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Unbeaten Tracks in Japan by Isabella L. Bird

Part 5 out of 6

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I must confess that its fascinations depend rather upon what it has
not than upon what it has, and Ito says that it would kill him to
spend even two days there. It looks like the end of all things, as
if loneliness and desolation could go no farther. A sandy stretch
on three sides, a river arrested in its progress to the sea, and
compelled to wander tediously in search of an outlet by the height
and mass of the beach thrown up by the Pacific, a distant forest-
belt rising into featureless, wooded ranges in shades of indigo and
grey, and a never-absent consciousness of a vast ocean just out of
sight, are the environments of two high look-outs, some sheds for
fish-oil purposes, four or five Japanese houses, four Aino huts on
the top of the beach across the river, and a grey barrack,
consisting of a polished passage eighty feet long, with small rooms
on either side, at one end a gravelled yard, with two quiet rooms
opening upon it, and at the other an immense daidokoro, with dark
recesses and blackened rafters--a haunted-looking abode. One would
suppose that there had been a special object in setting the houses
down at weary distances from each other. Few as they are, they are
not all inhabited at this season, and all that can be seen is grey
sand, sparse grass, and a few savages creeping about.

Nothing that I have seen has made such an impression upon me as
that ghostly, ghastly fishing-station. In the long grey wall of
the long grey barrack there were many dismal windows, and when we
hooted for admission a stupid face appeared at one of them and
disappeared. Then a grey gateway opened, and we rode into a yard
of grey gravel, with some silent rooms opening upon it. The
solitude of the thirty or forty rooms which lie between it and the
kitchen, and which are now filled with nets and fishing-tackle, was
something awful; and as the wind swept along the polished passage,
rattling the fusuma and lifting the shingles on the roof, and the
rats careered from end to end, I went to the great black daidokoro
in search of social life, and found a few embers and an andon, and
nothing else but the stupid-faced man deploring his fate, and two
orphan boys whose lot he makes more wretched than his own. In the
fishing-season this barrack accommodates from 200 to 300 men.

I started to the sea-shore, crossing the dreary river, and found
open sheds much blackened, deserted huts of reeds, long sheds with
a nearly insufferable odour from caldrons in which oil had been
extracted from last year's fish, two or three Aino huts, and two or
three grand-looking Ainos, clothed in skins, striding like ghosts
over the sandbanks, a number of wolfish dogs, some log canoes or
"dug-outs," the bones of a wrecked junk, a quantity of bleached
drift-wood, a beach of dark-grey sand, and a tossing expanse of
dark-grey ocean under a dull and windy sky. On this part of the
coast the Pacific spends its fury, and has raised up at a short
distance above high-water mark a sandy sweep of such a height that
when you descend its seaward slope you see nothing but the sea and
the sky, and a grey, curving shore, covered thick for many a lonely
mile with fantastic forms of whitened drift-wood, the shattered
wrecks of forest-trees, which are carried down by the innumerable
rivers, till, after tossing for weeks and months along with

"--wrecks of ships, and drifting
spars uplifting
On the desolate, rainy seas:
Ever drifting, drifting, drifting,
On the shifting
Currents of the restless main;"

the "toiling surges" cast them on Yubets beach, and

"All have found repose again."

A grim repose!

The deep boom of the surf was music, and the strange cries of sea-
birds, and the hoarse notes of the audacious black crows, were all
harmonious, for nature, when left to herself, never produces
discords either in sound or colour.

LETTER XXXV--(Continued)

The Harmonies of Nature--A Good Horse--A Single Discord--A Forest--
Aino Ferrymen--"Les Puces! Les Puces!"--Baffled Explorers--Ito's
Contempt for Ainos--An Aino Introduction.


No! Nature has no discords. This morning, to the far horizon,
diamond-flashing blue water shimmered in perfect peace, outlined by
a line of surf which broke lazily on a beach scarcely less snowy
than itself. The deep, perfect blue of the sky was only broken by
a few radiant white clouds, whose shadows trailed slowly over the
plain on whose broad bosom a thousand corollas, in the glory of
their brief but passionate life, were drinking in the sunshine,
wavy ranges slept in depths of indigo, and higher hills beyond were
painted in faint blue on the dreamy sky. Even the few grey houses
of Yubets were spiritualised into harmony by a faint blue veil
which was not a mist, and the loud croak of the loquacious and
impertinent crows had a cheeriness about it, a hearty mockery,
which I liked.

Above all, I had a horse so good that he was always trying to run
away, and galloped so lightly over the flowery grass that I rode
the seventeen miles here with great enjoyment. Truly a good horse,
good ground to gallop on, and sunshine, make up the sum of
enjoyable travelling. The discord in the general harmony was
produced by the sight of the Ainos, a harmless people without the
instinct of progress, descending to that vast tomb of conquered and
unknown races which has opened to receive so many before them. A
mounted policeman started with us from Yubets, and rode the whole
way here, keeping exactly to my pace, but never speaking a word.
We forded one broad, deep river, and crossed another, partly by
fording and partly in a scow, after which the track left the level,
and, after passing through reedy grass as high as the horse's ears,
went for some miles up and down hill, through woods composed
entirely of the Ailanthus glandulosus, with leaves much riddled by
the mountain silk-worm, and a ferny undergrowth of the familiar
Pteris aquilina. The deep shade and glancing lights of this open
copsewood were very pleasant; and as the horse tripped gaily up and
down the little hills, and the sea murmur mingled with the rustle
of the breeze, and a glint of white surf sometimes flashed through
the greenery, and dragonflies and butterflies in suits of crimson
and black velvet crossed the path continually like "living flashes"
of light, I was reminded somewhat, though faintly, of windward
Hawaii. We emerged upon an Aino hut and a beautiful placid river,
and two Ainos ferried the four people and horses across in a scow,
the third wading to guide the boat. They wore no clothing, but
only one was hairy. They were superb-looking men, gentle, and
extremely courteous, handing me in and out of the boat, and holding
the stirrup while I mounted, with much natural grace. On leaving
they extended their arms and waved their hands inwards twice,
stroking their grand beards afterwards, which is their usual
salutation. A short distance over shingle brought us to this
Japanese village of sixty-three houses, a colonisation settlement,
mainly of samurai from the province of Sendai, who are raising very
fine crops on the sandy soil. The mountains, twelve miles in the
interior, have a large Aino population, and a few Ainos live near
this village and are held in great contempt by its inhabitants. My
room is on the village street, and, as it is too warm to close the
shoji, the aborigines stand looking in at the lattice hour after

A short time ago Mr. Von Siebold and Count Diesbach galloped up on
their return from Biratori, the Aino village to which I am going;
and Count D., throwing himself from his horse, rushed up to me with
the exclamation, Les puces! les puces! They have brought down with
them the chief, Benri, a superb but dissipated-looking savage. Mr.
Von Siebold called on me this evening, and I envied him his fresh,
clean clothing as much as he envied me my stretcher and mosquito-
net. They have suffered terribly from fleas, mosquitoes, and
general discomfort, and are much exhausted; but Mr. Von S. thinks
that, in spite of all, a visit to the mountain Ainos is worth a
long journey. As I expected, they have completely failed in their
explorations, and have been deserted by Lieutenant Kreitner. I
asked Mr. Von S. to speak to Ito in Japanese about the importance
of being kind and courteous to the Ainos whose hospitality I shall
receive; and Ito is very indignant at this. "Treat Ainos
politely!" he says; "they're just dogs, not men;" and since he has
regaled me with all the scandal concerning them which he has been
able to rake together in the village.

We have to take not only food for both Ito and myself, but cooking
utensils. I have been introduced to Benri, the chief; and, though
he does not return for a day or two, he will send a message along
with us which will ensure me hospitality.

I. L. B.


Savage Life--A Forest Track--Cleanly Villages--A Hospitable
Reception--The Chief's Mother--The Evening Meal--A Savage Seance--
Libations to the Gods--Nocturnal Silence--Aino Courtesy--The
Chief's Wife.


I am in the lonely Aino land, and I think that the most interesting
of my travelling experiences has been the living for three days and
two nights in an Aino hut, and seeing and sharing the daily life of
complete savages, who go on with their ordinary occupations just as
if I were not among them. I found yesterday a most fatiguing and
over-exciting day, as everything was new and interesting, even the
extracting from men who have few if any ideas in common with me all
I could extract concerning their religion and customs, and that
through an interpreter. I got up at six this morning to write out
my notes, and have been writing for five hours, and there is
shortly the prospect of another savage seance. The distractions,
as you can imagine, are many. At this moment a savage is taking a
cup of sake by the fire in the centre of the floor. He salutes me
by extending his hands and waving them towards his face, and then
dips a rod in the sake, and makes six libations to the god--an
upright piece of wood with a fringe of shavings planted in the
floor of the room. Then he waves the cup several times towards
himself, makes other libations to the fire, and drinks. Ten other
men and women are sitting along each side of the fire-hole, the
chief's wife is cooking, the men are apathetically contemplating
the preparation of their food; and the other women, who are never
idle, are splitting the bark of which they make their clothes. I
occupy the guest seat--a raised platform at one end of the fire,
with the skin of a black bear thrown over it.

I have reserved all I have to say about the Ainos till I had been
actually among them, and I hope you will have patience to read to
the end. Ito is very greedy and self-indulgent, and whimpered very
much about coming to Biratori at all,--one would have thought he
was going to the stake. He actually borrowed for himself a
sleeping mat and futons, and has brought a chicken, onions,
potatoes, French beans, Japanese sauce, tea, rice, a kettle, a
stew-pan, and a rice-pan, while I contented myself with a cold fowl
and potatoes.

We took three horses and a mounted Aino guide, and found a beaten
track the whole way. It turns into the forest at once on leaving
Sarufuto, and goes through forest the entire distance, with an
abundance of reedy grass higher than my hat on horseback along it,
and, as it is only twelve inches broad and much overgrown, the
horses were constantly pushing through leafage soaking from a
night's rain, and I was soon wet up to my shoulders. The forest
trees are almost solely the Ailanthus glandulosus and the Zelkowa
keaki, often matted together with a white-flowered trailer of the
Hydrangea genus. The undergrowth is simply hideous, consisting
mainly of coarse reedy grass, monstrous docks, the large-leaved
Polygonum cuspidatum, several umbelliferous plants, and a "ragweed"
which, like most of its gawky fellows, grows from five to six feet
high. The forest is dark and very silent, threaded by this narrow
path, and by others as narrow, made by the hunters in search of
game. The "main road" sometimes plunges into deep bogs, at others
is roughly corduroyed by the roots of trees, and frequently hangs
over the edge of abrupt and much-worn declivities, in going up one
of which the baggage-horse rolled down a bank fully thirty feet
high, and nearly all the tea was lost. At another the guide's
pack-saddle lost its balance, and man, horse, and saddle went over
the slope, pots, pans, and packages flying after them. At another
time my horse sank up to his chest in a very bad bog, and, as he
was totally unable to extricate himself, I was obliged to scramble
upon his neck and jump to terra firma over his ears.

There is something very gloomy in the solitude of this silent land,
with its beast-haunted forests, its great patches of pasture, the
resort of wild animals which haunt the lower regions in search of
food when the snow drives them down from the mountains, and its
narrow track, indicating the single file in which the savages of
the interior walk with their bare, noiseless feet. Reaching the
Sarufutogawa, a river with a treacherous bottom, in which Mr. Von
Siebold and his horse came to grief, I hailed an Aino boy, who took
me up the stream in a "dug-out," and after that we passed through
Biroka, Saruba, and Mina, all purely Aino villages, situated among
small patches of millet, tobacco, and pumpkins, so choked with
weeds that it was doubtful whether they were crops. I was much
surprised with the extreme neatness and cleanliness outside the
houses; "model villages" they are in these respects, with no litter
lying in sight anywhere, nothing indeed but dog troughs, hollowed
out of logs, like "dug-outs," for the numerous yellow dogs, which
are a feature of Aino life. There are neither puddles nor heaps,
but the houses, all trim and in good repair, rise clean out of the
sandy soil.

