boilers” and are noted for their
dull wits and rough manners.

The housemaid’s chief duty is to keep the rooms tidy. She is called in
Japanese the “middle-worker,” as she stands midway between the cook
and the lady’s maid. She dusts the paper sliding-doors, shelves, and
other woodwork, sweeps the mats, and scrubs the woodwork, especially
the grooves of the sliding-doors, the shelves, the wooden edges
of the alcoves, the pillars, and the verandahs. She lays the beds
every night, takes them up in the morning, and puts them into the
closets. She has plenty of work in keeping the rooms tidy, above all
the sitting-room where almost everything, except the brazier and
tea-shelf, has to be cleared immediately it is done with. Besides, the
shelves have such a knack of getting untidy as all sorts of things are
for the moment put on them. If there are children in the family, she
looks after them, which is no light task as they roam all over the
house and after their nature scatter things about wherever they go.
She also does a great deal of needlework; she mends the clothes
and does most of the work where skill or delicacy is not required.
Washing, too, is no child’s play in a large family.

[Illustration: THE HOUSEMAID AT WORK.]

The lady’s maid is in most cases a young girl from thirteen to sixteen
years old. She looks after the clothes; as soon as they are taken
off, she folds them and puts them into a chest of drawers or hangs
them up if of daily wear. She waits at meals and does work about the
sitting-room. She attends to the visitor, sets the cushion for him,
and brings in tea, cake, and the brazier and “tobacco-tray.” She
helps, too, to look after the children. Where there is a nurse for the
little children, she naturally attends to them and carries them about;
but generally the housemaid and the lady’s maid divide the duty
between them; and as the latter is a young girl, she has to be very
much helped by the housemaid.

The infant is commonly fed with its mother’s milk and is not as a rule
weaned until its position as the pet of the family is threatened by a
new arrival. Where the mother has no milk or is too sickly to give
healthy milk, a wet nurse is engaged who has to be well fed and
royally treated to make sure that her charge does not fare ill at her
hands. Where there is a great deal of needlework to do, a needlewoman
is employed. She is usually a woman of mature years, a widow,
probably, and ‘a lone ’lorn creetur,’ who acts as a damper upon the
exuberant spirits of the younger servants. In a large and well-to-do
family there is sometimes a head-servant, a sort of housekeeper, who
came in all probability into the family as the bride’s waiting-woman
at the marriage of the present mistress or her mother-in-law. As the
oldest servant with the authority she exercises over her younger
fellow-domestics, she is held in hardly less reverence than her
mistress, and every opportunity is seized to please her; for to cross
her would be worse than to offend their mistress, and she is certainly
more touchy than the other. She knows her power, too, and enjoys it to
the full. She lets them serve her even more assiduously than her lady;
and they help her to dress, and when she is tired, offer to shampoo
her. She plays, in short, the retired lady more completely than her
mistress’s honoured mother-in-law.

Of male domestics there are only a few. The jinrikisha-man is
the only servant of that sex worth speaking of, that is, in a
well-to-do middle-class family. He is in most cases engaged from a
jinrikisha-master, who has a number of young coolies under him. He is
well fed, as his is a severe physical work, and going as he does with
his master to all sorts of places, he has to be treated well for fear
he should give exaggerated accounts of petty family affairs at the
houses where he waits for his master. He has his faults; but on the
whole, he is a faithful, diligent, and willing servant.

[Illustration: THE HOUSE-BOY.]

In many houses, especially of government officials and professional
men, there is a young fellow or two, who would probably object to
being classed with the servants, but who certainly do menial work.
They are as a rule gentlemen by birth, distant relatives from the
country or sons of friends in narrow circumstances. They are willing
to do the house-boy’s work in return for their keep; and they
are allowed to attend school or college. When they graduate, they
are able to set up for themselves. Of this class of young men come
a majority of those who have risen by tact or ability to high and
responsible positions in the government and in the professions.



  Decline of etiquette—Politeness and
  made and received—Rules for behaviour in company—Inconsiderate
  visitors—Woman’s reserve before strangers—Hospitality—Reticence
  on family matters.

In Japan as in most other oriental countries, etiquette is an
extremely intricate art which can be mastered only by diligent study
under a professor. It is an important item in a girl’s school
curriculum and is among her most valued accomplishments. It is not,
however, commonly studied in detail by men, unless they have been
brought up under the old regime; they feel in consequence like fish
out of water when they have to assist at elaborate ceremonies and fall
into many blunders through their nervous efforts to steer clear of
_gaucheries_. Men could well spare the time in the leisurely days of
the feudal government when they could live in competence by taking up
their hereditary offices, professions, or trades and working in the
same grooves as their ancestors had done; but in these days of fierce
competition when every man must strike out for himself to earn a
living, we have little or no time to go into the intricacies of
etiquette. Hence, the more complex forms are gradually falling into
disuse; and the knowledge thereof, and that too not very deep, has
become the monopoly of women. Indeed, though there are plenty of books
on etiquette for women, hardly one, certainly none of any note, has
been published of late years for the use of the other sex.

It is generally conceded that the Japanese are among the politest
people in the world; and some writers go so far as to contrast our
politeness with French by observing that the latter is only skin-deep
while ours is natural and spontaneous. Such a contrast may be
flattering to our national vanity; but we are inclined to doubt
whether it is just. The truth is, we fear, that courtesy is with us
as with the French a matter of education and is to a great extent
a mechanical habit which its enforcement from early childhood at
home and at school has almost made a second nature with us. That
self-control which we possess in common with other Asiatic nations
from its having been instilled into us from generation to generation
by the precepts of our sages, enables us to repress all expression
of emotion whenever necessity arises and even to wear a mask under
the most trying circumstances. Politeness is then with us a great
restraining force in our social life; but once that force is removed
or overpowered by an emotional outburst, we are hurled along as
helplessly as any other people by the master passion of the moment and
betray like them the hooligan in us, as the police reports too often
prove. Our women, from the fact that the outcome of their education is
self-effacement, possess this power of control in a far greater degree
than men. They will go on smiling in the face of insulting remarks and
completely conceal their wounded feelings. This has led many foreign
visitors to imagine that they can address without offence any remarks
however gross to a Japanese woman. She may put up with them without
any sign of anger; but could politeness permit her to retort, these
foreigners would learn with astonishment what cutting sarcasms are
capable of being expressed in “the politest language in the world that
has no swear-word in it.”

Apropos of “swear-words,” their absence in a language is, it may be
observed, no criterion of the gentleness of the people speaking that
tongue. The suave diction of diplomacy can convey a threat far more
effectively than the bluster of Billingsgate; innuendo is a much more
telling weapon in polemics than a direct attack; and courteous or
veiled language gives no key to the moral character of the speaker.
And so it does not necessarily follow that a nation whose language is
rich in honorifics and other terms of respect and reverence is of a
gentler disposition or less robust than one which does not recognise
such niceties of speech; the only difference between the two lies in
the manner in which they give vent to their passion or emotion. For
the former can convey any degree of discourtesy or insult by a
wilful omission of these honorifics in a way which would be well nigh
incomprehensible to people to whom such discrimination is foreign.
There is no need to resort to blasphemy or profanity to express strong
feeling since these honorifics, by their absence or ironical use,
serve all purposes of emotional language. In fact, the words of insult
which are used in common speech sound very mild when translated into
English. An Englishman would probably smile at a Japanese hurling
at his opponent’s head words like fool, beast, and dunderhead as
opprobrious terms, while the Japanese would be equally amused at
the Englishman’s readiness to invoke God’s curse upon everybody and
everything that may fail to please him. Since, then, honorifics play
an important part in Japanese speech, their proper use requires
considerable art and tact. The blunders of the labouring classes in
their use are stock jokes with professional story-tellers; but with
the educated classes solecisms of the kind are of comparatively rare
occurrence. From long practice their right use has become a settled
habit. It would be difficult to explain precisely the force of these
honorifics in common speech; but suffice it to state that words, or
rather syllables, signifying respect are prefixed or affixed to the
words directly referring to the person addressed or spoken of, if
he is a superior or an equal whom it is customary to treat with
consideration. There are also special words and phrases to be used on
such occasions.

These prefixes are commonly translated “honourable” or “august” by
English writers on Japan; thus, phrases which merely mean “your face”
or “his hand,” for instance, are rendered by “the honourable face” or
“the august hand.” But the use of honorifics being, as already stated,
almost a matter of habit, they do not usually convey to the Japanese
the same import and significance as the word “honourable” would to
an Englishman. No doubt, they practically mean that; but the common
honorific prefixes, which are monosyllabic, such as _o_, _go_, and
_mi_, are glibly uttered. If the Japanese, however, had to use each
time in their place the tetrasyllable “honourable,” he would soon
grow out of the habit, just as in all probability an Englishman would
cease to swear if the word “damn” were not such an easily
pronounceable one, short, abrupt, and capable of great emphasis.
This word has no equivalent in Japanese and has to be rendered by a
periphrasis which would sound as strange to an English ear as the word
“honourable” does to a Japanese as a rendering of his common honorific
prefixes. Indeed, the use of the English comminatory word is far more
eccentric when the word comes to be translated; the Japanese honorific
has at least sense, which is more than can always be said for the
English swear-word, when it is uttered as indiscriminately as it
commonly is. Mr. Mantalini, for instance, would be hard put to it if
he were asked to explain what he meant by the little “dems” with which
he peppers his speech, while such an expression as “a damn sight” is
meaningless, and “a damned good fellow” is an even more hopeless
contradiction in terms than “an awfully sweet girl.”

Politeness is early taught in Japanese homes. It is no show-quality to
be exhibited only in company, but is daily practised at home and in
school as an indispensable aid to _savoir-vivre_. Thus, at home every
one bows to his superior in bidding good-morning or good-night. The
servants bow to the children, the servants and children to the master
and mistress, and all to the father or mother of the master or
mistress, who may be living with them. When the last, or the master or
mistress goes out, they are seen to the porch and sped with a bow, and
when they come home, they are met again at the porch with a bow. We
bow squatting with our heads on the mat. This has appeared to many
Europeans to be a more obsequious way of greeting than a hand-shake,
probably because they associate such a bow with grovelling in the
dust, which would certainly be a humiliating posture to a European.
But the two are quite distinct. With us, from our way of squatting on
the floor, no other form of greeting is possible. In fact, until we
cease to squat, that is, until we reform altogether our mode of life,
hand-shaking is out of the question. In Europe courtesy impels a man
to rise to greet a newcomer, but in Japan he greets him squatting;
in Europe a man who comes into the presence of his superior remains
standing until he is bidden to take a seat, but in Japan he squats
at the door of the room until he is invited to come in, whereupon he
shuffles in and makes his salutation. He remains squatting and
does not approach close enough to his host to take his hand; for to
shake it he must squat with his knees almost touching the other’s,
and then, before they could talk at ease, he would have to shuffle
backward, which would look very ungainly. Thus, as we squat too far
apart to shake hands, we can only bow; and politeness prompts us to
bow with our heads on the mats.

[Illustration: BOWING.]

Squatting is an art which needs practice from early childhood. The
easiest way is to sit Turk-wise with our legs crossed in front; but
this can be done only when we are alone or before inferiors, and would
be the height of impoliteness before a superior or an equal unless he
is a very intimate friend. It is permissible now, however, when we are
in European clothes, to sit in this manner at a friend’s house or at
convivial gatherings. But this posture can hardly be called squatting.
Of squatting properly so called, there are two ways. One is to sit on
our feet. This is done by doubling the knees and crossing the feet
behind and laying on them the whole weight of the body. Unless we have
been used to it from childhood, this mode of squatting would give us
pins and needles in a very short time; the feet would go to sleep and
if we tried suddenly to rise, our legs would refuse to support us. Men
squat in this way; but women resort to the other method, which
is to double the knees as in the first case, but to keep the legs and
feet straight out behind without crossing, so that less weight falls
upon them. As the legs are pressed down obliquely and the tendons are
brought into a state of extreme tension, this method is more trying
than the other; but Japanese women can sit in this style for hours on
end without feeling any fatigue. There can be little doubt, however,
that this habit of squatting is injurious to the development of the
body. Most Japanese, if they are not exactly bow-legged, have at least
slightly bent legs owing to the weight of the body constantly resting
on them. The pressure on the heels also stunts the growth of the
lower limbs; for though our trunks are of ordinary length, it is the
shortness of the legs that makes us a nation of small stature. We have
been told by a Japanese medical authority that we lose at least two
inches and a half by this habit of squatting. Now the average height
of a Japanese male adult is five feet three inches and a half and that
of a female is four feet nine inches and a half, so that if we could
abolish squatting and take to chairs, the average heights of our
male and female adults would, according to this authority, be five
feet six inches and five feet respectively.


[Illustration: SQUATTING.]

We may here add that the reasons which we have given for the
impracticability of hand-shaking in a Japanese house, apply with equal
force to the practice of kissing. A French writer has charged Japanese
lovers with a lack of tenderness as they neither kiss nor shake hands.
But what can the poor lovers do to kiss each other? They cannot fall
into each other’s arms while they remain squatting, for squatting is
not like sitting together on a sofa. When we sit up straight with our
feet under us, the equilibrium of such a posture is as unstable as if
we were perched on a high stool. It is very rude to remain standing
and even to speak before squatting, so that kissing while we are
on our legs is not to be thought of. To squat side by side may be
pleasant, and it may be possible to snatch a kiss; but when they are
locked in each other’s arms, the lovers would run a great risk of
sprawling on the floor. To squat face to face with the knees touching,
would require the body to be bent forward as if we were going to
wrestle; and if the lovers were then to take each other’s arms, there
would be a regular tussle and their balance would be more uneven than
before. As they could not get at each other without finally rolling on
the mats, sweethearts with any sense of decorum would have to forgo
the pleasure of kissing; for when we squat, it is much easier to lie
down on the floor than to get up again. Lovers, however, are not
altogether without the means of approaching each other and feeling the
electric thrill which the mere touch appears to give them; for, on the
stage at least, their favourite position is to squat back to back and
lean against each other. They are satisfied if their cheeks touch, for
kissing is difficult without twisting the neck enough to sprain the
muscles. Kissing, then, as a mode of salutation among lovers and near
relatives, has never been recognised in this country, because the
internal arrangement of our houses and other conditions of life have
militated against its practice; and perhaps, could some means be found
to bring about its appreciation by the bulk of the nation, that would
be more efficacious than any other measure for the westernisation of
our domestic life.

Though good manners are insisted upon at home, they are, needless
to say, exhibited to the full in company when one makes a call or
receives visitors. The usual manner in which a call is made and
received is as follows:—The visitor, on going up to the front door,
does not knock or ring as there is neither a knocker nor a
bell-handle. He bawls out; and as the doors are all sliding-doors, he
is easily heard, though he has sometimes to call out again and again
before his voice reaches the kitchen. When the door is answered and
the master of the house apprised of the call, the visitor is shown in;
he leaves his hat, greatcoat, and umbrella in the porch and is ushered
into the parlour. A cushion is immediately set for him and another for
the host; but the visitor does not, unless he is an intimate friend,
sit on it until his host comes in and urges him to do so. We often
stand very much on ceremony in this respect; we take the cushion only
upon repeated invitation; one who wishes to show great respect will
decline to squat on it however much he may be pressed. The host and
the visitor then bow to each other with their hands and foreheads on
the mat. They apologise, if they are acquaintances, for past neglect
to visit each other, ask after each other’s family, and probably, make
a few observations on the weather, bowing with each remark, inquiry,
and answer. A brazier is brought in if it is cold; but in warm weather
a “tobacco-tray” is set before the host and the visitor. Tea and
confectionery are also invariably offered. When the visitor leaves,
there is another succession of bows, and the host and a servant see
him to the porch and there bid him good-bye.

As to behaviour in company, the following quaint directions are given
in an old book on etiquette for women, which though primarily intended
for the instruction of the gentler sex, are also applicable to men,
among whom the tendency is, as has already been remarked, to be
somewhat lax in the observance of the minutiæ of etiquette:

“A woman should always get up early, wash her face, and carefully
comb her hair, for it is rude to appear with dishevelled hair.”

“Do not stare at other people, male or female, and be very careful
in your speech. Do not tell anything without being asked, make
confessions, or speak boastfully of yourself, and above all, on no
account speak ill of others.”

“When you are in the presence of your superior, do not scratch
yourself; but if any part of your body itches so badly that you cannot
help scratching it, put a finger on the spot and give it a hard
scratch so that the itchiness may be absorbed in the pain so caused.
Do not wipe sweat off your face or blow your nose; but if you must do
so, run into the next room or turn your face away from your superior.
In blowing your nose, first blow gently, then a little louder, and
finally gently again. But you should, if possible, do these things
before you come into your superior’s presence.”

“Do not use a toothpick in company, for it is extremely rude to talk
with one in your mouth.”

“Do not pare your nails, comb your hair, or tighten your _obi_ in
company, or glance at a letter that another is reading or writing.”

“Do not step upon other people’s cushions, beds, or feet; but
always bear in mind that the only things you may tread on are your
clogs and the only things you may step over are the grooves of the

“If any one invites you to go out with her, do not put on a finer
dress than hers; you should ascertain by previous inquiry what
she is going to wear. Do not scent yourself too much or have strong
scent-bags about you.”

“It is not good form when you make a call to sit in the middle of a
room, and it savours too much of a novice to sit in a corner. Do not
make a noise by opening and folding a fan, or fidget with a tea-cup;
and do not show a tired face and yawn or pretend not to hear what is
being said to you. Moreover, when you have a visitor, do not be
constantly looking at the clock and let her suspect that you are
impatient for her departure.”

“When you meet a superior in the street, bow low so that the tips of
your fingers, with your hands extended downwards, may touch your feet.
Do not get flurried and give incoherent answers; but steady yourself
by fixing your eyes upon the lady’s knees if she is one whom you wish
to treat with the greatest respect, upon her _obi_ if the respect is
to be of a slightly lesser degree, and upon the crest of her _haori_
if that respect is still less. Look your equal in the face.”

“In handing a knife to a superior, if it is hers, take the handle in
your left hand with the blade pointing towards yourself; but if it is
yours, take the handle sideways so that the blade points to her left.
In either case the right hand should rest on the mat as you bend
forward. Always use the left hand before your superiors.”

“Never enter another’s house unannounced, however intimate you may be
with her; for if you were to come upon an untidy room, your intrusion
would be no less unpleasant for yourself than for your hostess.”

“In leading a blind man into a room, let him rest a hand on your
shoulder, or catch hold of a fan in your hand or of your sleeve. It
is rude to lead him by the hand.”

“It is extremely rude to send a caller away when you are at home; but
some people go so far as to decide whether they shall be at home or
not, only after they have heard the caller’s name.”

“Nothing is more displeasing to a hostess than to have a a visitor
who stays on without having anything particular to say. We should not
therefore pay a needlessly long visit or make too frequent calls.
Intimate friends should, however, call occasionally; but neither
the hostess nor the caller is without business of some kind; and if a
person is offended with another for not calling on her often enough,
there is no need to become intimate with her. If you have business to
do with any one, consider the hour of your visit; do not call too
early in the morning or too late at night or at meal-time. If there
is a caller before you, wait till she leaves before broaching your
business, or else call again.”

The women of Japan probably talk as much as those of any other
country. They chat freely with their friends, but they are reserved
before strangers and open their mouths only when they are addressed.
They are taught not to boast of their knowledge or try to show it off.
Hence, if a stranger asks them a question out of the common, they
generally profess ignorance. A Japanese knows this; and when he makes
a woman’s acquaintance, he takes care not to lead the conversation
outside the merest commonplaces; but the foreigner who has no idea
of this custom is apt to get a false impression and has indeed not
unfrequently pronounced her to be little better than a doll with no
thought beyond dresses and trivialities of life.

Another misapprehension prevails among European writers who praise
Japanese hospitality, but complain that a Japanese, while he receives
a foreigner at his house, maintains at the same time strict reserve on
the subject of his family. Some have attributed it to an anti-foreign
feeling; but whatever other indications of a bias against foreigners
these writers may have detected in individual cases, the fact which
they adduce cannot in itself be regarded in that light, for a Japanese
guest is placed in much the same position. The host, in his desire
to show an interest in his guest, often asks him minutely about his
people at home, which some Englishmen have resented as impertinence;
but touching his own family affairs he is usually very reticent. He
is anxious to keep his private concerns in the background and will
assume a cheerful countenance even in the midst of the most pressing
difficulties. His idea of hospitality is that nothing should be
allowed to interfere with his guest’s enjoyment. Even personal
grief is concealed under a smile, and a member of the family may be
seriously ill without the guest getting an inkling of the fact.
A visitor to any member of the household is considered to have a
claim upon the hospitality of the whole family; and he is royally
entertained though the rest may suffer inconvenience, as when the
parlour in which the guest squats is the family bed-room and they have
all to sit up till he leaves.

Our hospitality is admitted; but what a European visitor misses is the
appearance of the wife and other members of the family at the dinner
or supper to which he is invited. The husband, as the head of the
family, is its sole representative, and his presence is sufficient for
doing the honours. The wife seldom appears unless the visitor is a
family friend or she is acquainted with his wife. Such an invitation
as taking pot-luck is seldom given; politeness requires us to
depreciate our offering, but we treat to our best. We therefore
entertain and are entertained without our wives’ participation. It is
nothing extraordinary to have friends of many years’ standing, whose
wives we have never seen. It is then absurd to attribute this
reticence respecting our family affairs to any sentiment hostile to
our foreign visitors. Our social point of view is indeed so different
to the occidental that a European generally falls into an error when
he tries to judge our customs from his own standpoint.



  Girls and marriage—Young men—The marriage
  ceremony—Match-making—Betrothal—The bride’s property—Wedding
  decorations—The nuptials—Wedding supper—Congratulations—Post-nuptial
  parties—Japanese style of engagement—The advantages of the
  go-between system—The go-between as the woman’s deputy—The
  go-between as mediator—Marriage a civil contract in Japan—No
  honeymoon—The Japanese attitude towards marriage.

Marriage is the turning-point of a woman’s life in Japan in a far
greater degree than it is in western countries, for the simple reason
that she has as yet few openings for earning an independence. Girls
are brought up with a view to marriage and are early taught the duties
of wife and mother. They look upon the wedded state as their lot in
life and are prepared to enter sooner or later into matrimony. There
are not many women who remain single all their lives. Girls of the
poorer classes find employment at factories, if they are strong
enough; others become waitresses at inns, restaurants, tea-houses, and
other places of entertainment, or enter domestic service; but even
these find mates in time. Of women in other callings, such as
hair-dressers, midwives, and seamstresses, the majority are married
or widowed. For girls of the better classes the scope outside of
matrimony is narrow indeed. They may teach in elementary schools,
or take private pupils, if they have the requisite knowledge,
for instruction in needlework, etiquette, flower arrangement,
tea-ceremony, or music, or else they can only be dependent on parents
or relatives. But as the latter alternative which would be the fate of
most girls is irksome, they naturally choose wedlock as the best means
of escape from dependency or precarious livelihood. And that they,
however homely they may be, succeed in finding husbands is due to the
go-between system.

But it is not the girls alone who feel the inevitableness of
marriage. Men are also in a like predicament. Bachelorhood has none
of the ease and comfort which often attach to it in the West. Life in
hotels and lodging-houses is both uncomfortable and insecure; for the
doors, being all sliding-doors, cannot be locked, and consequently one
is always liable to intrusion at any hour of day or night by other
inmates of the house. Flats are, from the very structure of Japanese
houses, impracticable. In some houses there are rooms to let; but
meals are seldom provided. The only way is to rent a house, but then
housekeepers as such are unknown. To leave the house in the care of
ordinary servants is both uneconomical and inconvenient, for they
are not likely to stint themselves or be thrifty; they would, on the
contrary, rather be wasteful so as to be popular with the tradesmen;
and far from keeping the house tidy as all Japanese houses need to be,
they would not sweep or clean more than they could help. Indeed, from
the appearance of the house one can always tell if it has a mistress
or other responsible overseer. A bachelor can have a comfortable
establishment, it is true, by placing it under the management of a
near relative; but a sister would herself wish to marry and would not
therefore be its permanent head, while a mother or aunt would prefer
to put it under a wife and lead a life of greater ease and leisure.
A mother, moreover, would naturally wish to see her grandchildren.
Besides, a bachelor in fair circumstances is as a rule so pestered by
go-betweens that unless he is resolutely set against marriage, he is
often mated before he knows his own mind.

Thus, marriage is looked upon as an inevitable fate by both sexes.

In a country like Japan where ceremony envelops every phase of life,
such an important event as a wedding is, as may be expected, governed
at every step by strict etiquette, and to celebrate it in proper style
one needs to call in a regular professor of etiquette. But though
weddings in high society are still perplexing tangles of formalities,
the tendency to-day among the middle classes is to strip them as much
as possible of unnecessary ceremony. It is, in fact, difficult at the
present moment to give the exact procedure which is followed in
an ordinary wedding as it is frequently modified by mutual agreement
between the parties concerned; but the following may be taken as a
fairly accurate description of the usual procedure in these days.


