Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Unbeaten Tracks in Japan by Isabella L. Bird

Part 6 out of 6

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.7 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

everywhere, but nothing like recent lava or scoriae. One fissure
was completely lined with exquisite, acicular crystals of sulphur,
which perished with a touch. Lower down there were two hot springs
with a deposit of sulphur round their margins, and bubbles of gas,
which, from its strong, garlicky smell, I suppose to be
sulphuretted hydrogen. Farther progress in that direction was
impossible without a force of pioneers. I put my arm down several
deep crevices which were at an altitude of only about 500 feet, and
had to withdraw it at once, owing to the great heat, in which some
beautiful specimens of tropical ferns were growing. At the same
height I came to a hot spring--hot enough to burst one of my
thermometers, which was graduated above the boiling point of
Fahrenheit; and tying up an egg in a pocket-handkerchief and
holding it by a stick in the water, it was hard boiled in 8.5
minutes. The water evaporated without leaving a trace of deposit
on the handkerchief, and there was no crust round its margin. It
boiled and bubbled with great force.

Three hours more of exhausting toil, which almost knocked up the
horses, brought us to the apparent ridge, and I was delighted to
find that it consisted of a lateral range of tufa cones, which I
estimate as being from 200 to 350, or even 400 feet high. They are
densely covered with trees of considerable age, and a rich deposit
of mould; but their conical form is still admirably defined. An
hour of very severe work, and energetic use of the knife on the
part of the Aino, took me to the top of one of these through a mass
of entangled and gigantic vegetation, and I was amply repaid by
finding a deep, well-defined crateriform cavity of great depth,
with its sides richly clothed with vegetation, closely resembling
some of the old cones in the island of Kauai. This cone is
partially girdled by a stream, which in one place has cut through a
bank of both red and black volcanic ash. All the usual phenomena
of volcanic regions are probably to be met with north of Shiraoi,
and I hope they will at some future time be made the object of
careful investigation.

In spite of the desperate and almost overwhelming fatigue, I have
enjoyed few things more than that "exploring expedition." If the
Japanese have no one to talk to they croon hideous discords to
themselves, and it was a relief to leave Ito behind and get away
with an Aino, who was at once silent, trustworthy, and faithful.
Two bright rivers bubbling over beds of red pebbles run down to
Shiraoi out of the back country, and my directions, which were
translated to the Aino, were to follow up one of these and go into
the mountains in the direction of one I pointed out till I said
"Shiraoi." It was one of those exquisite mornings which are seen
sometimes in the Scotch Highlands before rain, with intense
clearness and visibility, a blue atmosphere, a cloudless sky, blue
summits, heavy dew, and glorious sunshine, and under these
circumstances scenery beautiful in itself became entrancing.

The trailers are so formidable that we had to stoop over our
horses' necks at all times, and with pushing back branches and
guarding my face from slaps and scratches, my thick dogskin gloves
were literally frayed off, and some of the skin of my hands and
face in addition, so that I returned with both bleeding and
swelled. It was on the return ride, fortunately, that in stooping
to escape one great liana the loop of another grazed my nose, and,
being unable to check my unbroken horse instantaneously, the loop
caught me by the throat, nearly strangled me, and in less time than
it takes to tell it I was drawn over the back of the saddle, and
found myself lying on the ground, jammed between a tree and the
hind leg of the horse, which was quietly feeding. The Aino, whose
face was very badly scratched, missing me, came back, said never a
word, helped me up, brought me some water in a leaf, brought my
hat, and we rode on again. I was little the worse for the fall,
but on borrowing a looking-glass I see not only scratches and
abrasions all over my face, but a livid mark round my throat as if
I had been hung! The Aino left portions of his bushy locks on many
of the branches. You would have been amused to see me in this
forest, preceded by this hairy and formidable-looking savage, who
was dressed in a coat of skins with the fur outside, seated on the
top of a pack-saddle covered with a deer hide, and with his hairy
legs crossed over the horse's neck--a fashion in which the Ainos
ride any horses over any ground with the utmost serenity.

It was a wonderful region for beauty. I have not seen so beautiful
a view in Japan as from the river-bed from which I had the first
near view of the grand assemblage of tufa cones, covered with an
ancient vegetation, backed by high mountains of volcanic origin, on
whose ragged crests the red ash was blazing vermilion against the
blue sky, with a foreground of bright waters flashing through a
primeval forest. The banks of these streams were deeply excavated
by the heavy rains, and sometimes we had to jump three and even
four feet out of the forest into the river, and as much up again,
fording the Shiraoi river only more than twenty times, and often
making a pathway of its treacherous bed and rushing waters, because
the forest was impassable from the great size of the prostrate
trees. The horses look at these jumps, hold back, try to turn, and
then, making up their minds, suddenly plunge down or up. When the
last vestige of a trail disappeared, I signed to the Aino to go on,
and our subsequent "exploration" was all done at the rate of about
a mile an hour. On the openings the grass grows stiff and strong
to the height of eight feet, with its soft reddish plumes waving in
the breeze. The Aino first forced his horse through it, but of
course it closed again, so that constantly when he was close in
front I was only aware of his proximity by the tinkling of his
horse's bells, for I saw nothing of him or of my own horse except
the horn of my saddle. We tumbled into holes often, and as easily
tumbled out of them; but once we both went down in the most
unexpected manner into what must have been an old bear-trap, both
going over our horses' heads, the horses and ourselves struggling
together in a narrow space in a mist of grassy plumes, and, being
unable to communicate with my guide, the sense of the ridiculous
situation was so overpowering that, even in the midst of the
mishap, I was exhausted with laughter, though not a little bruised.
It was very hard to get out of that pitfall, and I hope I shall
never get into one again. It is not the first occasion on which I
have been glad that the Yezo horses are shoeless. It was through
this long grass that we fought our way to the tufa cones, with the
red ragged crests against the blue sky.

The scenery was magnificent, and after getting so far I longed to
explore the sources of the rivers, but besides the many
difficulties the day was far spent. I was also too weak for any
energetic undertaking, yet I felt an intuitive perception of the
passion and fascination of exploring, and understood how people
could give up their lives to it. I turned away from the tufa cones
and the glory of the ragged crests very sadly, to ride a tired
horse through great difficulties; and the animal was so thoroughly
done up that I had to walk, or rather wade, for the last hour, and
it was nightfall when I returned, to find that Ito had packed up
all my things, had been waiting ever since noon to start for
Horobets, was very grumpy at having to unpack, and thoroughly
disgusted when I told him that I was so tired and bruised that I
should have to remain the next day to rest. He said indignantly,
"I never thought that when you'd got the Kaitakushi kuruma you'd go
off the road into those woods!" We had seen some deer and many
pheasants, and a successful hunter brought in a fine stag, so that
I had venison steak for supper, and was much comforted, though Ito
seasoned the meal with well-got-up stories of the impracticability
of the Volcano Bay route.

Shiraoi consists of a large old Honjin, or yadoya, where the
daimiyo and his train used to lodge in the old days, and about
eleven Japanese houses, most of which are sake shops--a fact which
supplies an explanation of the squalor of the Aino village of
fifty-two houses, which is on the shore at a respectful distance.
There is no cultivation, in which it is like all the fishing
villages on this part of the coast, but fish-oil and fish-manure
are made in immense quantities, and, though it is not the season
here, the place is pervaded by "an ancient and fish-like smell."

The Aino houses are much smaller, poorer, and dirtier than those of
Biratori. I went into a number of them, and conversed with the
people, many of whom understand Japanese. Some of the houses
looked like dens, and, as it was raining, husband, wife, and five
or six naked children, all as dirty as they could be, with unkempt,
elf-like locks, were huddled round the fires. Still, bad as it
looked and smelt, the fire was the hearth, and the hearth was
inviolate, and each smoked and dirt-stained group was a family, and
it was an advance upon the social life of, for instance, Salt Lake
City. The roofs are much flatter than those of the mountain Ainos,
and, as there are few store-houses, quantities of fish, "green"
skins, and venison, hang from the rafters, and the smell of these
and the stinging of the smoke were most trying. Few of the houses
had any guest-seats, but in the very poorest, when I asked shelter
from the rain, they put their best mat upon the ground, and
insisted, much to my distress, on my walking over it in muddy
boots, saying, "It is Aino custom." Ever, in those squalid homes
the broad shelf, with its rows of Japanese curios, always has a
place. I mentioned that it is customary for a chief to appoint a
successor when he becomes infirm, and I came upon a case in point,
through a mistaken direction, which took us to the house of the
former chief, with a great empty bear cage at its door. On
addressing him as the chief, he said, "I am old and blind, I cannot
go out, I am of no more good," and directed us to the house of his
successor. Altogether it is obvious, from many evidences in this
village, that Japanese contiguity is hurtful, and that the Ainos
have reaped abundantly of the disadvantages without the advantages
of contact with Japanese civilisation.

