The Japanese division of time is peculiar. The day, from the beginning of morning twilight to the end of evening twilight, is divided into six hours, and the night, from the beginning to the end of darkness, into six other hours. Of course the length of these hours is constantly varying. Their names (according to Titsingh) are as follows: Kokonotsu [nine], noon, and midnight; Yatsu [eight], about our two o’clock; Nanatsu [seven], from four to five; Mutsu [six], end of the evening and commencement of morning twilight; Itsutsu [five], eight to nine; Yotsu [four], about ten; and then Kokonotsu again. Each of these hours is also subdivided into four parts, thus: Kokonotsu, noon or midnight; Kokonotsu-han [nine and a half], quarter past; Kokonotsu-han-sugi [past nine and a half], half past; Kokonotsu-han-sugi-maye [before past nine and a half], three quarters past; commencement of second hour: Yatsu-han, etc., and so through all the hours.
The Mongol invasion took place in the fourth year of Kōan [a. d. 1281]
In this city Pinto met, apparently for the first time, with Master Francis Xavier, general superior or provincial of the order of the Jesuits in India, in all parts of which occupied by the Portuguese he had already attained a high reputation for self-devotion, sanctity, and miraculous power; and who was then at Malacca, on his return to Goa, from a mission on which he had lately been to the Moluccas
According to the Japanese historical legends, the office of Kubō-Sama, originally limited to the infliction of punishments and the suppression of crimes, was shared, for many ages, between the two families of Genji and Heiji, till about 1180, when a civil war broke out between these families, and the latter, having triumphed, assumed such power that the Dairi commissioned Yoritomo, a member of the defeated family of Genji, to inflict punishment upon him. Yoritomo renewed the war, killed Heiji, and was himself appointed Kubō-Sama, but ended with usurping a greater power than any of his predecessors
To secure the succession of his infant son, the expiring emperor established, on his death-bed, a council of regency, composed of nine persons, at the head of which he placed Tokugawa Iyeyasu, king of the Bandō, which, besides the five provinces of the Kwantō, in which were the great cities of Suruga and Yedo, embraced, also, three other kingdoms. Iyeyasu had been king of Mikawa, a more westerly province, which he had lost by adhering to the fortunes of the third son of Nobunaga, he being allied to that family by marriage. But afterwards, by some means, he had recovered the favor of Taikō-Sama, who had even bestowed upon him the newly conquered Bandō, and who, the better to secure his fidelity, had caused his infant son and destined successor to be married to a young granddaughter of Iyeyasu.
With hull covered with plates of copper and iron, two rudders, one at the bow and one at the stern; and a paddle-wheel as her propelling machinery, fitted inside.
For young women the formal coiffure is the shimada, so called from the name of the town on the high road between Tokyo and Kyoto, where it first came into fashion. In this the hair is gathered and tied tightly at or near the crown together with a large tuft of false hair. The tip is folded in forward; the hair is then folded twice in the same direction as the tip so that the edge of the fold is half an inch or less behind the knot; and the whole is turned over the knot in such a way that the edge of the second fold is forward of the crown. Then, by a string passing over the knot the fold is tied down. The chignon is formed by spreading out the hair; sometimes a piece of paper, of the size of the chignon, is well pomaded and put under the surface of the chignon to help it to keep in place. The size of the chignon varies with the wearer’s taste; but, generally speaking, a young woman’s is larger than her elder sister’s. Its position too varies, as it depends upon that of the first knot, whether over or behind the crown. In the formal coiffure of a young lady of social standing it is close to the crown; but girls in a lower station of life or anxious to be thought chic prefer the chignon to be more to the back of the head.
Newly-born infants are shaven; but as they grow up, a little circle at the crown is left untouched. At first the circle is small, but it grows larger with years; and at six or seven, boys let all their hair grow and crop them when too long, just like their elders. Girls, before they leave this “poppy-head” stage as it is called, have little queues on the crown, tied less closely than men’s in the old days. Next, at ten or more, they have their hair done in a more complicated manner; sometimes the tresses are tied together at the crown and made into bows, and sometimes the hair is gathered at the top and parted into two tresses, right and left, which are made into vertical loops, joined together at the side, the joint being covered with a piece of ornamental paper. It has of late become an almost universal custom with school-girls to tie their hair with a ribbon and let it down loose or plaited on their backs.
