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The Chung Collection

The Japs at home Sladen, Douglas Brooke Wheelton, 1856-1947 1895

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Array  The University of British Columbia Library
v   i ■ /£W /9fo  THE   JAPS   AT   HOME.
% Collotype portrait of tbe Butbor,
©ne Ibunoreo illustrations.
[All rights reserved.']  THIS   BOOK   IS
2>efcicatet> to
IN    THE    FOLLOWING   PAGES. The cover represents a geisha (singing gi/rl) re-
turning by night, in her rihsha, along the banks
of the Sumida-gawa, the river of ToTvyo. It
is the facsimile of the picture on a head-towel
brought from Japan by myself. These head-
towels are made of cheap cotton, nearly always
light bl/uue in colour, and printed with a pattern
or picture. They are worn twisted round the
forehead, as the riTcsha-boys are depicted wear
ing them on the cover of this booh. PREFACE,
This volume contains all that was in the first four editions
of " The Japs at Home," with the addition of seven
chapters of " Bits of China," picked up during a brief
sojourn among the Celestials. These chapters are illustrated
with numerous pictures by a brilliant Japanese artist.
In my former Preface I wrote: "In my months of
wandering about the streets and lanes of Japan, I kodaked
with camera and pen a few phases of Japanese life, which
I here present that you may see the Japs at home as I
saw them.
" These chapters have perhaps a chance of being fresh,
for they were composed, not by the midnight oil, but by
the midday sun—literally.
" These notes, forming a horary rather than a diary,
constitute the subject matter of my book, which pretends
no more than to give my impressions of Japan and the
Japs. I have not wittingly asserted anything which is not
a fact, and when I make an unsupported assertion only
state it as my impression. The sojourner among a secretive
people cannot easily do more. vi Preface.
" I have also, as was natural for an impressionist, written
for the most part in the lighter vein, but ridentem dicere
verum quid vetat."
To this I must add that though in " The Japs at Home "
I have given as faithful a picture as I could of Japan as
it was before the war, I cannot allow this, the first edition
published since, to pass without confessing that if I were
writing the book now I should write it from a much more
serious standpoint. The valour, extraordinary ability, and
civilizedness with which the Japanese carried on the war
against their gigantic rival, and the unwarranted coercion
by two of the first-class Powers to which they have had to
submit, make me regret that I did not devote my book to
an advocate's presentment of the greatness of Japan instead
of treating the country from the point of view of the
Authors' Club. CONTENTS.
I. Street Life in Yokohama         -       -       -       - 1
II. In Yokohama, a Week Later 13
III. The Temples of Shiba  22
IV. The Maple Club and its Dancing Girls        - 31
V. Christmas Day in Yokohama     .... 40
VI. New Year's Eve in Japan         -       -       -       - 43
VII. The New Year Festival in Japan 49
VIII. Japanese Firemen  71
IX. Japanese Wrestling  76
X. Seeing the Giant Feed  84
XL Sir Edwin Arnold at Home in Japan      -       - 89
XII. The Plum Trees of the Sleeping Dragon     - 102
XIII. At Nagasaki       ....... 112
XIV. Japanese Women  121
XV. What   the   Japanese    themselves   think   of
Women  129
XVI. Curio Shops and Curio Stalls        -       -       - 138
XVII. At a Japanese Funeral  151
XVIII. Japanese Novels  156
XIX. The  Opening of the Japanese Exhibition at
Tokyo (Ueno)  165
XX. The Martyrdom of a Missionary     -       -       . 174
XXI. To Kobe, for the Mikado's Naval Eeview     - 178
XXII. Kyoto during the English Eoyal Visit -       - 188 via CONTENTS.
XXIII. Down the Rapids with the Duke of Connaught 197
XXIV. Danjuro and the Japanese Theatre        -       - 205
XXV. Tea Houses and Tea Gardens          -       -       - 214
XXVI. The Golden Shrines of Nikko        -       -       - 222
XXVII. "English as She is Spoke" in Japan     -       - 235
XXVIII. Theatres and Variety Shows in Japan  -       - 243
XXIX. A Nation at Play      -       -       -       -       -       - 249
XXX. Publishing a Book in Japan    .... 258
XXXI. An Artist's Home in Japan      .... 267
XXXII. Shaking off the Dust  271
-   279
Shanghai—The Native City
-   290
Hong Kong	
-    300
Hong Kong in Race Week
-    310
-   320
Macao, the Exile Home of Camoens
•   333
The Chinaman Abroad      ....
-   344 THE   JAPS   AT   HOME.
Yokohama, December 1st.
THE first spare moment off shipboard one jumps into a
"jinrikisha" to go round the Japanese town. There
is a considerable latitude in the spelling of the word, the
above being that adopted by the guild of jinrikisha men on
their tariff card; but for brevity I shall often use the shortest
form yet attained by the word—riksha.
The prices charged by the jinrikys, or kurumayas, are
rather shocking to the trades union estimate of the value
of labour. You can drive an hour in a riksha drawn by one
man for sevenpence-halfpenny, and he will wait an hour for
twopence-halfpenny. In snowy or stormy weather he may
claim 50 per cent, extra.
If you prefer to hire by distance, and enjoy the privilege
of having been born a Japanese, you can go half a mile for
three-halfpence and a mile for threepence, though it must be
admitted that no properly constituted riksha boy would take
such a pittance from a European.
On the other hand, the Japanese currency is so much
depreciated that you are only paying 75 to 80 per cent, of
the nominal price; and it is only in demoralised places like
Yokohama that the riksha guilds venture to charge such high
prices. Even in Nagasaki, Europeans who know their way
about can get a riksha for a whole day at a fraction under
eighteenpence, and a Japanese, in country towns which are
uncorrupted by foreigners, would not pay more than a shilling
a day.
I wish I had kept one of these riksha guild tariff cards. 2 THE JAPS AT HOME.
They are fine specimens of " English as she is spoke " in
One soon whirls past the dwarf avenue of typical winter-
flowering Japanese trees, which divide Negeshiyama, the
European town, from Shighio, the native town, and a minute
or two afterwards is in the Benten Dori, one of the two
native streets in which Europeans do most of their shopping,
the Honcho Dori being the principal.
In Japan Americans are always reckoned as Europeans,
and all the Western nations together frequently regarded as
Before we went very far down this street, on this memorable
first afternoon in Japan, we came upon a human water-cart,
who apparently does duty in Japan for the perforated ship's
boiler dear to bumbledom in London. His apparatus consists
only of two long cylindrical wooden pails, suspended from
BUMBOAT TcM\A/tiN bier, |£
Hoi Onoi/ocko JchoMo Mo I     J£/
the flat shoulder rod acclimatised in Australia by the Chinese,
and provided each with a long spigot plugging up a hole in
the bottom. When he is ready, he pulls up this plug stick,
and the water gushes out. I kodaked him: he evidently
understood photography, for his face betrayed an anxiety to
be equal to the honour.
One has not to go far in Japanese-town to come across
some variation of English. "Curio-dealers" may possibly
have observed a vacillation in IPs and N'sin their patronesses'
letters. The Star Hotel, by "Bumboat Tom," is evidently
considered an irresistible attraction to the Anglo-Saxon sailor,
while Brantwein is added in a corner to include the balance
of   the Gothic race.     And one has not to go far for a STREET LIFE IN  YOKOHAMA. 3
specimen of English as what Max Miiller calls an agglutinative
" Nipponekidemugaiseya, railwaysteamships,
cointhings'dealtt-here "
this last all in one word.
One dealer offers his European patrons—
And this is an hotel sign—
Wines and  Liguors
And now, if Max O'Eell gauges rightly the stage at which
newspapers expect one to form an estimate of a country, as I
have just begun to go down the first Japanese street, I suppose
I ought to " size up " Japan.
Japan is, after all, Japanese. Every one you meet does not
speak English, and the coolies, at any rate, do not wear
"boxer" hats, though there is a marked inclination, in the
Japs of very humble surroundings, to combine the Englishman's hat and boots with a Japanese costume, a white
" boxer " of the Noah's Ark pattern being the favourite, rain
or shine.
With the exception of European hats and coarse European
shoes, the lower order of Japanese for the most part adheres
to the national garb; and the ladies of the higher classes
are rapidly returning to it. 4 THE JAPS AT HOME.
I find Japan much odder than the shoemakers' bazaar at
Athens, funnier even than the great bazaar in Constantinople
 the Turk is so preternaturally grave; and one does not wish
him to be anything else, for he only laughs when he is angry
or contemptuous.
Japan*is perhaps more characteristic and queerer than
Ceylon, but Ceylon has the advantage in colour.   Whatever
its woods in spring and the lacquer of its temples may be,
Japanese streets are neutral-tinted. One does not get the
glorious reds and greens of the old tiled roofs and broad
plantain leaves of Colombo, nor even the bright blues of
I think Japan might be almost disappointing if it were
not for the Henry-Irving-in-Hamlet legs of the coolies.   With STREET LIFE IN YOKOHAMA. 5
their picturesque tunics and spinet legs, they look as if they
had been resurrected from the pictures of Perugino or Pin-
turicchio. They are varlets, slippered loons, as arrant as
ever came out of the Middle Ages : they make the whole place
mediaeval. In fact, I doubt if one could give an Englishman
a better idea of unadulterated Japan than by recommending
him to go to the National Gallery and study the fifteenth
century pictures, or to recall the old-fashioned booths reproduced in the pasteboard "Old London" at South Kensington,
with their open fronts and pillbox insides, their grotesque
wares and overgrown grotesque signs, their beetling roofs and
projecting timbers. Their puniness to modern ideas, and
their utter picturesqueness are parodied by the thousand in
Tokyo and Yokohama. And the jerkins and trunk hose are
there to match, not to mention quite a goodly number of bow-
and-arrow shops, and suits of armour exposed for the curio
One of the first things which struck me in the native town
was the resemblance between life in Japan and life in Italy.
Tl^e Japanese are the Italians, as the Chinese are the Germans,
of the East.
In Shighio one can see the double of the poor Florentine,
wrapped in his round cloak, who stands sunning himself on
the Lung' Arno, because he is too poor to have even a scaldino
at home. I have already seen almost the identical cloak in a
thick winter kimono of wool, or chocolate-coloured leather.
The scaldino, the charcoal finger-brasier, which is the sole
comfort of the poor Italian, has its exact counterpart in the
more expensive hibachi; the rag and bone and old metal
shops of the Mercato Vecchio and its purlieus are first cousins
to the humbler curio shops of Japan; and the masses present
the same curious contrast of penurious economy with shift-
They, too, are a laughing, light-hearted people, feeling
life of so little worth or prospect that death has no terrors.
They, too, to the very lowest, are Nature's gentlemen in their
manners, but treacherous, revengeful, and shifty in their
bargains. They, too, are born artists, and have all the
indolence of the artistic temperament so strongly that, without
feudal influences, they produce nothing great as they did in
the old days. The poor rather remind one of the Italian poor
in appearance—clothes apart.
And though their languages have no connection whatever,
philologically, the same liquid note belongs to the genius of 6 THE JAPS AT HOME.
both. Such words as Tokio, Kioto, Yokohama, Nara, Hakodate, would sound as natural under the blue winter sky of
windy Tuscany as under the clear December skies of blusterous
Japan. '\;—
The Japanese, to the very lowest, have charming manners
—a polish like their incomparable lacquer, and said by old
European residents to be no deeper, though as difficult to
chip through.
Those who have had business dealings with both nations
infinitely prefer the Chinese to the Japanese. The Chinese
nibble, but they never repudiate. According to the English
merchants in Yokohama, the Japanese gives an order, and
when it is completed repudiates it if he has any object in
doing so.
It is hard to pin a Japanese down in a bargain. He will
never commit himself, and woe be to you if you go on trust,
so say the oldest residents. A Chinaman's word is good
enough, though the poor John's fingers light. The
Japanese does you wholesale, so says the merchant, and so
says the sea captain, and so says the Press in the privacy of
hotel bars and crowded streets. (They only have to hold their
tongues on paper.)
In fact, their good-natured account of the Japs' way of
doing business reminds me of an Oxford friend who was
being "hauled" by the College Dean for some breach of
academic rules. He, of course, had some perfectly glib and
natural explanation. He was never taken aback. "No,
Mr. J.," said the Dean triumphantly, " that won't do this
time ; you told me the exact opposite last term." "I know
I did," was the unabashed reply, "but that was a lie." I
knew that that man would prosper. At the present moment
he is an editor of a great London newspaper, and I expect
before many years to see him a shining light in the British
Parliament—of course in the ranks of the party of respectability.
There are odd sights at every corner in Japan.
His Majesty's mail is carried by postmen in blue serge
bicyele club costumes, with knee breeches and white cotton
gloves, but frequently no shoes or stockings. To make up
for this, they invariably wear solar topees on their heads,
though the Japanese do not use sun strokes. But the
queerest crew I have seen for many a day are parading about
in Lincoln-green togas and limpet-shaped hats that look like
. I ask my jinrikisha man, who prides himself upon his
English, who they are. He answers in his terse way, for he
deals in only one part of speech—nouns—" church people,"
and I have to be contented. They look like a lot of king-
crabs. We pass a small temple, but I will not pause to
describe it, as there is sure to be an epidemic of temples in
subsequent chapters.
The mention of church people and temples reminds me
that it is Sunday. The Jap even keeps Sunday in a way.
There are more people idle than on other days, and the upper
class Japanese make a holiday of it. So do many of the
Chinese, who go up to Tokyo by rail (second class, not third),
gorgeously attired in apple-green and sky-blue brocades and
white silk stockings, smoking cigars of the largest size. The
Japs observe Sunday as they wear a European hat, because it
stamps them as a superior class. They would keep the Jews'
Sabbath, too, if it was " smart " enough.
It isn't due to the missionaries, for whom they have the
most undisguised contempt. The well-bred Japanese shudder
to think of missionaries, while the poorer class do not keep
the Christian Sunday at all, but go on trading as usual,
though they may possibly feel grateful for a day on which
Christian shops are shut, and Christian buyers driven to the
counter of the unbeliever (as we are literally, in jinrikishas,
to-day). 8
Even odder than the postman is the key-smith, with a
beautiful brass-bound cabinet containing his tools, fringed
with a regular pawn-shop of old keys. His cabinet has
delightful little drawers. Every specimen of the Japanese
cabinet-maker's work has these drawers in all sorts of out-of-
the-way places, which fly open and close in the most unexpected manner. These tool cabinets, especially those which
are made by workers for their own use, are veritable works
of art, and seldom obtainable by foreigners.
None of the men look as if they wore anything but hose
on their legs, which are far more suggestive of a Christian's
legs before he puts on his trousers than after.
The Benten Dori, though a fair street to shop in, is not
a very interesting one for native life. It is desperately
anxious to be European in its clientele, though owned exclusively by Japanese. So it has a Pigeon-'English. (is not
this very word a corruption of Business-'English. ?) signboard
over every door, and asks Christians a Jewish rate of profit.
But to-day an ancient native, quite a Japanese Seneca, with
a shaven head and wrinkled cheek, and a neglige Roman
senatorial dress, has strayed in, and is jesting gravely with
a friend. We stop to take a sun picture of him (to this day
I remember the dreary Latin hexameter poem I had to write
when I was at Cheltenham, on " Photography," under the
classical alias of Sol Pictor), and then say to the jinrikisha
man :—
" You go better street; more Japanee."
He rattles us off at a hand gallop (and there is a good
deal of rattle in a galloping riksha) to the street where most
of the native theatres are. I won't describe them now; there
is sure to be an epidemic of theatres, too, in subsequent
chapters. This street is also fuller of native life than any
other, for here they do their lounging.
All along the street, carrying funny little Jap babies in
hoods upon their backs, are big sisters or young mothers—
one can never be very sure which, in Japan—for the Japanese
mature like rabbits, and don't look grown up until they are
One hardly ever sees a grey-headed man in Japan. It
is such a queer, contradictory, upside down.sort of country,
that very likely producing a moustache is a mark of middle
age, and a full beard a sign that one is approaching the term
of man.
The Japanese are no more hostile to the idea of " bustle " STREET LIFE IN YOKOHAMA. 9
than their so-called more civilised sisters but lately were.
I notice a very fine one on a woman washing the steps of
her dwelling, and that dwelling only the humblest type of
Japanese shop, with its tiny open front, and its almost total
absence of stock, veiled by paper slides and banners of dark
blue ship's canvas, ornamented in white with cabalistic
designs which may be letters of the alphabet. If she were
to turn round I should probably be confronted with a row
of jet black teeth; for the Japanese husband, who is jealous,
considers it his only safeguard to render his wife repulsive
to other men by making her mouth a Gehenna.
Close by they are building a house (which will presumably
be " somebody's " house) of black mud, on a very airy framework. The beaver makes a better job of it; but, on the one
hand, he does not expect his handiwork to be upset by an
earthquake any day, and, on the other, he does expect it to
keep out the elements. Besides, it must be necessary to
build things cheaply in Japan.
I can't form the wildest guess as to what the poor
Japanese lives on. There are forty millions, and one can
gauge the rate of wages by the fact that one can, as I have
already said, go half a mile in a riksha for three-halfpence, and
buy' a cabinet three feet high with half a dozen drawers and
two sets of folding doors, for a couple of shillings! Yet
every one is dressed well, and every one seems able to afford
to pass a whole day at the theatre when he chooses, and
to spend threepence-three-farthings on doing it, too. And
all the business done is in the pettiest sums, and not too
often at that.
I give it up as to how they make their living, but the
old resident growls out: "Make their living, and a jolly
good living, too, the scoundrels! You've no idea how well
off they are."    Which I am free to admit.
' For vegetables, the poorer classes hover between the seaweed stall and the radish-hawker. Other forms of greengrocery are included in the business, but quite under a
bushel compared to this mammoth radish—the daikon. The
Japanese are very fond of it, but the Europeans of course
pronounce it rank, as they would anything that was at once
large and cheap, and relished by the natives.
The loads these poor fellows will carry on their shoulders
are astonishing. I bought a palm tree when I got back to
the hotel, four or &ve feet high, in a pot of earth a foot
and a half square, which the hotel boots could hardly carry 10
upstairs. The flower-seller was carrying two of these, and a
camellia and half a dozen other large flowers to boot. For
one of these enormous shrubs, in quite a handsome fancy
wooden pot, I gave him only half-a-crown ; and only sixpence
for the camellia. And I suspect that the hotel guide made
him pay a pretty good brokerage out of this.
The odd Jap lanterns are a great industry in the streets,
The boys who paint them are hardly bigger than English
babies; but then, infants are very precocious in Japan.
Every five minutes you meet some queer little slip of
mortality, with its little arms tucked, in characteristic
Japanese fashion, each up its own sleeve, and with its
thoughts devoted to the nation (or perhaps marriage).
How unwilling we are to turn our human horses' heads
towards home. We feel as if we could stay out all night in
this new earth (which has a very hazy idea, if any, of any
heaven, new or otherwise). It looks even more like a willow
pattern plate than it did from the deck of the ship.
The Japanese seem to have borrowed everything. We
know that they borrowed one kind of pottery from Corea
and another from China, both now conquered and centuries
behind them; that they borrow every conceivable article
from the civilisation of the West; that they borrowed their
very alphabet from China. It seems as if they had
borrowed their scenery, too, from China.
The very fish hawkers carry out the national idea, by
borrowing a couple of yen (dollars) one morning to buy a
load of fish, which they have to pay back the next with the
inconsiderable interest of twenty-five sen (cents) — about
5000 per cent, per annum.
However, the coolies at any rate are very Japanese, with
their crested tunics and cinque-cento legs. Nothing could
be more Japanese than one I met, with his queer thatched
stall balanced on his shoulder, and the innate brightness of
this people,, high and low, shining in his expression. His
mate was carrying a couple of piles of boxes and baskets
slung from his shoulder staff, as milkman used to carry
their pails in London, before they grew proud by making too
much money out of their shares in water companies,
We hurry home past the Cricket Ground, which the
English, as irrepressible as their own sparrows, have engrafted on the Land of the Rising Sun; past the headquarters of the Ken or district, and the General Post Office
(every public building with  a  gilt conventionalised rising STREET LIFE IN  YOKOHAMA.
sun proclaiming its Imperial connection); past the huge
consulate, over which waves the flag on which the uncon-
ventionalised sun never sets; past the custom house wharf,
the celebrated English Hatoba, and along the Bund to the
After the lunch we got to-day at the hotel, we were determined to make up with the admirable cuisine for our long
period of dieting against the return of sea-sickness on the
qualmish waters of the Pacific, while it indulged in what
Canadians call " winter pastimes."
Dinner over, the younger and more frivolous members of
our party went off to kill time—since they were really downright sorry to lose each other, and had to say good-bye in an
hour or two—in a way so regardless of its being the Sabbath,
as to remind me of a fellow-passenger I had when I went
round the Cape of Good Hope to Australia. As his name
betrays, he was a Hebrew. I met him one Sunday afternoon
going down the companion stairs. " Where are you off to,
Mr. Cohen ? " I enquired, for the afternoon was lovely. " I
am just going to 'ave a game of poker with two or three
Christians."    I didn't feel like " seeing " him after this.
J 12
When they went off with malice prepense, as the law hath
it, I came up into our sitting-room overlooking the bay, to
muse and ask myself if it were really possible that I was in
the land of marvels, the most artistic in its heaven-sent way
since Greece lost the art.
It was nearly nine o'clock when I came up, and from the
beautiful Omaha, the United States corvette, which reminds
me of an old-fashioned frigate with her graceful fiddle-bow,
and of a passee belle with her retention of graces out of date
in the present severe tailor-made fashions in ships, came the
musical American bugle call. As I am writing, I hear the
tinkle of " two bells," and the discharging of the nine o'clock
gun. Looking out from the window I see, crisp and black in
the moonlight, the lofty spars of the beautiful ship. How
lovely is the pure, clear Japanese night following the shining
Japanese day, unrivalled for photography (as, by-the-bye, one
hears of ever^' country, except those of Northern Europe). I
can see every ship in the harbour, and so still is the water
that the reflection of the steamers' lights seems to bridge the
whole space from the ships to the shore. CHAPTER II.
Yokohama, December 8th*
' \\7~E have been in Yokohama a week to-day, so I feel that
* * I must chronicle some more of my impressions ere
the strangeness of the country loses its edge.
It was a good place to land: for nearly every one who
goes to Japan via America does land here—chiefly, perhaps,
from its vicinity to Tokyo, the capital of the country.
Besides, it is the principal foreign colony, and one can get
excellent accommodation to recruit after the voyage, and a
good many wrinkles about travelling in the interior.
It was a great relief, after the close quarters on board the
old chartered boats which run from Vancouver to Yokohama
(the ocean greyhounds of the C. P. R. were not ready when
these lines were penned), to find one's self in the Club Hotel,
with its fine hall and great, airy rooms, which had once been
the quarters of the Yokohama Club.
Very novel and strange it was to sit down to a regular
French lunch of many courses, served by a crowd of spindle-
legged Japanese, in their picturesque dark blue tunics and
hose, who (most of them) could not speak a word of English,
and took their orders by the numbers on the menu.
" Boy, bring me some No. 1."
Very funny we thought the shuffling noise they made as
they ran about the floor, dragging their straw sandals by
their big toes.
As I said in the last chapter, lunch over, we, like everybody else that has ever landed in Japan, ordered rikshas right
off, and drove away to the Japanese town. On our way we
passed the " Hatoba," where we had landed, called in popular
parlance the " English Hatoba."
Landing in Japan is most entertaining. The moment a ship
drops anchor she is surrounded by a flotilla of the queer little
native boats, propelled with one oar by half-naked Japanese,
13 14
who swarm up on the ship's deck, sucking in their breath and
bowing to the ground as soon as they are on board. Nobody
patronises them but the Asiatic passengers. Saloon passengers
go off in the hotel launches, which in a few minutes, threading
their way through the swarming native craft, land you close
by the custom house.
Your luggage is carried up by a swarm of coolies. How
quaint they looked the first time one saw them, in their tight
hose and tunics, made of the universal dark blue cotton,
ornamented in the back with some brilliant device in white or
red. The coolie who carried up our hand parcels looked like
a walking advertisement of the Waterbury watch. Most of
them were barefooted, all of them were bare-headed, perspiring,
and smiling.
Japanese smile from the day they begin riding on their
sisters' backs to the day on which, to use a fine Buddhist
phrase, they " condescend to die."
Close to the Hatoba is the division between the native and
European cities. The spacious mansion of the English
consu1, a typical Eastern house, is on one side of the road,
and on the other is the Kencho, where the business of the
Ken, or prefecture, is transacted. Just beyond this is the
post office, a large brick building in the American style,
ornamented with the golden emblem of Japanese nationality.
(The Japanese themselves can hardly tell you whether it was
originally the rising sun or a chrysanthemum.) This road
is planted on both sides with flowering trees, blossoming the
day we landed, in the middle of winter.
Immediately after this, to our delight, we made our escape
from the Lie-European town, as the Chinaman would call it,
and struck the ordinary Japanese town in the Benten Dori
(Venus Street). The houses here were, many of them,
thoroughly Japanese—little one-storey affairs, built of wood, IN YOKOHAMA, A   WEEK LATER.
with their fronts removed all day, replaced, if it was sunny
enough, with dark-blue or chocolate-coloured curtains, like
the door of a tent, ornamented with the owner's name or
device in huge white characters.
Most of them in this street were shops for the benefit of
foreigners—photograph shops, porcelain shops, basket shops,
silk merchants', haberdashers', or curio shops of the third
order. The second order are in the Honcho Dori—the next
street—which emblematises its superiority by having the
shop fronts glazed instead of open.    The first order are in
shops like Deakin's or the Fine Art Gallery, in the foreign
Even some of the Benten Dori shops were un-Japanese
enough to have counters. The true Japanese shop has a
floor, raised about a foot above the street, covered with fine
straw mats an inch thick. On this the proprietor squats, the
customer never stepping upon it without removing his boots.
The stock is partly spread out on the floor, partly on shelves,
and partly hung from the ceiling. At the rear is a wooden
ladder, like a ship's companion, leading to the attic, if there
is one, and there is generally a passage on one side. 16
In the first shop a little boy was finishing off, with a
hammer and agate burnisher, the gilt on one of the great
" Satsuma " jars which they make in Yokohama.
In the third shop, last Sunday, when we were still very
green, it being our very first day in Japan, we bought some
note paper, ornamented with storks, temples, torii, and
Fujiyama, which we fondly believed to be what the Japanese
used, until, a little lower down, we came to a genuine
Japanese stationer's, Tomoya's, where we saw the hundred-
feet rolls of porous wrapping paper, upon which the natives
of " Nippon " indite their billets doux, and saw them making
the great white-covered account books, with knotted rope
backs, so familiar to us now that we have been in Japan a
whole week.
