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Title: The Foundations of Japan
       Notes Made During Journeys Of 6,000 Miles In The Rural Districts As
       A Basis For A Sounder Knowledge Of The Japanese People

Author: J.W. Robertson Scott

Release Date: January 6, 2005 [EBook #14613]
[Most recently updated: July 30, 2020]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


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(Nippon Eikoku oyobi Sekai.)
THE IGNOBLE WARRIOR. (Koredemo Bushika.)
THE NEW EAST. (Tokyo.) Vols. I, II & III. (Edited.)


(With an Introduction by the late LORD REAY.)
A Study in Rural Therapeutics.
THE CASE FOR THE GOAT. (With Introductions by the

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"In good sooth, my masters, this is no door, yet it is a little window"




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A concern arose to spend some time with them that I might feel and understand their life and the spirit they live in, if haply I might receive some instruction from them, or they might be in any degree helped forward by my following the leadings of truth among them when the troubles of War were increasing and when travelling was more difficult than usual. I looked upon it as a more favourable opportunity to season my mind and to bring me into a nearer sympathy with them.—Journal of John Woolman, 1762.

I determined to commence my researches at some distance from the capital, being well aware of the erroneous ideas I must form should I judge from what I heard in a city so much subjected to foreign intercourse.—Borrow.



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The hope with which these pages are written is that their readers may be enabled to see a little deeper into that problem of the relation of the West with Asia which the historian of the future will unquestionably regard as the greatest of our time.

I lived for four and a half years in Japan. This book is a record of many of the things I saw and experienced and some of the things I was told chiefly during rural journeys—more than half the population is rural—extending to twice the distance across the United States or nearly eight times the distance between the English Channel and John o' Groats.

These pages deal with a field of investigation in Japan which no other volume has explored. Because they fall short of what was planned, and in happier conditions might have been accomplished, a word or two may be pardoned on the beginnings of the book—one of the many literary victims of the War.

The first book I ever bought was about the Far East. The first leading article of my journalistic apprenticeship in London was about Korea. When I left daily journalism, at the time of the siege of the Peking Legations, the first thing I published was a book pleading for a better understanding of the Chinese.

After that, as a cottager in Essex, I wrote—above a nom de guerre which is better known than I am—a dozen volumes on rural subjects. During a visit to the late David Lubin in Rome I noticed in the big library of his International Institute of Agriculture that there was no took in English dealing with the agriculture of Japan. [1] Page viii Just before the War the thoughts of forward-looking students of our home affairs ran strongly on the relation of intelligently managed small holdings to skilled capitalist farming. [2] During the early "business as usual" period of the War, when no tasks had been found for men over military age—Mr. Wells's protest will be remembered—it occurred to me that it might be serviceable if I could have ready, for the period of rural reconstruction and readjustment of our international ideas when the War was over, two books of a new sort. One should be a stimulating volume on Japan, based on a study, more sociological than technically agricultural, of its remarkable small-farming system and rural life, and the other a complementary American volume based on a study of the enterprising large farming of the Middle West. I proposed to write the second book in co-operation with a veteran rural reformer who had often invited me to visit him in Iowa, the father of the present American Minister of Agriculture. Early in 1915 I set out for Japan to enter upon the first part of my task. Mr. Wallace died while I was still in Japan, and the Middle West book remains to be undertaken by someone else.

The Land of the Rising Sun has been fortunate in the quality of the books which many foreigners have written. [3] But for every work at the standard of what might be called the seven "M's"—Mitford, Murdoch, Munro, Morse, Maclaren, "Murray" and McGovern—there are many volumes of fervid "pro-Japanese" or determined "anti-Japanese" romanticism. The pictures of Japan which such easily perused books present are incredible to Page ix readers of ordinary insight or historical imagination, but they have had their part in forming public opinion.

The basic fact about Japan is that it is an agricultural country. Japanese æstheticism, the victorious Japanese army and navy, the smoking chimneys of Osaka, the pushing mercantile marine, the Parliamentary and administrative developments of Tokyo and a costly worldwide diplomacy are all borne on the bent backs of Ohyakusho no Fufu,[4] the Japanese peasant farmer and his wife. The depositories of the authentic Yamato damashii (Japanese spirit) are to be found knee deep in the sludge of their paddy fields.

One book about Japan may well be written in the perspective of the village and the hamlet. There it is possible to find the way beneath that surface of things visible to the tourist. There it is possible to discover the foundations of the Japan which is intent on cutting such a figure in the East and in the West. There it is possible to learn not only what Japan is but what she may have it in her to become.

A rural sociologist is not primarily interested in the technique of agriculture. He conceives agriculture and country life as Arthur Young and Cobbett did, as a means to an end, the sound basis, the touchstone of a healthy State. I was helped in Japan not only by my close acquaintance with the rural civilisation of two pre-eminently small-holdings countries, Holland and Denmark, but by what I knew to be precious in the rural life of my own land.

An interest in rural problems cannot be simulated. As I journeyed about the country the sincerity of my purpose—there are few words in commoner use in the Far East than sincerity—was recognised and appreciated. I enjoyed conversations in which customary barriers had been broken down and those who spoke said what they felt. We inevitably discussed not only agricultural economy but life, religion and morality, and the way Japan was taking.

Page x I spoke and slept in Buddhist temples. I was received at Shinto shrines. I was led before domestic altars. I was taken to gatherings of native Christians. I planted commemorative trees until more persimmons than I can ever gather await my return to Japan. I wrote so many gaku[5] for school walls and for my kind hosts that my memory was drained of maxims. I attended guileless horse-races. I was present at agricultural shows, fairs, wrestling matches, Bon dances, village and county councils and the strangest of public meetings. I talked not only with farmers and their families but with all kinds of landlords, with schoolmasters and schoolmistresses, policemen, shopkeepers, priests, co-operative society enthusiasts, village officials, county officials, prefectural officials, a score of Governors and an Ainu chief. I sought wisdom from Ministers of State and nobles of every rank, from the Prince who is the heir of the last of the Shoguns down to democratic Barons who prefer to be called "Mr.", I chatted with farmers' wives and daughters, I interrogated landladies and mill girls, and I paid a memorable visit to a Buddhist nunnery. I walked, talked, rode, ate and bathed with common folk and with dignitaries. I discussed the situation of Japan with the new countryman in college agricultural laboratories and classrooms, and, in a remote region, beheld what is rare nowadays, the old countryman kneeling before his cottage with his head to the ground as the stranger rode past.

I made notes as I traversed paddy-field paths, by mountain ways, in colleges, schools, houses and inns. It can only have been when crossing water on men's backs that I did not make notes. I jotted things down as I walked, as I sat, as I knelt, as I lay on my futon, as I journeyed in kuruma, on horseback, in jolting basha, in automobiles, in shaking cross-country trains and in boats; in brilliant sunshine and sweltering heat, in the shade and in dust; in the early morning with chilled fingers or more or less furtively as I crouched at protracted private or official repasts, or late at night endeavoured to gather crumbs Page xi from the wearing conversation of polite callers who, though set on helping me, did not always find it easy to understand the kind of information of which I was in search. One of these asked my travelling companion sotto voce, "Is he after metal mines?"

I went on my own trips and on routes planned out for me by agricultural and social zealots, and from time to time I returned physically and mentally fatigued to my little Japanese house near Tokyo to rest and to write out from my memoranda, to seek data for new districts from the obliging Department of Agriculture and the Agricultural College people at the Imperial University, and to eat and drink with rural authorities who chanced to be visiting the capital from distant prefectures. I had many setbacks. I was misinformed, now and then intentionally and often unintentionally. There were many days which were not only harassing but seemingly wasted. I often despaired of achieving results worth all the exertion I was making and the money I was spending. I must have worn to shreds the patience of some English-speaking Japanese friends, but they never owned defeat. In the end I found that I made progress.

But so did the War, which when I set out from London few believed would last long. I was troubled by continually meeting with incredible ignorance about the War, the issues at stake and the certain end. The Japanese who talked with me were 10,000 miles away from the fighting. Japan had nothing to lose, everything indeed to gain from the abatement of Europe's activities in Asia. Not only Japanese soldiers but many administrative, educational, agricultural and commercial experts had been to school in Germany. There was much in common in the German and Japanese mentalities, much alike in Central European and Farthest East regard for the army and for order, devotion to regulations, habit of subordination and deification of the State. Eventually the well-known anti-Ally campaign broke out in Tokyo, a thing which has never been sufficiently explained. Soon I was pressed to turn aside from my studies and attempt the more immediately useful task: to explain why Western nations, whose manifest interests were Page xii peace, were resolutely squandering their blood and wealth in War.

If what I published had some measure of success, [6] it was because by this time, unlike some of the critics who sharply upbraided Japan and made impossible proposals in impossible terms, I had learnt something at first hand about the Japanese, because I wrote of the difficulties as well as the faults of Japan, and because I was now a little known as her well-wisher. One of the two books I published was translated as a labour of love, as I shall never forget, by a Japanese public man whose leisure was so scant that he sat up two nights to get his manuscript finished. Before long I had involved myself in the arduous task of founding and of editing for two years a monthly review, The New East (Shin Toyo), [7] with for motto a sentence of my own which expresses what wisdom I have gained about the Orient, The real barrier between East and West is a distrust of each other's morality and the illusion that the distrust is on one side only.

The excuse for so personal a digression is that, when this period of literary and journalistic stress began, my rural notebooks and MSS., memoranda of conversations on social problems and a heterogeneous collection of reports and documents had to be stowed into boxes. There they stayed until a year ago. The entries in a dozen of my little hurriedly filled notebooks have lost their flavour or are unintelligible: I have put them all aside. Neither is it possible to utilise notes which were submarined or lost in over-worked post offices. This book—I have had to leave out Kyushu entirely—is not the work I planned, a complete account of rural life and industry in every part of Japan, with an excursus on Korea and Formosa, and certain general conclusions: a standard work, no doubt, in, I am afraid, two volumes, and forgetful at times of the warning that "to spend too much Time in Studies is Sloth."

What I had transcribed before leaving Japan I have now Page xiii been able in the course of a leisured year in England to overhaul and to supplement by up-to-date statistics in an extensive Appendix. In the changed circumstances in which the book is completed I have also ruthlessly transferred to this Appendix all the technical matter in the text, so that nothing shall obstruct the way of the general reader. At some future date there may be by another hand a book about Japan in terms of soils, manures and crops. That is the book the War saved me from writing. In the present work I have the opportunity which so few authors have enjoyed of jettisoning all technics into an Appendix.

[Illustration: ]

"It is necessary," says a wise modern author, "to meditate over one's impressions at leisure, to start afresh again and again with a clearer vision of the essential facts." And a Japanese companion of my journeys writes, "Never can you be sorry that this book is coming late. This time of delay has been the best time; we have had enough Page xiv of first impressions." The justification for this volume is that, in spite of the difficulties attending the composition of it, it may be held to offer a picture of some aspects of modern Japan to be found nowhere else. Politics is not for these pages, nor, because there are so many charming books on æsthetic and scenic Japan, do I write on Art or about Fuji, Kyoto, Nara, Miyanoshita and Nikko. I went to Japan to see the countryman. The Japanese whom most of the world knows are townified, sometimes Americanised or Europeanised, and, as often as not, elaborately educated. They are frequently remarkable men. They stand for a great deal in modern Japan. But their untownified fellow-countrymen, with the training of tradition and experience, of rural schoolmasters and village elders, and, as frequently, of the carefully shielded army, are more than half of the nation.

What is their health of mind and body? By what social and moral principles and prejudices are they swayed? To what extent are they adequate to the demand that is made and is likely to be made upon them? In what respects are they the masters of their lives or are mastered? In what ways are they still open to Western influences? And in what directions are they now inclined to trust to "themselves alone"?

If the masters of the rural journal were sometimes mistaken in the observations they made from horseback, I cannot have escaped blundering in passing through more dimly lit scenes than they visited. "If there appears here and there any uncorrectness, I do not hold myself obliged to answer for what I could not perfectly govern."[8] But I have laboriously taken all the precautions I could and I have obeyed as far as possible a recent request that "visitors to the Far East should confine themselves to what they have seen with their own eyes." As Huxley wrote, "all that I have proposed to myself is to say, This and this have I learned."

I take pleasure in recalling that some years ago I was approached with a view to undertaking for the United States Government a socio-agricultural investigation in a Page xv foreign country. Reared as I have been in the whole faith of a citizen of the English-speaking world, I am glad to think that the present volume may be of some service to American readers. The United States is within ten days—Canada is within nine—of Japan against Great Britain's month by the Atlantic-C.P.R.-Pacific route and eight weeks by Suez. There are more American visitors than British to Japan. It was America that first opened Japan to the West, and the debt of Japan to American training and stimulus is immense. But British services to Japan have also been substantial. Great Britain was the first to welcome her within the circle of the Great Powers, and the Anglo-Japanese Alliance did more for Japan than some Japanese have been willing to admit. The problem of Japan is the problem of the whole English-speaking world. Rightly conceived, the interests of the British Empire and the United States in the Far East are one and indivisible.

The Japanese version of the title of this book (kindly suggested by Mr. Seichi Narusé) is Nihon no Shinzui, literally, "The Marrow" or "The Core of Japan." His Excellency the Japanese Ambassador, the beauty of whose calligraphy is well known, was so very kind as to allow me to requisition his clever brush for the script for the engraver; but it must be understood that Baron Hayashi has seen nothing of the volume but the cover.

I greatly regret that the present conditions of book production make it impossible to reproduce more than one in thirty of my photographs.

It is in no spirit of ingratitude to my hosts and many other kind people in Japan that I have taken the decision resolutely to strike out of the text all those names of places and persons which give such a forbidding air to a traveller's page. I have pleasure in acknowledging here the particular obligations I am under to Kunio Yanaghita, formerly Secretary of the Japanese House of Peers and a distinguished and disinterested student of rural conditions, Dr. Nitobe, assistant secretary of the League of Nations, and his wife, Professor Nasu, Imperial University, Mr. Yamasaki, Mr. M. Yanagi, Mr. Kanzō Uchimura, Mr. Page xvi Bernard Leach, Mr. M. Tajima, Mr. Ono and two young officials in Hokkaido, who each in turn found time to join me on my journeys and showed me innumerable kindnesses. It was a piece of good fortune that while these pages were in preparation Mr. Yanaghita, Professor Nasu and other fellow-travellers were in Europe and available for consultation. Professor Nasu unweariedly furnished painstaking answers to many questions, and was kind enough to read all of the book in proof; but he has no responsibility, of course, for the views which I express. I am also specially indebted to Dr. Kozai, President of the Imperial University, to Mr. Ito and other officials of the Ministry of Agriculture, to Mr. Tsurimi, one of the most understanding of travelled Japanese, to Mr. Iwanaga, formerly of the Imperial Railway Board, to Dr. Sato, President of Hokkaido University, and his obliging colleagues, to the Imperial Agricultural Society, to Professors Yahagi and Yokoi, and to Viscount Kano, Dr. Kuwada, Mr. I. Yoshida, Mr. K. Ohta, Mr. H. Saito, Mr. S. Hoshijima, and many provincial agricultural and sociological experts.

Portions of drafts for this book have appeared in the Daily Telegraph, World's Work, Manchester Guardian, New East, Asia, Japan Chronicle and Christian World. I am indebted to the World's Work and Asia for some additional illustrations from blocks made from my photographs, and to the New East for some sketches by Miss Elizabeth Keith.


[1] There is a small book by an able American soil specialist, the late Professor King, which describes through rose-tinted glasses the farming of Japan, and of China and Korea as well, on the basis of a flying trip to countries the population of which is thrice that of Great Britain and the United States together. The author of another book, published last year, delivers himself of this astonishing opinion: "The Japanese is no better fitted to direct his own agriculture than I am to steer a rudderless ship across the Atlantic."

[2] Vide Sir Daniel Hall's Pilgrimage of English Farming and articles of mine in the Nineteenth Century and Times, and my Land Problem.

[3] The Japanese have only lately, however, made some acknowledgment of their debt to Hearn, and in an eight-page bibliography of the best books about Japan in the Japan Year Book Murdoch's as yet unrivalled History is not even mentioned.

[4] Ohyakusho must not be confused with Oo-hyakusho or Oo-byakusho, which means a large farmer. O is a polite prefix; Oo or O means large.

[5] Horizontal wall writings.

[6] About 35,000 copies of my two bilingual books were circulated.

[7] With the backing of a London Committee composed of Lord Burnham, Sir G.W. Prothero, Mr. J. St. Loe Strachey and Mr. C.V. Sale.

[8] Tenison, 1684.



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The prices given in the text (but not in the footnotes and Appendix) were recorded before the War inflation began. The War was followed by a severe financial crisis. Professor Nasu wrote to me during the summer of 1921:

"You are very wise to leave the figures as they stood. It is useless to try to correct them, because they are still changing. The price of rice, which did not exceed 15 yen per koku when you were making your research work, exceeded 50 yen in 1919, and is now struggling to maintain the price of 25 yen. Taking at 100 the figures for the years 1915 or 1916—fortunately there is not much difference between these two years—the prices of six leading commodities reached in 1919 an average of about 250. After 1919 the prices of some commodities went still higher, but mostly they did not change very much; on the other hand, recently the prices of many commodities—among them rice and raw silk especially—have been coming down and this downward movement is gradually extending to all other commodities. From these considerations I deduce that the index number of general commodities may be safely taken as 200 when your book appears. The reader of your book has simply to double the figures given by you—that is the figures of 1915 and 1916—in order to get a rough estimate of present prices."

Where exact statements of area and yield are necessary, as in the study of the intense agriculture of Japan, local measures are preferable to our equivalents in awkward fractions. Further, the measures used in this book are easily remembered, and no serious study of Japanese agriculture on the spot is possible without remembering them. While, however, Japanese currency, weights and measures have been uniformly used, equivalents have been supplied at every place in the book where their omission might be reasonably considered to interfere with easy reading. The following tables are restricted to currency, weights and measures mentioned in the book.


Yen = roughly (at the time notes for the book were made) a florin or half a dollar = 100 sen.

Sen = a farthing or half cent = 10 rin.


Ri = roughly 2½ miles.

Shaku (roughly 1 ft.) = 11.93 in.

Ri are converted into miles by being multiplied by 2.44.


Ri (roughly 6 sq. miles) = 5.955 sq. miles.

Chō (sometimes written, Chōbu) (roughly 2½ acres) = 2.450 acres = 10 tan = 3,000 tsubo.

Page xxv Tan or Tambu (roughly ¼ acre) = 0.245 acres = 10 se = 300 bu.

Bu or Tsubo (roughly 4 sq. yds.) = 3.953 sq. yds.

An acre is about 4 tan 10 bu or 1,200 bu or tsubo (an urban measure). The size of rooms is reckoned by the number of mats, which are ordinarily 6 shaku in length and 3 shaku in breadth.


Koku (roughly 40 gals. or 5 bush.) = 39.703 gals, or 4.960 bush. = 10 tō. According to American measurements, there are 47.653 gals, (liquid) and 5.119 bush, (dry) in a koku. A koku of rice is 313½ lbs. (British).

A koku of imported rice is, however, 330½ lbs. The following koku must also be noted: ordinary barley, 231 lbs.; naked barley 301.1 lbs.; wheat 288.7 lbs.; proso millet, 247.9 lbs.; foxtail millet, 280.9 lbs.; barnyard millet, 165.2 lbs.; brickaheat, 247.9 lbs.; maize, 289.2 lbs.; soya beans, 286.5 lbs.; azuki (red) beans, 319.9 lbs.; horse beans, 266.6 lbs.; peas, 306.5 lbs.

Hyō (roughly 2 bush.) = 1.985 bush. = 4 tō = bale of rice.

(roughly 4 gals, or ½ bush.) = 3.970 gals, or .496 bush, or 1.985 pecks = 10 shō.

Shō (roughly 1½ qts.) = 1.588 qts. or 0.198 pecks or 108½ cub. in. = 10 gō.

(roughly ⅓ pint) =.3176 pints or 0.019 pecks.

Rice is not bagged but baled, and a bale is 4 tō or 1 hyō.


Kwan or kwamme (roughly 8¼ lbs.) = 8.267 lbs. av. or 10.047 lbs. troy = 1,000 momme.

Kin (catty) = 1.322 lbs. av. or 1.607 troy = 160 momme.

Momme = 2.116 drams or 2.411 dwts. According to American measurements a momme is 0.132 oz. av. and 0.120 oz. troy.

Hyakkin (picul) = 100 kin = 132.277 lbs.

A stone is 1.693, a cwt. is 13.547, and a ton 270.950 kwamme.


Ken.—Prefecture. There are forty-three ken and Hokkaido. Ken and fu are made up of the former sixty-six provinces. Sometimes the name of the ken and the name of the capital of the ken are the same: example, Shidzuoka-ken, capital Shidzuoka.

Fu.—Three prefectures are municipal prefectures and are called not ken but fu. They are Tokyo-fu, Kyoto-fu and Osaka-fu.

Gun (kōri).—Division of a prefecture, a county or rural district. There are 636 gun. Gun are now being done away with.

Shi.—City. There are seventy-nine cities.

Cho.—A town or rather a district preponderatingly urban. There are 1,333 cho.

Machi.—Japanese name for the Chinese character cho.

Son.—A village or rather a district preponderatingly rural. There are 10,839 son.

Mura.—Japanese name for a Chinese character son.

A true idea of the Japanese village is obtained as soon as one mentally defines it as a commune. There may be a rural community called son or a municipal community called cho. The cho or son consists of a number of oaza, that is, big aza, which in turn consists of a number of ko-aza or small aza. A ko-aza may consist of twenty or thirty dwellings, that is, a hamlet, or it may be only one dwelling. It may be ten acres in extent or fifty. I found that the population of a particular municipality was 10,000 in seven big oaza comprising twenty-two ko-aza.

[Illustration: ]

The feet of the chair and table are fitted with wooden slats so as not to injure the tatami. Electricity as a matter of course!

[Illustration: ]

The worshippers in the front row lost relatives by a flood.
This is not the priest referred to in Chapter I.


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The only hard facts, one learns to see as one gets older, are the facts of feeling. Emotion and sentiment are, after all, incomparably more solid than any statistics. So that when one wanders back in memory through the field one has traversed in diligent search of hard facts, one comes back bearing in one's arms a Sheaf of Feelings.—Havelock Ellis.

One day as I walked along a narrow path between rice fields in a remote district in Japan, I saw a Buddhist priest coming my way. He was rosy-faced and benign, broad-shouldered and a little rotund. He had with him a string of small children. I stood by to let him pass and lifted my hat. He bowed and stopped, and we entered into conversation. He told me that he was taking the children to a festival. I said that I should like to meet him again. He offered to come to see me in the evening at my host's house. When he arrived, and I asked him, after a little polite talk, what was the chief difficulty in the way of improving the moral condition of his village, he answered, "I am."

We spoke of Buddhism, and he complained that its sects were "too aristocratic." When his own sect of Buddhism, Shinshu, was started, he said, it was something "quite democratic for the common people." But with the lapse Page 2 of time this democratic sect had also "become aristocratic." "Though the founder of Shinshu wore flaxen clothing, Shinshu priests now have glittering costumes. And everyone has heard of the magnificence of the Kyoto Hongwanji" (the great temple at Kyoto, the headquarters of the sect). [11] "Contrary to the principles of religion and democracy," people thought of the priest and the temple "as something beyond their own lives." All this stood in the way of improvement.

The fashion in which many landowners "despised exertion and lived luxuriously" was another hindrance. These men looked down on education, "thinking themselves clever because they read the newspapers." Landlords of this sort were fond of curios, and kept their capital in such things instead of in agriculture. Sellers of curios visited the village too often. A wise man had called the curio-seller the "Spirit of Poverty" (Bimbogami). He said that the Spirit visited a man when he became rich—in order to bring curios to him; and again when he became poor—in order to take them away from him! After he became poor the Spirit of Poverty never visited him again.

Yet another drawback to rural progress was petty political ambition. People slandered neighbours who belonged to another party and they would not associate with them. Such party feeling was one of the bad influences of civilisation.

Further, "a mercenary spirit and materialism" had to be fought in the village. There was not, however, much trouble due to drink, and there was no gambling now. There might still be impropriety between young people—formerly young men used to visit the factory girls—but it was rare. Lately there had been land speculation, and some of those who made money went to tea-houses to see geisha.

There was in the neighbourhood, this Buddhist pastor went on, a temple belonging to the same sect as his own, and he was on friendly terms with its priest. It was good discipline, he said, for two priests to be working near one Page 3 another if they were of the same sect, for their work was compared. In answer to my enquiry, the old man said that he preached four days a month. Each service consisted of reading for an hour and then preaching for two hours. About 150 or 200 persons would attend. He had also a service every morning from five to six. In addition to these gatherings in the temple he conducted services in farmers' houses. "I feel rather ashamed sometimes," he said," when I listen to the good sermons of Christians."

As the priest was taking leave he told me that he was going to a farmer's house in order to conduct a service. I asked to be allowed to accompany him. He kindly agreed, and invited me to stay the night in his temple.

When I reached the farmhouse there were there about two dozen kneeling people, including members of the family. On the coming of the priest, who had gone to the temple to put on his robes, the farmer threw open the doors of the family shrine and lighted the candles in it. The priest knelt down by the shrine and invited me to kneel near him. In a few words he told the people why I was in the district. Whereupon the farmer's aged mother piped, "We heard that a tall man had come, but to think that we should see him and be in the same room with him!"

When he had prayed, the priest read from a roll of the Shinshu scripture which he had taken reverently from a box and a succession of wrappings. Afterwards he preached from a "text," continuing, of course, to kneel as we did. A flickering light fell upon us from a lamp hanging from a beam. The room was pervaded with incense from an iron censer which the farmer gently swung. The worshippers told their beads, and in intervals between the priest's sentences I heard the murmur of fervent prayer. The priest preached his sermon with his eyes shut, and I could watch him narrowly. It is not so often that one sees an old man with a sweet face. But there was sweetness in both the face and voice of this priest. He spoke slowly and clearly, sometimes pausing for a little between his sentences as if for better inspiration, as a Quaker will sometimes do in speaking at meeting. His tones were no higher than could be heard clearly in the room. There was Page 4 nothing of the exhorter in this man. His talk did not sound like preaching at all. It was like kind, friendly talk at the fireside at a solemn time. "Faith, prayer, morality: these alone are necessary," was the burden of the simple address. "We have faith by divine providence; out of our thanksgiving comes prayer, and we cannot but be good." It was plain that the old women loved their priest. In the front of the congregation were three crones gnarled in hands and face. When the sermon of an hour or so came to an end they spoke quaveringly of the mercy of Buddha to them, and of their own feebleness to do well. The old priest gently offered them comfort and counsel.

After the service, in the light of the priest's paper lantern, I made my way along the road to the temple. At length I found myself mounting the lichened stone steps to the great closed gates. The priest drew the long wooden bolt and pushed one gate creakingly back. We went by a paved pathway into the deeper shadow of the temple. Then a light glowed from the side of the building, and we were in the priest's house. It was like a farmer's house only more refined in detail.

About half-past four in the morning I was awakened by the booming of the temple bell. It is the sound which of all delights in the Far East is most memorable. I got up, and, following the example of my host, had a bath in the open, and dressed.

Then I was lighted along passages into the public part of the temple. The priest with an acolyte began service at the middle altar. Afterwards he proceeded to a side altar. At one stage of the service he chanted a hymn which ran something like this:

From the virtues and the mercies of divine providence we get faith, the worth of which is boundless.
The ice of petty care and trouble which froze our hearts is melted.
It has become the water of divine illumination, bearing us on to peace.
The more care and trouble, the greater the illumination and the reward.

I knelt on the outside of the congregational group. It Page 5 was cold as the great doors were slid open from time to time and the kneeling figures grew in number to about forty. Day broke and a few sparrows twittered by the time the first part of the service was over.

The priest then took up his lamp and low table, and, coming without the altar rail, knelt down in the midst of the congregation. In this familiar relation with his people he delivered a homily in a conversational tone. Buddha was to mankind as a father to his children, he said. If a man did bad things but repented, his father would be more delighted than if he got rich. The way of serving Buddha was to feel his love. To ask of the rich or of a master was supplication, but we did not need to supplicate Buddha. Our love of Buddha and his love for us would become one thing. Carelessness, an evil spirit, doubt: these were the enemies. Gold was beautiful to look at, but if the gold stuck in one's eyes so that one could not see, how then? The true essence of belief was the abandonment of ourselves to divine providence.

So the speaker went on, pressing home his thoughts with anecdote or legend. There was the tale of a woman whose character benefited when her husband became a leper. Another story was of an injured lizard which was fed for many days by its mate. We were also told of a mischievous fellow who tried to anger a believer. The ne'er-do-weel went to the man's house and called him a liar. The believer thanked him for his faithful dealing, and said that it might be true that he was a liar. He would be glad, he said, to be given further advice after his wife had warmed water in order that his visitor might wash his feet. "The mind of the vagabond was thereupon changed."

The rays of light from the lamp illumined the large Buddha-like shaven head and mild countenance of the priest and the labour-worn faces of his flock around him. Two weatherbeaten men curiously resembled Highland elders. I saw that they, an old woman and a young mother with a child tied on her back kept their eyes fixed on the preacher. It was plain that in the service they found strength for the day.

I was in a reverie when the priest ended his talk. To Page 6 my embarrassment he begged me to come with him within the altar rail and speak to the people. I had been quickened to such a degree by the experience of the previous night and by this service at dawn that I stood up at once. But there seemed to be not one word at my call, and my knees knocked because of cold and shyness. I grasped the chilly brass altar rail, and, as I met the gaze of friendly, sun-tanned, care-rutted alien faces, which yet had the look of "kent folk," I marvellously found sentence following sentence. What I said matters nothing. What I felt was the unity of all religion, my veneration for this rare priest, a sense of kinship with these worshippers of another race and faith, and a realisation of the elemental things which lie at the basis of international understanding. Several old men and women came up to me and bowed and made little speeches of kindness and cordiality. Six was striking on a clock in the priest's house as the doors of the temple were slid open, the great cryptomeria [12] which guard the village fane stood forth augustly in the morning light, and the congregation went out to its labour.

As I knelt at breakfast and ate my rice and pickles and drank my miso soup, [13] the priest, after the manner of a Japanese with an honoured guest, did not take food but waited upon me. He asked if the English clergy wore a costume which marked them off from the people. He liked the way of some of our preachers who wore ordinary clothes and eschewed the title of "reverend." He was also taken by the idea of the Quaker meeting at which there is silence until someone feels he has a message to utter. As to the future of Buddhism, he deeply regretted to say that many priests were a generation behind the age. If the priests were "more democratic, better educated and more truly religious," then they might be able to keep hold of young men. He knew of one priest in Tokyo who had a dormitory for university students.

The priest presented his wife, a kindly woman full of character. "This is my wife," he said; "please teach Page 7 her." I spoke of a kind of kindergarten which I had learnt had been conducted at the temple for five years. "We merely play with the children," she said. "I had the plan of it from the kindergarten of a missionary," her husband added. The priest and his wife were kneeling side by side in the still temple-room looking out on their restful garden. Behind them was a screen the inscription on which might be translated, "We are to be thankful for our environment; we are to become content quite naturally by the gracious influence of the universe and by the strength of our own will."

I could learn nothing from the priest concerning several helpful organisations which I had heard that the villagers owed to his influence and exertions. But the manager of the village agricultural association told me that for a quarter of a century Otera San (Mr. Temple) had superintended the education of the young people, that under his guidance the village had a seven years' old co-operative credit and selling society, 294 families belonged to a poultry society, 320 men and women gathered to study the doctrines of Ninomiya (whom we in the West know from a little book by a late Japanese Ambassador in London, called For His People), and the young men's association performed its discipline at half-past five in the morning in the winter and at four o'clock in the summer.

[Illustration: ]

To Rouse the Village you must first rouse the Priest
(Autograph of Otera-San)


[9] Exchange in 1916; in 1921 the yen is worth 2s. 8d.

[10] The chapters in this section are based on notes of several visits paid to Aichi, which is in the middle of Japan, and agriculturally and socially one of the most interesting of the prefectures. It is three prefectures distant from Tokyo.

[11] Throughout this book an attempt has been made to preserve in translation something of the character of the Japanese phraseology.

[12] Cryptomeria japonica, or in Japanese, sugi, allied to the sequoia, yew and cypress.

[13] Miso, bean paste.



Page 8



Je ne propose rien, je n'impose rien, j'expose.—De la liberté du travail

He had been through Tokyo University, but his hands were rough with the work of the rice fields. "I resent the fact that a farmer is considered to be socially inferior to a townsman," he said. "I am going to show that the income of a farmer who is diligent and skilful may equal that of a Minister of State. I also propose to build a fine house, not out of vanity, but in order to show that an honest farmer can do as well for himself as a townsman."

When I asked the speaker to tell me something about himself he went on: "My father was a follower of a pupil of the great Ninomiya. Schools of frugal living and high ideals were common in the Tokugawa period.[14] The object sought was the education of heart and spirit. At night when I was in bed my father used to kneel by me, [15] his eldest son, and say, 'When you grow big you must become a great man and distinguish our family name.' This instruction was given to me repeatedly and it went deeply into my heart."

"When I became a young man," he continued, "I had two friends. We made promises to each other. One said, 'I will become the greatest scholar in Japan.' The second said, 'I will become the greatest statesman.' The third, myself, said, 'I will be the greatest rice grower in this country.' If we all succeeded we were to build beautiful houses and invite each other to them.

Page 9 I did not graduate at the University because, by the entreaty of my father, when I reached twenty-one, I left Tokyo in order to become a practical farmer. It is twenty-one years since I began farming. I consulted with skilful agriculturists and then I saw my way to make a plan. Rice in my native place is inferior. I improved it for three or four years. I gained the first gold prize at the prefectural show. Some years later I obtained the first prize at the exhibition which was held by five prefectures together. Later still I received the first prize at the exhibition for eighteen prefectures, also the first prize at the exhibition of the National Agricultural Association. Further, I was appointed a judge of rice and travelled about.

"I consumed a great deal of time in doing this public work. One day I was made to think. A collector for a charity said in my hearing that he expected larger subscriptions from practical men because though public men were esteemed by society their economic power was small. I at once resolved that before doing any more public work I should put myself in a sound financial position.

"As I thought over the matter it seemed to me that it was not to be expected that a public man should be able to do his really best work if his financial position were not sound. Again, could he have lasting influence with people in practical affairs if his own practical affairs were not in good order? [16] At any rate I determined not to go out to any more exhibitions or lectures except those which were remunerative, and I resolved to devote myself as my first duty to my farming.

"I set to work and managed my land, 3 chō (a chō is 2½ acres), so as to obtain the gross income of an M.P. [The reader could scarcely have a more striking illustration of the intensity with which Japanese land is cultivated— Page 10 the average area is under 3 acres per family.] I am now working about 4 chō (10 acres). Later on I am going to farm 7 chō (15½ acres) and from that I am expecting the income of a Minister.[17] I have already collected the materials for my villa, for I am approaching my goal. One of my two friends, who is also forty years of age, is a distinguished chemist in the Imperial Agricultural College. My other friend, who is forty-four, is Secretary of the Korean Government."

The indomitable experimenter swallowed another cupful of tea and declared that "in order to be prosperous, all the members of the family must work." All the members of his family did work. His wife was strong and there were five healthy children. He used the ordinary farm implements and his livestock consisted of only a horse and a few hens. The home farm was five miles from the station. The outlying farms were scattered in five villages—"there are always spendthrift lazy fellows willing to sell their land." "I have a firm belief," the speaker added complacently, "that agriculture is the most honest, the most sincere, the most interesting, the most secure and the most profitable calling."

"Very often," he went on, "good people are not sufficiently precautious"—I give the excellent word coined by my interpreter. "They spend for the public good, and in the end they are left poor. Renowned, rich families have come to a miserable condition by such action. What they have done may have been good. But they are reduced to pauperism and they are laughed at by many persons. People jeer that they pretended to do good, yet they could not do good to themselves. If all people who work for the public benefit are laughed at at last—and many are—it will come to be thought that to work for the public benefit is not good. Therefore I think that the man who would work for the public good must be careful in his own affairs. He must not be a poor man if he is to help public business. However philanthropic he may be, if his financial position is not strong he cannot go on long. He will be stopped on his good way. He cannot help other people. Therefore Page 11 I am now gathering wealth for strengthening my financial position as a means to attain the higher end."

As the speaker awaited my judgment on his career, I ventured to suggest that gifts, qualities and inspiration which made a man a public man did not necessarily equip him for being a great success in business life. The question was, perhaps, whether the type of man who was pre-eminently successful in promoting his own pecuniary interests was necessarily the best type of public man. Was the average character equal to the strain of many years of concentration on money-making to the exclusion of public interests? When men emerged from the sphere of concentrated money-making, were they worth so very much as public men? Might not the values of things have altered a little for them? Might it not have a shrivelling effect on the heart to resist applications which must be refused when the strengthening of one's financial position was regarded as the chief object in life?

At this point our host, Mr. Yamasaki, the respected principal of the big agricultural school of the prefecture and a well-known rural author and speaker, broke in with the ejaculation, "He has got a needle in your head"—the Japanese equivalent for "touching the spot"—and continued: "Surely he is right who through his life offers freely what he may have as to members of his own family. I give away many pamphlets and I have guests. I could save in these directions. But I am not doing it. I am content if I can support my family. I gave a savings book to each of my five children. When the boy becomes twenty-one he will have enough to finish at the university or start as a small merchant so as not to be a parasite. My girls will be provided with enough to furnish the costs of modest marriage. If I did more I might perhaps become greedy."

I cannot say that the farmer who had so kindly outlined his life's programme was impressed either by our host's views or by mine, but he told us that he now spent 5 per cent. of his income on public purposes, and that 150 yen received for giving lectures was spent on books and recreation "for enlarging mind and heart." He happened to mention that, though his family was of the Zen sect of Page 12 Buddhism, he was a Shintoist. It is difficult to believe that a genuine Buddhist could have evolved such a life scheme. There is certainly a Shinto symbolism in his plan of tree planting before his house. He has set there, in the order shown, eleven pines which he named as marked:

[Illustration: ]

Plan of the Eleven Symbolic Trees which the Farmer Planted outside his House and the Evils (represented by Arrows) from which they are Shielding Him

The virtues inscribed on this plan are the guardians of the farmer and his family, which is represented in the middle of it. The words behind the arrows represent the character of the attacks to which the farmer conceives himself and his family to be exposed. Courage is imagined as going before and Wisdom as protecting the rear.

The talk turned to some advice which had been given to farmers to lay out "economic gardens." They were to plant no trees but fruit trees. To this an old farmer of our company replied: "If you are too economical your children will become mercenary. Some families were too Page 13 economical and cut down beautiful trees, planting instead economical ones. Those families I have seen come to an evil end. The man who exercises rigid economy may be a good man, but his children can know little of his real motives and must be wrongly influenced by his conduct." We all agreed that there was nowadays too much talk about money-making in rural Japan. "Even I," laughed the owner of the symbolic trees, "planted not persimmons but pines."


[14] That is, before the Revolution of half a century ago, when the Tokugawa Shogun resigned his powers to the Emperor.

[15] The Japanese bed, futon, consists of a soft mattress of cotton wool, two or three inches thick. It is spread on the floor, which itself consists of mats of almost the same thickness, 6 ft. long by 3 ft. wide.

[16] Most of the really big men of Australia have left political life in comparatively impoverished circumstances. Not only did Sir Henry Parkes die poor. Sir George Reid took the High Commissionership in London; Sir Graham Berry was provided with a small annuity; Sir George Dibbs was made the manager of a State savings bank; Sir Edmund Barton was lifted to the High Court Bench.—Times, January 11, 1921.

To the last day of his life, executions were levied in his house.—Rosebery on Pitt.

[17] For his figures see Appendix I.



Page 14



I should be heartily sorry if there were no signs of partiality. On the other hand, there is, I trust, no importunate advocacy or tedious assentation.—Morley

"The alarum clocks for waking us at four o'clock in the summer and five in the winter"—it was the chairman of a village Early-Rising Society who was speaking to me—are placed at the houses of the secretaries, and each member is in turn a secretary. The duty of a secretary, when the alarum clock strikes, is to get up and visit the houses of all the members allotted to him and to shout for the young men until they answer. Each member on rising walks to the house of the secretary of his division and writes his name on the record of attendances. Then the member goes to the shrine, where we fence and wrestle for a time. At first we thought that if we fenced and wrestled early in the morning we should be tired for our work, but we found that it was not so.

"Sometimes a clock gets damaged and does not ring, so a few of us may be getting up later that morning. Or a man becomes afraid of sleeping too late, fears his clock is wrong, and gets up at 3 o'clock and then goes off to waken members. Hence complaints. Some cunning fellows ask their friends or brothers to write down for them their names on the list of attendances. But we find out their deceit by their handwriting. It is very difficult to form the habit of early rising, because members are not expected to report at the secretaries' houses on a rainy day. As there is no control over them that day, they are easy in their minds and sleep on. Thus they break the habit of early rising that Page 15 they are forming. Getting up early is necessary not only because it is good to begin work early but because early rising overcomes the habit of gadding about at night which is customary in many villages.

"You may say that all this is a great deal to ask of young men," the chairman continued. "But if you ask from them comfortable practices only, how can you expect from them a remarkable result? Young men should ponder this and be willing to exert themselves." Later on it was explained to me that it had been found that it took a great deal of time for the secretaries to call up all the members in the morning by shouting to them, "so the secretary obtained bugles; but even the bugles were not heard everywhere, so they were changed to drums, and now five drums go round our village every morning."

In every village of Japan there is a young men's association, which is by no means to be confounded with the world-encircling Y.M.C.A. [18] The village Y.M.A. of Japan is an institution of some antiquity and it has nothing whatever to do with religious effort. One day, when I was staying in a rural district, I was invited to a remoter part in order to see something of the discipline that the members of a group of young men's associations were imposing on themselves. The members of this group of Y.M.A. belonged to the branches established in a village of nineteen aza, that is hamlets. This fact, with the further fact that the village containing the nineteen aza had four elementary schools and one higher school, will show that a Japanese village may be much larger than a Western one.

Nearly six hundred young men were in the parade. They were dressed exactly alike in the tight blue calico trousers and kimono of jacket length which the Japanese farmer ordinarily wears. Each man had the usual obi (waist scarf) tied round his kimono, and in the obi was thrust the small cotton towel which Japanese carry with them everywhere. The young men wore puttees, waraji (straw sandals) and caps. It is only of late that the Japanese worker has taken to wearing head-gear, or at any rate Page 16 head-gear other than he could contrive with his towel. The physical condition of the young fellows was good and their evolutions with dummy "rifles" were smart and skilful. The paraders seemed lost in their desire to do their best for their credit's sake and their own good. After the first movements, the "troops" with "rifles" held as if there were bayonets at the end, made rushes with loud cries. The secret of this somewhat surprising display far away in the heart of Japan was that the work of the young men had been done under the direction of two fit, be-medalled army surgeons, reserve officers, who were present in order to answer my questions.

Every morning half an hour before sunrise these Y.M.A. members assemble in the grounds of their Shinto shrine or of their school, where they exercise until the sun shows itself. In the evenings after work they also fence, wrestle, lift weights and develop their wrists. This wrist development is done by two youths grasping a pole, one at either end, and then trying to rotate it one against the other.

The members endeavour to cultivate their minds as well as their bodies, and they also observe in their dress a self-denying ordinance. On ceremonial occasions they permit themselves to wear a full-length kimono and the hakama or divided skirt, but they deny themselves the third article of a Japanese man's full dress, the haori or silk overcoat. An effort is also made to dispense with the use of "luxurious" geta (the national wooden pattens). [19]

The object of all this varied discipline is to develop physique, self-control, self-respect and what the Japanese call the spirit of association, or, as we might say, good fellowship. The spirit of association is needed in order to promote greater administrative, educational and social efficiency. The modern Japanese village is no longer an historical but a political unit which covers a considerable district. It is, as I have explained, a combination of clusters of aza (hamlets). Each of these aza has its local sentiment, and this local sentiment when untouched by outside influences tends to become selfish, narrow and prejudiced. If, however, anything is to be done in the Page 17 development of rural life there must be co-operation between aza for all sorts of objects.

I was assured that in addition to the development of physique, moral and the spirit of association, there was to be seen, under the influence of the Y.M.A., a development of good manners and mental nimbleness. A special result of early rising and discipline in one area had been that "the habit of spending evening hours idly has died away, immorality has diminished, singing loudly and foolishly and boasting oneself have disappeared, while punctuality and respect for old age have increased." I was even assured that parents—whom no true Japanese would ever dream of attempting to reform at first hand—parents, I say, moved by the physical and mental advance in their sons, have "begun to practise greater punctuality."

After the drilling was over I was taken to a large elementary school and was called upon to address the young men, who were kneeling in perfect files. Mr. Yamasaki followed me and told the youths that Japanese were not so tall as they might be, and that therefore their physique "must be continuously developed." Nor were rural conditions all they should be from a moral point of view. Therefore, "every desire which interferes with the development of your health or morality must be overcome."

Let me speak of another village. It numbers a thousand families and it rises in the morning and goes to bed at night by the sound of the bugle. It has five public baths and a notice-board of news "to enlarge people's ideas." The shopkeepers are said to "work very diligently, so things are cheaper." The education of such of the young men as are exempted from military service is continued on Saturday evenings for four years. The Y.M.A., in addition to the military discipline, fencing, wrestling, weight-lifting and pole-twisting of which I have spoken, exercises itself in handwriting—which many Japanese practise as an art during their whole lifetime—and in composing the conventional short poem. I was gravely informed that "the custom of spending money on sweet-stuff is decreasing." What this really means is that the young men were not frequenting the sweet-stuff shops, which are staffed Page 18 by girls who are in many cases a greater temptation than the sweets. The worthy members of this association had "burnt their geta."

In some places Y.M.A. members give their labour when a school teacher or a fellow member is building his house, or they do repairs at the school. Bicycle excursions are made to neighbouring villages in order to participate in inter-Y.M.A. debates, or to study vegetable raising, fruit culture or poultry keeping. The Japanese are much given to "taking trips," and the special training which they receive at school in making notes and plans results in everybody having a notebook and being able to sketch a rough route-plan for personal use, or for a stranger who may ask his way.

Not a few associations favour members cutting each other's hair once a fortnight, thus at one and the same time saving money and curbing vanity. Several Y.M.A.s publish cyclostyled monthlies. Others minutely investigate the economic condition of their villages. Some Y.M.A.s provide public "complaint boxes," and have boards up asking for friendly help for soldiers billeted in the district. One association has issued instructions to its members that they are not to ride when in charge of ox-drawn carts. The reason is that the ox is only partially under control and may injure a pedestrian—unwittingly, I am sure, for the gentleness of the ox and even of the bull in harness arrests one's attention. Many Y.M.A.s devote themselves to cultivating improved qualities of rice or to breaking up new land. Sometimes the land of the Shinto shrine is cultivated. I have heard of Y.M.A.s in remote parts having handed over to them the exclusive sale of saké.

I find a Y.M.A. counselling its members "not to speak vulgar words in a crowd." There is also among the members of Y.M.A.s a certain addiction to diary keeping for moral as well as economic purposes. The diaries are distributed by the associations and "afterwards examined and rewarded"—a plan which would hardly work in the West. There are Y.M.A.s which make a point of seeing off conscripts with flags and music. Others have fallen on the more economical plan of "writing to the conscript Page 19 as often as possible and helping with labour the family which is suffering from the loss of his services." By some Y.M.A.s "old people are respected and comforted." More than one association has a practice of serving out red and black balls to its members at the opening of every new year, when good resolutions are in order, and at the end of the year recalling either the red or the black according to the degree to which the publicly announced good resolutions have been kept. Among the good resolutions are: to worship at the Shinto shrine or the Buddhist temple regularly, to be tidier, to be more efficient in cropping the land, to undertake work for the common good, to have a secondary occupation in addition to farming, to sit with more decorum at meals, to rise earlier, to visit the graves of ancestors monthly, to be more considerate to parents or elder brothers, and "not to remain idly at people's houses."

One Y.M.A. decrees that a member found in a tea-house in conversation with a geisha shall be fined 20 yen. There is even a village in which the young men's association and the young women's association have united to issue a regulation providing that at night time members, in order that their doings shall be public, shall carry lanterns painted with the ideographs of their societies. [20]

With regard to the young women's associations, I found that one of them studied domestic matters and good manners, "asking questions and receiving answers." The motto of the organisation was "Good Wives and Good Mothers." A member, this Society believes, should be "polite, gentle and warm-hearted, but with a strong will inside and able to meet difficulties." Her hairdressing and clothes "should not be luxurious," and she "must not run after fashions." She must "respect Buddha and abandon sweet-eating," for "taking food between meals is bad for your health, for economy and for your posterity."

Let us now hear something of Societies for the Cultivation of Rice by Schoolboys. The lads become responsible for the cultivation of a tan of their family land, or of a small paddy, and they work it themselves with the help of such Page 20 advice as the schoolmaster may give them. (The cultivation of a tan of a paddy, a quarter of an acre, is supposed to need in a year about twenty-one days' labour of a man working from sunrise to sunset.) The report of one boy to which I turned in a collection of reports by members of a rice-cultivation society showed that he was between fourteen and fifteen. His diary of work and observations was as follows:

June 5.—4 to of herring applied.

June 7.—Locusts and other insects arrive. [21]

June 20.—153 clumps of rice transplanted from the seed bed.[22]

July 11.—Rice cultivated and 4 to of herring applied.

July 27.—First weeding.

Aug. 6.—Second weeding.

Aug. 8.—Locusts again.

Aug. 11.—Third weeding.

Sept. 10.—All ears shot.

Oct. 10.—Some plants suffering from bacillus.

It was further noted that the soil was sandy, that cold spring water was percolating through the bottom of the paddy field, that the aeration of the soil was bad and that some plants were laid by wind. The young farmer appended to his report an excellent plan. He received marks as follows: Method of planting, 15; levelling, 20; provision against insects, 5; general attention, 25; total, 65. Some boys got as many as 99 marks.

A word concerning a Village Association for Promoting Morality. One of the things it does is to assemble yearly the whole population, old and young, "in order to get friendly." The police meanwhile keep an eye open for strangers who might take it into their heads to visit the village on that day and help themselves from the houses. I may quote three poems in rough translations from a speech made by a priest at the annual meeting:

The legs of a horse, the rudder of a boat, the pin of a fan, and the sincerity of a man.
Page 21 Let your heart be pure and true and you need not pray for the protection of the gods.
The bride brings many things with her to her new home, but one thing more, the spirit of sincerity, will not encumber her.

After these varied accounts of rural merit, I could not but listen with attention to a tale of village gamblers, the offence of gambling having been "introduced by the excavators on the new railway." First the headman fined a dozen young men. Then he made a raid and found among the village sinners several members of his own council. "The salaried officials were at a loss to know what to do, and proposed to resign. But the headman brought the prisoners together before the whole body of officials. He spoke of the sufferings of the troops in Manchuria and the heroic deaths among them. (It was the time of the Russian war.) 'Lest your offences should come to be known by our soldiers and discourage them,' said the headman, 'I cannot but overlook your conduct.' It is thought that gambling practically ceased from that time."

Local officials have a way of making the most of historic events in order to touch the imagination of their villagers. Many original undertakings were begun, for example, under the inspiration of the Coronation. One village set about raising a fund by a system of taxation under which inhabitants contribute according to the following tariff:

Birth of a child, 10 sen (that is, 2½ d. or 5 cents).
Wedding, 15 sen.
Adoption, 15 sen.
Graduation from the primary school, 10 sen; advanced school, 20 sen.
Teacher or official on appointment, 2 per cent. of salary; when salary is increased, 10 per cent. of increase.
When an official receives a prize of money from his superior, 5 per cent.
Every villager to pay every quarter, 1 sen.

On the basis of this assessment it is expected that fifty-seven years after the Coronation such a sum will have been accumulated as will enable the villagers to live rate free. Page 22 Some villages have thanksgiving associations in connection with Shinto shrines. Aged villagers are "respected by being blessed before the shrine and by being given a present." Worthy villagers who are not aged "receive prizes and honour."

More than once when I went to a village I was welcomed first by a parade of the Y.M.A., then by the school children in rows, and finally in the school grounds by two lines of venerable members of an Ex-Public Servants' Association. The object of an E.P.S.A. is to strengthen the hands of the present officials and to give honour to their predecessors. A headman explained to me: "If ex-officials fell into poverty or lacked public respect, people would not be inclined to work for the public good. A former clerk in the village office whom everybody had forgotten was working as a labourer. But as a member of the association he was seen to be treated with honour, so the children were impressed. The funeral of such a man is apt to be lonely, but when this man died all the members of the association attended his funeral in ceremonial dress and offered some money to his memory. [23] His honour is great and the villagers say, 'We may well work for the public benefit.'"

Every village in Japan has a Village Agricultural Association. One V.A.A., which belongs to a village of less than 6,000 people, sees the fruit of its labours in the existence of "322 good manure houses." The gift of a plan and the grant of a yen had prompted the building of most of them. Then the organisation incites its members to cement the ground below their dwellings. This is not so much for the benefit of the farmer and his family as for the welfare of their silkworms. A fly harmful to silkworms winters in the soil, but it cannot find a resting-place in concrete.

[Illustration: ]


A word may also be said about the way in which silkworm rearers have been induced by the V.A.A. to keep the same breed of caterpillar, so facilitating bulking of cocoons at the association's co-operative sales. A small library of silkworm-culture books has been started in the village, and Page 23 there is a special pamphlet for young men which they are urged to keep in "their pockets and to study ten minutes each day." A general library has 2,400 volumes divided into eight circulating libraries. The cost of the building which provides the library in chief, a meeting hall and also a storehouse for cocoons has been defrayed by the commissions charged for the co-operative sale of cocoons.

[Illustration: ]


[Illustration: ]


Again, there used to be no cattle in the village, but now, thanks to the purchase of young animals by the association, and thanks to village shows, there are 103.

There is a competition to get the biggest yield of rice, and there is also "an exhibition of crops." This exhibition incidentally aims at ending trouble between landlord and tenants due to complaints of the inferiority of the rice brought in as rent. (Paddy-field rent is invariably paid in rice.) These complaints are more directly dealt with by the V.A.A. arbitrating between landlords and tenants who are at issue. In addition to rice crop and cattle shows in the village, there is a yearly exhibition of the products of secondary industries, such as mats, sandals and hats.

The V.A.A. is also working to secure the planting of hill-side waste. Some 300,000 tree seedlings have been distributed to members of the Y.M.A., who "grow them on," and, after examination and criticism, plant them out. I must not omit to speak of the V.A.A.s' distribution of moral and economic diaries of the type already referred to. The villagers, in the spirit of boy-scoutism, are "advised to do one good thing in a day." I saw several of these diaries, well thumbed by their authors after having been laboured at for a year. One young farmer noted down on the space for January 2 that he said his prayers and then went daikon [24] pulling, and that daikon pulling (like our mangold pulling) is a cold job.


[18] There are, however, 11,000 members of Y.M.C.A. in Japan. There is also a Y.W.C.A. with a considerable membership.

[19] See Appendix II.

[20] For official action in regard to the Y.M.A.s, see later.

[21] The damage done by insects is estimated at 10 million yen a year. In some parts locusts are roasted and eaten.

[22] For an account of the processes of rice cultivation, see Chapter IX.

[23] It is the practical Japanese custom to make a gift of money to a family on the occasion of a death. The Emperor makes a present to the family of a deceased statesman.

[24] The giant white radish which reaches 2 or 3 ft. in length and 3 in. or more in diameter. There is also a correspondingly large turnip-shaped sort.



Page 24



It has been said that we should emulate rather than imitate them. All I say is, Let us study them.—Matthew Arnold

For seven years in succession the men, old, middle-aged and young, who had done the most remarkable things in the agriculture of the prefecture had been invited to gather in conference. I went to this annual "meeting of skilful farmers." Among the speakers were the local governor and chiefs of departments who had been sent down by the Ministry of Agriculture and the Home Office. According to our ideas, everybody but the unpractised speakers—the expert farmers who were called from time to time to the platform—spoke too long. But the kneeling audience found no fault. Indeed, a third of it was taking notes. It was an audience of seeking souls.

One of the impromptu speakers, a white-haired, toil-marked farmer, told how forty years before he had gone to the next prefecture and opened new land. "With his spectacles and moustache," explained the chairman—if the man who takes the initiative from time to time at a Japanese meeting may be properly called a chairman—"he looks like a gentleman; but he works hard." And the man showed his hands as a testimony to the severity of his labours.

"It was in the winter," he said, "that I went away from my home and obtained a certain tract of waste. I had no acquaintance near. I brought some food, but when I fell short I had no more. I had gone with my third boy. We lived in a small hut and were in a miserable condition. Then a fierce wind took off the roof. It was at four in the morning when the roof blew off. In February I began to open a rice field. Gradually we got a chō. At length I Page 25 opened another chō, but there was much gravel. Some of my newly opened fields are very high up the hill. If you chance to pass my house please come to see me. The maple leaves are very beautiful and you can enjoy the sight of many birds."

The early meetings of the expert farmers used to last not one day but two, for the men delighted in narrating their experiences to one another. Some of the audience used to weep as the older men told their tales. The farmers would sit up late round a farmer or a professor who was talking about some subject that interested them. The originator of these gatherings, Mr. Yamasaki, told me that he was "more than once moved to tears by the merits and pure hearts of the farmer speakers."

Of the regard and respect which the farmers had for this man I had many indications. Like not a few agricultural authorities, he is a samurai.[25] He is exceptionally tall for a Japanese, looks indeed rather like a Highland gillie, and when one evening I prevailed on him to put on armour, thrust two swords in his obi and take a long bow in his hand, he was an imposing figure. He carries the ideals of bushido into his rural work. He does not sleep more than five hours, and he is up every morning at five.

But I am getting away from the meeting. There was a priest who spoke, a man curiously like Tolstoy. (He had, no doubt, Ainu blood in him.) He wore the stiff buttoned-up jacket of the primary school teacher and spoke modestly. "Formerly the rice fields of my village suffered very much from bad irrigation," he said, "but when that was put right the soil became excellent. In the days when the soil was bad the people were good and no man suspected another of stealing his seal. [26] But when the soil became good the disposition of the people was influenced in a bad way, and they brought their seals to the temple to be kept safe.

"At that time the organiser of this meeting came and made a speech in my village. On hearing his speech I thought it an easy task to make my village good. At once Page 26 I began to do good things. I formed several men's and women's associations, all at once, as if I were Buddha. But the real condition of the people was not much improved. There came many troubles upon me, and our friend wrote a letter. I was very thankful, and I have been keeping that letter in the temple and bowing there morning and evening.

"I began to ask many distinguished persons to help me. They influenced the farmers. The sight of a good man is enough. Speech is unnecessary. The villagers were not educated enough to understand moralisings or thinking, but the kind face of a good man has efficacy. There was a man in the village who was demoralised, and when I told of him to a distinguished man who lives near our village he sympathised very much. That distinguished man is eighty-four years old, but he accompanied that demoralised man for three days, giving no instruction but simply living the same life, and the demoralised man was an entirely changed man and ever thankful.

"I am a sinful man. Sometimes it happens that after I have been working for the public benefit I am glad that I am offered thanks. I know it is not a good thing when people express gratitude to me, for I ought not to accept it. When I know I am doing a good thing and expecting thanks, I am not doing a good thing. My thanks must not come from men but from Buddha. I am trying to cast out my sinful feelings. It must not be supposed that I am leading these people. You skilful farmers kindly come to my village if you pass. You need not give any speech. Your good faces will do."

But the two speeches I have reported are hardly a fair sample of the discourses which were delivered. The addresses of the earnest Tokyo officials and the Governor were directed towards urging on the farmers increased production and increased labour, and the duty was pressed upon them, as I understood, in the name of the highest patriotism and of devotion to their ancestors. This talk was excellent in its way, but when I got up I hazarded a few words on different lines. If I venture to summarise my somewhat elementary address it is because it furnishes Page 27 a key to some of the enquiries I was to make during my journeys. I was told the next day that the local daily had declared that my "tongue was tipped with fire," which was a compliment to my kind and clever interpreter, who, when he let himself go, seemed to be able to make two or three sentences out of every one of mine:

I said that my Japanese friends kept asking me my impressions, and one thing I had to say to them was that I had got an impression in many quarters of spiritual dryness. I dared to think that some responsibility for a materialistic outlook must be shared by the admirable officials and experts who moved about among the farmers. They were always talking about crop yields and the amount of money made, and they unconsciously pressed home the idea that rural progress was a material thing.

But the rural problem was not only a problem of better crops and of greater production. Man did not live by food alone. Tolstoy wrote a book called What Men Live By, and there was nothing in it about food. Men lived not by the number of bales of rice they raised, but by the development of their minds and hearts. It might be asked if it was not the business of rural experts to teach agriculture. But a poet of my country had said that it took a soul to move a pig into a cleaner sty. It was necessary for a man who was to teach agriculture well to know something higher than agriculture. The teacher must be more advanced than his pupils. There must be a source from which the energy of the rural teacher must be again and again renewed. There must be a well from which he must be continually refreshed and stimulated. Some called that well by the name of religion, unity with God. Some called it faith in mankind, faith in the destiny of the world, that faith in man which is faith in God. But it must be a real belief, not a half-hearted, shivering faith.

Agriculture was not only the oldest and the most serviceable calling, it was the foundation of everything. But the fact must not be lost sight of that agriculture, important and vital though it was, was only a means to an end. The object in view was to have in the rural districts better men, women and children. The highest aim of rural progress was to develop the minds and hearts of the rural population, and in all discussion of the rural problems Page 28 it was necessary not to lose in technology a clear view of the final object.

But when account is taken of all the drab materialism in the rural districts there remains a leaven of unworldliness. It takes various forms. Here is the story of a landlord at whose beautiful house I stayed. "When a tenant brings his rent rice to this landlord's storehouse," a fellow-guest told me, "it is never examined. The door of the storehouse is left unpadlocked, and the rent rice is brought by the tenant when he is minded to do so. No one takes note of his coming. If he meets his landlord on the road he may say, 'I brought you the rent,' and the landlord says, 'It is very kind of you.' It is an old custom not to supervise the tenants' bringing of the rent.

"Nowadays, however, some tenants are sly. They say, 'Our landlord never looks into our payments. Therefore we can bring him inferior rice or less than the quantity.' The landlord loses somewhat by this, but it is not in accordance with the honour of his family to change the method of collecting his rent. He is now chairman of the village co-operative society as well as of the young men's society, and he aims to improve his village fundamentally."

I also heard this narrative. The tenants in a certain place wished to cultivate rice land rather than to farm dry land. But when silkworm cultivation became prosperous they began to prefer dry land again in order that they might extend the area of mulberries. Therefore the landlords raised the rents of the dry farms. But there was one landlord who said, "If this dry farm land had been improved by me I should be justified in raising the rent. But I did not improve it. Therefore it would be base to take advantage of economic conditions to raise the rent."

So he did not raise the rent. Then he was excluded from social intercourse by the other landlords because their tenants grumbled. These landlords said to him, "You can afford not to raise your rents, but we cannot." Therefore the landlord who had not raised his rents called his tenants together. He said to them, "It is a hard thing for me to have no social intercourse with my equals. Therefore I will now raise the rents. But I cannot accept that raised Page 29 portion, and I will take care of it for you, and in ten years I think it will amount to enough for you to start a cooperative society."

That was eight years ago and the formation of the society was now proceeding. In order that the reader may not forget on what a very different scale landlordism exists in Japan, I may mention that the area owned by this landlord was only 10 chō.

I was told the story of a landlord's solution of the rent reduction problem. "Tenants," the narrator said, "sometimes pretend that their crops are poorer than they are. Landlords may reduce the payment due, but sometimes with a certain resentment. One landowner was asked for a reduction for several years in succession on account of poor crops, and gave it. But he was trying to think of a plan to defeat the pretences of his tenants. At last he hit on one. While the tenants' rice was young he often visited the fields, and when any insects were to be seen he sent his labourers secretly to destroy them. In the same way, when crops seemed to be under-manured, he secretly cast artificial manure on them. At last his tenants found out what he was doing, and they said, 'As our landlord is so kind to us, we must not pretend that we need a reduction.' And they did not, and things are going on very well there. This is an illustration of the fact that our people are moved more by feeling than by logic."

This was capped by another story. "A landlord, a samurai, has for his tenants his former subjects, so something of the relation of master and servant still remains. He wished to raise his tenants to the position of peasant proprietors, so when land was for sale in the village he advised them to buy. They said they had no money, but he answered, 'Means may perhaps be found.' He secretly subscribed a sum to the Shinto shrine and then advised the formation of a co-operative society, which could borrow from the shrine for a tenant, so that the tenant need not go to the landlord to thank him and feel patronised by him. He need only to go to the shrine and give thanks there." "The landlord," added the speaker in his imperfect English, "has entirely hided himself from the Page 30 business." A third of the tenants had become peasant proprietors.

In order to better the feeling between the farmers and landowners this landlord and several others had begun to ask their tenants to their gardens, where they were given tea and fruit. "In Japan," said one man to me, "we see feudal ideas broken down by the upper, not the lower class."

I visited the romantic coast of a peninsula a dozen miles from the railway. Some 10,000 pilgrims come in a year to the eighty-eight temples on the peninsula, and in some parts the people are such strict Buddhists that in one village the county authorities find great difficulty in overcoming an objection to destroying the insect life which preys on the rice crops. When rice land does not yield well, one landlord causes an investigation to be made and gives advice based upon it to the tenant, saying, "Do this, and if you lose I will compensate you. If you gain, the advantage will be yours." Money is also contributed by the landlord to enable tenants to make journeys in order to study farming methods.

A landlord here—I had the pleasure of being his guest—had started an agricultural association. It had developed the idea of a secondary school for practical instruction, "rich men to give their money and poor men their labour." In order to obtain a fund to enable tenants to get money with which to set up as peasant proprietors, this landlord had thought of the plan of setting aside each harvest 250 shō[27] of rice to each tenant's 3 shō.

Good work was done in teaching farmers' wives. "When no instruction is given," I was informed, "a wife may say, when her husband is testing his rice seed with salt water, 'Salt is very dear, nowadays, why not fresh water?' If a husband is kind he will explain. If not, some unpleasantness may arise, so wives are taught about the necessity of selecting by salt water."

[Illustration: ]


[Illustration: ]


Tenants are advised to save a farthing a day. In order to keep them steadfast in their thriftiness they are asked to bring their savings to their landlord every ten days. Page 31 It is troublesome to be constantly receiving so many small sums, but the landlord and his brother think that they should not grudge the trouble. In two years nearly 1,000 yen have been saved. Said one tenant to his landlord, "I know how to save now, therefore I save."

[Illustration: ]


[Illustration: ]


One of my hosts, who was thirty-two, hoped to see all his tenants peasant proprietors before he was fifty. The relation of this landlord and his tenants was illustrated by the fact that on my arrival several farmers brought produce to the kitchen "because we heard that the landlord had guests." The village was very kind in its reception of the foreign visitor. A meeting was called in the temple. I told the story of Wren's Si monumentum requiris circumspice and pointed a rural moral. Some months afterwards I received a request from my host to write a word or two of preface to go with a report of my address which he was giving to each of his tenants as a New Year gift.

This landlord's family had lived in the same house for eleven generations. The courtesy of my host and his relatives and the beauty of their old house and its contents are an ineffaceable memory. From the time my party arrived until the time we left no servant was allowed to do anything for us. The ladies of the house cooked our food and the landlord and his younger brother brought it to us. The younger brother waited upon us throughout our meals, even peeling our pears. At night he spread our silk-covered futon (mattresses). In the morning he folded them up, arranged my clothes, swept the room and stood at hand with towels, all of which were new, while I washed.

When on our arrival in the house we sat and talked in the first reception-room we entered, I noticed that outside the lattice a company of villagers was listening with no consciousness of intrusion, in full view of our host, to the sound of foreign speech. It was a Shakespearean scene.

Out of its setting, as it is often witnessed to-day, the tea ceremony seems meaningless and wearisome, an affected simplicity of the idle. But as a guest of this old house of fine timbers weathered to silver-grey I found the secret of Cha-no-yu. This flower of Far Eastern civilisation is an æsthetic expression of true good-fellowship, and a gentle Page 32 simplicity and sincerity are of its essence. The admission of a foreigner to a family Cha-no-yu was a gesture of confidence.

Five of us gathered late in the afternoon of an August day in the cool matted rest-room in the garden. We looked on the beauty that generations of gardeners of a single vision had created. Our minds rested in the quiet as in the quaint phrase, we "tasted the sound of the kettle and listened to the incense." At length at a signal we rose. Led by the priestess of the ceremony, our host's aunt, a slight figure in grey with snow-white tabi and new straw sandals, we passed by the dripping rocky fountain, with its lilies, and the azure hydrangea of the hills which, some say, suggests distance. The hut-like tea-room, traditionally rude in the material of which it was built but perfect in every detail of its workmanship, we entered one by one. According to old custom we humbly crept through the small opening which serves as entrance, the idea being that all worldly rank must bow at the sanctuary of beauty. The tiny chamber held, besides the wonderful vessels of the ceremony, a flower arrangement of blue Michaelmas daisies, and an exquisite scroll of wild duck in flight in the miniature tokonoma, [28] the tea mistress, our host and four guests. We drank from a black daimyo bowl which had been made four hundred years before. We passed an hour together and in the twilight we came out from the little room as from a sacrament of friendship. A year afterwards my host wrote to me, "Yesterday we had Cha-no-yu again and you were in our thoughts. During the ceremony we placed your photograph in the tokonoma."

After dinner we had kyōgen [29] by distinguished amateurs, one of whom, a neighbouring landowner, had lately appeared before the Emperor. After the plays he painted kyōgen scenes for us on kakemono and fans. He painted the kakemono as he knelt with his paper lying on a square of soft material on the floor.

The plays were performed in ancient costumes or copies Page 33 of old ones and of course without scenery. The players were lighted by oily candles two inches in diameter, which flamed and guttered in candlesticks not of this century nor of the last. A player may make his exit merely by sitting down. The players are men; masks are used in playing women's parts. The stories are of the simplest. There was the well-known tale of the sly servant who was sent to town by a stupid daimyo in order to buy a fan, and, though he brought back an umbrella, succeeded in imposing it on his master. There was also the play of the fox who comes to a farmer to advise him not to kill foxes, but is himself caught in a trap. I also recall a story of two good tenants who had been rewarded by their landlord with an order that they should receive hats. Owing to an oversight they received one hat only between the two. Problem, how to meet the difficulty. It was solved by the rustics fastening two pieces of wood together T-shape, raising the hat of honour upon the structure and walking home in triumph under either side of the T.

The next morning I was greeted by the aged father and mother of our host. The household was an interesting one, for the landlord and his brother were married to two sisters. Before taking our departure we knelt with our landlord and his father before the Buddhist shrine on which rested the memorial tablets of former heads of the house. I expressed my sense of the privilege extended to strangers. The reply was, "Our ancestors will feel pleasure in your being among us."


[25] Samurai or shizoku comprise about a twentieth of the population.

[26] Every Japanese signs by means of a stone or hard-wood seal which he keeps in a case and ordinarily carries with him.

[27] A shō is about a quart and a half.

[28] The raised recess in which is usually displayed the flower arrangement, a piece of pottery and a kakemono. (See Note, page 35.)

[29] Farcical interludes of the stage.



Page 34



The sense of a common humanity is a real political force.—J.R. Green

The stranger in Japan sees so little of the intimacies of country life that I shall say something of further visits to what we should call county families. My hosts, who seemed to be active to a greater or less degree in promoting the welfare of their tenants, lived in purely Japanese style. Yet now and then in a beautiful house there was a showy gilt timepiece or some other thing of a deplorable Western fashion. At all the houses without exception we were waited upon by the host and his son, son-in-law or brother, and for some time after our arrival our host and the members of his family would kneel, not in the apartment in which our zabuton (kneeling cushions) were arranged, but in the adjoining apartment with its screens pushed back. Even when the time of sweets and tea had passed and a regular meal was served, all the little tables of food were brought in not by servants but by the master of the house and such male relatives as were at home.

When the duration of a Japanese meal is borne in mind, some idea may be gained of the fatigue endured by the head of a house in serving many guests. The host sometimes honours his guests still further by eating apart from them or by partaking of a portion only of the meal. The name of a feast in Japanese is significant, "a running about." The ladies of the house are usually seen for only a few minutes, when they come with the children to welcome the guests on their arrival; but on the second day of the visit the ladies may bring in food or tea or play the koto.

The foreigner, though on his knees, feels a little at a loss to know how to acknowledge politely the repeated bows of Page 35 so many kneeling men and women. He watches with appreciation the perfect response of his Japanese travelling companions. It is difficult to convey a sense of the charm and dignity of old courtesies exchanged with sincerity between well-bred people in a fine old house. Although all the shoji[30] are open, the trees of the beautiful garden cast a pensive shade. The ancient ceremonial of welcome and introduction would seem ludicrous in the full light of a Western drawing-room, but in the perfectly subdued light of these romantically beautiful apartments, charged with some strange and melancholy emotion, the visitor from the West feels himself entering upon the rare experience of a new world.

Everyone knows how few are the treasures that a Japanese displays in his house. His heirlooms and works of art are stored in a fireproof annexe. For the feasting of the eye of every guest or party of visitors the appropriate choice of kakemono, [31] carving or pottery is made. I had the delight of seeing during my country-house visiting many ancient pictures of country life and of animals and birds. It was also a precious opportunity to inspect armour and wonderful swords and stands of arrows in the houses in which the men who had worn the armour and used the weapons had lived. The way of stringing the seven-feet-high bow was shown to me by a kimono-clad samurai, as has been recorded in the previous chapter. When he threw himself into a warlike attitude and with an ancient cry whirled a gleaming two-handed sword in the dim light thrown by lanterns which had lighted the house in the time of the Shoguns, the figures on old-time Japanese prints had a new vividness.

Page 36 What also helped in illuminating for me the old prints of warlike scenes was a display of a remarkable kind of fencing with naked weapons which one of my hosts kindly provided in his garden one evening. The tournament was conducted by the village young men's association. The exercises, which, as I saw them, are peculiar to the district, are called ki-ai, which means literally "spirit meeting." They call not only for long training but for courage and ardour. The combats took place on a small patch of grass which was fenced by four bamboo branches. These were connected by a rope of paper streamers such as are used to distinguish a consecrated place. Before the first bout the bamboos and rope were taken away and a handful of salt was thrown on the grass. Salt was similarly thrown on the grass before every contest. The idea is that salt is a purifier. It signifies, like the handshake of our boxers, that the feelings of the combatants are cleansed from malice.

Most of the events were single combats, but there were two meetings in which a man confronted a couple of assailants. The contests I recall were spear v. spear, spear v. sword, sword v. long billhook, spear v. the short Japanese sickle and a chain, spear v. paper umbrella and sword, pole v. wooden sword, pole v. pole, and long billhook v. fan and sword. The weapons were sharp enough to inflict serious wounds if a false move should be made or there should be a momentary lack of self-control. The flashing steel gave an impression of imminent danger. There was also the feeling aroused in the spectators by the way in which the combatants sought to gain advantage over one another by fierce snarls, stamping on the ground and appalling gestures. The neck veins of the fighters swelled and their faces flamed with mock defiance. Their agility in escaping descending blades was amazing. But the ki-ai player's dexterity is famous. It is his boast that with his sword he could cut a straw on a friend's head. I noticed that no women were present at the "spirit meeting."

More than once I found that my landlord host was accustomed to make a circuit of his village once or twice a week in order to see how things were going with his tenants. Public-spirited landlords were working for their people by Page 37 means of co-operation, lectures and prizes, the distribution of leaflets and the giving of from 2½ to 7½ per cent. discount in rent when good rice was produced. The rural philanthropist in Japan sees himself as the father of his village. [32] The Japanese word for landlord is "land master" and for tenant "son tiller." The old idea was patronage on the one side and respect on the other. This idea is disappearing. "We wish," said one landlord to me, "to pass through the transition stage gradually. We do not feel the same responsibility to our people, perhaps, now that they do not show the same reverence for us, but we do not say to them that they may go to the factory and we will invest our money for our children. We check ourselves. We know well, however, that things will change in our grandsons' time. We therefore try to mix our grandfathers' ideas and modern ideas. We are believers in co-operation and we try to be counsellors and to work behind the curtain."

From time to time there are such things as tenants' strikes. Mr. Yamasaki assured me that the problem of the rural districts can be solved only by appealing to the feelings of the people in the right way. He said that "the Japanese are largely moved by feelings, not by convictions." In some coastwise counties, someone told me, a hurricane destroyed the crops to such an extent that the tenants could not pay rent, and the landlords who depended on their rents were impoverished. Things reached such a pass that a hundred thousand peasants signed a paper swearing fidelity to an anti-landlord propaganda. Officials and lawyers achieved nothing. Then Mr. Yamasaki went, and, sitting in the local temple, talked things over with both sides for days. He got the landlords to say that they were sorry for their tenants and the tenants to say that they were sorry for the landlords, and eventually he was allowed to burn the oath-attested document in the temple. [33]

Many landlords are "endeavouring to cultivate a moral relation" between themselves and their tenants. They Page 38 have often the advantage that their ancestors were the landlords of the same peasant families for many generations. But there are still plenty of absentee landlords and landlords who are usurers. There are also the landlords who have let their lands to middlemen. The cultivator therefore pays out of all proportion to what the landlord receives. Of landlords generally, an ex-daimyo's son said to me: "Many landlords treat their tenants cruelly. The rent enforced is too high. In place of the intimate relations of former days the relations are now that of cat and dog. The ignorance of the landlords is the cause of this state of things. It is very important that the landlord's son shall go to the agricultural school, where there is plenty of practical work which will bring the perspiration from him." The object of most good landlords is to increase the income of their tenants. It is felt that unless the farmers have more money in their hands, progress is impossible. There is one direction in which the landlords are not tried. The franchise is so narrow that farmers cannot vote against their landlords.

In the house of one old landowning family in which I was a guest I saw a gaku inscribed, "Happiness comes to the house whose ancestors were virtuous." I was admitted to the family shrine. Round the walls of the small apartment in which the shrine stood were the autographs or portraits of distinguished members of the house going back four or five hundred years. It was easy to see that the inspiring force of this family was its untarnished name. It was a crime against the ancestors to reduce the prestige or merit of the family. No stronger influence could be exerted upon an erring member of such a family than to be brought by his father or elder brother before the family shrine and there reprimanded in the presence of the ancestral spirits. The head of this house is at present a schoolboy of twelve and the government of the family is in the hands of a "regent," the lad's uncle. I saw the boy and his younger sister trot off in the morning with their satchels on their backs to the village school in democratic Japanese fashion. Japan is a much more democratic country than the tourist imagines. Distinctions of class Page 39 are accompanied by easy relations in many important matters.

I went for a second time to the restful city of Nagoya. It is out of the sphere of influence of Tokyo and is conservative of old ideas. People live with less display than in the capital and perhaps pride themselves on doing so. But if the houses of even the well-to-do are small and inconspicuous, the interiors are of satisfying quality in materials and workmanship, and the family godowns bring forth surprises. Here as elsewhere the guest is served in treasured lacquer and porcelain. (While we are not accustomed in the West to look at the marks on our host's table silver, it is perfect Japanese manners to admire a food bowl by examining the potter's marks.) My host hung a rural kakemono in my room, one day a fine old study of poultry, another an equally beautiful painting of hollyhocks.

As we left the town my attention was attracted by a commemorative stone overlooking rice fields. The inscription proclaimed the fact that at that spot the late Emperor Meiji, [34] as a lad of fifteen, on his historic first journey to Tokyo, "beheld the farmers reaping."

The matron of a farmhouse two centuries old showed me a tub containing tiny carp which she had hatched for her carp pond, the inmates of which, as is common, came to be fed when she clapped her hands. In the garden there was an old clay butt still used for archery. In the farmhouse I was taken into a room in which in the old days the daimyo overlord had rested, into another room which had a secret door and into a third room where—an electric fan was buzzing.

At a school I had to face the usual ordeal of having to "write" as best I could a motto for use as a wall picture. Our lettering, when done with a brush, falls pitifully behind Chinese characters in decorative value, and our mottoes will not readily translate into Japanese. I was Page 40 often grateful to Henley for "I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul," because with the substitution of "commander" for captain, the lines translate literally.

We left the village through arches which had been erected by the young men's association. At an old country house four interesting things were shown to me. There was, first, a phial of rice seed 230 years old. The agricultural professor who was my fellow-guest told me that he had germinated some of the grains, but they did not produce rice plants. The second thing was a fine family shrine before which a religious ceremony had been performed twice a day by succeeding generations of the same family for 350 years. The third object of interest was a little, narrow, flat steel dagger about eight inches long, sheathed in the scabbard of a sword. The dagger was used for "fastening an enemy's head on." After the owner of the sword had beheaded his foe, he drew the smaller weapon, and, thrusting one end into the headless trunk and the other end into the base of the head, politely united head and body once more, thus making it possible "to show due respect and sympathy towards the dead." Finally, I had the privilege of handling a wonderful suit of armour which was fitted slowly together for me out of many pieces. Although it had been made several centuries ago, this rich suit of lacquered leather had been a Japanese general's wear on the field of battle within living memory.

One of the landowners I met was a poet who had been successful in the Imperial poem competition which is held every New Year. A subject is set by His Majesty and the thousands of pieces sent in are submitted to a committee. The dozen best productions are read before the sovereign himself, and this is the honour sought by the competitors. The subject for competition in the year in which the landowner had been successful was, "The cryptomeria in a temple court." His poem was as follows:

In transplanting
The young cryptomeria trees
Within the sacred fence
There is a symbol
Of the beginning of the reign.