A young man in search of a wife, or oftener his parents, would ask
friends to look for a likely girl; or it may be the father of a
marriageable girl who asks his friends to find an eligible young man;
or a man who thinks a match might be made between two young people of
his acquaintance may propose a marriage to their parents. If, in these
cases, the parents think a suitable match may be made, they ask a
mutual friend to act as the go-between; or in the absence of such a
friend, it is almost always possible to find some one who knows the
acquaintances of both parties. The go-between must be a married man,
as the duties of the office at the wedding devolve more heavily upon
the wife than upon the husband. The go-between then brings about a
meeting between the proposed lovers. This takes place at a theatre or
other place of entertainment, or in temple-grounds, a restaurant, or
some public resort, especially where the flowers of the season are in
bloom. Both parties, consisting of the young people and their parents
or relatives, meet there as if by accident, and the go-between
introduces them casually to each other as his friends. Here the
would-be lovers have a good look at each other; and if they are
mutually pleased, they signify that fact afterwards when the
go-between calls at their houses to hear the result of the meeting.
But before the final decision is made, the two families make private
inquiries through their friends in each other’s neighbourhood, usually
of the tradesmen the other deals with, as to its social standing
and repute and the life and character of the young man or girl in
question. They must be quite sure that the information thus obtained
bears out the go-between’s statements; for the go-between so
frequently draws too favourable a picture of the standing of the
families and the ability and accomplishments of the proposed couple
that the expression “the go-between’s fair words” has become
synonymous with gross exaggeration. If the families are not satisfied,
the match is broken off; but if they are pleased with each other, the
go-between is asked to look up a lucky day for the formal
proposal. Nowadays the photographs are first exchanged and if they
are found satisfactory, inquiries are made before the meeting is


On the appointed day a messenger, a trusted friend or servant of the
young man’s family, calls on the girl’s father and makes a formal
proposal, bringing at the same time a present of silk dresses, an
_obi_, fish, and _sake_; the father accepts the present and gives
a receipt for it. This acceptance constitutes the consent to the
marriage. He also makes a present to the other family. Soon after, he
invites his relatives and intimate friends to a dinner, at which he
announces the betrothal of his daughter. Preparations are then made
forthwith for the wedding; and when they are completed, another
gathering of relatives and friends with their wives takes place
and the dresses and other requisite articles for the marriage are
exhibited; and the meeting, especially the female section of it,
criticise and offer advice if necessary on these preparations.

Now all is complete; and an auspicious day has been fixed for the
wedding. The bride’s property is sent on to the bridegroom’s a day or
two previously. It consists of chests of drawers and several boxes
containing her dresses, bedding, toilet articles, various utensils
needed for tea-making and flower arrangement, a _koto_, and
work-boxes, and sometimes even kitchen utensils. In the evening she
leaves her father’s home. Formerly she went in a palanquin; but now
she is conveyed in a jinrikisha or carriage. She is accompanied by
friends and relatives. She is dressed in white or some other light
colour. In the country a bonfire is lighted at the door, and she is
escorted by torchlight; but in the city only lanterns are carried.

On reaching the bridegroom’s house, the bride is led into the
toilet-room to rest herself a while and touch up her toilet. Then she
is shown into the room where the wedding ceremony is to take place.
The arrangement of the room varies with the school of etiquette; but
usually there are offerings to the Gods on the dais of the alcove.
They comprise two round cakes of pounded rice in the middle, with a
stand of consecrated _sake_ a little in front on either side, and at
the back a stand each of fish (a carp or _tai_) and fowl (a
pheasant or snipe). There are, besides, a couple of black-lacquered
cabinets with writing materials, a small wash-basin, and tea-utensils.
There also stands a large flat porcelain dish with legs, on which are
planted a miniature pine, bamboo, and plum-tree, with a tortoise at
the base and a crane flying above. The pine, being an evergreen,
signifies longevity, the bamboo, from its pliancy, gentleness, and the
plum-tree, which blooms while there is yet snow on the ground, denotes
fidelity in adversity. The crane which is supposed to live a thousand
years and the tortoise whose life is said to last ten times as long,
both symbolise longevity. In the foreground are an old couple,
Takasago by name, who are the Darby and Joan of the Japanese legend,
the husband with a rake and the wife with a broomstick. The whole
stand is then emblematic of long life, happiness, and conjugal


As soon as the bride takes her seat, the bridegroom enters and sits
too, in front of her according to one school of etiquette, or beside
her according to another. They are attended by waiting-women, by
children, or by the go-between and his wife only. Two trays each
are set before the new couple. The plats which have each a special
significance it would take too much space to describe here. But the
most important part of the ceremony takes place after the trays have
been carried in. A set of three flatfish wooden cups are brought, and
the top or smallest cup is filled with the consecrated _sake_ which
has in the meantime been taken down from the dais and poured into a
couple of iron or bronze pots with long handles. It is handed to the
bride who drinks it; the same process is repeated twice, so that she
drinks from the cup three times. Then the bridegroom, too, drinks
three times from it. The second cup is next given to the bridegroom
who again drinks three times and is then handed to the bride who does
the same. Finally, the third and largest cup is set first before the
bride and then before the bridegroom, who each again drinks three
times. Thus, both the bride and the bridegroom have drunk three times
from each of the three cups. This process, which is called “three
times three,” constitutes the essential part of the ceremony and joins
the two in wedlock.


When they have exchanged cups, the bride and the bridegroom retire
and change their dresses. They then enter the room where the wedding
guests are being entertained. They receive their congratulations and
sit with them for a while. They are expected to eat and drink with
them; but they retire before long to the bridal chamber. The
go-between and his wife assist them and come down afterwards to report
to the assembled guests that the happy couple have been put to bed.
The guests then take their departure shortly after this announcement.

Next morning the bride is up betimes to send a messenger to her father
to announce that the wedding has taken place without a hitch; and the
father too, before the arrival of the messenger, sends to ask after
the welfare of his daughter and son-in-law. He sends presents to the
members of his daughter’s new home. She receives the congratulations
of her friends.

On the following day the friends and relatives and their wives are
invited to the bridegroom’s house, when the dresses and other articles
brought by the bride are exhibited. The guests are entertained often
till very late at night. The bridegroom sends rice-cakes to his
father-in-law who distributes them among his friends and relatives.
On the fourth day after the marriage, the bride goes to her father’s
house and stays there a day or two. After her return to her husband,
her father invites the young couple and the friends and relatives of
both families to dinner. This gathering is called “the unbending of
the knees,” because the guests are expected to unbend themselves and
stretch their knees and legs which they kept rigidly bent during
the marriage ceremony and subsequent parties. They sing and dance
and enjoy themselves without constraint. This is the last of the
gatherings connected with the marriage. During all these ceremonies
the exchange of presents is interminable so that a marriage in the
regular style is very expensive, and people of moderate means curtail
the proceedings as much as possible. Some even have weddings in a
tea-house, especially if their own houses are not large enough to seat
all the invited guests. It has become the fashion of late to hold the
wedding ceremony in a shrine in imitation of the Christian marriage
service at church.


It will be seen from the above brief account how much a Japanese
marriage differs from a European. The reader who considers that free
choice is essential to a happy marriage, will naturally wonder at the
employment of a go-between and the comparatively passive part played
by the parties most concerned. It is true that the young couple have
little opportunity of knowing each other before they are joined in
wedlock; for the short time, often half an hour or less, for which
they see each other before making a definite decision can hardly be
said to afford them an opportunity of mutual acquaintance full enough
to inspire them with confidence in the momentous step they are about
to take. The knowledge of each other that meeting is supposed to give
them is of the most superficial kind; for besides the shortness
of time, the consciousness of what is to result from the meeting
naturally puts the two on their best behaviour and prevents their
being caught at unguarded moments, which alone can give any insight
into their character. In their prim and stiff attitude, it is only
their personal appearance that can be considered; but even that is
disguised on the girl’s part by the paint and fine dress she has put
on for the occasion. The intended lovers have in fact to trust blindly
to luck in their bid for conjugal happiness.

But there is, on the other hand, something to be said for the
go-between system. Free choice is certainly most desirable when the
lovers are old enough to have a definite knowledge of their own minds
and may be expected to make a judicious choice; and upon the marriage
of a man over thirty with a woman of more than five and twenty, the
parties would not deserve much sympathy if they subsequently found
that they had mistaken each other’s character. But in Japan we marry
young as a rule, men being under thirty and not unfrequently a little
more than twenty and women at the latter age or less. If they were
left to themselves, they would be as imprudent in their choice as
those of the same age would be in other countries. They would, if
pleased with each other’s looks, be quite content to take their chance
of the other elements that go to make a happy marriage; and only by
bitter experience would they discover that they cannot live on
love alone, but that divers worldly considerations must be taken into
account. Many a life would, as in countries where marriage is freely
contracted, be blasted by an early imprudent marriage, which is with
us obviated in a great degree by the employment of the go-between. The
father of the young man or girl, in looking for a suitable partner for
his child, would naturally have prudential considerations foremost
in view; the one would wish for a girl, well born if possible, but
certainly educated enough to be a worthy ruler of the household, while
the other would be equally anxious to have for his son-in-law a steady
young man who would always be able to maintain his family in comfort.
And the go-between, by looking himself or through his friends for an
eligible partner, would be able to search on a far larger scale than
would be possible to the unaided efforts of the father and his child.


This ability to make an extensive search brings out another advantage
of the go-between over the free-choice system. The custom in the West
which requires the woman to wait till she receives a proposal entails
upon her great hardships. Sometimes, as her circle of acquaintances
is generally small, she throws herself after long waiting upon
the least uncongenial of the lot and prepares for herself years
of disappointment, disillusionment, and heart-burnings. Or, where
personal appearance counts for much as it almost always does, a woman
with no pretension to beauty must often suffer many a year to elapse
before the gallant comes to woo her; perhaps he never comes at all,
and the qualities which might have made her a model wife are allowed
to run to waste for being concealed under a homely face; and she who
might have helped a husband to fame and fortune becomes a soured
old maid with bitter hatred of men, or that other and more pathetic
figure, the kindly maiden aunt who lavishes on her little nephews and
nieces that wealth of love which a wise man would have taken to his
heart as an inestimable treasure despite the plain casket in which it
is enclosed. From such compulsory spinsterhood a woman is saved in
Japan by the go-between; she need not set her cap at any one, for
being the deputy for the woman as well as for the man, the go-between
can carry proposals from her as if he were making them on his
own initiative and so can meet with a rebuff without bringing upon her
the shame of a repulse. He can also find for her a suitable husband
even if she is far from pretty or gentle, or has defects which may
make an ordinary man think twice before rushing into her arms. “For
the cracked pot a rotten lid,” as we say in Japan, and for a pot
however cracked or imperfect, we can always find a lid to match. So
with men and women. A woman with imperfections can thus get without
much difficulty a husband with similar defects; but it would be no
easy task to catch such a man without the go-between’s assistance.

[Illustration: A DAIMYO’S WEDDING.]

There is still another benefit accruing from the go-between system.
Upon a squabble taking place between the husband and the wife, they
may in the heat of the moment wish to separate; and if left to
themselves, they would at once get a divorce as it would not be
difficult to bring their own families to take up their cause. But
before they can resort to such an extreme step, they must consult the
go-between, whose duty it is to make arrangements for their separation
in the same way as for their union; and the go-between, bearing in
mind the interests of both parties, will do his best to patch up any
differences that may have arisen, and if he is a man of tact, usually
succeed in restoring peace. In minor matters he is also always
appealed to; he hears the complaints of both the husband and the wife,
and advises them to yield or compromise. He is really even more useful
after the marriage than before: and he is always treated with great
respect by the couple he has joined. But if, in spite of all his
efforts to the contrary, the divorce does take place, his position is
an unenviable one, for not unfrequently he would be thought by either
family to have purposely deceived it by introducing a person whom he
had known from the first to be unsuitable.

[Illustration: A LOWER-CLASS WEDDING.]

With us marriage is a civil contract. All that the authorities require
is that the heads of the two families should report the marriage and
request the girl’s domicile to be transferred from her father’s
house to her husband’s. The registrar of the local office complies
accordingly, and the couple are legally married. There is no
ceremony connected with it. Perhaps this absence of religious sanction
may tend to make a marriage less imposing; but as to its being less
binding on that account as some have alleged, such a contention is
open to question as the divorce court proceedings in the West seldom
appear to be stayed by any considerations of the sanctity imposed upon
marriage by religion. The exchange of cups in our-weddings is a tacit
vow of love and fidelity; and when we have in view the possibility of
a divorce thereafter, it is as well that we do not lay ourselves open
to the charge of perjury by coming up for a second marriage after
having at the first sworn before God that we would “love and cherish
each other until death us do part.”

Finally, the new couple do not go on a honeymoon, but proceed at once
to enter upon their household duties. The honeymoon is undoubtedly an
excellent institution for giving the couple an opportunity of enjoying
themselves unreservedly in each other’s company before taking up the
serious business of life; but at the same time it not unfrequently
happens that they return from it sadly disillusioned and with an
outlook far from rosy upon wedded life. The Japanese bride has an
advantage over her western sister in that respect, for she has no
illusions to be dispelled.

Here, then, is the essential difference in the point of view taken of
wedded life. In the West it is through romance that people enter into
matrimony, and that is apt to melt before the hard facts of life;
whereas in Japan we regard it in a more prosaic light, and the
Japanese bride takes up the burden of married life at the threshold
to lay it down only at the grave. Again, in the West a man may in a
vague way think it time for him to marry and then look for a suitable
partner; but more often it is the sight of the woman with whom he
would willingly share the pleasures and pains of this world that
awakens in him the desire to marry and prompts him to propose to her.
The possession of the woman he has set his heart upon is the immediate
motive of his marriage. In Japan, however, the young man finds life
lonely by himself, or is pressed into marriage by his parents or
friends, or fails to win the confidence of his circle while he remains
single; and accordingly he or his parents ask friends to look
for a suitable wife. The impelling cause is here the desire to have
a well-ordered establishment, and love is something to be aroused
and developed after marriage. As fewer elements of happiness enter
into our method of wife-seeking than into the European, it may be
conjectured that marriage is naturally a more risky venture with us in
respect of domestic felicity. But then, we do not, when we marry, look
so much for the fire and heat of love; we are content if the common
cares and joys of conjugal life induce in the course of time the warm,
equable glow of affection.



  The family the unit of society—Adoption—The wife’s family
  relations—The father—Retirement—The retired father—The
  mother-in-law—A strong-willed daughter-in-law—Tender
  relations—Domestic discord—Sisters-in-law—Brothers-in-law—The
  wife usually forewarned—The husband also handicapped—His
  burdens—Old Japan’s ideas of wifely duties—The Japanese wife’s
  qualities—Petticoat government—The wife’s influence.

When a woman marries, her union with her husband is not more
considered than her entry into his family. Marriage, it is true, has
in all countries this twofold character; but it is especially the case
in Japan where but a few decades separate us from the feudal times
when, as in medieval Europe, the family was the unit of society; and
it is only in recent years that the individual has begun to receive
equal consideration with the family as an element of society. The
Chinese sages laid down with great emphasis that the primary object
of marriage is the perpetuation of the family line and that nothing
is more unfilial than the failure of issue. Thus, feudalism and
Confucianism combined to impress upon the nation the importance of
the family succession. Moreover, every man has a natural desire to
preserve his blood from extinction; and there is a still greater
incentive towards the same end in the ancestor-worship which lies at
the root of Shintoism. It is every man’s duty, according to that cult,
to keep alive the memory of his ancestors, a duty which naturally
devolves upon the head of the family; whence arises the necessity for
every house of having a recognised head. And consequently, under the
old regime primogeniture flourished in its strictest form; and younger
sons and brothers were held of no account. In the feudal times the
offices in the central government and in the daimiates were conferred
only on the head of the family, the rest of which were merely his
dependants. Cadets, therefore, could only acquire independence
by being adopted into other families and becoming their heads, or in
rare cases by founding branch families.

[Illustration: HUSBAND AND WIFE.]

This system of adoption prevailed largely in the feudal times, and
still exists, though not to so great an extent. For whereas adoption
was formerly almost the only means of procuring independence open to
the subordinate members of a family, now no one who is able to shift
for himself would care to be adopted and to assume another’s surname
unless some great advantage were to be gained thereby. Yet families
without male issue must resort to adoption to prevent self-extinction.
They adopt therefore from a family on a lower social level or
one afflicted with too large a progeny. It is often a little child
they undertake to bring up and so have a claim on its gratitude. A
man who has daughters but no son, adopts a young man as his eldest
daughter’s husband and makes him in due course the head of the family.
Sometimes, the adoption and the marriage take place at the same time,
when the bridegroom comes to the bride’s house and the usual relations
between the two are reversed. The husband naturally assumes the wife’s
surname. His position is not an enviable one; for though as the head
of the family, he has a legal right to its property, still he is
constantly reminded that he is an outsider and has to ingratiate
himself with the members and relatives of the family. It is always
possible to convene a meeting of these persons; and this council is
all-powerful in the disposal of family affairs. In the old times, if
a member of the family misbehaved himself disgracefully, the family
council met and took measures for his punishment. It would act even
against the will of the head; indeed, the head himself was not always
exempt from its censure, and there are many instances of his being
forced to retire in favour of a son or another member, and in military
families, of his being required to wash away with his own life-blood
the stain he had brought upon the family name. If one who had become
the head by birth was so powerless in the presence of the family
council, it will be readily surmised that the head by adoption would
often be in a far worse plight than the other; he could be divorced
from his wife if she was the daughter of the house, and driven out of
the family. He would naturally be more liable than any other member
to the censure of the family council.

If the adopted head of the family sometimes finds his position an
irksome one, the wife who marries into another family has often, if it
is a large one, as hard a time of it with her husband; she must not
only put up with his whims and caprices, but she may have to bear with
equal patience the humours of the rest of the family, who have her at
their mercy as any one of them might by false representations easily
prejudice her husband or his parents against her. She is constantly
put on her mettle and has to guard against giving umbrage to any
of her husband’s numerous relatives. Of course he may not happen to
have a member of his family with him; but if he is living in his
native place, a parent or some other near relative would probably be
with him. Those who have come up from the country and made their way
in the metropolis would more likely be by themselves as their parents
would prefer to live at home and content themselves, if need be, with
monthly remittances from their sons. If a man from the country has any
one with him, it is commonly some young fellow, a relative, who lives
with him to complete his education. Hence, as chances of discord
increase with the size of the family, a girl or her parents not seldom
stipulate, in looking for a husband, for a countryman rather than
for a native of the capital. But as that condition cannot always be
satisfied, the girl finds herself saddled with a father, mother, and
other connections by marriage with whom she has to reckon if she would
get on with her husband. Of these the most important are, needless to
say, the parents.

Apart from the question of the continuation of the family line, the
father and, more especially, the mother are naturally anxious to see
their son married and fondle their grandchildren before they die. They
have, moreover, as a rule, another motive in his marriage; which is,
to make over the care of the household and live free from all anxiety.
The father, if a samurai in the old days, would retire from his office
in favour of his son, for many of the offices in the central and
provincial governments were hereditary, unless he forfeited it by
his own fault or through the caprice or displeasure of his lord. A
merchant or tradesman would also, by making his son the head of his
family, transfer to him his business and his name, himself assuming
another name; for it was the rule in the old times, and still is to
some extent, for a merchant to have a business-name, so to speak,
which was handed down from father to son, each being distinguished
from the rest by the degree of descent. This retirement is a
long-established custom in this country and makes our habit of taking
life easy such a contrast to the strenuous, hard-working ways of the
western peoples who pride themselves upon dying in harness.

[Illustration: A DOMESTIC QUARREL]


In the middle ages it was a common custom with the Emperors to
abdicate. Many of them resigned their high office in the prime of
manhood. Some retired to a monastery and lived in complete seclusion,
while others resigned in name only and, putting upon the Throne a
son or a near relative who was amenable to their will, exercised the
authority without the responsibilities of sovereignty. This political
retirement was imitated by many of their subjects. Among the most
powerful leaders, both warriors and statesmen, not a few left their
marks upon their times in nominal retirement from active life. There
were men, also, who were, really or nominally for some fault or
indiscretion committed, compelled to retire and make room for others
more pleasing to the authorities. Many retired of their own will
completely from the world. In short, retirement might be due in
those days to four causes, namely, weariness of the world which led
men to seek repose in the solitude of a hermitage or monastery,
political reasons which left men better able to work their ambition
under cover of retired life, official orders which imposed retirement
as a disciplinary measure, and physical infirmities which disabled men
from taking an active part in life. Among the military class all these
causes were at work; but nowadays only the first and the last may be
said to be effective.

In ancient times the officially-recognised minimum age-limit for
retirement was seventy years; but later, in the feudal days, the limit
was lowered to fifty years. Subsequently, however, such limits were
ignored and men retired at what age they pleased. The usual pretext
among the people was that they were compelled to retire by reason
of physical infirmities; but not unfrequently the real reason was
indolence and love of ease, to which they could yield the more readily
since they knew that their sons would provide for them, serve them,
and treat them with respect and reverence as all dutiful sons should,
so that they could pass the rest of their lives free from care and
anxiety. The retired father, who nowadays hardly ever withdraws
into solitude, is a harmless old gentleman who takes to innocent
amusements, such as playing chess or _go_ with his friends or entering
into prize contests for Chinese poems or Japanese odes; he is
contented so long as he is provided with his _menus plaisirs_. At
worst he sits up late at home or at tea-houses with his cronies. He
appears to be calmly awaiting his end with such little pleasures as
his means permit; and if he is a sensible old fellow and can afford
it, he will, while his wife is with him, live apart from his son and
daughter-in-law so as not to give any occasion for family differences.

The mother, too, is harmless generally if she is over sixty; and even
when under that age, she can do little mischief if she lives apart
with her husband, beyond complaining perhaps to her neighbours that
her daughter-in-law or son-in-law, as the case maybe, does not treat
her with the consideration that is her due. Of course she thinks like
all mothers that no partner however unexceptionable in disposition,
ability, or personal appearance, can be good enough for her child; and
her complaint is taken for what it is worth by her neighbours
unless they really detect any flagrant breach of filial duty. But it
is the widow ranging in age from forty to fifty who is the greatest
disturber of domestic peace. She is too old to attract, and yet not
old enough to realise that fact and abandon hope; and jealous of a
younger woman in the house, she rebukes her in a dog-in-the-manger
spirit for any demonstration of love when she is with her husband.
She is the worst of mothers-in-law; but others run her hard. A widow
under forty cannot readily acquiesce in the relegation of household
authority to another woman and often wreaks vengeance for thus
supplanting her by an ill-natured tongue and the imposition of
degrading work; for mistress as she is of the house, the young wife
has in all things, as a matter of filial duty, to submit to her
mother-in-law’s will.

In the present stage of Japanese society, the lack of sympathy between
a man’s wife and mother is aggravated by the difference in their
education. The older woman, being separated from the younger by the
yawning gulf which divides Old from New Japan, cannot perceive why the
ideas in which she was herself brought up should not be good enough
for the other and finds fault with what are in her eyes outlandish
ways introduced by the new era. She is loud in praise of the old,
harping upon the ideal state of things that would have prevailed if
the world had remained unchanged, and thinks that it has retrograded
socially, morally, and even physically in the interval, grumbling
that the weather itself has been affected by the innovations of these
latter days and refuses to bring storm and sunshine in the good old
downright fashion. Such women cannot be reasonably expected to get
on with those of the younger generation who have passed the primary
school and probably the girls’ high school and acquired a smattering
of western knowledge. The instinctive antipathy between the
mother-in-law and the son-in-law, which is a stock joke with the
European comic press, dwindles into insignificance when compared
with the feeling which sometimes arises between the former and her

But armed as she is with the unlimited authority with which custom has
invested parents, the mother-in-law has not always the best of it in
the tussle with her daughter-in-law. She may be good-natured and
submit to the other as readily as she has submitted all her life to
her husband; or she may be accessible to flattery and be made the
other’s tool by judicious coaxing. She is under the thumb of her
superior in wit, will, or tact. She may be made to consent to live
apart from the young couple if her husband is still living, or to
content herself with the use of a single room in their house if she
is a widow; and sometimes she becomes little better than an upper
servant. A daughter-in-law who can make her a willing slave, exercises
as great an influence over her husband and can persuade him to
acquiesce in any proposal that she may make with respect to his mother.

It must, however, be admitted in justice to the mothers-in-law
and daughters-in-law that there are many pleasant exceptions.
Mothers-in-law there are in abundance who are willing to give the
young wife any help in their power and afford her every chance of
establishing herself in the household. They recognise the change in
the times, and with the vague optimism of old age, hope for the best
and cheerfully resign themselves to the lead of their sons’ wives. The
wife too, on her part, is not insensible to these kindly advances and
serves her mother-in-law with all her heart, ministers to her wants,
and guides her gently as she totters to the grave. In many a household
such peaceful relations subsist. Then, again, the child-birth pain is
the purgatory out of which the young wife rises to be received with
deeper love by the whole family, and by right of motherhood,
strengthens her position in the household.

The child being, as a Japanese proverb says, the chain that binds the
husband and the wife to each other, the latter’s hold on her husband’s
affection becomes stronger when she is a mother; but a Japanese work
on etiquette warns the wife that as her husband’s parents, brothers,
and sisters, however well-intentioned they may be towards her, are not
after all of her blood, she must be careful never to give cause for
offence and be on her guard against any thoughtless deed or word
likely to set their tongues wagging, and that she should consider
herself to be in the enemy’s country and be prepared for surprises and
ambuscades. The advice is no doubt sound; but it implies the
possibility of family disturbances when too many of the husband’s
near relatives live with him, and the inference is that however
well-disposed such relatives may be, the wife cannot count for a
certainty upon a life of unruffled calm, and their dwelling under
the same roof with her must always be a factor, actual or potential,
of domestic discord; in other words, so long as this custom holds,
conjugal happiness must be more or less problematical.