Biratori, the largest of the Aino settlements in this region, is
very prettily situated among forests and mountains, on rising
ground, with a very sinuous river winding at its feet and a wooded
height above. A lonelier place could scarcely be found. As we
passed among the houses the yellow dogs barked, the women looked
shy and smiled, and the men made their graceful salutation. We
stopped at the chief's house, where, of course, we were unexpected
guests; but Shinondi, his nephew, and two other men came out,
saluted us, and with most hospitable intent helped Ito to unload
the horses. Indeed their eager hospitality created quite a
commotion, one running hither and the other thither in their
anxiety to welcome a stranger. It is a large house, the room being
35 by 25, and the roof 20 feet high; but you enter by an ante-
chamber, in which are kept the millet-mill and other articles.
There is a doorway in this, but the inside is pretty dark, and
Shinondi, taking my hand, raised the reed curtain bound with hide,
which concealed the entrance into the actual house, and, leading me
into it, retired a footstep, extended his arms, waved his arms
inwards three times, and then stroked his beard several times,
after which he indicated by a sweep of his hand and a beautiful
smile that the house and all it contained were mine. An aged
woman, the chief's mother, who was splitting bark by the fire,
waved her hands also. She is the queen-regnant of the house.

Again taking my hand, Shinondi led me to the place of honour at the
head of the fire--a rude, movable platform six feet long by four
broad, and a foot high, on which he laid an ornamental mat,
apologising for not having at that moment a bearskin wherewith to
cover it. The baggage was speedily brought in by several willing
pairs of hands; some reed mats fifteen feet long were laid down
upon the very coarse ones which covered the whole floor, and when
they saw Ito putting up my stretcher they hung a fine mat along the
rough wall to conceal it, and suspended another on the beams of the
roof for a canopy. The alacrity and instinctive hospitality with
which these men rushed about to make things comfortable were very
fascinating, though comfort is a word misapplied in an Aino hut.
The women only did what the men told them.

They offered food at once, but I told them that I had brought my
own, and would only ask leave to cook it on their fire. I need not
have brought any cups, for they have many lacquer bowls, and
Shinondi brought me on a lacquer tray a bowl full of water from one
of their four wells. They said that Benri, the chief, would wish
me to make his house my own for as long as I cared to stay, and I
must excuse them in all things in which their ways were different
from my own. Shinondi and four others in the village speak
tolerable Japanese, and this of course is the medium of
communication. Ito has exerted himself nobly as an interpreter,
and has entered into my wishes with a cordiality and intelligence
which have been perfectly invaluable; and, though he did growl at
Mr. Von Siebold's injunctions regarding politeness, he has carried
them out to my satisfaction, and even admits that the mountain
Ainos are better than he expected; "but," he added "they have
learned their politeness from the Japanese!" They have never seen
a foreign woman, and only three foreign men, but there is neither
crowding nor staring as among the Japanese, possibly in part from
apathy and want of intelligence. For three days they have kept up
their graceful and kindly hospitality, going on with their ordinary
life and occupations, and, though I have lived among them in this
room by day and night, there has been nothing which in any way
could offend the most fastidious sense of delicacy.

They said they would leave me to eat and rest, and all retired but
the chief's mother, a weird, witch-like woman of eighty, with
shocks of yellow-white hair, and a stern suspiciousness in her
wrinkled face. I have come to feel as if she had the evil eye, as
she sits there watching, watching always, and for ever knotting the
bark thread like one of the Fates, keeping a jealous watch on her
son's two wives, and on other young women who come in to weave--
neither the dulness nor the repose of old age about her; and her
eyes gleam with a greedy light when she sees sake, of which she
drains a bowl without taking breath. She alone is suspicious of
strangers, and she thinks that my visit bodes no good to her tribe.
I see her eyes fixed upon me now, and they make me shudder.

I had a good meal seated in my chair on the top of the guest-seat
to avoid the fleas, which are truly legion. At dusk Shinondi
returned, and soon people began to drop in, till eighteen were
assembled, including the sub-chief and several very grand-looking
old men, with full, grey, wavy beards. Age is held in much
reverence, and it is etiquette for these old men to do honour to a
guest in the chief's absence. As each entered he saluted me
several times, and after sitting down turned towards me and saluted
again, going through the same ceremony with every other person.
They said they had come "to bid me welcome." They took their
places in rigid order at each side of the fireplace, which is six
feet long, Benri's mother in the place of honour at the right, then
Shinondi, then the sub-chief, and on the other side the old men.
Besides these, seven women sat in a row in the background splitting
bark. A large iron pan hung over the fire from a blackened
arrangement above, and Benri's principal wife cut wild roots, green
beans, and seaweed, and shred dried fish and venison among them,
adding millet, water, and some strong-smelling fish-oil, and set
the whole on to stew for three hours, stirring the "mess" now and
then with a wooden spoon.

Several of the older people smoke, and I handed round some mild
tobacco, which they received with waving hands. I told them that I
came from a land in the sea, very far away, where they saw the sun
go down--so very far away that a horse would have to gallop day and
night for five weeks to reach it--and that I had come a long
journey to see them, and that I wanted to ask them many questions,
so that when I went home I might tell my own people something about
them. Shinondi and another man, who understood Japanese, bowed,
and (as on every occasion) translated what I said into Aino for the
venerable group opposite. Shinondi then said "that he and
Shinrichi, the other Japanese speaker, would tell me all they knew,
but they were but young men, and only knew what was told to them.
They would speak what they believed to be true, but the chief knew
more than they, and when he came back he might tell me differently,
and then I should think that they had spoken lies." I said that no
one who looked into their faces could think that they ever told
lies. They were very much pleased, and waved their hands and
stroked their beards repeatedly. Before they told me anything they
begged and prayed that I would not inform the Japanese Government
that they had told me of their customs, or harm might come to them!

For the next two hours, and for two more after supper, I asked them
questions concerning their religion and customs, and again
yesterday for a considerable time, and this morning, after Benri's
return, I went over the same subjects with him, and have also
employed a considerable time in getting about 300 words from them,
which I have spelt phonetically of course, and intend to go over
again when I visit the coast Ainos. {19}

The process was slow, as both question and answer had to pass
through three languages. There was a very manifest desire to tell
the truth, and I think that their statements concerning their few
and simple customs may be relied upon. I shall give what they told
me separately when I have time to write out my notes in an orderly
manner. I can only say that I have seldom spent a more interesting

About nine the stew was ready, and the women ladled it into lacquer
bowls with wooden spoons. The men were served first, but all ate
together. Afterwards sake, their curse, was poured into lacquer
bowls, and across each bowl a finely-carved "sake-stick" was laid.
These sticks are very highly prized. The bowls were waved several
times with an inward motion, then each man took his stick and,
dipping it into the sake, made six libations to the fire and
several to the "god"--a wooden post, with a quantity of spiral
white shavings falling from near the top. The Ainos are not
affected by sake nearly so easily as the Japanese. They took it
cold, it is true, but each drank about three times as much as would
have made a Japanese foolish, and it had no effect upon them.
After two hours more talk one after another got up and went out,
making profuse salutations to me and to the others. My candles had
been forgotten, and our seance was held by the fitful light of the
big logs on the fire, aided by a succession of chips of birch bark,
with which a woman replenished a cleft stick that was stuck into
the fire-hole. I never saw such a strangely picturesque sight as
that group of magnificent savages with the fitful firelight on
their faces, and for adjuncts the flare of the torch, the strong
lights, the blackness of the recesses of the room and of the roof,
at one end of which the stars looked in, and the row of savage
women in the background--eastern savagery and western civilisation
met in this hut, savagery giving and civilisation receiving, the
yellow-skinned Ito the connecting-link between the two, and the
representative of a civilisation to which our own is but an "infant
of days."

I found it very exciting, and when all had left crept out into the
starlight. The lodges were all dark and silent, and the dogs, mild
like their masters, took no notice of me. The only sound was the
rustle of a light breeze through the surrounding forest. The verse
came into my mind, "It is not the will of your Father which is in
heaven that one of these little ones should perish." Surely these
simple savages are children, as children to be judged; may we not
hope as children to be saved through Him who came "not to judge the
world, but to save the world"?

I crept back again and into my mosquito net, and suffered not from
fleas or mosquitoes, but from severe cold. Shinondi conversed with
Ito for some time in a low musical voice, having previously asked
if it would keep me from sleeping. No Japanese ever intermitted
his ceaseless chatter at any hour of the night for a similar
reason. Later, the chief's principal wife, Noma, stuck a triply-
cleft stick in the fire-hole, put a potsherd with a wick and some
fish-oil upon it, and by the dim light of this rude lamp sewed
until midnight at a garment of bark cloth which she was ornamenting
for her lord with strips of blue cloth, and when I opened my eyes
the next morning she was at the window sewing by the earliest
daylight. She is the most intelligent-looking of all the women,
but looks sad and almost stern, and speaks seldom. Although she is
the principal wife of the chief she is not happy, for she is
childless, and I thought that her sad look darkened into something
evil as the other wife caressed a fine baby boy. Benri seems to me
something of a brute, and the mother-in-law obviously holds the
reins of government pretty tight. After sewing till midnight she
swept the mats with a bunch of twigs, and then crept into her bed
behind a hanging mat. For a moment in the stillness I felt a
feeling of panic, as if I were incurring a risk by being alone
among savages, but I conquered it, and, after watching the fire
till it went out, fell asleep till I was awoke by the severe cold
of the next day's dawn.

LETTER XXXVI--(Continued)

A Supposed Act of Worship--Parental Tenderness--Morning Visits--
Wretched Cultivation--Honesty and Generosity--A "Dug-out"--Female
Occupations--The Ancient Fate--A New Arrival--A Perilous
Prescription--The Shrine of Yoshitsune--The Chief's Return.

When I crept from under my net much benumbed with cold, there were
about eleven people in the room, who all made their graceful
salutation. It did not seem as if they had ever heard of washing,
for, when water was asked for, Shinondi brought a little in a
lacquer bowl, and held it while I bathed my face and hands,
supposing the performance to be an act of worship! I was about to
throw some cold tea out of the window by my bed when he arrested me
with an anxious face, and I saw, what I had not observed before,
that there was a god at that window--a stick with festoons of
shavings hanging from it, and beside it a dead bird. The Ainos
have two meals a day, and their breakfast was a repetition of the
previous night's supper. We all ate together, and I gave the
children the remains of my rice, and it was most amusing to see
little creatures of three, four, and five years old, with no other
clothing than a piece of pewter hanging round their necks, first
formally asking leave of the parents before taking the rice, and
then waving their hands. The obedience of the children is
instantaneous. Their parents are more demonstrative in their
affection than the Japanese are, caressing them a good deal, and
two of the men are devoted to children who are not their own.
These little ones are as grave and dignified as Japanese children,
and are very gentle.