The "church people," whom we saw last week in the
bright green cloaks and limpet-shaped hats, turn out to be
mendicants licensed by some temple in Kyoto.
After leaving the Benten Dori we crossed the canal near
the police-station, and were happy at last, for we found
ours3lves, as I have mentioned, in the "theatre-street"—a
genuine bit of Japan.
At the very entrance was a theatre where you could sit all
day for about fourpence, and smoke your pipe and eat your
dinner. It was ornamented outside with huge signboards,
covered with the most blood-curdling pictures of dragons, as
big as ships., breathing the traditional fire: of women being
cut up like beef-steaks; of blood-splashing murders, and
split-hair's-breadth escapes, painted in all the colours of the
rainbow, the hue of blood showing up nobly.
Most Japanese plays are very much in 'Ercles vein. They
are really exceedingly clever in simulating wounds; the
murderer makes a savage cut, and blood spurts from his
A " tum-tumming" noise is kept up all the time the
performance goes on, possibly to draw the attention of folks
outside to the fact that the performance is going on.
Outside the theatre was a row of little girls, seemingly
about four years old, carrying the next baby but one in the
haiori on their backs, and discussing affairs with the gravity
of matrons, or skipping about to get out of the way of the
kodak. Whether they were standing still, or he was having
his head shaken off, seemed a matter of pure indifference to
the baby.
Close by stood the pipe-mender, with a rack full of second- IN  YOKOHAMA, A  WEEK LATER.
hand pipes, ranging down to a halfpenny in price ; but most
of his customers preferred to economise, and have their own
dilapidated pipes mended. Then we drove on and passed an
Ameya, or maker of dough toys, which he blows out in glass-
blower's fashion in the shape of gourds, cupids, cocks, etc.;
and one of the little street stoves, where by paying a fraction
of a halfpenny children can have a little dough and sauce,
and spend the whole afternoon in cooking,
We go nearly every day to this queer street, with its
theatres and bath houses, and bazaars where they sell semi-
European trash, and the inevitable pipe-cases and hairpins.
It has one most fascinating by-street leading off it, where the
cabinet-makers and fourth-class curio sellers congregate.
I have spent hours and hours in this street, picking up
queer little articles of daily domestic use among the humbler
Japanese, as artistic as a Greek temple in the observance
of the science of shape and ornament, and each with its little
bit of allegory or famous legend hinted at. There were
brass bowls and plaques ; pipe case clasps; wooden and bone
netsukes; metal inkpots for the belt, hardly differing from the
Turkish ; bronze mirrors and miniature temple ornaments;
inros of rare lacquer, chipped out of all value, but interesting
as specimens; the comb and mirror pouches used by geisha
girls, and what not.
It was in this street that I bought at a cabinet-maker's a
couple of old temple banners, twenty feet long, made of heavy
cotton something like  ship's canvas, painted one with the
|| 18
famous battle on the bridge between Yoshitsune and Ben-Kei,
and the other with the great old General Toyotomi Hideyoshi,
the Warwick of Japan.
They are splendid pictures, full of life and colour, though,
of course, with the absurd Japanese disregard for perspective.
I have seen forty dollars asked for one not to be compared
with them in a shop in New York.
And every day when we get to the end of Theatre Street,
the riksha boys, who, being paid by the hour (a whole
sixpence), naturally want to spin things out as much as
possible, suggest that we shall return by way of the Bluff.
" You see where English gentleman live, very rich."
Yokohama consists of at least five different quarters.
The well-to-do foreigners all live up on " The Bluff," as the
queer, flat-topped hill, of the orthodox Japanese pattern, at
the entrance of the harbour, is called. Their places of
business and the hotels are in the Settlement, separated from
the Bluff by a creek, and mostly near the sea-front, or Bund.
At the back of this is "Chinatown"—Yokohama has a
population of two or three thousand Chinese—and separated
•from the Settlement and Chinatown by the road from the
hatoba to the cricket ground is the native town, faced in the
front, mostly, by buildings in the European style. Beyond
this, again, is the Kanagawa Bluff, where the wealthy Japanese
live, almost overhanging the railway station.
The houses of the wealthy foreigners on the Bluff are
some of them delightful.
The unevenness of the ground gives a wonderful opportunity for landscape gardening, and with a bamboo brake,
a few palms, a lotus pond, and one or two of the great stone
votive lanterns they call ishidoro, one can be as Oriental as
The houses themselves are great, roomy bungalows, full
of the artistic things which can be picked up so easily in
this land of recently decayed feudalism, and which will make
the owner's fortune, or remind him for ever of the quaint
Eastern land in which he was a pilgrim and a sojourner after
he has returned home, as the Englishman in the East
always means to do.
The houses are full of picturesque, smiling, obliging
servants, and really their owners have as much quiet luxury
as any reasonable man could desire.
Away beyond the Bluff are the cemetery and the racecourse, which seem to have a sort of affinity in the Anglo- IN YOKOHAMA, A   WEEK LATER.
East, and, beyond them again, a scene of enchanting beauty,
the Gulf of Tokyo stretching away down to Yokosuka, with
a long procession of crumpled headlands and islands; and
right at one's feet a delicious little bay, with the sweet little
village of Negishi nestling under the cliffs in its embrace.
Negishi, with its microscopic farms and tiny village
houses with steep thatched roofs of marvellously picturesque
shape, and its dear little graveyard scooped out of the cliff,
with rows of pitiful stone Buddhas at the heads of the
sleeping dead, is an idyL
From the Bluff down to the Settlement the slope is so
steep that riksha boys won't draw you down it unless they
have a second man to act as brake, and won't draw you up
it unless they have an assistant behind to act as propeller.
It is bordered by rather nice little curio shops, which have
very pretty little things at quite moderate prices. They have
to tempt residents, who know the value of things.   Visitors 20
don't trouble the Bluff much, except when they are asked out
to dinner by the people to whom they brought letters of
introduction, and this is of course at night.
Tiffin, as they call lunch in the East, is at twelve, and
so we had been able to drive all round the native town, the
Bluff, and the Settlement, and back in time to see some
performances by daylight of the street tumblers and acrobats
and monkey trainers, who had collected round the Club Hotel
on observing that a new ship had come in.
The conjuror's principal tricks consist of lying on his back
with his feet in the air, supporting tiers of human beings, or
spinning an impossible number of large wooden tubs at the
same time, or eating flaming charcoal. In Japan his sleight-
of-hand is not, as a rule, remarkable. I soon got tired of the
conjuror, and persuaded the monkey-trainer to begin. The
" monkey-business " was very funny in this particular troupe.
There were two men, and a very pretty and picturesque young
woman—a regular gipsy, as black as a Malay—who did everything with an uptossed head and a haughty look in her eyes,
as if she " couldn't be bothered."
Her duties were multifarious. She had to twang the
samisen, beat the drum, and keep the monkeys' wardrobes
sorted, so that the performers could dress up the animals
without dGlay. IN YOKOHAMA, A   WEEK LATER. 21
If the Japanese only knew how successfully the monkeys
counterfeit them in the eyes of strangers, they would execute
every monkey in Dai Nippon.
Now it would be an imitation of a swaggering, two-sworded
Samurai; now an old hunchbacked mendicant woman, hobbling along with a stick ; now the haughty master scolding a
servant kowtowing and grovelling his forehead in the dust—
always too lifelike.
We live luxuriously at the Club Hotel. We have a fine
sitting-soom with five windows less than a stone's throw from
the sea, a private entrance to the street, and bedrooms en suite,
for almost half what it would cost us to live in the same style
at quite a second-class London hotel, and our first dinner will
give you an idea of how we are fed.
Our bill of fare that night included oyster and turtle soup
and fish better cooked than one ever gets in an American
hotel, and various kinds of meat, and poultry, and game, and
entrees, and three or four kinds of pudding, with fruit, and
nuts, and ices to wind up with..
This is the "roughing it" which we had pictured to
ourselves, and we often have a quiet laugh over it. After
dessert I spend a delightful hour in the snug library of the
Yokohama United Club, one of the cosiest clubs I know, and
then I come back to our sitting-room to join the others,
ensconced in easy chairs, with the feeling of content one has
when one has had a thoroughly good dinner as a climax to a
tiring day on shore, after the enforced idleness of that tiring
fortnight on a stormy sea.
We sit with the dreamy happiness of lotus eaters, listening
to all sorts of unfamiliar sounds; the shrill ho-he-to whistle
on the double bamboo, followed by the clop-clop of a blind
man's staff proclaiming the wandering momu (massage
operator—a task performed almost exclusively by the blind
in Japan); the clattering of the riksha boys, whose vehicles
we can count by the glimmering lanterns of brightly painted
paper ; and at nine o'clock the bugling :>n the war ships which
summons to bed. The day we arrived, for once in my life, I
obeyed the summons. I generally like to see the day duly
finished before I turn in. CHAPTER III.
Yokohama, December 15th.
I HAVE been in Japan a fortnight, and I can't complain
of my stay being uneventful. I am dictating this
chapter, because I have blown the skin and all the nails
off my right hand, of which more anon, for if I start
describing this I shall forget some of the wonderland through
which I have been passing to-day.
I have been receiving Australian hospitality from an old
political opponent of my uncle's. The latter has long since
gone to rest, and Mr. B. has been resting on his oars in Japan
for five-and twenty years as far as Australian politics are
concerned, and Conservatives and Democrats in Victoria have
been lion and lamb in a coalition for years past. Evening
always comes when the warriors put off their harness. He
volunteered to take our party for a day's sight-seeing in Tokyo,
and to entertain them to a real Japanese banquet at the Maple
At the station at Tokyo we found a guide and interpreter
hired to meet us. He was a comical-looking creature, a typical
specimen of the lower class Japanese, acting as a clothes
horse to an ill-fitting suit of European " slops."
This, we find, is his robe of ceremony. In ordinary life
his European veneer goes no further than a grey felt hat and
the low elastic-sided shoes affected by the Japs, because they
can be kicked off with ease and grace, according to the Japanese
custom, on entering a building, whether sacred or private.
After he left us at the station coming home we learned that
his actual name was Shundo—till then we had known him as
" Man Sunday," because his name sounded something like it,
and because we met him on Sunday, and in honour of Robinson
Crusoe's faithful servant. We are afraid that we shall find
him a great deal too faithful. His English is not bad, but as
a guide he knows less than a riksha boy, which is not saying
However, on this day of days he knew enough to take us
down the Hikagecho, the street at the back of the Shibaguchi;
and we have been very much entertained by the second-hand
clothes shops, with rows of gay silk and crepe kimonos hung
up like half sheep in a butcher's shop.
To-day has been one of those Italian winter days I spoke
of in my first chapter ; bright, warm sunshine and blue sky,
but cold shade and cutting wind. Mr. B. chose Shiba for
our day's sight-seeing, and outside of Nikko, which is several
hours' journey from Yokohama, there is nothing more typically Japanese.    The whole willow-pattern plate materialises
there; the bamboo groves, the tea gardens, the queer cloud-
shaped hills, and temples, temples, temples—all in a beautiful
park, with fine drives and avenues of needle-like cryptomerias!
We passed through a gateway and round one of the torii,
which bestrew sacred enclosures in Japan, and were in Shiba
—Shiba the beautiful, pronounced, though not spelt, as the
English pronounce the land which sent forth its Queen to pay
homage to Solomon.
What we have seen to-day is beautiful and marvellous
enough, and costly enough, to have been the dwelling and
treasure-house of  the mysterious  Queen, one   of the most 24
romantic figures in Hebrew history. And what a Sheba
Japan would have made. Only, unfortunately, there are
etymological difficulties in the way as extensive as the great
wall of China.
We went over for the day from Yokohama, distant only
eighteen miles, to Tokyo, of which Shiba is a suburb.
Remembering the adage that only fools and Americans travel
first class, though Australians should by rights have been
included, we went second, being unable to be Australians and
not wishing to be fools. Mrs. B. happened to observe that it
was the worst second-class carriage she had ever been in.
"Yes," said Mr. B., "it's a new one—one of their own
building. The Japanese think they can play chess as soon as
they know the moves. They hire the best foreigners they
can get to teach them how to make or do anything, and as
soon as they have acquired the most superficial knowledge,
turn them off, without compensation or gratitude, and start
on their own account, though the Chinaman has the credit of
1 never going back\ on a man who has served him well."
We soon forgot the amateurish build of our carriage in
the view, for there was Fujiyama, with his matchless cone
enveloped in a sweeping mantle of fresh-fallen snow, and the
nearer landscape quaint with grotesque low hills, hunchback
bridges, and toy villages. At every village along the line
were long frameworks of matting, with the sea-weed drying
on them which is used for wrapping rice. The country was
principally taken up with rice fields. The rice farmer carries
out literally the precept of Ecclesiastes : " Cast thy bread
upon the waters, for thou shalt find it after many days," for
rice is sown when the rice fields are flooded, simply by
throwing the rice upon the water.
Almost before we knew it we found ourselves at Tokyo
and in the Hikagecho, the queer winding street leading from
the Shimbashi railway station out to Shiba, which has a side
walk on one side of the road only (and that below instead of
above the level of the road), made of wood, with a raised log
We were hardly within its gates when we came across one
of the inevitable torii, and the innumerable wash-places ; for
ablution forms as prominent a feature of religion in Japan as
in Turkey, and, indeed, some of the Japanese washing
fountains bear a striking resemblance to the Turkish, with
their wide eaves and rich carving. All the temples of Shiba
are Buddhist. THE  TEMPLES OF SHIBA. 25
Shinto, the purely national religion of Japan (of which the
Mikado is Pope, King, and a Deity rolled into one), is the
plainest of the plain in contrast with the gorgeousness which
riots at Shiba.
Temples, arches, bell-towers, fountains, have all alike the
grotesque, high-ridged, gabled roofs, with the graceful curve
of the palm leaf replacing the bald slope of European roofs,
their wide eaves resting on a bewildering maze of colour and
Gorgeousness in rags! The costly lacquer yielding to
the weather on the exterior of the temples is a parable.
Buddhism was fostered by the usurping Shoguns, the dictators of the army, the puppet Mikado being the pivot of
The last dynasty of the Shoguns, the Tokugawas, lavished
countless sums on their mausoleum-shrines at Shiba, Ueno,
and Nikko. When they fell, the Mikado naturally cut off the
revenues from the institutions which would have immortalised
the splendour of their rule ; and, consequently, these shrines,
which are among the most splendid monuments of Buddhism,
share the fate of most things maintained by voluntary
subscriptions. But they are still almost indescribably
Go into one of those rare country churches in England
which keep nearly perfect yet, like that of Totnes in Devon,
its fifteenth-century rood screen, and you may form a microscopic idea of these Japanese temple friezes. The same
colours—gold, scarlet, and green (sometimes blue in England)
—predominate, and birds, flowers, fruit, and grotesques form
the subject matter. But the West is poverty-stricken to the
East. Gold is lavished, and for one little Gothic rood-screen
a few yards wide, one has almost acres of these friezes and
The Western carving, too, is often little better than bas-
relief, while the Eastern is sculpture; carved to the minutest
detail back and front, no matter if the back will be shown or
covered up. Each detail is a perfect piece of sculpture in
itself. The pheasant and the stork, the lotus and the plum-
blossom are repeated again and again, with every variety of
conventionalisation and embellishment.
These temples are built with a view to earthquakes.
Japan is run for earthquakes as the encampment in the
Thousand Islands makes hotel accommodation a question of
Methodist principles.   Its one original science is seismology. 26
In these countries, which are apt to feel the trident of
Poseidon, to use the classical myth, the proper way to prevent
a house falling, it would seem, is for it to have no foundation.
It merely has a kind of stone bed, such as one sees round the
legs of the best regulated billiard tables; and thus, when the
earthquake comes, the massive wooden structure, whether it
be the highest pagoda or the most spreading temple, kicks up
its heels like a frightened horse, and by and by quiets down
Talking of pagodas, there is a fine one at Shiba. I
enquired if strangers could go over it. " Oh, yes! on the
16th of July."    My enquiry was on the 15th of December.
I suppose if I had been a native I should have sat down
and waited. Time is of no more consequence here than it
is in Italy, and indeed Japan resembles Italy in a good deal
more than climate. Eliminate the.public buildings, and the
larger shops and dwellings, and life in Japan is very much
like life on the Arno or the Tiber. The very coolies, as I
remarked elsewhere, have their clothes cut exactly like the
citizens in Perugino's or Carpaccio's pictures. The tailors
of tunics and trunk-hose who lived within hail of the Piazza
of the Signoria, or the Piazza of San Marco, have handed
down their patterns, scarcely modified, to their successors in
Nippon—or perhaps Japan has been able to stop at the
fifteenth century in the matter of decoration.
But there are further points of resemblance. He who
has wandered round the Mercato Vecchio and its purlieus,
or the humble streets on the other side of the Arno at
Florence, and then wanders down the purely native streets
of Yokohama or Tokyo, cannot fail to be struck with the
resemblance between their cheap pottery shops; their disgustingly savoury cook shops; their dozens and dozens of
general shops, half marine store and half pawnbrokery,
in which rusty and battered hardware predominates; their
basket shops; their cheap stationery shops ; their swarms of
dirty, inquisitive children; their asking twice as much as
they intend to take for an article; their patient haggling,
and studying of a stranger's state of mind to see if he is
really eager, and if he is likely to budge from his offer; and
the impossibly small price which they would ask a fellow-
citizen for it.
The very beggars resemble each other, but are laudably
fewer in Japan.
But to return to Shiba.     We had breakfasted at 8.30, THE TEMPLES OF SHIBA. 27
and were not to have our banquet with the dancing girls
until 2 p.m., so we felt that, being twelve o'clock, it would
be wise to refresh the ladies before we started to regularly
do " The Temples." Accordingly we climbed a little hill to
a tea-garden, flanked on one side by the pagoda, and on the
other by the monument to the first Japanese geographer,
who constructed a still existing map about six hundred years
ago. A copy of his map is beaten in bronze on the railings
in front of his monument.
The monument had only been opened the day before by
one of the Princes. I have the autograph copy of the Prince's
speech, presented to me as a curio.
As we climbed up the hill to the tea-garden we passed a
shrine to the goddess Inari, easily recognisable by the two
foxes guarding it. Inari made all the foxes her servants,
so whenever one sees a fox guarding a shrine one knows
whose it is at a glance.
As we climbed we had also a lovely view of the Gulf of
Tokyo, outlined with the distant rim of the hills of Kanozan,
and studded with the white sails of junks.
, We had tea, squatting on benches in front of the monument—the infusion of bitter herbs known as green tea, and
various bean-meal sweetmeats. I amused myself with photographing the monument.
When the ladies professed themselves refreshed, we
started off for the tombs of the Shoguns, and the magnificent
shrines grouped round them, visiting on the way some other
fine temples, and the little black Buddha always carried in
his wars by that redoubtable warrior Iyeyasu, the founder of
the Tokugawa dynasty.
It is in front of a bronze Buddha at the entrance to his
temple that the beautiful stone lotus cistern stands. The
bronze Buddha has a number of votive tablets hung in front
of it, and its arms filled with pebbles by the faithful. To
reach it one has to cross the little bridge over a pond full of
the sacred lotus lily, and to pass some of the queer stone
priests' tombs, ornamented with the arrangement of cubes
and globes and triangles, which emblematises the ^.ye elements
of earth, air, water, fire, and wind.
The temples we had just visited were remarkable for the
infinite richness of the frieze under their eaves. Birds,
flowers, and fruit fairly rioted in these superb masses of gold
and green and scarlet interlacing. In particular I noticed a
dragon frieze, the wildest in imaginative design, the deepest 23
carved, the most gorgeously coloured, and graced at each
gable with an exquisite bronze bell. In front of this were
two splendid specimens of the famous hanging dog and
inverted cock.
As we, fresh from the new West, were riveted by these
quaintest vagaries of the unawakened East, a queer sort of
crow flew over our heads, with " Ah, ah, ah I " in place of the
familiar caw.
Here, too, we saw the most exquisite of the washing fountains. I doubt if Sultan Achmet's is more beautiful; it
certainly is not comparable in richness of colouring.
If the- Japanese fountains fail anywhere it is in their
columns. Nearly all the columns of Japan are plain square
beams, or the same counterfeited in stone. It looks as if one
had superposed the most fantastic Oriental roof on copies of
Here, too, we caught our first glimpse of those extraordinary
objects, the stone votive lanterns of the fudai daimio, the
lesser vassals of the Shoguns (Tycoon emperors). Some of
them are a dozen feet or more high, carved in fantastic shapes.
There is a little sort of window for a light. Each of those
daimios presented a couple of lanterns to his favourite temple,
one to stand on the right and one on the left of the entrance.
The greater, or kokushin daimios, presented magnificent
bronze lanterns. There are literally hundreds of these lanterns
offered to deceased Shoguns, of which anon.
There is some curious cyclopean masonry round some of
these temples; and I was more and more impressed as I went
on by the red, red, red of them—they were all glorious with
I must get on to the tombs of the Shoguns, which are
certainly one of the sights of Japan. It is a regular feast of
lanterns. One enters through the court of stone lanterns, a
huge elongated space containing hundreds, perhaps thousands,
of them. From this one passes into another filled with superb
bronze lanterns, and one of the quaint bell towers which
contain such enormous bells.
The finest bronze lanterns of the kind are said to be the six
in these temples presented by the three princely families called
" Go-San-Ke.'"
They are of large size, and standing by themselves are
particularly conspicuous. From the court of the bronze lanterns one passes into the courtyard of a temple hung with a
long festoon of brass lanterns.    The bronze and stone are, of THE TEMPLES OF SHIBA. 29
Course, standing, not hanging. From the court of brass
lanterns one passes into the praying chamber of the priests,
not unlike a rectangular chapter-house, with a matting floor,
exquisite panels, and a number of large oblong lacquered
boxes, about eighteen inches long, six inches wide, and five
inches deep. These, the interpreter said, contained their
prayer-books — something, I suppose, corresponding to the
huge volumes bound in purple morocco for which young
ladies work book-markers when the vicar has no wife to
protect him.
From the praying-chamber a delicate little ante-chamber
leads into the chapel of Iyenobu, Iyeyoshi, and Iyemochi,
the 6th, 12th, and 14th Shoguns. Into its glorious carvings
enter no less than a hundred different birds and trees,
predominant over all, the pheasants so noticeable at Shiba.
At the chapel door our guide took off his shoes, but the
priest was gallant, and seeing how much trouble it would be
for Miss Aroostook to unlace her boots and lace them up
again as neatly, he waived the regulation in her favour, and
the whole party followed suit.
The chapel was, of course, very gorgeous, but the principal
thing I noticed was a green silk cloth presented by the
Mikado, with the inevitable conventionalised sun in heavy
bullion lace. For the religion of the Mikado is Shinto, not
Buddhism, and these were the chapels of the rival potentates,
the Shoguns or Tycoons.
Up to 1868, when the Shogunate was overthrown, Japan
had a dual monarchy, like ancient Sparta— the Mikado, the
nominal emperor and head of the purely national religion of
Shinto, and the Tycoon (Shogun), who was in theory only
the commander-in-chief, but in reality dictator over at least
the north-eastern part of the country.
From the chapel we passed into another court of lanterns,
and ascended a broad flight of steps, in the interstices of
which grew the familiar little spleenwort, the trichomanes,
which seems to have ecclesiastical habits, since it patronises
in the same way the old churches and walls and ruined
abbeys of England.
This brought us into another temple, with great bronze
doors and sliding panels within. These were flung back, and
revealed an exquisitely lacquered floor, which shone as only
the marble pavement of St. Paul's Without the Walls has
shone to me before; while, frescoed on gold, two on each side
of the altar' were four monsters that reminded me strangely ■' I
of the representation in Christian art of the four beasts of
the Apocalypse.
Then came another stately flight of steps, and the
ponderous but beautiful bronze gates, presented by a king
of Corea about two hundred years ago, admitting to the fine
bronze tomb of the 6th Shogun of the Tokugawa dynasty,
Iyenobu. I made preparations to kodak it. The priest was
highly amused at my kodak. I asked if I might stand on
the tomb of the Shogun's wife so as to get this photograph.
He said, Yes, if I did not take long. I just popped up,
snapped, and down again. And he would not believe I had
done it!
Then we descended the great stairway, and passed into
the next enclosure to a precisely similar stairway, culminating
a succession of courts and temples. We reascended through
a door with exquisite carvings of plum blossom (plum
blossom is to Japan what the long leagues of cherry blossom
in Sir Francis Doyle's immortal poem are to Kent), to the
tomb of the 12th Shogun, Iyeyoshi. His tomb, like all
the others except Iyenobu's, is made of stone. It has a remarkably handsome doorway. After this we visited the tomb
of the 14th Shogun, Iyemochi; precisely similar in courtyards, temples, steps, and every other attribute.
And then, to our extreme regret, as we had not time to
visit the gorgeous lacquered tomb of Hidetada, we began to
retrace our steps from this maze of colour, and carvings, and
costliness, passing through the gateway of the Ni-0 into the
huge irregular-shaped outer courtyard with its hundreds of
stone lanterns. This gateway has on its outside grated niches
in which the " Two Kings" stand. In front of this wire
grating the Japanese chew paper pellets, and spit them at the
statues.   If they stick it is a good omen.
And now we bade good-bye to Shiba for the present, and
getting Man Sunday to hail the rikshas, whirled off to our
banquet with the dancing girls at the Maple Club. As we
drove we passed in long procession the queer willow-pattern
mounds and solemn fir woods, needle-like in their closeness
and tapering stems, but topped something like the stone
pines which make Italian landscapes so picturesque.
The scenery, the jinrikishas, the grotesque barbaric
temples we had just left, the banquet and dancing-girls
which awaited us, made us confess: " Truly Japan is
Japanese." And here the jaded Western traveller may at
last find novelty. CHAPTER   IV.
Yokohama, December 15th.
IN my last chapter I alluded to our eventful banquet at the
Maple Club. This is not, as its name might imply, an
association of Canadians exiled in London or New York,
but an institution after the manner of the Lyric Club with its
plays, where the bureaucracy, aristocracy, and plutocracy of
Dai Nippon recreate themselves with chess and draughts, the
most luxurious of dinners, and the most exquisite of dancing
girls in far-off Japan.
Though we were the guests of an Australian, we had to be
admitted to the entertainment at the club by the courtesy of
Mr. K. Nagao, president of the Hakubunsha, the principal
publishing firm of Japan; and on our arrival we were met
by a gentleman bringing from him cordial apologies for being
unable to join us, and a present of two beautiful books, highly
illustrated and bound in silk, done up with the multifold red-
and-white string, and the little paper kite which proclaims a
One of the books represented the various games played in
Japan, and the other gave forty plates of exquisitely delineated
birds and flowers.