That night I saw a specimen of Japanese horse-breaking as practised
in Yezo. A Japanese brought into the village street a handsome,
spirited young horse, equipped with a Japanese demi-pique saddle,
and a most cruel gag bit. The man wore very cruel spurs, and was
armed with a bit of stout board two feet long by six inches broad.
The horse had not been mounted before, and was frightened, but not
the least vicious. He was spurred into a gallop, and ridden at
full speed up and down the street, turned by main force, thrown on
his haunches, goaded with the spurs, and cowed by being mercilessly
thrashed over the ears and eyes with the piece of board till he was
blinded with blood. Whenever he tried to stop from exhaustion he
was spurred, jerked, and flogged, till at last, covered with sweat,
foam, and blood, and with blood running from his mouth and
splashing the road, he reeled, staggered, and fell, the rider
dexterously disengaging himself. As soon as he was able to stand,
he was allowed to crawl into a shed, where he was kept without food
till morning, when a child could do anything with him. He was
"broken," effectually spirit-broken, useless for the rest of his
life. It was a brutal and brutalising exhibition, as triumphs of
brute force always are.

LETTER XXXIX--(Continued)

The Universal Language--The Yezo Corrals--A "Typhoon Rain"--
Difficult Tracks--An Unenviable Ride--Drying Clothes--A Woman's

This morning I left early in the kuruma with two kind and
delightful savages. The road being much broken by the rains I had
to get out frequently, and every time I got in again they put my
air-pillow behind me, and covered me up in a blanket; and when we
got to a rough river, one made a step of his back by which I
mounted their horse, and gave me nooses of rope to hold on by, and
the other held my arm to keep me steady, and they would not let me
walk up or down any of the hills. What a blessing it is that,
amidst the confusion of tongues, the language of kindness and
courtesy is universally understood, and that a kindly smile on a
savage face is as intelligible as on that of one's own countryman!
They had never drawn a kuruma, and were as pleased as children when
I showed them how to balance the shafts. They were not without the
capacity to originate ideas, for, when they were tired of the
frolic of pulling, they attached the kuruma by ropes to the horse,
which one of them rode at a "scramble," while the other merely ran
in the shafts to keep them level. This is an excellent plan.

Horobets is a fishing station of antique and decayed aspect, with
eighteen Japanese and forty-seven Aino houses. The latter are much
larger than at Shiraoi, and their very steep roofs are beautifully
constructed. It was a miserable day, with fog concealing the
mountains and lying heavily on the sea, but as no one expected rain
I sent the kuruma back to Mororan and secured horses. On principle
I always go to the corral myself to choose animals, if possible,
without sore backs, but the choice is often between one with a mere
raw and others which have holes in their backs into which I could
put my hand, or altogether uncovered spines. The practice does no
immediate good, but by showing the Japanese that foreign opinion
condemns these cruelties an amendment may eventually be brought
about. At Horobets, among twenty horses, there was not one that I
would take,--I should like to have had them all shot. They are
cheap and abundant, and are of no account. They drove a number
more down from the hills, and I chose the largest and finest horse
I have seen in Japan, with some spirit and action, but I soon found
that he had tender feet. We shortly left the high-road, and in
torrents of rain turned off on "unbeaten tracks," which led us
through a very bad swamp and some much swollen and very rough
rivers into the mountains, where we followed a worn-out track for
eight miles. It was literally "FOUL weather," dark and still, with
a brown mist, and rain falling in sheets. I threw my paper
waterproof away as useless, my clothes were of course soaked, and
it was with much difficulty that I kept my shomon and paper money
from being reduced to pulp. Typhoons are not known so far north as
Yezo, but it was what they call a "typhoon rain" without the
typhoon, and in no time it turned the streams into torrents barely
fordable, and tore up such of a road as there is, which at its best
is a mere water-channel. Torrents, bringing tolerable-sized
stones, tore down the track, and when the horses had been struck
two or three times by these, it was with difficulty that they could
be induced to face the rushing water. Constantly in a pass, the
water had gradually cut a track several feet deep between steep
banks, and the only possible walking place was a stony gash not
wide enough for the two feet of a horse alongside of each other,
down which water and stones were rushing from behind, with all
manner of trailers matted overhead, and between avoiding being
strangled and attempting to keep a tender-footed horse on his legs,
the ride was a very severe one. The poor animal fell five times
from stepping on stones, and in one of his falls twisted my left
wrist badly. I thought of the many people who envied me my tour in
Japan, and wondered whether they would envy me that ride!

After this had gone on for four hours, the track, with a sudden dip
over a hillside, came down on Old Mororan, a village of thirty Aino
and nine Japanese houses, very unpromising-looking, although
exquisitely situated on the rim of a lovely cove. The Aino huts
were small and poor, with an unusual number of bear skulls on
poles, and the village consisted mainly of two long dilapidated
buildings, in which a number of men were mending nets. It looked a
decaying place, of low, mean lives. But at a "merchant's" there
was one delightful room with two translucent sides--one opening on
the village, the other looking to the sea down a short, steep
slope, on which is a quaint little garden, with dwarfed fir-trees
in pots, a few balsams, and a red cabbage grown with much pride as
a "foliage plant."

It is nearly midnight, but my bed and bedding are so wet that I am
still sitting up and drying them, patch by patch, with tedious
slowness, on a wooden frame placed over a charcoal brazier, which
has given my room the dryness and warmth which are needed when a
person has been for many hours in soaked clothing, and has nothing
really dry to put on. Ito bought a chicken for my supper, but when
he was going to kill it an hour later its owner in much grief
returned the money, saying she had brought it up and could not bear
to see it killed. This is a wild, outlandish place, but an
intuition tells me that it is beautiful. The ocean at present is
thundering up the beach with the sullen force of a heavy ground-
swell, and the rain is still falling in torrents.

I. L. B.


"More than Peace"--Geographical Difficulties--Usu-taki--Swimming
the Osharu--A Dream of Beauty--A Sunset Effect--A Nocturnal Alarm--
The Coast Ainos.

September 6.

"Weary wave and dying blast
Sob and moan along the shore,
All is peace at last."

And more than peace. It was a heavenly morning. The deep blue sky
was perfectly unclouded, a blue sea with diamond flash and a "many-
twinkling smile" rippled gently on the golden sands of the lovely
little bay, and opposite, forty miles away, the pink summit of the
volcano of Komono-taki, forming the south-western point of Volcano
Bay, rose into a softening veil of tender blue haze. There was a
balmy breeziness in the air, and tawny tints upon the hill, patches
of gold in the woods, and a scarlet spray here and there heralded
the glories of the advancing autumn. As the day began, so it
closed. I should like to have detained each hour as it passed. It
was thorough enjoyment. I visited a good many of the Mororan
Ainos, saw their well-grown bear in its cage, and, tearing myself
away with difficulty at noon, crossed a steep hill and a wood of
scrub oak, and then followed a trail which runs on the amber sands
close to the sea, crosses several small streams, and passes the
lonely Aino village of Maripu, the ocean always on the left and
wooded ranges on the right, and in front an apparent bar to farther
progress in the volcano of Usu-taki, an imposing mountain, rising
abruptly to a height of nearly 3000 feet, I should think.

In Yezo, as on the main island, one can learn very little about any
prospective route. Usually when one makes an inquiry a Japanese
puts on a stupid look, giggles, tucks his thumbs into his girdle,
hitches up his garments, and either professes perfect ignorance or
gives one some vague second-hand information, though it is quite
possible that he may have been over every foot of the ground
himself more than once. Whether suspicion of your motives in
asking, or a fear of compromising himself by answering, is at the
bottom of this I don't know, but it is most exasperating to a
traveller. In Hakodate I failed to see Captain Blakiston, who has
walked round the whole Yezo sea-board, and all I was able to learn
regarding this route was that the coast was thinly peopled by
Ainos, that there were Government horses which could be got, and
that one could sleep where one got them; that rice and salt fish
were the only food; that there were many "bad rivers," and that the
road went over "bad mountains;" that the only people who went that
way were Government officials twice a year, that one could not get
on more than four miles a day, that the roads over the passes were
"all big stones," etc. etc. So this Usu-taki took me altogether by
surprise, and for a time confounded all my carefully-constructed
notions of locality. I had been told that the one volcano in the
bay was Komono-taki, near Mori, and this I believed to be eighty
miles off, and there, confronting me, within a distance of two
miles, was this grand, splintered, vermilion-crested thing, with a
far nobler aspect than that of "THE" volcano, with a curtain range
in front, deeply scored, and slashed with ravines and abysses whose
purple gloom was unlighted even by the noon-day sun. One of the
peaks was emitting black smoke from a deep crater, another steam
and white smoke from various rents and fissures in its side--
vermilion peaks, smoke, and steam all rising into a sky of
brilliant blue, and the atmosphere was so clear that I saw
everything that was going on there quite distinctly, especially
when I attained an altitude exceeding that of the curtain range.
It was not for two days that I got a correct idea of its
geographical situation, but I was not long in finding out that it
was not Komono-taki! There is much volcanic activity about it. I
saw a glare from it last night thirty miles away. The Ainos said
that it was "a god," but did not know its name, nor did the
Japanese who were living under its shadow. At some distance from
it in the interior rises a great dome-like mountain, Shiribetsan,
and the whole view is grand.

