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Unbeaten Tracks in Japan by Isabella L. Bird

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degrees in the day to 80 degrees at night. The household is
afflicted with lassitude and loss of appetite. Evening does not
bring coolness, but myriads of flying, creeping, jumping, running
creatures, all with power to hurt, which replace the day
mosquitoes, villains with spotted legs, which bite and poison one
without the warning hum. The night mosquitoes are legion. There
are no walks except in the streets and the public gardens, for
Niigata is built on a sand spit, hot and bare. Neither can you get
a view of it without climbing to the top of a wooden look-out.

Niigata is a Treaty Port without foreign trade, and almost without
foreign residents. Not a foreign ship visited the port either last
year or this. There are only two foreign firms, and these are
German, and only eighteen foreigners, of which number, except the
missionaries, nearly all are in Government employment. Its river,
the Shinano, is the largest in Japan, and it and its affluents
bring down a prodigious volume of water. But Japanese rivers are
much choked with sand and shingle washed down from the mountains.
In all that I have seen, except those which are physically limited
by walls of hard rock, a river-bed is a waste of sand, boulders,
and shingle, through the middle of which, among sand-banks and
shallows, the river proper takes its devious course. In the
freshets, which occur to a greater or less extent every year,
enormous volumes of water pour over these wastes, carrying sand and
detritus down to the mouths, which are all obstructed by bars. Of
these rivers the Shinano, being the biggest, is the most
refractory, and has piled up a bar at its entrance through which
there is only a passage seven feet deep, which is perpetually
shallowing. The minds of engineers are much exercised upon the
Shinano, and the Government is most anxious to deepen the channel
and give Western Japan what it has not--a harbour; but the expense
of the necessary operation is enormous, and in the meantime a
limited ocean traffic is carried on by junks and by a few small
Japanese steamers which call outside. {13} There is a British
Vice-Consulate, but, except as a step, few would accept such a
dreary post or outpost.

But Niigata is a handsome, prosperous city of 50,000 inhabitants,
the capital of the wealthy province of Echigo, with a population of
one and a half millions, and is the seat of the Kenrei, or
provincial governor, of the chief law courts, of fine schools, a
hospital, and barracks. It is curious to find in such an excluded
town a school deserving the designation of a college, as it
includes intermediate, primary, and normal schools, an English
school with 150 pupils, organised by English and American teachers,
an engineering school, a geological museum, splendidly equipped
laboratories, and the newest and most approved scientific and
educational apparatus. The Government Buildings, which are grouped
near Mr. Fyson's, are of painted white wood, and are imposing from
their size and their innumerable glass windows. There is a large
hospital {14} arranged by a European doctor, with a medical school
attached, and it, the Kencho, the Saibancho, or Court House, the
schools, the barracks, and a large bank, which is rivalling them
all, have a go-ahead, Europeanised look, bold, staring, and
tasteless. There are large public gardens, very well laid out, and
with finely gravelled walks. There are 300 street lamps, which
burn the mineral oil of the district.

Yet, because the riotous Shinano persistently bars it out from the
sea, its natural highway, the capital of one of the richest
provinces of Japan is "left out in the cold," and the province
itself, which yields not only rice, silk, tea, hemp, ninjin, and
indigo, in large quantities, but gold, copper, coal, and petroleum,
has to send most of its produce to Yedo across ranges of mountains,
on the backs of pack-horses, by roads scarcely less infamous than
the one by which I came.

The Niigata of the Government, with its signs of progress in a
western direction, is quite unattractive-looking as compared with
the genuine Japanese Niigata, which is the neatest, cleanest, and
most comfortable-looking town I have yet seen, and altogether free
from the jostlement of a foreign settlement. It is renowned for
the beautiful tea-houses, which attract visitors from distant
places, and for the excellence of the theatres, and is the centre
of the recreation and pleasure of a large district. It is so
beautifully clean that, as at Nikko, I should feel reluctant to
walk upon its well-swept streets in muddy boots. It would afford a
good lesson to the Edinburgh authorities, for every vagrant bit of
straw, stick, or paper, is at once pounced upon and removed, and no
rubbish may stand for an instant in its streets except in a covered
box or bucket. It is correctly laid out in square divisions,
formed by five streets over a mile long, crossed by very numerous
short ones, and is intersected by canals, which are its real
roadways. I have not seen a pack-horse in the streets; everything
comes in by boat, and there are few houses in the city which cannot
have their goods delivered by canal very near to their doors.
These water-ways are busy all day, but in the early morning, when
the boats come in loaded with the vegetables, without which the
people could not exist for a day, the bustle is indescribable. The
cucumber boats just now are the great sight. The canals are
usually in the middle of the streets, and have fairly broad
roadways on both sides. They are much below the street level, and
their nearly perpendicular banks are neatly faced with wood, broken
at intervals by flights of stairs. They are bordered by trees,
among which are many weeping willows; and, as the river water runs
through them, keeping them quite sweet, and they are crossed at
short intervals by light bridges, they form a very attractive
feature of Niigata.

The houses have very steep roofs of shingle, weighted with stones,
and, as they are of very irregular heights, and all turn the steep
gables of the upper stories streetwards, the town has a
picturesqueness very unusual in Japan. The deep verandahs are
connected all along the streets, so as to form a sheltered
promenade when the snow lies deep in winter. With its canals with
their avenues of trees, its fine public gardens, and clean,
picturesque streets, it is a really attractive town; but its
improvements are recent, and were only lately completed by Mr.
Masakata Kusumoto, now Governor of Tokiyo. There is no appearance
of poverty in any part of the town, but if there be wealth, it is
carefully concealed. One marked feature of the city is the number
of streets of dwelling-houses with projecting windows of wooden
slats, through which the people can see without being seen, though
at night, when the andons are lit, we saw, as we walked from Dr.
Palm's, that in most cases families were sitting round the hibachi
in a deshabille of the scantiest kind.

The fronts are very narrow, and the houses extend backwards to an
amazing length, with gardens in which flowers, shrubs, and
mosquitoes are grown, and bridges are several times repeated, so as
to give the effect of fairyland as you look through from the
street. The principal apartments in all Japanese houses are at the
back, looking out on these miniature landscapes, for a landscape is
skilfully dwarfed into a space often not more than 30 feet square.
A lake, a rock-work, a bridge, a stone lantern, and a deformed
pine, are indispensable; but whenever circumstances and means admit
of it, quaintnesses of all kinds are introduced. Small pavilions,
retreats for tea-making, reading, sleeping in quiet and coolness,
fishing under cover, and drinking sake; bronze pagodas, cascades
falling from the mouths of bronze dragons; rock caves, with gold
and silver fish darting in and out; lakes with rocky islands,
streams crossed by green bridges, just high enough to allow a rat
or frog to pass under; lawns, and slabs of stone for crossing them
in wet weather, grottoes, hills, valleys, groves of miniature
palms, cycas, and bamboo; and dwarfed trees of many kinds, of
purplish and dull green hues, are cut into startling likenesses of
beasts and creeping things, or stretch distorted arms over tiny

I have walked about a great deal in Niigata, and when with Mrs.
Fyson, who is the only European lady here at present, and her
little Ruth, a pretty Saxon child of three years old, we have been
followed by an immense crowd, as the sight of this fair creature,
with golden curls falling over her shoulders, is most fascinating.
Both men and women have gentle, winning ways with infants, and
Ruth, instead of being afraid of the crowds, smiles upon them, bows
in Japanese fashion, speaks to them in Japanese, and seems a little
disposed to leave her own people altogether. It is most difficult
to make her keep with us, and two or three times, on missing her
and looking back, we have seen her seated, native fashion, in a
ring in a crowd of several hundred people, receiving a homage and
admiration from which she was most unwillingly torn. The Japanese
have a perfect passion for children, but it is not good for
European children to be much with them, as they corrupt their
morals, and teach them to tell lies.

The climate of Niigata and of most of this great province contrasts
unpleasantly with the region on the other side of the mountains,
warmed by the gulf-stream of the North Pacific, in which the autumn
and winter, with their still atmosphere, bracing temperature, and
blue and sunny skies, are the most delightful seasons of the year.
Thirty-two days of snow-fall occur on an average. The canals and
rivers freeze, and even the rapid Shinano sometimes bears a horse.
In January and February the snow lies three or four feet deep, a
veil of clouds obscures the sky, people inhabit their upper rooms
to get any daylight, pack-horse traffic is suspended, pedestrians
go about with difficulty in rough snow-shoes, and for nearly six
months the coast is unsuitable for navigation, owing to the
prevalence of strong, cold, north-west winds. In this city people
in wadded clothes, with only their eyes exposed, creep about under
the verandahs. The population huddles round hibachis and shivers,
for the mercury, which rises to 92 degrees in summer, falls to 15
degrees in winter. And all this is in latitude 37 degrees 55'--
three degrees south of Naples! I. L. B.


The Canal-side at Niigata--Awful Loneliness--Courtesy--Dr. Palm's
Tandem--A Noisy Matsuri--A Jolting Journey--The Mountain Villages--
Winter Dismalness--An Out-of-the-world Hamlet--Crowded Dwellings--
Riding a Cow--"Drunk and Disorderly"--An Enforced Rest--Local
Discouragements--Heavy Loads--Absence of Beggary--Slow Travelling.

ICHINONO, July 12.

Two foreign ladies, two fair-haired foreign infants, a long-haired
foreign dog, and a foreign gentleman, who, without these
accompaniments, might have escaped notice, attracted a large but
kindly crowd to the canal side when I left Niigata. The natives
bore away the children on their shoulders, the Fysons walked to the
extremity of the canal to bid me good-bye, the sampan shot out upon
the broad, swirling flood of the Shinano, and an awful sense of
loneliness fell upon me. We crossed the Shinano, poled up the
narrow, embanked Shinkawa, had a desperate struggle with the
flooded Aganokawa, were much impeded by strings of nauseous manure-
boats on the narrow, discoloured Kajikawa, wondered at the
interminable melon and cucumber fields, and at the odd river life,
and, after hard poling for six hours, reached Kisaki, having
accomplished exactly ten miles. Then three kurumas with trotting
runners took us twenty miles at the low rate of 4.5 sen per ri. In
one place a board closed the road, but, on representing to the
chief man of the village that the traveller was a foreigner, he
courteously allowed me to pass, the Express Agent having
accompanied me thus far to see that I "got through all right." The
road was tolerably populous throughout the day's journey, and the
farming villages which extended much of the way--Tsuiji,
Kasayanage, Mono, and Mari--were neat, and many of the farms had
bamboo fences to screen them from the road. It was, on the whole,
a pleasant country, and the people, though little clothed, did not
look either poor or very dirty. The soil was very light and sandy.
There were, in fact, "pine barrens," sandy ridges with nothing on
them but spindly Scotch firs and fir scrub; but the sandy levels
between them, being heavily manured and cultivated like gardens,
bore splendid crops of cucumbers trained like peas, melons,
vegetable marrow, Arum esculentum, sweet potatoes, maize, tea,
tiger-lilies, beans, and onions; and extensive orchards with apples
and pears trained laterally on trellis-work eight feet high, were a
novelty in the landscape.