Besides her husband’s parents, the wife has to reckon with his
brothers and sisters. If he is the head of the family, he is probably
the eldest child of his parents, and his sisters would have to treat
his wife as an elder sister though she may actually be younger than
themselves. Girls, however, being naturally impressionable, are, if
they are well treated, easy to manage unless they are particularly
ill-tempered or maliciously disposed; but if they think they are
slighted, they become the most malignant of spies and exaggerate to
their parents any fault she may be guilty of. The wife has therefore
to win them over. Happily for her, the girls will be sooner or later
disposed of in marriage; but her trials will be more than doubled
if any of them leave their husbands and come home. They are then
no longer innocent, chattering hobbledehoys; but having had an
experience, unpleasant in all likelihood, of married life and lived
in discord with their husbands or mothers-in-law, for otherwise
they would not have been divorced, they look with envy upon any
demonstration of conjugal affection and attempt to sow dissension
in the family.

With her brothers-in-law the wife is on easier terms. They are not as
a rule inquisitive; they treat her with indulgence; and in a quarrel
they will cheerfully take her side against their brother. But she is
put to her hardest task when there is a scapegrace among them. The
trouble is of another sort than that which confronts her in dealing
with a sister-in-law. The ne’er-do-well is usually, as in other
countries, the youngest of the family and his mother’s spoilt child.
His brother, knowing his evil ways, forbids his wife to have anything
to do with him. But the scamp is smooth-tongued and, making up to her
with offers of service, worms himself into her favour. The
wife, too, knows that his enmity will certainly endanger her standing
with his mother and, willing to give her pleasure, yields to his
importunities and from time to time supplies him with money by cutting
down the household expenses. Thus, with the best intentions she is
placed in an awkward position; she must defraud her husband to please
his mother, and if she is found out, she will be sharply brought
round; and meanwhile, she lives in fear and trepidation.

With all these encumbrances in her home, the wife’s life may appear to
be well-nigh intolerable. Fortunately for her, however, her husband’s
family is not always so complete; it is not often that she finds
there both parents, brothers and sisters in full force, and children
by a former marriage. It would under such circumstances have been
better, had she remained at home, though it may of course happen
that the whole family are taken with her, or are easy-going and
kindly-disposed, or are won by her tact, gentleness, and sweet temper.
But even if they are not all that may be desired, the wife goes into
the family with her eyes open; for when the proposal of marriage was
informally made by the go-between, she could easily have ascertained
through friends by inquiry in the neighbourhood the size and general
character of the family with which her union was sought: and it was
only by gross carelessness or wilful misrepresentation on the part of
her agents that she could have been kept ignorant of the fate that
awaited her.

If the wife is handicapped in her bid for conjugal happiness by the
size of her husband’s family, he is under no less disadvantage for the
same reason. If she finds it difficult to get on smoothly with all
the members of his family, he encounters quite as much difficulty in
feeding so many mouths; for the whole family are often dependent upon
him, as in all probability his parents pinched themselves to find
means for his education so that when he completed it and made his way
in the world, he might make up for their sacrifices. But even if they
had done nothing for him, he would still be expected to support them.
The new Civil Code recognises this right on the part of the parents;
and the head of the family has also to support his brothers and
sisters and other members of his house, in addition to his wife
and children. Besides these possible dependants whose claims are
admitted by law, there are others whose appeals on the score of
kinship however remote he cannot altogether ignore, as custom allows
those related by blood or marriage to look for help to the least
unfortunate among them. Thus, the father of a family has to spend the
money he could otherwise save up for his children in maintaining his
uncles, aunts, and cousins and some of his wife’s near relations, who,
as long as he supports them, stick to him like leeches and follow
him about with all the pertinacity of Sir Joseph Porter’s female

From the social point of view this is undoubtedly an excellent system,
for the nation at large is not burdened with the support of its poor;
only the comparatively few without relatives to whom they can turn
have to be maintained at the public expense. We have not, therefore,
so far been confronted by the pauper question, as the poor are
provided for by their own people. But it cannot at the same time be
denied that the system bears hardly upon the individuals on whom falls
the duty of maintaining their poor relations; and especially is this
the case with a young man at the threshold of his career. He marries,
as we have already observed, not because he can support a family
without embarrassment, but because he is in need of some one to manage
his house. In the matter of marriage the Japanese is ordinarily
improvident; he does not allow financial considerations to enter into
his matrimonial plans. It is generally with great difficulty that he
can afford to help his relatives. So that under the circumstances
a young man married is often with us, if not actually a man that’s
marred, at least one that is heavily handicapped and forced to
struggle against great odds. A man who has to earn his own living must
sweat and starve, slaving from morning till night, to support these
drones; and whatever ambition he may have harboured in the flush of
youth is ruthlessly dashed to the ground, and his life is frittered
away in sordid cares and petty troubles.

The great authority for two centuries on the conduct of women who
enter into matrimony was a work written by a Japanese scholar and
based on the teachings of the Chinese sages. This book enjoins
upon the wife unconditional obedience to her husband. She is told that
she is in every respect his inferior, and she is expected to be so
overwhelmed with the sense of her own unworthiness that she must in
all things submit to her husband who is the absolute lord and master
of her body and soul; whatever he may do, she is not to murmur against
it, but she is to be humble when she is in the right; and all the
while, over her hangs the Damocles’s sword of divorce. The position
to which she is relegated by the Japanese guide to wifely conduct is
merely that of an upper servant; for no matter how many domestics
there may be in the house, she must do menial work. She must share
with her husband all the hardships of grinding poverty; and when
fortune smiles, he may live in luxury and entertain many friends, but
she must not frequent public resorts or go sight-seeing. Wealth may
bring her more conveniences, but not more pleasure; and until she is
forty years old, she is not to be seen in company, but to remain at
home minding her house and children.

Such are the injunctions of the Japanese authority on female conduct;
but happily the practice is better than the precept. There may be,
thanks to these teachings, furniture wives, as Lamb calls them, who
are of little use beyond filling their places in their households; but
human nature breaks even through the cast-iron rules which hold it
down, and, the sages and moral guides notwithstanding, there are
countless happy homes which are unfortunately less heard of than
those in which dissensions are rife for the same reason as that our
attention is always more drawn to careers of crime and adventure than
to quiet, eventless lives. Had our women become what the old teachers
wished them to be, it is certain that we should not have retained our
vitality through the centuries of feudalism and burst out after ages
of inert isolation into all the vigour and energy of a freshly-sprung
nation. It is an indirect tribute to our women that the race has
preserved unimpaired those high qualities which have since raised it
to its present position among the nations of the world.

Japanese wives are gentle, docile, and obedient; but let not the
western husbands who groan under petticoat government, imagine
that Japanese benedicts always have it their own way, for even in
Japan the grey mare is sometimes the better horse, as many a henpecked
one knows to his cost. There are termagants and viragoes with us as
in other countries; the only difference is that our scolds are not
so obtrusive as those of the West, and yet do enough to convince the
luckless wight that he has caught a Tartar. Just as the omission
of honorifics in Japanese speech is as rude as the use of profane
language in English, so the absence of those gentle manners with which
we invariably associate our women is an even surer index of coarseness
and vulgarity than the violence of a western shrew. The Japanese vixen
can therefore, without any roughness of manners, nag and harass her
husband quite as effectually, though her methods may be quieter than
those of the occidental species.

Labouring as she is under many disadvantages, the Japanese wife does
not get credit for her good qualities, because she always keeps in the
background. Neither she nor her husband ever sings the other’s praises
in public; on the contrary, mutual depreciation is the custom. And yet
all her efforts are directed to her husband’s cutting a creditable
figure among his acquaintances. A good, sensible, tactful wife is
a jewel with us no less than with the wise man of yore; and her
adroitness covers a multitude of defects in her husband. And for all
his brave show, often, as our proverb says, “’tis the hen that tells
the cock to crow.”



  Frequency of divorces—The new Civil Code on marriage
  and divorce—Conditions of a valid marriage—Invalid
  marriages—Cohabitation—The wife’s legal position—Her
  separate property—The rights of the head of the family—Care
  of the wife’s property—Forms of divorce—Grounds for divorce—Custody
  of children—No damages against the co-respondent—Breaches of
  promise of marriage—Few mercenary marriages—Widow-hunting also rare.

In the old days divorces took place on the slightest pretext. Among
the higher classes, it is true, the family connections which a
marriage brought into existence could not be dissolved without more
or less serious consequences, and the parties were, as in other
countries, expected to sacrifice their personal happiness to family
considerations; but among the other classes which were not influenced,
as a rule, by such worldly motives in their marriages, divorces were
of pretty frequent occurrence. And moreover, as they often took place
from no fault of the persons divorced, they came to lose to some
extent the stigma which usually attaches to them. Still, those women
who had been brought up with a strict, old-world sense of honour,
looked upon divorce as a stain upon their reputation; for if it did
not necessarily imply misconduct, it was attributable to want of tact
on the part of the _divorcée_, and although it arose not unfrequently
from the husband’s caprice, she was not, until that could be proved,
held altogether free from blame. As she was from the first supposed to
be prepared for a wilful, cross-tempered mother-in-law, it signified
a certain defect in her character that she should have failed to get
into her good graces; and the girl, therefore, ashamed to be exposed
to the ignominy of divorce, did her best to please her husband’s
family and would put up with almost anything rather than be sent away.
But the family relations sometimes became so strained that she
ran away or was packed home. Divorce was, moreover, easy to effect;
it needed nothing more than the re-transfer of the divorced wife’s
domicile from her husband’s home to her father’s. There was no
official inquiry, and a remarriage could take place at any time.

This unsatisfactory state of affairs was to a certain extent remedied
by the new Civil Code which came into operation in 1898, though it is
too early yet to say what permanent reform it has brought about in our
system of marriage and divorce; and it may be well, before entering
into the grounds on which a divorce may be sought under the new law,
to consider the conditions requisite for a valid marriage as they will
give some idea of the position taken by the legislature in regard
to matrimonial relations and so help us to understand its attitude
towards divorce.

A marriage, in the first place, is valid only if the parties are
married of their own will. This condition may at first sight appear
superfluous; but it is formulated to enable the parties concerned to
nullify a marriage contracted through mistaken identity and to prevent
unions with persons who have lost control of their will or are
otherwise in a disordered state of mind. Only such marriages are valid
as are contracted between those who are not deceived in making their
choice and are in full possession of their faculties. The object of
this condition is then to protect those persons who are joined in
wedlock against their will; but, as a matter of fact, many marriages
are arranged by the parents before their children are old enough to
know their own minds, and the betrothed, upon coming of age, acquiesce
in the engagement which they would consider unfilial to refuse to
carry out. So that in many cases free will in marriage is merely
formal. The second condition of a valid marriage is that it must be
reported and registered at the local district office. The bride’s
father reports to the local office of his district that she has ceased
to be a member of his family and requests her name to be struck off
and transferred to the local office of the district in which her
husband lives. This is accordingly done, and at the same time the
husband’s report confirms the father’s request and the girl’s name
is registered as that of his wife. This transfer of the domicile
constitutes the official act of marriage.

A defect in either of these two conditions naturally renders a
marriage void, for it cannot then be recognised as a lawful union. But
a marriage may subsequently to its registration be annulled in various
ways. Such annulment is not, however, a divorce, because the marriage
was not complete and cannot be said to have been consummated. In the
first place, the parties must be of the legal age for marriage, which
is for the male seventeen years and fifteen for the female. This is a
great advance on the old limit which was fourteen years for the male
and twelve for the female. The right of annulling a marriage in which
either party is under the legal age expires in three months after the
marriage or when the age-limit is reached. Marriages contracted by
force or fraud may be annulled upon application by the victim. The
application must be made to a court of justice within three months
after the discovery of the fraud or removal of the force; the right
of application is forfeited by condonation. A marriage is naturally
invalidated by a previous marriage; the right of application for its
annulment is vested in the aggrieved party, the head of that party’s
family, the relatives, and the public procurator, and also in the
first wife or husband; and as bigamy is a criminal offence, there
is no time-limit for the application. One who has been judicially
divorced for adultery cannot marry the other party to the offence;
that is, marriage is forbidden between the respondent and the
co-respondent. It may appear somewhat unjust that a man whose conduct
has led to the divorce of a married woman should be disqualified from
making to her the only reparation in his power for her loss of home
and honour; but the idea is, as in the Scots law, that the ability to
marry each other would rather encourage such illicit connections and
make the offenders brave the ignominy of judicial divorce for the
prospective pleasure of a lawful union. The prohibition is therefore
intended to be a deterrent against infidelity. Marriage is also
forbidden between ascendants and descendants in the direct line
and between those down to the third degree of consanguinity in the
collateral line, that is, it is prohibited with one’s parents,
grand-parents, children, and grandchildren, and between brother and
sister, uncle and niece, and aunt and nephew, but permitted between
cousins-german and more distant blood-relations. It is also
prohibited between similar relations of affinity in the direct line,
but not between those in the collateral line, so that while one cannot
marry a parent or a child of one’s deceased spouse, there is no
impediment to a marriage with the deceased wife’s sister or the
deceased husband’s brother, or their uncle, aunt, nephew, or niece.

A son up to thirty years of age and a daughter up to twenty-five years
cannot marry without the consent of their parents. If either parent is
dead, irresponsible, or has left the house, the consent of the other
is deemed sufficient; but if both parents are dead or of unsound mind,
or if their whereabouts are unknown, only those parties who have not
yet reached the majority-age of twenty need ask for the consent of
their guardians or appeal to the family council for approval. If the
parties are afflicted with a stepfather or stepmother who refuses to
consent to their marriage, the approval of the family council will
suffice as these persons cannot always be presumed to have at heart
the interests of their step-children. A woman cannot for obvious
reasons remarry until after the lapse of six months from the annulment
or dissolution of her first marriage; but if in the interval she gives
birth to a child, there is no hindrance to the second marriage taking
place immediately after. Lastly, in the case of a man who has been
adopted as husband to the daughter, the severance of his connection as
adopted son may be brought forward as a ground for the avoidance of
the marriage. As he has twofold relations as son and husband, the
dissolution of either relation would lead to that of the other, for
the only alternative would be for the daughter to leave her family at
the same time as her husband; but as it was to keep her in the family
that the husband was adopted, her father would not consent to such a
step. The usual procedure is to adopt for her another husband.

Upon the consummation of marriage, the wife is obliged to live
with her husband, who is required by the Civil Code to make her
cohabit with him. Thus, cohabitation is in the eyes of the law an
indispensable condition of matrimony; and therefore, such a thing as
judicial separation is unknown in Japan, and there is no middle course
between cohabitation and divorce. The wife usually takes her
husband’s surname; but if she is the head of the family or the
heiress to it, the husband by adoption assumes her surname.

If the wife is under age or judicially pronounced incapable of
managing her own affairs, the husband becomes her guardian for the
time being; but if the husband is pronounced incapable in a similar
manner, the wife becomes his guardian and takes charge of his affairs.
The wife, however, in ordinary circumstances is under the husband’s
control. Her disabilities arise not from her sex as such, but from her
status of _feme-covert_; for though political rights are still denied
to women, no discrimination is made in the private rights of the two
sexes. It is only when she marries that she cedes to her husband many
of her rights as _feme-sole_. There are certain acts, for instance,
for which she is required by the Civil Code to obtain her husband’s
permission, such as the receipt and use of a capital sum, contracting
of debts, bringing of actions at court, carrying on of a trade or
business on her own account, and making of contracts binding herself
to service for a specific term; but the permission may be dispensed
with if her husband’s whereabouts are unknown, or he has wilfully
deserted her, is pronounced incapable, is under restraint for lunacy,
or is serving a term of imprisonment exceeding one year, or if his
interests clash with hers.

The wife may have separate property. She is at liberty to make any
arrangement with her husband for its management and disposal; but such
arrangement must be registered not later than the registration of the
marriage itself, or it cannot be upheld before her heirs or set up
against third parties. In fact, all contracts between husband and wife
may by mutual consent be altered or cancelled at any time; but such
alteration or cancellation cannot be upheld to the prejudice of a
third party. This right to hold property in her own name is a great
concession to the wife, for such rights were formerly utterly ignored.
In the old days, everything belonged to the husband as head of the
family, not only any property that the wife might bring or inherit,
but also any estate, real or personal, that might be acquired by any
other member of the family. All its members were supposed to work for
the benefit of the family, and the head as its sole representative
had absolute control of the property so acquired. But now in
recognition of the rights of the individual as against those of the
family as a whole, the Civil Code permits the separate registration
of property by its subordinate members.

Where no special arrangements have been made between husband and wife
with respect to either party’s property the law directs a certain
course to be followed in its use and disposal. In the first place,
while the owner of any property is naturally deemed to possess
absolute right to the interest or profit arising therefrom, any
property which has been acquired but cannot be definitely credited
to either party, is to be taken, pending production of proof to the
contrary, as belonging to the head of the family. The head has also
the right to put to use the other party’s property and derive profit
therefrom, provided the character of such property remains unaltered.
Thus, the head may cultivate the other’s fields or rent them to
a tenant and occupy or rent the other’s houses, but may not, for
instance, convert a field into building land or a dwelling-house into
a godown. This power is given to the head to offset the obligation he
or she is under to bear all expenses resulting from the marriage, that
is, to defray all household expenses, support the family, and pay for
the bringing up of the children. If, however, the head is in needy
circumstances, the other party, if possessed of separate property,
must support the family.

The husband, whether head of the family or not, has the management of
his wife’s property. He may make improvements in it; but he cannot
without her consent rent her land for more than five years running
or her house for more than three. And if the wife is afraid of her
husband’s abusing this discretionary power, she may request the
judicial authorities to order him to deposit security against any loss
that the estate might suffer through his mismanagement. The wife is to
be considered as her husband’s agent in household matters, such as the
provision of food and raiment. The husband may, however, reserve the
right to repudiate partially or wholly her acts as his proxy; but he
cannot thereby cancel his obligations to those persons who have been
dealing with her in good faith, believing her to possess the powers
usually delegated to the wife.

Having thus given an outline of woman’s legal position in matrimony,
we may now pass on to the conditions of divorce. The laxity of
the custom in regard to divorce was, as we have already observed,
partially remedied by the new Civil Code, which is based on European
laws and modified by existing Japanese usages. In the matter of
divorce, it makes many concessions to the customs hitherto prevailing
in Japan, as a strict adhesion to the European laws on the subject
would call for a too drastic change in the habits of the people who
have for the most part been accustomed to think lightly of divorce.
In the old times it was sufficient to give the wife a declaration of
divorce, which, from its shortness, came to be known as “the three
lines and a half.”

In these days, however, when the supremacy of law is universally
recognised, such an informal process cannot be tolerated; and
formalities as full as at marriage must be gone through. For divorce
in its simplest form judicial intervention is not needed. It is enough
that the parties agree to separate. All that is necessary is to make
a declaration attested by two reputable witnesses at the local office
that the divorce takes place by mutual consent. If there is sufficient
cause which would be recognised by a court of justice, the offending
party would readily consent to this form of divorce, for few people
would care to wash their soiled linen in public when the same end
could be gained more quietly in private. Hence, judicial divorces
are comparatively rare. The attestation of two witnesses is of
considerable use in preventing rash divorces made in a moment of
passion and repented immediately after, as the witnesses who may be
expected to be cooler-headed than the principals, would do their best
to patch up the quarrel or difference before finally setting their
seal and signature to the deed of divorce. Moreover, if the parties
are under twenty-five years of age, they must obtain the consent of
those persons, that is, parents, guardians, or family councils, whose
consent would be necessary for a marriage in which the bride is under
twenty-five years of age and the bridegroom under thirty. In a divorce
the domicile of the wife or the adopted husband is re-transferred from
the domicile of the family into which they were married to that
of their original family; the process is reverse of that required upon
marriage. In a divorce by mutual consent the request for re-transfer
is voluntarily made by the parties concerned, while in a judicial
divorce, since the appeal to law is made in consequence of the refusal
of one of the parties to sign the request to the local office, the
re-transfer is made by order of the court.

Judicial divorces are granted on several grounds. First, for bigamy.
Bigamy is punishable with penal servitude for a term not exceeding two
years, and the second marriage is annulled; but the offence may
also be made the ground for the dissolution of the first. Thus, the
bigamist may, when he has served his term, find himself single and be
ready for a third marriage. Secondly, the wife may be divorced for
adultery, but not the husband. He may be divorced if he is convicted
of adultery with a married woman. The unfaithful wife and her paramour
are liable to penal servitude for a term not exceeding two years if
the charge is brought by the outraged husband. The lover cannot be
punished alone; the woman must share his fate; and only such a lover’s
wife can bring a divorce suit for adultery against her husband. But it
is very seldom that the husband applies for divorce from his wife
on the score of infidelity; such divorces are generally effected
by mutual consent unless the husband is ready to expose his family
affairs for the mere gratification of wreaking vengeance. The
delinquent wife, if brought before court, is, as has already been
stated, both punished and debarred from marrying her paramour. Besides
infidelity with a married woman, the husband, may be divorced for
immoral crimes. Divorce may also be sought if the other party is
guilty of forgery, theft, burglary, fraud, embezzlement, and other
heinous crimes. As the guilty party is usually the husband, the wife
may refuse to live any longer with one who has brought dishonour upon
the family. She may also bring an action for divorce if her husband
is imprisoned for three years or more for offences other than those
mentioned above or if she has been so ill treated or grossly insulted
by him as to make cohabitation intolerable.

The common custom in Japan of the couple living under one roof
with the parents of either party is doubtless responsible for two
other grounds for divorce, which are that an action for divorce lies
if either party ill-treats or grossly insults the ascendants of the
other or is ill treated or grossly insulted by them. Thus, without
there being any strained relations between the couple themselves,
either of them may seek divorce if ill treated or grossly insulted
by the parents or grand-parents of the other, or be sued for it if
similar treatment is offered to them. Mothers-in-law are proverbially
hard to please, and once a quarrel takes place, it is always easy to
detect insult in the high words that may pass between them and their
children’s spouses or ill-treatment in their subsequent behaviour
to each other. If they lived apart, such occurrences would be rare.
Though the wife may keep her temper and submit as far as possible,
adopted husbands are not so amenable to parental authority, and their
divorce is not unfrequent.

Wilful desertion is a valid ground for divorce. The term of absence
justifying such action is three years. An adopted son who severs his
connection with the family is divorced from his wife if she is the
daughter of the house; but if she is not, she may leave it with her
husband. If she is the head of the family, the divorce of her adopted
husband dissolves both family and marital relations at the same time;
and if she wishes to follow him, she must give up her position as head
of the family and be married to him afresh.

Any arrangements may be made for the custody of the children after
divorce; but in the absence of special agreement, the principle
followed is that the children belong to the family in which they
were born. Thus, they belong as a rule to the father; but if he has
been adopted as husband, they fall to the care of their mother.

Judicial divorces are, as already stated, seldom applied for. There
have been a few cases of divorce for adultery, which, where proved,
always ended in the imprisonment of the unfaithful wife and her
paramour. These criminal suits have not so far been accompanied
by civil actions; the Japanese husband is satisfied with the
incarceration of the destroyer of his domestic happiness. Seeing that
his wife is party to the ruin of his home, he would not dream of being
indemnified for it, as a woman who is capable of infidelity is
in his opinion bound sooner or later to dishonour her husband. To the
Japanese there is something repugnantly mercenary in claiming damages
for his wife’s forfeiture of chastity in the same way as he might for
the loss of any piece of property.

Pecuniary considerations enter as little into actions for breach of
promise of marriage. Since the new Civil Code came into operation,
there has been only one such case brought into court. It was decided
in favour of the plaintiff; but the court merely ordered the promise
of marriage to be carried out and did not enter into consideration of
any pecuniary compensation for the breach. But then there is really
nothing to assess when an engagement is broken off in Japan. All that
is necessary when the other party consents to its being broken off,
is to return in kind or value the betrothal presents. As the engaged
couple, if they ever do write to each other, only send formal letters
with the compliments of the season or inquiries after each other’s
health, these epistles afford no means of measuring the suffering
entailed by the breach of faith. Neither do the lovers go out
together; and on the very rare occasions when they walk with each
other, they are accompanied, not by a conniving gooseberry, but by an
Argus-eyed chaperon who frowns upon the least departure from strict
propriety. So that their behaviour in each other’s company gives as
little guidance as the letters in the assessment of the damage done to
the jilted lover’s heart.