A little beyond Mombets flows the river Osharu, one of the largest
of the Yezo streams. It was much swollen by the previous day's
rain; and as the ferry-boat was carried away we had to swim it, and
the swim seemed very long. Of course, we and the baggage got very
wet. The coolness with which the Aino guide took to the water
without giving us any notice that its broad, eddying flood was a
swim, and not a ford, was very amusing.

From the top of a steepish ascent beyond the Osharugawa there is a
view into what looks like a very lovely lake, with wooded
promontories, and little bays, and rocky capes in miniature, and
little heights, on which Aino houses, with tawny roofs, are
clustered; and then the track dips suddenly, and deposits one, not
by a lake at all, but on Usu Bay, an inlet of the Pacific, much
broken up into coves, and with a very narrow entrance, only obvious
from a few points. Just as the track touches the bay there is a
road-post, with a prayer-wheel in it, and by the shore an upright
stone of very large size, inscribed with Sanskrit characters, near
to a stone staircase and a gateway in a massive stone-faced
embankment, which looked much out of keeping with the general
wildness of the place. On a rocky promontory in a wooded cove
there is a large, rambling house, greatly out of repair, inhabited
by a Japanese man and his son, who are placed there to look after
Government interests, exiles among 500 Ainos. From among the
number of rat-haunted, rambling rooms which had once been handsome,
I chose one opening on a yard or garden with some distorted yews in
it, but found that the great gateway and the amado had no bolts,
and that anything might be appropriated by any one with dishonest
intentions; but the house-master and his son, who have lived for
ten years among the Ainos, and speak their language, say that
nothing is ever taken, and that the Ainos are thoroughly honest and
harmless. Without this assurance I should have been distrustful of
the number of wide-mouthed youths who hung about, in the
listlessness and vacuity of savagery, if not of the bearded men who
sat or stood about the gateway with children in their arms.

Usu is a dream of beauty and peace. There is not much difference
between the height of high and low water on this coast, and the
lake-like illusion would have been perfect had it not been that the
rocks were tinged with gold for a foot or so above the sea by a
delicate species of fucus. In the exquisite inlet where I spent
the night, trees and trailers drooped into the water and were
mirrored in it, their green, heavy shadows lying sharp against the
sunset gold and pink of the rest of the bay; log canoes, with
planks laced upon their gunwales to heighten them, were drawn upon
a tiny beach of golden sand, and in the shadiest cove, moored to a
tree, an antique and much-carved junk was "floating double."
Wooded, rocky knolls, with Aino huts, the vermilion peaks of the
volcano of Usu-taki redder than ever in the sinking sun, a few
Ainos mending their nets, a few more spreading edible seaweed out
to dry, a single canoe breaking the golden mirror of the cove by
its noiseless motion, a few Aino loungers, with their "mild-eyed,
melancholy" faces and quiet ways suiting the quiet evening scene,
the unearthly sweetness of a temple bell--this was all, and yet it
was the loveliest picture I have seen in Japan.

In spite of Ito's remonstrances and his protestations that an
exceptionally good supper would be spoiled, I left my rat-haunted
room, with its tarnished gilding and precarious fusuma, to get the
last of the pink and lemon-coloured glory, going up the staircase
in the stone-faced embankment, and up a broad, well-paved avenue,
to a large temple, within whose open door I sat for some time
absolutely alone, and in a wonderful stillness; for the sweet-toned
bell which vainly chimes for vespers amidst this bear-worshipping
population had ceased. This temple was the first symptom of
Japanese religion that I remember to have seen since leaving
Hakodate, and worshippers have long since ebbed away from its shady
and moss-grown courts. Yet it stands there to protest for the
teaching of the great Hindu; and generations of Aino heathen pass
away one after another; and still its bronze bell tolls, and its
altar lamps are lit, and incense burns for ever before Buddha. The
characters on the great bell of this temple are said to be the same
lines which are often graven on temple bells, and to possess the
dignity of twenty-four centuries:

"All things are transient;
They being born must die,
And being born are dead;
And being dead are glad
To be at rest."

The temple is very handsome, the baldachino is superb, and the
bronzes and brasses on the altar are specially fine. A broad ray
of sunlight streamed in, crossed the matted floor, and fell full
upon the figure of Sakya-muni in his golden shrine; and just at
that moment a shaven priest, in silk-brocaded vestments of faded
green, silently passed down the stream of light, and lit the
candles on the altar, and fresh incense filled the temple with a
drowsy fragrance. It was a most impressive picture. His curiosity
evidently shortened his devotions, and he came and asked me where I
had been and where I was going, to which, of course, I replied in
excellent Japanese, and then stuck fast.

Along the paved avenue, besides the usual stone trough for holy
water, there are on one side the thousand-armed Kwan-non, a very
fine relief, and on the other a Buddha, throned on the eternal
lotus blossom, with an iron staff, much resembling a crozier, in
his hand, and that eternal apathy on his face which is the highest
hope of those who hope at all. I went through a wood, where there
are some mournful groups of graves on the hillside, and from the
temple came the sweet sound of the great bronze bell and the beat
of the big drum, and then, more faintly, the sound of the little
bell and drum, with which the priest accompanies his ceaseless
repetition of a phrase in the dead tongue of a distant land. There
is an infinite pathos about the lonely temple in its splendour, the
absence of even possible worshippers, and the large population of
Ainos, sunk in yet deeper superstitions than those which go to make
up popular Buddhism. I sat on a rock by the bay till the last pink
glow faded from Usu-taki and the last lemon stain from the still
water; and a beautiful crescent, which hung over the wooded hill,
had set, and the heavens blazed with stars:

"Ten thousand stars were in the sky,
Ten thousand in the sea,
And every wave with dimpled face,
That leapt upon the air,
Had caught a star in its embrace,
And held it trembling there."

The loneliness of Usu Bay is something wonderful--a house full of
empty rooms falling to decay, with only two men in it--one Japanese
house among 500 savages, yet it was the only one in which I have
slept in which they bolted neither the amado nor the gate. During
the night the amado fell out of the worn-out grooves with a crash,
knocking down the shoji, which fell on me, and rousing Ito, who
rushed into my room half-asleep, with a vague vision of blood-
thirsty Ainos in his mind. I then learned what I have been very
stupid not to have learned before, that in these sliding wooden
shutters there is a small door through which one person can creep
at a time called the jishindo, or "earthquake door," because it
provides an exit during the alarm of an earthquake, in case of the
amado sticking in their grooves, or their bolts going wrong. I
believe that such a door exists in all Japanese houses.

The next morning was as beautiful as the previous evening, rose and
gold instead of gold and pink. Before the sun was well up I
visited a number of the Aino lodges, saw the bear, and the chief,
who, like all the rest, is a monogamist, and, after breakfast, at
my request, some of the old men came to give me such information as
they had. These venerable elders sat cross-legged in the verandah,
the house-master's son, who kindly acted as interpreter, squatting,
Japanese fashion, at the side, and about thirty Ainos, mostly
women, with infants, sitting behind. I spent about two hours in
going over the same ground as at Biratori, and also went over the
words, and got some more, including some synonyms. The click of
the ts before the ch at the beginning of a word is strongly marked
among these Ainos. Some of their customs differ slightly from
those of their brethren of the interior, specially as to the period
of seclusion after a death, the non-allowance of polygamy to the
chief, and the manner of killing the bear at the annual festival.
Their ideas of metempsychosis are more definite, but this, I think,
is to be accounted for by the influence and proximity of Buddhism.
They spoke of the bear as their chief god, and next the sun and
fire. They said that they no longer worship the wolf, and that
though they call the volcano and many other things kamoi, or god,
they do not worship them. I ascertained beyond doubt that worship
with them means simply making libations of sake and "drinking to
the god," and that it is unaccompanied by petitions, or any vocal
or mental act.