Page 41 The New Year poems come from every class of the community and there is seldom a year in which landowners or farmers are not among the fortunate twelve.

As we rode along a companion spoke of the force of public opinion in keeping things straight in the countryside, also of the far-reaching control exercised by fathers and elder brothers. But the good behaviour of some people was due, he said, to a dread of being ridiculed in the newspapers, which allow themselves extraordinary freedom in dealing with reputations.

I met a man who had had a monument erected to him. He was a member of a little company which received me in a farmer's house. He was formerly the richest man in the village, that is to say, he owned 20 chō and was worth about 100,000 yen. Moved by the poverty of his neighbours, he devoted his substance to improving their condition. Now many of them are well off, the village has been "praised and rewarded" by the prefecture for its "good farming and good morals," and the philanthropist is worth only 50,000 yen. Impressed by his unselfishness, the village has raised a great slab of stone in his honour.

I made enquiries continually about the influence exerted by priests. I was told of many "careless" priests, but also of others who delivered sermons of a practical sort. A few of the younger priests were described as "philosophical" and some preached "the kingdom of God is within you." Many people laid stress on the necessity for a better education of the priesthood and for combating superstition among the peasantry, though the schools had already had a powerful influence in shaking the faith of thousands of the common people in charms and suchlike. Many folk put up charms because it was the custom or to please their old parents or because it could do no harm.

I was told that the Government does not encourage the erection of new temples. Its notion is that it is better to maintain the existing temples adequately. When I went to see a gorgeous new temple, I found that official permission for its erection had been obtained because the figures, vessels and some of the fittings of an old and dilapidated temple were to be used in the new edifice. This Page 42 temple was on a large tract of land which had recently been recovered from the sea. The building had cost between 80,000 and 90,000 yen. It stood on piles on rising ground and had a secondary purpose in that it offered a place of refuge to the settlers on the new land if the sea dike should break.

The founder of the temple was the man who had drained the land and established the colony. He had given an endowment of 500 yen a year, three-quarters of which was for the priest. This functionary had also an income of 150 yen from a chō of land attached to the temple. Further he received gifts of rice and vegetables. I noticed that the gifts of rice—acknowledged on a list hung up in his house—varied in quantity from four pecks to half a cupful. Probably the priest bought very little of anything. If he needed matting for his house, which was attached to the temple, or if he had to make a journey, the villagers saw that his requirements were met. And he was always getting presents of one kind or another. "A man says to the priest," I was told, "'This is too good for me; please accept it.'" The villagers on their side sat and smoked in one of the temple rooms and drank his reverence's tea for hours before and after service. [35]

The building of the temple was not only an act of piety but a work of commercial necessity. The colonists on the reclaimed land would never have settled there if there had not been a temple to hold them to the place and to provide burial rites for their old parents. Not all the people were of the same sect of Buddhism, but "they gradually came together." A third of what a tenant produced went for rent and another third for fertilisers, the remaining third being his own. The population was 1,800 in 300 families. The average area per family was 2 chō and colonists were expected to start with about 200 yen of capital. Some unpromising tenants had been sent away and "some had left secretly." Half of the people were in debt to the landlord—the total indebtedness Page 43 was about 15,000 yen—for the erection of houses and the purchase of implements and stock. The rate was 8 per cent. In the district 10 per cent. was quite usual and 12 per cent. by no means rare. The co-operative society lent at the daily rate of 2½ sen per 100 yen.

The landlord told me that the sea dikes took two years to build and that most of the earth was carried by women, 5,000 of them. Their labour was cheap and the small quantities of earth which each woman brought at a time permitted of a better consolidation of an embankment that was 240 feet wide at the base. More than a million yen were laid out on the work. The reclaimed land was free of State taxes for half a century, but the landlord made a voluntary gift to the village of 2,000 yen a year. The yearly rent coming in was already nearly 56,000 yen. The cost of the management of the drained land and of repairs to the embankment, 20,000 yen a year, was just met by the profits of a fishpond. A valuable edible seaweed industry was carried on outside the sea dikes. The landlord mentioned that he had had great difficulty in overcoming the objections of his grandfather to the investment, but that eventually the old man got so much interested that at ninety-three he used to march about giving orders.

One day in the course of my journeying I was near a railway station where country people had assembled to watch the passing of a train by which the Emperor was travelling. No one was permitted along the line except at specified points which were carefully watched. A young constable who wore a Russian war medal was opposite the spot where I stood. He politely asked me to keep one shaku (foot) or so away from the paling. When someone's child pushed itself half-way through the paling the police instruction was, "Please keep back the little one for, if it should pass through, other children will no doubt wish to follow." A later request by the constable was to take off our hats and keep silence when he raised his hand on the approach of the Imperial train. We were further asked not to point at the Emperor and on no account to cry Banzai. (The Japanese shout Banzai for the Emperor in his absence and cry Banzai to victorious generals and Page 44 admirals, but perfect silence is considered the most respectful way of greeting the Emperor himself.) The Imperial train, which was preceded by a pilot engine drawing a van full of rather anxious-looking police, slowed down on approaching the station so that everyone had a chance of seeing the Emperor, who was facing us. All the school children of the district had been marshalled where they could get a good view. The Japanese bow of greatest respect—it has been introduced since the Restoration, I was told—is an inclination of the head so slight that it does not prevent the person who bows seeing his superior. This bow when made by rows of people is impressive. Undoubtedly the crowd was moved by the sight of its sovereign. Not a few people held their hands together in front of them in an attitude of devotion. The day before I had happened to see first a priest and then a professor examining a magazine which had a portrait of the Emperor as frontispiece. Both bowed slightly to the print. Coloured portraits of the Emperor and Empress are on sale in the shops, but in many cases there is a little square of tissue paper over the Imperial countenances.


[30] Shoji are the screens which divide a room from the outside. They are a dainty wooden framework of many divisions, each of which is covered by a sheet of thin white paper. The shoji provide light and are never painted. The sliding doors between two rooms are karakami (fusuma is a literary word). They are a wooden framework with thick paper or cloth on both sides of it and with paper packing between the layers. Karakami are often decorated with writing or may be painted. No light passes through them.

[31] A writing or a picture on a long perpendicular strip of paper or silk or of paper mounted on silk, with rollers. The length is about three times the width, which is usually 1 ft. 3 in. or 1 ft. 10 in. The kakemono in the tokonoma of tea-ceremony rooms is about 10 in. wide.

[32] For budgets of large property owners, see Appendix III.

[33] There have been several serious tenants' demonstrations in Aichi during 1921. See Chapter XIX.

[34] Each Emperor receives on his succession a name which is applied to the period of his reign. The period of Mutsuhito's reign, 1868-1912, is called Meiji; that of the present Emperor Taisho. Thus the year 1912 would be Taisho I.

[35] It will be remembered that there is only one prefecture in which tea is not grown in larger or smaller areas, and that it is served economically without sugar or milk.



Page 45



Nor do I see why we should take it for granted that their gods are unworthy of respect.—Valerius

In Aichi prefecture I was asked to plant trees (persimmons) in the grounds of three temples or shrines and on the land of several farmers. In an exposed position on a hill-top I found persimmons being grown on a system under which the landlord provided the land, trees and manures and the farmer the labour, and the produce was equally divided.

The cryptomeria at one of the shrines I visited were of great age. All of them had lost their tops by lightning. It cannot be easy for those who have never seen cryptomeria or the redwoods of California to realise the impression made by dark giant trees that have stood before some shrine for generations. At the approach to the shrine of which I speak there were venerable wooden statues. I recall one figure carved in wood as full of life as that of the famous Egyptian headman.

The aged chief priest, who was assisted by two younger priests, kindly invited me to take part in a Shinto service. First, I ceremonially washed my hands and rinsed my mouth. Then, having ascended the steps, my shoes were removed for me so that my hands should not be defiled. On entering the shrine I knelt opposite the young priests, one of whom brought me the usual evergreen bough with paper streamers. On receiving it I rose to my feet, passed through the beautiful building and advanced to what I may call, for the lack of a more accurate term, the altar table. On this table, which, as is usual in Shinto ceremonies, was of new white wood following the ancient design, I laid the Page 46 offering. Then I bowed and gave the customary three smart hand-claps which summon the attention of the deity of the shrine, and bowed again. On returning to my former kneeling-place one of the priests offered me saké and a small piece of dried fish in paper.[37] The chief priest was good enough to read and to hand to me an address headed, "Words of Congratulation to the Investigator," which may be Englished as follows:

"I, Yukimichi Otsu, the chief priest, speak most respectfully and reverently before the shrine of the august deity, Okunitama-no-miko-no-kami, and other deities here enshrined: Dr. Robertson Scott, of England, is here this good day. He comes to see the things of Japan under the governance of our gracious Emperor. I, having made myself quite pure and clean, open the door of gracious eyes that they may look upon those who are here. May Dr. Robertson Scott be protected during night and day, no accident happening wherever he may go. Dr. Robertson Scott goes everywhere in this country; he may cross a hundred rivers and pass over many hills. May there be no foundering of his boat, no stumbling of his horse. Offering produce of land and sea, I say this most respectfully before the shrine."

After the shrine I visited a co-operative store, curiously reminiscent of many a similar rural enterprise I had seen in Denmark. Sugar, coarser than anything sold at home, was dear. Half the price paid for sugar in Japan is tax. I was informed that there were no fewer than 400 cooperative organisations in the prefecture.

[Illustration: ]


[Illustration: ]


At several places, although the villagers were busy rice planting, the young men's association turned out. The young men were reinforced by reservists and came sharply to attention as our kuruma (jinrikisha, usually pneumatic-tyred) passed. Some of the villages we bowled through were off the ordinary track, and the older villagers observed the ancient custom of coming out from their houses or farm plots, dropping on their knees and bowing low as we Page 47 passed.[38] All over Japan, a villager encountered on the road removed the towel from his head before bowing. If a cloak or outer coat was worn, it was taken off or the motion of taking it off was made. Frequently, in showery weather, cyclists who were wearing mackintoshes or capes, alighted and removed these outer garments before saluting.

[Illustration: ]


I saw a village which a few years ago had been "disorderly and poor" and in continual friction with its landlord. Eventually this man realised his responsibility, and, inspired by Mr. Yamasaki, took the situation in hand. He talked in a straightforward way with his villagers, reduced a number of rents and spent money freely in ameliorative work. To-day the village is "remarkable for its good conduct" and the relation between landlord and tenant seems to be everything that can be desired. The landlord is not only the moving spirit of the co-operative store but has started a school for girls of from fifteen to twenty. They bring their own food but the schooling is free.

On the gables of one or two houses near the roof I noticed ventilators which were cut in the form of the Chinese ideograph which means water, a kind of charm against fire. At the door of one rather well-to-do peasant house I saw several paper charms against toothache. There was also an inscription intimating that the householder was a director of the co-operative society and another announcing that he was an expert in the application of the moxa. [39] Every house I went into had a collection of charms. One charm, a verse of poetry hung upside-down, as is the custom, was against ants. Another was understood to ensure the safe return of a straying cat.

In one house in the village my attention was drawn to the fact that the rice pot contained a large percentage of barley.

In two or three places I passed pits for the excavation of lignite, which does not look unlike the wood taken out of bogs. A pit I stopped at was twenty-two fathoms deep. There were twenty miners at work and air was being pumped down.

Page 48 One of the things we in the West might imitate with advantage is the village crematorium. In Japan it is of the simplest construction. The rate for villagers was 50 sen, that for outsiders 2 yen. No doubt there would be an additional yen for the priest. In a little building which was thirty years old 200 bodies had been cremated.

I looked into a small co-operative rice storehouse. The building was provided by a number of members "swearing" to save at the rate of a yen and a half a month each until the funds needed had accumulated. The money was obtained by extra labour in the evening. Just before I left Japan the Department of Agriculture was arranging to spend 2 million yen within a ten-years' period to encourage the building of 4,000 rice storehouses.

As I watched the water pouring from one rice field to another and wondered how the rights of landowners were ever reconciled, someone reminded me of the phrase, "water splashing quarrels," that is disputes in which each side blames the other without getting any farther forward. To take an unfair advantage in controversy is to draw water into one's own paddy. The equivalent for "pouring water on a duck's back" is "flinging water in a frog's face." A Western European is always astonished in Japan by the lung power of Far Eastern frogs. The noise is not unlike the bleating of lambs.

Every now and again one comes on a fragrant bed of lotus in its paddy field. It seems odd at first that lotus—and burdock—should be cultivated for food. As a pickle burdock is eatable, but lotus and some unfamiliar tuberous plants are pleasant food resembling in flavour boiled chestnuts. Konnyaku (hydrosme rivieri), a near relative of the arum lily, is produced to the weight of 11 million kwan—a kwan is roughly 8¼ lbs. [40] The yield of burdock is about 44 million kwan. The chief of all vegetables is the giant radish, of which 7¼ million kwan are grown. Taro yields about 150 million kwan. Foreigners usually like the young sprouts taken from the roots of the bamboo, a favourite Japanese vegetable.

Page 49 This is as convenient a place as any to speak of an important agricultural fact, the enormous amount of filth worked into the paddies. As is well known, hardly any of the night soil of Japan is wasted. Japanese agriculture depends upon it. Formerly the night soil was removed from the houses after being emptied into a pair of tubs which the peasant carried from a yoke. Such yoke-carried tubs are still seen, but are chiefly employed in carrying the substance to the paddies. The tubs which are taken to dwellings are now mostly borne on light two-wheeled handcarts which carry sometimes four and sometimes six. A farmer will push or pull his manure cart from a town ten or twelve miles off. It is difficult to leave or enter a town without meeting strings of manure carts. The men who haul the carts get together for company on their tedious journey. They seem insensible to the concentrated odour. Often the wife or son or daughter may be seen pushing behind a cart. There is a certain amount of transportation by horse-drawn frame carts, carrying a dozen or sixteen tubs, and by boats. I was told of a city of half a million inhabitants which had thirty per cent. of its night soil taken ten miles away. The work was undertaken by a co-operative society which paid the municipality the large sum of 70,000 yen a year. The removal of night soil, its storage in the fields in sunken butts and concrete cisterns—carefully protected by thatched, wooden or concrete roofs—and its constant application to paddy fields or upland plots cause an odour to prevail which the visitor to Japan never forgets. [41]

It must not be supposed that, because the Japanese are careful to utilise human waste products, no other manure is employed. There is an enormous consumption of chemical fertilisers. Then there are brought into service all sorts of crop-feeding materials, such as straw, grass, compost, silkworm waste, fish waste, and of course the manure produced by such stock as is kept. [42] In Aichi the value of human waste products used on the land is only a quarter of the value of the bean cake and fish waste similarly employed.

At Mr. Yamasaki's excellent agricultural school (prefectural), Page 50 which I visited more than once, [43] I was struck by the grave bearing of the students. I saw them not only in their classrooms but in their large hall, where I was invited to speak from a platform between the busts of two rural worthies, Ninomiya, of whom we have heard before, and another who was "distinguished by the righteousness of his public career." As in the Danish rural high schools, store is set on hard physical exercise. An hour of exercise—judō (jujitsu), sword play or military drill—is taken from six to seven in the morning and another at midday with the object of "strengthening the spirit" and "developing the character," for "our farmers must not only be honest and determined but courageous." Severe physical labour, shared by the teacher, is also given out of doors, for example, in heaping manure. "We believe," said one of the instructors, "in moral virtue taught by the hands."

For an hour a day "the main points of moral virtue" are put before the different grades of students, according to their ages and development. The school has a guild to which the twenty teachers and all the students belong. It is a kind of co-operative society for the "purchase and distribution of daily necessities," but one of its objects is "the maintenance of public morality." Then there is the students' association which has literary and gymnastic sides, the one side "to refine wisdom and virtue," the other "for the rousing of spirit." Mention may also be made of a "discipline calendar" of fixed memorial days and ceremonies "that all the students should observe": the ceremony of reading the Imperial Rescript on education, thrift and morality, and the ceremonies at the end of rice planting, at harvest and at the maturity of the silk-worm. The fitting-up of the school is Spartan but the rooms are high and well lighted and ventilated. The students' hot bath accommodates a dozen lads at a time. The studies are also the dormitories, and in the corner of each there is stored a big mosquito netting. Except for a few square yards near the doors, these rooms consist of the usual raised platform covered with the national tatami or matting.

Page 51 I heard a characteristic story of the Director. During the Russo-Japanese war everybody was economising, and many people who had been in the habit of riding in kuruma began to walk. Our agricultural celebrity had always had a passion for walking, so it was out of his power to economise in kuruma. What he did was to cease walking and take to kuruma riding, for, he said, "in war time one must work one's utmost, and if I move about quickly I can get more done."

I may add a story which this rare man himself told me. I had seen in his house a photograph of a memorial slab celebrating the heroic death of a peasant. It appeared that in a period of scarcity there was left in this peasant's village only one unbroken bale of rice. This rice was in the possession of the peasant, who was suffering from lack of food. But he would not cook any of the rice because he knew that if he did the village would be without seed in spring. Eventually the brave man was found dead of hunger in his cottage. His pillow had been the unopened bale of rice.

In the house of a small peasant proprietor I visited the inscriptions on the two gaku signified "Buddha's teaching broken by a beautiful face" and "Cast your eyes on high." On the wall there was also a copy of a resolution concerning a recent Imperial Rescript which 500 rural householders, at a meeting in the county, had "sworn to observe," and, as I understood, to read two or three times a year.

Japan, as I have already noted, has always been a more democratic country than is generally understood; but the people have been accustomed to act under leaders. Some time ago an official of the Department of Agriculture visited a certain district in order to speak at the local temple in advocacy of the adjustment of rice fields. (See Chapter VIII.) A dignitary corresponding to the chairman of an English county council was at the temple to receive the official, but at the time appointed for the meeting to begin the audience consisted of one old man. Although the official from Tokyo and the gunchō (head of a county) waited for some time, no one else put in an appearance. So Page 52 they asked the old man the reason. He replied by asking them the object of the meeting. They told him. He said that he had so understood and that the community had so understood, but the farmers were very busy men. Therefore, as he was the oldest man in the district, they had sent him as their representative. Their instructions were that he would be able to tell from his experience of the district whether what the authorities proposed would be a good thing for it or not. If he considered it to be a bad thing they would not do it, but if he thought it to be a good thing they would do it. He was to hear all that was said and then to give a decision on the community's behalf to the officials who might attend. "So," said the old man to the Tokyo official and the gunchō, "if you convince me you have convinced the village." And after two hours' explanation they convinced him!

There are in Japan hydraulic engineering works as remarkable in their way as any I have seen in the Netherlands. Some of these works, for example the tunnels for conducting rice-field water through considerable hills, have been the work of unlettered peasants. In one place I found that 80 miles or more of irrigation was based on a canal made two centuries ago. It is good to see so many embankings of refractory streams and excavations of river beds commemorated by slabs recording the public services of the men who, often at their own charges, carried out these works of general utility.

In various parts of the country I came upon smallholders who had reached a high degree of proficiency in the fine art of dwarfing trees. One day I stopped to speak with a farmer who by this art had added 1,000 yen a year to his agricultural income. A thirty-years-old maple was one of his triumphs. Another was a pomegranate about a foot and a half high. It was in flower and would bear fruit of ordinary size. The wonder of dwarfing is wrought, as is now well known, by cramping the roots in the pot and by extremely skilful pruning, manuring and watering. While we drank tea some choice specimens were displayed before a screen of unrelieved gold. In the room in which we sat the farmer had arranged in a bowl of water Page 53 with great effectiveness hydrangea, a spray of pomegranate and a cabbage.

One marks the respect shown to the rural policeman. In his summer uniform of white cotton, with his flat white cap and white gloves, and an imposing sword, he looks like a naval officer, even if, as sometimes happens, his feet are in zori. He gets respect because of his dignified presence and sense of official duty, because of the considerable powers which he is able to exercise, because he stands for the Government, and because he is sometimes of a higher social grade than that to which policemen belong in other countries. At the Restoration many men of the samurai class did not think it beneath them to enter the new sword-wearing police force and they helped to give it a standing which has been maintained. As to the policeman being a representative of the Government, the ordinary Japanese has a way of speaking of the Government doing this or that as if the Government were irresistible power. Average Japanese do not yet conceive the Government as something which they have made and may unmake[44] . But is it likely that they should, parliamentary history, the work of their betters, being as short as it is? It is not without significance that the Chambers of the Diet are housed in temporary wooden buildings.

The rural policeman is not only a paternal guardian of the peace but an administrative official. He keeps an eye on public health. He is charged with correctly maintaining the record of names and addresses—and some other particulars—of everybody in the village. It is his duty to secure correct information as to the name, age, place of origin and real business of every stranger. He attends all public meetings, even of the young men's and young women's associations, and no strolling players can give their entertainment without his presence. As to the movements of strangers, my own were obviously well known. Indeed a friend told me that in the event of my losing myself I had only to ask a policeman and he would be able to tell me where I was expected next! At the houses of well-to-do people I was struck by the way in which the local Page 54 police officer—sometimes, no doubt, a sergeant or perhaps a man of the rank of our superintendent or chief constable—called with the headman and joined our kneeling circle in the reception-room. Nominally he came to pay his respects, but his chief object, no doubt, was to take stock of what was going on. I invariably took the opportunity of closely interviewing him.

The extraordinary degree to which Japanese are commonly accustomed in their differences of opinion to refrain from blows makes many of their quarrels harmless. The threat to send for the policeman or the actual appearance of the policeman has an almost magical effect in calming a disturbance. The Japanese policeman believes very much in reproving or reprimanding evil doers and in reasoning with folk whose "carelessness" has attracted attention. Sometimes for greater impressiveness the admonitions or exhortations are delivered at the police station [45]. In more than one village I heard a tribute paid to the good influence exerted on a community by a devoted policeman.

The chief of an agricultural experiment station also seems to obtain a large measure of respect, to some extent, no doubt, because he occupies a public office. The regard felt for Mr. Yamasaki goes deeper. A few years ago he was sent on a mission abroad and in his absence his local admirers cast about for a way of showing their appreciation of his work. They began by raising what was described to me as "naturally not a large but an honourable sum." With this money they decided to add three rooms to his dwelling. They had noted how visitors were always coming to his house in order to profit by his experience and advice. Mr. Yamasaki uses the rooms primarily as "an hotel for people of good intentions—those who work for better conditions." I was proud to stay at this "hotel" and to receive as a parting gift an old seppuku blade.

Which reminds me that one night at a house in the country I found myself sitting under photographs of the late General and Countess Nogi and of the gaunt bloodstained room of the depressing "foreign style" house in Page 55 which they committed suicide on the day of the funeral of the Emperor Meiji [46]. One of my fellow-guests was a professor at the Imperial University; the other was a teacher of lofty and unselfish spirit. They were both samurai. I mentioned that a man of worth and distinction has said to me that, while he recognised the nobility of Nogi's action, he could but not think it unjustifiable. I was at once told that Japanese who do not approve of Nogi's action "must be over-influenced by Western thought." "Those who are quintessentially Japanese," it was explained, "think that Nogi did right. Bodily death is nothing, for Nogi still lives among us as a spirit. He labours with a stronger influence. Many hearts were purified by his sacrifice. One of Nogi's reasons for suicide was no doubt that he might be able to follow his beloved Emperor, but his intention was also to warn many vicious or unpatriotic people. Some politicians and rich people say they are patriotic, but they are animated by selfish motives and desires. Nogi's suicide was due to his loving his fellow-countrymen sincerely. Surely he was acting after the manner of Christ. Nogi crucified himself for the people in order to atone in a measure for their sins and to lead them to a better way of life."

I heard from my friends something of Nogi's demeanour. The old general was a familiar figure in Tokyo. In the street cars—those were the days when they were not over-crowded—he was always seen standing. His admirers used to say that his face "beamed with beneficence." But Nogi, though he loved to be within reach of the Emperor and did his part as head of the Peers' School, liked nothing better than to get away to the country. He was originally a peasant and he still possessed a chō of upland holding. He was glad to work on it with the digging mattock of the farmer.


[36] Son-God-of-the-Spirit-of-the-Province.

[37] It was a tiny squid. There are seventy sorts of cuttlefish and octopuses in Japanese waters. Value of dried cuttlefish in 1917, 4 million yen.

[38] The hands are laid flat on the ground with finger-tips meeting and the forehead touches the hands.

[39] See Chapter XX.

[40] The root grows to about the size of a big apple. It may be seen in the shops in white dried sections. A stiff greyish jelly made from it is eaten with rice. It is also eaten as oden or dengaku.

[41] See Appendix IV.

[42] See Appendix XX.

[43] See Appendix V.

[44] The truth is being learnt by the younger generation.

[45] For crime statistics, see Appendix VI.

[46] Harakiri (seppuku is the polite word) still happens. Just before writing this note I read of the captain of the first company of the Japanese garrison in a Korean town having committed seppuku because of a sense of responsibility for the irregularities of subordinates. But of 7,239 suicides of men in 1916 only 308 were by cold steel. Of 4,558 cases of women suicides 140 were by steel.



Page 56



The consciousness of a common purpose in mankind, or even the acknowledgment that such a common purpose is possible, would alter the face of world politics at once.—Graham Wallas

There was a bad landlord who was nicknamed "Devil-gon." He was shot. There was another bad landlord who, as he was crossing a narrow bridge over a brook, was "pistolled through the sleeve and tumbled into the water." Although the murderer was well known, his name was never revealed to the police, and the family of the dead man was glad to leave the district. The villagers celebrated their freedom by eating the "red rice" which is prepared on occasions of festivity. In another village, the gunchō who spoke to me of these things said, there were several usurious landlords. "The village headman got angry. He called the landlords to him. He said to them that if they continued to lend at high interest the people would set fire to their houses and he would not proceed against them. So the landlords became affrighted and amended their lives." The rural people of Japan have always three weapons against usury, it was explained to me. First, there may be tried injuring the offending person's house—rural dwellings are mainly bamboo work and mud—by bumping into it with the heavy palanquin which is carried about the roadway at the time of the annual festival. If such a hint should prove ineffective, recourse may be had to arson. Finally, there is the pistol. I remember someone's remark, "A man does not lose a common mind and heart by becoming a landowner."

I could not travel about the rural districts without there being brought under my eyes the conditions which lead country girls to go to the towns as joro (prostitutes). A Page 57 considerable agricultural authority who had been all over Japan told me that he was in no doubt that most of the girls adopted an immoral life through poverty. I spoke to this man, who had been abroad, of the disgrace to Japan involved in the presence of thousands of Japanese joro at Singapore and so many other ports of the Asiatic mainland. Did these women go there of their free will? My informant was of opinion that "half are deceived." I remember that on the Japanese steamship by which I went out to Japan there were several Japanese girls, degraded in aspect and apparently in ill health, who were returning from Singapore. They were shepherded by an evil-looking fellow. The parting of these unfortunates from their girl friends as the vessel was about to start was a piteous sight. An official who called on me in Aichi—I understood that he was the chief of the prefectural police—told me that there were in the prefecture 2,011 girls in 222 houses, and that there were in a year 725,598 customers, of whom 2,147 were foreigners. Sums of from 200 to 500 yen might be paid to parents for a girl for a three-years term. Food and clothes were also provided, but the girls were almost invariably drawn into debt to the keepers, and not more than 15 per cent. were able to return to their villages. All the girls in the houses had alleged poverty as the reason for their being there.[47]

Because I was told that the moral condition of the town of Anjo—population 17,000—where the agricultural school of the prefecture is situated, had improved since its establishment, I asked for some statistics. I found that there were 23 registered geisha, no joro, 50 teahouse girls with dubious characters and 55 sellers of saké. Against these figures were to be counted 19 Buddhist temples of four sects with 19 priests and 20 Shinto shrines with 4 priests.

I met a schoolmaster who had prepared a history of his village in a dozen beautifully written volumes. He had been a vegetarian for fifteen years because, as a Buddhist, he believed that "all living things are in some degree my relatives." I picked up from him a variant on "the early bird catches the worm." It was, "The early riser may find Page 58 a lost rin" (tenth of a farthing). He gave me another proverb, "The contents of a spitting pot, like riches, become fouler the more they accumulate."

I heard of temples which were promoting rural improvement by means of lanterns. In one village the lanterns were at the service of borrowers at three different places. The inscription on the lanterns says, "Think of the mercy of Buddha who illuminates the darkness of your heart." There is written in smaller characters, "If you live half a ri away you need not return this lantern." Three hundred lanterns are lost or damaged in a year, but paper lanterns are cheap.

One temple has a society composed of those who have family graves in its grounds. These people "study how to get the most abundant crop." There is a prize for the best cultivated tan. Under this temple's auspices there is not only a co-operative credit and purchase association, a poultry society and an annual exhibition of agricultural products, but a school for nurses—they are "taught to be nurses not only physically but morally." The boys and girls of the village are invited to the temple once a month and "told a story." The youngsters are asked to come to a "learning meeting" where they must recite or exhibit something they have written or drawn; "blockheads as well as clever children are encouraged." A fund is being raised so that "a genius who may be suffering from poverty may be able to get proper education." Then there is a Women's Religious Association which aims at "the improvement, necessary from a religious point of view, in the home and of agricultural business." Sermons are given to 500 women monthly. The society sent comfort bags, containing letters, tooth-brushes and sweets, to soldiers at the taking of Tsingtao. A similar organisation for men had for thirteen years listened to a monthly lecture by a well-known priest. It sends occasional subscriptions outside the village. Finally, this praiseworthy temple issues every month 20,000 copies of a 4½-sen magazine.

The Shinto shrines of the prefecture have in all a little more than 40 chō of land. Someone has hit on the plan Page 59 of getting the agricultural societies of the county and villages to provide the priests with rice seed of superior varieties, the crop of which can be exchanged with farmers for common rice. This is done on a profitable basis, because the shrines exchange unpolished rice for polished. A of seed rice makes only about .5 when husked.

I walked along the road some little way with a Buddhist priest. In answer to my enquiry he said that as a Buddhist he felt no difficulty about the bag strung across his shoulders being of leather, for the founder of his sect (Shinshu) ate meat. Even a strict Buddhist might nowadays eat animals not intentionally killed, animals which had not been seen alive and animals which were killed painlessly. But my companion abstained as much as possible from meat. As to the reason why some priests were inactive in the work of rural amelioration, he supposed that their poverty, the tradition of devoting themselves to unworldly business and the fact that many of them were hereditary priests accounted for it. He dwelt on the things in common between Shinshu and Christianity and said that, next to the teaching of the head of the agricultural college in the prefecture, the preaching of a missionary had led him to work for the good of his village.

In my host's house in the evening someone happened to quote the proverb, "Richer after the fire." It means, of course, that after the fire the neighbours are so ready with help that the last state of the victim of the fire is better than the first. The view was expressed that hitherto charitable institutions of some Western patterns had not been so much needed in Japan as might be supposed. [48] "Those who go to Europe from Japan are indeed much surprised by the number of institutions to help people." Here, however, is the story of an institution coming into existence in a village: "There was a man who was thought to be rich, but he lived like a miser. His shoji were made of waste paper and his guests received tea only. So he was despised. But many years afterwards it was found that for a long time he had been collecting books. Then, to the surprise of everybody, he built a library for his Page 60 village. He is not at all proud of this and those who ridiculed him are now ashamed."

I was invited to a "Rural Life Exhibition." Some agricultural produce was shown, but three hundred of the exhibits were manuscript books or diagrams. One diagram illustrated the development in a particular county of the use of two bactericides, formalin and carbon bisulphide. The formalin was in use to the value of 2,000 yen. Then there was a wall picture, a sort of Japanese "The Child: What will he Become?" The good boy, aged fifteen, was shown spending his spare time in making straw rope to the value of 3 sen 3 rin nightly, with the result that after thirty years of such industry he became a rural capitalist who possessed 1,000 yen and lived in circumstances of dignity. In contrast with this virtuous career there was shown the rural rake's progress. A youth who was in the habit of laying out 3 sen 3 rin riotously in sweet-shops was proved to have wasted 1,000 yen in thirty years: the prodigal was justly exhibited fleeing from his home in debt.

One of the books on exhibition mentioned the volumes most in demand at some village library. I translate the titles:

Physical and Intellectual Training
About being Ambitious
The Housewife of a Peasant Family
The Management of a Farm
The Days when Statesmen were Boys
Culture and Striving
Essence of Rural Improvement
A Hundred Beautiful Stories
The Art of Composition
The Preparation of the Conscript
A Medical Treatise
A Translation of "Self-Help"
Nature and Human Life
The Glories of Native Places
Anecdotes concerning Culture
Lives of Distinguished Peasants
Mulberry Planting
Chinese Romances
Glories of this Peaceful Reign
Ninomiya Sontoku

Page 61 I noticed among the exhibits a short autobiography of a farmer, an engaging egoist who wrote:

"As a young man my will was not in study and though I used my wits I did many stupid things and the results were bad. Then I became a little awakened and for two years I studied at night with the primary school teacher. After that I thought to myself in secret, 'Shall I become a wise man in this village, or, by diligently farming, a rich man?' That was my spiritual problem. Then all my family gathered together and consulted and decided [49] that it would suit the family better if I were to become a rich man, and I also agreed. To accomplish that aim I increased my area under cultivation and worked hard day and night. I cut down the cryptomeria at my homestead and planted in their stead mulberries and persimmons. And I slowly changed my dry land into rice fields (making it therefore more valuable). The soil I got I heaped up at the homestead for eighteen years until I had 28,000 cubic feet. I was able then to raise the level of my house which had become damp and covered with mould. The increase of my cultivated area and of the yield per tan and the improvement of my house and the practice of economy were the delight of my life. I felt grateful to my ancestors who gave me such a strong body. Sometimes I kept awake all night talking with my wife about the goodness of my ancestors. Also when in bed I planned a compact homestead. I once read a Japanese poem, 'What a joy to be born in this peaceful reign and to be favoured by ploughs and horses.' (Most Japanese farming is done without either horses or ploughs.) It went deeply into my heart. Also I heard from the school teacher of four loves: love of State, love of Emperor, love of teacher and love of parent. I have been much favoured by those loves. I also heard the doctrines of Ninomiya: sincerity, diligence, moderate living, unselfishness. I felt it a great joy to live remembering those doctrines. I also went to the prefectural experiment station and studied fruit growing and my spirit was much expanded. I returned again to the station and the expert talked to me very earnestly. I asked for a special variety of persimmon. The expert sent to Gifu prefecture for it. I planted the tree and made its top into six grafts. It bore fruit and many passers-by envied it. Page 62 Two years after that I grafted five hundred trees and sold the grafted stock."

Several villages sent to the exhibition statistics of great interest. One village set forth the changes which had taken place in the social status of its inhabitants [50]. Some communities were represented by statements of their hours of labour [51]. One small community's tables showed how many of its inhabitants were "diligent people," how many "average workers" and how many "other people [52]." A county agricultural association had painstakingly collected information not only about the work done in a year [53] and the financial returns obtained by three typical farmers but about the way in which they spent what they earned. [54]

On my way back from the exhibition I heard the story of a priest. When fourteen years of age he obtained seeds of cryptomeria and planted them in a spot in the hills. He also practised many economies. When still in his teens he asked permission to take two shares in a 50-yen money-sharing club, but was not allowed to do so as no one would believe that he could complete his payments. He persisted, however, that he would be able to pay what was required and he was at length accepted as a member. At twenty he became priest of a small temple which was in bad repair and had a debt of 125 yen. He brought with him his 100 yen from the club and the young cryptomeria. He planted the trees in the temple grounds. He said, "I wish to rebuild the temple when these trees grow up." He cultivated the land adjoining his temple and contrived to employ several labourers. At last the cryptomeria grew large enough for his purpose and he rebuilt the temple, expending on the work not only his trees but 600 yen which he had by this time saved. Then he proceeded to bring waste land into cultivation. At the age of sixty-two he gave his temple to another priest and went to live in a hut on the waste land. There came a tidal wave near the place, so he went to the sufferers and invited five families Page 63 to his now cultivated waste land. He gave them each a tan of land and the material for building cottages and showed them how to open more land.

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A good judge expressed the opinion that Buddhism was flourishing in 80 per cent. of the villages of Aichi, but this was in a material and ceremonial sense. The prefectures of Aichi and Niigata had been called the "kitchens of Hongwanji" [55] (the great temple at Kyoto), such liberal contributions were forthcoming from them. "A belief in progress," this speaker said, "may be a substitute for religion for many of our people; another substitute is a belief in Japan." A village headman from the next prefecture (Shidzuoka) said: "People in my village do not omit to perform their Buddhist ceremonies, but they are not at their hearts religious. In our prefecture the influence of Ninomiya is greater than that of Buddhism. If the villagers are good it is Ninomiyan principles that make them so. Under Ninomiyan influence the spirit of association has been aroused, thriftiness has been encouraged and extravagance reprimanded."

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[Illustration: ]


I told Mr. Yamasaki one day that there was an old Scotswoman who divided good people into "rael Christians and guid moral fowk." What I was curious to know was what proportion of Japanese rural people might be fairly called "real Buddhists" and what proportion "good moral folk." "There are certainly some real Buddhists, not merely good moral folk," he assured me. "If you penetrate deeply into the lives of the people you will be able to find a great number of them. In ordinary daily life, during a period when nothing extraordinary happens, it is not easy to distinguish the two classes; but when any trouble comes then those real religious people are undismayed, while the ordinarily good moral people may sometimes go astray. The proportion of religious people is rather large among the poor compared with the middle and upper classes. These poor people are always weighted with many troubles which would be a calamity to persons Page 64 of the middle or upper classes. Such humble folk get support for their lives from what is in their hearts. Though they may suffer privation or loss they are glad that they can live on by the mercy of Buddha. There are some religious people even among those who are not poor. They are usually people who have lost some of their riches suddenly, or a dear child, or have been deprived of high position, or have met some kind of misfortune. Sometimes a man may become religious because he feels deeply the misfortunes or miseries of a neighbour or the miseries of war. Or his religion may come by meditation. A man who begins to be religious is not, however, at once noticed. On the contrary, if he is a true believer his daily life will be most ordinary."

One day I passed a primary school playground. The girls had just finished and the boys were beginning Swedish drill. Everyone engaged in the drill, including the master, was barefoot.

I saw that some of the cottages were built in an Essex fashion, of puddled clay and chopped straw faced with tarred boards. Some dwellings, however, were faced with straw instead of boards. They had just had their wall thatch renewed for the winter.

In one spot there was a quarter of a mile of wooden aqueduct for the service of the paddy fields. Much agricultural pumping is done in Aichi. I visited an irrigation installation where pumps (from London) were turning barren hill tops into paddy fields. [56] The work was being done by a co-operative society of 550 members who had borrowed the 40,000 yen they needed from a bank on an undertaking to repay in fifteen years.

It was stated that common paddy near Anjo had been bought at 5,000 yen per chō and not for building purposes. When one member of our company said, "The farmers here are rivalling each other in hard work," the weightiest authority among us replied: "What the farmer must do is to work not harder but better. At present he is not working on scientific principles. The hours he is spending on really profitable labour are not many. He must work Page 65 more rationally. In 26 villages in the south-west of Japan, where farming calls for much labour, it was found that the number of days' work in the year was only 192. Statistics for Eastern Japan give 186 days. [57] As to a secondary industry, one or two hours' work a night at straw rope making for a month may bring in a yen because the market for rope is confined to Japan. The same with zori, a coarse sort being purchasable for 2 sen a pair. But supplementary work like silk-worm culture produces an article of luxury for which there is a world market."

When we returned home my host was kind enough to summarise for me—the general reader may skip here—some of the reasons set forth by a professor of agricultural politics for the farmer's position being what it is:

  1. The average area cultivated per family is very small.
  2. The law of diminishing return.
  3. Imperfection of the agricultural system. Mainly crop raising, not a combination of crop and stock raising, as in England. No profitable secondary business but silkworm culture. Therefore the distribution of labour throughout the year is not good and the number of days of effective labour is relatively small.
  4. The commercial side of agriculture has not been sufficiently developed.
  5. There has been a rise in the standard of living. In the old days the farmer did not complain; he thought his lot could not be changed. He was forbidden to adopt a new calling and he was restricted by law to a frugal way of living. Now farmers can be soldiers, merchants or officials and can live as they please. They begin to compare their standard of living with that of other callings. What were once not felt to be miseries are now regarded as such.
  6. Formerly the farmer had not the expense of education and of losing the services of his sons to the army. There is also an increase in taxation. A representative family which incurred a public expenditure, not including education, of 12.86 yen in 1890, paid in 1898 19.68 yen. In 1908 it was faced by a claim for 34.28 yen. [58]
  7. Although the area of land does not increase in relation to the increase of population, the size of the peasant family is increasing owing to the decrease of infanticide and abortion and the development of sanitation.
  8. The farmer suffers from debts at high interest.
  9. The character, morality and ability of the farmer are not yet fully developed.
  10. Formerly the farmer lived an economically self-contained existence. He had no great need of money. He must now sell his produce on a market with wider and wider fluctuations.
  11. There are many expensive customs and habits, for instance the two or three days' feasting at weddings and funerals.

Page 66 During the evening I was told this story. In a village in a far part of the prefecture there lived a farmer called Yosōgi. He was a thrifty and diligent man. When he became old he gave all that he had to his son. But the old man could not stop working. He would go to the farm and help his son. The son did not like this. He wanted his old father to rest. In the end he found that the only way to cope with his industrious parent was to work very hard and leave him nothing to do. But the old man was not to be balked. He took himself off to the hillside and began to make a paddy field where there had never been a paddy field before. To make a paddy field on such a slope is a difficult task. The land must be embanked with stones and then levelled. The building of the strong embankment alone calls for much labour. The old man toiled very hard at his job and sometimes his son in despair sent his labourers to help him. At length the paddy field was finished. But it was only a tenth of a tan in area. When the son saw the small result of so much labour he said to his father, "I grieve for the way you have toiled. You have laboured hard for many days and my labourers have helped you, but all that has been accomplished is the making of a paddy field so small and distant that it is uneconomical."

To this the old man replied: "When you go to Tokyo and see the graveyard at Aoyama you will behold there many Page 67 monuments of generals and ministers of State. Their merits and their works in this world are described on those monuments. But do you know where the monument of the famous hero Kusunoki Masashige is? It is near Kobe, and it is not more than half as big as those monuments at Tokyo. Do you know where the monument of the great Taiko is? It is in Kyoto, but it is only recently that this monument was put up. Thus the monuments of our greatest heroes are small or have been erected recently. The reason is that it is unnecessary to raise big monuments for them because what they did in their lives was in itself their monument. They built their monument in the hearts of the people. Therefore we can never judge from the size of the monument the kind of work which was accomplished by the man who sleeps under it. Monuments are not only for ministers and warriors. We peasants can also erect monuments in our own way. To open a new paddy field, to plant the bare hillside with trees, these are our monuments. How lonely it would be for me if there were no monument left after my death. However small this paddy field may be, it will not be forgotten so long as it yields for your posterity the blessing of its rice crop." "Happily," the interpreter added, "the old man did not die so soon as he thought he would do. He lived for several years and planted the bare hillside with trees. Now the wood which grows there is worth 10,000 yen."

A peasant proprietor expressed the conviction that goodness in a family was "not the result of its own efforts but of the accumulation of ancestral effort." The "ancestral merits and good spirit remain in the family." On the problem of rich and poor he quoted the proverb, "The very rich cannot remain very rich for more than three generations; a poor family cannot long remain poor." He said that he would be interested to know what I found to be "the causes of our villagers becoming good or bad." "For ourselves," he said, quoting another proverb, "'At the foot of the lighthouse it is dark.'"


[47] See Appendix VII.

[48] See Appendix VIII.

[49] Family in the French sense.

[50] See Appendix IX.

[51] See Appendix X.

[52] See Appendix XI.

[53] See Appendix XII.

[54] See Appendix XIII.

[55] It was recently stated that the consent of the authorities was awaited for collections to the amount of 20 million yen, of which 13½ million were for the two Hongwanjis.

[56] For yields of new paddy, see Appendix XIV.

[57] See Appendix XII.

[58] It would be from 80 to 100 yen now.



Page 68




Toyo-ashiwara-no-chiiho-aki-mizuho-no-Kuni (Land of plenteous ears of rice in the plain of luxuriant reeds).

The vast difference between Far Eastern and Western agriculture is marked by the fact that, except by using such a phrase as shallow pond—and this is inadequate, because a pond has a sloping bottom and a rice field necessarily a level one—it is difficult to describe a rice field in terms intelligible to a Western farmer. The Japanese have a special word for a rice field, ta, water field, written [Kanji: ta]. It will be noticed that the ideograph looks like a water field in four compartments. Another word, hata or hatake, [59] written [Kanji: hata], tells the story of the dry or upland field. It is the ideograph for water field in association with the ideograph for fire, and, as we shall see later on, when we make acquaintance with "fire farming," an upland field is a tract the vegetation of which was originally burnt off.

Many of us have seen rice growing in Italy or in the United States. But in Japan[60] the paddies are very-much smaller than anything to be seen in the Po Valley and in Texas. Owing to the plentiful water supply of a mountainous land, cultivation proceeds with some degree of regularity and with a certain independence of the rainy season; and there has been applied to traditional rice farming not a few scientific improvements.

Page 69 There is a kind of rice with a low yield called upland rice which, like corn, is grown in fields. But the first requisite of general rice culture is water. The ordinary rice crop can be produced only on a piece of ground on which a certain depth of water is maintained.

In order to maintain this depth of water, three things must be done. The plot of ground must be made level, low banks of earth must be built round it in order to keep in the water, and a system of irrigation must be arranged to make good the loss of water by evaporation, by leakage and by the continual passing on of some of the water to other plots belonging to the same owner or to other farmers. The common name of a rice plot is paddy, and the rice with its husk on, that is, as it is knocked from the ear by threshing, is called paddy rice. The rice exported from Japan is some of it husked and some of it polished.

[Illustration: ]


Some 90 per cent. of the rice grown in Japan is ordinary rice. The remaining 10 per cent. is about 2 per cent. upland and 8 per cent, glutinous[61] —the sort used for making the favourite mochi (rice flour dumplings, which few foreigners are able to digest). It would be possible to collect in Japan specimens of rice under 4,000 different names, but, like our potato names, many of these represent duplicate varieties. Rice, again reminding us of potatoes, is grown in early, middle and late season sorts. [62]

Page 70 Just one-half of the cultivated area of Japan is devoted to paddy, but there is to be added to this area under rice more than a quarter million acres producing the upland rice, the yield of which is lower than that of paddy rice. The paddy and upland rice areas together make up more than a half of the cultivated land. The paddies which are not in situations favourable to the production of second crops of rice (they are grown in one prefecture only) are used, if the water can be drawn off, for growing barley or wheat or green manure as a second crop[63].

It is not only the Eastern predilection for rice and the wet condition of the country, but the heavy cropping power of the plant [64]—500 go per tan above barley and wheat yields—that makes the Japanese farmer labour so hard to grow it [65]. Intensively cultivated though Japan is, the percentage of cultivated land to the total area of the country is, however, little more than half that in Great Britain [66]. This is because Japan is largely mountains and hills. Level land for rice paddies can be economically obtained in many parts of such a country by working it in small patches only. There is no minimum size for a Japanese paddy. I have seen paddies of the area of a counterpane and even of the size of a couple of dinner napkins.

The problem is not only to make the paddy in a spot where it can be supplied with water, but to make it in such a way that it will hold all the water it needs. It must be level, or some of the rice plants will have only their feet wet while others will be up to their necks. The ordinary procedure in making a paddy is to remove the top soil, beat down the subsoil beneath, and then restore the top soil—there may be from 5 to 10 in. of it. But the best Page 71 efforts of the paddy-field builder may be brought to naught by springs or by a gravelly bottom. Then the farmer must make the best terms he can with fortune.

Paddies, as may be imagined from their physical limitations, are of every conceivable shape. There is assuredly no way of altering the shape of the paddies which are dexterously fitted into the hillsides. But large numbers of paddies are on fairly level ground. [67] There is no real need for these being of all sizes and patterns. They are what they are because of the degree to which their construction was conditioned by water-supply problems, the financial resources of those who dug them or the position of neighbours' land. And no doubt in the course of centuries there has been a great deal of swapping, buying and inheriting. So the average farmer's paddies are not only of all shapes and sizes but here, there and everywhere.

Therefore there arose wise men to point out that for a farmer to work a number of oddly shaped bits of land scattered all about the village was uneconomical and out of date. (Like the old English strip system which still survives in the Isle of Axholme.) So what was called an adjustment of paddy fields was carried out in many places. The farmers were persuaded to throw their varied assortment of fields into hotchpot and then to have the mass cut up into oblong fields of equal or relative sizes. These were then shared out according to what each man had contributed. In some cases a little compensation had to be given, for there were differences in the qualities as well as the areas of the holdings. But reasonable justice was eventually done all round, and ever afterwards a farmer, now that his holding was in adjoining tracts, might spend Page 72 his time working in his paddies instead of in walking to and from them. Because many unnecessary paths and divisions between paddies were done away with there was brought about a saving of labour and increased efficiency of cultivation. There was also a little more land to cultivate and the paddies were big enough for an ox or a pony to be employed in them, and the water supply was better and sufficiently under control for floods to be averted. [68] In brief, costs were lower and crops were better. [69]

Thus all over Japan nowadays one sees considerable tracts of adjusted paddy fields. They are a joy to the rural sociologist. In its way there has been nothing like it agriculturally in our time. For each of these little farmers valued his odds and ends of paddy above their agricultural worth. He or his forbears had made them or bought them or married into them. And he believed that his own paddies were in a condition of fertility surpassing not a few, and he doubted greatly whether after adjustment he would find himself in possession of as valuable land as his own. Sometimes also he believed that his paddies were especially fortunate geomantically. [70] Yet, convinced by the arguments for adjustment, the peasant agreed to the proposed rearrangement, let his old tracts go and accepted in exchange neat oblongs out of the common stock. Sometimes so great was the change brought about in a village by adjustment that more than the paddies were dealt with. Cottages were taken to new sites and the bones in many little grave plots were removed. In a village in which there had been an exhumation of the bones of 2,700 persons and a transference of tombstones, I was told that the assembling together of the remains of the departed in one place "had had a unifying effect on the Page 73 community." In this village within a period of twelve years 96 per cent. of the paddies had been adjusted. [71]

An advantage of adjustment which has not yet been mentioned is that adjusted paddies can usually be dried off at harvest and can therefore be put under a second crop, usually of grain. More than a third of the paddy-field area of the country can be dried off, and therefore produces a second crop of barley or wheat. The farmer has two advantages if, owing to adjustment or natural advantages, he is able to dry off his land. Of the first or rice crop, if he is a tenant farmer, he has had to pay his landlord perhaps 60 per cent, in rent, less straw;[72] but the second crop is his own. The further advantage is that second-crop land can be cultivated dry shod. One-crop paddy is under water all the year round, and must be cultivated with wet feet and legs.

It is because more than half the paddies are always under water that rice cultivation is so laborious. Think of the Western farm labourer being asked to plough and the allotment holder to dig almost knee-deep in mud. Although much paddy is ploughed with the aid of an ox, a cow or a pony,[73] most rice is the product of mattock or spade labour. There is no question about the severity of the labour of paddy cultivation. For a good crop it is necessary that the soil shall be stirred deeply.

Following the turning over of the stubble under water, comes the clod smashing and harrowing by quadrupedal or bipedal labour. It is not only a matter of staggering about and doing heavy work in sludge. The sludge is not clean dirt and water but dirty dirt and water, for it has been heavily dosed with manure, and the farmer is not fastidious as to the source from which he obtains it. [74] And the sludge Page 74 ordinarily contains leeches. Therefore the cultivator must work uncomfortably in sodden clinging cotton feet and leg coverings. Long custom and necessity have no doubt developed a certain indifference to the physical discomfort of rice cultivation. The best rice will grow only in mud and, except on the large uniform paddies of the adjusted areas, there is small opportunity for using mechanical methods.

One day when I went into the country it happened to be raining hard, but the men and women toiled in the paddies. They were breaking up the flooded clods with a tool resembling the "pulling fork" used in the West for getting manure from a dung cart. On other farms the task of working the quagmire was being done by two persons with the aid of a disconsolate pony harnessed to a rude harrow. The men and women in the paddies kept off the rain by means of the usual wide straw hats and loose straw mantles, admirable in their way in their combination of lightness and rainproofness. Often, besides the farmer's wife, a young widow or a young unmarried woman may be seen at work, but, as was once explained to me, "The old Miss is not frequent in Japan."[75]

Planting time arrives in the middle of June or thereabouts, when the paddy has been brought by successive harrowings into a fine tilth or rather sludge. It is illustrative of the exacting ways of rice that not only has it to have a growing place specially fashioned for it, it cannot be sown as cereals are sown. It must be sown in beds and then be transplanted. The seed beds have been sown in the latter part of April or the early part of May, according to the variety of rice and the locality.[76] The seeds have usually been selected by immersion in salt water and have been afterwards soaked in order to advance germination. There is a little soaking pond on every farm. By the use of this pond the period in which the seeds are exposed to the depredations of insects, etc., is diminished. The seed bed itself is about the width of an onion bed, in order that weeds and insect pests may be easily reached. Page 75 The seed bed is, of course, under water. The seed is dropped into the water and sinks into the mud. Within about thirty or forty days the seedlings are ready for transplanting. They have been the object of unremitting care. Weeds have been plucked out and insects have been caught by nets or trapped. There is a contrivance which, by means of a wheel at either end, straddles the seed bed, and is drawn slowly from one end to the other. It catches the insects as they hop or fly up.

In many localities specially fine varieties are grown for seed on the land of the Shinto shrines. In other localities special sorts are raised in ordinary paddies but surrounded by the rope and white paper streamers which represent a consecrated place. In not a few villages there are communal seed beds so that many farmers may grow the same variety, and there may be a considerable bulk for co-operative sale.

At transplanting time every member of the family capable of helping renders assistance. Friends also give their aid if it is not planting time for them too. The work is so engrossing that young children who are not at school are often left to their own devices. Sometimes they play by the ditch round the paddies and are drowned. Five such cases of drowning are reported from three prefectures on the day I write this. The suggestion is made that in the rice districts there should be common nurseries for farmers' children at planting time.

The rate at which the planters, working in a row across the paddy, set out the seedlings in the mud below the water, is remarkable. [77] The first weeding or raking takes place about a fortnight after planting. After that there are three more weedings, the last being about the end of August. All kinds of hoes are used in the sludge. They are usually provided with a wooden or tin float. But most of the weeding is done simply by thrusting the hand into the mud, pulling out the weed and thrusting it back into the sludge to rot. The back-breaking character of this work may be imagined. As much of it is done in the hottest time of the year the workers protect themselves by wide-brimmed Page 76 hats of the willow-plate pattern and by flapping straw cloaks or by bundles of straw fastened on their backs.

A sharp look-out must be kept for insects of various sorts. In more than one place I saw the boys and girls of elementary schools wading in the paddies and stroking the young rice with switches in order to make noxious insects rise. The creatures were captured by the young enthusiasts with nets. The children were given special times off from school work in which to hunt the rice pests and were encouraged to bring specimens to school.

There is no greater delight to the eye than the paddies in their early green, rippled and gently laid over by the wind. (One should say greens, for there is every tint from the rather woe-begone yellowish green of the newly planted out rice to the happy luxuriant dark green of the paddies that have long been enjoying the best of quarters.) As harvest time approaches, [78] the paddies, because they are not all planted with the same variety of rice, are in patches of different shades. Some are straw colour, some are reddish brown or almost black. A poet speaks of the "hanging ears of rice." Rice always seems to hang its head more than other crops. It is weaker in the straw than barley, but rice frequently droops not only because of its natural habit, but because it has been over-manured or wrongly manured or because of wind or wet.

Beyond wind,[79] insects and drought, floods are the enemies of rice. When the plants are young, three or four days' flooding do not matter much, but in August, when the ears are shooting, it is a different matter. The sun pours down and soon rots the rice lying in the warm water. Sometimes the farmer, by almost withdrawing the water from his paddies, raises the temperature of the soil with benefit to the crop.

The farmer is fortunate who is able to get the water completely out of his paddies by the time harvest arrives, Page 77 but, as we have seen, two-thirds of the paddies must be harvested in sludge. Many crops are muddied before they can be cut. Sometimes on the eve of harvest the farmer wades in and tries, by arranging the fallen stems across one another, to keep some of the ears out of the water. But he is not very successful. Rice may lie in the wet a week or even the best end of a fortnight without serious damage. But all that this means is that within the period specified it may not sprout. It must be damaged to some extent even by a few days' immersion. The reason why it is not damaged more than it is is no doubt, first, because rice is a plant which has been brought up to take its chances with water, and in the second place because the thing which is known to the housewife as rice is not really the grain at all but the interior of the grain.

Western farmers are hard put to it when their grain crops are beaten down by wind and rain; Japanese agriculturists, because they gather their harvest with a short sickle, do not find a laid crop difficult to cut. But these harvesters are very muddy indeed. When the rice is cut and the sheaves are laid along the low mud wall of the paddy they are still partly in the sludge. We know how miserable a wet harvest is at home, but think of the slushy harvest with which most Japanese farmers struggle every year of their lives. The rice grower, although year in and year out he has the advantage of a great deal of sunshine, seldom gets his crop in without some rain. How does he manage to dry his October and November rice? By means of a temporary fence or rack which he rigs up in his paddy field or along a path or by the roadside. On this structure the sheaves are painstakingly suspended ears down. Sometimes he utilises poles suspended between trees. These trees, grown on the low banks of the paddies, have their trunks trimmed so that they resemble parasols.

When the sheaves are removed in order to be threshed on the upland part of the holding, they are carried away at either end of a pole on a man's shoulder or are piled up on the back of an ox, cow or pony. The height of the pile under which some animals stagger up from the paddies gives one a vivid conception of "the last straw."

Page 78 Threshing is usually done by a man, woman, girl or youth taking as many stems as can be easily grasped in both hands and drawing the ears, first one way and then another, through a horizontal row of steel teeth. The flail is not used for threshing rice but is employed for barley. Another common way of knocking out grain is by beating the straw over a table or a barrel. There are all sorts of cheap hand-worked threshing machines. After the threshing of the rice comes the winnowing, which may be done by the aid of a machine but is more likely to be effected in the immemorial way, by one person pouring the roughly threshed ears from a basket or skep while another worker vigorously fans the grain. The result is what is known as paddy rice. The process which follows winnowing is husking. This is done in the simplest possible form of hand mill. Before husking the rice grain is in appearance not unlike barley and it is no easy matter to get its husk off. The husking mill is often made of hardened clay with many wooden teeth on the rubbing surface. After husking there is another winnowing. Then the grains are run through a special apparatus of recent introduction called mangoku doshi, so that faulty ones may be picked out. The result is unpolished rice.

It looks grey and unattractive, and unfortunately the unprepossessing but valuable outer coat is polished away. This is done in a mortar hollowed out of a section of a tree trunk or out of a large stone. One may see a young man or a young woman pounding the rice in the mortar with a heavy wooden beetle or mallet. Often the beetle is fastened to a beam and worked by foot. Or the polishing apparatus may be driven by water, oil or steam power. Constantly in the country there are seen little sheds in each of which a small polishing mill driven by a water wheel is working away by itself. After the polishing, the mangoku doshi is used again to free the rice from the bran. This polished rice is still further polished by the dealer, who has more perfect mills than the farmer.

[Illustration: ]


The farmer pays his rent not in the polished but in the husked rice. At the house of a former daimyo I saw an Page 79 instrument which the feudal lord's bailiff was accustomed to thrust into the rice the tenants tendered. If when the instrument was withdrawn more than three husks were found adhering, the rice was returned to be recleaned. There are names for all the different kinds of rice. For instance, paddy rice is momi; husked rice is gemmai; half-polished rice is hantsukimai; polished rice is hakumai; cooked rice is gohan.

[Illustration: ]


[Illustration: ]


A century ago the farmer ate his rice at the gemmai stage, that is in its natural state, and there was no beri-beri. The "black saké" made from this gemmai rice is still used in Shinto ceremonies. In order to produce clear saké the rice was polished. Then well-to-do people out of daintiness had their table rice polished. Now polished rice is the common food. Half-polished rice may be prepared with two or three hundred blows of the mallet; fully polished or white rice may receive six, seven or eight hundred, or even it may be a thousand blows.


[59] Hata (upland field) is not to be confounded with hara (prairie, wilderness, moor, often erroneously translated, plain).

[60] Rice is grown in every prefecture. The largest total yields are in Niigata, Hyogo, Fukuoka, Aichi, Yamagata, Ibariki and Chiba.

[61] See Appendix XV.

[62] The average yield of the three kinds at Government experimental farms—the middle variety yields best and next comes the late variety—is about 2½ koku per tan or roughly (a koku being about 5 bushels and a tan about a quarter of an acre) about 45 bushels per acre. The average yield of ordinary rice in Japan in an ordinary year is 40¾ bushels. In the bumper year of 1920 the average yield was 41⅓ bushels. In the year 1916 (to which most of the figures in this book, apart from the Appendix and footnotes, in which the latest available figures are given, refer) there was produced 58¼ million koku of all kinds of rice, the value of which was 826½ million yen. The normal yield (average of 7 years, excluding the years of highest and lowest production) is 54½ million koku. See Appendix XV.

[63] For wheat and barley crops, see Appendix XVI.

[64] A few rice plants may be seen growing at Kew.

[65] The cost of the rice crop and the income it yields are discussed in Appendix XVII.

[66] See Appendix XVIII.

[67] In Japanese rural statistics the word plain may be said to mean a tract of land which is neither cultivated nor timbered nor used for the purposes of habitation. Sometimes it is called prairie, but this is not always correct as it is very often a barren waste,a tract of volcanic ash, or an area producing bamboo grass. Some of this land, however, could be cultivated after proper irrigation, etc. In this note, plains is employed in the ordinary acceptation of the word. Of such plains there are several. The plain in which Tokyo is situated is 82,000 acres in extent. The traveller from Kobe to Tokyo passes through the Kinai plain in which Kobe, Kyoto and Osaka stand. It is said to feed 2½ million people. Four other plains are reputed to feed 7½ million.

[68] Rivers supply about 65 per cent. of the paddy water and reservoirs about 21 per cent. The remainder has to be got from other sources.

[69] An acreage of a tan is aimed at, but it is frequently larger; it may even be 4 tan (an acre). The cost ranges from about 8 yen to 50 yen per tan. The average increase in yield alter adjustment is about 15 per cent., to which must be added the yield of the new land obtained, say 3 per cent. of the area adjusted. The consent of half the owners is required for adjustment.

[70] Once when a friend in Tokyo had trouble with her servants a maid informed her that the house was unlucky because a certain necessary apartment faced the wrong point of the compass.

[71] In the whole of Japan by 1919 two million and a half acres had been adjusted or were in course of adjustment.

[72] The rent is usually 57 per cent. of the rice harvest in the paddies and 44 per cent. (in cash or kind) of the crops on the non-paddy land. Any crop raised in the paddies between the harvesting of one rice crop and the planting out of the next belongs to the farmer. (All taxes and rates are paid by the landlord, and amount to from 30 to 33 per cent. of the rent.) The area under paddy and the area of upland under cultivation are almost equal.

[73] See Appendix XIX.

[74] See Appendix XX.

[75] In 1920 there were 38,922,437 males and 38,083,073 females.

[76] See Appendix XXI.

[77] See Appendix XXII.

[78] The harvest extends from mid-September in the north of Japan to the end of October or beginning of November in the south. The harvest is taken early in the north for fear of frost.

[79] The "210th day" (counted from the beginning of spring), when flowering commences, is so critical a period that the weather conditions during the twenty-four hours in every prefecture are reported to the Emperor.



Page 80



I thank whatever gods there be....—Henley


How many people who have not been in the East or in the rice trade realise that rice, in the course of the polishing it receives from the farmer and the dealer, loses nearly half its bulk? A necessary part of the grain is lost. No wonder that sensible people in Japan and the West demand the grey unpolished rice. In Japan some enterprising person has started selling bottled stuff made from the part of the rice grain that is rubbed off in the polishing process. It does not look appetising. An easier thing would be to leave some of the coating on the rice. One thinks of what Smollett said of white bread:

"They prefer it to wholesome bread because it is whiter. Thus they sacrifice their health to a most absurd gratification of a misjudging eye, and the tradesman is obliged to poison them in order to live."

Although, for economy's sake, a considerable amount of barley is eaten with or instead of rice, it may be said in a general way that the Japanese people, like so many millions of other Asiatics, have rice for breakfast, rice for lunch and rice for dinner. If they have anything to eat between meals it is as like as not to be rice cakes—- to the foreigner's taste a loathly, half-cooked compost of rice flour or pounded rice and water, a sort of tepid underdone muffin. We in the West have bread at every meal as the Japanese have rice, but we eat our bread not only as plain bread but as toast and bread-and-butter; we also ring the changes on brown, white and oat bread.

Among the covered lacquer dishes on the little table set Page 81 before each kneeling breakfaster, luncher or diner in Japan there is one which is empty. This is the rice bowl. When the meal begins—or in the case of an elaborate dinner at the rice course—the maid brings in a large covered wooden copper-bound or brass-bound tub or round lacquered box of hot rice. This rice she serves with a big wooden spoon, the only spoon ever seen at a Japanese meal. A man may have three helpings or four in a bowl about as big as a large breakfast cup. The etiquette is that, though other dishes may be pecked at, the rice in one's bowl must be finished. The usage on this point may have originated in the feeling that it was almost impious to waste the staple food of the country. It is not difficult to pick up the last rice grains with the wooden hashi (chopsticks), for the rice is skilfully boiled. (Soft rice is served to invalids only.) But when the bowl is almost empty the custom is to pour into it weak tea or hot water, and then to drink this, so getting rid of the odd grains. It is through omitting to drink in this way that foreigners get indigestion when at a Japanese meal they eat a lot of rice.

At first it is not easy for the foreigner to believe that people can come with appetite to several bowls of plain rice three times a day.[80] But good rice does seem to have something of the property of oatmeal, the property of a continual tastiness. Further, the rice eater picks up now and then from a small saucer a piece of pickle which may have either a salty or a sweet fermented taste. The nutrition gained at a Japanese meal is largely in soups in which the bean preparations, tofu and miso, and occasionally eggs, are used. And there is no country in the world where more fish is eaten than in Japan. The coast waters and rivers team with fish, and fish—fresh, dried and salted, shell-fish and fish unrecognisable as fish after all sorts of ingenious treatment—is consumed by almost everybody.

The Japanese are in no doubt that the foreign rice which is brought into the country to supplement the home supply is inferior to their own.[81] Inferior means that they Page 82 prefer the flavour of their own rice, just as most Scots prefer oatmeal made from oats grown in Scotland.


In the year of the Coronation—it took place three years after the Emperor's accession—two prefectures had the honour of being chosen to produce the rice to be placed before gods, Emperor and dignitaries at Kyoto. The work was not undertaken without ceremony. I was a witness of the rites performed at the planting of the rice in one of the prefectures. Plots had been prepared with enormous care. Along the top of the special fencing were the Shinto straw bands and paper streamers. A small shrine had been built to overlook the plots. Even the instruments of the little meteorological station near, by which the management of the crop would be guided, were surrounded by straw bands and streamers—religion protecting science. The mattocks and other implements which had been used in the preparation of the paddy or were to be used in getting in the crops and in cultivating, harvesting, threshing and cleaning it were all new. Even the herring which had manured the plot had been "specially selected and blessed." Further, there was a special bath-house where the young men and women who were to plant the rice had washed ceremonially at an early hour.

We had reached the spot through a crowd of twenty or thirty thousand people who were gathering to witness the ceremony. A covered platform had been built in front of the rice field shrine, and on either side were large roofed-in spaces for some scores of Shinto priests and the favoured spectators. The ceremony lasted two hours. It carried us magically away from a Japan of frock coats to Japan of a thousand, it may be two thousand years ago. Between the wail of ancient wood and wind instruments and the cinema operators who missed nothing external and some bored top-hatted spectators who furtively puffed a cigarette before the ceremony came to an end, [82] what a gulf! Page 83 Platter after platter of food, sometimes rice, sometimes vegetables, sometimes fruit, sometimes a big fish, was passed by one priest to another in the sunlight until all the offerings were reverently placed by a special dignitary on one of those unpainted, unvarnished, undecorated but exquisitely proportioned altars which are an artistic glory of Shintoism. The shrine was wholly open on the side of the rice field, and the high priest was in full view as he stood before the altar with bowed head and folded hands, his robe caught by the breeze, and delivered in a loud voice his zealous invocation. His words were stressed not only by an acolyte who twanged the strings of a venerable harp, but by the song of a lark which rose with the first strains of the harpist. The purpose of the ceremony was to call down the gods and to gain their blessing for the crop and the new reign. At the moment of highest solemnity the thousands assembled bowed their heads: the gods were deigning to descend and accept the offering. More ancient music, more ceremonial, and the gods having been called upon to return to high heaven, the laden platters were gravely removed, and the rice planting in the adjoining field began. To the sound of drum the young men and women in special costumes strode through the wicket into the mud of the paddies, and, under the supervision of the director of the prefectural agricultural experiment station in a silk hat, planted out the tufts of rice seedlings in scrupulously measured rows.

I asked a distinguished Japanese who was standing near me—he is a Christian—how many of the educated people in the assembly believed that the gods had descended. His answer was, "I may not believe that the gods of a truth descended, but I find something beautiful in calling on the gods with a harp of Old Japan, and I do believe that our humble and natural offering to-day may be acceptable to whatever gods there may be and that it is a worthy exercise for us to undertake and may also be conducive to a good harvest." My friend attempted the following rough rendering of a song which had been sung by the rice planters before the shrine:

Page 84

This day the beginning of sowing at an auspicious time— Long life to the rice! May it be a token of the years of the Reign, The seed of peace for the world— May it start from this consecrated field! One in heart we see to it that our seedlings are well matched. Mikawa's[83] millennium and the millennium of rice. Let us pray for an abundant shooting. Now let us plant the seedlings straight; Pleasing to the gods are the ways that are not crooked.

After this ceremony, in which the staple crop of the country and the labour of the farmer in his paddy field had been honoured by the State and dignified by ancestral blessings, there was luncheon in one of those deftly contrived reed-covered structures, of the building of which the Japanese have the knack, and the Governor asked some of us to say a few words. Then on a raised platform in the open there was enacted a comic interlude such as might have been seen in England in the Middle Ages. In the evening I was bidden to a dinner of the officials responsible for the day's doings. The Governor made a kindly reference to my labours and the local M.P. presented me with a kimono length of the cotton material which had been woven for the planters of the sacred rice.


The production of rice has increased more quickly than the growth of the population. If we consider, along with the advance in population, the crops of the years 1882 and 1913, which were held to be average, and, in order to be as up-to-date as possible, the normal annual yield[85] of the five-years period 1912-18, we find that, as between 1882 and 1913, the population increased 45 per cent. and rice production increased 63 per cent., while as between 1882 and the normal annual yield period of 1912-18, the population increased 55 per cent, and the crop 75 per cent. [86]

Page 85 This is a noteworthy fact. But equally noteworthy is the fact that in the 1882-1913 period, in which the production of rice increased 63 per cent. and the population only 45 per cent., the price of rice did not fall. On the contrary it rose. This was due largely [87] to the fact that people had begun to eat rice who had not before been able to afford it. Many people who grow rice eat, as has been noted, barley or barley mixed with a little rice. From the 'eighties onwards more and more rice was eaten. [88]

The reason was that, what with the cash obtained from cocoons through the enormous development of sericulture, [89] what with the money received by the girls who had gone to the factories, what with the growth of big cities causing an increased demand for vegetables, eggs and especially fruit at good prices, what with the use of better seed and more artificial manure, what with agricultural co-operation, paddy-field adjustment and the taking-in of new land, the farmer, in spite of increased taxation, [90] was doing better, or at any rate was minded to live better. In the thirty-years period 1882-1913, his crop increased 63 per cent. although his area under cultivation increased by only 17 per cent. In the following pages we shall hear more of the methods by which the farmer's receipts have been increased. We shall hear also, alas! of the ways in which his expenditure has increased. He is indeed in a trying situation. Everything depends on his character and education and on the influences, social and political, moral and religious, under which he lives. That is why this book, in devoting itself to an examination of the foundations of an agricultural country, is concerned with rural sociology rather than with the technique of crops and cropping.

The outstanding problem of the rice grower is fluctuations in price.[91] It is also the problem of the landlord, for rents are fixed not at so much money but at so many koku of Page 86 rice. This means that on rent day the farmer must pay the same amount of rice whether his crop has been good or bad. It also means that when the price of rice rises the amount of rent is automatically raised. If rent were paid, not in so many koku of rice but in money at a fixed amount, the landlord would know where he was and the tenant would be in an easier position, for when the rice crop failed the price would be high and he would be able to meet his rent by selling a smaller amount of rice. The counsel of the prudent to the rice producer is to build storehouses and not to sell the whole of his crop immediately after harvest, but to extend the sale over the whole year, marketing each month about the same amount if possible. The Government Granary plan came into force in 1921, some 3 million koku of unpolished rice being bought in five grades at from 27 yen to 33 yen. In the year before the War rice was selling at 20 yen per koku (5 bushels). The previous year (1912) it had been 21 yen—had risen at times to 23 yen—an unheard-of price. Between 1894 and 1912 it had climbed merely from about 7 yen to a maximum of 16 yen. [92] In the year in which the War broke out, it dropped as low as 12 yen, and in 1915 it was only 11 yen. By 1916 it had not risen beyond 14 yen.

The fall in prices was due to exceptional harvests in 1914 and 1915 (that is, 57,006,541 koku and 55,924,590 koku as compared with the 50,255,000 koku of the year before the War, or the 51,312,000 which may be taken as the average of the seven-years period 1907-13). Such exceptional harvests as those of 1914 and 1915 showed a surplus of from 4½ to 6 million koku over and above the needs of the country, which are roughly estimated at 1 koku per head including infants and the old and feeble. In 1916 it was established, when account was taken of stored rice, that the actual surplus was something like 6 or 7 million koku. Therefore a fall in price took place. The extent to which rice is imported and exported is shown in Appendix XXIV. This Chapter would become much more technical than is necessary if I entered into the question of the correctness of rice statistics. Roughly, the Page 87 statistics show a production 15 per cent. less than the actual crops. Formerly the under-estimation was 20 per cent. The practice has its origin in the old taxation system.

The notes for the account of rural life in Japan which will be found in this book were chiefly made in the second and third years of the War. Since that time there has been an enormous rise in the price of everything. For a time the farmers prospered as they had prospered in the high rice-price years, 1912-13. [93] The high prices of all grain as well as the fabulous price of raw silk (due to increased export to America and to increased home consumption) were a great advantage.

[Illustration: ]


Then came the rice riots of the city workers, the general slump and finally the commercial and industrial crash. Raw silk fell nearly to one-third of its top price, and farmers had to sell cocoons under the cost of production. Everywhere countrymen and countrywomen employed in Page 88 the factories were discharged in droves. A large proportion of these unfortunates returned to their villages to dispel some rural dreams of urban Eldorado.

But this matter of the going up and coming down of prices has but a passing interest for the reader. The only economic fact of which he need lay hold is that in recent years the farmers have been led into the way of spending more money—in taxation as well as in general expenses of living—and that, when account is taken of every advantage they have gained from better methods of production, they have pressing on them the limitations imposed by the size of their farms and their farming practice. Whatever the prices obtained for the: products of the soil, climatic facts, [94] the character and social condition of the people, their attitude towards life and authority and the attitude of authority towards them remain very much the same. And thus a narrative of things seen and heard chiefly during the first years of the War is not at all out of date even if it were not supplemented as it is by a plentiful supply of notes containing the latest statistical data.

There is one curious exception only. The reader of these pages will constantly come on references to the poverty of the tenant farmers. They are, of course, practically labourers, for they cultivate two or three acres only, and at the end of the year, as has been shown, have merely a trifle in hand and sometimes not that. Influenced by the labour movement, which developed in the industrial centres during and after the War, [95] this depressed class has of late shown spirit. It has begun to assert its claims against landowners. At the end of 1920 there were as many as ninety associations of tenant farmers, and sixty of these had been started for the specific purpose of representing tenants' interests against landowners. Strikes of tenants began and continue. The end of this movement of a proverbially conservative class is not at all certain. [96]

The outstanding facts which are to be borne in mind about agricultural Japan are that the population is as Page 89 thick on the ground as the population of the British Isles (thicker in reality, for so much of Japan is mountain and waste)—ten times thicker than the population of the United States [97]—that Japan is primarily an agricultural country, while Great Britain is largely a manufacturing and trading country, and that only 15½ per cent. of Japan proper (including Hokkaido) is under cultivation against 27 per cent. in Great Britain.[98] The average area cultivated per farming family in Japan, counting paddy and upland together, is less than 3 acres. As the total population of Japan is now (1921) 56 millions (55,960,150 in 1920, plus the annual increase of 600,000), every acre has to feed close on four persons. ("Even in Hokkaido," Dr. Sato notes, "the average area per family is only 7½ acres.") Happily the number of families cultivating less than 1¼ acres is decreasing and the number cultivating from 1¼ up to 5 acres is increasing. [99] In other words, the favourite size of farm is one which finds work for all the members of the farmer's family. As on small holdings all over the world, it is found that profits are difficult to make when help has to be paid for. The facts that in the last four years for which figures are available the number of farming families keeping silk-worms has risen by half a million and that every year the area of land under cultivation increases show that new ways of increasing income are eagerly seized on.


[80] For estimate of daily consumption of rice by Japanese, see Appendix XXIII.

[81] For statistics of imported and exported rice, see Appendix XXIV.

[82] Japanese. I was the only foreigner present.

[83] The old name for a considerable part of Aichi

[84] This section of the chapter was written in 1921.

[85] For the way in which "normal yield" is arrived at, see p. 70.

[86] See Appendix XXV.

[80] War with China, 1894; with Russia, 1904.

[88] For farmers' diet, see Appendix XXVI.

[89] Farmers in sericultural districts live better than the ordinary rice farmers.

[90] See Appendix XXVII.

[91] See Appendix XXVIII.

[92] For prices, see Appendix XVII.

[93] The rise in prices towards the close of the War, with the rise in the cost of living throughout the world, has been discussed on page xxv.

[94] See Appendix XXIX.

[95] See Chapter XX.

[96] Recent figures show 400 tenants' associations, of which a third are militant.

[97] See Appendix XXX and page 97.

[98] See Chapter XX.

[99] See Appendix XXXI.



Page 90




The signification of this gift of life, that we should leave a better world for our successors, is being understood.—Meredith

To some people in Japan the countryman Kanzō Uchimura is "the Japanese Carlyle." To others he is a religious enthusiast and the Japanese equivalent of a troubler of Israel. He appeared to me in the guise of a student of rural sociology.

Uchimura is the man who as a school teacher "refused to bow before the Emperor's portrait." [100] He endured, as was to be expected, social ostracism and straitened means. But when his voice came to be heard in journalism it was recognised as the voice of a man of principle by people who heard it far from gladly. There is a seamy side to some Japanese journalism [101] and Uchimura soon resigned his editorial chair. He abandoned a second editorship because he was determined to brave the displeasure of his Page 91 countrymen by opposing the war with Russia. To-day he deplores many things in the relations of Japan and China.

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Uchimura has written more than two dozen books, mostly on religion. How I became a Christian has been translated into English, German, Danish, Russian and Chinese, and is to that extent a landmark in the literary history of Japan. His Christianity is an Early Christianity which places him in antagonism, not only to his own countrymen who are Shintoists, Buddhists or Confucians, or vaguely Nationalists, but to such foreign missionaries as are sectarians and literalists. His earliest training was in agricultural science, and the welfare of the Japanese countryside is near his heart. If he be a Carlyle, as his fibre and resolution, downright way of writing and speaking, hortatory gift, humour, plainness of life and dislike of officials, no less than his cast of countenance, his soft hat and long gaberdine-like coat Page 92 have suggested, he is a Carlyle who is content to stay both in body and mind at Ecclefechan. He is not, however, like Carlyle, whom he calls "master," a peasant, but a samurai.

"As you penetrate into the lives of the farmers and discover the influences brought to bear on them," Uchimura said to me in his decisive way, "there will be laid bare to you the foundations of Japan. You know our proverb, of course, No wa kuni no taihon nari ('Agriculture is the basis of a nation')? Have you been to Nikko?" This seemed a little inconsequent, but I told him I had not yet been to Nikko. ("Until you have seen Nikko," runs the adage, "do not say 'splendid'.") "How many of the tourists who are delighted with Nikko," he went on, "have heard how the richest farms near that town were devastated? A century ago a minister of the Shogun, who realised that fertility depended on trees, saw to the whole range of Nikko hills being afforested. It was a tract twenty miles by twenty miles in extent. But the 'civilised' authorities of our own days sold all the timber to a copper company for 8,000 yen. The company destroyed the fertility of the district not only by cutting down the forest but by poisoning the water with which the farmers irrigated their crops. A member of Parliament gave himself with such devotion to the cause of the ruined farmers that when he died the ashes of his cremated body were divided and preserved in four shrines erected to his memory."

It was a sad thing, said Uchimura, that the farmers of Japan, because of the decreased fertility of the land due to the denudation of the hills of trees, and because of their increased expenses, should be laying out "a quarter of their incomes on artificial manures." "The enemies which Japan has most to fear to-day," Uchimura declared, "are impaired fertility and floods."