In a similar manner mercenary marriages are not so numerous with us as
in other countries. Many men marry, it is true, with ulterior motives
daughters of wealthy or influential families; and these latter
naturally do their best to promote the interests of their sons-in-law.
By judicious marriages young men have risen to high and influential
positions in official and commercial circles. But marriages that are
crudely, unblushingly mercenary are rare for the simple reason that it
is not the common custom to give away daughters with large dowries.
The wives bring with them plenty of dresses and personal articles,
but seldom money, though their fathers may give them something
to start with when they marry. There is still a strong prejudice
against dowries; and a man who marries a woman with a _dot_ is often
considered very mercenary and, still worse, even suspected of
having taken the money as an offset against some personal defect in
his wife. There is of course the possibility that the wealthy parent
would help his daughter in difficulties and when the worst came to the
worst, keep her and her family from starvation. But the most effectual
way in which a man may make money by marriage is to get adopted as
a husband by a wealthy family; it is indeed the only means a poor
man has of acquiring wealth without any exertion on his part; the
difficulty is to find a well-to-do family willing to adopt him. If he
has nothing to expect from his father, he need not hope for a legacy
from an uncle, aunt, or any other relative, as an estate is seldom
allowed to go out of the family. A bachelor or a childless person
adopts some one to succeed to his name and property.

In the same way a settlement is seldom made on the wife. A widow
is, as long as she remains in the family, maintained by her son or
daughter’s husband. Until recently she had, if she wished to remarry,
first to return to her own family and become a spinster again, so to
speak, by re-assuming her maiden name; but the new Civil Code allows
her to marry direct from the family in which she has become a widow;
this is merely to save her the trouble of needlessly removing to her
old home. She must, however, secure the consent of the heads of her
own family and her late husband’s to her second marriage. As the widow
brings from her husband’s home only her clothes and other personal
property, she is not courted by fortune-hunters. A girl does not
in Japan give her hand to a dotard with the object of enjoying his
property after his death with a husband more suited to her age.



  Child-life—Love of children—Desire for
  them—Child-birth—After-birth—Early days—The baby’s food—The
  “first-eating”—Superstitions connected with infancy—Carrying of
  babies—Teething—Visits to the local shrine—Toddling—Weaning—The
  kindergarten and primary school—The girls’ high school—The middle
  school—The popularity of middle schools—Hitting—Exercises and

Japan has been called the Paradise of Babies; and certain it is that
childhood passes very happily in this country. In every family its
children have a free run of the whole house; there is neither a
nursery to which they can be confined nor any room which is exempt
from their invasion. They are the real masters of the house; and
father, mother, elder brother and sister are their willing slaves.
They will romp unchidden into the parlour and interrupt the visitor
whom the father or mother is there receiving; and the visitor too,
be he friend, relative, or comparative stranger, never takes such
intrusion amiss, but on the contrary, pays court to them as he knows
well that through them the softest spot in the father’s heart is
reached and the mother’s goodwill won. The parent, following the
common custom of the country, deprecates any words uttered in their
praise, for it is considered as great a breach of good manners to
extol one’s children, or for that matter, husband, wife, or any other
member of the family, as to belaud oneself. The mother, burning as
she may be to expatiate upon her children’s marvellous sharpness or
sagacity, will to the last speak disparagingly of them, but in a tone
which clearly expects from the hearer an emphatic protest against her
depreciation of her own offspring. Indeed, to take her at her word
would be to incur her undying displeasure.

Children too, on their part, brighten every household; and were it
not for their enlivening presence, the Japanese home with its
staid manners and cold civilities would be intolerably dull. The
wife, debarred as she usually is by household duties from social
distractions, would if childless lead a monotonous life; and the
absence of little ones she would take to heart as if she were
personally to blame for it and feel that she has missed the primary
object for which she entered into wedlock. She would also have to put
up sometimes with the reproaches of her husband or his parents for
this failure of issue and consent to the adoption of a child to whom
she must concede the love which she had hoped to reserve for her own
flesh and blood. But happily for the wife, we are on the whole a
prolific nation untroubled by the phantom of race suicide, and every
woman is prepared to bring up a family, which is in her eyes as much
the wife’s destiny as in girlhood she looked upon marriage as her
inevitable fate. Her absolute concentration upon her own home, though
it is a serious obstacle to her social development, brings its
compensation when her wedded life is crowned with maternity, and in
the smiles of infancy she finds ample consolation for the monotony of
her home. This intense love of children is one of the brightest traits
of Japanese home life, and with the reverence for old age, gives it a
tone of quiet, undemonstrative happiness.

It will therefore be readily imagined with what eagerness the arrival
of the little stranger, is awaited and how the childless wife will
move heaven and earth for the blessings of motherhood. She will try
nostrums of every kind, submit to any regimen however irksome, that
may be prescribed for her, and visit watering-places and other resorts
for the improvement of her physical condition; she will offer prayers
at one temple after another, or sometimes make long pilgrimages for
the purpose, in defiance of the popular belief that a child born in
answer to prayer is either itself doomed to early death or destined to
cut short its parents’ lives.

When the unpleasant symptoms of morning-sickness warn the wife that
she is about to become a mother, a midwife is called in from time
to time to examine her and relieve her pain. In the fifth month an
auspicious day is selected on which her relatives are invited to
dinner to hear the formal announcement of her interesting state.
On this day the midwife girds her under her clothes with a wide strip
of bleached cotton, with the object of keeping the child as small as
possible so as to ensure a light delivery. This girdle is worn up to
the moment of birth. With the same object the wife does considerable
amount of active housework, such as cleaning and sweeping the rooms,
until the beginning of the last month when she ceases from all work
and calmly awaits the delivery. Meanwhile, the midwife pays periodical
visits, and in a well-to-do family she is often made to live in the
house during the last month. She usually assists alone at the birth,
for a doctor is seldom called in unless complications have set in or
surgical operations are necessary. The accouchement, if indeed it
can be so called which in Japan takes place in a sitting posture, is
effected, if in the daytime, in a room darkened with half-closed doors
and a screen round the bed. The delivery is left as far as possible to
nature. The midwife, who is deeply versed in the intricacies of the
lunar calendar, can always tell the exact hour at which the tide
begins to flow, when the delivery oftenest occurs; and until that time
she merely soothes and alleviates. On the whole, the curse of Eve sits
lightly on her daughters in Japan, for which we have probably to thank
the simplicity of our diet and mode of life. The woman who dies in
child-birth is an object of infinite pity; her fate is supposed to be
the consequence of her sins in a former state of existence. In lonely
country-sides, in memory of such a woman, a piece of white cloth
supported on four sticks is set over a stream, together with a ladle,
with which passers-by are entreated to pour water into the cloth,
because only when the cloth rots away completely will she be purged
of her sins and enabled to enter Paradise.

Immediately the child is born, the midwife cuts off the umbilical
cord, washes the child in warm water, and dresses it in swaddling
clothes, after which it is shown to the mother and the rest of the
family. The after-birth is put in an earthen dish and covered with
another of the same material; the whole case is buried at the front
entrance, inside the door if a boy and outside if a girl, the reason
for the discrimination being that the latter is destined to
leave her home and, therefore, is not a permanent member of the
family. It is the custom now to have the case buried in a special
ground by a company formed for the purpose.


For the first day or two the child is given an infusion of a seaweed
which acts as a purgative; and if the mother is yet too weak, she gets
another woman to give it her milk until she is strong enough. She lies
with her head propped up high, and the child sleeps with her. On the
second day after the birth, the baby is washed again; and on the
sixth, friends and relatives are invited to a dinner to celebrate the
birth when the child’s name is given to it. The birth is also reported
on that day to the local office. The mother does not leave her bed
until the twenty-first day; and she is kept at low diet until the
seventy-fifth day when she can take the usual food and is considered
to be herself again. Until then she is supposed not to be purified
and cannot enter a temple or a shrine. On the same day she resumes
her household duties. In the meantime, the child is taken on the
thirty-first day if a boy and on the thirty-third if a girl, to the
shrine of the tutelary deity of the district, where prayers are
offered for its welfare. Then calls are made on those friends and
relatives who gave presents upon the child’s birth; and it receives
from them various toys, the principal of which is a papier-maché dog.
Such a dog is always placed at the head of the child’s bed at night
as a charm against evil influences.

The child is at first fed entirely with its mother’s milk; if she is
weak or sickly, a wet nurse is engaged in a family which can afford
one, but in poor homes the child is nourished with a very thin
rice-gruel. Cow’s milk is now largely used in Tokyo, and in many
families given together with human milk. Very often the former is
drunk in the daytime, and at night the mother who sleeps with the
baby, suckles it with her own milk. In Japan the mother, unless her
place is taken by the wet nurse, invariably sleeps with the youngest
child, and never leaves it by itself in a cot or bed. This has the
advantage that any ailment that the child may happen to suffer in the
course of the night is not left to be discovered in the morning when
it may be too late, but is detected at once and attended to
before it becomes serious. Thus, for instance, any rise in temperature
is immediately felt when the child gets its milk, and measures are
taken accordingly.


On the hundred and ninth day after the birth, occurs the
“first-eating,” at which a tray of food is set before the baby.
Friends are invited to take part in the ceremony. A lady friend who
has a large family of her own is asked to feed the child. She puts
into its mouth a little paste of boiled rice and wets its lips with
a drop of soup. Though the child generally spits out the paste, the
fiction of its eating is maintained, and the ceremony closes with
feasting among the invited guests. This “first-eating” is usually
deferred for five or ten days as a postponement is supposed to bring
luck to the child.

The infant is expected not to be able to walk in less than a
twelvemonth; but if it toddles within a year, a bag holding about
three pints of uncooked rice is laid on its back, and the child is
made to stumble and fall, because to walk before the first birthday
augurs, according to one authority, early death and according
to another, residence in a distant land. There are many other
superstitions connected with infancy. Thus, a child that begins to
suck its fingers before the thumb which represents the parents in
Japanese palmistry, will not be an encumbrance upon its father when it
grows up; if it pushes itself out in sleep beyond the head of its bed,
it will rise in the world, while a downward course is in store for
the one that slips in under its bed-clothes. The baby which eats fish
before it can say _toto_, the child’s name for fish, will stammer when
it talks. In a family in which children have one after another died in
infancy, the birth of a healthy infant is ensured by such charms as
making a dress for it with thirty-three pieces of cloth collected from
as many families, shaving the child’s head till its seventh year, and
giving a boy a girl’s name and _vice-versa_. A sovereign remedy for
prickly heat is to hang over the front door by a piece of red thread a
small egg-plant before any member of the family eats one that season.
Crying at night is stopped by suspending over the child’s bed a
picture of a devil beating a prayer-gong. Immunity from measles is
secured by putting over the child’s head for a moment the
rice-pot still hot after the removal of the rice, while a similar
treatment with the bucket for feeding the sacred horse at a shrine
is said to be equally efficacious against small-pox. The child’s
face is wiped with a wet scrubbing-cloth to cure it of shyness
before strangers. For whooping-cough there are several remedies: for
instance, a wooden spatula with the child’s name and an invocation
against the disease is nailed over the front door; the inked string
used by carpenters for marking lines is tied loosely round the neck;
a slender piece of nandina wood, just long enough for the child to
grasp, is hung by a red thread to its neck; or a pair of small square
wooden blocks are obtained from a temple dedicated to Jizo, the
protector of children, when the child is suffering from whooping-cough
and clapped whenever it coughs, and when it has recovered, the blocks
are returned to the temple with another pair bearing the child’s name.
If the infant stands up and bending down its head, peeps from between
its legs, another child will soon be born in the family; and if it has
a single streak on its thigh as a birth-mark, the next to be born will
be a boy, but if the streaks are double, the next will be a girl.
Mothers are especially warned against leaving their children’s clothes
out to dry at night, for the souls of women dying at child-birth fly
in the form of birds at dead of night and if they see children’s
apparel, they will, from envy, drop their blood upon it and the wearer
of the clothing so soiled will surely sicken and die. Infants in arms
must, when out at night, be covered with their own loin-cloth to avert
the malign influences of the night-demon.

[Illustration: CARRYING CHILDREN.]

Japanese babies are at first carried in arms. When they fall asleep
in the daytime, they are laid on a bed in a room where they can be
watched. They get early used to noise, and slumber on though the
watchers may talk aloud to each other. When they are a month or more
old, they are carried not only in arms, but on the back as well. In
the latter case, the child is tied by a long piece of bleached cotton
which is first passed under its arms and over the nurse’s shoulders
and after crossing in front, one end is passed under the girl’s arm
and over the child’s thighs and tied at the side to the other
end. Thus, the piece is carried over the child’s back in parallel
lines and crosses on the nurse’s breast. In cold weather, the nurse
and her charge are covered with a kind of _haori_, thickly wadded,
before being tied with the cotton. It keeps them both warm, while the
child’s breast and stomach are even better protected by the contact of
the nurse’s back. Very young babies are tied down straight with their
legs close together; but when they are older, they ride astride and
their feet dangle on either side. The nurse who is specially engaged
for the purpose is twelve or thirteen years old; but in poor families
the elder brother or sister takes her place. Little girls are often to
be seen in the streets, carrying on their backs sisters and brothers
only a year or two younger than themselves, whose feet, as they
dangle, almost trail on the ground. At first the girls can hardly
walk with such burdens; but they soon get used to them, and they run,
romp, and dance with their companions without much concern for their
charges, who are often put in very uncomfortable positions. These,
however, fare worse when they are on their brothers’ backs; for these
urchins, being rougher and more careless than their sisters, fly
kites, climb up trees, flourish bamboo poles to catch cicadas, run
after dragon-flies, and even snowball one another, utterly regardless
of the discomfort they occasion their charges, who, if they cry, are
knocked with the back of the head, and seem soon to become habituated
to the dangers they run through the recklessness of their carriers.
This manner of carrying on the back is only possible with Japanese
clothes, for the knot of the _obi_ behind prevents the child from
slipping down; and it would be difficult to try this method with
European clothes, with men’s because the tying down of the coat would
hamper the movement of the arms, and with women’s because of the
multiplicity of pins at the neck and the waist. Nurses tie a towel
round their heads so as not to let their back-hair fall on the babies’
faces. When the children are older and able to walk, they are carried
without being tied down, for they can catch hold by the shoulders or
by putting their arms loosely round the nurse’s neck, while they are
kept from slipping by the nurse’s passing her hands under them.

Among little toys given to infants is a wooden whistle with either end
rounded into a ball. It is given to the child to suck and bite and
like the coral, hardens the gums, thereby facilitating the teething.
The time for teething varies of course with the individual child and
is the source of as much anxiety to the Japanese mother as to that of
any other country.

On the fifteenth of November in the second year after the birth,
the child is again taken to the shrine of the tutelary deity of the
locality. A small offering of money is made; and in return the
consecrated _sake_ in a flat unglazed earthenware is given to the
child to sip, while the priest purifies its body by waving over it a
sacred wand adorned with strips of paper. The ostensible object of the
visit is to invoke the God’s blessing upon the child; but it is really
made the occasion for dressing up the child in finery, when parents
vie with one another in the richness of their children’s apparel.
Calls are then made on the friends who made congratulatory presents
to the child. The shrine is visited again on the same day of the same
month two years later in the case of a boy and four years later if
the child is a girl.

As soon as the child is able to toddle along, sandals or plain clogs
are tied to its feet when it walks on the ground. It learns first to
walk indoors. As there are no go-carts in Japan, it tries to stand up
by clinging to pillars and sliding-doors, for it may stumble and flop
down on the soft mats without hurting itself; it is when it runs, as
children will do, without being able to stop, that the greatest care
has to be taken that it does not tumble over the edge of the verandah.
In Tokyo perambulators are now pretty common; but in the old days
there was no special means of conveyance for children, and they had
to be carried in arms or on the back.

There is no fixed time for weaning. After its first birthday, ordinary
food is given to the child little by little until in a year’s time it
is able to do without its milk. Generally speaking, however, the time
for weaning is governed by the arrival of a younger brother or sister;
but the youngest is often allowed to take its mother’s milk up to its
fifth or sixth year, though of course, as it can’t be common food, it
goes to its mother only for diversion.

At three or four years children are sent to kindergarten, that is, if
they can gain admission, for these useful institutions are still few
even in Tokyo. There they are kept in good humour, everything being
done for their amusement. They sing together simple songs, have
object lessons, are set to make little things out of paper, and are
also allowed to romp about as they please. At six years, the minimum
school-age, they enter the primary school, the course at which extends
over six years. Here they are taught Japanese, arithmetic, elements of
history, geography, and natural history, elementary drawing, singing,
and gymnastics, and hand work for boys and needlework for girls. This
six years’ course is compulsory for all children; and there is a
higher primary school with two years’ course for those boys who cannot
afford to receive any higher education. The pupils who have completed
the course at the ordinary primary school are qualified to present
themselves for the entrance examinations of the higher schools, the
middle school for boys and the high school for girls.

Although a women’s university was established not long ago in Tokyo, a
girl’s education generally stops with the high school, if it goes so
far. As she has been six years in the primary and four in the high
school, she has had ten years of schooling if she has passed every
class satisfactorily from the first to the last, and she is sixteen
years old when she leaves the high school. And as a Japanese girl
usually marries at eighteen or nineteen, she has not much time to
spare before she has to think seriously of matrimony. Two or three
years of home life are all that is left her before she will have to
take charge of a household of her own. And further, as she is supposed
to pass the flower of her youth at four and twenty, a college course
would bring her dangerously close to the lower limit of spinsterhood,
and so, as things stand in Japan, female universities would, even were
they plentiful, not be so popular as they should deserve. In the high
school the same subjects, more advanced, are taught as in the lower
school, the only new subject of importance being domestic economy.

The middle school has a course of five years, in which the pupils are
taught, besides the advanced course of the subjects studied in
the lower school, Chinese classics, algebra, geometry, physiology and
hygiene, physics and chemistry, law and political economy. English
becomes a subject of importance, being taught seven hours a week. When
the course is completed satisfactorily by regular promotion every
year, the pupil is seventeen years old. He is now ready to commence
his secondary education, for which he will enter the special higher
schools for the professions or the preparatory high school for the

A very large percentage of children of the school-age pass through
the primary school; but of these a comparatively small proportion
enter the middle school, partly because many of them are too poor
or cannot be spared at home where they must help their fathers, and
partly because there are not middle schools enough to take in all
the applicants, though of late years these schools have greatly
multiplied. Formerly, parents were content to let their children
stop their education when they had passed the primary school unless
they intended to fit them for the professions; but now a general
recognition of the importance of education on modern lines has done
much to increase the demand for middle schools. There is still another
motive for entering the middle school. To the Japanese mother the
greatest source of anxiety on her boy’s account is his liability, when
he comes of age, to compulsory military service. Of course, he may
upon medical examination be pronounced unfit for service, or he may,
though strong enough, be exempted when lots are drawn among those who
have been passed by the medical examiners. But the former contingency
is naturally distasteful while the latter is too uncertain to be hoped
for with any degree of confidence. However, a comparatively easy way
of escaping some at least of the rigours of military service was
opened when the authorities permitted those who had completed the
middle-school course to offer themselves for a year’s voluntary
service. As such volunteers leave service with the rank of sergeant
at least, and even of commissioned officer if they pass certain
examinations, they are, needless to state, better treated than the
common soldiers. Moreover, though the prescribed age for conscription
is twenty, the students who enter colleges and other institutions
for secondary education are permitted to postpone their enlistment
until they graduate or reach the age of twenty-eight.

Children, as we have said, are very much petted. They are never
whipped or kicked, but occasionally slapped. Even at school they are
hardly ever subjected to corporal punishment; caning and birching are
unknown. Formerly they used to be made to stand on a school desk or
in a corner with a cup of water for half an hour or more; but now the
severest punishment is detention after school or suspension from
attendance for a certain period. Of course, at home or at school,
among their mates they may be knocked about; the hitting is done with
a swinging blow on the head or on the back, and very rarely with a
forward blow, for the art of boxing being unknown, the hits peculiar
to it are seldom resorted to. Kicking is not practised because, with
the clogs on, the kicker is as likely to hurt himself as the kicked,
while with the sandals or bare socks it is naturally out of the
question. People stamp with their clogs, but that can only be done
on a fallen foe.

Girls, when they congregate in the open air, play at blindman’s buff,
Puss-in-the-corner, and hide and seek, sing in a ring, and romp about
much in the same way as do their western cousins. Their amusements
are social, but quieter than those of boys, who though they play with
their sisters at first, develop, as in all other countries, sovereign
contempt for girlish sports when they approach their teens and engage
in rougher games of their own. Japanese boys do not box or use single
sticks, but they wrestle and fence. In wrestling, their object is to
made their adversary touch the ground with any part of his body or to
push him out of the ring, just as is done by professional wrestlers,
while the great point in fencing is to hit one’s opponent in a way
that would be fatal if a real sword were used. The fencing-sword is
made of four pieces of spliced bamboo bound together with a stout
string and capped at the tip with leather; it has a sword-guard
between the handle and the hilt. The combatants put on barred visors
with sides of thickly-wadded cloth, which is tightly tied at the neck.
They have also on thick gauntlets and body pieces of stout leather
around the waist. The legs are unprotected. Blows are given on
the crown, arms, waist, and legs, and a thrust is made at the throat.
Sometimes the fencers throw down their weapons and wrestle, when the
victor must bring down his opponent on the ground and getting astride
of him, untie the band and pull off his visor. It is an exercise more
exciting and fatiguing than fencing with foils.

[Illustration: FENCING.]

Birds’ nesting is unknown; but if birds are exempted from the Japanese
boy’s cruelty, their place is taken by the cicada and the dragon-fly,
and in late summer and early autumn, boys are to be seen running
after these insects with long lime-tipped bamboo poles and catching
the cicada as it emits its stridulous cry on the trunk of a tree and
the dragon-fly as it flits and flutters in the air. As these boys
flourish their poles in the open street, they not unfrequently catch
the unwary passers-by in the face, or their hats and clothes. But
butterflies and moths, in which Japan is especially rich, are free
from their pursuit. Indeed, Japanese boys do not as a rule go in for
collection of natural objects.



  Unlucky ages—The Japanese cycle—Celebration of ages—Respect for old
  age—Death—Preparations for the funeral—The wake—The coffin and
  bier—The funeral procession—The funeral service—Cremation—Gathering
  the bones—The grave—Prayers for the dead—Return presents—Memorial
  services—The Shinto funeral.

When the Japanese child has passed through its teens without any
serious mishap, its mother is not yet altogether free from anxiety;
for there are certain stages of its life at which it is threatened by
misfortune. Superstition has fixed certain ages, different according
to sex, which must be passed with utmost circumspection if one would
escape calamities; these ages are the twenty-fifth, forty-second,
and sixty-first years for men and the nineteenth, thirty-third, and
thirty-seventh years for women. Here we may note a curious way of
counting years commonly practised in Japan; in official reports and
legal documents one’s age must be given according to the number of
full years and months one has lived, but on other occasions we have a
very loose way of computing our ages. Thus, when we say that a man is
thirty years old, we do not mean that he is full thirty years of age
or that he is in his thirtieth year, but we mean that he has seen
thirty solar years of the almanac; that is, if we say in 1910 that
he is thirty years old, we mean that he was born some time in 1881,
and if his birthday is the New Year’s Day, he would be twenty-nine
years old on the same day of 1910, but if it is the thirty-first of
December, he would be only twenty-eight years and a day on the first
day of 1910, still we speak of him in either case as being thirty
years old. A baby born on the last day of the year would be two
years old the next morning; its second year according to our mode of
computation is, in short, the solar year in which it completes its
first twelvemonth. When, therefore, we say, for instance, that a man’s
first inauspicious age is his twenty-fifth year, we mean the
solar year in which he completes his twenty-fourth year. Thus, the
twenty-fourth, forty-first, and sixtieth years of a man and the
eighteenth, thirty-second, and thirty-sixth years of a woman are
really their climacteric years; and of these the most critical are
the forty-first for a man and the thirty-second for a woman, for not
only these years themselves, but the years immediately preceding and
following each of them also, are considered inauspicious, so that the
crisis lasts in either case for three years, during which period men
and women refrain as much as possible from acts that may appear like
tempting Providence.

The sixtieth year is our grand climacteric, after which a man must be
prepared for death at any moment; but this age is treated as one for
congratulation and never for sorrow or anxiety, because it completes
our cycle of years. To each year is assigned an element of nature,
namely, wood, fire, earth, metal, or water, each of which is divided
into two kinds, elder and younger, so that there are practically ten
elemental signs by which the years are successively designated. Again,
there are twelve signs of animals, which are also applied to years;
these animals are the rat, ox, tiger, hare, dragon, snake, horse,
sheep, ape, fowl, dog, and boar. The years are designated in order
after these animals. Since, then, the years are named in succession
after the ten elemental and twelve animal signs, the same combination
of an elemental and an animal sign recurs every sixty years; the
year of the first sign of metal and the sign of the rat, which last
coincided with the year 1852, will come again in 1912, that is, sixty
years after the other. Our cycle, therefore, comprises sixty years;
and a man who has completed this sexagenary cycle is supposed to
return to childhood, and often wears red under-garments or red-lined
clothes and a red cap after the manner of children. He invites friends
and relatives to a dinner to celebrate the occasion.

The next celebration takes place when a man has reached his
seventieth year, which is named “a rarity since antiquity,” after the
saying that man has seldom since antiquity reached seventy years. The
septuagenarian distributes among his friends and relatives large,
round, red and white rice-cakes with the character signifying
longevity written on them. The seventy-seventh year is celebrated as
the fête of joy, because the characters for seventy-seven resemble the
character for joy when written in a certain style. On this occasion
fans, cloth wrappers, and rice-cakes with the character for joy
written on them are distributed among friends and relatives. The
eightieth year is celebrated in the same manner as the seventieth; and
the celebration of the eighty-eighth year, which is called the fête of
rice because of the resemblance of the characters for eighty-eight to
the character for that useful cereal. The ninetieth and hundredth
years are also celebrated when such opportunities occur.