These Ainos are as dark as the people of southern Spain, and very
hairy. Their expression is earnest and pathetic, and when they
smiled, as they did when I could not pronounce their words, their
faces had a touching sweetness which was quite beautiful, and
European, not Asiatic. Their own impression is that they are now
increasing in numbers after diminishing for many years. I left Usu
sleeping in the loveliness of an autumn noon with great regret. No
place that I have seen has fascinated me so much.

LETTER XL--(Continued)

The Sea-shore--A "Hairy Aino"--A Horse Fight--The Horses of Yezo--
"Bad Mountains"--A Slight Accident--Magnificent Scenery--A Bleached
Halting-Place--A Musty Room--Aino "Good-breeding."

A charge of 3 sen per ri more for the horses for the next stage,
because there were such "bad mountains to cross," prepared me for
what followed--many miles of the worst road for horses I ever saw.
I should not have complained if they had charged double the price.
As an almost certain consequence, it was one of the most
picturesque routes I have ever travelled. For some distance,
however, it runs placidly along by the sea-shore, on which big,
blue, foam-crested rollers were disporting themselves noisily, and
passes through several Aino hamlets, and the Aino village of Abuta,
with sixty houses, rather a prosperous-looking place, where the
cultivation was considerably more careful, and the people possessed
a number of horses. Several of the houses were surrounded by
bears' skulls grinning from between the forked tops of high poles,
and there was a well-grown bear ready for his doom and apotheosis.
In nearly all the houses a woman was weaving bark-cloth, with the
hook which holds the web fixed into the ground several feet outside
the house. At a deep river called the Nopkobets, which emerges
from the mountains close to the sea, we were ferried by an Aino
completely covered with hair, which on his shoulders was wavy like
that of a retriever, and rendered clothing quite needless either
for covering or warmth. A wavy, black beard rippled nearly to his
waist over his furry chest, and, with his black locks hanging in
masses over his shoulders, he would have looked a thorough savage
had it not been for the exceeding sweetness of his smile and eyes.
The Volcano Bay Ainos are far more hairy than the mountain Ainos,
but even among them it is quite common to see men not more so than
vigorous Europeans, and I think that the hairiness of the race as a
distinctive feature has been much exaggerated, partly by the
smooth-skinned Japanese.

The ferry scow was nearly upset by our four horses beginning to
fight. At first one bit the shoulders of another; then the one
attacked uttered short, sharp squeals, and returned the attack by
striking with his fore feet, and then there was a general melee of
striking and biting, till some ugly wounds were inflicted. I have
watched fights of this kind on a large scale every day in the
corral. The miseries of the Yezo horses are the great drawback of
Yezo travelling. They are brutally used, and are covered with
awful wounds from being driven at a fast "scramble" with the rude,
ungirthed pack-saddle and its heavy load rolling about on their
backs, and they are beaten unmercifully over their eyes and ears
with heavy sticks. Ito has been barbarous to these gentle, little-
prized animals ever since we came to Yezo; he has vexed me more by
this than by anything else, especially as he never dared even to
carry a switch on the main island, either from fear of the horses
or their owners. To-day he was beating the baggage horse
unmercifully, when I rode back and interfered with some very strong
language, saying, "You are a bully, and, like all bullies, a
coward." Imagine my aggravation when, at our first halt, he
brought out his note-book, as usual, and quietly asked me the
meaning of the words "bully" and "coward." It was perfectly
impossible to explain them, so I said a bully was the worst name I
could call him, and that a coward was the meanest thing a man could
be. Then the provoking boy said, "Is bully a worse name than
devil?" "Yes, far worse," I said, on which he seemed rather
crestfallen, and he has not beaten his horse since, in my sight at

The breaking-in process is simply breaking the spirit by an hour or
two of such atrocious cruelty as I saw at Shiraoi, at the end of
which the horse, covered with foam and blood, and bleeding from
mouth and nose, falls down exhausted. Being so ill used they have
all kinds of tricks, such as lying down in fords, throwing
themselves down head foremost and rolling over pack and rider,
bucking, and resisting attempts to make them go otherwise than in
single file. Instead of bits they have bars of wood on each side
of the mouth, secured by a rope round the nose and chin. When
horses which have been broken with bits gallop they put up their
heads till the nose is level with the ears, and it is useless to
try either to guide or check them. They are always wanting to join
the great herds on the hillside or sea-shore, from which they are
only driven down as they are needed. In every Yezo village the
first sound that one hears at break of day is the gallop of forty
or fifty horses, pursued by an Aino, who has hunted them from the
hills. A horse is worth from twenty-eight shillings upwards. They
are very sure-footed when their feet are not sore, and cross a
stream or chasm on a single rickety plank, or walk on a narrow
ledge above a river or gulch without fear. They are barefooted,
their hoofs are very hard, and I am glad to be rid of the perpetual
tying and untying and replacing of the straw shoes of the well-
cared-for horses of the main island. A man rides with them, and
for a man and three horses the charge is only sixpence for each 2.5
miles. I am now making Ito ride in front of me, to make sure that
he does not beat or otherwise misuse his beast.

After crossing the Nopkobets, from which the fighting horses have
led me to make so long a digression, we went right up into the "bad
mountains," and crossed the three tremendous passes of Lebungetoge.
Except by saying that this disused bridle-track is impassable,
people have scarcely exaggerated its difficulties. One horse broke
down on the first pass, and we were long delayed by sending the
Aino back for another. Possibly these extraordinary passes do not
exceed 1500 feet in height, but the track ascends them through a
dense forest with most extraordinary abruptness, to descend as
abruptly, to rise again sometimes by a series of nearly washed-away
zigzags, at others by a straight, ladder-like ascent deeply
channelled, the bottom of the trough being filled with rough
stones, large and small, or with ledges of rock with an entangled
mass of branches and trailers overhead, which render it necessary
to stoop over the horse's head while he is either fumbling,
stumbling, or tumbling among the stones in a gash a foot wide, or
else is awkwardly leaping up broken rock steps nearly the height of
his chest, the whole performance consisting of a series of
scrambling jerks at the rate of a mile an hour.

In one of the worst places the Aino's horse, which was just in
front of mine, in trying to scramble up a nearly breast-high and
much-worn ledge, fell backwards, nearly overturning my horse, the
stretcher poles, which formed part of his pack, striking me so hard
above my ankle that for some minutes afterwards I thought the bone
was broken. The ankle was severely cut and bruised, and bled a
good deal, and I was knocked out of the saddle. Ito's horse fell
three times, and eventually the four were roped together. Such are
some of the divertissements of Yezo travel.

Ah, but it was glorious! The views are most magnificent. This is
really Paradise. Everything is here--huge headlands magnificently
timbered, small, deep bays into which the great green waves roll
majestically, great, grey cliffs, too perpendicular for even the
most adventurous trailer to find root-hold, bold bluffs and
outlying stacks cedar-crested, glimpses of bright, blue ocean
dimpling in the sunshine or tossing up wreaths of foam among ferns
and trailers, and inland ranges of mountains forest-covered, with
tremendous gorges between, forest filled, where wolf, bear, and
deer make their nearly inaccessible lairs, and outlying
battlements, and ridges of grey rock with hardly six feet of level
on their sinuous tops, and cedars in masses giving deep shadow, and
sprays of scarlet maple or festoons of a crimson vine lighting the
gloom. The inland view suggested infinity. There seemed no limit
to the forest-covered mountains and the unlighted ravines. The
wealth of vegetation was equal in luxuriance and entanglement to
that of the tropics, primeval vegetation, on which the lumberer's
axe has never rung. Trees of immense height and girth, specially
the beautiful Salisburia adiantifolia, with its small fan-shaped
leaves, all matted together by riotous lianas, rise out of an
impenetrable undergrowth of the dwarf, dark-leaved bamboo, which,
dwarf as it is, attains a height of seven feet, and all is dark,
solemn, soundless, the haunt of wild beasts, and of butterflies and
dragonflies of the most brilliant colours. There was light without
heat, leaves and streams sparkled, and there was nothing of the
half-smothered sensation which is often produced by the choking
greenery of the main island, for frequently, far below, the Pacific
flashed in all its sunlit beauty, and occasionally we came down
unexpectedly on a little cove with abrupt cedar-crested headlands
and stacks, and a heavy surf rolling in with the deep thunder music
which alone breaks the stillness of this silent land.

