Page images
PDF
EPUB

of Buddhism; he practises or neglects this typhoon season, they have to end each impartially, and the priests of up with a climb sufficiently trying to both cults subsist side by side in toler- wind and limb. ant amity. Such a condition of things. The lazy tourist scales the heights however incidentally instructive to in comparatively luxurious fashion, a those whose tenets are more charitable pair of coolies being harnessed tandem than their conduct, seems scarcely com- to his jinrikisha, while a third pushes patible with a fervid faith.

it from behind. It seems hardly posOn the other hand, large sums of sible to drag or shove a wheeled vehimoney are always forthcoming for the cle up that rough, rocky track; but the rebuilding of the temples which are thing is done, and done without apperiodically reduced to ashes in this parent difficulty. If the tourist, country of frequent fires. The splen- ashamed of his laziness, insists upon did and imposing Higashi Hongwanji getting out and walking, his muscular temple at Kyoto, recently reconstructed little men will nod and grin at him in entirely by voluntary and popular sub- recognition of a kindly intention, but scription, is an instance. Pilgrimages, they do not really care whether he retoo, are annually undertaken by hosts lieves them of their burden or not. of devout folk to distant shrines, At intervals a high-perched teahouse is mountains or islands. In this very reached, and then they halt, not bemonth of August pilgrims by the thou- cause they are tired, but because it is sand are pattering through Nikko on customary to do so, while the tourist, sandalled feet, bound for or returning squatting down upon the ground in his from the sacred mountain of Nan- stiff, ungainly way, is regaled with taizan, whose summit, rising to the sticky sweetmeats and a tiny cup of respectable height of 9000 feet, domi- colorless tea. A coin of microscopic nates the valley. Clad all in white, value remunerates the hostess, who with “rain-coats” of straw matting promptly drops on all fours, touching slung across their shoulders, carrying the floor with her forehead. Then, if stout staves and literally nothing else you like to stretch your limbs, you can in the shape of personal gear, they saunter off to look at the cascade which trudge briskly along the dusty road is sure to be near at hand. Everyuntil it dwindles into the sharp ascent where in this region is the sound of of a zigzag mountain path. They come falling water, everywhere is the gratein bands from all parts of the country ful shade of trees, and, as one mounts and differ slightly, though but slightly higher and higher, the breeze becomes to Western eyes, in type. No trace is invigoratingly cool. Perhaps a light visible upon those impassive yellow or vapory cloud sweeps down from the white faces (by the way, Japanese com- neighboring cliffs, trails across the plexions are quite as often dead white track, and is gone. as yellow) of the strained, pathetically From time to time the jinrikisha is eager expression which characterizes drawn aside to give passage to a long petitioners at European shrines. Per- string of pack-horses, led almost inhaps, being such unexacting folk, they variably by peasant women, whose do not expect very much; evidently costume of tightly fitting breeches or there cannot be a great deal amiss with stockings seems as unsuitable to their their physical health, for, in addition sex as are the many descriptions of to marches of many days across the hot manual labor assigned to them. But plains, with the probability of being in no rank of life does gallantry towdrenched to the skin again and again in ards women enter into the Japanese system of ethics. Wealthy or poor, pans, Only to set eyes upon them as peasant or nobly born, they are given instantly and unhesitatingly to break to understand from first to last that the tenth commandment all to pieces. their duty and earthly mission are Not that they have latterly been able summed up in the one word obedience. to allow themselves more than fugitive They are not ill-treated-unless com- glimpses of their mountain Capua, pulsory hard work be accounted ill these poor diplomatists; for it is a far treatment-but they are certainly re- cry to Tokyo, and the international atgarded as inferior beings, and they mosphere, heavily charged with elechave not yet begun to talk about their tricity, has required the presence of "rights." They will do that soon, per authorized lightning-conductors. How. haps, stimulated by the precept and ever, it is all right now, or going to be example of their emancipated sisters all right, so they say. Diplomacy, it from beyond the seas, and then upon a seems, has been discharging its benefisurprised male Japan may descend cent mission upon the time-honored those boons of feminine equality, fem- lines with which Greeks, Cretans, inine oratory, feminine general inter- Armenians, Macedonians, and other invention, which contribute so greatly teresting, but troublesome, nationalities towards making our own lives bright are mournfully familiar. "Be good and happy. In the meantime, all tray little people; make no disturbance, elled scribes unite in singing the whatever you do, and when the right praises of the gentle, merry, helpful, moment comes we will all see whether good-humored Japanese women. Not something cannot be managed for you." here shall the ungenerous theory be The right moment never comes--can hazarded that their being what they never by any possibility come; the little are is a result of the training that they people, weary of welldoing without rehave been given.