Though we were all day drawing nearer to mountains wooded to their
summits on the east, the amount of vegetation was not burdensome,
the rice swamps were few, and the air felt drier and less relaxing.
As my runners were trotting merrily over one of the pine barrens, I
met Dr. Palm returning from one of his medico-religious
expeditions, with a tandem of two naked coolies, who were going
over the ground at a great pace, and I wished that some of the most
staid directors of the Edinburgh Medical Missionary Society could
have the shock of seeing him! I shall not see a European again for
some weeks. From Tsuiji, a very neat village, where we changed
kurumas, we were jolted along over a shingly road to Nakajo, a
considerable town just within treaty limits. The Japanese doctors
there, as in some other places, are Dr. Palm's cordial helpers, and
five or six of them, whom he regards as possessing the rare virtues
of candour, earnestness, and single-mindedness, and who have
studied English medical works, have clubbed together to establish a
dispensary, and, under Dr. Palm's instructions, are even carrying
out the antiseptic treatment successfully, after some ludicrous

We dashed through Nakajo as kuruma-runners always dash through
towns and villages, got out of it in a drizzle upon an avenue of
firs, three or four deep, which extends from Nakajo to Kurokawa,
and for some miles beyond were jolted over a damp valley on which
tea and rice alternated, crossed two branches of the shingly
Kurokawa on precarious bridges, rattled into the town of Kurokawa,
much decorated with flags and lanterns, where the people were all
congregated at a shrine where there was much drumming, and a few
girls, much painted and bedizened, were dancing or posturing on a
raised and covered platform, in honour of the god of the place,
whose matsuri or festival it was; and out again, to be mercilessly
jolted under the firs in the twilight to a solitary house where the
owner made some difficulty about receiving us, as his licence did
not begin till the next day, but eventually succumbed, and gave me
his one upstairs room, exactly five feet high, which hardly allowed
of my standing upright with my hat on. He then rendered it
suffocating by closing the amado, for the reason often given, that
if he left them open and the house was robbed, the police would not
only blame him severely, but would not take any trouble to recover
his property. He had no rice, so I indulged in a feast of
delicious cucumbers. I never saw so many eaten as in that
district. Children gnaw them all day long, and even babies on
their mothers' backs suck them with avidity. Just now they are
sold for a sen a dozen.

It is a mistake to arrive at a yadoya after dark. Even if the best
rooms are not full it takes fully an hour to get my food and the
room ready, and meanwhile I cannot employ my time usefully because
of the mosquitoes. There was heavy rain all night, accompanied by
the first wind that I have heard since landing; and the fitful
creaking of the pines and the drumming from the shrine made me glad
to get up at sunrise, or rather at daylight, for there has not been
a sunrise since I came, or a sunset either. That day we travelled
by Sekki to Kawaguchi in kurumas, i.e. we were sometimes bumped
over stones, sometimes deposited on the edge of a quagmire, and
asked to get out; and sometimes compelled to walk for two or three
miles at a time along the infamous bridle-track above the river
Arai, up which two men could hardly push and haul an empty vehicle;
and, as they often had to lift them bodily and carry them for some
distance, I was really glad when we reached the village of
Kawaguchi to find that they could go no farther, though, as we
could only get one horse, I had to walk the last stage in a torrent
of rain, poorly protected by my paper waterproof cloak.

We are now in the midst of the great central chain of the Japanese
mountains, which extends almost without a break for 900 miles, and
is from 40 to 100 miles in width, broken up into interminable
ranges traversable only by steep passes from 1000 to 5000 feet in
height, with innumerable rivers, ravines, and valleys, the heights
and ravines heavily timbered, the rivers impetuous and liable to
freshets, and the valleys invariably terraced for rice. It is in
the valleys that the villages are found, and regions more isolated
I have never seen, shut out by bad roads from the rest of Japan.
The houses are very poor, the summer costume of the men consists of
the maro only, and that of the women of trousers with an open
shirt, and when we reached Kurosawa last night it had dwindled to
trousers only. There is little traffic, and very few horses are
kept, one, two, or three constituting the live stock of a large
village. The shops, such as they are, contain the barest
necessaries of life. Millet and buckwheat rather than rice, with
the universal daikon, are the staples of diet The climate is wet in
summer and bitterly cold in winter. Even now it is comfortless
enough for the people to come in wet, just to warm the tips of
their fingers at the irori, stifled the while with the stinging
smoke, while the damp wind flaps the torn paper of the windows
about, and damp draughts sweep the ashes over the tatami until the
house is hermetically sealed at night. These people never know
anything of what we regard as comfort, and in the long winter, when
the wretched bridle-tracks are blocked by snow and the freezing
wind blows strong, and the families huddle round the smoky fire by
the doleful glimmer of the andon, without work, books, or play, to
shiver through the long evenings in chilly dreariness, and herd
together for warmth at night like animals, their condition must be
as miserable as anything short of grinding poverty can make it.

I saw things at their worst that night as I tramped into the hamlet
of Numa, down whose sloping street a swollen stream was running,
which the people were banking out of their houses. I was wet and
tired, and the woman at the one wretched yadoya met me, saying,
"I'm sorry it's very dirty and quite unfit for so honourable a
guest;" and she was right, for the one room was up a ladder, the
windows were in tatters, there was no charcoal for a hibachi, no
eggs, and the rice was so dirty and so full of a small black seed
as to be unfit to eat. Worse than all, there was no Transport
Office, the hamlet did not possess a horse, and it was only by
sending to a farmer five miles off, and by much bargaining, that I
got on the next morning. In estimating the number of people in a
given number of houses in Japan, it is usual to multiply the houses
by five, but I had the curiosity to walk through Numa and get Ito
to translate the tallies which hang outside all Japanese houses
with the names, number, and sexes of their inmates, and in twenty-
four houses there were 307 people! In some there were four
families--the grand-parents, the parents, the eldest son with his
wife and family, and a daughter or two with their husbands and
children. The eldest son, who inherits the house and land, almost
invariably brings his wife to his father's house, where she often
becomes little better than a slave to her mother-in-law. By rigid
custom she literally forsakes her own kindred, and her "filial
duty" is transferred to her husband's mother, who often takes a
dislike to her, and instigates her son to divorce her if she has no
children. My hostess had induced her son to divorce his wife, and
she could give no better reason for it than that she was lazy.

The Numa people, she said, had never seen a foreigner, so, though
the rain still fell heavily, they were astir in the early morning.
They wanted to hear me speak, so I gave my orders to Ito in public.
Yesterday was a most toilsome day, mainly spent in stumbling up and
sliding down the great passes of Futai, Takanasu, and Yenoiki, all
among forest-covered mountains, deeply cleft by forest-choked
ravines, with now and then one of the snowy peaks of Aidzu breaking
the monotony of the ocean of green. The horses' shoes were tied
and untied every few minutes, and we made just a mile an hour! At
last we were deposited in a most unpromising place in the hamlet of
Tamagawa, and were told that a rice merchant, after waiting for
three days, had got every horse in the country. At the end of two
hours' chaffering one baggage coolie was produced, some of the
things were put on the rice horses, and a steed with a pack-saddle
was produced for me in the shape of a plump and pretty little cow,
which carried me safely over the magnificent pass of Ori and down
to the town of Okimi, among rice-fields, where, in a drowning rain,
I was glad to get shelter with a number of coolies by a wood-fire
till another pack-cow was produced, and we walked on through the
rice-fields and up into the hills again to Kurosawa, where I had
intended to remain; but there was no inn, and the farm-house where
they take in travellers, besides being on the edge of a malarious
pond, and being dark and full of stinging smoke, was so awfully
dirty and full of living creatures, that, exhausted as I was, I was
obliged to go on. But it was growing dark, there was no Transport
Office, and for the first time the people were very slightly
extortionate, and drove Ito nearly to his wits' end. The peasants
do not like to be out after dark, for they are afraid of ghosts and
all sorts of devilments, and it was difficult to induce them to
start so late in the evening.

There was not a house clean enough to rest in, so I sat on a stone
and thought about the people for over an hour. Children with
scald-head, scabies, and sore eyes swarmed. Every woman carried a
baby on her back, and every child who could stagger under one
carried one too. Not one woman wore anything but cotton trousers.
One woman reeled about "drunk and disorderly." Ito sat on a stone
hiding his face in his hands, and when I asked him if he were ill,
he replied in a most lamentable voice, "I don't know what I am to
do, I'm so ashamed for you to see such things!" The boy is only
eighteen, and I pitied him. I asked him if women were often drunk,
and he said they were in Yokohama, but they usually kept in their
houses. He says that when their husbands give them money to pay
bills at the end of a month, they often spend it in sake, and that
they sometimes get sake in shops and have it put down as rice or
tea. "The old, old story!" I looked at the dirt and barbarism,
and asked if this were the Japan of which I had read. Yet a woman
in this unseemly costume firmly refused to take the 2 or 3 sen
which it is usual to leave at a place where you rest, because she
said that I had had water and not tea, and after I had forced it on
her, she returned it to Ito, and this redeeming incident sent me
away much comforted.

From Numa the distance here is only 1.5 ri, but it is over the
steep pass of Honoki, which is ascended and descended by hundreds
of rude stone steps, not pleasant in the dark. On this pass I saw
birches for the first time; at its foot we entered Yamagata ken by
a good bridge, and shortly reached this village, in which an
unpromising-looking farm-house is the only accommodation; but
though all the rooms but two are taken up with silk-worms, those
two are very good and look upon a miniature lake and rockery. The
one objection to my room is that to get either in or out of it I
must pass through the other, which is occupied by five tobacco
merchants who are waiting for transport, and who while away the
time by strumming on that instrument of dismay, the samisen. No
horses or cows can be got for me, so I am spending the day quietly
here, rather glad to rest, for I am much exhausted. When I am
suffering much from my spine Ito always gets into a fright and
thinks I am going to die, as he tells me when I am better, but
shows his anxiety by a short, surly manner, which is most
disagreeable. He thinks we shall never get through the interior!
Mr. Brunton's excellent map fails in this region, so it is only by
fixing on the well-known city of Yamagata and devising routes to it
that we get on. Half the evening is spent in consulting Japanese
maps, if we can get them, and in questioning the house-master and
Transport Agent, and any chance travellers; but the people know
nothing beyond the distance of a few ri, and the agents seldom tell
one anything beyond the next stage. When I inquire about the
"unbeaten tracks" that I wish to take, the answers are, "It's an
awful road through mountains," or "There are many bad rivers to
cross," or "There are none but farmers' houses to stop at." No
encouragement is ever given, but we get on, and shall get on, I
doubt not, though the hardships are not what I would desire in my
present state of health.

Very few horses are kept here. Cows and coolies carry much of the
merchandise, and women as well as men carry heavy loads. A baggage
coolie carries about 50 lbs., but here merchants carrying their own
goods from Yamagata actually carry from 90 to 140 lbs., and even
more. It is sickening to meet these poor fellows struggling over
the mountain-passes in evident distress. Last night five of them
were resting on the summit ridge of a pass gasping violently.
Their eyes were starting out; all their muscles, rendered painfully
visible by their leanness, were quivering; rills of blood from the
bite of insects, which they cannot drive away, were literally
running all over their naked bodies, washed away here and there by
copious perspiration. Truly "in the sweat of their brows" they
were eating bread and earning an honest living for their families!
Suffering and hard-worked as they were, they were quite
independent. I have not seen a beggar or beggary in this strange
country. The women were carrying 70 lbs. These burden-bearers
have their backs covered by a thick pad of plaited straw. On this
rests a ladder, curved up at the lower end like the runners of a
sleigh. On this the load is carefully packed till it extends from
below the man's waist to a considerable height above his head. It
is covered with waterproof paper, securely roped, and thatched with
straw, and is supported by a broad padded band just below the
collar bones. Of course, as the man walks nearly bent double, and
the position is a very painful one, he requires to stop and
straighten himself frequently, and unless he meets with a bank of
convenient height, he rests the bottom of his burden on a short,
stout pole with an L-shaped top, carried for this purpose. The
carrying of enormous loads is quite a feature of this region, and
so, I am sorry to say, are red stinging ants and the small gadflies
which molest the coolies.

Yesterday's journey was 18 miles in twelve hours! Ichinono is a
nice, industrious hamlet, given up, like all others, to rearing
silk-worms, and the pure white and sulphur yellow cocoons are
drying on mats in the sun everywhere.