There was one tremendous declivity where I got off to walk, but
found it too steep to descend on foot with comfort. You can
imagine how steep it was, when I tell you that the deep groove
being too narrow for me to get to the side of my horse, I dropped
down upon him from behind, between his tail and the saddle, and so
scrambled on!

The sun had set and the dew was falling heavily when the track
dipped over the brow of a headland, becoming a waterway so steep
and rough that I could not get down it on foot without the
assistance of my hands, and terminating on a lonely little bay of
great beauty, walled in by impracticable-looking headlands, which
was the entrance to an equally impracticable-looking, densely-
wooded valley running up among densely-wooded mountains. There was
a margin of grey sand above the sea, and on this the skeleton of an
enormous whale was bleaching. Two or three large "dug-outs," with
planks laced with stout fibre on their gunwales, and some bleached
drift-wood lay on the beach, the foreground of a solitary,
rambling, dilapidated grey house, bleached like all else, where
three Japanese men with an old Aino servant live to look after
"Government interests," whatever these may be, and keep rooms and
horses for Government officials--a great boon to travellers who,
like me, are belated here. Only one person has passed Lebunge this
year, except two officials and a policeman.

There was still a red glow on the water, and one horn of a young
moon appeared above the wooded headland; but the loneliness and
isolation are overpowering, and it is enough to produce madness to
be shut in for ever with the thunder of the everlasting surf, which
compels one to raise one's voice in order to be heard. In the
wood, half a mile from the sea, there is an Aino village of thirty
houses, and the appearance of a few of the savages gliding
noiselessly over the beach in the twilight added to the ghastliness
and loneliness of the scene. The horses were unloaded by the time
I arrived, and several courteous Ainos showed me to my room,
opening on a small courtyard with a heavy gate. The room was
musty, and, being rarely used, swarmed with spiders. A saucer of
fish-oil and a wick rendered darkness visible, and showed faintly
the dark, pathetic faces of a row of Ainos in the verandah, who
retired noiselessly with their graceful salutation when I bade them
good-night. Food was hardly to be expected, yet they gave me rice,
potatoes, and black beans boiled in equal parts of brine and syrup,
which are very palatable. The cuts and bruises of yesterday became
so very painful with the cold of the early morning that I have been
obliged to remain here.

I. L. B.


A Group of Fathers--The Lebunge Ainos--The Salisburia adiantifolia-
-A Family Group--The Missing Link--Oshamambe--Disorderly Horses--
The River Yurapu--The Seaside--Aino Canoes--The Last Morning--
Dodging Europeans.

HAKODATE, September 12.

Lebunge is a most fascinating place in its awful isolation. The
house-master was a friendly man, and much attached to the Ainos.
If other officials entrusted with Aino concerns treat the Ainos as
fraternally as those of Usu and Lebunge, there is not much to
lament. This man also gave them a high character for honesty and
harmlessness, and asked if they might come and see me before I
left; so twenty men, mostly carrying very pretty children, came
into the yard with the horses. They had never seen a foreigner,
but, either from apathy or politeness, they neither stare nor press
upon one as the Japanese do, and always make a courteous
recognition. The bear-skin housing of my saddle pleased them very
much, and my boots of unblacked leather, which they compare to the
deer-hide moccasins which they wear for winter hunting. Their
voices were the lowest and most musical that I have heard,
incongruous sounds to proceed from such hairy, powerful-looking
men. Their love for their children was most marked. They caressed
them tenderly, and held them aloft for notice, and when the house-
master told them how much I admired the brown, dark-eyed, winsome
creatures, their faces lighted with pleasure, and they saluted me
over and over again. These, like other Ainos, utter a short
screeching sound when they are not pleased, and then one recognises
the savage.

These Lebunge Ainos differ considerably from those of the eastern
villages, and I have again to notice the decided sound or click of
the ts at the beginning of many words. Their skins are as swarthy
as those of Bedaween, their foreheads comparatively low, their eyes
far more deeply set their stature lower, their hair yet more
abundant, the look of wistful melancholy more marked, and two, who
were unclothed for hard work in fashioning a canoe, were almost
entirely covered with short, black hair, specially thick on the
shoulders and back, and so completely concealing the skin as to
reconcile one to the lack of clothing. I noticed an enormous
breadth of chest, and a great development of the muscles of the
arms and legs. All these Ainos shave their hair off for two inches
above their brows, only allowing it there to attain the length of
an inch. Among the well-clothed Ainos in the yard there was one
smooth-faced, smooth-skinned, concave-chested, spindle-limbed,
yellow Japanese, with no other clothing than the decorated bark-
cloth apron which the Ainos wear in addition to their coats and
leggings. Escorted by these gentle, friendly savages, I visited
their lodges, which are very small and poor, and in every way
inferior to those of the mountain Ainos. The women are short and
thick-set, and most uncomely.

From their village I started for the longest, and by reputation the
worst, stage of my journey, seventeen miles, the first ten of which
are over mountains. So solitary and disused is this track that on
a four days' journey we have not met a human being. In the Lebunge
valley, which is densely forested, and abounds with fordable
streams and treacherous ground, I came upon a grand specimen of the
Salisburia adiantifolia, which, at a height of three feet from the
ground, divides into eight lofty stems, none of them less than 2
feet 5 inches in diameter. This tree, which grows rapidly, is so
well adapted to our climate that I wonder it has not been
introduced on a large scale, as it may be seen by everybody in Kew
Gardens. There is another tree with orbicular leaves in pairs,
which grows to an immense size.

From this valley a worn-out, stony bridle-track ascends the western
side of Lebungetoge, climbing through a dense forest of trees and
trailers to a height of about 2000 feet, where, contented with its
efforts, it reposes, and, with only slight ups and downs, continues
along the top of a narrow ridge within the seaward mountains,
between high walls of dense bamboo, which, for much of that day's
journey, is the undergrowth alike of mountain and valley, ragged
peak, and rugged ravine. The scenery was as magnificent as on the
previous day. A guide was absolutely needed, as the track ceased
altogether in one place, and for some time the horses had to
blunder their way along a bright, rushing river, swirling rapidly
downwards, heavily bordered with bamboo, full of deep holes, and
made difficult by trees which have fallen across it. There Ito,
whose horse could not keep up with the others, was lost, or rather
lost himself, which led to a delay of two hours. I have never seen
grander forest than on that two days' ride.

At last the track, barely passable after its recovery, dips over a
precipitous bluff, and descends close to the sea, which has
evidently receded considerably. Thence it runs for six miles on a
level, sandy strip, covered near the sea with a dwarf bamboo about
five inches high, and farther inland with red roses and blue

At the foot of the bluff there is a ruinous Japanese house, where
an Aino family has been placed to give shelter and rest to any who
may be crossing the pass. I opened my bento bako of red lacquer,
and found that it contained some cold, waxy potatoes, on which I
dined, with the addition of some tea, and then waited wearily for
Ito, for whom the guide went in search. The house and its inmates
were a study. The ceiling was gone, and all kinds of things, for
which I could not imagine any possible use, hung from the blackened
rafters. Everything was broken and decayed, and the dirt was
appalling. A very ugly Aino woman, hardly human in her ugliness,
was splitting bark fibre. There were several irori, Japanese
fashion, and at one of them a grand-looking old man was seated
apathetically contemplating the boiling of a pot. Old, and sitting
among ruins, he represented the fate of a race which, living, has
no history, and perishing leaves no monument. By the other irori
sat, or rather crouched, the "MISSING LINK." I was startled when I
first saw it. It was--shall I say?--a man, and the mate, I cannot
write the husband, of the ugly woman. It was about fifty. The
lofty Aino brow had been made still loftier by shaving the head for
three inches above it. The hair hung, not in shocks, but in snaky
wisps, mingling with a beard which was grey and matted. The eyes
were dark but vacant, and the face had no other expression than
that look of apathetic melancholy which one sometimes sees on the
faces of captive beasts. The arms and legs were unnaturally long
and thin, and the creature sat with the knees tucked into the
armpits. The limbs and body, with the exception of a patch on each
side, were thinly covered with fine black hair, more than an inch
long, which was slightly curly on the shoulders. It showed no
other sign of intelligence than that evidenced by boiling water for
my tea. When Ito arrived he looked at it with disgust, exclaiming,
"The Ainos are just dogs; they had a dog for their father," in
allusion to their own legend of their origin.

The level was pleasant after the mountains, and a canter took us
pleasantly to Oshamambe, where we struck the old road from Mori to
Satsuporo, and where I halted for a day to rest my spine, from
which I was suffering much. Oshamambe looks dismal even in the
sunshine, decayed and dissipated, with many people lounging about
in it doing nothing, with the dazed look which over-indulgence in
sake gives to the eyes. The sun was scorching hot, and I was glad
to find refuge from it in a crowded and dilapidated yadoya, where
there were no black beans, and the use of eggs did not appear to be
recognised. My room was only enclosed by shoji, and there were
scarcely five minutes of the day in which eyes were not applied to
the finger-holes with which they were liberally riddled; and during
the night one of them fell down, revealing six Japanese sleeping in
a row, each head on a wooden pillow.