I went out soon after five, when the dew was glittering in the
sunshine, and the mountain hollow in which Biratori stands was
looking its very best, and the silence of the place, even though
the people were all astir, was as impressive as that of the night
before. What a strange life! knowing nothing, hoping nothing,
fearing a little, the need for clothes and food the one motive
principle, sake in abundance the one good! How very few points of
contact it is possible to have! I was just thinking so when
Shinondi met me, and took me to his house to see if I could do
anything for a child sorely afflicted with skin disease, and his
extreme tenderness for this very loathsome object made me feel that
human affections were the same among them as with us. He had
carried it on his back from a village, five miles distant, that
morning, in the hope that it might be cured. As soon as I entered
he laid a fine mat on the floor, and covered the guest-seat with a
bearskin. After breakfast he took me to the lodge of the sub-
chief, the largest in the village, 45 feet square, and into about
twenty others all constructed in the same way, but some of them
were not more than 20 feet square. In all I was received with the
same courtesy, but a few of the people asked Shinondi not to take
me into their houses, as they did not want me to see how poor they
are. In every house there was the low shelf with more or fewer
curios upon it, but, besides these, none but the barest necessaries
of life, though the skins which they sell or barter every year
would enable them to surround themselves with comforts, were it not
that their gains represent to them sake, and nothing else. They
are not nomads. On the contrary, they cling tenaciously to the
sites on which their fathers have lived and died. But anything
more deplorable than the attempts at cultivation which surround
their lodges could not be seen. The soil is little better than
white sand, on which without manure they attempt to grow millet,
which is to them in the place of rice, pumpkins, onions, and
tobacco; but the look of their plots is as if they had been
cultivated ten years ago, and some chance-sown grain and vegetables
had come up among the weeds. When nothing more will grow, they
partially clear another bit of forest, and exhaust that in its

In every house the same honour was paid to a guest. This seems a
savage virtue which is not strong enough to survive much contact
with civilisation. Before I entered one lodge the woman brought
several of the finer mats, and arranged them as a pathway for me to
walk to the fire upon. They will not accept anything for lodging,
or for anything that they give, so I was anxious to help them by
buying some of their handiwork, but found even this a difficult
matter. They were very anxious to give, but when I desired to buy
they said they did not wish to part with their things. I wanted
what they had in actual use, such as a tobacco-box and pipe-sheath,
and knives with carved handles and scabbards, and for three of
these I offered 2.5 dollars. They said they did not care to sell
them, but in the evening they came saying they were not worth more
than 1 dollar 10 cents, and they would sell them for that; and I
could not get them to take more. They said it was "not their
custom." I bought a bow and three poisoned arrows, two reed-mats,
with a diamond pattern on them in reeds stained red, some knives
with sheaths, and a bark cloth dress. I tried to buy the sake-
sticks with which they make libations to their gods, but they said
it was "not their custom" to part with the sake-stick of any living
man; however, this morning Shinondi has brought me, as a very
valuable present, the stick of a dead man! This morning the man
who sold the arrows brought two new ones, to replace two which were
imperfect. I found them, as Mr. Von Siebold had done,
punctiliously honest in all their transactions. They wear very
large earrings with hoops an inch and a half in diameter, a pair
constituting the dowry of an Aino bride; but they would not part
with these.

A house was burned down two nights ago, and "custom" in such a case
requires that all the men should work at rebuilding it, so in their
absence I got two boys to take me in a "dug-out" as far as we could
go up the Sarufutogawa--a lovely river, which winds tortuously
through the forests and mountains in unspeakable loveliness. I had
much of the feeling of the ancient mariner -

"We were the first
Who ever burst
Into that silent sea."

For certainly no European had ever previously floated on the dark
and forest-shrouded waters. I enjoyed those hours thoroughly, for
the silence was profound, and the faint blue of the autumn sky, and
the soft blue veil which "spiritualised" the distances, were so
exquisitely like the Indian summer.

The evening was spent like the previous one, but the hearts of the
savages were sad, for there was no more sake in Biratori, so they
could not "drink to the god," and the fire and the post with the
shavings had to go without libations. There was no more oil, so
after the strangers retired the hut was in complete darkness.

Yesterday morning we all breakfasted soon after daylight, and the
able-bodied men went away to hunt. Hunting and fishing are their
occupations, and for "indoor recreation" they carve tobacco-boxes,
knife-sheaths, sake-sticks, and shuttles. It is quite unnecessary
for them to do anything; they are quite contented to sit by the
fire, and smoke occasionally, and eat and sleep, this apathy being
varied by spasms of activity when there is no more dried flesh in
the kuras, and when skins must be taken to Sarufuto to pay for
sake. The women seem never to have an idle moment. They rise
early to sew, weave, and split bark, for they not only clothe
themselves and their husbands in this nearly indestructible cloth,
but weave it for barter, and the lower class of Japanese are
constantly to be seen wearing the product of Aino industry. They
do all the hard work, such as drawing water, chopping wood,
grinding millet, and cultivating the soil, after their fashion;
but, to do the men justice, I often see them trudging along
carrying one and even two children. The women take the exclusive
charge of the kuras, which are never entered by men.

I was left for some hours alone with the women, of whom there were
seven in the hut, with a few children. On the one side of the fire
the chief's mother sat like a Fate, for ever splitting and knotting
bark, and petrifying me by her cold, fateful eyes. Her thick, grey
hair hangs in shocks, the tattooing round her mouth has nearly
faded, and no longer disguises her really handsome features. She
is dressed in a much ornamented bark-cloth dress, and wears two
silver beads tied round her neck by a piece of blue cotton, in
addition to very large earrings. She has much sway in the house,
sitting on the men's side of the fire, drinking plenty of sake, and
occasionally chiding her grandson Shinondi for telling me too much,
saying that it will bring harm to her people. Though her
expression is so severe and forbidding, she is certainly very
handsome, and it is a European, not an Asiatic, beauty.

The younger women were all at work; two were seated on the floor
weaving without a loom, and the others were making and mending the
bark coats which are worn by both sexes. Noma, the chief's
principal wife, sat apart, seldom speaking. Two of the youngest
women are very pretty--as fair as ourselves, and their comeliness
is of the rosy, peasant kind. It turns out that two of them,
though they would not divulge it before men, speak Japanese, and
they prattled to Ito with great vivacity and merriment, the ancient
Fate scowling at them the while from under her shaggy eyebrows. I
got a number of words from them, and they laughed heartily at my
erroneous pronunciation. They even asked me a number of questions
regarding their own sex among ourselves, but few of these would
bear repetition, and they answered a number of mine. As the
merriment increased the old woman looked increasingly angry and
restless, and at last rated them sharply, as I have heard since,
telling them that if they spoke another word she should tell their
husbands that they had been talking to strangers. After this not
another word was spoken, and Noma, who is an industrious housewife,
boiled some millet into a mash for a mid-day lunch. During the
afternoon a very handsome young Aino, with a washed, richly-
coloured skin and fine clear eyes, came up from the coast, where he
had been working at the fishing. He saluted the old woman and
Benri's wife on entering, and presented the former with a gourd of
sake, bringing a greedy light into her eyes as she took a long
draught, after which, saluting me, he threw himself down in the
place of honour by the fire, with the easy grace of a staghound, a
savage all over. His name is Pipichari, and he is the chief's
adopted son. He had cut his foot badly with a root, and asked me
to cure it, and I stipulated that it should be bathed for some time
in warm water before anything more was done, after which I bandaged
it with lint. He said "he did not like me to touch his foot, it
was not clean enough, my hands were too white," etc.; but when I
had dressed it, and the pain was much relieved, he bowed very low
and then kissed my hand! He was the only one among them all who
showed the slightest curiosity regarding my things. He looked at
my scissors, touched my boots, and watched me, as I wrote, with the
simple curiosity of a child. He could speak a little Japanese, but
he said he was "too young to tell me anything, the older men would
know." He is a "total abstainer" from sake, and he says that there
are four such besides himself among the large number of Ainos who
are just now at the fishing at Mombets, and that the others keep
separate from them, because they think that the gods will be angry
with them for not drinking.

Several "patients," mostly children, were brought in during the
afternoon. Ito was much disgusted by my interest in these people,
who, he repeated, "are just dogs," referring to their legendary
origin, of which they are not ashamed. His assertion that they
have learned politeness from the Japanese is simply baseless.
Their politeness, though of quite another and more manly stamp, is
savage, not civilised. The men came back at dark, the meal was
prepared, and we sat round the fire as before; but there was no
sake, except in the possession of the old woman; and again the
hearts of the savages were sad. I could multiply instances of
their politeness. As we were talking, Pipichari, who is a very
"untutored" savage, dropped his coat from one shoulder, and at once
Shinondi signed to him to put it on again. Again, a woman was sent
to a distant village for some oil as soon as they heard that I
usually burned a light all night. Little acts of courtesy were
constantly being performed; but I really appreciated nothing more
than the quiet way in which they went on with the routine of their
ordinary lives.

During the evening a man came to ask if I would go and see a woman
who could hardly breathe; and I found her very ill of bronchitis,
accompanied with much fever. She was lying in a coat of skins,
tossing on the hard boards of her bed, with a matting-covered roll
under her head, and her husband was trying to make her swallow some
salt-fish. I took her dry, hot hand--such a small hand, tattooed
all over the back--and it gave me a strange thrill. The room was
full of people, and they all seemed very sorry. A medical
missionary would be of little use here; but a medically-trained
nurse, who would give medicines and proper food, with proper
nursing, would save many lives and much suffering. It is of no use
to tell these people to do anything which requires to be done more
than once: they are just like children. I gave her some
chlorodyne, which she swallowed with difficulty, and left another
dose ready mixed, to give her in a few hours; but about midnight
they came to tell me that she was worse; and on going I found her
very cold and weak, and breathing very hard, moving her head
wearily from side to side. I thought she could not live for many
hours, and was much afraid that they would think that I had killed
her. I told them that I thought she would die; but they urged me
to do something more for her, and as a last hope I gave her some
brandy, with twenty-five drops of chlorodyne, and a few spoonfuls
of very strong beef-tea. She was unable, or more probably
unwilling, to make the effort to swallow it, and I poured it down
her throat by the wild glare of strips of birch bark. An hour
later they came back to tell me that she felt as if she were very
drunk; but, going back to her house, I found that she was sleeping
quietly, and breathing more easily; and, creeping back just at
dawn, I found her still sleeping, and with her pulse stronger and
calmer. She is now decidedly better and quite sensible, and her
husband, the sub-chief, is much delighted. It seems so sad that
they have nothing fit for a sick person's food; and though I have
made a bowl of beef-tea with the remains of my stock, it can only
last one day.

I was so tired with these nocturnal expeditions and anxieties that
on lying down I fell asleep, and on waking found more than the
usual assemblage in the room, and the men were obviously agog about
something. They have a singular, and I hope an unreasonable, fear
of the Japanese Government. Mr. Von Siebold thinks that the
officials threaten and knock them about; and this is possible; but
I really think that the Kaitaikushi Department means well by them,
and, besides removing the oppressive restrictions by which, as a
conquered race, they were fettered, treats them far more humanely
and equitably than the U.S. Government, for instance, treats the
North American Indians. However, they are ignorant; and one of the
men, who had been most grateful because I said I would get Dr.
Hepburn to send some medicine for his child, came this morning and
begged me not to do so, as, he said, "the Japanese Government would
be angry." After this they again prayed me not to tell the
Japanese Government that they had told me their customs and then
they began to talk earnestly together.

The sub-chief then spoke, and said that I had been kind to their
sick people, and they would like to show me their temple, which had
never been seen by any foreigner; but they were very much afraid of
doing so, and they asked me many times "not to tell the Japanese
Government that they showed it to me, lest some great harm should
happen to them." The sub-chief put on a sleeveless Japanese war-
cloak to go up, and he, Shinondi, Pipichari, and two others
accompanied me. It was a beautiful but very steep walk, or rather
climb, to the top of an abrupt acclivity beyond the village, on
which the temple or shrine stands. It would be impossible to get
up were it not for the remains of a wooden staircase, not of Aino
construction. Forest and mountain surround Biratori, and the only
breaks in the dense greenery are glints of the shining waters of
the Sarufutogawa, and the tawny roofs of the Aino lodges. It is a
lonely and a silent land, fitter for the HIDING place than the
DWELLING place of men.