I. L. B.


Comely Kine--Japanese Criticism on a Foreign Usage--A Pleasant
Halt--Renewed Courtesies--The Plain of Yonezawa--A Curious Mistake-
-The Mother's Memorial--Arrival at Komatsu--Stately Accommodation--
A Vicious Horse--An Asiatic Arcadia--A Fashionable Watering-place--
A Belle--"Godowns."


A severe day of mountain travelling brought us into another region.
We left Ichinono early on a fine morning, with three pack-cows, one
of which I rode [and their calves], very comely kine, with small
noses, short horns, straight spines, and deep bodies. I thought
that I might get some fresh milk, but the idea of anything but a
calf milking a cow was so new to the people that there was a
universal laugh, and Ito told me that they thought it "most
disgusting," and that the Japanese think it "most disgusting" in
foreigners to put anything "with such a strong smell and taste"
into their tea! All the cows had cotton cloths, printed with blue
dragons, suspended under their bodies to keep them from mud and
insects, and they wear straw shoes and cords through the cartilages
of their noses. The day being fine, a great deal of rice and sake
was on the move, and we met hundreds of pack-cows, all of the same
comely breed, in strings of four.

We crossed the Sakuratoge, from which the view is beautiful, got
horses at the mountain village of Shirakasawa, crossed more passes,
and in the afternoon reached the village of Tenoko. There, as
usual, I sat under the verandah of the Transport Office, and waited
for the one horse which was available. It was a large shop, but
contained not a single article of European make. In the one room a
group of women and children sat round the fire, and the agent sat
as usual with a number of ledgers at a table a foot high, on which
his grandchild was lying on a cushion. Here Ito dined on seven
dishes of horrors, and they brought me sake, tea, rice, and black
beans. The last are very good. We had some talk about the
country, and the man asked me to write his name in English
characters, and to write my own in a book. Meanwhile a crowd
assembled, and the front row sat on the ground that the others
might see over their heads. They were dirty and pressed very
close, and when the women of the house saw that I felt the heat
they gracefully produced fans and fanned me for a whole hour. On
asking the charge they refused to make any, and would not receive
anything. They had not seen a foreigner before, they said, they
would despise themselves for taking anything, they had my
"honourable name" in their book. Not only that, but they put up a
parcel of sweetmeats, and the man wrote his name on a fan and
insisted on my accepting it. I was grieved to have nothing to give
them but some English pins, but they had never seen such before,
and soon circulated them among the crowd. I told them truly that I
should remember them as long as I remember Japan, and went on, much
touched by their kindness.

The lofty pass of Utsu, which is ascended and descended by a number
of stone slabs, is the last of the passes of these choked-up
ranges. From its summit in the welcome sunlight I joyfully looked
down upon the noble plain of Yonezawa, about 30 miles long and from
10 to 18 broad, one of the gardens of Japan, wooded and watered,
covered with prosperous towns and villages, surrounded by
magnificent mountains not altogether timbered, and bounded at its
southern extremity by ranges white with snow even in the middle of

In the long street of the farming village of Matsuhara a man amazed
me by running in front of me and speaking to me, and on Ito coming
up, he assailed him vociferously, and it turned out that he took me
for an Aino, one of the subjugated aborigines of Yezo. I have
before now been taken for a Chinese!

Throughout the province of Echigo I have occasionally seen a piece
of cotton cloth suspended by its four corners from four bamboo
poles just above a quiet stream. Behind it there is usually a long
narrow tablet, notched at the top, similar to those seen in
cemeteries, with characters upon it. Sometimes bouquets of flowers
are placed in the hollow top of each bamboo, and usually there are
characters on the cloth itself. Within it always lies a wooden
dipper. In coming down from Tenoko I passed one of these close to
the road, and a Buddhist priest was at the time pouring a dipper
full of water into it, which strained slowly through. As he was
going our way we joined him, and he explained its meaning.

According to him the tablet bears on it the kaimiyo, or posthumous
name of a woman. The flowers have the same significance as those
which loving hands place on the graves of kindred. If there are
characters on the cloth, they represent the well-known invocation
of the Nichiren sect, Namu mio ho ren ge kio. The pouring of the
water into the cloth, often accompanied by telling the beads on a
rosary, is a prayer. The whole is called "The Flowing Invocation."
I have seldom seen anything more plaintively affecting, for it
denotes that a mother in the first joy of maternity has passed away
to suffer (according to popular belief) in the Lake of Blood, one
of the Buddhist hells, for a sin committed in a former state of
being, and it appeals to every passer-by to shorten the penalties
of a woman in anguish, for in that lake she must remain until the
cloth is so utterly worn out that the water falls through it at

Where the mountains come down upon the plain of Yonezawa there are
several raised banks, and you can take one step from the hillside
to a dead level. The soil is dry and gravelly at the junction,
ridges of pines appeared, and the look of the houses suggested
increased cleanliness and comfort. A walk of six miles took us
from Tenoko to Komatsu, a beautifully situated town of 3000 people,
with a large trade in cotton goods, silk, and sake.

As I entered Komatsu the first man whom I met turned back hastily,
called into the first house the words which mean "Quick, here's a
foreigner;" the three carpenters who were at work there flung down
their tools and, without waiting to put on their kimonos, sped down
the street calling out the news, so that by the time I reached the
yadoya a large crowd was pressing upon me. The front was mean and
unpromising-looking, but, on reaching the back by a stone bridge
over a stream which ran through the house, I found a room 40 feet
long by 15 high, entirely open along one side to a garden with a
large fish-pond with goldfish, a pagoda, dwarf trees, and all the
usual miniature adornments. Fusuma of wrinkled blue paper splashed
with gold turned this "gallery" into two rooms; but there was no
privacy, for the crowds climbed upon the roofs at the back, and sat
there patiently until night.

These were daimiyo's rooms. The posts and ceilings were ebony and
gold, the mats very fine, the polished alcoves decorated with
inlaid writing-tables and sword-racks; spears nine feet long, with
handles of lacquer inlaid with Venus' ear, hung in the verandah,
the washing bowl was fine inlaid black lacquer, and the rice-bowls
and their covers were gold lacquer.

In this, as in many other yadoyas, there were kakemonos with large
Chinese characters representing the names of the Prime Minister,
Provincial Governor, or distinguished General, who had honoured it
by halting there, and lines of poetry were hung up, as is usual, in
the same fashion. I have several times been asked to write
something to be thus displayed. I spent Sunday at Komatsu, but not
restfully, owing to the nocturnal croaking of the frogs in the
pond. In it, as in most towns, there were shops which sell nothing
but white, frothy-looking cakes, which are used for the goldfish
which are so much prized, and three times daily the women and
children of the household came into the garden to feed them.

When I left Komatsu there were fully sixty people inside the house
and 1500 outside--walls, verandahs, and even roofs being packed.
From Nikko to Komatsu mares had been exclusively used, but there I
encountered for the first time the terrible Japanese pack-horse.
Two horridly fierce-looking creatures were at the door, with their
heads tied down till their necks were completely arched. When I
mounted the crowd followed, gathering as it went, frightening the
horse with the clatter of clogs and the sound of a multitude, till
he broke his head-rope, and, the frightened mago letting him go, he
proceeded down the street mainly on his hind feet, squealing, and
striking savagely with his fore feet, the crowd scattering to the
right and left, till, as it surged past the police station, four
policemen came out and arrested it; only to gather again, however,
for there was a longer street, down which my horse proceeded in the
same fashion, and, looking round, I saw Ito's horse on his hind
legs and Ito on the ground. My beast jumped over all ditches,
attacked all foot-passengers with his teeth, and behaved so like a
wild animal that not all my previous acquaintance with the
idiosyncrasies of horses enabled me to cope with him. On reaching
Akayu we found a horse fair, and, as all the horses had their heads
tightly tied down to posts, they could only squeal and lash out
with their hind feet, which so provoked our animals that the
baggage horse, by a series of jerks and rearings, divested himself
of Ito and most of the baggage, and, as I dismounted from mine, he
stood upright, and my foot catching I fell on the ground, when he
made several vicious dashes at me with his teeth and fore feet,
which were happily frustrated by the dexterity of some mago. These
beasts forcibly remind me of the words, "Whose mouth must be held
with bit and bridle, lest they turn and fall upon thee."

It was a lovely summer day, though very hot, and the snowy peaks of
Aidzu scarcely looked cool as they glittered in the sunlight. The
plain of Yonezawa, with the prosperous town of Yonezawa in the
south, and the frequented watering-place of Akayu in the north, is
a perfect garden of Eden, "tilled with a pencil instead of a
plough," growing in rich profusion rice, cotton, maize, tobacco,
hemp, indigo, beans, egg-plants, walnuts, melons, cucumbers,
persimmons, apricots, pomegranates; a smiling and plenteous land,
an Asiatic Arcadia, prosperous and independent, all its bounteous
acres belonging to those who cultivate them, who live under their
vines, figs, and pomegranates, free from oppression--a remarkable
spectacle under an Asiatic despotism. Yet still Daikoku is the
chief deity, and material good is the one object of desire.

It is an enchanting region of beauty, industry, and comfort,
mountain girdled, and watered by the bright Matsuka. Everywhere
there are prosperous and beautiful farming villages, with large
houses with carved beams and ponderous tiled roofs, each standing
in its own grounds, buried among persimmons and pomegranates, with
flower-gardens under trellised vines, and privacy secured by high,
closely-clipped screens of pomegranate and cryptomeria. Besides
the villages of Yoshida, Semoshima, Kurokawa, Takayama, and
Takataki, through or near which we passed, I counted over fifty on
the plain with their brown, sweeping barn roofs looking out from
the woodland. I cannot see any differences in the style of
cultivation. Yoshida is rich and prosperous-looking, Numa poor and
wretched-looking; but the scanty acres of Numa, rescued from the
mountain-sides, are as exquisitely trim and neat, as perfectly
cultivated, and yield as abundantly of the crops which suit the
climate, as the broad acres of the sunny plain of Yonezawa, and
this is the case everywhere. "The field of the sluggard" has no
existence in Japan.

We rode for four hours through these beautiful villages on a road
four feet wide, and then, to my surprise, after ferrying a river,
emerged at Tsukuno upon what appears on the map as a secondary
road, but which is in reality a main road 25 feet wide, well kept,
trenched on both sides, and with a line of telegraph poles along
it. It was a new world at once. The road for many miles was
thronged with well-dressed foot-passengers, kurumas, pack-horses,
and waggons either with solid wheels, or wheels with spokes but no
tires. It is a capital carriage-road, but without carriages. In
such civilised circumstances it was curious to see two or four
brown skinned men pulling the carts, and quite often a man and his
wife--the man unclothed, and the woman unclothed to her waist--
doing the same. Also it struck me as incongruous to see telegraph
wires above, and below, men whose only clothing consisted of a sun-
hat and fan; while children with books and slates were returning
from school, conning their lessons.

At Akayu, a town of hot sulphur springs, I hoped to sleep, but it
was one of the noisiest places I have seen. In the most crowded
part, where four streets meet, there are bathing sheds, which were
full of people of both sexes, splashing loudly, and the yadoya
close to it had about forty rooms, in nearly all of which several
rheumatic people were lying on the mats, samisens were twanging,
and kotos screeching, and the hubbub was so unbearable that I came
on here, ten miles farther, by a fine new road, up an uninteresting
strath of rice-fields and low hills, which opens out upon a small
plain surrounded by elevated gravelly hills, on the slope of one of
which Kaminoyama, a watering-place of over 3000 people, is
pleasantly situated. It is keeping festival; there are lanterns
and flags on every house, and crowds are thronging the temple
grounds, of which there are several on the hills above. It is a
clean, dry place, with beautiful yadoyas on the heights, and
pleasant houses with gardens, and plenty of walks over the hills.
The people say that it is one of the driest places in Japan. If it
were within reach of foreigners, they would find it a wholesome
health resort, with picturesque excursions in many directions.