The grandeur of the route ceased with the mountain-passes, but in
the brilliant sunshine the ride from Oshamambe to Mori, which took
me two days, was as pretty and pleasant as it could be. At first
we got on very slowly, as besides my four horses there were four
led ones going home, which got up fights and entangled their ropes,
and occasionally lay down and rolled; and besides these there were
three foals following their mothers, and if they stayed behind the
mares hung back neighing, and if they frolicked ahead the mares
wanted to look after them, and the whole string showed a combined
inclination to dispense with their riders and join the many herds
of horses which we passed. It was so tedious that, after enduring
it for some time I got Ito's horse and mine into a scow at a river
of some size, and left the disorderly drove to follow at leisure.

At Yurapu, where there is an Aino village of thirty houses, we saw
the last of the aborigines, and the interest of the journey ended.
Strips of hard sand below high-water mark, strips of red roses,
ranges of wooded mountains, rivers deep and shallow, a few villages
of old grey houses amidst grey sand and bleaching driftwood, and
then came the river Yurapu, a broad, deep stream, navigable in a
canoe for fourteen miles. The scenery there was truly beautiful in
the late and splendid afternoon. The long blue waves rolled on
shore, each one crested with light as it curled before it broke,
and hurled its snowy drift for miles along the coast with a deep
booming music. The glorious inland view was composed of six ranges
of forest-covered mountains, broken, chasmed, caverned, and dark
with timber, and above them bald, grey peaks rose against a green
sky of singular purity. I longed to take a boat up the Yurapu,
which penetrates by many a gorge into their solemn recesses, but
had not strength to carry my wish.

After this I exchanged the silence or low musical speech of Aino
guides for the harsh and ceaseless clatter of Japanese. At
Yamakushinoi, a small hamlet on the sea-shore, where I slept, there
was a sweet, quiet yadoya, delightfully situated, with a wooded
cliff at the back, over which a crescent hung out of a pure sky;
and besides, there were the more solid pleasures of fish, eggs, and
black beans. Thus, instead of being starved and finding wretched
accommodation, the week I spent on Volcano Bay has been the best
fed, as it was certainly the most comfortable, week of my travels
in northern Japan.

Another glorious day favoured my ride to Mori, but I was
unfortunate in my horse at each stage, and the Japanese guide was
grumpy and ill-natured--a most unusual thing. Otoshibe and a few
other small villages of grey houses, with "an ancient and fish-like
smell," lie along the coast, busy enough doubtless in the season,
but now looking deserted and decayed, and houses are rather
plentifully sprinkled along many parts of the shore, with a
wonderful profusion of vegetables and flowers about them, raised
from seeds liberally supplied by the Kaitakushi Department from its
Nanai experimental farm and nurseries. For a considerable part of
the way to Mori there is no track at all, though there is a good
deal of travel. One makes one's way fatiguingly along soft sea
sand or coarse shingle close to the sea, or absolutely in it, under
cliffs of hardened clay or yellow conglomerate, fording many small
streams, several of which have cut their way deeply through a
stratum of black volcanic sand. I have crossed about 100 rivers
and streams on the Yezo coast, and all the larger ones are marked
by a most noticeable peculiarity, i.e. that on nearing the sea they
turn south, and run for some distance parallel with it, before they
succeed in finding an exit through the bank of sand and shingle
which forms the beach and blocks their progress.

On the way I saw two Ainos land through the surf in a canoe, in
which they had paddled for nearly 100 miles. A river canoe is dug
out of a single log, and two men can fashion one in five days; but
on examining this one, which was twenty-five feet long, I found
that it consisted of two halves, laced together with very strong
bark fibre for their whole length, and with high sides also laced
on. They consider that they are stronger for rough sea and surf
work when made in two parts. Their bark-fibre rope is beautifully
made, and they twist it of all sizes, from twine up to a nine-inch

Beautiful as the blue ocean was, I had too much of it, for the
horses were either walking in a lather of sea foam or were crowded
between the cliff and the sea, every larger wave breaking over my
foot and irreverently splashing my face; and the surges were so
loud-tongued and incessant, throwing themselves on the beach with a
tremendous boom, and drawing the shingle back with them with an
equally tremendous rattle, so impolite and noisy, bent only on
showing their strength, reckless, rude, self-willed, and
inconsiderate! This purposeless display of force, and this
incessant waste of power, and the noisy self-assertion in both,
approach vulgarity!

Towards evening we crossed the last of the bridgeless rivers, and
put up at Mori, which I left three weeks before, and I was very
thankful to have accomplished my object without disappointment,
disaster, or any considerable discomfort. Had I not promised to
return Ito to his master by a given day, I should like to spend the
next six weeks in the Yezo wilds, for the climate is good, the
scenery beautiful, and the objects of interest are many.

Another splendid day favoured my ride from Mori to Togenoshita,
where I remained for the night, and I had exceptionally good horses
for both days, though the one which Ito rode, while going at a
rapid "scramble," threw himself down three times and rolled over to
rid himself from flies. I had not admired the wood between Mori
and Ginsainoma (the lakes) on the sullen, grey day on which I saw
it before, but this time there was an abundance of light and shadow
and solar glitter, and many a scarlet spray and crimson trailer,
and many a maple flaming in the valleys, gladdened me with the
music of colour. From the top of the pass beyond the lakes there
is a grand view of the volcano in all its nakedness, with its lava
beds and fields of pumice, with the lakes of Onuma, Konuma, and
Ginsainoma, lying in the forests at its feet, and from the top of
another hill there is a remarkable view of windy Hakodate, with its
headland looking like Gibraltar. The slopes of this hill are
covered with the Aconitum Japonicum, of which the Ainos make their
arrow poison.

The yadoya at Togenoshita was a very pleasant and friendly one, and
when Ito woke me yesterday morning, saying, "Are you sorry that
it's the last morning? I am," I felt we had one subject in common,
for I was very sorry to end my pleasant Yezo tour, and very sorry
to part with the boy who had made himself more useful and
invaluable even than before. It was most wearisome to have
Hakodate in sight for twelve miles, so near across the bay, so far
across the long, flat, stony strip which connects the headland upon
which it is built with the mainland. For about three miles the
road is rudely macadamised, and as soon as the bare-footed horses
get upon it they seem lame of all their legs; they hang back,
stumbling, dragging, edging to the side, and trying to run down
every opening, so that when we got into the interminable main
street I sent Ito on to the Consulate for my letters, and
dismounted, hoping that as it was raining I should not see any
foreigners; but I was not so lucky, for first I met Mr. Dening, and
then, seeing the Consul and Dr. Hepburn coming down the road,
evidently dressed for dining in the flag-ship, and looking spruce
and clean, I dodged up an alley to avoid them; but they saw me, and
did not wonder that I wished to escape notice, for my old betto's
hat, my torn green paper waterproof, and my riding-skirt and boots,
were not only splashed but CAKED with mud, and I had the general
look of a person "fresh from the wilds." I. L. B.


Hakodate to

No. of Houses.
Jap. Aino. Ri. Cho.

Ginsainoma 4 7 18
Mori 105 4
Mororan 57 11
Horobets 18 47 5 1
Shiraoi 11 51 6 32
Tomakomai 38 5 21
Yubets 7 3 3 5
Sarufuto 63 7 5
Biratori 53 5
Mombets 27 5 1

From Horobets to

Jap. Aino. Ri. Cho.
Old Mororan 9 30 4 28
Usu 3 99 6 2
Lebunge 1 27 5 22
Oshamambe 56 38 6 34
Yamakushinai 40 4 18
Otoshibe 40 2 3
Mori 105 3 29
Togenoshita 55 6 7
Hakodate 37,000 souls 3 29

About 358 English miles.


Pleasant Last Impressions--The Japanese Junk--Ito Disappears--My
Letter of Thanks.

HAKODATE, YEZO, September 14, 1878.