The Maple Club was very much maple. The ceilings, and
I daresay the floors, were made of maple wood; little dark
wood bosses of maple leaves were inserted all over the house;
the sunken brass handles for sliding back the doors were
maple-leaved; the white silk panels which formed the walls
were sprinkled with gold maple leaves. The little hibachi—
hand-stoves for charcoal—placed between each two guests in
the dining-room, were fretted with maple leaves. The dado
between the dining-room and dancing-room had a maple tree
in its spring leaf, and the dado at the back of the latter
another with the crimson tints of autumn; the very balcony
had a maple-leaf balustrade.
m 32
There was a balcony running along the whole length of
the two rooms, screened off by sliding windows glazed from
floor to ceiling, and from end to end, making a delightful
sun bath.
The room was carpeted with thick soft matting, made of
the uniform mat shape, by which a Japanese measures the
size of a room. He does not say a room of so many feet by
so many feet, but a room of so many mats.
It was, of course, innocent of chair or table, the only furniture being princess cushions (extra wide and soft), covered
with silk cre^pe of a subtle electric blue, garnished with the
inevitable maple leaf. It is not to be imagined that we outraged matting or cushions with our Christian boots ; I doubt
if the Mikado himself would be admitted to the Maple Club
without removing his boots at the threshold.
The boots of every one in the building are always ranged
in a row outside, reminding me of the bull-dog of a bibulous
friend in America, whose choice of doorstep was an infallible guide to the particular bar in which his master was
" resting."
But to commence the entertainment. We sat down, as I
have said, in a room furnished only with matting, and hand-
stoves, and princess cushions. All of a sudden a bevy of
pretty little musumes entered, carrying, on little lacquer
trays, cups in little lacquer saucers of the washy-looking, but
wormwood tasting, green tea of the country.
There was a fascinating girl attendant, the prettiest that
could be found in Japan, to each; richly attired in the dull
grey or blue silk so much affected here, ornamented behind
with formidable sashes of light bright silk lined with scarlet.
This obe, or sash, formed a waistband, tied in a huge knot
behind, which spread out like the concave of a shell below,
and was rolled like the hinge of a shell above, the lining
matching that of the long hanging sleeves.
Impossible as it may seem to the victim of Anglo-Saxon
waiters, these Japanese girls have made waiting as picturesque
as a gipsy dance. They enter the room without a sound
from their stocking-shod feet, glide up to you, and then,
falling upon their knees, lay the food before you, and continue kneeling, with drooped eyes and hands, until you are
ready to be helped.
After the first discharge of tea they re-entered, carrying,
on little white wooden trays, wrapped in delicate rice paper,
hi-okwashi.  They did not enter in a herd, but one stealing in -^c-*-
the tracks of another. Perhaps I ought to mention that
hi-okwashi consists of beautiful white cakes, looking like
marzipan, stamped with Japanese characters, and made of
bean flour and white sugar, with the delicate flavour of honey
in the comb. The hi-okwashi was flanked with maple leaves
made of some sweetmeat, " in -spring and fall colours," as
they say " on 14th Street."
These are said to keep four months, but they last Europeans longer.
Then came a quite sufficient interval. We were distinctly
relieved when we saw the head of the tableaux-vivants re-
approaching with literally the most remarkable kettle of fish
I ever set eyes on. This was suimono, and, I may say, quite
sui modo ; deposited, like the hi-okwashi and the washy tea,
on the floor on small black lacquer trays.
This course contained, imprimis, live fish—of which anon—
of two different kinds, white and red, served on a beautiful
little mat of fluted glass, the counterfeit of the little green
rush mats which epicures associate with the most famous of
English cream cheeses. On the same plate was a spoonful
of horseradish, beaten into a paste with vinegar and green
herbs, " daikon," the gigantic radish which lends such a
comical aspect to Japanese greengrocers, a kind of seaweed,
raw spinach and raw shrimps, all in Liliput portions. One
does not start on this suimono, but on a queer fish broth,
served in little lacquer bowls, horribly like the colour it
would be if the lacquer came off; these are brought in with
inverted bowls one size smaller as lids—the invariable lid of
Japan. One takes this broth fish foremost. Extracting the
gobbets of fish was our first experience with chopsticks, which
immediately afterwards we had to ply with considerable
agility in breaking up the " live" fish and dipping it into
the condiment, made—I was just going to say muddled—of
the horseradish, seaweed, and shrimp, in little saucers full of
I professional" sauce.
That you may not picture us holding live fish by the tail,
and tearing out hunks with our teeth, be it explained that
the murder is done in the orthodox Horatian way behind
the scenes (screens) by the wily Japanese, who cuts the
portion from the living fish in such a way as to avoid all
vital parts, giving the epicure the satisfaction of knowing
that the portion is alive enough to quiver if it wants to.
Miss Aroostook ate the whole of her portion with the gusto
of a Japanese aristocrat, and in fact went religiously through
. 34
every course, and used the chopsticks with a finish which the
interpreter said had never been equalled by a European.
At this early stage I felt gratified that one of our party,
accustomed to Japanese orgies, had brought an honest English
sandwich. One bite of the live fish made me throw up my
eyes in despair, only to see the lady of the Aroostook smacking
her lips over sake.
After suimono came something that sounded like sashimini
—prawns in batter, served on a plate with quail which might
have been prepared with a smith's hammer; crystallised
oranges and walnuts; and a queer kind of fish cake, made
of fish beaten up into a paste, and worked up until it looked
like pork fat. Of this one received a slice as big as a mouth
organ. This bag of tricks seemed to be called kuchitori.
The prawns were as big as a good-sized crayfish, and I believe
the quail was excellent; but without the meretricious additions
of bread or potato, and something better than sake to wash
them down, my appetite for savoury viands is limited. But
I am wrong in saying there were no potatoes. There were
potatoes of a sort; Japanese ones, white in colour, but sweet,
and beaten into a paste with bean flour and sugar till they
tasted like matrons glacis.
After the kuchitori came shiwoyaki; that is, fish baked
with salt. It was served with teriyaki (preserved plums) and
sweet potatoes syruped, and was followed by hachizakana,
fish in a bowl. From this farrago I rescued with delight
some fish done to a beautiful brown, tasting like grilled
mackerel; there was something square and European about
this brown fish, so I ate it, with my ham sandwich by way
of bread. It was a wonder they had not Asia-ted it somehow; for in a Japanese banquet, when you do get anything seemingly straightforward, it is sure to be doctored
with syrup or something else which utterly transforms
its nature.
Throughout the banquet we had been stared in the face
by little ampulla-shaped porcelain sake bottles, standing each
in a little carved wooden tray, and each with a porcelain
tureen of hot water beside it, for washing out and warming
the sake cups between each refill. The sake is drunk warm.
Sake is a pale straw-coloured fluid, which has been described
variously as tasting like beer or unfortified sherry; to me
it tastes li'ie that most nauseous of mixtures, weak beer
and water. My cups did not require washing out, but I was
not quite so out of the spirit of the thing as to follow my THE MAPLE CLUB AND ITS DANCING GIRLS.   35
next neighbour's example and order German beer. I simply
went without.
All of a sudden we heard the notes of the Japanese guitar,
and the doors of the dancing-room were closed, only to be
flung open the moment afterwards, and disclose women
playing on the samisen (guitar) and koto, an instrument
which is like a fender stool, about six feet long, with fiddle
strings on it.
A dancer had entered in a marvellous dress of scarlet
brocade, made, as Japanese costumes are, with long sleeves
and two tunics, the under one very light, but disclosing white
satin drawers terminating in queer white linen tabi—shoes
and stockings all in one, with divided toes. The top tunic
was loose, and fastened at the waist with a magnificent sash
of green brocade. The colours were in admirable taste. Her
hair was a work of art: pounded up with fat to much the
sime consistency as the pork-like fish cake, and then beautifully worked up into a butterfly, with large flat wings,
profusely decorated with gemmed pins and flowers. And so,
on a less elaborate scale, each of the girls who waited on us
had hers done.
Japanese girls can be very pretty even to the European
eye. Many of them have exquisite complexions—the rich
brown and damask so glorious in the pictures of Simone
Memmi and Domenico Ghirlandajo—due to the same reason,
the marvellous transparency of the warm-hued skin. Captivating nez retroussSs and little rosebud mouths are quite
But to return to the dancing. It is not dancing in our
sense of the word, but posturing and dumb acting. The first
dancer gave a quantity of fan play. She was an admirable
actress ; good-looking, too, not as the lower order of Japanese
just described, but after the manner of the Japanese aristocracy, with their waxy, oval faces, thin eagle noses, and
bead-like eyes. It was some tragedy she was enacting, in
which passion, represented by thunderous stamping and fierce
rushings forward in a springing posture, was the prelude,
followed by disdain, with pursed lips, thrown up chin, and
scornfully averted eyes. The stiff rigidity with which she
maintained, for many moments together, the writhed postures,
betokened extraordinary muscular training; »and, indeed, I
understand that one requires to be trained from early childhood to execute them. Lastly, she swept from the room like
a tragic queen. THE JAPS AT HOME.
Then the real tragedy began. The interpreter recalled
her at my request, to be photographed in her most striking
attitude. I stepped forward to the charge with my kodak,
and a flash light to give sufficient illumination to the room.
I got my camera into position and lit the flash. It hung fire.
I took it in my hand to see what was the matter, in the
orthodox gun-accident method, and it went off with the
promptness invariable on such occasions.
A swift explosion, a leap back, a cry of " My God! " and
dancers and musicians had fled with wild confusion and a
suspicion of dynamite, while the guests were steeplechasing
over stoves and sake bottles and moribund fish to learn the
worst. It wasn't very bad. I had just blown the nails and
skin off my right hand, and was beginning to feel that unless
water* were brought immediately the room would swim.
Water eventually was brought, and I drank and threw myself
down on a hasty collection of princess cushions to indulge in
the luxury of a few seconds' nirvana. Then oil was brought ,t
and flour, and the hand dipped and bound up in all the
Sunday silk handkerchiefs of the party; for the accident
happened on a Sunday, as goody-goody books predict.
Then I voted that the feast should be resumed. The
Australian, an ex-cabinet minister, accustomed, no doubt, to
stranger scenes in his Legislative Assembly, was already at
work, and more courses were wafted in.
The feature of the first was a curious white soup called
chawan, made of egg, chicken, mushrooms, mitsuba (which
Man Sunday explained as the "water-crest"), and mizakaka,
which means boiled with sauce (Man Sunday wrote sauce
down " souce "). The creature which had suffered mizakaka
was the fish called tai. My Japanese friend said they had
taken its backbone out through a little hole that he pointed
to in the belly, and remarked that it was like our red mullet.
It was stuffed and sent to table with a curious bend, suggestive of a whiting that had gone out of curl.
Then came a pretty incident. The lovely and graceful
chief musician, who seemed to act as spokeswoman for the
troupe, glided in, and kneeling before me with her hands and
eyes drooped in the attitude of supplication, asked through
the interpreter if the rest of the dancing would tire me. I
did not know that they had previously bargained with the
interpreter that there should be no more dynamiting with the
kodak, so I felt as I imagine Ahasuerus must have felt towards
Esther, and was gracious. THE MAPLE CLUB AND ITS DANCING GIRLS.   37
The new dancer was dressed mainly in rich white silk,
with a decoration of the inevitable maple. Hers was a softer
tale, with death as a climax. She fell like a shot bird, flat
on her back; then, with some inappropriateness, picked
herself up again and made a long salaam. It had been all
posturing—the Japanese dance with everything but their feei.
The story of the dumb show is told by the musicians, who
not only tum-tum on the harp and sackbut and psaltery, but
keep up a chant in a solemn and somehow not unmusical
monotone, with cracked falsetto voices.
Meanwhile more chow, to use the local expression, had
been laid at our feet by our kneeling little Eastern beauties,
who were a good deal disturbed by my not patronising the
sake" bottle. This time it was wanmori, a sort of custard
soup containing chicken, mushrooms, boiled fish, and "radish
leaves. It is needless to say that I did not feel more disposed
for devouring chow after my little contretemps, but Miss
Aroostook went on gaily.
My condition seemed to concern the dancers very much.
As soon as they had changed their dresses, kneeling in the
same graceful postures, they made sympathetic inquiries ; and
seeing me trying to rig up a sling, brought a pile of soft
cushions, a foot and a half high, and slipped them under my
injured arm. And, a little while after, when I was pointing out
to Man Sunday a window imperfectly closed, one of them
brought her dainty white shawl and arranged it over me. I
began to feel quite interesting and an invalid, and leaned
back in a delicious dolcefar niente sort of way to look at the
next dance, the tour deforce of the performance, the celebrated
maple dance.
I was far too luxurious to notice the details of the dance,
though I did notice in their hair, on their fans, on every
particle of their exquisite dresses, the maple leaf of the club
which gives the dance its name. A swaying of graceful bodies
in soft sensuous motions, a flutter of fans on the floor, a gleam
of dark heads bending over them—these are all my impressions
of the maple dance which I ought to have described with such
Then came a long wait, in which they sought to recuperate
me with such villanous compounds as sake and Japanese green
tea. The very idea of them being given to me made me feel
aggressively well. The picturesqueness of the scene was
heightened by the arrival of the tall iron candlesticks, two or
three feet high, with straight, slender stems, and a spike to THE JAPS AT HOME.
stick the candle on, so characteristic of Japan. The interval
grew so long without anything particular happening that the
interpreter slipped out to interview the dancing girls, and
stayed away a most creditable time—I mean creditable to his
good taste. At last he reappeared to say that usually this
was all the performance, but that to-night there would be an
extra dance in honour of my presence. And shortly afterwards, truly enough, two dancers reappeared, with musicians
playing on the Japanese violin and samisen, the samisen
player being very pretty. The dances are just long enough
to satisfy one, not long enough to be tiresome, and we had
sensations of genuine regret when the time came for us to
order our jinrikishas and put on our boots.
Every article of food brought during the whole dinner
was left before us to the very end. And when we signified
that we had finished, a number of neat little white wooden
boxes were brought in by pretty little Japanese Hebes who
were waiting on us, and all the broken victuals deftly packed,
this being the Japanese custom. We explained in vain that
tai going out of curl and fish pounded into fat pork had no
charm for us, though we did not mind taking the sweetmeats. Our explanation was put down to our modesty, and
with the scrupulous Japanese politeness over-ruled.
Finally, we jumped on board our rikshas, and bowled
through the gaily lighted streets to the station, stopping on
our way to do some shopping in the Ginza.
To-day has been as Oriental as we could wish.
December V&th.—P.S. (A most important P.S.; four days
afterwards.) The cruellest blow of all had been, not the
injury to my hand, but the failure to take the photographs
I desired. I asked the interpreter if any one had ever
photographed those dances. He promised to make inquiries.
To-day I received a note, saying that the proprietor of the
Maple Club was so grieved with my mishap, that he had
taken the dancing girls, in full dress, to a photographer, and
had the four dances photographed for me, of which he begged
to send me copies, with the most cordial inquiries after my
hand. They were duly tied up with the red-and-white string,
with silver where red and white join, and the little red-and-
white paper kite. As I was undoing the photographs to show
them to Mr. Farsari, the great photographer in Yokohama,
he explained to me that this little kite contains a thin strip
of seaweed, and that seaweed was formerly the principal
article of diet in Japan—so that the little strip of seaweed THE MAPLE CLUB AND ITS DANCING GIBLS.   39
in the kite-shaped paper betokens hospitality. I am glad
that the seaweed diet has been superseded in Yokohama by
really capital French cooking—at any rate at the Club Hotel.
I found a luxurious Japanese banquet a different matter. I
would sooner go to sea than to live on seaweed; and that
is saying a good deal, for I accept that ancient definition of
the sailor's life: " Prison, with a chance of being drowned."
Yokohama, December 25th.
/CHRISTMAS DAY in Yokohama is not a festival of the
V.7 Japanese; they have not yet taken it up as they take
up white felt hats and yellow leather boots. It is mainly
a celebration by a few hundred English, and, in a less degree,
by fewer hundred Americans and Germans, of the holy day
which represents to them the sacred institution of " family."
For on the day on which the Child Jesus was born, the
children of the Anglo-Saxon are wont to gather round the
"house-father,' unless oceans sever, with religion in the
morning and mirth after, till he is gathered to his forefathers
and his children in turn become patres familias.
Wherever the people of the Island Queen, who rules over
ten hundred isles and ten millions of square miles, have
carried the Union Jack, and that is almost everywhere where
ships have sailed, there on Christmas morn one will hear the
" Hark, the herald angels sing," to show that their hearts
are in the old home. Wherever the sun is shining in that
twenty-four hours which begins at 11 a.m. in the 180th
meridian of east longitude, it hears the familiar hymn. And
how strange it seems here in this corner of the earth, with
the open-bosomed Japanese women, and their queer little
children, peeping in at the door to see what kind of jossing
inspires this irrepressible nation whose red merchant flag fills
every port.
Ordinarily speaking, the Sunday muster of burly Englishmen, each dressed in his most respectful, respectable clothes,
and each with his fibrous moustache looking its most bellicose, has something ridiculous about it; but here, the width
of the world away, there is something imposing in the
spectacle of some hundreds of them turning Yokohama into
South Kensington, from 11 a.m. to 12.30 p.m., one day in
every week. I have attended the Christmas service in St.
Peter's, I have spent Christmas in Australia, America, Africa,
and Europe; but I never was more impressed than by the
unpretentious Christmas muster of business Englishmen in
Yokohama, assembled to show that they had changed their
domicile but not their domus.
The church was profusely decorated with scarlet berries,
yew, palm, and bamboo, effectively snowed with little tufts
of cotton wool; and at the entrance of the chancel was a
bamboo arch enriched with white camellias. The music was
really excellent. A long introit embodied the favourite
Christmas hymn tunes, culminating in "Hark, the herald,"
which the congregation sang. The Venite, the Te Deum, and
the Benedicite were all given in cathedral fashion; and instead
of hymns there were two anthems from the Messiah —
" Comfort ye," and " Behold, I bring you good tidings "—
with the sacred song, " There is a city builded," to conclude.
There was no litany, no communion service, and only a very
short sermon—an admirable Christmas service.
I had not intended to attend it; but meeting my fellow-
countrymen streaming in, I slipped in to make one more in
this little bit of England over sea. At home I am an irregular
attendant, and it is often an effort to go ; but where English
are few I love, with a Celtic sort of clannishness, to go and
accentuate the representation of England by a humble one
more. I fully believe that I love England and think of
England more than nine-tenths of the stay-at-homes, though
I am so little on her shores.
Those who never go &ve hundred miles from London can
have no idea of the intense ardour for England that burns
in the breast of the soldier sitting in his tent in the Soudan,
or Burmah, writing a letter home, that will be despatched
he knows not when, because it is Christmas Day, and he is
thinking of the family circle, in which there is only one chair
vacant. They can with difficulty realise the feeling -that
animates the sailors on the stately ships which are away for
years together, upholding the power of England in the distant
Pacific, and the colonists who have left home, not because
they do not love it. England acquires a new significance
even for travellers, in quest of knowledge or adventures to
think over, when, on some stormy night, they draw round a
great log fire, with a generous dinner inside them and their
favourite wine at their elbow.
I wonder if many of the people at home pause to remember
how many other Englands there are scattered all over the
globe, all of them thinking of the old England to-day ?
Great Britain is bound to her children abroad as no other
country is. Not that others, such as Germany and Italy and
China, do not send their tens and hundreds of thousands
forth ; but because they send their sons to become citizens of
other nations, or aliens in foreign communities, while a large
proportion of the British go to countries perhaps ten thousand
miles away, but still flying the old flag and drinking the
health of the Island Queen. And again, whereas Germany
is only one of the Lutheran nations, and Italy only one of the
Roman Catholic nations, Great Britain has a private National
Church of her own; and wherever the Englishman's foot
rests, there will the beautiful liturgy of our Reformation be
heard, as I have been hearing it to-day in the fabulous
" Cipango " of Marco Polo, CHAPTER VI.
Tokyo, January 1st.
HE Japanese have the capital habit of
squaring all accounts by New Year's Day.
He who fails to do so, save with the
consent of his creditor, is a dishonoured
man. Consequently, those who have
been unsuccessful in business during
the year, sell almost every article in
their possession for anything it will
fetch. A million and a quarter Japanese
-most of them poor—live in Tokyo,
and to give a last chance to the
unfortunate debtor in a land where interest is perceptible
enough to be reckoned by the day, there is a great fair held
every New Year's Eve, extending about a couple of miles
along the Ginza—the main street—with a flower market in
the cross street leading from our hotel and the principal gate
of the castle to Tsukiji, the only quarter of Tokyo in which
foreigners have the right to have a house.
Pretty nearly every poor Japanese is more or less a shopkeeper, because the front of his house is thrown open to the
street during the day in fine weather, and he is willing to
sell anything he possesses, if the price pays.
Imagine every one of these who has not saved enough
money to settle his debts next day bringing as much of his
worldly goods as he can carry, in funny square boxes, slung
over his shoulders at each end of a bamboo, to be displayed
on the pavement, or rudely improvised stalls, at the fair.
We had been told that New Year's Eve and New Year's
Day were the days of all the year in Japan, and that Tokyo
was the place to see them at their best. So we came up to
Tokyo last evening, and as soon as it was dusk sallied out
into the Ginza to see the great fair. 44
Two miles of stalls—two rows on each side of the street—
brilliantly lighted with flaring and fantastic lanterns, but
themselves the most ramshackle erections of dirty boards
and flimsy cloths ! At intervals festoons of crimson lanterns
hanging slack from the street to the flagstaff of a two or
three storey tea-house (as they call the native inns), and
strings of lanterns over the sak6 kegs sewn up in matting
covered with scarlet and green fish, dragons, and other
emblems, which are piled up like a wall in front of its bottom
From every tea-house came the tinkle of samisens, or the
mouse-like voices of the geishas.
The stalls, as a rag and metal exhibition, eclipsed anything I ever saw in the Campo de' Fiore at Rome. There were
mat stalls, cushion stalls, stalls where they sold the kimonos
(wrappers) and the obis (sashes) worn by the natives, or
their queer socks with divided toes—white for wearing with
sandals, blue, studded underneath, for wearing unshod.
There were stalls for straw and rope sandals and the high
wooden clogs used in foul weather.
There were stalls where they sold the grass rope and
fringe (nawa) used for hanging along the house front for
the first week in the year, to keep evil spirits from passing
under;   and the big grass tassels with the scarlet lobster NEW YEARS EVE IN JAPAN. 45
and the gift bag; or the takara bune, the little plaited grass
ship of wealth, with the Seven Gods of Riches seated in it,
one of which devices hangs over every portal during the same
Next to this might be a booth where they sold nothing
but lantern boxes made of white card, painted in black,
with the owner's crest or device. These were really very
picturesque, and I had several times longed to hang one up
over a draught screen in our rooms, but had been deterred
by the horrible suspicion that they were used for conveying
the ashes of cremated corpses. An artist friend—Henry
Savage Landor—who had been several months in Japan and
went a-fairing with us, set my mind at rest on this point,
and I there and then purchased one, and carried it with me
all the evening, filling it gradually with such odds and ends
as inro (Japanese porte-medicines); netsuke (ornamental
button for stringing through one's sash); miniature temple
ornaments—censers, candlesticks, flower vessels: the little
pocket mirror and comb-cases carried by mesum6s in their
graceful hanging sleeves ; the fantastic hair combs and hair
pins, very old some of them, more or less battered, but of
exquisite workmanship and materials; the queerest little
china boxes, some of them only an inch across, holding the
red or black pigment used for the seals which every Japanese
carries to impress where we give a signature; the seals
themselves, generally of brass; exquisite little bronze and
silver charms; fine old brass or bronze ends for paper
lanterns ; little ivory boxes, hardly bigger or thicker than a
gentleman's visiting card, used for the vermilion with which
they brighten their lips.
The old metal and general curiosity stalls were largely in
the majority; for, besides metal proper, they dealt in inro,
netsuke, second-hand pipe-cases, hibachi (charcoal hand-
stoves), swords, and small pieces of lacquer. I even bought
some charming old pieces of (rather dirty) silk embroidery
for a shilling or eighteenpence, which would have fetched
five or ten times as much in London; and a beautiful ivory
samisen twanger, nearly eight inches long, for which I paid
the fractional value of sixpence.
" Ikura ? " (how much ?) I would ask, picking up some
charming little bit of pottery or metal work—each with its
little flaw, crack, or dent, of course. " Rokuji sen " (sixty
cents—-Jialf-a-crown), would perhaps be the answer. I would
say,  laughing,   "0  roku  sen"  (six   cents).    Next time I 46
passed they would call out, " Shijiu " (forty), and the next,
"Nijiu" (twenty), and finally, as they saw my arms getting
fuller and fuller of purchases, and feared that my purse .
would be running out, the proprietor and his wife, and any
members of their family they had about, would commence
kow-towing and smiling, hissing, and calling out, " Yoroshi,
yoroshi! Roku sen " (Good—all right! Six cents), and I
would find myself saddled with something I never thought
of buying, but of course felt bound to buy when my offer in
fun was accepted in earnest.
Now, when it is too late, I wish I had bought a hundred
dollars' worth of these fourpenny-halfpenny treasures, to
ship to England. I had taken a hundred dollars out with
me in case I saw any fine piece being sacrificed, as I was
told they sometimes were, at these fairs, by an embarrassed
trader who had put off selling till too late ; and I could easily
have spent the money, and spent it well. For every one of
these little articles—many of them in domestic use by quite
humble people—had some quaint beauty of shape or decoration or ingenuity, and I have never seen one of them in
England or America.
A pickpocket did his best to relieve me of my hundred
dollars at one fell swoop, but his ignorance of European
pockets saved me; the pocket he attempted to pick was
one of the side pockets of my covert coat, in which I never
carry anything except a pocket-handkerchief. While his
hand was in my pocket I caught him. I rather expected the
populace, who were all of the humbler classes, to sympathise
with him against a foreigner. But much as a Japanese
hates foreigners, it is nothing to his dread and loathing of
a thief. The flimsy houses, constantly thrown wide open,
are so at the mercy of thieves, that a thief, or pickpocket,
is regarded much in the same way as a horse thief is in the
Far West. I thought they would have lynched him. I don't
exactly know how he escaped.
But, like some more enlightened nations, they are more
lenient to thieving when it is done with the brains instead of
the fingers.
It was a pleasing diversion to turn from pickpockets to
watch a strolling samisen player or a masker. One could
hardly believe that one's surroundings were not a dream.
Was it possible that one saw with eyes awake that queer
old Japanese gentleman in a wide-sleeved, deep-collared
kimono of chocolate-coloured leather, stamped in white with NEW YEAR'S EVE IN JAPAN.
his device, two feet at least across;   and all these queer
coolies, in hose and doublets and hoods ?