When the splendid young savage, Pipichari, saw that I found it
difficult to get up, he took my hand and helped me up, as gently as
an English gentleman would have done; and when he saw that I had
greater difficulty in getting down, he all but insisted on my
riding down on his back, and certainly would have carried me had
not Benri, the chief, who arrived while we were at the shrine, made
an end of it by taking my hand and helping me down himself. Their
instinct of helpfulness to a foreign woman strikes me as so odd,
because they never show any courtesy to their own women, whom they
treat (though to a less extent than is usual among savages) as
inferior beings.

On the very edge of the cliff, at the top of the zigzag, stands a
wooden temple or shrine, such as one sees in any grove, or on any
high place on the main island, obviously of Japanese construction,
but concerning which Aino tradition is silent. No European had
ever stood where I stood, and there was a solemnity in the
knowledge. The sub-chief drew back the sliding doors, and all
bowed with much reverence, It was a simple shrine of unlacquered
wood, with a broad shelf at the back, on which there was a small
shrine containing a figure of the historical hero Yoshitsune, in a
suit of inlaid brass armour, some metal gohei, a pair of tarnished
brass candle-sticks, and a coloured Chinese picture representing a
junk. Here, then, I was introduced to the great god of the
mountain Ainos. There is something very pathetic in these people
keeping alive the memory of Yoshitsune, not on account of his
martial exploits, but simply because their tradition tells them
that he was kind to them. They pulled the bell three times to
attract his attention, bowed three times, and made six libations of
sake, without which ceremony he cannot be approached. They asked
me to worship their god, but when I declined on the ground that I
could only worship my own God, the Lord of Earth and Heaven, of the
dead and of the living, they were too courteous to press their
request. As to Ito, it did not signify to him whether or not he
added another god to his already crowded Pantheon, and he
"worshipped," i.e. bowed down, most willingly before the great hero
of his own, the conquering race.

While we were crowded there on the narrow ledge of the cliff,
Benri, the chief, arrived--a square-built, broad-shouldered,
elderly man, strong as an ox, and very handsome, but his expression
is not pleasing, and his eyes are bloodshot with drinking. The
others saluted him very respectfully, but I noticed then and since
that his manner is very arbitrary, and that a blow not infrequently
follows a word. He had sent a message to his people by Ito that
they were not to answer any questions till he returned, but Ito
very tactfully neither gave it nor told me of it, and he was
displeased with the young men for having talked to me so much. His
mother had evidently "peached." I like him less than any of his
tribe. He has some fine qualities, truthfulness among others, but
he has been contaminated by the four or five foreigners that he has
seen, and is a brute and a sot. The hearts of his people are no
longer sad, for there is sake in every house to-night.

I. L. B.


Barrenness of Savage Life--Irreclaimable Savages--The Aino
Physique--Female Comeliness- Torture and Ornament--Child Life--
Docility and Obedience.

BIRATORI, YEZO, August 24.

I expected to have written out my notes on the Ainos in the
comparative quiet and comfort of Sarufuto, but the delay in Benri's
return, and the non-arrival of the horses, have compelled me to
accept Aino hospitality for another night, which involves living on
tea and potatoes, for my stock of food is exhausted. In some
respects I am glad to remain longer, as it enables me to go over my
stock of words, as well as my notes, with the chief, who is
intelligent and it is a pleasure to find that his statements
confirm those which have been made by the young men. The glamour
which at first disguises the inherent barrenness of savage life has
had time to pass away, and I see it in all its nakedness as a life
not much raised above the necessities of animal existence, timid,
monotonous, barren of good, dark, dull, "without hope, and without
God in the world;" though at its lowest and worst considerably
higher and better than that of many other aboriginal races, and--
must I say it?--considerably higher and better than that of
thousands of the lapsed masses of our own great cities who are
baptized into Christ's name, and are laid at last in holy ground,
inasmuch as the Ainos are truthful, and, on the whole, chaste,
hospitable, honest, reverent, and kind to the aged. Drinking,
their great vice, is not, as among us, in antagonism to their
religion, but is actually a part of it, and as such would be
exceptionally difficult to eradicate.

The early darkness has once again come on, and once again the
elders have assembled round the fire in two long lines, with the
younger men at the ends, Pipichari, who yesterday sat in the place
of honour and was helped to food first as the newest arrival,
taking his place as the youngest at the end of the right-hand row.
The birch-bark chips beam with fitful glare, the evening sake bowls
are filled, the fire-god and the garlanded god receive their
libations, the ancient woman, still sitting like a Fate, splits
bark, and the younger women knot it, and the log-fire lights up as
magnificent a set of venerable heads as painter or sculptor would
desire to see,--heads, full of--what? They have no history, their
traditions are scarcely worthy the name, they claim descent from a
dog, their houses and persons swarm with vermin, they are sunk in
the grossest ignorance, they have no letters or any numbers above a
thousand, they are clothed in the bark of trees and the untanned
skins of beasts, they worship the bear, the sun, moon, fire, water,
and I know not what, they are uncivilisable and altogether
irreclaimable savages, yet they are attractive, and in some ways
fascinating, and I hope I shall never forget the music of their
low, sweet voices, the soft light of their mild, brown eyes, and
the wonderful sweetness of their smile.

After the yellow skins, the stiff horse hair, the feeble eyelids,
the elongated eyes, the sloping eyebrows, the flat noses, the
sunken chests, the Mongolian features, the puny physique, the shaky
walk of the men, the restricted totter of the women, and the
general impression of degeneracy conveyed by the appearance of the
Japanese, the Ainos make a very singular impression. All but two
or three that I have seen are the most ferocious-looking of
savages, with a physique vigorous enough for carrying out the most
ferocious intentions, but as soon as they speak the countenance
brightens into a smile as gentle as that of a woman, something
which can never be forgotten.

The men are about the middle height, broad-chested, broad-
shouldered, "thick set," very strongly built, the arms and legs
short, thick, and muscular, the hands and feet large. The bodies,
and specially the limbs, of many are covered with short bristly
hair. I have seen two boys whose backs are covered with fur as
fine and soft as that of a cat. The heads and faces are very
striking. The foreheads are very high, broad, and prominent, and
at first sight give one the impression of an unusual capacity for
intellectual development; the ears are small and set low; the noses
are straight but short, and broad at the nostrils; the mouths are
wide but well formed; and the lips rarely show a tendency to
fulness. The neck is short, the cranium rounded, the cheek-bones
low, and the lower part of the face is small as compared with the
upper, the peculiarity called a "jowl" being unknown. The eyebrows
are full, and form a straight line nearly across the face. The
eyes are large, tolerably deeply set, and very beautiful, the
colour a rich liquid brown, the expression singularly soft, and the
eyelashes long, silky, and abundant. The skin has the Italian
olive tint, but in most cases is thin, and light enough to show the
changes of colour in the cheek. The teeth are small, regular, and
very white; the incisors and "eye teeth" are not disproportionately
large, as is usually the case among the Japanese; there is no
tendency towards prognathism; and the fold of integument which
conceals the upper eyelids of the Japanese is never to be met with.
The features, expression, and aspect, are European rather than

The "ferocious savagery" of the appearance of the men is produced
by a profusion of thick, soft, black hair, divided in the middle,
and falling in heavy masses nearly to the shoulders. Out of doors
it is kept from falling over the face by a fillet round the brow.
The beards are equally profuse, quite magnificent, and generally
wavy, and in the case of the old men they give a truly patriarchal
and venerable aspect, in spite of the yellow tinge produced by
smoke and want of cleanliness. The savage look produced by the
masses of hair and beard, and the thick eyebrows, is mitigated by
the softness in the dreamy brown eyes, and is altogether
obliterated by the exceeding sweetness of the smile, which belongs
in greater or less degree to all the rougher sex.

I have measured the height of thirty of the adult men of this
village, and it ranges from 5 feet 4 inches to 5 feet 6.5 inches.
The circumference of the heads averages 22.1 inches, and the arc,
from ear to ear, 13 inches. According to Mr. Davies, the average
weight of the Aino adult masculine brain, ascertained by
measurement of Aino skulls, is 45.90 ounces avoirdupois, a brain
weight said to exceed that of all the races, Hindoo and Mussulman,
on the Indian plains, and that of the aboriginal races of India and
Ceylon, and is only paralleled by that of the races of the
Himalayas, the Siamese, and the Chinese Burmese. Mr. Davies says,
further, that it exceeds the mean brain weight of Asiatic races in
general. Yet with all this the Ainos are a stupid people!

Passing travellers who have seen a few of the Aino women on the
road to Satsuporo speak of them as very ugly, but as making amends
for their ugliness by their industry and conjugal fidelity. Of the
latter there is no doubt, but I am not disposed to admit the
former. The ugliness is certainly due to art and dirt. The Aino
women seldom exceed five feet and half an inch in height, but they
are beautifully formed, straight, lithe, and well-developed, with
small feet and hands, well-arched insteps, rounded limbs, well-
developed busts, and a firm, elastic gait. Their heads and faces
are small; but the hair, which falls in masses on each side of the
face like that of the men, is equally redundant. They have superb
teeth, and display them liberally in smiling. Their mouths are
somewhat wide, but well formed, and they have a ruddy comeliness
about them which is pleasing, in spite of the disfigurement of the
band which is tattooed both above and below the mouth, and which,
by being united at the corners, enlarges its apparent size and
width. A girl at Shiraoi, who, for some reason, has not been
subjected to this process, is the most beautiful creature in
features, colouring, and natural grace of form, that I have seen
for a long time. Their complexions are lighter than those of the
men. There are not many here even as dark as our European
brunettes. A few unite the eyebrows by a streak of tattooing, so
as to produce a straight line. Like the men, they cut their hair
short for two or three inches above the nape of the neck, but
instead of using a fillet they take two locks from the front and
tie them at the back.

They are universally tattooed, not only with the broad band above
and below the mouth, but with a band across the knuckles, succeeded
by an elaborate pattern on the back of the hand, and a series of
bracelets extending to the elbow. The process of disfigurement
begins at the age of five, when some of the sufferers are yet
unweaned. I saw the operation performed on a dear little bright
girl this morning. A woman took a large knife with a sharp edge,
and rapidly cut several horizontal lines on the upper lip,
following closely the curve of the very pretty mouth, and before
the slight bleeding had ceased carefully rubbed in some of the
shiny soot which collects on the mat above the fire. In two or
three days the scarred lip will be washed with the decoction of the
bark of a tree to fix the pattern, and give it that blue look which
makes many people mistake it for a daub of paint. A child who had
this second process performed yesterday has her lip fearfully
swollen and inflamed. The latest victim held her hands clasped
tightly together while the cuts were inflicted, but never cried.
The pattern on the lips is deepened and widened every year up to
the time of marriage, and the circles on the arm are extended in a
similar way. The men cannot give any reason for the universality
of this custom. It is an old custom, they say, and part of their
religion, and no woman could marry without it. Benri fancies that
the Japanese custom of blackening the teeth is equivalent to it;
but he is mistaken, as that ceremony usually succeeds marriage.
They begin to tattoo the arms when a girl is five or six, and work
from the elbow downwards. They expressed themselves as very much
grieved and tormented by the recent prohibition of tattooing. They
say the gods will be angry, and that the women can't marry unless
they are tattooed; and they implored both Mr. Von Siebold and me to
intercede with the Japanese Government on their behalf in this
respect. They are less apathetic on this than on any subject, and
repeat frequently, "It's a part of our religion."

The children are very pretty and attractive, and their faces give
promise of an intelligence which is lacking in those of the adults.
They are much loved, and are caressing as well as caressed. The
infants of the mountain Ainos have seeds of millet put into their
mouths as soon as they are born, and those of the coast Ainos a
morsel of salt-fish; and whatever be the hour of birth, "custom"
requires that they shall not be fed until a night has passed. They
are not weaned until they are at least three years old. Boys are
preferred to girls, but both are highly valued, and a childless
wife may be divorced.