This is my last day in Yezo, and the sun, shining brightly over the
grey and windy capital, is touching the pink peaks of Komono-taki
with a deeper red, and is brightening my last impressions, which,
like my first, are very pleasant. The bay is deep blue, flecked
with violet shadows, and about sixty junks are floating upon it at
anchor. There are vessels of foreign rig too, but the wan, pale
junks lying motionless, or rolling into the harbour under their
great white sails, fascinate me as when I first saw them in the
Gulf of Yedo. They are antique-looking and picturesque, but are
fitter to give interest to a picture than to battle with stormy

Most of the junks in the bay are about 120 tons burthen, 100 feet
long, with an extreme beam, far aft, of twenty-five feet. The bow
is long, and curves into a lofty stem, like that of a Roman galley,
finished with a beak head, to secure the forestay of the mast.
This beak is furnished with two large, goggle eyes. The mast is a
ponderous spar, fifty feet high, composed of pieces of pine,
pegged, glued, and hooped together. A heavy yard is hung
amidships. The sail is an oblong of widths of strong, white cotton
artistically "PUCKERED," not sewn together, but laced vertically,
leaving a decorative lacing six inches wide between each two
widths. Instead of reefing in a strong wind, a width is unlaced,
so as to reduce the canvas vertically, not horizontally. Two blue
spheres commonly adorn the sail. The mast is placed well abaft,
and to tack or veer it is only necessary to reverse the sheet.
When on a wind the long bow and nose serve as a head-sail. The
high, square, piled-up stern, with its antique carving, and the
sides with their lattice-work, are wonderful, together with the
extraordinary size and projection of the rudder, and the length of
the tiller. The anchors are of grapnel shape, and the larger junks
have from six to eight arranged on the fore-end, giving one an idea
of bad holding-ground along the coast. They really are much like
the shape of a Chinese "small-footed" woman's shoe, and look very
unmanageable. They are of unpainted wood, and have a wintry,
ghastly look about them. {22}

I have parted with Ito finally to-day, with great regret. He has
served me faithfully, and on most common topics I can get much more
information through him than from any foreigner. I miss him
already, though he insisted on packing for me as usual, and put all
my things in order. His cleverness is something surprising. He
goes to a good, manly master, who will help him to be good and set
him a virtuous example, and that is a satisfaction. Before he left
he wrote a letter for me to the Governor of Mororan, thanking him
on my behalf for the use of the kuruma and other courtesies.

I. L. B.


Pleasant Prospects--A Miserable Disappointment--Caught in a
Typhoon--A Dense Fog--Alarmist Rumours--A Welcome at Tokiyo--The
Last of the Mutineers.

H. B. M.'s LEGATION, YEDO, September 21.

A placid sea, which after much disturbance had sighed itself to
rest, and a high, steady barometer promised a fifty hours' passage
to Yokohama, and when Dr. and Mrs. Hepburn and I left Hakodate, by
moonlight, on the night of the 14th, as the only passengers in the
Hiogo Maru, Captain Moore, her genial, pleasant master,
congratulated us on the rapid and delightful passage before us, and
we separated at midnight with many projects for pleasant
intercourse and occupation.

But a more miserable voyage I never made, and it was not until the
afternoon of the 17th that we crawled forth from our cabins to
speak to each other. On the second day out, great heat came on
with suffocating closeness, the mercury rose to 85 degrees, and in
lat. 38 degrees 0' N. and long. 141 degrees 30' E. we encountered
a "typhoon," otherwise a "cyclone," otherwise a "revolving
hurricane," which lasted for twenty-five hours, and "jettisoned"
the cargo. Captain Moor has given me a very interesting diagram of
it, showing the attempts which he made to avoid its vortex, through
which our course would have taken us, and to keep as much outside
it as possible. The typhoon was succeeded by a dense fog, so that
our fifty-hour passage became seventy-two hours, and we landed at
Yokohama near upon midnight of the 17th, to find traces of much
disaster, the whole low-lying country flooded, the railway between
Yokohama and the capital impassable, great anxiety about the rice
crop, the air full of alarmist rumours, and paper money, which was
about par when I arrived in May, at a discount of 13 per cent! In
the early part of this year (1880) it has touched 42 per cent.

Late in the afternoon the railroad was re-opened, and I came here
with Mr. Wilkinson, glad to settle down to a period of rest and
ease under this hospitable roof. The afternoon was bright and
sunny, and Tokiyo was looking its best. The long lines of yashikis
looked handsome, the castle moat was so full of the gigantic leaves
of the lotus, that the water was hardly visible, the grass
embankments of the upper moat were a brilliant green, the pines on
their summits stood out boldly against the clear sky, the hill on
which the Legation stands looked dry and cheerful, and, better than
all, I had a most kindly welcome from those who have made this
house my home in a strange land.

Tokiyo is tranquil, that is, it is disturbed only by fears for the
rice crop, and by the fall in satsu. The military mutineers have
been tried, popular rumour says tortured, and fifty-two have been
shot. The summer has been the worst for some years, and now dark
heat, moist heat, and nearly ceasless rain prevail. People have
been "rained up" in their summer quarters. "Surely it will change
soon," people say, and they have said the same thing for three

I. L. B.


Fine Weather--Cremation in Japan--The Governor of Tokiyo--An
Awkward Question--An Insignificant Building--Economy in Funeral
Expenses--Simplicity of the Cremation Process--The Last of Japan.

H. B. M.'s LEGATION, YEDO, December 18.

I have spent the last ten days here, in settled fine weather, such
as should have begun two months ago if the climate had behaved as
it ought. The time has flown by in excursions, shopping, select
little dinner-parties, farewell calls, and visits made with Mr.
Chamberlain to the famous groves and temples of Ikegami, where the
Buddhist bishop and priests entertained us in one of the guest-
rooms, and to Enoshima and Kamakura, "vulgar" resorts which nothing
can vulgarise so long as Fujisan towers above them.

I will mention but one "sight," which is so far out of the beaten
track that it was only after prolonged inquiry that its whereabouts
was ascertained. Among Buddhists, specially of the Monto sect,
cremation was largely practised till it was forbidden five years
ago, as some suppose in deference to European prejudices. Three
years ago, however, the prohibition was withdrawn, and in this
short space of time the number of bodies burned has reached nearly
nine thousand annually. Sir H. Parkes applied for permission for
me to visit the Kirigaya ground, one of five, and after a few
delays it was granted by the Governor of Tokiyo at Mr. Mori's
request, so yesterday, attended by the Legation linguist, I
presented myself at the fine yashiki of the Tokiyo Fu, and quite
unexpectedly was admitted to an audience of the Governor. Mr.
Kusamoto is a well-bred gentleman, and his face expresses the
energy and ability which he has given proof of possessing. He
wears his European clothes becomingly, and in attitude, as well as
manner, is easy and dignified. After asking me a great deal about
my northern tour and the Ainos, he expressed a wish for candid
criticism; but as this in the East must not be taken literally, I
merely ventured to say that the roads lag behind the progress made
in other directions, upon which he entered upon explanations which
doubtless apply to the past road-history of the country. He spoke
of cremation and its "necessity" in large cities, and terminated
the interview by requesting me to dismiss my interpreter and
kuruma, as he was going to send me to Meguro in his own carriage
with one of the Government interpreters, adding very courteously
that it gave him pleasure to show this attention to a guest of the
British Minister, "for whose character and important services to
Japan he has a high value."

An hour's drive, with an extra amount of yelling from the bettos,
took us to a suburb of little hills and valleys, where red
camellias and feathery bamboo against backgrounds of cryptomeria
contrast with the grey monotone of British winters, and, alighting
at a farm road too rough for a carriage, we passed through fields
and hedgerows to an erection which looks too insignificant for such
solemn use. Don't expect any ghastly details. A longish building
of "wattle and dab," much like the northern farmhouses, a high
roof, and chimneys resembling those of the "oast houses" in Kent,
combine with the rural surroundings to suggest "farm buildings"
rather than the "funeral pyre," and all that is horrible is left to
the imagination.