And what of the crimson lanterns swaying in the wind,
and the tinkle and turn-turn of Oriental music falling from
the lattice of a tea-house. We plunged into a tea-house
from which came shouts of laughter that must mean something irresistibly queer to us. Out at the back, one of the
posture dancers who go about in little troupes at New
Year's tide had on a mask, and was going through a series
of antics which were supposed to travesty a Chinaman.
Nothing could have been more unlike, and the Tokyo populaco
are familiar with Chinamen, for there are plenty of them
in the Tsukiji quarter. But they were just as much amused.
The troupe received about sixpence for their performance,
and were immediately succeeded by a troupe of boys with
jolly, laughing faces, one of whom carried a banner the
shape of a couple of canister lids, the smaller on the top,
while the other two danced to the music of a flute—the 48
flute and* the drum constitute most of the music to street
entertainments in Japan.
Then we went back into the inn to listen to a samisen
player—squatting down on the edge of the raised floor so
that the mats should not be soiled by our boots. The natives
always kick off their shoes or sandals on entering a house. We
had hardly sat down before sweet little musumes brought
us the pale straw-coloured tea in tiny little cups, with metal
saucers and without handles, and trays of queer little cakes.
But it was growing late, and we had still the flower fair
to see before we returned to the hotel to spend the witching
hour, at which the old year passes into the new, in thinking
of home folks across the seas. The flower market was even
more picturesque than the fair, with its rows and rows of
blossoming plum trees, with blossoms single and double—
white, pink, deep red, or even variegated. These were
dwarfed to the size of geraniums, with every branch twisted
into queer curves, and each in a blue or white porcelain pot.
Without the plum tree in the blue pot no Japanese house,
even the very poorest, is complete at the New Year. The
educated fir trees (matsu-ji) were even more dwarfed and
highly trained, and one could buy either of these, or a
beautiful fan palm, in an artistic pot, for eighteenpence or
two shillings; and for a crown or two one of the tiny
artificial gardens, a couple of feet square, with its trained
trees, and its lake and its toy pagoda, and bridges and stone
lanterns (ishidoro).
The flower fair, like the other, was a glare of light; and
there was the same bargaining to be done, with the owner
calculating on his so-ro-ba, or counting board, every time
there was a rise or fall of a halfpenny in the offer.
Suddenly I looked at my watch. It was just on twelve.
A clock began to strike. 1 paused and shut my eyes on the
fantastic Orient, while a prayer rose to the crisp, starlit sky,
and thought flew quicker than telegrams to the old home of
which I wrote in Australia.
I fancy I can picture you upon this Christmas night,
Just sitting as you used to do, the laughter at its height.
And then a sudden silent pause intruding on your glee,
And kind eyes glistening because you chanced to think of me.
And now good-night; and I shall dream that I am with you all,
Watching the ruddy embers gleam athwart the panelled hall.
Nor caie I if I dream or not, though severed by the foam—
My heart is always in the spot which was my childhood's home. CHAPTER  VII.
Tokyo, January 5th.
WE did not get back from the fair last night till the
small hours, but we were up betimes to see Tokyo in
its great transformation scene — decorated for the
New Year.
As every one who has the smallest knowledge of things
Japanese will remember, the Japanese have a minute and
almost solemn etiquette for every operation in their existence.
It is to an article in " The Transactions of the Asiatic Society
of Japan," written by Mrs. Chaplin Ayrton (a great many years
ago), that I owe the precise composition of the decorations
given below. She says the most striking feature of New
Year's Day in Japan is the decoration placed, more or less
complete, before each portal.
Every object in this has its symbolic meaning. If the
spectator faces the green arch which this decoration forms, he
will have on his right hand the me-matsu (pinus densiflora),
with its reddish stem, and on his left the black trunk of the
o-matsu (pinus thunbergries (sic), syn. pinus massoniand).
Though pines are monoecious, fancy has ascribed to the
black-trunked tree a masculine gender, and to the lighter a
feminine. Further, these hardy trees symbolise a stalwart age
that has withstood the storms and troubles of existence.
Immediately behind rises on each side the graceful stem of
the take-no-iki (bamboo) ; of which the most convenient kind
is selected. Its erect growth and succession of knots, marking
the increase during succeeding seasons, make it a symbol of
hale life and fulness of years.
There is a distance, usually of six feet, between the
bamboos spanned by the grass rope (nawa), which though
convenience obliges it to be high enough to pass under,
should, to accord with its symbolical meaning, debar all evil
and unclean things from crossing the threshold.
In the centre of the arch thus formed of pines and
bamboos and the grass rope is a group of several objects,
most conspicuous among which is the scarlet yebi, or lobster
49 E 50
(a cray-fish, really), whose crooked body symbolises the back
of the aged bent with years. This is embowered in yusuri
In the yusuri (melia japonica) when the young leaves have
budded the old are still unshed. So may parents continue
to flourish while children and grandchildren spring forth.
In the centre also are the graceful fronds of the shida,
or urajiro (polypodium dicotomon of Thiinberg). This fern
symbolises conjugal life, because the fronds spring in pairs
from the stem. In Japan, fronds growing thus uniformly
do not suggest equality of the sexes. Between the paired
leaves nestle like offspring the little leaflets.
Here and there are gohei, the quaint scraps of paper
offered to the Shinto gods; according to some, a conventionalised representation of the human form, the offerer
devoting himself in effigy to the deities. According to others
these offerings of cut paper represent offerings of valuable
cloth—this is the most usual explanation.
Almost as conspicuous as the yebi is the orange-coloured
dai-dai (the fruit of citrus bigaradai). There is a pun implied
here, like the play upon words in English heraldry, for the
second meaning of dai-dai is generation—may the family tree
flourish. The juice of the dai-dai is prized as a specific
against vomiting, as Europeans take lemons for a preventative
against sea-sickness.
There is a pun, too, in the piece of charcoal beside the
dai-dai, for sumi (charcoal) has the second meaning of " homestead."
The honta wara, or zimbaso, a species of seaweed, is a
memorial of good fortune. For, about 200 a.d., when the
Empress Jingo-Kobo reigned, she concealed her husband's
death lest the people should be discouraged in the campaign
against Korea. Her troops encamped on the seashore were
in danger of defeat from want of fodder for their horses.
She ordered the honta wara to be gathered from the shore
for the horses, and refreshed by this meal they were victorious
in battle. At the end of the war she bore a son named
Hachiman, who, from the circumstances of his birth, became
the Japanese Mars.
Another seaweed decoration is the kobu (lam.naria sac-
charina). Here also is a pun on the verb yoro-kobi—to rejoice
or gladden.
The last decoration is the fukutso tsumi, a square of
white paper, held in by a red-and-white string (midsu shiki),
which marks a present. This is to be considered a lucky
bag, for its contents are suitable to the season, consisting of
kachi guri, roasted chestnuts ; kazu-no-ko, the roe of the
herring (nishin); kazo-no-tane, the seeds of the torreya
bucifera, used to make sweets: and kushi gaki, the fruit of
the kaki diosphyrus, dried on the stick- kushi kaki becomes
gaki in composition, as kawa (river) is changed in Sumida-
These decorations are cut down in Tokyo on January 7th,
in some places on January 3rd.
There is another decoration sometimes used—the daikoko
bune, a miniature ship of. twisted straw, laden with representations of bales of grain, bits of green, and little ornaments
of every kind. The idea of the ship is an offering of first fruits.
To bring the sleeper lucky dreams it is the custom, on
the night of January 2nd, to cover the pillow with a rude -
picture of the takara bune, or ship of riches, having the
Seven Gods of Wealth seated in it. They are Bishamon Sama,
Fuku Rokujin, Benten Sama, Jirojin Sama, Hotei Sama,
Daikoku Sama, Ebis Sama. This representation of the ship
of wealth is a very favourite subject hr Japanese art. There
is a splendid specimen in the museum of arms of Tokyo.
Down to the last sentence I have quoted Mrs. Ayrton,
1 5,2
with a few abbreviations. It was impossible for me to give
an account of the New Year's decorations so completely in so
few words.
Now that I have given an idea of their composition and
symbolism, I can go on to describe the New Year's decorations, and New Year's festivities, as we saw
them with our
own eyes. j
To start with the lobster group, to use Mrs. Ayrton s
expression, we found that she had made a most important
omission in describing the composition—the great tassel, or
knot of grass, which is the most noticeable feature. This
knot with tassel ends is a constantly recurring feature in
Japanese ornamentation, from the mortuary shrine of a
Shogun downwards.
Mrs. Ayrton is careful to use the expression, " more or
less complete," of the decorations. She was wise. I had to
walk a couple of miles along the Ginza, the main street of
Tokyo, to find a decent specimen of a lobster group to photograph. And when I found it, it needed no small generalship
to kodak it successfully. First of all I had to obtain the permission of its proud owner. I could not speak a word of
Japanese, he could not speak a word of English. I went
into his shop and bowed as if I were a nigger waiter expecting a handsome tip. He squatted. down on his hams, and
bowed until his forehead touched the beautiful white mats on
which he knelt. Then I entreated him, with a gesture, to
rise, and led him to the front of his shop, pointing at his
lobster group, and patting my faithful kodak. He didn't
understand a bit till a jinrikisha boy (the sharpest-witted men
in the coolie class) said "hasheen" (pronounced shasheen),
which means photograph. The proprietor was forthwith
wreathed in smiles at the honour about to be paid to his
"honourable" lobster group.
Then a new difficulty arose. Most Japanese shops are only
five or six feet high; this was ten or eleven, and I, who am
not much over five feet and a half, had to get my camera on a
level with the object, and within two or three feet of it, to
make the photograph sufficiently large. An idea struck me. I
threw down my note book and stick (an Englishman would
not go to his own funeral without a walking-stick if he could
help it), regardless of the fact that the strangeness of my
behaviour—from the ' Japanese standpoint, of course—had
already attracted a crowd of a few hnndred people.
I had seen a stool, intended not for a human being—the THE NEW  YEAR FESTIVAL IN JAPAN.      53
Japanese don't know how to sit—but for a red lacquer lantern
with paper sides, or slides, which stood on it. I put down
the lantern, carefully carried off my stool in triumph,
mounted it just under the lobster group, lifted my kodak
as high as I could over my head with both hands, the forefinger of my left on that button which has to be pressed for
the Eastmans to "do the rest," and snapped a shot.
The crowd were breathless with excitement, and had to be
dispersed by a policeman, four feet and a half high, before
we could get away—so like the Athenian of Biblical report
is the Japanese in his thirst for aliquid novi.
Even the English residents in Japan solemnly hang the
lobster group in the evergreen arch over their garden gate
at this season of the year, partly perhaps to flatter Japanese
sensibilities (though this isn't very English), a little perhaps
for its supposed good luck, mainly as a kind of Christmas
decoration. They put it up for Christmas Day, and not for
New Year's Day, and so do some Japanese in Yokohama.
In a few years' time they will probably shift the whole
festival to Christmas Day; the Christmas-keeping people
there, the English and Germans, being paramount in the
treaty ports. It is not very much to shift the festival from
the Western New Year's Day to Christmas Day, when it has
already been shifted from the Japanese New Year's Day to
the Western.
"What shall I do?" I asked of Abe San, the accomplished
Japanese who manages the Tokyo Hotel, and can talk and
write both English and French tolerably fluently, and buys
a new suit of clothes, modelled from the new guest's, every
time a particularly well-dressed Englishman comes to his
hotel. " What shall I do so as to see as much as possible
of the New Year's decorations and games and holiday
makers? "
" You had better drive to Asakusa. It is far. You will
have to drive right across the city to get to it, and will see
many people in their houses decorated, and in street playing.
And at Asakusa very much people and wrestling at the
temple—the Temple of Kwannon."
Jumping into rikshas, away to Asakusa we went.
For a wonder it was not one of those ideal days in which
Japanese winters deal. But in spite, of the grey London
weather, what a fairyland diorama we enjoyed as we dashed
through the Titanic gateway, over the broad moat, into the
maze of narrow streets of wooden and paper houses, hardly THE JAPS AT HOME.
higher than a tall Englishman. The grass rope, nawa, was
carried from end to end of each block, to keep out the evil
spirits; and every doorway had its New Year decorations
in honour of the gods or the national custom, and its crossed
flags in honour of the Mikado, a homage that is paid on all
public holidays.
Every doorway had at least a patch of evergreen and
these crossed banners, the red sun on the white ground—
silk crepe even for the poorest houses—mounted on lacquered
bamboo staves, with gilt balls to replace the spear head or the
eagle of Western ensigns.
Every now and then there would be a house which enjoyed
the dignity of a second storey, with the typical decorations.
Most of the houses had nothing but the flags and a poor
little lobster group. We only came across one showing the
cut bamboo (taki-no-iki) and red and black firs (me-matsu
and o-matsu) described by Mrs. Ayrton. It was a very
typical little Japanese shop, with its shoji, or inner shutters
(as in many shops, made of glass, not paper), left up because
it was a holiday. On business days, except in very bad
weather, the shop is left open to the street.
We were in imminent danger of committing manslaughter
the whole way, for the streets were simply packed with
battledore players, mostly children, in the most brilliant
costumes, who kept up the shuttlecock at distances and for
periods that appear impossible to Europeans.
Fortunately our rikshas were drawn by human horses, or
there would inevitable have been shying; as one shuttlecock
whizzed past one at a low trajectory, like a volley at lawn
tennis, and another ended a slow and lofty parabola within
an inch of one's nose, where a bat would be ready to despatch
it on its return flight.
The children blocked the   streets with   their favourite THE NEW  YEAR FESTIVAL IN JAPAN.      55
pastime, while their parents perched on the roofs wherever
they were high enough to woo the wind for kite flying; a
pastime of very uneven attractions. In the distance it is
fascinating; one see the paper falcon at a dizzy height
soaring amongst the eagles. Close to, whenever the kite is
not winding its string round your neck, it will be found
entangled in the legs of your riksha boy.
Just as we passed the castle's ramparts we came to a
yashiki, one of the great black wooden kraals with its four
sides formed by the strongly barricaded outer walls of the
barracks of the clansmen, and an open space in the centre
surrounding the town mansion of the daimio, or clan chief.
Neither clan nor clan chief lives in them now; but the great
daimio under the Tokugawa dynasty spent half the year in
Tokyo, garrisoned by a whole army of feudal retainers.
These yashikis have mostly fallen from their high estate, and
become barracks for Imperial troops or tenement houses for
the poor. JK
When we were passing one of the latter, outside the great
torii-shaped gateway of massive black timber, two sweet
little mites were playing another of the great New Year's
games, which to the unallegorising Anglo-Saxon is simply
bouncing ball; but it means no end to the Japanese.
According to Mrs. Ayrton :—
" These ball are made, not of india-rubber, but of paper
and wadding symmetrically wound round about with thread
or silk of various colours. The children sing all the time
they keep up the bouncing, and the most popular song for
this is a play upon the numbers. Here is an example,, in
" Hi-hi mixo-yo yoshida no
Katasumi oroshite, kiri ni rizande
Tamoto ye irein, tamoto ga nureru.
Sambon ye noki ni, sudzjme ga samba
Tomatto-ichi-wa-no sudzume ga
Hato ni owarete-are gay chin chin.
Kose ya p6 pd-madzu ikkankashima shita.
And here is one translated by a Japanese lady, which Mrs.
Ayrton believes, from the sudden transition near the end, to
be imperfect:—
" See opposite, see Shinkawa, a very beautiful lady, who
is one of the daughters of a chief magistrate of the Oda-
wara-cho.    She was married to a salt merchant.    He was a 56
man fond of display, and he thought how he would dress her .
this year. He said to the dyer, ' Please dye this kinran and
donsu, and the purple for the middle dress, into seven or eight
fold dresses.' And the dyer said, l I am a dyer, and therefore
I will dye and stretch it. What pattern do you wish ?' Either
the dyer or the merchant gives the reply: ' The pattern of the
falling snow and broken twigs, and in the centre the curved
bridge Go-Jo.' * Crossing or not crossing the bridge,' chokin
chokera kokin kokera." (Note by the Japanese translator.—
" These words are inserted to fill up, and have no known
meaning.") "The girl was struck here, and there, and the teahouse girls laughed. Put out of countenance by this ridicule,
she drowned herself in the Karasgawa. The corpse sank, the
hair floated. How full of grief was the husband's heart!
Now the ball counts one hundred."
Sometimes the game consists simply in counting how
many one can keep up. In counting, however, there is a
regular game credit and debit, as shown in the appended
First Turn.
A keeps up 100.
A's Account. B's Account.
A lends B100.
A- pays back to B. |        B lends A.
Second Turn.
B keeps up 60 bounds.
B pays back
60, and still
owes A 40.
debt    of   40
makes 70 lent
by A to B.)
.   Third Turn.
A keeps up 30 bounds.
Fourth Turn.
B keeps up 100 bounds.
|     B lends A aO.
Bpaysback 70
Fifth Turn.
A keeps up 20 bounds.
IA pays back to B 20 |     B lends A 10.
and so on.
The boys seem to go in more for kite flying, the girls for
battledore or ball. The kites are made of Japanese paper,
thin and strong, on very light bamboo frames. In. this
season of prevalent winds they fly very easily, and a light
humming noise is produced by a piece of whalebone attached
to the kite, and set in rapid vibration by the wind.
The girls introduce more of the solemn ceremony, which
the Japanese delight to impart into the " trivial round, the
common task," in their games than the boys do.
Says Mrs. Ayrton : " Girls, dressed in their best, hoarded
through December, or better still in new clothes with gay
battledores, made usually of kiri wood (paulonia imperialis),
strike briskly the airy little shuttlecock made of the black
seed of the muku (homioceltis aspera), winged and decorated,
and sing:—
" Hito go ni futa go Mi watashi yo me go
Itsu yoni rnuashi, nan go yakushi.
Kokono ya ja to yo.
Hito ri no wusume wo futari shite
Mirutabi, yorutabi, itsu shika mudzu kashi
Nan no yakushi, kokono yo Torasho."
Both songs are rhymes of numbers up to ten.
In the middle of all this kite flying and ball playing and
battledoring, we would come across a couple of Japanese of
the humblest stations, say two small shopkeepers, whose
whole stock in trade did not amount to a guinea apiece,
friends meeting for the first time in the New Year. They
would be repeating the orthodox New Year greeting, probably : " Shin nen nogo shiogo, wo moshi agamas," and
bowing to each other for about five minutes, accurately
observing the etiquette of bowing to an equal, a superior, or
an inferior as the case may be.
There are degrees even in penury, and I have seen a child
of two years go through a lesson of the whole category of
genuflexions in a humble curio shop where the profits could
not have exceeded a shilling a day.
With each bob of the head of these ceremonious friends,
there would be the corresponding elevation of the Mother
Gamp European umbrella, which every Japanese who has a
dollar in the world hugs whene'er he takes his walks abroad.
New Year's Day is the universal visiting day. The
Mikado receives the great officers of state, and his subjects
receive and call upon their whole acquaintance.    How they li
manage it puzzled me, but I suppose that the Japs mark
upon their name-paper (visiting cards are actually made of
paper unless the owner affects Europeanism; and they are
used as universally as the ginghams) the hour at which they
will be at home on New Year's Day, as our hostesses mark
their day at home, unless it happens to be Sunday.
With the visit they generally combine the presentation of
the seibo, which ought to have been brought the day before,
and was, until etiquette became trodden down at the heel
by the imitation of European slipshoddiness. Among the
poorer classes the usual seibo seems to be a Hakodate salmon,
squashed flat in the process of salting and packing, or a
blue cotton towel, such as the riksha boys twist round their
heads. So prevalent are these particular forms of the seibo,
that the stationers keep a line of gaily printed wrappers,
something like our newspaper wrappers, for the specific
The most fascinating part about the seibo to me was the
red-and-white twine, stiffened with rice paste, and tied with
marvellous neatness into the inevitable tassel knot, with its
little kite of red, white, or gold paper, explained above.
This idea of a trade-mark for presents might be adopted
with-advantage in countries that call themselves more civilised.
The landlord of a house I took in Devonshire used to send me
more butter than I could eat every week, and at the end of the
term charged it all to me, at more than I should have had to
pay for it at the dearest butterman's in Plymouth. He always
spoke of it as a compliment.
I was very much amused with one great official on his way
to call on the Mikado. His horse was shying, and he was
only accustomed to human horses.
As we drew nearer and nearer to Asakusa the plot thickened,
the streets becoming crowded with Japanese riding in double
rikshas (the more extravagant habit »f having only one rider
to each poor two-legged beast of burden being almost abandoned to foreigners). Sometimes the duet would be a
respectable old Jap and his wife, more often a geisha (singing
girl) with her chaperon or cavalier, the latter apt to be flushed
with sake\
The crowds of geishas made the street very picturesque
with their delicate rainbow-hued silks; elaborately dressed,
flower-studded hair, whitened faces and vermilioned lips.
And so did the inns, with their festoons of crimson lanterns
swinging in the breeze, and their piles of great sak6 kegs, THE NEW  YEAR FESTIVAL IN JAPAN.
each sewn up in matting, garish with a scarlet or green fish
or dragon.
Anon there would be a mighty shouting, or a joyous
singing, as, drawn by the patient ox, or a score or two of
impatient coolies, rolled past the triumphal car taking home
the rice—the Japanese harvest-homing. Well might they
rejoice who were able to take it home in this lean year, when
rice was up to ten yen the kobu, instead of four or five.
There was a great variety in the processions. All had
their array of coolies in brand new head kerchiefs and dresses
of dark blue cotton, stamped mostly on the broad of their
backs with their master's crest in red or white, or both. One
lot was powdered all over with white moons, and another
looked like living Catherine wheels.
When the services of an ox—I should have written bull—
wera required, the car was generally an elaborate affair, reminding one of the allegorical displays of the German brewers
at an American Centennial. I took a picture of one that was
higher than the highest houses it passed, culminating in a
huge sun a dozen feet in diameter, made of crimson velvet,
with a heavy gold fringe festooned across it, and gilt rays at
least another dozen feet long springing from it. Round its
base was a tangle of draperies and fans and foliage, blended
with the unerring felicity of taste possessed by even the
humblest Japanese; and on a kind of balcony in front,
and on the piled-up rice bales behind, were a swarm of
masqueraders, a bevy of girls, and a kind of king, most of them
with some feckless musical instrument. They had, unfortunately, jumped down before I got sun enough to get a picture.
More in the spirit of old Japan perhaps is the hand car.
I photographed a little one drawn by half a dozen coolies,
and with no ornament on its rice bales but tall swaying
bamboos, the tallest with a long white banner streaming in
the wind and a crimson lantern firmly fixed on its head, the
others, with lanterns gracefully suspended, nodding like bluebells, and a plentiful supply of coloured cloths, sake jars, and
bamboo branches. There was much music and much sake at
work in all of them.
By this time we had crossed the fine iron bridge built by
the Japanese themselves across the Sumida-gawa—the broad
river-parent of innumerable canals and moats, which make
Tokyo the Venice of the East—and were in the suburb of
Asakusa ; more abandoned to the haunts of pleasure than any
spot in the city. iij
1 i I
Soon we crossed a broad street and found ourselves among
thousands of rikshas at the end of a lane, densely packed
with the funniest little Japanese women in their most
brilliant dresses, and bordered on each side by rows of white
wooden booths, and a perfect avenue of gigantic cut bamboos
with the foliage left on them. These were interspersed with
endless banners, crossed over the gateways and drooped from
the house fronts like the pennons in the Chapel of the Garter.
At the entrance of the fair we were obliged to leave our
rikshas. We followed three sweet little girls, perfect pictures,
with their soft grey kimonos and bare flower-brightened
heads, up the narrow lane between the booths, which were
filled with the ordinary gimcracks of a Japanese fair—
toys, such as kites, battledores, shuttlecocks, dragon heads
for the kagura dance, firemen's hooks and standards, flags
and dolls; female fripperies, such as lacquer combs, gay
hairpins, and ladies' satchels, pipe-cases, mirrors, trumpery
lacquer articles, cakes, and candies. The wares exposed
were awful rubbish; and we were glad to elbow our way
through to the great temple, which is the heart of all this
holiday making, casting a glimpse to our right at the five-
storey scarlet pagoda.
The open space outside was full of the Japanese Christmas trees, or perhaps I ought to say New Year's trees—a
handful of long tapering branches fastened together at their
bottoms, and so tapering that the paper toys and sweetmeats
hung on them made them bend and quiver like a fishing-rod
with a black bass attached.
Space forbids my describing here in detail the vast scarlet
temple and gateway. The latter was as high as the temple
itself, with lanterns hanging in its arch as large as the
ordinary Japanese house, and the inevitable " Two Kings 1
(Ni-O) in their wire rabbit hutches, stuck all over with
pellets of chewed paper.
As we passed from the great sam-mon of the temple, we
noticed an elaborate washing-place and a huge hoarding, with
the little white wood notice boards, to remind the gods of the
prayers or benefactions of the faithful.
On entering the temple it was not long before we recognised the fact that there were sacred chickens. There were
also images in profusion, and not a few stalls where priests
sold cheap prints and pictures of the special incarnation of
Buddha worshipped here (Kwannon Sama, the Goddess of
Mercy, is tutelary of the temple). THE NEW YEAR FESTIVAL IN JAPAN.     01
1 contributed to the support of the institution by spending
two sen and a half—about a penny-^and then turned my
attention to the faithful, who were endeavouring to insure
attention from a different quarter by clapping their hands
to show that they were going to begin to pray; and, as a
preliminary, throwing a few rin (decimal fractions of a halfpenny) into the huge grated bath which is there to swallow
offerings. We were not the only mere sight-seers, there were
plenty of Japanese to keep us company; for the country
has a duality of religions, and a plurality of inhabitants who
don't "take any stock" in either.
Taro, my riksha-boy, who could speak quite a good deal
of English, and was pretty well posted in the legends and
superstitions, as well as the sights of Tokyo, had left his
riksha and his hat (a solar topee, though the thermometer was
well down in the " forties "), and the Red Indian's blanket
which every riksha-boy carries to cover the knees of his
patrons, with his mates, and skipped in after us to play his
favourite role of interpreter, and enjoy the holiday himself at
the same time. On the strength of his erudition he always
treats himself better than his mates. The explanations he
made to us were so absurd that he evidently knew nothing
about it. This was a Buddhist temple : he must be a Shinto-
ist.    He was not high enough class to be a sceptic.
From the temple he led the way to the Zoological Gardens
mixed up with it, in the centre of which stands the famous
cock-tower. But the tour de force is a Corean tiger, for the
Zoological Gardens consist to a great extent of tortured fir
trees in porcelain pots. Zoological is not a wide enough
scientific term to describe this precious collection. There
are, however, two bears from the big northern island of the
Japanese group, Yesso, and a number of the storks (alive)
which play such an important part in the decoration of the
trash exported from Japan, but which, so far, we had never
seen in Japan.