ward, begin to wonder whether it When a height of about 2000 feet might not, after all, pay better to be above Nikko, and something over 4000 naughty; so they tumble down and feet above the sea, has been reached crack their crowns, and motherly Euthe jinrikisha coolies break into a quick rope, whilst applying vinegar and trot; for the path now lies along level, brown paper, reminds them, more in sandy ground, through pine woods, and sorrow than in anger, that they have presently you are upon the shores of only their own impetuosity to blame for Lake Chiuzenji, a ruffled sheet of blue their mishap. If kindly admonitions green water, hemmed in by steep, and nebulous promises have been ofwooded banks and high peaks, which fered to the Japanese-no longer in might be in Tyrol were it not for the these days such a very little peopletorii and temples in the foreground. we may be sure that they have been Chiuzenji is much patronized by mer- received in a spirit of grateful courtesy. chants and their families from Yoko. We may further venture to surmise hama, Kobe, and Shanghai. It is also that precisely how much is to be hoped the chosen summer resort of the foreign or feared from “Les Grandes ImpuisMinisters, many of whom are the fortu- sances" is known here, and that a nanate possessor of waterside dwellings tion which has been steadily perfecting in this deliciously cool and sequestered its armaments for ten years past looks spot; ideal habitations, nestling amid forward to fighting its own battles trees close above the lake, inaccessible when the "right moment" arrives. save by woodland paths or, more But why talk or think about such a pleasantly still, by flat-bottomed sam- gruesome eventuality as a big war on

these serene heights and in this glori- a silvery moon to contemplate her ous summer weather? How much bet- image in the still mirror of the lake. ter to lie supine beneath a spreading What a joy it must be to forsake malatree, or in the bottom of a softly rious seaboard cities and the weary cushioned sampan, and forget the dis- routine of commercial life for this high, tracted world! It is as easy and as cool and restful retreat! Very likely satisfying to do nothing at Chiuzenji the exiled British merchants, with their as on Venetian lagoons; and this is wives and children, do not even mind fortunate, since there is nothing to do the bad weather (so reminiscent of unless you care to try your hand at sweet home) very much when it comes. trolling for salmon or lake trout, with “The great pull of this place," rewhich these waters have been well marks one of them, with unconscious stocked.

pathos, “is there being so little about Lake Yumoto, 800 feet higher than it to remind you that you are in and eight miles distant from Chiuzenji, Japan." is arrived at by a forest path, a bare, Little or nothing, it must be congrassy plain, and a somewhat precip- fessed, so long as you keep your back itous final ascent, down which a torrent turned towards the modest village and dashes in successive cascades. The the temple and the white-clad, strawsulphur springs for which the village of hatted pilgrims, plodding steadily along Yumoto is celebrated announce them through the dust. But this, whether selves to the nose from afar. The pub- “pull” or drawback, does not prevent lic baths, which are as public as it is Chiuzenji from being what he atropossible to be, inasmuch as they stand ciously characterizes as a “beauty open to the adjoining road, are freely spot." used by bathers of both sexes, who do not wear bathing-costumes. Honi soit qui mal y pense! It is a mere question At Kobe, that busy, prosperous port of conventionality, and the Japanese, on the Inland Sea, a great wrestling who see no reason for keeping their tournament has been appointed to take clothes on while washing themselves, place, and spectators from every are disagreeably impressed, it is said, neighboring town and village have asby the garb which European ladies sembled to witness it, notwithstanding describe as full dress. The lake itself, the appalling heat-which, for that set amid barren heights, is not unlike matter, does not appal them in the that of Chiuzenji, but is less smiling, least. They seem, indeed, impervious somehow. One can readily believe that to all extremes of temperature, these both Yumoto and Chiuzenji are liable remarkable people, who skip unhesito be transformed into swift, chilly tatingly into baths heated well-nigh dreariness by the heavy rains for to boiling-point and brave Arctic cold which the district is, unfortunately, without wincing. Some six thousand notorious.

of them are packed together now in the But this summer of 1903, memorable canvas-enclosed circus which is to be for its inclemency all over the Western the scene of the coming encounters, and world, has been exceptionally fine in although the atmosphere is stifling, one the Far East, and although clouds cannot help noticing how much less gather at sunrise and sunset about the offensive it is than would be the case summit of Nantaizan, they disperse in in a European crowd of similar dimena few hours, leaving turquoise out. sions. The Japanese are, without lines to melt into a sky of sapphire or doubt, the very cleanest people in the

world. Patient, too, and gayly good- chalked line of the circle wbich surhumored, as always, upon the very un- rounds the couple, and the bout is at comfortable and perilously rickety tiers an end. It is not necessary to throw of planks which have been run up to your antagonist; all you have to do is accommodate them.

to drive him, upright or prone, outside They are kept waiting a long time the boundary. before a posse of dignitaries in antique In the course of the numerous concostumes ascend the platform in the tests which follow there are a few middle of the arena. These having rattling falls; but the length of time seated themselves upon their heels, the spent in preliminaries seems—at least wrestlers step forth by bands to do to an ignorant onlooker-rather out of obeisance-big men, deep-chested, and proportion to the brief excitement of possibly muscular, but so loaded with the actual fray. The thing is almost as superfluous flesh that an English tedious to watch as first-class billiards. trainer would stare at them aghast. However, the temptation to scramble They do not, it appears, train at all in out, jump into a jinrikisha, and seek a our sense of the term, but are, on the breath of fresh air on the hillside must contrary, heavy feeders and deep be resisted until the great event of the drinkers. How, with such a system of day, which is to bring together the preparation, they contrive to accom- champion of Kyoto and the champion plish the feats which they are said to of Osaka, has come off. accomplish must remain one of the The champion of Kyoto is a huge, many mysteries of this land of contra- shapeless. mass of obesity, appears to dictions. Naked to the waist and wear- be middle aged, and cannot, one would ing gorgeously laced and embroidered think by the look of him, be altogether aprons (the trophies, perhaps, of former sound in heart and lungs. Somebody victories ?), they strut round the arena, shrilly asserts that he has never been bow profoundly again and again, and beaten. Osaka's representative is withdraw. Then two of them, stripped sparer, younger, and more wiry. Evinow to their loin-cloths, reappear, face dently he has numerous adherents, and one another, and the sport, one hopes, one unenlightened alien would be preis about to begin.

pared to back him at even money if But they are in no hurry to come to any takers were to be found. Howclose quarters. They crouch down ever, he scores nothing by the prompt upon their haunches, eye to eye, but vigor of his attack upon the fat man; some distance apart, change their rela- for the latter catches his right arm tive positions very slightly, make some below the wrist as in a vice, throws it half-feints, scratch up the sand, up aloft, and so for an instant holds exactly like a pair of fighting cocks, him in imminent peril of being thrown retire, advance, retire once more, finally off his balance. Only for an instant, rise erect, and strut back to their sec- though. Osaka's long left arm winds onds, who sprinkle them with water. itself round Kyoto's mountainous bulk Half-a-dozen times or more this per- and clutches the back of his loin-cloth; formance, which may be highly skilful, Kyoto's massive left encircles Osaka's but which is not a little comic to the ribs; the right arms of both remain upuninitiated, is repeated, until on a sud- raised, rigid and motionless, while both den, like a lightning flash, they are pairs of legs, firmly planted upon the locked together. The struggle, when at sand-strewn platform, but with starting last it comes, is quite short. One of muscles, resist the tremendous pressure the combatants is forced beyond the which one divines rather than sees. And thus, amidst breathless silence, yours. But Osaka has shot his bolt. they stand minute after minute, neither Very slowly he, in his turn, has to fall yielding by a hair's breadth, neither back and resign the inches that he visibly distressed, although the sweat has gained. And now, lo and behold! begins to run from their glistening up flies his right arm as before, and bodies. What price Osaka ? It looks the old position, from which neither as if, in a trial of strength so con- competitor seems capable of shifting ditioned, sheer weight must end by the other, is resumed. The umpire retelling. Presently the umpire, a quaint news his stealthy, feline gyrations, figure in gay kimono and silken haori, bending double and flirting his fan; at irresistibly reminiscent of an actor in length comes the tap on the shoulder The Mikado, rises and begins to prowl which proclaims truce, and all is over. round the combatants with soft, cat- There is to be no third encounter; like strides, fan in hand. After mak- honors are divided; Kyoto and Osaka ing the circuit of the ring perhaps may retire to their respective borders half-a-dozen times, he taps one of the with laurels undiminished, if unaugmen on the shoulder with his fan, and mented. immediately they fall apart. Time is The result, to judge by the applause, up; the bout bas ended in a draw. gives general satisfaction. Bets, it

During the rather protracted interval must be assumed, are off; but were allowed for repose much excited chat there any on? One likes to think not. tering arises among the spectators, Inveterate borrowers though the Japapartisan feeling running high, no nese are, they have a discriminating doubt; but there are no signs of loss of gift, and if, in their keenness to grasp temper anywhere, and hushed expecta- the kernel of Western civilization, they tion falls upon the assemblage once have sometimes assimilated too much more when the rivals step forth to meet of the husk, they have seldom been in a second essay. The umpire places slow to discover and repair their error. them carefully on the precise spot and May these wrestling contests, which in precisely the same posture as when seem to be their sole form of popular they were separated; which seems a sport, remain for ever free from adlittle hard upon Osaka, who is some- juncts which bid fair to degrade and what at a disadvantage through his destroy most forms of sport in certain right arm being held, so to speak, in other islands that we know of. chancery. However, he has an air of confidence which should be reassuring · to his friends, and one guesses, without Here at last, in Kyoto, is a wet day. quite knowing why, that he means to Last night there broke over the hillemploy a more active system of tactics encircled, gray-roofed city a not unwelthis time. Almost at once, indeed, he come thunderstorm, accompanied by does something (exactly what he does a veritable deluge, which has now only a quick and skilled eye could de- dwindled to a steady, determined driztect) which causes his colossal oppo- zle. Through the streets, ankle-deep in nent to sway perceptibly. A swift mud, splash pedestrians on high clogs, change of grip follows; the Kyoto their garments wrapped tightly round champion throws back one massive leg, their legs, their shoulders protected then the other, yielding unmistakably. (more or less) by oil-paper rain-cloaks drawing nearer and nearer to the fatal and flat umbrellas of the same material chalk line. Now, friend Osaka, one held above their heads. From the overlast, supreme effort, and the day is hanging eaves and gutters streams

« PreviousContinue »