The end nearest the road is a little temple, much crowded with
images, and small, red, earthenware urns and tongs for sale to the
relatives of deceased persons, and beyond this are four rooms with
earthen floors and mud walls; nothing noticeable about them except
the height of the peaked roof and the dark colour of the plaster.
In the middle of the largest are several pairs of granite supports
at equal distances from each other, and in the smallest there is a
solitary pair. This was literally all that was to be seen. In the
large room several bodies are burned at one time, and the charge is
only one yen, about 3s. 8d., solitary cremation costing five yen.
Faggots are used, and 1s. worth ordinarily suffices to reduce a
human form to ashes. After the funeral service in the house the
body is brought to the cremation ground, and is left in charge of
the attendant, a melancholy, smoked-looking man, as well he may be.
The richer people sometimes pay priests to be present during the
burning, but this is not usual. There were five "quick-tubs" of
pine hooped with bamboo in the larger room, containing the remains
of coolies, and a few oblong pine chests in the small rooms
containing those of middle-class people. At 8 p.m. each "coffin"
is placed on the stone trestles, the faggots are lighted
underneath, the fires are replenished during the night, and by 6
a.m. that which was a human being is a small heap of ashes, which
is placed in an urn by the relatives and is honourably interred.
In some cases the priests accompany the relations on this last
mournful errand. Thirteen bodies were burned the night before my
visit, but there was not the slightest odour in or about the
building, and the interpreter told me that, owing to the height of
the chimneys, the people of the neighbourhood never experience the
least annoyance, even while the process is going on. The
simplicity of the arrangement is very remarkable, and there can be
no reasonable doubt that it serves the purpose of the innocuous and
complete destruction of the corpse as well as any complicated
apparatus (if not better), while its cheapness places it within the
reach of the class which is most heavily burdened by ordinary
funeral expenses. {23} This morning the Governor sent his
secretary to present me with a translation of an interesting
account of the practice of cremation and its introduction into

SS. "Volga," Christmas Eve, 1878.--The snowy dome of Fujisan
reddening in the sunrise rose above the violet woodlands of
Mississippi Bay as we steamed out of Yokohama Harbour on the 19th,
and three days later I saw the last of Japan--a rugged coast,
lashed by a wintry sea.

I. L. B.


{1} This is an altogether exceptional aspect of Fujisan, under
exceptional atmospheric conditions. The mountain usually looks
broader and lower, and is often compared to an inverted fan.

{2} I continue hereafter to use the Japanese word kuruma instead
of the Chinese word Jin-ri-ki-sha. Kuruma, literally a wheel or
vehicle, is the word commonly used by the Jin-ri-ki-sha men and
other Japanese for the "man-power-carriage," and is certainly more
euphonious. From kuruma naturally comes kurumaya for the kuruma

{3} Often in the later months of my residence in Japan, when I
asked educated Japanese questions concerning their history,
religions, or ancient customs, I was put off with the answer, "You
should ask Mr. Satow, he could tell you."

{4} After several months of travelling in some of the roughest
parts of the interior, I should advise a person in average health--
and none other should travel in Japan--not to encumber himself with
tinned meats, soups, claret, or any eatables or drinkables, except
Liebig's extract of meat.

{5} I visited this temple alone many times afterwards, and each
visit deepened the interest of my first impressions. There is
always enough of change and novelty to prevent the interest from
flagging, and the mild, but profoundly superstitious, form of
heathenism which prevails in Japan is nowhere better represented.

{6} The list of my equipments is given as a help to future
travellers, especially ladies, who desire to travel long distances
in the interior of Japan. One wicker basket is enough, as I
afterwards found.

{7} My fears, though quite natural for a lady alone, had really no
justification. I have since travelled 1200 miles in the interior,
and in Yezo, with perfect safety and freedom from alarm, and I
believe that there is no country in the world in which a lady can
travel with such absolute security from danger and rudeness as in

{8} In my northern journey I was very frequently obliged to put up
with rough and dirty accommodation, because the better sort of
houses were of this class. If there are few sights which shock the
traveller, there is much even on the surface to indicate vices
which degrade and enslave the manhood of Japan.

{9} I advise every traveller in the ruder regions of Japan to take
a similar stretcher and a good mosquito net. With these he may
defy all ordinary discomforts.

{10} This can only be true of the behaviour of the lowest
excursionists from the Treaty Ports.

{11} Many unpleasant details have necessarily been omitted. If
the reader requires any apology for those which are given here and
elsewhere, it must be found in my desire to give such a faithful
picture of peasant life, as I saw it in Northern Japan, as may be a
contribution to the general sum of knowledge of the country, and,
at the same time, serve to illustrate some of the difficulties
which the Government has to encounter in its endeavour to raise
masses of people as deficient as these are in some of the first
requirements of civilisation.

{12} The excess of males over females in the capital is 36,000,
and in the whole Empire nearly half a million.

{13} By one of these, not fitted up for passengers, I have sent
one of my baskets to Hakodate, and by doing so have come upon one
of the vexatious restrictions by which foreigners are harassed. It
would seem natural to allow a foreigner to send his personal
luggage from one Treaty Port to another without going through a
number of formalities which render it nearly impossible, but it was
only managed by Ito sending mine in his own name to a Japanese at
Hakodate with whom he is slightly acquainted.

{14} This hospital is large and well ventilated, but has not as
yet succeeded in attracting many in-patients; out-patients,
specially sufferers from ophthalmia, are very numerous. The
Japanese chief physician regards the great prevalence of the malady
in this neighbourhood as the result of damp, the reflection of the
sun's rays from sand and snow, inadequate ventilation and charcoal

{15} Kak'ke, by William Anderson, F.R.C.S. Transactions of
English Asiatic Society of Japan, January 1878.

{16} I failed to learn what the liquor was which was drunk so
freely, but as no unseemly effects followed its use, I think it
must either have been light wine, or light sake.

{17} I venture to present this journal letter, with a few
omissions, just as it was written, trusting that the interest which
attaches to aboriginal races and little-visited regions will carry
my readers through the minuteness and multiplicity of its details.

{18} The use of kerosene in matted wooden houses is a new cause of
conflagrations. It is not possible to say how it originated, but
just before Christmas 1879 a fire broke out in Hakodate, which in a
few hours destroyed 20 streets, 2500 houses, the British Consulate,
several public buildings, the new native Christian church, and the
church Mission House, leaving 11,000 people homeless.

{19} I went over them with the Ainos of a remote village on
Volcano Bay, and found the differences in pronunciation very
slight, except that the definiteness of the sound which I have
represented by Tsch was more strongly marked. I afterwards went
over them with Mr. Dening, and with Mr. Von Siebold at Tokiyo, who
have made a larger collection of words than I have, and it is
satisfactory to find that we have represented the words in the main
by the same letters, with the single exception that usually the
sound represented by them by the letters ch I have given as Tsch,
and I venture to think that is the most correct rendering.

{20} I have not been able to obtain from any botanist the name of
the tree from the bark of which the thread is made, but suppose it
to be a species of Tiliaceae.

{21} Yoshitsune is the most popular hero of Japanese history, and
the special favourite of boys. He was the brother of Yoritomo, who
was appointed by the Mikado in 1192 Sei-i Tai Shogun (barbarian-
subjugating great general) for his victories, and was the first of
that series of great Shoguns whom our European notions distorted
into "Temporal Emperors" of Japan. Yoshitsune, to whom the real
honour of these victories belonged, became the object of the
jealousy and hatred of his brother, and was hunted from province to
province, till, according to popular belief, he committed hara-
kiri, after killing his wife and children, and his head, preserved
in sake, was sent to his brother at Kamakura. Scholars, however,
are not agreed as to the manner, period, or scene of his death.
Many believe that he escaped to Yezo and lived among the Ainos for
many years, dying among them at the close of the twelfth century.
None believe this more firmly than the Ainos themselves, who assert
that he taught their fathers the arts of civilisation, with letters
and numbers, and gave them righteous laws, and he is worshipped by
many of them under a name which signifies Master of the Law. I
have been told by old men in Biratori, Usu, and Lebunge, that a
later Japanese conqueror carried away the books in which the arts
were written, and that since his time the arts themselves have been
lost, and the Ainos have fallen into their present condition! On
asking why the Ainos do not make vessels of iron and clay as well
as knives and spears, the invariable answer is, "The Japanese took
away the books."

{22} The duty paid by junks is 4s. for each twenty-five tons, by
foreign ships of foreign shape and rig 2 pounds for each 100 tons,
and by steamers 3 pounds for each 100 tons.

{23} The following very inaccurate but entertaining account of
this expedition was given by the Yomi-uri-Shimbun, a daily
newspaper with the largest, though not the most aristocratic,
circulation in Tokiyo, being taken in by the servants and
tradespeople. It is a literal translation made by Mr. Chamberlain.
"The person mentioned in our yesterday's issue as 'an English
subject of the name of Bird' is a lady from Scotland, a part of
England. This lady spends her time in travelling, leaving this
year the two American continents for a passing visit to the
Sandwich Islands, and landing in Japan early in the month of May.
She has toured all over the country, and even made a five months'
stay in the Hokkaido, investigating the local customs and
productions. Her inspection yesterday of the cremation ground at
Kirigaya is believed to have been prompted by a knowledge of the
advantages of this method of disposing of the dead, and a desire to
introduce the same into England(!) On account of this lady's being
so learned as to have published a quantity of books, His Excellency
the Governor was pleased to see her yesterday, and to show her
great civility, sending her to Kirigaya in his own carriage, a mark
of attention which is said to have pleased the lady much(!)"

Book of the day: