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Unbeaten Tracks in Japan by Isabella L. Bird

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This etext was prepared by David Price, email ccx074@coventry.ac.uk
from the 1911 John Murray edition. Second proofing by Kate Ruffell.



Having been recommended to leave home, in April 1878, in order to
recruit my health by means which had proved serviceable before, I
decided to visit Japan, attracted less by the reputed excellence of
its climate than by the certainty that it possessed, in an especial
degree, those sources of novel and sustained interest which conduce
so essentially to the enjoyment and restoration of a solitary
health-seeker. The climate disappointed me, but, though I found
the country a study rather than a rapture, its interest exceeded my
largest expectations.

This is not a "Book on Japan," but a narrative of travels in Japan,
and an attempt to contribute something to the sum of knowledge of
the present condition of the country, and it was not till I had
travelled for some months in the interior of the main island and in
Yezo that I decided that my materials were novel enough to render
the contribution worth making. From Nikko northwards my route was
altogether off the beaten track, and had never been traversed in
its entirety by any European. I lived among the Japanese, and saw
their mode of living, in regions unaffected by European contact.
As a lady travelling alone, and the first European lady who had
been seen in several districts through which my route lay, my
experiences differed more or less widely from those of preceding
travellers; and I am able to offer a fuller account of the
aborigines of Yezo, obtained by actual acquaintance with them, than
has hitherto been given. These are my chief reasons for offering
this volume to the public.

It was with some reluctance that I decided that it should consist
mainly of letters written on the spot to my sister and a circle of
personal friends, for this form of publication involves the
sacrifice of artistic arrangement and literary treatment, and
necessitates a certain amount of egotism; but, on the other hand,
it places the reader in the position of the traveller, and makes
him share the vicissitudes of travel, discomfort, difficulty, and
tedium, as well as novelty and enjoyment. The "beaten tracks,"
with the exception of Nikko, have been dismissed in a few
sentences, but where their features have undergone marked changes
within a few years, as in the case of Tokiyo (Yedo), they have been
sketched more or less slightly. Many important subjects are
necessarily passed over.

In Northern Japan, in the absence of all other sources of
information, I had to learn everything from the people themselves,
through an interpreter, and every fact had to be disinterred by
careful labour from amidst a mass of rubbish. The Ainos supplied
the information which is given concerning their customs, habits,
and religion; but I had an opportunity of comparing my notes with
some taken about the same time by Mr. Heinrich Von Siebold of the
Austrian Legation, and of finding a most satisfactory agreement on
all points.

Some of the Letters give a less pleasing picture of the condition
of the peasantry than the one popularly presented, and it is
possible that some readers may wish that it had been less
realistically painted; but as the scenes are strictly
representative, and I neither made them nor went in search of them,
I offer them in the interests of truth, for they illustrate the
nature of a large portion of the material with which the Japanese
Government has to work in building up the New Civilisation.

Accuracy has been my first aim, but the sources of error are many,
and it is from those who have studied Japan the most carefully, and
are the best acquainted with its difficulties, that I shall receive
the most kindly allowance if, in spite of carefulness, I have
fallen into mistakes.

The Transactions of the English and German Asiatic Societies of
Japan, and papers on special Japanese subjects, including "A Budget
of Japanese Notes," in the Japan Mail and Tokiyo Times, gave me
valuable help; and I gratefully acknowledge the assistance afforded
me in many ways by Sir Harry S. Parkes, K.C.B., and Mr. Satow of
H.B.M.'s Legation, Principal Dyer, Mr. Chamberlain of the Imperial
Naval College, Mr. F. V. Dickins, and others, whose kindly interest
in my work often encouraged me when I was disheartened by my lack
of skill; but, in justice to these and other kind friends, I am
anxious to claim and accept the fullest measure of personal
responsibility for the opinions expressed, which, whether right or
wrong, are wholly my own.

The illustrations, with the exception of three, which are by a
Japanese artist, have been engraved from sketches of my own or
Japanese photographs.

I am painfully conscious of the defects of this volume, but I
venture to present it to the public in the hope that, in spite of
its demerits, it may be accepted as an honest attempt to describe
things as I saw them in Japan, on land journeys of more than 1400

Since the letters passed through the press, the beloved and only
sister to whom, in the first instance, they were written, to whose
able and careful criticism they owe much, and whose loving interest
was the inspiration alike of my travels and of my narratives of
them, has passed away.



First View of Japan--A Vision of Fujisan--Japanese Sampans--
"Pullman Cars"--Undignified Locomotion--Paper Money--The Drawbacks
of Japanese Travelling.

May 21.

Eighteen days of unintermitted rolling over "desolate rainy seas"
brought the "City of Tokio" early yesterday morning to Cape King,
and by noon we were steaming up the Gulf of Yedo, quite near the
shore. The day was soft and grey with a little faint blue sky,
and, though the coast of Japan is much more prepossessing than most
coasts, there were no startling surprises either of colour or form.
Broken wooded ridges, deeply cleft, rise from the water's edge,
gray, deep-roofed villages cluster about the mouths of the ravines,
and terraces of rice cultivation, bright with the greenness of
English lawns, run up to a great height among dark masses of upland
forest. The populousness of the coast is very impressive, and the
gulf everywhere was equally peopled with fishing-boats, of which we
passed not only hundreds, but thousands, in five hours. The coast
and sea were pale, and the boats were pale too, their hulls being
unpainted wood, and their sails pure white duck. Now and then a
high-sterned junk drifted by like a phantom galley, then we
slackened speed to avoid exterminating a fleet of triangular-
looking fishing-boats with white square sails, and so on through
the grayness and dumbness hour after hour.

For long I looked in vain for Fujisan, and failed to see it, though
I heard ecstasies all over the deck, till, accidentally looking
heavenwards instead of earthwards, I saw far above any possibility
of height, as one would have thought, a huge, truncated cone of
pure snow, 13,080 feet above the sea, from which it sweeps upwards
in a glorious curve, very wan, against a very pale blue sky, with
its base and the intervening country veiled in a pale grey mist.
{1} It was a wonderful vision, and shortly, as a vision, vanished.
Except the cone of Tristan d'Acunha--also a cone of snow--I never
saw a mountain rise in such lonely majesty, with nothing near or
far to detract from its height and grandeur. No wonder that it is
a sacred mountain, and so dear to the Japanese that their art is
never weary of representing it. It was nearly fifty miles off when
we first saw it.

The air and water were alike motionless, the mist was still and
pale, grey clouds lay restfully on a bluish sky, the reflections of
the white sails of the fishing-boats scarcely quivered; it was all
so pale, wan, and ghastly, that the turbulence of crumpled foam
which we left behind us, and our noisy, throbbing progress, seemed
a boisterous intrusion upon sleeping Asia.

The gulf narrowed, the forest-crested hills, the terraced ravines,
the picturesque grey villages, the quiet beach life, and the pale
blue masses of the mountains of the interior, became more visible.
Fuji retired into the mist in which he enfolds his grandeur for
most of the summer; we passed Reception Bay, Perry Island, Webster
Island, Cape Saratoga, and Mississippi Bay--American nomenclature
which perpetuates the successes of American diplomacy--and not far
from Treaty Point came upon a red lightship with the words "Treaty
Point" in large letters upon her. Outside of this no foreign
vessel may anchor.

The bustle among my fellow-passengers, many of whom were returning
home, and all of whom expected to be met by friends, left me at
leisure, as I looked at unattractive, unfamiliar Yokohama and the
pale grey land stretched out before me, to speculate somewhat sadly
on my destiny on these strange shores, on which I have not even an
acquaintance. On mooring we were at once surrounded by crowds of
native boats called by foreigners sampans, and Dr. Gulick, a near
relation of my Hilo friends, came on board to meet his daughter,
welcomed me cordially, and relieved me of all the trouble of
disembarkation. These sampans are very clumsy-looking, but are
managed with great dexterity by the boatmen, who gave and received
any number of bumps with much good nature, and without any of the
shouting and swearing in which competitive boatmen usually indulge.

The partially triangular shape of these boats approaches that of a
salmon-fisher's punt used on certain British rivers. Being floored
gives them the appearance of being absolutely flat-bottomed; but,
though they tilt readily, they are very safe, being heavily built
and fitted together with singular precision with wooden bolts and a
few copper cleets. They are SCULLED, not what we should call
rowed, by two or four men with very heavy oars made of two pieces
of wood working on pins placed on outrigger bars. The men scull
standing and use the thigh as a rest for the oar. They all wear a
single, wide-sleeved, scanty, blue cotton garment, not fastened or
girdled at the waist, straw sandals, kept on by a thong passing
between the great toe and the others, and if they wear any head-
gear, it is only a wisp of blue cotton tied round the forehead.
The one garment is only an apology for clothing, and displays lean
concave chests and lean muscular limbs. The skin is very yellow,
and often much tattooed with mythical beasts. The charge for
sampans is fixed by tariff, so the traveller lands without having
his temper ruffled by extortionate demands.

The first thing that impressed me on landing was that there were no
loafers, and that all the small, ugly, kindly-looking, shrivelled,
bandy-legged, round-shouldered, concave-chested, poor-looking
beings in the streets had some affairs of their own to mind. At
the top of the landing-steps there was a portable restaurant, a
neat and most compact thing, with charcoal stove, cooking and
eating utensils complete; but it looked as if it were made by and
for dolls, and the mannikin who kept it was not five feet high. At
the custom-house we were attended to by minute officials in blue
uniforms of European pattern and leather boots; very civil
creatures, who opened and examined our trunks carefully, and
strapped them up again, contrasting pleasingly with the insolent
and rapacious officials who perform the same duties at New York.

Outside were about fifty of the now well-known jin-ti-ki-shas, and
the air was full of a buzz produced by the rapid reiteration of
this uncouth word by fifty tongues. This conveyance, as you know,
is a feature of Japan, growing in importance every day. It was
only invented seven years ago, and already there are nearly 23,000
in one city, and men can make so much more by drawing them than by
almost any kind of skilled labour, that thousands of fine young men
desert agricultural pursuits and flock into the towns to make
draught-animals of themselves, though it is said that the average
duration of a man's life after he takes to running is only five
years, and that the runners fall victims in large numbers to
aggravated forms of heart and lung disease. Over tolerably level
ground a good runner can trot forty miles a day, at a rate of about
four miles an hour. They are registered and taxed at 8s. a year
for one carrying two persons, and 4s. for one which carries one
only, and there is a regular tariff for time and distance.

The kuruma, or jin-ri-ki-sha, {2} consists of a light perambulator
body, an adjustable hood of oiled paper, a velvet or cloth lining
and cushion, a well for parcels under the seat, two high slim
wheels, and a pair of shafts connected by a bar at the ends. The
body is usually lacquered and decorated according to its owner's
taste. Some show little except polished brass, others are
altogether inlaid with shells known as Venus's ear, and others are
gaudily painted with contorted dragons, or groups of peonies,
hydrangeas, chrysanthemums, and mythical personages. They cost
from 2 pounds upwards. The shafts rest on the ground at a steep
incline as you get in--it must require much practice to enable one
to mount with ease or dignity--the runner lifts them up, gets into
them, gives the body a good tilt backwards, and goes off at a smart
trot. They are drawn by one, two, or three men, according to the
speed desired by the occupants. When rain comes on, the man puts
up the hood, and ties you and it closely up in a covering of oiled
paper, in which you are invisible. At night, whether running or
standing still, they carry prettily-painted circular paper lanterns
18 inches long. It is most comical to see stout, florid, solid-
looking merchants, missionaries, male and female, fashionably-
dressed ladies, armed with card cases, Chinese compradores, and
Japanese peasant men and women flying along Main Street, which is
like the decent respectable High Street of a dozen forgotten
country towns in England, in happy unconsciousness of the
ludicrousness of their appearance; racing, chasing, crossing each
other, their lean, polite, pleasant runners in their great hats
shaped like inverted bowls, their incomprehensible blue tights, and
their short blue over-shirts with badges or characters in white
upon them, tearing along, their yellow faces streaming with
perspiration, laughing, shouting, and avoiding collisions by a mere

After a visit to the Consulate I entered a kuruma and, with two
ladies in two more, was bowled along at a furious pace by a
laughing little mannikin down Main Street--a narrow, solid, well-
paved street with well-made side walks, kerb-stones, and gutters,
with iron lamp-posts, gas-lamps, and foreign shops all along its
length--to this quiet hotel recommended by Sir Wyville Thomson,
which offers a refuge from the nasal twang of my fellow-voyagers,
who have all gone to the caravanserais on the Bund. The host is a
Frenchman, but he relies on a Chinaman; the servants are Japanese
"boys" in Japanese clothes; and there is a Japanese "groom of the
chambers" in faultless English costume, who perfectly appals me by
the elaborate politeness of his manner.

Almost as soon as I arrived I was obliged to go in search of Mr.
Fraser's office in the settlement; I say SEARCH, for there are no
names on the streets; where there are numbers they have no
sequence, and I met no Europeans on foot to help me in my
difficulty. Yokohama does not improve on further acquaintance. It
has a dead-alive look. It has irregularity without
picturesqueness, and the grey sky, grey sea, grey houses, and grey
roofs, look harmoniously dull. No foreign money except the Mexican
dollar passes in Japan, and Mr. Fraser's compradore soon
metamorphosed my English gold into Japanese satsu or paper money, a
bundle of yen nearly at par just now with the dollar, packets of
50, 20, and 10 sen notes, and some rouleaux of very neat copper
coins. The initiated recognise the different denominations of
paper money at a glance by their differing colours and sizes, but
at present they are a distracting mystery to me. The notes are
pieces of stiff paper with Chinese characters at the corners, near
which, with exceptionally good eyes or a magnifying glass, one can
discern an English word denoting the value. They are very neatly
executed, and are ornamented with the chrysanthemum crest of the
Mikado and the interlaced dragons of the Empire.

I long to get away into real Japan. Mr. Wilkinson, H.B.M.'s acting
consul, called yesterday, and was extremely kind. He thinks that
my plan for travelling in the interior is rather too ambitious, but
that it is perfectly safe for a lady to travel alone, and agrees
with everybody else in thinking that legions of fleas and the
miserable horses are the great drawbacks of Japanese travelling.

I. L. B.


Sir Harry Parkes--An "Ambassador's Carriage"--Cart Coolies.


To-day has been spent in making new acquaintances, instituting a
search for a servant and a pony, receiving many offers of help,
asking questions and receiving from different people answers which
directly contradict each other. Hours are early. Thirteen people
called on me before noon. Ladies drive themselves about the town
in small pony carriages attended by running grooms called bettos.
The foreign merchants keep kurumas constantly standing at their
doors, finding a willing, intelligent coolie much more serviceable
than a lazy, fractious, capricious Japanese pony, and even the
dignity of an "Ambassador Extraordinary and Minister
Plenipotentiary" is not above such a lowly conveyance, as I have
seen to-day. My last visitors were Sir Harry and Lady Parkes, who
brought sunshine and kindliness into the room, and left it behind
them. Sir Harry is a young-looking man scarcely in middle life,
slight, active, fair, blue-eyed, a thorough Saxon, with sunny hair
and a sunny smile, a sunshiny geniality in his manner, and bearing
no trace in his appearance of his thirty years of service in the
East, his sufferings in the prison at Peking, and the various
attempts upon his life in Japan. He and Lady Parkes were most
truly kind, and encourage me so heartily in my largest projects for
travelling in the interior, that I shall start as soon as I have
secured a servant. When they went away they jumped into kurumas,
and it was most amusing to see the representative of England
hurried down the street in a perambulator with a tandem of coolies.

As I look out of the window I see heavy, two-wheeled man-carts
drawn and pushed by four men each, on which nearly all goods,
stones for building, and all else, are carried. The two men who
pull press with hands and thighs against a cross-bar at the end of
a heavy pole, and the two who push apply their shoulders to beams
which project behind, using their thick, smoothly-shaven skulls as
the motive power when they push their heavy loads uphill. Their
cry is impressive and melancholy. They draw incredible loads, but,
as if the toil which often makes every breath a groan or a gasp
were not enough, they shout incessantly with a coarse, guttural
grunt, something like Ha huida, Ho huida, wa ho, Ha huida, etc.

I. L. B.


Yedo and Tokiyo--The Yokohama Railroad--The Effect of Misfits--The
Plain of Yedo--Personal Peculiarities--First Impressions of Tokiyo-
-H. B. M.'s Legation--An English Home.

H.B.M.'s LEGATION, YEDO, May 24.

I have dated my letter Yedo, according to the usage of the British
Legation, but popularly the new name of Tokiyo, or Eastern Capital,
is used, Kiyoto, the Mikado's former residence, having received the
name of Saikio, or Western Capital, though it has now no claim to
be regarded as a capital at all. Yedo belongs to the old regime
and the Shogunate, Tokiyo to the new regime and the Restoration,
with their history of ten years. It would seem an incongruity to
travel to Yedo by railway, but quite proper when the destination is

The journey between the two cities is performed in an hour by an
admirable, well-metalled, double-track railroad, 18 miles long,
with iron bridges, neat stations, and substantial roomy termini,
built by English engineers at a cost known only to Government, and
opened by the Mikado in 1872. The Yokohama station is a handsome
and suitable stone building, with a spacious approach, ticket-
offices on our plan, roomy waiting-rooms for different classes--
uncarpeted, however, in consideration of Japanese clogs--and
supplied with the daily papers. There is a department for the
weighing and labelling of luggage, and on the broad, covered, stone
platform at both termini a barrier with turnstiles, through which,
except by special favour, no ticketless person can pass. Except
the ticket-clerks, who are Chinese, and the guards and engine-
drivers, who are English, the officials are Japanese in European
dress. Outside the stations, instead of cabs, there are kurumas,
which carry luggage as well as people. Only luggage in the hand is
allowed to go free; the rest is weighed, numbered, and charged for,
a corresponding number being given to its owner to present at his
destination. The fares are--3d class, an ichibu, or about 1s.; 2d
class, 60 sen, or about 2s. 4d.; and 1st class, a yen, or about 3s.
8d. The tickets are collected as the passengers pass through the
barrier at the end of the journey. The English-built cars differ
from ours in having seats along the sides, and doors opening on
platforms at both ends. On the whole, the arrangements are
Continental rather than British. The first-class cars are
expensively fitted up with deeply-cushioned, red morocco seats, but
carry very few passengers, and the comfortable seats, covered with
fine matting, of the 2d class are very scantily occupied; but the
3d class vans are crowded with Japanese, who have taken to
railroads as readily as to kurumas. This line earns about
$8,000,000 a year.

The Japanese look most diminutive in European dress. Each garment
is a misfit, and exaggerates the miserable physique and the
national defects of concave chests and bow legs. The lack of
"complexion" and of hair upon the face makes it nearly impossible
to judge of the ages of men. I supposed that all the railroad
officials were striplings of 17 or 18, but they are men from 25 to
40 years old.

It was a beautiful day, like an English June day, but hotter, and
though the Sakura (wild cherry) and its kin, which are the glory of
the Japanese spring, are over, everything is a young, fresh green
yet, and in all the beauty of growth and luxuriance. The immediate
neighbourhood of Yokohama is beautiful, with abrupt wooded hills,
and small picturesque valleys; but after passing Kanagawa the
railroad enters upon the immense plain of Yedo, said to be 90 miles
from north to south, on whose northern and western boundaries faint
blue mountains of great height hovered dreamily in the blue haze,
and on whose eastern shore for many miles the clear blue wavelets
of the Gulf of Yedo ripple, always as then, brightened by the white
sails of innumerable fishing-boats. On this fertile and fruitful
plain stand not only the capital, with its million of inhabitants,
but a number of populous cities, and several hundred thriving
agricultural villages. Every foot of land which can be seen from
the railroad is cultivated by the most careful spade husbandry, and
much of it is irrigated for rice. Streams abound, and villages of
grey wooden houses with grey thatch, and grey temples with
strangely curved roofs, are scattered thickly over the landscape.
It is all homelike, liveable, and pretty, the country of an
industrious people, for not a weed is to be seen, but no very
striking features or peculiarities arrest one at first sight,
unless it be the crowds everywhere.

You don't take your ticket for Tokiyo, but for Shinagawa or
Shinbashi, two of the many villages which have grown together into
the capital. Yedo is hardly seen before Shinagawa is reached, for
it has no smoke and no long chimneys; its temples and public
buildings are seldom lofty; the former are often concealed among
thick trees, and its ordinary houses seldom reach a height of 20
feet. On the right a blue sea with fortified islands upon it,
wooded gardens with massive retaining walls, hundreds of fishing-
boats lying in creeks or drawn up on the beach; on the left a broad
road on which kurumas are hurrying both ways, rows of low, grey
houses, mostly tea-houses and shops; and as I was asking "Where is
Yedo?" the train came to rest in the terminus, the Shinbashi
railroad station, and disgorged its 200 Japanese passengers with a
combined clatter of 400 clogs--a new sound to me. These clogs add
three inches to their height, but even with them few of the men
attained 5 feet 7 inches, and few of the women 5 feet 2 inches; but
they look far broader in the national costume, which also conceals
the defects of their figures. So lean, so yellow, so ugly, yet so
pleasant-looking, so wanting in colour and effectiveness; the women
so very small and tottering in their walk; the children so formal-
looking and such dignified burlesques on the adults, I feel as if I
had seen them all before, so like are they to their pictures on
trays, fans, and tea-pots. The hair of the women is all drawn away
from their faces, and is worn in chignons, and the men, when they
don't shave the front of their heads and gather their back hair
into a quaint queue drawn forward over the shaven patch, wear their
coarse hair about three inches long in a refractory undivided mop.

Davies, an orderly from the Legation, met me,--one of the escort
cut down and severely wounded when Sir H. Parkes was attacked in
the street of Kiyoto in March 1868 on his way to his first audience
of the Mikado. Hundreds of kurumas, and covered carts with four
wheels drawn by one miserable horse, which are the omnibuses of
certain districts of Tokiyo, were waiting outside the station, and
an English brougham for me, with a running betto. The Legation
stands in Kojimachi on very elevated ground above the inner moat of
the historic "Castle of Yedo," but I cannot tell you anything of
what I saw on my way thither, except that there were miles of dark,
silent, barrack-like buildings, with highly ornamental gateways,
and long rows of projecting windows with screens made of reeds--the
feudal mansions of Yedo--and miles of moats with lofty grass
embankments or walls of massive masonry 50 feet high, with kiosk-
like towers at the corners, and curious, roofed gateways, and many
bridges, and acres of lotus leaves. Turning along the inner moat,
up a steep slope, there are, on the right, its deep green waters,
the great grass embankment surmounted by a dismal wall overhung by
the branches of coniferous trees which surrounded the palace of the
Shogun, and on the left sundry yashikis, as the mansions of the
daimiyo were called, now in this quarter mostly turned into
hospitals, barracks, and Government offices. On a height, the most
conspicuous of them all, is the great red gateway of the yashiki,
now occupied by the French Military Mission, formerly the residence
of Ii Kamon no Kami, one of the great actors in recent historic
events, who was assassinated not far off, outside the Sakaruda gate
of the castle. Besides these, barracks, parade-grounds, policemen,
kurumas, carts pulled and pushed by coolies, pack-horses in straw
sandals, and dwarfish, slatternly-looking soldiers in European
dress, made up the Tokiyo that I saw between Shinbashi and the

H.B.M.'s Legation has a good situation near the Foreign Office,
several of the Government departments, and the residences of the
ministers, which are chiefly of brick in the English suburban villa
style. Within the compound, with a brick archway with the Royal
Arms upon it for an entrance, are the Minister's residence, the
Chancery, two houses for the two English Secretaries of Legation,
and quarters for the escort.

It is an English house and an English home, though, with the
exception of a venerable nurse, there are no English servants. The
butler and footman are tall Chinamen, with long pig-tails, black
satin caps, and long blue robes; the cook is a Chinaman, and the
other servants are all Japanese, including one female servant, a
sweet, gentle, kindly girl about 4 feet 5 in height, the wife of
the head "housemaid." None of the servants speak anything but the
most aggravating "pidgun" English, but their deficient speech is
more than made up for by the intelligence and service of the
orderly in waiting, who is rarely absent from the neighbourhood of
the hall door, and attends to the visitors' book and to all
messages and notes. There are two real English children of six and
seven, with great capacities for such innocent enjoyments as can be
found within the limits of the nursery and garden. The other
inmate of the house is a beautiful and attractive terrier called
"Rags," a Skye dog, who unbends "in the bosom of his family," but
ordinarily is as imposing in his demeanour as if he, and not his
master, represented the dignity of the British Empire.

The Japanese Secretary of Legation is Mr. Ernest Satow, whose
reputation for scholarship, especially in the department of
history, is said by the Japanese themselves to be the highest in
Japan {3}--an honourable distinction for an Englishman, and won by
the persevering industry of fifteen years. The scholarship
connected with the British Civil Service is not, however,
monopolised by Mr. Satow, for several gentlemen in the consular
service, who are passing through the various grades of student
interpreters, are distinguishing themselves not alone by their
facility in colloquial Japanese, but by their researches in various
departments of Japanese history, mythology, archaeology, and
literature. Indeed it is to their labours, and to those of a few
other Englishmen and Germans, that the Japanese of the rising
generation will be indebted for keeping alive not only the
knowledge of their archaic literature, but even of the manners and
customs of the first half of this century.

I. L. B.


"John Chinaman"--Engaging a Servant--First Impressions of Ito--A
Solemn Contract--The Food Question.

June 7.

I went to Yokohama for a week to visit Dr. and Mrs. Hepburn on the
Bluff. Bishop and Mrs. Burdon of Hong Kong were also guests, and
it was very pleasant.

One cannot be a day in Yokohama without seeing quite a different
class of orientals from the small, thinly-dressed, and usually
poor-looking Japanese. Of the 2500 Chinamen who reside in Japan,
over 1100 are in Yokohama, and if they were suddenly removed,
business would come to an abrupt halt. Here, as everywhere, the
Chinese immigrant is making himself indispensable. He walks
through the streets with his swinging gait and air of complete
self-complacency, as though he belonged to the ruling race. He is
tall and big, and his many garments, with a handsome brocaded robe
over all, his satin pantaloons, of which not much is seen, tight at
the ankles, and his high shoes, whose black satin tops are slightly
turned up at the toes, make him look even taller and bigger than he
is. His head is mostly shaven, but the hair at the back is plaited
with a quantity of black purse twist into a queue which reaches to
his knees, above which, set well back, he wears a stiff, black
satin skull-cap, without which he is never seen. His face is very
yellow, his long dark eyes and eyebrows slope upwards towards his
temples, he has not the vestige of a beard, and his skin is shiny.
He looks thoroughly "well-to-do." He is not unpleasing-looking,
but you feel that as a Celestial he looks down upon you. If you
ask a question in a merchant's office, or change your gold into
satsu, or take your railroad or steamer ticket, or get change in a
shop, the inevitable Chinaman appears. In the street he swings
past you with a purpose in his face; as he flies past you in a
kuruma he is bent on business; he is sober and reliable, and is
content to "squeeze" his employer rather than to rob him--his one
aim in life is money. For this he is industrious, faithful, self-
denying; and he has his reward.

Several of my kind new acquaintances interested themselves about
the (to me) vital matter of a servant interpreter, and many
Japanese came to "see after the place." The speaking of
intelligible English is a sine qua non, and it was wonderful to
find the few words badly pronounced and worse put together, which
were regarded by the candidates as a sufficient qualification. Can
you speak English? "Yes." What wages do you ask? "Twelve dollars
a month." This was always said glibly, and in each case sounded
hopeful. Whom have you lived with? A foreign name distorted out
of all recognition, as was natural, was then given. Where have you
travelled? This question usually had to be translated into
Japanese, and the usual answer was, "The Tokaido, the Nakasendo, to
Kiyoto, to Nikko," naming the beaten tracks of countless tourists.
Do you know anything of Northern Japan and the Hokkaido? "No,"
with a blank wondering look. At this stage in every case Dr.
Hepburn compassionately stepped in as interpreter, for their stock
of English was exhausted. Three were regarded as promising. One
was a sprightly youth who came in a well-made European suit of
light-coloured tweed, a laid-down collar, a tie with a diamond (?)
pin, and a white shirt, so stiffly starched, that he could hardly
bend low enough for a bow even of European profundity. He wore a
gilt watch-chain with a locket, the corner of a very white cambric
pocket-handkerchief dangled from his breast pocket, and he held a
cane and a felt hat in his hand. He was a Japanese dandy of the
first water. I looked at him ruefully. To me starched collars are
to be an unknown luxury for the next three months. His fine
foreign clothes would enhance prices everywhere in the interior,
and besides that, I should feel a perpetual difficulty in asking
menial services from an exquisite. I was therefore quite relieved
when his English broke down at the second question.

The second was a most respectable-looking man of thirty-five in a
good Japanese dress. He was highly recommended, and his first
English words were promising, but he had been cook in the service
of a wealthy English official who travelled with a large retinue,
and sent servants on ahead to prepare the way. He knew really only
a few words of English, and his horror at finding that there was
"no master," and that there would be no woman-servant, was so
great, that I hardly know whether he rejected me or I him.

The third, sent by Mr. Wilkinson, wore a plain Japanese dress, and
had a frank, intelligent face. Though Dr. Hepburn spoke with him
in Japanese, he thought that he knew more English than the others,
and that what he knew would come out when he was less agitated. He
evidently understood what I said, and, though I had a suspicion
that he would turn out to be the "master," I thought him so
prepossessing that I nearly engaged him on the spot. None of the
others merit any remark.

However, when I had nearly made up my mind in his favour, a
creature appeared without any recommendation at all, except that
one of Dr. Hepburn's servants was acquainted with him. He is only
eighteen, but this is equivalent to twenty-three or twenty-four
with us, and only 4 feet 10 inches in height, but, though bandy-
legged, is well proportioned and strong-looking. He has a round
and singularly plain face, good teeth, much elongated eyes, and the
heavy droop of his eyelids almost caricatures the usual Japanese
peculiarity. He is the most stupid-looking Japanese that I have
seen, but, from a rapid, furtive glance in his eyes now and then, I
think that the stolidity is partly assumed. He said that he had
lived at the American Legation, that he had been a clerk on the
Osaka railroad, that he had travelled through northern Japan by the
eastern route, and in Yezo with Mr. Maries, a botanical collector,
that he understood drying plants, that he could cook a little, that
he could write English, that he could walk twenty-five miles a day,
and that he thoroughly understood getting through the interior!
This would-be paragon had no recommendations, and accounted for
this by saying that they had been burned in a recent fire in his
father's house. Mr. Maries was not forthcoming, and more than
this, I suspected and disliked the boy. However, he understood my
English and I his, and, being very anxious to begin my travels, I
engaged him for twelve dollars a month, and soon afterwards he came
back with a contract, in which he declares by all that he holds
most sacred that he will serve me faithfully for the wages agreed
upon, and to this document he affixed his seal and I my name. The
next day he asked me for a month's wages in advance, which I gave
him, but Dr. H. consolingly suggested that I should never see him

Ever since the solemn night when the contract was signed I have
felt under an incubus, and since he appeared here yesterday,
punctual to the appointed hour, I have felt as if I had a veritable
"old man of the sea" upon my shoulders. He flies up stairs and
along the corridors as noiselessly as a cat, and already knows
where I keep all my things. Nothing surprises or abashes him, he
bows profoundly to Sir Harry and Lady Parkes when he encounters
them, but is obviously "quite at home" in a Legation, and only
allowed one of the orderlies to show him how to put on a Mexican
saddle and English bridle out of condescension to my wishes. He
seems as sharp or "smart" as can be, and has already arranged for
the first three days of my journey. His name is Ito, and you will
doubtless hear much more of him, as he will be my good or evil
genius for the next three months.

As no English lady has yet travelled alone through the interior, my
project excites a very friendly interest among my friends, and I
receive much warning and dissuasion, and a little encouragement.
The strongest, because the most intelligent, dissuasion comes from
Dr. Hepburn, who thinks that I ought not to undertake the journey,
and that I shall never get through to the Tsugaru Strait. If I
accepted much of the advice given to me, as to taking tinned meats
and soups, claret, and a Japanese maid, I should need a train of at
least six pack-horses! As to fleas, there is a lamentable
concensus of opinion that they are the curse of Japanese travelling
during the summer, and some people recommend me to sleep in a bag
drawn tightly round the throat, others to sprinkle my bedding
freely with insect powder, others to smear the skin all over with
carbolic oil, and some to make a plentiful use of dried and
powdered flea-bane. All admit, however, that these are but feeble
palliatives. Hammocks unfortunately cannot be used in Japanese

The "Food Question" is said to be the most important one for all
travellers, and it is discussed continually with startling
earnestness, not alone as regards my tour. However apathetic
people are on other subjects, the mere mention of this one rouses
them into interest. All have suffered or may suffer, and every one
wishes to impart his own experience or to learn from that of
others. Foreign ministers, professors, missionaries, merchants--
all discuss it with becoming gravity as a question of life and
death, which by many it is supposed to be. The fact is that,
except at a few hotels in popular resorts which are got up for
foreigners, bread, butter, milk, meat, poultry, coffee, wine, and
beer, are unattainable, that fresh fish is rare, and that unless
one can live on rice, tea, and eggs, with the addition now and then
of some tasteless fresh vegetables, food must be taken, as the
fishy and vegetable abominations known as "Japanese food" can only
be swallowed and digested by a few, and that after long practice.

Another, but far inferior, difficulty on which much stress is laid
is the practice common among native servants of getting a "squeeze"
out of every money transaction on the road, so that the cost of
travelling is often doubled, and sometimes trebled, according to
the skill and capacity of the servant. Three gentlemen who have
travelled extensively have given me lists of the prices which I
ought to pay, varying in different districts, and largely increased
on the beaten track of tourists, and Mr. Wilkinson has read these
to Ito, who offered an occasional remonstrance. Mr. W. remarked
after the conversation, which was in Japanese, that he thought I
should have to "look sharp after money matters"--a painful
prospect, as I have never been able to manage anybody in my life,
and shall surely have no control over this clever, cunning Japanese
youth, who on most points will be able to deceive me as he pleases.

On returning here I found that Lady Parkes had made most of the
necessary preparations for me, and that they include two light
baskets with covers of oiled paper, a travelling bed or stretcher,
a folding-chair, and an india-rubber bath, all which she considers
as necessaries for a person in feeble health on a journey of such
long duration. This week has been spent in making acquaintances in
Tokiyo, seeing some characteristic sights, and in trying to get
light on my tour; but little seems known by foreigners of northern
Japan, and a Government department, on being applied to, returned
an itinerary, leaving out 140 miles of the route that I dream of
taking, on the ground of "insufficient information," on which Sir
Harry cheerily remarked, "You will have to get your information as
you go along, and that will be all the more interesting." Ah! but
how? I. L. B.


Kwan-non Temple--Uniformity of Temple Architecture--A Kuruma
Expedition--A Perpetual Festival--The Ni-o--The Limbo of Vanity--
Heathen Prayers--Binzuru--A Group of Devils--Archery Galleries--New
Japan--An Elegante.

June 9.

Once for all I will describe a Buddhist temple, and it shall be the
popular temple of Asakusa, which keeps fair and festival the whole
year round, and is dedicated to the "thousand-armed" Kwan-non, the
goddess of mercy. Writing generally, it may be said that in
design, roof, and general aspect, Japanese Buddhist temples are all
alike. The sacred architectural idea expresses itself in nearly
the same form always. There is a single or double-roofed gateway,
with highly-coloured figures in niches on either side; the paved
temple-court, with more or fewer stone or bronze lanterns; amainu,
or heavenly dogs, in stone on stone pedestals; stone sarcophagi,
roofed over or not, for holy water; a flight of steps; a portico,
continued as a verandah all round the temple; a roof of
tremendously disproportionate size and weight, with a peculiar
curve; a square or oblong hall divided by a railing from a
"chancel" with a high and low altar, and a shrine containing
Buddha, or the divinity to whom the chapel is dedicated; an
incense-burner, and a few ecclesiastical ornaments. The symbols,
idols, and adornments depend upon the sect to which the temple
belongs, or the wealth of its votaries, or the fancy of the
priests. Some temples are packed full of gods, shrines, banners,
bronzes, brasses, tablets, and ornaments, and others, like those of
the Monto sect, are so severely simple, that with scarcely an
alteration they might be used for Christian worship to-morrow.

The foundations consist of square stones on which the uprights
rest. These are of elm, and are united at intervals by
longitudinal pieces. The great size and enormous weight of the
roofs arise from the trusses being formed of one heavy frame being
built upon another in diminishing squares till the top is reached,
the main beams being formed of very large timbers put on in their
natural state. They are either very heavily and ornamentally
tiled, or covered with sheet copper ornamented with gold, or
thatched to a depth of from one to three feet, with fine shingles
or bark. The casing of the walls on the outside is usually thick
elm planking either lacquered or unpainted, and that of the inside
is of thin, finely-planed and bevelled planking of the beautiful
wood of the Retinospora obtusa. The lining of the roof is in flat
panels, and where it is supported by pillars they are invariably
circular, and formed of the straight, finely-grained stem of the
Retinospora obtusa. The projecting ends of the roof-beams under
the eaves are either elaborately carved, lacquered in dull red, or
covered with copper, as are the joints of the beams. Very few
nails are used, the timbers being very beautifully joined by
mortices and dovetails, other methods of junction being unknown.

Mr. Chamberlain and I went in a kuruma hurried along by three
liveried coolies, through the three miles of crowded streets which
lie between the Legation and Asakusa, once a village, but now
incorporated with this monster city, to the broad street leading to
the Adzuma Bridge over the Sumida river, one of the few stone
bridges in Tokiyo, which connects east Tokiyo, an uninteresting
region, containing many canals, storehouses, timber-yards, and
inferior yashikis, with the rest of the city. This street,
marvellously thronged with pedestrians and kurumas, is the terminus
of a number of city "stage lines," and twenty wretched-looking
covered waggons, with still more wretched ponies, were drawn up in
the middle, waiting for passengers. Just there plenty of real
Tokiyo life is to be seen, for near a shrine of popular pilgrimage
there are always numerous places of amusement, innocent and
vicious, and the vicinity of this temple is full of restaurants,
tea-houses, minor theatres, and the resorts of dancing and singing

A broad-paved avenue, only open to foot passengers, leads from this
street to the grand entrance, a colossal two-storied double-roofed
mon, or gate, painted a rich dull red. On either side of this
avenue are lines of booths--which make a brilliant and lavish
display of their contents--toy-shops, shops for smoking apparatus,
and shops for the sale of ornamental hair-pins predominating.
Nearer the gate are booths for the sale of rosaries for prayer,
sleeve and bosom idols of brass and wood in small shrines, amulet
bags, representations of the jolly-looking Daikoku, the god of
wealth, the most popular of the household gods of Japan, shrines,
memorial tablets, cheap ex votos, sacred bells, candlesticks, and
incense-burners, and all the endless and various articles connected
with Buddhist devotion, public and private. Every day is a
festival-day at Asakusa; the temple is dedicated to the most
popular of the great divinities; it is the most popular of
religious resorts; and whether he be Buddhist, Shintoist, or
Christian, no stranger comes to the capital without making a visit
to its crowded courts or a purchase at its tempting booths. Not to
be an exception, I invested in bouquets of firework flowers, fifty
flowers for 2 sen, or 1d., each of which, as it slowly consumes,
throws off fiery coruscations, shaped like the most beautiful of
snow crystals. I was also tempted by small boxes at 2 sen each,
containing what look like little slips of withered pith, but which,
on being dropped into water, expand into trees and flowers.

Down a paved passage on the right there is an artificial river, not
over clean, with a bridge formed of one curved stone, from which a
flight of steps leads up to a small temple with a magnificent
bronze bell. At the entrance several women were praying. In the
same direction are two fine bronze Buddhas, seated figures, one
with clasped hands, the other holding a lotus, both with "The light
of the world" upon their brows. The grand red gateway into the
actual temple courts has an extremely imposing effect, and besides,
it is the portal to the first great heathen temple that I have
seen, and it made me think of another temple whose courts were
equally crowded with buyers and sellers, and of a "whip of small
cords" in the hand of One who claimed both the temple and its
courts as His "Father's House." Not with less righteous wrath
would the gentle founder of Buddhism purify the unsanctified courts
of Asakusa. Hundreds of men, women, and children passed to and fro
through the gateway in incessant streams, and so they are passing
through every daylight hour of every day in the year, thousands
becoming tens of thousands on the great matsuri days, when the
mikoshi, or sacred car, containing certain symbols of the god, is
exhibited, and after sacred mimes and dances have been performed,
is carried in a magnificent, antique procession to the shore and
back again. Under the gateway on either side are the Ni-o, or two
kings, gigantic figures in flowing robes, one red and with an open
mouth, representing the Yo, or male principle of Chinese
philosophy, the other green and with the mouth firmly closed,
representing the In, or female principle. They are hideous
creatures, with protruding eyes, and faces and figures distorted
and corrupted into a high degree of exaggerated and convulsive
action. These figures guard the gates of most of the larger
temples, and small prints of them are pasted over the doors of
houses to protect them against burglars. Attached to the grating
in front were a number of straw sandals, hung up by people who pray
that their limbs may be as muscular as those of the Ni-o.

Passing through this gate we were in the temple court proper, and
in front of the temple itself, a building of imposing height and
size, of a dull red colour, with a grand roof of heavy iron grey
tiles, with a sweeping curve which gives grace as well as grandeur.
The timbers and supports are solid and of great size, but, in
common with all Japanese temples, whether Buddhist or Shinto, the
edifice is entirely of wood. A broad flight of narrow, steep,
brass-bound steps lead up to the porch, which is formed by a number
of circular pillars supporting a very lofty roof, from which paper
lanterns ten feet long are hanging. A gallery runs from this round
the temple, under cover of the eaves. There is an outer temple,
unmatted, and an inner one behind a grating, into which those who
choose to pay for the privilege of praying in comparative privacy,
or of having prayers said for them by the priests, can pass.

In the outer temple the noise, confusion, and perpetual motion, are
bewildering. Crowds on clattering clogs pass in and out; pigeons,
of which hundreds live in the porch, fly over your head, and the
whirring of their wings mingles with the tinkling of bells, the
beating of drums and gongs, the high-pitched drone of the priests,
the low murmur of prayers, the rippling laughter of girls, the
harsh voices of men, and the general buzz of a multitude. There is
very much that is highly grotesque at first sight. Men squat on
the floor selling amulets, rosaries, printed prayers, incense
sticks, and other wares. Ex votos of all kinds hang on the wall
and on the great round pillars. Many of these are rude Japanese
pictures. The subject of one is the blowing-up of a steamer in the
Sumidagawa with the loss of 100 lives, when the donor was saved by
the grace of Kwan-non. Numbers of memorials are from people who
offered up prayers here, and have been restored to health or
wealth. Others are from junk men whose lives have been in peril.
There are scores of men's queues and a few dusty braids of women's
hair offered on account of vows or prayers, usually for sick
relatives, and among them all, on the left hand, are a large mirror
in a gaudily gilt frame and a framed picture of the P. M. S. China!
Above this incongruous collection are splendid wood carvings and
frescoes of angels, among which the pigeons find a home free from

Near the entrance there is a superb incense-burner in the most
massive style of the older bronzes, with a mythical beast rampant
upon it, and in high relief round it the Japanese signs of the
zodiac--the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, serpent, horse, goat,
monkey, cock, dog, and hog. Clouds of incense rise continually
from the perforations round the edge, and a black-toothed woman who
keeps it burning is perpetually receiving small coins from the
worshippers, who then pass on to the front of the altar to pray.
The high altar, and indeed all that I should regard as properly the
temple, are protected by a screen of coarsely-netted iron wire.
This holy of holies is full of shrines and gods, gigantic
candlesticks, colossal lotuses of gilded silver, offerings, lamps,
lacquer, litany books, gongs, drums, bells, and all the mysterious
symbols of a faith which is a system of morals and metaphysics to
the educated and initiated, and an idolatrous superstition to the
masses. In this interior the light was dim, the lamps burned low,
the atmosphere was heavy with incense, and amidst its fumes shaven
priests in chasubles and stoles moved noiselessly over the soft
matting round the high altar on which Kwan-non is enshrined,
lighting candles, striking bells, and murmuring prayers. In front
of the screen is the treasury, a wooden chest 14 feet by 10, with a
deep slit, into which all the worshippers cast copper coins with a
ceaseless clinking sound.

There, too, they pray, if that can be called prayer which
frequently consists only in the repetition of an uncomprehended
phrase in a foreign tongue, bowing the head, raising the hands and
rubbing them, murmuring a few words, telling beads, clapping the
hands, bowing again, and then passing out or on to another shrine
to repeat the same form. Merchants in silk clothing, soldiers in
shabby French uniforms, farmers, coolies in "vile raiment,"
mothers, maidens, swells in European clothes, even the samurai
policemen, bow before the goddess of mercy. Most of the prayers
were offered rapidly, a mere momentary interlude in the gurgle of
careless talk, and without a pretence of reverence; but some of the
petitioners obviously brought real woes in simple "faith."

In one shrine there is a large idol, spotted all over with pellets
of paper, and hundreds of these are sticking to the wire netting
which protects him. A worshipper writes his petition on paper, or,
better still, has it written for him by the priest, chews it to a
pulp, and spits it at the divinity. If, having been well aimed, it
passes through the wire and sticks, it is a good omen, if it lodges
in the netting the prayer has probably been unheard. The Ni-o and
some of the gods outside the temple are similarly disfigured. On
the left there is a shrine with a screen, to the bars of which
innumerable prayers have been tied. On the right, accessible to
all, sits Binzuru, one of Buddha's original sixteen disciples. His
face and appearance have been calm and amiable, with something of
the quiet dignity of an elderly country gentleman of the reign of
George III.; but he is now worn and defaced, and has not much more
of eyes, nose, and mouth than the Sphinx; and the polished, red
lacquer has disappeared from his hands and feet, for Binzuru is a
great medicine god, and centuries of sick people have rubbed his
face and limbs, and then have rubbed their own. A young woman went
up to him, rubbed the back of his neck, and then rubbed her own.
Then a modest-looking girl, leading an ancient woman with badly
inflamed eyelids and paralysed arms, rubbed his eyelids, and then
gently stroked the closed eyelids of the crone. Then a coolie,
with a swelled knee, applied himself vigorously to Binzuru's knee,
and more gently to his own. Remember, this is the great temple of
the populace, and "not many rich, not many noble, not many mighty,"
enter its dim, dirty, crowded halls. {5}

But the great temple to Kwan-non is not the only sight of Asakusa.
Outside it are countless shrines and temples, huge stone Amainu, or
heavenly dogs, on rude blocks of stone, large cisterns of stone and
bronze with and without canopies, containing water for the
ablutions of the worshippers, cast iron Amainu on hewn stone
pedestals--a recent gift--bronze and stone lanterns, a stone
prayer-wheel in a stone post, figures of Buddha with the serene
countenance of one who rests from his labours, stone idols, on
which devotees have pasted slips of paper inscribed with prayers,
with sticks of incense rising out of the ashes of hundreds of
former sticks smouldering before them, blocks of hewn stone with
Chinese and Sanskrit inscriptions, an eight-sided temple in which
are figures of the "Five Hundred Disciples" of Buddha, a temple
with the roof and upper part of the walls richly coloured, the
circular Shinto mirror in an inner shrine, a bronze treasury
outside with a bell, which is rung to attract the god's attention,
a striking, five-storied pagoda, with much red lacquer, and the
ends of the roof-beams very boldly carved, its heavy eaves fringed
with wind bells, and its uppermost roof terminating in a graceful
copper spiral of great height, with the "sacred pearl" surrounded
by flames for its finial. Near it, as near most temples, is an
upright frame of plain wood with tablets, on which are inscribed
the names of donors to the temple, and the amount of their gifts.

There is a handsome stone-floored temple to the south-east of the
main building, to which we were the sole visitors. It is lofty and
very richly decorated. In the centre is an octagonal revolving
room, or rather shrine, of rich red lacquer most gorgeously
ornamented. It rests on a frame of carved black lacquer, and has a
lacquer gallery running round it, on which several richly decorated
doors open. On the application of several shoulders to this
gallery the shrine rotates. It is, in fact, a revolving library of
the Buddhist Scriptures, and a single turn is equivalent to a
single pious perusal of them. It is an exceedingly beautiful
specimen of ancient decorative lacquer work. At the back part of
the temple is a draped brass figure of Buddha, with one hand
raised--a dignified piece of casting. All the Buddhas have Hindoo
features, and the graceful drapery and oriental repose which have
been imported from India contrast singularly with the grotesque
extravagances of the indigenous Japanese conceptions. In the same
temple are four monstrously extravagant figures carved in wood,
life-size, with clawed toes on their feet, and two great fangs in
addition to the teeth in each mouth. The heads of all are
surrounded with flames, and are backed by golden circlets. They
are extravagantly clothed in garments which look as if they were
agitated by a violent wind; they wear helmets and partial suits of
armour, and hold in their right hands something between a monarch's
sceptre and a priest's staff. They have goggle eyes and open
mouths, and their faces are in distorted and exaggerated action.
One, painted bright red, tramples on a writhing devil painted
bright pink; another, painted emerald green, tramples on a sea-
green devil, an indigo blue monster tramples on a sky-blue fiend,
and a bright pink monster treads under his clawed feet a flesh-
coloured demon. I cannot give you any idea of the hideousness of
their aspect, and was much inclined to sympathise with the more
innocent-looking fiends whom they were maltreating. They occur
very frequently in Buddhist temples, and are said by some to be
assistant-torturers to Yemma, the lord of hell, and are called by
others "The gods of the Four Quarters."

The temple grounds are a most extraordinary sight. No English fair
in the palmiest days of fairs ever presented such an array of
attractions. Behind the temple are archery galleries in numbers,
where girls, hardly so modest-looking as usual, smile and smirk,
and bring straw-coloured tea in dainty cups, and tasteless
sweetmeats on lacquer trays, and smoke their tiny pipes, and offer
you bows of slender bamboo strips, two feet long, with rests for
the arrows, and tiny cherry-wood arrows, bone-tipped, and feathered
red, blue, and white, and smilingly, but quite unobtrusively, ask
you to try your skill or luck at a target hanging in front of a
square drum, flanked by red cushions. A click, a boom, or a hardly
audible "thud," indicate the result. Nearly all the archers were
grown-up men, and many of them spend hours at a time in this
childish sport.

All over the grounds booths with the usual charcoal fire, copper
boiler, iron kettle of curious workmanship, tiny cups, fragrant
aroma of tea, and winsome, graceful girls, invite you to drink and
rest, and more solid but less inviting refreshments are also to be
had. Rows of pretty paper lanterns decorate all the stalls. Then
there are photograph galleries, mimic tea-gardens, tableaux in
which a large number of groups of life-size figures with
appropriate scenery are put into motion by a creaking wheel of
great size, matted lounges for rest, stands with saucers of rice,
beans and peas for offerings to the gods, the pigeons, and the two
sacred horses, Albino ponies, with pink eyes and noses, revoltingly
greedy creatures, eating all day long and still craving for more.
There are booths for singing and dancing, and under one a
professional story-teller was reciting to a densely packed crowd
one of the old, popular stories of crime. There are booths where
for a few rin you may have the pleasure of feeding some very ugly
and greedy apes, or of watching mangy monkeys which have been
taught to prostrate themselves Japanese fashion.

This letter is far too long, but to pass over Asakusa and its
novelties when the impression of them is fresh would be to omit one
of the most interesting sights in Japan. On the way back we passed
red mail carts like those in London, a squadron of cavalry in
European uniforms and with European saddles, and the carriage of
the Minister of Marine, an English brougham with a pair of horses
in English harness, and an escort of six troopers--a painful
precaution adopted since the political assassination of Okubo, the
Home Minister, three weeks ago. So the old and the new in this
great city contrast with and jostle each other. The Mikado and his
ministers, naval and military officers and men, the whole of the
civil officials and the police, wear European clothes, as well as a
number of dissipated-looking young men who aspire to represent
"young Japan." Carriages and houses in English style, with
carpets, chairs, and tables, are becoming increasingly numerous,
and the bad taste which regulates the purchase of foreign
furnishings is as marked as the good taste which everywhere
presides over the adornment of the houses in purely Japanese style.
Happily these expensive and unbecoming innovations have scarcely
affected female dress, and some ladies who adopted our fashions
have given them up because of their discomfort and manifold
difficulties and complications.

The Empress on State occasions appears in scarlet satin hakama, and
flowing robes, and she and the Court ladies invariably wear the
national costume. I have only seen two ladies in European dress;
and this was at a dinner-party here, and they were the wives of Mr.
Mori, the go-ahead Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, and of the
Japanese Consul at Hong Kong; and both by long residence abroad
have learned to wear it with ease. The wife of Saigo, the Minister
of Education, called one day in an exquisite Japanese dress of
dove-coloured silk crepe, with a pale pink under-dress of the same
material, which showed a little at the neck and sleeves. Her
girdle was of rich dove-coloured silk, with a ghost of a pale pink
blossom hovering upon it here and there. She had no frills or
fripperies of any description, or ornaments, except a single pin in
her chignon, and, with a sweet and charming face, she looked as
graceful and dignified in her Japanese costume as she would have
looked exactly the reverse in ours. Their costume has one striking
advantage over ours. A woman is perfectly CLOTHED if she has one
garment and a girdle on, and perfectly DRESSED if she has two.
There is a difference in features and expression--much exaggerated,
however, by Japanese artists--between the faces of high-born women
and those of the middle and lower classes. I decline to admire
fat-faces, pug noses, thick lips, long eyes, turned up at the outer
corners, and complexions which owe much to powder and paint. The
habit of painting the lips with a reddish-yellow pigment, and of
heavily powdering the face and throat with pearl powder, is a
repulsive one. But it is hard to pronounce any unfavourable
criticism on women who have so much kindly grace of manner. I. L.


Fears--Travelling Equipments--Passports--Coolie Costume--A Yedo
Diorama--Rice-Fields--Tea-Houses--A Traveller's Reception--The Inn
at Kasukabe--Lack of Privacy--A Concourse of Noises--A Nocturnal
Alarm--A Vision of Policemen--A Budget from Yedo.

KASUKABE, June 10.

From the date you will see that I have started on my long journey,
though not upon the "unbeaten tracks" which I hope to take after
leaving Nikko, and my first evening alone in the midst of this
crowded Asian life is strange, almost fearful. I have suffered
from nervousness all day--the fear of being frightened, of being
rudely mobbed, as threatened by Mr. Campbell of Islay, of giving
offence by transgressing the rules of Japanese politeness--of, I
know not what! Ito is my sole reliance, and he may prove a "broken
reed." I often wished to give up my project, but was ashamed of my
cowardice when, on the best authority, I received assurances of its
safety. {6}

The preparations were finished yesterday, and my outfit weighed 110
lbs., which, with Ito's weight of 90 lbs., is as much as can be
carried by an average Japanese horse. My two painted wicker boxes
lined with paper and with waterproof covers are convenient for the
two sides of a pack-horse. I have a folding-chair--for in a
Japanese house there is nothing but the floor to sit upon, and not
even a solid wall to lean against--an air-pillow for kuruma
travelling, an india-rubber bath, sheets, a blanket, and last, and
more important than all else, a canvas stretcher on light poles,
which can be put together in two minutes; and being 2.5 feet high
is supposed to be secure from fleas. The "Food Question" has been
solved by a modified rejection of all advice! I have only brought
a small supply of Liebig's extract of meat, 4 lbs. of raisins, some
chocolate, both for eating and drinking, and some brandy in case of
need. I have my own Mexican saddle and bridle, a reasonable
quantity of clothes, including a loose wrapper for wearing in the
evenings, some candles, Mr. Brunton's large map of Japan, volumes
of the Transactions of the English Asiatic Society, and Mr. Satow's
Anglo-Japanese Dictionary. My travelling dress is a short costume
of dust-coloured striped tweed, with strong laced boots of
unblacked leather, and a Japanese hat, shaped like a large inverted
bowl, of light bamboo plait, with a white cotton cover, and a very
light frame inside, which fits round the brow and leaves a space of
1.5 inches between the hat and the head for the free circulation of
air. It only weighs 2.5 ounces, and is infinitely to be preferred
to a heavy pith helmet, and, light as it is, it protects the head
so thoroughly, that, though the sun has been unclouded all day and
the mercury at 86 degrees, no other protection has been necessary.
My money is in bundles of 50 yen, and 50, 20, and 10 sen notes,
besides which I have some rouleaux of copper coins. I have a bag
for my passport, which hangs to my waist. All my luggage, with the
exception of my saddle, which I use for a footstool, goes into one
kuruma, and Ito, who is limited to 12 lbs., takes his along with

I have three kurumas, which are to go to Nikko, ninety miles, in
three days, without change of runners, for about eleven shillings

Passports usually define the route over which the foreigner is to
travel, but in this case Sir H. Parkes has obtained one which is
practically unrestricted, for it permits me to travel through all
Japan north of Tokiyo and in Yezo without specifying any route.
This precious document, without which I should be liable to be
arrested and forwarded to my consul, is of course in Japanese, but
the cover gives in English the regulations under which it is
issued. A passport must be applied for, for reasons of "health,
botanical research, or scientific investigation." Its bearer must
not light fires in woods, attend fires on horseback, trespass on
fields, enclosures, or game-preserves, scribble on temples,
shrines, or walls, drive fast on a narrow road, or disregard
notices of "No thoroughfare." He must "conduct himself in an
orderly and conciliating manner towards the Japanese authorities
and people;" he "must produce his passport to any officials who may
demand it," under pain of arrest; and while in the interior "is
forbidden to shoot, trade, to conclude mercantile contracts with
Japanese, or to rent houses or rooms for a longer period than his
journey requires."

NIKKO, June 13.--This is one of the paradises of Japan! It is a
proverbial saying, "He who has not seen Nikko must not use the word
kek'ko" (splendid, delicious, beautiful); but of this more
hereafter. My attempt to write to you from Kasukabe failed, owing
to the onslaught of an army of fleas, which compelled me to retreat
to my stretcher, and the last two nights, for this and other
reasons, writing has been out of the question.

I left the Legation at 11 am. on Monday and reached Kasukabe at 5
p.m., the runners keeping up an easy trot the whole journey of
twenty-three miles; but the halts for smoking and eating were

These kuruma-runners wore short blue cotton drawers, girdles with
tobacco pouch and pipe attached, short blue cotton shirts with wide
sleeves, and open in front, reaching to their waists, and blue
cotton handkerchiefs knotted round their heads, except when the sun
was very hot, when they took the flat flag discs, two feet in
diameter, which always hang behind kurumas, and are used either in
sun or rain, and tied them on their heads. They wore straw
sandals, which had to be replaced twice on the way. Blue and white
towels hung from the shafts to wipe away the sweat, which ran
profusely down the lean, brown bodies. The upper garment always
flew behind them, displaying chests and backs elaborately tattooed
with dragons and fishes. Tattooing has recently been prohibited;
but it was not only a favourite adornment, but a substitute for
perishable clothing.

Most of the men of the lower classes wear their hair in a very ugly
fashion,--the front and top of the head being shaved, the long hair
from the back and sides being drawn up and tied, then waxed, tied
again, and cut short off, the stiff queue being brought forward and
laid, pointing forwards, along the back part of the top of the
head. This top-knot is shaped much like a short clay pipe. The
shaving and dressing the hair thus require the skill of a
professional barber. Formerly the hair was worn in this way by the
samurai, in order that the helmet might fit comfortably, but it is
now the style of the lower classes mostly and by no means

Blithely, at a merry trot, the coolies hurried us away from the
kindly group in the Legation porch, across the inner moat and along
the inner drive of the castle, past gateways and retaining walls of
Cyclopean masonry, across the second moat, along miles of streets
of sheds and shops, all grey, thronged with foot-passengers and
kurumas, with pack-horses loaded two or three feet above their
backs, the arches of their saddles red and gilded lacquer, their
frontlets of red leather, their "shoes" straw sandals, their heads
tied tightly to the saddle-girth on either side, great white cloths
figured with mythical beasts in blue hanging down loosely under
their bodies; with coolies dragging heavy loads to the guttural cry
of Hai! huida! with children whose heads were shaved in hideous
patterns; and now and then, as if to point a moral lesson in the
midst of the whirling diorama, a funeral passed through the throng,
with a priest in rich robes, mumbling prayers, a covered barrel
containing the corpse, and a train of mourners in blue dresses with
white wings. Then we came to the fringe of Yedo, where the houses
cease to be continuous, but all that day there was little interval
between them. All had open fronts, so that the occupations of the
inmates, the "domestic life" in fact, were perfectly visible. Many
of these houses were roadside chayas, or tea-houses, and nearly all
sold sweet-meats, dried fish, pickles, mochi, or uncooked cakes of
rice dough, dried persimmons, rain hats, or straw shoes for man or
beast. The road, though wide enough for two carriages (of which we
saw none), was not good, and the ditches on both sides were
frequently neither clean nor sweet. Must I write it? The houses
were mean, poor, shabby, often even squalid, the smells were bad,
and the people looked ugly, shabby, and poor, though all were
working at something or other.

The country is a dead level, and mainly an artificial mud flat or
swamp, in whose fertile ooze various aquatic birds were wading, and
in which hundreds of men and women were wading too, above their
knees in slush; for this plain of Yedo is mainly a great rice-
field, and this is the busy season of rice-planting; for here, in
the sense in which we understand it, they do not "cast their bread
upon the waters." There are eight or nine leading varieties of
rice grown in Japan, all of which, except an upland species,
require mud, water, and much puddling and nasty work. Rice is the
staple food and the wealth of Japan. Its revenues were estimated
in rice. Rice is grown almost wherever irrigation is possible.

The rice-fields are usually very small and of all shapes. A
quarter of an acre is a good-sized field. The rice crop planted in
June is not reaped till November, but in the meantime it needs to
be "puddled" three times, i.e. for all the people to turn into the
slush, and grub out all the weeds and tangled aquatic plants, which
weave themselves from tuft to tuft, and puddle up the mud afresh
round the roots. It grows in water till it is ripe, when the
fields are dried off. An acre of the best land produces annually
about fifty-four bushels of rice, and of the worst about thirty.

On the plain of Yedo, besides the nearly continuous villages along
the causewayed road, there are islands, as they may be called, of
villages surrounded by trees, and hundreds of pleasant oases on
which wheat ready for the sickle, onions, millet, beans, and peas,
were flourishing. There were lotus ponds too, in which the
glorious lily, Nelumbo nucifera, is being grown for the
sacrilegious purpose of being eaten! Its splendid classical leaves
are already a foot above the water.

After running cheerily for several miles my men bowled me into a
tea-house, where they ate and smoked while I sat in the garden,
which consisted of baked mud, smooth stepping-stones, a little pond
with some goldfish, a deformed pine, and a stone lantern. Observe
that foreigners are wrong in calling the Japanese houses of
entertainment indiscriminately "tea-houses." A tea-house or chaya
is a house at which you can obtain tea and other refreshments,
rooms to eat them in, and attendance. That which to some extent
answers to an hotel is a yadoya, which provides sleeping
accommodation and food as required. The licenses are different.
Tea-houses are of all grades, from the three-storied erections, gay
with flags and lanterns, in the great cities and at places of
popular resort, down to the road-side tea-house, as represented in
the engraving, with three or four lounges of dark-coloured wood
under its eaves, usually occupied by naked coolies in all attitudes
of easiness and repose. The floor is raised about eighteen inches
above the ground, and in these tea-houses is frequently a matted
platform with a recess called the doma, literally "earth-space," in
the middle, round which runs a ledge of polished wood called the
itama, or "board space," on which travellers sit while they bathe
their soiled feet with the water which is immediately brought to
them; for neither with soiled feet nor in foreign shoes must one
advance one step on the matted floor. On one side of the doma is
the kitchen, with its one or two charcoal fires, where the coolies
lounge on the mats and take their food and smoke, and on the other
the family pursue their avocations. In almost the smallest tea-
house there are one or two rooms at the back, but all the life and
interest are in the open front. In the small tea-houses there is
only an irori, a square hole in the floor, full of sand or white
ash, on which the live charcoal for cooking purposes is placed, and
small racks for food and eating utensils; but in the large ones
there is a row of charcoal stoves, and the walls are garnished up
to the roof with shelves, and the lacquer tables and lacquer and
china ware used by the guests. The large tea-houses contain the
possibilities for a number of rooms which can be extemporised at
once by sliding paper panels, called fusuma, along grooves in the
floor and in the ceiling or cross-beams.

When we stopped at wayside tea-houses the runners bathed their
feet, rinsed their mouths, and ate rice, pickles, salt fish, and
"broth of abominable things," after which they smoked their tiny
pipes, which give them three whiffs for each filling. As soon as I
got out at any of these, one smiling girl brought me the tabako-
bon, a square wood or lacquer tray, with a china or bamboo
charcoal-holder and ash-pot upon it, and another presented me with
a zen, a small lacquer table about six inches high, with a tiny
teapot with a hollow handle at right angles with the spout, holding
about an English tea-cupful, and two cups without handles or
saucers, with a capacity of from ten to twenty thimblefuls each.
The hot water is merely allowed to rest a minute on the tea-leaves,
and the infusion is a clear straw-coloured liquid with a delicious
aroma and flavour, grateful and refreshing at all times. If
Japanese tea "stands," it acquires a coarse bitterness and an
unwholesome astringency. Milk and sugar are not used. A clean-
looking wooden or lacquer pail with a lid is kept in all tea-
houses, and though hot rice, except to order, is only ready three
times daily, the pail always contains cold rice, and the coolies
heat it by pouring hot tea over it. As you eat, a tea-house girl,
with this pail beside her, squats on the floor in front of you, and
fills your rice bowl till you say, "Hold, enough!" On this road it
is expected that you leave three or four sen on the tea-tray for a
rest of an hour or two and tea.

All day we travelled through rice swamps, along a much-frequented
road, as far as Kasukabe, a good-sized but miserable-looking town,
with its main street like one of the poorest streets in Tokiyo, and
halted for the night at a large yadoya, with downstairs and
upstairs rooms, crowds of travellers, and many evil smells. On
entering, the house-master or landlord, the teishi, folded his
hands and prostrated himself, touching the floor with his forehead
three times. It is a large, rambling old house, and fully thirty
servants were bustling about in the daidokoro, or great open
kitchen. I took a room upstairs (i.e. up a steep step-ladder of
dark, polished wood), with a balcony under the deep eaves. The
front of the house upstairs was one long room with only sides and a
front, but it was immediately divided into four by drawing sliding
screens or panels, covered with opaque wall papers, into their
proper grooves. A back was also improvised, but this was formed of
frames with panes of translucent paper, like our tissue paper, with
sundry holes and rents. This being done, I found myself the
possessor of a room about sixteen feet square, without hook, shelf,
rail, or anything on which to put anything--nothing, in short, but
a matted floor. Do not be misled by the use of this word matting.
Japanese house-mats, tatami, are as neat, refined, and soft a
covering for the floor as the finest Axminster carpet. They are 5
feet 9 inches long, 3 feet broad, and 2.5 inches thick. The frame
is solidly made of coarse straw, and this is covered with very fine
woven matting, as nearly white as possible, and each mat is usually
bound with dark blue cloth. Temples and rooms are measured by the
number of mats they contain, and rooms must be built for the mats,
as they are never cut to the rooms. They are always level with the
polished grooves or ledges which surround the floor. They are soft
and elastic, and the finer qualities are very beautiful. They are
as expensive as the best Brussels carpet, and the Japanese take
great pride in them, and are much aggrieved by the way in which
some thoughtless foreigners stamp over them with dirty boots.
Unfortunately they harbour myriads of fleas.

Outside my room an open balcony with many similiar rooms ran round
a forlorn aggregate of dilapidated shingle roofs and water-butts.
These rooms were all full. Ito asked me for instructions once for
all, put up my stretcher under a large mosquito net of coarse green
canvas with a fusty smell, filled my bath, brought me some tea,
rice, and eggs, took my passport to be copied by the house-master,
and departed, I know not whither. I tried to write to you, but
fleas and mosquitoes prevented it, and besides, the fusuma were
frequently noiselessly drawn apart, and several pairs of dark,
elongated eyes surveyed me through the cracks; for there were two
Japanese families in the room to the right, and five men in that to
the left. I closed the sliding windows, with translucent paper for
window panes, called shoji, and went to bed, but the lack of
privacy was fearful, and I have not yet sufficient trust in my
fellow-creatures to be comfortable without locks, walls, or doors!
Eyes were constantly applied to the sides of the room, a girl twice
drew aside the shoji between it and the corridor; a man, who I
afterwards found was a blind man, offering his services as a
shampooer, came in and said some (of course) unintelligible words,
and the new noises were perfectly bewildering. On one side a man
recited Buddhist prayers in a high key; on the other a girl was
twanging a samisen, a species of guitar; the house was full of
talking and splashing, drums and tom-toms were beaten outside;
there were street cries innumerable, and the whistling of the blind
shampooers, and the resonant clap of the fire-watchman who
perambulates all Japanese villages, and beats two pieces of wood
together in token of his vigilance, were intolerable. It was a
life of which I knew nothing, and the mystery was more alarming
than attractive; my money was lying about, and nothing seemed
easier than to slide a hand through the fusuma and appropriate it.
Ito told me that the well was badly contaminated, the odours were
fearful; illness was to be feared as well as robbery! So
unreasonably I reasoned! {7}

My bed is merely a piece of canvas nailed to two wooden bars. When
I lay down the canvas burst away from the lower row of nails with a
series of cracks, and sank gradually till I found myself lying on a
sharp-edged pole which connects the two pair of trestles, and the
helpless victim of fleas and mosquitoes. I lay for three hours,
not daring to stir lest I should bring the canvas altogether down,
becoming more and more nervous every moment, and then Ito called
outside the shoji, "It would be best, Miss Bird, that I should see
you." What horror can this be? I thought, and was not reassured
when he added, "Here's a messenger from the Legation and two
policemen want to speak to you." On arriving I had done the
correct thing in giving the house-master my passport, which,
according to law, he had copied into his book, and had sent a
duplicate copy to the police-station, and this intrusion near
midnight was as unaccountable as it was unwarrantable.
Nevertheless the appearance of the two mannikins in European
uniforms, with the familiar batons and bull's-eye lanterns, and
with manners which were respectful without being deferential, gave
me immediate relief. I should have welcomed twenty of their
species, for their presence assured me of the fact that I am known
and registered, and that a Government which, for special reasons,
is anxious to impress foreigners with its power and omniscience is
responsible for my safety.

While they spelt through my passport by their dim lantern I opened
the Yedo parcel, and found that it contained a tin of lemon sugar,
a most kind note from Sir Harry Parkes, and a packet of letters
from you. While I was attempting to open the letters, Ito, the
policemen, and the lantern glided out of my room, and I lay
uneasily till daylight, with the letters and telegram, for which I
had been yearning for six weeks, on my bed unopened!

Already I can laugh at my fears and misfortunes, as I hope you
will. A traveller must buy his own experience, and success or
failure depends mainly on personal idiosyncrasies. Many matters
will be remedied by experience as I go on, and I shall acquire the
habit of feeling secure; but lack of privacy, bad smells, and the
torments of fleas and mosquitoes are, I fear, irremediable evils.
I. L. B.