I could.not help thinking what a pretty ornament they
would make to the botanical gardens at Melbourne, where
they are very fond of acclimatising water-fowl, and where
these birds would thrive. 'Possums might be sent in return.
Their fur would be valuable here, and the Japanese would eat
them—sharks and swordfish are quite a staple article of diet.
Would we go up the cock-tower ? Taro asks.
"Must we take our shoes off?" Then we wouldn't,
though the view is fine.    We preferred to keep on our boots, 62
and hastened past an artist, emulating in the dust of Tokyo
the men who pastel the pavements in London, to the mountebank dentist.
Talking of the men who make those fearful and wonderful
pictures with a few bold strokes of a stumpy chalk, and a few
seconds' rubbing with the fingers, one recalls inevitably that
one who used to take up his position outside Sir John
Millais's huge house in South Kensington, and underneath
his pictures write: " My rich brother lives in there, while I
have not enough to eat." He referred, I believe, to brotherhood in art.
Here in Asakusa there was also a woman who dashed off
her pastels with equal skill on paper, choosing her subjects
principally from the mythological characters connected with
this temple. She retailed her works at rather less than three-
halfpence each. I bought five of them—a couple of disreputable looking demi-gods, and three landscapes. These last
included a Japanese eagle sitting on a snowy tree, another
flying round a snowy Fujiyama, and a picture of a gigantic
red peony in a littly straw case buried in the snow. The lady
artist's genius had evidently had a wintry experience, not to
say reception.
The dentist was magnificent. Drawing an enormous two-
handed sword he approached his first patient, a little boy with
a mouth of teeth like a barrel with the hoops knocked oft.
He swung his mighty sword.     The boy cowered and
shrieked.    And then  Everybody knows the easy transi:
tion by the accomplished quack from the marvellous to the
microscopic in remedies.
" But are there not any jugglers ? " I asked disappointedly
of Taro.
" Jogler? Oh yes," he replied; and led the way to a
row of booths, surrounded by open-mouthed Japanese.
The first had five rin—a depreciated farthing—printed
outside in large figures. But when I came to pay, I was
told that the board only referred to children, which was a
lie, and I knew it; but I paid three-farthings all the same
for myself and my wife and the riksha man, who followed
in uninvited, and then said I must pay because he had no
The juggling consisted only of a small electric machine;
and the simple switching of the current on and off elicited
continuous applause.
However, we felt "had," and moved on past some wax- THE NEW YEAR FESTIVAL IN JAPAN.     63
works exhibiting daimio (feudal barons) in their pre-revolution
costumes, and Ainu (aborigines of the northern island) in
their native dress, to a booth which had on its signboard
a tremendous fire-breathing sea serpent, usurping a whole
gulf, while a crowd of terrified Japanese stood on a cliff firing
engines of war. at it. This wormed another three-farthings
apiece out of me, and we went in to see only a cub seal about
a foot long, which went through a lot of tame-monkey tricks.
This kind of thing, varied with an occasional theatre, went
on to the end of the chapter.
At the end of the chapter came the pride of Asakusa, the
miniature Fujiyama, 110 feet high, constructed of lath and
pasteboard and plaster—a tower in the shape of the conventionalised mountains of Japanese pictures, commanding
a view of the whole fair, and much of the great city behind.
Like the campanile of St. Mark's, it is ascended by an inclined walk. We walked up its shaky planks, and didn't
find it very much fun, though on a normal winter day we
should have seen the real Fuji, the Parthenon of mountains,
soaring fifty miles away. All we did see from the top was
the queerest olla podrida of grown-up children, who sent up
the tinkle and tum-tum of Oriental music, and the shuffle
of myriad clogs.
We were very much more amused by the fate of the man
who attempted to pick my pocket, and was detected (wonderful to relate) by a detective. He was a very ingeniously
got-up crook, in the costume of a Japanese student—native
breeches, a sad-coloured kimono, octogenarian European
shoes, and a grey " boxer " hat.    He also wore spectacles.
The first intimation I had of his design was to see what
looked like an elderly artisan, out for a holiday, rush at him,
and begin boxing his ears so violently that his spectacles
were knocked off, and his face was whipped scarlet. Then
he dragged him up to me and put his own hand half into
my pocket to intimate what had happened. I made signs,
after feeling my pockets, that I had lost nothing. But that
did not seem to signify; all the way to the police station he
was shaking the poor thief by the Collar, and boxing his
ears. The Japanese are a nation of children, and their own
authorities treat them like naughty children.
I lost sight of him as I turned round to listen to a
Japanese street band ; one of the little groups who go round
soliciting contributions for a great temple at Kyoto—a man
with a drum, a woman with a gong, and a boy with a sort 64
of flute. I brought my kodak to bear upon them, but quick
as lightning the old man, who was terrified at the evil eye
of the lens, covered his face with his drum-sticks (not slang
for legs). So I photographed him with his eyes darkened by
And then we passed from a whole street of performances
to a whole street of shops and stalls. Tea-houses and sake
shops were in abundance. They invade even the sacred
precincts of the Zoological Gardens, which are as jealously
guarded as any thief in Tokyo. The cheap curio stalls
principally devoted to pipe-eases, which we have christened
bag-o'-trick stalls, predominated; surrounded by worsted
dealers, sellers of " serop," cotton-wool tortoises, Japanese
Christmas trees, and a conjurer, from whose tent was interpreted by Japanese musical instruments that ancient melody,
" Oh quefaime les militaires."
This brought us to the famous rope bridge over the lotus
pond, quite a long bridge, constructed of pliant bamboo and
rope, like the swinging bridges of the Incas, made immortal
in the pages of Prescott. Miss Aroostook, with her usual
pluck, volunteered to be photographed on the middle of it;
and some Japanese hobbledehoys, keeping at a safe distance
from my cane, were ungallant enough to run on it and shake
it violently, in the hope of shaking her into the lake, or at
least frightening her into hysterics. But they failed in their
amiable object.
And then, much to Taro's (eldest son's) disgust, we had to
take leave of Asakusa Park, with its pagoda and its famous
temple and its holiday crowds. For at dusk my publisher was
tendering us a banquet at the famous Ko-yo-kwan, known to
Europeans as the Maple Club, the leading native club in
Tokyo, to which all the most prominent Japanese belong, the
club-house being the most exquisite tea-house in the country.
We made a poor start for our return journey. Directly
we were outside the gates we found our riksha-boy, the
historical Taro, wringing his hands and yelling. His mate,
his riksha, his blanket, and his hat had all disappeared.
But at length the missing properties were found at a neighbouring tea-house, and the sun shone through the clouds again.
It was slow travelling, going as fast as we could, through
the streets packed with soldiers, wearing " holiday" on their
countenances, children one mass of sores, the queer little Jap
omnibuses, looking like miniature police-vans, or the carts in
which butchers take meat from the shambles, and riskshas ""*■
carrying Japanese dudes in marvellously swell clothes, and
silk hats seedier than a Q.C.'s.
At one point in the road we were blocked by a crowd which
had collected round a mountebank, whose whole stock in trade
was a battered silk hat. This and his gestures seemed to
cause uncontrollable amusement to the Japs. He certainly
was a merry-looking Andrew.
We drove home along the Thames Embankment of Tokyo,
that city of muddy creeks and canals. It was almost deserted,
though we did meet an old man, that rara avis in Japan,
where the old are quiet and stay at home. They seem to
dread an exposure of their feebleness as much as a donkey
dreads the exposure of his corpse.
On we dashed, past high stockades and gabled white houses,
with the black monograms standing out on their gables even
in this dusky light, and past a little street temple into leagues
of streets which were a forest of bamboo leaves and flags;
looking, oh ! so picturesque in the gloaming.
Our noses were taken up with the disgusting smell of the
sesame oil with which the evening meals were being cooked,
and our eyes with the lantern lighting. One old Japanese was
climbing up a ladder to light a lamp which could not have
been more than six feet from the ground, while a more intelligent neighbour was lighting his, twenty feet from the ground,
with the aid of an ingenious pulley arrangement.
What glimpses of fairyland we had that evening! First
there came the newly lighted streets, with their rush candles
glimmering through paper shoji (shutters) and fantastic
swinging lanterns ; the queer, heavily gabled go-downs and
yashiki looming through the deepening dusk, like the architecture run wild in the backgrounds of Albrecht Diirer or
Gentile de' Fabriano.
Then came the grim castle, with its Titanic walls and
broad moats thrown into relief by the rising moon. How
quaint the gnarled fir trees that grew on the top of the walls
looked! We had paused a minute just outside to meet our
host, at a house with an evergreen arch of the European
pattern picked out with camellia blossoms and festooned with
mandarin oranges.
And now we wheeled suddenly across one of these moats,
and found ourselves once more among the long low yashiki,
like so many huge kraals built in mediaeval wood and plaster,
enterable only by the heavy timber gates, shaped like the torii
of the Shinto temples.    Now, alas! they are stripped of their 66 THE JAPS AT  HOME.
glory. The king-making daimio of the Warwick pattern,
with his army of feudal retainers, is a thing of the past,
converted into a noble with an English or French title, or a
nobody stripped of everything, according to the side he took
in the Revolution. Some of the yashiki have sunk so low as
to be turned into tenement houses for the poor, like the one
opposite our hotel.
Just now we only cut off a corner of the castle, which fills
up most of the heart of the city—in at one gate and out at
the next, flying past the barracks that were once the daimio
of Nagasaki's yashiki, and across the great drill ground to the
long winding street that leads past Arashiyama, with its
breakneck steps, to Shiba, the garden of Tokyo.
By this time the dusk had deepened into dark, and the
riksha-boys had lighted the little papers lanterns they grip
against one of the shafts. The whole broad drill ground was
a kaleidoscope of dancing lights, thrown on little wheels that
looked like spiders' webs as they spun round in the glare.
And as we neared Shiba, the rikshas made a regular
procession of fairy lights, winding through the avenues of tall
cryptomerias that stood out like needles in the crisp winter
At last we drew up at the Ko-yo-kwan, and disbooted
before walking up the glossy maple stairs on to the spotless
white mats of the banqueting floor.
I have described before a Maple Club banquet, with its
endless unheard-of dishes, from live fish downwards—offered
to us, sitting like Turks on piles of cushions, by the sweetest
little musumes, squatting on their hams, to the light of sorry
candles on tall candlesticks set, like ourselves, on the floor.
So I must not more than mention the music and dancing
which our host had ordered to enliven the banquet. The
finest female dancers in Japan danced before us in exquisitely
rich and beautiful robes, with the maple for the theme of
their decoration ; while beautiful women played the biwa, and
koto, and samisen, and sang the story the others were setting
forth in dumb show. At last the banquet, with its endless
dishes and endless relays of tea and sak6, came to an end;
and then the jiu roku musashi, and sugo roku, and other
games with which the Japanese beguile an evening at the
club, were played for our benefit, that we might miss nothing.
Mrs. Ayrton describes them much better than I could after
a single view:—
" For bad weather, or for people too old for active sport, THE NEW YEAR FESTIVAL IN JAPAN.     67
there are games such as the jiu roku musashi—a board
divided into squares and diagonals, on which move sixteen
pieces for one player, and one large piece for the other. The
points of the game is for the sixteen pieces to hedge in the
large piece so that it cannot move, or for the large to take all
the sixteen. A capture can only be made when the large piece
finds a piece immediately on each side of it and a blank point
" Sugo roku is entirely a game of chance, a sheet of
pictures. Educational pictures are the present fashion, but
the oldest form of sugo roku is dochiu sugo roku, and is the
journey between Kyoto and Tokyo.
" Players write names on slips of paper or some other
suitable substance, throw a die in turn, and place on the
pictures the number corresponding to the throw. In the
next round, if the number you throw is written on the
picture, you find directions as to which picture you should
move forward or back to. But you may throw a blank and
have to stay in your place. Winning consists in reaching a
certain picture.
Other games are:—Making verses (something like our
own paper games); simple lotteries (fuku biki) for various
objects; card playing (karuta)."
We had an equivalent for the fuku biki, by being presented, each of us, with one of the choice books published by
Hakubunsha (of which our host was the president) for the
European market. All were exquisitely bound in delicate
sandal-wood-coloured silk. One had a book of flowers,
another of birds, drawn and coloured with the fidelity which
only fails the Japanese when they depict beasts and foreigners,
and I myself received a charming book, similarly illustrated,
on children's sports.
And then we booted, and were bowed out by our pretty
musume waitresses, who, as on the previous occasion, handed
each of us as we stepped into our rikshas a little pile of
wooden boxes in which every scrap we had left of the dishes
placed before us was scrupulously packed.
When the Japanese orders a banquet, he carries away all
he cannot eat on the spot to gormandise at his leisure.
'Our host insisted on seeing us safe home to the hotel.
The hour was late, but the procession of fairy lights passing
us was not perceptively smaller, and from every tea-house
came the tinkling twang of the toki-wona, the strolling female
samisen player. 68
When he bade us sayonara at our threshold, he invited
us to come and visit him on January 4th, so that we might
see his motchi, and go out into the streets with him to watch
the parade of firemen which takes place every 3rd or 4th of
January, and see the kagura and character dances and other
holiday-time street sights.
The motchi, according to Mrs. Ayrton, are:—
"A little New Year pile of two or more, usually three,
round rice flour cakes, piled one on the top of the other, and
placed in a most conspicuous position on a lacquer stand.
It is partly for ornament, in which capacity it serves till
January 11th, when it is eaten.
" At the close of the old year there are plenty in the
shops. It is also made by little parties of three men who
go about the streets for hire, carrying a bottomless tub, with
matting to replace the bottom, slung on a pole between two
of the men. The third has the heavy wallet for the prolonged striking of the paste with heavy thuds. To prevent
rebound, the sticky mass is placed on the soft matting in
the bottom of the tub. This man also carries the board
used as the pastry board for making up the well-beaten
We called upon our late host in the morning, and had to
clamber up the usual companion ladder without a handrail, which takes the place of a staircase in the native houses.
It was quite a large house, and we were shown into a
dehghtfully sunny room without anything in it but the
snowy mats on the floor; a kakemono or two, and a few
vases of flowers in the tokonama and chigaidana (the
recesses of the guest chamber) ; a very plain screen, some
floor cushions and a hibachi (charcoal stove) to each. But
near the window, in the sunniest spot, were three stately
snow-white motchi on a scarlet lacquer stand, with a vase
of flowers in front of them, as if they were part of the
ancestor worship which, combined with loyalty to the Mikado,
forms the Shinto creed. These cakes do, I believe, have a
solemn family significance.
We were offered pipes, such as our host kept filling and
puffing through in two or three whiffs, and refilling, the
pipless Japanese mandarin oranges, confectionery, candies,
and the inevitable tea, which was handed in steaming relays
about every five minutes.
A very brief inspection of the motchi sufficed. But
Japanese  ceremoniousness did  not allow our leaving the THE NEW YEAR FESTIVAL IN JAPAN.      69
house till we were afraid we should miss either the fire
parade or lunch—I mean tiffin.
We had no difficulty in finding our firemen, the Ginza
being the favourite rendezvous, and the great mattoi, or paper
standard, conspicuous a mile off. It is " trooping " the new
mattoi which inspires these going-out days (de some no shi)
of the fire brigades on the 3rd and 4th of January every
Mrs. Ayrton says there are fifty of these brigades in Tokyo,
and that each has from fifty to seventy men. She says: " Tr e
men rally at an appointed place to carry off their new
standard (mattoi), ladders, lanterns, etc. This procession
pauses at intervals, when the men steady the ladder (in a
perpendicular position) with their long fire hooks, while an
agile member of the band mounts it and performs gymnastics
at the top. His performance concluded, he dismounts and
the march is continued, the men yelling at the highest pitch
of their voices."
As the said gymnastics consist mainly of standing on
one's head at the top of the ladder, and stretching out stiff
at right angles with it, we were forced, after seeing it, to the
conclusion that either all Japanese firemen were Japanese
acrobats such as we had seen performing at the Aquarium, or
that all the acrobats were firemen. It must be added that even
when they go to a fire they take this black-and-white paper
mattoi and their paper lanterns with them. But they generally
stand at a safe distance.
As we were returning to our hotel, in one of the narrow
streets between the Ginza and the moat we came upon a little
troupe performing the ancient kagura dance, of which Mrs.
Ayrton says:—
" They are often called in to amuse the spectators by the
quaint animal-like movements of the draped figure, who wears
a huge grotesque scarlet or green mask—a sort of cross between a lion's head and a dragon's—on his head. At times he
makes this monster appear to lengthen and retreat his neck,
by an unseen change in the position of the mask from the
head to the gradually extended and draped hand of the actor,
the beat of a drum and the whistle of a bamboo flute forming
the accompaniment to the dumb-show acting."
I managed to get a most successful kodak of ^ the performance, which illustrated Mrs. Ayrton's description as
closely as if I had employed an artist to draw an illustration
for the purpose ; and I was equally successful a few minutes 70
afterwards in the broad, open, sunny square, just inside the
castle gate where our friend of the tea-house troupe last night
was caricaturing Chinamen. As I levelled my kodak, the
actor, who was secretly delighted, danced toward me with,
simulated threatening gestures, changing into a radiance of
smiles for one halfpenny sterling.
I have given a good many quotations from Mrs. Ayrton's
article, but it is impossible for a stranger, after one day's
experience, to make either head or tail of a Japanese performance. CHAPTER VIII.
Tokyo, January Sth.
THERE may be an American fire engine in Tokyo—I
never saw one, and if anybody wants what the Yankee
calls " a high-toned contrast" he cannot do better than
drop into the fire station at the back of the Grand Hotel, San
Francisco, the day before he sails for Japan (at 12 o'clock
sharp), to see the men slide down the pole from the bedroom,
and the horses harness themselves inside of a few seconds;
and then, when he gets to Tokyo, go to the first good fire.
They have first-class fires in Japan. ,While we ourselves
were in Tokyo there was a fire at Asakusa, one of the suburbs,
which swept off fourteen hundred houses in one night.
The houses at Asakusa, it is true, since they are inhabited
almost entirely by the poorer classes, do not amount to much.
A ten-pound note would buy a good many of them, ground
and all. They are merely wooden frames, with sides made of
paper shutters (shoji), and wooden outside shutters to put up
at night or in very rainy weather. The roofs are covered
with the heavy channelled tiles in use all over Japan. It is
almost impossible to take these fires seriously. As nearly all
the houses are one-storeyed, and so flimsy that you can kick
your way through them, a person can hardly be burnt unless
he is asleep. But a two-storeyed house fire gives most fun, for
it is here that the bamboo ladder and the Swiss milking pail
come into play.
Every Japanese fire brigade conducted upon national
principles has one or more ladders made of green bamboo,
with their rungs lashed on—and the lashings very likely of
paper twine.
These are used for acrobatic displays at the New Year
festival in the way described in the last chapter, and for fires.
In the latter, if the fire is not too dangerous to be tackled, the
ladder is propped up against the roof ; one man mounting it
stands on the roof, and one or two more stand at arm's-reach
intervals on the ladder. Half a dozen others bring them
buckets* which look like Swiss milking pails, and hold about
a gallon of water each; these are passed up and emptied by
This, however, does not, as might have been supposed
from a study of the Japanese, constitute the whole fire-subduing apparatus. There is a native fire-engine (a water
kago), looking like a water trough fitted with a lid, and staves
for carrying it like those used (in pictures) for the Ark of the
Covenant. It would go inside the average Saratoga trunk,
and is fitted with a bamboo pipe and nozzle through which
water can be squirted, but without the power or the volume of
a garden hydropult.
A man runs in front of this kago, ringing a bell or blowing
a horn, because the population are not supposed to be able to
take care of themselves in the matter of being run over. It
is usually escorted by a number of firemen with fire-axes,
which are bamboos about six feet long, with a little pick or
hook for a head. The fierceness with which the Japanese can
contest the flames may be gathered from the fact that they
wear cotton dresses and carry paper lanterns. They also
carry a huge paper standard to every fire, shaped like an
orange, about a foot and a half in diameter, with paper fringe
a foot long, stuck on the end of a six-foot pole. This is
planted at a respectful distance from the fire, and the firemen
generally stand by it till the fire has burnt itself into reasonableness. It is white, and has the crest of the guild painted
upon it in black.
The fire station is like any other Japanese house of the
poorer sort, except for its look-out, which is a tall pole,
ascended by a bamboo ladder, with a sort of cask at the top
for the watchman to stand in, and a big alarm bell for him
to ring; or very often it will be only a tall ladder planted
firmly at the bottom and rising perpendicularly into the air,
with a bell hung at the top.
Henry Savage Landor, the artist, grandson of Walter
Savage Landor the poet (who, since this chapter was first
written, has returned from four years' wanderings in Canada
and the United States, Japan, China, Corea, and Mongolia,
and has himself published a book on his experiences among
the Ainu of Yesso and the Kuriles), had a risky adventure
with the Japanese firemen.
Mr. Landor is an ardent " realist; " he will expose himself
to any danger or privation to secure subjects not previously JAPANESE FIREMEN. 73
handled by artists. He had himself shaved from head to foot
before he took his famous 2,800-mile journey among the
vermin-covered Ainu, for he made up his mind from the first
to live right amongst them and sketch their life from inner
knowledge. And he had his head broken by the New York
police for his ardour on behalf of the London Graphic at
Centennial time.
He was staying at Ozaka, the Liverpool of Japan, at the
Jiyutei Hotel, which pretends to be on the European plan,
when he was roused by the landlord, who told him, in very
broken English, that the neighbouring houses were on fire,
and that no one ever knew where a Japanese fire would stop.
Mr. Landor did not require this enticement, but leaped into
his clothes to impressionise for his sketch book a real Japanese
fire. He got there before the firemen, and busied himself with
sketching the frightened people pouring out of their houses,
carrying all their worldly possessions on their backs. One of
the houses must have belonged to an old samurai, or fallen
daimio, for there was a woman hurrying along with the two
fighting swords, once the insignia of gentle birth, and a tea-
chest-shaped box of armour, such as had gone out of use with
the Revolution of '68, more than twenty years before. While,
close by, a couple of coolies were carrying, strung on a pole,
one of the beautiful black lacquer chests, ornamented with
gilt brass, used by the daimio for clothes or armour.
The common people were for the most part carrying their
possessions, tied up in the large blue or green cloths used by
tradesmen for bearing their wares to their customers; and
one couple were carrying a huge three-leaved screen, to which,
perhaps, they attached a great value, though it also served
as a stretcher for carrying the rest of the contents of their
Presently the firemen came along, with an excited chatter
that could be heard a quarter of a mile off. In front came
the paper standard, and behind, a bristling array of paper
lanterns on poles, bamboo ladders, and fire axes. The houses
by this time were burning so fiercely that the doughty firemen
were afraid to tackle them; so Mr. Landor, sketch book in
hand, seized a ladder, and propping it against the nearest
two-storeyed house, mounted the roof to show the man example,
and in a moment was sketching away vigorously to take down
the bizarre spectacle.
In his Archimedean enthusiasm he did not notice that the
Japanese fireman had become alarmed for the safety of their 74 THE JAPS AT HOME.
ladder and carried it off. He was brought back to considerations mundane by the tiles proving too hot to sit upon. He
yelled to the Japanese to bring the ladder back, but none of
them had the pluck; so, as the flames were beginning to
break through the roof, he had to jump from the top of a two-
storeyed house, and of course received a severe shaking, but
fortunately broke no bones.
The firemen's great day out is on the fourth day of the
New Year festival, when they go in procession through the
principal streets of Tokyo, especially the Ginza—the main
Each guild goes about separately, with its paper banner
in front, and its coolies in new dresses of dark blue cotton,
the tunic with a marvellous red or white design on the back
(the guild badge), and the tight-fitting hose I have so often
described. At intervals they halt, rear one of their tall green
bamboo ladders perpendicularly in the air, and, crowding
round, help to hold it up or steady it with their fire axes.
Then they ascend in turn, and acrobatise on the top. The
performer will one minute be standing on his head on the
top of one of the uprights of the perpendicular ladder, and
the next be supporting himself stiff out at right angles to
the ladder. The populace crowd round, laugh, chatter, and
applaud. But as far as I could make out, no collection
was taken up, which was a decided irregularity from a more
civilised standpoint.
There has been one historical fire in Japan, which in
point of mortality probably puts even the Great Fire of
London into the shade. Though it seems incomprehensible
to me how ever anyone could be burned in a low, flimsy affair
like a Japanese house, over one hundred thousand persons
perished in it.
It occurred a century or two ago, in that hotbed of fires,
Asakusa; which, as being the quarter to which the gay
women are confined, and much frequented by their rivals,
the singing women (geishas), and anyone concerned for the
time being " in painting the city of Tokyo red," is particularly
liable to accidental fires, above all in a land where* houses
and lanterns are made of paper.
One forgets the details of this fire in the results. The
victims were buried in a great pit (like the one Sir Walter
Manny gave the Londoners for the victims of the black
death), and over them was reared " The Mound of Destitution," at the side of which the E-ko-in Temple now stands.
Kill] ill
A temple was reared where pious priests might pray for
their souls. All the priests of Japan, of the most prominent
Buddhist sects, came together for seven days to offer so
many thousand or million prayers. Then came a difficulty.
When a Japanese dies (they are generally Shintoists in their
lives, and Buddhists when they reach the point of death)
his relations pay for him to be prayed for at decent intervals,
for priests have to live, like everybody else. This was
impossible in the present case, for nearly all the relatives
had perished together; so they called the temple " The
Temple of the Helpless," and twice every year organised a
procession to it of the most famous images of the gods,
which drew together a vast concourse of people, whose
offerings provided the prayers for the dead.
Now Japanese religious festivals are always accompanied
by much fairing and holiday making; and this proved such
a popular festival that the wrestlers found they could be
surer here of a huge audience for their championship matches
than anywhere else. Accordingly they fixed them for the
occasion of the annual pilgrimage. I am not sure if the
pilgrimage is held any longer ; if it is, it is completely overshadowed by the wrestling, and there is a second annual
meeting of the wrestlers, without reference to any festival
at all, at E-ko-in.
Religion has strange offspring. Japanese wrestling and
the fin de siecle farces at the Gaiety, with their respective
Vulgarities, are both, it would seem, the outcome of religious
celebrations.    0 Pilgrims of Pity!    0 Dancers to Dionysus !