It may be well, perhaps, to explain for a few readers how floods do their ill work. The rain which falls on treeless mountains is not absorbed there. The water washes down the mountain sides, bringing with it first good soil and then subsoil, stones and rock. The hills eventually become those peaked deserts the queer look of which must Page 93 have puzzled many students of Japanese pictures. The debris washed away is carried into the rivers, along with trees from the lower slopes, and the level of the river beds is raised. Because there is less space in the river beds for water the rivers overflow their banks, and disastrous floods take place. The farmers, the local authorities and the State raise embankments higher and higher, but embankment building is costly and cannot go on indefinitely. The real remedy is to decrease the supply of water by planting forests in the mountains[102] . In many places the rivers are flowing above the level of the surrounding country. The imagination is caught by the fact that there are four earthquakes a day in Japan [103] and that within a twelvemonth fires destroy 400 acres or so of buildings; but every year, on an average, floods, tidal waves and typhoons together drown more than 600 people and cause a money loss of 25 million yen! Every year 10½ million yen are spent by the State and the prefectures on river control alone.

Uchimura put on his famous wideawake and we went out for a walk. "I should like," he said, "to press the view that the vaunted expansion of Japan has meant to the farmers an increase of prices and taxes and of armaments out of all proportion to our population [104]."

Uchimura stood stock still in the little wood we had entered. "There is one thing more," he added gravely. "Before you can get deeply into your subject you must touch religion. There you see the depths of the people. A large part of the deterioration of the countryside is due to the deterioration of Buddhism. You must ask about it. You will see in the villages much of what your old writers used to call 'priestcraft.' You will hear of the thraldom of many of the people. You will see with your own eyes Page 94 that real Christianity may be a moral bath for a rural district."

"The essentials, not the forms of Christianity," he declared, would save the countryside by "brotherly union." "Brotherly union" would make a better life and a better agriculture. The rural class, he explained, was more sharply divided than foreigners understood into owners of land who lived on their rents and farmers who farmed [105]. The division between the two classes was "as great as an Indian caste division." "To the landowner who lives in his village like a feudal lord the simple Gospel, with its insistence on the sacredness of work, comes as an intellectual revolution." Women as well as men of means received from Christianity "a new conception of humanity." They ceased to "look upon their own glory and to take delight in the flattery of poor people." They changed their way of speaking to the peasants. They developed an interest, of which they knew nothing before, in the spiritual and material betterment of the men, women and children of their village.

I went a two-days journey into the country with Uchimura. We stayed at the house of a landowner who was one of his adherents. I found myself in a large room where two swallows were flitting, intent on building on a beam which yearly bore a nest. In this room stood a shrine containing the ancestral tablets. The daily offerings were no longer made, but Uchimura's counsel, unlike that of some zealots, was to preserve not only this shrine but the large family shrine in the courtyard. Near by was an engraving of Luther.

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Uchimura spoke in the house to some thirty or more "people of the district who had accepted Christianity." His appeal was to "live Christianity as given to the world by its founder." The address, which was delivered from an arm-chair, was based on the fifth chapter of Matthew, which in the preacher's copy appeared to contain cross-references to two disciples called Tolstoy and Carlyle. When I was asked to speak I found that the women in the gathering had places in front. "The remarkable effect of Page 95 Christianity among those who have come to think with us," Uchimura told me afterwards, "is seen most in their treatment of women. Our host, had he not been a Christian, would have been credited by public opinion with the possession of a concubine, and would not have been blamed for it." When, after the speaking, we knelt in a circle and talked less formally of how best to benefit rural people, we were joined by the women folk. Later, when a dozen of the neighbours were invited to dinner, it was not served at separate tables for each kneeling guest, but at one long table, an innovation "to indicate the brotherly relation."

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"So you see," said Uchimura, as we walked to the station in the morning, "in an antiquated book, which, I suppose, stands dusty on the shelves of some of your reformers, there is power to achieve the very things they aim at." He went on to explain that he looked "in the lives of hearers, not in what they say," for results from his teaching. He believed in liberty and freedom, in sowing the seed of change and reform and allowing people to develop as they would. "Let men and women believe as they have light."

He spoke in his kindly way of how "the bond of a common faith enables Japanese to get closer to the foreigner and the foreigner closer to the Japanese." There were many things we foreigners did not understand. We did not understand, for example, that "A man's a man for a' that" was an unfamiliar conception to a Japanese. I was to remember, when I interrogated Japanese about the problems of rural life, that they had had to coin a word for "problems." Above all, I must be careful not to "exaggerate the quality of Eastern morality." Uchimura asserted sweepingly that "morality in the Anglo-Saxon sense is not found in Japan." We of the West underrated the value of the part played by the Puritans in our development. Our moral life had been evolved by the soul-stirring power of the Hebrew prophets and of Christ. To deny this was "kicking your own mother." Just as it was not possible for the Briton or American to get his present morality from Greece and Rome exclusively, it was not possible for the Japanese to obtain it from the sources at his disposal.

Page 96 The faults of the Eastern were that he thought too much of outward conduct. Good political and neighbourly-relations, kindliness, honesty and thrift were his idea of morality. "To love goodness and to hate evil with one's whole soul is a Christian conception for which you may search in vain through heathendom." The horror which the Western man of high character felt when he thought of the future of the little girls in attendance on geisha was not a horror generated by Plato. "Heathen life looks nice on the outside to foreigners," but Confucianism, Buddhism and Shintoism had all been weak in their attitude towards immorality. It was Christianity alone which controlled sexual life. Without deep-seated love of and joy in goodness and deep-seated horror of evil it was impossible to reform society.

Uchimura said that it had taken him thirty years to reach the conviction that the best way of raising his countrymen was by preaching the religion of "a despised foreign peasant." Many things he had been told by exponents of Christianity now seemed "very strange," but there remained in the first four books of the New Testament, in the essence of Christianity, principles "which would give new life to all men." Moved by this belief, Uchimura and his friends gave their lives to the work of the Gospel, to a work attended by humiliations; "but this is our glory."

Japanese civilisation, he reiterated, was "only good in the sense that Greek and Roman civilisations were good." Modern Japan represented "the best of Europe minus Christianity; the moral backbone of Christianity is lacking." "Probe a dozen Buddhist priests in turn," he said, "and you find something lacking; you don't find the Buddhist or Confucian really to be your brother [106]."

Page 97 "The greatness of England," he went on, "is not due to the inherent greatness of the English people, but to the greatness of the truths which they have received." In considering the sources of national greatness, it was idle to believe that some peoples were original and some not original in their ideas and methods. Where were the people to be found who were without extraneous influence? Where would England be without Greek philosophy, Roman law, and Christianity?

Our talk broke off as several peasant women passed us on the narrow way by the rice fields. The mattocks they carried were the same weight as their husbands' mattocks and the women were going to do the same work as the men. But the women were nearly all handicapped by having a child tied on their backs. Uchimura, returning to his objection to foreign political adventure, said that Japan, properly cultivated, could support twice its present population. There were many marshy districts which could be brought into cultivation by drainage. Then what might not forestry do? But the progress could not be made because of lack of money. The money was needed for "national defence."

"For myself," said Uchimura, "I find it still possible to believe in some power which will take care of inoffensive, quiet, humble, industrious people. If all the high virtues of mankind are not safeguarded somehow, then let us take leave of all the ennobling aspirations, all the poetry, and all the deepest hopes we have, and cease to struggle upward. The question is whether we have faith." We still waited, he declared, for the nation which would be Christian enough to take its stand on the Gospel and sacrifice itself materially, if need be, to its faith that right was greater than might.

And so "impractical, outspoken to rashness, but thoroughly sincere and experienced," as one of his appreciative countrymen characterised him to me, we take leave of the "Japanese Carlyle." With whom could I have gone more provocatively towards the foundation of things at the beginning of my investigation in farther Japan?


[100] The statement is, he told me, a calumny. He explained that he lost his post for refusing to bow, not to the portrait, but to the signature of the Emperor, the signature appended to that famous Imperial rescript on education which is appointed to be read in schools. Uchimura is very willing, he said, to show the respect which loyal Japanese are at all times ready to manifest to the Emperor, and he would certainly bow before the portrait of His Majesty; but in the proposal that reverence should be paid to the Imperial autograph he thought he saw the demands of a "Kaiserism"—his word, he speaks vigorous English—which was foreign to the Japanese conception of their sovereign, which would be inimical to the Emperor's influence and would be bad for the nation.

[101] But journalism is one of the most powerful influences for good, and some of the best brains of the country is represented in it. Papers like the Jiji, Asahi, Nichi Nichi, and the Osaka papers run in conjunction with them have altogether a circulation approaching two millions.

[102] For statistics of forests, see Appendix XXXII.

[103] A severe shook occurs on an average about every six years. The eminent seismologist, Professor Omori, told me that he does not expect an earthquake of a dangerous sort for a generation.

[104] The Oriental Economist, a Japanese publication, in the autumn of 1921 suggested the abandonment of all the extensions to the Empire on the score that they had not been a benefit to Japan, and that she was in no way dependent on them. See also Appendix XXXIII.

[105] See Appendix XXXIV.

[106] What of the old story which I have heard from Uchimura and others of the Confucian missionary to certain head hunters of Formosa? After many years of labour among them they promised to give up head hunting if they might take just one more head. At last the good man yielded, and told them that a Chinaman in a red robe was coming towards the village the next day and his head might be taken. On the morrow the men lay in wait for the stranger, sprang on him and cut off his head, only to find that it was the head of their beloved missionary. Struck with remorse and realising the evil of head taking, the tribe gave up head hunting for ever.



Page 98



Bold is the donkey driver, O Khedive, and bold is the Khedive who dares to say what he will believe, not knowing in any wise the mind of Allah, not knowing in any wise his own heart.

The "Japanese Carlyle" is getting grey. It seemed well to seek out some young Japanese thinker and take his view of that "heathenism" concerning which Uchimura had delivered himself so unsparingly. Let me speak of my first visit to my friend Yanagi.

As a youth Yanagi was a lonely student. He took his own way to knowledge and religion. The famed General Nogi had been given by the Emperor the direction of the Peers' School, but even under such distinguished tutelage the stripling made his stand. His reading led him to write for the school magazine an anti-militarist article. The veteran, as I once learned from a friend of Yanagi, promptly paraded the school, boys and masters. He spoke of disloyal, immoral, subversive ideas, and bade the youthful disturber of the peace attend him at his own house. When Yanagi stood before Nogi and was asked what he had to say, he replied with the question, "Don't you feel pain because of sending so many men to death before Port Arthur [107]?"

Again I found my prophet in a cottage. It was a cottage overlooking rice fields and a lagoon. From the Japanese scene outdoors I passed indoors to a new Japan. Cezanne, Puvis de Chavannes, Beardsley, Van Gogh, Henry Lamb, Augustus John, Matisse and Blake—Yanagi has written a big book on Blake which is in a second edition—hung Page 99 within sight of a grand piano and a fine collection of European music[108]. Chinese, Korean and Japanese pottery and paintings filled the places in the dwelling not occupied by Western pictures and the Western library of a man well advanced with an interpretative history of Eastern and Western mysticism. An armful of books about Blake and Boehme, all Swedenborg, all Carlyle, all Emerson, all Whitman, all Shelley, all Maeterlinck, all Francis Thompson, and all Tagore, and plenty of other complete editions; early Christian mystics; much of William Law, Bergson, Eucken, Caird, James, Haldane, Bertrand Russell, Jefferies, Havelock Ellis, Carpenter, Strindberg, "Æ," Yeats, Synge and Shaw; not a little poetry of the fashion of Vaughan, Traherne and Crashaw; a well-thumbed Emily Brontë; all the great Russian novelists; numbers of books on art and artists—it was an arresting collection to come on in a Japanese hamlet, and odd to sit down beside it in order to talk of "heathen."

"Yes," said Yanagi—he speaks an English which reflects his wide reading—"our young maid, on being shown the full moon the other night, bowed her head. I find this natural instinct of some value. Our people have much natural feeling towards Nature. If modern Japanese art has degenerated it is because it does not sufficiently find out life in things. The sough of the wind in the trees may have only a slight influence on character, but it is a vital influence. I do not like, of course, the word 'heathendom' of which Uchimura seems so fond. I dearly admire Christ, but most of the Christianity of to-day is not Christ. It is largely Paul. It is a mixture. It is not the clear, pure, original thing. Christians must reform their Christianity before it can satisfy us. In the East we now see clearly enough to seek only the best that the West can offer."

Yanagi said that the spontaneity and naturalness of Eastern religions ought to be recognised. "You will find Christians admiring Walt Whitman, but it is Whitman the democrat they admire, not Whitman the prophet of naturalness." Page 100 He spoke with appreciation of the Zen sect of Buddhists. Many of the Zen devotees were "noble and had a profound idea." He was unable to see "any difference at all" between the best part of Buddhism and the best part of Christianity. He said that his own mysticism was based on science, art, religion and philosophy. "My sincerest wish," he declared, "is to produce a beautiful reconciliation of these four. As it is, too often scientists and philosophers have no deep knowledge of religion or art, artists have no deep knowledge of religion or science, and the religious have no idea of art. Surely the deepest religious idea is the deepest artistic and philosophic idea. Perhaps our scientists are in the poorest state just now with no understanding of art or religion. Our scientists are immersed in the problem of matter, our religious people in the problem of spirit, and our artists forget that in dealing with nature they are dealing with spirit as well as body."

Faced by force and science when Commander Perry came, Japan, in order to save herself from foreign colonisation, had had to concentrate all her attention on force and science. She had concentrated her attention with signal success. But naturally she had had, in the process, to slacken her hold somewhat on the spiritual life.

"Always remember how difficult the Japanese find it to know which way to take. Their whole basis has been shaken and on the surface all has become chaotic. Ten years hence it will be possible to take a just view. There is much reason for high hopes. For one thing, the burden of old thought does not rest so heavily on us as might be supposed. We are very free in many ways. In the matter of religion Japan is the most free nation in the world. If England were to become Buddhist it would sound strange or exotic, but Japan is free to become what she may."

"There may be a great difference between one of our temples and shrines and an English church," Yanagi proceeded, "but I cannot believe in the gap which some people seem to see yawning between East and West. It is deplorable that the world should think that there is such a complete difference between East and West. It is usually Page 101 said that self-denial, asceticism, sacrifice, negation are opposed to self-affirmation, individualism, self-realisation; but I do not believe in such a gap. I wish to destroy the idea of a gap. It is an idea which was obtained analytically. The meeting of East and West will not be upon a bridge over a gap, but upon the destruction of the idea of a gap.

"In future, religion cannot be limited by this or that sect or idea. Religion cannot be limited to Christianity, Buddhism, Confucianism or Mahomedanism. Uchimura says that it is the essence of Christianity which has the power to rescue Japan from its chaotic state. But the essence of Buddhism can also contribute some important element to the future of Japan. The notion that the essence of Christianity and the essence of Buddhism are far apart is artificial and prejudiced."

One day some weeks later I walked with Yanagi on the hills. He said: "The weakest point in the Japanese character is the lack of the power of questioning. We are repressed by our educational system. And so many things come here at one time that it makes confusion. What is so often taken for a lack of originality in us is a state resulting from an immense importation of foreign ideas. They have been overpowering. Many of us have no clear ideas on life, society, sex and so on, and you will find it difficult to get satisfactory answers to many questions which you will want to ask."

As to morality, it was dangerous to say "this or that is immoral." Morality was often merely custom. Ordinary morality had scant authority. Critics of Japanese morality should not forget that, in the opinion of Japanese, Western people were more erotic than they were. Western dancing—not to speak of Western women's evening costumes—was undoubtedly more erotic than Japanese dancing. Again, the sexual curiosity of foreigners seemed stronger than that manifested by Japanese. It was a well-known fact that the girls at many hotels and restaurants had not a little to complain of from foreign men who misjudged their naïve ways. It must be remembered that Japanese were franker in sexual matters than Europeans and Americans. Sexual ill-doing was not so much concealed as in Europe. Page 102 A wrong impression of Japanese morality was taken away by tourists whose guides showed them, as in Paris, what they expected to see.

"I wonder," he said, "that Western visitors to Tokyo who talk of our immorality are not struck by the fact that in an Eastern capital a foreign lady may walk home at night and be practically safe from being spoken to. The Japanese are undoubtedly a very kind people. They may be unmoral, but they are not immoral."

"Most of our people do not understand liberty in the mental sexual relations. Love is not free. In a very large proportion of cases, indeed, parents would oppose a match because a son or daughter had fallen in love. And if it is difficult to marry for love it is not easy to fall in love. [109] Society in which young men and young women meet is restricted; there are few opportunities of conversation. Without liberty towards women there can be no perfect sense of responsibility towards them."

What had been taught to women as the supreme virtue was the virtue of sacrifice for father, husband, children. It was most important to let women know the significance of individualism. They were always offering themselves for others before they became themselves. But the idea of individuality was very little clearer to the Japanese man than to the Japanese woman. People were too prone to wish to give 100 yen before they had 100 yen. The Japanese were the most devotional people in the world, but they hardly knew yet the things to be devoted to.

Yanagi is a leading member of a small association of literary men, artists and students who graduated together from the Peers' School. They call themselves for no obvious reason the Shirakaba or Silver Birch Society. The intelligent and consistent efforts of these young men to introduce vital Western work in literature, philosophy, painting, sculpture, draughtsmanship and music, and the large measure of success they have attained is of some significance. Several members of the group belong to the old Kuge families, that is the ancient nobility which Page 103 surrounded the Emperor at Kyoto before the Restoration. Cut off for centuries from military and administrative activities by the dominance of the Shogunate Government, the Kuge devoted themselves to the arts and the refinements of life. For the exclusiveness of the past some of their descendants substitute artistic integrity. The Shirakaba has had for several years a remarkable magazine. Its editor and its publisher, its size, its price and its date of publication are continually changed; it never makes any bid for popularity; it expresses its sentiments in a downright way and it has always been anti-official: yet it survives and pays its way. Beyond the magazine, the Society has had every year at least one exhibition of what its members conceive to be significant modern European work. The members have also supported a few Japanese artists of outstanding sincerity. Through the Shirakaba the influence of Cezanne, Van Gogh, Rodin, Blake, Delacroix, Matisse, Augustus John, Beardsley, Courbet,Daumier, Maillol, Chavannes and Millet, particularly Cezanne, Van Gogh, Rodin and Blake, has been marked. The Silver Birch group has never tired of extolling the great names of Rembrandt, Dürer, El Greco, Van Eyck, Goya, Leonardo, Michael Angelo, Tintoretto, Giotto and Mantegna [110].

While an ardent Young Japan has formed and dissolved many societies, movements and fashions, this Shirakaba group has held fast and has gained friends by its sincerity, its vision and its audacity [111]. Rodin encouraged the Shirakaba efforts to reproduce the best Western art by presenting it with three pieces of sculpture.

"The intellectual man does no fighting," Froude has written. Why do not Yanagi and his friends make a stand on public questions? "Because," he said, "at Page 104 the present stage of our development it is almost impossible to take up a strong attitude, and because, important though political and social questions are, they are not, in our opinion, of the first importance. To artists, philosophers, students of religion, such problems are secondary. More important problems are: What is the meaning of this world? What is God? What is the essence of religion? How can we best nourish ourselves so as to realise our own personalities? Political and social problems are secondary for us at present; they are not related emotionally to our present conditions[112].

For the East the Root,
For the West the Fruit.

"If we faced such problems directly we should probably make them primary problems, as you do in Great Britain. Our present attitude does not prove, however, that we are cold to political and social problems. In fact, when we think of these terrible political and social questions they make us boil. But you will understand that in order to have something to give to others, we must have that something. We are seeking after that something."

Yanagi, continuing, spoke of the direct contribution which the new artistic movement in Japan, under the influence of modern Western art, was making to the solution of political and social questions [113]. The interest of the younger generation in Post Impressionism was "quite Page 105 disharmonious with the ordinary attitude towards militarism." European art broke down barriers in the Japanese mind. When the younger generation, nourished on higher ideals, grew up, it would be the State, and there would be a more hopeful condition of affairs. People generally supposed that social questions were the most practical; but religious, artistic, philosophic questions were, in the truest sense of the word, the most practical.

Yanagi went on to tell of his devotion to Blake. He could not understand "why Englishmen are so cool to him." He asked me how it was that there was no word about Blake in Andrew Lang's work on English literature. "I cannot imagine," he said, "why such an intelligent man could not appreciate Blake." Yanagi regarded Blake as "the artist of immense will, of immense desire, and a man in whom can be seen that affirmative attitude towards life, exhibited later by Whitman." Yanagi spoke also of "Anglo-Saxon nobility, liberty, depth of character and healthiness," and of "a deep and noble character" in English literature which he did not find elsewhere. Whitman, Emerson, Poe and William James were "the crown of America."

As I close this chapter I recall Yanagi's library, in the service of which, bettering Mark Pattison's example, two-thirds of its owner's income was for some time expended. I remember the thatched dwelling overlooking the quiet reed-bound lagoon with its frosty sunrises, red moonrises and apparitions of Fuji above the clouds seventy miles away. No Western visitor whom I took to Abiko failed to be moved by that room, designed by Yanagi himself in every detail, wherein East meets West in harmony. I have made note of his Western books but not of the classics and strange mystic writings of Chinese and Korean priests in piles of thin volumes in soft bindings of blue or brown. I have not mentioned a Rembrandt drawing and next to it the vigorous but restful brush lines of an artist priest of the century that brought Buddhism to Japan; severe little gilt-bronze figures of deities from China, a little older; pottery figures of exquisite beauty from the tombs of Tang, a little later; Sung pottery, a dynasty farther on; Korai Page 106 celadons from Korean tombs of the same epoch; and whites and blue and whites of Ming and Korean Richo. On the wall a black and yellow tiger is "burning bright" on a strip of blood-red silk tapestry woven on a Chinese loom for a Taoist priest 500 years ago. Cimabue's portrait of St. Francis breathes over Yanagi's writing desk from one side, while from the other Blake's amazing life mask looks down "with its Egyptian power of form added to the intensity of Western individualism." These are Yanagi's silent friends. His less quiet friends of the flesh have felt that this room was a sanctuary and Yanagi a priest of eternal things, but a priest without priestcraft, a priest living joyously in the world. Above his desk is inscribed the line of Blake:

Thou also, dwellest in eternity

and Kepler's aspiration, "My wish is that I may perceive God whom I find everywhere in the external world in like manner within and without me."


[107] One of the reasons assigned for the suicide of the General was thoughts of his responsibility for the terrible slaughter in the assaults on Port Arthur.

[108] Mrs. Yanagi is one of the best contraltos heard at the now numerous Japanese concerts of Western music.

[109] Shinjū, or suicide for love, the girl often being a geisha, is common.

[110] "I am inclined to think," wrote Yanagi in 1921, in a paper on Korean art, "that we have paid if anything rather too much attention to European works while making little effort to pay attention to what lies much nearer to us."

[111] Police Standards.—The sale of one issue of the magazine was prohibited by the police, who found a nude "antagonistic to the ordinary standard of public morals." The editors' answer next month—the police standard being, "No front views"—was to publish half a dozen more nudes with their backs to the reader.

[112] It will be remembered that this conversation took place in the summer of 1915 at the outset of my investigation. Since then, as noted throughout this book, economic questions have increasingly pressed themselves forward. I may mention that in 1919 Yanagi wrote a vigorous and moving protest against misgovernment in Korea. In a recent letter to me he says: "You know that I am going to establish a Korean Folk Art Society in Seoul. This is a big work, but I want to do it with all my power for love of Korea. I approach the solution of the Korean question by the way of Art. Politics can never solve the question. I want to use the gallery as a meeting-place of Koreans and Japanese. People cannot quarrel in beauty. This is my simple yet definite belief." Yanagi's manifesto on his project made one think of the age when the great culture of China and India glowed across the straits of Tsushima in the wake of early Buddhism.

[113] A well-known member of the Shirakaba group started two years ago an "ideal village" among the mountains. It is an effort towards social freedom in which the police manifest a continuous interest.



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Nothing which concerns a countryman is a matter of unconcern to me.—Terence

During the month of July I went from one side of Japan to the other, starting from Tokyo, across the sea from which lies America, and coming out at Niigata, across the sea from which lies Siberia.

We first made a four hours' railway run through the great Kwanto plain (6,000 square miles). Travelling is comfortable on such a trip, for travellers take off their coats and waistcoats, and the train-boy—he has the word "Boy" on his collar in English—brings fans and bedroom slippers. The fans, which on one side advertised "Hotels in European style, directly managed by the Imperial Government Railway [114]," offered on the other a poem and a drawing. A poem addressed to a snail played with the idea of its giving its life to climbing Fuji. The poem was composed by a poet who wrote many delightful hokku (seventeen-syllable poems), showing a humorous sympathy with the humblest creatures. One poem is:

Come and play with me,
Thou orphan sparrow!

Like Burns, Issa addressed a poem to a louse.

As we climbed from the vicinity of the sea to higher lands someone recalled the saying about saints living in Page 108 the mountains and sages by the sea. Speaking of religion, one man said that he had known of people giving half their income to religious purposes. He also mentioned that for some years his mother had gone to hear a sermon in a Japanese Christian church every Sunday, but she still served her Buddhist shrine.

It was at an inn at the hot spring near the Mount Nasu volcano—the odour of the sulphurous hot water was everywhere in the district—that I first enjoyed the attentions of the blind amma (masseur or masseuse), the call of whose plaintive pipe is heard every evening in the smallest community. Amma san rubbed and pommelled me for an hour for 28 sen. The amma does not massage the skin, but works through the yukata (bath gown) of the patient. I had my massaging as I knelt with the other guests of the inn at an entertainment arranged for the benefit of residents. The entertainers, professional and non-professional—the non-professionals were local farmers—knelt on a low platform or danced in front of it. They were extraordinarily able. A dramatic tale by one of the story-tellers was about a yokelish young wrestler and a daimyo. Another described the woes and suicide of an old-time Court lady.

The next day we started on foot on a seven miles' climb of the volcano. Its lower slopes were covered with a variety of that knee-high bamboo with a creeping root, which is so troublesome to farmers when they break up new ground. One variety is said to blossom and fruit once in sixty years and then die. An ingenious professor has traced mice plagues to this habit. In the year in which the bamboo fruits the mice increase and multiply exceedingly. Suddenly their food supply gives out and they descend to the plains to live with the farmers.

At length we came in sight of the smoke and vapour of the volcano. Soon we were near the top, where the white trunks and branches of dead trees and scrub, killed by falling ash or gusts of vapour, dotted an awesome desolation of calcined and fused stone and solidified mud. At the summit we looked down into the churning horror of the volcano's vat and at different spots saw the treacly sulphur Page 109 pouring out, brilliant yellow with red streaks. The man to whom there first came the idea of hell and a prisoned revengeful power must surely have looked into a crater. In the throat of this crater there seethed and spluttered an ugliness that was scarlet, green, brown and yellow. The sound of the steam blowing off was like the roar of the sea. The air was stifling. It was very hot, and there was a high eerie wind.

Adventurous men had built rude bulwarks of stone over some of the orifices, and in this way had compelled the volcano to furnish them with sulphur free from dirt. The production of sulphur in Japan is valued at close on three million yen.

As we went on our journey we spoke of the sturdiness and cheeriness of our chief carrier, who had told us that he was seventy. I asked him if he thought it fair that he should have to walk so far on a hot day with so much to carry while we were empty-handed. He replied that it might appear to be unjust, but that he was happy enough. He said that he had lived long and seen many things, and he knew that to be rich was not always to be happy. He quoted the proverb, "Sunshine and rice may be found everywhere," and the poem which may be rendered, "If you look at a water-fowl thoughtlessly you may imagine that she has nothing to do but float quietly on the water, yet she is moving her feet ceaselessly beneath the surface."

At the little hot spring inn where we next stayed, insect powder was on sale, not without reasonable hope of patronage by the guests. The Asahi once facetiously reported that I had taken on a journey three to (six pecks) of insect powder. The chief protector of the prudent traveller in remote Japan is a giant pillowslip of cotton. He gets into it and ties the strings together under his chin. The mats and futon of old-fashioned hotels are full of fleas. The hard cylindrical Japanese pillow has no doubt its tenants also, but I never got accustomed to using it, and laid my head on a doubled-up kneeling cushion.

A foot-high partition separated the men's hot bath from the women's. My cold bath in the morning I found I had to take unselfconsciously at a water-gush in front of the Page 110 house. As the food was poor here, we were glad of our tinned food and ship's biscuits. This was of course in a remote part. Apart from ordinary Japanese food, there are usually available at the inns chicken, fish of some sort, eggs, omelettes and soups. With a pot of jam or two and some powdered milk in one's bag, one can live fairly well. Fresh milk can now be got in unlikely places on giving notice overnight. It is produced for invalids and children. If one makes no fuss, remembers one is a traveller who has resolved to see rural Japan, and realises that the inn people will try to do their best, one will not fare so badly. On the railway one is well catered for by the provision of bento (lunch) boxes, sold on the platforms of stations. These chip boxes contain rice (hot), cold omelette, cold fish or chicken and assorted pickles, and provide an appetising and inexpensive meal.

Monkeys, bears and antelopes are shot in this district. One man spoke of a troop of eighty monkeys. In the high mountain regions there are still people who escape the census and live a wild life. The records of a gipsy folk called Sanka have a history going back 700 or 800 years.

As we wound our way up and down the hill-sides we saw evidence of "fire-farming." It is the simple method by which a small tract with a favourable aspect is cleared by fire and cultivated, and then, when the fertility is exhausted, abandoned. I was assured that after fire-farming "tea springs up naturally," and that though tea-drinking may have been introduced from China there could not be such large areas of tea growing wild if tea were not indigenous.

Most of our paths lay through woods and matted vegetation. I noticed that trees were often felled in order that mushrooms might be grown on and around their trunks. There is a large consumption of these tree-grown mushrooms in Japan and an export trade worth two and a half million yen.

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An inscribed stone by our path was a reminder of the belief in "mountain maidens." They have the undoubted merit of not being "so peevish as fairies." At another stone, before which was a pile of small stones, a farmer Page 111 told us that when a traveller threw a stone on the heap he "left behind his tiredness."

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[Illustration: ]


In the first house we came to we found a young widow turning bowls with power from a water-wheel. She could finish 400 bowls in a day and got from one to five sen apiece. She said that she had often wished to see a foreigner. Like nearly all the girls and women of the hills, she wore close-fitting blue cotton trousers.

We descended to a kind of prairie which had a tree here and there and roughly wooded hills on either side. This brought us to the problem of the wise method of dealing with the enormous wood-bearing areas of the country, the timber crop of which is so irregular in quality. Japan requires many more scientifically planned forests. As coal is not in domestic use, however, large quantities of cheap wood are needed for burning and for charcoal making. The demand for hill pasture is also increasing. How shall the claims of good timber, good firewood, good charcoal-making material and good pasture be reconciled? In the county through which we were passing—a county which, owing to its large consumption of wood fuel, needs relatively little charcoal—the charcoal output was worth as much as 35,000 yen a year.

We saw "buckwheat in full bloom as white as snow," as the Chinese poem says. At a farmhouse there was a box fixed on a barn wall. It was for communications for the police from persons who desired to make their suggestions for the public welfare privately.

Towards evening, when we had done about twenty miles, I managed to twist an ankle. Happily I had the chance of a ride. It was on the back of a dour-looking mare which was accompanied by her foal and tied by a halter to the saddle of a led pack-horse which was carrying two large boxes. Thus impressively I did several miles in descending darkness and across the rocky beds of two rivers. The horse of this district is a downcast-looking animal in spite of the fact that it is stalled under the same roof as its owner and is thus able to share to some extent in his family life.

At the town at which we at last arrived, the comfort of Page 112 the hot bath was enhanced by a sturdy lass of the inn who unasked and unannounced came and applied herself resolutely to scrubbing and knuckling our backs.

The next day I went to the principal school. There were in the place three primary schools, one with a branch for agricultural work. The "attendance" at the principal school, where there were 379 boys and girls, was 98 per cent, for the boys and 94 per cent, for the girls. [115] The buildings were most creditable to a small place fifty miles from a railway station. The community had met the whole cost out of its official funds and by subscriptions. More than half the expenditure of many a village is on education, which in Japan is compulsory but not free. One cannot but be impressed by the pride which is taken in the local schools. The dominating man-made feature of the landscape is less frequently than might be supposed a temple or a shrine: where the picture which catches the eye is not the vast expanse of the crops of the plain or the marvels of terracing for hill crops, it is the long, low school building, set almost invariably on the best possible site. The poorly paid men and women teachers are earnest and devoted, and their influence must be far-reaching. They are rewarded in part, no doubt, by the respect which pupils and the general public give to the sensei (teacher). [116] At the school I visited, the children, as is customary, swept and washed out the schoolrooms and kept the playground trim. Above one teacher's desk were the following admonitions:

Be obedient.
Be decent.
Be active.
Be social.
Be serious.

"Be serious"!—graver small folk sit in no schools in the world. Here, as usual, corporal punishment was never given. I suggested to teachers all sorts of juvenile delinquencies, Page 113 but their faith in the sufficiency of reprimands, of "standing out" and of detention after school hours was unshaken.

A new wing, a beautiful piece of carpenter's work, had cost 4,000 yen, a large sum in Japan, where wood and village labour are equally cheap. It was to be used chiefly for the gymnastics which are steadily adding to the stature of the Japanese people. At one end there was an opening, about 20 ft. across and 5 ft. deep, designed as an honourable place for the portraits of the Emperor and Empress, which are solemnly exposed to view on Imperial birthdays [117].

Apart from a local spirit of pride and emulation and a belief in education, one of the reasons for the building of new schools and adding to old ones is to be found in the recent extension of the period of compulsory attendance. It used to be from six to ten years of age; it is now from six to twelve. The visitor to Japan usually under-estimates the ages of children because they are so small. Japanese boys grow suddenly from about fifteen to sixteen.

In the whole of this county, with a population of 35,000, there were, I learnt at the county offices, 22 elementary schools with 36 branch schools, 3 secondary schools and 17 winter schools. Within the same area there were 46 Buddhist temples with about 60 priests, and 125 Shinto shrines with 11 priests.

The chief police officer, in chatting with me, mentioned that, out of 71 charges of theft, only 47 were proceeded with. When charges were not proceeded with it was either because restitution had been made or the chief constable had exercised his discretion and dismissed the offender with a reprimand. When transgressors are dismissed with a reprimand an eye is kept on them for a year. As the Japanese are in considerable awe of their police, I have no doubt that, as was explained to me, those who have lapsed into evil-doing, but are released from custody with a warning, may "tremble and correct their conduct." In the whole county in a year 14,400 admonitions were given at 14 police stations. The Page 114 noteworthy thing in the criminal statistics is the small proportion of crime against women and children.

The fact that the county was in a remote part of Japan may be held, perhaps, to account for the fact that there were in it, I was assured, only 14 geisha and 8 women known to be of immoral character. All of them were living in the town and they were said to be chiefly patronised by commercial travellers and imported labourers. I was told that there were pre-nuptial relations between many young men and young women. Two undoubted authorities in the district agreed that they could not answer for the chastity of any young men before marriage or of "as many as 10 per cent." of the young women. In an effort to save the reputation of their daughters, fathers sometimes register illegitimate children as the offspring of themselves and their wives. Or when an unmarried girl is about to have a child her father may call the neighbours to a feast and announce to them the marriage of his daughter to her lover. The figures for illegitimate births are vitiated by the fact that in Japan children are recorded as illegitimate who are born to people who have omitted to register their otherwise respectable unions. [118]

In the county in which I was travelling I was assured that half the still births might be put down to immoral relations and half to imperfect nourishment or overworking of the mother. In this district girls marry from 17 or 18, men from 18 to 30.

The town was full of country people who had come to see the festival. One feature of it was the performance of plays on four ancient wheeled stages of a simplicity in construction that would have delighted William Poel. Formerly these plays were given by the local youths; now professional actors are employed. The different acts of the historical dramas which were performed were divided into half a dozen scenes, and when one of these scenes had been enacted the stage was wheeled farther along the street. At the conclusion of each scene some three dozen small boys, all wearing the white-and-black speckled cotton kimono and German caps which are the common wear of Page 115 lads throughout Japan, would swarm up on the stage, and, with fans waved downwards, would yell at the pitch of their voices an ancient jingle, which seemed to signify "Push, push, push and go on!" This was addressed to a score or so of young men who with loud shouts hauled the heavy stage-wagon along the street. The performances on the four moving theatres went on simultaneously and sometimes the cars passed one another. The performances were given on the eve and on the day and through the night of the festival. The acting was amazingly good, considering the July heat and the cramped conditions in which the actors worked. Happy boys sat at the back of the scenes fanning the players. Our kindly and voluble landlady was not satisfied with the number of times the stages stopped before her inn. She loudly threatened the youths who were dragging them that she would reclaim some properties she had lent and tell her dead husband of their ingratitude!

At one of the booths which had been opened for the festival by a strolling company there were women actors, contrary to the convention of the Japanese stage on which men enact female rôles and in doing so use a special falsetto. Some of these actresses performed men's parts. At every performance in a Japanese theatre, as I have already mentioned, a policeman is provided with a chair on a special platform, or in an otherwise favourable position, so that he can view and if necessary censor what is going on. The constable at this particular play was kind enough to offer me his seat. The rest of the audience was content with the floor. The poor little company of players brought to their work both ability and an artistic conscience, but they had to do everything in the rudest way. They were in no way embarrassed by the attendants frequently trimming the inferior oil lamps on the stage. A little girl on the floor, entranced by the performance on the stage, or curious about some detail of it, ran forward and laid her chin on the boards and studied the actors at leisure. The folk in the front row of the gallery dangled their naked legs for coolness.

One of my friends asked me how we managed in the West to identify the people who wanted to leave the theatre between the acts. I explained that as our performances Page 116 did not last from early afternoon until nearly midnight it was rare for anyone to wish to leave a theatre until the play was over. At a Japanese playhouse, however, a portion of the audience may be disposed to go home at some stage of the proceedings and return later. The careful manager of a small theatre identifies these patrons by impressing a small stamp on the palms of their hands.

From the theatre we went to the travelling shows. They charged 2 sen. We were shown a mermaid, peepshows, a snake, an unhappy bear, three doleful monkeys and some stuffed animals which may or may not have had in life an uncommon number of legs. There was a barefaced imposture by a young and pretty show-woman who insisted that two marmots in her lap were the offspring of a girl. "Look," she cried, "at two sisters, the daughters of one mother. See their hands!" And she held up their paws. She rounded off the fraud by feeding the creatures with condensed milk.

As I returned to the inn from these Elizabethan scenes I noticed that I was preceded in the crowd by a spectacled policeman who carried a paper lantern. Although, as I have explained, the stage plays given in the street were continued all night, only one arrest was made. The prisoner was a drunkard who proved to be a medicine seller but described himself as a journalist. I went to see the clean wooden cell where topers are confined until they are sober. It had a very low door, so that culprits might be compelled to enter and leave humbly on their knees.

We had begun our festival day at six in the morning by attending a celebration at the Shinto shrine. "Although it is no longer necessary, perhaps, to attend the ceremony in a special kind of geta," said our landlady, "it would be as well if you observed the old rule not to attend without taking a bath in the early morning." [119]

At the ancient shrine the townspeople whose turn it was to attend the annual function had assembled in ceremonial costumes. One man wore his hair tied up in the fashion of the old prints. The plaintive strains of old instruments Page 117 made the strange appeal of all folk music. A decorous procession was headed by the piebald pony of the shrine. Youths and maidens carried aloft tubs of rice, vegetables, fish and saké. These were received by the chief priest. He carefully placed a strip of cloth before his mouth and nose [120] and addressed the chief deity, all heads being bowed. Then the priest placed the offerings in the darkened interior of the shrine. There was a cheery naturalness in all the proceedings. A few small children in gay holiday dress ran freely among the worshippers and encountered indulgent smiles. When an end had been made of offering food and drink the priest within the shrine read a second message to the deity. Again all heads were bowed. His thin voice was heard in the morning quiet, interrupted only by a child's cry, the twittering of birds and the wind rustling the cryptomeria, dark against the blue of the hills.

After the ceremony the food and drink which had been brought by the people were consumed by the priests and the country folk in a large room of the chief priest's house. We were given ceremonial saké to which rice had been added and as mementoes little cakes and dried fish. Not so long ago the presence of a foreigner would have been unwelcome at such a ceremony as we had witnessed: the fear of "contagion of foreigners" extended even to people from another prefecture. To-day the amiable priest placed in our hands for a few moments a small Buddha supposed to be six centuries old.

Before the festival the priest had observed certain taboos for eight days. He had avoided meeting persons in mourning and his food had been cooked at a specially prepared fire. He had been careful not to touch other persons, particularly women; he had bathed several times daily in cold water and he had said many prayers. The heads of the household in the community whose turn it was to attend at the shrine were also supposed to have observed some of the same taboos. Only those persons might make offerings at the shrine whose fathers and mothers were living.[121] Page 118 Formerly portions of the offerings of rice and saké at the shrine were solemnly given to a young girl.

In this district, when we discussed the influences which made for moral or non-material improvement, everyone put the school first. Then came home training. In this part of the world the Buddhist priest was too often indifferent; the Shinto priest worked at his farm. One person well qualified to express an opinion said that a "wise and benevolent" chief constable could exercise a good moral influence. Others believed in public opinion. A policeman said, "The first thing is for people to have food and clothes; without such primary satisfaction it is very difficult to expect them to be moral." In considering the influence of the police and the schoolmaster it is not without interest to remember that a chief of police and the head of a school receive about the same salary. Assistant teachers and plain constables are also on an equality. I found the salary of the administrative head of one county, the gunchō, to be only 2,000 yen a year.

I was told that in the prefecture we were passing through there were no fewer than 360 co-operative societies. The credit branches had a capital of two million yen; the purchase and sale branches showed a turnover of three million yen. In time of famine, due to too low a temperature for the rice or to floods which drown the crop, co-operation had proved its value. The prefectures north of Tokyo facing the Pacific are the chief victims of famine, for near Sendai the warm current from the south turns off towards America. I was told that the number of persons who actually die as the result of famine has been "exaggerated." The number in 1905 was "not more than a hundred." These unfortunates were infants "and infirm people who suffered from lack of suitable nourishment." Every year the development of railway and steam communications makes easier the task of relieving famine sufferers. [122] In the old days people were often found dead who had money but were unable to get food for it. As Japan is a long island with varying climates there is never general scarcity.


[114] For statistics of railways, see Appendix XXXV.

[115] The percentage of children "attending" school for the whole of Japan is officially reported in 1918 as: cities, 98.18 per cent.; villages, 99.23 per cent.; but this does not mean daily attendance.

[116] Since 1919 the salaries of elementary school teachers have been raised to 26, 16 and 15 yen per month, according to grade.

[117] Only last year (1921) another schoolmaster lost his life in an endeavour to save the Emperor's portrait from his burning school.

[118] See Appendix XXXVI.

[119] A hot bath is ordinarily obtainable only in the afternoon and evening in most Japanese hotels. In the morning people are content merely with rinsing their hands and face.

[120] In addressing a superior, many Japanese still draw in their breath from time to time audibly.

[121] That is, persons who might be considered not to have failed in their filial duties.

[122] After the failure of the 1918-19 crop in India, 600,000 persons were in receipt of famine relief.



Page 119



I didn't visit this place in the hope of seeing fine prospects—my study is man.—Borrow

Before I left the town I had a chat with a landowner who turned his tenants' rent rice into saké. He was of the fifth generation of brewers. He said that in his childhood drunken men often lay about the street; now, he said, drunken men were only to be seen on festival days.

There had been a remarkable development in the trade in flavoured aerated waters, "lemonade" and "cider champagne" chiefly. I found these beverages on sale in the remotest places, for the Japanese have the knack of tying a number of bottles together with rope, which makes them easily transportable. The new lager beers, which are advertised everywhere, have also affected the consumption of saké. [123] Saké is usually compared with sherry. It is drunk mulled. At a banquet, lasting five or six hours or longer, a man "strong in saké" may conceivably drink ten go (a go is about one-third of a pint) before achieving drunkenness, but most people would be affected by three go. Some of the topers who boast of the quantity of saké they can consume—I have heard of men declaring that they could drink twenty go—are cheated late in the evening by the waiting-maids. The little saké bottles are opaque, and it is easy to remove them for refilling before they are quite empty.

The brewer, who was a firm adherent of the Jishu sect of Buddhists, was accustomed to burn incense with his family at the domestic shrine every morning. But this was Page 120 not the habit of all the adherents of his denomination. As to the moral advancement of the neighbourhood, his grandfather "tried very earnestly to improve the district by means of religion, but without result." He himself attached most value to education and after that to young men's associations.

As we left the town we passed a "woman priest" who was walking to Nikko, eighty miles away. Portraits of dead people, entrusted to her by their relatives for conveyance to distant shrines, were hung round her body.

As the route became more and more hilly I realised how accurate is that representation of hills in Japanese art which seems odd before one has been in Japan: the landscape stands out as if seen in a flash of lightning.

Three things by the way were arresting: the number of shrines, mostly dedicated to the fox god; the rice suspended round the farm buildings or drying on racks; and the masses of evening primroses, called in Japan "moon-seeing flowers."

A feature of every village was one or more barred wooden sheds containing fire-extinguishing apparatus, often provided and worked by the young men's association. Sometimes a piece of ground was described to me as "the training ground of the fire defenders." The night patrols of the village were young fellows chosen in turn by the constable from the fire-prevention parties, made up by the youths of the village. There stood up in every village a high perpendicular ladder with a bell or wooden clapper at the top to give the alarm. The emblem of the fire brigade, a pole with white paper streamers attached, was sometimes distinguished by a yellow paper streamer awarded by the prefecture.

On a sweltering July day it was difficult to realise that the villages we passed through, now half hidden in foliage, might be under 7 ft. of snow in winter. In travelling in this hillier region one has an extra kurumaya, who pushes behind or acts as brakeman.

At the "place of the seven peaks" we found a stone dedicated to the worship of the stars which form the Plough. Again and again I noticed shrines which had Page 121 before them two tall trees, one larger than the other, called "man and wife." It was explained to me that "there cannot be a more sacred place than where husband and wife stand together." A small tract of cryptomeria on the lower slopes of a hill belonged to the school. The children had planted it in honour of the marriage of the Emperor when he was Crown Prince.

Often the burial-grounds, the stones of which are seldom more than about 2 ft. high by 6 ins. wide, are on narrow strips of roadside waste. (The coffin is commonly square, and the body is placed in it in the kneeling position so often assumed in life.) Here, as elsewhere, there seemed to be rice fields in every spot where rice fields could possibly be made.

On approaching a village the traveller is flattered by receiving the bows of small girls and boys who range themselves in threes and fours to perform their act of courtesy. I was told that the children are taught at school to bow to foreigners. I remember that in the remoter villages of Holland the stranger also received the bows of young people.

On the house of the headman of one village were displayed charms for protection from fire, theft and epidemic. We spoke of weather signs, and he quoted a proverb, "Never rely on the glory of the morning or on the smile of your mother-in-law."

We had before us a week's travel by kuruma. Otherwise we should have liked to have brought away specimens of the wooden utensils of some of the villages. The travelling woodworker whom we often encountered—he has to travel about in order to reach new sources of wood supply—has been despised because of his unsettled habits, but I was told that there was a special deity to look after him. In the town we had left there was delightful woodwork, but most of the draper's stuff was pitiful trash made after what was supposed to be foreign fashions. I may also mention the large collection of blood-and-thunder stories upon Western models which were piled up in the stationers' shops.

As we walked up into the hills—the kuruma men were sent by an easier route—we passed plenty of sweet chestnuts Page 122 and saw large masses of blue single hydrangea and white and pink spirea. We came on the ruined huts of those who had burnt a bit of hillside and taken from it a few crops of buckwheat. The charred trunks of trees stood up among the green undergrowth that had invaded the patches. There was a great deal of plantain and a kurumaya mentioned that sometimes when children found a dead frog they buried it in leaves of that plant. Japanese children are also in the habit of angling for frogs with a piece of plantain. The frogs seize the plantain and are jerked ashore.

We took our lunch on a hill top. It had been a stiff climb and we marvelled at the expense to which a poor county must be put for the maintenance of roads which so often hang on cliff sides or span torrents. The great piles of wood accumulated at the summit turned the talk to "silent trade." In "silent trade" people on one side of a hill traded with people on the other side without meeting. The products were taken to the hill top and left there, usually in a rough shed built to protect the goods from rain. The exchange might be on the principle of barter or of cash payment. But the amount of goods given in exchange or the cash payment made was left to honour. "Silent trade" still continues in certain parts of Japan. Sometimes the price expected for goods is written up in the shed. "Silent trade" originated because of fears of infectious disease; it survives because it is more convenient for one who has goods to sell or to buy to travel up and down one side of a mountain than up and down two sides.

As we proceeded on our way we were once more struck by the extraordinary wealth of wood. Here is a country where every household is burning wood and charcoal daily, a country where not only the houses but most of the things in common use are made of wood; and there seems to be no end to the trees that remain. It is little wonder that in many parts there has been and is improvident use of wood. Happily every year the regulation of timber areas and wise planting make progress. But for many square miles of hillside I saw there is no fitting word but jungle.

At the small ramshackle hot-spring inns of the remote Page 123 hills the guests are mostly country folk. Many of them carefully bring their own rice and miso, and are put up at a cost of about 10 sen a day. In the passage ways one finds rough boxes about 4 ft. square full of wood ash in the centre of which charcoal may be burned and kettles boiled.

We were in a region where there is snow from the middle of November to the middle of April. For two-thirds of December and January the snow is never less than 2 ft. deep. The attendance of the children at one school during the winter was 95 per cent. for boys and 90 per cent. for girls. (See note, p. 112.)

My kurumaya pointed to a mountain top where, he said, there were nearly three acres of beautiful flowers. The rice fields in the hills were suffering from lack of water and a deputation of villagers had gone ten miles into the mountains to pray for rain. It is wonderful at what altitudes rice fields are contrived. I noted some at 2,500 ft. In looking down from a place where the cliff road hung out over the river that flowed a hundred feet below I noticed a stone image lying on its back in the water. It may have come there by accident, but the ducking of such a figure in order to procure rain is not unknown.

At an inn I asked one of the greybeards who courteously visited us if there would be much competition for his seat when he retired from the village assembly. He thought that there would be several candidates. In the town from which we had set out on our journey through the highlands a doctor had spent 500 yen in trying to get on the assembly.

The tea at this resting place was poor and someone quoted the proverb, "Even the devil was once eighteen and bad tea has its tolerable first cup." On going to the village office I found that for a population of 2,000 there were, in addition to the village shrine, sixteen other shrines and three Buddhist temples. Against fire there were four fire pumps and 155 "fire defenders." A dozen of the young men of the village were serving in the army, four were home on furlough, six were invalided and forty were of the reserve. As many as thirty-seven had medals. The doctors were two in number and the midwives three. There was a sanitary committee of twenty-three members. Page 124 The revenue of the village was 5,740 yen. It had a fund of 740 yen "against time of famine." The taxes paid were 2,330 yen for State tax, 2,460 yen for prefectural tax and 4,350 yen for village tax. The village possessed two co-operative societies, a young men's association, a Buddhist young men's association, a Buddhist young women's association, a society for the development of knowledge, a society of the graduates of the primary school, two thrift organisations, a society for "promoting knowledge and virtue," and an association the members of which "aimed at becoming distinguished." There were in the village ninety subscribers to the Red Cross and two dozen members of the national Patriotic Women's Association.

In the county through which we were moving there was gold, silver and copper mining. [124] Out of its population of 36,000 only 632 were entitled to vote for an M.P.

We rested at a school where the motto was, "Even in this good reign I pray because I wish to make our country more glorious." There were portraits of four deceased local celebrities and of Peter the Great, Franklin, Lincoln, Commander Perry and Bismarck. Illustrated wall charts showed how to sit on a school seat, how to identify poisonous plants and how to conform to the requirements of etiquette. The following admonitions were also displayed—a copy of them is given to each child, who is expected to read the twelve counsels every morning before coming to school:

1.—Do your own work and don't rely on others to do it.

2.—Be ardent when you learn or play.

3.—Endeavour to do away with your bad habits and cultivate good ones.

4.—Never tell a lie and be careful when you speak.

5.—Do what you think right in your heart and at the same time have good manners.

6.—Overcome difficulties and never hold back from hard work.

7.—Do not make appointments which you are uncertain to keep.

8.—Do not carelessly lend or borrow.

Page 125 9.—Do not pass by another's difficulties and do not give another much trouble.

10.—Be careful about things belonging to the public as well as about things belonging to yourself.

11.—Keep the outside and inside of the school clean and also take care of waste paper.

12.—Never play with a grumbling spirit.

There was stuck on the roofs of many houses a rod with a piece of white paper attached, a charm against fire. One house so provided was next door to the fire station. Frequently we passed a children's jizō or Buddha, comically decked in the hat and miscellaneous garments of youngsters whose grateful mothers believed them to have been cured by the power of the deity.

Speaking of clothes, it was the hottest July weather and the natural garment was at most a loin cloth. The women wore a piece of red or coloured cotton from their waist to their knees. The backs of the men and women who were working in the open were protected by a flapping ricestraw mat or by an armful of green stuff. The boys under ten or so were naked and so were many little girls. But the influence of the Westernising period ideas of what was "decent" in the presence of foreigners survives. So, whenever a policeman was near, people of all ages were to be seen huddling on their kimonos. I was sorry for a merry group of boys and girls aged 12 or 13 who in that torrid weather[125] were bathing at an ideal spot in the river and suddenly caught sight of a policeman. It is deplorable that a consciousness of nakedness should be cultivated when nakedness is natural, traditional and hygienic. (Even in the schools the girls are taught to make their kimonos meet at the neck—with a pin! [126]—much higher than they used to be worn.) It is only fair to bear in mind, however, that some hurrying on of clothes by villagers is done out of respect to the passing superior, before whom it is impolite Page 126 to appear without permission half dressed or wearing other than the usual clothing.

At a hot spring we found many patrons because, as I was told, "Ox-day is very suitable for bathing." The old pre-Meiji days of the week were twelve: Rat-, Ox-, Tiger-, Hare-, Dragon-, Snake-, Horse-, Sheep-, Monkey-, Fowl-, Dog-and Boar-day. When the Western seven days of the week were adopted they were rendered into Japanese as: Sun, Moon, Fire, Water, Wood, Metal and Earth, followed by the word meaning star or planet and day. For instance, Sunday is Nichi (Sun) yo (star) bi (day), and Monday, Getsu (Moon) yo (planet) bi (day), or Nichi-yo-bi and Getsu-yo-bi. For brevity the bi is often dropped off.

The headman of a village we passed through told me that the occasion of my coming was the first on which English had been heard in those parts. Talking about the people of his village, he said that there had been four divorces in the year. Once in four or five years a child was born within a few months of marriage. In the whole county there had been among 310 young men examined for the army only four cases of "disgraceful disease." There was no immoral woman in the 75-miles-long valley. Elsewhere in the county many young men were in debt, but in the headman's village no youth was without a savings-bank book. And the local men-folk "did not use women's savings as in some places."

One shrine we passed seemed to be dedicated to the moon. Another was intended to propitiate the horsefly. Several villages had boxes fastened on posts for the reception of broken glass. As we approached one village I saw an inscription put up by the young men's association, "Good Crops and Prosperity to the Village." When we came to the next village the schoolmaster was responsible for an inscription, "Peace to the World and Safety to the State." In other places I found young men's society notice boards giving information about the area of land in a village, how it was cropped, the kind of crops, the area of forest, lists of famous places, etc.

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In the gorges we rode over many suspension bridges and crossed the backbone of Japan in unforgettable scenes Page 127 of romantic beauty. From the craggy paths of our highlands, amid a wealth not only of gorgeous flowers and greenery but of great velvety butterflies, we saw the far-off snow-clad Japanese Alps.

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At one of the schools where we lunched I noticed that the large wall maps were of Siam and Malaya, Borneo, Australia and China (two). The portraits were of Florence Nightingale, Lincoln, Napoleon and Christ as the Good Shepherd, the last named being "a present from a believer friend of the schoolmaster." [127] This school closed at noon from July 10 to July 31, and had twenty days' vacation in August and another twenty days in the rice-planting and busy sericultural season. The sewing-room of the school was used in winter as a dormitory for boys who lived at a distance. Accommodation for girls was provided in the village. The children brought their rice with them. The products of the school farm were also eaten by the boarding pupils. It was estimated that the cost of maintaining the girls was 10 sen a day. Three-fourths of this expense was borne by the village. The regularity and strictness of the dormitory management were found to have an excellent effect. At the winter school, an adjunct of the day school, there was an attendance of a score of youths and sixty girls.

Speaking of a place where we stayed for the night, one who had a wide knowledge of rural Japan said that he did not think that there was a lonelier spot where farming was carried on. There was no market or fair for 80 or 90 miles and the little groups of houses were 2 or 3 miles apart. In this district, it was explained, "the rich are not so rich and the poor are not so poor."

We passed somewhere a fine shrine for the welfare of horses. At a certain festival hundreds of horses are driven down there to gallop round and round the sacred buildings. Thousands of people attend this festival, but it was declared that no one was ever hurt by the horses.

The poetical names of country inns would make an interesting Page 128 collection. I remember that it was at "the inn of cold spring water" that the waiting-maid had never seen cow's milk. She proved to be the daughter of the host and wore a gold ring by way of marking the fact. This girl told us that on the banks of the river there was only one house in 70 miles. The village was having the usual holiday to celebrate the end of the toilsome sericultural season.

On our way to the next village we met two far-travelled young women selling the dried seaweed which, in many varieties, figures in the Japanese dietary. [128] (There are shops which sell nothing but prepared seaweeds.) A notice board there informed us that the road was maintained at the cost of the local young men's society. As we were on foot we felt grateful, for the road was well kept. We passed for miles over planking hung on the cliff side or on roadway carried on embankments. On the suspended pathways there was now and then a plank loose or broken, and there was no rail between the pedestrian and the torrent dashing below. Where there was embanked roadway it was almost always uphill and downhill and it frequently swung sharply round the corner of a cliff. As the river increased in volume we saw many rafts of timber shooting the rapids. At one place twenty-six raftsmen had been drowned. The remnants of two bridges showed the force of the floods.

In this region the kurumaya were hard put to it at times and once a kuruma broke down. Its owner cheerfully detached its broken axle and went off with it at a trot ten miles or so to a blacksmith. Later he traversed the ten miles once more to refit his kuruma, afterwards coming on fifteen more miles to our inn. The endurance and cheeriness of the kurumaya were surprising. It was usually in face of their protests that we got out to ease them while going uphill. Every morning they wanted to arrange to go farther than we thought reasonable. Each man had not only his passenger but his passenger's heavy bag. One day we did thirty-six miles over rough roads. The kurumaya proposed to cover fifty. They showed spirit, good nature and loyalty. The character of their conversation Page 129 is worth mentioning. At one point they were discussing the plays we had witnessed, at other times the scenery, local legends, the best routes and the crops, material condition and disposition of the villagers. Our kurumaya compared very favourably indeed with men of an equal social class at home. Their manners were perfect. They stayed at the same inns as we did—once in the next room—and behaved admirably. Every evening the men washed their white cotton shorts and jackets—their whole costume except for a wide-brimmed sun hat and straw waraji. Tied to the axle of each kuruma were several pairs of waraji, for on the rough hill roads this simple form of footgear soon wears out. Discarded waraji are to be seen on every roadside in Japan.

The inscriptions on some of the wayside stones we passed had been written by priests so ignorant that the wording was either ridiculous or almost without meaning. But there was no difficulty in deciphering an inscription on a stone which declared that it had been erected by a company of Buddhists who claimed to have repeated the holy name of Amida 2,000,000 times. (The idea is that salvation may be obtained by the repetition of the phrase Namu Amida Butsu.) A small stone set up on a rock in the middle of paddy fields intimated that at that spot "people gathered to see the moon one night every month." A third stone was dedicated to the monkey as the messenger of a certain god, just as the fox is regarded as the messenger of Inari.

We saw during our journey large numbers of kiri (Paulownia) used for making geta and bride's chests. Some farmers seem to plant kiri trees at the birth of a daughter so as to have wood for her wedding chest or money for her outfit [129]. Kiri seems to be increasingly grown. On the other hand in the same districts lacquer trees were now seldom planted. The farmers complained that they were cheated by the collectors of lacquer who come round to cut the trees. The age of cutting was given me as the eighth or ninth year, but poor farmers sometimes allowed a young Page 130 tree to be cut. A tree may be cut once a year for three or four years. After that it is useless even for fuel, owing to the smell it gives off, and is often left standing. The old scarred trunks, sometimes headless, suggested the tattooed faces and bodies of Maori veterans. As lacquer is poisonous to the skin the wood calls for careful handling. I saw one of the itinerant lacquer collectors, his hands wrapped in cotton, operating on a tree.

During a particularly hot run we had the good fortune to come on a soda-water spring from which we all drank freely. A factory erected to tap the spring was in ruins. Evidently the cost of carriage was prohibitive.

In these hills the rice was planted farther apart than is usual so that the sun might warm the water. Here as elsewhere daikon were hung up to dry on walls and trees, and looked like giant tallow candles. Below a bridge, which marked the village boundary, flags had been flung down by way of keeping off epidemics. Evil spirits were warded off by special dances.

The porch of a little tea-house where we rested was covered with grapes. Soon after leaving it we reached our destination for the night, a small town of houses of several storeys which clustered on a hillside under the shadow of a Zen temple. Meat and eggs were forbidden to the town, but as the residents were all Zen Buddhists the restriction was no hardship. There was no cow in the place, but condensed milk was allowed. A man at the inn told me that he knew of ten Shinto shrines which forbade the use of chickens and eggs in their localities. The view from the temple, perched high on its rock above the wide riverway, was exceptionally fine. Parties of boys and girls of thirteen paid visits to this temple "because thirteen is known as a perilous age." The people of the vegetarian town, instead of feeding on the fish in the river, fed them. I saw a shoal of fish being given scraps at the water edge.

As we went on our way and spoke of the bad roads it was suggested that in the old days roads were purposely left uphill and downhill in order that the advance of enemies might be hindered. We came to a dilapidated tea-house kept by an ugly old woman who showed a touching Page 131 fondness for a cat and a dog. From her shack we had a view of a volcano which had destroyed two villages a few years before. Our hostess, who made much of us, said that the catastrophe had been preceded by "horrible da-da-da-bang" sounds and lightnings, and that it was accompanied by "thunderbolts and heavy thick smoke." The old woman had beheld "soil boiling and cracking."

Along our route we had more evidences of "fire farming." The procedure was to sow buckwheat the first year and rape and millet the second year. In the cryptomeria forests there was a variety which, when cut, sprouts from the ground and makes a new growth like an elm. One crop we saw was ginseng, protected by low structures covered by matting.

At length we heard the distant sound of a locomotive whistle. We were approaching the newly opened railway which was to take us the short run to the sea. Soon we were in a rather unkempt village which had hardly recovered from its surprise at finding that it had a railway station. We paid our kurumaya the sum contracted for and something over for their faithful service and for their long return run, and having exchanged bows and cordial greetings, we left for a time the glorified perambulators which a foreign missionary is supposed to have introduced half a century ago. (The Japanese claim the honour of "inventing" the jinrikisha.)


[123] See Appendix XXXVII.

[124] See Appendix XXXVIII.

[125] In Tokyo one may sleep night after night in summer with no covering but the thinnest loose cotton kimono and have an electric fan going within the mosquito curtain, and still feel the heat.

[126] The kimono has no button, hook, tie, or fastening of any kind, and is kept in place by the waist string and obi.

[127] It is an illustration of the difficulty of using a foreign symbolism that it is unlikely that a single child in the school had ever seen a shepherd or a sheep.

[128] In 1918 the value of seaweed was returned at 13,600,000 yen.

[129] In fifteen years a kiri tree may be about 20 ft. high and 3 ft. in circumference and be worth 30 yen. Kiri trees to the value of 3 million yen were felled in 1918.



Page 132




Sir, I am talking of the mass of the people.—Johnson

The railway made its way through snow stockades and through many tunnels which pierced cryptomeria-clad hills. Eventually we descended to the wonderful Kambara plains, a sea of emerald rice. Fourteen million bushels of rice are produced on the flats of Niigata prefecture, which grows more rice than any other. The rice, grown under 800 different names, is officially graded into half a dozen qualities. The problem of the high country we had come from was how to keep its paddy fields from drying up; the problem of Niigata is chiefly to keep the water in its fields at a sufficiently low level. Almost every available square yard of the prefecture is paddy.

At Gosen there were depressing-looking weaving sheds, but the Black Country created by the oil fields farther on was in even more striking contrast with the beautiful region we had left. The petroleum yield was 65 million gallons, and the smell of the oil went with us to the capital city.

Niigata has a dark reputation for exporting farmers' daughters to other parts of Japan, but I have also heard that the percentage of attendance made by the children at the primary schools of the prefecture is higher than anywhere else. Like Amsterdam, Niigata is a city of bridges. There must be 200 of them. The big timber bridge across the estuary is nearly half a mile long. One finds in Niigata a Manchester-like spirit of business enterprise. Our hotel was excellent.

Because they speak with all sorts of people and hear a Page 133 great deal of conversation the blind amma are full of interesting gossip. A clever amma who ran his knuckles up and down my back said that farm land a good way from Niigata was sold at from 200 yen to 300 yen and sometimes at 400 yen per quarter acre. [130] Prefectural officials who called on me explained that drainage operations on a large scale were being completed. The water of which the low land was relieved would be used to extend farming in the hills. An effort was also being made to develop stock-keeping in the uplands. It was proposed "to supply every farmer with a scheme for increasing his live stock." The optimistic authorities were particularly attracted by the notion of keeping sheep. The plan was to arrange for co-operation in hill pasturing and in wool and meat production. Mutton was as yet unknown, however, in Niigata. (The mutton eaten by foreigners in Japan usually comes from Shanghai.)

I went into the country to a little place where the natural gas from the soil was used by the farmers for lighting and cooking. I heard talk in this village and in others of the influence of the local army reservists' society. "Young men on returning from their army service are always influential. They are much respected by the youths and are talkative indeed in the village assembly."

As our host was the village headman he kindly brought the assembly together to meet me. I asked the assembled fathers about two stones erected in the village. Somebody had kindled a fire of rice screenings near one of them and it had been scorched. On the other stone a kimono had been hung to dry. The explanation was that the stones were monuments not shrines, and that the people who had set them up had left the district. The stones were no doubt respected while the donors lived. It was not uncommon for a pilgrim to a shrine to erect a memorial on his return home.

In this village fifty Shinto shrines of the fifth class had been closed under the influence of the Home Office. They were shrines which had no offering from the village to Page 134 support them. They had only a few worshippers. All the remaining shrines were of the fifth class but one, and it was of the fourth class. In the county there was a second-class shrine and in the whole prefecture there were two or three first-class shrines. The villagers had agreed among themselves which of their own shrines should be made an end of. A shrine which was dispensed with was burnt. The stone steps approaching it were also removed. Burning was not sacrilege but purification. On the closing of a shrine there might be complaints on the part of some old man or woman, but the majority of people approved. One Shinto shrine guardian lived at the fourth-class shrine and conducted a ceremony at the sixteen fifth-class shrines. Of the twenty Buddhist temples in the village (300 families cultivating an average of a chō apiece), twelve were Hokke, five Shingon, two Shinshu and one Zen. All the priests were married. [131]

I have used the phrase "Buddhist temple" loosely and may do so again, for it conveys an idea which "Buddhist church" does not. A temple () is properly an edifice in which a Buddha is enshrined. This building is not for services or burial ceremonies or anniversary offerings for departed souls. It may or may not have a guardian (domori). He is never a priest with a shaven head. A Buddhist church (tera) is a place where adherents go as anniversaries come round or for sermons. It possesses a priest. There is a considerable difference in the style of Buddhist edifices according to their denomination—Zen buildings are particularly plain—but all are more elaborate than Shinto shrines.

A large Shinto shrine is called yashiro (house of god); a small one hokora. A hokora is transportable. Originally it was and in some places it still is a perishable wooden shrine thatched with reed or grass straw which is renewed at the spring and autumn festivals. It may be less than two feet high and may be made of stone or wood. But it cannot be regarded as a building. Inside there are gohei (upright Page 135 sticks with paper streamers). In a rich man's house a hokora may be seven or eight feet high or bigger than the smallest yashiro, and may be embellished with colour and metal.

Returning to Buddhism, if a priest has a son he may be succeeded by him. But many Buddhist priests marry late and have no children. Or their children do not want to be priests. So the priest adopts a successor. Sometimes he maintains an orphan as acolyte or coadjutor. During the day this assistant goes to school. In the evenings and during holidays he is taught to become a priest. When the primary-school education is finished the lad may be sent by his patron, if he is well enough off, to a school of his sect at Kyoto or Tokyo.

My travelling companion spoke of the infiltration of new ideas in town and country. "A mixing is taking place in the heart and head of everybody who is not a bigot. But I don't know that some kinds of Christianity are to do much for us. I heard the other day of a Japanese Presbyterian who was preaching with zest about hell fire. Generally speaking, our old men are looking to the past and our young men are aspiring, but not all. Some are content if they can live uncriticised by their neighbours. When they become old they may begin to think of a future life and visit temples. But as young men their thoughts are fully occupied by things of this world."

In the office of the headman whom I mentioned a page or so back, there was behind his chair a kakemono which read, "Reflecting and Examining One's Inner Spirit." We passed a night in the old house of this headman, who was a poet and a country gentleman of a delightful type. Being an eldest son he had married young, and his relations with his eldest boy, a frank and clever lad, were pleasant to see. The garden, instead of being shut in by a wall with a tiled coping or by a palisade of bamboo stems in the ordinary way, was open towards the rice fields, a scene of restful beauty. As our kuruma drew near the house, the steward appeared, a broom in his hand. Running for a short distance before us until we entered the courtyard, he symbolically swept the ground according to old custom. Page 136 After a delightful hot bath and an elaborate supper, which my fellow traveller afterwards assured me had meant a week's work for the women of the household—snapping turtle and choice bamboo shoots were among the honourable dishes—we gathered at the open side of the room overlooking the garden. Fireflies glowed in the paddies and in the garden two stone lanterns had been lighted. One of them, which had a crescent-shaped opening cut in it, gleamed like the moon; the other, which had a small serrated opening, represented a star.

I paid a visit to the local agricultural co-operative store which did business under the motto, "Faith is the Mother of all Virtue." More than half the money taken at the store was for artificial manures. Next came purchases of imported rice, for, like the Danish peasants who export their butter and eat margarine, the local peasants sold their own rice and bought the Saigon variety. The society sold in a year a considerable quantity of saké. Stretched over the doorway of the building in which the goods of the society were stored were the rope and paper streamers which are seen before Shinto shrines and consecrated places. The society had a large flag post for weather signals, a white flag for a fine day, a red one for cloudy weather and a blue one for rain.

I brought away from this village a calendar of agricultural operations with poems or mottoes for each month, in the collection of which I suspect the poet had a hand:

January: Future of the day determined in the morning.

February: The voice of one reading a farming book coming from the snow-covered window.

March: Grafting these young trees, thinking of the days of my grandchildren.

April: Digging the soil of the paddy field, sincerity concentrated on the edge of the mattock.

May: Returning home with the dim moonlight glinting on the edges of our mattocks.

June: Boundless wealth stored up by gracious heaven: dig it out with your mattock, take it away with your sickle.

Page 137 July: Weeding the paddy field [132] in a happiness and contentment which townspeople do not know.

August: Standing peasant worthier than resting rich man.

September: Ears of rice bend their heads as they ripen. (An allusion to wisdom and meekness.)

October: White steam coming out of a manure house on an autumn morning.

November: Moon clear and bright above neatly divided paddy fields.

December: All the members of the family smiling and celebrating the year's end, piling up many bales of rice.

In this district I first noticed cotton. It is sown in June and is picked from time to time between early September and early November. Cotton has been grown for centuries in Japan, but nowadays it is produced for household weaving only, the needs of the factories being met by foreign imports. The plant has a beautiful yellow flower with a dark brown eye.

In one village I asked how many people smoked. The answer was 60 per cent. of the men and 10 per cent. of the women. In the same village, which did not seem particularly well off, I was told that 200 daily papers might be taken among 1,300 families. Eighty per cent. of the local papers were dailies and cost 35 sen a month. Tokyo papers cost 45 or 50 sen a month.

I visited a school, half of which was in a building adjoining a temple and half in the temple itself. In the same county there were two other schools housed in temples. The small Shinto shrine in this temple held the Imperial Rescript on education. On one side of it was an ugly American clock and on the other a thermometer. In the temple (Zen) two Tokyo University students were staying in ideal conditions for vacation study.

I saw at one place a very tired, unslept-looking peasant with a small closed tub carried over his shoulder by means of a pole. On the tub was tied a white streamer, such as is supplied at a Shinto shrine, and a branch of sakaki (Eurya ochnacea, the sacred tree). The traveller was Page 138 the delegate of his village. He had been to a mountain shrine in the next prefecture and the tub held the water he had got there. The idea is that if he succeeds in making the journey home without stopping anywhere his efforts will result in rain coming down at his village. If he should stop at any place to rest or sleep, and there should be the slightest drip from his tub there, then the rain will be procured not for his own village but for the community in which he has tarried. So our voyager had walked not only for a whole day but through the night. I heard of a rain delegate who had stamina enough to keep walking for three or four days without sleeping.

Another way of obtaining rain has principally to do with tugging at a rock with a straw rope. Then there is the plan already referred to of tying straw ropes to a stone image and flinging it into the river, saying, "If you don't give us rain you will stay there; if you do give us rain you shall come out." There is also the method of paying someone liberally to throw the split open head of an ox into the deep pool of a waterfall. "Then the water god being much angry," said my informant, "he send his dragon to that village, so storm and rain come necessarily." Yet another plan is for the villagers simply to ascend to a particular mountain top crying, "Give us rain! Give us rain!" While dealing with these magic arts I may reproduce the following rendering of a printed "fortune" which I received from a rural shrine: "Wish to agree but now somewhat difficult. Wait patiently for a while. Do nothing wrong. Wait for the spring to come. Everything will be completed and will become better. Endeavouring to accomplish it soon will be fruitless."

It was a student of agricultural conditions, in Toyama who gossiped to me of the large expenditure by farmers of that prefecture on the marriage of their daughters. "It is not so costly as the boys' education and it procures a good reception for the girl from father-and mother-in-law. The pinch comes when there is a second and third daughter, for the average balance in hand of a peasant proprietor in this prefecture at the end of the year is only 48 yen. Borrowing is necessary and I heard of one bankruptcy. The Governor Page 139 tried to stop the custom but it is too old. They say Toyama people spend more proportionately than the people in other prefectures. In general they do not keep a horse or ox. I heard of young farmers stealing each other's crops. Parents are very severe upon a daughter who becomes ill-famed, for when they seek a husband for her they must spend more. So mostly daughters keep their purity before marriage. But I know parts of Japan where a large number of the girls have ceased to be virtuous. Concerning the priests, those of Toyama are the worst. A peasant proprietor with seven of a family and a balance at the end of the year of 100 yen must pay 30 to 40 yen to the temple. Some priests threaten the farmer, saying that if he does not pay as much as is imposed on him by the collector an inferior Buddha will go past his door. Priests want to keep farmers foolish as long as they can."


[130] For prices of land, see Appendix LIV.

[131] There are about 116,000 Shinto shrines of all grades and 14,000 priests, and 71,000 temples and 51,000 priests. There are about a dozen Shinto sects and about thirty Buddhist sects and sub-sects.

[132] It is done by wading in leech-infested water under a burning sun and pulling out the weeds by hand and pushing them down into the sludge.



Page 140




It is one more incitement to a man to do well.—Boswell

Eighty per cent. of Nagano is slope. Hence its dependence on sericulture. The low stone-strewn roofs of the houses, the railway snow shelters and the zig-zag track which the train takes, hint at the climatic conditions in winter time. Despite the snow—ski-ing has been practised for some years—the summer climate of Nagano has been compared with that of Champagne and there is one vineyard of 60,000 vines.

I was invited to join a circle of administrators who were discussing rural morality and religion. One man said that there was not 20 per cent. of the villages in which the priests were "active for social development." Another speaker of experience declared that "the four pillars of an agricultural village" were "the sonchō (headman), the schoolmaster, the policeman and the most influential villager." He went on: "In Europe religion does many things for the support and development of morality, but we look to education, for it aims not at only developing intelligence and giving knowledge, but at teaching virtue and honesty. But there is something beyond that. Thousands of our soldiers died willingly in the Russian war. There must have been something at the bottom of their hearts. That something is a certain sentiment which penetrates deeply the characters of our countrymen. Our morality and customs have it in their foundations. This spirit is Yamato damashii (Japanese spirit). It appeared among our warriors as bushido (the way of the soldier), but it is not the monopoly of soldiers. Every Page 141 Japanese has some of this spirit. It is the moral backbone of Japan."

"I should like to say," another speaker declared, "that I read many European and American books, but I remain Japanese. Mr. Uchimura sees the darkest side of Buddhism and Mr. Lafcadio Hearn expected too much from it. 'So mysterious,' Hearn said, but it is not so mysterious to us. We must be grateful to him for seeing something of the essence of our life. Sometimes, however, we may be ashamed of his beautifying sentences. I am a modern man, but I am not ashamed when my wife is with child to pray that it may be healthy and wise. It is possible for us Japanese to worship some god somewhere without knowing why. The poet says, 'I do not know the reason of it, but tears fall down from my eyes in reverence and gratitude.' I suppose this is natural theology. The proverb says, 'Even the head of a sardine is something if believed in.' I attach more importance to a man's attitude to something higher than himself than to the thing which is revered by him. Whether a man goes to Nara and Kyoto or to a Roman Catholic or a Methodist church he can come home very purified in heart."

"Some foreigners have thought well to call us 'half civilised,'" the speaker went on. "Can it be that uncivilised is something distasteful to or not understood by Europeans and Americans? We have the ambition to erect some system of Eastern civilisation. It is possible that we may have it in our minds to call some things in Europe 'half civilised.' Surely the barbarians are usually the people other than ourselves. When the townsman goes to the country he says the people are savages. But the countryman finds his fellow-savages quite decent people."

"Some time ago," broke in a professor, "I read a novel by René Bazin and I could not but think how much alike were our peasants and the peasants of the West."

The previous speaker resumed: "The other day a foreigner laughed in my presence at our old art of incense burning and actually said that we were deficient in the sense of smell. I told him that fifty years ago our samurai Page 142 class, in excusing their anti-foreign manifestations, said they could not endure the smell of foreigners, and that to this day our peasants may be heard to say of Western people, 'They smell; they smell of butter and fat.'"

In the city of Nagano early in the morning I went to a large Buddhist temple where the authorities had kindly given me special facilities to see the treasures—alas! all in a wooden structure. A strange thing was the preservation untouched of the room in which the Emperor Meiji rested thirty years ago. May oblivion be one day granted to that awful chenille table cover and those appalling chairs which outrage the beautiful woodwork and the golden tatami of a great building! At the entrance of the temple priests in a kind of open office were reading the newspaper, playing or smoking. More pleasing was the sight of matting spread right round the temple below its eaves, in order that weary pilgrims might sleep there, and the spectacle of travel-stained women tranquilly sleeping or suckling their infants before the shrine itself. There is a pitch dark underground passage below the floor round the foundations of the great Buddha, and if the circuit be made and the lock communicating with the entrance door to the sacred figure be fortunately touched on the way, paradise, peasants believe, is assured. I made the circuit a few moments after an old woman and found the lock, and on returning to the temple with the rustic dame knelt with her before the shrine as the curtain which veils the big Buddha was withdrawn. The face of one wooden figure in the temple had been worn, like that of many another in Japan, with the stroking that it had received from the ailing faithful.

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I had the privilege of visiting the adjoining nunnery. As I was specially favoured by a general admission, I asked to be permitted to see some nuns' cells. They showed a Buddhist advance on Western ideas. The word "cells" was a misnomer for beautiful little flower-adorned rooms of a cheerful Japanese house. The fragile, wistful nun who was so kind as to speak with me had a consecrated expression. Her dress was white, and over it was brocade in a perfect combination of green and cream. Her head Page 143 was shaven; her hands, which continually told her beads, were hidden. Religious services are conducted and sermons are delivered here and in other nunneries by the nuns themselves. I could not but be sorry for some girl children who had become nuns on their relatives' or guardians' decision. Adult newcomers are given a month in which, if they wish, they may repent them of their vows; but what of the children? The head of this nunnery was a member of the Imperial family. The institution, like the temple from which I had just come, stores thousands of wooden tablets to the memory of the dead. There are many little receptacles in which the hair, the teeth or the photographs of believers are preserved. I found that both at the nunnery and the temple a practical interest was being shown in the reformation of ex-criminals.

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While in the highlands of Nagano I spent a night at Karuizawa, a hill resort at which tired missionaries and their families, not only from all parts of Japan but from China, gather in the summer months beyond the reach of the mosquito. [133] I stayed in the summer cottage of my travelling companion's brother-in-law. The family consisted of a reserved, cultivated man with a pretty wife of what I have heard a foreigner call "the maternal, domestic type." In their owlishness newcomers to the country are inclined to commiserate all Japanese housewives as the "slaves of their husbands." They would have been sadly wrong in such thoughts about this happy wife and mother. The eldest boy, a wholesome-looking lad, had just passed through the middle school on his way to the university, and spoke to me in simple English with that air of responsibility which the eldest son so soon acquires in Japan. His brothers and sisters enjoyed a happy relation with him and with each other. The whole family was merry, unselfish and, in the best sense of the word, educated. As we knelt on our zabuton we refreshed ourselves with tea and the fine view of the active volcano, Asama, and chatted Page 144 on schools, holidays, books, the country and religion. After a while, a little to my surprise, the mother in her sweet voice gravely said that if I would not mind at all she would like very much to ask me two questions. The first was, "Are the people who go to the Christian church here all Christians?" and the second, "Are Christians as affectionate as Japanese?"

Karuizawa, which is full of ill-nourished, scabby-headed, "bubbly-nosed" [134] Japanese children, is an impoverished place on one of the ancient highways. We took ourselves along the road until we reached at a slightly higher altitude the decayed village of Oiwaké. When the railway came near it finished the work of desolation which the cessation of the daimyos' progresses to Yedo (now Tokyo) had begun half a century ago. In the days of the Shogun three-quarters of the 300 houses were inns. Now two-thirds of the houses have become uninhabitable, or have been sold, taken down and rebuilt elsewhere. The Shinto shrines are neglected and some are unroofed, the Zen temple is impoverished, the school is comfortless and a thousand tombstones in the ancient burying ground among the trees are half hidden in moss and undergrowth.

The farm rents now charged in Oiwaké had not been changed for thirty, forty or fifty years. In the old inn there was a Shinto shrine, about 12 ft. long by nearly 2 ft. deep, with latticed sliding doors. It contained a dusty collection of charms and memorials dating back for generations. Outside in the garden at the spring I found an irregular row of half a dozen rather dejected-looking little stone hokora about a foot high. Some had faded gohei thrust into them, but from the others the clipped paper strips had blown away. At the foot of the garden I discovered a somewhat elaborate wooden shrine in a dilapidated state. "Few country people," someone said to me, "know who is enshrined at such a place." It is generally thought that these shrines are dedicated to the fox. But the foxes are Page 145 merely the messengers of the shrine, as is shown by the figures of crouching or squatting foxes at either side. A well-known professor lately arrived at the conviction that the god worshipped at such shrines is the god of agriculture. He went so far as to recommend the faculty of agriculture at Tokyo university to have a shrine erected within its walls to this divinity, but the suggestion was not adopted.

In the course of another chat with the old host of the inn he referred to the time, close on half a century ago, when 3,000 hungry peasants marched through the district demanding rice. They did no harm. "They were satisfied when they were given food; the peasants at that time were heavily oppressed." To-day the people round about look as if they were oppressed by the ghosts of old-time tyrants. But there is "something that doth linger" of self-respect. When we left on our way to Tokyo I gave the man who brought our bags a mile in a barrow to the station 40 sen. He returned 10 sen, saying that 30 sen was enough.


[133] Although, as has been seen, the rural problems under investigation in this book are inextricably bound up with religion, limits of space make it necessary to reserve for another volume the consideration of the large and complex question of missionary work.

[134] As to the "bubbly-nosed callant," to quote the description given of young Smollett, nasal unpleasantness seems to be popularly regarded as a sign of health. The constant sight of it is one of the minor discomforts of travel.



Page 146





A foreigner who comes among us without prejudice may speak his mind freely.—Goldsmith

I went back to Nagano to visit the silk industrial regions. My route lay through the prefectures of Saitama and Gumma. I left Tokyo on the last day of June. Many farmers were threshing their barley. On the dry-land patches, where the grain crop had been harvested, soya bean, sown between the rows of grain long before harvest, was becoming bushier now that it was no longer overshadowed. Maize in most places was about a foot high, but where it had been sown early was already twice that height. The sweet potato had been planted out from its nursery bed for weeks. Here and there were small crops of tea which had been severely picked for its second crop. I noticed melons, cucumbers and squashes, and patches of the serviceable burdock. Many paddy farmers had water areas devoted to lotus, but the big floating leaves were not yet illumined by the mysterious beauty of the honey-scented flowers.

In order to imagine the scene on the rice flats, the reader must not think of the glistering paddy fields [136] as stretching in an unbroken monotonous series over the plain. Occasionally a rocky patch, outcropping from the paddy tract, made a little island of wood. Sometimes it was a Page 147 sacred grove in which one caught a glimpse of a Shinto shrine or the head stones of the dead. Sometimes there was a little clump of cropped tree greenery which kept a farmhouse cool in summer and, at another time of the year, sheltered from the wind. Few householders were too poor or too busy to be without their little patch of flowers.

Before the train climbed out of the Kwanto plain temperature of not far below 100° F. the planting of rice seemed to be almost an enviable occupation. The peasant had his great umbrella-shaped straw hat, sometimes an armful of green stuff tied on his back, and a delicious feeling of being up to the knees in water or mud on a hot day-one recalled the mud baths of the West-when the alternative was walking on a dusty road, digging on the sun-baked upland or perspiring in a house or the train.

With the rise in the level a few mulberries began to appear and gradually they occupied a large part of the holdings. Sometimes the mulberries were cultivated as shoots from a stump a little above ground level, and sometimes as a kind of small standard. As mulberry culture increased, the silk factories' whitewashed cocoon stores and the tall red and black iron chimneys of the factories themselves became more numerous. It is a pity that the silk factory is not always so innocent-looking inside as the pure white exterior of its stores might suggest. It is certain that the overworked girl operatives, sitting at their steaming basins, drawing the silk from the soaked cocoons, were glad to find the weather conditions such that they could have the sides of their reeling sheds removed.

At many of the railway stations there were stacks of large, round, flat bean cakes, for the farmer feeds his "cake" to his fields direct, not through the medium of cattle. Although a paddy receives less agreeable nutritive materials than bean cake, the extensive use of this cake must be comforting to a little school of rural reformers in the West. These ardent vegetarians have refused to listen to the allegation that vegetarianism was impossible because without meat-eating there would be no cattle and therefore no nitrogen for the fields.

It was not only the bean cakes at the stations which Page 148 caught my attention but the extensive use of lime. Square miles of paddy field were white with powdered lime, scattered before the planting of the rice, an operation which in the higher altitudes would not be finished until well on in July.

A contented and prosperous countryside was no doubt the impression reflected to many passengers in the train that sunny day. But I knew how closely pressed the farmers had been by the rise in prices of many things that they had got into the way of needing. I had learnt, too, the part that superstition [137] as well as simple faith played in the lives of the country folk. When, however, I pondered the way in which the rural districts had been increasingly invaded by factories run under the commercial sanctions of our eighteen-forties, I asked myself whether there might not be superstitions of the economic world as well as of religious and social life.

I heard a Japanese speak of being well treated at inns in the old days for 20 sen a night. It should be remembered, however, that there is a system not only of tipping inn servants but of tipping the inn. The gift to the inn is called chadai and guests are expected to offer a sum which has some relation to their position and means and the food and treatment they expect. I have stayed at inns where I have paid as much chadai as bill. To pay 50 per cent. of the bill as chadai is common. The idea behind chadai is that the inn-keeper charges only his out-of-pocket expenses and that therefore the guest naturally desires to requite him. In acknowledgment of chadai the inn-keeper brings a gift to the guest at his departure—fans, pottery, towels, picture postcards, fruit or slabs of stiff acidulated fruit jelly (in one inn of grapes and in another of plums) laid between strips of maize leaf. The right time to give chadai is on entering the hotel, after the "welcome tea." In handing money to any person in Japan, except a porter or a kurumaya, the cash or notes are wrapped in paper.

On the journey from the city of Nagano to Matsumoto, wonderful views were unfolded of terraced rice fields, and, Page 149 above these, of terraced fields of mulberry. How many hundred feet high the terraces rose as the train climbed the hills I do not know, but I have had no more vivid impression of the triumphs of agricultural hydraulic engineering. We were seven minutes in passing through one tunnel at a high elevation.

I spoke in the train with a man who had a dozen chō under grapes, 20 per cent. being European varieties and 80 per cent. American. He said that some of the people in his district were "very poor." Some farmers had made money in sericulture too quickly for it to do them good. He volunteered the opinion, in contrast with the statement made to me during our journey to Niigata, that the people of the plains were morally superior to the people of the mountains. The reason he gave was that "there are many recreations in the plains whereas in the mountains there is only one." In most of the mountain villages he knew three-quarters of the young men had relations with women, mostly with the girls of the village or the adjoining village. He would not make the same charge against more than ten per cent. of the young men of the plains, and "it is after all with teahouse girls." He thought that there were "too many temples and too many sects, so the priests are starved."

An itinerant agricultural instructor in sericulture who joined in our conversation was not much concerned by the plight of the priests. "The causes of goodness in our people," he said, "are family tradition and home training. Candidly, we believe our morals are not so bad on the whole. We are now putting most stress on economic development. How to maintain their families is the question that troubles people most. With that question unsolved it is preaching to a horse to preach morality. We can always find high ideals and good leaders when economic conditions improve. The development of morality is our final aim, but it is encouraged for six years at the primary school. The child learns that if it does bad things it will be laughed at and despised by the neighbours and scolded by its parents. We are busy with the betterment of economic conditions and questions about morality and religion puzzle us."

Page 150 When I reached Matsumoto I met a rural dignitary who deplored the increasing tendency of city men to invest in rural property. "Sometimes when a peasant sells his land he sets up as a money-lender." I was told that nearly every village had a sericultural co-operative association, which bought manures, mulberry trees and silk-worm eggs, dried cocoons and hatched eggs for its members and spent money on the destruction of rats. Of recent years the county agricultural association had given 5 yen per tan to farmers who planted improved sorts of mulberry. About half the farmers in the county had manure houses. Some 800 farmers in the county kept a labourer.

I went to see a gunchō and read on his wall: "Do not get angry. Work! Do not be in a hurry, yet do not be lazy." "These being my faults," he explained, "I specially wrote them out." There was also on his wall a kakemono reading: "At twenty I found that even a plain householder may influence the future of his province; at thirty that he may influence the future of his nation; at forty that he may influence the future of the whole world." Below this stirring sentiment was a portrait of the writer, a samurai scholar, from a photograph taken with a camera which he had made himself. He lived in the last period of the Shogunate and studied Dutch books. He was killed by an assassin at the instance, it was believed, of the Shogun.

One of the noteworthy things of Matsumoto was the agricultural association's market. Another piece of organisation in that part of the world was fourteen institutes where girls were instructed in the work of silk factory hands. The teachers' salaries were paid by the factories. So were also the expenses of the silk experts of the local authorities. On the day I left the city the daily paper contained an announcement of lectures on hygiene to women on three successive days, "the chief of police to be present." This paper was demanding the exemption of students from the bicycle tax, the rate of which varies in different prefectures.

A young man was brought to see me who was specialising in musk melons. He said that the Japanese are gradually getting out of their partiality for unripe fruit.

Page 151 On our way to the Suwas we saw many wretched dwellings. The feature of the landscape was the silk factories' tall iron chimneys, ordinarily black though sometimes red, white or blue.

It is not commonly understood that Japanese lads by the time they "graduate" from the middle school into the higher school have had some elementary military training. A higher-school youth knows how to handle a rifle and has fired twice at a target. At Kami Suwa the problem of how middle-class boys should procure economical lodging while attending their classes had been solved by self-help. An ex-scholar of twenty had managed to borrow 4,000 yen and had proceeded to build on a hillside a dormitory accommodating thirty-six boarders. Lads did the work of levelling the ground and digging the well. The frugal lines on which the lodging-house was conducted by the lads themselves may be judged from the fact that 5 yen a month covered everything. Breakfast consisted of rice, miso soup and pickles. Cooking and the emptying of the benjo [138] were done by the lads in turn. A kitchen garden was run by common effort. Among the many notices on the walls was one giving the names of the residents who showed up at 5 o'clock in the morning for a cold bath and fencing. I also saw the following instruction written by the founder of the house, which is read aloud every morning by each resident in turn:

Be independent and pure and strive to make your characters more beautiful. Expand your thought. Help each other to accomplish your ambitions. Be active and steady and do not lose your self-control. Be faithful to friends and righteous and polite. Be silent and keep order. Do not be luxurious (sic). Keep everything clean. Pay attention to sanitation. Do not neglect physical exercises. Be diligent and develop your intelligence.

The borrower of the 4,000 yen with which the institution was built managed to pay it back within seven years with interest, out of the subscriptions of residents and ex-residents.

Page 152 An agricultural authority whom I met spoke of "farming families living from hand to mouth and their land slipping into the possession of landlords"; also of a fifth of the peasants in the prefecture being tenants. A young novelist who had been wandering about the Suwa district had been impressed by the grim realities of life in poor farmers' homes and cited facts on which he based a low view of rural morality.

Suwa Lake lies more than 3,500 ft. above sea level and in winter is covered with skaters. The country round about is remarkable agriculturally for the fact that many farmers are able to lead into their paddies not only warm water from the hot springs but water from ammonia springs, so economising considerably in their expenditure on manure. A simple windmill for lifting the fertilising water is sold for only 4 yen.

We went to Kōfu, the capital of Yamanashi prefecture, through many mountain tunnels and ravines. Entrancing is the just word for this region in the vicinity of the Alps. But joy in the beauty through which we passed is tinged for the student of rural life by thoughts of the highlander's difficulties in getting a living in spots where quiet streams may become in a few hours ungovernable torrents. I remember glimpses of grapes and persimmons, of parties of middle-school boys tramping out their holiday—every inn reduces its terms for them—and of half a dozen peasant girls bathing in a shaded stream. But there were less pleasing scenes: hills deforested and paddies wrecked by a waste of stones and gravel flung over them in time of flood. Here and there the indomitable farmers, counting on the good behaviour of the river for a season or two, were endeavouring, with enormous labour, to resume possession of what had been their own. The spectacle illustrated at once their spirit and their industry and their need of land. At night we slept at Kōfu at "the inn of greeting peaks." In the morning a Governor with imagination told me of the prefecture's gallant enterprises in afforestation and river embanking at expenditures which were almost crippling.


[135] The three leading silk prefectures are in order: Nagano, Fukushima and Gumma.

[136] At this time of the year, when the rice plants are small, the water in the paddies is still conspicuous.

[137] An old Japan hand once counselled me that "the thing to find out in sociological enquiries is not people's religions but their superstitions."

[138] See Appendix IV.



Page 153




The mulberry leaf knoweth not that it shall be silk.—Arab proverb

One acre in every dozen in Japan produces mulberry leaves for feeding the silk-worms which two million farming families—more than a third of the farming families of the country—painstakingly rear.

But the mulberry is not the only mark of a sericultural district. Its mark may be seen in the tall chimneys of the factories and in the structure of the farmers' houses. Breeders of silk-worms are often well enough off to have tiled instead of thatched roofs; they have frequently two storeys to their dwellings; and they have almost always a roof ventilator so that the vitiated air from the hibachi-heated silk-worm chambers may be carried off. Yet another sign of sericulture being a part of the agricultural activities of a district is its prosperity. Silk-worms produce the most valuable of all Japanese exports. Japan sends abroad more raw silk than any other country. [139]

It is in the middle of the country that sericulture chiefly nourishes. The smallest output of raw silk is from the most northerly prefecture and from the prefecture in the extreme south-west of the mainland. But human aptitude plays its part as well as climate. The Japanese hand is a wonderful piece of mechanism—look at the hands of the next Japanese you meet—and in sericulture its delicate touch is used to the utmost advantage.

The gains of sericulture are not made without corresponding sacrifices. Silk-worm raising is infinitely laborious. The constant picking of leaves, the bringing of them home and the chopping and supplying of these leaves to the Page 154 smallest of all live stock and the maintenance of a proper temperature in the rearing-chamber day and night mean unending work. The silk-worms may not be fed less than four or five times in the day; in their early life they are fed seven or eight times. This is the feeding system for spring caterpillars. Summer and autumn breeds must have two or three more meals. The men and women who attend to them, particularly the women, are worn out by the end of the season. "The women have only three hours' rest in the twenty-four hours," I remember someone saying. "They never loose their obi."

When the caterpillars emerge from the tiny, pin-head-like eggs of the silk-worm moth they are minute creatures. Therefore the mulberry leaves are chopped very fine indeed. They are chopped less and less fine as the silk-worms grow, until finally whole leaves and leaves adhering to the shoots are given. Some rearers are skilful enough to supply from the very beginning leaves or leaves still on the shoots. The caterpillars live in bamboo trays or "beds" on racks. In the house of one farmer I found caterpillars about three-quarters of an inch long occupying fifteen trays. When the silk-worms grew larger they would occupy two hundred trays.

The eggs, when not produced on the farm, are bought adhering to cards about a foot square. There are usually marked on these cards twenty-eight circles about 2 ins. in diameter. Each circle is covered with eggs. The eggs come to be arranged in these convenient circles because, as will be explained later on, the moths have been induced to lay within bottomless round tins placed on the circles on the cards. The eggs are sticky when laid and therefore adhere. In a year 35,000,000 cards, containing about a billion eggs, are produced on some 10,000 egg-raising farms.

The eggs—they are called "seed"—are hatched in the spring (end of April—as soon as the first leaves of the mulberry are available—to the middle of May), summer (June and July) and autumn (August and October). It takes from three to seven days—according to temperature—for the "seed" to hatch, and from twenty to thirty-two days—according to temperature—for the silk-worms to Page 155 reach maturity. Half the hatching is done in spring. In one farmer's house I visited in the spring season I found that he had hatched fifty cards of "seed." From the birth of the caterpillars to the formation of cocoons the casualties must be reckoned at ten per cent. daily. Not more than eighty-five per cent. of the cocoons which are produced are of good quality. The remainder are misshapen or contain dead chrysalises. As there are more than a thousand breeds of silk-worm, all cocoons are not of the same shape and colour. Some are oval; some are shaped like a monkey nut. Most are white but some are yellow and others yellow tinted.

In the whole world of stock raising there is nothing more remarkable than the birth of silk-worm moths. The cocoons on the racks in the farmer's loft are covered by sheets of newspaper in which a number of round holes about three-quarters of an inch in diameter have been cut. When the moths emerge from their cocoons they seek these openings towards the light and creep through to the upper side of the newspaper. For newly born things they come up through these openings with astonishing ardour. In body and wings the moths are flour white. White garments are suitable for the babe, the bride and the dead, and the moth perfected in the cocoon is arrayed not only for its birth but for bridal and death, which come upon it in swift succession. The male as well as the female is in white and is distinguishable by being somewhat smaller in size. On the newspaper the few males who have not found partners are executing wild dances, their wings whirring the while at a mad pace. When from time to time they cease dancing they haunt the holes in the paper through which the newly born moths emerge. When a female appears a male instantly rushes towards her, or rather the two creatures rush towards one another, and they are at once locked in a fast embrace. Immediately their wings cease to flutter, the only commotion on the newspaper being made by the unmated males. In a hatching-room these males on the stacks of trays are so numerous that the place is filled with the sound of the whirring of their wings. The down flies from their wings to such an extent that one continually sneezes. The spectacle of the Page 156 stacks of trays covered by these ecstatic moths is remarkable, but still more remarkable is the thrilling sense of the power of the life-force in a supposedly low form of consciousness.

The wonder of the scene is missed, no doubt, by most of those who are habituated to it. From time to time weary, stolid-looking girls or old women lift down the trays and run their hands over them in order to pick up superfluous male moths. Sometimes the male moths are walking about the newspaper, sometimes they are torn callously from the embrace of their mates. The fate of the male moths is to be flung into a basket where they stay until the next day, when perhaps some of them may be mated again. The novice is impressed not only by the ruthlessness of this treatment but by the way in which the whole loft is littered by male moths which have fallen or have been flung on the floor and are being trampled on.

The female moths, when their partners have been removed, are taken downstairs in newspapers in order to be put into the little tin receptacles where the eggs are to be laid. On a tray there are spread out a number of egg cards with, as before mentioned, twenty-eight printed circles on each of them. On these circles are placed the twenty-eight half-inch-high bottomless enclosures of tin. Some one takes up a handful of moths and scatters them over the tins. Some of the moths fall neatly into a tin apiece. Others are helped into the little enclosures in which, to do them credit, they are only too willing to take up their quarters. The curious thing is the way in which each moth settles down within her ring. Indeed from the moment of her emergence from the cocoon until now she has never used her wings to fly. Nor did the male moth seem to wish to fly. The sexes concentrate their whole attention on mating. After that the female thinks of nothing but laying eggs. Almost immediately after she is placed within her little tin she begins to deposit eggs, and within a few hours the circle of the card is covered.

Food is given neither to the females nor to the males. Those which are not kept in reserve for possible use on the second day are flung out of doors. When the female moth Page 157 has deposited her eggs she also is destroyed. [140] The shoji of the breeding and egg-laying rooms permit only of a diffused light. The discarded moths are cast out into the brilliant sunshine where they are eaten by poultry or are left to die and serve as manure.

Sericulture is always a risky business. There is first the risk of a fall in prices. Just before I reached Japan prices were so low that many people despaired of being able to continue the business, and shortly after I left there was a crisis in the silk trade in which numbers of silk factories failed. At the time I was last in a silk-worm farmer's house cocoons were worth from 5 to 6 yen per kwan of 8¼ lbs. From 8 to 10 kwan of cocoons could be expected from a single egg card. Eggs were considered to be at a high price when they were more than 2 yen per card. The risks of the farmer are increased when he launches out and buys mulberry leaves to supplement those produced on his own land. Sometimes the price of leaves is so high that farmers throw away some of their silk-worms. The risks run by the man who grows mulberries beyond his own leaf requirements on the chance of selling are also considerable.

Beyond the risk of falling prices or of a short mulberry crop there is in sericulture the risk of disease. One advantage of the system in which the eggs are laid in circles on the cards instead of all over them is that if any disease should be detected the affected areas can be easily cut out with a knife and destroyed. Disease is so serious a matter that silk-worm breeding, as contrasted with silk-worm raising, is restricted to those who have obtained licences. The silk-worm breeder is not only licensed. His silkworms, cocoons and mother moths are all in turn officially examined. Breeding "seeds" were laid one year by about 33,000,000 odd moths; common "seeds" by about 948,000,000.

Of recent years enormous progress has been made in combating disease. I have spoken of how a silk-worm district may be recognised by the structure of the farm Page 158 houses and the prosperity of the farmers, but another striking sign of sericulture is the trays and mats lying in the sun in front of farmers' dwellings or on the hot stones of the river banks in order to get thoroughly purified from germs. It is illustrative of the progress that has been made under scientific influence, that whereas twenty years ago a sericulturist would reckon on losing his silk-worm harvest completely once in five years, such a loss is now rare. Scientific instructors have their difficulties in Japan as in the rural districts of other countries, but the people respect authority, and they are accustomed to accept instruction given in the form of directions. Also the Japanese have an unending interest in the new thing. Further, there is a continual desire to excel for the national advantage and in emulation of the foreigner. The advance in scientific knowledge in the rural districts is remarkable, because it is in such contrast with the primitive lives of the country people. Picture the surprise of British or American farmers were they brought face to face with thermometers, electric light and a working knowledge of bacteriology in the houses of peasants in breech clouts.

It was while I was trying to learn something of the sericultural industry that I had the opportunity of visiting a noteworthy institution. It is noteworthy, among other reasons, because I seldom met a foreigner in Japan who knew of its existence. It is the great Ueda Sericultural College in the prefecture of Nagano. I was struck not only by its extent but by its systematised efficiency. On a level with the director's eyes was a motto in large lettering, "Be diligent. Develop your virtues."

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The Institute devotes itself to mulberries, silk-worms and silk manufacture. There are 200 students, as many as it will hold. The young men become teachers of sericulture, advisers in mills and experts of co-operative sericultural societies. The institution, in addition to the fees it receives and its earnings from its own products, some 33,000 yen in all, has an annual Government subsidy of about 114,000 yen. There are other sericultural colleges doing similar work in Tokyo and Kyoto, and there is also in the capital the Imperial Sericultural Experiment Station Page 159 (with a staff of 87), where I saw all sorts of research work in progress. This experiment station has half a dozen branches scattered up and down the silk districts.

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At Ueda I went through corridors and rooms, sterilised thrice a year, to visit professors engaged in a variety of enquiries. One professor had turned into a kind of beef tea the pupæ thrown away when the cocoons are unwound; another had made from the residual oil two or three kinds of soap. The usual thing at a silk factory is for the pupæ, which are exposed to view when the silk is unrolled from the scalded cocoons, to lie about in horrid heaps until they are sold as manure or carp food. The professor declared that his product was equal to a third of the total weight of the pupæ utilised, and was sure that it could be sold at a fifteenth of the price of Western beef essences. The Director of the College had tried the product with his breakfast for a fortnight and avowed that during the experiment he was never so perky.

It was a pleasure to look into the well-kept dormitories of the students, where there was evidence, in books, pictures and athletic material, of a strenuous life. The young men are made fit not only by judō, fencing, archery, tennis and general athletics, but by being sent up the mountains on Sundays. The men are kept so hard that at the open fencing contest twice a year the visitors are usually beaten. The director quoted to me Roosevelt's "Sweat and be saved."

From men we went to machines and mulberries. I inspected all sorts of hot chambers for killing cocoons. I saw, in rooms draped in black velvet like the pictured scenes at a beheading, silk testing for lustre and colour. I gazed with respect on many kinds of winding and weaving machinery. Then, going out into the experiment fields, I strode through more varieties of mulberry than I had imagined to exist. There are supposed to be 500 sorts in the country but many are no doubt duplicates. The varieties differ so much in shape and texture of leaf that the novice would not take some of them for mulberries.

It was held that it would not be difficult to increase the mulberry area in Japan by another quarter of a million Page 160 acres. The yield of leaves might be raised by 3,300 lbs. per acre if the right sort of bushes were always grown and the right sort of treatment were given to them and to the soil. As to the additional labour needed for an extended sericulture, the annual increase in the population of Japan would provide it. I was told that "the technics of sericulture are sure to improve." It would be easy to raise the yield 2 kwan per egg card for the whole country. Within a seven-year period the production of cocoons per egg card had become 20 per cent. better. The talk was of doubling the present yield of cocoons. The "proper encouragement" needed for doubling the production of cocoons was more technical instruction and more co-operative societies. There had been a continual rise in the world's demand for silk and there was no need to fear "artificial silk." "People who buy it often come to appreciate natural silk." And I read in an official publication that "the climate of Japan is suitable for the cultivation of mulberry trees from south-west Formosa to Hokkaido in the north."


[139] For statistics of sericulture, see Appendix XXXIX.

[140] She is examined microscopically in order to make sure that she was not affected by infectious disease.



Page 161




At your return show the truth.— Froissart

I visited factories in more than one prefecture. At the first factory—it employed about 1,000 girls and 200 men—work began at 4.30 a.m., breakfast was at 5 and the next meal at 10.30. The stoppages for eating were for a few minutes only. A cake was handed to each girl at her machine at 3. Suppertime came after work was finished at 7. [141] No money was paid the first year. The second year the wages might be 3 or 4 yen a month. The statement was made that at the end of her five years' term a girl might have 300 yen, but that this sum was not within the reach of all. [142] The girls were driven at top speed by a flag system in which one bay competed with another and was paid according to its earnings. Owing to the heat the flushed girls probably looked better in health than they really were. They were fat in the face, but this could not be regarded as an indication of their general well-being. It was admitted that some girls left through illness. Employees returned to their homes for January and February, when the factory was closed down; there was also three days' holiday in June. In the dormitory I noticed that Page 162 each girl had the space of one mat only (6 ft. by 3 ft.). Twenty-two girls slept in each dormitory. The men connected with this factory were low-looking and shifty-eyed.

An agricultural expert who was well acquainted with the conditions of silk manufacture and of the district and was in a disinterested position told me after my visit to this factory how the foremen scoured the country for girl labour during January and February. The success of the kemban or girl collector was due to the poverty of the people, who were glad "to be relieved of the cost of a daughter's food." Occasionally the kemban had sub-agents. The mill proprietors were in competition for skilled girls, and money was given by a kemban intent on stealing another factory's hand.

The novices had no contract. The contract of a skilled girl provided that she should serve at the factory for a specified period and that if she failed to do so, she should pay back twenty times the 5 yen or whatever sum had been advanced to her. Obviously 100 yen would be a prohibitive sum for a peasant's daughter to find. The amount of the workers' pay was not specified in the contract. The document was plainly one-sided and would be regarded in an English court as against public policy and unenforceable. Married women might take an infant with them to the factory. In more than one factory I saw several thin-faced babies.

The effect of factory life on girls, a man who knew the countryside well told me, was "not good." The girls had weakened constitutions as the result of their factory life and when they married had fewer than the normal number of children. The general result of factory life was degeneration. The girls "corrupted their villages."

The custom was, I understood, that the girls were kept on the factory premises except when they could allege urgent business in town. But they were allowed out on the three nights of the Bon festival. It was rare that priests visited the factories and there were no shrines there. The girls had sometimes "lessons" given them and occasionally story-tellers or gramophone owners amused them. The food supplied by some factories was not at all adequate Page 163 and the girls had to spend their money at the factory tuck-shops. "Most proprietors," I was told, "endeavour to make part of their staff permanent by acting as middlemen to arrange marriages between female and male workers." The infants of married workers were "looked after by the youngest apprentices."

In another place I saw over a factory which employed about 160 girls, who were worked from 5:30 a.m. to 6:40 p.m. with twenty minutes for each meal. If a girl "broke her contract" it was the custom to send her name to other factories so that she could not get work again. The foremen at this establishment seemed decent men.

One who had no financial interest in the silk industry but knew the district in which this second factory stood said that "many girls" came home in trouble. The peasants did not like "the spoiling of their daughters," but were "captured in their poverty by the idea of the money to be gained." Undoubtedly the factory life was pictured in glowing colours by the kemban.

In a third factory there were more than 200 girls and only 15 men. The proprietor and manager seemed good fellows. I was assured that it was forbidden for men workers to enter the women's quarters, but on entering the dormitory I came on a man and woman scuffling. The girls of this factory and in others had running below their feet an iron pipe which was filled with steam in cold weather. On some days in July, the month in which I visited this factory, I noticed from the temperature record sheet that the heat had reached 94 degrees in the steamy spinning bays, where, unless the weather be damp, it was impossible, because of spinning conditions, to admit fresh air. I saw a complaint box for the workers. As in other factories, there was a certain provision of boiled water and ample bathing accommodation. Hot baths were taken every night in summer and every other night in winter. Here, as elsewhere, though many of the girls were pale and anaemic, all were clean in their persons, which is more than can be said of all Western factory hands. Work began at 4 a.m. and went on until 7 p.m. From 10 to 15 minutes were allowed for meals. The winter hours were from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Page 164 In this factory, as in others, there was a system of tallies, showing to all the workers the ranking of the girls for payment. The standard wage seemed to be 20 sen a day, and the average to which it was brought by good work 30 sen. There were thirty or more girls who had deductions from their 20 sen. Apprentices were shown as working at a loss. Once or twice a month a story-teller came to entertain the girls and every fortnight a teacher gave them instruction. When I asked if a priest came I was told that "in this district the families are not so religious, so the girls are not so pious." Two doctors visited the factory, one of them daily. Counting all causes, 5 per cent. of the girls returned home. The owner of the factory, a man in good physical training and with an alert and kindly face, said the industry succeeded in his district because the employers "exerted themselves" and the girls "worked with the devotion of soldiers." I thought of a motto written by the Empress, which I had seen at Ueda, "It is my wish that the girls whose service it is to spin silk shall be always diligent." Behind the desk of this factory proprietor hung the motto, "Cultivate virtues and be righteous."

The fourth factory I saw seemed to be staffed entirely with apprentices who were turned over to other factories in their third year. The girls appeared to have to sleep three girls to two mats. In the event of fire the dormitory would be a death-trap. I was told that there was an entertainment or a "lecture on character" once a week. The motto on the walls of this factory was, "Learning right ways means loving mankind."

I went over the factory which belonged to the largest concern in Japan and had 10,000 hands. The girls were looked after in well-ventilated dormitories by ten old women who slept during the day and kept watch at night. There was a fire escape. All sorts of things were on sale at wholesale prices at the factory shop, but for any good reason an exit ticket was given to town. The dining-room was excellent. There was a hospital in this factory and the nurse in the dispensary summarised at my request the ailments of the 35 girls who were lying down comfortably: stomachic, 12; colds, 7; fingers hurt by the hot water of Page 165 the cocoon-soaking basins, 5; female affections, 4; nervous, 2; eyes, rheumatism, nose, lungs and kidneys, 1 each. The average wages in this factory worked out at 60 yen for 9 months. The hour of beginning work was 4:30 at the earliest. The factory stopped at sunset, the latest hour being 6:30. I was assured that of the girls who did not get married 70 per cent. renewed their contracts. A large enclosed open space was available in which the girls might stroll before going to bed. The motto of the establishment was, "I hear the voice of spring under the shadow of the trees." In reference to the new factory legislation the manager said that the hours of labour were so long that it would be some time before 10 hours a day would be initiated. [143] This factory and its branches were started thirty years ago by a man who was originally a factory worker. Although now very rich he had "always refused to be photographed and had not availed himself of an opportunity of entering the House of Peers."

I visited several factories the girls working at which did not live in dormitories but outside. At a winding and hanking factory which was airy and well lighted the hours were from 6 to 6. At a factory where the hours were from 4:30 to 7 some reelers had been fined. Japanese Christian pastors sometimes came to see the girls, and on the wall of the recreation room there were paper gohei hung up by a Shinto priest.

I got the impression that the girls in the factories at Kōfu in Yamanashi prefecture were not driven so hard as those at the factories in the Suwas in Nagano. Someone said: "However the Suwa people may exploit their girls, we are able, working shorter hours and giving more entertainments, to produce better silk, for the simple reason that the girls are in better condition. We can get from 5 to 10 per cent. more for our silk." A factory manager said that it would be better if the girls had a regular holiday once a week, but one firm could not act alone. (The factories are Page 166 working seven days a week, except for festival days and public holidays.)

With regard to the kemban, I was told in Yamanashi that many girls went to the factories "unwillingly by the instructions of their parents." It was also stated that the money paid to girls or their parents on their engagement was not properly a gratuity but an advance. I heard that the police keep a special watch on kemban. They would not do this without good reason.


[141] The times stated are those given to me in the factories. The question of overtime is referred to later in the Chapter.

[142] Again the reader must be reminded of the rise in wages and prices (estimated on p. xxv). During the recent period of inflation, silk rose to 3,000 yen per picul and fell to 1,300 or 1,400 yen. There have been great fluctuations in the wages of factory girls. At the most flourishing period as much as 25 yen per head was paid to recruiters of girls. In this Chapter, however, it is best to record exactly what I saw and heard.

[143] On the day on which I re-read this for the printers, I notice in an American paper that one of the largest employers of labour in the United States has just stated that he did not see his way to abolish the twelve-hours' day.



Page 167



The psychology of behaviour teaches us that [a country's] failures and semi-failures are likely to continue until there is a far more widespread appreciation of the importance of studying the forces which govern behaviour.—Saxby


I do not think that some of the factory proprietors are conscious that they are taking undue advantage of their employees. These men are just average persons at the ante-Shaftesbury stage of responsibility towards labour. [144] Their case is that the girls are pitifully poor and that the factories supply work at the ruling market rates for the work of the pitifully poor. Said one factory owner to me genially: "Peasant families are accustomed to work from daylight to dark. In the silk-worm feeding season they have almost no time for sleep. Peasant people are trained to long hours. Lazy people might suffer from the long hours of the factory, but the factory girls are not lazy."

It hardly needs to be pointed out that there is all the difference between a long day at the varied work of a farm, even in the trying silk-worm season, and a long day, for nine or ten months on end, sitting still, with the briefest Page 168 intervals for food, in the din and heat of a factory. Such a life must be debilitating. When it is added that in most factories, in the short period between supper and sleep, and again during the night, the girls are closely crowded, no further explanation is wanted of the origin of the tuberculosis which is so prevalent in the villages which supply factory labour. [145] There is no question that in the scanty moments the girls do have for an airing most of them are immured within the compounds of their factories. A large proportion of the many thousands of factory girls [146] who are to be mothers of a new generation in the villages are passing years of their lives in conditions which are bad for them physically and morally. It must not be forgotten that very many of the girls go to the factories before they are fully grown. On the question of morality, evidence from disinterested quarters left no doubt on my mind that the morale of the girls was lowered by factory life. The Lancashire factory girl goes home every evening and she has her Saturday afternoon and her Sunday, her church or chapel, her societies and clubs, her amusements and her sweetheart. Her Japanese sister has none of this natural life and she has infinitely worse conditions of labour.

It is only fair to remember, however, that the Japanese factory girl comes from a distance. She has no relatives or friends in the town in which she is working. But the plea that she would get into trouble if she were allowed her liberty without control of any sort does not excuse her present treatment. If the factories offered decent conditions of life not a few of the companies would get at their doors most of the labour they need and many of the girls would live at home. If the factories insist on having cheap rural labour then they should do their duty by it. The girls should have reasonable working hours, proper sleeping accommodation and proper opportunities inside and outside the factories for recreation and moral and mental improvement. It is idle to suggest that fair treatment of this sort is impossible. It is perfectly possible.

Page 169 The factory proprietors are no worse than many other people intent on money making. But the silk industry, as I saw it, was exploiting, consciously or unconsciously, not only the poverty of its girl employees but their strength, morality, deftness [147] and remarkable school training in earnestness and obedience. Several times I heard the unenlightened argument that, if there were a certain sacrifice of health and well-being, a rapidly increasing population made the sacrifice possible; that, as silk was the most valuable product in Japan, and it was imperative for the development and security of the Empire that its economic position should be strengthened, the sacrifice must be made. Nothing need be said of such a hopelessly out-of-date and nationally indefensible attitude except this: that it is doubtful whether any considerable proportion of the people connected with the silk industry have felt themselves specially charged with a mission to strengthen the economic condition of their country. They have simply availed themselves of a favourable opportunity to make money. That opportunity was presented by the cheap labour available in farmers' daughters unprotected by effective trade unions, by properly administered factory laws or by public opinion.


The enterprise, the efficiency and the profits shown by the sericultural industry have been remarkable, and not a few of the capitalists connected with it are personally public-spirited. But many well-wishers of Japan, native-born and foreign, cannot help wondering what is the real as compared with the seeming return of the industry to a nation the strength of which is in its reservoir of rustic health and willingness. It is significant of the extent to which the factories are working with cheap labour that, in a country in which there are more men than women, [149] there was in about 20,000 factories 58 per cent. of female labour. If I stress the fact of female employment it is Page 170 because in Japan nearly every woman eventually marries. Enfeebled women must therefore hand on enfeeblement to the next generation.[150]

The Japanese, in their present factory system, as in other developments, insist on making for themselves all the mistakes that we have made and are now ashamed of. In judging the Japanese let us remember that all our industrial exploitation of women [151] was not, as we like to believe, an affair as far off as the opening nineteenth century. I do not forget as a young man filling a newspaper poster with the title of an article which recounted from my own observation the woes of women chain makers who, with bared breasts and their infants sprawling in the small coals, slaved in domestic smithies for a pittance. And as I write it is announced that the head of the United States Steel Corporation says that "there is no necessity for trade unions," which are, in his opinion, "inimical to the best interests of the employers and the public." That is precisely the view of most Japanese factory proprietaries.

The trade union is not illegal in Japan, but its teeth have been drawn (1) by the enactment that "those who, with the object of causing a strike, seduce or incite others" shall be sentenced to imprisonment from one to six months with a fine of from 3 to 30 yen; (2) by the power given to the police (a) to detain suspected persons for a succession of twenty-four hour periods, and (b) summarily to close public meetings, and (3) by the franchise being so narrow that few trade unionists have votes. During the six years of the War there were as many as 141,000 strikers, but a not uncommon method of these workers was merely to absent Page 171 themselves from work, to refrain from working while in the factory, or to "ca' canny." Nevertheless 633 of them were arrested. When I attended in Tokyo a gathering of members of the leading labour organisation in Japan it was discreetly named Yu-ai-kai (Friend-Love-Society, i.e. Friendly Society). Now it is boldly called the Confederation of Japanese Labour. A Socialist League[152] and several labour publications exist. Workers assemble to see moving pictures of labour demonstrations, and a labour meeting has defied the police in attendance by singing the whole of the "Song of Revolution." But crippled as the unions are under the law against strikes and by the poverty of the workers, they find it difficult to attain the financial strength necessary for effective action. Many workers are trade unionists when they are striking but their trade unionism lapses when the strike is over, for then the unions seem to have small reason for existing. The head of the Federation of Labour lately announced that the number of trade unionists was only 100,000, or half what it was during the recent big strikes and it is doubtful whether, even including the 7,000 members of the Seamen's Union, there are in Japan more than 50,000 contributing members of the different unions. But this 50,000 may be regarded as staunch.

The poverty-stricken unions certainly afford no real protection to the girl workers, who form indeed a very small proportion of their members. And the Factory Law does little for them. A Japanese friend who knows the labour situation well writes to me:

"According to the Factory Law, which came into force in the autumn of 1916, 'factory employers are not allowed to let women work more than twelve hours in a day.' (Article III, section 1.) But if necessary, 'the competent Minister is entitled to extend this limitation to fourteen hours.' (Section 2.) As to night work the law says that 'factory employers are not allowed to let women work from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m.' (Article IV.) If, however, there are necessary reasons, 'the employers can be exempted from the obligation of the Article IV.' (Article V.) Page 172 Article IX says that 'the employers are forbidden to let women engage in dangerous work.' But whether work is dangerous or not is determined by 'the competent Minister' (Article XI), who may or may not be well informed. There is also Article XII, 'The competent Minister can limit or prohibit the work of women about to have children' and within three weeks after confinement. But anyone who enters factories may see women with pale faces because they work too soon after their confinement.

"I cannot tell you how far these provisions are enforced. I can only say that I have not yet heard of employers being punished for violating the Factory Law. Can it be supposed that employers are so honest as never to violate the Factory Law? As to working hours, in some factories they may work less than fourteen hours as the law indicates. In others they may work more, because "there are necessary reasons." This is especially true of the factories in the country parts. As 200 inspectors have been appointed, the authorities must by now know the actual situation pretty well."

Dr. Kuwata, a former member of the Upper House, with whom I frequently discussed the labour situation, declares the Factory Law to be "palpably imperfect and primitive." At the end of 1917 there were, according to official figures, 99,000 female factory operatives under fifteen years of age and 2,400 under twelve. Some 20,000 of these children were employed in silk factories. What protection have they? Before passing this page for the press I have shown it to a well-informed Japanese friend and he says that he has never seen any newspaper report of a prosecution under the Factory Law. Obviously a Factory Law under which no one is ever prosecuted is not operative.[153]

It is excellent that Japan has sent a large permanent delegation to Switzerland to establish a system of liaison with the International Labour Office of the League of Nations. This company of young men will keep the Japanese Government well informed. There is undoubtedly in Japan, under Western influence, a steady development of sensitiveness to working-class conditions and a Page 173 rapid growth of modern social ideas. But the Government and the Diet will not step out far in advance of general opinion, the most will naturally be made by the authorities and trade interests of bad factory conditions on the Continent of Europe and in some industries in the United States, and the majority of a public which has been carefully nurtured in the belief that a profitable industrialism is the great desideratum for Japan will not be restive. Real factory reform is not to be expected until an enlightened view is taken by Japanese in general of the exploitation of girls for any purpose. It is not in commercial human nature, Eastern or Western, that factory directors and shareholders should forgo without a struggle the advantage of possessing cheaper and more subjected labour than their foreign rivals. Some influence may be exerted in the right direction by the fact that those who are profiting by cheap and docile labour may themselves be undersold before long by cheaper and still more docile labour in China. [154] And in 1922 Japan is under an obligation, accepted at the Washington Labour Conference, to stop women working more than eleven hours a day and to abolish night work. Meantime the labour movement makes progress. It is significant that many of its leaders are under the influence of "direct action" ideas. They hope little from a Diet elected on a narrow franchise and supported by a strong Government machine backed by the Conservative farmer vote. Although, however, there does not seem to be as yet a junction between the labour movement and the unions of the tenant farmers, who have their own interests alone in view, the future may present unexpected developments. As I write, the labour movement is conducting a trial of strength with the great Mitsubishi and Kawasaki enterprises and is presenting a stronger front than it has yet done.

This Chapter would give an unfair impression of the relations of capital and labour in Japan if it included no reference to the well-intentioned efforts made by several large employers to improve the conditions of working-class life and labour. Sometimes they have followed the example Page 174 of philanthropic firms in Great Britain and America. As often as not they have been inspired by old Japanese ideas of a master's responsibilities. Many leading industrials have believed and still believe that by the conservation and development of old ideas of paternalism and loyalty the trade-union stage of industrial development may be avoided. This conviction was expressed to me by, among others, Mr. Matsukata, of the famous Kawasaki concern, who has made generous contributions to "welfare" work. My own brief experience as an employer in Japan made me acquainted with some canons in the relationship of employer and employed which have lost their authority in the West. Given wisdom on the part of masters, the prolonged bitterness which has marked the industrial development of the West need not be repeated in Japan, but whether that wisdom will be displayed in time is doubtful. The Japanese commercial world has been commendably quick to learn in many directions in the West. It will be a serious reflection on the intelligence of the country if the lessons of the industrial acerbities of Europe and the United States should not be grasped. Meantime it is a duty which the foreign observer owes to Japan to speak quite plainly of attempts as silly as they are useless[155] to obscure the lamentable condition of a large proportion of Japanese workers, to hide the immense profits which have been made by their employers and to pretend that factory laws have only to be placed on the statute book in order to be enforced. But if he be honest he must also recognise the handicap of specially costly equipment [156] and of unskilled labour and inexperience under which the Japanese business world is competing for the place in foreign trade to which it has a just claim. Such conditions do not in the least excuse inhumanity, but they help to explain it.


[144] It is a chastening exercise to read before proceeding with this Chapter an extract from Spencer Walpole's History of England, vol. iii, p. 317, under the year 1832: "The manufacturing industries of the country were collected into a few centres. In one sense the persons employed had their reward: the manufacturers gave them wages. In another sense their change of occupation brought them nothing but evil. Forced to dwell in a crowded alley, occupying at night a house constructed in neglect of every known sanitary law, employed in the daytime in an unhealthy atmosphere and frequently on a dangerous occupation, with no education available for his children, with no reasonable recreation, with the sky shrouded by the smoke of an adjoining capital, with the face of nature hidden by a brick wall, neglected by an overworked clergyman, regarded as a mere machine by an avaricious employer, the factory operative turned to the public house, the prize ring or the cockpit."

[145] See Appendix XL.

[146] Number of factory workers, a million and a half, of whom 800,000 are females. For statistics of women workers, see Appendix XLI.

[147] The Minister of Commerce has himself stated that the sericultural industry is rooted in the dexterity of the Japanese countrywoman.

[148] This section of the Chapter was written in 1921.

[149] In Japan in 1918 there were, per 1,000, 505.2 men to 494.8 women.

[150] Of the workers under the age of fifteen in the 20,000 factories, 82 per cent. were girls. The statistics in this paragraph were issued by the Ministry of Commerce in 1917.

[151] For sketches of women and children (with a chain between their legs) harnessed to coal wagons in the pits, see Parliamentary Papers, vol. xv, 1842. "There is a factory system grown up in England the most horrible that imagination can conceive," wrote Sir William Napier to Lady Hester Stanhope two years after Queen Victoria's accession. "They are hells where hundreds of children are killed yearly in protracted torture." In Torrens's Memoirs of the Queen's First Prime Minister, one reads: "Melbourne had a Bill drawn which with some difficulty he persuaded the Cabinet to sanction, prohibiting the employment of children under 9 in any except silk mills."

[152] More than 200 books on Socialism were published in 1920.

[153] For a declaration by Dr. Kuwata concerning bad food and "defiance of hygienic rules," see Appendix XLII.

[154] See Appendix XLIII.

[155] See Appendix XLII.

[156] In a pre-War publication of the United States Department of Commerce it was stated that the cost of cotton mills per spindle is in England 32s., in the United States 44s., in Germany 52s., and in Japan 100s.

[Illustration: ]


[Illustration: ]


[Illustration: ]

The bento box provides rice, meat, fish, omelette and assorted pickles; also paper napkin and hashi (chop-sticks) and (between them) a toothpick.

Page 175





Boswell: If you should advise me to go to Japan I believe I should.
Johnson: Why yes, Sir, I am serious.

In one of my journeys I went from Tokyo to the extreme north of Japan, travelling up the west coast and down the east. Fukushima prefecture—in which is Shirakawa, famous for a horse fair which lasts a week—encourages the eating of barley, for on the northern half of the east coast of Japan there is no warm current and the rice crop may be lost in a cold season. "Officials of the prefecture and county," someone said to me, "take barley themselves; enthusiastic gunchō take it gladly."

The prefectural station, by selecting the best varieties of rice for sowing, had effected a 10 per cent. improvement in yield. In each county an official "agricultural encourager" had been appointed. The lectures given at the experiment station were attended by 18,000 persons. The studious who listen to the lectures had formed an association that provided at the station a fine building where supper, bed, breakfast and lunch cost 30 sen. It contained a model of the Ise shrine with a motto in the handwriting of a well-known Tokyo agricultural professor, "Difficulties Polish You."

"Some villagers," said a local authority, "want to make the Buddhist temple the centre of the development of village life. In several places agricultural products are exhibited at Shinto shrines. Farmers offer them out of Page 176 a kind of piety, but the products are afterwards criticised from a technical point of view. This is done on the initiative of the villagers encouraged by the prefecture."

Hereabouts the winter work of the people, in addition to basket, rope and mat making, was paper making and smoothing out the wrinkles of tobacco.[157] A considerable number of people had emigrated to South America. The principal need of the villages, it was stated, was money at less than the current rate of 20 per cent. In one place I found a factory built on the side of a daimyo's castle.

I was told of crops of konnyaku which had made one man the second richest person in the prefecture and had therefore qualified him for membership in the House of Peers. (The House includes one member from each prefecture as the representative of the highest taxpayers of that prefecture.)

During my journeys I picked up many odds and ends of information by walking through the trains and having chats with country people. I was also helped by county and prefectural agricultural officials who, having learnt of my movements, were kind enough to join me in the train for an hour or so. One head of an agricultural school which was full up with students told me that there were already in Fukushima two prefectural and five county agricultural schools.

Our train, half freight with a locomotive at each end, went over the backbone of Japan through the usual series of snow shelters and tunnels. Having surmounted the heights we slid down into Yamagata. I should properly write Yamagataken, which we cannot translate Yamagatashire, for a ken (prefecture) is made up of counties. There are eleven counties in Yamagataken.

Almost any sort of dwelling looks tolerable in August, but many of the houses that first caught our attention must be lamentable shelters in winter. Some farmers, I learnt, were "in a very bad condition." We dropped from a silk and rice plateau and then to a region where the main crop was rice. The bare hills to be seen in our descent were an appalling spectacle when it was realised how close was their Page 177 relation to the disastrous floods of the prefecture. A man in the train had lost 10,000 yen by floods, a large sum in rural Japan. In two years the prefecture had spent in river-bank repairs nearly a million yen. A flood some years ago did damage to the amount of 20 million yen. The prefecture had a debt of 60 million yen, chiefly due to havoc wrought by its big river. A yearly sum was spent on afforestation in addition to what was laid out by the State and by private individuals. A forestry association was trying to raise half a million yen for tree planting. But the flooding of the plains was not the only water trouble of the Yamagatans. In one district they had a stream which contained solutions of compounds of sulphuric acid so strong that crops fail for three years on ground watered from it. In other parts of the prefecture, however, farmers had the advantage, enjoyed in many parts of Japan, of being able to water from ammonia water springs.

Hereabouts I first noticed the device common to many districts of having on the roof of a cottage a water barrel, tub or cistern, ready to be emptied on the shingle roof when sparks fly from a burning dwelling. Sometimes the wooden water receptacles are wrapped round with straw.

In the prefectural city of Yamagata I heard of a primary school which had a farm and made a profit, also of four landowners who had engaged an agricultural expert for the instruction of their tenants. "A very certain crop" round about the city was grapes. Some 25,000 persons yearly visited the prefectural 12-chō experiment station, which within a year had distributed to farmers 7,600 cyanided fruit trees and 80 bushels of special seed rice.

Near the experiment station was a crematorium of ugly brick and galvanised iron belonging to the city of Yamagata at which 1,000 bodies were burnt in a year in furnaces heated with pine blocks. A selection might be made from four rates ranging from 35 sen to 5 yen. The most expensive rate was for folk who arrived in Western-style coffins.

The experiment station had another institution at its doors. This had to do not with the dead but with the living. Its name was "The Garden where Virtues are Page 178 Cultivated." The director of it was the father of the agricultural expert of the prefecture. The garden, which was not a garden, was a home for bad boys, or rather for thirty bad boys and one bad girl. The bad girl—the director, being a man of humanity, common sense and courage, thought it most necessary that there should be at least one bad girl—acted as maidservant to the director. The bad boys "maided" themselves and the school. The lads were such as had fallen into the hands of the police. They were being reformed in a somewhat original way by a somewhat original director.

Early in the day they had their cold bath, which was itself a break with Japanese custom, for, though most Japanese have a nightly hot bath, they are content with a basin wash in the morning. Then the boys "cleaned school." Next they were marched up one by one to a mirror and required to take a good look at themselves, in order, no doubt, to see just how bad they were. After this they were called on to "give thanks to the Emperor and their ancestors." Finally came a half-hour lecture on "morality." It was considered that by this time the boys were entitled to their breakfast. For open-air labour they were sent to the experiment station, but they had manual work also in their own school, where, among other things, they "made useful things out of waste," the income from which went to their families. On Sundays the master, though he must be nearer sixty than fifty, fenced with every one of the thirty boys in turn—no ordinary task, for Japanese fencing calls not only for an eye and a hand, but for a muscular back. Some wholesome-looking young fellows, members of a young men's association, served as volunteer masters and lived in the bare fashion that was so good for the boys.

The director did not believe that bad boys were hopeless. He said that not only the boys but their parents were better for the work done in "The Garden where Virtues are Cultivated." He seemed to have become a sort of consulting expert to primary school-masters who were at a loss to know how to manage bad boys. Chastisement, as is well known, is unusual in Japanese schools. The director of the Page 179 human hortus inclusus confessed to me that though two of his boys whom he had caught fighting might not have been separated without, in the Western phrase, "feeling the weight of his hand," his heaviest punishment on other difficult occasions was the moxa.

The moxa brings us back to real horticulture. Moxa is mogusa or mugwort. Mogusa means "burning herb." The moxa is a great therapeutic agent in the Far East. A bit of the dried herb is laid on the skin and set fire to as a sort of blister. From the application of the moxa as a cure for physical ills to its application for the cure of bad boys is a natural step. One sees by the scars on the backs of not a few Japanese that in their youth either their health or their characters left something to be desired. The moxa, then, is the rod in pickle in "The Garden where Virtues are Cultivated." But I think it is not brought out often. A wrestling ring in a mass of sand thrown down in a yard, a harmonium, a blackboard for the boys to work their will on, doors labelled "The Room of Patience," "The Room of Honesty," "The Room of Cleanliness" and "The Room of Good Arrangement," not to speak of a rabbit loping about the school premises—these and some other touches in the management of the school spoke of an even stronger influence toward well-doing than the moxa. But even if the moxa should fail, the attention of the boys could always be drawn to the crematorium.

One who knew the rural districts discoursed to me in this wise: "The best men are not numerous, but neither are the worst. I doubt whether the desire to enjoy life is as strong in the Japanese as in the people of the West. Most farmers would no doubt be happy with material comfort. Pressed as they have been by material needs, they have no time to think. When they are easier, they may get something beyond the physical. At present we must regard their material welfare as the most urgent thing." But a man standing by, who was also a countryman, strongly dissented. "Religion," he said, "is not only important but fundamental."

I have been received by more than one prefectural governor at eight in the morning. His Excellency of Page 180 Yamagata sets a good example by rising at five and by going to bed at nine. He told me that he thought the farmer's chief lack was cheap money. Low interest and a long term might convert into arable 25,000 acres of barren land in his prefecture. In the old days, as I knew, the farmers drove tunnels considerable distances for irrigation, but with modern engineering better results would be possible if money were available. As to the misdeeds of the rivers, it might almost be said that every village was feeling the need of embanking and of going to the source of loss by planting trees in the hills. Beautiful forests of feudal period had been wasted in the early days of Meiji and the result was now plain.

But attention had to be given to the minds as well as the pockets of the villagers. Families that were once reasonably content were now discontented. A livelihood was harder to get, taxation was heavier and there was an increase in needs. Country people imagined townspeople to be comfortably off, "not realising how they were tormented." Villagers envied townsmen their amusements. Some prefectures had forbidden the Bon dance and had supplied nothing in its place. It was easy to see why farmers no longer applied themselves so closely to their calling and were wavering in their allegiance to country life. Healthful amusements were necessary for those whose minds were not much developed. Also, country people should be taught the true character of town life, and that agriculture, though it might not yield the profit of commerce and industry, ensured a reasonably happy life in healthful places where physical strength could be enjoyed. The right kind of village libraries should be encouraged. Music might perhaps be forced into competition with saké.

A mental awakening by education was the final solution of the rural problem, the Governor thought. Religion was also important for the development of the village. Believers not under the eyes of others would avoid wrong-doing because watched by heaven. Lectures on agriculture and sanitation had a good influence when delivered by priests. Temples were often schools before the era of Page 181 Meiji and so priests were socially active. Under the new dispensation the work was taken out of their hands. So they had come to care little for the affairs of the world. But they were influential and the prefecture had asked for their help. The merits of many priests might not be conspicuous, but the number of them who were active was increasing and the villagers deferred to them if they took any step.

The most hopeful thing in the villages was the awakening of the young men: they were becoming "sincere," a favourite Japanese word. For the most part the credit societies were not efficient, but in one county credit societies had lessened the business of the banks. The best way to furnish capital to farmers was out of the capital of their fellow farmers.

Possibly the girls of the villages were not making the same advance as the boys. They did not go to their field labour willingly. Sometimes when a woman was asked by a neighbour on the road, "Have you been working on the farm?" she would answer, "No, I have been to the temple." The host of women's papers had a bad effect. With regard to the habutae (silk goods) factories, there was a bright side, for they gave work to the girls in winter, when they were idle "and therefore poor and sometimes immoral." On the other hand, factory girls tended to become vain and thriftless and the stay-at-home girls were inclined to imitate them.


[157] See Appendix XLV.



Page 182




Society is kept in animation by the customary and by sentiment.—Meredith

Six feet of snow is common on the line on which we travelled in Yamagata prefecture, and washouts are not infrequent. A train has been stopped for a week by snow. It was difficult to think of snow when one saw groups of pilgrims with their flopping sun-mats on their backs. The shrines on three local mountain tops are visited by 20,000 people yearly.

We bought at railway stations different sorts of gelatinous fruit preparations. Most places in Japan have a speciality in the form of a food or a curiosity that can be bought by travellers.

In the great Shonai plain, which extends through three counties, there are no fewer than 82,500 acres of rice and the unending crops were a sight to see. A great deal of the paddy land has been adjusted. In one county there is the largest adjusted area in Japan, 20,000 acres. When one raises one's eyes from the waving fields of illimitable rice, the dominating feature of the landscape is Mount Chokai with his August snow cap.

The three-storey hotel at which we stayed had been taken to pieces and transported twenty miles. Such removal of houses to a more convenient or, in the case of an hotel, a more profitable site, is not uncommon. I sometimes patronised at Omori a large hotel on a little hill halfway between Yokohama and Tokyo, which had formerly been the prefectural building at Kanagawa. In the hotel in Page 183 which I was now staying I was interested in the "Notice" in my room:

1. A spitting-pot is provided. [Usually of bamboo or porcelain.]

2. No towels are lent for fear of trachoma. [158] [The traveller in Japan carries his own towels, but a towel is a common gift on a guest's departure in acknowledgment of his tea money.]

3. There is a table of rates. Guests are requested to say in which they desire to be reckoned. [To the hotel proprietor, landlord or manager when the visit of courtesy is paid on the guest's arrival. Otherwise a judgment is formed from the guest's clothes, demeanour and baggage.]

4. Please lock up your valuables or let us keep them. [There are no locks on Japanese doors.]

5. Railroad, kuruma, box-sledge or automobile charges on application. [The box-sledge shows what the country is like in winter.]

In conversations about local conditions I was told that "landowners of the middle grade" were suffering from "trying to keep up their position." I remembered the song which may be rendered:

Would that my daughter
Were married to a middle farmer.
With two chō of farm
And a tan in the wood.
No borrowing; no lending;
Both ends meeting.
Visiting the temple by turns—
Someone must stay at home.
Going to Heaven sooner or later.
What a happy life!
What a happy life!

Tenants were rather well off because their standard of living was lower than that of owners. Economic conditions were improving in Yamagata, but in the adjoining prefecture of Miyagi on the eastern coast of Japan "whole villages" Page 184 had gone to Hokkaido. Some poor farmers were spending only 5 sen a day on food, the rest of what they ate coming entirely from their own holdings. Some farmers said, "If you calculate our income, we are certainly unable to make a living, but in some way or other we are able," which is what some small holders in many countries would say.

I was told that a labourer's 5 tan could be cultivated by working half days. Generally more was earned by labouring than could be gained from a small patch of land. But for half the year labourer's work was not obtainable. My informant found small tenant labourers "well off" if both husband and wife had wages: "they are able to buy a bottle of saké in the evening." Their position was better than that of a small peasant proprietor.

One in a thousand of the families in a specified county slept in straw. I heard of the payment of 20 to 25 per cent. to pawnbroker lenders.

But there is another way of borrowing. The plan of the may be adopted. A —it is odd that it should so closely resemble our abbreviation "Co."—is simple and effective. If a man is badly off or wants to undertake something beyond his financial resources, and his friends decide to help him, they may proceed by forming a . A is composed of a number of people who agree to subscribe a certain sum monthly and to divide the proceeds monthly by ballot, beginning by giving the first month's receipts to the person to succour whom the was formed. Suppose that the subscription be fixed at a yen a month and that there are fifty subscribers. Then the beneficiary—who pays in his yen with the rest—gets 50 yen on the occasion of the first ingathering. Every month afterwards a member who is lucky in the ballot gets 50 yen. The monthly paying in and paying out continue for fifty months and all the subscribers duly get their money back, with the advantage of having had a little excitement and having done a neighbourly action.

But the , or tanomoshi, as I ought to call it, is not always the innocent organisation I have described. There is a tanomoshi system under which, after member A, the Page 185 beneficiary, has received the first month's subscriptions, the other members are open to receive bids for their shares. That is to say that, when the time comes round for the second paying out of 50 yen, member F, who happens to have become as much in need of ready money as A was, offers, if the month's moneys be handed over to him, to distribute among the members sums up to 20 yen. July and December, when most people need ready money, are months in which a hard-up member of a tanomoshi may sometimes offer to distribute as much as 50 per cent. of what he receives. The result of such bidding for shares is that well-to-do members of a tanomoshi, who are the last to draw their 50 yen, receive in addition to it all the extra payments made by impoverished members who took their shares earlier. Benevolence in a tanomoshi is not seldom a mask for avarice that the law against usury cannot touch. In truth, the only virtuous part of a tanomoshi may be the first sharing out to the person in whose interest it was supposed to be started. It should be added, however, that there is a sort of tanomoshi which has no particular beneficiary and is merely a kind of co-operative credit society. In one place I heard of a tanomoshi that maintained a large fund for the relief of orphans and the sick.

In many villages there were private or co-operative godowns for the storage of rice against fire, rats and damp. Though the farmer who sends rice to such a store receives a receipt, it is not legally a marketable document. Hence an improvement on this simple storage plan. I visited the premises of a company that could store more than 500,000 bushels of rice, and I found purification by carbon bisulphide going on. The receipts given by this company—"certificated" for large quantities and "tickets" for small—certify not only the quantity but the quality of the rice, and are readily cashed. The storehouse owners work under a licence, and they have the advantage that the buyer of the receipts of non-licensed stores is not protected by the courts.

In the office of the company were samples of eleven market qualities of rice, and before them, by way of showing respect to the great food staple, was set the gohei of cut Page 186 white paper seen in Shinto shrines. Outside the office, girl porters carried the bales of rice to and fro. Close to the store was a river in which some of the dusty, perspiring porters were washing and cooling themselves with a simplicity to which Western civilisation is not yet equal. Opposite them men were fishing by casting in draw nets from the shore just as in biblical pictures the apostles are represented as doing.

The company has a rice market where farmers were putting their business in the dealers' hands. Each dealer has to deposit 5,000 yen with the State. The dealer who buys rice from a farmer has better polishing machinery than the farmer possesses. Therefore he can give the rice a more uniform appearance. By decreasing the weight of the rice during the polishing he gives it he is also able to lessen the sum payable for carriage and he has the value of the offal.

In order to visit farmers I rode some distance into the country. [159] The village, which was of the Zen sect, was at work cleaning out and straightening the stream which, as is usual in many villages, ran through the middle of it. I was impressed during my visit not only by the readiness and intelligence with which my questions were answered but by the good humour with which a stranger's inquiries concerning personal matters was received. I had another thought, that I might not have found a group of Western farmers so well informed about their financial position as these simple, primitively clad men.

Our kuruma route to and from the village had been through one great tract of well-adjusted rice fields. Adjustment was not difficult in this region because half the land belongs to the Homma family, which has given much study to the art of land-holding. For two centuries the clan by charging moderate rents and studying the interests of its tenants has maintained happy relations with them.

For many years a plan has been in operation by which 200 one-tan paddy-fields are cultivated by the agents or managers of the estate, by tenants selected by their fellow tenants for merit, by tenants chosen by the landlord for Page 187 diligence and by others picked out because of their interest in agriculture. In order to increase the zest of competition the cultivators are divided into a black and a white company. The names of those who raise the most and best rice are published in the order of their success, farm implements are distributed as prizes, the clever cultivators are invited to the landlord's New Year entertainment to the agents and managers, and at that feast "places of distinction are given."

There is also a system of rewarding the best five-years averages. A competition takes place between what are called "dress fields" because those who get the best results from them receive a ceremonial dress bearing the inscription, "Prosperity and Welfare." The honour of wearing these robes in the presence of their landlord at his annual feast is valued by these simple countrymen.

Through the introduction by the landlord of horse labour and ploughs—implements with which the farmers were formerly unacquainted—second cropping of part of the paddies has become possible. There is an elaborate system of "progressive reduction" and "average reduction" of rents in a bad season, by which, it was explained, "the industrious tenant enjoys a larger reduction than an idle one." "Tenants are grouped in fives, which help one another in their work and in cases of misfortune." In their agreement with their landlord, tenants promise that "wrong-doing shall be mutually reprimanded and counsel shall be given one to another." "Again, if a tenant falls ill, has his house burnt or meets with misfortune, assistance shall be given by his fellows." During the war with Russia the following instructions were issued:

Those enlisted in the army shall render their service at the cost of their lives.
Those who stay at home shall do their best, complying with the principles laid down by the Minister of Agriculture.
Relatives of soldiers at the front shall be helped and sympathised with.
All shall subscribe to war bonds as much as possible.
All shall practise thrift and economy in accordance with their social standing.
Musical entertainments shall be given up for two years.
Page 188 Methods proved to be effective in cultivation shall be reported.
In the warm, cloudy days insects multiply rapidly.
Think of your brothers at the front, struggling against one of the mighty military powers of the world, and be ashamed to be vanquished by hordes of insects or masses of vegetable growth in your fields. For the purpose of destroying insects an ample supply of oil is to be had at the experimental farm, as during last year; and payment therefor may be deferred until after harvest.

A communication to agents and managers says: "Comport yourselves in a way suitable to the dignity of an agent of the clan. Bear in mind the privileges and favours you enjoy, and exert yourselves to requite these favours. Respect the name and the coat-of-arms of the clan." In the neighbourhood there are about a hundred families bearing the name of Homma.


[158] In the three years 1916-18 the percentage of conscripts suffering from trachoma was 15.8.

[159] For farmers' budgets, see Appendix XIII (end).



Page 189





The worst of our education is that it looks askance, looks over its shoulder at sex.—R.L.S.

A village headman, encountered in the train just as we were leaving Yamagata prefecture, gave me some insight into the life of his little community. The fathers of two-score families were shopkeepers and tradesmen—- that is, tradesmen in the old meaning of the word. There were also a few labourers. About two hundred and fifty families owned land and some of them rented additional tracts. Another sixty were simply tenants. The poorer farmers were also labourers or artisans. Most of them were "comfortable enough." There were, however, half a dozen people in the village who were helped from village funds. Of the middle-grade farmers "it might be said that they do not become richer or poorer."

The headman had formed a society which sent its members to visit prefectures more developed agriculturally. This society had engaged an instructor from without the prefecture and he had taught horse tillage and the management of upland fields and had made model paddies. Five stallions had been obtained and a simple adjustment of paddy-land had been brought about. As a result the rice yield had risen.

This headman had also had addresses delivered in the village for the first time. Further, after buying a number Page 190 of books, he had visited all the villagers in turn and shown them the books and had said to each of them, "I wish you to buy a book and, after reading it, to give it to the library." "And," he told me, "none of them objected." Soon a valuable library came into existence.

This admirable functionary felt some satisfaction at having been able to abate the custom according to which the young men, with the tacit permission of their parents, had gone into the neighbouring town after harvest "to visit the immoral women." "They used to spend as much as 5 yen," said our headman. He had started worthier forms of after-harvest relaxation, and "the cost of the amusement days is now only 50 or 60 sen."

When we got on the main line again and pursued our way farther north, it was through even stouter snow shelters and through many tunnels. Not a few miserable dwellings were to be seen as we passed into Akita prefecture. We broke our journey after some hours' travelling to stay the night at a rather primitive hot spring inn four or five miles up in the hills. A slight rain was falling. Four passengers at a time made the ascent to the hotel, squatting on a mat in an old contractor's wagon, pushed along roughly laid rails by two perspiring youths in rain-cloaks of bark strips. At the inn, on going to the bath, I found therein a miscellaneous collection of people of both sexes from grandparents to grandchildren. One bather enlivened us by performances on the flute, which, if a musical instrument must be played in a bath, seems as suitable as any. In this rambling inn there were many farmers who, by preparing their own food and doing for themselves generally, were holiday-making at bedrock prices.

As it was the Bon season, when the spirits of the dead are supposed to return, I was a witness of the method adopted to help the ghosts to find their old homes. At the top of a 30 or 40 ft. pole a lantern is fixed with a pulley. Fastened up beside the lantern is a bunch of green stuff, cryptomeria in many cases. The lantern is lighted each evening for a week. Having heard a good deal about the suppression of Bon dances and songs I was interested when a fellow-guest began talking about them. He had seen many Bon dances Page 191 and had heard many Bon songs. There can be no doubt that there has been some unenlightened interference with the Bon gathering. The country people seem to be suffering from the determination of officialdom to make an end of everything in country as well as town that may be considered "uncivilised" by any foreigner, however ill instructed. In towns the sexes are not accustomed to meet, but country people must work together; therefore they find it natural to dance and sing together. As to the Bon songs, it is common sense that expressions which may be regarded as outrageous and indecent in a drawing-room may not be so terrible on a hilltop among rustics used to very plain speech and to easy recognition of natural facts that are veiled from townspeople. My chance acquaintance at the inn recited a number of Bon songs and next morning brought me some more that he had remembered and had been kind enough to write down. They merely established the fact that bucolic wit is as elemental in Japan as in other lands. Most of the songs had a Rabelaisian touch, some were nasty, but nearly all had wit. The following is an entirely harmless example:

Mr. Potato of the Countryside
Got his new European suit.
But a potato is still a potato.
He took one and a half rin [161] out of his bag
And bought amé [162] and licked at it.

Here are three others:

Tip-toe, tip-toe,
Creaks the floor.
Girl made prayer,
Dreading ghost.
But 'twas her lover
Who stealthily came.
Dancer, dancer,
Do not laugh at me.
My dance is very bad,
But I only began last year.
Page 192 How thin a thin-legged man may be
If he does not take his miso soup. [163]

The quality of these dramatic songs will be entirely missed if the reader does not bear in mind the mimetic skill of the amateur Japanese dancer and his power as a contortionist. Clever dancers often use their powers in a humorous pretence of clumsiness. Of the freer sort of songs I may quote two:

Never buy vegetables in Third Street, [164]
You'll lose 30 sen and your nose.
Onions from a basket hanging in the benjo [165]
Were cooked in miso [166] and given to a blind man,
But that chap was greatly delighted.

Some of the other songs may be described, I suppose, as obscene, if obscene be, as the dictionary says, "something which delicacy, purity and decency forbid to be exposed"; but "delicacy, purity and decency" must be considered in relation to climate, work and social usage. What one feels about some critics of Bon songs and dances is that they need a course of The Golden Bough. Such an illustration as Bon songs furnish of the moral and mental conditions from which country folk must raise themselves is of value if rural sociology is a real thing. There is far too much theorising about the countryman and the countrywoman, far too much idealising of them and far too much rating of them as clods. If country people of all lands are free-spoken let us be neither hypercritical nor hypocritical. A big gap seems to yawn between the paddy-field peasant in his breech clout and the immaculate clubman, but what difference is there between the savour of the average Bon song and of many a smoking-room jest which is not to the credit of the peasant? At an inn in Naganoken a Japanese artist on holiday showed me his sketch book. Among his drawings was a representation of a shrine festival which he had witnessed in a remote village. A festival car was Page 193 being pushed by a knot of youths and by about an equal number of young women and all of them were nude. But no enlightened person believes that either decency or morals depends on clothing, or would expect to find more essential indecency and immorality in that village than in a modern city. What one would expect to find would be marriages between physically well-developed men and women.

How the race moves on is shown in the famous tale of a saintly Zen priest which I first heard in that little hill inn but was afterwards to see in dramatic form on the stage of a Tokyo theatre. An unmarried girl in the village in which the priest's temple was situated was about to have a child. She would not confess to her angry father the name of her lover. At last she attributed her condition to the greatly honoured priest. Her father was astonished but he was also glad that his daughter was in the favour of so eminent a man. So he went to the priest and said that he brought him good tidings: the girl whom he had deigned to notice was about to have a child. The father went on to express at length his sense of obligation to the priest for the honour done to his family. All the priest said in reply was, So desuka? (Is that so?) Soon after the birth of the child the girl besought her father to marry her to a certain young farmer. The father, proud of the association with the priest, refused. Finally the girl told her parent that it was not the priest but the young farmer who was the father of her child. The parent was aghast and chagrined as he recalled the terms in which he had addressed the saintly man. He betook himself at once to the temple and expressed in many words his feelings of shame and deep contrition. The priest heard him out, but all he said was, So desuka?

Yamagata signifies "shape of a mountain" and Akita means "autumn rice field." Although Akita prefecture is mountainous there is a greater proportion of level land in it than in Yamagata. I find "Rice, rice, rice" written in my notebook. An agricultural expert gave me to understand that fifteen per cent. of the farmers were probably living on rents or on the dividends of silk factories, that 55 or 60 per cent. were of the middle grade with an annual Page 194 income of 300 yen, that 25 or 30 per cent. had about 150 yen—the lowest sum on which a family could be supported—and that there were 3 or 4 per cent. of farm labourers who earned less than 150 yen. There had been much paddy adjustment and the prefecture was spending 300,000 yen a year for the encouragement of adjustment and the opening of new paddies. In the case of newly opened fields, tenants had contracts, but ordinary tenancies were by word of mouth generation after generation. A great deal of agricultural instruction was given by the prefecture, the counties and the villages, and in 30 years the rice crop had been doubled although the area had remained about the same. In order to secure help in the work of rural amelioration a gathering of Buddhist priests and another of Shinto priests had been lectured to at the prefectural office. Nearly 300,000 yen had been spent in twelve months on afforestation. The following year a special effort was to be made to spend 500,000 yen. A society raised young trees and sold them at cheap rates to farmers. Every young men's association in the prefecture had land and had planted trees. It was in Akita that I first saw peat in Japan. There are said to be 7,000 acres of it in the country.

The prefecture of Aomori forms the northern tip of the mainland. Apart from its enormous forest area and the railroad stacks of sawn lumber, what caught my eye were the apple orchards and the number of farmers on horseback or seated in wagons. Who that has been in Japan has not a memory of narrow winding roads along which men and women and young people are pulling and pushing carts? Here many farming folk rode. I was told that Akita produced apples and potatoes to the value of a million yen each and that there were ten co-operative apple societies. Much of the fruit went to Russia.

Having passed through the city of Aomori we started to come down the east coast. An agricultural authority said that the net profit of a dry farm, that is a farm without any paddy, was almost negligible. Because of low prices, cattle keeping had decreased to half what it used to be. (The only cattle I saw from the train were on the road with harness on their backs.) Only 18 yen could be got for a Page 195 two-year-old; the Aomori cattle were indeed the cheapest in Japan. The expert added, "There are no buyers; only robbers."

But the dealers were not the only robbers. Boats came from Hokkaido and stole cattle from the prefecture to the number of a hundred a year. Sometimes horses were taken too, but horse thefts were rare "because you cannot kill a horse and sell it for meat." The average price of a two-year-old not thus illicitly vended was 70 yen. (It was a little less in the next prefecture of Iwate and in Hokkaido.) Half of the stallions belonging to the "Bureau of Horse Politics" of the Ministry of Agriculture were bought in Aomori.

The farmers by the lake that we passed on our way south were described as "very poor," for their soil was barren and their climate bad. Their crops were only a third of what could be raised in another part of the prefecture. The agriculture of all the prefectures through which I now journeyed south to Tokyo suffer from the cold temperature of the sea. The east-coast temperature drops in winter to 7 degrees below freezing. [167] "Living is more and more difficult," said someone to me. "The number of tenants increases because farmers get into debt and have to sell their land. Millet and buckwheat are much eaten. Although the temperature is 5 per cent. colder in Hokkaido, the people do worse here because our soil is barren and there is no profitable winter occupation like lumbering. Only 10 per cent. of the rural population save anything. In bad times 65 per cent. of the families get into debt."

At Morioka in Iwate prefecture I visited the excellent higher agricultural college, where there were 300 students. The competition for places, as at every educational institution in Japan, was keen. The number who sat at the last entrance examinations—the average age was twenty—was 317, of whom only 80 got in. There were 15 professors and 10 assistants. The charge to students Page 196 was 300 yen for a year of ten months. The annual cost of the college to the Government was 70,000 yen. Of the foreign volumes among the 20,000 books in the library 50 per cent. were German, 30 per cent. English and 20 per cent. American.

An apiary of a single skep in a roped-off enclosure was an illustration of unfamiliarity with bees. It seemed strange to find that in this up-to-date and efficient institution the biggest implement for cutting grass which was in use, a sickle of course, had a blade no longer than 8 inches. Hung up at the back of a shed I noticed a rusty scythe. When I tried to show what it could do it was suggested that the implement was "too heavy, too difficult and too dangerous."

Iwate is the poorest of the northern prefectures, for bad weather so often comes when the rice is in flower. As many as 40 per cent. of the people were just making ends meet. Another 40 per cent. were always dogged by poverty. Millet was the food of 10 per cent. of the farmers; millet, salted vegetables and bean soup were the meagre diet of 5 per cent; the staple food of the remainder was barley and rice. There are few temples in Iwate compared with the rest of Japan. "Education is more backward than in other prefectures," someone said. "The farmers are not able. Too much saké is drunk." Farmers come in to Morioka to sell charcoal and wood and I saw some of them turning into the saké shops.

There was talk in praise of millet. Though low socially in the dietary of Japan, it has merits. It withstands cold and even salt spray. It ripens earlier than rice and so may sometimes be harvested before a spell of bad weather. It yields well, it will store for some time, its taste is "little inferior to rice and better than that of barley" and it contains more protein than rice. It is cooked after slight polishing and the straw provides fodder. "In the north-east, where millet is most eaten," I was told, "there are people who are 5 ft. 10 ins. to 6 ft. and there are many wrestlers." The seeds in the handsome heavy ears of millet are about the size of the letter O in the footnote type of this book.

Page 197 In the train a farmer who knew the prefecture spoke of Bon songs and dances: "The result of the action against them was not good. The meeting of young men and women at the Bon gatherings was in their minds half the year in prospect and half in retrospect. Bearing in mind the condition of the people, even the worst Bon songs are not objectionable. But when the people become educated some songs will be objectionable."

Visitors to a poor prefecture like Miyagi must be surprised to see so much adjusted paddy. There is more adjusted paddy in Miyagi than in any other prefecture. Some 90,000 acres have been taken in hand and a large amount of money has been spent. The work has been carried out largely by way of giving wages to farmers during famine. A new tunnel brought water to 6,000 acres. "The bad climate of Miyagi cannot be mended," I was told; "all that can be done is to seek for the earliest varieties of rice, to sow early, to work as diligently as possible and to deal with floods by embanking the rivers and by tree planting." As many as 7,000 people go from Miyagi to Hokkaido in a year. It seems to point to a certain amount of fecklessness that 15 per cent. of them return.

One man I spoke with during my journey south gave a vivid impression of the influence of young men's associations. "Before they started," said he, "the young men spent their time in singing indecent songs, in gambling, in talking foolishly, and twice or thrice a year in immorality. A young widow has sometimes been at fault; the parents-in-law need her help and village sentiment is against her remarriage. The suppression of Bon dances has done more harm than good by keeping out of sight what used to be said and done openly[168] . Two or three priests are active in this prefecture. Where the Shinshu sect is strong you will find little divorce. But the influence of Buddhism has been stationary in recent years. There is some action by missionaries of the Japanese Page 198 Christian church, but the number of Christians among real rustics is very small."

At Sendai it was pleasant to see a prefectural office—or most of it—housed in a Japanese building instead of a dreadful edifice "in Western style." In feudal times the building was a school. Portraits of daimyos and famous scholars of the Sendai clan surround the Governor's room, and adjoining it is the tatami-covered apartment in which the daimyo used to sit when he was present at the examinations. Among the portraits is one of a retainer which was painted in Rome, where he had been sent on a mission of inquiry.

[Illustration: ]

A Scarecrow.—A sketch by Professor Nasu.

In his scarecrow-making the Japanese farmer seems to have great faith in the Western-style cap, felt hat, or even umbrella, if he can get hold of one. Ordinarily, the bogey man has a bow with the arrow strung. Occasionally a farmer seeks to scare birds by means of clappers which he places in the hands of a child or an old man who sits in a rough shelter raised high enough to overtop the rice. Now and then there is a clapper connected with a string to the farm-house. I have also seen a row of bamboos carried across a paddy field with a square piece of wood hanging loosely against each one. A rope connecting all the bamboos with one another was carried to the roadway, and now and then a passer-by of a benevolent disposition, or with nothing better to do, or, it may be, standing in some degree of relationship to the paddy-field proprietor, gave the rope a tug. Then all the bamboos bent, and as they smartly Page 199 straightened themselves caused the clappers to give forth a sound sufficiently agitating to sparrow pillagers in several paddies.

On leaving Miyagi we were once more in Fukushima, with notes on which this account of a trip to the north of Japan and back again began. This time, instead of journeying by routes through the centre of the prefecture, as in coming north, or as in the visit paid to Fukushima in the Tokyo-to-Niigata journey, I travelled along the sea coast. When we had passed through Fukushima we were in Ibaraki, a characteristic feature of which is swamps. Drainage operations have been going on since the time of the Shogunate. There is in this prefecture the biggest production of beans in Japan, and we have come far enough south to see tea frequently. In the lower half of the prefecture we are in the great Kwanto plain, the prefectures in which are most conveniently surveyed from Tokyo.


[160][160] Some Yamagata notes and those relating to Akita are conveniently included in this Chapter, but these two prefectures are on the west coast.

[161] A rin is the tenth part of a sen, which in its turn is a farthing.

[162] A kind of barley sugar.

[163] Bean soup.

[164] A street in Akita in which many prostitutes live.

[165] Closet.

[166] Bean paste.

[167] The warm black current from the south flows up the east and west coasts. Some distance north of Tokyo, the east-coast current meets the cold Oyashiro current from Kamchatka, and is turned off towards America.

[168] See A Free Farmer in a Free State, pp. 173-4, for an account of the custom in Zeeland by which peasants preserved themselves from the calamity of childless marriage.



Page 200



True religion is a relation, accordant with reason and knowledge, which man establishes with the infinite life surrounding him, and it is such as binds his life to that infinity, and guides his conduct.—Tolstoy

One of the most instructive experiences I had during my rural journeys occurred one night when I was staying at a country inn. At a late hour I was told that the Governor of the prefecture was in a room overhead. I had called on him a few days before in his prefectural capital. He was a large daimyo-like figure, dignified and courteous, but seemingly impenetrable. There was no depth in our talk. His aloof and uncommunicative manner was deterring, but by this time I had learnt the elementary lesson of unending patience and freedom from hasty judgment that is the first step to an advance in knowledge of another race. I felt that I should like to know more about the man inside this Excellency. No one had told me anything of his life.

Now that he was in the same inn with me it was Japanese good manners to pay him a visit. So I went upstairs with my travelling companion, telling him on the way that we should not remain more than five minutes. We were wearing our bath kimonos. The Governor was also at his ease in one of these garments. He was kneeling at a low table reading. We knelt at the other side, spoke on general topics, asked one or two questions and began to take our leave. On this the Governor said that he would like very much to ask me in turn some questions. We spoke together until one in the morning, his Excellency continually expressing his unwillingness for us to go. He spoke rapidly and with such earnestness that I was balked of understanding what he said sentence by sentence. The Page 201 next day my companion wrote out a summary of what the Governor had said and I had tried to say in reply. As a brief report of a talk of three hours' duration it is plainly imperfect. The artless account is of some interest, however, because it furnishes an impression at once of an engaging simplicity and sincerity in the Japanese character and of the pressure of Western ideas.

Governor: "There have died lately my mother, my wife and one of my daughters. Some of my officials come to me and ask what consolation I am getting. What do I feel at first when such things happen? Am I content under such misfortune? I feel that I should be happy if I could believe something and tell it to them. I am tormented by the conflict of my scientific and religious feelings. How is the relation of science and religion in your mind? Are you tormented or are you composed and peaceful even when meeting such misfortune as mine?"

Myself: "It is certain that it is not well to torment ourselves, for grief is loss. [169] As to science, it did not drive away religion. Science seeks after truth in all matters, but there are truths which are to be searched out through our feeling, conscience and instinct. Religion has to do with these truths. It is quite good for religion if all superstition, dogma and ignorance are cleared away by science. Concerning a future life, we are hampered in our thinking by our traditions, prejudices, deep ignorance and poor mental strength and training; and much energy is needed in the world for present service. Some have thought of an immortality which is that a man's sincere influence, his unselfish manifestations, those things which are the essence of a man's existence, will live on; in other words, that the best of a life is immortal; but not in the way of ghosts. As to the memory, example and achievement of the dead it is sure that we are aided by them."

Governor: "If we sacrifice ourselves for the public good Page 202 it is the best that we can do in this world. But are you composed at the sad news concerning the Lusitania? If you think that event was directed by divine destiny then you can be composed and may not complain."

Myself: "Such an accident may only be by divine destiny in the sense that everything in this world, the saddest misery, the greatest misfortunes, are suffered in the development of mankind, so that even this War is unquestionably for the final betterment of the whole world."

Governor: "Please say what is God."

Myself: "'If I could tell you what God is, I should be God myself.' Many of my own countrymen have been taught that God is 'Spirit, infinite, eternal, unchangeable in His Being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth.' There are those who would say that God may be the total developing or bettering energy, and that we are all part of God. Some people have a more personal conception of God, the sum of all goodness. May not his Excellency consider the peasant's idea of a Governor of a prefecture? The peasant's idea of a Governor is greater than that of any particular Governor. His Excellency's good works are not done by himself alone, but by all the good energies inherent in the Governorship. Those energies are unseen but real. The Japanese army and navy triumphed by the virtue of the Emperor—by the virtue of ideas."

Governor: "The thought of Sensei [170] is quite Oriental."

Myself: "All religions are from Asia."

Governor: "This world where stars move, flowers blossom and decay, spring and autumn come, and people are born and die is too full of mystery, but I can feel some intelligence working through it though incomprehensible."

Myself: "Alas, people will try to explain that incomprehensibleness."

Governor: "What you have said is what I have been accepting to this day. It satisfies my reason, but I feel in my heart something lacking. I seek for a warmer interpretation of the world, for a more heartfelt relation with cosmos. Several of my officials themselves lost their dear Page 203 children recently. They cannot with heart and brain accept their loss, and they ask my direction."

Myself: "In the New Testament one thing is taught, God is Love. We can be composed if we feel that God is love. The Gospel of John is the most tender story in the world."

Governor: "It may be difficult for all people to come to the same point and agree altogether. We must solve a great problem by ourselves."

Myself: "We have opportunities of doing some good works in this life. Therefore we must go on till we die and we must be content at being able to do something good, directly or indirectly, in however small measure. 'Earth is not as thou ne'er hadst been,' wrote an Englishwoman poet of great scientific ability [171] who died while yet a young woman."

Governor: "I think of Napoleon dying tormented on St. Helena, and the peaceful attitude of Socrates though being poisoned by enemies. But Socrates had done many good things, yet he was poisoned."

Myself: "Socrates had done what he could for his country and the world, yet by his brave death he could add one thing more." [172]

The Governor said that he "got comfort from our talk," but this did not perfectly reassure me. The next evening, however, I found a parboiled Governor alone in the bath and he greeted me very warmly. Without our interpreter we could say nothing that mattered, but we were glad of this further meeting in the friendly hot water. It seemed that our midnight talk would be memorable to both of us.

It is convenient to copy out here the following dicta on religion and morals which were delivered to me at various times during my journeys:

A. "The weakest deterrent influence among us is, 'It is wrong.' A stronger deterrent influence is, 'Heaven will punish you.' The strongest deterrent influence of all is, 'Everybody will laugh at you.'"

Page 204 B. "In Japan all religions have been turned into sentiment or æstheticism."

C. (after speaking appreciatively of the ideas animating many Japanese Christians): "All the same I do not feel quite safe about trusting the future of Japan to those people."

D. "We Japanese have never been spiritually gifted. We are neither meditative and reflective like the Hindus nor individualistic like the Anglo-Saxons. Nevertheless, like all mankind we have spiritual yearnings. They will be best stirred by impulses from without."

E. (in answer to my enquiry whether a Quakerism which compromised on war, as John Brights male descendants had done, might not gain many adherents in Japan): "Other sects may have a smaller ultimate chance than Quakerism. One mistake made by the Quakers was in going to work first among the poorer classes. The Quakers ought to have begun with the intellectual classes, for every movement in Japan is from the top."

F. "You will notice what a number of the gods of Japan are deified men. There is a good side to the earth earthy, but many Japanese seem unable to worship anything higher than human beings. The readiest key to the religious feeling of the Japanese is the religious life of the Greeks. The more I study the Greeks the more I see our resemblance to them in many ways, in all ways, perhaps, except two, our lack of philosophy and our lack of physical comeliness."

G. "As to uncomeliness there are several Japanese types. The refined type is surely attractive. If many Japanese noses seem to be too short, foreigners' noses seem to us to be too long. The results of intermarriage between Western people and Japanese who are of equal social and educational status and of good physique should be closely watched."

H. "In our schools an hour or two a week is reserved for culture, but the true spirit of culture is lacking. The Imperial Rescript on education is very good moral doctrine, but the real life's aim of many of us is to be well off, to have an automobile, to become a Baron or to Page 205 extend the Empire. We do not ask ourselves, 'For what reason?'"

I. "I conduct certain classes which the clerks of my bank must attend. The teaching I give is based on Confucian, Christian and Buddhist principles. I try to make the young men more manful. I constantly urge upon them that 'you must be a man before you can be a clerk.'"

J. (a septuagenarian ex-daimyo): "Confucianism is the basis of my life, but twice a month I serve at my Shinto shrine and I conduct a Buddhist service in my house morning and evening. It is necessary to make the profession that Buddha saves us. I do not believe in paradise. It is paradise if when I die I have a peaceful mind due to a feeling that I have done my duty in life and that my sons are not bad men. Unless I am peaceful on my deathbed I cannot perish but must struggle on. Therefore my sons must be good. I myself strove to be filial and I have always said to my sons, 'Fathers may not be fathers but sons must be sons.'"

K. (the preceding speaker's son expressing his opinion on another occasion): "My father as a Confucian is kind to people negatively. We want to be kind positively because it is right to be kind. As to filial obedience, even fathers may err; we are righteous if we are right. My father is a Shintoist because it is our national custom. He wants to respect his ancestors in a wide sense and he desires that Japan, his family and his crops may be protected."

L. "I wish foreigners had a juster idea about 'idols'. There is a difference between frequenters of the temples believing the figures to be holy and believing them to be gods. Every morning my mother serves before her shrine of Buddha but she does not believe our Buddha to be God. She would not soil or irreverently handle our Buddha, but it is only holy as a symbol, as an image of a holy being. My mother has said to me, 'Buddha is our father. He looks after us always; I cannot but thank him. If there be after life Buddha will lead me to Paradise. There is no reason to beg a favour.' My mother is composed and peaceful. All through her life she has met calamities and troubles serenely. I admire her very much. She is a Page 206 good example of how Buddha's influence makes one peaceful and spiritual. But such religious experience may not be grasped from the outside by foreigners."

M. "When I am in a temple or at a shrine I realise its value in concentrating attention. The daily domestic service before the shrine in the house also ensures some religious life daily. Many of my countrymen no doubt regard religion as superstition; they know little of spiritual life. For some of them patriotism or humanitarian sentiments or eagerness to seek after scientific truth takes the place of religion. Most men think that they can never comprehend the cosmos and say, 'We may believe only what we can prove. Let us follow not after preachers but after truth.' I believe with your Western philosophers who say that the cosmos is not perfect but that it is moving towards perfection. Many think that this War shows that the cosmos is not perfect. Spiritual life is living according to one's purest consciousness. But what is of first importance is our actions. It is not enough merely to strive after moral development. One must strive after economic and social development. Some religious people think only of the spiritual life and have no sympathy with economics. The labours of such religious people must be of small value."

In later Chapters the views of other thoughtful Japanese are noted down as they were communicated to me.


[169] "The strength that is given at such times arises not from ignoring loss or persuading oneself that the thing is not that is, but from the resolute setting of the face to the East and the taking of one step forwards. Anything that detaches one, that makes one turn from the past and look simply at what one has to do, brings with it new strength and new intensity of interest."— Haldane.

[170] Teacher, instructor, master, or a polite way of saying "You"—the usual title by which I was addressed.

[171] Constance Naden.

[172] "The Phaedo was bought for us by the death of Socrates."—Quiller Couch.

[Illustration: ]


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[Illustration: ]

From which may be imagined the power of the water in time of flood.

Page 207




The most capital article, the character of the inhabitants.—Tytler

In travelling southwards I noticed between Kyoto and Osaka that farms were being irrigated from wells in the primitive way by means of the weighted swinging pole and bucket. Along the coast to the south, indeed as far as Hiroshima, there have been great gains from the sea, and in the neighbourhood of Kobe there are three parallel roads which mark successive recoveries of land. Before crossing the Inland Sea at Okayama to Shikoku (area about 1,000 square miles) I visited one of the new settlements on recovered land. The labour available from a family was reckoned as equal to that of two men, and as much as 4 to 5 chō was allotted to each house. It will be seen how much larger is this area—5 chō is 12½ acres—than the average Japanese farming family must be content with, a little less than 3 acres. The company supplied houses, seeds, manures, etc., and after all expenses were met the workers were allowed 25 per cent, of the net income of their summer crop and 35 per cent, of the net income of their second crop. The cultivation was directed by the company. There had been 300 applications for the last twenty houses built. An experiment station was maintained, and a campaign against a rice borer had been of benefit to the amount of about 10,000 yen. I found the company's winnowing machine discharging its chaff into the furnace of the rice-drying apparatus.

One of the experts of the company came with me for some Page 208 distance in the train in order to discuss some of his problems. He thought agricultural work could be done in less back-breaking ways. He wanted a small threshing machine which would be suitable not only for threshing small quantities of rice or corn but for easy conveyance along the narrow and easily damaged paths between the rice fields. If he had such a machine he would like to improve it so that it would lay out the threshed straw evenly, so making the straw more valuable for the many uses to which it is put. He wished to see a machine invented for planting out rice seedlings and another contrivance devised for drying wheat. The company's rice-drying machine handled 200 koku of rice a day, but there were difficulties in drying wheat. (In many places I noticed the farmers drying their corn by the primitive method of singeing it and thus spoiling it.) [173]

On the Inland Sea, aboard the smart little steamer of the Government Railways, my companion spoke of the extent to which sea-faring men, a conservative class, had abandoned the use of the single square sail which one sees in Japanese prints; the little vessels had been re-rigged in Western fashion. But many superstitions had survived the abolished square sails. The mother of my fellow-traveller once told him that, when she crossed the Inland Sea in an old-style ship and a storm arose, the shipmaster earnestly addressed the passengers in these words, "Somebody here must be unclean; if so, please tell me openly." The title of the book my companion was reading was The History of the Southern Savage. Who was the "Southern Savage"? The word is namban, the name given to the early Portuguese and Spanish voyagers to Japan. (The Dutch were called komojin, red-haired men.) In looking through the official railway guide on the boat I saw that there was a list of specially favourable places for viewing the moon. An M.P. passenger told me that the average cost of getting returned to the Diet was 10,000 yen [174].

Page 209 The difficulties of communication in Shikoku are so considerable that I was compelled to leave the two prefectures of Tokushima and Kochi unvisited. Kochi is without a yard of railway line. In the prefecture of Ehime most of my journey had to be made by kuruma. Communication between the four prefectures of Shikoku—the one in which I landed was Kagawa—is largely conducted by coasting steamers and sailing craft. An interesting thing in Kochi is the area by the sea in which two crops of rice are grown in the year. Tokushima holds a leading place in the production of indigo. At one place in the hills the adventurous have the satisfaction of crossing a river by means of suspension bridges made of vine branches.

The streets of Takamatsu, the capital of Kagawa, are many of them so narrow that the shopkeepers on either side have joint sun screens which they draw right across the thoroughfares. Here I found the carts hauled by a smallish breed of cow. The placid animals are handier in a narrow place and less expensive than horses. They are shod, like their drivers, in waraji. In Shikoku the cow or ox is generally used in the paddies instead of the horse. "It is slower but strong and can plough deep," one agricultural expert said. "It eats cheaper food than the horse, which moves too fast in a small paddy. Cows and oxen are probably not working for more than seventy-five or eighty days in the year."

At Takamatsu I had the opportunity of visiting a daimyo's castle. I was impressed by its strength not only because of the wide moats but because of the series of earthen fortifications faced with cyclopean stonework through which an invading force must wind its way. There was within the walls a surprisingly large drilling ground for troops and also an extensive drug garden. The present owner of the castle proposed to build here a library and a museum for the town. I was glad of the opportunity to ascend one of the high pagoda-like towers so familiar in Japanese paintings. I was disillusioned. Instead of finding myself in beautiful rooms for the enjoyment of marvellous views and sea breezes I had to clamber over the roughest cob-webbed timbers. Page 210 One storey was connected with another by a stair of rude planking. Such pagodas were built only for their military value as lookouts and for their delightful appearance from the outside.

The town now enjoyed as a park of more than ten acres the grounds of a subsidiary residence of the daimyo. The magnificent trees, with lakes, rivulets and hills fashioned with infinite art, [175] and the background of natural hill and woodland, made in all a possession which exhibited the delectable possibilities of Japanese gardening. An occasional electric light amid the trees gave an effect in the evening in which Japanese delight. Some of the old carp which dashed up to the bridges when they heard our footsteps seemed to be not far short of 3 ft. long.

Except for a small patch of sugar cane in Shidzuoka—it is grown practically on the sea beach where it is visible from the express—the visitor to Japan may never see sugar cane until Shikoku is reached. The value of the crop in the whole island is about 800,000 yen. The tall cane is conspicuous alongside the more diminutive rice. In this prefecture an experiment is being made in growing olives.

Kagawa is remarkable in having had until lately 30,000 pond reservoirs for the irrigation of rice fields. Under the new system of rice-field adjustment many of the ponds are joined together. Because in Shikoku flat tracts of land or tracts that can be made flat are limited in number the farmers have to be content with small pieces of land. The average area of farm in Kagawa outside the mountainous region is less than two acres. When the farms are near the sea, as they commonly are, the agriculturists may also be fishermen.

The number of place names ending in ji (temple) proclaims the former flourishing condition of Buddhism. Shikoku is a great resort of white-clothed pilgrims. Sometimes it is a solitary man whom one sees on the road, sometimes a company of men, occasionally a family. Not seldom the pilgrim or his companion is manifestly suffering from some affection which the pilgrimage is to cure. In Page 211 the old days it was not unusual to send the victim of "the shameful disease" or of an incurable ailment on a pilgrimage from shrine to shrine or temple to temple. He was not expected to return. In Shikoku there are eighty-eight temples to Buddha and the founder of the Shingon sect, and it is estimated that it would mean a 760 miles' journey to visit them all.

We went off our route at one point where my companion wished to visit a gorgeous shrine. A guidebook said that people flocked there "by the million," but what I was told was that last year's attendance was 80,000. The street leading to the approach to the shrine was in a series of steps. On either side were the usual shops with piled-up mementoes in great variety and of no little ingenuity, and also, on spikes, little stacks of rin—the old copper coin with a square hole through the middle—into which the economical devotee takes care to exchange a few sen. We climbed to the shrine when twilight was coming on. At the point where the series of street steps ended there began a new series of about a thousand steps belonging to the shrine. A thousand granite steps may be tiring after a hot day's travel in a kuruma. All the way up to the shrine there were granite pillars almost brand new, first short ones, then taller, then taller still, and after these a few which topped the tallest. They were conspicuously inscribed with the names of donors to the shrine. A small pillar was priced at 10 yen. What the big, bigger and biggest cost I do not know. I turned from the pillars to the stone lanterns. "They burn cedar wood, I believe," said my companion. But soon afterwards I saw a man working at them with a length of electric-light wire.

The great shrine was impressive in the twilight. There was a platform near, and from it we looked down from the tree-covered heights through the growing darkness. Where the lights of the town twinkled there was a subsidiary shrine. A bare-headed, kimono-clad sailor stepped forward near us and bowed his head to some semblance of deity down there. Various fishermen had brought the anchors of their ships and the oars of their boats to show forth their thankfulness for safety at sea. In the murkiness I was Page 212 just able to pick out the outlines of a bronze horse which stands at the shrine, "as a sort of scape-goat," my companion explained. "It is probably Buddhist," he said; "but you can never be sure; these priests embellish the history of their temples so."

It was at the inn in the evening that someone told me that in the town which is dependent on the shrine there were "a hundred prostitutes, thirty geisha and some waitresses." Late at night I had a visit from a man in a position of great responsibility in the prefecture. He was at a loss to know what could be done for morality. "Religion is not powerful," he said, "the schools do not reach grown-up people, the young men's societies are weak, many sects and new moralities are attacking our people, and there are many cheap books of a low class."

Next day I laid this view before a group of landlords. They did not reply for a little and my skilful interpreter said, "they are thinking deeply." At length one of them delivered himself to this effect: "Landowners hereabouts are mostly of a base sort. They always consider things from a material and personal point of view. But if they are attacked and made to act more for the public good it may have an effect on rural conditions which are now low."

I enquired about the new sects of Buddhism and Shintoism, for there had been pointed out to me in some villages "houses of new religions." "New religions in many varieties are coming into the villages," I was told, "and extravagant though they may be are influencing people. The adherents seem to be moral and modest, and they pay their taxes promptly. There is a so-called Shinto sect which was started twenty years ago by an ignorant woman. It has believers in every part of Japan. It is rather communistic." [176] None of the landlords who talked with me believed in the possibility of a "revival of Buddhism." One of them noted that "people educated in the early part of Meiji are most materialistic. It is a sorrowful circumstance that the officials ask only materialistic questions of the villagers."

Page 213 I asked one of the landlords about his tenants. He said that his "largest tenant" had no more than 1.3 tan of paddy. It was explained that "tenants are obedient to the landowner in this prefecture." Under the system of official rewards which exists in Japan, 1,086 persons in the prefecture had been "rewarded" by a kind of certificate of merit and nine with money—to the total value of 26 yen.

When I drew attention to the fact that the manufacture of saké and soy seemed to be frequently in the hands of landowners it was explained to me that formerly this was their industry exclusively. Even now "whereas an ordinary shop-keeper is required by etiquette to say 'Thank you' to his customer, a purchaser of saké or soy says 'Thank you' to the shop-keeper."

The flower arrangement in my room in the inn consisted of an effective combination of hagi (Lespedeza bicolor, a leguminous plant which is grown for cattle and has been a favourite subject of Japanese poetry), a cabbage, a rose, a begonia and leaf and a fir branch.

A landowner I chatted with in the train showed me that it was a serious matter to receive the distinction of growing the millet for use at the Coronation. One of his friends who was growing 5 sh=o, the actual value of which might be 50 or 60 sen, was spending on it first and last about 3,000 yen.

I enquired about the diversions of landowners. It is easy, of course, to have an inaccurate impression of the extent of their leisure. Only about 1 per cent, have more than 25 acres. [177] Therefore most of these men are either farmers themselves or must spend a great deal of time looking after their tenants. Still, some landowners are able to take things rather easily. The landowners I interrogated marvelled at the open-air habits of English landed proprietors. They were greatly surprised when I told them of a countess who is a grandmother but thinks nothing of a canter before breakfast. The mark of being well off was often to stay indoors or at any rate within garden walls, which necessarily enclose a very small area. (Hence the fact that one object of Japanese gardening Page 214 is to suggest a much larger space than exists.) A good deal of time is spent "in appreciating fine arts." Ceremonial tea drinking still claims no small amount of attention. (In many gardens and in the grounds of hotels of any pretensions one comes on the ostentatiously humble chamber for Cha-no-yu.) No doubt there is among many landowners a considerable amount of drinking of something stronger than tea, and not a few men sacrifice freely to Venus. Perhaps the greatest claimant of all on the time of those who have time to spare is the game of go, which is said to be more difficult than chess. One cannot but remark the comparatively pale faces of many landowners.

As we went along by the coast it was pointed out to me that it was from this neighbourhood that some of the most indomitable of the old-time pirates set sail on their expeditions to ravage the Chinese coast. They visited that coast all the way from Vladivostock, now Russian (and like to be Japanese), to Saigon, now French. There are many Chinese books discussing effectual methods of repelling the pirates. In an official Japanese work I once noticed, in the enumeration of Japanese rights in Taiwan (Formosa), the naïve claim that long ago it was visited by Japanese pirates! The Japanese fisherman is still an intrepid person, and in villages which have an admixture of fishing folk the seafarers, from their habit of following old customs and taking their own way generally, are the constant subject of rural reformers' laments.

I spent some time in a typical inland village. The very last available yard of land was utilised. The cottages stood on plots buttressed by stone, and only the well-to-do had a yard or garden; paddy came right up to the foundations. Now that the rice was high no division showed between the different paddy holdings. I noticed here that the round, carefully concreted manure tank which each farmer possessed had a reinforced concrete hood. I asked a landowner who was in a comfortable position what societies there were in his village. He mentioned a society "to console old people and reward virtue." Then there was the society of householders, such as is mentioned in Confucius, which met in the spring and autumn, and ate Page 215 and drank and discussed local topics "with open heart." There were sometimes quarrels due to saké. Indeed, some villagers seemed to save up their differences until the householders' meeting at its saké stage. At householders' meetings where there was no saké peace appeared to prevail. The householders' meeting was a kind of informal village assembly. That assembly itself ordinarily met twice a year. There were in the village, in addition to the householders' organisation, the usual reservists' association, the young men's society and agricultural association. As to , from philanthropic motives my informant was a member of no fewer than ten.

My host told me that he spent a good deal of time in playing go, but in the shooting season (October 15 to April 15) he made trips to the hills and shot pheasants, hares, pigeons and deer. In the garden of his house two gardeners were stretched along the branches of a pine tree, nimbly and industriously picking out the shoots in order to get that bare appearance which has no doubt puzzled many a Western student of Japanese tree pictures. Each man's ladder—two lengths of bamboo with rungs tied on with string—was carefully leant against a pole laid from the ground through the branches. Many of the well-cared-for trees in the gardens and public places of Japan pass the winter in neat wrappings of straw.

I visited a farm-house and found the farmer making baskets. When I was examining the winnowing machine my companion reminded me smilingly that when he was a boy he was warned never to turn the wheel of the winnowing machine when the contrivance had no grain in it or a demon might come out. There was a properly protected tank of liquid manure and a well-roofed manure house. The family bath in an open shed was of a sort I had not seen before, a kind of copper with a step up to it. Straw rope about three-quarters of an inch in diameter was being made by the farmer's son, a day's work being 40 yds. At another farm a woman showed me the working of a rough loom with which she could in a day make a score of mats worth in all 60 sen. From the farmer's house I went to the room of the young men's association and looked over its Page 216 library. I was impressed by the high level of civilisation which this village seemed to exhibit in essentials.

When we continued our journey we saw two portable water wheels by means of which water was being lifted into a paddy. Each wheel was worked by a man who continually ascended the floats. The two men were able to leave their wheels in turn for a rest, for a third man was stretched on the ground in readiness for his spell. It seems that a man can keep on the water tread-mill for an hour. The two wheels together were lifting an amazing amount of water at a great rate. When the pumping is finished one of these light water wheels is easily carried home on a man's shoulders.

Farther on I saw in a dry river bed a man sieving gravel in an ingenious way. The trouble in sieving gravel is that if the sieve be filled to its capacity the shaking soon becomes tiring. This man had a square sieve which when lying on the ground was attached at one side by two ropes to a firmly fixed tripod of poles. When the sieve was filled the labourer lifted it far enough away from the tripod for it to be swinging on one side. Therefore when he shook the sieve he sustained a portion only of its weight.

As we rode along I was told that the largest taxpayer in the county "does not live in idleness but does many good works." The next largest taxpayer "labours every day in the field." When I enquired as to the recreations of moneyed men I was told "travelling, go and poem writing."

As we rode by the sea a trustworthy informant pointed out to me an islet where he said the young men have the young women in common and "give permission for them to marry." There is a house in which the girls live together at a particular time and are then free from the attentions of the youths. Children born are brought up in the families of the mothers but there is some infanticide. In another little island off the coast there are only two classes of people, the seniors and the juniors. Any person senior to any other "may give him orders and call him by his second name." (The surname comes first in Japanese names.)

Our route led us along the track of the new railway line which was penetrating from Kagawa into Ehime. Not Page 217 for the first time on my journeys was I told of the corrupting influence exerted on the countryside by the imported "navvies," if our Western name may be applied to men who in figure and dress look so little like the big fellows who do the same kind of work in England. Although these navvies were a rough lot and our ancient basha (a kind of four-wheeled covered carriage) was a thing for mirth, we met with no incivility as we picked our way among them for a mile or two. I was a witness indeed of a creditable incident. A handcart full of earth was being taken along the edge of the roadway, with one man in the shafts and another pushing behind. Suddenly a wheel slipped over the side of the roadway, the cart was canted on its axle, the man in the shafts received a jolt and the cargo was shot out. Had our sort of navvies been concerned there would have been words of heat and colour. The Japanese laughed.

The reference to our venerable basha reminds me of a well-known story which was once told me by a Japanese as a specimen of Japanese humour. A basha, I may explain, has rather the appearance of a vehicle which was evolved by a Japanese of an economical turn after hearing a description of an omnibus from a foreigner who spoke very little Japanese and had not been home for forty years. The body of the vehicle is just high enough and the seats just wide enough for Japanese. So the foreigner continually bumps the roof, and when he is not bumping the roof he has much too narrow a seat to sit on. Sometimes the basha has springs of a sort and sometimes it has none. But springs would avail little on the rural roads by which many basha travel. The only tolerable place for Mr. Foreigner in a basha is one of the top corner seats behind the driver, for the traveller may there throw an arm round one of the uprights which support the roof. If at an unusually hard bump he should lose his hold he is saved from being cast on the floor by the responsive bodies of his polite and sympathetic fellow-travellers who are embedded between him and the door. The tale goes that a tourist who was serving his term in a basha was perplexed to find that the passengers were charged, some first-, some Page 218 second-and some third-class fare. While he clung to his upright and shook with every lurch of the conveyance this problem of unequal fares obsessed him. It was like the persistent "punch-in-the-presence-of-the-passengare." What possible advantage, he pondered, could he as first class be getting over the second and the second class over the third? At length at a steep part of the road the vehicle stopped. The driver came round, opened the door, and bowing politely said: "Honourable first-class passengers will graciously condescend to keep their seats. Second-class passengers will be good enough to favour us by walking. Third-class passengers will kindly come out and push." And push they did, no doubt, kimonos rolled up thighwards, with good humour, sprightliness and cheerful grunts, as is the way with willing workers in Japan.


[173] At Anjo agricultural experiment station I saw eighteen kinds of small threshing machines at from 13 to 18 yen. There were husking machines of three sorts. A rice thresher was equal to dealing with the crop of one tan, estimated at 2 koku 4 to, in three hours.

[174] See Appendix XLVI.

[175] It is quite possible that the trees had also come into their positions artificially. There are no more skilful tree movers than the Japanese.

[176] It has recently come into collision with the authorities. Another sect with Shinto ideas was also started by a woman.

[177] See Appendix XLVII.



Page 219




A frank basis of reality.—Meredith

In the prefecture of Ehime our journey was still by basha or kuruma and near the sea. The first man we talked with was a gunchō who said that "more than half the villages contained a strong character who can lead." He told us of one of the new religions which taught its adherents to do some good deed secretly. The people who accepted this religion mended roads, cleaned out ponds and made offerings at the graves of persons whose names were forgotten. I think it was this man who used the phrase, "There is a shortage of religions."

I had not before noticed wax trees. They are slighter than apple trees, but often occupy about the same space as the old-fashioned standard apple. The clusters of berries have some resemblance to elderberries and would turn black if they were not picked green. [178] Occasionally we saw fine camphor trees. Alas, owing to the high price of camphor, some beautiful specimens near shrines, where they were as imposing as cryptomeria, had been sacrificed.

I began to observe the dreadful destruction wrought in the early ear stage of rice not by cold but by wind. The wind knocks the plants against one another and the friction generates enough heat to arrest further development. The crops affected in this way were grey in patches and looked as if hot water had been sprayed over them. In one county the loss was put as high as 90 per cent. Happily farmers generally sow several sorts of rice. Therefore paddies come into ear at different times.

Page 220 The heads of millet and the threshed grain of other upland crops were drying on mats by the roadside, for in the areas where land is so much in demand there is no other space available. Sesame, not unlike snapdragon gone to seed, only stronger in build, was set against the houses. On the growing crops on the uplands dead stalks and chopped straw were being used as mulch.

I noticed that implements seemed always to be well housed and to be put away clean. Handcarts, boats and the stacks of poles used in making frameworks for drying rice were protected from the weather by being thatched over.

We continued to see many white-clad pilgrims and everywhere touring students, as often afoot as on bicycles. I noted from the registers at many village offices that the number of young men who married before performing their military service seemed to be decreasing. In one community, where there were two priests, one Tendai and the other Shingon, neither seemed to count for much. One was very poor, and cultivated a small patch near his temple; the other had a little more than a chō. The custom was for the farmers to present to their temple from 5 to 10 shō of rice from the harvest.

In connection with the question of improved implements I noticed that a reasonably efficient winnowing machine in use by a comfortably-off tenant was forty-nine years old—that is, that it dated back to the time of the Shogun. The secondary industry of this farmer was dwarf-plant growing. He had also a loom for cotton-cloth making. There were in his house, in addition to a Buddhist shrine, two Shinto shrines. After leaving this man I visited an ex-teacher who had lost his post at fifty, no doubt through being unable to keep step with modern educational requirements. He had on his wall the lithograph of Pestalozzi and the children which I saw in many school-houses.

On taking the road again I was told that the local landlords had held a meeting in view of the losses of tenants through wind. Most had agreed to forgo rents and to help with artificial manure for next year. I found taro being grown in paddies or under irrigation. Not only the Page 221 tubers of the taro but its finer stalks are eaten. I saw gourds cut into long lengths narrower than apple rings and put out to dry. I also noticed orange trees a century old which were still producing fruit. Boys were driving iron hoops—the native hoop was of bamboo—and one of the hoop drivers wore a piece of red cloth stitched on his shoulder, which indicated that he was head of his class. One missed a dog bounding and barking after the hoop drivers. Sometimes at the doors of houses I noticed dogs of the lap-dog type which one sees in paintings or of the wolf type to which the native outdoor dog belongs. The cats were as ugly as the dogs and no plumper or happier looking. When I patted a dog or stroked a cat the act attracted attention.

We saw a good deal of hinoki (ground cypress), the wood of which is still used at Shinto festivals for making fire by friction.

We were able to visit an Eta village or rather oaza. Whether the Eta are largely the descendants of captives of an early era or of a low class of people who on the introduction of Buddhism in the seventh or eighth century were ostracised because of their association with animal eating, animal slaughter, working in leather and grave digging is in dispute. No doubt they have absorbed a certain number of fugitives from higher grades of the population, broken samurai, ne'er-do-weels and criminals. The situation as the foreigner discovers it is that all over Japan there are hamlets of what are called "special tribes." In 1876, when distinctions between them and Japanese generally were officially abolished, the total number was given as about a million. Most of these peculiar people, perhaps three-quarters of them, are known as Eta. But whether they are known as Eta or Shuku, or by some other name, ordinary Japanese do not care to eat with them, marry with them or even talk with them. In the past Eta have often been prosperous, and many are prosperous to-day, but a large number are still restricted to earning a living as butchers and skin and leather workers, and grave diggers. The members of these "special tribes," believing themselves to be despised without cause, usually make some effort to hide the fact that they are Eta.

Page 222 Shuku seem to be living principally in hamlets of a score or so of houses in the vicinity of Osaka, Kyoto and Nara, and are often travelling players, or, like some Eta, skilled in making tools and musical instruments. There seems to be a half Shuku or intermarried class. Many prostitutes are said to be Shuku or Eta. I was told that most of the girls in the prostitutes' houses of Shimane prefecture are from "special tribes," and that they are "preferred by the proprietors" because, as I was gravely informed, "they do not weary of their profession and are therefore more acceptable to customers." As prostitutes are frequently married by their patrons, it is believed that not a few women from "special villages" are taken to wife without their origin being known. Unwitting marriage with an Eta woman has long been a common motif in fiction and folk story. Many members of the "special tribes" go to Hokkaido and there pass into the general body of the population. The folk of this class are "despised," I was told by a responsible Japanese, "not so much for themselves as for what their fathers and grandfathers did." The country people undoubtedly treat them more harshly than the townspeople, but a man of the "special tribes" is often employed as a watchman of fields or forests. I was warned that it was judicious to avoid using the word Eta or Shuku in the presence of common people lest one might be addressing by chance a member of the "special tribes."

Except that the houses of the village we were visiting looked possibly a trifle more primitive than those of the non-Eta population outside the oaza, I did not discern anything different from what I saw elsewhere. The people were of the Shinshu sect; there was no Shinto shrine. At the public room I noticed the gymnastic apparatus of the "fire defenders." The hamlet was traditionally 300 years old and one family was still recognised as chief. According to the constable, who eagerly imparted the information, the crops were larger than those of neighbouring villages "because the people, male and female, are always diligent."

The man who was brought forward as the representative Page 223 of the village was an ex-soldier and seemed a quiet, able and self-respecting but sad human being. His house and holding were in excellent order. None of his neighbours smiled on us. Some I thought went indoors needlessly; a few came as near to glowering as can be expected in Japan. I got the impression that the people were cared for but were conscious of being "hauden doon" or kept at arm's length. [179]

Our next stop was for a rest in a fine garden, the effect of which was spoilt in one place by a distressing life-size statue of the owner's father. When we took to our kuruma again we passed through a village at the approaches to which thick straw ropes such as are seen at shrines had been stretched across the road. Charms were attached. The object was to keep off an epidemic.

The indigo leaves drying on mats in front of some of the cottages were a delight to the eye. There were also mats covered with cotton which looked like fluffy cocoons. On the telegraph wires, the poles of which all over Japan take short cuts through the paddies, swallows clustered as in England, but it is to the South Seas, not to Africa, that the Japanese swallow migrates. When the telegraph was a newer feature of the Japanese landscape than it is now swallows on the wires were a favourite subject for young painters.

We crossed a dry river bed of considerable width at a place where the current had made an excavation in the gravel, rocks and earth several yards deep. It was an impressive illustration of the power of a heavy flood.

I found in one mountainous county that only about a sixth of the area was under cultivation. A responsible man said: "This is a county of the biggest landlords and the smallest tenants. Too many landowners are thinking of themselves, so there arise sometimes severe conflicts. Some 4,000 tenants have gone to Hokkaido." The conversation got round to the young men's societies and I was told a story of how an Eta village threatened by floods had been saved by the young men of the neighbouring non-Eta village working all night at a weakened embankment. Page 224 Some days later an Eta deputation came to the village and "with tears in their eyes gave thanks for what had been done." The comment of a Japanese friend was: "In the present state of Japan hypocrisy may be valuable. The boys and the Eta were at least exercising themselves in virtue."

Four villages in this county have among them eight fish nurseries, the area of salt water enclosed being roughly 120 acres. I looked into several cottages where paper making was going on. [180]

I also went into two cotton mills. In both there were girls who were not more than eleven or twelve. "They are exempted from school by national regulation because of the poverty of their parents," [181] I was told.

As we passed the open shop fronts of the village barbers I saw that as often as not a woman was shaving the customer or using the patent clippers on him.

We looked at a big dam which an enterprising landowner was constructing. Three hundred women were consolidating the earthwork by means of round, flat blocks of granite about twice the size of a curling stone. Round each block was a groove in which was a leather belt with a number of rings threaded on it. To each ring a rope was attached. When these ropes were extended the granite block became the hub of a wheel of which the ropes were the spokes. A number of women and girls took ropes apiece and jerked them simultaneously, whereupon the granite block rose in the air to the level of the rope pullers' heads. It was then allowed to fall with a thud. After each thud the pullers moved along a foot so that the block should drop on a fresh spot. The gangs hauling at the rammers worked to the tune of a plaintive ditty which went slowly so as to give them plenty of breathing time. It was something like this:

Weep not,
Do not lament,
This world is as the wheel of a car.
If we live long,
We may meet again on the road.

Page 225 None of the sturdy earth thumpers seemed to be overworked in the bracing air of the dam top, and they certainly looked picturesque with their white and blue towels round their heads. Indeed, with all the singing and movement, not to speak of the refreshment stalls, the scene was not unlike a fair. When we got back to the road again we passed through a well-watered rice district which was equal to the production of heavy crops. Only three years before it had been covered by a thick forest in which it was not uncommon for robbers to lurk. The transformation had been brought about by the construction of a dam in the hills somewhat similar to the one we had just visited.

I could not but notice in this district the considerable areas given up to grave-plots. No crematoria seemed to be in use. There had been a newspaper proposal that in areas where the population was very large in proportion to the land available for cultivation the dead should be taken out to sea. Where land is scarce one sees various expedients practised so that every square foot shall be cropped. I repeatedly found stacks of straw or sticks standing not on the land but on a rough bridge thrown for the purpose over a drainage ditch. In this district land had been recovered from the sea.


[178] For an account of a vegetable wax factory, see Appendix XLVIII.

[179] For further particulars of Eta in Japan and America, see Appendix XLIX.

[180] See Appendix L.

[181] In 1918 net profits of 33 million yen were made by cotton factories. The factories are anticipating sharp competition from China.



Page 226




The thing to do is to rise humorously above one's body which is the veritable rebel, not one's mind.—Meredith

It is delightful to find so many things made of copper. Copper, not iron, is in Japan the most valuable mineral product after coal. [182] But there are drawbacks to a successful copper industry. Several times as I came along by the coast I heard how the farmers' crops had been damaged by the fumes of a copper refinery. "There are four copper refineries in Japan, who fighted very much with the farmers," it was explained. The Department of Agriculture is also the Department of Commerce and "it was embarrassed by those battles." The upshot was that one refinery moved to an island, another rebuilt its chimney and the two others agreed to pay compensation because it was cheaper than to install a new system. The refinery which had removed to an island seven miles off the coast I had been traversing had had to pay compensation as well as remove. I saw an apparatus that it had put up among rice fields to aid it in determining how often the wind was carrying its fumes there. The compensation which this refinery was paying yearly amounted to as much as 75,000 yen. It had also been compelled to buy up 500 chō of the complaining farmers' land. When we ascended by basha into the mountains we looked down on a copper mine in a ravine through which the river tumbled. The man who had opened the original road over the pass had had the beautiful idea of planting cherry trees along it so that the traveller might enjoy the beauty of their blossoms in spring Page 227 and their foliage and outlines the rest of the year. The trees had attained noble proportions when the refinery started work and very soon killed most of them. They looked as if they had been struck by lightning.

Some miles farther on, wherever on the mountain-side a little tract could be held up by walling, the chance of getting land for cultivation had been eagerly seized. It would be difficult to give an impression of the patient endeavour and skilful culture represented by the farming on these isolated terraces held up by Galloway dykes. Elsewhere the heights were tree-clad. In places, where the trees had been destroyed by forest fires or had been cleared, amazingly large areas had been closely cut over for forage. One great eminence was a wonderful sight with its whole side smoothed by the sickles of indomitable forage collectors. In some spots "fire farming" had been or was still being practised. Here and there the cultivation of the shrubs grown for the production of paper-making bark had displaced "fire farming." I saw patches of millet and sweet potato which from the road seemed almost inaccessible.

On the admirable main road we passed many pack ponies carrying immense pieces of timber. Speaking of timber, the economical method of preserving wood by charring is widely practised in Japan. The palisades around houses and gardens and even the boards of which the walls or the lower part of the walls of dwellings are constructed are often charred. The effect is not cheerful. What does have a cheerful and trim effect is a thing constantly under one's notice, the habit of keeping carefully swept the unpaved earth enclosed by a house and buildings as well as the path or roadway to them. This careful sweeping is usually regarded as the special work of old people. Even old ladies in families of rank in Tokyo take pleasure in their daily task of sweeping.

When we had crossed the pass and descended on the other side and taken kuruma we soon came to a wide but absolutely dry river bed. The high embankments on either side and the width of the river bed, which, walking behind our kuruma, it took us exactly four minutes to Page 228 cross, afforded yet another object lesson in the severity of the floods that afflict the country. The rock-and rubble-choked condition of the rivers inclines the traveller to severe judgments on the State and the prefectures for not getting on faster with the work of afforestation; but it is only fair to note that in many places hillsides were pointed out to me which, bare a generation ago, are now covered with trees. Within a distance of twenty-five miles hill plantations were producing fruit to a yearly value of half a million yen. As for the cultivation on either side of the roadway, along which our kurumaya were trotting us, I could not see a weed anywhere.

A favourite rural recreation in Ehime, as in Shimane on the mainland, is bull fighting. It is not, however, fighting with bulls but between bulls: the sport has the redeeming feature that the animals are not turned loose on one another but are held all the time by their owners by means of the rope attached to the nose ring. The rope is gripped quite close to the bull's head. The result of this measure of control is, it was averred, that a contest resolves itself into a struggle to decide not which bull can fight better but which animal can push harder with his head. That the bulls are occasionally injured there can be no doubt. The contests are said to last from fifteen to twenty minutes and are decided by one of the combatants turning tail. There is a good deal of gambling on the issue. In another prefecture of Shikoku the rustics enjoy struggles between muzzled dogs. A taste for this sport is also cultivated in Akita. A certain amount of dog and cock fighting goes on in Tokyo.

At an inn there was an evident desire to do us honour by providing a special dinner. One bowl contained transparent fish soup. Lying at the bottom was a glassy eye staring up balefully at me. (The head, especially the eye, of a fish is reckoned the daintiest morsel.) There was a relish consisting of grapes in mustard. A third dish presented an entire squid. I passed honourable dishes numbers two and three and drank the fish soup through clenched teeth and with averted gaze.

I interrogated several chief constables on the absence Page 229 of assaults on women from the lists of crimes in the rural statistics I had collected. Various explanations were offered to me: if there were cases of assault they were kept secret for the credit of the woman's family; no prosecution could be instituted except at the instance of the woman, or, if married, the woman's husband; women did not go out much alone; the number of cases was not in fact as large as might be imagined, because the people were well behaved. An official who had had police experience in the north of Japan declared that the south was more "moral and more civilised and had higher tastes." In Ehime, for example, there was very little illegitimacy and fewer children still-born than in any other prefecture. Nevertheless four offences against women had occurred in villages in Ehime within the preceding twelve months.

One of the most interesting stories of rural regeneration I heard was told me by a blind man who had become headman of his village at the time of the war with Russia. His life had been indecorous and he had gradually lost his sight, and he took the headmanship with the wish to make some atonement for his careless years. This is his story:

"Although I thought it important to advance the economic condition of the village it was still more important to promote friendship. As the interests of landowners and tenants was the same it was necessary to bring about an understanding. I began by asking landowners to contribute a proportion of the crops to make a fund. I was blamed by only fourteen out of two hundred. But the landowners who did blame me blamed me severely, so much so that my family [183] were uneasy. I went from door to door with a bag collecting rice as the priests do. My eccentric behaviour was reported in the papers. The anxiety of my household and relatives grew. My children were told at the school that their father was a beggar. During the first harvest in which I collected I gathered about 40 koku (about 200 bushels). In the fourth year a hundred tenants came in a deputation to me. They said: 'This gathering of rice is for our benefit. But you gather Page 230 from the landowners only. So please let us contribute every year. Some of us will collect among ourselves and bring the rice to you, so giving you no trouble.' I was very pleased with that. But I did not express my pleasure. I scolded them. I said: 'Your plan is good but you think only of yourselves. You do not give the landowners their due. When you bring your rent to them you choose inferior rice. It is a bad custom.' I advised them to treat their landowners with justice and achieve independence in the relation of tenant and landowner. They were moved by my earnestness.

"In the next year the tenants exerted themselves and the landowners were pleased with them. Thus the relation of landlord and tenant became better. The landowners in their turn became desirous of showing a friendly feeling toward the tenants. Some landlords came to me and said, 'If you wish for any money in order to be of service to the tenants we will lend it to you without interest.' I received some money. I lent money to tenants to buy manure and cattle, to attack insect pests, to provide protection against wind and flood and to help to build new dwellings nearer their work. By these means the tenants were encouraged and their welfare was promoted. The landlords were also happier, for the rice was better and the land improved. The landlords found that their happiness came from the tenants. There was good feeling between them. The landlords began to help the tenants directly and indirectly. Roads and bridges and many aids to cultivation were furnished by the landlords. A body of landlords was constituted for these purposes and it collected money. My idea was realised that the way of teaching the villages is to let landlords and tenants realise that their interests agree and they will become more friendly."

The co-operative credit society which the blind headman established not only buys and sells for its members in the ordinary way but hires land for division among the humbler cultivators. One of the departments of the society's work is the collection of villagers' savings. They are gathered every Sunday by school-children. One lad, I found from his book, had collected on a particular Sunday 5 sen each—5 Page 231 sen is a penny—from two houses and 10 sen each from another two dwellings. The next Sunday he had received 5 sen from one house, 10 sen from two houses, 30 sen and 50 sen from others and a whole yen from the last house on his list. The subscriber gets no receipt but sees the lad enter in his book the amount handed over to him, and the next Sunday he sees the stamp of the bank against the sum. Some 390 householders out of the 497 in the village hand over savings to the boy and girl collectors, whose energy is stimulated with 1 per cent. on the sums they gather. In five years the Sunday collections have amassed 60,000 yen. The previous year had been marked by a bad harvest and large sums had been drawn out of the bank, but there was still a sum of 14,000 yen in hand.

In this village there had been issued one of the economic and moral diaries mentioned in an earlier chapter. The diary of this village has two spaces for every day—that is, the economic space and the moral space. The owner of this book had to do two good deeds daily, one economic and the other moral, and he had to enter them up. Further, he had to hand in the book at the end of the year to the earnest village agricultural and moral expert who devised the diary and carefully tabulates the results of twelve months' economic and moral endeavour. One might think that the scheme would break down at the handing in of the diary stage, but I was assured that there were good reasons for believing that a considerable proportion of the 440 persons who had taken out diaries would return them.

There is an old custom by which Buddhist believers, in companies of a dozen or so, meet to eat and drink together. As a good deal is eaten and drunk the gatherings are costly. Our blind headman met the difficulty of expense in his village by getting the companies of believers to cultivate together in their spare time about three acres of land. His object was to associate religion and agriculture and so to dignify farming in the eyes of young men. He also wished to provide an object lesson in the results of good cultivation. The profits proved to be, as he anticipated, so considerable as to leave a balance after defraying the cost of the social gathering. The headman prevailed on the cultivators to Page 232 keep accurate accounts and they made plain some unexpected truths: as for example, that a tan of paddy did not need the labour of a man for more than twenty-three days of ten hours, and that the net income from such an area was a little more than 16 yen, and that thus the return for a day's labour was 73 sen. It was demonstrated, therefore, that labour was recompensed very well, and that instead of farming being "the most unprofitable of industries"—for in Japan as in the West there are sinners against the light who say this—it was reasonably profitable.

But if rice called for only twenty-three days' labour per tan—nearly all the farmers' land was paddy—and the whole holding numbered only a few tan, it was also plain that there were many days in the year when the farmer was not fully employed. From this it was easy to proceed to the conviction that the available time should be utilised either in secondary employments, or in, say, draining, which would reduce the quantity of manure needed on the land. So the farmers began to think about drainage and the means of economising labour. They began to realise how time was wasted owing to most farmers working not only scattered, but irregularly shaped pieces of land. So the rice lands were adjusted, and everybody was found to have a trifle more land than he held before, and the fields were better watered and more easily cultivated. Only from sixteen to seventeen days' labour instead of twenty-three were now needed per tan [184] and the crops were increased. There is now no exodus from this progressive village.

Concerning his blindness the headman said that it was more profitable for him to hear than to see, for by sight "energy might be diverted." He had recited in every prefecture his personal experience of rural reform. He asserted that while conditions varied in every prefecture, there was, generally speaking, labour on the land for no more than 200 days in the year. He deplored the disappearance of some home employments. He did not Page 233 approve of the condition of things in the north where women worked as much in the fields as their husbands and brothers. Women were "so backward and conservative." The biggest obstacles to agricultural progress were old women. To introduce a secondary industry was to take women from the fields.

I spoke with an agricultural expert, one of whose dicta was that "students at normal schools who come from town families are not so clever as students from farmers' families." He told me that 10,000 young men in his county had sworn "to act in the way most fitting to youths of a military state [sic], to buy and use national products as far as possible and so to promote national industry."

What was wrong with some farming, according to an official of a county agricultural association whom I met later, was that the farmers cultivated too intensively. They used too much "artificial." A prefectural official, speaking of the possibility of extending the cultivated area in Japan, said that in Ehime there were 6,000 chō which might be made into paddies if money were available. As to afforestation, 100,000 yen a year, exclusive of salaries, was spent in the prefecture. As a final piece of statistics he mentioned that whereas ten years before pears were grown only in a certain island of the prefecture, the production of a single county was now valued at half a million yen yearly.

I spent a night at a hot spring. It is said that the volume of water is decreasing. What a situation for a town which lives on a hot spring if the hot-water supply should suddenly stop! I heard of another hot-spring resort at which the water is gradually cooling: it is warmed up by secret piping.

I have not troubled my readers with many stories of the jostling of past and present, but I noticed in an electric street car at Matsuyama a peasant trying to light his pipe with flint and tinder. As he did not succeed a fellow-passenger offered him a match. He was so inexpert with it that he still failed to get a light and he had to be handed a cigarette stump.

Page 234 In riding down to the port in the street car I borrowed for a few moments a schoolboy's English reader. It seemed rather mawkish. A book of Japanese history which I was also allowed to look at was full of reproductions of autographs of distinguished men. "They make the impression very strong," I was told.


[182] See Appendix XXXVIII.

[183] That is, not only his household but his relatives.

[184] Adding to the 17 days' labour for the rice crop, 13 days' labour for the succeeding barley crop, the total was 30 days' labour per tan against the general Japan average of 39 days per tan.



Page 235





I have confidence, which began with hope and strengthens with experience, that humanity is gaining in the stores of mind.—Meredith

The main street of an Inland Sea island we visited was 4 ft. wide. Because it was the eve of a festival the old folk were at home "observing their taboo." The islander who had been the first among the inhabitants to visit a foreign country was only fifty. The local policeman made us a gift of pears when we left.

At another primitive island querns were in use and "ordinary families" were "only beginning to indulge in tombstones." In contrast with this, the constable told us that a small condensed-milk factory had been started. (This constable was a fine, dignified-looking fellow, but so poor that his toes were showing through his blue cloth tabi.) The condensed-milk factory must have been responsible for some surprises to the cows when they were first milked in its interests. I heard a tale of the first milking of an elderly cow. She had ploughed paddies, carried hay and other things and had drawn a cart. But it took five men and a woman to persuade her that to be milked into a clay pot was a reasonable thing.

The third island we explored lies in such a situation in the Inland Sea that sailing ships used to be glad to shelter under it while waiting for a favourable wind. Someone had the evil thought of providing it with prostitutes, and, until steam began to take the place of sails, the number of these women established in the island was large. Even now, Page 236 although the whole population numbers only a hundred families, there are thirty women of bad character. These poor creatures were conspicuous because of their bright clothing and dewomanised look. A scrutiny of the islanders old and young yielded the impression that the whole place was suffering from its peculiar traffic. There were two houses, one for registering the women and the other for investigating their state of health, and the purpose of the buildings was bluntly proclaimed on the nameboards at their doors.

When we got out to sea again the newest Japanese battleship doing her trials was pointed out to me, but I was more interested in a large fishing boat running before the wind. A sturdy woman was at the helm and her naked young family was sprawling about the craft.

Someone spoke of villagers of the mainland "failing to realise that they now possessed the privilege of self-government." I was reminded of the pleasant way of the headman of a village assembly in the Loochoos, Japan's oldest outlying possession. He assembles or used to assemble his colleagues in his courtyard and appear there with a draft of proposed legislation. They bowed and departed and the Bill had become an Act.

Although we were already within the territorial waters of Hiroshima prefecture, we determined not to make the mainland at once but to stay the night at the famous island which is called both Miyajima (shrine island) and Itsukushima (taboo island), and is considered to be one of the three most noteworthy sights in Japan. Photographs and drawings of the shrine with its red colonnades on piles by the shore and its big red torii standing in the sea are as familiar as representations of Fuji. It used to be the custom to prevent as far as possible births and deaths occurring on the island. Even now, funerals, dogs and kuruma are prohibited. The iron lanterns of the shrine and galleries and a hundred more in the pine tree-studded approaches are undoubtedly "a most magnificent spectacle at full tide on a moonless night"; but what of the subservience to the profitable foreign tourist seen in this shrine notice?—

Page 237 Zori (straw sandals), geta (wooden pattens) and all footgear except shoes and boots are forbidden.

One is attracted by the idea of listening to music and watching dances which came from afar in the seventh or eighth centuries, but the business-like tariff,

Ordinary music, 12 sen to 5 yen,
Special music and dance, 10 yen and upwards,
Lighting all lanterns, 9 yen,

is calculated to take one out of the atmosphere of Hearn's dreams. The deities of the shrine get along as best they can with the raucous sirens of the tourist steamers, the din of the motor boats and the boom of the big guns which are hidden at the back of the island and make of Miyajima and its vicinity "a strategic zone" in which photography, sketching or the too assiduous use of a notebook is forbidden. Alas, I had myself arrived in a steamer which blew its siren loudly, and in the morning I crossed from the holy isle to the mainland in a motor launch.

The name of Yamaguchi prefecture, which is at the extreme end of the mainland and has the sea to the south, the east and the north, is not so familiar as the name of its port, Shimoneseki. It was mentioned to me that the farmers of Yamaguchi worked a smaller number of days than in Ehime, possibly only a hundred in the year. The comment of my companion, who had visited a great deal of rural Japan, was that 150 full days' work was the average for the whole country. [185]

I was told that here as elsewhere there was an unsound tendency to turn sericulture from a secondary into a primary industry. "Experts are not always expert," confessed an official. "Our farmers have had bitter experience. Experts come who have learnt only from books or in other districts, so they give unsuitable counsel. Then they leave the prefecture for other posts before the results of their unwisdom are apparent."

The same official told me of a "little famine" in one county which had imprudently concentrated its attention Page 238 on the production of grape fruit to the annual value of about a million yen. When a storm came one spring there was almost a total loss. "The river and the sea were covered with fruit, fishing was interfered with, and the county town complained of the smell of the rotting fruit." It seems that many of the suffering orange growers were samurai who found fruit farming a more gentlemanly pursuit than the management of paddies. Like rural amateurs everywhere, "some of them would do better if they knew more about the working of the land."

Rice was being assailed by a pest which survived in the straw stack and had done damage in the prefecture to the amount of 30,000 yen.

In this prefecture and two others during our tour my companion delivered addresses to farmers under the auspices of the National Agricultural Association. The burden of his talk was their duty as agriculturists in the new conditions which were opening for the nation. His three audiences numbered about 700, 1,000 and 1,500. They were composed largely of picked men. At the first gathering the audience squatted; at the next chairs were provided; at the third there were school forms with backs. What I particularly noticed was the easy-going way in which the meetings were conducted. No gathering began exactly at the time announced, although one of the audiences had been encouraged to be in time by the promise of a gift of mottoes to the first hundred arrivals. At each meeting the Governor of the prefecture was the first speaker. At one meeting the Governor arrived about 8.30 a.m., made his speech and departed. When my friend had been introduced to various people in the anteroom, had drunk tea and had smoked and chatted a little, he was taken to the platform half an hour or three quarters after the conclusion of the Governor's speech. Nothing had happened at the meeting in the interval. The idea was that the wait would help the audience's digestion of the speech it had had and the speech it was going to have. There was no formal introduction of the orator. He just mounted the platform and spoke for two hours.

[Illustration: ]


[Illustration: ]


At the second meeting the Governor awaited our arrival Page 239 but "went on" alone. The star speaker meanwhile refreshed himself in the anteroom with tea, tobacco and conversation as before. In a few minutes the Governor, having done his turn, rejoined us, and my friend proceeded to the meeting to deliver his speech, the Governor taking his departure.

[Illustration: ]


[Illustration: ]


At the third meeting the Governor and the speaker of the day did enter the hall together, but before the Governor had finished his introductory harangue my companion took himself off to the anteroom to refresh himself with a cigar and a chat. When the Governor concluded and returned to the anteroom there was conversation for a few minutes, and then my friend and his Excellency went into the meeting together. This time the Governor stayed to the end.

In his three speeches my friend said many moving things and his audiences were appreciative. But no one presumed to interrupt with applause. At the end, however, there was a hearty round of hand-clapping, now a general custom at public gatherings. On the conclusion of each of his addresses the orator stepped down from the platform and made off to the hall, for no one dreamt of asking questions. When he was gone an official expressed the thanks of the audience and there was another round of applause. Then everybody connected with the arrangement of the meeting gathered in the anteroom and one after the other made appreciative speeches and bows. I marvelled at the orator's toughness. Before he went on the platform he had been pestered with unending introductions and beset by conversation. But I do not know that my friend felt any strain. Nor did the fashion in which the speakers wandered on and off the platform, and thus, according to our notions, did their utmost to damp the enthusiasm of the meetings, seem to have any such effect. Once in an oculist's consulting clinic in Tokyo I was struck by the fact that when water was squirted into the eyes of a succession of patients of both sexes and various ages, they did not wince as Western people would have done.

I was told that school fees go up a little when the price of rice is high; also of the "negatively good" effects Page 240 of young men's associations. During the period of our tour efforts were being made to systematise these organisations. The Department of Agriculture wanted a farmer at the head of each society, the War Office an ex-soldier. There can be no doubt that the militarists have been doing their best to give the societies the mental attitude of the army.

In the country we were entering, the horse had taken the place of the ox as the beast of burden. Two men of some authority in the prefecture agreed that it was difficult to think of tracts in the south-west that would be suitable for cattle grazing. There was certainly no "square ri where the price of land was low enough to keep sheep." As to cattle breeding and forestry, one of them must give way. It was necessary to keep immense areas under evergreen wood for the defence of the country against floods. With regard to the areas available for afforestation, for cattle keeping and for cultivation respectively, it was necessary to be on one's guard against "experts" who were disposed to claim all available land for their specialties.

When we took to an automobile for the first stage of our long journey through Yamaguchi and Shimane—the railway came no farther than the city of Yamaguchi—I noticed that just as the bridges are often without parapets, the roads winding round the cliffs were, as in Fukushima, unprotected by wall or rail. This was due, no doubt, to considerations of economy, to a widely diffused sense of responsibility which makes people look after their own safety, and also, in some degree, to stout Japanese nerves. That our driver's nerves were sound enough was shown by the speed at which he drove the heavy car round sharp corners and down slippery descents where we should have dropped a few hundred feet had we gone over.

At our first stopping-place I saw a photograph showing a Shinshu priest engaged with the girl pupils of a Buddhist school in tree planting. Our talk here was about the low incomes on which people contrive to live. A little more than a quarter of a century ago the family of a friend of mine, now of high rank, was living in a county town on 5 yen a month! There were two adults and three children. Page 241 Rent was 1.20 yen and rice came to 1.80 yen. Even to-day an ex-Minister may have only 1,500 yen a year. Many ex-Governors are living quietly in villages. We went to call upon one of them who was getting great satisfaction out of his few tan. Among other things he told us was that there were five doctors and one midwife in the community. These doctors do not possess a Tokyo qualification. They have qualified by being taught by their fathers or by some other practitioner, and they are entitled to practise in their own village and in, perhaps, a neighbouring one.

It was thoughtless of me, after inquiring about the doctors, to ask about the gravedigger. I was told that when there was no member of a "special tribe" available it was the duty of neighbours to dig graves. A community's displeasure was marked by neighbours refraining from helping to dig an unpopular person's grave. (One might have expected to hear that such a grave would be dug with alacrity.) Families which had run counter to public opinion had had to "apologise" before they could get neighbourly help at the burial of their dead.

Only one family in the village, I learnt from the headman, was being helped from public funds. This family consisted of an old man and his daughter, who, owing to the attendance her father required, could not go out to work. The village provided a small house and three pints of rice daily. The headman in his private capacity gave the girl, with the assistance of some friends, straw rope-making to do and paid a somewhat higher price than is usual.

Of last year's births in the village 10 per cent. had been legally and 5 per cent. actually illegitimate. Four or five births had occurred a few months after marriage.

We ate our lunch in the headman's room in the village office. Hanging from the ceiling was a sealed envelope to be opened on receipt of a telegram. Some member of the village staff always slept in that room. The envelope contained instructions to be acted upon if mobilisation took place.

When we had gone on some distance I stopped to watch a farmer's wife and daughter threshing in a barn by pulling Page 242 the rice through a row of steel teeth, the simple form of threshing implement which is seen in slightly different patterns all over Japan. (It is the successor of a contrivance of bamboo stakes.) The women told me that one person could thresh fourteen bushels a day. The implement cost 2½ yen from travelling vendors but only 1½ yen from the co-operative society. While we talked the farmer appeared. I apologised to him for unwittingly stepping on the threshold of the barn—that is, the grooved timber in which the sliding doors run. It is considered to be an insult to the head of the house to tread on the threshold as in some way "standing on the householder's head."

This man had a bamboo plantation, and he told me, in reply to a question, that the bamboo would shoot up at the rate of more than a foot in twenty-four hours. (During the month in which this is dictated I have measured the growth of a shoot of a Dorothy Perkins climber and find that it averages about quarter of an inch in twenty-four hours.)


[185] See Appendix XII.



Page 243




Nothing but omniscience could suffice to answer all the questions implicitly raised.—J.G. Frazer

When we descended from the hills we were in Shimane, a long, narrow, coastwise prefecture through which one travels over a succession of heights to the capital, Matsue, situated at the far end. Two-thirds of the journey must be made on foot and by kuruma. [186] Some talk by the way was about the farmers going five or six miles daily to the hills to cut grass for their "cattle," the average number of cattle per farmer being 1.3 hereabouts. It seemed strange to see buckwheat at the flowering stage reached by the crops seen in Fukushima several months before. The explanation was that buckwheat is sown both in spring and autumn.

In the old days notable samurai, fugitives from Tokyo, had kept themselves secluded in the rooms we occupied at Yamaguchi. In Shimane we had small plain low-ceiled rooms in which daimyos had been accommodated. Not here alone had I evidences of the simplicity of the life of Old Japan.

I was wakened in the morning by the voice of a woman earnestly praying. She stood in the yard of the house opposite and faced first in one direction and then in another. A friend of mine once stayed overnight at an inn on the river at Kyoto. In the morning he saw several men and a considerable number of women praying by the waterside. They were the keepers and inmates of houses of ill-fame. The old Shinto idea was that prayers might be Page 244 made anywhere at other times than festivals, for the god was at the shrine at festivals only. Nowadays some old men go to the shrine every morning, just as many old women are seen at the Buddhist temples daily. Half the visitors to a Shinto shrine, an educated man assured me, may pray, but in the case of the other half the "worship" is "no more than a motion of respect." My friend told me that when he prayed at a shrine his prayer was for his children's or his parents' health.

At a county town I found a library of 4,000 volumes, largely an inheritance from the feudal regime. Wherever I went I could not but note the cluster of readers at the open fronts of bookshops. [187]

On our second day's journey in Shimane I had a kuruma with wooden wheels, and in the hills the day after we passed a man kneeling in a kago, the old-fashioned litter. When we took to a basha we discovered that, owing to the roughness of the road, we had a driver for each of our two horses. We had also an agile lad who hung on first to one part and then another of the vehicle and seemed to be essential in some way to its successful management. The head of the hatless chief driver was shaved absolutely smooth.

It was a rare thing for a foreigner to pass this way. My companion frequently told me that he had difficulty in understanding what people said.

We saw an extinct volcano called "Green Field Mountain." There was not a tree on it and it was said never to have possessed any. The whole surface was closely cut, the patches cut at different periods showing up in rectangular strips of varying shades. Wherever the hills were treeless and too steep for cultivation they were carefully cut for fodder. In cultivable places houses were standing on the minimum of ground. More than once we had a view of a characteristic piece of scenery, a dashing stream seen through a clump of bamboo.

When our basha stopped for the feeding of the horses, they had a tub of mixture composed of boiled naked barley, rice chaff, chopped straw and chopped green stuff. I noticed near the inn a doll in a tree. It had been put there Page 245 by children who believe that they can secure by so doing a fine day for an outing. When we started again we met with a company of strolling players: a man, his wife and two girls, all with clever faces. We also saw several peasant anglers fishing or going home with their catch. A licence available from July to December cost 50 sen.

At a shop I made a note of its signs, the usual strips of white wood about 8 ins. by 3, nailed up perpendicularly, with the inscriptions written in black. One sign was the announcement of the name and address of the householder, which must be shown on every Japanese house. A second stated that the place was licensed as a shop, a third that the householder's wife was licensed to keep an inn, a fourth that the householder was a cocoon merchant, a fifth that he was a member of the co-operative credit society, a sixth that he belonged to the Red Cross Society, a seventh that his wife was a member of the Patriotic Women's Society, [188] the eighth, ninth and tenth that the shopkeeper was an adherent of a certain Shinto shrine, a member of a Shinto organisation and had visited three shrines and made donations to them. An eleventh board proclaimed that he was of the Zen sect of Buddhism. Finally, there was a box in which was stored the charms from various shrines.

We passed a company of villagers working on the road for the local authority. The labourers were chiefly old people and they were taking their task very easily. Farther along the road men and women were working singly. It seemed that the labourers belonged to families which, instead of paying rates, did a bit of roadmending. The work was done when they had time to spare.

For some time we had been in a part of the country in which the ridges of the houses were of tiles. At an earlier stage of our journey they had been either of straw or of earth with flowers or shrubs growing in it. The shiny, red-brown tiles give place elsewhere to a slate-coloured variety. Page 246 The surface of all of these tiles is so smooth that they are unlikely to change their hard tint for years. Meanwhile they give the villages a look of newness. Their use is spreading rapidly. Shiny though the tiles may be, one cannot but admire the neat way in which they interlock. One day when I wondered about the cost involved in recovering roofs with these tiles, a woman worker who overheard me promptly said that, reckoning tiles and labour, the cost was 60 or 70 sen per 22 tiles. In the old days tiled porticoes were forbidden to the commonalty. They were allowed only to daimyos who also used exclusively the arm rests which every visitor to an inn may now command. Besides arm rests I have frequently had kneeling cushions of the white brocade formerly used only for the zabuton of Buddhist priests.

In the county through which we were passing the fine water grass, called i, used for mat making, is grown on an area of about 78 chō. It is sown in seed beds like rice and is transplanted into inferior paddies in September. (The grass is better grown in Hiroshima and Okayama.)

I saw a beautiful tree in red blossom. The name given to it is "monkey slip," because of the smoothness of its skin, which recalled the name of that very different ornament of suburban gardens, "monkey puzzle."

During this journey we recovered something of the conditions of old-time travel. There were chats by the way and conferences at the inn in the evening and in the morning concerning distances, the kind of vehicles available, the character of their drivers, the charges, the condition of the road, the probable weather and the places at which satisfactory accommodation might be had. What was different from the old days was that at every stopping-place but one we had electric light. Part of our journey was done in a small motor bus lighted by electricity. Like the automobile we had hired a day or two before, it was driven—by two young men in blue cotton tights—at too high a speed considering the narrowness and curliness of the roads by which we crossed the passes. The roads are kept in reasonably good condition, but they were made for hand cart and kuruma traffic.

Page 247 We passed an island on which I was told there were a dozen houses. When a death occurs a beacon fire is made and a priest on the mainland conducts a funeral ceremony. By the custom of the island it is forbidden to increase the number of the houses, so presumably several families live together. In the mountain communities of the mainland, where the number of houses is also restricted, it is usual for only the eldest brother to be allowed to marry. The children of younger brothers are brought up in the families of their mothers.

We passed at one of the fishing hamlets the wreck of a Russian cruiser which came ashore after the battle of Tsushima. Two boat derricks from the cruiser served as gate posts at the entrance of the school playground.

A familiar sight on a country road is the itinerant medicine vendor. He or his employer believes in pushing business by means of an impressive outfit. One typical cure-all seller, who had his medicines in a shiny bag slung over his shoulders, wore yellow shoes, cotton drawers, a frock coat, a peaked cap with three gold stripes, and a mysterious badge. On his hands he had white cotton gloves and as he walked he played a concertina. A common practice is to leave with housewives a bag of medicines without charge. Next year another call is made, when the pills and what not which have been used are paid for and a new bag is exchanged for the old one.

The use of dogs to help to draw kuruma is forbidden in some prefectures, but in three stages of our journey in Shimane we had the aid of robust dogs. During this period, however, I saw, attached to kuruma we passed, three dogs which did not seem up to their work. Dogs suffer when used for draught purposes because their chests are not adapted for pulling and because the pads of their feet get tender. The animals we had were treated well. Each kuruma had a cord, with a hook at the end, attached to it; and this hook was slipped into a ring on the dog's harness. The dogs were released when we went downhill and usually on the level. Several times during each run, when we came to a stream or a pond or even a ditch, the dogs were released for a bathe. They invariably leapt into Page 248 the water, drank moderately, and then, if the water was too shallow for swimming, sat down in it and then lay down. Sometimes a dog temporarily at liberty would find on his own account a small water hole, and it was comical to see him taking a sitz bath in it. When the sun was hot a dog would sometimes be retained on his cord when not pulling in order that he might trot along in the shade below the kuruma. The dog of the kuruma following mine usually managed when pulling to take advantage of the shade thrown by my vehicle. A kurumaya told me that he had given 8 yen for his dog. Dogs were sometimes sold for from 10 to 15 yen. The difficulty was to get a dog that had good feet and would pull. The dogs I saw were all mongrels with sometimes a retriever, bloodhound or Great Dane strain.

I made enquiries about another county town library. There were 18,000 volumes of which 300 consisted of European books and 600 of bound magazines. The annual expenditure on books, and I presume magazines, was 600 yen.

We passed a "special tribe" hamlet. Here the Eta were devoting themselves to tanning and bamboo work. I was told of other "peculiar people" called Hachia, also of a hawker-beggar class which sells small things of brass or bamboo or travels with performing monkeys.

Water from hot springs is piped long distances in water pipes made of bamboo trunks, the ends of which are pushed into one another. A turn is secured by running two pipes at the angle required into a block of wood which has been bored to fit.

When we got down to the sand dunes there were windbreaks, 10 or 15 ft. high, made of closely planted pines cut flat at the top. Elsewhere I saw such windbreaks 30 ft. high. On the telegraph wires there were big spiders' webs about 4 ft. in diameter.

As we sped through a village my attention was attracted by a funeral feast. The pushed-back shoji showed about a dozen men sitting in a circle eating and drinking. Women were waiting on them. At the back of the room, making part of the circle, was the square coffin covered by a white canopy.

Page 249 While passing a Buddhist temple I heard the sound of preaching. It might have been a voice from a church or chapel at home.

Shortly afterwards I came on a memorial to the man who introduced the sweet potato into the locality 150 years before. This was the first of many sweet-potato memorials which I encountered in the prefecture and elsewhere. Sometimes there were offerings before the monuments. Occasionally the memorial took the form of a stone cut in the shape of a potato. There is a great exportation of sweet potatoes—sliced and dried until they are brittle—to the north of Japan where the tuber cannot be cultivated. [189]

While we rested at the house of a friend of my companion we spoke of emigration. There are four or five emigration companies, and it is an interesting question just how much emigration is due to the initiative of the emigrants themselves and how much to the activity of the companies. The chief reason which induces emigrants to go to South America is that, under the contract system, they get twice as much money as they would obtain, say, in Formosa. [190]

Our host did not remember any foreigner visiting his village since his boyhood, though it is on the main road. It took nearly four days for a Tokyo newspaper to arrive. This region is so little known that when a resident mentioned it in Tokyo he was sometimes asked if it was in Hokkaido.

I was interested to see how many villages had erected monuments to young men who had won distinction away from home as wrestlers.

I had often noticed bulls drawing carts and behaving as sedately as donkeys, but it was new to see a bull tethered at the roadside with children playing round it. Why are the Japanese bulls so friendly?

In the mountainous regions we passed through I saw several paddies no bigger than a hearthrug. At one spot a land crab scurried across the road. It was red in colour and about 2½ ins. long.

Page 250 At a village office the headman's gossip was that priests had been forbidden by the prefecture to interfere in elections. We looked through the expenses of the village agricultural association. For a lecture series 5 yen a month was being paid. Then there had been an expenditure by way of subsidising a children's campaign against insects preying on rice. For ten of the little clusters of eggs one may see on the backs of leaves 4 rin was paid, while for 10 moths the reward was 2 rin. The association spent a further 10 yen on helping young people to attend lectures at a distance. The commune in which those things had been done numbered 3,100 people. There had been two police offences during the year, but both offenders were strangers to the locality.

In a cutting which was being made for the new railway, girl labourers were steering their trucks of soil down a half-mile descent and singing as they made the exhilarating run. The building of a railway through a closely cultivated and closely populated country involves the destruction of a large amount of fertile land and the rebuilding of many houses. The area of agricultural land taken during the preceding and present reigns, not only for railways and railway stations but for roads, barracks, schools and other public buildings, has been enormous. "The owner of land removed from cultivation may seem to do well by turning his property into cash," a man said to me. "He may also profit to some extent while the railway is building by the jobs he is able to do for the contractor, with the assistance of his family and his horse or bull; but afterwards he has often to seek another way of earning his living than farming."

We neared railhead on a market day and many folk in their best were walking along the roads. Of fourteen umbrellas used as parasols to keep off the sun that I counted one only was of the Japanese paper sort; all the others were black silk on steel ribs in "foreign style" except for a crude embroidery on the silk.

When we got into the town it was as much as our kurumaya could do to move through the dense crowd of rustics in front of booths and shops. Once more I was Page 251 impressed by the imperturbability and natural courtesy of the people. At the station quite a number of farmers and their families had assembled, not to travel by the train but to see it start.

During the short journey by train I noticed lagoons in which fish were artificially fed. At an agricultural experiment station in the place at which we alighted there were two specimen windmills set up to show farmers who were fortunate enough to have ammonia water on their land the cheapest means of raising it for their paddies. The tendency here as elsewhere was to apply too much of the ammonia water. All rubbish on this extensive experiment station was carefully burnt under cover in order to demonstrate the importance not only of getting all the potash possible but of preserving it when obtained.

Farmers who are without secondary industries are short of cash except at the times when barley, rice and cocoons are sold, and in certain places they seem to have taken to saving money on salt. An old man told us with tears in his eyes how he had protested to his neighbours against the tendency to do without salt. An excuse for attempting to save on salt, besides the economical one, was the size of the salt cubes. Neighbours clubbed together to buy a cube, and thus a family, when it had finished its share, had to wait until the neighbours had disposed of theirs and market day came round. [191]

I saw a monument erected to the memory of "a good farmer" who had planted a wood and developed irrigation.

We made a stay at the spot where, on a forest-clad hill overlooking the sea, there stands in utter simplicity the great shrine of Izumo. The customary collection of shops and hotels clustering at the town end of the avenue of torii cannot impair the impression which is made on the alien beholder by this shrine in the purest style of Shinto architecture. In the month in which we arrived at Izumo the deities are believed to gather there. Before the shrine the Japanese visitor makes his obeisance and his offering at the precise spot—four places are marked—to which his rank permits him to advance. (This inscription may be read: Page 252 "Common people at the doorway.") The estimate which an official gave me of the number of visitors last year, 40,000, bore no relation to the "quarter of a million" of the guide book. But it had been a bad year for farmers. Forty-seven geisha, who had reported the previous year that they had received 35,000 yen—there is no limit to what is tabulated in Japan—now reported that they had gained only half that sum in twelve months, "the price of cocoons being so low that even well-to-do farmers could not come." I noticed that there was a clock let into one of the granite votive pillars of the avenue along which one walks from the town to the shrine. As I glanced at the clock it happened that the sound of children's voices reached me from a primary school. I wondered what time and modern education, which have brought such changes in Japan, might make of it all.


[186] The railway has now been extended in the direction of Yamaguchi.

[187] See Appendix LI.

[188] Protests have been made against the way in which the country people are dunned for subscriptions to these semi-official organisations. A high agricultural authority has stated that in Nagano the farmers' taxes and subscriptions to the Red Cross and Patriotic Women Societies are from 65 to 70 per cent. of their expenditure as against 30 to 35 per cent. spent on outlay other than food and clothing.

[189] Satsuma-imo is sweet potato. Our potato is called jaga-imo or bareisho. Imo is the general name.

[190] See Appendix LII.

[191] The Salt Monopoly profits are estimated at 314,204 yen for 1920-21.



Page 253




Those who suffer learn, those who love know.— Mrs. Havelock Ellis

At Matsue, with which the name of Lafcadio Hearn will always be associated, I chanced to arrive on the anniversary of his death. His local admirers were holding a memorial meeting. As a foreigner I was honoured with a request to attend. First, however, I had the chance of visiting Hearn's house. Matsue was the first place at which Hearn lived. He always remembered it and at last came back there to marry. Except that a pond has been filled up—no doubt to reduce the number of mosquitoes—the garden of his house is little changed.

The most interesting feature of the meeting was old pupils' grateful recollections of Hearn, the middle-school teacher. The gathering was held in a room belonging to the town library in the prefectural grounds, but neither the Governor nor the mayor was present. A sympathetic speech was made by a chance visitor to the town, the secretary-general to the House of Peers. He recalled the antagonism which the young men at Tokyo University, himself among them, felt towards the odd figure of Hearn—he had a terribly strained eye and wore a monocle—when he became a professor, and how very soon he gained the confidence and regard of the class.

I had often wondered that there was no Japanese memorial to Hearn, and when I rose to speak I said so. I added that it was rare to meet a Japanese who had any understanding of how much Hearn had done in forming the conception of Japan possessed by thousands of Page 254 Europeans and Americans. The fault in so many books about Japan, I went on, was not that their "facts" were wrong. What was wrong was their authors' attitude of mind. I had heard Japanese say that Hearn was "too poetical" and that some of his inferences were "inaccurate." That was as might be. What mattered was that the mental attitude of Hearn was so largely right. He did not approach Japan as a mere "fact" collector or as a superior person. What he brought to the country was the humble, studious, imaginative, sympathetic attitude; and it was only by men and women of his rare type that peoples were interpreted one to the other.

In that free-and-easy way in which meetings are conducted in Japan it was permissible for us to leave after another speech had been made. The proceedings were interrupted while the promoters of the gathering showed us a collection of books and memorials of Hearn, arranged under a large portrait, and accompanied us to the door of the hall. I do not recall during the time I was in Japan any other public gathering in honour of Hearn, and I met several prominent men who had either never heard his name or knew nothing of the far-reaching influence of his books. But some months after this Matsue meeting there was included among the Coronation honours a posthumous distinction for Hearn—"fourth rank of the junior grade." [192]

During this journey I attended a dinner of officials and leading agriculturists and had the odd sensation of making a short after-dinner speech on my knees. At such a dinner the guests kneel on cushions ranged round the four walls of the room, and each man has a low lacquer table to himself, and a geisha to wait on him. When the geisha is not bringing in new dishes or replenishing the saké bottle, she kneels before the table and chatters entertainingly. Page 255 The governors of the feast visit the guests of honour and drink with them. In the same way a guest drinks with his neighbour and with his attendant geisha. I have a vivid memory of a grave and elderly dignitary who at the merry stage of such a function capered the whole length of the room with his kneeling-cushion balanced on the top of his head. There is a growing temperance movement in Japan but a teetotaller is still something of an oddity. My abstinence from saké was frequently supposed to be the result of a vow.

Although the average geisha may be inane in her patter and have little more than conventional grace and charm, I have been waited on by girls who added real mental celerity, wit and a power of skilful mimicry to that elusive and seductive quality that accounts for the impregnable position of their class. At one dinner impersonations in both the comic and the tragic vein were given by a girl of unmistakable genius. Frequently a plain, elderly geisha will display unsuspected mimetic ability. Alas, behind the merry laugh and sprightliness of the girls who adorn a feast lurks a skeleton. One is haunted by thoughts of the future of a large proportion of these butterflies. No doubt most foreigners generalise too freely in identifying the professions of geisha and joro. In the present organisation of society some geisha play a legitimate rôle. They gain in the career for which they have laboriously trained an outlet for the expression of artistic and social gifts which would have been denied them in domestic life. At the same time the degrading character of the life led by many geisha cannot be doubted. Apart from every other consideration the temptation to drink is great. The opening of new avenues to feminine ability, the enlarged opportunities of education and self-respect and the increasing opening for women on the stage—from which women have been excluded hitherto—must have their effect in turning the minds of girls of wit and originality to other means of earning a living than the morally and physically hazardous profession of the geisha.

When we left Matsue by steamer on our way to Tottori prefecture I saw middle-school eights at practice. An Page 256 agriculturist told me of the custom of giving holidays to oxen and horses. The villagers carefully brush their animals, decorate them and lead them to pastures where, tethered to rings attached to a long rope, "they may graze together pleasantly." One of the islands we visited bore the name of the giant radish, Daikon, which is itself a corruption of the word for octopus. The island devoted itself mainly to the growing of peonies and ginseng. The ginseng is largely exported to China and Korea, but there is a certain consumption in Japan. Ginseng is sometimes chewed, but is generally soaked, the liquid being drunk. Ginseng is popularly supposed to be an invigorant, and Japanese doctors in Korea have lately declared that it has some value. The root is costly, hence the proverb about eating ginseng and hanging oneself, i.e. getting into debt.

In walking across the island I passed a forlorn little shrine. It was merely a rough shed with a wide shelf at the back, on which stood a row of worn and dusty figures, decked with the clothes of children whose recovery was supposed to have been due to their influence. It was raining and the shelter was full of children playing in the company of an old crone with a baby on her back. Further on in the village I came across a new public bath. The price of admission was one sen, children half price.

A small port was pointed out to me as being open to foreign trade. Everybody is not aware that in Japan there is a restriction upon foreign shipping except at sixty specified places. [193] The reason given for the restriction is the unprofitableness of custom houses at small places. One day, perhaps, the world will wake up to the inconvenience and financial burden imposed by the custom-house system of raising revenue.

We stayed the night at a little place at the eastern extremity of the Shimane promontory where there is a shrine and no cultivation of any sort is allowed "for fear of defilement." Waste products are taken away by boat. I marked a contrast between theoretical and practical holiness. Our inn overlooked a special landing-place Page 275 where, because a "sacred boat" from the shrine is launched there, a notice had been put up forbidding the throwing of rubbish into the sea. A few minutes after the board had been pointed out to me I saw an old man cast a considerable mass of rubbish into the water not six feet away from it. When we visited the shrine three pilgrims were at their devotions. The next morning when our steamer left and the chief priest of the shrine was bidding us adieu my attention was attracted by loud conversation in the second storey of an inn, the shoji of which were open. Our pilgrims, two of whom were bald, had spent the night at an inn of bad character and were now in the company of prostitutes in the sight of all men. One pilgrim had a girl on his knee, another was himself on a girl's knee and a third had his arm round a girl's neck. In this "sacred" place of 2,000 inhabitants there were forty "double license" girls, five being natives. A few years ago all the girls were natives. A "double license" girl means one who is licensed both as a geisha and a prostitute. The plan of issuing "double licenses" is adopted at Kyoto and elsewhere. As to the pilgrims to whom I have referred, someone quoted to me the saying, "It is only half a pilgrimage going to the shrine without seeing the girls."

Returning to the custom of launching a sacred boat it is not without significance that many Japanese deities have some connection with the sea. Even in the case of the deities of shrines a long way from the sea the ceremony of "going down to the sea" is sometimes observed. Sand and sea water are sent for in order to be mixed with the water used to cleanse the car in which the figure of the deity is drawn through the streets.

The social and financial position of tenants was illustrated by an incident at an inn. As the maid came from the country I asked her if her father were a tenant or an owner. My companion interrupted to tell me that the question was not judiciously framed because the girl would "think it a disgrace to own that her father was a tenant." The name of a tenant used long ago to be "water drinker." This waiting-maid was a good-looking and rather clever girl. I was dismayed when my friend told me that she had Page 258 said to him quite simply that she had thoughts of becoming a joro. She thought it would be a "more interesting life."

When we reached Tottori prefecture we found ourselves in a country which grows more cotton than any other. Japanese cotton (grown on about 400 chō) is unsuitable for manufacture into thread, but because of its elasticity is considered to be valuable for the padding of winter clothing and for futon and zabuton. Their softness is maintained by daily sunning.

At a county office I noted that the persons who were receiving relief were classified as follows: Illness, 26; cripples, 17; old age, 16; schoolboys, 12; infancy, 1.

In the course of our journey a Shinto priest was pointed out to me as observing the priestly taboo by refusing tea and cake. I noticed, however, that he smoked. I was told that when he was in Tokyo he purified himself in the sea even in midwinter. I did not like his appearance. Nor for the matter of that was I impressed by the countenances of some Buddhist priests I encountered in the train from time to time. "Thinking always of money," someone said. But every now and again I saw fine priestly faces.

I have noted down very little in regard to the crops and the countryside in Tottori. Things seemed very much the same as I had seen in Shimane. At an agricultural show in the city of Tottori the varieties of yam and taro were so numerous as to deceive the average Westerner into believing that he was seeing the roots of different kinds of plants. A feature of the show was a large realistic model of a rice field with two life-size figures.

In the evening I talked with two distinguished men until a late hour. "We are not a metaphysical people," one of them said. "Nor were our forefathers as religious as some students may suppose. Those who went before us gave to the Buddhist shrine and even worshipped there, but their daily life and their religion had no close connection. We did not define religion closely. Religion has phases according to the degree of public instruction. Our religion has had more to do with propitiation and good fortune than with morality. If you had come here a century ago you would have been unable to find even then religion Page 259 after another pattern. If it be said that a man must be religious in order to be good the person who says so does not look about him. I am not afraid to say that our people are good as a result of long training in good behaviour. Their good character is due to the same causes as the freedom from rowdiness which may be marked in our crowds."

"What is wanted in the villages," said the other personage, "is one good personality in each." I said that the young men's association seemed to me to be often a dull thing, chiefly indeed a mechanism by means of which serious persons in a village got the young men to work overtime. "Yes," was the response, "the old men make the young fellows work."

The first speaker said that there had been three watchwords for the rural districts. "There was Industrialisation and Increase of Production. There was Public Spirit and Public Welfare. There was The Shinto Shrine the Centre of the Village. We have a certain conception of a model village, but perhaps some hypocrisy may mingle with it. They say that the village with well-kept Buddhist and Shinto shrines is generally a good village."

"In other words," I ventured, "the village where there is some non-material feeling."

The rejoinder was: "Western religion is too high, and, I fear, inapplicable to our life. It may be that we are too easily contented. But there are nearly 60 millions of us. I do not know that we feel a need or have a vacant place for religion. There is certainly not much hope for an increase of the influence of Buddhism."

As we went along in the train I was told that on a sixth of the rice area in Tottori there had been a loss of 70 per cent. by wind. When a man's harvest loss exceeds this percentage he is not liable for rates and taxes. A passenger told me about "nursery pasture." This is a patch of grass in the hills to which a farmer sends his ox to be pastured in common with the oxen of other farmers under the care of a single herdsman. It is from cattle keeping on this modest scale that the present beef requirements of the country are largely met. [194]

Page 260 Although the opinions expressed to me by Governors of prefectures have been frequently recorded in these pages, I have not felt at liberty to identify more than one of the Excellencies who were good enough to express their views to me. A friend who knew many Governors offered me the following criticism, which I thought just: "They are too practical and too much absorbed in administration to be able to think. Often they read very little after leaving the university. They have seldom anything to tell you about other than ordinary things, and they seldom show their hearts. You cannot learn much from Governors who have nothing original to say or are fearful or live in their frock coats or do not mean to show half their minds or are practising the old official trick of talking round and round and always evading the point. One fault of Governors is that they are being continually transferred from prefecture to prefecture. You have no doubt yourself noticed how often Governors were new to their prefectures. But with all the faults that our Governors have, there are not a few able, good and kind men among them and they are not recruited from Parliament but must be members of the Civil Service. One of the most common words in our political life is genshitsu, 'responsibility for one's own words.' If Governors fear to assume the responsibility of their own views they are only of a part with a great deal of the official world."

We turned away from the northern sea coast and struck south in order to cross Japan to the Inland Sea en route for Kobe and Tokyo.

As we came through Hyogo prefecture my companion pointed to hill after hill which had been afforested since his youth. One of the things which interested me was the number and the tameness of the kites which were catching frogs in the paddies.

Before I left Hyogo I had the advantage of a chat with one who for many years past had thought about the rural situation in Japan generally. He spoke of "the late Professor King's idealising of the Japanese farmer's condition." He went on: "While King laid stress on the ability to be self-supporting on a small area he ignored Page 261 the extent to which many rural people are underfed. The change in the Meiji era has been a gradual transference from ownership to tenancy. Many so-called representative farmers have been able to add field to field until they have secured a substantial property and have ceased to be farmers. An extension of tenancy is to be deplored, not only because it takes away from the farmer a feeling of independence and of incentive, but because it creates a parasitic class which in Japan is perhaps even more parasitic than in the West. A landowner in the West almost invariably realises that he has certain duties. In Japan a landowner's duties to his neighbourhood and to the State are often imperfectly understood.

"On the other hand the position of the farmer has been very much improved socially. A great deal of pity bestowed by the casual foreign visitor is wasted. The farmer is accustomed to extremes of heat and cold and to a bare living and poor shelter. And after all there is a great deal of happiness in the villages. It is hardly possible to take a day's kuruma ride without coming on a festival somewhere, and drunkenness has undoubtedly diminished."

I spoke with an old resident about the agricultural advance in the prefecture. "In fifteen years," he said, "our agricultural production has doubled. As to the non-material condition of the people, generally speaking the villagers are very shallow in their religion. Not so long ago officials used to laugh at religion, but I don't know that some of them are not now changing their point of view. Some of us have thought that, just as we made a Japanese Buddhism, we might make a Japanese Christianity which would not conflict with our ideas."


[192] This is, I am officially informed, the highest rank ever bestowed on a foreigner; but then Hearn was naturalised. In 1921 an appreciation of "Koizumi Yakumo" was included by the Department of Education in a middle-school textbook. Curiously enough, the fact that Hearn married a Japanese is overlooked. Owing to the fact that Hearn bought land in Tokyo which has appreciated in value his family is in comfortable circumstances.

[193] Coastwise traffic is also forbidden to foreign vessels, as is traffic between France and Algeria to other than French vessels.

[194] See Appendix LIII.



Page 262





The condition of the lower orders is the true mark.—Johnson

The Buddhist temple in which I lived for about two months stands on high ground in a village lying about 2,500 ft. above sea-level in the prefecture of Nagano and does not seem to have been visited by foreigners. It is reached by a road which is little better than a track. No kuruma are to be found in the district, but there are a few light two-wheeled lorries. Practically all the traffic is on horseback or on foot. There is a view of the Japanese Alps and of Fuji.

Running through the village [195] is a river. Most of the summer it may be crossed by stepping stones, but the width of the rocky bed gives some notion of the volume of water which pours down after rains and on the melting of the snow. Two or three miles up from the village a considerable amount of water is drawn off into two channels which have been dug, one on either side of the river, at a gentler slope than that at which the stream flows. The rapid fall of the river is indicated by the fact that these channels reach the village more than 100 ft. above the level at which the river itself enters it. The channels, cut as they have been through sharply sloping banks packed with boulders and Page 263 big stones, and strengthened throughout by banking, in order to cope as far as possible with the torrents which rage down the hillside in winter, represent a vast amount of communal labour. By the side of each channel the excavated earth and stones have been used to make a path for pack horses. The water which comes down these channels serves not only for the ordinary uses of the village but for irrigating the rice fields and for driving the many water wheels, the plashing and groaning of which are heard night and day.

[Illustration: ]


The whole area of the oaza is officially recorded as 800 chō, but the real area may be double, or even more than that. About 40 per cent. is cultivated either as paddy or as dry land. The remaining 60 per cent., from which 18 chō may be deducted for house land, is under grass and wood. Half of this grass and woodland belongs to the oaza and half to private persons. The grass is mostly couch grass and weeds. In places there is a certain amount of clover and vetch. Of the 200 families, numbering about 1,700 people, less than a dozen are tenants. Of the others, Page 264 a third cultivate their own land and hire some more. The remaining two-thirds cultivate their own land and hire none. The outstanding crop beyond rice is mulberry. A considerable amount of millet and buckwheat is also grown.

The village is obviously well off. The signs are: successful sericulture, the large quantity of rice eaten, the number of well-looking horses (the millet seems to be grown largely for them, but they also receive beans and wheat boiled), the fact that no attempt is made to collect the considerable amount of horse manure on the roads, the cared-for appearance of the temple and shrines, the almost complete absence of tea-houses, the ease with which new land may be obtained and the contented look of the people.

One does not expect to find in a remote and wholly Buddhist village many other animals than horses, and in this community the additional live stock consists of ten goats (kept for giving milk for invalids), two pigs and a number of poultry. A working horse over four years was worth 150 yen. The value of land [196] is to be considered in relation to local standards of value. It is doubtful if the priest, who seemed to be comfortably off, is in receipt of more than 250 yen a year. The midwife, who belongs to the oldest family and has been trained in Tokyo, gets from 2 to 2½ yen per case. As new land is always available on the hillsides there is very little emigration to the towns, but twenty girls are working in the factories in the big silk-reeling centre twelve miles off. The hillside land which is owned by the village is not sold but rented to those who want it. To make new paddies is primarily a question of having enough capital with which to buy the artificial manure required for the crops.

I was given to understand that no one in the village was poor enough to need public help, but that the school fees of twelve children were paid by the community. This is a system peculiar to Nagano, which is a progressive prefecture vying with other prefectures to increase the percentage of school attendance. One of the signs of the well-off character of the village which appears when one is able to investigate a little is that the Page 265 place is a favourite haunt of beggars, who, I am told—every calling is organised—have made it over to the less fortunate members of their fraternity. The village has enough money to spend to make it worth while for tradesmen from a distance to open temporary shops every Bon season and at the New Year festival. A man in an average position may lay out 200 yen on his daughter's wedding. A farmer who knew his fellow-villagers' position pretty closely said he thought that the position of tenant farmers was "rather well." In the whole village there might be seventy or eighty householders who had some debt, but it was justifiable. In an ordinary year about 150 farmers would have something to lay by after their twelve months' work. Perhaps fifty farmers, if the price of rice or of cocoons were low, might be unable to save; but ordinarily they would have something in their pockets. About half the farmers are engaged in sericulture—I noticed cocoons offered at the shrine. The other half sell their mulberry leaf crop to their neighbours. The village, which is perhaps 400 years old, is increasing in population by about forty every year. The family which is said to have founded the village is still largely represented in it.

[Illustration: ]


The village has as many as six fire engines, which can be moved about either on wheels or on runners according to the weather, and as many look-out ladders and fire-alarm bells. The young men's association has no fewer than half a dozen buildings, the property of the village. Five of them are little more than sheds and seem to be used on wet days as nurseries and playrooms Page 266 for children. The sixth is the village theatre, playing at which appears to have been abandoned for some years. Travelling players give their shows where they will. The theatre stands in a space encircled by large trees opposite the chief shrine of the village. There is also here a smaller shrine (fox god) and some tombstones.

[Illustration: ]


Before the chief shrine are two large leaden lanterns. At the base of these a considerable strip of metal has been torn away. This unusual destruction by village lads caused me to make enquiry. I found that the boys had merely enlarged a hole made by adults. The destruction had been wrought in order to remove the inscription on the lanterns. It was said that the local donor had meanly omitted to make the customary gift to the shrine to cover the small expense of lighting the lanterns on the occasion of festivals. It was the feeling of the villagers, therefore, that he should not be allowed to blazon his name in connection with a shabby gift.

[Illustration: ]


There is a ceremony about half a dozen times a year at the chief shrine, which is about a century old. The Shinto priest, who seemed to be a genuine antiquary, was of opinion that the structure inside the shrine might have been Page 267 built two hundred years ago. In addition to this chief shrine and the small shrine near it, there are two other shrines in the village, one in the temple yard (god of happiness) and the other (horse god) in an open space of its own.

[Illustration: ]


But perhaps the most remarkable thing about the non-material life of this village is the fact that it contains no fewer than 400 carved stones of a more or less religious character. A few are Buddhist; some are memorials to priests or teachers; several bear that representation of a man and a woman facing one another (p. 265) which is one of the oldest mystic emblems; the majority are devoted apparently to the horse god. Every man who loses a horse erects a stone. There are two persons in the village who can carve these stones at a cost of about 2 yen. Some stones which are painted red are dedicated to the fire god. The 400 stones of which I am speaking do not include grave stones. These are seen everywhere, many of them just by the wayside. Nearly every family buries in its own ground. Some burial places with stones of many forms dating back for a long period of years are extremely impressive. At the Bon season the grass on every burying ground is carefully cut.

All the shop-keepers seem to own their own houses and all but three have some land. There are three saké shops, two of which sell other things than saké, two general shops, two cake and sweet shops, two tobacco shops, a lantern shop and a barber. There are eight carpenters, four stonecutters, five plasterers and wall builders, five woodcutters, two roof makers, two horse shoers, and in the winter a blacksmith. (The cost of putting on four shoes is 60 sen.) All these artisans own their own houses and all have land.

Page 268 As to the health of the village there are two doctors who come every other day. One was qualified at Chiba and the other at Sendai. They make no charge for advice and the price of medicine is only 10 sen unless the materials are expensive. I suppose they may receive presents. They also probably have a piece of land. There is no veterinary surgeon, but one is to be found in the village which composes the other half of the commune.

A physician who had been born in the village and was staying for a few days with the Buddhist priest who was my host, thought that 90 per cent. of the villagers ate no meat whatever and that only 50 or 60 per cent. ate fish, and then only ceremonially, that is at particular times in the year when it is the custom in Japan to eat fish. The villagers who did eat meat or fish did not take it oftener than twice or thrice a month. The canned meat and canned fish in the shops—Japanese brands—were used almost entirely for guests. The doctor expressed the opinion of most Japanese that "people who do not eat meat are better tempered and can endure more." I have heard Japanese say that "foreigners are short-tempered because they eat so much meat."

We spoke of the considerable consumption of pickles, highly salted or fermented. For example, in the ordinary 25-sen bento (lunch) box there are three or four different kinds of pickles. The doctor said that pickles were not only a means of taking salt and so appetisers to help the rice down, but digestives; fermented pickles supplied diastase which enabled the stomach to deal promptly with the large quantities of rice swallowed.

I asked for the doctor's opinion as to the prevalence of tumours, displacements and cancer among women who labour in the fields and have to bring up children and do all the housework of a peasant's dwelling. The doctor replied that he was disposed to think that cases of the ailments I spoke of were not numerous. Cancer was certainly rare. He knew that in Japan rickets, goitre and gout were all less common than in the West. He expressed the opinion that childbirth was easier than in the West. It was a delight to see the fine carriage of the women and girls Page 269 astride on the high saddles of the horses. [197] Both sexes in the district wear over their kimonos blue cotton trousers, something like a plumber's overall only tighter in the legs. The women are certainly strong. One day I saw a woman carrying uphill on her back two wooden doors about 6 ft. by 5 ft. 6 ins. An old woman I met on the road volunteered her view that women were "stronger" than men. She was very much concerned to know how foreigners could live without eating rice. She said—and this is characteristically Japanese—that she envied me being able to travel all over the world.

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The Buddhist temple is built wholly of wood and the roof is thatched. Whenever there was an earthquake the timbers seemed to crackle rather than creak. The temple is relatively new and seems to have been built with materials given by the villagers and by means of a gift of 1,000 yen. The workmanship was local and a good deal of it was faulty. This may have been due to lack of experience, but it is more likely that the cause was limited funds. The plan and proportions of the building are excellent and the carving is first-rate. The right of "presentation to the living" is in the hands of the village. The priest and his family live in a large house on one side of the temple. On the other side is a small Shinto shrine to which the priest seems to give such attention as is necessary. The temple is Shingon. There is a sermon once a Page 270 year only, or "when some famous man comes." The actual temple in which the priest, who showed me a fine collection of robes, conducts his services is between forty and fifty mats in area. Behind it is the room in which the ihai or tablets of the dead are arranged. This part of the building is covered on the outside with plaster in the manner of a kura (godown) so as to be fire-proof. On either side of the actual temple are rooms very much as in a spacious private house. There are two of eighteen and fifteen mats, two of twelve and ten mats and two small ones. There is also a wide covered engawa (verandah) in front and at the sides. A small kitchen and what the auctioneers call the usual offices complete the building.

Right round the temple there is a nice garden which keeps the priest's man, a picturesque, sweet-tempered, guileless old fellow, occupied much of his time. The priest conducted a service twice a day, at 5:30 in the morning and at 7:30 in the evening. When he fell ill and had to be carried in a litter to the nearest town for an operation, we missed his beautiful chanting and expert sounding of the deep-toned gong of the sanctuary. The great bell in the court-yard was struck by the priest's boy at sundown. The priest kept the old rule against meat. He and his wife would not eat even cake or biscuits because they feared that there might be milk and butter in them. The couple were very kind to us and we enjoyed a delightfully quiet life in the lofty sunny temple rooms. I should judge that Otera San (Mr. Temple) was respected in the village. His wife was a bustling woman of such sweetness and simplicity of nature as can only be found in a far valley.

I have mentioned that the total incomings of the priest are probably about 250 yen. He receives no salary but has his house free. He must "discuss about anything wanted in the temple." I do not suppose he had to ask anybody whether he might lodge us or not. He receives considerable gifts of rice, perhaps to the value of 120 yen, at any rate enough for the whole year. He has also the rent of the "glebe," which consists of 12 tan of paddy, 2 tan of dry field and 10 tan of woodland. Then there are the gifts which are made to him at funerals and for the services he Page 271 conducts at the villagers' houses on the days of the dead. One day during the Bon season every household sent a little girl or boy with a present to the priest. In return these small visitors were given sweets. During the Bon season some very old men of the village came and worshipped at the Shinto shrine and were entertained with saké by the priest on the engawa of his temple. The amount in the collecting box in front of the little Shinto shrine in the temple yard, largely in rin, would not be more than 10 or 15 sen in the year. Most of the contributions are in the form of pinches of rice. The priest may give 10 yen a year to his man who works about the temple and his house and accompanies him to funerals and to the memorial services at the villagers' dwellings; but this servitor, like his master, no doubt receives presents.

The Shinto priest is probably not so well off as the Buddhist priest. The village makes a small payment to him twice a year. At New Year 3 yen in all may be flung in the collecting box at the shrine, but the priest has presents made to him when he goes to see ailing folk and when he officiates at the building of a new house. Most people when they are ill seem to send for the Shinto priest. But he explained to me that he does not expect a sick man to "worship only." He is accustomed to say to the people, "Doctor first, god second," from which I was to conclude, one who heard told me, that the priest was "rather a civilised man." The Shinto priest had succeeded a relative in his position. The village had found its Buddhist priest in a neighbouring district.

The Buddhist priest told me that every year 150 or 160 men and women made a pilgrimage to a famous shrine some few miles off. The custom was for every house to be represented in the pilgrimage. Half a dozen people in the year might go on personal pilgrimages and fifty or so might visit a little shrine on a neighbouring mountain.


[195] The village consists of about 270 houses. It is joined administratively to another village, about two miles off, in order to form a mura (commune). The village I am about to describe is an oaza (large hamlet), which is made up in its turn of two aza (small hamlets). These aza are themselves divided into six kumi (companies), which are again sub-divided, in the case of the largest, into four.

[196] See Appendix LIV.

[197] The horses wear basket-work muzzles to prevent them nibbling the crops. By way of compensation for these encumbrances they have head tassels and belly cloths to keep off the flies.



Page 272




As moderns we have no direct affinity; as individuals we have a capacity for personal sympathy.—Matthew Arnold

I had the good fortune to be in the village during the Bon season. The idea is that the spirits which are visiting their old homes remain between the 11th and 14th of August. The 11th is called mukae bon and the 14th okuri bon. (Mukae means going to meet; okuri to see off.) On the 11th the villagers burned a piece of flax plant in front of their houses. That night the priest said a special prayer in the temple and used the cymbals in addition to the ordinary gong and drum. The prayer seemed peculiarly sad. Before the shrines in their houses the villagers placed offerings. One was a horse made out of a cucumber, the legs being bits of flax twig and the tail and mane the hair-like substance from maize cobs. There were also offerings of real and artificial flowers and of grapes. In one house I visited I saw geta, waraji, kimonos, pumpkins, caramels and pencils. Strings of buck-wheat macaroni were laid over twigs of flax set in a vase. The ihai (name-plates of the dead) seemed to be displayed more prominently than usual. (They are kept in a kind of small oratory called ihaido, and after a time several names are collected on a single plate.) Mochi (rice-flour dumpling) is eaten at this time. On the 12th and 14th the priest called at each house for two or three minutes.

I asked if the villagers really believed that their dead returned at the Bon season. The answer was, "Only the old men and young children believe that the dead actually come, but the young men and young women, when they see Page 273 the burning of the flax-plant and the other things that are done, think of the dead; they remember them solemnly at this time." And I think it was so. The stranger to a Japanese house, in which there is not only a Shinto shelf but a Buddhist shrine—where the name plates of the dead for several generations are treasured—cannot but feel that, when all allowances are made for the dulling influences of use and wont, the plan is a means of taking the minds of the household beyond the daily round. The fact that there is a certain familiarity with the things of the shrine and of the Shinto shelf, just as there is a certain freedom at the public shrines and in the temple, does not destroy the impression. When a man has taken me to his little graveyard I have been struck by the lack of that lugubriousness which Western people commonly associate with what is sacred. The Japanese conception of reverence is somewhat different from our own. As to sorrow, the idea is, as is well known, that it is the height of bad manners to trouble strangers with a display of what in many cases is largely a selfish grief. A manservant smiled when he told me of his only son's death. On my offering sympathy the tears ran down his face.

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When the Bon season ended on the fourteenth all the flowers and decorations of the domestic shrines were taken early in the morning to the bridge over the diminished river and flung down. The idea is perhaps that they are carried away to the sea. (As a matter of fact there was so little water that almost everything flung in from the bridge remained in sight for weeks until there was a storm.) When the flowers and decorations had been cast from the Page 274 bridge the people went off to worship at the graves. Many coloured streamers of paper, written on by the priest, were flying there.

The Bon dances took place five nights running in the open space between the Shinto shrine and the old barn theatre. Nothing could have been duller. The line from Ruddigore came to mind, "This is one of our blameless dances." The first night the performers were evidently shy and the girls would hardly come forward. Things warmed up a little more each night and on the last night of all there was a certain animation; but even then the movement, the song and the whole scheme of the dance seemed to be lacking in vigour. What happened was that a number of lads gradually formed themselves into a ring, which got larger or smaller as the girls joined it or waited outside. The girls bunched together all the time. None of the dancers ever took hands. The so-called dancing consisted of a raising of both arms—the girls had fans in their hands—and a simple attitudinising. The lads all clapped their hands together in time, but in a half-hearted kind of way; the girls struck the palms of their left hands with their fans. The boys were in clean working dress. Some had towels wound round their heads, some wore caps and others hats. The girls were got up in all their best clothes with fine obi and white aprons. The music was dirge-like. It was not at all what Western people understand to be singing. The performers emitted notes in a kind of falsetto, and these five or six notes were repeated over and over and over again. The only word I can think of which approximately describes what I heard, but it seems harsh, is the Northern word, yowling. First the lads yowled and then the girls responded with a slightly more musical repetition of the same sounds. For all the notice the boys appeared to take of the girls they might not have been present. The lads and lasses were no doubt fully conscious, however, of each other's presence. The dancing took place on the nights of the full moon. But it was cloudy, and, owing to the big surrounding trees, the performance was often dimly lit.

To me the dancing was depressing, but that is not to say Page 275 that the dancers found it so. Dancing began at eight o'clock and went on till midnight. "They would not be fit for their work next day if they danced later," a sober-minded adult explained. This was only one suggestion among many that the dance has been devitalised under the respectabilising influence of the policeman and village elders who had forgotten their youth. To the onlooker it did not seem to matter very much whether the dance, as it is now, continues or not. Occasionally one had an impression that it had once been a folk dance of vigour and significance. But the present-day performance might have been conceived and presented by a P.S.A. All this is true when the dance is contrasted with an English West-country dance or a dance in Scotland at Hallowe'en. But it must be remembered that the Bon dance during the first nights is in the nature of a lament for the dead. There is something haunting in the strange little refrain, though it is difficult to hum or whistle it. Perhaps the whole festival is too intimately racial to be fully understood by a stranger. By the end of the festival, on the night of merrymaking in honour of the village guardian spirit, things were livelier. Some of the lads had evidently had saké and even the girls had lost their demureness.

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After the Buddhist Bon season was over it was the turn of Shinto, and the village children were paraded before the shrine. A number of Shinto priests in the neighbourhood took a leading part in making the customary offerings and the local priest read a longish address to the guardian spirit Page 276 of the village. Respectful correctness rather than devoutness is the phrase which one would ordinarily be disposed to apply to the ceremonies at a Shinto shrine, but the local priest was reverential. The ceremonies of the day evidently meant a great deal to him. The children paid a well-drilled attention. They also sang the national anthem and a special song for the day under the leadership of the school teacher, who played on a portable harmonium which sounded as portable harmoniums usually sound. The whole proceedings wore a semi-official look.

Happily there was nothing semi-official about the wrestling to which we were invited later in the day. A special little platform had been put up for us. The ring was made on rice chaff and earth. The wrestlers squatted in two parties at opposite sides of the ring. They did not wear the straw girdles of the professionals. Each man had a wisp of cotton cloth tied round his waist and between his legs. One of the best things about the wrestling was the formal introduction of the competitors. A weazened little man with a tucked-up cotton kimono and bare legs, but with the address and dignity of a "Nō" player, proclaimed the names and styles—it seems that the wrestlers have a fancy to be known by the names of mountains and rivers—in a fashion which recalled the tournament. There was also another personage, with a Dan Leno-like face and an extraordinary gift of contorting his legs, who played the buffoon, and gyrated round the dignified M.C., who remained unmoved while the audience laughed. It was evidently the right thing for the prizes—they were awarded at the end of each bout—to be presented as comically as possible; and some of the Shakespearean humours which appealed so powerfully to the groundlings at the Globe were enacted as if neither space nor time intervened between us and the Elizabethans.

The bouts were not so fast as professional wrestlers are accustomed to, but they were none the less exciting. The result was invariably in some doubt and often entirely unexpected. The usual rule was that he who threw his man twice was the winner. In some events, immediately a wrestler had been thrown, a succession of other contestants rushed at the victor, one after the other, without allowing Page 277 him time even to straighten his back. Some of the competitors were poorly developed but the lankiest and skinniest were often excellent wrestlers. At an interval in the wrestling the committee flung hard peaches to wrestlers and spectators. I wanted to make some little acknowledgment of the kindness of the young men's association in providing us with our little platform, and it was suggested that autographed fans at about a penny three-farthings apiece for about forty wrestlers would be acceptable. This gift was announced on a long streamer. The funny man of the ring also made a speech of welcome. I may add that the young men's association had fitted up on the way to the scene of the wrestling a number of special lanterns which bore efforts in English by a student home for the holidays.

I was told that the people of the village were "honest, independent and earnest," and I am disposed to think that this may be true of most of them. As to honesty, we had the satisfaction of living without any thought of dorobo (robbers). It is a great comfort to be able at night to leave open most of the shoji and not to have to pull out the amado (wooden shutters) from their case. The nature of our possessions was well known not only in the village but throughout the district, for there was seldom a day on which a knot of grown-ups or children did not come to peer into our rooms. The inspection was accompanied by many polite bows and friendly smiles. On a festival day the crowd occasionally reached about fifty.

There were formerly several teahouses in the village, but under the influence of the young men's association all houses of entertainment but two had been closed. These two had become "inns." In one of these the girl attendant was the proprietor's daughter; in the other there was a solitary waitress. One of the abolished teahouses had taken itself two miles away, where possibly it still had visitors. There seemed to be two public baths in the village, both belonging to private persons. The charge was 1 sen for adults and 5 rin for children. At one of the baths I noticed separate doors for men and women; in the bath itself the division between the sexes was about two feet high.

Page 278 The smallest subdivision of the village is called kumi or company. Each of these has a kind of manager who is elected on a limited suffrage. The managers of the kumi, it was explained, are "like diplomatists if something is wanted against another village." The kumi also seems to have some corporate life. There is once a month a semi-social, semi-religious meeting at each member's house in turn. The persons who attend lay before the house shrine 3 or 5 sen each or a small quantity of rice for the feast. The master of the house provides the sauce or pickles. I heard also of a kind of called mujin, a word which has also the meaning of "inexhaustible." By such agencies as these money is collected for people who are poor or for men who want help in their business or who need to go on a journey.

We have seen that the village is by every token well off. What are its troubles? Undoubtedly the people work hard. I imagine, however, that there are very many districts where the people work much harder. The foreigner is too apt to confuse working hard with working continuously. Whether outdoors or indoors, whether at a handicraft or at business, an Oriental gives the impression of having no notion of getting his work done and being finished with it. The working day lasts all day and part of the night. Whether much more is done in the time than in the shorter Western day may be doubted. During the brief silk-worm season many of the women of the village in which I stayed are afoot for a long day and for part of the night, but the winter brings relief from the strain of all sorts of work. Owing to the snow it is practically impossible to do any work out of doors in January, February and March. The snow may stop work even in December. Here, then, is a natural holiday. Whether with their men indoors the women have much of a holiday is uncertain. But indoors should not be taken too exactly. There is some hunting in the winter. Deer come within two miles and hares are easily got.

Well-off though the village is, there is a strong desire to increase incomes. The people are working harder than they have done in the past because the cost of living has risen. Page 279 An attempt is to be made to increase secondary employments. Corporately, the village is said to possess 10,000 yen in cash in addition to its land. It is said that this money is lent out to some of the more influential people. What the security is and how safe the monetary resources of a village loaned out in this way may be I do not know, but there is obviously some risk and I gathered that some anxiety existed.

The people of the village, like a large proportion of the population of the prefecture, are distinctly progressive. Nagano is full of what someone called "a new rural type" of men who read and delight in going to lectures. Lectures are a great institution in Nagano. For these lectures country people tramp into a county town in their waraji carrying their bento. To these rustics a lecture is a lecture. A friend of mine who is given to lecturing spoke on one occasion for seven hours. It is true that he divided the lecture between two days and allowed himself a half hour's rest in the middle of each three and a half hours' section. He started with an audience of 500. On the first day at the end of the second part of the lecture it was noticed that the audience had decreased by about 70. On the second day about 100 people in all wearied in well-doing. But it was the townsfolk, not the country people, who left.

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I found upon enquiry that in the village in which I had been living there had been one arrest only during the Page 280 previous year. The charge was one of theft. Half a dozen other people had got into trouble but their arrests had been "postponed." Two of these six delinquents had "caused fire accidentally," two had been guilty of petty theft, and the remaining two had sold things of small value which did not belong to them. During the twelve months there had been no charges of immorality and no gambling. Perhaps, however, there may have been police admonitions. It seemed to have been a long time since there had been a case of what we should call illegitimacy or of a child being born in the first months of a young couple's marriage. Someone mentioned, however, that the girls who went to the silk factories were, as a consequence of their life there, "debased morally and physically."

A notable thing in the village was four fires, two the month before we arrived and two while we were there. They were suspected to have been the work of a person of weak intellect. (As in our own villages half a century ago, there is in every community at least one "natural.") On the night of the first fire we were awakened about 3 a.m. by shouting, by the clanging of the fire bell and by the booming of the great bell in the temple yard. The fire was about four houses away. It was a still night and the flames and sparks went straight up. As the possibility of the wind shifting and the fire spreading could not be entirely excluded we quickly got our more important possessions on the engawa—at least a young maidservant did so. The continual experience which the Japanese have of fires makes them self-possessed on these occasions, and this girl had futon, bags, etc., neatly tied in big furoshiki (wrapping cloths) in the shortest possible time. It was only when she was satisfied that our belongings were in readiness for easy removal that she went to look after her own. The matter-of-fact, fore-sighted, neat way in which she got to work was admirable. With great kindness one of the elders of the village came hurriedly to the temple, evidently thinking we should feel alarmed, and cried out, "Yoroshii, Yoroshii" ("All right").

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As I stood before the blaze what struck me most was the orderliness and quiet of the crowd and the way in Page 281 which whatever help was needed was at once forthcoming without fuss. The fire brigades were working in an orderly way and everything was so well managed that the scene seemed almost as if it were being rehearsed for a cinema. One difference between what I saw and what would be seen at home at a fire was that the scene was well lighted from the front, for the members of the fire brigades carried huge lanterns on high poles. From the mass of old wet reed in the roadway I judged that the first act of the firemen had been to use their long hooks to denude the roof of the burning house of its thatch, which in the lightest wind is so dangerous to surrounding dwellings. Nobody in the village is insured, but the neighbours seem to meet about a third of the loss caused by a fire. It is an illustration of local values that a larger subscription than 2 yen would not be accepted from me. In connection with this fire someone mentioned to me that incendiarism is specially prevalent Page 282 in some prefectures, while in others the use of the knife is the usual means of wiping out scores. The phrase used by a person who threatens arson is, "I will make the red worm creep into your roof."

During the winter there is too much drinking—"generally by poor men"—but there is said to be less of this than formerly. Some people stop their newspaper in the summer and resume taking it during the greater leisure of the winter. It has been noted, among other small matters, that the local vocabulary has expanded during the past fifteen years. During our stay the young midwife, who was going to America to join her husband, was eager to give her service in the kitchen for the chance of improving her English. We also gave help in the evenings thrice a week to one of the school teachers who had managed to obtain a fair reading knowledge of English. The earnestness with which these two people studied was touching. While I was in the village the young men's association began the issue of a magazine. Lithographic ink was brought to me so that I might contribute in autograph as well as in translation. The association, which receives 10 yen a year from the village, cultivates several plots of paddy and dry land. The bigger schoolboys drilled with imitation rifles, imitation bayonets and imitation cartridges. I felt that I should know more about the villagers if I could learn, like Synge, their topics of conversation when no stranger was present. One day while strolling with a friend I asked him what was being said by two girls who were working among the mulberries and were hidden from us by a hedge (hedges only occur round mulberry plots). He told me that one was enhancing to her companion the tremendous dignity of the Crown Prince by exaggerating grotesquely the size of the house he lived in, which reminded me of the servant who told her friend that "Queen Victoria was so rich that she had a piano in her kitchen." Generally the conversational topics of the villagers seemed to be people and prices. Undoubtedly, I was told, the subjects which were most popular, "because they provoked hilarity," were family discords and sexual questions. One man with whom I spoke about the morality of the village said cautiously, "They say there are some moneylenders here."



Page 283





I am not of those who look for perfection amongst the rural population.—Borrow

The torrents that foam down the slopes of Fuji are a cheap source of electricity, and, though the guide book may not stress the fact, it is possible that the first glimpse of the unutterable splendours of the sacred mountain may be gained in the neighbourhood of a cotton, paper or silk factory. The farmers welcomed the factories when they found that factory contributions to local rates eased the burden of the agricultural population. The farmers also realised that to the factories were due electric light, the telephone, better roads and more railway stations. The farmers are undoubtedly better off. They are so well off indeed that the district can afford an agricultural expert of its own, children may be seen wearing shoes instead of geta, and the agriculturists themselves occasionally sport coats cut after a supposedly Western fashion. But the people, it was insisted, have become a little "sly," and girls return from the factories less desirable members of the community.

Mention of these matters led an agricultural authority whom I met during my trip in Shidzuoka to deliver himself on the general question of the condition of the farmer in Japan. He expressed the opinion that 10 per cent. of the farmers were in a "wretched condition." Big holdings—if any holdings in Japan can be called big—were getting bigger; it was an urgent question how to secure the position Page 284 of the owners of the small and the medium-sized classes of holding. The fact that many rural families were in debt, not for seed or manure but for food spoke for itself. The amounts might seem trivial in Western eyes, but when the average income was only 350 yen a year a debt of 80 yen was a serious matter; and 80 yen was the average debt of farming families in the prefecture of Shidzuoka. No one could say that the farmers were lazy: they were working hard according to their lights. They were working too hard, perhaps, on the limited food they got. There could be no doubt that the physical condition of the countryman was being lowered.

Again, there was the fact of the rural exodus—the phrase sounded strangely in the middle of a Japanese sentence. As to the causes, the first unquestionably was that the farmer had not enough land on which to make a living. If the farmer could have 5 acres or thereabouts he would be well off. But the average area per farmer in the prefecture in which we were travelling was a little less than 2½ acres. High taxes were another cause of the farmer's present condition. Then a year's living would be mortgaged for the expenses of a marriage ceremony. At a funeral, too, the neighbours came to eat and drink. They took charge of the kitchen and even ordered in food. (After a Japanese feast the guests are given at their departure the food that is left over.) Further, some farmers wasted their substance on the ambitions of local politics. Again, conscripts who had gone off to the army hatless and wearing straw shoes came home hatted and sometimes booted. Military service deprived farmers of labour, and their boys while away asked their parents for money. Conscription pressed more heavily on the poor because the sons of well-to-do people continued their education to the middle school, and attendance at a middle school entitled a young man to reduction of military service to one year only.[198]

The countryside was suffering from the way in which importance was increasingly attached to industry and commerce. Many M.P.s were of the agricultural class, but they were chiefly landlords, and they were often share Page 285 holders and directors of industrial companies. There was very little real Parliamentary representation of the farming class and it had not yet found literary expression. There were signs, however, that some landlords were realising that industry and agriculture were not of equal importance. But the farmers were slow to move. The traditions of the Tokugawa epoch survived, making action difficult. Finally, there was the drawback to rural development which exists in the family system. But that, as Mr. Pickwick said, comprises by itself a difficult study of no inconsiderable magnitude, and we must return to it on another occasion.

In one of my excursions I went over a large agricultural school, the boast of which was that of all the youths who had passed through it, twenty only had deserted the land. I met the present scholars marching with military tread, mattocks on shoulders, to the school paddies.

I noticed schoolgirls wearing a wooden tablet. It was a good-conduct badge. If a girl was not wearing it on reaching home her parents knew that her teacher had retained it because of some fault; if she was not wearing it at school her teacher knew that her parents had kept it back for a similar reason. The girls when they come to school have often baby brothers or sisters tied on their backs. Otherwise the girls would have to stay at home in order to look after them. I asked a schoolmaster what happened when children were kept at home. He said that when a child had been absent a week he called twice on the parents in order to remonstrate. If there was no result he reported the matter to the village authorities, who administered two warnings. Failing the return of the truant a report was made by the village authorities to the county authorities. They summoned the father to appear before them. This meant loss of time and the cost of the journey. Should the parent choose to continue defiant he was fined 5 to 10 yen for disobedience to authority and up to 30 yen for not sending his child to school.

I found that a local philanthropic association had provided the speaker's school with a supply of large oil-paper-covered umbrellas so that children who had come unprovided could go home on a rainy day without a parent, elder brother Page 286 or sister having to leave work to bring an umbrella to school.

In the playground of this school there was a low platform before which the children assembled every morning. The headmaster, standing on the platform, gravely saluted the children and the children as gravely responded. The scholars also bowed in the direction of Tokyo, in the centre of which is the Emperor's palace. An inscription hanging in the school was, "Exert yourself to kill harmful insects." In another school there was a portrait of a former teacher who had covered the walls of the school with water-colours of local scenery. I noticed in the playground of a third school a flower-covered cairn and an inscribed slab to the memory of a deceased master. Every school possesses equipment taken from the enemy during the Russo-Japanese war, usually a shell, a rifle and bayonet and an entrenching spade.

In this prefecture I heard of young men's associations' efforts to discourage "cheek binding," which is the wearing of the head towel in such a way as to disguise the face and so enable the cheek binder to do, if he be so minded, things he might not do if he were recognisable.

One day I made my headquarters in a town that had just been rebuilt after a fire. Within four hours the blaze aided by a strong wind had consumed 1,700 houses and caused the deaths of nine persons. The destruction of so many dwellings is wrought by bits of paper or thatch, or the light pieces of wood from the shoji, which are carried aflame by the wind, setting fire to several houses simultaneously.

Beside street gutters I came across little stone jizō, the cheerful-looking guardian deities of the children playing near; but they looked as incongruous in the position they occupied as did a small shrine which was standing in the shadow of a gasometer.

I heard of contracts under which girls served as nurse girls in private families. A poor farmer may enter into a contract when his girl is five for her to go into service at eight. He receives cash in anticipation of the fulfilment of the contract.

I was assured by a man competent to speak on the matter Page 287 that a certain small town was notorious for receiving boys who had been stolen as small children from their homes in the hills. Up to 30 yen might be given for a boy. There might be a dozen of such unfortunates in the place. Happily many of the children obtained by this "slave system," as my informant called it, ran away as soon as they were old enough to realise how they had been treated.

I visited a well-known rural reformer in the village which he and his father had improved under the precepts of Ninomiya. The hillside had been covered with tea, orange trees and mulberry; the community had not only got out of debt but had come to own land beyond its boundaries; gambling, drunkenness and immorality, it was averred, had "disappeared"; there were larger and better crops; and "the habit of enjoying nature" had increased. The amusements of the village were wrestling, fencing, jūjitsu, and the festivals.

I heard here a story of how a bridge which was often injured by stores was as often mysteriously repaired. On a watch being kept it was found that the good work was done by a villager who had been scrupulous to keep secret his labours for the public welfare. Another tale was of a poor man who bought an elaborate shrine and brought it to his humble dwelling. On his neighbours suggesting that a finer house were a fitter resting-place for such a shrine, the man replied: "I do not think so. My shrine is the place of my parents and ancestors, and may be fine. But the place in which the shrine stands is my place; it need not be fine."

In travelling the roads notices are often seen on official-looking boards with pent roofs. But all of these notices are not official; one I copied was the advertisement of a shrine which declared itself to be unrivalled for toothache. The horses on the roads are sometimes protected from the sun by a kind of oblong sail, which works on a swivel attached to the harness. Black velvety butterflies as big as wrens flit about. (There are twice as many butterflies and moths in Japan as at home.) Snakes, ordinarily of harmless varieties, are frequently seen, dead or alive.

Page 288 Many of the people one passes are smoking, usually the little brass pipe used both by men and women, which, like some of the earliest English pipes, does not hold more tobacco than will provide a few draws. The pipe is usually charged twice or thrice in succession. One notices an immense amount of cigarette smoking, which cannot be without ill effect. There is a law forbidding smoking below the age of twenty. It is not always enforced, but when enforced there is a confiscation of smoking materials and a fining of the parents. The voices of many middle-aged women and some young ones are raucous owing to excessive smoking of pipes or cigarettes.

I looked into a school and saw the wall inscription, "Penmanship is like pulling a cart uphill. There must be no haste and no stopping." Here, as in so many places, I saw the well-worn cover and much-thumbed pages of Self Help. I may add a fact which would be in its place in a new edition of Smiles's Character. As a simple opening to conversation I often asked if a man had been in Europe or America. His answer, if he had not travelled, was never "No." It was always "Not yet."

In these country schools most of the songs are set to Western tunes. Such airs as "Ye Banks and Braes," "Auld Lang Syne," "Annie Laurie," "Home, Sweet Home" and "The Last Rose of Summer" are utilised for the songs not only of school children but of university students. Few of the singers have any notion that the music was not written in their own land. A Japanese friend told me that all the airs I mentioned "seem tender and touching to us," and I remember a Japanese agricultural expert saying, "Reading those poems of Burns, I believe firmly that our hearts can vibrate with yours."

As I have denied myself the pleasure of dwelling on Japanese scenic beauties, I may not pause to bear witness to the faery delights of cherry blossom which I enjoyed everywhere during this journey. But I may record two cherry-blossom poems I gathered by the way. The first is, "Why do you wear such a long sword, you who have come only to see the cherry blossoms?" The second is, "Why fasten your horse to the cherry tree which is in full bloom, when the Page 289 petals would fall off if the horse reared?" A Japanese once told me that a foreigner had greatly surprised him by asking if the cherry trees bore much fruit.

Orange as well as tea culture is a feature of the agricultural life of the prefecture. As in California and South Africa, ladybirds have been reared in large numbers in order to destroy scale. I saw at the experiment station miserable orange trees encaged for producing scale for the breeding ladybirds. The insects are distributed from the station chiefly as larvae. They are sent through the post about a hundred at a time in boxes. The ladybird, which has, I believe, eight generations a year, and as an adult lives some twenty days, lays from 200 to 250 eggs, 150 of the larvae from which may survive. Alas for the released ladybirds of Shidzuoka! Scale is said to be disappearing so quickly that they are having but a hard life of it.

In the neighbouring prefecture of Kanagawa I paid a visit to a gentleman who, with his brother, had devoted himself extensively to fruit and flower growing. Their produce was sent the twenty-six hours' journey by road to Tokyo, where four shops were maintained. A considerable quantity of foreign pears had been produced on the palmette verrier system. The branches of the extensively grown native pear are everywhere tied to an overhead framework which completely covers in the land on which the trees stand. This method was adopted in order to cope with high winds and at the same time to arrest growth, for in the damp soil in which Japanese pears are rooted, the branches would be too sappy. Foreign pears are not more generally cultivated because they come to the market in competition with oranges, and the Japanese have not yet learnt to buy ripe pears. The native pear looks rather like an enormous russet apple but it is as hard as a turnip, and, though it is refreshing because of its wateriness, has little flavour. Progress is being made with peaches and apricots. Figs are common but inferior. A fine native fruit, when well grown, is the biwa or loquat. And homage must be paid to the best persimmons, which yield place only to oranges and tangerines.[199] In the north the apples are good, Page 290 but most orchards are badly in need of spraying. Experiments have been made with dates. Flowers have a weaker scent than in Europe. A rose called the "thousand ri"—a ri is two and a half miles—has only a slight perfume two and a half inches away, and then only when pulled. I met with no heather—it is to be seen in Saghalien, which has several things in common with Scotland—but found masses of sweet-scented thyme.

One of the horticulturists to whom I have referred was something of an Alpinist and was married to a Swiss lady. They had several children. I also met an American lady who had had great experience of fruit growing in California, had married a Japanese farmer there, and had come to live with him in a remote part of his native country. From such alliances as these there may come some day a woman's impressions of the life and work of women and girls on the farms and in the factories of rural Japan. Many a visitor to the country districts must have marked the dumbness of the women folk. Women were often present at the conversations I had in country places, but they seldom put in a word. I was received one day at the house of a man who is well known as a rural philanthropist—he has indeed written two or three brochures on the problems of the country districts—but when he, my friend and I sat at table his wife was on her knees facing us two rooms off. Every instructed person knows that there is a beautiful side to the self-suppression of the Japanese woman—many moving stories might be told—and that the "subservience" is more apparent than real. But there is certainly unmerited suffering. The men and women of the Far East seem to be gentler and simpler, however, than the vehement and demonstrative folk of the West, and conditions which appear to the foreign observer to be unjust and unbearable cannot be easily and accurately interpreted in Western terms. At present many women who are conscious of the situation of their sex see no means of improvement by their own efforts. But the development of the women's movement is proceeding in some directions at a surprising pace. Many young men are sincerely desirous to do their part in bringing about greater freedom. They realise what is Page 291 undoubtedly true that not a few things which urgently need changing in Japan must be changed by men and women working together.

Money has always been forthcoming, officially, semi-officially and privately, for sending to America and Europe numbers of intelligent young men and women. So disciplined and studious are most of these young people that their country has had back with interest every yen of the funds so wisely provided. We have much to learn from Japanese methods in this matter of well-considered post-graduate foreign travel.[200]


[198] See Appendix LXIII.

[199] See Appendix LV.

[200] See Appendix LVI.



Page 292




Things I would know but am forbid
By time and briefness.
            Laurence Binyon

More than half of the tea grown in Japan comes from the hilly coast-wise prefecture of Shidzuoka through which every traveller passes on his journey from Kobe or Kyoto to Tokyo. He sees a terraced cultivation of tea and fruit carried up to the skyline. But there is more tea on the hills than the passenger in the train imagines. When viewed from below much of the tea looks like scrub. In various parts of southern Japan patches of tea may be noticed growing on little islands in the paddies, but tea is a hill plant and it is on the sides of hills and on the plateaus at the top of them that the plantations are to be found.

Tea looks not unlike privet and grows or is made to grow like box to a height which can be conveniently picked over. The rows of neat-looking plants are half a dozen feet apart. The first picking may take place when the bush is three or four years old. Bushes may last forty, fifty or even a hundred years, but the ordinary life of tea is between twenty and thirty. A bush is usually cut back every ten years or so. A good deal depends on the pruning. After each picking the bushes are cut over with the shears just as we trim box. These trimmings may be used to make an inferior tea for farmhouse consumption, or they may be utilised in the manufacture of caffeine or theine—the two products are indistinguishable. Usually the bushes are cut round-topped, but occasionally they are roof-shaped and sometimes they are like giant green toadstools.

Page 293 The characteristic feature of a tea district beyond the rows of tea bushes is the chimney piping of the farmhouses which manufacture their own tea. (The word manufacture is used in the original sense, for farmhouse tea is hand-made.) In a country where the houses are chimneyless these galvanised iron chimneys are conspicuous.

The picking of the tea seems to be done almost entirely by women and children. The pickers are supposed to take only the three leaves at the tips. But the pickers mostly take bigger pieces, for the somewhat higher price given for good picking is not enough to secure three-leaf stuff only. It is not absolutely necessary, however, that the leaves gathered should be all of such a choice sort.

Women and girls come from a distance to pick tea. Picking is regarded as "polite labour by the daughters of the higher middle class of farmers." It has also the attraction that farmers' sons have a way of visiting tea gardens in order to "pick up wives." The girls certainly give would-be husbands every chance of seeing what they can do, for they are at work for a long day, often of from twelve to fourteen hours. In such a day it is possible, I was told, to pick 50, 80 or even 100 lbs. of leaves. One man put the rate as from 50 to 120 pieces a minute. Four pounds of leaves make a pound of tea.

In one district the first picking may take place during the first three weeks of May. In colder districts it is proceeding until the end of the month. The second season is from the end of June until the beginning of July. The third is in August. The bushes, after producing their three crops of leaves, bear in November their seeds, which are about three-quarters of an inch in diameter and are worth about a sen a pound. Oil is pressed from them.

Good tea depends on climate and soil, careful cutting over and good manuring. In some places I saw soya bean being grown between the rows as green manuring. Like so many other crops, tea is or ought to be sprayed. The northern limit of tea is Niigata, where the bushes must be protected from the snow, which may fall in that prefecture to a great depth. The region in which tea cannot be Page 294 grown is that in which the temperature falls below zero for two months. Tea is not grown, as in India and Ceylon, by tea planters, but in small areas and as a side-line at that. I never saw a plantation of more than five acres. Most areas are much smaller. The chief reason for this is that tea is largely manufactured on the day on which it is picked and the capacity of a farmer's tea manufacturing equipment is limited. In Shidzuoka nearly a quarter of the tea is hand rolled and three-quarters made by machinery. Elsewhere in Japan half the crop may be hand rolled.

When leaves are sold to factors the transactions take place in booths opened by them in the tea districts. It is a busy scene in the region of the cottage factories. One is on a wide plateau covered almost entirely with rows of tea plants. Here and there are parties of chattering pickers, their heads protected by the national towel. Against the blue hilltops on the horizon stand out the cottages of the farmers with chimney-pipes smoking, the booths of the dealers, and, in every patch of tea, the thatched roof over the precious sunken pot of liquid manure by which the tea bushes have so often benefited. On the road one passes women with baskets on their backs, like Scotch fish-wives with their creels, men carrying two baskets suspended from a pole across one shoulder, or a man and his wife hauling a barrow, all heavy-laden with newly picked leaves. Small horse-drawn wagons carry the manufactured tea in big, well-tied, pink paper bales. On the whole, although the labour is hard it seemed a better life having to do with the fragrant tea than with the rice of the sludge ponds in the valley below.

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The tea produced in Japan is principally green tea. Most of this is of the kind called senchaChao means tea. An inferior article made out of older and tougher leaves is called bancha. The custom is for the maid who serves bancha to heat the leaves over the charcoal fire just before infusing. This gives it an agreeable roasted flavour. It is often served in a darker shade of porcelain than is used for ordinary tea. There are also the finer teas, kikicha (powdered tea) and gyokuro (jewelled dewdrops), which is Page 295 the best kind of sencha. Black tea was being made experimentally when I first arrived in Japan. Brick tea (pressed to the consistency and weight of wood) may be green or black. Most of the exported tea, other than brick tea, goes to America.

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It is unnecessary to state that the Japanese tea-tray does not include a sugar basin, cream jug or spoons. It does include, however, a squat oval jug into which the hot water from the kettle is poured in order to lower the temperature below boiling point. Boiling water would bring out a bitter flavour from the tea. Made with water just below boiling point the tea is deliciously soft, even oily, and has a flavour and aroma which cream and sugar would ruin. It is certainly refreshing, and, when drunk newly infused, relatively harmless. Bancha is made with hotter water than other tea. The handleless cups hold about half of what our teacups contain. [201] Tea is not the only plant used for making "tea." One drinks in some parts infusions of cherry, plum or peach blossom.

The processes of tea manufacture in farmers' outhouses and in factories are described in school-books, and I need not transcribe my impressions. [202] But I may note that some of the money the tea farmer earns for the country is spent in his interests. There is in Shidzuoka a well-directed prefectural experiment station which exercises itself over problems of tea production. Every tea grower and tea dealer in the prefecture must belong to the prefectural tea guild. He must also belong to his county tea guild. The rules of the guilds—there is a central guild in Tokyo—have the force of law. Evil doers in the tea industry have their product confiscated. Tea dealers who do not carry their guild membership card are fined. It is not difficult to discover colouring in tea if it is rubbed on white paper. The Government's part in subduing tea colouring was to seize all the dye stuff it could lay hold of which could be used for colouring tea.

Page 296 The future of green tea depends almost entirely on the demand from the growing population of Japan, but a taste for the "foreign style" black tea—with condensed milk—is spreading. The cheap labour of India and China and the big plantations and factories of India have diminished the Japanese green tea trade and the effort to produce black tea is also met by foreign competition. I was told that China tea receives much sunshine while growing, and that there was most hope for Japanese black tea when made from leaves grown in the extreme south. There is a difference between the Chinese and the Japanese tea plant and it cannot be got over by importing Chinese plants, for the climate of Japan simply Japanises the imported sort.

I found in the United States that green tea is bought, as it is no doubt sold in Shidzuoka, on appearance. American housewives were paying for an appearance that matters little in an article that is not to be looked at but soaked. Not only is much extra labour required for sifting the leaf several times in order to obtain a good appearance, but the bulk is reduced from 5 to 10 per cent. The drinking quality of the tea also suffers, for the largest leaf has usually the best cup quality. If teas were bought for cup quality only they might be at least from 5 to 10 per cent. cheaper.


[201] At many stations one used to have handed into the carriage for less than a penny a pot of tea and a cup—you are entitled to keep both pot and cup if you like. The tea-seller's kettle of water is kept hot with charcoal. Tea is freshly infused in each customer's pot.

[202] For statistics and theine percentages, see Appendix LVII.



Page 297





What was yet wanting must be sought by fortuitous and unguided excursions and gleaned as industry should find or chance should offer.—Johnson

When I first went to Chiba, the peninsular prefecture lying across the bay from Tokyo, many carriages in the trains were heated by iron hibachi [203] with pieces of old carpet thrown over them. It is on the Chiba trains that the recruits of that section of the army which has to do with the operation of the railways learn their business. It is in part of Chiba—and also in a district in Tokyo prefecture—that the earliest rice is grown. Chiba also contains more poultry than any other prefecture. [204] It has the further distinction of having tried to issue truthful crop statistics. [205]

Wherever one goes in Japan one is impressed by the large consumption of fish—fresh, dried, and salted. Thin slices of raw fish make one of the tasty dishes at a Japanese meal. The foreigner, forgetting the Western relish for oysters and clams, is repelled by this raw fish, but a liking for it seems to be quickly acquired. In Tokyo the slices of raw fish are cut from the meaty bonito (tunny), but tai (bream) is also used. Bonito also provides the long narrow steaks, dried to a mahogany-like hardness, which are known as katsubushi. This katsubushi keeps indefinitely and is Page 298 grated or shaved with a kind of plane and used much as the Western cook employs Parmesan cheese.

I heard a man in Chiba combating very strongly the idea of there being a connection between leprosy and fish eating. As to leprosy, it is doubtful if the belief expressed by the Chinese name for the disease, "heavenly punishment," has disappeared. There are at least 24,000 lepers in Japan, and as a well-known Japanese work of reference casually remarks, "the hospitals can at present accommodate only 5 per cent. of them."

I could not but compare the undulating countryside, on which so vast an amount of labour had been expended, with what it would have been under European treatment and the influence of an European climate—possibly picturesque pasture with high hedges. The congeries of rice fields was fringed, where the water supply had given out, with upland cultivation. On the low mud walls which separated the paddies beans grew except at a boundary corner, where a tea or mulberry bush served as a landmark. In looking down or up the little valleys one saw how completely the houses had been brushed aside to the foot of the low hills so that no land cultivable as paddies should be wasted. This intensely developed countryside was not however ideal land. It was often much too sandy. Not a few paddies had to depend to some extent on the water they could catch for themselves. A naturally draughty and hungry land was yielding crops by a laborious manurial improvement of its physical and chemical condition, by wonders being wrought in rural hydraulics and by unending industry in cultivation and petty engineering.

It might be supposed that beauty had gone from the countryside. Some of what the land agents call the amenities of the district had certainly disappeared. There seemed to be nowhere for the pedestrian to sit down in order to refresh himself with those rural sights and sounds which exhilarate the spirit. But this marvellously delved, methodised and trimmed countryside had a character and a stimulus of its own. It reflected the energy and persistence that had subdued it. I saw nothing ugly. The tidied rice plots, shaped at every possible curve and angle, and Page 299 eloquent of centuries of unremitting toil; the upland beyond them, worked to a skilled perfection of finish; the nesting houses which nowhere offended the eye; the big still ponds contrived by the rude forefathers of the hamlet for water storage or the succour of the rice in the hottest weather; the low hilltops green with pine because cultivation could not ascend so far, and hiding here and there a Shinto sanctuary: such a countryside was satisfying in its own way.

In Chiba, as in other prefectures, one is impressed by the way in which the exertions of many generations have resulted in the levelling of wide areas and even the complete removal of small hills. In many places one can still see low hills in process of demolition. In Tokyo itself several small hills have been carried off in recent years.

I was in Chiba several times and I remember to have noticed one winter day with what considered roughness the paddies had been dug in order to receive from frost and sun the benefits which are as good as a manuring. Some notion of the strength of the weather forces at work may be gathered from the fact that, though I was walking without an overcoat and was glad to shade my eyes by pulling down the brim of my hat, the frost of the two previous nights had produced ice on the paddies an inch thick.

Sometimes at the irrigation reservoirs one may see notice boards announcing that these water areas are stocked with koi (carp). This fish is also kept in the paddies. The carp are put in as yearlings or two-year-olds, when the paddies are flooded, and a score out of every hundred come out in the autumn—assuming the happiest conditions—ten inches or so long. Carp culture flourishes in the sericulture districts, where the pupæ which remain when the cocoons are unwound are thrown to the fish; but pupæ fed carp have a flavour which diminishes their value. Indeed paddy-field fish, which on the whole must have a rather troubled existence, do not bring the price of river carp. Other fish than carp, eels for instance, are also kept in paddies.[206]

Page 300 I visited a vigorous personality who was at once a landowner and rural oculist, as his father and grandfather had been before him. He had graduated at Tokyo and had kept himself abreast of German specialist literature. There was accommodation for about a hundred patients in the buildings attached to his house. He believed in the efficacy in eye cases of "the air of the rice fields," not to speak of the shrine which overlooks the patients' quarters. As the number of blind people in Japan is appalling, [207] it was interesting to hear the opinion that the chief causes were gonorrhœa, inadequate attention at birth, insufficient nourishment in childhood and nervous disease—all more or less preventible. Nearly a quarter of my host's patients had had their eyes wounded by rice-stem points while stooping in the paddies. As the people are hurt in the busy season they often put off coming for help until it is too late.

The landowner-oculist's premises were lighted by natural gas from a depth of 900 ft. According to a fellow-guest, who happened to be an expert in this matter, natural gas is to be had all over Japan. [208]

The room in which I slept belonged to a part of the house which was of great age, but by my futon there was laid an electric torch.

A pleasant thing during my visit was the presence of a dozen intelligent, kindly students who early in the evening came and knelt in a semicircle round us, "in order to profit by our talk." One of them, a son of the house, an athlete (and now, after travelling in Europe, his father's successor), did all sorts of services for me during my stay, in the simple-hearted fashion that shows such an attractive side of the Japanese character. One question asked by the students was, "For what reasons does Sensei believe that the influence of women in public life would be good?" Another enquiry was, "Which are the best London and Paris papers?" These lads could hardly hope to get through the university before they were twenty-five or twenty-six. Yet, compared with our undergraduates, they had very little time for general reading, discussions Page 301 and outdoor sports. I remember a man of some experience in the educational world saying to me, "Our students do not read enough apart from their studies; it is their misfortune." They have not only the burden of having to learn nearly several thousand ideographs, [209] three scripts and Japanese and Chinese pronunciation. They have to acquire Western languages, which, owing to their absolute dissimilarity from Oriental tongues—for example, the word for "I" is watakushi—must be learnt entirely from memory. It is not that the Japanese student does not begin early as well as leave off late. A professor once said to me, "For some little time after I first went to school I was still fed from the bosom of my mother." In some ways it is no doubt a source of strength for Japan that her men can spend from their earliest years to the age of twenty-six on the acquirement of knowledge and self-discipline—the privileges of the student class and the generosity of their families and friends and the public at large are remarkable—but the disadvantages are plain. No sight seems stranger to a new arrival in Japan than that of so many men in their middle or late twenties still wearing the conspicuous kimono and German bandsman cap of the student.

To return to our host, he told us that tenants were "getting clever." They were paying their rent in "worse and worse qualities of rice." The landlords "encouraged" their tenants with gifts of tools, clothes or saké in order that they might bring them the best rice, but the tenants evidently thought it paid better to forgo these benefits and market their best rice. This raises the question whether rent ought nowadays to be paid in kind. Rural opinion as a whole is in favour of continuing in the old way, but there is a clear-headed if small section of rural reformers which is for rent being paid in cash.

One thing I found in my notes of my talk with the Page 302 landowner-oculist I hesitated to transcribe without confirmation. Speaking of the physique of the people, he had said that few farmers could carry the weights their fathers and grandfathers could move about. But later on a high agricultural authority mentioned to me that it had been found necessary to reduce the weight of a bale of rice from 19 to 18 kwamme and then to 15—1 kwamme is 8.26 lbs.

In the oaza in which I was staying there were eighty families. Seventy were tenants. Under a savings arrangement initiated by my host, the hamlet, including its five peasant proprietors, was saving 120 yen a month. On the other hand, more than half the tenants were in debt "in connection with family excesses," such as weddings, births and burials. But there might be unknown savings. I should state that the villagers seemed contented enough.

For some reason or other I was particularly struck by the sturdiness of the small girls. This was interesting because Chiba had for long an evil reputation for infanticide, and under a system of infanticide in the Far East it would be supposed—I have heard this view stoutly questioned—that more girls die than boys. The landowner-oculist was of opinion that in stating the causes of the low economic condition of his tenants the abating of infanticide must be put first. People no longer restricted themselves to three of a family. The average area available locally was only 6 tan of paddy and 1.2 tan of dry land. In a one-crop district in which there was work for only a part of the year this area was obviously insufficient and there was not enough dry land for mulberries. Then taxation was now 2½ yen per bale of rice (hyō). A third of the rice went in rent.

I tried to find out what the oaza might be spending on religion. The Shinto priest seemed to get 5 sen a month per family, which as there are eighty families would be 48 yen yearly. The Buddhist priest had land attached to his temple and money was given him at burials and at the Bon season. The oaza might spend 100 yen a year to send five pilgrims as far away as Yamagata, on the other side of Japan. The priests did not seem to count for much. "Their only concern with the public," I was informed, "is Page 303 to be succoured by it. They are living very painfully. The Buddhist priests have to send money to their sect at Kyoto." In one of my strolls I passed the Shinto priest carrying a rice basket and looking, as my companion said, "just like any other man." At a shrine I saw a number of bowls hung up. A hole cut in the bottom of each seemed a pathetic symbol of need, material or spiritual.

The keeper of the teahouse in the oaza had been given a small sum by our host to take himself off, but in the village of which the oaza formed a part there were two teahouses, where ten times as much was spent as was laid out on religion. No one had ever heard of a case of illegitimacy in the oaza but there had been in the twelve months three cases which pointed to abortion. It was five years since there had been an arrest. The young men's association helped twice a year families whose boys had been conscripted.

According to what I was told in various quarters, some landowners in Chiba did a certain amount of public work but most devoted themselves to indoor trivialities. The fact that two banks had recently broken at the next town, one for a quarter of a million yen, and that a landowner had lost a total of 30,000 yen in these smashes, seemed to show that there was a certain amount of money somewhere in the district. No one appeared to "waste time on politics." In ten years "there had been one or two politicians," but "one member of Parliament set a wholesome example by losing a great deal of money in politics." As to local politics, election to the prefectural assembly seemed to cost about 500 yen. Membership of the village assembly might mean "a cup of saké apiece to the electors."

I was assured that this hamlet was above the economic level of the county. The belief was expressed that it could maintain that position for three or four years. "I do not feel so much anxiety about the present condition of the people," my host said; "they are passive enough: but as to the future it is a difficult and almost insoluble question."

"The condition of our rural life is the most difficult question in Japan," said a fellow guest.

In one of the farmers' houses a girl, with the assistance Page 340 of a younger brother, was weaving rough matting for baling up artificial manure. Near them two Minorcas were laying in open boxes. In this family there were seven children, "three or four of whom can work." The hired land was 8 tan of paddy and 2½ of dry. There was nothing to the good at the end of the year. Indeed rice had had to be borrowed from the landlord. The family was therefore working merely to keep itself alive. But it looked cheerful enough. Looking cheerful is, however, a Japanese habit. The conditions of life here were what many Westerners would consider intolerable. But it was not Westerners but Orientals who were concerned, and what one had to try to guess was how far the conditions were satisfactory to Eastern imaginations and requirements. The people at every house I visited—as it happened to be a holiday the mending of clothing and implements seemed to be in order—were plainly getting enjoyment from the warm sunshine. Undoubtedly the long spells of sunshine in the comparatively idle period of the year make hard conditions of life more endurable.

In a very small house which was little more than a shelter, the father and mother of a tenant were living. It is not uncommon for old peasants to build a dwelling for themselves when they get nearly past work, or sometimes after the eldest son marries.

I found a 1-chō peasant proprietor playing go and rather the worse for saké, though it was early in the morning. A 3-chō proprietor was living in a good-sized house which had a courtyard and an imposing gateway.

On the thatch of one house I noticed a small straw horse perhaps two feet long. On July 7 such a horse is taken by young people to the hills, where a bale of grass is tied on its back. On the reappearance of the figure at the house, dishes of the ceremonial red rice and of the ordinary food of the family are set before it. "The offering of other than horse food indicates," it was explained, "that the desire is to keep the straw animal as a little deity." Finally the horse is flung on the roof.

I went some distance to visit an oaza of twenty families. It was described to me as "well off and peaceful." Alas, Page 305 one peasant proprietor had gone to Tokyo, where he had made money, and on his return had built his second son a house with Tokyo labour instead of with the labour of his neighbours. So the oaza was "excited with bitter inward animosity." Like our own hamlets, these oaza in the sunshine, seemingly so peaceful, whisper nothing to townsfolk of their bickerings and feuds.

One of the thatched mud houses I came to was at once a primitive co-operative sale-and-purchase society and the clubhouse of the old people of the oaza. The rent the old folk received from the society was enough to maintain the building. The oldsters gather from time to time in order to eat, drink and make merry with gossip and dancing. Dancing is a possibility for old people because it is swaying, sliding and attitudinising, with an occasional stamp of the foot, rather than hopping and whirling. One of the best amateur dances I have seen was performed by a grandsire. Such clubhouses, places for the comfort of the ageing and aged, are found in many villages. Young people are not admitted. The subscription to this particular clubhouse was 2 yen and 3 sho of saké on joining and 2 yen a year.

As we went on our way there was pointed out to me a house the owner of which had sold half a tan of land for 120 yen and was drinking steadily. He had tried to make money by opening an open-air village theatre which owing to rain had been a failure.

I visited an oaza where all the land belonged to the man I called upon. He assured me that most of his tenants "made ends meet." The remainder had a deficiency at the end of the year due to "lack of will to save" and to their "lack of capital which caused them to pay interest to manure dealers." A co-operative society had just been started.

In looking at a map of the village to which some of these oaza belonged I noticed many holdings tinted a special colour. These were called "jump land." They consisted of land subdued from the wild by strangers. The properties were regarded as belonging to the oaza in which their cultivators lived.

Page 306 I walked through a bit of woodland which had formerly been held in common and had been divided up, amid felicitations no doubt, at the rate of half a tan each to every family. But the well-to-do people soon got hold of their poorer neighbours' portions.

In a roughish tract I came on burial grounds. One portion was set apart for the eight families which recognised the chief landlord as their head. The graves of lowlier folk seemed to occur anywhere. Each grave was covered by a pyramidal mound of sandy earth with a piece of twig stuck in it. Sometimes a tree had been planted and had grown. A child's grave had some tiny bowls of food and a clay doll before a little headstone. By way of shelter for these offerings there was hung on the headstone a peasant's wide straw hat. A large beehive-shaped bamboo basket over another grave was a reminder of the time when a grave needed such protection in order to save the body from wild animals.

I saw at a distance in the midst of paddies two tree-covered mounds, a large one and a small one. They looked like the grave mounds I had seen in China, but it was suggested that they were probably on an old frontier line and marked spots at which ceremonies for scaring off disease were performed.

In one place I found the people planting plum trees in order to meet their communal taxation. It was reckoned that the yield of one tree when it came into full bearing would defray the taxes of a moderate-sized family.

An open space in a wood was pointed out to me as the spot on which dead horses were formerly thrown to the dogs and birds. Nowadays notice was given to the Eta that a dead horse was to be cast away, and they came and, after skinning the animal, buried the body. Farther off, on the high road, I saw an 8 ft. high monument to a local steed that had died in Manchuria.

One of my further visits to Chiba was in the spring. The paddies, which had been fallow since November, were under water; but much of the stubble had been turned over with the long-bladed mattock. The seed beds from which the rice is transplanted to the paddies were a vivid Page 307 green. On the high ground I saw good clean crops of barley and wheat, beans and peas, on soil of very moderate quality.

The name of Funabashi at a station reminded me of a Japanese friend having told me that it was "famous for a shrine and a very immoral place." But I afterwards heard that the keeper of that shrine, "acting from conscientious motives, gave up his lucrative post and died a poor man." It is said of one of the most sacred places in Japan that it is also the "most immoral." Kyoto which contains nine hundred shrines is also supposed to harbour several thousand women of bad character.

I passed a place where 25,000 Russian prisoners had been detained. There was an old peasant there who told his son that he could not understand why so many Japanese went abroad at such great cost to see the different peoples of the world. If they would only stay at home, he said, they would see them all in turn, for first there had been the Chinese prisoners, then the Russians and now there were the Germans.

In the uplands it was peaceful and restful to walk through the shady lanes between the tree-studded homesteads or along the road passing between plots of mulberry, tea, vegetables or grain, cultivated with the care given to plants in a garden. In the herbage by the roadside, but not among the crops I need hardly say, I noticed dandelions, sow thistles, Scots thistles, plantains and some other familiar weeds.

In the paddies some men wore only a narrow band of red cotton between their legs joined to a waist string, which, though convenient wear in paddies, was comically conspicuous. I recall a friend's story of a little foreign girl of seven who stayed with her mother in a Japanese hamlet and struck up a friendship with a kindly old peasant. One hot summer day the child came home carrying all her scanty garments over her arm, and covered with mud to the waist. In answer to her mother's enquiries the child said, "Well, mother, Ito San has all his clothes off, and I could not go into the paddy to help him with mine on."

I visited an elementary school which was little more than Page 308 a shed. The roofing was of bark and the paper-covered window shutters were of the roughest. It said much for the stamina of the children that they could sit there in bleak weather. An attempt had been made to shut off the classes from one another by pieces of thin cotton sheeting fastened to a string. But such essential furniture, from a hygienic point of view, as benches with backs had been provided, for it is considered by the national educational authorities that kneeling in the Japanese manner is inimical to physical development. I noticed, also, that when the children sang they had been taught to place their hands on their hips in order that their chests might benefit from the vocal exercise. The earnestness and kindliness of the men and women teachers were evident. All the teachers came to school bare-foot on geta. [210]

The sea was not far off and we went to the beach where there was nothing between us and America. My companion and I were carried over shallows on the backs of fishermen, wonderful bronze-coloured figures. Above high-water mark heaps of small fish were drying. They were to be turned into oil and fish-waste manure. I saw an earthenware vase with a hole in the bottom like a flowerpot and found that it was used, with a rope attached to the rim, for catching octopus. When the octopus comes across such a vase on the sea bottom he regards it as a shelter constructed on exactly the right principles and takes up his abode therein. He is easily captured, for he refuses to let go his vase when it is brought to the surface. Indeed the only way to dislodge him is to pour hot water through the hole in the bottom of his upturned tenement.


[203] The Japanese firepot, which is made of wood or porcelain as well as metal, contains pieces of charcoal smouldering in wood ash.

[204] I saw poultry of the table breeds which we call Indian Game or Malay; the Japanese call them Siamese.

[205] See Appendix LVIII.

[206] In 1918 carp was produced to the value of a million and a half yen and eels to the value of nearly a million.

[207] See Appendix LIX.

[208] See Appendix LX.

[209] To cite a word already used in these pages, there are half a dozen words spelt ko and as many as fourteen spelt , but all have a different ideograph. When the prolongation of the educational course by the ideographs is dwelt on, it is wholesome for us to remember Professor Gilbert Murray's declaration that "English spelling entails a loss of one year in the child's school time." Other authorities have considered the loss to be much more.

[210] For statistics of stamina, heights and weights of children, see Appendix LXI.



Page 309




We are here to search the wounds of the realm, not to skim them over.—Bacon

One day in the third week of October when the roads were sprinkled with fallen leaves I made an excursion into the Kwanto plain and passed from the prefecture of Tokyo into that of Saitama. [211] The weather now made it necessary for Japanese to wear double kimonos. During the middle of the day, however, I was glad to walk with my jacket over my arm, and many little boys and girls were running about naked. The region visited had a naturally well-drained dark soil, composed of river silt, of volcanic dust and of humus from buried vegetation, and it went down to a depth beyond the need of the longest daikon (giant radish). Sweet potatoes and taro were still on the ground, and large areas, worked to a perfect tilth, had been sown or were in course of preparation for winter wheat and barley; but the most conspicuous crop was daikon. There were miles and miles of it at all sorts of stages from newly transplanted rows to roots ready for pulling. There is daikon production up to the value of about a million yen. In addition to the roots sent into Tokyo, there is a large export trade in daikon salted in casks.

I came into a district where there was a system of alternate grain and wood crops. The rotation was barley and wheat for three or four years, then fuel wood for about fifteen. The tendency was to lengthen the corn period in the rotation.

Page 310 The women even as near Tokyo as this wore blue cotton trousers like the men. One farm-house I entered was a century old but it had not been more than forty years on its present site. It had been transported three miles. I was once more impressed by the low standard of living. If by this time I had not been getting to know something of the ways of the farmers I should have found it difficult to credit the fact that a household I visited was worth ten thousand yen.

Sweet potatoes are here much the most important crop. They were bringing the farmer in Tokyo a little over a yen the 82 lbs. bale. The consumer was paying double that. Not a few of the farmers were cultivating as much as 5 chō or even 8 chō, for there was little paddy. Even then, I was told, "it's a very hard life for a third of the farmers." The reason was that there was no remunerative winter employment.

Before the Buddhist temple, where there was preaching twice a year, were rows of little stone figures, many of which had lost their heads. The heads were in much demand among gamblers who value them as mascots. Among some mulberry plots belonging to different owners I saw a little wooden shrine, evidently for the general good. It was there, it was explained, "not because of belief but of custom." The evening was drawing in and Fuji showed itself blue and mystical above the dark greenery of the country. As I gazed a sweet-sounding gong was struck thrice in the temple. Three times a day there is heard this summons to other thoughts than those of the common task.

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My companion entered into conversation with a decent middle-aged pedestrian, neatly but poorly dressed, and found that he was a man who had formerly pulled his kuruma in Tokyo. The man had found the work of a kurumaya too much for him and had withdrawn to his village to open a tiny shop. But he had been taken ill and had been removed to hospital. When he came out he found that his wife was in poverty and that his eldest son had been summoned to serve in the army. Now his wife had become ill and he was on his way to a distant relative to ask him to take charge of a small child and to help him with a Page 311 little money to start some petty business. My companion gave him a yen and deplored the fact that poor people should fail to take advantage of the law releasing from service a son required for the support of a parent. They failed occasionally to find friends to represent their case to the authorities.

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While waiting at the station we talked with another old man. He had come to see his daughter whose husband had been called up for two years' service. She was living of course with her parents-in-law. He said that his daughter would have no difficulty in keeping the farm going during the young man's absence, but his being away was "a great loss."

The old man, who squatted at our feet as he spoke, went on to tell us about a young man of his village who had served his term in the navy but thought of remaining for another term. "Gran'fer" thought it a good opening for him; he would not only get his living and clothes but—and this is characteristic—"see the world and send back interesting letters." The ancient was specially interested in the sailor, he said, because his wife had "given milk" to the adventurer when an infant.

It is difficult to enter a village which has not its pillar or its slab to the memory of a youth or youths who perished in the Russian or Chinese wars. [212] But in the severe struggle with Russia the villages did more than give their sons and build memorials to them when they were killed. They tried, in the words of an official circular of that time, "to preserve the spirit of independence in the hearts of the relieved and to avoid the abuses of giving out ready money." There was the secret ploughing society of the young men of a village in Gumma prefecture. "Either at night or when nobody knew these young men went out and ploughed for those who were at the front." In one prefecture the school children helped in working soldiers' farms. In villages in Osaka and Hyogo prefectures there was given to soldiers' families the monopoly of selling tofu, matches and other articles. Some of Page 312 the societies which laboured in war time were the Women's One Heart Society, the Women's Chivalrous Society, the National Backing Society and the Nursing Place of Young Children of those Serving at the Front.

In the train we talked of the hardiness induced by not being the slave of clothing. When it rains kuruma men and workmen habitually roll up their kimonos round their loins, or if they are wearing trousers, take them off. [213] Of course no Japanese believes in catching cold through getting his feet wet. This is a condition which is continually experienced, for the cotton tabi are wet through at every shower. Some years back it was not uncommon in walking along the sea-beach at night to find fishermen sleeping out on the sand. An old man told me that it used to be the custom in his sea-shore hamlet for all members of a family to sleep on the beach except fathers, mothers and infants.

On my return from the country I found myself in a company of earnest rural reformers who were discussing a plan of State colonisation for the inhabitants of some villages where everything had been lost in a volcanic eruption. Families had been given a tract of forest land, 15 yen for a cottage, 45 yen for tools and implements and the cost of food for ten months (reckoned at 8 sen per adult and 7 sen per child per day). During the evening I was shown the figure of a goddess of farming venerated by the afflicted folk. The deity was represented standing on bales of rice, with a bowl of rice in her left hand and a big serving spoon in her right.

The gathering discussed the question of rural morality. As to the relations of the young men and women of the villages, to which there has necessarily been frequent references in these pages, the reader must always bear in mind the way in which the sexes are normally kept apart under the influence of tradition. In nothing does this Japanese countryside differ more noticeably from our own than in the fact that joyous young couples are never seen Page 313 arming each other along the road of an evening. Thousands of allusions in our rural songs and poetry, innumerable scenes in our genre pictures, speak of blissful hours of which Japan gives no sign. There is no courting; there are in the public view no "random fits of Daffi'." An unmarried young man and young woman do not walk and talk together. A young man and woman who were together of an evening would be suspected of immorality. Even when married they would not think of linking arms on the road. I was a beholder of a family reunion at a railway station in which a young wife met her young husband returned from abroad. There were merely repeated bows and many smiles. The view taken of kissing in Japan is shown by the fact that an issue of a Tokyo periodical was prohibited by the police because it contained an allusion to it. We are helped to understand the Japanese standpoint a little if we remember how repugnant to English and American ideas is the Continental custom of men kissing one another. Kissing is understood by the Japanese to be a sexual act, as is shown by their word for it.

Early in November in the neighbourhood of Tokyo, where three crops are taken in the year and sometimes four or five, I found between the rows of growing winter barley two lines of green stuff which would be cleared off as the barley rose. The barley was sown in clumps of two dozen or even thirty plants, each clump being about a foot apart, and liberally treated with liquid manure. In Saitama 100 bushels per acre has been produced by a good farmer. The clump method of sowing is believed to afford greater protection against the weather. (Outside the volcanic-soil area ordinary sowing in rows is common.) The volcanic soil, as one sees in spots where excavations have been made, is originally light yellow. The humus introduced by the liberal applications of manure has made it black.

I came upon a hollow in some low hills, studded with trees and overlooking Tokyo Bay, which had been secured for the building of an elaborate series of temples at a cost of three million yen. Acres of grounds were being laid out with genius. The buildings were of that beautiful simplicity which marks the edifices of the Zen sect. The Page 314 construction was in the hands of some of the cleverest master craftsmen in Japan. The work was to be spread over four years. A great hoarding displayed thousands of wooden tablets bearing the names and the amounts of the subscriptions of the faithful. In one of the completed temples a kindly priest was preaching. He added to the force of his gestures by the use of a fan. He was being attentively listened to by an intelligent-looking congregation. I caught the injunction that in the attainment of goodness aspiration was little worth without will.

The method of announcing subscriptions on hoardings was also adopted outside the new primary school near by. The subscriptions were from a hundred yen to one yen. The charge to scholars at this school, I found, was 10 sen per month during the first compulsory six years and 30 sen during the next two years.

Just after Christmas I walked again into the country. There were miles of dreary brown paddies with the stubble in puddles. On the non-paddy land there was the refreshing green of young corn which seemed greatly to enjoy being treated as a garden plant in a deep exquisitely worked soil with never a weed in an acre. But children were kept from school because their parents could not get along without their help. Many of the school teachers seemed as poor as the farmers. As I passed the farm-houses in the evening they seemed bleak and uninviting. In the fire hole [214] of every house, however, there was a generous blaze and the bath tub out-of-doors was steaming for the customary evening hot dip in the opening.

In my host's house I noticed an old painting of a forked daikon. Such malformed roots used to be presented to shrines by women desirous of having children.

In the office of one village I visited I was permitted to examine the dossiers of some of the inhabitants. Among a host of other particulars about a certain person's origin and condition I read that he was a minor when his father died, that such and such a person acted as his guardian, that the guardianship ended on such and such a date, and Page 315 that his widowed mother had a child nine years after her husband's death.

In not a few places I found that the tiny shrines of hamlets (aza) had been taken away and grouped together at a communal shrine with the notion of promoting local solidarity. At one such combination of shrines I saw notice boards intimating that "tramps, pedlars, wandering priests and other carriers of subscription lists and proselytisers" were not received in the village. It was explained that a community was sometimes all of one faith: "therefore it does not want to be disturbed by tactless preachers of other beliefs."

At an inn there was a middle-aged widow who served there as waitress in the summer but in the winter returned to Tokyo, where she employed a number of girls in making haori tassels. (She gave them board and lodging and clothes for two years, and, after that period, wages.[215] ) Remembering what I had written down about courting, I asked for her mature judgment on our rural custom of "walking out." She was amused, but, in that way the Japanese have of trying to look at a Western custom on its merits, she said, after consideration, that there was much to be said for the plan. "In Japan," she declared, "you cannot know a husband's character until you are married. On the whole, I wish I had been a man." In order to catch our train we had to leave this inn the moment our meal was finished, although the widow quoted to us the adage, "Rest after a meal even if your parents are dead."

On a morning in May I went into the country to visit a friend who was taking a holiday in a ramshackle inn 4,000 ft. up Mount Akagi. I continually heard the note of the kakkō (cuckoo). On the higher parts of the mountain there were azaleas at every yard, some quite small but others 12 or even 15 ft. high. Many had been grazed by cattle. Big cryptomeria were plentiful part of the way up, but at the top there were no trees but diminutive oaks, birches Page 316 and pines, stunted and lichen covered, the topmost branches broken off by the terrific blasts which from time to time sweep along the top of the extinct volcano.

One of the products of rural Japan is the wrestler. Sumo, which is going on in every school and college of the country, exhibits its perfect flower twice a year in the January and May ten-days-long tournaments in the capital. The immense rotunda of the wrestlers' association suggests a rather rickety Albert Hall and holds 13,000 people.[216] On the day I went in I paid 2 yen and had only standing room. Everybody knows the more than Herculean proportions of the wrestlers in comparison with the rest of their countrymen. The rigorous training, Gargantuan feeding and somewhat severe discipline of the wrestlers enable them to grow beyond the average stature and to a girth, protected by enormously developed abdominal muscles, which reinforces strength with great weight. [217]

I had often the opportunity at a railway station or in a train to witness the easy carriage and magnificent pride of these massive, good-tempered men. There is not in the world, probably, a more remarkable illustration than they afford of what superior physical training and superior feeding can do. At first sight, indeed, these gigantic creatures seem to belong to a different race. It is no wonder that they should be so commonly proteges of the rich and distinguished. When an eminent wrestler retired in the year in which I first saw a good wrestling bout the ceremony of cutting his hair—for, like Samson, the wrestler wears his hair long—was performed by a personage who combined the dignities of an admiral and a peer. There is nothing of the bruiser in the looks of the smooth-faced wrestlers. Many, however, are the bruises to their bodies and to their self-esteem which they receive in their disciplinary progress from the contests of their native villages through all the grades of their profession to the highest rank. Their sexual morality is commonly of the lowest.

In my own hamlet at home in England I have seen the Page 317 shoemaker, tailor and carpenter successively pass away; the only craftsman left is the smith. In Japan the hereditary craftsman survives for a while. I watched in my house one day the labours of such a worker. He was not arrayed in a Sunday suit fallen to the greasy bagginess of everyday wear, topped by a soiled collar. He appeared in a blue cotton jacket-length kimono and tight-fitting trousers of the same stuff, and both garments, which were washed at least once a week, were admirably fitted to their wearer's work. Almost the same rig was worn by our own medieval and pre-medieval workmen. The carpenter had on the back of his coat the name of his master or guild in decorative Chinese characters in white. There are nowadays in the cities many inferior workers, but all the men who came to my house worked with rapidity and concentration, hardly ever lifting their eyes from their jobs. The dexterity of the Japanese workman is seldom exaggerated. To his dexterity he adds the considerable advantage of having more than two hands, for he uses his feet together or singly. His supple big toes are a great possession. We have lost the use of ours, but the Japanese artisan, accustomed from his youth to tabi with a special division for the big toe, and to geta, which can be well managed only when the big toe is lissom, uses his toes as naturally as a monkey, with his paws and mouth full of nuts, gives a few to his feet to hold. The first sight of a foot holding a tool is uncanny.

The pitiful thing is that a modest, polite, cheerful, industrious, skilful, and in the best sense of the word artistic hereditary craftsmanship is proving only too easy a prey to the new industrial system. It is a sad reflection that the country which, owing to her long period of seclusion, had the opportunity of applying to all the things of common life so remarkable a skill and artistry, should be so little conscious of the pace at which her industrial rake's progress is proceeding, so insensible to the degree to which she is prodigally sacrificing that which, when it is lost to her, can never be recovered. It is no doubt true that when our own handicrafts were dying we also were insensitive. But because the Middle Ages in England encountered the industrial system gradually we suffered our loss more slowly Page 318 than Japan is doing. Because, too, we never had in our bustling history the long periods of immunity from home and foreign strife by which Japanese craftsmanship profited so wonderfully, we may not have had such large stores of precious skill and taste to squander as New Japan, the spendthrift of Old Japan's riches, is unthinkingly casting away.

It is at Christmas at home that we have in the Christmas tree our reminder of the country. It is on New Year's Day that in Japan a pine tree is set up on either side of the front gate, but there are three bamboos with it, and the four trunks are all beautifully bound together with rope. If the ground be too hard for the trees to be stuck in the ground, they are kept upright by having a dozen heavy pieces of wood, not unlike fire logs, neatly bound round them. The pines may be about 10 ft. high, the bamboo about 15 ft. To the trees are affixed the white paper gohei. Over the doorway itself is an arrangement of straw, an orange, a lobster, dried cuttlefish and more gohei. A less expensive display consists of a sprig of pine and bamboo. Poor people have to be content with a yard-high pine branch with a French nail through it at either side of their doorway. I have been ruralist enough to harbour thoughts of the extent to which the woods are raided for all this New Year forestry. Some prefectures, in the sincerity of their devotion to afforestation, forbid the New Year destruction of pine trees.

I remember the gay and elaborate dressing of the horses during the New Year holidays. I saw one driver of a wagon who was not content with tying streamers on every part of his horse where streamers could be tied: he had also decorated himself, even to the extent of having had his head cropped to a special pattern, tracts of hair and bare scalp alternating.

It was pleasant to learn that a fine chrysanthemum show arranged in an open space in Tokyo was free to the public. Some plants, by means of grafting, bore flowers of half a dozen different varieties. Several plants had been wondrously trained into the form of kuruma, etc. Not a few of the varieties exhibited were, according to our ideas, atrocious Page 319 in colouring, but many were beautiful and all were marvels of cultivation. Even greater manipulative and horticultural skill was represented in the chrysanthemums I saw at the Imperial garden party. A chief of a department of the Ministry of Agriculture told me that from a chrysanthemum growing in the ground it was possible to have a thousand blooms.

In a Japanese room the timber upright alongside the tokonoma is always a tree trunk in the rough. If it be cherry it has its bark on. The contrast with the finely finished wood of the rest of the room is arresting. It is said that the use of the unplaned upright is not more than three or four hundred years old and that it had its origin in Cha-no-yu affectations of simplicity.

I was visited one evening by an agricultural official who had returned from a visit to Great Britain. He spoke of the "lonelyism" of our best hotels. In a Japanese hotel of the same class one's room is so simple and the view of the garden is so refreshing that, with the beautiful flower arrangement indoors, the frequent change of kakemono, the serving of one's meals in a different set of lacquer and porcelain each day and the willing and smiling service always within the call of a hand clap, there comes a sense of restfulness and peace. The drawback which the Western man experiences is the lack of any means of resting his back but by lying down and the inability to read for long while resting an elbow on an arm rest which is too low for him. [218] A Japanese often reads kneeling before a table.

Here I am reminded to say that the development of the desire for books and newspapers in the rural districts is a noticeable thing, if only because it is new. It is not so long ago that reading was considered to be an occupation for old men and women and for children. The samurai had few books and the farmers fewer still. But the idea of combining cultivation and culture was not unknown. I have heard a rural student humbly quote the old saying, SE-kō U-doku Page 320 (literally, "Fine weather—farming—Rainy weather—reading").

I have a rural note of one of my visits to the . [219] One farce brought on an inferior priest of a sect which is now extinct but surely deserves to be remembered for its encouragement of mountain climbing. This "mountain climber," as he was called, was hungry and climbed a farmer's tree in order to steal persimmons. (The actor got on a stool, obligingly steadied by a supposedly invisible attendant, and pretended to clamber up a corner post of the stage.) While he was eating the persimmons he was discovered by their owner. The farmer was a man of humour and said that he thought that "that must be a crow in the tree." So the poor priest tried to caw. "No," said the farmer, "it is surely a monkey." So the priest began to scratch after the manner of monkeys. "But perhaps," the farmer went on, "it is really a kite." The priest flapped his arms—and fell. The farmer thought that he had the priest at his mercy. But the priest, rubbing his beads together, put a spell on him and escaped. The word is written with an ideograph which means ability, but also stands for agriculture.[220]


[211] The Kwanto plain (73 by 96 miles) includes most of Tokyo and Saitama prefecture, and also the larger part of Kanagawa and Chiba and parts of Ibaraki, Gumma and Tochigi.

[212] The characters on these slabs are beautifully written. They have usually been penned by distinguished men.

[213] The Japanese man wears below his kimono or trousers a pair of bathing shorts. Peasants frequently wear in the fields nothing but a little cotton bag and string.

[214] Poor households ordinarily use, instead of movable hibachi, a big square box in an opening in the floor and resting on the earth.

[215] When I was in Tokyo, tradesmen's messenger boys received only their food, lodging and clothing and an occasional present, with help no doubt in starting a linked business when they were out of their time. Now such youths, as a development of the labour movement, are on a wage basis and receive 20 yen a month.

[216] The place has since been burnt down. A bigger building has been erected.

[217] See Appendix LXII.

[218] There is also the occasional whiff of the benjo; but, as an agricultural expert said, "It is not a bad thing that a people which is increasingly under the influence of industrialism should be compelled to give a thought to agriculture." There are European countries famous for their farming whose sanitary experts are evidently similarly minded.

[219] The fact that Dr. Waley's scholarly book is the third work on the to be published in England in recent years is evidence that a knowledge of a form of lyrical drama of rare artistry is gradually extending in the West.

[220] Hence the names of the two national agricultural organisations, Teikoku Nōkai, that is the Imperial Agricultural Society, and Dai Nippon Nōkai, that is the Great Japan Agricultural Society.



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I find the consolation of life in things with which Governments cannot interfere, in the light and beauty the earth puts forth for her children. If the universe has any meaning, it exists for the purposes of soul.—Æ

One December night there walked into my house a professor of agricultural politics, clad in tweeds and an overcoat, and with him a man who wore only a cotton kimono and a single under-garment. The sunburnt forehead of this man showed that he was not in the habit of wearing a hat. There is a smiling Japanese face which to many foreigners is merely irritating. It is not less irritating when, as often happens, it displays bad teeth ostentatiously gold-stopped. This man's smile was sincere and he had beautiful teeth. His hands were nervous and thin, his bearing was natural and his voice gentle. Here, evidently, was an altruist, perhaps a zealot, probably a celibate. He was introduced as a rural religionist from Gumma prefecture set on reforming his countrymen. It is important to know the strength of the reforming power which Japan is itself generating: here was a man who for eight years had lived a life of poverty in remote regions and had shaped his life by three heroes, "St. Francis, Tolstoy and Kropotkin." He believed that the way to influence people was "to work with them." He lived on his dole as a junior teacher in an elementary school. His food, which he cooked himself, was chiefly rice and miso. He had been a vegetarian for ten years. He was twenty-nine.

He said that as far as the people of his village—largely peasant proprietors who hired additional land—were Page 322 concerned, "It is happy for them if they end the year without debt." I asked how the men in the village who owned land but did not work it spent their time. The reply was: "They are chattering of many things, very trivial things, and they disturb the village. They drink too much and they have concubines or women elsewhere."

"If an ordinary peasant went to the next town to see women there," the speaker continued, "young men of the village would go and give him a good knock. In former times 'waitresses' were highly spoken of in the village, but not now. There are some young men who may go at night to a house where there are young girls in the family and open the door. Sometimes they bring cucumbers. Cucumbers are symbols. Some do this out of fun and some sincerely to express their feelings. If the young men who do such a thing do it out of fun they are given a good knock by members of that house when discovered. If they are sincere the members of the family will smile. There are in our village of 6,000 inhabitants only four illegitimate children."

As to the influences exerted for the betterment of the people the follower of St. Francis was convinced that "when Buddhist influence, Shintoism, Confucianism and the good customs of our race are all mixed together so that you cannot discern one from the other we have some living power." His own religion was "that of St. Francis combined with Buddhism."

Speaking generally of rural people my visitor said: "They are falling into miserable conditions, are in effect spending what was accumulated by their ancestors. Their houses are not so practical and cost more. They think they live better but their physical condition is not better. The number who cannot earn much is increasing." I was told of a growing habit among village boys of running off to Tokyo without their parents' permission. And bands of girls came to the district to help in the silk-worm season "often without their parents' approval."

Many villagers consulted my visitor on all sorts of subjects until he had almost no leisure. Some wanted counsel about the future of their children, some desired Page 323 advice about the family debt, some wanted to know how to put an end to quarrels and some asked "how a man will be able to be easy-minded." The ordinary result of the primary school system was "a mass of many informations in young brains and they cannot tell wisdom from knowledge. The result is that they are discontented with their hard lot. They grow up wishing to rob each other within the bounds of the law. They want to live comfortably without hard work. Good customs which were the crystallisation of the experience of our race are dying away."

My visitor had met an old woman on the road clad miserably. She earned as a labourer on a farm, beside her board and lodging, 25 sen daily. Of this sum she handed to a fellow-villager whom she trusted 20 sen. He gave away many clothes to the poor and her contribution was used with the money he expended. "If," said she, "one shall give to God a small thing in darkness then it is accepted to its full value, but, if it be known, it is accepted only at a small value." She was "content and quite happy."

This woman and many others in the district had a primitive kind of religion. They observed the days called "waiting for the sun" and "waiting for the moon." "The same-minded people gather. The one most deeply experienced tells something to those assembled and they begin to be imbued with the same spirit. It is some kind of transformed worship of the sun god. They feel the mercy of the sun. They do not worship the heavenly bodies but as the symbol of the merciful universe. These people take meals together several times in a year. They talk not only on spiritual but on common things and about the news in the papers. It may seem to a stranger that what they talk is foolish, but they have a wonderful power to attract the essential out of those trifles."

"The fundamental power which made Japan what it is," the speaker went on with animation, "is not institutions and statesmen, but those primitive religious acts. The people strongly resembling the old woman I spoke of may be only 1 per cent., but almost all villagers are imbued Page 324 with such religious notions and feel thankfulness, and on rare occasions a latent sentiment springs from their hearts. Their religion may be connected with Buddhism or Shintoism; it is not Buddhism or Shintoism, however, but a primitive belief which in its manifestation varies much in different villages. For example, in one village the good deeds of an ancient sage are told. The time when that priest lived and particulars about him are getting dimmer and dimmer, but his influence is still considerable. Though many people are worshipped in national and prefectural shrines the influence of those enshrined is small compared with the influence of a man or woman of the past who was not much celebrated but was thought to be good by the rustic people.

"Think of the way in which the memory of the maid-servant Otake is worshipped by the peasants through one-half of Japan. That was a pious and illuminated person who worked very hard. As her uta (poem) says, 'Though hands and feet are very busy at work, still I can praise and follow God always because my mind and heart are not occupied by worldly things.' She ate poor food and gave her own food to beggars. So when a countryman wastes the bounty of nature he is still reprimanded by the example of that maid-servant. She is more respected than many great men."

My visitor thought a religious revival might happen under the leadership of a Christian or of a Buddhist, or of a man who "united Buddhism and Christianity" or "developed the primitive form of faith among the lower people." He thought there were "already men in the country who might be these leaders." He said that much might happen in ten years. "Materialism is prevalent everywhere, but people will begin to feel difficulties in following their materialism. When they cannot go any further with it they will begin to be awakened."

And then this young man who sincerely desires to do something with his life and has at any rate made a beginning went his way. Up and down Japan I met several single-hearted men not unlike him.

One day I made an excursion from Tokyo and came on an Page 325 extraordinary avenue of small wooden red painted torii, gimcracky things made out of what a carpenter would call "two by two stuff." By the time I got to the shrine to which the torii led I must have passed a thousand of these erections. In one spot there was a stack of torii lying on their sides. The shrine was in honour of the fox god and there was a curious story behind it. Twenty years before a man interested in the "development" of the district had caused it to be given out that foxes, the messengers of the god Inari, had been seen on this spot in the vicinity of a humble shrine to that divinity. The farmers were continually questioned about the matter. It was suggested that the god was manifesting his presence. In the end more and more worshippers came, and, with the liberal assistance of the speculator, a fine new shrine was erected in place of the shabby one. His hand was also seen in the building of a big burrow—of concrete—for the comfort of the god's messenger. The top of the burrow also furnished an excellent view of the surrounding district, and teahouses were built in the vicinity. Indeed in a year or two quite a village of teahouses came into existence. The place, which was on the sea-coast, had become a kind of Southend or Coney Island, and attracted thousands of visitors.

A large proportion of these teahouses would have great difficulty in establishing a claim to respectability. Numbers of lamps which crowded the space before the shrine were the gifts of women of bad character and the inscriptions on these gifts bore the addresses and profession of the donors. The final irony was the provision of a tram service for the convenience of those who wished to worship at another altar than that of the fox god. Although most of the visitors found the chief attraction of the place in the teahouses, [221] they were none the less devout. Every visitor to the teahouses worshipped at the shrine.

What do those who bow their heads and throw their Coppers in the treasury pray for? "Well-being to my Page 326 family and prosperity to my business" was, I was told, a common form of invocation. Even among not a few reasonably well educated people there is a conviction that prayers made at the altar of the fox god are peculiarly efficacious. Kanzō Uchimura, who accompanied me on this trip, improved the occasion by saying in his vigorous English: "You in the West have some difficulty, no doubt, in understanding the fierceness of the indignation with which Old Testament prophets denounce heathen gods. When you behold such an exhibition as this you may be helped to understand. Here is impurity under divine protection, and this place may fairly be called a fashionable shrine. The visitor to Japan often vaunts himself on being broadminded. He regards heathendom as only another sect and he desires to be respectful to it. But I want to show you that it is not a case of only another sect but often a case of gross and demoralising superstition and priestly countenancing of immorality. Heaven forbid that I should deny the beauty of the idea of the foxes being the messengers of divinity or that I should suggest that some religious feelings may not inspire and some religious feeling may not reward the sincere devotion of the countryman to his fox god, but how much does it amount to in sum?"

I thought of what Uchimura had said when one day, in the course of a walk with his critic, Yanagi (Chapter XI), I was shown a shrine pitifully bedizened by the waraji (straw sandals) and ema [222] of a thousand or more pilgrims who were suffering or had recovered from syphilis.[223]

During our conversation Yanagi said: "Shintoism is not of course a religion at all. It draws great strength from the national instinct for cleanliness manifested by Page 327 people living in a hot climate. The religion of poor people is largely custom; I complain of educated people not that they are sceptical but that they are not sceptical enough. They simply don't care. According to Mr. Uchimura, there is only one way to God and that is through Christianity. But there are many ways. A personal religion like Christianity is more effective than Buddhism, but it does not follow that Christianity is better than Buddhism. I find I get to like Mr. Uchimura more and more and his views less and less. It is not his theoretical Christianity but his courageous spirit which attracts. He is a courageous man and we have very great need of morally courageous men. Although Christianity is impossible without Christ, Buddhism is possible without Buddha. A variety of religions is not harmful, and we have to take note of the Christian temperament and the Buddhistic temperament. Orientals can only be appealed to by an Oriental religion. Christianity is an Oriental religion no doubt, but it has been Westernised. It must always be borne in mind that Buddhistic literature is in a special language and that it is difficult for most people to get a general view of Buddhism."

In further talk the speaker said that in Japan the individual had not been separated from the mass. But it was difficult to exaggerate the swiftness of the national development. The newer Russian writers were "certainly as well known in England, possibly better known." As to Tolstoy alone, there were at least fifty books about him. But it had to be admitted that, generally speaking, the Japanese development though rapid had not gone deep. In painting there was dexterity and technique but few men knew where they were going. Their work was "surface beautiful." They had not passed the stage of Zorn.

We spoke of conscription and I said that it had not escaped my attention that many young men showed an increasing desire to avoid military service. From a single person I had heard of youths who had escaped by looking ill—through a week's fasting—by impairing their eyesight by wearing strong glasses for a few weeks, by contriving to be examined in a fishing village where the standard of Page 328 physique was high, or by shamming Socialist. [224] Many Japanese bear uncomplainingly the heavy burden of the military system. But the others are to be reckoned with.

Said one of these to me: "We Japanese are not inherently a warlike people and have no desire to be militarists; but we are suffering from German influence not only in the army but through the middle-aged legal, scientific and administrative classes who were largely educated in Germany or influenced by German teaching. This German influence may have been held in check to some extent, perhaps, by the artistic world, which has certainly not been German, except in relation to music, and after all that is the best part of Germany. Many young people have taken their ideas largely from Russia; more from the United States and Great Britain. But Germany will always make her appeal on account of her reputation with us for system, order, industry, depth of knowledge, persistence and nationalism."

On the family system, the study of which was more than once urged upon me in connection with the rural problem, this statement was made to me by an agricultural expert: "I will tell you the story of an official whose salary was that of a Governor. His father was a farmer. The farmer borrowed money to educate his son. When the son became an official he paid the money back, but on the small salaries he received this repayment was a strain. Then two brothers came to his house frequently for money, and when they received it spent it in ridiculous ways. This begging has gone on for nine years. My friend has to live not like an Excellency but like a gunchō. He cannot treat his wife and children fairly. But of the money he gives to his brothers he says, 'It is my family expense.'"

I also heard this story: "A married B. B died without having any children. A next married B's sister, C. Then, because of the necessity of having a male heir for the maintenance of his family, and because he thought it was unlikely that his wife C would have children as her dead sister B had had none, he adopted his wife's younger brother, D. Page 329 But the wife C did have children. Consequently, not only is A's wife his sister-in-law and his eldest 'son' his wife's brother, but his children are his eldest 'son's' nephews. The eldest of these children, E, is legally the younger son. He says, 'I am glad that instead of an uncle I have an elder brother. I am much attached to him and he is attached to me. I am not sorry to be younger instead of elder brother, for when my father dies my adopted brother will become head of the family and he must then bring up his younger brothers and sisters, manage the family fortunes, bear the family troubles and keep all the cousins and uncles in good humour by inviting them occasionally and at other times by visiting them and giving them presents.' [225]

"It is obvious that our family system, for speaking in criticism of which officials have been dismissed from their posts, puts too much stress on the family and too little on the individual. The family is the unit of society. Any member of it is only a fraction of that unit. For the sake of the family every member of it must sacrifice almost everything. [226] Sometimes the development of the individual character and individual initiative is checked by the family system. An eldest son is often required to follow his father's calling irrespective of his tastes. Nowadays some eldest sons go abroad, but their departure attracts attention and you seldom find such a thing happening among farmers. The family system, by which all is subordinated to family, is convenient to farmers for it means increased labour and economy of living. Sometimes there may be two married sons living at home and then there is often strife. Generally speaking, the family system at one and the same time keeps young men from striking out in the world and compels their early marriage so that the helping hands to the family may be more numerous. The family system concentrates the attention on the family and not on society. There is no energy left for society.

Page 330 "Again, the family system gives too much power to relatives and leads to disagreeable interference. In the case of a marriage being proposed between family A and family B, the families related to A or B who will be brought into closer connection by the marriage may object. On the other hand, the family system has the advantage that the relatives who interfere may also be looked upon for help. Not a few people are all for maintaining the family system. But the spirit of individualism is entering into some families and here and there children are beginning to claim their rights and to act against relatives' wishes. One hears of farmers sending boys, even elder sons, to the towns, and for their equipment borrowing from the prefectural agricultural bank instead of spending on the development of their business."

At a Christmas-day luncheon I met four students of rural problems, two of whom were peers, one a governor of an important prefecture, and a fourth a high official in the agricultural world. One man, speaking of the family system, said "the success of agriculture depends on it." "In my opinion," someone remarked, "the foundation of the family system is common production and common consumption, so when these things go there must be a gradual disappearance of the family system." "No," came the rejoinder, "the only enemy of the family system is Western influence." "Yes," the fourth speaker added, "an enemy whose blows have told."

Someone suggested that the Japanese rural emigrant always hoped to return home, that is if he could return with dignity—does not the proverb speak of the desirability of returning home in good clothes? One of the company said that he had seen in Kyushu rows of white-washed slated houses which had been erected by returned emigrants. "But they were successful prostitutes. Often, however, these girls invest their money unwisely and have to go abroad again."

Everybody at table agreed that there was in the villages a slow if steady slackening of "the power of the landlord, of the authorities and of religion," and a development of a desire and a demand for better conditions of life. One Page 331 who proclaimed himself a conservative urged that changes of form were too readily confounded with changes of spirit. The change in thought in Japan, he said, was slow, and some occurrences might be easily misjudged. I said that that very day I had heard from my house the drone of an aeroplane prevail over the sound of a temple bell, happening to speak of The Golden Bough, I asked my neighbour, who had read it, if to a Japanese who got its penetrating view some things could ever be the same again. He answered frankly, "There are things in our life which are too near to criticise. Do you know that there are parts of Japan where folklore is still being made?"

I was invited one evening to dinner to meet a dozen men conspicuous in the agricultural world. Priests were apologised for because most of them were "very poor men and also poorly educated." Very few had been even to a middle school. Many priests read Chinese scriptures aloud but they did not understand what they were reading.

One man reported that an old farmer had said to him that paddy-field labour was harder than dry-land labour, but young men did not go off to Tokyo because of the severity of the work; they went away because of "the bondage of rural life."

How much has the economic stress affected old convictions? How general and how eager is the Japanese resolution to Westernise farther? None of the rural sociologists had given any thought apparently to a new factor in the rural problem: the way in which compulsory military service, in taking farmers' sons to the cities as soldiers and bluejackets, is giving them an acquaintance with neo-Malthusianism. In Tokyo and other large cities certain articles are prominently advertised on the hoardings. It is of some importance to consider what will be the effect of this knowledge in competition with the national appreciation of large families. [227] Is it likely that an intensely "practical" people, which has bolted so much of European and American "civilisation," will be wholly uninfluenced by the Western practice of limitation of offspring? What Page 332 is to-day the actual strength of the social needs which have produced the large Japanese family? [228] Whatever middle-aged Japanese may think, the matter is not in their hands, but in the hands of the younger generation. Most Western economists would no doubt argue that if fewer babies arrived in Japan there would not be so many farmers' boys and university graduates bent on emigrating.

Without the voluntary limitation of families, however, the number of children born is likely to be diminished by the increased cost of living and by the postponement of marriage. I know Japanese men who were married before they were twenty; the younger generation of my friends is marrying nearer thirty. [229]

There is reason to believe that the population has not increased of recent years at the old rate. [230] A responsible authority expressed the opinion to me that the necessities of the population are unlikely to overtake the means of production in the near future. [231]

The Japanese are intensely practical, but they have, as we have seen, another side. If that other side is not Page 333 "spiritual," in the sense in which the word is largely used in the West, it is at least regardful of other considerations than the "practical." It is with thoughts of that vital side of the national character that I recall a story told me by Dr. Nitobe of the last days of the Forty-seven Ronin. It is well authenticated. When the Ronin had slain their dead lord's persecutor and had given themselves up to the authorities, they were found worthy of death. But the Shogun was in some anxiety as to what might justly be done. He sent privily to a famous abbot saying that it was at all times the duty of the Shogun to condemn to death men who had committed murder. Yet it was the privilege of a priest to ask for mercy, and in the matter of the lives of the Ronin the Shogun would not be unwilling to listen to a plea for mercy. The abbot answered that he sympathised deeply with the Ronin, but because he so sympathised with them he was unwilling to take any steps which might hinder the carrying out of the sentence. It was true, he said, that there were old men among the Ronin, but many, of them were young men—one was only fifteen—and it had to be borne in mind that if they escaped death at the hands of the law it was hardly likely that during the whole course of their after-lives they could hope to escape committing sin of some sort or another. At the moment they had reached a pinnacle of nobility which they could never pass and it was a thing to be desired for them that they should die now, when they would live to all posterity as heroes. The happiest fate for the Ronin was a righteous death, and as their admiring sympathiser the abbot expressed his unwillingness to do anything which might have the effect of saving them from so glorious an end.


[221] Someone said to me, "I have in mind one village where there is a poorly cared-for school and a score of teahouses giving employment to nearly two hundred people."

[222] "Small boards with crude designs painted on them. They may be prayers, thank-offerings or protective charms. A shrine where many thanks ema have been left is clearly that of a god ready to hear and answer prayer. Worshippers flock to the place and the accumulation of painted boards—whether prayers or thanks—increases."— Frederick Starr, Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan, vol. xlviii.

[223] The percentage in conscripts in 1918 was 2.2 per cent, against 2.5 per cent, in 1917 and 2.7 per cent, in 1916. ("Not less than 10 per cent. of the population of our large towns are infected with syphilis and a much larger proportion with gonorrhœa."— Sir James Crichton-Browne.) The figures for the general population of Japan must be higher.

[224] See Appendix LXIII.

[225] It sometimes happens that an adopted son is dismissed with "a sufficient monetary compensation" when a real son is born.

[226] I met a fine ex-daimyo, who after the Restoration had served as a prefectural governor. He was so generous in giving money to public objects in his prefecture that his family compelled him to resign office.

[227] See Appendix XXX.

[228] It is only within the last quarter of a century that the authorities have taken a stand against infanticide. There is no traditional dislike of an artificial diminution of progeny, for many of the fathers and grandfathers of the present generation practised it. Methods of procuring abortion were also common. A certain plant has a well-known reputation as an abortifacient. A young peer and his wife are now conducting a campaign on behalf of smaller families, and the discussion has advanced far enough for a magazine to invite Dr. Havelock Ellis to express his views.

[229] According to the 1918 figures the ages at which men and women married were as follows per 1,000: before 20, m. 37.6, w. 259.0; 20-25, m. 304.9, w. 434.8; 26-30, m. 347.9, w. 159.4; 31-35, m. 145.1, w. 67.3; 36-40, m. 70.0, w. 37.1; 41-45, m. 41.8, w. 21.4; 46-50, m. 22.8, w. 10.5; 51-55, m. 14.7, w. 6.0; 56-60, m. 7.3, w. 2.5; 61 and upwards, m. 7.9, w. 2.

[230] See Appendix XXX.

[231] See Appendices XXV and LXXX; also page 363 for the reasons operating against emigration. Mr. J. Russell Kennedy, of Kokusai-Reuter, declared (1921) that it was "a myth that Japan must find an outlet for surplus population; Japan has plenty of room within her own border," that is, including Korea and Formosa as well as Hokkaido in Japan. Mr. S. Yoshida, Secretary of the Japanese Embassy in London, in an address also delivered in 1921, stressed the value of the fishing-grounds and the mercantile marine as openings for an increased population. "The resources of the sea," he said, "give Japan more room for her population than appears."



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Above all, this is not concerned with poetry.—Wilfred Owen

When the traveller stands at the northern end of the mainland [232] of Japan he is five hundred miles from Tokyo. In the north of Hokkaido he is a thousand miles away. Hokkaido, the most northerly and the second biggest of the four islands into which Japan is divided, is curiously American. The wide straight streets of the capital, Sapporo, [233] laid out at right angles, the rough buggies with the farmer and his wife riding together, the wooden houses with stove stacks, and, instead of paper-covered shoji, window panes: these things are seen nowhere else in Japan and came straight from America. It was certainly from America that the farmers had their cries of "Whoa." One of the best authorities on Hokkaido has declared that the administrative and agricultural instructors whom America sent there from about the time of the Franco-Prussian war "gave Japan a fairer, kindlier conception of America than all her study of American history."

In Old Japan there is always something which speaks of the centuries that are gone; in Sapporo there is nothing that matters which is fifty years old. One of the most Page 335 remarkable facts in the agricultural history of Japan is that a country with a teeming population and an intensive farming should have left entirely undeveloped to so late a period as the early seventies a great island of 35,000 square miles which lies within sight of its shores. The wonder is that an attempt on Yezo [234] was not made by the Russians, who, but for the vigorous action of a British naval commander, would undoubtedly have taken possession of the island of Tsushima, 700 miles farther south and midway between Japan and Korea. Up to the time of the fall of the Shogun the revenue of the lords of Yezo was got by taxing the harvest of the sea and the precarious gains of hunters. The Imperial Rescript carried by the army which was sent against certain adherents of the Shogun who had fled there said: "We intend to take steps to reclaim and people the island." [235] It is doubtful if at that period the population was more than 60,000 [236] (including Ainu). [237]

When Count Kuroda was put at the head of the Colonial Government he went over to America and secured as his adviser-in-chief the chief of the Agricultural Department at Washington. Stock, seeds, fruit trees, implements and machinery, railway engines, buildings, practically everything was American in the early days of Hokkaido. During a ten-year period, in which forty-five American instructors were sent for, five Russians, four Britons, four Germans, three Dutchmen and a Frenchman were also imported. [238]

Governor Kuroda had a million yen placed at his disposal for ten years in succession, and a million yen was a big sum in those days. Before long there were flour mills, breweries, Page 336 beet-sugar factories, canning plants, lead and coal mining and silk manufacturing and an experiment in soldier colonisation which owed something to Russian experiments in Cossack farming. An agricultural school grew into a large agricultural college; and this agricultural college has lately become the University of Hokkaido, with nearly a thousand students. [239] How much of a pioneer Sapporo College was may be gathered from the fact that when I was in Hokkaido 67 out of the 140 men who were members of the faculty had been themselves taught there. Dean Sato (Japan's first exchange lecturer to American universities), Dr. Nitobe (Japanese Secretary of the League of Nations) and Kanzō Uchimura were among the first students. There have always been American professors at Sapporo—its first president came from Massachusetts—and the professorship of English has always been held by an American.

The 50 acres of elm-studded land in which the University buildings stand are a surprise, for the elm grows nowhere else in Japan but Hokkaido. [240] The extent of the University's landed possessions is also unexpected. There are two training farms of 185 and 260 acres respectively, beautifully kept botanic gardens, a tract of 15,000 acres on which there are already more than a thousand tenants, and 300,000 acres of forests in Hokkaido, Saghalien and Korea. Four or five times as many students as can be admitted offer themselves at Sapporo.

There is in Hokkaido an agricultural and rural life conceived for a country where stock may be kept and a farmer does not need to practise the superintensive farming of Old Japan. At the first University farm I looked over it was clear that not only American but Swedish, German and Swiss farming practice had had its influence. No longer was the farmer content with mattocks, hoes and flails. A silo dominated the scene, and maize, eaten from the cob in Page 337 Old Japan, was a crop for stock. [241] I also noticed crops of oats and rye.

I arrived in Hokkaido in the last week of August in a linen suit and was glad to put on a woollen one. By September 29 it was snowing. Snow-shoes were shown among the products of the island at the prefectural exhibition. Canadians have likened the climate of Hokkaido to that of Manitoba. Hokkaido is on the line of the Great Lakes, but the cold current from the North makes comparisons of this sort ineffective. It is only in southern Hokkaido that apples will grow. Thirty years ago wolves and bear were shot two miles from Sapporo and bear may still be found within ten miles.

The sea fisheries of Hokkaido are valuable but agriculture and forestry are greater money makers. Even without forestry agriculture is well ahead of factory industry, which is also eclipsed by mining. Industry is aided by the presence of coal. Among manufactures, brewing stands out even more conspicuously than wood-pulp making or canning. One of the three best-known beers in Japan comes from Hokkaido. [242] In contrast with the situation in Old Japan, where the land is half paddy and half upland, there is in Hokkaido only a ninth of the cultivated land under rice. [243] When I was in Hokkaido there were 600,000 chō under cultivation, a hundred and fifty times more than there were in 1873. The line marking the northern or rather the north-eastern limit of rice shows roughly a third of the island on the northern and eastern coasts to be at present beyond the skill of rice growers. There is always uncertainty with the rice crop in Hokkaido. As the growing period is short, half the rice is not transplanted but sown direct in the paddies. A bad crop is expected once in seven years. In such a season there is no yield and even the straw is not good.

Immigrants get 5 chō, but if they are without capital they first go to work as tenants. There are contractors in the Page 338 towns who supply labourers to farmers and factories at busy times. When newcomers have capital and are keen on rice growing and are families working without hired labour, they are strongly recommended not to devote more than 2-1\2 chō to rice—from 3 to 5 chō are the absolute limit—against 1-1\2 or 2 chō to other crops. When the holder of a 5-chō holding prospers he buys a second farm and more horses and implements, and hires labour for the busy period. But 10 or 15 chō is considered as much as can be worked in this way. If the area is more than 10 or 15 chō it is difficult to get labour in the busy season, for it is the busy season for everybody. Labourers from a distance can be got only at an unprofitable rate. It is first the lack of capital and then the lack of labour which prevents the farmer extending his holding. [244] The limit of practical mixed farming is 30 chō. (Stock farming is for milk rather than for meat, and more than one condensed-milk factory is in operation.) Even in Hokkaido large farming, as it is understood in Great Britain and America, is not easy to find. [245]

On my journey north from Sapporo the first thing which brought home to me the colonial character of the agriculture was the tree stumps sticking up in the paddies. The second was the extent to which the rivers were still uncontrolled. The longest river in Japan, 260 miles long, is in Hokkaido. There was obviously a vast moorland area in need of draining. Peat—there are 300,000 chō of it—may be a standby when the waste of timber that is going on brings about a shortage of fuel other than coal. From poor peat soil, which was growing oats, buckwheat and millet, we passed to land capable of producing rice, and saw ploughing with horses. One region had been opened for only twenty years, but already the farmers had cultivated the hillsides in the assiduous fashion of Old Japan.

From Ashigawa we made some excursions in a prim basha to places which were always several miles farther on than they were supposed to be and were usually reached by tracks covered with stones from 6 to 9 ins. long and having ruts a foot deep.

Page 339 We visited a large estate with 350 tenants who were mostly working 2½ chō, though some had twice as much. Nearly all of these tenants appeared to have one or two horses, although the estate manager had advised them to use oxen or cows as more economical draught animals. When I remembered the distance the farmers were from the town and the state of the roads, and noticed the satisfaction which the men we passed displayed in being able to ride, it was easy to believe that the possession of a horse might have its value as a means of social progress. During the last ten years half the tenants had made enough to enable them to buy farms. The tenants on this estate had two temples and one shrine. [246]

I visited a fifteen-years-old co-operative alcohol factory with a capital of 300,000 yen. Of its materials 80 per cent. seemed to be potato starch waste and 20 per cent. maize. The product was 6,000 or 7,000 koku of alcohol. The dividend was 8 per cent. On the waste a large number of pigs was fed. The animals were kept in pens with boarded floors within a small area, and I was not surprised to learn that three or four died every month. Starch making, which produces the waste used by the alcohol factory, is managed on quite a small scale. An outfit may cost no more than 30 or 50 yen. I went over a small peppermint-making plant. Most of the peppermint raised in Japan—it reaches a value of 2 million yen—is grown in Hokkaido.

One day in the eastern part of the island I met in a small hotel, which was run by a man and his wife who had been in America, several old farmers who had obviously made money. They declared that formerly only 20 per cent. of the colonists succeeded, but now the proportion was more than 65 per cent. I imagine that they meant by success that the colonists did really well, for it was added that it was rare in that district for people to return to Old Japan. One of the company said that not more than 5 per cent. returned. "Land is too expensive at home," he continued; "when a Japanese comes here and gets some, he works hard." Page 340 A good man, they said, should make, after four or five years, 70 to 100 yen clear profit in a year.

I rather suspect that the men I talked with had made some of their money by advancing funds to their neighbours on mortgage. They all seemed to own several farms. When I asked how religion prospered in Hokkaido they said with a smile, "There are many things to do here, so there is no spare time for religion as in our native places." There is a larger proportion of Christians in Hokkaido than on the mainland. One village of a thousand inhabitants contained two churches and a Salvation Army barracks. It was reputed, also, to have eight or ten "waitresses" and five saké shops. It is said that a good deal of shochu, which is stronger than saké, is drunk.

The roughest basha ride I made was to a place seven miles from railhead in the extreme north-east. Such roads as we adventured by are little more than tracks with ditches on either side. The journey back, because there were no horses to ride, we made in a narrow but extraordinarily heavy farm wagon with wheels a foot wide and drawn by a stallion. Shortly after starting there was a terrific thunderstorm which soaked us and hastened uncomfortably the pace of the animal in the shafts. When the worst of the downpour was over, and we had faced the prospect of slithering about the wagon for the rest of the journey, for the stallion had decided to hurry, a farmer's wife asked us for a lift and clambered in with agility. My companion and I were then sitting in a soggy state with our backs against the wagon front and our legs outstretched resignedly. The cheery farmer's wife, who was wet too, plopped down between us and, as the bumps came, gripped one of my legs with much good fellowship. She was a godsend by reason of her plumpness, for we were now wedged so tight that we no longer rocked and pitched about the wagon at each jolt. And no doubt we dried more quickly. Providence had indeed been good to us, for shortly afterwards we passed, lying on its side in a spruit, the basha that had carried us on our outward journey.

We were three hours in all in the wagon. Our passenger told us that her husband had several farms and that they Page 341 were very comfortably off and very glad that they had come to Hokkaido. When the farmer's wife had to alight a mile from our destination we chose to walk. Bad roads are a serious problem for the Hokkaido farmer. In one district, only fifteen miles from the capital, they are so bad that rice is at half the price it makes in Sapporo. It is unfortunate that the roads are at their worst in autumn and spring when the farmer wants to transport his produce.

I visited the 700-acre settlement which Mr. Tomeoka has opened in connection with his Tokyo institution for the reclamation of young wastrels. His formula is, "Feed them well, work them hard and give them enough sleep." Among the volumes on his shelves there were three books about Tolstoy and another three, one English, one American and one German, all bearing the same title, The Social Question. Needless to say that Self-Help had its place.

I liked Mr. Tomeoka's idea of an open-air chapel on a tree-shaded height from which there was a fine view. It reminded me of the view from an open space on rising ground near the famous Danish rural high school of Askov, from which, on Sundays, parties of excursionists used to look down enviously on Slesvig and irritate the Germans by singing Danish national songs. Mr. Tomeoka believed in better houses and better food for farmers and in money raised by means of the —"the rules and regulations of co-operative societies are too complicated for farmers to understand."

I saw the huts of some settlers who had weathered their first Hokkaido winter. Buckwheat, scratched in in open spaces among the trees, was the chief crop. The huts consisted of one room. Most of the floor was raised above the ground and covered with rough straw matting. In the centre of the platform was the usual fire-hole. The walls were matting and brushwood. I was assured that "the snow and good fires, for which there is unlimited fuel, keep the huts warm."

The railway winds through high hills and makes sharp curves and steep ascents and descents. There are tracts of rolling country under rough grass. Sometimes these Page 342 areas have been cleared by forest fires started by lightning. Wide spaces are a great change from the scenery of closely farmed Japan. The thing that makes the hillsides different from our wilder English and Scottish hillsides is that there are neither sheep nor cattle on them.

When the culpable destruction of timber in Hokkaido is added to what has been lost by forest fires, due to lightning or to accident—one conflagration was more than 200 acres in extent—it is easy to realise that the rivers are bringing far more water and detritus from the hills than they ought to do and are preparing flood problems with which it will cost millions to cope when the country gets more closely settled. It is deplorable that, apart from needless burning on the hillsides, the farmers have not been dissuaded from completely clearing their arable land of trees. On many holdings there is not even a clump left to shelter the farmhouse and buildings. In not a few districts the colonists have created treeless plains. In place after place the once beautiful countryside is now ugly and depressing.


[232] The word used by people in Hokkaido for the main island, Hondo or Honshu (Hon, main; do or shu, land), is Naichi (interior).

[233] From Aomori on the mainland to Hakodate in Hokkaido is a 50-miles sea trip. Then comes a long night journey to Sapporo, during which one passes between two active volcanoes. The sea trip is 50 miles because a large part of the route taken by the steamer is through Aomori Bay. The nearest part of Hokkaido to the mainland is a little less than the distance between Dover and Calais.

[234] Foreigners sometimes confound Yezo (Hokkaido) with Yedo, the old name for Tokyo.

[235] A sixth of Hokkaido still belongs to the Imperial Household. In 1918 it decided to sell forest and other land (parts of Japan not stated) to the value of 100 million yen. In 1917 the Imperial estates were estimated at 18¾ million chō of forest and 22¼ million chō of "plains," that is tracts which are not timbered nor cultivated nor built on.

[236] In 1919 it was 2,137,700.

[237] Considerations of space compel the holding over of a chapter on the Ainu for another volume.

[238] Of the 96 foreign instructors in institutions "under the direct control" of the Tokyo Department of Education in 1917-18, there were 27 British, 22 German, 19 American and 12 French.

[239] Hokkaido is one of five Imperial universities. There are in addition several well-known private universities.

[240] Grouse are also to be found in Hokkaido, but no pheasants and no monkeys. The deep Tsugaru Strait marks an ancient geological division between Hokkaido and the mainland.

[241] It is sometimes eaten, ground to a rough meal, with rice. The argument is that maize is two thirds the price of rice and more easily digested.

[242] See Appendix XXXVII.

[243] The latest figures for Hokkaido show only a tenth.

[244] For farmers' incomes, see Appendix XIII.

[245] For sizes of farms, see Appendix LXIV.

[246] For a tenant's contract, see Appendix LXV.



Page 343



Bon yori shoko (Proof, not argument)

One day in Tokyo I heard a Japanese who was looking at a photograph of a British woman War-worker feeding pigs ask if the animals were sheep. Sheep are so rare in Japan that an old ram has been exhibited at a country fair as a lion. In contrast with Western agriculture based on live stock we have in Japan an agriculture based on rice. [247] But a section of the Japanese agricultural world turns its eyes longingly to mixed farming, and so, when I returned to Sapporo from my trip to the north of Hokkaido, I was taken to see a Government stock farm—with a smoking volcano in the background. Hokkaido has four other official farms, one belonging to the Government and one for raising horses for the army. I was shown, in addition to horses, Ayrshire, Holstein and Brown Swiss cattle, Berkshire and Yorkshire pigs and Southdown and Shropshire sheep in good buildings. I noticed two self-binders and a hay loader and I beheld for the first time in Japan a dairymaid and collies—one was of a useless show type.

The extent to which the knack of looking after animals and a liking for them can be developed is an interesting question. Experts in stock-keeping with generations of experience behind them will agree that it is on the answer to this question that the success or non-success of the Japanese in animal industry in no small measure depends.

I have a note of a discussion on the general treatment of domestic animals in Japan in the course of which it was admitted that they were "certainly not treated as well as in most parts of Europe, or as in China." One reason given Page 344 was that "most sects believe in the reincarnation of the wicked in the form of animals." The freedom which dogs enjoyed in English houses seemed strange; my friends no doubt forgot that Western houses have no tatami to be preserved. It was contended, however, that cavalry soldiers "often weep on parting from their horses" and that "people with knowledge of animals are fond of them." I have myself seen farmers' wives in tears at a horse fair when the foals they had reared were to be sold and the animals in their timidity nuzzled them. Westerners who are familiar with the exquisite and humoursome studies of animal, bird and insect life by Japanese artists of the past and present day, [248] are in no doubt that such work was prompted by real knowledge and love of the "lower creation." The Japanese have a keen appreciation of the "song" of an amazing variety of "musical" insects—there are 20,000 kinds of insects. It is an appreciation not vouchsafed to the foreigner whose nerves are racked by the insistent bizz of the semi or cicada—there are 38 kinds of cicada. Everyone will recall Hearn's chapter on the trade in "singing insects."

One of my hosts in Aichi had two tiny cages which each contained one of these creatures. The cages were hung from the eaves. In the evening when the stone lantern in the garden was lit, and it was desired to give an illusion of greater coolness after a hot day a servant was sent up to the roof to pour down a tubful of water in order to produce the dripping sound of rain; and this at once set the caged insects chirping.

The sensitive foreigner is distressed by the way in which newly born puppies and kittens are thrown out to die because their Buddhist owners are too scrupulous to kill them. The stranger's feelings are also worked on by the unhappy demeanour and uncared-for look of dogs and cats. On chancing to enter in a Japanese city an English home where there were three dogs I could not but mark Page 345 how they contrasted in bearing and appearance with the generality of the animals I had seen. Yet these dogs were all mongrel foundlings which had been abandoned near my friend's house or dropped into her garden. No doubt most Japanese dogs suffer from having too much rice—and polished at that—and practically no bones. An excuse for the neglect of cats is that they scratch woodwork and tatami and insist on carrying their food into the best room.

Horses are often overloaded and mercilessly driven on hilly roads. [249] On the other hand, carters lead their horses. It might be added that the coolies who haul and push handcarts bearing enormous loads never spare themselves. I was told more than once of people who had been too tenderhearted to make an end of old horses. I also heard of hens which had been allowed to live on until they died of old age. In some mountain communities it is the custom, when a chicken must be killed for a visitor's meal, for an exchange of birds to be made with a neighbour in order that the killing may not be too painful for the owner.[250]

Except in hotels and stores in Tokyo and the cities which cater for foreigners, one seldom sees such an animal product as cheese. On the Government farm I found excellent cheese and butter being made. Untravelled Japanese have the dislike of the smell of cheese that Western people have of the stench of boiling daikon. Nor is cheese the only alien food with which the ordinary Japanese has a difficulty. The smell of mutton is repugnant to him and he has yet to acquire a taste for milk. The demand for milk is increasing, however. The guide books are quite out of date. Nearly all the milk ordinarily sold for foreigners Page 346 and invalids is supplied sterilised in bottles. On the platforms of the larger railway stations bottles of milk are vended from a copper container holding hot water. In places where I have been able to obtain bread I have usually had no difficulty in getting milk. (The word for bread, pan, has been in the language since the coming of the Portuguese, and all over Japan one finds sponge cake, kasutera, a word from the Spanish.) Butter in country hotels is usually rancid, for the reason, I imagine, that it is carelessly handled and kept too long and that few Japanese know the taste of good butter. The development of a liking for bread and butter is obviously one of the conditions of the establishment of a successful animal industry. Condensed milk is sold in large quantities, but chiefly to supplement infants' supplies and to make sweetstuff. The 1919 production was estimated at 57 million tins.

One argument for an animal industry is that with an increasing population the fish supply will not go so far as it has done. It is said that fish are not to be found in as large quantities as formerly. Another argument is that the national imports include many products of animal industry which might be advantageously produced at home. Not only is more milk, condensed and fresh, being consumed: with the adoption of foreign clothes in professional and business life and in the army and navy, more and more wool is being worn [251] and more and more leather is needed for the boots which are being substituted for geta and also for service requirements. It is contended that for the emancipation of Japanese agriculture from the petite culture stage it is essential that a larger number of draught oxen and horses shall be used. It is equally important, it is suggested, that more manure shall be made on the farms, so that a limit shall be placed on the outlay on imported fertilisers. Finally there are those who urge that the Japanese should be better fed and that better feeding can only be brought about by an increased consumption of animal products. [252]

Page 347 The possibilities of outdoor stock keeping in Hokkaido are limited by the fact that snow lies from November to the middle of February and in the north of the island to the end of March. A high agricultural authority did not think that the number of cattle in all Japan could be raised to more than two million within twenty years. [253]

In the management of sheep—there were about 5,000 in the whole country when I was in Hokkaido—there has been failure after failure, but it is held that the prospects for sheep in Hokkaido are promising. (The question is discussed in the next Chapter.) At present, owing to the lack of a market for mutton, pigs, which used to be kept in the days before Buddhism exerted its influence, seem more attractive to experimenting farmers than sheep. No one has proposed that sheep should be kept in ones and twos for milking as in Holland. [254] When milk is needed it is said that goats, of which there are more than 90,000 in Japan, are desirable stock, but I doubt whether more than 500 of these goats are milked. [255] They are kept to produce meat. Some people hope that those who eat goat's flesh will come to realise the superiority of mutton.

The case for pigs is that sweet potatoes and squash can be fed to them, that they produce frequent litters, that pork is more and more appreciated, and that there are 300,000 of them in the country already. Some confident experts who have possibly been influenced by the large consumption of pork in China argue that pork may become equally popular in Japan. There are two bacon factories not far from Tokyo.

As in other countries, the argument for doing away with foreign imports is pushed in Japan to ridiculous lengths. Japan, which aims above all at being an exporting country, cannot attain her desire without receiving imports to pay for Page 348 her exports. [256] The physiological argument for an animal industry is unconvincing. The Japanese have a long dietetic history as vegetarians who eat a little fish and a few eggs. There exists in Japan an exceptionally ingenious variety of nitrogenous foods derived from the vegetable kingdom, and the Japanese have become accustomed to digest vegetable protein. [257] It might be suggested, with some show of reason, that in this matter of the adoption of a meat dietary the Japanese are once more under the influence of foreign ideas which are a little out of date. [258] In Europe and America there is evidence of a decreasing meat consumption among educated people, and medical papers are full of counsels to diminish the amount of meat consumed. There is also in the West an increasing sensitiveness to the horrors inflicted on animals in transportation by rail and steamer, and if an animal industry were established in Japan there would certainly be a great deal of transportation by rail and steamer from the breeding to the rearing districts, and from these districts to the slaughtering centres. If the present advocacy of an animal industry for Japan should triumph over the reluctance to take animal life inculcated by Buddhism it is hardly likely to be regarded in the West as a forward step in the ethical evolution of the Japanese. [259]

I had the good fortune to meet in Sapporo a man who Page 349 has made a special study of the food of the Japanese people, Professor Morimoto of the University. He said that he had no doubt that when the Japanese began to eat bread instead of rice they would develop a taste for meat as well as butter. With great kindness he placed at my disposal statistics which he afterwards expanded in a thesis for Johns Hopkins University. He had investigated the dietary of the families of 200 tenants of the University farms. Reduced to terms of men per day the result was:

Rice (1.95 go)4.2 
(Naked) barley (3.45 go)3.3 
Pickles[260] .6 
Shoyu (soy).03

Or at Tokyo prices, 14.3 sen. On averaging, in terms of per man per day, the food and drink consumption of all Japan, Professor Morimoto found the result to be:

Fish and seaweeds.54   
Beef and veal.10 } 
Other animal food.03 } 
Chicken.03 }.33
Eggs.13 } 
Milk.04 } 
Alcoholic liquor1.50   
  13.04   [261]

The Professor compares with these totals the 34.4 sen and 39.3 sen per day which seem to represent the cost of the food of the rank and file in the navy and army, and three Page 350 standards of diet issued by the official Bureau of Hygiene providing for expenditures of 32.1 sen, 33 sen and 44.4 sen respectively. (All the prices I have cited are dated 1915.) Beef and pork as well as fish are used in the army and navy. The navy also uses bread.

Professor Morimoto estimates that a Japanese may be fairly expected to consume only 80 per cent. of what a foreigner needs, for the average weight of Japanese is only 13 kwan 830 momme to the European's 17 kwan 20 momme.

My personal impression, which I give merely for what it is worth, for I have made no investigation of the subject, is that, though Japanese may thrive on meagre fare, they eat large quantities of food when their resources permit of indulgence. The common ailment seems to be "stomach ache." This may be due to eating at irregular hours, to an unbalanced dietary, to the eating of undercooked viands or to occasional over-eating, or to all of these causes. [262] Undoubtedly there is much room for dietetic reform.

Professor Morimoto had come to the conclusion "that there is under-feeding, largely due to a bad choice of foods, that the relation of the nutritive value of foods to their cost is insufficiently studied and that cooking can be improved." It is of course an old criticism of the Japanese table that food is either imperfectly cooked or prepared too much with a view to appearance. The Professor's finding was that the Japanese need the addition of meat and bread to their dietary. As far as meat is concerned he did not convince me. Let me quote him on the soy bean: "It is a remarkably good substitute for meat. It is very low in price but its nutritive value is very high. The essential element of miso, tofu and shoyu is soy bean." Bread is another matter. The Japanese Navy, presumably Page 351 because it may find itself far from Japan, has accustomed its sailors to eat bread, and a case can certainly be made out for the general population not relying on rice as a grain food. But, as the large quantities of barley eaten show, there is no such reliance now. Morimoto urged that while there might be no difference in the nutritive value of wheat and rice, rice as usually eaten induced "abnormal distension of the stomach and poor nutrition." Again, wheat was a world crop, [263] whereas rice, owing to the Japanese objection to foreign rice, was a local crop. If the Japanese were users of wheat as well as of rice they would not have to pay so much for food, when, on the failure of the rice crop in considerable parts of Japan, the price of rice was high. "The consumption is about 10 million bushels more than the production." Further, rice was more costly in cultivation than wheat, and its production could not be increased so as to keep pace with the increase in population. The yield, which was 46 million koku in 1904, was only 50 millions in 1912; and 65 millions in 1927 seemed an excessive estimate. In 1912 the importation of rice was 2 million koku. But on all these points the reader should take note of the data on page 84 and in Appendices XXIV and XXV.

The Professor's concluding point against rice was that it was expensive to prepare. The washing of the rice in a succession of waters and the cleaning of the sticky pot in which it was cooked and of the equally sticky tub in which it was served took a great deal of time. Then in order to cook rice properly—and the Japanese have become connoisseurs—the exact proportion of water must be gauged. The supplies of rice to be cooked were so considerable that the name of the servant lass was "girl to boil the rice." But when bread was used instead of rice, said the Professor jubilantly, a baking twice a week would do. Why, an hour a day might be saved, which in twenty years would be 73,000 hours, or a whole year, and, reckoning women's labour as worth 5 sen an hour, that would be a saving of 565 yen!


[247] For statistics of cultivated area and live stock, see Appendix LXVI.

[248] One thinks of Takeuchi Seiho who lives in Kyoto, of Toba Sojo (11th century) for monkeys, frogs and bullocks, and in the Tokugawa period of Okio for dogs and carp, of Jakchū for fowls and birds, of Hasegawa Tohaku and Sosen for monkeys, of Kawanabe Kyosai for crows, and of Kesai and Hokusai for birds, fish and insects.

[249] Nevertheless it is well not to be hasty in judgment. On the day on which this footnote was written, April 7, 1921, I find the following items in the Daily Mail. On page 4 the Attorney-General regrets that the law tolerates the "cruel practice" by which 30 pigeons were killed or injured at a certain pigeon-shooting competition and expresses inability to bring in legislation. On page 5, col. 2, an M.P. is reported as mentioning a case in which a puppy had been kicked to death and as asking the Home Secretary whether the law imposing imprisonment for a short term could not be strengthened. On the same page, col. 5, a railway porter is reported as having been fined for flinging three small calves into a farm cart by the tails.

[250] For poultry statistics, see Appendix LXVII.

[251] Before the extensive use of yofuku (foreign clothes) the dress of Japanese men and women was entirely of cotton and silk or of cotton only. Much of the material from which yofuku are made is no doubt cotton.

[252] See Appendix LXVIII.

[253] The number of cattle, which was 1,342,587 in 1916, was only 1,307,120 in 1918. See also Appendix LXVI.

[254] For photographs and particulars of the milk sheep, see my Free Farmer in a Free State.

[255] The value of the well-bred and well-cared-for goat as a milk and manure producer is underestimated. The problem of keeping goats in such a way that they shall not be destructive and shall yield the maximum of manure is discussed in my Case for the Goat.

[256] This question as it affects an agricultural country is discussed in A Free Farmer in a Free State.

[257] There is a consensus of scientific opinion that "non-meat eating" races such as the Japanese have longer alimentary tracts than flesh-eating Europeans. It is difficult to be precise on the subject, an eminent Western surgeon tells me, for bowels are as contractile as worms, which at one minute measure 100 units in length and the next minute have shortened to 30. So much depends on the state at death.

[258] On the other hand, the Japanese have taken up many new things at the point which we in the West have only recently reached. They begin to produce milk and supply it, not in the milkman's pail, but in sterilised bottles. They abandon candles and lamps and, practically skipping gas, adopt electric light or power. The capital invested in electric enterprises in 1919 was about 700 million yen or seven times that invested in gas.

[259] There is one blameless form of stock keeping which is developing in Hokkaido. Bees, which have still to make their way in Old Japan, are now 6,000 hives strong in the northern island, though a start was made only six or seven years ago.

[260] It is illustrative of the extent to which pickle is consumed in Japan that a family in Sapporo was found to have eaten no fewer than 283 daikon in a year.

[261] The reader must put away the impression which this table gives of a varied dietary. Few Japanese have such a range of food. The average man habitually lives on rice, bean products (tofu, bean jelly and miso, soft bean cheese), pickles, vegetables, tea, a little fish and sometimes eggs. People of narrow means see little of eggs and not much fish, unless it be katsubushi.

[262] The watering of vegetables with liquid manure, the usual practice of the Japanese farmer, and the pollution of the paddies make salads and insufficiently cooked green stuff dangerous and many water supplies of questionable purity. Great efforts have been made to provide safe tap water from the hills. Intestinal parasites are common. The build of the Japanese makes for strength, but in the urban areas there is much absence from work on the plea of ill-health. Both in Japan and in England I have been struck by the fact that when I made an excursion with an urban Japanese he often tired before I did, and on none of these trips was I in anything like first-class condition.

[263] Many Japanese look forward to a great production of wheat on the north-eastern Asiatic mainland under Japanese auspices. In considering imports of wheat it should be remembered that some of it is used in soy and macaroni.



Page 352



"God damn all foreigners!"—Interrupter at one of Mr. Gladstone's early meetings at Oxford

When I was in Hokkaido sheep were being experimented with at different places on the mainland, investigators and sheep buyers had gone off to Australia, New Zealand and South America, and a Tokyo Sheep Bureau of two dozen officials had been established. Great hopes were built on a few hundred sheep in Hokkaido. [265] But I noticed that Government farm sheep were under cover on a warm September day. Also I heard of trouble with two well-known sheep ailments. There was talk nevertheless of the day when there would be a million sheep in Hokkaido, perhaps three millions. On the mainland I also met high officials and enthusiastic prefectural governors who dreamed dreams of sheep farming in Old Japan, where land is costly, farms small, agriculture intensive, grazing ground to seek, and farmland necessarily damp. This sheep keeping is conceived as one animal or perhaps two on a holding as rather unhappy by-products. The notion is that the wool and manure of a sheep would meet the expense of its keep and that the mutton would be profit. Hopes of an extension of sheep breeding resting on such a basis seem to be extravagant. One high authority told me that it would take twenty or thirty years to develop sheep keeping.

The sheep at present in Japan are not living in natural conditions. They feed on cultivated crops. Sheep could hardly live a week on natural Japanese pasture. The wild herbage is full of the sharp bamboo grass. In the Page 353 summer much of the eatable herbage dries up. Not only must sheep endure the summer heat and insects; they must survive the trying rainy season. But they must do more than merely endure and survive. In order to produce good wool it is necessary that they shall be in good condition. The hair of one's head immediately shows the effect of imperfect nutrition or unhealthy conditions, and it is the same with the wool on the back of the sheep.

It is said that the quality of the wool on the sheep kept in Japan depreciates. However this may be, it is plain that sheep breeding must be conducted on a large scale in order to produce wool in commercial quantities and of even quality. Some notion of the land normally required for sheep may be estimated from the fact that Australian pasture carries no more than four sheep per acre. [266]

An improvement of Japanese herbage sufficient to fit it for sheep would be a heavy task even in small areas. It is not only the herbage but the rocks below it which are all wrong for sheep, if we are to judge by the geological formations on which sheep flourish in the West. If the sheep were put on cultivated land [267] or placed on straw as I saw them in Hokkaido there would be serious risks of foot rot. No doubt there would also be insect pests to control. If Japan set up sheep keeping she would no doubt have to devise her own special breed of sheep, for the well-known Western breeds are artificial products. Probably the experiments which are being made in China with sheep at an earlier stage of development are proceeding on the right lines. I have already spoken of the fact that a Japanese taste for mutton has yet to be cultivated.

This is a formidable list of difficulties confronting the new Governmental Sheep Bureau. No doubt much may be done by a large expenditure of money and much patience. The Japanese have wrought marvels before by spending money and having a large stock of patience. Account must also be taken of the spirit reflected in the speech made to me Page 354 by a Japanese friend when I read the foregoing paragraph to him:

"But we are keen to try. If there were no necessity to prepare for war, when we must have wool for soldiers, sailors and officials, we might rely on Australia and elsewhere and hope to improve the inferior and dirty Chinese wool. But thinking of the disease prevailing in Northern Manchuria and of service needs, we want to try sheep keeping with some subsidy in Hokkaido and on the mainland in Northern Aomori where there is much dry wild land and the farmers are often miserable—there are villages where the people do not wash. We might provide some of the wool needed by Japan. We have practically met our needs in sugar, though of course our needs are small compared with England and America."

Let us turn from the sheep problem to the factory problem. What are the difficulties of the woollen industry? In the first place, as we have seen, there is no home supply of wool worth mentioning. Further, there is the intricacy of woollen manufacture. Cotton machinery has been brought to such a pitch of perfection for every operation and there are in existence so many technical manuals for every department of cotton manufacture that a certain standardisation of output is not difficult. The problem of woollen manufacture is much more complicated. The output cannot be similarly standardised, and there are many directions in which originality, self-reliance and experience come into play decisively.

In the woollen districts of Great Britain the operatives are people who have been in the trade all their lives, whose parents and grandparents have been in the trade before them. There is not only an hereditary aptitude but an hereditary interest. There is not only an individual interest but an interest of the whole community. The welfare of a town or city is wrapped up in the woollen industry. This is not so in Japan. The mill workers in the Tokyo prefecture, for example, come from remote parts of Japan, and the girls—and three-quarters of the employees of the woollen industry are girls—are merely on a three-years contract. The girls arrive absolutely inexperienced. Even in England Page 355 it is considered that it takes two or three years to make a worker skilful. Within the three-years period for which the Japanese mill girls or their parents contract, as many as 30 per cent. leave the mills and, appalling fact, from 20 to 25 per cent. die. [268] Not more than 10 per cent. renew their three-years contract. Therefore there is, at present at any rate, little real skilled labour in the factories. Another difficulty is the absence of skilful wool sorters. Even before the War a good wool sorter commanded in England from £3 to £4 a week. One of the things which hampers the Japanese woollen industry is the prevalence of illness at the factories. They must have, in consequence, about 25 per cent. more labour than is needed.

Generally one would say that the industry at its present stage is not only weak on the labour side, [269] but, where it is efficient, is skilful rather in imitation than in original design. Everything produced is an imitation of foreign designs. That is not an unnatural state of things, however, at the commencement of a new industry.

With regard to the old complaint of Japanese goods failing to come up to sample, the shortcoming is often due not to intentional dishonesty but simply to inability to produce a uniform product. In one factory an order had to be filled by bringing together work from 300 different places. The first delivery of the cloth produced for the Russian army was like the sample, but the later deliveries, though of excellent material, were not, for the simple reason that the precise raw materials for the required blending did not exist in Japan.

One of the marvels of the industry is the high prices obtained in Japan. The best winter serge was selling in England before the War at 8s. a yard. The Japanese price for winter serge was from 5 to 6 yen. Before the War it was possible to import cloth at 50 per cent. less than the local rates. Nevertheless there seemed to be a market for everything. Japanese cloth lacks finish but it is made out of good materials and will wear. The factories are compelled to use a better quality of material in order to get anywhere near the appearance of imported goods. A Page 356 foreign manufacturer, "owing to his skill in manufacture," as it was once explained to me, may produce a cloth of a certain quality containing only 10 per cent. new wool: the Japanese manufacturer, in order to produce a comparable article must use 30 per cent. new wool. Obviously this means that the Japanese factory must charge higher prices.

In considering the position of the industry it is natural to ask how it would be affected if the Japanese factories were able to draw more largely upon Manchuria for wool. The answer is that the sheep in Manchuria at present yield what is called "China" wool, which is suitable only for blankets and coarse cloth.

To some who feel a sympathy for Japan in her present stage of industrial development and are inclined to take long views it may seem a pity that she should contemplate making such a radical change in her national habits as is represented by the demand for woollen materials and for meat. Japanese dress, easy, hygienic and artistic though it is, and admirably suited for wearing in Japanese dwellings, is ill adapted for modern business life, not to speak of factory conditions. But it has not yet been demonstrated that Japan is under the necessity of substituting, to so large an extent as she evidently contemplates doing, woollen for cotton and silk clothing, and Western clothing for her own characteristic raiment. [270] The cotton padded garment and bed cover are both warm and clean. It is odd that this new demand on the part of Japan for woollen material should coincide with movements in Europe and America to utilise more cotton, for underclothing at any rate. There is undoubtedly a hygienic case of a certain force against wool. The same is true of meat. It may well be that the dietary of many Japanese has not been sufficiently nutritious, but much of the meat-eating which is now being indulged in seems to be due more to an aping of foreign ways than to physical requirements. The more meat Page 357 Japan eats and the more she dresses herself in wool the more she places herself under the control of the foreigner. [271] Whatever degree of success may attend sheep breeding within the limits imposed upon it by physical conditions in Japan, the raw material of the woollen industry must be mostly a foreign product. As far as meat is concerned, it is difficult to believe that while the agriculture of Japan is based upon rice production there is room for the production of meat on a large scale. If the meat and wool are to be produced in Manchuria and Mongolia we shall see what we shall see. The significance of the experiment of the Manchuria Railway Company since 1913 in crossing merino and Mongolian sheep and the work which is being done on the sheep runs of Baron Okura in Mongolia cannot be overlooked. Ten years hence it will be interesting to examine industrially and socially the position of the woollen industry [272] and the animal industry in Japan and on the mainland, and the net gain that the country has made.


[264] Yofuku means foreign clothes.

[265] In 1920 there were 8,219 sheep in Japan, including 945 in Hokkaido.

[266] A sheep produces about 7 lbs. of wool in the year. But this is the unscoured weight. In Japan, an expert assured me, it would not reach more than 56 to 60 per cent. when scoured.

[267] "To-day sheep cannot, be kept on arable to leave any reward to the farmer."—Country Life, August 20, 1921.

[268] See Appendix LXIX.

[269] See Appendix LXX.

[270] An immense amount of silk is used in Japanese men's clothing. The kimono, except the cheaper summer kind and the bath kimono (yukata), which are cotton, is silk. So are the hakama (divided skirt) and the haori (overcoat). Japanese women's clothes are largely silk. The dress of working people is cotton, but even they have some silk clothing.

[271][271] "By degrees they proceeded to all the stimulations of banqueting which was indeed part of their bondage."—Tacitus on the Britons under Roman influence.

[272] The industry has already made on the London market an impression of competence in some directions. For production and exports, see Appendix LXX.



Page 358



Concerning these things, they are not to be delivered but from much intercourse and discussion.—Plato

Emigrants do not willingly seek a climate worse than their own. This is one of the reasons why the development of Hokkaido has not been swifter. The island is not much farther from the mainland than Shikoku, but it is near, not the richest and warmest part of the mainland, but the poorest and the coldest. If we imagine another Scotland lying off Cape Wrath, at the distance of Ireland from Scotland, and with a climate corresponding to the northerly situation of such a supposititious island, we may realise how remoteness and climatic limitations have hindered the progress of Hokkaido.

"Our mode of living is not suited to the colder climate," an agricultural professor said to me. "Poor emigrants do not have money enough to build houses with stoves and properly fitting windows."

To what extent the modified farming methods rendered necessary by the Hokkaido climate have had a deterring effect on would-be settlers I do not know. It has never been demonstrated that the Japanese farmer prefers arduous amphibious labour to the dry-land farming in which most of the world's land workers are engaged; but the cultivation of paddy or a large proportion of paddy is his traditional way of farming. Rice culture also means to him the production of the crop which, when weather conditions favour, is more profitable than any other. In Hokkaido, as we have seen, the remunerative kind of agriculture is mixed farming, and, in a large part of the country, rice cannot be grown at all. Against objections to Hokkaido on the ground of the strangeness of its farming Page 359 may probably be set, however, the cheapness of land there.

An undoubted hindrance to the colonisation of Hokkaido has been land scandals and land grabbing. Many of what the late Lord Salisbury called the "best bits" are in the hands of big proprietors or proprietaries. Some large landowners no doubt show public spirit. But their class has contrived to keep farmers from getting access to a great deal of land which, because of its quality and nearness to practicable roads and the railway, might have been worked to the best advantage. In various parts of Japan I heard complaints. "The land system in Hokkaido," one man in Aichi said to me, "is so queer that land cannot be got by the families needing it, I mean good land." Again in Shikoku I was assured that "the most desirable parts of the Hokkaido are in the hands of capitalists who welcome tenants only." In more than one part of northern Japan I was told of emigrants to Hokkaido who had "returned dissatisfied." A charge made against the large holder of Hokkaido land is that he is an absentee and a city man who lacks the knowledge and the inclination to devote the necessary capital to the development of his estate. Of late the rise in the value of timber has induced not a few proprietors to interest themselves much more in stripping their land of trees than in developing its agricultural possibilities.