When a man whose days have exceeded threescore years and ten passes
away, the words that his friends come and sometimes utter to his
surviving family sound more like congratulation than condolence; it
is not, however, as a cynic might suppose, that they congratulate the
family upon having ridden itself of a peevish old man who was a damper
upon all its innocent enjoyments; it is because they consider it a
matter for congratulation that he should have lived to such an age,
and since death must come to all, he was to be envied for having
succeeded so long in keeping off that unwelcome guest. They often add
the wish that similar good fortune may be theirs. The aged as a rule
live happily, except such as have no relatives nor any one else to
depend upon; and though they may complain of the infirmities that
come with years, they never lack sympathy and, so long as they do not
make themselves disagreeable, are treated with tenderness by their
friends and neighbours. The respect for old age, which is one of
the fundamental precepts of Confucian philosophy, is a national
characteristic in Japan no less than in China.

When an illness takes a serious turn or an injury is likely to prove
fatal, the members of the family are, if they live apart, summoned
home and gather around the death-bed. It is considered unfilial, and
unfortunate if unintentional, not to be present at a parent’s death,
as, for instance, children are warned not to go to bed with their
socks on even in the coldest weather since, in that case, they
would be unable to attend at their parents’ death-bed. When the
patient is in the last article of death, his wife and children put
their mouths close to his ear and call him by name; recalled by the
dear voices, life flickers for a moment and then goes out. And when
the glazed eyes and rigid face show that all is over, his lips are
wetted with drops of water; so universal is this custom that the
expression “to wet the dying lips with water” has come to signify the
tending of a patient in his last illness, as when we say that the wife
should be younger than the husband since it is her duty to wet his
dying lips with water. The folding screen which is usually set
around the head of the bed to soften the daylight in the sick-room, is
put upside down. The bed is replaced by a matting, and the quilt is
put over the body with its ends reversed so that its foot is over the
dead man’s breast; and a white cloth is laid over the face to hide it
as its exposure is believed to be an obstacle to the soul’s journey on
the road to Hades. A table of plain white wood is set at the head of
the bed. At the furthest end is placed a tablet of white wood, on
which the Buddhistic name of the deceased is written in Indian ink.
The Buddhistic name is the name by which the deceased will be called
in prayers and at his temple; he may have received it in his lifetime
as many people ask priests of high virtue and reputation to give them
such a name, or more often, the superior of the temple where the
funeral service is to be held, is communicated with immediately
and desired to give the name, which he fixes upon according to the
deceased man’s social position, calling, and services to the temple.
In front of the tablet are ranged in a line a vase with a branch of
the Chinese anise or oldenlandia, a cup of water, and a lamp lighted
with rape-oil; all these utensils are made of unglazed earthenware. On
the nearest edge is set an earthen censer in which incense-sticks are
kept constantly burning, with a box of the sticks beside it. A sword
or a knife is placed on or near the corpse to avert the malign
influences of evil spirits.


Meanwhile, the family shrine is not unfrequently covered to prevent
the ingress of the air polluted by the presence of the dead body.
The front gate is closed and, in shops and tradesmen’s houses, a
reed-screen is hung inside out over the front entrance with a notice
of the family bereavement and, often, of the date of the funeral. A
similar notice is sent to friends and relatives, and also advertised
in the papers. The family temple is notified and a priest comes from
it and recites prayers before the tablet. In the evening the body is
washed in a tub; first, cold water is poured into the tub and then
hot water is added to the required temperature. Superstitious people
insist at other times upon pouring hot water into any vessel and
then adding cold water even when the reverse process would be more
convenient, simply because the latter is the rule at the
body-washing. The washing is done by near relatives; sometimes the
body is merely wiped with water; and, in the case of a woman, the
water is simply poured on the body by inverting the dipper outward
with the left hand instead of inward with the right as on other
occasions. The head is shaved after washing by touching it with the
razor in small patches instead of running the razor continuously which
may presage a succession of misfortunes in the family. Next, the
grave-clothes are put on; the garment is made by two female relatives
sewing with the same piece of thread in opposite directions without
knotting the ends. Around the neck is suspended a bag containing
Buddhist charms and a small coin or picture of a coin to pay the
ferriage on the road to Hades. A rosary and a bamboo staff are also
put into the coffin. Mittens, leggings, and sandals are worn, the last
being tied with the heel-ends to the toes to signify that the dead
shall not return drawn back by love of this world. The wife, if the
deceased is her husband, sometimes cuts off her hair and puts it in
the coffin in token of her resolve never to marry again. Into the
child’s coffin a doll is put to keep it company on its lonely journey
to the other world. The coffin is then filled with incense powder or
dried leaves of the Chinese anise.

On the eve of the funeral a wake is kept. The body must be kept for at
least twenty-four hours after death. In great families where elaborate
preparations must be made for the funeral, it is often kept for
several days; but in most other houses the funeral takes place as soon
as possible. In the summer heat it is naturally important that the
body should be buried with the least delay. When more than one night
intervene between the death and the funeral, the wake is sometimes
held every night. Friends and relatives are invited, and they burn
incense before the coffin and offer prayers; and in the interval the
conversation turns upon the deceased and every effort is made to
console the bereaved family. A priest is called in from the family
temple, and he recites three or four prayers in the course of the
night. In a separate room a slight repast is offered to the persons
gathered in the house, and though _sake_ is drunk, it is taken very

[Illustration: COFFINS AND AN URN.]

The coffin is among the better classes a double box of wood, oblong
in shape to allow the body to lie in it. Sometimes the box is single
and almost square, the body being made to sit in it, and sometimes an
earthen jar is used; and among the poorest it is no more than a barrel
with bamboo hoops. The coffin is wrapped in white cloth. The bier may
be only a rest with poles extending at both ends; but in most cases,
especially if the coffin is oblong, it has a curved roof with a pair
of gilt lotus flowers in front and behind. The square coffin has
usually a baldachin over it; formerly it used to be carried in a
palanquin. The pall differs in colour according to the sex and age of
the deceased. It is made of two square wadded covers like quilts; and
the upper or outer cover is light-blue for a man and the lower one is
white if he has not yet reached his forty-first year and red if he
is past that age, while the outer cover is white for a woman, and
the inner red or pink according as she has or has not passed her
thirty-second year. The lower cover differs in colour according as the
deceased is under or over the age which is considered most critical
for one of the deceased’s sex.

The funeral usually takes place in the afternoon; but in summer the
_cortège_ leaves the house at an early hour of the morning. In the
country the mourners gather before the funeral and take a meal; but in
Tokyo it is usually the chief mourner who has a meal before starting.
At such a meal a second helping is never taken as it may presage
another death in the family. One bowl of rice on which clear bean-curd
soup is poured, is eaten with a single chopstick. At other times,
therefore, it is considered unlucky to take only one helping of rice.


The funeral procession is not always in the same order; but in a
middle-class funeral the order is commonly as follows:—The procession
is led by a person who acts as its guide; he is followed by men
carrying white lanterns on long poles, huge bundles of flowers stuck
in green-bamboo pedestals, birds in enormous cages, and stands
of artificial flowers which are almost always large gilt lotus plants;
these men always march two abreast with the exception of the caged
birds, for the flowers, natural or artificial, are invariably
presented in pairs, while the cages are single. They are the presents
of friends and relatives and their names are given on the wooden
tickets attached to these presents. The birds in the cages are taken
to the temple and there set free as an act of mercy, while the natural
flowers are thrown away or pulled to pieces by the children of the
poor in the neighbourhood who invariably come and beg when there is a
funeral. After the flowers comes the priest who has been sent from the
temple to return with the funeral procession; he is in a jinrikisha.
Then follow persons carrying incense and the tablet, and if the
deceased was a government official, a military or naval officer, or
otherwise a man of rank and position, the decorations which he
may have received are also carried. The tablet is carried by the
chief mourner or some other member of the family; in the latter case
the chief mourner follows the hearse. In the wake of some flags, on
one of which is inscribed the deceased’s Buddhistic name, comes the
hearse beside which walk the pall-bearers, generally persons in the
deceased’s employ. It is immediately followed by the family and
relatives, and then by other mourners. The mourners should properly
follow on foot; but frequently they go in jinrikisha and carriages;
moreover, it has become the custom for mourners who are not intimate
friends of the deceased to proceed straight to the temple and wait
there for the arrival of the procession.

When the funeral procession reaches the temple, the bier is placed in
front of the shrine, which stands at the furthest end of the temple
hall. The chief mourner, family, and relatives take their seats
usually on one side of the hall and the other mourners on the opposite
side, leaving a space between the shrine and the front entrance of the
hall for the officiating priest to hold the funeral service. When all
have taken their seats, the officiating priest, who is as a rule the
superior of the temple, enters with his assistants. With gong, bell,
drum, and cymbals the prayers are recited and sutras chanted. The
officiating priest then recites alone a prayer which is to guide the
spirit of the dead on the road to Hades. After this prayer, the chief
mourner, family, and friends and relatives advance in front of the
bier and, taking a pinch of incense, drop it into the censer to burn.
Where there are many mourners, two or more censers are placed close
to the bier and the incense-burning is begun simultaneously so as not
to keep the mourners waiting a long time for their turn. The chief
mourner and his nearest relatives come forward and thank the mourners
in the hall, or stand at the entrance and thank them as they leave.
Sometimes, an address expressive of sorrow or in eulogy of the
deceased is read by a relative or friend.

[Illustration: SERVICE AT THE TEMPLE.]

The bier is then taken to the crematory by the chief mourner and his
relatives. There are a few public cemeteries on the outskirts of
Tokyo, where the body may be taken immediately from the temple
and buried as it is. But for burial in a temple yard in the city the
body must be first burnt; and accordingly it is taken to a crematory.
There are seven crematories just outside Tokyo, none being permitted
in the city. The body is taken to one of these and put in an oven; the
fire is lighted; and the door of the oven is locked and the key taken
home by the chief mourner.

[Illustration: AT THE CREMATORY.]

Early next morning, the relatives return to the crematory, and in
their presence the oven is opened. The bones and ashes are gathered
into a tray, which is brought out and the mourners pick the bones from
among the ashes. Every piece must be picked up by two persons holding
it with two pairs of chopsticks and put into the urn. When all the
bones have been picked out, the urn is closed with a lid and taken to
the temple.

The grave may be dug in a small plot bought by the family in a public
cemetery when the body is to be buried with its coffin. In that case
a separate grave is dug for each body; but if it is to be interred in
a temple yard, one grave will serve for the whole family, for there is
a hollow under the tombstone which is closed with a stone, and at each
burial the stone is removed to put in the urn. The tombstone is
an upright stone, square in section and with a tapering top, which
stands on a stone pedestal. The front inscription merely gives the
name of the family with, perhaps, the family crest over it, and the
Buddhistic name of the deceased is engraved on a side. In a public
cemetery where the grave-enclosures are larger and a tombstone is set
up for every member of the family, the tombstone naturally cannot be
got ready in time for the funeral, and a wooden grave-post is stuck in
the grave with the Buddhistic name in front and the lay name and date
of decease on the sides.

[Illustration: GRAVES.]

After the funeral, the tablet of the deceased is set on a table at
home, and a light and incense are kept burning before it until the
seventh day from the day of decease; and prayers are offered at the
grave every day for the same length of time, after which a priest
comes from the temple every seven days until seven weeks are passed.
For forty-nine days the spirit of the dead wanders in the dark space
intervening between this world and the next, and every seven days it
makes an advance forward, in which it is materially helped by the
prayers of those it has left behind; according to some, the spirit
hovers for the same period over the roof of its old home, for
which reason many people dislike to remove until the period has
terminated from a house in which a member of the family has died,
as his spirit would have to hover over a house deserted by those he

At the end of the fifth week, packages of tea and boxes of cakes of
wheaten flour stuffed with red-bean jam are sent as return presents to
those persons who brought offerings to the dead. On the forty-ninth
day, forty-nine cakes are taken to the temple; in old times the human
body was believed to contain forty-eight bones, and if to these the
skull is added, the total becomes forty-nine, and as emblematic of
these bones, one of the cakes is made much larger than the rest. They
are offered before the dead, and after prayers have been recited and
incense burnt, the large cake is taken home and divided among the
family. A wake is sometimes kept on the night of the forty-eighth day;
and on the following day, after the service at the temple, those
who attend are taken to a restaurant and entertained, when the near
relatives, who have hitherto abstained from animal food in token of
their mourning, take it as this day ends the period of deep mourning.

A memorial service is next held on the hundredth day. On this day the
provisional tablet which has hitherto been set up in the family shrine
is exchanged for the permanent one; and at the temple also, the tablet
which is there kept is taken down from the shelf on which are placed
the tablets of the recently deceased. On the day of decease every
month prayers are recited and a meal-tray set before the tablet in the
family shrine. The next memorial service at the temple takes place on
the first anniversary, after which comes the second anniversary which,
after the method of reckoning mentioned at the beginning of this
chapter, is called the third anniversary, so that a second anniversary
is unknown in the commemoration of a death or any other event. The
later anniversaries on which services are held are the seventh,
thirteenth, seventeenth, twenty-third, twenty-seventh, thirty-third,
thirty-seventh, fiftieth, and every fifty years thereafter.


We have given above an outline of the ordinary Buddhist funeral,
though the procedure varies slightly with each sect of Buddhism. There
is, however, another form of funeral, which is performed with Shinto
rites. As, however, the two forms resemble each other in the main, we
may here give a few points of difference between them.


When a death takes place, it is reported at once to the shrine of the
local tutelary deity, and a Shinto priest called in. The date of the
funeral is then fixed. The body is laid in the upper part of a room,
and the face is covered with a white cloth; before it is set a table,
on which are put some washed rice, water, and salt, and a lamp is
lighted; and perfect silence reigns in the room. A tablet is placed
before the body and the ceremony of transferring the spirit of the
dead to the tablet is performed. Then a new bed and pillow are put in
the coffin and the body is laid on them with the face covered and a
new quilt put over it; and at the same time many favourite articles
of the deceased are laid beside him. The coffin is then filled up,
and the lid nailed on it. The body is never washed, but it is
sometimes wiped with a wet cloth if it has lain long in the sick-bed.
The coffin is laid on wooden rests, and rice, water, and salt offered
before it; it is next placed in a bier which has a roof like that of
a Shinto shrine. The funeral procession is led by the guide, who
is followed by bearers of lanterns and branches of _cleyera japonica_;
after them come priests and carriers of red and white flags with a box
of offerings between them. Next comes the officiating priest and after
him is carried a flag bearing the name of the deceased with his court
rank and title, if he had any; and then, more lanterns, followed by
the hearse and the rests behind it. The grave-post is carried next,
and after it marches the chief mourner, behind whom walk the near
relatives and after them, the general mourners. When the procession
reaches the hall for burial service, the bier, is laid on the rests
and the _cleyera japonica_ and the flag with the deceased’s name
are set up. Offerings of food are made before the coffin and the
officiating priest reads out a funeral address giving a short sketch
of the deceased’s life; and then all the priests, the chief mourner,
the relatives, and the rest of the mourners take each in turn a
_tamagushi_, which is a branch of _cleyera japonica_ with strips of
paper hanging from it, and laying it before the coffin, makes a bow to
the dead. The food is removed and the coffin brought down and buried,
the relatives throwing the earth into the grave. The grave-post is
next set up and fenced round with bamboo poles, which are connected
with sacred rope. The priest announces the burial and bows to the
grave, in which act he is followed by the mourners present. Before
leaving the burial-ground, all the mourners are purified by the
priests with a sacred wand. On the night of the funeral, when the
house has been purified by sprinkling salt water over it, the _cleyera
japonica_ and flowers of the season are put in vases before the
tablet, a lamp is lighted, and food is offered to it; and the priest
reads a prayer and, together with the others present, offers the
_tamagushi_ and bows to the tablet, after which the food is removed,
and the service ends.



  Composition—The writing-table—Odes—Songs—The _haiku_—Chinese
  poetry—Tea-ceremony—Its complexity—Its utility to women—The flower
  arrangement—The underlying idea—Its extensive application—The
  principle of the arrangement—Manipulation of the stalks—Drawing
  water—Vases—Tray-landscapes—The _koto_—The _samisen_—Its form—Its
  scale—How to play it—The crudity of Japanese music—Its unemotional

The greatest accomplishment, and the most useful, that the Japanese
woman can possess is unquestionably the art of sewing; but the
knowledge of needlework is so generally recognised as an indispensable
equipment of the housewife, forming as it does an important subject
of study in girls’ schools, that it is not often included in the
accomplishments recommended in Japanese books for women. The first
place among them is given to composition, that is, the art of writing,
more particularly, of letter-writing, for in Japan where considerable
difference exists between the spoken and written languages,
composition has to be specially learnt. In letter-writing, moreover,
there are many conventional phrases and turns of expression which
must be used though they may not add to the meaning; they give an
artificial character to Japanese letters and call for great diligence
if one would become a good letter-writer. A skilful and expressive
transcription of characters is also looked upon as an art of no mean
order. Middle-aged men, especially of the old school, often spend
hours on end in writing for practice; and a well-written piece on a
_kakemono_ is frequently hung in an alcove in place of a picture and
as highly appreciated. Many skilled caligraphists make a respectable
living by writing.


The writing-table is a low piece of board, three feet long and about
one wide, supported at either end or a few inches from it by a wooden
prop; and the writer, in sitting at the table, puts his knees under it
between the props. The paper used for letter-writing is rice-paper in
a long roll, which is unrolled as one writes. Most people can write
with the roll in their hands, letting the written portion drop as
the paper is unrolled. The ink is made by wetting and rubbing the
Indian-ink stick on a stone slab with a hollow at the upper end as
reservoir for the ink. The pen is a hair-pencil with a bamboo holder.
A paper-weight of metal is used to hold the paper down when we write
at the table; and the writer sits straight at the table and, dipping
the brush in ink, writes with it held almost perpendicularly and
lightly touching the paper.

Another literary accomplishment is the composition of odes. These are
short verses of thirty-one syllables, made up of two sets of five
and seven syllables each, closed by a line of seven syllables. To be
expressed within so small a compass, the idea must be at once single
and simple. It is commonly an epigrammatic presentation of a mood, it
may be, of love, longing, appreciation of nature, or consciousness of
the uncertainty of life. Sometimes it is didactic or expresses a moral
truth in simple or metaphorical language. Our national anthem is an
instance of this form of verse and runs as follows:—

  _Kimi ga yo wa
    Chiyo ni yachiyo ni
   Sazare-ishi no
    Iwao to narite
   Koke no musumade;_

which may be literally translated: “May Our Lord’s reign last for a
thousand, eight thousand ages, until little stones become rocks and
are covered with moss.”

A celebrated minister of state who lived a thousand years ago,
composed the following:—

  _Kokoro dani
     Makoto no michi ni
     Inorazu totemo
   Kami ya mamoran._

“If only our hearts follow the path of rectitude, the Gods will
protect us without our prayers.”

An Emperor saw one day in a private garden a plum-tree with a
bush-warbler’s nest in it. He took fancy to it and ordered it to be
transplanted to his palace-ground. The owner, who was a poetess and
court lady, obeyed as a matter of course, but to show her reluctance,
she hung to a branch of the tree a piece of paper with the following

  _Choku nareba
     Itomo kashikoshi
   Uguisu no
     Yado wa to towaba
   Ika ni kotaen._

“Since His Majesty commands, I obey with joy; but when the
bush-warbler comes and asks for his home, what answer shall I give?”
The Emperor, upon reading this ode, felt sorry that he had deprived
her of her favourite tree.

There are also other combinations; but all Japanese verses are
composed of pentasyllabic and heptasyllabic lines. What is known as
the long ode is a series of the two in alternation, closing with an
extra heptasyllable. Another verse is formed of a pair of sets, each
containing a pentasyllable and two heptasyllables; and still another
comprises four couplets of a heptasyllable and a pentasyllable each.
From these combinations has been evolved what is called poetry of the
new school, which is an indefinite series of five and seven syllables
in alternation. It is now very common; and almost all songs written to
the accompaniment of European music are in this form. In the following
children’s song which has for the last half dozen years been popular
in Tokyo, the English reader will recognise a very old friend:—

  _Moshi moshi kame yo
     kamesan yo
   Sekai no uchi ni
     omae hodo
   Ayumi no noroi
     mono wa nai
   Dōshite sonna ni
     noroi no ka
   Nanto ossharu
   Sonnara omae to
   Mukō no oyama no
     fumoto made
   Dochira ga saki ni
     kaketsuku ka
   Donna ni kame ga
     isoi demo
   Dōse ban made
     kakaru daro
   Kokora de chotto
     hito nemuri
   Gū gū gū gū
     gū gū gū
   Kore wa nesugita
   Pyon pyon pyon pyon
     pyon pyon pyon
   Anmari osoi
   Sakki no jiman wa

which may be rendered:

  “Please, please, Tortoise, Mr. Tortoise,
  There is in all the world no one
  So slow-footed as you;
  Why are you so slow?”
  “What do you say, Mr. Hare?
  Then, I will race with you and see
  Which will be the first to reach
  The foot of yonder hill.”
  “However the Tortoise may hurry,
  He will take at any rate till night;
  And here I will take a nap.”
  Snore, snore, snore, snore, snore, snore, snore.
  “I have slept too long; I have blundered.”
  Leap, leap, leap, leap, leap, leap, leap.
  “You are too late, Mr. Hare;
  Where is your boast of a while ago?”

Finally, there is a verse of two pentasyllables with a heptasyllable
between, which is more popular among men than any other form. The
_haiku_, as it is called, can hardly be given the name of poetry. It
is simply a suggestion of ideas which it is left to the hearer to
clothe with poetical sentiment; but the suggestion itself is far from
explicit and needs a person used to this form of verse to interpret it
in the sense intended. It is, in short, little more than a _tour de
force_ in the art of compression. For instance:

  _Furuike ya_
    _Kawazu tobikomu_
  _Mizu no oto._

  An old pond
    A frog jumping in
  The sound of water.

It pictures the loneliness of an old pond, around which all is so
still that the jumping of a frog into the water may be heard.

The composition of Chinese poems by Japanese is one of the most
artificial processes of poetising. Chinese characters are divided
according to their intonation into those of even and oblique sounds,
that is, characters which are pronounced straight and evenly and those
in the pronunciation of which the voice changes in tone. A Chinese
poem is composed in various combinations of these two kinds of
characters, and certain lines in a verse have to rhyme. Now, the
Japanese pronunciation of Chinese characters makes no distinction in
their intonation; they are all pronounced in the same tone, Hence,
whereas a Chinese can tell at once by its pronunciation whether a
character has an even or an oblique sound, a Japanese must learn by
heart the tone-quality of every character if he wishes to compose
Chinese poems; the knowledge of this tone-quality is of no use to a
Japanese for other purposes. Moreover, the Japanese pronunciation of
Chinese characters differs entirely from the Chinese; it is believed
to be a corruption of the Chinese pronunciation in ancient times.
The normal grammatical order in a Chinese sentence is that the verb
precedes the object, whereas in Japanese the object usually precedes
the verb; the result is that in reading a Chinese poem in Japanese
the rhyming words do not always end the lines. As the Japanese simply
composes according to rule, his lines are sometimes unrecitable in
Chinese. Now, to show the difference between the Chinese and Japanese
manner of reading a Chinese poem, we will first give a poem in the
original Chinese.

  (1) 滕王高閣臨江渚
  (2) 佩玉鳴鸞罷歌舞
  (3) 畫棟朝飛南浦雲
  (4) 珠簾暮卷西山雨
  (5) 閒雲潭影日悠々
  (6) 物換星移幾度秋
  (7) 閣中帝子今何在
  (8) 檻外長江空自流

The Chinese would read the poem in this style:—

  (1) _T’eng wang kao kê lin kiang chu_
  (2) _P’ei yü ming luan pa kê wu_
  (3) _Hua tung ch’ao fei nan p’u yün_
  (4) _Chu lien mu kuan hsi shan yü_
  (5) _Hsien yün t’an ying jih yu yu_
  (6) _Wu huan hsing i chi tu ch’iu_
  (7) _Kê chung ti tzu kin hê tsai_
  (8) _Kien wai ch’ang kiang k’ung tzu liu._

The Japanese would read it in an entirely different manner:—

  (1) _Tō-ō no kōkaku kōsho ni nozomeri_
  (2) _Haigyoku meiran kabu wo yamu_
  (3) _Gwatō ashita ni tobu nanpo no kumo_
  (4) _Shuren kare ni maku seizan no ame_
  (5) _Kan-un tan-ei hi ni yū-yū_
  (6) _Mono kawari hoshi utsuru ikutabi no aki_
  (7) _Kakuchū no teishi ima izuku ni zo aru_
  (8) _Kangwai no chōkō munashiku onozukara nagaru._

We will next give a word-for-word translation of the Chinese:—

  (1) T’eng prince high tower overlook river shore
  (2) Gird jewel sound bell stop song dance
  (3) Picture roof-tree morning fly south coast cloud
  (4) Crimson blind evening roll west hill rain
  (5) Quiet cloud deep-water shadow day far far
  (6) Thing change star move how many time autumn
  (7) Tower interior emperor son now where is
  (8) Balustrade outside long river vain of-itself flow.

The following translation into intelligible English will help to show
the elliptical character of Chinese poetry:—

  (1) The high palace of Prince T’eng looks down upon river and shore;
  (2) No more, in cars with jewels decked and tinkling bells, the
      courtiers come for song and dance,
  (3) Around the painted roofs fly at morn the clouds from the
      southern coast;
  (4) The crimson blinds, rolled up at eve, reveal the rain on the
      western hill;
  (5) And far away appear the quiet clouds and darkling pools.
  (6) Things change, time passes, and how many years are gone?
  (7) And the prince of this palace, where is he now?
  (8) The long river beyond the balustrade flows on alone and

Chinese poetry has, it will be seen, the conciseness of a skeleton
telegram; but in elasticity and pregnancy of meaning, in disregard of
time and, indeed, in contempt of grammar, no telegram, skeleton or
other, can come up to it.

[Illustration: TEA-MAKING.]

The tea-ceremony is, perhaps, the strictest and most complicated of
all the ceremonies with which the cultured Japanese used to surround
himself. The ceremony, when carried out in full, is very intricate;
but it may be briefly described as follows:—First, the guests who
arrive on the appointed day are shown into the waiting-room and when
they are all assembled, they are conducted into the tea-room. This
room should properly be a building by itself, and the commonest
size is nine feet square, that is, one of four mats and a half, the
half mat being in the centre. The maximum number of guests is five,
four of whom sit in a row and the fifth at right angles to the rest.
The host faces the row; he brings in the tea-utensils and sets them in
order. The guests are first regaled with a slight repast; and when it
is over, they are requested to retire into the waiting-room, while the
host puts away the trays and plates and sweeps the room. They are then
called in again. A small quantity of powdered tea is put into the
tea-bowl which is used on these occasions, and hot water is poured
into it and stirred with a bamboo-whisk until it is quite frothy. The
bowl is handed to the guest at the head of the row; he takes three
sips and a half, the fourth sip being called half a sip as it is much
slighter than the first three, and after wiping the brim carefully, he
passes it on to his neighbour, who also sips and hands the bowl to the
third guest, and so on to the fifth guest, who returns it empty to
the host. After this loving-cup, the host stirs a bowl for each
of his guests, that is, he makes tea in the bowl for the first guest,
who drains it in three sips and a half and returns it to the host, who
then washes it and makes a fresh bowl of tea for the second guest, and
so on until the last guest is served. As this process takes a long
time on account of the formalities which have to be observed in
making, serving, and drinking the beverage, sometimes two bowls are
used so that while one guest is drinking and admiring a bowl, the host
can be making the other for the next. The tea in the loving-cup is
stronger than that in the others.

The bare procedure is simple; but the complexity lies in the hard
and fast rules to be observed in the arrangement of the room, and
respecting the utensils to be used, the manner in which they should be
handled in making tea, the way in which the tea should be drunk, the
number and style of bows and salutations to be made in offering,
receiving, and returning the bowls, and also in the instructions as to
when and how the bowls and other articles in the room are to be taken
up and admired, and the manner of expressing such admiration and
of replying thereto. The formalities are as strict as court
ceremony and are often irksome to the beginner who is nervous and
afraid of exposing himself at every step.

The description above given refers to the formal process as practised
by one of the schools of the ceremony, which can be followed only in a
family which can afford to build a separate tea-room for the purpose.
But the ceremony need not always be so exacting. The general
principles, such as the making, offering, and drinking of powdered
tea and the courtesies accompanying it, are now taught in most girls’
schools, because the knowledge of the ceremony certainly adds to
their grace and imparts to them that quiet, stately bearing which
characterises the Japanese lady of culture. Indeed, this calm, sedate
gracefulness is the result of the study of the tea-ceremony and is
assuredly a more valuable acquisition than the knowledge of the
formalities themselves.

Flower arrangement is an art which plays an important part in the
decoration of a room; for the _kakemono_ which hangs in the alcove of
the parlour loses half its attraction unless there is before it on the
dais a vase of flowers to match. The alcove is the part of the room
which draws first notice upon entrance, and the flowers share with the
_kakemono_ the earliest attention of the newcomer.

The idea underlying the art is that flowers should not be thrown
anyhow in a bundle into a vase, but that due consecration should be
given to their artistic arrangement. The flowers should even in a vase
be arranged as they might appear in nature. It is not always, it is
true, as they actually appear in the open air: but they are arranged
as they might look if aided by art under certain conditions, for the
flowers in the vase always have a degree of symmetry which is but
rarely found in nature. Their form is often artificial, but not
opposed to nature, just as dwarfed trees are stunted by art but have
perfectly natural shapes. The rules regarding the position of the
branches in a vase are certainly conventional, insisting as they do
upon balance and symmetry of form, but they do not go beyond the
bounds of possibility. The only objection, in fact, that might be
brought against them is that there is always present the danger of
taking for normal forms what are seen in nature perhaps but once
in a million. But of the gracefulness of the arrangement there can be
no two opinions.

[Illustration: FLOWER-VASES.]

Although we speak of flower arrangement, the art is not confined to
flowers, but extends also to the treatment of trees and shrubs without
flowers. Among the trees, the branches of which are, when in flower,
put into vases, are the plum, camellia, cherry, peach, rose, azalea,
Japan quince, and wistaria, while the herbaceous flowers are
innumerable and include such different plants as the pot marigold,
corchorus, peony, bleeding-heart, iris, anemone, primrose, red-bud,
sweet flag, hydrangea, clematis, safflower, corn-poppy, common mallow,
day lily, cockscomb, globe amaranth, chrysanthemum, narcissus, lady’s
slipper, and Cape jasmine. Branches of trees noted for their foliage
are also put into vases, such as the magnolia, yulan, pine, and
similar evergreens; and others bearing fruit are in no less favour,
like the loquat, plum, nandina, and pomegranate. In short, the
art is practised with most trees and shrubs, cultivated or wild.

The principle of the arrangement in its simplest form, which deals
with three stalks or branches, is that the middle stalk or branch,
which is the longest, shall rise perpendicularly, or nearly so, and of
the remaining two one shall branch off horizontally to one side and
the other slant upward on the other side of the central stalk or
branch. More stalks or branches may be taken, but their positions are
only amplifications of the two lateral ones. The central piece being
always single and amplifications being of equal number on both sides,
there is invariably an odd number of stalks or branches. The manner of
amplification or the position of the secondary stalks varies with the
different schools of flower arrangement. The only condition they all
insist upon is that the stalks or branches shall be in a way balanced
on either side, but shall not show perfect symmetry which is never to
be found in nature.

As stalks which completely satisfy the conditions required for their
artistic arrangement cannot be readily procured, it becomes necessary
to bend and twist them into the requisite shape. They must be so bent
and twisted as not to snap, crush the fibres, or display splits, but
to conceal the artificial alteration of their structure. While the
arrangement of the stalks and flowers calls for taste and judgment,
their manipulation demands no less dexterity in carrying out the
design formed; and it needs considerable practice to be able to bend
the soft stalk of the orchid and the tough branch of the plum with
equal ease and neatness.

Next in importance to the arrangement of the flowers is the manner of
making them draw water. To this end various devices are used, of which
the commonest is to burn the bottom-end of the stalk; this end, on
being then dipped into the vase, sucks up water which is thereupon
circulated into the rest of the stalk. The hardwood of a tree branch
is often crushed at the end to facilitate its permeation by water.
Some plants are put into hot water; others are covered with mud or
nicotine at the end; and others again are dipped in a strong solution
of tea and Japan pepper. Salt is sprinkled over bamboo to keep
off insects, and with the same object tobacco powder is thrown on some

The shape of the vase is also of importance and has to be taken into
consideration with the _kakemono_ exhibited. They are of various
shapes. The commonest are of china, tall, round, and slightly bulging
in the middle. Sometimes they are more slender, and sometimes no
more than deep dishes, square or round. If they are to be hung up
by a chain, as in a tea-room, they are shaped like a boat or a
water-bucket; or if they are to be hooked on a peg, they are made of
china or bamboo. The pedestal for the vase is also of diverse shapes.
It may be a flat piece of wood or china, or have legs, one at each of
the four corners or one at either side flattened out.

[Illustration: A TRAY-LANDSCAPE.]

Another art is the making of what are called “tray-landscapes.” For
this an elliptical tray, whose diameters are about a foot and a foot
and a half, is taken, and on it landscapes and sea-views are drawn
with pebbles for rocks and sand of various fineness for the ground.
Such a landscape forms an ornament for the parlour.

[Illustration: THE _KOTO_.]

The only Japanese musical instrument taught in girls’ schools is the
_koto_, a kind of zither. As the _koto_ is the most adaptable of all
Japanese instruments to western music, it is more readily learnt than
others at schools where the piano and the violin are also taught.
There are several kinds of _koto_, the number of strings on them
ranging from one to twenty-five; but the one exclusively used at
schools has thirteen strings It has a hollow convex body, six
feet five inches long and ten inches wide at one end and half an inch
narrower at the other, and stands on legs three and a half inches
high. The strings are tied at equal distances at the head or broader
end and gathered at the other; they are supported each by its own
bridge, the position of which varies with the pitch required. Small
ivory nails are put on the tips of the fingers for striking the

But extensively as the _koto_ is practised by school-girls and ladies
of position, the national musical instrument is the _samisen_, a
Japanese variant of the old European rebec which was introduced
into the country by the Portuguese in the sixteenth century. In
the old days it was considered vulgar to play the _samisen_, which
consequently lay long in obloquy and was only to be found among the
merchant and lower classes. But now, though the prejudice against it
is still strong among old-fashioned people, it is in greater favour
than the _koto_. It is played everywhere, at home, in story-tellers’
halls and theatres, and at every tea-house party.

In its common form the _samisen_ has a belly, four inches thick and
covered with skin, which has convex sides, seven and nearly
eight inches respectively, and has attached to it a neck twenty-five
inches long with a tail-piece of six inches. There are three pegs in
the tail-piece for the three strings of the instrument, which are
carried over the neck and tied at the further end of the belly where a
small movable bridge keeps them from touching the face of the belly.
The belly rests side-wise on the right knee of the player, whose right
hand strikes the strings with an ivory plectrum, while the fingers of
the left hand support the neck and stop the strings. The top-string is
the thickest and has the lowest notes, while the third string is the
finest and has the highest notes. The _samisen_ just described is
known as the slender-necked _samisen_; the other kind, which is of
larger dimensions, with thicker strings and is played with a heavier
plectrum, is only used in singing _gidayu_, or ballad-dramas.

On the scale of the _samisen_ there is still a great diversity of
opinion, musical authorities being unable to agree as to the exact
nature of the notes it emits. Its scale is certainly different to that
of any European instrument; but, roughly-speaking, its range is about
three octaves, the notes of which are put at thirty-six, comprising
what would in European music be sharps and flats. The ranges of the
two kinds of _samisen_ naturally differ, the smaller giving higher
notes than the other.

[Illustration: THE _SAMISEN_.]

The _samisen_ is early taught. Girls of seven or thereabouts are made
to learn it while their fingers are still very pliant. But the lessons
are hard to learn as the tunes have to be committed to memory, for
there are no scores to refer to. There is no popular method of
notation; the marks which are sometimes to be seen in song-books
are too few to be of use to any but skilled musicians. The lighter
_samisen_ does not require much exertion to play; women can thrum it
for hours on end; and they make slight indentations on the nails of
the middle and ring fingers of the left hand for catching the strings
when those fingers are moved up and down the neck to stop them. But
with the heavier kind the indentations are deeper, and the constant
friction of the strings hardens the finger-tips and often breaks the
nails, while still worse is the condition of the right hand which
holds the plectrum. The plectrum, the striking end of which is
flat as in the one for the slender-necked _samisen_, is heavily leaded
and weighs from twelve ounces to a pound when used by professionals;
and the handle, which is square, is held between the ring and little
fingers for leverage and worked with the thumb and the forefinger. At
first the pressure of the corners upon the second joint of the little
finger is very painful; but the skin becomes in time indurated and
insensible to pain. It requires both strength and dexterity to strike
the thick, hard-drawn strings with such a heavy plectrum.

The peculiar scale on which it is based has prevented Japanese music
from being appreciated by foreigners. That it is crude is undeniable;
indeed, no other Japanese art has been left so undeveloped. In most
other arts we have stamped our national individuality upon what we
borrowed from others; but in music we can hardly say that there
is anything characteristically Japanese about the slow tunes of the
thirteen-stringed _koto_ or the quicker jangle of the three-stringed
_samisen_. They have of course changed in our hands from their
original forms; but the alteration is not something that we can
attribute to our national genius as we should in the case of our
pictorial, glyptic, or ceramic art. Moreover, music has never, like
the other arts, had munificent patrons. We read often enough of a
great daimyo or lord in the old days surrounding himself with famed
painters, sculptors, makers of lacquered ware or swords, but never of
one taking under his protection a musician of note. What musicians
enjoyed his favour were those employed for the performance of music
at sacred rites; and none won the daimyo’s patronage by the charm or
power of his music. No encouragement was then held out to music; and
even the musicians whose names are known to posterity earned their
living, precarious at best, by catering to the general public.

_Samisen_-music cannot in truth be said to appeal emotionally even
to those Japanese who enjoy it. They admire a _samisen_-player for
his execution, for the lightness and rapidity of his touch and the
rich resonance of the strings under it; but of the expression, the
emotional quality of music, neither he nor his audience know anything
and probably care as little. And it must be admitted that the
_samisen_ can never charm and enthrall us like the deep-sounding
cathedral organ; and its want of volume deprives it of any power to
make a cumulative impression upon us. In short, our _samisen_-music is
mainly a matter of dexterity, with a modicum of taste and judgment.
We do not look to it to sway our passions—to move us to tears or
laughter, to stir up in us anger, awe, pity, or wonder, or to fire us
into bursts of patriotic enthusiasm.



  Pleasures—_No_-performance—Playgoing—The theatre—Japanese
  dramas—_Gidayu_-plays—Actors—A new school of
  actors—Actresses—Wrestling—Wrestlers—The wrestling booth—The
  wrestler’s apparel—The Ekoin matches—The umpire—The rules
  of the ring—The match-days—The story-tellers’ hall—Entertainment
  at the hall.

We Japanese do not take our pleasures sadly; for when upon pleasure
bent, we give ourselves to it heart and soul and forget for the nonce
the cares and troubles that may at other times weigh upon our minds.
And foreign observers, from seeing us in our hours of relaxation,
taunted us, at least until our war with Russia showed us in another
light, with frivolity and pronounced us a nation incapable of taking
things seriously. Nothing could have been further from the truth than
to suppose that we lead a butterfly existence, for we are as a nation
serious, indeed, if anything, too serious. The _abandon_ with which we
throw ourselves into the gaieties of the moment is attributable rather
to the rarity of our opportunities. Our women, in particular, have
very little leisure, and if they wander with childish delight in
avenues of cherry-blossoms or sit with quiet content on the verandah
under the harvest-moon, it is because they are glad to snatch a few
hours of innocent enjoyment from their round of almost ceaseless
household work. The simplicity of our pleasures is but the natural
outcome of the simplicity of our lives; and if we have not the
comforts and conveniences of European homes, neither do we suffer
from the feverish stress and strain of European social life.

Of the various forms of public entertainment in Japan, the oldest and
peculiarly Japanese is the _no_-dance. It is a posture-dance performed
to the accompaniment of flutes and drums, while a ballad is sung at
the same time to explain the movements. It was developed
from the ancient religious dances and first came into vogue in the
sixteenth century. The ballad, which is known as _utai_, is written in
a mixture of the Chinese and old Japanese styles and cannot be readily
comprehended by those who are not versed in these styles. The dance is
slow and stately, though sometimes there are quick movements in it; it
is performed by men with masks and in robes which were worn in ancient
times; the actors on the stage at a time are few; and the stage itself
has, except in rare cases, little setting. It is not, therefore,
everybody that can appreciate a _no_-performance; indeed, the fact
that it is caviare to the general and its superiority in point of
refinement to the common dances of the people have won for it great
popularity among the upper and middle classes; and the performances
are largely attended. Many people also practise singing the _utai_;
it has the advantage over other ballads, when it is unaccompanied by
a dance, of being sung without any musical instrument. The _utai_
ballads are comparatively short, and in a single performance several
of them are sung and danced.

[Illustration: A _NO_-DANCE.]

The same _no_-dance is seldom repeated in a run. The programme is
changed every day, because popular as the _no_ is in a sense, its
patrons are yet too few to justify a run of the same dance. For a
larger public we must turn to the drama. The play is in Japan as in
other countries the most popular public amusement; but in few other
lands is playgoing such an elaborate diversion as it is with us. In
the old days the theatre opened early in the morning and did not
close until nearly midnight; but some twenty years ago the police
authorities limited the length of a performance to eight hours, and
now it lasts from six to nine hours. In some theatres the doors open
at four in the afternoon and close at ten or eleven; this allows a
professional man to hurry to the theatre as soon as his office-hours
are over and witness a performance in half an hour or so from its
commencement; but other houses open at twelve or one and close at nine
or ten. Playgoing was in the old times a whole day’s work, and women
would prepare for it days beforehand and often lie awake the preceding
night so as not to be late for the opening hour. They took their meals
at the tea-houses, which are even now attached to the theatres,
especially the larger ones. Through these tea-houses people book their
seats in the theatre; and they go there first to divest themselves
of unnecessary paraphernalia before entering the play-house and are
thence provided with meals and refreshments which they take while
looking at the performance. It is therefore to the interest of these
tea-houses that the performance should be going on at meal-time.
Those who cannot afford to visit a tea-house go direct to the theatre
and are similarly looked after, except in the case of those in the
cheapest seats, by attendants detailed for the purpose. In fact,
eating and drinking is inseparable from playgoing in Japan. People
eat and drink while looking at a performance; some even cannot enjoy
it unless they are regaled at the same time with _sake_. Playgoing
is, in short, an expensive pastime in Japan.



The theatre is a large oblong building. Over the great entrance hangs
a row of wooden-framed pictures representing the scenes played; the
side-entrances lead to the gallery. In front of the stage as one
enters the theatre is the pit, which is partitioned into small
compartments capable of holding four or five persons squatting.
On either side are two stories of boxes and facing the stage across
the pit is the gallery on the second or third story, which is mostly
patronised by playgoers who, being unable to pay for the whole
performance, come to see one or two of the best acts. From the sides
of the stage two entrance-passages run through the pit towards the
entrance. Actors walk under the passages to the entrance end and
coming out into a box, make their appearance on the entrance-passage.
These passages are very convenient as they give a larger room to the
stage and impart a sense of distance when it is not expedient to
crowd too suddenly on the stage. The stage is screened off from
the auditorium by a drawn curtain in the larger theatres and by a
drop-curtain in some of the smaller. When a popular actor is playing
or some special piece is performing, curtains are presented by the
patrons of the actor or the theatre; and in such a case several
curtains are drawn one after another between the acts across the
stage for the admiration of the audience. Another peculiarity of the
Japanese stage is the revolving-stage. A scene is set upon the front
half of a turn-table which is flush with the rest of the stage floor;
and while that scene is being acted, the carpenters are putting up the
next in the rear half; and when the first scene is over, the table
revolves and brings the second to view, and so the play is continued
without interruption. Yet another peculiarity is the presence on
the stage of black-veiled men in clothes of the same colour. They
are known as “blackamoors” and supposed to be invisible. At the
commencement of a run; they stand or sit behind the actors and prompt
them; they remove from the stage any article that has ceased to be of
use or pull away the dead in a fight if they are found to be in the
way, or push a cushion to an actor when he is about to sit down. They
are of great use, though it is hard to acquiesce in the fiction of
their invisibility. The stage music is played usually on one side of
the stage; but when a _gidayu_ is required, its performers are seated
on a high perch to the left of the stage.

[Illustration: THE REVOLVING-STAGE.]

Only in rare cases is the day’s performance taken up by a single
play. The usual course is to have two plays, the first being of an
historical character or concerned with disturbances in a daimyo’s
family, and the second being a domestic play. For the Japanese
drama is divided into three classes, the first being the historical
drama, which deals with the times of war, most frequently in the
twelfth, fourteenth, and sixteenth centuries, that is, the periods
of the feuds which led to the establishment of the Shogunate, of the
insurrections which resulted in the temporary rule of the country by
two lines of Emperors, and of the ascendancy of the Taiko and Tokugawa
Iyeyasu; the second treats of what are known as disturbances in
noble families, the most common cause of which was the struggle for
succession between the rightful heir and an illegitimate child of a
daimyo; and lastly, the domestic drama depicts scenes in the lives
of the common people, the favourite heroes and heroines of which
were in the old days chivalrous gamblers, magnanimous robbers, and
self-sacrificing courtesans. Of late, however, the domestic drama has
greatly extended its scope, for now it presents pictures of modern
life in reputable society. Then, two plays are acted in a performance,
and there is not unfrequently a middle piece or an after-piece, or
both, and such a piece presents a bright and gay scene with dancing in
it. Thus, a performance is made to suit all tastes. This rule of two
plays is not always adhered to; it is frequently disregarded by the
new school of actors, who give only one play with an after-piece. We
give a gay after-piece to relieve the strain of witnessing a serious
and often tragic play, a curious contrast to the European _lever de
rideau_ which allows the playgoer to dine without hurry.

Plays are again divided into two classes according to their form. One
is the ordinary prose drama; and the other is the _gidayu_, a kind
of musical or ballad drama. The latter was brought into vogue two
centuries ago by Gidayu, a singer, who gave his name to this form of
drama. It was originally sung at puppet-shows; but as the librettos
were written by Chikamatsu Monzaemon, the greatest of Japanese
dramatists, they are highly valued as literature. The standard set by
Chikamatsu was kept up by his immediate successors; but no _gidayu_ of
note has appeared since the third quarter of the eighteenth century.
In Osaka, where Gidayu lived and sang, puppet-shows still draw
large houses; and no _gidayu_-singer of the present day is considered
a regular professional unless he has gone through the mill at the
Bunrakuza, the great puppet-theatre of Osaka. In Tokyo _gidayu_
puppet-shows do not enjoy much favour; _gidayu_ are in the capital
sung at the story-tellers’ hall or performed on the stage. The
_gidayu_ contains the ordinary prose dialogue; the singing part
describes the feelings and movements of the puppets. But these
explanations which do very well in a puppet-show, are too lengthy on
the stage; while the singing is going on, the acting is apt to become
wooden, and the interest in the play is saved from flagging only by
the beauty of the language and the skill of the singer.

There has of late been a great change in the histrionic art in Japan.
Until about twenty years ago, the theatrical profession was mostly
hereditary, and such as did not come of a theatrical family entered
the stage as pupils of some well-known actor. None could practically
become an actor without the countenance of the whole profession; and
if a pupil showed extraordinary talent, he was not unfrequently made
his master’s successor. For great histrionic names are handed down
from generation to generation; thus, the late Ichikawa Danjuro, the
greatest actor of Japan since the Restoration, was the ninth of his
name, and his rival, Onoye Kikugoro, was the fifth. The third great
actor at the time was Sadanji, a pupil of the fourth Kodanji; the
present head of the Actors’ Guild is Shikan the Sixth; and the most
promising actor of the day is Uzaemon the Thirteenth. Not one of these
names has been invariably handed down from father to son; but it is
vested in the family, whose consent is necessary for its assumption by
a pupil.

Some twenty years ago, a new school of actors sprang into being; they
were called student-actors as they came mostly from the student class.
They formed companies and gave performances by themselves. At first
they were looked upon with disdain by the professionals; but they
soon became popular and, not being fettered like the latter by the
traditions of their profession, they were more natural in their acting
and had freer scope. It was during the war with China and immediately
after that their strong points came into prominence; for when
they acted scenes from that war, their representations were absolutely
free from the conventionalities of the old school, and it was
acknowledged that in the modern realistic drama the new school was
decidedly superior to the old. In course of time the former began to
learn the tricks of the trade as practised by the other, while the
younger actors of the old school threw off the trammels of tradition
in plays of contemporary life, so that there is now far less
difference between the two schools. And in some theatres actors of
both schools play together.

In most theatres actors take female parts as well as male. Many actors
have made their mark in female roles, and such characters are often
specialised, some actors excelling in depiction of ladies of rank and
others in representing women of the people and of the _demi-monde_.
There are also actresses in Tokyo, but they seldom perform with
actors; for the instances which have hitherto occurred of such
performances were not very successful. One theatre in Tokyo is
occupied entirely by women, who play male parts as well as those of
their own sex. The best actress of the day is Kumehachi, who has
few peers in her line even among actors; but it cannot be said that
actresses as a whole enjoy high favour in Japan.

Another public amusement which vies with the stage in popularity is
wrestling. Though there are often wrestling bouts in different parts
of the city, the great matches to which all lovers of the art look
forward every year are those which take place in January and May in
the temple-grounds of Ekoin on the south side of the River Sumida; for
as they decide the combatants’ position in the profession, they are
fought in grim earnest.

There are some five hundred wrestlers in the Tokyo Wrestlers’ Guild,
which comprises all the professionals of the city. In the wrestlers’
list they are divided into two sets, east and west. In each set
there are some score of wrestlers of the first grade, and there are
corresponding grades in both sets down to the lowest. When wrestlers
of the first grade retire through age or disease from the active list,
so to speak, they become, unless they leave the guild altogether and
take up other callings, elders of the guild. The elders are
partners in the getting up of the Ekoin matches; they also take in
pupils, for no one can become a professional wrestler except under the
aegis of an elder. For the young wrestler this is convenient, because
he is always under the protection of his elder and naturally profits
if, when he goes touring in the provinces, he is in the company of a
wrestler of a higher grade from the same elder. When a wrestler is
without a peer, he becomes what may be called the invincible champion.
There have been less than a score of such champions since the first
of them took that title two and a half centuries ago; but at present
there are two invincible champions at the same time.

[Illustration: A WRESTLING-MATCH.]

Wrestling takes place in an arena of sand bounded by a ring, some
twenty feet in diameter, formed of empty rice-bags and covered by a
four-pillared wooden roof. It is surrounded by tiers of seats for
the spectators. At the foot of each of these pillars sits an elder
watching the match and acting as referee in case of dispute. At two
opposite pillars are a bucket of water, a basket of salt, and a bundle
of paper-slips, the salt to purify the body for the contest which may
end fatally and the slips for wiping the hands.

The wrestler appears in the arena without clothing. He has over his
loin-cloth a wide, wadded cotton-belt adorned with twine tassels when
he wrestles; but if he is a first-grade wrestler, he makes a formal
appearance in the arena with others of the same grade before they
commence their bouts, when he wears in addition an apron of heavy
material richly embroidered with his professional name or some other
distinguishing mark stitched in gold.


The Ekoin matches last for ten days, or rather for ten fine days.
Until lately, the booth was merely covered with matting or canvas,
and as the rain leaked in, the matches could not be held on wet days.
As, moreover, men are sent round the city with drums to announce the
matches, the day preceding the match-day had also to be fine or at
least to give reasonable hopes of fine weather on the following day,
so that one fair day during a spell of rain was of no use. A run of
matches might therefore last for twenty days or more. And all the time
the elders had to feed the wrestlers to keep them together, and
so, long-continued rainy weather might swallow up the profits of the
run, especially as the Japanese wrestlers with their huge paunches
are hearty eaters. A permanent building for wrestling matches has,
however, been erected at Ekoin; it was opened in June, 1909. It is the
largest building of the kind in Japan and holds more than ten thousand
spectators. The great hall will, in spite of the heavy initial cost,
pay in the long run as there will be no need to put up a booth each
time and matches can be held irrespectively of the weather.

The matches commence with those of the lowest grade, and the best
bouts take place late in the afternoon. Before each bout a summoner
appears in the arena and calls out the names of the two combatants,
who, as they are already waiting outside the ring, immediately make
their appearance, and the umpire formally announces their names. They
drink a cup of water and purify themselves with a pinch of salt. They
crouch opposite each other and, at a word from the umpire, grapple
with each other. It often happens that one of them is not ready for
the grip, and they separate; once more they rise and drink water and
return to their former positions. Some wrestlers repeat this until the
spectators are tired out. But when they do tussle, the struggle does
not take long; and if they remain long in each other’s grip without
coming to a conclusion, the umpire separates them and lets them
refresh themselves with water before they resume the bout. The umpire
then puts them exactly in the same position as they were before.
It is remarkable with what accuracy he makes them resume their former
position; he can tell at a glance their exact posture at each moment
of the bout; and he does not make the least error in the bend of their
bodies or the touch of their hands. Such an eye naturally requires
long training; and the umpire has, like the wrestler, to rise from the
lowest rung of his profession. At first he presides over the bouts
of the wrestlers of the lowest grade; and as he acquires skill and
experience, he rises to a higher grade until finally he umpires the
matches of the foremost wrestlers. His decision is seldom disputed;
and in the rare cases when it is called in question, he appeals to the
elders sitting at the four pillars.

The rules of the ring are very strict. If a wrestler falls, touches
the ground with a knee, a hand, or any part of the body other than
the soles of his feet, or steps on the rice-bags of the ring, he is
declared defeated. The ways in which, he can cope with his adversary
were originally put at forty-eight; but they were subsequently
increased to twice, and later still to four times, that number. These
original forty-eight throws were divided into four classes of twelve
each, namely, the butting with the head, grappling with the hands,
twisting with the hips, and tripping with the feet. From these were
developed all the later methods.

During the first days of the matches the wrestlers of the first
grade are paired with those whose positions on the other side do not
correspond to their own; and then the matches become gradually more
equal until on the ninth day those of the same position on both sides
are pitted against each other. It is the most exciting day of the
whole series; but on the tenth and last day those of the highest
grade seldom appear and the interest in the matches flags as a matter
of course.

These great matches, occurring as they do only twice a year, throw
the whole city into a fever of excitement, and while they are on, one
hears of nothing else. In the booth the enthusiasm is very great,
and it rises to such a pitch when a clever throw takes place or a
favourite distinguishes himself, that the spectators throw into the
arena their overcoats, tobacco-pouches, or whatever else come handy as
marks of their approval to the victor. They afterwards send presents
in money and recover their property.


Thus, playgoing is expensive and takes up the best part of a day,
while the wrestling matches which arouse universal interest occur
but twice a year, other matches being mostly of local interest only.
Neither of these amusements can serve to while away a few hours
of idleness or relaxation; to those who wish to spend an evening
pleasantly and at little expense, the story-tellers’ hall is always
open. It stands conspicuously in a street; for over a wide entrance,
the walls of which are studded with numerous pegs for suspending
the clogs and sandals of its patrons, hangs a large square lantern
announcing on its face the names of the principal performers, while
the name of the hall is inscribed at a side-end. The hall itself is a
great matted room with a platform at the furthest end. The spectators
squat promiscuously on the mats and watch the performances or listen
to the tales of the story-teller on the platform which is about four
feet high and can be seen from all parts of the room. The hall opens
at six or half-past; but it only begins to fill an hour later and
closes at about ten o’clock.

Entertainments of various kinds are given at the story-tellers’
halls. In some the story-tellers proper appear; half a dozen or more
come upon the platform in succession, winding up with the chief
story-teller of the evening. Those of the better grade tell serious
stories, complete at a sitting or continued through the whole run of
the company which is fifteen evenings, for they change twice a month.
Most of the others, however, tell short stories, humorous and ending
often in a word-play; their object is merely to raise a laugh among
their audience. There are also story-tellers of a different
kind, whose speciality is tales of war and stories of men famed in
Japanese history; but as they talk seriously and not in the light vein
of their more humorous _confrères_. they are not so popular as the
latter. It is not, however, always the story-teller who occupy
the platform. In the course of the evening there may be music and
singing by professionals or conjuring tricks. There are also several
halls opened exclusively for the singing of _gidayu_; and though for
their proper singing a deep, strong voice is really requisite, female
singers are far more numerous than male in Tokyo. In the capital it is
not as in Osaka, the home of _gidayu_-singing, for a young and pretty
girl-singer finds greater favour than a male singer of skill and
experience. In one evening half a dozen such singers perform, the last
being the head of the troupe.


In these halls some of the stories told are far from edifying; but
from others the lower classes become acquainted with the lives of the
noted men of their country. The proletariat in Japan are probably more
intimate with the history of their country than those of other lands.
Such history may not always be authentic; but of the famous names in
that history, warriors, statesmen, priests, and scholars, they hear
from the more serious entertainers at the halls; and the _gidayu_ has
also an educative influence, for it inculcates unceasingly the duty of
loyalty and filial piety and never tires of dwelling upon the
nobleness of self-sacrifice.



  Festivities in the old days—The New Year’s Day—The
  New Year’s dreams—January—February—The Feast of Dolls—The
  Equinoctial day—Plum-blossoms—Cherry-blossoms—The flower
  season—Peach-blossoms—Tree-peonies and wistarias—The Feast of
  Flags—The Fête of the Yasukuni Shrine—Other fêtes—The Feasts of
  Tanabata and Lanterns—The river season—Moon-viewing—The Seven Herbs
  of Autumn—October—The Emperor’s Birthday—Chrysanthemums and
  maple-leaves—The end of the year.

There are feasts and festivities galore in Tokyo. In the old times the
feast-days marked in the calendar were far more numerous than they
are now. In those days, while the daimyo and his retainers travelled
pretty often between Yedo and their native province, the citizens
seldom left town; it was a red-letter day with them when they set out
on a pilgrimage to the great shrine of Ise or on a trip to Kyoto; and
even these persons formed a very small minority. The high roads were
infested by robbers; and it was only with their lives in their hands
that humble citizens could go on a long journey. Being, then, confined
in the town, its inhabitants naturally took what pleasures they could
in it and availed themselves of every festivity to give themselves
up to enjoyment. The festivals of the tutelary deities were, for
instance, celebrated with great pomp; on annual feast-days the
time-honoured customs were religiously observed; and the flowers of
the season were admired and made occasions for general hilarity, for
they served to break the monotony of a purely urban life. But the
great facilities of transportation which have been introduced since
the Restoration have in these days diminished the interest of the
better classes in their city. The well-to-do men, who formerly
considered it a luxury to possess a villa on the outskirts of Tokyo,
are now not content unless they keep one at Kamakura or beyond for
spending the week-end in and another a hundred miles or more from the
city for their summer retreat. Kamakura and Enoshima, which are
only thirty miles away from Tokyo, were in the old days so distant
that they would not think of visiting them unless they intended to
spend a few days there; but now school-children are taken to those
places on a day’s excursion. The ease with which men can leave the
city has made them but lukewarm supporters of the institutions which
gave the town its periodical gaiety; for they no longer take an active
part in the local festivities or pride themselves upon the fine show
their ward might make on such occasions. Even the flowers for which
Tokyo is noted they go to look at in the country; and the festivals of
the tutelary deities have lost their former splendour, and their most
prominent feature, the procession-cars, cannot now be built on the
grand scale of the old days, for unless they can be bent low, they
cannot parade the streets without snapping the innumerable electric
wires which disfigure the thoroughfares of the metropolis. Of the five
great feasts which were held every year in former times, two are no
longer celebrated in Tokyo, the Feast of Tanabata on the seventh day
of the seventh month of the lunar calendar and the Feast of the
Chrysanthemum on the ninth day of the ninth month, the remaining three
being the New Year’s Day on the first day of the first month, the
Feast of Dolls on the third day of the third month, and that of Flags
on the fifth day of the fifth month.

Still there remain many occasions on which the Tokyo cit may take his
pleasure at home and abroad. The first of these, the New Year’s Day,
presents the gayest appearance everywhere and is a day of general
rejoicing. On either side of the gate or front door at every house
stands a large pine branch supported by an unstripped bamboo-pole or
two, and overhead flies the national flag. On the cross-beam of the
gate or over the porch hangs a coil of sacred rope, to which are
attached a piece of fern, a lobster, a bit of _konbu_ (_laminaria_),
and an orange. Indoors too, a piece of rope with a frond of fern is
suspended in different rooms. In the morning when the family gather
for breakfast, a set of three wooden goblets are brought on a stand,
and the members of the household wish one another a happy New Year and
drink spiced _mirin_ with one of the goblets in the order of
their position in the family; and instead of the usual boiled rice,
they eat cakes of pounded rice roasted and boiled in a soup of greens.
This drinking of _mirin_ and eating of rice-cakes is repeated on the
two mornings following. On the New Year’s Day people go out to present
the New Year’s greetings to their friends and relatives. This custom
is now less observed than formerly; for in these days they greet one
another by post, and millions of postcards pass through the Tokyo post
offices in the beginning of the year. On the New Year’s Day larger
shops are closed, as well as offices, public and private. The streets
are gay with the New Year’s decorations and with people going to and
fro for the New Year’s greetings; while in streets of shops and
small houses young men and women and children may be seen playing at
battledore and shuttlecock in the open road to the great obstruction
of the thoroughfare, the fun of the game being that those who miss a
shuttlecock have their faces smeared with Indian ink or white paint.

[Illustration: THE TREASURE-SHIP.]


On the second, larger shops send out the first loads of goods for the
year in handcarts. These carts are adorned with flags bearing the
names of the firms, and the shops pride themselves upon the
number of such loads they can send out on this day. In the evening
hawkers come with pictures of a treasure-ship with the seven deities
of fortune on board; over the picture is written an ode of thirty-one
syllables which is remarkable for being a palindrome. It runs thus:—

  _Na ka ki yo no to o no ne fu ri no mi na me za me na mi no ri fu
   ne no o to no yo ki ka na._

It will be seen that if the syllables are taken each as one sound,
the ode is same when read backward. It may be translated: “They have
all awakened from the long night’s sleep; and how pleasant is the
sound as the ship rides the waves!” These slips are eagerly purchased
as they are supposed, if put under the pillow on this night, to give
lucky dreams. The luckiest dream of all is, according to common
superstition, that of Mount Fuji, next to which is a dream of a hawk,
and the third that of an egg-plant.

On the fourth of January, the government offices are formally opened
for the year, and other public and private offices follow suit. On the
sixth the fire-brigades of Tokyo assemble in a public place and give
acrobatic performances on fire-ladders to show their agility. This day
closes the New Year’s festivities, and the decorations are removed. On
the eighth, the Emperor reviews the troops in the morning; and on
the same day most schools reopen after the New Year’s holidays. The
sixteenth is the holiday for apprentices and servants, who go home
to their parents or spend the day at the theatres or other places of
amusement. The sixth of January opens what is called the period of
lesser cold and the twentieth is the first day of the period of
greater cold. For a fortnight from the latter date many male votaries,
especially of the artisan class, run thinly-clad at night to worship
at their favourite shrines as such enthusiasm will, it is believed,
make them proficient in their callings; they ring a bell as they run.
Some go to a well and pour cold water over themselves at midnight to
be purified by that means from the sins of the world. Children go out
before daybreak to practise their lessons, boys to read or fence and
girls to sing or play the _samisen_. The shrines to which the first
visit of the year should be paid are too numerous for mention.

On the second or third of February ends the period of greater cold,
and with it nominally the winter season. In the evening peas are
parched and thrown about in every room with the cry, “Fortune within,”
and then they are flung outdoors with the shout, “Demons without.”
This is to purify the house for the new spring season; and the members
of the family eat each a number of these peas, which is one in excess
of the years of their age. The eleventh is one of the three great
national holidays; it is the anniversary of the coronation of Emperor
Jimmu, the founder of the Japanese Imperial line, the other two being
the New Year’s Day and the Emperor’s Birthday. There are six ordinary
national holidays, namely, the anniversary of the death of Emperor
Komei, the father of the present Emperor (January 30th), the Feast of
the Vernal Equinox (March 21st or 22nd), when offerings are made to
the Imperial ancestors on the equinoctial day, the anniversary of the
death of Emperor Jimmu (April 3rd), the Feast of the Autumnal Equinox
(September 23rd or 24th), the Feast of the New Season’s rice which is
offered at the great Shrine of Ise (October 17th), and the Feast of
the New Rice which is offered to the other deities and eaten for the
first time in the Imperial Palace (November 23rd).

On the third of March falls the Feast of Dolls. Towards the end of
February, the dolls are brought out and tiers of shelves put up,
usually against a wall of the parlour. On the highest shelf sit the
Emperor and Empress, with a screen at the back and overhead a roof
adorned with curtains. Below them sit the Court ladies, while lower
still are the five Court musicians and two armed guards. These are the
regulation dolls, and to them may be added any others. Then food is
set before the Emperor and Empress on two miniature trays; and all
sorts of lilliputian household goods, such as chests of drawers,
toilet stands, and kitchen utensils, are ranged on the lower tiers.
Also white _sake_, which is _sake_ barm dissolved in _mirin_, is
offered to the dolls and drunk as well by the family. These dolls are
displayed in every family where there is a daughter, and the feast is
looked forward to by its female members, who invite their girl-friends
to come and see the array of dolls. They are put away on the sixth or

[Illustration: THE FEAST OF DOLLS.]

The equinoctial day is the middle of a week known as _higan_, or
yonder shore, which is so called because prayers are said during the
week for the souls of those on shore, that is, in Nirvana. During the
week dumplings and rice-cakes coated with bean jam or sweetened
bean-powder are offered to the dead and also sent as presents to
friends and relatives. The family tombs are visited; and old-fashioned
people worship in succession at the six great temples dedicated to
Amitabha in the environs of the city, which entails a journey of some
fifteen miles. Many old men and women visit different shrines on the
equinoctial day as they have been told that if they pass through seven
stone _torii_ or shrine-gates on that day, they will not suffer pain
when the time comes for them to quit this world.

In the latter part of this month the plum-trees are in full bloom.
Though camellias are in flower earlier in the year, the plum-blossoms
are the first of all the flowers to attract crowds of admirers. As
plum-trees blossom sometimes while it still snows, the plum-tree
blooming under a weight of snow is emblematic of faithfulness in
adversity. The plum-blossom is not so popular as the cherry-blossom;
and yet it is the subject of more odes and poems than the other. It
possesses the grace and refinement which is lacking in the luxuriant
clusters of cherry-blossoms. Its quiet hue, the delicacy of its
fragrance, and the sense of loneliness it seems to impart appeal to
the literary and poetical-minded, who go to a plum-garden with gourds
of _sake_ and drink under the branches to which they hang slips of
paper with odes written on them in praise of the blossom. It is also
associated in our poetry with the Japan bush-warbler, the most prized
of our singing-birds, whose clear abrupt notes certainly sound
pleasant on cold, crisp mornings of early spring. Though there are
many plum-gardens in Tokyo, the most noted is that on the east side of
the River Sumida, where stands an aged tree, known as the Plum-tree of
the Couchant Dragon from the fancied resemblance of its gnarled trunk
to the sleeping form of that fabulous animal.


At the end of March bloom the early flowers of the cherry called the
_higan_-cherry; but it is in the first half of the following month
that the real cherry season is in full swing. The birthday of
Sakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism, is celebrated on the eighth of
April, when an infusion of the _hydrangea thunbergii_ is poured over
a small statue of the Buddha and the liquid is sold in small
green-bamboo tubes to the votaries. It is said to be an effective
charm against the breeding of maggots in summer. This ceremony of
the washing of the Buddha, as it is called, is soon forgotten in the
universal merriment of the cherry-flower season. The lovers of the
plum-blossom may dwell upon the superior grace and delicacy of their
favourite, but the darling of the nation is the cherry-flower; the
former has been lauded by many a poet, but the latter is considered to
be peculiarly Japanese, for no other land can boast the magnificent
clusters without a leaf to break their continuity, which look in
the distance like a bank of pale clouds, and when they fall, the
scattering petals come down as lightly as flakes of snow. When we
speak simply of _the_ flower, or of the flower-time, flower-view, or
flower-season, we allude invariably to the cherry-flower. The high
esteem in which the cherry-blossom has always been held in Japan is
exemplified in the saying, “Among men the samurai, among flowers the
cherry,” which was, in the days of military ascendancy, the highest
praise that could be bestowed. Again, how closely the flower is
identified with the country, may be seen from the famous ode of
Motoori, which runs; “Should a stranger ask what is the spirit of
Japan, to him I would show the wild-cherry blossoms glinting in the
morning sun.” That spirit is delicate and tarnished by dishonour as
readily as the flower is scattered by the wind. The cherry-flowers
bloom but for a few days; and that fact gives the motive to a
celebrated _haiku_, or verse of seventeen syllables, which may be
lamely translated:—

  Ah, this world of ours!
  But three days are gone; and where
  Are the cherry-flowers?

The lightness and allusiveness of the original bring home the
evanescence of life even more vividly than the snows of yester-year.

The earliest to attract crowds of pleasure-seekers is Uyeno Park,
where along the walks and among other trees stand many aged
cherry trees. As the national museum and the zoological gardens are
also in the park, the season attracts hosts of school-children who
bring their luncheons and spend the whole day there. But it is the
south-east bank of the River Sumida on the outskirts of the
city, to which gather the largest throngs of sight-seers. Here an
avenue of cherry stretches for some miles, and men and women,
as they pass under, are fairly intoxicated with the sight of the
numberless clusters of cherry-blossoms. Many repair to it in parties,
often in clothes of a uniform pattern and sometimes in comical guise.
Next comes Asuka Hill, a few miles behind Uyeno, and then Koganei on
a road west of the city, and lastly, the River Arakawa, on the north,
noted for its cherry-blossoms of other colours than the usual pale
pink. In the city there are many smaller spots where the blossoms may
be seen to advantage.

About the same time as the cherry-flowers the peach also is in bloom;
but it fails to attract many sight-seers. Towards the close of April,
we have the azalea, which flowers for about a fortnight; it has not
the delicate tint of the cherry-flower, and its deep red is apt to
pall on the beholder. Besides, as it blooms when people are tired with
gazing at the cherry-blossoms, its votaries are comparatively few, and
somehow it does not arouse the enthusiasm that the national flower

Late in April flower the tree-peonies; their magnificent blossoms
command admiration. They are specially cultivated and need a great
deal of tending; they are not, therefore, like the plum and cherry
trees, often to be seen in public places, and are commonly displayed
in private gardens and nurseries. The tree-peonies are not indigenous
to Japan, but were originally introduced from China; and much as
we admire these fine flowers, they do not appeal to us like the
cherry-blossoms. A little later, the wistarias hang down their long
clusters of purple flowers; they are best seen at the shrine of
Tenmangu, not far from the plum-garden of the Couchant Dragon, where
their pendulous racemes look doubly beautiful as they are reflected in
the pond over which they hang.

The fifth of May is the Feast of Flags, which is for boys what the
Feast of Dolls is for girls. On this day little flags are set up
in a room, together with figures of men famous in history for their
strength and valour. Outdoors a gigantic carp made of paper or cloth
is tied to the top of a high pole, where it flutters when it is
filled with wind; the carp is emblematic of strength as it can swim
up a rapid current.

[Illustration: THE FEAST OF FLAGS.]

On the fifth, sixth, and seventh of May is held the great semi-annual
fête of the Yasukuni Shrine, which is dedicated to the spirits of the
officers and men of the army and navy and others who died fighting for
their country. Aides-de-camp are sent from the Imperial Court to make
offerings at the shrine. Here firework displays and wrestling matches
take place and booths of all kinds are opened during the fête. The
compound is crowded by the relatives of the dead, especially of those
who fell in the Russian war, as well as the general public. The other
semi-annual fête is held on the same days six months later.

[Illustration: THE FÊTE OF SANNO.]

Early in June the irises and sweet-flags flower; there are gardens in
Tokyo where these flowers are specially cultivated and shown to the
public. June is also the month for the annual fêtes of many local
deities. There are nearly fifty shrines where annual fêtes are
held in Tokyo; and the greatest of these are the Sanno and Kanda
Myojin, whose fêtes were until lately among the famous sights of the
city. The fête of the Sanno takes place on the fifteenth of June,
while that of the Kanda Myojin is celebrated on the same day three
months later.

On the seventh of July took place the Feast of Tanabata, which is now
seldom observed in Tokyo. On this night, according to the legend, the
only one in the whole year when the Weaver (the star Vega) can meet
her lover the Cow-herd (the star Altair) on the other side of the
Heavenly River, as the Milky Way is called, magpies come and spread
their wings across the river to bring the lovers together. And this
meeting is celebrated with various offerings. The sixteenth of the
month is, like the same day in January, the holiday for apprentices
and servants. About this time, midsummer presents are exchanged
between friends and relatives; but the most important occurrence in
the middle of the month is the Feast of Lanterns. On the thirteenth,
preparations are made for welcoming the spirits of the dead. The
family tomb is visited and washed, while at home the shrine is
decorated with festoons of vermicelli, to which are attached ears of
Italian millet and _panicum frumentaceum_, dried persimmons, and the
fruit of the _torreya nucifera_, and the lower part of the shrine
is enclosed with a little fence of cryptomeria. In the evening,
hemp-reeds are burnt in an earthen pan in front of the porch to
receive the spirits who are then believed to enter the dwelling. On
the fourteenth, offerings are made at the shrine and a priest is often
called in to recite prayers. On the evening of the fifteenth when the
spirits conclude their visit, the hemp-reeds are again burnt to speed
them; people light their pipes at the fire and smoke as a charm
against diseases of the mouth and step over the embers to secure
themselves against all ailments in the lower parts of the body.

[Illustration: THE FEAST OF LANTERNS.]

About the end of July or beginning of August, the opening of the
boating season on the River Sumida is celebrated with a grand display
of fireworks, which is attended by large crowds from all parts of the
city, while the tea-houses around are full of guests. In August the
morning-glory is in full bloom, and people repair at dawn to
Iriya in the north of Tokyo to look at the flowers for which it is
noted as the buds untwist into open blossoms, and pass on their
way home by Shinobazu Pond, close to Uyeno Park, and watch the
lotus flowers burst open with a loud report.

On the twenty-sixth day of the seventh month of the old lunar
calendar, which falls ordinarily on some day late in August or early
in September, people climb up a hill at night or go to the water-side
to see the moon rise; for it is considered lucky to catch a glimpse
of the three images of Amitabha which are said to be visible for an
instant before the moon comes into sight. On the fifteenth of the
eighth month when the moon is always full, offerings of fifteen
dumplings, soy beans, and persimmons are set before the moon and odes
composed in praise of the beautiful satellite. Indeed, the eighth
month is poetically called the “month of the moon-view.”