Note.—The Three Great Fires of Yedo.—The other day I
read in the Japan Gazette a translation from a native paper of
a summary of the twenty principal conflagrations that have taken
place in Tokyo (Yedo) since 1657. The list did "not include
ordinary conflag iations, but only those which laid level an area
of several miles." The three of these known as " The Three Great
Fires of Yedo," those of 1657, 1772, and 1806, burnt, one for
twenty-four hours, and one over a space seven or eight miles long,
and about half a mile wide. The Shogyo Shimpo says that on
each of these occasions more than half the city was destroyed, the
record of one of them showing 1,270,097 houses as burnt. This
last is a lie of truly Oriental magnificence; as the population of
Tokyo is at the outside about a million and a quarter, there must
have been on the average rather more than a house apiece to
every man, woman, and infant in the city, even if every single
house was burnt. Well might the Japan Gazette observe:
" There is doubtless some exaggeration in this record." I
Tokyo, January 12th.
THE  Jappiest thing we have  seen yet is the Japanese
wrestling.    It is Asiatic with a vengeance.   TTo begin
with, the wrestlers are as near stark naked as they
can be without absolute indecency.    All they wear is a strip
of dark blue silk, three or four inches wide, with a cross
string going between their legs not an eighth wider than
is necessary.
The wrestling takes place in a sort of huge circus constructed of  bamboo framework,  covered with matting,  to
keep out the gaze of the people who will not pay to go in.
There is no roof, but the whole amphitheatre is covered with
a kind of network of rice-straw matting, through which the
occupants of the upper boxes thrust their chow boxes on the
rare occasions when they were not using them. Chow goes
on at all times at Japanese entertainments, which, as a rule,
whether theatrical or otherwise, begin in the early morning,
and go on till eight or nine o'clock in the evening.
The whole amphitheatre is surrounded with these boxes,
in tiers. They are only scaffolding, and cannot be reached
except by ladders placed against the front of them. A few
had a Red Indian's blanket thrown over the front, probably
because the owner had brought it in his riksha and was
afraid of its being stolen.
The price for one of these boxes is three yen (ten or
twelve shillings), and the Japanese generally squeeze about
twenty people into them, though they would only hold four or
&ve Europeans. There was one just over our heads where
we stood, waiting for a seat, which contained a splendid Jap
in a London 'Arry's guinea covert coat and a white felt hat.
He had a low-class geisha girl beside him, and a great deal
more sake than he could control inside him; for he forgot
Japanese good manners, and stared at the foreign ladies in an
insolent, helpless, mouth-and-eye-watery way. Underneath
the boxes ran a sort of gangway, and the rest of the floor was
taken up with a seething mass of humanity, sitting on their
We arrived about two o'clock, when everything was in full
swing, and passed through a sort of temple yard, containing
a few priests' tombs and orange and tea stalls. There seemed
no outward or visible way into the wrestling, though elevated
on a platform sat some old men of the large, fat brand they
use in Japanese wrestling, reminding one of the troupe who
stand on the little gallery outside boxing booths at country
fairs in the old country—two or three boxers, the man with
the hoarse voice, and the fat woman. While we were staring
despondently at them we were overtaken by Taro, the riksha
man, who considers that he can speak English on the strength
of knowing " more ten sen." He had left his riksha with
the other boy, and was, as usual, going to act as impromptu
guide. We asked him to take a private box for us. He said,
"No box; pay ten sen." So we paid for three, generously
deciding to frank him to the entertainment for his linguistic
exploits. The tickets we received were of wood, ten inches
long, by an inch and a half wide, and half an inch thick;
and then we dived through a door under the stage, about
three feet high, and found ourselves confronted by plenty of
unpleasant sights, but, to all appearances, absolutely no room.
The boxes were not only all taken but crammed. As for the
pit, it was a herring shoal of coolies, into which one could
not even see. Taro was desperate; he flew to one pew
opener after another to ask about a box, or even standing
room, and finally beckoned us forward.
A passage was drilled through the shoal, and we were shot
through it into the middle, and yelled at by the people behind
us until we squatted on our hams (for which my figure is
unsuitable). Horrible, dirty, ill-smelling people were all around
us; and the Japanese are reputed to be deplorably careless
about the minor infectious diseases, measles, mumps, and
other childish maladies which it is ridiculous for adults to
However, we could see the show, and a very poor show it
seemed to be—two naked Japs, crouched like cats to watch
each other; making a eat-like spring at each other ; meeting
in mid air, too alert to be caught by each other; coming down
again ; drinking a dram of water and putting it out again on
a piece of paper, with which they proceeded to wash the
sweat away from their armpits ; walking round a little, and
then doing the cat business again.
" Taro," I said, "I'm sick of this ; let's clear."
Miss Aroostook said, "Yes, do let's ; it's horrible. I
wonder if any other European lady would be seen here.
There only seem to be about two Japanese women here ;
do go ! "
But Taro did not want to go. He was enjoying himself
immensely, and " too excited for anything," as the only
Charles says. So he forsook us, and darted off to have
another hunt for a box, thinking that we should not have
courage to leave the building without him. And we actually
did stand for a good half-hour in the gangway under the
bibulous Japanese " chappie " in the guinea covert coat, with
his sake and his geisha girl. Several times we were on the
point of going out, but our nerves were screwed up to the
sticking-point by the arrival of two Americans—the Professor
of Literature and Rhetoric at the new University here, and
his wife. They .were anxious to see the wrestling, and offered
to share the expense of a box if one was procurable. One
wasn't, and we moved on till we found ourselves opposite a
part of the pit which seemed less crushed than the rest.
There was ten sen extra charge, but people stood instead JAPANESE  WRESTLING. 79
of squatting, so we wondered why they didn't have it all ten
sen extra, and no seats.
The doorkeeper would not take our money; but Miss
Aroostook came to the rescue. Within the enclosure stood
a huge wrestler, probably one of the defeated competitors in
the earlier rounds. He was a good-humoured-looking sort of
a giant, and melted beneath the smile of woman. English
grace in very smart European garments smiled upon him, and
the giant cleared a space and snubbed the doorkeeper.
We entered, and craned our necks. Presently an attendant
brought a form, and invited us to stand on it; but as soon as
we were comfortably settled, and seeing things nicely, and
therefore presumably loth to leave, he demanded an extra
forty sen (Is. 3d.) a head for the use of the form. We jumped
down, but the giant promptly snubbed this imposition also,
and the riksha man said that if we gave him ten sen extra
for the trouble of bringing the form it would be quite sufficient.
And now we really were in a position to see something of the
Japanese wrestling is conducted in a 12 ft. ring, sanded
and on an elevated "stage under a canopy, reminding one
strikingly of the fountain canopies in the courts of temples,
supported by four plain posts and with an overhanging roof,
but no walls. The posts are decked with parti-coloured cloths,
and immediately below the roof hang blue tabs and a white
silk festoon, ornamented with a gold sun and stars.
The umpire on this occasion wore a handsome grey silk
costume, with the great shoulder-flaps which represented full
dress in feudal times, projecting about a foot over each
shoulder, and ornamented on collar, breast, and cuffs with
his crest. He carried a peculiar lacquered fan, shaped like
a blunt-edged double hatchet, and ornamented with a scarlet
silk tassel suspended by a cord a yard long.
Holding this horizontally, he gave out something in a loud
voice, and two wrestlers ascended the platform—stark naked,
as I have said, except for the double silk cross straps round
their waist and between their legs, and with their hair combed
in a peculiar fashion, very like the snood once worn by little
girls in England, on the top of their heads. The ring had
just been swept, and its heroes figured about in the sand with
their bare feet, after slapping their thighs and cocking up first
one and then the other of their mighty legs—this being,
perhaps, a recognised form of salutation to the audience,
perhaps  a muscle   stretcher.      Then they carefully wiped
I 80
themselves, and commenced the crouching down like cats,
watching each other for the spring.
Let us pause to look at them. These wrestlers are
gigantic, tall fellows, some of them six feet high and more;
vast of shoulder and arm and thigh and calf; mountains of
muscle, and some of them also mountains of fat. Whether
shaved or natural, they have no hair on their bodies except
under the armpits; and far from having faces of the brutal
type usual among prize fighters, they have most of them good-
humoured, and some of them quite dignified, faces. They
are not very like the ordinary Japs, but I could not discover
that they came from any particular locality.
The modus operandi is this : the opponents crouch down
like wild beasts till they see an opportunity to spring, and
Doth of course spring at the same time, one to attack and the
other to meet the attack. It is a case of feint and parry. If
the attack is parried they go to the side of the stage, take a
sip of water to wash out their mouths and keep them fresh
for a prolonged struggle when the grip is actually made.
Some of the water from their mouths they drop on a little
paper handkerchief, and wipe the sweaty parts of their body,
such as under the arms. Then they return to the combat,
and this goes on till the grip is made, and then there is a JAPANESE   WRESTLING.
mighty tussle until one is thrown on his back, or more on his
back than the other.
One wrestle was terminated by the champion wrestler, an
enormously fat and heavy man, being hurled clean off the
ring by a slimmer but wirier antagonist. At the edge of the
stage he was caught by an attendant, placed there for the
purpose, who must now have an adequate conception of a
thunderbolt. Another was terminated by a wrestler being
stopped by the attendant in front of one of the pillars from
being hurled backwards into it. This counted a fall, and
certainly would have been a very dangerous one, that probably would have crushed the skull. A third was terminated
by one of the wrestlers, a man who weighed a good part of
three hundred pounds, being caught round the waist and
thrown a foot or two up in the air.
Sometimes the men gripped at arm's length, and the bout
would then be a very long one. In one instance there were
two men thus gripped, one with his head under the other's
breast bone. It was hard for his opponent to keep his feet;
but, on the other hand, the strain on the neck muscles was
terrific, and so was the strain on his wind, with his chin
crushed into his chest. He had the better position if he
could only last; and he did last, and win, though both fell,
and his only advantage consisted in his falling less on his
back than his adversary. In another instance both fell on
their backs, but one on the top of the other.
The audience were enormously excited, and when a
favourite won, his admirers' hats were showered upon him
like bouquets at the opera. These were carefully picked up,
and kept till the owners should come to redeem them; for
a man flings his hat to show that he intends to make a
They watched every little point, and waxed almost as
enthusiastic over a successful parry and an artful feint as over
a fall. The place was crammed from floor to ceiling, and
mostly with a not very respectable-looking crowd ; but there
was no brutality or rowdiness or roughness; and strangers,
far from being unsafe, were treated with special kindness.
One of the wrestlers presented the Professor with his programme, and he was immensely pleased with my kodak
camera, which he called " shashin," and showed it to all his
comrades who came near, whenever he was not drinking sake
or eating some strange compound.
What people the Japs are to eat at entertainments I    It
Q 82
was one perpetual chow, chow; a never-ending stream of
hucksters, with steaming tea-pots, tea-cups, oranges, sweetmeats, villainous-smelling Mercato-Vecchio-like pastry, hot.
sake, and what not. The vendors climbed round the top tier
of boxes along the coping, on which many of the occupants
deposited their boots. For the Japanese cannot get over the
trick of taking off his boots when he enters a place, and if he
is wearing sandals, or clogs, of course he has to take them
off to climb the ladder, which is the only way into the
At last the ladies thought they had seen enough of the
human form divine, and we determined to go, but no Taro
was forthcoming. That worthy had darted into the crowd,
like a ferret after a rabbit, in his excitement to see the fun;
and though the tall wrestler called for him, still there was no
Taro. We waited half an hour for him (for which of course
he charged us), and then started without him. But when we
got outside his mate was true to him, and entreated us not to
to go till he had been to look for him; and just at that
moment Taro came up, breathless. I forgave him for being
such a sportsman.
We left about half-past three, but evidently the fun was
not nearly over, for dashing down the hill in front, holding
up the horses' heads in the way usual in Japan, came a
Japanese swell with three geisha girls in his carriage; and
we met several other carriages evidently bound the same way,
besides rikshas innumerable. And what rows and rows of
them there were already standing. Outside the gate, also
evidently going away, we met three coolies, in typical coolie
dresses, reeling along as jovially as three real " chappies " in
London could have done. It was a good-humoured crowd,
and the police seemed to have nothing to do but to occupy
the two very best boxes in the alfresco amphitheatre, specially
hung with handsome black and white draperies in their
And then we bounded off to Sir Edwin Arnold's, through
the picturesque old gateway, and past the castle-palace of the
Shogun, now inhabited by the Mikado, with its wide moat
and lofty Titanic walls, its rich temple roofs, and its typical
Japanese garden. It looks as if it had been cut out of a
fairy-tale book. The moat was full of wild fowl, and an
eagle swooped into it as we passed.
Fortunate Mikado ! Your great subject, the ex-daimio of
Nagasaki, has had to change his picturesque yashiki for a JAPANESE  WRESTLING. 63
great modern house on the hill opposite the new American
Legation, which we shall pass by-and-by when we have passed
that Japanese Eton, the School for the Sons of the Nobles,
and have not yet reached the bamboo groves, hissing and
bending in to-day's gale round the Japanese home of Edwin
Arnold. CHAPTER X.
Tokyo, January l§th.
A FEW days after the wrestling we were at the popular
festival, which combines the apprentices' holiday and
worshipping the devil. They worship the devil to conciliate him; and probably give the apprentices their holiday
for much the same reason. Japanese apprentices don't get
their heads turned with holidays; they have only two in
the year, January 16th and July 16th. I have not yet been
in Japan in July, so don't know whether the community at
large are obliged by the trade unions to worship the devil
on the latter date also. Many masters will tell you that
apprentices are the devil. I think they must be, for whenever I order anything to be made at the shop, and am
disappointed day after day, I am always told that it is the
fault of the apprentice.
But to return to the Shiba festival. Whom should we
meet there, driving about in a jinrikisha, with the whole of his
personal effects and a bottle of beer, but our friend the big
wrestler who had cleared a space for us at the wrestling
matches. His name was Arakato, and he insisted upon
getting out to shake hands with us. As he had taken such
interest in the hashin (camera) at the wrestling, and it had
not been sunny enough to take photographs then, I told him
I would photograph him now; which I did, and invited him
to tiffin the following day.
While he was being photographed the dishonest Jehu,
who was dragging two hundred pounds, added to the weight
of the riksha and the luggage and the bottle of beer, decamped
with the whole of his personal estate; and so we got rid of
him pretty easily. But the next day he came to lunch about
three-quarters of an hour before he was asked; and Henry
Savage Landor, the artist, and Mr. Boner, the Japanese-
speaking secretary to Her Britannic Majesty's Legation, whom
we had asked to meet him, were of course correspondingly
late. So, after using up the patience of all the English-
speaking boys in the hotel, and finding things rather heavy,
we determined to go down to lunch without them.
The giant, who was very genial, and most handsomely
dressed in a dark blue silk kimono, insisted upon going last.
What a handsome fellow he was, with his huge shoulders
and massive head, his hair done in the orthodox wrestlers'
fashion, and his vast good-humoured face bronzed by the
sun to the true Giorgione tint! His shapely, exquisitely
kept hands were the same tint; so were his feet, as beautifully formed as his hands, and bare, except for light straw
sandals. We had fortunately hardly sat down to lunch before
Mr. Boner turned up, and introduced himself (since we were
unable to introduce him) with the becoming civilities. He
was soon followed by Mr. Landor.
We had a special menu card in Japanese prepared for our
wrestler, but it did not convey any idea to him, because he
had never tasted the things mentioned.
" He wishes to say," translated Mr. Boner, who sat next
to him, " that this is the first time that he has been asked to
such a banquet, and, not knowing any of the things, he
thinks that, if you will not be angry, he will take them all." 11:1
He held the soup plate up to his mouth, and shovelled the
soup into it, as the coolies shovel rice or macaroni from the
little lacquer bowls at the street stalls, and polished off the
fish in a couple of mouthfuls. He judged that his mouth
could contain about half of it, so he cut it in half, and put in
half at once. And in the interval he disposed of two glasses
of hock and a glass of beer.
Then he conversed.
" He wishes to say," interpreted Mr. Boner, " that he
thanks you extremely for the fine banquet you are giving him.
He has never had anything like it in his life."
This I have put on record, because it is probably the most
favourable opinion ever expressed of a Tokyo hotel luncheon.
For, though it is one of the best of the hotels kept by natives,
the catering is not a matter of universal congratulation. But
it is very homelike, and we have a most obliging lot of
Then he went through the bill of fare in the following
swimming fashion:—
No. 3: Poached eggs and anchovy toast—one mouthful.
No. 4: Pigeon saut6 and green peas—two mouthfuls,
because there were bones.    He, of course, ate bones and all.
No. 5 : Mutton chop and mashed potatoes—the chop, one
mouthful. He held it by the bone, and bit off the whole of
the meat at once, finishing up with lapping the mashed
potatoes like the soup.
No. 6 : Cold roast beef. He cut his portion in two, and
swallowed it in two mouthfuls.
No. 7 : A plateful of ham. He took this instantaneously,
as they say in photographic circles.
No. 8: " Teal duck." This gave him rather more
trouble. He was helped to a drumstick, and, taking it by the
shank, bit off the bulk of the meat at one bite. But
masticating the skeleton took him some time.
No. 9 : Salt tongue. The boy, seeing that he had a good
appetite, brought him several slices. They were treated to
the same instantaneous process.
And then came the tour de force—the curry. He roared
with laughter, to express delight, when it arrived; and after
his already rather healthy meal, helped himself to the whole,
filling his plate mountain high with rice, and emptying the
curry tureen over it. Then, holding his plate close to his
mouth, he chopsticked it in with his fork, and, with tremendous gusto, called for more. SEEING  THE  GIANT FEED. 87
" He is beginning to enjoy himself very much," put in
Mr. Boner. " He is getting very red in the face, which is a
sign. He will probably now begin to divest himself of the
clothing, piece by piece, to steel himself to fresh exertions."
This, added to the fact that he had already drunk a bottle
of hock and nearly two quarts of beer, and that there were
ladies at the table, made me feel a little cautious. So I told
the boys, in English, to start giving him coffee; but he waved
them off majestically. Evidently his arena triumphs were
not the outcome of temperance, for he told Mr. Boner that he
never took such things as tea or coffee, that he really did
prefer sake a good deal to what he had been drinking.
Accordingly, sake was sent for; but the Tokyo Hotel, being a
Japanese hotel conducted in the European fashion, was not
going to lose caste by keeping the Japanese native drink, so
the poor giant had to put up with another bottle of beer to
wash down a second dishful of curry and rice. Probably he
would have taken a third had not the supply run out.
No. 11 was chocolate pudding. He did not put the whole
of it into his mouth at once, but sipped it. Evidently he
entertained suspicions, which were realised when he had tasted
it, for he put on a sickly sort of grin.
Would he have No. 12: cheese; No. 13: fruit; or No.
14 : tea and coffee ?
No !    These were things he did not esteem.
Mr. Boner then, with imperturbable gravity, offered him
the chutney jar, with a spoon. He tasted it, an(J his mouth
expanded into a fresh grin of delight. He ate it all as an
entremet, and wound up the feast by draining the finger bowl
of hot water which the " boy " brought to wash his lordly
fingers after his arduous repast.
There were always about three "boys" hanging round
the hero, for to the Japanese lower orders wrestlers are of as
much consequence as the base-ball player to the Bostonian.
"He thanks you for your magnificent banquet," interpreted Mr. Boner, " and hopes you are not angry at him
consuming so much. He has never had anything of the
kind before—I am leaving out the honorifics and superlatives—shall I tell him you are so pleased with his company
||at vou would like him to spend the rest of the day with,
you |I
" I will kill you if you do. I'll hire a Chinese high-binder
from Yokohama. Seriously; invent some excuse to get rid
of him soon after lunch." 88 THE JAPS AT HOME.
" All right, my pony is at the door, and I shall have to
go myself in a few minutes, and then I'll tell him that at
this time it is customary for Europeans to take their leave.
He will go directly; the Japanese are very gentlemanly, down
to the very lowest."
So we gave the big wrestler a big cigar, and took him
upstairs to be photographed, with my little boy standing
beside him to show off his monstrous size; and then he took
his leave, after telling Mr. Landor that he would be sure to
come and call upon him to have his portrait painted, and
again expressing his delight with everything.
It appears that it was fortunate that he was not master
of English, for he remarked to Mr. Boner of a gentleman
who was sitting within a yard of him, that he was so thin
that he felt sure that he must lead a very irregular life.
He thought that I must lead a very good one—I had a very
fine figure, because I was so burly. I had previously considered myself stout, and my figure one to be kept out of
evidence. But seeing the Japanese wrestlers has resurrected
my conceit, for the thinnest in the tournament leaves me
nowhere, and they really think Europeans very badly made
for not oftener being fat. One man's poison is truly another
man's meat.
Just as the giant was going away he apologised once
more (as he reasonably might have if it had been to the hotel
proprietor, who, of course, only charged for him as an ordinary
visitor). His excuse was that he had never before " introduced such good food to his system." CHAPTER XI.
Tokyo, January 2§th.
THE day after my arrival at Tokyo I went up to renew my
acquaintance with the author of that perennial poem,
" The Light of Asia." I found Sir Edwin as genial as
ever, and as astonishingly full of vitality.
He has been fortunate enough to rent the charming little
bungalow of General Palmer, that curious combination,
servant of the Japanese Government and correspondent of an
English newspaper—the Times itself. He had great difficulty
in obtaining it—the Japanese do not like foreigners, however
distinguished- and friendly, settling in Tokyo, except in the
quarter reserved for foreign settlement, and they will not give
permission at all except to teachers and their own employes.
Sir Edwin's Japanese landlord tried to get over this objection
by saying that the poet was the guest of General Palmer.
The Government replied that guests did not pay rent, meaning
the converse. So Inspector Asso engaged Sir Edwin as tutor
to his daughters at the nominal salary of six hundred yen—
not quite £100—a year. And Sir Edwin volunteered to
correct the English of the history which Inspector Asso is
His duties as tutor consist in hearing these two charming
Japanese girls play the koto charmingly, and conversing with
them in English.
The Inspector puts on English attire when he comes to
call upon his tenant (and employe), though he relapses into
his own picturesque dress for comfort in the privacy of his
home. One night, however, being in a hurry, he appeared
a la Japonais, and apologised profusely for what he, ignorant
of the aesthetic pleasure he conferred, considered a breach of
While in Japan Sir Edwin is nothing if not Japanese.
He was out when we arrived, but Miss Arnold kept us to
tiffin, and, before I noticed his presence, he was standing over
89 90
me with out-thrust hand. " Why, how do you do, Mr.
Sladen ? " He had come in with stockinged feet, and through
the wall.
The unanglicised Japanese always takes his boots off before
he enters a house. To use Sir Edwin's graphic expression,
" he does not make a street of his home," and the door is
only one of his modes of entry, for the walls of his house are
sliding panels of paper stretched on wooden frames, and to
enter or go out he pnishes back the most convenient panel.
In an up-country tea-house, as they call Japanese inns, the
servants, male and female, will push back a panel of your
bedroom or bathroom at the most inopportune moments.
The Japanese cannot see any indecency in the inevitable
functions of life.
Sir Edwin sleeps in Japanese fashion on a thick quilt of
the take-up-thy-bed-and-walk pattern, spread upon the floor at
night, and during the day rolled up into the snding cupboard.
Other furniture the room has none, except a cheap European
camp washstand and two Japanese chests of drawers made
of the characteristic white wood, with pretty black iron-work SIR EDWIN ARNOLD AT HOME IN JAPAN.    91
mountings. To assist the washstand in promoting the march
of civilisation, a court sword and a "blazer" hang from
clothes pegs. The walls of his little bedroom—a mere closet,
like the Iron Duke's—are made of tissue paper panels with
silver maple leaves powdered upon them, and there is a clear
glass strip at a height threatening to propriety.
Miss Arnold has a large handsome room, furnished in the
European style, aad giving the same evidence of its occu-
sir e. Arnold's bedroom in ms Japanese home.
pant's fine taste as the little touches that have transformed
General Palmer's drawing-room.
This drawing-room is charming, surrounded on two sides
by glass panels from floor to ceiling, and on the other two
by an effective dado of brown plaster, a couple of feet high
at the top, and panels of gold and crimson-flowered paper
below, the woodwork being fir, left in its native beauty, like the
ceiling, which is supported in the centre by an unhewn cherry
trunk. The Japanese give no more signal instance of their
good taste than by the success with which they introduce natural
woodwork. THE JAPS AT HOME.
It would not be Sir Edwin if there were no blossoming
dwarf plum-tree in a blue-and-white porcelain pot—the
inevitable accompaniment of a Japanese house at this season
of the year. And the revolving bookcase in the corner is
crowned with a model junk, kept in company by the New
Year battledores and shuttlecocks sent by those Misses Asso,
who have such an illustrious tutor, to acknowledge the compliment of a box of San Francisco candies.
My old shipmate's (Sir Edwin's son's) residence in
Australia is evidenced by a 'possum rug, and American
civilisation is represented by a stove. On one of the little
occasional tables is a bunch of roses that have escaped the
frost, for they have a garden and an artificial Fuji commanding a view of the real Fuji, towering, like a huge opal
under the magic of sun and snow, forty-five miles away.
Appropriately by the roses is Triibner's new edition of the
"Light of Asia."
Balanced on the soft firwood framework of the dado, I
notice some of the bright silk-padded figures of Japanese girls
familiar in the drawing-rooms of Bedford Park.
" Those," said Miss Arnold, tracking the direction of my
glances, " are our—seismometers, do you call them ? I
mean, they register the seriousness of an earthquake by the
promptness with which they fall."
Miss Arnold is not like the Queen. Unlike that august
lady she does not echo "The Private Secretary's" immortal
announcement, "Do you know I don't like London ! " Living SIR EDWIN ARNOLD AT HOME IN JAPAN.    93
in this, to say the least of it, unconventional and inconveniently airy country, she does not sigh, like Lasca's lover,
11 want free life and I want fresh air." In fact, her father's
aspirations rather appal her. Sir Edwin says he could live
in Japan ; in fact, he thinks he will have to five in Japan for
the rest of his life. The Land of the Lotus has twined its
tendrils round his Buddhistic soul, and he feels as if he could
stay and eat the lotus here till it is time for nirvana. It is
rest, rest, rest, and he longs for rest. He has had his fighting,
thirty years of it, and shot eight thousand arrows from his
editorial quiver. This is natural. But it is also natural for
a girl to be thirsting for the fray in London, where conquests
are made. They have got thus far towards a settlement of
the question that they have the house on their hands till the
end of March.
" See here, Mr. Sladen," says my host, drawing my
attention to a rich, dark wood plaque, supporting a marvellously finished ivory cock, fashioned out of an odd chip that a
European carver would have cut up or thrown away. " Like
the unhewn cherry trunk which supports our ceiling, and the
thousand and one bamboo curios, it illustrates the curious
faculty the Japanese have for utilising every suggestion of the
picturesque which Nature offers. They do not subdue her,
but make an ally of her."
What a pleasant place this drawing-room is! If too
sunny, there are gold silk curtains to draw round the two
glass walls; and, for wintry weather, there runs round the
outside a sun-gallery, such as one sees in the abbot's lodges
of Cluniac abbeys.
"I am so thankful that we managed to get a furnished
house," said Miss Arnold to me. " Papa's idea is to take an
unfurnished house and to buy things just as one wants them.
He feels hungry and goes out to buy eggs. When they come
to table he remembers that they want cups and spoons, and
rushes off to get them."
" Well, how did you manage to hear of it ? "
" Oh 1 Captain B mentioned in the Japan Mail that
we were anxious to get a house if we could find one to suit
us, and General Palmer saw it that very day. He was
anxious to leave it and we to have it. So he just walked out
and we walked in. The first thing I did was nearly to kill
myself by keeping the hibachi (charcoal hand-stove) in my
bedroom. When my father called me in the morning there
was no answer, and he came in and found me speechless." 94
" How do you manage about housekeeping ? "
" Oh! it's very simple. I tell our major-domo. Neither
the cook, nor the cook's wife, nor my maid, nor my riksha-
man, nor the gardener, can speak a word of English."
"From our little Fuji," struck in Sir Edwin, "we can
look over the whole of Tokyo, a city as large as London in
extent of ground, for it consists so much of little one-floored
cottages, and embraces so many noble parks. Should not
this be a lesson to us in laying out great cities ? " And he
continued: " You could lose yourself in a hundred different
parts of it if you went out slumming, and be perfectly safe
in all of them. Think of that compared to Paris or Vienna,
though it must be confessed that this is owing partly to the
utter indifference of the Japanese. I had a drive the other
day from one point in the city to another—eight miles. I
went to a Japanese banquet given in my hononx at the
Maple Club in the park at Shiba. There were eight of the
Ministers there. I like the Japanese food very much. I
can eat everything—raw fish, sweets and fish together—
anythmg. I like sake—I can drink any quantity of it
without a headache. I'm not sure if I have a digestion; I
have never had any evidence of it. I attribute part of my
success in fife to this, as my friend Gladstone does. I
observe one precaution which Gladstone tells me he always
takes. I eat very slowly and talk a good deal between.
Gladstone thinks slow eating the mother of good digestion.
He bites everything twenty-five times before he swallows it.
Another thing is that in early life I carried out the Greek
idea, and practised gumnastike as well as mousikS. You know
the senses in which the Greeks used these words of physical
and intellectual training.
" My Japanese servants amuse me a little, but I am
charmed with them. Yesterday being New Year's Day, my
cook's baby, who is only three years old, toddled up and made
a full Japanese bow, grmding its nose on the ground, and
said: ' At the beginning of the year, on the first day, I wish
you great prosperity.'
"Miss Arnold's maid is a sweet little thing; she has
delightful manners, only she talks no English, and the only
word of Japanese my daughter knows is ' hibachi.' She
loves warming her fingers over them like a Japanese, or the
poor Italians with their scaldini."
He clapped hands in the Asiatic fashion, and the pretty
dusky little creature appeared, attired in a graceful kimono. SIR EDWIN ARNOLD AT HOME IN JAPAN.     95
" I like Tokyo," Sir Edwin continued. " Here at Imaicho
it is the true rus in urbe. We are in the country, though
we are in one of the five greatest cities in the world. We are
surrounded by bamboo groves and pleasure grounds. We
have the purest rural atmosphere, though we are in a city
of a million and a quarter inhabitants. We have our lotus
pond, our roses, our camellias, our palm-trees. Outside our
gates there are Shinto temples and fortress walls, and in a
month or two the whole district will be white with cherry
blossoms. Here I listen to my pupils playing the koto and
samisen, and revise my master's (Inspector Asso's) Japanese
History. I am a tutor, you know, and the bishop himself
would not be permitted to reside here unless he called himself
a schoolmaster.
" My menage consists of my major-domo and my cook, my
cook's wife, his baby, my gardener, and my riksha-man, and
my daughter's maid. The cook gives in his accounts every
day with a so-ra-ba—what the dictionary calls an abacus—
in a newly washed blue coolie dress with a big red dragon
on his back. He is splendid at fish. His name is Nakashima.
Then come Watanabi and Shuzo. Just now they are all in
their glory in their new blue New Year's clothes, ornamented
with storks. My gardener's name is Suzuhikanzo. I call
him the Ace of Spades, because he reminds me of it with his
little hoe. He makes my bath ready in a huge wooden tub
on a grated floor. The Japanese parboil themselves every
day. The little maid's name is Yoshidatori—a pretty, smiling
little thing, the daughter of a samurai. She never comes in
without a beautiful Japanese salute. She has her hair dressed
twice a week with marvellous pins, and has the front part
of her hair, when it is stiffened up with the composition,
made into a kind of l Fuji' on her brow. She uses a
makura—the funny little Japanese pillow with its two little
drawers—and when she is dusting covers her head with one
of the quaint blue cotton Japanese towels. She answers
everything with a respectful 'kashko marimashta' (I have
" She is very timid of earthquakes. During that bad one
we had the day before yesterday, which lasted six minutes,
she ran in to my daughter. She says ' The more you know of
earthquakes the less you like being left alone with them.'
At 5 a.m. Otorisan wakes me, drawing back the slides and
pushing in early breakfast and a fire box. The cook's wife
plays ball and target.
" We have had our gates decorated for the New Year with
kadomatso—grass, paper, seaweed, a lobster, an orange, etc.
—for luck and goodwill, and also with Japanese flags."
And then we went off to lunch—Sir Edwin and Miss
Arnold, that brilliant grandson of a brilliant grandfather,
Henry Savage Landor, the artist, Mr. and Mrs. P , and
myself. The dining-room, which is also Sir Edwin's study,
is a long, plain room, with a sun-gallery running down all
one side of it, and a recess at the end containing a library
table and ornamented with a kakemono (scroll with a picture
painted on it). Lunch, with the exception of having sake
served and Japanese biscuits on the table, was a very handsome European one. Sir Edwin does not inflict his
enthusiasms on his friends.
I sat next to Miss Arnold, but I am afraid she found me
very poor company, for I could not help Hstening to her
father's brilliant conversation. Talking of Japanese history,
he said that Hideyoshi was something more than a great hero
—for to him, with his friends the Buddhist priests, we owe
that custom of solemn tea drinking which has given to Japan
her architecture, and to the Western world that most inestimable boon, the use of tea. Sir Edwin himself drinks eighty
or ninety cups a day in Japan. As his daughter could not
work up to his own concert pitch of enthusiasm about this
country, he thought of writing to her a ballad, in F sharp—
" Ask me not to quit Japan."   He had an argument with Mr.
P , made irresistibly droll by Mr. Landor, who knew nothing
of the subject, but sees the ludicrous in everything, as to how
far it was a Buddhist doctrine that men send themselves to
heaven and hell, and used the expression " we Buddhists."
Then he flew into the drawing-room for a minute, and
returned with a Japanese book, from which he read us a little
Japanese poem of five lines. Then he championed the extraordinary doctrine that children are no relation to their
parents, but that the wandering soul finds its family among
the souls which suit it best; generally, however, finding the
souls of its parents suitable—and passed on to the doctrine of
" I feel," said Sir Edwin, suddenly changing the subject,
and stretching himself with a sigh of relief, "like a bird
escaped from its cage. I shall never go back. Not that I
feel that I am growing old. I am three years off sixty yet,
and my mother lived to be ninety-one, and climbed a five-bar
gate not long before she died.    She only died last year—God
bless her—the same day as my sweet wife. My father never
knew a day's illness until, to use that fine Japanese phrase,
* he condescended to die.' We Buddhists neither hope nor
fear. Earthquake or banquet is the same to us. At death
we say—l Pay the bill you must. Dear Brother, it was
cloudy when you were with us, but now it is all sunshine.' "
Sir Edwin's pretty young girl pupils had been acting to
him the whole range of Japanese salutes—ladles saluting
their equals, their inferiors, and their superiors, and people
whose relative rank to their own was doubtful, or a matter to
be disputed. He asked them if, honestly, women were treated
well in Japan.
'' Not sufficiently well, but not brutally—with indifference,''
was the reply.
" You are better than men," retorted Sir Edwin gallantly.
i Why should you be treated worse ?''
" For two reasons; from babyhood we are taught submission, and taught to conceal our feelings."
Sir Edwin then talked of the relative work of Shintoism,
Confucianism, and Buddhism, and confessed how he was
struck with the grave politeness of Japan, and how clumsy
he found himself in trying to attain to it.
We had, among other dishes, copper pheasant, and Sir
Edwin sent into the drawing-room for a vase of its tail
feathers to show us how curiously they imitated the joints of
the bamboo groves in which the bird makes its habitation,
bearing out the Darwinian theory of defenceless creatures
assimilating their appearance to their surroundings.
Henry Landor, with old Walter Savage's spirit, took exception to Sir Edwin's theory that one should not wear boots in
the house. He didn't see the use of a floor one could not use,
and he said that he had concluded to wait for wings before he
gave up boots. Then, with the ladies still at the table, Sir
Edwin brought cigars, and, feeling the soothing influence of
the magic weed, remarked:
" Japan is. to me a soft tonic. Fancy the delight of finding
a place where they have never heard of the Irish question."
This drew from Mr. Landor the suggestion that perhaps
Gladstone might find a fresh tonic in Japan in cutting down
houses instead of trees — perfectly feasible where they are
made of wood and paper.
"They call this the heathenish East," said the great
editor, " and yet they can do without doors or furniture, and
do not make streets of their homes." THE JAPS AT HOME.
" The music of the Tom-tom is by no means to be
despised," retorted the descendant of the Florentine Diogenes.
Sir Edwin parried it with a good-humoured smile, and,
perhaps, a veiled sarcasm. " Japan is so infinitely reposeful
for lovers of good manners. The Japanese peasant lives in
an atmosphere of Buddhism without thinking about it, just
as the American working man lives in an atmosphere of
science, travelling in electric cars, along streets lit with
electric light, and using complicated machinery in his work,
often without any knowledge of any of them beyond the
mechanical part of his own work."
And, getting on to the subject of Buddhism, Sir Edwin
said that the most Buddhistic book in the world was the
New Testament, as instances citing the texts, " Are not three
sparrows sold for one farthing," etc., and "The kingdom of
heaven is near unto you, near unto your very souls."
Before we took our leave he allowed me to copy his very
latest poem, which had not then been published. It was a
translation of the little Japanese dodoitsu:—
" Kadomatsu wa
Meido no tabi no
Ichi re zuka
Medeto no ari
Medeto no nashi."
Sir Edwin Arnold's translation is as follows:—
"The gateway pines we place
Are milestones of life's road,
Marking the stages past,
And glad the way for some,
And sad for some the way.
We felt quite loth to take leave of the poet, as happy, to
use his own phrase, as a bird escaped from its cage, in his
Japanese home, leading the lotus-life of Japan with no effort
except that of learning how to lead it in the native way.
It was uniquely interesting, this spectacle of the man
who acclimatised Buddhism in England revelling in that
wondrous Eastern garden, in the land of the Rising Sun,
where Buddhism has acclimatised itself so strikingly.
* * * * * *
On the pictures in this chapter hangs a tale.
A few days after this luncheon party, a friend and I took
my kodak round to Sir Edwin's, with a supply of flash lights, SIR EDWIN ARNOLD AT HOME IN JAPAN. 99
to take some pictures of his Japanese home. Sir Edwin was
out, but Miss Arnold, wdio had another detective camera, was
a fellow-conspirator. We were very anxious to include her
maid Otorisan in the photograph of the drawing-room, but
(like a good many more civilised people) she dreaded the evil
eye of the kodak; and, not speaking English, she was not
open to argument. But it occurred to me to enlist the
services of that incipient socialist, Taro (eldest son), my
riksha-boy, to explain matters to her. After an explanation
which sounded, as most Japanese explanations do, like a
stand-up fight, he said quite quickly and under his breath, as
if he were in extreme anxiety, " Dekimas—will do, I go too."
Otorisan was agreeable if Taro would keep her company, and
for Taro the kodak had no terrors; nine out of ten of his
patrons (was he not head riksha-boy to the Tokyo hotel?)
carried kodaks.
It was very funny to see them kneeling side by side in the
corner of the room we had selected for immortality. Then
we took our cameras into that guest chamber and study combined, previously, by good luck, dismissing Taro and Otorisan;
for we had a catastrophe, which showed startingly what a
merciful escape I had at the Maple Club when the flash light
exploded in my hand.
To prevent damage we had placed the flash lights on a
thick kitchen plate. The fourth flash light we fired cut the
rim off the plate, without breaking either, as clean as one can
cut glass with a diamond.
It is an ill wind that blows nobody good, for we immediately photographed the plate in its turn. This was in the
room in which the "Light of Asia's " rival, " The Light of
the World," was being written.
But for the knee-hole table, and the most appallingly
Philistinic stove ever launched from the country which has so
much to answer for in transgressions of decorative taste, the
room which is the magnum opus's birthplace is the Jappiest in
the house. It is a long, narrow room, more like the ordinary
entrance-hall than a room, except for the fact that down the
whole of the western side run glass shoji (shutters), through
which the low sunset of the cloudless Japanese winter day
pours in a flood of mellow light. Its function in the Japanese
house is guest chamber, and Sir Edwin uses it literally, for
his hospitable board is hardly ever guestless.
The south end serves as dining-room, as the rather incongruous intrusion of an English dining-table, and sideboard m
and chairs, testify. The north end is his study; and this
end of the room is very Japanese, for behind his writing table
are the two recesses, the tokonoma with its flower vase and
kakemono (a long, narrow picture, mounted on rollers like a
school map), and the chigai dana, with its queer shelves half
at one level and half at another, like the steps of a stile. The
tokonoma is so called from the fiction that if ever the Mikado
came to stay in the house his bed (toko) would be spread
there; a difficult feat in this particular instance, where the
tokonoma was only two or three feet long and four or five
inches wide.
On the floor in front of the tokonoma last night lay the
Daily Telegraph, whose advertisement I remember to have
seen on the fence of St. Martin's, Canterbury, the mother-
church of England.    Is nothing sacred ? SIR EDWIN ARNOLD AT HOME IN JAPAN. 101
Externally, the house is the ordinary Japanese dwelling of
the better sort, with the exception of having the outer shutters,
which run all round the house to close it in at night, partly
made of glass. Over the porch hangs a gong, and one of the
antique wooden fire-engines, consisting of a kago, or box to
hold water, with two staves for carrying it. Sir Edwin's
house stands in a charming garden, which also contains the
more pretentious dwelling of Inspector Asso, the landlord,
and has its blossoming plums and cherries and azaleas, its
fantastically trained or tortured fir trees, its artificial Fuji, its
fish ponds for gold fishes with six tails apiece, its stone
lanterns (ishidoro), and the monstrosities in rock work for
which the Japanese pay such extravagant prices.
This afternoon Sir Edwin had one of his favourite kite
parties, a pastime at which all the Europeans were at a discount, I being perhaps the worst. These parties generally
resolved themselves into an audience of Europeans watching
the Misses Asso, who were very expert, and flew their paper
eagles so high as to be indistinguishable from the real eagles
which hover about Tokyo by the thousand. Sir Edwin used
to waader about with a long bamboo, disengaging the
Europeans' kites from the trees. The roof of his house was
so low that Miss Aroostook thought nothing of freeing her
kite, when it caught in the eaves, by climbing up the verandah.
Tokyo, February 1st.
ABOUT 10 a.m., on a glorious Japanese winter morning,
this first of February, we started for Kameido, the
tortoise well, for more than one reason the spot dearest
to poetry in Japan. For here is seen at its best the plum
blossom, which enters into the national life like the primrose
in England; and here stands the famous temple of Sugawara-
no-Michizane, the greatest scholar of his age, and now regarded
as the patron of learning, more especially of caligraphy—an
art the Japanese have ever highly prized, says Satow.
Sagely spoken ! The writing of the Japanese is sometimes
inconceivably beautiful. The handwriting of Mr. Mayeda,
who kindly acts as our cicerone to-day, is as beautiful as the
maiden-hair; each letter of exquisite grace and symmetry,
and the whole a fern of matchless delicacy of poise and variety
of form- Mr. Mayeda is the confidential English-speaking
clerk of the Hakubunsha, my publishers. This is his rest, as
he calls his holiday, and he would like, with true Japanese
courtesy, to spend it in showing foreigners the beauties of his
So off we start in rikshas, bowling past grim black timber
yashikis of the old daimio nobility (that of the Daimio of
Sakai, with its beautiful gates guarded by the sentry, marks a
barracks), and out of the castle of Tokyo. What a wonderful
place this castle of Tokyo (the shiro) is, enclosing many
hundreds of acres in and round the palace of the discrowned
Shoguns and the yashikis (kraals) of his dispersed daimios !
The palace is protected by no less than three of the wide
shallow moats and cyclopean ramparts, cyclopean in their
thickness and in the enormous and irregular stones of which
they are built. Round the second rampart there are countless
watch-towers, with the quaint, gabled overhanging roofs, made
familiar to us by kitchen plates and toy pagodas.
On the very top of the ramparts grow the gnarled and
dwarfed fir trees, which I suppose constitute the willow of the
pattern, and in the moats are the lotus flowers, and clouds of
wild fowl, who figuratively—and I daresay literally—eat the
lotus, and swarms of fish, only fished by the eagles, which are
as common as crows in Japan.
One cannot look up to the sky without seeing specimens
of the real and the paper kites, one swooping and the other
soaring. It is a pity that the crows don't confine their
attentions to the artificial ones. They are for ever worrying
the real ones, just as fleas transfer their attentions to human
beings when they might browse on dogs for weeks without a
chance of any worse fate than an occasional switch back from
a scratching paw.
But to get on to Kameido. I thought we never should get
there; and when at last we did stop it was not the tortoise
well, but the queer old temple of the Five Hundred Disciples
of Buddha, the Go Hiaku Rakan, in much the same handsome preservation as the banqueting-hall of King Edward III.'s
great palace at Eltham, which is a sort of barn. However,
the Go Hiaku Rakan is, at any rate, used as a temple, which
is something, and contains besides Buddha (in a state of
nirvana) and the Five Hundred Disciples, and the old woman
" who was very wicked, and afterwards not so wicked," and
Emma, the head of all the devils (was the mine called after
him ?), a very curious image of the founder sitting on Buddha's
right hand, decked in very gorgeous robes, in the same way as
in a Florentine picture we see some Medici looking patronisingly
on at the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary.
Binzuru, the servant of Buddha, was to the fore as usual.
So much to the fore that he was flattening his nose against
the front door, which happened to be shut. And the old
woman " who was very wicked, and afterwards not so wicked,"
was naked down to the waist, while her lower limbs were
encased in green "pants" ornamented with stars. The
disciples were much of a muchness—very much. Five
hundred of them, all with gilt faces, and as like each other
as the Japanese, who can't make two things exactly alike,
could make them.
We stopped a minute outside to photograph Miss Aroostook against a magnificent bronze bell, as big as she was,
and only hung on a sort of ten-foot-high towel horse; and
then leapt on to our rikshas again to get to Kameido some
time that day. Some time, for two or three minutes afterwards, I was down agam, photographing an old lady and
her daughter, aged about fifty, who were going through the 104
country playing on a tum-tum and a samisen to proclaim
to the public that they were selling ame, a sort of sweetmeat
cake made of barley-meal. The elder woman took the cake—
a doubtful advantage, as it was contained in a good-sized
chest of drawers, hung round her neck in the approved millstone method.
Kameido at last! Beautiful Kameido, shrine of Japanese
literature, personified in the great Sugawara-no-Michizane,
worshipped under the more striking appellation of the " Perfectly free and heaven-filling heavenly divinity."
Soul of Michizane, how do you get on under that name ?
Surely it is worse than the starvation with which you ended
your noble life in barbarous Kiushiu, a thousand years ago.
Added to which, if  you adhered to your own name,  you
would have every chance of having it set up in type at
Michigan, which is the next thing to Chicago, the shrine of
literature in another country.
But, Michizane, what a glorious haunt you have here !
One enters a carved gateway, and finds oneself on the shore
of the little artificial lake, surrounded by tea-houses of the
pattern one sees in Japanese pictures, consisting of a roof
and a table, which is only one's chair, and a string of Chinese
lanterns. The lake is, of course, willow-patterned up with
little islands and hog-backed bridges, the last of which is
the oddest bridge in Japan—a sort of croquet hoop with
very basso-relievo steps to climb it by. It is marvellously
picturesque, this bridge; for, in addition to its bold horseshoe curves, it stands right against a quaint heavy-browed
gateway, and is flanked on the one side by the white, and PLUM TREES OF THE SLEEPING DRAGON. 105
on the other side by the purple wistaria for which Kameido
is famous.
These Fuji, as the Japanese call them after their adored
mountain, have racemes—grape bunches—of blossoms four
feet long when they are out. They are out of being out just
now; but I can imagine them all the same, a3 I imagine
the tortoises and the triple-partition-tailed gold fishes whicb
won't come to the top of the water, while it is too muddy to
see to the bottom.
Kameido is so picturesque, without the appurtenances for
- which it is famous, that I am sure it must be irresistible with
them. After all, this is not the shrine of our friend Michizane,
but only the pleasure-ground in connection with it. Where
the pleasure-ground leaves off and the temple begins is always
rather a question in the Japanese " temenos "—ground cut
off for sacred uses. That clever observer, as well as clever
photographer, Farsari, in his guide-book, says that Japanese
temples, whether Shinto or Buddha, are practically playgrounds for children and parks for nursery maids. To put it
conversely, perhaps, the German Biergarten supplies the
Fatherlanders with all the Japanese gets from his temple and
his tea gardens combined. One thing is certain, that there is
no unbecoming frivolity in the Englishman's religious observances. He takes his religion as he takes his pleasure—
sadly; though his features do wear a beautiful smile of relief
as he is uncaged from his favourite tabernacle in time for hi?
Sunday's dinner, after two hours' wrestle with his sins,
collected with those of the rest of the congregation, and duly
slaughtered in the forty-five or fifty minutes' sermon by the
Rev. Unworthy Servant.
But to get to Kameido; I mean that part of this straggling
suburb which is the shrine of Michizane. Michizane'3 spirit
rejoices in a large open square, in which stand his temple and
the flying plum tree, and the marble cow and the tortoise
well, and the plum-blossom fountain, and the holy dancing
stage and the sacred ponies, but not "'the Plum Tree of the
Sleeping Dragon."
I thought the plum-blossom fountain was meant for a
lotus; it was a double blossom, and made a very, decent sort
of lotus, and in this Buddhistic land one is apt to find a lotus
lying in wait for one, like the pin in the waistband. I always
credit Buddha with anything as nearly related to a lotus as a
pineapple or a cauliflower.
But to get to Kameido.    His actual shrine was almost as 106
bare as most Shinto temples, which contain a looking-glass,
some paper lanterns, and strips of white paper (gohei), which
I suppose represent more valuable fabrics. But it contained
some paintings (done on panels) of the old sacred dances, and
had on its steps a villainous-looking descendant of those who
made another temple a den of thieves by selling doves. This
Japanese Shylock sold not doves but sparrows; and the form
of sacrifice is & pure one—releasing them at the foot of the
(bird rest ?) torii, which is found in every Shinto temple. He
had only a couple left, and I wished " the only Charles " to
have a lesson in mercy, so I asked Mr. Mayeda to buy them
for me. Mr. Mayeda objected. He knew that in Japan
three sparrows are sold for one farthing, and this unconscionable old descendant of Shem wanted two sen, about three
farthings, for one sparrow. My instinct for making a bargain
is a strong one, but just at that moment, standing on the
steps of the house of another god, the words of the Son of our
God came into my head, and I felt melted into being merciful
to the poor to the extent of three-halfpence. Then again the
instinct asserted itself, and I found myself taking my three-
halfpence out by photographing the sparrows as they put off
corrupt things for incorrupt, bounding from that sordid cage
up into the blue ether of a Japanese February morning.
Old Shylock puts on a leer of having diddled a white man,
and feels between his toes for another sparrow; but this
sparrow is fast putting off corruption in a surer manner, and
the opportunity of making two sen is lost, and the leer dies
away into a look of—is it hatred ?
Let us leave this ogre, and refresh ourselves with the sight
of the flying plum tree in its glistening white raiment of
blossom, more fragrant than frankincense and spikenard.
Here comes in a flower of poetry of which it is hard to convey
the full fragrance, until one has lived in Japan and seen what
the plum tree means to the gentle inhabitants of Dai Nippon.
At the passing of the year every Japanese household has at
least one dwarf plum tree in a blue-and-white porcelain jar,
generally displayed in the front room, which in poorer houses
and shops, is open to the street from early morning till the
shutters are drawn against thieves at night. These trees are
dwarfed by some mysterious process, and generally trained to
knot themselves like the fir trees. First come the white plum
trees, then come the pink—pink in all shades (the darkest
being the most valuable), single and double. Then the great
white narcissus lilies fill the whole house with fragrance; and PLUM TREES OF THE SLEEPING DRAGON. 107
they are very cheap. Even the utter foreigner, who can
speak no Japanese, can buy a beautiful plum tree for little
more than sixpence, and lilies, twenty stalks of them, for
three-halfpence in mid-winter.
Think of that half-crown-a-rose Piccadilly until your
mouth waters; or perhaps it would be more reasonable to say,
your nose.
But to return to Michizane. The plum tree has a
fragrance of home about it to all Nipponese; and he, the
greatest of scholars, and the great noble who had stood
next to the emperor himself in rank, was exiled from his
lovely palace in Kyoto, the ancient capital, to the inhospitable
island of Kiushiu, which is still a terra incognita to the
ordinary traveller. He was in poverty, and shortly afterwards starved to death; but heaven smiled upon the father of
that literary spirit which is the best feature of the Japanese
of to-day, and sent his favourite plum tree flying through the
air to him at Kiushiu.
Why heaven did not send rice to his starving body at the
same time as it sent plum blossom for his starving soul
remains a mystery; perhaps for the same reason that it did
not send one cohort of sinewy, sunburnt Romans to awe back
the cowardly myriads who were for murdering Jesus of
Nazareth. Michizane was starved to death as a malefactor,
and almost immediately afterwards immortalised as a benefactor to the human race, under that striking title, " Tem-
man-dai-ji-zai-ten-jin " — Perfectly free and heaven - filling
heavenly divinity. After his long incarceration upon that
inhospitable shore he was perfectly free now.
But to return to Kameido. Beyond the flying plum tree,
now much too decrepit for flying except in a chariot of fire,
is a white marble cow—the animal upon which it seems
Michizane took his exercise in exile. It is a very " ornary "
looking cow—what an Irishman might call a zebu with its
hump beheaded. What I noticed most about it was that on
one of the railings round it the artistic spirit of Japan had
carved its exact counterpart in miniature.