Troublesome as was the man’s queue in the old days, it was a trifle compared with the woman’s coiffure. In the early days of the present regime when men began to cut their hair, many women followed suit and cropped theirs as short. The government, however, interfered and prohibited the cutting of the hair by women other than widows and grandames with whom it was a time-honoured custom. In 1887 when the pro-European craze was at its height, many women tied their hair in European style; but it was subsequently abandoned by those who found that by tying the hair in this manner, they spoilt it for the Japanese coiffure; for having been accustomed to oil it well for their native style, they discovered that the hair, when bound without any pomade, became very brittle and snapped short. Still, the European style is now largely adopted because it does not require expert assistance and the services of the professional hair-dresser can be dispensed with. Various styles are in vogue. Soon after the fall of Port Arthur in 1905, a high knot came into fashion under the formidable title of “203-metre hill knot,” in celebration of the capture of that famous hill which was practically the key to the great fortress. The favourite at present with our women is a low pompadour known as the “penthouse style.” But though the European way of dressing the hair has become very popular, it is not likely so long as the kimono remains unchanged that the Japanese coiffure, awkward as it is compared with the European, will be entirely superseded by the other.
Among the earliest innovations after the Restoration to which the Japanese people took kindly was the clipping of their queues. In the old days men had little queues on the top of their heads. For this purpose they shaved the crown and gathering the hair around, tied it at the top with a piece of paper string; then, they bent the queue and bringing it down forward over the forehead, fastened it with the ends of the same string so that the queue was tied tightly to the first knot. The end of the queue was cut straight. Fashion often changed in the making of the queue, though its general form remained unaltered. The bend, for instance, between the two knots might vary in size and shape, and the queue itself in length and thickness, its girth being regulated by the extent of the tonsure at the crown. Or the hair might be full or tight at the sides and the back. The front was usually shaved. In short, there was a wide scope for taste in the dressing of the queue.
These queues were untied and remade every second or third day, and the head was shaved at the same time. Hair-dressing was therefore a troublesome business, especially as one had generally to get assistance for it. Consequently, when the cropping of the hair came into vogue, people eagerly adopted it as it saved them time and expense. At first they cut the hair long, letting it half hide the ears and come down to the neck behind; but it became shorter by degrees until now the fashion is to crop it to about a quarter of an inch, presenting a head which is appropriately known as “chestnut-bur.”
The kimono appears indeed to be capable of little improvement. The only concession that has been made to the requirements of the latter-day school-girl is the contraction of the sleeves. The “reformed dress,” as it is called, has large open sleeves which can be tightened by means of a string. It is found very handy and is worn by many school-girls. Reformed or unreformed, there is this to be said for the Japanese woman’s dress that it does not suffer in the matter of pockets or what serve as such from comparison with man’s.
The ordinary kimono is inconvenient for active work. Those whose work requires a free movement of the limbs, commonly discard the long sleeves and the skirt. Coolies and artisans wear tight-sleeved coats and tight-fitting drawers of cotton. Women, too, who labour outdoors have on similar clothes sometimes; but more frequently they wear tight-sleeved kimono, the skirts of which are tucked up to the knees to facilitate their walking. Women, however, who live indoors but have to move about at their household work, do not care to put on tight-sleeved kimono, and they tie up their sleeves with a cloth cord when they are actively employed. They are often to be seen dusting and sweeping the rooms with their sleeves tied up and a towel on their heads. The kimono appears indeed to be capable of little improvement.
The Japanese woman’s pride, however, is the obi. It is often the most costly of all her apparel. It is about thirteen feet long and thirteen and a half inches wide. The obi for ordinary wear is made by sewing together back to back two pieces of cloth, of which the face is commonly of stiff stuff like satin and the lining of crêpe, or other soft silk or cotton. But the obi worn on formal occasions consists of a single piece of double width, which is folded in two lengthwise and seamed; it is made of taffety, satin, damask, or gold or other brocade. The Chinese satin has at one end the name of its loom in red thread; and imitation satins and sateens have similar names at the same end; and this end is always exposed to view when the obi is worn. When sewn, the woman’s obi is padded like men’s.
The hakama is a sort of loose trousers. Either leg is made by joining along the nape five pieces of cloth about a yard long, four of which are of the full width of the cloth and the fifth of half that width. The skirt is sewn by turning in the edge three times to stiffen it. The two legs are joined in such a manner that the half-width pieces form the inner side and the lowest point of the fork is about twenty-two inches from the skirt. In front a longitudinal plait is made an inch or so to the left so that its edge is in the middle; two more plaits are made to the left and two to the right, and a third on the latter leg under the middle fold. A similar but deeper plait is made behind on either leg, that on the right having its edge in the middle. These plaits are not stitched, but merely hot-pressed so that they can be opened at will; and as they are much deeper at the skirt than at the top, they give free play to the legs when walking and make the hakama appear to fit more closely than it would without them. The upper half of the hakama is open at either side, the fork at which is of about the same depth as that in the middle. The top of the front half which is about a foot wide, is sewn on to the middle of a band which is folded and turned in to the width of half an inch and is about eleven feet long, thus leaving a free end five feet long on either side of the front half. The back, the top of which is narrower than that in front, is surmounted with a piece of thin board on which the cloth is pasted with starch mucilage. This board has also a narrow band, two feet long, on each side. The hakama is lined or unlined, but never wadded.
The haori worn on a visit or on formal occasions is usually black and adorned with the family crest. The crest is found on three or five parts of the haori, one in the middle of the back over the seam, and one each on the back of the sleeve, and if there are five crests altogether, one each on the breast of the body piece between the band and the sleeve. The crest is of various forms and is about an inch from end to end. It is invariably white; the white cloth is specially dyed for the purpose so that the crest is the only portion left undyed; but sometimes ready-dyed cloths with white disks for the crests are bought, when the crests have to be drawn on them, or if they have no such disks, the crests are sewn on.
Haori for common wear have no crests and are plain, twilled, or striped and of sombre hues, though not necessarily black. Those for home wear are often much longer than ordinary haori and are thickly wadded with cotton. They are also without crests.
The obi, or sash, is about four inches wide and varies in length from twelve feet and a half to fourteen. It is usually of the same material on both sides and can be worn either side out. It is stitched along one edge and stiffened with a padding. This is the regular sash, commonly called the square obi; but when we are at home, go out for a walk, or visit an intimate friend, we prefer another kind of sash, which is a piece of white crêpe, about ten feet long and varying in width from a foot and a quarter to two feet, and stitched at the ends to prevent their fraying. It is much more comfortable than the other.
We now pass on to the making of the male unlined kimono, as naturally it is of the simplest form. In the first place, the length of a kimono varies with the size of the wearer; it is not only his height, but his condition as well, that has to be taken into consideration, for broad shoulders, a thick chest, and rounded hips require more cloth, longitudinally and laterally, than a body of the same height but with less flesh. The usual length is about four feet six inches for the average Japanese whose height is five feet three or four inches. The two body pieces are first placed side by side and sewn together half the length, the edge sewn in being about half an inch; and then at the end of the seam the pieces are cut two inches and a half and folded down at that width all along to the free ends, so that when they are spread out, there is a channel five inches wide along half their length. They are then folded in two so that the free halves are exactly over the sewn halves. The outer edges are then sewn from the end up to a point a foot and five inches below the fold. The sewn halves form the hind part and the free halves the front of the kimono. Next, the pieces for the gores are sewn on from the end along the free edges of the body pieces. The skirt is stitched, and the kimono, which is now an inch or so less than five feet, is tucked in to the required length at the hips where the tucking would be concealed under the obi, or sash.
As the second meal of the day is taken at noon and the last at sundown, it is not unusual, especially in summer, to have something at three or four o’clock. When there are artisans or labourers at work in the house, they are always given tea with some food about that hour; and if there is a visitor, a lady or a friend of the family, its women folk generally manage to have this bever. It may be no more than confectionery; but the most common food taken on such an occasion is sushi, which is a lump of rice which has been pressed with the hand into a roundish form with a slight mixture of vinegar and covered on the top with a slice of fish or lobster, or a strip of fried egg, or rolled in a piece of laver. As the lumps are small, being seldom more than two or three inches long, several of them are set before each person. The favourite fish for the purpose is the tunny, though others are also largely used. Another common dish for the bever is the soba, which is a sort of macaroni made of buckwheat; in its simplest form it is brought on a small bamboo screen laid on a wooden stand; it is dipped, before eating, in an infusion of bonito shavings flavoured with a little soy and mirin, to which small bits of onion and Cayenne pepper have been added. The macaroni is also boiled with fried lobsters, fowl, or eggs and served in bowls. Wheaten macaroni is also dressed in the same manner; it is much thicker than that of buckwheat.
Japan is especially rich in fish, as is to be expected from her extensive coast-line and great length from north to south. There are said to be about six hundred varieties of fish in the waters surrounding the country. Of these the one which is held in highest esteem is the tai, a species of the sea-bream (pagrus cardinalis). It is served in various ways; indeed, so numerous are these ways that there is extant an old Japanese book entitled “The Hundred Excellent Methods of dressing the Tai.” It may be boiled, roasted, basted, salted, or taken raw.
Beside the sink are an earthen jar to hold water for washing and a wooden pail for drinking water, but there is really no difference in the quality of the liquid in the two receptacles as it has in either case been drawn from the well. The wells are either private or public; in the latter case, they are used by the whole neighbourhood, a small tax being levied for their maintenance, and are the favourite resorts for the exchange of scandals. As these wells have all wooden sides and a square wooden flooring where washing is done, they present a far from cleanly appearance, and the water is as often as not contaminated, especially in the crowded quarters of the city. The Tokyo municipality undertook some years ago to supply pure water, and as water-pipes have been laid throughout the city, the wells are rapidly disappearing in Tokyo.
Single burglars usually come in by the skylight, closed at night by a small sliding-door, which does duty as chimney in the kitchen, or crawl under the floor which is some two feet from the ground, by tearing away the boarding under the verandah and come up by carefully removing the loose plank of the floor, under which fuel is kept in the kitchen. If the burglars are in a gang, they naturally come in more boldly than these kitchen sneaks. Once inside, the thief has the run of the house as all the rooms communicate by sliding-doors and are never locked, and the whole household is at his mercy. Since, then, houses are so easy of entry, it might be supposed that burglaries are very frequent in Tokyo; that such is not the case is probably due to the somewhat primitive methods pursued by these gentry and to the effective detective system of the police authorities.
Let us next turn to the kitchen and see how it is arranged. The kitchen varies very much in size; but the commonest range from six to sixteen square yards, that is, it would, if it were matted, hold from three to eight mats. But the floor is usually entirely boarded, though in a large kitchen a mat or two are laid for the servants to sit on. There is a space of ground at the entrance for leaving clogs in, and another on which the sink is set. The most prominent feature of the kitchen is the hearth for cooking rice. It is made of a shallow wooden box, on which a square plaster casing is built with a round hole at the top and an aperture at a side. On the hole the rice-pot is put; and the side-opening is used for feeding the hearth with small pellets which are kept in a cavity under the wooden box. The hearth is as often as not double, and over the other hole the soup-pot is set.
People pride themselves upon their quickness at meals, especially at breakfast, as it implies that they have no time to dawdle over their food, which is taken solely to ward off hunger and maintain their health and strength. But it must be admitted that indigestion not unfrequently follows these hurried meals, to which children are early taught to habituate themselves by parental instruction and by a proverb which puts quickness at meals as an accomplishment on a level with swiftness of foot. When the breakfast is over, the trays, plates, and other utensils are taken back into the kitchen, washed, and put away until they are needed for the next meal. The wooden tub of rice is put into a straw casing in winter to prevent its getting cold and hard and on a stand in a cool, breezy place in summer to keep it from sweating.
Chopsticks may appear at first hard to manage; but their manipulation is not really difficult when one comes to see the way in which they should be handled. They are held near the upper or thicker end in the right hand. One chopstick is laid between the thumb and the forefinger and on the first joint of the ring finger which is slightly bent, and held in position by the basal phalanx of the thumb; this chopstick is almost stationary. The other is laid near the third joint of the forefinger and between the tips of that and the middle finger which are kept together, and is held down by the tip of the thumb; it is, in short, held somewhat like a pen, only the pressure of the thumb is much lighter, for if it were heavy, the force put into it as the chopstick is moved would relax the pressure on the other stick and cause it to drop. The tip of the thumb serves, therefore, only as a loose fulcrum for moving the stick with tips of the fore and middle fingers, while the upper half resting on the last joint of the forefinger is allowed free play. The most difficult part is the use of the thumb; beginners press the stationary chopstick too hard and make the tip of the thumb so stiff that the other chopstick cannot be freely moved. It is quite easy, when one gets used to the thing, even to move the stationary chopstick a little at the same time as the other. The tips of the chopsticks must always meet. In the hand of a skilled user a needle may be picked up with them; but it is quite enough for ordinary purposes if we can pick a fish or take up a grain of boiled rice.
The breakfast is, then, very simple. Sometimes the family take their meals together at a large low table which is set before them at each repast; but often a small tray, about a foot square and standing six inches or more high, is placed before each member. In the left corner of the tray near the person before whom it is set, is a small china bowl of rice, while on the right is a wooden bowl of miso-soup, A tiny plate of pickled vegetables occupies the middle or the farther left corner, while any extra plate would fill the remaining corner. This plate also holds something very simple, such as plums preserved in red perilla leaves, boiled kidney bean, pickled scallions, minute fish or shrimps boiled down dry in soy sauce, a pat of baked miso, or shavings of dried bonito boiled in a mixture of soy and mirin.
The chopsticks are laid between the rim of the tray and the bowls of rice and soup. They vary in length, those for women being shorter than those for men but longer than children’s; their length may, however, be put at between eight and ten inches.
Rice is the staple food of the Japanese; and no other food-stuff stands so high in popular esteem, or has a tutelary deity of its own. This rice-god has more shrines than any other deity, for he is worshipped everywhere, in town and village, and often a small shrine, no bigger than a hut, peeps amid a lonely cluster of trees surrounded on all sides by rice-paddies, its latticed door covered from top to bottom with the ex-votos of the simple peasant folk.
Sometimes a small square hearth is cut in the sitting-room or some other convenient room; and in cold season a wooden frame supported by four pillars is put over the hearth and covered with a large quilt. Live charcoal is put into the hearth and the family sit around it with their knees under the quilt or lie down with their feet stretched out to the hearth. At other seasons the wooden frame is removed and a small mat of the same size as the hearth is put over it. As the hearth cannot be moved about, most people prefer a portable foot-warmer, which is usually a square wooden box with openings at the top and sides; one of the sides slides open and through it an earthen pan of live charcoal is placed inside. A quilt is laid over it as in the case of the hearth. Another, made specially for putting in bed, is of earthenware with a rounded top, which takes some time to heat. As the ordinary cut charcoal is consumed too quickly, balls of charcoal dust are used in these foot-warmers.
Articles of clothing are put into chests of drawers or wicker-trunks. Chests of drawers are commonly made in halves with two drawers each, put one upon the other and fastened by iron clamps. This is to facilitate their removal, a provision which is of importance where fires are frequent. The wicker-trunk has a lid which is as deep as the trunk itself and encloses it, and thus any amount of clothing may be put into it up to the joint depth of the two. The trunks are hidden away in the closets; but the chests of drawers, if they cannot be put into a closet without inconvenience as they are over three feet wide, are set in a corner or against a wall. Indeed, they are purposely put sometimes where they can be seen and become part of the furniture of the room. In large houses where there are godowns, or fireproof plaster storehouses, the chests are put in them, and only such as contain articles of daily wear for the season are kept in the house itself.
The sitting-room has little furniture. An indispensable article in it is the brazier, usually oblong, with a set of three small drawers one under another at the side and two others side by side under the copper tray filled with ashes, on which charcoal is burnt inside an iron or clay trivet. On this trivet is set a kettle of iron or copper. The iron kettle is made of thick cast-iron and kept on the trivet so as always to have hot water ready for tea-making: and the copper kettle is used when we wish to boil water quickly. Beside the brazier is a small shelf or cabinet for tea-things. Behind the brazier is a cushion where the wife sits; this is her usual post. There is also a cushion on the other side or the brazier, where the husband or other members of the house may sit.
When a visitor calls, even the cushion is brought from the anteroom for him to sit on, and then a small cup of tea set before him and a brazier if it is cold and if warm, a tabako-bon. The cushion is round or square; that for summer is made of matting, hide, or a thin wadding of cotton in a cover of hempen cloth, while for winter use the wadding is much thicker and the cover is silk or cotton. It is about sixteen inches at the side if square. The brazier is of various shapes and makes. It may be a wooden box with an earthenware case inside or with a false bottom of copper, or it may be a glazed earthenware case alone; the wooden box may be plain with two holes for handles, or it may be elaborately latticed; and sometimes a brazier is made of the trunk of a tree cut with the outside rough-hewn or only barked and highly polished. The tabako-bon, or “tobacco-tray,” is a small open square or oblong box of sandal-wood or other hard wood, which holds a small china or metal pan, three-quarters full of ashes, with a few tiny pieces of live charcoal in the middle to light a pipe with, and beside it a small bamboo tube with a knot at the bottom for receiving tobacco-ashes.
The parlour, the principal room of the house, is always kept tidy. It has an alcove, six feet long by three deep, consisting of a dais, a few inches high, of plain hard wood, which will bear polishing, though a thin matting is sometimes put over it. Not unfrequently, another piece of wood, generally square, forms the outer edge so that the thickness of the floor of the alcove can be concealed. The dais has a special ceiling of its own, or a bit of a wall, of plaster or wood, coming down over it a foot or more from the ceiling. On the dais is set a vase of porcelain or metal, bottle-shaped or flat, in which branches of a tree or shrubs in flower are put in, and on the wall is hung a kakemono, or scroll of picture or writing. These two constitute the main ornament of the room. New flowers are put in every few days and the kakemono is changed from time to time. This is the peculiarity of the kakemono as a piece of house decoration. We do not exhibit all our treasures in kakemono at the same time, but hang them one, two, or three at a time according to the size of the alcove and the kakemono themselves, so that the visitor calling at different seasons may delight his eyes with the sight of fresh pictures or writings each time he calls.
The smallest houses are those in the slums which have only three yards’ frontage and a depth of four yards. The entrance, the space for kitchen utensils and the sink, and perhaps a closet or cupboard would leave room for little more than three mats, on which the whole family live; but as children spend all their playtime outside and come in only for meals, it is at night that the house is crowded, and even then as they sleep higgledy-piggledy, a couple or so of children do not inconvenience their parents to any appreciable extent. A two-roomed house is common enough and is not confined to the slums. A childless old couple, when the wife has to do the household work, find such a house large enough for them. Artisans also live in them. Three-roomed houses, too, are very common. Houses built in blocks are oftenest of this size. They are made up of the porch, the sitting-room, and the parlour or drawing-room. These three rooms are the essential portions of a house; and larger houses merely add to them. A visitor calls at the porch, the paper sliding-door is opened, he is invited to come in, he leaves his hat and greatcoat in the porch, and enters the parlour.
A Japanese room is measured, not by feet and inches, but by the number of mats it contains. A mat consists of a straw mattress, about an inch and a half thick, with a covering of fine matting which is sewn on at the edges of the mattress either by itself or with a border, usually dark-blue and an inch wide, of coarse hempen cloth. It is six feet long by three wide; this measure is not always exact, but may vary by an inch or more in either direction. When a house is newly built, the mat-maker comes to make mats to fit the rooms in it. But in spite of the variation, the size of a room is always given in the number of mats it holds, so that we never know the exact dimensions of a room. The smallest room has two mats, that is, is about six feet square; the next smallest is three-matted, or three yards by two. Four-matted rooms are sometimes to be found; but such rooms are unshapely, being four yards long by two wide. A room with four and a half mats is three yards square and has the half mat, which is a yard square, in the centre. The next size is six-matted, or four yards by three and is followed by the eight-matted, or four yards square.
Convention also makes itself felt in the laying out of a Japanese garden, though a greater latitude is allowed to the gardener’s ingenuity. Still the principles remain unchanged. In a large garden we usually find a pond, dry if no water is available, and surrounded with rocks of various shapes, and a knoll or two behind the pond with pines, maples, and other trees, and stone lanterns here and there. A few flowering shrubs are in sight, but these are planted for a season; thus, peonies, morning-glories, and chrysanthemums are removed as soon as they fade, while corchoruses and hydrangeas are cut down leaving only the roots behind. The chief features of the garden are the evergreens like the pine, trees whose leaves crimson in autumn like the maple, and above all, the flowering trees like the plum, the cherry, and the peach. A landscape garden presents, when the trees are not in blossom, a somewhat severe or solemn aspect; we do not expect from it the gaiety which beds of flowers impart. Indeed, many European flowering plants have of late been introduced, such as anemones, cosmoses, geraniums, nasturtiums, tulips, crocuses, and begonias; but they still look out of place in a Japanese garden. Roses are sometimes planted, but they are almost scentless. The humidity of the climate appears to militate against the perfume of flowers.
In Japan there was neither an architect nor a builder as a distinct calling. Even now, ordinary dwelling-houses are not built by either of them; it is the carpenter who has charge of their construction. The carpenter’s is a dignified craft; he is called in Japanese the “great artificer,” and stands at the head of all artisans. In the building of a house, a master carpenter is called in; he prepares the plans, and if they are approved, he sets to work with his apprentices and journeymen.
here is, however, still another element of insecurity in wooden houses. House-breaking is by no means difficult in Tokyo. In the daytime the front entrance is generally closed with sliding-doors which can, however, be gently opened and entered without attracting notice unless some one happens to be in an adjoining room. The kitchen door is usually kept open, and it is quite easy to sneak into the kitchen and make away with food or utensils. Tradesmen, rag-merchants, and hawkers come into the kitchen to ask for orders, to buy waste-paper or broken crockery, or to sell their wares, so that there is nothing unusual in finding strange men on the premises. Sometimes these hawkers are really burglars in disguise come to reconnoitre the house with a view to paying it a nocturnal visit. At night, of course, the house is shut and the doors are bolted or fastened with a ring and staple, but very seldom locked or chained.
Gates, too, vary in size and form. The most modest are no more than low wicker-gates which can be jumped over and offer no bar to intrusion. Others are of the same make, but stand higher so that the interior can be seen only through cracks. But the most common consist of two square posts with hinged doors which meet in the middle and are kept shut by a cross-bar passing through clamps on them. These gates may be of the cheapest kind of wood, such as cryptomeria, or may be massive and of hard wood. Another common kind has a roof over it with a single door which is hinged on one post and fastened on to the other and provided with a small sliding-door for daily use. The larger pair gates have also small side-doors for use at night when they are themselves shut.
Though many private houses in the business quarters have no gates, those of any pretensions in the residential districts where land is naturally cheaper, are mostly provided with them. It is not usual for professionals in humbler walks of life and for artisans to live within a gate; but officials and others of some social standing prefer to have one to their houses. Sometimes there is a single gate to a large compound with a number of small houses in it; in such a case the gate-post is studded with name-plates. Gates, too, vary in size and form. The most modest are no more than low wicker-gates which can be jumped over and offer no bar to intrusion.
The samisen is early taught. Girls of seven or thereabouts are made to learn it while their fingers are still very pliant. But the lessons are hard to learn as the tunes have to be committed to memory, for there are no scores to refer to. There is no popular method of notation; the marks which are sometimes to be seen in song-books are too few to be of use to any but skilled musicians.
The lighter samisen does not require much exertion to play; women can thrum it for hours on end; and they make slight indentations on the nails of the middle and ring fingers of the left hand for catching the strings when those fingers are moved up and down the neck to stop them. But with the heavier kind the indentations are deeper, and the constant friction of the strings hardens the finger-tips and often breaks the nails, while still worse is the condition of the right hand which holds the plectrum.
The plectrum, the striking end of which is flat as in the one for the slender-necked samisen, is heavily leaded and weighs from twelve ounces to a pound when used by professionals; and the handle, which is square, is held between the ring and little fingers for leverage and worked with the thumb and the forefinger.
The only Japanese musical instrument taught in girls’ schools is the koto, a kind of zither. As the koto is the most adaptable of all Japanese instruments to western music, it is more readily learnt than others at schools where the piano and the violin are also taught. There are several kinds of koto, the number of strings on them ranging from one to twenty-five; but the one exclusively used at schools has thirteen strings It has a hollow convex body,six feet five inches long and ten inches wide at one end and half an inch narrower at the other, and stands on legs three and a half inches high. The strings are tied at equal distances at the head or broader end and gathered at the other; they are supported each by its own bridge, the position of which varies with the pitch required. Small ivory nails are put on the tips of the fingers for striking the strings.
When she goes out on an informal visit, the Japanese woman usually puts on a crested haori; but if it is only for a walk, the haori may be plain. The kimono may on such occasions be of any pattern, only that when she makes a call, the band must be of the same cloth as the kimono.
There are no streets in Tokyo which are known as fashionable afternoon resorts, because the shops are so constructed that one cannot stop before them without being accosted by the squatting salesmen.
Only in a few main streets are there regular rows of shops with show-windows against which one could press one’s nose to look at the wares exhibited or peer beyond at the shop-girls at the counter; but then business is not done in Japan over the counter, nor do shop-girls hide their charms behind a window, for the shops are open to the street and the show-girls, or “signboard-girls” as we call them, squat at the edge visible to all passers-by and are as distinctive a feature of the shop as the signboard itself.
The goods are exhibited on the floor in glass cases or in piles, a custom which is not commendable when pastry or confectionery is on sale, for standing as it does on the south-eastern end of the great plain of Musashino, Tokyo is a very windy city, and the thick clouds of fine dust raised by the wind on fair days cover every article exposed and penetrate through the joints of glass cases, so that in Tokyo a man who is fond of confectionery must expect to eat his pound of dirt not within a lifetime, but often in a few weeks.
If one stops for a moment to look at the wares, he is bidden at once to sit on the floor and examine other articles which would be brought out for his inspection, whereupon he has either to accept the invitation or move on.
One seldom cares therefore to loiter in the street. The only shops that are often crowded by loiterers are the booksellers’ and cheap-picture dealers’.
A Street in Yedo (From a picture by Settan, 1783–1843)
People go out at this time to look at the Seven Herbs of Autumn, the principal of which is the lespedeza bicolor with its pretty little red flowers;
the other six are the miscanthus sinensis, pueraria thunbergiana, dianthus superbus, patrinia seabiosœfolia, cupatorium chinense, and platycodon grandiflorum.
The autumnal equinox is celebrated in the same manner as the vernal.
The instrument called Sho is blown with the mouth, and corresponds to the Chinese Cheng or Mouth Organ. The pipes are made of wood, with reed mouthpieces, and the notes are made by stopping the holes with the fingers. In some ways the construction is like that of a harmonium, but it is much more troublesome to play, and the performer, having to use his own breath to make the sounds, cannot sing at the same time. Unlike a harmonium also, it is difficult to keep in tune, and Miss Bird, a well-known traveller, tells of a concert at which the performer was obliged to be continually warming his instrument at a brazier of coals placed near. Some years ago a Japanese Commission was appointed to consider which of the national instruments were most suitable for use in schools; it rejected the Sho because its manufacture was troublesome and its tuning even worse.
Japanese Girl with Baby
Ainu clothing is generally made of elm bark, and that worn by men and women is much alike. The bark is stripped from the tree in spring, when it is full of sap. It is soaked in water to separate the inner and outer bark. Fibres are secured from the inner bark, which can be woven like thread into cloth. The men’s garments of this fibre cloth are adorned with patterns embroidered with colored threads; those of women are generally plain.
The women tattoo, beginning in girlhood. The patterns are cut in the flesh with a razor and soot is rubbed into the lines; to render the 96color permanent, water in which ash-tree bark has been steeped is rubbed over the part tattooed. The tattooing first done is at the centre of the upper lip; later the lower lip. The marks are added to from time to time until they cover the upper lip and reach from ear to ear. Such women appear to have a great moustache. After marriage a woman’s forehead may be tattooed, also patterns may be made up the backs of the hands and on the arms, and rings may be tattooed around her fingers.
Korean Lion represents a game that children in Japan are very fond of playing. They are probably trying to act as well as the maskers did whom they saw on New Year's Day, just as our children try and imitate things they see in a pantomime. The masker goes from house to house accompanied by one or two men who play on cymbals, flute, and drum.
Street Tumblers playing Kangura in Tokio
The man who sells the gold-fish, with fan-like tails as long as their bodies, has also turtles. These boys at last settle that of all the pretty things they have seen they would best like to spend their money on a young turtle. For their pet rabbits and mice died, but turtles, they say, are painted on fans and screens and boxes because turtles live for ten thousand years.
The boys in the picture must be playing with the puppies of a large dog, to judge from their big paws. There are a great many large dogs in the streets of Tokio; some are very tame, and will let children comb their hair and ornament them and pull them about. These dogs do not wear collars, as do our pet dogs, but a wooden label bearing the owner's name is hung round their necks.
The masker goes from house to house accompanied by one or two men who play on cymbals, flute, and drum. He steps into a shop where the people of the house and their friends sit drinking tea, and passers-by pause in front of the open shop to see the fun. He takes a mask, like the one in the picture, off his back and puts it over his head. This boar's-head mask is painted scarlet and black, and gilt. It has a green cloth hanging down behind, in order that you may not perceive where the mask ends and the mans body begins. Then the masker imitates an animal. He goes up to a young lady and lays down his ugly head beside her to be patted, as "Beast" may have coaxed "Beauty" in the fairy tale. He grunts, and rolls, and scratches himself. The children almost forget he is a man, and roar with laughter at the funny animal.
The tops the lads are playing with in this picture are not quite the same shape as our tops, but they spin very well. Some men are so clever at making spinning-tops run along strings, throwing them up into the air and catching them with a tobacco-pipe, that they earn a living by exhibiting their skill.
Some of the tops are formed of short pieces of bamboo with a wooden peg put through them, and the hole cut in the side makes them have a fine hum as the air rushes in whilst they spin.
Yoshi-san and his Grandmother go to visit the great temple at Shiba. They walk up its steep stairs, and arrive at the lacquered threshold. Here they place aside their wooden clogs, throw a few coins into a huge box standing on the floor. It is covered with a wooden grating so constructed as to prevent pilfering hands afterward removing the coin. Then they pull a thick rope attached to a big brass bell like an exaggerated sheep-bell, hanging from the ceiling, but which gives forth but a feeble, tinkling sound. To insure the god's attention, this is supplemented with three distinct claps of the hands, which are afterward clasped in prayer for a short interval; two more claps mark the conclusion. Then, resuming their clogs, they clatter down the steep, copper-bound temple steps into the grounds. Here are stalls innumerable of toys, fruit, fish-cakes, birds, tobacco-pipes, ironmongery, and rice, and scattered amidst the stalls are tea-houses, peep-shows, and other places of amusement. Of these the greatest attraction is a newly-opened chrysanthemum show.
In the picture are two boys who are fond of music. One has a flute, which is made of bamboo wood. These flutes are easy to make, as bamboo wood grows hollow, with cross divisions at intervals. If you cut a piece with a division forming one end you need only make the outside holes in order to finish your flute.
The child sitting down has a drum. His drum and the paper lanterns hanging up have painted on them an ornament which is also the crest of the house of "Arima." If these boys belong to this family they wear the same crest embroidered on the centre of the backs of their coats.
The two little boys are playing at snowball. These lads enjoy a fall of snow, and still better than snowballing they like making a snowman with a charcoal ball for each eye and a streak of charcoal for his mouth. The shoes which they usually wear out of doors are better for a snowy day than your boots, for their feet do not sink into the snow, unless it is deep. These shoes are of wood, and make a boy seem to be about three inches taller than he really is. The shoe, you see, has not laces or buttons, but is kept on the foot by that thong which passes between the first and second toe. The thong is made of grass, and covered with strong paper, or with white or colored calico. The boy in the check dress wears his shoes without socks, but you see the other boy has socks on.
After the heavy autumn rains have filled the roads with big puddles, it is great fun, this boy thinks, to walk about on stilts. His stilts are of bamboo wood, and he calls them "Heron-legs," after the long-legged snowy herons that strut about in the wet rice-fields. When he struts about on them, he wedges the upright between his big and second toe as if the stilt was like his shoes. He has a good view of his two friends who are wrestling, and probably making hideous noises like wild animals as they try to throw one another.