This is one of the great routes of Japanese travel, and it is
interesting to see watering-places with their habits, amusements,
and civilisation quite complete, but borrowing nothing from Europe.
The hot springs here contain iron, and are strongly impregnated
with sulphuretted hydrogen. I tried the temperature of three, and
found them 100 degrees, 105 degrees, and 107 degrees. They are
supposed to be very valuable in rheumatism, and they attract
visitors from great distances. The police, who are my frequent
informants, tell me that there are nearly 600 people now staying
here for the benefit of the baths, of which six daily are usually
taken. I think that in rheumatism, as in some other maladies, the
old-fashioned Japanese doctors pay little attention to diet and
habits, and much to drugs and external applications. The benefit
of these and other medicinal waters would be much increased if
vigorous friction replaced the dabbing with soft towels.

This is a large yadoya, very full of strangers, and the house-
mistress, a buxom and most prepossessing widow, has a truly
exquisite hotel for bathers higher up the hill. She has eleven
children, two or three of whom are tall, handsome, and graceful
girls. One blushed deeply at my evident admiration, but was not
displeased, and took me up the hill to see the temples, baths, and
yadoyas of this very attractive place. I am much delighted with
her grace and savoir faire. I asked the widow how long she had
kept the inn, and she proudly answered, "Three hundred years," not
an uncommon instance of the heredity of occupations.

My accommodation is unique--a kura, or godown, in a large
conventional garden, in which is a bath-house, which receives a hot
spring at a temperature of 105 degrees, in which I luxuriate. Last
night the mosquitoes were awful. If the widow and her handsome
girls had not fanned me perseveringly for an hour, I should not
have been able to write a line. My new mosquito net succeeds
admirably, and, when I am once within it, I rather enjoy the
disappointment of the hundreds of drumming blood-thirsty wretches

The widow tells me that house-masters pay 2 yen once for all for
the sign, and an annual tax of 2 yen on a first-class yadoya, 1 yen
for a second, and 50 cents for a third, with 5 yen for the license
to sell sake.

These "godowns" (from the Malay word gadong), or fire-proof store-
houses, are one of the most marked features of Japanese towns, both
because they are white where all else is grey, and because they are
solid where all else is perishable.

I am lodged in the lower part, but the iron doors are open, and in
their place at night is a paper screen. A few things are kept in
my room. Two handsome shrines from which the unemotional faces of
two Buddhas looked out all night, a fine figure of the goddess
Kwan-non, and a venerable one of the god of longevity, suggested
curious dreams.

I. L. B.


Prosperity--Convict Labour--A New Bridge--Yamagata--Intoxicating
Forgeries--The Government Buildings--Bad Manners--Snow Mountains--A
Wretched Town.

KANAYAMA, July 16.

Three days of travelling on the same excellent road have brought me
nearly 60 miles. Yamagata ken impresses me as being singularly
prosperous, progressive, and go-ahead; the plain of Yamagata, which
I entered soon after leaving Kaminoyama, is populous and highly
cultivated, and the broad road, with its enormous traffic, looks
wealthy and civilised. It is being improved by convicts in dull
red kimonos printed with Chinese characters, who correspond with
our ticket-of-leave men, as they are working for wages in the
employment of contractors and farmers, and are under no other
restriction than that of always wearing the prison dress.

At the Sakamoki river I was delighted to come upon the only
thoroughly solid piece of modern Japanese work that I have met
with--a remarkably handsome stone bridge nearly finished--the first
I have seen. I introduced myself to the engineer, Okuno Chiuzo, a
very gentlemanly, agreeable Japanese, who showed me the plans, took
a great deal of trouble to explain them, and courteously gave me
tea and sweetmeats.

Yamagata, a thriving town of 21,000 people and the capital of the
ken, is well situated on a slight eminence, and this and the
dominant position of the kencho at the top of the main street give
it an emphasis unusual in Japanese towns. The outskirts of all the
cities are very mean, and the appearance of the lofty white
buildings of the new Government Offices above the low grey houses
was much of a surprise. The streets of Yamagata are broad and
clean, and it has good shops, among which are long rows selling
nothing but ornamental iron kettles and ornamental brasswork. So
far in the interior I was annoyed to find several shops almost
exclusively for the sale of villainous forgeries of European
eatables and drinkables, specially the latter. The Japanese, from
the Mikado downwards, have acquired a love of foreign intoxicants,
which would be hurtful enough to them if the intoxicants were
genuine, but is far worse when they are compounds of vitriol, fusel
oil, bad vinegar, and I know not what. I saw two shops in Yamagata
which sold champagne of the best brands, Martel's cognac, Bass'
ale, Medoc, St. Julian, and Scotch whisky, at about one-fifth of
their cost price--all poisonous compounds, the sale of which ought
to be interdicted.

The Government Buildings, though in the usual confectionery style,
are improved by the addition of verandahs; and the Kencho,
Saibancho, or Court House, the Normal School with advanced schools
attached, and the police buildings, are all in keeping with the
good road and obvious prosperity. A large two-storied hospital,
with a cupola, which will accommodate 150 patients, and is to be a
medical school, is nearly finished. It is very well arranged and
ventilated. I cannot say as much for the present hospital, which I
went over. At the Court House I saw twenty officials doing
nothing, and as many policemen, all in European dress, to which
they had added an imitation of European manners, the total result
being unmitigated vulgarity. They demanded my passport before they
would tell me the population of the ken and city. Once or twice I
have found fault with Ito's manners, and he has asked me twice
since if I think them like the manners of the policemen at

North of Yamagata the plain widens, and fine longitudinal ranges
capped with snow mountains on the one side, and broken ranges with
lateral spurs on the other, enclose as cheerful and pleasant a
region as one would wish to see, with many pleasant villages on the
lower slopes of the hills. The mercury was only 70 degrees, and
the wind north, so it was an especially pleasant journey, though I
had to go three and a half ri beyond Tendo, a town of 5000 people,
where I had intended to halt, because the only inns at Tendo which
were not kashitsukeya were so occupied with silk-worms that they
could not receive me.

The next day's journey was still along the same fine road, through
a succession of farming villages and towns of 1500 and 2000 people,
such as Tochiida and Obanasawa, were frequent. From both these
there was a glorious view of Chokaizan, a grand, snow-covered dome,
said to be 8000 feet high, which rises in an altogether unexpected
manner from comparatively level country, and, as the great snow-
fields of Udonosan are in sight at the same time, with most
picturesque curtain ranges below, it may be considered one of the
grandest views of Japan. After leaving Obanasawa the road passes
along a valley watered by one of the affluents of the Mogami, and,
after crossing it by a fine wooden bridge, ascends a pass from
which the view is most magnificent. After a long ascent through a
region of light, peaty soil, wooded with pine, cryptomeria, and
scrub oak, a long descent and a fine avenue terminate in Shinjo, a
wretched town of over 5000 people, situated in a plain of rice-

The day's journey, of over twenty-three miles, was through villages
of farms without yadoyas, and in many cases without even tea-
houses. The style of building has quite changed. Wood has
disappeared, and all the houses are now built with heavy beams and
walls of laths and brown mud mixed with chopped straw, and very
neat. Nearly all are great oblong barns, turned endwise to the
road, 50, 60, and even 100 feet long, with the end nearest the road
the dwelling-house. These farm-houses have no paper windows, only
amado, with a few panes of paper at the top. These are drawn back
in the daytime, and, in the better class of houses, blinds, formed
of reeds or split bamboo, are let down over the opening. There are
no ceilings, and in many cases an unmolested rat snake lives in the
rafters, who, when he is much gorged, occasionally falls down upon
a mosquito net.

Again I write that Shinjo is a wretched place. It is a daimiyo's
town, and every daimiyo's town that I have seen has an air of
decay, partly owing to the fact that the castle is either pulled
down, or has been allowed to fall into decay. Shinjo has a large
trade in rice, silk, and hemp, and ought not to be as poor as it
looks. The mosquitoes were in thousands, and I had to go to bed,
so as to be out of their reach, before I had finished my wretched
meal of sago and condensed milk. There was a hot rain all night,
my wretched room was dirty and stifling, and rats gnawed my boots
and ran away with my cucumbers.

To-day the temperature is high and the sky murky. The good road
has come to an end, and the old hardships have begun again. After
leaving Shinjo this morning we crossed over a steep ridge into a
singular basin of great beauty, with a semicircle of pyramidal
hills, rendered more striking by being covered to their summits
with pyramidal cryptomeria, and apparently blocking all northward
progress. At their feet lies Kanayama in a romantic situation,
and, though I arrived as early as noon, I am staying for a day or
two, for my room at the Transport Office is cheerful and pleasant,
the agent is most polite, a very rough region lies before me, and
Ito has secured a chicken for the first time since leaving Nikko!

I find it impossible in this damp climate, and in my present poor
health, to travel with any comfort for more than two or three days
at a time, and it is difficult to find pretty, quiet, and wholesome
places for a halt of two nights. Freedom from fleas and mosquitoes
one can never hope for, though the last vary in number, and I have
found a way of "dodging" the first by laying down a piece of oiled
paper six feet square upon the mat, dusting along its edges a band
of Persian insect powder, and setting my chair in the middle. I am
then insulated, and, though myriads of fleas jump on the paper, the
powder stupefies them, and they are easily killed. I have been
obliged to rest here at any rate, because I have been stung on my
left hand both by a hornet and a gadfly, and it is badly inflamed.
In some places the hornets are in hundreds, and make the horses
wild. I am also suffering from inflammation produced by the bites
of "horse ants," which attack one in walking. The Japanese suffer
very much from these, and a neglected bite often produces an
intractable ulcer. Besides these, there is a fly, as harmless in
appearance as our house-fly, which bites as badly as a mosquito.
These are some of the drawbacks of Japanese travelling in summer,
but worse than these is the lack of such food as one can eat when
one finishes a hard day's journey without appetite, in an
exhausting atmosphere.

July 18.--I have had so much pain and fever from stings and bites
that last night I was glad to consult a Japanese doctor from
Shinjo. Ito, who looks twice as big as usual when he has to do any
"grand" interpreting, and always puts on silk hakama in honour of
it, came in with a middle-aged man dressed entirely in silk, who
prostrated himself three times on the ground, and then sat down on
his heels. Ito in many words explained my calamities, and Dr.
Nosoki then asked to see my "honourable hand," which he examined
carefully, and then my "honourable foot." He felt my pulse and
looked at my eyes with a magnifying glass, and with much sucking in
of his breath--a sign of good breeding and politeness--informed me
that I had much fever, which I knew before; then that I must rest,
which I also knew; then he lighted his pipe and contemplated me.
Then he felt my pulse and looked at my eyes again, then felt the
swelling from the hornet bite, and said it was much inflamed, of
which I was painfully aware, and then clapped his hands three
times. At this signal a coolie appeared, carrying a handsome black
lacquer chest with the same crest in gold upon it as Dr. Nosoki
wore in white on his haori. This contained a medicine chest of
fine gold lacquer, fitted up with shelves, drawers, bottles, etc.
He compounded a lotion first, with which he bandaged my hand and
arm rather skilfully, telling me to pour the lotion over the
bandage at intervals till the pain abated. The whole was covered
with oiled paper, which answers the purpose of oiled silk. He then
compounded a febrifuge, which, as it is purely vegetable, I have
not hesitated to take, and told me to drink it in hot water, and to
avoid sake for a day or two!

I asked him what his fee was, and, after many bows and much
spluttering and sucking in of his breath, he asked if I should
think half a yen too much, and when I presented him with a yen, and
told him with a good deal of profound bowing on my part that I was
exceedingly glad to obtain his services, his gratitude quite
abashed me by its immensity.

Dr. Nosoki is one of the old-fashioned practitioners, whose medical
knowledge has been handed down from father to son, and who holds
out, as probably most of his patients do, against European methods
and drugs. A strong prejudice against surgical operations,
specially amputations, exists throughout Japan. With regard to the
latter, people think that, as they came into the world complete, so
they are bound to go out of it, and in many places a surgeon would
hardly be able to buy at any price the privilege of cutting off an

Except from books these older men know nothing of the mechanism of
the human body, as dissection is unknown to native science. Dr.
Nosoki told me that he relies mainly on the application of the moxa
and on acupuncture in the treatment of acute diseases, and in
chronic maladies on friction, medicinal baths, certain animal and
vegetable medicines, and certain kinds of food. The use of leeches
and blisters is unknown to him, and he regards mineral drugs with
obvious suspicion. He has heard of chloroform, but has never seen
it used, and considers that in maternity it must necessarily be
fatal either to mother or child. He asked me (and I have twice
before been asked the same question) whether it is not by its use
that we endeavour to keep down our redundant population! He has
great faith in ginseng, and in rhinoceros horn, and in the powdered
liver of some animal, which, from the description, I understood to
be a tiger--all specifics of the Chinese school of medicines. Dr.
Nosoki showed me a small box of "unicorn's" horn, which he said was
worth more than its weight in gold! As my arm improved
coincidently with the application of his lotion, I am bound to give
him the credit of the cure.

I invited him to dinner, and two tables were produced covered with
different dishes, of which he ate heartily, showing most singular
dexterity with his chopsticks in removing the flesh of small, bony
fish. It is proper to show appreciation of a repast by noisy
gulpings, and much gurgling and drawing in of the breath.
Etiquette rigidly prescribes these performances, which are most
distressing to a European, and my guest nearly upset my gravity by

The host and the kocho, or chief man of the village, paid me a
formal visit in the evening, and Ito, en grande tenue, exerted
himself immensely on the occasion. They were much surprised at my
not smoking, and supposed me to be under a vow! They asked me many
questions about our customs and Government, but frequently reverted
to tobacco.

I. L. B.


The Effect of a Chicken--Poor Fare--Slow Travelling--Objects of
Interest--Kak'ke--The Fatal Close--A Great Fire--Security of the

SHINGOJI, July 21.

Very early in the morning, after my long talk with the Kocho of
Kanayama, Ito wakened me by saying, "You'll be able for a long
day's journey to-day, as you had a chicken yesterday," and under
this chicken's marvellous influence we got away at 6.45, only to
verify the proverb, "The more haste the worse speed." Unsolicited
by me the Kocho sent round the village to forbid the people from
assembling, so I got away in peace with a pack-horse and one
runner. It was a terrible road, with two severe mountain-passes to
cross, and I not only had to walk nearly the whole way, but to help
the man with the kuruma up some of the steepest places. Halting at
the exquisitely situated village of Nosoki, we got one horse, and
walked by a mountain road along the head-waters of the Omono to
Innai. I wish I could convey to you any idea of the beauty and
wildness of that mountain route, of the surprises on the way, of
views, of the violent deluges of rain which turned rivulets into
torrents, and of the hardships and difficulties of the day; the
scanty fare of sun-dried rice dough and sour yellow rasps, and the
depth of the mire through which we waded! We crossed the Shione
and Sakatsu passes, and in twelve hours accomplished fifteen miles!
Everywhere we were told that we should never get through the
country by the way we are going.

The women still wear trousers, but with a long garment tucked into
them instead of a short one, and the men wear a cotton combination
of breastplate and apron, either without anything else, or over
their kimonos. The descent to Innai under an avenue of
cryptomeria, and the village itself, shut in with the rushing
Omono, are very beautiful.

The yadoya at Innai was a remarkably cheerful one, but my room was
entirely fusuma and shoji, and people were peeping in the whole
time. It is not only a foreigner and his strange ways which
attract attention in these remote districts, but, in my case, my
india-rubber bath, air-pillow, and, above all, my white mosquito
net. Their nets are all of a heavy green canvas, and they admire
mine so much, that I can give no more acceptable present on leaving
than a piece of it to twist in with the hair. There were six
engineers in the next room who are surveying the passes which I had
crossed, in order to see if they could be tunnelled, in which case
kurumas might go all the way from Tokiyo to Kubota on the Sea of
Japan, and, with a small additional outlay, carts also.

In the two villages of Upper and Lower Innai there has been an
outbreak of a malady much dreaded by the Japanese, called kak'ke,
which, in the last seven months, has carried off 100 persons out of
a population of about 1500, and the local doctors have been aided
by two sent from the Medical School at Kubota. I don't know a
European name for it; the Japanese name signifies an affection of
the legs. Its first symptoms are a loss of strength in the legs,
"looseness in the knees," cramps in the calves, swelling, and
numbness. This, Dr. Anderson, who has studied kak'ke in more than
1100 cases in Tokiyo, calls the sub-acute form. The chronic is a
slow, numbing, and wasting malady, which, if unchecked, results in
death from paralysis and exhaustion in from six months to three
years. The third, or acute form, Dr. Anderson describes thus.
After remarking that the grave symptoms set in quite unexpectedly,
and go on rapidly increasing, he says:- "The patient now can lie
down no longer; he sits up in bed and tosses restlessly from one
position to another, and, with wrinkled brow, staring and anxious
eyes, dusky skin, blue, parted lips, dilated nostrils, throbbing
neck, and labouring chest, presents a picture of the most terrible
distress that the worst of diseases can inflict. There is no
intermission even for a moment, and the physician, here almost
powerless, can do little more than note the failing pulse and
falling temperature, and wait for the moment when the brain,
paralysed by the carbonised blood, shall become insensible, and
allow the dying man to pass his last moments in merciful
unconsciousness." {15}

The next morning, after riding nine miles through a quagmire, under
grand avenues of cryptomeria, and noticing with regret that the
telegraph poles ceased, we reached Yusowa, a town of 7000 people,
in which, had it not been for provoking delays, I should have slept
instead of at Innai, and found that a fire a few hours previously
had destroyed seventy houses, including the yadoya at which I
should have lodged. We had to wait two hours for horses, as all
were engaged in moving property and people. The ground where the
houses had stood was absolutely bare of everything but fine black
ash, among which the kuras stood blackened, and, in some instances,
slightly cracked, but in all unharmed. Already skeletons of new
houses were rising. No life had been lost except that of a tipsy
man, but I should probably have lost everything but my money.

LETTER XX--(Continued)

Lunch in Public--A Grotesque Accident--Police Inquiries--Man or
Woman?--A Melancholy Stare--A Vicious Horse--An Ill-favoured Town--
A Disappointment--A Torii.

Yusowa is a specially objectionable-looking place. I took my
lunch--a wretched meal of a tasteless white curd made from beans,
with some condensed milk added to it--in a yard, and the people
crowded in hundreds to the gate, and those behind, being unable to
see me, got ladders and climbed on the adjacent roofs, where they
remained till one of the roofs gave way with a loud crash, and
precipitated about fifty men, women, and children into the room
below, which fortunately was vacant. Nobody screamed--a noteworthy
fact--and the casualties were only a few bruises. Four policemen
then appeared and demanded my passport, as if I were responsible
for the accident, and failing, like all others, to read a
particular word upon it, they asked me what I was travelling for,
and on being told "to learn about the country," they asked if I was
making a map! Having satisfied their curiosity they disappeared,
and the crowd surged up again in fuller force. The Transport Agent
begged them to go away, but they said they might never see such a
sight again! One old peasant said he would go away if he were told
whether "the sight" were a man or a woman, and, on the agent asking
if that were any business of his, he said he should like to tell at
home what he had seen, which awoke my sympathy at once, and I told
Ito to tell them that a Japanese horse galloping night and day
without ceasing would take 5.5 weeks to reach my county--a
statement which he is using lavishly as I go along. These are such
queer crowds, so silent and gaping, and they remain motionless for
hours, the wide-awake babies on the mothers' backs and in the
fathers' arms never crying. I should be glad to hear a hearty
aggregate laugh, even if I were its object. The great melancholy
stare is depressing.

The road for ten miles was thronged with country people going in to
see the fire. It was a good road and very pleasant country, with
numerous road-side shrines and figures of the goddess of mercy. I
had a wicked horse, thoroughly vicious. His head was doubly
chained to the saddle-girth, but he never met man, woman, or child,
without laying back his ears and running at them to bite them. I
was so tired and in so much spinal pain that I got off and walked
several times, and it was most difficult to get on again, for as
soon as I put my hand on the saddle he swung his hind legs round to
kick me, and it required some agility to avoid being hurt. Nor was
this all. The evil beast made dashes with his tethered head at
flies, threatening to twist or demolish my foot at each, flung his
hind legs upwards, attempted to dislodge flies on his nose with his
hind hoof, executed capers which involved a total disappearance of
everything in front of the saddle, squealed, stumbled, kicked his
old shoes off, and resented the feeble attempts which the mago made
to replace them, and finally walked in to Yokote and down its long
and dismal street mainly on his hind legs, shaking the rope out of
his timid leader's hand, and shaking me into a sort of aching
jelly! I used to think that horses were made vicious either by
being teased or by violence in breaking; but this does not account
for the malignity of the Japanese horses, for the people are so
much afraid of them that they treat them with great respect: they
are not beaten or kicked, are spoken to in soothing tones, and, on
the whole, live better than their masters. Perhaps this is the
secret of their villainy--"Jeshurun waxed fat and kicked."

Yokote, a town of 10,000 people, in which the best yadoyas are all
non-respectable, is an ill-favoured, ill-smelling, forlorn, dirty,
damp, miserable place, with a large trade in cottons. As I rode
through on my temporary biped the people rushed out from the baths
to see me, men and women alike without a particle of clothing. The
house-master was very polite, but I had a dark and dirty room, up a
bamboo ladder, and it swarmed with fleas and mosquitoes to an
exasperating extent. On the way I heard that a bullock was killed
every Thursday in Yokote, and had decided on having a broiled steak
for supper and taking another with me, but when I arrived it was
all sold, there were no eggs, and I made a miserable meal of rice
and bean curd, feeling somewhat starved, as the condensed milk I
bought at Yamagata had to be thrown away. I was somewhat wretched
from fatigue and inflamed ant bites, but in the early morning, hot
and misty as all the mornings have been, I went to see a Shinto
temple, or miya, and, though I went alone, escaped a throng.

The entrance into the temple court was, as usual, by a torii, which
consisted of two large posts 20 feet high, surmounted with cross
beams, the upper one of which projects beyond the posts and
frequently curves upwards at both ends. The whole, as is often the
case, was painted a dull red. This torii, or "birds' rest," is
said to be so called because the fowls, which were formerly offered
but not sacrificed, were accustomed to perch upon it. A straw
rope, with straw tassels and strips of paper hanging from it, the
special emblem of Shinto, hung across the gateway. In the paved
court there were several handsome granite lanterns on fine granite
pedestals, such as are the nearly universal accompaniments of both
Shinto and Buddhist temples.

After leaving Yakote we passed through very pretty country with
mountain views and occasional glimpses of the snowy dome of
Chokaizan, crossed the Omono (which has burst its banks and
destroyed its bridges) by two troublesome ferries, and arrived at
Rokugo, a town of 5000 people, with fine temples, exceptionally
mean houses, and the most aggressive crowd by which I have yet been

There, through the good offices of the police, I was enabled to
attend a Buddhist funeral of a merchant of some wealth. It
interested me very much from its solemnity and decorum, and Ito's
explanations of what went before were remarkably distinctly given.
I went in a Japanese woman's dress, borrowed at the tea-house, with
a blue hood over my head, and thus escaped all notice, but I found
the restraint of the scanty "tied forward" kimono very tiresome.
Ito gave me many injunctions as to what I was to do and avoid,
which I carried out faithfully, being nervously anxious to avoid
jarring on the sensibilities of those who had kindly permitted a
foreigner to be present.

The illness was a short one, and there had been no time either for
prayers or pilgrimages on the sick man's behalf. When death occurs
the body is laid with its head to the north (a position that the
living Japanese scrupulously avoid), near a folding screen, between
which and it a new zen is placed, on which are a saucer of oil with
a lighted rush, cakes of uncooked rice dough, and a saucer of
incense sticks. The priests directly after death choose the
kaimiyo, or posthumous name, write it on a tablet of white wood,
and seat themselves by the corpse; his zen, bowls, cups, etc., are
filled with vegetable food and are placed by his side, the
chopsticks being put on the wrong, i.e. the left, side of the zen.
At the end of forty-eight hours the corpse is arranged for the
coffin by being washed with warm water, and the priest, while
saying certain prayers, shaves the head. In all cases, rich or
poor, the dress is of the usual make, but of pure white linen or

At Omagori, a town near Rokugo, large earthenware jars are
manufactured, which are much used for interment by the wealthy; but
in this case there were two square boxes, the outer one being of
finely planed wood of the Retinospora obtusa. The poor use what is
called the "quick-tub," a covered tub of pine hooped with bamboo.
Women are dressed for burial in the silk robe worn on the marriage
day, tabi are placed beside them or on their feet, and their hair
usually flows loosely behind them. The wealthiest people fill the
coffin with vermilion and the poorest use chaff; but in this case I
heard that only the mouth, nose, and ears were filled with
vermilion, and that the coffin was filled up with coarse incense.
The body is placed within the tub or box in the usual squatting
position. It is impossible to understand how a human body, many
hours after death, can be pressed into the limited space afforded
by even the outermost of the boxes. It has been said that the
rigidity of a corpse is overcome by the use of a powder called
dosia, which is sold by the priests; but this idea has been
exploded, and the process remains incomprehensible.

Bannerets of small size and ornamental staves were outside the
house door. Two men in blue dresses, with pale blue over-garments
resembling wings received each person, two more presented a
lacquered bowl of water and a white silk crepe towel, and then we
passed into a large room, round which were arranged a number of
very handsome folding screens, on which lotuses, storks, and
peonies were realistically painted on a dead gold ground. Near the
end of the room the coffin, under a canopy of white silk, upon
which there was a very beautiful arrangement of artificial white
lotuses, rested upon trestles, the face of the corpse being turned
towards the north. Six priests, very magnificently dressed, sat on
each side of the coffin, and two more knelt in front of a small
temporary altar.

The widow, an extremely pretty woman, squatted near the deceased,
below the father and mother; and after her came the children,
relatives, and friends, who sat in rows, dressed in winged garments
of blue and white. The widow was painted white; her lips were
reddened with vermilion; her hair was elaborately dressed and
ornamented with carved shell pins; she wore a beautiful dress of
sky-blue silk, with a haori of fine white crepe and a scarlet crepe
girdle embroidered in gold, and looked like a bride on her marriage
day rather than a widow.

Indeed, owing to the beauty of the dresses and the amount of blue
and white silk, the room had a festal rather than a funereal look.
When all the guests had arrived, tea and sweetmeats were passed
round; incense was burned profusely; litanies were mumbled, and the
bustle of moving to the grave began, during which I secured a place
near the gate of the temple grounds.

The procession did not contain the father or mother of the
deceased, but I understood that the mourners who composed it were
all relatives. The oblong tablet with the "dead name" of the
deceased was carried first by a priest, then the lotus blossom by
another priest, then ten priests followed, two and two, chanting
litanies from books, then came the coffin on a platform borne by
four men and covered with white drapery, then the widow, and then
the other relatives. The coffin was carried into the temple and
laid upon trestles, while incense was burned and prayers were said,
and was then carried to a shallow grave lined with cement, and
prayers were said by the priests until the earth was raised to the
proper level, when all dispersed, and the widow, in her gay attire,
walked home unattended. There were no hired mourners or any signs
of grief, but nothing could be more solemn, reverent, and decorous
than the whole service. [I have since seen many funerals, chiefly
of the poor, and, though shorn of much of the ceremony, and with
only one officiating priest, the decorum was always most
remarkable.] The fees to the priests are from 2 up to 40 or 50
yen. The graveyard, which surrounds the temple, was extremely
beautiful, and the cryptomeria specially fine. It was very full of
stone gravestones, and, like all Japanese cemeteries, exquisitely
kept. As soon as the grave was filled in, a life-size pink lotus
plant was placed upon it, and a lacquer tray, on which were lacquer
bowls containing tea or sake, beans, and sweetmeats.

The temple at Rokugo was very beautiful, and, except that its
ornaments were superior in solidity and good taste, differed little
from a Romish church. The low altar, on which were lilies and
lighted candles, was draped in blue and silver, and on the high
altar, draped in crimson and cloth of gold, there was nothing but a
closed shrine, an incense-burner, and a vase of lotuses.

LETTER XX--(Concluded)

A Casual Invitation--A Ludicrous Incident--Politeness of a
Policeman--A Comfortless Sunday--An Outrageous Irruption--A
Privileged Stare.

At a wayside tea-house, soon after leaving Rokugo in kurumas, I met
the same courteous and agreeable young doctor who was stationed at
Innai during the prevalence of kak'ke, and he invited me to visit
the hospital at Kubota, of which he is junior physician, and told
Ito of a restaurant at which "foreign food" can be obtained--a
pleasant prospect, of which he is always reminding me.

Travelling along a very narrow road, I as usual first, we met a man
leading a prisoner by a rope, followed by a policeman. As soon as
my runner saw the latter he fell down on his face so suddenly in
the shafts as nearly to throw me out, at the same time trying to
wriggle into a garment which he had carried on the crossbar, while
the young men who were drawing the two kurumas behind, crouching
behind my vehicle, tried to scuttle into their clothes. I never
saw such a picture of abjectness as my man presented. He trembled
from head to foot, and illustrated that queer phrase often heard in
Scotch Presbyterian prayers, "Lay our hands on our mouths and our
mouths in the dust." He literally grovelled in the dust, and with
every sentence that the policeman spoke raised his head a little,
to bow it yet more deeply than before. It was all because he had
no clothes on. I interceded for him as the day was very hot, and
the policeman said he would not arrest him, as he should otherwise
have done, because of the inconvenience that it would cause to a
foreigner. He was quite an elderly man, and never recovered his
spirits, but, as soon as a turn of the road took us out of the
policeman's sight, the two younger men threw their clothes into the
air and gambolled in the shafts, shrieking with laughter!

On reaching Shingoji, being too tired to go farther, I was dismayed
to find nothing but a low, dark, foul-smelling room, enclosed only
by dirty shoji, in which to spend Sunday. One side looked into a
little mildewed court, with a slimy growth of Protococcus viridis,
and into which the people of another house constantly came to
stare. The other side opened on the earthen passage into the
street, where travellers wash their feet, the third into the
kitchen, and the fourth into the front room. Even before dark it
was alive with mosquitoes, and the fleas hopped on the mats like
sand-flies. There were no eggs, nothing but rice and cucumbers.
At five on Sunday morning I saw three faces pressed against the
outer lattice, and before evening the shoji were riddled with
finger-holes, at each of which a dark eye appeared. There was a
still, fine rain all day, with the mercury at 82 degrees, and the
heat, darkness, and smells were difficult to endure. In the
afternoon a small procession passed the house, consisting of a
decorated palanquin, carried and followed by priests, with capes
and stoles over crimson chasubles and white cassocks. This ark,
they said, contained papers inscribed with the names of people and
the evils they feared, and the priests were carrying the papers to
throw them into the river.

I went to bed early as a refuge from mosquitoes, with the andon, as
usual, dimly lighting the room, and shut my eyes. About nine I
heard a good deal of whispering and shuffling, which continued for
some time, and, on looking up, saw opposite to me about 40 men,
women, and children (Ito says 100), all staring at me, with the
light upon their faces. They had silently removed three of the
shoji next the passage! I called Ito loudly, and clapped my hands,
but they did not stir till he came, and then they fled like a flock
of sheep. I have patiently, and even smilingly, borne all out-of-
doors crowding and curiosity, but this kind of intrusion is
unbearable; and I sent Ito to the police station, much against his
will, to beg the police to keep the people out of the house, as the
house-master was unable to do so. This morning, as I was finishing
dressing, a policeman appeared in my room, ostensibly to apologise
for the behaviour of the people, but in reality to have a
privileged stare at me, and, above all, at my stretcher and
mosquito net, from which he hardly took his eyes. Ito says he
could make a yen a day by showing them! The policeman said that
the people had never seen a foreigner.

I. L. B.


The Necessity of Firmness--Perplexing Misrepresentations--Gliding
with the Stream--Suburban Residences--The Kubota Hospital--A Formal
Reception--The Normal School.

KUBOTA, July 23.

I arrived here on Monday afternoon by the river Omono, what would
have been two long days' journey by land having been easily
accomplished in nine hours by water. This was an instance of
forming a plan wisely, and adhering to it resolutely! Firmness in
travelling is nowhere more necessary than in Japan. I decided some
time ago, from Mr. Brunton's map, that the Omono must be navigable
from Shingoji, and a week ago told Ito to inquire about it, but at
each place difficulties have been started. There was too much
water, there was too little; there were bad rapids, there were
shallows; it was too late in the year; all the boats which had
started lately were lying aground; but at one of the ferries I saw
in the distance a merchandise boat going down, and told Ito I
should go that way and no other. On arriving at Shingoji they said
it was not on the Omono at all, but on a stream with some very bad
rapids, in which boats are broken to pieces. Lastly, they said
there was no boat, but on my saying that I would send ten miles for
one, a small, flat-bottomed scow was produced by the Transport
Agent, into which Ito, the luggage, and myself accurately fitted.
Ito sententiously observed, "Not one thing has been told us on our
journey which has turned out true!" This is not an exaggeration.
The usual crowd did not assemble round the door, but preceded me to
the river, where it covered the banks and clustered in the trees.
Four policemen escorted me down. The voyage of forty-two miles was
delightful. The rapids were a mere ripple, the current was strong,
one boatman almost slept upon his paddle, the other only woke to
bale the boat when it was half-full of water, the shores were
silent and pretty, and almost without population till we reached
the large town of Araya, which straggles along a high bank for a
considerable distance, and after nine peaceful hours we turned off
from the main stream of the Omono just at the outskirts of Kubota,
and poled up a narrow, green river, fringed by dilapidated backs of
houses, boat-building yards, and rafts of timber on one side, and
dwelling-houses, gardens, and damp greenery on the other. This
stream is crossed by very numerous bridges.

I got a cheerful upstairs room at a most friendly yadoya, and my
three days here have been fully occupied and very pleasant.
"Foreign food"--a good beef-steak, an excellent curry, cucumbers,
and foreign salt and mustard, were at once obtained, and I felt my
"eyes lightened" after partaking of them.

Kubota is a very attractive and purely Japanese town of 36,000
people, the capital of Akita ken. A fine mountain, called
Taiheisan, rises above its fertile valley, and the Omono falls into
the Sea of Japan close to it. It has a number of kurumas, but,
owing to heavy sand and the badness of the roads, they can only go
three miles in any direction. It is a town of activity and brisk
trade, and manufactures a silk fabric in stripes of blue and black,
and yellow and black, much used for making hakama and kimonos, a
species of white silk crepe with a raised woof, which brings a high
price in Tokiyo shops, fusuma, and clogs. Though it is a castle
town, it is free from the usual "deadly-lively" look, and has an
air of prosperity and comfort. Though it has few streets of shops,
it covers a great extent of ground with streets and lanes of
pretty, isolated dwelling-houses, surrounded by trees, gardens, and
well-trimmed hedges, each garden entered by a substantial gateway.
The existence of something like a middle class with home privacy
and home life is suggested by these miles of comfortable "suburban
residences." Foreign influence is hardly at all felt, there is not
a single foreigner in Government or any other employment, and even
the hospital was organised from the beginning by Japanese doctors.

This fact made me greatly desire to see it, but, on going there at
the proper hour for visitors, I was met by the Director with
courteous but vexatious denial. No foreigner could see it, he
said, without sending his passport to the Governor and getting a
written order, so I complied with these preliminaries, and 8 a.m.
of the next day was fixed for my visit Ito, who is lazy about
interpreting for the lower orders, but exerts himself to the utmost
on such an occasion as this, went with me, handsomely clothed in
silk, as befitted an "Interpreter," and surpassed all his former

The Director and the staff of six physicians, all handsomely
dressed in silk, met me at the top of the stairs, and conducted me
to the management room, where six clerks were writing. Here there
was a table, solemnly covered with a white cloth, and four chairs,
on which the Director, the Chief Physician, Ito, and I sat, and
pipes, tea, and sweetmeats, were produced. After this, accompanied
by fifty medical students, whose intelligent looks promise well for
their success, we went round the hospital, which is a large two-
storied building in semi-European style, but with deep verandahs
all round. The upper floor is used for class-rooms, and the lower
accommodates 100 patients, besides a number of resident students.
Ten is the largest number treated in any one room, and severe cases
are treated in separate rooms. Gangrene has prevailed, and the
Chief Physician, who is at this time remodelling the hospital, has
closed some of the wards in consequence. There is a Lock Hospital
under the same roof. About fifty important operations are annually
performed under chloroform, but the people of Akita ken are very
conservative, and object to part with their limbs and to foreign
drugs. This conservatism diminishes the number of patients.

The odour of carbolic acid pervaded the whole hospital, and there
were spray producers enough to satisfy Mr. Lister! At the request
of Dr. K. I saw the dressing of some very severe wounds carefully
performed with carbolised gauze, under spray of carbolic acid, the
fingers of the surgeon and the instruments used being all carefully
bathed in the disinfectant. Dr. K. said it was difficult to teach
the students the extreme carefulness with regard to minor details
which is required in the antiseptic treatment, which he regards as
one of the greatest discoveries of this century. I was very much
impressed with the fortitude shown by the surgical patients, who
went through very severe pain without a wince or a moan. Eye cases
are unfortunately very numerous. Dr. K. attributes their extreme
prevalence to overcrowding, defective ventilation, poor living, and
bad light.

After our round we returned to the management room to find a meal
laid out in English style--coffee in cups with handles and saucers,
and plates with spoons. After this pipes were again produced, and
the Director and medical staff escorted me to the entrance, where
we all bowed profoundly. I was delighted to see that Dr.
Kayabashi, a man under thirty, and fresh from Tokiyo, and all the
staff and students were in the national dress, with the hakama of
rich silk. It is a beautiful dress, and assists dignity as much as
the ill-fitting European costume detracts from it. This was a very
interesting visit, in spite of the difficulty of communication
through an interpreter.

The public buildings, with their fine gardens, and the broad road
near which they stand, with its stone-faced embankments, are very
striking in such a far-off ken. Among the finest of the buildings
is the Normal School, where I shortly afterwards presented myself,
but I was not admitted till I had shown my passport and explained
my objects in travelling. These preliminaries being settled, Mr.
Tomatsu Aoki, the Chief Director, and Mr. Shude Kane Nigishi, the
principal teacher, both looking more like monkeys than men in their
European clothes, lionised me.

The first was most trying, for he persisted in attempting to speak
English, of which he knows about as much as I know of Japanese, but
the last, after some grotesque attempts, accepted Ito's services.
The school is a commodious Europeanised building, three stories
high, and from its upper balcony the view of the city, with its
gray roofs and abundant greenery, and surrounding mountains and
valleys, is very fine. The equipments of the different class-rooms
surprised me, especially the laboratory of the chemical class-room,
and the truly magnificent illustrative apparatus in the natural
science class-room. Ganot's "Physics" is the text book of that

I. L. B.


A Silk Factory--Employment for Women--A Police Escort--The Japanese
Police Force.

KUBOTA, July 23.

My next visit was to a factory of handloom silk-weavers, where 180
hands, half of them women, are employed. These new industrial
openings for respectable employment for women and girls are very
important, and tend in the direction of a much-needed social
reform. The striped silk fabrics produced are entirely for home

Afterwards I went into the principal street, and, after a long
search through the shops, bought some condensed milk with the
"Eagle" brand and the label all right, but, on opening it, found it
to contain small pellets of a brownish, dried curd, with an
unpleasant taste! As I was sitting in the shop, half stifled by
the crowd, the people suddenly fell back to a respectful distance,
leaving me breathing space, and a message came from the chief of
police to say that he was very sorry for the crowding, and had
ordered two policemen to attend upon me for the remainder of my
visit. The black and yellow uniforms were most truly welcome, and
since then I have escaped all annoyance. On my return I found the
card of the chief of police, who had left a message with the house-
master apologising for the crowd by saying that foreigners very
rarely visited Kubota, and he thought that the people had never
seen a foreign woman.

I went afterwards to the central police station to inquire about an
inland route to Aomori, and received much courtesy, but no
information. The police everywhere are very gentle to the people,-
-a few quiet words or a wave of the hand are sufficient, when they
do not resist them. They belong to the samurai class, and,
doubtless, their naturally superior position weighs with the
heimin. Their faces and a certain hauteur of manner show the
indelible class distinction. The entire police force of Japan
numbers 23,300 educated men in the prime of life, and if 30 per
cent of them do wear spectacles, it does not detract from their
usefulness. 5600 of them are stationed at Yedo, as from thence
they can be easily sent wherever they are wanted, 1004 at Kiyoto,
and 815 at Osaka, and the remaining 10,000 are spread over the
country. The police force costs something over 400,000 pounds
annually, and certainly is very efficient in preserving good order.
The pay of ordinary constables ranges from 6 to 10 yen a month. An
enormous quantity of superfluous writing is done by all officialdom
in Japan, and one usually sees policemen writing. What comes of it
I don't know. They are mostly intelligent and gentlemanly-looking
young men, and foreigners in the interior are really much indebted
to them. If I am at any time in difficulties I apply to them, and,
though they are disposed to be somewhat de haut en bas, they are
sure to help one, except about routes, of which they always profess

On the whole, I like Kubota better than any other Japanese town,
perhaps because it is so completely Japanese and has no air of
having seen better days. I no longer care to meet Europeans--
indeed I should go far out of my way to avoid them. I have become
quite used to Japanese life, and think that I learn more about it
in travelling in this solitary way than I should otherwise. I. L.


"A Plague of Immoderate Rain"--A Confidential Servant--Ito's Diary-
-Ito's Excellences--Ito's Faults--Prophecy of the Future of Japan--
Curious Queries--Superfine English--Economical Travelling--The
Japanese Pack-horse again.

KUBOTA, July 24.

I am here still, not altogether because the town is fascinating,
but because the rain is so ceaseless as to be truly "a plague of
immoderate rain and waters." Travellers keep coming in with
stories of the impassability of the roads and the carrying away of
bridges. Ito amuses me very much by his remarks. He thinks that
my visit to the school and hospital must have raised Japan in my
estimation, and he is talking rather big. He asked me if I noticed
that all the students kept their mouths shut like educated men and
residents of Tokiyo, and that all country people keep theirs open.
I have said little about him for some time, but I daily feel more
dependent on him, not only for all information, but actually for
getting on. At night he has my watch, passport, and half my money,
and I often wonder what would become of me if he absconded before
morning. He is not a good boy. He has no moral sense, according
to our notions; he dislikes foreigners; his manner is often very
disagreeable; and yet I doubt whether I could have obtained a more
valuable servant and interpreter. When we left Tokiyo he spoke
fairly good English, but by practice and industrious study he now
speaks better than any official interpreter that I have seen, and
his vocabulary is daily increasing. He never uses a word
inaccurately when he has once got hold of its meaning, and his
memory never fails. He keeps a diary both in English and Japanese,
and it shows much painstaking observation. He reads it to me
sometimes, and it is interesting to hear what a young man who has
travelled as much as he has regards as novel in this northern
region. He has made a hotel book and a transport book, in which
all the bills and receipts are written, and he daily transliterates
the names of all places into English letters, and puts down the
distances and the sums paid for transport and hotels on each bill.

He inquires the number of houses in each place from the police or
Transport Agent, and the special trade of each town, and notes them
down for me. He takes great pains to be accurate, and occasionally
remarks about some piece of information that he is not quite
certain about, "If it's not true, it's not worth having." He is
never late, never dawdles, never goes out in the evening except on
errands for me, never touches sake, is never disobedient, never
requires to be told the same thing twice, is always within hearing,
has a good deal of tact as to what he repeats, and all with an
undisguised view to his own interest. He sends most of his wages
to his mother, who is a widow--"It's the custom of the country"--
and seems to spend the remainder on sweetmeats, tobacco, and the
luxury of frequent shampooing.

That he would tell a lie if it served his purpose, and would
"squeeze" up to the limits of extortion, if he could do it
unobserved, I have not the slightest doubt. He seems to have but
little heart, or any idea of any but vicious pleasures. He has no
religion of any kind; he has been too much with foreigners for
that. His frankness is something startling. He has no idea of
reticence on any subject; but probably I learn more about things as
they really are from this very defect. In virtue in man or woman,
except in that of his former master, he has little, if any belief.
He thinks that Japan is right in availing herself of the
discoveries made by foreigners, that they have as much to learn
from her, and that she will outstrip them in the race, because she
takes all that is worth having, and rejects the incubus of
Christianity. Patriotism is, I think, his strongest feeling, and I
never met with such a boastful display of it, except in a Scotchman
or an American. He despises the uneducated, as he can read and
write both the syllabaries. For foreign rank or position he has
not an atom of reverence or value, but a great deal of both for
Japanese officialdom. He despises the intellects of women, but
flirts in a town-bred fashion with the simple tea-house girls.

He is anxious to speak the very best English, and to say that a
word is slangy or common interdicts its use. Sometimes, when the
weather is fine and things go smoothly, he is in an excellent and
communicative humour, and talks a good deal as we travel. A few
days ago I remarked, "What a beautiful day this is!" and soon
after, note-book in hand, he said, "You say 'a beautiful day.' Is
that better English than 'a devilish fine day,' which most
foreigners say?" I replied that it was "common," and "beautiful"
has been brought out frequently since. Again, "When you ask a
question you never say, 'What the d-l is it?' as other foreigners
do. Is it proper for men to say it and not for women?" I told him
it was proper for neither, it was a very "common" word, and I saw
that he erased it from his note-book. At first he always used
fellows for men, as, "Will you have one or two FELLOWS for your
kuruma?" "FELLOWS and women." At last he called the Chief
Physician of the hospital here a FELLOW, on which I told him that
it was slightly slangy, and at least "colloquial," and for two days
he has scrupulously spoken of man and men. To-day he brought a boy
with very sore eyes to see me, on which I exclaimed, "Poor little
fellow!" and this evening he said, "You called that boy a fellow, I
thought it was a bad word!" The habits of many of the Yokohama
foreigners have helped to obliterate any distinctions between right
and wrong, if he ever made any. If he wishes to tell me that he
has seen a very tipsy man, he always says he has seen "a fellow as
drunk as an Englishman." At Nikko I asked him how many legal wives
a man could have in Japan, and he replied, "Only one lawful one,
but as many others (mekake) as he can support, just as Englishmen
have." He never forgets a correction. Till I told him it was
slangy he always spoke of inebriated people as "tight," and when I
gave him the words "tipsy," "drunk," "intoxicated," he asked me
which one would use in writing good English, and since then he has
always spoken of people as "intoxicated."

He naturally likes large towns, and tries to deter me from taking
the "unbeaten tracks," which I prefer--but when he finds me
immovable, always concludes his arguments with the same formula,
"Well, of course you can do as you like; it's all the same to me."
I do not think he cheats me to any extent. Board, lodging, and
travelling expenses for us both are about 6s. 6d. a day, and about
2s. 6d. when we are stationary, and this includes all gratuities
and extras. True, the board and lodging consist of tea, rice, and
eggs, a copper basin of water, an andon and an empty room, for,
though there are plenty of chickens in all the villages, the people
won't be bribed to sell them for killing, though they would gladly
part with them if they were to be kept to lay eggs. Ito amuses me
nearly every night with stories of his unsuccessful attempts to
provide me with animal food.