This is the land of the unexpected in ornamentation.
Time is nothing to the Japanese. He likes to whimsy over
work he is doing, putting in some elaborate detail here and
there which is not necessary, and for which he will not get
paid, but which he takes reposeful pleasure in doing.
But to return to Kameido. Close to the marble cow is the
stage upon which the sacred dances are executed ;  it consists
J 108
of a floor, a back, and a roof, the floor raised two feet. Next
this is the temple in which are kept the sacred ponies—
wooden counterfeits, one white and one black, on which the
god (it is not very specific what god) may ride, "if he takes
the fancy," as Mr. Mayeda phrases it, and is not too indignant
at the fraud practised upon him.
"But where are 'the Plum Trees of the Sleeping Dragon,'"
I ask;   " the gwa-rio-bai ? "
" Oh, they are a few cho away." A cho is about half a
" Then must we go out the same way as we came ? "
Mr. Mayeda says "Yes;" and after climbing over the
croquet-hoop bridge, we pause to take in the picturesqueness
of the outer court—picturesque though its noble wistarias
show only a bare trellis now. For they grow on the borders
of a pond, to use Satow's words, called " shin-ji-nu-ike," or
" the pond of the word heart," on account of its supposed
resemblance to the Chinese character for heart.
Outside the enclosure altogether, where our rikshas are
awaiting us, there is a woman selling little cardboard images
of the Japanese Cupid, with wings like those of his cousin
Eros, of Greece, but a skipping-page-boy sort of gait in his
flight more like that of his cousin Puck of New York. His
beauty is unfortunately spoiled by his having his mouth and
nose combined, and this composite member too like the
sealing-wax nozzle of a clay pipe. So I photograph him, but
will not buy him, preferring to propitiate his vendor by buying
the man whose body is a pumpkin.
And now, at last, we really are off to the garden of " the
Plum Trees of the Sleeping Dragon." It has seemed almost
as unattainable as the Garden of the Hesperides; and we
must pass some rice fields, looking like mirrors under the
sunny sky, and a queer little hamlet, before we draw up at
the gate of the garden. No dragon meets us to charge for
admission. But by and by, when we are within, tea will be
brought to us, and we shall give a few sen (halfpence) as a
cha-dai, whether we want it or not, and drink it. The
properly constituted Japanese does not charge admission, and
makes you a little present of tea which you do not want, and
you make him a slightly larger present of sen which you do
not want very much more. If he gives you four cups, and
the Japanese with you gives him five sen on your behalf, he
considers himself handsomely treated.
But the garden, please 1   At the doors we can buy " the PLUM TREES OF THE SLEEPING DRAGON. 109
plums of the sleeping dragon," pickled in neat little round
baskets, like crystallised fruits in Christian countries. But
here they are salted. Next there is a well of world-wide fame
for its purity in this city of impure water. It is in a sweet
little palm-shaded fern gully—a humble copy of those never-
to-be-forgotten fern gullies in the Domain at Melbourne,
humbly copied in their turn from inimitable gullies at Fern-
What are these under the shade of those noble forest
trees ? They look like rude tombstones made of rough slabs,
three or four feet high, with only their grave faces smoothed.
But their authors sleep not here. These stones are inscribed,
not with lying virtues, but with poems which are probably
bad but have been thought good. This is the entrance to the
inner garden of the poets, where a kind of Japanese Academy
once met. Inside, in the garden of gardens, where are most
of the five hundred trees of the dragon, one sees, fluttering on
every branch, pieces of the almost imperishable Japanese
paper, inscribed with poems which are not so good. Mr.
Mayeda, as representative of the firm which was publishing a
volume of poetry for me, insisted on my copying out one of
my poems for presentation. I could only remember one, so I
tried to make it appropriate by substituting " plum tree " for
1 wattle." I scribbled it out on a leaf of my note book, a
very common one, but Mr. Mayeda presented it to the
proprietor, for crucifixion, with as much ceremony as if it had
been engrossed on vellum.
The original runs:—
" Why should not wattle do
For mistletoe ? "
Asked one (they were but two)
Where wattles grow.
He was her lover, too,
Who urged her so :
" Why should not wattle do
For mistletoe ? "
A rose-cheek rosier grew;
Rose-lips breathed low,
" Since it is here, and you,
I hardly know
Why wattle should not do."
Mr. Mayeda told me the Japanese for " plum tree "—ume;
which for scansion balances wattle exactly. 110
At the threshold of this inner garden we pass two of the
dearest, queerest little thatched tea-houses, and then all of
a sudden we find ourselves right in the garden. I must not
call it of the Hesperides, for this is not West but East, very
much East, and Aurorides doesn't sound so well. I shall
call it the garden of Aurora; this is the land of dawn.
Nay, I will call it after Aurora's Memnon, for it has suddenly
become a garden of memories. For here, in this strange
Eastern land, my senses half intoxicated by the exquisite
beauty and scent of these patriarchal plum trees, with their
flowery white beards of blossom, I think of Bob, poor little
waif, conceived in sunny Australia and born in our English
winter, who gave up the battle which was too hard for his
frail little body this very baby-day of February five years
ago, sleeping now with his poor little face turned up to the
sky, which arches over my beloved Devonshire, where the
rooks will as early as this be calling the spring to awake.
Between the 25th day of November and the 1st day of
February was the space of his pilgrimage; but even in this
brief infancy he drew from the callous undertaker the remark
that he must make the coffin broader than usual for his
shoulders. Broad shoulders are for%battles! But Bob's
battle was a short one—born and dead within three months,
in that Devon whose Drakes and Raleighs have made her
name a trumpet-blast in the ears of every one who has
English blood in his veins.
I had found "the Plum Trees of the Sleeping Dragon."
Perhaps the sleeping dragon was old age, for these are but
old, old plum trees, bowed to the ground with years, and
twisted and gnarled like the dragon which writhes through
the whole art of China and Japan. Some were so old that
they could blossom no more, and were swathed in sere clothes
of soft lichen; but the rest were so smothered over with
white blossoms that one thought instinctively of Sir Francis
Hastings Doyle's " Drunken Private in the Buffs," going to
his death in China, while, filling his eye-sight from within—
" Long leagues of cherry blossoms gleamed
Like sheets of living snow "—
gleamed as they gleam in that garden of England, that
famous county of Kent, where the famous old regiment was
raised to fill the world with the fame of the Kentish Buffs.
The story goes that their fame melted even the official heart
of the commander-in-chief.    An order went forth from the
Horse Guards changing the buff facings, which had been
their proud distinguishing mark for a couple of centuries,
to white, to assimilate them to some other regiment with
which they were grouped. In their despair they appealed
to the bluff, good-hearted Duke, who hinted that there was
no order against their cleaning the white facings with their
buff-cleaning paste.
But to return for the last time to Kameido. While the
others were drinking in the poetry and beauty of the scene
(Mr. Mayeda is a poet himself), and my thoughts were lost
in another 1st of February, a funny little Japanese boy, who
looked about four years old, brought us four cups of tea ; and
some Japanese came in and sat about on the little tables
covered with immaculate matting, under the roof of blossoms.
All clapped hands for tea directly they entered, and pulling
out their tiny nutshells of pipes, smoked two whiffs. My
spirits went up again with the grotesqueness of the scene, and
I unstrapped my kodak, and took in at a shot the beautiful
cabbage-tree palm in the background, the plum-blossoming
thicket of the sleeping dragon, the quaint thatched tea-houses
with their steaming kettles and great bulbs of teapots, the
infant who acted as servant, the queer little Japanese men
squatting about in their queer little way with their little-boys'
pipes and teacups, and the innumerable little matting-covered
tables that were tables and chairs in one. CHAPTER  XIII.
If !
Written at Sea between Nagasaki and Shanghai.
February 11th.
IN Nagasaki harbour, made classic by that incorrect, highly
improper, and altogether delightful book, " Madame
Chrysantheme"! Local opinion at Nagasaki assures
me that the letterpress is even less correct than the illustrations, which any one who has been a week in Japan can see
are French figures in Japanese fancy dress ; incorrect, though
it shows the life that nine out of ten gay young bachelors
lead in Japan. And it is little more than the diary of a liaison.
But in Japan the whole proceeding is fairly decent and
I longed to see Nagasaki from the moment that I read
"Madame Chrysantheme" — there is such a fascinating
ingenuousness in the story—and I was not disappointed with
the reality. There was a French man-of-war lying in the
harbour. And in every narrow picturesque street, with stone
slab paving laid in the middle like tramway lines, and overhanging houses nearly meeting across the thoroughfare, like
those of the old fifteenth-century Mercery Lane which leads
to the Cathedral Close at Canterbury, I kwas prepared to see
the troops of little musumes, and the conspicuous figure of
" the very tall friend."
After living two whole months in Japan 1 have seen
nothing so queer as Nagasaki. Its very sampans are different
from other sampans, almost like gondolas in their grace and
shape, with their long blue beaks terminating in a red strip,
and their queer little kago-shaped cabins. Its junks are not
proper junks, but hardly differ from English luggers, except
in the four rattans run at intervals horizontally across their
sails. The coaling is done not by men but by women, with
huge wilted limpet-hats made of palm leaves, and bright blue-
and-white towels twisted round their hair, as clean as new
pins when the lighter-sampans bring them to their work
112 AT NAGASAKI. 113
(about a hundred to each boat). Their labour is made lighter
by filling the coal in straw baskets, not so large as their hats,
which are not hoisted but passed into the bunkers. There
seemed to be about four hundred of them, besides men, for
they filled four lighters, and made a clatter like a Board-
school doing a singing lesson, or a tree full of green parrakeets
in Australia. And the cemetery, of which anon, is as large
as the city of the dead—a rival of the Turkish cemetery at
Scutari, the most desirable place in Islam for the faithful to
be buried in.
Nagasaki harbour is surrounded by an amphitheatre of hills,
and is almost as serpentine, though on a larger scale, as the
queer little harbour at Boscastle, in Cornwall, the "Bos " of
Tennyson's " Bude and Bos." The higher hills are bald and
brown, the lower green and terraced like the shores of Lugano,
with fine Eastern bungalows replacing the cream-coloured
villas of the Italian lakes. On one's left, as one comes in, is
the graving dock, in which the Triomphante of Madame Chry-
santheme's lover lay during most of her brief married life.
And almost overshadowing it is the Hill of Venus, so called
not from any passage in little Kiku's story, or that of any
other worshipper in Japan, where her devotees embrace nearly
the whole female population, but from a prosaic observation
of the transit of her planet made by a party of American
astronomers in 1874.
Almost as soon as the ship stops, the foul-looking kites
begin to perch in her rigging like swallows on a telegraph
wire. And similarly festooned are two rather ungainly
steamers of Holt & Co., with their French blue funnels,
high and thin looking as the old Beaver's, the first steamer
that ploughed the Pacific fifty-six years ago. The German
gun boat, lying just outside the dock, and an imposing
French frigate out in the stream, having dressed their yards
with bunting in honour of the day, a Japanese Customs
holiday, which they will gravely salute with cannon when
twelve o'clock comes. Foreigners in Dai Nippon burn
powder and suspend business on any provocation, from the
Emperor of Germany's birthday to the Chinese New Year,
which indeed they observe with two or three holidays.
They cannot attend to their own business without their
How lovely Nagasaki looks on a sunny morning, with its
well-wooded waves of green hills, which lap the harbour,
and its junks, and its sampans, and its bungalows.    Of the
l 114
native town one can see nothing as one steams in, for it lies
at the back of one of the hills, and is by far the most picturesque we have seen yet; for its principal temple, O-Suwa,
is not a temple, but a village of temples, and its cemetery,
as has already been said, quite a city of the dead.
Nagasaki is interesting from the very entrance of its
harbour; for there rises abruptly the little island of Pappen-
berg, called by the natives Takaboko, from which, two or
three centuries ago, forty-six thousand (according to one
authority) native Christians were flung, after having been
subjected to horrible torture, because they refused to trample
on the cross. The entrance of the harbour is only a quarter
of a mile wide.
The cemetery is, I think, the most beautiful I have ever
seen. It occupies the whole back of the hill which shuts the
native town from view, and is laid out in countless terraces,
some long, some little, each with its queer little row of
votive tablets and images of Buddha in one or other of his
impersonations; some of them licheny with age, some of
them with fresh flowers (at this season of the year narcissus
and plum blossom, chiefly) in porcelain vases or bamboo
joints, in front of them. Among them rise stately camphor
woods, quaint cryptomerias, and little groves of bamboo,
while the walls which divide them are full of ferns of many
varieties, some of them prized inmates of hothouses in
England. The whole is more impressive, with its harvest-
field of masonry, tombstones, and votive images, than the
villa of Hadrian at Tivoli, though of course put in the shade
by the ruins of the Palatine. Only one saw no mourning;
for to the Japanese death is a happy release from a life in
which he works like an animal for next to nothing, and has
next to nothing to eat, and has nothing but his fingers
warm in winter.
There were signs of recent burials, too ; we saw two kagos
made of frail white wood deposited over recent graves, with
various offerings underneath them, and the gold and silver
paper lotus flowers used in funeral processions, and a queer
little earthenware saucer (one broken) in each, containing
some suspicious - looking ashes. Were they part of the
cremated body? For this is a Buddhist cemetery, and the
Buddhist uses the crematory before the cemetery. As we
were coming down we met a Japanese body on its way to the
chariot of fire. It had only half a dozen or so of mourners,
perhaps a dozen, and was being carried in an ordinary hack
ii y AT NAGASAKI. 115
kago. I wondered if this would be purified in any way before
it was used for living tenants again.
Some of the terraces looked like miniatures of the great
Altan at Heidelberg, and others like miniatures of the
cyclopean castle walls of Tokyo.
A most comical old lady had attached herself to our party
in the steamer in which we had come over from America.
She had lived a number of years in what she called Porree
—meaning Paris. She has a black fringe (her real hair is
very grey), plastered down on her forehead within half an
inch of her nose; and to keep up the illusion of Porree, she
drapes a black lace Spanish mantilla over her head and
round her shoulders. She always wears black, and a simper
which is meant to imply that she is still young, and cannot
help feeling a little giddy pleasure when she is spoken to.
I was thirty-four last week, and am the only young man on
board the ship, except the officers, and they can none of them
get off duty but the doctor, who is a special friend of mine,
and came with me for the day. In spite of her residence in
Porree, she is an astonishingly ignorant and foolish old
woman, as a sample of her conversation with the riksha-man,
who had constituted himself our guide, will prove.
She was leaning on his arm all over the hill of the dead,
which she insisted on climbing; half, I shrewdly suspect,
from her love of young men's company, half because she was
not quite sure that even the peaceable and civilised Japanese
might not kill her and eat her if she were left alone with no
protection beyond one riksha-man for half an horir.
" Do many people die here ? " she inquired.
He assured her that they did, that it was quite a usual
thing; adding, in rather pigeony English, "Japanese man,
supposing him Buddhist, him catch fire six o'clock, after,
small house top of mountain, puttee man in, makee fire—
day time too muchee smell—Japanese man no likee smell
before dinner."
" Do they burn them before, or after they are dead ? " she
inquired, with a profuse introduction of " Allee samee," which
she thought would make things clearer to the Japanese intellect.
" No burn before dead."
11 suppose they wouldn't be allowed to, would they ? "
" No burn in Nagasaki before dead," he replied, after some
hesitation, with characteristic Japanese caution.
" Ah ! " she said, " poor things "—the drift of which may
seem a little complex. 116
The O-Suwa, the great Shinto temple of Nagasaki, known
to foreigners as the Temple of the Bronze Horse, is also very
striking, from its vast extent. It covers a whole hill-side,
and recalled to our old-woman-of-the-sea " the Rigi-kulm at
Heidelberg." She meant the Molkenthur. The bronze horse
is itself not much, quite as much like a mule as a horse, and
no bigger; it is said to have replaced a much finer one. But
the temple is a superb one; very simple, as all Shinto temples
are, but beautiful from the chaste design and mossy timber of
its roof. For it leads from one shrine to another, up one
stately flight of steps after another; each elevation, each
turn, revealing something new and strange. It is like reading
the " Earthly Paradise." And the effect is heightened by
white-robed priests gliding past, to disappear into some holy
of holies behind a curtain of white silk, or leaving their huge
glossy black shoes, a sort of shapeless French sabots, outside
the little chamber (with its raised matting floor and open
front, like the humbler Japanese shops) which forms the
priests' room here. One priest was taking whiffs from his
tiny Japanese pipe; one warming his hands over a hibachi,
though it wasn't in the least cold; one reading, not from
books, but from a great bunch of white wooden slabs, about
twenty-four inches long by two inches wide and half an inch
thick; and one looking inquisitively at the impertinently
inquisitive strangers wh°were examining them as if they
were a rare kind of bird.
The climax of this great mountain of temples—called a
temple—is a double temple, connected by a sloping gallery
(with an opening about two feet wide running its whole
length, just below the roof), for all the world like a little bit
of the famous wooden bridge at Lucerne with the Dance of
Shinto temples are extremely simple, their remarkable
beauty consisting in the glossy thatch and mossy timber
of their beetling roofs, and in their exquisite curves and
Mystery is kept up by curtains reaching not quite to the
floor, on which no one may stand shod. " Take off thy
shoes, for this is holy ground "—or, for this is clean white
In the first courtyard, at the edge of the first huge flight
of steps, are two fine " daimio lanterns " of blue-and-white
porcelain of the famous Arita ware (Arita is near Nagasaki),
with a great white dragonish serpent winding round their AT NAGASAKI. 117
plinths ; and two plain old-fashioned iron lanterns, someth:ng
like a Roundhead's helmet, besides the bronze horse.
Our delights and surprises were not by any means over
when we quitted the temple, for at the back of it, after
passing along a broad terrace bordered with tea-housss,
where one kept looking for Kiku and the other little musumes
taking tea and sweets, we came to the Temple Grove—
a veritable grove, through which the noonday sun, which
just then shone out brightly, could only flicker—a grove of
stately forest trees of camphor-wood, tall cryptomerias, and
camellias fifty feet high in full bloom (mostly dark red
single blossoms), carpeted with lovely tangles of fern and
dwarf bamboo, and, I daresay, many a wild flower when the
season comes on.
One of our riksha-men, No. 133, who could speak excellent English, had constituted himself our guide. I give
his number for the benefit of future visitors, as his stand is on
the Bund, where the sampans land from the steamers. He is
not more dishonest than the rest, as will be seen from his
stating that half a day of 4 hours was 50 sen, when the tariff
says half a day of 6 hours costs 25 sen, and a whole day of
12 hours costs only 45 sen.
No. 133 cut himself a hook from a bamboo clump, and
boldly gathered a fine bunch of camellias for the old lady,
who stuck them into her waistband. No one seemed to
think his action odd or unconstitutional. He likewise
helped her to a good large cutting of plum tree (for the
From the top, through the vista of the trees, one gets
delicious glimpses of the winding, silvery harbour, with its
archipelago of ships and junks, and its bungalows and
cemetery-covered hills. Far below is the Triomphante's dock.
It was this very temple of O-Suwa that was such a rendezvous of Madame Chrysantheme's and the other musumes,
and the French officers who husbanded them. I can imagine
how fairy-like it would look were it lit with great red
lanterns for a festival, and full of Japanese women in gala
dress, with their hair done with unusual elegance—a forest
of gay pins and flowers.
In Japan, where incontinence is so ordinary, these occasions recall the Arabian nights alike in gorgeousness and
Kiku's lover missed a very great deal in not giving more
time to the shops in Nagasaki, for it has capital curio shops 1
(containing a much more picturesque assortment than the
cheaper curio shops at Tokyo and Yokohama), and shops
for the sale of Arita and Imari porcelain, and tortoise-shell
The tortoise-shell is dearer than it is at Naples ; at least
the old lady told all the vendors of it so, while depreciating
sundry magnificent pins intended for the glorification of her
top-knot—first a torii, then a spread-out fan, and then an
imperial crown. Perhaps she hoped to be taken for a princess
travelling incognito. Arita ware is very large. She went
to the principal shop, and saw vases 7 ft. high, and proportionately large. These were 350 yen (between £50 and
£Q0) each, first price, but probably the proprietor would
have taken half. He offered her a pair of 3 ft. high for only
4 yen, about 12s. 6d.; even these were inconveniently large, as
she remarked with more pertinence than usual. I don't know
why in the mischief she priced them, unless she thought it
would add to her importance, this apparent contemplation of
purchasing something so large. They also make bamboo
ware in Nagasaki on much the same scale.
We acquired a floral tour de force very cheap. An exquisite basket, with an arching handle about 16 in. high, cost
us, lid and all, 5 sen, and 5 branches of lilies and 2 of plum
blossom, 3 sen—about 3d. all told. The glorious ferns we
had pulled, and a spray of Japanese ivy round the handle,
arranged by Miss Aroostook's deft fingers, produced a great
Boulevard des Italiens nosegay basket, that would have cost
50 francs in Porree, so Madame said, with the gratifying
result of its being presented to her. She had it carried in
front of her in a riksha to the Belle Vue Hotel, where we
lunched, and probably coaxed herself all the way with the
idea that she was a prima donna.
The Belle Vue's only recommendation seemed to be a row
of white porcelain flower-pots, without blossom, in front of
the doorsteps. The other hotels were said to be worse. This
was bad, dear, and slow. It took us an hour and ten minutes
to get lunch. We could have had a better one in half the -
time by going off to the steamer and back again. Added to
which it was being painted; and we all carried away our
impressions of the place.
Nagasaki, your temples and cemeteries say, " Rest here
awhile, Sir Painter and Sir Poet, to draw inspiration from
these sylvan and carven beauties." Your hotels say, " Rest?
—Where ? "
I wonder shall I be able to keep away from Bon Matsuri.
What is Bon Matsuri ? A Campo Santo festival, which puts
All Souls' Day at San Miniato in the shade, for all its associations with mediaBval Florence. I have been fascinated by
the description of it in the excellent little guide-book by Mr.
Farsari, whose photographs of Japan are known all over the
" Every year, from the 15th to the 18th of August, the
whole native population of Nagasaki celebrates the feast in
honour of the dead—l Bon Matsuri.' On the first night the
tombs of all who died in the past year are illuminated with
bright-coloured paper lanterns ; on the second and third night
all graves without exception are so illuminated, and all the
families of Nagasaki instal themselves in the cemeteries,
where they give themselves up, in honour of their ancestors,
to plentiful libations. The burst of uproarious gaieties resounds from terrace to terrace, and rockets fired at intervals
seem to lend to the giddy human noises the echoes of the
celestial vault. The European residents repair to the ships
in the bay, to see from the distance the fairy spectacle of
the hills all resplendent with rose-coloured lights. But on the
-third night's vigil, suddenly, at about two o'clock in the
morning, are seen long processions of bright lanterns descending from the heights and grouping themselves on the shores I
of the bay, while the mountains gradually return to obscurity
and silence. It is fated that the dead embark and disappear
before twilight. The living have plaited their thousands of
little ships of straw, each provisioned with some fruit and a
few pieces of money. The frail embarkations are charged
with all the coloured lanterns which were used for the illuminations of the cemeteries. The small sails of matting are
spread to the wind, and the morning breeze scatters them
round the bay, where they are not long in taking fire. It is
thus that the entire flotilla is consumed, tracing in all
•directions large trails of fire. The dead depart rapidly ; soon
the last ship has foundered, the last light is extinguished, and
the last soul has taken its departure from this earth."
Yesterday we passed Shimonosaki, over which recent
philanthropy has been talking Pecksniff. The scene of the
historical engagement lies round a beautiful circular bay at
the end of the Inland Sea, from which it can be entered by
large vessels only by a very narrow and devious channel. A
modern fort on a very high hill on one arm commands both
the bay and the sea.    This is not the fort which fired on the
JU 120
ships. That lies on the north side, just above the busy
village, and is now abandoned, its glacis shaggy with thickets.
Two or three large English steamers are lying here, being
permitted to trade under certain regulations; and a never-
ending fleet of junks is wending round the sides of the bay to
avoid the tide, for the whole Inland Sea is filled and emptied
through this narrow strait. Though our engines are working
at fourteen and a half knots we can only crawl through, and
the daylight is dying—and the channel, with the exception of
one beacon, is only marked by buoys, and is very narrow.
So if daylight fails us, down goes the anchor till it chooses to
come back.
However, we did pass the last buoy with the last glimmer,
and got to Nagasaki by daylight, as has been seen. To-night,
at four, we are to get up steam for Shanghai, cross the open
sea once more, and thirty-six hours later we should be gUding
majestically up the fourth river in the world in magnitude,
the great river of China, the Yang-tze-kiang, to the capital of
European comfort in the East. CHAPTER   XIV.
Hong Kong, February ISth.
THE Japanese woman begins at about four years of age,
when she assumes the maternal function of carrying the
next baby but one swaddled on her back. She does
not, however, cease to be a child, for she plays at ball-
bouncing, battledore, skipping rope, and other noisy, shaky
games, with the baby sleeping peacefully through it all,
nodding its head like a pendulum. She begins dressing for
society about the same time, in the most fantastic colours,
and the richest fabrics that her parents can afford, with everything that a grown-up person would have, in miniature.
I have seen a little girl, destined for the profession of
geisha, or singing girl, who might have been anything from
seven to ten, with quantities of hair worked up with pomatum
into an elaborate coiffure that looked like a great ebony
butterfly, stuck with flowers, and coral and tortoise-shell
hairpins, and high gilt combs. Her face was powdered, her
lips carmined, her eyebrows shaved in the most approved
mode. And she was dressed in flowered silk, with an obe of
stiff and precious brocade. She was decked like this to be
sold for a term of years. This dressing up was her mother's
final attention.
The lower-class Japanese women always interested me
most. They wear more Oriental-looking clothes. The
higher-class women, who adhere to the native custom, dress
in neutral colours—usually in parson's-wife grey, but sometimes in exquisite fawns and doves. But this rather heightens
the effect of their delicate complexions, delicate figures, slender
necks, and thin, refined-looking faces.
The great ladies are generally foolish enough to dress like
Europeans—Germans for preference. It is painful to think
of the effect of an ill-made and totally unfitting gown, of a
pattern obsolete in Lippe-Detmold, on a little pear-shaped
Japanese.    But the Empress and one or two others look well
in European dress. The Japanese have the charm of looking
very young until they look very old. In connection with a
woman's wearing of European dress, it must be remembered
that, if she does, she is accorded by her husband the respect
paid to Western women; whereas in native costume she is
little better than a kindly treated slave.
But the women of the people! What jolly little things
they are, whether in their working dress of blue coolie cotton,
with a pale blue towel folded round the head like a sun bonnet;
or in holiday bravery, tripping t