The development of Hokkaido may also have been slowed down to some extent by a lower level of education among the people than is customary on most of the mainland, by a rougher and less skilful farming than is common in Old Japan and by the existence of a residuum which would rather "deal" or "let George do it" or cheat the Ainu than follow the laborious colonial life. But no cause has been more potent than a lack of money in the public treasury. I was told that for five years in succession Tokyo had cut down the Hokkaido budget. Necessary public work and schemes for development have been repeatedly stopped. At a time when the interests of Hokkaido demand more farmers and there is a general complaint of lack of labour, at a time when there are Page 360 persistent pleas for oversea expansion, there are in Japan twice or thrice as many people applying for land in the island as are granted entry. The blunt truth is that the State has felt itself compelled to spend so much on military and naval expansion that the claims of Hokkaido for the wherewithal for better roads, more railway line and better credit have often been put aside. [273]

One thing is certain, that slow progress in the development of Hokkaido gives an opening to the critics of Japan who doubt whether her need for expansion beyond her own territory is as pressing as is represented by some writers. However this may be, Hokkaido is stated to take only a tenth of the overplus of the population of Old Japan. The number of emigrants in 1913 was no larger than the number in 1906. A usual view in Hokkaido is that the island can hold twice as many people as it now contains. "When 3,625,000 acres are brought into cultivation," says an official publication, "Hokkaido will be able easily to maintain 5,000,000 inhabitants on her own products."

Very much of what has been achieved in Hokkaido has been done under the stimulating influence of the Agricultural College, now the University. The northern climate seems to be conducive to mental vigour in both professors and students. If in moving about Hokkaido one is conscious of a somewhat materialistic view of progress it may be remembered that an absorption in "getting on" is characteristic of colonists and their advisers everywhere. It is not high ideals of life but bitter experience of inability to make a living on the mainland which has brought immigrants to Hokkaido. As time goes on, the rural and industrial development may have a less sordid look. [274] At Page 361 present the visitor who lacks time to penetrate into the fastnesses of Hokkaido and enjoy its natural beauties brings away the unhappy impression which is presented by a view of man's first assault on the wild.

But he must still be glad to have seen this distant part of Japan. He finds there something stimulating and free which seems to be absent from the older mainland. It is possible that when Hokkaido shall have worked out her destiny she may not be without her influence on the development of Old Japan. Those of the settlers who are reasonably well equipped in character, wits and health are not only making the living which they failed to obtain at home; they are testing some national canons of agriculture. Face to face with strangers and with new conditions, these immigrants are also examining some ideals of social life and conduct which, old though they are, may not be perfectly adapted to the new age into which Japan has forced herself. One evening in Hokkaido I saw a lone cottage in the hills. At its door was the tall pole on which at the Bon season the lantern is hung to guide the hovering soul of that member of the family who has died during the year. The settler's lantern, steadily burning high above his hut, was an emblem of faith that man does not live by gain alone which the hardest toil cannot quench. In whatever guise it may express itself, it is the best hope for Hokkaido and Japan.

During my stay in the island I had an opportunity of meeting some of the most influential men from the Governor downwards; also several interesting visitors from the mainland. We often found ourselves getting away from Hokkaido's problems to the general problems of rural life.

Of the good influences at work in the village, the first I was once more assured, was "popular education and school ethics, a real influence and blessing." The second was "the disciplinary training of the army for Page 362 regularity of conduct." ("The influence of officers on their young soldiers is good, and they give them or provide them with lectures on agricultural subjects and allow them time to go in companies to experimental farms.")

Someone spoke of "the influence of the religion of the past." "The religion of the past!" exclaimed an elderly man; "in half a dozen prefectures it may be that religion is a rural force, but elsewhere in the Empire there is a lack of any moral code that takes deep root in the head. After all Christians are more trustworthy than people drinking and playing with geisha."

On the other hand a prominent Christian said: "There is a weakness in our Christians, generally speaking. There is an absence of a sound faith. The native churches have no strong influence on rural life. There is often a certain priggishness and pride in things foreign in saying, 'I am a Christian.'"

Another man spoke in this wise: "I have been impressed by some of the following of Uchimura. They seem ardent and real. But I have also been attracted by strength of character in members of various sects of Christians. The theology and phraseology of these men may be curious, may be in many respects behind the times, but their religion had a beautiful aspect. [275] Many of our people have got something of Christian ethics, but are no church-goers. Some Japanese try to combine Christian principles with old Japanese virtues; others with some soul supporting Buddhistic ideas. We must have Christianity if only to supply a great lack in our conception of personality. People who have accepted Christianity show so much more personality and so much more interest in social reform."

When we returned to agricultural conditions, one who spoke with authority said: "In Old Japan the agricultural system has become dwarfed. The individual cannot raise the standard of living nor can crops be substantially increased. The whole economy is too small. [276] The people Page 363 are too close on the ground. They must spread out to north-eastern Japan, to Hokkaido, Korea and Manchuria. The population of Korea could be greatly increased. There is an immense opening in Manchuria, which is four or five times the area of the Japanese Empire and sparsely populated. There is also Mongolia." [277]

"But in Korea," one who had been there said, "there are the Koreans, an able if backward people, to be considered—they will increase with the spread of our sanitary methods among a population which was reduced by a primitive hygiene and by maladministration. And as to our people going to the mainland of Asia, we do not really like to go where rice is not the agricultural staple, and we prefer a warm country. In Formosa, where it is warm, we are faced by the competition of the Chinese at a lower standard of life. [278] The perfect places for Japanese are California, New Zealand and Australia, but the Americans and Australasians won't have us. I do not complain; we do not allow Chinese labour in Japan. But we think that we might have had Australasia or New Zealand if we had not been secluded from the world by the Tokugawa régime, and so allowed you British to get there first. It is not strange that some of our dreamers should grudge you your place there, should cherish ideas of expansion by walking in your footsteps. But it is wisdom to realise that we cannot do to-day what might have been done centuries ago or make history repeat itself for our benefit. It is wiser to seek to reduce the amount of misapprehension, prejudice and—shall I say?—national feeling in Japan and America and Australasia, and try to procure ultimate accommodation for us all in that way. But not too much reduce, perhaps, for, in the present posture of the world, nationalist Page 364 feeling and—we do not want premature inter-marriage—racial feeling are still valuable to mankind."

A speaker who followed said: "Remember to our credit how our area under cultivation in Old Japan continually increases. [279] Bear in mind, too, what good use we have made of the land we have been able to get under cultivation—so many thousand more chō of crops than there are chō of land, due, of course, to the two or three crops a year system in many areas." [280]

"As for the situation the emigrants [281] leave behind them in Old Japan," resumed the first speaker, "the experiment should be tried of putting ten or so of tiny holdings [282] under one control, and an attempt should be made to see what improved implements and further co-operation [283] can effect. I suppose the thing most needed on the mainland is working capital at a moderate rate. Think of 900 million yen of farmers' debt, much of it at 12 per cent. and some of it at 20 per cent.! I do not reckon the millions of prefectural, county and village debt. Of what value is it to raise the rice crop to 3 or 4 koku per tan (60 or 80 bushels per acre) [284] if the moneylender profits most? The farmers of Old Japan are undoubtedly losing land to the moneyed people. [285] Every year the number of farmers owning their own land decreases [286] and the number of tenants increases and more country people go to the towns. [287] And, as an official statement says, 'the physical condition of the army conscripts from the rural districts is always superior to that of the conscripts of the urban districts.'"

Some Western criticism of Japanese agriculture cannot be overlooked. [288] Criticism is naturally invited by (1) Page 365 Japanese devotion to what is in Western eyes an exotic crop—but owing to exceptional water supplies, favourable climatic conditions and acquired skill in cultivation, the best crop for all but the extreme north-east of Japan; [289] (2) the small portions in which much of that crop is grown—of necessity; (3) the primitive implements—not ill-adapted, however, to a primitive cultural system; (4) the non-utilisation of animal or mechanical power in a large part of the country—due as much to physical conditions as to lack of cheap capital; (5) what is spoken of as "the never-ending toil"—against which must be set the figures I have quoted showing the number of farmers who do not work on an average more than 4 or 5 days a week; and (6) the moderate total production compared with the number of producers—which must be considered in reference to the object of Japanese agriculture and in relation to a lower standard of living. Japanese agriculture, as we have seen, has shortcomings, many of which are being steadily met; but with all its shortcomings it does succeed in providing, for a vast population per square ri, subsistence in conditions which are in the main endurable and might be easily made better.

Paddy adjustment has clearly shown that paddies above the average size are more economically worked than small ones, but these adjusted paddies are on the plains and a large proportion of Japanese paddies have had to be made on uneven or hilly ground where physical conditions make it impossible for these rice fields to be anything else than small and irregular. Japanese agriculture is what it is and must largely remain what it is because Japan is geologically and climatically what it is, and because the social development of a large part of Japan is what it is. Comparisons with rice culture in Texas, California and Italy are usually made in forgetfulness of the fact that the rice fields there are generally on level fertile areas, in America sometimes on virgin soil. In Japan rice culture extends to poor unfavourable land because the people want to have Page 366 rice everywhere. [290] The Japanese have cultivated the same paddies for centuries, Some American rice land is thrown out of cultivation after a few years. In fertile localities the Japanese get twice the average crop. It must also be remembered that Japanese paddies often produce two crops, a crop of rice and an after-crop. Japanese technicians are well acquainted with Texan, Californian and Italian rice culture, and Japanese have tried rice production both in California and Texas.

"They talk of Texan and Italian rice culture," said one man who had been abroad on a mission of agricultural investigation, "but I found the comparative cost of rice production greater in Texas than in Japan. Some Japanese farmers who went to Texas were overcome by weeds because of dear labour. In Italian paddies, also, I saw many more weeds than in ours. It is rational, of course, for Americans and Italians to use improved machinery, for they have expensive labour conditions, but we have cheap labour. The Texans have large paddies because their land is cheap, but ours is dear. In these big paddies the water cannot be kept at two or three inches, as with us. It is necessarily five inches or so, too deep, and the soil temperature falls and they lose on the crops what they gain by the use of machinery. Further, it must be remembered that we are not producing our rice for export. It is a special kind for ourselves, which we like; [291] but foreigners would just as soon have any other sort. We have no call, therefore, to develop our rice culture in the same degree as our sericulture, which rests mainly on a valuable oversea trade."

"On this general question of improvement of implements and methods," said another member of our company, "we Page 367 must use machinery and combine farming management when industrial progress drives us to it; but why try to do it before we are compelled? Concerning horses, the difficulty which some farmers have in using them is the difficulty of feeding them economically. Concerning cereals, our consumption is not less than that of Germany, but Germany imports more than twice the cereals we do, so there would seem to be something to be said for our system."

[Illustration: ]


"Some revolutionising of Japanese farming is necessary, in combined threshing, for instance," the expert who had opened our discussion said. "This combined threshing is now seen in several districts, and combined threshing will be extended. But there is the objection to the threshing machine that it breaks the straw and thus spoils it for farmers' secondary industries. It should not be impossible to invent some way of avoiding this, but the threshing machine is also too heavy for narrow roads between paddies. It is difficult to deliver the crops to the machine in sufficient bulk. Necessity may show us ways, but small threshing machines are not so economical. Of course we must have much more co-operative buying of rural requirements, and certainly there is room in some places for the Western scythe made smaller, but our people, as you have seen, are dexterous with their extremely sharp, short sickle, and fodder is often cut on rather difficult slopes, from which it is not easy to descend loaded, with a scythe. Some foreigners who speak so positively about machinery for paddies, and for, I suppose, the sloping uplands to which our arable farming is relegated, do not really grasp the physical conditions of our agriculture. And they are always forgetting the warm dankness of our climate. Page 368 They forget, too, that implements for hand use are more efficient than machinery, and, if labour be cheap, more economical. They forget above all that we are of necessity a small-holdings country."

Is it such a bad thing to be a small-holdings country? Does the rural life of countries which are pre-eminently small-holding, like Denmark and Holland, compare so unfavourably with that of England? I wonder how much money has been sunk—most of it lost—during the past quarter of a century in attempts to increase small holdings in England.

"Because we have much remote, wild, uncultivated land," the speaker I have interrupted continued, "that is not to say that most of it, often at a high elevation, or sloping, or poor in quality, as well as remote, can be profitably broken up for paddies. Much of this land can be and ought to be utilised in one fashion or another, but we have found some experiments in this direction unprofitable, even when rice was dear. But it may be said, Why break up this wild land into paddies? Why not have nice grassy slopes for cattle as in Switzerland? But our experts have tried in vain to get grass established. The heavy rains and the heat enable the bamboo grass to overcome the new fodder grass we have sown. The first year the fodder grass grows nicely, but the second year the bamboo grass conquers. In Hokkaido and Saghalien we are conquering bamboo grass with fodder grass. The advice to go in largely for fruit ignores the fact of our steamy damp climate, which encourages sappy growth, disease and those insects which are so numerous in Japan. We cannot do much more than grow for home consumption."

"The advice to draw the cultivation of our small farms under group control has not always been profitable when followed by landlords," one who had not yet spoken remarked. "They have not always made more when they farmed themselves than when they let their land. All the world over, land workers do better for themselves than for others. Proposals further to capitalise farming which, with a rural exodus already going on, would have the effect of driving people off the land who are employed on it healthily Page 369 and with benefit to the social organism, do not seem to offer a more satisfactory situation for Japan. No country has shown itself less afraid of business combination than Japan, and the world owes as much to industry as to agriculture, and I am not in the least afraid of machinery and capital; but production is not our final aim. Production is to serve us; we are not to serve production. If people can live in self-respect on the land they are better off in many ways than if they are engaged in industry in some of its modern developments."

"The world is also better off," my interpreter in his notes records me as saying when I was pressed to state my opinion. "The day will come when the uselessness and waste of a certain proportion of industry and commerce will be realised, when the saving power of an export and import trade in unnecessary things will be questioned and when the cultivator of the ground will be restored to the place in social precedence he held in Old Japan. With him will rank the other real producers in art, literature and science, industry and commerce. The industrialisation of the West and its capitalistic system have not been so perfectly successful in their social results for it to be certain that Japan should be hurried more quickly in the industrial and capitalistic direction than she is travelling already. [292] If she takes time over her development, the final results may be better for her and for the world. I have not noticed that Japanese rural people who have departed from a simple way of life through the acquirement of many farms or the receipt of factory dividends have become worthier. On the question of the alleged over-population of rural Japan, one Japanese investigator has suggested to me that as many Page 370 as 20 per cent. could be advantageously spared from agricultural labour. But he was not himself an agriculturist or an ex-agriculturist. He was not even a rural resident. Further, he conceived his 20 per cent. as entering rural rather than urban industry.

"A great deal of afforestation and better use of a large proportion of forest land, much more co-operation for borrowing and buying, improved implements where improved implements can be profitably used, animal and mechanical power where they can be employed to advantage, paddy adjustment to the limit of the practical, more intelligent manuring, a wider use of better seeds, [293] the bringing in of new land which is capable of yielding a profit when an adequate expenditure is made upon it, a mental and physical education which is ever improving—all these, joined to better ways of life generally, are obvious avenues of improvement, in Northern Japan particularly, not to speak of Hokkaido. [294] But it is not so much the details of improvement that seem urgently to need attention. It is the general principles. I have been assured again and again by prefectural governors and agricultural experts—and in talking to a foreigner they would hardly be likely to exaggerate—that considered plans for the prevention of disastrous floods, for the breaking up of new land, for the provision of loans and for the development of public intelligence and well-being were hindered in their areas by lack of money alone. The degree to which rural improvements, with which the best interests of Japan now and in the future are bound up, may have been arrested and may still be arrested by erroneous conceptions of national progress and of the ends to which public energy and public funds [295] may be wisely devoted is Page 371 a matter for patriotic reflection. [296] No impression I have gained in Japan is sharper than an impression of ardent patriotism. For good or ill, patriotism is the outstanding Japanese virtue. What some patriots here and elsewhere do not seem to realise, however, is what a quiet, homely, everyday thing true patriotism is. The Japanese, with so many talents, so many natural and fortuitous advantages, and with opportunities, such as no other nation has enjoyed, of being able to profit by the social, economic and international experience of States that have bought their experience dearly and have much to rue, cannot fairly expect to be lightly judged by contemporaries or by history. If the course taken by Japan towards national greatness is at times uncertain, it is due no doubt to the fascinations of many will-o'-the-wisps. There can be one basis only for the enlightened judgment of the world on the Japanese people: the degree to which they are able to distinguish the true from the mediocre and the resolution and common-sense with which they take their own way."

"Our rural problems," a sober-minded young professor added, after one of those pauses which are usual in conversations in Japan, "is not a technical problem, not even an economic problem. It is, as you have realised, a sociological problem. It is bound up with the mental attitude of our people—and with the mental attitude of the whole world."


[273] A high authority assured me that 100 million yen (pre-War figures) could be laid out to advantage. A Japanese economist's comment was: "Why not touch on the extraordinary proportion of land owned by the Imperial Household and also by the State for military purposes?"

[274] In driving through what seemed to be one of the best streets in Sapporo, I noticed that some exceptionally large houses were the dwellings of the registered prostitutes. Each house had a large ground-floor window. Before it was a barrier about a yard high which cleared the ground, leaving a space of about another yard. Such of the public as were interested were able, therefore, to peer in without being identified from the street, for only their legs and feet were visible. In Tokyo and elsewhere this exhibition of girls to the public has ceased. The place of the girls is taken by enlarged framed photographs. I found on enquiry that the Sapporo houses are so well organised as to have their proprietors' association. At a little town like Obihiro an edifice was pointed out to me containing fifty or more women.

[275] The classification is 101,671 Protestants, 75,983 Roman Catholics and 36,265 Greek Church.

[276] "'Spade farming' is an apt designation of the system of farming or rather of cultivation, for little is done in the way of raising stock."—Professor Yokoi.

[277] See Appendix XXX.

[278] But surely the basic reason against a large emigration of farmers and artisans to Formosa, or to Manchuria, Mongolia or Korea, with the intention of working at their callings, is that the standard of living is lower there? The chief attraction of America and Australasia is that the standard of living is higher. The question of over-population must be considered in relation to the facts in Appendices XXV, XXX and LXXX, and on page 331. It is not established that the Japanese have now, or are likely to have in the near future, a pressing need to emigrate.

[279] See Appendix LXXII.

[280] See Appendix LXXIII.

[281] See Appendix LXXIV.

[282] Between 1909 and 1918 the average area of holdings rose from 1.03 to 1.09 chō or from 2.52 to 2.67 acres or 1.02 to 1.08 hectares.

[283] There were in 1919 some 13,000 co-operative societies of all sorts. The number increases about 500 a year.

[284] For rise in production per tan, see Appendix LXXV.

[285] See Appendix LXXVI.

[286] See Appendix LXXVII.

[287] See Appendix LXXVIII.

[288] See, for example, C.V. Sale in the Transactions of the Society of Arts, 1907, and J.M. McCaleb in the Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan, 1916.

[289] For the question, is rice the right crop for Japan? See Appendix LXXIX.

[290] Dr. Yahagi in an address delivered in Italy pointed out to his audience that Japan had 15 times as large an area under rice as Italy and that, while the Italian harvest ranged between 42 and 83 hectolitres per hectare, the Japanese ranged between 55 and 130. The area under rice in the United States in 1920 was 1,337,000 acres and the yield 53,710,000 bushels. The area under rice has steadily increased since 1913, when it was only 25,744,000 bushels.

[291] A well-informed Japanese who read this Chapter doubted the ability of his countrymen to distinguish between native and Korean, Californian or Texan rice. Saigon is another matter. See Appendix XXIV.

[292] "Some of our statesmen," notes a Japanese reader of this Chapter, "are carried away by ideas of an industrial El Dorado." Such men have no understanding of the relation of rural Japan to the national welfare. They are as blind guides as the Japanese who, caught by the glamour of the West, threw away the artistic treasures of their forefathers and pulled down beautiful temples and yashiki. Japan has much to gain from a wise and just industrial system, but not a little of the present industrialisation is an exploitation of cheap labour, a destruction of craftsmanship and social obligation, and an attempt to cut out the foreigner by the production of rubbish.

[293] The chairman of Rothamsted declares as I write that the standard of English farming could be raised 50 per cent. Hall and Voelcker have estimated that 20 million tons of farmyard manure made in the United Kingdom is wasted through avoidable causes.

[294] For a discussion of the question of inner colonisation versus foreign expansion, see Appendix LXXX.

[295] For figures bearing on the relative importance of agriculture, commerce and industry, see Appendix LXXXI. For armaments, see Appendix XXXIII.

[296] There are many Britons who now reflect that millions which have gone into Mesopotamia might have been better spent by the Ministries of Health and Education.



Page 372

The blessing of her sun-warmed days;
Her sea-spun cloak of wet;
Her pointing valleys, veiled in haze,
Where field and wood have met;
When we have gone our differing ways
These we shall not forget.
L.T., in The New East.



Page 373


The sermon was bad enough, but the appendix was abominable.—Mr. Bowdler.


THE INCOME OF A MINISTER OF STATE FROM THE LAND[I]. The speaker began by inheriting 3 chō (7½ acres). He farmed a chō of rice field and about a third of a chō of dry land. With rent from the part he let, with gains from the part he farmed and with interest on 2,000 yen spare capital, he had at end of the year a balance of 370 yen. With the money gained from year to year more and more land was bought. At the time of his talk with me he owned 8 chō. His net income, after deducting cost of living, was 1,200 yen (including 500 yen from the land that was let). In the future, when he farmed 7 chō (15½ acres), he believed that his balance would be 4,500 yen, which is the salary of a Governor! Or was, until the rise in prices when Governors' salaries were raised about another 1,000 yen, with an additional allowance of from 600 to 400 yen in the case of some prefectures. See also Appendix III.

"GETA" [II]. The geta is a flat piece of hard wood, about the length of the foot but a little wider, with two stumpy pieces fastened transversely below it. The foot maintains an uncertain and, in the case of a novice whose big toe has not been accustomed to separation from its fellows, a painful hold by means of a toe strap of thick rope or cotton. To persons unused from childhood to the special toe grip and scuffle of the geta, it seems odd to associate with this difficult clattering footgear the idea of "luxury." But no pains are spared by the geta makers in choosing fine woods and pretty cords.

BUDGETS OF LARGE PROPERTY OWNERS [III]. Two landlords, A and B, kindly allowed me to look into their budgets:


80 chō of rural land320,000 yen
20 chō of rural land60,000 yen
20,000 tsubo of city land130,000 yen
Negotiable instruments150,000 yen
Dwelling and furniture150,000 yen
Total property810,000 yen

Page 374


Expenditure of Past Year
Food and drink1,350
Social intercourse1,500
Public benefit800



owns 62 chō 4 tan and receives in rent 623 koku 7 to. Members of family, 11; servants, 8.


Expenditure of Past Year
Food and drink (18 sen each per day for
members of family; 13 sen each for servants)
Education (3 middle-school boys at 20 yen per month;
3 primary-school boys and girls at 2 yen)
Social intercourse120
Amusements (journey, 100 yen; summer trip, 231;
others, 50)
Miscellaneous (servants, 480 yen; medicine, 150;
other things, 150)


THE "BENJO" [IV]. I never noticed a case in which earth was thrown into the domestic closet tub according to Dr. Poore's system. I have come across attempts to use deodorisers, but the application of a germicide is inhibited because of the injury which would be caused to the crops. Farmers are chary about removing night soil which has been treated even with a deodoriser. I ventured to suggest more than once that Japanese science should be equal to evolving a deodoriser to which the farmer, who in Japan seems to be so easily directed, could have no objection. The drawback to using Dr. Poore's system is that the added earth would greatly increase the weight of the substance to be removed. There would be the same objection to the use of hibachi ash (charcoal ash), but there is not enough produced to have any sensible effect. The truth is that there is no lively interest in the question of getting rid Page 375 of the stink for everyone has become accustomed to it. The odour from the benjo—the politer word is habakari—which is always indoors, though at the end of the engawa (verandah), often penetrates the house. (Engawa [edge or border] is the passage which faces to the open; roka is a passage inside a house between two rooms or sometimes a bridgelike passage in the open, connecting two separate buildings or parts of a house.) Emptying day is particularly trying. This much must be said, however, that the farmers' tubs are washed, scrubbed and sunned after every journey and have close-fitting lids. And primitive though the benjo is, it is scrupulously clean. Also, if it is always more or less smelly, it is contrived on sound hygienic principles. There is no seat requiring an unnatural position. The user squats over an opening in the floor about 2 ft. long by 6 ins. wide. This opening is encased by a simple porcelain fitting with a hood at the end facing the user. The top of the tub is some distance below the floor. In peasants' houses there is no porcelain fitting. Manure is so valuable in Japan that farmers whose land adjoins the road often build a benjo for the use of passers-by. Although the traveller in Japan has much to endure from the unpleasant odour due to the thrifty utilisation of excreta, the Japanese deserve credit for the fact that their countryside is never fouled in the disgusting fashion which proves many of our rural folk to be behind the primitive standard of civilisation set up in Deuteronomy (chap, xxiii. 13). The Western rural sociologist is not inclined to criticise the sanitary methods of Japan. He is too conscious of the neglect in the West to study thoroughly the grave question of sewage disposal in relation to the needs of our crops and the cost of nitrogenous fertilisers. See also Appendix XX.

AGRICULTURAL SCHOOLS [V]. In Mr. Yamasaki's school there was dormitory accommodation for 200 youths, some 40 lived in teachers' houses, another 15 were in lodgings, and 45 came daily from their parents' homes. Lads were admitted from 14 to 16 and the course was for 3 years. The students worked 30 hours weekly indoors and the rest of their time outside. Upper and lower grade agricultural schools number 280 with 23,000 students. In addition there are 7,908 agricultural continuation schools with more than 430,000 pupils. The ratio of illiteracy in Japan for men of conscription age (that is, excluding old people and young people), which had been over 5 per cent. up to 1911, was reported to be only 2 per cent. in 1917.

Page 376  
CRIME [VI]. In 1916 the chief offences in Japan were:

Dealt with at police station   445,502
Gambling and lotteries81,649
Fraud and usurpation49,772
Accidental assaults3,277
Wilful injury2,032
Official disgrace481
Military and naval387

PROSTITUTES [VII]. The chief of police was good enough to let me have a copy of the form to be filled up by girls desiring to enter the houses in the prefecture. It is under nine heads: 1. The reason for adopting the profession. 2. Age. 3. Permission of head of household. If permission is not forthcoming, reason why. 4. If a minor, proof of permission. 5. House at which the girl is going to "work." 6. Home address. 7. Former means of getting a living. 8. Whether prostitute before. If so, particulars. 9. Other details.

When I was in Japan there were reputed to be about 50,000 joro (prostitutes), about half that number of geisha and about 35,000 "waitresses."

PHILANTHROPIC AGENCIES [VIII]. In 1917 the number of paupers, tramps and foundlings relieved by the State did not exceed 10,000. The number of institutions was 730 (of which 40 were run by foreigners), with the expenditure of about 5½ million yen.

CHANGES IN RURAL STATUS [IX]. It seemed that during 47 years 18 tenants had become peasant proprietors, 14 peasant proprietors had become landowners (that is men who make their living by letting land rather than by working it), 8 tenants had stepped straightway into the position of landowners, 7 landowners had fallen to the grade of peasant proprietors and 7 more to that of tenants, while 114 householders had changed their callings or had gone to Hokkaido.

HOURS OF WORK PER DAY [X]. One of these villages showed that during January and February it worked 6 hours, during March and April 8 hours, from May to August 12½ hours, during September and October 9½ hours, and during November and December 9 hours. There was a further record of labour at night. In January and February it worked from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., during March and April and September and October Page 377 from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. and in November and December from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. As in the period from May to August inclusive the day working hours were from 5 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., there then was no night labour.

DILIGENT PEOPLE AND OTHERS [XI]. The adults of the village were classified as follows: Diligent people, men 294, women 260; average workers, men 270, women 236; other people, men 242, women 191. One supposes that, in considering the women's activities, all that was estimated was the number of hours spent in agricultural work or in remunerative employment in the evening.

FARM AREAS AND DAYS WORKED IN THE YEAR [XII]. The information concerned three typical peasant proprietors, A, B and C, living in the same county. The areas of their land are given in tan:

 Where farmingPaddy DryHomesteadRented ChildrenParents
AIn hills6 3 1-3 2
BOn plain6.6 2.6.52 paddy 32
CNear town6 41- 3-

Next we are told the number of days that not only A, B and C but their wives and their parents worked and did not work during the year:

 Agriculture Domestic
and Festivals
Husbands{A25428 25652
{B23937 25-64
{C23149 19264
Wives{A23954 7-64
{B150128 26-64
{C141174 9-41
Fathers{A14447 851872
{B20569 40-51
{C-- ---
Mothers{A15324 6-20
{B82220 23-41
{C-- ---

It will be seen that men only were ill! [See next page.]

Page 378 For average of hours worked elsewhere, see page 232 and page 237.

FARMERS' EARNINGS AND SPENDINGS [XIII]. If the reader should feel that the following details are lacking in comprehensiveness or definiteness, he should understand that reports of a national and authoritative character on the economic condition of the farmer were not available. There existed certain reports of the Ministry of Agriculture, but they were subjected to criticism. The National Agricultural Association had set on foot an elaborate enquiry as to the condition of the "middle farmer," but it was suggested that too much reliance was placed on arithmetical calculations and too little on known facts. I have had to rely, therefore, on official and private investigations made in various prefectures and villages, and I give a selection for what they are worth. Of the general condition of the agricultural population the reader is offered the impressions recorded in my different Chapters.

Incomes And Expenditures Of Peasant Proprietors.—

The incomes and expenditures of the three households referred to in Appendix XII were:

IncomeExpenditure Balance in hand
yenyen yen
A477449 28
B915838 77
C971703 68


Household Expenditures.—The household expenditures of the three families were, in yen:

 yenyen yen
Food192.76216.64 189.57
House2.322.24 1.20
Clothes18.7215.16 10.08
Fuel12.7213.53 21.00
Tools and furniture10.97 160.181.66
Social intercourse9.58 --6.05
Education1.56-- 4.15
Amusement3.302.03 18.00
Unforeseen7.8513.72 22.33
Miscellaneous6.437.71 11.15
____________ ______
266.21431.21 285.19

Page 379

It will be observed that the expenditure of B under the heading of furniture, 160 yen, is out of all proportion with the expenditures of A and C, 10 yen and 1 yen respectively. This is due to the fact that B had to provide a bride's chest for a daughter.

A balance sheet given me by a peasant proprietor in Aichi (5tan of two-crop paddy and 5 tan of upland) showed a balance in hand of 27 yen.

An agricultural expert said to me, "The peasant proprietors are the backbone of the country, but the condition of the backbone is not good. The peasant proprietors can make ends meet only by secondary employments." The expert showed me average figures for 18 farmers for 1891, 1900 and 1909. The average land of these men was a little over a chō of paddy and 5 tan of upland and some woodland. They had spent 39, 63 and 86 yen on artificial manures as against 100, 153 and 204 yen on food. The balance at the end of the year for the three years respectively was 27, 40 and 29 yen. "The figures reflect the general condition," I was told.

Incomes and Expenditures of Tenants.—I may also note the circumstances of the largest and of the smallest tenant in an Aichi village I visited. The largest tenant family showed a balance in hand, 93 yen; the smallest tenant, 23 yen.

The accounts of 16 tenants for 1891 showed an average sum of 3 yen in hand at the end of the year, for 1900 a loss of 5 yen and for 1909 a gain of 1 yen. These men had an average of 9 tan of paddy and 2 tan of upland. The man who gave me the data said that in the north-east of Japan "the condition of the tenants is miserable—eating almost cattle food." The only bright spot for tenants was that, as compared with peasant proprietors, they were free to change their holdings and even their business.

Incomes of Tenants and Peasant Proprietors (Shidzuoka).—One tenant, who pays 159 yen in rent and taxes, shows a total income of 374 yen and an expenditure of 538 yen, with a net loss of 164 yen. "Farmers of this class," notes the local expert on the memorandum he gave me, "are becoming poorer every year." This tenant spent 2 yen on medicine and 5 yen on tobacco. ("Nothing else for enjoyment," pencils the expert.) In addition to parents, a man, a woman and a girl of the family worked. Food cost 321 yen (cost of fish and meat, 4½ yen) and clothing 34 yen.

Page 380 In a "model village," where "the farmers are always diligent," a small tenant's income was 508 yen and expenditure 527 yen; loss, 19 yen. Clothes cost 95 yen and food 190 yen. (Cost of fish and meat, 4¾ yen.) There was an expenditure on medicine of 1½ yen and on tobacco and saké ("only enjoyment") 10 yen.

Twenty per cent, of the farmers, I was told, "lead a middle-class life and occupy a somewhat rational area of land." The budgets often of these men, who own their own land, show a balance of 85 yen. "If they were tenants they would not be in such a good condition." "We think the farmer ought to have 2 chō."

Budgets of Farmers on the Land of the Homma Clan, Yamagata (page 186).—A tenant had 3 chō of paddy and a small piece of vegetable land. There lived with him his wife, two sons and the widow and child of the eldest son. After paying his rent he had 30 koku of rice left. The cost of production and taxes, 100 yen or a little more, had to come out of that. This tenant had a debt of 250 yen.

A sturdy wagoner with a sturdy horse lived with his wife and three children and his old mother. He hired 1 chō for 28 koku of rice and his crop was 40 koku. He spent 30 yen on manure and 4 yen went in taxes.

A middle-grade farmer owned a house and a little more than 1 chō and rented 3 chō of paddy and a patch for vegetables. His rent was about 38 koku. He spent 100 yen on manure and 128 yen for taxes, temple dues and regulation of the paddy. He employed at 2½ koku a man who lived with the family, also temporary labour for 48 days. His crop might be 100 koku or more. He had no debt.

A third man was above the middle grade of farmer. His taxes were 240 yen and his manure bill 130 yen. His payment for paddy-field regulation, to continue for ten years, was 60 yen. He had three labourers and he also hired extra labour for 100 days. He had three unmarried sons of 40, 29 and 25. There were 260 yen of pensions in respect of the war service of one son and the death of another.


Income of Peasant Proprietors (Hokkaido).—The following statistics for the whole of Hokkaido are based on the experience of peasant proprietors. The 2½ chō men are rice Page 381 farmers—rice farming means farming with rice as the principal crop. The 5-chō men are engaged in mixed farming:


Farmer's AreaIncome
from Other
Total Cost of
Cost of
yenyen yenyenyen yenyen
2-1/2 chō366 43409107 27638227
5 chō441 33474119 30142352

It will be seen that mixed farming is the more profitable.


Income of Tenants (Hokkaido).—Professor Takaoka was kind enough to give me the following summaries of balance sheets of tenants of college lands in different parts of Hokkaido in 1915. (In all cases the accounts have been debited with wages for the farmer's family.)

Five chō. Income, 447 yen; net return, 37 yen. (Rye, wheat, oats, corn, soy, potatoes, grass, flax, buckwheat and rape. One horse and a few hens.)

Five chō. Income, 763 yen; net return, 58 yen. (Rye, wheat, oats, rape, soy, potatoes, corn, grass, flax and onions. Three cows, one horse.)

Ten chō. Income, 1,015 yen; net return, 122 yen. (Same crops with two cows and one horse and some hired labour.)

Five chō (peppermint on 3 chō). Income, 882 yen; net return, 93 yen.

Three chō. Income, 1,195 yen; net return, 332 yen. (Vegetable farming. 206 yen paid for labour.)

Thirty chō. Income, 1,979 yen; net return, 61 yen. (Mixed farming; 632 yen paid for labour.)

Model 5-chō farm without rice. Made 604 yen, and 107 yen net return, farm capital being 1,487 yen. (208 yen allowed for labour, interest 128 yen, amortisation 27 yen, and taxes 13 yen.)

Milk farmer, 12 chō and 90 cattle. Income, 12,280 yen; net return of 3,641 yen.

2,120 chō (1,235 forest, 402 pasture, 110 artificial grass and 42 crops; 111 cattle). Income, 66,205 yen; net return, 1,011 yen. (Milk and meat farming.)

Average income and expenditure of 200 tenants of University land whose budgets Professor Morimoto (see Chapter XXXIV) investigated:

Page 382

Crops     451.66
Wages earned 61.33
Horses 20.09
Poultry and eggs .96
Pigs .85
Manure (animal, 35 kwan; human, 14 koku  24.50
Other income 29.64
Cultivation, etc.206.32 
Cost of living303.33 
Profit 79.38


The returns of capital yielded the following averages:

Tenant right in respect of 5-16 chō750.82
Buildings (32.2 tsubo)195.95
Horse (average 1.23)108.48
Poultry (average 2.58)1.15
Pigs (average .12).87


VALUE OF NEW PADDY [XIV]. More delicious rice could be got, I was told, from well-fertilised barren land than from naturally fertile land. The first year the new paddy yielded per tan an average of 1.2 koku, the second 1.6, the third 2, and this fourth year the yield would have been 2.3 had it not been for damage by storm.

AREAS AND CROPS OF DIFFERENT KINDS OF RICE [XV]. In 1919 there was grown of paddy rice 2,984,750 chō (2,729,639 ordinary, 255,111 glutinous) and of upland rice 141,365 chō. Total, 3,126,115 chō. The yield (husked, uncleaned) was of paddy 61,343,403 koku (ordinary, 56,438,005; glutinous, 4,905,398); of upland, 1,839,312. Total, 63,182,715 koku; value, 2,352,145,519 yen.

In 1877 the area is reputed to have been 1,940,000 chō with a yield of 24,450,000 koku and in 1882 2,580,000 chō with a yield of 30,692,000 koku. The average of the five years 1910-14 was 3,033,000 chō with a yield of 57,006,000 koku; of the five years 1915-19, 3,081,867 chō with a yield of 94,817,431 koku.

Page 383 In a prefecture in south-western Japan I found that 2 koku 5 to (or 2½ koku, there being 10 to in a koku) per tan was common and that from 3 koku to 3 koku 5 to was reached. "A good yield for 1 tan," says an eminent authority, "is 3 koku, or on the best fields even 4 koku." The average yield in koku per tan for the whole country has been (paddy-field rice only): 1882, 1.19; 1894-8, 1.38; 1899-1903, 1.44; 1904-8, 1.57; 1909-13, 1.63; 1914-18, 1.86; 1919, 1.99; 1920, 2.05 (ordinary, 2.06; glutinous, 1.92). Upland rice in 1920, 1.30 as against 1.02 in 1909. All these figures are for husked, uncleaned rice.

BARLEY AND WHEAT CROPS [XVI]. The following table (average of five years, 1913-17) shows the yields per tan of the two sorts of barley and of wheat and the average yield all three together in comparison with the rice yield (all quantities husked):

 go go
Barley1,672     All three together1,307
Naked barley1,172     Rice1,808


Naked barley is grown as an upland crop, as are ordinary barley and wheat; but it is more largely grown as a second crop in paddies than either barley or wheat. The barleys are chiefly used for human food with or without rice. Wheat is eaten in macaroni, sweetstuffs and bread. It is also used in considerable quantities in the manufacture of soy, the chief ingredient of which is beans. There was imported in the year 1920 wheat to the value of 28½ million yen, and flour to the value of 3¼ million yen. Macaroni is largely made of buckwheat as well as of wheat. The other grain crop is millet, which is eaten by the poorest farmers. In 1918, as against 60 million koku of rice, there were grown 5 million koku of beans and peas. The crops of barley were 17 million, of wheat 6 million, of millet 3¼ million, and of buckwheat ¾ million. More than a million kwan of sweet potatoes were produced and nearly half a million of "Irish" potatoes. (The figures for barley and wheat are for 1919.)

COST AND PRICE OF RICE [XVII]. The annual figures (from Aichi) for the years 1894 to 1915 (page 384) show the cost of producing a tan of rice, that is the summer crop. The amounts per tan are calculated on the basis of the expenses of a tenant who is cropping 8 tan. The totals for the winter crop are also given. The figures which appear on the opposite page were described to me by the farmer concerned as "compiled on the basis of investigations by the chairman of the village agricultural association and by its managers and still further proved and quite trustworthy." It will be seen that the value of the winter crop is low; a secondary employment is usually a better thing for the farmer. In one or two places there is a sen or so difference in the additions which may have been made by the transcriber from the Japanese original. The difference in amounts of rent is due to difference in fields rented and also to reduction allowed owing to bad crops. The difference in the income from crops is usually due to destruction by hail or wind.

Page 384

COST AND PRICE OF RICE (see page 383)

Yield in koku
Reserved for Rent and Seeds (koku)
Market Price per koku (yen)
Gross Income including Straw and Chaff, not usually sold (yen)
Manures (yen)
Taxes and Amortisation of Implements (sen)
Total Outlay (yen)
Net Income from Summer Crop of Rice (yen)
Days of Labour on Summer Crop of Rice
Net Income from Winter Crop (?Barley)
Total Net Income from both Crops.
18942.231.05 7.669.812 212.217.60 2.52.5110.11
18952.131.05 8.098.712 212.266.45 21.52.488.92
18961.53.80 8.676.892.4 222.584.31 21.53.387.69
18971.881.05 11.5310.632.9 233.137.50 21.55.2212.72
18982.391.05 14.6221.133.2 253.4017.73 21.55.5023.23
18991.75.88 12.0511.483.8 304.117.37 212.229.99
19002.141.05 11.1113.244.1 314.408.84 214.2213.06
19012.101.05 10.5312.064 324.357.71 213.8711.58
19021.86.99 12.9912.403.1 383.518.89 214.1113
19032.061.04 12.5013.853.4 493.7910.05 21616.85
19042.241.03 12.20162.6 533.119.89 216.0615.95
19051.77.99 13.4211.602.1 462.559.05 216.6715.71
19061.961.05 15.1515 094 564.6110.49 215.7916.27
19071.981.14 16.3916.694.4 424.8311.84 218.6020.43
19082.211.14 14.2916.805.1 425.5411.26 2110.7922.05
19092.271.14 11.6314.393.7 994.649.75 2111.4921.24
19102.021.14 14.0913.374.5 805.278.51 2112.4120.91
19112.221.14 16.6719.724.4 785.1314.59 2113.4928.08
19122.02.90 21.7426.485.9 756.6019.88 21.53.7323.6
19132.311.14 20.8324.676.5 797.3017.37 21.512.6230
19142.481.14 12.5018.295.8 786.5311.75 21.511.5423.30
19152.361.20 11.7714.915.8 826.678.24 21.59.6718.91

This table may be supplemented by the following prices for (unpolished) rice in Tokyo: 1916, 13 yen 76 sen; 1917, 19 yen 84 sen; 1918, 32 yen 75 sen; 1919, 45 yen 99 sen.

Page 385 In the spring of 1921 the League for the Prevention of Sales of Rice ed that rice should not be sold under 35 yen per koku. The price passed the figure of 35 yen in July 1918. At the time the League's proposals were made the Ministry of Agriculture was quoted as stating that the cost of producing rice "is now 40 yen per koku." The accuracy of the figures on which the Ministry's estimates are made is frequently called in question.

CULTIVATED AREA IN JAPAN AND GREAT BRITAIN [XVIII]. In 1919 there were in Great Britain (England, Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands) 15,808,000 acres of arable, 15,910,000 of pasture and 13,647,000 of grazing, or a total of 45,365,000 acres out of a total area of 56,990,000 acres. In Japan there were 15,044,202 acres of paddy and of cultivated upland, 46,958,000 acres of forest and 8,773,000 acres of waste; total 70,775,000, out of 90,880,000 acres. The area of the United Kingdom without Ireland is 56,990,080 acres; that of Japan Proper, 75,988,378 acres. The population of the United Kingdom without Ireland (in 1911) was 41,126,000, and of Japan Proper (in 1911) 51,435,000. (See also Appendix XXX.)

HUMAN LABOUR v. CATTLE POWER [XIX]. The Department of Agriculture stated in 1921 that "from 200 to 300, sometimes more than 500 days' labour [of one man] are required to grow a chō of rice." The area of paddy which is ploughed by horse or cattle power was 61.89 per cent. The area of upland so cultivated was only 38.97 per cent. The "average year's work of the ordinary adult farmer" was put at Page 386 200 days. The Department estimated an average man's day's work (10 hours) as follows:

Nature of WorkTools used Output by one Man per Day
Tillage of paddyKuwa (mattock) 0.06
    "     "     " Fumi-guwa (heavy spade)0.1-0.15
Transplanting riceHand work 0.07-0.1
WeedingSickle and weeding tools 0.1
Cutting the rice cropSickle 0.1-0.15
Mowing grassSickle (long handle) 0.5
    "       " Scythe0.5

But I have never seen a scythe in use in Japan!

MANURE [XX]. The value of the manure used in Japan in a year has been estimated at about 220 million yen, but for the three years ending 1916 it averaged 241 millions, as follows:

Produced or obtained
by the Farmer
 yen   yen
Compost63,500,000 Bean cake32,000,000
Human waste54,000,000 Mixed17,000,000
Green manure9,600,000 Miscellaneous16,000,000
Rice chaff5,000,000 Sulphate of ammonia15,000,000
  Superphosphate 12,000,000
  Fish waste 12,000,000

Dr. Sato puts the artificial manure used per tan at a sixth of that of Belgium and a quarter of that of Great Britain and Germany. See also Appendix IV. An agricultural expert once said to me, "Japanese farmer he keep five head of stock, his own family."

SOWING OF RICE [XXI]. A common seeding time is the eighty-eighth day of the year according to the old calendar, say May 1 or 2. Transplanting is very usual at the end of May or early in June. In Kagawa, Shikoku, I found that rice was sown at the beginning of May or even at the end of April, the transplanting being done in mid-June. The harvest was obtained 10 per cent. about September 10th, 30 per cent. in October and 60 per cent. about the beginning of November. The winter crop of naked barley was sown in the first quarter of December and was harvested late in May or early in June, so there was just time for the rice planting in mid-June.

In Kochi the first crop is sown about March 15, the seedlings Page 387 are put out in mid-May and the harvest is ready about August 10. The second crop, which has been sown in June, is ready with its seedlings from August 13 to August 15, and the harvest arrives about November 1 and 2. The first crop may yield about 3 koku, the second 1½ koku.

A good deal depends in raising a big crop on a good seed bed. This is got by reducing the quantity of seed used and by applying manure wisely. Whereas formerly as much as from 5 to 7 go of seed was sown per tsubo, the biggest crops are now got from 1 go.

The Japanese names of the most widely grown varieties are Shinriki, Aikoku, Omachi, Chikusei and Sekitori. At an experiment station I copied the names of the varieties on exhibition there: Banzai, Patriotism, Japanese Embroidery, Good-looking, Early Power of God, Bamboo, Small Embroidery, Power of God, Mutual Virtue, Yellow Bamboo, Late White, Power of God (glutinous), Silver Rice Cake and Eternal Rice Field.

There are several thousand chō in the vicinity of Tokyo where, owing to the low temperature of the marshy soil, the seed is sown direct in the paddies, not broadcast but at regular intervals and in thrice or four times the normal quantities.

RATE OF PLANTING [XXII]. I have been told that an adult who has the seedlings brought to his or her hand can stick in a thousand an hour. The early varieties may be set in clumps of seven or eight plants; middle-growth sorts may contain from five to six; the latest kind may include only three or four. The number of clumps planted may be 42 per tsubo, which, as a tsubo is nearly four square yards, is about ten per square yard. The clumps are put in their places by being pushed into the mud. A straight line is kept by means of a rope. The success of the crop depends in no small degree on skilful planting.

HOW MUCH RICE DOES A JAPANESE EAT? [XXIII]. The daily consumption of rice per head, counting young and old, is nearly 3 go. (A go is roughly a third of a pint.) A sturdy labourer will consume at least 5 go in a day, and sometimes 7 or even 10 go. The allowance for soldiers is 6 go. These quantities represent the rice uncooked. In recent years more and more rice has been eaten by those who formerly ate barley or mainly barley. And some who once ate a good deal of millet and hiye are now eating a certain amount of rice. Page 388 The average annual consumption per head of the Japanese population (Korea and Formosa excluded from the calculation) was: 1888-93, 948 go; 1908-13, 1,037 go; 1913-18, 1,050 go. The averages of 25 years (1888-1912) were: production, 42,756,584 koku; consumption, 44,410,725 koku; deficit, 1,984,970 koku; population, 45,140,094; per head, 0.980 koku. In 1921 the Department of Agriculture, estimating a population of 55,960,000 (see Appendix XXX) and an annual consumption per head of 1.1 koku per year, put the national consumption for a year at about 61,550,000 koku. See also Appendix XXVI.

IMPORTED AND EXPORTED RICE [XXIV]. "Good rice" is imported from Korea and Formosa. The objection is to "Rangoon" rice. But most of the imported rice does not come from Rangoon but from Saigon. The figures for 1919 were in yen: China, 283,011; British India, 1,012,979; Kwantung, 15,053,977; Siam, 29,367,430; French Indo-China, 116,313,525; other countries, 39,918; total, 162,070,840. The exports in 1919 were in yen: China, 1,354; Australia, 6,570; Asiatic Russia, 165,463; Kwantung, 213,633; British America, 356,600; United States, 476,756; Hawaii, 3,046,598; other countries, 60,707—all obviously in the main for Japanese consumption. The total imports and exports were in koku and yen over a period of years:

YearImports Exports
KokuValue (yen) KokuValue (yen)
1909 1,325,24313,585,817  422,5135,867,290
1910918,6278,644,439 429,2515,900,477
19111,719,56611,721,085 216,1983,940,541
19122,234,43730,193,481 208,4234,367,824
19133,637,26948,472,304 204,0024,372,979
19142,022,64424,823,933 260,7384,974,108
1915457,6064,886,125 662,6299,676,969
1916309,1583,087,616 686,47911,197,356
1917564,3766,513,373 769,129 14,662,546
19184,647,16889,755,678 264,5658,321,965
19194,642,382 162,070,840 95,2194,327,690
1920471,08318,059,194 116,2495,897,675

The twenty-five years' average (1888-1912) of excess of import over export was 1,339,493 koku. See also Appendix XXVIII.

Page 389  

 18821913Percentage of
1918Percentage of
Population 36,700,000 53,362,000 4566,851,00055
Rice crop (koku)30,692,000 50,222,0006353,893,000 75

[Footnote A: 1882-1918. The degree to which the increase in production will be maintained is of course a matter for discussion. As far as rice is concerned, it must be borne in mind that there is an increasing consumption per head.]

FARMERS' DIET [XXVI]. It is officially stated in 1921 that "the common farm diet consists of a mixture of cooked rice and barley as the principal food with vegetables and occasionally fish." The barley is what is known as naked barley. Ordinary barley is eaten in northern Japan, but two-thirds of the barley eaten elsewhere is the wheat-like naked barley, which cannot be grown in Fukushima and the north. The husking of ordinary barley is hard work. The young men do it during the night when it is cool. They keep on until cock-crow. Their songs and the sound of their mallets make a memorable impression as one passes through a village on a moonlight night. Another substitute for rice beyond millet is hiye (panic grass). In the south it is regarded as a weed of the paddies, but in the north many tan are planted with this heavy-yielding small grain.

TAXATION [XXVII]. Before 1906 national taxation was 2.5 per cent. of the legal price of land. In 1900 it was 3.3 per cent., in 1904 5.5 per cent., in 1911 4.7 per cent, and in 1915 4.5 per cent. But local taxation increased in greater proportion.

FLAVOUR OF RICE AND PRICE FLUCTUATIONS [XXVIII]. Japanese rice has a fatty flavour which the people of Japan like. Therefore the native rice commands a higher price in Japan than Chinese or Indian rice. With the exception of a small quantity exported to Japanese abroad, Japanese rice is consumed in Japan. The supply of it and the demand for it are exclusively a Japanese affair. Naturally, when the crop fails the price soars, and when there is a superabundant harvest the price comes down to the level of foreign rice. Here is the secret of the enormous fluctuations in the price of Page 390 Japanese rice with which the authorities have so often endeavoured to cope.

The Government granary plan is the third big effort of authority to manage rice prices. The Okuma Government, under the administration of which rice went down to 14 yen per koku, had a Commission to raise prices. The Terauchi Ministry, at a time when prices rose, touching 55 yen, had a Commission to bring prices down.

AREA AND CLIMATE [XXIX]. Japan Proper comprises a main island, three other large islands in sight of the main island, and archipelagos—4,000 islets have been counted. The main island, Honshu, with Shikoku behind it, lies off the coast of Korea; the next largest and northernmost island, Hokkaido, off the coast of Siberia, and the remaining sizeable island and the southernmost, Kyushu, off the coast of China over against the mouth of the Yangtse. The area of this territory, that is of Japan before the acquirement of Formosa, Korea, southern Saghalien and part of Manchuria, is about 142,000 square miles in area, which is that of Great Britain in possession not of one Wales but of four, or nearly 1 per cent. of the area of Asia. But there are several million more people in Japan than there are inhabitants of Great Britain and thrice as many as there are Britons in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and India. (See also Appendix XXX.) Japan, which lies between the latitudes of Cairo and the Crimea, may be said to consist of mountains, of which fifty are active volcanoes, with some land, either hilly or boggy, at the foot of them. It is nowhere more than 200 miles across and in one place is only 50. A note on the ocean currents which exercise an influence on agriculture will be found on page 195. The protection afforded to the eastern prefectures by mountain ranges is obvious. Generally the summer temperature of Japan is higher and the winter temperature is lower than is recorded in Europe and America within the same latitudes.

"The mild climate and abundant rainfall," says the Department of Agriculture, "stimulate a luxuriant forest development throughout the country which in turn provides ample fountain heads for rivers. The rivers and streams run in all directions, affording opportunity for irrigation all over the country. The insular position of the country renders its humidity high and its rainfall abundant when compared with Continental Page 391 countries. The rainy season prevails during the months of June and July, making this season risky for the harvest of wheat and barley; on the other hand it affords a beneficent irrigation supply to paddy-grown rice, which is the most important crop. The characteristic feature of the climate in the greater part of the islands is the frequency of storms in the months of August and September. As the flowers of the rice plant commence to bloom during the same period, these late summer storms cause much damage."

The weather in Tokyo in 1918 was as follows:

Jan.Feb. Mar.Apl.May JuneJulyAug. Sept.Oct.Nov. Dec.
Rain and
snow (mm.)
10 65163108 123149 8278202 13514280
Temp. (C.)1.63.6 6.711.716.7 22.616.010.4 3.9

The varied climate of Japan is indicated by the following statistics for centres as far distant as Nagasaki in the extreme south-west and Sapporo in Hokkaido:

 NagasakiKyotoTokyo NiigataAomoriSapporo
Days of rain or snow179176 144218229216
Average temp. (C.)14.913.6 13.812.59.47.3
Maximum36.737.2 36.639.136.033.4
Minimum5.611.9 8.19.719.0 25.6

The italicised temperatures are below zero. Average dates of last frost: Tokyo, April 6; Nagoya, April 13; Matsumoto, May 17.

POPULATION OF JAPAN, MANCHURIA AND MONGOLIA [XXX]. The population of the Empire according to the 1920 census was 77,005,510, which included Korea, 17,284,207; Formosa, 3,654,398; Saghalien, 105,765; and South Manchuria (that is, the Kwantung Peninsula), 80,000. In Old Japan (Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu with the near islands, and Loo-choos and Bonins) there were 53,602,043, and in Hokkaido (including Kuriles) 2,359,097.

Page 392 Tokyo is the largest city, 2,173,000, followed by Osaka, 1,252,000. Kobe and Kyoto have a little more than half a million; Nagoya and Yokohama four hundred thousand apiece. Ten other cities have a hundred thousand odd.

In the following table the populations and areas of Japan, Great Britain and the United States are compared:

CountryAreaPopulation Population
per sq. mile
Japan (excluding Korea,
Formosa and Saghalien)
142,00055,961,140 (1920)394
British Isles121,636 47,306,664[*] (1921)388
United States (excluding Alaska
and oversea possessions)
3,000,000105,683,108 (1920)35

* Ireland taken at 1911 census figures.

Japan's 394 per square mile is lowered by the population of Hokkaido (2,359,097), which is only 66 per square mile. The population of the three chief Japanese islands is: Honshu, the mainland (41,806,930), 471; Shikoku (3,066,890), 423; and Kyushu (8,729,088), 511. (These figures are for 1920.) "As regards density per square kilometre," writes an official of the Imperial Bureau of Statistics in the Japan Year-book, with the figures antecedent to the 1920 census before him, "it is calculated at 140 for Japan and this compares as follows with Belgium (1910) 252, England and Wales (1911) 239, Holland (1909) 171, Italy (1911) 121, Germany (1910) 120 and France 44. When comparison is made on the basis of habitable area Japan may be considered to surpass all as to density, for while in Japan it constitutes only 19 per cent, of the total area, the ratio is as high as 74 for Belgium, 73 for England and Wales, 67 for Holland, 76 for Italy, 65 for Germany and 70 for France." The Professor of Agricultural Science at Tokyo University says: "The area under cultivation, even in the densely populated parts, is comparatively smaller than in any other country."

In a statement issued in 1921 the Department of Agriculture reckoned the population at 145 per square kilometre and recorded the mean rate of increase "in recent years" as 12.06 per 1,000. It stated that the density of the rural population was 44 per square kilometre or 9.42 per hectare of arable, in Page 393 other words that the density "is higher than that of France, Belgium, Switzerland and some other countries where the agriculture is marked by fairly intensive methods." Mr. Nikaido, of the Bureau of Statistics, writes in the Japan Year-book that the annual increase of Japan's population was 14.78 per 1,000 for 1909-13 and 12.06 for 1914-18, "a rate greater than in any civilised country, with the exception of Germany and Rumania in the pre-War years."

The birth rate is high, but so is the mortality. The death rate of minors is thrice that of Germany and Great Britain. Here the increasing industrialisation of the country is no doubt playing its part. The ratio of still births has steadily risen since the eighties. The ratio of births, other than still births, per 1,000 of population, which in 1889-93 was 28.6, increased by 1909-13 to 33.7; but the death rate fell only from 21.1 to 20.6. The ratio of unmarried, 63.22 in 1893, was 66.22 in 1918.

The following figures for Japan Proper are printed by the Financial and Economic Annual, issued by the Department of Finance:

Year.Total. Annual Increase
of Population
Average Increase
per 1,000 Inhabitants.
191050,716,600-- 14.09}14.21
191151,435,400 718,80014.17
191252,167,000731,600 14.22
191352,911,800 744,80014.28
191453,668,600756,800 14.30
191554,448,200779,600 14.53}14.50
191655,235,000786,800 14.45
191756,035,100800,100 14.49
191856,851,300816,200 14.57
191957,673,938822,638 14.47
192055,961,140-- -- 


It will be seen that for the year 1920 there was a big drop. The population of 55,961,140 for the year 1920 is the actual population as returned by the census; the figures of the preceding years are "based," it is explained to me, "on the local registrars' entries. The national census has demonstrated that the figures were larger than the actual number of inhabitants, the discrepancies being partly due to erroneous and duplicate registration and partly to the exodus of persons to the colonies or foreign countries whilst retaining their legal domiciles at home. But the table serves to show the rate of increase." A million and three-quarters is a substantial figure, Page 394 however, to account for in this way. It would seem reasonable to suppose that the increased cost of living, marriage at a later age than formerly and increased mortality due directly or indirectly to the factory system have arrested the rate of increase of the population in recent years. For trustworthy figures of the Japanese population we must await the next census and compare its figures with those of the 1920 census, the first to be taken scientifically.

A considerable part of Japan is uninhabitable. Of how much of the British Isles can this be said? The fact that there are in Japan fifty more or less active volcanoes, about a thousand hot springs and two dozen mountains between 12,000 and 8,000 ft. high speaks for itself. Ben Nevis is only 4,400, Snowdon only 3,500 ft.

The population of Korea in 1920 (17,284,207) was 239 per square mile. According to Whitaker for 1921 the population of Manchuria (11 millions) is 30 per square mile, and of Mongolia (3 millions) 2.8.


YearBelow 5 tan Over 5 tan Over 1 chō Over 2 chō Over 3 chō Over 5 chō
190837.2832.61 19.516.443.01 1.15
191237.1433.25 19.615.962.83 1.21
191835.5433.30 20.706.332.82 1.31
191935.3633.18 20.686.212.83 1.74

See also Appendix XLVII.

FORESTS [XXXII]. The following figures for 1918 show, in thousand chō, the ownership of forests (bared tracts in brackets): Crown, 1,303 (89); State, 7,288 (392); prefectures, cities, towns and villages, 2,894 (1,383); temples and shrines, 111 (15); 7,186 (1,630); total, 18,782 (3,509). The largest yield is from sugi (cryptomeria), pine and hinoki (Charmae-cyparis obtusa).

ARMAMENTS [XXXIII]. 1,505 million yen of the national debt is for armaments and military purposes against 923 million yen for reproductive undertakings (railways, harbours, drainage, roads, steelworks, mining, telephones, etc.), 143 million for exploitation of Formosa, Korea and Saghalien, Page 395 123 million for financial adjustment and 98 million for feudal pensions and feudal debt. Of the expenditure for 1920-1, 846 million, some 395 million were for the army and navy. During a period of 130 years the United States Government has spent nearly four-fifths of its revenue on war or objects related to war.

LANDOWNING AND FARMING [XXXIV]. Before the Restoration the farmers were the tenants of the daimyos' vassals, the samurai, or of the daimyos direct. When the daimyos gave up their lands the Crown made the farmers the owners of the land they occupied. Its legal value was assessed and the national land tax was fixed at 3 per cent, and the local tax at 1 per cent. Various adjustments have since taken place.

The Japanese Constitutional Labour Party has insisted in a communication to the International Labour Conference at Geneva that Japanese tenant farmers are not properly called farmers but that they are "labourers pure and simple." See Appendix LXXVI.

STATE RAILWAYS [XXXV]. The railways, which were nationalised in 1907, extended in 1919 to 6,000 miles. There were also nearly 2,000 miles of light railways (in addition to 1,368 of electric street cars). Most of the lines are single track. The gauge is 3 ft. 6 in. The Government has proposed gradually to electrify the whole system.

ILLEGITIMACY [XXXVI]. In Japan illegitimacy is a question not of morals but of law. That is to say, it is a question of registration. If a husband omits to register his marriage he is not legally married. Thus it is possible for there to be born to a married pair a child which is technically illegitimate. If the child should die at an early age it is equally possible for it to appear on the official records as illegitimate. A birth must be registered within a fortnight. It may be thought perhaps that it is practicable for the father to register his marriage after the birth of the child and within the time allowed for registration. It is possible but it is not always easy. An application for the registration of the marriage of a man under twenty-five must bear the signature of his parents and the signature of two persons who testify that the required consent has been regularly obtained. In the event of a man's father having "retired," the signature of the head of the family must be secured. If Page 396 a man is over twenty-five, then the signatures of his parents or of any two relatives will suffice. Now suppose that a man is living at a distance from his birthplace or suppose that the head of his family is travelling. Plainly, there may be a difficulty in securing a certificate in time. Therefore, because, as has been explained, no moral obloquy attaches to unregistered marriage or to unregistered or legally illegitimate children, registration is often put off. When a man removes from one place to another and thereupon registers, it may be that his marriage and his children may be illegitimate in one place and legitimate in another. There is a difference between actual and legal domicile. A man may have his domicile in Tokyo but his citizen rights in his native village.

SAKÉ AND BEER [XXXVII]. Saké is sold in 1 or 2 go bottles at from 10 to 25 sen for 2 go. As it is cheaper to buy the liquor unbottled most people have it brought home in the original brewery tub. There are five sorts of saké: seishu (refined), dakushu (unrefined or muddy), shirozake (white saké), mirin (sweet saké) and shōchū (distilled saké). Saké may contain from 10 to 14 per cent. of alcohol; shōchū is stronger; mirin has been described as a liqueur. Japanese beers contain from 1 to 2 per cent. less alcohol than English beers and only about a quarter of the alcohol in saké. More than four-fifths of it is sold in bottles. Beer is replacing saké to some extent, but owing to the increase in the population of Japan the total consumption of saké (about 4,000,000 koku) remains practically the same. In 1919 beer and saké were exported to the value of 7,200,000 and 4,500,000 yen respectively.

MINERAL PRODUCTION [XXXVIII]. In 1919 the production was as follows: gold, 1,938,711 momme, value 9,681,494 yen; silver, 42,822,160 momme, value 11,131,861 yen; copper, 130,737,861 kin, value 67,581,475 yen; iron, steel and iron pyrites, 169,545,050 kwan, the value of the steel being 72,666,867 yen; coal, 31,271,093 metric tons, value 442,540,941 yen.

JAPAN AS SILK PRODUCER [XXXIX]. In exportation of silk, Japan, which in 1919 had under sericulture 8.6 of her total cultivated area and 17.1 per cent, of her upland, passed Italy in 1901 and China in 1910. Her exportation is now twice that of China. In production her total is thrice that of Italy. Page 397 France is a long way behind Italy. The production of China is an unknown quantity.

As to the advantages and drawbacks of Japan for sericulture the Department of Agriculture wrote in 1921: "Japan is not favourably placed, inasmuch as atmospheric changes are often very violent, and the air becomes damp in the silk-culture seasons. This is especially the case in the season of spring silkworms, for the cold is severe at the beginning and the air becomes excessively damp as the rainy season sets in. The intense heat in July and August, too, is very trying for the summer and autumn breeds. Compared with France and Italy, Japan seems to be heavily handicapped, but the abundance of mulberry leaves all over the land and the comparatively rich margin of spare labour among the farmers have proved great advantages."

The length of the sericultural season ranges from 54 days in spring to 31 or 32 days in autumn, but there are variations according to weather, methods and seed. The season begins with the incubation period. Then follows the rearing. Last is the period in which the caterpillars mount the little straw stacks provided for them in order that they may wind themselves into cocoons. I do not enter into the technics of the retardation and stimulation of seed in order to delay or to hasten the hatch according to the movements of the market. Hydrochloric and sulphuric-acid baths and electricity are used as stimulants; storage in "wind holes" is practised to defer hatching.

Cocoons are reckoned both by the kwan of 8¼ lbs. and by the koku of approximately 5 bushels. The cocoon production in 1918 worked out at about 16½ bushels per acre of mulberry or 18 bushels per family engaged in sericulture. About 34 million bushels of cocoons are produced. In 1919 the production was 270,800,000 kilos. The average production of a tambu of mulberry field was 1.356 koku. In 1919 a koku was worth on the average 106.81 yen (including double and waste cocoons). The cost of producing cocoons rose from 4.105 yen per kwamme in 1916 to 11.284 yen in 1920. The daily wages of labourers employed by the farmers rose from 62 sen for men and 47 sen for women in 1910 to 1 yen 93 sen for men and 1 yen 44 sen for women in 1920. With the slump, the price of cocoons fell below the cost of production and there was trouble in several districts when wages were due. The labourers engaged for the silk seasons of 1916 numbered 341,577, of whom 30,000 came from Page 398 other than their employers' prefectures. These people migrate from the early to the late districts and so manage to provide themselves with work during a considerable period. As many as 5½ per cent, of the persons engaged in the industry are labourers. Many employment agencies are engaged in supplying labour.

It has been estimated that the labour of 19.8 persons (200 per hectare) is needed for a tambu of mulberry field. The silkworms hatched from a card of eggs (laid by 100 moths) are supposed to call for the labour of 49.2 persons (1,456 per kilo, 2.204 lbs.)

The production of cocoons rose from 0.866 koku per card in 1914 to 1.105 in 1918, or from 4,412,000 to 6,832,000.

More than three-quarters of the raw silk produced used to be exported. Now, with the increase of factories in Japan (the figures are for 1918), only 67 per cent, goes abroad, the bulk of it to the United States, which obtained from Japan, in 1917-18, 75 per cent., and in 1919, it has been stated, 90 per cent, of its total supply. About 28 per cent, of the world's consumption is supplied by Japan. Whereas in 1915 the output of raw silk was 5,460,000 kwan valued at 217,746,000 yen, it was in 1918 7,891,000 kwan valued at 546,543,000 yen. While in 1915-16 the percentage of Japanese exporters to foreign exporters was 64-4, it had risen in 1919-20 to 77.5. Against 450 chō of mulberries in 1914 there were in 1918 508,993 chō. The total export of raw silk and silk textiles to all countries in 1920 was 382 and 158 million yen respectively. In 1919, 96 per cent. of the raw silk Japan exported went to the United States and 46 out of 101 million yens' worth of exported silk textiles (habutal). Japan's whole trade with the United States is worth 880 million yen a year. But the proportion of basins in the factories steadily increases. There are nearly five thousand factories, big and little. A well-informed correspondent writes to me: "You know of course of the big organisation subsidised by the Government to control prices and not to make too much silk. The truth is the silk interest became too powerful and the Government is not a free agent."

TUBERCULOSIS [XL]. Phthisis and tuberculosis sweep off 22 per cent, and bronchitis and inflammation of the lungs 18 per cent., or together more than a third of the population. See also Appendix LXIX.

Page 399  
WOMEN WORKERS [XLI]. In addition to women and girls working in agriculture, in the mines, in the factories and & trades there are said to be 1,200,000 in business and the public services. Teachers number about 52,000, nurses 33,000, midwives 28,000 and doctors 700.

FACTORY FOOD AND "DEFIANCE OF HYGIENIC RULES" [XLII]. Dr. Kuwata says in the Japan Year-book (1920-1) that "in cotton mills where machinery is run day and night it is not uncommon when business is brisk to put operatives to 18 hours' work. In such cases holidays are given only fortnightly or are entirely withheld. The silk factories in Naganoken generally put their operatives to 14 or 16 hours' work and in only a small portion are the hours 13."

Summarising a report of the Department of Agriculture and Commerce, he says of the factory workers: "The bulk of workers are female and are chiefly fed with boiled rice in 43 per cent. of the factories. In other factories the staple food is poor, the rice being mixed with cheaper barley, millet or sweet potato in the proportion of from 20 to 50 per cent. In most cases subsidiary dishes consist of vegetables, meat or beans being supplied on an average only eight times a month. Dormitories are in defiance of hygienic rules. In most cases only half to 1 tsubo (4 square yards) are allotted to one person." See also Appendix LXIX.

CHINESE COMPETITION WITH JAPAN [XLIII]. The Jiji called attention in the spring of 1921 to the way in which spinning mills in China were an increasing menace to Japanese industry. There were in China 810,000 spindles under Chinese management, 250,000 under European and 340,000 under Japanese, a total of 1,430,000, which will shortly be increased to 1,150,000 against 3,000,000 in Japan only 1,800,000 of which are at work. The 1919 return was: China, 1,530,000; Japan, 3,200,000.

HOODWINKING THE FOREIGNER [XLIV]. In the Manchester Guardian Japan Number, June 9, 1921, the managing director of a leading spinning company, in a page and a half article, states that among the reasons why a large capitalisation is needed by Japanese factories, beyond the fact of higher cost of machinery, is the "special protection needed for Japanese operatives and the special consideration given by the spinners to the happiness and welfare of their operatives." When will Japanese believe their best friends when they tell Page 400 them that such attempts to hoodwink the foreigner achieve no result but to cover themselves with ridicule?

TOBACCO [XLV]. In 1918-19 there was produced on 24,439 chō 10,308,089 kwan of tobacco. During the same period 9,681,274 kwan were taken by the Government, which paid 19,114,803 yen or 1.974 per kwan. In 1919 there was imported leaf tobacco to the value of 5,288,918 yen. Cigarettes to the value of 589,744 yen were exported. The profits of the Tobacco Monopoly, estimated at 71 millions for 1919-20, were estimated at 88 millions for 1920-1.

ELECTORAL OFFENCES [XLVI]. There were candidates at the 1920 election who spent 50,000 yen. It is not uncommon for the number of persons charged with election offences to reach four figures. The qualification for a vote (law of 1918) is the payment of 3 yen of national tax. Under the old law there were about 25 voters per 1,000 inhabitants; now there are 54.

SMALLNESS OF ESTATES [XLVII]. The number of men holding from 5 to 10 chō was, in 1919, 121,141 and between 10 and 50 chō, 45,978. The number holding 50 chō (125 acres) and upwards was only 4,226, and 400 or so of these were in Hokkaido. See also Appendix XXXI.

VEGETABLE WAX MAKING [XLVIII]. The wax-tree berries are flailed and then pounded. Next comes boiling. The mush obtained is put into a bag and that bag into a wooden press. The result is wax in its first state. A reboiling follows and then—the discovery of the method was made by a wax manufacturer while washing his hands—a slow dropping of the wax into water. What is taken out of the water is wax in a flaked state. It is dried, melted and poured into moulds. The best berries yield 13 per cent. of fine wax. The variety of wax grown was oro (yellow wax). There is another variety. The sort I saw is grafted at three years with its own variety. The fruitful period lasts for a quarter of a century. Roughly, the yield is 100 kwan per tan. Formerly, wax was made from wild trees.

NAMES FOR ETA [XLIX]. Eta (great defilement) is an offensive name. The phrase tokushu buraku (special villages), applied to Eta hamlets, is also objected to. Heimin is the official name, but the Eta are generally termed shin heimin (new common people), which is again regarded as invidiously distinguishing them. The name chihō is now officially Page 401 proposed for Eta villages. The fact that many Eta have made large sums during the war has somewhat improved the position of their class. Some Eta are well satisfied with their name and freely acknowledge their origin. Year by year intermarriage increases in Japan. A Home Department official has been quoted as saying that in 1918 as many as 450 marriages were registered between Eta and ordinary Japanese.

The population of the village I visited, 1,900 in 300 families, was getting its living as follows: farming 682, trade 185, industry 31, day labour 97, travelling players 180, not reported 180. The Parliamentary voters were 10, prefectural 17, county 19 and village 57. There were 98 ex-soldiers in the community and one man was a member of the local education committee. The birth rate was above the local average. The crimes committed during the year were: theft 2, gambling 2, assault 1, police offences 3. Of the 300 families only one was destitute, and it had been taken care of by the young women's society.

A considerable proportion of the early emigrants to America were Eta. It is now recognised that it was a short-sighted policy on the part of the authorities to allow them to go.

PAPER MAKING [L]. A paper-making outfit may cost from 60 to 70 yen only. The shrubs grown to produce bark for paper making are kōzo (the paper mulberry), mitsumata (Edgworthia chrysantha) and gampi (Wilkstroemia sikokiana). Someone has also hit on the idea of turning the bark of the ordinary mulberry to use in paper making.

LIBRARIES, THE PRESS AND THE CENSORSHIP [LI]. There are 1,200 libraries in the country with 4 million books and 8 million visitors in the year. About 47,000 books are published in a year, of which less than half, probably, are original works. From one to two hundred are translations, usually condensed translations. The largest number deal with politics. There are about 3,000 newspapers and periodicals. In 1917 some 1,200 issues of newspapers and periodicals attracted the attention of the censor and the sale of 600 books was prohibited. Some sixty foreign books were stopped.

JAPANESE IN BRAZIL [LII]. Emigration to South America has latterly been arrested through the rise in wages at home. During the past four years an average of about 3,000 families has gone every twelve months to Brazil, where about a quarter of a million acres are owned and leased by Page 402 Japanese. The Japanese Government spends 100,000 yen a year on giving a grant of 50 yen to each emigrating family up to 2,000 in number, through the Overseas Colonisation Company. The Brazilian Government also offers a gratuity.

CATTLE KEEPING IN SOUTH-WESTERN JAPAN [LIII]. Tajima, the old province which comprises about four counties in Tottori, is a large supplier of "Kobe beef," but it is a cattle-feeding not a grazing district. The number of cattle in Hyogo is double the cattle population of Tottori, but no cattle keeper has more than a score of beasts. The usual thing is for farmers to have two or three apiece. Some of the "Kobe beef" comes from the prefectures of Hiroshima and Okayama. It is in the north of Japan, where the people are not so thick on the ground and cultivation is less intense, that cattle production has its best chance.

VALUE OF LAND [LIV]. The value of land in the hill-village in which I stayed necessarily varied, but the average price of paddy was given me as 250 yen per tan. Dry land was half that. Open hill land, that is the so-called grass land, might be worth 120 yen. The rise in values which has taken place is illustrated by the following table of farm-land values per tan in 1919, published by the Bank of Japan:

 GoodOrdinary BadGoodOrdinary Bad
Hokkaido 231158 9511562 26
{North}802 579366477 295170
{Tokyo}863607 406673442 272
{middle}1,226 834523875 565313
{west}1,226 840525727 443244
Shikoku 1,120784 470752450 225
Kyushu 960652 416538300 175

FRUIT PRODUCTION [LV]. The Japanese when they do not eat meat do not feel the need of fruit which is experienced in the West. But there is now a steady increase in the fruit crops. For 1918 the figures were (in thousands of kwan): persimmons, 43,620; pears, 27,730; oranges, 73,660; peaches, 12,810; apples, 6,695; grapes, 6,240; plums (largely used pickled), 6,190.

JAPANESE STUDENTS ABROAD [LVI]. During 1921 more than 200 young professors or candidates for professorships were sent to Europe and America by the Ministry of Education. Page 403 Probably another 300 were studying on funds (£450 for a year plus fares is the grant which is made by the Ministry of Education) supplied by the Ministries of Agriculture, of Railways and of the Army and Navy (often supplemented, no doubt, by money furnished by their families). If to these students are added those sent by independent Universities, institutions, corporations and private firms, the total cannot be fewer than 1,000. The students stay from six months to two or three years, and when they return others take their places. Counting diplomatists, business men, tourists and students there are, of course, more Japanese in Great Britain than there are British in Japan. There are fifteen hundred Japanese in London alone.

TEA PRODUCTION [LVII]. Every prefecture but Aomori produces some tea, but very little is grown in the prefectures of the extreme north. The largest producers are in order: Shidzuoka, Miye, Nara, Kyoto, Kumamoto, Gifu, Kagoshima, Shiga, Saitama, Osaka and Ibariki. In 1919 Shidzuoka produced 4 million kwan, valued at nearly 13 million yen. But the statistics of tea production are unsatisfactory. Much tea is produced and sold locally which is unreported. A great deal of this is of inferior quality and produced from half-wild bushes. The 1919 figures are: area, 48,843 chō; number of factories, 1,122,164; green tea—sencha, 7,205,886 kwan; bancha, 2,580,035 kwan; gyokuro, 75,826 kwan; black, 50,756 kwan; others, 234,868 kwan; sencha dust, 249,862 kwan; other dust, 486 kwan. Total, 10,397,719 kwan; value, 33,377,460 yen. There was exported green tea (pan fired), 12,420,000 yen; green tea (basket fired), 4,575,000 yen; others, 1,405,000 yen. Of this there went to the United States consignments to the value of 15,600,000 yen and to Canada of 1,700,000 yen. In 1918 the export to America was 50,000 tons; in 1919, 30,000; and in 1920, 23,000; and a further decline is expected in 1921. The total exports, which were, in 1909, 62 per cent, of the production, were, in 1918, only 57 per cent, and, in 1919, 37 per cent.

THEINE PERCENTAGES.—The following percentages of theine in black and green tea were furnished me by the Department of Agriculture:

(Basket Fired)
(Pan Fired)
Black Oolong
Theine2.812.22 2.262.35
Tannin15.0814.29 7.3216.15

Page 404 Theine or caffeine is a feathery-looking substance which resembles the material of a silk-worm's cocoon. There is more theine or caffeine in tea leaves than in coffee.

MISTAKES IN CROP STATISTICS [LVIII]. Generally speaking, it may be said that cereals are under-estimated and cocoons over-estimated. Cereals may be 20 per cent. under-estimated. The under-estimation may no doubt be traced back to the time when taxation was on the basis of the grain yield.

OCCUPATIONS FOR THE BLIND [LIX]. A third of the 70,000 sightless are amma, about a quarter as many practise acupuncture and the application of the moxa, while nearly the same number are musicians or storytellers. The blind have petitioned the Diet to restrict the calling of amma to men and women who have lost their sight.

WELL SINKING FOR GAS [LX]. The presence of gas, which is odourless, is betrayed by the discoloration of the water from which it emanates and by bubbles.

HEALTH, HEIGHTS AND WEIGHTS OF SCHOOL CHILDREN [LXI]. In 1917-18 the constitutions of 1,193,000 elementary school boys were reported as 53 per cent. robust, 48 per cent. medium and 4 per cent. weak. The constitutions of 1,016,000 elementary school girls were reported 49 per cent. robust, 48 per cent. medium and 3 per cent. weak. Just as women are often underfed in Japan, girls may frequently be less well fed than boys. Elementary school boys of 16 averaged 4.84 shaku in height and 10.85 kwan in weight. The average height and weight of 512 elementary school girls of the same age were 4.71 shaku and 10.83 kwan.

HEIGHT AND WEIGHT OF WRESTLERS [LXII]. In a list of ten famous wrestlers the tallest is stated to be 6.30 shaku (a shaku is 11.93 inches) and the heaviest as 33.2 kwan (a kwan is 8.267 lbs.). The average height and weight of these men work out at 5.84 shaku and 28.4 kwan. By way of comparison it may be mentioned that the percentage of conscripts in 1918 over 5.5 shaku was 2.58 per cent. The average weight of Japanese is recorded as 13 kwan 830 momme.

EXEMPTION FROM AND AVOIDANCE OF CONSCRIPTION [LXIII]. The age is 20 and the service two years (with four years in reserve and ten years depot service). The only son of a parent over 60 unable to support himself or herself is Page 405 released. Middle school boys' service is postponed till they are 25. Students at higher schools and universities need not serve till 26 or 27. The service of young men abroad (i.e. elsewher