Children do not receive names till they are four or five years old,
and then the father chooses a name by which his child is afterwards
known. Young children when they travel are either carried on their
mothers' backs in a net, or in the back of the loose garment; but
in both cases the weight is mainly supported by a broad band which
passes round the woman's forehead. When men carry them they hold
them in their arms. The hair of very young children is shaven, and
from about five to fifteen the boys wear either a large tonsure or
tufts above the ears, while the girls are allowed to grow hair all
over their heads.

Implicit and prompt obedience is required from infancy; and from a
very early age the children are utilised by being made to fetch and
carry and go on messages. I have seen children apparently not more
than two years old sent for wood; and even at this age they are so
thoroughly trained in the observances of etiquette that babies just
able to walk never toddle into or out of this house without formal
salutations to each person within it, the mother alone excepted.
They don't wear any clothing till they are seven or eight years
old, and are then dressed like their elders. Their manners to
their parents are very affectionate. Even to-day, in the chief's
awe-inspiring presence, one dear little nude creature, who had been
sitting quietly for two hours staring into the fire with her big
brown eyes, rushed to meet her mother when she entered, and threw
her arms round her, to which the woman responded by a look of true
maternal tenderness and a kiss. These little creatures, in the
absolute unconsciousness of innocence, with their beautiful faces,
olive-tinted bodies,--all the darker, sad to say, from dirt,--their
perfect docility, and absence of prying curiosity, are very
bewitching. They all wear silver or pewter ornaments tied round
their necks by a wisp of blue cotton.

Apparently the ordinary infantile maladies, such as whooping-cough
and measles, do not afflict the Ainos fatally; but the children
suffer from a cutaneous affection, which wears off as they reach
the age of ten or eleven years, as well as from severe toothache
with their first teeth.

LETTER XXXVII--(Continued)

Aino Clothing--Holiday Dress--Domestic Architecture--Household
Gods--Japanese Curios--The Necessaries of Life--Clay Soup--Arrow
Poison--Arrow-Traps--Female Occupations--Bark Cloth--The Art of

Aino clothing, for savages, is exceptionally good. In the winter
it consists of one, two, or more coats of skins, with hoods of the
same, to which the men add rude moccasins when they go out hunting.
In summer they wear kimonos, or loose coats, made of cloth woven
from the split bark of a forest tree. This is a durable and
beautiful fabric in various shades of natural buff, and somewhat
resembles what is known to fancy workers as "Panama canvas." Under
this a skin or bark-cloth vest may or may not be worn. The men
wear these coats reaching a little below the knees, folded over
from right to left, and confined at the waist by a narrow girdle of
the same cloth, to which is attached a rude, dagger-shaped knife,
with a carved and engraved wooden handle and sheath. Smoking is by
no means a general practice; consequently the pipe and tobacco-box
are not, as with the Japanese, a part of ordinary male attire.
Tightly-fitting leggings, either of bark-cloth or skin, are worn by
both sexes, but neither shoes nor sandals. The coat worn by the
women reaches half-way between the knees and ankles, and is quite
loose and without a girdle. It is fastened the whole way up to the
collar-bone; and not only is the Aino woman completely covered, but
she will not change one garment for another except alone or in the
dark. Lately a Japanese woman at Sarufuto took an Aino woman into
her house, and insisted on her taking a bath, which she absolutely
refused to do till the bath-house had been made quite private by
means of screens. On the Japanese woman going back a little later
to see what had become of her, she found her sitting in the water
in her clothes; and on being remonstrated with, she said that the
gods would be angry if they saw her without clothes!

Many of the garments for holiday occasions are exceedingly
handsome, being decorated with "geometrical" patterns, in which the
"Greek fret" takes part, in coarse blue cotton, braided most
dexterously with scarlet and white thread. Some of the handsomest
take half a year to make. The masculine dress is completed by an
apron of oblong shape decorated in the same elaborate manner.
These handsome savages, with their powerful physique, look
remarkably well in their best clothes. I have not seen a boy or
girl above nine who is not thoroughly clothed. The "jewels" of the
women are large, hoop earrings of silver or pewter, with
attachments of a classical pattern, and silver neck ornaments, and
a few have brass bracelets soldered upon their arms. The women
have a perfect passion for every hue of red, and I have made
friends with them by dividing among them a large turkey-red silk
handkerchief, strips of which are already being utilised for the
ornamenting of coats.

The houses in the five villages up here are very good. So they are
at Horobets, but at Shiraoi, where the aborigines suffer from the
close proximity of several grog shops, they are inferior. They
differ in many ways from any that I have before seen, approaching
most nearly to the grass houses of the natives of Hawaii. Custom
does not appear to permit either of variety or innovations; in all
the style is the same, and the difference consists in the size and
plenishings. The dwellings seem ill-fitted for a rigorous climate,
but the same thing may be said of those of the Japanese. In their
houses, as in their faces, the Ainos are more European than their
conquerors, as they possess doorways, windows, central fireplaces,
like those of the Highlanders of Scotland, and raised sleeping-

The usual appearance is that of a small house built on at the end
of a larger one. The small house is the vestibule or ante-room,
and is entered by a low doorway screened by a heavy mat of reeds.
It contains the large wooden mortar and pestle with two ends, used
for pounding millet, a wooden receptacle for millet, nets or
hunting gear, and some bundles of reeds for repairing roof or
walls. This room never contains a window. From it the large room
is entered by a doorway, over which a heavy reed-mat, bound with
hide, invariably hangs. This room in Benri's case is 35 feet long
by 25 feet broad, another is 45 feet square, the smallest measures
20 feet by 15. On entering, one is much impressed by the great
height and steepness of the roof, altogether out of proportion to
the height of the walls.

The frame of the house is of posts, 4 feet 10 inches high, placed 4
feet apart, and sloping slightly inwards. The height of the walls
is apparently regulated by that of the reeds, of which only one
length is used, and which never exceed 4 feet 10 inches. The posts
are scooped at the top, and heavy poles, resting on the scoops, are
laid along them to form the top of the wall. The posts are again
connected twice by slighter poles tied on horizontally. The wall
is double; the outer part being formed of reeds tied very neatly to
the framework in small, regular bundles, the inner layer or wall
being made of reeds attached singly. From the top of the pole,
which is secured to the top of the posts, the framework of the roof
rises to a height of twenty-two feet, made, like the rest, of poles
tied to a heavy and roughly-hewn ridge-beam. At one end under the
ridge-beam there is a large triangular aperture for the exit of
smoke. Two very stout, roughly-hewn beams cross the width of the
house, resting on the posts of the wall, and on props let into the
floor, and a number of poles are laid at the same height, by means
of which a secondary roof formed of mats can be at once
extemporised, but this is only used for guests. These poles answer
the same purpose as shelves. Very great care is bestowed upon the
outside of the roof, which is a marvel of neatness and prettiness,
and has the appearance of a series of frills being thatched in
ridges. The ridge-pole is very thickly covered, and the thatch
both there and at the corners is elaborately laced with a pattern
in strong peeled twigs. The poles, which, for much of the room,
run from wall to wall, compel one to stoop, to avoid fracturing
one's skull, and bringing down spears, bows and arrows, arrow-
traps, and other primitive property. The roof and rafters are
black and shiny from wood smoke. Immediately under them, at one
end and one side, are small, square windows, which are closed at
night by wooden shutters, which during the day-time hang by ropes.
Nothing is a greater insult to an Aino than to look in at his

On the left of the doorway is invariably a fixed wooden platform,
eighteen inches high, and covered with a single mat, which is the
sleeping-place. The pillows are small stiff bolsters, covered with
ornamental matting. If the family be large there are several of
these sleeping platforms. A pole runs horizontally at a fitting
distance above the outside edge of each, over which mats are thrown
to conceal the sleepers from the rest of the room. The inside half
of these mats is plain, but the outside, which is seen from the
room, has a diamond pattern woven into it in dull reds and browns.
The whole floor is covered with a very coarse reed-mat, with
interstices half an inch wide. The fireplace, which is six feet
long, is oblong. Above it, on a very black and elaborate
framework, hangs a very black and shiny mat, whose superfluous soot
forms the basis of the stain used in tattooing, and whose apparent
purpose is to prevent the smoke ascending, and to diffuse it
equally throughout the room. From this framework depends the great
cooking-pot, which plays a most important part in Aino economy.

Household gods form an essential part of the furnishing of every
house. In this one, at the left of the entrance, there are ten
white wands, with shavings depending from the upper end, stuck in
the wall; another projects from the window which faces the sunrise,
and the great god--a white post, two feet high, with spirals of
shavings depending from the top--is always planted in the floor,
near the wall, on the left side, opposite the fire, between the
platform bed of the householder and the low, broad shelf placed
invariably on the same side, and which is a singular feature of all
Aino houses, coast and mountain, down to the poorest, containing,
as it does, Japanese curios, many of them very valuable objects of
antique art, though much destroyed by damp and dust. They are true
curiosities in the dwellings of these northern aborigines, and look
almost solemn ranged against the wall. In this house there are
twenty-four lacquered urns, or tea-chests, or seats, each standing
two feet high on four small legs, shod with engraved or filigree
brass. Behind these are eight lacquered tubs, and a number of
bowls and lacquer trays, and above are spears with inlaid handles,
and fine Kaga and Awata bowls. The lacquer is good, and several of
the urns have daimiyo's crests in gold upon them. One urn and a
large covered bowl are beautifully inlaid with Venus' ear. The
great urns are to be seen in every house, and in addition there are
suits of inlaid armour, and swords with inlaid hilts, engraved
blades, and repousse scabbards, for which a collector would give
almost anything. No offers, however liberal, can tempt them to
sell any of these antique possessions. "They were presents," they
say in their low, musical voices; "they were presents from those
who were kind to our fathers; no, we cannot sell them; they were
presents." And so gold lacquer, and pearl inlaying, and gold
niello-work, and daimiyo's crests in gold, continue to gleam in the
smoky darkness of their huts. Some of these things were doubtless
gifts to their fathers when they went to pay tribute to the
representative of the Shogun and the Prince of Matsumae, soon after
the conquest of Yezo. Others were probably gifts from samurai, who
took refuge here during the rebellion, and some must have been
obtained by barter. They are the one possession which they will
not barter for sake, and are only parted with in payment of fines
at the command of a chief, or as the dower of a girl.

Except in the poorest houses, where the people can only afford to
lay down a mat for a guest, they cover the coarse mat with fine
ones on each side of the fire. These mats and the bark-cloth are
really their only manufactures. They are made of fine reeds, with
a pattern in dull reds or browns, and are 14 feet long by 3 feet 6
inches wide. It takes a woman eight days to make one of them. In
every house there are one or two movable platforms 6 feet by 4 and
14 inches high, which are placed at the head of the fireplace, and
on which guests sit and sleep on a bearskin or a fine mat. In many
houses there are broad seats a few inches high, on which the elder
men sit cross-legged, as their custom is, not squatting Japanese
fashion on the heels. A water-tub always rests on a stand by the
door, and the dried fish and venison or bear for daily use hang
from the rafters, as well as a few skins. Besides these things
there are a few absolute necessaries,--lacquer or wooden bowls for
food and sake, a chopping-board and rude chopping-knife, a cleft-
stick for burning strips of birch-bark, a triply-cleft stick for
supporting the potsherd in which, on rare occasions, they burn a
wick with oil, the component parts of their rude loom, the bark of
which they make their clothes, the reeds of which they make their
mats,--and the inventory of the essentials of their life is nearly
complete. No iron enters into the construction of their houses,
its place being supplied by a remarkably tenacious fibre.