On the ninth day of the ninth month was observed in the old days the
Feast of the Chrysanthemum, when a party was held in the Imperial
Palace for looking at the flower and partaking of an infusion of
chrysanthemums in _sake_; but this custom has died out, and the
Imperial chrysanthemum party is now given in the latter part of
November. On the thirteenth of the same lunar month occurs the last of
the three moon-viewing festivals, when offerings similar to those on
the fifteenth of the preceding month are made, the only difference
being that the number of dumplings is thirteen instead of fifteen.
People go out at this time to look at the Seven Herbs of Autumn, the
principal of which is the _lespedeza bicolor_ with its pretty little
red flowers; the other six are the _miscanthus sinensis_, _pueraria
thunbergiana_, _dianthus superbus_, _patrinia seabiosœfolia_,
_cupatorium chinense_, and _platycodon grandiflorum_. The autumnal
equinox is celebrated in the same manner as the vernal.

The greatest event in October is the commemoration of the death of
Nichiren, the founder of the Buddhist sect of that name, who died
in 1282 at the temple of Honmonji, a few miles south-west of Tokyo.
On the evening of the twelfth, the votaries leave Tokyo in parties
chanting prayers and beating flat drums; and they sit up all night in
the temple or, if they cannot get lodging anywhere, lie down
in the extensive temple-grounds. On the thirteenth, the anniversary
of Nichiren’s death, mass is held in great state in the temple. Even
those who do not profess the Nichiren doctrines visit the temple
to look at the crowds gathered there. The only other religious
celebration of the kind that can compare with it is the commemoration
of the death of Shinran, the founder of the Shin sect, which takes
place on the twenty-eighth of November in the two great temples of
Honganji in Tokyo.

On the seventeenth of October, the newly-harvested rice is offered at
the great Shrine of the Sun-Goddess in the province of Ise; and in a
country where rice is the most important food, such an occasion is
naturally celebrated as a national holiday. On the twentieth, the fête
of Daikoku and Ebisu, the two gods of fortune, is celebrated in many
merchants’ houses with a great feast to which friends and relatives
are invited.

The third of November is the Emperor’s birthday. His Majesty reviews
the troops early in the morning and holds a banquet at noon, to which
the Imperial Princes, high government officials, and the foreign
ambassadors and ministers are invited. A salute of a hundred and eight
guns is fired in the bay; and in the evening the minister for foreign
affairs gives a ball to high officials, the diplomatic corps, and
other persons of rank and position, Japanese and foreign. In this
month the chrysanthemums are in full bloom; at Dangozaka, not
far from Uyeno Park, are exhibited scenes from well-known plays or
representations of passing events, in which the figures are clothed
with chrysanthemum flowers of various colours. They attract large
crowds; but the finest flowers are to be seen in the palace-grounds at
Akasaka, where the Imperial chrysanthemum party is given, and at the
mansions of noblemen and men of wealth. This month is also noted for
the maple-leaves, which, when they become crimson, are highly admired;
and many people make pilgrimages to the banks of the Takinogawa, a
few miles north of Uyeno Park, where they are to be seen in great

In December people are too busy with the year-end settlement of
accounts and preparations for the New Year to indulge in festivities,
though there are not a few easy-going men who get up towards the close
of the month what are called dinners for forgetting the passing year.
From the middle of the month, fairs are held in different parts of the
city for the sale of articles required for the New Year’s decorations
and battledores and other things for the New Year’s amusements.
Towards the end of the month, year-end visits are paid among friends
and relatives; the New Year’s decorations are put up; and everywhere
preparations are made for the New Year’s festivities. At midnight of
the last day, the temple-bell sounds a hundred and eight strokes to
announce the passing of the old year.



  chess—The moves—Use of prisoners—The game of _go_—Its
  principle—Camps—Counting—“Flowers-cards”—Players—How to
  play—Claims for hands—Claims for combinations made—Reckoning.

Field sports cannot be said to thrive in Japan. Fox-hunting, as
practised in England, is unknown; indeed, hunting on a grand scale
seldom takes place. Every year a large number of shooting licenses
are issued; but reckless shooting has made game so scarce in the
neighbourhood of Tokyo that any one in search of good sport must go a
considerable distance from town. Game preserves are also very few in
number, for there is scarcely one man of means in Tokyo who keeps such
grounds. Nearly all the small birds are protected.

Horse-racing came into vogue soon after the Russian war. Many
horse-race companies were formed; they throve as they sold pari-mutuel
tickets on which they took a commission. The races became enormously
popular; and people who knew nothing of horses or racing rushed in
crowds to the races to buy these tickets. The thing became barefaced
gambling, and so great was the scandal caused by these races that the
sale of pari-mutuel tickets was prohibited, with the result that the
races were entirely deserted and the shares of these companies fell
from ten times their face-value to almost _nil_. Remedial measures
were tried, but without success. These races had at first been
encouraged by the authorities as it was believed that they would help
to improve the breed of horses in Japan; but there was little prospect
of that object being achieved, for the frequenters of the race-courses
did not appear to take much interest in horse-racing beyond the
opportunities it gave for gambling.

[Illustration: CORMORANT-FISHING.]

Fishing has many votaries. Boats put off from Shinagawa for
fishing in the Bay of Tokyo, especially in summer and autumn; the fish
are caught either with nets or with rod and line. Anglers may be seen
at all seasons on the banks of the little rivers and canals which
traverse the city; but their catch is quite insignificant. The most
interesting method of catching fish is, perhaps, cormorant-fishing
in the Tamagawa, a river which runs a few miles west of Tokyo, where
cormorants are, as in the River Nagara in Gifu Prefecture, which
is celebrated for this form of fishing, employed to catch the
_plecoglossus altivelis_, which abounds in the river. The bird has a
tight ring around its crop, and when it has dived into the water and
swallowed enough fish, the ring is pulled up and the bird is made to
disgorge them. Another curious sight is the angling for the sillago.
This fish is keen-sighted and very active, and takes fright and darts
away as soon as it sees a boat rocking on the water. As, however, it
is to be found in comparatively shallow water, a gigantic stool is set
on a shoal, and the angler sits on it and patiently waits for the fish
to take the bait. A boat remains not far off for emergencies, as when
the angler, in his eagerness, loses his balance and goes bodily after
the sillago. On a calm day, several of these stools are to be seen off
the beach at Shinagawa.

[Illustration: ANGLING-STOOLS.]

Of the outdoor games which have been introduced in recent years
from abroad, the oldest is, perhaps, lawn-tennis, which is still
extensively played, although it must now yield in popularity to
baseball. A Japanese baseball team crossed the ocean some time
ago to play on the Pacific Coast of the United States, though not with
very brilliant results, while similar teams have come from Hawaii
and the Pacific States to challenge the Japanese college teams.
Boat-racing is also very popular; and races are held annually on the
River Sumida by the Imperial University of Tokyo and other educational
institutions in April when the cherry trees are in bloom on the
river-bank. Football is played to some extent, and hockey has been
tried with little success, while cricket is seldom played.

Of the European indoor games, the one which has found most favour in
Japan is undoubtedly billiards, at which many Japanese have attained
considerable skill. Ping-pong enjoyed a temporary vogue, but has now
become as obsolete as diabolo, the craze for which reached Japan not
long after it arose in Europe.

[Illustration: _SUGOROKU_.]

We may now pass on to the principal games which are played in Japan.
_Sugoroku_ is a game played on a board by two persons. It is similar
to backgammon, with the difference that the grand object of _sugoroku_
is to get all one’s men into the enemy’s territory. There are twelve
men on each side and twenty-four points to move to, and two dice are
thrown alternately as in backgammon. It is a very ancient game which
is hardly ever played nowadays; and what is now known as
_sugoroku_ was originally called the _dochu sugoroku_ or travelling
_sugoroku_. The earliest of its kind is a large sheet on which the
views of the fifty-three postal stations on the highway from Yedo to
Kyoto are given in order in as many squares. The starting-point is
Yedo in one corner of the sheet, from which the squares are ranged
along the edges until one of them touches the Yedo square, and then
they are continued along the inner edges of the first squares, and
still another set is formed along the edges of these second squares,
until Kyoto is reached in the centre of the sheet. Each player has a
slip of paper with his name or mark inscribed on it; it is put with
the others in the Yedo square. He throws a die in turn and moves
forward according to the number turned up; and the one who reaches
Kyoto first is the winner. As there are fifty-three squares, the
minimum number of throws of the die is nine; but the game may become
complicated if, as is usually the case, the die must in the last throw
turn up the exact number required for reaching the goal. Thus, if five
is turned up when only two is needed to reach Kyoto, the player is
made to go back three squares from the goal and await his turn for the
next throw. Again, when a player comes to a certain square, he may
be made to forfeit a turn or go back a number of squares. When these
rules are introduced, the game is very much prolonged. Hence, later
forms of _sugoroku_ have a smaller number of squares; indeed, if,
further, the place to move to is named in every square for every
number turned up, a very few squares will suffice; and some _sugoroku_
have no more than a dozen squares and yet an exciting game may be
played on them.

[Illustration: _IROHA_ AND ODE-CARDS.]

_Sugoroku_ is played in the long winter evenings, and especially
during the first days of the New Year. Among other New Year’s games
may be mentioned the cards known as the _Iroha_ and _uta_ cards.
_Iroha_, being the first three characters of the Japanese syllabary or
alphabet, is the name given to the whole syllabary; and the _iroha_
cards are so called because they have inscribed on them each a
proverbial saying beginning with a different character of the
syllabary. There are forty-seven characters in the Japanese syllabary,
and another card is added to make the number even and divisible.
Besides the pack of forty-eight cards with the proverbs, there is
another of the same number of cards with pictures corresponding
to these proverbs; these latter have also marked in the corner
the first character of the proverbs they illustrate to facilitate
identification. Thus, if the card in the first pack has the proverb,
_inu mo arukeba bō ni ataru_ (A dog, by walking, may come upon a
stick, a saying which is now taken to mean that by wandering about,
one may meet with good fortune), the corresponding card in the other
pack has a picture of a dog knocking against a stick and the character
_i_ in the corner. The card of the second character of the syllabary
has the proverb, _ron yori shōko_ (Proof is better than argument), and
the third has _hana yori dango_ (Better a dumpling than a flower, that
is, use is better than ornament), and so on. The illustrations in
the second pack are often fanciful, as they cannot but be when the
proverbs do not refer to concrete objects. Thus, the illustration to
the second proverb above given has an angry man with one hand on his
sword and holding in the other the straw figure which the jealous
wife used in the old days to nail to a tree at dead of night when she
invoked curses upon her rival. The man is apparently showing his wife
in spite of her protestations the straw image she has been using
against his mistress. The game is played sometimes by spreading all
the pictures in the middle and the players sitting around them. One
person reads out the proverbs in any order he pleases, and the
corresponding pictures are seized and put away. The player who has
taken the largest number of cards in this way is the winner. The game,
however, is more frequently played in the following manner:—The cards
are dealt evenly among the players who spread them out exposed before
them. When a proverb is read out, a player takes out the corresponding
picture if he has it, and if not, he looks over the other players’
hands and seizes the card as soon as he sees it. He takes it and gives
one of his own exposed cards to the player from whose hand he has
taken it. A slow-witted person’s hand is always full, while a sharp
player clears his quickly; and the one who has first got rid of his
hand is the winner. As the cards are often pounced upon at the same
time by several players, the game is an exciting one, and not a few
come out of it with their hands scratched and bleeding. Friends and
relatives of both sexes join in these games in winter evenings, and
some of them, it is said, consider it the best part of the game that
they can touch or squeeze the hands of the players of the opposite
sex by pretending to seize the same cards. For this reason, a strict
paterfamilias not unfrequently forbids his household to play the game
with those who are not its members.

[Illustration: PLAYING ODE-CARDS.]

The _uta_ or ode-cards are in two sets of a hundred each. There is a
famous collection of a hundred odes composed by as many poets, which
used in former days to be learnt by heart. These odes are used for the
ode-cards. An ode, as has been explained in a former chapter, is made
up of two couplets of five and seven syllables each, closing with a
line of seven syllables. For the purposes of the cards, the odes are
divided into two parts, the first comprising the first three lines,
that is, the lines of five, seven, and five syllables, and the second
the last two lines of seven syllables. The cards in one set give
each the whole ode with the name and picture of the poet, while in
those of the other set appears generally the second part, and rarely
the first part, of the ode. Thus, in the first set the first ode of
the hundred runs:—

  _Tenji Tenno_

    _Aki no ta no_
    _Kariho no iwo no_
    _Toma wo arami_
    _Waga koromode wa_
    _Tsuyu ni nuretsutsu._

  Emperor Tenji

    Decayed is the rush-thatch of the watch-shed in the autumn
    And the sleeves of the robe are becoming wet with dew.

And the card of the second set has the lines _Waga koromode wa Tsuyu
ni nuretsu_. The game is played in the same manner as the _iroha_
cards; and the scramble for the cards is more exciting as the players
do not always wait till the whole ode is read out.

There is a curious diversion called the game of _ken_, or fists,
which, its name notwithstanding, has nothing to do with pugilism. The
principle of the game is that there are three positions of the hands
or fingers, each one of which beats one and is beaten by the other,
of the remaining two. The game is played with one or two hands. That
played with both hands is called the fox-_ken_; its three positions
are the putting of the open hands with the palms outward close to the
temples in imitation of the fox, the stretching out of the right arm
with the hand closed while the left hand is brought to the breast,
which represents the huntsman with a gun, and the placing of both
hands on the knees to show the staid manners of the village headman.
The fox may bewitch the headman as that animal is popularly believed
to possess magical powers, but may be killed by the huntsman, who,
however, must not shoot the headman; thus, the fox beats the headman,
who beats the huntsman, who, in his turn, beats the fox. The game
is played by two persons, who must move their hands with uniform
rapidity, for the game is spoilt if either side moves more quickly or
slowly than the other. It is a favourite game at convivial parties,
especially if one of the parties is a geisha, though it is not so
popular now as it used to be. The person who beats the other
three times running is declared the winner, and the defeated party
has, as forfeit, to drink a cup of _sake_. The stone-_ken_ is played
with one hand; in this the closed hand represents a stone, the open
hand a piece of paper, and two fingers or a finger and the thumb
spread out a pair of scissors; the stone may be wrapped in the paper,
but is proof against the scissors, which may, however, cut the paper.
This ken is played less often as a game than for deciding in a case
where one would toss a coin in England, for tossing up is unknown in

[Illustration: THE GAME OF _KEN_.]

The Japanese indoor games we have above described are played mostly by
children and young men and women, with the exception of the fox-_ken_,
which is almost confined to convivial parties. The great serious games
for grown-up people in the evenings, or in the daytime for that
matter, are chess, _go_, and “flower-cards.”

_Shōgi_, or Japanese chess, is played on a board with nine
squares a side, or altogether eighty-one squares. There are twenty men
on each side. The nine men on the end-row are the king in the middle,
with _kinsho_ (gold general), _ginsho_ (silver general), _keima_
(knight), and _kyosha_ (kind of rook) on either side; on the second
row the men are _hisha_ (rook proper) and _kakko_ (bishop) on the
second square from the right and left ends respectively; and the third
row is filled with pawns. The pieces are all of the same form; they
have each a base with two converging sides surmounted by two others
which make an obtuse angle at the apex, and are thicker at the base
than at the top so that they can readily stand, though they are always
laid flat. The name of each piece is written on the upper surface. The
largest of these men is the king, next to which are the pieces on the
second row, followed by the men on the end-row, while the smallest are
the pawns.

The king can move one square in any direction; the _kinsho_ has the
same moves except to the diagonals behind; and the _ginsho_ moves one
square forward and diagonally in the four directions; and the _keima_
and the _kyosha_ have, one the forward moves only of the knight and
the other the forward move only of the rook. The _hisha_ and the
_kakko_ have the same moves as the rook and the bishop respectively.
The pawns move one square forward and take the hostile pieces in front
and not diagonally. When the pieces enter the enemy’s territory, that
is, within the furthest three rows, they are not queened as there are
no queens in _shōgi_, they acquire the moves of _kinsho_. In that case
they forfeit their own moves, with the exception of the _hisha_ and
_kakko_, which retain them. When the pieces are thus changed in
character, they are turned the reverse side up.

The capture of the men and checking of the king are the same as in
European chess; but stalemate is unknown, for the reason that we can
make use of any pieces of our adversary that we may have taken, and
if our king is in danger, we can readily defend him by putting in the
field some of our prisoners. This causes no inconvenience as there is
no distinction of colour between the hostile pieces; their side is
shown by the direction of the pointed ends of the pieces. The enemy’s
pieces may be brought into requisition in his own territory; but
they must move at least one square forward before they can be
converted into _kinsho_.

[Illustration: JAPANESE CHESS.]

_Shōgi_ is universally played; but it is more especially the favourite
game of the lower classes Among the better classes, _go_ is in greater
vogue; it is much affected by retired old gentlemen, officials,
school-teachers, and others of the professions. It is certainly more
difficult and probably more scientific than the other.

_Go_ is played on a thick square board with heavy legs. The surface is
marked with nineteen parallel lines crossed by as many similar lines,
making the total number of points of intersection three hundred and
sixty-one. The game is played on these points, and not in the squares
formed by the parallel lines; and like _shōgi_, two persons take part
in it. Either side has a box of round, flatfish pebbles small enough
to be placed without overlapping on consecutive points. They are
distinguished by colour; and the black is always given to the poorer
player who opens the game, while the other takes the white.

[Illustration: THE GAME OF _GO_.]

The object of the game is to take as many as possible of the enemy’s
stones by surrounding them with one’s own. A stone once put on a point
is immovable unless it is surrounded and taken off the board; it
cannot move from one point to another. This siege of the enemy’s stone
lies in cutting it off along the lines passing through the point it
occupies. The siege is successful in its simplest form when a single
stone is surrounded on the four adjacent points on the two lines
intersecting at its point. There is no way of breaking the square
formed by these four stones, for the only way in which relief can be
brought to a threatened stone is to make it a part of a chain which
cannot be completely surrounded by the enemy. When a stone is thus
surrounded on all sides, it becomes a prisoner and is taken off the
board. A stone at a corner of the board is imprisoned by two stones
as there are no other adjacent points, and one on the edge by three
stones. In a word, a stone cannot act diagonally, but must always work
along a line. In practice, of course, it is usually a group of stones,
rather than single stones, that find themselves prisoners, as the
siege operations are more difficult to detect when carried out on a
large scale.

If it was only to surround the enemy and capture his stones, the game
would be comparatively simple. It is complicated by the formation
of vacant enclosures, within which if the enemy ventures, he must
infallibly be captured. The object is to make these enclosures as
large as possible, and since such camps, as they are called, would
narrow the enemy’s field of operations, he does his best to break the
cordon by intruding a chain of stones before it is completed. Hence,
there are four operations going on at the same time: we must break up
the enemy’s attempted cordon and surround his stones, and prevent his
surrounding our stones and form our own cordons. This formation of
camps, though really nothing more than a defensive measure, is in fact
more important and difficult than the capture of the enemy’s stones;
and the issue of the game depends generally more upon the size of
these cordons than upon the number of prisoners actually taken.

Though the game should theoretically be continued till the board is
completely filled with stones, it is seldom pursued to that extent;
for where there is a great inequality of skill, the issue can be seen
long before the finish and the game given up, or where camps have
been formed, the vacant space need not be filled in. In most cases,
therefore, plenty of stones remain in hand. When the game is finished,
the number if points enclosed by the camps, if any, is counted and
reckoned as so many stones gained; and the difference between it and
the number of prisoners in the enemy’s hands is one’s net gain
or loss according as the former is greater or less than the latter.
And the one with the larger net gain is naturally the winner.

Neither _shōgi_ nor _go_ is a lively game. The latter, especially,
calls for patience and hard thinking; it may take hours or even days
to conclude a single game. Besides, it does not lend itself to
betting. The great gambling game is that of the cards known as
“flower-cards,” which is rapidly played and depends more upon chance
than upon skill.

The pack is made up of forty-eight cards, about an inch by an inch and
a half, which are in twelve sets, each set representing a month of the
year. The first set has a picture of the pine-tree, which, being the
principal part of the New Year’s outdoor decorations, symbolises the
first month. It is followed in order by the plum-tree, cherry-tree,
wistaria, sweet-flag, tree-peony, and lespedeza, which flower in the
second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh months respectively.
The eighth month is represented by the eularia, the ninth by the
chrysanthemum, the tenth by the maple-tree, the eleventh by the
willow-tree, and the last by the paulownia. It may be stated in
passing that these months follow the old lunar calendar and are
therefore some weeks later than the corresponding months of the solar
calendar. All the cards are not of the same value. The highest, which
is twenty points, is assigned to the pine-tree with a crane in the
middle and a red sun above, the cherry-tree in bloom with a curtain
underneath for a picnic party, the eularia under the full harvest
moon, the willow under which a great scholar is learning perseverance
from a frog which succeeds after many hours’ vain attempts in reaching
a branch, and the paulownia with the phœnix flying over it. Ten
points each are given to nine cards, namely, the plum-tree with the
bush-warbler, the wistaria with the cuckoo, the sweet-flag beside a
plank path, the tree-peony with butterflies, the lespedeza with the
wild boar, the eularia with wild ducks, the chrysanthemum with a
wooden cup for the chrysanthemum-_sake_, the maple-tree with the stag,
and the willow-tree with the swallow. Five points are the value of the
cards with a _tanzaku_, a long strip of paper for an ode; there are
ten of them, that is, all the sets except the eularia and
paulownia. The remaining twenty-four cards are worth only a point
each. Thus, five cards at twenty points, nine at ten points, ten at
five, and twenty-four at a point each, make the total value of the
pack two hundred and sixty-four points.

[Illustration: “FLOWER-CARDS.”]

The game is played by three persons. As many as six may join in it
and the cards be dealt to them; but three of them must throw up their
hands. First, the dealer declares whether he will play or not and is
followed in order by the rest. If any players remain after three have
declared their intention to play, such persons may quietly give up
play or, if their hands are good, they may insist upon being bought
out. The player who has a free choice and elects not to play, has to
pay a forfeit, from which those forced to retire are exempted. The
players may be reduced to two, and sometimes only to one, in which
case he is declared the winner.

The cards are first dealt out seven to each player and six others are
turned up on the table. The players who retire return their cards,
which are shuffled into the pile of undealt cards. When it has been
settled who are to play, the dealer, or if he does not play, the one
nearest to him looks at his hand to see if he has one of the same suit
as any of the open cards; if he has, he takes the latter with his
card and put the two aside; but if he has none to match or thinks it
disadvantageous to take a card, he throws down a card which has no
match on the table. Next, he takes the top card of the pile and opens
it; if it matches with any of the open cards on the table, he takes
the pair and puts them aside; but if it does not match, he throws
it down exposed among the open cards. The others follow in the same
manner. As the number of cards in the three hands is twenty-one and
six are open on the table, the undealt cards also number twenty-one;
and as every player matches or throws down a card in his hand and
opens one of the pile, the last card of the last player is played when
the last of the pile is turned up. The players then reckon the total
value of the cards in their possession; and according as that value is
more or less than eighty-eight, which is one-third of the value of the
whole pack, the difference between the two represents their gain or
loss. The winner of the largest number also gets the forfeits
paid by the retired players.

This is the simplest form of the game. It is usually complicated by
claims allowed for certain combinations found in the hands dealt.
Thus, if three of the seven cards are of the same suit, the holder can
claim a forfeit of one and a half dozen points from each of the other
two; the forfeit becomes two dozen points for two or more _tanzaku_
cards among plain ones, three dozens for a plain hand with only one
card of a higher value, four dozens for three pairs of suits or a
complete hand of plain cards, six dozens for two sets of three cards
of the same suit, and so on to the highest which is twenty dozens for
four cards of one suit and three of another.

Then again, if certain sets of cards are won in the course of a game,
that game is closed and the value for such sets is claimed from each
of the other two. Thus, six dozen points are allowed for the three
purple-_tanzaku_ cards of the chrysanthemum, tree-peony, and maple,
or the three red-_tanzaku_ cards of the pine, plum, and cherry trees,
and ten dozens for the four twenty-point cards of the pine, cherry,
eularia, and paulownia, and twelve dozens if that of the willow is
added to them.

These payments for combinations make the game very exciting. Twelve
games, to match with the months of the year, make a rubber, at the
end of which the reckoning is made. For counting purposes two sets of
counters are distributed, one of the value of one point each and the
other of a dozen points. First, counters to the amount of ten dozen
points are allotted to each player; but of this amount three or four
dozens are pooled to be given to the highest winner of the rubber, and
so that lucky person really gets far more than his actual winnings.
When a player has gone through his first lot of counters, he borrows
more from the bank. At the end of a rubber when the settlement is
made, the payment, if the game is played for money, is made at so much
per point; and even though the unit may be of a small value, the total
account often comes to a respectable sum.



  著作者 井上十吉

  發行兼印刷人 古作勝之助

  印刷所 東京印刷株式會社

Transcriber’s Notes.

1. Obvious typos have been silently corrected.

2. Text contained within underscores is italicised.

3. Table of contents page numbers have been corrected.

4. Captions for images in the original text located within a paragraph
have been moved to either before or after the paragraph.

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Home Life in Tokyo" ***

Copyright 2023 LibraryBlog. All rights reserved.