LETTER VI--(Continued)

A Coolie falls ill--Peasant Costume--Varieties in Threshing--The
Tochigi yadoya--Farming Villages--A Beautiful Region--An In
Memoriam Avenue--A Doll's Street--Nikko--The Journey's End--Coolie

By seven the next morning the rice was eaten, the room as bare as
if it had never been occupied, the bill of 80 sen paid, the house-
master and servants with many sayo naras, or farewells, had
prostrated themselves, and we were away in the kurumas at a rapid
trot. At the first halt my runner, a kindly, good-natured
creature, but absolutely hideous, was seized with pain and
vomiting, owing, he said, to drinking the bad water at Kasukabe,
and was left behind. He pleased me much by the honest independent
way in which he provided a substitute, strictly adhering to his
bargain, and never asking for a gratuity on account of his illness.
He had been so kind and helpful that I felt quite sad at leaving
him there ill,--only a coolie, to be sure, only an atom among the
34,000,000 of the Empire, but not less precious to our Father in
heaven than any other. It was a brilliant day, with the mercury 86
degrees in the shade, but the heat was not oppressive. At noon we
reached the Tone, and I rode on a coolie's tattooed shoulders
through the shallow part, and then, with the kurumas, some ill-
disposed pack-horses, and a number of travellers, crossed in a
flat-bottomed boat. The boatmen, travellers, and cultivators, were
nearly or altogether without clothes, but the richer farmers worked
in the fields in curved bamboo hats as large as umbrellas, kimonos
with large sleeves not girt up, and large fans attached to their
girdles. Many of the travellers whom we met were without hats, but
shielded the front of the head by holding a fan between it and the
sun. Probably the inconvenience of the national costume for
working men partly accounts for the general practice of getting rid
of it. It is such a hindrance, even in walking, that most
pedestrians have "their loins girded up" by taking the middle of
the hem at the bottom of the kimono and tucking it under the
girdle. This, in the case of many, shows woven, tight-fitting,
elastic, white cotton pantaloons, reaching to the ankles. After
ferrying another river at a village from which a steamer plies to
Tokiyo, the country became much more pleasing, the rice-fields
fewer, the trees, houses, and barns larger, and, in the distance,
high hills loomed faintly through the haze. Much of the wheat, of
which they don't make bread, but vermicelli, is already being
carried. You see wheat stacks, ten feet high, moving slowly, and
while you are wondering, you become aware of four feet moving below
them; for all the crop is carried on horses' if not on human backs.
I went to see several threshing-floors,--clean, open spaces outside
barns,--where the grain is laid on mats and threshed by two or four
men with heavy revolving flails. Another method is for women to
beat out the grain on racks of split bamboo laid lengthwise; and I
saw yet a third practised both in the fields and barn-yards, in
which women pass handfuls of stalks backwards through a sort of
carding instrument with sharp iron teeth placed in a slanting
position, which cuts off the ears, leaving the stalk unbruised.
This is probably "the sharp threshing instrument having teeth"
mentioned by Isaiah. The ears are then rubbed between the hands.
In this region the wheat was winnowed altogether by hand, and after
the wind had driven the chaff away, the grain was laid out on mats
to dry. Sickles are not used, but the reaper takes a handful of
stalks and cuts them off close to the ground with a short, straight
knife, fixed at a right angle with the handle. The wheat is sown
in rows with wide spaces between them, which are utilised for beans
and other crops, and no sooner is it removed than daikon (Raphanus
sativus), cucumbers, or some other vegetable, takes its place, as
the land under careful tillage and copious manuring bears two, and
even three, crops, in the year. The soil is trenched for wheat as
for all crops except rice, not a weed is to be seen, and the whole
country looks like a well-kept garden. The barns in this district
are very handsome, and many of their grand roofs have that concave
sweep with which we are familiar in the pagoda. The eaves are
often eight feet deep, and the thatch three feet thick. Several of
the farm-yards have handsome gateways like the ancient "lychgates"
of some of our English churchyards much magnified. As animals are
not used for milk, draught, or food, and there are no pasture
lands, both the country and the farm-yards have a singular silence
and an inanimate look; a mean-looking dog and a few fowls being the
only representatives of domestic animal life. I long for the
lowing of cattle and the bleating of sheep.

At six we reached Tochigi, a large town, formerly the castle town
of a daimiyo. Its special manufacture is rope of many kinds, a
great deal of hemp being grown in the neighbourhood. Many of the
roofs are tiled, and the town has a more solid and handsome
appearance than those that we had previously passed through. But
from Kasukabe to Tochigi was from bad to worse. I nearly abandoned
Japanese travelling altogether, and, if last night had not been a
great improvement, I think I should have gone ignominiously back to
Tokiyo. The yadoya was a very large one, and, as sixty guests had
arrived before me, there was no choice of accommodation, and I had
to be contented with a room enclosed on all sides not by fusuma but
shoji, and with barely room for my bed, bath, and chair, under a
fusty green mosquito net which was a perfect nest of fleas. One
side of the room was against a much-frequented passage, and another
opened on a small yard upon which three opposite rooms also opened,
crowded with some not very sober or decorous travellers. The shoji
were full of holes, and often at each hole I saw a human eye.
Privacy was a luxury not even to be recalled. Besides the constant
application of eyes to the shoji, the servants, who were very noisy
and rough, looked into my room constantly without any pretext; the
host, a bright, pleasant-looking man, did the same; jugglers,
musicians, blind shampooers, and singing girls, all pushed the
screens aside; and I began to think that Mr. Campbell was right,
and that a lady should not travel alone in Japan. Ito, who had the
room next to mine, suggested that robbery was quite likely, and
asked to be allowed to take charge of my money, but did not decamp
with it during the night! I lay down on my precarious stretcher
before eight, but as the night advanced the din of the house
increased till it became truly diabolical, and never ceased till
after one. Drums, tom-toms, and cymbals were beaten; kotos and
samisens screeched and twanged; geishas (professional women with
the accomplishments of dancing, singing, and playing) danced,--
accompanied by songs whose jerking discords were most laughable;
story-tellers recited tales in a high key, and the running about
and splashing close to my room never ceased. Late at night my
precarious shoji were accidentally thrown down, revealing a scene
of great hilarity, in which a number of people were bathing and
throwing water over each other.

The noise of departures began at daylight, and I was glad to leave
at seven. Before you go the fusuma are slidden back, and what was
your room becomes part of a great, open, matted space--an
arrangement which effectually prevents fustiness. Though the road
was up a slight incline, and the men were too tired to trot, we
made thirty miles in nine hours. The kindliness and courtesy of
the coolies to me and to each other was a constant source of
pleasure to me. It is most amusing to see the elaborate politeness
of the greetings of men clothed only in hats and maros. The hat is
invariably removed when they speak to each other, and three
profound bows are never omitted.

Soon after leaving the yadoya we passed through a wide street with
the largest and handsomest houses I have yet seen on both sides.
They were all open in front; their highly-polished floors and
passages looked like still water; the kakemonos, or wall-pictures,
on their side-walls were extremely beautiful; and their mats were
very fine and white. There were large gardens at the back, with
fountains and flowers, and streams, crossed by light stone bridges,
sometimes flowed through the houses. From the signs I supposed
them to be yadoyas, but on asking Ito why we had not put up at one
of them, he replied that they were all kashitsukeya, or tea-houses
of disreputable character--a very sad fact. {8}

As we journeyed the country became prettier and prettier, rolling
up to abrupt wooded hills with mountains in the clouds behind. The
farming villages are comfortable and embowered in wood, and the
richer farmers seclude their dwellings by closely-clipped hedges,
or rather screens, two feet wide, and often twenty feet high. Tea
grew near every house, and its leaves were being gathered and dried
on mats. Signs of silk culture began to appear in shrubberies of
mulberry trees, and white and sulphur yellow cocoons were lying in
the sun along the road in flat trays. Numbers of women sat in the
fronts of the houses weaving cotton cloth fifteen inches wide, and
cotton yarn, mostly imported from England, was being dyed in all
the villages--the dye used being a native indigo, the Polygonum
tinctorium. Old women were spinning, and young and old usually
pursued their avocations with wise-looking babies tucked into the
backs of their dresses, and peering cunningly over their shoulders.
Even little girls of seven and eight were playing at children's
games with babies on their backs, and those who were too small to
carry real ones had big dolls strapped on in similar fashion.
Innumerable villages, crowded houses, and babies in all, give one
the impression of a very populous country.

As the day wore on in its brightness and glory the pictures became
more varied and beautiful. Great snow-slashed mountains looked
over the foothills, on whose steep sides the dark blue green of
pine and cryptomeria was lighted up by the spring tints of
deciduous trees. There were groves of cryptomeria on small hills
crowned by Shinto shrines, approached by grand flights of stone
stairs. The red gold of the harvest fields contrasted with the
fresh green and exquisite leafage of the hemp; rose and white
azaleas lighted up the copse-woods; and when the broad road passed
into the colossal avenue of cryptomeria which overshadows the way
to the sacred shrines of Nikko, and tremulous sunbeams and shadows
flecked the grass, I felt that Japan was beautiful, and that the
mud flats of Yedo were only an ugly dream!

Two roads lead to Nikko. I avoided the one usually taken by
Utsunomiya, and by doing so lost the most magnificent of the two
avenues, which extends for nearly fifty miles along the great
highway called the Oshiu-kaido. Along the Reiheishi-kaido, the
road by which I came, it extends for thirty miles, and the two,
broken frequently by villages, converge upon the village of
Imaichi, eight miles from Nikko, where they unite, and only
terminate at the entrance of the town. They are said to have been
planted as an offering to the buried Shoguns by a man who was too
poor to place a bronze lantern at their shrines. A grander
monument could not have been devised, and they are probably the
grandest things of their kind in the world. The avenue of the
Reiheishi-kaido is a good carriage road with sloping banks eight
feet high, covered with grass and ferns. At the top of these are
the cryptomeria, then two grassy walks, and between these and the
cultivation a screen of saplings and brushwood. A great many of
the trees become two at four feet from the ground. Many of the
stems are twenty-seven feet in girth; they do not diminish or
branch till they have reached a height of from 50 to 60 feet, and
the appearance of altitude is aided by the longitudinal splitting
of the reddish coloured bark into strips about two inches wide.
The trees are pyramidal, and at a little distance resemble cedars.
There is a deep solemnity about this glorious avenue with its broad
shade and dancing lights, and the rare glimpses of high mountains.
Instinct alone would tell one that it leads to something which must
be grand and beautiful like itself. It is broken occasionally by
small villages with big bells suspended between double poles; by
wayside shrines with offerings of rags and flowers; by stone
effigies of Buddha and his disciples, mostly defaced or overthrown,
all wearing the same expression of beatified rest and indifference
to mundane affairs; and by temples of lacquered wood falling to
decay, whose bells sent their surpassingly sweet tones far on the
evening air.

Imaichi, where the two stately aisles unite, is a long uphill
street, with a clear mountain stream enclosed in a stone channel,
and crossed by hewn stone slabs running down the middle. In a room
built over the stream, and commanding a view up and down the
street, two policemen sat writing. It looks a dull place without
much traffic, as if oppressed by the stateliness of the avenues
below it and the shrines above it, but it has a quiet yadoya, where
I had a good night's rest, although my canvas bed was nearly on the
ground. We left early this morning in drizzling rain, and went
straight up hill under the cryptomeria for eight miles. The
vegetation is as profuse as one would expect in so damp and hot a
summer climate, and from the prodigious rainfall of the mountains;
every stone is covered with moss, and the road-sides are green with
the Protococcus viridis and several species of Marchantia. We were
among the foothills of the Nantaizan mountains at a height of 1000
feet, abrupt in their forms, wooded to their summits, and noisy
with the dash and tumble of a thousand streams. The long street of
Hachiishi, with its steep-roofed, deep-eaved houses, its warm
colouring, and its steep roadway with steps at intervals, has a
sort of Swiss picturesqueness as you enter it, as you must, on
foot, while your kurumas are hauled and lifted up the steps; nor is
the resemblance given by steep roofs, pines, and mountains patched
with coniferae, altogether lost as you ascend the steep street, and
see wood carvings and quaint baskets of wood and grass offered
everywhere for sale. It is a truly dull, quaint street, and the
people come out to stare at a foreigner as if foreigners had not
become common events since 1870, when Sir H. and Lady Parkes, the
first Europeans who were permitted to visit Nikko, took up their
abode in the Imperial Hombo. It is a doll's street with small low
houses, so finely matted, so exquisitely clean, so finically neat,
so light and delicate, that even when I entered them without my
boots I felt like a "bull in a china shop," as if my mere weight
must smash through and destroy. The street is so painfully clean
that I should no more think of walking over it in muddy boots than
over a drawing-room carpet. It has a silent mountain look, and
most of its shops sell specialties, lacquer work, boxes of
sweetmeats made of black beans and sugar, all sorts of boxes,
trays, cups, and stands, made of plain, polished wood, and more
grotesque articles made from the roots of trees.

It was not part of my plan to stay at the beautiful yadoya which
receives foreigners in Hachiishi, and I sent Ito half a mile
farther with a note in Japanese to the owner of the house where I
now am, while I sat on a rocky eminence at the top of the street,
unmolested by anybody, looking over to the solemn groves upon the
mountains, where the two greatest of the Shoguns "sleep in glory."
Below, the rushing Daiyagawa, swollen by the night's rain,
thundered through a narrow gorge. Beyond, colossal flights of
stone stairs stretch mysteriously away among cryptomeria groves,
above which tower the Nikkosan mountains. Just where the torrent
finds its impetuosity checked by two stone walls, it is spanned by
a bridge, 84 feet long by 18 wide, of dull red lacquer, resting on
two stone piers on either side, connected by two transverse stone
beams. A welcome bit of colour it is amidst the masses of dark
greens and soft greys, though there is nothing imposing in its
structure, and its interest consists in being the Mihashi, or
Sacred Bridge, built in 1636, formerly open only to the Shoguns,
the envoy of the Mikado, and to pilgrims twice a year. Both its
gates are locked. Grand and lonely Nikko looks, the home of rain
and mist. Kuruma roads end here, and if you wish to go any
farther, you must either walk, ride, or be carried.

Ito was long away, and the coolies kept addressing me in Japanese,
which made me feel helpless and solitary, and eventually they
shouldered my baggage, and, descending a flight of steps, we
crossed the river by the secular bridge, and shortly met my host,
Kanaya, a very bright, pleasant-looking man, who bowed nearly to
the earth. Terraced roads in every direction lead through
cryptomerias to the shrines; and this one passes many a stately
enclosure, but leads away from the temples, and though it is the
highway to Chiuzenjii, a place of popular pilgrimage, Yumoto, a
place of popular resort, and several other villages, it is very
rugged, and, having flights of stone steps at intervals, is only
practicable for horses and pedestrians.

At the house, with the appearance of which I was at once delighted,
I regretfully parted with my coolies, who had served me kindly and
faithfully. They had paid me many little attentions, such as
always beating the dust out of my dress, inflating my air-pillow,
and bringing me flowers, and were always grateful when I walked up
hills; and just now, after going for a frolic to the mountains,
they called to wish me good-bye, bringing branches of azaleas. I.
L. B.


A Japanese Idyll--Musical Stillness -My Rooms--Floral Decorations-
-Kanaya and his Household--Table Equipments.


I don't know what to write about my house. It is a Japanese idyll;
there is nothing within or without which does not please the eye,
and, after the din of yadoyas, its silence, musical with the dash
of waters and the twitter of birds, is truly refreshing. It is a
simple but irregular two-storied pavilion, standing on a stone-
faced terrace approached by a flight of stone steps. The garden is
well laid out, and, as peonies, irises, and azaleas are now in
blossom, it is very bright. The mountain, with its lower part
covered with red azaleas, rises just behind, and a stream which
tumbles down it supplies the house with water, both cold and pure,
and another, after forming a miniature cascade, passes under the
house and through a fish-pond with rocky islets into the river
below. The grey village of Irimichi lies on the other side of the
road, shut in with the rushing Daiya, and beyond it are high,
broken hills, richly wooded, and slashed with ravines and

Kanaya's sister, a very sweet, refined-looking woman, met me at the
door and divested me of my boots. The two verandahs are highly
polished, so are the entrance and the stairs which lead to my room,
and the mats are so fine and white that I almost fear to walk over
them, even in my stockings. The polished stairs lead to a highly
polished, broad verandah with a beautiful view, from which you
enter one large room, which, being too large, was at once made into
two. Four highly polished steps lead from this into an exquisite
room at the back, which Ito occupies, and another polished
staircase into the bath-house and garden. The whole front of my
room is composed of shoji, which slide back during the day. The
ceiling is of light wood crossed by bars of dark wood, and the
posts which support it are of dark polished wood. The panels are
of wrinkled sky-blue paper splashed with gold. At one end are two
alcoves with floors of polished wood, called tokonoma. In one
hangs a kakemono, or wall-picture, a painting of a blossoming
branch of the cherry on white silk--a perfect piece of art, which
in itself fills the room with freshness and beauty. The artist who
painted it painted nothing but cherry blossoms, and fell in the
rebellion. On a shelf in the other alcove is a very valuable
cabinet with sliding doors, on which peonies are painted on a gold
ground. A single spray of rose azalea in a pure white vase hanging
on one of the polished posts, and a single iris in another, are the
only decorations. The mats are very fine and white, but the only
furniture is a folding screen with some suggestions of landscape in
Indian ink. I almost wish that the rooms were a little less
exquisite, for I am in constant dread of spilling the ink,
indenting the mats, or tearing the paper windows. Downstairs there
is a room equally beautiful, and a large space where all the
domestic avocations are carried on. There is a kura, or fire-proof
storehouse, with a tiled roof, on the right of the house.

Kanaya leads the discords at the Shinto shrines; but his duties are
few, and he is chiefly occupied in perpetually embellishing his
house and garden. His mother, a venerable old lady, and his
sister, the sweetest and most graceful Japanese woman but one that
I have seen, live with him. She moves about the house like a
floating fairy, and her voice has music in its tones. A half-
witted servant-man and the sister's boy and girl complete the
family. Kanaya is the chief man in the village, and is very
intelligent and apparently well educated. He has divorced his
wife, and his sister has practically divorced her husband. Of
late, to help his income, he has let these charming rooms to
foreigners who have brought letters to him, and he is very anxious
to meet their views, while his good taste leads him to avoid
Europeanising his beautiful home.

Supper came up on a zen, or small table six inches high, of old
gold lacquer, with the rice in a gold lacquer bowl, and the teapot
and cup were fine Kaga porcelain. For my two rooms, with rice and
tea, I pay 2s. a day. Ito forages for me, and can occasionally get
chickens at 10d. each, and a dish of trout for 6d., and eggs are
always to be had for 1d. each. It is extremely interesting to live
in a private house and to see the externalities, at least, of
domestic life in a Japanese middle-class home. I. L. B.


The Beauties of Nikko--The Burial of Iyeyasu--The Approach to the
Great Shrines--The Yomei Gate--Gorgeous Decorations--Simplicity of
the Mausoleum--The Shrine of Iyemitsu--Religious Art of Japan and
India--An Earthquake--Beauties of Wood-carving.


I have been at Nikko for nine days, and am therefore entitled to
use the word "Kek'ko!"

Nikko means "sunny splendour," and its beauties are celebrated in
poetry and art all over Japan. Mountains for a great part of the
year clothed or patched with snow, piled in great ranges round
Nantaizan, their monarch, worshipped as a god; forests of
magnificent timber; ravines and passes scarcely explored; dark
green lakes sleeping in endless serenity; the deep abyss of Kegon,
into which the waters of Chiuzenjii plunge from a height of 250
feet; the bright beauty of the falls of Kiri Furi, the loveliness
of the gardens of Dainichido; the sombre grandeur of the passes
through which the Daiyagawa forces its way from the upper regions;
a gorgeousness of azaleas and magnolias; and a luxuriousness of
vegetation perhaps unequalled in Japan, are only a few of the
attractions which surround the shrines of the two greatest Shoguns.

To a glorious resting-place on the hill-slope of Hotoke Iwa, sacred
since 767, when a Buddhist saint, called Shodo Shonin, visited it,
and declared the old Shinto deity of the mountain to be only a
manifestation of Buddha, Hidetada, the second Shogun of the
Tokugawa dynasty, conveyed the corpse of his father, Iyeyasu, in
1617. It was a splendid burial. An Imperial envoy, a priest of
the Mikado's family, court nobles from Kivoto, and hundreds of
daimiyos, captains, and nobles of inferior rank, took part in the
ceremony. An army of priests in rich robes during three days
intoned a sacred classic 10,000 times, and Iyeyasu was deified by a
decree of the Mikado under a name signifying "light of the east,
great incarnation of Buddha." The less important Shoguns of the
line of Tokugawa are buried in Uyeno and Shiba, in Yedo. Since the
restoration, and what may be called the disestablishment of
Buddhism, the shrine of Iyeyasu has been shorn of all its glories
of ritual and its magnificent Buddhist paraphernalia; the 200
priests who gave it splendour are scattered, and six Shinto priests
alternately attend upon it as much for the purpose of selling
tickets of admission as for any priestly duties.

All roads, bridges, and avenues here lead to these shrines, but the
grand approach is by the Red Bridge, and up a broad road with steps
at intervals and stone-faced embankments at each side, on the top
of which are belts of cryptomeria. At the summit of this ascent is
a fine granite torii, 27 feet 6 inches high, with columns 3 feet 6
inches in diameter, offered by the daimiyo of Chikuzen in 1618 from
his own quarries. After this come 118 magnificent bronze lanterns
on massive stone pedestals, each of which is inscribed with the
posthumous title of Iyeyasu, the name of the giver, and a legend of
the offering--all the gifts of daimiyo--a holy water cistern made
of a solid block of granite, and covered by a roof resting on
twenty square granite pillars, and a bronze bell, lantern, and
candelabra of marvellous workmanship, offered by the kings of Corea
and Liukiu. On the left is a five-storied pagoda, 104 feet high,
richly carved in wood and as richly gilded and painted. The signs
of the zodiac run round the lower story.

The grand entrance gate is at the top of a handsome flight of steps
forty yards from the torii. A looped white curtain with the
Mikado's crest in black, hangs partially over the gateway, in
which, beautiful as it is, one does not care to linger, to examine
the gilded amainu in niches, or the spirited carvings of tigers
under the eaves, for the view of the first court overwhelms one by
its magnificence and beauty. The whole style of the buildings, the
arrangements, the art of every kind, the thought which inspires the
whole, are exclusively Japanese, and the glimpse from the Ni-o gate
is a revelation of a previously undreamed-of beauty, both in form
and colour.

Round the neatly pebbled court, which is enclosed by a bright red
timber wall, are three gorgeous buildings, which contain the
treasures of the temple, a sumptuous stable for the three sacred
Albino horses, which are kept for the use of the god, a magnificent
granite cistern of holy water, fed from the Somendaki cascade, and
a highly decorated building, in which a complete collection of
Buddhist Scriptures is deposited. From this a flight of steps
leads into a smaller court containing a bell-tower "of marvellous
workmanship and ornamentation," a drum-tower, hardly less
beautiful, a shrine, the candelabra, bell, and lantern mentioned
before, and some very grand bronze lanterns.

From this court another flight of steps ascends to the Yomei gate,
whose splendour I contemplated day after day with increasing
astonishment. The white columns which support it have capitals
formed of great red-throated heads of the mythical Kirin. Above
the architrave is a projecting balcony which runs all round the
gateway with a railing carried by dragons' heads. In the centre
two white dragons fight eternally. Underneath, in high relief,
there are groups of children playing, then a network of richly
painted beams, and seven groups of Chinese sages. The high roof is
supported by gilded dragons' heads with crimson throats. In the
interior of the gateway there are side-niches painted white, which
are lined with gracefully designed arabesques founded on the botan

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