I have before described the preparation of their food, which
usually consists of a stew "of abominable things." They eat salt
and fresh fish, dried fish, seaweed, slugs, the various vegetables
which grow in the wilderness of tall weeds which surrounds their
villages, wild roots and berries, fresh and dried venison and bear;
their carnival consisting of fresh bear's flesh and sake, seaweed,
mushrooms, and anything they can get, in fact, which is not
poisonous, mixing everything up together. They use a wooden spoon
for stirring, and eat with chopsticks. They have only two regular
meals a day, but eat very heartily. In addition to the eatables
just mentioned they have a thick soup made from a putty-like clay
which is found in one or two of the valleys. This is boiled with
the bulb of a wild lily, and, after much of the clay has been
allowed to settle, the liquid, which is very thick, is poured off.
In the north, a valley where this earth is found is called Tsie-
toi-nai, literally "eat-earth-valley."

The men spend the autumn, winter, and spring in hunting deer and
bears. Part of their tribute or taxes is paid in skins, and they
subsist on the dried meat. Up to about this time the Ainos have
obtained these beasts by means of poisoned arrows, arrow-traps, and
pitfalls, but the Japanese Government has prohibited the use of
poison and arrow-traps, and these men say that hunting is becoming
extremely difficult, as the wild animals are driven back farther
and farther into the mountains by the sound of the guns. However,
they add significantly, "the eyes of the Japanese Government are
not in every place!"

Their bows are only three feet long, and are made of stout saplings
with the bark on, and there is no attempt to render them light or
shapely at the ends. The wood is singularly inelastic. The arrows
(of which I have obtained a number) are very peculiar, and are made
in three pieces, the point consisting of a sharpened piece of bone
with an elongated cavity on one side for the reception of the
poison. This point or head is very slightly fastened by a lashing
of bark to a fusiform piece of bone about four inches long, which
is in its turn lashed to a shaft about fourteen inches long, the
other end of which is sometimes equipped with a triple feather and
sometimes is not.

The poison is placed in the elongated cavity in the head in a very
soft state, and hardens afterwards. In some of the arrow-heads
fully half a teaspoonful of the paste is inserted. From the nature
of the very slight lashings which attach the arrow-head to the
shaft, it constantly remains fixed in the slight wound that it
makes, while the shaft falls off.

Pipichari has given me a small quantity of the poisonous paste, and
has also taken me to see the plant from the root of which it is
made, the Aconitum Japonicum, a monkshood, whose tall spikes of
blue flowers are brightening the brushwood in all directions. The
root is pounded into a pulp, mixed with a reddish earth like an
iron ore pulverised, and again with animal fat, before being placed
in the arrow. It has been said that the poison is prepared for use
by being buried in the earth, but Benri says that this is needless.
They claim for it that a single wound kills a bear in ten minutes,
but that the flesh is not rendered unfit for eating, though they
take the precaution of cutting away a considerable quantity of it
round the wound.

Dr. Eldridge, formerly of Hakodate, obtained a small quantity of
the poison, and, after trying some experiments with it, came to the
conclusion that it is less virulent than other poisons employed for
a like purpose, as by the natives of Java, the Bushmen, and certain
tribes of the Amazon and Orinoco. The Ainos say that if a man is
accidentally wounded by a poisoned arrow the only cure is immediate
excision of the part.

I do not wonder that the Government has prohibited arrow-traps, for
they made locomotion unsafe, and it is still unsafe a little
farther north, where the hunters are more out of observation than
here. The traps consist of a large bow with a poisoned arrow,
fixed in such a way that when the bear walks over a cord which is
attached to it he is simultaneously transfixed. I have seen as
many as fifty in one house. The simple contrivance for inflicting
this silent death is most ingenious.

The women are occupied all day, as I have before said. They look
cheerful, and even merry when they smile, and are not like the
Japanese, prematurely old, partly perhaps because their houses are
well ventilated, and the use of charcoal is unknown. I do not
think that they undergo the unmitigated drudgery which falls to the
lot of most savage women, though they work hard. The men do not
like them to speak to strangers, however, and say that their place
is to work and rear children. They eat of the same food, and at
the same time as the men, laugh and talk before them, and receive
equal support and respect in old age. They sell mats and bark-
cloth in the piece, and made up, when they can, and their husbands
do not take their earnings from them. All Aino women understand
the making of bark-cloth. The men bring in the bark in strips,
five feet long, having removed the outer coating. This inner bark
is easily separated into several thin layers, which are split into
very narrow strips by the older women, very neatly knotted, and
wound into balls weighing about a pound each. No preparation of
either the bark or the thread is required to fit it for weaving,
but I observe that some of the women steep it in a decoction of a
bark which produces a brown dye to deepen the buff tint.

The loom is so simple that I almost fear to represent it as
complicated by description. It consists of a stout hook fixed in
the floor, to which the threads of the far end of the web are
secured, a cord fastening the near end to the waist of the worker,
who supplies, by dexterous rigidity, the necessary tension; a frame
like a comb resting on the ankles, through which the threads pass,
a hollow roll for keeping the upper and under threads separate, a
spatula-shaped shuttle of engraved wood, and a roller on which the
cloth is rolled as it is made. The length of the web is fifteen
feet, and the width of the cloth fifteen inches. It is woven with
great regularity, and the knots in the thread are carefully kept on
the under side. {20} It is a very slow and fatiguing process, and
a woman cannot do much more than a foot a day. The weaver sits on
the floor with the whole arrangement attached to her waist, and the
loom, if such it may be called, on her ankles. It takes long
practice before she can supply the necessary tension by spinal
rigidity. As the work proceeds she drags herself almost
imperceptibly nearer the hook. In this house and other large ones
two or three women bring in their webs in the morning, fix their
hooks, and weave all day, while others, who have not equal
advantages, put their hooks in the ground and weave in the
sunshine. The web and loom can be bundled up in two minutes, and
carried away quite as easily as a knitted soft blanket. It is the
simplest and perhaps the most primitive form of hand-loom, and
comb, shuttle, and roll, are all easily fashioned with an ordinary

LETTER XXXVII--(Continued)

A Simple Nature-Worship--Aino Gods--A Festival Song--Religious
Intoxication--Bear-Worship--The Annual Saturnalia--The Future
State--Marriage and Divorce--Musical Instruments--Etiquette--The
Chieftainship--Death and Burial--Old Age--Moral Qualities.

There cannot be anything more vague and destitute of cohesion than
Aino religious notions. With the exception of the hill shrines of
Japanese construction dedicated to Yoshitsune, they have no
temples, and they have neither priests, sacrifices, nor worship.
Apparently through all traditional time their cultus has been the
rudest and most primitive form of nature-worship, the attaching of
a vague sacredness to trees, rivers, rocks, and mountains, and of
vague notions of power for good or evil to the sea, the forest, the
fire, and the sun and moon. I cannot make out that they possess a
trace of the deification of ancestors, though their rude nature
worship may well have been the primitive form of Japanese Shinto.
The solitary exception to their adoration of animate and inanimate
nature appears to be the reverence paid to Yoshitsune, to whom they
believe they are greatly indebted, and who, it is supposed by some,
will yet interfere on their behalf. {21} Their gods--that is, the
outward symbols of their religion, corresponding most likely with
the Shinto gohei--are wands and posts of peeled wood, whittled
nearly to the top, from which the pendent shavings fall down in
white curls. These are not only set up in their houses, sometimes
to the number of twenty, but on precipices, banks of rivers and
streams, and mountain-passes, and such wands are thrown into the
rivers as the boatmen descend rapids and dangerous places. Since
my baggage horse fell over an acclivity on the trail from Sarufuto,
four such wands have been placed there. It is nonsense to write of
the religious ideas of a people who have none, and of beliefs among
people who are merely adult children. The traveller who formulates
an Aino creed must "evolve it from his inner consciousness." I
have taken infinite trouble to learn from themselves what their
religious notions are, and Shinondi tells me that they have told me
all they know, and the whole sum is a few vague fears and hopes,
and a suspicion that there are things outside themselves more
powerful than themselves, whose good influences may be obtained, or
whose evil influences may be averted, by libations of sake.

The word worship is in itself misleading. When I use it of these
savages it simply means libations of sake, waving bowls and waving
hands, without any spiritual act of deprecation or supplication.
In such a sense and such alone they worship the sun and moon (but
not the stars), the forest, and the sea. The wolf, the black
snake, the owl, and several other beasts and birds have the word
kamoi, god, attached to them, as the wolf is the "howling god," the
owl "the bird of the gods," a black snake the "raven god;" but none
of these things are now "worshipped," wolf-worship having quite
lately died out. Thunder, "the voice of the gods," inspires some
fear. The sun, they say, is their best god, and the fire their
next best, obviously the divinities from whom their greatest
benefits are received. Some idea of gratitude pervades their rude
notions, as in the case of the "worship" paid to Yoshitsune, and it
appears in one of the rude recitations chanted at the Saturnalia
which in several places conclude the hunting and fishing seasons:-

"To the sea which nourishes us, to the forest which protects us, we
present our grateful thanks. You are two mothers that nourish the
same child; do not be angry if we leave one to go to the other.

"The Ainos will always be the pride of the forest and of the sea."

The solitary act of sacrifice which they perform is the placing of
a worthless, dead bird, something like a sparrow, near one of their
peeled wands, where it is left till it reaches an advanced stage of
putrefaction. "To drink for the god" is the chief act of
"worship," and thus drunkenness and religion are inseparably
connected, as the more sake the Ainos drink the more devout they
are, and the better pleased are the gods. It does not appear that
anything but sake is of sufficient value to please the gods. The
libations to the fire and the peeled post are never omitted, and
are always accompanied by the inward waving of the sake bowls.

The peculiarity which distinguishes this rude mythology is the
"worship" of the bear, the Yezo bear being one of the finest of his
species; but it is impossible to understand the feelings by which
it is prompted, for they worship it after their fashion, and set up
its head in their villages, yet they trap it, kill it, eat it, and
sell its skin. There is no doubt that this wild beast inspires
more of the feeling which prompts worship than the inanimate forces
of nature, and the Ainos may be distinguished as bear-worshippers,
and their greatest religious festival or Saturnalia as the Festival
of the Bear. Gentle and peaceable as they are, they have a great
admiration for fierceness and courage; and the bear, which is the
strongest, fiercest, and most courageous animal known to them, has
probably in all ages inspired them with veneration. Some of their
rude chants are in praise of the bear, and their highest eulogy on
a man is to compare him to a bear. Thus Shinondi said of Benri,
the chief, "He is as strong as a bear," and the old Fate praising
Pipichari called him "The young bear."

In all Aino villages, specially near the chief's house, there are
several tall poles with the fleshless skull of a bear on the top of
each, and in most there is also a large cage, made grid-iron
fashion, of stout timbers, and raised two or three feet from the
ground. At the present time such cages contain young but well-
grown bears, captured when quite small in the early spring. After
the capture the bear cub is introduced into a dwelling-house,
generally that of the chief, or sub-chief, where it is suckled by a
woman, and played with by the children, till it grows too big and
rough for domestic ways, and is placed in a strong cage, in which
it is fed and cared for, as I understand, till the autumn of the
following year, when, being strong and well-grown, the Festival of
the Bear is celebrated. The customs of this festival vary
considerably, and the manner of the bear's death differs among the
mountain and coast Ainos, but everywhere there is a general
gathering of the people, and it is the occasion of a great feast,
accompanied with much sake and a curious dance, in which men alone
take part.