The travelling is the nearest approach to "a ride on a rail" that I
have ever made. I have now ridden, or rather sat, upon seventy-six
horses, all horrible. They all stumble. The loins of some are
higher than their shoulders, so that one slips forwards, and the
back-bones of all are ridgy. Their hind feet grow into points
which turn up, and their hind legs all turn outwards, like those of
a cat, from carrying heavy burdens at an early age. The same thing
gives them a roll in their gait, which is increased by their
awkward shoes. In summer they feed chiefly on leaves, supplemented
with mashes of bruised beans, and instead of straw they sleep on
beds of leaves. In their stalls their heads are tied "where their
tails should be," and their fodder is placed not in a manger, but
in a swinging bucket. Those used in this part of Japan are worth
from 15 to 30 yen. I have not seen any overloading or ill-
treatment; they are neither kicked, nor beaten, nor threatened in
rough tones, and when they die they are decently buried, and have
stones placed over their graves. It might be well if the end of a
worn-out horse were somewhat accelerated, but this is mainly a
Buddhist region, and the aversion to taking animal life is very
strong. I. L. B.


The Symbolism of Seaweed--Afternoon Visitors--An Infant Prodigy--A
Feat in Caligraphy--Child Worship--A Borrowed Dress--A Trousseau--
House Furniture--The Marriage Ceremony.

KUBOTA, July 25.

The weather at last gives a hope of improvement, and I think I
shall leave to-morrow. I had written this sentence when Ito came
in to say that the man in the next house would like to see my
stretcher and mosquito net, and had sent me a bag of cakes with the
usual bit of seaweed attached, to show that it was a present. The
Japanese believe themselves to be descended from a race of
fishermen; they are proud of it, and Yebis, the god of fishermen,
is one of the most popular of the household divinities. The piece
of seaweed sent with a present to any ordinary person, and the
piece of dried fish-skin which accompanies a present to the Mikado,
record the origin of the race, and at the same time typify the
dignity of simple industry.

Of course I consented to receive the visitor, and with the mercury
at 84 degrees, five men, two boys, and five women entered my small,
low room, and after bowing to the earth three times, sat down on
the floor. They had evidently come to spend the afternoon. Trays
of tea and sweetmeats were handed round, and a labako-bon was
brought in, and they all smoked, as I had told Ito that all usual
courtesies were to be punctiliously performed. They expressed
their gratification at seeing so "honourable" a traveller. I
expressed mine at seeing so much of their "honourable" country.
Then we all bowed profoundly. Then I laid Brunton's map on the
floor and showed them my route, showed them the Asiatic Society's
Transactions, and how we read from left to right, instead of from
top to bottom, showed them my knitting, which amazed them, and my
Berlin work, and then had nothing left. Then they began to
entertain me, and I found that the real object of their visit was
to exhibit an "infant prodigy," a boy of four, with a head shaven
all but a tuft on the top, a face of preternatural thoughtfulness
and gravity, and the self-possessed and dignified demeanour of an
elderly man. He was dressed in scarlet silk hakama, and a dark,
striped, blue silk kimono, and fanned himself gracefully, looking
at everything as intelligently and courteously as the others. To
talk child's talk to him, or show him toys, or try to amuse him,
would have been an insult. The monster has taught himself to read
and write, and has composed poetry. His father says that he never
plays, and understands everything just like a grown person. The
intention was that I should ask him to write, and I did so.

It was a solemn performance. A red blanket was laid in the middle
of the floor, with a lacquer writing-box upon it. The creature
rubbed the ink with water on the inkstone, unrolled four rolls of
paper, five feet long, and inscribed them with Chinese characters,
nine inches long, of the most complicated kind, with firm and
graceful curves of his brush, and with the ease and certainty of
Giotto in turning his O. He sealed them with his seal in
vermilion, bowed three times, and the performance was ended.
People get him to write kakemonos and signboards for them, and he
had earned 10 yen, or about 2 pounds, that day. His father is
going to travel to Kiyoto with him, to see if any one under
fourteen can write as well. I never saw such an exaggerated
instance of child worship. Father, mother, friends, and servants,
treated him as if he were a prince.

The house-master, who is a most polite man, procured me an
invitation to the marriage of his niece, and I have just returned
from it. He has three "wives" himself. One keeps a yadoya in
Kiyoto, another in Morioka, and the third and youngest is with him
here. From her limitless stores of apparel she chose what she
considered a suitable dress for me--an under-dress of sage green
silk crepe, a kimono of soft, green, striped silk of a darker
shade, with a fold of white crepe, spangled with gold at the neck,
and a girdle of sage green corded silk, with the family badge here
and there upon it in gold. I went with the house-master, Ito, to
his disgust, not being invited, and his absence was like the loss
of one of my senses, as I could not get any explanations till

The ceremony did not correspond with the rules laid down for
marriages in the books of etiquette that I have seen, but this is
accounted for by the fact that they were for persons of the samurai
class, while this bride and bridegroom, though the children of
well-to-do merchants, belong to the heimin.

In this case the trousseau and furniture were conveyed to the
bridegroom's house in the early morning, and I was allowed to go to
see them. There were several girdles of silk embroidered with
gold, several pieces of brocaded silk for kimonos, several pieces
of silk crepe, a large number of made-up garments, a piece of white
silk, six barrels of wine or sake, and seven sorts of condiments.
Jewellery is not worn by women in Japan.

The furniture consisted of two wooden pillows, finely lacquered,
one of them containing a drawer for ornamental hairpins, some
cotton futons, two very handsome silk ones, a few silk cushions, a
lacquer workbox, a spinning-wheel, a lacquer rice bucket and ladle,
two ornamental iron kettles, various kitchen utensils, three bronze
hibachi, two tabako-bons, some lacquer trays, and zens, china
kettles, teapots, and cups, some lacquer rice bowls, two copper
basins, a few towels, some bamboo switches, and an inlaid lacquer
etagere. As the things are all very handsome the parents must be
well off. The sake is sent in accordance with rigid etiquette.

The bridegroom is twenty-two, the bride seventeen, and very comely,
so far as I could see through the paint with which she was
profusely disfigured. Towards evening she was carried in a
norimon, accompanied by her parents and friends, to the
bridegroom's house, each member of the procession carrying a
Chinese lantern. When the house-master and I arrived the wedding
party was assembled in a large room, the parents and friends of the
bridegroom being seated on one side, and those of the bride on the
other. Two young girls, very beautifully dressed, brought in the
bride, a very pleasing-looking creature dressed entirely in white
silk, with a veil of white silk covering her from head to foot.
The bridegroom, who was already seated in the middle of the room
near its upper part, did not rise to receive her, and kept his eyes
fixed on the ground, and she sat opposite to him, but never looked
up. A low table was placed in front, on which there was a two-
spouted kettle full of sake, some sake bottles, and some cups, and
on another there were some small figures representing a fir-tree, a
plum-tree in blossom, and a stork standing on a tortoise, the last
representing length of days, and the former the beauty of women and
the strength of men. Shortly a zen, loaded with eatables, was
placed before each person, and the feast began, accompanied by the
noises which signify gastronomic gratification.

After this, which was only a preliminary, the two girls who brought
in the bride handed round a tray with three cups containing sake,
which each person was expected to drain till he came to the god of
luck at the bottom.

The bride and bridegroom then retired, but shortly reappeared in
other dresses of ceremony, but the bride still wore her white silk
veil, which one day will be her shroud. An old gold lacquer tray
was produced, with three sake cups, which were filled by the two
bridesmaids, and placed before the parents-in-law and the bride.
The father-in-law drank three cups, and handed the cup to the
bride, who, after drinking two cups, received from her father-in-
law a present in a box, drank the third cup, and then returned the
cup to the father-in-law, who again drank three cups. Rice and
fish were next brought in, after which the bridegroom's mother took
the second cup, and filled and emptied it three times, after which
she passed it to the bride, who drank two cups, received a present
from her mother-in-law in a lacquer box, drank a third cup, and
gave the cup to the elder lady, who again drank three cups. Soup
was then served, and then the bride drank once from the third cup,
and handed it to her husband's father, who drank three more cups,
the bride took it again, and drank two, and lastly the mother-in-
law drank three more cups. Now, if you possess the clear-
sightedness which I laboured to preserve, you will perceive that
each of the three had inbibed nine cups of some generous liquor!

After this the two bridesmaids raised the two-spouted kettle and
presented it to the lips of the married pair, who drank from it
alternately, till they had exhausted its contents. This concluding
ceremony is said to be emblematic of the tasting together of the
joys and sorrows of life. And so they became man and wife till
death or divorce parted them.

This drinking of sake or wine, according to prescribed usage,
appeared to constitute the "marriage service," to which none but
relations were bidden. Immediately afterwards the wedding guests
arrived, and the evening was spent in feasting and sake drinking;
but the fare is simple, and intoxication is happily out of place at
a marriage feast. Every detail is a matter of etiquette, and has
been handed down for centuries. Except for the interest of the
ceremony, in that light it was a very dull and tedious affair,
conducted in melancholy silence, and the young bride, with her
whitened face and painted lips, looked and moved like an automaton.
I. L. B.


A Holiday Scene--A Matsuri--Attractions of the Revel--Matsuri Cars-
-Gods and Demons--A Possible Harbour--A Village Forge--Prosperity
of Sake Brewers--A "Great Sight."


Three miles of good road thronged with half the people of Kubota on
foot and in kurumas, red vans drawn by horses, pairs of policemen
in kurumas, hundreds of children being carried, hundreds more on
foot, little girls, formal and precocious looking, with hair
dressed with scarlet crepe and flowers, hobbling toilsomely along
on high clogs, groups of men and women, never intermixing, stalls
driving a "roaring trade" in cakes and sweetmeats, women making
mochi as fast as the buyers ate it, broad rice-fields rolling like
a green sea on the right, an ocean of liquid turquoise on the left,
the grey roofs of Kubota looking out from their green surroundings,
Taiheisan in deepest indigo blocking the view to the south, a
glorious day, and a summer sun streaming over all, made up the
cheeriest and most festal scene that I have seen in Japan; men,
women, and children, vans and kurumas, policemen and horsemen, all
on their way to a mean-looking town, Minato, the junk port of
Kubota, which was keeping matsuri, or festival, in honour of the
birthday of the god Shimmai. Towering above the low grey houses
there were objects which at first looked like five enormous black
fingers, then like trees with their branches wrapped in black, and
then--comparisons ceased; they were a mystery.

Dismissing the kurumas, which could go no farther, we dived into
the crowd, which was wedged along a mean street, nearly a mile
long--a miserable street of poor tea-houses and poor shop-fronts;
but, in fact, you could hardly see the street for the people.
Paper lanterns were hung close together along its whole length.
There were rude scaffoldings supporting matted and covered
platforms, on which people were drinking tea and sake and enjoying
the crowd below; monkey theatres and dog theatres, two mangy sheep
and a lean pig attracting wondering crowds, for neither of these
animals is known in this region of Japan; a booth in which a woman
was having her head cut off every half-hour for 2 sen a spectator;
cars with roofs like temples, on which, with forty men at the
ropes, dancing children of the highest class were being borne in
procession; a theatre with an open front, on the boards of which
two men in antique dresses, with sleeves touching the ground, were
performing with tedious slowness a classic dance of tedious
posturings, which consisted mainly in dexterous movements of the
aforesaid sleeves, and occasional emphatic stampings, and
utterances of the word No in a hoarse howl. It is needless to say
that a foreign lady was not the least of the attractions of the

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