Yells and shouts are used to excite the bear, and when he becomes
much agitated a chief shoots him with an arrow, inflicting a slight
wound which maddens him, on which the bars of the cage are raised,
and he springs forth, very furious. At this stage the Ainos run
upon him with various weapons, each one striving to inflict a
wound, as it brings good luck to draw his blood. As soon as he
falls down exhausted, his head is cut off, and the weapons with
which he has been wounded are offered to it, and he is asked to
avenge himself upon them. Afterwards the carcass, amidst a
frenzied uproar, is distributed among the people, and amidst
feasting and riot the head, placed upon a pole, is worshipped, i.e.
it receives libations of sake, and the festival closes with general
intoxication. In some villages it is customary for the foster-
mother of the bear to utter piercing wails while he is delivered to
his murderers, and after he is slain to beat each one of them with
a branch of a tree. [Afterwards at Usu, on Volcano Bay, the old
men told me that at their festival they despatch the bear after a
different manner. On letting it loose from the cage two men seize
it by the ears, and others simultaneously place a long, stout pole
across the nape of its neck, upon which a number of Ainos mount,
and after a prolonged struggle the neck is broken. As the bear is
seen to approach his end, they shout in chorus, "We kill you, O
bear! come back soon into an Aino."] When a bear is trapped or
wounded by an arrow, the hunters go through an apologetic or
propitiatory ceremony. They appear to have certain rude ideas of
metempsychosis, as is evidenced by the Usu prayer to the bear and
certain rude traditions; but whether these are indigenous, or have
arisen by contact with Buddhism at a later period, it is impossible
to say.

They have no definite ideas concerning a future state, and the
subject is evidently not a pleasing one to them. Such notions as
they have are few and confused. Some think that the spirits of
their friends go into wolves and snakes; others, that they wander
about the forests; and they are much afraid of ghosts. A few think
that they go to "a good or bad place," according to their deeds;
but Shinondi said, and there was an infinite pathos in his words,
"How can we know? No one ever came back to tell us!" On asking
him what were bad deeds, he said, "Being bad to parents, stealing,
and telling lies." The future, however, does not occupy any place
in their thoughts, and they can hardly be said to believe in the
immortality of the soul, though their fear of ghosts shows that
they recognise a distinction between body and spirit.

Their social customs are very simple. Girls never marry before the
age of seventeen, or men before twenty-one. When a man wishes to
marry he thinks of some particular girl, and asks the chief if he
may ask for her. If leave is given, either through a "go-between"
or personally, he asks her father for her, and if he consents the
bridegroom gives him a present, usually a Japanese "curio." This
constitutes betrothal, and the marriage, which immediately follows,
is celebrated by carousals and the drinking of much sake. The
bride receives as her dowry her earrings and a highly ornamented
kimono. It is an essential that the husband provides a house to
which to take his wife. Each couple lives separately, and even the
eldest son does not take his bride to his father's house. Polygamy
is only allowed in two cases. The chief may have three wives; but
each must have her separate house. Benri has two wives; but it
appears that he took the second because the first was childless.
[The Usu Ainos told me that among the tribes of Volcano Bay
polygamy is not practised, even by the chiefs.] It is also
permitted in the case of a childless wife; but there is no instance
of it in Biratori, and the men say that they prefer to have one
wife, as two quarrel.

Widows are allowed to marry again with the chief's consent; but
among these mountain Ainos a woman must remain absolutely secluded
within the house of her late husband for a period varying from six
to twelve months, only going to the door at intervals to throw sake
to the right and left. A man secludes himself similarly for thirty
days. [So greatly do the customs vary, that round Volcano Bay I
found that the period of seclusion for a widow is only thirty days,
and for a man twenty-five; but that after a father's death the
house in which he has lived is burned down after the thirty days of
seclusion, and the widow and her children go to a friend's house
for three years, after which the house is rebuilt on its former

If a man does not like his wife, by obtaining the chief's consent
he can divorce her; but he must send her back to her parents with
plenty of good clothes; but divorce is impracticable where there
are children, and is rarely if ever practised. Conjugal fidelity
is a virtue among Aino women; but "custom" provides that, in case
of unfaithfulness, the injured husband may bestow his wife upon her
paramour, if he be an unmarried man; in which case the chief fixes
the amount of damages which the paramour must pay; and these are
usually valuable Japanese curios.

The old and blind people are entirely supported by their children,
and receive until their dying day filial reverence and obedience.

If one man steals from another he must return what he has taken,
and give the injured man a present besides, the value of which is
fixed by the chief.

Their mode of living you already know, as I have shared it, and am
still receiving their hospitality. "Custom" enjoins the exercise
of hospitality on every Aino. They receive all strangers as they
received me, giving them of their best, placing them in the most
honourable place, bestowing gifts upon them, and, when they depart,
furnishing them with cakes of boiled millet.

They have few amusements, except certain feasts. Their dance,
which they have just given in my honour, is slow and mournful, and
their songs are chants or recitative. They have a musical
instrument, something like a guitar, with three, five, or six
strings, which are made from sinews of whales cast up on the shore.
They have another, which is believed to be peculiar to themselves,
consisting of a thin piece of wood, about five inches long and two
and a half inches broad, with a pointed wooden tongue, about two
lines in breadth and sixteen in length, fixed in the middle, and
grooved on three sides. The wood is held before the mouth, and the
tongue is set in motion by the vibration of the breath in singing.
Its sound, though less penetrating, is as discordant as that of a
Jew's harp, which it somewhat resembles. One of the men used it as
an accompaniment of a song; but they are unwilling to part with
them, as they say that it is very seldom that they can find a piece
of wood which will bear the fine splitting necessary for the

They are a most courteous people among each other. The salutations
are frequent--on entering a house, on leaving it, on meeting on the
road, on receiving anything from the hand of another, and on
receiving a kind or complimentary speech. They do not make any
acknowledgments of this kind to the women, however. The common
salutation consists in extending the hands and waving them inwards,
once or oftener, and stroking the beard; the formal one in raising
the hands with an inward curve to the level of the head two or
three times, lowering them, and rubbing them together; the ceremony
concluding with stroking the beard several times. The latter and
more formal mode of salutation is offered to the chief, and by the
young to the old men. The women have no "manners!"

They have no "medicine men," and, though they are aware of the
existence of healing herbs, they do not know their special virtues
or the manner of using them. Dried and pounded bear's liver is
their specific, and they place much reliance on it in colic and
other pains. They are a healthy race. In this village of 300
souls, there are no chronically ailing people; nothing but one case
of bronchitis, and some cutaneous maladies among children. Neither
is there any case of deformity in this and five other large
villages which I have visited, except that of a girl, who has one
leg slightly shorter than the other.

They ferment a kind of intoxicating liquor from the root of a tree,
and also from their own millet and Japanese rice, but Japanese sake
is the one thing that they care about. They spend all their gains
upon it, and drink it in enormous quantities. It represents to
them all the good of which they know, or can conceive. Beastly
intoxication is the highest happiness to which these poor savages
aspire, and the condition is sanctified to them under the fiction
of "drinking to the gods." Men and women alike indulge in this
vice. A few, however, like Pipichari, abstain from it totally,
taking the bowl in their hands, making the libations to the gods,
and then passing it on. I asked Pipichari why he did not take
sake, and he replied with a truthful terseness, "Because it makes
men like dogs."

Except the chief, who has two horses, they have no domestic animals
except very large, yellow dogs, which are used in hunting, but are
never admitted within the houses.

The habits of the people, though by no means destitute of decency
and propriety, are not cleanly. The women bathe their hands once a
day, but any other washing is unknown. They never wash their
clothes, and wear the same by day and night. I am afraid to
speculate on the condition of their wealth of coal-black hair.
They may be said to be very dirty--as dirty fully as masses of our
people at home. Their houses swarm with fleas, but they are not
worse in this respect than the Japanese yadoyas. The mountain
villages have, however, the appearance of extreme cleanliness,
being devoid of litter, heaps, puddles, and untidiness of all
kinds, and there are no unpleasant odours inside or outside the
houses, as they are well ventilated and smoked, and the salt fish
and meat are kept in the godowns. The hair and beards of the old
men, instead of being snowy as they ought to be, are yellow from
smoke and dirt.

They have no mode of computing time, and do not know their own
ages. To them the past is dead, yet, like other conquered and
despised races, they cling to the idea that in some far-off age
they were a great nation. They have no traditions of internecine
strife, and the art of war seems to have been lost long ago. I
asked Benri about this matter, and he says that formerly Ainos
fought with spears and knives as well as with bows and arrows, but
that Yoshitsune, their hero god, forbade war for ever, and since
then the two-edged spear, with a shaft nine feet long, has only
been used in hunting bears.

The Japanese Government, of course, exercises the same authority
over the Ainos as over its other subjects, but probably it does not
care to interfere in domestic or tribal matters, and within this
outside limit despotic authority is vested in the chiefs. The
Ainos live in village communities, and each community has its own
chief, who is its lord paramount. It appears to me that this
chieftainship is but an expansion of the paternal relation, and
that all the village families are ruled as a unit. Benri, in whose
house I am, is the chief of Biratori, and is treated by all with
very great deference of manner. The office is nominally for life;
but if a chief becomes blind, or too infirm to go about, he
appoints a successor. If he has a "smart" son, who he thinks will
command the respect of the people, he appoints him; but if not, he
chooses the most suitable man in the village. The people are
called upon to approve the choice, but their ratification is never
refused. The office is not hereditary anywhere.

Benri appears to exercise the authority of a very strict father.
His manner to all the men is like that of a master to slaves, and
they bow when they speak to him. No one can marry without his
approval. If any one builds a house he chooses the site. He has
absolute jurisdiction in civil and criminal cases, unless (which is
very rare) the latter should be of sufficient magnitude to be
reported to the Imperial officials. He compels restitution of
stolen property, and in all cases fixes the fines which are to be
paid by delinquents. He also fixes the hunting arrangements and
the festivals. The younger men were obviously much afraid of
incurring his anger in his absence.

An eldest son does not appear to be, as among the Japanese, a
privileged person. He does not necessarily inherit the house and
curios. The latter are not divided, but go with the house to the
son whom the father regards as being the "smartest." Formal
adoption is practised. Pipichari is an adopted son, and is likely
to succeed to Benri's property to the exclusion of his own
children. I cannot get at the word which is translated
"smartness," but I understand it as meaning general capacity. The
chief, as I have mentioned before, is allowed three wives among the
mountain Ainos, otherwise authority seems to be his only privilege.

The Ainos have a singular dread of snakes. Even their bravest fly
from them. One man says that it is because they know of no cure
for their bite; but there is something more than this, for they
flee from snakes which they know to be harmless.

They have an equal dread of their dead. Death seems to them very
specially "the shadow fear'd of man." When it comes, which it
usually does from bronchitis in old age, the corpse is dressed in
its best clothing, and laid upon a shelf for from one to three
days. In the case of a woman her ornaments are buried with her,
and in that of a man his knife and sake-stick, and, if he were a
smoker, his smoking apparatus. The corpse is sewn up with these
things in a mat, and, being slung on poles, is carried to a
solitary grave, where it is laid in a recumbent position. Nothing
will induce an Aino to go near a grave. Even if a valuable bird or
animal falls near one, he will not go to pick it up. A vague dread
is for ever associated with the departed, and no dream of Paradise
ever lights for the Aino the "Stygian shades."

Benri is, for an Aino, intelligent. Two years ago Mr. Dening of
Hakodate came up here and told him that there was but one God who
made us all, to which the shrewd old man replied, "If the God who
made you made us, how is it that you are so different--you so rich,
we so poor?" On asking him about the magnificent pieces of lacquer
and inlaying which adorn his curio shelf, he said that they were
his father's, grandfather's, and great-grandfather's at least, and
he thinks they were gifts from the daimiyo of Matsumae soon after
the conquest of Yezo. He is a grand-looking man, in spite of the
havoc wrought by his intemperate habits. There is plenty of room
in the house, and this morning, when I asked him to show me the use
of the spear, he looked a truly magnificent savage, stepping well
back with the spear in rest, and then springing forward for the
attack, his arms and legs turning into iron, the big muscles
standing out in knots, his frame quivering with excitement, the
thick hair falling back in masses from his brow, and the fire of
the chase in his eye. I trembled for my boy, who was the object of
the imaginary onslaught, the passion of sport was so admirably

As I write, seven of the older men are sitting by the fire. Their
grey beards fall to their waists in rippled masses, and the slight
baldness of age not only gives them a singularly venerable
appearance, but enhances the beauty of their lofty brows. I took a
rough sketch of one of the handsomest, and, showing it to him,
asked if he would have it, but instead of being amused or pleased
he showed symptoms of fear, and asked me to burn it, saying it
would bring him bad luck and he should die. However, Ito pacified
him, and he accepted it, after a Chinese character, which is
understood to mean good luck, had been written upon it; but all the
others begged me not to "make pictures" of them, except Pipichari,
who lies at my feet like a staghound.

The profusion of black hair, and a curious intensity about their
eyes, coupled with the hairy limbs and singularly vigorous
physique, give them a formidably savage appearance; but the smile,
full of "sweetness and light," in which both eyes and mouth bear
part, and the low, musical voice, softer and sweeter than anything
I have previously heard, make me at times forget that they are
savages at all. The venerable look of these old men harmonises
with the singular dignity and courtesy of their manners, but as I
look at the grand heads, and reflect that the Ainos have never
shown any capacity, and are merely adult children, they seem to
suggest water on the brain rather than intellect. I am more and
more convinced that the expression of their faces is European. It
is truthful, straightforward, manly, but both it and the tone of
voice are strongly tinged with pathos.

Before these elders Benri asked me, in a severe tone, if I had been
annoyed in any way during his absence. He feared, he said, that
the young men and the women would crowd about me rudely. I made a
complimentary speech in return, and all the ancient hands were
waved, and the venerable beards were stroked in acknowledgment.

These Ainos, doubtless, stand high among uncivilised peoples. They
are, however, as completely irreclaimable as the wildest of nomad
tribes, and contact with civilisation, where it exists, only
debases them. Several young Ainos were sent to Tokiyo, and
educated and trained in various ways, but as soon as they returned
to Yezo they relapsed into savagery, retaining nothing but a
knowledge of Japanese. They are charming in many ways, but make
one sad, too, by their stupidity, apathy, and hopelessness, and all
the sadder that their numbers appear to be again increasing; and as
their physique is very fine, there does not appear to be a prospect
of the race dying out at present.

They are certainly superior to many aborigines, as they have an
approach to domestic life. They have one word for HOUSE, and
another for HOME, and one word for husband approaches very nearly
to house-band. Truth is of value in their eyes, and this in itself
raises them above some peoples. Infanticide is unknown, and aged
parents receive filial reverence, kindness, and support, while in
their social and domestic relations there is much that is

I must conclude this letter abruptly, as the horses are waiting,
and I must cross the rivers, if possible, before the bursting of an
impending storm. I. L. B.


A Parting Gift--A Delicacy--Generosity--A Seaside Village--
Pipichari's Advice--A Drunken Revel--Ito's Prophecies--The Kocho's
Illness--Patent Medicines.

SARUFUTO, YEZO, August 27.

I left the Ainos yesterday with real regret, though I must confess
that sleeping in one's clothes and the lack of ablutions are very
fatiguing. Benri's two wives spent the early morning in the
laborious operation of grinding millet into coarse flour, and
before I departed, as their custom is, they made a paste of it,
rolled it with their unclean fingers into well-shaped cakes, boiled
them in the unwashed pot in which they make their stew of
"abominable things," and presented them to me on a lacquer tray.
They were distressed that I did not eat their food, and a woman
went to a village at some distance and brought me some venison fat
as a delicacy. All those of whom I had seen much came to wish me
good-bye, and they brought so many presents (including a fine
bearskin) that I should have needed an additional horse to carry
them had I accepted but one-half.

I rode twelve miles through the forest to Mombets, where I intended
to spend Sunday, but I had the worst horse I ever rode, and we took
five hours. The day was dull and sad, threatening a storm, and
when we got out of the forest, upon a sand-hill covered with oak
scrub, we encountered a most furious wind. Among the many views
which I have seen, that is one to be remembered. Below lay a
bleached and bare sand-hill, with a few grey houses huddled in its
miserable shelter, and a heaped-up shore of grey sand, on which a
brown-grey sea was breaking with clash and boom in long, white,
ragged lines, with all beyond a confusion of surf, surge, and mist,
with driving brown clouds mingling sea and sky, and all between
showing only in glimpses amidst scuds of sand.

At a house in the scrub a number of men were drinking sake with
much uproar, and a superb-looking Aino came out, staggered a few
yards, and then fell backwards among the weeds, a picture of
debasement. I forgot to tell you that before I left Biratori, I
inveighed to the assembled Ainos against the practice and
consequences of sake-drinking, and was met with the reply, "We must
drink to the gods, or we shall die;" but Pipichari said, "You say
that which is good; let us give sake to the gods, but not drink
it," for which bold speech he was severely rebuked by Benri.

Mombets is a stormily-situated and most wretched cluster of twenty-
seven decayed houses, some of them Aino, and some Japanese. The
fish-oil and seaweed fishing trades are in brisk operation there
now for a short time, and a number of Aino and Japanese strangers
are employed. The boats could not get out because of the surf, and
there was a drunken debauch. The whole place smelt of sake. Tipsy
men were staggering about and falling flat on their backs, to lie
there like dogs till they were sober,--Aino women were vainly
endeavouring to drag their drunken lords home, and men of both
races were reduced to a beastly equality. I went to the yadoya
where I intended to spend Sunday, but, besides being very dirty and
forlorn, it was the very centre of the sake traffic, and in its
open space there were men in all stages of riotous and stupid
intoxication. It was a sad scene, yet one to be matched in a
hundred places in Scotland every Saturday afternoon. I am told by
the Kocho here that an Aino can drink four or five times as much as
a Japanese without being tipsy, so for each tipsy Aino there had
been an outlay of 6s. or 7s., for sake is 8d. a cup here!

I had some tea and eggs in the daidokoro, and altered my plans
altogether on finding that if I proceeded farther round the east
coast, as I intended, I should run the risk of several days'
detention on the banks of numerous "bad rivers" if rain came on, by
which I should run the risk of breaking my promise to deliver Ito
to Mr. Maries by a given day. I do not surrender this project,
however, without an equivalent, for I intend to add 100 miles to my
journey, by taking an almost disused track round Volcano Bay, and
visiting the coast Ainos of a very primitive region. Ito is very
much opposed to this, thinking that he has made a sufficient
sacrifice of personal comfort at Biratori, and plies me with
stories, such as that there are "many bad rivers to cross," that
the track is so worn as to be impassable, that there are no
yadoyas, and that at the Government offices we shall neither get
rice nor eggs! An old man who has turned back unable to get horses
is made responsible for these stories. The machinations are very
amusing. Ito was much smitten with the daughter of the house-
master at Mororan, and left some things in her keeping, and the
desire to see her again is at the bottom of his opposition to the
other route.

Monday.--The horse could not or would not carry me farther than
Mombets, so, sending the baggage on, I walked through the oak wood,
and enjoyed its silent solitude, in spite of the sad reflections
upon the enslavement of the Ainos to sake. I spent yesterday
quietly in my old quarters, with a fearful storm of wind and rain
outside. Pipichari appeared at noon, nominally to bring news of
the sick woman, who is recovering, and to have his nearly healed
foot bandaged again, but really to bring me a knife sheath which he
has carved for me. He lay on the mat in the corner of my room most
of the afternoon, and I got a great many more words from him. The
house-master, who is the Kocho of Sarufuto, paid me a courteous
visit, and in the evening sent to say that he would be very glad of
some medicine, for he was "very ill and going to have fever." He
had caught a bad cold and sore throat, had bad pains in his limbs,
and was bemoaning himself ruefully. To pacify his wife, who was
very sorry for him, I gave him some "Cockle's Pills" and the
trapper's remedy of "a pint of hot water with a pinch of cayenne
pepper," and left him moaning and bundled up under a pile of
futons, in a nearly hermetically sealed room, with a hibachi of
charcoal vitiating the air. This morning when I went and inquired
after him in a properly concerned tone, his wife told me very
gleefully that he was quite well and had gone out, and had left 25
sen for some more of the medicines that I had given him, so with
great gravity I put up some of Duncan and Flockhart's most pungent
cayenne pepper, and showed her how much to use. She was not
content, however, without some of the "Cockles," a single box of
which has performed six of those "miraculous cures" which rejoice
the hearts and fill the pockets of patent medicine makers!

I. L. B.


A Welcome Gift--Recent Changes--Volcanic Phenomena--Interesting
Tufa Cones--Semi-strangulation--A Fall into a Bear-trap--The
Shiraoi Ainos--Horsebreaking and Cruelty.

September 2.

After the storm of Sunday, Monday was a grey, still, tender day,
and the ranges of wooded hills were bathed in the richest indigo
colouring. A canter of seventeen miles among the damask roses on a
very rough horse only took me to Yubets, whose indescribable
loneliness fascinated me into spending a night there again, and
encountering a wild clatter of wind and rain; and another canter of
seven miles the next morning took me to Tomakomai, where I rejoined
my kuruma, and after a long delay, three trotting Ainos took me to
Shiraoi, where the "clear shining after rain," and the mountains
against a lemon-coloured sky, were extremely beautiful; but the
Pacific was as unrestful as a guilty thing, and its crash and
clamour and the severe cold fatigued me so much that I did not
pursue my journey the next day, and had the pleasure of a flying
visit from Mr. Von Siebold and Count Diesbach, who bestowed a
chicken upon me.

I like Shiraoi very much, and if I were stronger would certainly
make it a basis for exploring a part of the interior, in which
there is much to reward the explorer. Obviously the changes in
this part of Yezo have been comparatively recent, and the energy of
the force which has produced them is not yet extinct. The land has
gained from the sea along the whole of this part of the coast to
the extent of two or three miles, the old beach with its bays and
headlands being a marked feature of the landscape. This new
formation appears to be a vast bed of pumice, covered by a thin
layer of vegetable mould, which cannot be more than fifty years
old. This pumice fell during the eruption of the volcano of
Tarumai, which is very near Shiraoi, and is also brought down in
large quantities from the interior hills and valleys by the
numerous rivers, besides being washed up by the sea. At the last
eruption pumice fell over this region of Yezo to a medium depth of
3 feet 6 inches. In nearly all the rivers good sections of the
formation may be seen in their deeply-cleft banks, broad, light-
coloured bands of pumice, with a few inches of rich, black,
vegetable soil above, and several feet of black sea-sand below.
During a freshet which occurred the first night I was at Shiraoi, a
single stream covered a piece of land with pumice to the depth of
nine inches, being the wash from the hills of the interior, in a
course of less than fifteen miles.

Looking inland, the volcano of Tarumai, with a bare grey top and a
blasted forest on its sides, occupies the right of the picture. To
the left and inland are mountains within mountains, tumbled
together in most picturesque confusion, densely covered with forest
and cleft by magnificent ravines, here and there opening out into
narrow valleys. The whole of the interior is jungle penetrable for
a few miles by shallow and rapid rivers, and by nearly smothered
trails made by the Ainos in search of game. The general lie of the
country made me very anxious to find out whether a much-broken
ridge lying among the mountains is or is not a series of tufa cones
of ancient date; and, applying for a good horse and Aino guide on
horseback, I left Ito to amuse himself, and spent much of a most
splendid day in investigations and in attempting to get round the
back of the volcano and up its inland side. There is a great deal
to see and learn there. Oh that I had strength! After hours of
most tedious and exhausting work I reached a point where there were
several great fissures emitting smoke and steam, with occasional
subterranean detonations. These were on the side of a small, flank
crack which was smoking heavily. There was light pumice

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